Nada Elia writes, “Throughout history, change for the better has not come from those in official power, but from the grassroots, the oppressed, those at the receiving end of injustice, those whose starving, ailing bodies are on the line. As people around the world show their support for the imprisoned Palestinians, we are sending one clear message: no power can break us.”
Monthly Archives: May 2017
At a religious nationalist celebration three nights ago of 50 years of Israeli occupation in Jerusalem, the highlight was a rendition of the late Leonard Cohen’s most popular song, Hallelujah. And that’s appropriate.
The Palestinian Authority did its best to impress Donald Trump during his visit to Bethlehem, repainting roads, cleaning up the streets and hanging U.S. flags all along his scheduled path, but the opinions of Palestinian activists ranged from critical to enraged at the U.S. President’s visit and the possibility of renewed peace talks under U.S. leadership.
Former governor Mike Huckabee is filmed leading thousands of right-wing Israelis in prayer at Joseph’s Tomb outside of Nablus in the early morning hours, prompting clashes between the Israeli military and Palestinians. Ma’an News Agency reports, “Clashes erupted between local Palestinians and Israeli soldiers who escorted some 4,000 right-wing Israelis to Joseph’s Tomb east of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank overnight Sunday, when at least two Palestinians were detained and several others suffered from tear gas inhalation. Among the group of Israelis who arrived to the site under armed protection was Mike Huckabee, former US governor of the state of Arkansas.”
No Trump’s not moving the embassy to Jerusalem, but Netanyahu got everything he wanted from the president’s visit. An end to the rancor of the Obama years, a declaration of loyalty, and a signal that there will be no real push for any peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.
Michael Lesher writes ahead of Jerusalem Day, “please do not expect any kind words from me over the latest attempt to distract newspaper readers from the advancing flood of Israeli apartheid–I mean, the spat over whether or not Donald Trump thinks the Western Wall is in Israel. The real question is why anyone would think the retaining wall of the Second Temple complex, built by Herod (not Solomon) as part of an urban renewal project meant to broadcast his own glory, was worth a war. For that matter, who could imagine that this pile of stones, or anything like it, would ever justify 50 years of military occupation?”
“Do our prisoners have to experience martyrdom to achieve the most basic of rights and do we have to be reunited with them once they are corpses instead of welcoming them home alive?!” Read a letter written by mothers of Palestinian prisoners to U.S. President Donald Trump.
Phil Weiss shares a photo essay from when Donald Trump visited Jerusalem and the Old City. Israeli security wrapped sites he was visiting with white sheets ala Christo, to keep anyone from seeing him, or disrupting events. There were armed checkpoints for Jewish Israelis, and a surveillance balloon in the sky.
Michael Merryman-Lotze remembers Israel’s siege on the West Bank city of Ramallah during Operation Defensive Shield: “The night of April 2 was one that I won’t forget. That was the night that the Israeli military took over the Preventative Security Office in Betunia. They surrounded the building with tanks and forced out the Palestinian police inside, arresting many. They searched the prison, releasing criminals and detaining others. They then proceeded to destroy the compound, firing tanks and missiles into the buildings throughout the night.”
Youth Against Settlement’s Issa Amro writes about signs settlers have posted inside of Hebron, “At the front of Shuhada street in the old city of Hebron is a street sign pointing multiple directions: Chabad Cemetery, Old Jewish Cemetery, Ancient Tel Hebron. The words are in Hebrew and English only. The purpose of the sign is not to provide directions but to erase Palestinian identity, and even the Arabic language, from the area. For more than a decade Israeli settlers have been installing these types of signs throughout Hebron. Over the past two years, the installation of these signs has increased exponentially.”
Phil Weiss reports from the streets of Jerusalem on the eve of Donald Trump’s visit there that it is clear Israeli Jews have made their choice — a Jewish state, not a democratic one. They fear the creation of a Palestinian state. Even the left is demoralized, and favors Israeli security over Palestinian rights. Netanyahu has achieved what Trump can only dream of, a broadly unified national politics, on an ethnic basis.
A source with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) close to the Negotiation Affairs Department vehemently denied allegations made on Saturday, which stated that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was planning on proposing a deal that would give up 6.5 percent of Palestinian lands in negotiations during U.S. President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit on Tuesday.
Ma‘an News reports: “Following a deadly shooting carried out by an Israeli settler near the Huwwara village in the occupied West Bank district of Nablus, an Israeli settler distributed candy to passing Israeli vehicles south of Nablus on Thursday in celebration of the settler killing a 23-year-old Palestinian earlier in the day. An Israeli settler killed Muataz Hussein Hilal Bani Shamsa and injured Palestinian journalist Majdi Eshtayya after exiting his car and indiscriminately shooting live ammunition on a crowd of Palestinians during clashes that erupted with Israeli forces following a march held in solidarity with a mass Palestinian hunger strike”
Hundreds of activists, organized by a coalition of Palestinian, Israeli and International organizations joined the families of Sarura to rebuild their village and create the “Sumud Freedom Camp.” The camp is located in an Israeli military firing zone on land belonging to the Palestinian village of Sarura, where families were expelled by Israeli forces in the 1990’s. The activists want to show a grassroots counterpoint to the high-level political process and U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel/Palestine this upcoming week. The event also aims to mark 50 years of the 1967 occupation.
Alice Rothchild is invited to give a talk about Israel/Palestine to a New England private school, then disinvited after the administrators view her PowerPoint presentation. A dismayed Rothchild writes, “The tragedy for me is that first there is this framing that there are ‘two sides’ when there are actually many sides, this being a complicated historical time, and that anyone who says, let’s step back and look at the forces of colonialism, ethnic cleansing, explore the narrative of Palestinians, question the framing and dominant paradigms of the Israeli government, AIPAC, Christian Zionism, this person (who is often me) is immediately perceived as causing conflict or needing to be balanced by the ‘other side’.”
Tamara Nassar writes: “The hunger strike is then the reclamation of the body which has been stolen by Israel and confined to a cell-block; the re-assumption of a subjectivity temporarily abducted by military might; a revival of humanity. The hunger strike may be a peaceful reclamation, but it is not non-violent. The violence is simply subdued, transformed into a perpetual struggle between the prisoner and the prisoner’s body. It is a battle: a form of torture that the prisoner inflicts on themselves in a symbolic, but also literal, redemption of agency. It is indeed the body where the Palestinian prisoner finds freedom within the confines of the cell in the larger context of occupation, retrieving the one thing the occupier may never access: Palestinian dignity.”
The Palestinian Festival of Literature celebrated its 10th year in 2017. With a slew of respected artists and writers on its program, the festival met in cities across the occupied West Bank and Israel. From Haifa, to Ramallah, to Nablus and Jerusalem, the festival once again brought people from across the world to the stage.
There has been much talk about 2017 as the 50th anniversary since Israel occupied the Palestinian Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem. But the 50th anniversary can only be understood within a broader context of other key anniversaries this year. 2017 marks: 100 years since the Nov. 2, 1917 Balfour Declaration; 70 years since the UN’s Nov. 29, 1947 partition allotting 54% of historic Palestine for a Jewish state; 50 years since Israel occupied all remaining Palestinian lands June 5-10, 1967; and 10 years since Israel made permanent a crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip on June 15, 2007, creating an open-air prison subject to monstrous bombing to further Israel’s containment and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.
How much does the Israel lobby explain why negotiations have failed to bear fruit for the past 25 years? Rashid Khalidi says it’s beyond the lobby: Israeli and American politicians get funding from the same people. Important industries, like high tech and defense, are integrated in the U.S. and in Israel at the highest levels. As a result the U.S. and American political systems are on the same page, to the point that it is more accurate to think of them as one integrated political system than in terms of allies, he explains.
Tikva Honig-Parnass discovers a letter she wrote to her family in October 1948, inked on letterhead she found in a gas station that had belonged to a Palestinians who was likely expelled by her unit. Looking back Honig-Parnass reflects how it came to be that she never considered who owned the gas station, and what happened to him, a skill she developed as a youngster in Israel’s 48 Generation: “This complete ignoring of the personhood of the “enemy,” the serenity lacking in all feeling-without gloating or hatred were characteristic of the remote stance, the apparent lack of affect, of the 48 Generation towards the Palestinian Arabs. This stance was congruent with the perception of the latter as an “environmental nuisance” which should be dealt with in a rational manner, and without hatred, and when necessary-as in the case of the stationary–to make use of the spoils left behind after their removal. By then I was already experienced in the mental acrobatics involved in ignoring the ‘nuisance.'”
As Trump flies to the Middle East, he should consider: We’ve been at war there for 16 years. Israel may see that as a happy outcome, but we need to disentangle ourselves from Israel’s oppressive policies toward Palestinians if we seek a peaceful future.
After Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev wore a dress celebrating Israel’s conquest of Jerusalem at Cannes yesterday, social media lit up with parodies. The redesigns include an added separation wall into the Old City scene, air strikes over Gaza, soldiers raiding a Palestinian home, and a tribute to leading hunger striking prisoner Marwan Barghouti.
“The solidarity between Black and Palestinian people internationally is rooted in a profound historical framework, one of shared struggles and collective identities that push us to challenge notions of international solidarity,” writes activist and writer Devyn Springer.
In 1953, Joel Kovel had an epiphany as a Yale freshman that would ultimately determine his life’s course, against the US war machine and Zionism. He was tempted to return to Yale for his 60th reunion but thought better of it in light of the ordeal of Rev. Bruce Shipman.
A diplomatic storm arises over the fact that American consulate diplomats in Jerusalem have stated that the Western Wall is in the West Bank. Nikki Haley walks that back in a hurry, and says the U.S. should move the Embassy to Jerusalem.