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[l] at 1/28/22 12:38pm
The two-state solution continues to lose support in Palestine. More and more Palestinians are realizing that that the so-called peace process has only resulted in the the production of new Israeli facts on the ground, and new repressive practices that make a functioning Palestinian State impossible. No wonder then that a recent poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center indicates growing support for a one-state solution among the Palestinians at the expense of  the two-state solution. The irony, though, is that the facts on the ground do not seem to have convinced the Palestinian leadership, right or left! Instead of fighting to crush Zionism and its apartheid policies in Palestine, the leadership of the PLO tries to coexist with it. Their argument, which have been shared by some international scholars and activists over the years, is that the two-state solution is supported by an international consensus, notwithstanding the fact it is nothing more than an unjust solution dictated by Israel and the US that it ignores our basic rights as humans. In this article I argue that the only hope for us, Palestinians, lies in an anti-apartheid form of resistance that mobilizes the components of the Palestinian people and international civil society and that ultimately leads to the establishment of single state in Palestine. Apartheid Israel It is an established fact that Israel is an apartheid state.  The latest reports by Human Rights Watch and even Israel’s most respected human rights organization, B’Tselem, not to mention reports by so many Palestinian human rights organizations, have concluded that the regime between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is an apartheid regime. In fact, Apartheid Israel has reached its long dreamed of goal, namely Israeli sovereignty over all of historic Palestine, with non-viable enclaves providing a ghetto autonomy in which the remnants of the Palestinian people can slowly diminish. This has left Israel holding a highly undesirable package, however: a territory containing more than 4.5 million politicized Palestinians with no independent state of their own, fragmenting Israel as effectively as Israel itself has fragmented Palestinians national community. The problem remains as old as the conflict itself: what to do with the people, when all Israel wants is the land? The two-state solution, as I have always been arguing, is a racist solution par excellence to this dilemma in that it is based on separating communities based on their ethno-religious identities, derived from the late 19th century ethno-nationalist ideology that led to the emergence of racist dogmas like Nazism, apartheid and Zionism. It contradicts the democratic principles of 20th and 21st centuries, and as many intellectuals have argued, the conditions for an independent sovereign Palestinian State have been killed off anyway by the irreversible advance of the settlements in the West Bank. In sum, the racist two-state solution which does not provide Palestinians with their basic rights, including freedom, equality, and return of refugees to the towns and villages from which they were ethnically cleansed in 1948.  The question, then, is how to dismantle apartheid? A political vision One problem to answering this question has been the absence of a clear-cut political program offered by oppressed Palestinians.  The right-wing elite in Palestine has sidelined serious and critical Palestinian intellectuals and activists who argue for alternatives to the two-state paradigm they benefit from. The situation, however, has lately changed, especially after the demise of Edward Said, Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, Hisham Sharabati and some principled left-wing leaders who posed a serious challenge to the two-state dogma. The emergence of the BDS movement and the rise of popular resistance in the West Bank, 1948, and Gaza, together with the rise of principled voices calling for secular democracy in mandate Palestine, all have paved the way for an alternative solution, one that guarantees Palestinian fundamental rights.  Hence, the BDS call of 2005 in which Palestinians have asked the international community to live up to its responsibilities and boycott apartheid Israel, divest from it and from companies benefiting from its violations of human rights in Palestine and impose sanctions against it until it complies with international law. Palestinian civil society has learned the South African lesson very well. BDS is, however, a rights-based movement that has refrained from endorsing a political solution. But some activists have been working on an alternative, one that divorces itself from racist solutions, whether limited “administrative autonomy,” as proposed by the Camp David Accords and the Oslo Accords, or a two-state solution that provides the Palestinian people with token independence. These activists demonstrate we are left with one option only: a secular democratic state for all its citizens regardless of religion, ethnicity, or race. It is obvious that there are challenges for the one-state solution like those challenges the South African anti-apartheid activists had to deal with after the collapse of that white supremacist regime. A secular democratic formula necessarily means the dismantling of the apartheid privileges that assign third-class citizenship to Palestinian citizens of Israel, and deprive the 1967 Palestinians of their fundamental human rights. A secular democratic formula will definitely guarantee the right of return of those Palestinian refugees who have been living in miserable refugee camps in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. Interestingly, two-staters have always argued that the two-state solution is in line with international law notwithstanding the fact that it deals with the rights of only one third of the Palestinian people, and denies the internationally-sanctioned rights of Palestinian refugees and third-class citizens of apartheid Israel. What a secular democratic State basically means for us is the elimination of the military occupation of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Jerusalem, unification of all Bantustans and ghettos in Palestine, the return of Palestinian refugees and their compensation, civil rights and freedom. As the late Palestinian intellectual giant Edward Said put it back in 1999: the notion of an Egyptian State for the Egyptians, a Jewish State for the Jews, simply flies in the face of reality. What we require is a rethinking of the present in terms of co-existence and porous borders. And that can only materialize in a secular democratic state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. There are at least two sides to every storySo where are the Palestinian voices in mainstream media?Mondoweiss covers the full picture of the struggle for justice in Palestine. Read by tens of thousands of people each month, our truth-telling journalism is an essential counterweight to the propaganda that passes for news in mainstream and legacy media.Our news and analysis is available to everyone – which is why we need your support. Please contribute so that we can continue to raise the voices of those who advocate for the rights of Palestinians to live in dignity and peace.Palestinians today are struggling for their lives as mainstream media turns away. Please support journalism that amplifies the urgent voices calling for freedom and justice in Palestine.Donate today → Source

[Category: Opinion]

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[l] at 1/28/22 10:07am
Why did US officers visit the illegal, fortified Israeli settlement in the Palestinian city of Hebron earlier this month? I want the Biden administration to answer this question. Like many who have Palestinian friends or who follow events in Israel/Palestine, I was dismayed to learn of the visit three weeks ago by U.S. Army officers to the militarized compound in the heart of the West Bank city. The U.S. personnel chose to bypass a major Palestinian city completely and visit the Israeli settlers instead. The militarys recognition of the settlers emboldens violent Israeli extremists and undermines the Biden administration’s ability to mediate between Israel and Palestine. Even worse, the U.S. officers were in Hebron at the invitation of long-time Israeli, settler leader Noam Arnon, “the spokesman of the Jewish community in Hebron”. Noam Arnon is a mid-level leader in the successful Israeli project to create a one-state reality One Jewish State stretching from the Mediterranean coast across the entire Palestinian West Bank to the Jordan River. The resonance of the U.S. military visit to Hebron extends far beyond Hebron and is emblematic of the one-state reality that is Israel/Palestine and the American political acceptance of apartheid at the highest levels. And the Israeli government is taking similar steps. Israeli President Herzog visited the Jewish settlement of Hebron in December to celebrate Hanukkah. The relative lack of public outcry at this visit reflects the established reality of One Jewish State combining the State of Israel and the Palestinian occupied territories. But its the U.S. that makes the One Jewish State possible through outsized financial aid, massive military assistance and unique diplomatic protection on the world stage. We should expect our country to be better than this. Let’s step back to look at some history to appreciate the significance of this historic recognition by the US military of the Israeli settlement in the heart of Hebron. A US military attaché and an American security coordinator accompanied by U.S. soldier and Israeli military personnel, tour the Ibrahimi mosque/Tomb of the Patriarchs in occupied Hebron with settler leader Noam Arnon. Photo posted by Hebron Fund, January 18, 2022. It has taken half a century to kill the two state solution and the possibility of a Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel. This One Jewish State reality was accomplished in two phases. Phase one: build a network of Israeli cities and outposts on occupied Palestinian land. But the settlements alone were not enough to end the dream of an independent Palestinian state. The Israeli colonists could have been required to leave or accept life under a Palestinian government. Phase Two was an even bolder move: to link these Israeli militarized outposts to each other, breaking up the Palestinian territories into isolated cantons and then connecting this Jewish settler network back to Israel to establish de facto Israeli sovereignty across all the occupied Palestinian territories. Both colonization and annexation of occupied territories are prohibited under international law. These Jewish-only Israeli colonies have long been considered illegal by the international community, including the United States. Colonizing occupied territories is illegal under Israeli law too, So how could this plan get off the ground? A legal fiction had to be engineered outside of Israeli law but under Israeli control. Enter the quasi-governmental “Jewish Agency”, the so-called representative body of the world’s (Zionist) Jews, whose offices are located in Jerusalem under the control of the Israeli government. The illegal colonization of the West Bank by Israel was launched in the name of the world’s Jews. This makes the West Bank settlements the particular responsibility of world’s Jews (known in Israeli and Zionist parlance by the ideologically laden misnomer “the Diaspora.”) Who was the driving force behind the settlement project? This was the community I grew up in: Orthodox Jews who believe the State of Israel was a Divinely-instituted vessel of the Messianic age, long foretold. Who else would have been willing to leave the relative comfort of Israel to start families in harsh, pioneer conditions in hostile, Palestinian territory? There is no gold to be found under the rocks of the Holy Land, but there is high octane religious fervor buried in these biblical hills. The Israeli colonization of the West Bank was spearheaded with revolutionary zeal, by idealistic, nationalistic young Jewish Orthodox men. During my high school years, my Orthodox high school was a card-carrying member of this settler movement. At schoolwide gatherings, hundreds of us teenage boys belted out anthems of love for the Land of Israel by which we meant, the West Bank and Gaza. We trothed our youthful pledge to build Jewish settlements “everywhere”. We looked up to the young men just a few years older than us who would slip out in the middle of the night to engage in the illicit activity of building these new settlements. When we sang our hymns of love to the West Bank, we riffed off the politically correct “occupied territories”, roaring “….and the LIBERATED territories!” Our generation’s mission was “to return” to the Holy Land east of the Green Line. I was vague on what my role exactly was beyond enthusiastically supporting this effort. But I knew from my peers and teachers that colonizing and annexing the West Bank was respectable and commendable. How did the messianic, nationalist, religious young settlers take control of government policy? How did they win the confidence of the grown ups, the sober, secularist, Israeli generals and politicians, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres and their cohort? This is a classic Zionist story: working off the emotional appeal of centuries-old traditions to fashion an entirely different modern, secular, nationalistic ideology of colonization and exploitation. This chapter begins not in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, but in Hebron. Jerusalem has been the most sacred Jewish place on earth for thousands of years. But just 17 miles south along the hilltop range is an even more venerable Jewish touchstone: Hebron, King David’s first capital. Hebron runs deeper in the Jewish mind than Jerusalem. While Jerusalem is never once mentioned explicitly in the Torah (Pentateuch), stories about Hebron abound, including an unusual reference to its great antiquity. Early in the Pentateuch’s first book, the Book of Genesis, Hebron is the site of the first land purchase recorded in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and Jewish tradition, when Abraham purchases a burial plot there for his wife Sarah. Jews have sustained a religious connection to Hebron continuously ever since. A small, Jewish community lived in Hebron until 1929. Judaisms only extant building from antiquity is right there holding up the Ibrahimi Mosque/ the Cave of the Machpelah, Sarah’s burial place. This monumental stone enclosure was built over 2,000 years ago by King Herod. The is the same King Herod who built Judaism’s most famous religious site and synagogue, the massive Western Wall in Jerusalem. Alongside Jerusalem, Hebron is revered by Jews as one of the Land of Israel’s Four Sacred Cities. The Cave of the Machpelah became the family burial site for the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs, Sarah and Abraham’s family. According to tradition, in due course, Isaac and Rebecca and then Jacob and Leah were buried there too. Other, lesser, biblical figures later joined them. And so, Hebron was always a site of Jewish pilgrimage to the graves of the patriarchs and matriarchs. As a rabbi and as a teacher of rabbinical students I regularly encounter the figures of Abraham and the other patriarchs and matriarchs in text, in the stories of the Torah and Midrash (ancient Rabbinic commentary). They live in my imagination as paragons and teachers. Many Jews are still drawn to Cave of the Machpelah to pray at their shrine. These Jews experience a unique bond with the Divine in the presence of the patriarchs’ and matriarchs’ earthly remains. I confess, I am not drawn to shrines housing the earthly remains of religious or secular icons. Partly, like many other modern Jews, I recoil from the sanctification of land and human relics but also I am deterred by the divisiveness of this particular shrine. After all, the Jewish side of the Cave of Machpelah/Ibrahimi Mosque is an armed settler outpost; and the Muslim mosque reminds me of how much work there is to do before this can be a place of peace. The tension between occupier and occupied is palpable here. This is not the place where I can enter into my own prayerful ideas of Abraham. And frankly, I feel even more inconsequential in this place. The task is daunting. I am more prayerful about the Jewish matriarchs and patriarchs back home in the United States than at this shrine in Hebron. Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of the Machpelah (Photo: Wikimedia) But for many Jews today, as in centuries past, The Cave of the Machpelah/the Ibrahimi Mosque continues to be a sacred place with a powerful spiritual presence. Their expectation to have access to pray there is appropriate and should be honored by all. Indeed, Israel has long guaranteed that Jews will have access to prayer at the Cave of Machpelah/the Ibrahimi Mosque. This is the point where Noam Arnon and his cohort of settlers make their big lie. Noam Arnon promotes the Jewish outpost on the grounds that the settlers guarantee Jewish access to the shrine and are rebuilding the old Jewish community. This was the community that fled the city in 1929 in the wake of an Arab pogrom that claimed the lives of 57 Jews, some 15% of the small Jewish community. Neither of these arguments are remotely true. The Israeli authorities guarantee Jewish access to the shrine, and Arnon does not speak for the heirs of the 1929 Jewish community. For instance, Dr. Yona Rochlin, whose father Moshe Hasson owned property in pre-1929 Hebron slammed Arnon (Hebrew): “This is infuriating. I am beside myself with anger. My family holds the titles to several properties that the Hebron settlement wants to build on. [Prime Minister Naftali] Bennett and the settlers [claim to] speak in our name when they say they are righting a historic injustice and are reclaiming “their” real estate! What an arrogant, blatant lie! I am incensed at the settlers’ claim that the entire Jewish community in Hebron was wiped out and therefore they have taken over these properties.” Arnon also fails to acknowledge the many acts of human solidarity by Hebron’s Muslim Palestinians who gave sanctuary to their Jewish neighbors in the 1929 riots, even at mortal risk to their own families. Arnon, in fact, has a much bigger and more bellicose agenda than rebuilding old Jewish communities. The 20th century left behind any number of abandoned Jewish communities. Between the destruction of European Jewish civilization by Nazi Germany and their allies in the Holocaust and the subsequent Zionist-led dissolution of the millennia-old Arab Jewish world, it’s just a matter of putting a pin anywhere on the map. But Arnon only cares about Hebron and the West Bank. That the colonization of the West Bank began in Hebron over fifty years ago and Noam Arnon is based today in Hebron is no accident. The settlers started out in Hebron less than a year after the 1967/Six Day War when Israel occupied the West Bank precisely because of its significance as home to a major Jewish religious shrine. They leveraged the religious claim of access to a house of worship into a secular, colonialist claim to land rights. They replaced the Jewish prayer book with the gun and the talit prayer shawl with the battle gear of the Israeli soldier. The claim to the land continues to be expressed and enforced solely under the authority of the gun, the ubiquitous badge of the settlers and their uniformed protectors, a privilege denied the occupied people of Palestine. This is the host who welcomed US army officers to Hebron three weeks ago. As I wrote in my own report from Hebron lately, Arnon’s colony has shut down the heart of its Old City. Many Hebronites have fled the area under the constant menace of settler violence. Others live in terror of heavily-armed, racist Jewish thugs who routinely harass Palestinians in Hebron. It’s always an unfair fight: the settlers are armed, the Palestinians are not. And as a backup, the Israeli army can be counted on to side with their fellow Israelis, the settlers, not the occupied Palestinians. In 11th grade some 39 years ago, several of my more extreme classmates disappeared for a few days. When they came back they told us of their exploits. They had gone to Hebron. The Israeli army had forced out the Palestinian residents and guarded the perimeter. My classmates were part of a larger group that entered the vacant Palestinian homes and wrecked them. One classmate told us nonchalantly how he had tipped over a large TV crashing it to the ground. Hebron epitomizes the entire ongoing crisis that is Israel and Palestine. A savvy, well-funded, heavily-armed group of Israeli Jews has leveraged a traditional religious claim into a secular, colonialist presence dominating and disrupting life in the heart of the city. In this view, the Palestinian indigenous people can stay so long as they are neither seen nor heard. The temporary-turned-permanent shutdown of Hebrons Old City near the Ibrahimi Mosque is intentional. The ugly walls of the Israeli settlement backing into the market and disrupting its flow place a giant’s footprint inside the Arab market. The massive concrete walls and watchtowers separating Palestinians from Jews and the signs in Hebrew warning Israelis to stay away all make the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Hebronites invisible to Israelis and other Jews. Arnon may have a beard and yarmulke and proclaim to be an observant Jew, but his occupier’s game has nothing to do with Judaism. It’s colonialism with all the brute force of any occupying force. He and his cohort rule by the gun. Despite living in one of the most dangerous Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories and his vociferous support of violent felons, Arnon has received accolades and holds public positions within the Israeli establishment for his work in Hebron. In Israel, Noam Arnon, and by extension all he stands for, is respectable. A crowning moment in legitimizing the Hebron Israeli colony came when the U.S. army accepted that invitation. That Palestinians were not included in the visit confirms the reality: Noam Arnon and his settler cohort are not interested in peaceful coexistence but in military domination of the occupied Palestinians. In Judaism, Joshua’s military conquest of most of the Land of Israel, as recorded in the eponymous book of the Tanakh, carries less legitimacy than Abraham’s purchase of the burial plot in Hebron. The ancient story of Abraham’s purchase in the Torah’s Book of Genesis is cited continuously across millennia of Jewish tradition in various contexts: Arnon’s supersessionist colonialism deceptively upends that legitimacy by employing Joshua-like violence under the guise of peaceful, Abraham-like commerce. Any military occupation, colonization or forced annexation can only be maintained against the will of the people through the constant application of violence. Jewish violence on the West Bank is so ubiquitous that it has been reduced to white noise. However, inevitably the dull rumble of a volcano presages a spectacular eruption into something so violent that it commands the public’s attention. The first time I remember the violence surfacing was in high school. One day, in April 1984 the news broke that a Jewish terrorist network had been exposed on the West Bank. We were shocked. The “Jewish Underground” had been murdering and maiming Palestinians public figures and other citizens for the previous five years. The “Jewish Underground” targeted Palestinian mayors. Bombs were placed in their cars, killing or maiming these democratically elected Palestinians leaders. One had both legs amputated. The general population was terrorized too. A girls’ school was intended to the be the site of a shooting massacre. This grim story is recorded in dispassionate detail in the court cases of the Israeli Jewish perpetrators and conspirators. Some of the attackers were convicted and, predictably, given very short prison terms, if at all. And when they were released from jail, it was Noam Arnon, who was at the prison gates leading the singing and dancing, welcoming his comrades, the convicted murderers. He went on record saying: “They are heroes because they decided to sacrifice themselves, their future, their families, for the security of Jews. Then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dedicated many years of his career to building brand new Jewish-only towns straddling both sides of the Green Line. These new borderline settlements obliterated the old border between Israel and the West Bank under suburban Jewish-only streets and playgrounds. Jewish-only roads were extended from Israel into the West Bank. Jewish-only settlements bypassed the Palestinian electric grid and were hooked up to the Israeli national grid. Other major Israeli state-funded infrastructure went into creating today’s reality of a single Jewish state for Israelis living between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. Hebron was the first Jewish settlement in the One Jewish States first phase of illegally colonizing the occupied territories. Hebron continues to be at the forefront of this second phase, that of annexation, normalizing the inherently abnormal. One Jewish State from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. What to do with the non-Jews in the occupied territories? They are tucked out of sight behind 20-foot walls and Israeli military watchtowers. The Israeli gun holds them back and holds them down. All, so that Noam Arnon and his messianic, nationalistic, racist cohort can indulge in his violent all-Jewish fantasy starting at a religious shrine in the heart of the ancient Palestinian city of Hebron and emanating out across the occupied territories. This is the reality US armed officers blessed with their visit earlier this month. This was a moment we might have expected from President Trump, not from President Biden. h/t Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel. There are at least two sides to every storySo where are the Palestinian voices in mainstream media?Mondoweiss covers the full picture of the struggle for justice in Palestine. Read by tens of thousands of people each month, our truth-telling journalism is an essential counterweight to the propaganda that passes for news in mainstream and legacy media.Our news and analysis is available to everyone – which is why we need your support. Please contribute so that we can continue to raise the voices of those who advocate for the rights of Palestinians to live in dignity and peace.Palestinians today are struggling for their lives as mainstream media turns away. Please support journalism that amplifies the urgent voices calling for freedom and justice in Palestine.Donate today → Source

[Category: News, Ariel Sharon, Biden administration, Hebron, Noam Arnon]

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[l] at 1/28/22 8:37am
In the early stages of 1948, the village of Al-Tantura was targeted by Israeli militaries; its houses were looted, its Arab Palestinian inhabitants expelled, and others massacred by the Israeli defense forces Alexandroni Brigade. Israel denied the existence of the massacre for years despite the testimonies of its original inhabitants until recently; a 2021 Israeli documentary revealed testimony from several Israeli veterans affirming that a massacre involving more than 200 Palestinian victims had taken place at that time.  The original inhabitants of Tantura were forced to move to different places; most of them had relatives 50 km away in a town called Fureidis (which translates as Paradise), and they had no choice but to live with them. While revisiting the story of Tantura, Salah Abu Salah, who was 8 years old at the time, told me how his family and other families had to move to Fureidis seeking shelter. In recounting his story Abu Salah told me that after the Israeli defense forces took their homes, They put us all on a bus and took us to a nearby village and left us there. For his luck, Abu Salahs mother had family that lived in Fureidis and they welcomed them to stay with them; other families had nowhere to seek shelter, so they were forced to leave to other areas, and some even fled to Jordan. The mukhtar (the head of the village) of Fureidis was from the Bariyeh family and had no choice but to open the town to Tantura refugees and urge people to shelter them.  The men had to fight, and the women had to stay with the children at home. Despite his young age then, Abu Salah cannot erase from his memory how his older brother was hungry that evening and kept nagging his mother for food. There was no food in the shelter, women and children had to stay there to stay safe, while men went to protect their homes. Abu Salahs mom asked his brother to be patient, but he kept nagging. Finally she allowed him to return to their house and find something to eat. Abu Salah can still remember how his brother came back short of breath, mumbling words to his mom about bodies on the ground and dead people. He wasnt hungry anymore. The dead were not buried in the graveyard of the occupied village, some of them were buried in groups under the sands, and some were left outdoors on the beaches of Tantura.  Abu Yaqoob, a Palestinian Jew who used to be the mukhtar of Zumarien, another village near Tantura, gathered some men (one of them was Abu Salahs brother-in-law), two horses and a huge wagon and together they started to gather the bodies. 15 bodies at a time, Abu Salah tells me. They buried them wherever they could find an empty spot to ensure the dignity of the bodies. Some were buried together; some were lucky enough to be buried alone.  Conquering Tantura was very easy for the Israeli forces. According to Abu Salah, They were very vicious, and they were everywhere. My brother used to tell me when I got older over and over how they surrounded the village from three directions: the land and the sea at first, and all of a sudden more soldiers stepped down from the train that used to stop at a nearby station. They outnumbered the men of the village; they had guns and weapons, English ones the Brits left for them when the mandate ended. It was so easy it took them only one night to kill the majority of men and get the rest of us out, he said.  Salah smiled at my naive reaction to people’s silence regarding Al Tantura. We don’t need their acknowledgment, he said, the land will testify one day and tell what happened. He talked about how many were afraid to talk about the massacre before but not anymore; he has been talking to different reporters lately, and he provided me with the names of a few people who can testify what happened at Tantura. They are older than me, but they still have a good memory, he said. Salah was shocked when I told him that Israel still denies the Nakba until now. He looked at me. Alas, he said and hit his head with his hand.  There are at least two sides to every storySo where are the Palestinian voices in mainstream media?Mondoweiss covers the full picture of the struggle for justice in Palestine. Read by tens of thousands of people each month, our truth-telling journalism is an essential counterweight to the propaganda that passes for news in mainstream and legacy media.Our news and analysis is available to everyone – which is why we need your support. Please contribute so that we can continue to raise the voices of those who advocate for the rights of Palestinians to live in dignity and peace.Palestinians today are struggling for their lives as mainstream media turns away. Please support journalism that amplifies the urgent voices calling for freedom and justice in Palestine.Donate today → Source

[Category: Opinion, Nakba, Tantura massacre]

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[l] at 1/28/22 7:17am
Return? In November 2021, I returned to the Gaza Strip after five decades of forced absence, save for a quick visit.  In the three weeks I spent there I saw how the 200,000 refugees from 247 villages, depopulated and expelled by Israel in 1948, forged a life for themselves, multiplied ten times since, in this tiny strip, just 30 kilometers by 12 kilometers.  As I drove from the infamous Rafah crossing to Gaza City, I could not recognize the place. As I knew it, there were two villages and two towns separated by green fields.  Now, I saw a continuous stretch of structures on both sides of the road with billboards covering the whole landscape, describing its new life, shops, houses, and schools. These billboards of all types are welded together in a new form of cohesive urban life at a density of 7,000 persons/square kilometer. When I say I returned, it was an illusion. It was not the fulfillment of the Right of Return that I, like millions of Palestinians, strive for. It was not the Return we fought for over the last 70 years, by armed resistance, protests, writings, conferences. This was only a return to my first refugee camp. Early on the morning of my arrival I drove to the nearest point at the barbed wire and looked at my home, where I was born, visible at the horizon. I stood there, looking at my home, one kilometer away, separated from it by a nest of Israeli snipers. Here was my home from which I was forced to leave at gunpoint on May 14, 1948 on the same day when Ben-Gurion declared the state of Polish-Russian settlers on my land. I was ten with black hair. Now 70 years later, my hair has turned silver, and I am still unable to make a real Return. Not one day has passed since without fighting for our right to return.   I am not alone in this quest, of course. As I stood next to a Palestinian soldier at the Armistice Line, nearest to the Israeli guns, he showed me his stomach, riddled with 16 Israeli bullets. After so many operations, he survived and returned to his post facing the Israelis. Life and death entwined Gaza has never had a moment of peace. After the 1948 expulsion, refugee camps were attacked regularly. In the last decade, the Gaza Strip has been attacked by major air, sea and artillery operations half a dozen times.  Childrens lives are measured by how many Israeli wars they have endured. If they survived, children cannot sleep during wars or in-between. I woke up frequently at 3:00 am to the hum of Israeli drones flying overhead, day and night, watching every move, threatening to drop bombs any moment. The authors recording of the hum of Israeli drones flying overhead day and night As I walked in Gaza’s streets, I saw the rubble of destroyed buildings, next to still standing towers. The street looked like a toothless mouth. A destroyed housing tower next to one still standing. The rubble will be reused. (Photo courtesy of the author) I spoke to Dr. Yasser Abu Jamie, the Director General of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, who told me that over 50% of children in Gaza suffer from PTSD. Nearly 90% had experienced personal trauma. Cases of bed wetting and family violence are high, compared to a traditional conservative society. Under the rubble, the corpses of inhabitants have been removed but there is no place for them to be buried. I saw a sign at one cemetery which says, “Do not bury here. The cemetery is full.” But the dead are remembered as Martyrs. In many neighborhoods, I saw signs with names and pictures of those killed in the area. Life and death are entwined in Gaza. I had to get an official paper signed. It took some days because I was told the offices had to be evacuated. On that day, F-16s were flying sorties in preparation for a new air raid.    As I frequently say to human rights advocates in the West, spare me your historical examples and just go to Gaza. Resilience On the bright side, the resilience of the people is astounding. Whatever western politics may say of Hamas, when Israel attacks, everybody in Gaza forms a solid front. They seek shelter in schools, families huddle together, ambulances rush to the bloody scenes, others remove rubble to rescue their loved ones. A sign saying, Cemetery full. Do not bury here (Photo courtesy of the author) I have not seen evidence of panic or revolt. There was bitter talk about the hypocritical western world, blaming the victims as “terrorists” and a disbelief at the claim that “Israel was defending itself.”  This resilience takes many shapes. The Mediterranean coast is the only window on the outside world, but this is only by sight, not in reality. People make use of it by setting tables and chairs and offering tea and food along the shoreline. With great optimism, they put sign boards naming the place the Riviera or Palm Beach. Every tiny plot of land is cultivated. I was amazed to be told there is no shortage of vegetables in Gaza. There are places where plants are grown in sheds with two levels. Flowers are flown to Holland when Israelis let them. The rubble of destroyed buildings was converted to a breakwater for a new port at Khan Younis. Traffic in Gaza is a nightmare. Vehicles of all types cars, trucks, improvised tricycles, donkey-drawn carts are all fighting for a space on the road. It is surprising that traffic accidents are not so severe. Rubble repurposed as a breakwater in a new port in Khan Younis (Photo courtesy of the author) International aid Not all the world is oblivious to the suffering in Gaza. There are tens of signs on buildings proclaiming this or that is built from aid from another country. I visited some of these establishments. Their buildings are neat and generally well equipped. The Palestinian staff are well qualified. Every vacancy receives tens of applicants. I looked at their balance sheets. The obvious conclusion is that the buildings are sufficiently complete but the staff salaries are meager. There is a tendency in foreign aid to pay once for a facility but neglect to staff it sufficiently. Beneficial production of work and reduction of vast unemployment is served by providing sufficient salaries’ budget.    But the glaring omission in foreign aid is the lack of condemnation of Israeli crimes.  It is hypocritical to give first aid to the injured and tools to bury the dead without stopping the murderer from repeatedly committing his crime in the first place. While I admired the fine buildings and efficient staff, the silence about Israeli crimes makes this kind of charity a hollow gesture. Melting pot Life goes on in Gaza in many other ways. It became a melting pot for 247 villages in southern Palestine. I recall the time when we could distinguish different villages by the sight of the embroidered dresses of women.  I also recall recognizing where they come from by their accents as they speak. Most of this has gone, especially among the young. The common dress for women is a sort of black garb.  Underneath they may wear what they like. Their accent in public is a new form of common Ghazzawi talk. Frequently seen signs with martyrs names and photos (Photo courtesy of the author) The family ties are still very strong although some faded away at the edges. This is one reason how the blockade and siege have been overcome, largely by distributing the meager resources among kith and kin. Those who have a bit distribute it among the extended family. Socially too the cohesion of the family is largely maintained. Marriages among the same clan is still preferred, although the population density has made the social norms of various villages very similar. Old habits die hard. Although womens education is near 100 percent, the privacy of womens life is still protected, especially in traditional families. I saw a wedding invitation card specifying the name of the groom in full and the bride in initials only. When Palestinians leave the Gaza concentration camp, they blossom. There are many names in NASA and US high-tech companies of Gazans who made their mark after escaping from Gaza prison. Gaza is Palestine After all that being said, Gaza is the only Palestine left. Gaza never hoisted a flag except that of Palestine. Gaza is the first, and now the only, place of stubborn resistance to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Gaza is the place where the first Palestinian Legislative Council was elected in 1962.  From Gaza traveled the first ever Palestinian delegation to the UN to speak in the name of Palestine.   Gaza is Palestine. “Stay, resist and fight for all Palestine.” That was my message to them in my speeches.  Salman Abu SittaSalman Abu Sitta is the founder and president of the Palestine Land Society, London, dedicated to the documentation of Palestine’s land and People. He is the author of six books on Palestine including the compendium “Atlas of Palestine 1917- 1966,” English and Arabic editions, the Atlas of the Return Journey and over 300 papers and articles on the Palestinian refugees, the Right of Return, and the history of al Nakba and human rights. He is credited with extensive documentation and mapping of Palestines land and people over 40 years. His widely acclaimed memoir Mapping my Return describes his life in Palestine and his long struggle as a refugee to return home. There are at least two sides to every storySo where are the Palestinian voices in mainstream media?Mondoweiss covers the full picture of the struggle for justice in Palestine. Read by tens of thousands of people each month, our truth-telling journalism is an essential counterweight to the propaganda that passes for news in mainstream and legacy media.Our news and analysis is available to everyone – which is why we need your support. Please contribute so that we can continue to raise the voices of those who advocate for the rights of Palestinians to live in dignity and peace.Palestinians today are struggling for their lives as mainstream media turns away. Please support journalism that amplifies the urgent voices calling for freedom and justice in Palestine.Donate today → Source

[Category: Opinion, Gaza, Nakba, Palestinian refugees, right of return, Salman Abu Sitta] [Link to media]

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[l] at 1/27/22 1:09pm
ADL Opposes Censorship, Unless It Concerns Palestine Last week a Florida school district canceled a professors civil rights history lecture over concerns about critical race theory, even though the lecture had no connection to the topic. This was obviously always the ultimate intent of CRT scaremongering. The CRT hysteria has been criticized by the Anti-Defamation League, a group that many still view as a civil rights organization despite its history of supporting surveillance, colonialism, and apartheid. Some people support these laws because they don’t want their children to learn about racism in school, such as through reading a book about Ruby Bridges or the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, or discussing current issues like the racial disparities in the criminal justice system or housing discrimination, reads an explainer on the subject from the ADLs website. This opposition is concerning because it is important for young people to learn accurate history so that they can think critically about history and current events. This includes understanding how systemic racism and other inequities play a role in past and present-day issues – and learning that throughout history, people have worked together to overcome injustice, another key aspect of U.S. history. The opposition to censorship and desire for young people to learn accurate history only extends so far. Predictably, the ADL draws the line at Israel. Look at Castro Valley, California, where the school board just unanimously approved a contract with a group of ethnic studies teachers. Weve covered this battle at the site before and it was clear that the saga would reemerge. Now here we are. This new contract lays out a plan for teacher training and curriculum development from a group called the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Coalition. “Ethnic studies is the study of the experiences, the contributions and the perspectives of racial and ethnic groups across the country, says the Castro Valley superintendent. The team is comprised of ethnic studies professors, curriculum experts and, most importantly, teachers of ethnic studies — people who are experienced in actually implementing an ethnic studies program. However, pro-Israel groups like the ADL disagree. The groups website contains a toolkit with tips on how to teach Palestine. Big no-nos can be found throughout this document. Comparisons between Israeli apartheid and South Africa, references to the fact Zionism is a colonial ideology, an acknowledgement that groups like the ADL fight to quash anything that embraces Palestinian humanity, etc. The ADL put out a statement expressing its deep disappointment with the contract, suggesting that the criticisms of Israel might violate district policy and Californias Education Code. A representative from the organization even showed up at a school board meeting to publicly oppose the move. Last fall I reported on a group of California students who had a Zoom meeting on Palestine shut down after the local ADL complained to the schools principal. The ADL’s regional director for Long Beach and Orange County sent the school a message claiming that the students had shared a graphic containing antisemitic tropes. I think that’s an Instagram post that was circulating but none of us ever liked it, shared it, or put it on our Instagram,” one of the students told me. We’ve never referenced it at all. It’s literally a blatant lie that we ever did anything with it. I had to look it up to even know what it was. The truthfulness of these efforts probably arent a central concern. If youre able to stifle an honest discussion about apartheid, or an innocuous civil rights lecture, we can safely assume that the end justifies the means. Israel Wants to Derail UN Probe Axios Barak Ravid reports that Israel is trying to discredit a United Nations investigation into its attack on Gaza. Last May the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) narrowly voted to establish the Commission of Inquiry (COI) after Israel bombarded Gaza for 11 days, killing 253 Palestinians. Such strikes raise serious concerns of Israel’s compliance with the principles of distinction and proportionality under international humanitarian law,” said human rights chief Michelle Bachelet after the onslaught. If found to be indiscriminate and disproportionate in their impact on civilians and civilian objects, such attacks may constitute war crimes. According to a classified Foreign Ministry cable, the Israeli government is making the probe their number one UN priority. Theyre also concerned that the forthcoming report (due out in June) might acknowledge the fact that Israel is an apartheid state. As Ravid points out, Israel has had some success discrediting UN investigations. Theres some things worth recapping here: -The Biden administration has publicly opposed the commission and helped to cut some of its funding. We have concerns with the council,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price last October. “We will vigorously oppose the council’s disproportionate attention on Israel, which includes the council’s only standing agenda item targeting a single country. -After Israel pummeled Gaza, Biden responded by selling the country another $735 million in weapons. Youd think a hawkish track record like this would appease our rabidly pro-Israel congress, but alas. Over 40 lawmakers from both sides of the aisle recently sent Secretary of State Blinken a letter, calling on Biden to lead an effort to eliminate the commission and claiming that the UNHRC is motivated by anti-Israel bias: COI’s mandate is designed to accelerate the political, economic, and legal challenges to Israel and undermine its legitimacy by pressuring international legal institutions to take action against Israeli leaders, declares the letter. Imagine that. Odds & Ends Nina Turner is officially running for congress in 2022, setting up a probable rematch against Rep. Shontel Brown in Ohios 11th district. Pro-Israel groups like DMFI were instrumental in defeating Turner the first time around and theyre already fundraising off the announcement. Heres a new email from the group: In 2016, Nina Turner refused to endorse Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump. In 2020, she compared voting for Joe Biden to eating half a bowl of sh*t. In the 2021 OH-11 special election primary, DMFI PAC stepped up and used mailers, TV, radio, digital, and newspaper ads to educate voters about Brown’s successes and Turners record of trashing other Democrats. But after her stunning upset loss to Shontel Brown, Turner refused to take responsibility for her disparaging remarks, instead telling her supporters, We didnt lose this race the evil money manipulated and maligned this election. Turner was talking about donations from pro-Israel Democrats and DMFI PAC supporters supporters like you which helped erase her 35-point lead over Rep. Shontel Brown and put a pro-Israel champion in Congress. We need your help to do it again.  Burkina Fasos democratically elected president was recently ousted in a military coup. The countrys new leader is Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, a U.S. trained soldier. Heres Nick Turse writing about the situation at The Intercept: In 2010 and 2020, he participated in an annual special operations training program known as the Flintlock exercise. In 2013, Damiba was accepted into an Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance course, which is a State Department-funded peacekeeping training program.  In 2013 and 2014, Damiba attended the U.S.-sponsored Military Intelligence Basic Officer Course-Africa. And in 2018 and 2019, he participated in engagements with a U.S. Defense Department Civil Military Support Element in Burkina Faso. Damiba is just the latest in a carousel of coup leaders in West Africa trained by the U.S. military as the U.S. has pumped in more than $1 billion in security assistance to promote “stability” in the region. Since 2008, U.S.-trained officers have attempted at least nine coups (and succeeded in at least eight) across five West African countries, including Burkina Faso (three times), Guinea, Mali (three times), Mauritania, and the Gambia. I interviewed Michigan congressional candidate Huwaida Arraf on our podcast. We talked about growing up in Michigan, her relationship with Palestine, how she first became an international peace activist, and why she decided to jump into politics: I am going to be attacked. From the moment I announced my campaign, I was attacked by people who specifically don’t like the work that I’ve done on Palestinian human rights. Actually just a few days ago, there was another attack article in Breitbart News. So those attacks are going to come. What’s important to me and my campaign is that we ensure we have the resources and support. So that our message, our vision, what we’re fighting for, the kind of policies and principles that we want to bring to Washington that centers people, civil and human rights domestically and also internationally. Our vision for human rights is louder than the hate they’re going to put out. We’ve been able to do that, but I know we have a lot more work to do. We know more attacks are coming and we’re fired up. The Jewish Institute for National Security of America put out a report praising the Abraham Accords. The group did not disclose that many of its members have connections to the Gulf arms sales that the deal ushered in. Eli Clifton reports on it at Responsible Statecraft. Representatives Pramila Jayapal and Barbara Lee put out a statement on regarding United States involvement in Ukraine: We continue to watch Russia’s threatening behavior towards Ukraine with alarm. There is no military solution out of this crisis — diplomacy needs to be the focus. We support the Biden Administration’s efforts to extend and deepen the dialogue, allowing for robust negotiations and compromise. We have significant concerns that new troop deployments, sweeping and indiscriminate sanctions, and a flood of hundreds of millions of dollars in lethal weapons will only raise tensions and increase the chance of miscalculation. Russia’s strategy is to inflame tensions; the United States and NATO must not play into this strategy. In past crises, where events are moving quickly and intelligence is unclear, vigorous, delicate diplomacy is essential to de-escalation. We call upon our colleagues to allow the administration to find a diplomatic way out of this crisis. Oxfam press release: Oxfam today called on the UN Security Council to condemn the recent attacks in Yemen and inject new urgency into peace talks to end the seven-year conflict. The call follows airstrikes that have killed and injured hundreds of civilians in the last week and led to the suspension of humanitarian aid in parts of the country.   At the same time, people are struggling with spiraling prices for food, fuel, and basic essentials in what was already one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises.   Matthew Cole writes about new revelations regarding UAE adviser George Nader at The Intercept: GEORGE NADER, an American adviser to the government of the United Arab Emirates, convicted sex offender, and frequent visitor to the White House during President Donald Trump’s first year in office, has pleaded guilty for his role in helping the UAE pump millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions into the U.S. political system during the 2016 presidential election, according to documents submitted in federal court last month. Federal prosecutors disclosed in a December sentencing memo that Nader had agreed months earlier to plead guilty to a single count of felony conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government by funneling millions in donations to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and concealing the funds’ foreign origin. Nader’s plea has not been previously reported. The Biden administration authorized a $2.5 billion weapons sale with Egypt. Stay safe out there, Michael There are at least two sides to every storySo where are the Palestinian voices in mainstream media?Mondoweiss covers the full picture of the struggle for justice in Palestine. Read by tens of thousands of people each month, our truth-telling journalism is an essential counterweight to the propaganda that passes for news in mainstream and legacy media.Our news and analysis is available to everyone – which is why we need your support. Please contribute so that we can continue to raise the voices of those who advocate for the rights of Palestinians to live in dignity and peace.Palestinians today are struggling for their lives as mainstream media turns away. Please support journalism that amplifies the urgent voices calling for freedom and justice in Palestine.Donate today → Source

[Category: Newsletters, Anti-Defamation League, The Shift]

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[l] at 1/27/22 11:21am
Scenes of joy erupted outside the Ministry of Civil Affairs building in central Gaza, as crowds of Palestinians gathered in jubilant celebration.  Families hug and kiss one another, crying tears of joy, others pass out sweets, while a band of drummers and oboists play their tunes across the street, and passersby stop to take in the scene, with smiles on their faces.  A young Palestinian man is raised onto his friends’ shoulders, waving his shiny new green ID card in the air.“I was born today. The feeling I have is like a bird who breaks his siege and flies into the wide open sky,” Mothana Al-Najar, 34, shouted from atop his friend’s shoulders. On January 6, Al-Najar was one of 3,400 Palestinians in Gaza to received their national Palestinian ID card for the first time following a rare approval from the Israeli government, which controls the Palestinian population registry in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).  The move came after a series of meetings between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz since October, during which the Israeli side agreed to legalize the status of 13,500 Palestinians and foreign spouses living in Gaza and the West Bank.  It came after a 10 year freeze, during which Israel refused virtually all residency applications across the occupied territory, leaving tens of thousands of Palestinians and their families without any legal status.  “I’ve waited 26 years for this, I never thought it would happen,” al-Najar said, still struggling to believe his dreams had finally come true. “I was getting hopeless, but when I read my name on the last list I was shocked, and speechless. I can’t explain how I feel,” he said. “I feel like my life has just begun.” A discriminatory policy Al-Najar is the son of Palestinian refugees from Yaffa, though his parents were born outside of Palestine. He was born in Iraq, along with his three siblings. They moved to Gaza when he was a young boy, over a decade before Israel’s siege on Gaza began, when entry into the territory was a little easier. The family entered Gaza in 1993 after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority on temporary visas, approved by the Israeli government. When they applied for permanent status, their applications were repeatedly rejected.  The al-Najar’s are one of tens of thousands of Palestinian families suffering under Israel’s permit and ID regime, living for decades in the occupied territory without any legal status. During the 1967 war, thousands of Palestinians fled from their homes to surrounding Arab countries. Three months after the war, during which Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, Israel conducted a census, registering only those who were physically present in the occupied territory.  The move rendered hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who had fled during the war paperless and without legal status, preventing them from coming back to their homes.  Over the following decades, some Palestinians were allowed back by Israel on visitor permits, many of whom overstayed their visas. Many, like al-Najar’s parents, hoped that the prospect of a final peace agreement after the Oslo Accords would mean their residency status would be legalized.  “Many of these people had no place in the world to go but Gaza. And so they stayed,” Samir Zaqout, deputy head of Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza told Mondoweiss. Israel’s restrictions on Palestinian residency rights were further tightened during the Second Intifada, when Israel enacted the The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law of 2003, which prohibits family reunification for Israeli citizens married to Palestinians in the oPt.  A 2007 amendment to the law allowed for the ban on family unification where one spouse is a Palestinian from the oPt and the other is a foreigner, with more stringent restrictions on cases where one spouse is a resident of an “enemy state”, like Lebanon, Syria, Iran or Iraq.  Though passed as a temporary order, the 2003 law and its subsequent amendments have been consistently renewed by the Israeli government, and broadly applied to Palestinians and their families living in the oPt.  “This law has had a large humanitarian cost for Palestinians,” Zaqout said, naming freedom of movement, and the freedom to marry who you chose as some of the basic freedoms affected by the law. “We have no idea just how many families have been torn apart, or how many marriages have been destroyed because Palestinians are denied their basic right of holding IDs,” he said.  I struggled for 26 years Receiving his ID has been surreal for al-Najar, who was the last member of his family waiting to receive the treasured piece of paper.  His siblings and mother received their ID cards during a batch of approvals between 2007 and 2009. His father, however, died in 2009 before ever having received his ID card.  “I will never forget what happened to my father,” al-Najar recalled. “He had cancer, and needed to go to Egypt urgently for treatment that wasn’t available in Gaza.” “We did everything we could, but he couldn’t leave because he didn’t have an ID. He was gone just one and a half years after his diagnosis,” al-Najar said.  After his father died, al-Najar’s mother got sick, and required open heart surgery, which needed to be performed in an Egyptian hospital. By that time, she had already gotten her ID, but al-Najar, the oldest of his siblings, was unable to accompany her on her journey, as he did not have an ID.   “For 26 years, I struggled to get my most basic right, my national ID card,” he said. “That’s why I celebrated in front of all the cameras today. I want people to know what it means to get this card, and deliver a message on behalf of all the people who are still waiting to get their IDs.” According to the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee in Gaza, there are still at least 6,000 resident requests filed by Palestinians in Gaza that have not been answered or approved by Israel. Some of the applications were submitted as far back as the 1990s.  The ministry told Mondoweiss that there are likely many more status-less Palestinians in Gaza who have never filed applications through the Palestinian government.   Ban on family unification must end Palestinian human rights groups have long criticized Israel for its ban on family reunification, with some calling the policy the “most racist legislation in the State of Israel” aimed at “undermining the rights” of Palestinians.  The policy stands in stark contrast to other Israeli laws, which allow for open Jewish immigration to Israel, where Jews from around the world can immigrate to Israel and receive citizenship, and the spouses of Israeli Jewish persons are automatically eligible for citizenship after marriage. Israel fights against the humanity of Palestinians,” Zaqout said. “Since the state was established, Israel has enacted laws that discriminate against Palestinians because of their ethnicity.” Zaqout pointed out that while the recent approval of IDs is certainly a positive step for thousands of Palestinians and their families, it is nowhere near sufficient.  “By allowing Palestinians to be registered in the population registry, Israel is committing a very minimal obligation under international law,  as a gesture or sign of goodwill,” he said.  “In reality, Israel’s stringent policies towards Palestinians under occupation deny people their rights in the first place thousands remain status-less and millions subject to the permit regime,” Zaqout continued, saying at the end of the day the ban on family reunification needs to end as a policy.  “Israel feels immune when they violate the rights of Palestinians,” he said, adding that the US government is the biggest enabler of Israel’s racist treatment of Palestinians.   “I believe that public opinion in the U.S. can change the future,” Zaqout said.  “We are asking for basic human rights, and we need the people of the U.S. to put pressure on their leaders to support Palestinian human rights, instead of supporting the side that continues to violates those rights.”    There are at least two sides to every storySo where are the Palestinian voices in mainstream media?Mondoweiss covers the full picture of the struggle for justice in Palestine. Read by tens of thousands of people each month, our truth-telling journalism is an essential counterweight to the propaganda that passes for news in mainstream and legacy media.Our news and analysis is available to everyone – which is why we need your support. Please contribute so that we can continue to raise the voices of those who advocate for the rights of Palestinians to live in dignity and peace.Palestinians today are struggling for their lives as mainstream media turns away. Please support journalism that amplifies the urgent voices calling for freedom and justice in Palestine.Donate today → Source

[Category: News, Benny Gantz, family reunification, Gaza, gaza strip, ID card, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority]

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[l] at 1/27/22 10:39am
According to a classified cable, Israels government is launching a campaign to discredit a United Nations commission investigating the countrys 2021 attack on Gaza. The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) voted to establish the Commission of Inquiry (COI) last May. Axios Barak Ravid reports that Israels Foreign Ministry sent a cable, to all the countrys diplomatic missions, referring to the investigation as a top priority and announcing that its launching a diplomatic effort to derail the probe. They also expressed concern that the COIs report (which is expected to be released in June) will refer to Israel as an apartheid state. As Ravid points out, Israel has refused to cooperate with the investigation and the Biden administration has publicly voiced its opposition to it. The United States also voted to defund the commission at the UN. We have concerns with the council, said State Department spokesperson Ned Price last October. We will vigorously oppose the councils disproportionate attention on Israel, which includes the councils only standing agenda item targeting a single country. This week over 40 congress members sent a letter to Secretary of State Tony Blinken, asking the administration to lead an effort to eliminate the commission. It was led by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Vicky Hartzler (R-MO). COI’s mandate is designed to accelerate the political, economic, and legal challenges to Israel and undermine its legitimacy by pressuring international legal institutions to take action against Israeli leaders, reads the letter, which was obtained by Jewish Insider. This COI is outrageous and ought to be cancelled. With the UN budget in crisis, stretched by the COVID pandemic which affects all humanity, it is irresponsible to spend precious resources on yet another unjustified UN investigation of Israel. On social media, many pointed that out this behavior was nothing new from Israel. NOT A SCOOP: Israel will continue to bully, smear & harass any international effort that exposes the truth, tweeted Inès Abdel Razek. NOT A SCOOP: Israel will continue to bully, smear & harass any international effort that exposes the truth https://t.co/XPV01IeoOF— Inès Abdel Razek (@InesAbdelrazek) January 26, 2022 In 2021 the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch (HRW) both put out reports accusing Israel of apartheid. In the recommendations portion of its report, HRW called for the international community to alter its approach to the country. While much of the world treats Israel’s half-century occupation as a temporary situation that a decades-long ‘peace process’ will soon cure, the oppression of Palestinians there has reached a threshold and a permanence that meets the definitions of the crimes of apartheid and persecution, said HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth in a statement. Israel attacked Gaza for 11 straight days last year, killing 253 Palestinians. 66 of them were children. Such strikes raise serious concerns of Israel’s compliance with the principles of distinction and proportionality under international humanitarian law, United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet told the UNHRC at the time. If found to be indiscriminate and disproportionate in their impact on civilians and civilian objects, such attacks may constitute war crimes. There are at least two sides to every storySo where are the Palestinian voices in mainstream media?Mondoweiss covers the full picture of the struggle for justice in Palestine. Read by tens of thousands of people each month, our truth-telling journalism is an essential counterweight to the propaganda that passes for news in mainstream and legacy media.Our news and analysis is available to everyone – which is why we need your support. Please contribute so that we can continue to raise the voices of those who advocate for the rights of Palestinians to live in dignity and peace.Palestinians today are struggling for their lives as mainstream media turns away. Please support journalism that amplifies the urgent voices calling for freedom and justice in Palestine.Donate today → Source

[Category: News, 2021 Gaza attack, Biden administration, Israeli Government, UN Human Rights Council]

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[l] at 1/27/22 9:05am
Editor’s Note: The article is part of our series Hasbara Culture from Yakov Hirsch. You can read the entire series here. In my series on hasbara culture, I have documented how the wrong people are speaking for the Jews on antisemitism. Last week those people were once again being empowered at the expense of Jewish sanity. On Jan 15th, Malik Faisal Akram, an armed British Muslim, took a number of Jews hostage in a Colleyville, Texas, synagogue. He espoused conspiratorial fantasies about Jews in the hopes of freeing a federal inmate. Ultimately the hostages escaped and Akram was killed. What happened next is of great cultural and political significance. Because the “larger meaning” of the event still has to be determined. And who gets to determine the meaning of Texas? That’s where hasbara culture comes in. Hasbara culture claims expertise on the Texas event. “Antisemitism” is their field of study. Bari Weiss, Yair Rosenberg and Bret Stephens are what the Washingtonian magazine once called Jeffrey Goldberg: “Never again” journalists. They speak for the lessons of Jewish history. And Never again journalists have the most cultural sway in determining the “meaning” of events like Colleyville. “What does Texas say about the world and the Jews living in it?” they ask. How does antisemitism in history explain issues related to Jews today? Or as Bret Stephens’s headline in the New York Times asks, “What an Antisemite’s Fantasy Says About Jewish Reality.” The problem is that Never again journalists have a unique view of antisemitism, one that is not that of actual scholars. Scholars would like to see writings and interviews of Malik Faisal Akram. They would try to determine where he got his ideas from. How prevalent are those ideas? They would hope to determine whether Akram is mentally ill. Besides hating Jews and thinking they control the world, does he believe in other conspiracy theories? How many of Akram’s friends believe the same things he does? That’s how the truth and meaning of Akram’s act should be determined. Unfortunately, it’s not experts who inform people about these questions. Because it is taboo to try to understand the antisemites. That’s what Hannah Arendt was guilty of, trying to figure out what was going on in Adolf Eichmann’s head. These days Never again journalists have become the authorities on the antisemites. The decoders of the (accused) antisemite. Just as it was taboo to think of Eichmann’s perspective, so it has now become taboo to delve into an anti-Zionists perspective. That’s why the question is not asked what Rep. Ilhan Omar “was thinking” when she committed her alleged trope and canard violations. When she made her famous comment, “It’s all about the Benjamins, was she thinking of “the Jews” or actually about the Israel lobby group AIPAC. Was she really thinking of “the Jews” when she tweeted that Israel had “hypnotized” the world years ago, or was she thinking of Israel? That question is not asked, because it is Never again journalists who are the authority on antisemitism and the antisemites. “Ilhan Omar Knows Exactly What She Is Doing” was Bret Stephen’s verdict. And similarly, here is Yair Rosenberg being a Never again journalist on the Omar controversy, demonstrating that she has antisemitic intentions. Rosenberg on Ilhan Omar.   And that’s why Hasbara culture has no need to interview Malik Faisal Akram. The special nature of antisemitism explains Akram. Akram is an idea, not a person for hasbara culture. As Jeffrey Goldberg, one of hasbara culture’s most important practitioners, put it: “Anti Semitism is a sui generis hatred, one that is shape-shifting, impervious to logic and eternal.” Never again journalists proselytize their ideas about antisemitism to the world. But those ideas originate in ideology not scholarship. In a review of Dara Horn’s People Love Dead Jews, Shaul Magid, an actual scholar of Judaism, was stunned by Never again journalists’ sense of everlasting victimhood: “In fact, in reading Horn’s book one might think the only thing that all peoples share, from Russia to America, from Manchuria to Jersey City, is that they love dead Jews. Dead Jews is the subject of the book; not, mind you, antisemitism, but literally: dead Jews. That seems to be for Horn the common denominator of human civilization.” Magid said that this new “anti-Semitism literature” genre is now driving Jewish identity: “The basic Judaism genre seems today to be replaced with books like Horn’s People Love Dead Jews. Books about antisemitism lurking here, there, and everywhere. Almost every month another title that quickly climbs the charts. Middlebrow books recounting the Greatest Hits of Jew hatred…. Horn’s book is sadly a well-written addition to the growing body of literature that seems to be driving Jewish identity.” These middlebrow Jewish journalists are the people in American and Jewish life with the most influence over the issue, How safe or unsafe are Jews in America? Can there be any less objective people? I have demonstrated that Jeffrey Goldberg has cultivated a moral panic because of his misunderstanding of the world. On her influential substack Bari Weiss seized on Colleyville to warn of another Holocaust unfolding. “The attack in Texas, the reaction to it…augurs a darkening reality for the six million Jews living in what the Founders insisted was a new Jerusalem.” It’s no accident that Weiss deploys the six million figure. According to hasbara culture It is always the 1930’s. Bret Stephens took a similar lesson. In the New York Times he warned that the Jews’ “luck in America may run out.” “Anyone with a long view of Jewish history should know how quickly economic and social privilege can turn to political and personal ruin, even — or especially — in countries where it might seem unthinkable.“But the wise counsel for Jews is to be grateful for last week’s good luck, while taking it as a warning that our luck in America may run out”. And even before the events in Texas, Yair Rosenberg was raising the possible genocide of Jews in the Washington Post. After the attack, NPR turned to Yair Rosenberg last weekend to explain Colleyville. This victimhood perspective is more than an ideology; as Magid says, it is now a chief source of Jewish identity. The idea that everyone hates the Jews is  highly appealing to many Jews. Magid: “What is perhaps most striking about Horn’s book isn’t the book itself …but how badly Jews want to read it. That is, how Jews seem to love to read about how people love dead Jews. It sounds kind of ghoulish, but it’s true. The comments on the reviews on Amazon are off the charts, almost in a macabre way; it made me feel strangely uncomfortable reading them. It is as if they’re all saying, in myriad ways, ‘you see, we were right, everyone hates the Jews.’” There’s a reason these ideas are so popular. In the Manichean universe of hasbara culture, antisemitism confirms the idea that Jews are special. Recall what Bari Weiss told Jake Tapper at the 92d Street Y two years ago:  “Our specialness is frankly why we drive people crazy still.”  In Victimhood Discourse in Contemporary Israel, the scholar Ilan Peleg connect Jewish victimhood to Zionist ideology and the idea of Jewish chosenness: “Victimhood is often related to “chosenness” (Bechira in Hebrew). In studying the Israeli right, I have noticed that its strong sense of victimhood is complimented by an equally strong sense of “chosenness.” And that’s why Akram is such a celebrity for hasbara culture. Because hasbara culture claims expertise on his craziness. And his craziness is what all antisemites are inflicted with: Because Israel and the Jewish people are outside history. And nothing Israel does causes resentment and hatred. It’s always “incitement” and irrational antisemitism that cause Palestinians and their allies to hate. Peter Beinart reflects the non-hasbara culture reality in this tweet about a Palestinian mother who was attacked by Israeli soldiers for trying to hug her 20-year-old son as he was taken off to prison. If you watch videos like thisand you can see them every dayyou get a sense of why US opinion on Israel-Palestine is shifting. Alternatively, you can pretend they dont exist and chalk up the shift to woke antisemitism, Beinart wrote. And that’s why I have argued that Peter Beinart is such an important, ideological threat to hasbara culture. He is the most influential Jewish figure without hasbara culture’s sacred victimhood perspective. Last week, the opinion editor of the Forward raised Dara Horn’s view that everyone loves dead Jews in the context of Colleyville, and Beinart bridled: Did a President call for banning Jews from entering the US or say were all rapists? Is the GOP passing laws aimed at preventing Jews from voting? Antisemitism scares me too but the idea that people in power cater to every minority group but Jews is absurd. Beinart represents the silent majority. Here another Jewish writer rejects the claims post-Colleyville that “the condition of being a ‘real Jew’ in America is being terrified all the time. Im not, and I genuinely dont think I have a reason to be.” certainly not the intention, but this kind of thing just makes me feel like the condition of being a "real Jew" in America is being terrified all the time. Im not, and I genuinely dont think I have a reason to be. https://t.co/zYZp4Xa01u— Sam Adler-Bell (@SamAdlerBell) January 21, 2022 But as Magid tells us the hasbara culture fearmongering has swept many up in its wave. As frightening and as terrible as the past year’s antisemitic incidents are, any objective person understands that the view that Jews are a powerless minority with complete vulnerability is absurd. While for Rosenberg and Stephens, this is a core belief, Jews are in great danger.   Rosenberg and Stephens tell us that the conspiracy theory that Jews have too much power is what has plagued the Jews forever. It is this conspiracy theory about Jewish influence that makes antisemitism different than other hatreds, says Rosenberg: “Unlike many other bigotries, anti-Semitism is not merely a social prejudice; it is a conspiracy theory about how the world operates.” It sounds like Rosenberg is saying is that what makes antisemitism sui generis is the idea that Jews control the world. He writes that that idea is “one of the most durable and deadly conspiracy theories in human history,” and leads to genocide. According to hasbara culture, this fantastical idea of conspiratorial Jewish power is highly seductive and that’s we must be so vigilant against it.  Antisemitism is a virus, according to hasbara culture. Rosenberg doesn’t tell us where he gets these ideas of Jews outside history, but nobody asks. Never again journalists have become the new Jewish clergy. As my hasbara culture investigations have shown, the history of Jew hatred is a subject that should be left to the experts, but that’s not the world we live. Yair Rosenberg is now the interpreter of antisemitism for American political culture. He was handpicked for the Atlantic by Jeffrey Goldberg for his expertise in imparting the hasbara culture worldview, and on NPR he tells us that Colleyville is all about a conspiracy theory that Jews control politics. Watch out, warns Rosenberg: “The fevered fantasy of Jewish domination is incredibly malleable, which makes it incredibly attractive.”  Rosenberg’s mocks the idea of Jewish power in his article: “We do not spend our days huddled in smoke-filled rooms plotting world domination while Jared Kushner plays dreidel in the back with Noam Chomsky and George Soros sneaks the last latke.” The real-world effect of his joke is that it cultivates the idea that recognizing the reality of the Israel Lobby is as crazy, evil, and conspiratorial as Malik Faisal Akram. That stating that Sheldon Adelson or Jared Kushner played outsize roles in forming U.S. policy in the Middle East in the last five years a Republican policy inherited and extended by Biden is a hateful fantasy. Here is Bret Stephens on the relationship of Jewish power to antisemitism—and to anti-Zionism too. Stephens: The common denominator in each of these mutations is an idea, based in fantasy and conspiracy, about Jewish power. The old-fashioned religious antisemite believed Jews had the power to kill Christ. The 19th-century antisemites who were the forerunners to the Nazis believed Jews had the power to start wars, manipulate kings, and swindle native people of their patrimony…. Present-day anti-Zionists attribute to Israel and its supporters in the United States vast powers that they do not possess. Notice that last sentence. Believing in the power of the “Israel lobby,” believing in the extraordinary influence of Aipac and other such organizations devoted to keeping Israel a bipartisan cause adored by all White Houses and State Departments is believing in an ago old and dangerous conspiracy theory. Whether you know it or not:   “The fantasy about Jewish power may seem outlandish, but it’s far more pervasive than many think — which gets to the point of people participating in antisemitism even when they aren’t knowingly perpetrating it.” It’s not only Jew haters like Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib and Jewish Voice for Peace that cultivate the conspiracy theory about Jewish influence, it’s innocents as well, according to hasbara culture. Stephens: “Or take another example: if you think the reason Israel gets so much support in Congress is the money and influence of the pro-Israel lobby, you might be surprised to learn that that lobby ranks 20th on the most recent list of congressional donors, giving away a paltry $4.5 million compared with the $95 million that retiree interest groups donated. “All about the Benjamins” it is not, no matter what Representative Ilhan Omar might suppose.” Bret Stephens demands we deny the reality of the power of the Israel lobby on the altar of hasbara culture’s misunderstanding of how the world works. And in that way, it is Stephens who cultivates antisemitism not Omar and Tlaib. By using Jewish power to ritually defame enemies and critics of Israel, by using Jewish power to demand that everyone agree that Jewish power doesn’t exists, Stephens just feeds antisemites and antisemitism. But Never Again journalists are not done yet. Because if the idea of Jewish power is so virulent and contagious, what is to be done about it? How to fight antisemitism? Never Again journalists have the answer. And it is this answer that has turned the world on its head. According to hasbara culture, any hint of Jewish power should be battered and suppressed lest it spread the virus that empowers antisemites. That’s what Jeffrey Goldberg has spent the last 25 years doing. Think about what Hasbara culture is asking of us. In the real-world Benjamin Netanyahu, when he thought he was off camera, confided that “America is a thing you can move very easily.” But thanks to hasbara culture Netanyahu can’t be confronted with that statement. Because it will “empower the antisemites.” Believing that Netanyahu was successfully meddling in American politics will empower the dangerous idea that Jews control America. So what are the eight hundred thousand people who saw that video supposed to think? Now imagine a world where journalists would be allowed to hound Benjamin Netanyahu to explain how “America can be easily moved.” Would that be a healthier or unhealthier world for Jews and everyone else? In the real world there would be no outbreak of antisemitism if Netanyahu was forced to answer that question. But it certainly would make Israel less popular. Hasbara culture claims that people can’t be trusted with Netanyahu’s machinations. They can’t be trusted with the truth about the Israel lobby. They can’t be trusted with Israel’s unconscionable behavior. In the real world when people look at Israel, they see Israel. But hasbara culture insists they really see Jews. Do you know what happens when the real world is suppressed? It cultivates antisemitism. It turns good people bad. The same thing happened with the suppression of the Israel Lobby documentary that Al Jazeera produced and then put in a black box under political pressure. What would any objective person make of the suppression of the investigation of the Israel lobby here and in England? Wouldn’t they actually be more likely to believe in a Jewish conspiracy? According to hasbara culture the more you know about Jews and Israel the more likely you will be an antisemite. That is the world hasbara culture insists we live in. Hasbara culture is the reason Israel has the impunity and immunity it has: no one’s allowed to talk about its power in our discourse. That’s why  Atlantic magazine has to hide the NSO story. Because It will make Israel look bad and empower the antisemites. Recall, this is why Goldberg “left Haaretz behind.” It was talking down Israel too much. Haaretz has too many stories and opinions that empower the antisemites. And thats why you wont find the Atlantic digging into the NSO story, it empowers anti-Israelism and antisemitism. Goldberg has been a reliable pipeline for Netanyahu’s view of history. During the Obama administration, thanks to Goldberg, an Obama official calling Netanyahu “chickenshit” led to an international incident. And now the Atlantic’s contribution to future historians about the Netanyahu and Trump time together is testimony to the statesmanship of the rightwing Israeli leader:  “Bibi Was Right The arc of history has bent toward authoritarianism.” Is it any wonder that the American Israeli relationship is so fucked up? As Andrew Sullivan said of Jeffrey Goldberg back in 2013: “Jeffrey really believes that there is a high-priest caste of journalists at a certain elite level, whose job it is to tell people what they need to know.”  And the less those people know about Netanyahu the better. At that same time, the late former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski tweeted rather blandly about Netanyahu’s meddling in American politics:  “Obama/Kerry = best policy team since Bush I/Jim Baker. Congress is finally becoming embarrassed by Netanyahu’s efforts to dictate US policy.” Now look at Jeffrey Goldberg’s reaction to that comment. “Jews run America, suggests ex-national security adviser: https://t.co/1ZH2R7jyuC”— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) November 24, 2013 Goldberg is deploying hasbara culture tropes to taboo Brzezinski’s criticism of Netanyahu for his intervention in U.S. politics – and this in the period when Netanyahu ultimately went to Congress in defiance of the Obama administration to try and stop the Iran deal. Recall how Logan Bayroff of J Street responded to Goldberg: “@JeffreyGoldberg He doesn’t say or even imply that. Willingness to accuse everyone of anti-Semitism makes it impossible to respect you.” And now notice how Goldberg then threw his weight around in the Jewish tent, to shut down Bayroff: Meaning: The idea that Brzezinski’s Netanyahu tweet isn’t antisemitic is enough to be kept out of the tribe. Because believing that those supposed antisemitic tropes are so dangerous is what it means to be a good Jew these days. And Jewish heresy is objecting to hasbara culture’s sacred victimhood social construction of alternative reality. Goldberg used the same hasbara culture tactic on Andrew Sullivan when he was criticizing Israel in an effort to push the two-state solution, accusing him too of spreading antisemitism: giving “comfort to some very repulsive people.” [H]e sometimes uses his blog to disseminate calumnies that can cause hatred of Jews, and of Israel… Andrew’s posts on Israel and on Jewish political power in America have lately given comfort to some very repulsive people. This is why I say that the real power of the Israel lobby is not AIPAC, it’s the power to declare what’s permissible and what’s verboten in the discourse about Israel. When the Obama administration dared to attack AIPAC for using money and political machinations to attempt to derail the Iran deal, Goldberg promptly warned of dangerous tropes. Obama, Goldberg said,  “may empower actual anti-Semites not only in the Middle East, but at home as well.” And According to Jeffrey Goldberg and hasbara culture’s ideas about antisemitism, Iran is willing sacrifice its entire population as long as they can take a few Jews with them. This is what Goldberg lectured to Obama and Kerry. Today these cultural interventions by Goldberg and other Never again journalists shape Jewish and American political culture. And the reason it’s possible to make BDS all-but-illegal in so many states is because Jeffrey Goldberg and hasbara culture claimed boycotting Israel was reminiscent of the Nazis. And that’s also why Ben and Jerrys are turned into Nazis for boycotting the settlements. That’s why the Atlantic can’t adequately cover the laws against BDS or the Ben and Jerrys story and so much else. Jeffrey Goldberg is implicated in all of it. Jeffrey Goldberg is frightened of the truth. This order can only end badly. There is a better way and that is to let real experts on antisemitism educate the rest of us on antisemitism. Hasbara culture insists people can’t be trusted with the truththat reality is antisemitic. While the truth is that Jews covering up the truth empowers antisemitism. The ideas in this article shape the world every day. It’s why Israel is heading to a very dark place, dragging America along, and no one can do anything to stop it. Reality needs to stand up to hasbara culture before its too late. There are at least two sides to every storySo where are the Palestinian voices in mainstream media?Mondoweiss covers the full picture of the struggle for justice in Palestine. Read by tens of thousands of people each month, our truth-telling journalism is an essential counterweight to the propaganda that passes for news in mainstream and legacy media.Our news and analysis is available to everyone – which is why we need your support. Please contribute so that we can continue to raise the voices of those who advocate for the rights of Palestinians to live in dignity and peace.Palestinians today are struggling for their lives as mainstream media turns away. Please support journalism that amplifies the urgent voices calling for freedom and justice in Palestine.Donate today → Source

[Category: Media Analysis, antisemitism, Atlantic, Bari Weiss, Bret Stephens, Colleyville Texas, Hasbara Culture, Jeffrey Goldberg, Yair Rosenberg]

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[l] at 1/27/22 7:39am
According to a classified cable, Israels government is launching a campaign to discredit a United Nations commission investigating the countrys 2021 attack on Gaza. The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) voted to establish the Commission of Inquiry (COI) last May. Axios Barak Ravid reports that Israels Foreign Ministry sent a cable, to all the countrys diplomatic missions, referring to the investigation as a top priority and announcing that its launching a diplomatic effort to derail the probe. They also expressed concern that the COIs report (which is expected to be released in June) will refer to Israel as an apartheid state. As Ravid points out, Israel has refused to cooperate with the investigation and the Biden administration has publicly voiced its opposition to it. The United States also voted to defund the commission at the UN. We have concerns with the council, said State Department spokesperson Ned Price last October. We will vigorously oppose the councils disproportionate attention on Israel, which includes the councils only standing agenda item targeting a single country. This week over 40 congress members sent a letter to Secretary of State Tony Blinken, asking the administration to lead an effort to eliminate the commission. It was led by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Vicky Hartzler (R-MO). COI’s mandate is designed to accelerate the political, economic, and legal challenges to Israel and undermine its legitimacy by pressuring international legal institutions to take action against Israeli leaders, reads the letter, which was obtained by Jewish Insider. This COI is outrageous and ought to be cancelled. With the UN budget in crisis, stretched by the COVID pandemic which affects all humanity, it is irresponsible to spend precious resources on yet another unjustified UN investigation of Israel. On social media, many pointed that out this behavior was nothing new from Israel. NOT A SCOOP: Israel will continue to bully, smear & harass any international effort that exposes the truth, tweeted Inès Abdel Razek. NOT A SCOOP: Israel will continue to bully, smear & harass any international effort that exposes the truth https://t.co/XPV01IeoOF— Inès Abdel Razek (@InesAbdelrazek) January 26, 2022 In 2021 the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch (HRW) both put out reports accusing Israel of apartheid. In the recommendations portion of its report, HRW called for the international community to alter its approach to the country. While much of the world treats Israel’s half-century occupation as a temporary situation that a decades-long ‘peace process’ will soon cure, the oppression of Palestinians there has reached a threshold and a permanence that meets the definitions of the crimes of apartheid and persecution, said HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth in a statement. Israel attacked Gaza for 11 straight days last year, killing 253 Palestinians. 66 of them were children. Such strikes raise serious concerns of Israel’s compliance with the principles of distinction and proportionality under international humanitarian law, United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet told the UNHRC at the time. If found to be indiscriminate and disproportionate in their impact on civilians and civilian objects, such attacks may constitute war crimes. There are at least two sides to every storySo where are the Palestinian voices in mainstream media?Mondoweiss covers the full picture of the struggle for justice in Palestine. Read by tens of thousands of people each month, our truth-telling journalism is an essential counterweight to the propaganda that passes for news in mainstream and legacy media.Our news and analysis is available to everyone – which is why we need your support. Please contribute so that we can continue to raise the voices of those who advocate for the rights of Palestinians to live in dignity and peace.Palestinians today are struggling for their lives as mainstream media turns away. Please support journalism that amplifies the urgent voices calling for freedom and justice in Palestine.Donate today → Source

[Category: News, 2021 Gaza attack, Biden administration, Israeli Government, Top Headlines, UN Human Rights Council]

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[l] at 1/26/22 1:45pm
“The continued occupation in Palestine/Israel is 21st century slavery.”  Rev J. Herbert Nelson II, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church USA made this declaration as part of his January 17th message on the occasion of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Rev. Nelson continued: “The United States of America must be a major influencer of calling this injustice both immoral and intolerable. I would also hope that the Jewish community in the United States would influence the call to join the U.S. government in ending the immoral enslavement.”   With these words, Rev Nelson demonstrated his courage in acknowledging the humanity of Palestinians. Unhappy with Rev. Nelson’s words, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations took the opportunity to criticize the PC(USA) for its record of activism for Palestine, beginning with the Denomination’s 2014 vote to divest church funds from companies profiting from the colonization of Palestine. The accusation of antisemitism leveled at those who publicly call out Israel’s blatant human rights abuses is far from unusual. In calling on the Jewish community to add their voice to a call to abolish the occupation of Palestinian land, Rev. Nelson is acknowledging the Jewish community’s respect for human rights and their long record of working for equal rights. In their condemnation of Rev. Nelson, the Conference has twisted his appeal, characterizing it as appearing “to call on antisemitic tropes and conspiracies that Jews secretly control the moves of politicians and manipulate world events to their advantage.” This convoluted and specious attempt to associate Rev. Nelson’s words with this infamous antisemitic trope shows to what desperate lengths the defenders of Israel’s government have to go now that Israel’s indefensible actions are increasingly on display. And it shamelessly distorts Rev. Nelson’s message. Rev Nelson chose to express his condemnation of the State of Israels actions in the strongest terms by relating it to the civil rights movement, the anti-Apartheid struggle, and to all forms of racial discrimination. Rev Nelsons words are not to be confused with antisemitism. Rather, his connection of the plight of the Palestinian people to the many forms that enslavement has taken throughout history and continuing to the present day is very much in the spirit of Dr. King’s pronouncement that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” How long will defenders of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians resort to the charge of antisemitism to shut down legitimate criticism of Israel? It is time for us to follow the lead of courageous faith leaders like J. Herbert Nelson II in standing for the values and principles we hold dear. Given the shameful history of Christian anti-Jewish doctrine and action, the churches in the U.S. are all too aware of the evil and dangers of antisemitism. Following the frightening incident at the Texas synagogue, Friends of Sabeel North America went on record on the topic in an article titled “Antisemitism is Sin. Period.” “The attack this past week on the synagogue in Texas,” reads the piece, “following other recent attacks on synagogues and Jewish establishments, is an important reminder that the scourge of antisemitism is alive and well in the United States. We at FOSNA have always been clear that such antisemitism, alongside all forms of racism and discrimination, are not only condemnable but are a grave sin and an affront to the concept of a universal God who created and loves all people.” The Presbyterian Church’s stand for justice for Palestinians is an act of love for both Palestinians and Jewish Israelis, who are caught in the tragic positions of oppressed and oppressor. Indeed, the Presbyterian Church in the USA has blazed the trail for other Christian denominations to take similarly bold actions, despite the increasingly strident charges of antisemitism that have emanated from some quarters. Rev. Nelson’s appeal to the Jewish community to call the U.S. government to account for its support for Israel’s crimes applies to all of us.  Kairos USA’s foundational document “Call to Action: A U.S. Response to the Kairos Palestine Document” acknowledges the responsibility borne by our society for Palestinian suffering: We know that raising questions about our churches’ and our government’s support for the State of Israel’s policies exposes us to the charge of antisemitism. But we are called to speak the truth, as our faith in the life and ministry of Jesus directs us. We firmly believe that it is precisely in this way that we express not only our commitment to the dignity and human rights of the Palestinians, but our dedication to the humanity of our Jewish sisters and brothers.” The Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace joins Kairos USA and Friends of Sabeel North American in supporting Rev. J. Herbert Nelson II in his courageous stance. We are reminded to follow the call of the Jewish and Christian scriptures to be with the God who took the side of the poor and downtrodden against the powerful. How long will defenders of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians resort to the charge of antisemitism to shut down legitimate criticism of Israel? It is time for us to follow the lead of courageous faith leaders like J. Herbert Nelson II in standing for the values and principles we hold dear. Only then can we overcome the gathering forces of bigotry and hate that threaten the wellbeing of Americans and indeed all the inhabitants of our world. We are bound together, in the words of Dr. King, in “the inescapable network of mutuality.” There are at least two sides to every storySo where are the Palestinian voices in mainstream media?Mondoweiss covers the full picture of the struggle for justice in Palestine. Read by tens of thousands of people each month, our truth-telling journalism is an essential counterweight to the propaganda that passes for news in mainstream and legacy media.Our news and analysis is available to everyone – which is why we need your support. Please contribute so that we can continue to raise the voices of those who advocate for the rights of Palestinians to live in dignity and peace.Palestinians today are struggling for their lives as mainstream media turns away. Please support journalism that amplifies the urgent voices calling for freedom and justice in Palestine.Donate today → Source

[Category: Opinion, Christianity, Presbyterian Church]

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[l] at 1/26/22 12:57pm
Everyone says that last Mays assault by Israel on Gaza transformed the politics of the conflict inside the United States leading to the shocking survey last summer showing that 38 percent of Jews under 40 see Israel as an apartheid country and 20 percent believe it has no right to exist. Since then all liberal Jewish institutions are dealing with the fallout. Here is an important story about this moment. A young Jewish educator wrote a blogpost in May declaring herself an anti-Zionist in the face of Israeli genocide and soon after was (allegedly) fired from a job at a Westchester temple over her views. A rabbi had told her that the temple adopted a wrestling with Israel policy even though he privately agreed with her. Now the educator, Jessie Sander, 26, is suing the temple and that rabbi and two other officials for wrongful termination, saying that her blogpost was a lawful, recreational activity unrelated to her duties. The suit, filed yesterday, seeks Sanders reinstatement and back pay, damages, and legal fees. Backtrack to the spring. In early May, Sander, a former special education teacher in New York City, was hired by Westchester Reform Temple, starting in July to teach Hebrew and manage teenage curriculum. Your thoughtfulness, your commitment to causes you believe in, and your dedication to Jewish learning and the Jewish people are laudable, the temple wrote Sander in accepting her application, according to her suit. Then Israel attacked Gaza, and on May 20, Sander wrote an anti-Zionist blogpost israel Wont Save Us: Moving Toward Liberation, co-signed by Elana Lipkin. The two are co-creators of a radical group called Making Mensches and repeatedly referred to American Jewish institutions peddling propaganda for Israeli genocide. Israel was lower-case throughout the post. [W]e must speak out against israel’s most recent attack on Gaza. While it is especially abhorrent that israeli settler-colonial violence escalated during the holy month of Ramadan, israel’s legalized apartheid regime has been brutalizing Palestinians for decades. We believe our role as white American Jews is to resist the American-israeli military-industrial complex and the ways in which American Jewish support for israel has enabled the genocide in Palestine to continue. Making Mensches believes in the right of Palestinian self-determination and rejects the Zionist claim to the land of Palestine.As white American Jews who were raised to proudly support israel, we refuse to perpetuate the one-sided narratives and propaganda that many American Jewish institutions disseminate about israel. We call for American Jewish institutions to revisit their educational philosophy and curriculum about Palestine and its historyAs American Jews, we demand an end to American funding of Palestinian genocide. The blogpost concluded by urging other Jews to go on the anti-Zionist journey, for the sake of themselves and the Jewish community. Our anti-Zionist journeys, while difficult, have been nothing short of essential to strengthening our passion for Judaism. Being anti-Zionist has made us even more invested in building Jewish community and fighting for justice for all Jews. To the Zionists who call us self-hating Jews, we understand your conviction and your zeal. We too were once judgmental of Jews who criticized israel, assuming we were more deeply connected to Judaism and more highly educated. To these Zionists, we wish you an anti-Zionist journey as transformative as ours. Sander started her job at the Westchester temple July 6, and a week later Rabbi David Levy said he had something awkward to ask her. Her lawsuit offers a detailed version of an uncomfortable exchange on July 15, in which Levy suggested anti-Zionists favor the Holocaust: Rabbi LEVY told SANDER that he had read a May 20, 2021 blog post on her website, and asked if she understood that WRT was a Zionist institution and how comfortable she felt working at a Zionist institution as an anti-Zionist.  SANDER said she understood the political position of WRT and the larger Union of Reform Judaism in reference to Israel, respected it, and would not share her anti-Zionist views on the job.  Rabbi LEVY asked what “anti-Zionist” meant to SANDER.SANDER explained that she objected to the colonization of Palestinian land, with the accompanying displacement of the indigenous population. She also expressed opposition to the military rule that has been imposed on the occupied territories. She acknowledged the importance of Israel in the Torah, the reference to the land of Israel in ancient Jewish writing, and the connection that they and all Jews have to that land, but said that she could not justify the creation of a state for the Jewish people at the expense of another people. Rabbi LEVY asked her to clarify that “you are not calling for a second Holocaust” because “some people may read ‘anti-Zionist’ and think that’s what you mean.”SANDER responded that she was not calling for a second Holocaust and was horrified that anyone might think so.Rabbi LEVY said he agreed with “90% of what you’re saying.”Rabbi LEVY said that “there are some people here who would demand I fire you immediately” upon seeing the blog post, but that SANDER “should never work at a place that would fire you for your beliefs and pronounced in an email to [Senior Rabbi Jonathan] BLAKE [also named in the lawsuit] and the TEMPLE president that he had complete confidence in SANDER and that she would be a good role model for WRT’s students. Rabbi LEVY asked SANDER why she does not identify as a “non-Zionist” or “post-Zionist” rather than an “anti-Zionist,” noting that he thought Peter Beinart now identifies as a “non-Zionist” or “post-Zionist” rather than an “anti-Zionist,” and recommended that SANDER check out Beinart’s work because it sounded to him that her opinions were aligned with his. Despite those assurances, on July 22, Levy terminated Sander in a meeting with the temples executive director Eli Kornreich. When Sander asked Levy why she was being fired, Kornreich responded, according to the lawsuit, “I can answer that one.  It’s just not a good fit.” Her lawsuit filed by my friend the civil rights attorney Robert Herbst says that she was fired for a blogpost that was a lawful, leisure-time recreational activity, outside work hours. Nothing in the job or job description required any adherence to any particular point of view about Israel or its policies toward the Palestinians. The lawsuit has a great characterization of the offending blogpost that all Zionists should be reading on a week that Israel is killing old Palestinian men right and left, and the New York Times is finally covering it. Pointing out that Zionism is not equivalent to, or a necessary component of, Jewish identity, they warned that conflating Zionism and Judaism was dangerous and inaccurate, because it runs the risk of spreading deeply antisemitic narratives about the nature of Judaism. The lawsuit seeks to normalize Sanders views, stating that all three of WRT’s rabbis have expressed views severely critical of Israel, its politics, and its policies toward Palestinians. For instance, in September 2021, Blake reportedly criticized Israel for having a split personality, one half of which is “the Israel of dangerous fanaticism.”  A group of prominent Jews has called on Westchester Reform to hire Sander back. They include Dorothy Zellner, Jane Hirschmann, Peter Beinart, Daniel Boyarin, James Schamus, Donna Nevel, Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark, Rebecca Vilkomerson, Howard Horowitz, Rosalind Petchesky, Brant Rosen, Aaron Hahn Tapper, Ira Glasser among others. They write of the new Jewish moment: You are surely aware that Ms. Sander’s views are shared by a growing segment of the Jewish community, who understand or are grappling with the role of Zionism in the dispossession of the Palestinian people from their homes and landThe Reform Jewish community – and all Jewish communities – need educators with the passion and moral compass of people such as Jessie Sander. Source

[Category: News, American Jewish community, anti-Zionism, Israel Lobby, Jessie Sander, Peter Beinart, Reform Judaism, Westchester Reform Temple]

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[l] at 1/26/22 7:51am
In this episode our U.S. correspondent Michael Arria speaks to Huwaida Arraf, a Palestinian-American peace activist, human rights lawyer, and now candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Michigan. Arraf launched her campaign to unseat an incumbent Republican. However, at the beginning of this year redistricting placed her in a race for an open seat. Last week, Michael asked Arraf about growing up in Michigan, how she first became an international peace activist, and why she’s now turned toward electoral politics. Support our work Help us continue our critical independent coverage of events in Palestine, Israel, and related U.S. politics. Donate today at https://mondoweiss.net/donate Articles and Links mentioned in the show Huwaida Arraf’s campaign website‘Our vision for human rights is louder than the hate they’re going to put out’: an interview with Michigan congressional candidate Huwaida Arraf – Michael ArriaSubscribe to The Shift newsletter, Michael Arria’s weekly look at the changing politics on Palestine across the United States. Share this podcast Share The Mondoweiss Podcast with your followers on Twitter. Click here to post a tweet!If you enjoyed this episode, head over to Podchaser and leave us a review and follow the show! Follow The Mondoweiss Podcast wherever you listen AmazonApple PodcastsAudibleDeezerGaanaGoogle PodcastsOvercastPlayer.fmRadioPublicSpotifyStitcherTuneInYouTubeOur RSS feed We want your feedback! Email dave@mondoweiss.netLeave us an audio message at SparkPipe More from Mondoweiss Subscribe to our free email newsletters: Daily HeadlinesWeekly BriefingThe Shift tracks U.S. politicsPalestine Letter Follow us on social media FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTubeLinkedInTumblr Source

[Category: Podcasts, 2022 Election, Congress, Huwaida Arraf, Michigan, US Politics]

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[l] at 1/25/22 12:28pm
Huwaida Arraf is a civil rights attorney and activist running for congress in Michigans newly drawn tenth district. Mondoweiss spoke with the Democratic candidate about growing up Palestinian-American, her human rights work, and why she has decided to get involved in electoral politics. This interview has been slightly edited for length and clarity. What was your early life in Michigan like, as the child of Palestinian immigrants? What are your early memories of Palestine and when did your activism around the country start? Thank you for having me. So my parents came to this country when my mom was pregnant with me. My father is from a Palestinian village that falls inside of 48, and my mom is from the West Bank town of Beit Sahour, which is still under full military occupation and even as full citizens of Israel we are a barely tolerated minority, so nowhere near full equal rights. I believe my parents wanted something better for us and decided to come to the United States. Im the oldest of five children. When we were younger, my parents tried to take us to Palestine regularly to keep a connection with family. I think it was really traumatic for my parents to leave, but they believed that they were doing it for us to be able to have opportunity and freedom and not live under the conditions that millions of Palestinians live under. So we would go in the summer and we have that connection with family. I remember I loved going, but I remember the first time I really realized what was happening. I was about five years old and I was super proud of being an American. I thought that was a cool thing, I was going to be the first woman President of the United States. I just thought it was a cool thing to be American and I would try to show that off in Palestine. I remember one time we were in Beit Sahour, we were getting ready to go to Jerusalem to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I wanted our favorite aunt to come with us and she couldnt. I was really upset and didnt understand why she couldnt come with us. Of course I didnt realize how restrictive the travel was and I didnt understand why she wouldnt be allowed to enter Jerusalem. She told me, Its your government and your president thats supporting this. That was a shock to me, a five-year-old who loved America. Hearing that it was my country that was preventing my aunt from coming with me to church, I think thats when I started realizing something wasnt right. One time we went back and it was a very traumatic experience. I was about ten and realized how much Israeli security was searching us, separating my mom and siblings from my dad. We were strip-searched, as kids. We were put in a separate room and we were held so long that the plane took off. This kind of treatment, which was just pure humiliation. As I got older I began recognizing that, not just in Palestine, but in other places, U.S. policy was not as we say it is. I was young and idealistic and wanted it to be all about freedom, human rights, and democracy at home and around the world. That really started a kind of the trajectory in my life, I started becoming more active on issues of social justice at home in Michigan. I grew up in a very homogeneous environment. There wasnt a lot of diversity. We were one of a handful of homes in my city and in my school that were not white. But I tried to blend in as much as possible, I was proud of my culture, but at school and with friends just wanted to be your average American girl. My father here in Michigan was an auto worker, was with the union. He worked really hard to give us the life we were able to have. We didnt have a whole lot. But his job with the union supported our family of seven, as I said I was oldest of five children, and Im grateful to him and to my mom for all theyve done and all theyve sacrificed. He never really talked very much about Palestine after leaving and even when I got into my activism, I think he secretly or not even secretly, sometimes very vocally said, just focus on your studies and your life as opposed to advocating for Palestinian freedom and human rights. You co-founded the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in 2001, which helped bring renewed global attention to the Palestinian struggle. How do you view the legacy of the ISM? What lessons did you learn about fighting for Palestine within the United States? I co-founded the International Solidarity Movement after graduating college. I had decided to move to Jerusalem and accept a job working as part of a conflict resolution program that brought both sides together. Thats always hailed as such a great thing and dialogue is never a bad thing. These kinds of programs that people participate in and then feel good that theyre doing something, they get a view that this is all about just learning to get along as opposed to tackling the root cause of what causes the extreme suffering of Palestinians. In this case, obviously, you have one of the strongest militaries in the world that is not only occupying Palestinian territory, land and lives, but that is intent on getting as much Palestinian land as possible with as little Palestinians on it as possible. So its very much a colonization project. And as part of that, you have an occupation which is killing and destroying Palestinian lives from inside and out. So when I went to work for this conflict resolution program I realized very quickly that not only is it very limited and not working, but that it could have actually a very negative effect on the struggle for Palestinian freedom because like I said, it gives people this idea that theyre doing good, but theyre not actually focusing on dismantling any structures of oppression. The second Palestinian Intifada broke out while I was living in Palestine. At first, I joined a lot of these Palestinian protests, men, women, and children taking to the streets protesting Israels oppressive policies. And we were responded to with lethal Israeli violence. Here is a powerful military up against unarmed civilians that are just rising up and demonstrating. Sometimes throwing rocks or sometimes throwing shoes, but not armed and yet you have soldiers shooting. You have armor, personnel carriers, you have tanks, you have bulldozers. The Intifada became more armed on the Palestinian side after a few weeks of these unarmed uprisings where Israel killed 127 protesters. They were shot dead, mainly from the bullet wounds to the head and chest area. So it was very much a shoot to kill policy on Israels part. A lot of these demonstrations, the people that I demonstrated with and I said they died down. [There were people in] Palestinian society were trying to [fight against Israel], but its dilapidated rifles up against one of the most powerful militaries in the world. There was a feeling that, We have to do something, but this only gave Israel an excuse to bring in their attack helicopters and fighter jets and roll their tanks into cities and towns, an excuse to kill more. And on a global scale, not only was nobody doing anything about the massive loss of Palestinian life, but Palestinians were being blamed for their own death because why did Palestinians walk away from a peace process? When people say the peace process, of course, as theyre talking about Oslo 1993 to 2000, which only served to entrench Israels hold on our land. They expanded their settlements. They accelerated the rates of home demolition and the stealing of land and called it a peace process. And whenever Palestinians complained about it, we were just told to be patient because we were in a peace process. So when the Intifada broke out, it was a sense of Palestinians saying, were not going to be part of this facade of a peace process anymore. We want our freedom. And as I said, Israel came out with shoot to kill policies, and nobody was doing anything about it. So the idea of the International Solidarity Movement was to get people around the world to come see whats happening in Palestine. As it concerns Americans, its happening with American tax dollars. The idea was that if we get people from around the world to come out for Palestine, maybe if internationals marched with Palestinians, then Israel would use less lethal forms of violence against people. Maybe the internationals could help change the way the mainstream media was reporting on things. Always its the Israeli narrative. Always Israel is the victim. And even if the mainstream media wasnt going to change the way they were reporting people around the worldpeople come come to Palestine, but then they go back home, right? They have their own way of spreading the word about whats really happening. And also they would give Palestinians a sense of hope that they werent abandoned. These were all ideas, things we thought the International Solidarity Movement could do. And with that, we started inviting people to come. Now its about 20 years later, and its been phenomenal. Weve had our ups and downs. But in terms of the thousands and thousands of people that have come, its been really kind of heartwarming. I think its had a tremendous effect on where solidarity with Palestinians is right now. Globally, of course, we also lost a number of colleagues. As I mentioned earlier, we thought Israel would use less lethal forms of violence when internationals were involved. But we did have internationals that were seriously injured. We had internationals that were killed. Of course, this is alongside the thousands and thousands of Palestinians that have been killed. And for none of them has Israel been held accountable, and that still remains the case. So weve come a long way in terms of Palestinian advocating for Palestinian freedom, but its still the case that Israel seems to operate with a level of impunity that still has to be broken. You were part of an international effort to sail a flotilla of ships through the Israeli blockade of Gaza in 2010. They were carrying people and humanitarian supplies. Those ships were, of course, attacked at sea by Israeli forces, including the one you were on. People were killed. You were physically assaulted by Israeli soldiers. What did you learn from that experience and now that were over a decade removed, what should people understand about what happened? The flotilla in 2010 was a culmination of efforts. Before that, we had sailed boats to Gaza, and the idea was not necessary to just carry humanitarian aid to Gaza. In fact, our very first ships that sailed in the summer of 2008, they were old, converted fishing boats, that carried a maximum of 44 people. We didnt have much room to carry cargo. But the idea was that we were going to stand up to a deadly and illegal Israeli policy that was choking off the people of Gaza. And through that, with that action, we wanted to show that Israels policy had nothing to do with security because they impose this hermetic closure on Gaza. People cant get in and out. Goods cant get in and out unless its through Israel. Theres so many things that they restrict, basically making peoples lives miserable. The level of poverty, the level of unemployment, the level of destruction that Israel has brought on Gaza is almost unimaginable. And they tell the world that its all related to security. We wanted to expose that this has nothing to do with security. Here are 44 peace activists from Europe and the United States sailing to Gaza on fishing boats. We didnt pose a security threat, and we hoped through that action we would expose. Israels policy is not being about security. We also wanted to shake people into action, because Israels policy is specifically designed to persecute people, to bring them to their knees, to exact political concessions. This is not only immoral, but it is illegal under international law. And nobody, again, is making Israel change its policy. So we managed to sail a few boats that did get into Gaza because Israel decided not to confront us at sea. But at one point, then they started stopping us. They hit our boats. They almost capsized one of our boats. And that was the moment we decided that either we should stop sailing or escalate our efforts. We did not want to give into this notion that their aggression and military might was stronger than the rights that we were fighting for. And so we decided to escalate and started putting together a flotilla, which came together in May of 2010, we had seven ships, 700 people from over 35 countries. And so we could load those with humanitarian supplies that Israel was not allowing into Gaza, including things like wheelchairs. Israel would let in some wheelchairs, but then would not allow the batteries to the wheelchairs to enter. Just ridiculous restrictions that were punitive and designed to make people suffer. And Israel did attack. They killed ten of our colleagues, one of them being an American citizen. 19 years old. He wanted to go to medical school, Furkan Dogan. The United Nations investigation found that for Furkan and five others that were killed, they were most likely executed. Furkan was shot with five bullets at close range. The last one, or at least one of the five to his face, most likely an execution. The most shameful thing about that was the U.S. had a citizen murdered on that flotilla and they were the only country to vote against adoption of the UN report. So what did we learn from that action? As tragic as the outcome was, people didnt want to cower in response to Israels violence so the following year more people joined another attempt at a flotilla. The power of people acting together, not only is it a very powerful thing, but its a very necessary thing. I remember that little girl, Me, who thought that America was the greatest, doing things to fight for good around the world. Well, its not always the case. We want it to be, but we have to be a lot more involved if were going to make it that. So as tragic as the outcome and the loss of our colleagues was, I still think it was a very powerful action. I think actions like that continue to be necessary, and we need to continue raising our voices. Unfortunately, Gaza is still closed off. People are still suffering. Maybe its not a boat next time, but we have to continue taking drastic action like this. After working inside social justice movements for many years, you completed your law degree. Is that something you always planned to do, or did it grow out of your activism? I knew I liked the law. I didnt think I would go into human rights law, but [that changed] after seeing a lot of things working in Palestine. We were protesting against the injustices, trying to organize, but I wanted to learn what the law can do for victims of human rights abuses. What mechanisms were available to hold human rights abusers accountable and what remedies could be found for victims of such grave injustices and human rights abuses? So I ended up studying international human rights and humanitarian law. I taught one year at a Palestinian law school. It was at the Al Quds University Human Rights Law Clinic. We were teaching international human rights, humanitarian law and one of my students says to me, This is all nice, but it doesnt apply to us. What she meant is all the laws on the books look great, but who is enforcing them, who is implementing them when it comes to Palestinian rights? And of course, what victims see is that the law only works for the powerful. Thats also what we see here in the United States, too. Surely in the international arena, we always say you can have good laws, but then it comes down to political will if you want enforcement. Its always the little guy that has the law enforced against them. But in big, powerful countries, they can almost get away with doing anything. And that is where it comes back to us in creating this political will. I know the law is not enough, thats one of the reasons that I was motivated to run for Congress. What led you to jump into the electoral arena at this point in your life? I am living in Detroit, raising my kids, and I was working as a civil rights attorney even though I studied international human rights. This is a different body of law, civil rights, but the principle and the passion for fighting for peoples rights is the same. I had to resign my job [when the pandemic began] because of having to home school my kids, and I just couldnt give time to my clients to do a decent job for them. So I resigned. When it came time to go back to work, I thought there must be something more I can do. Looking at the laws in the United States, theyre being made to take us backwards instead of forward when it comes to protecting peoples civil rights. And I thought I could go back to the law firm, I could go back to the courtroom, but if the laws are bad, then Im not going to be able to do much for my clients to protect their civil rights. Im politically active and when I looked at who was representing me in the area I thought I was running in, the representative that we have there [Rep. Lisa McClain] has voted against every single piece of legislation that could help working families in Michigan. Shes constantly voting for the interests of big money. No matter how many letters I sent or phone calls or meetings you request with the office, the big politics and money. Shes also a Republican. I thought we have to step it up and have better people representing us in Congress, representatives that actually care about the people where I live. The Thumb area of Michigan has been consistently voting, overwhelmingly Republican. I thought that its not because we dont agree or we cant see eye to eye on policies that will benefit all people of Michigan, it is because politicians have not been talking to people. People are angry on both sides, but I certainly understood the anger that Donald Trump capitalized on. I grew up in a working class family. Im a mom now. I understand these struggles. Im a Democrat and I know that the Democratic Party has also angered a lot of people, abandoned a lot of people. We seem to always talk to just our supporters and talk down at them and not really address some of the issues that have troubled peoples lives and that have made them angry. So, Donald Trump comes in and is able to capitalize on that anger. Even before Donald Trump, people were turning away from the Democratic Party because of what the Democratic Party has become. Its not really what it has been historically, a party of the working class. I believe I can run the kind of campaign that will change that because when you talk to people one-on-one with their struggles, [these labels] dont matter. You dont have to come in and say, Im a Republican or a Democrat. You talk about what we need and what we want as a community. We want to be able to have dignified jobs that pay a living wage. We want to be able to know that were sending our kids to safe schools, that theyre drinking safe water, that our communities are safe, that were able to afford health care. But when you go in and talk just party politics and put on these labels, people get in their corners. I wanted to help break through that. So I decided Im going to challenge Lisa McClain, who was my congresswoman. But what happened is that Michigan for the first time ever we had an independent citizen redistricting Commission, and right before the new year, they voted on new maps and they drew me out of the Thumb area where I thought I would be running. Now I am running in a toss-up seat. Its a newly created seat with no sitting incumbent. So its a lot better for me in terms of the likelihood of winning because its no longer overwhelmingly Republican. It is a true toss-up seat. Im a little bit disappointed that I wont be running in the area that I really wanted to address, but Im committed to running the same kind of campaign where its still going out and talking to every single person and trying to break through on these issues. Why did I get into what I got into in Palestine, the kind of work I did? Because I saw egregious human rights abuses all around me and I needed to do something about it. And here, too, in Macomb, Michigan, I see egregious abuses all around me also. Its not the same as whats happening in Palestine, for sure, but people are being denied the right to adequate health care, the right to work with dignity, really to be free, to lead a life where you can give your kids opportunity. These are the very reasons that my parents came to this country and I wanted to be able to do something to change that. I need to be able to do something to change that. We need to elect representatives into office that care about the people and they care about rights. So thats why I took this leap. I thought it was going to be a really tough campaign, but one that I was going to fight hard for and win. Im not saying its not going to be tough now, but the odds of winning and the positioning of our campaign now is a lot better. Its very exciting. And I hope that people that learn about the campaign get in touch and jump on, because this is going to be a very exciting campaign where someone not only like me, that is progressive on domestic issues, but someone that has my history in being unapologetically vocal on Palestinian human rights can not only run for a high office like this, but can also win. I hope and I think this will change peoples minds about what it takes to run for office and who can run for office. You mentioned that youre running in a completely open seat with no incumbent. Do you anticipate any Democratic challengers? We do. I cant imagine that nobody else is going to jump in, but I launched my campaign in mid-November thinking I was for sure going to run in the Thumb are, so I was preparing for that and started reaching out and assembling a really good team. I have a great campaign team and fundraising team, so I am really ahead of anyone that is going to jump in now. But I anticipate maybe two or three more people jumping in. My goal is to just keep making the connections, talking to people and raising money so that the campaign remains in a really good position, stays ahead. I am going to be attacked. From the moment I announced my campaign, I was attacked by people who specifically dont like the work that Ive done on Palestinian human rights. Actually just a few days ago, there was another attack article in Breitbart News. So those attacks are going to come. Whats important to me and my campaign is that we ensure we have the resources and support. So that our message, our vision, what were fighting for, the kind of policies and principles that we want to bring to Washington that centers people, civil and human rights domestically and also internationally. Our vision for human rights is louder than the hate theyre going to put out. Weve been able to do that, but I know we have a lot more work to do. We know more attacks are coming and were fired up. The last two months have been pretty grim here in the United States. A lot of people think Democrats [will do poorly] in the midterms. Were still in a pandemic. When you go around your community and talk to voters, what are the things that they are identifying as important when they head to the ballot box? What I am seeing and hearing so far is a lot of the things that Democrats have been talking about. The economy is first and foremost. But to be able to ensure that our economy continues to thrive, we have to make sure that people are safe, healthy and thriving. So, yes, we have to get the pandemic under control. And it is really unfortunate that that has become such a political issue when were talking about peoples health and safety. But it is the economy. It is community safety. In Michigan, specifically, we recently had a horrific school shooting, even just gun safety, people that try to polarize this issue and politicize issues that should not be politicized is devastating. In terms of what we might see at the polls, we hear that if Biden isnt able to get certain things passed, like the Voting Rights Act and the Build Back Better plan then Democrats might not do so well at the polls. I think it is really important for us to talk about being able to pass these important pieces of legislation that can affect peoples lives, but being able to pass them by having people in Congress that care about improving peoples lives. If people suddenly dont go out to vote because they are disappointed, then whats going to happen is that we are going to get more obstructionists in Congress, more people that tailor to big corporate interests and big money and not centralizing and prioritizing people. So I realize that we might have a tough challenge in terms of where we are politically right now. We have to keep fighting and I think more than ever, people have to know, even if were disappointed, if we let that disappointment turn into a lack of action, then things are going to get a lot worse. I say that here and it relates also to Palestine, right? I mean, the situation there is so bad, but if we give up, then its certainly not going to get any better. Of course there are ups and downs. Of course were human and we get disappointed. But lets also find a way to support each other and pick each other up and know that we have to keep going to make things better for ourselves, for people around us and hopefully for future generations that we are going to leave this world to. Source

[Category: News, 2022 Election, Congress, House of Representatives, Huwaida Arraf, Israel, Palestine, Top Headlines, US Politics, wire]

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[l] at 1/25/22 12:15pm
The spate of violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, culminating last week in killings of older men that drew the attention of MSNBC and the New York Times, a settler attack on activists planting saplings, and the nighttime eviction of Palestinians from a Jerusalem home Israel then demolished, is clearly undermining U.S. public support for Israel, including among Jews. And today there are cracks in the firewall that the Israel lobby maintains against any political criticism of Israel here. Seven establishment Jewish groups today sent a letter to Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett saying Enoughs enough, take action against settler violence; you are undermining Israels image and relations with the U.S. government. I.e., we cant do our job of selling Israel in the U.S. with this sort of publicity. The major Jewish organizations include the Anti-Defamation League and Israel Policy Forum and National Council of Jewish Women and Union for Reform Judaism, but not liberal Zionist groups. Excerpt: attacks by Israelis have been steadily increasing and intensifying over the past year, and as pro-Israel Jewish organizations, we are deeply concerned by these trends and request that you address them. These attacks serve as an affront to Israel’s rule of law, to Israeli democracy, and to Jewish values, while undermining Israel’s image and relations with the United States government, American people, and American Jewry. They make it more difficult to appreciate Israel’s legitimate and ongoing security needs and efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The letter is being covered by the Israeli press but not by the American press, which avoids covering the Israel lobby. The Times of Israel notes that the letter respectfully avoids using the word settler' while speaking of “Jewish Israeli extremists.” I think that is so as to gain more traction with the Israeli government. After an Israeli government minister discussed settler violence with an American diplomat last month, Bennett distanced himself from the minister and he needed 24-hour security from threats. The ADL/Israel Policy Forum letter is of a piece with a Saturday twitter rant from Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of the liberal Zionist group J Street, about a horrific week in Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. Ben-Ami wrote to honor the memory of two elderly Palestinian protesters killed by Israel and cited the MSNBC report on one of those killings. He also wrote in the name of the Salhiya family evicted from that Jerusalem home and in the name of Palestinian schoolchildren subject to harassment and raids on a continual basis. J Street knows that progressive Democrats are alarmed by these stories, and it needs to look like it is doing something besides supporting $4 billion a year in military aid to Israel. The occupation threatens the legitimacy and place of the state of Israel. Though all Ben-Ami has to offer is, Its time for the U.S. to take steps to establish a Palestinian state. (Spoiler alert: nothing will happen.) J Street and Israel Policy Forum represent different chambers of the Israel lobby. IPF is center-liberal, J Steet is liberal. Still, these are significant statements because the Democratic Party Israel lobby understands that its own rank and file, American Jews, are growing impatient with the scenes of never-ending violent expansion of the Jewish state. In his rant, Jeremy Ben-Ami repeatedly rejected the Palestinian answer to atrocities BDS and signed off with a tweet that suggested that the problem is How American Zionists feel, and not what is happening to a persecuted population: Whew. OK, so the occasional rant on Twitter does feel good. And now I can sign off again for many months, I hope. As if Israeli atrocities will stop for those many months. Source

[Category: News, Anti-Defamation League, Israel Lobby, Israel Policy Forum, Jeremy Ben-Ami, liberal Zionism, settler violence]

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[l] at 1/25/22 9:07am
THE STATE OF ISRAEL VS. THE JEWSby Sylvain Cypel360 pp. Other Press. $27.99 The iconic comedian Lenny Bruce had a bit contrasting what is considered “Jewish” and “goyish” that a friend and I would often riff on as Jewish socialists: “Socialism is Jewish, but Zionism is painfully goyish.” We were juxtaposing the internationalist, universalist yearnings for justice of the former with the racist, deeply European nationalism of the latter. The State of Israel, by Sylvain Cypel. Other Press. 2021. At its core, for better and for worse, Sylvain Cypel’s The State of Israel Vs. The Jews is a 300 page extended version of my friend’s joke, without the laughs. Cypel casts a light on the bitter conflict between the deeply nationalist, “forceful” Israeli Jews and the progressive Jews who still claim inspiration from those universalist values in both Israel and the United States.  In the book’s Introduction, Cypel goes in depth to describe the pre-Holocaust Jewish community’s affinities for Bundism and socialism- both as a means for liberation against antisemitism and in favor of values of social justice that have historically been inherent in the Jewish tradition. With the tragic extinguishment of Jewish bodies and ideologies during the horrors of the Shoah and Stalinism, the Israeli state was built, strengthened, and Zionist hegemony within the global Jewish community was established, which, as viewed by Cypel’s father Jacques, constituted a “victory”: a State of Israel as a real, tangible measure of security and accomplishment for a once-deeply oppressed people. However, all is far from kosher in the self-proclaimed “Jewish” state. Cypel explores how, during his time living in Israel back in the 1960s, the Israeli Jews treatment towards the indigenous Palestinian Arabs mirrored eerily that of the genocidal French regime’s towards the Algerian Arabs: it was a “colonial” attitude that “astonished” him. He then describes his ensuing revelatory process that Israel’s expulsion of the Palestinian people during the Nakba was “deliberately brutal.” And post-1967, Cypel decries Israel as metamorphosing into “something no idealist could stomach: a racist, bullying little superpower”- a degradation he regards as largely complete by the time of this book’s publication in France in 2020 and in the United States, Fall 2021. After such an introduction- both nuanced in its depiction of the Jewish people and filled with insightful, incisive, forensically-cited moral outrage to Zionism’s apartheidesque colonization of Palestine, this book’s virtues hardly end. Cypel astutely articulates the unique aspects of Israel’s cruelty towards the Palestinians: “It’s true that the occupation has never reached the levels of terror inflicted upon [Syria and Yemen], but three factors make it particularly oppressive: its initial basis (expelling people from their land by force); its long duration (seventy-plus years since that expulsion, fifty years of military occupation over most of those people); and finally, its modalities (the slow, but steady confiscation of land, the seizure of resources, the occupying authorities’ deliberate policy of making Palestinians daily lives unbearable in hopes of making them eventually leave).” Frankly, in and of itself, this single (long) sentence justifies the whole book and makes it great.  Additionally, the titular conflict of the book is explored in a truly multifaceted manner. Cypel hopefully praises the phenomenon of growing American Jewish opposition to Netanyahu and the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, as well as the building of anti-Zionist sentiment in groups like Jewish Voice for Peace. Furthermore, he also depicts not only the dissident activism of Israeli Jews in groups like Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem- but the Israeli security state suppressing said dissent, sacrificing integral civil liberties and, with the same legal and physical instruments weaponized against the Palestinians, harming Jews in the name of “national security.”  Sylvain Cypel, from Other Press In addressing one aspect of his premise, Cypel manages to achieve something rather special: the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has led to the growth of a massive military industrial- securitization complex within Israel- alongside, perhaps counterintuitively, fostering enormous internal trepidation over the long-term untenability of Zionism’s dominance over the Palestinians it has oppressed for such duration. That dominance has created for the Israelis an existence predicated on perpetual fear against a people they have colonized for merely having the temerity to live within their historic homeland, which in turn justifies them committing disproportionate and awe-generating violence against the Palestinians: Cypel notes in his introduction, “there are the deaths: 10 on one side, one on the other.” Since 2010, that figure is around 23 to one. He also quotes Haaretz journalist Amira Hass, who compares Israel’s wanton violence to an entire country undergoing the infamous Milgram obedience experiment, in which the Israelis, who largely approve or tolerate their government’s oppression of the Palestinians, are the true guinea pigs. Few could encapsulate this reality as well as the recently departed Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “my concern is also what the Israelis are doing to themselves- they are not aware that when you carry out dehumanizing policies, those policies dehumanize the perpetrator.” Such is the moral and spiritual decay to which Israel subjects its own Jewish population.  And yes, Bubbe- yes Zaydie: it is “bad for the Jews.”  Cypels lament for Jewish values bizarrely parallels a chapter of one of my favorite novels, James Joyces Ulysses, when Leopold Bloom, the half-Jewish protagonist, gets into an argument in a Dublin bar with an antisemite who excoriates Jews for their alleged weakness. Bloom counters the bigotry by praising the Jewish mentality. “There’s no use for that. . .Force, hatred, history, all that. Thats not life for men and women, insult and hatred. . .And everybody knows that its the very opposite of that that is really life. Love, says Bloom. I mean the opposite of hatred” and goes on to describe the Jewish intellectual and spiritual traditions, from Jesus Christ to Karl Marx, that have shaped the modern world in greatness and compassion. Cypel showcases a parallel battle, between Jews who see themselves, more or less, like Bloom and those who support the state of Israels colonization of the Palestinians. The Israeli state shares an eerie commonality with the antisemite in Ulysses: a rabid nationalism that desires destruction of those great traditions. Cypel’s depth and breadth in relaying the grim reality of Israeli apartheid and its ominous effects for the global Jewish community results in this work being great- and even essential- but it cannot be declared flawless. Subtlety can be a virtue, but the egregiousness of the Palestinian plight coupled with the supreme complicity of the Western media and political establishment renders boldness an imperative. Sadly, there are times that Cypel loses his moral clarity. For instance, the Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy is quoted for sarcastically embracing the anti-Arab piece of legislation, the Jewish Nation State Law of 2018, as officializing an always-present oppression. Cypel critiques Levy, positing that the law “enshrines the triumph of ethnocracy.” Virtually in the same breath, Cypel notes that “the new law doesn’t change much before its passage”: indeed, ethnocracy already appeared quite irrevocably “enshrine[d].” Well, which is it? One of the most important chapters in Cypel’s book is entitled “Pissing from the Diving Board. This is an Israeli idiom meaning to engage in uncouth behavior in a brazen manner rather than merely urinating in the pool while swimming. Cypel uses it to make a case that during the Nakba, Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians was hidden and a subject to shame, while now, during the ethnic cleansing of Al-Naqab and Sheikh Jarrah, the racism is publicly embraced. However, as to moral clarity, there remains an obvious question: if the Palestinians are enduring atrocities either way- and have been for well over seven decades at the hands of Zionism, as Cypel documents What does it matter to them that it’s from the diving board? Cypel also makes a point to contrast the American Jewish community, which he argues is more liberal and open to dissent, with the far more conservative French Jewish community. Although he praises the former for standing up to Netanyahu’s outright anti-Palestinianism, he scarcely investigates the contradictions of the particular actors he mentions. For instance, right alongside the anti-Zionist, pro-BDS group Jewish Voice for Peace, Cypel lauds the liberal Zionist group J Street for helming a trip, entitled Let My People Know, to occupied Hebron for young Jews. He doesn’t bother to mention that J Street has strong ties to the Zionist regime that Cypel does such an excellent job of demonstrating commits the crime of apartheid against the Palestinians. J Street has introduced U.S. congressmembers to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who is expanding West Bank settlements and illegally evicting Palestinians, and it has thrown internationally-respected Palestinian human rights organizations under the bus after the regime accused them, without disclosing evidence, of “terrorism.” Unsurprisingly, J Street altogether denies the nature of Israel constituting an apartheid regime, in contrast to much of the Israeli human rights community. To illustrate the American Jewish community’s more open nature vis-a-vis the French, Cypel notes how many American Jews and American Jewish organizations are uncomfortable with laws being enacted against BDS Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions- while French Jews and their rather monopolistic organizational body are almost unanimously in favor. Nevertheless, when Israel’s crimes are as many and flagrant as they are, if one is actually a genuine progressive humanitarian, then the option is not merely to stand neutral on a moving train (to use the words of the great Jewish, pro-Palestine progressive Howard Zinn) but to actively favor BDS, which as Cypel does acknowledge, feels like a last resort for that community. This is not to say that there haven’t been pro-Palestine developments in the American Jewish community that are worth celebrating, but Cypels analysis of the anti-Netanyahu wing of Jewish life paints the picture of a virtuous broad tent united in their opposition to racism. Instead, what actually exists is a hodgepodge of intercommunal bickering, toothless fingerwagging, and hand-wringing and this against an ever growing backdrop of Jewish only roads, deliberate bombings of civilian infrastructure and Associated Press offices, siege warfare, home demolitions and colonial settlements, to cite just a handful of the atrocities meticulously outlined in this book to which Israel has subjected the Palestinians. Cypels nuanced, albeit still positive, take on the Palestinian-led BDS campaign, includes his description of its “track record” as “spotty.” He does not apply that tenor to Jewish Zionist organizations that while opposing Netanyahu specifically, carry water for an apartheid regime- and for Zionism, an ideology that he repeatedly implies, if not outright states, is, was and always has been fundamentally colonialist and racist. This illustrates the book’s biggest shortcoming: it rarely treats the Palestinian and Arab people as autonomous political actors in their own right for the necessity of their own freedom vis a vis Israeli and Diaspora Jews, even if all they do barely parses what could be considered the bare minimum. While the Jews who reject and resist Israel’s apartheid most certainly deserve praise and credit, then why don’t the Palestinians? Regrettably, the Palestinians’ dimension and contours as a people are left fairly unexamined in this work. As a particularly interesting example, while there is a whole chapter rightfully excoriating Netanyahu for revising the Holocaust to blame in a bold faced lie the (deeply antisemitic and reactionary, but, at the time, exiled) Grand Mufti Amin Al-Huseyni for inspiring Hitler to instigate the Holocaust in 1941 (Jews were already being sent to death camps at that point), Cypel doesn’t note that, according to a recent Tel Aviv University analysis, around 14,000 Palestinian Arabs fought with the British against Nazism and, as Gilbert Achcar writes, the Arab people as a whole fought far more with the British than the Nazis. Cypel seldom mentions any Palestinian organizing of any kind in favor of the liberation of their people, other than describing Palestinian people collectively as “divided,” offering that mixed analysis on BDS, and briefly mentioning Hamas’ actions during June of 2021 in the conclusion of the book. Sadly, this has the effect of unintentionally rendering the Palestinian people closer to a backdrop in a story of their oppression- objects of liberal charity- rather than fully fledged human beings with their own nationalisms, desires, hopes, fears and dreams. It is a glaring blind spot that perhaps is a microcosm of the progressive liberal Jewish communitys tragic flaw: their egotism. I swear, someone should bake some psilocybin cubensis into the challah at these synagogues maybe that would change this attitude.   While The State of Israel Vs. The Jews is hardly a perfect work, it is a great one for its overarching lesson. As Cypel amply demonstrates, while it may have a “Jewish” ethno-religious majority, the State of Israel’s meanspirited, draconian brutalization of the Palestinian people constitutes a parodic blaspheme of Judaism’s highest intellectual, spiritual, and moral values, in a manner that harms both Palestinians and Jews. Towards the end of the book, Cypel includes a quote of Jewish scholar of religion and Berkley Professor of the Culture of the Talmud, Daniel Boyarin, “more piercing to me is the pain of watching a tradition, my Judaism, to which I have dedicated my life, disintegrating before my eyes. . .It has been said by many Christians that Christianity died at Auschwitz, Treblinka and Sobibor. I fear- God forbid- that my Judaism may be dying at Nablus, Dheisheh, Betein [Beit El] or El Khalil [Hebron].” Ultimately, Cypel succeeds in showing that the Judaism of Boyarin and Leopold Bloom still lives; if it continues to do so, or even flourishes, he will deserve some credit. See Robert Herbst review of this book. Source

[Category: Culture, Apartheid, book review, J Street, Jewish Voice for Peace, Reviews, Sylvain Cypel, US Jewish community]

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[l] at 1/25/22 8:24am
“Is the power on?” I wake up and uncover my head in the cold of winter and check to see if the lamp is on. If it is I’ll decide whether to have some toasted bread, or maybe a hot shower, or explore some news and social media while plugging in an electric fireplace. This would be a good start to the day. But others who have nothing to wake up for, like the many unemployed young people in Gaza, are likely to prefer to stay warm in bed. For the past few days, it has been raining cats and dogs here in Gaza. Life is mostly paralyzed. On the first day of the cold wave which continued for three days, kids went to school in the storm. When they finished their day, the rain was getting heavier and the streets outside their schools flooded in some areas like Al-Rimal west of Gaza City. This is where the city infrastructure was targeted during the latest Israeli war and this rain was the first test. It didn’t pass. The water on the street was almost 50-60 cm deep as the primary school students gathered in front of the large school doors. Little boys were watching the rain all day from the windows of their classes, which were very warm due to the huge number of students crammed into the small space. They also wore their warmest clothes, some have scarves over their heads like a keffiyeh, and others held umbrellas in case the rain somehow got inside. But no one expected the size of the flood waves they would encounter on their way back home. You might wonder why do streets flood every winter in Gaza, every year worse than the last? The reason is the municipality can’t afford to repair the infrastructures in all areas in Gaza, unless a foreign project funds it. And even if the municipality were able to afford repairs, it wouldn’t be able to keep up with the new destruction. The large areas Israel has targeted in the last four wars  – like Al-Shujaiyya and Al-Rimal – have been too much to maintain. This is the main reason floods in Gaza continue and get worse.  The municipality tried to patch the roads up but failed. Winter turns most side and main streets in Gaza into a pool, temporarily. And the roads aren’t the worst part. In other places like the refugee camps, the flood may reach into some houses. But still if you want to get home you have to wade through the streets to reach the other side. Sometimes, it is easier, and more comfortable to get a ride. Palestinian civil defense volunteers ride a boat across flood waters in Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip following rain storms, on January 16, 2022. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images) In Gaza there are general taxis which travel the road asking everyone waiting for a taxi for their destinations. If a passenger’s destination is on the driver’s route, he will take them. This means you are often driving slowly in a small car looking for riders until the car is full. In doing this you end up meeting all sorts of people in taxis, and you get a special look into the lives of people in Gaza.  I will tell you a story I heard today while I was getting back home in a car. I was sitting in the front seat, heading east to Al-Shujaiyya. The driver was hunting for passengers on his route, and one family was standing at the side of the road, kneeling a little bit to see the driver from the window of the car. The man shouts: “Al-Saha!” which is a square in the middle of Omar Moktar street. Happily the driver parks and a father carries his little boy, alongside his wife who holds two little girls, apparently, they’re going home. The father with the boy on his lap are right in my back, and I am forced to listen to them because everyone in the car listens. The boy was naughty asking his father to get him a phone, of course not for calls but for the games he can play on it. “Just like the one Omer has!” The boy has almost won over his fathers heart when the father tries to escape. “But it’s not for Omer, it’s for his mother. Does he bring it to school?” the father asks. The boy answers: “No.” See? the father responds, who just found a good way to distract the boys desire. He holds his sons head and surrounds him with his hands. “Get your moms phone when you’re home and play, and I will get you a phone when you grow up,” the father says, winning his sons patience for now. You can hear every dialogue that happens in Gaza in these cars because everyone uses them move in the Strip. In fact, some people see their fellow car passengers as an audience. Some start talking or asking people questions, while others share how hard their lives are, and how they have missed opportunities, or the struggles their family faces. Life in the Gaza Strip moves slowly but firmly in a direction where everyday human needs are missing, or just out of reach. In this blockade it is very hard to meet lifes demands. People struggle within extreme limits just to live; to feed themselves and their families. The siege makes Palestinians feel like an ice piece under the sun.  BEFORE YOU GO – Stories like the one you just read are the result of years of efforts by campaigners and media like us who support them by getting the word out, slowly but doggedly.That's no accident. Our work has helped create breakthroughs in how the general public understands the Palestinian freedom struggle.Mondoweiss plays a key role in helping to shift the narrative around Palestine. Will you give so we can keep telling the stories in 2022 that will be changing the world in 2023, 2025 and 2030?Donate today Source

[Category: Newsletters, Gaza, Palestine Letter]

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[l] at 1/25/22 7:12am
Editors Note: Welcome to the first installment of Palestine Letter, our new email newsletter where our Palestine-based correspondents will share a behind-the-scenes look at life and work under Israeli occupation. You can sign up for this twice-a-month newsletter here. “Is the power on?” I wake up and uncover my head in the cold of winter and check to see if the lamp is on. If it is I’ll decide whether to have some toasted bread, or maybe a hot shower, or explore some news and social media while plugging in an electric fireplace. This would be a good start to the day. But others who have nothing to wake up for, like the many unemployed young people in Gaza, are likely to prefer to stay warm in bed. For the past few days, it has been raining cats and dogs here in Gaza. Life is mostly paralyzed. On the first day of the cold wave which continued for three days, kids went to school in the storm. When they finished their day, the rain was getting heavier and the streets outside their schools flooded in some areas like Al-Rimal west of Gaza City. This is where the city infrastructure was targeted during the latest Israeli war and this rain was the first test. It didn’t pass. The water on the street was almost 50-60 cm deep as the primary school students gathered in front of the large school doors. Little boys were watching the rain all day from the windows of their classes, which were very warm due to the huge number of students crammed into the small space. They also wore their warmest clothes, some have scarves over their heads like a keffiyeh, and others held umbrellas in case the rain somehow got inside. But no one expected the size of the flood waves they would encounter on their way back home. You might wonder – why do streets flood every winter in Gaza, every year worse than the last? The reason is the municipality can’t afford to repair the infrastructures in all areas in Gaza, unless a foreign project funds it. And even if the municipality were able to afford repairs, it wouldn’t be able to keep up with the new destruction. The large areas Israel has targeted in the last four wars  – like Al-Shuja’iyya and Al-Rimal – have been too much to maintain. This is the main reason floods in Gaza continue and get worse.  The municipality tried to patch the roads up but failed. Winter turns most side and main streets in Gaza into a pool, temporarily. And the roads aren’t the worst part. In other places like the refugee camps, the flood may reach into some houses. But still if you want to get home you have to wade through the streets to reach the other side. Sometimes, it is easier, and more comfortable to get a ride. Palestinian civil defense volunteers ride a boat across flood waters in Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip following rain storms, on January 16, 2022. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images) In Gaza there are general taxis which travel the road asking everyone waiting for a taxi for their destinations. If a passenger’s destination is on the driver’s route, he will take them. This means you are often driving slowly in a small car looking for riders until the car is full. In doing this you end up meeting all sorts of people in taxis, and you get a special look into the lives of people in Gaza.  I will tell you a story I heard today while I was getting back home in a car. I was sitting in the front seat, heading east to Al-Shuja’iyya. The driver was hunting for passengers on his route, and one family was standing at the side of the road, kneeling a little bit to see the driver from the window of the car. The man shouts: “Al-Saha!” which is a square in the middle of Omar Moktar street. Happily the driver parks and a father carries his little boy, alongside his wife who holds two little girls, apparently, they’re going home. The father with the boy on his lap are right in my back, and I am forced to listen to them because everyone in the car listens. The boy was naughty asking his father to get him a phone, of course not for calls but for the games he can play on it. “Just like the one Omer has!” The boy has almost won over his father’s heart when the father tries to escape. “But it’s not for Omer, it’s for his mother. Does he bring it to school?” the father asks. The boy answers: “No.” “See?” the father responds, who just found a good way to distract the boy’s desire. He holds his son’s head and surrounds him with his hands. “Get your mom’s phone when you’re home and play, and I will get you a phone when you grow up,” the father says, winning his son’s patience for now. You can hear every dialogue that happens in Gaza in these cars because everyone uses them move in the Strip. In fact, some people see their fellow car passengers as an audience. Some start talking or asking people questions, while others share how hard their lives are, and how they have missed opportunities, or the struggles their family faces. Life in the Gaza Strip moves slowly but firmly in a direction where everyday human needs are missing, or just out of reach. In this blockade it is very hard to meet life’s demands. People struggle within extreme limits just to live; to feed themselves and their families. The siege makes Palestinians feel like a piece of ice under the sun.  Source

[Category: Opinion, Gaza, Top Headlines]

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[l] at 1/24/22 11:55am
At 7:00pm local time on Tuesday January 18th, the Israeli army initiated an attack on Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, Palestine. The attack, lasting 20 minutes according to eyewitnesses, was after dark, in empty streets and unprovoked, launched from a military base that overlooks the camp.  It impacted Lajee Center, a youth and community organization that houses a kindergarten, a hydroponics garden, a library, and more and that is located near the military base. The hydroponics vegetable farm on the roof of the building was damaged, with 1,000 seedlings destroyed. The childrens playground adjoining the newly opened kindergarten was also damaged. Since the weather was cold, windows were closed and people inside the nearby houses were not physically harmed, but dense clouds of tear gas settled around the houses and streets in the lower elevations of the camp.  Tear gas clouds cover the Aida Camp following an Israeli raid on January 18th, 2021. (Video: Lajee Center) The next morning, staff and volunteers of Lajee Center assessed the damage and collected over 150 spent canisters in and around the building. Canisters can also burn surfaces where they settle. Burn marks scarred the street and the ground in many places. Asked what could have provoked this attack, staff members of Lajee Center could only conjecture. According to those who saw military vehicles approaching, the canister launchers appeared to be a new model. Perhaps they were testing this new equipment? Perhaps this was a collective punishment for some transgression remote in time and place? Perhaps it was bored soldiers doing this for fun? Or perhaps it was just another reminder of who is the boss. There is no definitive explanation for motive since the Israeli army feels under no obligation to provide one. Asked about the hydroponics unit, Shatha Al-Azzah, director of the health and environmental programs at the Lajee Center, says that the rooftop farm, established in 2021, serves about 120 families, 800 people altogether, providing them with fruit and vegetables.  Wilted tomato vines after the attack. (Photo: Lajee Center)Lajee Center volunteers asses the damage done to the hydroponic garden after the Israeli attack. Some of the vegetables affected by the attack. (Photo: Lajee Center) There is no open space in the dense and congested camp established by the United Nations following the Nakba (Catastrophe) that drove 750,000 people from their homes at the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. In Aida Camp alone, more than 70 years later, families from 27 destroyed and evacuated villages remain in the camp as refugees.  In addition to feeding the families, the farm offers an opportunity for an older generation knowledgeable in raising crops to work with younger generations keen to adopt this new technique that uses 70% less water than traditional methods of raising garden produce. The range of crops, including tomato, parsley, mints, lettuce, strawberry, and onions, all 100% chemical-free and organic, has been developed in conjunction with Lajees community health program to encourage healthier diets. Surveying the burned plastic roof canopy and shriveled plants, Shatha says the system has to be thoroughly cleaned out to remove all traces of the toxic gas, which settled as dust on the ground, pools, and leaves of the garden. A new thick plastic shield needs to be put up, and around that a protective network to keep tear gas canisters from reaching the plastic. Then will come the replanting. Within a week or two she hopes to have planted new crops. The kindergarten, Zahrat Al-Yasmeen (Jasmine Flower) School, opened last year to 50 students aged 4 to 6 in two classes. The curriculum is based loosely on the Reggio Emilia philosophy with particular attention paid to children raised in an environment of continuing stress and trauma. Included in the student cohort are children with physical and cognitive challenges, who are fully integrated into the activities of the school, guided by teachers with special training. The school has been a great success in the community, generating happy students and happy parents. The classrooms themselves, as in any school, have been designed to be bright and airy with as much natural light and air as possible, and access to the outdoor playground. Anticipating the sort of attack that happened last Tuesday however, doors, windows, roller shutters, and ventilation have been designed to quickly close down and save the children from harm. The playground itself is harder to protect. Work will have to be done to repair or replace the shade canopies. Protocols will be rehearsed again and again, to ensure students can be brought quickly to safety. Families of the camp are used to the dangers of life under occupation. The day after the attack, all of the families sent their children to the kindergarten. Both the kindergarten and the hydroponics garden are supported by 1for3.org, a Boston based organization working to advocate and build toward health, environment, and educational opportunities for Palestinian refugees. Working with Lajee Center, both organizations seek to nurture community strengths across multiple generations in the face of many threats from the occupation. Executive director Nidal Al-Azraq commented, “Our partners in Palestine are working on rebuilding as we speak, and this is an expression of Palestinian steadfastness and determination.” The incident on Tuesday is not an isolated case. According to a 2017 report from the Human Rights Center of the School of Law at UC Berkeley, Aida Camp is among the most intensely tear gassed places on earth.  Remnants of the tear gas fired by Israeli forces at the Lajee Center. (Photos: Lajee Center) Not only in Aida but throughout the West Bank and Gaza and even in Israel proper, the Israeli army and police have used tear gas and skunk water, a vile liquid smelling of feces and putrefaction, to enforce the order of Occupation, liberally and over many years.  Most of the tear gas is manufactured in the United States by companies such as Combined Systems Inc. and Federal Laboratories, both located in Pennsylvania, and there are many others.  Tear gas, CS gas, and their variants are classified as non-lethal weapons, although many deaths have been caused by this material. In 2014, Noha Qatamish, age 40, was suffocated by tear gas in her home in Aida Camp. The regulation of tear gas has been weak in form, ineffectual in practice. In the 1990s, the international Chemical Weapons Convention banned the use of tear gas in war, but reserved the right for individual countries to use it within their own countries. In 1991, a lawsuit was filed by 61 plaintiffs against Federal Laboratories and its parent company, TransTechnology Inc. in California for the injury and death of eight Palestinians who died as a direct result of tear gas assaults. So far there have been no awards for death or injury caused by tear gas. Hubert MurrayHubert Murray, FAIA, is a Boston-based architect who has practiced in the U.S., Africa, Europe and the Middle East for over 40 years. He first visited Palestine during the second Intifada in 2002 and has recently helped develop a kindergarten in the Aida Refugee Camp. BEFORE YOU GO – Stories like the one you just read are the result of years of efforts by campaigners and media like us who support them by getting the word out, slowly but doggedly.That's no accident. Our work has helped create breakthroughs in how the general public understands the Palestinian freedom struggle.Mondoweiss plays a key role in helping to shift the narrative around Palestine. Will you give so we can keep telling the stories in 2022 that will be changing the world in 2023, 2025 and 2030?Donate today Source

[Category: News, Aida Refugee Camp, israeli army, Israeli occupation, night raid, occupied west bank, Tear Gas] [Link to media]

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[l] at 1/24/22 11:33am
1/16/22 While Israel continues to have a massive spike in Omicron infections, Palestinian citizens of Israel have the highest rates of infection and low rates of testing. Palestinians married to Israeli citizens and legal residents of Israel are often unable to download the Health Ministrys Green Pass, even when vaccinated in Israel, which severely limits their ability to access certain institutions such as gyms, hotels, and theaters.  In Gaza and the West Bank, the rates of increase were fairly flat last week but are now rising, currently at a third of previous peaks.  Severe cases and death rates remain low, which may be a better measure of the impact of the pandemic. Gaza continues to struggle with Israels blockade of needed diagnostic and medical devices, and oxygen concentrators; most of the X-ray machines, CT and MRIs, are malfunctioning. Only a little over 1/3 of the population in the occupied Palestinian territories are vaccinated and there is scarce reporting on booster rates which are likely low. The UNs Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports the pandemic has intensified an already stretched healthcare system, increasing poverty levels and humanitarian vulnerabilities.  Over 60% of households in the oPt report their monthly income has decreased as a result of COVID-19. The key drivers of the humanitarian crisis, combined with COVID-19, have deepened the vulnerability of Palestinians and in turn have increased the demand for humanitarian assistance across the oPt.  This trend is likely to continue in 2022. Overall, 2.1 million Palestinians, 1.3 million (63% of the population) in Gaza and 750,000 (23%) in the West Bank, will need humanitarian assistance in 2022.  Given the infectiousness of Omicron, we can expect a major spike in infection rates, if not rates of severe disease, in the oPt with Palestinian day workers traveling in and out of Israel, Palestinians in Israeli prisons, and settlers living in the West Bank being likely sources of infection. At the same time, given the low level of resources for testing and reporting both positive tests and accurate cause of death, a dramatic undercount is likely. To understand the pandemic in the oPt more fully, it may be necessary to examine the trend in overall death rates over previous years (excess deaths likely due to Covid and coronavirus-related delays or barriers to care), as well as the economic impact (people too ill to work but not seeking care and others unable to work because of exposures or caretaking responsibilities). January 10 Occupied territories According to the WHO, 27 Palestinians died of coronavirus in the past week, a downward trend since the most recent rise at the end of December and much lower than earlier peaks. WHO The Gaza Health Ministry urges the international community to press Israel to let in more medical equipment, since “We don’t have the ability” to deal with the wave of Omicron infections. In Ramallah, a spokesman for the Palestinian Health Ministry said there have been 291 new Omicron cases in the West Bank and Gaza combined so far this week (most of them in the West Bank), up from 49 last week. Haaretz January 11 Gaza Ministry of Health official stated that while the world is confronting the new variant “Omicron”, the Israeli occupation is hindering the entry of several diagnostic and medical devices that help to reinforce the health system in the enclave, which is on the doorstep of the fourth wave of COVID-19 new variant. The Ministry indicated that most of the x-ray machines, CT and MRI diagnostic radiology machines in Gaza’s hospitals, which are vital in diagnosing patients with cancer and strokes, are malfunctioning. MOH stressed the lack of oxygen-generating devices, which are important devices for ICU patients.we4gaza Some cases of Omicron infection have been reported in the Gaza Strip. The Health Ministry said that its fears lie in the recording of a large number of cases of the new COVID-19 mutation, which needs health care above the level of medical capabilities. The Ministry appealed to human rights and international organizations to intensify their pressure on the occupation to allow the entry of the necessary medical devices and equipment to confront the new mutation. In the West Bank, Palestinian Authority health officials have identified 23 cases of the Omicron variant. Neither the West Bank nor Gaza has yet seen a corresponding rise in active infections, however, which have hovered around 4,000 for the past few weeks. we4gaza January 11 Israel Palestinian citizens of Israel – more than 20% of Israels population – represent fewer than 10% of Israelis tested. As of January 10th, data from the Arab Emergency Committee, a panel of public health experts and public figures that was established at the beginning of the pandemic, pegged 22 Arab communities as “red” – the highest rate of infection – and another 21 just one notch lower at “orange.” This article in Haaretz attributes the low rate of testing to “apathy,” “skepticism,” and “lack of trust,” but also acknowledges the unrealistic expenses of establishing, staffing, and supplying testing centers for local authorities. Haaretz January 12 Occupied territories The Palestinian territories have so far registered nearly 300 cases of COVID-19s new variant. To contain its spread, authorities plan to step up the mass vaccination campaign and keep encouraging the masses to adhere to social distancing and personal hygiene. In Israel, the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is still grabbing headlines, with more than 30,000 new daily cases registered on the 11th. [The percent vaccinated in this report were very out of line from all other reports.] Sputnik News January 13 Israel Palestinians who are married to Israeli citizens and are legal residents of Israel are unable to download the Health Ministrys Green Pass, which certifies that they are vaccinated against the coronavirus or recovered from the virus. Health regulations require that members of the public show a proof of vaccination to gain admission to certain public places, including restaurants, mall food courts, museums, movie theaters and fitness centers. Many Palestinians reported difficulties in acquiring the Green Pass, even if they were vaccinated in Israel. The Health Ministry said in response that the matter is being dealt with, but affected Palestinians say the issue is persisting.  Haaretz January 14 Gaza Ministry of Health date reveal in the last 24 hours: Recovered cases – 130, total cases: 188,488 Active cases 1,268 Deaths – 0, total 1,729 Vaccinations – total doses received in Gaza: 1,957,960, total number of vaccinated citizens: 553,823 Total cumulative cases in the occupied territories: 474,234 per WHO MOH twitter January 14 Occupied territoriesReuters tracked 48 COVID infections per 100,000 residents in oPt over the last week, or 13% of peak. Palestinian territories are reporting 324 new infections on average each day. There have been 474,762 infections and 5,007 coronavirus-related deaths reported in oPt since the pandemic began. At least 3,383,211 doses of vaccine have been administered in oPt so far. Assuming every person needs two doses, that’s enough to cover about 36.1% of the population. During the last week reported, Palestinian territories averaged 9,512 doses each day. At that rate, it will take a further 99 days to administer enough doses for another 10% of the population. Reuters January 14 Eastern Mediterranean regionA shocking increase of COVID-19 cases across the Eastern Mediterranean region has likely been caused by the Omicron variant, according to the World Health Organization. Despite a 13% decrease in COVID-19 related deaths, cases in the region surged by 89% in the first week of January. A total of 15 countries in the region have reported Omicron cases. This includes Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the UAE.Mandhari warned that preparations must now take place for the worst case scenario. The WHO has recommended that countries with reported Omicron cases should now work to increase levels of rapid diagnostic testing. Relatedly, the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip warned of the spread of Omicron amid a shortage of medical equipment.Middle East Monitor January 15 Occupied territories Eight people have died of coronavirus in Palestine in the last 24 hours as 332 new cases were confirmed today said the Ministry of Health. Its daily report on the pandemic in Palestine revealed that six of the deaths were recorded in the West Bank where 252 new cases were confirmed and 190 patients have recovered.Two people died in the Gaza Strip where 80 new cases were confirmed and 120 patients recovered.The Ministry said 93 corona patients are getting treatment in hospitals and corona centers in Palestine while 53 are in critical condition and are in intensive care, including 19 who are attached to ventilators.Review of MOH numbers over the past week reveals 0-4 deaths per day. The WAFA site reported 8 today. Johns Hopkins using WHO data noted 51 deaths in past week, which is lower than previous months. Ministry of Health WAFA                                                                          Johns Hopkins January 18 International WHO press conference on Covid 19 covering a wide range of topics, overview of international realities and responses. WHO January 19 Gaza This week between 0 and 3 people died per day from the coronavirus, bringing the total death rate to 1,734 with a total of 188,853 recoveries. Ministry of Health   January 21 Occupied territories Reuters reports that the average number of new infections reported in Palestinian territories has been consistently increasing for 12 days. Over the last week in oPt, 831 cases on average were reported each day, or 33% of peak. Palestinian territories have reported 480,583 infections and 5,042 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began. At least 3,425,379 doses of vaccines have been administered in oPt. Assuming every person needs two doses, that’s enough to cover about 36.6% of the population. During the last week reported, Palestinian territories averaged 3,012 doses each day. At that rate, it will take a further 312 days to administer enough doses for another 10% of the population. Since boosters are now widely recommended, the adequacy of this coverage shrinks accordingly. Reuters Minister of Health Mai Alkaila said today that 1,468 new cases of COVID-19, five deaths and 486 recoveries were registered in Palestine during the last 24 hours.In her daily report on the coronavirus pandemic, Alkaila said three deaths from COVID-19 were registered in the West Bank, while another two deaths were recorded in Gaza.A total of 7,835 COVID-19 tests were conducted during the reporting period. In the Gaza Strip, 356 coronavirus tests came out positive, while the West Bank had 1,112 new cases. No update was available from occupied East Jerusalem.The Health Minister said that in the West Bank, 88 patients of COVID-19 are currently hospitalized, of whom 58 are in intensive care, including 24 on ventilators.She pointed out that the recovery rate in Palestine has so far reached 97%, while active cases rose to 2%. Deaths stood at 1% of total infections.WAFA January 22 Occupied territories Two people have died of coronavirus in Palestine in the last 24 hours as 928 new cases were confirmed, today said the Ministry of Health.One person died in the West Bank where 750 new cases were recorded and 391 patients have recovered, and the second person who died was in the Gaza Strip where 178 new cases and 70 recoveries were recorded.The ministry said 92 Covid-19 patients are getting treatment in hospitals while 56 are critical in intensive care, including 23 who are attached to ventilators. WAFA The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, (OCHA) published a 2022 humanitarian overview of the occupied Palestinian territories. With respect to Covid-19, the impact of the pandemic has also intensified, with a third wave underway in Gaza and a fourth in the West Bank, burdening the already-stretched health-care system and increasing poverty levels. The pandemic is also intensifying needs and vulnerabilities, with 62% of households in the oPt reporting that their monthly income had decreased as a result of COVID-19.The key drivers of the humanitarian crisis combined with COVID-19, have deepened the vulnerability of Palestinians and in turn have increased the demand for humanitarian assistance across the oPt, a trend likely to continue in 2022. Overall, 2.1 million Palestinians, 1.3 million in Gaza and 750,000 in West Bank, will need assistance in 2022. Some 63% of all Gaza residents, and 23% of those in the West Bank require humanitarian assistance. OCHA BEFORE YOU GO – Stories like the one you just read are the result of years of efforts by campaigners and media like us who support them by getting the word out, slowly but doggedly.That's no accident. Our work has helped create breakthroughs in how the general public understands the Palestinian freedom struggle.Mondoweiss plays a key role in helping to shift the narrative around Palestine. Will you give so we can keep telling the stories in 2022 that will be changing the world in 2023, 2025 and 2030?Donate today Source

[Category: News, COVID-19, Gaza, omicron, Palestinian prisoners, World Health Organization]

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[l] at 1/24/22 7:14am
Last week a veteran Palestinian activist Suleiman al-Hathalin, 75, died after being run over in his occupied village Umm al-Khair by an Israeli truck two weeks earlier. MSNBC journalist Ali Velshi had met Hajj Suleiman two years earlier and on Saturday he did a 5-minute obituary for Suleiman honoring the mans spirit of resistance against enormities. It is a wonderful piece of journalism. It shows incredible compassion for a small Palestinian village encroached upon by colonizers supported by the U.S. All facts, very little emotion, but a ton of suppressed rage and by the end the listener is in tears over the nobility of a simple man who resisted occupation. The Israel lobby is going nuts over this report. CAMERA is smearing Velshi. J Street is siding with Velshi in its struggle to preserve the future of the Jewish state. Whats stunning about this report is that Palestinians are at last being humanized in mainstream media as grotesque atrocities continue to pile up. A day earlier, The New York Times covered the killing in the West Bank of Omer Abedelmajid Assad, 78, with the headline, Palestinian American died handcuffed in Israeli custody, Witnesses Say. The Timess Raja Abdulrahim reports that Assad just wanted to see his grandchildren in the States. These are remarkable pieces because the liberal media is seeing Palestinians as people deserving of equal rights, and the political consequences of that opening inside the U.S. establishment/Democratic Party are potentially huge. Heres an extended excerpt of Velshis report, in which he describes the illegal occupation of nearly 700,000 illegal settlers and their army, with the support of the U.S. government: You and your family live on land that youve owned for decades maybe even close to a century. You live a simple peaceful life in a small village with people whom youve known for as long as you can remember. And then seemingly out of nowhere a new group of people build their own village right on your villages land. Not as neighbors though. Rather they are intent on displacing and replacing you. They build their homes on your hands on your land with the sanction of the government and the protection of the military. Now theres barbed wire where your sheep used to graze. Now you live in the shadow literally of homes that look like they were transplanted from 21st century America to your rustic village. All while you and your fellow villagers lack basic necessities like land to grow food, water and electricity. Still, youd be one of the lucky ones, because your home humble as it may seem remains standing. And for now youre still allowed to live in it. Almost weekly you watch government forces demolish homes, confiscate property and arrest your neighbors. Thats whats happening right now to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. Its been happening for years. The West Bank was occupied by the Israeli army during the 1967 war. International law forbids countries from settling on lands that they occupy as a result of a conflict if theres no treaty or agreement in place about the transfer or control of that land. But Israel disputes that interpretation of international law and asserts its rights in the West Bank, actively promoting what the rest of the world sees as illegal settlements on land taken from Palestinians often with the support of the United States. All Palestinians in the occupied territories live under Israeli military rule. Even in those areas that are nominally under the political control of the Palestinian Authority. And Israel continues to confiscate what little Palestinian territory is left under false pretenses every year. Now according to the Palestinian bureau of statistics, as of 2019 more than 688,000 Israeli settlers live in 150 settlements, which are spread disruptively across the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The man right here is Al Haj Suleiman al-Hathaleen. Hes know locally in the South Hebron Hills as Haj Suleiman. He was a shepherd and a well-known anti-occupation activist. Suleiman was a small man with no weapons. He resisted the occupation through civil disobedience. When Israeli bulldozers destroyed the homes in his neighborhood, he stood in peaceful defiance with a Palestinian flag and his shepherd’s staff.[From fellow activists writing in 972] Every time we go to his home in Umm Al Khair he greets us with a cup of tea and a smile. Everyone in the South Hebron Hills knows him well especially the occupation. soldiers.I met Haj Suleiman on my last trip to Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank in the end of 2019. In this photograph [photo at top of this post] were standing right in front of the villages communal bread over. Just feet behind us an Israeli settlement encroaches on their livelihood. The new Israeli settlers did not appreciate the smoke that wafted from that bread oven into their settlement next door. So they sent the authorities to demolish one of the only food sources in the village. Israeli soldiers literally destroyed a bread oven to satisfy illegal settlers. But the harassment continues. The goal was and always is to get Palestinians to leave the land, allowing more Israeli settlers to populate it. It came to a head days ago. On the afternoon of January 5, Israeli forces entered Haj Suleiman’s village of Umm Al-Khair and began confiscating unregistered Palestinian cars. Haj Suleiman did what he had done for decades: he peacefully resisted. Then he was run over by an Israeli tow truck, under contract to the Israeli police. Haj Suleiman was on the ground, battered and bleeding. Israeli officials say Suleiman charged at the truck. Witnesses say and there were many of them say otherwise. What happened next was the real tragedy. Witnesses say the tow truck driver and their police escort simply fled the rural village. They did not render aid to Haj Suleiman. They did not even call for an ambulance. The protester Al Haj Suleiman al-Hathaleen never emerged from his coma, and he died of his injuries this week. Suleiman was a man with little to his name, except for his land, his village, and his ability to stand up to an illegal occupation. This small man with just his words and his staff, was a thorn in the side of the Israeli occupation, because he had become a symbol of the resistance, and an emblem of the Israeli occupation. CAMERA has responded with vitriol, describing the report as grotesque propaganda that abandoned all pretense of real journalism. Velshi delivers a dishonest soliloquy of fabricated history of the West Bank that would have been more at home at his former employer, Al Jazeera, than an outlet that purports to offer real journalism. Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street responded with anguish over Velshis coverage of the killing, and called anew for a two-state solution so as to preserve the Jewish homeland that we gaze on from afar. It is time for Israel’s citizens, American supporters of Israel and the US government to face the reality of 55 years of occupation and take steps to establish a state of Palestine alongside Israel (perhaps in confederation) and bring this conflict to an end, Ben-Ami writes, and says, I respond in the name of and to honor the memory of Suleiman al-Hatalin, a 75-year old Palestinian, while repeatedly disavowing the Palestinian campaign of BDS, or boycott of Israel over human rights violations, which Haj Suleiman surely would have supported. h/t James North and Terry Weber. BEFORE YOU GO – Stories like the one you just read are the result of years of efforts by campaigners and media like us who support them by getting the word out, slowly but doggedly.That's no accident. Our work has helped create breakthroughs in how the general public understands the Palestinian freedom struggle.Mondoweiss plays a key role in helping to shift the narrative around Palestine. Will you give so we can keep telling the stories in 2022 that will be changing the world in 2023, 2025 and 2030?Donate today Source

[Category: Media Analysis, Ali Velshi, CAMERA, Hajj Suleiman, Israel Lobby, J Street, MSNBC, occupation, settlements, Top Headlines]

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