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Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Until the web of deceit no longer informs . . .

My comment at the Guardian's CIF:

Michael Bournemouth is in denial to avoid facing the gross injustice for the Palestinian people, culture, and society that Zionism continues to effect. Zionists continue in their attempts to erase Palestinian history, most cruelly effected and manifest by their destruction of 531 Palestinian villages in 1947-48. Diehards, while making themselves look unabashedly silly to those with a modicum of knowledge, continue to proclaim that the Palestinians have only lived in Palestine for three generations . . . write that Palestine was "a land without a people for a people without a land"; say publicly, as did Milwaukee native Golda Meir, that there is no such thing as a Palestinian; laud the plucky Zionists for making the "desert bloom"; demonise Palestinians as people who are solely motivated out of some intrinsic hatred for Jews and demonise Palestinian parents by perpetuating the lie that we bring up our children to hate. . . deny all you want; this is a long, long struggle, and many of us in different ways, are prepared to continue, until the web of deceit no longer informs public consciousness.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Oh Jerusalem!

My little part in what most assuredly is a long, long struggle: a comment left at the Guardian's Comment is Free:

I have posted on an earlier thread about the Israeli government's ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem, which includes denying even Hanan Ashrawi's daughter the right to enter the city of her birth.
And now, according to the Jerusalem Committee of the Palestinian Legislature:

"Israel is adopting a new policy to make Palestinians leave their homes, as the Israeli troops released dozens of rats near the Palestinian houses."

Israel's Jerusalem policy in regards to its Palestinan inhabitants is simple, and it is consistent with ongoing Zionist actions to rid the land of its people to make way for Jewish immigrants, some of whom have ties neither to Palestine or Israel, but some nice financial incentives to encourage them to immigrate.

Just like 670 Palestinian villages were depopulated in 1947-48 and 531 were demolished, Zionist ethnic cleansing continues in Jerusalem, as well as in the rest of the occupied territories; the following is a brief summary of a story in Palestine News Network:

Ziad Saad, a native of Jerusalem is separated from his wife and two children in Jerusalem, because Israel will not let him enter his city. In 2005 his travel document was confiscated from him at the Israeli consulate in San Francisco; he was told if he didn't leave the consulate he'd be accused of terrorism and the FBI would be notified. He decided to work towards US citizenship, thinking naively that when he attained US citizenship in 2008, he could enter the city of his birth easily as a US citizen, however when he crossed over from Jordan a machine was pushed "down deep to sensitive parts" of his body. He was robbed of five hundred dollars at the security inspection. "Three months," the normal stay for visa holders was crossed out, and "one week" was penciled in. When his wife attempted to visit him later in Amman, she was told if she crossed that she could not return to Jerusalem.

Palestine News Network

Monday, July 21, 2008


Mitch Ablon's Story Reveals Much About Hasbara Doctors

My comment to the Detroit Free Press story Israel-Hizballah trade reveals much about both sides.

Zionists want you to believe that Palestine was "land without a people for a people without a land," and "there is no such thing as a Palestinian." Why would anyone believe anything the Israeli government says? The court transcript for Kuntar's case hasn't been released. Israel, which touts itself as the "light unto the nations" systematically destroyed 531 Palestinian villages and depopulated 670 in 1947-48. Israel allegedly made the "desert bloom" although my Palestinian relatives' gardens replete with herbs, vegetables, and flowers show up that clever sound bite. Israel's foundation was a crime against the Palestinian people. The "Jews into the sea" line is often touted by Israel's propaganda doctors. On the contrary, the Palestinians have been pushed off their land into refugee camps; those remaining deal a wall running through their farms and daily humiliations. The words of people who live in stolen houses on stolen land don't count for much.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Israel’s collective psychosis: The denial syndrome

20/07/2008 - 12:29 AM
by Khalid Amayreh

This week, Israel sank in an avalanche of national lethargy, hypocrisy and self-righteousness.

Seeking to cope with Hezbullah’s success in getting Israel to release all Lebanese prisoners, dead and living, in exchange for the remains of two Israeli soldiers, Israeli leaders, media and shapers of public opinion have been indulging in sanctimonious self-glorification while denouncing the other side as “hateful, uncivilized and representing an inferior culture.”

This is a characteristic Israeli behavior. It perfectly characterizes a society that has been living in a state of denial ever since Zionist gangs, aided by western powers, succeeded in uprooting the bulk of native Palestinians from Palestine, their ancestral homeland, and implanting therein Israel, a state based on racism, terror, ethnic cleansing and falsification of history.

The orgy of lying, especially the shocking amenability of most Zionist Jews to take the obscene lies at face value caricatures a people that dreads knowing the truth, let alone coping with it.

And when the truth eventually manages to penetrate the “iron wall” of Zionist lies, the custodians of the big lie, which is Zionism, resort to a whole set of defense mechanisms to protect the collective mental sanity of a state whose very existence constitutes a crime against humanity.

Thus, according to this depraved and psychotic mindset, Israel doesn’t murder children and innocent civilians, It is only the victims that bring death upon themselves. And Israelis don’t steal the land and property of Palestinians, since the entire world was created for the sake of the “chosen people.”

And even when Jews do commit “certain mistakes” and “abominable sins,” they are not really to blame for that since it is the victims that always force Jews to make these mistakes.

Hence, the proverbial Palestinian victim of Israeli savagery is always responsible for the demolition of his own home, the murder of his own children and the destruction of his own farm, grove and orchard by Israeli bulldozer!!

Eventually, the entire Palestinian Nakba is a self-inflicted calamity which the Palestinians brought upon themselves because they refused to succumb to the will of the “chosen people.” More to the point, if the Palestinians don’t come to terms with the Nakba and the occupation, a greater Nakba, or holocaust, would be inflicted upon them.

Interestingly, the wave of self-righteous overindulgence in Israel has been led by the establishment people, figures that know too well that Israel doesn’t really represent the culture of peace, but rather the culture of war and aggression; they know that Israel is inculcated with a criminal and murderous mentality that differs very little from the Nazi mentality.

Yes, they do know all of this, but like all murderers, thieves and liars, they dread facing the truth. The truth would simply make them lose their raison d’etre. This is why they always try to turn the black into white, the white into black and the big lie into a “truth” glorified by millions of “beneficiaries” at home and ignorant “fans” abroad.

It may be particularly difficult to convince the “beneficiaries” of their sinfulness, namely the fact that they are living in homes that belong to other people and living on land that belongs to another people.

However, for the sake of the ignorant or naïve fans in Europe and north America as well as the rest of the world, it is imperative that they be delivered from the grip of Zionist lies.

Yes, westerners must be allowed to know the naked truth about this sick and sickening state that deceptively claims to be the sole true inheritor of Judaism while its ideology, behavior and actions are antithetical to all religious and moral values that stress universal justice and human equality.

Let us remember some of the “glorious expressions” of the Zionist culture of love and self-abnegation in recent years.

Chris Hedges is a prominent journalist and author specialized in American and Middle Eastern politics. He worked for a number of publications including the Christian Science Monitor, the Dallas Morning News and the New York Times where he spent 15 years.

In his recent book, War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, Hedges tells a chilling story from his trip to the Gaza Strip in the heydays of the intifada, or the second Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation.

Hedges watched, ten- and eleven-year-old Palestinian children being lured to their neighborhood’s perimeter fence by taunts from a loudspeaker on the Israeli side. “Where are all the dogs of Khan Younis? Come! Come!" The Israeli voice barked insults at the boys’ mothers.

The boys responded by hurling their rocks at the jeep with the loudspeaker. The Israelis shot at them with M-16s fitted with silencers. Hedges found the victims in the hospital, children with their stomachs ripped out, and with gaping holes in their limbs.

Writing for “Harper’s Magazine” (see The Nation, March 11, 2002), Hedges wrote: “ Children have been shot in other conflicts I have covered. Death squads gunned them down in El Salvador and Guatemala, mothers with infants were lined up and massacred in Algeria, and Serb snipers put children in their sights in Sarajevo, but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport.”

Here is another “expression of love:” In November, 2001, an undercover unit of the Israeli army buried a landmine in the sand that flows around Abdullah Siyam Primary School in Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

A few hours later, as Palestinian children headed to school, the mine exploded. Five school kids were instantly reduced to broken flesh. The youngest was six. All the victims came from the same extended family: Akram Naim Astal, 6, and his brother Mohammed, 13; Omar Idris Astal, 12, and his brother Anis, 10; and their cousin Muhamemd Sultan Astal, 12. Their young bodies were mutilated beyond recognition. The limbs of one child were found 50 meters away. Some of the kids could only be identified by their school bags, brightly colored and spattered with blood, still dangling from their butchered bodies.

Hasbara doctors in Israel might seek to extenuate the gravity or even whitewash these crimes by claiming that these were “individual acts” that didn’t reflect the overall policy of the Israeli government and army.

However, this is a big lie. In 2001, the noted Israeli award-wining journalist Amira Hass interviewed an Israeli sniper in which the soldier described the commands he received from his superiors:

“Twelve and up, you are allowed to shoot. That is what they tell us,” the soldier said. “So,” responded the reporter, “according to the IDF, the appropriate minimum age group at which to shoot is 12.” The soldier replied: “this is according to what the IDF says to its soldiers. I don’t know if this is what the IDF says to the media.”

A further “expression of love and humanity of Israeli culture” manifested itself, also in Gaza, in 2004, when an Israeli occupation army soldier, dubbed Captain-R, shot a Palestinian girl, Iman al Hums, who was on her way to school. However, the soldier was not sure whether the 13-year-girl died or not. Hence, he walked to the bleeding child, and instead of trying to save her life, he shot here 25 times, emptying his entire magazine of bullets into her tender body. He did what he did in order “ to verify the kill,” a standard Israeli army practice in such circumstances

Now, the reader might be prompted to think that the bloodthirsty murderer was arrested and made to stand trial for his hair-raising crime. Well, the opposite happened. The soldier not only was innocent of any wrongdoing but was also awarded tens of thousands of dollars for being “hurt and libeled by unfavorable media coverage.”

In truth, it is not only Israeli army soldiers and officers who willfully indulge in such Nazi behavior. Zionist rabbis routinely issue religious edicts that would allow Israeli troops to murder non-Jewish children knowingly and deliberately without having to worry about any ramifications, moral or otherwise.

In May 2007, shortly before Israeli occupation soldiers murdered two Gaza children who apparently were searching for scrap metal to sell for a few cents in order help feed their impoverished families, the former Israeli Chief rabbi, Mordechai Elyahu, petitioned the Israeli government to carry out a series of carpet bombing of Gaza population centers.

Elyahu argued that a ground invasion of the world’s most crowded spot would endanger Israeli soldiers. He said “If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand. And if they do not stop after 1,000, then we must kill 10,000. If they still don’t stop we must kill 100,000, even a million, whatever it takes to make them stop.”

Earlier, Elyahu, a prominent Talmudic sage, called on the Israeli occupation army not to refrain from killing Palestinian children if that means saving the lives of Israeli soldiers.

The above-mentioned are only sporadic examples of the barbarian spirit inculcated in Israelis, especially soldiers dispatched to the occupied Palestinian territories to guard the occupation and enforce apartheid.

It is this barbarian mindset that makes Israeli soldiers abduct Palestinian school children and take them to nearby Jewish settlements where they are used as “training objects” by Jewish youngsters. It is this barbarian mentality that makes Jewish soldiers force helpless Palestinian laborers do certain depraved acts such as drinking soldiers’ urine and singing, individually or in unison, “wahad Hommas, wahad fool, Allah Iyhay-yee Mishmar Gvul” (one ‘dish’ hummus, one broad beans, may Allah greet the Border Police)!!!

There are of course thousands, even tens of thousands, of examples which one could easily and readily cite to underscore Israeli barbarianism.

To be sure, this disgraceful reality is known to many Israelis. In 2001, Shulamit Aloni, a former minister of education, wrote in the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv that “we have become a barbarian people.”

So, what makes a leftist, liberal woman see in Israel what the vast bulk of Israelis, including the country’s intelligentsia, wouldn’t see, or more correctly, wouldn’t want to see.

Well, it is Israel’s collective psychosis, the denial syndrome.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


A Palestinian lawyer contemplates his vivisected country

Copyright (c) 2008 The Daily Star

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Palestinian lawyer contemplates his vivisected country

2008 Orwell Prize winner 'Palestinian Walks' takes the reader beyond the 'betrayal' of Oslo

By Daniel Phillips Special to The Daily Star


BEIRUT: At one point in his poem "I Come from There," celebrated Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish writes, "I walked this land before swords turned bodies into banquets." The poem's complex expression of yearning, anger and lament has now found a prose echo of sorts in "Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape," a simple but powerful new memoir by Raja Shehadeh.

The central theme of "Palestinian Walks" is the disruption of the organic continuity (and contiguity) that once defined life and landscape in the hills of Palestine. Shehadeh is a lawyer by trade. He founded Al-Haq human-rights organization and authored several books about international law, human-rights and the Middle East. His memoir thus projects an eloquent and informed voice into the bloody debate over the ownership of Palestinian land.

As cease-fires collapse and Israeli settlements on Palestinian land expand, the Palestinian cause is sorely in need of such a voice. The succinct honesty of his account provides a unique insight into Israel's reckless policy of expansion into Palestinian lands. For its natural audience, "Palestinian Walks" will do more damage to the Zionist project's reputation than a whole horizon of rockets.

The memoir unfolds as a series of walks among the rolling valleys of Palestine, ranging from 1978 to close to present day. Shehadeh describes the sahra as a time-honored Palestinian tradition of walking and sometimes camping in the hills, a generations-old means of familiarizing oneself with the hills and with oneself. He calls it a "drug-free high, Palestinian style."

In Shehadeh's experience, though, from the first walk to the last, the rejuvenating qualities of the hills are increasingly distorted and negated by the tightening of the occupation regime and the encroachment of Israeli settlements into the West Bank.

The walks became a way to separate the author from his frustrating professional life as a lawyer in Occupied Palestine - where the Israeli government has proven adept at opportunistically using legal statutes from the Ottoman and British Mandate periods to shore up its land-confiscation agenda.

Shehadeh's depictions of his own perceived failures in the great historical sweep of the conflict are most compelling. With "the law as my weapon," Shehadeh fought the Israeli regime with detailed amicus curiae and unassailable legal arguments concerning who truly owns the land. But loss after loss demonstrated that Israel's suffocating judicial system was in place to do little more than affirm state policies.

Asked how the walled-in Palestinian cities are supposed to expand with a natural population increase, one straight-faced Israeli land-management official replied, "Up." Highly politicized courts repeatedly produced decisions that, though Shehadeh saw them coming long in advance, made a mockery of both the letter and the spirit of the law.

After one particularly appaling verdict, he describes standing in a window of the courthouse watching the snow fall on Ramallah and musing over the contrast of the snow's purity and the court's depravity.

The most pleasing passages of the whole book are the author's descriptions of the Palestinian landscape. "The whispers of the pine trees," he writes, "sound like the conversation of a family gathered in a circle in their garden". The hills and valleys of northern Palestine are "groundswells produced by a storm at sea ... large, frequent and confused."

This juxtaposition of "relaxed" and "natural" hills with "contorted" Israeli settlements that have "butchered the hills" convey the book's most accessible theme.

The occupation has committed some of its worst crimes not against Palestinians, Shehadeh contends, but against their land - establishing itself at the expense of the land's beauty. "The language of conquest was writ large over the hills," he writes, "over the wilderness, in every corner of the land."

Time and again, he describes the cookie-cutter settlements ravaging what was once Palestinian countryside. Arguing with Shehadeh in court or over an impromptu hashish moment alongside a stream, Israelis reveal they consider Palestinian land either ugly or unused and in need of a civilizing touch in the form of settlements and roads - despite their being flagrant violations of international law.

The reader comes to see Shehadeh as a slightly odd gentleman, whose one love is to gambol through Palestine's hills, but is frustrated at every turn by a new Israeli road he can't use or the obstacle posed by settlement sewage flowing freely onto Palestinian land.

Here lies the key to the book's power. The author doesn't steep the Palestinian struggle in some Marxist, Islamist or other ideological discourse. Rather, he persuades readers with the straightforward observations of an educated gentleman denied a simple walk through his own countryside. These brilliant indictments of Israeli power are presented in terms that any casual North American or European reader can understand.

By the end of the book, Shehadeh expresses a grudging acceptance that most of his career has been negated by the Palestinian leadership's signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords - which he deems "an act of surrender." For Shehadeh, the Accords represent the PA's acceptance of "quick and easy gains" in exchange for informally ceding control of vast tracts of the West Bank to a ravenous Israeli state.

He sees the agreement as a betrayal of the legitimate rational-legal argument against Israeli expansion and expropriation he had built for so many years. "When the Oslo Peace Accords were signed," he writes, "I distinctly remember feeling a rupture, the termination of what for years I had called my narrative. My bubble, my illusion, was burst."

He comes to accept this and move on. "A time comes when one has to accept reality," he writes, "difficult as that might be, and find ways to live through it without losing one's self-esteem or principles."

First published in the UK last year, "Palestinian Walks" has since won of the 2008 Orwell Prize for political writing. Founded in the 1980s, the George Orwell Memorial Trust launched two annual Orwell Prizes for political writing - one for book-length publications and one for journalism - in 1993. The judges' criteria for awarding the prize is that the writing be accessible to the public, and embody excellence of style and originality of content.

By now, the British media recognize the Orwell Prize as the most "important" and "prestigious" in the country.

In early 2008, "Palestinian Walks" got a second print run for the US and international market. Arguably, America is where this book is most needed. After reading this book, US citizens - whose government affords such unapologetic and unprecedented support to the Israeli state - might think twice upon tolerating the status-quo discourse on the situation in Palestine.

Having a US edition of this book will not come close to solving the manifold problems confronting Shehadeh and his clients, but it is a step in the right direction. There is walking yet to be done.

Raja Shehadeh's "Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape" (2008) is published
by Profile Books.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Responding to Morons

A response to a couple of moronic commentators replying to an earlier comment of mine at the Jacksonville Sun-Union:


Oh please. My late father immigrated from Ramallah to the US in 1951 and worked as an insurance salesman and a car salesman. Most of the people from Ramallah are professionals and business people who have made contributions to the US, while still thinking about the people in what they called the "old country," who were less fortunate than they. The money goes for education and hospitals. Why don't you educate yourself and stop demonising people based upon ethnicity. That's not really the American way.


You'll Never Be Unemployed: Challenging Zionist Lies


Lompoc is too close to the town in which I grew up for me to overlook this boring, but pernicious panoply of Zionist bullshit. It's all here . . . "refugees as pawns," "Jews into the sea," "Jews property as spoils"; yeah all six percent of it, jerk . . .

Dear Editor:

Roger Talbot seems comfortable spewing propaganda that's been discredited by both Palestinian and Israeli historians. Arab armies didn't enter Palestine until one-half of the indigenous Christian and Muslim Palestinians destined for refugee status had been ethnically cleansed by fully armed and bigoted immigrants like Mr. Talbot, racial supremacists who for sixty years have defied international law which states that any one may leave his country and return to his country.

What right does any Jew, from any where in the world have to immigrate to historic Palestine and become an instant citizen, while Palestinians, who were actually born there, and who still hold keys to their houses, may not return. Time for an end to a state whose ethno-supremacism has created misery in the Holy Land and which continues its ethnic cleansing with walls, checkpoints, house raids, denial of food, medicine, water, and a host of other depradations heaped upon the native Palestinians, and time for the full implementation of right of return to put an end to the suffering Palestinian refugees have endured so that Americans like Roger Talbot may go play cowboy and live out biblical fantasies on someone else's property.


Still Longing For Their Homeland

Members of the Farhat family in Ramallah in the 1920s. There are an estimated 5,000 Ramallahans living on the First Coast now.
Left is Yasmin Cadoura who sheltered the refugees who flooded Ramallah in the aftermath of the Zionists' ethnic cleansing.

Re: Still longing for their homeland

Posted by: nancy harb almendras

Posted on: 7/13/08 - 03:47 a.m.

Thank you for this excellent story about how Palestinians have persevered in wake of their tragedy. I am hopeful that one day the Universal Declaration of Human Rights' Article 13, Section 2, which states that every one may leave his country and return to his country will be implemented so that peace will prevail in the Holy Land.

By JEFF BRUMLEY, The Times-Union
Israel and its supporters around the world celebrated the nation's 60th anniversary in May. For them, it is a day of independence, a day of joy. But for many Palestinians, especially those who lost loved ones and property to Israel when the new nation was born, it is called the "Day of Nakba" - the day of catastrophe. -------------------------------------------------- --------------------------------------------------
"It was sad day," said 85-year-old Yusuf Farhat, a Palestinian Christian who lives in Jacksonville.
Not that the months leading up to it were great.
Social unrest and Arab-Israeli violence were prevalent throughout the British-controlled Palestine before the declaration. And an all-out war followed when neighboring Arab nations invaded, seeking to destroy Israel [blogger's note: Arab armies entered Palestine after the Zionists' forces had already ethnically cleansed half of what would amount to a total of 750,000 refugees].

Farhat and other Jacksonville residents who were there recall that day, that summer and their continuing anger and hope in the six decades that have followed.
'I'm crying'
Fathallah Johar got word of Israel's independence through the grapevine in his small village in northern Palestine.
Johar, now 81, said the news hit the small farming community hard.
The country turned chaotic on that day," Johar said in Arabic translated by his son, Monzer Jawhar. Both are Muslims who live in Jacksonville.
But the worst came in early July 1948 when Jordanian soldiers - part of an invasion by Arab armies seeking to destroy Israel - told his family and neighbors to leave for nearby Lebanon.
"The Arab forces said, 'Lock your houses, you'll be back in a week or two,' " Johar said in Arabic translated by his son, Monzer Jawhar. "That week in Lebanon turned into years."
The Arab armies didn't succeed in that war, which ended with an armistice in 1949.

The United Nations said there were an estimated 914,000 Palestinian refugees in 1950 as a result of Arab-Israeli fighting.

It says that number has increased to 4.4 million as a result of population growth.
"We lost our land; we lost our identity," Johar said.
Johar and his family came to the United States after years in a refugee camp, but his mind returns often to his family's 6,000-square-foot home and 500-acre farm where they grew olives, wheat and tomatoes.
"He'd love to go there and die," his son added.
Asked how he can discuss such things with apparent dispassion, Johar pointed to tears previously obscured by the glare on his glasses.
"I'm crying," he said. "Yelling and screaming just doesn't help."
'Still angry'
For Yasmin Cadoura, 86, there are some happy memories wrapped inside the desperate ones.
The pre-independence trickle of refugees into her hometown of Ramallah turned into a flood once Israel declared statehood.
Her home was a Palestinian city located just north of Jerusalem in the West Bank territory that Israel later absorbed in the 1967 Six-Day War.
The house was one of the largest in the city located near its outskirts, so it became a de facto refugee settlement during the summer of 1948 for fellow Palestinians who had lost everything.
sad as those days and months were, Cadoura said, they also gave her the opportunity to help those in need.
Married and raising eight daughters at the time, she said she eventually found herself tending about 500 refugees living on her land, where the drama of life and death played out almost on a daily basis.
There was the frail, elderly Muslim woman, desperate and heartbroken, who died on Cadoura's property.
Cadoura, a Christian, provided a room so the woman's family could prepare the body according to Islamic tradition.
Then there was the pregnant refugee who gave birth to twin girls in one of Cadoura's bedrooms.
And there were hundreds more to whom she and her family provided medicine, food and shelter.
Cadoura said she also takes comfort in the fact that Ramallahns living in the United States are a close-knit group.
She and thousands more attended the 2008 convention of the American Federation of Ramallah Palestine, July 2-6 in Detroit.
About 30,000 Ramallah natives live in the United States, including about 5,000 in the Jacksonville region.
But none of that erases the bad memories, she added. "I am still angry at the Israelis."
'Punching bag'
Like Johar, Sam Farhat seems remarkably calm when speaking about the property his family lost.
It's with measured, quiet words that he describes the Jewish-vs.-Arab violence he witnessed as a 6-year-old in the months before and after Israel's declaration.
"To me it was very traumatic, the bodies and the blood," he said.
Painful, too, are his recollections of the lush 336-acre orange grove and second home the family owned - and lost to Israel - near Netania, north of Tel Aviv.
"We still have the title but we can't go back," he said of his father, Yusuf Farhat, and other family members, also natives of Ramallah.
Sam Farhat, 66, has spent his decades in the United States working for Palestinian causes. He was president of the national Ramallah federation during the 1990s and the Jacksonville chapter in 1976.
Through the organization, he helps raise money for parks, health care and scholarships in Ramallah.
Farhat said he's taking a wait-and-see view of the cease fire that began in June between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. But he's ever hopeful that Palestinians will have their own nation beside Israel.
All of that - and not a therapist or hitting a punching bag - help Farhat temper the emotions that have come at the 60th anniversary of the Day of Nakba, he said.
"This is our punching bag: to reconcile the differences between the Arabs and the Israelis," Farhat said. "You can't continue dwelling on what you lost."
jeff.brumley@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4310

This story can be found on Jacksonville.com at http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/071308/lif_302784054.shtml.

Friday, July 11, 2008


I Want Blue Back

From Annie's Inklings

I will never forgive Israel
for taking blue
my favorite color-
taking it as if they own it

I want blue back

I want blue to be every thing ethereal

I want blue to be of heaven
not the hell
Zionists have made
of "the Holy Land"

I want blue to be free

to be every mood and any meaning
it might want to be

& I want blue
to be of Palestine

To be known as natural beauty
and hope

to be cherished as one of many noble

that bring each other out
in the best ways

to be a lover's eyes to happily drown in
as his glance lingers reaching into me
to be beloved and loving

to be both background and fore

to be a kindred spirit
sparking response

Poem & Picture Copyright ©2008 Anne Selden Annab


A Statement issued by the Union of Palestinian Women Committees

vzfrom Al-Awda

A Statement issued by the Union of Palestinian Women Committees

Despite all the media clamor about the lie of handing over the cities to the Palestinian Authority according to Dayton plans, which have proven to be no more than throwing dust into the eyes, the occupation vampires attacked last night the office of the Union of Palestinian Women Committees in Nablus, the city that washanded overto the Palestinian Authority, where they messed up with the contents of the office and took some of them. The occupation thieves also stole the grocery packages that were supposed to be distributed to the needy people in the city, under the blockade and starvation that not only Gaza strip is suffering from, but also the West Bank. All these lies about how quiet and indulged the situation is in the West Bank, are unmasked by the daily attacks of the occupation in Hebron, Nablus, Jenin, Ramallah and other cities.

We, at the Union of Palestinian Women Committees, condemn these wild attacks on our national institutions, and ask the Authority to put an end to these actions in the absence of any prospect of negotiations or resolutions by the end of 2008..

The Authority, which is considered to be a political system responsible for discipline and security, must disclose the occupation's practices that contradict with all the international rules and norms, and not just discard them.

The Union is also asking all institutions and organizations that deal with human rights and solidarity with women, to stand by the union and all national institutes, in the face of this unjust campaign, in a way that protects and fortifies our national institutes and women causes.

Our struggle is nationally and socially legal, and is politically, economically and socially consistent with all that had been approved by the International legitimacy, and thus what the occupation is practicing is considered to be a violation of these laws. Nevertheless, and through the experience of so many years, it will never be able to stop or oblige our national institutions for its own interests.

We are inviting all Palestinian civil society institutions, forces and national parties to raise their voices against this attack on our institute, for these institutes must be protected, regardless of their political or ideological belonging.

Maha Nassar
Head of the Unionof Palestinian Women Committees10/7/2008


A Statement issued by the Union of Palestinian Women Committees

from Al-Awda

A Statement issued by the Union of Palestinian Women Committees

Despite all the media clamor about the lie of handing over the cities to the Palestinian Authority according to Dayton plans, which have proven to be no more than throwing dust into the eyes, the occupation vampires attacked last night the office of the Union of Palestinian Women Committees in Nablus, the city that washanded overto the Palestinian Authority, where they messed up with the contents of the office and took some of them. The occupation thieves also stole the grocery packages that were supposed to be distributed to the needy people in the city, under the blockade and starvation that not only Gaza strip is suffering from, but also the West Bank. All these lies about how quiet and indulged the situation is in the West Bank, are unmasked by the daily attacks of the occupation in Hebron, Nablus, Jenin, Ramallah and other cities.

We, at the Union of Palestinian Women Committees, condemn these wild attacks on our national institutions, and ask the Authority to put an end to these actions in the absence of any prospect of negotiations or resolutions by the end of 2008..

The Authority, which is considered to be a political system responsible for discipline and security, must disclose the occupation's practices that contradict with all the international rules and norms, and not just discard them.

The Union is also asking all institutions and organizations that deal with human rights and solidarity with women, to stand by the union and all national institutes, in the face of this unjust campaign, in a way that protects and fortifies our national institutes and women causes.

Our struggle is nationally and socially legal, and is politically, economically and socially consistent with all that had been approved by the International legitimacy, and thus what the occupation is practicing is considered to be a violation of these laws. Nevertheless, and through the experience of so many years, it will never be able to stop or oblige our national institutions for its own interests.

We are inviting all Palestinian civil society institutions, forces and national parties to raise their voices against this attack on our institute, for these institutes must be protected, regardless of their political or ideological belonging.

Maha Nassar
Head of the Unionof Palestinian Women Committees10/7/2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

In a recent comment left at the Guardian's Comment is Free, I was responding both to a poll of Palestinians CIF's resident Israel apologist was interpreting and also to some "helpful" advice from a commentator:

"By the same token, the Palestinians have very little to compromise with - the RoR (I want them to compromise, and have said so many times)"

The right of return is an individual right, and no government or negotiator may compromise on it. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states unequivocably that every one may leave his country and return to his country. No provision is made for politicians to negotiate away one's fundmental right to return to one's place of origin.

I also filled out a Guardian survey. When asked what changes I'd like to see, I wrote "more Palestinian bloggers," and I listed several including: Rami Almegheri, Laila El-Haddad, Susan Abdulhawa, Sherri Muzher, Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, George Bisharat, Saree Makdisi, Omar Barghouti, Mustapha Barghouti, Dr. Mona El-Farra, Reham Alhelsi, Raja Shehadeh, Raji Sourani.

My comment:

For a representative view of Palestinians note that one hundred and fifty-six Palestinian unions, associations, campaigns, refugee rights associations and organizations, encompassing all of Palestinian Civil Society have called for boycott, sanctions, and divestment from Israel until "it complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights:"

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

This endorsement comes from political parties, unions, coalitions, organizations and associations which take into account the three parts of Palestinian society: "Palestinian refugees, Palestinians under occupation and Palestinian citizens of Israel."

Global BDS Movement

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Ghassan Kanafani: April, 1936-July 8, 1972

Jaffa: Land of oranges

By Ghassan Kanafani

When we had to leave Jaffa for Acre there was no sense of tragedy. It felt like an annual trip to spend the feast in another city. Our days in Acre did not seem unusual: perhaps, being young, I was even enjoying myself since the move exempted me from school... Whatever, on the night of the big attack on Acre the picture was becoming clearer. That was, I think, a cruel night, passed between the stern silence of the men and the invocations of the women. My peers, you and I, were too young to understand what the whole story was about. On that night, though, certain threads of that story became clearer. In the morning, and as the Jews withdrew threatening and fulminating, a big truck was standing in front of our door. Light things, mainly sleeping items, were being chucked into the truck swiftly and hysterically.

As I stood leaning against the ancient wall of the house I saw your mother getting into the truck, then your aunt, then the young ones, then your father began to chuck you and your siblings into the car and on top of the luggage. Then he snatched me from the corner, where I was standing and, lifting me on top of his head, he put me into the cage-like metal luggage compartment above the driver's cabin, where I found my brother Riad sitting quietly. The vehicle drove off before I could settle into a comfortable position. Acre was disappearing bit by bit in the folds of the up-hill roads leading to Rass El-Naqoura [Lebanon].

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

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

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

When in the afternoon we reached Sidon we had become refugees.

Translated by Mona Anis and Hala Halim

Ghassan Kanafani
* Born in Acre in April,1936. Spent his childhood in Jaffa where he received his education in a French missionary school. Left Jaffa in 1948, first for Lebanon then Syria and Kuwait.* Moved to Beirut in 1961, where he wrote novels, short stories, film scripts, political articles and edited a number of political and literary publications, including Al-Hadaf, the organ of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Appointed official spokesman of the Popular Front in 1970.* Was blown up in a car explosion, which also killed his niece, on July 1972. Amid the wreckage a scrap of paper from the Israeli Embassy in Copenhagen was found, a reminder of the fate awaiting those who fought Israel.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Kanazi on Zohan: You Don't Mess With the Racism

By Remi Kanazi

I love Adam Sandler. From Billy Madison to Happy Gilmore to the Chanukah Song, the predecessor of the Superbad generation has effortlessly conquered the domain of slapstick comedy and inappropriate jokes. But damn you Scuba Steve! If you’re going to propagate misinformation about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, do it quietly—or at least in your non-comedic life.

You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, Sandler’s new flick, takes Hollywood chicanery and stereotypes that denigrate Arabs to an unprecedented level—surpassing hit flicks like the Kingdom, the Siege, and every Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chuck Norris movie that came before it. I group Zohan with other shamelessly racist action movies because a film should at least be minutely funny to be categorized as a comedy. For the Sandler diehards and hilarity-loving skeptics, I should clearly state: using race and prejudices to engender laughter is not the problem. Mel Brooks and the creators of South Park exploit stereotypes far beyond anything Sandler has ever done, but unlike Zohan, I don’t think insidious propaganda and underlying racism drive their comedy. After all, if this hebetudinous clunker was just comedy, Sandler and company wouldn’t have, as the New York Times reported, sought out Arab actors to give the movie “legitimacy.” Their search was successful and a few token Arabs showed their presence to innocuously inform the public that it is okay to vilify the crazy towel-headed terrorists once again.

What makes this movie even worse than many of the unfavorable movies made post-9/11 is Zohan’s disarming presentation; it is a comedic approach to understanding the inner workings of the substandard Arab people. Like the job stealing Mexicans, the liquor store robbing Blacks, and the HIV infested gays, negative stereotypes in Zohan strip down the Arab people to RPG wielding animals that senselessly thirst for Jewish blood.

From the start of the film, Sandler’s character, Zohan, is positioned as the altruistic hero—an Israeli Mossad agent who reluctantly kills Palestinian “terrorists,” while forgoing his real dream: to cut hair in the US for Paul Mitchell. Zohan is “brave,” “lovable,” and “funny,” and even his stereotypical chauvinism is eaten up by women (and men) throughout the movie—including his eventual Palestinian love interest, Dalia.

Compounded with played out, corny penis gags, the Israeli narrative is interwoven into the fabric of the film, including propagandistic reminiscences by Zohan’s father who recalls the oft-repeated myth of being surrounded “on all sides” by powerful enemies during the Six Day War—a war in which Israel preemptively struck and dominated those “enemies.” In line with Israeli and Western intelligence, Israel won the war in six days (and five hours, as Zohan’s father dutifully reminds us)—so much for existential threats and heroic narratives. Other historical revisions include a reference in a verbal battle between a Palestinian and Israeli shop owner, in which the Palestinian proclaimed, “Give it up, like you gave up the Gaza Strip!” This biting taunt, while not as blatant as the common stereotype, infers that Israel “gave up” the Gaza Strip and further insinuates that Israel had claim to it. The “humorous” jeer glosses over the glaring reality: Israel still occupies Gaza’s borders, airspace, imports and exports, and has economically strangulated and suffocated 1.4 million Palestinians in the world’s largest open-air prison.

But rewriting history (and regurgitating jokes from 1996) is hardly the movie’s worst crime. The portrayal of Palestinians as ugly, dirty, incompetent, stupid, goat loving terrorists was jammed down the viewer’s throat more times than Zohan’s lame hummus jokes. It becomes obvious to the audience why these good looking, suave, kindhearted Israelis have to kill these evil Palestinian “terrorists”—because they hate Jews more than they hate soap. The most egregious grievance by a Palestinian “terrorist” throughout the film was the stealing of a pet goat. Israel has killed more than 4,000 Palestinians since the start of the second intifada, including nearly a 1000 children, yet the main gripe of these rabid “terrorists” is a stereotypical love for hillside animals. This “inoffensive” scenario is the equivalent of a scene in a Hollywood “comedy” made by a Palestinian filmmaker stereotypically portraying Jews as pissed off about being sent to Auschwitz because they found out that Hitler was going to make them pay for the train ride.

A particular scene in Zohan went beyond comprehension: Sandler’s casting agency rounded up a handful of children to play Palestinians throwing rocks at Zohan. What does Zohan do in response to the actions of these soon-to-be terrorists? He gleefully catches the stones and turns them into the equivalent of a balloon animal. One is supposed to toss aside any arising sensitivities and overlook the many instances Israeli snipers and soldiers have shot Palestinian children in the head or taken their eyes out with rubber bullets because of these rocks Zohan takes with a smile. The posturing of the noble and affable Mossad agent is a slick attempt to humanize Israel and make the Mossad (an outfit that has engaged in countless operations of state terrorism) look like the valiant GI Joe force in the Middle East combating jihadi thugs in the name of good. But Sandler’s character is not only a hero, he’s also a humanitarian. There are multiple scenes where Zohan informs the audience that Israelis do their best to minimize the loss of innocent Palestinian life, when an examination of the conflict by Israeli human rights organizations exposes quite the opposite.

Other stereotypes saturate the movie. The Palestinian salon that Zohan gets a job at is described as a dump, Palestinians constantly cheer for the “terrorists,” a crowd of Palestinians applaud the death of “heroic” Zohan (which he faked), and the “terrorists” are so stupid and illiterate that they purchase Neosporin instead of liquid nitrogen to make their bomb to kill Zohan. There is no distinction made between Hezbollah, Hamas, jihadists, and terrorist sexcapading sheiks. Furthermore, the film conveniently illustrates how Israelis in the US, as “fellow” natives of the Middle East, suffer the same discrimination and tribulations as Arabs in a post-911 world. Oddly, Israelis are passed off as “brown” and “other” like the Arabs in the film, yet Zohan’s parents look like European Ashkenazi Jews. Moreover, while Israelis are shown as native hummus loving Middle Easterners, Zohan’s family is portrayed distinctively differently from the backwards Arabs. Zohan’s parents are sweet, comforting, reasonable and accepting from beginning to end, not rigid like their Arab counterparts. Even when Zohan finally captures Dalia’s heart, his parents show up in America and warmly embrace their relationship without question—while Dalia and others resist the notion of a courtship between the two and tells Zohan that her family would never accept him. Ah, if only all Arabs could just get to know Israelis and see how kind, generous, and amorous they all are, the sooner we could all sit in a circle singing Kumbaya over s’mores and unfunny Zohan hummus jokes.

The worst dialogue throughout this 102 minute laughless action flick is made by Dalia (played by Emmanuelle Chriqui), Zohan’s eventual Palestinian love interest. She serves at the omnipotent propagandist—blaming the troubles of the conflict on “extremists” and “hate” on both sides. She endlessly and vaguely laments about how much “hate” there is “over there,” and describes to Zohan that things are “different here.” As any knowledgeable American knows, Palestinians and Israelis love each other here in the US; they frequently have bake sales together; they form sit-ins for blind coexistence on college campuses; and have Palestinian/Israeli karaoke nights where they sing their favorite Beatles tunes like Give Peace a Chance. What Sandler, and co-writers Judd Apatow and Robert Smigel, fail to understand is that before there was Hamas, Yasser Arafat, Fatah, the PLO, or any resistance movement, there was the dispossession of the Palestinian people, whereby 780,000 indigenous Palestinians were displaced from their homeland by Jewish gangs and terror groups. Flash forward 60 years and the Palestinian people are living in squalor in demolished towns and refugee camps enduring a 40 year occupation that strangulates their economy and diminishes any semblance of normalcy or a proper life. What we are to believe by watching this film is that if everyone would just stop “hating” (which Israelis are depicted as clearly willing to do, while Palestinians resist it vehemently) Israelis and Palestinians could effortlessly live together in harmony. But “hate” has little to do with a conflict rooted in a people’s desire for basic human rights and an end to oppression.

In the end, everything ends up happy and joyful: Zohan gets the girl, he saves the block from a conniving mall developer, and the “terrorists” stop terrorizing. But the jovial ending left a sour taste in my mouth. As nearly a dozen “nameless” Palestinians were killed by innocent and heroic Israeli soldiers last week and another report of the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza went unnoticed in the US press, people were laughing all over the country at how stupid, feeble, violent and backwards Arabs are. A diehard Sandler fan proclaimed: “He's making it for 13 year old boys. It's Critic Proof.” That’s what scares me most of all.

Remi Kanazi is the editor of the forthcoming anthology of poetry, Poets For Palestine, which can be pre-ordered at www.PoetsForPalestine.com. Remi can be contacted at remroum@gmail.com.

Monday, July 07, 2008


A Short Walk in Palestine--or is it Eretz Yisrael?

A Short Walk in Palestine - or is it Eretz Yisrael?
By Rajah Shehadeh
July 05, 2008

We stopped to eat our picnic breakfast of Nabulsi goat's cheese and tomatoes - which we had to eat whole because I could not risk being stopped on the road carrying a Swiss army knife

My walk in the Ramallah hills with a radio journalist was going well. The weather was balmy, a bulbul was warbling away, grey-green olive trees dotted the terraced slopes. We came upon some natash plants - a highly politicised thistle used in Israeli military courts as evidence that a particular piece of land is uncultivated and is therefore "public land", and so can be confiscated for the "public": Jewish settlers.

We began our walk at the top of the hill near the village of Masra'e Qibiliya, not far from Birzeit University. As the cool air swept my face, I attempted to explain the dramatic changes that have taken place in the Palestinian landscape over the past 60 years. To our right was the new Jewish outpost of Horesh and further north the sister settlements of Talmon B and C, dominating the hilltops of what I call Palestine and the settlers call Eretz Yisrael. Down in the valley was the centuries-old Palestinian village of Ain Qenya, with its ancient spring (or ain), above which stood the settlement of Dolev. All these settlements lie to the east of Israel's annexation wall.

As we walked down, I thought of President Bush's speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel. Using religious language, he described the founding of the state as "the redemption of an ancient promise given to Abraham and Moses and David - a homeland for the chosen people, Eretz Yisrael".

Danger in the hills

Before I'd left home, my wife had made me promise to be cautious. Recently, a young Palestinian out hunting birds had been shot in the back by Israeli settlers not far from where we were walking. Another middle-aged man on an afternoon stroll near his home had been shot to death by the Israeli army. I chose a route that avoided both the army post and the hill where Dolev stood.

Halfway down the hill we stopped to eat our picnic breakfast of Nabulsi goat's cheese and tomatoes - which we had to eat whole because I could not risk being stopped on the road carrying a Swiss army knife. We sat in the shade of the cliff known as Urud el Hamam ("the meeting place of pigeons"), then continued down the steep slope to Ain Qenya. On the way down, we made several stops to record the morning sounds of the nearby village, the cock crowing and the pedlar selling his wares, as well as the more sinister sound of the cement mixer pouring concrete for new housing at the Talmon settlement north of the village.

Who really lives here?

Just as we arrived at Ain Qenya's main and only street, we noticed a car parked at the side of the road. The driver wore a knitted skullcap; next to him sat a younger man with the side locks worn by ultra-religious Jews. The driver rolled down his window and asked: "Who are you?"

I thought he might have mistaken us for Israelis who had lost their way. Reassuringly I said: "I live near here."

Looking me in the eye, the settler said in his poor English: "In different from you, I'm living here, really living here, not like you."

I wanted to know what he meant by "not like you". But the settler did not answer; he rolled up his window and began to dial the army on his mobile. We stood by awkwardly until the Palestinian driver of a van parked nearby called us over and invited us to hop into his vehicle.

"This settler is from Dolev," our driver said. "He's constantly driving down to the village and making trouble. Sometimes he blocks the road with his car, or he brings younger people who throw stones at cars and homes."

When we attempted to turn up the hill to Ramallah, the settler swerved and blocked the road. I was wondering what lies he would tell the army, when - finally - he let us pass. After passing through the army barrier and entering Ramallah, I had the distinct feeling of arriving at a ghetto surrounded by hills forbidden to its residents. As I was driven to my house overlooking these hills, I wondered how much longer it would be before I will be prevented by fanatics from "really living here".

Raja Shehadeh's "Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape" (Profile, £7.99) won the Orwell Book Prize 2008


Sunday, July 06, 2008


Jerusalem Archbishop visits Detroit area

By Khalil AlHajal - The Arab American NewsFriday, 07.04.2008, 09:35pm

An outspoken, high-ranking Orthodox Church figure from Jerusalem, known for speaking out in defense of Palestinians and for Christian-Muslim unity, visited Detroit area homes, religious institutions and Arab American organizations last week.

Archbishop Theodosios Atallah Hanna of the Jerusalem Patriarchate addressed crowds at St. Mary's Antiochian Orthodox Basilica in Livonia and the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn on Wednesday, offering a nationalistic message of unity and human rights advocacy.

Not one to hold back, Hanna sharply criticized Israel and said that all Palestinians who have been displaced from their homes should have the right to return.

He reminded listeners that the Palestinian struggle is not only a Muslim struggle, lamented diminishing numbers of Christians in the Palestinian territories and implored Palestinian Americans to maintain contact with their homeland.

He said only around 50,000 Christians remain in the Occupied Territories, but that they stand by their Muslim countrymen in their fight for rights to land, travel and dignity.
He said the Christian church is tied to the Arab World through history and culture.

"Jesus was born in Palestine, not in Paris, not in Washington or anywhere else. Jesus was Palestinian," he said.

Hanna said to a crowd who squeezed into a Northville home on Tuesday to hear him speak that he felt uplifted when he went into St. Mary's Basilica and saw Palestinian, Lebanese, Syrian, Iraqi, Egyptian and other Americans all worshipping together.

He said to another crowd at the Islamic Center of America on Wednesday that he wants people to stop describing the occupation of Palestine as a Muslim-Jewish conflict but an apartheid system which Christians are also suffering from and fighting against. He also insisted that there is no difference between Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, and that both need to be protected.

George Khoury, of the Ramallah Club of Detroit, brought Hanna to the area to address the annual Ramallah Convention — which began Wednesday and runs through Sunday at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dearborn. He said he also wanted the Archbishop to tour the area and speak to different crowds, knowing his charisma and insight would move people.

"I always wanted to have him address the community here… In Dearborn, I was walking with him down the street and people rushed out of their shop to shake his hand. They recognized him. I didn't know he was that popular."

Rev. George Shalhoub, of St. Mary's Basilica, said Hanna's popularity comes from his youthful spirit and "non-stop passion for the rights of our people.

"This man is only 42 years old, he's like a kid in front of me," said Shalhoub, 59.

While Hanna's high-profile political activism, defiant denunciation of the occupation and advocacy for the importance of Palestinian identity have made him popular with Arabs, they've made him very unpopular with Israeli authorities.

He was arrested in Israel in 2002 for "suspicion of relations with terrorist organizations"; "illegally entering an enemy country (Syria and Lebanon, which have large Orthodox Christian populations)"; and "incitement."

Hanna said after his release that he was targeted and slandered because of the intent of Israeli authorities to silence all nationalistic voices in Jerusalem, and to neutralize the position of Christians. He said the purpose of the church in Palestine is to serve all Palestinians.

"We belong to all the Palestinian people," he said on Wednesday. "Their struggle is just and their suffering is unjust."

Hanna was also accused in 2002 of "supporting Palestinian terrorism" by Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem Eireneos, who fired him from his position as spokesperson for the Patriarchate after he refused to sign a document condemning Palestinian resistance.

Eireneos would later be defrocked by local church leaders after an uproar over a report that he was involved in selling sensitive church property in Jerusalem to Jewish Zionists.

"Defense of human rights and of oppressed people is one of our duties as religious leaders," Hanna said at the mosque on Wednesday.

He said that every time he comes to the U.S., he's impressed by the number of American human rights activists he meets who work to help Palestinians.

He said that while things are hard right now, and often discouraging, Palestinians are still clinging to their rights with their lives.

Palestinians have been "forbidden from freedom," he said, for last the 60 years, and even if it takes "another 60, or 200 years, they will keep fighting occupation and apartheid."


An Apology Does Not Erase the Crime Committed in 1948

Nizar Sakhnini to Al-Awda Discussion Group:


I was born in Acre and my mother was born in Acre.

My father was born in Sakhnin and my grandparents were born in Sakhnin.

I own the lands that my father and my grandfather left for me in Sakhnin.

While you accept any Jew from any where in the globe to come and live in Acre and/or Sakhnin, you want to prevent me from living in my own city and on my own lands. No one has a right to prevent me and the remaining Palestinian Refugees from returning to live in any part of Palestine and to get back the lands that were stolen from them in 1948.

An apology by the Israeli Prime Minister, as suggested by you, does not erase the ethnic cleansing crime committed in 1948. Acceptance of the Right of Return is the only criterion that opens the road for peace and reconciliation.

Nizar Sakhnini, 5 July 2008

Saturday, July 05, 2008


American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine's Fiftieth

Eight-year-old Natalie Samaan, left, gets help Friday putting on her scarf from Alyssa Avdelnour, 10. (Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)
Incensed by the ignorance displayed by two commentators regarding the information in the Wayne County Section of the Detroit News about the American Federation of Ramallah Palestine's 50th Convention, I commented.
Ramallah Convention Thread:

Sat. 07/5/08 04:40 PM

I am a first generation Palestinian-American. My late father was a naturalized US citizen from Ramallah. People with roots in Ramallah have lived in the US for one, two, and three generations and are mainly professionals or business people and loyal US citizens. I have worked for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools for twenty-eight years. I am sure that there are many, many people in the Detroit area who have had positive relations with people with roots in Ramallah, Palestine. For more information about the American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine, please see its website, where you will find the American flag alongside the Palestinian flag.
American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine Website
umkahlil, Bakersfield, CA
Sat. 07/5/08 03:27 PM
Hope there were some "undercovers" in the crowd scouting for extremists.

ziggrl, Waterford, MI

Sat. 07/5/08 08:24 AM

This would be an outstanding place for ICE to do an immigration sweep.

Charles Martel, Dearborn, MI

And the story to which the ignorant commentators were reacting:50th Ramallah Convention
Even with 4,000 attendees, it's all 'family'
DEARBORN -- Friday was a day for exploring Arab culture, playing basketball and card games, and teen dancing for those attending the 50th Ramallah Convention at the Hyatt Regency in Dearborn. The annual three-day event, dubbed the largest Palestinian family reunion in the country, was expected to draw about 4,000 people.


Mideast Christian Group Gathers

Thanks for your input umkahlil.
Here's the note you sent to The Detroit News Forum:

Topic for discussion: Mideast Christian Group Gathers

Your comments:

Thank you for Greg Krupa's story about Palestinian-Americans from the American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine, and thank you for disseminating Archbishop Atallah Hanna's wise words. Palestine will one day be restored and united, with Arab Muslims and Christians living side by side with Jews. The partition of Palestine sixty years ago resulted in great suffering for the Palestinian people. This suffering will be alleviated when Israel respects and implements the very basic right to return for all of Palestine's refugees. "Every one has a right to leave his country and to return to his country," states Article 13, Section 2, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Walls and checkpoints will not deter Palestinians from one day realizing this very basic right. From Nancy Harb Almendras, Palestinian-American with roots in Ramallah, Palestine

Friday, July 4, 2008

Mideast Christian group gathers

Several thousand who share Palestinian roots meet for convention, reunion in Metro area.

Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News

DEARBORN -- These Christian Palestinians say they are among the dispossessed, yearning for a nation to call theirs. Leaders of Christian denominations around the world say they fear these Palestinians may disappear from the Holy Land forever.

Several thousand Christian Palestinians, members of the American Federation of Ramallah Palestine, are gathering at the Hyatt Regency for several days of conferences and a full-immersion into the Arab-American culture of Metro Detroit this week. It is the 50th anniversary of the organization, formed when refugees fled to the United States from the close-knit town of Ramallah after the wars of 1948 and 1967 between Israel and Arab states.
Part social gathering, part business meeting intended to oversee the finances of their large charitable and educational operations, the convention also is a huge family reunion. Each of the various clans in Ramallah are descendants of the seven brothers who founded the ancestral village in 1515. The Christians often married within their extended families, establishing an intimate, unique culture that exists in various cities in the United States and Ramallah.
"Immigrants from the village came to the United States to study and teach, primarily because of the nakba, the founding of Israel and the beginning of the Palestinian question, those immigrants bounced by heritage and tradition created this organization to keep our heritage and culture together," said Emeel Ajluni, a senior manager at Chrysler LLC.

On Thursday, they heard about how difficult the work will be.

Archbishop Theodosios Attallah Hanna, of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the leader of many of the Orthodox Christian Palestinians, said that with the Christian presence in the Holy Land declining from 15 percent of the population in 1950 to 2 percent today, Palestinians in the United States and the territories must resolve that the population cannot disappear.

Many Christians have fled because of the long-running conflict, and because they feel trapped between out-sized Jewish and Muslim interests in Israel, the territories and surrounding countries.

"Jerusalem belongs to three religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity," Theodosios said, through an interpreter. "For us, Jerusalem is the most sacred for our faith; in the whole world, it is the center.

"We have to keep an eye (on) the holy places and to make sure they are safe. And most of all, we have to preserve the Christian presence in the Holy Land.

"I believe in dialogue among the three religions and I am against the extremists," Theodosios said. "Everyone must be free to practice their own religion, and they cannot use religion to advance their causes."

Like an increasing number of residents of the territories, Theodosios said the only justice for the people of the region is a one-state solution in which Jews, Muslims and Christians live side-by-side, seized Palestinian land is returned to Palestinians, and all groups vote for a parliament.
That position is anathema to Israelis, who view it as the end of Israel and a Jewish state.
A number of speakers at the convention, including Mayor Janet Michael of Ramallah, complained that the Israeli crackdown on the movement of Palestinians within the territories is gutting the Palestinian economy. Michael and others also said that several Palestinians were not allowed to attend the convention by Israeli officials, who withheld permission to travel.
"We should either be allowed to build our own airport, or to travel freely from the airport in Tel Aviv," Michael said. "What Israel does is not right. We feel like we are living in a big prison."

Israeli officials say that economic development in the territories would contribute to peace. But the security concerns raised by attacks from Palestinians remains a paramount concern, including an attack Wednesday by the Palestinian driver of a bulldozer that killed three and wounded 45 in Jerusalem.

"I totally agree that economic development is suffering due to some of the conditions, that is certainly true," said Andy David, deputy consul general of Israel to the Midwest. "And we see the suffering. And we feel the suffering. And some of the people suffering from those restrictions are innocent people.

"But if they want to stop this, they need to do just one simple thing: Stop the violence," David said. "It is cause and effect. For there was violence and then there were the restrictions, not vice versa."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has pressed Israel to lift more restrictions on the movement of Palestinians, both within the territories and for foreign travel.
David said such moves have only led to more violence.

"In the past, the alleviating of those restrictions immediately caused more terrorist activity," David said. "Losing business is reversible. Losing life is irreversible."

There are some 30,000 to 40,000 descendants of Ramallah in the United States. Metro Detroit, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Chicago, San Diego and a few southern cities have significant populations.

The city of Ramallah is home to about 30,000 Palestinians, with another 200,000 in the immediate suburbs. It is the site of most of the offices of the Palestinian Authority.

You can reach Gregg Krupa at (313) 222-2359 or gkrupa@detnews.com

Friday, July 04, 2008


The narrative of a young woman: her eyes, life and hope under occupation- Manar Wahhab

From Palestine News Network via Annie's Notes

The narrative of a young woman: her eyes, life and hope under occupation
04.07.08 - 15:15

Bethlehem / Manar Wahhab - I will begin with the story of leaving in 1948 with the words of my grandmother. “Before the British left in May 1948, they humiliated the Arabs.

We used to think that they sold petrol for only five dinars but when we opened the bottles we discovered that they sold us water!”

She continued, “I want to tell you what had happened to me and my family when we lived in Al-Ramlah [a village the Israelis took in 1948]…my six children and I sat at home [one of her children is my father]. Two men knocked on the door. When we opened the door, they told us to leave the house because there would be clashes. We didn’t believe them. I was cooking for my children. Then we suddenly heard shelling and bombing. I took my children and went to the Catholic convent to hide. There we met a lot of people, both Christians and Muslims. The children were afraid and cried because of the sounds they heard. There was no food or water anymore. So we were obliged to bring what we had in our houses. The Israeli soldiers told the boys and men to visit a specific place if they wanted to get permission to be in the streets, but the Israelis were lying: when the men went to the place they all were taken to prison. The Israeli airplanes shelled most of the houses. The snipers killed many boys, men, women, and children, even dogs and cats in the street.”

My grandmother went on. “After a few days my brother who lived in Bethlehem came to Al-Ramlah to take me and my sons with him, my husband didn’t come but he followed us after that. Many families in Al-Ramlah left their houses and went to other places. Some of them went to Nablus, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jordan, and even some immigrated to America. The Jews took a lot of gold and jewelry from the women. They sold it and bought weapons with the money. After they won, they were happy; they drank wine and whiskey. Threw the bottles in the air and broke them on the streets.”

Starting a new life in Bethlehem for my father and his family wasn’t so easy and of course for the other refugees because they had to adapt for the new environment, find jobs and places to live. For my father and his family, and some other people, they were lucky because they have relatives in Bethlehem, but others had to build tents and that what we now call refugee camps.

People thought that they will just stay for a while and go back home, but unfortunately they did not realize what the days held for them so they waited and waited. Eventually after so much time passed they decided to build homes. Refugees used to take food and medical help from the UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) and until this day we have the refuge card with which we can take food from the UNRWA. My grandfather found a job in Bethlehem working in a café, and after that he dug artesian wells. So life continued and my dad grew up, married my mom, and they had my two sisters and me. I grew up hearing about how we are refugees and sometimes my grandmother told stories. Until now I ask and want to know more and more.

I will always keep asking for our rights. I will always tell and teach young people about the Palestinian story so as to pass the torch to every new generation to continue the march for freedom.

The following is a story that happened in 1967 in Bethlehem, this is also coming from my grandmother’s words. She stayed in Bethlehem and didn’t go back to Al-Ramlah. “I was with my son [who is my dad now] going to the market to buy some vegetables and fruits. While we were walking, we saw airplanes in the sky. At first we thought that they were Jordanian. A car came and a man shouted from the window at the people and urged them to go home because these airplanes are Israeli and would shell the area. We all went quickly to our houses. I held my son under my arms and ran home. They kept shelling every night. Then the Israelis soldiers entered Bethlehem. They used to walk in the streets without any fear. They felt safe and secure. We looked at them from the windows without making noise so as not to be seen. The war ended after only six days.”

She added, “On the morning of 5 June 1967, while we sat at home, we heard bombing and shelling. We went quickly to a nearby cave to hide. Nearly 60 persons were hiding in the cave. During the nights nothing happened, we used to go out and to look at the places that had been shelled in the early morning. At one point we saw many Israeli airplanes; initially we thought that they belonged to Iraq and that there is still war out there but unfortunately the war ended in six days and because of that they also call this war ‘The Six Day War.’ After this war the Israelis entered the West Bank. After many years when the first Intifada began in 1987 the Israeli government began to require permission for people to come and go between the West Bank and inside the Israeli boundaries. Life continued up until now but with more hurt more pain, less land, unclear dreams and hope.”

My father lived his life in Bethlehem because he was still a kid when his family was forced to flee from their city. He cannot remember much. When I ask my dad about Al-Ramlah he does not say much but he always tells to me “go to your grandmother she knows everything” and I do go to her and ask her about the life there. She always tells me more things that I didn’t know. My mother is not a refugee. She lived in Bethlehem all her life. She met my father in Bethlehem and they stayed in Bethlehem. My dad took me, my sisters and my mom to Al-Ramlah once when I was a kid but this was the last time and I can’t remember anything. In my dad’s house there is now a Jewish family living in it. I remember once I asked my grandmother about if she and my grandfather went to see their house. She said, “Yes, we did go but we were shocked because a Jewish family was living in it and this Jewish family didn’t allow us to go in and visit the house. It was all very hurtful and difficult. So we can’t think about doing something in this place because it is not our choice.”

Having a refugee status for me is like a reminder for all of us to remember that there is a right that we should keep asking and insisting for until we get it. It reminds us that still there is occupation, it reminds us of the pain that people feel everyday, it reminds us of the dear land which we can’t reach, it reminds us of many things and especially that we have to continue and handle the pain so as to reach the day that peace and justice will be prevail.

My name is Manar Ghaleb Jaleel Wahhab. I'm 22 years old. I live with my family: My father Ghaleb, my mother Ivette, and my two sisters, Dima who is 24 and Rawan who is 21. I'm a refugee from Al-Ramlah city. It was taken by the Israelis in 1948. I graduated from Bethlehem University with a B.A in Business Administration as my Major, with a Minor in Marketing. I live in Bethlehem city near Al Azzeh Refugee Camp. I live in a Christian - Muslim environment. I went to St. Joseph School for Girls. Also I'm an old and active member in the St. Joseph Girl Scout’s. I’m engaged to an Armenian Palestinian young man. His name is Milad Vosgueritchian.

I like swimming, football, drawing, music (especially I like violin). I'm learning how to play on this musical instrument with the help of my teacher who is my father in law. He is also a musician. I have a talent to play on musical instruments without knowing the notes. Beside that I have the talent to write (poets and other things).

I have a sociable personality that reaches towards that of comedians. When I'm with my friends I try to handle their pain by entertaining them. I have a strong personality, with self-confidence, and I like to help people.

I speak Arabic (of course), English, French, and Hebrew. I learned Hebrew by watching Israeli programs on TV.

My dream is to live one day with my husband in a small house and feel safety and stability. Also I dream that one day I will have a horse and ride it freely on my land, which leads to the biggest dream of all: which is to see Palestine free one day. I hope so.

Living in Palestine is a matter of fighting for living instead of dying: fighting for success instead of dying with shame, waiting for hopes and dreams, and looking to the future in a positive way.

Living in Palestine is like being in a big prison. You can feel that you are turning around yourself; you feel sometimes that you can't develop or improve…why? Because of the depressions that we go through because the Israeli government in its procedures is always succeeded in making the Palestinian people ill psychologically. For example geographically we are actually living on 54 percent of West Bank and especially with the Wall being here, it's really awful, ugly, dividing and it makes me feel really sad, bad, but it gives me more of a challenge to keep going and fighting for my rights especially to live freely without any fear or problems. That is the main secret or thing that Israel couldn’t kill: the dream, the hope, the smile, and especially the insistence and the steadfastness that the Palestinian people have to regain their occupied land. For example, my fiancé, Milad, must go through an Israeli checkpoint daily and let the solders see his identity card so as to let him pass to his home. Also I have to pass through this checkpoint every day to reach my work … This checkpoint is humiliating. You never know how much time you need to reach your place because it depends on the mood of the soldiers....is it fair?????

The movement between the Palestinian cities and villages is really hard because of the large number of checkpoints and the tough procedures on the checkpoints. There is no freedom and this is what we, and all the people all over the world, need. The familial relationships are really negatively affected because of the checkpoints and the Wall which divide families from each other. They weaken and lessen the relationships.

We have a depression in our economy, lack of jobs, and increase in the number of the population. This is really a dangerous problem and it became more dangerous when they built the Wall. Israel took all the good land; the agricultural land, the water sources. Actually Israel took all the good land and put us in a closed hopeless place. (That also you will see on the map). People don't know what to do, where to work, how to bring money. It is absolutely not easy. Our economy is going down. Families are not able to pay the fees for school and university studying and because of that a big slice of the nation has left their studies and work to get money to live. And lots of young kids are working now to help there families. The siege raised and doubled this problem.

On the other hand I can say that the problem is not in searching for food or drink and having fun. It is a nation’s pain, hurt and unheard voices that are represented in the daily suffering and difficulties that the people face. We are distracted by watching our occupied country become worse as we still wait for freedom.

The positive side is that in spite of this hard situation still we have hope. We can see the light of the candle that pushes us to continue our march toward our freedom. We still have the smile and hope because Palestinian people are still longing for their freedom. We have hope because our land is very valuable to us. It is something that we feel belongs to us. We feel the pain of our land and we belong to it. The Palestinians will always be hopeful, generation after generation.
I also find hope through my grandmother’s stories of Palestine and the original place that we belong to.

It is also important for me to know about the situation, such as that the Israeli government continues to demolish the houses of the Palestinian people. …Why? Because they are guilty of having a house on their own land (Palestinians)?!!!! The Israel government wants just to take land so as to expand the size of Israel. Israeli report: A demolition of 18,000 (eighteen thousand) houses in the West Bank since 1967. Also the International Solidarity Foundation for Human Rights announced that the Israeli occupation forces killed during the month of January 96 citizens, 87 of whom died in the Gaza Strip, and 71 citizens were killed in assassination operations, and there where 10 kids among those killed. The Israeli occupation forces increased the prison population as well. They arrested over 540 citizens, including more than 50 children under the age of eighteen years old, and three women and many, many other Palestinian people. The arrests included numbers of children and women, in addition to dozens of workers who have been arrested for entering Israel without having permits to enter. Israel has arrested a quarter of the Palestinian population since it began its occupation. Most of them are taken for illogical and unjust reasons. The people in the prisons are affected psychologically and physically from treatment and torture in prisons and there is abundant evidence of that. One of the smallest and newest examples of this is that there is a prisoner from Jerusalem who has lost 90 percent of his eyesight. He is in Administrative Detention: that means he was never charged or tried. The Prison Service did not to treat him despite repeated requests. Every morning we see the numbers, more people killed, how many were arrested, what is the solution, and many other topics.

My fiancé Milad and I are trying really hard to save money you cannot imagine the really hard conditions in which we are living. We have to build ourselves from the beginning. Our families cannot help us because they too do not have enough money even to live normally. This is the situation of almost all the Palestinians. I'm not saying that there are no rich people; there are rich families. But the middle class has become the poor class and the poor have become even more impoverished. Because of that it's a struggle of surviving. For example I said before that I finished a B.A in Business. Me and my sisters all had scholarships from the Catholic Patriarch and from a American institution because there was no money to pay. The same happened for my fiancé.

We are a nation that no Wall, no checkpoints, no demolishing of houses, nor persecutions, can destroy us. We keep insisting on our freedom …we are the powerful nation.

Jerusalem is less than half an hour from Bethlehem but I cannot go there more than two times a year: Christmas and Easter. You have to request permission from the Israelis to enter our churches to pray. Some people don’t get the permission. They are denied, forbidden to enter Jerusalem their entire lives. Imagine if someone forbade you to move within your own country. It is easier for me to go around the world than it is to go to Jerusalem.

I'm a member of the Arab Educational Institute (AEI- Open Windows) whose mission stands for nonviolence, peace, justice, and human rights. It works through community building such as schools, principals, teachers, students, youth, women, and parents through four programs.

In the Arab Educational Institute they do RRCA which stands for (Read, Reflect, Communicate and Act). They read from the holy books like the bible and the Qur’an or from nonviolence books about people like Gandhi. They read the subject, reflect upon it and then every one explains his belief. They all then communicate the results together and they also try to act upon what they read. They also celebrate things like the United Nations Day for Peace, communicate with schools, conduct sit-ins and protests against the occupation, all done in a nonviolent and spiritual manner.

Now I am working as a public relations officer and projects coordinator in our new small center which was established by my fiancé and his brother (Milad and Noubar Vosgueritchian). Establishing this center in the midst of a population that is diverse was challenging for them.

The center seeks and aims to help society, particularly the kids and youth that are gifted with a variety of talents and abilities; because these are the pillars on which a healthy society should stand. Guiding, directing, and channeling these groups’ abilities promotes the process of evolvement of opportunities towards the acquisition of culture, literature and the various forms of arts. Moreover the vision of the center looks for strengthening the Palestinian youth by raising their awareness regarding teaching new concepts and terms such as learning other cultures, including that of Palestine, human rights, nonviolence, peace and justice.

“Don’t react violently but relax and take it easy.” That is what I believe.

We as Palestinians are fed up with violence and believe in the path of nonviolence which resonates for effectively throughout the world.

Some German non-violence communication teachers (those who follow Marshall Rosenberg) gave us as Palestinian Muslim and Christian youth in the AEI a course about NVC (nonviolent communication). It went so well and we benefited from this experience. For me I learned that I should not blame the other (sister, friend, neighbors, even Israelis). I should always think and ask about the reason and background of the things, and I should have deep insight into the problem, and also search for the truth before making any decision.

If I did the PR for Palestine I would do my best to reach people in the world, people who see in life things more than eating, sleeping and just having fun all the time while at the same time there are people in other parts of the world fighting for their survival. If I did the PR for Palestine I would talk to every foreigner who come to this Holy Land and let him/her see and feel the truth in our eyes, in our lives, in our facts…I would speak with tourists and go with them to different places to let them see with their own eyes what is happening so as not just to depend on the eye of the camera ( what they see on TV) which is controlled by Zionist lobby… because if the western world wants to know the whole truth they should stop depending on what they see on TV and start searching for other ways to reach the real truth. If I did the PR for Palestine I would distribute books to the foreigners; books that are written by Palestinian people and refugees, books for Palestine, and books talking about the Palestinian pain. Also I will use every technological way like websites and make use of my Internet access to also spread the word of truth.

In the end, pressure leads to explosions. That explains what happened in the Gaza Strip. The breakthrough in the Gaza Strip for me and for all people who understand what it means to be blocked in without water, without food, without basic needs, and who understand what it means to be in a bird cage, can understand what happens in the Gaza Strip. People there did this not just because they want food and other needs, people there wanted to feel free. They are under such tremendous pressure really. Please if you want to feel a small part of what it is like being locked in your city, do this: enter your room don't take food and water. Turn off the electricity and lock the door. What would you do? Ask yourself really. For me I know this feeling because I used to live under curfews and closures, especially the 40 days of curfew in Bethlehem. During curfew no one can go out of their home, no matter what is his need. If the soldiers saw someone in the street they would shoot him or throw gas at him, or they would take him to prison. I watched this many times through the windows, and it even happened to me. What I'm trying to say is that we must break through. We are fed-up. We are finished living like this. We want freedom and dignity like anyone else in the world. At this moment I will like I will explode. But I am grateful to have a pen and a piece of paper to write this on, to write down my pain, my fear, my desire for freedom and my hope that we will achieve it.

Shots, bombs, tanks, bullets, jeeps, military helicopters, F-16s, I got used to these things. In the beginning when I for the first time heard and saw tanks and military jeeps I was frightened especially when there was shooting in the night where the Israelis turn off the electricity in the area. That also means that they will attack there. I am used to this now. So now if during the day when I hear shooting or I see military jeeps I don't feel so afraid because they are coming in these days to Bethlehem to arrest people or to pass through, to remind us that they are in control. I used to collect bullet shells. Now I don’t find as many. But the numbers of prisoners, killed, handicapped, and emotionally destroyed by the Israeli occupiers are too high.

I believe in nonviolence and that education is the most important tool we have. We have a 90 percent rate of educated people in Palestine. But now that number is going down because of the Wall, the land confiscation, the siege and the economic collapse due to those. There are also families leaving, and if not entire families, the young people are leaving in droves when they get any opportunity.

My message is one of hope: we want justice and freedom. And we want you to come here and see the reality.

We are people of life, not people for death.

Written by: Manar G. Jaleel Wahhab
Arab Palestinian Christian refugee

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