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Saturday, May 31, 2008


What does Israel have going on?

Years ago, during the first Intifadah, when Israel closed Palestinian schools, I wrote to the National Education Association, an organization to which I've belonged for twenty-nine years, encouraging them to protest this outrage. I received no reply to my letter, but I did receive a reply from my state association, the Federal Education Association, and for simply the courtesy of a response, I was grateful. In those days, Palestinians were so happy to receive a mere acknowledgement, and I am ever beholden to Jack Rollins, who was the president of Federal Education Association then.

Of all the crap to come out of the occupied territories recently; i.e., sick kids, whose lives are sustained because someone uses a hand pump to provide them oxygen, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera . . . what most shocked me from the panoply of outrages against humanity, was the story which told of the eight students in Gaza who would not get to study abroad on a Fulbright Scholarship because the occupier would not grant them visas.

And I think of my dear Samira, who is so bright; one of her teachers raves that she's the best web designer he's ever seen, and I think about how outraged I would be if this motivated and intelligent kid couldn't go to school because she couldn't travel from Germany, where we live, to the US, where she hopes to pursue her chosen field of graphic design and advertising.

And I can only come to the logical conclusion why it is in the interests of the Zionists to deny Palestinians higher education.

And as a parent, and as an educator, I am f***ing incensed. What does Israel have going on that in order to sustain itself it acts in a manner unbecoming the rankest of barbarians? What does Israel have going on that it denies the fundamental human right of education to the people that it ethnically cleansed from their homes? If Israel had anything going for it, it wouldn't barbarically subdue the indigenous people on the land it usurped. Israel has nothing going on, and as long as I have a breath in my body, and as long as I am free to protest its barbarities, I will expose it for its crimes against humanity.

Israel doesn't want kids to get an education. Think about it, folks.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Palestinian-Americans Celebrate Saturday of Light

Palestinian-Americans, with roots in Ramallah, celebrate Saturday of Light (Sabt al Nur). This is the Saturday before Eastern Orthodox Easter Sunday (pictures from American Federation of Ramallah Palestine website).

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Ongoing Nakba Until Return

Petra Roth, Frankfurts Oberbuergermeisterin; Israel's Ambassador to Germany, Yoram Ben Zeev; Bundestags President, Norbert Lammert; Charolotte Knobloch, Central Council of Jews in Germany; Johannes Gerster, German-Israel Partnership, celebrate the only democracy in the Middle East in Frankfurts Paulskirche.
And, around the corner, Palestinians think about the past and the ongoing Nakba, or Catastrophe, that Israel's democracy bequeathed to them.

To the left is a picture that I took in Frankfurt yesterday. I went there to think about the Nakba with Palestinians and friends of Palestine. We were gathered in the Roemerberg while just footsteps away in the historic Paulskirche, eight hundred invited people gathered, including Bundestag president Norbert Lammert and the Oberbuergermeisterin of Frankfurt, Petra Roth, to celebrate Israel's Sixtieth Birthday. According to several speakers at the birthday bash, Paulskirche was chosen because of its historic link with democracy, Israel being, as we all know, the only democracy in the Middle East.

Although I found several stories in the press about the gala at Paulskirche, as to be expected since several press vans were parked right outside the church, only one TV station mentioned anything about the Gedenken Ueber die Nakba (Thoughts About the Nakba) gathering, and it was not accurate information. It merited one sentence at the end of a birthday bash story:

"Unweit der Paulskirche auf dem Frankfurter Römerberg demonstrierten am Mittwochabend einige Menschen gegen die Besetzung des Gazastreifens durch Israel. Manche Demonstranten trugen palästinensische Fahnen mit sich. "

Translation: Not far from Pauls Church in Frankfurt's Roemerberg a few people demonstated against Israel's occupation of the Gaza Strip. Many demonstators carried Palestinian flags.

Contrary to the reporter, the people gathered were not demonstrators, rather those who had come to reflect upon Al-Nakba, the catastrophe that befell Palestinians not really sixty years ago, more like one hundred and ten years ago when Theodor Herzl, the so-called father of Zionism, wrote in his diary, "Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discretely and circumspectly. "

Were the well-dressed notables in the Church associated with democracy celebrating Herzl's not so democratic words?

And while most of the speakers mentioned Gaza's malnourished children (were the city fathers and mothers in Pauls Church celebrating that?), the main focus throughout the afternoon was reflection upon the five hundred and thirty-one villages Israel wiped out in 1948.

I saw from a distance spiffily dressed waiters and waitresses serving wine to the honorable guests gathered in the symbol of democracy to celebrate the only democracy in the Middle East; maybe the recipients of the elegant repast were toasting the destruction of the villages and the expulsion of its inhabitants that cleared the way for the light unto the nations. A veritable phoenix, except that the so-called Jewish state did not rise upon its own ashes, but on the ashes of a once vibrant Palestinian society.

Around the corner, we remembered the villages, whose names and former population statistics appeared on the stage screen. We also released 531 black balloons with the names and numbers of the ethnically cleansed citizens attached. That was a sad moment for me, heightened by the music of the Palestinian anthem, which took on a mournful tone. I was quite moved by a stirring, impassioned German reading of Mahmud Darwish's Identity Card, was enchanted by the beautiful smile of the Palestinian dancer from the University of Freiburg, and was hopeful because parents brought their children, some products of mixed German and Palestinian marriages.

Young men, old men, veiled women and unveiled women proudly and energetically waved Palestinian flags as we sang the Palestinian National Anthem. A woman spontaneosly sang for the re-unification of the warring political factions. Parents shadowed their playful toddlers, who also waved little flags. This morning I watched a BBC World interview with a seventy-eight year old Gaza refugee. He told of Zionists who at gunpoint forced the expelled refugees to continue walking, forcing them to leave the people who died on the way unburied. But a small price to pay for the tony Paulskirche revelers celebrating and often touting the technological achievements of the democracy.

And while the refugee interviewed is not sure of his prospects for returning home to be buried in the land of his birth (another cause for celebration), he is certain of return. "We will never forget," he says. "Never. We will return. I taught this to my children and to my grandchildren."

'We will forget the bitter days," the poet Issa Chacour, refugee from Kafr Bir'im says. "We will return contented. We will forget the bitter days."

Palestinians are redefining Al-Nakba as not only the catastrophe which resulted in the destruction of Palestinian society as we'd known it, but also as the realization that the catastrophe is on-going, and fighting it by reasserting again and again that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights applies to all people and that those world leaders who celebrate Israel's violation of it are to be condemned in the strongest terms. To that end, the National Committee to Commemorate the Nakba at 60, declared today that there is "no alternative to the right of return."

"After 60 years of expulsion, exile and refuge; after 60 years of international impotence, and the failure of international organizations to enforce their own decisions; and after 60 years of Israeli arrogance, we declare that the commemoration of the Nakba as of today will be nothing but a date to renew our commitment to struggle until we achieve our return to our original homes and lands. We declare the return to be the program of our struggle, and not just a demand, and will continue as such until the end of the Nakba, "whether they like it or not" as Yasser Arafat once said. We shall return."


'I Come From There And I Remember': Al-Nakba Commemoration, Frankfurt


More Photos From Frankfurt's Al-Nakba Reflections Day

Palestinian-German Dancers from Freiburg University

Roberto, Paul, and Ali

Israel is Sixty . . .
Best Wishes,
Angela Merkel


Frankfurt: Thoughts About Al-Nakba

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


531 Balloons Over Frankfurt Commemorate Destroyed Palestinian Villages

Five hundred and thirty one balloons were released over Frankfurt's Roemerberg today to commemorate the villages destroyed by Israel sixty years ago. Each balloon contained a paper with a village name. The paper below says Jahula from the district of Safad. One of the over five hundred Palestinian villages destroyed by Israel. Four hundred and twenty people lived there. 60 Years of Israel = 60 Years of Nakba

Sunday, May 11, 2008


International Conference Addresses Rights of Palestinian Refugees

Date: 2008-04-

Distributed by: Media-Newswire.com

PARIS, 29 April -- Despite the passage of time and the changing of circumstances, the essence of the Palestinian refugee problem was unchanged since 1951, and negotiators would do well to consider the full ramifications of that fact when proposing lasting peace proposals, or else such efforts would be doomed to failure, Michael Fischbach warned the United Nations International Conference on Palestine Refugees this afternoon.

(Media-Newswire.com) - PARIS, 29 April -- Despite the passage of time and the changing of circumstances, the essence of the Palestinian refugee problem was unchanged since 1951, and negotiators would do well to consider the full ramifications of that fact when proposing lasting peace proposals, or else such efforts would be doomed to failure, Michael Fischbach warned the United Nations International Conference on Palestine Refugees this afternoon.

The Professor of history at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, described the history of the refugee problem, and addressed the right of return and the right to compensation and reparation, during a panel discussion with the theme: “Palestine refugees -– the longest running humanitarian problem in today’s world”. The two-day United Nations International Conference on Palestine Refugees was convened at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Headquarters by the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. It will assess the present situation of Palestine refugees and examine the role of the United Nations in alleviating their plight. It will also examine efforts at finding an agreed, just and fair solution to the refugee issue as a prerequisite for resolving the question of Palestine and achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

Salman Abu-Sitta, President of the Palestinian Land Society based in London, exploded some of the myths around the problem of Palestine refugees, including the one that return was not physically possible, or that it might upset the ethnic balance in Israel. He demonstrated that Israel held most of the refugee land in reserve, making the return of the refugees to their homes a practical proposition.

Susan Akram, a Professor at the School of Law of Boston University, said the Palestine refugee problem was not a “humanitarian” but a legal problem, and refuted on a legal basis some of the claims that were often advanced, including the claim that Palestinians had voluntarily left in the war of 1948 so that Israel was not obliged to permit them to return. She said the current international debate focused more on how a Palestinian right of return could be realized without jeopardizing the Jewish nature of Israel, than on whether the right of return existed. Israel, however, had never been authorized by the General Assembly to create or maintain an exclusively Jewish State that discriminated against the rights of other ethnic groups.

Wajih Ahmad Atallah, Secretary, Union of Youth Activity Centres in the West Bank and Gaza, described the social and economic problems facing the Palestine refugees. Daud Abdullah, a researcher at the Palestine Return Centre, in London, explored the history of the United Nations with regard to the Palestinian right of return, while Souheil El-Natour, head of the Humanitarian Development Centre of Palestinians, based in Beirut, described the problems Palestine refugees encountered in the host countries.

Focusing on the theme of “The United Nations and Palestine refugees”, plenary II tomorrow morning will address issues such as the rights of Palestine refugees in international law, the role of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and the rights of the Palestinians displaced as a result of the June 1967 hostilities.

Plenary I: Palestine Refugees –- Longest Running Humanitarian Problem In Today’s WorldThe session focused on: the origins of the Palestine refugee problem –- 60 years of dispossession and tragedy; the demographic distribution of Palestine refugees; and socio-economic problems facing Palestine refugee communities.

MICHAEL FISCHBACH, Professor of history, Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, Virginia, said that, after the 1948 war, Israeli forces ended up controlling 77 per cent of British mandatory Palestine, areas that became the new State of Israel, the remaining 23 per cent being the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Approximately 750,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled by Jewish forces, leaving behind homes, farmland, businesses, farm and business equipment and personal property. The Palestinians’ catastrophe represented a tremendous windfall for Israel, as a Jewish identity of the new State could more easily be established. The provisional Israeli Cabinet voted to bar the refugees from returning to their homes. Another windfall was the vast amount of abandoned property, with a value estimated by the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP) at $825 million in 1948 dollar values. He said that the Government of Israel had stated that it would pay compensation for the refugee land it had confiscated, but that it would not restitute the land to its owners. Communal Arab lands would not be compensated.

The lands, buildings and homes were then used to settle Jewish immigrants. Given its intimate involvement with the events that had led to the refugee exodus -– the 1947 partition plan -– the United Nations had become quickly involved in efforts to stop the fighting and forge peace between Israel and the Arab world. The position of Mediator had been created in 1948. The United Nations then defined the parameters of the refugee problem through passage of resolution 194 (III), which called for refugee repatriation and property compensation, and thus had raised those issues to the level of international discourse. That resolution also created a three-member Conciliation Commission, whose peacemaking efforts in 1950 (the Geneva Conference) and in 1951 (the Paris Conference) failed. After Paris, UNCCP had abandoned its conciliation efforts. It brokered arrangements by which Israel returned frozen bank accounts and items in safe deposit boxes to their refugee owners. The Commission ceased functioning in 1966. Another way the United Nations dealt with the refugee problem had been to address the social and educational needs of the refugees in their exile. The 1949 General Assembly resolution 302 (IV) had created the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In conclusion he said that, despite the passage of time and the changing of circumstances, the essence of the refugee problem, as it had emerged by 1951, remained the same. Negotiators would do well to consider the full ramifications of that fact when proposing lasting peace proposals, or else such efforts would be doomed to failure.

SALMAN ABU-SITTA, President, Palestinian Land Society in London, said it had been 90 years since colonial Powers, including Zionism, conspired to dismember Palestine and scatter or eliminate its people. Before that, Palestine was a typical Arab country, with a minority of Jews that did not exceed 9 per cent of the population. Twenty-eight years of British mandate changed everything. The British Administration put in place the framework for an Israel, complete with its separate structure and army, ready to be proclaimed in 1948. In 1947, the United Nations, in its infancy, was persuaded to split Palestine in two States, where immigrant Jews would have sovereignty over 55 per cent or 10 times their maximum holdings during the mandate. That was the trigger for the Palestinian refugees’ dispossession.

He said that half of the total Palestine refugees had been expelled in that period, before any Arab soldier could intervene. The expulsions continued after 15 May 1948. Seven months later, 78 per cent of Palestine had been conquered and 85 per cent of its inhabitants had become refugees. That was Al-Nakba. Using slides to show, among other things, the global distribution of the Palestinians, he said that refugees constituted three quarters of the Palestinian people. After 60 years of war and occupation, 88 per cent of Palestinians still lived in or in close proximity to historic Palestine.There was a thick cloud of manufactured notions to mislead the world, he stated, namely that return was not physically possible, or that it might upset the ethnic equilibrium in Israel -– an obviously racist concept. Using slides, he demonstrated that most of the land in Israel from which Palestine refugees had fled was still sparsely populated, making the return of the refugees a physical possibility. The slogan of “ Israel as a Jewish State” was meant for the world, and for the Palestinians in particular, to accept that Israel was entitled to deny the refugees the right of return and to authorize Israel to expel its own Arab citizens if Israel considered them a “demographic time bomb”, which was a blatantly racist and morally repugnant notion.

SUSAN AKRAM, Professor, Boston University School of Law, Boston, Massachusetts, said the Palestinian problem was not a “humanitarian” refugee problem but an international protection crisis. At its core, it was a legal problem she said as she took issue with some common Israeli claims, beginning with the claim that Palestinians had voluntarily left in the war of 1948 so that Israel was not obliged to permit war refugees to return. Humanitarian law, however, made no distinction between forcible or non-forcible displacement in guaranteeing war refugees their right to return to their homes. The argument that Palestinians had been part of an “exchange of populations” misconstrued historical records. There was no historical support for the notion that there was an “exchange” of populations with the mutual consent of the individuals or States involved. Where involuntary transfers of populations had taken place, they had been universally considered illegal under international law. She said Israeli academics and others maintained that the right of return under article 12 (4) of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) supported a Jewish right to “return” to Israel, but not a Palestinian one, as the latter were not “nationals” of Israel under Israeli law. However, ICCPR was not the only human rights treaty incorporating a right of return. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and many other international and regional human rights instruments also included provisions on the right of return. The weight of authority was that the rights in the universal instruments –- the Universal Declaration and ICCPR –- granted a habitual resident of territory the right to return to his/her precise place of origin, regardless of current nationality or citizenship status. The instruments also made no distinction between individual or mass return. It was often argued that General Assembly resolutions, unlike Security Council resolutions were nonbinding, and that there was no Security Council resolution calling for a Palestinian right of return, she said. However, Assembly and Council resolutions dating back more than 50 years had affirmed and reaffirmed the right of return for refugees to their homes in every part of the world. The language of resolution 194 must be understood in light of the state of international law existing at the time. Paragraph 11 meant that Palestine refugees must be permitted to return if they so chose. The principles of restitution and compensation had been understood to be in conformity with the prevailing principles of international law. The law of reparations at the time had already been grounded in custom, treaties and a Permanent Court of International Justice decision. That reading of 194 was consistent with refugee law principles in general, as recognized and implemented by States and international organs. Israel had consistently claimed that resolution 194 as an Assembly resolution had no binding authority, but had relied on Assembly resolution 181, the partition resolution, to justify its very creation and existence as a “Jewish State”. Israel, however, had never been authorized by the Assembly to create or maintain an exclusively Jewish State that discriminated against the rights of non-Jews. It was critical to reorient the discourse to one based on actual rights as opposed to claims based on myths, and to explode the hypocritical use of law as available to one group of people involved in the conflict, but not the other.

DAUD ABDULLAH, researcher, Palestine Return Centre, London, said that, faced with claims that resolution 194 never mentioned a Palestinian right of return, the Assembly affirmed in 1969 (resolution 2535 (XXIV) B) that the problem of the Palestine Arab refugees had arisen from the denial of their inalienable rights under the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Resolution 3236 of 1974 reaffirmed the national inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in Palestine, including the right to self-determination without external interference. Paragraph 2 of that resolution also reaffirmed the right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and property from which they had been displaced and uprooted, and called for their return. Resolution 3236 therefore described the right of return as “inalienable”, meaning that it was absolute and permanent and could not be surrendered or otherwise terminated. He said none of the relevant peace accords signed to date had attempted to recognize and preserve Palestinian rights. The problem was to be resolved among States such as Egypt, Israel and Jordan. The very notion that the Palestinian return had been made dependent on agreement meant that Israel had been effectively granted a veto in the matter. Sixty years after the Nakba, the gap between the Israeli and Palestinian positions remained as great as they had been in 1948. One thing was certain, however, in the minds of all those caught up in that tragedy. There could be no end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict without a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem; that was to say, the return of the refugees to the homes and villages from which they had been expelled. Ultimately, the resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem was the direct responsibility of the international community and the United Nations in particular. The right of return as envisaged for the refugees was one that must be reaffirmed and implemented. It was not a privilege or favour that required debate and concession by a reluctant benefactor. Israel believed that the right should be defined and bargained for in secret by politicians. With the unqualified support of the United States, it had turned all negotiating efforts into a one-sided affair in which a politically weak and disadvantaged Palestinian side was forced to contend with a domineering Israeli-American alliance. That imbalance must be neutralized with the participation of other international parties such as the United Nations, the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference and the European Union. A failure to adopt that course would ignite the inflammable mix of the impoverished, desperate and vulnerable youthful population in the camps.

SOUHEIL EL-NATOUR, head, Humanitarian Development Centre of Palestinians, Beirut, said the number of Palestinian refugees had increased and, over 60 years, new laws had been adopted that had a large impact on the lives of the refugees. The ethnic cleansing that had started in 1948 had not ended, and was continuing today. There was an additional Israeli practice, namely the cancellation of the residence permit for all those who had left Jerusalem. Numerous refugees had left the Occupied Palestinian Territory to work in Kuwait, for instance. When they were expelled in 1991, they could not return to Gaza or Jerusalem, because they had no identification cards. It was quite natural that the host countries changed their attitudes towards refugees when the right of return was not realized, he said. When the problem started to affect the country’s security and economic situation, the host countries started to push out the refugees. When Israel prevented the return of refugees, it had created a tense and sometimes violent relationship between refugees and the host countries. He said the issue of naturalization created a problem between the host country and the refugees. Palestine refugees were against naturalization as they wanted to protect their identity and their right to return. The question was whether there was a true will worldwide to treat Israel like any other country, or whether double standards continued to be applied. Palestine refugees in Iraq were being kidnapped, and attacked by different militias, their houses destroyed. Palestinians who had fled the Iraqi volcano had been put in camps in the middle of the desert in Syria or Jordan. Only 100 of them had been welcomed by Brazil.In Lebanon, Palestinian refugees had been welcomed but only given the right of residence, he said. They did not have the right to work, did not enjoy social security coverage, and had no right to education or health care in public hospitals. Sometimes the word “refugee” was legally questioned, but the daily life of a refugee was very difficult.

Describing social and economic problems facing the Palestine refugees, WAJIH AHMAD ATALLAH, Secretary, Union of Youth Activity Centres in the West Bank and Gaza, said the 60 years that had passed since the Nakba had seen numerous, varied and changing laws that had had far-reaching effects on every Palestinian. Palestinians had lived under the law of the British mandate and then the law of the Israeli occupation. They had been subject to refugee laws of host countries in addition to the rules of UNRWA and the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli occupation had stretched the bonds of Palestinian society socially and economically. The social fabric had been damaged as the families had been broken apart. Giving examples, he said the laws and practices of the occupying Power had nullified development programmes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and hampered private-sector investment and reconstruction. More than 1,800 military laws issued between 1967 and the signing of the Oslo Accords had covered land use, water resources, the movement of people, and other aspects in the social, economic and political spheres. Today, those laws were exemplified by the siege, collective punishment, extrajudicial killings, control of water and productive resources, confiscation of land, isolation, separation and arrests. That had pushed the Palestinian refugees into a state of permanent anxiety and depression about their future. They were tired of constantly hearing about international law, human rights and hopes for peace. They had internalized the conviction that everything going on around them was meant to cheat and subjugate them, even the activities of UNRWA which were perceived as being hostage to political manipulation by outside Powers.

The consequences of price rises in global markets were keenly felt in the life of the refugees, with an individual income of not more that $2 a day. The year 2006 saw 35 per cent of students from the refugee camps leave their university studies. The dropout rate for elementary-school students had also increased, which had led to new social problems such as child labour, theft, road accidents, and vandalism, as well as to new occupations, including the collection of scrap metal. The disappearance of private and governmental institutional facilities to engage the energies of children and youth with extracurricular activities was creating a noticeable crisis in their lives. Preventive measures could blunt the impact, but the problem could only be solved by the end of the occupation and the return of the refugees to their homes and possessions.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Shaping More Powerful Arguments For Palestine

General View of Nablus (Matson Collection Before 1920)
by Anne Selden Annab
Annie's Letters
Following the lead of many others, in "Sinkable Israel," Ayman El-Amir writing for Al-Ahram(1) compared the plight of the Palestinians to that of the Native Americans... Sinkable Israel, would sink much faster if Arab writers realized that they undermine their own arguments by trying to equate the devastation of early Native American communities to modern Israel's barbarically modern and intentional ethnic cleansing of historic Palestine.
Zionist propaganda makes Israel float. Zionists want Americans to believe that "Israel" is a worthy and a necessary investment. You don't need to convince Arabs (or Muslims) that racist Israel is wrong- you need to convince all the taxpayers and charities in the West, especially Americans, that Israel is really is a rogue nation in long term and flagrant violation of international law and the Palestinians basic human rights.
Early America was not at all like Palestine. First and most obviously, Palestine was not an isolated island totally untouched by the influence of long established trade routes as well as various alphabets and manuscripts- book learning. Palestine was a well known place, with known written history as well as many stone buildings including ancient (or at least old) churches, mosques, synagogues, schools, businesses as well as permanent homes (2). Palestine, just like
America one hundred years ago, had both urban as well as rural communities.
When Zionists began to invade Palestine, the people of Palestine had the ability to read and write (primarily in Arabic), they had books and they knew all about paper, glass, metal and other such crafts that help enhance the quality of life in many ways, as well as the rule of law.
Palestinians had door keys, whereas in Early America, there were no door keys, nor were there land deeds- in fact there were not even horses. Horses were introduced by Spanish settlers in the sixteenth century, very much revolutionizing travel, trade, hunting and tribal warfare.
Gallop up to 1776 and the official founding of the USA with our Declaration of Independence and the emergence of our Constitution with our Bill of Rights: Think about the very real potential for real freedom, equality, and prosperity for all people, including those now known as Native Americans, that was able to eventually emerge from "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America..." (3)
When the USA was first founded, women had no vote, nor did blacks or Native Americans. Those really were primitive times- worldwide. However our basic laws and ideals have enabled women, blacks and native Americans to gain legal rights, freedoms, economic opportunities, respect and relative security, whereas racist Israel's basic laws and policies ensure that the people of historic Palestine will continue to be harassed, oppressed, demonized and displaced in a continuing Nakba that has already targeted and destroyed countless Palestinian men, women and children, because they have been deemed the 'wrong' religion by the misnamed "Jewish State" that has been dividing and destroying historic Palestine for the past 60 years.
The rule of fair and just laws is a good foundation for any nation: The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 (4) gave United States citizenship to Native Americans, while halfway around the world, the ink was still relatively fresh on Balfour's formal endorsement of early Zionism on the condition that "nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine"(5).
"In his diaries, Herzl made it clear that “the existing landed property was to be gently expropriated, any subsequent resale to the original owners was prohibited, and all immovables had to remain in exclusively Jewish hands. The poor population was to be worked across the frontier ‘unbemerkt’ (surreptitiously)… This population was to be refused all employment in the land of its birth… In 1901, the 5th Zionist Congress founded the Jewish National Fund. According to the by-laws of the JNF, acquired land became inalienable Jewish property and could no longer be sold or leased to non-Jews...”(6)
Never ever forget that when Israel declared itself a sovereign state in 1948, Native Americans legally had full and equal rights in America, plus tribal rights. Time lines are important to keep in mind. In equating the two very different tragedies in hopes of gaining American sympathy for the Palestinian cause, you actually prevent Americans from more fully understanding the escalating catastrophe that has been created by modern "Israel."
Never ever forget that in today's world, unlike even 100 years ago, we now have international law and known words coined to firmly condemn genocide. We also have the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from 1948 (7) which clearly states in Article 1:
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
This year, this month of May, as our gardens bloom with spring flowers, this year is the 60th Year of Al-Nakba and Struggle to Return: Palestine 60 Years of Forced Exile (8). It is Time For Return (9). It is logical--it is legal--it is moral--it is right.

(1) El-Amir, Ayman. "Sinkable Israel." http://weekly/. ahram.org. eg/2008/895/ op2.htm
(2) Palestine Remembered http://www.palestineremembered.com/Khalidi, Walid. Before Their Diaspora: A Photographic History of the Palestinians 1876-1948. Washington D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1991.
(3) Preamble to the Constitution of the United States http://www.ushistory.org/documents/constitution.htm
(4) Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 http://www.nebraskastudies.org/0700/frameset_reset.html?http://www.nebraskastudies.org/0700/stories/0701_0146.html
(5) Balfour Declaration of 1917 http://www.yale/. edu/lawweb/ avalon/mideast/ balfour.htm
(6) Sakhnini, Nizar. "The Zionist Project in Palestine: Colonial Settlement, Land Robbery and Ethnic Cleansing,"
7 October 2005, http://www.al/- awda.org/ zionists3. html(7) Universal Declaration of Human Rights http://www.un/. org/Overview/ rights.html
(8) The 60th Year of Al-Nakba and Struggle to Return http://www.al-awda.org/convention6/index.html
(9) Al-Awda Fact Sheet The Right To Return, a Basic Right Still Denied* http://www.al-awda.org/facts.html
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Monday, May 05, 2008


Giant Key Represents Inalienable Right of Return

A Palestinian child walks past a mural for the Palestinian Nakba (Day of Catastrophe) in the Aida refugee camp near the West Bank town of Bethlehem May 4, 2008. Palestinians mark the Nakba as a day of mourning for the establishment of Israel in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war which led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. The Mural reads "Oh my homeland. All the birds have homes, and only free birds die away from their homeland".REUTERS/Mahfouz Abu Turk (WEST BANK)

Palestinians manufacture a giant symbolic key, as they prepare to mark the 60 year anniversary for the Palestinian Nakba (Day of Catastrophe), in the Aida refugee camp near the West Bank town of Bethlehem May 4, 2008. Palestinians mark the Nakba as a day of mourning for the establishment of Israel in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war which led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.REUTERS/Mahfouz Abu Turk (WEST BANK)

Sunday, May 04, 2008


Mothers call for Mother's Day boycott of Israeli settlement-builder Leviev

Mothers call for Mother's Day boycott of Israeli settlement-builder Leviev
May 2, 2008

To sign on to the boycott call email: info@adalahny.org

M'azuza Abu Rahmeh, a mother from Bil'in, explains, "I hope that on this important day for mothers that no women in the world will have to live through this type of experience and that instead they will live with their families and homes, in security and peace."

Halima Husain, a mother from Jayyous, adds, "I hope that free people around the world will boycott Israel's occupation and will not support businesses of wealthy Israelis like Leviev who is building the settlement of Zufim, and that they will stand with us to lift this shadow and darkness that hangs over the Palestinian people."

With our governments failing to act, the only way to end the suffering of Palestinian mothers and their families is to boycott Israeli companies like Leviev's that profit from the illegal activities of land confiscation and settlement construction. No diamond is worth the destruction of people's lives. This Mother's Day support mothers like Halima Husain, and M'azuza Abu Rahmeh from Bil'in, along with their children. Boycott Leviev.

As mothers from New York City and from around the world, we stand with Palestinian mothers from villages like Jayyous and Bil'in and call on New Yorkers to boycott Lev Leviev's Madison Avenue jewelry store every day, but especially on Mother's Day. Leviev is exploiting this holiday in honor of mothers, the third biggest jewelry shopping period annually in the US, to sell his jewelry, even as his companies ruin the lives of mothers in Palestine.

Leviev's companies have built homes for Israelis in the settlements of Zufim on the land of the West Bank village of Jayyous, Mattityahu East on Bil'in's land, and homes in the Maale Adumim and Har Homa settlements, which are cutting off Palestinian East Jerusalem from the West Bank.

While all Israeli settlements violate international law and destroy hopes for peace, Leviev's settlements also exact a heavy human toll on mothers and families. Halima Husain, a mother of seven from Jayyous, explains, "The settlement of Zufim was established directly on our land which was planted with olive, almond and fig trees. We registered complaints repeatedly with the Israelis with no results." Now Israel has built its wall through Jayyous in order to annex 70% of the village's farmland for Zufim's expansion. Villagers need Israeli permits to pass through the wall and reach their farmland. Halima continues, "I don't have a permit and my husband Hosni has been denied a permit for 10 months. One of my children has been held for 14 months in an Israeli prison and I haven't been able to visit him for three months with the Israeli excuse of 'security reasons.' And now my husband's income is insufficient to cover my son's university education, the costs of my other son in prison and our household expenses, all because we can't reach our land."

Halima's story is similar to many in Jayyous. The once-prosperous farming village of 3,400 residents is impoverished because families can't access their land. 70% of Jayyous' families are now in great need of food aid. 103 out of a total of 195 students in grades 7-12 have dropped out of school because parents can't cover school expenses. In 2002, before Israel began the wall's construction, 180 students from Jayyous were in universities. That number has now dropped to 50.

In Bil'in, M'azuza Abu Rahmeh, a mother of five boys and four girls, explains, "Our land was seized for the construction of Mattityahu East settlement. And our olive trees were cut down during the construction of the apartheid wall. These trees hold memories for each of my children that are impossible to forget. This pushed us to confront the bulldozers when they uprooted the trees during the wall's construction." M'azuza and her children, including her 23 year-old son Hamza, participated in Bil'in's three-year nonviolent community campaign against the construction of the Mattityahu East and the apartheid wall which was intended to annex the settlement to Israel. M'azuza says that during the protests, "Hamza was gravely injured in the head when he was hit with a rubber-coated steel bullet, and he spent two weeks in the hospital. One month after he left the hospital the Israeli military came to our house at night and, after sowing fear in me and in my small children and turning our house upside down, they arrested Hamza. I felt as if my heart had been ripped from my body. I am pained when I remember our uprooted olive trees, and Hamza's injury and arrest."

During more than 200 demonstrations aiming to prevent the seizure of 50% of Bil'in's land, the Israeli military has injured around 1,000 civilian protesters, including Israelis and internationals, and arrested 50. Around 300 of those injured and 13 of those jailed were children from Bil'in.For more information on the campaign to boycott Leviev's companies see:


To sign on to the boycott call email: info@adalahny.org

1. Paula Abrams-Hourani, Vienna, Austria
2. Widad Albassam, Chicago, USA
3. May Al-Issa, London, UK
4. Nazhat Al-Issa, London , UK
5. Arwa Aziz, New York, NY, USA
6. Maie Ayoub Vonkhol, NY, USA
7. Najah Barsoum, NY, USA
8. Georgina Bedrossian, NY, USA
9. Marcia Bernstein, Brooklyn, NY, USA
10. Didi Beydoun, NY, USA
11. Monique Blin, Paris, France
12. Elizabeth Block, Toronto, Canada
13. Rima Bordacosh, NY, USA
14. Leila Bordacosh, NY, USA
15. Claude Boucherot, Paris, France
16. Allison L. Brown, New York, NY, USA
17. Ely Bulkin, Montclair, NJ, USA
18. Madeleine Bullock, Canberra, Australia
19. Paola Canarutto, Italy
20. Kathleen Christison, Santa Fe, NM, USA
21. Ruth Clark, Edinburgh, Scotland
22. Pauline Coffman, Oak Park, IL, USA
23. Marisa Consolata Kemper, Cairo, Egypt
24. Ron and Maria De Stefano, New Jersey, USA
25. Afifa Dirani, Beirut, Lebanon
26. Rania Elias, Jerusalem, Palestine
27. Hedy Epstein, St. Louis, MO, USA
28. Simone Fattal, Paris, France
29. Lily Farhoud, Menton, France
30. Eileen Fleming, New York, NY, USA
31. Genevieve Cora Fraser, Massachusetts USA
32. Marcey Gayer, New York, USA
33. Emmaia Gelman, Bronx, New York, USA
34. Felice Gelman, Tarrytown, NY, USA
35. Irene Gendzier, Boston, USA
36. Mirene Ghossein, New Rochelle, NY, USA
37. Neta Golan, Ramallah, Palestine
38. Susan Goldstein, Toronto, Canada
39. Sherry Gorelick, NY, USA
40. Suzy Habashi, NY, USA
41. Eman Hamad, Clifton, NJ, USA (originally from Lifta, Palestine)
42. Lubna Hamad, New York, NY, USA
43. Jawaher Hammad, Auja, Palestine
44. Rusayla Hammad, Auja, Palestine
45. Enas Hammad, CA, USA
46. Touran Hamidi, Westbury New York, USA
47. Yasim Hamidi, Westbury, New York, USA
48. Louis de Hautefeuille, Paris, France
49. Jacqueline Hazzi, NY, USA
50. Jenny Heinz, New York, NY, USA
51. Maryse Helal, Cairo, Egypt
52. Jeannette Herzberg, Raanana, Israel
53. Majida Hilmi, NY, USA
54. Suzanne Hoyt, NY, USA
55. Houda El-Hourra, NY, USA
56. Katherine-Hughes-Fraitekh, Albequerque, New Mexico, USA
57. Virginia Ivarra, Washington, USA
58. Nada Khader, Chappaqua, NY, USA
59. May Khalil, Clifton, NJ, USA (originally from Lifta, Palestine)
60. Rebekah Levin, Chicago, IL, USA
61. Therese Liebmann, Brussels, Belgium
62. A.Loikow, Washington, DC, USA
63. Aleksandra Martinovic, Varazdin, Croatia
64. May Makki, NY, USA
65. Laurel Marx, NY, USA
66. Susan Masters, NY, USA
67. Eileen Measey, Leamington Spa, England
68. Hilda Meers, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
69. Jeannine Melly, NY, USA
70. Gail Miller, Woodstock, NY, USA
71. Dorinda Moreno, Central Coast, CA, USA
72. Susanne Moses, Tel Aviv, Israel
73. Elana Nachman, Oakland, CA, USA
74. Dorothy Naor, Herzliah, Israel
75. Denise Nassar, NY, USA
76. Inaam Nassar, Austin, Texas, USA
77. Hiam Nassar, Austin, Texas, USA
78. Rouba Nassar, Austin, Texas, USA
79. Ibtissam Nassar, Queens, NY, USA
80. Arwa Nasser, Weschester, NY, USA
81. Marlene Newesri, New York, NY, USA
82. Josiane Olff-Nathan, Strasbourg, France
83. Fatima Otifat, Ramallah, Palestine
84. Nujood Otifat, Auja, Palestine
85. Tharwa Otifat, Ramallah, Palestine
86. Odile Pascalides, Paris, France
87. Tamar Pelleg-Sryck, Tel Aviv, Israel
88. Ann Petter, New York, NY, USA
89. Gillian Potter, Cairo Egypt
90. Lysander Puccio, New York, NY, US
91. Cherryl Qamar, Woodstock, NY, USA
92. Yvette Raby, NY, USA
93. Michelle Raccagni, NY, USA
94. Susan Ravitz, Easton, PA, USA
95. Miriam M. Reik, New York, NY, USA
96. Joanne Robinson, Yonkers, NY, USA
97. Roberta Robinson, NY, USA
98. Julia Barnett Toronto, Canada
99. Constancia Dinky Romilly, New York, NY, USA
100. Suzanne Ross, New York, NY, USA
101. Claude-Marie Safar, Paris, France
102. Mariam Said, NY, USA
103. Nidal Said, NY, USA,
104. Sumayyah Samaha, NY, USA
105. Annmarie Sauer, Antwerp, Belgium
106. Doreen Shapiro, Brooklyn, NY, USA
107. Lee Sharkey, Farmington, Maine, USA
108. Ann Shirazi, New York, NY, USA
109. Karam Shuman, Chicago, USA
110. Nayla Sleiman, Cal, USA
111. Eustacia Smith, Bronx, NY, USA
112. Kathy Sommers, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
113. Alexis Stern, New York, NY, USA
114. Diana Takieddine, Washington, USA
115. Janet Thebaud Gillmar, Honolulu, Hawaii
116. Leila Tourny, Beirut, Lebanon
117. Zeina Toutounji-Gauvard,Paris, France
118. Nicole Trad, Paris, France
119. Carol Weinshenker, New York, NY, USA
120. Rev. Gretchen Winkler, Chicago, IL, USA
121. Dorothy Zellner, New York NY, USA


Thank you for publishing Sherri Muzher's 'Palestine before and after'

Dear Editor:

Thank you for publishing Sherri Muzher's op-ed "Palestine before and after."

I, too, am a first generation Palestinian-American and it is wonderful to read a story in a US newspaper about Palestine by a Palestinian.

Many, many Palestinians, now settled and thriving in America, have messages for Americans. One is Khaled Diab, who wrote recently: "We have been given a negative label here in America. But I want people to know that we want peace. They may not know that we are the natives in that land, that we lost homes and entire towns and cities. In my case, I can count at least 10 generations in the same village. Yet here I am, dispossessed. Israel does not allow my return to my birthplace to live. I did nothing to deserve this. And the other Palestinian refugees did nothing to deserve their fate. Those who got a chance like me, excelled at what we did and contributed to our adopted countries. While we are thankful and love our adopted countries, we want to be able to do the same in our homeland."


Please note that we Palestinians all over the world will continue to speak of our cultural heritage, which Israel did its best to destroy, and our story, which was supressed for so long, until justice, which most definitely revolves around right of return to our homes and villages, is finally realized.


Nancy Harb Almendras


Palestine before and after

Article published May 4, 2008

Palestine before and after

By Sherri Muzher

People are tired of hearing about it," a friend once told me matter-of-factly about the Middle East conflict. Tell me about it.

As a first-generation American of Palestinian descent, I can vouch that nobody is more tired of this conflict than Palestinians. But many of us don't have the luxury of flipping the channel or ignoring what is happening to our relatives and friends.

Palestinians with serious illnesses in Gaza are denied access to medical care. More than 150 have died and children are being stoned on their way to school by Jewish settlers.

We do what we can but it never feels sufficient. And though we're 100 percent Semitic, the usual tiring label of "anti-Semite" is thrown at us for speaking out against the injustices.

This month marks the 60th anniversary of Israel's creation and the dispossession of the Palestinians from their land. I'll save the history lessons because the realities have even been acknowledged by Israeli historians, most recently by Professor Ilan Pappe in 2006 with his book, "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine."

Instead, I'd like to focus on the Palestinian people. Denying their humanity has taken on many forms in the Israeli PR arsenal — from employing pop culture to paint Palestinians as terrorists at conception to the media's glorification of Israel's birth.

In recent years, pro-Israeli commentaries claim our parents don't love us. Apparently, my parents' years of love and sacrifice illustrate they never read the Palestinian manual for parents.

Sarcasm aside, it all makes strategic sense: Dehumanize Palestinians or deny their heritage long enough that any action against them doesn't seem so outrageous, even if they are expulsions at gunpoint.

Consider that Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said in 1969 in an oft-repeated statement, "There is no such thing as a Palestinian." Too bad she didn't read up on history because there has been a collective consciousness of their unique identity for millennia. The ancient Canaanites weren't called Palestinians, but neither were the Mesopotamians called Iraqis or the Celts called Irish or British. Still, the roots are unquestionable and run eternally deep, from archeological finds to folktales.

Another example of whiting out the Palestinian heritage is using the term "Israeli Arab." I've never heard of a generic Arab race — every Arab has a specific heritage, be it Palestinian, Lebanese, Algerian, etc. Think of Latin America, where they all speak the same language (Spanish, except in Portuguese-speaking Brazil) and most share the same religion (Roman Catholic). In the Arab world, they all speak Arabic and most are Muslim. Nonetheless, each country has its own dialect, foods and customs. Mexicans and Argentines differ, as do Palestinians and Egyptians.

And within each Arab nation, there is even more diversity — from distinguishable dialects and expressions, to being able to identify the region a Palestinian woman came from by the intricate embroidery on her traditional dress. Palestinians have always had a rich and vibrant culture that is all their own, before and after Israel's creation.

There is no question that Palestinians have taken a bruising with poorly made leadership decisions and factional fighting in recent years. But what has remained steadfast is their fierce embrace of identity and their resilience. This is true not only of Palestinians in Palestine but those of Palestinian descent in the diaspora.

Whether it was the election of Tony Saca to the presidency in El Salvador or respected fiscal conservative U.S. Sen. John Sununu being singled out for praise by Time magazine or Dr. Motia Khaled Al-Asir being awarded the British Empire Medal by Queen Elizabeth II, those of Palestinian descent continue to make their mark around the world.

It is worth repeating that the Jewish Torah teaches us that man was created in God's image. The Palestinians have never been absent from this equation.

Sherri Muzher is director of the Michigan Media Watch in Woodhaven, Mich.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


'I Felt LIke My Legs Weren't Strong Enough to Carry Me'

Comment left on "A Criticism Too Far: Saying Israel shouldn't be able to promote itself as a tourist destination is inconsistent, unjustified and counterproductive."

The Palestinian tourist industry is economically strangled by Israel:

"Bethlehem was a city of tourism before the word even existed. Since the year 2000, however, the travel market collapsed by more than ninety per cent and too many visitors pass by on whistle-stop tours, organised by Israeli tour operators, allowing the visitor nothing but a ten-minute tour of the Church of the Nativity."


And for those of Palestinian background, the visiting isn't so easy . . .

Filmmaker Annemarie Jacir was denied entry to occupied Palestine to view the premiere of her film, Salt of the Sea, an official Cannes Film Festival selection. Made to wait at the Allenby Bridge for six hours, her phone was confiscated, and she was interrogated five times. Finally,

" . . . a woman in a blue uniform (the others wore a different uniform), came towards me with my passport in her hand and four security agents behind her. She handed me my passport and said, 'The Israeli Ministry of Interior has denied you entry.' I asked if a reason was given. She said, 'You spend too much time here.' I was then deported - escorted by two of the agents out of the terminal and onto a bus back to Jordan.

"I got on the bus. I felt like my legs weren't strong enough to carry me."


Friday, May 02, 2008


Take Along "The Return Journey"

Comment left at Comment is Free re "A Criticism too Far: Saying Israel shouldn't be able to promote itself as a tourist destination is inconsistent, unjustified and counterproductive":

On your travels take along Dr. Salman Abu Sitta's The Return Journey: A Guide to the Depopulated and Present Palestinian Towns and Villages and Holy Sites.

"In 1948 eighty-five percent of the Palestinians in the part of Palestine that became Israel were displaced, 675 towns and villages were depopulated while their lands and properties were consfiscated . . . .

"Most of these villages have long since been destroyed and removed from the map of Israel. Some have been replaced by new Jewish Israeli communities, but for the most part, village lands have been converted iinto parks or designated for agricultural use and natural reserves or used by the army. Places have been renamed with Hebrew names. In many cases, however, the foundations of homes, cisterns, terraces, cemetaries and holy sites, including mosques and churches, remain.

"This guide provides users with a tool to locate and learn about these cities, towns and villages."

From "The Concealed Geography of Palestine," in The Return Journey by Dr. Salman Abu Sitta. Stratford, London: Palestine Land Society, 2007. p. 243

For more information: http://www.plands.org/RJweb/scontents.htm

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