Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Nightmare in Ramallah
It is not unusual to see Israeli soldiers outside my office window. Since they have re-occupied the Palestinian Territories in 2001, the Israeli army can attack anytime and any place.
Sometimes, however, we long for peace and for democracy especially as we start this holy and glorious Lenten season walking the footstpes of Christ, we hoped for a better futrue in this sacred land where Christ was resurrected. It was Ash Wednesday for the Latin Church. Fr. Ibrahim mentioned that less than ten people showed up for Mass because they were scared to death to leave their homes.
It was the feast of St. Meletios for the Orthodox church. Fr. Meletios spent his name day right outside the church yard following the Divine Liturgy because the army invaded the Convent and declared it a military zone. I kept calling Fr. Meletios checking on him and hours after hours I was completely shocked he was still outside.
The soldiers raided my husband's building from 6 pm until midnight according to Issa who had stayed in one of the apartments with his three children thinking it would be safer than trying to go back to the village of Taybeh. The children were scared to death and it was an awful experience listening to shooting, gas bombs and sound bombs all night. The main heavy duty multi-lock door was bombed open and the pressure or the power of the explosion shattered all of the windows of four floors leaving thousand of glass pieces scattered from the top to the basement including damage to the elevator doors.
The next day I picked up bullets off of my son's bed since we also have an emergency apartment adjacent to the office to use fo rmiltary closures. I kept thinking how grateful I am that Constantine was not in his bed. I thanked God and parayed all day. The floor of the apartment had fifty bullet holes. First, I thought it was about 30 then out of curiosity I counted every one of them. As I was cleaning up the cement pieces and rubble off the floor, I was trying to imagine what were the soldiers most offended by that caused them to do all of this shooting. I can't imagine they did not like the beautiful ikon of the ever blessed Theotokos that I have on the wall or the picture of my daughter smiling. I figured it must have been the World Council of Churches slogan: "End the Occupation."
I am so lucky that I have a great view of Ramallah on the third floor of my husband's building thus the soldiers selected to ransack my office while they were shooting at young men on the main street. The only problem is they also caused great damage to the Episcopal Church and compound standing right next to the building. Furthermore, they invaded the Medical Relief Offices across the street and evacuated the medical workers at gunpoint affecting their ability to carry out their vital humanitarian roles. It is such a problem when soldiers need houses or offices as observation stations causing the occupants at times to be locked up in bathrooms or outside for over eight hours.
The reason the army invaded Ramallah was to protect the Israeli bank experts that wanted to enter three Arab banks and download programs and bank account information. The bank employees were ordered at gunpoint to stop working but not turn off their computers. Over seven million dollars was reported missing from the banks following the invasion.
In the last four years I have witnessed how American tax dollars are used to completely destroy the Palestinian people, culture, education, economy and land itself and how Israeli military policies create suicide bombers. I have tried to bring awareness that military aid to Israel is not just being used for "security" as Israel continues to innocently claim. I do feel like I am a voice in the wilderness but when pure destruction takes place all around me, I am going to keep making noise about it.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Mundane Details from Home Visit
Yesterday morning I picked apricots and took them to my godmother and her brother. Today they brought me some preserves that they'd made with the apricots. I made a couple pies today with the overripe apricots in the refrigerator. For breakfast this morning I picked about ten. I always eat at least one or two when I pick them just to ascertain that they are perfect. Whenever I eat fruit from my late father's trees, I think about him and how he planted those trees forty-three years ago.
The right to return home is an inalienable right that no government may legislate away. The right to return home is intrinsically bound with our very being. Each reader needs to return home, wherever it is, and then imagine what it would be like to be denied the right to go home.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
My 'Right' to Return Home
I can not imagine not being able to return to my parents' house in Central California. I take it for granted. Palestinians, however, are admonished that it it "extremist" of them to expect to return to the place where they were born, the place where they were married, the place where they gave birth, the place where they tilled the soil, the place where they planted trees, the place where they hung pictures, the place where they fell in love, the place where their parents' died, the place where they buried children, the place where they have their roots.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Mahmoud El-Madani: A Tale of Horror From the Middle Ages
Birth date: 4 April 1976
Martyrdom date: 19 February 2001
Below is an episode of the story of Mahmoud El-Madani. The episode is told by Mahmoud himself before his martyrdom. The words are his in description of what seems a tale of horror from the Middle Ages. But the account is true of the nature of the occupation and suffering of Palestinians. After reading Mahmoud’s account, one question rises, “what would any honorable human being do after going through what Mahmoud went through?” read more
Gaza - Reflecting the Israeli hatred against everything Palestinian, including sand, and their unlimited greed to steal what they don’t own, the Israeli occupation companies with full backing from their racist government have been stealing and transporting for a long time thousands of cubic meters of the Quartz-rich Gaza Strip yellow sand used in glass manufacturing into the green line that will definitely lead to an environmental disaster in the Strip.
"Information available to the PA environment ministry indicate that those companies were stealing nearly 600 dump truck-full of the yellow sand and they actually started this malicious work since they occupied the Strip in 1967", Yousef Abu Safiah, PA environment minister said.
"However, the occupation intensified and expedited this process in an unprecedented manner after declaring its pullout plan from the Strip", he added, pointing out that 15 million cubic meters of this sand were stolen since the Aqsa intifada, almost five years ago.
' As long as they are occupiers, the resistance will go on.'
Want to Know What Father Ata Allah Hana Says About ROR?
Statement for the Palestinian Return Center's Vienna Conference
Father Ata Allah Hana added: “I do not believe that there is a single Palestinian or a single Arab who is willing to accept giving up Al-Quds, the right of return or any other of the legitimate rights of our people”. He said: “No… and a thousand times… No! to the peace projects of surrender that they want to impose on us, without us receiving anything in return”.
Archbishop Hana urged the Palestinians in Europe at their annual conference to redouble their efforts. He said: “you have a vital role in supporting our people’s determination. You have proven in the lands in which you live that you are ambassadors for Palestine and our people’s just cause. We press you to continue your nationalist activities, highlighting the justice of our cause on the international stage, that our voice is heard in every place; words that the Occupation and its associates seek to suppress; you are a natural and important part of our people and nation”. read more
Want to know where Palestinians Stand on ROR?
3. The conferees reaffirm their adherence to the right of return to their homes and lands from which they were expelled in 1948. This is an established right in human rights conventions. It cannot be compromised, surrendered, bargained or voted upon in referenda. It is an indivisible right that cannot be reinterpreted. The conferees strongly reject attempts to circumvent the right of return or infringe upon it in any form. They salute the steadfastness of the Palestinian people in Europe who have preserved their Palestinian identity and remain persistent in their demands for repatriation to their homes and usurped lands. This they share with their compatriots in exile and in Palestine. The conferees also salute the united stand of the Palestinian people in adhering to their right of return as well as their right to regain their lands, villages and freedom.
4. The conferees reject all declarations, initiatives and campaigns aimed at undermining the right of return. They call upon the Palestinian leadership to hold fast to this right and not to compromise it.
5. The conferees call upon Palestinian institutions and agencies working for the right of return and the Palestinian cause generally to coordinate their efforts and unify their plans to confront the challenges and dangers that threaten the right of return today. Read more
Ingenious Bil'in Confronts Enemy With Non-Violence
As the evening of June 9, 2005 approached, the people of Bil’in, as well as foreign and Israeli supporters, prepared for a confrontation planned for after Friday prayers: handcuffs for demonstrators, to undermine allegations by soldiers that they face violence in this peaceful village, and balloons filled with animal dung to be hurled at soldiers attacking the peaceful demonstration.
As they arrived at the area being excavated in preparation for the separation wall, they were met by a barrage of tear gas canisters. Six were injured, including Ziad Halaby, an Al Arabiya Satellite television station reporter, who suffered a leg injury. Read more
23 June 2005
"It has to be something cooked up by the Shin Bet security
services." That was the reaction of several people when the Israeli
media reported on a young woman from the Jabaliya refugee camp who
was seized on Monday at the Erez checkpoint carrying 10 kilograms of
explosives on her body, which she had intended to detonate in a
And indeed, the clearly immoral intention of murdering the sick, the
cynical exploitation of an exit permit granted for medical purposes,
the stupidity of transferring explosives at a checkpoint where even
a needle sets off an alarm, a switch that didn't work - all these
make one think of a staged incident intended to denigrate or
embarrass the Palestinians. A staging that succeeds in concealing
the information, which in any case is minimized, about the routine
Israeli oppression: for example, the killing of a young boy who was
engaged in trapping birds, or the arrest of activists in the village
of Balin because they are leading a popular, unarmed struggle
against the Israeli policy that is designed to steal more
Without belittling the talents of the Shin Bet in enlisting agents
provocateurs, blaming them for the incident is an attempt to
suppress the severity of the act - an attempt that was reflected in
the press coverage. In the three daily newspapers, the item was
published on the first page, but in two of them, it received only a
subhead. The newspapers did not send reporters to the young woman's
home and did not attempt to obtain any details beyond what was
reported by the news agencies and the Israel Defense Forces
spokesman. One newspaper mentioned that the Palestinian health
minister had not confirmed that the young woman had an Israeli
permit obtained in coordination with it. Nor did the electronic
media deal with the story much, to the point that a resident of Tel
al-Zatar - the neighborhood of the would-be suicide bomber - had not
even heard about the incident, although he is a former political
activist and an avid media consumer.
>From conversations with journalists and human rights activists in
Gaza, it turns out that on "the street," those who did hear were
horrified: The intention of harming sick people crossed a clear red
line, people said. But the general tendency is to see it as another
private initiative of a splinter group of armed men, and another
case of a young woman in personal and social distress.
At first her dispatchers were said to be a unit of the
Fatah-identified Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades named after the shaheed
Aimen Juda. They said someone went to the microphones and "adopted"
the act in their name. But two days ago, one of their spokesmen held
a press conference in Gaza and denied any connection. At the same
time, a journalist in Jabaliya said the unit named after the shaheed
Nabil Masoud that also belongs to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and
whose leader is a resident of Tel al-Zatar - had confirmed it sent
the potential suicide bomber.
However, the popular, instinctive disgust at the immoral intention
has not found expression in the past two days in open public
discussion, an initiative that could have been expected from
political leaders and activists in non-governmental organizations,
who are quick to react to harm done by Israel, and rightly so. If
such a discussion took place anywhere, for example in the human
rights organizations - it was not reflected in a public stand or in
independently gathered information. This in spite of the fact that
it is clear that from now on there will be another Israeli
justification for undermining the right of Palestinian patients to
leave for treatments in Israel.
As far as is known, Fatah spokesmen did not rush to condemn the act
publicly either, or to distinguish between opposition to the
occupation and planning an act of murder. One Gazan journalist, who
was asked why Palestinian journalists did not go out to gather more
information, said the reason is fear. In the existing security
chaos, he said, there is no guarantee that no harm will come to a
journalist who exposes the anti-patriotism of a certain group of
armed men, or to a Palestinian organization that publishes a direct
condemnation of some immoral and stupid plan of action.
And perhaps it is the reluctance to confront openly a well-known
phenomenon, of women whose value in the "marriage market" and in
society declines because of a physical defect, and therefore it is
easy to incite them to become part of a pathetic performance such as
that carried out by that same young woman in front of Israeli
reporters. And perhaps a more vigorous investigation of the
dispatchers of the young woman would reveal that "the resistance"
has more than once turned into a (pathetic and temporary) source of
income, and it's not pleasant to talk about that in public either.
A veteran Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) prisoner, who was
jailed before the Oslo period, said this week that he and his
friends were shocked to hear from the new inmates who have joined
them in the past four to five years, that dispatchers and those
dispatched to armed actions during these years acted on the basis of
a monetary reward or the promise of one - regardless of their
And perhaps this is automatic sanctification of the willingness to
die? The moment the young woman was caught planning to die "for the
homeland," as she declared, nobody asks publicly how her death will
help or harm the homeland. They look at her burned hands, and are
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Published June 22, 2005 Volume 12 Number 1
This week Palestine Report interview Ayed Abu Eqtaish, researcher for the Defense for Children International-Palestine Section, on the phenomena of Palestinian child collaborators that was the subject of a recent DCI-PS workshop report
PR: How wide is the scope of the problem of children being pressured into collaboration with Israel today?
Abu Eqtaish: We don’t have a clear idea of the scope of the problem today, as we get our information from our case studies of children and our case work with them, rather than through comprehensive research of this problem. But most children are recruited through interrogation [while imprisoned], during which they are exposed to pressure. Sometimes the interrogators are successful in recruiting children through pressure but most of the time they fail.
PR: How do kids become pressured into collaboration?
Abu Eqtaish: Recruiters make use of the needs of Palestinian people [such as travel and work permits, or to prevent harm to their family and friends] in order to put pressure on them to work with Israel. The interrogators use blackmail and [psychological] pressure to try to make the kids feel totally alone in the world, that not even his family cares about him, and as though their fate depends on the decision of the interrogator. They demonstrate this by denying family visits, reinforcing the child’s impression that he is alone. In this atmosphere the interrogator can make the child cooperate with him, through psychological and physical abuse. They also deny the children access to a lawyer, and use various justifications as to why the child can’t be visited by lawyers. For example, they ask the lawyer to wait, and while the lawyer is waiting the child is interrogated. Often the lawyer will leave because he doesn’t know when the interrogation will end. In other cases, the Shabak security forces will deny visitation for a short period to delay the lawyer from initiating court proceedings to get a permit to visit the child.
PR: What can the Palestinian Authority do to protect these children, and how should it handle children suspected of collaboration?
Abu Eqtaish: As to what should be done internally about this issue, I can’t make specific recommendations. However, while these children are imprisoned, the PA can do nothing. After they finish their sentence, the PA should deal with them as victims, not as offenders. Children who are alleged to be collaborators with Israel are victims and should be dealt with on this basis.
PR: Are there any social-economic and psychological patterns of child collaborators?
Abu Eqtaish: We haven’t done comprehensive research on this issue to say either way. In general, the Israeli security forces are trying to recruit any Palestinian, depending on their needs. We don’t know exactly where they succeed and where they don’t in terms of recruitment. We didn’t investigate this issue.
PR: What can be done at the community and international levels to protect these children?
At the community level, they can start to raise awareness amongst families to protect their children [from becoming easy recruits]. It is also important to initiate good practices with children who are alleged collaborators and rehabilitate them, and to not treat them as traitors. This attitude of rehabilitation is what should be employed when dealing with them. This is the main issue at the community level. However, the most important factor [regarding the phenomena of child collaborators] is the Israeli forces who are pressuring children, and this can’t really be dealt with on the community level. At the international level, the use of children in this way is regarded as a war crime, and the international community should intervene and pressure Israel to stop this policy.-Published June 22, 2005©Palestine Report
"Propagandists on behalf of Israel have held a corner on public discourse about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict for the nearly six decades of Israel’s existence, but these purveyors of the Israeli line have become increasingly deceptive and malign -- and increasingly effective – with time. The propaganda machine serving Israel disseminates a steady stream of talking points and argumentation that today effectively controls all public discourse, so that in media arenas large and small throughout the country there are always grassroots propagandists available to put out a uniformly favorable twist on Israel’s actions and always to paint the Palestinians in black colors."
Gaza - Over 90% of the Palestinian refugees living in the Gaza Strip dismissed giving up the right of return to their hometowns and villages, located in the 1948 occupied Palestine, in return for financial compensations as high treason, a study, prepared by the pro-refugees PA board, disclosed.
"The only solution that would totally satisfy the refugees and financially and morally compensate them for their loss and suffering is securing the right of return to their lands from which they were driven away by the Zionist gangs at gunpoint," the study said.
It indicated that some 96.6% of those exiles were still confident that they would return to their ancestral lands sooner or later.
"The refugees' cause is a political question rather than a humanitarian one. Therefore, its part and parcel of the Palestinian national question," it stated.
The number of the Palestinian refugees residing in the Strip reached 938,531 in the year 2004, according to the study.
"When my dad came out of jail, the Palestinian Authority didn't help him with anything," he said. "Officials live in luxury and we, the ones who gave so much to Palestine, have gotten nothing.
"I reached a point where I'm willing to kill so I can take back my rights, my father's rights, and the rights of all those like us," he said.
6/20/2005 12:05:00 PM
To: National Desk
Contact: Jim Colbert of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, 202-667-3900
WASHINGTON, June 20 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The ongoing effort by John Bolton's Senate detractors to hold up his confirmation as UN ambassador is especially offensive to the Jewish community, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs declared today.
"It was Bolton's determined leadership and diplomatic mastery that, in 1991, caused the United Nations to finally revoke one of its most outrageous resolutions - equating Zionism with racism," said JINSA executive director Tom Neumann. "It was a truly Herculean task, but Bolton succeeded where many predecessors had failed because he made the effort and took the time to engage the UN members one by one.
"The Jewish community will always be grateful," Neumann noted. "We should remind our elected representatives of that."
Neumann described the Senate delay as "a blatantly orchestrated effort to destroy a dedicated, highly qualified public servant. Bolton's career is an open book, his achievements a matter of record. His style is a mix of diplomacy and resoluteness, with a strong moral sense of right and wrong. There is no valid reason that he should not have been confirmed weeks ago.
"John Bolton at the UN would continue the proud, standup tradition established by our two foremost past UN ambassadors, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Jeane Kirkpatrick. The latter has warmly endorsed Bolton for the post, as have former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, Senator John McCain, and many others who clearly understand the need for UN reform."
The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs is an independent, non-partisan educational organization established in 1976 to educate the public on national and international security issues, including the importance of an effective U.S. defense capability and the key role of strategic allies to promote democratic values in the Middle East.
Hasan Abu Nimah
For some time the Palestinians have been divided on how to pursue their cause. Their choice, it seems, is between winning the support and favour of the international community and actually pursuing their rights, but not both.
The problem is that developments in the region, in addition to intensive misleading propaganda, have created a polarisation, an “either or” situation. Neither is their choice simply between violence and non-violence. It seems the Palestinian choice is actually between keeping entirely quiet about their rights and being rewarded with a certificate of good conduct from the international community, or struggling for their stolen rights (not necessarily by resorting to violence though) and being labelled outlaws, enemies of peace and terrorists.
I was stunned once while watching a debate on an American TV channel. When the programme moderator referred to the Arab participant as a “known moderate”, the other participant, an American supporter of Israel became furious, protesting that description. He asked how someone who constantly advocates the right of return of Palestinian refugees — which in his view meant the destruction of the state of Israel — could be described as a moderate, and not a straightforward terrorist. So the meaning of terrorism has been stretched so wide so that it is no more the action, but the intent and the attitude; not the intent to do anything wrong, but merely to demand justice and restoration of legitimate rights according to the law.
Until recently, only committing an actual crime would have subjected the perpetrator to pursuit and sanction. Nowadays, merely demanding the restoration of lost rights — if the violator of those rights is Israel — is enough for one to be accused of “incitement”, and so talking about rights is extremely risky. Instead, one should talk only about “reform” and “democracy” and only blame oneself for the absence of democracy, never the occupier who has destroyed, oppressed and plundered for decades.
Making a financial contribution to an organisation or an individual in normal conditions would be positive and humanitarian. Nowadays, any such contribution, particularly if made to an Arab or a Muslim recipient, could pose a grave risk to the donor, should any suspicion be ever raised as to the relationship of that recipient to the loose description of “terrorism”. Of course, this does not apply to several organisations openly raising money in the United States to support the Israeli army, which daily commits war crimes, or for the racist settlers who admire and celebrate the murderer Baruch Goldstein even as they commit new crimes against innocent Palestinians.
The current Palestinian leadership, particularly the chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has made it very clear that its strategy is to avoid all forms of violence against the occupiers. This strategy is accepted and strongly supported by the international community at large and by the majority, if not all, of the Arab states, and, most importantly, by Washington.
The view of the proponents of such a strategy is that by resorting to violence, the Palestinians offered Israel the excuse to retaliate with brutal force against the poorly equipped Palestinian resistance and more often against innocent civilians. In other words, Palestinians are responsible not only for their own acts, but also for Israel's. Israel remains absolved of any practical responsibility and is never held accountable, even if occasionally it receives mild criticism from the hordes of diplomats and leaders who continue to flock to be photographed with the smiling Ariel Sharon in occupied Jerusalem.
Opposition to all violence sounds progressive and peace loving, but when not accompanied by action to redress the imbalance in power in other ways, it effectively translates into offering support for the status quo and for the stronger side. In any minimally fair situation, Israel would be under sanctions for all its violations of international law.
Those that favour continued resistance offer a counter-argument that deserves careful examination. In their view, despite the overwhelming public opinion and the mass of legal decisions supporting Palestinian rights, the international community has never done anything to help the Palestinians regain their rights, and is simply giving useless lectures as Israel continues to kill, destroy and colonise. Supporters of armed resistance also argue that while violence should never be sought as an end by itself, or as a first resort to conflict resolution when other options are available, the use of violence has not been outlawed by the international community, and has been the only effective means to reduce the imbalance of power between Israel and the Palestinians.
In fact, international law and the UN Charter specifically call for violence in certain cases when there is a threat to international peace and security. In 1990-91, the UN approved the use of force to end Iraq's occupation of Kuwait. Nowadays, the US and the UK do not bother with formalities like UN authorisation. They explicitly endorse, but only for themselves, of course, the right to use violence against anyone they choose, at any time, anywhere in the world, and they alone decide when this is justified. They do not even bother to count the innocent victims that they kill in the process. They argue that the sacrifice of innocent lives is a tragic necessity for the greater good.
Notwithstanding such egregious violations, force still exists as a legal option, and this includes the right to resist foreign military occupation. But the Palestinians are the exception. The PLO had to renounce violence in abstract and absolute terms before Washington agreed to talk to its leaders in the late 1980s. It had to do so again as a precondition for entering into the secret talks that led to the Oslo accords. And Chairman Yasser Arafat had to do that over and over again to avoid being relabelled a “terrorist”.
Realistically, rightly or wrongly, the international mood has little tolerance for any use of force by the Palestinians, no matter how slim the opportunities for advancing the political process may be or how violent Israel is. The overwhelming trend (recently expressed by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw during his visit to the region) is that it is far from adequate for the Palestinians only to observe a truce and protect the occupiers from the justified wrath of the victims; they should also disarm unconditionally and unilaterally. The Palestinian leadership accepts that.
The danger is in putting the Palestinians before an uneven choice: abandon violence, not to achieve a fair resolution but only to avoid lectures from the international community, or fight for their rights and be seen as pariahs.
There is a middle course, but it requires a different strategy. The Palestinians, while affirming their commitment to non-violence, should abstain from any negotiations as long as Israel continues to create new facts on the ground with the declared purpose of taking all the land. The Palestinians would, and should, rally around a leadership that renounces violence but at the same time renounces the futile and fraudulent “peace process” whose only concrete achievement is that it has given Israel limitless time to complete its colonisation plans. The Palestinian leadership should renounce the gimmicks of the roadmap and other tranquillisers, and insist that all international efforts be focused on ending Israel's violations and returning all its soldiers and settlers behind the line of June 4, 1967, forthwith as the first step to a full and fair peace.
If Israel doesn't want to do this, the Palestinian leadership should declare the end of all efforts to create a two-state solution. But such a strategy requires a Palestinian leadership prepared to demand and fight for its people's rights, and that unfortunately is nowhere in sight.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
By Sara Khorshid
LONDON - Activists, intellectuals, and interested lay people from all over the world reiterated the legacy of the Palestinians’ right of return in a conference hosted by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.
Entitled “Towards a New Liberation Theology: Reflections on Palestine” and organized by the UK-based Islamic Human Rights Commission, the conference – which kicked off Sunday, June 12 -- included speakers from both faith and non-faith backgrounds.
Neturei Karta spokesperson Rabbi Yisroel Weiss, Reverend Stephen Sizer, Father Joe McVeigh, Dr. Ilan Pappe from Haifa University, Imam Muhammed Al-Asi from Washington, and Rima Fakhry from Hizbollah’s political council were among the speakers. Also Archmadrite Attallah Hanna and Israeli lawyer Leah Tsemel sent messages to the conference attendees over the phone from Occupied Jerusalem.
Zionism Not Jewish
Remarkable was the presence of a number of Neturei Karta members in their long black coats, black hats, and ringlets. Neturei Karta is a group of orthodox Jews fiercely critical of Zionism and the state of Israel.
Zionists are “heretics” who “transform[ed] the concept of Judaism into a nationality, something that is void of godliness,” said Rabbi Yisroel Weiss in his speech, which was widely hailed by the conference attendees.
“The land is forbidden to us… it belongs to the people of Palestine. It belongs to the indigenous people, the Arab people,” he asserted.
Both Rabbi Weiss and UK-based Rabbi Ahron Cohen, who also spoke at the conference, asserted that Zionism’s principles are not Jewish. “The whole concept of taking over a land is strange to the Jewish belief,” Weiss said.
He added that Neturei Karta campaigns for the Palestinians’ right to return to their homeland, and he criticized the Zionist claim to a "right to return to Palestine".
“[How come] Jews not born in the land have the right to return while Palestinians who were born there and have the keys to their homes [in Palestine] don’t have the right to return?” Weiss asked.
Commenting on the Zionists’ anti-Semitism accusations directed at the group from their critics, Weiss said that they (critics) “count on the Jewish people’s ignorance, on the non-Jewish people’s ignorance” in order to achieve their goals and implement their political agenda. “Don’t fear the allegations of anti-Semitism. Don’t try to confuse the subject with religions. It has nothing to do with religions.”
On the other hand, another Jewish speaker delivered a speech but from a rather secularist perspective. Professor Ilan Pappe from Haifa University in Israel criticized his country’s denial of the Palestinians’ right of return.
"The right to return is an admission by Israel of expelling Palestinians from their homeland,” he said, explaining Israel’s position. “They need to continue as a state ... with a denial of what Israel has done in 1948," which he labelled “ethnic cleansing."
Pappe stated that Israel should not only acknowledge the fact that they have expelled Palestinians but should also take responsibility for what they did and grant Palestinians their right to return.
He added that Israel aims at securing “ethnic supremacy” by maintaining a “solid Jewish majority in Palestine.”
Pappe’s presence in the conference resulted, however, in the absence of two Palestinian speakers. As university professors in Palestinian universities, they apologized for their absence and explained that they hold on to the Palestinian academics’ position of boycotting Israeli universities.
Last month, the third Convention for Palestinians in Europe has strongly defended the inalienable right of millions of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland.
The final statement of the Convention held in Austria, a copy of which was sent to IOL May 8, urged all Palestinian organizations championing the right of return to act in unison to make the dream of millions of Palestinians come true.
Form of Resistance
The conference’s speakers, meanwhile, disagreed over the form of resistance the Palestinians should adopt in their quest for liberation.
Whereas Imam Muhammad Al-Asi, elected Imam of the Islamic Center in Washington, noted that peace negotiations have failed so far in leading to the liberation of Palestine, and that justice is a condition for peace, Father Joe McVeigh from Ireland, who was been active in his opposition to British involvement in Irish affairs, and Reverend Stephen Sizer, author of a book on Christian Zionism, stressed the importance of peaceful means of resistance to occupation.
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Nablus - The latest cooperation agreements between the Quds University and the Hebrew University signed by Dr. Sri Nasiebah, in London sparked off public debate across Palestinian society, especially the academic sector regardless of their ideologies. The event brought the issue of normalization to the forefront after four and a half years of the Aqsa intifada.
What is disturbing in this event is the fact that the new normalization campaign was initiated by a Palestinian University rector, a matter that sparked off fears in the Palestinian street as to the future role of Palestinian Universities that traditionally spearheaded the defense of Palestinian rights in the face of occupation schemes.
The step generated angry reactions in the Palestinian street ranging from calls for boycotting the university and the sacking of Nasiebah to calls for rational and studied punishment that coincides with the national interests. The PA, for its part remained tight-lipped on the issue.
The timing that Nasiebah chose for establishing academic relations with the Zionist Universities represented by the Hebrew University was most odd as it coincided with a decision by Britain’s Association of University Teachers (AUT) to boycott Haifa and Bar Ilan universities, the first for sacking a lecturer who opposed occupation and the second for opening a college at a Jewish settlement in the West Bank.
Nasiebah, a normalization advocate
Nasiebah is viewed by the Palestinian people as one of the most controversial figures in the Palestinian arena. He is known for being an advocate of normalization and good relations with the occupiers, even during the most bloody Israeli military campaigns against the innocent Palestinian people.
He is often criticized by Islamic and nationalist figures, alike, due to his controversial stands and was accused of abandoning the Palestinian rights, including the right of return of Palestinian refugees being a signatory of the infamous Geneva document that cedes the right of return of 1948 Palestinian refugees.
On a number of occasions students denied him entry to the Quds University campus due to his political stands. He was belted with eggs and tomatoes by students when he visited al-Najah University in Nablus for the same reasons.
His name came to the forefront again during the commemoration of the 57th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba or catastrophe of 1948, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinian innocent civilians, including children, women, and elderly people, were either massacred or driven out of their homes by Israeli terrorist gangs at gunpoint. Palestinian activists and Islamic and nationalist forces warned against suspicious voices, including Nasiebah's, calling for abandoning the right of return and resorting instead to what they call “practical solutions to the issue of refugees”.
What makes Nasiebah’s latest act worse, is that on previous occasions he put his name to various initiatives, but this time he is trying to embroil a Palestinian national institution (the Quds University) in his adventures.
Slap on the face of national anti-normalization consensus
The council representing Syndicates of Palestinian University Teachers and Employees condemned Nasiebah’s step considering it as a slap on the face of the anti-normalization national consensus and the higher education council.
In a press statement, the council said that the stand of the Quds University rector flagrantly ignores in an undemocratic and irresponsible way the anti-normalization stand of the Quds University employees.
The Council urged the PA chief, Mahmoud Abbas, ministry of higher education, council of higher education, and the Quds University Board of Trustees to take the necessary steps to stop this trend that contradicts the Palestinian national constants, including relieving Nasiebah of his post.
"This suspicious attempt to normalize relations with Israel on the academic level comes at a time when Israeli government, headed by the butcher Sharon, ignores the international community and UN resolutions, intensifying the aggression against our people, disregarding the present calming down observed by the Palestinian side to promote peace, and usurping more Palestinian lands and proceeding with the construction of the racist separation wall that cuts the Palestinian land into Cantons", the council affirmed, urging all Palestinian institutions to unmask those steps and present, clearly, their stands on them.
Furthermore, the council denounced the act of Nasiebah of involving the University’s name into his adventures in a way that contradicts the general trend of the University students and workers as something unacceptable and doesn't coincide with the general interest of the institution.
Palestinian academic institutions and political forces joined their voices to those of the University academics and issued a statement denouncing the act of Nasiebah and accused him of deviating from national consensus and said that he isn't representing the great Palestinian people, according to the statement's words.
University students went on strike protesting Nasiebah's signing of the agreement with the Hebrew University and called for his immediate dismissal.
For its part, The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, warned of such treasonous acts of normalizing relations with Zionist Universities participating in the Israeli government's aggression against our innocent Palestinian civilians and students.
The Movement issued a statement saying "At the time when British academics and Arab educational institutions take honorable and valuable steps of boycotting this university and other Israeli universities, we are shocked by Palestinian institutions adopting a strange line and running after establishing and normalizing relations with those Zionist Universities, which constitutes a painful stab in the back of the Palestinian efforts to end occupation ".
"The Hebrew University that was established over our usurped beloved lands was still grabbing more Palestinian lands with full support of the Israeli occupation authorities and its occupation forces reflecting the ugly face of occupation through its curriculum and academic activities which deny the Palestinian people their right to independence", it added.
The Movement praised the nationalist steps taken by the Palestinian academics and educational institutions that expressed their rejection of establishing any kind of relation with the Zionist entity or any of its institutions in contrast with the crime Nasiebah committed against the Palestinian people. It urged the Palestinian ministry of higher education to take all the necessary steps to halt and cancel any coordination attempt with the Israeli institutions, especially the academic ones.
Aqsa Martyrs Brigades urges PA to sack Nasiebah
One of the strongest reactions to Nasiebah's act came from the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (AMB), armed wing of Fatah Movement, that accused him of collaboration with the Israeli occupation and urged the Palestinian Authority (PA) to immediately relieve him of his post similar to what other Palestinian Islamic and Nationalist forces and syndicates demanded .
"He fatally stabbed the Palestinian issue when he helped break the British boycott of Israeli Universities by his untimely malicious act", AMB's statement said.
The Israeli lobby in Britain pressured the British academics to retract their decision; however, Nasiebah's act gave them a strong excuse expediting their retraction, especially, when he described the boycott decision as "a wrong decision".
© Copyright 2003 by palestine-info.co.uk email: email@example.com
Justice demands that Um El-Abed may return to the home from which she was expelled because she's not the right religion.
Why the bombings?
Israel's racist oppression is the main reason behind increasing in suicide attacks during the second year of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, writes Khaled Amayreh
The continuation of Palestinian "suicide bombings" or "martyrdom operations" have set the tone for the second anniversary of the Al-Aqsa Intifida.
Yet, despite the constant recurrence of these bombings, our knowledge of this, largely enigmatic, phenomenon remains rudimentary and superficial at best.
Questions as to what makes young men and women in the prime of their life blow themselves up aboard buses packed with soldiers and civilians, and what actually goes on in their minds as they push the button, remain largely unanswered.
But when answers are found, they hardly ever find their way to television screens and the front pages of newspapers, especially in the US and other Western countries where the Jewish stranglehold on the media is conspicuous.
Since the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation two years ago, as many as 100 martyrdom operations have occurred. As a result, more than 236 Israeli soldiers, settlers and civilians have been killed, along with the 108 Palestinian bombers who carried out the bombings.
The latest bombing took place on 19 September, when a young Palestinian, whose identity has not yet been revealed, blew himself up aboard an Israeli passenger bus, killing himself and five other Israelis, including a newly arriving settler who had come all the way from Scotland to live on occupied Arab land in the West Bank.
Prior to that bombing, seven weeks had passed during which not a single bombing took place. Yet, within the same period, the Israeli army gave itself a free rein to kill and maim Palestinian civilians.
More than 45 Palestinians, including an entire family in Gaza and seven children in the West Bank, were wiped out by Israeli artillery shells. In some cases, as in Hebron, Israeli soldiers carried out extra-judicial executions of four quarry workers, because, as the Israeli army spokesman put it, they "looked suspicious".
Israel, its supporters and apologists around the world, have sought, somewhat successfully, to demonise and vilify the suicide bombings and with them the entire Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice. This demonisation became especially intense and acquired a strong momentum after the 11 September terrorist attacks in the US. Gruesome televised images enabled Israeli spin-doctors to de-contextualise the bombings by distracting attention from root-causes, namely Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.
Thus, Israeli officials and propagandists told the world that Palestinians were blowing themselves up because they hated Jews so much that they were willing to kill themselves to vent their feelings. The world was also told that the suicide bombings were rooted in Islam, which glorified martyrdom and death for the sake of God. This scandalous distortion of reality eventually made its way into the speeches of some American officials who accepted Israeli propaganda at face value, lumping the Palestinian struggle for freedom together with the 11 September terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
For their part, the Palestinians argued that the suicide bombings were only a reaction to Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people.
Indeed, virtually all Palestinian leaders argued that Israel, under the leadership of Ariel Sharon, a war criminal by any standard, was only offering the Palestinians the choice between dying as non-combatants, or killing themselves as suicide bombers in the streets of Israel.
"They are going to kill us anyway," argued the father of a suicide bomber recently, adding that "we are not going to give them the joy of killing us quietly and at no cost. We will let our blood mix with their blood, our limbs with their limbs and our death with their death."
Nearly 240 Israeli soldiers, settlers and civilians were killed in Palestinian martydom operations over the past two years.
Even some Israelis are beginning to realise that Israel is somewhat responsible for the increase in suicide bombings.
Uri Avnery, a prominent Israeli thinker and columnist, has repeatedly blamed Israel for pushing the Palestinians to use their bodies as bombs. "When tanks run amok in towns, crushing cars, destroying walls, tearing up roads, shooting indiscriminately and causing panic amongst a whole population, it induces rage and creates suicide bombers," he wrote in a recent article.
"When soldiers crash through a wall into the living room of a family, terrifying them, ransacking their belongings, destroying a lifetime's hard work, and then continue into the next apartment and wreak havoc there, it induces rage and creates suicide bombers," Avnery added.
Palestinians have long argued that Israeli oppression has reached genocidal proportions, so much so that life for the vast bulk of Palestinians has become a virtual hell.
In this situation, death as a martyr becomes not only inevitable, but desirable as well, if only to escape extreme suffering and persecution.
Hence martyrdom, with its promises of a life full of heavenly rewards after death, becomes the answer, maybe the only answer.
This is not to suggest that Palestinian bombers are motivated more by promises of an eternal heavenly life than by Israel's diabolic repression.
The fact that martyrdom operations have been carried out by Marxists and followers of secular movements, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Fatah, as well as Hamas, strongly refute Israeli disinformation. In fact, suicide bombers represent a broad cross-section of Palestinian society.
However, trying to justify the bombings has not been an easy task for the Palestinians and their supporters, especially when Israeli civilians and children have been killed and injured.
Some Palestinian secular elements have argued that with the imbalance of power between Israel and the Palestinians, suicide bombings have become the only remaining weapon available to them.
Indeed, there is much merit in this analysis. Israel has 134,000 army troops, 32,000 air force soldiers, a navy comprising 7,000 navy vessels and 8,000 border police. The reserves for the army alone number 400,000. In addition, Israel has 440 combat aircraft, 3,900 main battle tanks, 130 helicopters, 9,600 artillery pieces and up to 300 nuclear bombs.
Israel has used virtually all of these weapons against Palestinian civilians.
Israeli attacks have reached such levels that the veteran British Jewish MP, Gerald Kaufman, accused Sharon of making the Star of David look like the Nazi Swastika.
And, as the American journalist Charles Reese argued earlier this year, since the Palestinians have no army, no air force, no aircraft, no tanks, no helicopters and no nukes, one has to wonder how these defenceless civilians can threaten Israel's existence.
However, suicide bombings have cost the Palestinians dearly, while it is true that they have given them a deterrant and weapon, inflicting many Israeli casualties. The bombings have given Sharon an added pretext for aggresive action; reoccupying towns, destroying the economy, and, most recently, imposing open-ended collective house arrest.
Some Palestinian intellectuals have called for the cessation of suicide bombings, especially those targetting non-combatants, claiming that they harm rather than benefit the overall Palestinian national cause.
This may be true. However, it is also true that in order for suicide bombings stop, Israel will have to stop its own bombings.
Is Sharon willing to reign in his own troops? This is the crucial question.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Dear Jpost.com reader,
I regret to inform you that we have decided to terminate the blog of Palestinian psychologist Mohammed K. Mukhaimar following an urgent request by him to do so.
Jpost.com approached Mr. Mukhaimar with a proposition to provide his thoughts and experiences to our readers on a regular web log (blog), and the blog was aired for the first, and unfortunately, last time this week Thursday.
Mr. Mukhaimar's first blog entry consisted of nothing more than a greeting and a short personal biography, with a promise of more to come. The responses to Mohammed's blog were not long in coming. Within minutes of publishing his blog, Jpost.com received hundreds of emails for Mohammed, most of which were extremely positive and encouraged him to continue providing a voice "from the other side" as it were. It seemed our readers were grateful for the opportunity to interact and connect with a personage so seemingly distant in geography, language, culture and ideology. Many had questions for Mohammed, many more just wanted to say "hello" and "thank you for being there", for taking that courageous step.
Although Mohammed was pleased with the enthusiastic response to his blog, many of the replies sought Mohammed's view on the political and security situation in the region, a topic which Mohammed preferred not to confront at this point. Having intended to present a non-politicized humanitarian viewpoint, Mohammed was concerned that the blog was taking a direction that deviated from his purpose. Mohammed therefore made the decision to terminate the blog for now. "Talking politics is complex, and my goal is not to talk politics right now," Mohammed explained.
I applaud Mohammed's courage and I respect him for his belief that one person, if he or she so wishes, can take actions that bridge the vast divides of hatred and misunderstanding between our two peoples, even if he is now forced to walk back along that bridge. The bridge is there Mohammed, you built it, and we, together with our readers, will wait with proud expectation for you to walk back on it at a time of your choosing.
News Editor and Managing Editor - Internet
The Jerusalem Post
The following is the final message from Mohammed K. Mukhaimar to The Jerusalem Post, explaining why now was not the best time for him to write on Jpost.com:
I would like to explain my intention in writing here. As an initial goal I had in mind that I wanted to explain what is going on in Gaza, from a very basic humanistic and neutral level, avoiding stereotypes and negative attitudes.
I think that to support peace on the basis of justice, Israelis and Palestinians need to strengthen their civil society, so as to approach Israelis as equally qualified to contribute significantly for a common peace movement. There has to be a common notion on both parts that to a certain extent we are all victims of the occupation and of this conflict - or more accurately of the powers that maintain both the occupation and the conflict. And that we are all determined to disobey the racist powers that victimize us, in favor of bringing in more and more commonsensical human attitudes to our lives and our societies.
We were all more or less born into this conflict. We would all like to have our children brought up without having the conflict clouding their lives.
After the response I got, I wonder whether it is possible for us to communicate without being objective? Without trying to understand the other side? I agree that it is easy to put the blame on others, but where does it lead to? I should also acknowledge that our societies suffer from an ongoing militarization as a defense against the present state of mistrust, fear, and humiliation so that death becomes more precious, indeed holier, than life itself.
As for now I find myself not in the position to go on here. To succeed we need each others' help and understanding.
I have decided that it is not the right time for me to be here, reflecting something common between us- the suffering, the fear, the mistrust, and how to find ways to overcome this and go beyond our wounds and be productive.
I wish I will be able to contribute later, and let us pray together for a peaceful future.
Mohammed K. Mukhaimar
Mohammed still welcomes responses from readers; he can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, June 18, 2005
The only democracy in the Middle East, the colonist Israel, has destroyed these Gazans' homes; as if that were not heinous enough, the "light unto the nations" is now building a wall in the sea.
The colonist state which calls itself the "light unto the nations," tries out its new piercing sound device on protestors demanding that the "only democracy in the Middle East" stop stealing their land, which is illegal by international law.
Herzog's Hasbara in NYT
Herzog, concerned about a future "Hamasstan" in Gaza, ignores the violence of occupation. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states, "The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into territory it occupies." Much of the forty-two percent of military controlled Gaza serves 6,000 colonists, one half of one percent of the population, while 1.2 million Palestinians, three-quarters who were expelled from what is now Israel or their descendents live on the rest. The colonists consume 1000 cubic meters of water while Palestinians, unlike the colonists, are forbidden from digging any new agricultural wells, must make do with 172 cubic meters. http://www.pchgaza.org/facts/Fact.pdf
Below is Herzog's op-ed in the June 18 NYT. Typical Zionist hasbara for the woefully ignorant US citizen who'd be hard put to distinguish
Gaza from a gazebo.
I recently received a letter from a former high school teacher of mine in Tel Aviv. He was liberated from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp by a British Army unit in which my father served. Now, he was criticizing me for working on the government's plan to withdraw from 21 Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and 4 in the West Bank. "How dare you pull Jews out of their homes?" he wrote. "This is just like what the Nazis did to us!"
Unfortunately, I am no longer surprised when a Jew compares me and other Israeli officials to Nazis. It has become part of the rhetoric of those who oppose withdrawal, including the tiny minority who threaten violent resistance. But my old teacher was not threatening me; he was crying out as if in the middle of a nightmare. My father, Chaim Herzog, eventually became president of Israel, and he could not understand how his liberator's son could displace other Jews.
Seen from America, the evacuation of some 8,000 Jews from their homes may seem simple. I have heard it compared to moving residents to make room for a railroad or highway. But, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will see when she visits this weekend, what is happening here is a deeper psychological drama. It brings out fears that are never far from the surface; memories of the displacement and murder of innocent Jews not only during the Holocaust but also in Islamic countries after Israel's founding. And memories of wars Israel did not start, and of terrorist attacks that we fear will never stop.
Israel's cabinet will soon vote on what to do with the Jewish settlers' homes, greenhouses and factories in the Gaza Strip after we withdraw. Some members favor destroying the buildings; they do not want to see Hamas gunmen making victory signs for CNN and Al Jazeera as they walk triumphantly into houses left behind by Jews. Others, myself included, want to leave everything except synagogues and graveyards untouched, because destroying the houses will send a message of destruction rather than peace; it would also be costly and could endanger Israeli soldiers' lives.
But every member of the government understands the painful symbolism involved in displacing Jews, and also the public's concern that Gaza will turn into Hamastan, a region controlled by terrorists.
Yet despite their memories and fears, most Israelis back the plan to withdraw. They know that Israel must take risks like this to set secure national borders, to ensure the future of a Jewish democratic state. They are reassured because Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the founder of the settlement movement, thinks the withdrawal is necessary. And they are ready to give the Palestinians' prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, a chance to show he can be a partner for peace.
Another promising sign is that while the settlers' leaders are telling their followers not to cooperate with the government, every day more and more settlers are coming to my ministry to find out how we can help them find new homes and rebuild their lives.
I hope that our Palestinian neighbors understand what we are going through. They should realize that this withdrawal is not a sign of weakness (as Hamas wants them to believe) but of strength and self-confidence. Israel clearly has other ways to answer terrorism - as shown by our forceful response to the intifada - but we have no other way to end the occupation except to separate from the Palestinians.
This withdrawal should be the first step toward a broader, negotiated two-state solution. To get there, the Palestinian leaders must ensure that terrorists do not disrupt the withdrawal and do not take over the land Israel leaves behind. The Palestinians should also understand the feelings of Israelis like my high school teacher. Mr. Abbas can help now by telling his people, loudly and clearly, that Israel's withdrawal will not represent a victory for armed struggle; it will be a victory for the silent majorities on both sides who don't want their grandchildren to have the kinds of traumatic memories that haunt Israelis and Palestinians today.
Isaac Herzog is Israel's minister of construction and housing.
Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
Jailed PLC member Hussam Khader wrote PNN [Palestine News Network] a message yesterday from Israeli Hadarim Prison regarding the renewed solitary confinement of fellow political prisoner, PLC member and Fateh leader Marwan Al Barghouti.
Three days ago, upon direct request from the head of the Israeli occupation forces, Al Barghouti was returned to solitary confinement in Israeli Beir Aseeba Prison. He was originally ordered to six months solitary confinement, which turned into three years. For three months the Israeli government put him back in the general population at Hadarim Prison.
Hussam told PNN that after this happened it is clear that the Israelis are quietly preparing a large plan against all leaders in the prisons, isolating them. The idea is to make them not seem as leaders. In the case of Marwan Al Barghouti, the Israelis isolating him and sending him away means they do not want him to participate in Palestinian decision-making, the elections, in anything that shows he’s a real leader. I want to make it clear there is a plan against the leaders
Eyewitnesses said that Zabbon waited more than four hours at the roadblock between Bethlehem and Jerusalem and that the occupation forces denied her entry into Jerusalem.
Zabbon’s grandson Ibrahim said that the occupation forces were responsible for her death as she was very upset because she was denied entry into Jerusalem causing her to die.
By: Daoud Kuttab
It is an unlikely request. But Palestinians would be pleasantly surprised if US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would do it when she comes to Ramallah. Many would be surprised if the convoy of the senior US diplomat would take the same route — that going through the Qalandia checkpoint — that thousands of Palestinians going to Ramallah take. This checkpoint has become the humiliating symbol of what the continued Israeli occupation is all about.
Checkpoints between Palestinian cities (and not just between Palestine and Israel) were erected shortly after the eruption of the second Intifada. All international peace agreements, including the one accepted by all sides: the roadmap, call on Israel to remove the tens of checkpoints and return the Israeli army to the pre-October 2000 positions.
The effects of the checkpoints have been disastrous. They stifled economic relations, as goods and people are not able to move between Palestinian cities. Ironically, the only goods easily allowed into Palestinian cities are Israeli, giving them a huge advantage, at the expense of local products and services. In addition to their negative effects on the economy, the checkpoints have had a huge negative effect on people's psyche. Many Palestinians say that while they may not want to travel to other cities, the fact that they cannot make them feel claustrophobic.
Perhaps the best indication of the wide-ranging negative effects of the checkpoints can be seen by scanning the daily reports of the Israeli group Mahsom Watch. A look at the details of these reports shows that basic humiliations and restriction of movement is arbitrary. That humiliating practices often depend on the mood of a particular soldier or officer, rather than on any genuine security need.
Of real importance is to look at the variety of people of all ages, backgrounds, professions and economic status. This variety reinforces the feeling among Palestinians, as well as among legal experts, that these travel restriction between Palestinian cities is nothing less than a violation of international law. The Fourth Geneva Convention clearly defines such actions as collective punishment, prohibited by international humanitarian law.
The difficulties of transportation have forced the Palestinian telephone carrier PalTel to make all Palestinian areas one dialling zone. In an ad played on radio and television, a mother calls her two daughters in Nablus and in Gaza and talks for a long time telling them not to worry because all the calls have become local.
Six months after the elections of Mahmoud Abbas and after a long and continuous period of relative quiet from the Palestinian factions, there are no more excuses for Israel to keep these four-year-long humiliating checkpoints that restrict movement between Palestinian cities. They are clearly not security motivated but rather politically related. The continued use of an entire people as hostage should not be tolerated.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government, engulfed in internal political conflict over the withdrawal from Gaza, is hoping to trade the relaxation of these clearly not security-related restrictions for political results from a weakened Palestinian partner.
Rice's upcoming visit to Israel and Palestine is unlikely to include the many checkpoints that are checkering the Palestinian areas and choking the possibilities of peace. With the continuation of these restrictions and unnecessary checkpoints, the seeds of hate and anger that have been planted during the past four years will mature into violent reactions. Talk of a third Palestinian Intifada is getting more serious, not only among politicians but also in the sitting rooms of most Palestinians.
Daoud Kuttab is director of the Institute of Modern Media at Al Quds University in Ramallah.
Isn't he cute? This little darling is getting free medical treatment from Hamas in Gaza City. Word is that the US and Sharon will figure out a way to keep Hamas out of "democratic" elections.
Friday, June 17, 2005
Iraqi Resistance Report for events of Wednesday, 15 June 2005.
Translated and/or compiled by Muhammad Abu Nasr,
There have been persistent reports for many months that Zionist hit squads have been active in Iraq assassinating Iraqi scientists and intellectuals. The latest chapter in that continuing story appeared on Tuesday, 14 June 2005, when the Palestine Information Center posted information that it said came from a report compiled by the United States Department of State and intended for the American President.
The report stated that agents of the Zionist foreign intelligence agency, the Mossad, in cooperation with US military forces in Iraq had assassinated 350 Iraqi scientists and more than 200 university professors in scientific and other disciplines.
The Palestine Information Center quoted the report as saying that units of the Mossad and "Israeli" commandos had been operating on Iraqi territory for more than a year, the focus of their activities being the assassination of Iraqi scientists and intellectuals. The Zionists resorted to the large-scale assassination campaign, the report said, after the failure of American efforts that started immediately after the American occupation of Iraq aimed at attracting a number of Iraqi scientists to cooperate and go to work in the United States.
The report stated that although a few Iraqi scientists did go to work in US government centers, the vast majority of them later refused to cooperate with US scientists in various experiments and fled the United States for other countries.
Those Iraqis who chose to remain in their country were subjected to long sessions of interrogation and investigation by US occupation authorities. Some were subjected to torture. The Zionist Mossad, however, came to believe that allowing those scientists to remain alive could constitute a future threat to the security of the Zionist entity.
The Mossad believed that the best way to deal with Iraqi scientists was to physically eliminate them, taking advantage of the violence already present in the country.
The report said that more than seven months ago the American Defense Department expressed its agreement with the point of view of the Zionist Mossad. Along those lines it was decided to form Zionist commando detachments to assassinate Iraqi scientists. Those detachments were to be aided in their mission by US military forces. Accordingly, the American security service compiled and provided to the Zionists complete biographies on the scientists as well as ways to get to them.
This joint assassination campaign has been underway for more than seven months. Over that period of time 350 Iraqi scientists and 200 university professors have been assassinated in Iraqi streets when they were away from home. The report indicated that the families of the scientists believed that their loved ones had been killed or died in the crossfire of Resistance attacks.
The campaign to eliminate Iraqi scientists is still underway, according to the report. Systematic Zionist commando assassinations continue with the support and assistance of the Pentagon. The campaign reportedly has targeted more than 1,000 Iraqi scientists and it is said that one reason for some of the explosions in Iraqi streets that appear to be random and without clear target has been the assassination of the individuals on the US-supplied Mossad hit list.
Any child 's suffering and death is a tragedy and a crime- as is the fact that Palestinian children starve while well fed Israeli solders torment their families day and night. 57 years and counting and Israel still refuses to respect international law and the Palestinians basic human rights on multiple counts- including but not limited to full respect for the Palestinian refugees inalienable right of return as specified by U.N/ resolution 194 from 1948.
The US Government offering up the jury in a southern courtroom a gripping live docu-drama specifically geared to inspire racist reactions would be something I'd expert from the days when a very racist America felt comfortable lynching blacks- I thought those days long gone but I guess not thanks to a foreign country's intentional interference with this grand experiment we call democracy.
Anne Selden Annab
Jun 16, 2:53 PM EDT
Witness describes bus bombing in professor's terrorism trial
By MITCH STACY
Associated Press Writer
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Kesari Ruza said that at first she didn't know exactly what happened to the bus that day in 1995, but it was immediately clear that something terrible had happened to her friend, Alisa Flatow, a fellow American student who was studying in Israel.
Ruza, testifying Thursday in the federal terrorism conspiracy trial of fired university professor Sami Al-Arian, described how she, along with Flatow and another American student, boarded a bus heading for a beach resort on the Gaza Strip on April 9, 1995. Sitting next to Flatow right behind the driver, she dozed off along the way and was jolted awake by chaos.
At the Gaza settlement of Kfar Darom, a suicide bomber drove a van loaded with explosives into the bus. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the group Al-Arian is accused of supporting, later claimed responsibility.
"I remember hearing some kind of sound that woke me up," testified Ruza, now a New York City attorney. "As soon as I woke up, Alisa's head kind of fell toward me. ... Her eyes were rolled back in her head and her hands were sort of curled in."
The 20-year-old Flatow suffered a severe head injury and died the next day at a Jerusalem hospital. Seven other people also perished and 40 were injured.
The trial of Al-Arian, a former University of South Florida computer engineering professor, and three other defendants on charges that they raised money in America and supported the mission of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad took an emotional turn at the end of its second week with the testimony of Ruza and a tearful Stephen Flatow, who told of rushing to Israel to find his brain-dead daughter being kept alive by a respirator.
Jurors, some of whom have nodded off during mostly mundane testimony so far in the trial, intently listened to the witnesses and watched a 10-minute amateur video shot at the scene of the bus bombing. The images show gun-toting Israeli soldiers watching over a chaotic scene of wounded people on the ground outside the bus with blown-out windows. Flatow, wearing a long denim skirt and white T-shirt, is visible on the ground getting medical care.
"There was blood everywhere," Ruza testified in a clear, steady voice. "There was blood on us, blood on our bags."
Prosecutors are attempting to link Al-Arian and the other defendants to such attacks by the PIJ, a State Department-listed terrorist organization blamed for more than 100 deaths in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The men deny any connection to the PIJ and say they are being persecuted for their unpopular pro-Palestinian beliefs.
Outside the courthouse Thursday, Al-Arian attorney William Moffitt repeated his contention that his client had nothing to do with the bombing, directly or indirectly.
"I've always said it's not Mr. Al-Arian's fault, and nothing that happened in the courtroom today changes that," Moffitt said.
Before Ruza was called to the stand Thursday, Stephen Flatow of West Orange, N.J., testified that he was driving to synagogue when he heard the bus attack described on the car radio. He had talked to his daughter, a 1992 high school graduate who was studying at a Jewish women's seminary, on the phone the night before.
"My heart sank because I knew Alisa was in trouble," he said.
He eventually got in touch with the State Department and got a flight to Jerusalem. He found his daughter in the intensive care unit with bandages on her head and her long, dark hair shaved off. He took her hand and talked to her, thinking she might respond like on so many TV shows he had seen where people are in the hospital.
"When I let go of Alisa's hand, it just fell limp by the side of the bed," he said, his voice racked with emotion. He told how he had the respirator removed and, after calling his wife, decided to donate his daughter's organs.
Al-Arian and the his co-defendants listened to Ruza and Stephen Flatow without expression. Neither witness made eye contact with the defendants, who are named in a 53-count indictment that includes charges of racketeering, conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists. Five other men have been indicted but have not been arrested.
Prosecutors allege the men used an Islamic academic think tank, a Palestinian charity and an Islamic school founded by Al-Arian as fundraising fronts for the PIJ.
The government's case is anchored to a decade of wiretapped telephone calls and faxes beginning in late 1993 or early 1994, as well as letters, financial records, pamphlets, photos, video tapes and other evidence seized in searches.
Also Thursday, FBI agents testified about items seized during various searches of the defendants' homes and offices. Also, a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer testified that Al-Arian failed to list any connections to pro-Palestinian groups on his 1993 application for U.S. citizenship.
The trial, which is expected to last at least six months, resumes Tuesday.
Khaled and Samah Nasrallah from Rafah are joining Rachel Corrie's parents on a tour to raise money for rebuilding the houses the Zionists destroyed.
By RACHEL LA CORTE
Associated Press Writer
When 23-year-old Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer, she was protesting the impending demolition of a Palestinian home.
More than two years later, Craig and Cindy Corrie say they are trying to carry on their daughter's work.
"Rachel, when she was in Gaza, wrote to us about her own thinking in terms of making a commitment to that place," Cindy Corrie said. "She didn't want to feel guilty when she left, knowing that she could come and go as she pleased. When she was killed, those words resonated with us, and they continue to resonate with me."
In a bid to raise money to rebuild the bulldozed house and others nearby, the Corries have started a seven-state tour with Khaled and Samah Nasrallah -- one of two Palestinian families who lived in the house Rachel died protecting.
On Friday, the tour comes here. Black and white photos of the former Evergreen student with the word "Peacemaker" still hang from cafe windows downtown, and a scholarship has been created in her name at her alma mater.
An Israeli army investigation concluded that Corrie's death was accidental. Officials have said the driver of the machine could not see the woman -- a claim activists have fiercely disputed and her parents are challenging.
When their youngest child died, Craig was an actuary nearing retirement; Cindy was a flutist and vocalist.
While they considered themselves socially involved -- they had participated in a protest for the impending Iraq war just the day before her death -- Cindy Corrie said they had never considered themselves political activists.
"It was a quiet time in our lives," she told The Associated Press this week.
Their lives have been anything but quiet since their daughter's death.
They travel the country to talk about their daughter and her social causes, and the Corries have taken an active role in Palestinian issues. About a year ago, they joined up with The Rebuilding Alliance, an organization that helps rebuild Palestinian homes and schools.
In March, the Corries sued Caterpillar Inc., the company that made the bulldozer that ran over their daughter, arguing that Caterpillar violated international and state law by providing specially designed bulldozers to Israeli Defense Forces, knowing the machines would be used to demolish homes and endanger people.
When the lawsuit was filed Caterpillar issued a statement expressing concern over Middle East unrest, but said with more than 2 million Caterpillar machines used in the world, "We have neither the legal right nor the means to police individual use of that equipment."
The Corries are also pursuing separate claims in Israel against the state of Israel, the Israeli Defense Ministry and the Israeli Defense Forces.
In the past four years, Israel has used Caterpillar bulldozers to topple more than 4,000 Palestinian homes, killing and injuring people in the process, according to the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights.
Human rights groups have condemned the demolition of Palestinian homes as a violation of international humanitarian law.
In February, Israel abandoned the decades-old policy of destroying the homes of Palestinian suicide bombers and gunmen, saying it was ineffective.
Nasrallah, an accountant for Palestine Airlines, said his family was not involved with terrorism, saying, "We are normal civilian people."
Israel has characterized the International Solidarity Movement, the group Rachel Corrie was working with when she was killed, as meddlers whose activism in some cases has amounted to abetting terrorism.
Others argue that the young people who join these kinds of groups are just naive.
"I think she just made bad decisions for herself," said Keren Bar-nir, with the American Zionist Movement in New York. "I think it's based on really extreme groups persuading people. The kids these days are so disillusioned."
Corrie's mother said her daughter was neither misguided nor misled.
"The question is not why are these people there, but why aren't we all there," Cindy said. "I would give almost anything if I could have Rachel in my life right now and not be in this role, except the one thing I wouldn't do is ask my child to be less than the person that she could be."
Although news of Rachel's death was largely overshadowed by the beginning of the war in Iraq, the story of her death endures. A Google search on her name gets nearly 175,000 hits. Most of the sites are sympathetic, but some castigate her as un-American and show a photo of her burning a mock American flag surrounded by Palestinian schoolchildren.
Cindy says that picture has been used to demonize Rachel.
"I know there's going to be differences of opinion people have about this and I'd just like there to be room for respectful discussion on this, instead of blind labeling of people," Cindy said.
The Corries find hope in the support that they've received in Olympia, as well as overseas.
A one-woman play called "My Name is Rachel Corrie" based on Rachel's journals, letters and e-mails and directed by actor Alan Rickman opened in London in April.
The Corries have also sought solace in a friendship with the Nasrallahs, who witnessed Rachel's death from a hole in their garden wall.
Months after Rachel's death, the Corries traveled to the home, which was then still standing, to see the spot where she died.
"It was of course a very emotional moment, but it was also a very necessary moment to be in the place, to physically see the spot where Rachel was killed, where everything transpired that day," Cindy said.
The house was rendered uninhabitable seven months after Rachel's death and eventually demolished.
"Rachel had this relationship with our family and our children, so she stood to defend our children and to protect the principle of staying in your home," Khaled Nasrallah said.
Nasrallah said he wanted to tour the United States with the Corries in honor of Rachel, and to help rebuild 3,400 other homes in the Gaza strip.
"I felt the idea of rebuilding homes is rebuilding hope for living in peace," he said.
On the Net:
The Rebuilding Alliance: http://www.RebuildingAlliance.org
Rachel Corrie Memorial Web site: http://www.rachelcorrie.org/
Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice:; http://www.rachelcorriefoundation.org/International Solidarity Movement: http://www.palsolidarity.org/
Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace:
The Evergreen State College: http://www.evergreen.edu
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Today a flurry of condemnations of the film appeared at http://www.juedische.at(Vielen Dank, Inge). Abu Assad, who was born in Nazareth, currently resides in the Netherlands. Paradise Now won the Blau Engel prize for Best European Film at the Berlinale Festival. It also won the Amnesty International Prize as well as the Berliner Morgenpost Readers' Award. Zionist organizations are concerned. The film is scheduled to show in Austria and will also show in the US in September. Abu-Assad will be a featured speaker at the International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam in Novemenber. The following is a translation of parts of a statement from B'nai B'rith in Austria. It is entitled "B'nai B'rith Against Glorification of Suicide Bombers."
Raimund Fastenbauer, vice-president of the Zwi Peres Chajes Loge B'nai B'rith says that Paradise Now is "a propaganda film that glorifes suicide bombers." Fastenbauer says that the freedom of art reaches its borders where mass murderers are portrayed as victims.
"The portrayal in Paradise Now, a film, that, according to the director Hany Abu-Assad, 'gives back as true as possible reflection of the feeling in Palestine and Israel,' but Tobias Ebbrect in his analysis says that Israelis 'are only seen in the distance.' Sympathy is only for the suicide bombers and not for the victims and through this portrayal the relationship of the victim and victimizer is turned around."
Fastenbauer quotes Abu-Assad, "'I do not condemn suicide murders. For me it is a human reaction, says Abu-Assad.'"
Fastenbauer then proceeds to quote a statement Abu-Assad made that the scene in which Khaled and Said, the protatgonists, eat with their friends should bring to mind the last supper that Jesus ate with his disciples. Fastenbauer interprets this to mean that the suicide bomber becomes Jesus, who is sacrificing himself for mankind. Fastenbauer then asserts that this is "overstepping the boundaries into "Antijudaismus," but he doesn't tell us why. Does he mean that Assad intends to portray suicide bombers as modern day Christs out to even the score? Is he really maintaining that Assad is depicting suicide bombers as providing a service to mankind by killing Jews? Now other Zionist critics have maintained that Khaled and Said are not realistic because they don't scream that they hate Jews every other sentence, yet Fastenbauer nonsensically and simplistically claims that the film is "antijudaismus" because of the allusions to Christ.
The problem that the Zionist organizations have with the film is that the film does exactly what Abu-Assad intended; it portrays reality. When the film was screened in Ramallah, a discussion among the Palestinians in attendance ensued. One person criticised it saying that it only showed the sordidness of Palestinian life. When the reporter for Palestine Report asked if the film was honest, however, everyone agreed. B'Nai B'rith is ticked off that Abu-Assad didn't dish up a couple of sufficiently crazed sterotypical wild-eyed villains for European consumption. At least Palestinians concur that he portrayed their situation like it is while Zionists are doing their damndest to show otherwise.