A bird’s eye view of Zionism’s and Israel’s strategic aim

By Uri Avnery

26 May 2012

”In a bird’s eye view, the Zionist-Israeli policy looks like a river (SNAKE) striving towards the sea. When it meets an obstacle, it goes around it. The path deviates to the right and to the left, sometimes even going backwards. But it perseveres with a wondrous determination towards its goal.

“The guiding principle was to accept every compromise that gives us what we can get at any stage, but never let the final aim out of our sight.
“This policy allows us to compromise about everything, except one: an Arab Palestinian state that would confirm the existence of an Arab Palestinian people.” (Uri Avnery)
On 15 May, the anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel, its Arab citizens observed a day of mourning for the victims of the Nakba (Catastrophe) – the mass exodus of half the Palestinian people from the territory which became Israel.
Like every year, this aroused much fury. Tel Aviv University allowed Arab students to hold a meeting, which was attacked by ultra-right Jewish students. Haifa University forbade the meeting altogether.
Some years ago the Knesset debated a Nakba Law that would have sent commemorators to prison for three years. This was later moderated to the withdrawal of government funds from institutions that mention the Nakba.

Nakba denial

“The ‘only democracy’ in the Middle East may well be the only democracy in the world that forbids its citizens to remember a historical event. Forgetting is a national duty.”
The “only democracy” in the Middle East may well be the only democracy in the world that forbids its citizens to remember a historical event. Forgetting is a national duty.
The trouble is, it’s hard to forget the history of the “Palestinian issue”, because it dominates our life. Sixty-five years after the foundation of Israel, half the news in our media concern this one issue, directly or indirectly…
The founding fathers of Zionism adopted the slogan “a land without a people for a people without a land” (coined much earlier by a British Christian Zionist). They believed the “promised land” to be empty. They knew, of course, that there were some people in the country, but the Zionists were Europeans, and for Europeans at the end of the 19th century, the heyday of imperialism and colonialism, coloured people – brown, black, yellow, red or whatever – did not count as people.

When Theodor Herzl put forward the idea of a Jewish state, he was not thinking about Palestine but about an area in Argentina. He intended to empty this area of all its native population – but only after they had killed all the snakes and dangerous beasts.

In his book Der Judenstaat [The Jewish State] there is no mention of Arabs – and not by accident. When Herzl wrote it, he was not yet thinking about this country. The country appears in the book only in a tiny chapter added at the last moment, titled “Palestine or Argentina?”

Therefore Herzl did not speak about evicting the Palestinian population. This would have been impossible anyway, since Herzl was asking the Ottoman sultan for a charter for Palestine. The sultan was a caliph, the spiritual head of all the world’s Muslims. Herzl was too cautious to bring this subject up.

”Total opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state – at any time, anywhere in the country, at all costs”

This explains the otherwise curious fact: the Zionist movement has never given a clear answer to its most basic question: how to create a Jewish state in a country inhabited by another people. This question has remained unresolved to this very day.

“The main effort of the Zionist/Israeli movement is to achieve a Jewish state in all of Eretz Israel – the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. In other words, the prevention of an Arab Palestinian state.”

But only seemingly. Hidden somewhere underneath it all, on the fringes of the collective consciousness, Zionism always had an answer. It is so self-evident, that there was no need to think about it. Only few had the courage to express it openly. It is imprinted on the “genetic code” of the Zionist movement, so to speak, and its daughter, the state of Israel.

This code says: a Jewish state in all the land of Israel. And therefore: total opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state – at any time, anywhere in the country, at all costs.

When a strategist plans a war, he first of all defines its aim. That is the main effort. Every other effort must be considered accordingly. If it supports the main effort, it is acceptable. If it hurts the main effort, it must be rejected.

The main effort of the Zionist/Israeli movement is to achieve a Jewish state in all of Eretz Israel – the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. In other words, the prevention of an Arab Palestinian state.

When one grasps this, all the events of the last 115 years make sense. All the twists and turns, all the seeming contradictions and deviations, all the curious-looking decisions make perfect sense.

In a bird’s eye view, the Zionist-Israeli policy looks like a river striving towards the sea. When it meets an obstacle, it goes around it. The path deviates to the right and to the left, sometimes even going backwards. But it perseveres with a wondrous determination towards its goal.

The guiding principle was to accept every compromise that gives us what we can get at any stage, but never let the final aim out of our sight.

This policy allows us to compromise about everything, except one: an Arab Palestinian state that would confirm the existence of an Arab Palestinian people.

All Israeli governments have fought this idea with all available means. In this respect, there was no difference between David Ben-Gurion, who had a secret agreement with King Abdullah of Jordan to obstruct the setting up of the Palestinian state decreed by the UN General Assembly’s 1947 resolution, and Menachem Begin, who made a separate peace with Anwar Sadat in order to get Egypt out of the Israeli-Palestinian war.
Not to mention Golda Meir’s famous dictum: “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people.” Thousands of other decisions by successive Israeli governments have followed the same logic.

The only exception may be the Oslo agreement – which also did not mention a Palestinian state. After signing it, Yitzhak Rabin did not rush forwards to create such a state. Instead, he stopped in his tracks as if stunned by his own audacity. He hesitated, dithered, until the inevitable Zionist counterattack gathered momentum and put an end to his effort –- and his life

The present struggle over the settlements is an integral part of this process. The main aim of the settlers is to make a Palestinian state impossible. All Israeli governments have supported them, openly or covertly. They are, of course, illegal under international law, but many of them are also illegal under Israeli law. These are variously called “illegal”, “unlawful”, “unpermitted” and so forth. Israel’s august Supreme Court has ordered the removal of several of them and seen its rulings ignored by the government.

The settlers assert that not a single settlement has been set up without secret government consent. And indeed, all the “unlawful” settlements have been connected at once to the water and electricity grids, special new roads have been built for them and the army has rushed to defend them – indeed the Israel Defence Forces have long ago become the Settlements Defense Forces. Lawyers and shysters galore have been employed to expropriate huge tracts of Palestinian land.
One famous woman lawyer discovered a forgotten Ottoman law which says that if you shout from the edge of a village, all the land where the shout cannot be heard belongs to the sultan. Since the Israeli government is the heir of the Jordanian government, which was the heir of the sultan, this land belongs to the Israeli government, which turns it over to the settlers. (This is not a joke!)

While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems in abeyance and “nothing happens”, it is really going on with full force in the only battlefield that matters: the settlement enterprise. Everything else is marginal, like the awesome prospect of an Israeli attack on Iran. As I have been saying all along, that will never happen. It is a part of the effort to divert attention from the two-state solution, the only peaceful solution there is.

Ethnic cleansing

Where is the negation of the Palestinian state leading to?

Logically, it can only lead to an apartheid state in the entire country between the Mediterranean and the Jordan. In the long run, that would be untenable, leading to an Arab-majority “bi-national” state, which would be totally unacceptable to almost all Israeli Jews. So what is left?

The only conceivable solution would be transfer of all the Arabs to the other side of the Jordan. In some ultra-right circles, this is openly talked about. The Jordanian monarch is incensed by it .

Population transfer already happened in 1948… But 1948 is long gone. The world has changed. What was tolerated from post-Holocaust brave little Israel would not be tolerated tomorrow from mighty, arrogant Israel… Today it is a pipe-dream – like similar dreams on the other side that Israel would somehow disappear from the map. (It will Mr. Settler)
It has often been said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a clash between an unstoppable force and an immovable object. This will dominate our lives and the lives of generations to come.

Unless we do something that looks almost impossible: to change the main effort, the historic direction of our state. Substitute for it a new national aim: peace and coexistence…

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

A Particularly Bitter Nakba Day

A girl leans on a chain, during a protest to mark the 64th anniversary of Nakba, at Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon 15/05/2012. (photo by REUTERS/Ali Hashisho)

By:Amjad Samhan posted on Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On May 15, Palestinians commemorated their 64th year of continued injustice. On this day, ever year since Israel displaced 750,000 Palestinians from their lands and homes, the Palestinians commemorate the Nakba (or “Catastrophe”). This year, however, Nakba Day is far more bitter for Palestinians, as Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are still struggling for basic rights.

Hajja Um Anaam is a Palestinian refugee from the Qaddura camp in Ramallah. She keeps the memory of her village, Deir Tarif, close to her heart. She remembers its stones, houses, alleyways, squares and gardens. Yet, today Um Anaam lives in a small room in a crowed camp in Ramallah. The warren of tiny streets and concrete houses, which have recently done away with their tin roofs, best reflects Nakba Day.

“Oh, how I yearn for my childhood days. Today, I am 75 years old. I remember our home and family. Now, they are but a fading memory. We have been displaced and killed. We will not forget. Our grandchildren will be given the keys,” Um Anaam told Al-Safir. [Clarification: the reference to keys is to those which will unlock the houses left behind by the Palestinians in 1948.]

About this Article

Summary:

Palestinians observed Nakba Day, which commemorates the displacement of Palestinians from their homes after the creation of Israel, Monday. Amjad Samhan on how this year is a particularly bitter Nakba, as Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are still struggling for basic rights

Publisher: As-Safir (Lebanon)
Original Title:
Palestine: 64 years of Calamity, and Flame of the Anniversary is in the Intestines of the Prisoners
Author: Amjad Samhan
Published on: Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Translated On: Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Translator: Sahar Ghoussoub

Categories :Culture & Society Reports / Studies Israel Palestinian Authority

According to her, the Palestinian people are still living in an ongoing Nakba. “Every day is Nakba to us. Our children are being killed and imprisoned. Our houses are being demolished and our land stolen, yet, the world does not lift a finger.”

Not far away from Hajja’s house in the camp lives 78-year-old Mohamed Ibrahim. The long years have taken their toll on the old man. The years weigh heavy on him, forcing his head to the ground. “Today, I do not feel like I exist. Although I still live among my family here, I am not at home. My house there was taken away from me. But I must return one day,” he told Al-Safir.

The Qaddura camp’s narrow streets are another reflection of Nakba Day. They reflect not only the painful consequences of that day, but also the dire conditions under which Palestinians live in the camps.

Many events were organized to mark the Nakba Day throughout occupied Palestinian cities, in both the West Bank and in modern-day Israel. Palestinian cities will be on a general strike. A main rally for Earth Day is scheduled to take place in the city of Al-Loujoun, inside the Green Line. Palestinians are planning to set up tents to commemorate the eve of the Nakba.

Israel has approved a law, known as the “Nakba Law,” which penalizes all commemorations of Nakba Day. The Palestinians are not intimidated.

In the West Bank, Palestinians will begin marching from late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat’s tomb in Ramallah. Warning sirens will sound in all Palestinian city centers, and then Palestinians will march towards the Qalandia checkpoint despite the possibility that clashes could erupt between the protesters and the Israeli army.

Many Palestinians believe that this year’s Nakba Day is bitterly painful as it also coincides with the Nakba of the Palestinian prisoners still in the Israeli jails.

Palestinian prisoner Thaer Halalah has been on hunger strike for 78 days now. His father told Al-Safir that “This year, Nakba Day marks two tragedies in my life: the tragedy of my people and the tragedy of my son, whom I feel will die soon. Yet, no one cares. This is our fate. We are doomed to live in the Nakba for the rest of our lives. We and our children will pay the price, just as our ancestors did before us.”

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Nakba Day and Israel’s Ministry of Thought Control

Nakba Day and Israel’s Ministry of Thought Control

by Roy Tov

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Israel’s failure to implement censorship

Can a democracy censor? Despite Western-propaganda, the answer is yes. However, unlike the situation in totalitarian regimes, democratic censorship is invariably disguised as something else; in this aspect, totalitarian regimes are more honest than what nowadays is wrongly referred to as democracies.



The events surrounding 9/11 and the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq are a good example of that. Despite American media sanctimonious claim of being balanced, one won’t find a balanced report on these issues.
When was the last time the Taliban’s leader got the Times’ front page?
How can censorship in a democracy be achieved?
Let’s answer this question by illustrating the topic with a current event. In the case of Israel, how can the state censor events linked to Nakba Day? Oddly enough—and I would be accused of anti-Semitism if I were to add the obvious—Israel does that through the Ministry of Finances.

Palestinian PR Victory

They Call it “Independence” … We Call it Nakba
Nakba Day is the “Disaster Day” on May 15, when Palestinians remember Israel’s Independence declaration. Israelis celebrate it at a different date. Formally, civil affairs in Israel are conducted using the Hebrew calendar, thus official events change in their Gregorian date because the Hebrew calendar is lunar in nature, meaning it wobbles in cycles of 19 years.
On all official documents issued by Israel, the Hebrew date is proudly stated; however, since this calendar wobbles, everybody uses the Gregorian calendar as the main reference calendar.
He returned on Nakba Day, Martyred on Naksa Day,
Millions will follow

This includes offices from the Israeli Administration; all appointments with them are arranged using the Gregorian calendar. Most of the calendars sold in Israel show the Gregorian date in large digits and the Hebrew date in small—almost illegible—digits. Actually, most Israelis would fail if asked to list the names of the Hebrew months in their correct order. “Independence Day is in April or May” they’ll say hesitantly, mixing up the Hebrew and Gregorian calendars. Since the Palestinians stick to Gregorian dates, they have an easy job promoting Nakba Day, a much easier task than Israelis face with the wobbling Yom Haatzmaut, Independence Day (see Is this Israel’s last Independence Day?).

The Zionists’ Deepest Fear 

“Yom Hanakba” Nakba Day Logo by Zionist Channel 7 note the Hebrew letters styled as Arabic ones

 The extent of mind-control the Israeli administration attempts on the population it rules is astonishing. Prime Minister Golda Meir claimed Palestinians do not exist, and expected the people to answer: “amen!” Things didn’t improve much since her departure; for many years possessing a Palestinian flag—even if hidden in a dark drawer—was a punishable crime in the state claiming to be “the only democracy in the Middle East.”

The Zionist leaders’ deepest fear is that their people will realize they have been deceived by them; they fear that the people will realize that the Zionist dream is nothing but a hollow, meaningless dream built atop solid Palestinian structures. After all, most of the Israeli towns had been built by Palestinian workers. Thus, the attempt to suppress the commemoration of events like Nakba Day was to be expected. Considering the extent of the protests taking place on that day across Israel, the task was herculean even for roughish Zionist administrators. The logo below belongs to the Settlers’ Channel 7 (see “Juden Raus!” says Israel) and was featured in their articles covering the Nakba Day this year. Even the settlers—who often draw maps of the West Bank which ignore Palestinian cities—cannot ignore this event.

Beginning Administrators’ Error

On paper, the Israeli administration gave a “proper Zionist Answer,” (“tshuva tzionit olemet” in Hebrew). This is a popular phrase used in Israel against any event that is perceived as a threat. It implies violence, though nothing specific is said. In this case, the implied violence came in the form of state censorship of an event it dislikes; beginner administrators as they are, they thought that by controlling the people’s pockets, they will gain control of their minds. On Monday 14, 2012, they woke up into their worst nightmare.
UTAProtests
Nakba Day Protests | Tel Aviv University
Today, Tel Aviv University—a perceived stronghold of the Jewish establishment—commemorated Nakba Day. Tel Aviv University’s dean of students had previously approved a ceremony to commemorate Nakba Day in the plaza adjacent to the “Naftali” social sciences building. However, University security services decided that due to the “possibility of disturbances,” the event will be held at “Antine Square,” located next to the University’s main entrance. The pictures brought here are from the protests; the distinctive buildings of the university dormitories across the street can be clearly seen. “Every year different political bodies organize events focusing on the Nakba, in an attempt to make it the focal point of relations between Jews and Arabs in the area. What has never been done, and the time has come to do it, is to commemorate the Nakba in an alternative way, accessible to and created for the Israeli public—an event to remember the tragedy and great loss that befell the people who were here before ’48, many of which still live here,” said Noa Levy, a law student and organizer of the Nakba Day ceremony.
The pictures are incredible. The fact that 400 participants crowded the small plaza and that they read an alternative version of Yizkor, the Jewish prayer of mourning is even more so. The names of pre-1948 Palestinian villages inside what is today Israel, were read and the event included a moment of silence. For non-Israeli readers I must clarify this resembles very much Holocaust Day. Following this, the horrified Israeli government might declare a new Holocaust Day to commemorate the defiling of its Independence Day by its own citizens. “The education minister is of the opinion that the decision is wrong and infuriating,” said the minster’ spokesman, while referring to the university’s decision to allow the event. Beginners and unprofessional as they are, the Israeli administrators forgot to cover in their censorship law spontaneous events that come out of people’s warm hearts and not out of cold government’s budgets. However, if expanding on this one may be denounced as anti-Semite by the censoring, undemocratic, Israeli government. Isn’t that so, Mr. Netanyahu?

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Celebrate the "reunion of Jerusalem"

Saturday, June 4, 2011 at 8:46AM Gilad Atzmon

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Tim King : Is Israel Waging a Military Assault on Intellectuals?

Via MCS

– 18. May, 2011 

An unprecedented number of arrests, it just doesn’t make sense.

Tim King Salem-News.com

(SALEM, Ore.) – Yesterday we reported the arrest of Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh, a Salem-News.com writer and high profile educator and peace activist in Occupied Palestine, who in the past has been a professor at both Yale and Harvard.
It seems clear that Israel fears no boundaries, and that occupational forces are acting with a blatant disregard for even their own public image.
More than the fact that arresting peaceful men for speaking out is unconscionable; there seems to be a particular level of vengeance connected with this case.
According to what we are hearing, he will be released soon, though two other activists arrested with him who were American, were released while Dr. Qumsiyeh remained in custody.

Lawyers in Palestine say Mazin and two other Palestinians will be released on bail within the coming hours. Their cases will be reviewed later, and if there is no evidence to bring charges then the case will close and bail money returned.

Mazin’s family advised:

“We can all breathe a sigh of relief now. Your support and prayers meant so much to our family and made us strong. We thank each and every one of you. Next message hopefully will be coming from Mazin himself. In the meantime, our work continues until the rest of them are free.”
Salem-News.com published contact information for the Israeli embassy in yesterday’s report, urging readers to contact embassy staff in their respective countries and demand that the professor be released.
At one point it was relayed via the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem, that:
“They are aware of the many calls people made calling for Mazin’s release. They said at this moment, any additional calls would not change Mazin’s status.”
However, it appears that may not have been the case.

Targeting Intellectuals

We continue to be horrified and amazed that Israel targets intellectuals in this way, but then the first thing the Nazi’s did to Jewish resistance was to eliminate the ranks of academics and journalists.
This is the way of oppressive occupational armies that believe they are part of a supreme race. There is no reason to mince words over it. Zionist Jews consider themselves superior to non-Jews, or ‘goyam’, and a lower species, here to serve the needs of Zionist Jews.
We’re talking about a wide breadth of humanity who doesn’t qualify. Problems in Israel don’t stop there either. Dark complected Jews receive a lower level of regard and in some cases they are not allowed to attend schools with white Jewish students. There are many reported assaults and worse on Jews of color in Israel.
This is not the first time Mazin has been arrested for participating in peace protests in occupied Palestine. We have in fact reported three prior arrests:

May-15-2011: Demand the Release of Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh and Others – Salem-News.com
Dec-22-2010: Israelis Arrest Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh and Others Again During Peaceful Protest – J. Qumsiyeh for Salem-News.com
Jun-11-2010: Israeli Forces Release Distinguished Educator Under Threat of Future Harm – Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh Salem-News.com
Jun-09-2010 Salem-News.com Writer Arrested After Protest Near Bethlehem – Tim King Salem-News.com
May-09-2010: Israeli Occupation Forces Arrest Former Yale Professor – Mazin Qumsiyeh for Salem-News.com
Mar-02-2010: Israel Does Not Give Peace a Chance – Tim King Salem-News.com

Does anyone see a pattern here? He had never been arrested in his life, and then all of a sudden, while touring the U.S., he learned that:
“The Israeli army invaded our neighborhood at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, waking up my mother, wife and sister. Heavily-armed soldiers blocked roads during ‘the operation’. When my family opened the door, they demanded to see me. They were told I have already left to the U.S. After many more questions, they left a paper that states I am to appear at the military liaison office next Monday.”
It only got worse from there, and the fact that they did this when he was on tour is even more of an insult.

During the early morning IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) raid on his otherwise peaceful neighborhood, his sister and wife told the soldiers that the professor will not be back by the court date they had set. All because he participated in peace activity- that was their only beef with him.
He said at the time, back in March 2010, that was really disturbed him was the effect on his family and thousands of friends around the world who care.
“My 76-year old mother asks on the phone that I not go back and that I work in the U.S. for a while, a very painful suggestion for a mother to make about her only remaining son near her! I try to assure her that I have done nothing wrong and will not leave her… but she brings up many examples of people who also did not do any violence and were arrested, imprisoned, and their families had to go through a lot.”
That is everyday life for Palestinians, but Americans need to comprehend that the most accomplished professors here, people who would normally be granted a great deal of respect, are treated brutally and illegally.

Hope from Israel

It is important to note that the Israeli population is not all Zionist, and a growing contingent of Jews are standing up and speaking out over the terrible inhumane treatment of Palestinians.
Equally important is the fact that hundreds and hundreds of young Israelis are imprisoned for refusing to be a part of their oppressive military system. Israel is such a militant government that every single individual is forced to enter the Israeli Apartheid Forces at the age of 18.

Nakba – Palestine’s Continuing Catastrophe

The Palestinian catastrophe, known as the ‘Nakba’ began sixty three years and one day ago, when Israel became independent and began an ethnic cleansing program of indigenous Palestinian people. It was at a demonstration where people object verbally and peacefully to these policies, on this historic day, where Dr. Qumsiyeh was arrested.

Apartheid

Alison Weir
In Israel, speech can be a crime.

In Israel, laws are specifically designed to discriminate against Palestinians, people exactly like Professor Qumsiyeh, whom in my opinion, is one of the world’s greatest champions for peace and fairness.



For anyone who isn’t familiar with Israel’s practices, a simple answer is to watch this highly informative documentary called Occupation 101 which features another highly valued Salem-News.com writer, Allison Weir of IfAmericansOnlyKnew.com.
The very best thing you can possibly do, is stop what you are doing and watch this riveting, compelling documentary about Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
The problems are far from new, and in fact they are as old as Israel itself, which is a diaper laden infant of a country that badly needs to be changed.
In the January/February 1998 edition of Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Dr. Israel Shahak wrote in the article Israeli Discrimination Against Non-Jews Is Carefully Codified in State of Israel’s Laws:

The legal system of the State of Israel can be described as a weird mixture of advanced democracy and retrogressive discrimination, combined with clumsy attempts to hide the discriminatory reality. For example, in all Israeli laws except one, the Law of Return, the word “Jew” does not appear. The term employed when the law gives discriminatory privileges to Jews is that those privileges are granted to “persons who would have benefited from the Law of Return had they been outside the borders of Israel.” The Law of Return specifies that its benefits can be given only to Jews. However, Israeli propagandists calculate, correctly in my view, that a great majority of the opponents of discrimination would not dare to criticize this law. The second trick, especially beloved by the Meretz Party and other “leftist” hypocrites, is to campaign for and then pass a high-sounding law in favor of equality or human rights. Such laws, however, always contain one little paragraph stating that their provisions will not affect any laws or regulations enacted in the past. The high-sounding preambles of the new laws then can be solemnly quoted without mentioning that since discriminatory laws and rules were passed in the 1950s and early 1960s (by Labor, of course), the new laws cannot change the existing discrimination. When one understands those two tricks, one comprehends that Israeli laws, and even more so government regulations on all possible subjects, are full of discriminatory measures which, if employed against Jews anywhere else in the world, would be regarded as anti-Semitic.

The problems Mazin and so many others are wrestling with today, date all the way back to Israel’s conception, as Dr. Shahak described above.
They were wrong and unacceptable in a human sense then, and today this unwarranted apartheid legal system of Israel’s runs totally afoul of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

The bottom line is that people all over the world are watching this treatment of Dr. Qumsiyeh like hawks. All will remain vigilant and I suspect I am far from the only one who will continue to write about this frequently. It all serves as a distraction from the point Professor Qumsiyeh has been trying to make about the very place where he was arrested: Al- Wahala. The reports about this place are numerous and tragic and it seems proper that we list not all, but just some of the stories we have carried about this historic Palestinian town whose people deserve to live in peace, but have no such luck.

Nov-10-2010: Justice Delayed is Justice Denied – Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD. Salem-News.com
Nov-03-2010: Come to Al-Walaja Friday and to Palestine this Christmas – Mazin Qumsiyeh Salem-News.com
Aug-21-2010: Viva, Viva Negotiations! – Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD Salem-News.com
Aug-14-2010: First Friday of Ramadan: When 5 Seconds Seems Like Five Minutes – Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD Salem-News.com
Aug-08-2010: Follow Up on Incident at Al-Walaja – Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD Salem-News.com
Jun-22-2010: Popular Resistance Continues at Home and Abroad – Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh Salem-News.com
Jun-08-2010: Soldiers Uproot Agricultural Lands Near Bethlehem – Salem-News.com
May-25-2010: Bob Birch Reports from Palestine’s Occupied Territories – Bob Birch Special to Salem–News.com
May-22-2010: Arrests and Injuries at Al-Ma’sara – Mazin Qumsiyeh Salem-News.com
May-08-2010: Palestine’s Popular Resistance Continues – Mazin Qumsiyeh for Salem-News.com
Apr-14-2011: Human Rights: Optimism and Change – Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh Salem-News.com
Jan-16-2010: Tunisia and Reshaping the Arab World – Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh Salem-News.com

Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh

More on Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh

Mazin Qumsiyeh teaches and does research at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities in occupied Palestine. He previously served on the faculties of the University of Tennessee, Duke and Yale Universities.
He served on the board/steering/executive committees of a number of groups including Peace Action Education Fund, the US Campaign to End the Occupation, the Palestinian American Congress, Association for One Democratic State in Israel/Palestine, and BoycottIsraeliGoods.org.
He is now president of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People and coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Sahour. He advised many other groups including Sommerville Divestment Project, Olympia-Rafah Sister City Project, Palestine Freedom Project, Sabeel North America, and National Council of Churches of Christ USA.  He is an active member of a number of human rights groups (Amnesty, Peace action, Human Rights Watch, ACLU etc.).

He published several books the most acclaimed of which is “Sharing the Land of Canaan: human rights and the Israeli/Palestinian Struggle” which was also translated to spanish.

He also has an activism book published electronically on his web site (http://qumsiyeh.org).  His main interest is media activism and public education.  He published over 200 letters to the editor and 100 op-ed pieces and interviewed in TV and radio extensively (local, national and international). Appearances in national media included the Washington Post, New York Times, Boston Globe, CNBC, C-Span, and ABC, among others. He also regularly lectures on issues of human rights and international law. He has a new book out shortly titled “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of Hope and Empowerment” which reviews resistance going back to the beginning of the Zionist project in the 19th century until today.

Tim King is Salem-News.com Editor and Writer He is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com’s Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Silver Spoke Award by the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (2011), Excellence in Journalism Award by the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs (2010), Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), First-place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Tim was a member of the National Press Photographer’s Association for several years and is a current member of the Orange County Press Club.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Amira Hass: Israel turned the Nakba into a 63-year process

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
18 May 2011
By Amira Hass, Haaretz – 18 May 2011

Israel crowns itself as the winner in the global competition of victimhood; yet it manufactures methods of oppression and dispossession.

How natural it is for Israeli spokesmen to assert that the Nakba Day marches from Syria and Lebanon were the product of incitement and foreign calculations. The state, which bases its existence on 2,000 years of longing for and belonging to this country, shows contempt toward palpable displays of belonging to and longing for the same country of those who we expelled 63 years ago – and of their descendants.

The memorial day for the Holocaust, and the memorial day for the Nakba, are behind us. So the time has come to write about them both. “Holocaust” and “Nakba” are mistaken definitions, because they do not distinguish between natural disasters and man-made catastrophes. But the definitions gained currency. So too did negative attitudes, such as the denial of the historical occurrence and its political implications. For example, that Jewish survivors became refugees in their own lands of birth, or that Palestinians in the diaspora and those who remained in the country share a close bond.

Another example would be the refusal to acknowledge the suffering endured by the other. Here it will be said “the Arabs started the war”, and there it will be said “the Jews caused the Nakba – the expulsion of the Palestinian people from its homeland, whereas the Palestinians bear no responsibility for the Holocaust – the genocide of the Jewish people.”

In a private, personal sense, the Holocaust did not become the “past;” for those who survived it, it continues until they die. Something of this ever-painful continuousness is dictating – to a greater or lesser degree – our own lives, as the offspring of the survivors.

In contrast, with regard to the Jewish collective that came into existence after 1945, the Holocaust has a beginning and an end. The Allies’ victory before Germany had time to extinguish additional Jewish communities, the establishment of the State of Israel, Germany’s acknowledgment of the murder industry it established – all such events marked the end of this chapter of history.

The same for individual Palestinians, their beloved one who were murdered by Jews or killed in battles, the painful uprooting from homes – never turned into sheer memory. But 1948 is just a first chapter in a series that hasn’t ended yet. For those who haven’t experienced expulsion and bereavement – Israel provided ample opportunities to share such fate.

How much skill has Israel displayed in the wrong-doing to refugees in Gaza? How many times a week do the “present absentees,” refugees who live within the borders of the state, pass by lands which were given to Jews at the behest of the legislators’ cunning? What are the statistics of chronic poverty and structural discrimination faced by the “Arab sector” in Israel, and by Palestinian Jerusalemites, if not a nakba by other means?

And what is the sickening similarity between the pressuring of Bedouin away from Negev lands today and the removal of 1948 refugee Bedouin in the Jordan Valley? How is it that after 1967 tens of thousands lost their right to live in the West Bank (including Jerusalem ) and the Gaza Strip? Israel did not overcome its instinct to expel, and is today focusing on the Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Every Jew in the world, whether a citizen of the U.S. or Morocco, has rights in this one country, from the river to the sea, that we denied to those who live in it today, and those who were born in it and grow old as refugees in Lebanon or Syria. And the Oslo process? Israel devised it as a stratagem to impose the solution of reservations.

Israel makes capital out of the six million to justify policies of destruction and expulsion not just in the past, but in the present and future. As the state which claims to be the heir of the Holocaust martyrs, Israel crowns itself as the winner in the global, historical competition of victimhood. Yet it manufactures methods of oppression and dispossession of the individual and the collective, methods which turn the Nakba into a continuing, 63-year process.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Protesters shot dead for shouting: Nakba Remembrance Day 2011

Posted by realistic bird on May 16, 2011
by Brenda Heard, Friends of Lebanon
The 15th of May is a day of remembrance. Around the world, we remember the systematic displacement and massacre of the Palestinian people. In their honour, we take note of the necessity of safeguarding the sliver of impoverished land that has been left to the survivors. We pay tribute to those who have refused to be stomped into oblivion.

Yet the Israeli newspaper Haaretz bemoans (1) self-righteously the ‘Palestinian protests for the annual Nakba Day, which mourns the creation of the State of Israel’. At this phraseology we can only shake our heads and say, ‘no, it is not about you; it is about the injustice done to the Palestinian people; it is this injustice that is the catastrophe’.

It is this Haaretz-style twisted logic that tries to excuse the Israeli military shooting of hundreds of protesters—killing at least fifteen—on the Lebanese and Syrian borders on Nakba Remembrance Day 2011. For instance, Haaretz never mentions that Majdal Shams, where one of the demonstrations took place, is disputed as occupied Syrian land. Instead, Haaretz scorns ‘large numbers of infiltrators trying to breach Syria’s southern border’, as though they were an invading army. At the same time, in that twisted logic, it reveals photographs of maybe a hundred or so people milling about with a few flags:

As for the Lebanese border, Haaretz repeatedly admits that protesters were killed ‘on the Lebanese side of its shared frontier with Israel’, yet boldly quotes Israeli Military Spokesman Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai, who ‘said troops opened fire at a large crowd of Lebanese protesters who approached the border with Israel. He said soldiers fired at the crowd when the demonstrators reached the border and began vandalizing the fence, and that the army was aware of casualties on the other side’. [emphasis added]

Haaretz acknowledges that the Lebanese Army was present and containing the demonstration. It acknowledges that the Palestinian youths had only words and stones to hurl at the Israeli Army tanks metres away. It acknowledges that the Israeli Army knew it was inflicting casualties.

Yet the Haaretz headline reads ‘Eight said killed as IDF fires on infiltrators from Syria and Lebanon’. As though the neighbouring countries were launching military invasions. As though as the Israeli troops, in their tanks, were merely defending themselves by shooting down unarmed protesters.

There is no mention of ‘Palestinians’ in the headline. There is never a mention of ‘Palestine’. No, in the media that propagates the Zionist agenda, the Palestinians who dared to shout their frustration are shunned as ‘infiltrators’, or as the Israeli military labels them (2), ‘rioters and inciters’. Indeed it seems the media takes its cue from the Israeli military itself, which described (3) the day’s happenings as:

‘Additionally, along the Lebanese border, several rioters attempted to breach the border fence and to infiltrate into Israeli territory. IDF forces responded by firing warning shots’.
A very fatal warning, we should add. In this so-called bastion of democracy in the Middle East, to carry a Palestinian flag as a reminder that it is, contrary to the claims of the whingeing PM Netanyahu, the very existence of Palestine that is in jeopardy—this simple act of demonstration is punishable by death. Instant and irreversible execution.

The Lebanese Army has confirmed that 10 protesters were shot dead and 112 wounded in Lebanon on Nakba Remembrance Day. Yet the Israeli military spokesperson ignores (4) this reality and refuses all responsibility:

‘The IDF emphasizes that attempts to damage property or cause harm to security forces will be responded to. The IDF sees the governments of Syria and Lebanon as responsible for any violence or provocation towards Israel that emanates from their respective territories’.

Déjà vu? In March 1978, the Israeli government declared Lebanon ‘responsible’ for the actions of displaced Palestinians, never mind that they had been displaced by the Israeli forces in the first place. And so the Zionist military attacked Lebanon with a fury that resulted in a twenty-two year military occupation. As primed as the Israelis are to wage war again, however, history will not be repeated. The people of the world who seek peace will continue to remember. And we will continue to work to eradicate the injustice of apartheid.

Notes
(1) http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/eight-said-killed-as-idf-fires-on-infiltrators-from-syria-and-lebanon-1.361841

(2) (3) (4) http://idfspokesperson.com/

Protesters shot dead for shouting: Nakba Remembrance Day 2011

Posted by realistic bird on May 16, 2011

by Brenda Heard, Friends of Lebanon
The 15th of May is a day of remembrance. Around the world, we remember the systematic displacement and massacre of the Palestinian people. In their honour, we take note of the necessity of safeguarding the sliver of impoverished land that has been left to the survivors. We pay tribute to those who have refused to be stomped into oblivion.

Yet the Israeli newspaper Haaretz bemoans (1) self-righteously the ‘Palestinian protests for the annual Nakba Day, which mourns the creation of the State of Israel’. At this phraseology we can only shake our heads and say, ‘no, it is not about you; it is about the injustice done to the Palestinian people; it is this injustice that is the catastrophe’.

It is this Haaretz-style twisted logic that tries to excuse the Israeli military shooting of hundreds of protesters—killing at least fifteen—on the Lebanese and Syrian borders on Nakba Remembrance Day 2011. For instance, Haaretz never mentions that Majdal Shams, where one of the demonstrations took place, is disputed as occupied Syrian land. Instead, Haaretz scorns ‘large numbers of infiltrators trying to breach Syria’s southern border’, as though they were an invading army. At the same time, in that twisted logic, it reveals photographs of maybe a hundred or so people milling about with a few flags:

As for the Lebanese border, Haaretz repeatedly admits that protesters were killed ‘on the Lebanese side of its shared frontier with Israel’, yet boldly quotes Israeli Military Spokesman Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai, who ‘said troops opened fire at a large crowd of Lebanese protesters who approached the border with Israel. He said soldiers fired at the crowd when the demonstrators reached the border and began vandalizing the fence, and that the army was aware of casualties on the other side’. [emphasis added]

Haaretz acknowledges that the Lebanese Army was present and containing the demonstration. It acknowledges that the Palestinian youths had only words and stones to hurl at the Israeli Army tanks metres away. It acknowledges that the Israeli Army knew it was inflicting casualties.

Yet the Haaretz headline reads ‘Eight said killed as IDF fires on infiltrators from Syria and Lebanon’. As though the neighbouring countries were launching military invasions. As though as the Israeli troops, in their tanks, were merely defending themselves by shooting down unarmed protesters.

There is no mention of ‘Palestinians’ in the headline. There is never a mention of ‘Palestine’. No, in the media that propagates the Zionist agenda, the Palestinians who dared to shout their frustration are shunned as ‘infiltrators’, or as the Israeli military labels them (2), ‘rioters and inciters’. Indeed it seems the media takes its cue from the Israeli military itself, which described (3) the day’s happenings as:

‘Additionally, along the Lebanese border, several rioters attempted to breach the border fence and to infiltrate into Israeli territory. IDF forces responded by firing warning shots’.
A very fatal warning, we should add. In this so-called bastion of democracy in the Middle East, to carry a Palestinian flag as a reminder that it is, contrary to the claims of the whingeing PM Netanyahu, the very existence of Palestine that is in jeopardy—this simple act of demonstration is punishable by death. Instant and irreversible execution.

The Lebanese Army has confirmed that 10 protesters were shot dead and 112 wounded in Lebanon on Nakba Remembrance Day. Yet the Israeli military spokesperson ignores (4) this reality and refuses all responsibility:

‘The IDF emphasizes that attempts to damage property or cause harm to security forces will be responded to. The IDF sees the governments of Syria and Lebanon as responsible for any violence or provocation towards Israel that emanates from their respective territories’.

Déjà vu? In March 1978, the Israeli government declared Lebanon ‘responsible’ for the actions of displaced Palestinians, never mind that they had been displaced by the Israeli forces in the first place. And so the Zionist military attacked Lebanon with a fury that resulted in a twenty-two year military occupation. As primed as the Israelis are to wage war again, however, history will not be repeated. The people of the world who seek peace will continue to remember. And we will continue to work to eradicate the injustice of apartheid.

Notes
(1) http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/eight-said-killed-as-idf-fires-on-infiltrators-from-syria-and-lebanon-1.361841

(2) (3) (4) http://idfspokesperson.com/

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

I´m sick of 63 years of Israeli occupation

Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 8:31AM Gilad Atzmon

I´m sick of The Wall*
I´m sick of the checkpoints between Palestinian cities
I´m sick of illegal Israeli settlers and settlements
I´m sick of having the Hebrew language on my ID card
I´m sick of people not knowing anything about our history
but knowing so much about Jewish history
I´m sick of people ignoring the Palestinian Right of Return
and accepting the Jewish Law of Return
I´m sick of the Oslo Agreement which no one here
wanted in the first place
I´m sick of the Palestinian Authority
having zero authority
I´m sick of watching my father being humiliated at checkpoints
by people my age and younger
I´m sick of my international friends having to lie about
coming to visit; being interrogated, stripsearched
and sometimes deported in the process
I´m sick of people not understanding
what “Occupation” is
I´m sick of being scared all the time
I´m sick of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
being a normal state of being here in Palestine
I´m sick of how ineffective the UN has become
I´m sick of International Humanitarian Law
not applying to the State of Israel
I´m sick of how fighting for basic human rights for Palestinians
or being critical of Israeli policy
is so often labelled “anti-Semitic”
I´m sick of the fact that everybody forgets I´m a Semite
I´m sick of hearing Israelis complain about discrimination
when the State of Israel was founded on a principle of ethnic purity
I´m sick of living in a time
when racial profiling has become acceptable
I´m sick of constantly being treated as a suspect
I´m sick of how mainstream media portrays us and our situation
I´m sick of the whole world caring about Gilad Shalit
when there are more than 7000 Palestinians inside Israeli prisons
I´m sick of trying to defend myself, friends or countrymen
and being labelled a terrorist
I´m sick of the fact that everywhere I go
I can see The Wall, a settlement or Israeli soldier

I´m sick of

63

years

of Israeli occupation
 *I try to find out who is the poet behind these moving words. In case you know, please let me know.

May 15: Gazans, Arabs to Enclose the Zionist Entity, PA Pal. Official: Stalled Peace Talks would Make Intifada Hard to Stop

Local Editor

15 May is a day that reveals the deep gap in the region, and sums up the Arab-Israeli conflict.

63 years have passed on the Palestinian’s Nakba day (catastrophe), and in its commemoration, the Israeli President Shimon Perez comes out to illustrate Israel as “the democratic state where all citizens are treated equally, without regard for religion or nationality”.

As the Zionist entity has been preparing for its “Independence Day” celebrations, the Palestinians and Arabs have been planning mass rallies to their land that they are prohibited from crossing into.

Rallies from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and from inside the Palestinian territories will take off Sunday towards the borders with occupied Palestine to enclose the Zionist entity.

The Gaza rally spokesperson Dr. Issam Odwan assured that the latest regional developments, specifically in Egypt and Tunisia served this project in Gaza, referring to the fall of the Israeli allies, Egypt’s Hosni Moubarak and Tunisia’s Zein Al Abidin bin Ali.
In an interview with Al Manar website, Dr. Odwan praised the calls for rallies in Egypt towards Rafah border crossing, assuring that they were a great encouragement to the people in Gaza.
“Two marches were organized, the first takes off from south Gaza to receive the Egyptian march, and the second is Northern the strip at Beit Hanoun border crossing that separates between Gaza and the occupied territories,” he clarified.

The Israeli occupation took precautious military and security measures ahead of the protests; however, according to Israeli media, it warned its soldiers against firing live bullets that could cause casualties among Palestinians, which would serve in escalating the situation.

For his part, Dr. Odwan considered that “the Zionist entity is following the events with concern and fear, as it does not quit its threats against rally participants coming near the barbed wire”.

He emphasized that “we are not planning a suicide attack, and we don’t want to endanger people’s lives. The rally is set to take place one kilometer away from the wire, and it aims at sending a political message that stresses the Palestinian rights and disturbs the Zionist entity”.

“The Israeli enemy thinks twice before making any violent move against the participants because it is aware that any escalation would turn the rally into a revolt… the Israeli enemy will preserve calm on the borders with Gaza”, the Gaza rally spokesman assured.

Pal. Official: Stalled Peace Talks would Make Intifada Hard to Stop

The Palestinian Authority would not be able to prevent another intifada in the face of stagnant peace talks with Israel, a senior Fatah official told Army Radio on Thursday.

The comment was made as officials in both Tel Aviv and Ramallah urged that passions be kept in check during the three days of Palestinian commemoration of the Nakba.

Speaking with Army Radio on Thursday, Abbas Zaki, a senior Fatah official and member of the Fatah delegation to reconciliation talks with Hamas, said that, faced with Mideast uprisings, the Palestinian Authority would not be able to suppress popular unrest.

“The Palestinian leadership facing a [diplomatic] impasse could not quiet the Palestinian street who had watched the achievements of other [Mideast] peoples,” Zaki said.

The Fatah official reiterated the danger of popular unrest in the West Bank faced with stalled peace talks with Israel, saying that the Palestinian people would “plan their efforts according to how hopeful they are.”

The Fatah official said that an upcoming unity government with Hamas would honor any agreements between the PA and the Zionist entity, saying: “The government is Abu Mazen’s [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] government and he is committed to reaching peace with Israel and to the Israeli partner, if such a partner be found.”

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Eight killed as IDF fires on Protestors in Syria and Lebanon

Marching to Majdal Shams
Israeli gunfire killed six people and wounded 71 others on the border in south Lebanon during a Palestinian refugee protest on Sunday to mark “Nakba Day,” a local medical source said.
Among the wounded, thirteen are in critical condition.
The UN peacekeeping force in the border region called for “maximum restraint on all sides in order to prevent any further casualties” and “immediate concrete security steps on the ground” to prevent any further bloodshed.

On the other side of the border, Israeli gunfire killed four protesters and wounded more than sixty others as civilians crossed from Syria onto the annexed Golan Heights on Sunday, sparking a war of words between Damascus and Jewish state.
Four people were killed and four others critically hurt by Israeli gunfire after protesters from a Syrian-held part of the Golan entered the annexed territory, a doctor who treated casualties said.

Troops fired live rounds and tear gas at the protesters who suddenly burst through to Israeli-held territory rather than demonstrating alongside the border fence as they have in past years on the anniversary of Israel’s 1948 creation.

The unrest came as Palestinians in the occupied territories, inside Israel and across the region marked the anniversary of the Jewish state’s 1948 creation, known in Arabic as the “nakba” or “catastrophe.”

As a result, IDF declared the area a “closed military zone” in retaliation for the crisis emerged.

“Civilians breached the Israel-Syria border near the Israeli village of Majdal Shams,” the Israeli military said. “Forces opened fire in order to prevent the violent rioters from illegally infiltrating Israeli territory.

“From initial reports, there are dozens of injured,” it said in a statement.

Syria’s foreign ministry, meanwhile, condemned Israel for opening fire on protesters on the Golan, in south Lebanon and Gaza, warning that the Jewish state would bear full responsibility.

A Palestinian throwing a stone at Israeli security
 forces during clashes at Qalandiya checkpoint,
near the West Bank city of Ramallah
on Nakba Day, May 15, 2011

 “We firmly denounce the criminal Israeli actions against our people in the Golan Heights, Palestine and southern Lebanon that left several people dead and wounded,” the foreign ministry said.

“Israel will have to bear full responsibility for its actions.”

An Israeli official also pointed the finger at Assad’s regime, which has been rocked by two months of pro-reform protests inspired by Arab revolts which have ousted strongmen in Tunisia and Egypt.

“This appears to be a cynical yet transparent act by the Syrian regime to create a crisis on the border in order to distract attention from the very real problems that regime faces at home,” he said, on condition of anonymity.

Channel 1 television said its correspondent in Majdal Shams, a Druze town on the Golan, said he had come across 30-40 infiltrators in its main square, some of who said they were Palestinians from Yarmuk refugee camp in Damascus.

The army sealed off the town and its immediate surroundings and carried out house-to-house searches for infiltrators, defense sources said.

This Nakba Day event is considered one of the worst incidents for decades along a ceasefire line that has been quiet since a 1974 truce accord.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Al-Nakba Day of 1948, Marks the March of Return on 2011

Thousands of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are set to march towards the borders of occupied Palestinian territories to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of al-Nakba Day.
Nakba Day, or the day of catastrophe, marks the 63rd anniversary of the occupation of Palestine by the Israeli army and the expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their land in 1948.
The Israeli soldiers wiped nearly 500 Palestinian villages and towns off the map during the offensive, leaving the Palestinian refugees dreaming of an eventual return to their homeland more than six decades later.
Organizers of the rally expected 50,000 protesters to march towards the villages of Bint Jbail and Maroun al-Ras in outhern Lebanon on Sunday.
Thousands of Israeli troops are on high alert across the occupied lands due to the protests in the run-up to Sunday’s commemoration of the Nakba Day.
Meanwhile, thousands of Palestinians gathered in Jabaliya and Nuseirat refugee camps in the northern and central parts of the Gaza strip on Friday to commemorate the Nakba Day.

WEST BANK

On the same day, thousands of demonstrators held Palestinian flags and a giant key symbolic of their optimism to return home in the West Bank town of Beit Lahm (Bethlehem).
Israeli occupation forces blockaded yesterday overnight the West Bank cities to avoid confrontations with Palestinians who are preparing to mark the 63rd anniversary of al-Nakba day.
Local sources reported that Israeli forces deployed nearly 10.000 policeman and soldiers especially in the East Jerusalem and in 1948 territories.
Sources added that Israeli presence will be intensified during the next days in order to prevent any military attacks by Palestinian fighters.
A Palestinian teenager was shot in his stomach on Friday during clashes erupted in Silwan town in the East Jerusalem.
Today, Israeli forces invaded civilians’ houses and tampered with their contents in the Old city in Jerusalem, abducting a number of Palestinian youths.
JORDAN
Thousands of Palestinians and Arabs began to gather on the Jordanian side of the borders with Israel to mark the 63rd anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba and to call for the return of refugees to their homes and lands they were forced to leave in 1948 when Israel was created.
Yesterday, hundreds of protesters, heeding a call from Palestinian Facebook organizers, took to the streets in the capital Amman and called for the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state on Friday.
Organizers set May 13, 14, and 15 to implement the plan of return to Palestine. On Friday, thousands of people gathered for Friday prayer in support of the Palestinian cause in Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Pakistan. Calls were made for Saturday protests outside US and Israeli embassies worldwide.
The plan will reach a highlight on Sunday when Arabs in countries neighbouring Palestine march to the borders with Israel, while participants in other countries will gather in front of US embassies and consulates.
The Return March to the Occupied Land, or the Third Palestinian Intifada, as some websites have called it, is an attempt by Palestinians and Arabs to bring hundreds of thousands of people to participate in protests near the borders with Israel to call for the right of return for refugees.

The calls were made through the electronic social media networks, mainly Facebook.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Nakba: a Remembrance

Via MCS

– 12. May, 2011

Nakba: a Remembrance

by William A. Cook

What silent communion this scene holds,

Of a life lived and one yet to unfold;

What forlorn love those encircling arms portend,

That would protect against the evils that descend

From unseen missiles yet to come with unlived years,

Where hopes and dreams dissolve into unforeseen fears

That falls like a funeral pall upon this child,

Who sits so quiet, so pensive, so mild

Beneath those crescent arms as they reach to shield

This innocent lost in this barren field.

What catastrophe is caught in this aged face,

What last years lost in silent disgrace,

What father is now absent from this scene,

What mother abandoned to a fate unseen?

How relive a life lost, what might have been?

How rekindle love in a world of sin?

How undo the infectious toxin of hate?

How understand the true terror of fate?

I share this tent of sorrow and of shame,

The darkness in the soul, the guilt and blame,

A seared image of suffering and pain–

The curse of Cain rises– once again.

~o0o~


William A. Cook is a Professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California. His most recent book, The Plight of the Palestinians, was published this past summer by Macmillan. He can be reached at www.drwilliamacook.com or wcook@laverne.edu.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

New Israeli Discriminatory Laws

by Stephen Lendman

In April, the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel discussed six new laws passed during the Knesset’s 2011 winter term “that directly or indirectly target the rights of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel.”

Overall, they’re treated like a fifth column, denied equal rights as Jews in a country just as much theirs. More so, in fact, as their forebears lived there for centuries or longer.

Each new law is discussed briefly below.

(1) “Duty of disclosure for recipients of support from a foreign political entity – 2011”

Imposing restrictions on foreign funding of human rights organizations, it established two parliamentary committees of inquiry to investigate them, “a tactic commonly used by authoritarian regimes to control the activities of” groups they target.

In fact, attacking human rights organizations that represent or defend the rights of vulnerable groups shows “the mask of democratic norms in Israel today is off.”

(2) The “Nakba Law”

When first proposed, it banned and criminalized commemorating it as a way to “erase a seminal event in Palestinian history from Israeli consciousness.”

Enacted as the Budget Foundations Law, it lets the finance minister reduce or eliminate funding for any institution or entity engaging in any activity at variance with Israel’s definition as a “Jewish and democratic” state, or commemorates Israel’s Independence Day as one of mourning.

In other words, it violates Arab history, culture, and right to express, teach, or disseminate it freely. Adalah and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) will petition Israel’s Supreme Court to annul the law, despite rarely ever getting favorable rulings, and when issued sitting governments have violated them with impunity.

(3) “Law to Amend the Cooperative Societies Ordinance”

Known also as the Admissions Committees Law, it permits committees in hundreds of communities and towns on state-controlled land to exclude “socially unsuitable” applicants. This “arbitrary criterion” is thus used to exclude Arabs and others for reasons real democracies call abhorrent and prohibit.

Since 2007, Adalah has challenged this policy before Israel’s High Court. In March 2011, it filed a new petition to annul it.

(4) “Israeli Lands Law” (Amendment No. 3)

It prevents anyone from selling or renting property for over five years or bequeathing it to “foreigners.” They’re defined as non-residents or non-citizens of Israel, as well as Jews who automatically may immigrate under Israel’s 1950 Law of Return. “This law amounts to illegal, direct interference in the private property of Palestinians, whose refugee relatives may never regain” land rightfully theirs.

(5) “Citizenship Law (Amendment No. 10)

It permits revoking citizenship rights of anyone convicted of espionage (as Israel defines it), assisting enemies in times of war (again loosely defined to fit state policy), and other acts defined under the 2005 Prohibition on Terrorist Financing Law.

While suspects of the above offenses fall under Israel’s criminal law, new Knesset legislation “renders citizenship conditional” as a way to target Israeli Arabs. In addition, a new amendment to the Criminal Procedures Law targets non-Jews suspected of security offenses. Overwhelmingly this affects Israeli Arabs and Gazans, facing “harsh restrictions (of) their due process rights.”

The law specifically overturns a High Court 2010 decision – “Anonymous v. The State of Israel.”

(6) Another new law strips salary and pension benefits from Knesset members, designated by the Attorney General to be suspected of crimes punishable by 10 or more years in prison, and/or who don’t appear at criminal proceedings or investigations to answer for them.

This “arbitrary law” targeted former Arab MK Dr. Azmi Bishara. In March 2007, he left Israel because of unjust allegations against him, about which indictments never followed showing they were spurious.

Anyone in Israel not Jewish faces extreme racist discrimination, especially Arabs for their faith, ethnicity, and cultural differences.

Adalah is challenging some of these laws. For others it will only do so if someone is unjustly harmed by their provisions. In fact, everyone for equitable justice should denounce all discriminatory laws. Nothing whatever justifies them

A Final CommentOn April 28, Israel’s Supreme Court dismissed a Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) petition filed on behalf of over 1,000 Cast Lead victims. It asked the High Court to order Israel’s State Attorney “to refrain from raising a claim under the (two-year) statute of limitations in future civil suits” for just compensation.

PCHR agued that statutory limitations should only apply to when Israel’s illegal siege ends. The combination of time limitations, blockade, and monetary barriers deny victims judicial redress. In effect, they establish a Gazan “accountability free-zone,” letting Israel violate international law with impunity.

At issue, is the universally recognized right to compensation for violations of international law, what neither Israeli governments nor its High Court respect. Its April 28 dismissal of legitimate redress is a blight on its reputation as an equitable tribunal. It’s also a serious setback for Israel’s victims.

“Significantly, the Court’s decision to dismiss the petition was procedurally flawed.” It denied PCHR its lawful right to reply by May 3. It shows Court complicity with rogue officials and soldiers, shielding them from justice, as well as denying legitimate compensation to their victims.

Moreover, the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Cast Lead concluded that such actions amounts to “persecution, a crime against humanity.”

International law, in fact, recognizes the right of all victims to redress, including compensation, when violations have been committed against them. Yet Gazans are now prevented from “accessing justice, in violation of their fundamental rights.” They now face three major obstacles:

(1) Statute of limitations: Under Israeli law, civil damage claimants have two years to act from the date of the incident, or lose out entirely. However, Gaza’s closure and other restrictions prevented them from submitting filings within the required time. In fact, before August 2002, the period allowed was seven years.

(2) Monetary barrier: Israeli courts require claimants to pay court insurance fees before filing. While courts may, in fact, wave them, they’re always applied to Palestinians, putting them under an unfair burden. Moreover, exact amounts aren’t fixed. They’re determined on a case-by-case basis. For lost or damaged property, they’re usually a percent of its value. In cases of injury or death, no formal guideline exists.

PCHR said that in recent wrongful death cases it filed, claimants had to pay insurance costs of $5,600, an insurmountable amount for most Palestinians. “Simply put,” said PCHR, “claimants from Gaza – crippled by the economic devastation wrought by the occupation and the illegal closure – cannot afford this fee and their cases are being dismissed and closed,” denying them justice.

(3) Physical barriers: Under Israeli law, valid testimonies require victims or witnesses be in court to undergo cross-examination. Under siege, however, since June 2007, Gazans were denied permission to appear in court. As a result, their claims were dismissed.

Moreover, PCHR lawyers are prohibited from entering Israel to represent clients and must hire Israeli ones at extra cost. However, plaintiffs also are denied entry to meet with attorneys, and they, in turn, get no permission to enter Gaza. In fact, the entire process is rigged to insure injustice, another indictment of cruel and discriminatory intolerance.

PCHR said the policies and practices it challenged “perpetuate a climate of pervasive impunity.” As a result, they effectively made Gaza an “accountability free zone,” what, in fact, applies throughout Occupied Palestine, reinforced by rogue justices misinterpreting international law by violating it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

posted by Steve Lendman @ 1:08 AM

WHEN I RETURN–A collective celebration of hope and promise

By uspcn Published: May 3, 2011

WHEN I RETURN–A collective celebration of hope and promise

 
We are pleased to invite you to participate in When I Return, a US Palestinian Community Network initiative aiming to highlight community and collective aspirations for the freedom and liberation of Palestine.
When I Return is an online viral participatory campaign featuring simple notes by Palestinians, Arabs and allies describing what they hope to do when they return to Palestine.
When I Return intends to unleash the Nakba’s daily resonance, as not only a vanishing point in a past to be commemorated, but a persistent moment binding us to our past, our present and to each other. In this project, we hope to take part in reviving the celebratory and revolutionary spirit that has always been a part of the Palestinian national struggle, working against all odds, bolstered by our collective will to always resist, always dream. In this year of revolutionary hope and change, now more than ever, we know, as we have always known, Palestine will be free.

This project asks you, for just a moment, to take liberation for granted, and to think of your first day after liberation. What will you do? Where will you go? What will you be dreaming of next?

The project cannot work without your participation. We are inviting a select group of Palestinian, Arab and ally scholars, community organizers, artists and activists, of all ages, to submit their own contributions for the launch.

In order to contribute to this project, please send us a statement in whatever medium you choose, video, audio, text, musical piece or artwork, in Arabic, English or Spanish, that completes or addresses either of two statements:

“When I return to Palestine, I will…”

or

“When Palestine is liberated, I will…”

It can, but need not be, somber; the joys of liberty and freedom can be as mundane, funny or as profound as you wish.

Please submit to: whenireturn@palestineconference.org.

In your submission, please indicate:
1) Your first and/or last name (however you would like to be featured)
2) Your current location
3) If you are Palestinian, your town/village of origin.

In order to be ready for the launch, please submit your contribution by May 10, 2011.
Campaign launch will be on May 14, 2011.
Your contribution will be featured on a website that will launch on May 14, 2011. A viral campaign will also begin on Twitter (#whenireturn), as well as Facebook. Submissions to both will be fed into the website.
Statements are currently being collected from Palestinians all over the world. A member of the initiative is currently working on video footage in refugee camps, and another is interviewing Nakba survivors in the United States.

We look forward to your participation!
Kindest regards,

Ryah Aqel and Andrew Dalack
‘When I Return’

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Israeli education ministry launches Land Day witch hunt

Report, The Electronic Intifada, 13 April 2011

Palestinians mark Land Day in Jaffa, March 2011. (Oren Ziv/ActiveStills)

Educators and students who took part in the 35th annual Land Day commemorations on 30 March are being investigated by the Israeli education ministry, which sent letters to Palestinian schools inside Israel demanding to see attendance reports.

Land Day is the annual day of remembrance for six Palestinians with Israeli citizenship gunned down by Israeli forces in 1976 during a general strike in protest of expanded land confiscation inside the state. Since Land Day protests began, many Palestinian citizens of Israel, across all sectors, have engaged in general strikes on 30 March.

The Alternative Information Center reported that “Dr. Orna Simchon, director of the [Israeli] Education Ministry’s northern district, sent a letter to Palestinian schools in the region on Land Day, demanding to know whether classes were held that day and if not, why. They were also asked to immediately report the attendance records for the day, including lists of teachers who had and had not come to school” (“Israel Begins Witch Hunt against Palestinian Educators, Pupils who Honoured Land Day,” 6 April 2011).

The Follow-up Committee on Arab Education – Israel responded to the investigation, sending a letter to members of the Knesset (Parliament) and the Ministry of Education.

The letter stated, in part: “We wish to emphasize that this is the full right of the Arab population, as a national minority and as citizens with equal rights, to conduct a strike in order to protest policies of discrimination and home demolitions, together with the worrying racist tendencies that have picked up speed in the state, in addition to the raging racism that is expressed by, amongst other ways, racist legislation that pushes Israel to become an apartheid state.”

The letter demanded that education ministry officials cease the investigations and “persecution of the Arab teachers,” and added that “[s]uch inexplicable steps serve solely to increase the feeling of distrust of the Arab public in the system and the alienation amongst Arab pupils, teachers and parents.”

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Palestinian schools in Lydd were personally visited by education ministry representatives, who conducted “surprise visits that morning and checked which teachers were absent” (“Education Ministry hunting for Arab teachers absent on Land Day,” 11 April 2011).

A teacher told Haaretz: “We felt like we were under a military regime … Like they were searching for criminals.”

This attack on Palestinians with Israeli citizenship who participate in actions that commemorate Palestinian struggle and resistance comes on the heels of the Knesset recently passing the so-called Nakba Law, which criminalizes recognition of the expulsion of more than 750,000 indigenous Palestinians during the establishment of the State of Israel in 1947-48.

Israel criminalizes commemoration of the Nakba

>

Jillian Kestler-D’Amours, The Electronic Intifada, 29 March 2011

Young Palestinian refugees, victims of the Nakba, study at a refugee camp in Syria, 1959. (UN Photo)

A bill was passed by the Israeli Knesset (parliament) last week which calls on the government to deny funding to any organization, institution or municipality that commemorates the founding of the Israeli state as a day of mourning. The bill has become known as the “Nakba bill,” referring to the ethnic cleansing of historic Palestine during and before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1947-48.

“Law will not influence the way we commemorate the Nakba,” Haneen Zoabi, Palestinian member of the Knesset, told The Electronic Intifada. “On the contrary, we must prove to our people and to the state that we will not be afraid from this law and that this will not succeed in oppressing our feeling or our identity. We will commemorate the Nakba in a much more impressive way this year than we ever did.”

“This is a kind of law to control our memory, to control our collective memory. It’s a very stupid law which punishes our feelings. It seems that the history of the victim is threatening the Zionist state,” Zoabi said.

Elected in 2009, Zoabi represents the Balad party (National Democratic Alliance) and is the first woman to be elected on the list of an Arab party in Israel. She was one of 25 members of the Israeli Knesset (MKs) to vote against the bill on 22 March, compared to 37 MKs who voted in favor of it.

“The Nakba is not just part of the Palestinian history,” Zoabi explained. “It’s also part of the Jewish history of this land. Because you need two in order to make Nakba. You need the victim and you need the oppressor. It was the Israelis who expelled the Palestinians and destroyed their towns and their villages and stole their land.”

“It’s not a narrative. It is not a political attitude. It’s a historical fact,” she added.

Initiated by MK Alex Miller of the ultra right-wing party Yisrael Beiteinu and officially called “Budget Principles Law (Amendment 39) – Reducing Budgetary Support for Activities Contrary to the Principles of the State,” the bill would also allow the government fine groups it determines are working against the “Jewish and democratic” nature of Israel or who violate the symbols of the state, such as the Israeli flag.

The original version of the bill — which was subsequently changed due to widespread condemnation — called for putting any individual who publicly commemorates the Palestinian Nakba in jail for three years.

“The purpose of the bill is to prevent members of the Arab minority in Israel from exercising their democratic right to commemorate a seminal event in their history. This legislation will cause harm to cultural and educational institutions that teach about the Nakba by cutting their funding and will further entrench inequality and discrimination. The bill is both anti-democratic and discriminatory,” wrote Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, in a 14 March press release (“Adalah: Nakba Law Violates Rights of Arab Minority …“).

Adalah stated that it sent an urgent letter to the Chair of the Israeli Constitution, Law and Justice Committee and member of the Yisrael Beitenu party MK David Rotem, asking him to reject the bill before it was voted into law.

“The bill’s approval would lead to major harm to the principle of equality and to the rights of Arab citizens to preserve their history and culture. Arab citizens of Israel are an indigenous minority living on its homeland, and their historical roots to this land run extremely deep, and thus their identity must be preserved,” the Adalah press release stated.

Adalah had signaled its intention to petition the Israeli high court should the bill be approved in the Knesset. Now that it has been voted on, the only way the bill can now be overturned is through an Israeli high court ruling.

Impact of the bill already being felt

According to Israeli activist Eitan Bronstein, while the practical and legal implications of the Nakba law are impossible to foresee, the law is already making an impact.

“I would say that the main implication and influence is already there, is already in practice, and is already working. Anyone who wants to do something [to commemorate the Nakba], they immediately have a question about the Nakba law and whether or not they are under any risk,” Bronstein, founder and spokesperson of Zochrot, an organization that works to raise awareness of the Nakba within Israeli society, told The Electronic Intifada.

“We analyze this law as part of a whole campaign to intimidate anyone who wishes to study, to remember, to mention, to have anything to do with the Nakba. In Israel, it mostly effects and it already effects, from what we see, Palestinian citizens from Israel,” he added.

Bronstein explained that while many Israeli liberals have objected to the law because of civil liberties concerns, few have acknowledged how important it is to commemorate the Nakba itself.

“I think it’s about time that there will be many more Israelis who participate in Nakba commemorations and not only because of freedom of speech, but to understand how important it is. We should take a clear stance in supporting and participating in commemorating it and struggling against the denial of the Nakba,” Bronstein said.

“Without understanding the Nakba, you cannot of course understand the scale or the importance of this key issue of Palestinian refugees. If we don’t address the Nakba, we cannot really address properly our future. Any solution for the future which is not based on addressing this issue of the Palestinian refugees, it will be useless.”

“The fear of the victim”

The Nakba bill is just the latest piece of discriminatory legislation targeting the Palestinian minority in Israel, who constitute 20 percent of the overall population of the state.

More than twenty bills are presently being discussed in the Israeli Knesset that impact — both directly and indirectly — the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel. Included among these bills is the controversial loyalty oath legislation, which would mandate new immigrants to pledge loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state” and the “Acceptance to Communities Bill.”

Passed same day as the Nakba law, the “Acceptance to Communities Bill” formalizes the establishment of admission committees to review potential residents to communities of up to 400 family units in the Negev and Galilee regions, where the Palestinian population in Israel is largely concentrated.

According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), the bill would allow these committees to refuse admission to a wide variety of people, including Palestinians, single parents and same-sex couples, among others.

“The racist, anti-Arab rhetoric used by some of the promoters of this bill is shameful, but it’s important for the public to understand that any one of us could be targeted by this bill. Israeli legislators are about to sacrifice equality and the right of every person to choose their place of residence — in favor of the extra-rights of the residents of these wealthy communities, who wish to ‘select’ new residents on public lands,” said ACRI Attorney Gil Gan-Mor in a 22 March press release (“Final Vote Today on Nakba Law and Acceptance to Communities Bill“).

According to Haneen Zoabi, the wave of increasingly hostile legislation in the Knesset signals how extreme the Israeli state has become.

“Any racist law will succeed within this Zionist and right-wing Knesset. Any law which any fool or any crazy or any hysterical and racist person could imagine, anything, he can pass it within this racist Knesset,” Zoabi said.

“I think that the message is that there is no place for the Palestinian or the Palestinian identity to be a part of this state. It is a kind of political strategy in order to change the laws of the political game. These laws have a political function. It is not a mere expression of Zionism.”

She added that with the Nakba law in particular, the Israeli government is trying to delegitimize the Palestinian struggle within the country.

“They have a political function of delegitimizing our political struggle. When you delegitimize this struggle, this is the more dangerous thing. You are delegitimizing a political tool, a legitimate tool. This is more dangerous than a mere political or identity expression,” Zoabi said.

“Behind this law is a fear, the fear of the victim. Behind this law is the ability of the memory of the victim to threaten the legitimacy of Zionism.”

Originally from Montreal, Jillian Kestler-D’Amours is a reporter and documentary filmmaker based in occupied East Jerusalem. More of her work can be found at http://jilldamours.wordpress.com.

From the Holocaust to Al Nakba

>

Frustrated Arab’s Diary

In the Western-countries

it is illegal to question

or to doubt the Holocaust !!



In the State of Israel
it is , now, illegal to (even) 
mention Al Nakba !!
Posted by Tlaxcala at 5:17 PM
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Suspended in time, Lifta under threat

>Jillian Kestler-D’Amours, The Electronic Intifada, 25 March 2011

Yacoub Odeh in Lifta (Jillian Kestler-D’Amours)

A natural spring, countless olive trees, a mosque and virtually every stone used to build the village’s unmistakable houses — Yacoub Odeh remembers it all.

“Here was where the water went down to the spring. Here was the root of the village. This place name was al-Saha. Saha means plaza. It was surrounded by a wall. It was clean,” explained Odeh, as he guided a tour through the heart of his childhood village of Lifta in early February.

“I remember everything. I remember the spring. I remember my house. I remember where we were playing with my sister, with the neighborhood children,” he said.

Odeh was born in Lifta, a Palestinian village nestled in a hillside northwest of Jerusalem, in 1940. He was eight years old when he and his family were forced from their homes during the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe), the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians when the State of Israel was created in 1947-48.

Since that time, Odeh has been coming back to the village numerous times a year to make sure the area is clean and taken care of. Today, as the Jerusalem municipality moves to build a new neighborhood — for Jewish residents only — over Lifta lands, Odeh is more concerned than ever about preserving the village he knows like the back of his hand.

“This Israeli government is stupid. They are not civilized. It is a natural area. It is a historical area, an open area. If it was not destroyed during the war, why [is it being] destroyed in the time they are talking about peace?” he said.

Luxury condos envisioned for Lifta lands
In 2004, the Jerusalem Municipality Planning Committee and two local architecture firms proposed a redevelopment plan for Lifta. Called “Plan Number 6036,” the project aims to turn the former Palestinian village into an exclusive, Jewish-only luxury neighborhood.

This past February the Israeli Lands Administration (ILA) began requesting tenders for bids from the private sector to sell the land in Lifta. The goal is to build 212 luxury apartment villas, a hotel and a network of roads and infrastructure on the expropriated Palestinian lands.

The project would necessitate the demolition of nearly all the existing houses and historical structures that remain standing in Lifta.

“They want to destroy the village houses, Lifta houses, because they are the integral eye-witnesses to the Nakba. Who was living here? Who did this belong to? Why it is left? You ask many questions [when you see the houses],” explained Odeh.

“They don’t want you to ask these questions. They want to close the book and put an end to the Nakba.”

Strongly opposed to the project, a group of Jerusalem-based activists, including Palestinian descendants from Lifta, submitted a petition to save the village earlier this month.

Shortly thereafter, an Israeli judge issued a temporary injunction on sales of land in Lifta, and ordered the ILA to desist from any activities that would harm the physical and cultural heritage of the village.

“Lifta should be a unique symbol for a process towards truth and reconciliation within a region torn by conflict. It should become a tangible sign of things to come. Its beauty and significance to be highlighted through an international dialogue to bring a ‘lost’ village back to life. Lifta is everything that the present defunct peace processes are not,” explained Antoine Raffoul, a Palestinian architect based in London and the coordinator of 1948 Lest We Forget project, in an email to The Electronic Intifada. (Raffoul wrote an article about the threat to Lifta’s architectural legacy for The Electronic Intifada entitled “Lifta’s legacy under threat” last September.)

The 1948 Lest We Forget campaign aims to secure the right of return for all Palestinian refugees, among other goals, and has been working extensively in an effort to save Lifta from destruction. The organization launched a Save Lifta Petition on its website, which garnered more than 2,950 international signatures, and filed an application to the World Monuments Watch to protect the village.

“We believe that the only way to halt the theft and destruction of Lifta is to bring its case unto the international theater and to ignite public opinion,” explained Raffoul, adding that the organization would soon be launching an international ideas competition for the preservation of Lifta, as well.

“This competition will be open to all professionals and members of the public from around the world. They will have their say, the Liftawis [owners of Lifta] will have their say and, hence, their voices cannot be ignored,” he wrote.

According to Odeh, the Jerusalem municipality’s decision to “renovate” Lifta demonstrates just how much the Israeli leadership does not understand the importance of the Palestinian refugee issue.

“To change the village to a colonial resort, it means they do not know what the size of the refugee case, problem, is. Because without solving the refugee problem, there is no peace,” Odeh said.

“And I say we can have peace. We can live together here and everywhere and we have enough place. We have enough place to live together as our grandfathers [did]. Without the Zionist movement, without the imperialism plans, we can.”

A Palestinian home in Lifta abandoned since the Nakba (Jillian Kestler-D’Amours)

Ethnic cleansing perpetrated in Lifta
One of the earliest Jerusalem-area villages believed to have existed since Roman times, Lifta was home to approximately 2,500 residents in the 1940s. The majority of its residents were Muslim Palestinians, yet a minority of Christians and Jews also called Lifta home.

At the time, residents owned about 7,780 dunums (one dunum is approximately 1,000 square meters) of land on which they planted a variety of trees and conducted basic agricultural activities. In his 2006 book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Israeli historian Ilan Pappe describes the picturesque scene in Lifta.

“The village was a fine example of rural architecture, with its narrow street running parallel to the slopes of the mountains. The relative prosperity it enjoyed, like many other villages, especially during and after the Second World War, manifested itself in the construction of new houses, the improvement of roads and pavements, as well as in an overall higher standard of living,” Pappe writes.

In an attempt to evacuate the village from its original Palestinian residents, however, Pappe explains that the Haganah, a Jewish paramilitary organization that was involved in numerous attacks on Palestinians during the British Mandate of Palestine and later became the core of the Israeli army, attacked the village in December 1947.

“Armed with machine guns the Jews sprayed the coffee house, while members of the Stern Gang stopped a bus nearby and began firing into it randomly. This was the first Stern Gang operation in rural Palestine,” Pappe writes.

According to Yacoub Odeh, the Jewish militia attacks are what prompted all the residents of Lifta to leave.

“We went from our house, crossing the valley, climbing the slope here to Tel Aviv road. We were in the corner of the truck, six families’ children. I remember that. My father put my small sister and brother on his shoulders and I was running after them,” Odeh explained.

“We went in the truck only [with] our clothes. Nothing. We took nothing. The key was with my father because we were coming back [the next day]. We left because of the shooting and killing and we were afraid,” he added.

In The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Pappe documents that in February of 1948, David Ben-Gurion, who would become Israel’s first prime minister, stated that “when you enter the city through Lifta and Romema, through Mahameh Yehuda, King George Street and Mea Shearim — there are no Arabs. One hundred percent Jews.”

Palestinian refugees must be consulted for future plans
A group of more than 300 individuals, mainly Palestinian refugees from Lifta, as well as some Israeli and international activists, toured the village on Friday, 18 March to better understand its history and the present situation.

“Every week for the last three weeks we’ve been there,” explained Uri Agnon, an Israeli activist with the Coalition to Save Lifta. “One time we [brought] thirty people to clean up the old mosque. We’re also having a petition that already has 1,000 people signed on it. We’re trying to get 3,000.”

Agnon explained that the coalition’s main goal is to stop the current development project in Lifta. While he said he was unsure what specific steps should be taken for the preservation for the village, he said that it shouldn’t be a one-sided decision taken by the Jerusalem municipality, but rather in dialogue with Palestinian refugees from the area.

“Politically I think it’s a horrible idea to destroy this village. Lifta reminds us every time we go to Jerusalem that this was not a landless country like [Israeli leaders] present it. There were people living here,” Agnon said.

“I think Lifta is a symbol. It’s amazing that it hasn’t been destroyed until now. It’s one of the most beautiful places in this area. It’s really unbelievably beautiful and it’s very interesting culture-wise,” he added.

London-based architect Antoine Raffoul agrees.
“Of all Palestinian villages destroyed, Lifta remains suspended in space, a haunting image of what was then, yet a rare opportunity for what will become in the future: a place for self-reflection, re-appraisal and mutual engagement. Lifta should become the key to architectural identity rather than the victim of architectural erasure,” Raffoul said.

And ultimately, for Yacoub Odeh, while spending time in Lifta today remains a painful reminder of his loss, he hasn’t lost hope that he will one day return to his village for good.

“I’ll not lose the hope that we will come back,” he said.

“Even God cannot remove my village from my mind, from my mentality. As you are, no one can remove your memories. Where you’re born, where you live, your mother, your father … [Lifta] is my great mother. No one can confiscate this from me.”

Originally from Montreal, Jillian Kestler-D’Amours is a reporter and documentary filmmaker based in occupied East Jerusalem. More of her work can be found at http://jilldamours.wordpress.com.

In case you missed it: Each village is a reminder

Occupied Palestine from A to Z: Basma – a Woman from Palestine

 

Posted on 10/03/2011 by reham alhelsi

Every morning she starts her day in front of the taboun; she bakes bread then prepares breakfast for her children and her grandchildren.
She watches them leave to school, university and to work. She then sits on the stone step in front of her house in the over-crowded refugee camp, a dish of dried lentils in her hands, and while she cleans the lentils from stones, her thoughts wander.
Every day, Basma wakes up in the small UNRWA room, looks around her, gets up and sits in front of the taboun. Every day, Basma sits with her children and grandchildren on the matt and while breakfasting, she listens as they talk of home works, of exams, of annoying teachers and co-workers. Every day, Basma sits on the stone step in front of her small house, peels potatoes, slices zucchini or cleans lentils for dinner. Every day, Basma’s thoughts wander, and she returns back to that day in 1948, that day when her father and brother hugged them and went to defend the village from the Zionist militias. She remembers her brother Ahmad, she sees his smile, she hears his laughter. She remembers him kissing her mother’s hand and asking for her blessings and forgiveness. She remembers him hugging her and kissing her forehead.
She looks in front of her at the dirty street in the over-crowded refugee camp, and sees the green meadows in front of their village, she sees her father, her brother and the men of the village waving to their families and heading to the surrounding hills to defend the village. Her thoughts wander, and she sees Ahmad turning back, looking at her and smiling. She thinks of him and wonders where he could be; is he alive? Is he in a Zionist dungeon? Is he in refugee camp in Lebanon or Jordan or Syria? Does he still remember us or has he forgotten us?

Basma was a little girl when in 1948 Zionist militias attacked the villages in her area. They attacked one village after the other. They shot at people, had machine guns and hand grenades and cannons. The villagers fought with the little means they had, they were alone, while the Zionist militias were armed by the British troops. And as other villages were attacked and occupied and their inhabitants massacred or expelled, her village had stayed put, fought back. And since the fighting began, Basma rarely saw her father or her only brother; they had gone to protect the village. Every day, she would watch her mother look out of the window at every sound, at every whisper, at every breeze that passes by. Every day, she would listen to her siblings asking about their father and their only brother. Every night, she would listen to her moving restlessly on the mattress, trying not to cry but unable not to. Every day, they would wait for their return, every night while the sound of bullets drowned the space, they would pray for their safety. And then, the village fell, many were killed and the rest were expelled. They were forced out of their homes and lands with nothing but the clothes they wore. Her mother carried her baby sister and held her hand while she held the hand of her other sister and they walked with the rest of people; they were relatives, friends, neighbours, all crying, tired, hungry and angry.

For some time, Basma, her mother and siblings stayed in tents with the rest of those expelled from their homes and villages, not knowing what had happened to her father and brother. Her mother told her and her sisters that everything will be fine again, they will return home and that her father and brother will soon return to take them back home. But at night she could hear her mother crying, crying in her pillow the whole night until she fell asleep. And as Basma heard her mother’s cries, she would feel her own tears along her cheeks, and would curse those Zionists who had brought death and pain and suffering to her family and to all other families. Then one day, her father came back with a few other men from the village. They had been chased by Zionist terrorists all across the mountains and the valleys, and to escape the Zionists they had had to hide in caves for some time. Her father came back, but her brother never came back. Her father tried to comfort her mother, to comfort them, saying he lost Ahmad while they were being chased by the Zionist militias, that her brother will return back soon, that he most probably went in the other direction and will find them soon. Maybe he was just comforting himself, trying not to imagine his only son lying dead somewhere, his body mutilated by Zionist terrorists, or by savage dogs or by both. Despite the assurances and despite the fear, the family never lost hope of Ahmad being alive, and everyone dreamt of the day when he will come home and knock on the door of the refugee camp.

And when Basma is surrounded by her children and grandchildren, she hears their talk, their laughs, their arguments and their teasing, and amidst that joy that rarely visits them, she remembers her brother, and pain fills her heart as she wonders: “Where are you, Ahmad?”

One evening, while Basma was sitting on the stone step, watching something only she saw, her daughter Amal came back from work and hurriedly went inside the house. It was very unlike her, Basma thought, Amal usually would take the time to join her mother on the stone step, ask her about her day and tell her about her own day. But, not today. Today, Amal greeted her mother as she passed her hurriedly inside. Basma could hear her call her sibling … Silence followed. All kinds of scenarios ran through her head. … soldiers, bullets, hospital, prison … and her heart started to beat faster. She stood up, turned to enter the house when she saw her children coming towards her. Her heart skipped a beat as she looked into their faces, searched their eyes for the bad news, the sad news. “What is it? Who is it?” “Oh dear God, whatever it is, let it hit me, but please spare my children and my grandchildren”. Amal sat next to her mother and held her hand as Basma’s other children gathered around her. Amal glanced at her siblings again before speaking: “Yamma, I found a document at work today…. It’s a report on what happened to our village in 1948… It lists the martyrs who died fighting the Zionists and defending the village.” She stopped for a minute before finishing “My uncle Ahmad s on this list.” Amal held a paper and showed it to her mother. It was a photocopy of some page from a book. It was tidily folded into four. Basma looked at the paper, her eyes searching for a name her heart so often spoke to, but it was useless, for the letters refused to betray the beloved name. They all seemed the same to Basma, and Ahmad, her beloved brother, was so special that the letters that made his name should have shone on that paper. Amal pointed to a name in the list and read the name out loud. It was her uncle’s name, the name she so often heard her mother mention. Basma looked at the paper, at the letters that were supposed to relate the destiny of her beloved brother. She asked her daughter to read the name again and again. And while Amal was pointing to the name , reading the full name out loud over and over, assuring her mother it was the name of her uncle, Basma snapped the paper from her daughters hands, folded it calmly and hid it in her thob. She didn’t say a word that night. No one said a thing.
The next morning, Basma woke up early, sat in front of the taboun and baked bread. When her children and grandchildren gathered for the breakfast, she told them she had some urgent business to attend to. She went to the main road and waited for the bus.

Her family was expelled from their home and land in 1948. At the time, Basma didn’t only lose her home, but also lost her only brother. And with Ahmad gone, laughter and joy left her family. And with Ahmad gone, her mother’s sweet smile left them and her father’s funny stories left them. And with Ahmad gone, her childhood left, left behind, together with her doll and ball, in her home in a village that was wiped out. She was but a little girl, but remembered clearly, even after so many years, countless years, the older brother who often carried her on his shoulders and took her to the fields while her father walked along. She remembered clearly how she would sit on a rock and listen to them singing while working the fields. She remembered the laughter when her mother and siblings would join them in the fields and bring the dinner and they would all sit eating under the olive tree. She remembered the time when it rained, when thunder and lightning rocked the house and her brother hugged her and tried to comfort her and told her to love the lightning and the thunder because they bring the rain and the land loves the rain. She remembered their many fights, him snatching her doll and she running after him and hitting him with a stone, and apologizing through her tears while her mother wiped the blood off his forehead. Ahmad comforted her when she needed comforting, played with her when she was bored and always took care of her.

Basma stopped in front of a small shed that sells flowers, seeds and seedlings. She often passed it on her way to the market, and often wished she had enough land to plant all the trees in the world there. She looked around, her eyes searching for the olive seedlings. “Good Morning, ya hajja, how may I help you?” asked the elderly owner. “I need an olive seedling, ya hajj”. Basma carried the seedling between her hands as if it were a baby. She walked and walked, taxis passing her and hooping, but she preferred to walk. She passed the children on their way to school, passed the villagers carrying their harvest to the local market place, she passed mothers on their way to the market, fathers on their way to work. She passed them all and thought of her brother; the boy who used chase after her all over the courtyard in front of their home, laughing and teasing. She remembered the boy who used to pluck flowers for her to give to their mother, who used to peel the oranges for her, who used to knack the dried almonds and give her the seed inside to eat while sitting on the hill watching the sunset. So many memories, “how can he be dead with so many memories?” Basma thought. Basma stopped in front of a house and knocked on the door. Um Khalid opened the door, surprise to see Basma there so early and without prior notice. “Kheir ya Basma? Has something happened?” She asked anxiously. “No, no, everything is alright.” Basma answered as walked inside and sat at the table. And before Um Khalid could ask another question, Basma took the piece of paper out of her dress and spread it on the table in front of them both. She didn’t read, she couldn’t, but she knew exactly where the name stood. Her fingers went over it. “Here, see, read it.” Um Khalid looked at where the finger stopped and read: Ahmad … Both were silent for some time. “Amal found his name in a book. He is a martyr Khawla, he is a martyr. He died for our land, to protect us, to save us. We have found our brother, he never died, he will never die, he is a martyr”.
Carrying the olive seedling in her arms, close to her heart, as if it were a child, as if protecting it, Basma walked together with her younger sister to the fields nearby. Her sister was married to a villager who had lands and olive fields. Both sisters often sat there and spoke of their village, of the fields their family owned, of their father’s pain at being a farmer without his land, a farmer who was expelled from his fields and forced to live in a tent.
Olive trees were everywhere, the sun was shining and the birds were singing, poppies were blossoming and mingling with the earth of Palestine. Basma and her sister chose a spot between two huge olive trees, ancient ones, older than the nakba. They chose a spot that was touched by the sun of Palestine and at the same time protected by the olive trees. Basma dug the earth with her bare hands. It was moist and easy to dig. She wanted to feel the earth, wanted to feel its warmth. Then the two sisters planted the seedling, covered it with earth, watered it and stood watching it, while saying a prayer for a beloved brother.
“This is for you, Ahmad”. Basma thought, and she smiled as a tear dropped down her check. “I finally found you, this is your home, for now, until we return.”
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