Elementary student shamed for wearing pro-Palestine t-shirt


By: Zach Taylor                   ©     (palestineinamerica.com/2016/05/attempted-censorship-oak-lawn/)


Last Wednesday, Hadeel, a fifth grade student at Sward Elementary in Oak Lawn, IL, was scolded by her teacher for wearing a t-shirt she said seemed “offensive.”

The t-shirt read, “Free Palestine, End the Israeli Occupation.” The teacher, Ms. Mensinga, later told Hadeel’s mother Sameria Ramadan, she acted in order to ensure her classroom remained a “safe and neutral environment for all students,” and that “anyone can say that ‘End Israeli Occupation’ can mean something else.”

Ramadan is proud of how Hadeel handled the situation the following day, when she wore a similar t-shirt to school. Mensinga scolded her privately again, and, according to Hadeel’s mother, her daughter responded, “I am wearing a shirt that says I would like Israel to stop building an illegal wall in Palestine.”

Ramadan and her two twin daughters have not had problems of censorship like this before at the school. In fact, the family admittedly holds an amiable relationship with the principal, Mrs. Gloodt.

Upon returning home from school, Hadeel notified her mother of what happened, and Ramadan was able to begin correspondence with the school’s administration and set up a meeting between her, Mensinga, and Gloodt. In the letter to Gloodt, Ramadan noted, “My daughter is Palestinian, many of our family members live in Palestine and are currently living under Israeli Occupation, so she is very well aware of the situation and experienced it first-hand.”

The family is firmly standing against this type of censorship.

“Occupation is a crime against humanity, and as an educator you should actually cheer her on, not shame her or make her feel like she is doing something wrong,” Ramadan said. “My daughters have always expressed pride in their heritage at this school, as well as their religion, and have never felt any shame in doing so. It is something I instill in my children, to be proud of who you are always. And they take it on one hundred percent.”

According to Dima Khalidi, founder and director of Palestine Legal and Cooperating Counsel with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), public school students have the right to express political views in ways that don’t affect the safety of others or significantly disrupt the learning environment.

“This incident is, unfortunately, in line with a trend we’re seeing. Expressions of support for Palestinian human rights and freedom are portrayed as harmful to those who disagree, and censored or punished on that basis. The First Amendment does not allow such censorship, nor should we stand for such a ‘Palestine exception’ to free speech,” she said

Ramadan and her daughters are currently waiting to officially schedule their meeting with the school’s administration in order to deal with this issue. Ramadan says that in her opinion, the solution to this problem would be sensitivity training for Sward Elementary’s teachers, and that as an educator herself, it’s important to uplift student’s positive perspectives in the classroom and prevent shameful issues of censorship in the future.

Sward Elementory has not responded to Palestine in America’s request for a comment on the on-going matter.


Settlers bulldoze land west of Salfit

WEST BANK, (PIC)– A horde of Jewish settlers on Saturday morning bulldozed Palestinian agricultural plots of lands on the outskirts of Deir Ballut town, west of Salfit province. According to local farmers, the settlers aim to annex more lands for the expansion of Bedo’ial and Leshem settlements, east of the town. They warned that the entire green plains of Deir Ballut would be seized gradually for the expansion of settlements, calling for immediate action to stop the appropriation of their lands and pastures. In an earlier incident, another group of settlers on Friday evening wreaked havoc on a cultivated piece of land belonging to a Palestinian farmer in al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem. According to local sources, the settlers destroyed the main gate of the fenced land in al-Absiya area near Eliezer settlement and caused widespread damage to vegetable crops. They also mangled grapevines in a nearby field belonging to another Palestinian citizen, the sources added. The Israeli occupation army, in turn, placed a caravan on a Palestinian-owned plot of land as part of a plan to expand the boundaries of Daniel settlement, south of Bethlehem.

(Source / 28.05.2016)

Arab league chief denounces Israel at peace talks

Palestinian president Abbas (C-L) and Palestinian chief negotiator, Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Erekat (2-L), Arab League Secretary General al-Arabi (2-R) and Bahrain’s FM al-Khalifa at the French peace initiative discussion in Cairo

Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi blasted Israel as a bastion of “racism and fascism” on Saturday at a meeting of foreign ministers to discuss a French Middle East peace initiative.

The Arab ministers are expected to adopt a resolution on the plan to revive negotiations between Israel and President Mahmud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority.

In his speech to the ministers, Arabi, who has been a vocal critic of Israel, said the country “has truly become today the last bastion of fascism, colonialism and racial discrimination in the world”.

Abbas has rejected an Israeli offer for direct negotiations instead of the French multilateral peace initiative, which Israel has turned down.

The French initiative involves holding a meeting of foreign ministers from a range of countries, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, on June 3, but without the Israelis and Palestinians present.

An international conference would then be held in the autumn, with the Israelis and Palestinians in attendance. The goal is an eventual relaunch of negotiations that would lead to a Palestinian state.

Negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians have been at a standstill since a US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014.

An upsurge in violence since October has killed 205 Palestinians and 28 Israelis. Most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, Israeli authorities say.

The unrest has steadily declined in recent weeks.

Many analysts say that Palestinian frustration with Israeli occupation and settlement building in the West Bank, the complete lack of progress in peace efforts and their own fractured leadership have fed the recent unrest.

Israel says incitement by Palestinian leaders and media is a main cause of the violence.

(Source / 28.05.2016)

Iran regime arrests 8 for producing music videos

NCRI – Iran’s fundamentalist regime has arrested eight people for producing music videos, the regime’s prosecutor general in Tehran, Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, told the judiciary’s news agency Mizan Online on Saturday.

“Eight people producing obscene music videos, whose clips were broadcast on a famous anti-revolutionary television channel, were arrested in Tehran last week,” he said.

He claimed that their charges will be reviewed by the special court of culture and media.

The arrests come only days after 35 students who partied at a graduation ceremony in northern Iran were arrested and given 99 lashes each for violating the regime’s so-called morality code.

On May 16, the regime announced the arrest of eight people for working in “un-Islamic” online modelling networks, particularly on the photosharing app Instagram.

The head of the regime’s police in Tehran announced in April the recruitment of 7,000 plainclothes police in the capital to fight against so-called improper veiling by women.

The plainclothes agents are also responsible for monitoring “noise, harassment of women and women’s lack of Islamic veil inside cars,” he said.

Commenting on the Iranian regime’s recent crackdown in society, Ali Safavi of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said:

“This new wave of floggings and arrests are part of a wider crackdown by the Iranian regime at home, targeting in particular the youths and women. It clearly indicates the regime’s paranoia in the face of the Iranian people’s growing popular indignation. More than three years into Hassan Rouhani’s presidency, not even one of his promises have panned out, first and foremost domestically. Moderation by Rouhani is as farfetched as one could imagine.”

The mullahs’ regime has also launched a new clampdown on Iranians in the capital watching satellite television, banned by the fundamentalist authorities.

The regime’s suppressive state security forces last week carried out a swoop of districts in eastern Tehran, taking down satellite dishes from rooftops.

The regime has been working hard to block Iranians’ access to satellite television stations by jamming signals. It aims to prevent the Iranian people from becoming privy to its egregious and nefarious conduct inside and outside of Iran or to be informed of anti-government protest, strikes and other activities by the Iranian Resistance.

Last July, an Iranian cleric Mullah Mir Ahmadi told Iranian state television: “Satellite television is more dangerous than an atomic bomb.”

He claimed that that satellite channels are destroying the way people think, and he urged the regime’s officials to launch new satellite channels propagating the regime’s stances to combat the influence of anti-regime satellite channels.

Despite regular crackdowns on satellite viewers, producers and distributors, regime officials have admitted that increasing numbers of Iranians are watching satellite television channels in Iran.

The head of cultural affairs in the regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said on January 29, 2015 that over 60 percent of Iranians watch satellite television channels.

Senior officials of the regime have admitted that 40 percent of Iranian families have access to major opposition satellite channel Simaye Azadi.

Operating from Europe, prominent non-profit 24/7 Iranian opposition channel Simaye Azadi, or ‘Iran National Television’ (INTV), broadcasts news and information to Iranians around the world via satellite and the internet.

The regime has stepped up internet censorship, blocking around five million websites dedicated to arts, social issues and news and filtering the contents of blogs and social media. It also tracks down and arrests many online activists inside Iran. Many have therefore turned to INTV as a means of obtaining real information without being traced.

INTV has played a unique role in breaking the mullahs’ censorship and providing the Iranian people with uncensored news and flow of information.

It is banned in Iran for reports that expose the violation of human rights perpetuated by the mullahs and for raising awareness among millions of Iranians of the regime’s fundamentalism, suppression of ethnic minorities, meddling in the affairs of other countries, and particularly about their support for terrorism in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the region.

INTV provides constant news, breaking news, talk shows, live question and answer sessions, art and cultural programs, special programs for the youth and women, and political satire to millions of Iranians all across Iran who tune in to watch with their satellite dishes. The Iranian regime’s officials on scores of occasions have warned against the growing popularity of this channel.

Culture Minister Ali Jannati has said that in Tehran, over 70 percent of citizens watch satellite channels.

INTV relies heavily on volunteer work of Iranians all over the world and provides for its expenses solely through donations of Iranians inside and outside of Iran as well as citizens of other countries who support the cause of human rights and freedom in Iran.

Gholamreza Khosravi, an activist of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, PMOI (Mujahedin-e Khalq, MEK), was executed in Iran on June 1, 2014, on the charge of ‘enmity against God’ for giving monetary assistance to the Sima-ye Azadi station.

(Source / 28.05.2016)

French journalists urge freedom for imprisoned Palestinian journalist Omar Nazzal


French journalists issued the following call to French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, calling on Valls to demand freedom for Omar Nazzal and other imprisoned Palestinian journalists. Nazzal, a member of the General Secretariat of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, is among 19 Palestinian journalists held in Israeli jails; he is imprisoned under administrative detention without charge or trial. Several more journalists are also held under administrative detention or charged with “incitement” for posting about the situation in Palestine on social media:

Dear Prime Minister,

French journalists’ syndicates (SNJ, SNJ-CGT, CFDT Journalists), members of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ, comprising 600,000 members worldwide), address you during your visit to Israel to alert you to the grave situation of Palestinian journalists and their union, PJS, victims of the repressive policies of the Israeli security forces.

Recently, Omar Nazzal, one of the leaders of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, was arrested by the Israeli army on his way to the General Assembly of the European Federation of Journalists in Sarajevo, in which our three unions participated on 25 and 26 April.

Against this denial of democracy, we agreed with all of the syndicates present in Bosnia with the statements of the President of the International Federation, Jim Boumelha, who said that he was “shocked to learn that a participant in a conference of European journalists’ unions has been arrested by Israeli Authorities on the way to the General Meeting in Sarajevo and thrown into prison.”

We have since learned that our colleague was ordered to the Etzion detention center for several months.

Aside from his position in the Syndicate, Omar Nazzal was an editor of Palestine Al-Yaum (Palestine Today), a television channel whose office in Ramallah was recently closed by the Israeli army. Palestine al-Yaum is accused of “inciting” Palestinians to violence, including through televising denunciations of the occupation and colonization. Many other Palestinian media have been closed in recent months.

Since October 2015, 43 journalists have been imprisoned by the Israelis, according to the Committee to Support Palestinian Journalists based in New York.

Increasingly, the freedom to move and inform for Palestinian journalists is systematically inhibited by the Israeli authorities.

Mr. Prime Minister, the French syndicates of the IFJ call upon you to intervene urgently with your interlocutors in Israel for the freedom of Omar Nazzal.

End impunity for those responsible for abuses against our Palestinian brothers and sisters.

They must have real freedom to move and report in accordance with international conventions on freedom of the press and respect for the right of expression.

Paris, 23 May 2016

French original (via Agence Media Palestine)

Les syndicats de journalistes français (SNJ, SNJ-CGT, CFDT Journalistes) membres de la Fédération internationale des Journalistes (FIJ, forte de 600.000 membres dans le monde) s’adressent à vous à l’occasion de votre visite en Israël pour vous alerter sur la situation extrêmement préoccupante des journalistes palestiniens et de leur syndicat (PJS) victimes d’une politique répressive des forces de sécurité israéliennes.

Tout dernièrement, Omar Nazzal, l’un des dirigeants du syndicat des journalistes palestiniens, a été arrêté par l’armée israélienne alors qu’il se rendait à l’Assemblée générale de la Fédération européenne des journalistes à Sarajevo à laquelle nos trois syndicats participaient les 25 et 26 avril.

Contre ce déni de démocratie, nous avons souscrit avec l’ensemble des syndicats présents en Bosnie aux condamnations du président de la Fédération internationale Jim Boumelha qui s’est dit « choqué d’apprendre qu’un participant à un congrès de syndicats de journalistes européens ait pu être arrêté par les autorités israéliennes en route pour l’AG de Sarajevo et jeté en prison sans motif ».

Depuis, nous avons appris que notre confrère se trouvait en détention au centre d’Etzion pour plusieurs mois.

Hormis ces fonctions syndicales, Omar Nazzal est rédacteur en chef de Palestine Al Yaum (« Palestine aujourd’hui »), une chaîne de télévision dont le bureau à Ramallah a récemment été fermé par l’armée israélienne. Palestine Al Yaum est accusée d’« inciter » les Palestiniens à la violence, ce qui inclut y compris les dénonciations de l’occupation et de la colonisation. De nombreux autres médias palestiniens ont été fermés ces derniers mois.

Depuis octobre 2015, quarante-trois journalistes ont été emprisonnés par les Israéliens, selon le Comité de soutien aux journalistes palestiniens, basé à New York.

De plus la liberté de circuler et d’informer pour les journalistes palestiniens est remise en cause systématiquement par les autorités israéliennes.

M. le Premier ministre, les syndicats français avec la FIJ vous demandent instamment et urgemment d’intervenir auprès de vos interlocuteurs en Israël pour qu’Omar Nazzal soit libéré.

Que cesse l’impunité dont bénéficient les responsables des exactions envers nos confrères et consoeurs palestinien-nes.

Qu’ils aient une réelle liberté de circuler et d’informer dans le respect des conventions internationales sur la liberté de la presse et le respect du droit d’expression.

Paris, le 23 mai 2016

(Source / 28.05.2016)

Settlers set Palestinian olive trees on fire

NABLUS, (PIC)– Jewish settlers set Palestinian agricultural land on fire in southern Nablus on Friday afternoon. The Urif village council chairman, Yousef Shehada, said that around 40 settlers from the Yitzhar settlement crept into the land cultivated with olive trees and set fire to the land lot. He added that the land lot was located in between Urif and Assira al-Qabaliya villages, adding that firefighters rushed to put off the blaze.

(Source / 28.05.2016)

The Palestinians imprisoned by Israel for their Facebook posts


By  Asa Winstanley

The propaganda goes that Israel is the “only democracy in the Middle East”. But for anyone familiar with the realities that Israel imposes on the Palestinians and on its neighbours, this has always been a cruel joke.

The West Bank, occupied in violation of international law by Israel since 1967, is for Palestinians a military dictatorship imposed by Israel. The 600,000 or so (estimates vary) violent Israeli colonists that live in the West Bank settlements are the direct beneficiaries of this dictatorship. For the settlers, the West Bank is an anything goes zone. They can literally get away with murder against Palestinians.

There is actually existing apartheid in the West Bank – this is not an analogy, this a fact. There are different sets of laws applied by the same regime – Israel – on different populations depending on their ethnic and religious identities. For Jews, Israeli civil law applies (except in extremely rare circumstances), but Palestinians have military law imposed on them, robbing them of even the most basic rights.

The system of “military justice” that Israel imposes on Palestinians is more accurately described as a kangaroo court system.

The convictions rate is a stark 99.74 per cent.

The situation is so bad that leading Israeli human rights group B’Tselem this week declared it would no longer cooperate with the military justice system because of the way it works to “cover up unlawful acts and protect perpetrators”.

Two recent cases demonstrate this amply.

Majd Yousef Atwan, a 22-year-old beauty school graduate from a village near Bethlehem, was imprisoned for more than a month after allegedly posting “incitement” on Facebook. Israel claimed that she her entry on the social media site praised an April bomb attack that targeted a bus in Jerusalem. She was released last week.

“Your occupation to our land does not need ‘incitement’ for our people to revolt. I am part of an occupied people … so don’t expect me to greet you with flowers instead of anger,” Atwanreportedly said in response to the charges during her trial in Ofer military court.

Needless to say, Israeli settlers who openly call for “death to the Arabs” and routinely speak out in praise of Israeli terrorists such as Baruch Goldstein (who perpetrated the infamous 1994 Hebron mosque massacre) never receive such sentences for “incitement”.

The case of the young poet Dareen Tatour is even more stark.

Tatour’s only “crime” was to write a poem which called for Palestinians to resist the Israeli occupation and the ongoing colonisation of Palestinian land. “Resist, my people, resist them,” the poem stated, going on to condemn the murder last year by settlers of the 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha, who was burned to death along with most of his family. The poem also condemned the killing of Hadil Hashlamoun in Hebron last year, a defenceless young Palestinian woman shot dead by Israeli army murderers.

The poem was cited as “evidence” in the Nazareth court’s case against her. She was arrested in October last year, spent three months in prison, and was moved to house arrest in January. “It is ironic, but not surprising, that I was sent to jail for protesting the killing of my people whereas actual Israeli killers roam free,” Tatour told the Electronic Intifada.

Tatour is a Palestinian citizen of Israel, and so theoretically has some protections under Israeli law that Palestinians in the West Bank do not. But her case is an ample demonstration of how even Palestinians within Israel do not have equal citizenship. “My case, and many others, proves yet again that Israel’s democracy is a farce,” she told the Electronic Intifada. “If it is democratic, it’s only democratic towards Jews.”

These cases are only two of more than 150 such cases: Palestinians arrested by Israel over Facebook postings. And 16 journalists have also been imprisoned by Israel for free speech “crimes”. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Commission says that a special Israeli unit monitors Palestinian social media in order to clamp down on expressions of dissent. The Palestinian Authority is also involved in similar repression: arresting and detaining young critics of its regime who express themselves online.

Israel’s claim to be a democracy does not stand up to scrutiny. As long as it continues to deny Palestinians basic rights to life and to speech, the Israeli regime must be opposed.

(Source / 28.05.2016)

Border policeman who killed 16-year old Palestinian boy won’t be charged

A Palestinian youth shows a black sponge bullet shot by the Israeli police.

FILE – A Palestinian youth shows a black sponge bullet shot by the Israeli police, during clashes of Palestinian youth with Israeli border police at a checkpoint between Shuafat refugee camp and Jerusalem, November 7, 2014.

Ramallah, May 24, 2016—Israeli internal investigators closed the case without charging the border policeman who shot 16-year-old Mohammad Sunukrut’s head with a sponge-tipped bullet on August 31, 2014, causing his death.

The East Jerusalem teen died on September 7, one week after an Israeli border policeman shot the right side of his head with a black sponge-tipped bullet. The bullet caused a skull fracture and brain hemorrhage. Although Israeli officials initially asserted that Sunukrut was shot on the leg, hitting his head afterward, an autopsy revealed that the sponge-tipped bullet struck his head and was the cause of death.

“Regulations regarding the use of sponge-tipped bullets are only meaningful if there are consequences for individuals who do not follow them,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at Defense for Children International – Palestine. “In this case, Mohammad Sunukrut bore the consequences, while his killer is permitted to go free.”

Sponge-tipped bullets are one of several crowd control weapons Israeli police and soldiers use to disperse Palestinian protests. Composed of an aluminum base, plastic body and foam tip, sponge-tipped bullets are “significantly less dangerous than rubber-coated bullets,” but still pose danger when aimed at the upper body, according to a 2013 report by human rights group B’Tselem. The report states that an Israeli police procedure restricts their use to the lower body, a distance of 2-50 meters, and circumstances where “less harsh means” of dispersal have first been attempted.

Since October 2015, DCIP has documented 17 upper-body injuries among Palestinian children across the Occupied Palestinian Territory due to Israeli forces’ improper use of crowd control weapons. In 2015, at least three children lost their eyesight and three others suffered serious injury after being struck by sponge-tipped bullets.

Hatem Abu Mayali, 13, from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, was struck on the head by a sponge-tipped bullet on April 2. Hatem told DCIP that he was walking to school with his brother when he saw clashes taking place in Ras Al-Amoud, where his school is located. Hatem tried to flee, but something hit the back of his head, knocking him down. He only realized he was injured when he saw a sponge-tipped bullet beside him.

Moments later, around six soldiers physically assaulted and dragged him to a nearby settlement before calling an ambulance, Hatem told DCIP. At Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in West Jerusalem, Hatem was admitted to the emergency room and received 23 stitches. Three days later, on April 5, Israeli forces detained Hatem for questioning. They released him later that day.

Since January 2014, DCIP has documented 62 child fatalities in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, by Israeli forces. Of these, DCIP knows of only one instance where a member of the Israeli forces, Ben Deri, was indicted for fatally shooting Nadeem Nawara with live ammunition in May of 2014.

According to 2014 statistics compiled by Israeli human rights group, Yesh Din, only 3.5 percent of the 229 investigations of soldiers suspected of committing a crime against Palestinians in the West Bank or Gaza, resulted in indictments. The report further states: “More grave incidents, in which Palestinian civilians were either killed or wounded, hardly ever led to indictments.”

Israeli forces began using sponge-tipped bullets in Israel and East Jerusalem after the Orr Commission outlawed the use of rubber-coated metal bullets in Israel and East Jerusalem in 2003. However, the B’Tselem report noted that at the time of its publication, there were no known incidents where sponge-tipped bullets were used to break up Jewish-only protests.

(Source / 28.05.2016)

Israel issued 729 admin detention orders in 2016

Administrative detention is illegal all over the globe unless in Israel

Israeli occupation has issued, renewed 729 administrative detention orders since start of 2016, the Palestine Prisoners’ Centre for Studies (PPCS) said on Friday.

The reason for the increasing number of administrative detention is the Israeli attempt to quash the current Intifada, which started in October

Days of Palestine, West Bank -Israeli occupation has issued, renewed 729 administrative detention orders since start of 2016, the Palestine Prisoners’ Centre for Studies (PPCS) said on Friday.

PPCS Spokesman Riyad al-Ashqar said administrative detention orders increased by 35 per cent compared to the same period last year, when Israel issued 493 orders.

He noted that 433 out of the 729 were renewed administrative detention orders, some renewed for the eighth time including the case of Mohamed abu-Fannounah, 50, from Al-Khalil. He has been under renewable administrative detention since July 7, 2013.

Al-Ashqar said that the reason for the increasing number of administrative detention is the Israeli attempt to quash the current Intifada, which started in October.

He called on international organisations to work to put an end to the illegal practice of administrative detention and on the Palestinian Authority to go to the international courts to seek an end to the process.

(Source / 28.05.2016)