West Bank

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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

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‘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

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This recently-published video is a compilation of images of Bethlehem – the ‘little town’ that was  the birthplace of Jesus.

Today as then, Bethlehem is a city under occupation. Jesus was only born there because the occupying power (Rome) ordered Mary and Joseph to travel there in order to complete a census.  The current occupying power (Israel) is not so intent on increasing the population of Bethlehem but seems more interested in sealing it off from the rest of the world!

Father Dave

If you can’t view the video, click here

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Uri Avnery raises the question that’s on everybody’s lips.  Will the current turmoil in the West Bank continue to escalate? Is Netanyahu trying to foment that escalation? Is it all timed to strategically coincide with the Obama visit? These questions are difficult to answer, but, as Avnery points out, on one point we can be clear: while the Palestinian resistance is currently non-violent it cannot remain so for ever.

The First Intifada began non-violently. This is often forgotten. Ongoing imprisonments and aggression from the IDF eventually provoked a violent reaction from the Palestinians and hence the whole event is remembered as a virtual war. At the moment the Palestinian resistance is again largely made up of non-violent protests, hunger-strikes, and the world-wide BDS campaign. But continued provocations will eventually take their toll, after which the spin doctors will depict the uprising as an unprovoked explosion of Arab aggression!

Will Obama be able to leverage any positive influence in this process? It is doubtful, but while the influence of the US recedes into the background, the partisan support from the surrounding Arab nations and from the rest of the world is on the increase!

Father Dave

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery

The Third Intifada?

by Uri Avnery

IS THIS the third intifada? This question was raised this week by a number of Israeli security experts. And not only by them – their Palestinian colleagues were almost as perplexed.

All over the West Bank, Palestinian youth threw stones at Israeli soldiers. All the 3500 Palestinians in Israeli prisons took part in a three-day hunger strike.

The immediate reason was the death of a young Palestinian man during interrogation by the Shin Bet. The autopsy showed no reason for the death. It was no heart attack, as first (and automatically) claimed by Israeli officials and their stooges, the so-called “military correspondents”. So was it torture, as practically all Palestinians believe?

Then there were the four prisoners on a hunger strike which has already lasted 150 days (mitigated by infusions). Since almost every Palestinian family has now – or had in the past – at least one member in prison, this generates much excitement.

So is this IT?

THE UNCERTAINTY of security officials stems from the fact that both the first and the second intifada broke out in an unexpected way. Both the Israeli and the Palestinian leaderships were taken by surprise.

The Israeli surprise was especially – well,  surprising. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip were, and still are, full of Israeli informers. Decades of occupation have allowed the Security Service to recruit thousands of them by bribery or blackmail. So how did they fail to know?

The Palestinian leadership, then in Tunis, was equally in the dark. It took Yasser Arafat several days to realize what was happening and laud the “Stone Children”.

The reason for the surprise was that both intifadas were completely spontaneous. No one planned them. Because of this, no informer could warn his handlers.

The trigger for the first one was a road accident. In December 1987, an Israeli driver killed several Palestinian workers near Gaza. All hell broke loose. The second was triggered by a deliberate Israeli provocation after the failure of the 2000 Camp David conference.

The Israeli army was quite unprepared for the First Intifada. Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin famously exclaimed “Break their bones!” which some commanders took literally and carried out faithfully. A lot of arms and legs were broken with rifle butts.

Though the second intifada was also unexpected, this time the army was prepared for any event. Troops were trained in advance. No bones were broken this time. Instead, sharpshooters were placed near unit commanding officers. When a non-violent demonstration approached, the officer pointed out the ringleader, and the sharpshooter killed him. Very soon the non-violent uprising turned into a very violent one.

I don’t know what the army plans for the third intifada. But one can be certain that even if it starts as a non-violent mass protest, it will not stay so for long.

TWO WEEKS ago, the Israeli Channel 10 showed a documentary about Ariel Sharon’s manipulation of the Second Intifada.

It started when Prime Minister Ehud Barak allowed Opposition Chief Sharon to visit the Temple Mount, accompanied by hundreds of policemen. Since Sharon was a pork-eating atheist, there was no religious motive for the visit. It was a provocation, pure and simple.

When Sharon approached the Muslim shrines, he was greeted with stones. The police killed the stone-throwers with live ammunition. And lo and behold, the Second Intifada was on the way.

Arafat in far-away Tunis had nothing to do with it. But once the intifada had started, he embraced it. The local Fatah cadres took command.

Soon after, Sharon came to power. He did everything possible to stoke the fires. In the documentary, his closest assistants were interviewed at length and disclosed that Sharon did this quite deliberately.

His aim was to cause a general uprising, in order to give him a legitimate reason for re-conquering the West Bank, after parts of it were turned over to the Palestinian authority in the Oslo agreements. And indeed, a large number of suicide attacks and other outrages provided the necessary national and international legitimization for Operation Defensive Shield, in which Israeli troops re-entered all West Bank towns and spread death and destruction. In particular, the Palestinian Authority’s offices were systematically ransacked, including the Education and Social Services ministries. Arafat was surrounded and isolated in the Ramallah Mukata’ah (“Compound”), and kept a virtual prisoners for years, till his murder.

In the film, the advisors readily admitted that Sharon did not even contemplate a political initiative to end the intifada – his sole aim was to vanquish the Palestinian resistance by brute force.  During this intifada 4944 Palestinians were killed, as against 1011 Israelis. (In the preceding intifada, 1593 Palestinians and 84 Israelis found their death.)

Israelis believe that Sharon’s brutal methods were a great success. The Second Intifada sputtered out.

WILL THERE be a Third Intifada? If so, when? Has it already begun or were the recent events only a kind of general rehearsal?

No one knows, least of all our security forces. There is no reliable information from the agents. Again, everything is spontaneous.

One thing is certain: Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat’s heir, is very much afraid of it. He waited for a few days, and then, once he was sure that this was not a general uprising, he ordered his American-trained police forces to intervene and put an end to the demonstrations.

More than that, he publicly condemned the outbreaks and accused Binyamin Netanyahu of deliberately fomenting them.

One of the causes for this suspicion was that on Friday the Israeli police did not prevent young Palestinians from reaching the Temple Mount (“Haram al-Sharif”), as they do frequently when there is the slightest suspicion of coming unrest.

I put the question to a circle of friends: Assuming for a moment that Abbas is right, what might have been Netanyahu’s motive?

One answered: He is afraid that Barak Obama will, in his upcoming visit to Jerusalem, demand the resumption of the “peace process”. Netanyahu will tell him that, in view of the new intifada, that is impossible.

Another volunteered: Netanyahu will tell the President that Abbas has lost his authority and therefore is not a viable partner.

Yet another: Netanyahu will tell the Israeli public that we have an emergency at hand, so we need to set up a Government of National Unity at once. All Zionist parties must be pushed by their voters to join.

And so forth.

BE THAT as it may, the pertinent question is whether a spontaneous outbreak is in the offing.

Frankly, I don’t know. I doubt if anyone does.

The absence of any genuine peace initiative makes another intifada probable at some point. How long can the harsh occupation continue without a serious challenge?

On the other hand, it does not appear that the great mass of the Palestinian people is mentally prepared for a fight. In the occupied territories, a new bourgeoisie has come to life, which has a lot to lose. Under the auspices of the US, the Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, has succeeded in stimulating some sort of economy, in which quite a number flourish.

The prospect of another round of violence does not appeal to these people, nor does it attract poor people, who are already fully occupied with their daily survival. To get these people to rise up, you need an extremely provocative event. This can happen tomorrow morning, or within weeks or months, or not at all.

Abbas accuses Hamas of fomenting unrest in the West Bank, which is governed by Fatah, while Hamas itself, at the same time, is keeping the cease-fire in its own dominion, the Gaza Strip. Actually, both regimes, each in its own part of Palestine, are interested in quiet while accusing the other of collaborating with the occupation.

(A century and a half ago, Karl Marx denounced the efforts of his socialist adversary, Ferdinand Lassalle, to set up workers’ cooperatives. Marx asserted that once the workers had something to lose, they would not rise up anymore. If you want a revolution, Lenin is supposed to have said, “The worse things are, the better”.)

THE MORE people on both sides talk about the Third Intifada, the less it is likely to happen. As the Germans used to say, Revolutions foretold are not going to happen.

But if there is no end to the occupation in sight, the Third Intifada will break out one day, quite suddenly, when nobody has been talking about it, when everybody on both sides was thinking about other things. 

read more wisdom from Uri Avnery on the Gush Shalom website

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This story from China’s ‘Global Times‘ seems to encapsulate everything that is wrong in Israel/Palestine!

Non-violent protests are erupting across the West Bank for all the most understandable of reasons: Israel continues its settlement expansion, the arrests of Palestinians without charge or trial continue unabated, and most recently a young father of two – Arafat Jaradat- seems to have been tortured to death in an Israeli prison! But the Israeli government seems to see none of this, or at least takes none of it into account when it points the finger at the Palestinian authority for failing to quell the unrest!

What will it take for the Netanyahu government to see that the real problem here is not the hunger-strikes or the protest marches but the acts of violence, robbery and intimidation that inspire them? A strong push from the US might awaken Mr Netanyahu, but none is likely to come.

Father Dave

Protesters crowd the streets after the death of Arafat Jaradat

Protesters crowd the streets of Seir after the death of Arafat Jaradat (pic – Palestinian Solidarity Project)

source: www.globaltimes.cn/content/763831.shtml…

Israel demands Palestine reduce tensions

Israel said on Sunday it sent “an unequivocal demand” to Palestinian leaders to quell unrest, as thousands of detainees staged hunger strikes in Israeli prisons and their supporters clashed with security forces in the occupied West Bank.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the same time ordered the transfer of January arrears of tax revenues that Israel collects on the behalf of the Palestinians but has been withholding, the government said in a statement.”Israel passed an unequivocal demand to the Palestinian Authority to calm down the territory,” the statement said.”In order that the non-payment of taxes that Israel collects for the Palestinians should not serve as an excuse for the Palestinian Authority not to calm the territory, Netanyahu instructed the money for January to be transferred,” it added.

A senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gave no indication the Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank, would issue any call for calm, and blamed Israel for the spike in unrest.

Protests in the West Bank have been mounting, both in support of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, 11 of whom are on open-ended hunger strike, and against settlement expansion.

An official said almost all Palestinians in Israeli prisons were on a one-day hunger strike Sunday in protest at the sudden death of an inmate due to what authorities said appeared to have been cardiac arrest.

“It’s 4,500, nearly everyone in fact,” Israel Prisons Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman told AFP.

Arafat Jaradat, a 30-year-old father of two, from Sair near Hebron in the southern West Bank, died on Saturday in an Israeli jail from what prison authorities said appeared to have been cardiac arrest.

Protesters in his village and around Hebron city on Sunday stoned Israeli security forces who responded with tear gas and stun grenades, Palestinian witnesses said. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

“In Hebron there are 100 Palestinians hurling rocks and rolling burning tyres at security forces,” an Israeli army spokeswoman told AFP, adding that a smaller group clashed with Israeli forces in the Halhul area, on the city’s outskirts.

She said the army responded with “riot disposal means,” without elaborating.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip marched in solidarity.

Israeli media link the unrest and Israel’s concerns about possible escalation to next month’s visit by US President Barack Obama to the Jewish state and to the Palestinians.

“Officials in Jerusalem will begin to look for all kinds of ways to appease the Palestinians and to cool tempers on the ground,” the Yediot Aharonot newspaper said on Sunday.