U.S. F-16s, missiles to stay in Jordan after drill: official

F-16 Fighting Falcon. The United States will keep F-16 fighter jets and Patriot anti-missile weapons in Jordan after a joint military exercise ends this month.

The United States will keep F-16 fighter jets and Patriot anti-missile weapons in Jordan after a joint military exercise ends this month, amid concerns over the raging civil war in neighboring Syria, a U.S. defense official said Thursday.

The U.S. administration, which is weighing a decision to arm Syria’s rebels, also planned to keep a unit of U.S. Marines on amphibious ships off the coast after consultations with Jordan’s leadership, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

(Source / 13.06.2013)

Kwaadspreken over je broeder/zuster

By Marianna Laarif

Allah zegt (interpretatie van de betekenis):
“Jullie gelovigen, vermijdt zoveel mogelijk verdenkingen, want veel van de verdenkingen zijn zonden. Bespioneert elkaar niet en spreekt geen kwaad over elkaar in elkaars afwezigheid. Houdt iemand van jullie ervan om het vlees van zijn dode broeder te eten? Jullie zouden het zeker haten. En vreest Allah, waarlijk Allah is Berouwaanvaardend en Genadevol.”
(Soerat al-Hoedjoeraat: 12)
Dit is een prachtig voorbeeld van analogie. Het aantasten van de eer van je broeder wordt vergeleken met het openrijten van zijn vlees. Het gegeven dat een roddelaar de eer van zijn broeder in zijn afwezigheid aantast, is net alsof hij zijn zielloze lichaam verscheurt.
En aangezien degene over wie geroddeld wordt afwezig is en dus niet in staat is om het voor zichzelf op te nemen, werd hij vergeleken met een dode waarvan het vlees wordt opengereten en niet in staat is om dit tegen te houden.
Dit terwijl de kern van de Islamitische broederschap gericht is op onderlinge steun en loyaliteit. De roddelaar daarentegen staat het zichzelf toe om in strijd hiermee te handelen en zijn moslimbroeder met zijn tong te schaden. En omdat hij geniet door zich te vergrijpen aan de eer van zijn broeder, werd hij afgebeeld als iemand die het vlees van zijn broeder verscheurt en er vervolgens van geniet door het op te eten.
Het feit dat hij eerst het vlees verscheurt en vervolgens ervan geniet door het op te eten, benadrukt de ernst van deze toestand. Daarom zou eenieder van ons goed naar deze vergelijking moeten kijken. Deze vergelijking wordt voorafgegaan door de vraagstelling of wij ervan houden om tot zo’n daad over te gaan, en wordt afgesloten met de vermelding dat wij zoiets zouden haten. En als wij dit werkelijk zouden haten, waarom vervallen wij dan in een soortgelijke gruweldaad (i.e. het roddelen)?
Dus Allah gebruikt datgene tegen ons wat ons afschrikt om ons te waarschuwen voor datgene waar wij ons hartelijk aan vergrijpen. Laat dit dan een wijze les zijn voor ons om voortaan op de vlucht te slaan voor roddel en achterklap, en moge Allah ons hierbij helpen.
Imam Ibn ul-Qayyim
(Iclaam ul-Moewaqqicien, blz. 129)

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

press release
flags

 

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

(Source / 13.06.2013)

‘Sloop de Muur’, was het zinvol zo’n burgerinitiatief?

Als Nederland zich wil beschermen tegen een te groot aantal lieden die vanuit België on land bestormen om hasj te kopen en dat – zeg maar – wil doen door bij de grens een muur te bouwen, dan mag dat. Maar als die muur een flink stuk in België wordt gebouwd, dan mag dat niet volgens het internationale recht. Dan komt dat namelijk neer op landroof en annexatie.
Ongeveer iedereen kan dat onmiddellijk begrijpen. Maar gek genoeg ligt dat heel anders als Israel zo’n muur bouwt en dat over de grens doet, in bezet Palestijns gebied. Israel doet daarmee precies hetzelfde als wanneer wij onze muur grotendeels zouden bouwen  in België. Het bouwde de muur precies rondom de stukjes die het graag wil hebben en waar  – om het duidelijker te stellen – al flink wat nederzettingen heeft gebouwd. Maar wat Nederland niet zou mogen in België of Duitsland, mag Israel kennelijk wel van een meerderheid van de Nederlandse politici in het gebied van de Palestijnen.Dan wordt er ineens met heel andere ogen naar gekeken.

Van Agt in actie.

Dat bleek woensdag weer eens toen het burgerinitiatief  ‘Sloop de Muur’ door de Tweede Kamer werd behandeld. Sloop de Muur heeft in de afgelopen tijd zo’n 65.000 handtekeningen verzameld en dan moet zo’n voorstel door de Tweede Kamer worden besproken. De verdediging ervan viel ten deel aan oud-premier Dries van Agt, die daarmee na 30 jaar weer een keer terug was in de Kamer. Van Agt, 82 inmiddels, verdedigde het initiatief met verve, ik kan niet ander zeggen.

Dit is onder meer wat hij zei:

Het ten deze toepasselijke dwingend internationaal recht is uiteengezet in de uitspraak van het Internationaal Gerechtshof van 9 juli 2004. Wat vooral opvalt is de herhaaldelijk terugkerende benadrukking: “Israel is under an obligation”. Israël is verplicht de muur af te breken en de getroffenen schadeloos te stellen. Maar ook wordt gezegd, dat andere landen verplichtingen hebben, vooral staten welke zijn aangesloten bij de Vierde Geneefse Conventie van 1949. Nederland is daarbij aangesloten (Israël zelf trouwens ook). Die aangesloten staten moeten ervoor zorgen dat Israël zich aan die Conventie houdt, staat er in vierkante bewoordingen in. Het internationaal recht gebiedt ons dus actie te ondernemen tegen de vergrijpen die Israël pleegt tegen die Conventie. Het bouwen van de muur is een van die vergrijpen.
Het veronachtzamen van ernstige schendingen van de internationale rechtsorde, terwijl optreden mogelijk zou zijn, is ontrouw aan onze Grondwet. Zolang aan Israël geen strobreed in de weg wordt gelegd, wordt de internationale rechtsorde niet bevorderd maar beschadigd. Onze regering moet in deze zaak actie nemen en ons parlement is gehouden te bewerkstelligen dat zij dit doet.
Na de uitspraak uit 2004 zijn wij nu negen jaren verder en de uitvoering van dit wederrechtelijke project gaat voluit door. De conclusie is onontkoombaar dat de staat Israël moet worden genoodzaakt zich naar het internationaal recht te schikken. Een ruim repertoire aan sanctiemiddelen staat ter beschikking.
Aangezien Israël zijn verplichtingen uit het Handvest van de Verenigde Naties niet bereid is na te komen, dient de positie van dit land in de VN aan de orde te worden gesteld. Een optie is ook de invoering van een visumplicht voor personen met de Israëlische nationaliteit. Hierbij kunnen inwoners van nederzettingen in Palestina, waartoe ook Oost-Jeruzalem behoort, van visumverlening worden uitgesloten. Er zijn velerlei andere sancties beschikbaar van politieke, economische en financiële aard. Zo kan de militaire samenwerking met Israël worden beëindigd. Van een verdere intensivering van de bilaterale betrekkingen met Israël kan al helemaal geen sprake meer zijn.
Een uitgebreider toelichting is u dezer dagen toegezonden. Daarin zijn ook alle gangbare argumenten tegen het opleggen van sancties aan Israël geïnventariseerd. Alle zijn onhoudbaar bevonden.  (De hele rede van Van Agt staat hier).

In korte bewoordingen vertaald: Wat Israel doet is door het Internationaal Gerechtshof als illegaal aangemerkt, Nederland hoort krachtens de grondwet het internationale recht te bevorderen, en moet dus iets doen. Het kan sancties nemen en daarvoor is een aantal mogelijkheden. Van Agt noemde er een paar.
Maar de meerderheid van de Tweede Kamer wil dat dus niet. Steun was er alleen van de SP, D66, en GroenLinks. In het CDA zijn ook wel stemmen die langzaam in die richting gaan, (dat zei Van Agt zelf tenminste tegen Trouw)  maar als geheel is die partij ervoor om de band met Israel te houden zoals hij is. De kleine christelijke partijtjes willen nooit ook maar één kwaad woord horen over Israel (Joden en Israel hebben in hun ogen een soort heiligheid, iets wat mijn verstand van ‘Jood in de oppositie’ te boven gaat). De PVV steunt uiteraard Israel bij alles wat het doet, al zou het morgen een atoombom op Iran gooien. En de regeringspartijen VVD en PvdA vinden dat Nederland hoe dan ook met Israel op goede voet moet blijven. VVD- woordvoerder Ten Broeke gedroeg zich als een soort PVV-er light en pleitte er zelfs voor de band met Israel nog te versterken. En minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Timmermans (PvdA) stelde wel dat Nederland (net al de rest van de EU) inderdaad van mening is dat de muur inderdaad illegaal is, voor voorzover hij gebouwd is in bezet Palestijns gebied, maar toch wil hij geen sancties, omdat dat de pogingen zou doorkruisen van de VS om weer vredesoverleg op gang te krijgen.
Daarop past nog één citaat van Van Agt  (uit Trouw): ‘Van Agt ziet in dat sancties de relatie Nederland-Israël zouden beschadigen. Van Agt: “Maar dat is geen verlies. We zijn al 45 jaar met Israël bezig over die bezetting. Resultaat: nul.”‘ En daaar kan ik dan nog aan toevoegen dat opmerkelijk genoeg ook woordvoerder Désirée Bonis van Timmermans’ eigen partij, de PvdA, tegen de minister inging. Volgens de Telegraaf zei Bonis dat ze de reis van Timmermans volgende week naar Israël nog even afwacht, maar eigenlijk de druk had willen opvoeren. ,,Israël is alleen gevoelig voor druk”, citeerde de Telegraaf haar.

Gene tastbaar resultaat dus, van alle inspanningen rond dit burgerinitiatief. Wat voor lering kunnen we daar nu uit trekken? Ach eigenlijk lag, zoals ook Van Agt na afloop zei, het resultaat van tevoren al wel vast. Voor 65.000 handtekeningen wijkt een Kamermeerderheid voorlopig nog niet. Maar het feit dat je van tevoren weet dat iets niet gaat lukken is geen reden om het te laten. Actiegroepen, bloggers, klokkenluiders, weten het als geen ander. Ook tegen bio-industrie of milieuvervuiling zijn nog steeds alleen maar minderheden actief en gelukkig maar dat die minderheden er zijn en blijven volhouden. Het goede aan deze handtekeningenactie was dat onderwerp weer eens onder de aandacht gebracht en dat Van Agt van ‘s lands belangrijkste platform luid en duidelijk heeft weten over te brengen dat wat Israel doet wettelijk niet door de beugel kan – ( en dat we dat kennelijk om de één of andere niet helemaal begrijpelijke reden gedogen). Iets van dat alles moet toch blijven hangen en zal ook ooit effect sorteren. Al gaat het allemaal wel verschrikkelijk langzaam.

(Source / 13.06.2013)

Father: Israeli interrogator threatened son with rape

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source / 13.06.2013)

Turkey protesters reject ‘last warning’ to evacuate park

ISTANBUL (AFP) — Turkish protesters said Thursday they would remain in Istanbul’s Gezi Park despite a “last warning” by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to evacuate the green patch at the center of deadly anti-government unrest.

“We will stay in Gezi Park with all our demands and sleeping bags,” Taksim Solidarity, the core group behind the campaign to save the park, said in a statement, rejecting the government’s proposal to hold a referendum on the site’s controversial redevelopment.

(Source / 13.06.2013)

West Bank lawyers to strike after police assault attorney

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) – The union of lawyers in the West Bank announced Thursday evening that attorneys would suspend all their activities Sunday after anti-drug police in Bethlehem assaulted a lawyer.

The union said in a statement that all its offices would be shut down in all West Bank districts. The statement called upon all members of the union’s general assembly to join sit-in strikes in front of the district attorney’s office.

“We were shocked and couldn’t believe that a group of anti-drug police officers in Bethlehem assaulted a lawyer and strip searched him in a humiliating manner,” the statement said. “What shocked us even more was that the district attorney was present and the attackers received instructions directly from the attorney general.”

The statement added: “The assault brought back memories of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib jail and the unbelievable practices against them. One could believe such practices by the Israeli occupation, but not by our own people.”

The union urged the attorney general to resign because “he is an accomplice in the crime.” Furthermore, the lawyers’ union urged the Palestinian government to dismiss the director general of Palestinian police.

(Source / 13.06.2013)

The Roots of Iraq’s Sectarian Division

The land of Iraq is home to some of the most ancient and precious civilizations in history. In the Mesopotamian valley that encompasses the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, Babylonia, the world’s first empire was born. Writing was first developed along the banks of the rivers with tablets made of clay. Advanced government bureaucracies were first implemented here. It is truly one of the cradles of human civilization.

And when Islam was revealed in the deserts of Arabia south of Mesopotamia, the people of Iraq were some of the first to accept Islam outside of the Arabian Peninsula during the caliphate of Abu Bakr. As Islamic history went on, Iraq became one of the centers of the Muslim world, with Baghdad being established in the 8th century as the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate. Politics, culture, science, and religion all flourished here in early Islamic history. After the Mongol invasion, however, Iraq’s importance declined, it eventually became a part of the Ottoman Empire from the early 1500s until the end of the empire in the First World War. After the war, it was organized into a British-controlled mandate, which sought to create an independent nation-state in this ancient land.

Which brings us to the question: what is Iraq? The British assumed they’d find a homogeneous people in this land that would easily coalesce into one united nation, but the reality has been much more complicated. When the British drew Iraq’s borders, the people within those false borders were of different ethnic groups, religious beliefs, and languages, yet they were all expected to adopt a new identity – Iraqi – and function as a modern nationalistic European nation. This article will address the origins of these problems of identity in 20th century Iraq.

British Mandate

After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War, the British and French found themselves in control of entire Fertile Crescent area: the modern nations of Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine. In accordance with the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement they signed with the French, the British agreed to divide the land between themselves and the French, with arbitrarily drawn lines as the borders. In the eastern part of this region, what was to become the nation of Iraq was within the sphere of the British, who sought to implement a mandate, as they did with Palestine and Jordan. The purpose of a mandate was to create a puppet government in local areas for the British to further extend their imperialistic goals.

Ethnic and religious groups in Iraq

Ethnic and religious groups in Iraq

As with the other mandates that the British created, the borders of this new country were arbitrary. In the Ottoman period, the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates was organized into three different provinces, centered around the cities of Mosul, Baghdad, and Basra. “Iraq” as a political entity did not exist in the Ottoman period, or in any time prior to that. In fact, historically, the term “Iraq” has only referred to the southern portion of what is now considered Iraq, while the northern portion was known as “al-Jazira”.

Since the Ottoman Empire was a multi-ethnic state by nature, there was no demand for all Ottoman citizens to assume one identity. Kurds, Arabs, Turks, Armenians, and others were all expected to keep their own personal identities so long as they were loyal to the Ottoman government. Thus the people of what became Iraq had no concept of Iraqi identity as a unifying factor among themselves. When the British created modern Iraq, the expectations of a unified Iraqi identity would create massive social divisions within the new country based on its different ethnic and religious groups.

In the northern part of the mandate, the population consisted mainly of Kurds, a Sunni Muslim ethnic group with a language and culture separate from the Arabs. The Kurds made up about 15-20% of the total population of Iraq, but demanded a Kurdish nation -Kurdistan – that would bring together the Kurdish minority populations in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran.

In the central part of Iraq resided a Sunni Arab population, based around the city of Baghdad. They made up about 25% of the population. Despite this, they would be given some of the top government roles by their British overseers.

In the southern part of Iraq were the Shi’a Arabs. They made up an absolute majority of Iraq’s population – over 50%. Socially, they were very different from the Sunni Arabs to their north. The Shi’a ‘ulama (religious scholars) played a major role in the day-to-day lives of Iraq’s Shi’a population. Thus, the ‘ulama were capable of wielding a united Shi’a front while the rest of Iraq remained divided along ethnic lines.

Unifying Iraq

Although the British were mostly unaware of the differences in Iraqi society, the people they put in charge of Iraqi government were more informed. After massive riots against the proposed mandate, the British declared Iraq a kingdom, and elected Faisal I as its king. He was a Sunni Arab from Hejaz, who had revolted against the Ottoman Empire on the side of the British in World War One. After a failed bid to become king of Syria, he migrated to Iraq where he became king with little to no local input.

Although Faisal was officially the sovereign king of Iraq, the British served as “advisors” to his rule. For all practical purposes, although Iraq was not officially a mandate, it was clearly not fully independent. The British played a major role in the domestic and foreign affairs of the Iraqi kingdom, a fact that was deeply resented by the Iraqi population.

King Faisal I of Iraq

King Faisal I of Iraq

Hoping to bridge the gap between Sunnis and Shi’a, Faisal attempted to unify Iraq along Arab lines. Secular ideologies were fed into the educational system, where it was hoped that the next generation would identify themselves as Iraqi Arabs first, leading to a united nation. Until that next generation could mature in its secular Arab ideology, Faisal had to rely on the military to maintain order. His mainly Sunni Arab officer corps used the armed forces to suppress revolts by Shi’a and Sunni tribal leaders in the 1920s and 1930s.

Needless to say, this secular Arab focus alienated non-Arab populations of Iraq, specifically the Kurds in the North. Their demands for autonomy were largely ignored by the Iraqi government, since Kurdish nationalism did not easily fit in with the pan-Arab nationalistic ideology they were supporting. Other groups that were alienated by this policy were Iraq’s Assyrian Christian minority and Iraqi Jews.

The dominance of the Sunni Arab minority continued throughout the monarchy period of Iraq. In 1958, the monarchy was overthrown and Iraq entered a volatile period of instability for 10 years, which only ended with the rise of the Ba’athists in 1968. Despite promoting secularism and Arab nationalism, the Ba’athists, under Saddam Hussein, continued to concentrate power in the hands of the Sunni Arab elites in Baghdad. The alienation of the Kurds and Arab Shi’as continued to drive a wedge in Iraqi society that directly led to the sectarian violence in Iraq in the early 2000s, after the American invasion of 2003.

As Iraq attempts to rebuild and restore itself in the 21st century, the Iraqi identity remains an unsolved issue. The borders artificially drawn by the British in the 1920s have led to a society divided into three separate segments. Like many other Muslim nations whose borders were defined by Europeans in the early 20th century, unity among the populace remains an elusive goal. The British disregard for the ethnic and religious identities of the Iraqi people has led to a situation where Iraq, with its three separate peoples, is unable to find social cohesion in the era of modern nation-states.

(Source / 13.06.2013)

Israel Arrests Director of Al-Aqsa Mosque

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

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

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

(Source / 13.06.2013)

Mass protest aims to focus attention on Jerusalem

 

 Activists demonstrated internationally on Friday as part of efforts to focus attention on Israel’s aggression against Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Known as the Global March to Jerusalem, the protests marked the 46th anniversary of the Naksa (setback) – Israel’s 1967 occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, Syria’s Golan Heights, and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Whereas the Sinai was returned to Egypt in 1982, the other territories remain under Israeli occupation.

The international mobilization followed the first Global March to Jerusalem on 30 March – the date marking Land Day, commemorating Israel’s killing of six Palestinian citizens in 1976 – last year.

“Clear vision”

“Gaza deserves all the support we can give,” said Zaher Birawi, Global March to Jerusalem’s international committee member and spokesperson. Birawi arrived in Gaza last week with the aid convoy Miles of Smiles 21’s international delegation for the event. “But it should be in the context of fighting the occupation, with a clear vision toward Jerusalem.”

Birawi, who is a London-based television producer from Asira al-Shamaliya in the West Bank, added, “Gaza alone is not the issue … Jerusalem, and the whole occupation, is the issue.”

While associated with Islamic movements, primarily in Palestine and other Arab countries, the event does not restrict its appeal or participation, Birawi said. Jerusalem, he said, “is not a Palestinian duty only. It is for Palestinians in a political context, maybe. But in a cultural and religious context, Palestinians are not the owners of the city. It is for all people and all religions, and should be protected by the whole world.”

This year’s march came amid rising tensions between Jerusalem Palestinians and Israeli occupation forces. Israeli soldiers and settlers have repeatedly invaded the al-Haram al-Sharif complex, which contains the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque.

And a 4 May attack by Israeli police on worshipers celebrating Holy Saturday outside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre prompted a rare public rebuke by the heads of Christian churches in Jerusalem (“A statement regarding police measures on Holy Saturday,” Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, 13 May 2013).

Israel’s repressive measures don’t only affect Palestinians’ freedom to worship in Jerusalem. Israeli evictions of Palestinians and construction of new settlements and their infrastructure, as well as economic measures targeting Palestinians, continue. “The main reason for these projects is to actually cut off Jerusalem from the West Bank and make a connection between the Maale Adumim settlement and Jerusalem,” The Electronic Intifada contributor Maath Musleh said in March.

The movement urging boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel has targeted many of the companies that support Israel’s occupation and settlement of Palestinian land in Jerusalem. Some, like the French corporation Veolia, have suffered painful losses as a result. Others, such as the British-Danish security company G4S, face growing campaigns.

In Jerusalem, nearly a hundred Palestinians, accompanied by a handful of international activists, assembled at the Damascus Gate in the Old City following Friday prayers last week.

“One homeland”

Although the demonstration was peaceful, a larget contingent of Israeli police quickly moved to block exits in the Damascus Gate area.

Demonstrators of all ages were draped in Palestinian flags, and chants were led by a group of older women. They called for solidarity with political prisoners, an end to the occupation and for national unity. “One homeland from Gaza to the West Bank,” several chanted.

As the march began, Israeli officers on horseback cut the line in half. Dozens of police in riot gear immediately poured into the area.

Before the march could reach some 50 meters, the police officers attacked several protesters and bystanders alike. A female foreign national was snatched up, handcuffed and stuffed in the back of a police car, though it was not clear if she was part of the demonstration.

In one instance, an Israeli officer pushed a Palestinian photojournalist to the ground. Once he hit the pavement, he was kicked several times by officers until fellow journalists and demonstrators helped lift him up and drag him to safety.

Making no distinctions, officers on horses repeatedly charged in the direction of civilian bystanders, press and Palestinian medical services.

Seventeen-year-old Muath Abu Irshaid was arrested for “taking part in an unlicensed demonstration,” according to Raja Eghbariya of the secular Palestinian nationalist movement Abna al-Balad, which sent a bus of participants to Jerusalem.

In the northern Gaza Strip, a large demonstration was held at the Erez checkpoint in Beit Hanoun at the boundary with Israel. Buses from as far south as Rafah – on Gaza’s border with Egypt – streamed into the protest site after Friday prayers as protestors mingled on a road stretching from a stage near the closed crossing.

“The whole world must learn about the settlements in Jerusalem,” said government worker Mahmoud Kamel, who attended the march with his eight-year-old son Obeida. “This is the first thing. There are no reasons for the policies against civilians in Jerusalem. And they are taking place on land that has been ours since before our grandfathers and grandmothers.”

In Beit Hanoun, members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad held the majority of partisan flags and signs. Members of other factions also participated, albeit in smaller numbers.

“We want peace, freedom and security,” said Mahmoud Rouka, a Palestinian Democratic Union (FIDA) activist. “We want to be able to travel across our own country. The Global March to Jerusalem is a time for Palestinian people here, in the West Bank, in ‘48 [present-day Israel], and in other countries around Palestine to look toward Jerusalem.”

Palestine Liberation Organization member parties, including Fatah, endorsed the Beit Hanoun gathering but their members kept a low profile during it. In the West Bank, Fatah-affiliated media announced and reported local events.

Fear

Organizers suggested that Fatah’s increased participation this year may have stemmed from the success of last year’s march, as well as expectations of large protests in Alexandria and Cairo, where Egypt’s governing Muslim Brotherhood mobilized alongside the al-Asala, al-Nour, and al-Wasat political parties.

Compared to last year, the turnout was notably smaller in Jerusalem. Eghbariya said that “some activists, political parties, and even the Islamic movement [in Israel] declined to participate because of a rumor that the event was organized by Hamas and the fear that Israel would respond harshly.”

Dr. Sarah Marusek, a Global March to Jerusalem international committee member and spokesperson from Brooklyn, New York, who also arrived in Gaza with Miles of Smiles 21, confirmed these concerns. “There was a lot of fear to organize in Jerusalem – it’s very difficult right now, because there have been so many arrests in Jerusalem,” she said. “Many of the student leaders who were working with us before are now in Israeli prison. This political situation has made it hard to mobilize.”

One of the organizers of the West Bank events last year, according to Marusek, was Hassan Karajah, the 28-year-old youth coordinator of the Stop the Wall campaign who was arrested by Israel in January.

Marusek added that smaller numbers across the region stemmed from organizers’ late start planning this year’s events, due to the conflict in Syria.

“Daily aggression”

Tamer Khalefa, a local organizer of the Global March to Jerusalem, said the march would be staged again next year. “It’s important to mark the anniversary not just because of daily aggression at al-Aqsa [mosque] but also because of the general situation in Jerusalem,” he said. “This includes home demolitions, anti-Arab discrimination, land theft and all human rights violations.”

Clashes between protesters and the Israeli military also occurred across the West Bank, particularly in areas near Bethlehem and Ramallah.

In Bilin, a village featured in the acclaimed 5 Broken Cameras documentary film, Palestinian, Israeli and international activists were attacked by Israeli forces who fired rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas and stun grenades near Israel’s wall in the West Bank.

In Kafr Qaddoum, situated between Nablus and Qalqilya, dozens reportedly suffered tear gas inhalation (“Clashes across West Bank as Palestinians mark war anniversary,” Maan News, 7 June 2013).

Other Global March to Jerusalem events occurred in Argentina, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Mauritania, Norway, Pakistan, Russia, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Yemen, according to the march’s organizers.

“Coordinating a global movement is really difficult,” Marusek said. “But it’s really inspiring.”

Contacts established during the 2012 Global March to Jerusalem made it easier to mobilize quickly this year, she said. “This is our second GMJ, so we had already created a structure of networks and relationships. We already had key contacts in place. We have national committees in Palestine, in Gaza and the West Bank.”

“We try to choose people who can work with all the parties” as local coordinators in the Middle East, she said. “It’s an international movement, but it’s also very much Palestinian-led. It can be a struggle working with Europeans and North Americans who are used to working on projects that are more activist-led.”

“We are a peaceful movement, and we expect Israel’s response to be violent,” Marusek said. “But nonviolence is the path we chose.”

(Source / 13.06.2013)