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I have a parallel blog in French at http://anniebannie.net

Month

August 2010

Masara 27 August 2010.m4v

Today, I started out by some work at the university with my students (research in biology) then taking a group of visitors on a tour of the area of Bethlehem that shows the impact of the wall and settlements. We also went to one of the weekly demonstrations and on this third Friday of Ramadan both here and Bilin and other places showed several injuries and use of excessive power by the Israeli occupation/apartheid army. The demonstrations commemorated the assassination of famous Palestinian Cartoonist Naji Al Ali and of the leade of the PFLP Abu Ali Mustafa. It also came in solidarity with the “conviction” by Israel’s apartheid courts of Abdullah AbuRahma on charges of organizing nonviolent demonstrations in Bilin. I posted 5 minute of the video I took of the event here. Please watch especially the unprovoked abduction of Kobi, an Israeli peace activist. They also detained Matan (not shown on video) who was released a short while later. Kobi was released also but will have to face trial later in an apartheid court.

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As’ad Abukhalil on the controversial Muslim cultural center in New York

The rough translation was really rather good.

Bitter Dates

Forced Closure of Palestinian Shops in Hebron and Arrests of Non-Violent Protesters, Aug 10, 2010

On August 10, 2010 the Israeli army forcibly evicted the owners of three shops in front of Bab Al Baladiyah in Hebron, West Bank, welding the doors of the shops closed so that the owners would no longer be able to use them. The only conceivable reason for these closures is retaliation for the 100% non-violent protests that have been happening weekly in front of Bab Al Balidiyah protesting the apartheid conditions imposed on Hebron by the Israeli army.

Members of Youth Against Settlements, a non-violent Palestinian protest group were arrested for refusing to move from the shops. Two of them, Badia Dwaik and Tamer Al-Atrash are currently being held in military prison. PLEASE spread the word, and if you have even $5 to donate so that we can hire lawyers to represent them, or would just like to learn more about the situation in Hebron and the Occupied Palestinian Territories in general, go to http://www.youthagainstsettlements.org

Witnesses: Settlers raid house, burn crops

Published Monday 23/08/2010 (updated) 24/08/2010 13:37

TULKAREM (Ma’an) — Settlers raided a house and torched five dunums of farmland in the northern West Bank Monday evening, witnesses said.

Locals said two buses of Israeli citizens living in Hebron in the southern West Bank arrived at the illegal Mevo Dotan settlement in Tulkarem in the northern West Bank, where they harassed locals and caused damage.

Settlers raided the house of Muhammad Al-Haloul and remained for three hours banning the family from leaving, family members said. They destroyed the house and burnt the family’s wheat crops, locals said.

Settlers set 20 dunums of farmland on fire south of Nablus on Sunday, Palestinian Authority official Ghassan Doughlas said.

Dozens of residents of the illegal Ihya outpost torched the area of Sahel Khalet Abu Shreka, near Jalud village, he said.

Doughlas accused settlers in the area of repeatedly provoking locals by expanding settlements, constructing outposts, and burning land.

The same day, medics said Israeli troops entered the village and fired tear gas grenades toward residents.

An Israeli army spokesman said the military was not familiar with such an incident.

source

23 August 2010: Water supplied in Gaza unfit for drinking; Israel prevents entry of materials needed to repair system

Almost 95 percent of the water pumped in the Gaza Strip is polluted and unfit for drinking. This warning was recently issued by the UN Environment Programme, the Palestinian Water Authority, the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility, and international aid organizations. They estimate it will take at least 20 years to rehabilitate Gaza’s underground water system, and any delay in dealing with the problem will lead to additional deterioration in the situation and thus might extend the rehabilitation process for hundreds of years. Since it began its siege on the Gaza Strip, in June 2007, Israel has forbidden the entry of equipment and materials needed to rehabilitate the water and wastewater-treatment systems there. The prohibition has remained despite the recent easing of the siege.

Child filling water from a container provided by OXFAM, at Jabalya refugee camp. Photo: Muhammad Sabah, B’Tselem, 18 Aug. ’10.

read on

Global boycott movement claims victories, arrests

Report, The Electronic Intifada, 24 August 2010

New York City activists have kept the pressure on settlement financier Lev Leviev. (Flickr)

This week, the Norwegian government announced that it has divested from two major Israeli companies involved in settlement construction and land theft in the occupied West Bank. Both companies, Africa Israel Investments and its subsidiary, Danya Cebus, are owned by Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, and have been at the center of a widespread boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign since 2009.

Along with solidarity groups, Palestinians from the villages of Bilin and Jayyous — where land has been confiscated for ongoing settlement construction by another Leviev-owned company — steadily pressured the Norwegian government to divest from the two Israeli companies.

In a press release from Adalah-NY, the solidarity group that has been instrumental in organizing boycott campaigns against Leviev companies, Sharif Omar of the Palestinian village of Jayyous’ Land Defense Committee stated: “we welcome this decision by the Norwegian government to divest from some of Leviev’s companies. But another Leviev company, Leader Management and Development, continues today to build settlements on Jayyous’ land. We call for additional international action to pressure these companies and the Israeli government to end construction and return our stolen farmland.”

The Norwegian government’s landmark decision comes as the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is gaining ground. In recent months, internationally-renowned musicians, including Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron and Carlos Santana, have canceled their scheduled shows in Israel in protest of the state’s ongoing violations of human rights and international law. Last month a food co-operative in Olympia, Washington, became the first US grocery store to refuse to shelve Israeli products.

Earlier this month, Irish artists signed onto a broad-based boycott initiative, pledging to refuse to perform or exhibit their work in Israel and to refuse to accept donations or grant funding from Israeli institutions, becoming participants in the first nation-wide cultural boycott campaign.

Localized direct actions related to the global boycott movement are making an impact as well.

Chicago activist arrested

In a demonstration organized by the Palestine Solidarity Group-Chicago on 23 August, more than two dozen activists converged on downtown Millennium Park to call on city leaders to sever ties with Israel and drop Petach Tikva, Israel from the Chicago Sister Cities program. During the annual Chicago Sister Cities’ International Festival, protesters rallied outside — and later, inside — the venue. One activist was arrested and released later that day.

“Petach Tikva — an officially segregated city, the first Jewish-only settlement in historic Palestine and the site of the primary detention center where Israeli forces abuse and torture Palestinian political prisoners — has been dubbed by rights group Amnesty International as ‘Israel’s Guantanamo,'” PSG stated in a press release (“Chicago arrested calling for boycott of Israel’s Guantanamo,” 23 August 2010).

“Upholding the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions measures on apartheid Israel, PSG and its allies object to business-as-usual with Israel. Under the false premise of promoting culture and education, Petach Tikva’s inclusion in Chicago Sister Cities promotes Israel-US business ties while it whitewashes Israel’s occupation and human rights abuses,” the statement added.

During the protest activists entered the festival venue and chanted “Drop Petach Tikva!” Activists reported that a pianist who was performing in the hall at the time “stood at attention out of respect once he heard the protesters’ message.”

“The PSG and allies were compelled to bring the message directly into the festival because for the last year and a half, the Chicago Sister Cities International has refused to meet with PSG and members of the community to hear about Petach Tikva’s special role in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people,” PSG stated.

The group said it plans to keep up the pressure on city officials until the Chicago’s Sister Cities program drops its partnership with Petach Tikva.

Charges dropped against British activists

In related news, four British activists were recently acquitted of all charges related to their direct action protests against the Israeli cosmetics company Ahava. On 10 August, a British court ruled the activists not guilty of “aggravated trespass” for their involvement in two separate actions inside an Ahava store in London’s Covent Gardens neighborhood in September and December 2009.

In the actions, the four campaigners rolled barrels inside an Ahava beauty products store, locked themselves inside and forced the store to close “while police came to cut open the barrels and arrest the activists,” as reported by the International Middle East Media Center (“Four British Activists Acquitted In Anti-Ahava Action,” 22 August 2010).

All cosmetics on sale at the Ahava store originate from Mitzpe Shalem, an Israeli settlement colony in the occupied West Bank. IMEMC added that Ahava’s products are also unlawfully labeled “made in Israel” despite being manufactured in the settlement. The products are also made with Palestinian natural resources without the permission of, or compensation for, Palestinians on whose land the settlements occupy.

Using the court ruling as a precedent, activists say that they intend to continue the campaign against Ahava. Speaking to the International Solidarity Movement, the acquitted activists said that they will “continue to challenge corporate complicity in the occupation and Israel’s impunity on the international stage” (“,” 11 August 2010).

One of the campaigners added: “The message is clear. If your company is involved in apartheid and war crimes and occupying Palestinian land, people will occupy your shop.”

Additionally, in Ireland this week, the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) announced they will stage a demonstration to protest the Ireland-Israel match during a FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifier on 25 August.

“In line with the wishes of Palestinian civil society, the protest will call for a sporting boycott of Israel due to the racist and apartheid nature of the Israeli state,” IPSC stated in a press release (“Protest at Ireland v Israel women’s football match …”). “This is in support of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) who have confirmed this match falls under their boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) guidelines.”

Organizers say the theme of the protest will be “Love Football, Hate Apartheid.” IPSC national chairwoman Freda Hughes said: “While some may suggest that sports and politics shouldn’t mix, we believe there is no place in sport for racism or teams who act as ambassadors for racist or apartheid states.”

source

Darkness Dawns at Ramadan

By Eva Bartlett

Gaza is running out of drinking water. Credit:Eva Bartlett/IPS

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip, Aug 22, 2010 (IPS) – “It’s been days without electricity and water. We can’t do anything, and it’s unbearably hot now.” Abu Fouad, 83, speaks of the power cuts plaguing all of the Gaza Strip.

While Palestinians in Gaza have grown accustomed to power outages, a combined result of the destroyed power plant, bombed by Israeli in 2006, and the siege imposed by Israel and the international community, the blackouts have increased in frequency and duration.

For years, Palestinians in Gaza have been subject to power outages, ranging from six hours to 14 hours a day. More recently, the blackouts last entire days.

The main reason is a reported lack of fuel for the plant, fuel which since November 2009 the Palestinian Authority has been responsible for buying and transferring to Gaza.

Making matters worse, Gaza is experiencing a wave of intolerable heat and humidity. Temperatures have soared to between 35-40 degrees Celcius, with humidity up to 65 percent.

Umm Fouad is 64, has had 15 children, and has a consequently fatigued body. With her poor health, she is constantly tired on a good day.

“It’s so hot. All day long I can’t breathe, and I’m exhausted. There’s no relief. Even when there is electricity, the ceiling fan just pushes the hot air around. But now without electricity for so long, everything is even hotter and harder.”

Ramadan, a month of fasting, is also a time of joy for Muslims. Yet this is one of the hardest Ramadans Abu Fouad’s family has faced.

Aside from the dangerously high heat and humidity, there are practical concerns. “We can’t make bread, there’s no electricity for the hotplate, and we don’t have cooking gas,” says Umm Fouad.

“It’s been three days we haven’t had water,” says Abu Jaber, 45, one of Abu Fouad’s many sons. His apartment is on the third floor of the simple concrete house, and during the summer month heats up until it is unbearable to be indoors.

“There are 53 people living in this house. Our six apartments each need around 1,500 litres of water per day, for cooking, laundry, cleaning, bathing…and that’s excluding drinking water.”

Like other homes in the neighbourhood, the house is not connected to town water lines. Instead, when town water runs to a public line 150 metres from the home, Abu Fouad hooks up a hose and through a series of pumps, sends it up to the roof storage containers. “We need five pumps to bring the water from town connection to the roof of our house,” explains Abu Jaber.

Throughout the Strip, water lines are affected by the lack of electricity, meaning entire areas are cut off from running water for as long as the blackouts last.

A Gaza-wide lack of water compounds the problem. The United Nations notes that 43 percent of water in the networks is lost to leakages that result from a need to rehabilitate the water networks. But under siege, bringing the basic piping and materials needed for this project is impossible.

“Now that the power outages last for days at a time, my father isn’t able to bring the water our family needs,” says Abu Jaber.

“When our area has electricity, the water lines aren’t running. And when there’s water, we don’t have electricity. So he ends up staying awake all night waiting for electricity to come.”

Abu Fouad explains the water tank routine he takes care of. “In good circumstances, when we have electricity, it still takes at least an hour and a half to pump the water to each 1,500 litre tank. Since there are six tanks, it takes almost half a day.”

But that’s when there is regular electricity. Now with the power cuts, he is left waiting for the time when electricity and town water coincide.

“I’m worried about everyone in our house. They all need water. How will they wash for prayers? How will they cool down in this heat?”

The head of the family, he thinks of his children and their families. “Everyone comes home from work or school wanting to wash and refresh. But now its very hard for them to do so.”

A devout Muslim, he worries about cleanliness for praying. “Now that it is Ramadan, it’s all the more important to wash. I don’t ask for much, but I do need to wash my hands, face, body before praying, and I pray five times a day.”

Waiting for the chance to refill their water tanks, Abu Fouad misses out on rest.

“I’m not sleeping much. It’s easier to go without sleep when you are young, but when you are older like me, and in this heat, you suffer. I’m very tired. My joints ache. I need this rest. I need the cleansing water.”

Abu Jaber agrees that the problem impacts the entire house. “My daughter studies virtually at university, and she absolutely needs a computer and internet access to do her studies.”

His eight-year-old son, Ahmed, also feels the cuts. “He’s fasting this year. He fasted last year, no problem. But because there’s no relief from this intense heat, he’s finding it very hard physically this year.” Abu Jaber speaks of his younger brother, 31, and without work for several years. “My brother opened an ice cream shop a few months ago, to work during the summer months. And just when he started to get customers and collect what he’d invested, the power cuts got worse.”

“The money I earn from the shop doesn’t compensate me for what I spent to open it. My generator isn’t meant to run for hours at a time,” says Abu Oday. “And to run it six hours costs me 30 shekels (seven dollars) in fuel.”

Unemployed before opening the shop, the 29-year-old wanted an income to support his wife and three children. “I end up paying more for the diesel and generator maintenance than I earn. So I’m closing the shop.”

The problems of one family are mirrored by families around the Strip, with a population of 1.5 million people in a very small, very hot piece of land.

“Because of the electricity and water shortages, it’s the hardest Ramadan I’ve experienced yet,” Umm Fouad says. “But we will continue to fast.” (END)

source

‘Israel was attacked in ‘47′ and other howlers from the pen of George Will

Aug 22, 2010 11:21 am | Howard Kyle

Weiss: Praise the lord, George Will is in Jerusalem opining for the Washington Post in the most reactionary manner possible about the Jews’ ancient claim to the land based on a ring found near the western wall and other hokum. Max Blumenthal has a great response to Will that includes the statement: “To understand the sheer insanity of Netanyahu’s magical ring story, consider how I would be received if my grandfather, Hymie Blumenthal, changed his name to Hymie Quetzalcoatl, then I asserted a historical mandate to rule over Mexico because Quetzalcoatl was a deity of the inhabitants of the ancient Toltec city of Teotihuacan. I would have a hard time being taken as seriously as David Koresh or the Unabomber.”

Meantime, Howard Kyle, a longtime student of the issue, sent us a letter he has sent to George Will. Here it is:

The following is a response to your August 19 column, Skip the lecture on Israel’s ‘risks for peace’.

I agree with your main point that it is “fatuous” or “obscene” to lecture Israel on taking risks for peace. Instead we should be lecturing Israel on their obligation to comply with international law in order to achieve peace.

In July 2004, the International Court of Justice in an advisory opinion ruled that both Israel’s separartion wall and its associated regime of check points, settlements, and by pass roads in the West Bank were illegal. The ICJ further stated that an occupying power cannot claim that the lawful inhabitants of the occupied territory constitute a “foreign” threat for the purposes of Article 51 of the UN Charter. The ICJ noted that Israeli settlements and the displacement of Palestinians is a violation of Article 49, paragraph 6, of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The ICJ further cited Israel’s on going, oppressive policy of land confiscations, house demolitions, creation of Jewish only enclaves, restrictions on movement and access to water, food, education, health care and employment, as being in violation of its obligations under international law and the Palestinian right to self determination.

This is what anyone seriously interested in peace should be lecturing Israel about. All else, as they say, is just commentary. However, you completely ignore this most relevant point and go on to promulgate distorted history and and a completely Israelicentric point of view.

Let me start with this careless statement.

“On Nov. 29, 1947, the United Nations recommended a partition plan. Israel accepted the recommendation. On Nov. 30, Israel was attacked.”

Israel didn’t come into existence until May 14/15,1948. It was the Jewish Agency that accepted the partition plan on behalf of the Jewish Community in Palestine. The plan was rejected by the Arab community and for good reason. The partition plan gave 57% of the land as well as 84% of the prime agricultural land to the Jews who constituted only 33% of the population and most of whom were recent immigrants. Jews comprised only 7% of the population in Palestine when the Balfour Declaration was issued in 1917.

Second, the recommended partition plan was just that – a recommendation. It did not have the force of law. That would have required a Security Council resolution. The partition plan also required certain preconditions be met. Among these were the establishment of both an Arab and a Jewish state as well an international zone to include Jerusalem for it to take effect. It was not a unilateral choice. The proposed states were required to adopt a constitution ensuring the civil and religious rights of all their citizens and to form an economic union. None of which ever happened. (Israel still has no formal constitution, generally considered a hallmark of a democratic state.)

You write sympathetically of Israeli parents, who ten years ago, during the intifada would put their school bound children “on separate buses to decrease the chance that neither would return for dinner.” Yet, you ignore the routine violence and harassment that Palestinian school children in the occupied areas experience today from ultra nationalist settlers.

Just this April, an Israeli settler deliberately drove his vehicle into a group of Palestinian school children as they walked to school in At-Tuwani. The children from this and the neighboring villages require a military escort to and from school because of repeated attacks by Israeli settlers from Ma’on settlement and Havat Ma’on outpost. You might find it enlightening to read The Closed Road to Education: Palestinian Students suffer under violent settlement expansion by a group called Christian Peacemakers Team (For your convenience http://www.cpt.org/about/mission)

You get in a dig about the late Yasser Arafat whom you describe as a “terrorist and Nobel Peace Prize winner.” Was it your intention to create the impression that this irony is unique to the Palestinians? You must be aware that former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978. During the British Mandate era, Begin was head of the Irgun, which the British government declared a terrorist organization. Begin was responsible for the King David Hotel bombing in 1946 which killed more than 90 people and the massacre of 240 men, women and children on April 9, 1948 at Dier Yassin. Perhaps you buy into the discredited notion that he, unlike Arafat, was a “freedom fighter.”

You place responsibility for the intifada solely on Arafat, who you say “launched” it, even though a US fact-finding U.S. committee led by Senator George J. Mitchell reviewed such allegations and found “no basis on which to conclude that there was a deliberate plan by the PA to initiate a campaign of violence.” However, Mitchell did note one cause:

Palestinians are genuinely angry at the continued growth of settlements and at their daily experiences of humiliation and disruption as a result of Israel’s presence in the Palestinian territories. Palestinians see settlers and settlements in their midst not only as violating the spirit of the Oslo process, but also as application of force in the form of Israel’s overwhelming military superiority.

You resurrect the old canard of Ehud Barak’s so called “generous offer.” You write that during the July 2000 Camp David meeting, then Prime Minister Barak “offered to cede control of all of Gaza and more than 90 percent of the West Bank, with small swaps of land to accommodate the growth of Jerusalem suburbs just across the 1949 armistice line” and by rejecting Israeli generosity those silly Palestinians missed an opportunity to have a state.

Let’s look at that so called generous offer in more detail. According to an analysis by Seth Ackerman:

The annexations and security arrangements would divide the West Bank into three disconnected cantons. In exchange for taking fertile West Bank lands that happen to contain most of the region’s scarce water aquifers, Israel offered to give up a piece of its own territory in the Negev Desert–about one-tenth the size of the land it would annex–including a former toxic waste dump.

Palestinians living in their new “independent state” would be forced to cross Israeli territory every time they traveled or shipped goods from one section of the West Bank to another, and Israel could close those routes at will. Israel would also retain a network of so-called “bypass roads” that would crisscross the Palestinian state.

Israel was also to have kept “security control” for an indefinite period of time over the Jordan Valley. Palestine would not have free access to its own international borders with Jordan and Egypt–putting Palestinian trade, and therefore its economy, at the mercy of the Israeli military.

The Palestinians would have permanently locked in place many of the worst aspects of the very occupation they were trying to bring to an end.

But don’t just take his word for it. Here’s what Shlomo Ben-Ami, Israel’s Foreign Minister and key negotiator at Camp David had to say about the generous offer in a 2006 radio interview: “Camp David was not the missed opportunity for the Palestinians, and if I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David, as well.”

You write: “The creation of Israel did not involve the destruction of a Palestinian state, there having been no such state since the Romans arrived.” Yes, but Palestine was a defined territory when under Ottoman rule, and more importantly, was recognized as such by both the League of Nations and the UN. An indigenous population had been living there more than there for more than 1,000 years.

Under the League of Nations, Palestine was classified as a Class A Mandate. As such it was considered advanced enough politically and economically that a provisional independence could be granted, “subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance.” Upon termination of a mandate sovereignty was to be automatically vested in the people of that territory. Palestine was the only Class A Mandate under the League that was not granted independent statehood.

You write: “In the 62 years since this homeland was founded on one-sixth of 1 percent of the land of what is carelessly and inaccurately called “the Arab world,” Israelis have never known an hour of real peace.” Yes and was that not to be expected? No one forced Israel to declare itself into existence when and where it did. It knew the neighborhood and the risks. It knew that none of the Arab nations that would be its neighbors voted in support of partition nor would the partition resolution have passed in the General Assembly were it not for extensive United States lobbying.

By early 1948 it was widely accepted that the partition plan would not work. That is why the UN started to back away from it and began work on a U.S. proposed UN Trusteeship Plan for Palestine. Unfortunately, President Truman, yielding to Zionist pressure, killed this effort when he blindsided his own delegation at the UN by recognizing the new state of Israel 11 minutes after it declared its existence.

The Trusteeship Plan was intended to provide for a peaceful transition from the British Mandate into a new governmental entity in Palestine capable of serving and protecting all of its citizens – Jew, Christian and Moslem. It would have prevented the misery and suffering caused by the forced displacement of 750,000 Palestinian refugees by Israel In its War for Independence that is the root cause of the problems there today.

US Secretary of State George Marshall and Defense Secretary James Forrestal both opposed Truman’s rapid recognition of the Jewish state. Their opposition was based in part on the regional instability that would inevitably result from establishing a colony of 800,000 recently arrived European Jewish immigrants in the midst of 22 million Muslims sympathetic to the Palestinians.

You mention the 1936 Peel Commission which originally proposed a partition plan for Palestine that was shot down by both Arabs and Zionists. It would have been more appropriate to reference the 1946 Joint Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine whose report has more relevance to the current situation. Among the Committee’s key recommendations:

In order to dispose, once and for all, of the exclusive claims of Jews and Arabs to Palestine, we regard it as essential that a clear statement of the following principles should be made: That Jew shall not dominate Arab and Arab shall not dominate Jew in Palestine. That Palestine shall be neither a Jewish state nor an Arab state…We, therefore, emphatically declare that Palestine is a Holy Land, sacred-to Christian, to Jew and to Moslem alike; and because it is a Holy Land, Palestine is not, and can never become, a land which any race or religion can justly claim as its very own.

Truman rejected all of the Committee’s recommendations except one calling for a temporary increased Jewish immigration to Palestine.

Perhaps this “homeland” that, as you say, has “never known an hour of real peace” would have had a different fate if it had given the UN Trusteeship Plan a chance to achieve a peaceful resolution instead of undermining it.

If there is ever to be a resolution to the Palestinian Israeli issue, it will only be achieved by an open minded, thorough and honest understanding of the issues involved. A true peace, one that is just, sustainable and most importantly, grounded in international law, cannot be built upon myths and half truths. Your column does not help to achieve that type of peace. In fact, it does the opposite.

source

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