Israeli forces hand out demolition orders in Jerusalem village

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli municipality staff on Sunday handed stop-work orders to several houses in the Wadi al-Hilweh neighborhood in Silwan, a Ma’an reporter said.

Israeli police and the Israeli municipality staff raided Wadi al-Hilweh and took photos of houses.

Jawad Siam, director of the Wadi al-Hilweh center, said that Israeli municipality staff handed six demolition orders to Palestinian houses and a grocery store. The municipality staff claimed that they properties were built without licenses.

The families that recived the demolish orders are the Qaraen, Siam, Ghaith, al-Taweel, and Eweda families.

Siam added that Siam’s house was built in the 1990s and there are seven relatives living in it. The house is 50 square meters wide, while the second is 65 square meters. It also contains seven relatives.

Qaraen’s house consists of three apartments, 13 people live in it, including 3 children. The building was built in 1998. Israeli forces imposed expensive penalties on the family. The family tried to apply for a license, but all their attempts failed.

The Israeli municipality staff also placed a demolition order on a shop that belongs to al-Taweel family. The threatened area is only meters wide. They handed a demolition order to an under-construction site that belongs to the Eweda family. The house is 75 square meters wide.

Israeli forces also raided the house of Jawad Siam, the director of the Wadi al-Hilweh Information Center, and handed him a stop-work order. His house is 70 square meters, and it was built in 1952. The family repaired the roof of the house because water leaks inside during the winter, he says.

(Source / 27.10.2013)

Israel blocks European parliament members from visiting besieged Gaza Strip

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Catherine Ashton, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union.

Members of the European Parliament, the elected legislative body of the European Union, have condemned Israel’s refusal to allow them to enter the occupied Gaza Strip.

The visit was scheduled to take place from 27-30 October 2013 and had the full support of Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, according to a press release on the website of the European Coordination Committee for Palestine.

“Despite interventions by the President Schulz and other distinguished parliamentarians, the Israeli authorities are preventing elected members of an official delegation from paying a humanitarian visit to this ravaged and impoverished region,” said Emer Costello, chairperson of the European Parliament’s Delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Costello represents Ireland’s Labor Party and is a member of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.

Equating Gaza with Hamas

“The official reason for refusal of access was cited as being in line with the policy according to which Israel does not facilitate visits to the Gaza Strip which will strengthen Hamas. This decision is deplorable and without foundation,” Costello added.

The visit was coordinated with UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, and followed a recent European Parliament vote to appropriate 300 million euros for “financial assistance to Palestine, the peace process and UNRWA,” the statement says.

By blocking European Parliament members from visiting Gaza, Israel is, among other things, preventing them from seeing how European taxpayers’ money is used.

Israel’s equation of Gaza with Hamas obscures the existence and suffering of nearly 1.7 million it is besieging in Gaza with devastating consequences.

EU appeasement

Costello said she had requested the president of the European Parliament as well as EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to take up the issue with Israel.

But based on Ashton’s past performance, Costello would be ill-advised to place much hope in her.

Currently, Ashton and her team are desperately trying to appease Israeli anger over recently-announced EU guidelines supposedly banning EU financing of Israeli companies and institutions that operate in settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The new guidelines generated rage from the Israeli government when they were announced last July, but under US and Israeli pressure, the EU has been working to find ways to help Israel to skirt them.

Flouting EU rules

The EU is racing desperately to find a solution satisfactory to Israel in time for the EU to include Israel in a major scientific program called Horizon 2020.

Reuters reported on 25 October that so far no agreement had been reached, but EU officials were assuring Israel not to worry.

“The EU has said it will not change the new guidelines, but is looking at ways for a flexible implementation of the rules,” Reuters said.

An example of what such “flexibility” might look like in practice was reported by The Electronic Intifada’s David Cronin recently.

The EU’s Tel Aviv office continues to assist Israeli firms that ought to be excluded by the guidelines to obtain financing through the European Investment Bank (EIB):

Among the beneficiaries of the EIB’s loans are Hapoalim, an Israeli bank with branches in the occupied West Bank. A “frequently asked questions” paper prepared by the EU’s embassy in Tel Aviv says that notwithstanding the new guidelines, banks active in Israeli settlements may continue to apply for EU loans provided the end recipients of those loans are based inside Israel.

A nod and a wink

In essence, the EU is giving Israel a nod and a wink that business can carry on as usual.

Israel has apparently taken this message to heart: this week an Israeli official revealed Israel intends to proceed with another massive explansion of settler-colonies on occupied Palestinian land.

Overall, Israel’s construction of new housing in its illegal colonies shot up 70 percent in the first six months of this year, according to the Israeli group Peace Now.

If ever there were a measure of the utter failure of EU efforts, that is it.

Israel’s ongoing theft of Palestinian land, and now its ban on the parliamentary delegation visiting Gaza, are signs of its confidence that it can bully the EU not only with impunity, but while reaping reward

(Source / 27.10.2013)

Jerusalem Women Remembered For Role in Palestinian Politics

A Palestinian woman gestures in front of riot police during a demonstration against renewed peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Sept. 7, 2013.
 History books contain very little information about the women of Jerusalem’s contributions to Palestinian politics or feminist action since the 1920s.

Two demonstrations that actually had a profound effect on the course of the Palestinian struggle do stand out. The first was comprised of 120 automobiles that cruised the streets of Jerusalem — following the annual conference organized in Jerusalem in 1929 — and stopped by the various foreign consulates to hand their consuls memoranda about the conference’s decisions.

The second took place on April 15, 1933, when women voiced their objection to the visit of British officials Lord Allenby and Lord Swinton to the country. Despite the pouring rain, women marched through the streets until they reached the Omar Mosque, where one of their leaders — Mathilde Maghanem, a Christian — delivered a speech from the mosque’s tribune. The demonstrators then continued on to the Holy Sepulcher, where another of the women’s leaders — Tarab Abdel Hadi, a Muslim — delivered her speech from in front of Christ’s tomb.

What political wisdom did Palestinian women in general, and women from Jerusalem in particular, possess at that time?

Jerusalem women’s political contributions were not limited to demonstrations and the organization of political conferences. They, in fact, established unions for women and charitable organizations, and participated in direct and indirect political action.

In addition to the participation of urban women, rural women also played an important part, as chronicled in the early 1990s through the study of oral traditions that are passed on.

Yet, the testimony of many of the narrators demonstrated that the urban women’s names were the clearest in their minds; their memories made permanent by their activities in women’s associations and unions in particular.

Dawoud Ereikat talked about the struggles of Palestinian women before 1948. He mentioned the names of urban leaders such as Zuleikha al-Shihabi, and proudly spoke about his own mother’s (Aisha el-Hajj Khalil al-Maki) political participation as well as that of his maternal aunt (Rakiah el-Hajj Khalil al-Maki); both of whom he only named after the researcher insisted.

Sheikh Zuhair al-Shawish explained that women’s names were deliberately not mentioned due to social traditions, as doing so was considered shameful. This partly explains why recorded history neglected to mention the names of these women who contributed to public life in the 1930s.

The testimonies of narrators also highlighted names that were mentioned in recorded history as well as names that remained alive in their minds alone. Among the names of Jerusalem women whose memories staunchly endured in the minds of people are veteran pioneers such as Zuleikha al-Shihabi, Hind al-Husseini and martyr Hayat al-Balabseh. Female pioneer Essam Abdul Hadi remembers the names of many women who rose to prominence through their activism. Among them was Zuleikha al-Shihabi, who established, with Milia al-Sakakini, the first Palestinian women’s union in 1921; and Hind al-Husseini, who established the Arab Children’s House to take care of the daughters of fallen martyrs.

Other Jerusalem women are also remembered, most prominent among them are Qudsiyah Seif Eddine, Nahed Abdo al-Sujudi, Nazha Darwish, Hilwa Zeidan, Salma al-Husseini and Badria al-Husseini.

Pioneer female activist Widad al-Ayyoubi talked about her colleague Fatima Abu al-Saoud, and the distinguished political role that the latter played: “Fatima worked with a particular group of female students who filled baskets with figs or grapes and went about visiting shops and homes to distribute pamphlets, that they hid under the figs and grapes, calling for strikes or demonstrations.”

Doumia al-Sakakini, on the other hand, in addition to talking about known names, spoke with admiration of a previously unknown lady who worked in first aid: Kokon Talil.

Pioneer activist Salma al-Husseini recalled the distinctive role played by militant Wajiha al-Husseini, who was only known for being the wife of martyred leader al-Kader al-Husseini. She talked about Wajiha’s role in smuggling weapons to her husband and his comrades, and characterized her tribute to Husseini as a sort of redress following history’s neglect of the woman: “Why did I speak about Ms. Wajiha? Because history neglected her memory. She worked hard. There isn’t always a woman behind every great man, but, in this case, she was a great woman, just like her husband was a great man.”

According to the testimonies of those interviewed, rural women also played their part, despite the fact that their names have been forgotten.

Dr. Sobhi Ghosheh talked about the nature of rural women’s participation in the revolution of 1936: “Women participated in all manner of national action. They smuggled weapons in and out of towns, particularly those among them who wore traditional robes, who hid weapons, grenades and pistols under their clothes. There are stories about a woman from the Dkeidek family as well as other rural women who smuggled weapons to the rebels inside Jerusalem under bales of parsley and chard. We also remember many rural women who smuggled arms, food and news to the rebels.”

Militant Bahjat Abu Gharbiyeh confirmed women’s participation in political and military action: “They carried rifles just like their husbands. No names, I can’t remember them. The one that comes to mind used to be known as Um al-Moumineen (mother of the believers). I saw her. She belonged to the Arab Sawahrah clan. I also saw other women in Balaa and during the demonstrations that took place in Jerusalem, where I saw them clash with the police.”

Ahmad al-Issawi, from Beit Hanina in Jerusalem, remembers some of the women’s names: “God be my witness, I remember one who came from our village. Her name was Mansia from Beit Hanina. There was also one called Latifa al-Salman and another one named Hasna al-Qatnawiyah.”

Zuhair al-Shawish also remembers the effective role played by rural women during his march with his comrades to come to the aid of commander Abdel Qader al-Husseini in Al Qastal: “Who was guiding us along the way? Two men and four women from the villages. The women showed us the way, and were, even more than us, exposed to gunfire.”

And so the story goes. Pioneer women recounting the achievements of other pioneer women. Old generations handing the torch to new ones, forever and ever.

There is still a lot to tell about Jerusalem women, and the roles that they played. Their stories necessitating endless study and research.

Oral history remembers a lot of known facts and some previously undiscovered ones. There are still aspects that remain unknown, requiring collective effort to elucidate. This is a debt that we hold, a duty that our conscience needs performed, in honor of those who paid and are still paying the ultimate price, for the independence and freedom of our land.

(Source / 27.10.2013)

Palestinian arrested in Chicago because of her community activism, groups say

Rasmea Yousef Odeh

The Department of Homeland Security’sarrest of Palestinian community activist Rasmea Yousef Odeh at her home in the Chicago suburbs on Tuesday was an act of political repression, dozens of groups around the US stated this week.

Odeh, associate director of the Arab American Action Network, a social services and community organization in Chicago, faces imprisonment and deportation for alleged immigration fraud. Released on bond, she is due in court in Detroit next month.

The indictment charges that 66-year-old Odeh failed to disclose a conviction in Israel on her citizenship application. It states that Odeh was convicted by an Israeli military court in 1969 for alleged membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and alleged involvement in two bombings in Jerusalem, one of which killed two civilians.

There has been an outpouring of support for Odeh, including a statement from prominent groups that Odeh is being targeted for her community activism. Her arrest comes at a time when “federal authorities, along with Israel and its supporters in the US, are continuing to search for ways to intimidate and silence those who are effective advocates for Arab American communities, and who speak out for Palestinian rights,” the groups state.

The statement has been signed by dozens of organizations, including the Center for Constitutional Rights and Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, the US Palestinian Community Network and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

The groups note that Israel’s “military courts operate exclusively to subjugate occupied Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. They routinely bypass all but a modicum of due process, and justify holding individuals without charge or trial for months and years, often in abusive conditions and subject to torture.”

Amnesty International states that Palestinians who go through the military court system “face a wide range of abuses of their right to a fair trial. They are routinely interrogated without a lawyer and, although they are civilians, are tried before military not ordinary courts.”

Torture

Odeh has previously been public about her arrest, describing in a documentary film the torture including sexual abuse she says she endured during the ten years she was in Israeli prison. Odeh was released and her sentence commuted as part of a prisoner release deal in 1979, when she was deported to Lebanon.

Odeh earned a law degree in Jordan and immigrated to the US in 1995; ten years later she moved to Chicago in 2005 and joined the Arab American Action Network. Odeh “has dedicated ten years to the Chicago Arab-American community, working with women on issues ranging from promoting literacy and political education to addressing domestic violence and anti-Arab and Muslim sentiment,” the organizations opposing the indictment have stated.

Earlier this year Odeh was awarded by the Chicago Cultural Alliance for her community leadership. In a video profile made of Odeh for the occasion, she describes how her family was turned upside down and dispersed during the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine, and she discusses her current work with women immigrants to help them become part of American society.

Political repression

Odeh’s arrest comes three years after the homes of activists in the Midwest were raided by the FBI and other federal agencies as part of an investigation into material support for foreign terrorist organizations.

Odeh’s colleague Hatem Abudayyeh, director of the Arab American Action Network and a good friend of this writer, was one of those targeted during the raids. He told me shortly after the raid that federal agents “basically grabbed everything that said ‘Palestine’ on it” during the three hours they searched his family’s home.

A total of twenty-three activists, including myself, were subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury in the months following the raids. (As The Electronic Intifada noted at the time, all indications are that I was targeted because of my involvement in solidarity organizing in Chicago, and not due to my work with this publication.) All of us refused to testify, even though we risked (and still risk) being jailed for doing so, stating that we were being harassed because of our organizing against unjust US foreign policy, particularly in Palestine and Colombia.

In a comprehensive article for Firedoglake, Kevin Gosztola has summarized the developments related to the grand jury investigation since 2010, which show that the government’s attempts to build a case have apparently not been successful so far.

The grand jury investigation is being led by Assistant US Attorney Barry Jonas, who was present in court on Tuesday when Odeh was brought before a judge, according to a statement released by the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, which was formed after the 2010 raids.

Prosecutor targeted humanitarians

Jonas was lead prosecutor in the government’s case against the Holy Land Foundation, which was the largest Islamic charity in the US before it was shut down by a Bush administration executive order in December 2001. Five men associated with the charity were later charged with material support for terrorism organization over the foundation’s contributions to charitable societies in Palestine which the government said are affiliated with Hamas.

The prosecutors’ argument was that by contributing to these charities, the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) therefore freed up resources that might be allocated to Hamas’ “terror” activity. The government made this case even though the charities in question had also received funds from the US State Department’s aid agency.

The five were not accused of involvement in any acts of violence. Yet as Palestinian American Ghassan Elashi, one of the defendants, describes in Alia Malek’s book Patriot Acts: Narratives of Post-9/11 Injustice:

At the trial, the prosecutors focused on the killing of Israeli soldiers and civilians by Palestinian elements, and especially Hamas, as opposed to the actions of the HLF or the defendants themselves.

One government witness testified in detail about suicide bombings claimed by Hamas, and prosecutors were also allowed to present to the jury numerous images and statements made by individuals other than us. For example, they showed pictures of the aftermath of suicide bombs, and videos of Palestinian school ceremonies in which children played the roles of suicide bombers, complete with suicide belts. none of the videos came from the HLF’s files. The videos depicted events that happened years after the HLF closed, and there is no evidence that the defendants attended these ceremonies.

Meanwhile, the judge did not allow the defense to “show the jury fundraising videos demonstrating the HLF’s charity work,” deeming the evidence irrelevant.

Despite these biased courtroom tactics, and the unprecedented expert testimony of an anonymous Israeli intelligence agent, the jury failed to return a guilty verdict. Jurors later told the press that the case seemed “strung together with macaroni noodles.”

But at the request of the prosecution, the judge then took the extraordinary step of individually polling each juror; a single juror had changed his mind and the judge declared a mistrial. A second jury trial returned in guilty verdicts and now Elashi and his co-defendants are serving what are essentially life sentences for their humanitarian work in Palestine.

Controversial law

The decades-long sentencing of the Holy Land Five for their work supporting charities in Palestine — charities which are needed as a result of the US-bankrolled Israeli military occupation — shows desperate lengths to which government prosecutors will go to score “victories” in the domestic war on terrorism.

This is enabled by the ever-widening scope of the controversial law banning material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations. The statute is now so broad that First Amendment-protected political speech can be construed as material support if the government says it is done in a “coordinated way” with a so-called terror group — even though speech is by definition immaterial.

Of course the application of this law is arbitrary. Not only have US political elites like former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani not faced any prison time for their services to the Iranian opposition group and designated terror organization MEK, the Obama administration announced a year ago that it had de-listed the group. As journalist Glenn Greenwald noted at the time, this was “despite … reports that the MEK had been engaged in terrorism and other military aggression against Iran — or, more accurate: likely because of them …”

The foreign terrorist organization list is itself inherently political. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the other Palestinian political movements on the list were designated by President Clinton as “terrorist organizations which threaten to disrupt the Middle East peace process” because of those groups’ opposition to the Oslo accordssigned by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1993.

But not all groups whose activities contradict US foreign policy or disrupt the “peace process” have been criminalized.

US-based groups have raised hundreds of millions in aid for Israeli settlements, even though Jews-only colony expansion is still officially contrary to US foreign policy. Such groups even enjoy tax-exempt charity status.

Ensuring Israel’s impunity

Meanwhile, the US provides Israel diplomatic cover at the United Nations and other arenas, ensuring it total impunity — even when US citizens are its victims.

Recently-released documents show that the Obama administration actively undermined international investigation into Israeli forces’ slaying of nine activists on the Mavi Marmaraaid ship in international waters.

The victims include teenager Furkan Doğan, a US citizen who was extrajudicially executed while he held a small camcorder documenting the siege of the ship. (The US has made no high-level attempt to retrive from Israel the camera and other property of US citizens seized in the raid which would yield key evidence.)

Meanwhile, the documents show, the US government wasted no time in investigating Gaza Freedom Flotilla activists for terror group financing ties.

Freedom

It is hard to believe that this week’s arrest of a prominent organizer in Chicago, home to what is thought to be the largest Palestinian community in the US, over a conviction by a military court four decades ago, is just the federal government objectively upholding the law.

The repression of the Palestinian national movement in the US has gone back for decades, since the waves of immigration from Palestine following Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967.

And now that the status quo of US aid to Israel is being increasingly challenged, the repression has increased.

The statement signed by the dozens of organizations in support of Rasmea Odeh adds:

In the last year alone, Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, in partnership with the Center for Constitutional Rights, and in collaboration with the National Lawyers Guild and other organizations, has documented over 75 cases of intimidation and legal bullying. These include perceived surveillance, FBI contacts and discriminatory enforcement of laws against advocates for Palestinian rights. Rasmea’s arrest and indictment must be viewed within this wider context of widespread attempts to intimidate people into silence on one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time. Rasmea’s indictment is also an illustration of increasingly draconian enforcement of immigration laws, which have left immigrant communities devastated at the hands of Obama’s Department of Homeland Security.

For its part, National Students for Justice in Palestine has issued a statement in solidarity with Rasmea Odeh, adding that “we refuse to be deterred from our work.”

This weekend Students for Justice in Palestine is convening its largest national meeting yet. Despite all of the weapons in the US’ legal arsenal — for these laws exist to be wielded against us instead of to protect us — there is no stopping the momentum for freedom in Palestine.

(Source / 27.10.2013)

South African solidarity event to launch international Free Marwan Barghouthi campaign

marwanThis Sunday, 27 October, the international “Free Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian prisoners” campaign will be launched from the historic South African landmark of Robben Island, where anti-apartheid struggle icons Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada and others were imprisoned during Apartheid in South Africa.

The Palestinian based Popular Campaign for the Release of Marwan Barghouti and all Palestinian Political Prisoners and the South African based Ahmed Kathrada Foundation are the primary organisers of the Robben Island launch event. Ahmed Kathrada launched the “Free Nelson Mandela and all South African Political Prisoners” campaign in 1962, just prior to his own arrest and subsequent imprisonment with Nelson Mandela and others on Robben Island (click here for a short video by actor Morgan Freeman on the life and legacy of Ahmed Kathrada:www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7c_Kg2hp5c). Now half a century later, the 84-year-old anti-apartheid struggle veteran, is launching yet another campaign for an iconic freedom fighter, Marwan Barghouti, commonly dubbed “Palestine’s Mandela” (www.bdssouthafrica.com/2011/10/freeing-palestines-mandela-marwan.html). Barghouti is one of the most prominent –of over 5000– Palestinian political prisoners currently detained in Israeli prisons and jails.

On Sunday, from Robben Island, BDS South Africa will also be announcing and detailing an upcoming South African boycott campaign against G4S Security, the international security company contracted in 2007 to equip and service Israeli prisons, torture centres and detention facilities where Marwan Barghouti and other Palestinian political detainees are held (www.whoprofits.org/company/g4s-israel-hashmira).

Following Sunday’s Robben Island launch, public events will be held in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.

–>

LAUNCH OF “FREE MARWAN BARGHOUTI AND ALL PALESTINIAN POLITICAL PRISONERS” CAMPAIGN AND BDS-SA ANNOUNCEMENT OF “G4S BOYCOTT”
WHERE: Robben Island, Cape Town, South Africa
WHEN: Sunday, 27 October 2013
TIME: Starting from 09h00
RSVP: Event full.

–>

CAPE TOWN PALESTINE PRISONER SOLIDARITY RALLY
DAY: Sunday, 27 October
TIME: 18h00
WHERE: Drommedaris Hall, Good Hope Centre
ADDRESS: Christiaan Barnard Street, Cape Town
CONTACT: 0823731143
COST: FREE

–>

DURBAN PALESTINE PRISONER SOLIDARITY RALLY
DAY: Tuesday, 29 October
TIME: 19h00
WHERE: Durban Art Gallery, Durban City Hall
ADDRESS: 2nd Floor, Durban Art Gallery, Durban City Hall, Anton Lembede Street (Smith St.), Durban
CONTACT: 0823731143
COST: FREE

–>

DURBAN PALESTINE PRISONER FUNDRAISING DINNER
DAY: Wednesday, 30 October
TIME: 18h30
WHERE: NMJ Hall
ADDRESS: Mountain View Avenue (off Hendry Road), Morningside, Durban
CONTACT AND RSVP: 0823731143 / 0827757860
COST: R300 pp

–>

JOHANNESBURG PALESTINE PRISONER SOLIDARITY RALLY
DAY: Thursday, 31 October
TIME: 18h30
WHERE: Baitun Noor Centre
ADDRESS: Topaas Street, Extension 5, Lenasia
CONTACT: 0823731143
COST: FREE

–>

JOHANNESBURG PALESTINE PRISONER & HUMAN RIGHTS SYMPOSIUM
DAY: Saturday, 02 November
TIME: 09h00
WHERE: Constitutional Hill, Braamfontein
CONTACT: 0823731143
HOSTS: The Foundation for Human Rights, Constitutional Hill and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation
COST: FREE

The Robben Island launch and follow up events in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg will be addressed by Ms. Fadwa Bargouti (wife of Marwan Barghouti and head of the Palestinian based Popular Campaign for the Release of Marwan Barghouti & All Palestinian Political Prisoners), Azzam Ahmad (Former Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister and Head of the Palestinian delegation to the international Inter-Parliamentary Union), Qaddura Fares (Former Palestinian Minister of Detainees), Majed Bamya (Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Shawqi Issa (Director of Ensan, the Palestinian Centre for Democracy and Human Rights), Sahar Francis (Director of Addameer, the Palestinian Prisoner Support & Human Rights Association), Helmi Al Araj (Director of Hurriyat), Nasser Alrayyes (Al Haq, the Palestinian Human Rights Organization), Yasser Amouri (Birzeit University) and Luisa Morgantini (the former Vice President of the European Parliament). The Palestinian delegates will be accompanied by Ahmed Kathrada and a host of other former South African political prisoners.

———-

Marwan Barghouthi (54) is known as the ‘Palestinian Mandela’. At the age of 15, Barghouthi joined the Palestinian political party, Fatah, where he co-founded the Fatah Youth Movement. At the age of 18, in 1976, Barghouthi was first arrested by Israel for involvement in Palestinian political and resistance groups. Barghouthi completed his secondary education and received a high school diploma while he was in jail.

Once released, Barghouthi became a member of the Palestinian parliament, where he served until he was abducted and arrested in 2002 by the Israeli army and thereafter tried, convicted and sentenced to five life sentences. The international Inter-Parliamentary Union has subsequently found that Barghouthi’s abduction, arrest and transfer to Israeli territory was in violation of international law and has, together with other international human rights organisations, called for his immediate release. At his trial in 2002, Barghouthi did not participate in its proceedings. Instead, he refused to recognise the legitimacy of the Israeli courts and maintained that his abduction and the Israeli trial were illegal and illegitimate. From within prison, he pursued his efforts for Palestinian unity and freedom, including through his central role in the elaboration of the prisoners’ document for national reconciliation.

Over 750 000 Palestinians (roughly 40% of Palestinian men) have been imprisoned by Israel at one point in time. About 100 000 Palestinians have been held by Israel in “administrative detention” (the equivalent of Apartheid South Africa’s “Detention without trial”). In the last 11 years alone, more than 7500 Palestinian children have been detained in Israeli prisons and detention facilities (including being held in solitary confinement) with Muhammad Daoud Dirbas, at the age of six, being the youngest Palestinian child to have been detained by Israeli soldiers – such practices are considered illegal under international law. Similar to the experience of Black families under Apartheid, almost every Palestinian family has been affected by the Israeli imprisonment of a relative. Currently, as of October 2013, there are over 5000 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel; 137 of them are being held under Israel’s “administrative detention” (Apartheid South Africa’s “Detention Without Trial”) and 180 of them are children. Click here to read the 2012 United Nations report on Israel’s detention of Palestinian children: http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=12375&LangID=E

In 2007 the international security company, G4S, was contracted to provide and maintain Israeli prisons, torture centres and detention facilities. Although claiming that it intends to terminate its Israeli contracts, G4S still operates in Israel and with the Israeli regime. G4S also provides equipment and services to Israeli checkpoints and Israel’s illegal Jewish-only settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank (click here to download the United Nations Special Rapporteur report with details of G4S and its illegal activities in Israel [Pages 15 & 16]: http://t.ymlp289.net/jemsacauubhmakaumhakamseb/click.php). More information on the South African G4S boycott together with campaign material and ways in which members of the public can get involved will be distributed shortly after the Robben Island launch and official announcement of the South African “G4S Boycott” campaign…

The launch of this International Campaign follows a visit by Ahmed Kathrada to Palestine earlier this year. On his return, Kathrada, who himself spent 26 years imprisoned on Robben Island during Apartheid, said: “I believe the International Community has a moral, legal and political responsibility to secure the freedom of Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian political prisoners…hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have experienced imprisonment at a certain point in their lives, in one of the most striking examples of mass detention in recent history. Some of these prisoners have spent over 30 years in Israeli jails … the freedom of the Palestinian people is intricately linked to the freedom of Palestinian political prisoners.”

(Source / 27.10.2013)

Settlers break into the Old City of al-Khalil and attack citizens

 

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– Jewish settlers on Saturday night stormed the Old City of al-Khalil in the occupied West Bank, and attacked Palestinian citizens and their properties.

Local sources reported that dozens of settlers protected by the Israeli soldiers stormed the neighborhoods and markets of the Old City, where they attacked the citizens’ properties and chanted racist slogans against the Palestinians.

Violent confrontations erupted in Jaber neighborhood east of the Ibrahimi Mosque on Saturday night between Palestinian youths and settlers from Kiryat Arba who were returning to their settlement after holding celebrations at the Ibrahimi Mosque.

Palestinian sources explained that the groups of settlers attacked a Palestinian woman and her three children, leading to clashes with the neighborhood residents who wanted to defend the children.

Eyewitnesses said that many Israeli military vehicles arrived at the scene to protect the settlers and chased the Palestinian young men. No arrests were reported.

Meanwhile; the citizen Imad al-Jundi from the town of Yatta in al-Khalil sustained injuries after Israeli soldiers attacked him near Walaja area in Bethlehem while he was trying to cross the apartheid wall to reach his workplace in the Palestinian 1948 occupied territories.

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) erected a checkpoint at the northern entrance of al-Khalil, where they stopped the vehicles and checked the identities of the passers-by.

(Source / 27.10.2013)

Besef en schaamte: met de billen bloot

By Lydia de Leeuw      ©    (http://asecondglance.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/besef-en-schaamte-met-de-billen-bloot/)

Sinterklaas is een uniek kinderfeest; een festijn van liedjes, pepernoten en cadeautjes, niet van racisme. Racisme is misdadig; dat heeft niets te maken hebben met ons gezellige volksfeest. Waarschijnlijk is het voor mensen in het buitenland moeilijk te begrijpen, maar we hebben echt geen kwaad in de zin. Dus, er is geen probleem en die discussie waait wel over.

Zo dacht ik erover, tot vrijdagavond. Ik zat met vrienden bij een café in Beirut en bracht de Zwarte Piet-hype ter sprake bij de andere Nederlandse in gezelschap. Zij, Vivian, kwam onverwacht fel uit de hoek: “Dat kàn toch niet meer, anno 2013. Ik snap niet dat mensen zoiets fouts verdedigen, gewoon omdat het traditie is!” Ik probeerde haar duidelijk te maken dat er niets fouts is aan het sinterklaasfeest: iets onschuldigers is er bijna niet in Nederland. Ik heb nog nooit de link gelegd tussen zwarte pieten en donkere mensen. Zwarte piet is een feestelijk fenomeen dat alleen bestaat op 5 december. Ondanks mijn koppigheid, begon er toch iets te knagen. Zou het zo kunnen zijn dat ik al 27 jaar een blinde vlek heb? Zou het zo kunnen zijn dat het gezellige feest dat we ieder jaar vieren, voor veel Nederlanders een kwetsende en beledigende tijd is?

Vivan bleef met de botte bijl doorhakken. Langzaam ging het knagende gevoel over in het besef dat er iets niet goed zat. Die nacht en volgende dag dacht ik er nog veel over na. Kan ‘zwarte piet’ gezien worden als een uiting van racisme? Nu slavernij voorbij is en het sinterklaasfeest slechts een onschuldig kinderfeest is, kunnen er dan toch verbanden gelegd worden met racisme? Ik kom uit bij; ja.

 

“Sint Nicolaas en zijn Knecht”, een leesboekje van onderwijzer Jan Schenkman (1850)

“Sint Nicolaas en zijn Knecht”, een leesboekje van onderwijzer Jan Schenkman (1850)

Zwarte piet is geboren uit een tijd van slavernij en racisme; zowel in hoe hij eruit ziet als in de rol die hij vervult. In 1850 was sinterklaas nog alleen, maar door een boekje van ene Jan Schenkman kwam ‘De Knecht’ tot leven; een onderdanige karikatuur van mensen van Afrikaanse afkomst. Het in stand houden van zwarte piet, is het in stand houden van een foute spotprent. Ook al is het niet verkeerd bedoeld, hij kan niet worden losgekoppeld en ‘onschuldig’ worden gemaakt. Het doet er niet toe dat je het als blanke Nederlander los kunt zien van ons slavernijverleden en racisme. Het staat er namelijk niet los van.

Het Nederlandse slavernijverleden leeft voor velen voort; het bepaalt identeit en beleving. Dit besef herinnerde me aan een tv-uitzending met Gerda Havertong waarin zij in een archief geconfronteerd wordt met het lijden van haar voorouders. Bij het doornemen van de slavenregisters huilt ze. Ik huilde met haar mee. En toch legde ik ook bij het zien van die uitzending nog geen verband.

In hun brief aan de Nederlandse overheid benadrukken de VN experts dat “A fundamental principle of human and minority rights is consultation with minority communities on issues that affect them and this must be respected in practice and in view of complaints received by members of minority communities”. Het gaat er deze VN experts om dat er geluisterd moet worden naar minderheden wanneer zij een probleem onder de aandacht willen brengen.

In 1987 was er al een Sesamstraat uitzending (vanaf 11:51 min) waarin de verschijning van zwarte piet aan de kaak werd gesteld. Terugkijkend verbaas ik mij erover dat het tot een VN-onderzoek moet komen voordat er werkelijk over het onderwerp gepraat wordt.

Defensieve (clichés)agressieve reacties en de kop-in-het-zand houding, wijzen op een dieperliggend probleem: we kunnen in Nederland nog steeds ons verleden niet onder ogen zien. Nederlandse kinderen leren weinig tot niets over de Nederlanse kolonisatie en slavenhandel. Mijn geschiedenisboeken gingen over de ‘V.O.C.’ en ‘plantages’, niet over bloedbaden, uitbuiting en superioriteitsdenken. We slepen buitenlandse politieke en militaire leiders voor de internationale gerechten in Den Haag maar raken in paniek wanneer Indonesische, Surinaamse of Antilliaanse nabestaanden om excuses vragen. Waarom? Waar zijn we bang voor?

Ik geloof niet dat iemand in Nederland iets kwaads in de zin heeft met het vieren van sinterklaas. En ik geloof ook niet dat iemand in Nederland trots is op ons kolonisatieverleden. Dat is dus des te meer reden om onze oren en ogen te openen. Ontspan en luister. Dan komt de rest vanzelf.

Israel tear gassing kids in Hebron school leads to cancellation of classes

gas_school-1

In the Israeli controlled H2 area in the center of Khalil (Hebron) children are used to tear gas canisters being fired after them before going to school.

Usually the teaching is delayed for at least half an hour, as many children are afraid of walking along Shalala Street where the school is, and with good reason. This morning, eight Israeli soldiers and two members of the border police were present as the children made their way to school, and they responded with no hesitation when four young children threw a hand full stones towards the checkpoint. At first one stun grenade was thrown from behind the checkpoint where the soldiers held their position, but they moved immediately out of the checkpoint towards the school.

From this position, another five stun grenades were thrown and six tear gas canisters were fired, one of which was fired carelessly down the street, nearly hitting a Palestinian woman on her way to work. This would have required hospitalization.

One stun grenade was purposely thrown at two international activists who were taking photos of the episode. After around half an hour the soldiers and police decided to go back to the checkpoint where two of them remained to check the ID’s of Palestinians and internationals. The rest of the soldiers and police left in a jeep while teachers and pupils walked back home since the school yard and classrooms had tear gas hanging in the air.

(Source / 27.10.2013)

Torturing and Jailing Palestinian Children

October 24, 2013 “Information Clearing House –   Although I have been living far from Palestine for a few years and I am now in my forties, I still have nightmares about the Israeli army invading my house when I was a child and about the first time I was tortured. This is the reality most Palestinian former prisoners live with for the rest of our lives.

When I was a child, friends my age who were arrested before me said they “saw the stars at noon.” This was a saying we had. You can’t see the stars at noon when the sun is shining. But when children are under torture, especially when they are beaten in the head, they see a flash, even when they are blindfolded. This is what we called seeing the stars at noon.

I was arrested the first time, with a few other children, when I was 14 years old. Our hands were cuffed behind our backs and our eyes were blindfolded. The soldiers were beating us. I heard the screaming, and I was screaming, too. I fell down and someone took my hands and made me stand. Suddenly a huge hand slapped me in my face. I felt dizzy and I saw the flash. I fell down on my shoulder. It was very painful and then I blacked out. The minute I woke up, even though I was under torture, I shouted to my friends, “I saw the stars, I saw the stars!” Later, it became a joke among us: “He saw the stars, he saw the stars.” I didn’t realize that those stars come back and visit you the rest of your life.

About 500-700 children are arrested by the Israeli occupation every year, according to Defense for Children International-Palestine. These children face a policy designed to kill their spirit and shut them down. It targets them physically and psychologically. The impact is planned from the first moment of arrest. Typically, children wake up in the middle of the night to hear soldiers yelling and knocking violently on the doors of their houses. They take them from the house and the child finds himself alone among a large group of soldiers. According to Mohammed, a 15-year-old boy in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan:

It was very painful. My hands were handcuffed behind my back and I was blindfolded. I was beaten by the soldiers everywhere on my body. I felt the pain everywhere. I was thrown in the floor of the military jeep and the soldier’s boots were kicking me everywhere. I felt I was bleeding but I didn’t know where.

When they get to jail, the children are interrogated—usually by professional interrogators and sometimes by random guards. Young age doesn’t protect them from psychological torture, either. Sometimes they throw children in isolation cells for days and sometimes weeks; sometimes they are handcuffed and kept in a small closet; sometimes they tie their hands and legs to a chair and leave them for hours, forcing them to soil themselves.

International human rights reports, including UN reports, express their concern about this situation, which is documented in thousands of pictures and hours of video footage. But none of this has stopped the Israelis from continuing to arrest, torture, and hold Palestinian children. In the “hot” areas, like the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem, the city of Hebron, and in refugee camps close to checkpoints or Israeli settlements, settlers add another layer of torture by harassing, dehumanizing, and even shooting Palestinian children.

The Israelis use laws that target only Palestinian children to legitimize their actions. Youth are sent to military courts, which often convict and sentence them to prison, sometimes for years.

People who experience torture in Israeli prisons and jails continue to feel the pain even after they are released. Especially for children, the pain and suffering of imprisonment doesn’t end the moment you are released. It might continue to follow you the rest of your life. One mother described the effect on her child:

My son is facing a hard time sleeping at night. He was a strong boy before. Right now at night he feels scared and sometimes he wakes up screaming because of his nightmares about the torture. The jailers, they don’t just torture our kids, but they kill their spirit and they traumatize them. My child is changed totally.

According to Khader Rasras, executive director and clinical psychologist at the Palestinian Treatment and Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture, these children have often difficulty returning to school. Nightmares can lead to loss of concentration and difficulty focusing and planning. He explained further:

Fear and anxiety make children who have experienced torture and abuse in detention hyper-vigilant. They will constantly be looking over their shoulders, out the window, and around them—worried that the soldiers will come for them again.

At the Middle East Children’s Alliance, we urge the international community and organizations to put an end to the suffering of Palestinian children. In addition, we act by supporting organizations on the ground that try to reduce the impact of jail.

(Source / 27.10.2013)

Al Qassam Brigades (@AlQassamBrigade) mourns the death of Saleh Al Basheti

 

انّا للہ و انّا الیه راجعون
الله يرحم كل الشهداء



Al Qassam Brigades mourns the death of Saleh Al Basheti

Al Qassam website | 27-10-2013,11:04 Gaza- Ezzedeen Al Qassam Brigades (E.Q.B) the military wing of the Islamic resistance movement Hamas, mourned on Saturday morning , October 27th, 2013, the death of the Qassam member Saleh Yousef Al Basheti ,22, from Tel Al Sultan neighborhood in Rafah city Southern Gaza Strip.

The brigades confirmed in a press statement released on Sunday morning , that the martyr Saleh has died accidently during his work at a resistance tunnel, adding that he was martyred after a long bright path of Jihad, hard work, struggle and sacrifice

Al Qassam Brigades mourn the death of the mujahed, reaffirms the commitment and determination to continue the resistance against the belligerent occupation forces.
Military Communiqué

(Source / 27.10.2013)