THE GENESIS OF A PALESTINIAN ACTIVIST

  By Lucinda Cohen (Article from October 2017) 

ghassan with his parents

When I met Ghassan Najjar, in the WestBank village of Burin, I gained the impression of speaking with a young man considerably older than the 26-year-old before me. As he pointed out during our conversation, under Israeli occupation children have to grow upfast. It was in 2000 when Ghassan, aged 10, first came into contact with the Israelioccupiers. He was helping his father, Zidan, and other members of his family in their apple orchard on a ridge overlooking the village when they were attacked by a group of armed men from the nearby Brakha settlement who wanted the land for themselves. They shot Ghassan’s cousin in the leg while Israeli soldiers looked on.

Following a number of similar settler attacks the army prohibited Zidan from accessing his orchard, so he obtained a court ruling that confirmed his right to work on his land. However, the army promptly invalidated the ruling by declaring the land to be a closed military zone, after which the 1,500 apple trees and a well were destroyed. Zidan and hisfamily were barred from entry permanently. It was during that time that the army also seized 65 dunams (16 acres) of land What’s left of the apple orchard on top of a hill near Brakha belonging to Ghassan’s mother.

hill near brakha

It was unsurprising, then, that by the age of 15, Ghassan and other local boys would throw stones at the sight of soldiers for which he was arrested and charged. Ghassan was sentenced to six months in the juvenile section of HaSharon Prison in northern Israel [contravening the Third Geneva Convention, Article 4, which states: “protected persons accused of offences shall be detained in the occupied country, and if convicted they shall serve their sentences therein].

Four years later, Ghassan was charged again, this time accused of subversive activities against the Israeli state. For organising community events, such as flying kites decorated with Palestinian flags, and taking part in demonstrations to support local farmers experiencing settler attacks and land seizures, Ghassan was sentenced to one year and eight months in Megiddo Prison, again in northern Israel.

So when Israeli soldiers, using tear gas and stun bombs, attacked Burin Boys School on 26 August 2014(1), Ghassan, together with other villagers did not hesitate to rally in support of the teachers and pupils. Aged 24, Ghassan was the youngest in the group. The scene on their arrival was of Israeli soldiers surrounding the headmaster, Ibrahim Amur and his senior staff while the terrified pupils were locked in their classrooms with their teachers. Ibrahim, his senior teachers and the villagers told the soldiers to leave. They were ignored. “One soldier shouted to me that I  was a ‘son of a bitch’,” Ghassan told me, “but I ignored him. Then I saw him, together with some of the other soldiers, move in to arrest Ibrahim. Instinctively, I pushed the soldier away and then ran off. But the soldiers had no problems in identifying me.”

headmaster of burin boys school

The wheels were thus set in motion for Ghassan’s third prison sentence. 
That night, soldiers visited the homes of his brother, Abdullah, and his cousin, Zaid, who were not accused of any offence. Both young men were badly beaten and brought to Ghassan at his home where he lived with his parents. There they were ordered never to see Ghassan again.

 
Next, the soldiers set about vandalising the family home while shouting threats and insults at Ghassan’s elderly parents, after which they took him to a military post in nearby Huwwara. There, he was beaten so badly that he lost consciousness and was rushed to a hospital in Israel, near Tel Aviv where he Ghassan’s home after soldiers’ visit remained for two weeks. Because of laws prohibiting Palestinians living in the West Bank from freely entering Israel,his parents and other family members were not allowed to visit him. “On being discharged from hospital,” continued Ghassan, “I was taken to an interrogation centre in Israel near Petah Tikva which is run by Shin Bet [the internal Israeli intelligence services] and it was here I received the worst treatment. They wanted to break me, but didn’t succeed.” For two months, Ghassan was kept in isolation in a windowless basement cell measuring about 2m x 1.5m. “There was an electric light on continuously. I lost all track of time, not knowing whether it was day or night.”

ghassan's home

The interrogations started. Ghassan told me the officials wanted to know names of friends and associates. He described how he was seated in a chair with his hands tied behind his back for one to two days, allowed to visit the bathroom for five minutes every 6 hours. On other occasions he was laid handcuffed to a bed with his arms and legs outstretched. Despite the stifling heat, he was often refused permission to shower. Still in custody, Ghassan spent the next 14 months in Megiddo Prison. Here, the prisoners were divided into blocks of 120 prisoners according to their political affiliation. Ghassan’s block was for members of the Peoples’ Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Every block contained cells, each holding ten prisoners and equipped with electric rings for cooking. “The daily routine at Megiddo was crushing,” said Ghassan. “Prisoners remained in their cells during the day except for two hours in the morning and evening when they walked up and down corridors. Ten prisoners a day from each block were allowed to play sport for an hour, which they took turns in doing.” Prisoners received 400 shekels (£86) a month from the Palestinian Authority for food either from the canteen, run at a profit by the Israeli company Dadash(2), or from a shop for prisoners to prepare themselves. The canteen was expensive and the food inadequate and of poor quality: “For breakfast we would be given a single egg and a packet of crisps which cost ten shekels (£2.17).” So prisoners prepared their own meals.
However, it is the prison guards that give Megiddo its bad reputation. “We were subjected constantly to taunts, threats and beatings by prison guards. They would attack us at whim and pump tear gas into our cells, causing us virtually to suffocate in the crowded, enclosed space, then waiting for 3 minutes or so before providing oxygen. I was put into solitary confinement on about 14 occasions. I believe the prison authorities disliked me because I initiated classes for my cellmates in Palestinian history and  literacy. For them education was a threat.”

About a month into his detention at Megiddo, Ghassan first met his lawyer. Six months later, his mother received permission to visit her son, assisted by the Red Cross. From then on she could visit him quite regularly, although his father, aged over 70, who had also been imprisoned by the Israelis on a number of occasions, had to wait longer and subsequently was only permitted visits every 6-7 months.
After Megiddo, Ghassan was transferred to a punishment prison, Hadarim, also in northern Israel where he spent two weeks in isolation. Ghassan believes it was because he threatened to go on hunger strike that he was moved quickly to Gilbo’a Prison (again in northern Israel) where he stayed for a year until his release.
It was while he was at Gilbo’a, 18 months after his arrest, that Ghassan’s trial finally took place at Salem Military Court. “I was accused of attacking the soldier at the boys’ school and of subversive activity,” he explained.

ravshatz

iers

The District Army Commander gave evidence as well as the ‘ravshatz’ [security officer] from Yitzhar (another violent(3) religious settlement overlooking Burin) who had not been present at the school. He alleged Ghassan had attacked him on a number of  occasions previously.  Ghassan said it was on account of the ravshatz’s allegations that he was sentenced to 26 months and ordered to pay 7,000 shekels (approximately £1,520) to the soldier he pushed. The family paid the fine, against Ghassan’s wishes.

The ravshatz from Yitzhar talking to soldiers Ghassan described Gilbo’a as “a place of learning, a school for change rather than a place for becoming embittered.” Prisoners of all political persuasions, except for Hamas, lived together in one unit. They set up a daily routine consisting of classes, two hours reading, written tasks and sport in addition to preparing meals and watching TV. There were courses in Palestinian history, culture and crafts, economics and the his tory of colonisation and liberation struggles of other countries. Prisoners taught each other and Ghassan proudly showed me the certificate he was awarded for teaching Palestinian history. Similarly, students were awarded  diplomas for courses they had attended.

ghassan diplome
ghassan diplome1

“It was through the education I received in Gilbo’a that I learnt not all Jews were Zionists,” he explained, “and that my anger against our treatment by the Israelis and the Occupation should not be directed against all Jews, many of whom oppose what is happening to us.” It was also in Gilbo’a that Ghassan first went on hunger strike as an act of solidarity with Bilal Kayed, a Palestinian activist(4) who,  after spending 14 years in Israeli prisons, on the day of his release was imprisoned again without charge.

notebook

Disobedience tactics accompanied the initial call for Bilal’s release: “In every cell during morning roll call, prisoners would give Bilal Kayed’s name instead of their own.” The hunger strike started on 17 July 2015. “The evening before, we had received the coded message ‘Freedom awaits you’, meaning the strike would commence the following day,” explained Ghassan.

Ghassan said that within days of starting the strike, he and another prisoner were put in isolation – a small windowless cell where the temperature often rose to 45oC which  made his skin peel. On the sixteenth day, guards took away his underwear. He had no right to a shower during the 21 days of his strike. Most of the hunger strikers in Gilbo’a ended their action at 8.00pm on 7 August, following instructions from the unit organiser. However, Israeli officials forbade him from seeing Ghassan who was given the news of the strike’s end by a prison guard. Ghassan, therefore, refused to stop, adding that he would stop drinking water too. The strike organiser was called promptly to his cell.

Recovery following the strike was hard: the prison authorities did not provide salt and the prisoners were given cold water to drink, which they could not digest. Ghassan described how they resorted to drinking warm water from the bathroom.
Ghassan was released in September 2016 and returned home to a big celebration. But there were restrictions: for six months, he could only to walk in the streets around his house in the outskirts of Burin. However, this did not deter him from resuming his rôle as a community worker and activist. The Bilal Al-Najjar community centre which Ghassan had founded in 2007 was vandalised by Israeli soldiers in 2009 and 2010 and totally trashed in July 2013. Ten volunteers were beaten and twenty arrested. So since his release Ghassan has had to start afresh. He has formed the Target Association for Rural Development-Burin which holds classes, meetings and lectures, mainly for young people. With friends, he has also created a permaculture centre. In July 2017, despite personal threats he resurrected the kite festival attended by crowds of children and young people from the village and elsewhere. During the afternoon, soldiers and settlers appeared on a nearby hillside, exploding grenades(5).

community center

Bilal al Najjar Community Centre after army raid

kites3

“Aren’t you worried about being arrested again?” I asked Ghassan. He replied in his customary defiant manner: “I’m not afraid of arrest. Nothing will stop me from dedicating my life to fighting for a free Palestine. If I’m sent to prison again, so be it.”

(1) The school continues to be attacked by soldiers and settlers from Yitzhar, the last time being on 28 December 2017. See https://english.palinfo.com/news/2017/12/28/Student-injured-in- Burin-town-during-attack-by-settlers-and-soldiers See videos of settler attacks on https://972mag.com/watch-settlers-attack-palestinian-school-harass-students/126864/

(2) See an article by John Space of 20 April 2013 published in Palestine Monitor in which he describes how Israel is breaking international law (The Third Geneva Convention) by hiring a private company to run prison canteens: http://www.palestinemonitor.org/details.php?id=muq5pva3608yoq4z2f3ub

(3) Witnessed by the writer of this article during repeated visits to Burin.

(4) Kayed began his strike when he was placed under administrative detention without charge or trial on June 15, the day he was supposed to be released after serving more than 14 years for his affiliation with the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/08/pressure-mounts-israel-release-bilal-kayed- 160802071641071.html

(5) See the short film ‘Occupied Skies’ made about the festival in 2017 by Woody Morris and Daniel Easterman

Empowering Muslim women

muslima

By A.Z.

Prophet Muhammad PBUH said, “Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every believer.” [Ibn Majah]

It is clear from this hadith that the believing men and women are required to seek knowledge.

We have to capitalize on the potential of our valuable women; we should assist and support them in their pursuit for excellence in their careers and in their studies.

Prophet Muhammad PBUH said, “The most perfect in faith amongst believers is he who is best in manners and kindest to his wife.” [Abu Dawud]

Our Muslim women are contributing and achieving in many valuable ways, we have to encourage, support and help them in achieving more. The more our women achieve and excel, the more our Ummah (Muslim nation) will be revived. Our women are not only half of our Ummah, they are also the mothers who shape future generations. Prophet Mohammad PBUH valued them and gave them a special status.

Women now have higher IQ Scores than men, as researchers confirm. Women are a precious gift to humanity and a source of kindness and compassion. Prophet Muhammad PBUH said: “Your Heaven lies under the feet of your mother.” (Ahmad, Nasai).

A man came to the Prophet PBUH and said, ‘O Messenger of God! Who among the people is the most worthy of my good companionship?’ The Prophet PBUH said, ‘Your mother.’ The man said, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet PBUH said, ‘Then your mother.’ The man further asked, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet PBUH said, ‘Then your mother.’ The man asked again, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet PBUH said, ‘Then your father.’ (Bukhari, Muslim). There are many more verses and hadith confirming the value of mothers in Islam.

Our empowered Muslim women have played an important role in the Arab Spring. They have been at the forefront in the fight for justice and freedom. There are more and more brilliant Muslim women whose contributions can shape the future. Here are some bright and promising examples of Muslim women today:

Aisha Mustafa is a young Muslim lady who creates next-generation Quantum Space Propulsion Systems, thus reinventing space travel.

Azza Abdel Hamid Faiad, is a 16 year old Muslim young lady who has worked out how to turn used plastic into biofuels.

Ms. Hayat Sindi is a Saudi Scientist who is changing the world, she has helped develop a life saving tool that is the size of a stamp and costs just a penny, which helps detect disease by analysing body fluids.

And here is Ms. Manal Alsharif, whose courage and struggle against the Saudi regime’s unislamic treatment of women has inspired many. She is one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Another one of the 100 most influential people in the world, is Ms. Samira Ibrahim who challenged the tyrannical Supreme Council of Armed Forces, aka Mubarak’s generals who are also considered America’s closest ally in the new Egypt when she was mistreated by their thugs because of her brave stance for freedom and justice.

Dr. Reshma Khan is another brilliant example showing the universality of the message of Islam, she is a Muslim doctor who opened a free clinic for the poor of South Carolina. As Muslims, we should help all, Muslims and non Muslims.

Prophet Mohammad PBUH said: “A believer is like rain, wherever he goes, he brings goodness.”

Allah confirms in the Quran, that men and women were created from a single soul, thus emphasizing the equality and appreciation that Islam has for women.

“He (God) it is who did create you from a single soul and therefrom did create his mate, that he might dwell with her (in love)…” [Noble Quran 7:189]

“Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has faith, verily to him will We give a new life that is good and pure, and We will bestow on such their reward according to their actions.” [Noble Quran 16:97, see also 4:124]

Abu Sa’id al-Khudri said that the Messenger of Allah PBUH, said, “No one has three daughters or three sisters and is good to them but that he will enter the Garden (paradise).”

Musa ibn ‘Ali reported that the Prophet PBUH said, “Shall I show you the greatest sadaqa (or one of the greatest forms of sadaqa)?” He replied, “Yes, indeed, Messenger of Allah!” He went on, “To provide for your daughter when she is returned to you and you are her sole source of provision.” Sadaqa means charity.

A moment of introspection, have you supported and empowered the women in your life? Have you helped your sister reach her full potential? Have you helped your wife make her dreams come true? Have you helped your mother and taken some of her responsibilities off her shoulders? Do you treat women with the level of respect and appreciation that Islam requires? Have you reached out to do more for the women in your community?

To learn more, you get free ebooks for muslims or non-muslims or new muslims in many languages from the Conveying Islamic Message Society’s website:

http://www.islamic-message.net/cims/default.aspx

Capsules of Faith: Work hard for Allah and take the Initiative

Capsules of Faith

By A.Z.,

You can work for Allah in different ways: through your career, your voluntary work, your activism in defence of justice and humanity.

The follower, Oqba Ibn Nafea worked for Allah for 43 years. He established the city of Qirawan and was one of the pioneers who introduced Islam to North Africa.

Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) forgave his enemies

Oqba Ibn Nafea’s father was a staunch enemy of Islam and Muslims but the Prophet forgave him. The mercy of the Prophet (peace be upon him) even extended to those who brutally killed and then mutilated the body of his uncle Hamzah.

Quran 41:34 “Good and evil are not alike. Repel evil with what is better. Then he, between whom and you there was hatred, will become as though he was a bosom friend.”

The Prophet’s act of forgiveness touched Oqba’s father’s heart so deeply, that he dedicated his son Oqba to Allah. He sent his son to be raised by an important companion of the Prophet PBUH. An important lesson to be learnt here is that if you committed a sin, don’t despair. Instead, do good deeds that outweigh your sin and ask for forgiveness.

The Messenger of Allah PBUH said: “Fear Allah wherever you may be, trail a bad deed with a good deed and it will wipe it out, and treat the people with good character.” [at-Tirmidhi stated as Hadith Hasan]

Excellence and hard work are important Islamic values

Oqba Ibn Nafea worked for the cause of Allah throughout his life. He discovered his talents and utilized them in service of his cause. He became an expert on North Africa. His father put him on the right path. We should find ways of putting children and youngsters in our circle of influence on the right path, through excellent education and by being good role models.

Are you going to inspire your children and those in your circle of influence to dedicate their lives and work for justice, humanity and Islam? Are you doing all you can do to change the world by being the best influence possible on those around you? Are you inspiring and motivating others? Are you praising and appreciating those who are trying to leave a positive impact, no matter how small? Women have a special place in Islam. Are you acknowledging, praising and motivating the wonderful women in your life and making them feel appreciated?

It may be that the early trials are not always very fruitful, but without the early trials we wouldn’t have great achievements. Pioneers are always appreciated because they lay down the foundations of what will later become great successes.

Take the initiative, be creative and take calculated risks!

Are you a pioneer? Do you always take the initiative? Or are you passive and just follow the crowd? Taking risks if necessary is something commendable, but taking unnecessary risks and making impulsive decisions are attributes that can be counterproductive.

Pioneers are not afraid of failure. They understand that failure is part of the process. They understand that learning from failure is an essential part of building success.

Thomas Alva Edison said:“I haven’t failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

Don’t be afraid to try and don’t give up easily.

Change direction or change career if necessary

If you came to the realization that you are leading your life on the wrong path, you can stop and change your path. It might mean making sacrifices, but you have to be strong enough to lead your life, not let your life lead you.

Islam is not just rituals, it is a way of life.

Are you truly ready to join the path of Allah? Some people think that praying, fasting, paying zakat, wearing the hijab, hajjare enough. Rituals of worship are not everything in Islam. Islam is much deeper. What have you done for humanity? What have you done for science and knowledge? What kind of activism have you participated in? What injustice have you opposed or prevented? What have you done to raise awareness about the plight of innocents around the world? What voluntary work have you done? What have you done for your community or for your neighbourhood?

Your role is bigger than just looking after your family

Your role in Islam extends far beyond your duty towards your family and friends. You have a responsibility towards the progress and advancement of humanity. You have a duty to stand up for justice against Muslim and non Muslim oppressors. You have a duty to spread goodness and solidarity to all people of conscience, whether Muslim or non Muslim. You have a duty to enjoin good and oppose evil in every field of life.

You may really want to work for Allah, supporting justice and humanity, but don’t know how to. You have to take the initiative and discover your talents and find the appropriate channels that will help you work in the most effective way for the cause. Just don’t sit and wait and be a bystander. Get involved!

Quran 6:160: “Whoever comes [on the Day of Judgement] with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof [to his credit], and whoever comes with an evil deed will not be recompensed except the like thereof; and they will not be wronged”.

Quran 13:22: “And those who are patient, seeking the countenance of their Lord, and establish prayer and spend from what We have provided for them secretly and publicly and prevent evil with good – those will have the good consequence of [this] home”

This article is adapted from Dr. Amr Khaled’s lecture. Dr. Amr Khaled is an Egyptian televangelist. His work influenced Arab youth and has contributed to the calls for change in the Middle East.

Creative Activism

By A.Z.

Creative activists can be described as: ‘These are the changemakers. People who turn their ideas into action. A Creative Activist is any individual or organization who uses media, the arts, and technology to create awareness of important issues in the world and affect positive change.’

I would disagree with the description above, simply because creative activists don’t limit their creativity to using arts, media and technology to create awareness. They also use ingenuity and originality to convey their message, to a sometimes unwilling and skeptical audience.

Nick Darken wrote, commenting on this video that is worth watching: ‘‘The Return of Dictator Ben Ali’ saw one huge, imposing portrait of the former dictator reinstated in a square in newly freed Tunisia. The response was emotional. As the crowd tore down the poster in anger, the message underneath reminded people to use their vote at the upcoming elections as only half the population were expected to turn out.”

Some creative volunteers found another way to raise awareness about Israel’s apartheid policies, on the streets of New York City. The BDS movement provides a prime example of creativity and spontaneity. Attendees of the Israel Jazz Festival in NYC at the Guggenheim were treated to free water bottles labeled “Israel” on one side and the words “Apartheid since 1948” on the other.

Syrian Activist Ammar Allani is quoted as saying:

“And while they (governments/authorities) can claim supremacy in force, finance and media ownership, the one thing they definitely cannot offer is creativity, freedom and innovation. That is why the young generation is using these specific tools to alter the rules of the game, leaving the regimes unable to keep pace, at least in terms of winning the audience.

In one instance, hundreds of young protestors took to the streets raising blank signs, dozens of white boards with absolutely nothing written on them, yet the security forces were exasperated by that and started shooting and beating people. For everyone watching, including some supporters of the regime, it was really silly and stupid; it was a classic example of creativity winning over force.

Take Kafranbel for instance, this is a very small village in Syria, unknown even to the average Syrian and located in a province ironically called “the forgotten cities”, these people grow olives, and recently ideas!
Every week, a few dozens of the Kafranbel inhabitants brainstorm and create the most incredibly creative and powerful punch lines, they write them on paper panels, go to the grove, photograph themselves with a phone and upload the images to Facebook, as simple as this may seem, it is literarily revolutionizing the nation.
Just to share with you some of these punch lines:

– We demand that school uniforms include a helmet, body armor and gas mask.
– Forgive me my love; I mentioned your name in the interrogation.
– Only in Syria, to get to heaven… just cross the street.”

Marianne Torres, an inspiring American activist, told me of her own small victory:

“We learned that Madeline Albright was coming to Eastern Washington University in Cheney. I was still mightily outraged about Albright’s words and continued “service” in the American government so I just decided that if no one else could do anything to expose her crimes, I would.

I had a t-shirt made with her infamous quote on the back “500,000 Iraqi children killed by U.S. sanctions. Madeleine Albright says, ‘…The price — we think the price is worth it.’, wrote up the quote and other ugliness from her on a handout and passed them out at her speaking engagement and then did a double sided sheet with William Blum’s piece on her on one side and the absurd list of embargoed items on the other side, and passed them out both outside, and inside the auditorium. Most people didn’t read my shirt, but assumed the flyer was something from the University, so a whole lot of people sat and read the awful truth before she spoke.

Imagine my surprise when people who were excited to see this woman asked me if they could buy a t-shirt like mine! They obviously had not actually read it but assumed I was there in support of her. I’m sure they changed their mind after they read the paper I handed to them – and several hundred others.”

We all have our own creative side. Have you found and explored yours? Have you thought of new ways to help the cause? Do you have any ideas that can help serve justice, humanity and peace in the world? Shouldn’t you use your creativity to fulfill your Islamic duty to enjoin good and forbid evil?

Palestinians have a legal right to armed struggle

It’s time for Israel to accept that as an occupied people, Palestinians have a right to resist – in every way possible

Long ago, it was settled that resistance and even armed struggle against a colonial occupation force is not just recognised under international law but specifically endorsed.

In accordance with international humanitarian law, wars of national liberation have been expressly embraced, through the adoption of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 (pdf), as a protected and essential right of occupied people everywhere.

Finding evolving vitality in humanitarian law, for decades the General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA) – once described as the collective conscience of the world – has noted the right of peoples to self-determination, independence and human rights.

Indeed, as early as 1974, resolution 3314 of the UNGA prohibited states from “any military occupation, however temporary”.

In relevant part, the resolution not only went on to affirm the right “to self-determination, freedom and independence […] of peoples forcibly deprived of that right,[…] particularly peoples under colonial and racist regimes or other forms of alien domination” but noted the right of the occupied to “struggle … and to seek and receive support” in that effort. 

The term “armed struggle” was implied without precise definition in that resolution and many other early ones that upheld the right of indigenous persons to evict an occupier.

This imprecision was to change on December 3, 1982. At that time UNGA resolution37/43 removed any doubt or debate over the lawful entitlement of occupied people to resist occupying forces by any and all lawful means. The resolution reaffirmed “the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle”.

A palpable illusion

Though Israel has tried, time and time again, to recast the unambiguous intent of this precise resolution – and thus place its now half-century-long occupation in the West Bank and Gaza beyond its application – it is an effort worn thin to the point of palpable illusion by the exacting language of the declaration itself. In relevant part, section 21 of the resolution strongly condemned “the expansionist activities of Israel in the Middle East and the continual bombing of Palestinian civilians, which constitute a serious obstacle to the realization of the self-determination and independence of the Palestinian people”.

Never ones to hesitate in rewriting history, long before the establishment of the United Nations, European Zionists deemed themselves to be an occupied people as they emigrated to Palestine – a land to which any historical connection they had had long since passed through a largely voluntary transit.

Indeed, a full 50 years before the UN spoke of the right of armed struggle as a vehicle of indigenous liberation, European Zionists illegally co-opted the concept as the Irgun, Lehiand other terrorist groups undertook a decade’s long reign of deadly mayhem. 

During this time, they slaughtered not only thousands of indigenous Palestinians but targeted British police and military personnel that had long maintained a colonial presence there. 

A history of Zionist attacks

Perhaps, as Israelis sit down to mourn the loss of two of their soldiers who were shot dead this past week in Jerusalem – in what many consider to be a lawful act of resistance –  a visit down memory lane might just place the events in their proper historical context.

Long ago, describing the British as an occupation force in “their homeland”, Zionists targeted British police and military units with ruthless abandon throughout Palestine and elsewhere.

On April 12, 1938, the Irgun murdered two British police officers in a train bombing in Haifa. On August 26, 1939, two British officers were killed by an Irgun landmine in Jerusalem. On February 14, 1944, two British constables were shot dead when they attempted to arrest people for pasting up wall posters in Haifa. On September 27, 1944, more than 100 members of the Irgun attacked four British police stations, injuring hundreds of officers. Two days later a senior British police officer of the Criminal Intelligence Department was assassinated in Jerusalem.

On November 1, 1945, another police officer was killed as five trains were bombed. On December 27, 1945, seven British officers lost their lives in a bombing on police headquarters in Jerusalem. Between November 9 and 13, 1946, Jewish “underground” members launched a series of landmine and suitcase bomb attacks in railway stations, trains, and streetcars, killing 11 British soldiers and policemen and eight Arab constables.

Four more officers were murdered in another attack on a police headquarters on January 12, 1947. Nine months later, four British police were murdered in an Irgun bank robbery and, but three days later, on September 26, 1947, an additional 13 officers were killed in yet another terrorist attack on a British police station.  

These are but a few of many attacks directed by Zionist terrorists at British police who were seen, by mostly European Jews, as legitimate targets of a campaign they described as one of liberation against an occupation force.

Throughout this period, Jewish terrorists also undertook countless attacks that spared no part of the British and Palestinian infrastructure. They assaulted British military and police installations, government offices, and ships, often with bombs. They also sabotaged railways, bridges, and oil installations. Dozens of economic targets were attacked, including 20 trains that were damaged or derailed, and five train stations. Numerous attacks were carried out against the oil industry including one, in March 1947, on a Shell oil refinery in Haifa which destroyed some 16,000 tonnes of petroleum. 

Zionist terrorists killed British soldiers throughout Palestine, using booby traps, ambushes, snipers, and vehicle blasts. 

One attack, in particular, sums up the terrorism of those who, without any force of international law at the time, saw no limitation to their efforts to “liberate” a land that they had, largely, only recently emigrated to. 

In 1947, the Irgun kidnapped two British Army Intelligence Corps non-commissioned officers and threatened to hang them if death sentences of three of their own members were carried out. When these three Irgun members were executed by hanging, the two British sergeants were hanged in retaliation and their booby-trapped bodies were left in an eucalyptus grove.

In announcing their execution, the Irgun said that the two British soldiers were hanged following their conviction for “criminal anti-Hebrew activities” which included: illegal entry into the Hebrew homeland and membership in a British criminal terrorist organisation – known as the Army of Occupation – which was “responsible for the torture, murder, deportation, and denying the Hebrew people the right to live”. The soldiers were also charged with illegal possession of arms, anti-Jewish spying in civilian clothes, and premeditated hostile designs against the underground (pdf). 

Well beyond the territorial confines of Palestine, in late 1946-47 a continuing campaign of terrorism was directed at the British. Acts of sabotage were carried out on British military transportation routes in Germany.  The Lehi also tried, unsuccessfully, to drop a bomb on the House of Commons from a chartered plane flown from France and, in October 1946, bombed the British Embassy in Rome. A number of other explosive devices were detonated in and around strategic targets in London. Some 21 letter bombs were addressed, at various times, to senior British political figures. Many were intercepted, while others reached their targets but were discovered before they could go off. 

The steep price of self-determination

Self-determination is a difficult, costly march for the occupied. In Palestine, no matter what the weapon of choice – whether voice, pen or gun – there is a steep price to be paid for its use. 

Today, “speaking truth to power” has become very much a popular mantra of resistance in neoliberal circles and societies. In Palestine, however, for the occupied and oppressed, it is an all-but-certain path to prison or death. Yet, for generations of Palestinians stripped of the very breath that resonates with the feeling of freedom, history teaches there is simply no other choice.

Silence is surrender. To be silent is to betray all those who have come before and all those yet to follow.

For those who have never felt the constant yoke of oppression, or seen it up close, it is a vision beyond comprehension. Occupation sits heavy on the occupied, every day in every way, limiting who you are and what you may dare to become. 

The constant rub of barricades, guns, orders, prison and death are fellow travellers for the occupied, whether infants, teens in the spring of life, the elderly, or those trapped by the artificial confines of borders over which they have no control.

To the families of the two Israeli Druze policemen who lost their lives while trying to control a place that was not theirs to command, I extend my condolences. These young men were, however, not lost to the ring of resistance, but willingly sacrificed by an evil occupation that bears no legitimacy whatsoever.

Ultimately, if there is grieving to be done, it must be for the 11 million occupied, whether in Palestine or outside, as so much stateless refugees, stripped of a meaningful voice and opportunity, as the world makes excuses built largely of a political and economic gift box that bears the Star of David.

Not a day goes by now without the chilling wail of a nation watching over a Palestinian infant wrapped in a burial shroud, stripped of life because electricity or transit have become a perverse privilege which holds millions hostage to the political whims of the few. Be they Israeli, Egyptian or those who claim to carry the mantle of Palestinian political leadership, the responsibility of infanticide in Gaza is theirs and theirs alone.

‘If there is no struggle, there is no progress’

The three young men, cousins, who willingly sacrificed their lives in the attack on the two Israeli officers in Jerusalem, did so not as an empty gesture born of desperation, but rather a personal statement of national pride that follows a long line of others who well understood that the price of freedom can, at times, mean all.

For 70 years, not a day has passed without the loss of young Palestinian women and men who, tragically, found greater dignity and freedom in martyrdom than they did in obedient, passive living controlled by those who dared to dictate the parameters of their lives.

Millions of us worldwide dream of a better time and place for Palestinians … free to spread their wings, to soar, to discover who they are and what they wish to become. Until then, I mourn not for the loss of those who stop their flight. Instead, I applaud those who dare to struggle, dare to win – by any means necessary.

There is no magic to resistance and struggle. They transcend time and place and derive their very meaning and ardour in the natural inclination, indeed, drive, of us all to be free – to be free to determine the role of our own lives. 

In Palestine, no such freedom exists. In Palestine, international law recognises the fundamental rights to self-determination, freedom and independence for the occupied. In Palestine, that includes the right to armed struggle, if necessary. 

Long ago, the famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass, himself a former slave, wrote of struggle. These words resonate no less so today, in Palestine, than they did some one 150 years ago in the heart of the Antebellum South in the United States:

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

(Source / 18.12.2018)

Nikki Haley, eat your heart out, Palestinians will prevail!

By Mahmoud el-Yousseph

The US ambassador to the UN is remoted controlled by Tel Aviv whether he/she is Nikki Haley, Heather Nauert or anyone else.

In her speech prior to the last UN vote this year, outgoing UN Ambassador Nikki Haley failed to explain to Americans the standard she used to define Hamas a terrorist organization but not the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). Perhaps more to the point, If Americans have the right to fight for their freedom and independence from a brutal foreign military occupation, why then condemn Palestinians when they aspire for the very same freedoms? 

Haley wanted to serve her Master in Tel Aviv for the last time by passing the anti-Palestinian Resolution in the UN Assembly where Israel has been condemned more than 400 times against the US wishes. Poor Haley wanted to prove her importance as the UN Ambassador but Trump has replaced her by nominating a very immature and unqualified FOX TV reporter Heather Nauert. By this time, Haley should have known that like her, Miss Nauert will also be remote controlled from the White House.

It is time for Haley and Israel to accept that as an occupied people, Palestinians have a right to resist – in every way possible. Resistance against the occupation is not a crime! It is a duty! Under UNGA Resolution 37/43 Palestinians have the right to resist a foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle.

The US-sponsored draft resolution that would have condemned Hamas at the UN General Assembly was defeated. The resolution got 87 votes in favour and 57 against, with 33 abstentions, meaning it fell short of the required two-thirds majority needed to pass. Haley even referred to Arab envoys as “my Arab brothers and sisters” in a desperate attempt to gain their support. However, Arab delegations were adamant to vote ” no” even if Nikki Haley changes her adopted name again to Nadia HayLee. All Arab nations including the one that have diplomatic relation with Israel voted against the resolution, which is a welcome move of rare Arab unity.

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, welcomed the resolution’s defeat. President Abbas said: “The Palestinian presidency will not allow for the condemnation of the national Palestinian struggle.” The Kuwaiti envoy, speaking on behalf of the Arab bloc, expressed concern that the US draft resolution depicts Israel as the victim and Palestinians as the aggressors. The vote was a personal defeat for Haley. She is leaving her post at the end of the year after acting as second Israeli ambassador to the UN.

The vote was a severe blow to the misguided US policy in the Middle East. Haley has repeatedly threatened any country voting against US foreign policy, stating that the administration will “take names.” The reason the US resorting to “blackmail diplomacy” in this case is: 1) it was attempting to score a brownie point with AIPAC for 2020 US presidential election, and 2) it knows well that any US presidential candidate have to be koshered and get AIPAC stamp of approval. 3) presidential candidates must show that they put the interests of Israel ahead of their own country.

Nikki Haley can cry me a river, but Palestinians will never bow their heads or bend their knees to get their freedom except to God.

(Source / 16.12.2018)

In Palestine, it’s freedom for all or freedom for none

Palestinians shout slogans as they gather to protest the US-sponsored draft resolution condemning Palestinian resistance group Hamas in General Assembly of the United Nations meeting in Gaza City, Gaza on December 06, 2018

By Dr Daud Abdullah

The Trump administration’s failure to secure a UN resolution condemning Hamas and other resistance factions was welcomed by Palestinians as a moral and political victory. They should not, however, be carried away by euphoria because the resolution received a high level of support.

Eighty-seven countries voted in favour of the resolution while 57 opposed it and 33 abstained; 23 others absented themselves. In the end, it fell short of the two-thirds supermajority needed to pass.

By entertaining a resolution that goes against its core principles the UN, it seems, sunk to a new low. The scandal appeared more grotesque because the vote was carried out just four days before the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which recognises the inherent right of every individual to life, liberty and security.

It insists, moreover, that the attainment of these rights is essential for justice and peace in our world. And, where these rights are not protected by the rule of law, people may be forced to resort to resistance against tyranny and oppression.

This is precisely what is at stake here in Palestine. A people have been subjected to decades of military occupation that denies their freedom, exposes them to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and holds their women and children in detention without charge or trial.

Read: What’s next after trying to blame the victim in the General Assembly?

No wonder it has been said that their condition today is worse than it has ever been. Palestinians have no control over their economy and they cannot move freely within their own land without the permission of settlers. They cannot trade with the outside world because the occupier maintains control over their borders.

Any people subjected to such inhumanity would naturally resist. Their right to do so is legitimate and inalienable. What the Trump administration and Israel demanded from the UNGA last week was the dissolution of this right, which it previously adopted through Resolution 2787 (XXVI) in December 1971. It confirmed the legality of a people’s struggle for self-determination and liberation from colonial and foreign domination.

For this reason, Palestinians of every political persuasion opposed the US resolution. Member of Fatah Central Committee Abbas Zaki summed up the national sentiment when he said: “If Hamas, which carries out resistance, is defined as a terrorist organisation, then the entire Palestinian people are carrying out terror… because Hamas and the rest of the Palestinians are national liberation movements fighting against the Israeli occupation.”

This latest attempt by the US to criminalise Palestinian resistance and legitimise Israel’s occupation must serve as a grim reminder of the threats posed to universally recognised individual and collective rights.  The weekly attacks on peaceful marchers in Gaza demanding their right to return is a glaring example. Even the individual right to boycott Israel has become endangered by US attempts to criminalise it.

In reality, there are certain rights that are absolute and inalienable. They are upheld and protected not because of the generosity of any country or government, but rather because of the human condition of the people they refer to. Therefore, instead of pandering to US prejudice, countries dedicated to the ideals of freedom and peace are obliged to give all their political, moral and material assistance to people struggling for freedom, including the Palestinians.

Read: No way out for Palestinian refugees trapped in Thailand

Since 1948, human rights have been enshrined in international conventions and treaties to save mankind from the scourge of war. Countries that do not recognise these rights remain condemned by the UN (Res. No. 3214). They are, in fact, obliged by numerous resolutions to avoid all actions that could constitute recognition of Israel’s illegal occupation.

It is clear from the policies of the current US administration that it has no qualms in disregarding international law or eroding Palestinian rights. The move of the US embassy to Jerusalem, its avowed rejection of the Palestinian right of return and support for Jewish settlements in the occupied Arab territories (including the Syrian Golan Heights) are all examples of this dangerous trajectory.

Ultimately, human rights must only be defined by absolute principles and not according to the identity of the victims and perpetrators. This 70th anniversary of the UDHR offers a welcome opportunity to renew support for a free and independent Palestine. The late African-American leader Rev Martin Luther King warned of the consequences of not doing so; no one is free until we are all free.

(Source / 10.12.2018) 

Fourteen-Year-Old Child Narrates His Agony Inside Israeli Jails

There are about 350 Palestinian children inside Israeli jails

On 5 September 2018, a 14-year-old boy from Qalandiya refugee camp is arrested by Israeli soldiers at 3:00 pm during clashes. He reports being interrogated at midnight without consulting with a lawyer.

I was in the area near Qalandiya checkpoint at around 3:00 p.m. when boys were throwing stones at Israeli soldiers and swearing at them. Then I went to a nearby shop when all of a sudden I was grabbed by the neck by the person who was standing next to me. It turned out he was a soldier in civilian clothes.

Story Highlights
He was arrested during a house raid in the night.
He was interrogated without consulting with a lawyer.
He was interrogated without the presence of any of his parents.
He was handcuffed and strip-searched.
He was sent to a military court.

 

The soldier dragged me to a small room at the checkpoint and left me there on a chair. About an hour later my mother came and both of us waited in the room until around 10:00 p.m. when we were taken to Atarot police station.

We were taken the short distance from the checkpoint to the police station in a military vehicle. We both sat on seats in the back. On the way the soldier who was driving told me not to lie to the interrogator because he knows everything. When we arrived at the police station we were left in an outdoor area until around midnight when I was taken for interrogation and my mother was allowed to accompany me.

The interrogator was dressed in civilian clothes. He told my mother he was going to allow her to attend the interrogation but warned her she was not allowed to say a word or intervene in any way. He threatened to throw her out if she opened her mouth. He told her she could listen but she could not speak.

Then the interrogator told me and my mother we had the right to have a lawyer present. My mother told him she did not have a telephone number for a lawyer and that it was a late hour at night to find a lawyer anyway. The interrogator told her in that case he was going to interrogate me without a lawyer present. Then he started to question me without informing me of my right to silence.

The interrogator asked me what I was doing at the checkpoint. I told him I was with my friends. He asked whether my friends and I were throwing stones at soldiers and I told him we were. Then he asked whether there were soldiers at the checkpoint and I said yes. Then he wanted to know how many and whether there were female soldiers. Then he accused me of swearing at the female soldier and insulting her. Then he asked whether the stones had hit soldiers and I said no. He accused me of lying and thumped the table aggressively. I was scared and started to cry. Then he shouted at me again and wanted to know why I was crying.

Then he repeated the accusation. He told me I called the female soldier a whore. He also told me soldiers saw me throwing stones. Then he asked me what would happen if I am hit on the head by a stone. He wanted to know whether it is possible I would bleed and be hurt. I said yes. Then he also accused me of throwing stones at the CCTV camera and said all the money of my country would not be enough to compensate for the broken camera. I was shivering as he spoke to me because the air conditioner was blowing cold air and I was tired and scared.

Then he showed my mother documents in Hebrew and asked her to sign. When she asked him to translate he told her the document said she was allowed to attend the interrogation. My mother signed the documents.  The interrogation lasted for about 2 hours and I was very tired, hungry and sleepy towards the end.

Then they took my photograph and fingerprints and then took me and my mother to another room where we waited for another 2 hours. I was shackled and handcuffed to the back. The handcuffs were painful and my mother asked the soldier to remove them but he told her he was not allowed to remove them.

I recall a man and woman in military uniform where in the room and they were flirting and kissing and I did not feel comfortable. My mother thought it was disgusting behaviour. They were smoking and blowing smoke in our direction.

Then a commander came and told the soldiers to take my mother to the checkpoint. He told her she could attend my military court hearing later that morning. Then I was taken in a vehicle to Ofer prison. I arrived at Ofer at around 4:30 a.m. At Ofer I was strip searched and taken to Section 13. I ate and slept maybe for an hour. At around 7:00 a.m. I was taken to Ofer military court.

My mother was in court and my lawyer. I was taken to court in shackles but the handcuffs were removed. I did not understand much but I was later told by my lawyer I was going to be released. He told me he was able to negotiate a deal with the prosecutor where my family would pay a 2,000 shekels fine. He told me if I am seen at the checkpoint again I would spend 3 weeks in prison. My mother accepted the deal.

I was released on 6 September 2018 and I went home with my cousin. I arrived home just after midnight. My mother had prepared a nice meal and I ate and went to bed. I was exhausted.

(Source / 10.11.2018)

What Gaza Wants

By Haidar Eid

Palestinian protesters react to tear gas during clashes with Israeli forces during the Great March of Return in the southern Gaza Strip on May 15, 2018

Four years after the Israeli Occupation Forces perpetrated a massacre upon the population of Gaza, the third in 5 years, Apartheid Israel insists on committing more crimes by targeting civilians protesting peacefully every Friday demanding their internationally-sanctioned right of return to the towns and villages from which they were ethnically cleansed back in 1948. The latest round of Israeli war crimes has resulted in a new massacre ; since March 30th, when the first of a series of marches took place at the eastern fence of the Gaza Strip, more than 220 innocent civilians, including 34 children and 5 women, have been murdered brutally as they demonstrated non-violently.  More than 2000 have been injured, some very critically. (Statistics taken from Gaza Ministry if Health)

As we, Palestinians of Gaza, embark on our long walk to freedom, we have come to the conclusion that we can no longer rely on governments; instead, we request that the citizens of the world oppose these ongoing deadly crimes. The failure of the United Nations and its numerous organizations to condemn such crimes proves their complicity. We have also come to the conclusion that only civil society is able to mobilize to demand the implementation of international law and put an end to Israel’s unprecedented impunity. Our inspiration is the anti-apartheid movement. The intervention of civil society was effective in the late 1980s against the apartheid regime of White South Africa. Nelson Mandela, before his eminent death, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, amongst other anti-apartheid activists, did not not only describe Israel’s oppressive and violent control of Palestinians as Apartheid, they also joined this call for the world’s civil society to intervene again.

In fact, we expect people of conscience and civil society organizations to put pressure on their governments until Israel is forced to abide by international law and international humanitarian law. It did work last century; without the intervention of the international community which was effective against apartheid in South Africa, Israel will continue its war crimes and crimes against humanity.

We need to be more specific about our demands. We want civil society organizations worldwide to intensify the anti-Israel sanctions campaign to compel Israel to end to its aggression.

It has become crystal clear that the international conspiracy of silence towards the incremental genocide taking place against the 2 million civilians in Gaza indicates complicity in these war crimes.

It is high-time that the international community demand that the rogue State of Israel, a state that has violated every single international law one can think of, end its medieval siege of Gaza and compensate for the destruction of life and infrastructure that it has visited upon the Palestinian people. But this should also come within a package of demands to be made by all Palestine solidarity groups and all international civil society organizations that still believe in the rule of law and basic human rights:

  • An end to the siege that has been imposed on the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip since 2006 for voting against the fictional two-state solution and the Oslo Accords;
  • The protection of civilian lives and property, as stipulated in International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law such as The Fourth Geneva Convention;
  • That Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip be provided with material support to cope with the immense hardship that they are experiencing at the hands of Israeli Occupation Forces;
  • Immediate reparations and compensation for all destruction carried out by the IOF in the Gaza Strip;
  • Holding  Israeli generals  and leaders accountable for  war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against the civilians of Gaza;

And

  • An end to occupation, Apartheid, and other war crimes committed by Israel.

Why is that too much to ask? Were the anti-apartheid and Civil Rights movements too demanding for calling for an end to all forms of racism, institutional and otherwise ? And was the international community wrong to heed their calls?

(Source / 10.11.2018)