Saturday, October 16, 2010

My letter to the LATimes RE Israel OKs new homes in East Jerusalem, raising doubts about peace talks

RE: Israel OKs new homes in East Jerusalem, raising doubts about peace talks, The planned 238 houses on disputed land end a de facto construction freeze and lead Palestinian officials to accuse Israeli leaders of trying to sabotage negotiations.,0,842905.story

Dear Editor,

Imagine if, as of today, right here in America you can get a permit to build a new home, live in your home, renovate your home, add an addition to your home, leave and return to your home - but only if you have been deemed the "right" religion.

Imagine if, as of today, the USA forced all American taxpayers to fund Christian construction projects, religious scholars, schools, propaganda and "security".... and made all new immigrants pledge an oath affirming the Christian nature of our country.

And imagine if the USA decided to ignore its own borders- annexing both Canada and Mexico, but refusing to give the Canadians and Mexicans anything but grief: No citizenship rights, no freedom, no peace, no justice, no future- no hope.

Seems to me Israel's ongoing and flagrant violations of international law and the Palestinians basic human rights are very much aimed at getting Palestinians too angry, too frustrated and too disenfranchised to think clearly, in hopes that Palestinians will turn on each other - and America.

Anne Selden Annab

The Golden Rule... Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Riz Khan - Is the one-state solution viable?

Friday, October 15, 2010

My letter to IHT 10-15-2010 RE Smothered by Settlements By Mustafa Barghouthi

RE: Smothered by Settlements By Mustafa Barghouthi

Dear Sir,

Mustafa Barghouthi is wise to point out that "We have reached, and probably surpassed, that critical point at which any more settlements mean the death of the two-state solution....The Israeli establishment knows this better than anybody. They also know that their hard-line positions on issues like Jerusalem and borders mean transforming the idea of Palestinian statehood into something much less: isolated clusters of land in a system of segregation."

However, I would not have injected the idea "and
probably surpassed" as if a tipping point will make the removal of Israel's illegal settlements and an end to the Israel/Palestine conflict impossible. Both Zionist zealots and Islamist factions are quite eager to dismiss, discredit and dismantle the Palestinian Authority. Neither need more proof that their one state thrust is a winning formula. Creating a fully secular two state solution really is the best way to disarm religious zealots and hate mongers on both sides.

I understand the temptation to scorn and doubt American efforts for Palestine. However I very much believe that the State-building strategy of the United States and the donor community do not need to be tested: Despite much Zionist pressure to eliminate UNWRA, the US is and has been the largest single state donor to UNRWA, (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees) providing food, shelter, medical care, and education for many of the original refugees from 1948.
The United States has also provided a welcoming home and real freedom to many Palestinians pushed into forced exile and/or voluntarily moving away from the conflict.

Furthermore please note that the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), established in 2003 to provide an independent voice for Palestinian-Americans and their supporters in order to promote peace and Palestine, recently announced that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the keynote speaker at its Fifth Annual Gala. One of my favorite poets Naomi Shihab Nye will be honored with an award for Excellence in the Arts.
ATFP's Gala also has an Artists Corner pointing out that "these talented individuals have spoken volumes, celebrating Arab and Arab-American culture with vibrancy" My favorite artist there is Helen Zughaib... "Hopefulness, healing and spirituality, are all themes that are woven into her work."

Anne Selden Annab

The Golden Rule... Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My letters to USAToday, Boston Globe, NYTimes REGARDING Palestine and peace... and respecting the Palestinian refugees very real right to return

One of many paintings by exiled Palestinian artist, Ismail Shammout 1930- 2006

RE: PLO envoy: Israel is playing politics

Dear Editor

DELIGHTED to see the informative and interesting USAToday interview with the PLO envoy (Maen Rashid Areikat, Palestine Liberation Organization representative to the United States) explaining the secular nature of the Palestinians quest for freedom.

I adore how Areikat answered that last question about the concern many Israelis have- that Palestinians are negotiating for a two-state solution "is a way to get to a two-stage solution — and that the second stage is the rest of the land." His answer was surprising- and very uplifting. It really is too easy to be mired in the worst aspects of what has been, and to lose sight of what might be- our pessimism and negativity becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. His call to change that paradigm is invigorating.

Looks to me like today's Palestine is very much heading towards establishing a Golden Rule peace for the region by ending the Israel/Palestine conflict in line with international law and full respect for basic human rights. I hope that Israelis also find the courage and compassion to think clearly and do what needs to be done so that a real Palestine PLUS a just and lasting peace can flourish- for everyone's sake.

Anne Selden Annab

RE: A cycle of retribution, For both Israelis and Palestinians, the violence is not arbitrary

Dear Editor,

Thank you for publishing "A cycle of retribution, For both Israelis and Palestinians, the violence is not arbitrary". However, since Israel is one of the most powerful military machines on earth, and Palestinians have been harshly oppressed and impoverished (and displaced) for generations I think it would have been much more accurate and telling had the first line and reference been about Israeli violence towards the Palestinians.

Perhaps the authors felt that more Zionists would be willing to read the op-ed to the end if the op-ed began with crimes by Hamas and it was illustrated with a beautiful young Israeli woman in obvious grief. Tragically religious extremists, radicals, and hate mongers on both sides are thriving on the continuation of the conflict itself, and having a captive audience to take advantage of... This situation is bound to go from bad to worse if left unchecked. I very much agree with the assessment that "To make progress, both sides must stop attributing the conflict to the fundamental and immutable character of the other side, and focus instead on aspects of its own behavior that perpetuate the conflict."

For everyone's sake it really it is crucially important to understand that "ending the occupation of Palestinian land is not a painful concession that Israel should make in exchange for something else, but a step that is in Israel’s own narrow self interest."

Anne Selden Annab

RE: An End to Israel’s Invisibility

Dear Editor,

Knowing that Israel's ongoing crimes against the Palestinians are barely noticed- thus rendering them essentially invisible in our mainstream newspapers, on first reading the headline "An End to Israel’s Invisibility " my first thought was EXCELLENT- finally the full and total truth about Israel's pernicious violations of international law and the Palestinians basic human rights will be brought to light here in the USA by our mainstream media- and our Congress will better understand just exactly what it is they are favoring by favoring modern man made Israel. But alas and alack- no such luck. Instead we have yet another Zionist propaganda piece headlined and sure to be fawned over by religious extremists and hate mongers on both sides, each in their own way.

I wonder how many reasonable people just throw up their hands in disgust rather than reaching out to argue for the umpteenth time on obvious points. For instance regarding Israel's "DNA": Surely both people and countries should be judged by the content of their character and by their actions- not by the color of their skin or any other DNA related aspect. Furthermore American taxpayers are not forced to fund prayers in our own pubic schools- why then are American taxpayers being forced to help fund Israel's generously subsidized 'religious scholars' ( and Israel's illegal settlement practices AND institutionalized bigotry on both sides of that monstrous Israeli made Apartheid-Security wall) and Israel's supposed Jewishnesses?

The core of the Israel/Palestine conflict is not all about how Palestinians feel about Jewish people- the core is the ongoing and punitive Nakba as Israel cruelly persecutes, impoverishes and displaces the native-non-Jewish population of the Holy Land.... AND as far as the Palestinian refugees right of return goes, it is the right to return: RETURN not more forced transfer. The PLO has already made it quite clear that Palestinian refugees are more than welcome to relocate as in "resettlement in a newly independent Palestine". Please note that the PLO has also wisely pointed out that "What is important is that individual refugees decide for themselves which option they prefer – a decision must not be imposed upon them." Hmmmm individual freedom- what a concept!!!

Anne Selden Annab

Palestinians have recognized Israel on 78% of historic Palestine while accepting to create a state on the remaining 22%. The PLO’s position is consistent with international law which forbids Israel from acquiring territory by force.

PLO on the Refugees and the Right of Return "Palestinian refugees must be given the option to exercise their right of return (as well as receive compensation for their losses arising from their dispossession and displacement) though refugees may prefer other options such as: (i) resettlement in third countries, (ii) resettlement in a newly independent Palestine (even though they originate from that part of Palestine which became Israel) or (iii) normalization of their legal status in the host country where they currently reside. What is important is that individual refugees decide for themselves which option they prefer – a decision must not be imposed upon them."

"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."Eleanor Roosevelt

THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

The Golden Rule... Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

San Diego Reader | Two Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye

San Diego Reader | Two Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye

My letter to the New York Times RE In West Bank, Peace Symbol Now Signifies Struggle

The Day of Land by Tamam Al-Akhal

RE: In West Bank, Peace Symbol Now Signifies Struggle

Dear Editor,

I am grateful to see the story "In West Bank, Peace Symbol Now Signifies Struggle". Seems to me, due to the steadfastness of many concerned humanitarians, diplomats, researchers, and writers worldwide, even the New York Times is inching towards generating more revealing and honest stories regarding the Israel/Palestine conflict... and the very real plight of the Palestinians.

Today Palestinian negotiators, very much sabotaged and undermined by both Israeli intransigence and Islamist ideologues, are confronting Israel's asinine refusal to stop its illegal settlement activities by demanding that the US administration and Israel define Israel's borders: ""If this map is based on the 1967 borders and provides for the end of the Israeli occupation over all Palestinian lands... then we recognise Israel by whatever name it applies to itself in accordance with international law," Abed Rabbo said, without providing further details."

Investing in a fully secular two state solution really is the only way to end the contentious Israel/Palestine conflict- and the bigotry, injustice, religious tyranny, extremism and angst that are thriving with the continuation of hostilities. A just and lasting peace might seem highly improbable- but then again, not too long ago, so was the idea of putting a man on the moon.

Anne Selden Annab

Growing Gardens for Palestine

The Golden Rule... Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

In West Bank, Peace Symbol Now Signifies Struggle

On Monday, Hussein Said Hussein Abu Aliya found olive trees poisoned, he said, by settlers. Photo by Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times

Olives were also stolen from hundreds of trees in villages.

In West Bank, Peace Symbol Now Signifies Struggle

TURMUS AYA, West Bank — Palestinians from villages like this one in the West Bank governorate of Ramallah still remember when the olive harvest was a joyous occasion, with whole families out for days in the fall sunshine, gathering the year’s crop and picnicking under the trees.

“We considered it like a wedding,” said Hussein Said Hussein Abu Aliya, 68.

But when Mr. Abu Aliya and his family from the neighboring village of Al-Mughayer — 36 of them in all, including grandchildren — drove out to their land this week in a snaking convoy of cars and pickup trucks with others from Turmus Aya, they found scores of their trees on the rocky slopes in various stages of decay, recently poisoned, they said, by Jewish settlers from an illegal Israeli outpost on top of the hill...READ MORE

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Helen Thomas on being anti-Semitic: 'Baloney!'

Helen Thomas on being anti-Semitic: 'Baloney!'

MARION, Ohio — In a radio interview, former White House correspondent Helen Thomas acknowledges she touched a nerve with remarks about Israel that led to her retirement. But she says the comments were "exactly what I thought," even though she realized soon afterward that it was the end of her job.

"I hit the third rail. You cannot criticize Israel in this country and survive," Thomas told Ohio station WMRN-AM in a sometimes emotional 35-minute interview that aired Tuesday. It was recorded a week earlier by WMRN reporter Scott Spears at Thomas' Washington, D.C., condominium.

Thomas, 90, stepped down from her job as a columnist for Hearst News Service in June after a rabbi and independent filmmaker videotaped her outside the White House calling on Israelis to get "out of Palestine." She gave up her front row seat in the White House press room, where she had aimed often pointed questions at 10 presidents, going back to Eisenhower.

She has kept a low profile since then.

"(It was) very hard for the first two weeks. After that, I came out of my coma," Thomas said.

Rabbi David Nesenoff, who runs the website, said he approached Thomas after he'd been at the White House for Jewish Heritage Day on May 27. He asked whether she had any comments on Israel.

"Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine," she replied.

"Remember, these people are occupied and it's their land. It's not Germany, it's not Poland," she continued. Asked where they should go, she answered, "They should go home."

"Where's home?" Nesenoff asked.

"Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else," Thomas replied.

"I told him exactly what I thought," she told Spears, who said during the interview that some accounts left off her reference to America. Thomas did not disagree.

"I was not talking about Auschwitz or anything else," she said.

"They distorted my remarks, which they obviously have to do for their own propaganda purposes, otherwise people might wonder why they continue to take Palestinian land," said Thomas, a daughter of Lebanese immigrants who over the years did little to hide her pro-Arab views. There was no explanation of whom "they" referred to.

When she soon began getting calls about her remark, "I said this is the end of my job."

She issued an apology, she told the radio interviewer, because people were upset and she thought she had hurt people. "At the same time, I had the same feelings about Israel's aggression and brutality," Thomas said.

Asked whether she's anti-Semitic, she responded "Baloney!" She said she wants to be remembered for "integrity and my honesty and my belief in good journalism" and would like to work again....READ MORE

In West Bank, olive groves are on the front line in struggle over land
In West Bank, olive groves are on the front line in struggle over land
By Joel Greenberg Special to the Washington Post
Tuesday, October 12, 2010; 7:39 PM

TURMUS AYYA, WEST BANK - When members of the Shalabi family went out recently to harvest their olives, they discovered that a few dozen trees had been chopped down, their branches hacked by vandals. In other groves belonging to this Palestinian village, there were scores of dead trees that had apparently been poisoned, with holes drilled in their trunks.

The groves are near Adei Ad, an unauthorized Jewish settlement outpost, and villagers, citing past incidents of assaults and harassment, pointed an accusing finger at the settlers.

"You work hard for years to tend the tree, like raising a child, and when you see it destroyed, the feeling cannot be described," Nahil Shalabi, a family member, said as she surveyed the damage. "No one stops them," she added, referring to the vandals.

The olive harvest is an annual ritual in the rocky hills of the West Bank. Families take to the groves to work and picnic together, climbing ladders to pick the hard green or black fruit, a traditional staple of the Palestinian economy, or knocking it off with sticks onto tarps spread under the trees.

But the harvest is also a time of heightened tension between Palestinians and militant Jewish settlers, with some of the olive groves near the settlements becoming a front line in the struggle over land in the West Bank...READ MORE

Charlie Rose Interview with Budrus filmmaker Julia Bacha and Queen Noor of Jordan

Charlie Rose Interview with Budrus filmmaker Julia Bacha and Queen Noor of Jordan

The film, which documents non-violent resistance in the West Bank, opened last week in New York City and will open in other U.S. cities in the coming weeks.

GIRLAFESTO... Uniting Girls to Change the World

My letter to The Guardian RE The upcoming OECD tourism summit in Jerusalem will test its member countries' commitment to international law

The crown jewel of Jerusalem is Palestine's glorious Dome of the Rock. It was completed in 691-692, making it the oldest existing Islamic building in the world according to wikipedia. The names of the two engineers in charge of the project are given as: Yazid Ibn Salam from Jerusalem and Raja Ibn Haywah from Baysan.

Israel lists tourist sites in occupied territory, such as the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, as Israeli. Photograph: Michele Falzone/JAI/Corbis

RE: Can the OECD stand up to Israel? The upcoming OECD tourism summit in Jerusalem will test its member countries' commitment to international law by Sam Bahour and Charles Shamas

Dear Sir,

Thank you for publishing the revealing article "
Can the OECD stand up to Israel?" concerning the fact that the upcoming OECD tourism summit in Jerusalem will test its member countries' commitment to international law... and Palestine.

It is quite troubling to read of this upcoming tourism conference considering the fact that as of this week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now refusing to stop Israel's settlement activities in the illegally occupied territories unless Palestinians agree to recognize Israel as a "Jewish state."
Hussein Ibish rightly points out that "Netanyahu's “Jewish state” demand is ultimately about Jerusalem.

Time and time again modern man made Israel has done all it can to harass, displace, discredit, divide, demoralize and silence the native non-Jewish men women and children of historic Palestine. Economics, institutionalized bigotry and ignorance play a large part in how Jews-preferred Israel has been able to disenfranchise and oppress the native non-Jewish Palestinians on both sides of that ugly Israeli made Apartheid-Security Wall.

Zionist tours are often arranged for American politicians and businessmen, giving a very skewed picture of what really is going on. Israel's own school children are also victims of this skewed picture: Last year, the Israeli educational ministry banned the use of the word "Nakba" in school textbooks as part of a larger effort to promote Jewish identity. Last month Israeli officials harassed the principal of an Israeli school
for using the textbook "Learning the Historical Narrative of the Other" which covers both Israeli and Palestinian views of the violence around the time of Israel's birth in 1948.

Ending the Israel/Palestine conflict with a secular two state solution in line with international law and The Universal Declaration of Human Rights really should be a top priority for all who value the lessons learned from history, as well as good business practices.... and The Golden Rule. Be wary of disingenuous Zionist propaganda: International law and The Arab Peace Initiative really do provide the best guide posts for travelers and residents who wish to help empower a just and lasting peace for everyone's sake.

Anne Selden Annab

Growing Gardens for Palestine

The Golden Rule... Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Coming to America by Helen Zughaib

ATFP ARTISTS CORNER: "Helen served as United States Cultural Envoy to the West Bank, Palestine. Zughaib feels that her background in the Middle East allows her to approach the experiences she has in America, in a unique way, remaining an observer of both the Arab and American cultures. She believes that the Arts are one of the most important tools we have to help shape and foster dialogue and positive ideas about the Middle East. Hopefulness, healing and spirituality, are all themes that are woven into her work..."
Stories My Father Told Me, by Helen Zughaib : Coming to America It was the end of a long wait and a long sea voyage. During dinner the night before we arrived, we learned that our ship, the Vulcania, would be passing by the Statue of Liberty at about 4 a.m. the next morning. A spontaneous decision was made by some of the younger passengers to see the Statue of Liberty. And so, sixteen days after leaving the port in Beirut for New York City, an exuberant group of young people from Syria, Lebanon and Palestine stayed up all night to greet the dawn and the Statue of Liberty. My father remembers it was a clear morning.

The Guardian: Israeli troops accused of shooting children in Gaza

Israeli troops accused of shooting children in Gaza

At least 10 Palestinian children have been shot and wounded by Israeli troops in the past three months while collecting rubble in or near the "buffer zone" created by Israel along the Gaza border, in a low-intensity offensive on the fringes of the blockaded Palestinian territory.

Israeli soldiers are routinely shooting at Gazans well beyond the unmarked boundary of the official 300 metre-wide no-go area, rights groups say.

According to Bassam Masri, head of orthopaedics at the Kamal Odwan hospital in Beit Lahiya in the north of Gaza, about 50 people have been treated for gunshot wounds suffered in or near the buffer zone while collecting rubble in the past three months; about five have been killed.

He estimates that 30% of the injured are boys under 18.

Defence for Children International (DCI) has documented 10 cases of children aged 13 to 17 being shot in a three-month period between 50 and 800 metres from the border. Nine were shot in a leg or arm; one was shot in the stomach.

The creation of the no-go area has forced farmers to abandon land and residents to leave homes for fear of coming under fire. Last month a 91-year-old man and two teenage boys were killed while harvesting olives outside the official zone when Israeli troops fired shells. Forty-three goats also died in the attack.

In another case a mother of five was killed by a shell outside her home near the zone in July....READ MORE

A Palestinian Mural

Monday, October 11, 2010

Netanyahu's “Jewish state” demand is ultimately about Jerusalem

Hussein Ibish: "Netanyahu is essentially asking the Palestinians to give up on not one, but in effect two of the four major permanent status issues: refugees and, you game it out logically, in effect Jerusalem as well.

He's asking for this in return for an eight week extension of a partial, temporary moratorium that led to a minor slowdown but not a halt in settlement expansion and never covered Jerusalem.

What he's really asking for is an explicit concession on a new, highly problematic and emotional non-permanent status issue, not to mention massive implicit concessions on permanent status issues, in return for a very partial and very temporary meeting of Israel's obligations under Phase One of the Roadmap of the Middle East Quartet.

There is no basis in international law for Israel to claim a right to continue any form of settlement activity whatsoever.

It has been asked not to do so repeatedly by its major ally the United States.

And it is obliged by the Roadmap not to do so.

The idea that it would fulfill this obligation partially and for eight weeks in exchange for one of the most far-reaching Palestinian gestures imaginable with extremely serious implications for two of the most important permanent status issues is, frankly, insulting and indeed frivolous."

Netanyahu's “Jewish state” demand is ultimately about Jerusalem

A general view shows the Dome of the Rock (C) in the al-Aqsa Compund in the old city of Jerusalem. The United States pledged to keep working to rescue Middle East peace talks after Arab ministers gave it one month from Friday to secure a change of heart from Israel over Jewish settlement building. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, center right, and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, center left, cut the ribbon during a inauguration ceremony of the Mahmoud Darwish street, named after the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, in the West Bank city of Jericho, Monday, Oct. 11, 2010. Kouchner and Moratinos are on an official visit to Israel and the West Bank. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

In this Oct. 5, 2010 photo, construction trucks are seen behind a Palestinian flag at the site for the Palestinian urban project Rawabi in the village of Atara, near the West Bank city of Ramallah. It is billed as a symbol of the future Palestine: a modern, middle-class city of orderly streets, parks and shopping plazas rising in the hills of the West Bank, ready for independence, affluence and peace. But the $800-million project has hit a snag: Palestinians say construction of the city of Rawabi depends on getting an access road, which can't go ahead without Israeli permission. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

Young Israeli settlers watch as a group of Palestinian protesters, along with Israeli and foreign peace activists, demonstrate against settlements near an Israeli army checkpoint which controls the movement of Palestinians to protect hardline Jewish settlers living in the city centre of Hebron in the occupied West Bank. (AFP/File/Hazem Bader)

A Palestinian boy watches as an Israeli army patrol passes through the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. Israel has refused Palestinian and international demands to extend a 10-month moratorium on new settler homes that expired last month despite Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas vowing that there will be no further talks until settlement activity halts. (AFP/File/Hazem Bader)

Palestinian, Israeli and foreign peace activists hold signs outside a Palestinian house occupied by Israeli settlers in east Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood during a weekly protest against Israeli settlements. The US pledged to keep working to rescue Middle East peace talks after Arab ministers gave it one month from Friday to secure a change of heart from Israel over settlement building. (AFP/File/Ahmad Gharabli)

In this photo taken Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010, Mohammed Abu Lela, 7, plays on a swing in front of his family's tent, in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip. Four months after Israel eased its Gaza blockade, several dozen stalled international aid projects worth tens of millions - from sewage treatment plants to wells - are slowly beginning to move forward. But one of the biggest needs in rebuilding the territory of 1.5 million Palestinians remains unmet - Gazans cannot rebuild thousands of badly needed homes destroyed in Israeli military offensives because Israel keeps a tight lid on importing cement and steel. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

A Palestinian farmer picks olives during harvest in the West Bank village of Nilin near Ramallah September 28, 2010. The Jewish settlement of Hashmonaim is seen in the background. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad picks olives as he visits Palestinian farmers at the beginning of olive harvest season in the West Bank village of Iraq Burin, near Nablus, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad (R) assists Palestinian farmers during the olive harvest in the West Bank village of Iraq Borin near Nablus October 9, 2010. REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini (WEST BANK - Tags: POLITICS AGRICULTURE FOOD IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad (C) watches as olives are sorted during an olive harvest by Palestinian farmers in the West Bank village of Iraq Borin near Nablus October 9, 2010. REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini (WEST BANK - Tags: SOCIETY AGRICULTURE FOOD)

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, right, watches olives being sorted as he visits Palestinian farmers at the beginning of olive harvest season in the West Bank village of Iraq Burin, near Nablus, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, center, watches olives being sorted as he visits Palestinian farmers at the beginning of olive harvest season in the West Bank village of Iraq Burin, near Nablus, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010 (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)

A Palestinian family harvest their olive trees in the village of Qabatiya, near the West Bank city of Jenin. Arab countries have given Washington a month to try to rescue Middle East peace talks, a diplomat said on Friday after Palestinians threatened to quit the talks over Israeli settlement building. (AFP/Saif Dahlah)

Palestine Sunbird Postage Stamp

My letter to MIFTAH 10-11-10 I Pledge Allegiance to What? By Joharah Baker

RE: I Pledge Allegiance to What? By Joharah Baker for MIFTAH

Dear Miftah,

Another EXCELLENT article by Joharah Baker ! I very much appreciate how well she explains things, how deftly she is able to describe what is going on, and how she tackles the most difficult subjects. However, I am not sure that the objection to Israel's newest racist law and escalating institutionalized bigotry is about "excluding the Palestinians and denying their national identity" as much is it is about excluding Palestinians and denying their history and their heritage.

For most of recorded history that place was Palestine- and people of all three Abrahamic faiths lived there as indigenous people. That history and heritage is something to be proud of- something to celebrate... something to aspire to once again, regardless of what borders might be where- or what name is stamped on anyone's passport.

Furthermore if a real Palestinian state, a viable and sovereign secular state living in peace alongside Israel ever comes to be, it will be that modern Palestine that mainly shapes how the world perceives the Palestinian national identity. I assume the Palestinian State will also remain involved in helping to protect the basic human rights and freedoms of the Palestinian men, women and children remaining in, as well as the
Palestinian men, women and children
returning to Israel.

Anne Selden Annab

Growing Gardens for Palestine

The Golden Rule... Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Hussein Ibish: Palestinian state building has nothing in common with Israeli settlement activity...

"The fact that Israel is the occupying power in the occupied territories carries with it tremendous legal and political significance, which of course is why Israel generally speaking denies that it is the occupying power or that the territories are occupied.

For a start, a very large body of international law prohibits settling or colonizing territories under occupation, as well as the acquisition of territory by war.

Most notably, Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits occupying powers from transferring its civilian population into territories under occupation.

Supporters of the settlement movement sometimes try to get around this by arguing that it refers only to forced transfer of such populations.

Again, this is obviously specious since there are numerous other provisions of the Convention already prohibiting forced transfers of populations against their will, which would make Article 49 redundant and meaningless.

Moreover, the Geneva Convention was adopted in the aftermath of the second world war, and in full memory of colonization and population transfers engaged in by the axis powers, especially Nazi Germany, and this was clearly seen as a human rights abuse against people living under occupation.

This is why a prohibition of such activity was included in a human rights instrument designed to protect civilians in a time or context of war.

In other words, resting simply on the Geneva Convention, we can say with certainty that beyond simply being illegal, Israel's settlement activities are a human rights violation against the civilian Palestinian population in the occupied territories." Hussein Ibish

Palestinian state building has nothing in common with Israeli settlement activity

I Pledge Allegiance to What? By Joharah Baker for MIFTAH this November 4, 1948 file photo, Arab refugees stream from what was then Palestine, on the road to Lebanon in northern Israel to flee fighting in the Galilee region in the Arab-Israeli war. An Israeli high school principal has been summoned for a hearing by the country's Education Ministry for using a textbook presenting the Palestinian narrative about events surrounding Israel's creation in 1948, officials said Friday, Oct. 1, 2010. Israeli Jews celebrate 1948 as the year of their independence, while Palestinians and Israel's Arab citizens mourn what they call 'al-naqba', the catastrophe, the year of their defeat and mass exodus. (AP Photo, File)

Sometimes, Israeli leaders go so far to the extreme that the Palestinians don’t need to do anything additional to embarrass them. This is one of those times. While Palestinians have tirelessly put their best efforts forth to prove to the world that Israel promotes racist ideals and forcefully puts them into practice, the Israeli cabinet recently passed an amendment to their citizenship act that leaves no doubt of this truth. The bill demands all non-Jews seeking Israeli citizenship to declare loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state.”

There is no need to even read between the lines. The law is unabashedly clear and the target group is one sector: the Palestinians, in particular those who live beyond the Green Line in what is now Israel. That means Palestinians from the West Bank, Gaza or even east Jerusalem in addition to Arabs who want to marry an Israeli citizen must pledge their allegiance to a Jewish state even though they have no affiliation to Judaism whatsoever.

The racist nature of the law is nothing new for Israel. The only difference today is that they are blatantly clear about it, much to the thanks of Israel’s caricature-like foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, the man behind the initiative. Since Israel was established in 1948, Palestinians living on both sides of the Green Line have endured racist and discriminatory measures against them because of their ethnicity. Until today, Palestinians in Jerusalem must continually prove their center of life is in the city in order to maintain their residency status in the city.

Contrastingly, Jews anywhere on this earth can come to Israel and obtain citizenship automatically because of their religion. Israel, a country that was established on the ruins of another people’s homeland, was responsible for the dispossession of hundreds of thousands of the country’s indigenous population and continues to oppress those Palestinians who remained in their homes and land, is now forcing anyone (i.e. Palestinians) who wants to make their home in what was once Palestine, show loyalty to this so-called Jewish state.

Perhaps this decision, along with others, will finally serve as an eye-opener for those who still think Israel is the democratic peacemaker in the region. If democracy is truly the philosophy Israel embraces, wouldn’t that mean it would not impinge on other people’s ideologies, or force allegiance to the religious orientation of a state? No other democracy makes such demands. But like with everything else, Israel’s decision is political and it is about excluding the Palestinians and denying their national identity.

There is an even more recent example of how Israel is unwilling to accept the Palestinians, even at a more intellectual level. Apparently, just yesterday, the Palestinian Ministry of Education approved the use of a textbook – the brainchild of a joint Swedish, Israeli and Palestinian endeavor – entitled, “Learning the Historical Narrative of the Other”. The textbook, which is highly controversial for Palestinians because it offers the Zionist perspective alongside the Palestinian narrative of historical events, was rejected by the Israeli education ministry. Not only was it rejected, but banned from use in Israeli schools. According to a Haaretz article, a high school teacher in an Israeli school is to be summoned to the ministry for

“clarification” about allowing the book as a reference in one of his classes.

For Palestinians, the use of a book that offers the Zionist narrative is highly charged and chances are there will be considerable resistance to it. However, the fact remains that the Palestinians were the ones who took that “extra step” while the Israelis made no attempt at hiding their refusal to accept even a suggestion of the Palestinian narrative.

This speaks volumes about how Israel is wired. Israel’s government does not accept Palestinians as a national group. Imposing Kafkaesque requirements for residency rights and citizenship that are only applied to non-Jews is the first indicator. Demanding that non-Jews pledge allegiance to a Jewish state is just one more way of excluding Palestinians and denying them their national identity. As for the so-called peace efforts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is making, well the fact that he backed the bill at the last minute shows how sincere he is about that. Additionally, it follows that if the idea of coexistence is one of the major pillars of any peace process then the adoption of a textbook that tells both sides of the story seems to be the logical move.

But that’s the thing. Israel has no interest in listening much less teaching its children the Palestinian narrative. If those gates are opened to mainstream Israelis – namely schoolchildren – Israel would have to confront some mighty evil truths. Most Israelis have never heard of the massacre of Deir Yassin or Kufr Qassem or of the squalid conditions of refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria; of how Jewish and then Israeli troops plundered and ransacked whole villages and either killed or drove out its people. Most Israeli schoolchildren do not know that their airport, which is so proudly named after Israel’s founder David Ben Gurion, is partially built on the ruins of Beit Nabala, a village in which real people lived, tilled their land and raised their children before being kicked out and never allowed to return.

No, Israel cannot afford that. If it has to answer these questions, the myth behind its own existence would have to be deconstructed. It is easier to reject the proposal altogether, to force the idea of a Jewish state down everyone’s throat and continue to espouse the fallacy that Israel wants peace. As long as it succeeds in promoting a falsified history, it can buy more time – time to delay the inevitable creation of a Palestinian state and time to further cement the idea that Israel is a land for the Jews.

My hope beyond hope is that this scheme will finally be exposed and for once, the onus will fall on Israel to take responsibility for its actions. Its behavior these days should make this easy.

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

Sunday, October 10, 2010

PALESTINE: As Jericho marks 10,000 years, visitors get rare glimpse of one of largest Mideast mosaics

Visitors look at part of a mosaic, measuring around 9,700 square feet (900 square meters), in ruins of an 8th-century Islamic palace outside the West bank town of Jericho, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010. Visitors to ancient Jericho are getting a rare glimpse at what archaeologists say is the largest carpet mosaic in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

An unidentified man examines part of a mosaic, measureing around 9,700 square feet (900 square meters), in ruins of an 8th-century Islamic palace outside the West bank town of Jericho, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010. Visitors to ancient Jericho are getting a rare glimpse at what archaeologists say is the largest carpet mosaic in the Middle East (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

As Jericho marks 10,000 years, visitors get rare glimpse of one of largest Mideast mosaics,0,5863144.story?track=rss

JERICHO, West Bank (AP) — Visitors to ancient Jericho got a rare glimpse Sunday of a massive 1,200-year-old carpet mosaic measuring nearly 900 square meters (9,700 square feet), making it one of the largest in the Middle East.

The small red, blue and ochre square stones laid out in sweeping geometric and floral patterns cover the floor of the main bath house of an Islamic palace that was destroyed by an earthquake in the eighth century. Since being excavated in the 1930s and 1940s, the mosaic has largely remained hidden under layers of canvas and soil to protect it against sun and rain.

Starting Sunday, a small section will be laid bare for a week, as part of Jericho's 10,000th birthday celebrations. The mosaic then will be covered up again until the money is found to build a roof that would serve as a permanent weather shield, said Palestinian archaeologist Hamdan Taha.

Biblical Jericho attracts a steady flow of pilgrims, but the small Jordan Valley oasis is making a major push these days to become a magnet for tourists, presenting itself as the oldest city on earth. Marking the 10,000th birthday Sunday is entirely random, though, with archaeologists saying they could be off by hundreds of years in dating the first human settlement in the area.

However, throwing a birthday party is a way of spotlighting Jericho's attractions, including Hisham's Palace, a winter retreat built in the eighth century during the Umayyad empire. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad held his weekly Cabinet meeting in Jericho on Sunday to mark the town's birthday, and was to tour the palace later in the day.

With the large mosaic mostly covered up, a smaller one in the audience room next to the bath house has been getting all the attention. It shows two gazelles nibbling at the leaves of an apple tree, while nearby a lion attacks another gazelle from behind. A small house was built over the tree mosaic to protect it.

Now archaeologists are trying to find a way to keep the large mosaic permanently on display as well, scrambling to raise at least $2 million to build a roof above it. One proposed solution — a shield that looks like a large upended wooden crate — was contributed by award-winning Swiss architect Peter Zumthor. A model of his design is on display at the site....READ MORE

Jericho Gazelle- detail of the Tree of Life Mosaic

Fatah: Loyalty oath attempt at ethnic cleansing

Fatah: Loyalty oath attempt at ethnic cleansing

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- The Israeli government's approval of a bill requiring non-Jews seeking citizenship to swear loyalty to a 'Jewish state' clearly indicates a policy of ethnic cleansing, a Fatah spokesman said Sunday.

Usama Al-Qauasmi said the amendment to the citizenship law targeted Palestinians, and undermined Israel's claim to democracy.

At the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared his support for the bill, and said "No one
"No one can preach democracy or enlightenment to us," adding that "There is no other democracy in the Middle East."

Al-Qauasmi said the decision clearly showed Israel was "the most racist and dictatorial state in the whole world."

The bill showed the Israeli government was adopting the right-wing extremism of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the Fatah official said. The amendment was one of a series of 'loyalty laws' proposed by Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party.

Lieberman recently told world leaders at UN General Assembly of his proposal to move Israeli borders "to better reflect demographic realities." Under his plan, residents of Arab towns would have their Israeli citizenship revoked.

Al-Qauasmi said the addition to the citizenship law was an attempt to side-step international law and UN resolutions which protect the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

President Mahmoud Abbas has refused requests by Netanyahu to recognize Israel as a Jewish state on the grounds that it would forfeit the right of Palestinian refugees to return, as well as delegitimizing the civil rights of Palestinians inside Israel.

My 10-10-10 letter to al Jazeera regarding "Israel approves loyalty oath "

Palestinian Refugees denied return 1948

RE: Israel approves loyalty oath, Cabinet adopts bill that requires non-Jewish immigrants to swear loyalty to the "Jewish, democratic state".

Dear Editor,

" "The new citizenship law will make it impossible for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to return to their homeland," Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera's senior political analyst, said. "

From what I can see the new law does not "make it impossible for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to return to their homeland". The law applies to new immigrants- refugees returning are indigenous, not new immigrants... and you should take care not to endorse the mistaken idea that returning refugees can or should be forced to take this oath.

Anne Selden Annab

Settlements, the key barrier to Mideast peace

Settlements, the key barrier to Mideast peace

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Oct. 3 news story "Palestinians: Peace talks hinge on Israeli settlement construction" reported that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, making the case for not renewing the temporary moratorium on settlement construction, "has argued that . . . halting settlement construction was never a precondition for previous Israeli-Palestinian negotiations." He stated, "For 17 years the Palestinians conducted direct talks with Israeli governments while building went on."

But this is precisely the issue: The building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank has continued unabated since the Oslo peace process began in 1993, when there were 264,400 settlers in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. By 2008 the number was at 488,471, up 85 percent.

Experts estimate the current number at about 500,000 and growing. The expanding settlements carve up the West Bank, leaving shrinking enclaves of land for a Palestinian state. This is why the Palestinians insist on a settlement freeze as they go into negotiations.

Susan P. Wilder, Washington

The writer is representative for Middle East policy for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.