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Sunday, September 30, 2007


God Forbid A Rights Based Solution For Palestinians

God forbid that Israel is not safe for London stockbrokers and a whole panoply of Jewish supremacist immigrants who have the run of the Guardian to peddle their toxic Zionist ideology so let's take out a few more refugees' houses [picture from the latest Israeli "incursion" into a refugee camp] and traumatize their children.

Most recently in Ain Beit Alma Refugee Camp "[Samia Abu Salah's] home was invaded by the military: "We heard noises from below our bedroom. It was the Jews underneath," she recounted, referring to the Israeli soldiers. 'We all moved away, into the stairwell. Then we saw them coming out of the floor, from below,' Abu Salah said. The soldiers had blown up the apartment below, knocking a hole in the ceiling and were climbing upwards."

And God forbid that Palestinian academics speak about their ongoing sixty year plus tragedy to their counterparts in Britain. In a letter to Sally Hunt, General-Secretary of Britain's University and College Union, Dr. Amjad Barham, the President of Federation of Union of Palestinian Universities' Professors & Employees writes:

"We have received with dismay, although not entirely with surprise, your letter of September 28, 2007 to members of the delegation of Palestinian academic trade union members informing them of the decision by the University and College Union's leadership to cancel their speaking tour to the UK to discuss the academic boycott of Israel with their colleagues at universities there. We wish to state clearly that we believe that our British colleagues have been deprived of an opportunity to better inform themselves about an issue which is of concern to conscientious academics and intellectuals the world over. Moreover, we are disappointed to see that the leadership of a prominent organization of academics such as yours has not defended the right of its members to engage in debate on this matter. Open debate and discussion are the foundations of academic freedom, and thus we cannot understand why the door to open consideration of controversial ideas has been so abruptly closed."

God forbid that anyone apprise British academics of the Israeli propensity for shooting school age children whilst in the sanctity of their own classrooms or houses. This past year was relatively calm by Israeli standards; only forty-three Palestinian kids won't get an opportunity to pursue higher education because they were killed by Israel's occupying army, the army of choice for privileged British immigrants to Israel. God forbid Madame Secretary-General Hunt that the following occur in a British classroom:

"Today [2004] a girl named Ghadeer Mukhemar, 10 years old, was shot in the chest while she was sitting at her desk in an elementary school in Al-Gharbi camp in Khan Younis in the south of the Gaza Strip. In Nasser hospital, doctors said the girl was hit with heavy ammunition and is in critical condition. (The girl, Ghadeer Mokheimer, died Wednesday October 13, 2004 of her injuries )

Teachers at the school said that the Israeli occupation forces deployed in the Neve Dekalim settlement fired toward the area without any reason. The other students were extremely frightened by the incident. They left their classes out of fear of being shot as well."

But God forbid that it seep into the consciousness of British academics who must be protected from hearing what their Palestinian counterparts have to say that Israel has murdered 895 kids since September 28, 2000, exactly seven years to the date of the Secretary-General's letter to the Palestinian academics.

God forbid that Britain's academics learn that Israel's immigrants continue to brutalize and traumatize Palestinian school kids:

"'The effects of these military operations at such close quarters have an incalculable impact on the well-being of the young,' said Christopher Gunness from UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

'The children are not studying now, they are frightened. They go to school and draw, colour and read stories,' said Samia Abu Salah, whose children attend UNRWA schools and are taking part in a programme which tries to help the children express their feelings. "

And God forbid that academics fully embrace a simple and just rights based solution for Palestine's violated people:

The three elements of a rights-based solution to the conflict were set out in the July 2005 call by nearly 200 Palestinian civil society organizations for a campaign of boycott, divestment & sanctions (BDS) until Israel complies with international law and:

Ends the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantles the Wall;

Recognizes the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality and;

Respects, protects and promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, lands and properties.

Dr. Barham concludes his letter:

"The best form of solidarity with Palestinians, whether they are academics or ordinary people, is direct action aimed at bringing an end to the occupation and the regime of apartheid in Palestine. Isolating Israel in the international arena through various forms of boycott and sanctions and forcing it to obey international law and respect Palestinian rights is one of the strategies open to international civil society, including members of the academy. We are confident that our British colleagues will begin to realize that true solidarity with Palestinian academics requires a political commitment to bringing about an end to oppression and injustice."

Friday, September 28, 2007


Abbas: Don't Cross the Red Lines

by Khalid Amayreh in occupied East Jerusalem

Like most Palestinians, I don’t count much on Mahmoud Abbas to put up a meaningful resistance to Israel’s persistent attempts to obtain a formal Palestinian recognition of it as “a state of and for the Jews.”

This is why it is extremely important that the Palestinian masses tell this man that he is already going too far in sacrificing vital Palestinian national interests in order to appease the explicitly fascist government of Israel.

A few days ago, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told reporters that he had already received a commitment from Abbas to recognize Israel as “a state of the Jews.”

If true, this means that Abbas has committed an unforgivable strategic blunder affecting millions of Palestinians in the Diaspora and in Israel proper. To be honest, it is even more than a mere blunder, it is a grand treachery of immense historical proportions.

Does Abbas understand what it means to recognize Israel as a Jewish state? Does he understand the implications, the ramifications and direct and indirect repercussions of such an irresponsible feat?

In case he doesn't, he must read the following: Recognizing Israel as a “Jewish state,” let alone “a state of and for the Jews,” implies that the estimated 1.5 million Palestinians citizens of Israel have only a “temporary” or “transient” but not “permanent” right to live in their homes and towns, and that sooner or latter, these “goyim” would have to either emigrate, willy-nilly, or be brutally expelled because they are not Jews.

A third “choice” for the unwanted non-Jewish citizens of Israel would be to accept the status of “wood hewers” and “water carriers” in the service of the master race, the Jews. (This outrage is already advocated by hundreds of fascist-minded but influential rabbis in Israel and north America.)

Indeed, it is amply clear from studies conducted by Zionist research centers and think-tanks that the task of neutralizing Arab demographic growth and preventing it from reaching the 30% threshold, is already one of the most strategic preoccupation boggling Israel’s collective thinking.
Of course, the inherently deceitful Zionist leaders would always seek to cajole naïve Palestinian leaders, such as Abbas, into believing that Israel is a “Jewish and democratic” state and that it would never entertain the idea of expelling its non-Jewish citizens.

But experience teaches us that such assurances have no credibility whatsoever, and that they ought to be treated as rubbish and nothing but rubbish because Zionism is based on the concept of Jewish supremacy just as Nazism was based Aryan supremacy.

After all, Zionism and Nazism came from the same East European fascistic traditions that emphasized bellicosity, racial supremacy, expansionism, megalomania, militarism and hegomonism.

Needless to say, a Palestinian recognition of Israel as “a state of and for all Jews” would effectively imply that Israel, at one point in the future, would have the right to expel large numbers of its Palestinian citizens to an prospective Palestinian entity in the West Bank on the ground that “this land belongs to the Jews and you are not Jewish.”

Then Israel would likely issue an ultimatum to the Palestinians: Either you convert to Judaism and accept Shulhan Aruch as the Law of the Land (in other words accept an inherently inferior slave status) or move to the “Palestinian state!!.”

And in case of protests by the Palestinian leaders of that time, Israel would confront them with a golden document showing that the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas had actually recognized Israel as an exclusively Jewish state.

More to the point, in an ensuing crisis, the international community or much of it, would side with Israel, citing Abba’s or probably Fayad’s “recognition of the Jewish nature of Israel.”
Then, like stupid and ignorant kids, the future Palestinian leaders would seek to remind Israel that “the peace treaty also states that Israel will be Jewish and democratic.”

But Israel would swiftly refute this “wild interpretation,” by asserting that “Jewish” always comes before and overrides “democratic” and that in case there is any incompatibility between “Jewish” and “Democratic,” there should be no illusion as to which comes first.

So, does the great Rais now understand the serious implications of recognizing Israel as a “Jewish state”?

Does he understand now that “recognizing Israel’s Jewish identity” amounts to recognizing that Israel has the right to effect ethnic cleansing of its Palestinian citizens? That it has the right to be racist and discriminatory against non-Jews in general and Palestinian who are Israeli citizens in particular?

Furthermore, the reported promise by Abbas to recognize Israel as “a country of and for the Jews” (all Jews in the world) carries with it another serious implication, namely that Israel, in order to retain its Jewish identity, has an inalienable right to permanently deny repatriation for millions of Palestinian refugees uprooted from their homes following waves of genocidal ethnic cleansing in 1948-49.

In other words, the purported recognition by Abbas of Israel as a Jewish state effectively means decapitation and burial of the right of return for Palestinians exiled in the Diaspora.
This right, for those who still don’t know, is the heart of the Palestinian issue and ignoring it would simply make any possible resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict fragile and lacking in credibility and durability.

This right (the right of return) is fundamental, authentic, and inalienable and nobody under the sun, including Mahmoud Abbas and his aides and hangers-on, has the right to compromise or belittle let alone sacrifice under the rubric of reaching peace with Israel.

Of course, Israel and its numerous mouthpieces around the world will accuse the Palestinians of using the “right of return” as an excuse to reject peace.

But the truth is that Israel’s rejection of the legitimate right of these tormented refugees to return to their homes, seized (effectively stolen) by Jewish squatters from around the world, underscores Israel’s rejection of genuine peace with the Palestinians.

We all know, or should know in case we don’t, that for peace to be real, it must be based justice, human rights and international law. And a peace that is imposed through coercion, blockades, starvation and state terror wouldn’t last long. It would be a fragile truce at best.
Hence, for the sake of real peace which we, the Palestinian people, really need and want as badly as one can imagine, must be based on real justice. And real justice can’t be done without the implementation of the right of return for these miserable refugees who have been waiting to return home for nearly sixty years now.

After all, right comes before might. Otherwise, the world would morph into a huge jungle.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Dr. Haider Abdel Shafi's (1919-2007) Plea for Peace

Dr. Haider Abdul Shafi, prominant and highly respected Palestinian patriot, was buried today in Gaza City. Thousands attended his funeral, including all political factions, a testament to the high esteem in which this physician, human rights activist, and statesman was held.
To the exiled and the occupied we say you shall return and you shall remain and we will prevail, for our cause is just. We will put on our embroidered robes and kafiyehs in the sight of the world and celebrate together on the day of liberation. Dr. Haider Abdel Shafi

Dr. Mustapha Barghouti remarks:

“Dr. Abdel Shafi will remain a beacon of inspiration for us in our struggle for
freedom, democracy and independence for our people.”

The following is Dr. Shafi's famous speech delivered in Madrid in 1991:

Madrid 31 October 1991

In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate. O esteemed audience. Allow me first to extend greetings of thanks and appreciation to the State of Spain, king, government, and people, for hosting this historic conference. I would also like to extend greetings of pride and appreciation for the sons of the Palestinian people who are still struggling for freedom and independence. I will now speak on their behalf to you and the various democratic powers in the world in English.

Mr. Baker, Mr. Pankin, ladies and gentlemen: On behalf of the Palestinian delegation, we meet in Madrid, a city with a rich texture of history, to weave together the fabric which joins our past with future, to reaffirm a wholeness of vision which once brought about a reverse of civilization and a world order based on barmony in diversity. Once again, Christian, Muslim, and Jew face the challenge of heralding a new era enshrined in global values of democracy, human rights, freedom, justice, and security. >From Madrid, we launch this quest for peace, a quest to place the sanctity of human life at the center of our world, and to redirect our energies and resources from the pursuit of mutual destruction to the pursuit of joint prosperity, progress, and happiness.

We, the people of Palestine, stand before you in the fullness of our pain, our pride, and our anticipation, for we long harbored a yearning for peace and a dream of justice and freedom. For too long, the Palestinian people have gone unheeded, silenced and denied. Our identity negated by political expediency; our right for struggle against injustice maligned; and our present existence subdued by the past tragedy of another people. For the greater part of this century we have been victimized by the myth of a land without a people and described with impunity as the invisible Palestinians. Before such willful blindness, we refused to disappear or to accept a distorted identity. Our intifada is a testimony to our perseverance and resilience waged in a just struggle to regain our rights. It is time for us to narrate our own story, to stand witness as advocates of truth which bas long lain buried in the consciousness and conscience of the world. We do not stand before you as supplicants, but rather as the torch-bearers who know that, in our world of today, ignorance can never be an excuse. We seek neither an admission of guilt after the fact, nor vengeance for past inequities, but rather an act of will that would make a just peace a reality.

We speak out ladies and gentlemen, from the full conviction of the rightness of our cause, the verity of our history, and the depth of our commitment. There in lies the strength of the Palestinian people today, for we have scaled walls of fear and reticence, and we wish to speak out with the courage and integrity that our narrative and history deserve. The cosponsors have invited us here today to present our case and to reach out to the other with whom we have had to face a mutually exclusive reality on the land of Palestine. But even in the invitation to this peace conference, our narrative was distorted and our truth only partially aknowledged.

The Palestinian people are one, fused by centuries of history in Palestine, bound together by a collective memory of shared sorrows and joys, and sharing a unity of Purpose and vision. Our songs and ballads, full of tales and children's stories, the dialect of our jokes, the image of our Poems that hint of melancholy which colors even our happiest moments are as important to us as the blood ties which link our families and clans. Yet, an invitation to discuss peace, the peace we ail desire and need, comes to only a portion of our people. It ignores our national, historical, and organic unity. We come here wrenched from our sisters and brothers in exile to stand before you as the Palestinians under occupation, although we maintain that each of us represents the rights and interests of the whole.

We have been denied the right to publicly acknowledge our loyalty to our leadership and system of government. But allegiance and loyaIty cannot be censored or severed. Our acknowledged leadership is more than the justly democratically chosen leadership of all the Palestinian people. It is the symbol of our national unity and identity, the guardian of our past, the protector of our present and the hope of our future. Our people have chosen to entrust it with their history and the preservation of our precious legacy. This leadership has been clearly and unequivocally recognized by the Community of nations, with only a few exceptions who had chosen for so many years shadow over substance. Regardless of the nature and conditions of our oppression, whether the disposition and dispersion of exile or the brutality and repression of the occupation, the Palestinian people cannot be torn asunder. They remain a united nation wherever they are, or are forced to be.

And Jerusalem, ladies and gentlemen, that city which is not only the soul Palestine, but the cradle of three world religions, is tangible even in its claimed absence from our midst at this stage. It is apparent, through artificial exclusion from this conference, that this is a denial of its right to seek peace and redemption. For it, too, has suffered from war and occupation. Jerusalem, the city of peace, has been barred from a peace conference and deprived of its calling. Palestinian Jerusalem, the capital of our homeland and future state, defines Palestinian existence, past, present, and future, but itself has been denied a voice and an identity. Jerusalem defies exclusive possessiveness or bondage. Israel's annexation of Arab Jerusalem remains both clearly illegal in the eyes of the world community, and an affront to the peace that this city deserves.

We come to you from a tortured land and a proud, though captive people, having been asked to negotiate with our occupiers, but leaving behind the children of the intifada, and a people under occupation and under curfew who enjoined us not to surrender or forget. As we speak, thousands of our brothers and sisters are languishing in Israeli prisons and detention camps, most detained without evidence, charge, or trial, many cruelly mistreated and tortured in interrogation, guilty only of seeking freedom or daring to defy the occupation. We speak in their name and we say: Set them free. As we speak, the tens of thousands who have been wounded or permanently disabled are in pain. Let peace heal their wounds. As we speak, the eyes of thousands of Palestinian refugees, deportees, and displaced persons since 1967 are haunting us, for exile is a cruel fate. Bring them home. They have the right to return. As we speak, the silence of demolished homes echoes through the halls and in our minds. We must rebuild our homes in our free state.

And what do we tell the loved ones of those killed by army bullets? How do we answer the questions and the fear in our children's eyes? For one out of three Palestinian children under occupation has been killed, injured, or detained in the past four years. How can we explain to Our children that they are denied education, for schools are so often closed by the army? Or why their life is in danger for raising a flag in a land where even children are killed or jailed? What requiem can be sung for trees uprooted by army bulldozers? And most of all, who can explain to those whose lands are confiscated and clear waters stolen, a message of peace? Remove the barbed wire. Restore the land and its life-giving water. The settlements must stop now. Peace cannot be waged while Palestinian land confiscated in myriad ways and the status of the occupied territories is being decided each day by Israeli bulldozers and barbed wire. This is not simply a position. It is an irrefutable reality. Territory for peace is a travesty when territory for illegal settlement is official Israeli policy and practice. The settlements must stop now.

In the name of the Palestinian people, we wish to directly address the Israeli people with whom we have had a prolonged exchange of pain: Let us share hope, instead. We are willing to live side by side on the land and the promise of the future. Sharing, however, requires two partners, willing to share as equals. Mutuality and reciprocity must replace domination and hostility for genuine reconciliation and coexistence under international legality. Your security and ours are mutually dependent, as entwined as the fears and nightmares of our children. We have seen some of you at your best and at your worst. For the occupier can bide no secrets from the occupied, and we are witness to the toll that occupation bas exacted from you and yours.

We have seen you agonize over the transformation of your sons and daughters into instruments of a blind and violent occupation. And we are sure that at no time did you envisage such a role for the children whom you thought would forge your future. We have seen you look back in deepest sorrow at the tragedy of your past, and look on in horror at the disfigurement of the victim-turned-oppressor. Not for this have you nurtured your hopes dreams, and your off-spring. This is why we have responded with solemn appreciation to those of you who came to offer consolation to our bereaved, to give support to those whose homes were being demolished and to extend encouragement and counsel to those detained behind barbed wire and iron bars. And we have marched together, often choking, together in the nondiscriminatory tear gas or crying out in pain as the clubs descended on both Palestinian and Israeli alike, for pain knows no national boundaries, and no one can claim a monopoly on suffering. We once formed a human chain around Jerusalem, joining hands and calling for Peace. Let us today form a moral chain around Madrid and continue that noble effort for peace and a promise of freedom for our sons and daughters. Break through the barriers of mistrust and manipulated fears. Let us look forward in magnanimity and in hope.

To our Arab brothers and sisters, most of whom are represented here in this historic occasion, we express our loyalty gratitude for their life-long support and solidarity. We are here together seeking a just and lasting Peace, whose cornerstone is freedom for Palestine, justice for the Palestinians, and an end to the occupation of all Palestinian and Arab lands. Only then can we really enjoy together the fruits of peace, prosperity, security, and human dignity and freedom.

In particular, we address our Jordanian colleagues in our joint delegation: our two peoples have a very special historic and geographic relationship. Together we shall strive to achieve peace. We will continue to strive for our sovereignty, while proceeding freely and willingly to prepare the grounds for a confederation between the two states of Palestine and Jordan, which can be a cornerstone for our security and prosperity.

To the community of nations on our fragile planet, to the nations of Africa and Asia, to the Muslim world, and particularly to Europe, on whose southern and neighborly shores we meet today, from the heart of our collective struggle for peace, we greet you and acknowledge your support and recognition. You have recognized our rights and our government, and have given us real support and protection. You have penetrated the distorting mist of racism, stereotyping, and ignorance, and committed the act of seeing the invisible and listening to the voice of the silenced. Palestinians under occupation and in exile have become a reality in your eyes, and with courage and determination, you have affirmed the truth of our narrative. You have taken up our cause and our case, and we have brought you into our hearts. We thank you for caring and daring to know the truth, the truth which must set us all free.

To the cosponsors and participants in this occasion of awe and challenge, we pledge our commitment to the principle of justice, peace, and reconciliation based on international legitimacy and uniform standards. We shall persist in our quest for peace to place before you the substance and determination of our people, often victimized but never defeated. We shall pursue our people's right to self-determination to the exhilaration of freedom and to the warmth of the sun as a nation among equals.

This is the moment of truth. You must have the courage to recognize it and the will to implement it, for our truth can no longer be hidden away in the dark recesses of inadvertency or neglect. People of Palestine look at you with a straightforward, direct gaze, seeking to touch your heart, for you have dared to stir up hopes that cannot be abandoned. You cannot afford to let us down, for we have lived up to the values you espouse, and we have remained true to our cause.

We, the Palestinian people, made the imaginative leap in the Palestine National Council of November 1988, during which the Palestine Liberation Organization launched its peace initiative based on Security Council Resolution 242 and 338, and declared Palestinian independence based on Resolution 181 of the United Nations, which eave birth to two states in 1948, Israel and Palestine. December 1988, a historic speech before the United Nations in Geneva led directly to the launching of the Palestinian-American dialogue. Ever since then, Our people have responded positively to every serious peace initiative and have done the utmost to ensure the success of this process. Israel, on the other hand, has placed many obstacles and barriers in the path of peace to negate the very validity of the process. Its illegal and frenzied settlement activity is the most glaring evidence of its rejectionism, the latest settlement being erected just two days ago. These historic decisions of the Palestine National Council wrench the course of history from inevitable confrontation and conflict towards peace and mutual recognition- With our own hands and in an act of sheer will, we have molded the shape of the future of our people. Our parliament has articulated the message of the people, with the courage to say "yes" to the challenge of history, just as it provided the reference in its resolutions last month in AIgiers and in the Central Council meeting this month in Tunis to go forward to this historic conference. We cannot be made to bear the brunt of other people's "no's." We must have reciprocity. We must have peace.

Ladies and gentlemen: In the Middle East, there is no superfluous People outside time and place, but rather a state sorely missed by time and place. The state of Palestine must be born on the land of Palestine to redeem the injustice of the destruction of its historical reality and to free the people of Palestine from the shackles of their victimization. Our homeland has never ceased to exist in our minds and hearts, but it has to exist as a state on all the territories occupied by Israel in the war of 1967 with Arab Jerusalem as its capital 's in the context of that city's special status and its nonexclusive character.

This state, in a condition of emergence, has already been a subject of anticipation for too long, should take place today rather than tomorrow. However, we are willing to accept the proposal for a transitional stage provided interim arrangements are not transformed into permanent status. The time frame must be condensed to respond to the dispossessed Palestinians' urgent need for sanctuary and to the occupied Palestinians' right to gain relief from oppression and to win recognition of their authentic will.

During this phase, international protection for our people is most urgently, needed; And the de jure application of the Fourth Geneva Convention is a necessary condition. The phases must not prejudice the outcome. Rather, they require an internal momentum and motivation to lead sequentially to sovereignty. Bilateral negotiations on the withdrawal of Israeli forces, the dissolution of Israeli administration, and the transfer of authority to the Palestinian people cannot proceed under coercion or threat in the current asymmetry of power.

Israel must demonstrate its willingness to negotiate in good faith by immediately halting all settlement activity and land confiscation while implementing meaningful confidence-building measures.

Without genuine progress, tangible constructive changes and just agreements during the bilateral talks, multilateral negotiations will be meaningless. Regional stability, security, and development are the logical outcorne of an equitable and just solution to the Palestinian question, which remains the key to the resolution of wider conflicts and concerns. In its confrontation of wills between the legitimacy of the people and the illegality of the occupation, the intifada's message bas been consistent to embody the Palestinian state and to build its institutions and infrastructure. We seek recognition for this creative impulse which nurtures within it the potential nascent state.

We have paid a heavy price for daring to substantiate our authenticity and to practice popular democracy in spite of the cruelty of occupation. It was a sheer act of will that brought us here; the same will which asserted itself in the essence of the intifada as the cry for freedom, an act of civil resistance and people's participation and empowerment. The intifada is our drive towards nation-building and social transformation. We are here today with the support of our people, who have given itself the right to hope and to make a stand for peace. We must recognize as well that some of our people harbor serious doubts and skepticism about this process. Within our democratic, social, and political structures, we have evolved a respect for pluralism and diversity and we shall guard the opposition's right to differ within the parameters of mutual respect and national unity.

The process launched here must lead us to the light at the end of the tunnel. And this light is the promise of a new Palestine-free, democratic, and respectful of human rights and the integrity of nature. Self-determination, ladies and gentlemen, can neither be granted nor withheld at the will of the political self-interest of others. For it is enshrined in all international charters and humanitarian law. We claim this right; we firmly assert it here before you and in the eyes of the rest of the world. For it is a sacred and inviolable right which we shall relentlessly pursue and exercise with dedication and self-confidence and pride.

Let's end the Palestinian-Israeli fatal proximity In this unnatural condition of occupation, which has already claimed too many lives. No dream of expansion or glory can justify the taking of a single life. Set us free to reengage as neighbors and as equals on our holy land-To our people in exile and under occupation, who have sent us to this appointment, laden with their trust, love, and aspirations, we say that the load is heavy and the task is great, but we shall be true. In the words Of our great Poet Mahmud Darwish: My homeland is not a suitcase and I am no traveler.

To the exiled and the occupied we say you shall return and you shall remain and we will prevail, for our cause is just. We will put on our embroidered robes and kafiyehs in the sight of the world and celebrate together on the day of liberation.

Refugee camps are not fit for people who were raised to the land of Palestine in the warmth of the sun and freedom. The hail of Israeli bombs almost daily pouring down on our defenseless civilian population in the refugee camps of Lebanon is no substitute for the healing rain of the homeland. Yet, the international will had ensured their return in United Nations Resolution 194-a fact willfully ignored and unenacted. Similarly, all other resolutions pertinent to the Palestinian question beginning with resolution 181, through resolutions 242 and 338, and ending with Security Council Resolution 681, have until now been relegated to the domain of public debate rather than real implementation. They formed a larger body of legality, including all relevant provisions of international law within which any peaceful settlement must proceed. If international legitimacy and the rule of law are to prevail and govern relations among nations, they must be respected and impartially and uniformly implemented. We as Palestinians require nothing less than justice.

Palestinians everywhere: Today we bear in our hands the precious gift of your love and your pain, and we shall set it down gently here before the eyes of the world and say there is a right here which must be acknowledged-the right to self-determination and statehood. There is strength and there is the scent of sacred incense in the air. Jerusalem, the heart of our homeland and the cradle of the soul, is shimmering through the barriers, of occupation and deceit.

The deliberate violation of its sanctities is also an act of violence against collective human, cultural, and spiritual memory and an aggression against its enduring symbols of tolerance, magnanimity, and respect for cultural religious authenticity.

The cobbled streets of the old city must not echo with the discordant beat Israeli military boots. We must restore to them the chant of the muezzin, chimes of the church, the call of the ram and the prayers of all the faithful calling for peace in the city of peace.

From Madrid let's light the candle of peace and let the olive branch blossom. Let's celebrate the rituals of justice and rejoice in the hymns of truth, for the awe of the moment is a promise to the future, which we all must redeem.

Palestinians will be free and will stand tall among the community of nations in the fullness of the pride and dignity which, by right, belongs to all people. Today, our people under occupation are holding high the olive branch of peace.

In the words of Chairman Arafat in 1974 before the UN General Assembly: Let not the olive branch of peace fall from my hands. Let not the olive branch of peace fall from the hands of the Palestinian people. May God's mercy, peace, and blessings be upon you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


In Memorium: Dr. Haidar Abdul Shafi: 1919-2007

Born in Gaza in 1919; son of Sheikh Muheiddin Abdul Shafi; received his early education in Gaza, secondary education at the Arab College in Jerusalem, graduating in 1936; studied Medicine at the AUB, graduating with a MD in 1943; while in Beirut, joined the ANM; after graduation, worked in the British Government Hospital of Jaffa; joined the Jeish Al-Badiah (Desert Army) of the British Jordanian Army in 1944 as medical officer; returned to Gaza in 1945 and opened a private practice; co-founder and member of the Arab Medical Society since 1945; participated in the first Palestine Medical Congress in 1946; provided medical aid to Palestinian guerillas in the clashes that erupted in the wake of the 1947 UN Partition Plan, then helped in humanitarian relief efforts until UNRWA was established in 1951;left for further studies in surgery at the Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, US, returning in 1954; worked as surgeon at the Tal Zahur Hospital in Gaza; named member of a municipal council installed by Israel during its 1956 invasion/occupation of Gaza, but refused to serve; appointed by the Egyptians as Director for Medical Services in the Gaza Strip, 1957-60, then returned to private practice; first head of the Gaza Parliament’s Legislative Council from 1962-65; member of the first all-Palestinian conference in Jerusalem in 1964, which established the PLO, and elected one of three assistants to chair Ahmed Shuqeiri; member of the first PLO Exec. Committee established in Aug. 1964 and member of the opposition against Shuqeiri; volunteer at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza during the War of 1967; in 1967, temporarily detained by Israel,
in 1969 expelled for three months to Nahal, Sinai, and in Sept. 1970 deported for two months to Lebanon – all for support of PLO activities; founded the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Gaza in 1972 and served as its head since; prevented from leaving Gaza after publicly opposing the 1978 Camp David talks; head of the Palestinian team of the Palestinian-Jordanian delegation to the Madrid Peace Conference in Oct. 1991; led the Palestinian negotiation team for 22 months in the subsequent Washington talks; called for a referendum in the OPT on whether or not to pursue the peace process in Sept. 1992; resigned in April 1993 (over the issue of settlements), then resumed position under pressure but eventually left the Palestinian negotiating team over the Oslo Accords, predicting its collapse from the outset; strong critic of the lack of democracy within the PLO; led a delegation to Tunis in Jan. 1994 to demand that Arafat share power and set up collective leadership; among the Palestinian figures from various political backgrounds who met in Amman in Dec. 1994 to establish the Palestinian Democratic Party; elected to the PLC in 1996 (Gaza Constituency); ran for the post of PLC speaker, but lost to Ahmed Qrei’a by 57-31 votes; became head of the PLC’s Political Committee; walked out of the April 1996 PNC meeting after being denied to express his opinion for not amending the PNC Charter until Israel gave reciprocal recognition; resigned from PLC in Oct. 1997 (effective from 30 March 1998) on the grounds that it lacked real power to change the Palestinians’ situation; initiated unity talks for all factions in Gaza in April 1998; highly respected secular nationalist leader and non-partisan figure in Gaza; founding member of the Palestinian National Initiative (Mubadara), launched in Ramallah in Jan. 2002, together with Mustafa Barghouthi and Ibrahim Dakkak; member of the Birzeit University Board of Trustees; Commissioner-General of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizen’s Rights (PICCR) until 2004.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


American Federation of Ramallah Palestine President: We will not leave!

Palestinian-American women, with roots in Ramallah, Palestine, at the forty-ninth annual American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine Convention in Houston. The women in the top and bottom photos wear traditional dress with the distinct Ramallah styled embroidery. http://afrp.org/album.aspx

From the acceptance speech of Yacoub Zayed, President of the American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine, at its forty-ninth annual convention in Houston:

As Arab Americans we have an obligation to America. It has given us many opportunities, one example being to raise our young ones into educated, dynamic people that we can all be proud of. We repay this debt by being loyal and model citizens. We also have an obligation to our homeland which does not come into conflict with our obligation to the United States.
Our beloved Palestine is under an occupation that is both terrifying and damaging by a force that is so aggressive and cruel that it barely deserves to be called human. I doubt that any occupation in all the pages of world history is as horrifying as the one that began in 1948.
America's greatest power lies in the democratic structures which allow its citizens to voice their opinions and concerns freely, and its gentle heart that liberates those from the struggle.
To quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: "Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. " Having the advantage of living here, it is our duty to resist the occupation in many diplomatic ways. One is to keep a close tie to politicians and others in power that will support our cause.
In the upcoming presidential election I regret to inform you that many of the candidates are fighting over who will get the lucrative Pro-Israeli donations. They speak in front of AIPAC, the Pro-Israeli lobby, and they reap the rewards while they turn a blind eye to the illegal occupation. They say there is no reason to support the Palestinians! We must speak to them, for if we tell our story, they will listen. We need only to look as far as Jimmy Carter, a former U.S. president, to see someone who has listened. Let them hear us through the AFRP.
Also, we need to keep a close kinship with our people and our land in Palestine. And to continue to frequent our country to assert that we have not left, and that we will not leave! We cannot be intimidated; and we must reconnect with our roots.
And from the Federation's Outgoing President, Jamal Jubran, on the occupiers intimidation techniques:
This year I took a delegation to our beloved city of Ramallah for Easter. This was a great trip, and our presence there was a source of suport for our fellow Palestinians living there under the most brutal form of occupation in modern history. We experienced first hand the check points and the suffering and the terrible conditions that affect their lives day to day. We were held up at the bridge by the Israeli authorities crossing from Jordan to the Occupied Territories for more than 6 hours for no apparent reason other than to harass Palestinian Americans so we get discouraged from going back to our homeland. I want to encourage every one who has plans to travel to the homeland to go with the Federation.
From Hathihe Ramallah (This is Ramallah), July, August, 2007, Volume 56, No. 4.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Letter re War on Gaza's children

Dear Editor,

Thank you for publishing Saree Makdisi's "The war on Gaza's children."

According to the CIA's World Factbook the median age in Gaza is 16, with forty-eight percent of Gaza's population 14 and under.

In 1948 and after, Palestinian children died of diseases in the refugee camps which was their lot after Zionists dispossessed them and demolished their villages. Israel sees to it that Palestinian kids subsist on an anorexic diet while their Jewish counterparts all over the world are provided subsidies to immigrate.




The War on Gaza's children

Israel's sanctions are leaving a generation of Palestinian children poorly educated and hungry.

By Saree Makdisi

September 22, 2007

An entire generation of Palestinians in Gaza is growing up stunted: physically and nutritionally stunted because they are not getting enough to eat; emotionally stunted because of the pressures of living in a virtual prison and facing the constant threat of destruction and displacement; intellectually and academically stunted because they cannot concentrate -- or, even if they can, because they are trying to study and learn in circumstances that no child should have to endure.

Even before Israel this week declared Gaza "hostile territory" -- apparently in preparation for cutting off the last remaining supplies of fuel and electricity to 1.5 million men, women and children -- the situation was dire.

As a result of Israel's blockade on most imports and exports and other policies designed to punish the populace, about 70% of Gaza's workforce is now unemployed or without pay, according to the United Nations, and about 80% of its residents live in grinding poverty. About 1.2 million of them are now dependent for their day-to-day survival on food handouts from U.N. or international agencies, without which, as the World Food Program's Kirstie Campbell put it, "they are liable to starve."

An increasing number of Palestinian families in Gaza are unable to offer their children more than one meager meal a day, often little more than rice and boiled lentils. Fresh fruit and vegetables are beyond the reach of many families. Meat and chicken are impossibly expensive. Gaza faces the rich waters of the Mediterranean, but fish is unavailable in its markets because the Israeli navy has curtailed the movements of Gaza's fishermen.

Los Angeles parents who have spent the last few weeks running from one back-to-school sale to another could do worse than to spare a few minutes to think about their counterparts in the Gaza Strip. As a result of the siege, Gaza is not only short of raw textiles and other key goods but also paper, ink and vital school supplies. One-third of Gaza's children started the school year missing necessary textbooks. John Ging, the Gaza director of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, whose schools take care of 200,000 children in Gaza, has warned that children come to school "hungry and unable to concentrate."

Israel says that its policies in Gaza are designed to put pressure on the Palestinian population to in turn put pressure on those who fire crude home-made rockets from Gaza into the Israeli town of Sderot. Those rocket attacks are wrong. But it is also wrong to punish an entire population for the actions of a few -- actions that the schoolchildren of Gaza and their beleagueredparents are in any case powerless to stop.

It is a violation of international law to collectively punish more than a million people for something they did not do. According to the Geneva Convention, to which it is a signatory, Israel actually has the obligation to ensure the well-being of the people on whom it has chosen to impose a military occupation for more than four decades.

Instead, it has shrugged off the law. It has ignored the repeated demands of the U.N. Security Council. It has dismissed the International Court of Justice in the Hague. What John Dugard, the U.N.'s special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied territories, refers to as the "carefully managed" strangulation of Gaza -- in full view of an uncaring world -- is explicitly part of its strategy. "The idea," said Dov Weisglass, an Israeli government advisor, "is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not make them die of hunger."

Saree Makdisi is a professor of English literature at UCLA and the author of "Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation," forthcoming from Norton.
Photo of Gaza schoolgirls from Rafah Today

Thursday, September 20, 2007


CSM Publishes Right of Return Letter


Regarding the Opinion piece on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: I was delighted and relieved to see John Whitbeck's probing piece. Political Zionism is a huge problem mainly because the institutionalized bigotry, injustice, and hate inspired by political Zionism simply is not compatible with real freedom, equality, and the rule of fair and just laws – real democracy.

The Palestinian territories today are being brutalized – harshly oppressed, insulted, impoverished, and fragmented - and the Palestinians need our sympathy, compassion, and understanding.

Our highest priority really must be full respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including but not limited to the Palestinian refugees' sacred and secular right to return: true return, not more forced transfer creating divisive segregation and despair.

Anne Selden Annab
Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Emily Jacir, Palestinian Artist

When I was growing up, art was the one place where I could speak," says Emily Jacir, whose art is both visually and emotionally stunning. Jacir's complex and creative engagement of serious issues has been met with much acclaim and her artwork has been exhibited throughout the world, including at the Whitney Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Born in 1970 to a Bethlehem family, Jacir grew up in Saudi Arabia and attended high school in Italy. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Dallas and her MFA from the Memphis College of Art. Currently, she divides her time between New York and Ramallah.

Beginning her career as a painter, Jacir gradually shifted her focus to conceptual art, where "I use whatever medium I deem necessary to express my idea or concept." Now Jacir works in a variety of media including film, photography, installation, performance, video, writing and sound. She has toured extensively throughout the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East, holding solo exhibitions in places including New York, Los Angeles, Ramallah, London and Linz and participating in group exhibitions worldwide.

We are probably amongst the most discussed, yet most misrepresented people in the world. We are constantly dissected by foreign 'experts' who 'explain' who we supposedly are. People have no problem claiming agency to speak on our behalf. Our narrative, our story is absent from history books. I made 'Memorial to 418 Palestinian Villages which were Destroyed, Depopulated and Occupied by Israel in 1948' in English because I wanted people to be able to read the names and say them out loud and question why they had not heard of those names before."

Emily Jacir's most acclaimed piece is Where We Come From, in which she asked Palestinians around the world "If I could do something for you, anywhere in Palestine, what would it be?" She then documented herself fulfilling the requests for people who are prohibited entry into their own homeland and/or who are restricted from movement within it. These included visiting a mother's grave, playing soccer with a boy in Haifa, and visiting a student's family in Gaza because he is prevented from traveling home while at school in the West Bank.

Other works, such as Crossing Surda (a record of going to and from work), depict the isolation and lack of freedom that are part of her everyday routine in Ramallah. In it, she secretly taped her daily journey through the Surda checkpoint on her way to Birzeit University after being threatened by Israeli soldiers and forced to spend a day standing in the cold winter rain next to one of their tanks.

Jacir's art has appeared in a number of Biennales including the 2006 Sydney Biennale, the 2005 and 2007 Venice Biennales, the 2005 Sharjah Biennial and the 2004 Whitney Biennial. In 2007, Jacir was a recipient of the prestigious Prince Claus Award, an annual prize from the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development, headquartered in The Hague.
Above: Memorial to 418 Palestinian villages which were destroyed, depopulated, and occupied by Israel in 1948. Refugee Tent and embroidery thread. Emily Jacir, 2001.

Monday, September 17, 2007


A Double Standard on Academic Freedom

By George Bisharat

September 17, 2007

Two hundred thousand Palestinian children began school in the Gaza Strip this month without a full complement of textbooks. Why? Because Israel, which maintains a stranglehold over this small strip of land along the Mediterranean even after withdrawing its settlers from there in 2005, considers paper, ink and binding materials not to be "fundamental humanitarian needs."

Israel, attempting to throttle the democratically elected Hamas government, generally permits only food, medicine and fuel to enter Gaza, and allows virtually no Palestinian exports to leave. Lately, it held up delivery of materials needed for printing textbooks. As a result, Gaza students began the year facing a 30 percent shortage of texts.

No full-page advertisements in major American newspapers have publicized Israel's violations of Palestinian children's right to an education. No editors, syndicated columnists or presidents of major universities in this country have denounced this callous measure. Our politicians have demanded no remedial action. Instead, they continue, verbally and materially, to support Israel in its near-total blockade of 1.5 million Palestinians, kids and all.

Israel's trampling of Palestinian students' right to education - the key to a lifetime of opportunity - has rarely evoked official protest from American leaders. The Israeli army has closed Palestinian universities for years at a time. Israeli military authorities have barred Palestinian occupational therapy students from traveling from Gaza to the West Bank to obtain vital clinical training.

Hundreds of Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks can turn a routine trip to a local school into a harrowing ordeal. Israeli gunfire has even killed Palestinian schoolchildren sitting in their classrooms. None of these offenses has merited so much as a congressional resolution, let alone more serious efforts to curb Israeli behavior, such as government-imposed sanctions.

In response to this policy double standard - complete indulgence of Israel on the one hand, and indifference to violations of Palestinian rights on the other hand - a movement has emerged for a citizens' boycott of Israel. Churches, unions and professional associations in the United States, Canada, Europe and South Africa have urged a variety of nonviolent measures to compel Israel's compliance with international law.

American Presbyterians have studied divesting church funds from firms that profit from continuing Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. Unison, the United Kingdom's 1.3 million-member union of public servants, voted in June to boycott Israeli goods. In May, a British union of professors opened a yearlong debate over a possible boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

The latter action provoked particularly indignant protest by Israel's U.S. supporters as an offense against "academic freedom." Yet many Israeli academic institutions either benefit from or participate in Israeli government actions that violate Palestinian rights.

Tel Aviv University sits in part over land belonging to Sheikh Muwannis, a Palestinian village whose residents were expelled by Jewish militias or fled in fear in March 1948. These and other Palestinian refugees have been denied their right to return to their homes or to receive compensation for their seized properties.

Hebrew University in Jerusalem uses more than 800 acres of land illegally expropriated from Palestinian private owners in the West Bank after the 1967 war. Bar-Ilan University has established a branch in an illegal Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

The threatened boycott would target Israeli institutions, not individuals. Thus, formal research and other agreements with Israeli universities would be suspended. But invitations to Israeli professors to join conferences or to publish in foreign journals would continue.

Nonetheless, it is likely that the boycott would impose limitations on freedom for some Israeli academics. Is this fair?

Boycotts are always somewhat blunt tools, and they inevitably impose costs on some who are undeserving of them. That was true of the boycott of apartheid South Africa, which applied to all academics - as well as athletes, businesspeople, artists and others. At the time, the international community weighed the cost to academic freedom against the advancement of justice and equal rights for black South Africans, and the choice was clear.

Two hundred thousand Palestinian schoolchildren are wondering how the world will respond faced with a similar choice today.

George Bisharat, a professor of law at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, writes frequently on the Middle East. His e-mail is bisharat@uchastings.edu.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


No More Massacres: Peace and Dignity in their Own Land for Palestine's Refugees

"When I was younger I thought I would actually be able to help achieve all our aspirations for independence, unity, justice. Many died for those aspirations and things are only getting worse. That, certainly, can
make one despair. But more than ever I feel a sense of duty to do what I have to and can do." Naji Al-Ali, immortal Palestinian cartoonist
In the summer of 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon to destroy the PLO once and
for all. The Lebanon invasion transformed Naji. He witnessed how the country was
invaded by land, sea and air. And how 10 thousands honest Lebanese and
Palestinian Muslims resisted 90 thousand Israeli soldiers with all of their
modern weaponry for 88 days under siege in East Beirut being bombarded by what
is equivalent to the two atomic bombs on Japan. All that happened while Muslim
Iraq was fighting Muslim Iran. While most Arab countries were oppressing their
own people. Arabs and Muslims just stood and watched the Arab capital of light
invaded slowly and painfully, while the world was watching the world cup in
Spain. But it even got worse. The PLO decided to leave Lebanon if Israel
promised that the Palestinian civilian refugees would be safe. Israel agreed but
in September 1982 the Israeli tanks surrounded the refugee camps of Sabra and
Shatiela and stopped anyone getting in or out. The next two days were among the
ugliest in history. 2800 Men, Women and children Palestinian and
Lebanese Muslims were massacred in the streets of camps by guns, knives and
axes. The Israeli and their Christian Lebanese allies took their revenge for
their failure to control Lebanon. The tanks soldiers even used glowing lights at
nighttime because time couldn't be wasted. After the discovery of what happened,
the world was enraged but helpless. Israel reacted to this Nazi style massacre
by admitting its “indirect” responsibility and “punished” Sharon the engineer of
Lebanon occupation and invasion by stopping him for life from being a defense
minister. After, he became the foreign an deputy prime Minster in the
1998, and now, the current prime Minster of Israel.
When Al-Ali, who grew up in Ain Al Hilweh Refugee Camp, and who was an eyewitness to the Sabra/Shatila massacre, feared he would forget the Palestinian cause he created Handala, in his own words, to remember his "lost childhood." Handala is the ten year old refugee boy prominant in most Al-Ali cartoons:
I was scared that I was slipping into the luxury of life, forgetting my
real cause, so I decided to create a character that would represent the honest
Palestinian who will always be on people's minds.
One day when the world wakes up to the fact that a rights based solution is the only solution for Middle East peace, the Palestinian refugees will go home to live in peace and dignity on their own land and will no longer be subject to massacres. Kahlil Gibran said, "Every beauty and greatness in this world is created by a single thought or emotion inside a man."
Al-Ali echos Gibran: "I was prepared to die defending just one drawing, because every drawing is like a drop of water which makes its way through the minds of people."
After the Sabra/Shatila massacre, Naji Al-Ali made Handala's hands more animated, sometimes throwing a stone or lifted in defiance. We honor the lost childhoods of Palestinian children and the lost lives of massacre victims by continuing to educate people about a rights based solution for Palestine's long suffering refugees. Israel, in violation of international law, refuses to solve the Palestinan refugee problem by implementing a rights based solution. Instead, we witness the ludicrous and unjust display of well-heeled Jews from Europe and North America immigrating daily to property which rightfully belongs to Palestinians suffering in refugee camps and subject to massacre.


The Horror. The Horror: Sabra, Shatila

Friday, September 14, 2007


Never forget Sabra and Shatila, Never

By Musa Al-Hindi

August 27, 2005

Beirut, Bourj el-Barajneh- September 16, 1982 - I was 16 year old when I first heard about the Sabrah and Shateelah Massacre. It was a sunny and muggy morning, a typical September day in Beirut, and I was on my way out of Uthman Pharmacy in Bourj el-Barajneh, having bought tranquilizers for my 8 month pregnant mother who was on the verge of a nervous breakdown after 3 months of Israeli bombardment of West Beirut. And only when she thought the worse was over, Israel invaded the city and its southern suburbs, thus ignoring its promises to the US that it would not do so if the PLO fighters agree to withdraw. The Israeli army, according to a statement released by Tel Aviv, had no choice but to invade the city in order to protect its inhabitants from the Lebanese Phalangists who were enraged by the assassination of their leader, Bashir Jimayyel a day ago.

Israel’s occupation of West Beirut did not last long. Israel was no match to the determination of the Beiurutis, and after losing few soldiers and officers at the hands of the underground resistance, the Israeli army decided to withdraw. Tel Aviv was neither ready nor willing to get bogged down in guerrilla warfare in a city of over a million hostile and armed Arabs and Muslims.

However, prior to its withdrawal, Israel, who had always bragged about the IDF’s "purity of arms", precipitated the massacre of 3000 Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians and Egyptians in the camps of Sabrah and Shateelah. Israel has always denied responsibility for the gruesome killings of the men, women, and children of the two camps. Its soldiers might have not participated in the actual killings, but any body who is familiar with the camps and their surroundings, would have no doubt that they could see and hear the screams of the men, women and children who were being executed. After all, the blood orgy carried out by the scavengers of the right-wing Phalangists lasted for two days, and the Israelis had established posts on top of the buildings surrounding the camps.

During the siege of Beirut, which lasted over 60 days, I, like many others who refused to leave the city, had developed a sense of reckless fearlessness. It was a carelessness vis-à-vis death which I had consciously cultivated. It was rooted in a mixture of feelings of defiance, fatalism and religious conviction. Couple of weeks after the beginning of the invasion on June 4 I resolved that I will not permit Israeli bombs to scare me. For the first time in my life I could FEEL the presence of God. As I reflected on my situation it became clear to me that I could not lose. It downed on me: Hey, I told myself, this is a win situation. If I get killed I would be with God. If I don’t, I would have survived the worst that the Jewish state could deliver. The next step was to train myself to get rid of my fear, which I did by strolling purposelessly in the streets of Bourj el Barajneh while the city and its suburbs were being mercilessly bombarded. Sometimes, to the great distress of my grandmother and aunts, I would show up at their doors with bread and/or Arabic sweets, neither of which they needed. But I wanted an excuse to justify being on the streets when everybody else were in bomb shelters (many of which proved useless in the face of state-of- the- art American bombs and missiles. Sometimes I felt as if we were guinea pigs or mice with the American industrial-military complex and its Israeli allies testing their latest weapons on us).

After few days of exposing myself to danger, I succeeded in greatly reducing (rather than completely eliminating) my fear. It was an exhilarating and liberating feeling. What surprised me the most, though, was that, in the process, I had lost my anger, especially towards the Arab states and peoples, who were busy following the 1982 World Cup matches taking place in Spain. (I have to admit, the people of Beirut, most of whom are fans of either Brazil or Germany, also followed the games when there was a break in the fighting. I still remember how the Palestinian and Lebanese fighters stationed at the Boys Secondary School in the al-Ma’morah area of Bourj el Barajneh hooked up a 9-inch black and white TV to a car battery (Israel had cut off electricity) to watch the Brazil-Argentina match. And when Brazil won 3-1, we were all jubilant as if we had liberated Palestine, shooting in the air, while the fans of Germany among the fighters could not hide their fears that their team was no match to the brilliant Socrates, the Brazilian team’s Captain, and his team. Less than two hours later Israeli bombs brought us back to reality.)

Although my triumph over fear outlived the siege of Beirut, my anger did not. It resurfaced with an overwhelming intensity, on either the 16th or 17th of September, as I learned about the Sabrah and Shateelah massacre. It was a former Palestinian fighter who informed me on that fateful morning of the massacre on my way back from the pharmacy with the tranquilizers for my mom. I still remember his face. He was blond. He had a short beard and tired blue eyes. His name was Tarek. He told me and other bystanders that the Israelis and some Lebanese are killing people with knives and hatchets, and that they were killing children and raping women. At first I did not believe him. More accurately, I did not want to believe him. So I went home and turned on the radio. I methodically moved from one station to another: the BBC, Radio Monte Carlo, Voice of America, Voice of Lebanon, Voice of Free Lebanon, Voice of Arab Lebanon, etc....).

It was during the late hours of that evening when I realized that something awful was happening. The sight of "light bombs" illuminating the dark sky over Sabrah and Shateelah confirmed my fears. Only later would the world know that the source of those bombs was the Israeli invaders, who illuminated the sky over the camps so that the scavengers of the Phalangists, some of whom were high on drugs, could see their way around the camps.
I spent the rest of the night on the roof, find to a transistor radio. It was during the early hours of the morning that the Voice of Arab Lebanon began broadcasting eyewitness accounts of the massacre. Reports were reaching it from various sources that a massacre had taken place in Sabrah and Shateelah. The reports were confirmed by other stations. By mid-morning, the official Lebanese station announced that the Israeli army and its Lebanese allies had withdrawn from the camps’ perimeter and that the impotent Lebanese Army and Lebanese Internal Security Forces had taken charge of them. Lebanese and foreign journalists and TV stations poured into the camps.

It was around noon when I decided to go and see for myself. The camps were about 2 miles from Bourj elBarajneh. So I made up my mind to walk. I still remember the route I took: Imam Ali street (where I lived) à Uthman street à Minshiyyeh area à Ba’joor street à Haret Hureik à ghbayri neighborhood à the Airport Boulevard (dweiret al-mattar) à nazlet al-Sifara al-Kuwaitiyyah.

I used the southern entrance of Sabrah. The area was filled with Lebanese soldiers, the Red Cross, the Red Crescent, and a large number of journalists, with their noses covered. As I proceeded, I saw a bullet-ridden, gray donkey, his body covered with flies. Few meters down the road laid the body of an old man. He was dressed as if it was January: a wool jacket over a sweater. He, too, was covered with flies, except one par of his body: a wooden leg. I felt sick to my stomach, but I decided to proceed.

In retrospect, I wish I did not, for what I saw will continue to haunt me for the rest of my life. I saw a middle-aged woman hysterically dancing over a pile of children bodies, pulling her own hair and scratching her face, and singing unintelligibly. I tried to make some sense of her words. The only phrase I could hear was "ya mshaharah ya Subhiyeh." The rest were just unintelligible sounds. A sobbing man, either her husband or brother, I assumed, was trying to make her stop, but without any success. I can still remember her dark, wrinkled and bleeding face, her gray hair and the Hennah on her chin. Next to the pile kneeled a younger woman, with her face buried in the sand. Suddenly she stood up and started to tear the top of her dress, only to be stopped by other women in the crowd.

"Allah Yhidek ya Israel (May God destroy you O Israel)", she screamed. "Allah yihri’ dinku ya ’Arab (May God burn your religion O Arabs)." Another voice in the crowd screamed: "inbisit ya Abu Ammar, sadiqit el-yahud w-el-amerkan" (Be happy Abu Ammar— Yasser Arafat— you believed the Jews and the Americans."

It was at that point that I decided to leave. I could not, nor did I need to see anymore. That was enough. So I left, wiping away my tears. I went back home, sneaked into my mother’s bedroom and helped myself into the bottle of tranquilizers. Few days later my youngest brother, Ali, was born. In retrospect, it was his birth and the frequent times I had spent holding and playing with him that gave me the strength to go on functioning. Ali is almost seventeen-year-old now. He is still my favorite brother even though he is a big fan of German soccer. In many ways I owe my life to him.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Horrors and Inhumanity in the Service of the Jewish State

The following story highlights Israel's despicable methods of recruiting Palestinian collaborators and the inhumane, undemocratic, and inequitable measures it employs in order to maintain its "Jewish" demographics. Because Dalia Basheer's husband, Saed Awad refused to collaborate, Dalia was denied entry to Jerusalem to visit her hospitalized daughter, six, who died ten days later, and Dalia was forced to leave for Jordan, separating her from her husband and her two surviving children.


by Maisa Abu Ghazalah - IMEMC News

Within the space of twenty four hours Dialaia Basheer's life was changed – instead of going to Jerusalem to visit her daughter in hospital she ended up in Amman. This happened when Israeli soldiers at the nearby military checkpoint of Al Zea'im detained her and forced her to leave for Jordan because she did not have a permit to enter Jerusalem.

Dalia's husband, Sa'eed Awad, was told by the Israeli authorities that she would be granted a permit if he agreed to become an informer for Israeli intelligence.

If not Dalia would be either abducted and deprived of seeing her children or forcibly deported to Jordan thereby breaking the family apart.

A'wad told the Palestine News Network that last July despite the fact that their daughter was being treated in the Al-Maqased hospital in East Jerusalem he chose to make his wife to travel to Jordan rather than see her abducted. There was absolutely no way he would agree to become a collaborator.

He added that "My wife was going to the al Maqased hospital to visit our six year old daughter Sadeem. At the military checkpoint she was forced from the vehicle and her Jordanian passport taken from her. Then an Israeli officer called me and told me to come to the checkpoint. Over the phone he told me that unless I agreed to become a collaborator for Israeli intelligence my wife would be kidnapped or she would be forced to travel alone to Jordan the next day. The only choice I could make was allow her to be sent to Jordan even though our situation was very difficult because of anxieties caused by the recent death of my father-in-law and our daughter's illness. He said he feared that the ordeal had contributed to the death of their daughter. She died in hospital 10 days after his wife had been forced to leave for Jordan. It was also terrible that his wife had not been able to be present when she died or take part in the grieving after her death.

A'wad added that he is now living in the nearby town of Abu Dis taking care of his two surviving children who are both suffering as a result of their mother's absence. He went on to say that his wife had not left the Palestinian territories since 1999 and had been waiting for a unification document and a Palestinian identity card. She had not managed to get these because of delays in Israeli procedures.

Al Quds Center for Democracy and Human Rights stated that imposing restrictions on the freedom of movement and place of residence on Palestinians are clear violations of the article #13 of the International Human Rights Declaration of 1948. Each individual has the right to leave any country including his own and return to it. The center had also called for the Israeli government to stop its policy of expulsions and ethnic cleansing which it is carrying out against the residents of East Jerusalem. It also demanded the cessation of all measures and procedures which lead to the separation and dispersal of Palestinian families whether through the construction of the Separation Wall or other methods. Residents and their families should be able to move around freely and be able to live in any part of the Palestinian territories including the city of east Jerusalem.

Translated by Manar Jibrin

Sunday, September 09, 2007


"Colors From Palestine" 2008 Calendar Available Now

Naji Al-Ali's December 2008 illustration for "Colors of Palestine's 2008 calendar and "Survivor of Israeli Missile Attacks, September illustration. The calendar is available now.

The 2008 "Colors from Palestine" calendar is dedicated to the great Palestinian artist, Naji Al-Ali., and features some of his well known cartoons.

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Saturday, September 08, 2007


But Only God Can Make A Tree

To the exiled and the occupied, we say: You shall return and you shall remain and we will prevail, for our cause is just. We will put on our embroidered robes and kafiyyas and, in the sight of the world, celebrate together on the day of liberation. Dr. Haidar Abdul Shafi
photo: San Diego Union Tribune A Palestinian farmer in the midst of his destroyed olive trees.
Throughout the centuries, Palestinian farmers have made their living from olive cultivation and olive oil production; 80 percent of cultivated land in the West Bank and Gaza is planted with olive trees. [1] In the West Bank alone, some 100,000 families are dependent on olive sales. [2] Today, the olive harvest provides Palestinian farmers with anywhere between 25 to 50 percent of their annual income, and as the economic crisis deepens, the harvest provides for many their basic means of survival. [3] But despite the hardships, it is the festivities and traditions that accompany the weeks of harvesting that have held Palestinian communities together and are, in fact, a demonstration of their ownership of the land that no occupation can extinguish except by the annihilation of Palestinian society itself.

And that is precisely what Israel has been doing -- through brute force and far more insidious ways. Read more


Accidents Happen: Israelis Kill 892 Palestinian Kids

When sorrows come, they come not single spies But in battalions. Shakespeare
" . . . on the BBC the Israeli military stated that the killing of Yehya, Mahmoud and Sarah was an accident: 'at the very last second, it was apparent that they were children, but it was impossible to stop the explosion.' There was no mention of holding accountable the soldiers who killed them or at the very least any offer of support to the families and the community. They cannot leave their area, or their land, as they have nowhere else to go. Where's the justice for 12-year-old Yehya and his childhood, or 10-year-old Mahmoud who wanted nothing more than to have the same things as his friend, or 10-year-old Sarah who never got to wear her new school clothes?" Yassmin Moor
Since September 28, 2000, there have been 892 such accidents.

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