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[l] at 7/16/19 2:00pm

A half-century ago, Malcolm X warned us: “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”

I’m writing to you today to remind you that when it comes to Israel and Palestine, the journalism in Mondoweiss counters this tendency in the mainstream media.

Mondoweiss informs people around the globe, sharing story after story of Palestinian humanity. But we can only tell these stories because of support from you and other readers. This summer, we must raise $80,000 to keep delivering the news. Can you donate today?

You’ve been right there with Mondoweiss as we brought you stories of heartache and triumph, stories of struggle and of solidarity. Stories of arrests, protests, and deaths, but also of births, weddings, and the joy in daily life. Stories of rock concerts on rubble, poetry in prison. These are the stories of humanity that you are passionate about and Mondoweiss works every day to ensure they reach as many people as possible.

Exciting news: A generous donor has set a challenge for you and the Mondoweiss community. He has promised to contribute $20,000 if we can raise $60,000 by August 1 to press forward in sharing the truth about Palestine. But we can only get there with your help. Please give now.

Meet The Challenge (button)

The crisis in Palestine affects millions of people—and you care about the humans behind the numbers, the people who have faces, feelings, and families. You rely on us to tell their stories, and they rely on you to share them, to make the rest of the world care as you do.

While Palestinians are constantly dehumanized in the mainstream media, Mondoweiss reporters are there on the ground to offer critical snapshots of humanity. For example, you probably know that during the Great March of Return thousands of protesters have been shot, hundreds killed. But numbers of casualties mean very little in media saturated with competing demands for attention.

Faraj and Ashraf Abu Jazar. Photo by Mohammed Asad.

Faraj and Ashraf Abu Jazar. Photo by Mohammed Asad.

Thanks to Mondoweiss, you have glimpsed the lives of families devastated by Israel’s violence. On February 15, for example, 17-year-old Ashraf Abu Jazar and his 19-year-old brother Kayed were both shot at the Gaza border.

Since the Great March of Return began, three other brothers of theirs were wounded as well—and three more have been injured by Israeli forces in the past. Mahmoud, the oldest son, described protesting at the Gaza fence as his need to “restore some humanity that has been ripped off since you were born.”

And that’s what Mondoweiss sets out to do every day—restore humanity to those the mainstream press casts as faceless victims or terrorists.

Stop and think back for a moment on the stories that have touched you. Was there an event that brought you into the movement? Did you read about Ahed Tamimi, Yasser Murtaja, or Razan al-Najjar—a story that made you feel a real, human connection to someone in Palestine? Have you sent a story to someone that opened their eyes?

Our next story could be the story to change someone’s mind. But we need your ongoing support — tax-deductible in the U.S. — so reporters can do the work. Can we count on you to contribute today?

Meet The Challenge (button)

Over the next few weeks, we’ll remind you of some of the vivid stories you read this year thanks to Mondoweiss. One story at a time can make a difference—and does. Hundreds of people have told us that reading Mondoweiss helped change their thinking and bring them to solidarity with Palestine. And we need your support to keep telling these powerful stories.

You know these stories aren’t just words on a screen or a page. Compelling stories build power by changing minds. And there is no better proof than the extreme measures Israel and its apologists take to silence these stories. Imprisoning the poet, gunning down the photojournalist, working to outlaw even minimal criticism in the United States. They want to stifle every voice of truth, but as long as we know you’re listening and reading, we’ll keep telling these stories.

With your help these are stories we will and must keep telling.


P.S. Mondoweiss is independent because we are sustained almost entirely by reader support. We can reach thousands of people without trimming our sails editorially or politically, because of you. Your support makes an enormous difference.

[Category: Site News, Fundraising]

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[l] at 7/16/19 1:58pm

It’s been nine months since Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour was finally set free from a five month prison term, three years under house arrest, and an even longer legal battle with Israeli authorities.

But just as she was re-acclimating to a life of freedom, her world was turned upside down again earlier this month, when Israeli prosecutors filed an appeal with the Supreme Court to reopen the case against her.

Tatour, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, was convicted of three counts of incitement and supporting a terrorist organization in May 2018, over a series of poems she published on social media.

Prior to sentencing, Tatour had already spent nearly three years under house arrest, during which time she was banned from publishing and accessing the internet.

During the trial, prosecutors focused on a video posted to social media of Tatour reciting an original poem titled “Resist, my people resist them,” against backdrop images of violent confrontations between Palestinian and Israeli armed forces.

Tatour and her defense team argued that Israeli authorities grossly and intentionally misinterpreted her poem as a call for violence against the state, something Tatour has vehemently denied.

Dareen Tatour enters prison in Israel to serve a 5-month sentence for incitement after she wrote a poem and posted it online, August 8, 2018. (Photo: Danielle Alma Ravitzki/Instagram)

In May 2019, eight months after she was released from prison, Tatour was partially acquitted when a Nazareth District Court approved an appeal from the poet and overturned her conviction over the “Resist, my people resist them” poem, but let stand her conviction over two other  social media posts.

At the time, the court said of the poem:“This doesn’t involve unequivocal remarks that would provide the basis for a direct call to carry out acts,” adding that “freedom of expression is accorded added weight when it also involves freedom of artistic and creative [expression]… and therefore the limits must be stretched to protect the right of creative freedom.”

Less than two weeks later, on July 1st, Tatour received a notice from the Supreme Court that the public prosecutor’s office was appealing the ruling by the Nazareth District Court.

“Once again, the State of Israel intends to undermine my right of artistic expression,” Tatour said in a statement published on the website of US-based civic organization Avaaz.

“The Supreme Court has set July 22nd, 2019 as the date by which my attorney must submit a statement. If we do not convince the Supreme Court that the Attorney’s Office charges must be repudiated and the prosecutor’s claim is accepted, my entire case will be reopened, and I will face charges again,” Tatour wrote.

In three statements published in English, Arabic, and Hebrew, Tatour urged supporters to sign a petition in support of her freedom of expression and “as a sign of popular and societal resistance against oppression and silencing.”

The petition has so far received 490 out of the 500 desired signatures.

While Tatour acknowledged that “even thousands of signatures will neither affect the Israeli judiciary in the Supreme Court nor the policy of silencing and intimidation of the State of Israel against critical voices,” she urged people to sign the petition as a symbol of solidarity.

“This petition embodies a  unified voice shouting out loud: We are together. We will not be silenced. We protect art, poetry and freedom of expression,” Tatour wrote.

“I will not give up as I know it is a collective struggle to protect our basic rights,” she continued. “Despite the hardship of facing a new trial, I will continue my struggle for freedom of expression and especially artistic expression. This trial is not my personal trial. It is the trial of every artist, poet, writer and human being.”

Tatour was arrested by Israeli police in October 2015, a time when small-scale attacks, carried out by Palestinians against Israeli armed forces were on the rise in the occupied Palestinian territory. As a result, Israeli authorities embarked on a large scale, highly criticized, arrest campaign of Palestinians for social media posts deemed as “incitement.”

A 2017 Haaretz report found that Israeli forces detained at least 400 Palestinians in less than a year over social media activity.

At the same time, the Arab Center for Social Media Advancement 7amleh reported that slanderous, provocative, and threatening posts made by Israelis against Arabs and Palestinians more than doubled in 2016, reaching 675,000 posts made by 60,000 Hebrew-speaking Facebook users — without a single case being opened against an Israeli.

[Category: News, Dareen Tatour]

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[l] at 7/16/19 11:40am

Michelle Goldberg addresses the divide between leftists and liberals inside the Democratic Party in a New York Times column urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to fight Trump and not the “squad,” the first-term leftwing congresswomen Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (whom Pelosi dismissed as lacking “any following. They’re four people”).

Goldberg says the left is annoying, but it needs to be “courted.”

“You can rail at the apathy and nihilistic demands for purity of people who hate Trump’s politics but didn’t vote for Clinton — I certainly have. But it is simply a fact that leftists, as well as the generally disaffected, need to be courted just as moderates do.”

She has a lot to say about the left’s manners, and little about its proposals.

“Leftist criticism can be uniquely grating to liberals, especially the kind that treats disagreements over strategy as differences of morality. And some of the newcomers’ rhetoric has been stupid and irresponsible. “

Liberal bashing of lefties (also called hippy punching) is something I see constantly, both online and more subtly at the New York Times, and it is a big problem because it gets in the way of people understanding some issues. Instead people start talking about how they see themselves as moderate or practical and the importance of the  issues often get lost under the posturing.

Goldberg is saying what some well-meaning liberals say. They want unity against Trump, but they also want to keep lefties on their leash. Several points:

1. People haven’t “courted” leftists in decades. They are told they have to choose the lesser evil and like it. They are told they have to support a warmonger like Hillary Clinton and they are nihilists if they object to a party that put her forward as a foreign policy genius. And it is the same on domestic policy. We have a horrible health care system and the planet faces a climate crisis and we are supposed to settle for policies that are at best inadequate and at worst catastrophic. Who are the nihilists here? By the way, I voted for Clinton and grudgingly accept lesser evil voting logic. But as the saying goes, don’t excrete liquid waste on me and tell me it is precipitating.

2. Given that this has been the case for decades, I don’t think you can make a distinction that Goldberg does between strategy and morality. This isn’t a matter of people simply recognizing that in politics you can’t have it all. The Democratic Party and many self-described liberals want leftist votes, but do not want leftist goals.

3. How many leftists have regular columns at the NYT? Ages ago, before the internet, Alexander Cockburn had a column at the Wall Street Journal, but he was clearly a token. People on what in America is called the far left are largely kept out of the discussion and used as punching bags even in Goldberg’s piece here, when Goldberg urges that they be treated with more respect. But she is saying as much for strategic reasons. She realizes Democrats might need their votes. Good, but from her NYT throne she can dismiss leftist critics. They irritate her, but she will not entertain the notion that they might have legitimate criticisms of the liberal approach.

4. One can distinguish between structural factors and the motives of individual liberals you might know in real life or even encounter online. There are obvious reasons why the mainstream press including the so called liberal NYT acts as a gatekeeper and mainly talks down to leftists on economic and foreign policy issues rather than letting them speak for themselves. They will, however, publish radical proposals on pronoun usage. Whatever one thinks about that , it is clearly not a proposal that threatens anything they care about.

On the individual level liberals can be all over the map, but many follow the lead of the mainstream press, thinking that this is where the best thinking on political issues can be found and they echo what they read. I’ve encountered several people who dismissed the importance of US complicity in crimes against humanity in East Timor decades back and in Yemen today right up until the point where it became a mainstream stance that it really mattered. (In both cases the full bipartisan shamefulness of the story never was fully made clear by the MSM). Once their mainstream sources told them the story mattered, they agreed. Educated liberals are far more susceptible to propaganda than they realize. We probably all are. But getting back to the educated liberals, believing in the reliability of the quality liberal press is a class and tribal marker. The only exception is that they might get mad at the press for being too critical of Democrats and playing false equivalency games with Republicans. Until Trump came along, they may have been partly right.

And not all liberals or self-proclaimed liberals are honestly misled. At least one of the Yemen dismissers I have encountered was motivated by devotion to Obama: if Obama chose to support the Saudi bombing because the Saudis were upset over the Iran nuclear deal then it was unfair to criticize him. The important thing here was to protect Obama’s honor. And other liberals like the system the way it is. They favor incrementalism not as a gradual path to radical change, but to avoid it. This is so obvious a point one should wonder why the lovers of incrementalism usually never bother to acknowledge it. A sincere liberal who favors leftist goals could accept incrementalism as a strategy while admitting its dangers, but when people make a fetish about their alleged pragmatism and their incrementalism philosophy without admitting those dangers exist, then something else is going on.

I haven’t mentioned the Palestinian issue once in this post. But it should be easy to see the role of incrementalism in that case. It has led to the death of the two state solution, the outcome that the incrementalists ostensibly favored.

[Category: Media Analysis, AOC, Ayanna Pressley, climate change, Hillary Clinton, Ilhan Omar, Michelle Goldberg, Nancy Pelosi, New York Times, Rashida Tlaib]

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[l] at 7/16/19 9:48am

Israeli Jews are overwhelmingly rightwing and do not want Palestinians in their government as ministers or part of the governing coalition because they question Palestinian loyalty to the state, one of the country’s leading political scientists says. Benjamin Netanyahu has the inside track to remain prime minister because he supports the “Jewish identity” of the state, she says. And anyone who expects a liberal Zionist to gain power is deluded. The left is a “marginal” factor in the Israeli election in September.

The only thing Palestinians and Jews in Israel agree about is: The Trump peace plan is going nowhere.

Tamar Hermann

Tamar Hermann of the Israel Democracy Institute spoke to the liberal Zionist group Israel Policy Forum last week, and reported on the latest surveys of Israeli public opinion.

By a whopping 39 to 24 percent, Prime Minister Netanyahu outpolls his nearest rival , Benny Gantz of Blue and White, as the best choice to be PM. The fact that their parties, Likud and Blue and White, are likely to get similar numbers of parliamentary seats doesn’t mean that the two leaders are standing “on equal footing,” Hermann says.

Who do you want as PM?

“Right now it seems that Likud will be more capable of being the so-called party of the next coalition” than Blue and White, Hermann says, because there are far more political resources on the right than center. Though Avigdor Lieberman/Yisrael Beteinu remain the x factor, having gained strength since Lieberman ended Netanyahu’s hopes of making a coalition after the April election.

Polling, May to July 2019, by Israel Democracy Institute

Israeli Jews are overwhelmingly rightwing. In the 1990s, there were two electoral camps: left and right. Today the left is a “very small political bloc,” 12 percent of Israeli Jews, that cannot achieve anything politically. Hermann cautioned liberal outsiders to give up their “expectations” of the Israeli left to have real influence on policymaking or construction of next government. It won’t happen.

Political blocs in Israel June 2019, per the Israel Democracy Institute.

The people vote for the right “because it emphasizes the Jewish identity of the state,” Hermann says. They might support the economic policies of the left but don’t vote left because they don’t think the left respects the “Jewishness” of the state, because the left sides with Arabs.

Of course Palestinians are on the left, but the Jewish left and the Palestinian left are largely separate. They are divided by “the issue of Zionism,” Hermann says. “[The Palestinians] see themselves as on the left but they do not share the Zionist commitment of the Israeli Jewish left.” Zionism makes it “very, very difficult to create a Jewish Arab coalition” or even just a political alliance in which the Palestinians would serve as a “safety net” for a leftleaning coalition governing majority.

Palestinians need not apply to be part of any Israeli government. When it comes to the “desire of the Arabs to take part in strategic policy making discussions, the majority of the Jewish public says No,” Hermann says flatly. Liberals Americans should read this closely:

“We get over 60 percent time and again of Jews refusing to have the Arab parties be part of the [governing] coalition, and of having Arab ministers… The only resource that Jews are unwilling to share is actually political power over the decision-making processes in Israel… One fifth of the population is thought by the majority group as unqualified or as having no rights of taking part in the most critical political processes.”

(No wonder many American leftists see Zionism as racist.)

Palestinians think they can be part of the Palestinian nation and still be loyal citizens. But Jews question their loyalty. Hermann said that the 68 percent of the Jews in the poll below don’t think Palestinians can be part of the Palestinian nation and be loyal citizens. Palestinians overwhelmingly believe they can be both.

Loyalty to Israel of Palestinians who believe they are part of the Palestinian nation. Israel Democracy Institute.

The Palestinians don’t like the 2018 nation state law, and increasingly do not think Israel has the right to define itself as the nation state of the Jewish people. And Hermann says that negativity feeds the desire of the Jewish majority to insist on making clear to Palestinians, it’s a Jewish state.

Palestinians on the nation state law.

Israeli Jews and Palestinians live in utterly separate mental spheres. Most Israelis feel very good indeed about the country; it has more successes than failures. But of the 9 percent who believe it has more failures than successes are mainly Arabs, Hermann says. “To a significant extent some parts of the Israeli Arabs are actually detached from the mainstream Israeli discourse.”

 

Israeli attitudes on the state’s achievements/failures. Polling by Israel uwarDemocracy Institute.

Resolving the Palestinian conflict is seen as an important issue by only 7 percent of Israeli Jews. Security comes second to economic issues, Hermann says, because Jews regard the current security arrangements as “good” and approve the Israel Defense Forces’ handling of security matters. The Iran issue is not considered an immediate threat, and Palestinians are not thought of as “a real danger.”

A third intifada is not thought of as a realistic likelihood in the near future. Peace with Palestinians was “totally absent” in the last elections and lacking very dramatic events, it won’t lose its “very marginal place” in the Israeli elections. As for promoting equality in Israeli society– that means promoting equality within Israeli Jewish society, Hermann explained.

Considerations on the part of Israeli Jewish voters. June 2019.

More on the segregation. Asked, Is Israel democratic for Arabs? a very strong majority of Jews say, yes, while Palestinian majority says No. Which only shows you that these two groups don’t see things from a similar perspective, Hermann says, and of course this is a reason that many Arabs don’t want to take any part in political life of Israel.

Is Israel democratic for Palestinian citizens? Israel Democracy Institute. June 2019.

Here’s one thing they agree on. The Trump peace plan. “Almost everyone, Jews and Arabs, in Israel do not have almost any expectation that this would lead to peace.” The differences among political groups are minor.

Do you believe Trump peace plan will succeed? low percentages in Israel, per Israel Democracy Institute.

Only 25 percent of religious Israeli Jews support a two-state solution, 11 percent of ultra-orthodox, 36 percent of traditional Israelis. A large majority– 68 percent– of Israeli seculars support a two-state solution, but only about a third of them think it is realistic. So even among that portion of Israel that supports two states, they don’t believe it’s going to happen. By age, the numbers are even crueler. Nearly 2/3 of Jews over 55 favor a two-state solution. But among 18-34 year olds the number is 32 percent.

Support for two state solution among Jews by age, in Israel.

Jews are increasingly identifying themselves as Jews rather than Israelis. Hermann says it’s especially true of religious young Jews participating in politics. Palestinian identity is chiefly as Arabs and Muslim/Christians, the polling shows. Only 9.5 percent see themselves as “Israelis.” Of course the nation state law “also had a negative effect on the willingness of the Israeli Arabs to participate in the elections.”

Israeli and Palestinian identity. June 2019, Israel Democracy Institute.

 

[Category: News, Avigdor Lieberman, Benny Gantz, Blue and White, Nation State Law, Netanyahu, Palestinians]

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[l] at 7/16/19 7:40am

Israeli police forced out the Siyam family from their home in the heart of occupied East Jerusalem last week, the final chapter in their 25-year legal battle against a powerful settler organisation.

The family’s defeat represented much more than just another eviction. It was intended to land a crushing blow against the hopes of some 20,000 Palestinians living in the shadow of the Old City walls and Al Aqsa mosque.

Dozens of families in the Silwan neighbourhood have endured the same fate as the Siyams, and the Israeli courts have approved the imminent eviction of many hundreds more Palestinians from the area.

But, unlike those families, the Siyams’ predicament briefly caught public attention. That was because one of them, Jawad Siyam, has become a figurehead of Silwan’s resistance efforts.

Mr. Siyam, a social worker, has led the fight against Elad, a wealthy settler group that since the early 1990s has been slowly erasing Silwan’s Palestinian identity, in order to remake it as the City of David archeological park.

Mr. Siyam has served as a spokesman, drawing attention to Silwan’s plight. He has also helped to organise the community, setting up youth and cultural centres to fortify Silwan’s identity and sense of purpose in the face of Israel’s relentless oppression.

However, the settlers of Elad want Silwan dismembered, not strengthened.

Elad’s mission is to strip away the Palestinian community to reveal crumbling relics beneath, which it claims are proof that King David founded his Israelite kingdom there 3,000 years ago.

The history and archeological rationalisations may be murky, but the political vision is clear. The Palestinians of Silwan are to be forced out like unwelcome squatters.

An Israeli human rights group, Peace Now, refers to plans for the City of David as “the transformation of Silwan into a Disneyland of the messianic extreme right wing”.

It is the most unequal fight imaginable – a story of David and Goliath, in which the giant fools the world into believing he is the underdog.

It has pitted Mr. Siyam and other residents against not only the settlers, but the US and Israeli governments, the police and courts, archaeologists, planning authorities, national parks officials and unwitting tourists.

And, adding to their woes, Silwan’s residents are being forced to fight both above and below ground at the same time.

The walls and foundations of dozens of houses are cracking and sinking because the Israeli authorities have licensed Elad to flout normal safety regulations and excavate immediately below the community’s homes. Several families have had to be evacuated.

Late last month Elad flexed its muscles again, this time as it put the finishing touches to its latest touristic project: a tunnel under Silwan that reaches to the foot of Al Aqsa.

(Cartoon: Carlos Latuff)

(Cartoon: Carlos Latuff)

On Elad’s behalf, the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, and Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, wielded a sledgehammer to smash down a symbolic wall inaugurating the tunnel, which has been renamed the Pilgrimage Road.

Elad claims – though many archaeologists doubt it – that in Roman times the tunnel was a street used by Jews to ascend to a temple on the site where today stands the Islamic holy site of Al Aqsa.

The participation of the two US envoys in the ceremony offered further proof that Washington is tearing up the peacemaking rulebook, destroying any hope the Palestinians might once have had of an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Mr. Friedman called the City of David complex – at the core of occupied Palestinian Jerusalem – “an essential component of the national heritage of the State of Israel”. Ending the occupation there would be “akin to America returning the Statue of Liberty”.

While Israel, backed by the US, smashes Silwan’s foundations, it is also dominating the sky above it.

Last month Israel’s highest planning body approved a cable car from Israeli territory in West Jerusalem into the centre of Silwan.

It will connect with the City of David and a network of boardwalks, coffee shops and touristic tunnels, such as like the Pilgrimage Road, all run by Elad settlers, to slice apart Silwan.

And to signal how the neighbourhood is being reinvented, the Israeli municipality enforcing the occupation in East Jerusalem recently named several of Silwan’s main streets after famous Jewish rabbis.

Former mayor Nir Barkat has said the goal of all this development is to bring 10 million tourists a year to Silwan, so that they “understand who is really the landlord in this city”.

Few outsiders appear to object. This month, the tourism website TripAdvisor was taken to task by Amnesty International for recommending the City of David as a top attraction in Jerusalem.

And now, Elad has felled the family of Jawad Siyam in a bid to crush the community’s spirits and remaining sense of defiance.

As it has with so many of Silwan’s homeowners, Elad waged a decades-long legal battle against the family to drain them of funds and stamina.

The Siyams’ fate was finally sealed last month when the Israeli courts extended the use of a 70-year-old, draconian piece of legislation, the Absentee Property Law, to Silwan.

The law was crafted specifically to steal the lands and homes of 750,000 Palestinian refugees expelled in 1948 by the new state of Israel.

Ownership of the Siyams’ home is shared between Jawad’s uncles and aunts, some of them classified by Israel as “absentees” because they now live abroad.

As a result, an Israeli official with the title Custodian of Absentee Property claimed ownership of sections of the house belonging to these relatives, and then, in violation of his obligations under international law, sold them on to Elad. Police strong-armed the family out last week.

To add insult to injury, the court also approved Elad seizing money raised via crowdfunding by more than 200 Israeli peace activists, with the aim of helping the Siyams with their legal costs.

Palestinians such as Jawad Siyam exist all over the occupied territories – men and women who have given Palestinians a sense of hope, commitment and steadfastness in the face of Israel’s machinery of dispossession.

When Israel targets Jawad Siyam, crushes his spirits, it sends an unmistakeable message not only to other Palestinians, but to the international community itself, that peace is not on its agenda.

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

[Category: Opinion, City of David, Elad, Israeli Settlements, Land Grab: Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Silwan]

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[l] at 7/16/19 7:29am

JUSTICE FOR SOME
Law and the Question of Palestine
by Noura Erakat
352 pp. Stanford University Press $30.00

I make no claim to approach this book with an open mind. Making a fuller disclosure, I acknowledge with some pride that I have endorsed Justice for Some even before it was published, and my blurb appears on its back cover. Beyond this, two months ago I took part in a book launch at George Mason University where Noura Erakat is on the faculty. My effort in this review is not to make a calm appraisal of the book’s strengths and weaknesses, but rather to celebrate it as a major scholarly contribution to the critical literature devoted to resolving the Israel/Palestine struggle in line with the dictates of justice rather than by a continuing reliance on muscular weight of subjugation as augmented by geopolitics. And accordingly, to seize this opportunity to urge a careful reading of Justice for Some by all those interested in the Palestinian struggle as well as those curious about the way law works for and against human wellbeing as revealed by its use in a sequence of historical and societal circumstances.

Erakat focuses on the deformations of militarism and geopolitics that have been inflicted on the Palestinian people as a whole, making readers aware of how ‘law’ and injustice have all too often collaborated through the decades. Erakat brilliantly offers readers this illuminating critical jurisprudential exposition, but she does not stop there. Justice for Some also partakes of a constructivist methodology in the following sense. While Israel has cleverly deployed law to oppress the Palestinian people, Erakat’s text also explains to readers how law can and is being used on behalf of justice, serving the cause of Palestinian empowerment as integral to the ongoing emancipatory struggle of the Palestinian people.

In a sense my own partisanship on behalf of the Palestinian struggle parallels that of Erakat who makes evident from the Preface that her intention is to depict Palestinian territorial and national victimization as transparently as possible through the optic of law and human rights and to deplore the Israeli use of legal regimes, procedures, and tactics to carry forward the Zionist project at the. cruel expense of the Palestinians.

Law and the Question of Palestine." (Image: Stanford University Press)

Cover of “Justice for Some:
Law and the Question of Palestine.” (Image: Stanford University Press)

Justice for Some represents an important trend in scholarship, which seeks to combinge academic objectivity with undisguised ethical and political engagement. Such a combination of goals might seem appropriate when dealing with a struggle as poignant as Israel/Palestine, but it has not been so treated in mainstream scholarship. The academic canon on scholarly writing continues to favor the posture of neutrality or supposed objectivity as to policy implications, which is but a professional mask worn by naïve or cynical academicians unwilling to own up to their own subjectivities of perspective. Worse than this, the Zionist influence over scholarly and media discourse on this subject-matter is so great that forthright writing of the sort contained in Erakat’s book is censored, self-censored, and attacked as ‘biased.’ For the mainstream, Erakat’s originality and the persuasiveness of her analysis is ignored if she is lucky, and if not, demeaned. Such authors are often attacked as representatives of the so-called ‘New Anti-Semitism,’ that is, a label used to discredit writing and writers critical of Israel’s policies and practices by maliciously merging criticism with hatred of Jews. This deformed equation offers us a definition of hate speech that amounts to imposing a death sentence on freedom of expression. It is a national disgrace that American legislative bodies at the state and federal level are swallowing such cool aid!

It is difficult to convey Erakat’s jurisprudential originality without extensive discussion, but I will try. Much springs from her bold assertion “I argue that law is politics.” (4) By this she means, put crudely, ‘the force of law’ depends on ‘the law of force,’ that is legal rights without the capability to implement the law to some degree is without effect or its insidious effect is to give legal cover to inhumane behavior.  Or as Erakat puts it metaphorically, politics provides the wind that a sail needs for the boat to move forward. At the same time Erakat when discussing Palestinian rights and tactics is insistent that the advocacy of ‘force’ does not imply a reliance on or a call for violence. Her tactical affirmation of nonviolence becomes explicit when she discusses approvingly the political relevance of the BDS campaign as well as in her endorsement of various efforts to discredit Israel at the United Nations and elsewhere.

Overall, Erakat reasons persuasively that Israel has been more adept than the Palestinians in making effective use of law, partly because the wind is at their back due to their linkages to geopolitics, especially the United States, but also because Israeli legal experts have done their ‘legal work’ better than have the Palestinians. Erakat’s book can be read as a stimulus to Palestinians to make better use of what she calls ‘principled legal opportunism.’ (19) In a larger sense, Israel due to geopolitical backing and discourse control has succeeded in having its most flagrant international crimes including the excessive use of force, collective punishment, and state terror ‘legalized’ under rubrics of ‘security’ and ‘self-defense,’ open ended legal prerogatives inherent in the very notion of a sovereign state. In contrast, Palestinians exercising an entirely justifiable right of resistance even if exercised against military targets is internationally criminalized and Palestinian behavior is characterized as ‘acts of terror.’ Israel’s most sinister ‘legal’ trick has been to defy international law repeatedly and flagrantly without suffering any adverse consequences. This dynamic of defying the law can be illustrated by Israel’s dismissal of the World Court Advisory Opinion of 2004 despite the agreement of 14 of the 15 judges (does it surprise anyone, that the lone dissenter was the American judge?) that building the separation wall on occupied Palestinian territory violated the basic norms of international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions (1977).

Erakat also deserves praise by maintaining a scholarly tone while not mincing her words or becoming entrapped in the often fuzzy language of law. The question of language is crucial to her understanding of the disjunctions between law and justice that have deprived the Palestinian people, and their nation, of the basic rights for more than a century. Erakat is straightforward in a manner of very few international law scholars that the issues at stake arise can be only properly evaluated if fully contextualized historically and ideologically.  Following Anthony Anghie, and several others, Erakat deems it essential to expose the roots of modern international law as reflective of a legal framing that served to legitimate European colonialism and its practices. She provocatively extends this generalization to Israel, identifying it as the last ‘settler colonial’ state to be established. I would add that Israel was established despite the powerful anti-colonial current of history that has flowed in one direction since 1945.

Erakat is equally prepared to identify the Israeli prolonged occupation of Palestine following the 1967 War as having become ‘annexation.’ She also affirms the view that Israel’s manner of controlling the Palestinian people through political fragmentation and the instrumentalities of law is a form of ‘apartheid.’ In critical and constructivist approaches the avoidance of legal euphemisms is central to the central undertaking of liberating legal mechanisms from the machinations of states. What truth-telling language does is to see through the legal masquerade so as to illuminate the moral issues at stake. This linguistic surgery is a prerequisite to elucidating the relationship of law to justice and injustice not only with respect to Palestine, but in relation to particular issues, whether involving international migrants, abused minorities, or peoples denied self-determination.

Justice for Some helped me realize that this core sense of law as an inevitably politicized instrument of control and resistance can be at odds with the idea that I emphasized earlier in my own legal writing, that the true meaning of legal norms can only be discerned by their proper interpretation. I argued against the Vietnam War on this basis, contending that the American role entailed uses of force in violation of the UN Charter and international law governing uses of force, and that this argument was legally superior to the justifications being set forth by the U.S. Government and its apologists. This regulative (or hermeneutic) paradigm reflects the rhetoric of international law and the way lawyers habitually address controversy, including the modes of legal reasoning used by judges in tribunals, whether domestic or international, to explain and justify their decisions. It is especially applicable to the use of international law in statecraft to validate or invalidate contested behavior, indirectly reflecting both the intensity of the political winds filling the sails of the ship of state, but also the sophistication and motivations of whoever is doing the lawyering, and for whom.

Against the background of this understanding, what Erakat seeks and achieves is less about the emancipatory interpretation of legal norms and more about allowing us to grasp the manipulative nexus that underlies international legal discourse, and shapes political patterns of control and resistance. The regulative paradigm is complementary and backgrounded as Erakat’s overriding purpose is to develop a comprehensive rationale for a political and normative paradigm that fits the reality of the Palestinian and similar struggles for basic rights, especially that of self-determination, better than do traditional approaches. These paradigms do not necessarily contradict one another, but rest on differing functions of law and lawyers in various contexts, and from a jurisprudential perspective can be looked upon as complementary. Erakat’s undertaking is less concerned with understanding the way the world is, than how it ought to be, governed, and how law and lawyering can (on cannot) make this happen. In this sense, the defining spirit of Noura Erakat’s book calls to mind that famous remark of Karl Marx: “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.”

[Category: Culture, book review, Reviews]

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[l] at 7/16/19 7:27am

Palestinian solidarity activists in North America are accustomed to being abandoned by many of their “progressive allies”, be it church officials or municipal councils or politicians. This is the sad reality of working in today’s political landscape, where opportunism runs rampant and the pro-Israel lobby has often succeeded in dominating the agenda with its relentless smear and intimidation campaigns. But the cut runs deeper and is profoundly more devastating when it is a long-time genuine ally that enables the Zionist settler colonialist narrative; such is the case with the recent visit of a Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) delegation to Cuba and their presentation at a climate conference in Havana. A visit that besmirches the long history of joint struggle and solidarity between the Cuban and Palestinian peoples.

Most of the Israeli media carried the story of the visit with glowing headlines, declaring “For first time Israeli scientist presents at conference in Cuba”. If that weren’t enough of an affront, this particular Israeli scientist Doron Markel was also the chief scientist for the JNF and came with a delegation that included KKL-JNF CEO Amnon Ben-Ami, KKL-JNF Deputy Chairman Hernán Felman, Deputy Chairman Zeev Noiman, and Latin America Department Director Ariel Goldewicht. And he was slated to speak about “sustainable developments in forestation and large-scale water projects tools to adapt to the effects of climate change in Israel and the Middle East.”

The sheer inappropriateness of JNF officials being allowed to address “sustainable development in forestation” after literally raping the landscape and destroying 800,000 olive trees in Palestine (to give just one example) is mind-boggling. And “sustainable development” for whom? Not the indigenous Palestinian population definitely.

The history of how the JNF has engaged in historic and present-day land theft is well-documented. Independent Jewish Voices-Canada, who is currently working on a #StopJNFCanada campaign, stated it this way: “Established as the principle Zionist tool for controlling land in Palestine, the JNF was actively involved in Palestinian dispossession prior to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948:  ‘…The only solution is to transfer the Arabs from here to neighbouring countries. Not a single village or a single tribe must be let off.’ Yossef Weitz (Head of JNF Settlement Dept) 1940”.

Just in case anyone was not clear, Deputy Chairman Hernán Felman who was part of the delegation in Havana, eagerly spelt it out in the Jerusalem Post on July 8, 2019: “For more than 118 years, KKL-JNF has developed the land of Israel for a sustainable future, and supported Zionist and environmental education. Since its establishment, KKL-JNF led an unprecedented forest project, which transformed a desolate land into a blooming green country with more than 240 million trees.”

It might be difficult to find a statement that includes more of the quintessential Zionist talking points than this one, especially the tired old mantra of making the desolate land bloom. This article by Ramzy Baroud from earlier this year breaks down the lie of this Zionist “environmentalism”.

Cuba and Israel do not have formal diplomatic relations; those were broken in 1973 and never resumed until now. However, two years ago, on the heels of the Obama administration’s overtures to Cuba, there was a significant push to re-establish such ties. Israel for the first time in November 2016, abstained on the UN General Assembly motion to end the economic blockade on Cuba. Cultural and economic delegations started to exchange visits in 2017, and in October 2017 Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev (well-known for her extremist views) was reported as traveling to Cuba, the first Israeli cabinet minister to do so since 1973. Along with Regev’s “private” trip, most of these exchanges fell into the category of being “the first of its kind” in four decades or longer. The late former Israeli general Rafael Eitan, who had private business interests in Cuba for over 20 years, was credited with helping to facilitate much of this new state-to-state Cuban-Israeli exchange.

The Canada Palestine Association sent a letter to Cuban officials with the following appeal in early 2018: “We beseech you, in the name of the Palestinian struggle, in the name of the unity of two steadfast peoples, to investigate these recent actions and take steps to ensure that such exchanges are not repeated and go no further. Please do not develop any ties with what the late and beloved Fidel Castro in 2014, when referencing Israel, called a ‘new, repugnant form of fascism’.”

However, with Trump in the White House, all of that collapsed – Israel went back to being the only other country in the world that voted for the U.S. blockade on Cuba and the nascent rapprochement was broken. Activists thought that along with Israel’s negative role in destabilizing Venezuela and the recent death of Rafael Eitan, it would be a long time before Israel could or would attempt a re-boot of its engagement with Cuba.

Clearly, that analysis was wrong. It is difficult (and even painful) to try and imagine what rationale led to this participation of the JNF in a climate conference in Havana, Cuba. For Palestinians, normalizing with the JNF is as dangerous (if not more) as re-establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, and far supersedes the political significance of all of the previous 2017 cultural and business exchanges.

Many veteran Palestinian activists remember that famous photo of Fidel Castro and Yasser Arafat, raising their arms together in a pledge of unity, and the historic solidarity visit of Che Guevara to Gaza and its refugee camps in 1959. Those same activists believed strongly in internationalism as a core principle of their political work and worked on multiple campaigns over the years to support struggles in Latin America, from Chile to El Salvador to Cuba.

The trajectory that has brought us to what we have just witnessed, with this legitimization of the JNF with all its colonialist and racist policies, is inherently flawed and can only lead to disaster. For the sake of the long and deep-rooted history of friendship amongst the Palestinian and Cuban peoples, the Cuban government must first explain how this happened and hold accountable those who are responsible. Secondly, an official apology should be made to both the Cuban and the Palestinian people for this breach of trust and solidarity along with a pledge that such steps for normalization with settler colonialism and apartheid will not happen again.

[Category: Opinion]

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[l] at 7/15/19 3:07pm

Following an international media controversy and intense pressure from Palestinian rights groups, the northern Israeli city of Afula will end its “residents only” ban on its parks.

The decision will take effect on Tuesday July 16, following a court agreement on Sunday, July 14 ordering the Afula municipality to end the ban, which commenced on the first day of summer vacation, July 1st.

Sunday’s court decision came after Palestinian legal rights NGO Adalah, with support from Israel’s district attorney’s office, filed a petition against the city of Afula for discrimination in preventing the entry of Palestinian residents of surrounding areas.

The petition was filed after Adalah attorney Nareman Shehadeh-Zoabi, a Palestinian woman, and her infant son attempted to enter the park but were denied on the basis that they were residents of the nearby city of Nazareth, not Afula.

Following the incident, Adalah released a statement from Zoabi, who said she felt “humiliated” as she watched Jewish residents pass by her, “who freely entered this vast park that I know very well, while I had to trace my steps and return to my car.”

Despite the city’s insistence that its ban was not motivated by racism, two Israeli TV stations conducted separate undercover reports and found that Jewish nonresidents of Afula were being allowed to enter the park even after telling gatekeepers they did not live in the city, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Shortly after court proceedings began on Sunday, Judge Danny Sarfati told the court that he found no reason to even support a debate around the motivations behind the ban, because the municipality has no authority under the law to close public spaces.

Haaretz quoted Sarfati as saying:

“Even if the place is closed only to discriminate [in favor of] local residents, according to the law, charging a fee for public parks is illegal. The ban on charging a fee is a ban on restricting entry. Just as you wouldn’t close a street, you don’t close a park, even without considering whether something is discrimination.”

The judge then told representatives of Afula to willingly sign an agreement to reopen the park to everyone, or the court would order them to do so.

Palestinian MK Ayman Odeh praised the outcome of Sunday’s court hearing, calling it a“victory over racial segregation in Afula,” and that it reminded him of “Martin Luther King’s wonderful statement: ‘Freedom was never voluntarily given by the oppressor’,” the Jerusalem Post reported.

After court was let out, Afula municipality’s lawyer Avi Goldhammer told the AFP that he was  “glad that the argument about racism didn’t work,” referring to the judge’s refusal to debate the motivations behind the ban.

But in a legal opinion published on Thursday on the issue, Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit stated his position that access to municipal parks “cannot be based on considerations of race” gender, sexual orientation, etc.

The decision by the Attorney General to get involved in the case against Afula and state his position was a “rare occurrence,” an Adalah rep told Mondoweiss.

In a similar situation last year, the Afula municipality enforced a four-day closure of its parks to nonresidents during the Hanukkah holidays.

Adalah sent a letter to the mayor demanding that Afula municipality reopen the park, arguing that they did not have the authority to take such action.

In conjunction with last year’s first park ban, city officials in Afula drew widespread criticism from Adalah and other groups after they took a public oath to “preserve the city’s Jewish character,” just a few months after the controversial Nation-State law was passed.

Prior to that, Afula Mayor Avi Elkabetz made comments that “the occupation of the park must stop,” and that “Israeli flags should be waived and music should be played in Hebrew.”

Last month, Elkabetz joined his deputy mayor and other city council members in a protest against the sale of a home in the area to a Palestinian family — it was not the first time the mayor protested the sale of housing to Arabs.

Following the Nakba in 1948, the Palestinians that remained in their homes in what was to become Israel were eventually given citizenship. Today, they number around 1.2 million, and make up about 21 percent of the population.

While they hold Israeli citizenship, Palestinians in Israel regularly complain of discrimination in public spaces, the workplace, and education, among others.

According to the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU), more than 50 laws exist in Israel “that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel directly or indirectly, based solely on their ethnicity, rendering them second or third class citizens in their own homeland.

[Category: News]

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[l] at 7/15/19 2:47pm

Last month, the progressive Jewish group IfNotNow officially became a tax-exempt organization legally permitted to lobby politicians. Since then, IfNotNow activists have been confronting Democratic candidates on the campaign trail and asking them about the occupation of Palestine.

Elizabeth Warren: On July 8, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren was questioned by a pair of activists at a town hall event in New Hampshire. University of Michigan student Becca Lubow told her, ““Hi, we’re American Jews, we really love the way you are fighting corruption. We’d really love it if you’d also pushed the Israeli government to end occupation.”

“Yes. So I’m there!,” Warren responded. Her campaign has released no further details on how she plans to end the occupation.

Pete Buttigieg: On July 12, the South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg was also approached in New Hampshire. “All my life, politicians have talked about a two-state solution for Israel, but don’t address the ongoing military occupation,” Erin Sandler told him, “Yes or no, are you willing to condemn the occupation?” Buttigieg responded:

The occupation has to end. (Applause) And again, the militarization..even people from, you know, even associated with the Israeli right have to confront..like Sharon [former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon] towards the end of his life recognized that this state of affairs is unsustainable. The pathway to peace has to include Israelis and Palestinians living side by side with self determination. And that is the right answer for our own security interest in a stable Middle East as well as for an Israeli future that is Jewish and democratic. And for the future of the Palestinian people. There is, I think, frankly a healthier discussion happening among the American Jewish community today than there has been in some time and frankly a healthier discussion in the American Jewish community than there is in the American Congress right now. What we are starting to see is the awareness in the same way that you can be pro-America without that meaning you’ve got to support our president, you can care about Israel’s future and believe in the U.S. relationship and alliance with Israel without being on board with right-wing policies by the Netanyahu government which is now walking away from peace in a way that I think will harm the Israeli people, the Palestinian people, and in the long run the American people. So, I believe as the most important ally that Israel has, we need to do what you do when you have a friend who’s doing something you think is harmful. Put your arm around your friend and try to guide them into a better place. (Applause)

“The Occupation has to end” — @PeteButtigieg

An important step for both Mayor Pete & the Democratic party. It’s clear that this is the baseline position for 2020 candidates on Israel: acknowledge Israel’s military Occupation as the reality on the ground and call for it to end. pic.twitter.com/h8hqs8dOtn

— IfNotNow

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[l] at 7/15/19 2:29pm

Editor’s Note: The following is a statement  from Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK. Mondoweiss occasionally publishes press releases and statements from organizations in an effort to draw attention to overlooked issues.

Hundreds of human rights campaigners from across the UK are set to take part in The Big Ride for Palestine 2019, an annual event which combines a love of cycling and solidarity with the Palestinian people.

The event is supported by a number of campaigning organizations including Palestine Solidarity Campaign, War on Want, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and Campaign Against Arms Trade.

This year’s event will comprise two cycling rides. The first ride is 36 miles and will take place in London on Saturday July, 27, 2019 and will be welcomed to East London with a big evening event organized by Tower Hamlets Palestine Solidarity Campaign featuring food, music and speakers including acclaimed comedian Mark Thomas. The second ride is 44 miles and will take place in Manchester on Saturday 3rd August, also ending with an evening event celebrating Palestinian culture.

The Big Ride

The Big Ride for Palestine, 2018. (Photo: The Big Ride for Palestine)

The Big Ride

The Big Ride for Palestine, 2018. (Photo: The Big Ride for Palestine)

The event aims to raise awareness of the human rights abuses suffered by the Palestinian people, with a particular focus on the plight of children living in Gaza – a besieged 139 square mile area of land within which almost 2 million Palestinians live. More than 40% of these people are under 15 years old.

The event is also raising money for the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA); a charity that specializes in working with children who have been traumatized by living under a military occupation. Since 2015, The Big Ride has raised nearly £150,000 for sports equipment used in the healing and rehabilitation of children, a project run in partnership with MECA.

This year’s ride also marks the fifth anniversary of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza which took place in July and August 2014. This assault killed over 2,200 Palestinians, of whom 551 were children.

The Big Ride

The Big Ride for Palestine, 2018. (Photo: The Big Ride for Palestine)

The Big Ride for Palestine

The Big Ride for Palestine, 2018. (Photo: The Big Ride for Palestine)

Dr Mona El Farra, Gaza Director of MECA, said: “With every mile they cycle, those participating in The Big Ride are protesting against 72 years of Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. They are sending a message to the Palestinian people, and to the people of Gaza in particular, that they are not abandoned. They are bringing hope to millions of Palestinian children for whom life has been scarred by trauma and fear – we greatly appreciate and salute this act of solidarity.”

Ellen Logan, an organizer of The Big Ride, said: “I’ve witnessed the daily oppression of the Palestinian people; the discrimination, the violence, the inhumanity of the situation. I returned wanting to get involved in something that highlighted the appalling apartheid practices I saw, and that’s why I’m part of The Big Ride. We are reaching a lot of people and raising crucial awareness of the injustices that Palestinians face on a daily basis”.

Sign-ups are still open for The Big Ride 2019, more information can be found here.

[Category: Activism]

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[l] at 7/15/19 8:54am

For eight years, the residents of the northern occupied West Bank village of Kafr Qaddum have protested every single Friday, rain or shine, against Israeli land confiscations and the closure of the village’s southern road by Israeli forces.

The villagers have faced their fair share of bullets, tear gas, injuries, and even death. But nothing could have prepared them for what happened on Friday, July 12, when Israeli snipers set their sights on 10-year-old Abdul Rahman Shteiwi.

It was a normal summer Friday in the village. Following the conclusion of the afternoon prayers, residents gathered in the sweltering heat and began their march, as they always did, from the town center towards the nearby Israeli settlement of Kedumim.

They carried posters and Palestinian flags, and chanted slogans demanding that the village’s road be opened.

Abdul Rahman Shteiwi, 10, was shot in the head by Israeli forces in Kafr Qaddum on Friday, July 12, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Murad Shteiwi)

“Our protests are always non-violent. We are armed only with signs and flags,” Murad Shteiwi, head of the popular resistance committee in Kafr Qaddum told Mondoweiss.

“At most, sometimes the young men throw stones in response to the soldiers, but that’s it. Never more than that.”

It wasn’t long, Shteiwi said, before the demonstration divulged into more violent confrontations, with Israeli forces firing tear gas, rubber bullets, and sound bombs into the crowd.

“But this Friday, they were using live ammunition, and they weren’t just firing it in the air. They were firing it at the people,” he told Mondoweiss, adding that there were Israeli snipers targeting people.

All of a sudden, the villagers saw Abdul Rahman fall to the ground, blood spilling from his head. “He wasn’t even at the front of the clashes, there were tons of other young men in front of him. But they aimed at the child on purpose and shot him,” Shteiwi recounted.

After driving Abdul Rahman to the nearest hospital 20 kilometers away, Nablus’ Rafidia Surgical Hospital, he was rushed into surgery, where doctors spent three hours trying to control the bleeding and stabilize him.

Doctors told the boy’s family that he was shot with an expanding live bullet that exploded into more than 100 fragments after it lodged in his head, wreaking havoc on his brain and causing severe damage to three major blood vessels.

“The doctors told us that by the way he was shot, and the kind of bullet he was shot with, it is clear that the soldiers’ intention was to kill. Abdul Rahman was not supposed to live,” Shteiwi told Mondoweiss.

Middle East Eye quoted an Israeli army spokeswoman as saying that soldiers “used riot dispersal means” in the town, when questioned about the shooting of Abdul Rahman.

According to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), whose activists were present on Friday’s protest, Israeli forces denied the use of live ammunition.

However, the group said in a statement that its activists “found a 5.56 bullet case on the ground where protesters had been standing some 15 minutes before. The case was hot to the touch suggesting it had been fired that afternoon. Dozens more bullet cases were also found by villagers following the protest.”

Shteiwi insists that the shooting was intentional. “The sniper was professional, he knew what he was doing. This could not have been an accident, or just crowd control as they say,” he told Mondoweiss.

‘Indescribable feeling’

Since his surgery, Abdul Rahman was transferred to the Tel HaShomer hospital in Tel Aviv, where he has remained in a coma. His father has remained by his side and has been giving updates to the town on his son’s condition.

Shteiwi, a relative of the family, says that the entire village has been in mourning since Friday, with shops shuttering their doors, and others canceling their weddings.

“Everyone is distraught,” Shteiwi said, adding that Abdul Rahman’s mother had just undergone open heart surgery two weeks before her son was shot. “Just since Friday, we have had to take her to the hospital three times because her health keeps deteriorating,” he said.

Murad Shteiwi is a Kafr Qaddum native, and the northern West Bank coordinator of the popular resistance committee.(Photo courtesy of Murad Shteiwi)

Shteiwi told Mondoweiss that he could not begin to describe the pain of Abdul Rahman’s parents, even though it is one he himself knows well.

“My own son was shot in the leg during protests once,” he said. “The pain of watching your son get shot in front of you, it is indescribable.”

A history of violent suppression

Ever since the villagers of Kafr Qaddum began their weekly marches in 2011, they have been met with violent suppression by Israeli forces.

In the first three years, between 2011-2014, Shteiwi says two residents were disabled for life after being badly injured by Israeli forces.

One man was shot in the mouth with a tear gas canister, fracturing the bones in his face and jaw to the point where he has been unable to speak since. Another, Shteiwi says, was shot in his eyes with a rubber bullet, blinding him.

In 2014, the village was shook when a 75-year-old man participating in the demonstration suffocated and died from tear gas inhalation. He was the first “martyr” from the village.

Before 2014, Shteiwi says that soldiers used rubber bullets and tear gas against protesters. But from 2014-2016, they began employing the widespread use of .22 caliber bullets, or “tutu bullets.”

The Israeli army had long classified .22 caliber rifles as crowd control weapons, but in 2001, they were banned by the Israel military advocate general as a means for crowd dispersal due to the fact that, while small, they can be lethal.

Shteiwi estimates that more than 85 people from Kafr Qaddum were injured with “tutu bullets” between 2014-2016, a large part of them children under the age of 18.

Child hit by teargas canister is taken away at Kafr Qaddum

“After we put so much pressure on the Israelis through the media and the international community, after 2016 they stopped using the tutu bullets as much,” Shteiwi said.

But at the beginning of this year, the villagers noticed the soldiers’ method of “crowd control” take a deadly turn.

“They have started to use live bullets a lot more. Just in january, they shot five guys with live bullets. One kid was shot in the neck and was in critical condition,” Shteiwi said.

In general, he said, soldiers have been shooting live ammunition into the air above the crowds. But on Friday, they were aiming directly at the people.

Why are children at the protests?

Over the years, Shteiwi has been interviewed by countless foreign journalists in regards to the protests in Kafr Qaddum.

One of the most common questions he is asked, when the injury of a child is involved, is “why was the child participating in such activities” that are known to get violent?

Expressing his frustration over such questions, which he says play into the hands of the Israeli occupation, Shteiwi told Mondoweiss: “When people ask why kids are participating, its because they are protesting what they see, what they experience every day under occupation. They feel that they are in a jail, and don’t have basic rights to live. They see that every day, so why wouldn’t they protest?”

“Our message to the international community, is when things like this happen, don’t ask why kids are in the protests, and blame us for what happens to our kids,” he continued.

“Ask instead, what are the circumstances that are forcing children to go protest in the first place? That  is where you will find your answer.”

[Category: News]

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[l] at 7/15/19 8:42am

Israel’s new Education Minister Rafi Peretz, leader of the far-right Union of Right Wing Parties, caused international uproar when he compared intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews in the US to a “second Holocaust” , and later expressed his support for gay conversion therapy .

The criticism about the ”second Holocaust” comment was most vociferous abroad. Head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Jonathan Greenblatt said that “it’s inconceivable to use the term ‘Holocaust’ to describe Jews choosing to marry non-Jews”, that “it alienates so many members of our community” and that “this kind of baseless comparison does little other than inflame and offend.”

Criticism of the gay conversion therapy was most vociferous inside Israel, as the comment is now a mainstream offense in Israel (the new Justice Minister Amir Ohana of Likud is openly gay). Thus the new left-center Netanayhu rival Ehud Barak tweeted:

“*Netanyahu’s*Education Minister promotes conversion therapy for LGBT?! A medieval government?? Chaos and [Bezalel] Smotrich upon the abyss? Hello, here is Israel 2019. Bibi, you will convert no one. We will convert your government of darkness with an enlightened government, of equality, values and democracy”.

From the center, Blue and White opposition chief Benny Gantz said Peretz’s comments were “illegitimate” and said the right of every person to live as they see fit was “a cornerstone of Israeli democracy”. Blue and White No. 2 Yair Lapid tweeted that “until Rafi Peretz undergoes conversion treatment from his dark and insane opinions, he cannot continue serving as education minister.”

But as for intermarriage, this issue is far more complex in Israel, not least because leftists and centrists alike have expressed very similar opinions historically.

In the early 1970’s, Labor Prime Minister Golda Meir said that anyone who commits intermarriage is “joining the 6 million”, alluding to the Holocaust. That’s pretty much what Peretz said.

Last year, former Labor and opposition leader Isaac Herzog said that intermarriage is a “plague”, on his first day of work as head as head of the parastatal Jewish Agency. Herzog later disingenuously backpedaled, suggesting that “plague” meant something different than you’d think in Hebrew, which it doesn’t.

And the centrist ‘liberal’ Yair Lapid, who now condemns Peretz for his “insane” opinions about gays, has also expressed his dismay with intermarriage – and the context was frighteningly fascist: In the wake of a so-called “mixed marriage” that took place on August 17, 2014 (so-called because both partners were Muslim – the woman had simply converted from Judaism), at which the fascist Lehava ‘anti-miscegenation’ organisation had demonstrated, Lapid spoke on an Israel Waves radio program saying, “It would bother me if my son married a non-Jew… It would bother me greatly.” 

This is the same conundrum that faced Yair Lapid recently, when he tweeted from the shower in favor of a “state for all its citizens” in response to Transport Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Rafi Peretz’s nr. 2 in the party). When Lapid realized that he had just caused a major storm over equality, he tried to assert that he only meant rights for LGBT, not Palestinians.

The “Holocaust” notion about Jewish intermarriage is directly related to the “demographic” concern about Palestinian births endangering the Jewish majority. And it’s the same logic that makes a “state of all its citizens” such an indefensible idea. Israel may be liberal on LGBT, but it’s not liberal in relation to the demographic concern of Jewish superiority. This is why, although Prime Minister Netanyahu distanced himself from Peretz’s words about gays, he basically endorsed his claim about intermarriage in the cabinet meeting where they were said.

Peretz’s “Holocaust” euphemism has likewise been used by Israeli ministers in recent years to address the intermarriage issue:

Last year, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, member of the National Union, also a part of the Union of Right-Wing Parties, sent a letter to employees at his ministry discussing the “assimilation Holocaust.” According to Ariel, “During the Holocaust, we’ve lost about six million Jews. Without at all comparing the two, we’re losing a part of our people to assimilation.”

Fellow National Union member Eli Ben Dahan said in 2014, while he was deputy minister for religious affairs that intermarriage is “a silent Holocaust. We must remember that the Jewish people, unfortunately, has gone through a Holocaust. It has been diminishing over the past century … In Europe we have as much as 80 percent intermarriages; in the United States it’s 66 percent. It’s horrible.” 

The “demographic concern” is a mainstream Zionist racial concern. Essentially, the concern is not for people as such, but for their ability to serve as part of a potential body-count vs Palestinians. Although these Jews live abroad, for Israel they are a part of the “Jewish nation”, and thus eligible for immediate citizenship under Israel’s Law of Return. If that bank of bodies diminishes, Israel’s ability to uphold the Jewish racial body-count will diminish too.

The more liberal Zionists seek to separate this concern, which is inherently illiberal, inasmuch as it entails control over who you marry, from other issues such as attitudes towards LGBT. But since the illiberal demographic issue is so central to the perpetuation of Israel as the “Jewish state,” it is an Achilles heel that allows the more fundamentalist, religious Zionist forces to gain influence, and thus to insert other fundamentalist notions concerning gays etc. 

It all goes back to Zionism’s inherently illiberal, colonialist and militarist vein. In the early 1970’s, Golda Meir was interviewed by Stewart Alsop for Newsweek, where Alsop asked about the “corrupting influence” of the 1967 occupation on “Liberal Jewish tradition”.  Meir:

I’ll answer you honestly: I do not want a Jewish people who are liberal, anti-colonialist, anti-militaristic… and dead. 

She knew then that the Zionist venture had to discount liberalism, that it was about colonialism and militarism, and that if you had a problem with that, you were just weak and you would die. Israel always offers “existential” excuses for its policies.

And Meir’s words echo not only in Rafi Peretz’s words, but also in the words of the Hitler-Praising rabbis in the military prep-school in Eli, a yeshiva institution that Rafi Peretz is a strong supporter of. Recently R abbi Giora Radler was caught on tape saying the following:

The Holocaust for real is not about the killing of Jews – that’s not the Holocaust. All of these excuses claiming that it was based on ideology or that it was systematic, this is ridiculous. Because it was based on ideology, to a certain extent, makes it more moral than if people murdered people for no reason. Humanism, all the secular culture about us believing in the human, that’s the Holocaust. The Holocaust, for real, is being pluralist, believing in “I believe in the human”. That’s what’s called a Holocaust. The Lord (blessed be his name) is already shouting for many years that the [Jewish] exile is over, but people don’t listen to him, and that is their disease, a disease which needs to be cured by the Holocaust.

Israel’s push towards religious fundamentalism is not an incidental occurrence. It is a logical consequence of its inherently racist, illiberal character. In that light, the protection of LGBT rights serves as pinkwashing. Ehud Barak can talk about “equality”, but it’s not what he really means, just like Yair Lapid didn’t really mean it. Barak can extol “democracy”, but he means “Jewish and democratic”, that is, a democracy for Jews. The “equality” is for Jews (some say also LGBT Jews). Unless that greater racial and racist supremacist paradigm is addressed and relinquished, Israel will continue in this direction.  

[Category: News, Ehud Barak, Golda Meir, intermarriage, Netanyahu, Rafi Peretz, Yair Lapid]

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[l] at 7/14/19 10:10am

We are as critical of the New York Times as anyone, but we need to salute the superb report in the newspaper by David Halbfinger on a liberal Zionist trip for American Jews to see the occupation. Titled, “Touring the Israeli Occupation: Young U.S. Jews Get an Unflinching View,” the July 10 article offered horrifying glimpses of Palestinian conditions in Susiya and Hebron that left the young Jews staggered.

The article was about a very lukewarm tour of the occupation indeed, by the Zionist group J Street, which wants the visitors to engage in Israel advocacy back home, and wants to influence the more rightwing Jewish trips to Israel, notably Birthright, to stop off in Palestine.

But the thrust of the article was that one day’s exposure to the desolation of occupation caused two young Jews to question Zionism itself.

As the day grew long, the facial expressions more pained and the questions more anguished, the J Street tour seemed increasingly incompatible with Birthright’s goal of hooking young American Jews on Israel.

By dinnertime, two participants said they were reconsidering their belief in a Jewish state. Jesse Steshenko, 19, of Santa Cruz, Calif., who has a Star of David tattooed on his right wrist, said he was “disgusted” with Israel’s government.

“I came in here a very ardent Zionist,” he said. “You never know when a Holocaust might happen again. Yet, coming here, I’m starting to doubt whether a two-state solution is possible — and whether Zionism is even worth pursuing anymore.”

As for Liyah Foye, 19, a senior at UNC-Asheville: “what she saw on Sunday overwhelmed her: ‘My joy and my light shouldn’t be coming from someone else’s darkness,’ she said.”

Halbfinger chose a very Zionist Jewish lens for his tour, of course, and endeavored to undo some of his damage by suggesting the trip had “blindsided” the young Jews with the occupation. It goes without saying that the Times is very late to this story. Brief exposure to the Israeli occupation for both of us 13 years ago and more transformed our work as journalists. There’s nothing like seeing Jim Crow with your own two eyes. A friend who just returned from the Eyewitness Palestine trip to Palestine says that there was at least one middle-of-the-road American on the trip who left the country shaking his head over human rights abuses he’d never imagined to be so extreme.

But the reason that seeing Palestine up close comes as such a shock is that the media and leading pro-Israel organizations (including J Street) have done such an effective job of downplaying Israel’s occupation over the last several decades, even as Palestinians were trying to get out the news. The Times just “took a sharp left turn into territory where Birthright does not go,” as Halbfinger wrote of the tour. The article is getting angry pushback from pro-Israel groups.

His report represents a giant step forward, and a real sign of things to come. There’s no way to prettify apartheid, and as more Democrats and activist groups are looking at this issue openly, we should expect our leading papers and even broadcast media to begin to reflect the reality.

[Category: Media Analysis, Birthright, David Halbfinger, Hebron, J Street, Liberal Zionism, New York Times, occupation, Susiya]

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[l] at 7/13/19 8:38am

West Bank / Jerusalem

100 bullet fragments in brain of Palestinian child shot in northern West Bank
[with video] QALQILYA, occupied Palestine (ISM) 13 July — Israeli soldiers shot a Palestinian child in the head with live ammunition at close range at around 3pm today during a protest against settlement expansion in the town of Kafr Qaddum, northern West Bank. Abdul Rahman Yasser Shteiwi, 10, was rushed to Rafidia hospital in Nablus and was operated on immediately. The leader of the popular resistance committee in Kafr Qaddum, Murad Shtaiwi, told ISM that doctors found over 70 bullet fragments lodged in the child’s brain. An X-ray scan of Abdul’s skull (pictured below) appears to show dozens of metal pieces throughout his brain. The 10-year-old is in a critical condition, although doctors managed to stop the bleeding a few hours after he was admitted, according to Mr Shtaiwi, who has been in the hospital since the shooting. Mr Shtaiwi said: “I don’t have words to explain the sadness I feel. “The army practised a very big fault if they think that what they did today will make the demonstration go down. No never.”
The Israeli army has claimed that no live ammunition was used against protesters; however the doctors treating Abdul said that the bullet fragments in his brain are from a live round. ISM activists also found a 5.56 bullet case on the ground where protesters had been standing some 15 minutes before. The case was hot to the touch suggesting it had been fired that afternoon. Dozens more bullet cases were also found by villagers following the protest. Rubber coated steel bullets were fired at the crowds as well as sound bombs. At least two people were injured by rubber bullets including a child who was shot in the arm and a man who was also hit in the arm….
https://palsolidarity.org/2019/07/70-bullet-fragments-in-brain-of-palestinian-child-shot-in-northern-west-bank/

Soldiers shoot two Palestinians, abduct one, in Deheishe refugee camp
IMEMC 11 July — Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, on Thursday at dawn, the Deheishe refugee camp, south of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, shot and injured two Palestinians, and abducted one. Media sources in Deheishe said the soldiers first infiltrated into the camp using two civilian cars, before many jeeps invaded it and attacked Palestinian protesters with live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades. They added that the soldiers injured two young Palestinian men with live fire, caused several others to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation, and abducted a young man, identified as Ismael Sami al-Ja‘fari. In related news, the soldiers invaded the Shiokh [Shuyukh] town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and violently searched many homes.
https://imemc.org/article/soldiers-shoot-two-palestinians-abduct-one-in-deheishe-refugee-camp/

Israeli soldiers shoot and injure Palestinian at checkpoint near Jenin
IMEMC 9 July — A Palestinian man was shot and severely wounded by Israeli forces stationed at the Salem military roadblock near Jenin, in northern West Bank. The man is in his fifties, and after he was shot in the lower extremities, he was taken into custody by the army. No injuries were reported among the soldiers. Although Israeli military sources claim that the man threw a flaming object toward the soldiers at the checkpoint, that was not confirmed by local sources and eyewitnesses. It should be noted that Israeli forces often make false claims about Palestinian civilians that they shoot at checkpoints, which are later retracted when proven to be false. Following the shooting, the Israeli forces shut down the roadblock, leaving hundreds of Palestinians stranded, with no way to reach their destinations in the northern West Bank.
https://imemc.org/article/israeli-soldiers-shoot-and-injure-palestinian-at-checkpoint-near-jenin/

Soldiers abduct a father and son for allegedly ramming soldiers with car
IMEMC 7 July — The Israeli army abducted, late on Saturday at night, a young Palestinian man and his father, allegedly for deliberately ramming Israeli soldiers with their car, wounding five. In a statement, the Israeli army claimed that the incident, which took place late on Saturday evening at Hizma military roadblock, north of occupied East Jerusalem, “was a deliberate ramming attack and not an accident.” Five Israeli soldiers were injured in the incident, two suffered moderate wounds, and three were mildly injured. Israeli daily Haaretz said both the father, and his son, were taken for interrogation, and added that the “suspect” who was driving the car is the son, and that he and his father were driving at the roadblock from the direction of Hizma town, and then returned to the West Bank after the incident … Palestinian media outlets said dozens of soldiers surrounded Hizma town, and closed all its entrances, before the army invaded its main streets. They added that, despite the Israeli allegations, the incident was likely a traffic accident and not an intentional ramming attack, and that the driver apparently fled the scene to avoid being shot and killed by the soldiers, to avoid what happened in previous similar incidents in the West Bank, such as the case of Yousef Raed Anqawi, 20, and Amir Mahmoud Darraj, 20, who were killed by the soldiers, when the army claimed they deliberately rammed soldiers with their cars.
https://imemc.org/article/five-israeli-soldiers-injured-near-jerusalem/

Israeli soldiers remove solidarity tent in Jerusalem, injure dozens of Palestinians
IMEMC 11 July — Israeli soldiers attacked, on Thursday afternoon, the solidarity tent in Wad al-Hummus area, in Sur Baher town, south of occupied Jerusalem, and forcibly demolished and removed it, in addition to firing many gas bombs and concussion grenades, casing dozens of Palestinians to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation, and burning farmlands, the Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) has reported. Media sources said the soldiers fired a barrage of gas bombs and concussion grenades at the Palestinians, nonviolently protesting in the tent, demanding Israel to void its plans to demolish more than 230 apartments and displace the families. |Israeli High Court rules against Palestinian families; will allow their homes to be demolished| They added that dozens of Palestinians suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, in addition to cuts and bruises, after being assaulted by the soldiers. Fire also broke out in Palestinian lands, burning many trees and plants due to the intensity of the Israeli gas bombs and concussion grenades. The soldiers also invaded the al-‘Issawiya town, in Jerusalem, and abducted a young man, identified as Ahmad al-Masri. In addition, dozens of soldiers and officers stormed Wad Yasoul neighborhood in Silwan town, in Jerusalem, and attacked many Palestinians, in addition to removing Palestinian flags.  The soldiers, accompanied by workers of the Jerusalem City Council, also invaded many streets in the al-‘Issawiya town, before attacking many Palestinians, and removed Palestinian flags in addition to poster of Mohammad Samir Obeid, 21, who was killed by the army on June 27th.
https://imemc.org/article/israeli-soldiers-remove-solidarity-tent-in-jerusalem-injure-dozens-of-palestinians/

Right-wing group hangs Palestinian flags on West Bank roads, spooking settlers
Times of Israel 7 July — Regavim stunt prompts flurry of complaints; organization’s co-founder Bezalel Smotrich, now the minister of transportation, initially condemns Palestinian ‘audacity’ — A right-wing organization hung Palestinian flags along highways in the West Bank overnight Saturday in a self-styled “secret campaign,” prompting a flurry of complaints by Jewish residents to police. The goal of the stunt, the Regavim organization said in a statement on Sunday morning, was to alert Israelis that a “terror state was around the corner.” Regavim, which monitors Palestinian construction in the West Bank, said the move was designed to “wake up” the local Jewish population, “to shock, alert, and illustrate what will happen if illegal Arab construction is allowed to continue unhindered and a de facto Palestinian state is established as per the Fayyad Plan of 2009,” referring to a proposal by then-Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayyad. “We understand the harsh reactions of the residents of  Judea and Samaria who saw the flags this morning, but we also understand that there is a terrorist state taking shape right around the corner,” said Regavim director Meir Deutsch, using the biblical name for the West Bank … After the flag-flyers identified themselves, however, Smotrich called the Regavim campaign “important and even critical.” “The time has come for all of us to wake up and thwart the Arab takeover of our homeland,” added Smotrich, who belongs to the Union of Right Wing Parties. “These flags are not dangerous, but the thousands of houses, roads, and trees that the Arabs are building, and paving, and planting under our noses are! The responsibility falls on the shoulders of one man — Netanyahu.”
https://www.timesofisrael.com/right-wing-group-hangs-palestinian-flags-on-west-bank-roads-spooking-settlers/

Israeli colonists assault a Palestinian child in Hebron
IMEMC 6 July — Several illegal Israeli colonialist settlers assaulted, Saturday, a Palestinian child in Hebron city, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, causing lacerations and bruises. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency said the Israeli assailants attacked the child, Raed Abu Rmeila Tamimi, 10, while crossing the Sahla Street, near the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron city. WAFA added that the child was rushed to Hebron Governmental Hospital, suffering several lacerations and bruises. The child’s father said that he was heading to his pottery shop in the Old City, after returning from the markets area in Hebron, and then asked his child to carry some items to take them home in the southern part of the city. He added that, while his child was walking in the Sahla Street area, a few colonists assaulted him, causing his injuries, and deliberately smashed his mobile phone, while Israeli soldiers, constantly deployed in the area, failed to intervene. “While the soldiers just stood and watched, many Palestinians intervened and managed to take my child away from the assailants, and took him to the hospital,” the father stated.
https://imemc.org/article/israeli-colonists-assault-a-palestinian-child-in-hebron/

Settler tour exemplifies the difficult reality of occupation in the Old City of Hebron — a photo essay
HEBRON (International Solidarity Movement) 7 July — Every Saturday, illegal Jewish settlers from around the West Bank take a “tour” of the busy souq (market) in Old City of Hebron, the busiest market street in the area since the closure of Shuhada Street. Local Palestinians believe that the Israeli authorities facilitate the tour as a deliberate method of intimidation, making life intolerable and unsustainable for them in order to prompt displacement. On the tour, current and prospective settlers are given a skewed history of Hebron which disregards and contradicts the documented history of peaceful coexistence between Arabs and Jews in the city before 1948. Instead, it identifies the land’s heritage as solely Jewish. As shown, the settlers are escorted by numerous Israeli soldiers and Border Police officers, who randomly detain Palestinians for ID checks and prevent free movement in the souq during the duration of the tour. Military and police can also be seen on the rooftops of Palestinian homes, many of which are now empty as a result of forced evictions for surveillance purposes.
https://palsolidarity.org/2019/07/settler-tour-exemplifies-the-difficult-reality-of-occupation-in-the-old-city-of-hebron-a-photo-essay/

Illegal Israeli colonists occupy Palestinian irrigation wells
IMEMC 12 July — Several illegal Israeli colonialist settlers invaded, Friday, Khirbat Samra Palestinian village, in the West Bank’s Northern Plains, and occupied irrigation wells. Palestinian human rights activist, Aref Daraghma, said the colonists, occupied all the Palestinian wells, and prevented the farmers from using them, before using the water for their cows. Daraghma added that the colonists prevented the Palestinians from using the well to feed their sheep, and planted trees in Khallet Hamad area, near the tents of local shepherds, in preparation to occupy the lands. The Palestinians in the Northern Plains of the West Bank are subject to ongoing violations by the illegal Israeli colonialist settlers, and face frequent assaults and displacement by the Israeli soldiers.
https://imemc.org/article/illegal-israeli-colonists-occupy-palestinian-irrigation-wells/

Settlers torch hundreds of olive trees in West Bank
IMEMC/Agencies 10 July — Israeli settlers, today, set fire to hundreds of olive trees in the northern West Bank village of Burin, reported Ghassan Daghlas, a local official. He told WAFA that settlers from the illegal settlement of Yitzhar snuck into a plot of Burin farmland and set fire to hundreds of olive trees, in the southern parts of the village, located to the south of Nablus. He also said that the Israeli army prevented Palestinian firetrucks from reaching the area to put out the fire, which then spread and resulted in heavy losses to the farmers.
https://imemc.org/article/settlers-torch-hundreds-of-olive-trees-in-west-bank/

Cars vandalized, threatening graffiti found in suspected West Bank hate crime
[behind paywall] Haaretz 7 July by Yoram Berger — Cars were vandalized and sprayed with threatening Hebrew-language slogans in a West Bank town in a suspected hate crime on Sunday, Palestinian residents said. The cars in the town of ‘Awarta, near Nablus, also had their tires slashed. The graffiti suggested that the incident was intended as revenge for a car-ramming attack on Saturday night that left five Israeli soldiers wounded. It included Stars of David and the statements “when our blood is spilled, we will take our fate into our own hands, hello from Hizma” – referring to the village near the checkpoint where the attack took place – and “Judea and Israel are fighting for the dignity of Israel, Hizma revenge.”….
https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/.premium-cars-vandalized-threatening-graffiti-found-in-suspected-west-bank-hate-crime-1.7453069

Vandals graffiti Palestinian town demanding death for freed rape suspect
Times of Israel 10 July — Threatening graffiti messages were discovered Wednesday in the home village of a Palestinian man who was arrested in connection with an alleged rape of a 7-year-old Israeli girl, before charges were dropped and he was released. Police said it had opened an investigation into the apparent hate crime. An inscription saying “The death penalty is necessary for Mahmoud Qadusa” was sprayed on a wall in the West Bank village of Deir Qadis, referring to the formerly accused man. The attackers also damaged several cars in the village. Last month, 12 cars were found with their tires slashed and Hebrew hate slogans were spray-painted on walls in the nearby village of Sinjil. “We give them jobs and they rape” read one phrase daubed on a wall, in an apparent reference to the alleged attack on the child.  Qadusa, a 46-year-old maintenance custodian at the alleged victim’s school, was released in June after spending nearly two months in detention after the indictment against him came under fire for its lack of evidence….
https://www.timesofisrael.com/west-bank-graffiti-demands-death-penalty-for-freed-suspect-in-7-year-olds-rape/

Palestinian prisoner for 15 years re-detained as he walked out of an Israeli prison
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 11 July – The Israeli authorities re-detained today a Palestinian from occupied East Jerusalem as he walked out of prison after serving 15 years, according to a prisoners’ advocacy group. Wasim Salim Jallad, 41, was leaving the Naqab prison in the south of Israel after completing his 15-year prison sentence when he was picked up by Israeli forces and re-detained, said Amjad Abu Assab, head of the Committee of Families of Prisoners from Jerusalem. No reason was given for the re-detention of Jallad.
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=hFPpgfa110905873584ahFPpgf

Three PA security members kidnapped by IOF in W. Bank
TUBAS (PIC) 12 July — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Thursday night kidnaped three members of the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces as they were traveling from their workplace in Jericho to their homes in Qabatiya town, south of Jenin. Local sources told a reporter for the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that three young PA security officers were searched and rounded up by Israeli soldiers at the Hamra checkpoint near Tubas. The detainees were identified as Nuruddin Abul-Rab, Mohamed Zakarneh, Ahmed Zakarneh. The reason for their detention is still unknown.
https://english.palinfo.com/news/2019/7/12/Three-PA-security-members-kidnaped-by-IOF-in-W-Bank

Israeli forces detain 27 Palestinians from West Bank, Jerusalem
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 8 July – Israeli forces detained today 27 Palestinians from various parts of the West Bank, said the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) and sources. Israeli forces conducted large-scale raids across the northern West Bank district of Jenin, resulting in the detention of 13 former prisoners, said PPS … Meanwhile, Israeli military raided Qalqiliya city where soldiers rounded up a Palestinian man. In Ramallah district, local sources confirmed an Israeli military raid in Silwad village, east of Ramallah, resulted in the detention of a Palestinian. In Jerusalem district, Israeli police rounded up five Palestinians after storming their houses in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-‘Issawiyeh. Two others were rounded up from Biddu town, northwest of Jerusalem….
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=JzJZjza110868755217aJzJZjz

Israel bans Palestinian dairy, meat exports to East Jerusalem
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 10 July by Ahmad Abu Amer — Israel’s July 1 decision took the Palestinian dairy and meat producers by surprise, as it prohibits the export of their products to East Jerusalem as of Aug. 1, without explaining why. The decision, which was printed on a large banner next to the West Bank-Jerusalem Qalandia crossing that Palestinian cargo trucks use, was issued by the Israeli Ministry of Health and State Veterinary Services and Animal Health. The Palestinian government parties are yet to be officially notified of the decision. Speaking to Voice of Palestine Radio July 1, Minister of National Economy Khalid al-Assaily said that a similar decision targeting Israeli products would be taken by the Palestinian government if the Israeli decision enters into force … Speaking to Al-Monitor, Marketing Director at Siniora Food Industries Ahmed al-Karmi warned against the big losses his company and other companies would incur, and added that they would amount to millions of dollars.
https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/07/israel-bans-palestinian-dairy-meat-products-east-jerusalem.html

Palestinians elect first female head of village in Jenin
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 8 July by Rasha Abou Jalal — For the first time in Jenin governorate, in the northern West Bank, a woman was elected June 25 to preside over the village council of al-Judeida. The council’s 11 members chose social activist Kifaya Zakzouk to head the council during elections held under the supervision of the directorate of the Ministry of Local Government in Jenin governorate. Al-Judeida village has a surface area of 6,360 dunams (1,571 acres) and is home to 6,000 people, most of whom work in agriculture. Zakzouk, 50, who was elected by residents in 2017 as a member of the village council, told Al-Monitor, “My victory in these elections is a historic event that breaks men’s monopolization of the local council leadership in Jenin. No woman has ever occupied this position in the [Jenin] governorate.” She said that her victory proves that “Palestinian women are challenging norms and traditions confining them to the household and that they can work in different fields and handle leadership positions.”….
https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/07/first-palestinian-woman-elected-head-of-jenin-local-council.html

ANERA opens first public preschool in West Bank village
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 10 July – Anera (American Near East Refugee Aid), a leading development organization helping families in the Middle East since 1968, recently completed construction of a preschool in the West Bank village of Ni‘lin, near Ramallah, the latest contribution in Anera’s campaign to dramatically expand preschool education for Palestinian children, according to a press release. The preschool, which will open its doors to children on September 1, was built with support from the Stengel family, it said …  Although USAID cuts have significantly impacted Anera, the organization continues many programs with the support of private and institutional donors, including building infrastructure like preschools. In April, Anera inaugurated a school in Qibya, and plans to complete five more preschools by the end of August, said the press release….
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=VF0mh7a110893500795aVF0mh7

Palestinian police on red alert over antiquities smuggling
RAMALLAH, West Bank 11 July by Ahmad Melhem — Despite efforts by the Palestinian police, more and more antiquities in Palestine end up in the hands of the smugglers, the Palestinian police told Al-Monitor. Hassan al-Jamal, chief of the Antiquity and Tourism Police, told Al-Monitor that antiquities smuggling has increased over the past year and that the Achilles’ heel of smuggling is the Israeli-controlled Area C. “Smuggling exists in all areas of the West Bank, because the Palestinian Authority (PA) does not control the borders and Palestinian and Israeli security powers overlap, specifically in Area C territories,” he lamented … The Palestinian Ministry of Tourism lacks accurate estimates on the amount of antiquities that smugglers have removed from the country. A detailed ministry study from 2010 estimated that an average of 100,000 pieces — big and small — were smuggled outside Palestine every year. The study said that 85% of these antiquities were smuggled to Israeli parties. Over the course of 222 operations against smugglers, Palestinian police seized 5,061 historical and archaeological pieces before they were smuggled out of the West Bank between Jan. 1 and May 31, police spokesperson Louay Azriqat told Al-Monitor….
https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/07/palestine-police-battles-with-antiques-smuggling.html

Gaza

3,000 protest in Gaza for Great Return March as Egyptian delegation arrives
IMEMC 13 July — A day after Israeli forces “mistakenly” shot and killed a Palestinian security guard trying to prevent protesters from reaching the border fence with Israel, thousands of people turned out Friday midday to protest the escalation in ‘Great Return March’ protests in northern, southern and eastern Gaza. One Palestinian couple used the occasion to celebrate their wedding, with their cheers and songs interjected by Israeli tear gas and shooting. At least 40 Palestinians were shot and injured, while dozens of others suffered from tear-gas inhalation, as Israeli occupation forces suppressed protesters along the eastern fence of the besieged Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian ministry of Health in Gaza. A protester in Rafah was critically injured by live gunfire fired by Israeli soldiers towards the demonstrators. Some local sources have reported that as many as 33 Palestinians were hit with live ammunition at Friday’s protests, and up to 55 total injured.
The protests took place as delegates from Egypt arrived in the besieged coastal Strip to try to negotiate with the Hamas leadership. The Egyptians are working with the Israeli administration to try to get Hamas to agree to continue to hold to a fragile truce with Israel, which was broken the day before by Israeli forces who killed a civil official in Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas. 28-year-old Palestinian Mahmoud al-Adham was shot and killed by Israeli forces Thursday near Beit Hanoun in the northern part of the Strip, while trying to stop Palestinian teens who were going near the fence marking the border with Israel. The Al-Qassam Brigades said that it would not let the death go “unpunished”. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, “I prefer that there be calm. But we are preparing for a campaign that is not only broad but also surprising.”
https://imemc.org/article/3000-protest-in-gaza-for-great-return-march-as-egyptian-delegation-arrives/

Israeli soldiers kill a Palestinian in Gaza
IMEMC 11 July — Israeli soldiers killed, Thursday, a young Palestinian man, east of Beit Hanoun, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian was a member of Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, and was shot while trying to prevent protesters from approaching the perimeter fence. The Palestinian Health Ministry has confirmed that the soldiers shot and seriously injured Mahmoud Ahmad al-Adham, 28, on Thursday morning, east of Beit Hanoun, and added that the young man succumbed to his injuries on Thursday evening. He was one of many “Field Control” officers, stationed near the perimeter fence to prevent Palestinian protesters from approaching the perimeter fence with Israel as part of understandings to avoid escalation. It is worth mentioning that the soldiers also fired several live rounds at field control post, east of Rafah, in southern Gaza Strip. The Al-Qassam Brigades issued a statement accusing Israel of deliberately killing the Palestinian, and said that “it is evaluating the situation, and its response to the grave Israeli violation.” His death comes after a period of relative calm along the perimeter fence, especially after the indirect “ceasefire understandings” between Hamas and Israel, to avoid tension along the fence. He was one of the dozens of officers, and fighters, tasked with preventing any Palestinian from reaching the perimeter fence or attempting to cross it.
In a statement, the Israeli army admitted it shot and killed the fighter, after claiming that the incident was a “mistake stemming from a misunderstanding,” and added that “it will investigate it.”
https://imemc.org/article/israeli-soldiers-kill-a-palestinian-in-gaza-3/

Egyptian mediators arrive in Gaza to call for calm
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 12 July by Fares Akram –— Egyptian meditators arrived in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Friday after fears of renewed tension along the enclave’s border with Israel a day after the Israeli military shot and killed a Hamas militant. The Egyptian delegation, comprised of senior officials of the General Intelligence Service, began talks with the militant Islamic group and other factions in Gaza City … Late on Friday, the Israeli military said it identified one rocket fired by Palestinian militants into southern Israel. It did not elaborate. Aside from Thursday’s killing of the Hamas gunman, the Gaza-Israel frontier has remained largely quiet since May, after Hamas and Israel ended their worst round of conflict in years. Israel said its forces misidentified the militant — whose mission was to prevent infiltration through the fence — as an attacker. But Fathi Hammad, a member of Hamas’ politburo, told demonstrators Friday that his movement will respond to the shooting. Hamas says Israel is avoiding the cease-fire terms that call for easing restrictions and improving conditions in the impoverished enclave. Hammad  threatened to escalate the protests and resume firing incendiary balloons toward Israeli farmland if Israel doesn’t accelerate measures alleviating Gaza’s economic and humanitarian crisis within a week.
https://apnews.com/552d7307266149d1a5eb01d1534fb567

Hamas launches Gaza-wide drill simulating Israeli incursion
i24NEWS 10 July — A surprise exercise simulating an Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip was launched Tuesday evening, with the enclave’s Islamist militant rulers Hamas raising the level of alert among all security agencies across the Strip. The exercise involved all echelons of Gaza’s security services, including police, intelligence units and Hamas’ Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades militant wing. As part of the drill, reserve units were mobilized, roadblocks deployed, and all land crossings and sea ports shuttered by Hamas. Residents of the Strip first reported a sudden flurry of security activity before the Hamas-run Interior Ministry announced the drill. “The Interior and National Security Ministry is currently carrying out an emergency drill to simulate dealing with a sudden security threat. It is taking place in the framework of examining the preparedness of the security forces and services,” spokesman Iyad al-Bozm wrote on Twitter.
The drill –which included a simulation of the capture of Israeli special forces operating in the territory — comes days after the IDF released new findings on a botched special operation in Gaza last November that resulted in the death of an elite Israeli officer and seven Palestinians.
https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/international/middle-east/1562739237-hamas-launches-major-gaza-wide-drill-simulating-israeli-incursion

Israeli forces shoot, arrest Palestinian youth on Gaza border
GAZA (PIC) 12 July — The Israeli occupation forces on Friday afternoon arrested a Palestinian citizen after shooting him north of the Gaza Strip. Quds Press, quoting local sources, said that the Israeli forces opened fire at a Palestinian youth near the border in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia. The youth, who suffered bullet wounds, was arrested and taken to an undeclared destination. Israeli media sources claimed that the injured detainee attempted to infiltrate into the 1948 occupied Palestinian territories.
https://english.palinfo.com/news/2019/7/12/Israeli-forces-shoot-arrest-Palestinian-youth-on-Gaza-border

Israeli army: Gaza drone shot down after crossing border
[behind paywall] Haaretz 8 July by Almog Ben Zikri — Israeli soldiers shot down a drone they identified crossing over from the Gaza Strip on Monday, according to a statement by the Israeli army. Israeli radar systems identified a drone flying over the border in the northern Gaza Strip toward nearby communities, Karmiya and Zikim. It was tracked for some time before the decision was made to down it. It remains unclear at this point how the drone was shot down. Its remnants were collected by the army and transferred for further examination in order to determine its origins and the type of equipment it was carrying. Over the last few years, many Israelis living in the region independently operate drones to film the damage caused by conflagrations started with incendiary balloons and kites launched by Gazans from the Strip. The Israeli army did not confirm this was not the case this time as well….
https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israeli-army-shoots-down-drone-entering-israel-from-gaza-1.7455179

IDF says recently discovered Gaza attack tunnel is ‘old’, releases footage
Times of Israel 9 July — The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday released photographs of an “old” cross-border attack tunnel from the Gaza Strip that it uncovered the day before, as well as video footage of forces surveying the underground passage. The photos showed rough-hewn sections of the tunnel, which is the 18th cross-border passage discovered since the end of the 2014 war. In the short video clip, soldiers are seen apparently measuring the depth of the tunnel. The military on Tuesday said the tunnel was “old,” without elaborating. According to Channel 13 television, the Israeli authorities were investigating whether the tunnel was used in the 2006 Hamas kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. “Forces investigated the route during the past 24 hours and will continue with the mission,” the army said in a statement. The military on Monday said the tunnel was found during the construction of an underground barrier around the Palestinian coastal enclave, five years after the start of a operation aimed at finding and destroying such passages … Work began in earnest on the Defense Ministry-led project in 2016. According to the military, it is due to be completed by the end of 2019. The 65-kilometer (40 mile) barrier is being constructed entirely inside Israeli territory, 50 meters (some 55 yards) from the Gaza border at its closest point and 300 meters (328 yards) away at its farthest.
https://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-releases-footage-of-recently-discovered-gaza-attack-tunnel/

16 Palestinian children killed in first term of 2019
IMEMC/Agencies 10 July — The Israeli occupation army has killed 16 Palestinian children from the Gaza Strip during the first term of 2019, Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights reported on Wednesday. The center said, in the report, that some 1,233 Palestinian children were injured while participating in the Great March of Return, and 17 others were detained. The report stressed that Israeli occupation forces continued its systematic violations of Palestinians’ human rights in Gaza Strip, especially on the children. According to the report, the recorded data pointed to an increase in the number of killed and injured children, as well as in the number of detentions, Al Ray further reports.
https://imemc.org/article/16-palestinian-children-killed-in-first-term-of-2019/

For faith or money: Why Gazans are eager to perform umrah
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 12 July by Amjad Yaghi — Three months ago, some 20 young Gazan men went on the umrah pilgrimage (the non-mandatory, lesser pilgrimage) in Saudi Arabia and never returned to the Gaza Strip. Saudi authorities grant Gazan pilgrims a one-month visa to Saudi Arabia for hajj and umrah through travel agencies in Gaza. Pilgrims ought to leave Saudi territories upon completing their pilgrimage. Their passports remain in the travel agencies’ possession and are given back to them upon their return to Gaza. This, however, did not stop some of the travelers to stay illegally in Saudi Arabia. They obtain a passport replacement from the Palestinian Embassy after declaring they lost the original. They then try to flee to other Gulf countries to find work. Many young Gazans consider the umrah trip an opportunity to escape the densely populated enclave to travel to countries where they have a chance to find work or study. In fact, the pilgrimage trip is less trouble than going through the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip and security checks by the Egyptian police….
https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/07/umrah-pilgrimage-gaza-strip-fugitive-saudi-arabia-.html

How Israel returned a Gaza fishing boat back to its owner
GAZA STRIP (Al Jazeera) 6 July by Walid Mahmoud & Muhammas Shehada — Abdul-Muti al-Habil’s boat was sunk and confiscated by Israel’s navy in 2016. What was left of it was returned in ruins — Abdul-Muti al-Habil, a fisherman from Gaza, received a sudden phone call from the Palestinian Authority (PA) last week, informing him that his boat – confiscated by Israel three years earlier – would be returned to him at a crossing in the southern Gaza Strip. The PA official told al-Habil that the return of the 17-metre long ship, one of the largest of Gaza’s fishing fleet, marked an unprecedented move by Israel, especially since it would be transported over land. But al-Habil’s bitterness did not start with the confiscation of his boat, and he fears it will not end after the return of it …
Shortly after al-Habil’s boat was back in working order, Israel attacked it again on September 8, 2016, and arrested all fishermen on board, releasing them a day later. This time, however, Israel’s navy confiscated the boat until further notice and in the process of transporting it to Israel’s Ashdod seaport, the boat incurred further severe damage, according to al-Habil, who said an evident hole in the ship’s hull, made it unusable. Nahid Abu Ryala, who used to work on al-Habil’s boat, told Al Jazeera: “The boat used to employ 34 people, each of whom has a household of seven to 10 people. Our careers were gone in a blink of an eye when Israel decided to attack our boat. It can’t go on like this. This is inhumane.” …
Last Monday, two days after the phone call from the PA, al-Habil – whose boat is one of very few large ones equipped to sail long distances in the besieged Gaza Strip – retrieved the vessel from the Karm Abu Salem crossing, but had to pay about $3,000 for transport costs, due to Israel’s unusual insistence on not delivering the boat by sea. “The boat should have been delivered by sea, but due to the damage Israel inflicted on it, it was only possible to transport it by land,” al-Habil pointed out. “When I went to pick it up, I found it severely ruined on all different levels.” …  According to al-Habil, the initial estimation of maintenance costs exceeds $45,000, an amount he says is “insanely unaffordable” in the blockaded Gaza Strip. Moreover, al-Habil’s dilemma is further exacerbated by the Israeli restrictions and prohibitions on the entry of basic and necessary materials, tools and equipment needed to fix the boat….
https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/israel-returned-gaza-fishing-boat-owner-190705190052533.html

Palestinian businessmen demand Israel lift ban on raw materials shipment to Gaza
GAZA, July 6 (Xinhua) — The Palestinian Businessmen Association (PBA) demanded on Saturday that Israel lift the ban on raw materials shipment to the Gaza Strip. “More than 500 various types of raw materials needed to boost economic and industrial sectors are banned by the Israeli occupation,” Ali Hayek, chairman of the Gaza-based PBA, said in a press statement. “It is necessary to lift this ban that has been going on since 2007 in order to revive and boost the Palestinian economy in the Gaza Strip, thus fighting the economic and humanitarian crisis,” he added. According to the PBA chief, the productivity in Gaza has declined by more than 52 percent in the past few years, with nearly 300,000 unemployed people. On Friday, Israel declared the lift of the ban on the shipment of about 18 kinds of raw materials to Gaza, including agricultural fertilizers and steel nets used for fishing, the Voice of Israel radio station reported.
http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-07/06/c_138204908.htm

Gaza’s traditional crafts industries rapidly disappearing
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 10 July by Fares Akram & Khalil Hamra — When Gazans think of better economic times, images of clay pottery, colorful glassware, bamboo furniture and ancient frame looms weaving bright rugs and mats all come to mind. For decades, these traditional crafts defined the economy of the coastal Palestinian enclave, employing thousands of people and exporting across the region. Today, the industries are almost non-existent. While such professions have shrunk worldwide in the face of globalization and Chinese mass production, Gazan business owners say Israel’s 12-year blockade of the territory has accelerated the trend. “We have been economically damaged. We are staying, but things are really difficult,” said Abed Abu Sido, one of Gaza’s last glassmakers, as he flipped through a glossy catalog of his products. At his quiet workshop, layers of dust covered the few remaining glass artifacts, requiring him to scrub them to reveal their colors. Cardboard boxes of unfinished products and materials were stacked floor-to-ceiling….
https://www.apnews.com/1da088d9727747eb81a9e53aa5490331

Video — Gaza: More women join workforce despite high unemployment
6 July — More women than ever before are making up a part of Gaza‘s workforce. Unemployment is at record levels. Yet women are setting up their own businesses to raise money for their families. But they have to deal with cultural, as well as economic barriers. Al Jazeera’s Rob Matheson reports.
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/07/gaza-women-join-workforce-high-unemployment-190706151218344.html

B’Tselem: Commercial and residential tenants in buildings bombed during the last round of hostilities talk about the destruction of their lives
9 July — In June, we released our findings about the round of hostilities between Israel and militant organizations in Gaza in early May and the civilians killed and injured by Israel. Today, B’Tselem releases the findings of further research focusing on two buildings that were targeted and destroyed after the military gave their occupants only several minutes to vacate the premises, and on the immense harm caused to commercial and residential tenants in them. According to UN figures on this round of hostilities, Israeli bombardments destroyed a total of 100 units, 33 of them residential. Another 30 units were severely damaged, including 19 residential units, bringing the total number of residential units rendered uninhabitable to 52. This left 52 families, consisting of 327 individuals including 65 children under the age of five, homeless. Some 700 additional residential units sustained damage.  In testimonies given to B’Tselem field researcher Olfat al-Kurd, tenants described the terror of having to vacate the premises on a moment’s notice and the devastating impact of the attacks on their lives: ….
https://www.btselem.org/gaza_strip/20190709_targeting_commercial_and_residential_buildings_in_gaza_in_may_2019

Death sentence issued in Gaza: PCHR calls for respecting Palestine’s international obligations
PCHR 10 July — On Tuesday, 09 July 2019, the First Instance Court issued a death sentence by hanging against J.M. (69), from Jabalia after convicting him with the murder of (A.A.) on 15 February 2018. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the ongoing use of death penalty in the Gaza Strip and calls upon the authorities to respect Palestine’s international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights’ Second Optional Protocol, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty (Acceded in June 2018). Since the beginning of 2019, three death sentences were issued in Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled areas. Thus, the total number of death sentences issued since 1994 reached 219: 30 in the West Bank and 189 in the Gaza Strip. Of the Gaza Strip sentences, 131 were issued after 2007. PCHR confirms that any death sentence should not be executed without the Palestinian President’s ratification; and that any executions carried out without said ratification are considered an extra-judicial execution and those executing or issuing the sentence should be held accountable. PCHR also commends the President’s decision not to ratify any death sentence since 2005, and calls for a moratorium on the death sentence, in a prelude to its abolition from Palestinian legislations.
https://pchrgaza.org/en/?p=12642

With a crumbling economy, Gaza’s poorest are pushed into homelessness
Mondoweiss 8 July by Yousef M. Aljamal — Amid growing financial strain, Palestinians in Gaza who are unable to pay rent are now living in tents. Most were tradesmen who lost their jobs in recent years. Some were once part of Gaza’s slim middle-class. Of those with degrees, many studied hard sciences. After a decade of siege on Gaza’s crumbling economy, even once reliable work is scarce … Ziad Abu Hashish, an academic and researcher in social and economic affairs in the Gaza Strip at Al-Aqsa University, described the coastal enclave as a crisis area. “The percentage of people living below the poverty line in the Gaza Strip exceeded all expectations, and the siege did not spare any segment of the society, and those living in rental houses face either imprisonment or eviction along with their families,” Abu Hashish said….
http://mondoweiss.net/2019/07/crumbling-economy-homelessness/

Not all Gazans are poverty-stricken – only most of them. Some people would like to use the better-off Gazans to deny the deplorable and worsening situation in the Strip.
The Gaza you don’t see
Israel National News 8 July by Mordechai Sones — The increasingly popular Twitter account called @Imshin disseminates videos, blog posts, and news from the middle-class and wealthy world of the Gaza Strip that never make it into the mainstream media. According to the UN, 53% of Gazans live in poverty, despite humanitarian assistance. But while world media outlets choose to focus solely on photographs of destitute Gazans carting off sacks of UNRWA flour by donkey cart, the swank world of high-class hotels, black-tie restaurants, and gourmet supermarkets stocked to overflowing with Israeli products are ignored, presenting a misleading picture of what life in Gaza after Israeli “occupation” is truly like. Under the hashtag #TheGazaYouDontSee, Imshin, who prefers to keep her identity anonymous, shares diverse vignettes from life in Gaza that are a far cry from the oppression and misery that “everybody knows” is the lot of the Gazan population. From shopping sprees to swimming academies, bumper cars to the upscale Palmera Restaurant, Imshin opens our eyes to the fact that life in Gaza is more complex than what anti-Israel propagandists would have one believe….
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/265683

Veterinarians seek medical cannabis for dogs
WorldIsraelNews 6 July — The trauma suffered by Israelis from the Gaza rocket attacks is not limited to humans.  Veterinarians reportedly are requesting authorization to administer medical cannabis to dogs living in a rocket-plagued Israeli city near the Gaza Strip as a way of treating the anxiety from which the canines are suffering.  “Examinations conducted by veterinarians from the Israel Medical Cannabis Association have shown that more than 50 percent of dogs at the Sderot municipal shelter suffer from symptoms of anxiety: diarrhea, vomiting, pressing themselves up against walls, and all because of the security situation in the region,” reports the Mako website.  Sderot is a city in the western Negev that is situated only about a kilometer from the Gaza Strip and has suffered sustained rocket fire over the past couple of decades….
https://worldisraelnews.com/veterinarians-seek-medical-cannabis-for-dogs-affected-by-gaza-rockets/

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

How ‘archaeological settlements’ are destroying Palestinian homes
Al Jazeera 8 July by Mersiha Gadzo — Fayyad Abu Rmeleh, 60, is afraid the floor and yard of his home will one day collapse. Every day, he says, from morning until late afternoon, the family hears the digging and drilling of tunnels beneath their building. The excavations conducted by Israeli authorities first began in 2000, but it was not until five years ago that they began to notice damage to their home. “It’s putting our lives in danger,” Abu Rmeleh told Al Jazeera. “Wherever you turn your head, you find new cracks. We don’t know how many tunnels are beneath our house, but we believe there are at least three.” The 50-member Abu Rmeleh family lives in Silwan‘s Wadi Hilweh neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem, which has been marketed as the “City of David” tourist attraction, where some Israelis say King David of the Bible built the “original city of Jerusalem” some 3,000 years ago. Underneath their home, Israeli authorities have been digging tunnels, searching for traces of the Second Temple era. Long, jagged cracks have formed every which way in his home – on the stairs, by the windows in the bathroom and living room, while chunks of the wall in some areas have fallen out. On the outside of the house, a 1.5-metre-long crack stretches from the ground. But his nephew’s home, located in the same building, was the most badly damaged. He was forced to move out with his wife and five children in early 2018 as the ground weakened and could barely hold the walls…
Israeli authorities last week inaugurated the newly excavated tunnel “Path of the Pilgrims” that extends from Wadi Hilweh to the Western Wall, just outside the Al Aqsa compound in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City …
While Greenblatt and members of Elad are confident the new tunnel served as a pilgrim route leading to the Second Temple, many archaeologists are not, Jerusalem-based Yonathan Mizrachi noted in an article. Mizrachi, CEO of the Israeli NGO Emek Shaveh, told Al Jazeera the tunnels that Israel has excavated in and around the Old City and in Silwan are “problematic”. To date, no academic or scientific report has been published on the tunnels, nor has any data been released as to what has been discovered … Furthermore, the tunnels have been excavated horizontally, breaking in practice with the 100-year-old accepted method of excavating vertically from the surface down, the method used by archaeologists worldwide, Mizrachi said. Information obtained from horizontal excavations is almost worthless …
Mizrachi said the tunnel excavations are “all part of a political agenda”. “Unfortunately, Israel is using these tunnels disguised as archaeological excavations but it’s actually part of the political goal to prevent Jerusalem from being part of any political solution,” Mizrachi said. “We consider [it to be] another form of settlement. It’s a settlement without people, but it’s an archaeological settlement. It’s not less problematic than other settlements, but even more [so].”
https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/archaeological-settlements-destroying-palestinian-homes-190708113859297.html

Israel’s separation wall endures, 15 years after ICJ ruling
Al Jazeera 9 July by Linah Alsaafin — The separation wall, deemed illegal by ICJ, cuts into occupied West Bank territory, and will be 712km upon completion — In the occupied West Bank, the long, concrete separation wall winds through the landscape, slicing through Palestinian communities, agricultural fields and farmlands in a steady manner. The wall, which Israel began constructing in 2002 at the height of the second intifada, has been described by Israeli officials as a necessary security precaution against terrorism. Palestinians however, have decried the wall as an Israeli mechanism to annex Palestinian territory, as it is built deep within the West Bank and not along the 1967 Green Line. Tuesday marks the 15th anniversary since the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the UN judiciary organ, issued an Benny Morris reveals more about the Israeli conspiracy to cover-up the Nakba

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[l] at 7/12/19 11:25am

Israeli historian Benny Morris is known for his uncovering of some of Israel’s darkest secrets from the Nakba. Only a week ago, he was mentioned in detail in Hagar Shezaf’s staggering investigative report in Haaretz titled “Burying the Nakba: How Israel Systematically Hides Evidence of 1948 Expulsion of Arabs”. The piece uncovered a secret yet systematic operation by an Israeli Defense Ministry department, causing critical Nakba archives to disappear from the public eye – archives that had already been cited since the late 1980’s by historians such as Morris.

Yesterday, a Hebrew-only piece appeared in Haaretz, by Morris, titled “The Director of Historical Revisionism in the Defense Ministry”. The title is a sarcastic pun on the name of the revealed department, the “Department for Security of the Defense Establishment” (acronym Malmab in Hebrew).

Morris congratulates Shezaf for her “excellent investigative report” and continues to tell in detail of the disappearance of archives he had quoted from concerning the massacre of Deir Yassin from 1948.

Morris’s exposure reveals a multi-layered conspiracy of cover-up, historical revisionism and censorship that cuts across many decades:

About two years ago, when I was preparing a collection of articles for my recent book in Hebrew (“From Deir Yassin to Camp David”), I asked the Defense Ministry and IDF Archive for permission to peruse anew documents which regarded the massacre which was committed by the Etzel [Irgun] and Lehi [Stern Gang] in the Arab town Deir Yassin, on the western approaches of Jerusalem, on February 9th 1948. On that day 100-120 of the village residents were killed, most of them children, women and elderly. These documents were open to researchers and the wide public at the beginning of the 21st century and I had quoted from them extensively in the English article “The Historiography of Deir Yassin” which I had published in 2005 in the Tel Aviv University’s “Journal of Israeli History”. I had now asked to peruse them again, but the directors of the archive refused my request. They had no explanation other than the statement: “now the documents are closed”.

Morris reveals that the documents he was seeking were not only from 1948 (reports from the Haganah Intelligence Service), but also from much later – 1971.

The 1971 documents relate to secret discussions between former Haganah/IDF officials and Foreign Ministry officials concerning what happened in Deir Yassin. And the reason for the discussions is a booklet that was published in 1969 by the Hasbara Department of the Foreign Ministry, under Abba Eban. Morris explains about the content:

In the booklet it was claimed that there was no massacre in Deir Yassin and that the story about the massacre is supposedly an Arab fiction, ‘part of a collection of fables’.

Morris also discloses that it was his father, the late Yaakov Morris, who was the author of the booklet. The release of the booklet caused uproar amongst veterans of the Labor movement who had been leaders in the Zionist militias and the Israeli military in 1948, and they complained about the booklet. In 1971, Shaul Avigdor, who had been a Haganah immigration official, sent a complaint to Gideon Rafael, Director General of the Foreign Ministry. Avigdor attached an opinion from Yehuda Slutzki, author of the official Haganah history book, who affirmed that there indeed was a massacre in Deir Yassin. Yitzhak Levy, who was head of the Intelligence Service in Jerusalem in 1948 and later became Deputy Director General of the Prime Minister Office, wrote to Menahem Begin (Irgun commander and later Prime Minister) also in 1971 – Begin had denied the massacre.

Levitzeh [Yitzhak Levy] wrote that he had investigated the story at the time, and found that Deir Yassin was a quiet town, which had not participated in the battles of 1948 and that indeed a massacre had been perpetrated there by the Irgun and Lehi. Also Israel Galili, from the heads of the Haganah in 1948 and at the time a senior minister in the Israeli government, complained directly to Eban. Eventually Eban replied that his office had shelved the discussed booklet.

Morris summarizes:

The relevant letters from 1971, which were open for perusal in 2003-2004, were closed to researchers and the wide public by order of the Malmab, and therefore in 2018 I was prohibited from seeing them. As well, most of the “incriminating” material from April 1948, which was written by the Intelligence Service officers and was open in 2003-2004, was closed by the Malmab (by the way, even earlier, since I began to work with 1948 matters from the early 1980’s, the Archive of the Defense Ministry and IDF has consistently refused to release for review photographs of the slain of Deir Yassin, which were apparently taken by the Intelligence Service people before they were buried). 

Morris cites Yitzhak Levy, reporting about Deir Yassin in 1948:

The conquering of the town was done with great cruelty. Whole families, women, elderly and small children were killed… Some of the prisoners were taken to detention centers including women and children and cruelly murdered by their captors.

Levy had supplied his report the day after with a follow-up from testimonies of Lehi militants:

Lehi fighters raped a number of women and murdered them later.

Morris writes that these reports contain many more acts of the Irgun and Lehi in Deir Yassin, including looting etc.

Morris decries the “idiocy” of the Malmab in hiding these materials, since “the whole story was told and publicized since 1988 in many books in Hebrew and English, from my pen and from others”. But he resigns to the logic of it all:

Yet, as transpires from Shezaf’s article, the heads of Malmab in their actions hope or hoped that inaccessibility of the Israeli materials, which they had enforced, would cause doubt regarding the work, the conclusions and the very credibility of the researchers – including this writer – in whoever reads their books and articles.

What a cover-up, what a conspiracy (and that’s not just a theory). Everything is being buried, by an arm of the Israeli government. If someone were doing this to Holocaust documents, there would be a cry to the heavens. What a shame. The Jewish State is actively trying to erase the Nakba and any critical discussion of it. Holocaust denial is illegal in Germany – but Nakba denial is not illegal in Israel, and it is thriving.

H/t Ronit Lentin

[Category: Opinion, Benny Morris, Deir Yassin, Nakba]

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[l] at 7/12/19 10:48am
The following speech was given at the ‘Freedom Festival’ held on May 5, 2019 in Leeuwaarden, Netherlands. 

I was born free.

At least that’s what I was told.

In diaspora far from my roots. Far from the language my mother would sing to me while growing in her womb. Far from the stories of empires and freedom fighters my father would read to me while tucking me into bed.

In a world were freedom of choice is measured by the variety of goods.

And were freedom of speech only reaches the walls of our privilege.

In a world where the fetishization of materials become our interpretation of love.

Where the exclusion of ‘otherness’ becomes our meaning of safety. And our growing ignorance and ongoing indifference our key to happiness.

I grew up believing that all this made me free. Until I turned 6 years old. This was the day when I Iearned that my freedom is connected to classism, race and most of all being born on the privileged side of the world.

Core and periphery.

Oppressor and oppressed.

Colonized, decolonized or simply benefiting from the hands of the exploiter.

Daliah Vakili

Daliah Vakili

It was the first time I’ve visited my mother’s homeland. ‘The holy land’ – she would call it with a bitter-sweet smile. She would talk about olive trees, the landscape, historical monuments, the world’s famous ice cream of Ramallah. I was too young to comprehend the pain in her voice whenever she would speak of breathing in the air of freedom that would run from the river to the sea.

What I’ve seen in her homeland was anything but holy. The olive trees she would speak of were surrounded by checkpoints that would limit our freedom of movement from A to B controlled by armed men and women who screamed at us in a foreign language that was not my mother’s tongue.

The historical monuments were accessible to anyone but us, the other indigenous people of the land, reduced to second-class citizens deprived of our rights to look back to our historical roots. Turning my relatives whose family tree can be traced back hundreds of years on the ground of this holy land into stateless souls, suppressing their existence, erasing the stories of my grandparents, suppressing the legacy of their voices by taking the ones away of their grandchildren. The landscape my mother spoke of was dried out, as the occupation controls the accessibility of water supply – water, the main source of life as they say, only available for a few hours a day for farming, washing, drinking. Only a few hours per day to maintain the minimum amount to exist.

Humiliation, tears, begging of mercy from children who were separated from their parents, echoed in my head day in and day out.

And then came the day I’ve witnessed my first execution. An innocent walk to the ice cream shop ended the salesman’s life in front of our eyes. ‘Why’, I would ask my mother while seeing his lifeless body lying in his own puddle of blood. ‘Just like that’, she would reply. Just.Like.That.

The things I’ve seen through the eyes of a six-year-old in only a couple of weeks, reflect only a bracket of the reality of what a Palestinian child has to endure. The terror, the fear, the deprivation of self-determination and human rights shapes the true colours of their upbringing. And when they resist they’re being labelled as perpetrators. And when they’re being killed, their life-less bodies are demeaned as collateral damage and turned into justification for colonial expansion.

Twenty-six-years later the situation worsened as ever. The grounds of the holy land are now surrounded by a wall, the view of my relatives only goes from brick to brick, their freedom of movement is limited to a tiny piece of land, their sacred monuments became fully unattainable – as well as the accessibility to their capital Jerusalem. A place that is only 30 minutes away but became forbidden territory. Banned for life.  Robbed of their home, their identity and culture. Justified with biblical claims, framed by a self-entitled colonial agenda of foreign invasion hidden behind the premise of ‘being the chosen people’.

For the past 11 years Israel has imposed an unforgiving siege on the Gaza strip. Like an open-air prison no one can escape, and no one can enter – ‘Gaza has effectively been sealed off from the world’ (MEMO, 2018), and is populated by almost two million people, squeezed together on the ground of one-quarter of the size of London.  According to the UN over 1.3 million inhabitants of Gaza are refugees who were violently expelled from their homes in 1948, the very same year when the state of Israel was established and with that the existence of Palestine erased from our history books for good.

So why do Palestinians protest every Friday with rocks, burning tires or empty handed – shouting to the fully armed occupation forces who shoot mercilessly at unarmed protestors?

  • Because their freedom of movement is limited. They’re dependent on a permit by the Israeli authority. Those in medical need are often rejected permission to travel within their own country. Which results in a high death toll of Palestinians who were rejected medical access outside Gaza. Being shot at and denied treatment. Left to die.
  • Because their resources are limited. And their economy is strangled.  According to the WB their economical growth decreased from 8 % to 0.5 % in less than a year.  Israel prohibits the entry of raw materials and goods into Gaza, which makes reconstruction impossible. In a place that has been violently attacked for the last decade.
  • Because Gaza only receives 6 hours electricity a day. Sitting in darkness for the remaining 18 hours.
  • Because 96 % of the water in Gaza in undrinkable as its contaminated by chemicals from fertilisers from Israeli settlements. A population slowly poisoned to death.
  • Because according to the UN Gaza will be uninhabitable in 2020.

2020 is in one year. In exactly one year part of my homeland will be uninhabitable. Yet, I am being silenced when I speak of Genocide.  Technicalities on discourses seem more essential than the eradication of my people.

As a person of colour, a woman, and a human rights activist I am often involved in political discussions. And with whatever fact, figure or evidence I try to support my arguments on ethnic cleansing, most opponents try to silence me with the same question:

But what about Hamas?

In 2014 – more than 1,462 civilians were murdered of which 495 were children.

But what about Hamas?

In 2010 –Israel launched a white phosphorus attack that burned 759 civilians alive of which 344 were children. We all know the famous photograph of a Vietnamese child in the 70ties who runs from the white phosphorus attack launched by the US, stripped naked, screaming for its life.  344 Palestinian children were screaming for theirs. Unheard. As their burning flesh remains invisible to the world.

But still they would ask me; but when does Hamas finally stop?

In 2018 – more than 29,000 unarmed protestors were injured, 111 limbs have been amputated, 300 people were brutally killed. Hamas was neither present nor part of these protests. Over three hundred people have been massacred on live-stream, that could be easily followed on every social media channel. My friends would desperately fill their Instagram stories with screams, flying limbs, bloodsheds and dying civilians. Hoping to show the world their reality. But remained invisible.

A United Nations inquiry has found Israeli forces have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity by targeting unarmed children, journalists and the disabled in Gaza.

Yet everyone turns to me and says ‘they haven’t seen or haven’t heard’. And if they have seen or heard they’d still shrug their shoulders and claim ‘it’s complicated.’

Which makes me wonder: ‘How can anything be framed as complicated when the absence of morality is so obvious?’

Equality is an absolute value.

Justice is an absolute value.

According to Kant, the notion of ethical objectivism claims that each of us can know right from wrong. And that justice or equality is not a matter of subjective perspective. And that each of us have objective moral duties.

Would any of us, here in our privileged bubble, accept justice or equality as such if only a bit of it was provided and the rest taken from us? No. We would call both injustice and inequality by its name. So why don’t we do the same when it is done to others? What does it say about our moral duties as human beings on this shared planet?

It almost seems to me that our range of privileges determines our subjectivity of our ethical values. As long as we benefit, we see justice in everything and as long as we have the opportunity to maximise and generate profit, we see equality for all.

But when it comes to our own lives, our rights to exist or anything that could harm our development we would not accept a nuance. So why does everyone expect a nuance on the Genocide of my people?

Would it be ethical to demand from a victim to understand the side of her rapist?

So why is it ethical to demand this from me, when the roots of my being, the ground of my land is being raped and exploited for over 71 years?

Why is past colonialism condemned and modern colonialism justified?

Why is past Apartheid condemned and modern Apartheid legalized and globally accepted?

The Holocaust was legal.

Slavery was legal.

Segregation was legal.

Legality is not a guide for morality.

And legality does not necessarily comply with justice.

Each year approximately 500-700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12 years, are detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system. The most common charge is stone throwing. Rocks against tanks. Obedience and comfort zones often blind us and inhibit our striving for change and social justice.

Shouldn’t it be our moral responsibility to question structures that don’t provide equality, justice and freedom for all?

When I call for resistance I don’t necessarily demand for your presence on the street. I ask for your solidarity in the simplest ways. I ask you to consider boycotting products that actively contribute to social and global inequality. I ask you to consider using the endless accessibility on information and educate yourself on current issues. I ask you to consider sharing articles, videos and different type of sources that shed light on human right abuses and other forms of injustice. I ask you to consider listening to the less privileged and marginalized, to acknowledge their struggle and offer your voice when theirs isn’t heard.  I ask you to consider to extent your empathy further than a burning monument in Paris and to use your privilege into a tool that strives for change.

My Jewish sister Stavit Sinai, an offspring of Holocaust survivors, who demands human rights and justice for Palestinians, once said to me: ‘I did not choose to be born Israeli. Feeling guilt won’t help anyone. Instead I choose to feel responsible. To fight for equality and justice for all.’  Her words have taught me a valuable lesson: You can’t choose whether you’re born privileged or not. But you can choose who you want to be when it comes to morality.

And morality means to stand with the oppressed and hold the oppressor accountable.

I understand that it is not always easy to stand up for something that does not directly concern us. I also understand that we all deal with our own demons and struggles. But what we need to understand is that when looking away we make ourselves complicit.

Nelson Mandela once said ‘we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.’

Most of us who are here today were born free. At least that is what we have been told.

We compare our level of freedom to others, but are not willing to share – treating it as limited resourses, as there would not be enough freedom available for everyone.

But how can we feel truly liberated without the freedom of our siblings? Aren’t the chains of our ignorance turning us into mental slaves of a system that prevent us from making a change?

There is no such thing as part freedom. Freedom only truly exists as a whole.

Same as our earth only exists as a whole.

May the next liberation festival celebrate the freedom of all oppressed nations, from our indigenous to black siblings, our sisters and queer siblings, may we stand united against the forces of injustice and create a world where striving for equality becomes our moral duty.

We have nothing to lose but our chains.

[Category: Activism]

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[l] at 7/12/19 8:14am

On July 11, Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden gave a speech outlining his foreign policy objectives in which he stated that the United States must stand with Israel despite the disagreements some Democrats have with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Biden’s 40-minute speech was delivered at City University of New York and he spent most it vowing to renew the diplomacy of the Obama era, contrasting the previous approach with Trump’s “America First” technique. He vowed to rejoin the Paris climate accords and the Iran nuclear deal. Additionally, he called for an end to the United States’ involvement in “forever wars” although he never mentioned that he voted in favor of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq when he was a Senator.

Biden barely mentioned Israel, but his comment on the country was notable:

We need to look for opportunities to strengthen opportunities with domestic friends beyond North America and Europe. Reaching to our partners in Asia including Japan, South Korea, Australia, India, to fortify our collective capabilities. Sustaining our ironclad commitments to Israel’s security regardless of how much you may disagree with its current leader.

A number of Democratic candidates have criticized Netanyahu’s government on the campaign trail, including Bernie Sanders (who implied he’d cut military aid to Israel if they didn’t “respect” the Palestinians) and Pete Buttigieg (who said he wouldn’t supply the Prime Minister with funding if it would be used to annex the West Bank.) Last month, the New York Times asked the Democratic candidates a number of question and one of them was whether Israel meets the international standards of human rights. Biden was the only major candidate who declined to participate.

Biden has a long history of sharing his views on Israel and the American Jewish community. In a 2014 speech before the Jewish Federations of North America, Biden joked about still being friends with Netanyahu despite his seemingly awkward relationship with the Obama administration. “I signed a picture for Bibi a long time ago—I have a bad habit of, no one ever doubts I mean what I say, sometimes I say all that I mean, though—and I signed a picture a long time for Bibi,” said Biden, “He’s been a friend for over 30 years. I said ‘Bibi I don’t agree with a damn thing you say but I love you.'”

[Category: News, 2020 U.S. Election, Biden, Democrats, Iran, Israel, Netanyahu, Trump]

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[l] at 7/12/19 7:17am

UNITED NATIONS, 12 JULY 2019 — Israel is “moving rapidly” towards annexing parts of the Palestinian West Bank and tough rhetoric from Israeli politicians could presage a “dramatic” step in the coming months, United Nations investigator Michael Lynk told Mondoweiss.

Speaking by phone from Amman, the capital of Jordan, during a week-long fact-finding visit to the region, Lynk said that Israel’s settlement-building on Palestinian land was at its “highest level in recent years”.

“It’s moving much more rapidly and on the horizon is something much more dramatic,” said Lynk, the UN’s special rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory.

S. Michael Lynk at UN press conference on Oct. 26, 2017.

S. Michael Lynk at UN press conference on Oct. 26, 2017.

“The public statements made by senior American diplomats in favor of the long-expressed wish by senior Israeli political leaders, including virtually every member of the Israeli cabinet, in favor of annexation of some parts of the West Bank has only gotten louder. There is a greater normalization of the concept of annexation.”

Lynk was visiting Jordan to meet Israeli and Palestinian officials and activists and to carry out research for an annual report that he will submit to the UN’s Geneva-based Human Rights Council (HRC) later this year.

As on previous visits, the Canadian law professor was denied entry to Palestine by Israeli officials — a decision he criticized as “contrary to Israel’s obligations as a UN member to cooperate fully with experts” from the world body.

Lynk noted a “sharp rise” in the number of demolitions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank, particularly in East Jerusalem, where hundreds of residents of Sur Baher await the feared arrival of Israeli bulldozers.

Israel’s mission to the UN did not provide a comment to Mondoweiss. In the past, both Israel and the United States have heavily criticized Lynk’s observations and conclusions, which are not legally binding.

Israel captured the West Bank in a war in 1967. Its settlements there are seen as illegal by most world powers. Palestinians deem the outposts, and the military presence needed to protect them as obstacles to their goal of establishing a state. Israel disputes this.

In April, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he would annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank during a tight re-election campaign. Such a step is increasingly discussed by Israeli politicians.

Trump administration officials have appeared to endorse annexation. David Friedman, Washington’s ambassador to Israel, said Israel was entitled to annex at least “some” of the Palestinian West Bank.

U.S. President Donald Trump has also recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, moved the US embassy there, cut funding to Palestinians and recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

According to Link, Israel has “already crossed the bright red line into illegality”.

“The whole point of putting settlers on occupied territory is to make those facts irreversible and to establish, with each new settlement unit, another drip of the sovereignty claim,” Lynk told Mondoweiss.

Last month, a US-led conference in Bahrain designed to raise cash for the Palestinian economy and pave a path to peace with Israel came under criticism, as no official delegation from either of the two parties attended.

Lynk predicted the US peace effort would fall apart unless the political plan, which the White House is set to release later this year, offers Palestinians a country with borders based on land seized by Israel in 1967.

“The problem has been that all of the various proposals that have been lodged over the last 25 years have, by and large, put aside this detailed peace plan based in international law,” said Lynk, who also teaches constitutional law at Western University, Ontario.

“Because of that abandonment, those plans have ended up crashing and burning, and I suspect this one will do the same.”

In the absence of a credible peace process, UN members and the European Union in particular should start cutting economic, political and cultural ties with Israel unless it starts meeting its international obligations.

“How many weeks did it take the EU to impose a comprehensive list of sanctions and withdrawals of membership for Russia in the aftermath of the 2014 occupation and annexation of Crimea? It was done extremely swiftly,” said Lynk.

“Here we have an occupation that’s passed the 52-year mark, and Israel has paid no substantial price for its prolonged occupation, annexation and defiance of international opinion with respect to settlements, the separation wall, and collective punishment.”

Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court (ICC) should speed up its probe into rights abuses in Gaza and the West Bank and the HRC should publish a long-awaited list of firms that conduct business on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Lynk added.

[Category: News]

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[l] at 7/12/19 7:13am

After a town hall meeting in New Hampshire on July 8, Massachusetts Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren was approached by activists from the progressive Jewish group IfNotNow and asked if she would push Israel to end the occupation of Palestine if elected.

“Hi, we’re American Jews, we really love the way you are fighting corruption,” University of Michigan student Becca Lubow told her, “We’d really love it if you’d also pushed the Israeli government to end occupation.”

“Yes. So I’m there!,” responded Warren before posing with the activists for a quick photo. 

Elizabeth Warren poses for a photo with IfNotNow activists Becca Lubow and Ella Parker

Elizabeth Warren poses for a photo with IfNotNow activists Becca Lubow and Ella Parker

The Warren run-in was a part of a much wider effort byIfNotNow to start pressuring Democratic candidates on the campaign trail. “Our focus is going to be trying to push the candidates past giving lip-service to a two-state solution,” co-founder Emily Mayer told Politico last month, “without recognizing the underlying dynamics and explicit moves by the Israel government that are creating a one-state reality where Palestinians are denied basic rights.”

On its face, Warren’s declaration should hardly be considered controversial. A two-state solution with an end to the occupation and a return to the pre-1967 boundaries has been a staple of the mainstream foreign policy consensus for decades now. Even George W. Bush, perceived by many as the face of perpetual imperial aggression throughout the Middle East, said that “There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967. An agreement must establish Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people.” As Robert Mackey points out at The Intercept, even the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (who bore “personal responsibility” for the Sabra and Shatila massacre while he was a general, according to an official inquiry) declared that the occupation should end. “The idea that we can continue holding under occupation — and it is occupation, you might not like this word, but it’s really an occupation — to hold 3.5 million Palestinians under occupation is, in my opinion, a very bad thing for us and for them,” Sharon told fellow lawmakers in 2003.

However, Warren’s short response comes at a time when many believe a major rift has opened up in the Democratic Party over Israel, sparked in part by Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar’s criticisms of AIPAC earlier this year and the subsequent fallout. Predictably, Warren has drawn criticism from pro-Israel organizations. The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) put out a statement claiming that the Senator’s four words added up to a condemnation of Israel:

“Sen. Warren has aligned herself with the rapidly growing left-wing, anti-Israel base of her party,” said RJC executive director Matt Brooks. “Her comments quoted yesterday may have helped solidify her ‘progressive’ credentials for that base, but at the expense of our ally Israel and the prospects for a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

The United States’ role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to be an honest broker, not to condemn the only democracy in the Middle East,” he continued. “Peace can only be achieved by a negotiation between the two parties, not through US pressure on Israel.”

Amidst the backdrop of this alleged controversy lies a similar supposed scandal currently making its way around right-wing media. On the same day that Warren was questioned by young Jewish activists, the Washington Free Beacon ran a hit-piece on Warren staffer Max Berger, who was actually a cofounder of IfNotNow. In 2013, Berger tweeted “Confession: I would totally be friends with Hamas.” The piece quotes Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who insists that Warren must distance herself from Berger as a result of the now-deleted tweet:

“Anyone who wants to be friendly with Hamas has no business being in a presidential campaign. It’s very straightforward. If that’s the message that Elizabeth Warren wants to send to Jewish progressives and the rest of the American Jewish community, that the person she put in charge of outreach wants to be friends with Hamas, no way. She’s going to have to deal with this right now.”

The Washington Free Beacon piece doesn’t mention the context of Berger’s tweet at all. It was actually a reference to a rumor that was accidentally started by the reporter Dan Friedman. At the time, there was talk that former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (then simply an Obama nominee) had given speeches to controversial foreign organizations. Already a target of some conservatives because of an alleged anti-Israel bias, Friedman joked to a GOP Senate aide that Hagel may have addressed a group called “Friends of Hamas.” “I’d made this name up. It was supposed to sound so absurd and controversial that it was obviously fake,” Friedman wrote recently.

Unsurprisingly, the joke wasn’t obvious to Ben Shapiro, who worked for Brietbart at the time. He wrote a piece the next day claiming a “Senate source” had told him Hagel had received money from the Friends of Hamas. “The story as reported is correct,”  he told Friedman at the time,“Whether the information I was given by the source is correct I am not sure.”

Spurious controversies aside, the New Hampshire town hall moment begs a deeper question. Warren has gained steam in the polls over the last few weeks, presumably as a result of her detailed and impressive domestic plans, but what’s her plan for Palestine? If she’s serious about ending the occupation, what steps would she take to make this happen? 

Fellow candidate Bernie Sanders recently implied that he would cut military aid to Israel unless it began treating Palestinian people with “respect,” and Pete Buttigieg (who might be the most pro-Israel Democrat in the race) said he’d refuse to supply Netanyahu with funds to annex the West Bank. These declarations generated their own set of questions (it remains unclear what Sanders would consider to be “respect” or how Buttigieg could control what Israel spends its military funds on), but even if the statements are just hollow rhetoric, they still point to a strategy. 

Becca Lubow (the aforementioned student who asked the town hall question) told Mondoweiss that she hopes Warren comes forward with more details. “I hope to see her put out a specific plan to pressure Israel to end the occupation,” she said, “It’s important for all candidates to engage with this issue. IfNotNow will continue engaging with 2020 candidates to make it clear that American Jews, and the Democratic base, want to see our leaders pushing for an end to the occupation.”

This actually isn’t the first time that Warren has been asked about Palestine by a college student in New Hampshire this year. In April, she was asked a three-part question by Nooran Alhamdan while visiting the University of New Hampshire. 1.) Will you make sure that the free speech rights of BDS supporters are protected? Warren said yes 2.) Would you restore funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, which was eliminated by the Trump administration? Warren also said yes. 3.) “Will you actually hold Israel accountable for its continued human rights violations?”

Warren didn’t actually answer this question, but her response is worth examining:

This– I want to describe this way. I think we start with a statement of our values. Israel is entitled to security and Palestinians are entitled to dignity and self-determination. I believe the way we get there is a two-state solution. Netanyahu has clearly indicated he is headed in a different direction. He has made his case now with extremist right wing groups that push both Israel and the entire region I believe in a far more dangerous direction. I believe that as a good ally to everyone in the region that we should be pushing hard back toward a two state solution and toward insisting on both parts, that is, security for Israel and dignity and self-determination for all of the Palestinian people.

Warren’s answer implies that the major impediment to a two-state solution is the Netanyahu government. The conditions of Palestinians prior to Netanyahu taking power aren’t mentioned and (although her response is much longer than what she told the IfNotNow activists) she doesn’t provide any details about how she’d go about “pushing hard” for a two-state solution.

Alhamdan tweeted about the town hall incident shortly after it happened:

 “Much respect to IfNotNow but this isn’t an answer. I asked Elizabeth Warren the same question in a much more detailed way and she did not provide an answer to holding Israel accountable for the occupation+human rights abuses…We need to hold ourselves to a higher standard and quality of responses to accountability for Israel. ‘Yes the occupation is bad’ doesn’t suffice anymore. Push harder.”

Warren’s previous track record on the issue certainly leaves a lot to be desired from pro-Palestine activists.

In July 2014, she literally ran away from a question about Israel’s  “Operation Protective Edge” attack on Gaza. Two months later she was questioned by a voter named John Bangert (who identified himself as a Warren supporter) about her vote to send $225 million to Israel so they could construct their “Iron Dome” air defense system. The vote took place amidst the aforementioned attack, which  the United Nations says killed at least 2,100 Palestinians, more than 1,500 of which were civilians. “We are disagreeing with Israel using their guns against innocents. It’s true in Ferguson, Missouri, and it’s true in Israel . . .  The vote was wrong, I believe,” Bangert told Warren.

Warren doubled down on her support for Iron Dome and Israel:

“I think the vote was right, and I’ll tell you why I think the vote was right. America has a very special relationship with Israel. Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world, and a part of the world where there aren’t many liberal democracies and democracies that are controlled by the rule of law. And we very much need an ally in that part of the world.”

When Warren was floated as a potential Vice President option for Hillary Clinton in 2016, Forward staff writer Herbert Guttman wrote a piece that referred to her as “surprising Israel hawk” and documented her connections to pro-Israel organizations in Massachusetts. “Warren has attended the annual dinners hosted by the AIPAC Boston chapter and counts among her supporters some mainstream pro-Israel backers, including Steve Grossman, a former Massachusetts treasurer who was also president of AIPAC,” wrote Guttman. The article quotes Greater Boston’s Jewish Community Relations Council executive director Jeremy Burton: “She talked to us a lot about this. She has made clear time and again that she believes in the specialness of America’s relationship with Israel.”

In an interview from February, Warren parroted a common racist trope about Israel facing a demographic crisis:

I don’t..draw the conclusion that what happened under the Obama administration was never going to work that you couldn’t keep pushing harder because over time realities are bearing down on Israel, demographic realities, births and deaths. What the region looks like and I think that this is a moment not while Trump is in there playing the game that he’s playing but that the opportunity soon to get Israel back to the table and get the Palestinians back to the table.

In 2016, Warren signed a letter asking former President Obama to veto any “one-sided” resolution that was critical of Israel. The letter was sent in advance of a UN Security Council resolution that denounced the further expansion of Israeli settlements.

Sarah Lazare is a web editor at In These Times and the author of a recent piece on Warren’s foreign policy record titled “When It Comes to U.S. Militarism, Elizabeth Warren Is No Progressive.”

Lazare told Mondoweiss that, while Warren has improved somewhat, she’s still considerably to the right of Sanders on the issue:

“Warren cannot be considered a progressive on this issue. It’s disappointing, because the bar is set so low on Palestine, and it doesn’t take much to distinguish oneself, yet she does not stand out as progressive. She’s done some things that are unforgivable. In the midst of the 2014 “Operation Protective Edge” she said some really hateful things that made her sound a lot like Netanyahu. She claimed Hamas was using human shields and Israel has a right to defend itself. This language is incredibly dehumanizing to Palestinians, and at the time was used to justify the onslaught.

She’s somewhat close to AIPAC (closer than Sanders is), and in 2016 she signed onto an AIPAC letter calling for Obama to veto the UN’s one-sided resolutions. This was ahead of a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements. Sanders didn’t sign onto that latter, but Gillibrand and Booker did.  There are some signs Warren is improving slightly, probably due to shifts in the base of the Democratic Party.

That shift can be seen in Warren’s consistent criticisms of Netanyahu and her recent opposition to a federal bill that would help criminalize the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS.) Although Warren doesn’t support BDS, she opposes the targeting of its proponents on First Amendment grounds. In 2017, Warren signed a letter urging the Israeli government not to demolish the Palestinian village of Susiya. Sanders also signed that letter.

Perhaps most notably, Warren called on Israel’s government to respect the rights of Palestinian protestors in 2018 after over two dozen of them were killed at the border. “I am deeply concerned about the deaths and injuries in Gaza,” said Warren at the time, “As additional protests are planned for the coming days, the Israel Defense Forces should exercise restraint and respect the rights of Palestinians to peacefully protest.”

As Lazare mentioned, Warren’s shift has mirrored overall changes that have taken place in the Democratic Party. In this respect, she is a good barometer for gauging the positions of mainstream Democrats on this issue and a testament to the work of pro-Palestine activists, who have effectively moved the needle through their dogged organizing.

However, if Warren ends up leading on these issues she will have to face down the vociferous pro-Israel forces within her own party. In January, The Democratic Majority for Israel was formed by party donors. The group aims to squash growing pro-Palestine sentiment and has denounced IfNotNow as a “strongly anti-Israel organization.” After the Warren town hall moment (which they refer to as a “hit and run”) the group put on a memo calling on Democratic candidates to avoid mentioning the occupation and asking them to stress the fact that both sides are responsible for the conflict. The memo contains a sample answer for Democrats to use if they end up being confronted by IfNotNow activists: “I strongly support a two-state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. That solution must give Israelis security and Palestinians a state, but it must also be negotiated directly by the parties, not imposed by outsiders.” 

It remains to be seen in which direction Warren will ultimately move (or be pulled toward), but activists on both sides of the issue would have a much clearer idea of what she’d do as President if she released some details.

[Category: News, Elizabeth Warren, Israel]

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[l] at 7/11/19 12:26pm

It’s been two years since Haneen Adi, an English literature and writing teacher at Ramallah’s Birzeit University, has left the occupied West Bank.

During the past two years she has missed her sister’s wedding, another sister’s graduation, and the death of a relative. When her father attempted to visit her, he was denied entry by Israeli authorities.

Israel has refused to renew Adi’s visa to stay and teach in the West Bank since November 2017, the middle of her first semester at Birzeit.

Since then, she has been faced with an impossible decision: overstay her previous visa in order to continue teaching, or leave the country and risk losing her job, in addition to the possibility of never being able to come back to Palestine.

Adi is not alone. She is one of dozens of international academics at Birzeit and other Palestinian universities in the occupied territory who has been denied a visa by Israel in recent years.

The policy has forced many of Adi’s international colleagues to abandon their posts at the university, uncertain if or when they can return, affecting not only their lives, but the lives of their families and students as well.

Now, Birzeit, which has ranked within the top three percent of universities worldwide, is fighting back. The highly acclaimed university, hand in hand with legal rights groups Adalah and Al-Haq, is “demanding an immediate halt to this policy targeting Palestinian academic freedom and isolating Palestinian institutions of higher learning,” the groups said in a press release on Thursday. 

In a letter sent on April 30th to the Israeli interior minister, attorney general, chief military advocate general, and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the groups demanded the following:

  • Lift the restrictions preventing international academics employed by Birzeit University from staying and working in the West Bank
  • Refrain from imposing arbitrary restrictions on the duration of stay or extension of stay for international academics
  • Order the publication of a clear and lawful procedure for issuing entry visas and work permits for international academics in the West Bank, which will enable the university to manage and maintain its academic freedom.

“Blocking our right to engage international academics is part of an ongoing effort by the Israeli occupation to marginalize Palestinian institutions of higher education,” Birzeit University President Abdullatif Abuhijleh said in a statement.

“The latest escalation in visa restrictions is just one in a longstanding and systematic Israeli policy of undermining the independence and viability of Palestinian higher education institutions.”

Bir Zeit University

Bir Zeit University

A frightening escalation

While foreigners working and living in the occupied territory have long faced difficulties in terms of restrictions on visas and freedom of movement, rights groups say such restrictions have significantly escalated over the past three years.

Beginning in 2016, The Right To Enter Campaign has marked a significant increase in the denial of visas and refusal of visa extensions for foreign nationals by Israeli authorities on the grounds of “changes in policies.”

The group, which has monitored the issue for years, says that the alleged new policies have yet to emerge.

“Despite repeated requests from the diplomatic community for clarification, the longstanding absence of clear, transparent, internationally lawful and consistently applied rules and procedures for foreign nationals wishing to visit, study, work or maintain a presence in the oPt persists,” Right To Enter said in February. 

Adalah highlighted the case of the internationally recognized Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, which reported a 200 percent increase in visa denials over the past two academic years alone.

“In the 2017-2018 academic year, four international faculty out of 20 were denied visa extensions or entry at the border; in 2018-2019, eight international faculty out of 19 were denied visa extensions or entry,” Thursday’s press release said.

The following statistics were provided by Birzeit, Adalah, and Al-Haq to illustrate the extent to which this policy is affecting the university and its faculty:

  • Between 2017 and 2019, four full-time and three part-time international lecturers at Birzeit University were compelled to leave the country and were not able to continue their teaching because Israel refused to renew their visas.
  • In 2019, Israel denied entry to two international academics with Birzeit University contracts.
  • Not a single international faculty member, with the exception of those directly employed by foreign government-sponsored programs, was issued a visa for the length of their 2018-2019 academic year contract.
  • As of press time, six full-time international faculty members contracted for the 2018-2019 academic year are without valid visas.
  • Another five full-time international faculty members – including a department chair – are overseas with no clear indication of whether they will be able to return and secure visas required for them to stay for the coming academic year.
  • Over 12 departments and programs face losing faculty members in the coming academic year because of the Israeli policy.

Adalah, Al-Haq, and Birzeit University noted that Birzeit is not alone — several other Palestinian universities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have also been affected.

Citing a 2018 report from the Palesitnian Ministry of Education, the groups highlighted the fact that “more than half of the international lecturers and staff (32 out of 64) at eight universities were detrimentally affected during the previous two years by Israeli rejections of applications for new visas or visa extensions or by refusal to allow them to enter the West Bank.”

The majority of the affected staff of from the US and European member states, the groups said.

In addition to outright denials of visa applications or refusal of entry, foreigners seeking to live or work in the West Bank have faced extreme delays in processing, and arbitrarily shortened visa extensions, sometimes of periods of just two to three weeks.

If they are lucky enough to get a visa, many are restricted to the West Bank only and are limited to traveling out of the land border with Jordan, as opposed to the airport in Tel Aviv.

In some cases, the groups noted, people have been required to pay security deposits as guarantees that they will not violate the terms of their visas, sometimes in sums as large as NIS 80,000 (approx. US $23,300).

“These Israeli restrictions have severe repercussions on Birzeit, its students, and the Palestinian public at large, isolating the university from other educational institutions around the world and diminishing the quality of education it offers to the Palestinian people,” the groups said, noting that the Israeli policies were illegal under internaitonal law.

By hindering Palestinian univiersities’ ability to self-determine the type and quality of education they wish to provide to their students, the groups say Israel is in violation of Article 43 of the Hague Regulations of 1907, which says that “sovereignty of education” is an inalienable right, and must remain in the hands of the Palestinian population.

Adalah Deputy General Director Attorney Sawsan Zaher, who drafted the letter to Israeli authorities, said:

“Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip – like all other peoples around the world – are entitled to exercise their right to academic freedom as part of their right to self-determination. The Israeli military occupation cannot prevent Palestinians from exercising this right.”

[Category: News]

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[l] at 7/11/19 7:57am

History shows that those committing atrocities on the world stage don’t wake up one day and spontaneously end their crimes. As regular readers of Mondoweiss know, Israel won’t end Palestinian oppression on its own. Outside pressure is the only hope, and the most powerful vehicle to deliver that pressure, BDS, is building momentum. That is, boycott and divestment are, but sanctions are not yet a serious topic of discussion in U.S. political discourse. And they need to be. 

The best hope for Palestinians is a change in American public opinion. Losing the support of Americans, including the largest Jewish population outside Israel, would mean losing American military support. At that point, Israel would be isolated on the world stage. 

What will it take? When will a critical mass of Americans understand that Palestinians have been oppressed for 70 years? That it’s wrong for the U.S. to bankroll Israel’s military? And that our blind support of Israel is morally bankrupt? Despite encouraging signs of late, most Americans still believe Israel’s actions are justified—because like Israelis, their American supporters see Palestinians as sub-human.

The dehumanization of Palestinians underlies so many absurdities. One example: the endlessly repeated myth that Palestinians teach their children they must kill Israeli Jews. No sane parent would encourage a child to take an action that would ruin the child’s life. Or end it. The notion that it could become a societal norm in parenting is beyond absurd. Those who believe this myth can only do so under the premise that Palestinians are less than human.

Another example: the claim that insisting on the right of return for Palestinians is equivalent to demanding the destruction of Israel. As Rahim Darwish points out , this absurdity dehumanizes Palestinians by denying their feelings, aspirations and needs.

It doesn’t end there. Whether it’s the conflation of Hamas with ordinary Palestinians or blaming Palestinians themselves for the abysmal living conditions in Gaza, the function of the propaganda is the same: to deny the humanity of all Palestinians. 

This answers the question above: what will it take? To end the atrocities, we must reverse the dehumanization. 

Ultimately, Americans will see the injustice clearly only when they’ve unlearned the absurdities that cause them to ignore the humanity of Palestinians. If they see Palestinians as monsters who teach their kids to kill Israelis, they never will see Israel’s actions as the atrocities they are. Instead, they will rationalize away the brutality as somehow necessary. Even when snipers shoot unarmed Palestinians in cold blood, which we saw continue for months on end, American public opinion will be mixed, at best. 

Which means those of us who support the Palestinian cause must place more emphasis on the humanity of Palestinians, rather than the actions of Israelis. 

For example, many more eyes were opened last year by the abuse of young Ahed Tamimi by Israeli police. Why? The horrific nature of Israel’s actions in this case was in no way unique. 

For me personally, the force of Ahed’s story was multiplied because months earlier, I’d read Ben Ehrenreich’s book The Way to the Spring ¸ which provides vivid detail about the daily lives of the Tamimi family. I learned how welcoming they were to Ehrenreich, I got to know their personalities. I saw their everyday struggle. Through Ehrenreich, I even felt as if I shared meals with them. So when I read about Ahed’s arrest and imprisonment, it angered me more than usual. 

Just as the dehumanization of Palestinians occurs in countless ways in multiple contexts by Israel and its American supporters, so too must the effort to re-humanize them. There are three areas that are the most promising, in my view (although undoubtedly there are many others worth our effort as well).

First, counterparts to Birthright—interfaith group missions and other organized trips that use travel to counter the pro-Israel position—must be strengthened and expanded. More American thought leaders need to visit the occupied territories, witness the oppression, and experience, first-hand, the humanity of Palestinians. 

Second, far too few people in the United States have ever known a Palestinian or even have a friend or family member who knows one. It’s easy to harbor crazy thoughts about any group when you’ve never been in contact with them. We can change that dynamic.

The election of Rashida Tlaib to Congress likely will be a big step in that direction. A concerted effort by the entire Palestinian-American community to expand their everyday contact with other Americans could be a much bigger one. Believing that Palestinians teach their children to kill is impossible for a rational adult (and a challenge even for an irrational adult) if her friend is Palestinian.

And there’s a ripple effect, which means those of us who are not Palestinian-American have our part to play as well. When I’ve mentioned to others my personal relationships with Palestinians—and directly confronted the absurdity of what they’ve been told—it has an impact. It’s nowhere near as powerful as direct contact with Palestinians would be, but it helps.

Third, we need more people to hear and read stories that humanize Palestinians. We can all do more to expand the reach of Ben Ehrenreich and other works like his. Almost every day, Mondoweiss provides stories of Palestinians and their humanity—the daily routine that can be both mundane and miraculous, as well as the extraordinary moments of resistance to Israeli violence.

People don’t respond emotionally to numbers. Over one hundred Palestinians were killed by Israeli sniper fire in the Great March of Return—but American popular opinion didn’t change. Ditto for the horrific statistics from the 2014 Gaza massacre.

To be sure, many fantastic writers speaking out for Palestinians do so in terms more analytical than story-focused. But as brilliant as, say, Rashid Khalidi and Norman Finkelstein are, and as much as I am personally grateful for what they’ve taught me, I don’t know if they move American public opinion very much. It’s the personal stories, like the glimpses of the Tamimi family in The Way to the Spring , that move people.

Remember Tariq Abukhdeir, the young Palestinian-American who was brutally beaten by Israeli police in 2014? When he returned to America, still badly bruised, he spoke in Washington, DC, about his ordeal. Young Tariq was so compelling that Sen. Barbara Boxer went to the empty Senate to speak about no topic in particular, knowing that C-SPAN’s policy would force it to turn its coverage from Tariq to her. She feared the impact coverage Tariq would have on American public opinion.

And more recently, coverage of Razan al-Najjar, the young Palestinian medic killed last year by Israeli sniper fire, reached beyond the bubble of those already concerned with human rights in Palestine.

The personal story of every oppressed Palestinian should be told, even if it’s just in a blog post or video that only a dozen Americans read or see. Those stories add up. They make it so much harder to buy in to the absurdities, and so much easier to reject them. 

The task for every one of us is to use every channel we can to awaken an American public that swallows the absurd claims labeling Palestinians as less than human. Shame on them for being taken in. Shame on us if we fail to bring them back to reality.

[Category: Opinion]

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