Saturday, February 8, 2014

Hussein Ibish: Harmful rhetoric can break the momentum of boycott efforts

ATFP Frontpage 2-8-2014: Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes at 5-year high... Aid agencies working in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem expressed alarm on Friday at a spike in Israeli demolitions of Palestinian property coinciding with renewed U.S.-backed peace negotiations.  

"... Rather than being able to claim credit for the increasing movement in Europe and elsewhere to boycott settlements and the occupation, some of the most vocal pro-Palestinian “BDS advocates” actually undermine them by confusing the purpose of such boycotts and allowing Israelis to both argue and, perhaps, believe, that this is a generalised attack against the legitimacy of their state rather than the illegitimacy of the occupation.

The greatest challenge facing the Palestinian national movement, particularly after the last Israeli election in which the existence of the occupation was blithely ignored, is how to bring home the reality of the conflict to Israel’s mainstream majority that lives far from the occupied territories. The developing anti-settlement, but not anti-Israel, boycott movement is one of the first glimmers of real hope about how this can be done in a cost-effective, nonviolent and non-counterproductive manner.

There is no question that Palestinians are onto a very good thing here, if they handle it right. And the Israelis clearly have a problem, as acknowledged by all of their sensible leaders. But, ironically, the biggest threat to this sudden and significant piece of leverage is the strident BDS rhetoric that makes pro-peace actions against settlements that are based squarely in international law look like anti-Israel initiatives that don’t square with the goals of either peace or a two-state solution.

If the rhetoric of strident BDS activists can be brought into line with the reality of anti-settlement boycotts, Palestinians could well acquire a significant and desperately needed new tool of leverage with Israel. If not, while demagogues may not be able to stop the growing international anti-settlement sentiment, they can certainly continue to provide apologists for the occupation with vital rhetorical ammunition for counterattack, and space for conflation and confusion, that they would and should otherwise be denied." Hussein Ibish Harmful rhetoric can break the momentum of boycott efforts  February 8, 2014
Hussein Ibish is a senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, a columnist for Now Media and blogs at
On Twitter: @ibishblog

Children of the occupation: growing up in Palestine

"She rarely leaves the village. "I used to ride in my father's car. But the settlers stopped us. They beat my father before my eyes, cursing, using foul language. They took our things and threw them out of the car."

Even home is not safe. "The soldiers come in [the cave] to search. I don't know what they're looking for," she says. "Sometimes they open the pens and let the sheep out. In Ramadan, they came and took my brothers. I saw the soldiers beat them with the heel of their guns. They forced us to leave the cave."

Despite the hardships of her life, Nawal is happy. "This is my homeland, this is where I want to be. It's hard here, but I like my home and the land and the sheep." But, she adds, "I will be even happier if we are allowed to stay."

Nawal is one of a second generation of Palestinians to be born into occupation..."


Nawal Jabarin wants to be a doctor when she grows up. For now, she lives in a cave with 14 siblings, in constant fear of military raids. We meet the Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation
Nawal Jabarin, 12, and her brothers, two-month-old Issa and two-year-old Jibril, in their West Bank home. Photograph: Quique Kierszenbaum for the Guardian
The Guardian,

The rough track is an unmarked turning across a primeval landscape of rock and sand under a vast cobalt sky. Our Jeep bounces between boulders and dust-covered gorse bushes before beginning a bone-jolting descent from the high ridge into a deep valley. An Israeli army camp comes into view, then the tiny village of Jinba: two buildings, a few tents, a scattering of animal pens. A pair of military helicopters clatter overhead. The air smells of sheep.

At the end of this track in the southern West Bank, 12-year-old Nawal Jabarin lives in a cave. She was born in the gloom beneath its low, jagged roof, as were two of her brothers, and her father a generation earlier. Along the rock-strewn track that connects Jinba to the nearest paved road, Nawal's mother gave birth to another baby, unable to reach hospital in time; on the same stretch of flattened earth, Nawal's father was beaten by Israeli settlers in front of the terrified child....READ MORE

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Israel demolished 27 Palestinian homes in Palestine's Jordan Valley in January... leaving 147 people homeless

A Palestinian boy pictured in the Jordan Valley.
Israel demolished 27 Jordan Valley homes in January

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces destroyed 27 homes in the occupied Jordan Valley in January, according to Israeli rights group B'Tselem, leaving 147 people homeless.

Nearly half of those displaced were children and 65 people lived in communities that had been demolished more than once by Israel, B'Tselem said.

On Wednesday, the International Committee of the Red Cross said it would stop providing tents to Palestinians whose homes had been demolished in the Jordan Valley because Israel would often confiscate them.

Last week, the UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories criticized Israel's demolition of Palestinian homes in the Jordan Valley.

"I am deeply concerned about the ongoing displacement and dispossession of Palestinians ... along the Jordan Valley where the number of structures demolished more than doubled in the last year," James Rawley said in a statement.

"This activity not only deprives Palestinians of access to shelter and basic services, it also runs counter to international law."

The number of structures demolished by the Israeli authorities in the Jordan Valley in 2013 more than doubled, from 192 in 2012 to 393 in 2013

Israel has said in recent negotiations that it is not willing to compromise security in the Jordan Valley, which forms a third of the occupied West Bank.

Over 90 percent of the Jordan Valley is designated as Area C, with illegal settlements controlling up to 50 percent of the land area.


United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator calls for halt to the displacement of Palestinians in the Jordan Valley

The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator James W. Rawley today expressed concern over the Israeli authorities’ demolition of 36 Palestinian-owned structures in the Jordan Valley community of Ein al Hilwe yesterday. The demolitions resulted in the displacement of 66 people, including 36 children.

“I am deeply concerned about the ongoing displacement and dispossession of Palestinians in Area C, particularly along the Jordan Valley where the number of structures demolished more than doubled in the last year. This activity not only deprives Palestinians of access to shelter and basic services, it also runs counter to international law,” said Mr. Rawley. “The destruction of Palestinian-owned property and forced eviction of Palestinians must be brought to an immediate halt until Palestinians have access to a fair planning and zoning regime that meets their needs.”

Humanitarian partners are providing the necessary emergency assistance to families that are currently without shelter and suffering impaired livelihoods. Humanitarian agencies are facing increasing difficulties responding to emergency needs in Area C of the Jordan Valley due to restrictions from the Israeli authorities. In several cases, humanitarian assistance has been seized, confiscated or destroyed.

Displacement rose 25 per cent in 2013, with over 1,100 displaced in the West Bank, both in Area C and East Jerusalem, following the demolition of structure built without an Israeli-issued building permit, which is virtually impossible to obtain. Since the beginning of 2014, over 100 Palestinian-owned structures have been demolished in these areas, forcibly displacing more than 180 Palestinians, including nearly 100 children.

For more information, please contact:
Catherine Cook Tel.: +972 (0)2 582 9962; Mobile: + 972 (0) 54 3311 810
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit



United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has produced this new map that reveals the full scale of Israeli demolitions of homes and structures in the Palestinian Ghor (Jordan Valley) in 2013 - an area Israel covets.

The Jordan Valley and Dead Sea area covers around 30% of the West Bank, and is home to nearly 60,000 Palestinians.
87% of the land is designated as Area C, virtually all of which is prohibited for Palestinian use, earmarked instead for the use of the Israeli military or under the jurisdiction of Israeli settlements.
An additional 7% is formally part of Area B, but is unavailable for development, as it was designated a nature reserve under the 1998 Wye River Memorandum.
Around one quarter of Palestinians in the area reside in Area C, including some 7,900 Bedouin and herders. Some 3,400 people reside partially or fully in closed military zones and face a high risk of forced eviction.
There are 37 Israeli settlements, with a population of 9,500, established across the area, in contravention of international law.
In 2011, the Israeli authorities demolished over 200 Palestinian-owned structures in the area, displacing around 430 people and affecting the livelihoods of another 1,200 Palestinians.
Water consumption dips to 20 litres/capita/day in most herding communities in the area, compared to the WHO recommendation of 100 l/c/d and the average settlement consumption of 300 l/c/d.
Access to the area is limited to six routes, four of which are controlled by Israeli checkpoints, severely restricting the movement of Palestinian-plated vehicles.
If Palestinians gain access to 50,000 dunums (12,500 acres or 3.5% of Area C) of uncultivated land, this could generate a billion dollars of revenue per year (The World Bank).

More Maps[0]=field_content_format%3A12

Free to Fund Palestine ... a Growing Gardens for Palestine poem by Anne Selden Annab

"I can see Palestine"
      Free to Fund Palestine

Zionism is not my business
and Israel
is not ours to take...
there are citizens there
not all are bigots
not all are cruel.

Zionism belongs to Israelis
whatever Zionism becomes is theirs
to translate or abandon,
to redeem or reject
argue for against about... obsess

Let me be free please
to fund Palestine
and peace...

Free and able to understand
& respect international law
universal human rights

Free from religious tyranny
of every type... free from harassment
free from hate campaigns

free from home demolitions
free from forced exile...

Free to influence negotiations
in positive pro-Palestine ways,

free to expect firm borders
where Zionism must stop.

Two sovereign
separate states:

Let refugees return or relocate
with dual citizenship a bridge
between narratives

let Palestine
be Palestine

let Israel
be Israel

and let every citizen
old and new
rise to the challenge

of building community
and a just and lasting
inclusive, fully secular
fully sovereign
fully real
two state peace.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

My letter to the NYTimes RE: The Talks, Round Two by Roger Cohen (& Boycott Israel? A War of Words)

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry will brief the Quartet in Munich on the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks
RE: The Talks, Round Two by Roger Cohen (& Boycott Israel? A War of Words)

Dear Editor,

Palestinians have already made a huge and generous compromise in agreeing to a two state solution. Negotiations must be geared towards creating a fully secular two state solution to end the Israel-Palestine conflict for everyone's sake- and for the sake of civilization itself.

Think it through: At risk right now is not Israel's supposed Jewish character, but the long term viability of international law and universal basic human rights, including but not limited to every refugee's inalienable and natural right to return to original homes and lands.  Respecting the Palestinian refugee's right of return is not simply about what has past, and what is happening right now.  The Palestinian refugee's right of return is very much about the future of the rule of fair and just laws and conscientiously preventing even more impoverishment and forced displacement of subsequent generations... every one every where.

How different things would be right now for countless communities and countries worldwide had Jewish refugees from the Nazi Holocaust been refused their right to return to original homes and lands all through out Europe, and if we had not been motivated to spend the past half century ending segregation and striving for justice for all people, regardless of supposed race or religion.  Democracy today really would be a total farce, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights would have sizzled out into total irrelevance because every country on earth would currently be inclined to fund and empower a preferred religion or race, with tax payers subsidizing the housing and job opportunities for some but not all citizens.

If even only a handful of sovereign nations start following Israel's lead, border disputes and refugee crises will quickly become a growing problem everywhere. Investments in diplomacy and local infrastructures as well as social programs will be diverted into exorbitantly expensive arms races and conflicts. Land grabs and home demolitions will proliferate- and so will bigotry and religious extremism and terrorism of every type. Impoverishing and displacing increasingly vulnerable men women and children would be the norm, and a thousand excuses would be made to keep the status quo.

A war of words that swats away the rule of fair and just laws and universal basic human rights has already been making the Israel-Palestine conflict a very cruel conversation for the past sixty years, as well as a very dangerous reality for the native non-Jewish population of the region.

2014 is the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People ... and hopefully it is also the year that a just and lasting negotiated peace takes hold in the Holy Land for both Israel and for a fully sovereign and free Palestine, living side by side in security as good neighbors and regional leaders in the global quest to end bigotry and sectarian strife.

Anne Selden Annab

The earliest Palestinian houses were constructed about 9,000 years ago.

"I am deeply concerned about the ongoing displacement and dispossession of Palestinians... " James Rawley, UN humanitarian coordinator

UNITED NATIONS: Give Peace a Chance... The year 2014 has been proclaimed the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

ATFP's Ziad Asali: Israel Needs Peace with Palestine to Avoid Looming Boycotts

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
The Office of International Religious Freedom
( )

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

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

Refugees and the Right of Return
We call for a just solution to our refugee issue in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194. Our position on refugees is also included and supported in the Arab Peace Initiative (API), which calls for “a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.” A just solution to the refugee issue must address two aspects: the right of return and reparations.

The Arab Peace Initiative

Emanating from the conviction of the Arab countries that a military solution to the conflict will not achieve peace or provide security for the parties, the council:
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.

John Kerry defends US foreign policy “The reason we’re so devoted to finding a solution is simple: Because the benefits of success and the dangers of failure are enormous for the United States, for the world, for the region and, most importantly of all, for the Israeli and Palestinian people,” US secretary of state John Kerry at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“You have to understand that the progressive forces in the Arab world, those that support having a visible relationship with Israel, cannot reach out to it until the Palestinian problem is resolved,” said one Jordanian official. “Moreover, this should also be Israel’s interest, because the only way to stop the Islamic movements from seizing control in the West Bank is through an agreement with the Palestinians.”

Hanan Ashrawi tells The Times of Israel: Jews and members of all religions would have the right to apply for Palestinian citizenship. But “Palestine” could not accept “ex-territorial Jewish enclaves” where residents maintained their Israeli citizenship status

EU warns Israel, Palestinians of the cost of peace failure

MIFTAH: Anti- corruption youth strategy; young Palestinians put a corruption-free society as their priority "...This is their future, they say, because in the end, it is the youth that seeks a society free of corruption that will offer them the opportunity to obtain the right job and the right social status based on their own merits, not on grounds of nepotism and favoritism."   

Analysis: Why Palestinian leadership is right to engage in peace talks

Ziad Asali of ATFP: Why Palestinians are puzzled by the 'Jewish state' demand... Netanyahu's demand for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state bizarrely inserts Palestinians into the 'Who is a Jew' debate

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

 Live by the Golden Rule

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The earliest Palestinian houses were constructed about 9,000 years ago.

Architecture of Palestine

Ancient architecture

"Excavations in Beidha in modern day Jordan indicate that the earliest Palestinian houses were constructed about 9,000 years ago. Consisting of stone foundations with a superstructure made of mud-brick, they were simple structures, most often not more than one room with a single doorway, and likely without windows." 
now & then
Palestinian Refugees (1948-NOW) refused their right to return... and their right to live in peace free from religious bigotry and injustice.
 now & then
Palestinian and foreign activists hold Palestinian flags as they climb on top of a structure in an old village known as Ein Hajla, in the Jordan Valley near the West Bank city of Jericho January 31, 2014. Some 100 activists took part in a campaign to try to resettle the village and to protest Israel's occupation of the West Bank including the Jordan Valley. REUTERS/Ammar Awad (WEST BANK - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)

Interior of the house of a Palestinian Christian family in Jerusalem, portrayed in a print by W. H. Bartlett, c. 1850

"I am deeply concerned about the ongoing displacement and dispossession of Palestinians... " James Rawley, UN humanitarian coordinator

A Bedouin shepherd leads his herd of cattle in the Judean desert overlooking the Jordan Valley, on January 8, 2014 (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)