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Saturday, March 24, 2012

U.S. lawmakers release $88.6 million in aid to Palestinians

A Palestinian holds a flag during a rally calling on Egyptian authorities to supply the Gaza Strip with fuel and electricity in Khan Younis on the southern Gaza Strip March 23, 2012. REUTERS/ Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/us-lawmakers-release-886-mln-in-aid-to-palestinians/

23 Mar 2012 23:11
Source: reuters // Reuters
By Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON, March 23 (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers on Friday released $88.6 million in development aid for the Palestinians that they had held up since last summer, a move that should help ease a fiscal crisis in the aid-dependent Palestinian economy.

Representative Kay Granger announced she was ready for the entire $147 million in U.S. assistance that had been frozen since August to go to the Palestinians.

But the other Republican who had a "hold" on the funds, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, limited the release to $88.6 million, saying in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that was all she was willing to free up.

Ros-Lehtinen also said she was releasing the money with the understanding it would not be used for "assistance and recovery in Hamas-controlled Gaza," West Bank road construction, or trade and tourism promotion in the Palestinian territories. The United States considers Hamas to be a terrorist organization.

The letter did not say how the freed-up funds would be spent, but Ros-Lehtinen suggested earlier this week she would be willing to approve money targeted for water programs, health and food for the Palestinians....READ MORE

Friday, March 23, 2012

Land Day march rerouted, will not reach border with Israel

A banner promoting Land Day on a wall in the southern city of Sidon, Lebanon, Tuesday, March 20, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

BEIRUT: Organizers of the Land Day march by Palestinians decided Friday to change the route of the procession so that it concludes at Beaufort Castle, east of Nabatiyeh instead of the Israeli-Lebanese border, as was originally announced.

Sources close to Global March to Jerusalem said that participants in the 26th annual Land Day protest, scheduled for March 30, will march from Palestinian refugee camps, converge and head toward Beaufort Castle, the Crusader fortress that served as a military base of operations for Israeli troops during Israel's occupation of south Lebanon.

The sources attributed the change of route to the organizers' desire to avoid any violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which aims to prevent Lebanese-Israeli friction in border areas.

They added that organizers do not want to strain their relationship with the Lebanese army or the U.N. Interim Forces in Lebanon.

The sources also made clear that they wanted to spare Palestinian lives. Israeli forces shot dead 10 Palestinians and wounded 112 others in May 2011, when part of a large group of Palestinians protesting on the occasion of the 63rd anniversary of their expulsion from their homeland approached the barbed wire near the border town of Maroun al-Ras, pelting Israeli soldiers with stones and trying to climb the barbed wire and hang Palestinian flags.

Palestinian National Authority... Equitable Development: Moving Forward Despite the Occupation

Welcome to Palestine,
the cradle of civilization, where West meets East, North meets South, and where Judaism, Christianity, and Islam took form.

The Palestinian National Authority has published on Wednesday, March 21, 'Equitable Development: Moving Forward Despite the Occupation', its Position Paper to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee in Brussels. [ http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/89B8C220018A07C7852579C7004FC9A9 ]

This paper sets out the policies the government will take in the latest stage of our journey towards our own free country, an independent Palestine. While Israel, through its demolition and annexation policies on the ground, is destroying the possibility of reaching a two state solution, the paper calls on the international community to step up their efforts in Area C and East Jerusalem, if they are still committed to the idea of the two state solution.

The paper declares: 'We cannot stand still. To do so would be tantamount to giving up on our quest for the state of Palestine.'

It focuses on the PA's determination to achieve '.... the rapid economic and social development of an independent Palestine, with particular emphasis on geographical areas that lie outside the so-called 'Area A' and 'Area B' in the West Bank.' This program will be undertaken, despite the Israeli army's program of demolition of homes, schools and other structures.

'We must venture against these risks in order to maintain momentum towards independence,' the paper said.

'We strongly encourage our international partners to join in this endeavor, despite the risks, and employ all tools at their disposal at the diplomatic level to enable development beyond 'Area A' and 'Area B', including the sustainable reconstruction of Gaza and rebuilding of Palestinian institutions and infrastructure in East Jerusalem.'

The Prime Minister, Dr. Salam Fayyad, sayid in his foreword: 'We are now ready for sovereignty over the state of Palestine on the June 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. As we move beyond the 13th Government Program, we are mindful of the need to continue our momentum towards sovereignty and to keep the prospects for the two-state solution alive.'

Following the World Bank's report to the AHLC, which emphasizes that the Palestinian private sector is stifled by Israeli restrictions, the PA outlines the steps it will take to 'foster the economic viability and fiscal self-reliance of an independent Palestine, with a particular focus on access and freedom of movement throughout the occupied Palestinian territory and between Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.'

The Palestinian people 'cannot simply wait for the conclusion of peace negotiations to reverse this de-development and destruction of livelihoods' by the Israeli occupation. The government will press for the implementation of the National Early Recovery Plan for Gaza and the Strategic Multi Sector Development Plan for East Jerusalem, and for a territorial link that enables free movement between Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

'This will not be by any means a straightforward task in the face of an occupation regime which actively promotes expansion and economic growth of settlements, whilst demolishing Palestinian homes and public infrastructure,' says the PA's position paper.

It proposes 'substantial investment now, particularly in key sectors such as agriculture and tourism which offer the promise of early-stage economic growth and job creation, are an essential element of preparation for statehood....Jerusalem and 'Area C' are particularly rich in historical and cultural heritage sites and a destination for niche tourism, including ecological, health, adventure and religious tourism.

Investment now in the restoration and development of specific sites, including in our rightful share in the Dead Sea, coupled with the development of regionally-connected transportation infrastructure in 'Area C', could help bring in many more millions of tourists each year.'

The PA commits itself to continue to work for good governance, public service delivery, financial management, improvements in justice and human rights, anti-corruption measures and economic self-reliance.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My letter to the LATimes RE Dealing with Iran isn't easy letters

Dealing with Iran isn't easy
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/letters/la-le-0322-thursday-20120322,0,4296601.story

Dear Editor,

One letter writer thinks that "Israel should annex the West Bank now, give any Arab resident who does not want to pledge allegiance to Israel rights similar to a U.S. green card, and tell the United Nations that the world's only permanent "refugees" are its problem to solve" while another letter writer hypes the equally bizarre notion that Israel is not a "religiously defined nation."

Reality check: There is no civil marriage in Israel; the institution is controlled by a religious authority, the Rabbinate. Furthermore Jewish "religious scholars" and multiple Jews-only settlement projects in the illegally occupied territories are generously subsidized by Israel, essentially forcing taxpayers here and there to fund Israel's "Jewishness" as well as Israel's ongoing impoverishment and displacement of the indigenous non-Jewish Palestinians.

Making a bad situation even worse, Islamists undermine Palestinian efforts to build support for a sovereign peaceful Palestine and a fair and just negotiated settlement to once and for all end the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Religion really should be a private personal matter, not a state funded project.

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Israel 'turning blind eye' to West Bank settlers' attacks on Palestinians

EU reports say farmers are bearing the brunt of intimidation in systematic and expanding campaign of violence
A Palestinian tries to put out a fire started by settlers on the West Bank, where confidential EU reports say violence against Palestinians is increasing. Photograph: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

[Palestinian] Children are stoned going to school and Palestinian shepherds and farmers are common targets for [Israeli] violence.

[AS ALWAYS PLEASE GO TO THE LINK TO READ GOOD ARTICLES IN FULL: HELP SHAPE ALGORITHMS (and conversations) THAT EMPOWER DECENCY, DIGNITY, JUSTICE & PEACE... and hopefully Palestine]
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/21/israel-settlers-violence-palestinians-europe
Ian Traynor in Brussels
Wednesday 21 March 2012

Jewish settlers in the West Bank are conducting a systematic and expanding campaign of violence against Palestinian farmers, families and children with the Israeli authorities turning a blind eye, according to confidential reports from senior European Union officials.

In two reports to Brussels from EU heads of mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah, obtained by the Guardian, the officials found that settler violence against Palestinians has more than tripled in three years to total hundreds of incidents.

"Acts of settler violence are becoming a serious concern for the Israeli state which has so far failed to effectively protect the Palestinian population," says the report sent to EU ambassadors in Brussels last month.

The report notes 411 attacks by settlers last year resulting in Palestinian casualties and damage to property, against 132 attacks in 2009.

The campaign of intimidation is especially targeted at Palestinian farmers and their livelihood, the reports found, noting that settlers damaged or destroyed Palestinian olive groves en masse.

Around 10,000 trees were destroyed last year. But last autumn's olive harvest season was quieter than previous years.

The Israeli authorities are accused of structuring their security operations to minimise the cost to the settlers of the campaign of harassment, intimidation and violence.

"Over 90% of monitored complaints regarding settler violence filed by Palestinians with the Israeli police in recent years have been closed without indictment," the February report says.

A previous and more detailed analysis from April last year described the increasing settler violence as "an alarming phenomenon".

"Discriminatory protections and privileges for settlers compound these abuses and create an environment in which settlers can act with apparent impunity."

The Israeli authorities' failure to resolve 92% of 600 reported incidents by April last year effectively encouraged the settlers to step up the violence, the report argued, adding that the perception had been created that "settler violence enjoys the tacit support of the state of Israel"...READ MORE

Stop using Palestinian cause to justify terror: PM

Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority Salam Fayyad speaks during a joint press conference at the EU headquarters in Brussels on March 19, 2012. Extremists must stop using the Palestinian cause to justify their acts of violence, Fayyad said on Wednesday after a deadly attack on a French Jewish school. (AFP Photo/Georges Gobet)

Extremists must stop using the Palestinian cause to justify their acts of violence, prime minister Salam Fayyad said on Wednesday after a deadly attack on a French Jewish school.

"It is time for these criminals to stop marketing their terrorist acts in the name of Palestine and to stop pretending to stand up for the rights of Palestinian children who only ask for a decent life," the Palestinian premier said in a statement.

His remarks came as French special forces in the southern city of Toulouse were locked in a tense stand-off with a self-declared Islamist militant of Algerian origin believed to have carried out Monday's attack.

He has told officials that he attacked the school and killed three Jewish children and a teacher to avenge Palestinian children killed in the conflict with Israel.

Speaking to reporters, Interior Minister Claude Gueant said the suspect had told police he wanted "to avenge Palestinian children and to attack the French army."

In Monday's attack, the gunman opened fire on a group of parents and children at Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse, killing a 30-year-old teacher and his two sons, aged four and five, as well as the seven-year-old daughter of the school principal.

Fayyad heaped condemnation on the attack.

"This terrorist crime is condemned in the strongest terms by the Palestinian people and their children," he said. "No Palestinian child can accept a crime that targets innocent people."

French investigators believe the suspect also killed three soldiers in two separate shootings in the same area last week.

The soldiers were French citizens of North African origin, while another who was critically wounded was black and from the French West Indies.

....Burials

What if in ten years time that place is called
Jesusville... with a cross on the national flag.
Would you still want to get on an airplane
jostling luggage and then elbows and knees
with legions of religious strangers on divine quests
to go 'home' far from where they were born
and raised.

Would you still want to bury your beloved there,
entirely disconnected from everyday walks
and rituals, everyday routines and comforts-
every day shops and cafes, everyday paths
and gardens... and grandparents... and prayers.

Far far away from where you can earn a living
and gain respect from peers and mentors...

Far too far for her favorite schoolmates
to notice and recall shared pleasures. Too far

to remember much of real life
and real friends.

Far too far for cherished memories to remain intact.

Too far to physically visit the graveside except,
except during random albeit meticulously planned,
punitively expensive and utterly exhausting "vacations"

Few shoes fit well and no suitcase can hold
all you might need. Too too far
and too many checkpoints
too many distractions
too much hassle
too little money
and too many other enticing destinations
for your heirs to ever place flowers there.

Time implants new meanings in every ancient symbol.
Changing minds and moods. Annually seasonal sand storms
of choking dust blast at the nooks and crannies and crevices
of all surfaces, over and over day after day randomly chipping
and rechiseling what ever has been written on stone...

Erasing her carefully chosen name
and all known connotations with accents
she never heard, odd words
she'll never know...
as your own warmth,
your dreams and desires
and your own youth and beauty
your own breathe
and being
drifts away
far far away



poem copyright ©2012 Anne Selden Annab

Excellent letter by Jesse Larner on the NYTimes/IHT website regarding Israel & democracy

ChloƩ Poizat

To the Editor:

Peter Beinart sees an absence of democracy in the occupied territories, and contrasts that with the situation in Israel proper. The contrast is an illusion.

Israeli law treats Jewish and non-Jewish citizens differently in important areas like the process of obtaining citizenship, state spending on education and infrastructure, who can live and build in East Jerusalem, and who is required to serve in the military. Israel is, after all, a Jewish state.

But such a state cannot be a democracy. Sooner or later, Israelis will have to choose between ethnic privilege or a state that recognizes the equality of all of its citizens before the law. As an American Jew, I hope that they will choose democracy.

JESSE LARNER
New York, March 19, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Engaging youth: Palestine refugees in a changing Middle East

March 2012

Jerusalem

By Chris Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson

One year after the start of a tumultuous twelve months in the Middle East, where have these momentous events left increasingly marginalised Palestine refugee youth? They will number over 1.5 million by 2020, so what should the international community do to engage this vital constituency for Middle East peace?

According to many predictions, a quarter of these will be unemployed -- which represents both an opportunity and also a risk for the region. But how should those risks be managed and the opportunities embraced?

Conference on Palestine refugee youth

" "We can't wait, we need to take the future in our own hands and to do so working together".

"We need to see the world and the world needs to see us because we are the same as other young people around the world, we have the same concerns, we have the same dreams".

"Even if I live in Gaza, which is a prison, I will continue to love and explain its beauty and the energy and hopes of all the young people around me".

"We don't complain, we can't complain – we need to spark hope and passion about Gaza and its community".

"Freedom will come through education and knowledge, the internet is our window on the world. We need to create curiosity and knowledge about our rights".

I argue that those quotes speak for themselves and we can't fail them. They do not look for excuses. We should not look for excuses either." Speech by Ashton on Palestine Refugees in the Changing Middle East

"Our goal, consistently spelt out over time, is supporting the creation of a Palestinian state that will not need to depend on donor support, will stand in its own right and will exist in peace and security side by side with all its neighbours. As PM Fayyad always tells me and we will talk about it at the AHLC meeting on Wednesday here in Brussels: Palestine should be given the opportunity to compete without help from donors. The talent is there, the will is there, what is needed is the opportunity and the right political decision." Baroness Catherine Ashton

Read about how UNRWA engages youth:

Monday, March 19, 2012

UNWRA kids fly kites to to commemorate the anniversary of a deadly earthquake and tsunami in Japan

In a message from Japan, Akihiko said, “it is really, really a wonderful festivity that you are flying 'kites of hope' . Amazing! I am sure that your kiting today will greatly encourage Japanese people living in the area stricken by disaster. Let's fly kites high up to the sky to let sorrows and fears turn to hope”.
Palestinian children fly kites to show their solidarity with the Japanese people
near a Japanese-funded housing project in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip,
March 18, 2012. The event was organized by the United Nations Relief and
Works Agency to mark the first anniversary of the March 11 earthquake and
tsunami that killed thousands and set off a nuclear crisis in Japan.
(Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

[AS ALWAYS PLEASE GO TO THE LINK TO READ GOOD ARTICLES IN FULL: HELP SHAPE ALGORITHMS (and conversations) THAT EMPOWER DECENCY, DIGNITY, JUSTICE & PEACE... and hopefully Palestine]
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=468981
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian refugee school children in Gaza gathered to fly kites on Sunday to commemorate the anniversary of a deadly earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the UN refugee agency said.

Around 1,000 children flew kites at a Japanese-funded health center in the southern Gaza town Khan Younis, UNRWA said in a press statement.

Japanese founder of the kite-flying commemoration Akihiko, which has been held in 23 locations in Japan, and 5 countries worldwide, said the Gaza event "will greatly encourage Japanese people living in the area stricken by disaster."

Director of UNRWA operations in Gaza, Christer Nordahl said, "It is typical of the children of Gaza who experience so much hardship to think of children suffering elsewhere in the world. It is a wonderful and creative symbolic act of solidarity."

The quake in March 2011 unleashed a 10-meter tsunami and risked a nuclear meltdown in Japan, leaving some 25,000 people dead or missing.

************************

Kites of Hope, Commemoration for the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami
One thousand children attending UNRWA schools in Gaza have flown kites in a symbolic show of support or “kizuna” the Japanese word for solidarity, with the children of Japan and victims of the earthquake and tsunami a year ago.

UNRWA delivers relief and social services to over a million refugees in Gaza. The Agency receives generous funding from the government and people of Japan, and since the devastating earthquake and tsunami and today, Japan has contributed US$ 23 million to UNRWA.

How you can help

Help UNWRA provide education, medical care, food and other essential relief services to Palestine refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Every donation counts

Israeli textbooks foster hate, says author

by Vita Bekker
Mar 19, 2012

TEL AVIV // One asserts that Israel's Palestinian citizens shun modernisation and are building houses illegally. Another alleges the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank steals water from Israel. And elsewhere, that Palestinians have been a "terrifying demographic problem" for Israel.

Such statements are part of mainstream schoolbooks in Israel that teach an "anti-Palestinian" approach in a bid to prepare Jewish children to be aggressive towards Palestinians once they serve in the army, according to a new book.

To be released this month in the UK, the book - Palestine in Israeli School Books: Ideology and Propaganda in Education - is the first to publicly provide evidence that Israeli schools have racist textbooks, said Nurit Peled-Elhanan, a professor at Jerusalem's Hebrew University who has researched dozens of Israeli schoolbooks published since the 1990s.

"I was looking for reasons of why nice Jewish boys turn into monsters when they join the army," said Ms Peled-Elhanan, in an interview at her home just outside Jerusalem.

"They never meet Palestinians face-to-face as children, so the textbooks are all they know."...READ MORE

Palestine’s Economy is in Trouble, But Why?

Israel is nothing if not audacious, but this last maneuver is even cheekier than most. On Wednesday, donor countries will meet in Brussels and the Israeli delegation will be armed with a 44-page paper penned by Israel’s foreign ministry, which basically says the Palestinians are just not ready for their own state.

Israel may be right. Palestinians are still heavily dependent on donor aid and have been subordinate to Israel’s economy since the latter’s occupation of the rest of Palestine in 1967. This part is true. We cannot stand economically on our own. Some of this may be our fault. Mismanagement, reports of corruption and the squander of public funds have resulted in holes in Palestinian budgetary management and have brought on the resentment and criticism of those in Palestine who monitor the ebbs and flows of the government’s coffers.

But mostly, the Palestinians are not the culprit for why Palestine’s economy has not yet been able to stand alone on its wobbly knees. And while donor aid has decreased given the international economic slump, the world is also not completely responsible for our dire financial state. Rather, it is Israel, now generously pointing out why we are so unready for statehood, which is holding us back from just that.

Israel’s goal for pointing this out is, of course, political. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will be there; so will Quartet envoy Tony Blair. Israel is looking to convince these bigwigs in the European donor and political community that the Palestinians must stop their pursuit of statehood at the United Nations because, as evidenced, they just can’t cut it.

"The fiscal crisis is especially acute because much of the West Bank economy still depends on the public sector and on construction projects, both still heavily financed by foreign aid. It also serves as an alarming warning sign for the stability of the Palestinian economy," the report says. "The current fiscal situation raises doubts about whether the PA will be able to reduce its dependency on foreign aid in the coming years," suggesting that this, coupled with the PA’s financial mismanagement pointed to their failure to “meet the requirements of a well-functioning state.”

What Israel failed to note is its determination to keep the Palestinians in its economic grips and the multitude of ways it has achieved this. Whether we are talking about the restrictions on the import and export of goods, the number of workers Israel employs in its own factories and businesses or the withholding of tax revenues owed to the PA, Israel has always ensured a way of keeping Palestinian economic independence at bay.

This is not to say that Palestinians have not tried their best to break free of this. Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad openly declared that he had devised a plan to build up Palestine’s institutions and infrastructure in preparation for the declaration of a Palestinian state. But even Fayyad realizes that without a political solution that addresses the core issues hindering this very state, no real independence can ever happen. Take the Gaza Strip. No matter who is in power, or how many reports come out about Gaza’s beleaguered state, Israel always maintains control over what is prevented or allowed in or out of the Strip, from cement to cilantro. Or take the tax revenues Israel withholds at whim. When Israel wants to punish the Palestinians, it knows where it will hurt the most. Withholding millions of shekels means public servants cannot be paid; teachers and government employees remain without salaries and the PA is hit with yet another financial crisis.

Today, the situation is dire from all aspects. The land, which Palestinians have traditionally depended on for livelihood, is being pulled from beneath their feet with each passing day. Israeli settlements, bypass roads and the separation wall continue to grow and grab more land, which has forced Palestinians into finding other means of survival. And because of the agreements signed between both sides, the Palestinian Authority can only survive with the helping hand of the donor community, which is to say the least, unfortunate.

In the end however, it is not a case of economics. This is only a major byproduct of the fundamental ill, which is Israel’s occupation of Palestine and its control over just about every facet of Palestinian life. We can all understand why Israel’s foreign ministry drafted the report; it is not out of concern for the Palestinians. It is part of Israel’s plan to convince the world that a Palestinian state is not a good idea. What it has not said is that Israel planned this all along, that it has not adhered even to the agreements it signed itself, including the Paris Protocol and that it was never interested in an independent Palestinian economy. It has never been interested in Palestinian independence at all.

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

What is Israel?

"Evidently the woman's DNA tipped the balance in her favor. In 2010 a local rabbi granted her a marriage license as a bona fide Jew."

"There is no civil marriage in Israel; the institution is controlled by a religious authority, the Rabbinate. According to halacha, ancient Jewish law, either the applicant's mother must be demonstrably Jewish (the blood connection) or else the applicant must have converted to Judaism in a verifiably Orthodox ceremony (the cultural test). If unable to satisfy the authorities, immigrants may get married outside the country, and the state will accept the union. Secular Israelis who resent the strictures go abroad by choice, nearby Cyprus often providing their version of the Las Vegas wedding.

Then the panel and the audience were asked to comment on a case study, a real one. An Eastern European woman who was a 12-year resident of Israel had documents affirming that her paternal grandfather was Jewish, but no proof of Jewishness on her mother's side save her own testimony. To bolster her claim for a marriage license, the woman went to a commercial gene-testing service and had her DNA analyzed, specifically her mitochondrial DNA. This part of the human genome is inherited strictly through the mother's line. She turned out to carry a genetic marker associated with Ashkenazi Jews, 1.5 million of whom carry it. Scientists had traced the marker to what they believe to be a founding lineage of the Jewish people in the Middle East. Should the religious authority take the biological evidence into account? Should the rabbi in charge give the woman a pass on the requirement for conversion?

The room crackled with people wishing to speak. The American geneticist Mary-Claire King, known for her research on heritable breast cancer, said that she hesitated to admit the mitochondrial marker as legal proof of ancestry. For one thing, she observed, not everyone carrying that marker was Jewish. It can be found in some Palestinians..."

Defining Jews, Defining a Nation: Can Genetics Save Israel?

How studies of Jewish DNA could help answer a question that's at the heart of some of Israeli society's biggest problems: Who counts as a Jew?

Israeli Settlers taking over Palestinian springs: UN report

Israeli settlers shovel the ground to divert water from a spring in the Palestinian West Bank village of Karawa Bani Hassan in January 2010. Israeli settlers have taken over dozens of natural springs in the West Bank, limiting or preventing Palestinian access to much-needed water sources, according to a United Nations report. (AFP Photo/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

[AS ALWAYS PLEASE GO TO THE LINK TO READ GOOD ARTICLES IN FULL: HELP SHAPE ALGORITHMS (and conversations) THAT EMPOWER DECENCY, DIGNITY, JUSTICE & PEACE... and hopefully Palestine]
http://news.yahoo.com/settlers-taking-over-palestinian-springs-un-report-112612919.html

Israeli settlers have taken over dozens of natural springs in the West Bank, limiting or preventing Palestinian access to much-needed water sources, a United Nations report said on Monday.

The report produced by the UN's Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said at least 30 springs across the West Bank had been completely taken over by settlers, with Palestinians unable to access them at all.

In most instances, the report said, "Palestinians have been deterred from accessing the springs by acts of intimidation, threats and violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers."

The report said an OCHA survey carried out in 2011 identified a total of 56 springs that were under total or partial control of Israeli settlers, most in the part of the West Bank known as Area C, which is under full Israeli civil and military control.

"Springs have remained the single largest water source for irrigation and a significant source for watering livestock" for Palestinians, OCHA said, noting that some springs also provide water for domestic consumption.

"The loss of access to springs and adjacent land reduced the income of affected farmers, who either stop cultivating the land or face a reduction in the productivity of their crops."

The report said in most cases where settlers were trying to limit Palestinian access to springs, they have undertaken to turn the area into a tourist attraction, constructing pools, picnic areas and signs carrying a Hebrew name for the spring....READ MORE

My letter to the New York Times RE "To Save Israel, Boycott the Settlements"

To Save Israel, Boycott the Settlements by Peter Beinhart
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/19/opinion/to-save-israel-boycott-the-settlements.html?_r=1

Dear Editor,

"The one-state idea may invite the Israeli government to embark even more vigorously on policies that drive away the Palestinians — ethnic cleansing, in so many words — to preserve the “Jewishness” of Israel." Jordan Times Editorial March 18 2012 Solution Needed http://jordantimes.com/solution-needed

Boycotting Israel's burgeoning Jews-only settlement projects in the illegally occupied territories and many other frankly shocking instances of Israel's state subsidized institutionalized bigotry and injustice is a very good idea... BUT it is not such a good idea to do it in order to bolster the supposed "Jewishness" of Israel.

Religion should be a personal private matter, not a tax payer funded preference- and a refugee's natural and legal right to return needs to be respected on a universal level, not limited to people of one religious back ground or another.

A fully secular two state solution to once and for all end the Israel-Palestine conflict really is the best way and the only way to build a lasting peace, a durable and legendary peace based on full respect for universal basic human rights, the rule of fair and just laws, accountability, true equality and real democracy for all the people of the Holy Land.

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab


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

The Arab Peace Initiative requests Israel to reconsider its policies and declare that a just peace is its strategic option as well

"This [Israeli] occupation humiliates us, destroys our economy, causes demographic changes and deprives millions of the freedom of movement and their right to decent lives, in addition to the confiscation of land... These are the main ways Christians are persecuted in Palestine." Faysal Hijazeen
The Golden Rule... Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Growing Gardens for Palestine

a personal blog

...To Return

A Spider Silk Cape... a series of three poems by Anne Selden Annab in Growing Gardens for Palestine

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The one-state idea may invite the Israeli government to embark even more vigorously on policies that drive away the Palestinians — ethnic cleansing...

[AS ALWAYS PLEASE GO TO THE LINK TO READ GOOD ARTICLES IN FULL: HELP SHAPE ALGORITHMS (and conversations) THAT EMPOWER DECENCY, DIGNITY, JUSTICE & PEACE... and hopefully Palestine]
http://jordantimes.com/solution-needed

Editorial

Solution needed

Mar 18,2012 | 22:54

Former Palestinian prime minister Ahmad Qureia is suggesting that the Palestinians and Israelis should now abandon the two-state solution in favour of one state.

Qureia believes this is right in view of the Israeli actions in the West Bank, particularly the unrelenting settlement activities that have rendered the two-state solution devoid of any meaning.

The decades-long Israeli colonisation of the Palestinian territories has all but preempted the two-state solution, which would give the Palestinians a tiny part of their ancestral land and East Jerusalem as their capital.

Qureia must have spoken out of frustration with the never-ending process of finding a way to bring the two sides together to talk about a mechanism to initiate, maybe, peace talks that could, perhaps, yield some result…

Yes, it is a convoluted, sterile, process that has led nowhere so far and that is often enough to frustrate even the most enthusiastic peace seeker.

But Qureia’s suggestion is not very realistic either. Neither Israelis nor most Palestinians are bound to accept it.

The one-state idea may invite the Israeli government to embark even more vigorously on policies that drive away the Palestinians — ethnic cleansing, in so many words — to preserve the “Jewishness” of Israel.

Besides, after a century or so of conflict between Jews and Arabs over Palestine, it will take quite a while to bury the hatchet, heal deep wounds and coexist in complete harmony, not to mention the cultural and religious differences that would have to be surmounted.

The two states, therefore, seems to be the only operational solution. It could, in the long run, evolve into some sort of confederation, which has all the positive features of one state and could be of benefit to all.

Whatever resolution, one has to be reached, for the conflict has been brewing for too long and the entire region suffers because of it.

Palestinian-American author and poet Ibtisam Barakat

Ibtisam Barakat

Sunday, March 18, 2012

For Palestinian-American author and poet Ibtisam Barakat, writing is not just a pursuit — it is almost a fever. "I don't think I can think without writing," she said, scratching her pen in a small notebook even as she spoke. She writes "every minute, every hour." Writing her thoughts, she said, brings her to her real self and makes those thoughts truly her own.

Barakat grew up in the West Bank under periods of Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Her first visit to the United States was as an intern for the magazine The Nation, and she eventually earned two master's degrees — in journalism and human development — from the University of Missouri. Her 2007 young adult memoir, "Tasting the Sky," propelled her to national recognition. In the novel, she recalls her family's escape to Jordan in wartime, their eventual return to Ramallah and the events that unfolded during the family's stay in Barakat's favorite childhood home. Stealing sweet pastries from a vendor's cart, running shoeless from gunfire, adopting the family goat as a pet, spying on Israeli soldiers with her brothers, making friends with the Arabic letter Alef, whom she believed lived in pieces of chalk — all of these are described in a winsome, honest childhood voice.

Barakat had to let other voices inside herself recede and allow her childhood voice to speak when she wrote "Tasting the Sky," she said. "I negotiate my life through writing, so I used writing to heal that past in important ways, to tell it against much silence in myself and in the world about childhood and war."

She added that children have much to say, but their voices often are suppressed or ignored.

The writer first met staff from The Nation while they were on a visit to Palestine, and then-Editor-in-Chief Victor Navasky invited her to participate in an internship at the magazine. The best skill she learned there, Barakat acknowledged, was fact-checking. "It is as though every piece of information is on trial until fact-checked enough. There is responsibility and great pride in that practice," she said. Even now, she checks her written facts against three different sources....READ MORE

or

My letter to the Atlantic RE Why It's So Tough to Write About Israel By Steven A. Cook

RE: Why It's So Tough to Write About Israel By Steven A. Cook
http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/why-its-so-tough-to-write-about-israel/254649/

Dear Editor,

It really has all been said- but at the end of the day, as things are, Israel, right or wrong, is and remains a strong sovereign nation state empowering many loyal citizens and supporters to weigh in every where they can, whereas Palestinians remain harshly oppressed and impoverished and increasingly disenfranchised.

Religious extremism on both sides is on the rise. Is it really reasonable to ignore the Israel/Palestine conflict and the very real plight and suffering of Palestinian men, women and children because various pro-Israel and anti-Israel pundits and polemics tend to pull the conversation into a thousand distracting directions?

Our Fourth Estate is supposed to help guide America away from being bamboozled... Get down to the basics: As an American, are you really comfortable with the fact that Israel funds one religion?

Do you think religious scholars should be subsidized by the state?

Does it bother you that America's Congress (and thus all American taxpayers) are essentially coerced into financing Israel's religious scholars and settlement projects in the illegally occupied territories? Should American charities be given a free pass to invest in enterprises that clearly violate international law and universal basic human rights?

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

NOTES
"This [Israeli] occupation humiliates us, destroys our economy, causes demographic changes and deprives millions of the freedom of movement and their right to decent lives, in addition to the confiscation of land... These are the main ways Christians are persecuted in Palestine." Faysal Hijazeen


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

Growing Gardens for Palestine

a personal blog

...To Return

A Spider Silk Cape... a series of three poems by Anne Selden Annab in Growing Gardens for Palestine

"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