New Tunnel Being Built Underneath The Foundation Of The Al-Aqsa Mosque

A new tunnel is being built connecting the Silwan Settlement to the Western Wall and will be completed within a month. The construction of the tunnel has already caused foundational damages to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site.


The construction of the tunnel has caused damages to the foundations of the resident’s houses since the building of the tunnel is occurring beneath the resident’s houses.

The tunnel is being built underneath the old road leading to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. This will be the seventh tunnel built underneath the Silwan Neighborhoods.

During construction of the tunnel, workers found a bell dating to the second temple period of Jerusalem according to what Fakhri Abu Diyab, a member of an organization to defend the Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem, told the Palestinian News Network.

Right-wing settler organizations persuaded the Israeli Government to construct the temple underneath the foundations of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in an effort to find more antiquities that date back to the Second Temple era, which’s findings serve to justify Israeli Occupation.

( / 27.07.2011)

Jenin’s Freedom Theater raided by the Israeli army

The Freedom Theatre, Jenin refugee camp Photo by: Keren Manor/Activestills.orgThe Freedom Theatre, Jenin refugee camp (photo: Keren Manor/

Overnight, roughly 50 Israeli Special Forces troops raided the Jenin Freedom Theatre in the Jenin Refugee Camp in the Northern West Bank according to members of the theater. The Freedom Theater is often associated with slain Palestinian-Jewish actor Juliano Mer Khamis and his vision of cultural resistance to Israeli occupation. Mer Khamis was shot by unknown gunman outside of the theatre last spring. According to the press release of the Freedom Theater regarding the raid,

Ahmad Nasser Matahen, a night guard and technician student at the theatre woke up by heavy blocks of stone being hurled at the entrance of the theatre. As he opened the door he found masked and heavily armed Israeli Special Forces around the theatre. Ahmed says that the army threw heavy blocks of stone at the theatre, “they told me to open the door to the theatre.  They told me to raise my hands and forced me to take my pants down. I thought my time had come, that they would kill me. My brother that was with me was handcuffed.

The location manager of The Freedom Theatre, Adnan Naghnaghiye was arrested and taken away to an unknown location together with Bilal Saadi, a member of the board of The Freedom Theatre. When the general manager of the theatre Jacob Gough from UK and the co-founder of the theatre Jonatan Stanczak from Sweden arrived to the scene they were forced to squat next to a family with four small children surrounded by about 50 heavily armed Israeli soldiers.

Jonatan Stanczak, in recounting the attack this morning, told the press that, “Whenever we tried to tell them that they are attacking a cultural venue and arresting members of the theatre we were told to shut up and they threatened to kick us, I tried to contact the civil administration of the army to clarify the matter but the person in charge hung up on me.”

The Israeli army has yet to release a comment confirming what happened this morning in Jenin. Emily Smith, an American photographer working with the Freedom Theater, told +972 that the Israeli civil administration and army have refused attempts by members of the Freedom Theater to get information about the whereabouts of the arrested and reasons for the raid.

UPDATE 11:30am: Ma’an News Agency is reporting that the Israeli military confirmed this morning that two people were arrested in Jenin but deny that the theater was raided by soldiers.

UPDATE 7:00PM: The IDF spokesman is maintaining that the army did not raid or enter the theater this morning despite the accounts by members of the Freedom Theater. The spokesman has not been clear about where exactly the Palestinians were arrested, only saying they there were taken in “near the Jenin theater.” Photos have emerged of the damaged Freedom Theater showing stones which members of the theater claim were used by soldiers to attack the building.

The Jenin Freedom Theater after alleged Israeli army attack. Photo by Emily SmithThe Jenin Freedom Theater after alleged Israeli army attack. (photo: Emily Smith)

According to Jonatan Stanczak, Israeli soldiers did not physically enter the theater but they attacked it with stones and sealed off the area around the theater while demanding that all inside come out. In the process of the operation, soldiers surrounded all entrances and arrested two people, both were inside the theater when soldiers arrived, Stanczak told +972 from Jenin this evening. “We have researched the definition of a raid, and while troops did not enter inside the theater, we believe what they did should be defined as a raid,” Stanczak noted.

( / 27.07.2011)

Trauma of Palestinian children increasing, say health groups

27 July 2011

Children are doubly affected by traumas related to the Israeli occupation.

RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IRIN) – The number of Palestinian children with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety disorders including depression has increased, according to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Palestinian organizations specializing in mental health.

Violations of children’s rights have been documented by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Jerusalem, including patterns of killing and injuries, arrest and detention, ill-treatment and torture, displacement and denial of access to health and education services.

Children are doubly affected, sometimes by multiple traumatic events and by the effects of the trauma on their parents and care-givers.

MSF recently increased its number of clinics and staff training in developmental psychology to meet the growing needs of Palestinian children. Fifty-four percent of mental health patients at MSF clinics in the Gaza Strip were under the age of 12 in 2010, it said. Over a third of the cases MSF treats in Gaza and over half in Nablus in the West Bank are severe, and affect the functioning of a person in daily life.

“More than half of consultations in Gaza and in Nablus are for children under 18 years old, so far in 2011,” said Hélène Thomas, psychological coordinator for MSF-France in Jerusalem.

“Children and adolescents have particular symptoms of psychological distress, like bedwetting, nightmares, learning difficulties [reading and speech], concentration and memory problems and therefore academic failure, or even aggressive behavior,” said Thomas.

MSF provided 6,099 psychological consultations and treated 702 new patients in 2010 at their six centers in Gaza and one in Nablus, compared to 4,912 consultations in 2009.

“Nearly half of MSF patients under 15 years old in Gaza were treated for PTSD and nearly a third were treated for other anxiety disorders in 2010,” said Thomas, and “about a fifth of patients under 15 years old in Nablus were treated for PTSD.”

Harassment from settlers and soldiers

In Gaza, 74 percent of cases in 2010 came one year after a violent event. In Nablus a high level of anxiety cases (more than 40 percent of all MSF patients) were diagnosed with anxiety related to settler harassment and military incursions.

“Children form an emotional association with symbols of a traumatic event,” said Thomas, “like when Israeli soldiers raid a home with dogs, and after the child develops a phobia of dogs, linking dogs to the event and fear associated with it.”

Mental health professionals from the Palestinian Treatment and Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture (TRC) also reported that children receiving mental health care overwhelmingly suffered from PTSD and other anxiety disorders.

TRC treated 3,800 patients across the West Bank in 2010, about 15 percent of them children. The center is partnered with the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP).

The TRC’s team of 36 psychologists and six psychiatrists say a popular form of psychotherapy — eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), developed in the US in 1987 — is proving successful in the center’s treatment of children.

EMDR, often used in conjunction with cognitive therapy, creates bilateral stimulation (induced by, for example, eye-movements, tones or tapping) between the right and left sides of the brain during sessions to resolve the development of trauma-related disorders caused by exposure to distressing events such as rape or military combat.

According to the EMDR Institute founder Francine Shapiro, when a traumatic experience occurs, it may overwhelm usual cognitive and neurological coping mechanisms. The memory and associated stimuli of the event are inadequately processed and dysfunctionally stored.

Psychologists from TRC and the East Jerusalem Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) travelled to California in May to begin certification in EMDR training with Shapiro. In about a year’s time TRC will begin to train Palestinian mental health professionals in EMDR techniques.

EMDR therapy aims to process these distressing memories, reduce their lingering influence and enable clients to develop coping mechanisms, said Khader Rasras, TRC executive director and clinical psychologist.

“I ask the child to recall the memories of the traumatic event in their minds, or for younger children the parent may recall the event,” explained Rasras, and “while reviewing the events chronologically the child follows my back-and-forth finger movements with their eyes.”

Girl sees dad arrested

After Lina, an eight-year-old from Ramallah, witnessed her father forcibly removed by Israeli soldiers from the family home about a year ago she was diagnosed with acute PTSD. He remains in administrative detention, imprisoned without charge or trial.

“Soldiers kicked in the door and began searching,” recalled Lina, “and when my father put his hands behind his head I held on to his leg. A soldier pulled me away by my hair.”

After Lina developed a stuttering problem, bed-wetting and lost weight, her mother brought her to TRC.

“Lina responds well when I tap on her right and left knees,” said Rasras. “EMDR is well suited for children since it is interactive, often with hand-games and drawing, and children do not have sophisticated memory networks.”

Mental health professionals from GCMHP have yet to be granted permission by the Israeli authorities to exit Gaza for training. Under more than four years of strict blockade, Gaza health professionals are rarely allowed to leave Gaza for training or education.

Cultural sensitivities are also a barrier to mental health care, although MSF reports that it is easier for parents to bring children for treatment, and often seek treatment themselves after they see results.

TRC head Rasras said he offered to place a barrier between himself and female patients, such as a handkerchief, when taping their hands or shoulders to help patients feel comfortable. Even then, the social stigma of mental health care in West Bank rural areas is often too great for many patients to continue treatment.


On the Month of Ramadan

[There having been a brief discussion of ‘the marks of Islam’ at the end of the First Section, the most brilliant and splendid of the marks, Ramadan the Noble, is discussed in this Second Section. This Section consists of Nine Points, which explain nine of the numerous instances of wisdom in the month of Ramadan.]

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. 

It was the month of Ramadan in which the Qur’an was bestowed from on high as a guidance unto man and a self-evident proof of that guidance, and as the standard to discern true from false.1 



The fast of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, and it is one of the greatest of the marks and observances of Islam.  There are many purposes and instances of wisdom in the fast of Ramadan which look to both God Almighty’s dominicality, and to man’s social life, his personal life and the training of his instinctual soul, and to his gratitude for Divine bounties. One of the many instances of wisdom in fasting from the point of view of God Almighty’s dominicality is as follows:  God Almighty created the face of the earth in the form of a table laden with bounties, and arranged on the table every sort of bounty in a form of From whence he does not expect,2 in this way stating the perfection of His dominicality and His mercifulness and compassionateness. Human beings are unable to discern clearly the reality of this situation while in the sphere of causes, under the veil of heedlessness, and they sometimes forget it. However, during the month of Ramadan, the people of belief suddenly become like a well drawn-up army. As sunset approaches, they display a worshipful attitude as though, having been invited to the Pre-Eternal Monarch’s banquet, they are awaiting the command of “Fall to and help yourselves!” They are responding to that compassionate, illustrious, and universal mercy with comprehensive, exalted, and orderly worship. Do you think those who do not participate in such elevated worship and noble bounties are worthy to be called human beings? 


 One of the many instances of wisdom in the fast of the blessed month of Ramadan with respect to thankfulness for God Almighty’s bounties is as follows:  As is stated in the First Word, a price is required for the foods a tray-bearer brings from a royal kitchen. But, to give a tip to the tray-bearer, and to suppose those priceless bounties to be valueless and not to recognize the one who bestowed them would be the greatest foolishness.   God Almighty has spread innumerable sorts of bounties over the face of the earth for mankind, in return for which He wishes thanks, as the price of those bounties. The apparent causes and possessors of the bounties are like tray-bearers. We pay a certain price to them and are indebted to them, and even though they do not merit it, are over-respectful and grateful to them. Whereas the True Bestower of Bounties is infinitely more deserving of thanks than those causes which are merely the means for the bounty. To thank Him, then, is to recognize that the bounties come directly from Him; it is to appreciate their worth and to perceive one’s own need for them.  Fasting in Ramadan, then, is the key to a true, sincere, extensive, and universal thankfulness. For at other times of the year, most of those who are not in difficult circumstances do not realize the value of many bounties since they do not experience real hunger. Those whose stomachs are full and especially if they are rich, do not understand the degree of bounty there is in a piece of dry bread. But when it is time to break the fast, the sense of taste testifies that the dry bread is a most valuable Divine bounty in the eyes of a believer. During Ramadan, everyone from the monarch to the destitute, manifests a sort of gratitude through understanding the value of those bounties.  Furthermore, since eating is prohibited during the day, they will say: “Those bounties do not belong to me. I am not free to eat them, for they are another’s property and gift. I await his command.” They will recognize the bounty to be bounty and so will be giving thanks. Thus, fasting in this way is in many respects like a key to gratitude; gratitude being man’s fundamental duty. 


 One of the many instances of wisdom in fasting from the point of view of man’s social life is as follows:  Human beings have been created differently with regard to their livelihoods. As a consequence of the difference, God Almighty invites the rich to assist the poor, so that through the hunger experienced in fasting, the rich can truly understand the pains and hunger which the poor suffer. If there was no fasting, there would be many self-indulgent rich unable to perceive just how grievous is hunger and poverty and how needy of compassion are those who suffer them. Compassion for one’s fellow men is an essential of true thankfulness. Whoever a person is, there will always be someone poorer than himself in some respect. He is enjoined to be compassionate towards that person. If he was not himself compelled to suffer hunger, he would be unable give the person—by means of compassion—the help and assistance which he is obliged to offer. And even if he was able, it would be deficient, for he would not have truly experienced the state of hunger himself. 


 One instance of wisdom in fasting in Ramadan with respect to training the instinctual soul is as follows:  The instinctual soul wants to be free and independent, and considers itself to be thus. According to the dictates of its nature, it even desires an imaginary dominicality and to act as it pleases. It does not want to admit that it is being sustained and trained through innumerable bounties. Especially if it possesses wealth and power in this world, and if heedlessness also encourages it, it will devour God’s bounties like a usurping, thieving animal.  Thus, in the month of Ramadan, the instinctual soul of everyone, from the richest to the poorest, may understand that it does not own itself, but is totally owned; that it is not free, but is a slave. It understands that if it receives no command, it is unable to do the simplest and easiest thing, it cannot even stretch out its hand towards water. Its imaginary dominicality is therefore shattered; it performs its worship and begins to offer thanks, its true duty. 


 One of the many instances of wisdom in fasting in Ramadan from the point of view of improving the conduct of the instinctual soul and giving up its rebellious habits is as follows:  The human soul forgets itself through heedlessness. It cannot see the utter powerlessness, want, and deficiency within itself and it does not wish to see them. And it does not think of just how weak it is, and how subject to transience and to disasters, nor of the fact that it consists merely of flesh and bones, which quickly decline and are dispersed.  Simply, it assaults the world as though it possessed a body made of steel and imagined itself to be undying and eternal. It hurls itself onto the world with intense greed and voracity and passionate attachment and love. It is captivated by anything that gives its pleasure or that benefits it. Moreover, it forgets its Creator Who sustains it with perfect compassion, and it does not think of the results of its life and its life in the hereafter. Indeed, it wallows in dissipation and misconduct.  However, fasting in the month of Ramadan awakens even the most heedless and obstinate to their weakness, impotence, and want. By means of hunger, they think of their stomachs; they understand the need therein. They realize how unsound are their weak bodies, and perceive how needy they are for kindness and compassion. So they abandon the soul’s pharaoh-like despotism, and through recognizing their utter impotence and want, perceive a desire to take refuge at the Divine Court. And they prepare themselves to knock at the door of mercy with the hands of thankfulness. So long as heedlessness has not destroyed their hearts, that is. 


 One of the many instances of wisdom in fasting in Ramadan from the point of view of the revelation of the All-Wise Qur’an, and with respect to the fact that the month of Ramadan was the most important time in its revelation, is as follows:  Since the All-Wise Qur’an was revealed in the month of Ramadan, to shun the lower demands of the soul and trivialities and to resemble the angelic state by abstaining from food and drink in order to greet that heavenly address in the best manner, is to attain to a holy state. And to read and listen to the Qur’an as though it was just revealed, to listen to the Divine address in it as if it was being revealed that very instant, to listen to that address as though hearing it from God’s Noble Messenger (Upon whom be blessings and peace), indeed, from the Angel Gabriel, or from the Pre-Eternal Speaker Himself, is to attain to that same holy state. To act in this way is to act as an interpreter and to cause others to listen to it and in some degree to demonstrate the wisdom in the Qur’an’s revelation.  Indeed, it is as if the world of Islam becomes a mosque during the month of Ramadan. In every corner of that mighty mosque millions of those who know the whole Qur’an by heart cause the dwellers on the earth to hear the heavenly address. Each Ramadan displays the verse It was the month of Ramadan in which the Qur’an was bestowed from on high in luminous shining manner. It proves that Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an. Some of the members of the vast congregation listen to the reciters with reverence, while others read it themselves.  Following the appetites of the base instinctual soul while in a sacred mosque that is such, and quitting that luminous condition through eating and drinking, is truly loathsome and makes such a person the target of the aversion and disgust of the congregation in the mosque. In the same way, people who oppose those who fast during Ramadan are to the same extent the target of the aversion and disgust of the whole world of Islam. 


 One of the many instances of wisdom in the fast of Ramadan with respect to mankind’s gain and profit, who comes to this world in order to cultivate and trade for the hereafter, is as follows:  The reward for actions in the month of Ramadan is a thousandfold. According to Hadith, each word of the All-Wise Qur’an has ten merits; each is counted as ten merits and will yield ten fruits in Paradise. While during Ramadan, each word bears not ten fruits but a thousand, and verses like Ayat al-Kursi3 thousands for each word, and on Fridays in Ramadan it is even more. And on the Night of Power, each word is counted as thirty thousand merits.  Indeed, the All-Wise Qur’an, each of whose words yield thirty thousand eternal fruits, is like a luminous Tree of Tuba that gains for believers in Ramadan millions of those eternal fruits. So, come and look at this sacred, eternal profitable trade, then consider it and understand the infinite loss of those who do not appreciate the value of those words.   To put it simply, the month of Ramadan is an extremely profitable display and market for the trade of the hereafter. It is an extremely fertile piece of land for the crops of the hereafter. For the growth and flourishing of actions it is like April showers in the spring. It is like a brilliant holy festival for the parade of mankind’s worship in the face of the sovereignty of Divine dominicality. Since it is thus, mankind has been charged with fasting in order not to heedlessly indulge the animal needs of the instinctual soul like eating and drinking, nor to indulge the appetites lustfully and in trivialities. For, by temporarily rising above animality and quitting the calls of this world, man approaches the angelic state and enters upon the trade of the hereafter. And by fasting, he approaches the state of the hereafter and that of a spirit appearing in bodily form. It is as if man then becomes a sort of mirror reflecting the Eternally Besought One. Indeed, the month of Ramadan comprises and gains a permanent and eternal life in this fleeting world and brief transient life.  Certainly, a single Ramadan can produce fruits equal to that of a lifetime of eighty years. The fact that, according to the Qur’an, the Night of Power is more auspicious than a thousand months is a decisive proof of this.  For example, a monarch may declare certain days to be festivals during his reign, or perhaps once a year. Either on his accession to the throne or on some other days which reflect a glittering manifestation of his sovereignty. On those days, he favours his subjects, not within the general sphere of the law, but with his special bounties and favours, with his presence without veil and his wondrous activities. And he favours with his especial regard and attention those of his nation who are completely loyal and worthy .  In the same way, the All-Glorious Monarch of eighteen thousand worlds, Who is the Sovereign of Pre-Eternity and Post-Eternity, revealed in Ramadan the illustrious decree of the All-Wise Qur’an, which looks to the eighteen thousand worlds. It is a requirement of wisdom, then, that Ramadan should be like special Divine festival, a dominical display, and a spiritual gathering. Since Ramadan is such festival, God has commanded man to fast, in order to disengage him to a degree from base and animal activities.  The most excellent fasting is to make the human senses and organs, like the eyes, ears, heart, and thoughts, fast together with the stomach. That is, to withdraw them from all unlawful things and from trivia, and to urge each of them to their particular worship.  For example, to ban the tongue from lying, back-biting, and obscene language and to make it fast. And to busy it with activities like reciting the Qur’an, praying, glorifying God’s Names, asking for God’s blessings on the Prophet Muhammad (Upon whom be blessings and peace), and seeking forgiveness for sins. And for example, to prevent the eyes looking at members of the opposite sex outside the stipulated degrees of kinship, and the ears from hearing harmful things, and to use the eyes to take lessons and the ears to listen to the truth and to the Qur’an, is to make other organs fast too. As a matter of fact, since the stomach is the largest factory, if it has an enforced holiday from work through fasting, the other small workshops will be made to follow it easily. 


 One of the many instances of wisdom in Ramadan from the point of view of man’s personal life is as follows:  It is a healing physical and spiritual diet of the most important kind. When man’s instinctual soul eats and drinks just as it pleases, it is both harmful for man’s physical life from the medical point of view, and when it hurls itself on everything it encounters without considering whether it is licit or illicit, it quite simply poisons his spiritual life. Further, it is difficult for such a soul to obey the heart and the spirit. It wilfully takes the reins into its own hands, and then man cannot ride it, it rather rides man. But by means of fasting in Ramadan, it becomes accustomed to a sort of diet. It tries to discipline itself and learns to listen to commands.  Furthermore, it will not be attracting illness to that miserable, weak stomach by cramming it with food before the previous consignment has been digested. And by abandoning even licit actions as it is commanded, it will acquire the ability to listen to the commands of the Shari‘a and the reason, and so to avoid illicit actions. It will try not to destroy his spiritual life.  Moreover, the great majority of mankind frequently suffer from hunger. Man, therefore, needs hunger and discipline, which are training for patience and endurance. Fasting in Ramadan is patient endurance of a period of hunger that continues for fifteen hours, or for twenty-four if the pre-dawn meal is not eaten, and it is a discipline and a training. That is to say, fasting is also a cure for impatience and lack of endurance, which double man’s afflictions.  Futhermore, the factory of the stomach has many workers. And many of the human organs are connected to it. If the instinctual soul does not have a rest from activity during the day for a month, it makes the factory’s workers and those organs forget their particular duties. It makes them busy with itself so that they remain under its tyranny. Also, it confuses the rest of the organs in the human body with the clangour and steam of the factory’s machinery. It continuously attracts their attention to itself, making them temporarily forget their exalted duties. It is because of this that for centuries those closest to God have accustomed themselves to discipline and to eating and drinking little in order to be perfected.  However, through fasting in Ramadan the factory’s workers understand that they were not created for the factory only. While the rest of the organs, instead of delighting in the lowly amusements of the factory, take pleasure in angelic and spiritual amusements, and fix their gazes on them. It is for this reason that in Ramadan the believers experience enlightenment, fruitfulness, and spiritual joys which differ according to their degrees. Their subtle faculties, such as the heart, spirit, and intellect, make great progress and advancement in that blessed month by means of fasting. They laugh with innocent joy inspite of the stomach’s weeping. 


 One of the instances of wisdom in fasting in Ramadan with regard to shattering the instinctual soul’s imaginary dominicality and making known its worship through pointing out its impotence is as follows:  The instinctual soul does not want to recognize its Sustainer; it wants its own lordship, like Pharaoh. However much torment it suffers, that character remains in it. It is however destroyed through hunger. And so, fasting in Ramadan strikes direct blows at the soul’s pharaoh-like front, shattering it. It demonstrates its impotence, weakness, and want. It makes it realize that it is a slave.  Among the narrations of Hadith is the following: “God Almighty said to the instinctual soul: ‘What am I and what are you?’ The soul replied: ‘I am myself and You are Yourself.’ So He punished it and cast it into Hell, then asked it again. Again it replied: ‘I am myself and You are Yourself.’ However He punished it, it did not give up its egoism. Finally He punished it with hunger. That is, He left it hungry. Then again He asked it: ‘Who am I and who are you?’ And the soul replied: ‘You are my Compassionate Sustainer and I am your impotent slave.’”  O God! Grant blessings and peace to our master Muhammad, that will be pleasing to You and fulfilment of his truth to the number of the merits of the words of the Qur’an in the month of Ramadan, and to his Family and Companions, and grant them peace.  Limitless in His glory is your Sustainer, the Lord of Almightiness, [exalted] above anything that men may devise by way of definition! * And peace be upon all His message-bearers. * And all praise is due to God alone, the Sustainer of All the Worlds!4


1. Qur’an,

2: 185.  2. Qur’an, 65:3.

3. Qur’an, 2:255.


(Facebook / 27.07.2011)


Dutch Foreign Minister: Ties with Israel are like our bond with NATO

Dutch Foreign Minister: Ties with Israel are like our bond with NATO

Uri Rosenthal, a son of Holocaust survivors and married to an Israeli, stresses that his Jewish background and Israeli link don’t affect his decisions.

By Cnaan Liphshiz

A hardened scientist specialized in analyzing and managing national crises, Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal has limited patience for questions about his Holocaust survivor parents or his Israeli wife.

“I’m not thinking 24/7 that I’m from a Jewish background,” says 65-year-old Rosenthal, when asked about the significance he attaches to his Jewish background. “I’m at ease with my Jewish background. I’m not religious at all already from a very young age, though my parents kept some mitzvoth.”

Rosenthal’s parents fled Holland in 1942 to Switzerland, after spending two years in hiding. He was born in Switzerland in July 1945, the year in which the family returned to Holland. He grew up in The Hague, and became professor of government studies at the University of Leiden before his ministerial appointment two months ago for the ruling liberal party, the VVD.

Rosenthal lives in Rotterdam with his two children and wife, Dinah – a native Israeli from Haifa who came to the Netherlands after they met, and married in 1973. He often visits Israel, where he has family in Haifa and Ashkelon. “Sometimes I come a few times a year, sometimes only once in two years.”

By the fourth question about his Jewish affiliation, he comments that he hopes the interview – his first for an Israeli paper – will not be “all about family life.” A tall, broad-shouldered man with a calm, penetrative gaze, Rosenthal is emphatic that his Jewish background and link to Israel do not affect his decisions.Some have alleged otherwise. In June, television broadcaster Harry Mens theorized that Rosenthal – senate chairman of the center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) – had formed a “kind of lobby” with two other prominent Jewish leaders from the opposition: then Amsterdam mayor Lodewijk Asscher of Labor, and the leftist party’s chairman, Job Cohen.

Mens described this “alliance” as a “kongsi” – originally a Chinese word describing informal councils of exiles. A few weeks earlier, De Telegraaf, the country’s most-read daily, ran an opinion piece alluding to a “secret coalition” being forged by the same three Jewish politicians.

“I can only use the word stupid,” Rosenthal says in describing the kongsi theory. “It was simply a stupid, uninformed and nonsensical message, but not a new one. The same conspiracy story regularly pops up in the U.S.”

The Netherlands Police reported recently that there has been a 48-percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the country since 2008, a trend which is reflected in studies in neighboring nations. These figures, as well as similar statistics, convinced Frits Bolkenstein, a former official in the European Commission and one-time head of Rosenthal’s party, to advise practising Jews to leave The Netherlands for Israel and the United States.

Rosenthal concedes that Bolkenstein was responding to a true problem, in particular in Amsterdam. He says that the Dutch Jewish population is suffering at the hands of youths from a variety of ethnicities, but believes that Bolkenstein’s suggestion would not help the situation. “We have to address and solve this problem by ourselves. Perhaps up until now, the Amsterdam authorities have been lenient on it.”

One of the new foreign minister’s first statements regarding Israel concerned the website The Electronic Intifada, which was co-founded by a member of the Dutch parliament, for activists trying to promote an economic and cultural boycott of Israel. Rosenthal discovered that the anti-Israel site received support from a government-funded Christian humanitarian organization, and says he will have “a hard talk” with the aid group, ICCO.

“This site promotes policies which are totally at odds and diametrically opposite to the position of the Dutch government,” Rosenthal says. “Now, I don’t think all publically-funded organizations have a duty to adhere precisely to the position of the government, but there is a limit.”

The foreign minister compares calls to cut ties with Israel to demands to sever ties with NATO – a bond which according to researchers from the University of Twente has “determined a large part of Dutch foreign policy.”

“It’s like government support for an organization saying we should totally sever our ties with NATO, while the Dutch government feels itself a strong supportive member state,” he says.

Een Ander Joods Geluid Nederland, wijs Palestijnse staat niet af!


Een opiniestuk van Jaap Hamburger, voorzitter van EAJG

Het Israëlisch-Palestijns conflict bevindt zich in een langdurige impasse. Dit is dan ook de reden dat de Palestijnse Autoriteit heeft besloten in september zelfstandig bij de Verenigde Naties de Palestijnse staat uit te roepen.

Een Palestijnse staat is niet alleen in het belang van de Palestijnen, maar ook van Israël.Het Israëlisch-Palestijns conflict bevindt zich in een langdurige impasse. Onderhandelingen hebben de afgelopen jaren niets opgeleverd. Dit is dan ook de reden dat de Palestijnse Autoriteit heeft besloten in september zelfstandig bij de Verenigde Naties de Palestijnse staat uit te roepen in de Gazastrook, Oost-Jeruzalem en op de Westelijke Jordaanoever. Over de gevolgen van deze eenzijdige onafhankelijkheidsverklaring zijn de meningen verdeeld, maar het is duidelijk dat het uitroepen van een Palestijnse staat een game changer zou kunnen zijn. Alleen al daarom is het zonde dat Nederland dit initiatief op voorhand afwijst.

In juni 2009 opperde Salam Fayyad, premier van de Palestijnse Autoriteit, dat het mogelijk zou zijn om binnen twee jaar een zelfstandige Palestijnse staat op te richten. Door de fundamenten van de Palestijnse staat verder uit te bouwen, zou dit bereikt kunnen worden, aldus Fayyad. Het proces van institutieopbouw door de Palestijnse Autoriteit (op de Westelijke Jordaanoever) wordt ook wel ‘Fayyadisme’ genoemd, en heeft sinds dat moment een grote ontwikkeling doorgemaakt.

Toen in september 2010 de onderhandelingen tussen Israël en de Palestijnse Autoriteit werden stopgezet omdat de bouwstop voor Israëlische nederzettingen niet werd verlengd, kreeg het plan een meer concrete vorm. De Palestijnse Autoriteit zou eenzijdig de Palestijnse staat uitroepen bij de Algemene Vergadering van de Verenigde Naties in september 2011.

Nederland zal deze nieuwe staat naar alle waarschijnlijkheid niet erkennen. Minister Rosenthal van Buitenlandse Zaken liet in februari in een interview met de Israëlische krant Jerusalem Post weten dat het erkennen van een eenzijdig uitgeroepen Palestijnse staat geen enkel goed gevolg zal hebben. Eerder werd de minister in een motie, gesteund door een parlementaire meerderheid, opgeroepen om Europese steun aan de onafhankelijkheidsverklaring tegen te gaan.

Voorbarige positie

Nederland neemt hiermee een voorbarige positie in. In plaats van het eenzijdig uitroepen van een Palestijnse staat direct af te wijzen, zou de minister beter een wat meer afwachtende positie in kunnen nemen.

Feit is immers dat het vredesproces op sterven na dood is. De kans op nieuwe, laat staan succesvolle, onderhandelingen tussen Israël en de Palestijnen is klein. In een speech die de Israëlische premier Benjamin Netanyahu enkele weken geleden gaf in het bijzijn van het Amerikaans Congres werd pijnlijk duidelijk dat de huidige Israëlische regering niet bereid is om de Palestijnen tegemoet te komen. Netanyahu wees Jeruzalem als gedeelde hoofdstad af, pleitte voor het behoud van grote nederzettingen op de Palestijnse Westelijke Jordaanoever en verwierp elke Israëlische verantwoordelijkheid in het oplossen van het Palestijns vluchtelingenvraagstuk. Punten die simpelweg onacceptabel zijn voor de Palestijnen.

Een Palestijnse staat is niet alleen in het belang van de Palestijnen, maar ook van Israël.

Het wordt tijd dat Nederland de internationale realiteit onder ogen ziet: de Palestijnen zetten in op een eigen staat, en gaat dat niet door onderhandelingen, dan maar eenzijdig. In september verwacht de Palestijnse Autoriteit 130 VN-lidstaten achter zich te hebben die bereid zijn haar onafhankelijkheid te erkennen. Ter vergelijking: Kosovo, dat zich in februari 2008 onafhankelijk verklaarde, wordt momenteel door 76 VN-lidstaten erkend. Het is een signaal dat Nederland niet kan en mag negeren.


Nederland spreekt zich terecht uit voor een tweestatenoplossing, voor een onafhankelijk en levensvatbaar Palestina naast Israël. Het is niet alleen in het belang van de Palestijnen, maar ook van Israël dat een Palestijnse staat gecreëerd wordt. Door ronduit ‘nee’ te zeggen tegen het streven van de Palestijnse Autoriteit een eigen staat uit te roepen, geeft Nederland geen blijk van begrip voor de legitieme aspiraties aan Palestijnse zijde voor een eigen staat, een staat die door Israël’s nederzettingenbeleid en starre houding van de huidige Israëlische regering steeds minder vanzelfsprekend wordt.

Zal de onafhankelijkheidsverklaring direct een Palestijnse staat teweegbrengen? Op korte termijn zeker niet; de Israëlische bezetting van Palestijns gebied zal niet van de een op de andere dag verdwijnen. Op de langere termijn: wie weet. Na 44 jaar bezetting van de Palestijnse Gebieden kan dit wel eens de positieve game changer zijn die echte verandering teweeg brengt.

Jaap Hamburger, Voorzitter Een Ander Joods Geluid