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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ibtisam Barakat: Palestine Spring 2011

"Netanyahu says everyone knows the Right of Return is not going to happen. Everyone? I think everyone knows it IS going to happen except for Mr. Netanyahu. After all slavery ended and women vote and Hitler was defeated and Egyptians kicked out Hosni Mubarak and all sorts of rights are achieved.. Palestinian Right of Return is a matter of time and the clock is ticking....... Everybody and everything has a clock :D" Ibtisam Barakat acclaimed author of TASTING THE SKY: A Palestinian Childhood

My letters 5-21-2011 regarding Obama & Israel


RE: Editorial Board Opinion The blowup with Israel
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-blowup-with-israel/2011/05/20/AFwl827G_story.html

Dear Editor,

What matters most is creating a just and lasting peace with a two state solution to once and for all end the Israel/Palestine conflict as soon as possible- for everyone's sake.

Does your own editorial help that process, or does it hinder efforts to understand important priorities... Obama did not fail- Israel failed to respect good advice.

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab


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RE: Obama Draws the Line By Roger Cohen
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/21/opinion/21iht-edcohen21.html?ref=opinion

Dear Editor,

Yes long term, it really is totally indefensible for Israel to be colonizing another people... it is also totally indefensible to be pushing the native non-Jewish men, women and children of historic Palestine into forced exile:
Thousands of Palestinians who left the West Bank to work or study between 1967 and 1994 had residency rights revoked by Israel

A two state solution will only work if it is based on full respect for international law and universal basic human rights, including but not limited to full respect for the Palestinian refugees very real right to return to original homes and lands. Many Israelis have dual citizenship, enjoying full rights and freedoms and security both in their original country of birth as well as in Israel, whereas most Palestinians have no real rights or security anywhere. Palestinians need full and equal rights too, they need the security of a sovereign state as well as the option of dual citizenship where ever they might chose to live and invest their time and talents.

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab


"The ultimate goal of a two-state solution, however, must be not only two states for two peoples but also two states that will each embody an expression of their respective people’s national and historical narratives, two stories that will coexist without one needing to negate the other." Hussein Ibish: Two Narratives for Two Peoples

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

Growing Gardens for Palestine

Annie's New Letters (& notes)

"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

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hussein Ibish: Two Narratives for Two Peoples

Hussein Ibish: Two Narratives for Two Peoples

Many Jewish Israelis and their supporters have reacted with outrage to a New York Times Op-Ed on May 17 by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, particularly its invocation of the Palestinian historical narrative. Most troubling to them was Abbas’s description of how his family was “forced” to flee their home in what became Israel in 1948 — a word choice they feel implies that Abbas and his family were evicted by Jewish troops.

Abbas did not make any such claim, of course. Palestinians did, as the historical record suggests, quite reasonably feel “forced” to flee a war zone even when they were not physically compelled to do so. But the focus on that one verb was also a distraction from the main point of his narrative: the ongoing denial of the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. This denial, which is unquestionably true, lies at the heart of the Palestinian refugee grievance. It is also a historical fact — confirmed even by Israeli leaders who personally participated in these actions like the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin — that many Palestinians were subjected to forced expulsions, even if Abbas’s family was not among them.

What this disingenuous uproar points to is the continued refusal by both Palestinians and Israelis to recognize each other’s narratives as legitimate and to insist that their version of history alone is truthful.

Both sides fundamentally regard each other as interlopers. Modern Jews, particularly Jewish Israelis, see themselves as the sole heirs of the biblical Hebrews, and tend to view that ancient history as a metaphysical deed to the entirety of the land. They also tend to see Palestinian history as beginning with the Muslim conquest of Palestine, and sometimes dismiss most Palestinians as recent arrivals drawn to the area by the benefits of Jewish immigration in the 20th century. Palestinians typically consider themselves to be the descendants of all of the ancient peoples of the land, including the biblical Hebrews, and often question the lineal descent of modern Jews from the biblical Hebrews. They sometimes cast Jewish Israelis simply as colonialists and question key aspects of the Jewish historical narrative.

Israeli leaders have a long history of denying not only Palestinian history, but also Palestinian identity, such as Golda Meir’s infamous comment that there was no such thing as a Palestinian people. Palestinians, of course, have consistently returned the favor, frequently implying that Jews are a religious community but not a coherent national or ethnic group with the right of self-determination.

The truth elided by both parties is that the Palestinian and Israeli identities are 20th-century phenomena that emerged in parallel and in contradiction to each other. One hundred years ago, the words “Israeli” and “Palestinian” were meaningless. This is not to say that Arabs and Jews don’t have deep histories, but both political identities are recent constructs, forged in the context of the ongoing conflict.

Palestinian and Israeli national narratives both contain elements of the truth but they are tendentious and dismiss crucial and undeniable, but inconvenient, historical facts that are crucial to the other party’s identity. It is impossible, in the foreseeable future, for these narratives to be reconciled. Jewish Israelis will not become Palestinian nationalists, and Palestinians will not become Zionists.

One of the reasons that the two-state solution is the only way out of the conflict is that it would allow the two national projects and narratives to coexist in separate states. Rather than trying to base a resolution on arriving at one mutually accepted understanding of history, a two-state solution would also be a tacit acceptance that there are two mutually exclusive narratives, but this should not prevent each side from achieving some compromised version of its national aspirations.

Ultimately, it will be necessary for Palestinians to acknowledge the deep Jewish attachment to the land and for Israelis to acknowledge that the Palestinians are indeed its indigenous people, with not only civil and religious rights, but national ones as well.

But Prime Minister Netanyahu’s demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” is implausible because it implies a permanent, metaphysical national right belonging to all Jews in the world, whether or not they are Israelis. However, language in which Palestinians recognize a Jewish right of self-determination in the State of Israel and Israelis recognize the Palestinian right of self-determination on what are now the occupied territories, is almost certainly a prerequisite for the conclusion of a viable peace agreement.

Such reciprocal recognition of self-determination in two states will probably have to come at the end of negotiations, rather than as a prerequisite for them. The core final status issues, like refugees and Jerusalem, cannot be bypassed or foreclosed first.

The ultimate goal of a two-state solution, however, must be not only two states for two peoples but also two states that will each embody an expression of their respective people’s national and historical narratives, two stories that will coexist without one needing to negate the other.

Netanyahu's outrage at Obama's Middle East speech is synthetic

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/20/netanyahu-outrage-obama-speech-synthetic

Netanyahu's outrage at Obama's Middle East speech is synthetic

US presidents from Clinton onwards have used Israel's 1967 borders as a basis for talks

Thursday, May 19, 2011

HUSSEIN IBISH: One Step Forward

By acknowledging that interests and values sometimes contradict, President Obama has cleared the path for progress in the Middle East.

BY HUSSEIN IBISH | MAY 19, 2011

President Obama's Middle East speech couldn't possibly have -- and almost certainly didn't -- please all of its potential audiences. His comments, however, were refreshingly honest in acknowledging the limitations of American power and influence and even broke new ground on a number of important subjects.

Obama returned to the theme that characterized his last major Middle East policy speech, on the Libyan intervention: the intersection, and often tension, between American interests and values. He wisely chose not to proffer a facile panacea that would almost certainly have proven unworkable...READ MORE

James Zogby: Barack Obama's speech: no Cairo 2.0, For Americans, perhaps, this was stirring stuff. But for an Arab audience...

"Recognising the new realities in the Middle East is important. But recognising that Arabs see Palestinian rights as a central concern and have grown weary of what they feel is America's enabling of Israel's bad behaviour is important, too. The president got the new realities part right, but he missed a vital opportunity on Palestine." James Zogby
Barack Obama's speech: no Cairo 2.0

For Americans, perhaps, this was stirring stuff. But for an Arab audience, hoping for more commitment on Palestine, it fell flat

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/may/19/barack-obama-middle-east-speech

Sherri Muzher's ESCAPE TO A WORLD OF PALESTINIAN SURPRISES: Artist Steve Sabella

.::. PALESTINIAN SURPRISES.::.Artist Steve Sabella
Born in Jerusalem, Steve Sabella was named “An Artist to Watch,” by the ArtTactic Middle Eastern Report in 2010. The recipient of the Ellen Auerbach Award (2008) by the Akademie der Künste (Academy of the Arts) in Berlin, the gifted artist was commissioned for the inauguration of MATHAF: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha Qatar.

Now based between London and Berlin, Sabella’s artwork Till the End (2004 - photo emulsion on Jerusalem stone) entered the permanent British Museum collection in London. Sabella talks about this artwork: "So I ask myself today, whether the images on the stones were early visual prophecies about what was happening to Jerusalem and its transformation into an image (eventually disappearing) and how in many ways many of these images accompanied me from childhood."

To see this unique and creative artwork of stones, please visit: http://www.stevesabella.com/end.html
"At each place I visited, images started to emerge on surfaces of stones--it was as if they were revealing distant memories. I picked up a stone from every place, and at the same time I photographed an image of the place."

"I later on printed that image on the stone; in effect each place had its image on it I tried to preserve what was left, and if there was nothing left, I tried to imagine how the place looked in the past."

My Letters 5-19-2011 RE The Middle East mess...etc.

Love & Peace
Calligraphy by Fayeq Oweis

LATimes Editorial: The Middle East mess, Though recent events don't bode well for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, we can't give up.
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinionla/la-ed-mideast-20110519,0,1528080.story

Dear Editor,

Past events are what don't bode well for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process: Specifically sovereign Israel's bigoted refusal to respect the basic human rights of the native non-Jewish population of historic Palestine... Palestinians protesting this past week are not simply protesting Israel's founding- they are protesting the cruel injustice of the ongoing Nakba as Zionists continue to usurp Palestinian land, rights, freedom and peace.

Strong leadership and a willingness to take chances would indeed help create a just and lasting peace- start by refusing to be bullied into endorsing institutionalized bigotry. Fact is a fully secular two state solution based on FULL respect for international law and universal basic human rights would go a long way towards ending the religious extremism and suffering created by the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

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RE Mahmoud Abbas’s formula for war By Jackson Diehl
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/mahmoud-abbass-formula-for-war/2011/05/18/AFsdUl6G_story.html

Dear Editor,

Dismantling Jim Crow did not destroy America- respecting universal basic human rights, including but not limited to the Palestinian refugees inalienable right of return to original homes and lands will not destroy Israel: A fully secular two state solution to once and for all end the Israel/Palestine conflict really is the best way forward- for everyone's sake.

PLO Mission: 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. http://www.plomission.us/index.php?page=core-issues-3

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab
American homemaker & poet


"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 remarkable bravery of refugees on Nakba day was the first act of a Palestinian summer

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/may/19/nakba-day-palestinian-summerPalestinians climb the border fence between Syria and the Golan. Photograph: Jalaa Marey/Reuters

Nakba day: we waited 63 years for this

The remarkable bravery of refugees on Nakba day was the first act of a Palestinian summer

Karma Nabulsi

It was the moment for which we had all been holding our breath for decades – for 63 years to be precise. Palestinians everywhere watched the unfolding scene transfixed and awed. The camera followed the movements of a small group of people advancing from the mass of protesters. They were carefully making their way down a hill towards the high fence that closed off the mined field separating Syria from its own occupied territory of the Golan that borders historic Palestine, now Israel.

They were mostly young Palestinians, drawn from the 470,000-plus refugee community in Syria: from Yarmouk refugee camp inside Damascus, from Khan el-Sheikh camp outside it, from Deraa and Homs refugee camps in the south, from Palestinian gatherings all over the country.

Slowly, and in spite of the shouted warnings from the villagers from Majdal Shams about the lethal landmines installed by the Israeli military right up to the fence, these remarkable ordinary young people – Palestinian refugees – began to both climb and push at the fence. We were going home.

It was a profoundly revolutionary moment, for these hundreds of young people entering Majdal Shams last Sunday made public the private heart of every Palestinian citizen, who has lived each day since 1948 in the emergency crisis of a catastrophe. Waiting, and struggling, and organising for only two things: liberation and return.

What made this moment and others like it across the region so radical in gesture, democratic in purpose, and universal in intent? It brought the entire world suddenly face to face with the intimate and immediate in the very human struggle for freedom of each Palestinian, whether refugee or not. Sixty-three years ago the entire body politic of the people of Palestine was violently destroyed and dispersed. All Palestinians, whether refugee or not, share that terrible history – it is what unites us.

This is the shared experience we commemorate every year on Nakba Day: the year-long expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians that began in 1947 and continued straight through 1948 into the terrible snowstorm winters of 1949, creating what is now the world's largest refugee population....READ MORE

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

CNN News: Palestinian refugees making high fashion..."They know where they came from and they think that's home. Their dream is to go back."

" Most of the women were born in the refugee camps and have never been to the Palestinian Territories, but still consider it to be home.

Inglessis said: "They are always thinking about Palestine, of their villages, their homes, their olive trees, or what's left of them -- even the ones who have never been there.

"They know where they came from and they think that's home. Their dream is to go back.

"When they are embroidering, they feel Palestine is with them. It's their roots. They are fighting with their needle." "

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/meast/05/18/palestinian.refugees.fashion/

Palestinian refugees making high fashion

By Catriona Davies, for CNN
May 18, 2011 -- Updated 1030 GMT (1830 HKT

(CNN) -- Women living in refugee camps are embroidering clothes and accessories sold in high-end department stores, through a business started by a 27-year-old Palestinian woman.

Zeina Abou Chaaban runs a social business called "Palestyle" selling embroidery made by Palestinian women in refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.

The designs, including clothing, bags, jewelry and belts, are sold through Bloomingdales in Dubai, and other stores in Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and the UK.

Abou Chaaban, a Palestinian woman living in Dubai, said: "I wanted to spread the richness and wealth of Palestinian culture, but in a trendy way.....READ MORE

http://www.palestyle.com/#!about-us



Economist: Israel and Palestine Here comes your non-violent resistance

Here comes your non-violent resistance

May 17th 2011, 2:09 by M.S.
FOR many years now, we've heard American commentators bemoan the violence of the Palestinian national movement. If only Palestinians had learned the lessons of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, we hear, they'd have had their state long ago. Surely no Israeli government would have violently suppressed a non-violent Palestinian movement of national liberation seeking only the universally recognised right of self-determination.

Palestinian commentators and organisers, including Fadi Elsalameen and Moustafa Barghouthi, have spent the last couple of years pointing out that these complaints resolutely ignore the actual and growing Palestinian non-violent resistance movement. For that matter, they elide the fact that the first intifada, which broke out in 1987, was initially as close to non-violent as could be reasonably expected. For the most part, it consisted of general strikes and protest marches. In addition, there was a fair amount of kids throwing rocks, as well as the continuing threat of low-level terrorism, mainly from organisations based abroad; the Israelis conflated the autochthonous protest movement with the terrorism and responded brutally, and the intifada quickly lost its non-violent character. That's not that different from what has happened over the past couple of months in Libya; it shows that it's very hard to keep a non-violent movement non-violent when the government you're demonstrating against subjects you to gunfire for a sustained period of time.

In any case, if you're among those who have made the argument that Israelis would give Palestinians a state if only the Palestinians would learn to employ Ghandhian tactics of non-violent protest, it appears your moment of truth has arrived....READ MORE

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Can Obama's Mideast speech fit the square peg of interests in the round role of values?

"For Obama to resolve the clear tension between American interests and values regarding demands for radical change in Washington’s relations with allied Arab states is an extraordinary challenge. Coming up with an actionable formula that can place the US on the side of the aspirations of the Arab people, which is essential, without further antagonizing and alarming its already skittish – and, in some important cases, alienated – allies will be the greatest foreign policy challenge this young president has yet faced." Hussein Ibish

Can Obama's Mideast speech fit the square peg of interests in the round role of values?

Following wise counsel

His Majesty King Abdullah holds talks with US President Barack Obama, attended by several senior Jordanian and US officials, in Washington on Tuesday (Photo by Yousef Allan)
http://www.jordantimes.com/?news=37567
Jordan Times Editorial
Following wise counsel

His Majesty King Abdullah’s visit to Washington, for talks with US President Barack Obama and other high-ranking officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is yet another attempt at reviving the prospect of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Much has happened in the region since the King’s last trip to the US, which makes the quest for peace between the Palestinians and Israel all the more pressing.

Aware of the recent upheavals in the region, US officials must have realised the dependable role the Kingdom can play. Clinton described the Monarch as “an influential and stable voice in a turbulent region and changing world”.

Jordan is recognised by American officials as an important strategic partner so it stands to reason that this being the case, the US must listen more carefully to what the King has to say about the need to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict once and for all.

The US has an equally important role in the peace process in the Middle East. The regional developments - the Arab Spring that saw two regimes ousted and movement across the Arab world demanding better rulers and respect for dignity - should not detract the US from the core issue: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Obama no doubt values the counsel and the vision of the King; as such, he should not look at the Monarch’s words as purely rhetoric, but take practical steps to address the issue.

The Palestinian-Israeli - and on a wider scale the Arab-Israeli - problem is not limited to the region. It is a source of discontent and anger that spills beyond the area and is every now and then hijacked by misguided forces that have grievances with the West.

The question is how many times does the King have to travel to the White House to remind the US of the centrality of the Palestinian-Israeli problem to the Middle East before his wise counsel gets the US to use its clout to settle it?

The recent disturbances on Israel’s borders with Syria and Lebanon are serious reminders that things can easily get out of control and engulf the entire region in even more violence.

One can only hope that this time the US will listen carefully to what the King has to say about the region’s many problems and act accordingly.

Obama has the historic chance of making his vision and the region’s desire for peace come true.


18 May 2011
Boy scouts hold up the Palestinian flag and a black flag that reads "There is no solution but the right of return", as they commemorate the 1948 creation of the Jewish state known as the "Nakba." US President Barack Obama warned that political turmoil battering the Middle East made it "more vital than ever" that Israel and the Palestinians get back to the negotiating table. (AFP/Saif Dahlah)

Palestinian children hold their national flags while marching on the streets during rally marking the anniversary of the mass displacement of Palestinians surrounding Israel's establishment in 1948, at Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 17, 2011. The rally marked an annual day of commemoration for the Palestinian people of the displacement that accompanied the creation of Israel in 1948. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

A Palestinian girl wears a headband with Arabic that reads ' Allud, We shall definitely return' during a rally at Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 17, 2011. The rally marked an annual day of commemoration for the Palestinian people of the displacement that accompanied the creation of Israel in 1948. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

A Palestinian boy wears a headband with Arabic that reads 'Ager, We shall definitely return' next to a poster representative a 'Nakba,' Arabic for catastrophe, during a rally at Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 17, 2011. The rally marked an annual day of commemoration for the Palestinian people of the displacement that accompanied the creation of Israel in 1948. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Palestinian children look through the window during a rally at Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 17, 2011. The rally marked an annual day of commemoration for the Palestinian people of the displacement that accompanied the creation of Israel in 1948. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

A Palestinian boy with his face painted with the Palestinian flag wears a headband with a key with Arabic that reads 'We shall return' during a rally at Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 17, 2011. The rally marked an annual day of commemoration for the Palestinian people of the displacement that accompanied the creation of Israel in 1948. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Palestinian youths hold up flags as they participate in a bicycle rally marking the anniversary of the mass displacement of Palestinians surrounding Israel's establishment in 1948, in the West Bank city of Jenin, Monday, May 16, 2011. Text on shirts reads in Arabic: 'We shall return, 1948'. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas).

A Palestinian man walks through the checkpoint in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on his way to Jerusalem, Tuesday, May 17, 2011 (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Palestinian mourners carry the coffins of three Palestinians wrapped in the Palestinian flags who killed when Israeli soldiers opened fire on Sunday at protesters who approached the village of Majdal Shams at Syria's border with the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, during a funeral procession at Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, Syria, on Monday May 16 2011. Israeli troops clashed with Arab protesters along three hostile borders on Sunday, leaving people dead and dozens wounded in an unprecedented wave of violence marking the anniversary of the mass displacement of Palestinians surrounding Israel's establishment in 1948 (AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi)

Surrounded by media members, Hassan Hijazi, a Syrian man who infiltrated Israel when a large crowd breached the border on Sunday, attends a remand hearing in a Tel Aviv court, Israel, Tuesday, May 17, 2011. Hijazi, 28, spent a full day hitchhiking and rising a bus next to an Israeli soldier as he made his way some 130 miles (200 kilometers) from the Golan Heights to a Tel Aviv neighborhood to find the home he said his family lost during Israel's 1948 establishment, he said.(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Israel harms Palestinians, but also itself By MIKE GRAVEL

Israel harms Palestinians, but also itself

By MIKE GRAVEL
May 15th, 2011

My concern for the Israeli-Arab conflict is a personal one. I was raised in a Jewish neighborhood -- three synagogues within three blocks of our home in Springfield, Mass. -- which sensitized me to Jewish culture and history. As a young student of world affairs, I closely followed the history of the Holocaust and Israel's birth in Palestine.

On the other hand, I also had a close boyhood friend whose family had roots in Syria and Lebanon; they exposed me to the local Lebanese community. The Middle East conflict was part of my global political awakening

During my 12 years in the U.S. Senate I enjoyed the support of a number of Jewish organizations, most notably the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the preeminent "pro-Israel" lobbying organization. For a time, I had a perfect voting record in support of Israel.

On several trips to Israel and the Middle East, I developed contacts at the highest levels of the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). These trips were discouraging; the possibility of peace seemed unattainable -- until the courageous leadership of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat emerged.

My political rupture with AIPAC occurred over a vote for military aid to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel. This legislative package of aid was put together by the White House primarily to shore up support for Sadat in the Middle East. AIPAC opposed the package and hoped to muster enough congressional opposition to pressure the White House to stop the military aid package to Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

But on this occasion, Sadat's overture to Israel was too significant a factor. This was a rare instance in which AIPAC didn't "win" on an issue. Interestingly, my vote was the same as those of Sens. Jacob Javits (New York) and Abraham Ribicoff (Connecticut), two Jewish leaders at that time in Congress and the nation. They also recognized the importance of supporting Sadat and were not intimidated by pressure from AIPAC.

This event underscores the nature of the Israel lobby in Washington. Political positions and decisions within AIPAC were and continue to be profoundly influenced by the Israeli government.

The tragedy is that much of the nation's progressive Jewish community defers to Likud-like organizations, and too many Jewish donors -- as with Christian Zionists -- buy into fear-mongering and rationalizations for anti-Palestinian discrimination transmitted from abroad. A Jewish community once at the forefront of pushing for civil rights and equality in our own country too often today supports organizations and candidates upholding Israeli discrimination in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and, increasingly, within Israel itself.

When I left office in 1981, Israeli leaders were increasingly succumbing to a bunker mentality, sustained by fear and a history of oppression that has long since changed. The Israel I admired is difficult to recognize, save in the actions of young Jewish demonstrators helping Palestinians to protest Israel's expansionist West Bank barrier. Israel has been captured by the religious right with its sense of entitlement to Palestinian land.

The dangerous political leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his oppressive domination of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank must be opposed. He does not want peace. Instead, Israel continues to build on the ethnic cleansing it perpetrated in 1948. The colonization effort in occupied Palestinian territory is thriving under Netanyahu.

Unfortunately, I expect the U.S. Congress to give Netanyahu thunderous applause later this month in a joint meeting as he obscures Israeli discrimination against Palestinians. Likewise, this month will see many American politicians beat a path to the annual AIPAC conference, where speaker after speaker will identify threats against Israel without noting the enormous harm Israel is causing itself -- and Palestinians -- with a repressive occupation fast approaching half a century in age.

Until Israel's leadership and policies change, we will not see regional peace. Unless American leaders acquire a more balanced approach, and become more supportive of Palestinian aspirations for freedom, the United States will not be able to act as a fair broker for peace.

Mike Gravel was a Democratic U.S. senator from Alaska from 1969 to 1981.

Thousands of Palestinians who left the West Bank to work or study between 1967 and 1994 had residency rights revoked by Israel

Israel stripped 140,000 Palestinians of residency rights, document reveals

Thousands of Palestinians who left the West Bank to work or study between 1967 and 1994 had residency rights revoked

Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem
guardian.co.uk,

Israel stripped thousands of Palestinians of their right to live in the West Bank over a 27-year period, forcing most of them into permanent exile abroad, a document obtained under freedom of information laws has disclosed.

Around 140,000 Palestinians who left to study or work had their residency rights revoked between 1967 and 1994.

Those leaving the West Bank across the Allenby bridge border crossing to Jordan were required to deposit their identity documents with Israeli officials. In return they were given a card, valid for three years, which could be extended three times for an additional year.

If they stayed abroad more than six months beyond the expiration of the card, Israel deemed them "NLRs" – no longer resident – and their right to return was revoked.

"The mass withdrawal of residency rights from tens of thousands of West Bank residents, tantamount to permanent exile from their homeland, remains an illegitimate demographic policy and a grave violation of international law," said Hamoked, an Israeli NGO that filed the freedom of information request....READ MORE

New York Times: The Long Overdue Palestinian State By Mahmoud Abbas

The Long Overdue Palestinian State

Ramallah, West Bank

SIXTY-THREE years ago, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy was forced to leave his home in the Galilean city of Safed and flee with his family to Syria. He took up shelter in a canvas tent provided to all the arriving refugees. Though he and his family wished for decades to return to their home and homeland, they were denied that most basic of human rights. That child’s story, like that of so many other Palestinians, is mine.

This month, however, as we commemorate another year of our expulsion — which we call the nakba, or catastrophe — the Palestinian people have cause for hope: this September, at the United Nations General Assembly, we will request international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and that our state be admitted as a full member of the United Nations.

Many are questioning what value there is to such recognition while the Israeli occupation continues. Others have accused us of imperiling the peace process. We believe, however, that there is tremendous value for all Palestinians — those living in the homeland, in exile and under occupation.

It is important to note that the last time the question of Palestinian statehood took center stage at the General Assembly, the question posed to the international community was whether our homeland should be partitioned into two states. In November 1947, the General Assembly made its recommendation and answered in the affirmative. Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened. War and further expulsions ensued. Indeed, it was the descendants of these expelled Palestinians who were shot and wounded by Israeli forces on Sunday as they tried to symbolically exercise their right to return to their families’ homes.

Minutes after the State of Israel was established on May 14, 1948, the United States granted it recognition. Our Palestinian state, however, remains a promise unfulfilled....READ MORE

Monday, May 16, 2011

Palestinians test tactic of unarmed mass marches

By KARIN LAUB, Associated Press Karin Laub, Associated Press

RAMALLAH, West Bank – Palestinian activists are calling it a preview of new tactics to pressure Israel and win world support for statehood: Masses of marchers, galvanized by the Arab Spring and brought together by Facebook, descending on borders and military posts — and daring Israeli soldiers to shoot.

It could prove more problematic for Israel than the suicide bombings and other deadly violence of the past — which the current Palestinian Authority leadership feels only tainted their cause.

After attempted border breaches from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Gaza left 15 Palestinians dead Sunday, Israeli officials openly puzzled over how to handle an unfamiliar new phase.

"The Palestinians' transition from terrorism and suicide bombings to deliberately unarmed mass demonstrations is a transition that will present us with difficult challenges," said Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Sunday's protests were driven by renewed hopes that Palestinian statehood — at least as an internationally approved idea within specific borders — is approaching after years of paralysis....READ MORE

UN: Israel displaced 149 Palestinian children in 2011

Ready to demolish a Palestinian home, Israeli soldiers and bulldozers surround
Samir Muhammad Hasan Younis' home in the West Bank village of Azzun Atma
near Qalqilia, January 11, 2011. [MaanImages/Khaleel Reash]

http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=387987
UN: Israel displaced 149 Palestinian children in 2011

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israel's policy of demolishing Palestinian homes has displaced 149 children in the West Bank so far this year, figures from the UN agency for Palestinian refugees show.

Between January and April, Israel destroyed at least 193 Palestinian structures, including 78 residential units, forcibly displacing 333 Palestinians, UNRWA said.

The figures show a sharp rise from with the same period in 2010, when 142 Palestinians -- including 61 children -- were forcibly displaced.

On Sunday EU commissioner Kristalina Georgieva urged Israel to stop demolishing Palestinian homes, during her visit to the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

"Any action that leads to forced displacement must stop," the commissioner said, adding that Israel's right to security did not clear the state of its obligation to respect international law.

"Notably women and children live under the constant threat of harassment, eviction and disruption of their lives," Georgieva said.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness told Ma'an that the UN agency was particularly concerned about the "incalculable" impact of the demolitions on children.

On the anniversary of the Nakba -- the forced displacement of 760,000 Palestinians from their homes in 1948 -- the UN figures show that Israel's policies continue to discriminate against Palestinians.

"Whether you call this ethnic cleansing or not, this policy is discriminating against one ethnic group, the Palestinians," Gunness noted.

The UNRWA official added that home demolitions in Jerusalem were particularly alarming.

"We are concerned about Jerusalem which is being drained of its Palestinian population due to these policies which lead to forced displacement," Gunness said.

UNRWA provides services for millions of Palestinian refugees living in camps across the region. Over the weekend, Israeli forces killed at least 14 protesters at rallies demanding that Israel recognizes the refugees' right to return home.

UNRWA commissioner-general Filippo Grandi deplored the killings, which he said demonstrated the vulnerability of Palestinian refugees.

"I deplore the deaths of Palestine refugees in Lebanon, the occupied Golan Heights and the occupied Palestinian territory," Grandi said in a statement.

"They underline the need for a just and durable solution, based on UN resolutions, to resolve the plight of those who have endured statelessness, exile and dispossession for 63 years."

Grandi urged parties to address the fate of the refugees, particularly at a time of profound changes in the region.

"I fear that failure to do so will only lead to more instability and further loss of life," he added.

A right to return By Jody McIntyre

No amount of time can make an injustice legitimate. No amount of oppression can make a people forget.

Sunday, May 15th 2011 marked the 63rd anniversary of al-Nakba, or the catastrophe, to commemorate the ethnic cleansing of 700,000 Palestinians from their land. Yesterday, thousands of Palestinian refugees marched alongside Syrians, Egyptians, Jordanians and Lebanese, to demand their right to return to their homes. On the Syrian border, many managed to cross over into the Israeli-occupied Syrian territory of Majdal Shams, in the Golan Heights. In the village of Maroun al-Ras, southern Lebanon, thousands marched to the border to return home, and were shot at by Israeli soldiers. In Gaza, snipers picked off unarmed demonstrators as they marched to the Erez crossing. In the space of one day, Israeli soldiers had killed citizens of three different nationalities; Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese. It was not even the top news story of the day....READ MORE

My letters 5-16-2011 RE Israeli troops fire at Palestinian protesters, killing at least 12... the Nakba continues

Palestinian Protest Photos: Palestinian children from UNRWA school carry flags as they salute and sing the national anthem to commemorate Nakba near the port-city of Sidon in south Lebanon May 14, 2011. Palestinians will mark "Nakba" (Catastrophe) on May 15 to commemorate the expulsion or fleeing of some 700, 000 Palestinians from their homes in the war that led to the founding of Israel in 1948. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho

RE: Palestinians storm into Israel, 15 reported killed during unprecedented demonstration
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/may/15/palestinians-storm-into-israel/?page=1

Dear Editor,

Religious tyranny of every type flourishes with the Israel/Palestine conflict: Both Zionists and Islamists are very eager to sabotage reasonable efforts to create a fully secular two state solution to once and for all end the cruelties of the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Both Zionists and Islamists seek to turn the Palestinian refugees very real right to return to original homes and lands into a weapon of war- it is not a weapon of war. The refugees right of return is a universal basic human right and a very reasonable expectation as well as a necessary part of civilized life in a modern world. Every time you leave your home to go shopping or to school or to work you know you can return to your home and things. It is a simple as that.

I agree with Dr. Ibish (of the American Task Force on Palestine) that President Obama deserves credit for his efforts so far... I very much hope that Obama (& Ibish) continue to support the idea of empowering real freedom, justice, peace and progress in the Middle East.

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab


************************
RE: Hamas in Gaza: End Zionist project in Palestine
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2011-05-15-hamas-gaza_n.htm

Dear Editor,

Two peas in a pod: Islamists and Zionists both want their own religious tyranny and extremism to be empowered with guns and state funds.

The people of Israel and Palestine deserve better than that.

A fully secular two state solution is the only way to stop the Israel/Palestine conflict- for everyone's sake.

Start a just and lasting peace in the Middle East by FULLY respecting basic human freedoms and rights, including but not limited to the Palestinian refugees very right to return to original homes and lands.

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab


************************
RE: Israeli Troops Fire as Marchers Breach Borders
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/16/world/middleeast/16mideast.html?_r=1&ref=world

Dear Editor,

The Palestinian cause has indeed been abused by many- but that is only because the Palestinians really do have just cause for complaint: 63 years of an ongoing Israeli made Nakba has destroyed many Palestinian homes and families and jobs.

Innocent and increasingly vulnerable men, women and children are already being harshly oppressed, impoverished, displaced and tormented time and time again by this cruel situation, which will only get worse as religious tyranny of every type takes over the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Zionists and Islamists are both trying to turn the Palestinian refugees right of return into a weapon of war- but it is not a weapon of war at all, it is a universal basic human right that most people world wide take for granted. A just and lasting peace depends on fully respecting basic human rights, including but not limited to the Palestinian refugees very real right to return to original homes and lands- as soon as possible.

Wake up America- right now firmly supporting a fully secular two state solution to once and for ALL end the Israel/Palestine conflict is the only way to avoid continued catastrophe through out the Middle East.

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab, American homemaker & poet


************************
RE: Israeli troops fire at Palestinian protesters on borders, killing at least 12
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle-east/israeli-troops-fire-at-palestinian-protestors-on-borders-killing-at-least-12/2011/05/15/AF9lnF4G_story.html

Dear Editor,

"It was a moment, a day of pride for us all. And it was validation that Palestine’s refugees, the usurped homes and land and the years of exile will be forever etched in each and every Palestinian soul until the day comes when this huge injustice is finally rectified." Proud to be Palestinian By Joharah Baker for MIFTAH

Bravo to all the many Palestinian men, women and children who help empower The Universal Declaration of Human Rights by being non-violent resistance to Israel's brazen institutionalized bigotry and ongoing violations of international law.

It is obvious to me at least, and many others, that Zionist as well as Islamist propaganda very much undermines America's ability to understand what is really going on, and the situation keeps going from bad to worse. The Nakba needs to end- for everyone's sake.

Seeing the photos of the undercover Israeli policemen dressed as Palestinians I have to wonder how much and how often Israelis infiltrate and influence Palestinian resistance in order to sabotage inspiring and noble Palestinian efforts to find justice and peace.

A fully secular two state solution to once and for all end the Israel/Palestine conflict ASAP really is the best way forward... Start the process of building a just and lasting peace and real progress in the Middle East by fully respecting the Palestinian refugees very real right to return to original homes and lands.

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab
"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 Golden Rule
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

UN officials underscore concerns about Middle East after day of deadly clashes

"Mr. Falk described this year as a particularly notable anniversary of Nakba, because “it coincides with the release of information confirming that Israel secretly revoked as many as 140,000 residency permits of Palestinians between 1967 and 1994.

“This is not only another violation of Israel’s obligations as the occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention. It is also a glaring example of several sinister schemes that Israel has employed over the years to rid historic Palestine of its original inhabitants, in order to make space for Israeli citizens.”"

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=38393&Cr=Palestin&Cr1=

UN officials underscore concerns about Middle East after day of deadly clashes

Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories (file photo)

16 May 2011 –
United Nations officials warned today that further deaths and instability will occur unless a lasting solution is found to the Middle East conflict, a day after 12 people were reportedly killed following protests in Lebanon, the occupied Golan Heights and the occupied Palestinian territories.

The protests around the region took place as many Palestinians marked what they refer to as Nakba or “catastrophe” – the anniversary of Israeli independence in 1948.

Filippo Grandi, the Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), issued a statement in which he urged all sides to show restraint and ensure that civilians are not killed or injured.

Mr. Grandi’s statement echoed the remarks yesterday of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos and Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas, the Force Commander of the UN peacekeeping operation in Lebanon (UNIFIL), who all expressed deep concern about the situation in the region.

“These sad events demonstrate once more the vulnerability of the Palestine refugees we serve,” Mr. Grandi said.

“They underline the need for a just and durable solution, based on UN resolutions, to resolve the plight of those who have endured statelessness, exile and dispossession for 63 years.”

Mr. Grandi noted that the Middle East and North Africa, where pro-democracy movements have taken to the streets to demand change from their governments, was undergoing “a time of profound and far-reaching change.”

He urged the parties to tackle what Mr. Ban has called the unsustainable status quo in the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the fate of the Palestinian refugees.

“I fear that failure to do so will only lead to more instability and further loss of life,” he said.

Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, issued his own statement in which he urged the international community to take action to compel Israel to end its occupation and confiscation of Palestinian land.

“This past week, seven Palestinian families in the West Bank village of al-Walaja received demolition orders,” he said. “This is a reminder that the Nakba continues. Israel’s pursuit of what it calls ‘facts on the ground’ consistently forces Palestinians to abandon their homes, lands and lives, creating a reality better understood as virtual annexation.”

Mr. Falk described this year as a particularly notable anniversary of Nakba, because “it coincides with the release of information confirming that Israel secretly revoked as many as 140,000 residency permits of Palestinians between 1967 and 1994.

“This is not only another violation of Israel’s obligations as the occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention. It is also a glaring example of several sinister schemes that Israel has employed over the years to rid historic Palestine of its original inhabitants, in order to make space for Israeli citizens.”

News Tracker: past stories on this issue

Ban urges restraint after day of deadly clashes across the Middle East

Time Magazine: Palestinian Border Protests "...those closer to events found in the day the makings of a new narrative"

Palestinian Border Protests: The Arab Spring Model for Confronting Israel

Demonstrators use a mkaeshift stretcher to carry the body of man killed as protesters from Syria tried to approach the village of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights between Syria and Israel, May 15, 2011 Yaron Kaminsky / AP

.... The headlines Sunday were all about the violence of the day: at least four people were shot dead by Israeli forces on the Syrian fence line, and as many as 10 were killed either by Israeli or Lebanese army gunfire at a similar demonstration on the nearby frontier with southern Lebanon. The death toll, along with the accounts of stone-throwing and tear gas, comport with the familiar narrative of the conflict, one constructed over years of Israel describing efforts to defend itself. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu encouraged that narrative on Sunday, arguing that the protesters were undermining the very existence of the State of Israel.

But those closer to events found in the day the makings of a new narrative. The Palestinians in Syria, Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian enclaves of Gaza and the West Bank approached Israeli gun positions on Sunday without arms of their own. If some teenagers threw rocks, a protest leader said they had apparently failed to attend the workshops on nonviolence the organizers arranged in what they call a new paradigm for the conflict. The aim, which appears to be building support, aims to re-cast the Palestinian-Israel conflict on the same terms that brought down dictatorships in Egypt and Tunisia.

Massive non-violent protests are aimed at winning international sympathy for the Palestinian perspective, and as a result, forcing Israel to pull out of territories its army has occupied since 1967. As the dust settled Sunday, senior Israeli officers acknowledged their vulnerability to the approach, which dovetails with the strategy of Palestinian leaders to ask the UN General Assembly to recognize a Palestininian state in September. (See "A New Palestinian Movement: Young, Networked, Nonviolent.")

"What we saw today was the promo for what we might see in September on the day the United Nations declares a state: Thousands of Palestinians marching toward Israeli checkpoints, Israeli settlements and the fence along the West Bank and Gaza Palestinians coming with their bare hands to demonstrate," a senior Israeli officer tells TIME. "This is a huge problem. Well have to study what happened today to do better." ...READ MORE

Proud to be Palestinian By Joharah Baker for MIFTAH

Proud to be Palestinian

It has been quite some time since I have swelled with pride at a collective act from my people. Yesterday, May 15, I was reminded of how it feels to burst with emotion and awe at the Palestinians. Yesterday, the day all Palestinians commemorate Al Nakba - the 1948 Catastrophe - throngs of Palestinians, Syrians, Egyptians and Lebanese took to the streets, marched on the borders with Israel and demanded their right of return. In Ramallah, thousands of people raised Palestinian flags, held symbolic keys to the homes from which they were expelled in that fateful year and chanted promises to never forget. In Hebron, black balloons were flown to mark the disaster which befell some 800,000 Palestinians during Al Nakba when they fled or were driven out of their homes and villages and never allowed back.

It has been a long time coming. Israel has never recognized the injustice it caused the Palestinian people upon its own creation. On the contrary, it has excluded the refugee issue from any real negotiations and pushed it aside into that black hole called “final status issues.” Instead, Israel would rather we forget; sweep the monumental collective crime under the carpet of oblivion so it can continue to build its lie around its own establishment. “A land without a people for a people without a land”, was the mantra of early Zionists in their justification for usurping Palestine. Yesterday, on our day of remembrance, we reminded ourselves and the world that this is one of history’s most dangerous and cruel falsities; that there were people on this land who had lives, homes, a past and dreams of a future.

Schoolchildren out in the streets to take part in the marches, carried signs with the names of their original villages held high above their heads. “I am from Majdal,” “I am from Haifa” the placards read, pointing to villages and cities visible only in their minds’ eye because they have never been able to return. At Qalandiya checkpoint, young men, women and children faced down heavily armed Israeli soldiers who cowered behind their jeeps, their protective shields their automatic machine guns, shooting up clouds of tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and finally live ammunition.

But the most moving scene by far was of Palestinian refugees living in the squalid camps of Syria and Lebanon marching on the barbwire borders with Israel, Palestinian flags raised high above their heads. In Majdal Shams in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, throngs of Palestinians and Syrians breached the border, hugging and kissing their occupied Syrian compatriots from whom they have been separated for 30 years. “Long live Palestine!” they yelled as they embraced. “Welcome home,” others cried. “You are free.”

The day was not without losses though. At the Lebanese border town of Maron Al Ras, 10 people were killed when Israel opened fire at Palestinians trying to cross over. In the Golan Heights, two people were shot and killed. One Palestinian was killed at the Erez Crossing into the Gaza Strip during yesterday’s marches and hundreds were injured in clashes in the West Bank. For those who lost their loved ones or for others who lie in hospital beds with gunshot wounds or sit in one of Israel’s prison cells, we pay tribute and offer our utmost respect.

Still, the day was victorious. Perhaps it was the effect of the Arab Spring, perhaps it was the reconciliation deal signed between Hamas and Fateh or perhaps it was just the accumulation of one too many years of waiting. For whatever reason, all these factors came together in one surge of people power, one voice of determination to never be forgotten. It was a moment, a day of pride for us all. And it was validation that Palestine’s refugees, the usurped homes and land and the years of exile will be forever etched in each and every Palestinian soul until the day comes when this huge injustice is finally rectified.

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

B'Tselem: Dispossession and Exploitation: Israel's Policy in the Jordan Valley & Northern Dead Sea

http://www.btselem.org/english/publications/summaries/201105_dispossession_and_exploitation.asp

Dispossession and Exploitation: Israel's Policy in the Jordan Valley & Northern Dead Sea

The Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea area contains the largest land reserves in the West Bank. The area covers 1.6 million dunams, which constitute 28.8 percent of the West Bank. Sixty-five thousand Palestinians, live in 29 communities, and an estimated additional 15,000 Palestinians reside in dozens of small Beduin communities. Some 9,400 settlers live in the 37 settlements (including seven outposts) in the area.

Israel has instituted in this area a regime that intensively exploits its resources, to an extent greater than elsewhere in the West Bank, and which demonstrates its intention: de facto annexation of the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea area to the State of Israel.

Taking control of land

Israel has used various means to take control of most of the land in the area, as follows:

  • Thousands of dunams were taken from Palestinian refugees and used to build the first settlements there, beginning in 1968 and extending throughout the 1970s. This, in violation of a military order.

  • By legal manipulation, Israel has enlarged the inventory of “state land” in the area, such that 53.4 percent of the area, four times greater than pre-1967, is now deemed state land.

  • Israel has declared 45.7 percent of the area military firing zones, although they are situated next to main traffic arteries, alongside settlements’ built-up areas and farmland, or include land of settlements that is under cultivation.

  • Israel has closed some 20 percent of the land by declaring them nature reserves, although only a small section of them has been developed and made suitable for visitors. Two-thirds of the nature reserves areas are also areas of military firing zones.

  • Israel has seized lands in the northern Jordan Valley for the Separation Barrier and has placed 64 landmine fields near the route of the Jordan River. The army itself contends the landmines are no longer required for security purposes.

Using these means, Israel has taken control of 77.5 percent of the land and has prevented Palestinians from building on or using the land or remaining there. Twelve percent of the area has been allocated for settlements, including the entire northern shore of the Dead Sea. Israel’s policy has cut up the Palestinian spatial sphere and isolated Palestinian communities in the area. In the last two years, the Civil Administration has repeatedly demolished structures in the area’s Beduin communities, although some of them were established before 1967.

Taking control of water sources...READ MORE

B'TSELEM - The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories was established in 1989 by a group of prominent academics, attorneys, journalists, and Knesset members. It endeavors to document and educate the Israeli public and policymakers about human rights violations in the Occupied Territories, combat the phenomenon of denial prevalent among the Israeli public, and help create a human rights culture in Israel.

B'Tselem in Hebrew literally means "in the image of," and is also used as a synonym for human dignity. The word is taken from Genesis 1:27 "And God created humans in his image. In the image of God did He create him." It is in this spirit that the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "All human beings are born equal in dignity and rights."