ramallah

0

I remember a boxing promoter paying one of his fighters after a long, hard fight. He paid him only half of what they’d agreed upon. The fighter said “why are you doing this?” The promoter replied “because I can”.

I’m guessing that this is exactly the same reason why Israeli authorities are blocking Nour Joudah from returning to her school in Ramallah. They’re doing it because they can!

One suspects that Mr Obama is too busy ‘vowing his undying support’ for Israel  (see this articleto take notice of the plight of one young Palestinian American. 

One can only hope.  The full text of Nour Joudah’s letter to Obama is below.

Father Dave

Nour Joudah with some of her class in Ramallah

source: http://mondoweiss.net/2013/03/american-palestine-policies.html

American teacher denied entry to Palestine calls on Obama to address Israel’s Jim Crow policies

For the second time in two months, Israeli authorities have prevented Nour Joudah, a Palestinian-American teacher, 25, from returning to her job at Ramallah Friends School in Palestine. After spending the Christmas holiday in Jordan, Nour was denied entry by Israeli authorities who demanded to know the name of every Palestinian she had associated with during her earlier service. The heartrending case has gotten scarce attention from US politicians and media. Joudah sent this letter to the president yesterday. Her friends shared it with us.

March 18, 2013

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I write to you as a young Palestinian-American woman who was denied entry by Israeli officials twice in the last two months. My only wrongdoing was trying to return to my job at a USAID-supported school in the West Bank city of Ramallah. As you visit Israel and occupied Palestine this week, you should know that countless American citizens have been shut out.

I have been a teacher at Ramallah Friends School, an American-owned Quaker school, since August 2012. After earning a master’s degree from Georgetown University last year, I decided to step back from collegiate academia, and instead contribute by teaching high school youth before completing my Ph.D. However, after spending the Christmas holiday in Jordan, Israeli authorities denied me entry despite having a valid one-year multiple-entry Israeli visa. Shocked, I was sent back to Jordan, separated from my belongings in Ramallah and 90 energetic students who suddenly had no teacher for the second semester.

Determined to return, I hired an Israeli lawyer and contacted my representatives in Congress. They put me in touch with the Israeli Embassy in Washington, which advised me to try to enter Israel again. Taking their advice, I bought a ticket and landed at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv on February 25. I was confident because the embassy was advising me and I was carrying a supportive letter from a member of Congress. But I guess I was naïve. I was questioned for eight hours, held in a detention center overnight and deported to Jordan on the first flight out of Israel the next morning. This is the type of treatment law-abiding American citizens often receive at the Israeli border. Unfortunately, my experience is not unique. The State Department warns that Americans of Arab or Muslim descent may experience “significant difficulties” entering Israel or the West Bank. The Arab American Institute has documented hundreds of these cases, including Americans being asked humiliating questions, detained for hours, denied entry or strip-searched. Israeli authorities even mistreated an African-American U.S. Congresswoman before they realized who she was.

I was raised in Tennessee, and grew up with stories of a Jim Crow past. The parallels of discrimination are ever-present in this type of treatment. Mr. President, what is your administration doing to stop this discrimination against U.S. citizens? I have received essentially no help from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. When you meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu this week, I urge you to ask him why an ally and the largest recipient of U.S. aid treats American citizens this way. When you visit Ramallah, you’ll be just a few blocks away from my students, to whom I cannot return. Instead of another closed-door meeting, I urge you to consider addressing them, many of whom are dual citizens, and their interrupted right to an education.

Sincerely,

Nour Joudah

1

‘Palestinians for Dignity’ have a point! President Obama’s two terms in office have thus far given the Palestinian people absolutely nothing to celebrate!

While the proposed trip to the West Bank might be interpreted as an indication that the American President takes the Palestinian people seriously, the US did indeed vote against statehood for Palestine at the UN last year and have repeatedly declared that they are the Occupier’s staunchest ally!

If Obama does enter Palestine accompanied by an Israeli security team he will not be coming as a friend but as a symbol of the Empire that powers the Occupation!

Father Dave

Obama in Cairo in 2009

The days of promise: Obama in Cairo in 2009

source: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=305821

Palestinian activists: Obama non grata in Palestine

By KHALED ABU TOAMEH

Group called “Palestinian For Dignity” plan demonstrations in protest of Obama’s planned visit to the West Bank.

Palestinian activists said over the weekend that they would hold demonstrations in protest against US President Barack Obama’s planned visit to the West Bank later this month.

A group called “Palestinian For Dignity” called for “huge demonstrations” against Obama and US policies “supportive of the occupation.”

The group said that Obama was “persona non grata in Palestine” because of US military, financial and diplomatic aid for Israel.

“We call upon our people to demonstrate against receiving he who considers himself Israel’s No. 1 ally,” the group said in a statement. “We also call for demonstrations against the idea of returning to the negotiations [with Israel.”

The group said that Obama’s planned visit to Ramallah “comes at a time when our prisoners are on hunger strike and weeks after the death of prisoner Arafat Jaradat in interrogation cells.”

The group said that it was naive to think that US policy toward Israel has changed during Obama’s term.

It also reminded Palestinians that the US had voted against the PA request for upgrading the Palestinians’ status to nonmember observer at the UN in November last year.

In a related development, Hamas and Islamic Jihad called on Palestinians to prevent Obama from visiting the Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem.

The two groups said they were opposed to Obama’s visits, especially if he is accompanied by Israeli security officials.99

0

It is remarkable how often internationals lament ‘if only the Palestinians would embrace non-violent methods to bring about change!’ The truth is that Palestinians have been involved in non-violent protests and ‘Ghandian’ techniques such as hunger-striking since the First Intifada. The response of the IDF then, as today, was to respond with violence.

Father Dave

pic courtesy of the Palestinian Solidarity Project

pic courtesy of the Palestinian Solidarity Project

source: www.worldbulletin.net…

Israeli forces teargas Palestinian hunger strike protesters

Israeli forces clashed with protestors outside Ofer detention center near Ramallah on Tuesday at a demonstration in support of Palestinian prisoners.

World Bulletin / News Desk

Palestinians in Israeli jails were on Tuesday refusing food in solidarity with four fellow inmates who have been on long-term hunger strike, officials said.

According to the Ramallah-based Prisoners’ Club, 800 prisoners in three prisons were taking part in the one-day strike, among them members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).

The one-day strike was the latest show of solidarity with four detainees who are on long-term hunger strike and whose state of health has sparked mass protests across the West Bank as well as statements of concern from rights groups and Western governments.

The four, Samer Issawi, 33, Tareq Qaadan, 40, Jafar Ezzedine, 41, and Ayman Sharawna, 36, have been refusing food for between two and seven months.

An Israeli court in Jerusalem was on Tuesday to hold a hearing on Issawi’s case, his lawyer said.

Prisoner rights group Addameer says Qaadan and Ezzedine were arrested on November 22 and handed a three-month administrative detention order, meaning they can be held without charge.

Both began refusing food on November 28 in protest and their detention orders are due to expire or be renewed on Friday.

Issawi, 33, and Sharawna, 36, were long-term prisoners who were released by Israel under a prisoner swap deal in October 2011, but both were rearrested last year.

Israel has ordered that they serve out the remainder of their original sentences, prompting Sharawna to start refusing food on July 1 followed by Issawi who stopped eating on August 1.

Statistics published by Israeli rights group B’Tselem show by the end of 2012, 4,500 Palestinians were being held in Israeli jails.

Tear gas at protesters

Israeli forces clashed with protestors outside Ofer detention center near Ramallah on Tuesday at a demonstration in support of Palestinian prisoners.

The rally in solidarity with hunger-strikers marched towards the Israeli prison from Birzeit, Beitunia and Ramallah.

Israeli forces fired tear gas at protesters and youths responded by throwing stones at military forces.

At least 18 people were lightly injured, witnesses told Ma’an news agency, and journalists at the scene said Israeli forces deliberately targeted them with smoke bombs and sound grenades.

0

This is a significant report, and a good reminder that things are never black and white when it comes to governments. Rather, they tend to be black and grey.

Father Dave

source: www.hrw.org…

Israel/Palestine: New Abuses, No Justice

Palestinian Access to the ICC Could Open Door for Justice to Victims

(Ramallah) – Israel engaged in discriminatory practices and other rights violations against Palestinians during 2012, while Palestinian authorities committed abuses against their own population, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2013.

Both Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups committed serious violations of the laws of war during eight days of fighting in November. Neither side made meaningful progress in providing justice for abuses committed during the 2008-2009 conflict, which could be addressed by giving the International Criminal Court (ICC) jurisdiction over the situation in the West Bank and Gaza.

“Israeli and Palestinian authorities have committed serious rights abuses, and their allies and supporters have failed to press hard enough for change,” said Tom Porteous, deputy program director at Human Rights Watch. “In the coming year, leaders in the region and beyond should work much harder to end the cycle of impunity and abuse, not least by supporting, instead of trying to block, Palestinian access to the International Criminal Court.”

In its 665-page report, Human Rights Watch assessed progress on human rights during the past year in more than 90 countries, including an analysis of the aftermath of the Arab uprisings. The willingness of new governments to respect rights will determine whether the Arab uprisings give birth to genuine democracy or simply spawn authoritarianism in new clothes, Human Rights Watch said.

Israel engaged in discriminatory practices in the occupied West Bank, Human Rights Watch said. During 2012, Israeli security forces unlawfully demolished hundreds of Palestinian homes and buildings in areas under sole Israeli control. They denied West Bank Palestinian communities access to natural resources and basic utilities, displacing nearly 900 people, according to the United Nations. Meanwhile, Israel’s provision of preferential services and planning – such as the approval of thousands of new settlement housing units and the retroactive “authorization” of settlement outposts – encouraged and facilitated civilian settlement in occupied territory in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Israeli forces also suppressed nonviolent Palestinian protests and used excessive force against demonstrators, arbitrarily banned the travel of human rights defenders, and unlawfully limited the ability of Palestinian farmers to access their lands. In December, Israeli forces raided the offices of several civil society groups in Ramallah. Israel’s military justice system, from which settlers are exempt, subjected Palestinians, including human rights defenders, to prolonged arbitrary detention, coercive interrogations, and unfair trials. In the majority of cases, Israeli authorities failed to indict anyone for attacks apparently carried out by Israeli settlers that harmed Palestinians or damaged their property.

The Palestinian Authority’s security services were responsible for serious rights violations in the West Bank during 2012, Human Rights Watch said. They carried out arbitrary arrests, harassed journalists and bloggers, and beat and assaulted peaceful demonstrators. In more than 150 cases documented by the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights, they allegedly tortured or mistreated detainees. Despite strong evidence of torture in some cases, no security officials were convicted.

In Gaza, Hamas authorities carried out six judicial executions in 2012, some after unfair trials. Hamas authorities have not prosecuted anyone for seven extrajudicial executions committed in November, after the killers were able to take the victims from jails. Security forces conducted arbitrary arrests, frequently denied detainees access to their lawyers, and tortured detainees with impunity. The authorities permitted some local human rights organizations to operate, but repeatedly suppressed free association and peaceful assembly.

“Palestinians suffer not only from harmful Israeli policies, but also from serious abuses at the hands of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas,” Porteous said. “Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and Gaza should publicly acknowledge violations by their respective security services, and take concrete steps in 2013 toward ending impunity.”

read the rest of this article here: www.hrw.org…