Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cameras catch human view of Palestinian village

Emad Burnat presented "5 broken cameras" at the Sundance film festival this weekend (AFP/Getty Images)

Cameras catch human view of Palestinian village

Palestinian filmmaker Emad Burnat spent five years filming his village's resistance to Israeli settlers -- and brought his intimate but powerful documentary to the Sundance film festival.

Co-directed with Israeli Guy Davidi, "5 broken cameras" was shown in competition on the first weekend of the world-renowned independent film festival, which runs until January 29 in the US ski resort of Park City, Utah.

The West Bank village of Bilin, some 10 kilometers (6 miles) west of Ramallah, made headlines when its inhabitants demonstrated in 2005 against an Israeli settlement on their land.

The same year Burnat, an olive picker, received a small camera as a gift for the birth of his fourth child. He rapidly developed from family home movies to filming the resistance of Bilin.

"Emad .. started filming what was happening, but he didn't think about making a film," Davidi, who met the Palestinian in 2005 when he was making a film about the West Bank and the problem of water.

"It took a long time, for what he said, until he started thinking of making a film with the footage he got."

It was only in 2009 that Emad called him saying he wanted to make a documentary out of his footage, even though many films had already been made on the subject.

"I had the feeling that we could do a film from his point of view if we could use the footage that he had shot in a very personal way," said Davidi.

Emad agreed to the idea -- a courageous decision, said the Israeli.

"He took a big risk in revealing himself. For a Palestinian, to make a personal and intimate movie, filming his wife, or himself, fragile and vulnerable when he's arrested, for example, is very delicate," he said.

The result is powerful both narratively and emotionally, as he reveals the intimate link between his personal life and events in Bilin -- his brothers' arrest, the death of one of his brothers under Israeli fire, his own arrest, his wife's reproaches, or the daily risks to film protests.

Risks illustrated by the title of the film itself: he needed five cameras, all of them destroyed during rallies or in clashes with the Israeli armed forces, to make the whole movie.

"For Emad, filming is a way to survive and to keep going. The minute we begin to do the film, I knew that it would be a film about persistence," said Davidi.

While there is lots of footage of the violence of the Israeli Defense Forces set against peaceful resistance by villagers, "we didn't want to create a picture just manipulated to some kind of ideology," he said.

"We had to confront all of the events that are part of a human life."

So for example Israeli soldiers are show evacuating Emad to an Israeli hospital. "In that sense, these soldiers saved Emad's life. If you ask Emad, he will tell you there is nothing personal (against) the soldiers.

"Some of them can be very violent, and some of them can be kind."

And he said: "I'm not optimistic or pessimistic. I don't have unrealistic expectations. I think there are many undercurrents in Israeli society that can surprise anyone, that are very important.

"This is how I feel. There are many people, emotionally, that are on the verge of changing completely their views. I am sure that there will be a window of opportunity for change.

"But what will happen during that window, that's the big question."


When it comes the matter of belligerent occupation, there are three key international arbiters that determine the legal reality in such matters....

"On some matters there are arbiters authorized to distinguish between opinions and established legal and political facts. When it comes the matter of belligerent occupation, there are three key international arbiters that determine the legal reality in such matters: the UN Security Council, the United Nations more broadly, and the consensus of the international community, all in that order of relevance." Hussein Ibish

We do not want theories, we want practical solutions...

"We want to help everyone. We do not want theories, we want practical solutions, our people need social and economic security and we are working hard to get rid of the occupation and everyone should help us to obtain our goal" Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad

To Build A State

(AP) - A Palestinian activist holds up a banner reading 'No to negotiations`' during a protest against the against peace talks with Israel n the West Bank city of Ramallah Saturday, Jan. 21

People hold Palestinian flags and a placard during a demonstration against the peace negotiation talks between Palestinians and Israeli in front of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's office in Ramallah, January 21, 2012. REUTERS/ Mohamad Torokman (WEST BANK - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)

To Build A State

How do you build a state
when some of your supposed supporters
(thanks to many an energetic academic
getting speaking fees and book tours and applause
on all sides of every argument)
have been trained to undermine
serious state building efforts
at every turn...

Right, left and center
Jobs jobs jobs some paid some not...

How do you build a state
when information overload
buries basic facts
blurs basic trends
buoys bad arguments...

Right, left and center...

How do you fight poisonous pervasive propaganda
in a globally connected world where jobs can easily be lost
for speaking out and careers are sidelined
and wiser people learn
to simply drift gently politely away
seeking citizenship elsewhere...

How do you dismantle institutionalized bigotry
and an oppressive military occupation
when your own supposed supporters are lured into endorsing
and ists and angsts which foolishly arm religion
with tax payers' money and pestilent weaponry...

Missiles and bombs and bullets aimed
at instigating endless battles and bickerings...

How do you stop the day by day by day
by day disenfranchisement- impoverishment
home demolitions- evictions- rejections- nihilist rage
and ongoing decimations and insults now joined by
the apparent self destruction of a nation state
known as Palestine.

How do you stand strong- firm
for justice and peace
for Palestine...

Honest and noble
for Palestine...

Dignified and realistic
for Palestine...

Alive and aware- for Palestine
and modern maps.

poem copyright ©2012 Anne Selden Annab

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Report: EU delegates say PLO should return to Jerusalem

Report: EU delegates say PLO should return to Jerusalem

TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- A report by European Union delegates has called for the re-development of PLO institutions in Jerusalem, stressing that Israeli polices are undermining the two state solution.

"Without Jerusalem as the future capital of two states, a sustainable peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians will not be possible," a copy of the EU report obtained by Haaretz on Wednesday said.

The report states that Israeli policies in East Jerusalem contradict its stated commitment to the two state solution. It adds that "attempts to emphasize the Jewish identity of the city [...] threaten its religious diversity and provide fuel to those who want to further radicalize the conflict."

Several recommendations were put forward by the report, Haaretz said. The measures included information sharing on violent settlers in East Jerusalem to assess whether they can enter EU member states, the development of a PLO presence in Jerusalem, EU legislation to prevent investment in support of settlement activity, and that EU delegates do not meet Israeli officials in their East Jerusalem offices.

In August 2011, the EU released a statement condemning a decision by Israel to extend the closure of the Orient House and Chamber of Commerce in East Jerusalem.

"These institutions have now been closed for ten years. The EU firmly believes that these institutions should be allowed to re-open and resume their operations as focal points for Palestinians in East Jerusalem, as required under the Roadmap," the statement said.

Orient House had served as the PLO's unofficial headquarters in Jerusalem before being seized by Israeli forces in 2001.

The property belongs to the Husseinis, a prominent and well known Palestinian Jerusalemite family.

ABDULLAH BIN HUSSEIN: The Palestinians and the Arab Spring- The Palestinian right to statehood remains the Arab people's foremost cause.

By ABDULLAH BIN HUSSEIN [King Abdullah II of Jordan]

A year has passed since the Arab Spring began to change our region, showing the determination of Arab men and women, especially youth. But a key issue remains unresolved: peace between Palestinians and Israelis. This month, in Amman, the parties sat across the negotiating table for the first time in 16 months. What message will the United States now send to them and to the people of the region?

I've heard it said that with all the regional change and uncertainty, there's no point in restarting talks right now. This "wait-and-see" argument joins a long line of false excuses for why the parties can't get negotiating. A changing region doesn't preclude a settlement, it demands one. It is now, not tomorrow, that a settlement can show that political processes of negotiation and agreement can deliver what people want. It is now, not next year, that young people, Arab and otherwise, need to see the U.S., Europe and the rest of the democratic world mean what they say about justice for all.

Make no mistake about it: The Palestinian right to statehood and their cry for justice and a homeland free of occupation remain the Arab people's foremost cause. In Jordan, the "final-status" issues—including borders, refugees, security and Jerusalem—are at the heart of our priorities. This means making real the promise of a viable, independent, sovereign Palestinian state, as part of a two-state agreement that resolves all final-status issues and guarantees security for Israel....READ MORE

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

PWA chief: World must act on Israel's water apartheid
PWA chief: World must act on Israel's water apartheid
A boy fills buckets with drinking water at the United Nations Relief and Works
Agency in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. (MaanImages/Hatem Omar, File)

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The head of the Palestinian Water Authority on Tuesday said the international community must act on Israel's "apartheid" water policy in the West Bank.

In January, the French parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee issued a report which found that Israel's water policy constituted "a weapon serving the new apartheid." It noted that Jewish settlers used more than five times as much water as Palestinians and were given priority during droughts.

PWA chief Shaddad Attili said the World Bank, the UN and other international organizations had issued similar reports on Israel's denial of Palestinian water rights.

Growing awareness must be translated into international pressure on Israel to end its water apartheid, Attili said in a statement.

"Israel controls all the water resources in the occupied West Bank. It exploits these resources for near exclusive Israeli use, allocating a mere fraction of the available water supply to Palestinians. While Israelis enjoy some of the highest water consumption rates in the world, Palestinians continue to face a series of crippling water shortages artificially engineered by Israel as a matter of policy," Attili said.

The official added that Israel used water to target vulnerable Palestinian communities.

"This includes its systematic demolition of Palestinian rainwater harvesting cisterns and wells used as a means to forcibly displace Palestinian communities who depend on them for their basic water needs. The number of demolitions continues to increase, with at least 25 Palestinian wells and 32 Palestinian cisterns demolished in 2011 alone.”

Negotiations to resolve the allocation of water have failed, he said, adding that the Joint Water Committee established in the Oslo Accords effectively gave Israel veto power over all Palestinian water projects.

Water is one of the six final-status issues to be resolved in a peace agreement, alongside settlements, refugees, borders, security and Jerusalem.

"Without water, and without ensuring Palestinian water rights, there can be no viable or sovereign Palestinian state," Attili warned.

Supporting Kairos Palestine: A Moment of Truth

October 5, 2011
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ in Palestine,

We in Mennonite Church USA have received your statement “Kairos Palestine: A Moment of Truth.” Though it has been nearly two years since you made this appeal the urgency of your situation remains and we feel compelled to respond even at this late date.

For more than sixty-five years, Mennonites have lived, studied and ministered in Palestine and Israel. Some of us have developed deep friendships and bonds of faith with brothers and sisters there. Our faith has been challenged and nurtured by you.

We open our hearts when we again hear of the suffering you experience in an occupied land as homes are taken from you, families and communities are separated by walls and checkpoints, and countless large and small indignities and humiliations are visited upon you each day.

We are challenged and inspired by the way you cling to hope and love, even in a situation you describe as a dead-end tragedy with no room for positive expectation. We are moved by the way you maintain hope because it comes from God. We are humbled and grateful for the way, even in your situation, you trust in the power of love as modeled and inspired by Jesus Christ. We are deeply moved by your testimony that even in the midst of cruel circumstances, you bear the strength of love rather than that of revenge. We are inspired by your continued vision that the only way forward is for Palestinians and Israelis to see the face of God in each other.

We hear in your call the appeal of Christ to us. Therefore, we welcome your invitation to come and see your reality. We commit ourselves to promote and expand opportunities for our leaders and members to visit you and learn firsthand about your suffering. We pray God will continue to open our ears and soften our hearts.

We also seek to study scripture together within our own church and with you, that we may be released from the grip of unjust ideology and may grasp more fully what God desires for your part of the world and for all of us. Further, we will continue to wrestle with the way our lives are enmeshed in the policies and implementation of occupation through our economic practices and seek to turn from them.

In the Kairos document, you again remind us that the way of the cross binds together great love for every person and courageous resistance to injustice and sin. We pray that as we journey together we will grow in our faithfulness to the one who leads the way and whom we proclaim as Lord and Savior.

In the peace of Christ,

Ervin Stutzman
Executive Director, Mennonite Church USA


Letter I sent to my elected leaders objecting to the upcoming legislation regarding internet 'anti-piracy'

Wikipedia goes dark for 24 hours to protest web piracy bills

Call your elected officials.

Tell them you are their constituent, and you oppose SOPA and PIPA.


SOPA and PIPA put the burden on website owners to police user-contributed material and call for the unnecessary blocking of entire sites. Small sites won't have sufficient resources to defend themselves. Big media companies may seek to cut off funding sources for their foreign competitors, even if copyright isn't being infringed. Foreign sites will be blacklisted, which means they won't show up in major search engines. SOPA and PIPA build a framework for future restrictions and suppression.

In a world in which politicians regulate the Internet based on the influence of big money, Wikipedia — and sites like it — cannot survive.

Congress says it's trying to protect the rights of copyright owners, but the "cure" that SOPA and PIPA represent is worse than the disease. SOPA and PIPA are not the answer: they will fatally damage the free and open Internet.

Dear Rep. Todd Platts [R, PA-19], Sen. Patrick Toomey [R, PA], Sen. Robert Casey [D, PA]

Today I went to Wikipedia to research red deer and up popped the warning about upcoming legislation that might have a huge impact on my own ability to practice free speech- and my ability to blog photos and news and opinion and insights and inspirations that might actually help end the Israel/Palestine conflict... I believe that the anti-piracy act will too easily empower all the wrong people and seriously harm the average citizen's ability to research, keep accurate public notes as well as make intelligent contributions to the global conversation on important topics such as the Israel/Palestine conflict or ecology or even tourism and economics.

My own blogs and efforts are certainly not as professional or popular or entertaining as many of the multiple Jewish activists and writers who contribute to popular newspapers, blogs and list serves, exploring every aspect and perspective of the Israel/Palestine conflict, deftly arguing every side plus some... but I like to think my careful notes and my own pro-America/pro-Palestine contributions to the conversation help steer at least some free thinkers, inquiring minds and compassionate strangers away from the rampant hate mongering and anti-American rhetoric and the ugliness that tends to dominate non-mainstream forums focused in on using Palestine as a fulcrum for their rage.

I fear that anti-piracy laws can too easily be misused by well funded but misguided organizations and individuals who seek to harass targeted individuals in order to silence ideas and facts they want to oppress and hide, steering the general public away from seeing larger truths and trends.

I am a lowly unpaid blogger, poet & American homemaker who very much believes in free speech, the marketplace of ideas and the vital importance of paper trails made possible by the internet... I also believe in Palestine and the importance of supporting serious state building efforts. Already many very rational and well informed people here in America are reluctant to speak out publicly about the importance of ending the Israel/Palestine conflict with a just and lasting peace based on international law and respect for basic human rights because they have been harassed into silence by religious extremists and various well funded organizations that actually thrive on the continuation of the conflict. Please don't arm petty tyrants and big business with yet another weapon to use against vulnerable and conscientious individuals and NGOs.

Anne Selden Annab

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

Help Build A Golden Rule Peace for the Holy Land

Google Search 2010

Red deer roam...

Red deer roam on a foggy day in the Golan Heights, near Israel's border with Syria January 17, 2012. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war. Despite the fact that the two countries have never made peace, the Golan frontier has largely been quiet. A U.N. force patrols the demarcation line between the Golan Heights and Syria. REUTERS/Nir Elias (ISRAEL - Tags: ENVIRONMENT ANIMALS)

Red deer stand in a rain puddle on a foggy day in the Golan Heights, January 17, 2012 REUTERS/Nir Elias (ISRAEL - Tags: ENVIRONMENT ANIMALS SOCIETY)

Spotted deer roam on a foggy day in the Golan Heights, January 17, 2012. REUTERS/Nir Elias (ISRAEL - Tags: ENVIRONMENT ANIMALS)

A spotted deer drinks water from a puddle on a foggy day in the Golan Heights, January 17, 2012. REUTERS/Nir Elias (ISRAEL - Tags: ENVIRONMENT ANIMALS SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

EU should consider legislation to prevent or discourage companies and organisations in member states doing business which supports Israeli settlements

"Successive Israeli governments have pursued a policy of transferring Jewish population into the oPt [occupied Palestinian territory] in violation of the fourth Geneva convention and international humanitarian law," the report says. The EU says East Jerusalem is occupied territory and was illegally annexed.

It says Israel is "actively perpetuating its annexation by systematically undermining the Palestinian presence in the city" by imposing planning regulations in Palestinian neighbourhoods, house demolitions, evictions, archaeological activity in the "historic basin" around the Old City, the revoking of Palestinian residency rights, separate bypass roads for Israelis and Palestinians and the construction of the separation barrier.

The report says Israel uses different methods to gain control of Palestinian land and property, including the recent designation of privately-owned land for a new national park at Mount Scopus. The plan would halt any expansion of Palestinian neighbourhoods.

EU report calls for action over Israeli settlement growth

Diplomats in Jerusalem say states should consider law to discourage 'financial transactions in support of settlement activity'

A Palestinian shepherd near the Israeli settlement of Har Homa. Photograph: Abir Sultan/EPA

• Nick Clegg, the UK deputy prime minister, describing settlement construction as "an act of deliberate vandalism" that was doing "immense damage" to the prospects for peace. "The continued existence of illegal settlements risks making facts on the ground such that a two-state solution becomes unviable," he said.

• A French parliamentary report accusing Israel of "apartheid" policies in its allocation of water resources between Israeli settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank.

• An internal EU report strongly criticising Israeli policies in Area C, the 62% of the West Bank under full Israeli control, saying they were jeopardising prospects for a two-state solution....READ MORE

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"UNRWA’s largest bilateral donor, the United States recognizes the critical role the Agency plays in assisting Palestinian refugees... "

United States contributes $55 million to UNRWA

3 January 2012
Washington, DC

The United States is pleased to announce an initial 2012 contribution of $55 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

The $55 million contribution will provide critical health, education, and humanitarian services to five million Palestinian refugees in the region. Of this contribution, $29 million will support UNRWA’s core services in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank, and Gaza; $24 million will support UNRWA’s emergency programs in the West Bank and Gaza; and two million will support UNRWA’s ongoing relief assistance in Lebanon for those displaced during the 2007 conflict in Nahr al Bared refugee camp.

As UNRWA’s largest bilateral donor, the United States recognizes the critical role the Agency plays in assisting Palestinian refugees and maintaining regional stability and calls upon other donors to enhance their support for UNRWA. The United States encourages UNRWA to maintain the neutrality of its operations, expand its donor base, enhance its strategic communications, and maximize programmatic efficiencies in order to better serve refugees.

In 2011, the United States provided just under $250 million to UNRWA, including $146 million to its General Fund, $75 million to its West Bank/Gaza emergency programs, $15 million to emergency programs in Lebanon, and $10 million for the construction of five new schools in Gaza, which will serve an estimated 10,000 schoolchildren.

Fida Jiryis: Reality versus Image A Return to Galilee

Reality versus Image A Return to Galilee
By Fida Jiryis

As a Palestinian who was born and grew up in the diaspora, I always had a powerful notion of Palestine in my mind and emotions, yet it had no physical association. It was difficult to imagine a place I’d never seen but only heard of. The Oslo Accords in 1993 changed all that. A year later, I visited Palestine for the first time and, in June 1995, relocated with my family to my parents’ native village of Fassouta, in Galilee.

We were the exception and not the rule: out of the entire Oslo process, fewer than fifty people were allowed to return to inside Israel, and they were all Palestinians who had been issued Israeli IDs when the state was formed, and subsequently left the country to join the resistance movement abroad. When they returned after the Oslo Accords, very few of their families came with them, so my case of coming to Israel for the first time in my early twenties was unique.

Few words can express the magnitude of emotions of someone who grew up a Palestinian then found herself, overnight, an “Israeli citizen” who had to learn Hebrew, find a job, and integrate into Israeli society. To call this social schizophrenia would be an understatement.

I floundered in this new, alien, hostile environment, wondering where I was, wondering, even more, how I could survive. To be face to face with those who had taken our country, to have to learn their language, to have to seek work in their institutions - and to have to do all this while somehow pretending that everything was fine and that I was just going through the process of a normal relocation - was too much. Again, Palestine had only been a fleeting concept to me before. I knew it was under occupation; I knew my village had become a part of “Israel,” but what that meant in concrete terms was, at best, cloudy and elusive until I experienced it.

A close friend of mine felt the same when she returned with her family to Ramallah and shortly after, went to visit Jaffa, her father’s hometown. My friend was ecstatic: after a childhood and adolescence spent in one refugee domicile after another, she was finally making the return home. Her visit to Jaffa, though, hit her like a bullet in the stomach. With her own eyes, she was witnessing the foreign occupation of her city, her father’s birthright and her emotional anchor for so many years - the peg upon which she, like so many millions of other Palestinians, had hung her dreams and identity to maintain her sense of belonging and homeland when the rest of the world was just one large diaspora.

It is heart-breaking to dream of a place for so long and then to find a reality that is so different, so wretchedly painful, that one almost wishes it had stayed as a dream....READ MORE

Monday, January 16, 2012

James J. Zogby : Arab opinion matters

"Our polls show that the Arab public still supports the Arab League’s peace initiative for a two-state solution, but a majority of Arabs in every country no longer believes that Israel has any interest in making peace." James J. Zogby

Arab opinion matters

Ziad Asali: Arabs deserve a party of the citizen

"The Arab world is heterogeneous, diverse, multiethnic and multi-religious. This often both is seen and serves as a source of division and tensions. This diversity can be turned into a source of political, cultural and economic strength if Arab societies empower and protect the rights and responsibilities of individual citizens, including ethnic and religious minorities and women." Ziad Asali

Sunday, January 15, 2012

AFP: UN chief urges end to Israeli occupation

Israeli soldiers stand guard during a weekly demonstration against the construction and expansion of Israeli settlements, in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah, on January 13. UN chief Ban Ki-moon has called for an end to Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, saying the illegal building of settlements works against a two-state solution. (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)

UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Sunday called for an end to Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, saying the illegal building of settlements worked against a two-state solution.

"The Israeli occupation of Arab and Palestinian territories must end. So must violence against civilians," Ban said in a keynote address at a conference in Beirut on democracy in the Arab world.

"Settlements, new and old, are illegal. They work against the emergence of a viable Palestinian state," said the UN secretary general.

"A two-state solution is long overdue. The status quo offers only the guarantee of future conflict."

Ban arrived in Beirut on Friday to attend a conference entitled "Reform and Transitions to Democracy" organised by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)....READ MORE