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New report documents ‘torture in the heart of Jerusalem’

Israeli security forces brutally arrest Palestinian protesters in West Bank [Issam Rimawi – Anadolu Agency]
MEMO | September 20, 2018

A new report by Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer claims that Israeli officials “routinely” carry out the “practice of torture” at a key interrogation facility in occupied East Jerusalem.

The report, “I’ve Been There: A Study of Torture and Inhumane Treatment in Al-Moscobiyeh Interrogation Centre”, is based on the testimonies of 138 individuals held in the Russian Compound of Jerusalem gathered during the period 2015-2017.

“For generations of Palestinians, the Russian Compound has represented the most severe interrogation facility in all of the occupied territory,” Addameer states.

“It has been the place of intentionally inflicted suffering for hundreds of prisoners. Its location in the heart of Jerusalem, next to the Old City, is something of a metaphor for the whole apparatus of the occupation. The domination is hidden in plain sight.”

According to the testimonies acquired by Addameer, eight forms of abuse were identified at the facility: positional torture such as “stress positions”; beatings during interrogation; isolation/solitary confinement, sleep deprivation and long interrogation, threats to family members, being subjected to sounds of torture, deliberate medical neglect, and screaming and cursing.

More than half of those surveyed reported being held in stress positions; one 18-year-old former prisoner was held in a stress position for eight hours a day, for 18 days. A third of prisoners reported being beaten, while a fifth of individuals were subjected to violent shaking.

Addameer noted that “children are no exception when it comes to mistreatment and intimidation”, with 47.8 per cent reporting “that they were beaten during their arrest”, 45.5 per cent experiencing positional torture during interrogation, and 40.9 per cent “threatened with the potentially injuring of their families if they did not cooperate”.

According to the rights group, “the primary conclusion that the above research and indicators provide is that mistreatment, and coercion, amounting to torture, are commonplace and systematic within the occupation’s interrogation systems”.

Addameer added that “as a result of torture’s status in international law, the international community has a distinct responsibility to take action to sanction the perpetrating entity”, urging “the international community to begin sanctioning the occupier for its crimes”.

Read also:

Palestinian man dies after Israel forces beat him at his home

September 20, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

Forget Putin, Trump is Acting in Every Way Like Netanyahu’s Manchurian Candidate

By Miko Peled | Mint Press News | September 15, 2018

In the months leading up to the 25th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, the U.S. has colluded with Israel in a string of policies and decisions that completely undermine the legitimacy of the agreement, not to mention Palestinian claims to justice, freedom and ultimately peace. As these policies unfold, one cannot help recalling the words of the great Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani, who said that talking with the Israelis is “a conversation between the sword and the neck.”

There is a clear common thread that binds several of the U.S. policies enacted by President Donald Trump since last December. Moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; pulling out of the Iran agreement; defunding UNRWA, and closing the PLO mission in D.C. all satisfy the objectives of the Israeli government while not benefiting the United States in the least. One might imagine that the United States is executing Israel’s policy, reading as it were from a menu that was provided by Benjamin Netanyahu. In fact, the Trump administration is every Israeli prime minister’s dream.

Jerusalem

Moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was reckless, dangerous and absurd. The occupation and annexation of Jerusalem by Israel was in violation of UN resolution 181 from November 1947, which states in “Part III, City of Jerusalem” that:

“The City of Jerusalem shall be established as a corpus separatum under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations. The Trusteeship Council shall be designated to discharge the responsibilities of the Administering Authority on behalf of the United Nations.”

Resolution 194 from December 1948 — in other words, more than a year after Resolution 181 was passed and the western half of Jerusalem was occupied and subjected to a total full ethnic cleansing, where not one Palestinian was permitted to remain — reiterates this:

8 | Resolves that, in view of its association with three world religions, the Jerusalem area, including the present municipality of Jerusalem plus the surrounding villages and towns, the most eastern of which shall be Abu Dis; the most southern, Bethlehem; the most western, Ein Karim (including also the built-up area of Motsa); and the most northern, Shu’fat, should be accorded special and separate treatment from the rest of Palestine and should be placed under effective United Nations control …

For this reason all diplomatic missions to Israel are situated in Tel Aviv and not Jerusalem. The diplomatic missions in Jerusalem mostly pre-date the establishment of the State of Israel and are considered sovereign and independent of their countries’ embassies in Tel Aviv. Even the U.S. consulate until recently reported directly to Washington, and the consul general was in fact an ambassador. This was not unlike placing the U.S. embassy to France in Berlin and — according to sources I spoke to at the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem — now that the ambassador’s office was moved to Jerusalem, the place is in a state of confusion and it is not at all clear who is responsible for what.

In addition to all of the above, the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel legitimizes the crime of ethnic cleansing and destruction which Israel has perpetrated in Jerusalem since 1948. This move did not benefit the U.S. in any way but it boosted Benjamin Netanyahu’s political power, and can be viewed as nothing less than a personal political gift from the president of the United States to Netanyahu.

Iran Deal

Israel, and Netanyahu, in particular, have been against the nuclear deal with Iran from the very beginning. Needing a diversion from its own war crimes and violations of international law, Israel has for many years pointed to Iran as a threat to itself and the rest of the world. This was a point of serious disagreement between the Obama administration and Israel and then Donald Trump put the disagreement to rest and the U.S. withdrew from the agreement.

According to a piece in Rand.com, Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement “despite a lack of evidence that Iran is violating the agreement. To the contrary, the International Atomic Energy Agency has verified Iran’s compliance numerous times.” The article continues by saying, “the implications of this decision could be disastrous for the Middle East under any conceivable scenario.”

piece in the British Independent bluntly claims that:

“The president’s foreign policy has so far been marked by a significant ratcheting of tensions with Iran, driven by his administration’s noted friendliness towards Israel, which opposes the [Iran nuclear] deal.”

According to a report from August 2018 by the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency:

“Since Implementation Day, the Agency has been verifying and monitoring the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA.” The report states that among other things:

“Since 16 January, 2016 [JCPOA Implementation Day], the Agency has verified and monitored Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments in accordance with the modalities set out in the JCPOA.”

The report states clearly that Iran was and continues to be compliant in all areas of the agreement. All the other countries that are signatories to the agreement remain committed to it, and they all insisted that a U.S. withdrawal was a mistake. Only one person insisted the U.S. must withdraw, and that is Benjamin Netanyahu, and he is the one person whose claims President Trump decided to accept. Once again, the United States had nothing to gain and everything to lose from the withdrawal and once again Netanyahu personally gained political strength as the sole voice to which the president of the United States listens.

UNRWA

The United States can see no benefit whatsoever in denying UNRWA funding; yet this is what the Trump administration decided to do. The very agency responsible for providing relief, albeit inadequate, to the refugees of Palestine was receiving $300 million per year, which is a drop in the bucket in terms of relief and of course in terms of the U.S. government’s total budget. In an open letter to Palestine refugees and UNRWA staff, dated September 1, 2018, Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA Commissioner-General, writes,

“The need for humanitarian action … in the case of Palestine refugees, was caused by forced displacement, dispossession, loss of homes and livelihoods, as well as by statelessness and occupation. … [T]he undeniable fact remains that they have rights under international law and represent a community of 5.4 million men, women and children who cannot simply be wished away.”

“The attempt to make UNRWA somehow responsible for perpetuating the crisis is disingenuous at best,” the commissioner said, responding to claims made by Netanyahu that “UNRWA is an organization that perpetuates the problem of the Palestinian refugees.” Netanyahu also stated that UNRWA “perpetuates the narrative of the so-called ‘right of return,’” which the state of Israel fears — and therefore, according to Netanyahu, “UNRWA must disappear.”

According to The New York Times, this move was pushed hard by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, “as part of a plan to compel Palestinian politicians to drop demands for many of those refugees to return.”  The right of the refugees to return is enshrined in UN Resolution 194, and one wonders why the U.S. should object to Palestinian demand for return of the refugees to their homes? Once again this is a gift to Netanyahu, who wants to see the refugee issue disappear.

PLO Mission

A product of the Oslo Accords, the PLO mission in Washington is the de-facto embassy of Palestine, the face and the voice of the Palestinian Authority in the U.S. Now, almost exactly on the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Accords, the Trump administration announces the closing of the mission. It could have come as no surprise when Netanyahu, who fiercely opposed the Accords, applauded the U.S. administration decision. This was yet one more insignificant step for the U.S., and one giant gift to Benjamin Netanyahu.

September 17, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A New Capital? Palestinians say Abu Dis is No Substitute for East Jerusalem

By Jonathon Cook | The National | September 11, 2018

From the offputting concrete edifice that confronts a visitor to Abu Dis, the significance of this West Bank town – past and present – is not immediately obvious.

The eight metre-high grey slabs of Israel’s separation wall silently attest to a divided land and a quarter-century of a failed Middle East peace process.

The entrance to Abu Dis could not be more disconcerting, given reports that Donald Trump’s administration intends it to be the capital of a future Palestinian state, in place of Jerusalem.

The wall, and the security cameras lining the top of it, are the legacy of battles for control of Jerusalem’s borders. Sections of concrete remain charred black by fires residents set years ago in the forlorn hope of weakening the structure and bringing it down.

Before the wall was erected more than a decade ago, Abu Dis had a spectacular view across the valley to Jerusalem’s Old City and the iconic golden-topped Dome of the Rock, less than three kilometres away. It was a few minutes’ drive – or an hour’s hike – to Al Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the reputed location of Jesus’s crucifixion.

Now, for many of the 13,000 inhabitants, Jerusalem might as well as be on another planet. They can no longer reach its holy places, markets, schools or hospitals.

Abu Dis, say its residents, is hemmed in on all sides – by Israel’s oppressive wall; by illegal Jewish settlements encroaching relentlessly on what is left of its lands; and by a large, Israeli-run landfill site that, according to experts, is a threat to human health.

The Palestinian authorities do not even control Abu Dis. The Israeli security cameras watch over it and armoured jeeps full of Israeli soldiers make forays at will into its crowded streets.

Perhaps fittingly, given the Palestinians’ current plight, Abu Dis feels more like it is being gradually turned into one wing of a dystopian open-air prison than a capital-in-waiting.

Abu Dis repackaged

Nonetheless, the town has been thrust into the spotlight. Rumours have intensified that US President Trump’s promised peace plan – what he terms the “deal of the century” – is nearing completion. His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been drafting it for more than a year.

Back in January Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, confirmed for the first time that the White House was leaning on him to accept Abu Dis as his capital.

The issue has become highly charged for Palestinians since May, when Mr Trump overturned decades of diplomatic consensus by moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

That appeared to overturn a once widely shared assumption that Israel would be required to withdraw from East Jerusalem, which it occupied in 1967, and allow the Palestinians to declare it their capital.

Instead Mr Kushner and his team appear to believe they can repackage Abu Dis, just outside the city limits, as a substitute capital.

How plausible is it that the Palestinians can accept a ghettoised, anonymous community like Abu Dis for such a pivotal role in their nation-building project?

Symbolic power

Ghassan Khatib, a former Palestinian cabinet minister, said Mr Trump would find no takers among the Palestinian leadership.

“A Palestinian state without Jerusalem as its capital simply won’t work. It’s not credible,” he said. “It’s not just Jerusalem’s religious and historic significance. It also has strategic, economic and geographic importance to Palestinians.”

The people of Abu Dis appear to feel the same way, with many pointing to Jerusalem’s enormous symbolic power, as well as the potential role of international tourism in developing the Palestinian economy.

Abu Dis, however, is unlikely ever to attract visitors, even should it get a dramatic makeover.

The approach road, skirting the massive settlement of Maale Adumim, home to 40,000 Jews, is adorned with red signs warning that it is dangerous for Israelis to enter the area.

The section of wall at the entrance to Abu Dis alludes to the residents’ growing anger and frustration – not only with Israel but some of their own leaders.

Artists have spray-painted a giant image of Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian resistance leader imprisoned by Israel for the past 16 years. It shows him lifting his handcuffed hands to make a V-for-victory sign.

But noticeably, next to him is a much smaller image of Mr Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, whose face has been painted out. He has come under mounting domestic criticism for maintaining Palestinian “security cooperation” with Israel’s occupation forces.

Resentment at such cooperation is felt especially keenly in Abu Dis. Large iron gates in the wall give the Israeli army ready access in and out of the town.

An orphaned town

Under the Oslo accords signed in the mid-1990s, all of Abu Dis was placed temporarily under Israeli military control, and most of it under Israel’s civil control also. That temporary status appears to have become permanent, leaving residents at the whim of hostile Israeli authorities who deny building permits and readily issue demolition orders.

The restrictions mean Abu Dis lacks most of the infrastructure one would associate with a city, let alone a capital.

Abdulwahab Sabbah, a local community activist, said: “We are now a small island of territory controlled by the Israeli army.

“Not only have we lost our schools, the hospitals we once used, our holy places, the job opportunities that the city offered. Families have been split apart too, unable to visit their relatives in Jerusalem.

“We have been orphaned. We have lost Jerusalem, our mother.”

A short drive into Abu Dis and the shell of a huge building comes into view, a reminder that the idea of an Abu Dis upgrade is not the Trump administration’s alone.

In fact, noted Mr Khatib, Israel began rebranding Abu Dis as a second “Al Quds” – the Holy City, the Arabic name for Jerusalem – in the late 1990s, after the Oslo agreement allowed Palestinian leaders to return to Gaza and limited parts of the West Bank.

The Palestinian leadership, desperate to get a foothold closer to the densely populated neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem, played along. They expected that Israel would eventually relinquish Abu Dis to full Palestinian control, allowing it to be annexed to East Jerusalem in a future peace deal.

View of al-Aqsa

In 1996 the Palestinians began work building a $4 million parliament on the side of Abu Dis closest to Jerusalem. The location was selected so that the office of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat would have a view of Al Aqsa.

Reports from that time talk of Abu Dis becoming a gateway, or “safe corridor”, for West Bank Palestinians to reach the mosque. One proposal was to build a tunnel between Abu Dis and the Old City.

However, with the outbreak of hostilities in 2000 – a Palestinian intifada – work on the parliament came to a halt. The interior was never finished, and there is now no view of Al Aqsa. The parliament too is sealed off from Jerusalem by the wall.

Since then Israel has barred the Palestinian Authority from having any role in East Jerusalem.

Khalil Erekat, a caretaker, holds the key to the unused parliament. Once visitors could inspect the building, including its glass-domed central chamber. Now, he said, only pigeons and the odd stray dog or snake ventured inside.

“No one comes any more,” he added. “The place has been forgotten.”

And that, it seems, is the way Palestinian officials would prefer it. With the Trump administration mooting the town as a substitute capital, the parliament is now an embarrassing white elephant.

Requests from The National to the Palestinian authorities to visit the building were rejected on the grounds that it was no longer structurally safe.

Eyesore ghetto

Evidence of how quickly Israel has transformed Abu Dis from a rural suburb of Jerusalem into an eyesore ghetto are evident in the homes around the parliament.

A once-palatial four-storey home next door would be more in place in war-ravaged Gaza than an impending capital. Its collapsed top floors sit precariously above the rest of the structure.

Mohammed Anati, a retired carpenter aged 64, is a tenant occupying the bottom floor with his wife and three sons.

He said the destruction was carried out by the Jerusalem municipality several years ago, apparently because the upper floors were built in violation of planning rules Israeli military authorities imposed after 1967.

Neighbours speculate that, in fact, Israel was more concerned that the top of the building provided views over the wall.

Mr Anati said that, paradoxically, the Jerusalem municipality treated this small neighbourhood next to the wall as within its jurisdiction. “We have to pay council taxes to Jerusalem even though we are cut off from the city and receive no services,” he said.

Asked whether he thought Abu Dis could be a Palestinian capital, Mr Anati scoffed. “Trump will offer us the worst deal of the century,” he said. “Jerusalem has to be the capital. There is nothing of Jerusalem here since Israel built the wall.”

Only pigeons still free

Nearby, Ghassan Abu Hillel’s two-storey home presses up against the grey slabs of concrete. He said cameras on the top of the wall monitored his and his neighbours’ activities around the clock.

His family moved to this house in 1967, when he was 14 years old, and shortly before Israel occupied Abu Dis, along with the rest of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Until the wall was constructed, he spent his time herding sheep and goats on the surrounding hills.

Now he has had to corral them into a corner of the wall. Their improvised pen is daubed with graffiti: “Take an axe to the prison wall. Escape.”

His herd of what was once more than 200 sheep is down to barely a dozen. The animals can no longer graze out on the hills, and he cannot afford the cost of feeding them.

Unlike Mr Abu Hillel and the sheep, his pigeons still enjoy their freedom. “They can fly over the wall and reach Jerusalem whenever they want,” he said.

His family owned much of the land surrounding Abu Dis before 1967, he added, but almost all of it had been taken by Israel – originally on the pretext that it was needed for military purposes.

Since then, Israel has built a series of Jewish settlements on the surrounding land, including Maale Adumim, Kfar Adumim and Kedar.

In the early 1980s it also opened a landfill site to cope with the region’s waste. In 2009 the United Nations warned that toxic fumes from waste-burning and leakage into the groundwater posed a threat to local inhabitants’ health.

A bluff from Israel

Some residents are actively finding ways to break out of the isolation imposed on Abu Dis by Israel.

Mr Sabbah is a founder of the Friendship Association, which encourages exchange programmes with European students, teachers and youth clubs. His most successful project is the twinning of Abu Dis with the London borough of Camden.

Mr Sabbah’s prominent political activities may be one reason why his home – along with the local mayor’s – was one of 10 invaded in the middle of the night on September 4.

The operation had the hallmarks of what former Israeli soldiers from the whistleblowing group Breaking the Silence have termed “establishing presence” – military training exercises designed to disrupt the lives of Palestinian communities and spread fear.

Mr Sabbah is sceptical that the Abu Dis proposal by the Trump administration has been made in good faith.

“It’s a bluff,” he said. “Israel has shown through all its actions that it does not want any Palestinian state – and that means no capital, even in Abu Dis.

“It is being offered only because Israel knows no Palestinian leader could ever accept it as a capital. And that way Israel can again blame us for being the ones to reject their version of ‘peace’.”

An oasis of normality

Amid its confinement, however, Abu Dis does have one asset – a university – that now attracts thousands of young Palestinians, though it adds to overcrowding.

The main campus of the Palestinian-run Al Quds university has been operating in Abu Dis since the 1980s.

Sitting on the crossroads between the Palestinian cities of Bethlehem and Nablus to the south, Jericho to the east, and Ramallah to the north, the Abu Dis campus has grown rapidly. It has profited from the fact that West Bank Palestinians cannot access another campus of Al Quds university in East Jerusalem.

The university is enclosed and security is tight. Inside, students enjoy spacious grounds with shaded gardens, a small oasis of normality where it is possible briefly to forget the situation outside.

Nonetheless, the university is not immune from Israeli military operations either. On September 5, soldiers shut down the campus and nearby schools, as they reportedly fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets at youths.

Omar Mahmoud, aged 23, a medical student from Nablus, raised his eyebrows at the suggestion that Abu Dis could serve as the Palestinians’ capital.

“It’s fully under Israeli control,” he said. “One side there is the wall and on the other side there are Israeli settlements. There are no services and it just gets more crowded by the year.”

He has shared an apartment with other students in Abu Dis for five years. He said: “To be honest, I can’t wait to get out of here.”

September 11, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paraguay cancels embassy move to Jerusalem, Israel responds by closing its embassy in Paraguay

RT | September 5, 2018

Paraguay will return its embassy in Israel to Tel Aviv, after the country’s previous government relocated it to Jerusalem in May. In a tit-for-tat response, Israel announced it would close its embassy in Paraguay.

National chancellor Luis Alberto Castiglioni announced the move on Wednesday, calling the decision by former President Horacio Cartes “visceral and without justification.” Cartes, a right-winger, made the decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem in May, and was present for its inauguration.

It was one of the last decisions Cartes made before President Mario Abdo Benitez took office last month, and followed the controversial decisions of the US and Guatemala to move their embassies to Jerusalem.

Benitez, the grandson of a Lebanese immigrant, said that he was not consulted about the move.

“Paraguay wants to contribute to an intensification of regional diplomatic efforts to achieve a broad, fair and lasting peace in the Middle East,” said Castiglioni on Wednesday.

The recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a controversial one. East Jerusalem has been claimed as the capital of the Palestinian state, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described the US embassy there as “an American settlement outpost in East Jerusalem.”

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki claimed on Wednesday that he pushed President Benitez to reverse the move to Jerusalem.

Israel responded to Paraguay’s decision by recalling its ambassador to Paraguay and closing its embassy in the Latin American country’s capital, Asuncion. Before the diplomatic spat erupted, the Israeli ambassador, Zeev Harel, had been meeting with the Paraguayan minister for education, discussing cooperation between the two countries.

September 5, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel approves plans to build military colleges in Jerusalem

MEMO | August 15, 2018

Israel’s Jerusalem Municipality Planning and Construction Committee has approved a plan to build military colleges on Palestinian land located in Ein Karem village, southwest of the holy city, Safa reported yesterday.

According to the news site, the Israeli Broadcasting Committee has said that the plan was approved despite strong opposition by the Franciscan Church and its followers who fear the construction will drown Mary’s Spring, which is a holy site for Christians.

Ein Karem is one of the largest and most important villages in Jerusalem. It lies along the highway that connects Jerusalem with Yaffa. Palestinians who inhabited the village were forced out of their homes during the 1948 Nakba.

Occupation forces continue to target Islamic and Christian sites in the occupied Palestinian lands through land expropriation and allocating areas as “military zones”.

August 15, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Israel sentences rights activist to 8 years in prison

Firas al-Omari
Palestine Information Center – July 9, 2018

NAZARETH – The Israeli Central Court in Beersheba sentenced on Sunday the rights activist Firas al-Omari, 46, to eight years imprisonment.

Al-Omari, from northern Israel’s Arab town of Sandala, is an activist in the Islamic Movement (the northern branch) and head of Yusuf Al-Siddiq Foundation for prisoners’ affairs.

He was arrested in March 2017 for being allegedly affiliated to a banned organization.

The Israeli security authorities have embarked on arresting activists from the northern branch of the Islamic Movement following the right-wing government’s decision to classify it as a banned group in November 2015.

The northern branch of the Islamic Movement and its members are known for peacefully defending Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque against Israel’s violations.

July 9, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel advances new law to allow residential construction in settler-run national park

MEMO | July 5, 2018

The Israeli parliament yesterday advanced a new law that would allow residential construction in the settler-run “City of David” national park in Silwan, occupied East Jerusalem.

According to Haaretz, the bill – which was backed by the Knesset’s Interior and Environment Committee in an 8-6 vote – will “enable housing to be erected in areas zoned for national parks within municipal boundaries”. The law must now be passed by the Knesset plenum in three votes.

The legislation is backed by the City of David Foundation, also known as Elad, a right-wing settler group that operates a so-called tourist site and archaeological dig in the heart of Silwan, a Palestinian neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem.

“If enacted,” Haaretz reports, “the law would enable homes to be built in the City of David national park.” Indeed, the paper adds, the Elad-run site “seems to be the only park in all of Israel that meets these [the draft bill’s] criteria for residential construction.”

According to the report, “the minutes of the committee’s previous meeting in January made it clear that Elad and its leader, David Beeri, are behind the bill, which is designed to promote construction at the site.”

Two Israeli groups opposed to settlements, Ir Amim and Emek Shaveh, “say the purpose of the bill is to reinstate a grandiose construction plan Elad had prepared, which had been shelved in the 1990s due to strong opposition,” Haaretz stated.

“Then Elad sought to build 200 housing units in the national park, and a plan to that effect was prepared, but shelved.”

“This isn’t the first time a monkey is being made of the law and common sense to advance the agenda of the Elad settlers,” said Aviv Tatarsky, a researcher with Ir Amim.

July 5, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

History and Biblical Scholarship: Al-Quds Is Not Jerusalem

By Dr. Elias Akleh | Global Research | July 3, 2018

The Zionist Israeli state calls on the Old Testament/Torah as a historical document to prove its legality to “re-claim” Palestine; their god’s promised land. To assert this legality and the myth of the promised land Zionist Organization, since its establishment, had recruited the science of archaeology, employing western Christian biblical archaeologists, to provide the required “historic” proof of the right of the Jews; alleged modern Israelites, to Palestine. This became very critical after Julius Wellhausen; the biblical scholar and Professor Ordinarius of Theology and head of the German School of Biblical Criticism, published his 1883 book “Geschichte Israels”, later titled as Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels claiming that the Old Testament/Torah stories were invented during the Babylonian exile to serve certain theological and political purposes.

American biblical scholars and archaeologists, such as William Fox Albright, were recruited to refute Wellhausen’s claims. Albright was endorsed by covertly Zionist financed Biblical Colloquium; a scholarly society devoted to the analysis and discussions of biblical matters, and the preparations, publication, and distribution of biblical literature to brainwash readers and students with a specific theological ideology. Albright, as well as other biblical archaeologists like him, was also honored (bribed) by the American Friends of the Israel Exploration Society. His writings; such as “Why the Near East Needs the Jews”, are flagrant racist Zionist propaganda ignoring the vast archaeological history of the indigenous Palestinians while emphasizing the fake unproven Israelites’ narrative in Palestine.

The western Christian biblical archaeologists and scholars were mostly Judeo-Christians believing that the Torah/Old Testament was a real historical precursor for the New Testament. Influenced by this biased theological training they needed to confirm the Torah’s narrative as a real history in order to authenticate their own distorted Christian belief.  Their lack of understanding of the ancient Middle Eastern dialects, cultures, geography and social habits, had distorted their interpretations of the archaeological findings by attributing them to the Israelites and to Solomon and David eras based on their own interpretation of the Torah rather than on the true scientific archaeological research and investigation.

Through their distorted writings and teachings these false biblical scholars had perpetrated a historical genocide against the Palestinian history by ignoring the hundreds of thousands of years of history of Palestine before the reported Abraham’s immigration to the land. They considered Palestine as a mere empty background theater for the Israelites that gained importance only when Israelites occupied it.

Although many archaeologists and historians have their own innate personal private doubts about the biblical stories, due to lack of any true archaeological evidence, they did not dare to publish or to openly state their doubts for fear of Zionist reprisal. Thomas L. Thompson; a biblical scholar, theologian and university professor, who dared in his books such as “The Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives” in 1974, “Early History of Israelite; People from the Written and Archaeological Sources” in 1992 and particularly “The Bible in History: How Writers Create a Past” in 1999, to cast doubts about the Torah’s narrative as a reliable historical evidence, and to suggest that the bible should be considered only as a literature rather than a historical book, was severely criticized by contemporary archaeologists dubbing him a biblical minimalist, and was kicked out of his teaching position from the  Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Since the establishment of the colonial Zionist state of Israel, especially between 1950 and 1960, archaeology became an Israeli national obsession seeking proof for their alleged roots in Palestine to justify and to assert their military occupation of the land. After 70 years of continuous archaeological excavations under and around the Haram al-Sharif and al-Aqsa Mosque (the alleged Israelite Temple Mount) looking for the alleged Solomon’s Temple, not a shred of evidence was found to substantiate the temple myth. Many Israeli archaeologists spent many years digging one site after another to be eventually disappointed due to lack of any evidence for any Jewish roots in Palestine. All the archaeological excavations revealed only the history of indigenous Palestinians and other invaders of the country such as ancient Egyptians, Persians, Greeks and Romans.

Jewish Israeli archaeologist Ze’ev Herzog, a professor in the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University, had joined Yigael Yadin; an Israeli politician, military official and archaeologist, in conducting many excavations throughout Palestine. Finding no evidence of the alleged Jewish roots in Palestine he eventually agreed with Wellhausen’s findings and argued that the Exodus from Egypt probably never happened, the Ten Commandments were not given on Mount Sinai, and Joshua never conquered Palestine. He casted serious doubts on David’s and Solomon’s monarchies, stating that if they existed they were probably no more than tribal chieftains. He stated:

“The many Egyptian documents known to us do not make any reference to the sojourn of the Children of Israel in Egypt or the events of the Exodus … generations of scholars tried to locate Mount Sinai and the stations of the tribes of Israel in the desert. Despite all this diligent research, not one site was identified that could correspond to the biblical picture.”

A more devastating blow to the Zionist/Judaic myth was dealt by the revelations of the Jewish Israeli historian Professor Shlomo Sand in his lectures and book “The Invention of the Jewish People”. Professor Sand argues that the so-called Jewish people had never been one nation with one race, rather they came from different groups of people from different countries and different races (white European Jews, black African Jews, brown Middle Eastern Jews, and so forth) who adopted Judaism as their faith. He affirms that the contemporary “Jewish people” have no connection at all to ancient Israelites, and their history is just an invented myth. In an interview with the Israeli Ha’aretz he stated:

“The Romans did not exile peoples (Israelites) and they could not have done so even if they had wanted to. They did not have trains and trucks to deport entire populations. That kind of logistics did not exist until the 20th century. From this, in effect, the whole book was born: in the realization that Judaic society was not dispersed and was not exiled … There are no scientific evidence or record about the exile of Jews two thousand years ago.”

He also stressed his views that the present Israeli state is just a product of Zionist colonization and concluded that:

Jews have no origin in Palestine whatsoever and therefore their act of so-called ‘return’ to their ‘Promised land’ must be realized as invasion executed by a tribal-ideological clan.”

Another Jewish Israeli archaeologist; Israel Finkelstein; the director of the Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, states in his book “The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts” that many biblical stories had never happened but were written by what he calls “a creative copywriter” to advance a political agenda. He disputed the biblical description of Israel as a great empire with Jerusalem as its capital, where King Solomon had built a splendid temple, and stated that Jerusalem was just a small village with a small tribe and a small temple. He states:

“There is no archaeological evidence for it. There is something unexampled in history.  I don’t think there is any other place in the world where there was a city with such a wretched material infrastructure but which succeeded in creating such a sweeping movement in its favor as Jerusalem, which even in its time of greatness was a joke in comparison to the cities of Assyria, Babylon or Egypt.  It was a typical mountain village. There is no magnificent finding, no gates of Nebuchadnezzar, no Assyrian reliefs, no Egyptian temples – nothing. Even the (Solomon) temple couldn’t compete with the temples of Egypt and their splendor … Contrary to what is usually thought, the Israelites did not go to pray in Jerusalem.  They had a temple in Samaria (today’s Sabastia) and at Beit El (Bethel).

The science of archaeology clearly shows that Jews have no roots in Palestine. Palestine was never ancient Israel, and Palestinian al-Quds was never Jewish Jerusalem. Many books of the Torah specifically and clearly mention this fact.

Many Arab historians, such as Dr. Kamal Salibi, Dr. Ahmad Daoud and Dr. Fadel Rabi’i, have written historical research books disputing the biblical narratives. This article will quote Dr. Fadel Rabi’i; an Iraqi Arab linguist, anthropologist and mythologist, since some of his books focused specifically on Palestine and al-Quds particularly; “Al-Quds is not Jerusalem, A Contribution to Correcting Palestine’s History” and “Imaginative Palestine: Land of Torah in Ancient Yemen” (two volumes) in Arabic. The geographical and historical accuracy of these two books were authenticated and confirmed by two present-day prominent Yemeni historians; Dr. Hussein Abdullah Al-Umari and Dr. Yousef Abdullah. As his main references Rabi’i relied heavily on the Torah in Hebrew language published by The Society for Distributing Hebrew Scripture, pre-Islamic Arabian poetry, “Geography of the Arabian Peninsula” by Jewish Yemeni Arab Hamadani; Hasan Ibn Ahmad Ibn Ya’coub al-Hamadani; an eighth century well-known geographer and traveler, and on the Greco-Roman geographer Ptolemy’s “The Geography”.

To understand Rabi’i’s studies one needs to have a thorough knowledge of the Middle Eastern geography especially of the Arabian Peninsula, understand the importance of the pre-Islamic poetry, and a thorough understanding of the ancient Semitic languages and most importantly the local dialects, without which translation into western languages would cause grave mistakes.

Arabian tribes in the Peninsula were identified by different attributive names. They were identified with the name of their chief; banu Israel or bani Israel as the children of tribal chief called Israel. Another identification was through their religious faiths; Jews or Yehud for worshipper of Yahweh, others are identified as Phallustins of Philistins (plural in Hebrew and totally different than the present-day Palestinians) for worshipper of the Phallus; the male sexual organ. Another identification was through the area of their residence; e.g. beit Yebose meaning the house of Jebusites, beit Lechem meaning the house of Lechem, or Hasidim who live in Hasid valley, and Hasmonim/Hashmonim who live in Hasad/Hashad area, or Mesrim/Mesraim who live in Mesrin in Yemen.

Relying on his references Rabi’i asserts that banu Israel and the Jews/Yehud were two separate Yemeni tribes, who fought among themselves, thus the Torah’s war story between kingdom of Israel (banu Israel) and kingdom of Judah (Jews/Yehud); (2 Samuel: 2). The Islamic Qur’an as well differentiated between banu Israel as a tribe and the Jews, who worshiped Yahweh. Arab poetry of pre-Islamic, of Umayyad and of Abbasid eras also mentioned banu Israel and Jews as separate Yemeni tribes.

Authentic Judaism/Yahudia is actually an ancient Arabic religion sprang in southern west Arabian Peninsula. Jews were Arabs, who worshiped Yahweh. In pre-Islamic and Islamic eras no one would consider being an Arab and at the same time a Jew was paradoxical. The same applies on Philistin Arabs; worshippers of the Phallus. Jewish Arabs and Philistin Arabs are no different than Christian Arabs.

Rabi’i’s main theme is that present-day Palestine has never been ancient Israel and that the city of al-Quds has never been Jerusalem, and that biblical stories took place in the south western area of the Arabian Peninsula, mainly in Yemen. He uses geographical locations described in many biblical books and compare them with locations mentioned in the references he relied on to prove his theory.

The first three chapters of the book of Nehemiah tells the story of the Persian king Artaxerxes releasing Nehemiah and other Jews from exile to go back to Jerusalem (ur-salm) to build its wall and the temple. Nehemiah 2:12 – 3:30 give detailed description and names of the damaged walls, gates and towers of Jerusalem/ur-Salm. The book mentions 10 gates; Valley Gate, Refuse Gate, Fountain Gate, Sheep Gate, Fish Gate, Old Gate, Water Gate, Horse Gate, East Gate and Miphkad Gate. Al-Quds city has only eight gates with totally different names. Other locations mentioned in Nehemiah, such as Serpent well, Broad wall, Pool of Shelah, King Garden, tower of Hundred, tower of Hananel, tower of the Ovens and governor residence beyond the river, are places and a river that do not exist in al-Quds. Apparently, Nehemiah was describing a different city (Yemini ur-Salm) than al-Quds.

Rabi’i also quotes other Torah books, particularly Joshua, that describes a totally different geography of another Jerusalem and another land. Joshua 12 lists the names of the kingdoms, whose kings were defeated by Joshua; Ai, Jarmuth, Lachish, Eglon, Gezer, Makkedah, Aphek and others. Present day Palestine never knew these kingdoms, many of whom were known in ancient Yemen. Joshua 14 – 21 divides the land among the tribes. The names of these divided territories were never known to and never existed Palestine.

Rabi’i also examined the names of Jewish tribes released from Persian exile. Ezra 8 has one list and Nehemiah 7 has another. The names in these lists are also detailed in Hamadani’s book as Yemeni Arab tribes. Palestine never knew these tribes. All geographical locations and names of Jewish tribes mentioned in the Torah’s books never applied to Palestine, but to ancient Yemen as described in details by Hamadani.

Examining the ancient Egyptian, Persian and Roman records Rabi’i could not find any mention of a “Palestine” until 330 A.D. mentioned in the ancient Roman Land Administration Records after Rome occupied the Levant area. Al-Quds was a small outpost on a hill called Elya/Eulia; a Roman name. Palestine then was populated mostly by Monophysite Christian Ghassanid and Nabatean Arabs. When emperor Constantine converted into Christianity he decided to enlist the local Christian population in his wars against the Sassanid Persian empire. He renamed the area Phalastine/Palestine and Elya/Eulia Jerusalem citing the names from the Torah. He also ordered the Torah to be translated from Hebrew to Greek. The translations were carried out mainly by Yemeni Jewish Rabbis, had many linguistic mistakes and political manipulations adopting the newly-named Palestine and Jerusalem as ancient Israel/Yehuda and ur-Salm.

Rabi’i argues that since the Torah was written around 500 B.C. and the name Palestine was first invented in 330 A.D. then Torah’s Philistin could never be present-day Palestine and Jerusalem/ur-Salm could never be al-Quds. Through lies and manipulations history is written by politicians, theologists, and victorious military leaders.

Judaism/Yahudia is a religion adopted by groups of different nationalities. We have Jewish Americans, Jewish Britons, Jewish French, Jewish Africans, Jewish Chinese, Jewish Khazars and so on. They have no national origin with Jewish/Yehud Yemeni Arabs.

Zionism, a colonialist ideology, has hijacked Judaism, as well as Christianity in the form of Judeo-Christianity, to lure Jews and Christians into the construction of the Great Israel project on the ruins of the Arab World starting with the occupation of the mischievously called Holy Land. The whole Arab World, with Palestine as its front, will never escape this colonial project and resurrect their true identity unless their history and religions; Christianity as well as Islam, are freed from the politically and religiously manipulated and erroneous Torah narrative.

***

Read also: Israeli Founder Contests Founding Myths

Dr. Elias Akleh is an Arab writer from a Palestinian descent born in the town of Beit-Jala. His family was first evicted from Haifa after the “Nakba” of 1948, then from Beit-Jala after the “Nakseh” of 1967. He lives now in US and publishes articles on the web.

Copyright © Dr. Elias Akleh, Global Research, 2018

July 3, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Hamas: Our people will bury US plans under their feet

Hazem Qasem
Palestine Information Center – June 23, 2018

GAZA – The Hamas Movement has said that the massive presence of citizens in the March of Return rallies on Friday, June 22, has reflected that the popular struggle in Gaza will continue until all goals are achieved.

In a press release, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasem said the ongoing popular uprising on the Gaza border aims to entrench the Palestinian people’s right to return to every part of their land, including Jerusalem, and their right to live in dignity and with no blockade.

“Such ongoing rallies prove that the [Israeli] occupation’s attempts to terrorize our people into not participating in them have failed,” Qasem affirmed, pointing to the exposure of protesters to aerial attacks during the past week.

“These marches have sent a message to the US administration, which is trying to impose plans or projects aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause, that our revolutionary people on the border will bury such schemes under their feet and will not allow any party to detract from their rights,” he underlined.

June 23, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’

By Ida Audeh | CounterPunch | June 22, 2018

For weeks now, Palestinians everywhere have been galvanized by events taking place in the Gaza Strip, the site of weekly (since March 30) mass protests demanding the end of the siege and blockade of Gaza (in place now since 2007) and the right to return to the homes from which they or their elders had been kicked out. Dubbed the Great March of Return, Gazans have assembled as close as they can to the Israeli-designated buffer zone separating Gaza from Israel. Israeli soldiers at a distance, crouched behind earth barriers that they created in the days preceding the march, and at absolutely no danger of attack from the unarmed protestors, pick off demonstrators at their leisure. By June 14, at least 129 Palestinians had been killed and 13,000 injured; the dead included medics like the 21-year-old Razan al-Najjar and journalists including Yaser Murtaja—typically seen as off-limits in conflict zones but transformed by Israel into prime targets.

On June 4, Ida Audeh spoke to Jamal Juma’, coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, about the popular resistance in Gaza, the Trump administration’s policy toward the question of Palestine, and Palestinian options to chart a new course. Salah Khawaja, an activist who works with the campaign, joined the conversation.

Ida Audeh: I interviewed you in August 2011 to learn more about the separation wall and its effect on communities in its path.[2] Describe Israel’s current system of control over the occupied territories, of which the wall is a part.

Jamal Juma’: It is clear that the wall was designed to isolate and lay siege to Palestinians. The project to place Palestinians under siege by means of the wall has been completed. It closed off all the dynamic areas that Israel considered necessary to isolate various areas. Eighty percent of the Wall is within the West Bank. The second part of the siege is reinforcement of the settlements. Each settlement has what Israel calls a buffer zone – a security apparatus consisting of barbed wire and roads that Palestinians are not allowed to use. This, together with the alternative (bypass) roads (which we call the apartheid roads), allows them to control the territory. Today there are two road networks: one is for Israeli settlers, about 1,400 km long, and its purpose is to connect all settlements to one another and to Israel in a kind of network. And this is complete. This network is the dominant one in the West bank, and it includes the major roads. The other, the alternative roads, are for Palestinians to use; these roads will intersect through 48 planned tunnels and bridges, some of which have been created already. The two road systems are separate. This is the basis of the racist discriminatory system we talk about: isolating Palestinians and confining them in limited spaces, control of their resources through settlements, the road network, and military installations, and the wall, which take up about 62% of the area of the West Bank.

With the extension of the settlements, we no longer just talk about Palestinians being ghettoized in the north, south and central region. There is more fragmentation of Palestinian residential areas. New settlement outposts are not being discussed in terms of whether they should be removed or not.  They are being transformed into settlements. When you see 150 outposts, you are really talking about 150 new settlements. This project is being intensified, and especially since Trump took office.

IA: So you noticed a clear acceleration after Trump?

JJ: It’s much more than an acceleration. This is a watershed moment in Palestinian history.  We consider that since Trump took office, US policy fully adopted the Zionist project and embarked on a process of liquidating the Palestinian cause, of eliminating it. It is clear program. This began with Jerusalem and the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist entity, transfer of the embassy, targeting the refugees by cutting financing of UNRWA, and other forms of pressure on areas that host large numbers of refugees including getting them settled permanently in the host countries.

Israeli colonization, the geographic engineering of the political map, is another component in the liquidation of the Palestinian cause. Israeli proposals for colonization are massive. They are concentrating on the Jordan Valley – creating new settlements, expanding existing settlements, creating the supportive infrastructure, with huge incentives for Israelis who work in agriculture (including cash payments of $20,000 for anyone willing to move there). Now the settlements are on the tops of the mountain chain that overlook the Jordan Valley, which enable them to encircle lower lying towns. When you talk about Ariel, Ma’ale Adumim, and so on, it will be as though the entire West Bank is a suburb of Tel Aviv. This will make it impossible for there to be any separation in the future, for there to be any independent Palestinian entity; instead, an apartheid system of cantons will be imposed on Palestinians.  This is the reality on the ground.

Back to the new US policy: In addition to a shift in standing US positions on Jerusalem and the refugee issue, there is the use of Arab countries that are ready for normalization with Israel and eager to be aligned with the American project – first and foremost, Saudi Arabia, and also Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, which are pressuring the Palestinians to accept the US project to liquidate the Palestinian cause. This has complicated things and taken it out of the sphere of international law and the UN; everyone had previously worked within that framework. We have been demanding the implementation of resolutions. But the US dealt a blow to international law.

IA: The US now proposes the “deal of the century,” which Gulf states are eagerly endorsing. Can you describe the contours of that deal?

JJ: The proposal is to create a Palestinian state in Gaza with extensions into the Sinai Desert, to be administered by the Palestinian Authority. The West Bank and Jerusalem are not part of these calculations, although Israel might be willing to give up some areas around Jerusalem that are densely populated with Palestinians. (This part of the proposal has been floated by extremist Israeli groups even before the Trump proposal.) They might be willing to remove from Greater Jerusalem areas with high Palestinian density, like Jabal Mukkaber, Isawiya, Silwan, and Sur Bahir; there has been some discussion about removing Beit Hanina and Shufat. The Israelis would retain control of the Jewish settlements and the Old City, which together make up about 87% of the area of East Jerusalem—not exactly a small territory.

IA: What is the Palestinian response to these plans?

JJ:  On the formal political level, the PA is in a crisis. It placed its faith in the US, but now US determination to liquidate the Palestinian cause is very clear.  The only real option remaining to the PA is to cast its lot with the Palestinian people and on free people around the world, international solidarity and movements that support us. The Palestinian people have to make a decision, and so does the PA.

On the popular level, we see serious activity in search of an alternative to the status quo, the largest and the most important of which is taking place now in Gaza with the Great March of Return. These actions are important for a number of reasons. They changed the stereotypes about Gaza as a launchpad for rockets, a place of terrorism that has been hijacked by Hamas. In fact, the marches in Gaza since March 30 represent a widespread popular movement, massive popular resistance. Just like the first intifada emerged from Jabaliya in the Gaza Strip, today we have the beginnings of a mass civil disobedience movement. Gaza has a population that is resisting, and Hamas does not control this resistance. The discourse we generally hear, that Hamas is leading people to their death, should be recognized as racist and dehumanizing. People are not robots. Gazans of all ages, family situations, and economic and educational levels are taking part in these marches to raise their cause to the world.  These people are saying that the siege of Gaza cannot continue. We are human beings, we have rights, and one of those rights is to live like human beings. Gaza is no longer inhabitable. Gaza has been turned into a prison and a hell. Even the UN acknowledges that. The numbers around Gaza are just astounding.[3]

The Great March has returned focus on the refugee issue and put it squarely on the table despite all the efforts to ignore and erase it. More than 70% of Gaza residents are refugees, and they are demanding the right to return to their original hometowns.

For that reason, the marches in Gaza are very important in defining the trajectory of the Palestinian question and restoring the role of popular resistance to the forefront. They lay the popular foundation for the coming phase. They might also have prevented another massive disaster. I think Israel was preparing to implement the Trump administration’s proposals; the scenario that the Israelis were planning for was to pull Gaza into a military confrontation, which would justify more intense bombing than it has done in the past. The borders with Egypt would open, and people would flee into Egypt. But the march with its mass participation thwarted that plan.

IA: I find it hard to understand how Ramallah can be so tranquil considering the carnage in Gaza.

JJ:  It might seem that what is happening in the West Bank is not at all comparable to what is happening in Gaza. And that is true, it isn’t as massive. But actions are taking place in the West Bank, and they are also important. On a weekly basis people are gathering to protest at the checkpoints. Since 2011 there have been continuous outbursts (in Arabic, habbat); for example, in Jerusalem in the Bab al-Shams encampment and in the aftermath of the Abu Khdeir and Dawabshe killings (January 2013, July 2014, and July 2015, respectively).[4] These outbursts were significant and exemplary, the way Gaza is today. They reminded us of what the Palestinian people are capable of doing. I expect that these outbursts here and there will lead to widespread civil disobedience. Young people in Jerusalem and the West Bank have been going out to checkpoints in the hundreds, on a daily basis, and these conditions put one in the mindset of the first intifada.

We should take note of what Palestinians in Israel are doing as well. There are youth movements that are taking action in ways that are very impressive and a source of pride.  They defy the occupation and they involve large numbers of people, in Haifa and elsewhere.

IA: Let’s look at the relationship of Palestinians to formal political bodies. Recently the Palestinian National Council held its first meeting in 22 years. One might have thought that over the course of more than two decades, several issues and events warranted a meeting – regional events, the assassination of Yasir Arafat, and the status of the Oslo accords come to mind. But the convening of the PNC doesn’t seem to have generated much popular interest.

JJ: People did not pay much attention to it, but in fact they should be talking about it because it poses a threat. Meeting for the first time in 22 years, it did not even discuss what it has done since the last meeting! What it did do is effectively cancel itself, which means it is changing the structure of the PLO. There is an attempt to replace the Central Committee with a body consisting of the private sector, the political currents in the PA today, and elements of the security apparatus. No representation of Palestinians from the 1948 areas, or the diaspora, or even the Palestinian street. This is a threat to the Palestinian project.

The PLO as it has been transformed by Mahmoud Abbas threatens the national cause. It has been hijacked; our task is to restore it as a representative and unifying entity that works to support the Palestinian cause. The reform should be led by Palestinian groups and movements.

People have no confidence in the leadership; they don’t think it is capable of leading in the coming phase.  In fact, the outbursts I referred to earlier had the potential of triggering a third intifada.  People were waiting for a leadership to emerge, as happened during the first intifada; three months into the intifada, a unified leadership emerged and took charge. But this time, the PA wasn’t interested in assuming that role; three months into these protests, the PA sent its people to disrupt actions and prevent young people from gathering at checkpoints. The national factions were unable to form a unified leadership for obvious reasons.

IA: What is the alternative?

JJ: People have to create a national movement that can lead the change. What will lead the movement for change will not be a single individual. It will be a widespread national movement that has a real relationship with people on the ground, a movement that will direct the street. This is the only way change will take place. People have been waiting for a long time, but who are we waiting for? There is not going to be a great charismatic leader. We don’t talk about a heroic leader, we talk about a heroic people and a leadership of institutions.

We want a Palestinian state that represents all Palestinians. Within that broad outline, we say that right now, we have to protect the Palestinian project – the right to self-determination, and we all struggle for that right. We don’t have to get into a discussion about the final outcome. The time for the two state solution is clearly over—and in fact, that proposal provided the basis for trying to destroy our cause. The other option is clear. But like I said, we don’t want that discussion to detract from our focus now or to place us in conflict with the position of the PLO.

How do we support the Palestinian project? We have to confront what is happening in Jerusalem, the settlements. There has to be a practical program, not just slogans on paper. Palestinians in the diaspora should support these activities, get involved in the boycott movement, because we are part of that boycott movement. We are trying to keep the political work and the boycott movement separate to protect the boycott movement, because there is a Palestinian effort underway to weaken the BDS movement; through normalization, by invoking the PLO position. We consider the boycott movement an essential component of our activism.

This is what people are discussing today, here and with our people in the 1948 areas, and in the diaspora. There has to be a movement that preserves the unity of the Palestinian people and protects the national cause from liquidation. That’s what we are working on now. I expect that in the next few weeks there will be a meeting to put in writing some of the agreed upon principles underlying all of these actions. Many meetings have taken place, and they are being expanded.

SK: We are looking at all ways to get all Palestinians to participate under a banner of a common cause that unites us all. In the 1948 areas, the issue is colonization and civil rights, but Palestinians within Israel don’t find themselves too far apart from those in the West Bank and Gaza. In the West Bank, the issues are Judaization, settlements, attacks against the holy sites. Those in Gaza are concerned about 12-year siege and blockade, hunger, and murder. Those in the diaspora want the right of return. All of these are national issues that unite us, but each location faces specific threats.

The next phase will be difficult, as we figure out how to present a vision that unites all people, especially the youth, which have been marginalized, to be effective participants.  Since 2012, we have been in contact with the youth. About 76% of the population is 35 years old or younger. And yet no one is making a practical effort to involve them in political planning and decision making. As a campaign, we made a deliberate decision about this. Programs grow old, and so do people. So we need an extension, and the youth movement is part of that. Our hope is to create a mass youth activist base so that our energy will be renewed. We see in the diaspora and in the 1948 areas that the majority of activists are young – the marches in Haifa, confronting the Judaization of the Galilee, activism around the depopulated villages of 1948, the attempt to seize homes in Akka — young people are confronting these issues. We must raise the slogan of confronting colonialism, which is the main cause of what we face.  We Palestinians  have to work together, not against one another, and not expect solutions from others.

What they are doing is preparatory to a major outbreak; there will be a launch of boats to break the blockade, and not just from Gaza, and a rush toward all entry points to Palestine, without exception. Either we live with dignity, or we declare an intifada on those who deny us a life with dignity.

Everyone is targeted. In the West Bank, there are mass arrests, home demolitions, checkpoints, and people on the run. The idea of civil disobedience is not a slogan. We can rebel against all forms of Israeli control within the framework of a national program. Since the international community has not acted, what prevents Palestinians from adjacent countries from moving on mass to the border, as occurred in 2012 (and some were able to make it to Jaffa). Those in the diaspora might have ongoing marches in front of Israeli embassies and its supporters. They can paralyze Israel’s work in all countries. These are not the usual slogans or approaches to political work.  There is no need to hold on to agreements and positions that Israel long ago abandoned.

In 1948 we looked to what the international community might give us; it gave to Israel but nothing to us. There were conditions placed on it for recognition: its treatment of the Palestinian minority, accepting the Palestinian right of return, and the creation of a Palestinian state. None of them was fulfilled. After 1967, Palestinians agreed to accept 22% of historical Palestine, but even that was unacceptable for Israel. Palestinians can’t continue to think in terms of what Israel might be willing to give us.

We have a right to exist and to determine our own destiny. This is the issue that concerns us.

Notes.

[1] “Gaza protests: All the latest updates,” Al Jazeera, June 14, 2018, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/04/gaza-protest-latest-updates-180406092506561.html. See also Kate, “Israel has shot 29 medics at Gaza border, killing two,” Mondoweiss,http://mondoweiss.net/2018/06/israel-medics-killing/amp/

[2] Ida Audeh, “Interview with Jamal Juma’: PA ‘killing popular resistance.’” Electronic Intifada, August 8, 2011,https://electronicintifada.net/content/jamal-juma-pa-killing-popular-resistance/10249

[3] “Living conditions in Gaza ‘more and more wretched’ over past decade, UN finds,” UN News, 11 July 2017, https://news.un.org/en/story/2017/07/561302-living-conditions-gaza-more-and-more-wretched-over-past-decade-un-finds. Status Audio Journal Hosts, “Under siege: Daily life in Gaza with Rawan Yaghi,” Jadaliyya, May 16, 2018, http://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/37563/Under-Siege-Daily-Life-in-Gaza-with-Rawan-Yaghi. Gaza in Context Team, “Understanding Gaza in context,” Jadaliyya, May 16, 2018, http://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/37562/Understanding-Gaza

[4] The 2013 encampment known as Bab al-Shams was an attempt by Palestinians to thwart Israeli plans to establish a settlement on land in the E1 zone, between East Jerusalem and the Jewish-only settlement Ma’ale Adumim; the Israeli plan was designed to permanently sever the West Bank from East Jerusalem. Another encampment, Bab al-Karama, was set up in Beit Iksa and stormed by Israeli soldiers two days later. In July 2014, Israeli settlers in Jerusalem abducted 16-year-old Mohammad Abu Khdeir from Shufat and set him on fire; the ensuing demonstrations resulted in 160 Palestinians injured. Israel’s assault on Gaza began five days later. One year later, settlers set fire to a residence in Duma. The soul survivor of the attack was a 4-year-old child; the child’s parents and infant brother were killed. In 2015, a tent encampment, “Gate of Jerusalem,” was set up in Abu Dis to protest the Israeli government’s plans to displace Bedouin communities there. Beginning in September 2015 and lasting until the end of the year, protests spread from the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem throughout the West Bank; 108 Palestinians were killed and 12,260 were injured.  Palestinians in Israel demonstrated in solidarity.

Ida Audeh is a Palestinian from the West Bank who lives in Colorado. She is the editor of Birzeit University: The Story of a National Institution, published by Birzeit University in 2010. She can be reached at idaaudeh A T yahoo D O T com.

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine denounces Indonesian clerics’ participation in interfaith conference

Palestine Information Center – June 13, 2018

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine, has strongly denounced the participation of some Indonesian religious figures in the Zio-American interfaith conference in Occupied Jerusalem.

In press remarks, Sheikh Hussein described the conference as part of Israel’s systematic misleading campaigns that are intended to embellish it and make it appear as a country that advocates for peace and rapprochement between religions.

He condemned the Indonesian delegation’s visit as “a crime against the Palestinian cause and against the Muslim nation,” and said it ignored the international boycott campaigns against the occupation and its racist practices, especially after the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem.

The Mufti also slammed the visit as “shameful and unacceptable” and “contradicting the official and popular Indonesian position that support the Palestinian people and their just cause.”

June 13, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli Authorities Demolish Graves at Historic Palestinian Cemetery

Sputnik – June 11, 2018

Israeli authorities were caught on video excavating portions of the historic Bab al-Rahma cemetery next to Al-Aqsa mosque in occupied East Jerusalem. The cemetery is believed to contain the final resting places of two companions of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

Video from June 5 shows about a dozen men, presumably members of Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority, at a work site in the Bab al-Rahma cemetery, through which Israel is planning to build a national park trail.

​The cemetery sits adjacent to Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. It is believed to hold the graves of Ubada ibn as-Samit and Shadad ibn Aus, two of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions. The cemetery has remained in use for more than 1,000 years.

Israel plans to seize about 40 percent of the cemetery for the national park under murky legal pretexts, Sputnik News recently reported. The plan has supposedly been in place since 2015, but Palestinian lawyers and conservation activists claim Israel is jumping the gun, as court cases over the fate of the cemetery remain pending.

Israeli authorities have recently resumed work on the park and have been seen digging up and marking graves, removing trees and fencing off areas to halt future burials. During the first weekend of June, several Palestinians were injured and arrested while protesting the desecration of the cemetery.

Outside of Jerusalem proper, in the West Bank, authorities are also clearing the way for a new settlement over the village of al-Khana Ahmar, a village mostly inhabited by Bedouin refugees who were expelled from southern Israel in 1952. In 2009, an Italian aid organization constructed a school there, but Israel ordered it to be demolished one month after it opened. After that, residents in neighboring Israeli settlements petitioned the courts to demolish the community, which has been slated for destruction since February 2010. In 2015, authorities confiscated solar panels that provided the only source of electricity to the village.

​Israel plans to relocate them yet again, this time north to a village called An-Nuway’imah, allowing Jewish settlers to claim the strategically significant spot. Building an Israeli settlement there would allow the government to connect the urban Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem and to control the gateway between northern and southern parts of the West Bank.

Abu Khamiss, a spokesman for the current Khan al-Ahmar villagers, told France 24 in 2014 that “the place where Israel wants us to ‘relocate’ would be like a prison for us. We’d be surrounded by Israeli settlements, a checkpoint and military training camps.”

The demolition is expected to begin any day now. Already, Israeli authorities have been accused of poisoning locals’ dogs under cover of night, robbing the villagers of the “faithful shepherds.”

Palestinian schoolchildren queue outside a tent where they attend lessons after Israeli troops confiscated caravans used as school classrooms, due to the lack of an Israeli-issued construction permit, in the West Bank village of Jubbet Al Dhib, near Bethlehem August 24, 2017

© REUTERS / Mussa Qawasma

For Palestinian children living in the West Bank, getting to school is an incredibly difficult task because of their scarcity and the difficulty of traveling due to the abundance of Israeli checkpoints that control movement around the territory and can take hours to pass through. Israel is slated to destroy the Palestinian school in al-Khana Ahmar as well, a move the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East said in 2011 “would effectively deny the children of the community their education and jeopardize their future.”

According to a January report from the the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, at least 61 schools in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have pending demolition orders or stop work orders against them from the Israeli government.

See Also:

Israel’s Demolishing of West Bank Schools May Amount to Int’l Crime – Watchdog

June 12, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment