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Saturday, April 21, 2012

EU condemns the recent Israeli eviction of a Palestinian family from its east Jerusalem home

Israeli police arrest a member of Khaled Natshe's family as they are forced to hand over their home to Jewish settlers in the Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Beit Hanina on April 18. The European Union missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah condemned the eviction on Saturday. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)

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]  

The European Union missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah condemned on Saturday the recent eviction of a Palestinian family from its east Jerusalem home, ahead of its inhabitation by Jewish settlers.

The EU missions "condemn the eviction of the Natshe family from their home in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Beit Hanina," a statement read.

They were also "deeply concerned by the plans to build a new settlement in the midst of this traditional Palestinian neighbourhood," the statement continued, noting that "settlements are illegal under international law."

On Wednesday, Israeli police evicted the family from their home in the annexed east Jerusalem neighbourhood after Jewish settlers won a court battle over ownership.

The eviction of the 14-member Natshe family from two houses in Beit Hanina was the first successful attempt by settlers to secure a property in the well-heeled Arab district in the northern part of east Jerusalem.

Israel captured east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War, and considers all the city its "eternal, undivided" capital. It does not consider construction in the eastern sector settlement building.
But the Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their promised state, and furiously denounce any move by Israel to buy or build property there.

The international community considers all Israeli settlement on occupied land to be illegal under international law.

My letter to the Washington Post RE Mahmoud Abbas’s unhappy anniversary by Jackson Diehl

RE: Mahmoud Abbas’s unhappy anniversary by Jackson Diehl
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/post/mahmoud-abbass-unhappy-anniversary/2012/04/19/gIQA38LMTT_blog.html

Dear Editor,

Jackson Diehl's misleading op-ed "Mahmoud Abbas’s unhappy anniversary" certainly was not written to help inform anyone regarding how best to help end the Israel-Palestine conflict. Instead he feeds into extremism on both sides by refusing to even notice Israel's long term and flagrant violations of international law and the Palestinians' basic human rights.

What was the point? Perhaps his goal is more about undermining Middle East peace negotiations by doing what he can to dismiss and discredit Palestine, just as Israeli agents have been doing for years. Perhaps he hopes to help bully our Congress into idolizing Israel and punishing Palestine for refusing to do the same.  Perhaps he simply likes the status quo with the institutionalized bigotry, rampant injustice and cruel chaos of the ongoing conflict harming countless innocent and increasingly vulnerable people & inspiring the worst in many players.

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

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

"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin?

Daoud Kuttab: Prisoners have the right to see parents and read books... but Israel won't let them

Palestinian Refugees (1948-NOW) refused their right to return... and their right to live in peace free from religious bigotry and injustice.

Yesterday #Israeli forces bulldozed a field of 2000 sq meters of #Palestinian land planted with beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and cauliflowers.

This is the price every Palestinian leader and campaigner is forced to pay

The Middle East has the largest number of stateless and internally displaced peoples in the world, and recent upheavals have caused these numbers to surge...

"The traffic jam is a metaphor of our life stymied under Israeli occupation." ...This Week In Palestine

Unclench your fist...

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Palestinian shepherd walks with his camels on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Jenin. 

An 18-year-old Palestinian shepherd was seriously wounded by Israeli gunfire in the northern West Bank, Palestinian security sources have said. (AFP Photo/Saif Dahlah)

My letter to the NYTimes RE Easter in Ramallah by Raja Shehadeh

Worshipers at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem during the ceremony of the Holy Fire on April 14

RE: Easter in Ramallah By Raja Shehadeh
http://latitude.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/19/a-wistful-look-at-orthodox-easter-in-ramallah/

Dear Editor,

Delighted to read Easter in Ramallah By Raja Shehadeh in the New York Times, and I very much hope that someday soon Palestine is free and able to prosper as a fully sovereign, stable and secure nation state living in peace alongside Israel: A Golden Rule Peace reflecting the light and the inspiration of all ceremonies and traditions and stories, both religious and secular, that help humankind celebrate community and compassion- for everyone's sake.

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab


NOTES
Palestinian Refugees (1948-NOW) refused their right to return... and their right to live in peace free from religious bigotry and injustice.

"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin?

This is the price every Palestinian leader and campaigner is forced to pay

Daoud Kuttab: Prisoners have the right to see parents and read books... but Israel won't let them

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

The Middle East has the largest number of stateless and internally displaced peoples in the world, and recent upheavals have caused these numbers to surge...

Yesterday #Israeli forces bulldozed a field of 2000 sq meters of #Palestinian land planted with beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and cauliflowers.

VOANews: Israel Blocks ‘Fly-in’ by Pro-Palestinian Activists

Unclench your fist...

"The traffic jam is a metaphor of our life stymied under Israeli occupation." ...This Week In Palestine

Thank Secretary Clinton for Standing Up for Palestinian Aid... supporting work for peace and justice in the Holy Land.

Aref Assaf: Gov. Chris Christie should not have skipped Palestine on Israel trip

Palestinian Arts Festival in Minneapolis May 3 through 6, 2012

My grandfather’s key By Hani Azzam


Thursday, April 19, 2012

This is the price every Palestinian leader and campaigner is forced to pay

A Bedouin woman sits next to a destroyed house in the Negev village of al-Araqib. Photograph: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images
Raed Salah: Britain's duty to the Palestinian people
I came to the UK to talk about the plight of the Palestinians but ended up fighting deportation. This is what I wanted to say
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/19/britain-duty-to-palestinian-people

In June 2011 I came to Britain to begin a speaking tour to draw attention to the plight of my people, the Palestinian citizens of Israel. The tour was meant to last 10 days. Instead I had to stay for 10 months in order to resist an attempt by the home secretary, Theresa May, to deport me – itself the result of a smear campaign against me and what I represent. I fought not just for my own sake, but for all who are smeared because they support the Palestinian cause.

Since 1990 I have visited the UK several times to speak publicly. On this occasion I was arrested, imprisoned, and told I was to be deported to Israel because my presence in the UK was "not conducive to the public good". A judge later ruled that I had been illegally detained, but bail conditions continued to severely restrict my freedom, making it impossible for me to speak as I had intended.

After a 10-month legal battle, I have now been cleared on "all grounds" by a senior immigration tribunal judge, who ruled that May's decision to deport me was "entirely unnecessary" and that she had been "misled". The evidence she relied on (which included a poem of mine which had been doctored to make it appear anti-Jewish) was not, he concluded, a fair portrayal of my views. In reality, I reject any and every form of racism, including antisemitism.

I have no doubt that, despite this, Israel's cheerleaders in Britain will continue to smear my character. This is the price every Palestinian leader and campaigner is forced to pay.

My people – the Palestinians – are the longstanding victims of Israeli racism. Victims of racism, anywhere, should never condone or support the maltreatment of another people, as Israel does.
The suffering of the Palestinian citizens of Israel has been ignored for decades. But there is today a growing awareness of it, which partially explains this smear campaign against me. In December 2011, EU ambassadors in Israel raised serious concerns about Israeli discrimination, noting that "not only has the situation of the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel not improved, but it has further deteriorated".

There are around 1.5 million Arabs in Israel. We make up 17% of the population, but we face a barrage of racist policies and discriminatory laws. We receive less than 5% of funds allocated by the government for development. Public spending on children in Arab municipalities is one-third lower than that of children in Jewish municipalities. The average hourly wage of Arab workers is about 70% of that of Jewish workers. Any Jew, from any country, is allowed under Israel's law of return to migrate to Israel; Palestinian refugees are not allowed to exercise their right of return. While a Jew can live anywhere in Israel, a Palestinian citizen cannot. Jews can marry whoever they wish and live with them in Israel, Palestinian citizens cannot.   ...READ MORE

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] 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Arab energy subsidies waste billions: UN report... While government say they aim to protect low income families from high fuel costs, the subsidies help the rich more than the poor

[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]   

A worker at a gas station fills a Saudi man's car with petrol in Riyadh. Arab countries are wasting tens of billions of dollars on subsidies for petrol and energy but dare not roll them back for fear of a political backlash, a UN report said. (AFP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

While government say they aim to protect low income families from high fuel costs, the subsidies help the rich more than the poor, the report said.

In Egypt, the top 20 percent wage earners get 33 percent of the energy subsidies, against 3.8 percent for the poorest families. For gasoline, 93 percent of the subsidies go to the rich.

The subsidies also distort the economy by encouraging waste and holding up investment in renewable energy, the report said. Energy consumption in the Arab world tripled between 1980 and 2008.

UN researchers said the money could be better spent on infrastructure and social spending.
In 2008, spending on energy subsidies in Egypt, Jordan and Syria accounted for more than spending on education and health.

"While energy subsidies do benefit low income households, they must be seen as a costly and inefficient tool to protect the poor in the Arab world," said the report.

Daoud Kuttab: Prisoners have the right to see parents and read books... but Israel won't let them

Prisoners have the rights to see parents and read books
By Daoud Kuttab

I knew, separately, Suheir Ismael and Najeeb Farraj before they became a couple. I knew Najeeb as a colleague working with AFP and Al Quds daily, and an avid reader of the political scene in Palestine. I worked with Suheir when we produced the documentary Palestinian Diaries during the first Intifada. In it, Suheir talks about the day her brother was killed by Israelis while he was trying to help a neighbour in Al Khader village, near Bethlehem.

With her brother gone and her father killed in Lebanon, Suheir grew up a strong woman fighting for her rights in a male-dominated society.

I will never forget the day she interviewed her mother for the documentary, asking her a tough question: Why didn't you follow dad into exile? She later told me that the camera gave her the courage to ask a question she had not dared ask face-to-face.

Another documentary I co-produced documents her wedding day and includes a segment in which distant male relatives try to take advantage of her men-less family, only to be put down by Najeeb's brother Hamdi, a leading Palestinian columnist.

Suheir moved to Najeeb's home in Dheisheh camp and continued to work in filmmaking, set up a media NGO that trains women filmmakers. She and Najeeb have also produced a lovely family.

When they were gifted with a son, they called him Ismael, in memory of Suheir's dead brother. The name has given the young boy some trouble, as it matches the name of the deputy head of the Palestinian intelligence service, Ismael Farraj (who is Najeeb's older brother).

The young Ismael, however, seems to have adopted points of view a little to the left of those of his pro-Fateh uncle. His leftist ideology has also incurred the wrath of the Israelis.

Described by friends and family as smart, clever and charismatic, the young Ismael Farraj became a supporter of the PLO's left-wing faction Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. At Al Quds University, where Ismael is a second-year law student, he became involved in the PFLP's student movement. As any active student, he would help with public events on and off campus.

Last October, Israeli soldiers sneaked into areas under Palestinian security rule and broke into the Farrajs' home, in Dheisheh camp and arrested young Ismael. He was charged with belonging to an illegal organisation.

Although the PFLP is part of the PLO, which has signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel in 1993, Israel has not removed the organisation from their long list of organisations it considers terrorist.

Ismael is also accused of having prepared chairs for public events and inciting people to throw stones. He, himself, is not accused of any violent act.

Since October 10, Ismael has been held at the Ofra detention facility near Ramallah. This is the first time Ismael was detained. His parents are banned from seeing him. No official explanation is given for this ban. Only his siblings, Lamis 17 and Ruba 14, are allowed to see him.

What is most upsetting to Ismael and his family is the relatively new Israeli policy (under Premier Benjamin Netanyahu) that bans books from prisons or detention centres. Israelis are allowing only three books per year, and of those, only textbooks.

This week, Ismael, who was brought to a hearing, told his family that he wishes they could get him a world atlas, which apparently is allowed under this weird textbook policy.

Palestinians are also prevented from pursuing education in prison, including the ability to apply for the Tawjihi matriculation test and for college education.

Palestinian prisoners have declared a prison-wide hunger strike. It began with 1,200 prisoners demanding basic rights, such as family visits (those with family in Gaza have not seen relatives since 2007), the ability to touch and hug children and family members and to apply for high school and college degrees, as well as have regular books brought in. They are also calling for an end to administrative detentions.

Israel violated international law when it transferred Gaza prisoners to Israel and has continued to flaunt international humanitarian law by preventing prisoners, since June 2007, to see their families. Barring parents also seems to be used as an unauthorised punishment, as in Ismael's case.

It might help if international celebrities like George Clooney , Angolina Jolie and Richard Gere who have championed world issues would also champion these basic rights of Palestinians including that of family visits and the right of a parent even in prison to hug their children during visits.

It would be commendable to see Nobel Literature laureates sign a statement calling on Israel to stop the policy of banning books for Palestinian prisoners.

It would be great if universities around the world and academics would push Israel to allow prisoners to take the high school examination and enroll in distance college education.

It would be great if Jewish religious and secular leaders whose history and culture highlight the importance of books and being a light unto nations would protest denial of books to Palestinian prisoners.

One might disagree with the cause of the conflict or the reasons for jailing people, but even prisoners have their rights protected and safeguarded by international law and basic common sense.

Ismael's father expects his son to be sentenced to about two years. The big question, however, for Ismael and all other prisoners, is what will happen once they end their prison term and what will they think of how the world acted when they were being punished.

Palestinian Arts Festival in Minneapolis May 3 through 6, 2012

Westminster Presbyterian Church, Minneapolis
[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]  

On May 3 through 6, 2012, Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church will host a Palestinian Arts Festival. It will celebrate music, painting, film, dance, poetry and commentary by Palestinians.
The opening event at noon (CDT) on Thursday, May 3rd, will be a Westminster Town Hall Forum presentation entitled “Playing for Peace in Gaza” by Patrick McGrann. A Minnesota native, McGrann has spent the last 15 years creating toys and events for young people living in the midst of violence.  He now lives in Gaza where he has taught at the Islamic University, lead the rebuilding of the American International School and developed educational partnerships between the Middle East and the West. The Forum is free and open to the public and broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio. The Forum is preceded by a half-hour of free music and followed by a free reception and a discussion group.

Later that same day (May 3rd) at 7:30 p.m. at the Women’s Club of Minneapolis (410 Oak Grove Street) 14 young dancers from the Diyar Dance Theatre of Bethlehem, Palestine will perform. Tickets at $10 are available at Westminster on Sundays or on the web. Starting at 5:00 p.m. the public is welcome to dine at the Women’s Club; call 612-813-5300 for reservations. A reception with dessert will follow the performance.
Diyar Dance
 On Friday, May 4th, at 6:00 p.m. an art exhibit, Room for Hope, opens at Westminster.  It brings realistic, abstract and provocative images by Palestinian artists expressing their visions of the present and their hopes for the future.
Ibtisam Barakat (Steve Fisch credit)
 Also on Friday, May 4th, at 7:30 p.m. will be a concert at Westminster. Ibtisam Barakat will present her “Freedom Doors Made of Poems.” She grew up in Ramallah, West Bank, and now lives in the U.S. Her work focuses on healing social injustices and the hurts of wars, especially those involving young people. Ibtisam emphasizes that conflicts are more likely to be resolved with creativity, kindness, and inclusion rather than with force, violence, and exclusion. The concert will also include Palestinian musicians playing music from their homeland.
On Saturday, May 5th at 1:00 p.m. a Palestinian Short Film Festival will be presented in Westminster’s Great Hall.
Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb

The concluding event of the Festival will be part of Westminster’s Sunday worship service on May 6th at 10:30 a.m. (CDT). Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb of Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, Palestine will be the preacher. Palestinian musicians will lead the world debut of specially commissioned music during the service. Our guests will sing in Arabic while Westminster members and others sing in English. For those who cannot attend the service, it is live-streamed and subsequently archived on the web.

This historic Festival is the outgrowth of Westminster’s partnership with the Christmas Church and of mission trips to that church by Westminster members. (Westminster also has partnerships with churches and other organizations in Brazil, Cameroon and Cuba.)

Evangelical Christmas Church 
*******************



The Middle East has the largest number of stateless and internally displaced peoples in the world, and recent upheavals have caused these numbers to surge...

 

"... Recent upheavals have made borders far more porous: We have seen this in Syria, in Sinai and across the Sahel region, where a huge cache of weapons systems have crossed the border from Libya. The Middle East has the largest number of stateless and internally displaced peoples in the world, and recent upheavals have caused these numbers to surge. The U.N. estimates that well over 1 million people fled Libya to border countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Niger and Chad. Archipelagoes of the dispossessed exist throughout the region. Locking down weapons-usable material and the weapons-based underground economy has never been more difficult. The potential for nuclear terrorism within the region has never been greater.

The United States would not be wise to pivot too far or too fast. There is too much that has been left undone. America can help in three ways. First by focusing on the resourcefulness of the people of this region rather than the resources of their governments. The Middle East is the most militarized region of the world, yet nowhere else is insecurity such a physical and psychological fact of life. Programs that support start-up culture, creative enterprises and local good governance, or which provide training opportunities and micro-loans, actively combat anti-Western propaganda, promote social cohesion and propagate "human security." People with hopes and opportunities do not become terrorists.

The second thing America can do is foster better relations between states within the region. The frameworks that connect West Asia and North Africa are ad hoc and personalized to an excessive degree. A lack of regional institutions means that when tensions rise, there is no release valve, and conflict is made all the more likely. At present no body exists to coordinate water and energy policy between countries, despite the fact these resources are shared, take no account of national boundaries and are quickly depleting. There is no Council for Security and Cooperation in the region.

Thirdly and finally, America can renew its legacy in the Middle East, and its image in the world, by bringing about a firm, just and equitable settlement to the peace process.

The move to project American leadership in the Asia-Pacific region through economic growth, regional security and enduring values, in the words of Hillary Clinton, is broadly based on the three elements of the 1975 Helsinki Act: security, economic and technical cooperation, and human rights. Taken together, they form the foundation of a promising new blueprint for relations not just with the Asia-Pacific region but with West Asia too."

U.S. can't abandon the Middle East

In making a foreign policy 'pivot' toward Asia, the U.S. shouldn't turn its back on the Arab world. 

 [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.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-hassan-middle-east-engagement-20120417,0,5003522.story

My grandfather’s key By Hani Azzam

"Can he still admire his father’s noble and generous decision to share his house, floor by floor, with a Jewish couple fleeing the Nazi Holocaust and British officers stationed in Haifa, knowing now that these guests would not fear for their lives nor have to abandon the home on that fateful spring day?"
Photo cedit:Glen Edelson via Flickr Creative Commons
 [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]  
Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
 
Generally, we use the word “key” to describe positive things. A business may purport to hold the “the key to success”; lovers will give each other “the keys to their hearts”; a coach boosts morale by telling his athletes that they are all “key players.” A key connotes the ability to open doors that seem shut, a burgeoning of possibilities, the power to surmount barriers. I’ve noticed that as I grow older, the number of keys I own has grown with my responsibilities: My first key was to a piggy bank that guarded the precious dollars I would save from lemonade stands opened with my neighbors. Later on, my house keys let me into my home, representing membership in my family and the trust they placed in me. My car keys came along and allowed me to travel, see friends and attend events. Now, my room key grants me a solitary space inside a hectic college life, a home away from home.

Yet one key haunts me to this day: my grandfather’s key.

It’s an old key, long and thin and somewhat out of place, as if it belonged in the Victorian era along with top hats, walking canes and Charles Dickens. I can see its former glory, imagine it opening a stately door to a magnificent house. I feel vestiges of the importance and power its owner must have felt knowing what it represented. The maturation of a poor, fatherless boy, who left his ancestral home for the city in search of success, into a wealthy, influential man who provided a magnificent home for his wife, six kids, extended family members, servants and drivers. The key was good then. It opened doors and signified success and ownership. As it jangled in his pocket, it must have reminded this man of the rewards of hard work and good fortune and inspired faith in future possibilities.

The key is cold to my touch now. It has not opened anything in 64 years. Its vibrancy and aura have dulled along with its shine and color. As I hold it, it feels as though, year after year, its New Year’s resolution fails and depression and sadness inflict the same, weighing toll on it as they do on us. I cannot imagine it being this heavy in my great−grandfather’s hand, 64 years ago, when he would nimbly unlock the door after work and find his young son waiting by the door for him.

As I turn the key over in my palm, I see a momentary glimmer in my grandfather’s eye as he tells me how each time he heard the lock twist, he would jump up from his seat to greet his father. The glimmer, however, is fleeting, and his old eyes harden again, as if his temporary lapse of nostalgia has left him vulnerable to a harsh reality. By reminding my grandfather of the happiness that the key created in a previous life, it reopens the still fresh wounds inflicted when that life was ripped from him.

My grandfather watched his home fade beyond the horizon 64 years ago, when he and his family escaped the fall of Haifa. He was 11 years old at the time. Like his key, my grandfather’s tragedy bears heavier and heavier on him as the years pass. He is now 76. Though he left Palestine so many years ago, Palestine never left him. Just as his key carries thousands of beautiful memories tinged, stained, corrupted by the tragedy of its parting, my grandfather carries Palestine within his heart. His idyllic childhood, his loving family, his closest friends, all in some way overshadowed by the catastrophe that caused them to disappear. How can he remember his home, built three stories high by his uncle, without seeing the key I now hold in my grasp lock its door for the last time? Can he still admire his father’s noble and generous decision to share his house, floor by floor, with a Jewish couple fleeing the Nazi Holocaust and British officers stationed in Haifa, knowing now that these guests would not fear for their lives nor have to abandon the home on that fateful spring day? He cannot recall the view from his porch atop Mount Carmel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea without looking back up its slopes at tank barrels opening fire on the docks where his family crowded, along with thousands of other Arabs, with the hopes of boarding one boat among the armada of makeshift vessels frantically setting sail into the sea.

While Friends of Israel at Tufts readies itself to celebrate Israeli Independence day, I implore them and the readership of this publication to remember that, like a key or a beautiful memory, a celebration of independence can evoke more pain and sorrow than the joy and happiness that its name may entail. Palestinians mark Israeli independence as Al−Nakba, the great “catastrophe.” By “catastrophe,” we don’t mean the creation of a Jewish homeland; rather, we mean the forced removal (through fear and violence) of three−quarters of a million Palestinians whose ancestral threads bound them up with the land so tightly that it required a brutally ruthless, severing cut, rather than a methodical yet deceitful unwinding to separate these people from their homeland. Just as a key may lock us out of the very place we wish to enter or happy memories may become unbearable with the pain that ended them, independence may be irrevocably stained by oppression and exodus. Celebrating independence each year will not erase its mutilated meaning for Palestinian citizens of Israel, nor will the exaltation of Jewish self−determination ever extinguish the desire of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and establish a state of their own.

The key remains in my hand; its cool metal sends shivers up my arm. “Why do you keep it?” I ask my grandfather.

“I don’t keep it,” he replies, “it just never left.”

Hani Azzam is a freshman majoring in international relations.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Yesterday #Israeli forces bulldozed a field of 2000 sq meters of #Palestinian land planted with beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and cauliflowers.


Yesterday #Israeli forces bulldozed a field of 2000 sq meters of #Palestinian land planted with beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and cauliflowers.
The General Delegation of the Palestine Liberation to the US (formerly the PLO Mission to the United States) received its current status in 1994 as a result of the Oslo Accords signed by Israel and the PLO in September 1993. At the time of its establishment in 1978, the Mission was known as the Palestine Information Office. In 1988 it became the Palestine Affairs Center and maintained that status until 1994 when it became known as the PLO Mission. In 2010 the PLO mission officially was renamed to the PLO Delegation of the United States
 

My letters 4-17-2012 RE Israel, Iran & Palestine... & the poet Günter Grass


RE: letters No comparison Re "Compare Israel to Iran?, " Postscript, April 14 & Gunter Grass' controversial poem on Israel and Iran
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/letters/

Dear Editor,

Israeli agents and supporters are obviously outraged that Günter Grass, a Nobel Prize winning highly respected poet, dared notice and speak out carefully expressing his concern about Israel's war mongering.  His detractors' furious response and their eagerness to lambaste, belittle and dismiss Grass and his observations rather than thinking seriously about what Grass tried to say- and examining closely what Israel really is and what Israel really does is tragic.... and dangerous.

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab



******************************
RE: Gunter Grass's Tin Ear: 'The Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz,' runs a mind-bending quip. By Josef Joffe 
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304299304577347871489771432.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Dear Editor,

April is national poetry month. What fun to see a poem getting so much attention! Kudos to Günter Grass for daring to poke the hornets nest knowing the response was sure to be a swarm of rage from Israeli agents and Hasbara specialists who want the West to remain oblivious about what Israel really is and what Israel really does: Day after day for decades Israel has been flagrantly violating international law and the Palestinians basic human rights.

Shocked and sickened by the horrors of the Holocaust the United Nations carefully thought about and explained Universal Basic Human Rights:  Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood... Günter Grass's poem reflects the spirit of that. Josef Joffe's response does not. 

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab


******************************
RE: John Bolton's Israel is not the threat, Mr. Obama. Iran is.
http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2012/0403/Israel-is-not-the-threat-Mr.-Obama.-Iran-is/%28page%29/2

Dear Editor,

Mr. Bolton, once again is wrong: Right now Israel really is a threat, as are all the many Israeli agents, propagandists, advisers and provocateurs on every "side" who prefer to push the world towards more and more war, bigotry and bad investments rather than focus in on actually ending the Israel-Palestine conflict with a just and lasting peace. 

Israel is in long term and blatant violation of international law and the Palestinians' basic human rights on multiple counts... The real existential challenge is understanding that identity is an ongoing process. Does Israel want to be known as the nation that created the largest longest running refugee crisis in the world today, or does it want to be known as a beacon of hope and a Golden Rule role model for all who have been persecuted because of their supposed race or religion.

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

NOTES
"The traffic jam is a metaphor of our life stymied under Israeli occupation." ...This Week In Palestine

Attacks on Palestinians have increased by 50 percent from last year


Welcome to Palestine: Israel 'pretends to be a democracy'


VOANews: Israel Blocks ‘Fly-in’ by Pro-Palestinian Activists



A bookcase opens to reveal the steps up to Anne Frank's secret annex
 

Thank Secretary Clinton for Standing Up for Palestinian Aid... supporting work for peace and justice in the Holy Land.

Last week Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton informed Congress that aid for Palestinians that had been already appropriated would be sent despite a hold placed on the aid by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Thank Secretary Clinton for standing up for vulnerable Palestinian civilians by sending her a message below.


On April 11th the State Department sent a letter to members of Congress notifying them that it will go ahead with the $147 million aid package to the Palestinian Authority for fiscal year 2011, despite a congressional hold placed by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Projects to be funded include rebuilding Christian sites such as Burqeen Church, a Christian sanctuary dating to the early Byzantine era near Jenin, and a traditional site of the Nativity story’s shepherd's field near Bethlehem, as well as addressing humanitarian concerns through projects supporting water programs, health, food aid, and support for USAID programming.  One non-governmental organization (NGO) that will likely receive funding is the Princess Basma Centre, a national referral, rehabilitation and educational network that ensures continued support for children with special needs and their families, in East Jerusalem. 

Dear Madam Secretary,

As a supporter of Churches for Middle East Peace, I would like to thank you for your courageous decision this month to release $147 million in U.S. assistance funds that had been withheld by Congress for projects to assist Palestinian development.  Funding for the Palestinian’s civil and security needs will lay the groundwork for a viable Palestinian state living in peace alongside a secure Israel and will help ensure a stable future for both Palestinians and Israelis.

Funding humanitarian and economic development projects strengthens the capacity to govern, provides hope, and undercuts the despair that can contribute to violence. With your leadership the U.S. will remain an example for other nations to continue supporting work for peace and justice in the Holy Land.


Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace is a coalition of 24 national Church denominations and organizationsincluding Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions. It works to encourage U.S. government policies that actively promote a just, lasting and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ensuring security, human rights and religious freedom for all people of the region.

Aref Assaf: Gov. Chris Christie should not have skipped Palestine on Israel trip

Published: Monday, April 16, 2012 
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http://blog.nj.com/dr_aref_assaf/2012/04/gov_chris_christie_should_not_have_skipped_palestine_on_israel_trip.html
Gov. Chris Christie and First Lady Mary Pat Christie look out over the city of Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives during their trip to Israel on Monday, April 2.
On March 29, just before Gov. Chris Christie’s trip to Israel, I tweeted him an invitation to visit my mother in the Palestinian refugee camp, Kalandia, which lies at the now-infamous checkpoint that separates Israel from the occupied West Bank.

I sent it after learning Christie had no plans to visit the Palestinian territories or to meet with average Palestinians or Palestinian officials. My 87-year-old mother has lived in her wretched refugee camp since she and my late father were forcibly expelled from their native village, Allar, destroyed in 1948 by Jewish terrorist groups.

The governor didn’t accept my invitation.

For a governor who said he will "tread lightly" and wanted the visit to be educational, ignoring the Palestinian elephant in the room sent a contradictory message. Many speculated his trip was intended to raise his stature as he contemplates national office. If this were true, Christie broke a precedent set by many dignitaries before him, who did visit the Palestinian territories.

Christie himself denied this explanation, giving instead three Jersey-centered reasons for the trip.
First, he noted, Israel is a significant, long-term trading partner for New Jersey. His office signaled this commercial relationship as a key reason for his visit. Yet 2010 U.S. Census data shows Israel ranks a middling 14 among the top 25 countries that trade with our state, based on 2011 dollar value. If trade was a motivation, he should have visited our biggest trading partner: Canada.

Second, the governor pointed out New Jersey has a sizable Jewish population, the second largest in the nation. And he is correct. Yet, if population size were all that mattered, the governor would have been better off visiting England, Ireland or Italy. Moreover, there are more than twice as many Muslims and Arabs in New Jersey than Jews, according to data from the Association of Religious Data Archives.

Third, the governor indicated New Jersey and Israel have much in common, including their size. In fact, Israel is one of the few countries in the world that has never defined its boundaries. Other nations, including the United States, do not recognize Israel’s legal right to Jerusalem and the West Bank, yet Israel has — against international will — annexed a significant part of Arab Jerusalem. In the rest of the West Bank, Israel has built hundreds of illegal settlements for Jews only, on expropriated Arab lands.

Israel is an occupying country. Since 1967, it has controlled the lives of millions of Palestinians under an oppressive military regime whose legal system is not designed to procure justice, but to serve the interests of the occupying forces. Unlike New Jersey, Israel is not a country for all its citizens...READ MORE
 

Palestinian PM to set out grounds for negotiation with Israel

Salam Fayyad to deliver Binyamin Netanyahu letter describing conditions under which Palestinians will resume talks
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The Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, who is expected to deliver a letter to his Israeli counterpart. Photograph: Atef Safadi/EPA
in Jerusalem 
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 17 April 2012

The Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, is to deliver a letter to his Israeli counterpart in the pair's first ever meeting, setting out the grounds on which the Palestinians are prepared to resume negotiations and warning that the status quo cannot continue.

The letter, from Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, will say the Palestinian Authority (PA), set up under the 1993 Oslo accords, has "lost its raison d'être", according to local media accounts. However, Abbas will not threaten its dissolution, a move advocated by some who say Israel must take full responsibility for the territory it occupies and that the PA provides it with a figleaf.

Instead Abbas warns that the two sides must "avoid sliding towards the one-state option, especially as the current status quo cannot continue". It restates four key issues:

• A Palestinian state on pre-1967 borders.
• A halt to settlement activity.
• The release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
• Adherence to previous agreements.

The letter also demands a positive response from Israel in order for negotiations to resume.
"Israel talks about a two-state solution without taking a single step towards that solution," Abbas told reporters this week while touring Asia.

The letter, in which the president also stresses his commitment to non-violence, has gone through many drafts during which its contents have been subject to international diplomatic pressure. "It has been watered down, especially under pressure from the Americans," said one western diplomat....READ MORE

Palestinian children take part in a rally in front of the Red Cross headquarters in Gaza City marking Palestinian Prisoners Day April 17, 2012. The Israeli Prisons Authority said on Tuesday in a written statement that 2,300 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails have said they would reject their daily meal in support of Palestinian Prisoners Day and 1,200 would launch hunger strikes. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

 
Palestinians perform a play depicting Palestinian prisoners in an Israeli jail in Gaza City on April 16, 2012 on the eve of Prisoners' Da. (AFP Photo/Mahmud HamsPalestinians across the West Bank and Gaza Strip were on Tuesday to mark Prisoners' Day in solidarity with the thousands of Palestinians in Israeli jails...Of the Palestinians currently detained, some 320 are being held under administrative detention orders, whereby they are held without charge for renewable six-month periods, the prisoners' ministry says.

 
A Syrian refugee boy gestures as he stands in front of the fence at Yayladagi refugee camp in Hatay province near the Turkish-Syrian border April 17, 2012. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Sunday, April 15, 2012

AlertNet News Blog - Development in Arab world masks high food insecurity

 http://www.trust.org/alertnet/blogs/alertnet-news-blog/development-in-arab-world-masks-high-food-insecurity/

By Katie Nguyen
It's already a year since rising food prices helped ignite protests that gave us our biggest news story in 2011 - the Arab Spring.

Popular anger over high food prices fuelled resentment that was already there; resentment about the inequalities between rich and poor, the widespread corruption and oppression in the region - fostered by its ageing, autocratic rulers.

Food security in the Arab world is once again in the spotlight this week as Beirut hosts a conference, bringing together leading thinkers in fields relating to food security - economics, agriculture, trade, water, health and nutrition.

"Given the development level and the income level in the Arab world in general, food insecurity is much higher than in the rest of the world," economist Clemens Breisinger tells me.

Using new, diverse sources of data, his International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) reportshows that ensuring food security - the availability of food and people's access to it - is particularly difficult in the Arab region (which in the report encompasses Arab League members Turkey and Iran). It says poverty and income inequality rates in the region are higher than officials numbers have suggested.

Breisinger cites the Arab world's dependency on food imports as a reason why it is especially vulnerable to global price volatility.
 
Other challenges include rising food demand driven by the second highest population growth in the world after sub-Saharan Africa and limited potential for agricultural production due to a lack of water, he says.

"Officially, less than 20 percent of the population in the Arab region lives under the $2/day poverty line, but income-only measures can be misleading," IFPRI said in a press release.

"Child undernutrition rates, an alternate and arguably more comprehensive measure of food security, are high and have not decreased with GDP growth to the same extent as other regions in the world."

It said in the Arab region, one in five children is stunted but the prevalence of child undernutrition in countries like Sudan and Yemen is double that or even higher.

Women hold their children as they wait for food from the World Food Programme (WFP) in the north-western Yemeni city of Hajja in this photo from June 2010. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Welcome to Palestine: Israel 'pretends to be a democracy'

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(MaanImages/Eva Pilipp)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Organizers of the Welcome to Palestine campaign said Sunday that the first day of the initiative has been a success, despite the fact that only two activists had been able to enter the West Bank.

"It was a success at a media level, but it was not a success at a human level in the sense that we were not able to have our friends with us," coordinator Abdul-Fatah Abu Srour told reporters in Bethlehem.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that 45 people had been refused entry at Ben Gurion airport by the evening and would be deported.

Nine Israeli supporters, some holding "Welcome to Palestine" signs, were also detained as they waited to greet the arrivals.

Organizer Mazin Qumsiyeh said that two participants had arrived on Sunday via Ben Gurion airport, but were not asked where they were going by Israeli authorities.

A total of between 15-20 people have managed to enter the West Bank so far to participate in the week's agricultural, cultural and artistic events.

One of the activists, a French citizen, said that 31 out of 50 people in her group were barred from boarding their flight in Lyon airport, with the others prevented from entering Israel upon their arrival at Ben Gurion.
A French activist who arrived in Bethlehem addresses press conference (MaanImages/Eva Pilipp)
The Welcome to Palestine campaign was expecting around 1,500 people to arrive, but so far hundreds have been barred from boarding flights to Tel Aviv.

Earlier, organizers told Israeli daily Haaretz that more than 60 percent of the expected 1,500 had flights canceled by airlines, after Israel circulated a blacklist of passengers and warned it would fine carriers.

Organizers say Israel is subcontracting the occupation and asking others to do its dirty work, in reference to international airlines preventing participants from boarding their flights.

Some 25 organizations have invited internationals to visit Palestine from April 15-21 as part of the Welcome to Palestine week. Israel has denounced participants as provocateurs intent on confrontation with Israeli security forces.

The campaign has asked its guests to be open about their plans to visit the West Bank.

"We have shown that Israel pretends it is the only democracy in the Middle East," coordinator Abdul-Fatah Abu Srour said.

VOANews: Israel Blocks ‘Fly-in’ by Pro-Palestinian Activists


Demonstrators sit as around 100 pro-Palestinian activists stage a protest at Brussels national airport in Zaventem, Israel, early April 15, 2012.
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 International activists launching a “Welcome to Palestine” campaign have gotten an unfriendly welcome from Israel. 

Israel has blocked a “fly-in” by hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists who planned to arrive at the airport near Tel Aviv, on their way to a solidarity visit in the West Bank.

Airlines in Europe canceled the tickets of more than 100 campaigners after Israel issued a blacklist. Dozens of activists who managed to arrive at the airport were detained by Israeli authorities and will be deported.

Israel, which followed the “Welcome to Palestine” campaign on Facebook, charges that participants were planning disruptions at the airport and protests in the West Bank. 

“It is very unfortunate that we are once again facing the kind of provocation coming from extremists from different countries," said Yuli Edelstein, Israeli Cabinet Minister. "Those who will make it to Israel will not be allowed to create any disorder.”

Palestinian organizer Abdul Fatah abu Suroor says Israel is blocking a peace mission.

“They are coming to Palestine," said Fatah. "They are not coming to make destruction, or explode airports, or attacking Israelis. They are coming to share a bit of humanity and support the Palestinian people despite being under occupation.” 


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Orthodox Easter 2012 - in pictures Eastern Orthodox churches, which observe the ancient Julian calendar, usually celebrate Easter later than western churches

Worshippers hold candles as they take part in the Christian Orthodox Holy Fire ceremony at the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's old city Photograph: Nir Elias/Reuters
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