Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mosaic News - 9/29/08: World News from the Middle East

Mosaic News - 9/29/08: World News from the Middle East:

'Explosion in Tripoli Kills Five, Including Four Soldiers,' Dubai TV, UAE
'Egypt Desert Hostages Freed After 10-day Ordeal,' Al Arabiya TV, UAE
'Olmert Advocates Returning Land Seized in 1967 to Win Peace,' Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
'Israelis are Pessimistic About the Future,' IBA TV, Israel
'Jerusalem: the Cultural Capital of the Arab World,' Palestine TV, Ramallah
'Pro Iranian Groups Infiltrates into Iraq,' Sumaria TV, Iraq
'Afghan Women Speak Out Against Rape,' Al Jazeera English, Qatar
'Queen of Jordan Tackles Hunger & Education,' Jordan TV, Jordan
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani."

Israel imposes strict closure on Palestinians during Eid Al-Fitr

Israel closes off Palestinian territories
Source Ma'an News Sep 29, 2008

"A total closure of Palestinian-Israeli borders has been put in place by the Israeli army for the duration of the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah.

The closure means absolutely no Palestinians are permitted to leave the Israeli controlled West Bank and Gaza Strip, except in 'humanitarian cases,' who have to contact the Israeli Civil Affairs Department.

The measures were announced by Radio Israel on Monday morning, and will remain in effect until Wednesday."

Click below to see PressTV video
Israel imposes strict closure on Palestinians during Al-Fitr
Tue, 30 Sep 2008 14:24:19
Sari Al-Khalili, Press TV, Qalandia Checkpoint

IAEA 'puts Israeli nukes on agenda'

"The UN nuclear watchdog has unanimously agreed to put the issue of Israel's nuclear capabilities on the agenda of its annual meeting.

After requests by the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab League, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) agreed to put the issue of Israel's nuclear capabilities on the agenda of the 52nd annual meeting of the UN body.

The move was initially met with protests by the US and Canada but the two countries had to back down from their position after they realized that other member states of the IAEA meeting's presidential board would not support their stance, an informed source told Fars News Agency on Monday.

Israel is believed to possess the only nuclear arsenal of the Middle East but it has so far refused to allow IAEA inspectors to visit its nuclear sites."

Click link below to see PressTV video
Islamic states urge Israel to accede to NPT
Tue, 30 Sep 2008 01:47:00
Eva Manasieva, Press TV, Vienna

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Struggle: Rebuilding a Home

The Struggle: Rebuilding a Home: - 29 min - Sep 19, 2008
TSVN - www.TheStruggle.org

"Video from 2007 in Anata, Jerusalem of volunteers from the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitons as the rebuild a home. Also interview with Uri Davis on housing apartheid within Israel."

Palestine Video - A Palestine Vlog

Bil'in 188th demonstration against the Apartheid Wall 26-9-08

bil'in 26-9-08:

"The 188th demonstration against the wall"

Life on the Green Line

Life on the Green Line:

"This is the story of a family living in the Al Farahin neighbourhood of Abassan Alkabeera in southern Gaza. The family's home is situated extremely close to the 'Green Line' with Israel and subsequently has suffered many cases of Israeli military aggression. There was a major incursion into the area on 1st May 2008, which resulted in Palestinian deaths, home demolitions and widespread agricultural damage, particularly the vast destruction of olive and citrus groves. The family was terrorized during this attack and has not slept in their house since. Activists from the International Solidarity Movement began accompanying them in September 2008 in their first attempt to return to their home."

Olmert calls for Israel withdrawal | Video | Reuters.com

Olmert calls for Israel withdrawal | Video | Reuters.com:

"Sep 29 - Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is quoted in an Israeli newspaper saying the Jewish state should quit nearly all occupied land.

Helen Long reports.

Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel should withdraw from almost all the land it captured in 1967 if it wants peace with Syria and the Palestinians.

The remarks, which immediately provoked criticism among Israelis, were published in an interview with an Israeli newspaper on the eve of the Jewish new year.

Olmert, who's a caretaker role since resigning over corruption allegations earlier this month, said he was breaking new ground in calling for a broad pullback from the occupied West Bank, where Palestinians hope to establish a state, and in the annexed Golan Heights, which Syria wants back.

Helen Long reports."

Israel restricts Palestinian rush to Al Aqsa

Israel restricts Palestinian rush to Al Aqsa:

"On the last Friday of Ramadan, tens of thousands of West Bank Palestinians wishing to pray at the Al Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem showed up at the Israeli controlled Qalandia check point , between the West bank and Jerusalem. But only a small number were allowed to pass , as Israeli security forces restricted the age of entry to over 50."

(click here to see AFP vide0)

Ramadan Marred by Poverty, Isolation, Uncertainty

Ramadan Marred by Poverty, Isolation, Uncertainty:
"Muslims in the Palestinian territories, like in other places, are marking the holy month of Ramadan, a season of fasting. It is also a time to ask forgiveness, practice self-restraint, and pray for guidance in the future. For many Palestinians, however, this Ramadan has highlighted the realities of poverty and uncertainty over the peace process with Israel. VOA's Luis Ramirez reports from Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank."

Sunday, September 28, 2008

News reports from Press TV. 24-28 September 2008

*Requires Windows Media

Israeli settlers kill Palestinian teenager in West Bank
Sun, 28 Sep 2008 20:20:34
Sari Al-Khalili, Press TV, Ramallah

BIAC slams Israel's "Apartheid" policies against Palestinians
Sun, 28 Sep 2008 08:13:31
Zahra Jamal, Press TV, Vancouver

Israel to mount pressure on Palestinian prisoners
Sat, 27 Sep 2008 21:29:44
Ashraf Shannon, Press TV, Gaza

Millions of Iranians take to the streets on Quds Day
Sat, 27 Sep 2008 09:47:32
Amir Mehdi Kazemi, Press TV, Tehran

Int'l quartet meets to revive Mideast "peace process"
Sat, 27 Sep 2008 07:29:36
Mike Mazzocco, Press TV, United Nations

Nasrallah: Al-Quds belongs to Palestinians
Sat, 27 Sep 2008 02:29:42
Mariam Saleh, Press TV, Beirut

UK Muslims picket outside store selling Israeli goods
Fri, 26 Sep 2008 22:15:51
Fareena Alam, Press TV, London

US senate urges Israel to stop settlements expansion
Fri, 26 Sep 2008 20:23:45
Jihan Hafiz, Press TV, Washington

Palestinians mark Al-Quds Day in Al-Aqsa despite tight security
Fri, 26 Sep 2008 19:00:58
Shireen Yassin, Press TV, Al-Quds

Syria commemorates Al-Quds Day
Fri, 26 Sep 2008 03:35:35
Samer Dadaa, Press TV, Damascus

"Voice of Palestine" Int'l conference kicks off in Jakarta
Thu, 25 Sep 2008 23:00:13
Nancy Natalia, Press TV, Jakarta

Frustrated by talks, Palestinians start to think of one-state solution
Wed, 24 Sep 2008 21:26:41
Sari Al-Khalili, Press TV, Ramallah

Talk to Jazeera - Shimon Peres - 27 Sep 08

Talk to Jazeera - Shimon Peres - 27 Sep 08:

"Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, talks to Al Jazeera's Ghida Fakhry, in New York, where he has been attending the United Nations General Assembly.

Peres talks about Israel's stance relating to Iran's nuclear ambitions and his country's willingness to leave Shebaa Farms if Hezbollah disarms.

Ghida Fakhry asks him about his country's alleged strike against Syrian nuclear facilities and Tzipi Livni's chances of forming a coalition government and becoming prime minister.

The Israeli President also talks about the Middle East peace process and the prospect of signing a deal before US President George Bush leaves office, and also peace talks with Syria that are being mediated by Turkey."

part 1

part 2

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Weekly Demonstration against the Apartheid wall in Bil'in 26.9.2008

Bil'in 26.9.2008:

Weekly Demonstration against the Apartheid wall in Bil'in 26.9.2008

Related News item
Three Protesters Injured at Bil'in Weekly Demonstration
Friday, September 26, 2008
Source: ISM

On the 26th September 2008 after the Friday prayer, the residents of Bil’in, joined by international and Israeli solidarity activists, held a demonstration against the apartheid wall and the confiscation of their land. The protesters carried banners for the 8th anniversary of the Al-Aqsa intifada. They called for a third Intifada to remove the wall, stop settlement construction, remove checkpoints, open roads and stop the confiscation of Palestinian land. They also called to break Israeli racism and for the freedom of Palestinian detainees.

The protesters marched towards the wall carrying Palestinian flags and banners calling for an end to the Israeli occupation and for Palestinian national unity.

When protesters tried to get close to the gate to reach the village’s confiscated land behind it, the Israeli army fired tear-gas cannisters and sound grenades causing many to need treatment for tear-gas inhalation. Two Palestinian protesters and a Scottish solidarity activist were shot with tear-gas cannisters and were taken to Sheikh Zaide hospital in Ramallah.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Israel Bans Palestinians Under 45 from Al Aqsa Mosque,' Palestine TV, Ramallah

*Israel Bans Palestinians Under 45 from Al Aqsa Mosque for the third consecutive Friday during the month of Ramadan' Palestine TV, Ramallah
*Israeli Occupation Forces oppressed peaceful demonstrators against the apartheid wall in ni'lin, bil'in and Alma'sara villages.
*Israeli war minister, Ehud Barak, has called for the demolition of the home of Qassem Al-Mughrabi who struck with his car a group of Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem this week. The father of the driver who was murdered in cold blood, demanded an explanation and proof that the incident was indeed an attack.

Riz Khan - Anti-Racism summit row - 24 Sep 08 - Part 1

Riz Khan - Anti-Racism summit row - 24 Sep 08 - Part 1:

"On Riz Khan, live from New York City, we debate the Durban II world conference set up to fight racism and racial discrimination.

We will speak with Hillel Neuer, the executive director of UN Watch, who argues that the current preparatory meetings for Durban II ignore key issues in Africa in favour of chastising Israel.

Israel and the US pulled out of Durban I, claiming it was anti-semitic, and Neuer believes that the only way to avert a similar disaster at Durban II (to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, in April 2009) is for the EU to threaten a boycott.

Joining the programme from London, Islamic Human Rights Commission Chair Massoud Shadjareh argues that Durban II should move forward as planned and that putting the issue of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians is necessary if racism is to be truly addressed."

Part 1

Part 2

Demonstration in Support of the Conscientious Objectors 23-9-08

Demon in Support of the Conscientious Objectors 23-9-08:

"Demonstration in Support of the Conscientious Objectors Omer Goldman, Tamar Katz & Miya Tamrin

This Tuesday,September 23rd, Tamar, Miya & Omer, signees of the Seniors Letter, will present themselves at the Army's central Recruitment Base - where they will declare their refusal to serve in the army of occupation, be court-marshaled and sent to the stockade. Omer, Miya & Omer are to be the fourth, fifth & sixth signees of the seniors letter to enter the stockade for their refusal to participate in the horrors of the occupation, and their decision to protest against the violent measures carried out by the IDF against the civilian population in the territories."

Ismail Haniya

Ismail Haniya:

"This is a short clip of a meeting between the summer 2008 CNI delegation and Hamas leader Ismail Haniya.

Part 1

Part 2

part 3

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Manchester Demonstration Against the Spread of War

Manchester Demonstration Against the Spread of War:

"Manchester, England. 20th September 2008. As Gordon Brown's New Labour Party holds its annual conference in Manchester, thousands of anti-war demonstrators march past the conference venue protesting against the spread of war from Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia to Georgia and Pakistan. The demonstration halts for a minutes silence by the Manchester war memorial in St Peter's Square in memory of all those killed--on all sides--in the wars launched by Bush and Blair.

The march--organised by the Stop the War Coalition, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Military Families Against War and the British Muslim Initiative--handed a letter to a representative of the Prime Minister. These video clips shows scenes from the demonstration and the final rally at the end of the march in the Castlefield Arena."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Car Plows Into Soldiers in Jerusalem's Old City

Car Plows Into Soldiers in Jerusalem's Old City:

Family of Driver Says it was a road accident, accused soldiers of killing their son.

Related News Item:
Jerusalem Crash "Not Deliberate"

Relatives of a Palestinian who was shot dead after his car ploughed into a group of Israelis at a bus stop have denied it was a deliberate attack.

Nineteen people, mostly soldiers, were treated for light or moderate wounds in the incident in central Jerusalem.

Off duty soldiers shot the 19-year-old driver, in what Israeli police have said was an attack.

"My son was murdered, they killed him. He did not carry out a terrorist attack" said the driver's father.

"This was a car accident. The car stopped after hitting a wall. Why did they kill him?" Mahmoud Mughrabi said at his home in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem.

Israeli police have said they were "100% sure" Qassem Mughrabi intended to carry out a deliberate attack, with one spokesmen saying a failed romance may have been the trigger.

Israeli police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said investigators had found Mr Mughrabi, who had no prior police record, "wanted to marry his cousin but when she refused he apparently decided to carry out the attack".

Relatives confirmed the family situation, but said Mr Mughrabi had told them he was going out with friends and would be back soon.

Then he took the keys of his brother's BMW car and drove off.

Mr Mughrabi said his son did not have a licence and could not drive properly.

He also wished a speedy recovery to the injured soldiers.

Demolition deterrence

Israel security forces have been on the look-out for vehicle attacks since a Palestinian building worker went on a deadly rampage in July in a mechanical digger in Jerusalem, killing three people before he was shot dead.

There was an apparent copycat attack three weeks later in Jerusalem when 10 people were wounded by a Palestinian digger driver who was also shot dead.

Commenting on the latest incident, Defence Minister Ehud Barak said Israel must expedite the legal process leading to demolition of Palestinian attackers' homes.

"We need to take legal action in order to drastically expedite the process, so we can take action shortly after an attack happens and deter any future potential terrorists," he said.

The families of three Palestinians involved in attacks in Jerusalem this year - including the two digger drivers - have won Israeli court orders to prevent demolition of their homes.

Human rights groups say the house demolition policy is ineffective and illegal, violating the principle that one person cannot be punished for another's crimes.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 war. It is home to about 250,000 Palestinians and about 200,000 Israeli settlers.

Mosaic News - 9/19/08: World News from the Middle East

Mosaic News - 9/19/08: World News from the Middle East: "'Mosques are not Immune from War in Iraq,' Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
'Yemeni President Promises to Hunt Down terrorists,' Al Arabiya TV, UAE
'Cholera Outbreak in Iraq,' Alhurra
'Livni reaches out to Meretz,' IBA TV, Israel
'Al Qaeda Affliated Group Threatens to Attack Hamas,' Palestine TV, Ramallah
'Bashar al Assad on Iran,' New TV, Lebanon
'Delhi gears up to fight terrorism,' Al Jazeera English, Qatar
'Ramadan in France,' Dubai TV, UAE
'Israel's October Surprise?,' Link TV, USA
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Israeli siege endangering lives of Palestinian patients

Israeli siege endangering lives of Palestinian patients:

"British Journalist Lauren Booth reports from Gaza about lack of medicine and medical supplies due to Israeli siege and closure"

Issawiya, a Suffocated Palestinian Village in East Jerusalem

Issawiya, a Suffocated Palestinian Village in East Jerusalem:

"From atop the hillside, the crux of Issawiyas problems becomes evident, its decisive location. Circling around you see the Israeli military base, the tower of Hebrew University, the Jewish settlement of French Hill, and an Israeli military detention center. Next to the detention center is the Ring Road, vast land appropriated from Issawiya to build the E-1 settlement bloc, and in the distance, the imposing Jewish settlement of Maale Adummim. In the middle of all this, cramped and constricted, lies Issawiya."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

News reports from Press TV 17-19 September 2008

*Requires windows media application

Egypt reopens Rafah crossing for two days
Sat, 20 Sep 2008 21:15:45
Ashraf Shannon, Press TV, Gaza

Lack of medicines endangering Palestinian patients
Sat, 20 Sep 2008 21:13:00
Lauren Booth, Press TV, Gaza

UN envoy draws a grim picture of situation in Palestine
Fri, 19 Sep 2008 05:55:23
Mike Mazzocco, Press TV, United Nations

Hamas: Livni pursuing policy of aggression against Palestinians
Thu, 18 Sep 2008 23:32:24
Yousef Al-Helou Press TV, Gaza

Gazans frustrated as observing second Ramadan under siege
Wed, 17 Sep 2008 23:10:16
Ashraf Shannon, Press TV Gaza

Friday, September 19, 2008

Riz Khan - Palestinian Children's Relief Fund - 18 Sep 08

Riz Khan - Palestinian Children's Relief Fund - 18 Sep 08 - Part 1:

"Riz speaks with the founder of the Palestinian Children's Relief Fund, Steve Sosebee, as well as one doctor who is volunteering his time and skills to help children in the US.

In any war it is usually the smallest victims who suffer the most, and this has been the case in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Hundreds of children have been physically and psychologically damaged by bombs, sniper fire and missile attacks, but often left without adequate medical treatment.

The Palestinian Children's Relief Fund (PCRF) was established in 1991 to address the medical and humanitarian crisis facing Palestinian youth.

Since then it has expanded to help suffering children in other Middle Eastern nations, improve the quality of medical care by sending in medical equipment and supplies into the West Bank and Gaza Strip and training Palestinian surgeons.

The PCRF currently has several sick or injured Arab children the Middle East, Europe and here in the US who are being treated for free."

Part 1

Part 2

Tutu condemns strike on Gaza

Tutu condemns strike on Gaza:
"Archbishop Desmond Tutu has delivered a scathing report to the UN on Israel's shelling of Beit Hanoun in Gaza in 2006."

Related News item:

TuTu: 2006 Israeli Attack on Beit Hanoun Possible War Crime
Thursday, September 18, 2009
Source: IMEMC

The South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu told the United Nations this week that he believes that a 2006 Israeli attack on the southern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun “showed a disproportionate and reckless disregard for Palestinian civilian life”, and could possibly be considered a war crime.

Tutu was part of an investigatory commission created by the United Nations (UN) shortly after the incident to travel to Gaza and conduct an investigation. But Israel refused to issue the renowned Archbishop and anti-apartheid activist a visa, and the investigation was unable to go forward. Tutu finally was allowed to enter Beit Hanoun this May, 18 months after the incident, and did not manage to conduct an investigation.

In the 2006 attacks, 19 Palestinian civilians, including children, were killed in a barrage of Israeli artillery shells. Said Tutu this week, "It is not too late for an independent, impartial and transparent investigation of the shelling to be held”.

Israeli authorities reject the validity of Tutu's statement, with one Israeli official, Aharon Leshno-Yaar, stating, “There is no need for such a mission by the Human Rights Council and by Archbishop Tutu”, adding that the internal investigation carried out by the Israeli military, which ruled that the shelling was an accident, was sufficient.

Nearly 4,000 Palestinians and 900 Israelis have been killed since the current uprising against the Israeli military occupation began in late 2000. Human rights groups estimate that around 80% of those killed, both Israelis and Palestinians, have been civilians.

Gaza children suffer from malnutrition due to Israeli siege

Gaza children suffer from malnutrition due to Israeli siege:
A report by British Journalist Lauren Booth
"The Israeli blockade of Gaza is creating a health crisis amongst Palestinian children. Mothers are bringing infants suffering from malnutrition to the Ard al-Insan Child Nutrition Centre in Gaza- By British Journalist Lauren Booth"

Gaza Boat Trip

draft Gaza Boat Trip:

End of an Odyssey
by Jeff Halper
September 01, 2008
Source: ICAHD

Now, a few days after my release from jail in the wake of my trip to Gaza, I’m posting a few notes to sum things up.

First, the mission of the Free Gaza Movement to break the Israeli siege proved a success beyond all expectations. Our reaching Gaza and leaving has created a free and regular channel between Gaza and the outside world. It has done so because it has forced the Israeli government to make a clear policy declaration: that it is not occupying Gaza and therefore will not prevent the free movement of Palestinians in and out (at least by sea). (Israel’s security concerns can easily be accommodated by instituting a technical system of checks similar to those of other ports.) Any attempt on the part of Israel to backtrack on this – by preventing ships in the future from entering or leaving Gaza with goods and passengers, including Palestinians – may be immediately interpreted as an assertion of control, and therefore of Occupation, opening Israel to accountability for war crimes before international law, something Israel tries to avoid at all costs. Gone is the obfuscation that has allowed Israel to maintain its control of the Occupied Territories without assuming any responsibility: from now on, Israel is either an Occupying Power accountable for its actions and policies, or Palestinians have every right to enjoy their human right of travelling freely in and out of their country. Israel can no longer have it both ways. Not only did our two little boats force the Israel military and government to give way, then, they also changed fundamentally the status of Israel’s control of Gaza.

When we finally arrived in Gaza after a day and a half sail, the welcome we received from 40,000 joyous Gazans was overwhelming and moving. People sought me out in particular, eager it seemed to speak Hebrew with an Israeli after years of closure. The message I received by people of all factions during my three days there was the same: How do we ("we" in the sense of all of us living in their country, not just Palestinians or Israelis) get out of this mess? Where are WE going? The discourse was not even political: what is the solution; one-state, two-state, etc etc. It was just common sense and straightforward, based on the assumption that we will all continue living in the same country and this stupid conflict, with its walls and siege and violence, is bad for everybody. Don't Israelis see that? people would ask me.

(The answer, unfortunately, is "no." To be honest, we Israeli Jews are the problem. The Palestinian years ago accepted our existence in the country as a people and are willing to accept ANY solution -- two states, one state, no state, whatever. It is us who want exclusivity over the "Land of Israel" who cannot conceive of a single country, who cannot accept the national presence of Palestinians (we talk about "Arabs" in our country), and who have eliminated by our settlements even the possibility of the two-state solution in which we take 80% of the land. So it’s sad, truly sad, that our "enemies" want peace and co-existence (and tell me that in HEBREW) and we don't. Yeah, we Israeli Jews want "peace," but in the meantime what we have -- almost no attacks, a feeling of security, a "disappeared" Palestinian people, a booming economy, tourism and ever-improving international status -- seems just fine. If "peace" means giving up settlements, land and control, why do it? What’s wrong with the status quo? If its not broken, don't fix it.)

I also received Palestinian citizenship when I was in Gaza, including a passport.

When I was in Gaza everyone in Israel -- including the media who interviewed me – warned me to be careful, to watch out for my life. Aren’t you scared? they asked. Well, the only time I felt genuine and palpable fear during the entire journey was when I got back to Israel. I went from Gaza through the Erez checkpoint because I wanted to make the point that the siege is not only by sea. On the Israeli side I was immediately arrested, charged with violating a military order prohibiting Israelis from being in Gaza and jailed at the Shikma prison in Ashkelon. In my cell that night, someone recognized from the news. All night I was physically threatened by right-wing Israelis -- and I was sure I wouldn't make it till the morning. Ironically, there were three Palestinians in my cell who kind of protected me, so the danger was from Israelis, not Palestinians, in Gaza as well as in Israel. (One Palestinian from Hebron was in jail for being illegally in Israel; I was in jail for being illegally in Palestine.) As it stands, I'm out on bail. The state will probably press charges in the next few weeks, and I could be jailed for two or so months. I now am a Palestinian in every sense of the word: On Monday I received my Palestinian citizenship, on Tuesday I was already in an Israeli jail.

Though the operation was a complete success, the siege will only be genuinely broken if we keep up the movement in and out of Gaza. The boats are scheduled to return in 2-4 weeks and I am now working on getting a boat-load of Israelis.

My only frustration with what was undoubtedly a successful operation was with the fact that Israelis just don't get it – and don’t want to get it. The implications of our being the strong party and the fact that the Palestinians are the ones truly seeking peace are too threatening to their hegemony and self-perceived innocence. What I encountered in perhaps a dozen interviews – and what I read about myself and our trip written by “journalists” who never even attempted to speak to me or the others – was a collective image of Gaza, the Palestinians and our interminable conflict which could only be described as fantasy. Rather than enquire about my experiences, motives or views, my interviewers, especially on the mainstream radio, spent their time forcing upon me their slogans and uniformed prejudices, as if giving me a space to explain myself deal a death blow to their tightly-held conceptions.

Ben Dror Yemini of the popular Ma’ariv newspaper called us a “satanic cult.” Another suggested that a prominent contributor to the Free Gaza Movement was a Palestinian-American who had been questioned by the FBI, as if that had to do with anything (the innuendo being we were supported, perhaps even manipulated or worse, by “terrorists”). Others were more explicit: Wasn’t it true that we were giving Hamas a PR victory? Why was I siding with Palestinian fishermen-gun smugglers against my own country which sought only to protect its citizens? Some simply yelled at me, like an interviewer on Arutz 99. And when all else failed, my interlocutors could always fall back on good old cynicism: Peace is impossible. Jews and Arabs are different species. You can’t trust “them.” Or bald assertions: They just want to destroy us. Then there’s the paternalism: Well, I guess it’s good to have a few idealists like you around…..

Nowhere in the many interviews was there a genuine curiosity about what I was doing or what life was like in Gaza. No one interested in a different perspective, especially if it challenged their cherished slogans. No one going beyond the old, tired slogans. Plenty of reference, though, to terrorism, Qassam missiles and Palestinian snubbing our valiant efforts to make peace; none whatsoever to occupation, house demolitions, siege, land expropriation or settlement expansion, not to mention the killing, imprisoning and impoverishment of their civilian population. As if we had nothing to do with the conflict, as if we were just living our normal, innocent lives and bad people decided to throw Qassam rockets. Above all, no sense of our responsibility, or any willingness to accept responsibility for the ongoing violence and conflict. Instead just a thoughtless, automatic appeal to an image of Gaza and “Arabs” (we don’t generally use the term “Palestinians”) that is diametrically opposed to what I’ve seen and experienced, a slavish repeating of mindless (and wrong) slogans which serve only to eliminate any possibility of truly grasping the situation. In short, a fantasy Gaza as perceived from within a bubble carefully constructed so as to deflect any uncomfortable reality.

The greatest insight this trip has given me is understanding why Israelis don’t “get it:” a media comprised by people who should know better but who possess little critical ability and feel more comfortable inside a box created by self-serving politicians than in trying to do something far more creative: understanding what in the hell is going on here.

Still, I formulated clearly my messages to my fellow Israelis, and that constitutes the main content of my interviews and talks:

(1) Despite what our political leaders say, there is a political solution to the conflict, there are partners for peace;

(2) The Palestinians are not our enemies. In fact, I urge my fellow Israeli Jews to disassociate from the dead-end politics of our failed political leaders by declaring, in concert with Israeli and Palestinian peace-makers: We refuse to be enemies. And

(3) As the infinitely stronger party in the conflict and the only Occupying Power, we Israelis must accept responsibility for our failed and oppressive policies. Only we can end the conflict.

Let me end by expressing my appreciation to the organizers of this initiative – Paul Larudee, Greta Berlin and Bella – the wonderful group of participants on the boats and the great communication team that stayed ashore. Special appreciation goes to ICAHD’s own Angela Godfrey-Goldstein who played a crucial role in Cyprus and Jerusalem in getting the word out. Not to forget our hosts in Gaza (whose names are on the Free Gaza website) and the thousands of Gazans who welcomed us and shared their lives with us. May our peoples finally find the peace and justice they deserve in our common country.

Ni'lin - Neturei Karta join anti-fence rally 17.9.2008

Ni'ilin 17.9.2008:
Wednesday, September 17 2008

Demonstration in Ni'lin holds up construction of the Apartheid Wall

Source: ISM
September 18, 2008

The Israeli army attempted to stop the non violent protesters before they got out of the village by shooting tear gas and sound bombs directly without provocation.
Five Palestinians were injured by rubber coated steel bullets, 2 hit by tear gas canisters and one Israeli was badly beaten up and hit in his bag with a sound bomb. 5 Israelis were detained, but all of them are now released.

Before today’s demonstration the Neturei Karta held a speech to the villagers of Ni’lin condemning the annexation of their land and praising their resistance. They ended their speech by giving flowers to the village in memory of those killed during the massacre in Shabra and Shatila in 1982.

The Israeli army blocked the protesters in a field directly outside the village. They shot tear gas, rubber coated steel bullets and sound bombs at the non violent protesters who were pressured back into the village.

Two groups of protesters managed to get around the soldiers and ran to the construction site of the illegal apartheid wall where they stopped the bulldozers for 10 minutes.

The aggression from the army increased after this and they immediately started shooting rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas cannisters directly at the protesters from a close distance. Five Palestinians were hit by rubber coated steel bullets and two by tear gas cannisters.

The soldiers beat up one Israeli man who protested in solidarity with the villagers. When he finally escaped their brutality they threw a sound bomb at his back.

The attacks continued all the way back into the village where the soldiers shot tear gas directly at any one who moved in the streets.

The completion of the illegal apartheid wall will leave the villagers of Ni’lin with only 4% of the land they owned before 1948. In addition to the apartheid wall Israel plans to build a tunnel under the apartheid road leading to the nearby settlements. The tunnel will be the only way in and out of Ni’lin. It will close every night at 7pm and is possible to close of with only one military jeep. This will have huge economic as well as social consequences for the villagers of Ni’lin.

In 1982 September 16, Israeli army in co-operation with Lebanese terrorists were instrumental in a massacre on the Palestinian refugee camps Shabra and Shatila in Lebanon that killed thousands of Palestinians.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sept 16th - Israeli gunboats injure Italian HR worker

Sept 16th - Israeli gunboats injure Italian HR worker:

"Two Gazan fishing boats with international human rights workers on board were repeatedly attacked by 2 Israeli gunboats while they were trying to exercise Palestinian people's right to fish in the Palestinian waters. One of the Israeli gunboats was using a water cannon to throw water with high pressure while the other one was randomly firing shots of live ammunition close to the fishing boats.

The attack with the water cannon was extremely dangerous. The Israeli navy was trying to throw the Palestinian fishermen and the international human rights workers in the sea. The high pressure water was damaging the old boats and people on board had to avoid not only the water but also wooden pieces, shattered glass and others objects that were flying off the deck. The Israeli navy was deliberately targeting the wheelhouses of the fishing boats, smashing the windows, making holes and nearly demolishing the walls and destroying equipment. In the same time it was preventing the captains from steering the vessels and the fishing to take place.

An Italian activist was injured. Vittorio Arrigoni was hit by flying glass when the water canon smashed the glass surrounding the wheelhouse of the boat, with shards lacerating Vittorios back. He was been taken to hospital immediately upon reaching shore, requiring 10 stitches."

Israeli Guards Made Me Dance, U.S. Performer Says

Related Article:

So You Think You Can Dance?

By Omar Barghouti - Jerusalem
Source: The Palestine Chronicle

Israeli security officers at Tel-Aviv's Ben-Gurion Airport Tuesday forced an African-American member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater -- by far the best-known touring company in the United States -- to perform twice for them in order to prove he was a dancer before letting him enter the country with the dance company, the dancer told the Associated Press. But even after he complied, one of the officers suggested that Abdur-Rahim Jackson change his name. Jackson felt humiliated and "deeply saddened," according to an Ailey spokesperson, particularly because his Arab/Muslim sounding first name, given to him by his Muslim father, was the reason that he was the only member of his company subjected to this typical Israeli ethnic profiling.

While still officially illegal in the U.S., ethnic profiling, described as "racist" by human rights groups, is widespread in Israel, at entrances to malls, public and private buildings, airports, etcetera. Israeli citizens and permanent residents with Arab names -- or often just Arab accents -- are commonly singled out for rough, intrusive and glaringly humiliating "security" checks. When I, an Israeli-ID holder, travel through the Tel Aviv airport, for instance, I always get stickers with the number "6" stamped on my passport, luggage and ticket. Israeli Jews, in comparison, get "1" or "2." A "6" leads to the most thorough and degrading check of luggage and person. The smaller figures, in comparison, mean you get whisked through security with just an x-ray scan of your luggage. A couple of years ago, people like me used to get a bright red sticker, while Israeli Jews got light pink or similarly "benign" colors. Some astute Israeli officials must have been alerted that color-coding passengers according to their ethnicity and/or religion was too overtly apartheid-like, so they switched to the supposedly "nuanced" number coding. No wonder Nobel-prize winning South African Bishop and anti-Apartheid leader Desmond Tutu described Israeli practices as constituting a "worse" form of apartheid -- it is far more sophisticated than the original version.

The Alvin Ailey troupe is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a multi-nation tour starting in Israel. Despite the above incident, the show was scheduled to go on as scheduled Thursday, and the company did nothing substantial to even protest this discriminatory policy to which one of its members was subjected, notwithstanding artistic director Judith Jamison's statement to Haaretz newspaper that "We are here to irritate you, to make you think." This only enhances Israel's impunity. More crucially, by its very performance in Israel, regardless of whether one of its members was targeted by Israeli ethnic profiling or not, the group has violated the cultural boycott called for by Palestinian civil society since 2004 against Israel due to its persistent violation of international law and fundamental human rights.

Two years after that initial boycott call, a large majority of Palestinian artists and cultural workers appealed to all artists and filmmakers of good conscience around the world "to cancel all exhibitions and other cultural events that are scheduled to occur in Israel, to mobilize immediately and not allow the continuation of the Israeli offensive to breed complacency." As with the boycott of South African cultural institutions during apartheid, international cultural workers and groups are urged by their Palestinian colleagues to "speak out against the current Israeli war crimes and atrocities." Many internationally recognized artists and intellectuals heeded the Palestinian appeal for boycott; those included John Berger, Ken Loach, Jean-Luc Godard, the Irish artists union, Aosdana, and Belgian dance company Les Ballets C. de la B. The latter published a statement defending the cultural boycott as "a legitimate, unambiguous and nonviolent way of exerting additional pressure on those responsible."

In 1965, the American Committee on Africa, following the lead of prominent British arts associations, sponsored a historic declaration against South African apartheid, signed by more than 60 cultural personalities. It read: "We say no to apartheid. We take this pledge in solemn resolve to refuse any encouragement of, or indeed, any professional association with the present Republic of South Africa, this until the day when all its people shall equally enjoy the educational and cultural advantages of that rich and beautiful land."

If one were to replace "Republic of South Africa" with the "State of Israel," the rest should apply just as strongly. Israel today, 60 years after its establishment through what prominent Israeli historian Ilan Pappe describes as a deliberate and systemic process of ethnic cleansing of a large majority of the indigenous Palestinian population, still practices racial discrimination against its own "non-Jewish" citizens; it still maintains the longest military occupation in modern history; it still denies millions of Palestinian refugees their internationally recognized right to return to their homes and properties; and it still commits war crimes and violates basic human rights and tenets of international humanitarian law with utter impunity.

Some may argue that, from their viewpoint, art should transcend political division, unifying people in their common humanity. They forget, it seems, that masters and slaves do not quite share anything in common, least of all any notion of humanity. Rather than reinventing the wheel, I recall the wise words of Enuga S. Reddy, director of the United Nations Center Against Apartheid, who in 1984 responded to criticism that the cultural boycott of South Africa infringed on freedom of expression, saying: "It is rather strange, to say the least, that the South African regime which denies all freedoms... to the African majority... should become a defender of the freedom of artists and sportsmen of the world. We have a list of people who have performed in South Africa because of ignorance of the situation or the lure of money or unconcern over racism. They need to be persuaded to stop entertaining apartheid, to stop profiting from apartheid money and to stop serving the propaganda purposes of the apartheid regime."

Humanity -- and above all human dignity -- is at the core of many of the works of Alvin Ailey. His company, and indeed all other artists and cultural entities that care about human rights and realize that art and moral responsibility should not be divorced at any time, are called upon by their Palestinian colleagues and public at large not to perform in Israel until justice, freedom, equality and human rights are established for all, irrespective of ethnic, religious, gender or any other form of identity. This is what the arts and academic (Ailey co-directs a degree program at Fordham University) community did as their contribution to the struggle to end apartheid rule in South Africa. This is precisely what they can do to end injustice and colonial conflict in Palestine. Only then can dancers named Abdur-Rahim, Fatima, Paul or Nurit be viewed and treated equally, without any profiling.

-Omar Barghouti is a freelance choreographer, cultural analyst and founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (www.PACBI.org).

B'Tselem Video - Israeli Settlers attack the Palestinian Village of Asira

Settlers' attack the Palestinian Village of Asira:

New Video footage of the Attack on Asira al Qibliya


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.

7 August '08: Increase in settler violence

Testimony: Settler throws rock at Palestinian car passing by the Yizhar settlement, severely injuring a mother and daughter, August 2008

Testimony: Settlers from Yizhar attack house of the Ahmad family in ‘Asira al-Qibliya, 16 May ’08

Testimony: Soldiers help settlers attack Ribhi 'Aseiri, on his way to put out a fire apparently started by settlers, May 2008

In January 2007, B'Tselem launched "Shooting Back", a video advocacy project focusing on the Occupied Territories. We provide Palestinians living in high-conflict areas with video cameras, with the goal of bringing the reality of their lives under occupation to the attention of the Israeli and international public, exposing and seeking redress for violations of human rights.

also see the first video footage on the attack here

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tearing Families Apart. Israel Implements New Permit Regime & Forcible Transfer of Palestinians

Israel Implements New Permit Regime & Forcible Transfer:

By B'Tselem

"10 Sept. '08: Israel Implements New Permit Regime and Policy of Forcible Transfer of Palestinians from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip

In the past year Israel has escalated its policy of separating the Palestinian populations of the Gaza Strip and West Bank from each other. The separation regime tears families apart, puts thousands at risk of expulsion to the Gaza Strip and turns Palestinians into 'illegal aliens' in their own home. This policy is revealed in a position paper published today (Wednesday 10 September) by human rights organizations HaMoked and B'Tselem.

As of November 2007, Israel requires Palestinians whose registered address is in Gaza to apply for a temporary permit to remain in the West Bank. This, even if they have lived in the West Bank for many years, established their homes there, and, in some cases even if they were born in the West Bank. Moreover, in the past year, the military has taken active measures to locate and expel Palestinians from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip under the pretext that they are 'illegal aliens.'

Israel is exploiting the hardship of families which are split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip to force them to move to Gaza permanently. Israel requires Palestinians wishing to enter Gaza to sign an undertaking never to return to the West Bank. On the other hand, Palestinians from Gaza wishing to enter the West Bank for medical treatment, family visits etc., are required to deposit a large sum of money to guarantee their return to Gaza. For example:

A Gazan bride and her parents who wanted to travel to the West Bank for the wedding ceremony were required to deposit NIS 20,000 to guarantee their return to Gaza including the bride.

A resident of Qalqiliya wishing to enter the Gaza Strip to visit her ailing husband was informed by the military that the visit would be approved only if she undertook never to return to her home in the West Bank.

A man, originally from Hebron, who resides with his wife and children in the Gaza Strip visited his mother in the West Bank. When he asked to return home, the military refused to let him go to Gaza or to let his family from Gaza come to Hebron. After a year of separation, the military said the father would be allowed to return to Gaza if he signs an undertaking never to return to the West Bank.
The High Court of Justice has recently backed Israel's policy of denying Palestinian residents of the Territories the right to choose where they wish to reside, live with their families and travel between Gaza and the West Bank. In the past, the Court accepted army-imposed restrictions on Palestinian movement, but made efforts to promote compromises between the parties. This has changed and in its rulings the Court now puts its seal of approval on Israel's policy which blocks passage entirely.

HaMoked and B'Tselem demand that Israel immediately renew freedom of movement between the two parts of the Occupied Territory and avoid any forcible transfers from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip. The international community must protest the violation of Palestinians' rights to freedom of movement, to family life and to choose where they wish to live and take action to secure these rights."

B'Tselem and Hamoked Position Paper, PDF
Testimony of Kawkab Jallo
Testimony of Hadeel al-Bardawil
Testimony of Rabi' Rizeq
Background on the Gaza Strip

Mosaic News - 9/15/08: World News from the Middle East

Mosaic News - 9/15/08: World News from the Middle East:

Israel Closes Gaza Crossings - Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
Olmert makes 11th-hour pitch for peace deal - IBA TV, Israel
Assassination raises tension as Lebanon seeks to bridge divide - Dubai TV, UAE
US threatens Iran with new sanctions - Press TV, Iran
Pakistan Denies Interfering with NATO - Al Arabiya TV, UAE
Deadlock in Mauritania - Al-Alam TV, Iran
Iraqi Families Live on Landfills - Alsumaria TV, Iraq
Farmers in Rabat Demonstrate Against Land Development - Al Jazeera TV, Qatar

Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Settler attack on Asira al Qibliya

West bank violence:

"Amateur footage showed what appeared to be settlers throwing stones at Palestinian houses"

Continued settler attacks in the village of Asira al Qibliya as residents prepare for olive harvest
September 9, 2008
Source: ISM
For more information about the Olive Harvest Campaign 2008 click here

A Palestinian family home near the settlement of Yizhar has been under constant attacks from its inhabitants. On Friday 5 September settlers came down the mountain, a mere kilometre from the village, to the families’ home and threw stones and painted stars of David on the walls. This has not been the first occasion.

The home has been under constant attack from settlers over the past four years, coming down the mountain, harassing and intimidating the family who have small children and two other Palestinian homes in close proximity. On one occasion settlers fired guns into the air and ground forcing the family on each occasion to lock themselves in their home. When the Israeli army have been contacted about the attacks they have not taken any further action against the perpetrators and the attacks have continued.

The village of Asira al Qibliya is also dependent on its annual olive harvest and farmers attempting to harvest and tend to their trees next to the settlement have been under repeated attacks over the past few years from both settlers and the army. This year they will be accompanied by international solidarity activists with the aim of achieving as full a harvest as possible.

History of attacks against the village:

"The only way to live"- fear and fury in Urif and Asira November 11, 2006

Herds of Jewish settlers attack Palestinian village 15 May 2008

Settlers attack Asira al Qibliya May 17, 2008

Settlers attack a house in Asira al Qibliya May 20, 2008

Soldiers help settlers attack Palestinian putting out a fire near Asira al Qibliya June 12, 2008

Settlers attack Asira al Qibliya and Burin June 19, 2008

Israeli settlers burn tens of dunams of agricultural land, properties and cars belonging to the residents of four Palestinian Villages south of Nablus. VIDEO June 18, 2008

Official report: Israeli military watched settlers set blaze to Palestinian lands June 21, 2008

Settler attacks in Asira al-Qibliya June 22, 2008

House Invasions, arrests and abuse by army in Madama and Asira al Qibliya July 19, 2008

Free Gaza Mov: Israeli terrorism in palestinian sea

Free Gaza Mov: Israeli terrorism in palestinian sea:

(GAZA COASTAL WATERS) 10th September 2008 -
An Israeli military gunboat rammed an unarmed Palestinian fishing vessel today at high speeds. The gunboat smashed through the upper hull of the fishing boat, careened over the top, and landed on the other side.

Extensive damage was caused by the impact to the fishing boat. The hull
was badly damaged, and virtually the entire deck area, all the equipment
on it, and the canopy above the deck were severely damaged. Unusually, all
of the crew happened to be in the cabin or at the fore at the time. Had
they been on deck they would have had little chance of survival.

Via a megaphone, the Israeli military aboard the gunboat then made the
threat that: "When the internationals leave Gaza, you will all be made to

Human rights observers from the International Solidarity Movement and from
the Free Gaza Movement have recently been accompanying Gazan Fishermen
during their work. The fishermen are constantly harassed, threatened and
attacked by the State of Israel, in flagrant violation of international
law and maritime law. Israel has been attempting to impose an illegal
"no-go" area 6 miles off Gaza's coast through employment of lethal force
against unarmed fishing boats. However, and this is not unusual, today's
attack happened within the so-called "permitted" 6-mile area.

The ISM regards the project of accompanying unarmed Palestinian fishermen
as a long term commitment. Some of the human rights observers currently
undertaking this work are long-term volunteers who will be in Gaza for the
indefinite future. More long-term volunteers are expected to bolster their
number within the next few weeks.


The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
tel: +972 2 530 3111
fax: +972 2 530 3367

Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations
tel: +1 212 499 5510
fax: +1 212 499 5515

DEMAND that Israel stop using deadly force to intimidate unarmed
Palestinian fishermen operating within Gaza's coastal waters!

For More Information, Please Contact:
(Gaza) Donna Wallach, +972 59 883 6420 / cats4jazz@gmail.com
(Gaza) Andrew Muncie, +972 59 883 6309 / muncie88@hotmail.com

For photos of the damage, see:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Abu Mazen: don’t mess with the right of return

Abu Mazen: don’t mess with the right of return:

"By Khalid Amayreh

In recent days, the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Mahmoud Abbas made two extremely worrying pronouncements with regard to the paramount issue of the Right of Return.

Last week, he told Al-Arabiya TV that he couldn’t demand that all Palestinian refugees be allowed to return to their homes and towns from which they were uprooted when Israel was created in Palestine more than sixty years ago.

This week, the PA President uttered even more daring remarks in an interview with the Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz, published Sunday, 14 September.

He suggested that Israel was justified in refusing to allow the repatriation of the refugees.

“We understand that if we demand of you that all the five million refugees be allowed to return to Israel, the State of Israel would be destroyed. But we must talk about compromise and see what numbers you can accept,” Abbas was quoted as saying.

He added: “We have to talk with Israel about the number of refugees who will return to Israel. I am criticized for not demanding the return of all the five million refugees, but I say that we will demand the return of a reasonable number of refugees to Israel."

Needless to say, the loose tone of Abbas’s words seems to reflect a certain propensity on his part to effectively sacrifice and trivialize the right of return, which more or less represents the heart and soul of the Palestinian problem.

Well, I have a few words of advice for Abbas and his aides: Don’t mess with the right of return. Don’t play with fire.!

It is true that you were elected President of the PA in 2005. However, this doesn’t give you the right to compromise on the core of Palestinian cause, the inalienable right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and villages from which they were ethnically cleansed and subsequently dispersed to the four corners of the globe by organized Jewish terror.

Indeed, you yourself, Mr. Chairman, during your election campaign four years ago, stressed repeatedly that the only solution acceptable to the Palestinians with regard to the refugee plight would have to be based on UN resolution 194.

I am not asking you to emulate Saladin or Omar Ibn al Khattab This is obviously beyond your ability.

But the Palestinian masses do expect you to honour your undertaking and keep your word. This is certainly not beyond your ability.

Let me remind you Mr. Chairman of paragraph #11 of resolution- 194 in case you have forgotten it.

“It (the resolution) resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”

Some of your friends and advisors may have advised you to “show flexibility” in this regard, and you may have harboured a certain tendency to view the right of return as somewhat anachronistic given the existing hard political realities.

However, it is equally valid to argue that any resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli strife excluding a genuine implementation of the right of return would be disingenuous, fragile and short-lasting.
I am not indulging in sooth-saying or far-fetched prognostication. Ask the refugees themselves from Nahr al-Bared in Lebanon to al-Wihdat in Jordan to Jabalya in the Gaza Strip and al-Amaari near Ramallah, not far from your office. Ask them if they are willing to cede their right to return to their original homes and villages even in return for a Palestinian state or quasi-state, and they will communicate to you their true feelings. Don’t listen to the hangers-on around you whose main preoccupation is to make money and appear on TV screens every evening.

As a Palestinian, I was particularly disquieted by your remarks that “the return of five million Palestinians would lead to the destruction of Israel.”

Well, Mr. Abbas. Has Israel’s survival as an exclusive Jewish state become a pressing Palestinian preoccupation?

As a Palestinian leader, your main preoccupation should be first and foremost to protect and effect the right of return for these tormented Palestinians who have been suffering the agony of homelessness for more than sixty years.

Yes, sixty years of homelessness, pain and dispersion should be enough for these miserable people who had inherited misery and suffering generation after generation after generation.

Hence, ending this most obscene and sinister scandal would not be an act of charity to the Palestinians. It would rather be a belated application of relevant UN resolutions which call for the repatriation and indemnification for these refugees.

The uprooting of these innocent victims of satanic Zionism, now numbering five million human beings, was a collective act of rape and ethnic cleansing with very few parallels in history. It will remain an enduring act of rape as long as the wrongs done to the victims are not rectified and corrected.

Indeed, the bulk of the Zionist establishment doesn’t even recognize the occurrence of these crimes, and whenever a conscientious Israeli academic speaks up against these wrongs, he or she is usually vilified and threatened by a society dominated by racism and hatred.

This is why the Right of Return, at least as far as Palestinians are concerned, shouldn’t be a subject of dispute and controversy just as the rightful owner’s right to recover his stolen property from a thief is not a subject of dispute and property.

As to Zionist arguments about the need for maintaining Israel as a Jewish state, it is obvious that such arguments constitute a brazen moral insult to every human being that values justice and honesty.

First, it is well known that the term “Jewish character of Israel” is nothing short of a euphemism for the continuation of Israel’s racist policies against non-Jews. Apartheid and racism can’t be legitimate even if practitioners are Jewish. Jewish racism is no less virulent than German racism.

Second, it should be axiomatic to all that the conscience of the world is under no more legal or moral obligation to maintain Zionism in Palestine than it was to maintain apartheid in South Africa.

More to the point, one is always prompted to ask the following question with regard to this issue: Does Israel’s alleged right to religious and ethnic purity override the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homes and country?

Finally, it is clear that denying the Palestinian refugees their inalienable right to return to Palestine/Israel is beyond the pale of simple rectitude.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN in 1948, states in its Article #13 that “everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”

To reiterate, the right of return is the heart and soul of the Palestinian problem. It is actually more paramount than the issue of Palestinian statehood and even Jerusalem, despite the latter’s immense national and religious importance.

Hence, it should be amply clear that any agreement or understanding between Israel and the PA ignoring or overlooking this central issue of the right of return will be treated as null and void by the Palestinian people.

This is not only a message to the PLO leadership. It is also a message to the insolent Israeli state which might be tempted to think that the current weakness of the Palestinian position vis-à-vis Israel would prompt the Palestinians to retreat from their national constants.


For Immediate Release
September 14, 2008


According to several recent reports of an interview with the Ha'aretz newspaper (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1020471.html), Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is quoted as indicating that he is willing to negotiate away the rights of millions of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands of origin. This outrageous statement, which has not been denied to date, comes on the heels of US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's latest visit and attempt to squeeze a 'peace agreement' from both the PA and 'Israel'.


In keeping with the brief scenario outlined in the 6th issue of Until Return http://www.al-awda.org/until-return/danger.html, Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, is calling on all its members, supporters, and all people of conscience to respond to the current increased
attempts to 'negotiate' away the inalienable right of Palestinians to return to their homes and lands of origin.

Please write to President Mahmoud Abbas c/o of the PLO Office in Washington, D.C. and The Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations.


*President Mahmud Abbas' statement as reported in the Ha'aretz interview is at complete variance with the Palestinian people's inalienable, natural, legal, historical, individual and collective right to return to their homes and lands of origin, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Law and UN Resolutions 194 and 3236.

*According to international law, no agreement, negotiations or parties which purport to trade away the right to return or any other inalienable rights can have any legal basis and cannot bind or compel the Palestinian people to end the struggle for the fulfillment of their rights.

*Any attempt to abrogate the rights of Palestinian refugees would set a disastrous precedent in international human rights law. It would provide a clear signal that any invaders who expel civilians from their homes, steal their property, and prevent them from returning for long enough can expect to have their illegal territorial conquests blessed with international legitimacy.

*Implementation of the right to return as spelled out in UN resolutions is the core to a just resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

* Mr. Mahmoud Abbas should resign as president of the PA and chairman of the PLO forthwith. His statement as reported in the Ha'aretz, and which he has not denied to date, is outrageous and disregards the rights of 7.2 million Palestinians living in forced exile.

Send Letters to:

*PA President Mahmoud Abbas
c/o PLO Office in Washington, D.C.
1320 18th Street, NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20036
Email: Plomission1@aol.com
Email: Palmission@aol.com
Tel: (202) 974 6360
Fax: (202) 974 6278

Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations
115 East 65th Street
New York, NY 10021
Email: palestine@un.int
Tel: (212) 288-8500
Fax: (212) 517-2377

Please cc your correspondence to: alerts@al-awda.org

Executive Committee
Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
PO Box 131352
Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA
E-mail: info@al-awda.org
WWW: http://www.al-awda.org
Tel: 760-918-9441
Fax: 360-933-3568

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition (PRRC) is the largest network of grassroots activists and students dedicated to advocacy for the inalienable, natural, legal, historical, individual and collective rights of all Palestinians to return to their homes and lands of origin. PRRC is a not for profit tax-exempt educational and charitable 501(c)(3) organization as
defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States of America. Under IRS guidelines, your donations to PRRC are tax-deductible. To donate, please go to http://www.al-awda.org/donate.html and follow the instructions.

The Video Quilt Project - Al Awda
"A project by the Al-Awda Media Center to gather and stitch together the voices of Palestinians and their supporters for the Right of Return."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Israel: Ultra-Orthodox brigades in Mea Shearim

Israel: Ultra-Orthodox brigades in Mea Shearim:

"REPORT: Reports of violence have emerged from the ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem, where patrols make sure morals are observed by the local population."

Related Article:
Israeli Women Fear Writing on the Wall

‘Modesty patrols’ in Haredim neighbourhoods have started a vigilante movement that targets those who fail to live up to their moral laws

Jonathan Cook

The National

September 09, 2008

JERUSALEM // Scrawled across a wall on a busy main street is the statement in Hebrew: “Fashion equals promiscuity”. For women in some Israeli communities, such public sentiments are not simply idle graffiti – they are a warning, and one that is increasingly backed by threats of physical violence.

Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jews, religious fundamentalists who believe it is more important to follow their interpretation of God’s precepts than abide by Israeli laws, choose to live in separate neighbourhoods and towns, often close to the holy sites of Jerusalem.

Known locally as Haredim (literally, “God-fearing people”), they are the fastest growing community in Israel – and already comprise one-tenth of the population. The men are recognisable by their attire – a uniform of black hats or skullcaps, with black suits worn over white shirts – that dates to the community’s roots in eastern Europe several hundred years ago.

But faced with what they see as the threat of modern culture, sections of the Haredim are demanding a more rigorous enforcement of Jewish religious laws, or halakha. Under the label of “modesty patrols”, groups of ultra-Orthodox men are turning into vigilantes, targeting in particular Haredi women whose behaviour they disapprove of.

Reports of women being attacked on the street or in their homes have been steadily rising in the local media.

In one widely publicised incident over the summer, a 14-year-old girl from Upper Beitar, a large ultra-Orthodox settlement in the West Bank south of Jerusalem, had acid poured on her face and body in what is believed to have been the work of a modesty patrol.

The girl told a paramedic treating her that she had been repeatedly threatened before the attack. According to local media, the girl was wearing loose-fitting trousers at the time of the attack.

Several rabbis have denounced women as immodest for wearing trousers. One of the most prominent, Rabbi Shlomi Aviner, ruled last month: “In general, a woman must always wear modest clothes even when she is alone and in the dark.”

Last week an ultra-Orthodox man, Elhanan Buzaglo, was indicted on suspicion of breaking into the home of a woman in an ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood of Jerusalem along with six accomplices, armed with a bat and tear gas. The woman, divorced from a Haredi man, was beaten and told that she would be killed if she did not leave the area.

According to the charge sheet: “The defendant and the others shoved the complainant, dropped her to the floor, beat her, slammed her head against the floor and kicked her all over her body.”

Other complaints against Buzaglo soon came to light, including an attempt to run down a girl with a car.

Inat Horvi, of the Religious Action Centre, associated with the more liberal Reform Judaism movement, said modesty patrols have probably been a feature of Haredi life for decades.

But she said there was a growing trend of religious extremism among the ultra-Orthodox, as well as more generally in Israeli society. “Older ultra-Orthodox women report that their daughters cannot wear clothes that they themselves wore when they were their age,” she said.

She said that in most Haredi communities men and women remain strictly separate in public places, with examples of segregated shops and even pavements.

The modesty patrols have also been running a campaign against MP3 players, threatening store owners and in some cases burning down shops.

Not all communities, however, are taking the growing wave of vigilantism quietly. In Beit Shemesh, a town west of Jerusalem whose mixed population comprises less strict Orthodox Jews as well as the Haredim, 1,500 people protested against the modesty patrols late last year, demanding police and the municipality take greater action.

The demonstration followed two incidents involving the patrols. In one, five ultra-Orthodox men attacked a man and woman for sitting together on a bus, and in the other, a family was threatened because their television screen was visible from the street. Women also say they have been warned not to jog in the town.

The key battleground for the modesty patrols has been the segregation of men and women on public buses, known as mehadrin or “kosher” lines. Modesty patrols insist that women sit at the back of buses only.

The Religious Action Centre is currently petitioning the Supreme Court to force the national bus company, Egged, and the transport ministry to end their official co-operation with the practice on 30 routes. Many additional routes are informally segregated, enforced by ultra-Orthodox passengers.

“We do not, in principle, dispute the right of the Haredim to demand segregated buses inside their own communities,” Ms Horvi said. “But our petition is designed to stop Egged and the transport ministry from using public funds to enforce segregation on services open to the general public.”

Ministry officials have washed their hands of the issue, saying the mehadrin lines are the outcome of agreements between Egged and the Haredim. However, the court has ordered a response to the petition from both Egged and the transport ministry by the end of this month.

Ms Horvi said a growing number of bus routes between major towns have become segregated in the past few years following demands from ultra-Orthodox passengers, although none is marked as segregated.

“Egged has caved in because it knows that the Haredim feel strongly enough that they will stop using the services and set up their own unlicensed bus lines. It also knows that in most cases the non-Haredi public has no choice but to carry on using the lines, even when they are segregated.”

A dozen women who have suffered threats or beatings are party to the petition. One, Naomi Ragen, a 58-year-old writer, has termed the segregated routes “Taliban lines”.

Hanna Pasternak, 58, an Orthodox Jew and feminist, said she has suffered a series of humiliating confrontations with ultra-Orthodox men when she has chosen to sit at the front of the bus.

“In one incident, a man demanded I sit at the back, but I refused,” she said. “The journey lasted an hour, and he didn’t stop shouting at me for one minute. He called me various bad names.”

Later he turned to other men and talked to them in Yiddish, a language spoken by older central European Jews. “He didn’t realise that I understood everything he said. I heard him telling the men that they should find out where I lived and teach me a lesson. I left the bus terrified.”

Not all rabbis agree with the new emphasis on modesty.

Israel Rosen, a leading settler rabbi, decried the Haredi tradition of omitting women’s names from newspapers and invitations. “Is there no psychological connection between the hypocrisy of concealing the name and hiding the face under the ‘Taliban-style’ veil?”