Malaysia will always support Palestinian cause, says Najib

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia remains steadfast in its support for the Palestinian cause, said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

The Prime Minister said that despite a recent statement by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim supporting Israel’s national security concerns, the Palestinian government was aware that Malaysia’s stance on Palesti-nian issues had always been consistent.

“As far as Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) are concerned, they know this is not our stance. They know our position. They know the Malaysian Government is very supportive of the Palestinian cause.

“We have always been very strong (in supporting the cause) in the past and will continue to be strong and consistent in our position,” Najib told reporters here yesterday.

The Palestinian government was reported to have been shocked and disappointed over Anwar’s statement on Israel and this was conveyed by its prime minister Ismail Haniyeh to al-Quds Malaysia Foundation management board chairman Nasharudin Mat Isa during the latter’s recent visit to Kuwait.

Anwar had reportedly said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that he supported “all efforts to protect the security of the state of Israel”.

Nasharudin had said Hamas officials expressed the same sentiment and had asked him why Anwar made the statement, which contravened a 1988 fatwa issued by 66 muftis that any action that gave recognition to Israel’s existence opposed Islam.

Najib said the disappointment expressed by the Palestinian prime minister over the issue “spoke for itself”, adding that even PAS had given Anwar the ultimatum to retract his statement in support of Israel or take legal action against WSJ if the report was wrong.

(thestar.com.my / 14.02.2012)

News from Syria 14.02.2012

#BreakingNews: The General Assembly of the United Nations will vote on a resolution for #Syria tomorrow: AFP

#Syria is under Assad shelling n #Hama #Homs #Idlib#DamascusSuburb #Daraa #DierEzzor !!!

AFP: The UN General Assembly will vote on Thursday regarding Syria. #UNGA #Syria

Les forces syriennes lancent une offensive contre la ville de #Hamaselon Reuters #Syrie

Reuters – Bashar al-Assad’s forces launched an offensive on the city of #Hama #Syria

#MaaratMasren #Idlib #Syria – 14th feb 2012 anti government demonstration took place ths evening in the Maarat..

Today’s defection round-up is massive, so it will be in more than one part

I remember when one or two soldiers would defect at a time, mainly young, inexperienced soldiers. Now officers defect every day

There are so many defections these days that I’m tired of watching the videos. I used to wait eagerly for defections months ago

The defection of a high ranking officer Brigadier General the director of the airforce technical school

A Brigadier General has just defected and joined the FSA

#Idlib Kafr Roma Intense gunfire from all checkpoints that are spread throughout the town targetting houses and passers-by

The regime cannot trust all of their army any more and are worried of heavy losses, so they just shell towns from a distance. Cowards

So many group defections in the past few weeks. General Sheikh said that the army will break down in February, let’s hope he’s right

#DeirEzzor #Syria – 14th feb 2012 anti government demonstration kicked off this evening in Deir Ezzo

Syria is on fire today. Major clashes, shelling, deaths and massive defections all over the country

#Zaradna #Idlib #Syria – 14th feb 2012 anti government rally this evening in the Zaradna area of Idlib

The pick-up truck carrying humanitarian aid to Baba Amr that was targeted by Assad forces last night

#Idlib Jabal Zawiya Mohammed Ma’ary (from Maraayan) was killed as a result of random gunfire by sec forces near Ihsam

#Armanaz #Idlib #Syria – 14th feb 2012 anti government demonstration took place this afternoon in the Armanaz

 

Officials press for Adnan release

PA Minister of Prisoners Affairs Issa Qaraqe with Prisoners Society head Qadura Fares.
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — PA Minister of prisoners affairs Issa Qaraqe said Tuesday that an Israeli court decision to reject the appeal of hunger-striking prisoner Khader Adnan amounted to premeditated murder.

Qaraqe was speaking at a press conference on Adnan’s situation after his appeal against a four month administrative detention was thrown out by an Israeli military court on Monday. The Islamic Jihad leader has been on hunger strike for 59 days.

The court decision was a deliberate political measure by a racist judge, he said, adding that the ruling was “as if Israeli says ‘let him die.'”

Adnan views the ruling as illegal and illegitimate and will continue his strike, Qaraqe added.

Prisoners society chief Qadura Fares at the same event called on the international community to take a stand against the murder of Adnan.

A statement by UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process Robert Serry calling on Israel to preserve Adnan’s life did not go far enough, because the rulings against the prisoner are based in racism, Fares said.

Wednesday’s planned national hunger strike to support Adnan will be an exceptional demonstration of Palestinians’ value of human life, he said.

Meanwhile PLO official Saeb Erekat said he pressed the international community to protest Adnan’s continued administrative detention, after meeting with Serry, US Consul General Daniel Rubenstein, and the Consul General of France in Jerusalem, Frédéric Desagneaux on Tuesday, official PA news agency Wafa reported.

(www.maannews.net / 14.02.2012)

Kuwait’s new cabinet changes oil, defense ministers, but is devoid of women

The new Kuwaiti cabinet comes after a snap parliamentary election in which the Islamist-led opposition won a solid majority. (Reuters)

The new Kuwaiti cabinet comes after a snap parliamentary election in which the Islamist-led opposition won a solid majority.

Kuwait’s emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, formed a new cabinet with 10 new faces, including the oil and defense ministers, state television reported on Tuesday.

But the 16-member cabinet does not include any women.

The former head of Kuwait’s state petroleum corporation (KPC), Hani Hussein, was appointed oil minister, while former military chief of staff Sheikh Sabah was given the post of defense minister.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmed al-Hamoud al-Sabah held onto his portfolio, as did Finance Minister Mustapha al-Shamali.

The new cabinet comes after a snap parliamentary election in which the Islamist-led opposition won a solid majority and secured a controlling majority in the 50-member parliament.

Some two-thirds of the national assembly seats were won by candidates who opposed the former government, according to analysts who examined the official results.

The opposition won 34 seats in the 50-member parliament, with Sunni Islamists, including Salafists, becoming the most formidable bloc in the house, with 23 members.

The announcement of a new cabinet came less than a day after failure in talks between outgoing Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak al-Sabah and the opposition to include more newly elected MPs.

Earlier this month, the Kuwaiti emir had asked Sheikh Jaber to form a new government following a general election won by the Islamist-led opposition.

Sheikh Jaber, a senior member of the ruling al-Sabah family, had previously submitted the resignation of his cabinet, as required by the constitution after a general election.

He was appointed in December after the previous cabinet resigned in response to a political deadlock that has stymied reform and held up vital development projects in the major oil exporter.

Opposition candidates had been tipped to expand their influence in parliament, riding on a wave of popular frustration with corruption and political paralysis.

That anger came to a head in November, when protesters stormed the chamber demanding the resignation of former Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammed al-Sabah, whom they accused of graft.

Women failed to win a single seat after making history in the 2009 election by winning four seats for the first time.

(english.alarabiya.net / 14.02.2012)

Hamas: Re-arrest of released prisoners breaks deal

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A Hamas spokesman said Tuesday that Israel has violated the terms of a prisoner exchange deal by recently re-arresting two men released under the agreement.

Sami Abu Zuhri called on Egypt, which mediated the October deal to release over 1,000 Palestinians from Israeli jail, to hold Israel responsible for breaking guarantees not to re-arrest those released.

Zuhri said the detention of Ahmed Abu Daoud from Hebron on Monday evening, and Ayman Sharawna from nearby town Dura on Jan. 30, were a serious breach of the deal, and warned of “consequences” for Israel.

(www.maannews.net / 14.02.2012)

Obama proposes $1.3 billion military aid for Egypt in 2013 despite ongoing NGOs row

Obama proposed a fund of $770 million to boost political and other reforms in Arab countries undergoing pro-democracy revolutions. (Reuters)

Obama proposed a fund of $770 million to boost political and other reforms in Arab countries undergoing pro-democracy revolutions. (Reuters)
U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday proposed $1.3 billion in military aid for Egypt in fiscal 2013, asking Congress to maintain the annual aid level of recent years despite the ongoing crisis triggered by an Egyptian probe of American democracy activists.

Obama made the proposal in his budget plan for fiscal 2013 which begins on Oct. 1, the State Department said. The amounts must be approved by Congress, where some lawmakers have called for cutting off all aid to Egypt if it does not drop accusations against the American activists and lift the travel ban on them, according to Reuters.

Nineteen Americans were among 43 foreign and local activists banned from travel and referred to criminal court on accusations of working for organizations operating in Egypt without proper licenses and which had received foreign funds illegally.

Washington asked Egypt to lift the travel ban on the U.S. citizens, some of whom have taken refuge at the U.S. embassy. Both the White House and Congress have warned that the crackdown could threaten Cairo’s $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the warning for 2012 remained in place, noting that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to certify first whether Egypt is making progress toward democracy.

But she added: “Let’s hope we’re still not in this situation in 2013.”
“We do have concerns that if we can’t resolve this situation it could have implications for the whole relationship with Egypt, including what we would like to do together and how we would like to support them.”

Cairo prosecutors backed by police in December stormed the offices of the U.S.-funded International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House as part of a probe into the NGO’s alleged illegal foreign funding.

They were among 17 offices of local and international NGOs raided.

The crackdown was part of a wider campaign by Egypt’s military rulers to silence dissent after months of criticism of its human rights record, analysts said.

Obama, meanwhile, on Monday proposed a fund of $770 million to boost political and other reforms in Arab countries undergoing pro-democracy revolutions, according to AFP.

The new fund is part of $51.6 billion set aside for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development in 2013, which accounts for just one percent of the entire government’s budget, the State Department said.

The department highlighted “$770 million for a new Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund to respond strategically to historic changes taking place across the region.”

“The fund will incentivize long-term economic, political and trade reforms — key pillars of stability — by supporting governments that demonstrate a commitment to undergo meaningful change and empower their people,” it said.

It did not identify countries which will receive the funds, but the United States last year gave tens of millions of dollars to Egypt and Tunisia after their leaders were overthrown in pro-democracy revolutions.

(english.alarabiya.net / 14.02.2012)

Irene Gendzier: Why the US recognised Israel

By Irene Gendzier, Israeli Occupation Archive – 9 Nov 2011

Irene GendzierIrene Gendzier

To judge by official pronouncements in Washington and Tel Aviv in the summer of 2011, nothing is more important than forestalling the appearance of the Palestinian Authority before the UN General Assembly lest it succeed in obtaining support for its unilateral declaration of Palestinian independence.

Underlying this position on the part of the US and Israel is the unstated comparison between Israel, the allegedly law-abiding state that is a member of the ‘international community,’ and the political outlaw making illegitimate demands of that same community.

What such images fail to convey is revealed in an examination of US policy in Palestine in 1948. At that time, Washington regarded the prospect of an Israeli declaration of independence as a threat to its interests in the region.

In 1948  the State Department,  the Defense Department and the CIA regarded such an outcome with open concern. Opposing this view was President Truman’s special legal counsel, Clark Clifford and his small entourage of supporters,  who strongly endorsed US recognition of Israel’s independence as in line with US interests. It was Clifford, moreover, who shepherded the proposal for independence through the White House insisting that the Jewish state already existed and that it remained only to recognize it before the Soviet Union did.

Several points are worth making in this connection. The first is a reminder of conditions in Palestine in the winter of 1948 that led US officials and the US President to come close to abandoning support for the UN Partition Resolution.

The second is the US assessment of the status of Arab regimes on the eve of Britain’s departure from Palestine, and the continuing misgivings expressed by US officials as to risks that Jewish statehood entailed for US interests. The third point is that, when those misgivings  proved to be false, US oil and defense interests concluded that the new State’s military capacity and political orientation could protect those interests, US policy changed accordingly.

In the winter of 1948, US officials and the President  were close to abandoning support for the UN Partition Resolution, UN Res. 181, in the face of unending conflict and the realization that force would be necessary to implement it. In its place, Washington was moved to support a cease-fire, a truce and temporary trusteeship, delaying but not entirely abandoning the objective of partition, as it insisted under pressure.

Developments on the ground in Palestine, however, could not be ignored. On May 3,  eleven days before Britain’s departure from Palestine, the US Consul in Jerusalem reported on the collapse of Palestinian government with the warning that “unless strong Arab reinforcements arrive, we expect Jews overrun most of city upon withdrawal British force.” [1]  The same officer reported in April on the steady advances of Jewish forces in “aggressive and irresponsible operations such as Deir Yassin massacre and Jaffa,”  as well as what occurred in Haifa in the same period. The US Consul reported that British and others agreed in early May 1948 that  “Jews will be able sweep all before them unless regular Arab armies come to rescue. With Haifa as example of Haganah military occupation, possible their operations will restore order.” [2]  What kind of order?  Haifa was known to the British, Iraqis and Americans chiefly through its oil refinery  that processed Iraqi oil through IPC pipelines. Its takeover was unacceptable to the Iraqis and led to the destruction of the existing network of relations between Palestinian and Jewish workers.

Shortly thereafter, Robert McClintock, then with the US delegation at the UN, speculated that the Security Council would soon be confronted by the question as to “whether Jewish armed attack on Arab communities in Palestine is legitimate or whether it constitutes such a threat to international peace and security as to call for coercive measures by the Security Council.” [3] It was again McClintock who observed that if Arab armies entered Palestine leading Jewish forces to claim “that their state is the object of armed aggression and will use every means to obscure the fact that it is their own armed aggression against the Arabs inside Palestine which is the cause of Arab counter-attack,” the US would be obliged to intervene.[4]

Finally, some ten days before Britain’s departure,  US Secretary of State, George C Marshall provided select diplomatic offices with his assessment of the condition of Arab regimes. He had few illusions as to which would survive.

Whole govt structure Iraq is endangered by political and economic disorders and Iraq Govt can not at this  moment afford to send more than handful of troops it has already dispatched. Egypt has suffered recently from strikes and disorders. Its army has insufficient equipment because of its refusal of Brit aid, and what it has is needed for police duty at home. Syria has neither arms nor army worthy of name and has not been able to organize one since French left three years ago. Lebanon has no real army while Saudi Arabia has small army which is barely sufficient to keep tribes in order. Jealousies between Saudi Arabia and Syrians on one hand and Hashemite govts of Transjordan and Iraq, prevent Arabs from making even best of existing forces. [5]

Marshall’s remarks about Egypt were corrected by the US Ambassador who pointed out that Egypt’s ill equipped army was the result of British refusal to provide the Egyptians with viable equipment. The Transjordan military, as Marshall pointed out, was similarly dependent on British officers. Despite such conditions, Marshall warned that “this does not mean however that over long period Jewish State can survive as self-sufficient entity in face of hostility of Arab world.” And as he emphatically concluded, “If Jews follow counsel of their extremists who favor contemptuous policy toward Arabs, any Jewish State to be set up will be able survive only with continuous assistance from abroad.”

Furthermore, before and especially after Israel’s declaration of independence, US officials denounced the treatment of Palestinian refugees and called for their repatriation,  an issue that was endorsed by the US President who had earlier taken the initiative in calling on the British, then still in Palestine, to permit the admission of 100,000 Jewish refugees into Palestine.

Recognizing the influence of the Zionist movement in the US, although not always aware of the nature of President Truman’s private communications with high level Jewish Agency officials, including Israel’s first President, Chaim Weizmann, the US foreign policy elite  warned of the  possible risks to US interests in the Middle East, referring to US oil and defense interests as developments in 1948 unfolded.

They proved to be wrong. The reason behind their error exposes the roots of what was to become the ‘special relationship’ between Washington and Tel Aviv.Within a year of Israel’s establishment, the position of the State and Defense Departments changed from criticism regarding Israel’s  feared damage to US interests in the region, including oil and defense, to an appreciation of its potential in supporting those very interests.

US officials conceded that while Arab public opinion and the declarations of its leaders were openly critical of Washington’s pro-Israeli stance, US commercial interests did not suffer.  In mid-March 1948 US officials at the UN had been informed that the Saudi position was that the “Palestine conflict was civil one and it was most important from Arab states’ own interest not do anything which would give SC [Security Council] occasion use force in Palestine.” [6]  US officials, including the Secretary of State, were highly appreciative of the Saudi position.

The end result was that US oil and defense interests, both primarily in Saudi Arabia at this time, were not undermined. There had been fear, expressed by US corporate leaders, that the Saudis might decide to abrogate their oil contracts, but this did not take place, nor was there any attempt to block US Aramco, the corporate oil giant, from  extending its control over off-shore oil.

There were other related developments in the winter of 1948 as  Jewish Agency leaders in the US sought to confront US oil interests, recognizing that they constituted the prime objective of US Middle East policy at this period. In the winter of 1948 the US Director of the Oil and Gas Division of the Department of the Interior, Max Ball, reputed to be among the best informed officials on US and international oil,  met with the principal Jewish Agency representative in the US.[7] Eliahu Epstein (later Elath) was a member of the Jewish Agency Political Advisory Committee, member of the Presidium of the Zionist General Council, and Director of the US Office of the Jewish Agency. His meeting with Ball took place  when the US House of Representatives was conducting extensive hearings  on “Petroleum in Relation to National Defense, ” which underlined the centrality of US oil policy in its overall foreign policy, including the Marshall Plan.  It was against this background and with Ball’s interest in the possibility of finding oil in the Negev, that Ball encouraged Epstein to explore meeting with US oil executives including the VP of Aramco, the Director of Socony Vacuum, and the VP of Standard Oil of New Jersey. Israeli interest in US oil policy began before 1948.[8] But when Max Ball met with Epstein in the winter of 1948 and recommended meetings with major US oil interests in the Middle East, it was at a formative period of US policy making in the oil rich regions of the Arab East.

The above developments signaled a positive view of the Jewish Agency’s interest in US oil policy on the part of a major US official with direct responsibility in that sector. Further, it directly challenged the prominent view held by government officials and the corporate oil sector that supporting the Jewish state risked endangering such interests. Precisely what followed in the relations of  Israel and US oil interests in this period remains to be examined.

Suffice it to recall that the  reevaluation of the new state prompted by the events of May 1948 was necessarily based on multiple key factors. Among them were those that led the US military to conclude that Israel could be a significant asset in ‘holding’ the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East and its oil interests, which did not preclude recognizing its dependence on external support, or the necessity of resolving the Palestinian refugee problem. Such qualifications aside, the US military was prepared to concede that Israel had altered the military balance of power in the region, which justified rethinking its policy.

On March 7, 1949, a Memorandum by the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on “U.S. Strategic Interests in Israel,” affirmed the need for precisely such a reassessment.

The power balance in the Near and Middle East has been radically altered. At the time the state of Israel  was forming, numerous indications pointed to its extremely short life in the face of Arab League opposition. However, Israel has now been  recognized by the United States and the United Kingdom, is likely soon to become a member of the United Nations, and has demonstrated by force of arms its right to be considered the military power next  after Turkey in the Near and Middle East.[9]

In the light of such developments, the same source concluded that“as the result of its support to Israel, the United States might now gain strategic advantages from the new political situation.”  [10][italics added] And on the basis of the same calculations, the Air Force Chief of Staff called for a study of “US strategic objectives touching Israel,” in addition to recommending that military training and assistance be considered and that above all, Soviet influence in the new state be blocked.

The same calculations led to the implicit reevaluation of US policy on the question of Palestine which  was increasingly interpreted exclusively as a refugee problem disconnected from the fate of the Palestinian state.

 

A shortened version of this text appeared in the October 2011 edition of  Le Monde Diplomatique and its international editions, including that published in London, as well as on Znet.com.

This article is part of the ongoing research for Gendzier’s forthcoming book, Dying to Forget: the foundation of US policy in the Middle East, Oil and Palestine/Israel, 1945-1949,  to be published by Columbia University Press.

Irene Gendzier is a professor in the Department of Political Science at Boston University; she is also a member of the IOA Advisory Board.

 

Notes:

[1] May 3, 1948, The Consul General at Jerusalem (Wasson) to the Secretary of State, FRUS 1948,  V, part 2, p.889.

[2] May 3, 1948, The Consul General at Jerusalem (Wasson) to the Secretary of State, FRUS 1948, V, part 2,p.889.

[3] May 4, 1948, Draft Memorandum, FRUS 1948, V, part 2, pp.894-895.

[4] Ibid. p.895.

[5] May 13, 1948, The Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic Offices, FRUS, 1948, V, part 2, pp.983-984.

[6] March 13, 1948, The Minister in Saudi Arabia (Childs) to the Secretary of State, FRUS 1948, V, part 2, p.719.

[7] Feb. 18,1948, Memorandum for M. Shertok, No. 210, Political and Diplomatic Documents, December 1947-May 1948, State of Israel Archives, World Zionist Organization Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem 1979, p.354.

[8] Zohar Segev, “Sruggle for Cooperation and Integration: American Zionists and Arab Oil, 1940s,” Middle Eastern Studies, Sept. 2006, Vo.42; p. 821, n.5; p.829, n.7 and 8.

[9] Mar. 7, 1949, enclosure,  Memorandum by the Chief of Staff, US Air Force to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on US Strategic Interest in Israel, JCS 1684/27 p. 181.

[10] Ibid., idem.

(www.israeli-occupation.org / 14.02.2012)

Center: Settler violence peaked in 2011

A Palestinian woman gestures in front of graffiti, reading “war” in Hebrew,  sprayed on the wall of a mosque in the West Bank village of Burqa, near Ramallah on Dec. 15, 2011.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians and their property in the West Bank have tripled in the past five years, a Washington-based think tank said Tuesday.

Violence by Israelis living in Jewish-only settlements reached a peak in 2011, when the number of attacks grew by 39 percent from the previous year, according to the report by the Palestine Center.

Most settler attacks now occur in the northern West Bank governorate of Nablus, overtaking the southern Hebron district as the most concentrated center of violence, the report said.

Source: When Settlers Attack, The Palestine Center, 2012

The assaults rise during the annual olive harvest season, and predominantly target rural villages, the report noted, suggesting that “settlers are exploiting unfettered access to isolated Palestinian villages to perpetrate violence more than ever before.”

More than 90 percent of villages which have experienced multiple attacks by settlers are in areas of the West Bank under full Israeli security control, the report added.

Source: When Settlers Attack, The Palestine Center, 2012
Arson attacks have grown from six percent of settler violence in 2005 to 11 percent in 2011, it said.

“With a more than 300 percent increase in settler violence of the past five years and nearly 2.7 incidents per day in 2011, settler violence presents a daily challenge to Palestinians,” Executive Director of the Palestine Center Yousef Munayyer said.

So-called ‘price tag’ attacks, when settlers harm Palestinians and their property in response to Israeli government measures against the settlements, make up a small portion of overall violence, Munayyer argues in the report.

The report suggests that while settler violence does increase following Israeli government actions against settlements, the ‘price tag’ phenomenon cannot account for larger trends in Israeli settler violence.

“It is in fact because the Israeli state overwhelming fails to confront the settlers and provide protection for Palestinians and their property, that settlers are emboldened and perpetuate attacks,” the report says.

It calls on Israel to crack down on known centers of settler violence, and thoroughly investigate all assaults. The report authors also urge Palestinian leaders to provide training, documentation, and medical resources to villages most at risk from settler violence.

The study analyzed over 3,700 separate incidents of settler violence recorded by the inter-agency Palestinian Monitoring Group between September 2004 and December of 2011.

(www.maannews.net / 14.02.2012)

A Plea to the World from the Principal of a Palestinian School about to be Demolished

February 14, 2012 in GeneralSouth Hebron HillsMass Media,Military HarrassmentEmpowermentEducationAction Required

In November we reported with joy about the new school structure at Susiya (Susya). (see also an earlier report here).

Only a few weeks later, the Occupation regime’s fraudulently named “Civil Administration” handed down demolition orders to the school.

In a rare direct expression of an Occupied Palestinian voice in the Israeli printed press, the school’s prinicipal Muhammad A-Nawwajeh published an editorial in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper about the demolition order on his school. Unlike most of Haaretz op-eds, this article was apparently not translated to the newspaper’s English site. We provide the translation below.

———————

What Will You Tell My Students?

Muhammad Jaber Hamed A-Nawwajeh


Our elementary school at Susiya is small. It has two classrooms, in which a total of 35 pupils – girls and boys – study. The staff includes four teachers and the principal, who is also the English teacher. The school opened in late 2010. Before we established our school, local children had to walk 4 km each way, every day, to reach the nearest school. To avoid this, many had stayed with relatives during the school week, without seeing their parents, causing severe psychological problems. No doubt, it is far better for young children to live with their families and attend a school near home.

Our school has no electricity, no running water and no schoolyard. Still, students arrive each day with excitement. When they grow up, they want to be doctors, police officers, teachers. Even though the school is in an area under Israeli control, it is not the government of Israel that built it. We, the residents of Susiya, have built it ourselves, with the help of theSpanish organization ACF and the Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees.

Our elementary school, whose area is 100 square meters, is the only structure of this size around Palestinian Susiya. All students live in caves. Before the school structure was erected, we had used five tents. We live in a hilly high-altitude region with cold winters. First water leaked into the tents, then a strong storm blew them away.

Our new school might be demolished at any moment now, without any justifiable cause. The “Civil Administration” has issued a demolition order against it. Among the pretexts for the demolition order, the “Administration” cites the presence of “portable bathrooms” and a cistern that we had dug with our own hands, so that the children will have water to drink.

If the Israeli government demolishes the school, it will deny education to our children. More than half the students will stay at home and not go to school anymore. All the world’s children are entitled to education. It is a basic right enshrined in the United Nation’s Human Rights Charter. I am trying to comprehend: what would Israel accomplish by demolishing our school? What is the position of Israel’s Education Minister? What do Israeli teachers think? How will they explain to their own students the destruction of our little school at Susiya?

Mr. A-Nawwajeh is the principal of Susiya’s elementary school.

(Translated from Hebrew by Assaf Oron)

———————————————–

At the Villages Group, helping Massafar Yatta (South Hebron Hills) residents in their efforts to realize the right to education for their children has been one of our central missions over the years. Until 2010 when the Susiya school opened, we helped arrange student transportation from Susiya to Tuwani. In 2010we brought a report about a tent school in a neighboring village, where teachers tried to educate under conditions much like the ones described above by Mr. Nawwajeh. Here are a few pictures from that visit, illustrating the learning conditions which we then described as “the worst in the Middle East”.

Please do not let the Occupation force these disgraceful conditions upon the children of Susiya. Please don’t let them rob these children of their dreams, and rob teachers, volunteers, and donors of the fruit of their hard labor.

The formal authority presiding over the deceptively-named “Civil Administration”, that pretends to be “the legal authority” in the area – is Israel’s Defense Ministry. Here are a few contact details:

Israel’s defense minister, sar@mod.gov.il or pniot@mod.gov.il, fax +972 3 6976711 (they are said to hate faxes), or the ministry’s US outlet (info@goimod.com, fax 212-551-0264).

Israel’s Education Minister whom Mr. Nawwajeh mentions in his article, is quite likely deny any responsibility. Personally, I (Assaf) think that the fraudulent “Civil Administration”, and all other arms of Israel’s government, should just keep out of West Bank Palestinian civil affairs, on which they have no genuine jurisdiction – only a fraudulent one.

But Mr. Nawwajeh has a point. Israel’s Education Ministry, after all, constructs and heavily subsidizes schools in the Jewish settlements all around Susiya, and pays for teacher salaries. The minister himself, a politician named Gideon Sa’ar, is a rather vocal proponent of the ideology that all of Israel-Palestine belongs to the Jews. Well, with ownership comes responsibility. Since the government behaves in the West Bank’s “Area C” (where Susiya is located) as if it is Israel’s to keep, it should provide the same level of education infrastructure to that area’s Palestinians, as it lavishes upon the Jewish settlers.

In short, here’s a link to the Education Ministry’s main contact. The Minister’s email addresses are sar@education.gov.il, dover@education.gov.il and info@education.gov.il. Phones – 072-2-5602330/856/584, 972-3-6935523/4/5. Faxes: 972-2-5602246, 972-3-6951769. And finally, here’s an online comment form.

Feel free to let Mr. Sa’ar know what you think about this blatant discrimination, and about the criminal neglect of, and the atrocious assault upon, right to education of children in what he calls “The Land of Israel”.

And please help spread Mr. A-Nawwajeh’s words far and wide.

Thank you.

(villagesgroup.wordpress.com / 14.02.2012)

Gaza main power plant stops generating electricity

The only power plant in the Gaza Strip has stopped generating electricity due to lack of fuel, causing serious difficulties for the Palestinian residents of the area, Press TV reports.

The power facility stopped operating on Tuesday.

Palestinian officials blame the Israeli blockade of Gaza for the issue. They have called on Egypt to provide the Palestinian territory with the required fuel to restart the power plant.

Israel remains in full control of the airspace, territorial waters and border crossings of Gaza.

The Tel Aviv regime also denies about 1.5 million people in Gaza their basic rights, including the freedom of movement and their rights to appropriate living conditions, work, health and education.

Power outage is not the only issue that the Palestinians in Gaza need to put up with.

In December 2008-January 2009, Israel imposed a war against the Gaza Strip. More than 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the conflict.

(occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com / 14.02.2012)