PhotoBlog — Nakba 2012: Ramallah remembers
Al Akhbar 16 May by Dylan Collins — Thousands gathered in Ramallah’s Clock Square today, 15 March 2012, to commemorate the 64th anniversary of the Nakba. After a Palestinian Authority (PA) sponsored festival, complete with political speeches and traditional singing and dancing, a large portion of the crowd descended upon Israel’s Ofer prison, in the Betunia district of Ramallah.
Nakba Day 2012: Revolution on hold / Linah Alsaafin
Al Akhbar 16 May — The week leading up to the 64th commemoration of Nakba Day, the city of Ramallah witnessed a blitz of protests which were echoed in other Palestinian cities such as Gaza, Nablus, and Jerusalem. The deal to end the hunger strike on the eve of Nakba led to a more subdued commemoration then was expected … Small protests at the Israeli prison of Ofer in west Ramallah took place daily, with the Israeli army typically responding with tear gas and rubber bullets. Every day, the city center witnessed multiple marches, with marchers calling on shopkeepers to close their stores and join them as they headed back to the point they started from: the prisoners’ solidarity tent at Clock Square. On some occasions, huge traffic jams were caused by the protesters who blocked the main streets as they sat on the ground, chanting and holding up posters and pictures of prisoners. Other creative ways of demonstrating to raise awareness about the prisoners’ struggle included offering water and salt to people, as a reminder that these two elements were all that the prisoners were surviving on during their hunger strike. Frustration was vented at the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership as well. Protesters almost managed to enter the PA compound of al-Muqata, calling out against the leadership’s compliant silence … The hunger strikers had triumphed. Yet the role of the PA and its frantic collusion with Israel to reach a deal ahead of Nakba Day is certainly questionable. The charged atmosphere was effectively diffused. As a result, Nakba Day in the West Bank lost its unique potential to spark an uprising and instead panned out like any other commemoration
Nakba mass protest challenges occupation all day
PNN 16 May — This year’s Nakba protest at Ofer, called for by Stop the Wall and the Independent Youth Movement (Herak Shebabi), has seen up to two thousand people challenging the occupation at the checkpoint outside Ramallah, near the Israeli military prison … Already by 1 pm around a thousand people had joined the protest and an hour later — when news about the ongoing clashes reached the Nakba events around Ramallah’s center square al Manara — many more moved from there to back up the protesters in the continuing confrontations at Ofar. Nevertheless Israeli military was able to enter into the residential areas of Beitunia and stationed itself on roof tops, gardens and other areas. The military fired an enormous amount of teargas, rubber bullets, sound bombs on the protesters. Skunk water was sprayed in the area. Jeeps have been charging people in the streets. Many had to be treated for severe suffocation due to the tear gas hanging heavy everywhere.
Video: Brutal attempt to arrest a Palestinian guy during #Nakba64 anniversary demonstration near Ofer military jail, 15.05.2012
Ni‘lin Sons 16 May — …The biggest protest was outside Israel’s Ofer Military prison, where there had been a large scale hunger strike. One wonders had this hunger strike been anywhere else, would the world media have made more of it? They made very little of this hunger strike. PAL Red Crescent services said that 216 were treated for gas inhalation and 64 had rubber bullet injuries. While 19 more were hospitalised. One youth was caught and the soldiers attempted to arrest him. He was beaten brutally and was freed by several other Palestinian youths who were throwing stones. He was injured to the head and taken to hospital. The clashes continued until 6.30.
Nakba anniversary message / Mazin Qumsiyeh
ISM posted 16 May — On this 64th anniversary of the Nakba we mourn the ethnic cleansing that began in 1948 and that continues today with silent transfer, home demolitions, land confiscation and more. But we also celebrate an amazing resilience and success of the Palestinian endogenous people against incredible odds … We are 11.5 million people and while most of us are refugees and displaced people, we remain steadfast and hopeful and connected … We are still the most educated people in the Middle East with the highest per capita of postgraduates. We now have 12 universities inside the occupied Palestinian territories. On Saturday we held the second biomedical research symposium in Bethlehem showing scientific work rivaling that done in countries with a strong tradition of research. This is miraculous considering the conditions under occupation.
Recognizing Nakba, reaching peace / Hanan Ashrawi
Haaretz 15 May — …For many Israelis, recognizing what happened back in 1948 is a painful process. The slogan “Your independence is our Nakba”, which is on display in many Palestinian cities is indeed correct … By 1948, Palestine was one of the most developed Arab societies, boasting one of the healthiest economies under the British mandate and a high school enrolment rate, second only to Lebanon. Commerce, the arts, literature, music, and other cultural aspects of life were thriving in Palestine. We remember that between 1911 and 1948, Palestine had no less than 161 newspapers, magazines and other regular publications, including the pioneer “Falastin” newspaper, published in Jaffa by Issa al-Issa … Palestine had a strong women’s movement as early as the 1920’s. Women excelled in many fields, including education, journalism, and political activism. Women activists were among the first to lobby for Palestinian self-determination at the beginning of the British Mandate. Palestinian dedication to education is deeply rooted in our culture.
For a Palestinian mother, the national traumas of 1948 are ongoing / Mya Guarnieri
972mag 15 May — …Two weeks ago, Amira, her husband, and three children discovered their house in Shuafat Refugee Camp had been broken into. The money that Amira and her husband, Munir, had set aside for a family vacation to Jordan — where Amira’s parents and three brothers live — was gone. Jewelry that had sentimental value was gone. Even though Shuafat is inside Jerusalem municipal boundaries, and even though Amira and Munir pay taxes to the city, they didn’t bother calling the police. When Munir and two of his brothers were assaulted in the past and they called for an ambulance, they were told that neither would venture past the massive checkpoint that separates Shuafat from the rest of Jerusalem. “Our Christian neighbors took us to the checkpoint in their cars [and] the police and ambulance were there,” Amira recalls. It’s not just the money and the jewelry that upset Amira. It’s that the police won’t come; it’s that she feels insecure in Shuafat — cast aside, uncared for. It’s the checkpoint. It’s the lack of municipal services like garbage pick-up.
Remembering is now 64 years old / Pierre Klochendler
LIFTA, Jerusalem, May 14, 2012 (IPS) – “There is the beginning of my life. My father would call for prayer, ‘Allahu Akbar’,” says 72-year old Yacoub Odeh, pointing to a collapsed house perched high on the hill. “The whole village would hear him.” Odeh was then eight years old: “I’m the son of yesterday.” Sixty-four years on, Lifta conjures up the Nakba – the “great catastrophe” that befell the Palestinian people during the war that led to Israel’s inception. Hundreds of thousands fled their homes or were forcibly expelled by the nascent state’s forces and, like Odeh, became refugees. Lifta languishes in ruins, strewn on the seam between Israel’s west and Israeli-occupied east Jerusalem. For many Palestinians, the village symbolises the memory of lost land and national destitution. There, Odeh revisits freedom and peace. Locked behind the safe walls of his childhood, he fondly caresses the living stones.
Thank you, Russian immigrant to Israel, for Nakba Day / Bradley Burston
Haaretz 15 May — Alex Miller will go down in history as the Israeli politician who tried his damnedest to erase the memory of the Nakba – and, in doing so, made the Nakba an indelible part of our lives.
MK equates ‘Nakba’ with destruction of Temple
Ynet 15 May — Thousands of Arab-Israelis mark ‘Nakba Day’ near Umm al-Fahm, call for right of return. ‘Denial of Nakba is as much a crime as Nakba itself,’ MK Talab El-Sana says. “As far as the Palestinians are concerned, the Nakba is equivalent to the Destruction of the First and Second Temples. It’s a traumatic event that transformed the Palestinian people from a people living in their homeland to refugees longing for the right to return to their homeland.”
Demonizing the Nakba / Larry Derfner
972mag 16 May — Despite what Israeli Jews believe, on Nakba Day, this country’s Arab citizens aren’t mourning Israel’s creation, but rather what it cost them. Ibrahim Shawahna, a physiotherapist and Hadash supporter from Sahknin, told me that on Nakba Day, he and his family visit the site of the former Galilee village where his wife’s parents lived. But he also said: “This is our country, and I won’t be part of any attempt to destroy it. What I want is equality.” Where’s the contradiction? What does Israel expect from its Arab citizens — that they forget their history of only 64 years ago, that they banish all trace of sadness over it? And if they don’t, that means they’re spitting on this country, cursing its existence? Yes, this is what Israel expects of its Arab citizens, and this is what Israel concludes about them if they don’t meet that expectation. The right-wing power in this country pounds away at this idea out of anti-Arab belligerence, while the mainstream and even many liberals simply absorb it from the atmosphere. And it’s a lie.
Erekat: World must pay historic debt to Palestinians
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 May — PLO official Saeb Erekat on Tuesday urged the international community to “pay its historic debt” to Palestinians expelled from their homes in 1948 … “Sixty-four years ago, a nation’s thriving society and rich culture was forced into exile and mass expulsion. A country was wiped out off the map,” Erekat said. “Today, the international community has the moral responsibility to repair what has been done by putting an end to Israel’s impunity and realizing the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to self-determination, independence, and return, in accordance with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions,” he added.
The Nakba, Jewish identity and memory
[film well worth watching] 972mag 15 May by Lisa Goldman — In 1950, the American journalist Dorothy Thompson narrated a 30-minute newsreel-style documentary about the Palestinian refugees, with footage and facts that I saw and heard for the first time when I watched it a few months ago. The film is called The Sands of Sorrow. … It includes some odd orientalist commentary here and there, but the overall effect is powerful; it really brings home the meaning of the word ‘nakba,’ or catastrophe … Some of the more shocking statements in The Sands of Sorrow: Two years after 1948, 750,000 people were still living in tents or caves in the desert. They were subsisting on 1,400 calories a day – 300 less than the necessary minimum. Many of the camps had only one well to provide water for 10,000 people. There was only one doctor and three nurses for every 20,000 people. Only one baby out of five survived past the age of six months
Zionist views of the Nakba
Haifa University bans ‘Nakba Day’ event
Ynet 16 May — Students rally against decision to nix function, accuse institution of ‘silencing’ them — …Haifa University officials said that they initially authorized Arab students to hold the event at the school’s auditorium because it was presented as a play involving Arab Israeli actor Salim Daw. But management later learned that the function was meant to serve as a memorial for the “Nakba,” or the so-called catastrophe that befell the Palestinians with the establishment of the State of Israel 64 years ago. Moreover, rightist students threatened to hold rallies in protest of the gathering … Chairman of the Hadash branch on campus, Muhammad Halaila, told Ynet: “From the very beginning, the event was described to the dean as one that is meant to mark Nakba Day in collaboration with Jewish and Arab students and faculty.”
‘Nakba Day’? Not in our classroom
Ynet 16 May — Knesset contemplating bill that would deny budgets from universities that permit ‘anti-Israel’ events … The bill is meant to bolster the Nakba Law, which the Knesset passed a year ago and that allows the Finance Ministry to withhold government funds from organizations that organize or allow events that violate “the principles of the state.”
Syndicate condemns Israeli assault against photojournalist
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 16 May — The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) Wednesday condemned Israeli police physical assault against a Palestinian photojournalist in East Jerusalem [on 15 May], said a PJS press release. Diala Jwehan said she was covering the arrest of a Palestinian youth in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya when Israeli police threw her to the ground and stepped on her with their military boots causing bruises all over her body. Jewhan, who lost conscious for a while, had her camera’s lens broken.
Two young men attacked in Jerusalem and near Hebron
…In a separate incident in Beit Ommar, north of Hebron, Israeli soldiers attacked Palestinian Ahmidan Abu Marais, 17 years old, and beat him severely. A spokesman for the National Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, Yousef Abu Marais, said that “The soldiers beat Ahmidan while he was harvesting the family land, and arrested him because they said he was near a military tower. They kept him for two hours before they released him.”
Violent clashes in O. Jerusalem yesterday, injuries reported
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 16 May — Violent clashes took place Tuesday in occupied Jerusalem on the first day of the 64th Nakba anniversary, especially in Issawiya district. The confrontations happened when an Israeli military force stormed Issawiya and attacked a gathering of Palestinian young men with batons, tear gas grenades and rubber bullets. The attack escalated prompting the young men to respond by throwing stones at the soldiers. Several young men were badly injured and taken prisoners including a woman. Only one young man called Medhat Al-Issawi was kidnapped from his home in Issawiya during the events … Two lawyers Mufid Al-Haj from the Palestinian prisoner society and Mohamed Mahmoud from Addameer association witnessed the events and reported that the young men who were detained were severely beaten and some of them bled from their faces … Two 13-year old boys, Nabil Siyam and Mohamed Maz’aro, were kidnapped in the old city of Jerusalem.
Other clashes and tear gas injuries were also reported at Qalandiya checkpoint, the new Shu‘fat checkpoint and in Silwan.
Teenager hit in face by with tear gas canister
HEBRON (WAFA) 16 May — A teenager was injured on Wednesday when a tear gas canister fired by Israeli soldiers hit him in the face during clashes at the entrance to Arroub refugee camp north of Hebron, according to local sources. They said Israeli forces fired tear gas at the Palestinians, hitting Omar al-Badawi, 14 [or 18 acc. to Ma‘an], in the face. Badawi was transferred to hospital in Hebron for treatment
Gaza medics: 25 hurt near Gaza border
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 May — Some 25 Palestinians were injured by what appeared to be tear gas fired by Israel near Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, a health official said. Adham Abu Salmiya said 25 people arrived in Beit Hanoun hospital “unconscious” after Israeli forces fired tear gas toward farmers and houses close to the border. Others described the explosives as having a foul smell and and unusual color. An Israeli military spokeswoman said “riot dispersal means were placed adjacent to Erez crossing” and later detonated. She said they were placed in an area distant to population centers.
The setup appeared to be part of preparations to meet demonstrators who the army expected to arrive during commemorations of the exodus of Palestinians during Israel’s establishment in 1948.
NABLUS (PIC) 16 May — Tadamun for Human Rights has revealed more details of the agreement signed the day before yesterday under the Egyptian auspices between the captive movement’s leadership and the occupation Prison Service. Ahmed Al-Betawi, a researcher at the Foundation, quoted Mohamed Sabha, a leader in the captive movement, as saying that all isolated prisoners will be moved out of isolation within 96 hours. Bitawi pointed out that occupation had begun in coordination with the Red Cross on Tuesday to make arrangements to allow family visits for first degree relatives to prisoners from the Gaza Strip and for families from the West Bank who have been denied visits based on vague “security reasons” will be reinstated within one month.
PHR-Israel: A significant achievement in struggle against administrative detention, for prisoners’ rights
PNN 15 May — PHR [Physicians for Human Rights] Israel warns that long-term hunger strikers will need to be re-fed under strict hospital supervision to avoid life endangering complications … PHR Israel emphasize that long-term hunger strikers’ life are still in danger, as the process of re-feeding carries grave risks. The organization is of the opinion that the IPS medical center, which is not a hospital — is incapable of giving them the adequate necessary care, also because it has no ability to cope with emergency situation that might occur. Therefore the doctors members of the organization are calling to transfer those patients to hospital, and recommend that the re-feeding process of all hunger strikers — even those in the prisons — will be done with professional advice.
Detainee Sharawne to continue in his hunger strike
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 16 May — Detainee Ayman Sharawne has urged the Egyptian government to put an end to the Israeli violations of the Egyptian-brokered prisoners’ exchange deal after he was arrested only three months after his release in that deal. Human rights sources told the PIC on Wednesday that Sharawne was adamant on persisting in his hunger strike until the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) releases him. The IOA claims that he was detained anew in light of “secret information,” which was not disclosed in court. Sharawne attended a hearing into his case on Tuesday in which three judges presided over the court in Ofer to look into the Israeli prosecution’s demand for his re-arrest to serve his remaining sentence.
Strike deal ‘does not end administrative detention’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 May — A deal struck early Tuesday to end the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike will not halt administrative detention, prisoners groups said Wednesday … Prisoners representatives have secured clear commitments that five administrative detainees on long-term hunger strike will be released at the end of their term, while Mahmoud Sirsik is still negotiating the date of his release, [Prisoners Society official Qaddura] Fares said. Meanwhile, Israel committed not to renew the administrative detention of all 322 Palestinians held without charge if there is no new information that requires their imprisonment, he noted. However, Fares warned: “Who can check this new information … no one can be sure.”
Amnesty International says removal of Palestinians from solitary confinement a positive step, but Israel should do more to protect prisoners’ rights
AI 16 May — “We hope that these commitments signal a new approach by the Israeli authorities founded on respect for prisoners’ human rights,” said Ann Harrison, deputy director, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program. “However, two thousand prisoners and detainees should not have had to put their health on the line in order to ensure respect for their human rights which the Israeli authorities have been violating for years.”
The prisoners’ struggle is far from over / Khalid Amayreh
PIC 15 May — The Egyptian-brokered deal between the apartheid terrorist state of Israel and hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners languishing in the Zionist Bastilles is certainly not the best deal one would hope for. But it was probably the best deal the powerless prisoners could reach under current circumstances … The Egyptian-brokered deal does meet some of the demands of the prisoners, which is auspicious. However, the deal is deliberately vague about the unethical and immoral issue of administrative detention, the open-ended captivity without charge or trial … Indeed, only half an hour before signing the latest deal, an Israeli “security court” extended the administrative detention of MP Nayef Rajoub for another six months, for being an MP representing the Palestinian Islamic movement.
The family of administrative detainee Suleiman Skafi demands his release
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 16 May – The family of the administrative detainee Mohammed Suleiman Tawfiq Skafi, from Al-Khalil city in the West Bank who had participated in the dignity strike in an attempt to achieve his release and to end his administrative detention since 10 months, expressed their deep concern about his release. Skafi’s family told PIC that Suleiman, 26, is the eldest among his brothers and the primary breadwinner for his family. He was arrested more than once and spent about five years on aggregate in occupation prisons, the family added. The family has pointed out that Suleiman had spent a whole year in PA prisons during which he was tortured in PA preventive security cells, few days after his release he was arrested by the IOF which turned him to administrative detention.
Photoblog — Empty Stomach Warriors: Tasting victory
Al-Akhbar 15 May by Dylan Collins — Yesterday, 14 May 2012, as the largest and longest mass hunger strike in history ended its 28th consecutive day, rumors of an Egyptian brokered deal finalizing the end of the strike began to soar … News of the deal spread like wildfire, and within minutes hundreds began flocking to Ramallah’s central Clock Square in order to celebrate the end of the strike, the attainment of basic rights, and the assurance that their loved ones will live to see another day.
Empty Stomach Warriors: A history lesson
Al-Akhbar 15 May by Mohamad Bdeir — Hunger strikes like the one that ended Monday have long been the only way for Palestinians held captive by Israel to secure improvements to harsh prison conditions. More than 15 major indefinite hunger strikes have been organized by the Palestinian captive movement in Israeli jails in the 45 years since the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip began … This weapon was first employed effectively in 1969, in a hunger strike in Ramleh prison which lasted 11 days and set a precedent.
IOF soldiers arrest five Palestinians
RAMALLAH (PIC) 16 May — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up five Palestinians in various West Bank areas at dawn Wednesday, Israeli military sources said. They said that the detainees, whose names were not announced, would be interrogated by concerned security agencies. Eyewitnesses in Dura town, south of Al-Khalil, said that IOF soldiers broke into the home of 56-year-old Bader Abu Arqub, who works as a guard at a local bank, at dawn Wednesday and took him away.
PA security forces wage arrest campaign against Hamas cadres
RAMALLAH (PIC) 16 May — The Palestinian security forces on Tuesday launched a campaign of arrests and summonses against Palestinian citizens and Hamas members in different West Bank areas. In Bethlehem, men from the intelligence apparatus severely beat Sheikh Yousuf Al-Lahham, 35, as he was walking with his wife on Al-Quds street and took him to their headquarters. In Nablus, the PA preventive security forces kidnapped Al-Quds university student Osaid Rayhan. Another student from the same university called Ala Ghanem, an ex-detainee in PA jails, was also detained by Israeli troops in coordination with the PA security forces … In a press release, MP Qarawi stated that the arrests and summonses for political reasons have never stopped for a moment and recently such arrests happened among some participants in prisoner solidarity activities.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Israeli army hands demolition notices to shops near Jenin
JENIN (WAFA) 16 May — Israeli soldiers handed demolition notices to a number of shopowners in the Jenin-area town of Arraba under the pretext of building without permit, local sources said Wednesday. They told WAFA that the demolition orders included a car wash, home appliances shop and a gas station.
Idhna family faces a third home demolition by Israel
ISM posted 16 May by ‘Sunny’ — On Monday, May 7 in the southern West Bank village of Idhna, Mohamed Temezi was busy working on his caravan home. Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrived unexpectedly and subjected him and his wife Faizah Temezi to a 3 hour ordeal in which they were detained, and beaten. Their new home was threatened with demolition. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) provided the caravan for the Temezi family. They have experienced house demolitions on two previous occasions by the IOF. The first demolition was in 1989 and the second 5 months ago in December 2011. Both took place in the West Bank village of Idhna. Prior to the arrival of the caravan, Mohamed, Faiza, and their son had been living in a tent. Now the Temezi family may be facing the loss of a third home. Israel issued a demolition order for their caravan dated May 29, 2012.
A big operation by the tax authorities in Silwan
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 16 May — The Tax authority and workers from the Jerusalem municipality entered Silwan while escorted by a lot of Israeli forces and agents from the Intelligence department for an operation that targeted the shops in Silwan.One of the merchants says:” We are living in bad times, the government keeps chasing and fining us, they treating us like we were Bandits, everyone that lives in Jerusalem knows that the real target is the Arab existence in Jerusalem, we are talking about small businesses that legally are exempt from paying any taxes, but they target us so we give up and close our shops so they kill any chance of a basic simple economy in the Palestinians areas.
The Israeli forces broke into Khaled Sarhan’s family in the Abassiya area claiming that they own a store and that they are located in a building that must be evicted. One of the intelligent agents approached the family since they are relatives of the martyr Samer Serhan and threatened them that they will never be able to make a living in Silwan and he promised to keep chasing them and that they will repeat what they did more than once during this week
Fires in the Palestinian lands in Silwan
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 16 May — No day goes through in Silwan and fire start in a Palestinian land, no one knows what or who is the cause. A week ago a fire started in Wadi al Rababah several times and yesterday in Wadi Hilweh. The responsible is still unknown, each fire causes the Palestinians tens of Fruitful trees, specially the olive trees, and it is a big lost for them. Photo: A fire in the Abassi land in Wadi al Hilweh-Silwan
Settlements to get NIS 44M
Ynet 15 May — The Knesset’s Finance Committee on Tuesday approved the allocation of NIS 44 million (roughly $12 million) in favor of West Bank settlements. Some NIS 17 million of the NIS 44 million will serve as compensation for the Migron evacuees.
‘Developer misled settlers’ moving onto Palestinian land
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma‘an) 15 May — Israeli media reported Tuesday that a housing developer allegedly lied to an Israeli couple who had purchased a home in the illegal Ulpana Hill West Bank outpost. The Haaretz newspaper reported Tuesday that the developer told the couple that the land on which their unit was built was owned by the World Zionist Organization, while it was actually Palestinian land. [And how did they mislead the other 500,000 settlers? It's all Palestinian land.]
Israeli police establishes new West Bank settlement demolition task force
Haaretz 16 May — Israel Police has established a new task force ahead of a number of demolitions of West Bank settlements and outposts that are due to take place by the end of this year. The move to create the task force, to be headed by a Brigadier General, comes in light of the high number of demolitions that are expected to take place by the end of 2012, and the complexity involved in operations to demolish and evacuate settlements and outposts.
Israel opens Abu Salim crossing, admitting 230 trucks
PNN — On Wednesday, 16th May, Israeli forces opened the Karam Abu Salim crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, allowing for 230 trucks loaded with aid and supplies for the industrial, agricultural and transportation sectors to enter into Gaza.
Rights group: Gaza court rejects death sentence appeal
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 May — A Gaza court has rejected an appeal against the death by hanging of a murder convict, a rights group said. The Gaza Court of Cassation [roughly like a Supreme Court] on Sunday refused the appeal of defendant N.J.D., from Gaza City after he was sentenced to death in April 2011, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said. PCHR says the ruling is the fifth death sentence to be confirmed in Gaza this year. The number of death sentences issued by the Palestinian Authority has risen to 126 sentences since 1994, of which 25 have been issued in the West Bank and 101 in Gaza, the rights group says.
Irish writer Gerard Donovan accuses pro-Palestinian group of bullying him to boycott Israel
Haaretz 15 May –Irish writer Gerard Donovan has attacked the pro-Palestinian boycott movement for trying to “bully” him to abstain from visiting Israel and take part in the International Writers Festival in Jerusalem this week. Donovan, a prominent novelist and poet, accused the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) of “outright intimidation.” Over the last few weeks, Donovan has been the focus of a campaign by pro-Palestinian activists to observe a pledge to boycott Israel, signed in 2010 by 219 Irish artists, and not to legitimize Israel’s occupation of the West Bank by participating in the writers’ festival.
Racism / Discrimination
‘Minister Yishai is inciting racism’
Ynet 16 May — “Minister Yishai is exploiting isolated criminal incidents to stain an entire population,” Michal Pinchuk, director of the ASSAF refugee aid organization, said Wednesday. Pinchuk’s comment followed a statement made by the interior minister in an interview with Army Radio, where he said that “most African refugees are criminals,” ading they should be jailed or placed in detention facilities and encouraged to leave the country.
US Jews, feminist organizations target broadcasting authority for ‘silencing women’
Haaretz 16 May — Over 2,000 e-mails, part of a New Israel fund email campaign, call for authority members to reevaluate move allowing ultra-Orthodox radio station to reduce hours broadcast by women.
Nunu: Barak’s statement a slap in the face of those still betting on negotiation
GAZA (PIC) 16 May — Gaza government spokesman Taher Al-Nunu has said that the statement by Israeli war minister Ehud Barak on borders of the Hebrew state pointed to uselessness of any future negotiation process … Barak said in a statement on Tuesday that Israel would remain the only state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.
Abbas swears in new ministers in cabinet reshuffle
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 16 May — Palestinian Authority premier Salam Fayyad lost his dual role as finance minister in a government reshuffle on Wednesday, as President Mahmoud Abbas swore in 9 new ministers. He was replaced by Nabil Qassis, a former university president who like Fayyad is a political independent. Qassis will have to deal with fiscal challenges posed by drops in aid and Israeli restrictions. Also sworn into new roles were Ali Jarbawi as higher education minister, Jawad Naji for economy minister, Rula Maayeh as minister of tourism,… [Full list of 24 ministers, old and new, here]
Hamas condemns PA cabinet reshuffle
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 May …Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum wrote on Facebook that President Mahmoud Abbas was introducing a reshuffle that “reflects an insistence on misconduct and maintenance of illegitimacy and disagreement.” “This patching policy will not bring any benefit to the Palestinian people and won’t be helpful because it is not approved by the Palestinian Legislative Council. What starts wrong ends wrong,” he added. “This step is a violation of the Doha declaration and the Cairo agreement which maintained that Abbas should immediately start forming a unity government headed by him…”
Other news – Palestine
After years of neglect, Palestinians going green
RAMALLAH (AP) 16 May — In a society preoccupied with the struggle for independence from Israel, protecting the environment has often been sidelined – evidenced by the ubiquitous sight of burning trash and piles of garbage bags on sidewalks in this city of 30,000 north of Jerusalem. Trying to raise awareness, officials are encouraging thousands of children to collect compost, visit recycling centers and plant trees. The hope is that the young generation will learn good habits, and maybe teach their parents something about conservation.
World Bank grants $6.5 million to improve Palestinian job prospects
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 May — The World Bank on Tuesday approved a $6.5 million grant to improve job prospects for Palestinian graduates. The “Education to Work Transition” project will foster partnerships between universities and employers and tailor courses toward future employment, the World Bank said in a statement … The unemployment rate in the West Bank and Gaza reached 23.9 percent in the first quarter of 2012, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday. Unemployment was particularly high among women aged 20 – 24 at 65.1 percent.
Arafat’s former aide faces embezzlement charges
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 16 May — The shadowy financial adviser of the late Yasser Arafat is being sought on suspicion he stole millions of dollars in public funds, the top Palestinian anti-corruption campaigner said Wednesday. It is the highest profile investigation since President Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority established an Anti-Corruption Commission and a special court two years ago to deal with such cases, the panel’s chief, Rafik Natche, told The Associated Press. The former financial adviser, Mohammed Rashid, is suspected of transferring millions of dollars out of the Palestinian Investment Fund and setting up fake companies, Natche said.
International football championship underway in Ramallah
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 May — Soccer teams from eight countries are in the West Bank to compete in the Palestine International Championship … Around 10,000 fans watched the Palestinian national team beat Vietnam by two goals in the opening game at the Feisal Husseini stadium, which was broadcast live on Palestine TV. Teams from Jordan, Mauritania, Tunisia, Kurdistan, Pakistan, Indonesia and Sri Lanka are also participating in the championship, held under the slogan “Palestine: From Nakba to State.” The finals will be held on May 24.
Tunisian singer arrives in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 May — Tunisian singer Ahmed Sherif arrived Tuesday in Palestine to sing in the final episode of “New Star”, a Palestinian reality show similar to Britain’s X-Factor. Amir Hamam, the director of the show, and a group of the directors of Ma’an-Mix TV, welcomed Sherif in Bethlehem and stressed his huge following by Palestinian audiences. Hamam said that the participation of Sherif in a Palestinian singing competition show is considered a chance and a message to all the Arab artists to support Palestinian art and visit Palestine. Muhammad Faraj, the director of the show, also called the visit a breakthrough.
Other news – Israel
Israel’s popularity sinks even lower in 2012, new BBC global survey confirms
EI 15 May by Ali Abunimah — Israel, already one of the world’s most negatively viewed countries, according to an annual BBC survey, has seen its reputation sink even lower in 2012. The result will come as a blow to Israeli officials and organizations who have been attempting to improve the country’s image through intensive hasbara – propaganda – campaigns. The 2012 Country Ratings Poll, conducted by GlobeScan/PIPA for the BBC among 24,090 people around the world, and published on 10 May, “asks respondents to rate whether the influence of each of 16 countries and the EU is ‘mostly positive’ or ‘mostly negative.’” The press release accompanying the full report notes briefly that “The most negatively rated countries were, as in previous years, Iran (55% negative), Pakistan (51% negative), and Israel and North Korea (both 50% negative).” … Not surprisingly, it was only in the US where Israel’s image improved among “Western country” publics:
Israeli court rules Israeli citizenship based on Jewish descent not religion or birthplace
IMEMC 16 May — In Haifa District Court on Tuesday the judge ruled that whether a person is an Israeli citizen is determined by whether that person is of Jewish descent, i.e. born to a Jewish mother following halachic law, and not by their place of birth or whether they are by religion Jewish or not. Haaretz reports that the Haifa District Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal submitted by Professor Uzzi Ornan who has sought to compel Israel’s Interior Ministry to recognize his citizenship based on the fact that he was born in Israel rather than on the grounds that he is Jewish.
Israel to funnel aid to Palestinians in case of earthquake
Haaretz 15 May — Israel has set up a mechanism to funnel aid to the Palestinians in the event of an earthquake, though its emergency relief services would not deploy throughout their territory, Israeli officials said on Tuesday. A 5.5-magnitude quake rattled Israel and the West Bank on Friday, reminding residents of their common vulnerability to the Syria-African Rift, a northern extension of Africa’s Rift Valley, despite the deadlock in talks on founding an independent Palestinian state … The last big quake in the region, in 1927, killed hundreds of people. Such events tend to recur every 80 or 90 years.
Analysis / Opinion
Annexing Israel / Zvi Bar’el
Haaretz 16 May — It is not Israel that is being asked to annex the settlements. It is the settlements and the settlers who must agree to Israel being annexed to them … It is the settlers who decide when rulings by the High Court of Justice apply to them and when the Knesset passes laws to bypass the High Court. They were behind the draconian law prohibiting the boycott of Israeli products was passed, they created new land ownership laws in the territories. They can choose the legal system convenient to them in each circumstance: military orders, Ottoman law, Jordanian law or, if necessary, Israeli law. It is they who decide whether or not to permit the Israel Police to operate among them. They have a private army that decided for itself who the enemy is. It is they who decide when Israel Defense Forces commanders should be obeyed and when they should not, and who determine which rabbi represents God’s will at any given time.
A toxic attraction / Hannah Weisfeld
Haaretz 16 May — By removing the local population of an isolated hilltop in the South Hebron Hills, Israel’s grip becomes ever firmer over land we so urgently need to relinquish — Standing on a hilltop in the South Hebron Hills over Pesach, the group of British Jews who had come to visit the southernmost tip of the West Bank was joined for a small part of the trip by four IDF soldiers who stumbled across this unlikely band of travelers whilst on patrol. Jews from all over the U.K., with a kosher-for-Pesach picnic packed in the trunk of the bus, they wanted to see the West Bank for themselves. The soldiers wanted to hear what they were discussing. The Jewish group’s visit is reflective of a growing sense of concern amongst U.K. Jewry as to what is to be done with this piece of territory, apparently loved so deeply by a sector of the Israeli population and Jewish people at large, that they are prepared to allow this toxic love to kill Israel, slowly but surely.
‘Heart-drain’ diary: The option of leaving Israel / Yuval Ben-Ami
972mag 16 May — … Our longing for Europe’s mix of the familiar and the exotic grows, the more hopeless Israel’s situation becomes. The rise of fascism, the growing disregard for human rights, the gradual disappearance of our freedom of speech, all of these cause concerned young Israelis, whether Ashkenazi or otherwise, to reconsider their future on the soil of the Holy Land and look west. Israel is losing its educated, concerned young generation to other countries, ironically: mostly to Germany … Extremism, police brutality and dreams of faraway lands are common the world over, but not everywhere is there an occupation and not everywhere is democracy crumbling. Not every nation state was born as a dream which turned into a nightmare. Though not everyone sees this, this place is a nightmare, where countless individuals are imprisoned without trial, where children are abducted by armed soldiers in the dead of night, where enormous concrete walls engulf villages and towns to maintain fear and humiliation, where multitudes bow to propaganda as if taken over by body snatchers, repeat racist slogans and blindly support violence.
J Street’s Ben Ami: US congressmen live in fear of pro-Israeli intimidation
Haaretz 16 May — …Ben-Ami’s bald assertion came during a debate with Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, a director of ECI, held on Tuesday night at Manhattan’s palatial B’nai Jeshurun Synagogue and moderated by Jane Eisner, the editor of the Forward. Ben Ami said that because of accusatory ECI ads in the New York Times and other media outlets, members of Congress are afraid of being branded as anti-Israel and are deterred by the “ramifications” of voicing open criticism of Israeli policies.
US Muslim and former Marine added to no-fly list, then recruited to become FBI informant
Tikun Olam 16 May — Today’s To the Point show reported on an ACLU class-action lawsuit by 14 U.S. Muslims against the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security for the arbitrary and capricious manner in which it maintains the No Fly lists of those who may not fly within the U.S. The program told the story of Abe Mashal, an Illinois resident who maintains a dog-training business. Mashal served seven years in the Marines, where he was in the K-9 unit. After leaving the service, he began his business and flew regularly around the country to train dogs for clients. Suddenly, one day while checking in for a flight from Chicago to Spokane, he was told he could not board because he was on the No Fly list. After months of meetings with FBI agents and a failed appeal to the federal government to be removed from the list, he was told he was likely on it because he’d supposedly written to an imam the FBI was monitoring with questions how to raise children in a mixed faith marriage (his wife is Christian).