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.

yes, boycott works.

i often feel annoyed when i get certain responses to the boycott campaign. here are a few such typical responses:

1. it’s too hard, there are too many companies to boycott (the whiney response)

2. i cannot give up my (insert your favorite product here, e.g., coca-cola) (the lazy response)

3. it doesn’t work, it has no effect (the pessimistic response)

of course we know that it does work. it worked in south africa on many levels as the amazing bill fletcher laid out last week in an interview on radio intifada. his life-long work in labor, anti-racist, and anti-apartheid organizing as well as palestinian liberation organizing is discussed in this interview, which gives us a sense of the possible and the probable.

but there is also increasing, tangible evidence of the fact that it is indeed working as in rachel shabi’s report in the guardian this week:

Israeli companies are feeling the impact of boycott moves in Europe, according to surveys, amid growing concern within the Israeli business sector over organised campaigns following the recent attack on Gaza.

Last week, the Israel Manufacturers Association reported that 21% of 90 local exporters who were questioned had felt a drop in demand due to boycotts, mostly from the UK and Scandinavian countries. Last month, a report from the Israel Export Institute reported that 10% of 400 polled exporters received order cancellation notices this year, because of Israel’s assault on Gaza.

“There is no doubt that a red light has been switched on,” Dan Katrivas, head of the foreign trade department at the Israel Manufacturers Association, told Maariv newspaper this week. “We are closely following what’s happening with exporters who are running into problems with boycotts.” He added that in Britain there exists “a special problem regarding the export of agricultural produce from Israel”.

in london, in particular, the boycott movement is getting rather creative as in this story from indymedia about their economic boycott israeli apartheid campaign:

Londoners converged towards Tesco supermarkets in West London in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

Avocados, pomellos, cherry tomatoes, herbs and dates grown in Israel and on illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank were trapped in baskets and trolleys in order to disrupt the sale of such produce and symbolise the need for clear international action against illegal Israeli settlements and Israeli war crimes in the region. Leaflets were placed on the empty shelves explaining the role of Israeli goods in funding Israeli settler colonialism and state violence.

Tesco, and most supermarkets in Britain, stock and sell Israeli goods including produce from illegal Israeli settlements implanted in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. Some of this settlement product is misleadingly labelled ‘West Bank’ leading many customers to believe they are buying Palestinian produce, while some is labelled ‘made in Israel’ even though the settlements are clearly colonial entities outside of Israel’s internationally recognized borders.

criminal-israeli-goods

but here in the above boycott action i continue to be frustrated by these western acts of solidarity that define palestine as only the west bank and gaza. this is a very small fraction of palestine. there are many israeli colonial companies occupying the land of destroyed palestinian villages and that profit off of this land theft and ethnic cleansing. these companies must be boycotted as well–and this includes those american and european companies doing the same thing here. all of this is occupied land. all of these companies must be boycotted.

there is also excellent news coming from the u.s. campaign to end the occupation in the monthly review zine about success with the boycott motorola campaign:

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and allied organizations participating in a national boycott campaign against Motorola welcomed news that Motorola Israel Ltd. has sold its Government Electronics Department, which made several products that enable Israel’s military occupation of and human rights abuses against Palestinians.

The reported sale of the Motorola Israel department occurred just two days after a globally-coordinated day of action to promote campaigns of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel and corporations that profit from its human rights abuses of Palestinians. This day of action and the growing global BDS movement were inspired by the 2005 call from Palestinian civil society for BDS campaigns targeting Israel, similar to campaigns targeting South Africa’s apartheid regime during the 1970s and 1980s.

this is excellent progress and needs to continue to build momentum because while people around the world are actively working to pressure the zionist entity in order to turn it into a pariah state, its partners in crime, mainly the united states, continue to support israeli terrorism as can be gleaned from this amnesty international report:

A massive consignment of US munitions was delivered to Israel in recent weeks, according to information revealed by Amnesty International. The organization received information that the Wehr Elbe, a German cargo ship, chartered and controlled by US Military Sealift Command, docked and unloaded its cargo of reportedly over 300 containers at the Israeli port of Ashdod, just 40km north of Gaza by road on 22 March.

The German ship left the USA for Israel on 20 December, one week before the start of Israeli attacks on Gaza. It was carrying 989 containers of munitions, each of them 20 feet long with a total estimated net weight of 14,000 tons.

Asked about the Wehr Elbe, a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed to Amnesty International that “the unloading of the entire US munitions shipment was successfully completed at Ashdod [Israel] on 22 March”. The spokesperson said that the shipment was destined for a US pre-positioned ammunition stockpile in Israel. Under a US-Israel agreement, munitions from this stockpile may be transferred for Israeli use if necessary.

clearly the u.s. and the zionist entity alike have a history of violating international law as george bisharat makes clear in this electronic intifada article:

Israel’s campaign to rewrite international law to its advantage is deliberate and knowing. As the former head of Israel’s 20-lawyer International Law Division in the Military Advocate General’s office, Daniel Reisner, recently stated: “If you do something for long enough, the world will accept it. The whole of international law is now based on the notion that an act that is forbidden today becomes permissible if executed by enough countries … International law progresses through violations. We invented the targeted assassination thesis and we had to push it. At first there were protrusions that made it hard to insert easily into the legal molds. Eight years later, it is in the center of the bounds of legitimacy.”

In the Gaza fighting, Israel has again tried to transform international law through violations. For example, its military lawyers authorized the bombing of a police cadet graduation ceremony, killing at least 63 young Palestinian men. Under international law, such deliberate killings of civilian police are war crimes. Yet Israel treats all employees of the Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip as terrorists, and thus combatants. Secretaries, court clerks, housing officials, judges — all were, in Israeli eyes, legitimate targets for liquidation.

Israeli jurists also instructed military commanders that any Palestinian who failed to evacuate a building or area after warnings of an impending bombardment was a “voluntary human shield” and thus a participant in combat, subject to lawful attack. One method of warning employed by Israeli gunners, dubbed “knocking on the roof,” was to fire first at a building’s corner, then, a few minutes later, to strike more structurally vulnerable points. To imagine that Gazan civilians — penned into the tiny Gaza Strip by Israeli troops, and surrounded by the chaos of battle — understood this signal is fanciful at best.

Israel has a lengthy history of unpunished abuses of international law — among the most flagrant its decades-long colonization of the West Bank. To its credit, much of the world has refused to ratify Israel’s violations. Unfortunately, our government is an exception, having frequently provided diplomatic cover for Israel’s abuses. Our diplomats have vetoed 42 UN Security Council resolutions to shelter Israel from the consequences of its often illegal behavior.

there are so many ways in which the israeli terrorist state violates laws. not only by bombing and murdering palestinians, but also by the way it continues to steal land and destroy palestinian homes every day. a new report details this staggering history, though only in recent years, although this has gone on since the late 19th century:

At least 19,000 Palestinian homes have been destroyed by Israel, Limes magazine, the Italian geopolitical review publication, reported on Tuesday….

The article breaks down the numbers as follows:

In 5% of cases, demolition is defined as punitive, the magazine said.

In 35% of cases the demolitions were based on home owners lacking proper permits. The magazine reminds its reader, “is important to remember that very often the Palestinians have no other choice but to build illegally because obtaining permits has become almost impossible.” It also notes that 95% of permit applications made in 2000-20007 were denied.

According to the publication, 65% of the demolitions were described as “military,” defined as “homes razed to the ground by the Israeli army during military operations.”

For 2009 data, the magazine quotes the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, which puts the number of homes demolished since January at 32.

The article concludes that the issue of house demolitions is destined to become “An increasingly central issue not only within the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, but also in the international context and is likely to destabilize even the most solid alliances that Israel has with some long-time friends, first of which is the United States.”

these reports are often written by various international agencies and ngos, though they rarely amount to anything because there is not the pressure applied to the regime after the evidence is collected and documented. for instance a new report about the illegality of israeli colonies in al quds:

A confidential report from the European Union, dated March 7th, recently leaked to the media accuses Israel of “using settlement expansion, house demolitions, discriminatory housing policies and the West Bank Separation barrier to actively pursue the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem.”

Recently, Israeli officials announced plans to demolish over 2,000 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, an announcement that was met with anger and outrage from the Palestinian residents, many of whom have lived in East Jerusalem for scores of generations. The new report acknowledges the recent increase in settlement expansion and the plans of the newly-formed Israeli government for the destruction of whole neighborhoods of Palestinian homes at an even greater rate.

The new Jerusalem mayor has announced plans to destroy huge swathes of Palestinian homes and replace them with a Disney-like biblical theme park for tourists. Most affected are the Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah neighborhoods.

The EU report cites Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that prohibits “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory….” Neither shall “The Occupying Power….deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” In addition, numerous UN resolutions established “no legal validity” for settlement building or for East Jerusalem’s annexation.

Yet settlement expansions continue at a “rapid pace” – in the past year alone plans for nearly 5500 new units have been submitted for public approval of which 3000 have already been approved.

The rapid takeover of Palestinian land in East Jerusalem has been taking place largely without international outcry, despite the illegality of the expansion under international law and the signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

just as bisharat discusses in the article quoted above, the zionists always ignore such reports because they can: no one ever does anything to stop them from murdering and stealing and rendering palestinians homeless refugees. here, for example, is a colonial court ruling:

A petition presented by a Palestinian homeowner from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem was rejected by an Israeli court on Wednesday, a decision which will allow home demolitions to move forward.

The homeowner, Darwish Hijazi, presented his home ownership documents to the Israeli court, but the judge rejected the documents. Israeli settlers moved onto Hijazi’s property several years ago, and he was unable to get rid of them or stop them from taking over his land and moving into his home.

Now, despite being the original homeowner and long-time resident, it is Hijazi who will be forced to move to allow the Israeli settlers, who took over parts of his home using violence and force, to remain.

whether it is their so-called “justice system” or the israeli colonists themselves, along with their terrorist army or police, they continue to terrorize palestinians attempting to provoke various methods of ethnic cleansing: just as in 1948 and every day since then. this is what happened in al quds this weekend:

Dozens of Israeli settlers backed by police took over a Palestinian house in the Old City of Jerusalem on Thursday morning.

Ma’an’s correspondent observed settlers raiding the house of Naser Jaber, in the As-Sa’diyeh neighborhood of the Old City. A scuffle took place between the owner and the settlers before police intervened, allowing the settlers to take control of the house and sending the owner away.

Israeli police then imposed a neighborhood lockdown, prohibiting residents from entering or leaving their homes. Several youth were seized during ensuing clashes in the tense half hour between the arrival of the settlers and the total closure of the area.

Jaber went immediately to the court to put forward his case, saying he was going to demand the removal of the settlers from his residence, which is home to eight. Jaber noted that the small area of the Old City is home to seven other families and said there had been a repeated settler presence in the area over the past months.

Also on Thursday the the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem Municipality demolished a shop near the Shmidt School, on Nablus road, just outside of the Old City. The municipality claimed that the shop was built without permits.

Separately, personnel from the Jerusalem Municipality went to the Jerusalem-area village of Al-Issawiya, and handed out several demolition warnings. The men surveyed the area in preparation for the demolitions.

in khalil they are doing the same thing:

Settlers in Hebron took over four shops on Ash-Shuhada Street in the Old City market in the area abutting the illegal Israeli settlement of Abraham Avinu.

Several Ash-Shuhada Street shops were ordered closed in 1994 following the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre. The street is a market road roughly parallel north of the Old City. Access to the street was totally restricted in 2000, so only residents of the area could enter the zone.

Recently pressure from locals and international NGOs have allowed some shops in the area to re-open, although the decision was met with anger and protests from Hebron’s 700-strong settler population, some who live in occupied homes and trailers just north of the street.

The shops occupied by the settlers Friday belong to Azzam E’wewi, Baha E’wewi, Hussam Bader and Muhammad Qawasmi. The shops have been closed since 1994.

and near where i live in nablus more land is set to be confiscated as well:

Israeli authorities issued orders to confiscate more than one thousand dunums of Palestinian lands of the village of Qaryut south of Nablus, head of the villages and municipal affairs office in Nablus Ghassan Daghlas said on Thursday.

On the land a road will be constructed linking the three illegal settlements, He noted that “this decision aims at to construct a three kilometer road to link the Israeli illegal settlement of Shilo, and the illegal settlement outposts of Hayovel and a second known locally as the “Qaryut” outpost.

Daghlas noted that Israeli bulldozers had been surveying the area for days, and that there seemed to be a coordinated effort between soldiers and settlers, who constructed a road barrier near the village of Der Sharaf, while military crews expanded the Yitzhar road after confiscating Palestinian lands adjacent to it.

The village representative also mentioned that several home demolition orders were served in the past weeks in the nearby villages of Tana and At-Tawila, both south of Nablus.

Head of the village council of Qaryot, Abed An-Naser Badawi, told Ma’an that “the settlers along with the soldiers blocked the southern entrance of the village and began to confiscate the land.” The day before he said settlers distributed written orders saying the land would be confiscated.

Qaryot village has a population of more than 2700 people is surrounded with a number of Israeli settlements.

and, of course, israeli terrorists do not only steal land; they steal people too. in khalil there is a new report on the numbers of palestinians kidnapped:

The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) in Hebron district stated in its monthly report that the Israeli army have kidnapped more than 101 Palestinians in several invasions in the province since last March.

Amjad Najjar, head of the Hebron branch of the PPS said “Among the detainees, one woman, 11 patients, 4 children and 17 students, and 12 detainees had been transferred to administrative detention”.

Najjar added that the army kidnapped 361 residents in Hebron since the beginning of this year, including 91 who were kidnapped in February.

“Israeli soldiers committed during the arrests several illegal violations against the prisoners and their families. This included beating them with rifle-butts, vandalising and demolishing their homes, detaining family members in one room, looting money and confiscating documents, computer equipment and mobile phones.” Najjar stated.

Najjar called for human rights institutions and the international community to intervene for the protection of the Palestinian people from the illegal Israeli practices.

likewise in jenin there was an invasion yesterday in which several palestinians were kidnapped:

The Israeli military kidnapped Thursday morning 12 residents, including elders and children, in a village near Jenin, in the northern part of the West Bank.

Eyewitnesses reported that more than 20 military vehicles stormed the village at two after midnight on Thursday, surrounded a neighborhood after closing all entrances, and prevented people from leaving, and even barred from going to dawn prayers at the local mosque.

The residents said that soldiers raided homes, forced dozens out, searched the buildings and deliberately destroyed their contents.

A citizen said that the soldiers occupied his house for several hours, and after searching it they kidnapped his 15-year-old son and took him to unknown destination.

The resident added that soldiers took several young men to the main village square and interrogated them before kidnapping a number of residents.

these are just a few more reasons to continue and expand the boycott movement. do you really need that bottle of coca cola?

revolution of the full

last night i was talking to a dear friend in deheishe refugee camp who said “we have a revolution of the full.” he meant that because palestinians have full bellies, meat in their refrigerators there is little resistance here in the west bank. it is an interesting theory to consider: if people resist and fight for their rights more when they don’t have enough to eat than when they do. it is a theory that palestinians in lebanon have uttered many times before, though not quite like this. we had been talking about the day i spent in aqraba. as i wrote last week, there are some nabulsi friends of mine who were organizing to come to aqraba yesterday to join the people in friday prayer. we connected with someone in an najah’s student council and someone in a leftist group called tanweer who was coordinating with the village so we could go and support them. my friends and i wrote a bayan and sent it to the others and at our meeting last week it seemed as if we were all on the same page. they promised at least 100 people would go (which is a paltry sum, i know), but in any case it would be symbolic. here was our bayan:

الساكت عن حقه شيطان أخرس

جماهير شعبنا المناضل,
إخوتنا المتضامنين معنا ومن جميع أنحاء العالم :-
مع استمرار الحكومات الإسرائيلية وإمعانها في سياساتها العنصرية تجاه الشعب الفلسطيني من قتل , وتهجير , وهدم , منذ أكثر من قرن والتي أدت إلى تهجير ثلاثة أرباع شعبنا الى مخيمات اللجوء واستشهاد وجراح مئات الآلاف بن أبناء وطننا .
تأبى الآلة العسكرية الآ أن تثبت السياسة الصهيونية التوسعية على عذابات الشعب الفلسطيني المناضل .
تنفذ الحكومة الإسرائيلية مخططا خطير على عدة مراحل, يستهدف هذه المرة قرية عقربا , وتجبر العديد من المزارعين على الخروج من أراضيهم التي تشكل مرتكز حياتهم ,تصادر عددا من المنازل وتهدد الأهالي بهدم 20 بيتا بالأضافه لمسجد ومدرسة القرية وذلك لإقامة طريق يصل بين المستعمرات الإسرائيلية ( يتسهار , اتمار , جتيت ) .
يبدو أن الحكومة الإسرائيلية توهمت بأن الشعب الفلسطيني قد عدم مقومات النضال,يخشى مواجهة إجراءاتها العنصرية بحق الإنسان والأرض الفلسطينية , مراهنة على عدم اهتمام المواطنين الفلسطينيين بآلام إخوانهم في كل مكان.
ان واجبنا الأخلاقي والوطني والديني يدفعنا إلى تلبية نداء أهالي قرية عقربا ليس بقلوبنا فحسب بل بالمشاركة الفعلية بالدفاع عن الأراضي والبيوت الفلسطينية المهددة بالمصادرة أو الهدم.
و نحن إذ نظهر تضامننا مع إخوتنا فان هذا نابع من أننا على يقين بأن منزلنا قريتنا و حياتنا معرضة لخطر المد الاستيطاني في وقت ما.
ولهذا ندعوكم للمشاركة بفعاليات التضامن مع أهالي قرية عقربا
يوم الجمعة الموافق 27/3/2009.

مشاركتكم , إفشال للمخطط الإسرائيلي الاستعماري العنصري.

نقطة التجمع دوار مدينة نابلس
الساعة التاسعة صباحا للانطلاق نحو القرية المهددة .

ليكن العلم الفلسطيني الراية التي توحدنا والخيمة التي تضمنا جميعا .
إخوانكم لجنة التنسيق الفصائلي وكافة المؤسسات والفعاليات الوطنية في محافظة نابلس.

المرفقات : خارطة مبسطه للقرى المهددة ومراكز التهديد.

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor

Dear sister and Brothers:- For more than a century the Israeli government has continued to persist in its racist policies against the Palestinian people which led to displacement more than three-quarters of our people to refugee camps, the creation of martyrs and wounded hundreds of thousands others. The Israeli government is carrying out a dangerous plan. This time it is aimed the village of Aqraba where many farmers are being forced from of their land, the essence of their livelihood. They are confiscating a number of homes by threatening to demolish 20 houses including the village school and mosque in order to establish a road between the Israeli colonies (Yitzhar, Itamar, Getit).The Israeli government seems to be thinking that the Palestinian people have lost their resources to struggle, afraid to face its racist actions against humanity, betting on the people’s lack of attention to the pain of their brothers. We all have a national, moral, fair and humanitarian duty to respond to the people of the village of Aqraba, by appealing not only with our hearts, but also with our active participation to defend the Palestinian land and homes. As we show our solidarity with our brothers, we know for sure that next time our village and our lives will be massively threatened by these colonies’ expansion. For this we invite you to participate in the activities of solidarity and to Struggle with the people of the village of Aqraba.

Friday, the 27th of March 2009.

Your participation is step towards demolishing the colonial racist plans of Israel.

Gathering point, Nablus City Center At 9am then to move on towards the threatened village.

Let the Palestinian flag unify and gathering us all.

Your brothers of the Coordination Committee of all factional and national actors and institutions in Nablus

Annexes: a simplified map of the threatened villages and the centers of that threat

nablussoutheasternvillages-mashariq-al-bitawi-villages-page-2731-copy

the bayan was altered by the people we met with at tanweer as follows:

دعوه خاصه

اتحاد لجان العمل الزراعي و مجلس بلدي عقربا واللجنه المحليه للمقاومه الشعبية ان الاحتلال الصهيوني لا يزال ممعنا في سياسته التوسعيه الاستيطانيه العنصريه والتي لا تعرف حدودا ولا احتراما لايه قواننين دوليه ومشاعر انسانيه.ان ما يحدث اليوم في القدس الحبيبه وفي باقي المواقع وفي بلدتنا عقربا حيث سيتم هدم المنازل وتدمير ابار المياه وقطع الكهرباء وتفريغ الارض من ساكنيها فاننا نتشرف بدعوتكم لحضور مهرجان الصمود و التصدي المزمع عقده في بلده عقربا يوم الجمعه الموافق الساعه الوتاحده والنصف بعد الظهر لمكان مدرسه عقربا الثانويه للبنين حضوركم دعما لاهلكم في عقربا ورفضا لسياسة الاحتلال العنصري

Private invitation

The Agricultural Work Committees Union Aqraba Village Council and Local Committee of the popular resistance

At this time the Israeli occupation continues to move forward with its racist settlement expansion policy, which knows no limits
without taking any consideration of the human right to be free and safe on their own land and without honoring or respecting international law. What is happening today in our beloved Jerusalem is also happening in many other Palestinian sites like our Aqraba village. The racist apartheid regime will start it is campaign by demolishing a number of houses and cut the people off from their electricity to unload the land of its inhabitants. For all that and more, we proudly invitie you to attend the repel festival
that will take place on the threatened land of Aqraba village.

On Friday 27-3-2009 ,1:30 PM
Aqraba Secondary School for Boys
Your attending is a support for people Aqraba and rejection of the occupation racist policy

in the end my friends and i–a small group of about 6–decided to go ahead with our plans to go in the morning to join the people in friday prayer in the mosque that is threatened to be destroyed. we arrived and it seemed that the people from the valley–the area that is under threat–were had come up to the center of the village on the mountain above to join this so-called “festival.” (the word–المهرجان–sounds strange when translated into english in this context and other contexts like the festival of al awda organization in baddawi refugee camp in lebanon.) when we arrived it also seemed that the israeli terrorists knew what was up. in fact, all morning huwara checkpoint in nablus had been closed down and no one was allowed to pass. we had to go through beitiba checkpoint anyway because i had the yellow license plates and did not want to waste time figuring out if we could cross huwara and then spend an hour driving all the way around the other side. but when we arrived we were told that in aqraba’s valley the israeli terrorist soldiers were waiting for us. we spent the morning meeting people in this organization–the union of agrucultural working committees–which seems to do good, non-political party affiliated work. it is helping palestinians to resist by helping them access their lands and continue to farm it even when it is confiscated, even if it exists on the other side of the apartheid wall. apparently, the palestinian authority does not help them at all and does not like their work because they think that this organization wants to steal some power (“they think we want a piece of their cake” was the exact expression used). this is, for me, a sign that they are a group that deserves respect and is doing important work.

aqraba village center
aqraba village center

it was still unclear what was happening but then they wanted us to move to the school for the “festival.” after that we would go down to the village. so we walked over to the school. i had thought that at least we would be having this “festival” in the school that is threatened, but it wasn’t. when we arrived there were hundreds of chairs and a sound system set up. my friend remarked that this costs a lot of money. and all of a sudden it became clear what this “festival” would consist of: men from the village giving speeches. we obliged because if this is what the wanted to do, we were there to support them. but at the same time my nabulsi friends wanted to meet with the people in the valley and see for themselves what was happening and see how they could support them. we wound up waiting for a few hours. even the nabulsi tv crew that came along wound up having to leave because the story was not these speeches, but the people down below. we did wind up meeting a couple of people while we were waiting, however, who came to talk to us. they brought documents with them showing us the papers, over the years, that have been used to steal the land from the people of aqraba. one of them agreed to come speak in nablus about this: our thinking was if we could not bring nabulsis to aqraba, we would bring people from aqraba to nablus. one of these men also commented that he has had absolutely no support from the palestinian authority.

one of the documents about aqraba's land rights & confiscation
one of the documents about aqraba's land rights & confiscation

i did not end up staying for the speeches because after 5 hours of waiting i had to leave. i got to see the scouts marching in with their drums and flags (and thank god they were all only palestinian flags–no political party flags in sight). and i heard the opening speech and someone reciting from the qur’an (though i found it odd that they read something about musa when they could have read a sura about the land, about olive trees, about something that is actually related to the context).

scouts at aqraba school
scouts at aqraba school

during the 5 hours of waiting we had many discussions with the people in the village. some people kept focusing on the microscopic issues without relating the situation in aqraba to the global problem of land theft in palestine. and i was still fuming over saeb erekat’s statement the other day about his commitment to a “two state solution.” but that so-called palestinian “two state solution,” which is 3 state catastrophe (gaza, 1948, west bank), basically will mean that an ever decreasing part of the west bank will be palestine. but the west bank is a small fraction of palestine. i keep thinking if the erekats fo palestine get their way eventually ramallah will be palestine and that is it. or maybe not even that: maybe the israeli terrorists will finally have their way and all palestinians will be pushed into jordan.

aqraba boys next to olive trees to be planted in the valley
aqraba boys next to olive trees to be planted in the valley

i had been asked to give a speech yesterday and if i had been able to stay i would have said only this: that we must liberate the land. most of the time my mantra is the right of return. and it still is. but that right of return is connected to the land. it is not only about my friends in lebanon who demand and deserve their right to return: and return to their villages NOT to ramallah. but because the israeli terrorist regime is in the business of constantly creating new refugees i think we need to imagine a mantra that is more encompassing. i was thinking about the use of a mantra, too, not in the spiritual sense, but in a secular one. people who pray using a mantra do it to cleanse their mind. if people here had a political mantra that was something along the lines of “liberate the land” then maybe they could get rid of these other words that dominate their thinking: words like occupation and checkpoints and two states. liberating the land has always been the goal of refugees. maybe if we use this mantra to change thinking and then behavior we can renew that commitment.

and i thought about this last night as friends and i watched some old palestinian liberation organization (plo) films that i have from lebanon. the films are striking because no one talks about ramallah or two states: they all talk about exactly this–liberating the land. it is striking to hear this and to see the resistance fighters–especially the one film that i love because it shows the fidayeen and the lajaeen as connected. we see the fidayeen reading letters from refugee children thanking them for fighting for their right of return and for liberating their land. this is a history, these are images that my friends here have not seen before. of course, part of the reason is that most such films were destroyed when israeli terrorists bombed the plo archives in beirut in 1982. but the few remaining films need to be distributed and shared here as it not only shows a history, it can be used to point people in the right direction in the future.

and to be sure: i don’t think that people need to be starving in order to fight for their rights. but i do think it is telling that resistance in gaza and in lebanon have been far different than here in the west bank. at the same time if we look to um al fahm this week we can see that one need not be hungry for anything other than their rights in order to resist. i don’t think this idea about the fact that people are not hungry tells the whole story, but i do think that this forced separation makes it impossible for palestinians to be connected, to learn from one another, and to share each other’s strategies for liberating the land.

liberate the land. liberate the land. see it works…it is a good mantra, sa7?

divide and rule at work

nablus district map (passia)
nablus district map (passia)

increasingly, i live days in a constant state of frustration here. part of it comes from teaching, like when i ask my students if they know what yom al ard is and not one of my 200 students can tell me the specifics of that date and why it should be commemorated every year. i spend my time reading palestinian history, much of it oral history, for the current chapter i’m writing. and much of what i read i share with my students. none of which they know. but this is not the most frustrating part because i know why the palestinian authority does not include such material in their curriculum. the frustrating part is that the more you read and know about palestinian history, the more you can see it playing out over and over and over again. 122 years of zionist land theft and murder. same methods, same acts. and i feel that not knowing this, not connecting to this, contributed to the zionist entity’s ability to constantly fragment palestinians. divide and rule is their m.o. like all colonists throughout history. i can’t help but think about it right now as so many villages and areas throughout palestine are in the process of becoming ethnically cleansed. yet again. some palestinians will be made refugees for a second or third time. others for the first. either way it is the same story. one of my students is from the village of aqraba, which has about 20 homes, 1 mosque, and 1 school slated for demolition. the two maps here–the first one from passia and the second one an israeli terrorist colonial map–show the areas around nablus and the intense colonization process affecting the families and their livelihood here.

israeli colonial map of its illegal settlements
israeli colonial map of its illegal settlements

but i want to think about this process of divide and rule here for a minute before i share my experience in aqraba today. because there are so many ways that colonists do this. they do it on the level of family, often religion, on the level of village, political affiliation, and through the recruitment of collaborators. some collaborators do their work in secrecy, and others do so in the form of a so-called government. but i want to think about it on the level of family. because it struck me today that these families in aqraba are all alone. no palestinians from other cities or villages have come in solidarity with them. no one is coming for friday prayer to pray in their mosque that is expected to be demolished by israeli terrorists, though this is not true for those palestinians in silwan whose homes are slated for destruction. but al quds is on the international stage. people report on it. people go there. people care about it. but as in 1948 the fellahin are on their own. they have no support from the people in the cities. this was true in 1948 and it is true today. i’ve written before about this disjuncture and divide and rule policy between urban and rural before. i want to talk about division on the micro level, on the family level. rosemary sayigh in her amazing book the palestinians: from peasants to revolutionaries shares one particular story from an nakba that resonates for me currently:

Survivors from the Deir Yaseen massacre (some of whom were driven in a triumphal procession round Jewish Jerusalem and then shot) gave chilling descriptions of individual atrocities to investigating Red Cross and British Mandate officials. The British investigator, Richard Catling, describes how difficult it was to persuade terrified and humiliated girls and women to describe what had been done to them, and others who did not survive:

I interviewed many of the women folk in order to glean some information on any atrocities committed in Deir Yaseen but the majority of those women are very shy and reluctant to relate their experiences especially in matters concerning sexual assault and they need great coaxing before they will divulge any information. The recording of statements is hampered also by the hysterical state of the women who often break down…whilst the statement is being recorded. There is, however, no doubt that many sexual atrocities were committed by the attacking Jews. Many young schoolgirls were raped and later slaughtered. Old women were also molested. One story is current concerning a case in which a young girl was literally torn in two. Many infants were also butchered and killed.

An atrocity particularly calculated to horrify Arab peasants was the cutting open of the womb of a nine months’ pregnant woman. This was the clearest of messages warning them that the Arab codes of war, according to which women, children and old people were protected, no longer held good in Palestine. Men now had to choose: their country or their family. It was through such methods that a people with a thirty-year history of resistance to British occupation and Zionist immigration were terrorized into flight.
(77)

the difference between area b and area c roads
the difference between area b and area c roads

what i think about when i read this passage is the structure of society: the family. when people have a family they act in ways to protect that family first. sometimes this is to protect them physically. sometimes economically. but the family comes first. sure families often raise their children to be in the resistance, but unfortunately in the west bank they are few and far between. but this idea that one must protect their family during an nakba in 1948 made palestinians have to make an unimaginable choice: their family or their county. and i feel like i am watching the same thing play again in front of my eyes. after i returned from aqraba today i called a few activist palestinian friends to see if they could help me organize a massive mobilization to aqraba for friday prayer. all of them were pessimistic. they think maybe i can fill a bus, but not more than that. they tell me that people are afraid of getting arrested, getting shot, having hospital bills as a result of getting shot. families in nablus don’t want their daughters to go because they worry about them more than their sons. and so there is no solidarity among palestinians. divide and rule is working. i can’t help but think if these same families will feel differently when it is their village or their house slated for destruction. because israeli terrorists will never stop. they won’t stop until they reach baghdad.

aqraba shepherds
aqraba shepherds

so as i posted over the last week, aqraba is scheduled to have several of its homes, one elementary school, and one mosque demolished by israeli terrorists. media reports have some discrepancies in them according to the families i spoke with today. reports say that there are only 6 houses scheduled to be demolished, but the families told me that 20 homes with 200 people living in them will be destroyed. the reports also say that this will happen on march 26th, but i was told today that this is the date for their day in the colonial court, not for the demolition itself. half of aqraba is in area c and half in area b. area b is administered by the palestinian authority, and area c, which comprises 59% of the west bank, is controlled by israeli terrorists (area c generally covers rural areas).

elementary school in aqraba
elementary school in aqraba

aqraba is about 20 km away from nablus and about 50 km from the apartheid wall, the wall that separates palestinians in 1948 palestine from palestinians in the west bank. the village center is located on a mountain top and its valley in the jordan valley. it is so close to jordan that palestinian cell phones don’t work here unless you want to pay the roaming rates as if you are in jordan. you know that you are coming into the area c part of the village as you drive down the mountain because the paved road stops and the dirt road begins. all of the people who live in aqraba, however, at one point owned and farmed land or grazed their livestock in this valley at one point in time. in fact, the story of the ethnic cleansing in aqraba does not begin in 2009. it begins in 1968. i heard time and time again today the same stories from different families. in 1968, shortly after the 1967 war or an naksa, hundreds of families fled from this village and went to jordan because they heard stories of massacres in neighboring villages. most of the families i met today have relatives living in palestinian refugee camps in jordan.

palestinian home in aqraba
palestinian home in aqraba

starting in 1968 israeli terrorists began confiscating aqraba’s land for military training. a few years later the first settlement on their land was built on a mountaintop overlooking the village. this settlement, gitit, which apparently has a website, makes no mention, of course, that they are on palestinian land. in fact, the word palestine is nowhere to be found on its website whatsoever. not surprising. they don’t mention, for instance, that part of their so-called love for the land and agriculture includes stealing aqraba’s land and removing the indigenous products of the village–fava beans, lentils, and wheat–and planting grapes instead. it is not surprising that they fail to mention the fact that palestinian shepherds die every year in aqraba because these illegal colonist terrorists murder them. there was a well publicized murder of one of these shepherds, but mostly they go unnoticed in the media. but this case, in september 2008 of 18 year old shepherd yahia ateya fahmi bani maneya, elicited some media attention (in contradistinction whenever foreigners come to palestine in solidarity with palestinians and s/he gets shot or murdered everyone knows their name forever, such is the racism of the media). shepherds in aqraba were under attack especially between 1975-1982 when they were routinely arrested and their sheep confiscated. it would cost them 10jds per sheep to get them back.

yousef nasrallah's unfinished home in aqraba
yousef nasrallah's unfinished home in aqraba

so aqraba has been under attack for decades. my student and the taxi driver who took us around have their stories, too. they both live on top of the mountain, but their families historically lived below and own land. my student’s family has land where they plant wheat, but they have not been allowed to access this land since the start of the second intifada. our driver told me that in 1974 his family was attacked by rockets, one of which hit their house. as a result they fled to the mountaintop and lost 30 dunums of land where israeli terrorist colonists now plant grapes. i heard again and again these stories from aqraba from different people of a constant internal and external displacement. of a constant state of refugeedom. from people fleeing in 1967 to a constant process of their land being confiscated and families having to move up to the top part of the village. it is the same story over and over again. ethnic cleansing. land theft. colonialism.

mosque in aqraba
mosque in aqraba

as we drove down into the valley of this village we came upon the school that is slated to be destroyed first. we saw shepherds grazing in the area as aqraba is famous for having some of the best land for animals to graze. the village is 250 years old and all of the homes in the valley document the longevity of the village. originally these families slept in the caves with their sheep next to their homes hundreds of years ago. then as they began building homes they did so next to these caves. as their families grew over the generations they added onto their homes. so you can see the evolution of their homes and of their lives quite easily. part of the issue of building houses for palestinians in area c, like in al quds, 1948 palestine, or anywhere else, is that they cannot obtain building permits. to give you an idea of the difficulty, here is what my passia diary has to say about this (quoted from arij):

Figures from Israeli Civil Admin. show that between 2000 and Sept. 2007, only 5.5% of Palestinian requests for building permits in Area C were approved (or 105 out of 1,890 applications). Forced to build without license, Palestinian construction became subject to house demolition: in the same period, 4,820 demolition orders were issued, 1,626 of which were executed. While Palestinians were denied building permits in Area C, Israeli settlements were granted them at an annual rate of 1,000 or a total of 6,945 between 2000-2006 (as compared to 95 permits for Palestinians in the same period!) (355)

fatima & maher anas' home
fatima & maher anas' home

after you drive past the school you see the mosque slightly down the road. this mosque is scheduled to be demolished too. as is the foundation of a house across the street. this house is owned by yousef nasrallah. he started building his house a year ago and the israeli terrorists immediately came and ordered him to stop. like so many in aqraba, he had to sell all his sheep and move to the top of the village. like so many before him since 1968. since then he has found no work. this is one of the primary issues for fellahin refugees for the last 61 years: how do you maintain a livelihood when your livelihood is tied to the land? his sister still lives on this land, though, up the road a bit, as does her husband’s brother and his two wives. their families–the anas family–has lived on this land for generations. and like most of the other families, many relatives fled in terror in 1967 and now live in zarqa refugee camp in jordan.

anas home in aqraba
anas home in aqraba

fatima anas welcomed us into her home and kept us busy consuming tea, coffee, and a special tea i’ve never had before made with this flower called بابونج which was absolutely amazing. i was asking my student if he thought it was better than tea with maramiyya and he said yes: he was right. fatima made us an amazing lunch, too, including the most incredible cheese i’ve ever tasted, which she makes herself. she told me that the reason she thinks that the house demolition orders were issued was really because the israeli terrorists want to build a road through their village to connect the surrounding israeli terrorist colonies: gitit, itamar, hamra, and yitzhar that surround their village. already there is a road running through their agricultural land that the israeli terrorists made, but it is a dirt road. and now they have spray painted some markings on rocks on that road indicating that this may indeed be the case.

homemade cheese from the anas family
homemade cheese from the anas family

their homes and their lives seem so removed from the consciousness of palestinians more generally. even the part of the paved road in area b was only put in two years ago, as well as electricity, by the palestinian authority. but mostly they are ignored. partially it is because the palestinian authority does not control area c. but this is also because the pa is a tool of the israeli terrorist regime and does not resist its colonial masters’ wishes. water remains a difficult issue for them, too. they have a well that they built which collects rain water, but they do not have a generator to pump the water into the tanks on top of their houses. so every day fatima has to go and carry buckets from the well to the house to fill it up by hand.

the rest of the photographs tell the story, i think. this latest chapter in the latest nakba in palestinian history. and the lessons of the past have not yet been learned. palestinian children are not taught it. and those who know it seem to think they cannot make a difference by resisting. that may be true. but it is clear from speaking to the anas family today that seeing some solidarity from their brothers and sisters in the area would certainly go a long way to helping them to remain steadfast. what is especially scary about this latest chapter is not just the families and their displacement, but it is quite clear that if their houses are indeed destroyed and they, too, have to move up to the top of the mountain, the generations of farmers and shepherds from aqraba will be no more. palestinians can sit idly by and think they cannot make a difference. or they can try. they can set up a tent here as in al quds. they can maintain a presence here and visit regularly on solidarity visits. or they can wait until it is their village, their house. this is why the lesson of yom al ard is so important: because palestinians in sakhnin resisted. and this is the message that needs to be both remembered and honored with the same sort of actions again and again. israeli terrorists will never give up. no one fighting for the rights of palestinians should either.

anas family's home
anas family's home
lubna & maram anas
lubna & maram anas
anas family water well
anas family water well
blue tank where water must be carried to from well
blue tank where water must be carried to from well
old anas family home
old anas family home
aqraba cave where families used to live
aqraba cave where families used to live
fava beans/ful in aqraba
fava beans/ful in aqraba

american racism + zionism

last night i was in a heightened state of agitation. for many reasons. because of the news about the death of my dear friend kathi and because of the spread of illegal israeli settler violence all over the west bank. but what really put me on edge was al jazeera’s “inside story.” last night host maryam nemazee had two guests on. one was rabie abdulatifah from al haq, a palestinian human rights organization, and the other was an AMERICAN israeli rabbi yishai fleisher who in addition to having a hate-filled radio show on israeli radio he also lives in the illegal settlement of beit el, which is one of the numerous illegal settlements responsible for the stranglehold on nablus where i live. more dangerous, however, is his organization called “kumah.” this organization actively recruits jews from around the world to colonize palestine as they say in their own words:

KUMAH, which is Hebrew for ARISE, is a movement passionate about Aliyah (ascent). There are different Aliyahs for different people: for Jews of the Exile, Aliyah means heeding the call for mass immigration to Israel, the Jewish people’s homeland. Aliyah for Jews already in Israel means elevating the spirit of the Jewish nation and rectifying the vessel that is the State of Israel. Aliyah for the peoples of the world means throwing off false-deities and defunct ideologies in favor of a spiritual renaissance with Jerusalem at its center.

We call this movement Neo-Zionism, a Biblical dream being realized today. Through an array of projects, Kumah seeks to invigorate the world with positivity and a sense of connectedness based on authentic Jewish values. We at Kumah believe in taking an active role in shaping and hastening our destiny!

unfortunately it seems that it is not only these jewish fundamentalist types being recruited to colonize palestine. the israeli media also reports today that jews who are hurting from the economic situation are choosing colonization:

The Jewish Agency reported a dramatic rise in recent months in the number of Jews seeking to make aliyah and the number of Israeli emigrants wishing to return due to the global economic crisis.

The JA and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption have decided to use the financial situation to their advantage and launch a campaign to encourage aliyah.

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of course the zionist regime encourages this sort of behavior. but i digress. or i wish to digress now. so in the midst of my agitation over all of this rania said that i should get outside and take a walk. a lovely idea if i were in beirut. but i wondered, and i asked her if the words “jebel nablus” meant anything to her. unfortunately it is impossible to capture the steep-ness of the mountain i live on, but trust me: it is steep. in fact, taxis don’t even like coming here. when i search for one after school every day the driver always questions me saying “فوق؟” yes, up there, I say. it’s as if they wonder if their taxi will make it up the hill (okay, i am being a bit hyperbolic here, but i really do have this conversation with drivers every day). anyway, i tried to capture what it looks like above; i live at the top of that hill. but trust me, the picture does not do it justice. and this is the last quarter of the hill. here is a photograph of what it looks like from about this same spot to the main street below.

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needless to say i don’t really go out walking too much, though i do walk down the mountain on my way out each time i leave. but the steep-ness coupled with the raging winds of the khamseen last night meant that i wasn’t goin’ anywhere.

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but i did leave today, briefly, to attend a small protest against the illegal settler violence in khalil. but as you can see this protest in marty’rs square (really it should be called martyr’s circle) was quite small. but it was good to see people coming out in general to stand in solidarity with the people in khalil.

the situation in khalil is emblematic of colonialism and its racist origins on so many levels. or course racism among israelis is endemic–meaning among each other and against palestinians and arabs more generally. but in one report about the removal of illegal israeli settlers from khalil we see this jewish racism directed at their own:

Not only do they serve long and tiring hours in the reserve forces, and not only are they forced to deal with violent clashes with settlers, but now, Border Guard officers of Ethiopian descent are also faced with rising racism.

“Niggers don’t expel Jews! This isn’t what we brought you to Israel for!” are just some of the degrading slurs Border Guard officers reported hearing from masked settlers.

During the violent clashes between Israeli forces and settlers in Hebron on Tuesday “a bunch of veiled people started yelling at us: Who are you to expel us from our home? An Ethiopian does not expel a Jew! A nigger does not expel a Jew!” one Border Guard officer of Ethiopian descent recounted.

this is the sort of mind set one finds all over the zionist state, because, after all zionism IS racism. but it is particularly strong in these illegal settlements in the west bank where rabbi fleisher recruits new colonists (his is that special blend of racism–american and zionism all wrapped up in one, which can clearly be discerned from the remarks above as well). we can see this in the illegal AMERICAN-israeli graffiti in khalil:

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the problem is that when this racism surfaces here, and when it is directed at palestinians, it is lethal as these settlers are armed and dangerous: men, women, and children alike as can be glimpsed from these photographs:

jewish-terrorists

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you can imagine the world’s hypocrisy when you think about how it would respond if these images here were in the reverse. that is, if these words and this violence were directed at jews the world would be in an uproar. but the world’s silence is deafening in the way that it does nothing when the victims are palestinians. in ha’aretz today this violence was called a “pogrom” and described as “lynching”:

An innocent Palestinian family, numbering close to 20 people. All of
them women and children, save for three men.
Surrounding them are a few dozen masked Jews seeking to lynch them. A pogrom. This isn’t a play on words or a double meaning. It is a pogrom in the worst sense of the word. First the masked men set fire to their laundry in the front yard and then they tried to set fire to one of the rooms in the house. The women cry for help, “Allahu Akhbar.” Yet the neighbors are too scared to approach the house, frightened of the security guards from Kiryat Arba who have sealed off the home and who are cursing the journalists who wish to document the events unfolding there.

what was the result of this violence? well, in khalil it meant the shooting of un-armed palestinians, which can be seen in this video footage and described below:

The footage shows a settler firing a handgun and injuring two Palestinians, Hosni Abu Se’ifan, 40, who was hit in the chest and is now in a stable condition in hospital, and his father, Abd al-Hai Abu Se’ifan, 65, who was hurt in the arm. Others from the family then overpower the gunman until armed Israeli security guards from the Kiryat Arba settlement arrive and shoot several rounds over the heads of the Palestinians. The Abu Se’ifan family have frequently been targeted by settlers in the past.

the violence extended to other people and was carried out in other forms as well:

Palestinian sources in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, reported on Thursday that extremist Israeli settlers carried out a series of violent attacks against the residents and set on fire a number of homes, cars and olive trees.

The attacks were escalated after the army evacuated the settlers from the home of Al Rajabi Palestinian family after the settlers illegally occupied the property last year.

The sources stated that settlers, stationed in five illegal outposts in the Old City of Hebron, set ablaze two Palestinian homes and one shop in Wad Al Hasseen area, close to Al Rajabi home. The settlers also violently attacked a number of residents.

In Tal Romedia area, the settlers chased dozens of Palestinian children and hurled stones and empty bottles at a number of homes.

The settlers also attacked and attempted to break into another Palestinian home in an area adjacent to Al Rajabi home while Israeli soldiers fired gas bombs and rubber-coated; several injuries were reported among the residents.

In Al Sahla area, close to the Ibrahimi Mosque, a Palestinian child and her father were wounded after extremist settlers attacked and punched them.

The settlers also set of fire a Palestinian firefighter vehicle as the firefighters were attempting to extinguish fire the settlers caused to Palestinian homes.

but as i said yesterday this violence has not been contained to khalil. it has spread throughout the west bank. and the illegal settlers have been quite public about their intentions:

Right-wing activists have called on their supporters to embark on a week-long retaliatory spree in wake of the eviction. “We will choose the time and place to retaliate,” they told Ynet. The activists also urged people to continue arriving at the house.

here is how it is affecting other palestinians and those of us who live far north of khalil:

The Jerusalem – Jericho Road is blocked by them, hundreds of people are stranded on the Nablus – Ramallah Road and settlers are attacking, more reports indicate that settlers from the Yitzhar Settlement are assaulting Tulkarem residents while hundreds of car windows are reported smashed in southern Nablus’ Al Huwara and Za’atara.

and make no mistake about it this is very much an AMERICAN issue as the person who supposedly “purchased” the palestinian home in khalil and who is at the root of some of this particular situation is AMERICAN himself:

Jewish-American businessman, owner of house in Hebron from which court is evicting settlers, says he will fight to keep his property. ‘No one can take me from my home, all of Israel is ours,’ he says

funny that this AMERICAN thinks that a palestinian home belongs to him. this is the problem–it shows the colonialism so vividly. israels are not FROM here no matter how many bulls*&^ biblical arguments they want to forward. the bible is not a real estate guide.

these gross human rights violations, these massive war crimes that are a fact of life here in palestine continue to go unnoticed. or if they are discussed at all nothing is done. there is merely talk. no action. karen abuzayed of unrwa has a moving editorial in the guardian that expresses this sentiment and implores us to act not just write, speak, listen, but ACT:

As we approach the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the steadily rising death toll in Gaza highlights the painful gap between its peaceful rhetoric and the desperate reality for Palestinian people.

The declaration was a pivotal statement in which the world community recognised the “inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”. True to its nobility of spirit, it declares “the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom from fear and want as the highest aspiration of the common people”.

Sixty years on, the fate of the Palestinian people should be a cause for universal soul-searching. The need to give substantive meaning to the protection of Palestinians has never been greater. The former high commissioner for human rights, Mary Robinson has said that in Gaza, nothing short of a “civilisation” is being destroyed. Desmond Tutu has called it “an abomination”. The humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, Maxwell Gaylard, said that in Gaza there was a “massive assault” on human rights. Most recently, the European commissioner, Louis Michel, described the blockade of Gaza as a “form of collective punishment against Palestinian civilians, which is a violation of international humanitarian law”.

Fatality figures for the occupied Palestinian territory must surely make us question our commitment to upholding the right to life, that most fundamental of all rights, protected by a broad range of international legal instruments. More than 500 Palestinians, 73 of them children, have been killed this year alone as a result of the conflict – more than double the figure for 2005. Eleven Israelis have lost their lives this year. The informal ceasefire in Gaza has been welcomed by Israelis and Palestinians alike. For the sake of the sanctity of human life, we hope that it continues to hold, in spite of recent violations.

The right to freedom of movement enshrined in article 13 of the universal declaration also remains a distant hope for many Palestinians. The inhumane blockade of Gaza – which, as many senior UN officials have said, collectively punishes 1.5 million people – and over 600 physical obstacles to movement in the West Bank are a sad reminder of the world community’s failure to stand by that article.

With an estimated 10,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, including some 325 children, the declaration that “everyone has the right to liberty and security of person” and that no one shall be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment has a sad resonance today. Compounding these abuses are statistics that attest to the lack of protection of social and economic rights. An unprecedentedly high number of Gazans – more than half – now live below the deep poverty line.

This is a humanitarian crisis, but one that is deliberately imposed by political actors. It is the result of policies that have been imposed on the Palestinian people. Is it not time to look again at those policies and search for a new approach? Is it not time to question afresh our commitment to the noble tenets of the universal declaration?

Overarching all these rights is the right to self determination, the right to a state, which the Palestinians have been deprived of through 60 years of exile. Rights are best protected within the framework of statehood, and we at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, charged with delivering assistance until the refugee issue is resolved, are as aware of this as any humanitarian actor working in the Middle East.

The chasm between word and deed is a matter of puzzlement to many Palestinians. The result has been a cruel isolation from the global community, fed by the inaction of the international system. In such circumstances, radicalism and extremism easily take root. But this can be reversed, and protection is the place to start. Let us make the protection of Palestinian rights the byword of all our interventions. Let us make the vision of the signatories of the universal declaration a reality; continued failure to do so is to our universal shame.

• Karen AbuZayd is the commissioner general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency unrwa.org

here’s a start: sign this petition NOW.

creative modes of resistance

I thought it might be useful to post a couple of maps here for those who are unfamiliar with where I am. The first map is of the West Bank. It shows the Apartheid Wall’s route, very clearly delineated solid line, as opposed to the dotted line, which is the Green Line or the pre-1949 armistice border. You can see Nablus located in the northern section. There are more maps from Passia for those who wish to see historical and current maps of Palestine.

The illegal Israeli settlement that I have been writing about of late is Yizhar or Yizhar. You can see it is about 10 minutes from the city center of Nablus. The entire area on this map is considered the district of Nalbus. The Huwara checkpoint is located a bit to the south of Yizhar.

This morning when I went to my first class at 8 am I found a much smaller class than usual. I learned immediately that Huwwara checkpoint had been closed, but the details were still sketchy. The students who were in class were the lucky ones who were able to cross before it was closed. After class, I learned why.

Following a second acid attack on Israeli soldiers at Huwwarah checkpoint south of Nablus, three Palestinians including one woman sustained bullet wounds from Israeli fire, and a soldier was lightly injured by the acid, along with a man standing nearby.

Sources say a woman, later identified as 19-year-old Sanabil Break, a student at An-Najah University in Nablus, splashed acid on Israeli soldiers manning the checkpoint. Palestinian Red Crescent workers confirmed that soldiers responded by shooting one woman in her right leg, and two men nearby were shot one in the lower back and one in the leg. All three were evacuated to the Rafedia Hospital in Nablus

Sanabil’s father, owner of a local TV station was shocked at the news, and told Ma’an, “She left home as usual at 7am on her way to An-Najah University, and I am still surprised to hear what she did.”

She is a good student, he added, “she got a high average of 98.5in the general secondary exam [before starting university.]” Sanabil is the eldest daughter in the Break family.

According to Israeli media sources the army is saying Sanabil was responsible for the incident where acid was thrown on a soldier at the same checkpoint 12 days ago. During that incident a Palestinian woman poured acid on an Israeli soldier, and escaped into the crowd undetected.

Eyewitnesses told Ma’an’s reporter that Israeli soldiers closed the checkpoint in both directions after they detained a 25-year-old woman who wore a long Islamic gown and head scarf.

New, creative forms of resistance are being cultivated here out of necessity. Some may wonder why such resistance is necessary. Here is one such answer, also in relation to Nablus:

Over the past year, settlers from Yitzhar and the surrounding area have sharply stepped up violent acts in nearby Palestinian villages. The attacks include throwing stones at passing cars, physically attacking farmers, burning down crops, and stealing livestock. On 14 Sept., after a Palestinian stabbed a Jewish boy and burnt down a caravan in the Shalhevet Yam settlement near Yitzhar, dozens of settlers raided the village of Asira al-Qibliya. They threw stones, fired into the air, broke windows, drew Stars of David on walls of homes and widely damaged property. Testimonies given to B’Tselem indicate that soldiers were present at the time, yet did nothing to prevent the settlers’ actions, and fired at the Palestinians.

The attack above on the village of Asira in Nablus is not unusual. It just happened to be partially caught on tape. Indeed, it is not only a usual occurrence, it is one that is increasing in frequency:

In August, “37 people were injured as a result of attacks carried out by Israeli settlers, the largest number recorded since January 2005”, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territories said.

“The lack of adequate law enforcement by the Israeli authorities seems to be a key factor contributing to the persistence of the settler violence phenomenon over years,” the agency wrote in its recent Humanitarian Monitor, released on 12 September.

“There is Yitzhar, there is Brakha and there is Itamar,” Hani Darawshe, a resident said, pointing at the surrounding hilltops, each with an Israeli settlement, established on what Palestinians say was their land.

Near to each settlement lay several “outposts”, satellites of the main colony, taking up more Palestinian land.

“We have been living here for hundreds of years,” said Darawshe, added that structures in the village dated back to Roman rule.

The land they have left is largely off limits to them.

This is what apartheid looks like. This is what occupation looks like. This is what Zionism embodies.