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BBC Director General faces claims that political pressure led BBC to drop film on ‘Jewish exile’

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Six leading pro-Palestinian organisations have written to the BBC’s Director General asking for answers over the pulling of a documentary which claims that the mass Jewish exodus from Jerusalem in 70 AD may never have happened.
The documentary,Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Story, was due to be shown on BBC Four, but disappeared from the schedule at the last minute, leaving viewers confused.
Its director, Ilan Ziv, has accused the BBC of bowing to political pressure in its decision to suddenly remove a film which it had been promoting widely.
The supposed exile of nearly 2,000 years ago is used by Zionists to justify what they refer to as the Jewish ‘right of return’ to Palestine, and to colonise Palestinian land.
Publicising the programme, the BBC’sRadio Timesmagazine wrote: “… evidence revealed [in the programme], suggesting that the Jewish exile from Jerusalem in AD 70 may never have actually happened, has…severe ramifications for relations in the region.”
Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Storywas due to be shown on 25 April as part of BBC Four’s series on archaeology. After failing to receive any reason since then for its non-broadcast, other than a response from the Complaints Department that it “did not fit the season editorially”, the six organisations have now written directly to Lord Hall, the BBC’s Director General.
The organisations are: Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Middle East Monitor, British Committee for Universities for Palestine, Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, Friends of Al Aqsa and Jews for Justice for Palestinians.
Sarah Colborne, Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “We find it deeply disturbing that, despite a number of queries, the BBC has not seen fit to publicly answer Ilan Ziv’s accusations of political pressure being a factor in the disappearance of this documentary from the BBC Four schedule. The BBC is funded by licence-fee payers and has a duty to be open and honest about its decisions, but in this case there has been, and continues to be, a total lack of transparency.””
Text of the open letter to the BBC Director General:
Dear Lord Hall
It has now been more than a month since the BBC prevented the documentaryJerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Storyfrom being broadcast, and it has yet to provide a credible explanation for this decision.
Individuals who have written to the BBC have been told that the documentary did not fit ‘editorially’ with BBC Four’s season on archaeology, but have not been told in what way it did not fit, or why this was not noticed by BBC producers until almost the moment it was due to air.
With no comprehensible reasons being offered by the BBC, licence-fee payers are left with the words of the documentary-maker, Ilan Ziv, who, in his blog detailing the BBC’s reasoning over pulling his film, describes ‘a mixture of incompetence, political naivete [and] conscious or subconscious political pressure’.
It is the potential of political pressure, whether conscious or subconscious, being involved in the pulling of this documentary that most concerns us. If any has been applied, and succumbed to, then the BBC’s commitment to impartiality has been compromised.
We write to ask if a reason can be provided for removingJerusalemfrom the BBC’s schedule that can disprove the reasons given by Mr Ziv.
Yours sincerely
Sarah Colborne, Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Daud Abdullah, Middle East Monitor
Jonathan Rosenhead,  British Committee for the Universities of Palestine
Abe Hayeem, Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine
Ismail Patel, Friends of Al Aqsa
Diana Neslen, Jews for Justice for Palestinians

(Source / 13.06.2013)

Father: Israeli interrogator threatened son with rape

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) – An Israeli court on Thursday released a Palestinian teenager from Isawiya in East Jerusalem on bail.

The father of 13-year-old Ismail Tawfiq Muheisin says he paid a bail of 1,000 shekels and signed a third-party bail of 5,000 shekels.

The boy, added his father, is barred from approaching a hill near Hadassah Hospital, and he is not allowed to talk to his friends who were accused of arson for three months.

Speaking to Ma’an, the father alleged that an Israeli interrogator threatened to “bring a Sudanese man to rape the boy” in order to force him to reveal information.

He says the judge in the case ordered an investigation into the claim.

Israeli police detained six teenagers from Isawiya and accused them of setting fire to straw in hilltops in the village.

(Source / 13.06.2013)

Israel Arrests Director of Al-Aqsa Mosque

JERUSALEM, June 12, 2013 (WAFA) – Israeli police arrested Tuesday night the director of al- Aqsa Mosque, Najeh Bkairat, at Allenby bridge crossing between the West Bank and Jordan upon his return to Jerusalem, Waqf sources said Wednesday.

Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Adnan Husseini and Director of the Islamic Waqf Council Sheikh Abdel Azzim Salhab condemned the arrest, which they described as a violation of international law and conventions.

Bkairat has been banned from entering the Mosque area for seven consecutive times and for six months each time.

(Source / 13.06.2013)

Hamas urges world community to pressure Israel to stop settlement activity

GAZA, (PIC)– Hamas movement called on the world community pressure the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) into stopping its Judaization of and settlement drive in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.

Hamas strongly condemned the IOA endorsement of the construction of hundreds of new housing units in the West Bank and the continuation of excavations and diggings in the vicinity of the Aqsa mosque.

The statement on Thursday also called on the Palestinian Authority to halt all forms of security coordination and “absurd negotiations” with the IOA in response to such activity.

Hamas asked the PA to adopt daring decisions against the settlement drive and not to be lured by an alleged “economic peace” plan.

Hamas said that the IOA ferocious settlement and Judaization activity would never succeed in changing history or impose new de facto conditions.

(Facebook / 13.06.2013)

Report from Hassan Karajah’s latest military court hearing

Tuesday, June 4th was the latest hearing in the case of the detained human rights defender Hassan Karajah. Before the hearing I met with Hassan’s fiancé Sundos who told me about Hassan and his case. Sundos and Hassan were engaged in December 2012, just one month before his arrest, and had planned to be married at the end of this month. Unfortunately, they must now wait until Hassan is released to have their wedding. Hassan has been detained by Israel since the Israeli military took him from his home in the early hours of 23rd January 2013 [1]. For the first thirty-nine days of his detention, Hassan was kept in solitary confinement and interrogated for fourteen to twenty hours each day. During this time he was held in a two meter by two meter cell, barely big enough to fit his body. For the first twenty days of his detention, Hassan was denied access to his lawyer.

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Hassan was transferred from Beer Sheva prison in the Negev Desert, where he is currently being held, to Ofer military court for Tuesday’s hearing. In Beer Sheva Hassan shares a cell with seven other prisoners; they receive enough food for two of them and must share it between all eight. When Hassan was brought into the courtroom, it was obvious that his physical condition has deteriorated since his arrest; he has lost a lot of weight and two teeth, and the brutal interrogation process has significantly aggravated his nerve damage. Hassan was not permitted to take his prescribed medication with him on the night of his arrest and was initially denied his medication in prison. Under pressure from his lawyer, prison officials eventually gave him the correct medicine but at half the prescribed dosage. Hassan is therefore currently not taking any medication for his condition, instead exercising inside the prison to try and rehabilitate himself.

Hassan is a respected and admired human rights defender whose most recent position was youth coordinator for the Stop the Wall campaign, a grassroots organisation seeking to tear down the illegal apartheid wall that Israel has been constructing on Palestinian land since 2002. Hassan previously worked as a youth coordinator for the Partnership for Development Project, an umbrella group for three Palestinian civil society organisations: Tamer Institution, Ma’an Development Centre and Bissan Centre for Research and Development. He was also a youth ambassador for the Arab Thought Forum and represented Palestinian youth in the many Arab League Conferences in Syria, Lebanon, Tunisia, Turkey, Sweden and Austria. It is highly likely that these activities and particularly his overseas travel placed Hassan on the Israeli radar and led to his arrest. Arbitrary arrest is a risk that Palestinians must consciously take in order to resist illegal Israeli occupation and defend their internationally sanctioned human rights.

On the day of Hassan’s hearing I met Sundos outside the military court whilst we waited to enter. Expecting the trial to be a rather sombre affair, I was surprised to find her happy and joyful; she was visibly excited to be able to see Hassan for the first time since his last hearing in April. Hassan’s father also attended the hearing on Tuesday, seeing his son for the first time since Hassan’s arrest in January. Hassan’s family, like many Palestinian families, are not unfamiliar with the imprisonment of their loved ones in Israeli jail. Hassan’s younger sister Sumoud was released as part of a prisoner exchange in 2011 after serving two years of a twenty year sentence, and his brother Muntasser was arrested in September 2012 and sentenced to ten months in prison and a 2000 shekel fine [2].

Hassan has been held for over four months and is still awaiting his sentencing. The allegations against him include membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), an illegal organisation according to Israeli law along with all other Palestinian political parties. Hassan is also charged with harbouring ties to the militant group Hezbollah, deemed an enemy of Israel. The evidence behind these charges is extremely tenuous: Hassan arranged a sound system for a PFLP party and took a trip to Lebanon, where Hezbollah is based, in 2012. On Tuesday, at the request of his defense team, Hassan’s court hearing was postponed until July 9th to give the defense an opportunity to contest the evidence against him. Thus, Hassan’s family and friends must wait at least another three weeks for a verdict.

Hassan’s arrest is part of Israel’s deliberate repression of Palestinian human rights defenders involved in activism against the occupation. Stop the Wall has been the target of Israeli repression before: the organisation’s Ramallah offices were raided by the Israeli military in May 2012 and two laptops, three hard drives and ten memory cards were stolen3. Nor is Hassan the first of the campaign’s prominent members to be arrested: both the coordinator, Jamal Juma, and the previous youth coordinator, Mohammed Othman, were arrested in 2009 and later released without charge [4].

In an interview published by Electronic Intifada before his arrest, Hassan predicted that Stop the Wall would face further repression by Israel as the youth movement against the occupation continues to grow.  He remained undeterred:

“We are apparently asked to sit at home and watch our last lands being confiscated, our homes demolished and thousands of Palestinians being taken away to Israeli jails, many even without trials or charges. But we will not sit at home and we will not be silent.” [5]

During his short appearance in the military courtroom, Hassan remained defiant, joking and laughing. As he left the courtroom he raised two fingers in the peace sign to his supporters, a gesture of solidarity in resistance.

Notes

[1] link to stopthewall.org01/23/free-human-rights-defender-and-stop-wall-activist-hassan-karajah

[2] http://www.addameer.org/etemplate.php?id=562

[3] http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/maureen-clare-murphy/israeli-forces-raid-ramallah-offices-stop-wall-steal-computers-and-hard

[4] link to www.waronwant.orglatest-news/16758-free-the-anti-wall-activists

[5] http://electronicintifada.net/content/we-will-not-be-silenced-stop-wall-youth-activist-speaks-repression-and-resistance/11304

(Source / 13.06.2013)

#GazaUnderAttack | Israeli Army Opens Fire At Palestinians In Khan Younis

[Thursday morning June 13 2013] Israeli military vehicles, stationed across the border with Gaza, opened fire at Palestinian farmers and homes in Abasan Al-Kabeera town, east of the southern West Bank district of Khan Younis.

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Eyewitnesses have reported the soldiers, stationed on the eastern border of Abasan, fired several rounds of live ammunition in an attempt to force the residents out of their lands, close to the border.

The farmers left lands, and their agricultural equipment, as they ran for their lives.

The area is one of many border areas, subject to frequent similar attacks targeting the farmers, their lands and their homes.

Soldiers also repeatedly carry out limited invasions into border areas, bulldoze and uproot farmlands and destroy property.

On Tuesday [June 11], a number of armored Israeli military vehicles invaded an area east of the Al-Maghazi refugee camp, in central Gaza, no clashes or injuries were reported.

(Source / 13.06.2013)

Note under a rock: “We’re stealing your land”

It was only days after it had been placed that a farmer accidentally found a piece of paper that stated he was no longer the owner of his own land. The undated paper, in Hebrew and Arabic, had been hidden under a rock in the farmer’s fields in the village of Bruqin, occupied Palestine. It said that the farmer’s land was being taken for the expansion of the nearby illegal Israeli settler colony of Bruchin [also spelled as Brukhin].

This farmer was not the only one to be informed about a crime in such a way. More land owners, including the village’s mayor, received the same notifications. Additionally, this week the Jerusalem Post published an announcement that more than 500 new houses would be built on land stolen from Bruqin and its neighbouring villages Sarta and Kafr-ad-Dik (the article itself made no mention of the villages, implying they don’t exist). The exact number of dunums of land being stolen is not clear. Villagers have been given 60 days to file official complaints with the occupation authorities. New houses may be built any time now.

Area of land stolen from Bruqin, Sarta and Kafr-ad-Dik (Photo by Stop the Wall)

Area of land stolen from Bruqin, Sarta and Kafr-ad-Dik

The illegal settler colony of Bruchin started off as a military base in 1999. Not long after, the first houses were built on a hilltop; today, there are around 50 of them, with some still standing empty. According to residents of Palestinian villages, those and any newly built houses will be free for incoming illegal settlers. This is one of the tricks the Israeli Apartheid state uses to increase the number of illegal settler colonisers in occupied Palestine: to provide them with free houses built on land stolen from its Palestinian owners.

All settler colonies in Palestine are illegal under international law. In 2012, the illegal settler colony of Bruchin was “legalised” as an “authorised settlement” by that same power that does not respect human rights nor international – or even its own – laws. The latest announced land theft in Bruqin, Sarta, and Kafr-ad-Dik is just another logical step in this crime.

Bruqin is situated 13 km west of the city of Salfit; the industrial zone of the illegal settler colony Ariel can be seen from the village, as is Bruchin. In addition to land theft, constant military invasions, settler and wild pig attacks, the village is under severe stress from sewage and untreated wastewater that is released from the settlement and its factories. Pumped underground, chemical wastewater contaminates local water resources and causes immense damage to the natural environment; the settler sewage river that runs through the village is just one example of such behaviour. Residents say that cancer cases in Bruqin are much higher than Palestinian average; children in particular are suffering.

The location of Bruqin, Sarta, and Kafr-ad-Dik, as well as other neighbouring villages, is strategically important: the Salfit Governorate boasts some of the most productive water zones of the Western Aquifer, a key water resource in Palestine. They also fall in the way of the “Ariel finger”, the Zionist project that intends to annex Palestinian land by connecting the many illegal settler colonies in the area into one big entity. It would also cut the West Bank in two, putting even more pressure on the Palestinian people.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Ouv-ibfMk9k

(Source / 12.06.2013)

Committee: Israel soldiers force Muslim to drink wine at gunpoint

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli intelligence officers forced a Palestinian man from Beit Ummar to drink wine at gunpoint on Tuesday evening, a local committee spokesman said.

An Israeli military patrol stopped Muhammad Khalil Abu Dayyah, 24, from the Safa neighborhood near Beit Ummar and forced him into a military tower at the entrance to Beit Ummar, said Muhammad Ayyad Awad, spokesman of Beit Ummar’s committee against Israel’s separation wall and settlements.

Abu Dayyah was being asked to give names of young men who participate in clashes against Israeli forces in the Hebron-district town, Awad said.

When Abu Dayyah refused to cooperate with the soldiers, they brought an intelligence officer who took out a list of names of young locals and asked him to identify them.

Abu Dayyah refused to give any information, and the intelligence officer pointed a rifle at the back of his head and ordered him to drink a bottle of wine.

Awad said that after Abu Dayyah drank the bottle, he passed out for an hour. He was awoken by Israeli soldiers who then threw him out of the military installation, he added.

Locals who witnessed Abu Dayyah being taken away by Israeli forces took him home after the incident, confirming that he appeared under the influence and smelling of alcohol.

The consumption of alcohol is prohibited in Islam.

(Source / 12.06.2013)

Israel Soldiers Breech Lebanon Border

Lebanese army sources reported Wednesday [June 12 2013] that a number of Israeli military vehicles advanced approximately 15 meters into Lebanese territory, and that Lebanon complained to the UNIFIL.

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The Lebanese army said that two Israeli tanks and two armored vehicles breached the border, and that the Lebanese Border Guards lodged a complaint to the United Nations United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL), asking them to order the army to withdraw.

The UNIFIL contacted the Israeli side and managed to have the army withdraw in order to avoid tension or “be dragged into conflicts in the region”.

On Wednesday evening, the Israeli Air Force breached Lebanese airspace by flying over areas in central and southern Lebanon.

(Source / 12.06.2013)

Netanyahu Not Really Considering Two-State Solution, Says Danon

Israeli lawmaker Danny Danon (L), then a deputy parliament speaker, stands near an Israeli police officer in front of the Dome of the Rock on the compound known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City, July 20, 2010.
“The Emperor has no clothes!” the little boy shouted in the classic Danish fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen. Lucky for us, we have a little boy just like that to shout the news from the rooftops and to expose a reality that we all tend to deny. We have a little boy to point out all the lies and false promises made by kings, presidents and prime ministers. That boy’s name is Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon.

True, Danon isn’t really a little boy anymore. He is actually the deputy minister of defense. Nevertheless, this week he said something that most of us don’t like to hear: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of his party, keeps calling for talks with the Palestinians because he knows that Israel will never reach an agreement with them.

In an interview with the Times of Israel on June 8, the deputy minister of defense told the truth that we all deny. He said that the ruling coalition is “staunchly opposed to a two-state solution and would block the creation of a Palestinian state if such a proposal ever came to a vote.”

Jaws must have dropped in the prime minister’s office. How is it possible that this boy, Danon, who even received a special treat in being appointed deputy minister of defense, is shouting the truth from the rooftops? Danon wasn’t embarrassed about it, either. He certainly didn’t mince his words:

“Look at the government. There was never a government discussion, resolution or vote about the two-state solution. If you will bring it to a vote in the government — nobody will bring it to a vote, it’s not smart to do it — but if you bring it to a vote, you will see that the majority of Likud ministers, along with the Jewish Home [party], will be against it.”

The cat is out of the bag.

On the other hand, it isn’t really that surprising. Everyone could see it. Netanyahu and his government say one thing, but in practice they do everything they can to avoid implementing the one idea that can ensure peace with the Palestinians. What I mean, of course, is a two-state solution, an end to the conflict and Israeli recognition of a Palestinian state in exchange for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

The fact is that the tactic of saying one thing while doing the opposite was not the brainchild of Netanyahu and his government. Several other prime ministers did the same thing before him. The most sophisticated of them all was former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. This is what he did exactly 11 years ago on June 24, 2002, when then-US president George W. Bush presented him with his “Roadmap to Peace.” The plan called for an immediate cease-fire as a first stage. The second stage, to be completed by late 2003, called for a freeze on settlement construction and the creation of a Palestinian state with temporary borders. The third stage, to be completed by the end of 2005, was a final status agreement with international associates and supervisors.

So why was Sharon the most sophisticated of the lot? Because the first thing he did was to say “yes.” After consulting with his closest advisers, he immediately announced that he accepted the plan, even praising it. However, he also asked for 11 specific reservations to the Statement of Principles — just for protocol, of course.

Anyone who knew Sharon and his opinions was well aware that he would never be willing to accept Bush’s Roadmap. He would never agree to accept the establishment of a Palestinian state headed by the one man he detested more than anyone, then-Palestinian chairman Yasser Arafat.

We should remember that Arafat was then the head of the Palestinian Authority, and 2002 was a tough year for the intifada. Back then, Sharon used to take every visiting congressman and every European diplomat to the summit of Jabal Harasa in Samaria to show them Israel’s “narrow waistline” and the looming dangers if — God forbid — the territory is handed over to Arafat. On a clear day, they could see the ships docked in the port of Ashdod, the entire city of Tel Aviv and airplanes taking off and landing at Ben Gurion Airport. On the other hand, offering real resistance to such an important component of Bush’s foreign policy would be imprudent and lead to significant pressure on Israel. He knew that he could never say no to the US president, who was Israel’s closest friend on Capitol Hill at that time.

That is why Sharon decided to say “yes” but at the same time pulled a rabbit out of his hat that would kill Bush’s vision softly: unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip. In other words, his idea was to sacrifice Gaza, dismantle the Jewish settlements there and evacuate the settlers in order to save the West Bank.

In hindsight, it is safe to say that his plan succeeded. The disengagement is remembered negatively due to the firing of Qassam rockets and mortars at the settlements of southern Israel and an incessant series of clashes between Israel and the Gaza Strip. At the same time, Jewish settlements in the West Bank expanded and multiplied, and the Roadmap became obsolete.

Four years after the disengagement, in June 2009, Netanyahu gave a speech at Bar Ilan University that stunned everyone who knew him.

“I told President [Barack] Obama in Washington: If we agree on the essence, the terminology will not pose a problem. I am stating the essence here clearly: If we get a guarantee of demilitarization, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, we are ready to agree to a real peace agreement, a demilitarized Palestinian state side by side with the Jewish state.”

Another four years of stalemate have passed, and we needed Netanyahu’s protégé Danon to reveal the big secret, even if he did so without the prior approval of the head of his party. Netanyahu is only saying “yes” so as not to upset Obama, just like Sharon tried not to upset Bush. Nevertheless, there is a big difference between the two of them. Sharon actually evacuated settlements, while Netanyahu only expands them.

So it is worth paying attention to Danny Danon, who naively told the truth, even if he’s not a little boy.

(Source / 12.06.2013)