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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Palestinian passengers will be more tempted to read books after a new reading campaign is launched next week. A group of young writers are gathering books to put in mini-vans linking major cities in the West Bank, routes that can waste hours.

 http://www.themedialine.org/news/news_detail.asp?NewsID=36916
Library on the Move Written by Diana Atallah
Published Monday, January 14, 2013


Get In the Taxi, Pick Up a Book
Ramallah - Palestinian passengers will be more tempted to read books after a new reading campaign is launched next week. A group of young writers are gathering books to put in mini-vans linking major cities in the West Bank, routes that can waste hours.
Wiam Karyouti, a sales employee and a young writer, first thought of the campaign when a passenger next to him asked him if he had another book for him to read. “I usually read in the taxi and carry books with me. I handed him a novel and he gave it back to me at the end of the ride saying he would go buy it,” Karyouti told The Media Line.
The incident triggered Karyouti to think of ways to encourage reading and use the spare taxi time only to find that taxi drivers welcomed the initiative of putting books in their orange-painted service cars, which take up to seven passengers.
Karyouti and his colleagues at a young writers club called “Bastet Ibda" (Creativity Peddlers) volunteered to make their idea come true and advertised for the campaign through their Facebook pages.
Since their announcement on December 26, they have received 600 books donated by NGOs, publishing houses, intellectuals and individuals who came to the collecting points in different West Bank cities.
After the collecting ends this week, seven or eight will be available in a cloth bag near each driver in 311 taxis for passengers to read. “The topics range from religion, science history and arts, to novels and children books, because we think that parents might travel with their kids,” Karyouti added.
“We still need another 600 books, but we won’t distribute all of them at once. We plan to periodically renew new books in taxis," Karyouti explained. 
Intellectuals and young writers agree that reading is not very popular among Palestinians and think the education system and lack of government support has a role in pushing people away from reading. 
“I see the same groups of people in book readings,” says Karyouti, who hopes that when he publishes his first poetry book, he will rely on friends to encourage their connections to read it.
Abd El Salam Khaddash, the Reading Campaigns Manager at Tamer Community Education Institute, told The Media Line the Palestinian curriculum doesn’t make students thirsty for knowledge and learning.
Khaddash added that the curriculum depends on memorizing books by heart, and doesn’t encourage creative thinking.
Tamer championed reading campaigns for the past 20 years focusing on a different topic each year. Last year, their “Father: read for me” campaign events included distributing children books in the dentists’ waiting rooms.
Although Ramallah’s public library, not far from the city center, has more than 40,000 books in different topics and languages, it only served around 7,000 visitors of the city’s 30,000 inhabitants during 2012. Around 300,000 people live within the borders of the governorate of Ramallah and Al Bireh and neighboring villages.
“A few visitors come for the sake of reading, but we have housewives, workers and retired people who come to read for fun. Students visit because they are required to study and read for their research papers,” library supervisor Ruba Husseini told The Media Line.
In 2012, around 1,000 books were loaned to the library’s subscribers who pay a yearly fee that doesn’t exceed $10. Using the library is free of charge unless photocopying is needed.
Khaddash thinks that reading has become less of a priority these days. “I was a student in the eighties and people were eager to know what would happen next with their lives, especially politically,” he said.
Tamer works with 75 libraries in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and around 50 public schools libraries to encourage reading. “We think that the librarians can play a part in encouraging learning and education but their salaries are too low and some work as volunteers,” Khaddash said.
He added that there is a problem with both libraries. Some community libraries are the first facilities to be affected when the local municipalities face financial difficulties. Also, the absence of specific reading classes in many schools or using this class for exams studying makes school libraries less useful to students.
Hala Kaileh, the manager of a libraries enhancement project in the Ramallah Municipality, told The Media Line that the municipality is working to develop reading in the Palestinian society. The municipality set up a new children's library to help make reading a habit for children. “Content of books is important but the library looking good is important to attract visitors, and we’re working on developing the children's library and including a film room as well,” Kaileh said.
Karyouti is not worried if people decide to borrow or keep the books they read in the taxis for themselves. “If I win a reader, I wouldn’t mind losing a book,” he cheerfully told The Media Line.
Khaddash told The Media Line he is optimistic. “I interview hundreds of people for jobs, and I care less for their university marks. Now parents care more for their children to be educated rather than being at the top of their class,” he said.
Khaddash added that it’s not important that readers increase by a thousand, but rather to broaden the idea into the importance of education and reading in life.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Diplomacy in action- for peace & Palestine


letter I just sent my elected leaders via congress.org

Dear President Obama,

As your second term is to begin soon, people are hoping your second inaugural address will help steer this nation in more positive and productive directions.

Personally I hope that you will clearly and firmly voice support for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, for I am quite convinced that ending the Israel-Palestine conflict will have positive ramifications world wide. 

While your wife is shopping for an enchanting inauguration ball gown to wear to help visually convey the dignity of your office as well as reflect her own personal beauty, Palestinians are also using fabric to reflect the dignity of Palestine's struggle for peace and justice.

On Wednesday, Israeli forces tore down the tented village Bab al-Shams (Gate of the Sun), set up to protest Israel's plans to build the "E1" settlement on Palestinian land.

But the story continues- as it has for over sixty years- as another tent village for Palestine has appeared, northwest of Jerusalem, a tent village named al-Karamah (Dignity).

A fully secular two state solution to once and for ALL end the Israel-Palestine conflict must be based on full respect for international law and basic human rights, including but not limited to the Palestinian refugees right to return to original homes and lands as promised by the international community in 1948 when Israel achieved statehood.

DIPLOMACY IN ACTION The United States Office of International Religious Freedom has the mission of promoting religious freedom as a core objective of U.S. foreign policy:"Promote freedom of religion and conscience throughout the world as a fundamental human right and as a source of stability for all countries" http://www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/

I think it is obvious that people should not have their homes destroyed and their land usurped and their freedom curbed and their ability to work sabotaged and their basic human rights denied because they have  been deemed the "wrong religion" by Israel....  American tax payers should not be forced to help fund Israel's investments in Jewish 'housing', in both Israel proper as well as in the illegally occupied territories.

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab
American homemaker & poet

Palestinians set up new tented protest village northwest of Jerusalem

Palestinian activists on Friday established a new tented protest village
northwest of Jerusalem. (MaanImages/HO)
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=557212

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian activists on Friday established a new tented protest village northwest of Jerusalem, the second such initiative against Israeli settlement building in as many weeks.

Activists set up three tents and a small building in the area near Beit Iksa, naming the village al-Karamah (Dignity).

Locals said around 400 Palestinians performed Friday prayers in the open area.

Saed Yakrina, an activist from nearby village Beit Liza, said the camp was "a message to Israel and all democratic societies that we are human, and we want peace."

Activists from across the political spectrum, mainly from nearby villages, have gathered and will sleep in the tents overnight, he told Ma'an.

Beit Iksa, surrounded by Israeli settlements, is set to be entirely encircled by Israel's separation wall, cutting it off from Jerusalem.

Israeli authorities ordered the confiscation of 500 dunams of the village's land three weeks ago, and do not permit any new building in the town, Yakrina said, noting that Israeli settlements were still expanding.

"We are looking for a life without checkpoints, walls and settlements," he said.

Israeli forces immediately shut down the military checkpoint at the entrance to Beit Iksa to prevent more activists and supporters from accessing the protest site, witnesses said.

On Wednesday, Israeli forces tore down the tented village Bab al-Shams, set up to protest Israel's plans to build the "E1" settlement on the land, severing the West Bank from Jerusalem.

Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouthi on Friday said Bab al-Shams and al-Karama were a new dimension in the Palestinian struggle and that more protest villages would be established.

"The spirit of popular resistance which Bab al-Shams disseminated is being strengthened today in other areas including Izbat al-Tabib and Beit Iksa," the secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative said in a statement.

A rally was held in Izbat al-Tabib in the Qalqiliya district of the northern West Bank on Friday to protest Israeli plans to demolish a school in the village.

The rally showed that popular resistance against Israel's occupation is spreading, Barghouthi said.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Museum displays Palestinian heritage in Tulkarm. - YouTube




PLO Delegation: Statement on Killing of Palestinian Youth


http://plodelegation.us/2013/01/statement-on-killing-of-palestinian-youth/

The General Delegation of the PLO to the US condemns in the strongest terms the killing of 17 years-old Samir Ahmad Abdul-Rahim of Budrus village.

It has become habit for the Israeli government to escalate violence against innocent Palestinians to sustain a perpetual status quo that denies Palestinian rights, defiantly violating previous agreements, international law, and human rights.

Particularly appalling is that in spite of Palestinian commitment to nonviolent struggle, especially in the case of Budrus village, Israeli harassment and violations remain unabated.

The murder of Abdul-Rahim comes only five days following that of 22 years-old Anwar al-Mamlouk of Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza, clearly highlighting an Israeli pattern of provocation determined to undermine Palestinian rights to self-determination and independence.

The General Delegation of the PLO to the US urges the United States to unequivocally condemn Israeli violations against innocent Palestinians.


Learn more about the birthplace of Jesus Christ, click here. PLO Delegation

UN Chief Urges Israel to Rescind E1 Settlement

Israeli border policemen guard the Bab al-Shams (Gate of the Sun) 'outpost' after evicting Palestinian protesters from the site on January 13, 2013 in the controversial West Bank area known as E1 situated between Jerusalem and the Israeli West Bank settlement of of Maaleh Adumim. (Uriel Sinai, Getty Images)

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is reiterating his call for Israel to rescind its settlement plans in the strategic E1 area of the West Bank.

U.N. deputy spokesman Eduardo del Buey says the U.N. chief is following "with concern" Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pledge Sunday to move ahead with construction of a new Jewish settlement in the E1 area.

The new settlement would deepen East Jerusalem's separation from the West Bank, areas won by Israel in war that the Palestinians want for their state.

Ban noted that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law, del Buey said Monday.

Ban said Palestinian demonstrations, which Israel broke up on Sunday, were largely nonviolent, and he stressed the right to peaceful protest should be fully respected, del Buey said.

Israeli forces demolish 2 East Jerusalem homes

http://maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=556273
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces demolished two Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem on Tuesday, locals said.

Bulldozers arrived in the Sur Bahir neighborhood in southern Jerusalem and demolished the home of Aref Hussein Amireh, witnesses said.

The property housed 14 people from two families.

Israeli bulldozers also demolished the home of Nasser al-Rajabi in an area north of Beit Hanina. Al-Rajabi told Ma'an that Israeli forces arrived at 6 a.m. and removed all the furniture from the house before destroying it.

He received no prior notice before the demolition of the home, which housed a family of eight, he added.

Local youths threw rocks at the bulldozer during the demolition.

Aid agencies tread gingerly in Area C... Palestinian communities here, among the poorest and most vulnerable in oPt, desperately need access to water, electricity, sanitation and other basic infrastructure.

A farmer pictured on his land near Yatta.(MaanImages/file)
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=555337
RAMALLAH/AL-JIFTLIK (IRIN) -- As night descends in the Jordan Valley in the occupied Palestinian territory, a family in the village of Ras Al-Ahmar lights a small paraffin lamp in the tent they call home.

There is no electricity here and the nearby Palestinian villages are enveloped in darkness. The only visible cluster of light is from a nearby Israeli settlement.

Humanitarian agencies are well aware of the needs in this part of the West Bank but they face a challenge: play by the rules established by Israel or face the risk of having projects demolished.

Despite being outside the state of Israel, 90 percent of the Jordan Valley is under full Israeli civil and military control as part of Area C, a zone that covers 60 percent of the West Bank.

Palestinian communities here, among the poorest and most vulnerable in oPt, desperately need access to water, electricity, sanitation and other basic infrastructure.

But despite the needs, development organizations that try to improve living conditions in Area C say they find their ability to make any lasting impact hampered by Israeli restrictions and bureaucracy.

Like Palestinians, organizations that want to build basic service infrastructure such as houses, schools or water systems are required to submit an application for a permit to the Israeli authorities.

Often, these permits are not granted. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, between January 2000 and September 2007, over 94 percent of applications submitted by Palestinians to the Israeli authorities for building permits in Area C were denied.

"The permit regime is very confusing. There is no clarity about the status of an application, whether paperwork has been received, if it is complete," Willow Heske, media lead for Oxfam in oPt, told IRIN. "Agencies have sometimes waited for two years only to get a rejection that comes without any explanation."

"A few years ago we put in plans to build a water reservoir in Al-Jiftlik, to provide half of Al-Jiftlik with running water," said Heske.

"The reservoir was considered a `building' and we didn't get the permit. So we moved to a plan B which still involved setting up a reservoir and piping system but above rather than below ground. This too was not accepted. So as a last resort we had to go back to distributing water tanks. And of course people were frustrated and disappointed."

Challenging the occupation...READ MORE

My letter to the NYTimes RE "The Blight of Return" by Roger Cohen

The returning issue of Palestine's refugee
The Blight of Return By Roger Cohen
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/18/opinion/global/roger-cohen-the-blight-of-return.html?ref=global

Dear Editor,

Roger Cohen claims there is no history of return- he is totally wrong: Recognizing the vital importance of every refugees' right to return and reparations has been an important part of the world's response to rebuilding civilization after the Nazi Holocaust.

The right to return is a universal basic human right, affirmed time and time again by international law and anyone who is sincerely concerned about creating a just and lasting peace.

UN Resolution 194 from 1948 : The refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable 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

Religion and/or race should not ever be what determines who is safe in their home, and able to find a job. A fully secular two state solution to once and for ALL end the Israel-Palestine conflict for everyone's sake really is the best way forward.  

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

NOTES
"What is important is that individual refugees decide for themselves which option they prefer- a decision must not be imposed upon them." 


The Office of International Religious Freedom ( http://www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/)   Given the U.S. commitment to religious freedom, and to the international covenants that guarantee it as the inalienable right of every human being, the United States seeks to:
Promote freedom of religion and conscience throughout the world as a fundamental human right and as a source of stability for all countries
Palestinian Refugees(1948-NOW) refused their right to return... and their right to live in peace free from religious bigotry and injustice.

".... it being clearly understood that nothing
          shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious
          rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine..."

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

"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

 

Palestinian refugees must be given the option to exercise their right of return (as well as receive compensation for their losses arising from their dispossession and displacement) though refugees may prefer other options such as: (i) resettlement in third countries, (ii) resettlement in a newly independent Palestine (even though they originate from that part of Palestine which became Israel) or (iii) normalization of their legal status in the host country where they currently reside.  What is important is that individual refugees decide for themselves which option they prefer – a decision must not be imposed upon them.

As Israeli Vote Nears, Arab Apathy Is a Concern

 "Ahmad Tibi, a member of Parliament since 1999, said his United Arab List had joined with its two rivals, Hadash and Balad, in Facebook campaigns and election day efforts aimed at persuading voters to go to the polls, noting that in Israel’s coalition system, staying home bolsters the largest faction, in this case Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conservative Likud Beiteinu. 

“In South Africa, people were killed struggling to have one person, one vote,” Mr. Tibi said in an interview on Wednesday. “In Israel, there is discrimination in every part of life — education, infrastructure, employment. In only one thing there is equal rights: the day of the election. One person, one vote, Jews and Arabs. Those who are not participating are shooting their own legs.”" 


Ammar Awad/Reuters

Israeli newspapers have been calling on Arabs to vote. Supporters of the Arab-led party the National Democratic Assembly attended a campaign rally in December in the town of Nazareth.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Preserving Palestine’s architectural heritage: Riwaq’s young architects have returned home to help fellow citizens reclaim not only their land but also their past

  • Sahar Qawasmi seeks to reintegrate renovated sites into communities
  • By Rafique Gangat Special to Weekend Review
  • Published: 21:30 January 3, 2013 GULF NEWS
http://gulfnews.com/about-gulf-news/al-nisr-portfolio/weekend-review/preserving-palestine-s-architectural-heritage-1.1127350

Generally, young architects take to modernisation of building designs like fish to water. However, in the West Bank of Palestine, a group of architects — most of whom have international postgraduate degrees and could easily have found lucrative careers abroad — has returned home to preserve architectural heritage of the holy land, a heritage that is either being deliberately destroyed by the Israelis or being neglected by Palestinians. For the former, cultural heritage has become a battleground to stake a claim to the land — a war in which they have the ascendency — and for the latter, the upkeep of historically important sites and buildings is a luxury they cannot afford.

Riwaq, a Palestinian non-profit organisation established in 1991 in Ramallah, provides these passionate young architects with a platform to use their talents to preserve the heritage.

It took Riwaq 13 years to prepare a record of historical buildings in Palestine, before moving on to rehabilitation and development of the architectural heritage. This involved restoring the remains of the many civilisations that existed here. The various strata, with their different styles, make up the complex identity of Palestine, and Riwaq is committed to not only protecting structures built by the nobility and religious sites but also the valuable and varied urban, peasant and nomad architecture. To do this successfully it faces the challenge of convincing the public and the decision makers that historical buildings and centres are important tools for development, not liabilities.

Riwaq has been the recipient of many notable awards — the Dubai International Award for Best Practices, in 2007, and the Curry Stone Design Prize, in November 2012. Their offices are fittingly housed in an old building in Ramallah, where I meet a youthful, fun-loving and energetic team to learn more about their motivation for being there and the amazing work they do, which may even be viewed as a non-violent form of resistance against Israeli occupation.

Lana Judeh, whose youthful looks belie her talents, is presently heading a project that is rehabilitating a historical site in the north of Ramallah. She obtained her masters degree in London, in architecture and cultural identity, and when asked why she chose Riwaq instead of the private sector, she replies, “This place provides an opportunity for me to work and develop in a way I can’t elsewhere. I have learnt the geography of Palestine, which is very unique, but most of all, that to design new things you need to understand the old so you can build on it. Also this is a highly qualified team, and the intellectual discourse here is hard for me to find elsewhere.”

Judeh’s project is the “Abwein Historic Centre” from the Ottoman period, famous for its “Throne Village Palace” where rulers collected taxes from peasants. To begin with, Riwaq implemented preventive conservation of the palace a few years ago, restoring it from the outside to protect it from any further deterioration.

“We are trying to bring life back to abandoned areas that are either run-down or in ruins,” Judeh says. “Our restoration work has many aspects to it, beginning with a core building and then extending it to the whole neighbourhood. The involvement of locals in cleaning and beautifying their public space brings back their focus on the centre of the old town from which they have moved away and where they only visit the mosque or attend funerals.”

This particular site lay abandoned for 30 years. “It is frustrating at the beginning, especially as an outsider, because heritage is not a priority for the local communities,” Judeh says. “Two years later, we see how it pays off, as the quality of life has changed, with children playing in clean courtyards, free of the garbage that used to be dumped there, and a local women’s organisation will use the restored building.”

Judeh says Riwaq has two options: “Either we renovate for public use, where a local organisation rents the building from the original owner for 15 years. In that case, the owner pays nothing and gets his building back, restored, after 15 years. Or in the case of Abwein, if the owner wants to restore his building for private use, we ask for a contribution — for example, providing the owner with building materials — and he completes the restoration under Riwaq’s supervision.”

In other instances, Riwaq provides owners with material and they complete the restoration themselves. In essence, Riwaq works in partnership with the owners and does not impose its will on them.

Michel Salameh is another young architect with Riwaq. “I work here because it is a place where I feel I am doing something special for my community by protecting the heritage of Palestine,” he says.
Salameh is heading the “Adh Dhariyeh” project, in the south of Hebron, where he began with single-building restoration and has progressed to a community centre and two schools. He explains, “This used to be a Roman fort and people in the village lived in a network of caves under the buildings, and each country that invaded the holy land used Dhariyeh as a protective fort against enemies approaching from the south.

“Dhariyeh is one of 50 historical sites whose renovation Riwaq has undertaken and which constitute 50 per cent of the architectural heritage of Palestine.” Salameh says. “There are almost 900 old buildings and the project is funded by the Arab Fund in Kuwait.

“The 50 historical centres mark a shift as Riwaq moves away from a single-building approach towards a community approach, emphasising entire historical fabrics.”

Riwaq’s goal is to breathe life back into 50 per cent of Palestine’s heritage buildings and the communities in and around them, and to secure and reinforce the Palestinian identity that their architecture embodies...READ MORE

My letter to the NYTimes RE What Palestinians Need

Memorial to 418 Palestinian Villages which were Destroyed, Depopulated and Occupied by Israel in 1948.” Refugee tent and embroidery thread, 2000... by Palestinian-American Artist Emily Jacir
RE What Palestinians Need letter by NADIA HIJAB
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/15/opinion/what-palestinians-need.html?ref=global&_r=0

Dear Editor,

Thank you for publishing the "What Palestinians Need" letter by Nadia Hijab. I totally agree that Palestinians " need American political clout to end the occupation as the first step to a just and lasting peace. "... but I think for now at least Palestinians also need more financial aid in addition to political support. 

Both Israel and Islamists have been taking advantage of the very real plight of the Palestinians, exasperating tragedy and extremism at every turn. That dangerous trend won't magically stop if funding for Palestine is cut or decreased.

Palestinian Statehood efforts as well as UNWRA have been generously funded by the United States. Arab states should step up to help too, in hopes of helping Palestinians- and Palestine survive. 

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

NOTES

Arabs in Israel must vote

Songs and Pictures from Palestine

The Old Couple, 2000 painting by Palestinian Ismail Shammout: Detail from the mural (Life Prevails)

Keeping symbolism in perspective by Joharah Baker for MIFTAH

ELIAS KHOURY'S LETTER TO THE ACTIVISTS OF BAB AL SHAMS

Israelis Evict Palestinians

"We know the [Israeli] army follow us on Twitter and Facebook, so we made out we were holding a protest somewhere else."

State of Palestine

Bab al-Shams Village... We, the sons and daughters of Palestine

Palestinians Set Up Tents Where Israel Plans Homes

Israel continues to demolish Palestinian homes- and peace

Israel uses the crisis in Syria to try to coerce Abbas into relinquishing Palestinian refugee rights
 
Walls and winter rains afflict Palestinian towns

AP Interview: Palestinian PM blasts Arab donors... In an interview Sunday Fayyad said that the cash crunch is pushing an additional 25 percent of the Palestinian population, or 1 million people, into poverty.

ATFP's Ziad Asali & Ghaith Al-Omari: Salam Fayyad's bold effort to build Palestinian institutions could soon collapse -- unless Israel and the United States spring to action.
A Serious Look at Fayyad.... (& Palestine)

CSM letter by James Martin: US Mideast policy should honor rights

********
The Office of International Religious Freedom ( http://www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/)   Given the U.S. commitment to religious freedom, and to the international covenants that guarantee it as the inalienable right of every human being, the United States seeks to:
Promote freedom of religion and conscience throughout the world as a fundamental human right and as a source of stability for all countries
Palestinian Refugees(1948-NOW) refused their right to return... and their right to live in peace free from religious bigotry and injustice.

".... it being clearly understood that nothing
          shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious
          rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine..."

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

"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

 

Palestinian refugees must be given the option to exercise their right of return (as well as receive compensation for their losses arising from their dispossession and displacement) though refugees may prefer other options such as: (i) resettlement in third countries, (ii) resettlement in a newly independent Palestine (even though they originate from that part of Palestine which became Israel) or (iii) normalization of their legal status in the host country where they currently reside.  What is important is that individual refugees decide for themselves which option they prefer – a decision must not be imposed upon them.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Arabs in Israel must vote

Oudeh Basharat: "Until our brothers in the territories join in, when they are finally annexed to us, we must conclude regrettably that the Arab population is not behaving like a subversive sect and that all signs indicate that they are like every other human being: sometimes depressed, sometimes in love and sometimes refusing to exercise their right to vote.

For this reason I would like to whisper to that human being that if, whether out of despair or political principle, he does not vote, then he should not expect Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman to declare a national day of mourning on their account.

My election-boycotting friends, the situation could be worse. And we should replace the question of what contribution was made by the Arab members of Knesset with a more appropriate one: What would the situation be without them? If the preceding generations had not exploited every crack in the wall of discrimination, even the very roofs above our heads would have been denied us. Building even a single room would have been an existential struggle. It was only through stubborn fighting that the Arabs have racked up impressive accomplishments"

Songs and Pictures from Palestine

Songs and Pictures from Palestine

Images From Palestine...The Official Page of the Palestinian Freelance Photographer Haitham Khatib - الصفحة الرسمية للمصور الفلسطيني هيثم الخطيب -

The Old Couple, 2000 painting by Palestinian Ismail Shammout: Detail from the mural (Life Prevails)

The Old Couple, 2000 painting by Palestinian Ismail Shammout Detail from the mural (Life Prevails)

Keeping symbolism in perspective by Joharah Baker for MIFTAH

January 14, 2013
http://www.miftah.org/Display.cfm?DocId=25675&CategoryId=3

Last week President Mahmoud Abbas ordered all official documents to be signed and sealed with the emblem of the State of Palestine, replacing that of the Palestinian Authority. The move, of course, comes after the Palestinians scored the upgraded status of non-member state at the United Nations in November with the backing of 138 countries. This was a major morale boost for Palestinians, who have long struggled to gain international recognition of their right to statehood, freedom and independence. The UN upgrade is a small step towards that goal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, obviously irked by the UN upgrade of Palestine to a ‘state’, also chimed in on the president’s decree, claiming it was a ‘serious violation of signed agreements.’ Netanyahu added that Abbas’ decision was "devoid of any political meaning and creates no practical impact on the ground", saying that, "A Palestinian state will only be created as part of a peace agreement with Israel".

While Netanyahu may be right in terms of “practical impact on the ground” there is also a reason why he made the effort to respond. He understands that symbols of sovereignty begin as symbols but eventually turn into reality with the right will power and determination. That is also the reason why he so quickly and so viciously evicted the determined residents of the Bab Al Shams village, erected in the so-called E1 area, slated for massive Israeli settlement construction. Even Israel’s High Court said the tents could remain for a few days until a ‘solution’ was found. But Netanyahu is well aware of the danger of allowing Palestinian activists to remain and multiply on land that is rightfully their people’s, gaining momentum and solidarity with each hour that passes by. And so, he cracked his whip, calling on his thuggish army and police to drag them out.

The official documents and passports to soon be emblazoned with the ‘State of Palestine’ may be a sight for sore eyes for Palestinians who yearn for an independent homeland, but both Netanyahu and the Palestinians know it does not mean the actual state of Palestine is anywhere closer. While Netanyahu said a state could only be realized “through an agreement with Israel”, Palestinians are beginning to believe this will never happen, and thus have begun to devise more creative ways of reaching their dream. Moves such as the UN resolution – the price for which the Palestinians continue to pay – and popular resistance activities such as the Bab Al Shams initiative, are all alternative means the Palestinians have found to make their presence and their national rights known.

They are on the right track, for sure. All great ideas start with a single thought and people like Benjamin Netanyahu are more than privy to the fact that as thoughts hatch and grow, they snowball into action and determination after which nothing can stop them.

The trick is for the Palestinians to keep this act of symbolism -- the State of Palestine seal – in perspective. We Palestinians fell into the trap of believing more than what was real many years ago when the Oslo Accords were signed. This is not the space to point fingers at the parties to blame for this delusion (and they are more than a few), but rather to learn from our mistakes. The ‘State of Palestine’ emblem just may be the spark that ignites a much bigger process towards independence just like the Bab Al Shams village may have sparked the beginning of a wide-scale popular resistance movement. That is the hope at least. And obviously, from the way he and his government reacted, it is the Israeli Prime Minister’s biggest fear.

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

My letter to CSM RE Israel overrides court, removes Palestinians

RE  Israel overrides court, removes Palestinian protest settlement, Palestinians set up the Bab Al-Shams village two days ago in the sensitive E1 area, pointedly mirroring a tactic used by some Israeli settlers to establish facts on the ground. 
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2013/0113/Israel-overrides-court-removes-Palestinian-protest-settlement

Dear Editor,

World War II with all it many horrors inspired world leaders to carefully think about and endorse a carefully worded Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If newly founded Israel had used respect for basic human rights as its guidepost things would be very very different in the Middle East today, with positive ramifications for everyone- regardless of supposed race or religion. 

The very real plight and suffering of the persecuted, impoverished and displaced native non-Jewish Palestinians is a crisis that has been growing worse not for merely months or years, but for decades. And yet the besieged and oppressed Palestinians persist in believing in peace and justice....  Bravo to all the valiant and noble Palestinians who dreamed up the Bab Al-Shams village, and then set about creating a real village of tents on Palestinian land in hopes of stopping Israel from investing in and building yet another Jews-only housing project.

& Bravo to the American newspapers, including the CSM, who noticed and published some news of this telling incident. Even if the tents and Palestinian flags are torn down by Israeli forces the world has a plethora of photos and stories- just as the world has a plethora of photos as well as many facts and stories about the hundreds of Palestinian villages destroyed by Israel through out the years. 

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

NOTES
Israelis Evict Palestinians

"We know the [Israeli] army follow us on Twitter and Facebook, so we made out we were holding a protest somewhere else."

State of Palestine

Financial Crisis in the West Bank


Bab al-Shams Village... We, the sons and daughters of Palestine

Palestinians Set Up Tents Where Israel Plans Homes

Israel continues to demolish Palestinian homes- and peace

Israel uses the crisis in Syria to try to coerce Abbas into relinquishing Palestinian refugee rights

Snow covers the Dome of the Rock in the Old City

Walls and winter rains afflict Palestinian towns

Excellent letter in the Guardian by Keith Lichman RE Israel's drift


********
The Office of International Religious Freedom ( http://www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/)   Given the U.S. commitment to religious freedom, and to the international covenants that guarantee it as the inalienable right of every human being, the United States seeks to:
Promote freedom of religion and conscience throughout the world as a fundamental human right and as a source of stability for all countries
Palestinian Refugees(1948-NOW) refused their right to return... and their right to live in peace free from religious bigotry and injustice.

".... it being clearly understood that nothing
          shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious
          rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine..."

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

"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

 

Palestinian refugees must be given the option to exercise their right of return (as well as receive compensation for their losses arising from their dispossession and displacement) though refugees may prefer other options such as: (i) resettlement in third countries, (ii) resettlement in a newly independent Palestine (even though they originate from that part of Palestine which became Israel) or (iii) normalization of their legal status in the host country where they currently reside.  What is important is that individual refugees decide for themselves which option they prefer – a decision must not be imposed upon them.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

ELIAS KHOURY'S LETTER TO THE ACTIVISTS OF BAB AL SHAMS

I won't say I wish I were with you, I am with you. I see you, and I see how the dream through your hands has turned into reality rooted in the earth. "On this earth is what makes life worth living", just as Mahmoud Darwish wrote, for when you built your wonderful village you gave back meaning to meaning. You became the sons of this land and its masters.
This is the Palestine that Younis dreamt of in the novel Bab Al Shams/Gate of the Sun.  Younis had a dream made of words, and the words became wounds bleeding over the land. You became, people of Bab Al Shams, the words that carry the dream of freedom and return Palestine to Palestine.
I see in your village all the faces of the loved ones who departed on the way to the land of our Palestinian promise. Palestine is the promise of the strangers who were expelled from their land and continue to be expelled everyday from their homes.
Strangers and yet you are the sons of the land, its olives and oil!
You are the olives of Palestine that shine under the sun of justice, and as you build your village the light of freedom flares up with you.
"Light upon light"
I see in your eyes a nation born from the rubble of the nakba that has gone on for sixty-four years.
I see you and in my heart the words grow, I see the words and you grow in my heart, rise high and burst into the sky.
Finally,  I only have the wish that you accept me as a citizen of your village, that I may learn from you the meanings of freedom and justice.


(Beirut January 12, 2013.  Translated by Sonja Mejcher -Atassi)

My letter to the NYTimes RE Israelis Evict Palestinians

Badil Historical Overview: Palestinian Refugees
RE:  Israelis Evict Palestinians From a Site for Housing
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/world/middleeast/israeli-police-evict-palestinian-protesters-from-e-1.html?ref=middleeast&_r=0

Palestinians Set Up Tents Where Israel Plans Homes
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/12/world/middleeast/palestinians-set-up-camp-in-israeli-occupied-west-bank-territory.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_ee_20130112&_r=0

Dear Editor,

Thank you for having the courage to cover the story of Bab al-Shams, the tent village Palestinians constructed on Palestinian owned land, created in hopes of preventing Israel from building yet another state subsidized Jews-only housing project.

24,813 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israel since 1967 & Israel currently has 236 Jewish-only settlements and ‘outposts’ built on confiscated Palestinian land.   Palestinian refugees and internally displaced Palestinians (IDPs) represent the largest and longest-standing case of forced displacement in the world today.  

This situation is crazy and cruel- and quite frankly a crime against humanity.  The temporary tent village of Bab al-Shams is a telling echo of the hundreds of Palestinian villages and cities that have been ethnically cleansed, looted, and destroyed by the Israel through out the years.

In 1976 Americans were celebrating our freedom and a more real democracy with a cherished Bicentennial.  The official Bicentennial events began on April 1, 1975, when the American Freedom Train began touring the country with "over 500 precious treasures of Americana. Included in these diverse artifacts were George Washington's copy of the Constitution, the original Louisiana Purchase, Judy Garland's dress from The Wizard of Oz, Joe Frazier's boxing trunks, Martin Luther King's pulpit and robes, and even a rock from the moon."

In sharp contrast in 1976 six Palestinian farmers were killed and hundreds were wounded and/or arrested because they organized nonviolent protests and marches objecting to the Israeli government's announcement of a plan to expropriate thousands of dunams of land for "security and settlement purposes" LAND DAY commemorates that tragedy which continues to this day.

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

NOTES
Israelis Evict Palestinians

"We know the [Israeli] army follow us on Twitter and Facebook, so we made out we were holding a protest somewhere else."

State of Palestine

Financial Crisis in the West Bank


Bab al-Shams Village... We, the sons and daughters of Palestine

Palestinians Set Up Tents Where Israel Plans Homes

Israel continues to demolish Palestinian homes- and peace

Israel uses the crisis in Syria to try to coerce Abbas into relinquishing Palestinian refugee rights

Snow covers the Dome of the Rock in the Old City

Walls and winter rains afflict Palestinian towns

Excellent letter in the Guardian by Keith Lichman RE Israel's drift

********
The Office of International Religious Freedom ( http://www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/)   Given the U.S. commitment to religious freedom, and to the international covenants that guarantee it as the inalienable right of every human being, the United States seeks to:
Promote freedom of religion and conscience throughout the world as a fundamental human right and as a source of stability for all countries
Palestinian Refugees(1948-NOW) refused their right to return... and their right to live in peace free from religious bigotry and injustice.

".... it being clearly understood that nothing
          shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious
          rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine..."

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

"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

 

Palestinian refugees must be given the option to exercise their right of return (as well as receive compensation for their losses arising from their dispossession and displacement) though refugees may prefer other options such as: (i) resettlement in third countries, (ii) resettlement in a newly independent Palestine (even though they originate from that part of Palestine which became Israel) or (iii) normalization of their legal status in the host country where they currently reside.  What is important is that individual refugees decide for themselves which option they prefer – a decision must not be imposed upon them.

Israelis Evict Palestinians

Israeli border police remove a Palestinian activist from an outpost of tents in a disputed area known as E1. Ammar Awad/Reuters
The encampment, which the protesters called the village of Bab al-Shams (Arabic for “Gate of the Sun”), represented a new kind of action by Palestinian grass-roots activists involved in what they describe as the nonviolent popular struggle against the Israeli occupation. 

Employing a tactic more commonly used by Jewish settlers who establish wildcat outposts in the West Bank, the protesters had pitched their tents on Friday on what they said was privately owned land, and with the permission of the Palestinian landowners. They were immediately served eviction notices by the Israeli military authorities, but their lawyers had obtained a temporary injunction against their removal from the High Court of Justice until the state detailed the grounds for such a move. 

But on Saturday evening, with the end of the Sabbath, the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement saying he had ordered security forces to evacuate “forthwith” the Palestinians...READ MORE