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  • Jewish West Bank settlers are as smug as white South Africans in 1980
  • Netanyahu responds to Ban Ki-moon's criticism of the Israeli occupation (Update)
  • The world the settlers made
  • Michael Bloomberg has been a fervent supporter of Israel, to a point
  • Israeli mayors initiate boycott of Sweden over foreign minister's criticism
    • I'm so looking forward to your posting of his talk. I have such respect for him and you and Ireland too, amigo.

      Éirinn go Brách!

    • Here's Gideon Levy:

      "Don't Celebrate the Israeli Occupation's Impending Demise Just Yet

      The world will continue to pay hollow lip service in the form of absurd steps, like marking products from the settlements, for which it doesn’t stop apologizing.

      DUBLIN — His stay in America did Michael Sfard good. He returned filled with optimism. “One day the occupation will end,” he wrote, in a heart-warming, soul-reviving article that described that not-so-distant day in rosy colors.

      He described how the occupation will collapse in a very short space of time, how Israel will change abruptly, how suddenly everyone will say that they were always against the occupation. His description ignites the imagination, infuses hope, invigorates and stimulates us to continue the struggle.

      It happened in South Africa, the Soviet Union and Berlin – and it could not happen here. It is so delightful to read Sfard, so easy to be tempted to believe him – and so difficult to be a party pooper.

      And yet, there are a few factors that could determine the Israeli occupation’s ability to endure, maybe not for ever, but certainly a lot longer than Sfard envisions in his wishful thinking from Manhattan. Observe, Michael, what is happening here in the meantime; see how a 13-year-old girl with a knife is executed to the cheers of the crowd, or at least to its silence, and tell me what denoument to the occupation you are talking about.

      Nobody predicted the end of apartheid in South Africa – but apartheid never had the strong allies and generous financers that Israeli apartheid in the territories has. There wasn’t an American president who humiliated himself before that evil regime and gave a speech in its Washington embassy, in another embarrassing act of flattery to a state that has never heeded his advice and an ambassador who has done nothing but undermine him.

      There’s no state in the world that would dare to act that way toward a global power – and Barack Obama continues to bow and scrape to Israel. This is certainly not the way to bring an end to the occupation.

      When France passes an incredible law forbidding the boycott of Israel, it is absolutely clear that the occupation is here to stay and nothing will stand in its way. Israel will never end it willingly; it has never intended to do so for a moment. The world will continue to pay hollow lip service in the form of absurd steps, like marking products from the settlements, for which it doesn’t stop apologizing. At the same time, it continues funding, arming and supporting the continued occupation. With that kind of conduct the occupation won’t come to an end.

      Unlike Israel, South Africa didn’t have a captive America, nor a guilt-ridden Europe by its side. So it was possible to organize a worldwide sanctions campaign that ultimately led to the collapse of its regime. There may be differences in world public opinion, but the media and politicians are still very much afraid of Israel, ... .

      Against the Afrikaner abomination stood exemplary figures – Nelson Mandela and others, blacks and whites, including quite a few Jews whose caliber has not been seen in these parts. Israel is too strong and the Palestinians are too weak and divided. Sometimes, it seems their leadership has already given up and given in. That won’t contribute to the occupation’s end, either.

      Israeli society is galloping toward the opposite extreme. With its deep-rooted chauvinism and racism, its life lived in denial, its lies and brainwashing, how can one foresee a situation in which Israel awakens from its slumber? Why should it? It can continue with the occupation as long as it likes, so why should it end?

      What incentive does a gleeful, blind society have to end the occupation? For what? Who cares about the Palestinians? And who cares what the anti-Semitic and Israel-hating world thinks, anyway. There are no signs of hope, either internal or external, dear Michael.

      I write these lines in my hotel room in Dublin, opposite the General Post Office where the decisive stage in the struggle for independence began, exactly 100 years ago. It took the Irish 750 years to get rid of the British occupation, which was much less brutal and ferocious than the Israeli one. "

      read more: link to haaretz.com

    • "BTW, Denmark and Germany should tell these guys to go to Sweden or get lost. It’s absurd that European countries let this blasting of Wallström take place. "

      Oh, hell yes! Say it loud and say it proud! Wallström is the only one with the guts/morality/cajones/empathy and heart to speak the truth among "leaders" in this insane world

  • Clinton baits Sanders over 'destruction of Israel'
    • "The destruction claim is a dubious one."

      It's not "dubious", Phil. It's a lie.

      Furthermore, it is Israel who lobbied Congress, the American people, and US "allies" to obliterate Iran.

      (Thanks for the LOL/snort/gag that your last sentence provided!)

  • Palestinians in Hebron demand Israel return bodies of family members killed by the IDF
    • Meanwhile, Fatou Bensouda is fiddling while Palestine burns...

      Thanks for this article and for your work, Sabrina. Great stuff @ the link you provided, too.

      (Thanks for your comments, Tom and Kris.)

  • Israel destroys homes for Bedouins, builds homes for Jews
  • Israel arrests human rights campaigner Ezra Nawi and puts gag order on case as part of growing 'witch hunt' against activists
    • Very well said, diasp0ra.

      Spot- on, too.

    • Michael Sfard, today in Haaretz:

      "The Israeli Occupation Will End Suddenly

      The strength of organizations working to end the occupation and their supporters is greater than we think. ...

      ... The ground on which the occupation stands might appear firm. But it’s definitely possible that beneath it, close to the crust, fissures are forming. Increasingly wide cracks are being created. Those who stand on that ground do not see them. They think the ground is more firm than ever. And then, with no prior warning, the cracks will widen and the ground will collapse like a Dead Sea sinkhole.

      One day the occupation will end, just as apartheid in South Africa was vanquished, as the Berlin Wall fell, without anyone expecting those events even shortly before they occurred.
      And then, when the occupation ends, we will discover that it wasn’t hundreds of Israelis who demonstrated at the West Bank village of Bil’in, but tens of thousands. And that everyone supported the B’Tselem rights organization. That’s how it is with a bad memory. In the best case, it’s repressed, in the worst case, it’s replaced by fictitious memory.

      And then, when the occupation ends, it’s unlikely that we will establish truth and reconciliation committees, because we do not have a tradition of public contrition. After all, we come from a culture in which one apologizes and confesses only on one day a year, and even then it stays between us and the Lord. Still, though, when the occupation ends and we have to rehabilitate Israeli society, we will not be able to do that without acknowledging the sins of the past, without learning from them. The events of recent days show how vast the work of rehabilitation will be, how many scars will require in-depth treatment. And then, when we reformulate the Israeli social contract, we will have to take a hard look at what we did to others and to ourselves, and understand what, as a society, we are capable of.

      Without internalizing the crime we perpetrated on millions of people across a generation, without understanding the racism, the fascism and the McCarthyism that sprang up among us, we will not be able to articulate guidelines that will prevent this in the future.

      These are trying times. The right wing is burning with the desire to bury any criticism of government policy, in order to ensure that the colonialist occupation becomes an irreversible fait accompli. That desire has now led to a combined, coordinated assault, involving the use of spies, vicious incitement and Putin-like legislation aimed against the last pockets of resistance to the occupation: the organizations of civil society. All the others have already been conquered and silenced or have deserted.

      It suddenly emerges that not only is the rhinoceros not in danger of extinction, but that it has been fruitful and multiplied and has filled the land. Only the stubborn bastions of Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Yesh Din, Peace Now and their fellows remain. It’s hard not to notice the blood that’s drooling from the lips of those who are assaulting these bastions. It’s hard not to discern the method of combat whereby the assaulting force destroys all the moral assets of its country along the way. It’s hard not to be worried.

      But it’s precisely now that we must recognize that the brutal onslaught shows that the right wing apparently knows something that we do not know. That they have cause for worry from us. We need to internalize one thing: The strength of both the organizations that are working to end the occupation and of their supporters is greater than we think. The defeatist sarcasm we often hear among members of the anti-occupation camp is unjustified. The tremendous baleful and violent force that is being unleashed against us shows something good about us. Given that in the meantime the hard-core right, the center right and their allies in the pitiful center are not collapsing in the polls – what is the source of this fear and, concomitantly, what is the secret of our strength?

      The answer is simple. The world is driven by diverse forces. We vividly see and feel the political, economic and military forces daily. But there are also less visible forces, whose mode of operation is less overt. One of them is actually an idea: that all human beings are equal and that all deserve rights because they are human beings. That idea is responsible for the greatest and most important revolutions in history. It’s an idea that operates like dark matter in the universe – in silence. And it, together with those who oppose the occupation, is pushing us to end the occupation and to bring about a substantive change in the way Israeli society functions. It vests these ostensibly small and weak organizations with inexplicable might. And it will bring about the end of the occupation.

      I am not claiming that the occupation will end tomorrow. I don’t know when it will happen. It is unfortunately possible that a great deal more blood will be shed along the way. I only know that the struggle has not ended. Not the struggle to end the occupation and not the struggle for the character of Israeli society.

      Michael Sfard is a legal adviser to some of the organizations mentioned in this piece."

      read more: link to haaretz.com

  • Groundbreaking Human Rights Watch report shows how settlement businesses contribute to Israeli occupation
    • Interesting,. And that's putting it mildly:

      "Former Netanyahu aide calls US ambassador 'little Jew boy'

      State Department backs Daniel Shapiro after he said Israel applies law in West Bank differently to Palestinians and Israelis

      ... Shapiro was also publicly lambasted on Israeli television on Tuesday by a former aide to Netanyahu who used the deeply offensive Hebrew word “yehudon” – which translates as “little Jew boy” – to disparage the ambassador. The term is used by rightwing Israelis against other Jews – particularly those in the diaspora – whom they regard as not being sufficiently Jewish or pro-Israel.

      Netanyahu has described Shapiro’s comments as unacceptable and wrong, while the justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, has suggested that they were inappropriate and Shapiro should recant them.

      “We are being subjected to a terrorist onslaught that is simply unfamiliar to the United States, and to pass judgment on us in such a one-sided manner is wrong,” Shaked told Army Radio. “It would be appropriate if he corrected himself, and I hope he does that.”

      As the row continued into a third day, US State Department spokesman John Kirby insisted the ambassador was reiterating US policy on Israeli settlement construction. Kirby was speaking after a private meeting between Shapiro and Netanyahu to attempt to paper over the differences.

      “Our long-standing position on settlements is clear. We view Israeli settlements activity as illegitimate and counterproductive to the cause of peace. We remain deeply concerned about Israel’s current policy on settlements including construction, planning and retroactive legalisations,” he said.

      The latest row comes against a backdrop of escalating tensions between Israel and various countries and international political groupings.

      Last year, Netanyahu’s government reduced diplomatic contacts with EU officials following a decision to recommend that member states label products produced in illegal Israeli settlements.

      The Swedish foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, has effectively been declared persona no grata in Israel after calling for an investigation into whether recent shootings of Palestinians by Israeli security forces amounted to extrajudicial executions. Israeli officials said her comments were “delirious”, while Netanyahu called them “outrageous”.

      Israel also strongly condemned the decision this week by the EU foreign council to take up a new resolution strongly critical of continued Israeli settlement.

      Israel finds itself facing renewed criticism from the European Union for the continued expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, a complaint that Shapiro echoed.

      In remarks at a security conference on Monday – regarded as a showcase event for Israeli politicians and senior security officials – Shapiro said: “Too many attacks on Palestinians lack a vigorous investigation or response by Israeli authorities, too much vigilantism goes unchecked, and at times there seem to be two standards of adherence to the rule of law: one for Israelis and another for Palestinians.”

      Kirby explicitly rejected Israeli claims that EU labelling of settlement products amounted to a boycott of Israel. “We do not view labelling the origin of products as being from the settlements a boycott of Israel. We also do not believe that labelling the origin of products is equivalent to a boycott.”

      Media pundit Aviv Bushinsky, who served as Netanyahu’s chief of staff when he was finance minister in Ariel Sharon’s government, made the remarks on an Israeli political show.

      “Nobody was standing there with a hammer forcing him [Shapiro] to say it,” he said on the programme.

      “I see a Jew, Dan Shapiro, saying this. I see it as a pattern – it was the same thing with [former US Middle East envoy] Dennis Ross and now with [former US ambassador to Israel] Martin Indyk saying his nonsense. It’s the behaviour of Jews who are trying to show that they are extra leftwing, more liberal and more balanced.”

      Some Israeli commentators saw it as no coincidence that Shapiro’s remarks were made so soon after the lifting of sanctions against Iran and at such a high-profile forum.

      Writing in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, Shimon Shiffer said: “Shapiro’s comments … are significant in that they suggest the Obama administration will no longer tolerate human rights violations by our decision-makers against Palestinians in the West Bank. From the perspective of the White House, ‘enough is enough’.”

      link to theguardian.com

  • ‘If it doesn’t have risk it is not worth doing’: Rachel Corrie's family remembers Alan Rickman
    • Huge thanks for this, Craig and family.

      RIP to the angels.

      ‘If it doesn’t have risk it is not worth doing’ is true and real. Free Palestine.

  • Methodist divestment highlights Israel's place in the world
  • Palestinian poet and artist Ashraf Fayadh sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia (Updated)
  • Facebook censors cartoon critical of Israel
    • Latuff is a hugely talented truth- teller! This is such an important and terrific article, Annie. Thanks so much for it.

      Here's an example of horrid Zio- lies :

      "... U.S. College Campuses 'Won't Give pro-Israel Students a Safe Space'

      'I know when I speak on college campuses in favor of Israel, I need armed guards protecting me from radical leftist students who would use physical intimidation,' Alan Dershowitz denounces political environment on college campuses

      ... When I was first teaching in the '50s there were attempts to censor speech by Senator McCarthy. the right wing was trying to censor left-wing speech. Now it's the hard left that's trying to censor right-wing speech, conservative speech, Christian speech, pro-Israel speech, you name it. 

      And this idea of safe spaces. We have to distinguish between safe spaces for ideas, where there should be none, and physically safe places where you're not intimidated or you're not threatened. And christian speakers, pro-Israel speakers, speakers that are not politically correct today, have their physical safety endangered. 

      I know when I speak on college campuses in favor of Israel, I need armed guards protecting me from radical leftist students who would use physical intimidation. They won't give me a safe space. They won't give pro-Israel students a safe space. They won't give Christian students a safe space."

      read more: link to haaretz.com

  • At last, a Palestinian is arrested, not killed, after alleged stabbing attack in Jerusalem
    • Thanks, Kate. ;(

      I nearly screamed while driving when I heard this piece on NPR today:

      "Israel's Return Of Palestinian Bodies Is Fraught With Emotion And Politics"

      link to npr.org

      O/T, but also sickening:

      " ...Two passengers with Israeli documents left an Aegean Airlines flight after other Israelis protested about their presence, the company has said.

      Israeli media identified the two as an Israeli-Arab and a Palestinian, and said the protesting passengers were Jewish. The incident occurred on Sunday night, delaying the flight from Athens to Tel Aviv by more than 90 minutes.

      Aegean said: “An initially small group of passengers very vocally and persistently asked for two other Israeli passengers to be checked for security issues.”

      The airline said one of the men held an Israeli passport and the other had a valid Israeli residence permit. It did not mention their ethnicity.

      “While it is indeed unfortunate that they were possibly racially profiling the customers, indeed their fellow Israelis … safety must be first,” the company said.

      By the time the police arrived to check the two passengers’ passports, finding nothing suspicious, the outcry had spread.

      “It started with three or four people and by the end there were 60-70 people standing up, demanding that the pair disembark,” a company spokesperson said. “The pilot said anyone who does not feel safe to fly should disembark and would not be compensated. But by that stage, the two men were in a poor state and wanted to leave themselves.”

      Aegean said it had offered the pair overnight stay and transport on Tuesday. They were compensated for the incident and flew to Israel on an El Al flight on Monday.

      “We thank again the two Israeli passengers that agreed to disembark for their understanding and collaboration and we apologise for the whole episode which was indeed extremely unfortunate,” ..."

      link to theguardian.com

      The psycho mob should have been taken off the plane and left on the tarmac! Who else would ever be allowed to behave this way on any plane, anywhere???

  • After 10 years of ignoring an important story, 'NYT' finally gets to 'Breaking the Silence'
    • BTS at least provides some potential healing for those with PTSD. For that I am grateful.

      Read this, please:

      "Religious Ultranationalist Zionists Have Taken Over Israel – Gideon Levy/Haaretz

      First they built the settlements, then they killed off the two-state solution, now they are free to turn to their next target.

      We can already announce the winner. Religious ultranationalism, which hides behind the worn-out name “religious Zionism,” has won, big time. With the appointment of the new police commissioner, head of the Mossad and the expected appointment of the attorney general, each belonging to their camp, they have captured additional outposts of decisive power. Now the entire top leadership of the legal system (the state prosecutor and Tel Aviv district prosecutor are theirs too) and part of the defense establishment is in their hands. ..."

      link to platosguns.com

      JSIL.

      Merry Christmas, ladies and gentlemen @ and of MW.

      Bless Gideon Levy.

  • Israeli settlers at a wedding party cheer burning of Palestinian baby
    • "Why Are Israelis So Shocked by the 'Wedding of Hate' Video?

      Thanks to the country's mainstream, the West Bank has become the land of unlimited possibilities for the average Israeli Jew. This is the soil that gave rise to those young dancers with their bouncing sidelocks and their guns.

      Israeli defense minister: Israeli right must do some soul-searching over Jewish terror

      The horror expressed by the Israeli mainstream at the “blood wedding” video is more repulsive than the clip itself. The shock is at the messianic, disruptive representation of the settlement enterprise, the handiwork of successive generations of the Israeli mainstream.

      The police are shocked. Every month on Rosh Hodesh, the start of the Hebrew month, a “sivuv she’arim” is held in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. The ceremonial circling of the gates of the Temple Mount, accompanied by shofar-blowing and reading of Psalms, is organized by El Har Hamor, a nonprofit association that seeks to rebuild the Temple. The Israel Police provide security for the event, which takes place between shuttered Palestinian stores. Men in white kippot dance, sidelocks bouncing – just like in the video – and pound on the closed doors.

      According to documentation from October, they also sing songs similar to the ones in the video (“Burn down the mosque” and “We will avenge one of the two eyes of Palestine, curse them”), and while the Arabs shut themselves into their homes, the dancers chant “Death to Arabs.” Not only are the police there, they also try to prevent leftists from recording the events.

      Open and shut cases

      The Judea and Samaria district police are shocked. This is the police district that systematically closes investigations of Israeli violence against Palestinians. Out of 1,104 investigations opened after Palestinians complained of violent injury or property damage over a 10-year period, from 2005 to August 2015, 940, or 91.6 percent, were closed without charges being filed, according to the Yesh Din legal defense NGO. In 85 percent of the cases, the closure was due to failure of the police investigation. The reason given in 624 of the cases was “offender unknown,” while in 208 cases it was “insufficient evidence.”

      Examples? On Passover Eve 2011, a group of Israelis injured Bruce Lee Eid of Burin, a village south of Nablus. One of the Israelis shot Eid, wounding him severely in the abdomen and right hand. This attack was one of many designed to prevent the villagers from building on their lands. Soldiers fired tear gas at Palestinians who came to defend their neighbor. The incident was filmed, the origin of the assailants (the Givat Ronen outpost) was known, but the case was closed.

      In another case, from October 2011, a few Israeli Jews from Combatants for Peace accompanied Palestinians from the village of Jalud on their first olive harvest in 10 years. In all those years the Israel Defense Forces (were they also shocked by the wedding video?) had kept them from working their laands. Soldiers fired tear gas at Palestinians who came to defend their neighbor. The incident was filmed, the origin of the assailants (the Givat Ronen outpost) was known, ...

      Masked Israelis, accompanied by an armed, unmasked Israeli in civilian clothes (perhaps the security coordinator) came, threw a stun grenade, fired into the air and attacked the harvesters with clubs, injuring three Israelis and two Palestinians. Soldiers and Border Police officers who were there fired tear gas and stun grenades at Palestinians. The case was closed despite the wounded Israelis and the presence of soldiers who were witnesses.

      The culture of “unknown offenders,” “insufficient evidence” and do-nothing soldiers nurtured the atmosphere of “we can run riot and no one will touch us” seen in the wedding video.

      Here’s a less-than-wild guess: The justices of the High Court of Justice are also “shocked” by the video. Two out of three justices last week allowed a person who was convicted of assaulting a Palestinian youth to continue to offend against a different Palestinian, by cultivating a vineyard on private Palestinian land. With the High Court’s approval, five years after appropriating land that did not belong to him, Zvi Strock, son of Habayit Hayehudi MK Orit Strock, can continue to keep Fawzi Ibrahim off his land for another year.

      Strock did not return the land, a full year after an IDF appeals committee ordered him to do so. Now he is requesting an additional one-year extension so that the process can be done “peacefully.” That sounds like a clear threat: If he is removed earlier, it will not be peaceful. The mainstream (the state and the High Court) heard the threat, and knuckled under.

      Netanyahu 'shocked,' too

      Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is shocked, and the Defense Ministry is shocked. With their approval, dozens of bulldozers continue to nibble with the avarice of real-estate sharks at the land of dozens of Palestinian villages, in order to build homes for Jews. Go to Modi’in Ilit, to Alei Zahav, Barkan, Ariel. Without dancing or bouncing sidelocks, the state is doing much more than the “blood wedding” dancers could.

      Thanks to the mainstream, the West Bank has become the land of unlimited possibilities for the average Israeli Jew. It’s a substitute for the welfare state that they ground down with a devotion that would do honor to Milton Friedman. This is the soil that gave rise to those young dancers with their bouncing peiyot and their guns.

      Their messianism was born of the incessant secular Israeli disregard for international law and justice, which prohibit settlements in occupied territory. Their deranged messianism is fed by the consistent, deranged political objective of the settlement enterprise: to thwart the possibility of living in equality and peace with the Palestinian people in this land. Fed by and feeding.

      Amira Hass
      Haaretz Correspondent
      read more: link to haaretz.com"

      Bless Amira Hass.

    • Spot- on comment.

      Thank you, abc.

  • Merry Christmas and get out of Israel, you blood-drinking Christian vampires
    • "Bethlehem Celebrates Another Occupied Christmas

      Whether the city of Jesus' birth will be a symbol for peace or for war lies in the hands of Israel's leaders. Can they respect the legal and moral imperative to respect Palestinians' inalienable rights?

      At this holy time of the year, Bethlehem, the city of the Nativity, stands at the center of attention of the whole world. What the world might overlook as it watches is that the very city where Jesus was born celebrates yet another occupied Christmas. This year, Israel, a self-proclaimed “safe haven” for Christians, has presented to Bethlehem a few unwelcome Christmas gifts.

      Israel’s Christmas gifts to Bethlehem this year serve towards consolidating the separation between Bethlehem and its twin city, Jerusalem; the city where Jesus was born and the city where he was resurrected – the essence of the Christian faith. Aside from the daily violations that the besieged Bethlehem suffers as a result of the occupation, Israel issued a military order last week announcing that it has confiscated 101 dunams of Bethlehem’s northern lands. In the same week, the Israeli government approved the expansion of the illegal settlement of Gilo - built on privately owned lands of Bethlehem - by 891 new housing units.

      Right to the west of the Gilo settlement lies the Cremisan valley in Beit Jala with its two Salesian monasteries and privately owned agricultural lands. Despite a nine-year legal battle, tremendous diplomatic lobby efforts and civil resistance, Israel continues to build the annexation wall in Cremisan, leaving 58 Palestinian Christian families robbed of their lands. Where do these families go now and to whom do they have recourse?

      Despite Israel’s claim that it is the only country in the Middle East where Christians prosper, the unspoken message it sends on the ground is that it has no respect whatsoever for their rights as Palestinians and for their existence in their homeland. It is claimed that Islamic extremism is the reason behind the massive emigration of Palestinian Christians. In reality, the problems of Palestinian Christians stem essentially from the fact that they are Palestinians living under the Israeli occupation. What drives a Palestinian Christian out of his homeland to seek a better future elsewhere is the daily harassment of the occupation, and Israel’s land confiscation policies fall at the heart of the matter.

      The Israeli government is quick to cite “security” justifications for its oppressive policies - while in reality, land grab and settlement expansion motives – under the pretext of security - cannot be concealed. 

      Nevertheless, I will not call on anyone. I will not make yet another failed call on the international community. This time, I only call on the Israeli leaders in search of “security”. I call on them to finally see the inevitable result of walls, stolen lands and illegal settlements: it will only bring more isolation, rejection and hatred, hence, more insecurity. I call on them to see that justice, education for mutual respect and acceptance will bring security and peace.

      Bethlehem is now either a symbol for peace, or war. I invite the Israeli leaders to make it a symbol for peace, and for a new just approach for Palestinians. ..."

      read more: link to haaretz.com

      Stop inviting "Israeli leaders" and beseeching those without compassion, kindness, and any sense of justice , Patriarch Emeritus Michael Sabbah. Rather, you should (and can) DEMAND that the world act in solidarity with Palestinians and for Palestine.

      This is about lives and hope and peace.

  • Video: Days before Christmas, Bethlehem erects 'resistance tree' outside Nativity Church
    • Well said, Michael Lesher. The Palestinian people are the light unto the world.

      Sumud. It's wondrous, spectacular and RIGHT. Happy Christmas, Palestine. Happy Christmas, Bethlahem and to all that suffer while believing and doling out care and kindness as the very best exemplars and representatives of humankind.

      End the Occupation. Free Palestine!

  • Christmas in Bethlehem
    • You are welcome, diasp0ra.

    • No surprise there, Blownaway.

      I just found this @ Taxi's site:

      "After 2,000 years, Christians disappearing from Gaza

      GAZA CITY — Dim lighting and candles softly illuminate decorative tapestries as the smell of incense fills the air and the harmonic sound of hundreds singing in unison drifts onto a busy street next to an overflowing church on a wet and windy Sunday morning.

      Despite the packed pews at Gaza’s Church of St. Porphyrius just weeks before Christmas, Christianity is not booming here. Rather, the worshipers at the 1,600-year-old shrine believe they may be the last group of Christians in Gaza, where they have lived and prayed since the birth of Jesus.

      The ongoing Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip and the highest unemployment rate in the world are prompting Christians to leave the besieged area in droves, some using the holiday season to their advantage.

      Although Israel rarely grants permits to leave the Palestinian territory, dozens of Christians are allowed to visit Bethlehem and Jerusalem during Easter and Christmas, and some take the opportunity to never return home so they can start a new life elsewhere.

      Today, the population that once spanned 3,000 Christians in Gaza just a few years ago has been reduced to 1,200, and worshipers say the area could be entirely devoid of the religious denomination within two decades.

      “People might think we’re leaving because of Hamas, but no it’s because of … (Israeli) policies on Gaza,” Jaber Jilder, an official with the Greek Orthodox Church said, referring to the militant group that governs Gaza and is labeled a terrorist organization by the United States and others.

      Israeli sanctions on Gaza have made freedom of movement and goods almost non-existent, and have contributed to an economy that the World Bank said is on the “verge of collapse.” A United Nations report this year said the 2014 Israeli-Hamas war and the current blockade will make the Palestinian territory “unlivable” by 2020.

      Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has frequently defended the blockade, saying it stops weapons from being smuggled into Gaza and to Hamas.

      “Most of our community have no opportunities. There are no jobs, especially after university,” Jilder said. “I hear this Christmas about 50 people will leave Gaza … but they won’t return.”

      “As soon as there is a way for me to leave I will go, and I want to send my sons outside if they get the chance,” ... .

      There is a palpable sadness when conversation drifts to the future of Christianity in Gaza, and there’s anger, too. A community that has survived two centuries through times of war and natural disasters now feels like it is on its last legs.

      “We don’t want to leave, but we are forced to because of the economic and political situation here,” said Luzil Asaree, a worshiper sitting in the courtyard of the church after the service. “It’s sad, Christians have been here since the beginning of our religion.”

      The Christian population in the West Bank has also been on the decline for similar reasons, said George Abueed, a Palestinian-Christian from Bethlehem.

      “Palestinian Christians … receive no tolerance or mercy from the Israeli occupation. Their land has been confiscated, their houses have been destroyed, and they have been subjected to daily humiliation on checkpoints when they travel,” he said. “Same discriminatory measures for everyone. Christians and Muslims.”

      That claim of discrimination by both religious groups in Gaza has led to a feeling of unity. During the 2014 war, the Church of St. Porphyrius was opened up by the Christian community as a shelter for hundreds of Muslims. In addition, many Christians said they feel respected under Hamas’ rule, and that the militant group regards them as an important religious minority.

      “The government here has helped us, and we can go to them if we have problems,” Jilder said. “We face the same problems, the same bombs.”

      With three devastating wars in a decade and the ongoing blockade, the vulnerable community believes it is losing about 5% of its population each year. Those leaving are mainly young Christians with limited job opportunities who are jaded and traumatized by war and hoping to start a new life.

      Ibrahim Tarazi, a engineering graduate, said he is one of those waiting to leave. “I am trying to find any way to get out. All the youth are suffering here, all of them are trying to leave.”

      Still, the thought that the Christian population could be gone in a decade or two pains him.

      “Nobody would leave if we had a life here,” he said. “If the situation remains the same then the numbers will keep going down, but I can’t see any future where it is better.”"

      link to platosguns.com

      It's beyond criminal.

    • Fantastic photos!

      Thank you so very much for this. Shame on Israel, and shame on the US of A.

  • Another Palestinian woman is shot and killed at occupied checkpoint after alleged stabbing attempt
    • There's no end to the suffering of Palestinians in Palestine and beyond, is there? Israel has no soul left.

      I just read this from Haaretz:

      "Israeli Professor Faces Job Termination After Sympathizing With Palestinian Victims of Gaza War ...

      Bar-Ilan University’s appointments committee is to weigh the continued employment of Prof. Hanoch Sheinman, whose comments expressing sympathy for all victims of the fighting in Gaza in 2014 – while making it clear that the great majority were Palestinians – led to his rebuke by senior university officials. Sheinman said the process to which he was summoned is not enshrined in the university charter and neither its procedures nor its goal are clear.

      The university rejected Sheinman’s remarks and said the process was “accepted in academic institutions, including at Bar-Ilan.”

      In July 2014, Sheinman, a member of the university’s law faculty, wrote an email to students in one of the courses he was teaching, that he hoped his message “finds you in a safe place, and that you, your families and those dear to you are not among the hundreds of people that were killed, the thousands wounded, or the tens of thousands whose homes were destroyed or were forced to leave their homes during, or as a direct result of, the violent confrontation in the Gaza Strip and its environs.”

      Sheinman added that he hoped his students and their families “remained safe and healthy until the conflict ends and always.”

      Some students read his statements as support for the Palestinians and complained to the faculty’s dean, Prof. Shahar Lifschitz, that their feelings had been “insulted.” Lifschitz condemned the letter as “hurtful." Lifschitz apologized to the students and demanded that Sheinman do the same, although he eventually retracted that demand. The university’s response roused criticism in Israel and abroad.

      Sheinman’s attorney, Nava Pinchuk, wrote Lifschitz summoning Sheinman to a meeting “under an expedited timetable, before the process has been formulated or approved by the university’s institutions, has a single goal: bringing about the end of his employment in the university.”

      The university responded that the procedure to summon non-tenured lecturers whose contracts are renewed yearly is common. The purpose is to examine such lecturers’ “progress in the relevant academic parameters for promotion and tenure. ... This was done with Prof. Sheinman, as has been done with other lecturers in the law faculty and the university.”

      The university also said decisions regarding promotion “are made according to professional considerations only. Prof. Sheinman’s letter to students during Operation Protective Edge and his political views had no bearing on the question of his continued employment at the university.”"

      read more: link to haaretz.com

      Apparently, empathy for the victims of Israeli terrorism is not to be tolerated...

  • Adam Sandler says he's devoted to Israel because of his parents
  • Lawsuit seeks federal investigation into US groups funding settlements
    • Wow. All the usual suspects on the wrong side of history~ again. Thanks,
      Rodneywatts.

      Yay EU!

      Interesting article, imho:

      Uri Misgav:

      "Israel, on the Road to a Theocracy

      We are facing a major assault on Israel’s democratic-secular identity, with an unholy alliance between nationalism and religion at its core.

      A longtime friend told me this week about a call he made to the principal of his young son’s elementary school. He asked how it was possible that at an institution that defines itself as science- and technology-oriented, the boy was coming home laden with homework on Torah rather than math.

      Of course, this matter can’t end with the principal or in second grade. The comprehensive Haaretz investigation on changes being made by Education Minister Naftali Bennett to the educational system and curriculum are surreptitiously passing us by. And then there’s the new coalition deal between Bennett’s party, Habayit Hayehudi, and the two ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism.

      The Education Ministry will be transferring one billion shekels (about $257 million) to ultra-Orthodox educational institutions, in return for an allocation of hundreds of millions to the Settlement Division of the World Zionist Organization and local authorities in West Bank settlements.

      We are facing a major assault on Israel’s democratic-secular identity. The attack on secularism is by necessity an attack on democracy. The ultimate source of authority is no longer the state and its institutions. The sources of inspiration are not liberal humanism, human rights, the enlightenment movement and science. They are supplanted by a higher power, holy men, the metaphysics of an Eternal Israel, holy scriptures, rituals and prayer. As part of road safety lessons, children of Israel are learning the Traveler’s Prayer.

      This assault has a clear political context, of course. At its core is an alliance between nationalism and religion. Its goal is to ensure a vision of a Greater Land of Israel and the perpetuation of ignorance – on the road to a theocracy.

      Everything is connected, including the string of appointments to top positions. The sole nominee for attorney general, Avichai Mendelblit, was not initially religious but became observant. The incoming chief of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen, was a student of Rabbi Haim Druckman’s at the Or Etzion yeshiva. Yoram Cohen, the head of the Shin Bet security service, is religious and a graduate of a yeshiva educational institution. His former deputy, Roni Alsheich – the new Israel Police chief – was a student at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva ...

      They might all be worthy appointments, and heaven forbid that we disqualify anyone from public office due to private beliefs. But the problem in Israel is that religion is not separate from government, and over the years it has also become less and less separate from right-wing West Bank settler politics.

      Supreme Court Justice Noam Sohlberg, a settler who wears a skullcap, determined that counterterrorism laws should not apply to Jewish terrorists in the territories, since there is no need to deter that particular group. That’s no longer a legal-security concept, but rather a theory of the chosen people.

      Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has surrounded himself with officeholders from religious Zionism, is a man who does not believe in God. Netanyahu is motivated solely by utilitarian considerations. In the assault on secularism, he is joined by innocents, those professing innocence and useful idiots. Some have cynical interests, while others have good intentions.

      Beginning with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid – who dons a prayer shawl and has his wife conduct the ritual involving setting aside a portion of the Shabbat challah – it includes an endless number of public projects and campaigns involving dialogue and returning to our sources and bringing us together. But the effort to bring us closer is only ever in one direction.

      Nearly 20 years have passed since Sefi Rachlevsky revealed the concept of “the Messiah’s donkey” to the broader secular public. The subject has recently been revived in the Makor Rishon newspaper by Rabbi Moshe Ratt, from the Karnei Shomron settlement: “The role of secularism was necessary at the stage in which religious Jewry could not run the country and the army. Today, it can be said that secularism has concluded its historical role,” he wrote. It turns out that a donkey, even when it’s older, is still a donkey."

      read more: link to haaretz.com

  • Sanders warns U.S. against 'quagmire' of 'perpetual warfare' in Mideast for 20, 30 years
    • No. You wish. So does Israel.

      Israel has fomented much misery and mayhem in the region and hell on earth for the Palestinians.

  • Notorious checkpoint in occupied West Bank claims two more Palestinian victims, 15 and 20
    • "Channel 2 news quoted Hotovely as saying in response to a report on the book. “Those who take such actions act as agents of the Palestinian propaganda against Israel and we must condemn and remove these elements from our midst.”"

      A hatemonger extraordinaire and inciter to violence. De rigueur for Israeli Jewish "leaders", 2015.

      Hurrah for FPA Pension! Many thanks for the story by Saja Abu Fanni.

      Thank you, Kate. Thank you for all that you do to get the gruesome truth about barbaric Israel out.

  • Fascinating Barbara Walters shilled for racially-discriminatory organization
    • "do you mean atypical in the sense it was published in the forward."

      Yes. I respect her very much and read her pieces at +972. I'm not a fan of The Forward (Backward).

      (I am glad that you read Taxi's utterly amazing piece, Annie!)

    • Exactly right, Annie. She conveniently and deliberately left the truth out. Fairly typical, n'est ce pas? What is atypical is Zonszein's take and editorial.

      Ugh to Barbara.

      "2011 Negev Dinner" in Ottawa ~ simply surreal. All the while supporting the illegal settlers and thieving bandits who displace the real and historical residents of the Negev, the Bedouins.

      Check this out, and note the year it was written:

      "Negev land is reserved for Jewish citizens, whenever and wherever they want….We must expel Arabs and take their places…and if we have to use force, then we have force at our disposal — not in order to dispossess the Arabs of the Negev and Transjordan, but in order to guarantee our own right to settle in those Places.” — David Ben Gurion, in a letter to his son Amos, 5 October 1937."

      From a 2003 article at EI: "Bedouins of the Negev: Israeli ctizens or punishable trespassers?"

      link to electronicintifada.net

      And from Zonszein’s piece:

      "... As Odeh explained, “I came here to represent the Arab public in Israel to American audiences. As their representative, I cannot in good conscience participate in meetings in the offices of organizations whose work displaces Arab citizens, just as in the Knesset, we do not participate in the Ministry of Defense, the Foreign Ministry, and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption.”

      Ten days after Odeh was elected leader of the third-largest party in the country last March, his first act as a Knesset member was leading a four-day march through Israel’s south to call attention to the needs of the neglected, impoverished and officially “unrecognized” Bedouin villages of the Negev, where about 100,000 Palestinian citizens live. ..."

      Read more: link to forward.com

  • Banksy's bold statement on Syrian refugees
    • Thank you, talknic.

      I just read this from Reuters at Haaretz:

      "As UN Endorses Syria Plan, Obama Says Assad Will Probably Have to Go

      United Nations Security Council reaches resolution on Syria, but makes no mention of Assad; Obama also signs into law new tougher sanctions against Hezbollah.

      REUTERS -  President Barack Obama said Syrian President Bashar Assad "has lost (his) legitimacy" and will have to "leave," as the UN Security Council approved a resolution outlining a peace process for Syria involving talks by representatives of the Damascus government and the opposition, but said nothing on the critical issue of what role Assad will play.

      "I think that Assad is going to have to leave in order for the country to stop the bloodletting and for all the parties to be able to move forward in a non-sectarian way. He has lost legitimacy," Obama said.

      The president said diplomats need to find a way to create a political transition that allows Assad's allies like Russia and Iran to ensure "that their equities are respected" in Syria.

      The UN resolution acknowledges that the peace process will not end the conflict because it bars "terrorist groups" operating in the country, including the Islamic State and Al-Nusra Front, from participating in a cease-fire.

      Obama has trod carefully around the subject, and though for years he has demanded Assad resign, no political transition has ever been agreed upon, and Russia's move to defend Assad has complicated diplomatic efforts to find a way for Assad to give up power and resolve the country's civil war.

      Obama has drawn fire on his approach to Syria from Republican presidential candidates who say he has left a leadership vacuum that Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to fill.

      On Friday, Obama also signed into law legislation that increases sanctions on Hezbollah, the White House said.

      "This strong, bipartisan bill intensifies pressure against the Hezbollah terrorist organization and provides the administration additional tools with which to target Hezbollah's financial lifeblood," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement.

      Obama appeared in the White House press briefing room for a year-end news conference and talked tough about the prospects of defeating Islamic State militants who control broad swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq. ..."

      read more: link to haaretz.com

      It's always a hoot to hear folks talk about "legitimacy", isn't it? Oh yeah, we create and support the bad guys and then turn around and sanction Hezbollah!

      Then there's this from the article:

      ... "The draft also says cease-fire efforts should move forward in parallel with the talks, and it asks Ban to report within a month of the resolution's adoption on a way to monitor the cease-fire.

      The draft notes that the cease-fire "will not apply to offensive or defensive actions" against groups considered terrorist organizations, meaning that airstrikes by Russia, France and the U.S.-led coalition apparently would not be affected." ...

      read more: link to haaretz.com

      It's mind- bending.

      Then I wandered over to Taxi's site and found this stunning piece:

      "Micro News from Syria by Taxi"

      link to platosguns.com

      It's awesome journalism and analysis.

    • Thanks so much for this, Annie.

      Here's something from someone else that I respect a lot, Mohammad Javad Zarif :

      "Peace in Syria is vital. And it’s within our grasp

      Syrians must be allowed to determine their own fate, free from the interference of those set on promoting a petro-fuelled perversion of Islam

      The International Syria Support Group has provided a unique forum for important discussions among a number of significant players, and there is genuine potential to turn the existing political will to help forge peace into tangible action towards this noble end.

      Focus must turn to the political process, and the imperative of a unified front against extremist violence. Yet progress continues to be hindered by preconditions which have prolonged the violence and bloodshed for four years. Indeed, what is most ironic and distressing about these preconditions is that they do not represent the wishes of the Syrian people; rather, they reflect the agendas of outside actors, none of whom have the right to impose their will on an independent nation.

      The Syrian people do not need guardians. The age of mandates and protectorates is long gone. It is utterly absurd that those who have denied their own population the most rudimentary tenets of democracy, such as a constitution and elections, are now self-declared champions of democracy in Syria. Their democracy, however, is not to give Syrians a voice, but instead to thwart the political process by stonewalling a ceasefire, while pushing for self-proclaimed al-Qaida affiliates to have a prominent place at the negotiating table.

      Indeed, it is alarming that some are oblivious to how bands of villains such as Isis or al-Qaida’s multiple incarnations and reincarnations are a common threat to all of us, including their patrons. It is delusional to believe that sponsoring these terrorists, directly or through their newborn ideological siblings, can ever be an asset or leverage to achieve even short-term political objectives. Yet those who support militant extremism are not only continuing to do so, but they sponsor terror with impunity. They even use their political patronages and web of lobbyists to seek to legitimise such assistance, and its recipients, by differentiating between “good terrorists” and “bad terrorists”.

      Beyond slaughtering countless innocents, the hooded villains have proven that while terrorism has no religion, no nationality or ethnic background, it certainly has backers with known addresses and horrific agendas. Ask Syrians. Or Iraqis, who during the past 12 years have been the target of almost 2,000 suicide bombings. The perpetrators of these atrocities, and those who created carnage in New York, London, Madrid, Peshawar, Beirut, Tunis, Paris and San Bernardino ... have one common thread. They were all radicalised by demagogues preaching the same petro-fuelled perversion of Islam.

      What happened in New York that fateful September morning 14 years ago, and the response, is directly linked to the tragedies in Paris, Beirut and San Bernardino during the past few weeks. Despite its immense cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and more than $400tn, the so-called “war on terror” has failed to achieve its purported objective. The perverted ideology behind groups such as al-Qaida not only lives, but thrives. It has spawned ever more vile manifestations of raw hatred and open thirst for blood. Hooded villains are now ravaging the cradle of civilization.

      Terrorists should never have been allowed to set the agenda, or dictate the response. These villains are the offspring of indiscriminate retribution, failure to unite in confronting the roots of terrorism, and continued impunity extended to those so-called allies who perceive extremism as an asset or leverage. We must all recognise that security cannot be achieved at the expense of the insecurity of others. Unless there is a serious change in the course of action, violent extremism will haunt us all, including the hands that feed it.

      Make no mistake: for the past four years, Syria has been ground zero in nothing short of a paramount fight for our future. I say “our” – repeating the theme of a recent message by Ayatollah Khamenei, who called the menace of perverted extremism “our common worry” – because the world’s fate is common. No one is immune from the consequences of the outcome of the existential battle that we need to fight.

      From the outset of the Syrian crisis, Iran’s position has rested on three pillars: respect for the wishes and free will of the Syrian nation to decide its own destiny and to manage its own affairs; opposition to foreign interference geared to impose the wishes of outside actors on an independent people; and rejection of terrorism as a tool to achieve political objectives.

      Based on these pillars, Iran has always insisted that there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis. Only ballots – not bullets – can ultimately usher in a new era in Syria. To this end, Iran has consistently advocated an immediate ceasefire and an end to the bloodshed; dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition groups who reject terrorism; a concerted and genuine international effort to uproot extremist violence; and a global campaign to address the humanitarian catastrophe now, and to rebuild Syria once the flames of war subside.

      The International Syria Support Group should encourage, facilitate and enable Syrians to change the course of their future, and by extension, change the course of our collective future. To do so, all must join hands to put into effect an immediate end to the bloodshed and vigorously focus on promoting an inclusive intra-Syrian political process, bringing together all Syrians with a vested interest in a brighter tomorrow. We must close ranks in the fight against extremist violence and terror, while not allowing rage to come in the way of collective reflection and wisdom for a rational and joint response.

      Most importantly, we must together work to confront the roots of extremist violence, including double standards, marginalisation, repression, xenophobia and Islamophobia. If not, our children, and their children, will be forced to. And at much greater cost."

      link to theguardian.com

      Bansky and Latuff tell the truth with their art.

      Zarif lets it all out with the spoken/written word.

  • Settler Impunity: Israeli Defense Minister says there is not enough evidence to detain or prosecute Dawabshe killers
    • "Persecuting Human Rights Groups Won't Hide Israel's Injustices

      Breaking the Silence, an organization that collects testimonies from Israel Defense Forces soldiers about their activity in the territories, and whose members served and continue to serve in the army, is ... being defined as an accomplice to terror. The B’Tselem organization, which documents attacks on Palestinians by Israelis and violations of the government against the occupied population, is being regarded as traitorous. Human rights NGOs, both Israeli and Arab, are perceived by the public as being superfluous at best, but even more commonly as trying to undermine the State of Israel’s existence.

      The criticism of these groups being heard from senior Israeli leaders, like Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who called Breaking the Silence “malicious,” the decision by Education Minister Naftali Bennett to ban the group’s activities in schools, and the unceasing efforts of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to pass laws that will restrict the activity of human rights groups, resemble a purge campaign. This campaign is accompanied by mudslinging, fueled by the social networks, and has recently taken on camp followers like Likud MK Yoav Kish, with his bill that treats NGOs which receive funding from a foreign political entity as “moles” for the country that supports them; and the extreme right-wing Im Tirtzu organization, which has disseminated a video that is a model of incitement.

      The height of this purge campaign is the thuggish assault on President Reuven Rivlin, who until recently was considered “too unimportant to assassinate,” as per settler leader Daniella Weiss, but has since become a figure who supposedly threatens the state’s security and its good name. All this was because he appeared at the HaaretzQ conference on Sunday in New York, where a representative of Breaking the Silence was present. If Rivlin is fair game, how much more so are the members of those organizations that are the last bastion in the defense of the country’s moral values?

      Israel is slowly sinking toward the bottom of the swamp in which the darkest of countries are found. Its leaders have adopted the paranoia typical of the leaders of authoritarian states. Those leaders, like their Israeli counterparts, are not concerned with human rights, but believe that hiding the truth will help preserve their countries’ reputation. They believe that persecuting organizations and shutting them up will hide their injustices. According to them, not only must nonprofits and NGOs be crushed, but the media must remain silent or become mouthpieces for the state.

      In contrast to Israel’s leaders, who with their policies are sullying Israel’s reputation throughout the world, human rights groups are a small but significant source of light that preserves the flame of democracy. People should vigorously defend them, support their work, and join their ranks. This is a struggle for the character of Israeli citizenship against a leadership that has launched a witchhunt against those who try to defend the public’s rights."

      read more: link to haaretz.com

      There's nothing slow about Israel's "sinking toward the bottom of the swamp". It's there.

      Thanks for all that you do, Kate.

  • Obama's ISIS czar says we can't defeat extremism without resolving Palestinian issue
    • It's a welcome change.

      "Kerry: Israeli Government Clueless About How It Wants to Tackle Palestinian Conflict

      In interview to New Yorker, secretary of state says he sees Israel becoming a binational state which is 'impossible to manage'; his aides tell magazine Netanyahu intentionally stifles even 'inconsequential negotiations.'

      The Israeli government doesn’t know how it wants to solve the conflict with the Palestinians or what kind of country it wants Israel to become, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in an interview with the New Yorker magazine. ...

      Does Israel want “to be one big fortress?” he asked.

      Kerry’s criticisms of the Netanyahu government’s policies were part of a long profile by David Remnick, the magazine’s editor, of his three years as secretary of state. A significant part of the article dealt with Kerry’s frustration over his failure to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian breakthrough and his fear that the Palestinian Authority will collapse.

      Remnick also interviewed some of Kerry’s aides, who were quoted anonymously in the piece. They said Kerry’s grievances against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu range from West Bank settlement construction to “the way he employs Yitzhak Molcho, his lawyer and confidant, to stifle even the most inconsequential negotiation,” Remnick wrote.

      Nevertheless, the aides said, Kerry intends to continue dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian issue until his last day on the job in January 2017.

      Kerry told Remnick he believes Israel is on the road to becoming a binational state, which would be “an impossible entity to manage.”  He added that he fears the Palestinian Authority will collapse, leaving its 30,000 security personnel to scatter to the winds, which would result in anarchy and violent clashes with Israel.

      The alternative to solving the conflict, Kerry continued, “is you sit there and things just get worse.”

      “There will be more Hezbollah. There will be more rockets. And they’ll all be pointed in one direction. And there will be more people on the border. And what happens then? You’re going to be one big fortress? I mean, that’s not a way to live. It seems to me it is far more intelligent and far more strategic—which is an important word here—to have a theory of how you are going to preserve the Jewish state and be a democracy and a beacon to the world that everybody envisioned when Israel was created.”

      Kerry said he didn’t believe Israel was going to disappear; rather, the question was what Israel would look like in the coming years. He didn’t use the word “apartheid,” but hinted that this was liable to be the outcome.

      “Will it be a democracy? Will it be a Jewish state? Or will it be a unitary state with two systems, or some draconian treatment of Palestinians, because to let them vote would be to dilute the Jewish state?” he asked.

      “I don’t know. I have no answer to that. But the problem is, neither do they,” Kerry continued, referring to the Israeli government. “Neither do the people who are supposed to be providing answers to this. It is not an answer to simply continue to build in the West Bank and to destroy the homes of the other folks you’re trying to make peace with and pretend that that’s a solution.”

      Kerry also told Remnick that in 2010, when he was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he held talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad about the possibility of a peace agreement with Israel. Kerry said that during these talks, Assad gave him a signed letter containing a peace proposal under which Syria would recognize Israel and open an embassy there in exchange for the return of the Golan Heights.

      Kerry added that he had made it clear to Assad that any such deal would require him to sever his military ties with Iran and Hezbollah. Haaretz reported on his talks with Assad back in February 2011.

      But Kerry told Remnick that when Netanyahu heard about his effort, he opposed it. “Bibi came to Washington,” Kerry said, “and one of the first things out of his mouth in the Oval Office was ‘I can’t do this. I’m not going to—I just can't.""

      read more: link to haaretz.com

      Wake up world, Mr. Kerry and Mr. Obama. Say it loud so everyone can hear you: Israel does not want peace. It wants and tries mightily to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from Palestine. It is already an apartheid and nuclear- armed state.

      Enough of this pussyfooting around! Enough of supporting this. It's too much to ask of decent humans, it's insupportable and dangerous for the Palestinians first and for the rest of the world, second.

  • Israeli forces kill Palestinian youth, 24, six weeks after killing his sister, 17
    • Imagine, indeed.

      Here's a 7 minute video that I found @ The Guardian, too:

      " Bethlehem emergency: ambulance crews on the front line – video

      Bethlehem ambulance station has been busy during recent months in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Street clashes and security forces’ use of gas to suppress unrest has led to many injuries and deaths. In November, Sean Smith spent 48 hours with two crews patrolling the streets at work and reflecting on the state of unrest"

      link to theguardian.com

    • Correct, Marnie. And the US enables them with lawyers, guns, and money.

      FOR SHAME.

      Here's an interesting article that I've been mulling over and spreading around. I don't understand why they gave any credit to Israel in the headline. It was, I think, a lame attempt at sarcasm:

      "Palestine, Israel, Scotland … firefighting that knows no borders

      On the West Bank, firefighters are held up at checkpoints and fight fires without helmets. But as Scottish volunteers training them have found, ‘firefighters are firefighters all over the world’

      Firefighters are firefighters all over the world. That fraternity will always be there,” says Jim Malone, retired firefighter and member of the Scottish branch of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU). It’s a brotherhood and sisterhood, Malone says, that surpasses conflict over race, religion and physical boundaries.

      And Malone should know. He’s the Scottish coordinator of the FBU’s Palestinian support team, which helps train firefighters in the Palestinian civil defence – emergency services that serve most of the West Bank - and those in east Jerusalem, Nablus and Hebron.

      The Scottish FBU officially linked up with Nablus in 1982 and has supported firefighters there with donations of equipment ever since. Firefighters from the Palestinian civil defence have travelled to Scotland for training and firefighters from Scotland regularly travel to Nablus to carry out training. Malone has just returned from the West Bank from his most recent trip there as part of his humanitarian work with the FBU.

      Between 1 October and 30 November this year, 103 Palestinians and 17 Israelis were killed and hundreds more injured, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. These statistics make it hard to imagine any fraternity between Israeli and Palestinian firefighters, but Malone is adamant that they work together when necessary and that there is sincere respect on both sides.

      Israeli firefighters, he says, have been impressed by the professionalism and dedication of the Palestinian firefighters. In 2010, Palestinian firefighters were praised after assisting the effort to battle a devastating fire in Israel’s Carmel mountains, which killed 43 Israelis. It was seen as an act of solidarity, where humanitarianism knows no borders.

      Fire departments are severely affected by the difficult conditions in the West Bank and Gaza. In Hebron, a volatile city in the West Bank home to a holy site where 1,000 Jewish settlers live among a Palestinian population of 200,000, the city’s 35 firefighters have no structural kit, no helmets, fire gloves or fire boots. Malone, who visited the station in Hebron in October , said he found the situation dangerous and unacceptable. “They’re denied the basics,” ...

      When the Hebron municipality asked the Scottish FBU for assistance, it stated that firefighters are unable to attend an average of two out of nine fires. In February this year, three children lost their lives in a house fire caused by a faulty heater. Firefighters arrived at their home in Hebron, but without a hydraulic ladder or suitable kit, they were unable to tackle the flames or gain external access to the fourth floor flat. The Hebron municipality believes lives could have been saved if its fire service had the proper equipment.

      Malone says the checkpoints dotted around the West Bank and the wall separating the Israeli state and Palestinian territories cause delays in response times for emergency services. These restrictions on movement have increasingly become a source of tension and violence, even for the emergency services.

      One firefighter was shot in the shoulder while driving a fire engine past a checkpoint, according to Malone. “Firefighters will try not to expose themselves. But at the same time they’ll turn up to any incident they’re called to,” he says. “They’re not going to discriminate between human beings if they need the help of the fire brigade,” he says.

      But it is often very difficult for the firefighters to move around. “They just do the best with what they have. But their plight is desperate,” says Malone. “If there’s a fire in the village and you have to wait several hours to get through, you’re not going to save anyone.”

      In 2011 the FBU raised money to buy two fire engines and drive them 2,500 miles to the West Bank to donate to the fire service in Nablus. Unfortunately one broke down on the way, but the other made it to the city and is still being used today.

      Despite donations, there is still a shortage of equipment. For water rescue missions in an area prone to severe flooding and extreme weather conditions, the Palestinian firefighters are having to usethe kind of dinghies you would buy for a holiday in Spain. “It’s frustrating that the Palestinians are unable to carry out their jobs better because their kit and equipment is such poor quality,” says Malone.

      UK firefighters have vital breathing apparatus sets, for example, but in Hebron the firefighters have basic masks to keep the smoke out. “They just put the mask on, and they’ll go in the fire and try to get as close as they can,” says Malone.

      International support has funded the purchase of some better quality equipment and with support from the FBU, the Scottish fire service and politicians, firefighters from the Palestinian civil defence have received training in firefighting, water rescue, traffic collision, and urban search and rescue training.

      But Malone says there’s more to do. “We’ll do what we can, even under the austerity agenda. The Scottish people and the Scottish government have been outstanding, and we will fight for the Scottish government to continue that support.”"

      link to theguardian.com

      It's interesting to read the comments. Most of those that are blaming the Palestinians for the abysmal situation that Israel has created have been removed.

      Heh. Yay, Scotland!!!

  • Roger Cohen and Jeremy Ben-Ami go on the road for the two-state solution
    • Anchovies, spinach, mushrooms and thinly sliced onions with fresh basil? yummy.

      With regard to the Haaretz conference today that I referenced above, here's a link to updates:

      link to haaretz.com

      Too bad that CSPAN is not carrying it. Guess that they have to check to make sure that it makes it through Hasbara Central first...

    • "Haaretz Editor Calls on Progressive Voices in America to 'Save Israel From Its Own Extremism'

      'Don't leave us alone,' Aluf Benn writes in Daily Beast op-ed, published ahead of HaaretzQ conference with the New Israel Fund in New York on December 13.

      Haaretz's Editor-in-chief Aluf Benn urged progressive voices in America not to remain silent in the face of what he terms "Netanyahu's revolution" and the nationalist tide threatening Israel in an opinion piece on the Daily Beast website on Friday.  ...

      ... In the op-ed, titled "Can Americans Save Israel from Its Own Extremism?" Benn explains that the conference was motivated by the need for progressives in Israel to reach out to like-minded people abroad, particularly in the U.S., "who worry about the direction of Israel in Netanyahu’s fourth term."

      "That's why Haaretz has made the decision to expand its presence in the United States, where progressive values are welcomed, rather than dismissed as 'aiding the enemy,' which is often the case with Netanyahu and his media choir," Benn writes.

      Benn goes on to analyze Netanyahu's re-election, arguing that Israel's prime minister has "reincarnated as a radical nationalist with unprecedented power."

      "He viewed the election as an opportunity to fulfill his old dream of 'elite change,' doing away with the dominance of the Oslo-era-speak of peace and compromise with the Palestinians, replacing it with opposition to any territorial change in West Bank," Benn writes. "While paying occasional lip service to the two-state solution, the Prime Minister declared that Israel 'must control the entire territory in the foreseeable future.'"

      In a sharp indictment, the editor-in-chief accuses Israel's mainstream media of parroting Netanyahu's narrative, casting the Palestinians as "present-day Nazis" and instilling the constant threat of annihilation and distrust of the "anti-Semitic" West.

      In addition, right-wing politicians have become more explicit than ever before, Benn writes. "Breaking long rabbinical and political taboos, they advocate Jewish worship on the Temple Mount (Haram al Sharif) in Jerusalem, fueling the current wave of Palestinian violence. They call for annexing the West Bank into Israel and promote bills and regulations to silence human rights NGOs and other critics of the occupation."

      Furthermore, he says, "moderate voices like State President Reuven Rivlin, a former right-winger, are targets of virulent attacks on social networks."

      Israel's liberals, Benn writes, are following these developments with growing concern for the country's democracy, moral principles and international stance.

      "Netanyahu is getting away with his reborn nationalism," says Benn. With the West's preoccupation with ISIS, "as long as Netanyahu avoids too much controversial settlement building and oppresses the Palestinian 'limited uprising,' to use the IDF term, with relatively little force — the world simply doesn’t care," he writes.

      Benn warns that with the current international indifference, Netanyahu may avoid taking the necessary steps to save the Palestinian Authority from collapsing under the multiple strains it is facing. "This will be the culmination of Netanyahu’s revolution," Benn writes. 

      "That is why we are reaching outside of our borders to check Netanyahu’s revolution and turn back this dangerous nationalist movement, which threatens Israel’s future," writes Benn. "And we begin by turning to our American friends whose voices have been drowned out for too long. Now is our opportunity to make a change.""

      read more: link to haaretz.com

      I guess he's been listening to the sane voices of Amira Hass and Gideon Levy. Unfortunately, there is a majority in Israel that like their lying messianic leader and are more than willing to follow him and his coterie of gruesome and racist fascists. No way to change them, they are growing in numbers and have been given carte blanche to carry out murder and mayhem against Palestinians. They are VERY well- funded by gov'ts and by "private" enablers of the Occupation who support the theft of Palestinian land and resources.

  • For the 'NYT,' Netanyahu's dog is more compelling than Palestinians
    • True, John O.

      I guess it goes with his gold ring and his not-so-trophy 3rd wife.

      "In my office in Jerusalem, there's an ancient seal. It's a signet ring of a Jewish official from the time of the Bible. The seal was found right next to the Western Wall, and it dates back 2,700 years, to the time of King Hezekiah. Now, there's a name of the Jewish official inscribed on the ring in Hebrew. His name was Netanyahu.

      Benjamin Netanyahu"

      link to brainyquote.com

      I remain shocked with the fascination that some have for this re-elected fascist, racist, violent, and thieving first family of Israel.

      Remember this from Allison Deger?

      "A Jew’s dead dog has more rights than a Bedouin in the Negev

      Far enough from paved roads that cellular reception cuts out, in the middle of a national forest in Israel, there is a canine resting place.

      The pet cemetery and adjoining ranch house owned by Amos and Shosh Gold affords the civil-engineered trappings of placid suburban life, but stamped in a dehydrated nature reserve; water, electricity and waste removal serve the house and dog burial plots as a result of city plans that have pumped millions into making life attractive in the sparsely populated Negev desert.

      Yet about two kilometers away is an officially-unrecognized Bedouin encampment with 24 residents from the Abu Alkin clan who want to continue to inhabit the Negev—even though they are excluded from the blueprints of development. The Abu Alkins live in an unrecognized village not on any map, meaning they are not allowed to be hooked up to municipal services and are forced to live off the grid.

      These Arab citizens of Israel do not have the same luxuries of municipal services as the deceased, once Jewish-owned dogs decomposing in the watered sod of Goldog cemetery. Their town, which is barely a town, formerly had bonded stone houses and cement foundations, but all 16 of those structures were demolished by the state a year and a half ago.

      Meanwhile, the site where animal companions such as Seadog are interred have all those benefits. Born 1995, laid to rest in 2009, Seadog’s grave and Hebrew embossed headstone has colored glass on it. His company– hundreds of other dead dogs. They are in plots meters away from an outdoor shower, a piano, and a kennel with caged and very alive dogs, guarded by roped pups that bark with fury when they hear soft footsteps or the sandy sound of tires running over a rocky dirt road. There is landscaping, there are outdoor lights.

      When I visited the cemetery last week, a stocky middle-aged woman with cropped red hair and zebra print eyeglasses angrily greeted a researcher and me, canceling the interview we had set up a few days before. On the phone, a woman had identified herself to my Hebrew-speaking colleague as Shosh Gold, one half of the husband and wife proprietor pair. I believe I was now meeting Shosh, but she refused to give her name when we introduced ourselves (though she indicated she had spoken to my colleague on the phone). She said that there was some bad press two decades ago when the cemetery first opened and that her neighbors hate her, quite randomly. Then she threw us out.

      We did manage to see the burial plots, kennel and guard dogs. I had wanted to verify if the cemetery with electrical and water connections serviced “Jewish dogs” only, while the Bedouin neighbors—very much alive—were without the same assistance.

      The woman monitored our movements as if we were wandering cheetahs—and she a gazelle—until we rode off of the property.

      She told us not to write about the cemetery, and not to use her name. ..."

      - See more at: link to mondoweiss.net

      Remember this?

      "Israel’s destruction of Mamilla cemetery part of effort to remove Palestine from Jerusalem" - See more at: link to mondoweiss.net

      The trophy first dog is cute, though. I feel sorry that it was adopted by such awful Ziobots.

  • Ayman Odeh, a top Palestinian Israeli leader, is inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    • About some Bedouins, by Gideon Levy and Alex Levac:

      "A Bedouin Community Left Without Shelter

      Israeli officials visit the tiny Jordan Valley village of Al Hadidya almost daily to destroy anything that can be used as protection against the cold - including tents donated by relief organizations.

      Dozens of pigeons, white and gray, now flock together on a small tin roof, pressed up against one another, as though protecting each other. They survived by flying off before the demolition, but their chicks were crushed alive by the bulldozers that razed this hamlet. The pigeons’ lofts, made from plastic olive oil containers, are now scattered on the ground, like the living survivors in Al Hadidya.

      The local mukhtar, or headman, 65-year-old Abu Saker – whose full name is Abdel Rahim Basharat – says he hears the pigeons crying. With his toothless mouth, he too cries for his pigeons, his home, his three wives, 24 children and multitude of grandchildren, some of whom remain here after the demolition, without a roof over their heads, unsheltered in the biting cold of the Jordan Rift Valley’s nights. When the villagers had the temerity to cover their infants with strips of plastic sheeting, personnel from the Israeli Civil Administration arrived and burned the sheeting.

      The sheer inhumanity of it is breathtaking.

      Civil Administration staff showed up in Al Hadidya while we were visiting there, too, swooping down on the little enclave in a white jeep that generally bodes ill. They come nearly every day, to check on overnight developments: Was a small tent erected? Did someone cover himself with plastic sheeting or a blanket?

      The truth is that it’s hard to imagine what this community of shepherds endures at night. Earlier in the week, the nights were freezing cold, with means to keep warm almost nonexistent. Everything was demolished here, and the Civil Administration also confiscated the tents of salvation and compassion that were brought by relief organizations. Only the ruins of a few tents remain, plus one functioning, small two-person camping tent, in a place where 14 families, comprising 97 souls, including 30 children and six infants, continue to live.

      One of the babies, 1-year-old Izz a-Din, a grandson of the mukhtar, crawled across the ground this week, his cheeks pocked with sores from the cold.

      This is the province of Israeli demolition and expulsion, the district of ethnic cleansing. As in the South Hebron Hills, here, too, in the occupied rift valley, Israel is trying to expel everyone it can in order to facilitate future annexation. And what could be an easier target for expulsion and abuse than the lowest denizens on the food chain of Palestinian helplessness – these communities of Bedouin shepherds?

      The Israeli settlement of Ro’i is next to their land; only a few hundred meters separate its greenery from the devastation of Al Hadidya. That is too close for comfort – the Bedouin must go. Some of the people here have had their home demolished eight times by the Civil Administration.

      Bekaot 2, a major pumping facility of Israel’s national water company, Mekorot, is situated in the village’s fields – but not a drop of water is available for its residents. “In the event of spillage, leakage or any unusual event, inform the control room,” a sign says there.

      A winding dirt trail that originates opposite another Bedouin community, Khalet Makhoul – which has also been demolished more than once in recent years; demolished, rebuilt and razed again in a continuing cycle – leads up to Al Hadidya. Before 1967, the village was larger, home to about 50 families, but in the course of the occupation the population has dwindled. At present 27 families live in Al Hadidya in the summer and 14 in the winter, on private land that is formally registered with zoning authorities as belonging to the residents of the Palestinian towns of Tamoun and Toubas. The Bedouin lease the land from them. Israel prohibits any structure, even a tent, from being erected on this farmland. Still, Ro’i is legal, Al Hadidya isn’t. Beginning in 1997, the hamlet was razed, and afterward, in 2001, 2002, 2005, 2011 and again in 2015. Anytime is a good time for destruction.

      Two months ago, the villagers began preparing their homes for winter. With money received from donations, they spread gravel on the dirt road to Al Hadidya, to allow access on days when rain turns the trail into a muddy quagmire. The children have to be driven to school, water tanks have to be brought in for both people and sheep, and maybe someone who is sick or a woman about to give birth has to be rushed to hospital. That’s life, you know.

      But lo and behold, the guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. On November 15, troops of the Civil Administration arrived and handed the villagers a “stop-work order” for the road. Well, “handed” is an overstatement. As is the custom, the document was thrown onto the dirt trail....

      ... Eighteen structures and tents were demolished; now they lie in a heap. The troops returned the next day to confiscate the tents, which had been supplied by the International Red Cross. They also came back the next day to destroy the tents donated by people from Toubas. The following day it rained and the villagers covered themselves with plastic sheeting, until the Civil Administration burned the sheeting. Abu Saker was rushed to a physician in Toubas.

      Another day went by. Tents donated by the European Union arrived, and they too were confiscated. All that remained, lying on the ground, was a trilingual poster with the image of the trademark EU golden stars on a blue background, declaring the source of this humanitarian aid. And by the way, it’s not clear why the EU, which provides the villagers with this first aid, as in a disaster zone, has been silent about the confiscation of the tents.

      Since the tents were torn down and confiscated, on November 30, the residents of Al Hadidya have been afraid to erect new ones. They sleep in the open, almost without shelter.

      When asked for comment, the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories provided the following statement: “In the case at hand, inspection procedures were implemented against illegal construction in the area of Al Hadidya in the Jordan Valley, in accordance with planning and building laws. A petition submitted [to the High Court of Justice] in 2011 against these procedures was withdrawn in early 2015, with an opportunity given to complete planning regularization. However, the residents took no action in this regard within the time frame set by the court, and accordingly, the authorities acted to demolish the structures in accordance with the law.

      “A few days later, tents were again erected at the site in complete disregard of the court’s decision and of the law, and an additional enforcement action was therefore implemented. The allegations of the burning of plastic sheeting by representatives of the Civil Administration are unfounded.”

      The Civil Administration denied responsibility for the destruction of the access road to Al Hadidya, and referred us to the IDF Spokesperson’s Office, which offered this statement: “[The case involves] the illegal manner in which the construction was undertaken. The action against the construction was interrupted when it became clear that the destruction of the road was being dealt with in an administrative process that is not yet complete.”

      In other words, the IDF acknowledges that the demolition was undertaken in violation of administrative orders. ...

      ...“I have a question for the government of Israel: In what way is this place ‘scaring’ Israel?” the mukhtar says. “How does it endanger Israel? We have done nothing, we only lived quietly. Our life is hard even without demolition, so how can we live with it? The bulldozer comes, destroys the tents, the women are beaten – where are you pushing us to?”

      To which council head Daraghmeh adds, “Let people live. Let them plant zucchini and then they won’t throw stones. Let them live.”

      Two women from the Israeli anti-occupation and pro-human rights group Machsom Watch and three young Europeans from EAPPI, a World Council of Churches aid and relief organization, arrive separately at the ruins of the tent camp to try to help and cheer up the inhabitants, as much as possible.

      “Look at Ro’i,” Daraghmeh says as we gaze at the verdant settlement in the valley. “Look at it. It’s close by, it’s green, they have water, hothouses, homes. The residents here are your friends. Only let them plant seeds in the earth, let them live, and they won’t do anything to you.”

      read more: link to haaretz.com

    • +972's take, by Lisa Goldman:

      "Ayman Odeh has a dream, but not all American Jews like it

      "The leader of the Joint List got a rude awakening on his first official visit to the U.S. after being falsely accused of refusing to meet the leaders of a major Jewish organization in New York. ‘I have actually found that Jewish Americans are more progressive than Jewish Israelis. But the problem is with the leaders of the community. They want to tell me how to behave and what to think.’

      NEW YORK — “I believe in talking to everyone,” said Joint List leader Ayman Odeh. “In the Knesset, I speak with everyone.” He added, with a half smile, “Except [Avigdor] Lieberman. But that’s only because he refuses to speak to me.”

      Odeh, a Palestinian citizen of Israel whose non-Zionist party is the third largest in the Knesset with 13 seats, is currently visiting Washington and New York for a series of meetings with diplomats, Jewish community leaders, journalists, think tanks and NGOs. But so far the only meeting that has been reported by Jewish media outlets is the one that controversially did not take place — at the New York office of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.

      Upon arriving Thursday morning at the organization’s midtown Manhattan building, Odeh discovered that the umbrella group shared its office with the Jewish Agency. The Agency is affiliated with Israel’s Ministry of Absorption and with the Jewish National Fund (JNF), which is involved in initiatives to displace Palestinians from their homes in favor of Jews.

      Staffers for the umbrella group suggested moving the meeting to another office on a different floor in the same building — specifically, to the offices of the Reform Jewish Movement. But Executive Vice President Malcolm Hoenlein rejected the suggestion. He then sent out a press release in which he wrote that he was “deeply disturbed and shocked at the refusal” of Odeh to meet him.

      “I did not refuse to meet him,” Odeh told +972. He emphasized that he had responded to an invitation from the Conference of Presidents — that he had not requested the meeting. He did not know until he arrived that the umbrella group shared an office with the Jewish Agency.

      “I just asked if we could move the meeting to another room, but they refused. Instead of saying, okay, I understand your discomfort, and offering to meet me in another office, they did everything to make me uncomfortable.” Odeh noted that he made no public statement about the aborted meeting, except in response to the statement released immediately afterward by the Conference of Presidents.

      The Jewish Agency’s mandate is to promote aliyah, or Jewish immigration to Israel. The JNF has, as reported extensively by +972, been directly involved in displacing Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, as well as Palestinian citizens of Israel, in order to convert their land and homes into residences for Jewish citizens. In one particularly egregious case, the JNF has been involved in a project to reforest the “unrecognized” Bedouin village of Al Araqib in the Negev, which has been destroyed over 90 times — even as its residents, who have lived on the land for over a century, methodically rebuild each time the bulldozers depart. ...

      ... The quasi-governmental Jewish Agency boasts about having contributed to the building of over one thousand residential communities for Jews in the State of Israel. But no Israeli government since 1948 has allotted land for a single new town or village for its Arab citizens, who comprise 20 percent of Israel’s population, even as the government imposes severe restrictions on the acquisition of building permits in Arab-majority areas. As a result, Israel’s Arab “villages” are actually densely populated towns and small cities that lack the basic amenities and infrastructure taken for granted in Jewish towns the same size or even smaller.

      Odeh asked rhetorically, “What’s the problem with building new villages where our old villages were in 1948? All I see is concrete where our villages were. We’ve lost the naiveté of village culture, but we haven’t replaced it with cosmopolitan urban life — with cafes and places of culture. I just want someone to convince me that this will hurt the Jews. It is actually in the best interest of the Jewish citizens for us to live in a state of equality.”..."

      link to 972mag.com

    • "Israeli Arab Leader's Jewish Agency Snub Bares Split With American Jews

      Ayman Odeh, leader of the Arab political parties in the Israeli Knesset, backed out of a meeting with Jewish communal executives on December 10 after learning that the meeting would be held in offices rented from the Jewish Agency for Israel.

      The cancellation, which soured a historic visit by Odeh that included a number of meetings with American Jewish groups, highlighted the ideological distance between even the most moderate Israeli Arab politicians and the American Jewish mainstream.

      “When I went into the building today [I saw] the building is of the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization,” Odeh said in an already-scheduled interview at the offices of The Forward shortly after the incident. “I felt like I’ve been deceived.”

      Malcolm Hoenlein, president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which was scheduled to host Odeh, said that he was angered by the lawmaker’s refusal to enter the the Manhattan headquarters that the group rents from the Jewish Agency. “It’s outrageous that a member of Knesset would say that I can’t go into a place because it has Zionist associations,” Hoenlein said. “He doesn’t have a problem taking [his Knesset] paycheck.”

      Odeh told the Forward that he had not known that the meeting would be held in a Jewish Agency space, and offered to meet instead at the offices of the Union of Reform Judaism, which are in the same building. Hoenlein said that the URJ’s conference room was unavailable, and that, even if it had been available, he would not have agreed to switch venues.

      “Why would I succumb to that?” Hoenlein said.

      A URJ spokesman said that someone in the group’s mailroom had told a caller that the URJ’s conference room was booked, but that no URJ executive was consulted. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the URJ president, published a statement on December 11 criticizing Odeh for canceling on the Conference of Presidents, saying that he was “profoundly disappointed.”

      “I believe MK Odeh made a deeply troubling decision by refusing to attend the meeting because it was held in the offices of the Jewish Agency,” Jacobs said. “His decision doesn’t support the important cause of dialogue to promote equality and coexistence in Israel.”

      URJ leaders had met separately with Odeh earlier in the week.

      “It’s not that I’m happy about what happened,” Odeh told the Forward. “I wanted to talk to them.”

      Odeh, 40, is a socialist politician from a left-wing Jewish-Arab party who has united Israel’s ideologically diverse Arab parties for the first time in decades. His wide-ranging tour in the United States has been followed closely by Israel’s Arab press. His meetings with Zionist groups have been politically risky, given the breadth of his coalition, which includes Odeh’s party Hadash, the nationalist Balad, and the southern branch of Israel’s Islamic Movement, among others.

      “He is taking a lot of criticism here from his own constituency,” said Shuli Dichter, executive director of Hand In Hand, an organization that runs bilingual Hebrew and Arabic schools in Israel. Dichter and Odeh formerly worked together at the Israeli civil rights organization Sikkuy. “He’s been pushing the limit as far as possible… Meeting with the Conference of Presidents davka in the Jewish Agency building was one step too far, and we must be attentive to this.”

      When asked why he had refused to speak there, Odeh pointed to the historical role of the Jewish Agency in the expropriation of Palestinian land, and to its ongoing role in land disputes in Israel. “This institution harmed us very deeply,” he said.

      Odeh referred specifically to the unrecognized Arab villages in the Negev, and to the repeated destruction of the village of Al-Arakib. Though the conflict at Al-Arakib involves the Jewish National Fund and not the Jewish Agency, Odeh and his aides argued that the groups are closely entwined.

      “We do not boycott the state of Israel,” Odeh said. “We work for equality… In the complex situation we are working in… there are three government offices we wouldn’t work with, and some Zionist organizations.”

      With very few historical exceptions, Israeli Arab members of Knesset do not serve on Knesset committees dealing with foreign affairs, absorption, or security. And while the Jewish Agency is seen among American Jews as an apolitical development organization, Arab citizens of Israel say it has played a major role in denying them the same rights and benefits available to Israeli Jews. The group has developed Jewish housing throughout Israel’s history on land owned before 1948 by Palestinians.

      While the Israeli Supreme Court upheld in 2000 the right of Arab citizens to live in villages developed by the Jewish Agency, the Jewish Agency fought the ruling.

      “The Arab citizens in Israel do feel the consequences of the Jewish Agency’s activity also now,” Dichter said. “It’s not something that was done in the past and now has no impact on our lives.”

      In a statement posted on Facebook, Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky said that the Jewish Agency runs programs that benefit “thousands of Arab Israeli families.” He cited a Jewish Agency high school for Bedouin children in the Negev and a mentorship program, among others. “Along with our core mission of ingathering the exiles of the Jewish people,” Sharansky wrote, “The Jewish Agency is proud to serve all citizens of Israel, regardless of religion or ethnicity.”

      In his visit to the Forward’s offices hours after the aborted Conference of Presidents meeting, Odeh spoke mostly in Hebrew, with one aide acting as a translator. Wearing a black suit and, unusually for an Israeli politician, a tie, he sprinkled his Hebrew with biblical phraseology. Odeh described walking a narrow line, cooperating with the Israeli system while pushing for rights for Israel’s Arabs within that system.

      “We are a part of an agreement of historical reconciliation,” he said. “You can’t ask me to be a Zionist, you can’t ask me to justify the ways and means the state was created… We want a democratic state, a civil state.”..."

      Read more: link to forward.com

    • RIP to a truly great man. Thank you, Keith.

  • The last colony
    • "Israel Is Already a Binational State, and Has Been for a Long Time ...

      ... The terror, shock, repulsion and resistance the one-state idea stirs in every Zionist Israeli are understandable emotions. They are the traces left by 120 years of Zionism and 120 years of fighting the Palestinian people, with all the fears, hatred, ideology, propaganda and brainwashing. Moreover, contemporary precedents, from the Balkans to Northern Ireland, do not bode well. The one-state solution is the darkest of demons, which will lead to the mother of all disasters: the return of Palestinian refugees. Intifadas, wars, terror, tyranny, civil war and Armageddon pale before the terror that the idea of a binational democracy strikes in the Israeli heart. Return is the absolute apocalypse.

      That’s how it is when the members of the neighboring nation are regarded as nonhuman. That’s how it is when you live in the shadow of a trauma that someone makes sure to cultivate, magnify and distort its impact. As a result, a binational state is seen as an invitation to suicide. With that kind of start, any change in mind-set is a long way off. This Israel will never freely accept the Palestinians as citizens with equal rights. And we can trust the prime minister to do his part: Last week, in response to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s doomsday-weapon warnings, Benjamin Netanyahu firmly declared, “Israel will not be a binational state.”

      If the premier says Israel won’t be a binational state, then of course it won’t be. There’s just one small detail, from the realm of facts: For more than 48 years now, Israel is already a binational state. There’s no other way to describe it: a state that governs two nations is binational. Nor is there any indication that this situation is about to change. And so, the campaign of fearmongering collapses like a house of cards. It turns out that the disaster is already here and it’s not the end of the world. In Basel, Theodor Herzl founded the Jewish state; 70 years later, in 1967, it came to an end and became a binational state. For most of its history, then, Israel has been a binational state. The terrible demon is the reality.

      And perhaps the devil is not so terrible? In the cruelest, most unjust situation that can be imagined — in which a binational Israel maintains an apartheid regime in the territories and a regime that discriminates against its Arab citizens — the horrific prophecies have not come true. There is no civil war, no Yugoslav-style massacres. Every few years there’s an uprising, every few years there’s a small war. Israel lives by the sword; it’s not the end of the world, certainly not in its own eyes. So how much worse could it be if the binationalism were also to become democratic? And why can’t the state’s Jewish character, whatever that means, be preserved in a binational democracy, alongside the national character of the second nation?

      Proponents of the single-state solution are trying to put forward a crazy proposition: the establishment of a just regime, an egalitarian democracy for everyone, not only the Jews. That’s the entire story, the whole catastrophe. The background to this is another development that is increasingly gaining recognition in Israel and beyond: the futility of the alternative. True, there are still people who amuse themselves with the two-state idea, whether out of inertia or a desire to be misleading so as to preserve the status quo. And there are people who think it’s possible to establish a Palestinian state and to let justice reign beyond the 1967 borders, without evacuating all of the settlements and without resolving the refugee problem. That is insane. There has never been an Israeli government that believed in that solution: The proof is that no one ever seriously stopped building the settlements, whose entire purpose is to preclude such an option.

      The road is long and hard, but the debate must begin to shift now, at least for the few who want to live in a more just state. They must stop proclaiming “two states” and “Jewish state,” and begin talking reality. And the reality is that the binational state has been here for a long time. The task now is to make it just. That is much less frightening and dangerous than any other scenario.

      read more: link to haaretz.com

      Thank you, Gideon Levy!

      That's all folks.

  • Terrorism is an understandable response to west's wars in Middle East, realist and left writers say
  • Israeli military court sentences Palestinian feminist and lawmaker Khalida Jarrar to 15 months in jail

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