Friday, December 3, 2010

My letter to the IHT RE Global Agenda 2011 Two States of Being By SERGE SCHMEMANN, SARI NUSSEIBEH and AMOS OZ

RE: I.H.T. Global Agenda 2011 Two States of Being By SERGE SCHMEMANN, SARI NUSSEIBEH and AMOS OZ Published: December 2, 2010

Dear Sir,

Zionist novelists, ideologues and rabbis are totally wrong in refusing to respect the Palestinian refugees natural, legal and sacred right to return to their original homes and lands.

The right to return is a universal basic human right firmly enshrined by international law since Israel came into being. Palestinians need real freedom and real choices- including a viable and fully sovereign independent Palestinian state where they can resettle if they want to, for no Palestinian should be forced to go back to live in what is now Israel. A side by side secular two state solution to once and for all end the cruel Israel/Palestine conflict is the best way forward for everyone's sake. Clear borders and an end to Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian territory is the only way to stop Israeli settlers from usurping even more Palestinian land and resources.

Anne Selden Annab

NOTES: Building Palestine, the Indispensable State for Peace

Refugees, Borders & Jerusalem...

additional notes

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mahmoud Darwish: Journal of an Ordinary Grief

Journal of an Ordinary Grief By Mahmoud Darwish Translated from the Arabic by Ibrahim Muhawi Archipelago 177 pp., $16

Journal of an Ordinary Grief

His troubled connection to his homeland is a key theme in this uneven but thoughtful collection of the writings of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.

By Rayyan Al-Shawaf / December 2, 2010

“What is homeland?” asks famed Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish in his Journal of an Ordinary Grief, an intriguing but uneven collection of ruminations and autobiographical fragments that first appeared in Arabic in 1973 and is now being published posthumously in English. He has several answers. The most powerful? “To hold on to your memory – that is homeland.”

Memory is a central theme of this book, which has been capably translated and helpfully annotated by Ibrahim Muhawi. Lamenting the plight of Palestinian refugees some two decades after Israel’s founding in 1948, Darwish indignantly addresses the double standard many Israelis apply to the Jewish and Palestinian affinity for the holy land: “He who allows himself a flood of tears for two thousand years cannot blame the one who has been crying for twenty years of having merely fallen prey to delusion.”

Darwish, who died in 2008 at age 67, was one of the Arab world’s most renowned poets. His poems were often about Palestine, and many were set to songs by famous Arab singers. Darwish’s story begins in the middle of the 20th century. In the war over Israel’s creation in 1948, 700,000 to 800,000 Palestinians were expelled from or fled their homeland. Darwish’s family, with the young Mahmoud in tow, chose to wait out the war in Lebanon. Prevented from returning to what became Israel, they sneaked back in. But that hardly ended their woes. “They called us ‘present-absentees’ so we would have no legal right to anything,” complains Darwish of the Israeli authorities. He left Israel in 1970 and later joined the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which prompted Israel to bar him from returning for decades.

There is much rage in this book. Darwish condemns Nazism as inexcusable, but proceeds to compare Israeli actions to those of Nazis. However, there are reasons for his fury. One particularly horrific incident that understandably raises his ire is the Kufr Qasem massacre of 1956, when 49 unarmed Israeli Arab civilians – including women and children – were murdered by Israeli border police for having violated a recently imposed curfew of which they were unaware.

The perpetrators were tried and convicted but pardoned shortly thereafter...READ MORE

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Defence for Children International: Silwan, East Jerusalem - 60 Israeli professionals speak out at [Israeli] violence against [Palestinian] children

Defence for Children International - Palestine Section

Silwan, East Jerusalem - 60 Israeli professionals speak out at violence against children

1 December 2010] – On 24 November 2010, 60 prominent Israeli professionals sent a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu and other senior officials raising their concerns about the violent treatment of Palestinian children at the hands of the authorities in occupied East Jerusalem.

According to Israeli Police, in 2010 more than 1,200 criminal cases have been opened against children from occupied East Jerusalem alleging involvement in stone-throwing incidents. The letter states that ‘children and teenagers related that they had been dragged out of their beds in the middle of the night or arrested in their neighbourhoods by undercover detectives and special security forces; taken in for questioning while handcuffed and unescorted by their parents; in certain cases, the families were not notified of the arrest in real time; minors were asked to give names and incriminate friends and relatives as a condition of their release; were threatened and humiliated by their interrogators; and some of them were even subject to physical violence while taken in for questioning and under interrogation.’ The authors of the letter urge the Prime Minister to ‘immediately take the necessary steps to ensure that all arrest, detention, and interrogation procedures employed against minors suspect of throwing stones in East Jerusalem … adhere to the letter and spirit of the law.’

The issues raised in the letter reflect concerns held by DCI-Palestine, which has documented 22 cases of children who report being mistreated by the arresting authorities since 8 October 2010. The age of the youngest child reporting mistreatment is seven years.

• Ten-year-old boy grabbed by three men in civilian clothes - Voices
• Twelve-year-old boy arrested on his way to school - Voices

These arrests are occurring against a backdrop of heightened tensions in occupied East Jerusalem due to the Municipality’s plans to demolish houses in Silwan, and the presence of around 380 settlers in the area. Under international law, East Jerusalem forms part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and ‘all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status … have no legal validity.’ (UN Security Council Resolution 465 of 1980)

Copyright © 2010 DCI/PS. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Palestinian territories: "Prolonged occupation, a new type of crime against humanity" – UN human rights expert

A/RES/194 (III)Palestine question - UN Mediator report, Conciliation Commission (UNCCP), Jerusalem status, return of refugees - GA resolution

11. Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible...

A/RES/181(II)Palestine question/Future government/Partition plan - GA resolutions
Chapter 2

Religious and Minority Rights
2. No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants on the ground of race, religion, language or sex.

Palestinian territories: "Prolonged occupation, a new type of crime against humanity" – UN human rights expert

GENEVA (29 November 2010)– The Special Rapporteur Richard Falk urged the United Nations and the international community to draft a new protocol of international humanitarian law to address the situation of prolonged occupation and refugee status imposed upon the Palestinian people for over 43 years of Israeli occupation.

"The Palestinian experience suggests the need for a new protocol of international humanitarian law," he said in a statement issued Monday to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Mr. Falk stressed the need to impose "some outer time limit after which further occupation becomes a distinct violation of international law, and if not promptly corrected, constitutes a new type of crime against humanity."

For the independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, "the UN and the international community as a whole will be judged in the future by whether effective action is now taken to end the humanitarian catastrophe that has befallen the Palestinian people."

"In this respect," Mr. Falk warned, "the UN, the governments and the peoples of the world will be all be judged complicit to the extent that this persistent violation of fundamental human rights is endured without taking the necessary steps in a spirit of urgency and commitment to bring this abusive occupation to an end and achieve Palestinian self-determination in accordance with international law and the dictates of global justice."

Regarding current efforts to reactivate a peace process between Israel and the Palestinian authorities, the UN Special Rapporteur reminded that "negotiation between the parties to the conflict needs to be guided by the implementation of several principles of international law if a settlement of the conflict is to achieve Palestinian self-determination."

These principles, as set forth in General Assembly Resolution 48/158, 20 December 1993, include the following:

- withdrawal from Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem;

- resolving the Palestinian refugee problem in accordance with General Assembly Resolution 181 and subsequent resolutions;

- dismantling settlements established during the occupation;

- fixing of secure and internationally recognized borders;

- guaranteeing free access to sacred sites and religious buildings throughout historic Palestine.

"A peace process that does not heed these guidelines, with appropriate degrees of flexible implementation," Mr. Falk warned, "cannot realize either self-determination for the Palestinian people or peace with security and justice for both Palestinians and Israelis."

In 2008, the UN Human Rights Council designated Richard Falk (United States of America) as the fifth Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the UN Commission on Human Rights.

(*): Check the Special Rapporteur's Statement on International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People:

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur:

OHCHR Country Page – Occupied Palestinian Territories:

OHCHR Country Page – Israel:

For more information and media requests, please contact Nikki Siahpoush (Tel.: + 41 22 928 9430 / email: or write to


A/RES/48/158 (A-D)
20 December 1993

48/158. Question of Palestine

Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights
of the Palestinian People

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolutions 181 (II) of 29 November 1947, 194 (III) of 11 December 1948, 3236 (XXIX) of 22 November 1974, 3375 (XXX) and 3376 (XXX) of 10 November 1975, 31/20 of 24 November 1976, 32/40 A of 2 December 1977, 33/28 A and B of 7 December 1978, 34/65 A of 29 November 1979 and 34/65 C of 12 December 1979, ES-7/2 of 29 July 1980, 35/169 A and C of 15 December 1980, 36/120 A and C of 10 December 1981, ES-7/4 of 28 April 1982, 37/86 A of 10 December 1982, 38/58 A of 13 December 1983, 39/49 A of 11 December 1984, 40/96 A of 12 December 1985, 41/43 A of 2 December 1986, 42/66 A of 2 December 1987, 43/175 A of 15 December 1988, 44/41 A of 6 December 1989, 45/67 A of 6 December 1990, 46/74 A of 11 December 1991 and 47/64 A of 11 December 1992,

West Bank blog: Scarce water is such a precious commodity

West Bank blog: Scarce water is such a precious commodity

16 Nov 2010

Source: member // Oxfam

Fatima in the West Bank Fatima in the West Bank

By Jenny MartinYouth and Schools Campaigner, Oxfam South West

I am currently undertaking a two-month secondment in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories working with the Emergency Water Sanitation and Hygiene Advocacy Task Force to develop a global campaign on the right to water for Palestinians.

As part of my introduction to the impacts of the occupation in the West Bank I was taken to the South Hebron Hills, an area under complete Israeli control. Heading south in the West Bank the landscape became increasingly arid; beautiful, if desolate. To reach our destination we had to head off the tarmac road and drive on what was little more than a dirt track through the extremely bumpy hills.

After what felt like hours of off-roading passing a few isolated communities, we came upon a small group of tents which formed the local school in Khirbet al Fakheit. The school had only recently been established in the area and previously children had to leave their families and stay with relatives in the nearest town.

Access to essential services and facilities is still a major challenge in this area. There is no piped water at the school, and although they have had latrines installed there is not sufficient water to keep them clean. Water is provided in tankers driven many kilometres off-road from the nearest filling point and paid for by the local community. Tanking water is incredibly expensive and in some parts of the West Bank families spend as much as 40% of their income on water.

I met with some of the children, including Fatima who explained how her family often only had access to water for a few hours every four days.

More sustainable solutions including developing cisterns for collecting rainfall during the winter and providing more local filling points connected to the water network are extremely difficult to implement in this area as any work requires the permission of the Israeli military. Permission is rarely granted and any building without it, including rain-water harvesting cisterns, latrines or tents used as classrooms, is at risk of demolition.

The teachers at the school raised concerns that this year the dry season was lasting longer than normal and they would have expected some rains by now. Having campaigned on climate change in the South West it really brought home to me that this is a real threat to communities here. Without Israeli authorities granting Palestinians permission to develop their access to water and sanitation, the local communities have little capacity to reduce their vulnerability.

On our way back to the main road, only a few miles from the school, we passed an Israeli settlement (illegal under international law) with enough water to feed the luscious plants that surrounded it and a large industrial farming infrastructure. On average Israelis consume four times as much water as Palestinians. The contrast between the standard of living in the settlements and that of the children in the school I had just visited was stark.

Keep reading this blog as I will be writing more about life in the occupied Palestinian territories, including meeting with a family in Gaza.



Full_Report (pdf* format - 193.5 Kbytes)


Sixty-fifth General Assembly


53rd Meeting (PM)

'Peace is Two-Way Street' Israel's Delegate Says, Urging Compromise, Direct Talks; Assembly's 'Destructive Rhetoric' Does Little to Bring Parties Together

Sixty-three years after the General Assembly's historic adoption in 1947 of resolution 181 (II), partitioning Palestine into two States – one Arab and one Jewish - the independence of the Palestinian Arab State continued to be unjustly obstructed and the rights of Palestinians "flagrantly denied", the Permanent Observer of Palestine told the world body, as it considered that "painful and persistent" issue in the broader context of Middle East peace.

Indeed, Israel had proven it was "unable and unwilling to shake the mentality and behaviour of occupier and aggressor", he said, and commit to international consensus on the two-State solution. Israel continued to use "arbitrary, irrational, fictitious and even racist pretexts to absolve itself of its legal responsibilities", thereby exacerbating the situation on the ground.

For its part, the Palestinian leadership had repeatedly reaffirmed its readiness to resume negotiations in an environment that was actually conducive for achieving peace, he said, one in which actions contrary to peace were halted, including settlement activities. " Israel must be compelled to either choose the path of peace or to bear the responsibility for its obstruction," he declared.

" Israel cannot reach this peace on its own," said Israel's delegate later in the debate, stressing that his Government had long made clear it was necessary and possible to live in peace with its neighbours – and had proven that in peace respective treaties reached with Egypt and Jordan. Peace with the Palestinians could only be found through direct, bilateral negotiations that addressed the concerns of both sides. Any agreement must be based on principles of mutual recognition and security, with Palestinians abandoning their quest to "make this land theirs alone – both now and in the future".

The international community must confront States that provided extensive support to terrorists in Gaza, he said, notably Iran, which continued to export violence and instability in the Middle East. He urged the Palestinian Authority to join Israel without preconditions in direct talks broken off two months ago. The Assembly had a choice: it could continue to adopt the same distorted narrative of Israel pursuing a political agenda, or it could take a more constructive approach, working to bring parties together to pursue peace, and recognizing that as the only way to truly support the fundamental rights of Palestinians.

On that point, Assembly President Joseph Deiss, said in opening remarks that the 192-member body had repeatedly stated that a solution in accordance with resolution 181 would be the most viable; one where Israelis and Palestinians lived alongside each other in peace and security within recognized borders. He reminded delegations that while they were addressing the "painful and persistent" question of Palestine, today was also the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. (Please See press release GA/PAL/1178).

Honest and fair negotiations to resolve that question must be conducted, he said. At the same time, violent terrorist acts must cease; international law and United Nations resolutions must be observed; and all actions that could fuel a climate of suspicion must stop. "Without swift progress, the humanitarian, economic and security situation of the Palestinian people will continue to deteriorate," he said. "The stakes are high, but there is no alternative to a peaceful solution to the situation. Our debate today must affirm our determination."

Egypt's delegate, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, condemned Israel's persistent construction and expansion process in many settlements in the West Bank. He also noted alarm at persistent attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians, Islamic and Christian holy sites and worship places, as well as at Israel's violation of international law through labelling products from Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as "Made in Israel". He called for a halt to "this illegal colonization enterprise".

Throughout the half-day meeting, delegates pressed Israel and the Palestinians to persist in efforts to restore peace talks launched in September and currently stalled over the expiration of a moratorium on Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank. Some also urged those negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two States and stressed the crucial importance of the continuation of the Palestinian State-building process.

In other business, the Assembly President informed delegates that consideration of agenda item 32, on the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict, scheduled for Thursday, 2 December, had been postponed.

Senegal's representative, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, introduced four draft resolutions related to the question of Palestine: "Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People" (document A/65/L.14); "the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat" (document A/65/L.15); "the Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the United Nations Department of Public Information" (document A/65/L.16); and "Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine" (document A/65/L.17).

Also speaking today was the representative of Malta, as Rapporteur of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, who introduced the report on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (A/65/35).

Libya's representative introduced a draft resolution entitled "the one State solution" (document A/65/L.24).

Also speaking today were the representatives of Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), United Arab Emirates, Syria, Indonesia, Yemen, Lebanon and Cuba.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 30 November, to continue its consideration of the question of Palestine and situation in the Middle East.

Ban urges Israelis, Palestinians to show courage needed to make peace

"The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, urged the UN and the international community to draft a new protocol declaring the prolonged occupation and refugee status imposed on the Palestinians over the past 43 years a crime against humanity. "

Ban urges Israelis, Palestinians to show courage needed to make peace

29 November 2010 – The United Nations today marked the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People with a challenge from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to both Israelis and Palestinians to show the statesmanship and political courage needed to reach peace.

He noted that there was little optimism on either side that peace could be achieved soon, let alone within the one year target date set by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when they resumed direct talks in September, and he reiterated his calls to Israel to freeze settlement activity and to the Palestinians to fight terrorism and curb incitement.

“Soon after direct talks on final status began in September, they were undermined by the expiry of Israel’s commendable settlement moratorium,” Mr. Ban said in a message marking the Day. “Construction of hundreds of new units throughout the West Bank commenced, and new approvals for settlements in East Jerusalem were given.

“This development is a serious blow to the credibility of the political process. The obligation remains on Israel to meet its responsibilities under international law and the Road Map to freeze settlement activity,” he added, referring to the internationally-endorsed peace plan that foresees two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

Noting the lack of optimism in Israel, he called on all Israelis to “look with fresh eyes at the indisputable emergence of a reliable security partner on the ground, and the continued commitment of President Abbas to Israel’s right to live in peace and security, and to his rejection of violence and terrorism.”

He commended steps taken during the past year to improve conditions on the ground but said much more is needed. “The Palestinian Authority must continue to roll out the institutions of statehood, combat terrorist attacks and curb incitement,” he urged. “Meanwhile, it is both Israel’s interest and its duty to begin rolling back the measures of occupation, particularly with respect to movement, access and security actions.”

Mr. Ban noted that an overwhelming international consensus exists on the need to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory that began with the 1967 war, address the major security concerns of both parties, find a solution to the refugee issue and see Jerusalem emerge from negotiation as the capital of two States.

“I challenge the two leaders to show statesmanship and political courage in reaching a historic peace,” he said. “The international community, for its part, must be ready to assume its own responsibilities for peace.”

Addressing an observance at UN Headquarters to mark the Day, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro reiterated Mr. Ban’s message, adding: “Let the year ahead be the one in which we realize, finally, a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

General Assembly President Joseph Deiss also called on the parties to step up their efforts to engage each other in honest negotiations and overcome deadlocks.

“Violence and acts of terror must cease,” he said in his message. “International law and UN resolutions must be respected and actions which could aggravate the situation and increase suspicion and mistrust must be stopped.”

He noted that the Day marked the date in 1947 when the General Assembly adopted the resolution partitioning then-mandated Palestine into two States, one Jewish and one Arab, which has not happened. He urged that everything be done to alleviate the daily suffering of the Palestinian people.

The Chairman of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Abdou Salam Diallo, highlighted the human tragedy of the Palestinians and stressed that Israel must be “called upon to adhere strictly to international humanitarian law,” particularly on the issue of settlements.

The Committee has repeatedly urged the parties to refrain from unilateral acts, including building new settlements or expanding existing ones, but “unfortunately, it appears that Israel found itself unable to assume this undertaking, recognized by the entire international community as a minimum confidence-building measure,” he said.

“Member States, individually and collectively, must demonstrate their active solidarity and take immediate action to improve the lives of the Palestinian people,” he added, calling for the lifting of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, and for all the appropriate international bodies to prevent impunity, “particularly during military operations in the territories, and to ensure that the status of East Jerusalem and the holy sites is respected.”

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, urged the UN and the international community to draft a new protocol declaring the prolonged occupation and refugee status imposed on the Palestinians over the past 43 years a crime against humanity.

Mr. Falk, who serves in an independent capacity and reports to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, stressed in a news release the need to impose “some outer time limit after which further occupation becomes a distinct violation of international law, and if not promptly corrected, constitutes a new type of crime against humanity.”

In a cultural performance entitled “The Gaza Monologues” by the Ramallah-based Ashtar Theatre, 25 young people narrated personal statements written by children in Gaza in the wake of the 2008-2009 Israeli offensive. In addition, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is presenting a photo exhibit entitled “Summer Games in Gaza” at UN Headquarters in conjunction with the Day.

Development and Peace marks International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

Development and Peace is the official international development organization
of the Catholic Church in Canada and the Canadian member of Caritas Internationalis.

Development and Peace marks International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
November 29, 2010

November 29th is the UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People and DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE is marking the day by sharing the message of hope and solidarity of its Caritas partners.

Claudette Habesch, Secretary General of Caritas Jerusalem emphasizes the need for a unified international voice to ensure a better future for the next generation of Palestinians, while Joseph Donnelly, Caritas Internationalis’ delegate at the UN, calls for urgent action by the international community for an inclusive peace process. You can read their statements below.

Development and Peace collaborates with Caritas Jerusalem and other partners in the Palestinian Territories and Israel on activities that promote peace, dialogue and tolerance between various groups and respect for human rights in the region.

"In his personal statement for one of the universities, my 17 year old grandson wrote, ‘A Palestinian Christian from Jerusalem, I was born close to the birth of the Oslo Peace Accord, and grew up with the hope of a just solution and prosperity. I witnessed the disappointing collapse of the peace talks, and now, I will graduate from high school under the cloud of a political stalemate and internal Palestinian strife.’

To read a statement of a young man with his future ahead of him, commencing with hope and ending with uncertainty, a sentiment shared by all Palestinians, made me realize the immense need of solidarity with the Palestinian people. And where else to look other than towards the United Nations, a bastion of justice and a refuge of those with just causes.
November 29th is a day where every Palestinian needs to feel their story is being told and retold again. It is a day to tell people of conscious that solidarity goes beyond words. Solidarity is action to guarantee Palestinian rights on their land. Solidarity means ultimately achieving peace based on justice and restoring hope for a better future.

The Israeli occupation and its trail of human rights abuse and economic hardship is denying the young generation a future. The illegal settlements and the ‘Separation Wall’ are growing, eating up everyday our future state. Movement of people and goods is curtailed, and access is often denied. But even in these difficult situations and challenging times, something has never failed us. It is the Solidarity that you, our friends, are giving us every day.
Your support and your prayers help us to continue our mission and encourage us to reach out. We persist, through every action we take and every person we reach, to advocate for peace. With every project we implement we carry the message of love and hope.

We beseech the international community to raise their voices on this day of solidarity with the Palestinian people. The conflict must come to an end. You remain a beacon of hope."

Claudette Habesch, Secretary General, Caritas Jerusalem

"For the 33rd year since 1977, the international community summons world attention to the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people on 29 November. The United Nations General Assembly Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People is mandated to acknowledge the need for and engage critical opportunities for solidarity and recognition.

Palestinians in the Middle East continue to struggle for local and global recognition of their basic human rights. These include their personal, political, social, economic and religious rights. This day of solidarity remains again this year an urgent call for concrete action and legislation to comprehensively liberate Palestinian communities from that which unjustly limits life, opportunity and natural developments toward normal existence.

Beyond long years of rhetoric caught within highly politicized circumstances, the lack of determined transparent political will on all sides has stolen life from innocent ordinary Palestinian people. Solidarity in slogans and diplomatic speeches is only significant when it is absolutely matched by actions which promote human rights, provide protection of civilians, assure justice in daily lived realities and facilitate mutually accountable mechanisms to benefit people.

Everywhere that there are Palestinians, we must see them, hear them, recognize them. At the same time we must also recognize their neighbours. In close partnership with Caritas Jerusalem, Caritas Jordan, Caritas Iraq, Caritas Lebanon, Caritas Syria – and our Caritas Middle East Region, we continue to promote and share an authentic vision that peace is possible. We have never abandoned this sustained hope and prayer. We never will.

The solidarity must be objective, humane and responsible. It must carefully encourage and dutifully facilitate real change. Transforming unjust conditions rooted in dysfunctional relationships with persons and civil authorities, lands and resources is what is necessary. Current situation must not remain status quo.

None must not be excluded from dialogue or negotiations at any level. They must be welcome at every table with Israelis as well as other Arab citizens and international stakeholders.

We continue to work for and to support every genuine initiative to tear down walls of separation. However, we know well this can only be achieved through the fullest participation of all stakeholders.

To this end, we ourselves must continue to work to bring people together, to discover anew engaging forms of solidarity which stretch all parties to see all humanity more clearly, and to exercise justice for all with willful compassion as advised in the three Abrahamic faith communities.

As in other places caught in crisis, Caritas cannot tolerate that Palestinian families remain refugees, displaced in their own homeland. We cannot accept that UN agencies established with temporary transitional mandates now reluctantly commemorate 60 years of myriad humanitarian services for countless communities all over the region. Our solidarity for these people is determined to continue.

We will never walk away. Our accompaniment means we walk with these sisters and brothers. While we provide every form of material assistance, emergency relief so often still needed, and development supports – this will never be sufficient.

Without sustained advocacy and profound peacebuilding work – human rights, daily life and future hopes will never be restored. The Palestinian people require dignity with equal justice now, today not tomorrow – this year not next year."

Joseph Cornelius Donnelly, Caritas Delegate at the UN

Prayer for Palestinian solidarity

Lord God of All,
we come to you as Caritas sisters and brothers from the four corners of the world, refugees and relatives.

We come as people who know suffering and struggle, as families and communities with hope.

We come with respect, compassion and informed solidarity with our Palestinian sisters and brothers.

We ask you hear our prayer.

We ask you hear their prayer for peace, justice, equal rights and human dignity.

Turn their brokenness into renewing wholeness and courage.

Turn their displacement into safe secure sheltering homes.

Turn their long hungers into nurturing fields, foods for life so families can flourish.

May stinging betrayals of unjust law and disorder finally end so healing, forgiveness and reconciliation can begin for all peoples in the Holy Land, in this ancient/modern region.

May rhetoric and history stop repeating itself as if our Palestinian friends were not real.

May all "stakeholders" see these very human beings, flesh and precious blood alive.

May their children today never relinquish their steadfast enduring belief for a better tomorrow.

Lord, God of All,
heal all who journey through desert and darkness – heal us too that we may be peacemakers.

May our simplest honest prayers unite, uplift, strengthen, respect and build up our solidarity.

May no day pass without a faithful pause which gathers us in as one human family.

One people of God from Palestine through the region and everywhere beyond every border.

Together may we be a certain path to peace that is possible, that is all we need today.


For more information or to request an interview, please contact:
Kelly Di Domenico, Communications Officer
514 257-8711 ext. 365

Monday, November 29, 2010

'Time to end Palestinians’ suffering'

'Time to end Palestinians’ suffering'
AMMAN (JT) - His Majesty King Abdullah on Monday said it is time to bring to an end the injustice and violations the Palestinian people have been suffering and guarantee their right to self-determination and independence on their national soil.

In a letter to Paul Badji, chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the King stressed Jordan’s commitment to providing all forms of support to the Palestinians and highlighting their suffering in the international arena.

The King said the two-state solution, which ensures the establishment of an independent Palestinian state that lives side-by-side with Israel is the sole means to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and bring about comprehensive regional peace.

His Majesty stressed the importance of intensifying efforts to overcome obstacles to the resumption of direct talks between the Palestinians and Israelis, which requires Israel to halt its unilateral measures, particularly settlement construction.

King Abdullah commended the continued and “strenuous” efforts exerted by the committee in defending the rights of Palestinians, which had a “deep” impact in mobilising international efforts in support of the Palestinian cause.

In the letter, His Majesty said the increasing poverty, hunger, frustration and despair of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip necessitate immediate and serious international action to end the siege on Gaza and the humanitarian crisis in the coastal enclave.

He underlined that failure to reach a just and a comprehensive peace will threaten international security and stability and lead the region into an abyss unless the international community makes a concerted effort to create the appropriate atmosphere for the resumption of the negotiations, which should address all the final status issues, especially the issues of borders and refugees, in accordance with international resolutions.

The Monarch reiterated his call for ending the conflict and enabling the Palestinian people to establish their independent state on the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital.

30 November 2010

Solidarity with the Palestinian people - Christopher Hazou
Solidarity with the Palestinian people - Christopher Hazou

On this day in 1947 the UN General Assembly adopted a motion calling for the partition of Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish states.

UN Resolution 181 allocated 55 percent of the land to the future Jewish state, although Jews comprised only a third of the population and owned less than 7 percent of the land, and the remaining 45 percent to the Palestinian Arab state. Jerusalem was to be an open city under international supervision.

The partition plan paved the way for the expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their homes and land. When the dust settled six months later, the newly created state of Israel controlled 78 percent of historic Palestine.

In 1977 the UN began commemorating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, timed to coincide with the anniversary of Resolution 181. Events will be held today by governments and NGOs around the world to highlight the ongoing Palestinian struggle for freedom and self-determination.

Sixty-three years after the passing of the partition plan, the question of Palestine remains unresolved. Despite the historic compromise agreed to by Palestinians in 1988 accepting the creation of an independent Palestinian state on just 22 percent of historic Palestine, Israel continues to relentlessly colonize our land and violate the most basic of our human rights on a daily basis.

On this historically significant date, the General Delegation of the PLO calls on the government of the United States and the international community to redouble their efforts to end Israel's occupation and colonization of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, and to bring justice and peace to the Palestinian people, who have suffered so much for so long.

Christopher Hazou is the spokesman for the General Delegation of the PLO to the US.

Why I'm Building Palestine - By Salam Fayyad | Foreign Policy

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem By Mike Odetalla

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem
By Mike Odetalla 12-2003

Christmas is fast approaching and with it the joyous celebration of the birth of Jesus (pbuh: peace be upon him) will be enjoyed as more than one billion Christians around the globe gather with family and friends in prayer, joy and reflection.

Children will be eagerly waiting for the morning of that blessed day with anticipation that only a child can enjoy. Christmas trees dressed, if you will, with decorations new and old, for that grand day. Festively wrapped gifts will tease children to guess their contents; children will not sleep much the night before - with all those gifts begging attention. The story of the birth of the baby Jesus (pbuh) will be told and retold thousands of times; scenes of the Nativity and symbols of the humble birth recreated in many forms on lawns, mantles, and endless displays. Christmas pageants and concerts will commemorate the blessed event in time-honored fashion around the world.

As a Muslim, I too participate in the beautiful festivals of Christmas. During elementary school in the United States, I sang carols with the school choir, performed in concerts and joined the annual visit to Dearborn’s historic Greenfield Village that depicts American life in centuries gone by and houses a museum, historical buildings and homes that once belonged to famous Americans. One of my favorite Carols, since that early childhood, has always been “Silent Night”, for it carries a pertinent message; one that sums up the atmosphere at time of Christ’s birth and reflects the true spirit of Christmas today.

While I happily participated in these activities, it always seemed that my teachers, and the world, did all they could to deny the Palestinian connection to this blessed holiday. I am Palestinian; I was born in Jerusalem, a few miles from Bethlehem, the Palestinian village of Jesus’ birth. Singing to people with no knowledge of Palestine, Palestinians, and our link to Bethlehem and to Jesus always seemed very strange; it still seems strange. For our audiences, it was always about Israel. Time and time again, I heard people say how nice it would be to visit the Israeli town of Bethlehem, ignoring the fact that Bethlehem is a Palestinian town and Palestinian Christians and Muslims live there under the brutal military occupation of Israel.

I realized that we were singing “O little Town of Bethlehem” to people who had absolutely no idea of what really was happening there. We were singing to people who were completely ignorant of the thousands of desperate refugees who live in Bethlehem’s refugee camps. To our audience, Bethlehem was am idyllic scene, the one often found on post cards, and Christmas greetings. I knew the brutal truth: that Bethlehem is home to some of the poorest people on earth. Palestinians whose home are the refugee camps of Bethlehem, live in abject poverty and misery, as they have done for generations after being expelled from their homes with the creation of the state of Israel in the ethnic cleansing that took place in 1948. How very fitting that Holy Mary, seeking refuge from the mighty Roman army, a safe place to give birth, came to this town.

Today, two thousand years later, Bethlehem like much of Palestine, continues to be home to thousands of refugees. Ringed by settlements for Jews only, walled off and separated, Bethlehem today is virtually cut off from the rest of Palestine: choked by the settlements that surround her. Its land, water and other resources expropriated by the Israelis in a relentless effort to make life ever more unbearable for the Palestinian natives and refugees who call the village home.

Today, we hear of pregnant Palestinian women who must endure the hell of the Israeli occupation, its inhumane and degrading checkpoints, in order to reach the safe haven of a hospital to give birth to their children. While the blessed Virgin found refuge in a humble stable, many of her contemporary young mothers to be, are forced to stand endless hours at checkpoints manned by Israel’s teenage soldiers who not only lack compassion, but simply could not care less about the plight of a woman in labor. Many women have given birth in taxis or in the streets that are choked with dust in summer and swimming with mud in winter as they wait at checkpoints for hours to receive permission from the young soldier who arbitrarily decides whether they ‘look pregnant or only fat’. . Too many children and mothers have died from lack of medical care and failure to be allowed to pass in a timely manner.

The always “thoughtful” and “humane” Israeli army, issues ‘birthing kits’ to the young soldiers that control the many checkpoints that choke the life of Palestine and its people. These “birthing kits” are to be used to help women who “choose” to give birth at these checkpoints: no woman would opt to give birth under such conditions. Still, an ever growing number of Palestinian infants carry the name “Hajez” (from the Arabic word for check point) as a bitter reminder of their birthplace.

I fail to grasp what benefit such inhumanity bestows upon the Jewish state: the bitter truth is that 2,000 years after Mary gave birth to Jesus under Roman occupation, Palestinian mothers in Bethlehem and elsewhere in occupied Palestine still seek safe refuge to deliver their infants. The birth of a human being is a momentous and joyous occasion for the parents; even for those who suffer the torturous nightmare, pain and anxiety of checkpoint deliveries; but the tragedy of seeing this would be joyous event end in the unbearable agony of the death of a new born or its mother is unconscionable.

So, as you hear “O little Town of Bethlehem” this Christmas season, please pause for a moment to remember those for whom this Palestinian town is home: this year, once again, there will be no Christmas festivities in Manger Square. The Christmas ‘carols’ will be a choir Israeli tanks and helicopters pierced with echoes from the shoot to kill curfews that will blanket the city, not in deep and dreamless sleep, but with fear and dread; the everlasting light that shines in her darkened streets - the endless search lights of military patrols.

The Christian children of Palestine, together with their Muslim brothers and sisters, will observe Christmas and remember its beautiful story this year, but they will have little to celebrate. Fear and hunger will keep them awake through the night, not the anticipation of gifts and feasts as in the Christmas of other lands. While the rest of the world celebrates this glorious holiday of birth and rebirth, Bethlehem’s children will pray for some brief respite from the fright of the killings, shootings, abuse, and destruction that is the reality of life in Palestine, while Gaza's children suffer the inhumane blockades that not only rob them of sustenance, but of the joy of being a child!

"Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by Yet in the dark streets shineth, the everlasting light The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love Oh morning stars together, proclaim the holy birth. And praises sing to God the king, and peace to men on earth.

How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin Where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.

Oh holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today We hear the Christmas angels, the great glad tidings tell O come to us, abide with us, our lord Emanuel."

Mike Odetalla 12-2003 All Rights Reserved


Refugees Picture Gallery
Al-Nakba,the catastrophe of the Palestinian people who were ethnically cleansed from their homes, lands, and villages by the Zionists before and after the creation of the State of Israel on May 15th 1948! More than 750,000 Palestinians were made homeless refugees, forced to live in inhumane conditions and squalid refugee camps that were set up by the UN. These refugee camps were only supposed to serve as a "temporary" solution until the refugees were permitted to go back home according to UN Resolution 194 (The Right of Return), The Geneva Conventions regarding refugees, and other Internationally Recognized Laws! Now after more than 57 years, the Refugees are still living in camps while Israel continues to ignore countless UN Resolutions. In fact, till this very day, Israel continues to create yet more homeless refugees in Palestine, some for the 3rd and 4th time in their lives!

Random Acts of Culture: Opera Company of Philadelphia "Hallelujah!"

With the Opera Company of Philadelphia Chorus as a core, over 600 singers from area choirs, accompanied by the famed Wanamaker Organ – the world’s largest pipe organ – surprised shoppers at the Center City Philadelphia Macy’s with a spontaneous rendition of the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah.

Picturesque Palestine... from This Week in Palestine

Picturesque Palestine
Chest Panel “kabeh” - circa 1860. Nijmeh Ghazawi (1839 - 1927). George Al Ama Collection.

My letter to the Phil Inq RE Trudy Rubin Worldview: Withering seeds of hope

RE: Trudy Rubin Worldview: Withering seeds of hope

Dear Editor,

Good to see Trudy Rubin noticing "Seeds of Peace" (and Palestinian perspectives) while exploring the Israel/Palestine conflict... sadly her headline
"Worldview: Withering seeds of hope" hits the nail on the head. Fact is all along various individual Jews and Palestinians have enjoyed friendship with each other and engaged in cooperative efforts. Tragically for all, the Israel/Palestine conflict itself often inspires the worst in many people in many different ways. Ending the conflict with a secular two state solution would go a long way towards empowering the best.

Anne Selden Annab

NOTES: Building Palestine, the Indispensable State for Peace

Refugees, Borders & Jerusalem...

additional notes
Hoping, and helping In this Monday, Nov. 22, 2010 a Palestinian shepherd follows a herd near the Mishor Adumim industrial zone with the Jewish West Bank settlement of Maaleh Adumim in the background. A rear guard of foreign investors and activists has joined the Palestinian campaign against companies operating in the West Bank, hoping to hit them in their pockets for building and servicing Jewish settlements, and helping to erect Israel's contentious West Bank separation barrier. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Hoping, and helping In this Monday, Nov. 22, 2010 a Palestinian youth rides a donkey in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone near the Jewish West Bank settlement of Maaleh Adumim. A rear guard of foreign investors and activists has joined the Palestinian campaign against companies operating in the West Bank, hoping to hit them in their pockets for building and servicing Jewish settlements, and helping to erect Israel's contentious West Bank separation barrier (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

A Palestinian woman holding an umbrella stands near Israeli, Palestinian and Druze women as they wait to take part in a meditation walk for rain at the Haas Promenade in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. Over 30 Israeli, Palestinian and Druze women took part in a silent walking meditation Tuesday afternoon, dedicated to bringing rain to the area.(AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill)

Palestinian Omar Salahat, 74, from the West Bank village of Al-Badhan, near Nablus, weaves a reed basket to sell in the market in his village November 24, 2010 REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini (WEST BANK)

Sanad Salahat sits near his grandfather Palestinian Omar Salahat, 74, from the West Bank village of Al-Badhan, near Nablus, as he weaves a reed basket to sell in the market in the village November 24, 2010. REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini (WEST BANK)

A protester holds a Palestinian flag in front of Israeli soldiers during a protest against the controversial Israeli barrier in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah November 26, 2010. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman (WEST BANK - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)

A Palestinian child holds a Palestinian flag as he and his mother look from their home window at a protest against the expansion of the nearby Jewish settlement of Halamish, in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh near Ramallah, Friday, Nov. 26, 2010. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

A Palestinian boy, member of the Amour family plays in the rubble of their family house after it was destroyed by Israeli troops in the West Bank village of Yatta near Hebron, Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010. According to the family, 17 people resided in the house which was destroyed for lacking building permits.(AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)

A Palestinian woman gestures as she stands in the rubble of her house after it was demolished by the Israeli army in the West Bank village of Yarza, Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010. The Israeli army said the mosque was destroyed because it was located within a military firing range. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

A Palestinian man walks next to the rubble of a mosque after it was demolished by the Israeli army in the West Bank village of Yarza, Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010. The Israeli army said the mosque was destroyed because it was located within a military firing range. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

Palestinians pray on the rubble of a mosque which was demolished by the Israeli army in the West Bank village of Yarza near Tubas town, where the army destroyed at least five houses due to lack of Israeli permits, Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

A Palestinian farmer holds a box of freshly harvested strawberries for export on a farm in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip November 27, 2010. Gaza farm workers rose at dawn on Sunday to witness the start of exports to Europe that they hope will herald a wider expansion of trade. The Gaza farmers hope to send 1,000 tonnes of strawberries to Europe through a partly eased Israeli blockade in the coming week. Picture taken November 27, 2010. To mach feature PALESTINIANS-ISRAEL/GAZA-EXPORTS REUTERS/Suhaib Salem (GAZA - Tags: POLITICS AGRICULTURE)

A Palestinian farmer sorts freshly harvested strawberries for export on a farm in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip November 27, 2010 REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

A Palestinian woman picks flowers for export on a farm in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip November 28, 2010. Gaza farm workers rose at dawn on Sunday to witness the start of exports to Europe that they hope will herald a wider expansion of trade. This is not the first time Israel has permitted exports of Palestinian strawberries and flowers from Gaza. But it coincides with the enlargement of a logistics hub at the Kerem Shalom crossing point in the south. To match feature PALESTINIANS-ISRAEL/GAZA-EXPORTS REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa (GAZA - Tags: POLITICS AGRICULTURE)

Palestinians ride a Tuk-Tuk behind a donkey cart in Gaza City, Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010. Gaza's donkey carts, slow-moving, but cheap and essential for survival in this scruffy land, have finally met their match. They are being edged out by an Asian import, a blend of motorcyle and miniature pickup truck. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

A Palestinian driver transports soft drinks on a Tuk-Tuk, a three-wheel vehicle, in Gaza City, Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010. Gaza's donkey carts, slow-moving, but cheap and essential for survival in this scruffy land, have finally met their match. They are being edged out by an Asian import, a blend of motorcyle and miniature pickup truck. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

German President Christian Wulff walks next to a wall recalling the names of towns where Jewish communities existed before World War II, including the name of his hometown Osnabruck, during a visit to the Valley of Communities in the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, in Jerusalem, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. Wulff is on an official visit to Israel and the West Bank. (AP Photo/ Uriel Sinai, Pool)

RNPS IMAGES OF THE YEAR 2010 - A Palestinian schoolgirl walks past Israeli border police officers on her way home from school during clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian stone-throwers in the Shuafat refugee camp in the West Bank near Jerusalem March 16, 2010. Palestinians mounted violent protests in Jerusalem on Tuesday and President Barack Obama's Middle East envoy cancelled plans to return to the region as a U.S.-Israeli crisis over Jewish settlement plans deepened. REUTERS/Ammar Awad (WEST BANK - Tags: CIVIL UNREST MILITARY POLITICS IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Palestinian girls sign a 250-metre-long letter in support of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails during a protest calling for their release in the West Bank town of Tulkarm November 28, 2010. REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini (WEST BANK - Tags: POLITICS)

Demonstrators release doves during a protest calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel, in the West Bank town of Tulkarem, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. Over 6,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently held in Israeli prisons. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)