Apartheid in Israël

By Engelbert Luitsz                 ©             (http://www.alexandrina.nl/?p=2661)

When in 1977, the United Nations passed the resolution inaugurating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, it was asserting the recognition that injustice and gross human rights violations were being perpetrated in Palestine. In the same period, the UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians; without the resolution of conflicts in East Timor, the Sudan and other parts of the world.
Nelson Mandela, 4 december 1997

apartheid

Over de exacte betekenis van termen als etnische zuivering, Apartheid, holocaust of genocide wordt graag gedebatteerd door mensen die daarvan beschuldigd worden. Zijn er wel exacte criteria aan te geven en is het niet zo dat de ene vorm van Apartheid de andere niet is? Bij racisme ligt dat wat duidelijker. In Israël zijn er steeds meer mensen die zich racist noemen en daar nog trots op zijn ook. Er is niets mis mee het eigen volk te beschermen tegen invloeden van buitenaf. Van de joodse toeristen die in 2009 met hun picknickmand vanaf een heuveltop de slachting onder de Palestijnen in de Gazastrook kwamen bekijken, tot de huidige religieuze en extreem-rechtse bewegingen in Israël die het naast de Palestijnen ook op Afrikaanse asielzoekers hebben gemunt.

Een korte terugblik op de oorsprong van het zionisme leert ons dat dit geen nieuw verschijnsel is.

Het Ottomaanse Rijk

Theodor Herzl, de grondlegger en ideoloog van het zionisme, heeft zelf al duidelijk gemaakt hoe de zionisten tegen minderheden aankeken. Al in 1896 ging hij op bezoek bij het hof van Abdulhamid II, sultan van Turkije en hoofd van het Ottomaanse Rijk. Hij kreeg de sultan niet te spreken, maar wel een aantal hooggeplaatste hofleden. Pas enkele jaren later, in 1901, lukte het hem de sultan zelf te spreken. Herzl had twee voorstellen die de sultan niet zou kunnen weigeren. Ten eerste zouden de zionisten de buitenlandse schuld van het Ottomaanse Rijk op zich kunnen nemen, een duidelijk teken dat Herzl inmiddels de steun had verworven van puissant rijke bankiers, en ten tweede zou de nieuwe staat kunnen helpen bij het in toom houden van opstandige minderheden in het enorme rijk.

Ook de Armeniërs maakten deel uit van het Ottomaanse Rijk. Al voor het eind van de 19e eeuw waren er tienduizenden Armeniërs vermoord. Ironisch genoeg waren de Armeniërs, net als de zionisten, onder invloed gekomen van sterk nationalistische stromingen in Europa en eisten meer zelfstandigheid. Om die reden werden ze al lang voor de “officiële” genocide van 1915 wreed vervolgd. Herzl wist dit natuurlijk en zijn belofte aan de sultan is een van de eerste onomstreden tekenen van het lot dat de Palestijnen te wachten zou staan. In plaats van empathie met een vervolgd volk liet Herzl hier zien dat het hem alleen om zijn eigen volk ging. De rest kon stikken.

Zuid-Afrika

Herzl was een bewonderaar van mensen als Cecil Rhodes en Jan Smuts. Smuts was zelfs een goede vriend van Chaim Weizmann, die veel later de eerste president van Israël zou worden. Rassenscheiding en blanke suprematie waren zoals bekend de belangrijkste kenmerken van deze imperialisten. En uiteraard was een belangrijk argument voor hun optreden dat de autochtone bevolking zo ver achterliep op cultureel en intellectueel niveau, dat strikte scheiding noodzakelijk was. Dit kolonialistische argument hoor je tot op de dag van vandaag gebruikt worden door de verdedigers van Israël: de Palestijnen zouden ondanks de bezetting beter af zijn dan Arabieren in de omliggende landen. Maar, net als bij het verdeelplan van 1947, wordt aan de Palestijnen zelf niets gevraagd. Het lijkt eerder een algemene regel te zijn dat onderdrukte volken zich niet willen schikken naar de grillen van de overheerser, zelfs al krijgen ze een auto cadeau.

Israël heeft altijd warme relaties onderhouden met het Apartheidsregime van Zuid-Afrika, behoudens enkele dipjes vanwege druk vanuit de internationale gemeenschap. In 1973 – het jaar waarin Steve Biko door het regime werd verbannen – kwam het tot een officieel verdrag tussen Israël en Zuid-Afrika. Er was zelfs samenwerking op het gebied van nucleaire wapens.

Elementen als het niet kunnen trouwen met iemand van een “minderwaardig” ras, een verbod op aankoop van land door diezelfde groep, of de talloze discriminerende wetten en regels,  is iets wat in het huidige Israël nog steeds bestaat (en zelfs erger wordt). Voor alle duidelijkheid: de Apartheid in Zuid-Afrika kwam in 1994 tot een einde. Toen Nelson Mandela in 1990 uit de gevangenis kwam, kreeg hij volgens eigen zeggen uitnodigingen van bijna elk land ter wereld, behalve Israël.

“Negervriendjes”

David Sheen en Max Blumenthal maakten onlangs een video die een zeer somber beeld schetst van het huidige Israël. Het is openlijk racisme zoals je dat bij de ergste verdedigers van blanke suprematie in Zuid-Afrika tegenkwam. In Israël zijn het niet alleen groepen idioten, zoals je die in elk land hebt, nee, ministers, de minister-president zelf en hooggeplaatste religieuze leiders doen er aan mee. Wij hebben de invloed van kerkelijke leiders op ons doen en laten gelukkig grotendeels achter ons gelaten, maar in Israël is, door een blunder van Ben-Goerion indertijd, religieus fanatisme een politieke factor van belang geworden.

In de video zijn we hoe een enkeling die zich durft te uit te spreken op straat, een zeer moedige vrouw, op uitermate racistische wijze wordt uitgescholden. Zelfs premier Netanyahu spreekt niet van Afrikaanse asielzoekers, doch van infiltranten. Het is te veel gevraagd voor die onnozele Timmermans om zich hier druk over te maken, nu hij zijn handen vol heeft aan Poetin, maar je blijft toch hopen op een minister – ooit – die eindelijk eens durft te zeggen waar het op staat.

Video met dank aan The Electronic Intifada.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=dPxv4Aff3IA

 

THE DILEMMA OF SYRIA’S ALAWITES

Hersh-Syria-Alawites.jpg

One evening in September, I sat in a small café in East Beirut with Farid, a Syrian Alawite who had recently arrived from the war-ravaged northern city of Homs. It was a rare opportunity: Lebanon is awash with refugees from the civil war, but the Alawites—a small Shiite sect that counts Syria’s President, Bashar Assad, among its members—tend to keep a low profile. Since the start of the uprising, two and a half years ago, Syria’s two million Alawites have borne the brunt of the opposition’s fury, for obvious reasons: though they make up only about ten per cent of the country’s population, Alawites disproportionally occupy positions of power in government and business, and they constitute the core of the regime’s support. They are also among its most brutal enforcers: some of the worst atrocities of the conflict have been committed by theshabiha, freewheeling armed gangs of largely Alawite thugs.

As the international community attempts to steer Syria toward a political resolution to its deadly crisis, much of the focus has fallen on what it will take to sideline the extremists in the opposition and to bring the rebels to the negotiating table. But it may be equally difficult to convince the Alawites to let up their fight, given that many of them fear a negotiated end to the war would be a prelude to their extermination. What motivates the staunch Alawite support for the regime remains poorly understood, but it is typically characterized in monolithic and myopic terms: the Alawites, it is said, back the regime because they are the regime; its demise would be their own. But the Alawites’ support for Assad is much more complex—and harder to break.

Farid is thirty-four years old, with lanky arms and a long, sullen face. (I agreed to change the names of the Alawites quoted here so that they could speak candidly without endangering themselves or their families.) For two years, he strived to stay out of the conflict raging around him, which proved easier than one might expect. While the regime mercilessly bombarded rebel-held areas in major cities like Homs, reducing many of them to rubble, Alawite neighborhoods were left conspicuously untouched, their citizens urged to carry on some semblance of their normal lives. But when the rebels began to gain strength in the north, earlier this year, capturing wide swaths of territory and targeting Alawite civilians along the way, Farid watched his friends and relatives take up arms. “In my neighborhood, just about everyone is either in the Army or the National Defense Forces,” he said, referring to the semiofficial, pro-regime Alawite militias that have proliferated in the past year.

Farid is no supporter of the regime. “I don’t like Bashar Assad,” he said, as he swirled the dregs of cold coffee around in his cup. “In fact, I hate him. He is the one who put the Alawites into this situation.” But as the war crept closer, he also realized that he would be thrust into the fight no matter what he did. “If I was kidnapped by the Free Syrian Army, they would kill me for simply being an Alawite,” he said. “No one would care about my opinion.” Faced with a choice between enduring a rebel onslaught or taking up arms to defend a government he no longer supported, Farid made what seemed like the only logical move: he fled to Lebanon.

The community Farid left behind, at least as he and other young Alawites describe it, is more fearful and isolated than has been commonly understood. Though they are often portrayed as diehard Assad partisans, the Alawites I spoke to, in Lebanon and inside Syria (via Skype), described support for the regime among their friends as fairly limited and largely transactional: for one thing, many Alawites are poor, and the military provides reliable income and food. “In my opinion, ninety per cent of Alawites join the Army for economic reasons, not because they love Bashar or because they love Syria,” Saleh, a thirty-three-year-old Alawite from Homs, told me over Skype late one night, from an Internet café near his house.

It is not common to regard the Alawites as a disenfranchised minority detached from the regime, but that is increasingly how they view themselves. “The portrait of Alawites is that we have all this power, but I don’t have any power,” Saleh said. “I don’t get anything out of all this fighting.” Indeed, as the fortune of Homs’s Alawite community began to turn, Saleh suggested, the government often seemed to look the other way. “A few weeks ago, there was a huge explosion in my neighborhood,” he said. “No one from the regime came to the families to offer them help, or to ask what they needed. Because of this, we feel that we are just the front line, we are fighting just to protect the regime, because we have no choice. It’s a terrible situation.”

As the fighting dragged on, this sense of resentment only deepened, convincing many Alawites, particularly those in the more impoverished inland areas, that they were tools of the regime rather than its beneficiaries. But their bitterness about the Assad’s decision to put them at the vanguard of the war has been tempered by an even more powerful sentiment: fear. The opposition to the regime, too, is hardly monolithic, with its own share of moderates and those disaffected with the fighting altogether. At the same time, the rise of radical Islamist elements among the rebel forces has fulfilled the most anxious prophecies in the Alawite community (and, some say, the cynical plotting of the Assad regime). Retribution has arrived in the form of gangs of rebel fighters—some affiliated with jihadist groups that have been designated as terrorist organizations by the West—who have sowed carnage in Alawite regions as they conquered them. Last week, Human Rights Watch released a report documenting the murder of some two hundred civilians by rebel groups in Alawite areas, which it deemed a war crime. Farid referred specifically to a story from last year, in which a father in the town of Akrab, near Homs, was said to have murdered his own daughters and then killed himself as a group of Sunni vigilantes approached, in order to prevent them being kidnapped and raped by the mob. The story, perhaps apocryphal, has circulated widely among his friends and family, Farid said—and many of them now say they would do the same thing to their own kin should the jihadists arrive in Homs. “That’s what scares me,” he said.

“When we talk about the Alawites, the first thing we naturally think of is the regime, and that Bashar Assad is an Alawite, and so the fight must be about solidarity with the regime,” Aziz Nakkash, a Syrian researcher who recently published a paper about the Alawites for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, told me when we spoke in Beirut. “But when you look inside the community, what you see is a series of personal choices. People fight because they lost a family member, or because they need the money, or—even if they don’t like fighting or the regime—because they are afraid for their own survival. It’s all about survival—for themselves and for their family, not for the sect.” Or, as Farid put it, “They want something that will give them an assurance that they and their children will not get killed—and then they will leave Bashar. But no one can give them this. So, for now, they will not leave him.”

Late last month, I spoke by Skype with Louay, a twenty-five-year-old Alawite from Homs. An engineering student, Louay struck me as urbane and gentle, and no fan of Syria’s dictatorship. (His Skype profile picture shows him in an expensive puffy winter coat, delicately smoking a cigarette.) When protests first broke out in the Sunni neighborhood near his home, he said, he felt optimistic. “We saw Tahrir Square in Egypt. It had a great image in Syria—it had a great effect on all of us.” But he never crossed town to join in the protests. Instead, he listened to the growing strains of sectarianism in the chants, and absorbed the “collective feeling” among Alawites that they would be targeted alongside the regime.

Since then, he’s heard constantly about the terrors committed by Sunni radicals in the opposition, and he has lost friends to the war (“Am I better than they are?”). Now, he told me with a soft-spoken certainty, he expects to join the military once he finishes his studies. “I can’t believe that Alawites are fighting just to defend Bashar,” he said. “But we’ve come to a situation where we feel like we have to fight to defend our way of life.”

(Source / 18.10.2013)

Saudi declining U.N. membership was a ‘symbolic gesture,’ analysts say

Only a few hours after winning the seat, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement announcing that the kingdom will not be accepting the two-year membership at the Security Council.

Saudi Arabia’s unexpected decision to reject joining the U.N. Security Council was “a symbolic gesture” to show the kingdom’s dissatisfaction with the council’s failure to act on the Syrian conflict, analysts said.

Only a few hours after winning the seat, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement announcing that the kingdom will not be accepting the two-year membership at the Security Council, citing failures of the U.N. body in resolving regional issues such as the ongoing massacre in Syria and its inability to rid the region off Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Afshin Molavi, a research fellow at the Washington-based think tank, New America Foundation, told Al Arabiya that Saudi Arabia rejecting their newly-won seat was closely related to Saudi King Abdullah’s “personal frustration over what he views as United Nations Security Council inaction on Syria.”

“I think that they have chosen this unprecedented symbolic step of refusal,” said Molavi, adding that such a decision would not have a significant effect on its influence.

“Saudi Arabia already has the power to influence [international] events. A membership in the U.N. Security Council would not have changed that,” he added.

‘Terrible ineptitude’

Alon Ben-Meir, a professor at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, believes that the Security Council’s “terrible ineptitude” over many conflicts around the world, especially inaction on Syria, has pushed Saudi Arabia to reject the membership.

“If the Saudi Arabians take their seat, and the Security Council hasn’t been able to do anything about the Syrian crisis – and 120,000 have been killed – this would be an embarrassment for Saudis to sit at the council not being able to do anything about it [the Syrian crisis],” Ben-Meir said.

Before the Security Council electing Saudi Arabia, the kingdom appeared to be keen to be part of the new five non-permanent members.

David Ottoway, senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, told Al Arabiya that Saudi Arabia “was training a whole corps of diplomats. They were really gearing up to try and make a difference.”

Even if Saudi Arabia stayed as a member, making a difference would still be limited due to the veto power being held exclusively by the five permanent members – United States, Britain, France, Russia and China.

Iranian threat

Sara Bazoobandi, an associate fellow on the Middle East and North Africa program at London-based Chatham house, a policy research center on international affairs, said that Iran’s new softer line on foreign policy, particularly towards the West, could be a threat to Saudi Arabia’s relatively unchallenged influence in the region.

“They’re using this as a gesture to express their status,” Bazoobandi told Al Arabiya.

Bazoobandi said that the kingdom has other existing plans in place to boost its authority in the Middle East.

“Saudi Arabia is working on creating all sorts of alliances in the region. They’re still the most powerful nation in the GCC,” she added.

The decision to rebuff the seat is a big blow to the Security Council, and has also reignited an old debate on whether the United Nations as an international body is effective at all.

Ben-Meir, who described the Saudi rejection as a “slap in the face” to the council, said “if the Security Council is not able to function in an effective way, in order to fulfill its chartered obligation to promote peace and security, then what’s the point in being a member in such a club?”

Molavi said that Saudi’s snubbing of the seat reveals the extent of the Security Council’s “increasing irrelevance” on global security issues.

(Source / 18.10.2013)

Over 9.5 million Syrian citizens refugees, IDPs

 More than 9.5 million Syrian citizens between refugees and IDPs, Syrian Network for Human Rights says

Number of IDPs within Syrian territories blatantly exceeded the limits that can be controlled by relief organizations and local committees, where they increased (according to the last SNHR’s statistics issued at the beginning of November 2012) from 4 million IDPs to reach at the end of September 2013 at least 6.395 million IDPs, according to Syrian Network for Human Rights study.

Children below 18 years constitute 45% of IDPs population, that’s mean almost 208 million IDPs children, the main cause of displacement is the widespread destruction of the buildings, according to last SNHR’s statistic almost 2.9 million buildings have been destroyed including 800 thousand buildings are totally destroyed, the other main reason is fear of rape carried by security forces, army and Shabiha militia during the raids.

We have to refer that most of the displaced people need different urgent humanitarian aids, but 60% of them that’s mean 4.5 million need food aids, and that is real danger.

Number of Palestinian refugees inside Syrian territories is almost 650 thousand; 75% of them that’s mean 487 thousand are displaced inside Syrian territory.

Most of the IDPs in the past months were from Damascus countryside and Aleppo due to the expansion of the random shelling by Scud missiles, MIG, TNT.

According to SNHR’s member and as an example: occupancy ratio for residents in some neighborhoods had reached to less than 4%, the rest have fled fearing for themselves and their children from death, that became expected at any moment.

Damascus countryside topped the list, where the number of displaced people exceed 1.8 million, most of them from Daria city and East Ghouta in Doma and Harasta particularly, which is almost empty.

In Homs; Old city besieged neighborhoods and others such as: Qusor, Baba Amro and Jort Alshaiah neighborhoods are totally empty cause of mass destruction, where some buildings razed to the ground.

South Neighborhoods of the capital Damascus was the highest in displacement cause of the widespread and systematic destruction in these neighborhoods.

Distribution of IDPS in the Syrian governorate, according to the last survey conducted by SNHR is as follows:

Damascus countryside: 2 million

Aleppo: 1.6 million

Homs: 1.1 million

Dier ez-Zoor: 380 thousand

Lattakia: 325 thousand

Hama: 280 thousand

Daraa: 250 thousand

Idlib: 180 thousand

Damascus: 160 thousand

Hasaka: 120 thousand

Raqqa consider one of the most embracing governorate of IDPs, where at least 1.4 million displaced most of them from Aleppo and Idlib governorate, followed by the city of Damascus with at least 700 thousand displaced most of them from East Ghouta city ( mostly from Daria and Doma ), then Hama governorate with almost 650 thousand displaced most of them from Homs governorate as Rastan and Talbisa and Homs neighborhood that almost razed to the ground as Baba Amro and Qusor, finally Swidaa governorate with at least 300 thousand displaced most of them from Daraa governorate and few from West Ghouta of Damascus.

Displaced people suffer extremely difficult living situations and humanitarian conditions, according to dozens of interviews via Skype and phone with people displaced, many of they expressed strong indignation for the deterioration of the Arab and international attention, especially that most of them their homes almost entirely destroyed, and vast numbers of them lost their jobs and business and become dependent on others, where there are hundreds of families lost their breadwinner either killed or arrested by the Syrian Government forces, so they lost the source of livelihood, and now are likely to die not just because of shelling but even because of hunger and cold.

Warning and International Emergency Appeal:

According to the above mentioned, and under the insistence of UN to deal with the Syrian governorate, and give the money and assistances directly to it as an official hand and refusing to deal with national relief organization, so Syrian-regime loyal areas receiving nearly all of it, and not distributed to those in need, and thus human suffering blatantly continue.

Syrian Government has prevented relief organizations around the world to operate on its territory, including the International Committee of the Red Cross according to their recent statement.

Now the winter comes, with prediction of viciously cold winter as never happened in Syria and surrounding areas since almost 100 years ago ( according to many weather reports ), epically in the northern Syrian regions and Homs governorate, Syrian Network for Human Rights launches Emergency Appeal all around the world that thousands of families in Syria is threatened by disease, hunger, cold and even death, Syrian Government first, and then International committee and humanitarian organization most hold their responsibilities, where It is impossible for the local national organization to hold this great burden that need urgent and immediate assistance and on an international level.

II- Refugees

Number of refugees have rose, hundreds of thousands have fled abroad the country cause of the massive destruction, daily shelling, and rise in rape cases committed by Security forces and Shabiha ( militiamen ), it led to flee out women and children, where they constitute almost 85% of refugees, including almost 50% children, 35% women and 15% men .

The main problem facing Syrian refugee is that most of them don’t have identification documents, so the refugee can’t perform most transactions such as travel, treatment, study, or even move without it.

The statistics issued by the United Nations does not represent the real numbers of refugees, because it recognizes only those registered with the UNHCR, but the true that there are tens of thousands were not able to register at the UNHCR, so there’s a big difference between SNHR’s estimation and the United Nations estimations.

The total number of Syrian-citizen refugees according to the latest statistic conducting by SNHR is at least 3.150 million Syrian refugees:

Children: 1.6 million children below 18 years

Women: exceeded 900.000 women

Most of them are not registered as refugees and therefore are not mentioned in statistics, because many of them have been smuggled via roads and paths across the border for fear of expel, other received by their relatives or friends, but according to The international legal definition of the term refugee, they considered refugees, distributed on the following neighboring as follows:

Lebanon topped the list in refugee reception, where thousands fled to as an impact of sectarian cleansing operation in Banyas, Baiyda, and the harsh battles in the western countryside of Homs in Qusayier and neighbored.

Lebanon: 820,000 refugees; including 375.000 children, and at least 150.000 women, 27% (almost 230.000) without identification documents.

Turkey: 785.000 including 200.000 children, and at least 120.000 women, 62% (almost 487.000) without identification documents.

Jordan: 730.000 including 250.000 children, and at least 185.000 women, 36% (almost 263.000) without identification documents.

Iraq: 415.000 including 160.000 children, and at least 50.000 women, the proportion of asylum to Iraq in the recent months have risen following the clashes in north-eastern regions of Syria, where Kurdistan Iraq received tens of thousands of Syrian refugees.

Egypt: 270.000 including 120.000 children, and at least 75.000 women, the treatment of Syrian refugees has worsened after the military coup in Egypt, which resulted in the expulsion of at least 3,000 Syrian refugees arbitrarily and without regard to any rights for Syrian refugees, many of them women and children, and there are a large number of cases had been expelled without allowing her even to carry her bags.

Arab Maghreb states: Libya, Algeria, and Morocco: 40.000

EU countries: Estimated number of Syrian refugees by 750.000, just 40.000 of them got asylum.

Swedden topped the EU countries with almost 16.000 refugees, followed by Germany with almost 8.000, then Germany 7.000, and the rest other countries.

US, Canada, and South America 15.000 Syrian refugees.

 

Relief organizations can reach and help refugees in neighboring countries, but although we note serious dereliction of their human rights, particularly in Jordan and Lebanon, where Governments are unable because of poverty to meet the requirements of Syrian people refugees, where it is the responsibility and mission of Relief organizations around the world, and this is the time for immediate and sooner intervention.

Recommendations

1- Security council:

– Practice pressure on the Syrian Government to allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance across its borders.

– Support the efforts of United Nation efforts to coordinate and provide humanitarian assistance to those in need, including armed opposition- held areas.

 

2- Concerned governments and Intergovernmental organizations:

– Call on Syrian governments and armed opposition to implement the above mentioned recommendations.

– Respond more effectively to the humanitarian crisis that caused millions of Syrians to face a severe shortfall of food, shelter, fuel, health care and education, by working to increase the supply of humanitarian assistance to the affected people in Syria, both in areas controlled by the opposition or the Government, as well as the provision of assistance to internally displaced persons and refugees.

– Urged the members of the Security Council to call on Syrian government to allow humanitarian aid, and practice of public pressure on Syrian government to agree to deliver aids across the border.

– Expansion in the quantity and frequency of cross-border humanitarian aid by all hands that can carry out the aid deliverers, which are often the only source of hundreds of thousands of families

(Source / 18.10.2013)

Outside the law: Israel’s political prisoners

Infographic from Jadaliyya followed by article from IMEMC plus links to campaigns.


Ahmad Sa’adat is the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. He is not under administrative detention as a 2-person military ‘tribunal’ authorised his detention after the IDF abducted him from a prison in Jericho and transported him to Israel.

A Guide to Administrative Detention

By Visualising Palestine, Jadaliyya
October 17, 2013

In May 2012, over 2000 Palestinian prisoners and detainees went on hunger strike to challenge the conditions they face in the Israeli prison system. Not least, they called for an end to the practice of administrative detention, where Palestinians are held without charge or trial for months or even years. Despite drawing worldwide attention to the issue, administrative detention continues today.

The infographic “A Guide to Administrative Detention” takes the perspective of an administrative detainee as they face daily stresses, uncertainties and indignities. This experience ranges from simply not knowing what they are accused of, to realising that lawyers and humanitarian agencies can do little to help them.

 

(Source / 18.10.2013)

Abbas Ibrahim to Al-Manar: Lebanese Abductees in Safe Hands

 

Secretary General of the General Security Abbas Ibrahim told al-Manar that the nine Lebanese abductees in Syria were in safe hands, as he announced that they were freed.Lebanese abductees

As he requested not to be asked about timing of the abductees’ release, Ibrahim noted that they have crossed the Turkish border with Syria.

Meanwhile, caretaker interior minister Marwan Charbel confirmed the event, saying he was informed by Ibrahim that the abductees were freed and they were on their way from Syria to Turkey.

Earlier Agence France Presse quoted Carbel as saying they were on their way to Turkey.

Al-Manar correspondent in Dahiyeh reported that the abductees’ kins were jubilate at news that their relatives are to be freed.

For his part, caretaker premier Najib Mikati congratulates the freed abductees, as he hoped that they will be back home soon.

The nine abductees were among eleven pilgrims who were kidnapped in May 2012 in northern Syrian province of Aleppo as they returned by land from visiting the holy shrines in Iran. Two of them were released last August and September.

(Source / 18.10.2013)

Jerusalem’s system of checkpoints inside Palestinian neighborhoods of the holy city

A-Zeitim checkpoint in East Jerusalem, between the neighborhoods of Abu Dis and At-Tur. (Photo: Allison Deger)

A-Zeitim checkpoint in East Jerusalem, between the neighborhoods of Abu Dis and At-Tur.

I’m standing in Jerusalem, but behind a five-lane, metal turn-stop, gated, chain-linked, barbed-wire military instillation. There’s a call box with a button to alert the Israeli army when pedestrians want to pass. Even though I’m in a valley between windswept hills with cinder block houses and black water tanks on their roofs, I feel more like I’m in the parlor of Satre’s No Exit; sometimes the guards answer the buzz of the button, and sometimes the gates roll open, otherwise the checkpoint is locked. And I never know if I can pass through the gate, unless I try to push the metal bars forward. I wonder am I waiting for the checkpoint to open, or is it already open and I just haven’t tried to leave? Am I trapped, or do I imagine that I am trapped?

Welcome to a-Zeitim crossing, one of the newer divisions inside of Jerusalem. Although hailed as an undivided capital, where Jewish-Israelis can trot from neighborhood to neighborhood, increasingly intractable metal is constructed between Palestinian localities. Like plantar warts, these checkpoints spread on the ridges and lowlands, hidden unless I look for them. Before last week I hadn’t heard of a-Zeitim, probably because cars can’t drive through, only foot traffic. And this checkpoint is nestled between Palestinian residential areas in the periphery of Jerusalem.

The checkpoint forces Palestinians to walk through a hard corridor when strolling from Abu Dis to At-Tur. The two areas once were adjoining neighborhoods, like Greenwich Village and Chelsea, but now Jerusalem ID holders (a special status for Palestinian residents of Jerusalem who are not citizens of Israel, nor the West Bank) are separated by the infrastructural might of the Brooklyn bridge: a tower, a concrete fence and this checkpoint.

Round about to no where, inclosed inside of the security fences of a-Zeitim checkpoint. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Round about to no where, inclosed inside of the security fences of a-Zeitim checkpoint.

“Before the start of the popular resistance groups we worked with the Fatah movement, and we knew people from the Jahalin Bedouin villages from that time,” said Thaer Anis, 36, a civil servant with the Palestinian Ministry of Finance. Anis spoke to me next to a chain-linked fence that encircles the parking lot of a-Zeitim checkpoint. He had just gotten out of jail about a month before, arrested forknocking out a piece of the separation barrier in a protest commemorating the Palestinian nakba earlier this year. In the intervening five months he and a number of his co-organizer with a group called Bab al-Shams have all been locked up for destroying pieces of the wall.

Anis was picked up in one of the West Bank’s largest military incursion of the year,when 200 border police stormed Abu Dis and nearby Eizariya and arrested 11 for tampering with the wall.

After Anis was incarcerated, others continued to break off pieces of the barrier. Many of them, like Anis, were later arrested in the dead of night. The Israeli military has security cameras. “They took a picture of me when I broke the wall,” said Anis, who was eventually charged with tampering with security barrier and the photograph surfaced in trial as definitive evidence against him.

But Anis’s three-month stint in jail didn’t deter the young professional and activist. He’s back to protesting Jerusalem’s divisions. Like many other Palestinians from areas of the holy city that are now trapped behind the wall, Anis has to drive to a further checkpoint to access the rest of the city, called a-Zayyam, which borders area E1, Jerusalem and the West Bank. Part of that village that the checkpoint takes its name from is also split between Jerusalem and the West Bank. Last year when I visited a-Zayyam I noticed all of the cars had Israeli yellow license plates rather than green Palestinian Authority plates. Yet everyone in the village said despite mostly falling in Jerusalem’s municipal borders, no one services the village: not Israel or the West Bank. They burn their own trash and purchase water in large tanks.

Palestinians pray in protest of the a-Zeitim checkpoint that bisects East Jerusalem neighborhoods. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Palestinians pray in protest of the a-Zeitim checkpoint that bisects East Jerusalem neighborhoods.

Palestinians hold signs in protest of a-Zeitim checkpoint. The demonstrators want to pass between Jerusalem neighborhoods without crossing a checkpoint. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Palestinians hold signs in protest of a-Zeitim checkpoint. The demonstrators want to pass between Jerusalem neighborhoods without crossing a checkpoint.

With most of the wall-breakers now out of jail, Anis and his neighbors are trying on a different tactic to protest the strangulation of their neighborhoods that comprise the outer lands of both Jerusalem and the West Bank. Last week after Friday prayers, others from Abu Dis and Eizariya joined him and me. They dropped to their knees on rugs in front of a-Zeitim checkpoint. This is their new demonstration; praying at the checkpoint. They took the name “Bab al-Shams,” after a protest village erected last fall inside area E1 on private Palestinian owned land that garnered the attention of international media, because many of these activists helped construct that village and live close by to the former location of Bab al-Shams.

Last year I reported on Bab al-Shams and four other protest villages that followed. At the time much of the media coverage paralleled Bab al-Shams with settlers who construct illegal outposts to create “facts on the ground.” But a striking difference between the settlers and these Palestinians is that the Palestinians held titles to their land, and settlers try to acquire deeds by building new communities first.

Moreover, the activists at Bab al-Shams and the other protest villages violated no Israeli laws. The organizers smartly constructed with materials that do not require permits, namely tents. When they were eventually evicted, it was through a closed military zone order, the first of which was directly decreed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself.

At first glance Anis’s group’s checkpoint prayer-protest struck me as a conglomerate of issues heaped together: children held signs about access to al-Aqsa mosque, the checkpoint itself was rallied against and there was informal discussion over a government program to transfer Jahlain Bedouin from area E1 to a reservation next to the Abu Dis dump yard. “Because it’s area E1, the Jahalin live here too and we work together,” explained Anis. In fact a-Zeitim checkpoint borders area E1, as well as Jerusalem and the West Bank. It is a checkpoint of crossings between difference administrative areas, where Palestinians live with every kind of status imaginable. Some are Israeli citizens, some are Jerusalem residents, and some are West Bank residents.

Even for those who live near a-Zeitim checkpoint, the exact line of 1967 border isn’t always clear. An infamous example is the Cliff Hotel in Abu Dis, which in recent years has been taken over by the Israeli military. The hotel was part of the construction boom in East Jerusalem’s neighborhoods after the Oslo Accords were signed. Back then the owners thought in earnest a Palestinian state was around the corner and so it was a promising time to invest in building a hotel to serve the future capital.

“The kitchen was in the West Bank,” said Anis’s co-organizer, Dr. Abdullah Abu Hillal, 39, a general practitioner and a member of the Palestine National Initiative, the political party headed by Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, who fell victim to the perils living in a divided neighborhood. Dr. Abu Hillal was arrested in 2006 at the hotel for inadvertently entering Jerusalem without a permit. With half of the structure in Jerusalem and half in the West Bank, Palestinians guests were crossing the Green Line when moving from room to room. When told he was in Jerusalem and had illegally entered Israel, Dr. Abu Hillal tried appealing to the arresting officer, asking which part of the hotel was in the West Bank and that he would go there to avoid detention. “The army refused because he said I didn’t have the right ID.”

Palestinian Jerusalem ID holders use call box at a-Zeitim checkpoint to ask the Israeli army to open to crossing. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Palestinian Jerusalem ID holders use call box at a-Zeitim checkpoint to ask the Israeli army to open to crossing.

For the first 35 years of Israel’s now 46-year occupation in Abu Dis and other cities that the Green Line traversed, the borders were relatively inconsequential. The Green Line was not sealed up near Palestinian population centers the way it is today, with over 70 military checkpoints in the West Bank and seven in the Jerusalem area, alone. Then when the separation barrier construction began, Abu Dis was one of the first Jerusalem neighborhoods to have the concrete divider slice through the locality. And like most of the path of the wall, in Abu Dis it doesn’t actually follow the route of the Green Line. So what exists today is panel of division inside of holy city, separating one section of the Jerusalem from the rest of the promised capital city.

While supporters of Israel hail the post-Oslo checkpoints as cages to weed out potential security threats with their rigorous ID checks and biometric scanners, and critics decry the devastation to West Bank Palestinian economy and mobility, few lay their attention on the checkpoints inside of Jerusalem, like a-Zeitim. There are 250,000 Palestinian East Jerusalem ID holders who pay taxes to Israel, vote in municipal elections, and are at constant risks of losing their privileges inside of the Israeli system. Together they are 40 percent of the total city’s population. But after the beginning of the separation wall’s construction in 2002, an immobilizing barrier more often than not situated over the Green Line has rendered ghettos inside of Jerusalem. A-Zeitim, the olives terminal, therefore has become a doorway to Jerusalem ghetto. And entering and exiting from one neighborhood to the next is a bizarre hell that is only imposed on Jerusalem’s Arab population.

(Source / 18.10.2013)

The Importance of Girls’ Education in Islam

Women and girls have been victims of ruthless power struggles for centuries in all societies and cultures around the world. This hegemony over women has been exercised in the form of Sati, Hitobashira, Karo-Kari and the killing of witches, which are only a few to mention. Sadly, but truly, many societies including some Muslim societies continue to exercise this patriarchy in different forms such as the denial to education, unequal salaries compared to men in workplaces, forced marriages and prostitution, among many others.

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (pbuh), came at a time when the Arab society, like so many patriarchal  societies at that time, was rife with abhorrent practices against girls. He preached Islam, liberating women and girls in every walk of life, education being a prime aspect. This article examines the  facts about the importance of female education in Islam. It does so through referencing verses of the Quran, Islam’s holy book, and hadith, authentic traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), along with offering a short glimpse of his wives’ level of education.

Let us start with the first Quranic revelation:

Read in the name of your Lord who created, created man from a clinging form. Read! Your Lord is the Most Generous, who taught by means of the pen; taught man what he did not know. (96:1-5)

These verses address humankind to seek knowledge and delve in critical thinking. The emphasis laid in the acquisition of knowledge, in the above verses, surpasses any statement or action denying girls’ the right to education. Had these verses only been for men, it would be inconceivable to imagine the extent of progression that the society made in a mere twenty-three years — the entire duration of the revelation of the Quran.

In another verse in the Quran, God says:

(This is) a Book (the Quran) which We have sent down to you, full of blessings that they may ponder over its Verses, and that men of understanding may remember. (38:29)

It is important to mention that the word “men” in the above verse refers to humankind as it does so in several other places in the Quran when God addresses humanity. These and other verses inform the readers that engaging in critical thinking is a moral obligation on both men and women. The Quran repetitively reminds people to ponder, think, analyze, thus using their mind power to contemplate and understand, whilst making no distinction between men and women.

Let us now examine some hadith, authentic sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

“Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every Muslim.”

“He who has a slave-girl and teaches her good manners and improves her education and then manumits and marries her, will get a double reward; and any slave who observes God’s right and his master’s right will get a double reward.”   (emphasis added)

If anyone travels on a road in search of knowledge, Allah will cause him to travel on one of the roads of Paradise. The angels will lower their wings in their great pleasure with one who seeks knowledge, the inhabitants of the heavens and the Earth and the fish in the deep waters will ask forgiveness for the learned man. The superiority of the learned man over the devout is like that of the moon, on the night when it is full, over the rest of the stars. The learned are the heirs of the Prophets, and the Prophets leave neither dinar nor dirham, leaving only knowledge, and he who takes it takes an abundant portion.” (emphasis added)

Three important themes around education are emerging in the above traditions. From the first Hadith we infer that education is not a right but a responsibility on every Muslim, male or female. In the second Hadith, emphasis is laid on the quality of education imparted to the girl slave and the latter part deals with the encouragement to free slaves (Islam denounced and later abolished slavery). The third Hadith speaks volumes about the superiority of the person who seeks knowledge over the one who does not. The reference here to superiority is to the person who seeks knowledge, man or woman.

We shall now examine information about the intellectual abilities of two wives of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh): Khadijah and Aishah.

  • Khadijah Binte Khuwaylid, the first wife of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), was a wealthy tradeswoman, the richest woman in Mecca at the time, who exported goods as far away as Syria. To manage her large business, she employed several males and to do so then in Arabia, necessitated that you have a high level of understanding and wisdom.
  • Aishah Binte Abu Bakr, the youngest wife of  Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), was very talented and possessed an incredible memory. As a Muslim scholar, she is credited with narrating more than two thousand Hadith and was noted for teaching eminent scholars. She had a great love for learning and became known for her intelligence and sharp sense of judgment. Her life also substantiates that a woman can be a scholar, exert influence over men and women and provide them with inspiration and leadership. The example of Aishah in promoting education, particularly education of women in the laws and teachings of Islam, is a hallmark in female education in Islam. Because of the strength of her personality, she was a leader in every field of knowledge, in society and in politics.

Conclusively, the take away message in the article is that Islam promotes education, particularly girls’ education. Had it not been so, the world would not have witnessed the transformation of a society plunged in  anarchy and hegemony into one enlightened with critical thinkers and scholars, all in the span of twenty-three years.

(Source / 18.10.2013)

Dr. Erekat: “Israel Does Not Want Peace”

Chief Palestinian Negotiator, Dr. Saeb Erekat, stated on Thursday evening that the current peace talk, held between Israel and the Palestinians behind closed doors, are not leading to any positive outcome, and that the Israeli government is foiling any chances for a peace deal.

Dr. Saeb Erekat - Arabs48
Dr. Saeb Erekat

Israeli Maariv has reported that Erekat commented on a report by Israel’s Peace Now Movement regarding the escalation of Israeli settlement construction and expansion activities in occupied Palestine, and said that “Israel is sabotaging the entire peace process”, and that Israel’s settlement activities “will lead to halting and ending peace talks”.

According to Maariv, Erekat said that “Israel is busy building and expanding settlement, instead of being busy in building peace”.

The Palestinian official further stated that decision makers in Tel Aviv are responsible for the current situation, and that their policies will eventually lead to the collapse of the entire peace process.

Visiting Italy, Nabil Rodeina, Political Advisor to President Mahmoud Abbas, stated that the Palestinian Authority will not allow any presence of the Israeli military in the Palestinian territory, and that the only solution to the conflict is “establishing an independent Palestinian State on the 1967 border, with East Jerusalem as its capital”.

The Palestinian statements came despite a commitment made by Israeli and Palestinian leaders to the American Mediator, Secretary of State John Kerry, in which they agreed not to make any statements to the media regarding what is happening in political doors, held behind closed doors.

Palestinian sources said that Erekat decided to “come out of silence” due to frustration resulting from ongoing Israeli violations, including its ongoing settlement construction and expansion activities.

It is worth mentioning that Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, met on Thursday with the Pope in the Vatican, and said that he hopes a peace agreement will be signed soon between Israel and the Palestinians.

(Source / 18.10.2013)

UK offers financial aid to Jordan

UK Pound Photo: Images-of-Money, flicker

The United Kingdom announced earlier this week that it will give Jordan 12 million pounds (19 million dollars) to help local communities in the kingdom to cope with the hundreds of thousands ofSyrian refugees.

According to Justine Greening, the British International Development Secretary, Jordan will receive an urgent support from the UK to maintain essential public services and to avoid tensions between the local population and the growing number of Syrian refugees, as the competition for jobs is increasing.

Thus, the UK will provide £ 12 million over the next two years to ensure that Jordanian municipal governments can meet the needs of local communities, and refugees who have fled the fighting in Syria. According to a statement from the British embassy, the British support will help Jordan keep construction and maintenance of roads, garbage collection, street lighting, pest control and water supply.

Jordan hosts over 500,000 Syrian refugees, especially in the north, particularly in the Zaatari refugee camp, where around 120,000 people are settled.

The Jordanians have repeatedly asked for help, saying that the growing influx of refugees has put a huge burden on the already overburdened water service and electricity, as well as housing and education.

The International Monetary Fund Saturday recommended the release of 258 million dollars to Jordan as part of a loan of 2 billion dollars over three years, approved in August 2012, to help the kingdom to facing regional instability.

(Source / 18.10.2013)