News from Syria 26.01.2012 II

#Hama sec forces and armed gangs (shabeeha) launched a raid campaign in the Sakan Shababi (Youth Housing) in the area of Baath

#DeirEzzor Intense gunfire near the State Securty Branch in the city

26-1-2012 Karm Zaitoon nieghbourhood

#Homs Several powerful explosions are ongoing in Karm al-Zaytoun in addition to the horrific humanitarian crisis in al-Karthy district

#Daraa Heavy gunfire from al-Jeezeh and Musaifra checkpoints near the northern enterance to al-Jeezeh

Unlike daily habit, #Assad‘s forces didn’t shut down electricity here in central #Syria-n city of #Homs even they r shelling us intensively

Shooting explosions and shelling still taking place here in central #Syria-n city of #Homs till this moment 12:12am .A very critical night

#Daraa Nahta Heavy shelling on the village by sec forces and army and sounds of explosions heard from all areas

#Aleppo Mar’e Massive protest now in solidarity with besieged districts of #Homs and chanting for the toppling of the regime

20 #Daraa Hirak death of soldier Ahmad Salama Al Hariri 20 years old at the hands of sec forces

Latakia sec forces stationed at the checkpoint on Harash road open fire towards Bustan Saydawi to scare residents

Latakia Night protest in Antakya Street in solidarity with Karam Zeitoun and besieged districts of #Homs chants for toppling the regime

Intensive shelling via heavy machine taking place right now near my home here in #Homs i see them as red lines in the fogy sky #Syria

OP ED: Effect of Prejudices and the Imperial Structure On Palestine

SAM 1997_2ISRAELI SOLDIERS CONFRONT PROTESTERS AT A WEEKLY DEMONSTRATION IN MA’SARA VILLAGE (IMAGE BY EDRA ARB)

By Edra Arb

Are all Palestinians criminals; making mass imprisonment and the surveillance of everyday life necessary? Are they terrorists, murderers and oppressors who must be erased as a nation and as a people? Are all people on Earth worth fundamental Human Rights?

Our global world still consists of racist structures that put people in different categories; disfavouring those standing lowest and favouring those on top. Since prejudices justify the oppression of the lowest standing, it also helps those who are on top to remain there. The world media portrayal of a Palestinian (or maybe even an Arab in general) could be described roughly, as: crazy, murderous terrorists and Islamic extremists who have no respect for women. All these statements have been used, directly or indirectly, as justifications to continue the inhuman occupation of Palestine. The whole population is judged to be “legally incompetent”: not able to speak, move, vote or even live freely. My assignment for this article was to give my honest experience of living in the area as a foreigner, since most of the information about Palestine seems to come from sources other than Palestine itself.

Firstly, I would like to discuss the prejudices about violence, terrorism and murder. Since I came here I have not seen any type of violence. That does not mean that it does not exist – we are in the middle of a conflict zone. People here have seen and experienced more violence and death than I can ever imagine or understand. Soldiers with loaded machine guns are simply a part of everyday life, sitting in corners eating pizza or surrounding peaceful demonstrations. They don’t usually shoot, but the threat is always present.

It is hard to find statistics about how many Palestinians have killed Israelis and vice versa during the whole conflict. According to the Israeli Human Rights Organization, almost five times more Palestinians than Israelis were killed during the period from 1989 to 2009. The question then is why Palestinians in the media are almost always described as the violent ones. Why does Israel always insist that the Palestinian Authority do more to stop Palestinian violence before there can be any peace solution, when most of the violence is perpetrated by the Israelis themselves?

According to what I have found out here, the most common violence committed by Palestinians against Israelis is throwing stones at Israeli soldiers, especially near the wall or settlements. Israel uses this to justify arresting Palestinians and giving them year-long detention and shooting at them. But why throw stones at armed soldiers? I asked a Palestinian who was active in the second intifada: “It is just the feeling. I am not stupid enough to honestly think that they will give us freedom because of that, but in some way I have to take a symbolic action to show that I have not given up.” All kinds of violence is a crime, though it is hard to compare stones and bullets. Settlers have had impunity in almost all cases, including killings, according to Amnesty International in their Annual Report 2011. No one here would be surprised if a settler who shot a stone-thrower directly at their body escaped all legal sanctions.

I have been speaking with many Palestinians about this prejudice against martyrs and terrorists. They are repeating a main message that should be too simple to bear repeating: Palestinians are, as everybody else, in almost all cases filled with feelings and hope for a long, healthy life. They do not want their kids to die or become terrorists. All they want is to live in peace, but without humiliation and more losses. No fair peace could be gained if there is no justice between the two parts.

The next prejudices to discuss are the religious issues. Firstly, the common opinion that the Israeli – Palestinian conflict is all about religion is simply wrong. It is all about politics. I have never heard any Palestinian say that he or she hates Jews, but I have heard a lot of that said about Zionists. Zionism is a political ideology about the right to a Jewish state where Palestine once was. In the West Bank, Muslims, Christians and Palestinian Jews live together on the same land. On the same square where the worldwide important Nativity church is in Bethlehem, there is also a mosque. I have been as much with Christian friends as with Muslims, and there have not been borders between us because of different beliefs. This conflict is a struggle between ideologies and culture; about power, money and land. Not about religion.

The oppression of women is another famous prejudice. I was warned before I came here that “In those countries the women are only like possessions of men. Western woman especially are seen as prostitutes.” My experience has not proved this statement; on the contrary, it has been very easy for me to get around here.

I do not like to compare Israel and Palestine in unessential issues in order just to make one country seem better then the other, but it is important to open up the debate about these things – there are almost twice as many women in the Palestinian parliament as in the Israeli parliament Knesset. This does not demonstrate a perfect situation for women, but it may prove the way that we are judging people, nationalities and cultures without facts or experience. There are probably oppressed women in both Israel and Palestine. And why should oppression because of nationality decrease the oppression of women?

It is important to point out the difference between individuals in this issue as well. A Palestinian woman tried to explain the difference between families, villages and society here. How a woman can live, dress and behave is very different depending on which norms they were raised with. This is not only a religious issue; Christian women and Muslim women are in a very similar situation since they are living in the same society. Some families or areas are more conservative than others, and vice versa. As always, norms and life are affected by culture, but depend on individuals.

The worst and most important part of this is how prejudices and global social status is affecting Palestinians’ access to Human Rights and their ability to live a life in freedom. Since the image of them as a “dangerous”, “Islamic extremist” people has been spread over the world, the fact that they are now imprisoned inside a wall and are everyday victims of crimes against Human Rights has not yet generated as much attention as it should. What if Germany or the USA was inside a wall, with no full right of movement or expression? Would the world accept that? Absolutely not. Would the UN give Switzerland to the Armenians if they needed a land? Definitely not.

14 countries voted “no” for a Palestinian membership in UNESCO. The US, Canada, Germany and Israel were some of the countries. Sweden also said “no” to Palestine’s UNESCO membership, one of the arguments was the following: “We cannot disregard that almost half of Palestine is ruled by a party that we find terroristic (Hamas).”

However, it might seem a little bit contradictive to have this argument and promote democracy. Hamas was elected in 2006. They were not able to rule in the West Bank as the US and the EU froze their grants if Fatah did not rule anyway. Palestinians are under occupation, and they are not even seen able to elect their own government. Why didn’t the EU just invalidate George Bush when he attacked Iraq or started the Guantanamo base? No, he got support. The Hungarian government has recently adopted several laws that are seen as undemocratic, why does the world not oust them?

Nevertheless, Palestine was backed by 107 countries in the UNESCO. Just after, when Israel had “condemned the rudeness all these 107 countries had committed”, they exacted this revenge: to build 2000 more houses for settlers inside “The Occupied Palestinian Territories” and to temporarily freeze the transfer of Palestinian taxes to the Palestinian Authority. Nothing has been done about that. This is the imperialistic structure of the world; how some states can occupy territories. How some states can deny others rights when others cannot. What if Palestine occupied and imprisoned Israel? What if Iraq attacked the US? According to The Lancet’s survey, the occupation of Iraq has led to 655,000 Iraqi deaths. To spread democracy?

Prejudices are making the Palestinians suffer, both as individuals and as a people. They give them less human rights and humiliate them. The Palestinians are not the only people in the world who suffer from prejudices that both exclude them from power and dignity. I have not experienced the normal Palestinian as a terrorist. I have experienced a country full of individuals who for more than sixty years have suffered more than they deserve. I have experienced a welcoming country where, if not for the occupation, it is easy to travel within and to feel comfortable. Crimes are committed here, and Palestinians are victims of crimes.

If we are going to continue to judge people due to their ethnicity or nationality we might as well agree on the following facts:

Blondes are in almost every case, stupid

Jews are without many exceptions, greedy

Immigrants (in every country) are criminals

East Europeans drink vodka for breakfast

(english.pnn.ps / 26.01.2012)

Lebanese minister tours refugee camp, discusses cooperation with UNRWA

24 January 2012
Beirut

A memorandum of understanding was signed today in Burj Barajneh Palestine refugee camp between the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and Lebanon’s Ministry of Social Affairs. Its purpose is to determine further cooperation between UNRWA and the ministry.

The memorandum was signed by His Excellency Mr. Wael Bou Faour, the Minister of Social Affairs, and Mr. Salvatore Lombardo, the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon. Present were the president of the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee, Ambassador Abdel Majid Qassir, and the Chargé d’Affaires in the Embassy of Palestine, Mr. Ashraf Dabbour.

This memorandum sets forth cooperation with respect to assistance, care, rehabilitation, and awareness for the most vulnerable groups among the Palestine refugees, including children, orphans, women, the elderly, and people with special needs.

Ambassador Dabbour expressed his thanks on behalf of Palestine refugees in Lebanon to all those who endeavour to alleviate the suffering of these refugees in Lebanon, and added, “We reiterate the need for cooperation with the Lebanese government through the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee and in full coordination with UNRWA, and for reminding the international community of its responsibility toward our people in supporting our struggle to improve our socio-economic conditions until the return to our homeland.”

On this occasion, Minister Wael Abou Faour said, “This memorandum of understanding includes the provision of services to the most vulnerable Palestine refugees in Lebanon through specialised institutions of the ministry and contracted institutions.” He added that a special fund will be established by UNRWA to fund such services. Commenting on his tour inside the camp, Abou Faour called on his fellow ministers to visit a Palestinian camp, because “whoever wants to rediscover his humanity has to see the living conditions in Palestine refugee camps in Lebanon.” He also called on Lebanon and the Lebanese to overcome their apprehension of the naturalisation of Palestinians, “which obstructs us from doing what will protect the dignity and rights of Palestinians as well as the safety of the Lebanese and the Lebanese society.”

Mr. Lombardo thanked the Government of Lebanon, represented by Minister Bou Faour, and said, “This agreement with the Lebanese Ministry of Social Affairs is an important contribution to Palestine refugees, as it allows technical expertise to the most vulnerable. The visit by the minister to Burj Barajneh Camp confirms the commitment of the minister and his ministry to improving living conditions in the interest of Lebanon and the Palestinians.”

Before signing the memorandum, Minister Bou Faour toured Burj Barajneh camp. He visited the Women’s Programme Centre and was briefed on their daily challenges. He also visited the Active Aging House and met with elderly refugees, who spoke of their memories of Palestine before the Nakba.

The visit also came within the framework of the “Dignity for All” program, funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office, which aims at changing perceptions between the Lebanese people and Palestinian communities by raising awareness and highlighting positive aspects on which to build.

(www.unrwa.org / 26.01.2012)

300 truckloads of goods enter Gaza

Trucks carrying goods pictured at the Kerem Shalom crossing.
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli forces allowed limited commercial and agricultural goods into Gaza on Thursday via the Kerem Shalom crossing.

Israel allowed 300 truckloads of goods to enter Gaza and two trucks of flowers and strawberries to be exported from the coastal enclave, Palestinian border crossing official Raed Fattouh told Ma’an.

Twenty-two cars will also enter Gaza together with communications equipment and cement for international projects, he said.

The southernmost border crossing is the only operating entry point for commercial goods and humanitarian aid into the coastal enclave, which is home to more than 1.65 million Palestinians.

(www.maannews.net / 26.01.2012)

Arbitrary Detention and Detention of Children as Adults

Israeli military justice authorities arbitrarily detained Palestinians who advocated non-violent protest against Israeli settlements and the route of the separation barrier. In October a military court sentenced Abdallah Abu Rahme, from the village of Bil’in, to one year in prison on charges of inciting violence and organizing illegal demonstrations, largely on the basis of coerced statements by children. In January the Israeli military released anti-wall activist Muhammad Othman, after detaining him for 113 days without charge.

While Israeli courts define Israelis under 18 years of age as children in accordance with international standards, Israeli military courts continue to treat Palestinians over the age of 16 as “adults,” and sentence them as adults according to their age at sentencing even if they were children at the time of the offense. Israel detained at least 286 children under 18, including 20 under the age of 15, as of September. Human rights groups reported dozens of cases in which Israeli authorities detained and questioned Palestinian children without a family member present or access to a lawyer, as required by law, and allegedly mistreated them in custody to coerce them to sign confessions in Hebrew, which they did not understand.

As of September Israel held 189 Palestinians in administrative detention without charge.

(Facebook / 26.01.2012)

Palestinian youth and students condemn UK student propaganda tour of Israel

Open letter to UK student activist participants in propaganda tour of Israel from Palestinian students and youth

We, Palestinian students and youth organisations, were shocked and disappointed to learn of your all expenses paid junket to Israel, involving prominent Labour party student activists and organised by the Union of Jewish Students.[1] By being involved in this propaganda tour, you have crossed a picket line established by the entirety of the Palestinian civil society.

The 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is a call for supporters of Palestinian rights to actualise their support with concrete and effective actions of solidarity.[2] Boycotting official Israeli state institutions is probably the easiest and most basic form that such support could take. By choosing instead to engage with official Israeli state institutions, you have created a false impression that Israel is a state like any other, rather than one that practices occupation, colonisation and apartheid over the indigenous Palestinian population.

In recent weeks, Palestinians have been commemorating the third anniversary of Operation Cast Lead, the 2008-09 Gaza massacre during which Israel committed crimes against humanity, a UN Fact Finding Mission established. Meeting with Mark Regev, the public face of that massacre and the chief spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is a grave insult to the memories of the more than 1,400 Palestinians that lost their lives during the 22 days of unrelenting aerial bombardment and ground incursions.

Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory are recognised as illegal under law by the entirety of the international community, including the UK government. Your visit to Gush Etzion is precisely the kind of emboldening support on which the continued colonisation of our territory depends.

Also understand that your decision to meet with OneVoice only places you more firmly on the side of the oppressor. When they are not grounded in a mutual and active opposition to Israeli violations of international law, such dialogue initiatives constitute a form of normalisation that seek to equate the oppressor with the oppressed and are deeply damaging to the realisation of our rights.[3] As Palestinian youth and student organisations, we have been engaged in many successful campaigns against such initiatives in recent months.

The effective forms of solidarity currently being shown in the UK have inspired Palestinian students and youth. The National Union of Students should be applauded for initiating campaigns against Veolia and Eden Springs over their complicity with Israeli violations of international law, and for supporting the fantastic campaign being waged by students at King’s College London against their university’s collaboration with Ahava, the Israeli settlement enterprise. The motions passed at student unions across the UK in support of BDS initiatives have been equally impressive, and we look forward to hearing how Israeli Apartheid Week will contribute to the further growth of the student movement in support of Palestine. Your fellow students have shown that concrete and effective solidarity, rather than all expenses paid pro-Israel junkets, is the way to contribute to a just and lasting peace.

Endorsed by:

Al-Quds Open University Student Councils
Al-Quds University Student Council
An-Najah University Student Council
Arab American University in Jenin Student Council
Bethlehem University Student Council
Birzeit University Student Council
Hebron Polytechnic University Student Council
Association of Youth in Jerusalem
Fateh Youth Movement
Herak Shababi, and other youth groups participating in the March 15th demonstrations and actions against normalization
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for Academic Boycott of Israel
Right to Education Campaign
Youth Against the Settlements

[1] http://electronicintifada.net/content/uk-labour-party-student-officials-face-backlash-over-free-tour-israel-settlements/10819

http://www.journal-online.co.uk/article/8401-eusa-vicepresident-under-fire-over-disgraceful-israel-junket

[2] http://www.bdsmovement.net/call

[3] For more on the concept of normalisation, see http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1436and http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1749

[4] http://electronicintifada.net/blog/jalal-abukhater/cancellation-sharif-dorzis-concert

(www.bdsmovement.net / 26.01.2012)

Israel may use phosphorous shell in Gaza

Israel used white phosphorus shells during the December 2008-January 2009 war against Gaza.
A newly released report says Israel is considering the use of US-made white phosphorus shells in its probable future attack on the Gaza Strip.

According to a report published by the Jerusalem Post on Thursday, Israeli military officials are discussing whether “M825A1” white phosphorus shells should be used in a future ground operation in Gaza.

Israel used a number of M825A1 shells during the December 2008-January 2009 war against Gaza.

The M825A1 shells explode in midair and create smoke screens to mask the movement of troops on the ground or their position.

If used as an offensive incendiary weapon, white phosphorus can cause life-threatening burns.

The latest report comes almost a month after the chief of staff of the Israeli military, Lt. General Benny Gantz, said on the third anniversary of the Gaza War that Tel Aviv will “sooner or later” need to launch a “significant operation” against the Gaza Strip.

More than 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli war against Gaza.

Residents still live in what is known to be the “world’s largest open-air prison” as Israel remains in full control of the airspace, territorial waters and border crossings of Gaza.

(www.presstv.ir / 26.01.2012)

Jordan warns it will punish Israel with sanctions

 

Jordan’s King Abdullah alluded to a possible deterioration in Amman’s relationship with Jerusalem if unless Israel will “demonstrate it is willing to make considerable moves” to reignite the stalled Israeli-Palestinianpeace process, the Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper reported Wednesday.
According to the London-based Arab publication, Abdullah expected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to “make significant concessions which willallow the Palestinian leadership to justify their return to the negotiating table.”
The papers sources said that the king has “three aces up his sleeves,” which he may choose to use of Israel proves “suborn,” including the possible reduction or suspension of the diplomatic ties between Israel and Jordan, while possibly bolstering ties with both the Jordanian Opposition and even Iran. Thursday will make the Quartet’s dealing to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, by which both parties were supposed to present their updated positions on security and the issue of borders.

 

Chief Israeli and Palestinian negotiators Yitzhak Molcho and Saeb Erekat will meet later Wednesday, in what Palestinian sources said is likely to be the last round of Amman talks.

According to the report, Abdullah has been able to convince PalestinianPresident Mahmoud Abbas that Jordan should be give a chance to broker the Israeli-Palestinian talks.

According to the Maan news agency, Abbas “Refuses and will continue to refuse to prolong the talks… He sees today’s meeting as the last chance to broker an agreement that will allow the preliminary talks to continue and eventually mature into full-fledge negotiations.”

Abbas, the sources added, is poised to declare that the Amman talks have failed.

Palestinian sources told Ynet that “the ball is in Israel’s court.” The PA criticized Israel for “failing to meet the Quartet’s basic demands,” adding that it does not expect Israel to meet the Palestinian demand for a construction freeze in the West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority will convene its executive committee in Ramallah in the next few days to decide on the PA’s next move. The Arab League’s Middle East Committee will convene in mid February to review possible diplomatic moves in the matter, the report said.

(www.yourjewishnews.com / 26.01.2012)

Call me a Palestinian from Palestine

Don’t call me homeless, because I have a home thousands of years old.

I have a home in Jrash which you demolished, erased from your map. I have a home whose stones still stand as witness to your crimes, still stand witness to what once was and to what will be. I have a home that will be rebuilt with the same stones and on the same spot where it originally was and where it should be. I have a home in Jerusalem which you occupy, a home that will be liberated. I have a home in Hebron which you closed, a home that will be reopened. I have a home in Gaza which you bombed, a home that will be rebuilt. I have a home carved in my heart. I have a home in An-Naqab, I have a home in Tabaria, I have a home in Bisan, I have a home in Jenin, I have a home in Jerusalem, I have a home in Safad. Every part of Palestine is my home; every olive field is my sitting room, every hilltop is my balcony, every meadow is my playground, every stone is my chair, every bit of shadow beneath a fig tree is my bed. The land of Palestine is my ground, the sky over Palestine is my roof. All of Palestine is my home, my one and only home.
Don’t call me homeless, because I have a home and it’s called Palestine.

Don’t call me voiceless, because I have a voice even if you don’t want to listen.
I have a voice that roars in the midst of the storm. I have a voice that breaks the silence of those who sing non-stop of humanity, of human rights to every other people and every other nation, but are blind, deaf and mute to the Zionist crimes. I have a voice that silences the lies, silences the hasbara. I have a voice that sings of freedom, of liberation and of return. I have a voice that is louder than the whips of oppression, louder than the bullets of the occupation. My voice is my heart that beats every second to write in blood the name of my beloved Palestine. My voice is my eyes that see Palestine as it will always be; one from the river to the sea. My voice is my body that stands steadfast, only armed with a belief in a just cause, to face your bulldozer, your bombs, your tanks and your war planes. My voice is my hand that plants the lands you so savagely murder, that waters the olive and the fig tree that you so mercilessly massacre. My voice is my fingers that draw Palestine free of occupation and colonization. My voice is the children who memorize the names of the villages you erased, and write these names in their hearts, in their copybooks and on their maps. My voice is the children who cherish the keys to their homes, hold on to them, dream of the homes that are theirs, the homes that once stood under the blue sky of Palestine, and wait for the day to return and rebuild them. My voice is the children who count the number of trees you uproot, and replant a thousand tree for every tree you kill. My voice are the children who wake up to the sound of your planes, go to school despite your tanks, play in the alley of Palestine despite your bombs, fly kites despite your F-16, face your machine gun with their slingshot. My voice is the children who continue to dream of freedom and return every day despite your terror, despite your killing machines. My voice is the parent who plants the love of Palestine in the hearts of children. My voice is the youth who raises the flag of Palestine in the face of oppression. My voice is the elderly who passes the heritage of Palestine to the future generations. My voice is the farmer who draws Palestine in every field, on every hilltop, on every flower and on every leaf. My home is the teacher who teachers the children a song about Palestine. My voice is the refugee who swears to return to Palestine.
Don’t call me voiceless, because every cell of me screams: Palestine.

Don’t call me a terrorist, because you are the one terrorizing my family and my homeland.
You occupy our home, colonize it with aliens and expel us from our birthplace. You kill our children while sitting in their classrooms, you kill our parents while on their way to work, you kill our friends while waiting at checkpoints. You bomb our schools during the day while we are at our desks, you bomb our homes at night while we are asleep, you bomb our streets while we play, you bomb our fields while we pick the olives, you bomb our ambulances while they rush us to hospital. You kidnap our siblings from their beds, from their schools and from their workplace, you torture our comrades and imprison them in dark cold dungeons. You demolish our homes over our heads, uproot our trees and destroy our fields to build colonies and roads for aliens who don’t speak the language of the land. You steal our drinking water, you starve our children and our olive trees to fill your swimming pools and to water you European exported flowers and trees. You walk our roads armed from head to toe, you burn our mosques and besiege our churches, you teach your children that “a good Arab is a dead Arab”. You steal our homeland, steal our homes and fields, steal our heritage. You massacre our songs, our tales, our laughter, our books and our dances. You attack us with phosphorous bombs and F-16 and markavas. You shoot our pregnant mothers, our baby brothers, our children. You threaten our existence every day, every minute, every second.
Don’t call me a terrorist because it is you who is the personification of terrorism.

Don’t call me invented, because my roots in this land are as old as the land itself.
I am part of the land and the land is part of me. My blood and sweat have since the dawn of history watered this land, kept it green and blooming and gave the poppies their colour. I have a history in this land that is older than the history of your invented entity and older than the history of the colonial powers that support you. It is my homeland you stole in order to create an invented homeland for yourself. It is my cultural heritage you stole in order to create an invented identity for yourself. It is my history you twisted in order to create an invented history for yourself. It is my homes, my villages, my playgrounds you erased in order to create an invented home for yourself. It is my groves, my fields, my flowers you stole in order to invent for yourself a link to this land. It is my olive tree you uprooted and replanted in your colonies in order to invent a place for yourself in this land. You stole my land, you stole my home, you stole my field, you stole my Hannoun, you stole my olive tree. You stole my Yaffa, you stole my Haifa, you stole my Beisan, you stole my Ramlah, you stole my Tabaria, you stole my Tarshiha, you stole my Jrash. You stole my Dabkah, you stole my Dal’ouna, you stole my Thoub, you stole my food. You stole my books, you stole my history, you stole my tales, you stole my songs. You stole my identity and you call me invented? It is you who is invented, living in an invented entity, creating for yourself an invented identity.
Don’t call me invented because Palestine is as old as time itself and “Israel” is the invented entity.

Don’t call me Israeli Arab, because there is no such thing as an Israeli Arab.
I am a Palestinian from Palestinian Yaffa. I am a Palestinian from Palestinian Acca. I am a Palestinian from Palestinian Beisan. I am a Palestinian from Palestinian An-Naqab. I am a Palestinian from Palestinian Al-Jalil. I am a Palestinian from Palestinian Beir As-Sabi’. I am a Palestinian from Palestinian An-Nasirah. I am a Palestinian from Palestinian Al-Quds. This land has my features imprinted in every stone, every tree, every cloud, every flower and every creek. You can force me to speak your language, but the land I walk on, the sky above me, the wind and the rain and the rainbow whisper my name: Palestinian. You can force me to write my name in your alphabet, but engraved in the rocks, drawn in the sky, printed in the leaves of trees is one word in Arab: Palestinian. You can force me to carry the ID card of your entity, but the blood that runs in my veins screams I am from Palestine, Ana min Falasteen. You can force my tongue to sing your invented anthem, but my heart will always sing Palestine. You can force my hand to write “Israel” on the map, but my eyes will only see Palestine. You can force me to study the invented history of your entity, but my mind will repeat the massacres you committed, the villages you erased, the on-going Nakba you are causing. You come from the USA and you claim a right to my homeland. You come from Germany and you illegalize my existence, my heritage and my history in this land. You come from France and you lock me up in ghettos in my own homeland. You come from Russia and you silence my mosques and my churches. You come from Ukraine and you deny me my birthright and my rights. But listen, and listen carefully: I am a Palestinian from Palestine, this is my home and I am here to stay till the end of days.
Don’t call me Israeli Arab, because I am a Palestinian from Palestine.

Don’t call me a Palestinian of the Palestinian Territories because it is called Palestine.
Don’t give me a fraction of my homeland and call it a solution. Don’t give me oppression and call it peace. Don’t give me a Bantustan and call it a home. Don’t give me a prison and call it freedom. Don’t draw the borders of my existence according to your whims and interests and call it a state. My home is not a disfigured result of a till-death-do-us-part-marriage between the occupier and the champions of negotiators-for-life that yields a Bantustan on 20% of my homeland. My home is not a “lets legitimize the Zionist racist colonization of Palestine and hope they accept us and allow us to live with them one day” tale for the sake of fame and a shoulder pat from “conditional-supporters”, while giving the Zionist usurpers a right to my land which they stole and continue to colonize… a right to my home which they destroyed and continue to destroy…. a right to my village which they ethnically cleansed and continue to do so to the rest of Palestine… a right to Palestine, the Palestine they raped and continue to rape for over 63 years, a rape they are proud of and celebrate very year while denying us even the tears and the memories and the names of the victims they massacred and the villages they erased. My Palestine is the home that is mine since the dawn of history till the end of history. My Palestine is the home of my ancestors, the home between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.
Don’t call me a Palestinian of the Palestinian Territories, because I am a Palestinian from Palestine.

Don’t call me a dreamer, because I refuse to surrender and I know that one day Palestine will be free.
Don’t call me unrealistic, because I refuse to surrender and I know that one day Palestine will be free.
Don’t call me crazy, because I refuse to surrender and I know that one day Palestine will be free.
I know that one day, Zionism will be defeated. I know that one day, occupation will be history. I know that one day, justice will prevail. I know that one day, the sun will shine again over Palestinian famers working in Marj Ibin Amer. I know that one day, the sea will hear the whispers of Palestinian fishermen watching the sunset over Acca. I know that one day, the gentle breeze will race the laughter of Palestinian children along the streets of the old city of Jerusalem. I know that one day, Palestinian refugees will return to build their villages and their homes. I know that one day, Palestine will be free of the Zionist colonists, the cowards and racists that they are, for they don’t know justice, they don’t want justice, they fear justice and thus they have no place in this land. Those who destroy the land, will never be part of the land. Those for whom the land is the parent, the sibling, the child, the friend and the entire existence will always be part of the land.
Don’t act as if I don’t exist because I am here, and here I will stay, forever.
Don’t call me anything but Palestinian because there is only one home for me; Palestine.
Don’t call me anything but Palestinian because there is only one Palestine; from the River to the Sea.
Don’t call me anything but Palestinian because that is what I am: a Palestinian from Palestine.

(avoicefrompalestine.wordpress.com / 26.01.2012)

Report of IPSC protest against Israeli parliamentary visit to Ireland

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On the evening of Wednesday 18th January, the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) held a protest against an official Israeli parliamentary visit to the Oireachtas. This visit of two Israeli Knesset [Parliament] members and their entourage was kept secret by the Irish state until the evening before the two MKs arrived. With less than 12 hours notice, the IPSC organised a protest of over 40 pro-Palestine activists outside the gates of the Dail to coincide with the MKs’ official meeting with the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and Tanaiste, Eamon Gilmore TD. The MKs were ushered in via a back entrance due to unspecified “security concerns”.

This visit, the highest profile Israeli state visit in over 25 years, was part of an ongoing attempt to normalise the abnormal, i.e., the apartheid policies of the Israeli state directed against the Palestinian people. Such visits – including the official welcomes by both the Dail and Seanad, along with high profile political meetings – serve only to legitimise Israel’s apartheid regime and associated breaches of international law. They portray serious and grave breaches of international law not as clear-cut issues where there are perpetrators and victims, but as disputed issues that are open for “debate between democratic countries”.

The IPSC, taking its cue from Palestinian civil society organisations, trade unions and churches, advocates a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it ends it occupation of Palestinian lands and complies fully with its obligations under international law. It was for this reason the IPSC organised this demonstration outside the Oireachtas.

How, if instead of punishing Israel for its crimes, it is essentially rewarded, can anyone be expected believe that its illegal actions will ever cease? There is no reason to compel it to do so, and thus it carries on knowing that aside from the occasional rhetorical reprimand from the international community, it can act with impunity. This is a situation that is both unacceptable and untenable, and it is well past time that the Irish government took a serious stand, backed up with meaningful action, to aid the Palestinian people in their struggle for their human, national and democratic rights.

This article is an extract from the IPSC’s Kevin Squires’ personal take on the visit and surrounding issues over on Irish Left Review.

Photo credit: Fatin Al Tamimi. Video credit: Greg Manahan

(www.ipsc.ie / 26.01.2012)