father dave


The Western media continues to portray Palestinians as bomb-carrying militants, and yet this is the essence of Palestinian resistance – marches and hunger-strikes. Certainly Israel’s so-called ‘security fence’ functions to keep the protesters out of sight of the Israeli public.

Father Dave

source: rt.com…

3,000 Palestinian prisoners go on hunger strike to aid Prisoners Day protest

Thousands of Palestinian prisoners have declared a hunger strike to support Prisoners Day, an annual event dedicated to 4,713 prisoners being held in Israeli jails. Fierce rallies demanding their release have reportedly been met with tear gas.

Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza attended marches and rallies on Wednesday, urging the international community to intervene and for pressure to be put on Israel in order to release some of the Palestinian prisoners.

Nearly 600 relatives of prisoners gathered for a sit-in in the rain at Arafat Square in central Ramallah after which some of them marched towards the nearby military prison at Ofer.

As activists reached the Ofer prison perimeter they tore down 50 meters of the prison fence, mounting a Palestinian flag on prison grounds.

After around four minutes of being at the fence, Israeli soldiers showed up. They fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and sound bombs at the protesters,” al-Akhbar newspaper quoted spokesman of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, Abdallah Abu Rahmeh as saying.

It is necessary to pressure Israel to release the Palestinian prisoners and hunger strikers,” he added.

In Gaza, hundreds of people marched from central Gaza City to the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, AFP reported.

Another rally was being held in the northern city of Nablus.

Events to mark Prisoners Day began on Tuesday in Gaza City where youngsters released thousands of balloons into the air, each bearing the name of a prisoner.

Primarily Palestinian activists are calling for the release of those on the hunger strike that has been lasting for more than 250 days. Already dubbed one of the longest strikes in history, it stirred mass outrage and weeks of street protests.

The fates of at least five of the prisoners, including Samer Issawi, are now central to the protesters.

Samer Issawi, a 32-year-old from an Arab suburb of Jerusalem, is said to be in a critical condition with his low heart rate meaning he could die at any time.

As Israel seeks to end the Palestinian prisoner’s hunger strike, Issawi was offered to stop his fast in exchange for commuting his decades-long sentence to one year behind bars, Reuters reported Wednesday citing a Palestinian official.

We don’t want to see this man commit suicide,” an Israeli official was quoted as saying. “There are elements on the Palestinian side who are eager to exploit a tragedy.

Earlier an Israeli official said they were ready to deport Palestinian Essawi to an EU or UN country, but allege the prisoner has refused.

Issawi was initially convicted of opening fire on an Israeli bus in 2002. He was released in 2011 along with over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for an Israeli soldier held hostage by the Hamas Islamist group in Gaza.

But last July, he got re-arrested for what Israel called a violation of the terms of his release by crossing from his native East Jerusalem to the West Bank. Now he might face his original term behind bars and stay in jail until 2029. The prisoner has been struggling to regain his freedom by July this year.

Palestinian officials have called on Israel to send Issawi to Ramallah to receive a year of medical treatment after which Israel would allow him to return to neighboring Jerusalem. However, Jerusalem rejected the offer.

Rights group B’Tselem puts the number of Palestinians held by Israel at 4, 713 with most of them Palestinian men from the West Bank and Gaza convicted of participating in terror attacks. According to the group, 169 of them are held under administrative detention, without formally being charged.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society says more than 215 children and 14 women are in jail.



This is indeed a landmark decision, even if it was only “a low-level proceeding at an employment tribunal”.

The separation of Jewish identity from political support for the state of Israel is at the heart of the confusion between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. As has been said, only two types of persons insist that all Jews are the same – Nazis and Zionists.  All Jews are not the same. They do not all share the same political perspectives. They do not all support the actions of the state of Israel. Indeed, an ever-increasing number of Jews around the world are becoming vocally opposed to the actions of the state that presumes to speak in their name!

Father Dave

source: www.haaretz.com…

British Jewry in turmoil after tribunal blasts pro-Israel activist for bringing harassment case

By Anshel Pfeffer

Ruling in case brought by mathematics lecturer was meant to be culmination of 11 years of pro-Israel activism, but ruling that ‘attachment to Israel… is not intrinsically a part of Jewishness’ has caused shock waves in the Jewish community.

LONDON − It was only one private citizen suing Britain’s largest academic union, but it seemed as if all the country’s Jewish establishment was standing behind him in court. It was only a low-level proceeding at an employment tribunal, not a high court adjudicating on matters of state, but the judgment seemed to be trying to say something profound about what it means to be Jewish − that love for the State of Israel is not an intrinsic trait among all Jews in Britain, or anywhere else for that matter.

Delivered two weeks ago on the eve of Passover, the ruling in the case of one Ronnie Fraser against the University and College Union soured the holiday mood for a number of influential British Jews, and it has been slowly causing shock waves in the community’s upper echelons.

The case was to have been the culmination of 11 years of pro-Israel activism by Fraser, a mathematics lecturer who had been fighting against what he saw as a virulently anti-Israel tide, with a distinct tinge of anti-Semitism, rising in the union to which he belongs.

Alongside him was Anthony Julius, one of the most prominent Jewish lawyers in Britain and a tireless opponent of anti-Semitism. Supporting the two were a cast of witnesses including Jewish and sympathetic non-Jewish activists, academics and politicians.

The lawsuit was backed both financially and in terms of considerable research resources by organizations linked to the central British Jewry leadership forums, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council.

The case against UCU was complex, including 10 separate complaints, but the gist was that the officers of the union representing more than 120,000 staff members at Britain’s universities and colleges had allegedly exhibited “institutional anti-Semitism” and caused its Jewish members to feel harassed in a way considered illegal according to Britain’s anti-racism legislation.

They had done so, the complainants claimed, through their relentless campaign over the years calling for a boycott of Israel in general and of Israeli academic institutions and trade unions in particular.

UCU has long been identified as one of the main bastions of anti-Israeli activism in the British mainstream. Both as a trade union and as an organization representing academics, it is a hub for supporters of boycotts targeting Israeli universities as well as Israel’s business and social sectors.

The case assembled by Fraser and Julius was impressive. It challenged, among other things, the way supporters of Israel were treated at union conferences, the way anti-Israel and anti-Semitic remarks on the UCU members’ private Internet forum were moderated, the union’s rejection of the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia’s working definition of anti-Semitism (which includes disproportionate criticism of Israel), and an invitation extended to a known anti-Jewish trade unionist from South Africa to speak at a union conference.

UCU denied any anti-Semitism within its ranks, and responded that its officers had not conducted themselves in any way that could be construed as harassment of Jewish members.

But beyond the factual disputes in the case, the fundamental basis of the Fraser’s accusations was that Jews possess a strong feeling of affinity toward Israel that is an intrinsic part of their Jewish identity. Therefore, he claimed, when an organization to which they belong constantly attacks Israel in a manner they deem unfair, it constitutes a direct attack on their identity.

Among the long list of witnesses Fraser called were two non-Jewish members of parliament who testified about the manner in which UCU had rejected the EU definition of anti-Semitism, which they had championed.

The defendants also had their own Jewish supporters. Fifty Jewish UCU members signed an open letter praising their union and denying that there was any sort of institutional anti-Semitism within its ranks. Julius responded that it was simply a standard anti-Semitic ploy of dividing Jews into good-Jew/bad-Jew categories.

But the well-built and detailed case was shattered by the tribunal’s ruling. The panel, headed by Judge A.M. Snelson, accepted UCU’s version of all the events in question, and found that most of the claims were no longer valid in any case, due to a change in the laws.

Beyond that, it fundamentally disagreed with the central claim underpinning the complaints. The tribunal wrote in its judgment that “a belief in the Zionist project or an attachment to Israel or any similar sentiment cannot amount to a protected characteristic. It is not intrinsically a part of Jewishness.”

And while many Jews would agree with that ruling, the tribunal did not stop there. At the end of its 45-page ruling, it launched into an extraordinarily hostile invective against the very nature of the case brought before it. Though the panel was generally sympathetic to Fraser himself, it stated that as an activist “he must accept his fair share of minor injuries. … A political activist accepts the risk of being offended or hurt on occasions.”

With regard to his lawyer, Julius, the ruling scathingly referred to the case’s “magnificent prose” and its “gargantuan scale.” And it blasted the two members of parliament, whom it described as “glib,” as well as the chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, Jeremy Newmark, who took the stand as a witness.

In fact, Newmark’s testimony about his attempt to enter a UCU conference was “rejected as untrue.” His claim that he was being stereotyped as a “pushy Jew” was called “preposterous.” And his characterization of the UCU as “no longer a fit arena for free speech” was found by the tribunal to be “not only extraordinarily arrogant but also disturbing.”

UCU, meanwhile, received only very mild admonishments from the tribunal for inviting a known anti-Semite to a conference, and for referring a case in which a pro-Israel union member complained about online censorship to a pro-Palestinian activist. The tribunal otherwise found the union had acted in an honorable manner.

The claimants, on the other hand, were criticized for having filed the suit at all, which the tribunal described as an “impermissible attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means.” Underlying the case, it said, was “worrying disregard for pluralism, tolerance and freedom of expression.”

A more damning indictment of Fraser and his supporters’ motives could not have been written, and UCU was quick to celebrate its total exoneration.

General secretary Sally Hunt said in a statement that she was “delighted that the tribunal has made such a clear and overwhelming judgment in UCU’s favor” and that it “upholds our and others’ right to freedom of expression.”

She made sure to add that the union will “remain opposed to discrimination of any kind, including anti-Semitism.”

Within the Jewish community meanwhile, as Passover ended and the implications of the ruling sunk in, the finger-pointing began.

In Friday’s Jewish Chronicle, prominent Jewish lawyers lined up to say it should have been clear from the start that the case wasn’t legally strong enough to have been brought, and that the ruling should have been foreseen.

“To be honest, we weren’t extremely confident,” said one executive in a central Jewish organization, “and we would have preferred to go to court with a different case. But when Fraser and Julius decided they were going to do it, we had no choice but to give them all the support. It would have been a scandal had the Jewish community not supported them.”

Julius declined to comment.

A spokesman for Fair Play, a body set up by the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council to fight anti-Israel boycotts, said that “When Ronnie and his legal team decided to bring their case against UCU, we felt that it deserved whatever support we were able to provide. Years of campaigning inside UCU had convinced us and many union members that the union was incapable of fairly tackling complaints of anti-Semitism by itself.”

Regarding the judge’s accusations against Newmark, the Jewish Leadership Council said that his “evidence was backed up by a leading non-Jewish trade unionist who witnessed the incident.”

And so it was left to Fraser, who had championed the case for so long, to respond to his critics. He called them “armchair critics [who have] no idea what it’s like to be out there,” and added, “They were silent when I was fighting and I don’t have to justify myself to them.”

Fraser said he will probably not appeal the judgment to a higher court, so as not to risk making it a legal precedent. But he called upon the leadership of British Jewry to establish “a definition of anti-Semitism that includes belief in Zionism and an attachment to Israel which should amount to a protected right of Jews. It’s what we have been praying for for 2,000 years.”


Is this Mahmoud Abbas’ attempt to rescue his credibility after years of submissive acquiescence to his Israeli and US overlords?  However we understand it, Abbas’ demand – the the Israeli Prime Minister provide an outline of his vision for a two-state solution – was entirely reasonable, and Netanyahu’s refusal to comply exposed his government’s peace talk as entirely disingenuous.

Father Dave

Mahmoud Abbas

Mahmoud Abbas

source: en.trend.az/regions/met/palestine/2136463.html…

Palestinian president slams Israel for not presenting negotiations’ vision

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday slammed Israel for refusing to present its vision regarding the borders of the future Palestinian state.

Abbas made his protest during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in the West Bank city of Ramallah, a source told Xinhua.

“This doesn’t help prepare for new peace negotiations between the two sides,” Abbas said, adding that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “seems to be blocking the peace process and destroying the two-state solution through settlements.”

Abbas stressed that the negotiations should resume.

The source said Kerry’s efforts faced the first obstacle when Netanyahu refused to show his government vision for the process of the talks and halt settlement constructions in East Jerusalem.

Earlier in the day, a Palestinian official said the Palestinian leadership halted plans to join any UN organization to give time for Kerry’s mission.

“Kerry asked for two months appointed time to move forward the peace process before we go to the UN organizations, and we have agreed on this,” said Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riad Al- Maliki.

“If Kerry fails in this, we will not abide by our commitments and will start moving toward the international organizations and specialized agencies” for membership and to sign international treaties, Al-Maliki told Voice of Palestine radio.


This is a tragic situation, and we can appreciate the frustration all round. The people of Gaza are frustrated because they are desperately poor. The managers of the UN relief work are frustrated because they fear for the safety of their staff when the frustration of their clients boils over into violence.  The authorities in Gaza are frustrated because they know their people badly need the assistance that the UN relief agency gives them.

Evidently what is required here for everybody concerned is a concrete political solution. Even so, this doesn’t make the short-term welfare needs any less serious.

Father Dave

Protest in the Gaza Strip

Protest in the Gaza Strip (photo ICAI)

source: www.voanews.com…

Palestinian Tensions Simmer Ahead of Kerry Visit

GAZA — Islamist group Hamas on Friday urged a United Nations agency to resume its operations in the Gaza Strip, accusing the world body of over-reacting by shutting down after its headquarters was stormed by demonstrators.

The main U.N. humanitarian agency for Palestinians closed all its offices in Gaza on Thursday after protesters stormed its headquarters to demand it reverse a decision to cut an annual $40 handout to the poorest Gazans.

The dispute comes against a broader backdrop of growing Palestinian unrest in both Gaza and the occupied West Bank, with no end in sight to the decades-old Middle East conflict.

Secretary of State John Kerry’s Trip

  • April 6:  Istanbul, Turkey for talks with senior officials
  • April 7-9:  Jerusalem and Ramallah for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders
  • April 10-11: London for the G8 Foreign Ministers Meeting
  • April 12: Seoul, South Korea
  • April 13: Beijing, China
  • April 14: Tokyo, Japan

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is due to return to Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy on Sunday, with meetings scheduled in both Ramallah and Jerusalem from April 7-9, just two weeks after President Barack Obama’s first visit to the region.

Like Obama before him, Kerry is not expected to bring any new initiative to revive peace talks, which broke down in 2010.

The past week saw violent clashes between youths and Israeli security forces in the West Bank, which raised fears that a new uprising, or Intifada, might be brewing. There were reports of sporadic confrontations on Friday, but not on the same scale as earlier in the week.

In another sign of the tensions, rockets were fired out of Gaza for three days running this week, while Israeli warplanes carried out their first strike on the territory since November.

The storming of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) compound in Gaza on Thursday was part of a dispute that has been brewing for weeks and was not tied to diplomatic events, but it laid bare the frustration brewing amongst Palestinians.


UNRWA provides assistance in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank to Palestinian refugees and their descendants — now put at some five million spread across myriad camps.

The agency has said it will not resume work in Gaza, including food distribution to 800,000 Palestinians — nearly half the enclave’s population — unless it receives assurances from Hamas over the safety of its staff.

“People are demonstrating because they’re frustrated and the situation in Gaza just seems to be getting worse,” said Robert Turner, the director of UNRWA operations in Gaza.

“We respect everyone’s right to peaceful protest, but what happened yesterday was unacceptable,” he told Reuters, saying initial reports suggested up to 200 demonstrators, some carrying iron rods, had forced their way into the UNRWA compound.

Hamas called the closure of UNRWA offices “unjustified.”

“When UNRWA’s administration called Palestinian security they arrived, restored calm and ended the state of chaos,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. “Therefore, we urge UNRWA to rethink its decision.”

Turner said UNRWA faced a $68 million shortfall in 2013 and took the decision to cut the $40 annual handout to 106,000 Gaza refugees to save some $5.5 million. To soften the blow, the agency was offering job schemes to help the poorest families.

News that food centers had been shut down shocked Gaza.

“If UNRWA closes down the food distribution centers, it would lead to a disaster,” said Fathi Al-Seidi, 30, who lives in a refugee camp. He added that locals were dependent on the UNRWA aid and cash from Western-backed authorities in the West Bank.

“Without this, life will be equal to zero,” he said.

U.N. officials said UNRWA appeared to be bearing the brunt of disillusionment in Gaza that followed a short-lived spurt of optimism last November when a ceasefire deal between Hamas and Israel raised hopes of an easing of restrictions on the enclave.

Israel, supported by Egypt, imposes a partial trade blockade on Gaza, saying it is needed to prevent arms reaching Hamas, which does not recognize Israel and has not renounced violence.

Since the November truce, which ended eight days of fighting, the restrictions have barely changed while Egypt has launched a crackdown on illegal smuggling tunnels into Gaza.

Underscoring Hamas’s difficulties, the group’s leader Khaled Meshaal said on Thursday it faced a “financial problem,” suggesting Arab allies were not providing sufficient aid.


This brilliant and brief documentary well reflects the irrepressible strength and creativity of the Palestinian people.

Regardless of what politicians say, people will dream and express their hopes, frustrations and fears one way or another. Graffiti art has always been a voice that cries out from the base of the community. In the West Bank that base runs broad and deep.

Father Dave

If you can’t view this video, click here