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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Israeli Arabs mark 'Nakba' in march

Arab Israeli protestors march for the right of return for Palestinian refugees who fled their homes or were expelled during the 1948 war that followed the creation of the state of Israel, in the village of Abu Sinan in northern Israel. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)
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Thousands of Israeli Arabs Thursday marked the "Nakba" or "catastrophe" that accompanied Israel's foundation in a march to where two Arab villages existed before 1948, an AFP journalist said.

Bearing Palestinian flags and banners with names of displaced villages, the procession left Abu Snan in northern Israel for the nearby Kibbutz of Beit Haemek, which was established on the grounds of Kweikat and Omqa villages.

The marchers chanted slogans against peace negotiations with Israel and in favour of Hamas-Fatah Palestinian reconciliation, the correspondent said.

They also bore signs saying "no peace without the right of return," which is claimed by Palestinian communities in the diaspora but rejected by Israel.

It was the fifteenth such march, which each year commemorates different displaced communities.
Ali Ali, who currently lives in the town of Deir Hanna in the Galilee, told AFP he was from a family that was displaced near Tiberias. "I'm here to show my solidarity with all of those displaced from their homes," he said.

To Ahlam Taha, a woman in her twenties from Kafr Kana, the march was "to commemorate a very important memory, which is the day we left everything. We are still suffering the repercussions of this. Their independence is our Nakba.

"With God's help the day will come when all the displaced return to their land and have real independence for Palestine, not Israel."

Israel was on Thursday celebrating the 64th anniversary of its foundation, in accordance with the Hebrew calendar.

Palestinians traditionally mark on May 15 the "Nakba" when hundreds of thousands of them fled or were expelled from their homes in the war that accompanied Israel's declaration of independence.

More than 760,000 Palestinians -- estimated today to number 4.7 million with their descendants -- fled or were driven out of their homes in the Arab-Israeli war which followed Israel's establishment.

Around 160,000 Palestinians stayed behind and are now known as Arab Israelis. They number about 1.3 million people, or some 20 percent of the population.

Arab Israeli protestors hold up signs with the names of towns they have lost as they march for the right of return for Palestinian refugees who fled their homes or were expelled during the 1948 war that followed the creation of the state of Israel, in the village of Abu Sinan in northern Israel. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)


Beyond 'Free Palestine' by Julie Holm for MIFTAH

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Date posted: 25/04/2012
By: Julie Holm for MIFTAH

Anyone walking in the streets of Ramallah, Bethlehem or Hebron lately might have noticed that some of the bare walls of the cities are no longer boring and grey. Last week one of the most famous Danish street artists HuskMitNavn (RememberMyName) visited Palestine and decorated its walls together with young Palestinian artists. I watched, from the cool shades on the other side of the street as one of HuskMitNavn’s pieces came into being. It started out as what looked mostly like a blue splash of paint but ended up being two people on rollerblades and skateboard, with a message to keep moving.

Palestinians are not unfamiliar with street art. The wall cutting through the West Bank carries appeals for freedom and messages of solidarity from around the world. Internationally renowned street artists like Banksy, Blu and many others have called for the freedom of Palestine through their art on the wall that is the very symbol of Israel’s apartheid regime.

The artists HuskMitNavn met in Palestine were young and still trying to find their language as graffiti artists. Something that made an impression on him was how absolutely every piece that prides the walls of Palestine has a political message. He hopes that he, in interacting with the young Palestinian artists could inspire them to develop this message through their art and plant the seeds to a wider use of the visual arts. In his own words he tried to give them more letters in the alphabet to work with.

Before HuskMitNavn travelled to the West Bank, he did not know a lot about the occupation and oppression going on here. His pieces portray many of the stereotypical roles we imagine Palestinians to have: In Hebron he painted a yellow flying carpet carrying a man with a large, black, mustache and a steering wheel in his hands – a taxi driver. A Palestinian artist HuskMitNavn worked with in Hebron wrote ‘iftah tariq’ – “open the road’ or ‘give way’ around the painting. Just like that, the taxi driver became a political symbol, calling to remove the checkpoints and open the Israeli-controlled roads for everyone to use.

In the still growing Palestinian street art culture a new generation is taking over. They try to push the messages further than just ‘Free Palestine’ because, as one of the artists in HuskMitNavn’s project says; “no one disagrees with that here”. They challenge the Palestinian society from within and take up taboos such as gender, religion and corruption. Further, they try to reach out and communicate directly with people in their everyday life, therefore they paint on the walls in the city and they stay away from the political figures that usually are the preferred motifs.

Street art has the potential of reaching everyone who passes it. Upon till now, the most popular message has been the one most important to every Palestinian; that of freedom, but there are many other aspects that need to be addressed for Palestine to be free. The social and political conditions inside Palestine needs to be put into question which could be achieved by the new generation of Palestinian street artists if they manage to go beyond the clich├ęs. Lately Palestinian street art has transcended this message and takes on issues surrounding the call for a free Palestine. The pieces decorating the walls of Palestine now remind its people of the importance of their existence, to keep moving and not to give up.

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

 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My letters RE Israel-Palestine conflict 4-24-2012


RE:  Peace Without Partners By AMI AYALON, ORNI PETRUSCHKA and GILEAD SHER
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/24/opinion/peace-without-partners.html?_r=1

Dear Editor,

Unilateral actions by Jews-preferred Israel has created the situation that we have today, with Palestinian men, women and children persecuted, oppressed and displaced at every turn:  Israel needs to stop violating international law and the Palestinians basic human rights.

A fully secular two state solution is the best way forward. UN Resolution 194 from 1948 makes it completely clear that Palestinian refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest possible date. 

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

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RE:  ‘60 Minutes’ does hatchet job on Israel: CBS piece on Christians’ plight in Middle East — in Israel? by Jennifer Rubin
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/post/cbs-piece-on-christians-plight-in-middle-east--in-israel/2012/04/23/gIQA9NXocT_blog.html

Dear Editor,

Israel has been doing a hatchet job on Palestinians for decades now- and covering up its crimes with media campaigns and "diplomacy" designed to coerce American taxpayers and charities into funding and exasperating Israel's rampant institutionalized bigotry and ongoing violations of international law and the Palestinians basic human rights... Islamists can not help but look to Israel's current economic success and political power as a role model for how to survive and thrive.

Religion should be a personal private matter, not a state funded preference. 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 way towards shaping a just and lasting peace and a better role model for the entire world.

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

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sent via their feedback form

Dear CBS

THANK YOU for noticing the plight of the Palestinians- and for refusing to be bullied into complicit silence. I thought your April 22 2012 segment "Christians of the Holy Land... Why are they leaving?" was suburb.  It was balanced and fair, and told a very true, very difficult, very tragic story quite well. 

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab


April 22, 2012

Christians of the Holy Land

The exodus from the Holy Land of Palestinian Christians could eventually leave holy cities like Jerusalem and Bethlehem without a local Christian population. Bob Simon reports.

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NOTES

UN Resolution 194 Article 11: [The General Assembly]
Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest possible date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the governments or authorities responsible; instructs the Conciliation Commission to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation, and to maintain close relations with the Director of the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees and, through him, with the appropriate organs and agencies of the United Nations.

Demolition watch: The Israeli practice of demolishing homes, basic infrastructure and sources of livelihoods continues to devastate Palestinian families and communities in East Jerusalem and the 60 per cent of the West Bank controlled by Israel, known as Area C.

"No Ordinary Place: Writers and Writing in Occupied Palestine," Rima Najjar Merriman: "Displacement, exile, and alienation from the world, but also endurance, ultimately, are at the heart of the Palestinian story. More than 600,000 Palestinian refugees were refused the right of return to their homeland by the newly established Jewish State of Israel in 1948. There are today an estimated 6 million Palestinian refugees, 1.4 million of whom live in fifty-eight recognized refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Over four hundred Palestinian villages were physically erased, and the Palestinians who did manage to stay in what is now Israel proper (about 1.5 million today) continue to be discriminated against and denied basic rights"...READ MORE

UN: Israel displaced 67 Palestinian refugees over the last week (22/04/2012)

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.

"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

My grandfather’s key By Hani Azzam


The Kairos Palestine Document: A call to our Palestinian people and to the Israelis
9.1 This is a call to see the face of God in each one of God’s creatures and overcome the barriers of fear or race in order to establish a constructive dialogue and not remain within the cycle of never-ending manoeuvres that aim to keep the situation as it is. Our appeal is to reach a common vision, built on equality and sharing, not on superiority, negation of the other or aggression, using the pretext of fear and security. We say that love is possible and mutual trust is possible. Thus, peace is possible and definitive reconciliation also. Thus, justice and security will be attained for all. 
The Madonna and Child with a goldfinch   
 Albertino Piazza da Lodi (Lodi 1490-1528/9)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

60 Minutes: Christians of the Holy Land... Why are they leaving? For some, life in the middle of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become too difficult.


EXODUS / TONIGHT ON 60 MINUTES: The exodus from the Holy Land of Palestinian Christians could eventually leave holy cities like Jerusalem and Bethlehem without a local Christian population, Bob Simon reports tonight on 60 Minutes.

Why are they leaving? For some, life in the middle of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become too difficult.

Watch “Christians of the Holy Land,” tonight, Sunday, at 7 p.m. ET/PT

This piece and the entire broadcast will be viewable online after the show at 60Minutes.com: http://bitly.com/A1Eybn





60 Minutes Overtime

The last Christian village in the Holy Land »



Demolition watch

Anne Paq/Activestills.org
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The Israeli practice of demolishing homes, basic infrastructure and sources of livelihoods continues to devastate Palestinian families and communities in East Jerusalem and the 60 per cent of the West Bank controlled by Israel, known as Area C.

Demolition = dispossession

Many of the people affected already live in poverty, and demolitions are a leading cause of their ongoing displacement and dispossession in the West Bank.

The impact of home demolitions on children can be particularly devastating. Many children affected by demolitions show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. Their academic achievement often suffers.

Demolitions also lead to a significant deterioration in living conditions. Families and communities face increased poverty and long-term instability, as well as limited access to basic services, such as education, health care, water and sanitation.

The permit predicament

In order to build homes in East Jerusalem and Area C, Palestinians must apply for a permit from the Israeli authorities, who control these areas. The vast majority of demolition orders are issued because a home or structure has been built without an Israeli permit.

Building without a permit means that the structure is considered “illegal” by Israeli authorities. Under the Israeli zoning policy, Palestinians can build in just 13 per cent of East Jerusalem and in just 1 per cent of Area C. In both cases these areas are already heavily built up.

Ultimately, the number of permits granted to Palestinians each year falls far below the demand. More than 94 per cent of all Palestinian permit applications have been rejected in recent years.

This means that when a family expands or a community wants to build infrastructure to meet its basic needs, the choice faced is between building without a permit, or not building at all. Many end up building to meet their immediate needs in the hope that they will be able to avoid demolition.

Sadly, the number of people affected by demolition continues to grow. The UN estimates that between 28 and 46 per cent of Palestinian homes could be at risk of demolition, leaving people living under a cloud of anxiety.

The stats

The table and graph below shows the number of people displaced and affected by demolitions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the start of 2011.

See a further breakdown of these statistics.

Number of displaced and affected Palestinians - previous 6 months
Month Oct Nov Dec Jan
2012
Feb
2012
Mar
2012
Total
Adults 160 106 271 107 153 92 889
Children 269 164 301 139 249 86 1208
Unknown 60 150 444 0 31 7 692
Total 489 420 1016 246 433 185 2789

Note: Displaced means people whose homes have been demolished. Affected is when a demolition has had an impact in other ways such as on people’s livelihoods or on basic services and utilities.

Protecting vulnerable refugees

In 2010, more than 10 per cent of people displaced by demolitions in East Jerusalem and Area C were refugees registered with UNRWA.

UNRWA seeks to protect refugees against infringements of their human rights, such as eviction, displacement, or restriction of movement. UNRWA monitors violations of international law and advocates for the protection of Palestine refugees’ rights. The Agency also provides emergency assistance to victims of house demolitions, evictions, and refugees whose property is damaged as a result of conflict.

Support our demand that Israel meet its obligations under international law

Immediately cease demolitions of Palestinian-owned homes, schools and infrastructure, which cause displacement and dispossession, until Palestinians have access to a fair and nondiscriminatory planning system. This should include community participation in all levels of the planning process;

Families that have been forcibly displaced must be allowed to return to their homes in safety and dignity, and be given compensation for any harm they have suffered, including the destruction of land, homes and property.
 

"No Ordinary Place: Writers and Writing in Occupied Palestine," Rima Najjar Merriman

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Like all Palestinians who have lived in historic Palestine since its fragmentation in 1948, Palestinian writers face enormous day-to-day challenges. Four contemporary Palestinian writers living in the occupied West Bank—Mahmoud Shukair, Suad Amiri, Sahar Khalifa, and Raja Shehadeh—are meeting these challenges, each with a unique and powerful voice.

In Palestinian writing, the historical, the political and the literary are inextricably entwined. The Arabic novel in general has had a history of transgression against the repressive regimes whose demise the world has recently witnessed. Writers have often used allegory and an odd mixture of fact and fiction to bypass censorship, as in, for example, several of Naguib Mahfouz’s novels. This trend of locating the powerful influence of government in people’s lives is sometimes viewed as a drawback, holding Arab writers back from more imaginative and literary modes of writing, but Palestinian writers feel that they have no choice in the matter and have succeeded in transcending the limitations of this genre.

Displacement, exile, and alienation from the world, but also endurance, ultimately, are at the heart of the Palestinian story. More than 600,000 Palestinian refugees were refused the right of return to their homeland by the newly established Jewish State of Israel in 1948. There are today an estimated 6 million Palestinian refugees, 1.4 million of whom live in fifty-eight recognized refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Over four hundred Palestinian villages were physically erased, and the Palestinians who did manage to stay in what is now Israel proper (about 1.5 million today) continue to be discriminated against and denied basic rights....READ MORE

Rima Najjar Merriman is a professor of English literature at Al Quds University. She is one of the contributing writers for the recently published Al Jazeera English - Global News in a Changing World, and she contributed a chapter on Palestinian children in the Greenwood Encyclopedia of Children’s Issues Worldwide.

UN: Israel displaced 67 Palestinian refugees over the last week (22/04/2012)

A boy surveys the rubble of his home in Azzun Atma near Qalqilia, demolished by
Israeli forces. (MaanImages/Khaleel Reash, File)
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BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel forcibly displaced 67 Palestinian refugees in East Jerusalem over the last week, UN agencies said Sunday.

On Wednesday, Israeli forces evicted two Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem's Beit Hanina. Jewish settlers moved into the homes the same day.

Also on Wednesday, Israeli authorities destroyed the homes of seven families in al-Khalayleh in East Jerusalem, displacing them for the third time in six months.

A day later, Israeli forces demolished and confiscated emergency tents provided to the families by humanitarian organizations, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the UN Relief and Works Agency said in a joint statement.

UNRWA's director in the West Bank Felipe Sanchez said the forced evictions broke international law.

"We urge the Israeli authorities to find an immediate solution to enable the Palestinian population of the occupied West Bank, to lead a normal life, in full realization of their rights," Sanchez said.

The head of OCHA's local office Ramesh Rajasingham added: "More than 1,500 Palestinians have lost their homes as a result of demolitions and evictions since the beginning of 2011.

"Forced evictions and demolitions cause extensive human suffering, increase humanitarian needs and vulnerability."