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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Palm Sunday


"Yes, yes, you call it Palestine, I call it Israel...."

 Palestine
A true story by  
Mike Hanini Odetalla
In my mind, the biggest enemy of the Palestinian people are not the Zionists zealots (make no mistake they are VERY dangerous), but the millions of "well meaning" Christians who through their ignorance, silence, and "love Arabs and Jews", not only enable the "hidden" nefarious face of Zionism, but actually let it thrive...

Case in point:

Yesterday after Friday prayers, my wife and boys took my dad and me to an Arabic restaurant for lunch. After we ordered and started eating, I noticed 2 "American" gentleman looking at we were eating with interest. It seems their curiosity was piqued by the eggplant salad we ordered.

After they were done eating, one of the gentleman (who turned out to be an ordained minister) walked up to us and started asking about the salad. I told him of the ingredients, and as is my nature scooped some into a piece of pita bread and offered it to him. He took it, ate it, and thanked me, and exclaimed it to be fantastic. He also felt obliged to tell me that "I love Arabic food and I just LOVE Israel. In fact, I have been there 16 times with my group"...

I looked at him and said, "We are Palestinians, FROM Jerusalem!". He said "Yes, yes, you call it Palestine, I call it Israel. Same place. I love it. In fact, when i am over there, I feel a certain, peace, of belonging, and I cry whenever I have to leave", whereby his friend felt compelled to show me his "Jerusalem" hat, with the Star of David and a Menorah, as he also gushed about how much he also loved Israel, but he had only been there a handful of times and that he loved "helping the people there, Arabs and Jews"...

I was then informed by the Minister, who was wearing a Toledo Mud hens cap that his group helped the Arab Bedouins in Bersheeba, when I interrupted with "Those are the same Arab Bedouins that Israel has been trying to ethnically cleanse by destroying their homes and villages. In fact they are doing so as we speak". "Yes you maybe right", he retorted, "But I don't get into the Politics of it all. We go into Nazareth, Bersheeba, and all of the Israeli towns to help people. Our Tour Guides are when we go to Arab towns are "believers" (Christian Arabs)...

This set me off on the following rant:

"Sir, you claim to be a man of God. You say that you have been to Israel 16 times to "help people", and yet you tell me that you have NEVER EVER been to ANY town in the West Bank, including the birth place of Jesus? How could that be? If you are, as you claim to be, and I don't doubt your sincerity to be a follower of Jesus, then you know that he spoke for and helped the downtrodden. He stood for, first and foremost, for justice. All I ask of you, is to go there and visit how the "other half lives" with an open mind and an open heart and let your faith be your guide. As a Christian and as a Minister, if you witness a gross injustice or a crime, can you honestly stand silent? Turn away and pretend it didn't happen? If so, then you are neither a Christian nor more importantly a human being sir! It is NOT a "Political problem"! It is a question of basic human rights and first and foremost, a question of Justice. All I ask of you is to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and see what the Israelis don't want you to see, and I guarantee that it will change you! Discard your tour guides, ESPECIALLY the Christian Arab ones they recommend to you. In Jerusalem, you will find some Christian and Muslim Arab tour guides that are not willing to abide by their master's script"...

He promised me that he would and asked me when will be at this particular restaurant again as I have given much to think about..."Every Friday around this time", I replied...

This gentleman has been coming to this restaurant, in the heart of the largest Arab community outside the Middle East, and NOT ONCE has anyone ever engaged him...A sad reality check for me!

1948


Arts center in Ain al-Hilweh showcases, exports Palestinian culture, history

Mansour displays traditional keffiyehs.(The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)
 [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.dailystar.com.lb/News/Local-News/2012/Mar-30/168470-arts-center-in-ain-al-hilweh-showcases-exports-palestinian-culture-history.ashx#axzz1qa3GhQOh

AIN AL-HILWEH, Lebanon: Preparations are in full swing for Land Day, with thousands expected to march toward the country’s border with Israel, but remembering Palestinian history doesn’t always mean marching.

A cultural center in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp is working to document Palestinian history through artisan creations.

The center in Ain al-Hilweh features paintings from Palestinian artists, some of whom spent time in Israeli prisons, pieces made from ceramic and copper traditionally found in Palestinian homes, as well as embroidered designs, some depicting traditional Palestinian weddings. It also has maps of historic Palestine and traditional clothing.

Adla Mansour, manager of the center, says the facility reflects Palestinian culture and keeps alive knowledge of traditions, especially for Palestinians who live abroad...READ MORE

My letter to CSM RE "Terrorism & Security: Israeli efforts to defuse 'Land Day' tensions fail as clashes erupt at checkpoint"


 RE: Terrorism & Security Israeli efforts to defuse 'Land Day' tensions fail as clashes erupt at checkpoint
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/terrorism-security/2012/0330/Israeli-efforts-to-defuse-Land-Day-tensions-fail-as-clashes-erupt-at-checkpoint

Dear Editor,

Sad to see that the story about Palestine's Land Day was filed under "Terrorism and Security", and that it was framed to diminish Palestine rather than to sincerely help America better understand the Israel-Palestine conflict, and the very real plight of the Palestinians: Israel refuses to respect the native non-Jewish Palestinians' basic human rights- including but not limited to every refugee's inalienable right to return to original homes and lands.

Israel's institutionalized bigotry and flagrant violations of international law sabotage peace and justice at every turn- please do not help make a bad situation worse.

"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

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

NOTES
Almost everything in the conflict that has lasted for over half a century is related to the land; Palestinians forced from their homes, unable to return, their houses demolished, fields of olive trees being destroyed by settlers, checkpoints and roadblocks keeping families apart and above all, the Israeli occupation of Palestine.   Commemorating Land Day by MIFTAH's Julie Holm

"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 Biblical Dog

World Must Act Urgently to Avert “Crisis” in Palestine, Experts Warn

United Nations Division for Palestinian Rights: Hanan Ashrawi says what needs to be said regarding Palestine

Jerusalem is at the heart of the Palestinian struggle

Israel cut working relations with the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday and will bar a U.N. team from entering Israel or the West Bank

Guardian: Land Day 2012 protests in pictures

Land Day protests – in pictures

Land Day demonstrations mark the killing of six Arabs by Israeli forces in 1976 during protests against plans to confiscate land in the Galilee region
Palestinian protesters hold up the national flag during a demonstration close to the border in Beit Hanun  Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

Friday, March 30, 2012

umkahlil: In Memorium: My Father

umkahlil: In Memorium: My Father

Palestine's Maan News: Land Day 2012 live report

http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=472506

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- 1403: Protester scales wall at Bethlehem checkpoint and places a Palestinian flag to huge cheers from the crowd.

1335: Israeli forces heavily deployed in Jerusalem. Troops have blocked the entrances to Palestinian neighborhoods al-Isawiya, al-Tur and Wadi Joz, our correspondent says.

1331: Representatives of the Palestinian telecommunications network Jawwal are handing bottled water to protesters near Qalandia checkpoint.

1321: Hundreds of protesters streaming from Ramallah to Qalandia checkpoint, where demonstrators are burning tires, chanting and waving flags.

Israeli forces are firing tear gas, rubber bullets, spraying foul-smelling chemical water and using a 'scream' acoustic device against the protesters.

An Israeli military spokesman says soldiers are using "riot dispersal means" to deal with protesters throwing rocks.

1320: A small fire erupted at the Israeli military watchtower at Bethlehem checkpoint but died out quickly.

1315: Youths throwing stones at Israeli army watchtower at Bethlehem checkpoint; older protestors are calling them back.

1312: Hundreds of protesters break through Palestinian security forces and race toward Bethlehem checkpoint shouting "To Jerusalem." Palestinian forces have bolted, our reporter says. No response from Israeli forces, yet.

1250: A group of protesters surged toward the checkpoint in Bethlehem, which is being guarded by a human wall of Palestinian security forces. Israeli forces are present and watching closely.

1236: Israeli forces have detained four people at a protest in Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah, an Israeli military spokesman says.

1231: In Bethlehem, Palestinian security forces have formed a human wall to block the protesters from reaching the checkpoint. All peaceful so far.

1226: A few hundred protesters marching in Bethlehem toward the checkpoint to Jerusalem.

1131: Israeli media reporting that more troops were deployed to the northern border.

"The forces are equipped with crowd dispersal and anti-riot measures ... orders were given to the forces to maintain restraint and prevent protestors from reaching the border (fence)," reports Ynet news.

1115: Palestinians in the Old City of Jerusalem say Israeli forces have deployed by the hundreds. Along with a large media presence, the area surrounding the al-Aqsa Mosque is packed.

Washington Post Photo Essay: Life in the Palestinian territories


Palestinian laborers work at construction site of a residential project funded by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. Said Khatib / AFP/Getty Images

Life in the Palestinian territories

Beyond the frequent images of violence and destruction, view scenes from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


A Palestinian couple plant an olive tree to mark the anniversary of Land Day in the village of Kafr al-Dik in the Nablus region of the West Bank. Israeli police and the army were gearing up Friday for a raft of demonstrations and marches expected to take place across Israel and the Palestinian territories to mark Land Day, officials said. (AFP Photo/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My letter to the New York Times RE Israel’s Top Court vs. Outposts Editorial


RE:  Israel’s Top Court vs. Outposts
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/28/opinion/israels-top-court-vs-outposts.html

Dear Editor,

In a blink, as a fully sovereign nation Israel could have and should have long ago stopped usurping Palestinian land and rights. One court decision to dismantle one small rogue settlement in the illegally occupied territories, while still heavily subsiding and guarding many others, is not exactly inspiring proof of good intentions- or justice.

March 30th marks Land Day for Palestine. In Arabic "Youm al-Ard". Thirty-six years ago, in March 1976, Israel confiscated 5,500 acres of Palestinian-owned land in the Galilee. Palestinians protested. Israel's response was fierce and six unarmed Palestinians, three men and three women, were killed by Israeli forces.... "Almost everything in the conflict that has lasted for over half a century is related to the land; Palestinians forced from their homes, unable to return, their houses demolished, fields of olive trees being destroyed by settlers, checkpoints and roadblocks keeping families apart and above all, the Israeli occupation of Palestine."  Commemorating Land Day by Julie Holm for MIFTAH

Israel plans on barring a U.N. team from entering Israel or the West Bank for an upcoming investigation of Jewish settlements, and Israel continues to bar countless Palestinians from returning to their homes and lands- in addition to revoking residency rights, pushing more and more Palestinian men, women and children into forced exile every day. This situation is absolutely insane- and cruel... and totally uncivilized. 

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

NOTES
Commemorating Land Day by MIFTAH's Julie Holm

The Biblical Dog

World Must Act Urgently to Avert “Crisis” in Palestine, Experts Warn

United Nations Division for Palestinian Rights: Hanan Ashrawi says what needs to be said regarding Palestine

Jerusalem is at the heart of the Palestinian struggle

Israel cut working relations with the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday and will bar a U.N. team from entering Israel or the West Bank

Hussein Ibish... Show, Don't Tell: Why the Apartheid Analogy Falls Flat

Groups urge Arab summit to address the Palestinian refugees right of return


"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 
 

Commemorating Land Day [for Palestine] by MIFTAH's Julie Holm


Almost everything in the conflict that has lasted for over half a century is related to the land; Palestinians forced from their homes, unable to return, their houses demolished, fields of olive trees being destroyed by settlers, checkpoints and roadblocks keeping families apart and above all, the Israeli occupation of Palestine. 


Thirty-six years ago, in March 1976, Israeli authorities announced that 5,500 acres of Palestinian-owned land would be confiscated from villages in the Galilee. The land was expropriated for ‘security and settlement purposes’, and declared a closed military zone. The decision to confiscate the land was followed by curfews on surrounding Palestinian villages, effective from 5 pm, March 29. Local Palestinian leaders responded by calling for general strikes and protests against the confiscation of the land, to be held the following day, March 30, 1976. This is the day that has been commemorated ever since, as Youm al-Ard; Land Day.

The events of the day were unprecedented. This was the first time, since 1948, that Palestinians, in what was now called Israel, stood together and collectively confronted Israeli authorities. The Israeli government declared all demonstrations illegal and yet, general strikes and peaceful marches took place throughout Palestinian towns in Israel, from the Galilee in the North to the Negev in the South. More than 400,000 people participated in the strikes. Simultaneously, solidarity strikes were held in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and in refugee camps in Lebanon. The Israeli response was militant and violent, aimed at subduing any signs of nationalism and resistance, as Israeli troops, backed by tanks, entered Palestinian villages and reoccupied them. The clashes resulted in the death of six unarmed Palestinians, three men and three women. Four were shot dead by the Israeli military, two others by the Israeli police. About 100 Palestinians were wounded and a further 300 were arrested.

Now, after decade upon decade of struggling and facing life under occupation, March 30 is still a date commemorating the day Palestinians took a collective stand against Israeli attempts to steal their land. Land Day is marked as a day of remembrance for those who were killed, and a day of protests against Israel’s ongoing policy of land expropriation from the Palestinians.

Israel’s expansionist policies and theft of Palestinian land did not end that day, 36 years ago. The thousands of acres of land that were confiscated and declared military zones were later utilized for massive illegal settlement expansion. Today Palestinian land is continuously being eaten up by Israel, with the separation wall, buffer zones, settlements and bypass roads expanding and removing the Palestinians from what means the most to them – their land. Almost everything in the conflict that has lasted for over half a century is related to the land; Palestinians forced from their homes, unable to return, their houses demolished, fields of olive trees being destroyed by settlers, checkpoints and roadblocks keeping families apart and above all, the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

But Land Day is so much more than a day portraying Palestinians as victims of Israel’s colonialist policies. It is about Palestinians everywhere standing up against the expropriation of their land. Land Day is marked in Palestine and throughout the world, by Palestinians and those who stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people. It is a time to remember and protest the injustice against and systematic oppression of the Palestinian people. Commemorating the events of March 30, 1976 is not only about everything the Palestinians have lost, but also about the Palestinian people standing together against those who have taken it away.

Julie Holm 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
 
The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy 
 
VISION: An independent, democratic and sovereign Palestinian state, which grants Palestinians their basic rights, preserves their dignity, and enjoys international recognition and respect.
 

The Biblical Dog.... poem by Anne Selden Annab


Photo credit: Washington Post March 27 2012 The Canaan dog

        The Biblical Dog

Place appellations
and things
and moods
and food
in Arabic
named this dog
for centuries...

One puppy
scampering
after another
through out time,
his fur blending
into the stone
his brown eyes
the shadows
shade and shelter

One puppy
scampering
after another
as human hands
and Arab voices
welcomed him
home


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

World Must Act Urgently to Avert “Crisis” in Palestine, Experts Warn



Kanaan said that "a crisis is looming if international actors don't move quickly." "Donors, especially regional ones must fulfill their pledges to the PA; Israel must ease restrictions on access and mobility; and Palestinians must persist with institution building or there could be a serious crisis in a matter of weeks," he cautioned.

Raad agreed that, “something must be done this year in terms of building momentum; the Palestinians cannot wait a year, and some form of momentum must be found.”

Danin said the most important factor is that "the regional donors must pay up, and even if they fear that they are in effect bankrolling the occupation, they're actually harming the people they're trying to help.”

In summarizing the overall situation, Kanaan said the economic strategy currently undergoing a significant crisis had its origin in 2007 when Salam Fayyad took office as prime minister. “We had targets for growth, unemployment and fiscal policy, which is the main macroeconomic tool for the Palestinians,” he said, “originally structured as a three-year plan.” For most of period since then, he said, "performance on growth and living standards overall has been much better than expected, which was an anticipated 4% annual improvement but proved to be about 8% in practice.”

He also praised the PA performance on fiscal stability and reduced reliance on international aid, which he noted had declined from $1.8 billion in 2008 to to $1 billion in 2010. However, he said, “the current crisis is the result of sudden failures on these two fronts.” "The PA is facing a big financing gap due to lack of donor aid and might be forced to cut wages and essential social services.

Moreover, growth has not lead to a decline in unemployment.” He said this was “mainly a result of Israeli restrictions and lack of access, which produces a decline in labor-intensive industries and disparities in different areas - growth looks impressive but is not balanced both sectorally and regionally and is not sustainable, especially because access is not being eased.”

Kanaan said that in his experience, “the PA has done a great job of trimming waste but it has had to cut back on wages. Less than half of expected aid has been delivered, and expenditures for development and long-term growth have therefore been very disappointing.” “Until donors give more and Israeli restrictions are lifted, this will not improve,” he continued. He also noted that, “revenue performance has also been disappointing, especially given the difficulties in securing Palestinian tax funds supposed to be delivered by Israel.” Kanaan said that "all three sectors need urgent attention; PA revenue must be increased to relieve the current crisis; it is very well known what Israeli restrictions on movement and access and tax revenue transfer are need to be lifted, but the political decision needs to be made; and increased donor aid is vital, including for development projects to sustain long-term growth.” He noted that the PA has developed “some contingency measures but they will be hard to implement given public pressures and continued withholding of funds by donors, especially regional ones, who sometimes cite the occupation as a reason to withhold funds, but this is politically short-sighted.”

Raad said one of the biggest problems facing the Palestinian economy is that its youth unemployment is one of the highest in the world - overall in the 30 percent range. He cited Israeli restrictions on many aspects of economic life regarding Gaza and said that, "in the West Bank the most important restrictions are those on movement outside the area, internationally and into Israel.” He noted that “political instability is a major impediment to real investment, confidence and the free flow of individuals entering and exiting the occupied territories.”

Raad cited housing and mortgages; dual use import restrictions; and lack of access to natural resources -- especially a large gas reserves off the Mediterranean coast -- as key areas for improvement in the Palestinian economy.

"External trade is essential and an export-oriented positions would be a good policy, although easing Israeli restrictions and improving crossings are needed to make that work," he added. Raad said that "Palestinians need to get more access to their trade agreements with Arab states," and that "eased restrictions on Gaza should allow for more exports and what is especially needed is Gaza exports to the West Bank.” He cited three economic sectors with “tremendous potential” if there is stability and more coordination with Israel and Jordan: the tourism industry, from which all three countries can benefit; agriculture, especially in the Jordan Valley, provided Israel lifts significant ongoing restrictions; and pharmaceuticals, which also face a number of restrictions.

Danin said that the approach in recent years was based on three interlocking and mutually-reinforcing aspects: one, "Palestinian self-improvement under occupation but in spite of the occupation"; two, that this self-improvement "was predicated on a larger context that included security to provide law and order for Palestinians and security for Israelis, and reverse restrictions imposed during the second intifada"; and three, "diplomacy such as negotiations at Annapolis." "This was a virtuous circle, building the basis for the state from the ground up while laying the basis for successful negotiations," he said, and was meant to be "a self-reinforcing dynamic with a popular basis that could support negotiations." "Two thirds of the triangle have receded if not disappeared: the economic crisis and the diplomatic impasse," he said, “and the security aspect remains but is at risk due to the crisis in the other two legs."

Danin proposed four steps "to move forward and restore the virtuous cycle."

“First,” he said, “we must return to the model of all three as an integrated whole: development, security and negotiations must all support each other. A return simply to negotiations is not enough: we need progress on all three.”

“Second,” he continued, “There has to be a sense that we are moving towards an end to the occupation. Without this there will not be progress on any front or any real support for negotiations themselves. Israel has a very important role to play in this.”

“Third,” Danin observed, “The Palestinians need to come up with a coherent strategy. The Fayyad strategy of preparing the ground for independence and removing any reasons for the occupation must be returned to.” He said that, “Palestinians are now pursuing a set of disparate policies that do not support each other, are sometimes in tension and often work against each other.” Among these he listed institution building, UN initiatives, negotiations with Israel, national unity efforts, peaceful resistance and potential elections. "Palestinians need a clearly defined and integrated strategy,” he insisted.

“Fourth,” he concluded, “there is no such thing as benign neglect in this context and the security cooperation which is a sine qua non for all other progress could unravel.”

Danin warned that “extremists on all sides want to, and could, bring it down. So far, it has held together but the situation on the ground is volatile and the international community needs to be more robust. The parties left on their own have shown they will not resolve their issues.”

United Nations Division for Palestinian Rights: Hanan Ashrawi says what needs to be said regarding Palestine


Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, will brief on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and developments in the political process.

Jerusalem is at the heart of the Palestinian struggle

The traditional centre of Palestinian social, religious and economic life is increasingly being isolated by Israeli policies
[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]
Sarah Colborne
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 27 March 2012

Jerusalem is a city that embodies the cultural heritage of three religions: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Yet Palestinians – both Christian and Muslim – are being driven out of Jerusalem. Just one example of this ethnic cleansing is taking place in Silwan, where 1,000 residents are facing imminent eviction as their homes make way for the King David tourist park. In response to the urgency of the situation, an international alliance is mounting a series of peaceful protests worldwide on 30 March to call for an end to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians living in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, the traditional centre of Palestinian social, religious and economic life, is increasingly being isolated and restricted by Israeli policies. As the Israeli human rights organisation B'Tselem points out, ever since Israel illegally occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, in violation of international law, "the government of Israel's primary goal in Jerusalem has been to create a demographic and geographic situation that will thwart any future attempt to challenge Israeli sovereignty over the city". Some 200,000 settlers now live in illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem.

Concern over these policies is not limited to pro-Palestinian activists, or Israeli human rights groups. An EU Heads of Mission report last year highlighted the continued expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes, and restrictions on legal and religious freedoms. Palestinians who have lived for generations in East Jerusalem can lose their residency rights if they leave the city because of a Kafkaesque notion that the centre of their life is no longer in Jerusalem, while Israeli citizens retain guaranteed citizenship. Since Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem, more than 14,000 Palestinians have had their residency rights revoked. The 270,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem can find themselves ordered to demolish their homes or businesses, or being forced to watch whilst settlers take over their homes....READ MORE

Monday, March 26, 2012

Israel cut working relations with the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday and will bar a U.N. team from entering Israel or the West Bank

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel cut working relations with the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday and will bar a U.N. team from entering Israel or the West Bank for a planned investigation of Jewish settlements, the Foreign Ministry said.

Israel accuses the council of having a pronounced anti-Israel bias because of what it says is its disproportionate focus on Israeli policy toward the Palestinians.

Israeli leaders have been in an uproar over the council's adoption of a resolution last week condemning Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem and its decision to send a fact-finding mission to investigate such activity.

On Monday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced Israel was severing working ties with the council.

"It means that we're not going to work with them. We're not going to let them carry out any kind of mission for the Human Rights Council, including this probe," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor.

The Palestinians are preparing settlement maps and photos to present to the council, said senior Palestinian official Nabil Shaath. He said Israel will not be able to stop the investigation by cutting ties with the council.

"We will go to any international body that can investigate and impose sanctions," he said.

Much of the international community sees settlement construction on occupied lands the Palestinians seek for a future state as a major impediment to peacemaking, and has pressured Israel to freeze it.

Israel has moved 500,000 Israelis to the West Bank and east Jerusalem since capturing the areas, along with Gaza, in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel withdrew soldiers and settlers from Gaza in 2005, though it still controls access by air, sea and land....READ MORE

Hussein Ibish... Show, Don't Tell: Why the Apartheid Analogy Falls Flat


A series of recent articles have pointlessly debated whether or not Israel can accurately be described as “an apartheid state.” But the problem with the apartheid analogy is less its inaccuracy, and more that, however emotionally appealing some people may find it, it’s just not useful in ending the occupation and advancing the Palestinian cause.

True, apartheid is (vaguely) defined as a war crime under the Statute of Rome, but neither Israel nor most Arab countries (nor the United States, for that matter) are members of the Assembly of Parties at the International Criminal Court. In fact, the apartheid argument really is a historical analogy to the systematized, racist legal discrimination that used to exist in South Africa.

This historical analogy is vague and in some ways inaccurate. Inside its own borders, Israel’s social and political structure significantly discriminates against the large Palestinian minority (about 20 percent of the citizenry). But this cannot be accurately compared to apartheid. The system enforced by the Israeli military in the occupied territories, however, has a great deal of similarity to apartheid in South Africa. In some ways it's not as onerous, but in many ways it's worse.

Therefore, the analogy is tempting. Still, pro-Palestinian activists would be wise to avoid it, for several reasons.

First, it's a conversation stopper, especially in the United States. Because they do not understand what life under occupation means for Palestinians, most Americans are not ready to accept at the outset of any conversation that Israel practices apartheid. They will simply assume that they are being exposed to hyperbolic anti-Israel propaganda and stop listening before they hear the facts.

It is infinitely more powerful to show rather than tell. Rather than leading with an announcement that Israel practices apartheid, it is much more effective to simply describe the realities: Every aspect of daily life in the occupied Palestinian territories for every individual is defined by whether the Israeli government categorizes them as an Israeli settler, and therefore a citizen of the state with all the rights and responsibilities accruing to citizenship, or a Palestinian noncitizen living under occupation. If you simply describe life under occupation, audiences will draw their own parallels between the occupation and apartheid in South Africa or Jim Crow laws in the segregationist American south.

This discrimination applies to the laws people live under: where they may live; what roads they may use; what access they have to resources like land, water, education, and social services; whether they may be armed for self-defense; whether they may travel freely or have to pass through rigorous checkpoints with the permission of a foreign army; whether they may leave their country with any reasonable expectation of being able to return unimpeded; whether they have any say in the government that rules them or are totally disenfranchised; and whether they are routinely subjected to severe abuses under detention and military tribunals. All these, and almost all other aspects of daily life in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel, are all radically separate and unequal on an ethnically-defined basis.

The system of ethnic discrimination imposed by military force and Israel's “civil administration” in the occupied territories is by far the most extreme form of discriminatory abuse anywhere in the world today. When they learn these details, audiences conclude for themselves that this is a wicked, immoral and indefensible system and can see the apartheid parallels in a way that will not make them recoil before they know the details.

Secondly, the analogy incorrectly suggests that because these parallels exist, the solution must be the same. But while South African apartheid was ended by a reasonable quid pro quo that was the best deal possible for white and black South Africans alike, no such mutually beneficial arrangement in a single state has yet been articulated for Jewish Israelis and Palestinians. It's a politically misleading analogy that invites strategic error.

Finally, the analogy falls into the trap of conflating Israel and the occupied territories, which plays into the hands of Israeli maximalists and the settler movement. The implied one-state solution suggests that Israel is simply practicing extreme discrimination within an already-existing single state. This effectively lets Israel off the hook completely when it comes to the occupation. And, worse, it suggests that the expansion of settlements is merely construction taking place within that existing state rather than illegal colonization in occupied territories.

No decent person who is made aware of the realities of life under occupation for Palestinians can fail to see its immorality. Demonstrating the immorality of the occupation and the moral and political imperative to end it, not harping on inexact and misleading historical analogies, should be the imperative for pro-Palestinian activism.

******

Groups urge Arab summit to address the Palestinian refugees right of return

[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]

BEIRUT (Ma'an) -- Organizations supporting Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are calling on the Arab League to include refugee rights in the agenda of Thursday's Arab League summit.

The petition to Secretary-General of the Arab League Nabil al-Arabi and other heads of state warns "the area will not have peace and quiet unless the Palestinian refugees’ right of return is implemented."

It is signed by 111 non governmental organizations supporting Palestinians in Lebanon.

The Arab League meets for its annual summit in the Iraqi capital on March 29. The groups say they want leaders to discuss the issue of Palestinian refugees due to humanitarian risks to Palestinians and their host countries.

"This issue threatens seven million Palestinian refugees and their right to go back to their homes from which they were uprooted forcefully in 1948," says a copy of the communique seen by Ma'an.

"It also has risks for Arab countries hosting Palestinian refugee populations due to immigration and residency issues," it continues.

Palestinian refugees have long suffered discrimination in host countries.

The communication stresses that no Arab or Palestinian negotiator has the right to negotiate away refugees’ right of return.

US adds $10 million to UNRWA contributions- To date in 2012, the US has pledged $65 billion & is UNRWA’s largest bilateral donor

http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=471297
Children attending UNRWA’s Gaza summer camp attempt to gain a world record
on basketball bouncing. (MaanImages/Stringer, File)

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The United States added a further $10 million to its contributions to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, a press statement from the agency said.

Ronan Farrow, Special Adviser on Global Youth to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, announced the additional contribution during UNRWA's youth conference in Belgium last week, the release said on Monday.

The UN agency pledged to put more focus on youth in reforms of its education and health work, and cooperate more with international and UN youth initiatives at the end of the two-day summit.

To date in 2012, the US has pledged $65 billion to the refugee agency and is UNRWA’s largest bilateral donor, the release said.

The US partially lifted a hold on development funds to Palestine last week, after assistance was held back as President Mahmoud Abbas applied for full membership of the United Nations.

In August, Republican lawmakers put a hold on $147 million in US donation, arguing that Palestinian statehood should be achieved through peace talks with Israel.

On Friday, US Representative Kay Granger announced she was ready for the entire sum to go to the Palestinians. But the other representative who had a hold on the funds, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, limited the release to $88.6 million.

PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said he hoped that the whole amount, meant to support development projects, would be released.

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My letter to the Independent regarding Palestine’s right to exist By Richard Sudan

RE: Palestine’s right to exist By Richard Sudan
http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2012/03/26/palestine%E2%80%99s-right-to-exist/

Dear Editor,

Richard Sudan is both wise and brave to refuse to be bullied into silence and complicity regarding Palestine and Israel's ongoing crimes against the native non-Jewish population of the Holy Land. However I think one needs to be equally honest and equally critical of Islamists and militants who make matters worse.

Hard to do that though with so many Zionists so eager and so able to derail the conversation before any progress can be made. The Israeli blockade's tentacles really do reach everywhere.... and Palestinians are not the only ones who risk losing their jobs and livelihoods due to Israel.

This week, here in the USA Sunni Khalid, managing news editor at WYPR-FM, has been dropped by the public radio station after more than nine years on the job there for posting his opinion on a friend's face book page: "I, for one, have had enough of this pandering before the Israeli regime," he wrote. "The war-mongering toward Iran has, once again, distracted the world from Israel's brutal military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights."

A fully secular two state solution really is the best way forward. Religion should be a personal private matter, not a state subsidized project.

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
Israeli Settlers taking over Palestinian springs: UN report

Israeli textbooks foster hate, says author

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

Few Palestinian youths, or their lawyers, believe they will receive a fair trial.

Palestine’s Economy is in Trouble, But Why?

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

Engaging youth: Palestine refugees in a changing Middle East

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

Stop using Palestinian cause to justify terror: PM


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

Growing Gardens for Palestine

a personal blog


To Return

Palestine’s right to exist By Richard Sudan

[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]

"‘Israel’s right to exist’ and ‘defend herself’ as platitudes without substance, exploit genuine emotion, evoking memories of the crimes inflicted upon Jewish people during WW2.

They typify the kind of propaganda which ensures that interpretation and analysis of today’s conflict is blurred. They irresponsibly evoke one memory to justify an equally horrifying crime.

To be clear, any innocent loss of life is wrong and tragic and we must remember that many Israelis have become innocent victims in this narrative too.

But we need to look at this conflict for what it is and through a human lens first and foremost.

800,000 Palestinians were forced from their land to make way for the establishment of the Jewish state, and their land continues to be occupied. They as a people fight for justice and recognition. But Palestinians continue to die at the hands of colonial rule.

To deny Palestinians justice, is to deny the humanity and memory of victims of oppression and injustice everywhere, including those who died during the holocaust. There is nothing more cynical than evoking that tragedy to justify the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians." Richard Sudan

Palestine’s right to exist

My letter to the NYTimes Sunday Review 3-25-2012 RE: Thomas L. Friedman "A Festival of Lies"

RE: A Festival of Lies
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/opinion/sunday/friedman-a-festival-of-lies.html

Dear Editor,

At least Thomas L Friedman mentioned Israel in his "Festival of Lies" column decrying policy failures through out the Middle East, but he did not go far enough: Israel's own rampant tribalism firmly rooted in bolstering its supposed Jewishness by demonizing, displacing, and destroying the native non-Jewish Palestinians (plus Israel's strong economy while doing exactly that) is not exactly a cautionary tale for anyone.

A fully secular two state solution to once and for all end the Israel-Palestine conflict with all its many negative ramifications would go a long long way towards shifting the entire region away from religious tyranny and sectarian savagery.

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


Sunday, March 25, 2012

My letter to the Economist RE A lament for America’s Jews

RE: A lament for America’s Jews- Inside the corridors of power, there we sat down and wept http://www.economist.com/node/21551055

Dear Editor,

My how very very different America would be today if we'd opted to fund religion with tax payers money long ago... Surely it is obvious that a government subsidizing any one religion, thereby fueling religious fantasies, religious extremism and religious bigotry at every turn is not a healthy direction to go in for any modern nation state!!

What example does Jews-preferred Israel's flourishing set for Islamists world wide?

A fully secular, carefully negotiated two state solution to once and for all end the Israel-Palestine conflict and the continued displacement and impoverishment of the native non-Jewish population of the Holy Land really is the best way forward: Religion should be a personal, private matter, not a license to violate other people's basic human rights, including but not limited to every refugees very real right to return to original homes and lands..

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

Washington Post (Published: November 4 - still on the web site) Young Palestinian activists represent a potential new political and social force

RE: Young Palestinian activists represent a potential new political and social force
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle-east/west-bank-womans-struggle-for-change/2011/10/07/gIQAdlFPlM_story.html

Dear Editor,

Kudos to the Washington Post for noticing and highlighting valiant efforts by Palestinians who understand that citizens have to build a strong society from the inside: Volunteer work is not tallied up as part of any country's GDP (Gross Domestic Product), but it certainly does play a large part in how successful, stable and pleasant a community, and a country might be.

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

“If you build something in the country, you feel that this country is yours. We have to build a strong society from the inside...

(Samuel Sockol/WASHINGTON POST) - A 22-year-old university student, Hurriya Ziada is active in protests against Israeli occupation in the West Bank.

"One of the most useful lessons learned, Ziada noted, was that participation can be enlisted by focusing on pressing social and economic problems that affect people’s daily lives.

In the West Bank, Ziada and others have led street-cleaning projects, helped build mud houses for people whose homes were razed by the Israelis and run activities for children in areas plagued by violence. The community work, Ziada said, was meant to encourage a sense of civic involvement and break patterns of passivity and resignation.

“When you clean a street, you feel related to the street because you cleaned it yourself,” she said. “If you build something in the country, you feel that this country is yours. We have to build a strong society from the inside, and that will help us move to the next step.”"

[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.washingtonpost.com/world/middle-east/west-bank-womans-struggle-for-change/2011/10/07/gIQAdlFPlM_story.html

Young Palestinian activists represent a potential new political and social force