and other news from Today in Palestine:
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Settlement museum bill might signal annexation plan
JPost 25 Nov — The Knesset will soon hold its first reading of a bill that would place West Bank settlement museums under Israeli law, but the legislation seeks much more than that. On the surface of it, the bill is about museum funding and allows those institutions to apply for government money on an equal footing with museums within the pre-Six Day War armistice line. But the bill’s author, MK Uri Ariel (National Union), has been blunt about his plan to annex Judea and Samaria through a de facto legislative process, by which each Israeli law would be amended to apply to West Bank settlements. At present, they are under military law.
Pushing Palestinians out of East Jerusalem, one family at a time
AIC 23 Nov — In five days, the Sumarin family–who live in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan–will lose their home. For decades, the Sumarins have lived in Wadi Helweh, at the entrance of Silwan, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem. But one week ago, the family received an order telling them they must leave. If they don’t, they will face eviction by force. Himnuta, a subsidiary of the Jewish National Fund (JNF-KKL), justifies the transfer by saying that the family lives in the house illegally. Himnuta claims that the building belongs to them. “In 1984, my great grandfather Musa Abdullah, the owner of the house, died,” Mahmoud Sumarin explains to the Alternative Information Center (AIC), “He had a Jerusalem blue ID. His nephew and his family have been living here since his death. How did this property became an absentee property? How can it be confiscated?”
Friday prayers held at the Samrin family home threatened with confiscation
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 25 Nov — Dozens of local Silwan Palestinians held the Friday prayers today at the house of the Samrin family in the Wadi Hilwa to the south of the Aqsa Mosque. The Samrin family home is threatened with confiscation by settler organisations. The function was called for by the Committee to Defend Silwan Real Estate … [Lawyer Ahmad Al-Ruwaidi] said that holding the Friday prayers there is one of the activities approved by the meeting of Jerusalemite activists to prevent the eviction of the family from its home, in addition to following the matter in courts of law through the family lawyer. Ruwaidi added that the matter is not a legal one but a political one through which the occupation forces are trying to control all the area surrounding the old city, especially that which is adjacent to the Aqsa Mosque.
Link to Palestinian Information Center
Stop the expulsion: a call to Americans and Internationals / Moriel Rothman
AIC 24 Nov — Remember dropping pennies into those blue JNF/KKL boxes in your synagogue and Jewish Community Center when you were growing up? On November 28th, the pennies dropped into those blue boxes- and the JNF/KKL under the guise of “Himnuta”- will begin the process of expelling a Palestinian family, the Sumarin family, from their home in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.
What is Himnuta: According to this article: “The JNF established Himnuta in the 1930s, mainly to circumvent legal restrictions on its own land dealings. For instance, Himnuta can buy lands as an investment or exchange lands with Arab dealers, both of which are forbidden for the JNF.” Over the past few decades, Himnuta has purchased and continues to purchase territory over the green line.
Another settler organization – what’s the big deal? The big deal is this: Himnuta is not an independent company. Himnuta is part of the JNF. How is that possible? The JNF’s policy is that is doesn’t buy land over the green line. Exactly.
Hamas, Islamic Jihad rally for Jerusalem
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Nov — Islamic Jihad and Hamas organized mass rallies in Gaza City on Friday demanding protection of Jerusalem’s Palestinian character and Muslim holy sites. After Friday prayers, Jihad supporters marched from al-Abbas mosque in the city, and Hamas gathered in Palestine Square, including Prime Minister in the Gaza-based government Ismail Haniyeh. Jerusalem is in danger and the Islamic community should stand together to support the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City, Islamic Jihad official Sheikh Nafeth Azzam told the rally.
Israeli desert plan would uproot 30,000 Bedouin
AL-ARAKIB, Israel (Reuters) 23 Nov — Bulldozed by Israel more than two dozen times, a village known by Bedouin Arabs as al-Arakib is one of many ramshackle desert communities whose names have never appeared on any official map. If Israel’s parliament adopts proposed new legislation, it never will … The project is the most ambitious attempt in decades by the government to resettle Negev Bedouin and free up land in the largely open spaces of southern Israel for development and construction of military bases to replace facilities in the crowded center of the country. Some Israelis argue the Bedouin have grown too dominant in the Negev, a geographic area wedged between Gaza and the West Bank, and that they pose a possible security risk … For decades, Israeli governments have tried to attract Jewish Israelis to move to the Negev, offering mortgage and tax breaks, but the region has fewer opportunities for employment than in the heavily populated center of the country.
Operation Dove: Two Palestinian girls arrested during home demolitions
HEBRON (WAFA) 24 Nov — Israeli army broke in the village of Umm Fagarah demolishing several huts and detaining two girls in the village of At-Tuwani, southeast of Hebron, Thursday said a press release by Operation Dove. It said two bulldozers arrived in the village, escorted by five military vehicles, and without showing any demolition order; the army demolished two houses, a mosque, a barn and a structure containing the generator… While the inhabitants rushed from neighboring villages to watch the going on, the two girls were kneeled on the ground by the soldiers. Ignoring the request of the Palestinians to be able to rescue the rabbits [often raised for food in the WB], the Israeli army tore down the barn injuring and killing the animals. After the demolitions, the army took away the two girls without providing any explanation on the charges.
IOF troops demolish mosque near Yatta, arrest two girls
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 25 Nov — IOF troops on Thursday demolished a mosque after storming Khirbat al-Mafqara to the east of the town of Yatta in the southern West Bank district of al-Khalil [Hebron]. Local sources said that the IOF troops raided the village and demolished the small mosque which occupies a 50 square meter area. They also demolished a home housing 10 people and another housing 14 people, 4 of them disabled. The occupation troops also demolished a shed housing an electric generator and an animal farm. The sources added that the occupation forces arrested Amal Hamamda (17 years) and Sawsan Tahan (19 years) and broke the leg of a woman.
IOF troops also handed a number of residents of Khirbet al-Deirat to the east of Yatta demolition notices, and handed summonses to a number of residents of east Yatta to attend interviews with intelligence officers.
Israeli forces demolish car shop in West Bank village
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 24 Nov — Israeli forces Thursday demolished a car repair shop owned by two Palestinian brothers in the village of Um Safa, north of the West Bank city of Ramallah, claiming it was built without permit, according to witnesses. They said that Israeli forces stormed the village in the early morning hours, imposed a military cordon around the shop, which was owned by Mohammad and Ra’aft Sbaih, before demolishing it. The brothers said they had a permit from the Palestinian Authority. Mohammad Sbaih told WAFA that soldiers beat him and his brother for protesting the demolition of their shop, prevented them from removing their shop equipment before it was demolished, and detained them during the process of the demolition. He said Israel had demolished part of his family home three years ago although it was also licensed.
Israel ‘demolishes wells, structures near Hebron’
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 24 Nov — Israeli forces on Thursday demolished three wells and part of a home west of Hebron, witnesses said. Haitham Awwad, a resident of al-Bass near Idhna, told Ma‘an that an Israeli force arrived with a bulldozer and demolished a well and three rooms of a home belonging to farmer Abdul Hafith Awwad. The forces also destroyed two wells belonging to Abdul Rahman Faraj Allah and Ahmad Faraj Allah, he said. Awwad said the wells were located near Israel’s separation wall inside the southern West Bank, in an area with many natural springs. Israel confiscated water from the springs for use by Israeli citizens, he added.
PCHR Weekly Report: 3 civilians wounded, 19 arrested in 68 Israeli invasions this week [17-23 November]
IMEMC 25 Nov — Israeli attacks in the West Bank: Israeli forces conducted 66 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, during which they abducted at least 19 Palestinians, including 4 children. Israeli forces raided the houses of a number of Palestinians who were released recently from Israeli jails, delivered them notices to appear before the Israeli intelligence and threatened some of them. Israeli soldiers arrested at least 5 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children, at a checkpoint in the West Bank. There are approximately 500 kilometers of restricted roads across the West Bank. In addition, approximately one third of the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, is inaccessible to Palestinians without permits issued by Israeli forces. Such permits are extremely difficult to obtain.
Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip: In the Gaza Strip, on 23 November 2011, Israeli forces positioned in observation towers near Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing, in the north of the Gaza Strip, opened fire at a number of Palestinians who were hunting birds in the ex-settlement of “Nissanit”, 300 meters from the border, in the northeast of the Bedouin village, north of the Gaza Strip. The bird hunters were forced to flee but no casualties were reported.
[and much more -- see here for full report]
[Settlers attack Lubban village]
PIC 25 Nov — …Meanwhile, settlers from the Eli settlement attacked the village of Lubban close to the settlement, assaulted property belonging the family of Daraghma and uprooted a number of olive trees…
Settlers break into Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 24 Nov — A number of Jewish settlers Thursday at dawn broke into Joseph’s Tomb, east of the city of Nablus in the northern West Bank, according to security sources. They told WAFA that about 14 buses carrying settlers broke into the Tomb and performed rituals and prayers under the protection of the Israeli army…
Security sources said the Israeli army raided Nablus, searched Palestinian homes and arrested one Palestinian from Ein Beit al-Maa’ camp. Witnesses said the army intensified its presence and military operations at checkpoints surrounding the city and inspected Palestinians’ identification papers.
Yasam officer to face disciplinary trial for kicking settler
Ynet 21 Nov — Police Investigations Unit recommends to try Refael Cohen for striking female settler during outpost evacuation. Officer probed for past offences, forced to pay compensation for slapping protester in 2002
Police to compensate man hurt in anti-Gaza pullout rally
Ynet 24 Nov — The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Thursday ordered a former cop, Eliran Avraham, to pay NIS 7,000 (about $1,900) in damages to a protester that he hit during a rally against the Gaza disengagement.
VIDEO: Organized chaos and bare life (*): the non-story of the night raids / Noam Sheizaf
972mag 24 Nov — There exists a general, intentional, cleverly constructed misunderstanding surrounding the true nature of the Israeli occupation. Some say it’s a simple dispute over land, like many others in the world; other think the conflict is about national independence for the Palestinians, prompting statements like, “The Basques and the Kurds aren’t independent either, so why do people pick on Israel?” But the occupation is something else. It is the ongoing military control over the lives of millions, and everything that comes with it: The lack of civil rights, the absence of legal protection, and perhaps more than anything else, a sense of organized chaos, in which the lives of an entire civilian population is run at the mercy of soldiers 18 to 20 years old. Most of the time, it’s almost hard to explain how bad it is for those who haven’t seen it with their own eyes … The army enters Palestinian homes as it pleases, day or night. No warrant is needed, just like you don’t need a warrant to arrest a Palestinian (even a minor). Once the soldiers are in the house, the nature of the interaction between them and the family living there depends on their good or ill will – and in the 44 years of the occupation, we have had everything: from “polite” visits, to beatings and cursing, all the way up to the murder of civilians in their beds. A Palestinian is never safe – not even in his own home.
Jeffrey Goldberg syndrome: downplaying the occupation
AIC 24 Nov — It’s too easy to lose sight of what occupation means for Palestinians. It’s especially easy when we focus on the splashier, violent atrocities, to forget that military occupation is, above all else, a permanent state of being. Even those whose days are ‘uneventful’ for local reporters, are still living under a terrible burden. This is a mistake commonly reinforced by the liberal, so-called ‘pro-Israel’ crowd.
Israel ‘set new restrictions’ on Gaza business owners
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) 24 Nov — Israel has set new restrictions on business owners in Gaza, the head of Palestinian contractors said Thursday. At a news conference in Gaza City, Osama Kahil said conditions were more difficult despite a recent meeting between businessmen from Gaza and Israeli officials. “Media reports said the meeting between businessmen from Gaza and Israel resulted in facilitating the work for the Gazan businessmen, but Israel implemented that in its own way. “Israel stopped issuing permits for businessmen, traders, and contractors to Israel and set some new restrictions that prevented them from continuing their work,” Kahil said. He said Israel had permitted the import of construction materials into the Gaza Strip “to recycle the blockade.” Allowing construction materials, which are sold for a much higher price than those sent through tunnels, was done after Israeli traders pressured the government. They want to use us and keep the blockade on Gaza,” Kahil said.
Video: Hamas looks for ways to raise revenue
Al Jazeera 25 Nov — Gaza’s summer tourist season is over. It is also the end of a taxing season for the owners of the beach cafes who are being charged thousands of dollars in fees – up to three times more than what they were paying when the Palestinian Authority was in government. Analysts say Hamas appears to short of cash because of irregular donations from donor countries like Iran and Syria. Now Hamas is cracking down on banks and big business who have not paid millions in taxes – because of a directive from Fatah. Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reports from Gaza.
IOF troops arrest a number of Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem
NABLUS (PIC) 25 Nov — IOF troops raided the village of Beit Fourik to the east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus and arrested a young man. The family of the young man does not know where their son was taken to … Local sources said that IOF troops entered the village of Beit Fourik about 1:30 am last night and raided the home of a resident from the Mulitat family and took away their son who is in his twenties. The forces then withdrew from the village without any further arrests or home raids, especially that the village was subjected a few days ago to a campaign of arrests that affected a number of its young people.
Furthermore, IOF troops arrested on Friday morning two Palestinians from Beit Hanina to the north of Jerusalem and Silwan to the south of the Aqsa Mosque. Local sources said that IOF troops raided the home of Haytham Shukri Taha at dawn and took him to the Maskoubeyya interrogation and detention centre in Jerusalem. IOF troops also arrested Talab Idris (46 years) from the Thawri neighbourhood of Silwan to the south of the Aqsa Mosque after raiding ransacking his home. They also confiscated his mobile phones.
IOA extends administrative detention of Palestinian MP
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 24 Nov – The Israeli occupation authority extended the administrative detention, without trial or charge, of Palestinian MP Mohammed Bader for four months for the third consecutive time. The office of Hamas lawmakers in the West Bank denounced the step in a statement on Wednesday, describing it as a systematic policy being practiced by the IOA against the duly elected representatives of the people … Bader, 55, has spent more than 100 months in IOA jails in separate intervals. He has a doctorate in Islamic Sharia and worked as a lecturer at Al-Khalil University.
Israel detains 8 people in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Nov — Israeli soldiers detained eight people in overnight raids across the West Bank, the Israeli army said Thursday. A military spokeswoman said soldiers detained four people in Nablus, two in Nabi Saleh near Ramallah, one from Ramallah and one from Hebron.
Residents of Ein Beit el Mai refugee camp told Ma‘an that soldiers detained Hamza Abu Khamis, 24, and Jaafar al-Mabrouk, 22, from their homes after soldiers ransacked several houses in the camp.
Israeli soldiers prevent Palestinians from preparing for the cold
JENIN (WAFA) 24 Nov — Israeli forces prevented Thursday , under gunpoint, prisoners in Al-Naqab (Negev) prison from fixing their tents, in preparation for the coming cold, according to witnesses. A prisoner said that Israeli soldiers, under gunpoint, threatened to shoot them if they continue to repair the tents, prompting the prisoners inside the prison to declare a state of alert. Al-Naqab Prisoners’ families called on all humanitarian organizations to stand by them and put pressure on Israel to allow them to set up new tents, especially that they suffer from terrible conditions in winter due to the cold weather and the lack of blankets.
For one Palestinian, freedom is more dangerous than prison / Gideon Levy
Hani Jaber, a Palestinian convicted of murder who was released in the Shalit deal, doesn’t dare return to his home in Hebron: Settlers are threatening to kill him — …In a country where a respected MK can allow himself to preach murder (“Blessed shall be the hands that will kill the released murderers,” said MK Aryeh Eldad of National Union the day after the prisoners’ release, and no one thought he should be put on trial ), Jaber is a marked man. In a country in which settlers can take out a contract on a released prisoner – a reward of $100,000 has been offered for information on Jaber’s whereabouts, and in Hebron there are posters in Hebrew and Arabic urging people to come forward with information about him – Jaber is apparently living on borrowed time.
Jaber has blood on his hands. Eighteen years ago, as a high-school student who had undergone frequent abuse and attacks by settlers and seen his family similarly treated, he took a kitchen knife and murdered the settler Erez Shmuel who, he said, had attacked his younger sister.
Political / Diplomatic / International
Palestinian factions set election date
Al Jazeera 24 Nov — Abbas and Meshaal agree to hold polls in May following meeting in Cairo to iron out Hamas-Fatah differences. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and Khaled Meshaal, the Hamas leader, hailed a new “partnership” after Thursday’s talks in the Egyptian capital, their first working meeting since Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007. The two have agreed on releasing Hamas and Fatah members held by the other side, on the election preparations and on the reinforcement of ”the popular confrontations against the Israeli occupation”, Azzam el-Ahmad, a senior Fatah leader attending the talks, said. Abbas, who heads Fatah, said: “There are no more differences between us now. We have agreed to work as partners with joint responsibility.” For his part, Meshaal said: “We want to assure our people and the Arab and Islamic world that we have turned a major new and real page in partnership on everything do to with the Palestinian nation.”
Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston, reporting from Gaza, said the question of how this unity government would be formed “remains the sticking point”. “[The leaders] said they will have a meeting on December 20 to discuss that,” she said. “Then on December 22, all Palestinian factions will meet in Cairo to try to come up with a plan on how to reform the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. “All these issues were on the table in May earlier this year and they are still on the table now. But it does seem that there is a renewed impetus to try to get some movement on the issue of the Palestinian elections and to try to end this very long divide between Hamas and Fatah.”
Official: Fatah asks Hamas to free 47 prisoners
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Nov — Hamas has been given a list of 47 political prisoners that Fatah wants the Islamist movement to release from jails in the Gaza Strip, a top Fatah official said Friday. Zakaria al-Agha says Hamas also produced a list of political prisoners to President Mahmoud Abbas, who agreed to a request to free them during talks with Hamas’ Khalid Mashaal. The issue of political prisoners has been a sticking point between the rival factions, with each routinely accusing the other’s security forces of making arrests based on politics, not criminality.
Mashaal: Israel’s threats on reconciliation ‘don’t scare us’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Nov — Exiled Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal said Friday that Israeli threats after reconciliation talks with Fatah leader President Mahmoud Abbas “would not scare us but rather assure us that reconciliation is the right track for the Palestinian people.” … Israel opposes the deal and warned that Abbas would have to chose between peace with Israel and reconciliation with Hamas.
Resheq criticises US position on Palestinian reconciliation
CAIRO (PIC) 24 Nov — Member of Hamas’s political bureau Ezzat Al-Resheq expressed his dismay at the US negative position towards the reconciliation meeting slated to be held soon in Cairo between Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and de facto president Mahmoud Abbas.
link to Palestinian Information Center
Israeli minister seeks Palestinian clans rather than Palestinian state / Sergio Yahni
AIC 24 Nov — Faced with the scenario of the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority, Israeli Transport Minister Israel Katz heads to the West Bank, with the Shabak in tow, to talk with local leaders about the possibility of setting up village councils rather than an autonomous state … this means returning to the idea of ‘village leagues’, which were established in the occupied territories with the encouragement of Ariel Sharon and Professor Menachem Milson. The military government adviser on Arab affairs in the West Bank, Milson, who later served as the chief of the Civil Administration, assumed that the leagues would replace the PLO.
Fayyad: PA close to breakdown after tax block
OSLO (Reuters) 24 Nov — The Palestinian Authority is “fast approaching the point of being completely incapacitated” by Israel’s refusal to hand over tax revenues belonging to the authority, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Thursday. Israel’s freeze on the taxes and fees it collects for the Palestinian Authority at borders has deprived the government of two-thirds of its normal revenue since Nov. 1, making it hard to pay salaries and fix infrastructure, Fayyad said. “This is our money,” he said. “It has nothing to do with donor assistance or anything like that.”
UK envoy warns Israel tax freeze a humanitarian risk
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 24 Nov — The UK’s top diplomat to the Palestinians said Thursday that Israel’s hold on Palestinian tax revenues could be illegal under international humanitarian law. If Israel continues to freeze tax payments, it will endanger services such as medical care and programs for children, consul-general in Jerusalem Vincent Fean told reporters. “Israel may face valid accusations from the international community that through its (tax hold) it has violated its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention,” Fean said.
Palestinian flag to fly at UNESCO Thursday
NEW YORK (Ma‘an) 24 Nov — For the first time, the Palestinian flag will be raised this week in front of the UNESCO building in Paris acknowledging Palestine’s admission, the ambassador to the UN said Wednesday. Riyad Mansour says Elias Sunbor, the Palestinian envoy in Paris, will raise the flag Thursday. Mansour told Ma‘an the leadership in Ramallah was studying several options on how to proceed with initiatives in the UN, including a request for a vote on admission in the Security Council.
Sinai forces on high alert over Jihad threat
Ynet 25 Nov — Egyptian security forces on Friday raised the alert level to an unprecedented level in the al-Arish area in northern Sinai after they received information that Jihad [?] members are planning on carrying out an attack on the local security headquarters, the Ma‘an news agency reported Friday.
Report: Saboteurs blow up Egypt gas pipeline
CAIRO (Reuters) 25 Nov — Saboteurs blew up a gas pipeline 60 km west of the Egyptian town of al-Arish in northern Sinai on Friday, the latest in series of attacks, state news agency MENA reported. The blast caused little damage and did not start a fire because little gas was flowing through the pipeline at the time due to repair work from a previous attack, MENA said. The pipeline, which supplies gas to Israel and Jordan, was last attacked on Nov. 10. No group has claimed responsibility for the sabotage.
Egypt has a 20-year deal to export natural gas deal to Israel. It is unpopular with the Egyptian public and critics say Israel does not pay market rates for the gas.
A fence, not a solution / Shuki Sadeh
Haaretz 25 Nov — The flood of media reports on the release of kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit neglected one detail: The day before the prisoner exchange went through, scores of African labor migrants that had been detained in the Saharonim prison in the Negev appeared on the streets of South Tel Aviv. In order to make room at Saharonim for Hamas prisoners awaiting release in exchange for Shalit, the security establishment had freed the migrants, who scattered around Israel. It probably won’t be long until Saharonim fills up again. It already has 80 new labor migrants who were caught on Highway 10, near the Israeli-Egyptian border, a week after Shalit’s release. These kind of events occur daily, and are not reported in the media.
Catholics, Muslims pursue dialogue in tense Mideast
BETHANY BEYOND THE JORDAN, Jordan (Reuters) 25 Nov — Only five years ago, critical remarks by Pope Benedict about Islam sparked off violent protests in several Muslim countries. Never very good, relations between the world’s two largest religions sank to new lows in modern times. This week, while protesters in the Arab world were demanding democracy and civil rights, Catholics and Muslims met along the Jordan River for frank and friendly talks about their differences and how to get beyond their misunderstandings. The Catholic-Muslim Forum, which grew out of the tensions following Benedict’s speech in the German city of Regensburg, was overshadowed by events in Egypt, Yemen and Syria. The lack of any dramatic news here reflected the progress the two sides have made since 2006.
UK says 122 million pounds set for Palestinians
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 Nov — The United Kingdom has announced that its financial support of the Palestinian Authority is likely to reach £122 million ($200 million) over the next three years. The British Consulate in Jerusalem said in a statement Wednesday that this support comes to help the government provide basic public services and to reduce poverty in the Palestinian territories. The consulate pointed out that the aid will support 7,500 children in primary school, vaccinating 2,000 children under the age of 5 against measles, and supporting 7,000 poor Palestinians through annual cash transfers.
State drops case against Carmel Fire suspects
Ynet 25 Nov — The State Prosecutor’s Office decided Thursday to drop the case against two teens who were suspected of accidentally causing the massive Carmel Forest fire that claimed 44 lives … The decision was prompted by difficulties to indict the boys, aged 13 and 14, both residents of the Druze village of Usfiya, as the prosecution found it impossible to prove each suspect’s actions during and after the incident.
Analysis / Opinion / Interview
Alice Walker: ‘going through Israeli checkpoints is like going back in time to American civil rights struggles’
MEMO 24 Nov — American Pulitzer Prize winning author, Alice Walker, was a juror with the Russell Tribunal on Palestine which took place in South Africa this year. A prolific writer of novels, poetry and short stories her books, fiction and non-fiction, have sold more than 15 million copies worldwide. While she is most well-known for “The Colour Purple” she is also a dedicated political activist and campaigner. MEMO’s Dr. Hanan Chehata caught up with Ms Walker in Cape Town to ask her why she has been so drawn to the Palestinian cause. During the course of the interview the similarities between the Palestinian struggle for liberation and the African-American struggle during the Civil Rights era is evident. She expresses her belief that “Americans have a duty to be active in the defence of Palestinian people” and further proposes that the illegal settlements paid for unwittingly by American tax payers should be lived in by the Palestinians to whom the land belongs and who should all “come home”.
Israeli newspaper owner says Jewish lobby in US prevents Obama from acting against settlers’ apartheid regime / Philip Weiss
Mondo 25 Nov — Amos Schocken, owner of Haaretz, writes in Israel (not here, no way) that the settler movement Gush Emunim is building an “apartheid regime” in Israel and Palestine and that it is supported by the “Jewish lobby” in the U.S. That lobby is “totally addicted” to settler policies; and this explains Obama’s collapse. In trying to understand Obama’s reversal of his declaration in Cairo in 2009, Schocken does what Walter Russell Mead of the Council on Foreign Relations swears never to do; he ascribes political influence on the Democratic Party to American Jews. Mead would classify Schocken as an anti-semite for saying this.
Can moral nations abandon Palestine? / Stephen Robert
Haaretz 25 Nov — The United States Congress is threatening to cut funds to UN agencies that admit Palestine as a state, along with roughly $500 million in USAID funds to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. That’s on top of the $60 million the U.S. is withholding from UNESCO. The USAID mission for the West Bank and Gaza is preparing to dismiss half of its staff. For its part, Israel is withholding $100 million in tax receipts they collect for the Palestinian Authority … America is hurting itself. It is not in the country’s interest to weaken the United Nations or reduce its voice on environmental issues, nuclear proliferation, the fight against AIDS, malaria, hunger, etc. Much of the world no longer views the United States as a reliable or effective force for Middle East peace. They have lost the moral high ground which served them and the world so well over the last 60 years. Though a superpower, no longer is America seen as a benevolent protector of human rights. Can a moral nation withhold humanitarian aid from 4 million desperate people?
Analysis: The king and Palestine / Daoud Kuttab
Ma‘an 24 Nov — “Ziyara azima” (Fabulous visit). This was the description President Mahmoud Abbas gave to the unexpected visit King Abdullah II of Jordan made to the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. The king’s visit on Monday was the first to Palestine in a decade. He didn’t visit or meet any Israeli official. It is not that the King and Abbas do not see each other. Almost every time that the PLO leader leaves Ramallah to travel abroad he makes a stop to visit his “brother,” King Abdullah. However, what makes this particular visit important is its public nature. The king wanted everyone, especially the Israelis, to notice the visit and the solidarity message behind it.
On the battlefield of gender separation / Rachel Azaria
Haaretz 25 June — The people at the advertising agency were not interested. As they put it: ‘No pictures of girls on buses in Jerusalem. Not a 3-year-old and not an 80-year-old.’ … Such exclusion and segregation is contrary to Israel’s Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom, and is contrary to our aspiration to be a democratic, permissive and tolerant society. This new phenomenon, and the system’s willingness to capitulate to it, fills me with great fear for the position of women in the State of Israel.
Israel is becoming a bullying and violent place / Ari Shavit
Haaretz 24 Nov –It’s depressing. About two years ago MK Marina Solodkin (Kadima ) proposed banning any national newspaper whose owner was not an Israeli citizen. Although there were certain similarities between Solodkin’s bill and the one by MK Ofir Akunis (Likud ) on foreign funding for political NGOs, hers was much harsher. If Solodkin’s bill had passed, it would have shut down a newspaper with a large circulation (Israel Hayom ), dealt a fatal blow to the freedom of expression and caused the dismissal of dozens of journalists. The law would also have left Israel’s center-right majority without a strong medium to voice its opinions. Yet, although Solodkin’s proposal was clearly antidemocratic, dozens of Knesset members from the center and left supported it. So did many journalists…
It’s depressing. This week the Knesset passed on first reading a bill sponsored by MKs Yariv Levin (Likud ) and Meir Sheetrit (Kadima ) designed to make it harder for journalists to publish in-depth investigative reports.