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Thursday, November 29, 2007


Zionists Dismember Palestine 60 Years Ago Today

Receive what cheer you may:
The night is long that never finds the day. Macbeth

No longer is it so easy for Zionists to vilify Palestinians and fool those in the west that the obstacle to peace sixty years ago was the Palestinians' refusal to accept partition. Who wouldn't? Who in his or her right mind would hand over a land to recent immigrants who owned at the most seven percent of it? Walid Khalidi writes about partition below. Thankfully, today, his solid writing on the topic may be disseminated electronically and the Zionist spin handily countered.

Going on sixty years in exile, Palestinians and their supporters with dignity, clarity, passion, and courage struggle for their people in refugee camps and under occupation. Susan Abulhawa said on Fox News today, "We are not children of a lesser God." And, although I experienced a bit of a rush to see headlined on the Guardian's main page "State of Israel Could Disappear," I quickly sobered contemplating the ugly reality that Israelis sacrifice Palestinians daily to the altar of their Demographic god.

My day was immeasurably brightened by an anonymous commentator who quotes Palestinian poet and patriot Kamal Nasir:

Kamal Nasir always taught us hope, despite the devastating darkness all around us, light shall emerge at the end...In his very words :" We are still in realms of the East a pregnant miracle where history shall witness its unfolding victory..."

Many excellent writings appeared today; I've linked to just a few below.

From Isabelle Humphries

As is the case for all Palestinian refugees, the group knows that the fundamental hope of the community rests not in results of one particular legal struggle, but in educating the new generation to struggle for their basic rights, the right to have access to their ancestral land of which they were unlawfully dispossessed.

Highlighting 1948 dispossession in Israeli courts

From Susan Abulhawa

Even more vulgar is Israel’s insistence that we recognize its right to be a state of the Jewish people. This country that stole everything from us – our homes, our holy places, our trees and farms, our institutions, our history and heritage, the cemeteries where our grandparents and forefathers are buried – because we are not the right kind of human in their eyes. They want us not only to attest that such an affront to humanity is legitimate and appropriate, but that it is somehow a right!

"A" Is For Apartheid or Annapolis

From Kathleen and Bill Christison

They talk about thawabit, unchangeable principles -- meaning a refusal to give in on positions that are the very essence of the Palestinian struggle. One young activist, after an evening spent talking about grassroots resistance and about the need to remain firm -- "unchangeable" -- on fundamental issues such as the right of return, came back to a subject we thought we had exhausted and said he wanted to say one more thing about the importance to Palestinians of the right of return: you invalidate the entire Palestinian cause, he said, if you give up this right. It would take the center away from the Palestinian cause and the entire Palestinian experience. It will not be abandoned.

Fantasy Versus Reality in Palestine-Israel

From Walid Khalidi

Palestinian Opposition to Partition

"On 29 November 1947 the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution recommending the partition of Palestine into a Jewish state, a Palestinian state, and a special international regime (corpus separatum) for Jerusalem and its environs; an economic union would be set up between the Jewish and Palestinian states. The Palestinians and other Arabs were as stunned as the Zionists and their sympathizers were jubilant. The very reactions of each side belied the claim that partition was a compromise solution. The member states that championed and endorsed partition did so in the full knowledge of bitter Palestinian and Arab opposition to it. The Palestinans had lost some four thousand lives fighting partition from 1937 to 1939. Since its creation the Arab League had been warning against partition. The UN partition plan was based on the Zionist plan that President Truman had endorsed as early as August 1946. From the Palestinian perspective, partition was Zionist in provenance and conception, and tailored to meet Zionist needs and demands. That the UN resolution won 33 votes to 13, with 10 abstentions and one delegtion absent, was largely due to the enormous pressure brought to bear by the United States (including the personal intervention of President Truman) on member states to vote for it. To be sure, the Soviet Union voted for partition also, but only in order to end British rule in Palestine. Significanty, no African or Asian state voted in favor except Liberia and the Philippines. India, Pakistan, Turkey, and Afghanistan all voted against, while China abstained. Many Latin American countries (including Mexico) abstained. Even the Canadian representative was heard to say that his country supported partition "with a heavy heart and many misgivings."

"Partition was seen by the Palestinians as imposing unilateral and intolerable sacrifices on themselves. The reasons for their opposition were the same as in 1937, except that the UN partition plan gave the proposed Jewish state 50 percent more territory than the 1937 plan had. The area of the Jewish state according to the UN plan would actually be larger than that of the proposed Palestinian state (5,500 square miles as compared with 4,500 square miles) at a time when the Jews constituted no more than 35 percent of the population and owned less than 7 percent of the land. Within the proposed Jewish state, Jewish landownership did not in fact exceed 600 square miles out of the total area of 5,500 square miles. Nearly all the citrus land (equally divided in ownership between Jews and Palestinians), 80 percent of the cereal land (entirely Palestinian-owned), and 40 percent of Palestinian industry would fall within the borders of the proposed Jewish state. Jaffa, the Palestinian state's major port on the Mediterranean, would be altogether cut off from its hinterland, and Gaza would lose its traditional links with the wheatlands of the Negev. Hundreds of villages would be separated from communal fields and pastures. The Palestinian state would lose direct access both to the Red Sea and to Syria. The economic union between the two states, on which partition had been postulated, was know beforehand to be impracticable. The patchwork of subunits into which partition would divide the country bore little relationship to the human and social realities on the ground. "

Khalidi, Walid. Before Their Diaspora: A Photographic History of the Palestinians 1876-1948. Washington DC: Institute For Palestine Studies, 1991.

1. Evan M. Wilson, Decision on Palestine (Stanford, Calif.:Hoover Institution Press, 1979), p. 127.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Palestinians Threaten Zionism's Supremacists

Lovely to look at, delightful to . . . think again. Palestinian artist, Emily Jacir, is a threat to Israel's existence as a Jewish state.
Sugar and Spice and everything nice, NOT!! They may look like little girls to the uninitiated, but they are actually threats to the existence of Israel as a Jewish state . . .

When You are old and full of sleep . . . you're still a threat to Israel's existence as a Jewish state. Hanya el Kurdi Ashdod has endured forced exile away from her home for sixty years . . .

She's a threat to Israel's existence as a Jewish state although they kinda like the embroidery . . .

Pray Hard and you will be forgiven for threatening Israel's existence as a Jewish state.

Identifiable Threat.

He doesn't know it yet. But he's a threat to Israel's existence as a Jewish state.

No longer a threat. Iman Al Hams, along with 971 other little threats killed since September 2000 by Israel's settlers and soldiers.


Right of Return: Inalienable, Individual, Non-Negotiable

Comment left on Soumaya Ghannoushi's "Chasing A Ghost"

It is certainly the inalienable and non-negotiable individual right of our mothers and fathers and their descendents to return to the villages and towns in which many of their families have lived for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Dr. Salman Abu Sitta has written about the feasibility of the Palestinians' return.

The desire to return home is not limited to Muslim Palestinians. Beloved poet and Palestinian patriot, Kamal Nasir, a Christian, assasinated by Ehud Barak in 1973, addresses exile and return in this excerpt from "Kamal Nasir's Last Poem,"

Tell my only one, for I love him,
That I have tasted the joy of giving
And my heart relishes the wounds of sacrifice.
There is nothing left for him
Save the sighs from my song...
Save the remnants of my lute
Lying piled and scattered in our house.
Tell my only one if he ever visits my grave
And yearns for my memory,
Tell him one day that I shall return
--to pick the fruits.

Do your worst.

Here we shall stay.

We guard the shade

of Olive and fig.

Tawfiq Zayyad

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


On Annapolis: I wish that Kamal Nasir Were Alive . . .

If my songs should reach you
despite the narrow skies around me,
remember that I will return to life,
to the quest for liberty,
remember that my people may call on my soul
and feel it rising again from the folds of the earth.

Letter to Fadwa, Kamil Nasir

I Wish that Kamal Nasir Were Alive (27 November 2007)

(words in italics by Kamal Nasir)

As we shudder, and our cheeks grow pale
I wish that Kamal Nasir were alive

telling a story, telling

A story that lived in the dreams of people
A story that comes out of the world of tents

A story of degradation and wounds

I wish that Kamal Nasir

touched by visions of his people
(For his people's dreams were his shrine)

were alive to speak of the wounds of oppression,

of a handful of refugees
Every twenty of them a pound of flour
And promises of a relief...

gifts and parcels

Today there is nothing left for us

Save the sighs from your song...

Today there is nothing left for us

Save the remnants of your lute

Lying piled and scattered in our house.

Today there is nothing left for us

Save your letter to Fadwa
When you asked her to remember,

that my people may call upon my soul
and feel it rising again from the folds of the earth

Today there is nothing left for us

Save your promise to your only one,
your only one yearning for

your memory

Save your promise
that you shall return

Save your promise
that you shall return

Save your promise
that you shall return

--to pick the fruits.

WAPO Extolls War Criminal, Vilifies Poet
Putting Kamal Nasir in Context
Kamal Nasir, The Story
Kamal Nasir, Fighting on the Side of Beauty


A Foundation not an Afterthought: Upholding International Law at Annapolis

REF.: 29.2007E
26 November 2007

A Foundation not an Afterthought: Upholding International Law at Annapolis

Joint Letter to Negotiating Parties by Palestinian Civil Society Organisations*

As Palestinian human rights and civil society organisations, we the undersigned, are deeply concerned by the lack of a clearly articulated legal framework for the upcoming diplomatic negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to be held at Annapolis on 27 November. While the process of negotiation is inherently political, the legitimate demands of the Palestinian people to dignity, territorial sovereignty and self-determination as enshrined in binding international law may not be made the subjects of negotiation.

Following 40 years of occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, and numerous rounds of failed diplomatic initiatives, international law must at last be understood to be the essential over-arching framework for negotiations. International law not only provides a means of dispassionately assessing Israel’s existing policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), but also limits the discretion of the negotiating parties, and their sponsors, in deciding certain fundamental issues. Under the terms of Article 4 of the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949 (the Fourth Geneva Convention), the Palestinian civilian population of the OPT are “protected persons.” By virtue of this status, they are entitled to certain protections that may not be undermined or disregarded in political agreements. This is clearly set forth in Article 47 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which establishes:

Protected persons who are in occupied territory shall not be deprived, in any case or in any manner whatsoever, of the benefits of the present Convention by any change introduced, as the result of the occupation of a territory, into the institutions or government of the said territory, nor by any agreement concluded between the authorities of the occupied territories and the Occupying Power, nor by any annexation by the latter of the whole or part of the occupied territory.
This provision seeks to address the obvious imbalance of power between the occupied and the occupier in any negotiation process. It recognises that an Occupying Power can, by virtue of its occupation, seek to legally validate through “negotiation” the unilateral imposition of facts on the ground that violate international humanitarian law and harm the civilian population. As noted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in its authoritative commentary to the Fourth Geneva Convention, there is in the case of occupation, “a particularly great danger of the Occupying Power forcing the Power whose territory is occupied to conclude agreements prejudicial to protected persons.” This danger is clearly present in the context of the current negotiations, and is most obvious in relation to Israel’s settlement policy.
Throughout the 40 years of the occupation, Israel has used its effective control over the OPT to implant some 149 settlements, currently home to over 470,000 settlers, which control over 40% of the West Bank, including essential agricultural and water resources. The current planned route of the Wall will incorporate some 69 settlements, home to 83% of the settler population, on 12.8% of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, that will remain on the western side of the Wall. Under Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, an Occupying Power is prohibited from transferring parts of its civilian population into occupied territory. Israeli settlements in the OPT are in flagrant violation of this prohibition. Further, the construction and expansion of settlements, and their associated infrastructure, requires the extensive appropriation and destruction of property, and severe movement restrictions which are further violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law.
In March 2006 Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated his intention to make the Wall the new border of the State of Israel, incorporating settlements in the OPT and annexing Palestinian land. To accept Israel’s retention of the settlement blocs as part of a negotiated solution clearly deprives the Palestinian civilian population of the benefits of the Fourth Geneva Convention, as it would validate Israel’s violations thereof. As such any agreement recognising the settlements is in flagrant violation of Article 47.

In the event that negotiations were to lead to recognition of Israeli settlements in the OPT as part of the State of Israel, this would amount to the endorsement of the acquisition of territory by force. The illegality of the acquisition of territory by force is a norm accepted and recognised by the international community as a peremptory norm of international law -- a norm from which no derogation is permitted.

The right of all peoples to self-determination is also considered a peremptory norm of international law. The retention of settlements and their associated infrastructure by Israel would not only amount to the illegal annexation of territory, but would also fragment the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, into isolated geographical units. This would severely undermine the meaningful exercise by the Palestinian people of their inalienable right to self-determination by limiting the possibility of a contiguous territory and the ability to freely dispose of natural resources, both of which are required for the meaningful exercise of this right.

Under Article 53 of the Vienna Convention on the Laws of Treaties, “a treaty is void if, at the time of its conclusion, it conflicts with a peremptory norm of general international law.” This therefore casts severe doubt on whether a negotiated solution that accepts Israel’s retention of settlements and de facto annexation of territory would be valid under international law.

Other State parties accessory to the negotiations are also obliged to duly consider their international law obligations in relation to these negotiations. Under common Article 1 of the Geneva Conventions, the High Contracting Parties “undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances.” As specified by both the ICRC and the International Court of Justice (ICJ), this provision entails an obligation on all State parties, whether or not they are a party to the specific conflict, to take all possible steps to ensure that the provisions of the Convention are respected. In respect of the current negotiations, it is important to note that the ICJ, in its Advisory Opinion on the Wall, found all States to be under “an obligation, while respecting the United Nations Charter and international law, to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law as embodied in [the Fourth Geneva] convention.” Similarly, and as also noted by the ICJ, under customary international law all States have the duty not to recognise or to assist in the creation or maintenance of illegal situations. Such illegal situations would clearly include the acquisition of territory by force, the denial of the right to self-determination and the construction of settlements in occupied territory.
To date, all diplomatic initiatives have ignored international law as the essential foundation of any solution to Israel’s occupation of the OPT, thereby allowing for the proliferation of violations. To cite but a few examples, in spite of former negotiations, Palestinians saw, inter alia, the imposition of draconian movement restrictions and unrestrained settlement construction and expansion, during the Oslo Process. Similarly, since the “Road Map” was initiated in 2002, Palestinians have seen the further entrenchment and expansion of settlements and the unilateral creation of a de facto border between Israel and the would-be Palestinian state through the building of the Wall.

Most recently, on 19 September 2007, Israel declared the Gaza Strip an “enemy entity,” and began the imposition of further sanctions on the already beleaguered Palestinian civilian population therein. Having no basis in international law, the designation of the Gaza Strip as an “enemy entity” represents a clear effort by the Israel, the Occupying Power, to negate its responsibility for the welfare of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip under the terms of Fourth Geneva Convention. The sanctions, which further exacerbate an already dire humanitarian situation, further amount to unlawful reprisals and the collective punishment of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.

In this context, we urge the parties to approach the upcoming negotiations with a renewed sense of purpose, giving due recognition of the international legal obligations incumbent upon them, including UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions addressing Palestinian refugees. The task which they face is a heavy one, as any final agreement must reflect a commitment to the principles of international law, justice in addressing wrongful acts, and respect for human rights. The fundamental rights of the Palestinian people are matters of binding international law, not political bargaining chips. Their implementation must not be left to Israel’s beneficence, but rather established as the foundation of any just and durable solution to the conflict.

Al-Dameer Association for Human Rights in Gaza
Addameer Prisoner’s Support and Human Rights Association
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
Defence for Children International – Palestine Section
Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center
Palestinian Center for Human Rights
Palestinian Counselling Center
Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO)
Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies
Women’s Studies Center

*The letter was sent on 26 November 2007 to key negotiating parties including the President of the PNA, the Israeli Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, and EU and UN Officials.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


All rights reserved for those expelled from their homes

Women's Testimonies of the Nakba Video

The headline of this blogpost appears at the end of this video.

Featured Video: Women's Testimonies of the Nakba (2006)***Third Prize, Badil Film Competition***Palestinian women recount the stories of the Nakba in their villages.

Raneen Geries (Zochrot) Arabic with English subtitles10:00 min., 16.6 MB

Friday, November 23, 2007


No Deal is Best Which Compromises Rights

Comment left in response to "The Best Deal on Offer":

Dr. Haidar Eid gets to the heart of the matter in "Annapolis Meeting: The Institutionalizaation of Racism":


"Article I of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states clearly that 'All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.' It does not, however, say 'with the exception of Palestinians.' But we, 11 million Palestinians, know very well that we are the exception to that rule. Whether we are 'Israeli Arabs,' 'Arabs of the occupied territories', or Diasporic Arabs, we cannot have the same rights as those of 'all human beings.'"

He states further:

"Unlike Palestinians, Black Africans are considered human beings, and therefore, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights applies to them."

He writes that the Annapolis meeting is an effort to institutionalize racism by offering one-third of the Palestinian people, those of Gaza and the West Bank "3 to 4 truncated Bantustans with a chief that we can call president." He states further that Annapolis hopes to succeed in "order to practically change the meaning of Article I of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by making the victim her/himself accept the status of lesser than an animal."

The Annapolis meeting will also not address the one-third portion of the Palestinian people who are refugees, which is covered by Article 13, Section 2, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and return to his country."

For further reading about the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, please see Dr. Salman Abu Sitta's earlier story for Comment is Free:

And do not underestimate the commitment and steadfastness of millions of Palestinian refugees expressed in this poem by internally displaced Issa Chacour from Bir'im, a village within Israel; many of its villagers watched as Israel bombed it in the early fifties, a village in which the original inhabitants may not live, but may be buried:

Your people, Bir'im have not died
And will not forsake a grain of sand from you
As long as you have men like these
As long as you have men like these
Who continually strive for justice


Many among the Palestinians not willing to make peace with those who deny their rights in their homeland and who are not willing to acknowledge that immigrants from the UK, from the US, Europe, South America, etc., have more right to live in Jaffa than our fathers and mothers and their descendents.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Annapolis Meeting: The Institutionalization of Racism

By: Dr. Haidar Eid


Article I of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states clearly that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It does not, however, say “with the exception of Palestinians.” But we, 11 million Palestinians, know very well that we are the exception to that rule. Whether we are “Israeli Arabs,” “Arabs of the occupied territories”, or Diasporic Arabs, we cannot have the same rights as those of “all human beings.” Others have the right to life, work, security, health, movement, democracy, education, electricity, water, medicine, food, love, marriage…etc. We don’t.

Any attempt to understand the rationale behind what is essentially a case of blatant violation of fundamental human rights, what Jimmy Carter, Desmund Tutu, John Dugard and many others call apartheid, is faced with accusations of anti-Semitism, a weapon used to silence voices calling for justice in the Middle East. The possibility of having peace with justice is far from realization what with the hermetic medieval siege imposed on 1.3 million already impoverished population of Gaza, and the slicing of the already sliced West Bank. The impossibility of the realization of the national dream of one third of the Palestinian People has brought forward the embarrassing question of the rights of the remaining two thirds, namely the dispossessed refuges living in miserable camps in other countries, some of which treat them like animals, and the third-class citizens of Israel.

What is the Palestinian cause if not the right of return of the refugees, those inside and outside Palestine? Is there a slight possibility of having ‘peace’ in the Middle East without resolving this question? If, as the Geneva Initiative signatories claim, there is a way of finding a ‘just solution’ that does not include their return, does that guarantee a just comprehensive peace? Is that not a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? But ideology has its own way, especially when it is powerful, one that represents the interests of racial supremacists. The Whites of apartheid South Africa defined the institutions of the country as democratic—albeit white democracy, i.e. by and for whites only. Native Africans never recognized the ‘white nature’ of that country. The idea of defining the country as exclusively white and democratic at the same time was never accepted by the international community. It was considered blatant racism. Unlike Palestinians, Black Africans are considered human beings, and therefore, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights applies to them.

That is precisely what the call for the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state means. Forget about 5 million refugees scattered all over the world as a result of the process of ethnic cleansing that accompanied the establishment of Israel; and don’t even mention the cultural and national rights of 1.3 million Palestinian “citizens” of Israel itself. According to this formulation, the Palestinians are only those who live in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The Middle East conflict, in case you don’t know, will be resolved if the latter are given a flag and 3 to 4 truncated Bantustans, with a chief that we can call a president. The Annapolis meeting is NOT going to deal with the refugees’ issue, NOR will it call for an end to blatant racism exercised against “Israeli Arabs;” NOR will it call for the eradication of the apartheid wall being constructed in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. So why is the Annapolis meeting being held? In order to practically change the meaning of Article I of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by making the victim her/himself accept the status of lesser than an animal. That is the ultimate goal that Vervoordt and Bhota, and other architects of Apartheid, failed to do in 42 years. Are Bush, Olmert and Blair going to succeed?

* Associate Professor in English Literature, Al-Aqsa University, Gaza.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Right of Return Foundation of 'Freedom, Justice, and Peace'

No one in the comments section of Comment is Free was writing on behalf of the Palestinians inalienable right of return in response to Seth Freedman's "Making the First Move." My comment:

The right of return is non-negotiable. Article 13, Section 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country."

"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which turns 60 next year, emphasizes in its opening preamble that 'recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.'"


Palestinians all over the world are patiently working toward realization of their inalienable rights. In London this weekend prominant Palestinians and their supporters are meeting regarding a one state solution:


And please note excerpts from the Final Statement of the Eighth Annual Meeting of the Palestine Right-of-Return Coalition held 1-4 November in Uppsala, Sweden:

"[Coalition] affirm their rejection of all statements on the right of return which aim to confuse and alter its true meaning. The only just solution for the Palestine refugee issue is their return to their original homes and lands.

"Denial of this right will perpetuate this conflict and cause more suffering and anguish. Respect of this right would be an important contribution towards ending one of the major causes of tension and strife in current international relations."


Thursday, November 15, 2007


Charges Dropped Against Last of Los Angeles Eight


Michel Shehadeh
Thursday, November 15, 2007

For the last 20 years, the U.S. government has accused me of being a terrorist. Along with six other Palestinians and a Kenyan, we were dubbed the "Los Angeles Eight" by the media. Our case even made it to the U.S. Supreme Court.
On Oct. 30 - 20 grueling years after the early morning raid in which armed federal agents barged into my apartment, brutally arrested me before my 3-year-old son's eyes, incarcerated me in maximum security cells in San Pedro State Prison for 23 days without bond, and attempted to deport me - the government dropped all charges fabricated against me. The charges involved accusations of aiding a member group of the Palestine Liberation Organization that the government alleged aided terrorism. But Los Angeles immigration Judge Bruce J. Einhorn had ordered an end to the deportation proceedings against us last January because the government failed to comply with his order to disclose evidence that supported our innocence. He called their behavior "an embarrassment to the rule of law."

Why did the U.S. government spend 20 years trying to ban us from this country? Because we tried to educate Americans about the situation facing millions of Palestinians living in apartheid-like conditions under Israeli military occupation. Because we organized fundraisers to provide Palestinians with humanitarian support. And because we attended demonstrations to urge a shift in U.S. policy away from unconditional financial and diplomatic support of Israel.

The government robbed us and our families of the best and most productive years of our lives. For more than 20 years, they vilified us in public without recourse. We'll never be able to entirely erase the negative words and images they manufactured about us. Our case is a stark example, and is different only in degree, from what routinely befalls those who call for equal rights for Palestinians and press for a fair Middle East U.S. policy consistent with international law. In February of this year, two others who advocated equal rights for Palestinians - Mohammed Salah and Abdelhaleem Ashqar - were found not guilty of terrorism charges based in part on evidence provided by Israel and obtained through the use of torture.

President Carter, university professors John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt and Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu face charges of anti-Semitism and shoddy scholarship meant to intimidate, discredit and silence them.

And it may be surprising, but I don't hold a grudge. Throughout this 20-year plus ordeal, we never lost faith that we would win against this political and legal oppression. Not only because of our innocence, but because of the tremendous, unfaltering support that we enjoyed all these years across religious, ethnic and civic communities, and a legal team that did not waver once in its commitment to justice. This incredible support has taught us more about America than we could have learned in two lifetimes; the support of such people who are a living example and a role model for immigrants - to positively engage with the issues facing the country on a daily basis. Struggling to make the place a bit better than when we arrived is what made America home to us. We made that choice, and we're the better for it.

My two American-born sons learned though this experience the meaning of establishing a strong grassroots connection and of getting involved with their community. The words justice, freedom, equality and civil liberties are not words they learned in school that will become empty clichés as they grow older. They are concepts that have real meaning to them, that affect their family and community. They know that they must be vigilantly protected, especially when the issues they advocate are not popular, or at times of war, and conflict, when the first causalities are our basic freedoms - free speech, the right to dissent and to disagree with the government - the very basis of democracy.

From the beginning, we said that our case was a political one and that the government made us victims of a political witch-hunt. We persevered all these years and defeated the attempt to uproot us from our communities, break our families apart, and deport us, because we were innocent. Free at last, we are finally exonerated and it tastes sweet. We will savor the sweetness. And we will use it to fuel our determination to defend the same issues that our supporters defended through us: justice, civil liberties, freedom and immigrant rights. We believe that this is the America for which we continually aspire, the America that is just, here at home and in faraway places - with policies based on fairness, equality, and a shared humanity.

Michel Shehadeh is a research associate in the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative in the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University.

This article appeared on page B - 7 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Sunday, November 11, 2007


June Jordan: Moving Towards Home

I still can't help but be absolutely shocked and stunned yet so very grateful to those Americans who are not afraid to speak truthfully about Palestine.

About June Jordan:

She is among the bravest of us, the most outraged. She feels for all. She is the universal poet.”—
Alice Walker

From Al-Awda's Until Return - Issue 1

Moving Towards Home

by June Jordan

"Where is Abu Fadi," she wailed."
"Who will bring me my loved one?"
New York Times, 9/20/82
(after the 1982 Phalangist/Israeli Massacre of Palestinian Refugees in Sabra and Shatila)

I do not wish to speak about the bulldozer and the
red dirt
not quite covering all of the arms and legs
Nor do I wish to speak about the nightlong screams
that reached
the observation posts where soldiers lounged about
Nor do I wish to speak about the woman who shoved her baby
into the stranger's hands before she was led away
Nor do I wish to speak about the father whose sons
were shot
through the head while they slit his own throat before
the eyes
of his wife
Nor do I wish to speak about the army that lit continuous
flares into the darkness so that others could see
the backs of their victims lined against the wall
Nor do I wish to speak about the piled up bodies and
the stench
that will not float
Nor do I wish to speak about the nurse again and
again raped
before they murdered her on the hospital floor
Nor do I wish to speak about the rattling bullets that
did not
halt on that keening trajectory
Nor do I wish to speak about the pounding on the
doors and
the breaking of windows and the hauling of families into
the world of the dead
I do not wish to speak about the bulldozer and the
red dirt
not quite covering all of the arms and legs
because I do not wish to speak about unspeakable events
that must follow from those who dare"to purify" a people
those who dare"to exterminate" a people
those who dare
to describe human beings as "beasts with two legs"
those who dare"to mop up"
"to tighten the noose"
"to step up the military pressure"
"to ring around" civilian streets with tanks
those who dare
to close the universities
to abolish the press
to kill the elected representatives
of the people who refuse to be purified
those are the ones from whom we must redeem
the words of our beginning
because I need to speak about home
I need to speak about living room
where the land is not bullied and beaten into
a tombstone
I need to speak about living room
where the talk will take place in my language
I need to speak about living room
where my children will grow without horror
I need to speak about living room where the men
of my family between the ages of six and sixty-five
are not
marched into a roundup that leads to the grave
I need to talk about living room
where I can sit without grief without wailing aloud
for my loved ones
where I must not ask where is Abu Fadi
because he will be there beside me
I need to talk about living room
because I need to talk about home
I was born a Black woman
and now
I am become a Palestinian
against the relentless laughter of evil
there is less and less living room
and where are my loved ones?
It is time to make our way home.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


The Other Side of Sderot

Comment I left re a post entitled "The Other Side of Collective Punishment" in the Guardian by once-upon-a-time London stockbroker turned lion for Zion Seth Freedman. In the past three years ten Israelis have been killed by Qassams. In the first week of November, Israel's Occupation Forces killed five Palestinians in Gaza, but in typical weird London stockbroker occupier assumes role of victim mode, Freedman in his ode to Sderot admonishes Palestinians not to play the 'numbers' game.

Gosh, right now a Zionist will accuse me of not being "nuanced," of disregarding the vast "complexities" of the situation, of spouting dogma . . .

The Other Side of Sderot

Sderot was settled by Jews in 1951. According to Walid Khalidi in All That Remains, it along with the settlement of Or ha-Ner, founded in 1957, were established on the village lands of Najd, which means "elevated plain" in Arabic.

Najd's Palestinian villagers, approximately 620 in 1945, were expelled on 13 May 1948, before Israel was declared a state and before any Arab armies entered Palestine (Khalidi 128). According to UN Resolution 194 and also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 13, Section 2, the villagers of Najd have a right to return home to their personal property and to their native village.

Today, according to Khalidi on page 128 of All That Remains, "some old trees grow" on the site of the village. It is "overgrown with cactuses and Christ's thorn and sycamore trees and contans the crumbled walls of unidentified buildings...."

There were 82 houses in Najd. Children went to school in Simsim, two kilometers away. According to Palestine Remembered (http://www.palestineremembered.com) the village has been completely "defaced."

In 1596 Najd's population was 215 (Khalidi 128).

In 1838, Edward Robinson, an American biblical scholar "observed the villagers winnowing barley by throwing it into the air against the wind with wooden forks" [Robinson (1841) III: 260 as quoted in Khalidi 128].

Najd's villagers were mainly farmers and engaged in animal husbandry, according to Khalidi. "Fields of grain and fruit trees surrounded Najd on all sides"(Khalidi 128).
Najd is fourteen kilometers from Gaza. Palestinian Arabs own 12,669 dunums in Najd although Israel refuses to honor their rights to their personal property, and refuses them their inalienable right to return home. In 1945 Jews owned 495 dunums of land in Najd and public lands consisted of 412 dunums (Khalidi 128).

Khalidi, Walid, ed. All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated By Israel in 1948. Institute for Palestine Studies: Washington, D.C., 1992.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Threads of Pride

Palestine Heritage Foundation
From Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
ONE YEAR after the tremendous success of “Sovereign Threads” hosted by the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles, CA, the exhibit “Threads of Pride: Palestinian Traditional Costumes” has opened in the Main Floor Gallery of the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, MI. The exhibit was dedicated on July 12, 2007 with a reception attended by more than 120 museum members and their friends. In her presentation following the reception, curator Hanan Munayyer discussed the history of embroidery, art and crafts in the Middle East dating back to 1500 B.C. “Threads of Pride” will be on view at the museum through Nov. 25, 2007.
This stunning and one-of-a-kind exhibition demonstrates the rich cultural heritage of the Palestinian people. The dresses and embroidered stitched motifs are all that remain from Palestinian villages whose populations were ethnically cleansed during the war of 1948, and later systematically destroyed.
“Threads of Pride” features more than 200 Palestinian artifacts, including more than 30 antique embroidered dresses and ceremonial costumes, along with the accompanying veils, jackets, headpieces and jewelry. Featured as part of the collection of Hanan and Farah Munayyer, the costumes are hand embroidered with silk thread on hand-woven fabrics. They represent all regions of historical Palestine, including Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Al Khalil, Ramallah, Lydda-Ramleh, Jaffa, Gaza and Majdal, and Galilee. Dating back to the 1860s through the 1940s, the dresses were selected for their beauty and rarity.
"Threads of Pride” is a symbolic expression of Palestinian identity—specifically the identity of village women who toiled endlessly to create such masterpieces and wrote this part of their history with a needle and thread. This embroidered “script” containing ancient symbols is the language by which Palestinian culture is being introduced to the rest of the world.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Keeping Palestine Alive

From "A Hard Fruit to Pick," a photo-feature in Palestine Monitor on the Rani family's olive harvest in the Salfit area of Palestine.


"Five": In Memory of Shaden Abu-Hijleh

Photo: Remember Shaden
Story: A poem in memory of Shaden Abdel Qader Al Saleh Abu-Hijleh, on the fifth anniversary of her death

Shaden Abdel Qader Al Saleh Abu-Hijleh - (February 15, 1941-October 11, 2002)

On October 11th 2002, sixty-two-year-old Shaden Abu-Hijleh, a grandmother, peace activist and philanthropist, was murdered in cold blood. Israeli soldiers deliberately shot her without provocation while she was embroidering inside her home in the West Bank City of Nablus. Over 15 hollow-point bullets, which are banned by international law, were shot directly at her and her family, killing her and injuring her husband and son. Shaden was a devout patriot and shared with her Palestinian brothers and sisters the aspiration for freedom and liberation from Israeli military occupation. She worked for Palestinian independence and the preservation of Palestinian national identity on Palestine’s soil. She joined several organizations and associations working for freedom and peace in Palestine and around the world. After her sons and daughter graduated from university, Shaden dedicated her life to achieving political and social justice and became a respected leader in the women’s movement in Palestine. She was an active member of several local and national organizations.

The following poem was written by her son, on the fifth anniversary of her death.


by Saed J. Abu-Hijleh

Five…..Fifteen bullets came out from the beehive

Stung me in the heart

Left me with an endless wound in open air

Five years and the pain is still there…

“Give me a Five” the killer told his partner

"We killed her….”

Blood dripping from his smile

“We killed her and killed her Five!”

“Will they survive?”

One husband and four children are still alive!

Death was not an option after her death

They had to tell her story to a world that is deaf:

If sounds of bullets were not enough

If screams of pain and anger

Mocked by Israeli soldiers’ laughter

Do not make the deaf hear

Then we will etch our souls on hearts made of stone

Hoping the marks will tell the story we want to tell

About a saintly woman who rang the bell

Against the oppression of Israeli hell

Five is the number of fingers on her hand

Each were pointing to the homeland

Five her senses were:

She saw the rainbow arching over our lives

She smelled the wind of the Mediterranean

She touched our souls with her kindness

She tasted her food so that we can enjoy the taste

She heard the voice coming from within and acted with grace

But her sixth was the strongest: she knew!

And her dreams & nightmares always came true!

The Ten Commandments of Israel are now Five:

Thou shall Kill, Kill, Kill, Kill, and Kill

Palestinian blood thou shall spill, spill, spill, spill, and spill

The Commandments of Shaden are now Five:

Thou shall Love, Love, Love, Love, and Love

Every year add more Love to my Love

The followers of Shaden are now more than Five

An army of lovers that shall strive

To liberate Earth from oppression

This is their sworn mission

A war of attrition

Israeli Apartheid will not survive

Five Salaams on your soul

Mama Shaden mother of all

Mama Shaden mother of all…

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