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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Still continuing... The Palestinian Nakba

Still continuing

Yesterday marked the 62nd anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba. Some argue, reasonably, that the Nakba shouldn’t be commemorated because it is continuing, and marking down one day to remember it loses sight of this fact.

But Nakba day serves a useful purpose: it is the day when the focus falls, as it too rarely does, on what the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is fundamentally about, namely the wholesale dispossession and exile of more than half the Palestinian population in 1948 to make way for Israel.

That this new entity in the region wanted the land for itself, rather than to share, became obvious almost immediately when, in transgression of international law and common human decency, Israel refused to grant these Palestinian refugees the right to return to their lands and homes.

This refusal became legalised theft in 1950 when the Israeli parliament passed a law allowing the nascent state to take over the lands of the Palestinians who had fled or had been expelled. Until the Nakba, it is well to remember, there was never a Jewish majority in Palestine, nor did Jews own more than a fraction of the land.

It is little wonder then that the greatest fear of Israelis is the Palestinian demand that their right to return be upheld, and that it be upheld for the children and the grandchildren of the original refugees. The right of return, even though it is prominent in international law, and a basic human right that Jews themselves have exercised to claim property and land in Germany and Europe that was stolen by the Nazis, is most fiercely opposed by Zionists, who do not wish to share the land with Palestinians.

But these same Zionists must understand that peace is hollow without justice. There will be no real resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict until there is a just resolution to the refugee issue. There is only one meaningful way to do that: granting all Palestinian refugees and their descendants the choice to return and compensation for their losses.

One suspects that Israelis, deep down, understand the price paid by others for the creation of their state, because like a guilty child that acts out whenever it is scolded, Israel bombards its neighbours whenever it finds itself in an impasse. And even though one-state solution advocates rank among the most forgiving in this conflict, with their insistence that Jews and Palestinians can and should live together in equality, nothing is guaranteed to annoy most Israelis more.

But even under the two-state solution that the world appears to have thrown its weight behind, the right of return must not be sacrificed for some ill-thought out notion of utility. It would be a huge step back, indeed, for world order, legitimacy and morality to allow the limited 19th century Zionist mindset of ethno-religious state purity to win the day.


16 May 2010

Palestinians mark Nakba Day in East Jerusalem

200 Palestinians mark Nakba Day in East J'lem
The sign reads
"Palestinian Refugees:
One Indivisible Struggle
for Return"


Bethlehem - Ma'an - Some 200 Palestinians led by Palestinian Knesset members marked Nakba Day in East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood on Saturday, Israeli media reported.

Protesters arrived to the rally carrying signs reading "Judaization of Jerusalem – The new Nakba," the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

Led by members of the Balad party within the Israeli parliament, a host of Palestinian dignitaries, including Fatah Jerusalem Affairs Chief Hatem Abdul Qader, rallied in the flashpoint neighborhood, the site of Palestinian evictions.

"There is an attempt to undertake a transfer of people. According to statistics, more than 60,000 people live under the threat of house demolition, and hundreds of houses face razing plans," Abdul Qader told the daily.

"Should Barkat, Aharonovitch and Netanyahu will try to implement the orders, it will be like tossing a match into a field," he warned. "If they try to implement the mad demolition plan there will be a third intifada," he said. "I'm calling for Palestinian unity on the defense of Jerusalem. This is every Palestinian's responsibility."

According to Balad MK Hanin Zuabi, Sheikh Jarrah symbolizes the injustice cause to Palestinians, the daily wrote.

"This is a political atrocity and human tragedy. People who were expelled from their original villages in 1948 came to Jerusalem and now Israel is persecuting them again. This is a second Nakba for them."

The MK also said that Palestinians are protesting against the plan to Judaize Jerusalem, "Which Netanyahu wishes to complete by the end of his term," Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

"We are the non-silent victim who doesn't agree with the Zionist project's core of a Jewish state," she said.

Earlier this week, Balad activist Omar Said was arrested on suspicion of espionage along with Amir Makhoul, both prominent leaders of Palestinians living in Israel.

In March, the Israeli Knesset passed what some termed a "softened Nakba Law," which forbids marking Israel's independence day and the founding of Israel with mourning ceremonies and vandalizing or acts of disdain toward the flag or state symbols, effectively criminalizing Nakba Day.

Palestinian woman remembers exodus 60 years ago

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100515/wl_mideast_afp/mideastconflictnaqbajerusalem
Palestinian Diana Safieh, 69, shows old identity cards and photographs at her house in the mostly Arab east Jerusalem on May 14. Safieh was just seven years old when her family fled their west Jerusalem home on a spring night in 1948 in fear of bloody clashes between Jewish and Arab forces.(AFP/Marina Passos)

Palestinian woman remembers exodus 60 years ago

by Ines Bel Aiba Ines Bel Aiba 5-15-2010

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Diana Safieh was just seven years old when her family fled their west Jerusalem home on a spring night in 1948 in fear of bloody clashes between Jewish and Arab forces.

Now at nearly 70, she wants to catch at least a glimpse of a fading memory.

"My father would say: 'We will never leave Jerusalem,'" the elegant and sprightly Palestinian woman from an upper middle-class Christian family tells AFP on an emotional journey of return.

On Saturday, the Palestinians were in mourning to mark the "Naqba," or catastrophe, of Israel's establishment 62 years ago in British-mandated Palestine and with it the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Arab inhabitants.

Safieh remembers that on the morning of May 13, 1948, she was picking flowers for the nuns of Saint Joseph convent.

"If we had known what was to befall us, we would have done something else," she says with a smile. By the end of the day, the house and its furniture as well as money and jewellery in the bank had all been lost.

Panic had been spreading in the neighbourhood for months, with people abandoning homes. "By May 13, it had become unbearable," says Safieh.

In the middle of the night, little Diana and her brother Jean were woken up by their father. The family was packed into the car and sped off to the convent where a relative was a nun.

On May 14, the state of Israel was declared and the first Arab-Israeli war broke out in earnest the next day.

The Safieh family stayed three months at the convent before deciding, like many others, to move to Beirut. Father Emile decided it was time to return nine months later to Jerusalem, where they settled in the Arab eastern sector.

More than 760,000 Palestinians -- estimated today to number more than five million with their descendants -- were pushed into exile by the conflict or driven out of their homes.

"We were very lucky," admits Safieh, whose two brothers live abroad. "We did not end up in a refugee camp, and we had the means to travel and to have an education."

Today she lives in the Beit Hanuna district of east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

Safieh has only seen the old family house once since Israeli independence, and that was a painful experience back in 1967 with parents Emile and Odette, who had both since died.

"I don't know if I will remember it. In '67, there was a palm tree and the house next door had a tiled roof," she says ahead of the trip down memory lane to what it now the upper-class Jewish district of Baqaa....READ MORE

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Palestinian refugee boy walks in an alley near his family's house in the Jabaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, Friday, May 14, 2010. Palestinians mark the 62nd anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel on Saturday May 15, 2010, calling it 'Nakba' or the 'day of the catastrophe', when in 1948 many thousands were forced from their lands and homes.(AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Nakba Palestinians ride their horses during a protest marking the anniversary of the 'Nakba', Arabic for catastrophe, inside the Balata refugee camp, in the West Bank city of Nablus, Friday, May 14, 2010. The 62nd anniversary for the Nakba will be marked by Palestinians on Saturday, May 15, when they commemorate the creation of Israel which forced Palestinians from their lands, and is called Nakba or the 'day of the catastrophe'.(AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)

Palestinian children gather before the funeral of Aysar Zaben, 16, in the West Bank town of Mazra'a al Sharqiya, near Ramallah, Friday, May 14, 2010. Zaben, was found dead from a gunshot wound near his village, and Palestinians said Friday he was likely shot by an Israeli settler while throwing stones at cars. The Israeli military, which exercises overall control in the West Bank, said its troops were not involved in the incident. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Nakba,Palestinians shout slogans as they mark the 62nd anniversary of the 'Nakba,' Arabic for catastrophe, during a rally organized by Hamas in the southern border village of Maroun el-Rass, Lebanon, Friday, May 14, 2010. Protesters commemorated on Friday the dispersal of Palestinians during the 1948 war over Israel's creation.(AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

A Palestinian man looks through a pair of binoculars at the border with Israel during a sit-in to mark the 62nd anniversary of Nakba in the village of Maroun Al Ras, southern Lebanon, near the border between Lebanon and Israel, May 14, 2010. Palestinians will mark "Nakba" (Catastrophe) on May 15 as a day of mourning for the establishment of Israel in 1948 after which an Arab-Israeli war brought the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho (LEBANON - Tags: ANNIVERSARY CIVIL UNREST)


Palestinian children learn about Nakba to mark the 62nd anniversary of Nakba at Ain el-Hilweh refugee camp, southern Lebanon May 14, 2010. Palestinians will mark "Nakba" (Catastrophe) on May 15 as a day of mourning for the establishment of Israel in 1948 after which an Arab-Israeli war brought the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. REUTERS/ Ali Hashisho (LEBANON - Tags: ANNIVERSARY EDUCATION)

Palestinian men speak as a Palestinian child looks on during a sit-in to mark the 62nd anniversary of Nakba in the village of Maroun Al Ras, southern Lebanon, near the border between Lebanon and Israel, May 14, 2010. Palestinians will mark "Nakba" (Catastrophe) on May 15 as a day of mourning for the establishment of Israel in 1948 after which an Arab-Israeli war brought the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. REUTERS/ Ali Hashisho (LEBANON - Tags: ANNIVERSARY CIVIL UNREST)

Palestinian hold a symbolic key during a protest in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah May 14, 2010. Palestinians mark "Nakba" (catastrophe), a term is used by Palestinians to describe the founding of Israel in a 1948 war when some 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes, on May 15. REUTERS/Ammar Awad (WEST BANK - Tags: ANNIVERSARY CIVIL UNREST)


A Palestinian protester dressed as Handallah, a Palestinian cartoon character, stands near tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers, not pictured, during a protest by Palestinians against Israel's separation barrier and marking the anniversary of the 'Nakba', Arabic for catastrophe, outside the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah, Friday May 14, 2010. The 62nd anniversary for the Nakba will be marked by Palestinians on Saturday, May 15. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)

Palestinian protesters dressed as Handallah, a Palestinian cartoon character, stand in front of a large key, during a protest by Palestinians against Israel's separation barrier and marking the anniversary of the 'Nakba', Arabic for catastrophe, in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah, Friday May 14, 2010. The 62nd anniversary for the Nakba will be marked by Palestinians on Saturday, May 15, 2010. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)

Palestinian men hold keys symbolizing the keys to houses left by Palestinians in 1948 during a rally marking the anniversary of the 'Nakba', Arabic for catastrophe, in the Jabaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, Friday, May 14, 2010. The 62nd anniversary for the Nakba will be marked by Palestinians on Saturday, May 15, 2010. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

Palestinian boy holds symbolic key REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

An elderly Palestinian carries a symbolic key during a sit-in marking the 62nd anniversary of the 'Nakba,' Arabic for catastrophe, organized by the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine in front of the United Nations House in Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, May 14, 2010. Protesters commemorated on Friday the dispersal of Palestinians during the 1948 war over Israel's creation.(AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Nakba. A Palestinian boy carries a banner in Arabic that reads :' What about the children of Palestine,' during a sit-in marking the 62nd anniversary of the 'Nakba,' Arabic for catastrophe, in front of the United Nations House in Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, May 14, 2010. Children commemorated on Friday the dispersal of Palestinians during the 1948 war over Israel's creation. The Arabic on their shirts read :' The birds of return.' (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Nakba, A Palestinian girl carries a banner with a writing in Arabic that reads:' I'm not staying as a refugee, I'm returning,' during a sit-in marking the 62nd anniversary of the 'Nakba,' Arabic for catastrophe in front of the United Nations House in Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, May 14, 2010. Children commemorated on Friday the dispersal of Palestinians during the 1948 war over Israel's creation. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Nakba. Palestinian children carry balloons and pictures during a sit-in marking the 62nd anniversary of the 'Nakba,' Arabic for catastrophe in front of the United Nations House in Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, May 14, 2010. Children commemorated on Friday the dispersal of Palestinians during the 1948 war over Israel's creation. The Arabic writing reads :' We're staying,' right, ' We're returning.' (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

A boy holds up a Palestinian flag during a Nakba rally in Kafar Kana May 14, 2010. Palestinians will mark "Nakba" (Catastrophe) on May 15 to commemorate the time when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled or fled from their homes in the war that led to the founding of Israel in 1948. REUTERS/Ammar Awad (ISRAEL - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST ANNIVERSARY)

People watch as big balloons attached to a giant keffiyeh, a traditional headscarf, are released during a rally celebrating Palestinian culture in the West Bank city of Ramallah May 13, 2010. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman (WEST BANK - Tags: SOCIETY)

Palestinian youths play with a ball during sunset at the beach of Gaza City May 13, 2010 REUTERS/Suhaib Salem (GAZA - Tags: SOCIETY TRAVEL)



A Palestinian man rides a horse during sunset at the beach of Gaza City May 13, 2010 REUTERS/Suhaib Salem (GAZA - Tags: SOCIETY ANIMALS TRAVEL)

Beyond negotiations: Palestinian strategies for advancing peace by Hussein Ibish

Beyond negotiations: Palestinian strategies for advancing peace
by Hussein Ibish
13 May 2010

WASHINGTON, DC - The Obama administration was successful in arranging for the resumption of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations through “proximity talks”, which began last week, but expectations in all quarters are correctly low for any near-term breakthrough. Consequently, Palestinians have been systematically developing a new set of peaceful strategies to achieve independence and advance a resolution to the conflict.

Since the UN General Assembly meeting in the fall, the whole thrust of American policy has been to try to get the parties back into negotiations, with the apparent hope that this would then create its own dynamic and open spaces for significant progress.

The idea of “proximity talks” in which Americans would speak alternately to Israeli and Palestinian negotiators who would not meet directly, came out of the administration’s efforts to find a way for the Palestinians to return to negotiations with Israel without a complete settlement freeze. This is, of course, an unfortunate throwback to the pre-Madrid era. An even worse throwback is the renewed Palestinian reliance on “approval” from the Arab League for what ought to be strictly Palestinian decisions regarding negotiations with Israel.

With expectations for the talks being what they are, all parties are wondering whether or not the Americans have a “Plan B”. Washington is currently embroiled in significant debates about the alternatives. One camp is urging the possible development of a broad-ranging and specific US peace plan. Another is cautioning against raising expectations and counselling that no significant progress is possible under the present circumstances. A third possibility is for the United States to internationalise the process by calling a peace summit at the end of the year in the event of a continued stalemate.

The Palestinian leadership is committed to negotiations but has no confidence they can achieve anything significant immediately given the present political climate and makeup of the Israeli cabinet. At the same time, they are resolutely opposed to armed struggle or another violent intifada. Because of this conundrum, they have been developing a series of creative alternative strategies designed to complement diplomacy and provide additional sources of momentum towards peace.

The most important of these is the state and institution building programme adopted in August 2009 by the PA cabinet, which includes creating a fully functioning bureaucracy and the institutional, economic and infrastructural basis for a successful, independent Palestinian state.

The idea is that as negotiations proceed slowly for the meanwhile, Palestinians can build the framework of their state, making independence not just a theoretical possibility but a potentially practical reality. It calls the bluff of all parties, challenging them to assess if they were ever serious about their stated commitment to a peace based on a Palestinian state.

In addition, the PA has been increasingly promoting nonviolent protests and civil disobedience in the West Bank targeted at the occupation. These protests, such as those at villages affected by the West Bank separation barrier, highlight abusive Israeli policies, and confront the occupation in a proactive but peaceful manner.

A third tactic in this emergent peaceful strategy to confront the occupation are various economic measures aimed at ridding the Palestinian economy of settlement goods, encouraging European and other states to boycott settlement products and preventing Palestinians from working in settlements. The economic aim here is to replace the settlement elements of the Palestinian economy with indigenous ones, providing alternatives to the Palestinians subsidising the settlements themselves and simultaneously expanding the Palestinian economy. All these measures are designed to emphasise the distinction between Israel itself and the occupation, and focus attention on the contradicting interests of most Israelis on the one hand, and extremist settlers on the other. Palestinians are saying to ordinary Israelis, “Our policy is not aimed at you or your country but at the extremist settlers whose activities, because they are antithetical to peace, are in the end are as damaging to you as they are to us.”

All this means that, while the Palestinian leadership is committed to a negotiated agreement, they are not relying solely on American leadership or Israeli sincerity and are developing parallel, complementary tracks that they can control and which bolster diplomacy.

All parties seriously committed to a two-state agreement, especially the international community, should welcome and support these new Palestinian initiatives, especially the state and institution building program.

###

* Hussein Ibish is a Senior Fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine and blogs at www.ibishblog.com.
This article was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews).

Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 13 May 2010,
www.commongroundnews.org
Copyright permission is granted for publication.

Common Ground News Service

by Hussein Ibish
In the fifth article in our series on religious freedom in the Israeli-Palestinian context, Hussein Ibbish from the American Task Force on Palestine contends that in a future Palestinian state, religious freedom will be possible only if the state structure is founded on secular values.
(Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 28 January 2010)

Dear AP - The Edward Said question on this years AP test

Dear AP,

I suspect you will be getting many complaints about the Edward Said question on this years AP test as there are harassment campaigns being launched to punish you for daring to print the word Palestinian.

The transition from the Zionist rally cry of "There is no such thing as a Palestinian" into a more enlightened and compassionate era is bound to be difficult. I very much hope that your best students, regardless of supposed race or religion, were able to rise to the occasion- able to concentrate on writing a great essay.... it really was a perfect question.

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

American homemaker & poet

Honoring Edward Said... analyze how the character’s experience with exile is both alienating and enriching

Edward Said and sister, Rosemarie 1940

from my dear friend Nancy:

Form A of the 2010 Advanced Placement Literature and Composition Test uses a prompt inspired by Edward Said


(Suggested time 40 minutes. This question counts as one-third of the total essay section score.)

Palestinian American literary theorist and cultural critic Edward Said has written that “Exile is strangely compelling to think about but terrible to experience. It is the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted.” Yet Said has also said that exile can become “a potent, even enriching” experience.

Select a novel, play, or epic in which a character experiences such a rift and becomes cut off from “home,” whether that home is the character’s birthplace, family, homeland, or other special place. Then write an essay in which you analyze how the character’s experience with exile is both alienating and enriching, and how this experience illuminates the meaning of the work as a whole. You may choose a work from the list below or one of comparable literary merit. Do not merely summarize the plot.

The American

Angle of Repose

Another Country

As You Like It

Brave New World

Crime and Punishment

Doctor Zhivago

Heart of Darkness

Invisible Man

Jane Eyre

Jasmine

Jude the Obscure

King Lear

The Little Foxes

Madame Bovary

The Mayor of Casterbridge

My √Āntonia

Obasan

The Odyssey

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

The Other

Paradise Lost

The Poisonwood Bible

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

The Road

Robinson Crusoe

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Sister Carrie

Sister of My Heart

Snow Falling on Cedars

The Tempest

Things Fall Apart

The Women of Brewster Place

Wuthering Heights

Piano Keys

Fayeq Oweis "The piano keys honor Edward Said’s artistic talent. They also honor his efforts in using music to bridge the Palestinian-Israeli divide (Riding 2006). Together with conductor Daniel Barenboim, he created the East-West Diwan Orchestra" Honoring Edward Said: Outline and Element Descriptions 9, featuring young Israeli and Palestinian musicians.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Nakba, Palestinian boys hold flags and keys, symbolizing the keys to houses left by Palestinians in 1948, during a rally marking the 62nd anniversary of the 'Nakba,' Arabic for catastrophe, in Gaza City, Thursday, May 13, 2010. The rally marked the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who either fled or were driven out of their homes during the 1948 war over Israel's creation (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

The Nakba continues - A solution based on UNGA Resolution 194 for the Palestinian refugees is a must.

The Nakba continues - Saeb Erekat
Published today 15:09

The Catastrophe continues. As the 62nd anniversary of the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes looms, rights continue to be violated and a solution is more urgent than ever.

A solution based on UNGA Resolution 194 for the Palestinian refugees is a must. The creation of a Palestinian state on the 1967 border, with East Jerusalem as its capital is a must. Releasing all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails is a must. Solving all permanent status issues is a must.

The international community must draw important lessons from the Nakba and make of this anniversary a date where the world upholds international law. ‘No state is above the law, and the international community must end Israeli belligerence and disregard for international law.

Sixty two years ago tomorrow, more than 726,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their homes and lands to make way for the state of Israel. They have been prevented from returning ever since. Hundreds of Palestinian villages and neighborhoods were destroyed. Today, over 7 million Palestinian refugees live in exile. Of those, more than 1.3 million Palestinians continue to live in 58 UNRWA-administered refugee camps.

In other conflicts, refugee rights have been honored and respected, including the right of return, restitution and compensation. In stark contrast, however, Israel refuses to even recognize the Palestinian right of return thus continuing to deny the refugees’ basic rights.

The Palestinian Nakba continues to this day, as Israeli practices and policies of evictions, home demolitions, deportations, settlement activities, wall building, as well as closure and siege in both the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip generate new waves of displaced persons. He called on the international community to assume its responsibility in protecting the tenets and principles of international law by pressuring Israel to immediately end these policies.

Saeb Erekat is the chief negotiator with the PLO
To foster Palestinian talent and creativity and to raise the profile of the Palestinian Nakba and the right of all forcibly displaced Palestinians to return to their homes and lands....

PLO: Palestinian Refugees’ Right of Return Is Indisputable

PLO: Palestinian Refugees’ Right of Return Is Indisputable
13.05.10 - 21:34

Ramallah – PNN - The Palestine Liberation Organization Department of International Relations reaffirmed the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their original homes is one of the inalienable national invariables.

ImageIn a press release issued today as part of the 62 anniversary of the Palestinian NAKBA commemoration activity, the Department asserted the cause of the Palestinian refugees is sacred and is one of the top priorities for the Palestinian leadership.

Additionally, the Department reiterated the PLO’s rejection to settle Palestinian refugees in the host countries where they temporarily reside. The PLO pointed out the refugees’ lawful right to return to their original homes from which they were expelled from as a result of the atrocities perpetrated by the Zionist gangs.

The right to return is in accordance with legitimate international decisions, namely UN Resolutions 194, 242, 338 and the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002.

In the same context, the Department of International Relations warned of the grave consequences of the Israeli Military Order 1650, describing it as a new means to banish more Palestinians. The Israeli military began implementing the said order by expelling dozens of Palestinians from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip or to Jordan under feeble pretences.

The order 1650, effective last month, gives the Israeli military almost full control to detain and deport anyone in the West Bank who does not have permission from Israel to live in the West Bank.

This includes tens of thousands of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, and those who returned to the West Bank and decided to stay or Gazans who are married to an Israeli Arab and lives in Israel. The order also includes non-Palestinians who are married to Palestinian citizens but do not have Israel's approval to stay in the West Bank.

The Department of International Relations called upon the international community demanding the mitigation of the historical injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people forcing 6 millions –5 millions of them are refugees- to live in the Diaspora.

These millions of Palestinians are prevented by the Israeli authorities from returning to their towns and villages, and at the same time enact racist laws to effect systematic ethnic cleansing against our people, especially in the occupied city of Jerusalem.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

US gives $20 million to rebuild Lebanon refugee camp

A man walks past damaged buildings in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared, site of clashes between the Lebanese army and the Al-Qaeda-inspired militia Fatah al-Islam, near the northern Lebanese coastal city of Tripoli in 2009. The United States on Wednesday announced it was giving 20 million dollars more to rebuild the Palestinian camp (AFP/File/Joseph Eid)

US gives $20 million to rebuild Lebanon refugee camp

BEIRUT (AFP) – The United States on Wednesday announced it was giving 20 million dollars more to rebuild a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon destroyed in 2007 clashes between the army and radical Islamists.

"Eighteen million dollars from the donation will be used in the physical reconstruction of the Nahr al-Bared camp. The remaining two million dollars will go towards relief and recovery support ... to the displaced refugees," the US embassy said.

The donation brings to 91.8 million dollars Washington's total contributions to the reconstruction of the camp in northern Lebanon, which was levelled in a three-month conflict between the army and Al-Qaeda-inspired Fatah al-Islam.

More than 400 people, including 168 soldiers, were killed in the fighting, and the camp's 31,000 residents were transferred to nearby camps. Some of those people have since returned.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which is seeking 450 million dollars to rebuild the camp and 15 nearby villages, said on Wednesday that some 209 million dollars were stilled needed.

Filmmaker pursues dream despite tough life in refugee camp



Brooklyn, New York (VBS.TV) -- Ahmad Iskander is a Palestinian Boy Scout leader who lives in Bourj al Barajneh, one of the biggest and most well-known Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

It is in southern Beirut and is home to about 100,000 permanently displaced Palestinians. Life is and has been difficult for Ahmad, his family and his community. Food, water and electricity are consistently scarce, and the basics of life are always a challenge...READ MORE

Jerusalem Day is Every Day for Us By Joharah Baker for MIFTAH

http://www.miftah.org/Display.cfm?DocId=22097&CategoryId=13
Date posted: May 12, 2010
By Joharah Baker for MIFTAH

As strange as this may sound to an outsider, there is no day out the year that I despise more than Jerusalem Day. I live in Jerusalem, my children were born there and to me, it is the city closest to my heart. Still, tell me "Jerusalem Day" three times and I might just start hyperventilating. This is because Jerusalem Day is when the government of Israel, followed by hundreds of thousands of Israelis celebrate the "reunification of Jerusalem". To Palestinians, this is retranslated into "the day the rest of Jerusalem fell". Jerusalem Day marks the day in June 1967 when Israel occupied the eastern sector of the city along with the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. It is the day when Jerusalem was "returned to them" and it is marked with celebrations from the morning until after sunset.

Sometime in the late afternoon, Jerusalem Day reaches my doorstep. Tens and thousands of young, overzealous young Israelis march through the streets of the Old City on their way to the Western Wall in what they call the "Flag Dance". As my neighborhood is en route to this Wall (not to be confused with the "other" wall designed especially for the Palestinians), the neighborhood's entrance is cordoned off by Israeli police and border guards and shop owners are ordered to close shop in order to "keep the peace." Again, this is translated into trying to keep the friction between these hostile Israelis and Palestinians at a minimum by keeping the Palestinians indoors.

Let me just say one thing. Palestinians are used to seeing armed and often belligerent Israelis walk the streets of their neighborhoods' and quarters in Jerusalem's Old City. In addition to the suffocating presence of Israeli military personnel throughout the alleys and gateways of the Old City, Palestinians are constantly plagued with the menacing company of Jewish settlers, who roam the streets night and day. However, on Jerusalem Day, instead of 10 or 20 Israeli police or settlers, Palestinians are drowned in a sea of thousands. And these are not left-wing Israelis who come to Jerusalem to protest Israel's occupation of the city or to defend the rights of Palestinians who have been evicted from their homes by extremist settlers. No, these are swarms of Israeli youths mostly who have come to claim the city as their own, banging on Palestinian shop doors as they dance and shout through the streets, knocking over kiosks and hanging Israeli flags provocatively on bolted Palestinian doors.

It is unsettling, to say the least. After the initial mistake of trying to make my way home in the late afternoon hours one year on Jerusalem Day, I have since decided it is not worth it and now stay home while they stampede through my quarter. But as bad as it is for me, I can only imagine the stinging pain those who were exiled from their homes in Jerusalem – both from the western sector in 1948 and since 1967 as a result of Israel's ongoing cleansing of the city from its Palestinian inhabitants must feel each year. As Israelis celebrate the "reunification" of Jerusalem, Palestinians from the city experience a reopening of a wound that has yet to heal 62 years later. These Palestinians, who were made refugees in 1948 and in 1967 and those who have experienced expulsions, home evictions and ID confiscations, will not be rejoicing today, nor will their plight be part of the many speeches in honor of Jerusalem. Neither will those who now live on the street or in tents set up for them by strangers because Israeli settlers evicted them from their homes. The fact that 74 percent of Palestinian children in Jerusalem live in poverty will not be an issue nor will the fact that the quality of education between east and west is morbidly lopsided. No, these are issues that taint the image of a unified Jerusalem for Israel's government and the majority of its people. Anyway, the plight of Palestinians is hardly a concern for many Israelis, especially those in the higher echelons of government. Dismissing their presence is obviously a much more fruitful policy.

On this day, I propose that the Palestinians designate their own Jerusalem Day. On this day, those whose villages were destroyed, whose homes were demolished or taken over and whose land now houses illegal Jewish settlements, should be given a voice. The world should hear the other side of the story of Jerusalem, the story of Lifta, of Malha and of Ein Karem. It should hear of the people of Jerusalem who were forced into a life of refuge and of exile or those who, if they peer out of their window into west Jerusalem, can see their stone house in Katamon, now inhabited by European Jews. Our Jerusalem Day should be about Ma'man Allah Cemetery, a Muslim cemetery in the city that has been desecrated, built on and leveled to ironically make room for a Museum of Tolerance. It should be about the Moroccan Quarter, which was completely destroyed in 1948 to make room for the Jewish Quarter inside the city walls. It should be about the Palestinians who struggle everyday to stay in the city and not fall within the cracks of Israel's racist policies against the Palestinians that allow them to be kicked out of their own homes and their own city.

Just how significant Jerusalem is to Palestinians can only fully be understood by Palestinians themselves. It goes beyond words and lies in a coveted and cherished place in every Palestinian heart. Every day is Jerusalem Day for us, every day a reminder that our loss of Jerusalem only makes our resolve to regain it that much stronger.

Joharah Baker is a Writer for the Media and Information Department at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). She can be contacted at mid@miftah.org.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Readout of the President Obama's Call with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/readout-presidents-call-with-president-abbas-palestinian-authority

Readout of the President's Call with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority

The President spoke today with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. The President congratulated President Abbas on the start of Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks. He reiterated his strong support for the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian state living in peace and security with Israel. The President and President Abbas discussed the need for both parties to negotiate seriously and in good faith, and to move from proximity talks to direct negotiations as soon as possible in order to reach an agreement on permanent status issues. The President expressed appreciation for President’s Abbas recent outreach to the Israeli people by appearing on Israeli television, and urged that President Abbas do everything he can to prevent acts of incitement or delegitimization of Israel. The President confirmed his intention to hold both sides accountable for actions that undermine trust during the talks. He said he looks forward to receiving President Abbas at the White House soon.

UNRWA marks 60th anniversary of operations with push to raise funds, awareness

UNRWA marks 60th anniversary of operations with push to raise funds, awareness
An UNRWA school in the capital. Proceeds from a concert by Marwan Abado on Sunday in Amman will support UNRWA educational projects in Jordan (JT file photo )
An UNRWA school in the capital. Proceeds from a concert by Marwan Abado on Sunday in Amman will support UNRWA educational projects in Jordan (JT file photo )


By Jonah Shepp

AMMAN - As UNRWA observes the 60th anniversary of its operations this month, the agency is working to raise awareness of the continuing need for its services amid significant financial challenges, UNRWA Director of Operations in Jordan Richard Cook said earlier this week.

At a press conference on Monday with Austria-based Palestinian musician Marwan Abado, who is touring the region next week to raise funds for UNRWA’s education programmes, Cook acknowledged that the agency’s 60th anniversary “is not something to celebrate”, as it is a reminder that the Palestinian refugee crisis remains unresolved.

Instead, he said, UNRWA is celebrating the achievements of Palestinians like Abado, describing him as “a great example of what Palestinian refugees have done around the world”.

Next week’s series of concerts is one of several events the agency is holding this year to commemorate six decades of service to Palestine refugees, through which it hopes to raise badly needed funds as well as awareness of the persistent urgency of its humanitarian mission both in the Middle East and in Western countries, Cook explained.

Fritz Edlinger, secretary general of the Society for Austro-Arab Relations, stressed at the press conference that much work remains to be done to increase the profile of the Palestinian cause and rally support for Palestinian rights in the international arena, particularly in Western countries.

“Everybody’s talking peace, but on the ground, the train is going backwards,” he said. “We have to put pressure on our people to take [the Palestinian issue] seriously.”

Edlinger, whose NGO is co-organising Abado’s tour along with UNRWA, said the purpose of the concert series is in part to remind people of the ongoing plight of Palestinian refugees, and in part to “give some hope and encouragement” to refugees living in the region.

Abado himself told the press that although he has lived in Vienna for over two decades and holds Austrian citizenship, he grew up with, and still holds, a “strong sense of belonging, not to a political programme or party, but to a homeland”.

Born as a refugee in Lebanon, Abado received part of his elementary education at an UNRWA school in Dbayeh refugee camp, according to a statement from the tour organisers.

As a child, the oud player and composer said he was always taught that “education was the only route to a better life”, a maxim he has followed and now seeks to pass on.

He explained that all proceeds from his upcoming concerts in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon will go to support UNRWA’s various educational projects in these countries.

Today the agency serves up to 4.7 million registered refugees. The majority of its 30,000 staff members are teachers working in schools across the Middle East for some 500,000 students, according to UNRWA.

Abado and his band will perform at Al Hussein Cultural Centre on Sunday, May 16 at 8:00pm. Their regional tour will also include performances in Damascus, Aleppo, Sidon and Beirut, the last of which will also be broadcast live in Bethlehem.


12 May 2010

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Lack of human security impeding progress for Palestinians, says UN-backed report

Lack of human security impeding progress for Palestinians, says UN-backed report

Palestinian women walk near Israel's barrier near Ramallah in the West Bank

9 May 2010 – Human security is a pre-requisite for development, and its widespread absence in the occupied Palestinian territory has greatly impeded progress for the people living there, according to a new report released today by the United Nations.

The Palestinian Human Development Report 2009/10, written by an independent team and sponsored by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), explores different facets of human security – economy, food, health, environment, political, personal, community – from the perspective of establishing freedom from want, freedom from fear and freedom to live in dignity.

It argues that sustained development will not be possible until Palestinians are afforded economic and environmental control, particularly on issues such trade, water resources and borders.

The Report notes that while many Palestinians are given enough food aid to sustain themselves, they remain in a state of dependency because they are unable to make enough money to feed themselves – what the authors refer to as a “poverty of disempowerment.”

The education and health care system are cited as examples of areas in which Palestinians, given a window of opportunity, have made progress. On the other hand, the national economy has consistently weakened over the reporting period due to stringent control.

In addition, Palestinians have no authority over their air space, territorial waters, natural resources, movement and the macro-economic instruments that enable economic autonomy, according to the publication, the fifth in a series of human development reports focusing on the Palestinians.

“Human security is the platform for development, the aim of which is to create an environment where people can enjoy long, healthy and creative lives,” said UNDP Special Representative Jens Toyberg-Frandzen, who launched the Report in Ramallah along with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

“This report is a reminder that Palestinians continue to face many challenges including the occupation and internal fragmentation.”

Another major hindrance is the territorial fragmentation of the occupied Palestinian territory, which the authors contend has severely weakened the central authority and governance institutions of the Palestinian Authority and intensified internal Palestinian political polarization.

This has resulted in more political violence and the suppression of civil rights by the various authorities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, they add.

The Report recommends devising a strategy to promote territorial contiguity, economic integration, social cohesion, sovereignty and political reconciliation. It also suggests establishing a Commission for Representative Governance to monitor the implementation of the strategy and boost transparency and accountability.

News Tracker: past stories on this issue

Palestinian institution-building efforts continue despite challenges, UN seminar told