Saturday, October 5, 2013

Tel Aviv conference plans for Palestinian return

Israel is home to tens of thousands of Palestinians who were displaced from their villages in 1948 but remained inside the new state’s borders. Many of these communities ended up as refugees only mere miles from their original villages but were forbidden to return by the State of Israel.

Published 04/10/201 
By Alex Shams
TEL AVIV (Ma'an) -- There are few topics that scare the Israeli public more than the potential realization of the Palestinian Right of Return. Israel’s New Historians increasingly acknowledge that Israel’s creation in 1948 was a direct result of a planned ethnic cleansing that led to the displacement of 800,000 Palestinians from 530 villages.

And yet there continues to be a wide-reaching, unspoken consensus across Israeli society that the return of the displaced indigenous Palestinian inhabitants of what became Israel and their descendants, today numbering around 4.5 million around the world, is not up for discussion.

As prominent Israeli columnist Gideon Levy asserted last Sunday in Tel Aviv, "Organizing a conference on the Right of Return is considered to be illegitimate by most Israelis. But we shouldn’t be afraid of that ... Let me remind all of us that we had demons in our past just as scary that evaporated over the years … Now that we have gotten rid of earlier demons, we’re left with this demon that no one deals with: the Right of Return."

It is precisely for this reason that the conference organized by Israeli organization Zochrot Sept. 29-30 at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv was so ground-breaking. Entitled, “From Truth to Redress: Realizing the Return of the Palestinian Refugees,” it was one of the largest conferences to take place to date inside of Israel addressing the Palestinian Right of Return.

The conference aimed not merely to insist upon the legitimacy of the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland, but also to examine in practice how such a return would take place. Because of Israel’s refusal to accept this right, a great deal of Palestinian discourse until recently has focused exclusively on insisting upon the legitimacy and necessity of return.

But if we accept the right as legitimate, a whole other host of questions emerge: Where will the refugees live? What kind of state will emerge? How will Palestinian society-in-exile re-emerge within the homeland? And finally, how will Jewish Israeli society come to terms with their new position in a state where they do not have a position of ethnic supremacy?

The conference builds on increasing momentum within Israel’s borders by Palestinian activists actively materializing the Right of Return. Israel is home to tens of thousands of Palestinians who were displaced from their villages in 1948 but remained inside the new state’s borders. Many of these communities ended up as refugees only mere miles from their original villages but were forbidden to return by the State of Israel.

In summer 2012, young Palestinian refugees originally from Iqrit returned to their mostly destroyed village and set up permanent residence. In response, Palestinians within Israel from other villages have also begun returning to their villages. Despite intense pressure from the Israeli state they have remained steadfast and present, refusing to be displaced from their ancestral lands yet again.

As Khulood Badawi, a Palestinian activist inside Israel, argued, “We need to take the model of Iqrit to other areas. We need to raise awareness by saying that we cannot just talk about the global Right of Return if we are not implementing Right of Return within Israel, while there are still displaced Palestinians here within Israel.”

Badawi stressed that the displaced Palestinians within Israel must use the advantages at their disposal, primarily citizenship rights and the ability to return to their displaced villages, to lead the way by showing Israelis, Palestinians, and the whole world that in fact return is possible. As she argued, “We cannot realize the global Right of Return without achieving the Right of Return of those displaced Palestinians within Israel.”

Zochrot director Liat Rosenberg told attendees that, “Return is a long and ongoing multifaceted process that includes not only physical return of refugees, but also the establishment of an actual society. It begins long before they come, and it will continue long after.” The conference thus addressed not only how return would take place, but also how Jewish Israeli society would come to accept it.

Zochrot has long been actively committed to challenging the collective, willed amnesia of many Jewish Israelis toward 1948. As conference organizers prominently reminded the audience throughout, the Eretz Israel Museum where the conference took place sits atop the destroyed Palestinian village of Sheikh Muwannis, official recognition for which Zochrot continues to fight. At the same time, as various panelists noted, Israeli Jewish society needs to understand that Palestinian return and decolonization does not entail Jewish ethnic cleansing.

The conference challenged both Israelis and Palestinians to rethink their ideas of return, offering complex visions of possibilities rarely discussed or even imagined. As some speakers noted, “return” means something different for every Palestinian refugee. While some may actually desire to return to their physical homes, others desire the ability to live anywhere in their homeland free from Israeli discrimination. Others crave merely the recognition of the historical crimes committed against them.

Palestinian architect and activist Shadi Habib Allah stressed that many Palestinians do want to return to their villages, and planning the geography of that return is of the utmost necessity. He presented architectural plans for the village center of al Lajun, offering a physical vision of return that “honored emotions,” as he explained through its innovative use of traditional Palestinian village design and notions of communal living. At the same time, the village offered a modern vision that would not insist upon a return to the path but hinted instead at a brighter future.

There are as many ideas of return as there are Palestinian refugees, a flexibility conference attendees frequently acknowledged. The decolonization of Israeli space through imagining Palestinian return means not returning to what was, but instead building a shared geographic future. And while the Israeli taboo on discussing the Palestinian Right of Return may not have been definitively shattered in these two days, that the conference even took place is a hopeful sign for the future.

As Israeli journalist Gideon Levy reminded the audience, "Treating (return) as something that should not be mentioned only exacerbates the problem … the only way to deal with it is first and foremost to talk about it."

A quest to preserve Palestinian heritage in the digital stacks: Sami Batrawi's struggle to open an online Palestinian Library of Congress is part of a broader effort to recover lost Palestinian intellectual heritage.


Sami Batrawi, whose late father (illustrated on the left) acquired a personal library of 15,000 books, says he still prefers the feel of a real book in his hands but is turning to digital innovation out of necessity. Christa Case Bryant/TCSM 
"Before the 1948 nakba, or catastrophe, in which at least 700,000 Palestinians fled or were forced to leave their homes amid fighting over Israel’s declaration of independence, many Palestinians read widely and had private book collections as well as community libraries. But many of those books were lost in the nakba; to this day, some 30,000 volumes labeled “abandoned property” are collecting dust in the basement of Israel’s National Library. "
Jerusalem bureau chief
Christa Case Bryant is The Christian Science Monitor's Jerusalem bureau chief, providing coverage on Israel and the Palestinian territories as well as regional issues.

Ramallah, West Bank
As the son of a man who had a personal library of some 15,000 volumes, Sami Batrawi loves the feel of turning the pages of a book rich in history.

But after years of trying and failing to establish a Palestinian version of the Library of Congress, he would now content himself with swiping a finger across an iPad if it meant being able to access the wealth of literature about Palestinian national heritage.

“We didn’t succeed to have our traditional national library but I think now we can do something else,” says Mr. Batrawi, the director-general of the intellectual property unit at the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Culture and one of less than a dozen Palestinians with a graduate degree in library science.

So now Batrawi is trying to get the PA to approve an online Palestinian national library, which would provide digitized access not only to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza but also to Palestinian refugees and expats spread out across the Middle East, Europe, Latin America, and the US... READ MORE

Pomegranates in season along the path!

Pomegranates in season along the path! Photo by Julian Bender
This delicious fruit has been on the Middle Eastern table for several millennia. You may be lucky next time you're on the path to grab one fresh off the tree!
The Abraham Path Initiative is an international organization cultivating the development of the path with local and international partner organizations. The initiative is a non-profit, non-religious and non-political organization... The Abraham Path is a long-distance walking trail across the Middle East. Check out the new online guidebook:

Thursday, October 3, 2013

VERY CATCHY Theme song for THE MUSLIMS ARE COMING! ... please help pass the word [The film now out on iTunes and Amazon for rental/purchase]

Great theme song- is there a you-tube of the theme song- very catchy!
Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah
Annie- we have a nice music video for the song

  • You can rent or buy the film on iTunes at!/id689131789 or at
     fb note from my friend 
    Dean Obeidallah
    (aka on twitter )  
    Hope ur well. Was hoping you could help me out with a small favor. I co-directed a comedy documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!" which uses comedy to counter the Islamaphobes and to build bridges with other faiths.

    It features some great people like The Daily Show's Jon Stewart, Rachel Maddow, Aasif Mandvi and more.

    The film now out on iTunes and Amazon for rental/purchase.

    We have a very limited promo budget and are trying to get the word out via friends this week. Any chance you can share the info about the film on FB, Twitter or emails? (Details below)

    And if possible a nice review on iTunes and/or Amazon would also help a great deal. Thanks for any help you can offer- I sincerely appreciate it! Dean

    Check out the very funny, award winning comedy documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!" featuring The Daily Show's Jon Stewart, Rachel Maddow, Russell Simmons, Lewis Black, plus other celebs together with hilarious Muslim comedians countering Islamaphobia with laughter. USA Today called the film: "Thoughtful and funny." The Chicago Tribune said the film, "packs a funny but trenchant punch." Seattle's The Stranger "...makes its point with charm."

    Film's Website:

    You can rent or buy the film on iTunes at!/id689131789 or at

  • THE MUSLIMS ARE COMING! follows a band of Muslim-American comedians as they visit big cities, small towns, rural villages, and everything in between to combat Islamophobia! These Muzzies not only perform standup at each tour stop but create ridiculous interventions in unsuspecting town squares, like the ol' classic, "Ask a Muslim Booth." [...]

    The Muslims are Coming! is a docu-comedy about a bunch of Muslim-American comedians who tour Middle America, do shows, meet peeps, and combat Islamophobia!

    ATFP Galas: Palestine's Washington Showcase... "One of the most crucial aspects of ATFP's mission has been to change the image of Palestine and Palestinians in Washington, moving beyond the traditional binary stereotypes of menacing terrorists or wretched refugees. There is an all-American story to be told about Palestinian immigrants to the United States, and a need to celebrate their contributions to our country and to the world."

    Keynote speaker Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stands alongside ATFP President Ziad Asali at the 2010 Gala. (ATFP)

    Palestine's Washington Showcase

    "There could be no greater legacy for America than to help to bring into being a Palestinian state for a people who have suffered too long, who have been humiliated too long, who have not reached their potential for too long, and who have so much to give to the international community and to all of us."
    These words—among the strongest ever made by a senior American official about the importance to U.S. foreign policy of establishing a Palestinian state—were delivered in 2006 by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the keynote speaker at the first annual Gala of the American Task Force on Palestine.
    This was widely reported in Israel but almost totally ignored in the Arab world. An insightful Israeli noted that Palestinians should regard Rice's speech as their own "Balfour Declaration," unequivocally committing the United States to the creation of a Palestinian state.

    ATFP's galas are a celebration of Palestinian Americans, their dignity and pride, their culture and their contributions to the United States and the world. And they are also an unparalleled statement of the mainstreaming of Palestinians and Palestine in the United States.
    On October 29, my colleagues and I at ATFP will be holding our 10th anniversary gala, "Generations of Commitment." More than just a gala, it is the culmination of a long journey to create a defining public event for Palestine and Palestinians in Washington, and to bring the American policy establishment together annually under the banner of Palestine.
    One of the most crucial aspects of ATFP's mission has been to change the image of Palestine and Palestinians in Washington, moving beyond the traditional binary stereotypes of menacing terrorists or wretched refugees. There is an all-American story to be told about Palestinian immigrants to the United States, and a need to celebrate their contributions to our country and to the world. Every year several noteworthy Palestinian Americans are honored at the galas.
    Beginning with the first ATFP Gala in 2006 has been a tradition of the highest-level keynote speakers including, during their terms of office, Secretaries of State Rice and Hillary Rodham Clinton, National Security Advisor Jim Jones, and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
    ATFP, led by its founding President Ziad Asali, has emphasized the American national interest in ending the occupation and creating, at long last, a Palestinian state to live alongside Israel.
    Almost everyone active in ATFP had a significant history of prior Arab-American activism. We knew we were essentially starting from scratch, since the normative approach could not work because it didn't answer the main questions or address the primary audience.
    Traditional Arab-American approaches emphasized history, justice, international law and human rights. But they did not explain why the United States should, in its own interests, adopt ending the occupation as a core foreign policy goal. It was a conversation of outsiders that, even under the best of circumstances could not have, and did not really seek to, influence policy.
    It proved astonishingly easy to fit the agenda of ending the occupation based on a two-state solution into the existing American foreign policy discourse. What ATFP demonstrated was that it was not—as many Arab-Americans may have expected—knocking on a locked door. Rather, ATFP found itself pushing on one that opened wide.
    The primary reaction in Washington was not "what are you talking about" but "where have you been?"
    ATFP's galas are unique in bringing together a set of stakeholders that rarely appear side-by-side in public. Community members sit alongside senior government officials and diplomats. Pro-Israel advocates mingle with ease at an event celebrating Palestine. Prominent journalists engage with key decision-makers. Typically welcoming over 600 guests, the galas are gatherings of the who's who in Washington in the Middle East policy conversation.
    Even more remarkably, they typically applaud the same things at the same time. Everyone rises for the American and Palestinian national anthems. A Washington insider marveled privately that such an unprecedented mingling of different, and often estranged, constituencies could be assembled.
    Any public event is, by definition, at least in part an exercise in political optics. ATFP's galas are unique in Washington, for the optics they project, the stakeholders they bring together, dignitaries they honor and how they reframe the Palestinian-American community's presence in their own capital.
    The ATFP Gala is an evening of celebration of Palestinian Americans and Palestine, and a showcase for what can be accomplished within the system. "Yes, we can," because in fact we have.
    It is what ATFP does in between galas that makes such a huge range of stakeholders want to attend them. Its work is typically low-key, steady and cumulative, and designed to have a long-term impact.
    What ATFP has done is what all other successful American constituencies have. It has emulated others in learning how Washington works and how to work in Washington. And in so doing it has shown how Palestinian Americans—like all others—can work to achieve their goals, empower themselves, and acquire influence.

     Hussein Ibish is a Senior Fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine. His most recent book is What’s Wrong with the One-State Agenda? Why Ending the Occupation and Peace with Israel is Still the Palestinian National Goal. He has a PhD in comparative literature from The University of Massachusetts, Amherst. 

    ATFP seeks to support good governance and living standards for Palestinians, and to bring Palestinians and the United States closer together at every level. It advocates that American policies recognize the inextricable interconnection of the issue of Palestine with our other major policy objectives in the region. The Task Force holds that the values and interests of the United States are complementary rather than contradictory throughout the region, especially as it pertains to Palestine.

    Grape festival begins in Hebron area

    Published Sunday 29/09/2013

    HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Interim Palestinian Authority prime minister Rami Hamdallah will participate Sunday in the opening of the 2013 Palestinian Grape festival in Halhoul, a town just north of Hebron.

    The Festival committee announced that it had finished preparations for the festival which will last three days, beginning Sunday.

    Many different types of grapes will be displayed during the festival as well as the products of women's collective organizations such as embroideries, handicrafts and food.

    The Festival will also include popular and folkloric dances as well as other kinds of cultural performances.

    Hebron is famous for its grapes, and each year following the August harvest a large Grape Festival takes place in the area.

    Tuesday, October 1, 2013

    Peace & Israel... "It was the theft of that land that led to the continuing hostility of Arab and Muslim countries, a hostility that will only go away when the Palestinians receive justice." Guardian letter by Karl Sabbagh, author of Palestine: A Personal History

    Palestine: A Personal History
    by Karl Sabbagh


    Israel professes to want peace, yet whenever there is a danger of this happening, it protests loudly that the adversary is not to be trusted. In the case of the Palestinians, it sabotages peace efforts with assassinations and intensification of its illegal occupation. Without mythical enemies, Israel cannot justify its huge expenditure on security and defence, which contributes so much to the prosperity of the country. Israel's hypocrisy is most blatant in its possession of nuclear weapons, which it condemns in the hands of anyone else in the area. Without the artificial threats, money would not pour into the country from the US government and from Jews who have no desire to live in Israel, but contribute out of feelings of guilt. One day, Israel is going to have to realise that its only hope of peace and security is a fair and just sharing of the land with the people who used to form 90% of the population, the Palestinian Arabs. It was the theft of that land that led to the continuing hostility of Arab and Muslim countries, a hostility that will only go away when the Palestinians receive justice.

    Karl Sabbagh

    Author, Palestine: A Personal History


    Land of my father

    Karl Sabbagh's latest book is a welcome addition to a new mini-genre of works on Israel and Palestine that focus on people rather than politicians. Sabbagh certainly has excellent credentials for relating the story of Palestine through his own family. The Sabbaghs trace their roots back centuries, often with a ringside seat by kings and potentates. His detective work has unearthed historical treasures such as Daher al-Omar al-Zaydani, who ran his own autonomous state of Palestine within the Ottoman empire during the 18th century, selling cotton to the French. Both of Daher's biographers were Sabbaghs, while another, Ibrahim, was Daher's vizier, or chief minister, and his doctor. Ibrahim, Sabbagh confesses, was "a nasty piece of work ... among other things, a miser and an embezzler".

    Sabbagh writes with an easy, engaging style. "I am the son of a Palestinian father, but I am endowed with few of the characteristics associated in the popular mind with Palestinians or Arabs. I am not poor, unshaven or a speaker of broken English. I do not know how to use a gun or manufacture a bomb. I have had little to do with camels, sand or palm trees." His father, Isa Khalil, was the lead broadcaster for the BBC Arabic service during the second world war, much loved across the Middle East for his perfect diction. His mother, Pamela, was a secretary at the BBC. The English beauty and the glamorous Palestinian made an attractive couple, although the marriage lasted just a few years.

    Despite the book's subtitle, "A Personal History", much of the first half is a general history of Palestine. It would have made better reading to go straight into the Sabbaghs' family story, rather than spending time on another lengthy, partisan debunking of Jewish claims to the land. I would have liked more on Sabbagh's relatives, longer pen-portraits and, especially, much more on his relationship with his father, even some extracts from his broadcasts to give us a sense of this fascinating man. His mother, Pamela, is also curiously absent apart from a few mentions. But perhaps British reticence triumphed over Mediterranean candour.

    The Sabbagh family history shows the absurdity of Israel Zangwill's claim that Palestine was "a land without a people for a people without a land". Sabbagh's grandfather was a lawyer in Tulkarm. His relatives were businessmen and traders, part of an intricate web of societal links that reached across Palestine and the Levant. Palestinian Arab society was highly developed, especially in the towns and cities, with a sophisticated cultural and political life. Sabbagh is good on what might be called the second "lost history of Palestine"(if the first is that of the Palestinians themselves): the good relations between many Jews and Arabs before 1948. When Sabbagh's uncle had a car accident outside the Jewish town of Nahariya, local people took him and his passengers in, gave them tea and cakes and tended to their injuries. A man called Azmi Audeh recalled the local Jewish fishmonger who served his father: "The Jew looked exactly like us; had the same skin colour, spoke the same Arabic language, dressed exactly like us, and even had the same nose. He seemed to be a very nice man, eager to please. So why was this man a problem?" The problem was, of course, not piscine but political: the Yishuv, the Zionist state in waiting, claimed Palestine for itself....READ MORE

    My letter to LATimes RE Rethinking the two-state solution by Neve Gordon

    " meditate, document, contemplate, and, of course, dream of contemporary Palestine as a physical, mental, and emotional space." This Week in Palestine
    RE: Rethinking the two-state solution: An Israeli-Palestinian power-sharing model could guarantee democracy and a certain kind of Zionism.,0,2944378.story

    Dear Editor,

    The one state goal claims to be all about creating "a single state in which Jews and Palestinians live together as equals"... which does sound noble and good from an ivy tower distance, but odds are it is yet another ruse enabling a Jews-preferred Israel free reign over all the land and most conversations:

    One state activism convinces people who care about Palestine to diss negotiations and mainstream efforts to free Palestine. It arms cynics and naysayers and religious extremists and hate mongers on both sides with arguments to harass and insult the few still willing to speak out for Palestine diplomatically in mainstream forums. 

    Meanwhile a Jews-preferred Israel's demographic delusions and generously subsidized religious scholars and schemes continue to be funded and empowered by taxpayers here and there. 

    Convincing Palestinians to disengage and sabotage their own state building efforts as well as negotiations for a just and lasting peace, the one-state game ends up being nothing more than magical thinking rigged to further distract, impoverish, displace and erase the people of historic Palestine.

    Two states (with official borders and cooperative polices) in which Jews and Palestinians (plus every one else) live together as equals on all sides of every border is the best way forward... Individual men, women and children living side by side in peace and security as well as two sovereign independent nation states simply named Israel and Palestine side by side in peace and security with each nation respecting international law and basic human rights and the dire need for fair and just laws and investments.

    Peace negotiations should not be geared to entrench official state religions or demographic 'balances' for either nation, nor should negotiations be yet another a way for myopic bigots to dismiss or discredit universal basic human rights including but not limited to the Palestinian refugees inalienable legal, moral and natural right to return to original homes and lands.

    Anne Selden Annab

    CSM: Israel increases rate of home demolitions as peace talks chug along- Human rights activists say home demolitions show that protection for Palestinian human rights is missing from the peace process.

    Walking Palestine & The Abraham Path... a creative space for stories that highlight the unique culture, heritage and hospitality of the region

    Remarks by Palestine's President Abbas at the United Nations General Assembly..."The hour of freedom for the Palestinian people has rung. The hour of the independence of Palestine has rung. The hour of peace has rung."

    Obama urges world to take risks for Mideast peace... "All of us must recognize that peace will be a powerful tool to defeat extremists, and embolden those who are prepared to build a better future," he said.

    Announcing ATFP Gala Silent Auction ... Featuring Arts, Calligraphy, Photography, Manuscripts, Lithography, and Maps [ATFP seeks to support good governance and living standards for Palestinians, and to bring Palestinians and the United States closer together at every level]

    Remarks by President Obama and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority Before Bilateral Meeting

    "I sit in preventive detention... The reason, sir, is that I am an Arab." Fouzi al-Asmar (1937-2013)

    Palestinian Journalist/Author/Poet/Activist Fouzi El-Asmar, R.I.P... El-Asmar was a doting husband, father, grandfather, a devoted friend, and a respected journalist who died this month at age 76, three weeks after the passing of his wife: He had asked to be buried in his native land.

    UNHRC Discusses Human Rights Situation in Occupied Palestinian Territories

    Definition of Irony: why “end times” believers might actually trigger the end times

    Arab Myths Distort Understanding Of American Policy

    Newspapers Review: Killing of Soldier in Hebron Focus of Dailies ... & EU Warns Violence Could Undermine Negotiations (Israeli Army Kills six Palestinians last month & this month in Qalandia & Jenin refugee camps- prompting protests)

    Israeli soldiers assault Palestinian farmer near Hebron

    Israeli Settlers Destroy 20 Dunams of Land near Nablus

    "The occupation is an emergency, not a macro- or trans-historical problem, particularly for the millions of Palestinians living under its oppressive rule. They, especially—but we too—do not have the luxury of waiting to see what the next hundred years of history will bring us, good or bad. On the contrary, we must have the courage to act now, and with urgency, within the existing realities, however difficult, to try to create a working solution to a situation that is both intolerably unjust and regionally (and to some extent even globally) destabilizing."Hussein Ibish & Saliba Sarsar of ATFP...

    Palestine and Israel in the New Regional Context

    ATFP provides an independent voice for Palestinian-Americans and their supporters and advances human rights and peace. It categorically and unequivocally condemns all violence against civilians, no matter the cause and who the victims or perpetrators may be. 

    • 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.
    Live by the Golden Rule

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

    Dear President Obama... Let Freedom Ring


    Help Build A Golden Rule Peace for the Holy Land

    Globalizing Martin Luther King, Jr.

    The Promised Land: Ibrahim's Estate... a poem in Celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights & Peace Day 2013

    The Arab Peace Initiative
    1. Requests Israel to reconsider its policies and declare that a just peace is its strategic option as well.
    2. Further calls upon Israel to affirm:
    I- Full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4, 1967 lines as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon.
    II- Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194.
    III- The acceptance of the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since June 4, 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
    3. Consequently, the Arab countries affirm the following:
    I- Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, and enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region.

    II- Establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace.
    The Office of International Religious Freedom (   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

    "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

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

    "In 1949, the international community accepted Israel's UN membership upon two conditions: That they respect resolutions 181 (two states) and 194 (refugee rights). Neither has been honored. In fact, 65 years later, Israel has not even acknowledged what it did in 1948." Saeb Erekat
    11 December 1948 UN Resolution 194:"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"

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

    Monday, September 30, 2013

    CSM: Israel increases rate of home demolitions as peace talks chug along- Human rights activists say home demolitions show that protection for Palestinian human rights is missing from the peace process.

    By Ben LynfieldCorrespondent / September 29, 2013


    A tractor demolishes a road at the unauthorized Israeli settlement outpost of Amona, east of the Palestinian town of Ramallah, West Bank, Tuesday, July 23, 2013. Sebastian Scheiner/AP
    Makhul, West Bank

    Burhan Bisharat lost his home last week to an Israeli army bulldozer, but he retains the Palestinian ethos of hospitality, pressing his interviewer to drink more tea as he recounts how he has slept amid the ruins of the dwellings of this tiny village in the occupied West Bank.

    ''Living on the ground with no cover is hard,'' says the father of eight who, like a dozen other men from Makhul, has been sleeping out in the open because the army blocked them from receiving humanitarian relief tents after the demolition. On a scorching summer day, Makhul's men crowded under the only tree in sight for shade, while a group of Israeli soldiers stood guard nearby to ensure they did not attempt to rebuild shelter.

    Israeli defense ministry officials say the demolition of Makhul was a necessary law enforcement measure against unlicensed construction and stress that the Israeli Supreme Court last month rejected a petition against the order.

    But human rights groups are condemning the demolition, the latest of operations in which hundreds of residential and other structures were destroyed this year in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They say the Army's handling of Makhul, as well as repeated settler attacks on Palestinian property, highlight that the US-brokered peace process launched earlier this year fails to protect Palestinians from Israeli abuses.

    United Nations statistics show that the rate of demolitions rose in the last year, many of them occurring as US Secretary of State John Kerry prodded Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiation table. In August, a month after peace talks resumed, Israel leveled another small Palestinian community in East Jerusalem, Tel al-Adassa, forcing its residents to leave to the West Bank. They lacked Israeli identity papers, but dated their stay in the vicinity to the 1950s.

    Three other small Palestinian communities near here – Ras al-Akhmar, Hadidya and Khumsa – now face the imminent threat of being leveled like Makhul.

    ''There is always talk of a settlement freeze but it is not just building new homes for settlers but destruction of homes for Palestinians that have nowhere else to go that needs to be front and center during peace negotiations,''....READ MORE