against anniversaries

mother-palestine-ror

i’ve been reading various articles and blog posts about the anniversary of the massacre of the palestinian refugee camp shatila and the surrounding neighborhood of sabra (no, sabra is not a refugee camp, but many palestinians live there). pulse media and falasteenyia both had nice posts on the subject. ma’an news posted a reflective piece on the zionist-kata’eb massacre of palestinians in 1982:

“That is the old Israeli watchtower and entrance to Sabra,” a man on the street pointed, standing in front of the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camps. Below the tower, quarantined like a civil war time capsule, were the camps left to fend for themselves on the outskirts of Beirut.

No more than 20 meters past the former Israeli watchtower, in an empty lot, is the memorial for the victims of the 1982 Lebanon Civil War massacre. Camp residents say the site was once a mass grave for the slain. The memorial was a single-track dirt path linking a series of billboards with images of the dead.

The massacre’s perpetrators were of the predominantly Christian Phalange party: supplied, supported and supervised by onlooking Israeli soldiers.

The Phalangist pogrom was clear. What was not, however, was the extent of the crime. At the time of the massacre, the Director of Israeli Military Intelligence said that between the days of September 16 and 18, 1982, a minimum of 700 “terrorists” had been killed. Yet, reporter for the Independent Robert Fisk wrote in his book, Pity the Nation, “Phalangist officers I knew in east Beirut told me that at least 2,000 ‘terrorists’ — women as well as men — had been killed in Chatila.” The real number, according to Fisk, is thought to be higher.

Leaving the mass grave memorial and moving into the open-air market of the Sabra camp, a bullet-ridden wall stands separating a camp dump from its market. In all likelihood the half-block dumping ground was once on the fringes of the camp, but not anymore. The camp had no urban planner, so it grew until the market fully encircled the awful collection of stench, sewage and a sore reminder that nobody really intended to be living in the Sabra camp some sixty years after the Nakba, the Palestinian exodus of 1948.

At the far end of the bullet-chafed wall stood a child of about ten years, a refugee. With little hesitation he immersed himself into the filthy heap, heaving his woven sack of valued rubbish over the rotting mounds. For all the archetypes of the poverty-ridden Palestinian refugee that exists in a foreigner’s consciousness, this is surely it. There was to be no school for this boy. No passport, no rights and no state.

Beyond the heap hung layers of political propaganda posters: A keffiyehed militant with the bold letters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine plastered next to a green-tinted portrait of Hamas’ founder Sheik Yassin with the party logo “Martyrs of Freedom & Victory;” a weathered PLO poster of Arafat; even one of a masked fighter on a tank, clutching a Kalashnikov with the brand of Islamic Jihad. And the posters were not just of Palestinian parties, but of the Lebanese Amal and Hezbollah as well. As a nearby shopkeeper who sold Hezbollah DVD’s put it, “The camp is mixed now… mixed with Palestinians and [Lebanese] Shias… United by resistance…”

Despite appearances, however, inside the Lebanese Army’s encirclement of the camp a surprisingly calm business-as-usual air prevailed. The streets weren’t crowded, but populated. The buyers, the sellers, and of course the children, were everywhere, looking to relieve the gnawing boredom of a lifetime’s confinement to the camp. “We are not allowed to leave [the camps],” one of the sellers said, “No papers.”

United resistance aside, the camp was in shambles. Everything the Lebanese government might do in Sabra and Shatila—urban planning, paving streets, coordinating an electrical grid, sewage—was left to the Palestinian residents. At the beginning, however, the camp played host to the bigwigs of the Palestinian leadership in the Palestine Liberation Organization, who organized camp life and connected the residents to the Palestinian struggle.

The powerful PLO, back in 1982, provided the motive of the massacre’s perpetrators, the Christian Phalange militia, who sought to take revenge against PLO leaders—which had in fact already fled Lebanon—for the alleged assassination of the Lebanese President-elect Bashir Gemayel. But the only people who remained in the camps that summer of 1982 were unarmed Palestinians.

What happened at Sabra and Shatila is still considered the bloodiest single event in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is also among the most egregious and underreported aspects of the Palestinian calamity to date.

On the anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacres, 16 September, the issue of the refugees and the right of return reaches again for the surface of Palestinian politics. With the newly-charged peace process being pushed by the United States, and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s recently released strategy to establish Palestinian state in two years, the issue of returnees has been subsumed by talk of settlements in the West Bank.

American efforts, and Fayyad’s plan focus more on securing infrastructure and borders than focusing on the estimated 500,000 refugees without rights in Lebanon, or the hundreds of thousands of others in Jordan, Syria, Iraq and in the Gulf.

Palestinians in the camps have a precarious relationship with the current peace initiatives, particularly the older generation who still recall the villages they fled in 1948 and 1967.

“Sure I would support Obama’s plan,” an old man reflects on the US President’s push for a two-state solution. “But what kind of solution is it? I have nothing in this West Bank… it would make me a foreigner in my own land… I would only go back to my village. And I don’t even know what is there now.”

He picks up an old hatchet from his coffee table and continues, “They [the Zionists] chased us and hit us on the head with these. I left my small village near Acre [Akko] because of it.”

ah yes the selling out of the palestinian refugees like those in shatila who everyone loves to remember on occasions such as this one, but who never fight for their rights (read: fayyed among others). but a different piece in ma’an news was a bit more interesting–about george mitchell’s visit to lebanon which coincided with the anniversary of the massacre:

Palestinian refugees were the top of US Special Envoy George Mitchell’s list during a 20 minute sit down with Lebanon’s President Michel Suliman Wednesday, the day marking the 27th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacres.

Michell told Suleiman that Lebanon, whose Phalangist faction 27-years earlier entered two Palestinian refugee camps and slaughtered thousands of civilians with Israeli support, would not bear the brunt of the refugee issue.

“US efforts toward peace would not come at the expense of Lebanon,” a statement from Suleiman’s office said following the meeting. Mitchell made no comment.

The two discussed the latest developments in Mitchell’s pursuit to halt Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and, according to the Lebanese press, stressed “continuous US support and aid to Lebanon on all levels and in all areas.”

Suleiman reportedly told Mitchell that all Lebanese factions refused the option of naturalizing Palestinian refugees “on the basis of the constitution.” He also stressed his desire that Israel retreat from its occupation of Lebanese lands.

what i find especially disturbing about all of this is how everyone remembers the anniversary of the sabra and shatila massacre but no one seems to remember the destruction of nahr el bared refugee camp. it is rather convenient that mitchell and his lebanese cohorts discussed palestinian refugees, but of course did not reveal any tangible information about their right of return. for palestinian from nahr el bared this right of return is now two-fold: first to their camp and then to palestine. if only that first step could be eliminated and they could return home immediately.

this is why i am feeling like i am against anniversaries. anniversaries, ideally, should be a time when you reflect upon the person/people/event. it should make you act in a way that honors that memory. the only real way to honor the memory of the massacre in 1982 or the destruction of nahr el bared in 2007 is to fight for the right of return for palestinian refugees. but no one is talking about that. nor are they talking about reconstructing narh el bared. except a few people. my friend matthew cassel attended the protest in trablus the other day and took this photography among others:

image by matthew cassel
image by matthew cassel

my dear friend rania never forgets and she linked to an article in al akhbar today on the subject:

بين الحفاظ على الآثار في الجزء القديم من مخيم نهر البارد وطمرها، تُعلّق حياة 35 ألف لاجئ فلسطيني كانوا يظنّون في فترة سابقة، قبل الحرب تحديداً، أنّها حياة مستمرّة.. على بؤسها. ربما، يجدر بهؤلاء المتروكين لحالهم الانتظار بعد، ريثما يتخذ مجلس شورى الدولة قراره النهائي المستند إلى مطالعات الدولة اللبنانية والتيار الوطني الحر ووزارة المال المكلفة بتمويل تكاليف طمر الآثار

راجانا حمية

كان من المفترض أن يُقفل مجلس شورى الدولة، اليوم، أبوابه أمام المطالعات القانونية المتعلقة بالطعن بقرار إيقاف طمر الآثار في البارد القديم. فقد أجّل محامي النائب ميشال عون، وليد داغر، تقديم مطالعة يحدد فيها صفة النائب عون كمستدعٍ إلى الاثنين المقبل. ويعود سبب التأجيل إلى رغبته في ضم رد التيار على مطالعتين تقدمت بهما وزارة المال في 18 آب الماضي والدولة اللبنانية في 21 منه، وتبلّغ بهما داغر في العاشر من الجاري.

وحسب المحامي داغر، تطالب هاتان المطالعتان مجلس شورى الدولة بالرجوع عن قرار إيقاف الطمر، استناداً إلى «المعطيات التي تفيد بأن طمر الآثار تم وفقاً للمعايير الدولية». وأكثر من ذلك، تستند الوزارتان في مطالعتيهما إلى «اعتبار صفة عون ومصلحته لا تتطابقان مع شروط المادة 77 من نظام مجلس الشورى». وهي المادة التي تنص على أنه «يفترض لوقف تنفيذ القرار المطعون فيه أن تكون المراجعة مرتكزة على أسباب جدية ومهمة وأن يكون الضرر المتذرَّع به ضرراً بليغاً».

طعن داغر بالمطالعتين، سلفاً، حتى قبل التقديم إلى مجلس الشورى، لأنه «لو لم يكن لعون صفة مباشرة لما كان مجلس شورى الدولة قد أوقف قرار الحكومة، كما إن الضرر لحق به كمواطن ذلك أن الآثار ليست ملكاً عاماً، بل هي ملك إنساني». لا يكتفي داغر بهذه الحجة، بل يستند إلى الاجتهاد القانوني الصادر عام 2000، والذي «لا يشترط لتوفر المصلحة أن يكون المدعي صاحب حق مباشر».

من تظاهرات طرابلس، الناس باتت لا تصدق موضوع الآثار (عبد الكافي الصمد)من تظاهرات طرابلس، الناس باتت لا تصدق موضوع الآثار (عبد الكافي الصمد)إذاً، من المفترض أن يتقدم داغر صباح الاثنين المقبل بمطالعتين: أولى تتعلق بتحديد صفة عون كمستدعٍ، والتي حددها داغر بصفة مواطن، وثانية يرد بها قانونياً على مطالعتي المال والدولة. بعد ذلك كله، يقوم مجلس الشورى بمطابقة الصفة والمصلحة قبل إصدار القرار المتوقع في 13 تشرين الأول المقبل.. و«ربما قبل هذا التاريخ، إذا لم تتطابق الصفة والمصلحة مع شروط المادة 77، بحيث يصار إلى إبطال القرار فوراً»، حسبما يرجّح رئيس مجلس الشورى القاضي شكري صادر.

لكن، إذا فاز عون بصفته والمصلحة، ينتقل أعضاء مجلس الشورى إلى «الأساس»، الذي يتعلق بدراسة مطالعتي عون المتضمنة مبررات الحفاظ على آثار البارد، والحكومة اللبنانية التي تشرح فيها موجبات الإعمار. ويحصر رئيس لجنة الحوار اللبناني الفلسطيني خليل مكاوي هذه الموجبات بثلاثة «تعهّد الدولة بإعادة المخيم كما كان والتزامات الحكومة تجاه المجتمع الدولي والدول المانحة، إضافة إلى الحفاظ على الأمن القومي».

إما استكمال طمر الآثار بحسب المعايير الدولية وإما إيقاف الإعمار «واستملاك الأراضي

إذاً، يتعلق مصير المخيم القديم بالمطالعتين المذكورتين، فإما استكمال طمر الآثار بحسب المعايير الدولية، كما يرجح مكاوي، وإما إيقاف الإعمار «واستملاك الأراضي القائم عليها المخيم الجديد وبعض ما حواليه»، كما جاء في بيان لجنة الدراسات في التيار الوطني الحر الأسبوع الماضي. غير أن ما تعوّل عليه لجنة الدراسات يواجه بعض الرفض من جهتين: الأولى فلسطينية، إذ يخاف هؤلاء من ضياع حقوقهم، وخصوصاً أن غالبية البيوت مسجّلة باسمهم، وأن ببعض تحايل (قبل صدور قانون التملك اللبناني عام 2001)، والثانية غالبية الأقطاب السياسية التي ترى في استملاك أراضٍ جديدة بداية مشروع التوطين.

ما بين المطالعتين، يضيع سكان المخيم القديم. يتساءل هؤلاء عن سبب إثارة هذه القضية الآن بالذات، تزامناً مع بدء إعادة الإعمار. يخاف الأهالي من أن تتكرر تجربة المخيمات المسحولة هنا في البارد. خوفهم هذا يدفعهم إلى «الهلوسة» في بعض الأحيان، إذ يذهب البعض إلى القول إنه «لا وجود للآثار بدليل أن الأعمدة هي قنوات صرف صحي مركبينا جدودنا اعتبروها رومانية، وبعض الفخارات من إيام أبوي». يستند الرجل في تكهناته إلى أن الحفر التي قام بها المهندسون من مديرية الآثار لم تتعدّ الثمانين سنتمتراً، «فكيف ستكون المدينة على هذا العمق؟».

يستغرب آخرون، ومنهم لطفي محمد الحاج، عضو الهيئة الأهلية لإعادة إعمار البارد، سبب التفات الدولة اللبنانية إلى هذه الآثارات رغم أنها هي التي أتت باللاجئين إلى تلة البارد رغم معرفتها بوجود الآثارات منذ العشرينيات من القرن الماضي. ويستغرب الحاج أيضاً سبب الاهتمام «الذي لا مثيل له»، على الرغم من «أن الآثار المحيطة بنا مهملة»، ويعطي مثالاً على قوله: «مثلاً، قلعة حكمون على جنب المخيم عاملينا مزرعة بقر وتلة عرقة وغيرها». لا يحتاج الرجل إلى أكثر من رؤية منزله مجدداً، ويطالب مجلس الشورى بالعودة عن قرار الإيقاف، مبرراً مطالبته بالقول: «احنا هون مش سوليدير، هون ناس ساكنة ما عادت تحمل تهجير». أكثر من ذلك، يضيف أبو خالد فريجي، أحد سكان القديم: «إحنا رمينا البارود لنساعد الجيش، اليوم ما عدنا قادرين ما نحمل البارودة».

مقابل هذه التعليقات للأهالي، يضع بعض الأطراف القضية في خانة التجاذبات السياسية. هذا ما يقوله المسؤول عن ملف إعادة إعمار البارد مروان عبد العال. ولئن كان لا حول ولا قوة من إدخال الفلسطيني بهذا التجاذب، يسأل عبد العال: «لماذا لم تُرسل فرق للتنقيب عن الآثار منذ تسعين عاماً؟ وليش الرسائل ما بتوصل إلا من صندوق بريدنا؟».

البراكسات التي يعيش فيها السكانالبراكسات التي يعيش فيها السكانيؤمن عبد العال بقداسة الآثار. وهي، من وجهة نظره تضاهي قداسة هوية الفلسطيني. لكن، السؤال الكبير الذي لا بد منه هنا هو «أنه إحنا مش آثار؟ ما بنمثل خصوصية؟ مش ولاد نكبة عمرها 61 عاماً وإلنا هويتنا كما الآثار؟ أكثر من ذلك، يسأل عضو الجبهة الشعبية في البارد سمير اللوباني: «ما هو الثمن السياسي الذي يجب أن يدفعه الفلسطيني من أجل إعادة البارد؟

لكن، كل هذا لن يأتي بنتيجة. فالنتيجة الوحيدة في مجلس شورى الدولة، وبانتظار صدور القرار، يعمل الفلسطينيون على رفع سقف الاحتجاجات الجماهيرية، وخصوصاً أنه لا يحق لهم مثل «أهل الفقيد» تقديم مطالعة قانونية، كونهم جهة غير معترف بها في القانون اللبناني. يضاف إلى ذلك أن الأونروا أيضاً لا تستطيع تقديم مطالعة قانونية لمجلس شورى الدولة، لذلك تعمل على إعداد مطالعة تشرح فيها موجبات الإعمار للحكومة اللبنانية فقط.

بالعودة إلى سير عملية الإعمار في البارد، كانت شركة «الجهاد» المتعهدة من قبل الأونروا قد طمرت في الرزمة الأولى حيث وجدت الآثار موقعين من أصل 5 مواقع قبل أن تثار القضية. وتلفت الناطقة الرسمية باسم الأونروا هدى الترك إلى «أننا انتهينا من تنظيف 95% من الركام، باستثناء جزء من الرزمة 2 وآخر من الرزمة 4». وأكدت أن الأونروا لا يمكنها الإعمار إلا بالتسلسل، أي من الرزمة 1، «والعملية متوقفة الآن بانتظار قرار مجلس شورى الدولة».

there is also a new article about the situation in nahr el bared in as-safir newspaper:

جهاد بزي
يستطيع المخيم أن يكون من شقين،
أو أن نبحث عن قطعة أرض بديلة للمخيم..
لكن لا نستطيع أن نجد ارتوزيا في مكان آخر.
الجنرال ميشال عون
(17 حزيران 2009)

في مخيم نهر البارد مدينتان.

المدينة الأولى بقايا أثرية اكتشفت تحت أنقاض المخيم القديم الذي سُحق بالكامل. هذه البقايا اسمها أرتوزيا. يستميت العونيون في الدفاع عنها، وقد رفعوا طعناً إلى مجلس الشورى جمّد إثره طمر آثار المدينة المكتشفة، ريثما يتخذ قراره. ولجنة الدراسات العونية لا تنفك تصدر بيانات بلغة أكاديمية رصينة تعلّل فيها أسباب دفاعها عن المدينة وتدفع عن نفسها تهمة العنصرية وتشدد على أنها ضد التوطين.

المدينة الثانية هي مدينة «البركسات». هي النقيض التام لكل الآثارات على وجه الأرض. هي صناديق «عصرية» من حديد وبلاستيك وإسفنج، وغيرها من المواد المثيرة لغثيان عالم الآثار إذا سقط مكبره عليها. وعلى العكس من القلاع والاعمدة والمدرجات الخالدة خلود الآلهة، فإن مدينة البركسات بلا أعمدة ولا فخامة ولا تاريخ، وهندستها رتيبة ومقيتة.

وهي عرضة للتلف أسرع بمليون مرة من مدينة أرتوزيا. عناصر الطبيعة الجميلة، الشمس والمياه والهواء، هي أوبئة دائمة تفتك بالمدينة الهشة المقامة على عجل لإيواء النازحين في بلاد لجوئهم.

هناك فارق أساسي بين المدينتين: البركسات مأهولة. ارتوزيا غير مأهولة. وأن نقول إنها مأهولة، فلأننا قررنا، كلبنانيين، مواجهة الإرهاب بطريقة فريدة من نوعها، هللت لها قوى سياسية شرسة في «حبها» للفلسطينيين، وتغاضت عنها قوى أخرى كانت قد نادت يوماً بأن المخيم خط أحمر. تلك الحرب ستبقى، بأي حال، «إنجازاً ناصعاً» في تاريخنا اللبناني، وإن طُمرت خطاياها بكل ما فيها كرمى لعناوين كبيرة وفارغة.

وأن نقول إن البركسات مأهولة منذ نحو سنتين. أن يضطر لاجئون، قصمنا ظهورهم سياسياً واجتماعياً واقتصادياً، إلى حياة منسية كهذه التي يعيشونها في علب الصفيح المكتظة تتساقط الصراصير من أسقفها الاسفنج المبقورة بسبب الحرارة والمياه، أو تنبت الجرذان من أرضها، أو تصير مستنقعات وحول عند كل مطر. أن يضطر لاجئون سحقنا حيواتهم إلى يوميات طويلة في هذه المجمعات الحديدية الأقرب إلى مجمعات عزل المصابين بأمراض معدية قاتلة. أن تضطر عيون اطفالهم إلى العتمة ليل نهار وانفاسهم إلى الرطوبة وآفاقهم إلى ممرات ضــيقة خانقة. وأن يضطر الفلسطينــي إلى هــذه العقوبة المستمرة عليه لذنب ليس ذنبه، فإنه عــيب هائــل يتدلى من عنق لبنان جرســاً فاضحاً يرن كيفــما هزّ هذا البلد عنقه.

أما أن يقال للفلســطيني إن أرتــوزيا أهم من الأرض التي ولد عليها، وإن علــيه أن يبـحث عن مكان آخر يقيم عليه مخيمه، فهذا يفوق خيال الكوابيس التي يراها.

ثمة افتقاد تام لحس إنساني بسيط: المكان، مهما كان مؤقتاً، له قيمة رمزية ترتبط بقيمة المجتمع الذي يقيم فيه منذ ستين سنة. هم لاجئون لكنهم ليسوا بضاعة يمكن وضعها في أي مكان، بانتظار شحنها إلى فلسطين. المثل قاسٍ، لكنه الاقرب إلى المنطق الذي تتعاطى به الغالبية اللبنانية العظمى مع الشأن الفلسطيني. هناك سخرية مرّة في أن يضطر الواحد إلى الشرح بأن المخيم الفلسطيني ليس نزهة كشفية بين أحراج الصنوبر، تقام وتفك ثم تنتقل إلى مكان جديد. المخيمات الفلسطينية هي مثل مدننا وقرانا وأحيائنا. مثل حي السلم والحمرا والاشرفية والرابية. قد نكرهها وقد نحبها، لكن فيها شكّلنا ذكرياتنا وتفاصيلنا وأحزاننا وافراحنا. وإذا كان الفلسطيني يعيش في مؤقت مفتوح، فهذا لا يعني أن حقائبه موضبة طوال الوقت. هذا لا يعني أنه بلا ذاكرة. من السخرية المرّة تذكير لجنة الدراسات وغيرها، بأن الفلسطينيين مثلنا، نحن اللبنانيين أحفاد الأرتوزيين العظام.

وكما لا يحق لأحد أن ينقّلنا كيفما شاء، لا يحق لنا أن ننقلهم كيفما شئنا. معادلة بسيطة.

ثم..
إذا كانت إعادة الإعمار بهذا الحجم من التعقيد، وإذا كان هناك خلاف حتى على اسم المخيم الجديد من البارد حدا بالجيش اللبناني إلى أن «يأمل» من الإعلام تسميته بالبقعة المحيطة بالمخيم، فأين سيجد الفلسطينيون النازحون مخيماً آخر؟ فلتنكب لجنة الدراسات العونية على درس فكرة الجنرال وجعلها حجر أساس لدراسة متكاملة تلحظ موقع المخيم الجديد على أرض لبنان، ومساحته وكيفية استئجاره أو تملكه للبدء بإعادة الإعمار بسرعة كي ينتقل الفلسطينيون إليه. وربما على اللجنة زيارة البركسات والنزول في غرفها لأيام تستفتي خلالها رأي المنكوبين فرداً فرداً بموقع جديد للمخيم. كما ينبغي عليها لاحقاً أخذ موافقة جيرانهم الجدد من اللبنانيين. هذا جهد يمكن للجنة الدراسات أن تقوم به بالطبع، لما يعرف عنها من عمق وقدرة. غير أن الفلسطينيين ليسوا قضية اللجنة. قضيتها أرتوزيا.

المصائب تأتي دفعة واحدة. نزلت على المخيم فدمرته، ثم صعدت من أسفله، فزادت على معوقات إعماره معوّقاً جديداً. الأولوية الآن هي في طمر مدينة البركسات، وهذه لن تطمر إلا إذا طمرت آثار ارتوزيا، بغض النظر عن أي أهمية لها. من أقل حقوق فلسطينيي مخيم نهر البارد على هذا البلد هو ألا يجعلهم ينتظرون أكثر. بقاء الفلسطينيين على حالهم هناك جريمة بحق الانسانية واللبنانيين، وليس طمر ارتوزيا هو «الجريمة بحق الإنسانية والشعب اللبناني» كما قالت لجنة الدراسات.

أما أرتوزيا العونية فيمكن لها أن تنتظر. يكفيها فخراً أنها أثبتت عمق تجذرها في الأرض اللبنانية وعنادها وتحديها للزمن. هي خالدة وشامخة شموخ الجبال والأرز. ولا شك بأنها ستطلع من بين الركام ثانية، يوم يغادر الفلسطينيون هذه البلاد التي لا تفعل منذ عقود إلا معاقبتهم على وجودهم القسري فيها.

جهاد بزي

of course, it is not surprising that al akhbar and as safir would publish articles on nahr el bared. these are the only two newspapers who have consistently covered the story. that can be counted on. not just because it is an anniversary, but because it matters. but who else will cover the refugees from nahr e bared and their rights? their right of return. and i’m thinking not only of the people i care about from nahr el bared and other camps in lebanon who want to return to their original villages, but also dear friends in falasteen who want to return to their villages. this summer when we did the al awda camp with kids from deheishe refugee camp, two of the kids who i adore returned home and produced a new rap song (here is my post on taking them to beit ‘itab, which i did for a second time after the camp). the song includes hisham’s grandfather at the beginning, talking about their village of beit ‘itab. here is a description of their song and a link to the mp3 file you can listen to:

Badluck Rappers – اغنية جديدة بعنوان ” رحلة لبلادي ” تحكي قصة كل لاجئ فلسطيني

Badluck Rappers – اغنية جديدة بعنوان
تم نشر إغنية مؤخراً من فرقة الـ Badluck Rapperz من قلب مخيم دهيشه , بيت لحم
بعنوان رحلة لبلادي تحكي قصة كل لاجئ فلسطيني عايش داخل و خارج فلسطين ,
وتعودنا نسمع اغاني كثيرة عن اللاجئين من الفرقة لانها من قلب المخيمات , اكبر المخيمات
الفلسطينية للاجئين داخل فلسطين , واكتر اشي بميز الاغنية , بدايتها الجميلة المختارة
الي ببداها لاجئ فلسطيني بحكي قصة قريته الهاجر منها

الكل يسمع الاغنية , يقيمها , ويترك تعليق

Read more: http://www.palrap.net/PalRap/263/Badluck_Rappers_Witn_New_Track_Called_Re7la_La_Blady.html#ixzz0RWCnqv9L

i do not need an anniversary to make me think about the people i love in shatila, nahr el bared or deheishe refugee camps. i do not need an anniversary to make me remember their right of return. i think about it every day and hope that the work and writing i do, in some small way, advances that right. but i’m also thinking about the palestinian refugees who were in iraq and who i tried to help when they were displaced yet again in jordan in al ruweished refugee camp. they have all been resettled in third countries, a fact that does not negate their right of return to palestine. at the time friends i worked with tried to get the u.s. to take them in to no avail. now it seems my home state of california is granting refuge to some palestinians from iraq as patrik jonsson writes in the christian science monitor:

The State Department confirmed today that as many as 1,350 Iraqi Palestinians – once the well-treated guests of Saddam Hussein and now at outs with much of Iraqi society – will be resettled in the US, mostly in southern California, starting this fall.

It will be the largest-ever resettlement of Palestinian refugees into the US – and welcome news to the Palestinians who fled to Iraq after 1948 but who have had a tough time since Mr. Hussein was deposed in 2003. Targeted by Iraqi Shiites, the mostly-Sunni Palestinians have spent recent years in one of the region’s roughest refugee camps, Al Waleed, near Iraq’s border with Syria.

“Really for the first time, the United States is recognizing a Palestinian refugee population that could be admitted to the US as part of a resettlement program,” says Bill Frelick, refugee policy director at Human Rights Watch in Washington.

Given the US’s past reluctance to resettle Palestinians – it accepted just seven Palestinians in 2007 and nine in 2008 – the effort could ruffle some diplomatic feathers.

For many in the State Department and international community, the resettlement is part of a moral imperative the US has to clean up the refugee crisis created by invading Iraq. The US has already stepped up resettlement of Iraqis, some who have struggled to adjust to life in America.

al awda is asking for people to help with their resettlement:

The US government has approved most of the population of Al-Waleed Palestinian refugee camp for resettlement as refugees in the US in the coming year. For more information see http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0708/p02s04-usgn.html and http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/06/2009618161946158577.html

The first Palestinian family of the year from Al-Waleed will be arriving in San Diego on Wednesday September 16, 2009. This family, as with all the refugees who will be relocated to the US from Al-Waleed, will arrive with essentially nothing. Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, is therefore conducting an urgent fund raising campaign to help all the Palestinian refugees arriving in the US soon with their transition to a new life in this country.

BACKGROUND

An estimated 19,000 Palestinians, out of an initial population of 34,000, fled Iraq since the American invasion in 2003. Of these refugees, approximately 2500 have been stranded, under very harsh conditions, some for more than five years, in three camps, Al-Tanaf, Al-Waleed and Al-Hol. These camps are located in the middle of the desert far from any population centers. Al-Tanaf camp is located in no-man’s land on the borders between Iraq and Syria. Al-Waleed is located on the Iraqi side of the border with Syria, and Al-Hol is located in Syria in the Hasaka region. The camp residents had fled largely from Baghdad due to harassment, threats of deportation, abuse by the media, arbitrary detention, torture and murder by organized death squads. They thus became refugees again, originally as a result of the Zionist theft and colonial occupation of Palestine beginning in 1948. Some became refugees also when they were expelled from Kuwait in 1991 by the US-backed Kuwaiti government. Now, after years of waiting, many of the refugees stranded in the camps on the borders of Iraq are being relocated largely to Europe and the US, which continues to occupy Iraq to this day.

The first Palestinian family from Al-Waleed this year will be arriving in San Diego on September 16, 2009, a few days before the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, with 1350 more Palestinians to follow in the months ahead. According to the Christian Science Monitor most of these will be resettled in Southern California and possibly Pennsylvania and Omaha.

ACTION

Al-Awda is asking all its activists, members and supporters to contribute to help our sisters and brothers in their move to the US.

Please donate today!

Address your tax-deductible donation via check or money order to: Al-Awda, PRRC, PO Box 131352, Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA – Please note on the memo line of the check “Palestinians from Iraq”

Alternatively, please donate online using your credit card. Go to http://www.al-awda.org/donate.html and follow the simple instructions. Please indicate that your donation is for “Palestinians from Iraq” with your submission.

Drop off locations

We will also need furniture, cars, computers, tv’s, clothes, toys for the kids etc. The following are the current drop off locations:

General:
8531 Wellsford pl # f, Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
Te: 562-693-1600 Tel: 323-350-0000

For Clothes:
1773 West Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, CA 92801

For Southern California residents, an emergency meeting is being called for Sunday September 13, 2009 starting at 2 PM at the Al-Awda Center, 2734 Loker Avenue West Suite K, in Carlsbad CA 92010.

Our sisters and brothers need all the help they can get after having suffered from the death squads in Baghdad, and more than five years stranded in the camps. We need our people to feel at home as much as possible. We can not disappoint them.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR GENEROUS SUPPORT

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
PO Box 131352
Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA
Tel: 760-918-9441
Fax: 760-918-9442
E-mail: info[at]al-awda.org
WWW: http://al-awda.org

on fasting

i like fasting for ramadan. in fact, i like fasting in general. i used to fast a couple of times a year for an entire week (though not without water and tea) to detox. and in either case the fact of being hungry, of being conscious of what your body feels and that your stomach is empty, i have always found to be a tremendously useful thing for so many reasons. it makes people realize how much they constantly over-consume, eating when they are not even hungry, because they are bored, etc. it also makes you realize what many people experience as a fact of life: not having enough to eat, of being hungry because there is no more food. in the best cases people use this time to reflect and to do something to help those less fortunate. i keep reading about and seeing news reports of the desperate situation in gaza (and, of course, this is true in so much of the world) during ramadan. and it disturbs me when i see jordanians running around, partying, shopping, enjoying the globized excesses of capitalism while others are suffering. i wonder how many of these rich people are actually doing something to help others. i wonder how many of these people are sharing their 20 different dishes that the stuff themselves with at iftar to others who are less fortunate (including their maids who are doing all the cooking and cleaning in the first place, often while fasting, too). and i do not just mean now because it’s ramadan (as americans do one day a year on thanksgiving). i mean all the time. every day.

so here is some food for thought for those of you who stuff yourselves and shop til you drop as if that is the spirit of ramadan…ayman mohyeldin reported on al jazeera about the difficult situation during ramadan for palestinians in gaza:

and here is an article from ma’an news about being a perpetual refugee–from palestine to iraq to palestine again:

is a Palestinian who fled Iraq to the Gaza Strip in 2008; he has one daughter living in Jordan with her husband while the rest remain in Iraq.

While staring at his family’s photo, Barhoum told Ma’an how worried he was about them.

Barhoum was a major in the Palestinian Liberation Army in Iraq. He was compelled to leave Iraq after being threatened several times by militiamen who gave him two choices; leaving Iraq, or being killed. He said armed gunmen with the militias would open fire at his home from all directions on a nightly basis to help him make his choice.

According to Barhoum, the only grudge the armed groups bore him was his affiliation to the Arab Liberation Front, and that he belonged to the Sunni sect.

While in Iraq, Barhoum and his family lived in the Ad-Doura neighborhood, which was home to a mix of religious, sects and nationalities including Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, Kurds, Turks, Palestinians, and Syrians. After the US invasion of Iraq, everything changed, he said. The Shiite neighbors’ children, who Barhoum said he practically raised himself and who used to call him “uncle Abu Ali”, began to threaten to kill him if he didn’t leave the country. When at one time the neighborhood showed him respect for the time he spent in Israeli jails, following the war he said there was no more goodwill.

Now Barhoum only wants to bring his wife and children into Gaza with him. “But, there is no way to do that as they don’t have Palestinian IDs,” he lamented.

“When I was compelled to flee Iraq, I was also listed as wanted by the Syrians, and banned from entering Egypt. I managed to flee and stay in the Sinai Peninsula for more than a year until I was able to sneak into the Gaza Strip through a smuggling tunnel in Rafah, the city where I was born. I came back to the same room UNRWA gave my family in 1967; there were only a few changes made by brother while I was abroad.”

Barhoum told his story this week in Gaza when the Iraqi-Palestinian Brotherhood Society organized a Ramadan dinner for families forced to leave Iraq after the US invasion and the toppling of Saddam Hussein and his government. The dinner was held at the Gaza City beach, and Barhoum was joined by dozens of others, mostly men, forced to flee yet another country where they sought refuge.

and from ma’an on the lack of school supplies in gaza:

School started fifteen days ago in Gaza but schoolchildren remain without books or pencils, as high prices prevent most parents from purchasing necessary goods.

The only stationary in Gaza comes from the Rafah-area smuggling tunnels, and the cost of smuggling keeps prices too high for average families. Israeli crossings authorities have refused to allow paper and pencils into the Strip.

A request for supplies for school and special foodstuffs for Ramadan were denied by Israeli authorities. Shop owners say truckloads of the goods are stranded in warehouses in Israel.

The Israeli army earlier agreed to allow 100-180 truckloads of stationary and school supplies into Gaza two weeks before the beginning of the school year, but no action was taken on the promise, and supplies continue to sit in warehouses.

Gaza’s chamber of commerce head Gaza Maher At-Taba apologized to residents for the high prices. He said the law of supply and demand was the sole factor in the exorbitant prices of school books, and said once Israel allows more supplies in the prices should go down.

Merchants are forced to pay for the costs of storing goods in warehouses when Israeli officials refuse their entry into the Strip. This cost will also be reflected in the goods when and if they do enter the area.

Traders remain skeptical over whether the supplies will ever be let in.

The de facto ministry of education appealed urgently to the United Nations and International organizations, asking that they pressure Israel to allow stationary into Gaza.

or eva bartlett’s article in electronic intifada about zionist terrorist colonists targeting farmers and fishermen in gaza:

On 4 September, 14-year-old Ghazi al-Zaneen from Beit Hanoun was killed when an Israeli soldier shot him in the head. Along with his father, uncles and some of his siblings, the youth had gone to collect figs on their land east of Beit Hanoun. Although it is near the border with Israel, the farmland where al-Zaneen was killed is still more than 500 meters away.

“They had driven to the land and were walking in the area. Ghazi got up on the rubble of a house to look further. Then the Israelis started shooting heavily. Everyone lay on the ground. When the shooting stopped, they got up to run away and realized that Ghazi had been shot in the head,” said his aunt.

Maher al-Zaneen, Ghazi’s father, testified to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights that Israeli soldiers continued to fire as he carried the injured boy to the car. Ghazi al-Zaneen succumbed to his critical head injuries the following day.

The day after his death, Ghazi’s mother sat surrounded by female relatives and friends. She asked, “How would mothers in your country feel if their sons were killed like this? Don’t your politicians care that Israel is killing our children?”

Israeli authorities reportedly claimed that “suspicious Palestinians approached the fence” and troops responded by “firing into the air.” But the shot to Ghazi al-Zaneen’s head and the two bullet holes in Maher al-Zaneen’s car suggest otherwise.

Since the end of Israel’s three-week winter invasion of Gaza during which approximately 1,500 Palestinians were killed, nine more Palestinian civilians have been killed at sea or on the strip’s border regions. This includes four minors and one mentally disabled adult. Another 30 Palestinians, including eight minors, have been wounded by Israeli shooting and shelling, including by the use of “flechette” dart-bombs on civilian areas.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, roughly one third of Gaza’s agricultural land lies within the Israel’s unilaterally-imposed “no go zone,” or “buffer zone.” This band of land stretching south to north along Gaza’s borders to Israel was established in late 2000 during the second Palestinian intifada. Initially set at 150 meters, it has varied over time. At one point, it was nearly two kilometers in the north and one kilometer in the east. At present, Israeli authorities say 300 meters along the border are “off limits” and those found within the area risk being shot at by Israeli soldiers.

or bartlett’s other recent electronic intifada piece about zionist terrorist colonists holding goods at the border in order to deprive palestinians:

Abu Abed can’t make a profit, and although 54 years old, he still has not married. “I can’t pay my rent, I can’t afford a wedding.”

His shop, roughly 3 meters by 4 meters, costs him more than $3,500 a year in rent alone.

His wares are laid out on tables on a busy pedestrian street in the Saha market area in Gaza City. The goods, plastic toys and running shoes imported from China, were brought in via the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt, at a high price.

One large bag of grain filled with the cheaply made toys cost $30 to purchase, but the tunnel trip added another $70 to Abu Abed’s expenditures. “I can make maybe $20 when I sell these toys, but that will take two or three months.”

Now that the month of Ramadan is under way, festive decorations and toys are among his stock. Yet with unemployment in Gaza hovering near 50 percent, and searing poverty at 80 percent, few can afford the luxury of such items, at now grossly inflated prices.

“That toy is 20 shekels,” Abed says pointing to a plastic toy. “It should only cost maybe five or six shekels. People don’t want to buy it.” But if Abu Abed wants to break even, he cannot sell the toy for less than 20 shekels.

For Ghazi Attab, a fruit vendor in Saha market, regular crossing procedures couldn’t come quickly enough. He estimates that 30 percent of his produce is spoiled due to long hours in the sun waiting for Israeli clearance to enter Gaza.

“The Israelis don’t allow the fruit to enter Gaza right away. It sits at the crossings for five or six hours under the sun,” he said, pointing to a box of rotted mangos.

Hazem, father of four, has a store in a different region of Saha. The shelves are stocked with shampoo, hair and skin creams, cosmetics, toothpaste, cleaning products and other everyday items. All of his stock was brought through the tunnels, at a high price.

Before the Israeli siege on Gaza, Hazem used to import goods via Israeli crossings.

or the way in which the siege is affecting palestinian education as indicated in this irin report:

Some 1,200 students at al-Karmel High School for boys in Gaza City returned to class on 25 August without history and English textbooks, or notebooks and pens — all unavailable on the local market.

Severe damage to the school, caused during the 23-day Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip which ended on 18 January, has yet to be repaired. Al-Karmel’s principal, Majed Yasin, has had to cover scores of broken windows with plastic sheeting.

“The entire west side of the school was damaged adjacent to Abbas police station which was targeted on 27 December,” said Yasin. “We have yet to repair the $65,000-worth of damage, since glass and other building materials are still unavailable.”

Educational institutions across Gaza are still reeling from the effects of the Israeli offensive, compounded by the more than two-year-long Israeli blockade (tightened after Hamas seized power in June 2007), according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

At least 280 schools out of 641 in Gaza were damaged and 18 destroyed during the military operation. None have been rebuilt or repaired to date due to continued restrictions on the entry of construction materials, OCHA reported.

At the start of the new school year, all 387 government-run primary and secondary schools serving 240,000 students — and 33 private sector schools serving 17,000 students — lack essential education materials, according to the education ministry in Gaza.

“The war had, and continues to have, a severely negative impact on the entire education system,” Yousef Ibrahim, deputy education minister in Gaza, said. “About 15,000 students from government schools have been transferred to other schools for second shifts, significantly shortening class time.”

He said the damaged schools lacked toilets and water and electricity networks; their classrooms were overcrowded, and they also suffered from shortages of basic items such as desks, doors, chairs and ink for printing.

or finally, as people go shopping for eid, maybe they can think about the struggle to get new shoes in gaza as this anera video documents:

sa7tein

on fatah

so just as i left beit lahem the city was preparing for a major fatah conference. the first signs of this were all of the black fatah suvs driving around the city like maniacs. i drove by ma’an news on my way home one night and a ton of them were out front. it turns out that mohammad dahlan was inside giving an interview. sousan hammad’s article in electronic intifada on the conference identified some of the main struggles within the party:

Many of Fatah’s young and old remained cynical about the possibility of overcoming the organization’s infighting, saying they’d heard it all before. Apparently the one true believer was Jibril Rajoub, a former senior Fatah security official and former head of one of the many PA security forces, who is seen as a possible successor to Abbas. Rajoub told the horde of journalists who stuck microphones in his face that the the conference was “a rebirth” that would revitalize Fatah.

But one just had to go outside to see the segregation among the delegates. The old and exiled, wearing khaki-colored uniforms reminiscent of their revolutionary days, gathered together to smoke cigarettes and drink Nescafe, while expressing gratitude to be back in Palestine for the one-week permit that was allowed them by Israel. Then there were the young: former fighters, such as Zakariya Zubeidi, who once led the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, but signed a so-called amnesty deal with Israel. He exuded optimism to the press on the urgency of pacification with Israel.

As one Fatah official, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “There are two planes in this movement: one plane of Dahlanists [Mohammed Dahlan and his cohorts] — those who spout peace and pragmatism, and another plane of resistance — those who want to keep armed struggle alive. But there is so much corruption that is occurring from those who hold high positions that I don’t think we can come together … it’s between them and us.”

No matter that the West Bank and Gaza are becoming increasingly dependent on Western aid organizations to develop their own cities and villages, Abbas insisted on showing the exiled delegates the PA’s “success.” Despite Palestine’s statelessness, Abbas mentioned how he has been improving security for the state. Upon hearing this, Mohamed Edwan (Head Press Officer to the PA who happened to sit beside me) shook his head and said, “This is a police state, not a state of security.”

It is already difficult to see the purpose of such ceremonies, but when Abbas’ very own communicator dismisses what he says as a falsehood, how can we expect Fatah’s central committee, political agenda and electoral decision-making bodies to act in unison with party members, much less the political leaders of other factions, or even Israel? These are the bonfires Fatah faces at the conference.

al jazeera’s ayman mohyeldin reported on other complications and divisions between fatah and hamas in the shadow of the conference:

saed bannoura reported for imemc that at the conference mahmoud abbas asserted palestinians’ right to resistance:

Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, stated on Tuesday evening that the Palestinian Authority in committed to the peace process based on the principles of international legitimacy and justice, but added that the Palestinians reserve their right to legitimate resistance guaranteed by the international law.

but where is that resistance, especially from fatah? leading up to the conference and over the past month and a half al jazeera ran a documentary entitled plo: the history of a revolution. it’s well worth watching for its archival footage and historical perspective showing what happens when resistance movements opt out of resistance in order for power and corruption.

zionist cash for spies & settlers

here are some things the zionist entity is spending your good, american, hard-earned tax dollars on:

1. Intelligence agents have been offering young Palestinians cash bribes as incentive to spy for Israel during interrogation at military checkpoints near the West Bank city of Tulkarem.

A number of Palestinians told Ma’an that Israeli officers stopped their cars and detained the Ennav and Jabara checkpoints. While detaining the Palestinians at the checkpoints, the intelligence men offered cash and permits to enter Israel if they agreed to collaborate.

During the interrogation, the same young men said, they were asked about their income and social status. They were also asked to divulge their mobile phone numbers.

After refusing to cooperate, the men were released but given letters summoning them for further interrogation at the Israeli military headquarters south of Tulkarem.

The issue of collaborators is sensitive in Palestinian society, because information provided by Israel’s spies has often led to the arrest or assassination of political and military leaders.

2. Israel will offer more than $3,500 to any foreign Maccabiah participant who decides to stay, the Immigrant Absorption Ministry announced on Sunday.

The Maccabiah, often called “the Jewish Olympics,” has brought some 5,700 Jewish athletes and their coaches to Israel from all over the world in time for the opening ceremony on Monday in Ramat Gan.

For the first time, the Ministry for Immigrant Absorption is offering participants from abroad a special assistance package to the tune of nearly NIS 15,000 in addition to standard assistance given to immigrants.

The grant will include a one-time stipend of NIS 4,000 for sports equipment and a monthly stipend of NIS 1,200 for nine months during the first year in university or college for anyone beginning school before 2011. Additionally, the ministry will subsidize salaries given to the new immigrants by their employers for a period of 24 months.

a not-so-holy land grab

those of us active in the struggle for the right of return for palestinian refugees and justice for palestinians in general are well acquainted with article 49 of the geneva convention, which reads:

Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.

Nevertheless, the Occupying Power may undertake total or partial evacuation of a given area if the security of the population or imperative military reasons do demand. Such evacuations may not involve the displacement of protected persons outside the bounds of the occupied territory except when for material reasons it is impossible to avoid such displacement. Persons thus evacuated shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area in question have ceased.

The Occupying Power undertaking such transfers or evacuations shall ensure, to the greatest practicable extent, that proper accommodation is provided to receive the protected persons, that the removals are effected in satisfactory conditions of hygiene, health, safety and nutrition, and that members of the same family are not separated.

The Protecting Power shall be informed of any transfers and evacuations as soon as they have taken place.

The Occupying Power shall not detain protected persons in an area particularly exposed to the dangers of war unless the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand.

The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.

what remains troubling for me about how this is interpreted is why the entirety of historic palestine is not also considered occupied filled with settler colonists of that occupying power. every home where zionist colonists live in palestine was acquired either through the initial nakba, which was a uni-directional war on the region, or through the importation of foreign zionist terrorists ever since. and none of these zionist terrorists are civilians. all of them are heavily armed and are required not only to do military service but also to do reserve duty throughout their lifetime.

but even if you buy the line that it is only the colonies in the west bank that are disputed, of course those are only expanding. they are not being “frozen” despite so-called protests form the united states as in this report from ma’an news:

The US demand that Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank must cease includes East Jerusalem, a State Department spokesperson said on Monday.

In response to a question from Israel’s Jerusalem Post newspaper, State Department spokesperson Ian Kelly said, “We’re talking about all settlement activity, yeah, in the area across the line,” he said, referring to the 1948 armistice line, or Green Line.

Speaking at a Washington press briefing, Kelly had no immediate response to the proposed Israeli government 2009-2010 budget that allocates 250 million dollars over the next two years for settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Tens of millions of dollars are specifically earmarked for settlements like Har Homa, which, while they are built on occupied Palestinian land, are within Israel’s expanded municipal boundaries for Jerusalem.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem along with the rest of the West Bank, Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan Heights in June 1967. In 1980 Israel annexed the eastern half of Jerusalem, declaring the whole of the city it ‘eternal capital,’ a step rejected by the UN Security Council.

International law makes no distinction between settlements built in Jerusalem and those in the rest of the West Bank. US policy has also historically not drawn a distinction. In a 1991 Letter of Assurances, entered in the official record of the Madrid Peace Conference, the US said, “We do not recognize Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem or the extension of its municipal boundaries.”

Israel and the US are currently at odds over President Barack Obama’s demand that all construction in settlements must cease as a precondition for renewed peace talks.

apparently, france is also calling for the so-called “freeze,” much to the zionist entity’s dismay as al jazeera reports:

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has rejected a call by the French president to halt settlement activity in the occupied West Bank.

Nicolas Sarkozy had on Wednesday made the plea to impose a “total freeze” on Israeli settlements after holding talks with Netanyahu in Paris, but the Israeli leader signalled that the settlements will remain.

“We will not build new settlements and we will not expropriate additional lands for settlements. We know that our people are living there and, pending a final, political settlement, they have to live a normal life,” Netanyahu said.

Paris, like Washington, wants a complete halt to Jewish settlement activity in the occupied West Bank, but the Israeli leader has already said he will allow for “natural growth” within existing settlements.

The international community considers all settlements in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, which Israel seized in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, to be illegal.

this whole discourse about the “freeze” is disturbing. basically this means that the colonies cannot be expanded as families grow or in netanyahu’s words so they can “live a normal life.” but what of palestinians? for 122 years they have not been able to live a “normal life” since the zionists began colonizing their land. palestinians cannot build, cannot obtain building permits, and they find their home and their farmland destroyed day after day, year after year. and most importantly palestinian refugees cannot return to their villages and continue to live in exile in refugee camps.

al jazeera’s jacky rowland has done an excellent documentary called “holy land grab” that puts a microscope on this recent process of ethnic cleansing in the city of al quds:

here are two shorter and related clips of the same piece by rowland:

but of course the story is not only about al quds. there are many other parts of palestine where palestinian farmland and homes are destroyed every day by zionist terrorists. yesterday they destroyed palestinian olive trees near ramallah:

Israeli settlers from the illegal Hallamish settlement set fire to olive trees near Deir Nidham west of Ramallah Wednesday afternoon.

According to citizens from the village the fire burnt 120 olive trees on fifteen dunums of local land owned by Samir Dieb Tamimi, Jamil Abdel Qader Tamimi, Karm Mohamed Tamimi and Yousif Nemar Tamimi.

and near nablus more of the same destruction to palestinian property:

Israelis from the settlement of Yizhar, south of the West Bank city of Nablus, raided a Palestinian construction staging area for the third time on Wednesday.

Palestinian Authority official Ghassan Dughlus, who is charged with monitoring settler activity in the northern West Bank said that the settlers destroyed water wells and smashed wood and other materials at the site, located in the Sahal area. The site is owned by Ibrahim Eid, 32, and Abdel Kareem Eid ,40, the official said.

for palestinians who are refugees and who live outside palestine’s ever shrinking borders, the situation is not much better. by now the siege of gaza is on everyone’s tongue, but who remembers the palestinians of nahr el bared? who is fighting for their right not only to return to their camp in north lebanon, but also to return to their original homes and villages in 1948 palestine? nahr el bared, like gaza, continues to be besieged for over two years now. and yet i don’t see people marching in the streets of london or washington dc to fight for their rights. nor do i see anyone in ramallah fighting for their right to return. but the a-films collective consistently provides a platform for their voices to be heard and known. here is their latest film followed by a description of it:

Two years after the outbreak of the war in Nahr al-Bared, the camp’s fate
remains unclear. The reconstruction of the official camp might start soon,
but the army keeps its tight grip on the camp. Several checkpoints, barbed
wire and military posts cut Nahr al-Bared off from its surroundings.

Nahr al-Bared Camp used to be a thriving marketplace in the northern
Lebanese region of Akkar and about half its costumers were Lebanese.
During the war, the Lebanese army has not only defeated the militant group
Fatah al-Islam, but also completely destroyed the refugee camp. Its
businesses were looted, smashed and burnt, even after the war had ended.
The camp’s once flourishing economy was physically eliminated.

Two years later, about half the camp’s population has returned to its
adjacent area. Hundreds of businesses have re-opened, but economic
recovery is seriously hampered by the tight siege imposed by the Lebanese
army. Thus, suspicions have risen that the war’s actual target wasn’t
Fatah al-Islam, but Nahr al-Bared’s economic life.

In this 10-minute film, the co-owner of an ice cream factory, the
president of the local Trader’s Committee and the Imam of the al-Quds
Mosque speak out on the siege and its economic consequences.

wanted: zionist palestinians

carlos latuff
carlos latuff

yesterday ali abunimah and hasan abu nimah co-authored a brilliant analysis of benjamin netanyahu’s speech in electronic intifada. here is their article in full:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed a peace plan so ingenious it is a wonder that for six decades of bloodshed no one thought of it. Some people might have missed the true brilliance of his ideas presented in a speech at Bar Ilan University on 14 June, so we are pleased to offer this analysis.

First, Netanyahu wants Palestinians to become committed Zionists. They can prove this by declaring, “We recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own in this land.” As he pointed out, it is only the failure of Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular to commit themselves to the Zionist dream that has caused conflict, but once “they say those words to our people and to their people, then a path will be opened to resolving all the problems between our peoples.” It is of course perfectly natural that Netanyahu would be “yearning for that moment.”

Mere heartfelt commitment to Zionism will not be enough, however. For the Palestinians’ conversion to have “practical meaning,” Netanyahu explained, “there must also be a clear understanding that the Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside Israel’s borders.” In other words, Palestinians must agree to help Israel complete the ethnic cleansing it began in 1947-48, by abandoning the right of return. This is indeed logical because as Zionists, Palestinians would share the Zionist ambition that Palestine be emptied of Palestinians to the greatest extent possible.

Netanyahu is smart enough to recognize that even the self-ethnic-cleansing of refugees may not be sufficient to secure “peace”: there will still remain millions of Palestinians living inconveniently in their native land, or in the heart of what Netanyahu insisted was the “historic homeland” of the Jews.

For these Palestinians, the peace plan involves what Netanyahu calls “demilitarization,” but what should be properly understood as unconditional surrender followed by disarmament. Disarmament, though necessary, cannot be immediate, however. Some recalcitrant Palestinians may not wish to become Zionists. Therefore, the newly pledged Zionist Palestinians would have to launch a civil war to defeat those who foolishly insist on resisting Zionism. Or as Netanyahu put it, the “Palestinian Authority will have to establish the rule of law in Gaza and overcome Hamas.” (In fact, this civil war has already been underway for several years as the American and Israeli-backed Palestinian “security forces,” led by US Lt. General Keith Dayton, have escalated their attacks on Hamas).

Once anti-Zionist Palestinians are crushed, the remaining Palestinians — whose number equals that of Jews in historic Palestine — will be able to get on with life as good Zionists, according to Netanyahu’s vision. They will not mind being squeezed into ever smaller ghettos and enclaves in order to allow for the continued expansion of Jewish colonies, whose inhabitants Netanyahu described as “an integral part of our people, a principled, pioneering and Zionist public.” And, in line with their heartfelt Zionism, Palestinians will naturally agree that “Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel.”

These are only the Palestinian-Israeli aspects of the Netanyahu plan. The regional elements include full, Arab endorsement of Palestinian Zionism and normalization of ties with Israel and even Arab Gulf money to pay for it all. Why not? If everyone becomes a Zionist then all conflict disappears.

It would be nice if we could really dismiss Netanyahu’s speech as a joke. But it is an important indicator of a hard reality. Contrary to some naive and optimistic hopes, Netanyahu does not represent only an extremist fringe in Israel. Today, the Israeli Jewish public presents (with a handful of exceptions) a united front in favor of a racist, violent ultra-nationalism fueled by religious fanaticism. Palestinians are viewed at best as inferiors to be tolerated until circumstances arise in which they can be expelled, or caged and starved like the 1.5 million inmates of the Gaza prison.

Israel is a society where virulent anti-Arab racism and Nakba denial are the norm although none of the European and American leaders who constantly lecture about Holocaust denial will dare to admonish Netanyahu for his bald lies and omissions about Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

Netanyahu’s “vision” offered absolutely no advance on the 1976 Allon Plan for annexation of most of the occupied West Bank, or Menachem Begin’s Camp David “autonomy” proposals. The goal remains the same: to control maximum land with minimum Palestinians.

Netanyahu’s speech should put to rest newly revived illusions — fed in particular by US President Barack Obama’s Cairo speech — that such an Israel can be brought voluntarily to any sort of just settlement. Some in this region who have placed all their hopes in Obama — as they did previously in Bush — believe that US pressure can bring Israel to heel. They point to Obama’s strong statements calling for a complete halt to Israeli settlement construction — a demand Netanyahu defied in his speech. It now remains to be seen whether Obama will follow his tough words with actions.

Yet, even if Obama is ready to put unprecedented pressure on Israel, he would likely have to exhaust much of his political capital just to get Israel to agree to a settlement freeze, let alone to move on any of dozens of other much more substantial issues.

And despite the common perception of an escalating clash between the Obama administration and the Israeli government (which may come over minor tactical issues), when it comes to substantive questions they agree on much more than they disagree. Obama has already stated that “any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state,” and he affirmed that “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided.” As for Palestinian refugees, he has said, “The right of return [to Israel] is something that is not an option in a literal sense.”

For all the fuss about settlements, Obama has addressed only their expansion, not their continued existence. Until the Obama administration publicly dissociates itself from the positions of the Clinton and Bush administrations, we must assume it agrees with them and with Israel that the large settlement blocks encircling Jerusalem and dividing the West Bank into ghettos would remain permanently in any two-state solution. Neither Obama nor Netanyahu have mentioned Israel’s illegal West Bank wall suggesting that there is no controversy over either its route or existence. And now, both agree that whatever shreds are left can be called a “Palestinian state.” No wonder the Obama administration welcomed Netanyahu’s speech as “a big step forward.”

What is particularly dismaying about the position stated by Obama in Cairo — and since repeated constantly by his Middle East envoy George Mitchell — is that the United States is committed to the “legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.” This formula is designed to sound meaningful, but these vague, campaign-style buzzwords are devoid of any reference to inalienable Palestinian rights. They were chosen by American speechwriters and public relations experts, not by Palestinians. The Obama formula implies that any other Palestinian aspirations are inherently illegitimate.

Where in international law, or UN resolutions can Palestinians find definitions of “dignity” and “opportunity?” Such infinitely malleable terms incorrectly reduce all of Palestinian history to a demand for vague sentiments and a “state” instead of a struggle for liberation, justice, equality, return and the restoration of usurped rights. It is, after all, easy enough to conceive of a state that keeps Palestinians forever dispossessed, dispersed, defenseless and under threat of more expulsion and massacres by a racist, expansionist Israel.

Through history it was never leaders who defined rights, but the people who struggled for them. It is no small achievement that for a century Palestinians have resisted and survived Zionist efforts to destroy their communities physically and wipe them from the pages of history. As long as Palestinians continue to resist in every arena and by all legitimate means, building on true international solidarity, their rights can never be extinguished. It is from such a basis of independent and indigenous strength, not from the elusive promises of a great power or the favors of a usurping occupier, that justice and peace can be achieved.

the anti-arab racism they describe above is rampant, though not always caught on camera or reported by the media. here is yet another instance of the common sorts of racist remarks made by zionist terrorist colonists made this week:

Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, who meant to praise an undercover police agent in Tel Aviv, referred to him as an “Arabush” (Hebrew equivalent of “sand nigger”) Tuesday.

this is the same kind of racism that stems from the jewish supremacist attitude that they can colonize palestine because they are the “chosen people” who “inherited” this land from god. and this racism is not reserved just for palestinians in the west bank and gaza. it is fundamentally a part of the zionist state and its society. it is what helped to create apartheid on both sides of the so-called “green line,” contrary to jimmy carter’s attestations to the contrary. stu harrison’s interview with palestinian member of kenesset haneen zoabi in electronic intifada this week she makes it quite clear how racism and apartheid function in 1948 palestine:

Zoabi said: “The rate of hostility has increased a lot. Seventy-five percent of Jewish people do not want to live in a society with Arabs.”

“On the question of apartheid, most towns are mixed, with both Arabs and Jews. Most of the Jewish population and the authorities in towns like Jaffa and Haifa, are trying their best to transfer Palestinians out so they can become purely Jewish towns.”

“They prevent the Palestinians from renovating their homes and they are trying to push them into giving up their homes so they will leave. Arabs are being attacked a lot more in the streets and in their market shops, comparing the last year to previous years.”

However, Zoabi said such attitudes are nothing new. “We have a special case of racism in Israel. You can’t find this kind of racism in any other country in the world, where the state usually defines itself neutrally.”

“This is not the case in Israel. We don’t struggle simply against discriminating policies or attitudes. We are against the very definition of the state and this is what differentiates our struggle.”

it is this kind of racism that also leads the zionist entity to constantly demolish palestinian homes and build new colonies. this week another spate of both emerged in the news. first, the house demolitions and orders for future demolitions of palestinian homes:

Two Palestinian families were given orders on Tuesday by the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem to demolish part of their homes.

One of the homes is located inside the old city of Jerusalem while the other is located in the nearby Palestinian dominated Silwan neighborhood.

Local sources said that since Friday the Israeli municipality had handed out five such orders to Palestinian families inside the walls of the old city.

and more homes in al quds:

At least a dozen Palestinian families in vireos parts of East Jerusalem received on Wednesday demolition orders issued by the Jerusalem Municipality.

According to the Israeli municipality the homes are built without the needed building permits.

The families started the illegal process by hiring a lawyer to get their case heard in the court, local sources reported.

Since last week the Israeli municipality has forced four families to demolish parts of their homes because they lacked the needed permission.

and another home in another neighborhood al quds:

The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that the home of Salim and Arabiya Shawamreh in Anata, which has already been demolished by the Israeli authorities four times and has become a center for the peaceful struggle against home demolitions, can be demolished yet again.

and in the jordan valley:

Israeli bulldozers demolished 15 animal barns and 3 shacks owned by Palestinian residents of Ein Al-Hilwa neighborhood in the Jordan Valley near Israeli settlement of Masquin, eyewitnesses reported Wednesday morning.

Palestinian Authority official Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors Israeli settlement activity in the northern West Bank, condemned the demolition describing it as part of a clear Israeli policy aimed at emptying the Jordan Valley of all Palestinian residents.

the above news items are part and parcel for palestinians every day, but there is a new report from save the children that ma’an published the other day showing that 300,000 palestinians face house demolitions right now:

Over 300,000 people are facing house demolitions in the occupied Palestinian territories, a report issued this week by the UK charity Save the Children says.

“House demolitions in the OPT have escalated and thousands of families and in some cases entire villages remain under the threat of bulldozers arriving to destroy their homes and being displaced any day,” said Salam Kanaan, Save the Children Country Director in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) in a statement.

The new report is titled “Broken Homes,” and was also authored by Palestinian Counseling Centre (PCC), and Welfare Association.

Since house demolitions started in 1967 it is estimated that the Israeli civilian and military authorities have destroyed over 24,000 homes. However, since 2000 the number of homes being destroyed has escalated with an average of more than a 1,000 homes demolished every year, Save the children said.

This year (2009) has seen a massive increase, with more homes being destroyed than at any time since the Israeli occupation began 40 years ago, the organization said. Nearly 4,000 homes were destroyed as a result of the military offensive in Gaza at the start of the year.

“The majority of house demolitions are carried out for so called ‘administrative’ reasons or as a result of military operations,” said Kanaan. “Families lose everything when their homes are demolished; clothes, food and furniture are all buried in the rubble. There is precious little help for these families who are left with nothing, no support, no protection.”

Among the facts stated in the report are:

More than half (52%) of the homes were demolished in a collective demolition where a series of homes or neighborhood was razed

Two people were killed during the demolition of their homes

Only 13% of families had a chance to collect their belongings before demolition began
97% of parents are at risk of a mental breakdown as a result of their homes being demolished

Children whose homes have been demolished show a decline in their mental health, suffering classic signs of trauma, becoming withdrawn, depressed and anxious

The majority of families whose houses were demolished were repeatedly displaced for long periods of time – over half the families (61%) took at least two years to find somewhere permanent to live

Over a quarter of families had to split up so they could all find somewhere to stay.

Once a house is demolished, the family not only loses their home and its contents but is also liable for the costs of the actual house demolition. This can run into thousands of dollars.

East Jerusalem residents, rural communities in the West Bank, Bedouin, and refugees living in camps, communities close to the Separation Wall or settlements, and areas near Gaza’s borders are at the greatest risk of displacement from building or house demolition. More than 300,000 Palestinians live in these areas.

of course the main reason for palestinian home demolitions is to build colonies for jewish zionists who steal the land on which these palestinian homes exist. and expect a great increase in those colonies this summer:

The Land of Israel Faithful group responded to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech by saying that they are planning to construct 30 new outposts in the West Bank. In his speech Netanyahu declared that no new settlements would be built and no extra land would be confiscated from Palestinians for settlement development.

The group told Israeli media that it was “recruiting activists for this summer’s outpost building”. It is planning to create outposts between the settlement of Ofra and Shiloh, in Gush Etzion, near Hebron and near the settlements of Elon Moreh and Bracha.

The settler group has been engaged in building and rebuilding outposts for the past two years. Many of them have been demolished several times by Israeli forces, but the group keeps rebuilding them with determination.

One of the outposts that was destroyed was the Moaz Esther outpost. In the beginning of this month it was taken down, but now it’s almost completely rebuilt again. The group explained that action has to be taken to strengthen the Jewish hold on the West Bank.

supposedly the united states is working to “freeze” the colony building project, but the zionist entity is being defiant and racist as is par for the course:

Visiting Washington, Israeli Foreign Minister of the right-wing extremist Yisrael Beiteinu Party, Avigdor Lieberman, told the US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, that Israel will not freeze the construction and expansion of settlements.

Clinton demanded Israel to stop the settlements as agreed upon with the former president, George W. Bush.

Lieberman said that the “Jewish people were born in Judea and Samaria, and will die there”, his statement totally disregarded the indigenous Palestinian people.

Clinton responded by stating that the United States under the Obama administration wants a freeze to all settlement activities.

The Israeli FM claimed that there was no written or even verbal agreement with Bush regarding the settlements. Clinton “agreed” and said that a compromise could be reached between the United States and Israel.

here is a report on lieberman’s visit with hillary clinton by tom ackerman on al jazeera yesterday:

regardless of what is being reported, it seems as though the obama administration–like all american administrations before it–will yield to the zionist entity and their demand for jewish-only racist colonies on stolen palestinian land:

The US may ease its demand for a total freeze on construction in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Tuesday.

Quoting anonymous Israeli officials, the newspaper said that this possible change in position was expressed during US Envoy George Mitchell’s visit to Israel last week, when he held a four-hour meeting on the settlement issue with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

but glenn kessler pointed out in the washington post the other day that there once was a time when the u.s. was clear–at least rhetorically–about the illegality of colonies (though, unfortunately, the u.s. has always supported the colonies in 1948 palesitne):

Thirty years ago, the State Department legal adviser issued an opinion in response to an inquiry from Congress: The establishment of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories “is inconsistent with international law.”

The opinion cited Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that an occupying power “shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” Israel has insisted that the Geneva Convention does not apply to settlers and broadly contests assertions of the settlements’ illegality.

Despite the passage of time, the legal opinion, issued during the Carter administration, has never been revoked or revised. President Ronald Reagan said he disagreed with it — he called the settlements “not illegal” — but his State Department did not seek to issue a new opinion.

But Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is unlikely to bring up the U.S. opinion when she meets today with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman at the State Department. Lieberman lives in a West Bank settlement, Nokdim, that was established in 1982 as a tent encampment of six families and now has more than 800 residents.

Despite repeated inquiries over the past week, State Department spokesmen declined to say whether the 1979 legal opinion is still the policy of the U.S. government.

and lest you think that the zionist entity’s racism is directed only at palestinians check out this new report on irin news about their human trafficking:

The latest US State Department report on trafficked persons, released on 16 June, says Israel is still a destination for men and women trafficked for forced labour and sexual exploitation.

Women from the former Soviet Union and China are still being trafficked across the border with Egypt into Israel for forced prostitution by organized criminal groups.

According to local NGOs, such as Isha L’iash and Moked, each year several hundred women in Israel – many of them foreigners – are trafficked within the country for commercial sexual exploitation, according to the report.

In 2006 Israel was put on the US State Department’s Tier 2 watch list and has been described as a “prime destination for trafficking” by both the State Department and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

colonial complicity

today nablus has been declared a closed military zone as saed bannoura reported in imemc:

In an attempt to prevent Israeli peace activists from entering the Nablus area, the head of the Central Command of the Israeli Army, Gadi Shamni, declared Nablus a closed military zone.

The army said that that there had been several complaints by the soldiers against members of the Machsom Watch (Checkpoint Watch) organization.

The army added that this decision applies to all Israeli citizens regardless of their ideology.

The decision was slammed by the Human Rights Organization “Yish Din”. The group said that only totalitarian countries bar human rights organizations from entering areas of conflict between the military and the civilian population.

The group added that such acts are meant to cover-up “criminal activities carried out by the soldiers at the roadblocks”, and added that “it won’t be surprised of Israel starts acting like China, by barring certain internet sites”.

what this means is that security in the prison that is nablus is even tighter than normal and travel in and out of nablus is going to be even more challenging than it already is on a daily basis. of course it is beyond ironic that it is palestinians in nablus being locked up when the terrorizing israeli colonists are on the loose and actively attacking innocent palestinians as saed bannoura reported earlier this week:

Palestinian sources reported on Monday morning that four Palestinians were wounded, one seriously, after being attacked by a group of extremist settlers at the Kidumim junction on the Nablus – Qalqilia road.

Ghassan Daghlas, in charge of the settlements file at the Palestinian Authority, stated that approximately at 5:30 a.m. the four Palestinians were on their way to work when they were attacked by a group of extremist Israeli settlers.

Palestinian medical sources stated that resident Ali Al Sidda, 44, from Jeet village near Nablus, was seriously wounded in his head and was moved to Al Arabi Specialized Hospital in Nablus.

Resident Mohammad Khalid, 32, suffered moderate wounds, while residents Shaker Sidda, and Ahmad Sidda suffered minor wounds. All are from Jayyous village near Qalqilia.

Daghlas demanded the international community and international human rights groups to intervene and put an end to the ongoing attacks carried out by the settlers and the solders.

it seems as if they are following the orders of american jewish rabbi manis friedman, in st. paul minnesota, calling on jewish colonists in palestine to murder with impunity:

“I don’t believe in western morality, i.e. don’t kill civilians or children, don’t destroy holy sites, don’t fight during holiday seasons, don’t bomb cemeteries, don’t shoot until they shoot first because it is immoral. The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle).”

yet another one of friedman’s likely pupils of terrorism unleashed his wrath in al quds yesterday–of course this will never be named terrorism by the zionist or international media, though its effect is the same and is in line with such zionist acts through the course of its colonizing history:

An Israeli settler shot and killed one Palestinian, on Tuesday at dawn, and seriously wounded a Jewish man near the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. The Israeli police described the attack as a “random shooting spree”.

while palestinians are imprisoned in nablus, this week israeli terrorist colonists have been busy destroying palestinian farm land in the farmland surrounding the city as palestine news network reported:

Mohammad Raja from the southern Nablus town of Burin sleeps on his land.

Planted with grain, Raja, or Abu Amar, is protecting his harvest.

However, at 2:30 am fire engines rushed to his defense. Israelis from the Itshar Settlement, built in the West Bank in contravention to international law, attacked the fields.

Itshar Settlement is routinely in the news as one of the most violent of Israeli settlements.

Fire fighters were able to save some of Abu Amar’s harvest, the rest of which was destroyed in the fire set by Itshar settlers.

“They have set fire to my home and land over the past three days, leading to total destruction. The barley is gone and with it the cattle feed,” said Abu Amar.

On the same day Israeli settlers attacked the citizens of the town Aurev in southern Nablus. Palestinians were working on their land not far from the center of town when a group of settlers rushed in. “We were attacked,” a farmer named Ghassan said. These assaults come after repeated attacks on southern Nablus.

Yitzhar is another settlement imposed on the Nablus Governorate in the northern West Bank known as strongholds of extremist settlers who launch these attacks under the protection of the occupying Israeli army.

After the fires on Abu Amar’s land settlers then torched crops in Burin just 12 hours later. “Dozens of dunams of barley crops planted in the eastern region of the town were burned,” the head of the Burin town council said.

Last year Israeli settlers burned 3,500 olive trees belonging to the same town.

Khaled Mansour is with the Public Action Committee of Agricultural Relief and said, “The burning of crops, the destruction of crops, the uprooting of trees and the attacks on famers are familiar behavior and are an organized policy each season.”

Not only do Israeli settlers target Palestinian plants and crops for the summer, but also employ a similar policy in the late fall’s olive harvest. Mansour said in a statement to the press today that such a strategy is used by the Israeli administration to force Palestinians to flee their land and send them to work in settlement factories.

of course, nablus is not the only village subjected to israeli terrorist colonialism. in the southern west bank, too, palestinian farmers and farmland is also under attack as katherine orwell reported for imemc:

Villagers from the Southern West Bank village of Safa, north of Hebron, have tried to harvest their lands that are located closely to the settlement of Beit Ayn, on Saturday morning. The Israeli army violently pushed the villagers of their lands, as settlers were gathering on near by hilltops. Later in the morning settlers came down and attacked a group of women and children, a local witness reported to IMEMC.

A group of internationals and Israelis went along with the villagers to help harvest the land. In the past few weeks there have continuously been problems with the army and settlers from the settlement of Beit Ayn, preventing the people of Safa to access and harvest their land.

During this time of year the people in Safa harvest the grape leaves, an important source of income for the village.

After the harvest started, the army arrived and ordered everyone to leave the lands, as they claimed the land, belonging to the Soleiby family, to be a closed military zone. The army gave the harvesters a ten minutes notice, then proceeded to push the group out by kicking and beating them. Two Israelis, that had joined the harvest, were arrested and taken away by the army.

The army told the people that the settlers were gathering and they were afraid that there might be problems. People in the group responded that the army had to take its responsibility and remove the ones creating the problems, not the ones suffering from it.

Instead soldiers turned up with batons, literally pushing the people off the land with their sticks.

During all that time settlers were watching on top of the hill, screaming racist slogans, such as: “Death to all the Arabs”. After some time the settlers came down the hill into the fields that belong to the village and started throwing stones. A group of 16 settlers attacked three old women and one child that were harvesting the grape leaves. Other settlers took the camera of an Israeli.

you can see some of the aftermath of this rampage on palestine video’s blog where there is afp video footage of this attack.

it is amidst this sort of zionist colonist terrorism that the words of some of these colonists are calling the u.s. terrorists, albeit ironically in this context, for asking the zionist colonial project to “freeze” its settlement expansion:

Israeli settler leaders accused the United Sates of “terrorism” on Monday because of calls for a freeze on construction in West Bank colonies.

“The Americans are employing political terrorism against the State of Israel,” said Danny Dayan, chairman of the Yesha Council settler organization, according to the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot.

“Not only is the Obama administration renouncing the commitments made by President George W. Bush in April 2004 – it’s looking as if they regret President Truman’s decision on May 14th 1948 to recognize Israel’s independence.”

In an interview with National Public Radio on Monday, Obama reiterated his view that settlement construction should come to a complete stop. “Part of being a good friend is being honest,” Obama said.

of course it does not matter what the u.s. says, as long as american taxpayers continue to fund these colonies full of terrorist colonists they will continue to destroy palestinian land, homes, and people. today there is a new structure to be built in wadi joz on the land where there is now a palestinian kindergarten:

Israeli authorities approved plans on Tuesday to demolish an East Jerusalem kindergarten and wholesale market in order to make way for a hotel and commercial center.

The plan for the hotel, in the Wadi Joz neighborhood near the Old City, was given a green light by the Jerusalem planning and building committee, which submitted the proposal for public comment, according to the newspaper Haaretz.

the zionist colonists will continue to build illegal colonies as they please as they always have. but they will also continue with their rhetoric about promises and laws when it suits them as donald macintyre reports for the independent about netanyahu’s latest claims:

The Israeli government of Benjmain Netanyahu is seeking to deflect Washington’s demand for a total settlement freeze by complaining that it ignores secret agreements between his predecessors and the Bush administration that construction in existing Jewish settlements could continue.

The rift between Mr Netanyahu’s government and the US appeared to deepen yesterday, with a clear declaration by President Barack Obama that a freeze – including on “natural growth” of West Bank settlements – was among Israeli “obligations”.

there is an interesting documentary on al jazeera’s “people and power” this week called “courtroom intifada” that addresses so many of these issues. juliana ruhfus travels to the palestinian village of bil’in where she shows us the on-going, four-year long struggle of the people in this village have been engaged in as the zionist terrorist colony of modi’in ilit continues to confiscate bil’in’s land. ruhfus takes you on a tour of their weekly protests and their land with mohammad khatib and his mother zahia khatib where an apartheid wall, here in the form of an electronic fence, separates zahia from her 1,000 year old olive trees. she takes you through the zionist terrorist colony where about 41,000 of them live; she takes you there with an israeli colonist named nir shalev who seems to think that before 1967 bil’in was jordan (yes, it was controlled by the hashemite regime, but this land never belonged to jordan). you’ll also see the israeli colonist who is helping people in bil’in with a court case that challenges the corporations profiting from the building of this colony.

the video packs in quite a bit. bottom line, as is made clear in ruhfus’ interviews: these are war crimes. the colonists, the corporations, and the governments funding this will one day receive retribution.

max bluementhal reported on more american complicity in zionist terrorist colonialism this week on the mondoweiss blog showing an american casino in hawaiian gardens (los angeles) that funds these zionist terrorist colonialist activities. here is his report and the video accompanying it, though i continue to have issues with the fact that mondoweiss thinks that 1948 palestine is an entity called “israel.” i, of course, refuse to acknowledge that it has a right to exist on stolen palestinian land. colonies are colonies, period.

A gathering of the settlement movement’s leading figures in Jerusalem on May 22, documented in this exclusive Mondoweiss report, revealed the unprecedented influence of the settlers on Israeli policy. The event, a ceremony for the presentation of the Moskowitz Foundation Prize for Zionism, was organized and bankrolled by one of Netanyahu’s closest confidants and backers, the American casino tycoon Irving Moskowitz. For over a decade, Moskowitz has funneled millions in profits from his California-based Hawaiian Gardens casino, where he has been sued for exploiting undocumented workers, into settlement construction projects in the West Bank, including Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. He has also funded several neoconservative think tanks including a research center named after Netanyahu’s brother, Yonatan, who was killed while leading the Entebbe rescue raid in 1976. Moskowitz and Netanyahu have remained close since he established the center.

In 1996, Moskowitz convinced Netanyahu, in his first round as prime minister, to open a tunnel adjacent to the Temple Mount, a controversial act that led to several days of rioting and 70 deaths. Four years later, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s provocative visit to the tunnel set off the so-called Al-Aqsa uprising, the opening salvo of the Second Intifada. Now, Moskowitz’s imprint on the West Bank’s landscape is most clearly reflected in the expansion of the settlement called Kiryat Arba, a hotbed of Orthodox Jewish radicalism located high above the occupied city of Hebron.

Kiryat Arba founder Noam Arnon is the recipient of the 2009 Moskowitz Prize, an honor that included $50,000 in cash. After receiving his prize before a cheering crowd of two thousand settlers, Arnon complained to me, “We think that somehow the Arabs have taken over the international media and the international mood, and they convinced the world to believe that there is a Palestinian people and these people deserve to have a Palestinian state — which is totally untrue.”

Despite the fanaticism of Arnon and his followers, who routinely rampage through Hebron, vandalizing Palestinian homes and attacking local residents (often under the watch of the Israeli army), they are not isolated as a rogue element in Netanyahu’s political world. Indeed, several of notables stood on stage to present Arnon with his prize. They included Professor Moshe Aumann, who won the Nobel Prize in 2005 for his work on understanding conflict through game theory, and Uzi Landau, the Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure. (Landau’s party, Yisrael Beiteynu, has introduced bills that would compel Arab citizens of Israel to take loyalty oaths and which would criminalize open discussion of what the Palestinians call “Nakbah,” or “catastrophe” of Israel’s founding). Also in attendance was Benny Begin, a leading Likud member of Knesset and the son of the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin, the first Likud prime minister.

After the ceremony, Landau mingled easily with settlement leaders, who beseeched him for support. Though Landau’s bodyguard attempted to prevent journalists from approaching him, my journalistic colleague Jesse Rosenfeld managed to ask him about Obama’s call for freeze on settlement construction. Visibly irritated by the mention of Obama’s demand, Landau issued an unequivocal statement. “Those who say, or are trying to suggest that Arabs can build anywhere and everywhere, and Jews can’t –it’s something that should be totally rejected.”

Since arriving in Israel, I have observed the battle over settlement expansion from an on-the-ground perspective. On May 16, I traveled with the Israeli peace group Ta’ayush to Hilltop 26, an illegal hilltop outpost constructed by settlers from Kiryat Arba – not an aspect of “natural growth.” Four angry settler youths confronted us upon our arrival; within minutes, a squadron of Israeli border police officers, soldiers and a Kiryat Arba security team were on the scene. The army swiftly issued a “closed military zone order,” ordering us to leave within five minutes or be arrested. While the soldiers initially allowed the settler youth to stay, the presence of international media apparently prompted them to briefly remove the teenagers while allowing their outpost to remain – an act that underscored the army’s collaboration with settlers to stifle the activities of peace groups. (See the confrontation in my exclusive Daily Beast video report here.)

if you saw my photographs from khalil the other day you would know that this zionist terrorist colonist speaking in the video–responsible for the attacks on palestinians and their homes–including setting fire to them–that he and his cohorts are clearly terrorists. and yet in this video notice how he says, “we are the most moderate people.” yes, perhaps, but in my book moderate has become the new dirty word.

turning point 3

i’m wondering what the first two turning points were. the last few days i’ve heard war games in the sky above beit lahem. all day long i’ve heard ominous war planes testing out the zionist entity’s doomsday scenario. here is an al jazeera report on the “defense” strategy it is testing, though for those of us here we know better; this is clearly a test for its next offensive strike:

Turning Point 3 comes just two weeks after the Israeli air force wrapped up a four-day exercise testing its ability to defend against strikes from Syria and Iran.

Israel believes Iran is developing nuclear weapons and has not ruled out a military strike on the country in response.

Iran says its nuclear programme is only for energy production.

Jacky Rowland, Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem correspondent, said that while Israel claims that the drill has “no special significance”, it is likely to be seen in the context of “Israel’s sabre-rattling towards Iran and also towards other neighbouring Arab countries”.

“It was only a couple of weeks ago that Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu was in Washington and he was really pushing the question of Iran and its perceived nuclear threat really to the top of the agenda of his talks with President [Barack] Obama,” she said.

“So, although Israel is saying that this is a defensive drill and it is really practising its ability to defend its civilians against attack from outside, inevitably it has to be interpreted by Israel’s Arab neighbours – and indeed the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank – as a warning, a not so subtle warning of Israel’s offensive capacities to strike should these circumstances arise.”

al jazeera’s “inside story” with kamahl santamaria had a discussion of this series of tests this week and its effect on the various regional players who will be subjected to these weapons in the zionist entity’s next attack:

of course any such impending war must be understood as a joint u.s.-zionist war on the palestinians, lebanese, syrians, iranians in the region given that the obama administration promises to continue funding and supplying the zionist terrorist army as saed bannoura reports:

Robert Wood, US State Department deputy spokesperson, stated Monday that he would not comment on the Times report regarding intentions of the Obama administration to condition its support to Israel with freezing the settlements, but added that the US would maintain its support to Israel in the United Nations.

Wood stated that President Barack Obama and his administration are clear in their stance that all parties involved in the Middle East Peace Process should maintain their obligations to ensure successful peace talks.

He also said that the United States has long worked to ensure that Israel receives what he described as “fair treatment” in the United Nations, and that his country will continue doing so.

Wood further said that Israel is a close friend and ally to the United States, and that the US will remain committed to Israel’s security.

ghassan bannoura reported that there were war sirens going off in 1948 palestine, although here in beit sahour we can only hear the planes overhead. while the zionist entity maintains that this is about “defense” there are many of us who see this as aggression:

According to the Israeli military, the training exercise is meant to prepare the Israeli military and the entire population for a regional war. Sergio Yanni, an Israeli political analyst, told IMEMC the exercise is aimed for butting Israelis in a state of fear.

“The People In Israel after the war in Lebanon and in Gaza don’t buy so much anymore the question that there is a real threat on Israel, there is a big discussion over how much the army should be budgeted, the objective of this drill is for internal propaganda to make people feel that Israel is in a situation of war, we can’t exclude a possible attack on Lebanon or Gaza in the near future this is a permanent question.” Sergio Yanni said.

The exercise comes in the midst of increasing Israeli rhetoric against Iran, and a statement just last week by the Israeli military that the Lebanese Hezbollah group now has possession of more rockets than it did before the 2006 war- although that statement was not backed up with any evidence.

The drill also includes training in how to repress the Palestinian population in the West Bank, Gaza and inside Israel during the three-front scenario. Faouzi Barhum, spokesman of the ruling Hamas party in Gaza told IMEMC via phone that the exercise is a form of attack.

“At first this military exercise could be considered as an attack, because it is to show the military criminal machine that killed children in Gaza and Lebanon, those drills could become a war at any time, because we expect everything from the occupation, it is clear that the division and state of salience among the Arabs have encouraged the Zionist regime of doing this military exercise.” Barhum told IMEMC.

al jazeera reports how this is perceived by others in the region as the zionist entity rationalizes its desire for perpetual justification for war and aggression:

Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros, reporting from Beersheva, where some of the drills were taking place, said there has been criticism from rights groups inside Israel about the exercises.

“They say it is all part of the militarisation of Israeli society and a way to perpetuate the idea of an ongoing war and ongoing fight that Israel is carrying out against the rest of the world,” she said.

“This has been subject to a lot of criticism because it in some way justifies Israel’s brutal force and the security measures it takes against the Palestinians.”

Israel began its national drills in the aftermath of the July-August 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, which revealed major weaknesses in how Israel dealt with the rocket attacks on its territory.

This year’s exercise comes just days before Lebanon holds a closely-fought election that could see the Hezbollah-led opposition become the new government.

The drills will also coincide with a regional tour by Barack Obama, the US president.

Israel is under pressure from the US to accept a Palestinian state, but it has also voiced fears of a strong Hezbollah in Lebanon and a strong Hamas in Gaza.

Alastair Crooke, director of the Conflict Forum in Beirut, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that there is a sense in the Arab world that Israel is looking toward the right for new solutions to its security concerns.

“It’s the sense of unwillingness for many Israeli leaders to see a Palestinian state pushed on it, at a time when Hamas is strong and when Hezbollah may be getting stronger, When America may be talking to Syria and talking to Iran at the same time,” he said.

“This leaves policy makers in Israel quite nervous and looking for ways to change the political paradigm in a way that will advance the Israeli sense of security.”

and, of course, given that the zionist entity is an apartheid regime, it is the colonists have access to bomb shelters and sirens; palestinians in 1948 palestine, for the most part, do not as saed bannoura reports:

A study conducted and released by the “Mubadarah” Israeli-Arab Rights group, revealed that 70% of the Arabs living in northern Israel do not have shelters or safe rooms, and the 25% of them do not have emergency sirens.

The reported also revealed that 80% of the Arab villages in Israel are not equipped to handle any crisis situation; this includes any sort of military escalation, missile strikes or even a natural disaster Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported.

Haaretz added that 75% of the residents of Nazareth, the largest Arab city in the country, have no access to private shelters, and the 99% of the residents of the Arava area do not have any access to shelters.

The report found that in many of the Arab communities included in the study, the safest places were schools, although they are not built to function as shelters.

It also revealed that in most of the mixed cities, where Arabs and Israelis live, Arab neighborhoods are not equipped to face emergency situations.

The study was conducted as Israel’s so-called Home Front Command of the Israeli military conducted a nation-wide week-long drill to test Israel’s readiness for war or catastrophe.

Part of the drill was testing 2300 sirens and also included requesting to citizens to hide in secure rooms for 10 minutes.

and, of course, it is not just the planning for its next war that is in our midst. it is the ongoing war, particularly the zionist terrorist army’s war against palestinians in gaza as saed bannoura reports about palestinian injuries today:

The Al Aqsa brigades, the armed wing of Fateh movement, reported that two of its fighters were wounded on Wednesday at dawn during clashes with Israeli forces near the Al Hawouz area, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

The brigades added that the two injured fighters were moved to a local hospital.

It stated that its fighters clashes with Israeli forces operating in northern Gaza, and added that the fighters will counter all Israeli assaults and will retaliate to “the ongoing Israeli crimes in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip”.

The brigades also claimed responsibility for firing thee RPG shells, on Tuesday evening, at a number of Israeli tanks located near the Gaza border.

it is not only palestinian people who are attacked with american-made weapons in the hands of zionist terrorist colonists. it is also palestinian land which is under attack, land which under normal circumstances would provide the food to sustain palestinian people in gaza. erin cunningham’s report in the christian science monitor on the ever-enlarging so-called “buffer zone” inside the gaza strip affects palestinian farmers from producing food and is a part of the on-going savaging of gaza:

Farmers and their families have been displaced, too afraid to return to their fields, while international humanitarian organizations are unable to make an assessment of the needs and damages of the area in the aftermath of the assault.

“We haven’t been able to visit this area. No organization has,” says Mohammed al-Shattali, project manager for the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in the Gaza Strip.

“The war increased the amount of land destroyed, particularly in the border areas, and the farmers can’t replant anything because it’s too dangerous,” he says. “The Israeli soldiers, they shoot at everything – dogs, sheep. They are very tense.”

An Israeli-imposed buffer zone in the already narrow enclave was established more than a decade ago to thwart attacks by Palestinian militants, who use the border areas to launch homemade rockets at Israeli towns or dig tunnels to carry out attacks against IDF troops stationed at the border.

But what was previously just a sliver of fortified land on the strip’s northern and eastern perimeters now, in the aftermath of Israel’s January offensive in the territory, swallows roughly 30 percent of Gaza’s arable farmland, according to the FAO.

It stretches as deep as 1.25 miles inside Gaza’s territory in the north and half a mile in the east, despite the 300-meter figure declared on the leaflets, the organization says. Gaza is just 25 miles long and slightly more than six miles wide.

you can see how this affects palestinian farmers on the blog farming under fire and here is a video encapsulating the experience of palestinians under attack by zionist terrorists every day:

but of course these war planes flying above our head, creating a kind of psychological terrorism for people living in palestine who have to hear this throughout the day, are not yet flying over our neighbors in lebanon and syria. nevertheless the fact that the last month or so has seen an extraordinary number of zionist spies in lebanon raises questions about things to come. al jazeera reported on more spies arrested this week:

Lebanon has charged four people with collaborating with Israel, raising to 23 the number of suspected spies who have been charged in the last few months, a court official has said.

Saqr Saqr, the military prosecutor charged the four men on Saturday with providing Israel with information about civilian and military positions and political figures.

General Jean Kahwaji, the Lebanese army commander, vowed to continue the crackdown against Israeli spies in a speech to troops on Saturday, Lebanon’s state news agency reported.

and now as ma’an news reports even an egyptian man has been arrested in lebanon because he has been helping his zionist colonist terrorist friends by spying on them in lebanon:

Lebanon has charged nine more people with spying for Israel, raising the number of formally accused collaborators to 35.

Lebanon’s National News Agency reported on Tuesday that military prosecutor Saqr Saqr charged the nine with collaboration and giving information to Israel about military and civilian installations and political figures, according to AP.

Separately, an Egyptian man and a Lebanese have been arrested for spying, security sources told AP.

practicing state terrorism

on monday ma’an news posted this item about

Israel will launch a nationwide military readiness drill next Sunday simulating an all-out regional war in addition to an uprising by Palestinians in the interior of the country.

The ominously-named “Turning Point 3″ exercise has alarmed Israel’s neighbors, who are concerned that it could be a cover for the start of an actual war. Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah said as much in an address he gave last week.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to reassure neighboring Arab states during a cabinet meeting on Sunday, saying “this is a routine drill, which was planned several months ago and is held every year in order to coordinate between civil and military systems,” according to the Ynet news agency.

The five-day exercise will simulate a war in Gaza that expands into an all-out regional conflict involving Hizbullah, Syria, and even a domestic uprising by Palestinians living in Israel.

The Israeli military will mobilize as if responding to these scenarios, and the political leadership will also rehearse their response.

The drill imagines a scenario in which, after 60 days of war on Gaza, including a ground offensive, Israel launches a war on Lebanon, provoking rioting in Israel and Palestinian attacks.

so war games will be played out in our midst in the coming week. i wonder why. apparently they are training for war with iran, which would, of course, entail a regional war. but make no mistake about it: iran is the zionist entity’s target as ha’aretz makes clear:

If Israel does not eliminate the Iranian threat, no one will, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday.

“Israel is not like other countries,” Netanyahu told his Likud faction in a meeting which came one week after his meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House. “We are faced with security challenges that no other country faces, and our need to provide a response to these is critical, and we are answering the call.”

“These are not regular times. The danger is hurtling toward us? The real danger in underestimating the threat,” Netanyahu said, addressing the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. “My job is first and foremost to ensure the future of the state of Israel … the leadership’s job is to eliminate the danger. Who will eliminate it? It is us or no one.”

for some context on this war–and a good dose of zionist propaganda from one of the zionist entity’s most evil propagandists–watch this episode of “inside iraq” with jasim al azzawi on al jazeera. it features my friend sayyed mohammed marandi, phillis bennis, and zionist terrorist colonist ranaan gissen:

of particular note is the discussion on the zionist entity’s nuclear arsenal:

Bennis: First of all, I think you know, Ranaan, the statement from Ahmadinejad, of course, as we know, is not the commander in chief of the Iranian military, or in charge of the Iranian nuclear program, despite being the president. Unlike in this country he doesn’t control that. But he didn’t say he would wipe Israel off the face of the earth because as you know from Juan Cole and other of the leading scholars of Shi’a Islam and Iran, that’s not an idiom that exists in Persian. What they said, and I quote here, was “the regime of Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time. Maybe offensive to many, but it is certainly not a threat that deserves to be answered with a nuclear attack.”

Gissen: I didn’t say nuclear.

Bennis: You didn’t have to. When the U.S. has provided bunker-buster missiles to Israel to use against alleged, so far non-existent, nuclear weapons, we are talking about nuclear missiles going back and forth…..

Gissen: We don’t want a nuclear winter here in the Middle East. We live here. We live here in the Middle East. We’re the last nation on earth that wants to see nuclear weapons used in the Middle East. And our stated policy has always been, since Ben Gurion’s days, we are not going to be the first nation to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East.

Azzawi: Excuse me? Excuse me?

Gissen: According to some reports–yes we have–look, we have the–we have the technological capability, but we are the last one to use it. Because we want to live in the Middle East. We don’t want to die a collective death like some of the shaeeds in Iran and other places. We are a peace-loving nation. We are the solution, not the problem.

Bennis: Israel has already introduced nuclear weapons into the region. They are there. They have been produced. They are there. Thank God no one has used them. That’s why we need to get rid of all of them. Israel needs to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty and agree to inspections.

Gissen: Why? Why?

Bennis: Because no one should have nuclear weapons. The United States is the biggest violator of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. It should set the example….

but there is a silver lining as imemc pointed out today:

Gabi Ashkenazi, the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army, stated during a meeting with a Knesset Committee on Tuesday, that the Lebanon-based Hezbollah party has more rockets and military power than it had before the second Lebanon war.

Ashkenazi claimed that Hezbollah is also increasing its power south of the Litany River, but added that the party is facing some difficulties due to the presence of the UNIFIL forces.

He also said that, right now, the party has more rockets and long-range ammunition than it had before the war.

Ashkenazi believes that Hezbollah is seeking retaliation to avenge the killing of its senior commander, Imad Mughaniyya, as the party blames Israel for the assassination.

Referring to Iran and what Israel calls the “Iranian Nuclear Threat”, Ashkenazi said that there is a sort of dialogue between Iran and the United States, but added that imposing sanctions on the Islamic Republic is essential.

He claimed that Israel and some Arab countries have common interests in “halting the Iranian nuclear ambitions”, and added that a firm economic pressure would push Iran to change its policies.

Yet, he also said that Israel is ready for any possible scenario that could take place, including military action.

on cultural genocide

in jonathan cook’s brilliant book disappearing palestine, he documents a number of ways in which zionists ethnically cleanse palestinians from their land historically and currently. but in one section of the book he talks about other forms of genocide:

“Genocide” is widely, and mistakenly, assumed to refer only to an act of mass extermination of a racial or ethnic group akin to the industrialized murder of Europe’s Jews committed by the Nazis. In fact, the word’s legal definition is far broader. The lawyer who coined the term, Raphael Lemkin, was a Polish Jew who fled to the United States during the Second World War. Lemkin’s determination to alert the world to the horrors of genocide was prompted not just by the Holocaust but by earlier massacres: of the Armenians by the Turks during the First World War, and of the Assyrians in Iraq in 1933. In 1943 Lemkin offered this definition of genocide:

Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily meant he immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be the disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups.

(132-133)

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i wrote about this happening from afar when the al quds capital of arab culture festival took place and the israeli terrorist forces kept trying to shut it down. tonight i witnessed cultural genocide up close. i smuggled friends in from beit lahem to al quds to attend the palestinian literature festival. we got there early and ate lunch and wandered around the old city. we ran into shadia mansour and dam in the street. we discovered there was a hip hop concert tonight too, which we went to later. but first we went to the palestinian literature festival, which was kicking off a week of events tonight at al hakawati also known as the the palestinian national theatre.

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as we walked down salah el din street towards the theatre we started seeing lots of israeli terrorist forces vehicles. and then we discovered that these cars were blocking the back entrance of the theatre. we could not go down that street because that would mean that we would risk my friends going to jail for being illegally inside their own country. so we walked down another block to enter on the other side. i walked a bit ahead to make sure there were no soldiers and it seemed okay so we walked in. but all of a sudden we saw people carrying food trays (for the reception that was supposed to be starting just then). everyone was walking out. i ran into my friends basem and sami and they told us that special forces were inside and that they shut down the festival. everyone was heading out to the french cultural center about four blocks down the street where we were going to be allowed to continue. supposedly. the photographs above are shots i took of what we saw when we first approached the theatre and of people leaving en masse.

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the festival organizers regrouped quite well at the french cultural center, but the israeli terrorist forces followed us and as the picture above shows, lined salah el din street for quite some time after the program got started in the new location. all of my friends were very upset that they agreed to move. they wanted to see the festival organizers resist this attempt at cultural genocide and let them attack this group of literati because they believe that it would have really kickstarted a third intifada. on the one hand, this would have been good for the foreigners here to really see what zionists do to palestinians on a daily basis. on the other hand, they still witnessed it, but a much milder form of it. it would have been better if they started with the tear gas. in any case, the venue was moved and the program proceeded. however, because all of the translation equipment was in al hakawati, it was problematic because all the readings were in english and there were a number of people, including my friends, who wanted to hear the readings in arabic. there were two groups of readings today. the first moderated by ahdaf soueif included carmen callil, henning mankell, and claire messud; the second was moderated by victoria brittain and included abdulrazak gurnah, deborah moggach, and m.g. vassanji.

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the sound system at the french cultural center was really difficult to hear and because we were outside in this location there were so many street sounds that made it difficult to pay attention. and i found it disturbing that the program just began and people did their readings of their literature and went on as usual. of course this is one way of resisting and asserting that palestinian culture will continue in al quds, in palestine. but at the same time there are ways to connect the literature and the situation a bit more concretely. a couple of writers remarked about the attempt at cultural genocide, but from my perspective it was not enough.

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at least on the walk over and during the readings i got to see and talk a bit to two of my favorite writers who are here for the festival: poets nathalie handal and suheir hammad (suheir above with ahmed). and i cannot wait to hear them read their poetry because this is the real reason i’m so excited about the festival. tomorrow the festival will begin its travels across palestine to ramallah, jenin, beit lahem, khalil for the rest of the week because palestinians cannot travel freely culture must travel to them.

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after the literature festival my friends and i went down to borderline, a palestinian restaurant in sheikh jarrah, to see the hip hop concert. it featured local groups like g town and dam (photo above) and shadia mansour and others from europe and the united states. what is striking is that if we’re talking about cultural resistance the writers who read tonight were not palestinian nor was their literature that they read from particularly political or connected to palestine. and yet the concert went on without any israeli terrorist forces anywhere in the vicinity of the restaurant. here is an older video of shadia mansour and dam at a ramallah concert singing a duet of “bidi salam”:

and here is the ma’an news report on today’s events:

Israeli police and armed border officials shut down the Palestinian National Theater in East Jerusalem on Saturday, in an effort to quash the Palestine Festival of Literature and prevent international writer and poets from addressing Palestinians.

The weeklong festival, sponsored in part by the British Council and UNESCO, was scheduled to begin at 6:30 with two panel discussions by authors from Canada, Britain, South Africa and Australia. The second annual festival will travel around Palestine and decided to begin and end events in Jerusalem in honor of Al-Quds Capital of Culture 2009.

In a last minute effort to let the show go on, organizers moved the event to the French Cultural Center also in East Jerusalem. Audience members crowded on the lawn outside the building as book readings and discussions on the theme of displacement in world literature were interrupted by power cuts and police sirens.

The spectators and litterateurs were greeted at the new event by five Israeli police vehicles stationed outside the garden wall.

According to some reports the initial decision to close down the performance at the National Theater was made at the request of the Israeli Interior Ministry. The move mirrors efforts to quash celebrations of Jerusalem culture for the 2009 Capital of Culture events.

The French consul, as well as Head of the Palestinian President’s office Rafiq Al-Husseini, attended the event. Al-Husseini, as well as the six authors who spoke in an abbreviated format, condemned the Israeli actions.

Al-Husseini also praised France for stepping up to host the event, viewing it as empowering Palestinian demands for reopening closed offices in the capital.