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Saturday, January 27, 2007


Guilford College Assault: Blaming the Real Bad Arabs, Again

Faris Khader, Omar Awartani, and Osama Sabbah, three international students from Palestine, who were allegedly lynched by as many as fifteen members of Guilford College's Football team, five of whom are charged with ethnic intimidation and assault, have predictably been lynched again, mainly in comments sections of blogs and in the media; however, despite the lynch mob's second wave and the college administration's failure to at least suspend the assailants pending expulsion hearings, some clear reporting and comments are evident.

Luke McIntire, Greensboro blogger and media studies student, comments beautifully on the football players' parents' attempts to pin this on the eighteen year olds from Ramallah and Jerusalem, one of whom looked very slight on a Fox News' video:

"Not only does the story have legs, it's running its ass off. I really didn't expect the 'those three kids attacked the at least five and possibly 15 football players' defense. I'm interested to see how that plays out."

According to the student newspaper, The Guilforidan, "Bryan resident Peter Deng, a sophomore, said that the aggressors called the Palestinian students 'dirty terrorists' and 'sand n***ers.' 'A fight is a fight, but this was a jump,' said sophomore Dan Jimenez, who witnessed the altercation."

The Guilfordian also reported that brass knuckles were confiscated by a resident assistant on duty the night of the attack.

Joe Killan, who has extensively reported for Greensboro's News-Record commented on Greensboro journalist Ed Cone's Blog: "Those who have gone on record, both to us, Yes Weekly! and The Guilfordian, have described a group beating of Palestinian students and not the other way around. As far as I know no one who witnessed the attack and saw the Palestinian students either start it or do much of anything but be overpowered and beaten has gone on record with anyone." He also commented "The primary reason given to me by witnesses who won't go on the record is fear of retaliation."

One sophomore, Matt Hill Comer, at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, is not afraid to speak out about Michael Six, one of the accused, who was so earnestly defended by his mother on Fox News . Comer, a former classmate of Six's at R.J. Reynolds High School writes:

"course… I’m not really all that surprised that Michael Six was involved. Who knows… I learned a lot about not jumping to conclusions with the Duke case, but I do know this: Six was one of the WORST when it came to the harassment I got when we were in high school together. Although he never touched me, physically, his words toward me were enough to let me know that he didn’t like me and didn’t want me anywhere near him and that if I did come near him, I probably wouldn’t be safe.

"There’s one outstanding instance that stands out in my mind (right before I got my truck and was allowed to drive to school): I remember that he would stand in one spot after school everyday, a place I’d have to pass to get to the bus on time before they left the lot. He’d just stand there and when I’d pass spew out horrible obscenities and slurs. I asked him to stop numerous times; I eventually took it to Mr. Elrod, our principal. After that, Six never said anything to me again."

Would that Six had learned not to pick on vulnerable people. Comer is gay; Arwatani, Sabbah, and Khader, members of an ethnic group, not only oppressed, but vilified. North Carolina State's student newspaper, The Technician reports "Nusaybah Ismail, a freshman in sports management, said Awartani, who came from Palestine to study at N.C. State, spoke to her after the incident.'He was with his friends in a courtyard at Guilford,' Ismail said. '[Guilford] football players just came up to them and started beating them up, calling them names. According to Ismail, the football players yelled things like 'go back to your land.' 'It was just a hate crime,' she said."

A hate crime and and assault clearly put in focus by a comment on the Chronicle of Higher Education Blog:

"Assault is not a lesson to be learned in college. What’s with this approach that seems to be popular on college campuses now to treat assault, sexual assault, and rape as teachable moments instead of the criminal acts they really are. If it were a group of Palestinian students assaulting a few white students, you can bet that they would have been expelled already."

To get a clear picture for what contributes to some Americans' hateful attitudes toward Arabs, watch this short Jackie Salloum video, Planet of the Arabs, based on Jack Shaheen's book, Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People.


'Gaza...Cast Away in the Abyss': Laila El Haddad

Sane and acutely insightful commentary on an insane and seemingly inexplicable (to those of us on the outside) tragedy from Laila El Haddad in Gaza City. Here is just an excerpt. Read Laila's commentary, Hamas, One Year On, in its entirety at Raising Yousuf, Unplugged: diary of a Palestinian Mother:

Order no matter how corrupt or ruthless or artificial it may be, is for the most part predictable and safe. And now it is disorder that is being intentionally fuelled in Gaza's dusty streets. It is more than a mere power struggle. It is a fight for both political legitimacy and the pen that will write history. Who will continue the national historical narrative of the Palestinian struggle? And then there's that other story: the one about a people forgotten in all of this. Who will relay their narrative?The strawberry farmer who has no harvest to look forward to this year; the hospital-bound grandfather who went blind waiting to leave Gaza; the child who has stopped asking when the borders will re-open, and when he finally can return home.


New York Times Features Right of Return Letter!


Touching A Nerve: Carter At Brandeis

January 27, 2007

To the Editor:

Jimmy Carter just proved that one can challenge Israel and speak out for the oppressed because one dares care about a whole nation of people who have been wrongly evicted from full and equal rights in the land of their birth.

Any variation of “Free Palestine” is simply a plea for real justice and a lasting peace, as is the reminder that the Palestinian refugees have always had the inalienable, legal and sacred right to return to their original homes and lands.

Anne Selden Annab
Mechanicsburg, Pa., Jan. 25, 2007

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Israel Kills Seventeen Year Old Boy Looking for Work

The family on the ruins of their house demolished today in Sawahra al-Sharkiyeh on the edge of Jerusalem.
The little girl mourns her big brother, Mahran Zakariyya Abu Al Maseer, 17. An Israeli soldier shot him in the stomach today. He was trying to get into Israel to work.
Israel kills Palestinian children with impunity. From December 9, 1987 to December 9, 1989, Israel killed 159 Palestinian children sixteen and under. "In U.S. population terms, these numbers represent 9,680 American children killed." In 2006, Israel killed 153 Palestinian children.
Zionists will not bother to spin Mahran's death since a minimal number of people in the West will hear of the sad end to his short life.
His death has been reported in the following media:
Irish Independent Online
Mideast Conflict Slideshow
Ma'an News
Information on child deaths from First Intifada from Swedish Save the Children's "The Status of Palestinian Children during the Uprising in the Occupied Territories," Excerpted Summary Material, Jerusalem 1990 in Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. XIX, No. 4, Summer 1990.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Spinning Sorrow: Abir Aramin's Death

. . . since the outset, the intifada has exploited children by placing them in harm's way. Thus it is the inciters and not the IDF, who must ultimately be held responsible for the injury and death of rioting children.

Israeli Ministry of Justice, "Children as Participants in the Intifada" from Swedish Save the Children, "The Status of Palestinian Children during the Uprising in the Occupied Territories," Excerpted Summary Material, Jerusalem, January 1990, in Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. XIX, No.4, Summer 1990

In response Anne Elizabeth Nixon, who directed the two year investigation [first intifada]:

Although this form of child exploitation is described as a phenomenon by Israeli officials, neither they nor military police investigators, who say they investigate every child death, have ever documented a case in which a child was killed under these conditions. Instead, researchers for this report have documented indiscriminate beating, teargassing, and shooting of children at home or just outside the house, playing in the street, sitting in the classroom, or going to the stores for groceries. children were also beaten, teargassed, and shot for flashing V-for-Victory signs, chanting nationalist slogans, taunting and jeering at soldiers, doodling Palestinian flags in school notebooks, hanging flags from poles, violating curfew, or participating in demonstrations, whether stone-throwing or not. parents interviewed consistently expressed fear and feelings of helplessness in protecting their children from the army.

Abir Arimin, 10, of Anata, where, according to War on Want, the "playground of the local secondary school has been cut off by the wall," which surrounds the town on three sides with a soon to be constructed Jews only road on the fourth side, was wounded by an Israeli soldier on January 16 and died on January 18.

Earlier I posted about the media coverage here. Eyewitness reports indicate that an Israeli soldier shot her with a rubber bullet or hit her with a shock grenade. The headmistress of her school was quoted in Palestine News Network:

“The border guards are present daily at the doors of the Anata School for Boys and that for girls, and around Saladin Street where they know the kids must pass to reach buses or to walk home. They provoke the students by throwing grenades at them.”

The mainstream media has latched on to the irony that Abir's father, Bassem, is a Combatant for Peace, a joint Israeli-Palestinian group. The stories mainly put a positive spin on Israel by highlighting its peacemakers, while not providing any context regarding the town which is ghettoized and the blatant disregard of Israeli soldiers for Palestinian children.

Evidently, the mainstream media's mostly benign attitude toward the soldiers isn't enough for some. Taking the lead from Israel's English Ha'aretz headline, "Girl allegedly killed by Border Police may have been hit by rock," the Zionist spin began in earnest with headlines appearing at the top of yahoo and google news searches: Abir Aramin, Another Pallywood Al Dura Hoax, Al Dura II? in Snapshots, A CAMERA blog, Abir Aramin, Victim of the Palestinian Authority?

Zionists from Golda Meir to its armed forces to its present day Little Green Football acolytes just love to blame Palestinians for their own deaths.

In light of well documented statistics regarding Palestinian children's deaths, however, one wonders why? Evidently, those that for some reason get some publicity must be spun so that the public is none the wiser.

After all, the Journal of Palestine Studies had a circulation of about 1600 when it published Ms. Nixon's report about the first two years of the First Intifada so let's hope it gets a little more play now.

My challenge . . . spin this, guys, even though the Justice Ministry already tried:

On the subject of beating, the Justice Ministry paper repeated the general miltary order concerning use of force, which 'specifically forbids . . . inflicting blows to the head or other sensitive parts of the body.'

Beating injury records show a different picture, however. Although official beating orders do not appear to permit the beating of children, or at least children under the age of 12 years, records were collected for 7,107 beaten children and this report estimates tht 23,600 to 29,900 children required medical treatment for their beating injuries in the first two years of the Intifada. According to a sample of the 3,460 records studied in the first year, nearly one-third of the beaten children were aged 10 years and under; one-fifth of these young children were aged 5 and under. Over four-fifths of the children requiring treatment had been beaten on their heads and upper bodies and at multiple locations . . . nearly one-third of the children sustained broken bones, including multiple fractures.


Sunday in Bayt Sahur

The photo and story: Azar, George Baramki. Palestine: A Photographic Journey. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1991, 66-67.

Holding the outlawed Palestinian flag above her head, Jamila Comsia emerges from Sunday church service.

Sunday in Bayt Sahur

Bayt Sahur is a town near Bethlehem. Our townspeople are well educated; our men and women are very strong, as are our young.

Since the occupation began in 1967, everyone in Bayt Sahur has become unhappy with the military presence here. The truth is, we would all like our independence, to have our own government, to be able to hold our own opinions and maintain our traditions.

We want to be able to walk down the street with our children, in any way we please, without anyone's objections.

We were, of course, very happy when the intifada started in Gaza. Although we had not experienced the same hardships as the people of Gaza, we wanted to show the Israelis that we are a single nation. We wanted to show them that we have brains and feelings and that like them we are also the children of God.

Soon after the intifada began, the town of Bayt Sahur rose up and lent assistance to Gaza, sending contributions of food and milk by truck. After a month and a half we started our own demonstrations, each Sunday after Mass, to express what we felt inside.

From week to week we would look forward to Sunday's demonstration. And I can truthfully tell you that every woman, before putting her head on the pillow Saturday night, finished all her cooking, all her cleaning, all her washing--the pots, the pans, the utensils--and her ironing and made sure that she didn't have any work on Sunday so that she would be free to march, hand in hand with the young, holding our banners and flags.

We were on fire waiting for Sunday.

Jamila Comsia
Bayt Sahur, December 1988

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Do not stand at my grave and weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there; I did not die.
Mary Frye

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Facilitating Genocide:The Reporting of Abir Aramin's Death

Ten year old Anata resident Abir Aramin's death was reported much differently in most of the western press than it was in the Palestinian press which simply means that Israel's Defense Forces will continue to carry out the Jewish State's genocide of the Palestinian people, as yet an unfinished and ongoing project.

Palestine News Network reported on January 18:

Abir Aramin was only injured at first by the gas bomb that was shot at the back of her head. She had just stepped out of the Anata School for Girls after taking a test when the gas canister hit her and she was knocked to the ground.

The Director of the Anata School for Girls said Wednesday that she regrets what happened to Abir Aramin. “What happened yesterday is a deliberate and provocative exercise practiced by border guards since the beginning of exams at the end of the first quarter at students in all of the Anata Secondary schools.” She added, “The border guards are present daily at the doors of the Anata School for Boys and that for girls, and around Saladin Street where they know the kids must pass to reach buses or to walk home. They provoke the students by throwing grenades at them.”

Palestine News Network further states:

Israeli forces in Jerusalem had penetrated the town and began indiscriminately opening fire while detonating gas and sound bombs. Some young people responded with stones. Abir was the victim of the war game that the Israeli soldiers play daily when they enter the town during school hours and begin shooting near the Anata schools. These children are under 13 years of age, and do not fall prey to the taunting.

The International Solidarity Movement reported:

Hassan, a sixteen-year old student who witnessed Abir’s injury and carried her back to the girls school stated “the students of the girls school and the boys school had both just come out of an examination. A border police jeep approached the gathering of girls. The girls were afraid and started running away. The border police jeep followed them in the direction in which they were retreating. Abir was afraid and stood against one of the shops at the side of the road, I was standing near her. The border policeman shot through a special hole in the window of the jeep that was standing very close to us. Abir fell to the ground. I picked her up and took her to the girls school. I saw that she was bleeding from the head.”

The reports from the western media:

From Ireland Online:
Aramin was hit in the head and wounded by a stun grenade thrown by Israeli security personnel during a demonstration against Israel’s separation barrier in the West Bank town of Anata, near Jerusalem, on Tuesday.

From the BBC:

Palestinians say she was with two other girls in the village when an Israeli border police vehicle drove past.
Stones were thrown in the direction of the police, who responded with tear-gas and stun-grenades. The girl was hit in the head.

An Israeli border police spokeswoman said that they had used "crowd control means against stone throwers" protesting against the construction of Israel's controversial barrier.

From the International Herald Tribune:

Aramin was hit in the head and critically wounded by a stun grenade thrown by Israeli security personnel during a demonstration against Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank town of Anata, near Jerusalem, on Tuesday.

From the Jewish Telegraph Agency:

Abir Aramin had joined a protest Tuesday against Israel’s security barrier in the West Bank town of Anata. She was hit in the head by a stun grenade used by troops trying to end the protest, and died Friday. Police are investigating the incident.

From the Independent:

Shortly after 9.10am on Tuesday, Abir, her sister and two friends, came out of the grocery store and started walking downhill along the street. At that point, said one of the girls, Abrar Abu Qweida, 12, an Israeli jeep came up the hill; further down the hill, she says she saw "three or four" boys throwing stones towards the vehicle. As the jeep passed them going up the hill, she says, she noticed what she says was a gun protruding from the rear window. Moments later, she says, a Ford Transit, of the sort frequently used in the West Bank for unlicensed passenger transport, came up the hill. Abrar explained: "Abir said: 'Let's get in the Ford.' We were afraid from the jeep. But I said: 'I haven't any money.' So she said: 'OK, we don't go.'"

Abir's fatal injury came moments later. As they faced down the hill, Abrar was holding Abir's hand; Abir's sister Arin, 11, was immediately behind her. "Arin lowered her head and so did I," said Abrar, hunching her shoulders in a graphic demonstration of an instinctive reaction to an explosion. But Abir didn't duck, and fell forward, said Abrar, adding: "I ran away. I ran into the school."

After a formal complaint by the family, police have now launched an investigation by its internal affairs division. The police suggested this week that she might have been hit by a stone thrown by a Palestinian, and the initial findings of yesterday's autopsy do not so far prove that she was shot. Abrar's account is consistent with the massive fracture in the back of Abir's skull, from which surgeons at the Hadassah Hospital fought to save her; with other eye-witness reports; and from the rubber bullet one boy testified to the Israeli human rights organisation Yesh Din he had found where Abir fell. The Peres Centre's Dr David Shanin, who visited doctors at the Hadassah with Mr Aramin as his daughter lay already clinically dead, is convinced her injuries were caused by a rubber bullet. He said: "The cause is obvious to anyone who doesn't want to twist the truth."

Even if Abir were not shot, there remains the question of what the police were doing near the schools in Anata in the first place. The police say that they were there to protect "ongoing work" on the separation barrier. But residents - and the Yesh Din lawyer Michael Sfard, who is helping to represent the family - are all adamant the work stopped months ago when the barrier here was completed.

From AFP:

A 10-year-old Palestinian girl has died of wounds suffered after Israeli border police fired on demonstrators in a village outside Jerusalem this week.

Abir Aramin was seriously wounded in her head by shrapnel from a stun grenade fired by the Israeli force during clashes with Palestinians in the village of Ananta on Tuesday.

From Pravda:

Aramin was hit in the head and critically wounded by a stun grenade thrown by Israeli security personnel during a demonstration against Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank town of Anata, near Jerusalem, on Tuesday.

Last two paragraphs of a 19 paragraph NYT story, "Israel Releases Money to Palestinans", which carried a picture of Abir's funeral:

A 10-year-old Palestinian girl, Abir Aramin, died Friday from wounds sustained when she was hit by fire from the Israeli border police on Tuesday in the West Bank town of Anata, near Jerusalem, Palestinian witnesses and relatives said. Abir and her classmates were on recess from school when the Israeli forces fired on stone-throwing Palestinians with rubber bullets and stun grenades, according to the Palestinians.

Abir was hit in the head and collapsed, the Palestinians said. The border police said they were investigating the report.

Last two paragraphs of the 16 paragraph USA Today, "Israel freezes settlement, releases money to Abbas ahead of his talks with Hamas ":

Meanwhile, the 10-year-old daughter of a Palestinian peace activist died Friday after being struck in the head days earlier by a rubber bullet fired by Israeli security forces in the West Bank. Abir Aramin's death was expected to further fan Arab anger against Israel.

Paragraphs 6, 7, 8 in 21 paragraph AP story:

In a development expected to further fan Arab anger, the 10-year-old daughter of a Palestinian peace activist, critically wounded by Israeli security forces during a demonstration earlier in the week, died of her injuries in a Jerusalem hospital Friday.

A recent story, the International Herald Tribune's "Hope and support From Israeli friends gets bereaved father through worst days," focuses on Israeli friends who are providing "strength" to Bassem Amiran, Abir's father. Its lead paragraph provides no concrete details and frames and minimizes the young girl's death by writing she was "killed in a clash":

The 37-year-old Palestinian peace activist is mourning his 10-year-old daughter, Abir, killed in a clash between stone throwers and Israeli border police this week, but is drawing strength from the embrace of his Israeli friends.

It continues "boys leaving school threw stones at Israeli border police patrolling in a jeep, a routine occurance."

The Independent and the International Herald Tribune have alluded to the cruel irony that Bassem Amiran, the combatant for peace, lost his little daughter violently. What's crueler, however, is glossing over the concrete details, especially in the case of the Herald Tribune, when describing what now is, according to Remember These Children, 869 Palestinian children's deaths since September 2000 (the BBC did have some statistics on its website).

One hopes in vain for the honesty of Tom Hayes, documentary film maker who in "The Information Blockade" describes a scene in Shati Camp from 1989:

"Filming through a crack between cinder blocks, I was trying to get a shot of a patrol that had emerged from one of the narrow paths in the camp. School girls, third and fourth graders from the look of them, wearing those cute blue and white striped school uniforms, were headed right toward the oncoming patrol.
The girls stopped in their tracks then, after a little discussion, proceeded forward. When they were 20 feet past the patrol, one of the soldiers raises his rifle and starts to chase them. Little feet fly. Blue and white dresses billow as tiny hands clutch each other. The soldier stops and looks back to his fellows. They all get a good laugh.

The footage, a group of girls running, a pan to a man with a machine gun slowing and turning away, is not all that dramatic. No arms or legs flew off, none of the stuff of evening news. But I must have watched that footage 50 times in my editing room. I ask myself the same question over and over: what would I do if a man with a machine gun chased my daughter on her way home from school, just for the pleasure of seeing her fear? What would any American do?"

Americans will continue to do nothing as long as the paltry few media stories that show a modicum of interest in Palestinian children's deaths focus on the kind, helpful Israelis, while glossing over a state made possible by ethnic cleansing and massive immigration and which in violation of international law refuses the right of return for people actually born there and their descendents. It is the manufactured and socially engineered "Jewish" state after all and one should expect that it would logically progress to a state of affairs in which killing kids is business as usual. After having cleaned out most of the native inhabitants one way or another, shooting school kids in broad daylight with impunity is a fine way to get parents to think seriously about joining Uncle Rizik in the US and to spirit in the best Herzl tradition the remaining non-Jewish inhabitants away.

Friday, January 19, 2007


Another Winter of Discontent

Abir Aramin, 18 January 2007, 10

Aya Mohammad Suliman Al-Astal, 26 January 2006, 9

Aya on the left. Abir above. Israel's defense forces according to Remember These Children killed 152 Palestinian children in 2006. Another Palestinian child was killed in the Negev.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Abir Aramin, 10, Died Today

Abir Aramin, 10, died today. She was hit in the back of her head by a gas cannister, and then shot by Israel's border police, who have been tauting students of the Anata Secondary Boys' and Girls' Schools with grenades for one year and eight months.

This is what the director of her school said:

“What happened yesterday is a deliberate and provocative exercise practiced by border guards since the beginning of exams at the end of the first quarter at students in all of the Anata Secondary schools.”

She added, “The border guards are present daily at the doors of the Anata School for Boys and that for girls, and around Saladin Street where they know the kids must pass to reach buses or to walk home. They provoke the students by throwing grenades at them.”

Abir's father, Bassem was active in peace organizations.

May Abir's memory be eternal.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


An Analytic Gap: Defining Values

"An increasing number of American Jews [pictured are Canadian immigrants] are finding the attraction of Israel irresistible, a draw to a country in which their religion is practiced by the majority of residents and where Jewish values are shared in schools, the workplace and government," writes Greg Krupa in Metro Jews Join US Exodus to Israel.
Palestinian refugees meet at the Lebanon-Israel barbed wire border. A scene from Mai Masri's Frontiers of Fields and Dreams.
Dear Mr. Krupa,

I have written to you before to compliment you regarding a positive story you wrote about Palestine.

I'm very sorry to see that you've wasted your talents writing an upbeat story on Aliyah for privileged U.S. Zionists.

I have so many friends and acquaintances who can't be buried in their hometowns because Israel refuses to implement Article 13, Section 2, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states everyone has a right to leave his home and return to his home. Period. It's an inalienable right. Unless one is Palestinian.

When Palestinian kids get shot in the head for resisting a brutal occupation, I have to wonder why a talented journalist like yourself is facilitating their genocide by highlighting ethnic cleansers and even providing the names of agencies to facilitate their emigration from the US. Ethnic cleansing is a war crime. Despite what Zionist propaganda maintains, Palestinians were ethnically cleansed in 1947-48, hundreds of their villages demolished and the land grab and slow ethnic cleansing continues today.

You speak of Jewish values in your story, but don't define what Jewish values are. Obviously, comfortable US Zionist Jews, who choose to immigrate to a place in which the Palestinian deaths outnumbered Israelis 29-1 in 2006, place no value on the human and civil rights of Palestinians. Do you know that Israel appropriates eighty percent of Palestine's water for its own uses?

Tom Hayes, an independent film maker quotes Gandhi in a story he wrote about his experiences filming in the occupied territories and the media blockade he faced trying to get the film distributed.

"When you know the truth, the truth makes you a soldier.” Please be a soldier for truth, Mr. Krupa.


Sincerely yours,

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Palestinian Orthodox Celebrate Christmas

The altar boys line up before services in Bethlehem on December 24. The women receiving the Holy Eucharist are Greek Orthodox Christians in Gaza. They celebrate Christmas on January 7. The picture is St. Peforious Church.


Gestapo in Ramallah

Relatives at Khalil Bairouti's funeral, who was killed by Israel's Occupation Forces, January 4 in Ramallah. REUTERS Loay Abu Heykel


By Khalid Amayreh

Jan 5, 2007, 15:47

On Thursday, 4 January, the Israeli occupation army carried out another provocative foray into Ramallah, killing at least four Palestinian civilians and injuring and maiming more than 20 others.

During the Gestapo-like incursion, trigger-happy Israeli soldiers opened fire rather wantonly on Palestinian civilians and stone-hurling youngsters. Moreover, Israeli army bulldozers crushed Palestinian cars, storefronts and vegetable and fruit stands in downtown Ramallah in a manner befitting the German Wehrmacht.

Undoubtedly, the criminal raid, which took place as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert himself was meeting with Egyptian President Husni Mubarak at Sharm al Sheikh, ostensibly to promote peace, constituted a brazen provocation not only to the Palestinian and Egyptian leaderships but also all international efforts aimed at reviving peace talks in the region.

Indeed, only a few weeks ago, Olmert said in his much-celebrated speech in southern Israel that he was extending a hand of peace to the Palestinian people.

And now, he is sending his murderous army on yet another rampage of murder and terror in the heart of Ramallah, not far from the headquarters of President Abbas with whom he had an ostensibly cordial meeting less than two weeks ago.

Does Olmert really think that sending his Gestapo-like soldiers to spread death and terror in our crowded streets in Ramallah and Nablus and other Palestinian population centers is the way to demonstrate his and his people’s desire for peace?

The Palestinian leadership, especially lately, sought to give Olmert and his government the benefit of the doubt, despite all the clarion misgivings about the Israeli premier and his criminal attitudes.

Chairman Abbas did laud Olmert’s speech last month and agreed, probably under British and American pressure, to meet with the Zionist premier in his own home where he pledged to deliver a package of “good will” gestures to the Palestinians, including a promise to remove roadblocks and checkpoints, free some prisoners and release a $100 million dollars of our imprisoned tax money which Israel is withholding in order to punish Palestinians for electing Hamas.

However, ever since that fiasco on 27 December, the Israeli government has neither removed roadblocks, nor released prisoners and has refused to release our money.And now we are affronted once again by this pornographic rape of Ramallah’s city center in broad daylight which reminds us of what happened in Jericho last year, when Israeli occupation troops raided the town’s central prison and abducted several Palestinian detainees, including PFLP leader Ahmed Sa’adat.

To be sure, these criminal provocations by Israel carry certain messages to the Palestinian people and their leadership.

The first message is that Israel remains unchanged and her leaders lie as often as they breathe and that their words and pledges and promises carry no weight and are devoid of any veracity and credibility, which really underscores the futility of believing let alone relying on promises and undertakings made by Israeli leaders.

The second message is that Israel remains a bellicose and murderous state with which genuine peace is impossible. Indeed, how can these recurrent acts of brigandage and criminality be reconciled with Israel ’s purported desire for peace and principled acceptance of a viable Palestinian state? This is a question that had been asked thousands of times and is being asked again in light of Israel ’s enduring and unrelenting criminality.

The sinister Israeli raid in Ramallah on Thursday should really prompt the Palestinian leadership, including the PLO executive committee and especially President Abbas, to rethink the present discourse vis-a-vise the moribund peace process which Israel uses as rubric to murder our youngsters and rape our towns.

Indeed, with Israel apparently hell-bent on eviscerating the PA of whatever semblance of substance of authority there is, and there is not that much anyway, the Palestinian leadership must stop acting as a state when there is none.

Our leadership must meticulously re-evaluate the continued existence of the PA structure, especially if it becomes sufficiently clear this ramshackle and fragile existence doesn’t really serve our paramount national interests.

We must stop deceiving our people by clinging and clutching to an authority that lacks any semblance of authority. Yes, Israel wants to kill every dignified Palestinian who dare raise his hands in the face of the Israeli occupation.

And it makes no difference if the “targeted Palestinian” carried out the “terrorist act” five, ten, or even twenty years ago.

Another point I would like to make is that the Israeli raid in Ramallah came as our own militiamen were killing each other in cold blood in the streets of Gaza. The disgrace of what is happening in Gaza really transcends reality. Indeed, if we are so bent on spilling our own blood with our own hands, why should our enemies be any more merciful toward us?

Shame on us.

© Copyright 2003 by palestine-info.co.uk


Friday, January 05, 2007


Mr. Occupied Jerusalem

Teddy Kollek, an Ashkenazi Jew, born in Hungary, raised in Vienna, immigrated to Palestine in 1935, hyped in the press as "Mr. Jerusalem," while those Palestinians actually born in Al-Quds, which means God's Choice, are denied entry to the place of their birth and repatriation of their personal property.

Jerusalem born Ambassador Afif Safieh, Palestine's representative to the UK and the Holy See from 1990-2005 and current representative in the United States:

In November 1994, during “Home Again 3” and accompanied by a Franciscan father, I went to the Israeli office in East Jerusalem to present an application for “family reunification”. The governmental official who received me was an Ashkanazi Jew and his secretary an Ethiopian Falasha who had probably arrived in the country the day before yesterday. An unforgettable and extremely painful moment. “They” were to decide whether I had the “right” to reside again in my home- town-- Jerusalem.

In February 1995, my mother, Odette Batato Safieh, got a letter from the Israeli Minister of Interior. One line and a half, in Hebrew, with an Arabic translation beneath it that said: “Concerning the above-mentioned, we have studied the case and unfortunately could not give a positive response.”

Later, to friends who wrote to inquire or to protest, a standard letter was sent saying that they “process in priority cases of minors and spouses”. I was obviously no longer a minor and it was, it seems, a distant relative who had filled in my application . . . My mother.

Hala Sakakini describes her visit to her occupied Jerusalem home in 1967:

We knocked on the door. Two ladies appeared —one a dark young lady and the other an elderly European lady. We addressed them first in Arabic, but they seemed not to understand; so we asked them if they spoke English, but they shook their heads; so we started to talk in German and the elderly lady understood. We tried to explain: "This is our house. We used to live here before 1948. This is the first time we see it nineteen years ..." The elderly lady was apparently moved, but she immediately began telling us that she too had lost a house in Poland, as though we personally or the Arabs in general were to blame for that. We saw it was no use arguing with her. We went through all the house room by room - our parents' bedroom, our bedroom, Aunt Melia's bedroom, the sitting room and the library (which were now one large room, as the wall between them had been pulled down), the dining room, the kitchen. The house was more or less in good condition, but everything was so different. It was no more home.

We went out to the verandah again. The little children swarmed around us and made happy noises, but we stood there as in a daze looking across the street and the square at our neighbours' houses - the Sliheet house, thc Sruji house, the Tleel houses. lt is people that make up a neighbourhood and when they are gone it will never be the same again. We left our house and our immediate neighbourhood with a sense of emptiness, with a feeling of deep disappointment and frustration. The familiar streets were there, all the houses were there, but so much was missing. We felt like strangers in our own quarter.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Letter Re "Truth At Last" and "Far Beneath the Desert"


Dear Editor:

Thank you very much for publishing George Bisharat's commentary, "Truth at last, while breaking a U.S. taboo of criticizing Israel."

Truth at last, indeed, and a refreshing way to start the new year. Bisharat points to the core of the conflict: "Israel's Law of Return grants rights of automatic citizenship to Jews anywhere in the world, while those rights are denied to 750,000 Palestinian refugees who were forced or fled in fear from their homes in what became Israel in 1948."

Until this injustice is rectified, peace will not be forthcoming. Jonathan Cook, Nazareth based journalist, also addresses Israeli racism:

"Israel is a racist state. Like Nazi Germany, it defines itself in ethnic terms ("Jewish" rather than "Aryan"); it refuses to demarcate its borders and is waging aggressive wars against its neighbors; it oppresses sections of the population it rules over; and it carries out policies of ethnic cleansing. And like apartheid South Africa before it, Israel is separating from and ghettoizing its subject population in the interests of racial purity. "

He continues:

"1. either they [apologists for Israel] want Israel to be such a state because they are Zionists and happy with the idea of a racist state for Jews;2. or they genuinely fear what the consequences of reforming Israel would be for its Jewish population, with which they identify. "It is pointless to argue against the racists who take position 1, but it is worth trying to challenge the view of those who adopt position 2. The reform of Israel as a racist state does not entail the destruction of the Jewish population who live inside it; it simply means the racist regime has to be replaced with a non-racist one. Destroying Nazi Germany did not mean killing Germans, and wiping apartheid South Africa off the map did not require the eradication of whites. The same is true of Israel as a Jewish state."


Sincerely yours,


Dear Editor:

Another story coaxing readers to applaud those plucky Israelis and a rehash of the thoroughly debunked Zionist propaganda that Israelis made the "desert bloom," when the reality is Israel's steady demolition of all that's Palestinian: villages, culture, society, lives, and environment.

According to the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem, "Overgrazing has resulted in the loss of the vegetation cover, soil erosion problems and intensive desertification" in the Eastern slopes in the West Bank.

Why? The closure of "eighty-five percent of this zone for military purposes." In fact results of Israel's land grabs have turned "large areas of the occupied territories to deserts." Bethlehem's pine forest mountain Abu Ghneim was deforested and is now covered with an ugly illegal settlement overlooking Bethlehem, Har Homa.

And speaking of Israelis' marvels with fish and the hope Israel offers for developing countries, their largesse doesn't extend to the people whose land they usurped; on December 19, Palestinian fisherman Hamdan Mahmoud Barhoum, 24, died from shrapnel from shots throughout his body while on his fishing boat by Israel's occupation forces.

Hamdan's death was unreported in the western press.




Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Failure of Palestinian diplomacy in 2006


By Khalid Amayreh
Jan 2, 2007, 15:21

In 2006, the Palestinian diplomacy failed, almost completely, in achieving its central goals. These include, first, expediting the process of ending the Israeli military occupation that began in 1967; second, lifting the draconian siege imposed by Israel, the US, and EU, in connivance with certain Arab regimes, for the purpose of punishing the Palestinian people for electing Hamas; and, third, exposing Israeli brutality and criminality against our people.

In the past year, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas visited many capitals, including Washington D.C. , and received in Ramallah scores of foreign leaders and diplomats. However, these high-profile meetings and encounters yielded next to nothing in terms of positive tangible outcome, apart from the usual pleasantries and public relations trappings.

Indeed, a meticulous review of Abbas’s meetings with foreign leaders in 2006 (2005 was no different) shows that the Palestinian leadership failed utterly in communicating the messages that ought to have been communicated to these foreign visitors.

For example, Abbas made little or no efforts to tell the world community that it was unfair and unwise to punish ordinary Palestinians because of Hamas’s refusal to recognize Israel and that it was illogical to demand that Hamas recognize Israel without demanding a reciprocal Israeli recognition of a sovereign Palestinian state on the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

He also equally utterly failed to effectively and clearly convey the message that the election of Hamas in January 2006 didn’t really imply that a majority of Palestinians were against peace with Israel or dedicated to the destruction of the apartheid state as Israeli hasbara has been successfully trying to convince the international community.

Indeed, Abbas’s statements and remarks in the presence of foreign visitors often suggested that he more or less agreed that the Palestinian people erred, to put it mildly, by electing Hamas, and had to incur the consequences.

Furthermore, the PA leadership in 2006 was guilty of indulgence in seeking to appease and please the West, especially the United States , by creating the impression that the PA, especially Fatah, was joining the American-inspired “coalition of the moderates,” which includes pro-American regimes in the Middle East against the anti-Israeli coalition, which includes Hamas, Hizbullah , Syria and Iran.

Well, this impression is false and deceptive because Palestine and the Palestinians are occupied and tormented by Israel whose occupation of our land is supported, sustained and guarded by the United States , not by Iran or Hizbullah or Syria.

More to the point, we must take note of the fact that these artificial and disingenuous classifications (the coalitions of moderates and extremists) are being utilized by the bankrupt Bush administration in order to redefine the essence of the Palestinian cause, from an enduring criminal and racist occupation of Palestine and systematic repression of its people to a mere psychological problem of moderates and extremists. This is how the Bush administration, in coordination with some Zionist circles, such as the so-called Peres Peace Center , has come to understand the conflict in this region.

That is why they are always trying to get Palestinian soccer players (usually the young boys and girls uncorrupted by extremist thinking!!) to play Israeli counterparts or play with them in one team against a foreign soccer team, as happened recently in Spain. Well, they are trying to spread the message that the problem is not the rape of Palestine by the Jews, the expulsion of millions of Palestinians from their ancestral homeland, but merely a psychological problem and some unresolved psychological complexes. Having effectively joined the “axis of moderates” (which actually is an axis of liars), Abbas may have hoped that this false perceived proximity vis-à-vis the Americans would have placed him in a better position to extract Palestinian rights from Israel ’s criminal hands.

But this view is short sighted if not outright naïve. This almost messianic American administration, which believes that the invasion, occupation and destruction of Iraq, was inspired by God, will not award or reward Abbas for being moderate (in the American lexicon “moderate” means coming to terms with the Israeli occupation and giving up Jerusalem as well as the right of return and much of the West Bank).

This is clear from the quality of the award the Bush Administration is already giving the PA.

Indeed, instead of ordering Israel to stop building racist Jewish-only colonies and put an end to the policy of narrowing Palestinians’ horizons, George Bush has decided to give us weapons and millions of bullets to kill each other. More to the point, the fact that the delivery of these weapons has been supported by the likes of Avigdor Lieberman and right-wing Jewish extremists in the US speaks volumes in itself.

This is the same Bush that once described Ariel Sharon (we know well who Sharon is) as a man of peace and awarded his artificial withdrawal from Gaza by bestowing legitimacy to scores of Jewish colonies in the West Bank.

Our leadership must realize that the Palestinian people are not an Eidul Adha ram, to be fed today in order to be slaughtered tomorrow.

It is lamentable that PA spokesmen, from Abbas downward, are scandalously failing to get the right messages through to the world.

For these reasons, in 2007, we must seek to rethink our performance with regard to media tactics and public diplomacy and do away with the often jumbled and confused public discourse. And in order to do that, we must concentrate on the following messages. First, that the Israeli occupation is an act of rape and that it is the mother of all problems in the Middle East and beyond, and that there can be no peace or stability between Islam and the West, let alone between Israel and the Muslim world, as long as the Israeli occupation persists and the Palestinian people are denied their rights, including the right to have a viable and sovereign state with East Jerusalem as its capital as well the repatriation of Palestinian refugees to their original hometowns and villages in what is now Israel.

Second, that Hamas is an authentic societal force that can’t be marginalized let alone eradicated and that it is futile and unrealistic to starve and torment the Palestinian people in order to weaken Hamas.

Third, that the Palestinian people will not be cajoled or bullied into accepting a deformed state, one with a form but without a substance.

Furthermore, the PA should stop talking about Hamas in the presence of foreign, especially American visitors since this would give the impression that the real problem lies in the existence of Hamas, not in the reality of the Israeli colonization and occupation of our homeland.

More to the point, the PA should really tell the international community that the PA itself is under the Israeli occupation and that the Israeli occupation of Palestine is still as sinister and as direct as it was prior to the conclusion of the Oslo Accords in 1993.

Indeed, giving the false impression of Palestinian statehood, by employing such bombastic but mendacious phrases as Palestinian “sovereignty” and Palestinian “government” and Palestinian “security forces,” is really self-defeating and very very harmful to Palestinian aspirations for real freedom and real statehood.

After all, real freedom can only be attained following a real delivery from this Nazi-like occupation of our country.

Finally, it is sad that the PA continues to employ poorly qualified or unqualified spokespersons with inadequate political and linguistic abilities to communicate the Palestinian view point to the outside world. We need professional spokespersons with excellent knowledge of the world and mastery of foreign languages, especially English, to tell the world in straightforward manner that Israel is a murderer, liar and land thief and that the problem lies squarely in the Zionist theft of our land and savagery of our people.

© Copyright 2003 by palestine-info.co.uk email: webmaster@palestine-info.info


Truth at last, while breaking a U.S. taboo of criticizing Israel

by George Bisharat

Americans owe a debt to former President Jimmy Carter for speaking long hidden but vital truths. His book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid breaks the taboo barring criticism in the United States of Israel's discriminatory treatment of Palestinians. Our government's tacit acceptance of Israel's unfair policies causes global hostility against us.

Israel's friends have attacked Carter, a Nobel laureate who has worked tirelessly for Middle East peace, even raising the specter of anti-Semitism. Genuine anti-Semitism is abhorrent. But exploiting the term to quash legitimate criticism of another system of racial oppression, and to tarnish a principled man, is indefensible. Criticizing Israeli government policies - a staple in Israeli newspapers - is no more anti-Semitic than criticizing the Bush administration is anti-American.

The word apartheid typically evokes images of former South Africa, but it also refers to any institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another. Carter applies the term only to Israel's rule of the occupied Palestinian territories, where it has established more than 200 Jewish-only settlements and a network of roads and other services to support them. These settlements violate international law and the rights of Palestinian property owners. Carter maintains that "greed for land," not racism, fuels Israel's settlement drive. He is only partially right.

Israel is seizing land and water from Palestinians for Jews. Resources are being transferred, under the guns of Israel's military occupation, from one disempowered group - Palestinian Christians and Muslims - to another, preferred group - Jews. That is racism, pure and simple.
Moreover, there is abundant evidence that Israel discriminates against Palestinians elsewhere. The "Israeli Arabs" - about 1.4 million Palestinian Christian and Muslim citizens who live in Israel - vote in elections. But they are a subordinated and marginalized minority. The Star of David on Israel's flag symbolically tells Palestinian citizens: "You do not belong." Israel's Law of Return grants rights of automatic citizenship to Jews anywhere in the world, while those rights are denied to 750,000 Palestinian refugees who were forced or fled in fear from their homes in what became Israel in 1948.

Israel's Basic Law of Human Dignity and Liberty establishes the state as a "Jewish democracy" although 24 percent of the population is non-Jewish. Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, counted 20 laws that explicitly privilege Jews over non-Jews.

The government favors Jews over Palestinians in the allocation of resources. Palestinian children in Israel attend "separate and unequal" schools that receive a fraction of the funding awarded to Jewish schools, according to Human Rights Watch. Many Palestinian villages, some predating the establishment of Israel, are unrecognized by the government, do not appear on maps, and thus receive no running water, electricity, or access roads. Since 1948, scores of new communities have been founded for Jews, but none for Palestinians, causing them severe residential overcrowding.

Anti-Arab bigotry is rarely condemned in Israeli public discourse, in which Palestinians are routinely construed as a "demographic threat." Palestinians in Israel's soccer league have played to chants of "Death to Arabs!" Israeli academic Daniel Bar-Tal studied 124 Israeli school texts, finding that they commonly depicted Arabs as inferior, backward, violent, and immoral. A 2006 survey revealed that two-thirds of Israeli Jews would refuse to live in a building with an Arab, nearly half would not allow a Palestinian in their home, and 40 percent want the government to encourage emigration by Palestinian citizens. Last March, Israeli voters awarded 11 parliamentary seats to the Israel Beitenu Party, which advocates drawing Israel's borders to exclude 500,000 of its current Palestinian citizens.

Some say that Palestinian citizens in Israel enjoy better circumstances than those in surrounding Arab countries. Ironically, white South Africans made identical claims to defend their version of apartheid, as is made clear in books such as Antjie Krog's Country of My Skull.

Americans are awakening to the costs of our unconditional support of Israel. We urgently need frank debate to chart policies that honor our values, advance our interests, and promote a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. It is telling that it took a former president, immune from electoral pressures, to show the way.

The debate should now be extended. Are Israel's founding ideals truly consistent with democracy? Can a state established in a multiethnic milieu be simultaneously "Jewish" and "democratic"? Isn't strife the predictable yield of preserving the dominance of Jews in Israel over a native Palestinian population? Does our unconditional aid merely enable Israel to continue abusing Palestinian rights with impunity, deepening regional hostilities and distancing peace? Isn't it time that Israel lived by rules observed in any democracy - including equal rights for all?

George Bisharat (bisharat@uchastings.edu) is a professor of law at University of California Hastings College of the Law. He writes frequently on law and politics in the Middle East.

© 2007 Philadelphia Inquirer and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.http://www.philly.com


The unheralded deaths of Hamdan and Do'aa'

Gilad Shalit comes up in Yahoo News Search Results: 1 - 10 of about 1,007 for gilad shalit.
comes up in Google News Search: Results 1 - 10 of about 2,058 for gilad shalit

His father Noam comes up in Yahoo News Search Results: 1 - 10 of about 84 for noam shalit.
comes up in Google News Search Results: 1 - 10 of about 219 for noam shalit

Hamdan Mahmoud Barhoum comes up in Yahoo News Search Results:

We did not find results for "Hamdan Mahmoud Barhoum

Google News Search Results: Results 1 - 1 for Hamdan Mahmoud Barhoum.

Do'aa' Nasser Saleh Abdul Qader comes up in Yahoo News Search Results: We did not find results for "Do’aa’ Nasser Saleh ‘Abdul Qader".

Google News Search Results: Your search - Do’a’ Nasser Saleh ‘Abdul Qader - did not match any documents

According to Palestine Center for Human Rights, Gaza, On December 19, 13 year old Do'aa on the way to visit her grandmother, got lost and got too close to the Apartheid Wall, hence was shot in the chest and the hand by IOF forces. She died of her wounds the same day.

Hamdan, a fisherman, "was seriously wounded by shrapnel from live bullets throughout the body, when IOF gunboats positioned opposite to Rafah seashore opened fire at a fishing boat on which Barhoum and two other fishermen were sailing." He died from his wounds on December 21.

So much publicity for prisoner Gilad Shalit when Israel's prison system exists as a "component of a system of control that is illegal and immoral to begin with, a system of military occupation that is based on disposessing and destroying Palestinian society."

Decimation of Palestinian society has been ongoing for sixty years by Zionist ideologues and what we're force fed from a mainly ignorant, gutless and culpable press are stories about "introverted" Gilad and interviews with his French immigrant father.

Israel's occupation soldiers, from whose ranks Gilad Shalit comes, will continue to kill fishermen and little girls, as the real stories go unmentioned from a media clogged by Zionist sewage.

Monday, January 01, 2007


LA Times Publishes Perfect Letter Exposing Zionist Injustice

Today's Los Angeles Times published this great letter in response to a clueless story extolling a well off American Jewish fundamentalist kid's "aliyah" to historic Palestine. We are definitely making progress . . . more and more op-eds and letters are appearing in mainstream US papers which reflect the truth about the injustice and havoc wreaked upon historic Palestine by the racist Zionist ideologues. Happy New Year!

Returning to an ancestral land

January 1, 2007

Re "Heeding a call to duty, Jews move to Israel," Dec. 26

Thank you for the article discussing Yonatan Cooper, an American who is emigrating to Israel. We frequently hear about Muslim and Christian fundamentalists, but it is not often that we encounter reporting on Jewish fundamentalism, and can explore how different their values are from those of mainstream Americans, and how this type of fundamentalism affects the situation in the Middle East.

The Times tells us that Cooper's decision was "grounded in a deep passion for his ancestral land," a concept that is alien to me since I harbor no passion whatsoever to whatever lands my ancestors called home. The Times also informs us that Israel's Law of Return allows Jews from anywhere in the world to "return" to a land they might have never seen and denies native-born Palestinians the right to return to their birthplace. It seems to me that the reason why the conflict in the Middle East has festered as long as it has is because Jewish fundamentalists think that they have rights that other people don't. Imagine if the rest of the American population thought it had the right to return to its ancestral homelands and displace the native-born population living there. What a mess the entire world would be.

Newport Beach

I wrote to the LA Times also and am certain that my efforts effected somewhat the publication of Ana Sanchez's letter since the LA Times got a good impression of reader sentiment on its story. That's why it is so important to write, even if letters seldom get published. I also write to reporters if their e-mails are available and provide pertinent websites and information for their edification. This is one of the most important functions in which those of us in the west may engage. Reach out to the mainstream; the future for Palestine's children depends on it.


Dear Editor:

"Heeding a call to duty, Jews move to Israel" extolls privileged American Jews who make "aliyah" to Israel in order to fight in Israel's army. Readers would not know that the army American Yonatan Cooper heralds, according to the UN, has killed 819 Palestinian kids since the beginning of the second Palestinian Uprising in 2000.

Readers would also not know that while privileged, sports car owner American Yonatan Cooper is free to immigrate to Israel, ethnically cleansed Palestinians, many of whom hold deeds to their personal property confiscated by Israel in 1948, are denied their inalienable right (Article 13, Section 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) to return to their villages and homes; instead living in crowded refugee camps routinely bombed by Israel's occupation Army.

Readers also are not informed that many of these privileged Americans are moving to illegal settlements, built on land confiscated from their rightful owners since 1967. Seventy-two out of eighty Palestinian shops have closed on the Bethlehem-Jerusalem Road since the construction of Israel's apartheid Wall, forcing many Palestinians to emigrate from their centuries old villages, while European and American Jewish settlers in Har Homa, an ugly illegal settlement built on Bethlehem's last pine forest, plan to build a "theme" church to reap profits from the tourist trade.

It saddens me to see stories heralding outright theft, bigotry, and crimes against humanity. It saddens me that during this holiday season "the other side of privilege," as Palestinian-American artist, Samia Halaby refers to the victims of Zionism, is so woefully absent from your report.





Heeding a call to duty, Jews move to Israel

By Teresa WatanabeTimes Staff WriterDecember 26, 2006

Yonatan Cooper had a hot new sports car, a swank apartment near Beverly Hills and a job he loved in politics. But this week, the 24-year-old New Jersey native plans to trade it all in for a choice that has startled some of his closest friends and family:He has decided to emigrate to Israel and aims to serve as a paratrooper with the Israel Defense Forces.

Along with more than 200 other North American Jews, Cooper will board a plane today in New York and prepare to make Israel his new home.

The flight will mark a milestone for the sponsoring organization, Nefesh B'Nefesh, which will have sent 10,000 emigrants since launching itself five years ago to encourage North American Jews to move to Israel.

For Cooper, the decision was grounded in a deep passion for his ancestral land and a powerful call to duty prompted by a tragic event. Earlier this year, a good friend, a fellow American Jew who served as a paratrooper with the Israel Defense Forces, was killed in action during the conflict in Lebanon. Cooper said he felt that he needed to take his friend's place.

"I'm proud to be an American," said Cooper, who worked for the Los Angeles office of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel advocacy organization. "But at the same time I feel I want to move to Israel in these troubled times. I don't ever want to look back and say there was something I could have done to ensure the safety and security of Israel … and know throughout my life that I didn't do it."

Jews call it "aliyah," a Hebrew term that literally means ascent and refers to Jewish emigration to Israel. The concept is deeply embedded in Jewish culture, religion and politics as a foundation of Zionism, a tenet of Israel's Law of Return, giving automatic citizenship to all Jews, and a wish expressed in Passover Seders and daily ritual prayers.

Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, chairman of Jewish law and ethics at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said some observant Jews regard aliyah as a biblical mandate.

That's because some of the tradition's 613 commandments can only be performed in Israel, such as raising food on Israeli land and sharing it with priests and the poor, he said.

Although Jewish law over the issue remains in dispute, Adlerstein said he personally believes that God is beckoning Jews to move to Israel and that he considers it a "personal failure" that he has not yet done so. But one of his children has made aliyah, and Adlerstein said he continues to hope that he will also eventually make the move as well.

Jewish migration to Israel has peaked and waned, often depending on the level of persecution Jews have suffered in Europe and elsewhere. The largest recent surge occurred in the early 1990s, when nearly 400,000 people from the former Soviet Union moved to Israel, followed by a significant but smaller number from Ethiopia.

Since renewed Palestinian-Israeli violence began six years ago, however, the number of emigrants to Israel has dropped markedly, from 61,542 in 2000 to 19,200 as of November this year, according to Israeli government statistics.

During the same period, however, the number of emigrants from North America slowly but steadily increased by nearly 50%, to nearly 3,000 this year.

Unlike other emigrants, many of whom fled persecution and discrimination in their home countries, North Americans tend to be motivated by dreams of spiritual fulfillment or idealistic longing to help build up the relatively young Jewish state, said Nefesh B'Nefesh spokesman Charley J. Levine, who lives in Israel.

Levine said his organization's assistance with jobs, housing, schooling and even monetary grants has helped many American Jews make the move. The nonprofit organization operates offices in New York, Israel and Britain.

"We were created on the premise that tens of thousands of American Jews would consider moving to Israel if the hurdles were made a little lower," said Levine, 54, a Texas native who made aliyah nearly three decades ago.

Levine said 99% of the 10,000 emigrants his group has helped bring to Israel have stayed. So far, most of them have been religiously observant, but Levine said his aim was to broaden the appeal of aliyah to all Jews, even the secular.

For them, he said, the chance to make a discernible difference in a young country could be one attraction. Living as a majority member of society — seeing Hanukkah candles in every window rather than Christmas lights, for instance — could be another.

"We want to change the entire model of how American Jews look at us — that we're not just what a small minority of very fervent people do," Levine said.Mark Margolis, 54, may represent that new kind of emigrant. A West Hollywood accountant, Margolis grew up in Britain as a nonobservant Jew who celebrated major holidays but has not regularly attended synagogue services since his bar mitzvah four decades ago.

Today, he will board a plane with his wife, Kandi Abelson, and move to Israel. They hope to open a clinic specializing in reiki, a form of energy healing developed in Japan.

Margolis said his life here had become "staid and not very exciting." So when a friend urged him to do something he had always dreamed about, Margolis took the plunge. As a young man fired up by the Zionist movement in the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, he said, he had dreamed one day of doing something to help Israel.

"This is the fulfillment of a 30-year-old dream," Margolis said. "I'm older and wiser now and can't go out and dig ditches. But the country can still use new blood, and that's what I want to give."



Happy New Year

No Justice, No Peace. This American woman arrived in historic Palestine on December 27, 2005, while the true heirs of the land remain in refugee camps, which Israel loves to bomb.

Unlike the Palestinian refugees, this woman has no deed and she has no key to personal property, but she's privileged because she's Jewish. She's also bereft of morals since she has no qualms about living on stolen land; she has no qualms about all the perks afforded to her, while elder Palestinians may not be buried in their ancestral villages, hundreds of which were demolished by Zionists in 1947 and 1948.

This woman has no qualms about living in an area that was ethnically cleansed which makes her an accomplice to a war crime.

This woman has no regard for international law or human rights since she's chosen to live in a country that refuses to implement Article 13, Section 2, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Everyone has a right to leave his country and return to his country.

Don't ask me or any self-respecting person to utter "Israel has a right to exist."

Israel has no right to exist as a Jews preferred and Jews privileged state.

Israel has no right to exist as long as it refuses to implement UN Declaration 194 which says that any refugee willing to leave at peace with his neighbors must be allowed to return home immediately.

Israel has no right to exist as long as it institutionalizes racist and discriminatory laws.

Israel has no right to exist as long as its inhabitants insist upon the racist notion of maintaining a Jewish majority.

Israel has no right to ask the Palestinians to acknowledge its right to exist. It is the height of audacity to ask a people who have been ethnically cleansed from their homes, whose villages have been demolished and their names changed, whose landscape has been altered, and whose culture has been systematically destroyed to acknowledge that there is anything right about this heinous crime.

Resolve in 2007 to focus on Palestine. The enemy is dissembling, powerful, and canny.

However, it is easy to wage war with the simple truth. We are champions for human rights, the most basic is the God given right to live in one's home.

Israel has always feared the truth which is why they employ thousands in their dissembling "hasbara" campaign. People who demand human and civil rights for the true heirs of Palestine and demand justice for the poor people in refugee camps are smeared as hateful. Amazing, isn't it? Israel bombs refugee camps and then demonises their inhabitants and their champions. Israel's bombs have their limitations, however, and will prove ultimately futile. An ideology with racist underpinnings can not sustain itself indefinitely.

Enjoy once again Ghassan Kanafani's short story, "Land of Sad Oranges," a story of dispossession and loss. Kanafani was killed by Israel's Mossad when he was only thirty-two. He was a brilliant writer and was killed for speaking about Palestine, and he was killed for his intelligence. However, he has gained world renown, and his message lives despite a brutal, racist government's efforts to quell it.

When we had to leave Jaffa for Acre there was no sense of tragedy. It felt like an annual trip to spend the feast in another city. Our days in Acre did not seem unusual: perhaps, being young, I was even enjoying myself since the move exempted me from school... Whatever, on the night of the big attack on Acre the picture was becoming clearer. That was, I think, a cruel night, passed between the stern silence of the men and the invocations of the women. My peers, you and I, were too young to understand what the whole story was about. On that night, though, certain threads of that story became clearer. In the morning, and as the Jews withdrew threatening and fulminating, a big truck was standing in front of our door. Light things, mainly sleeping items, were being chucked into the truck swiftly and hysterically. As I stood leaning against the ancient wall of the house I saw your mother getting into the truck, then your aunt, then the young ones, then your father began to chuck you and your siblings into the car and on top of the luggage. Then he snatched me from the corner, where I was standing and, lifting me on top of his head, he put me into the cage-like metal luggage compartment above the driver's cabin, where I found my brother Riad sitting quietly. The vehicle drove off before I could settle into a comfortable position. Acre was disappearing bit by bit in the folds of the up-hill roads leading to Rass El-Naqoura [Lebanon].

It was somewhat cloudy and a sense of coldness was seeping into my body. Riad, with his back propped against the luggage and his legs on the edge of the metal compartment, was sitting very quietly, gazing into the distance. I was sitting silently with my chin between my knees and my arms folded over them. One after the other, orange orchards streamed past, and the vehicle was panting upward on a wet earth... In the distance the sound of gun-shots sounded like a farewell salute.

Rass El-Naqoura loomed on the horizon, wrapped in a blue haze, and the vehicle suddenly stopped. The women emerged from amid the luggage, stepped down and went over to an orange vendor sitting by the wayside. As the women walked back with the oranges, the sound of their sobs reached us. Only then did oranges seem to me something dear, that each of these big, clean fruits was something to be cherished. Your father alighted from beside the driver, took an orange, gazed at it silently, then began to weep like a helpless child.

In Rass El-Naqoura our vehicle stood beside many similar vehicles. The men began to hand in their weapons to the policemen who were there for that purpose. Then it was our turn. I saw pistols and machine guns thrown onto a big table, saw the long line of big vehicles coming into Lebanon, leaving the winding roads of the land of oranges far behind, and then I too cried bitterly. Your mother was still silently gazing at the oranges, and all the orange trees your father had left behind to the Jews glowed in his eyes... As if all those clean trees which he had bought one by one were mirrored in his face. And in his eyes tears, which he could not help hiding in front of the officer at the police station, were shining. When in the afternoon we reached Sidon we had become refugees.

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