A week after peace talks resume || Bennett: Israel will renew construction in Jerusalem in coming days

In interview with Arutz Sheva, Economy Minister Bennett says there is no construction freeze, but sources in the Housing and Construction Ministry say they are unaware of concrete agreement for renewal of construction in the Israeli capital.Jerusalem.

A construction site in Jerusalem.

Tenders for renewed construction in Jerusalem will be issued in the coming days, Economy Minster Naftali Bennett announced on Sunday, a week after Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resumed long-stalled peace talks.

“We insisted that there be no construction freeze. Construction will continue,” Bennett said, during an interview with Arutz Sheva radio. Bennett, who is also the chairman of the Habayit Hayehudi party, added that he hoped the tenders would be issued on a large scale.

The renewal of construction in Jerusalem would be a test for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Bennett said, noting that his party would “not be part of a government that freezes construction in our country.”

He categorically denied media reports that Habayit Hayehudi had agreed to the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for construction of 1,000 new housing units in the settlements.

“Ironically, in Jerusalem of all places, construction was stopped and we will be unplugging this blockage at this time,” Bennett said.

However, sources close to Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi) said there had been no concrete agreement for a renewal of construction in Jerusalem. “At the moment there are 2,500 units ready to be marketed in the Jerusalem area and we will market them at the first possible moment. However, at this time we know of no date at all for this to happen.” The sources said that Ariel has given a directive to the Jerusalem District of his ministry “to prepare for the marketing of land in the city as if it can be done tomorrow morning.” The sources said there had been numerous planning problems but the plans were now ready.

When Ariel took up his ministerial post he pledged that the Housing and Construction Ministry would market land in Jerusalem during 2013.

In November 2012, two tenders were published marketing land in Pisgat Ze’ev, northeast of the capital and in the northwestern neighborhood of Ramot. Each of these tenders includes about 600 housing units. However, the results have not yet been released, apparently because of the freeze.

Four more tenders are expected to be published: for 797 units on the western slopes of the southern neighborhood of Gilo; 1,200 units in Gilo’s southwestern portion; 100 units between Gilo and the neighborhood of Beit Safafa and between 1,000 and 2,000 units in Har Homa Gimel, southeast of Jerusalem.

As revealed by Haaretz recently, Netanyahu informed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that Israel would be moving ahead with the construction of 1,000 new housing in the settlements during the peace talks. Israel rejected a Palestinian demand for a total freeze on construction in the settlements in the run-up to the talks.

However, Netanyahu told Kerry that he would continue the policy he had followed since March 2013, during which time only a few hundred new housing units have been approved, mainly in the major settlement blocs. According to the understandings before the talks began, Israel would move ahead on tenders for the construction of only 1,000 new units and only in the major settlement blocks – Ariel, Ma’aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion. These units were part of government tenders issued by the Housing and Construction Ministry after the Palestinian statehood bid in the United Nations but which didn’t go ahead due to technical faults. They will now be reissued. Other than these 1,000 units, there is to be no new government construction in the settlement blocs or announcements of construction.

Moreover, no new master plans involving private construction are to be approved by the defense minister in the isolated settlements. In cases where the master plans have already been approved and further authorization by the defense minister is required before construction can commence, such authorization will not be forthcoming. Private construction approved by a regional council in the territories will be allowed to proceed. The only way to stop such construction would be by publication of a special order by the IDF’s GOC Central Command, as was the case during the previous freeze. Netanyahu refused to approve the issue of stop-work orders and the Israeli government will deny any reports of its consent, either quietly or publicly, to a freeze on construction in the settlements, according to the understandings.

(Source / 05.08.2013)

Al-Qa’ida terror threat ‘is the most specific since 9/11’

Yemen the focus for intercepts that sparked international diplomatic alert

The alert that led to US diplomatic missions being closed down on three continents at the weekend is “one of the most specific and credible threats I’ve seen, perhaps since 9/11”, Congressman Mike McCaul, the House Homeland Security chairman, said yesterday. Speaking to CBS’s Face the Nation, Mr McCaul said that the US was on a “high state of alert”.

“I think the administration’s call to close these embassies… was actually very, very smart call – particularly in light of what happened in Benghazi, when warnings were not heeded in that case,” he said.

The alert was the result of intercepts of al-Qa’ida electronic communications in which Yemen, in particular, is believed to have been involved. Although the “chatter” about a possible attack was not linked to any individual, the US authorities are said to have been tracking the activities of Ibrahim al-Asiri, an experienced bomb-maker who has trained dozens of jihadists in the country on manufacturing explosive devices.

Yesterday America’s top military commander, General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the diplomatic closures were prompted by a “more specific” terror threat from al-Qa’ida than any encountered by officials in recent years, with intelligence showing a clear “intent … to attack Western, not just US, interests”.

His remarks came as ABC News quoted an unnamed US official as saying: “The part that is alarming is the confidence they showed while communicating and the air of certainty.” The second- in-command of Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Saeed al-Shihiri, a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner, died last month from injuries sustained in a US drone strike in Yemen last year and the group was reported to be seeking revenge.

AQAP has been involved in a number of plots in recent years to strike at US and Western targets. Al-Asiri, a Saudi national, has been credited with being the producer of the bombs in most of them, including the device worn by the “Underwear Bomber”, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The latest threat led to the temporary closure of 21 US embassies and consulates across the Middle East and beyond. On Friday the State Department also issued a global travel alert, warning citizens of the heightened threat of an attack while the UK, France and Germany also closed their facilities in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a.

Meanwhile, Interpol issued its own alert on Saturday, asking member nations to exercise greater vigilance following a series of prison breaks in countries including Iraq, Libya and Pakistan. Interpol said that, with “suspected al-Qa’ida involvement in several of the breakouts which led to the escape of hundreds of terrorists and other criminals”, it was seeking the assistance of its members to work out if the prison breaks were “co-ordinated or linked.”

In Yemen, heightened concern about the prospect of an attack was reflected in the closure of roads around the US and British missions in eastern Sana’a. The security presence around the Presidential Palace and the Saudi Embassy was also increased.

Speaking to ABC’s This Week, General Dempsey said: “We are taking it seriously… yeah, there is a significant stream [of communications], and we’re reacting to it.” When asked if the threat was about a possible plot to blow up “an embassy, a consulate or something else”, he replied: “That part of it is unspecified. But the intent seems clear.”

Peter King, a Republican member of the House Homeland Security Committee, denied that the threat was hyped up to detract from revelations surrounding the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. “It’s absolutely crazy to say there’s any conspiracy here,” he said. “Just from seeing the intelligence, the government would have been totally negligent to not take the actions taken.”

(Source / 05.08.2013)

Sheikh Adnan calls for supporting prisoners’ hunger strike

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The leader in Islamic Jihad movement, Sheikh Khader Adnan, called on Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem, the West Bank, the occupied territories in 1948 and the Diaspora to take part in the battle of dignity, led by prisoners in Israeli jails.

Sheikh Adnan strongly condemned the official Palestinian Authority TV station for its lack of support for the prisoners’ hunger strike, noting that the official PA TV is the only TV allowed into Israeli jails.

He also criticized a number of governmental media institutions for their negligence of the prisoners’ issue and hunger strike.

Sheikh Adnan pointed out to the plight of the isolated prisoners Dirar Abu Sisi and Mahmoud Zahran, the patient captive Mo’tassem Raddad, in addition to the female captive Lina Jarboni, and the prisoner Ayman Hamdan who declared hunger strike since 100 days.

He called on the Palestinian people to pray during Laylatul Qadr for their brothers and sisters held in Israeli jails and on the resistance to defend for their freedom.

Fourteen prisoners declared hunger strike in Israeli jails including 5 Jordanian captives who went on hunger strike since 94 days and Ayman Hamdan, 98 days on hunger strike.

(Facebook  / 05.08.2013)

Dexia: A sleazy bank aiding Israeli settlers

The area around Rogier Tower, home of Dexia.

The 137-meter-tall building Rogier Tower in Brussels is home to the bank Dexia.

Since 2009, representatives of Dexia have repeatedly promised not to issue loans for work undertaken by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank. The promises have been broken.

Intal, a Belgian campaign group, hasdocumented how Dexia has kept on financing the theft of Palestinian land. In November last year, for example, the bank went guarantor along with the Israeli defense ministry for a project in the settlement of Kedumim. The previous year Dexia agreed to provide another settlement, Ariel, with a loan of 2.5 million shekels ($700,000).

Many of the empty pledges have been made directly by Jean-Luc Dehaene, the former Belgian prime minister, who served as Dexia’s chairperson from 2008 until 2012. Responding to a barrage of questions by shareholders at the bank’s annual meetings, Dehaene has claimed that its subsidiary Dexia Israel was not part of the parent bank’s “core business.”

A new book Dexia: Une Banque Toxique (Dexia: A Toxic Bank) traces how Dexia’s one-time chief executive Pierre Richard set an objective in 1997 of becoming the world leader for financing local authorities within five years. Dexia Israel was formed as part of that game-plan in 2001.


Written by Nicolas Cori and Catherine Le Gall, the book examines the role played by Dexia in creating a financial crisis for French public bodies. Administrators of services vital to the welfare state — including hospitals and housing — were sold a range of derivatives and other exotic “products” by Dexia, without the inherent risks being explained to them.

The authors don’t flinch in calling out some Dexia bigwigs as liars. In his testimony to a French parliamentary enquiry during 2011, Pierre Richard had the audacity to argue that Dexia’s predatory activities were merely a response to demands from local authorities hoping to “benefit” from the liberalization of the financial markets that began in the 1980s.

This claim was “especially laughable,” according to the authors, considering that there was little knowledge of how modern finance worked among local authorities.


Some of Dexia’s “products” were deceptively named. One type of loans was called Tofix. As that name strongly resembled the French words taux fixe, it conveyed the impression that it was based on a fixed rate of interest. In reality, the contracts involved varying interest rates.

Gérard Bayol, a former director-general of the bank, swore to the parliamentary enquiry that Dexia reserved its most complex loans for authorities with a population catchment area of more than 10,000. A few weeks before he told this fib, a mayor of Trégastel (population: 2,400) handed documents to the enquiry which proved the exact opposite.

Dexia’s gambling debts are being paid by hard-pressed taxpayers. To date, it has been rescued three times by France, Belgium and Luxembourg. The aid has included a €90 billion ($119.3 billion) package in funding guarantees.

As a minimum, the three states should have insisted that Dexia ceases to assist Israel’s violations of international law. So far they have refused to do so. Dehaene, now a member of the European Parliament, has faced no consequences for making promises he had no intention of keeping.

Whereas Rogier Tower sits beside a ramshackle district, the façade of Dexia’s headquarters is frequently illuminated by a multi-colored display. This stab at sophistication can’t conceal the amoral nature of the bank’s activities.

(Source / 05.08.2013)

Beyond allegiances: Striving for a united Israel-Palestine

By striving for a solution which would allow for mutual access to holy sites, family, friends and water for all residents of this land, we can shed our allegiances to this-many-states or that-many-states and place our allegiance with self-determination for all peoples. 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosts an Iftar for Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on July 29, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Twenty, 10 or even five years ago I would have counted myself among those genuinely optimistic about the prospects of Kerry’s “peace” talks. These days I am not quite as optimistic, but nevertheless, there is a chance for these talks to lead to something positive. This as an opportunity to organize toward an end to the occupation and a just peace.

To be sure, there is much reason to be negative. In recent days the Israeli government chose to release 104 prisoners but simultaneously announced thousands of new settlement homes, digging its heels deeper into the region that is supposedly the basis of a new Palestinian state.

So how these talks can be anything more than an opportunity for Israel to grab more land? The best answer mustered by some optimists is that perhaps economic incentives being offered to Palestinians will be enticing enough for them to make “the necessary compromises.” Or perhaps that Netanyahu finally understands this is the way he can create for himself a legacy as a “great” leader.

The prospects aren’t great. Still, something has been kicked loose on the political level.

Perhaps now is the time for the grassroots to push that something toward a just peace – and away from the usually inequitable proposals that inevitably end in continued occupation and conflict.

The movement I grew up in believed that a bi-national state was the best way to facilitate freedom and self-determination for all the peoples that called this land home up until 1948. The idea was to build a state that emphasized two equal national identities.

That movement, my community and my family all moved toward supporting two-states not because of the xenophobic idea that there is a demographic time bomb in play, but because it could (have) be(en) the best way toward liberation for both peoples given the obvious need for a necessary calming space after years of occupation and conflict.

Given the reality that there are half a million settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the evident intention to make room for more in the coming months, that solution may not be the best one even if it once was.

So what would be an acceptable outcome of the next nine months of peace talks?

Two-state solutions that might be fair aim at creating sovereign space for the two peoples to develop as national cultures. The shortfall of any two-state solution is that it severely limits where both Jews and Palestinians can (re)set down roots and perhaps even visit, such as holy places. Indeed, a fair two-state solution would allow for access to holy sites, family, friends and water.

The actual proposals that have been put on the table over the last 20 years all included provisions that limit sovereignty for Palestinians over borders, military and airspace.

At the same time, the missing element in many one-state plans is that most of the people here (both Palestinians and Jews) feel good about individual rights being high on the list of requirements for any sustainable future, but also emphasize the need for collective self-determination and rights: cultural and religious practices, holidays, language rights, and rights of return.

While a bi-national state, as it was envisioned once upon a time, is probably not in the cards for the near future, it is becoming more and more apparent that a two-state solution that allows for maximal access to homelands and the best chance for enshrining culture into national institutions lies in some iteration of a union of states.

There are 99 problems facing these talks, including, but not limited to, the questionable intentions of the United States, the lack of actual power that Palestinians have under occupation, Israeli settlement expansion – and let’s not forget that all of this is taking place under the oppressive boot of neoliberal capitalism. Still, there is hope.

Twenty, ten or five years ago you might have said that a union of two states was a fantasy a century away and I might have agreed. Today, it might just be the best hope for a just peace. Today we can shed our allegiances to this-many-states or that-many-states and place our allegiance with self-determination for all peoples.

Even if the current situation is good for some, an end to the status quo is possible. We have less than nine months to organize, educate, lobby, get involved in nonviolent direct action and push the diplomatic process toward the demand that any agreement, at the very least, must ensure an end to the occupation and guaranteeing civil and human rights in any and all states that come out of the process.

(Source / 05.08.2013)

Aisha en haar Parels

By Marianna Laarif

Het blijde kleine meisje met de springende blonde krullen was bijna vijf. Terwijl ze op haar moeder wachtte bij de kassa, zag ze hen, een cirkel van glinsterende parels in een roze plastic doosje. “Oh alsjeblieft mama. Mag ik die hebben? Alsjeblieft, mama, alsjeblieft? »

Snel keek haar moeder op de achterkant van het plastic doosje en keek toen weer in de smekende blauwe ogen van het opgeheven gezichtje van haar dochtertje. Eén euro vijfennegentig. Dat is bijna € 2,00. Als je ze echt wilt hebben, dan bedenk ik wel wat extra klusjes voor je en dan heb je snel genoeg geld om ze zelf te kopen. Het is nog maar een week voor Eid en misschien krijg je nog wel een mooie euromunt van oma.

Zodra Aisha thuiskwam, leegde ze haar spaarpot en telde 17 eurocent. Na het eten deed ze meer dan haar eigen klusjes en ging ze naar de buren. Ze vroeg Tante Jamshed of ze paardebloemen mocht plukken voor 10 cent. Op Eid-ul-Fitr gaf haar oma haar een mooie nieuwe euromunt en eindelijk had ze genoeg geld om de parelketting te kopen. Aisha was dol op haar parels.
Ze gaven haar het gevoel dat ze mooi aangekleed was en heel volwassen. Ze droeg ze altijd. Naar Koranles op zondag, naar de kleuterschool en zelfs als ze naar bed ging. De enige keer dat ze de parels afdeed was als ze ging zwemmen of in bad ging. Haar moeder had gezegd dat als ze nat werden, ze misschien groen zouden worden

Aisha had een hele lieve vader en elke avond wanneer ze klaar was om naar bed te gaan, hield hij op met wat hij ook aan het doen was en kwam hij naar boven om haar een verhaal uit de Koran voor te lezen. Op een avond toen hij het verhaal voorgelezen had, vroeg hij Aisha “Hou je van mij? »
« Oh ja papa. Je weet toch dat ik van je hou?
“Geef me dan je parels.”
“Oh papa, niet mijn parels! Je mag de Prinses hebben, de witte schelp uit mijn verzameling, die met de roze schaduw. Weet je wel papa? Die jij me gegeven hebt. Dat is mijn favoriet. »
« Dat is goed Aisha. Papa houdt van jou. Allah-hafez” En hij gaf haar een zoen op haar wang.

Ongeveer een week later, na het voorlezen van een verhaal, vroeg Aisha haar vader weer “hou je van mij?”. “Papa, je weet toch dat ik van je hou?” “Geef me dan je parels.”
« Oh papa, niet mijn parels! Je mag mijn pop hebben. Die nieuwe die ik gekregen heb omdat ik lief geweest ben. Ze is heel mooi en je mag ook het gele dekentje hebben die bij haar bedje past.” “Dat is goed. Welterusten. Mag Allah je zegenen en beschermen, Aisha. Papa houdt van jou.” En zoals altijd kuste hij haar wang zachtjes.

Een paar avonden later toen haar papa binnen kwam, zat Aisha op haar bed met haar benen gekruist in de kleermakerszit. Toen hij dichterbij kwam zag hij dat haar kin trilde en er een stille traan over haar wang gleed.

«Wat is er, Aisha? Wat is er aan de hand?” Aisha zei niets maar opende haar handje naar haar vader. En terwijl ze hem opende, lag daar haar parelketting. Met een lichte beving zei ze “Hier papa, dit is voor jou.” Met tranen in zijn ogen strekte Aishas papa zijn hand uit om de goedkope ketting te pakken en zijn andere hand stak hij in zijn zak en haalde daar een blauw fluwelen doosje uit met een ketting van echte parels en gaf die aan Aisha.

Hij had ze al die tijd al. Hij wachtte alleen nog op Aisha om hem het goedkope ding te geven, zodat hij haar de echte schat kon geven

Zo is het ook met Allah, de Almachtige. Hij wacht op ons om de goedkope dingen op te geven zodat hij ons kan zegenen met prachtige schatten.
Is Allah niet groots? Hou jij vast aan dingen waarvan Allah wil dat je het loslaat?

Hou jij vast aan schadelijke of onnodige partners, relaties, gewoontes en activiteiten waar je zo gehecht aan geraakt bent dat het onmogelijk lijkt om ze los te laten? Soms is het zo moeilijk om te zien wat er in de andere hand is, maar geloof één ding:
Allah neemt nooit iets weg zonder je er iets beters voor in de plaats te geven.

Khader Adnan: Palestinian organizations must make it clear that hunger strikers are not forgotten

adnan-pressSheikh Khader Adnan, former prisoner and hunger striker, admonished official Palestinian bodies and institutions in a press conference on Sunday, August 4, saying that they have turned their back on Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike.

He urged Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, occupied Palestine ’48 and diaspora to play their role in the battle of dignity, across party and factional lines. He also urged Palestinian media to play a responsible role and publicize and mobilize the people around the prisoners’ struggle. Adnan particularly concentrated on the responsibility of the official Palestine TV, as the Israeli authorities do not allow other satellite channels to be broadcast inside the prison.

The press conference, held at Wattan Media Center under the slogan “The banner of the hunger strikers shall not fall,” highlighted former prisoners and the family members of current prisoners. He emphasized that the strikers and prisoners must know that they have support on the outside and that they have not been forgotten.

Adnan emphasized the role of the Palestinian resistance organizations, saying that “I call on the Palestinian resistance to take a role in the defense of its people against the jailer, and that the resistance should mobilize and take action to the occupation how valuable are the lives and freedom of our prisoners.”

Adnan described the suffering experienced by the prisoners, focusing on the cases of Dirar Abu Sisi and Mahmoud Zahran, held in isolation; Moatassam Raddad and Lena Jarbouni, suffering from serious illness; and Ayman Hamdan, now approaching 100 days of hunger strike.

He saluted Mohammad Tabeesh, who has been on hunger strike for 65 days in solidarity with his brother Ayman al-Tabeesh, standing against administrative detention, and noted that there are prisoners in the Israeli jails whose strikes we are unaware of, saying that we learned about the strikes of Mahmoud and Omar Tallahma only after they were on strike for 20 days. He urged all to pray for the prisoners on the night of Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Power), and saluted the 14 strikers: Ayman Hamdan, Abdullah Barghouthi, Muneer Mar’i, Alaa Hammad, Mohammad Rimawi, Hamza al-Dabbas, Imad Batran, Adel Hareebat, Ayman al-Tabeesh, Hussam Matar, Mohammad al-Tabeesh, Abdul Majid Khuderat, Omar Tallahma and Mahmoud Tallahma.

(Source / 05.08.2013)

Hassan Karajah’s letter from inside occupation prison: I will greet you with the single word, “freedom”


Download poster to raise awareness about Hassan Karajah's case: http://samidoun.ca/site/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Hassan-Karajah.pdf

Download poster to raise awareness about Hassan Karajah’s case: http://samidoun.ca/site/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Hassan-Karajah.pdf

Hassan Karajah is a Palestinian youth activist, the Youth Coordinator of the Grassroots Campaign to Stop the Wall, and a human rights defender with a long record of organizing and public activism with the Partnership for Development Project, an umbrella group for Tamer Institution, Ma’an Development Centre and Bissan Centre for Research and Development, and the Arab Thought Forum. He gave an interview before his detention in which he saluted political prisoners’ struggle, saying that “their struggle has given us a model of steadfastness and the certainty that if we stand up united, we can win, step by step, our freedom and national self-determination.”

Imprisoned after a late-night raid on his home in January 2013, he is now faced with political charges (of membership in a prohibited organization, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and connections with the Lebanese resistance) based on event attendance and travel to Lebanon.

He worked closely with international solidarity activists as part of Stop the Wall, and called for people of the world to act for Palestine: ”We do expect a lot from the people around the world. We know that many understand and support our struggle. We need to work closer together and ensure that our actions are better coordinated and we grow stronger and more effective in pressuring companies and governments around the world to stop their complicit silence and their support to Israel, whether at an economic, political or cultural level.” On July 30, Addameer released his letter, below, addressed to the free world (here, in Arabic):

To all of my friends everywhere in the world….to each person in solidarity… to all who care about the cause of prisoners…to all who believe in the justice of our cause, Palestine, who cherish peace, love, the steadfastness of the prisoners, and the sweet scent of freedom, I say:

“The wheat, when it is spread on the land, some will be crushed by feet and die, some will be eaten by birds, and some makes it to the earth, and then rain comes, and with the first appearance of the sun, the wheat comes as a positive omen of the continuation of life.”

Dear all, know that I miss you and I’m eager to see you all. What prevents me from this is the Zionist occupation’s detention, which it uses against me as it did against the sons and daughters of our people 65 years ago. However, if this is for the freedom of Palestine, our land and our rights, I am prepared to bear this, and I am sure that you are willing to continue in the same way.

In these moments, when I am writing to you and imagine all of your souls around me as my soul greets you, I do not exclude any of you. I cannot say each of your names for one reason – we have a shortage of stationery in the prisons, such as pens and paper. By these shortages, the prison administration intends to besiege the prisoners and deprive us of education. You know that this is a drop in the sea in terms of the practices of oppressing us and attempting to break our steadfastness – which they will never do. I wrote to you special notes in notebooks, but those are confiscated by the prison administration before they reach you, so I send you my smile each day with the sun to welcome it.

If you ask me, I am fine and healthy, despite the denial of proper treatment and medical negligence practiced against all prisoners without exception. But morally, my morale soars above the wind, for which there is one main reason: you have always stood beside me.

I have not forgotten all of my friends everywhere, although I do not see you at this time, but your images have not been erased from my mind. Your principles will not be separated from mine, our convictions are united, and what you believe is what I believe. The walls of the prison have not changed this; they did not and will not be able to stop me from loving you more. I still meet with you in the land of sad oranges*; Um Sa’ad is still our mother**; and I am sure that you will still hear banging on the walls of the tank*** that will not cease until all of the refugees return to their homes, and the homes of their grandfathers. We will not stop pounding on the walls of the tank and other walls – until every friend will be able to visit Palestine, its land, water, air and the entire national soil.

This period will not last long. We will keep this belief, because belief generates hope, hope generates work, and work is the road to freedom – the freedom that has no equivalent but itself.**** This work must be collective, and no matter how small, will have an impact. Small steps, once they are together, become an army, and a noble morning. We have a noble army, an army of an idea, the army that trusts its people as much as I trust in our people and their limitless potential.

We come from inside our cells and the prison walls to the world through books. We read, and become part of the characters that tell those stories and novels, and they make doors that take us out of the darkness of the prison. This is why the occupation attempts, by various practices, means and procedures, to prevent books from being introduced to the prisoners.

When I received the news that many of my ideas and dreams have become reality because you have done the work, I am certain that I have not yet been imprisoned. I see the continuation of my work in your existence. I saw my freedom in your eyes. I heard my voice in yours. They have imprisoned the body, but they could not jail the idea and will not be able to do so.

Here, we draw our energy to continue from you. We, the newly detained prisoners, our hearts are full of happiness when, while being transported from prisons to court, we meet prisoners we have heard about for decades, whose photos and posters we have carried in the streets, prisoners from whom we learned our readiness to struggle since childhood.

In conclusion, I affirm to you that they will never be able to bring about our end. We are stronger than they are able to weaken us. We are higher than they are able to lower us. We are deeper than they are able to reach us. We continue.

I say to you at the end of this message – I will see you soon. I will come out as you have known me and better, and I will greet you with the single word, “Freedom.”

Hassan Karajah – occupied Beersheba Prison

* a reference to Ghassan Kanafani‘s story of this name: http://www.nobleworld.biz/images/sad_orange.pdf

** a reference to Kanafani’s novel, Um Sa’ad

*** a reference to Kanafani’s story, Men in the Sun

**** a quotation from Kanafani

(Source / 05.08.2013)

West, allies targeting Islamic political groups, sowing regional discord

“Rather than allow the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic political denominations to join mainstream politics in keeping with democratic values, western nations and their allies have chosen instead to declare war on political Islam, driving a wedge within countries across the region.”

As surely as the 2011 Islamic Awakening Movement brought down autocracies across the Middle East, the 2013 counter-revolution movement is systematically and calculatedly trying to bring down all Islamic political factions on the account of promoting democracy.
If the ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was not a clear enough sign, one has only to look at the EU’s July condemnation of the Hezbollah – Shia Lebanese political faction which entertains strong links to Iran and its government as they both share the same ideology and goals in the region – to realize that all Islamic factions, Shia and Sunni alike, have become the target of a new political inquisition.

While sitting at completely different poles of the politico-religious spectrum, both the Muslim Brotherhood and the Hezbollah are being demonized and vilified by the media. In order to better justify its very public stoning of the two groups, their political nemesis is accusing them of harboring terror agendas and in-factions within their ranks.

In a matter of months, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood went from being the country’s ruling party, with not only a ruling president but a parliamentary majority, something that even deposed-President Hosni Mubarak never could achieve, to a renegade faction the media are portraying as an amalgam of religious fanatics with criminal tendencies.

In Lebanon, the Hezbollah, a faction led by Hassan Nasrallah, a prominent political figure adored by millions, has been declared by the EU a terror organization on account it sided with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against the Free Syrian Army – a loose coalition of militias supported by Western powers.

As the net is tightening around political Islam, driving its supporters and militants into hiding, western powers and their allies in the region are risking to radicalize an entire movement, giving extremist groups the very opportunity they have been so patiently waiting for.

History has proven that repression, and especially religious repression, will only give birth to radicalization. By preventing the Middle East from find its political footing, the West will only succeed in fueling the fire of extremism as repression will give way to hatred and a thirst for retribution.

The case of the Muslim Brotherhood
One of the oldest political factions in the Middle East, the Muslim Brotherhood, was founded in 1928 as the largest Pan-Arab, Pan-Islamic organization in the region.

Ironically enough, the Muslim Brotherhood was one of the first political organizations in the Arab world to promote democratic values based on the application of and respect for Sharia-Quranic laws.

Now it is important to understand that Sharia Law is not, as media has been trying to promote, a violent and barbaric ruling system. The Sharia system is based on the teachings of the Quran and the Hadiths, organizing and legislating all aspects of one’s life, from the way one conducts one’s business to laws on inheritance, marriage, divorce, the taxing system and women’s rights.

Sharia has been widely misinterpreted by certain regimes in the region, mainly Saudi Arabia, as they seek to use religion as an oppressive tool against their people to assert their own power.

While Sharia should have been used as the base for a fair and impartial ruling system, regimes used it to enslave their fellow nationals and instill fear.

The Muslim Brotherhood was born from the understanding that all Arab nations carried a common denominator, Islam, and as such should seek to stand united in the face of hardships to flash a brighter light over the region.

The aim was never to rule over, but rather to unite nations, the very base of the Pan-Arab movement.

If the Egyptian Brotherhood was driven underground by former President Hosni Mubarak, it is because its very ideology carried the seeds of democracy, not because it sought to indoctrinate the nation.

Forced to abandon all political ambitions, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood became a social movement focused on organizing social programs and alleviating poverty.

Well-organized and fiercely dedicated to their cause, the Brotherhood bode its time.

In the chaos of 2011, the Brotherhood was the only faction which carried enough support and legitimacy to rally around its banner a profoundly divided and undecided Egypt. From the trauma of autocracy the Egyptian nation pinned its hope on the Brotherhood, confident the group’s alliance of religion and politics would prove a winning combination for the nation.

And if the Opposition is now arguing the Brotherhood was angling Egypt toward a perverse form of theocracy, thus justifying its decision to scrap the new constitution, one needs to remember that rather than impose its views on Egypt, the Brotherhood asked Egyptians to choose their new Sharia-based constitution through a popular referendum, in perfect keeping with democratic standards and tradition.

Yet, the Opposition decided following the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi that this piece of legislation was not legitimate.

Across the Middle East, a witch-hunt against the Muslim Brotherhood has begun, with unprecedented ferocity. In Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen, Islamists are being hunted down, torn apart by the media.

Isolation of a political Islam
Rather than allow the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic political denominations to join mainstream politics in keeping with democratic values, western nations and their allies have chosen instead to declare war on political Islam, driving a wedge within countries across the region.

By essence, democracy cannot rhyme with political repression. In a democratic society, all parties and all views should be allowed to exist and co-exist peacefully, so as to enrich national debate and permit ideas and ideologies to mature and develop.

As of July 3rd, the Muslim Brotherhood has not been allowed to exist. Instead, its supporters have been shot dead, its newspapers, TV and radio stations have been taken off the air, journalists have been threatened, beaten up and imprisoned, very much in line with the former regime’s modus operandi.

As the Brotherhood is weathering attacks in Tunisia, Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, the group has been forced to act on the defensive, looking for new alliances to secure its position.

As the Brotherhood will face more sustained attacks from its enemies, its moderates will be forced to take a stand back in favor of more belligerent figures. Just as a government will turn to its military in a time of war and crisis, the Brotherhood will be forced to turn to some of its more radical personalities as it will fight for its survival.

This could actually allow radical in-factions to emerge from the moderate mainstream movement of the Brotherhood and lead to a broad radicalization.

Should the Brotherhood find itself cornered, its leaders might feel forced to seek alliances outside.

This could prove to be the opportunity that groups such as al-Qaeda have been waiting for. Known to use unrest as a catalyst, al-Qaeda could seek to become the armed arm of the Brotherhood, an alliance of convenience brought about by repression.

(Source / 05.08.2013)

Abu Rodeina: “Israel Continues To Obstruct Peace Efforts”

Palestinian Presidency Spokesperson, Nabil Abu Rodeina, stated that the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu is ongoing with its violations and illegal settlement activities, and is obstructing U.S. efforts to resume direct peace talks.

Settlement Construction - RB2000
Settlement Construction

His statements came responding to an Israeli decision to add 20 more settlements, and occupied Jerusalem, to its development plan.

“We denounce this Israeli decision, we denounce the Israeli policies obstructing peace”, Abu Rodeina said, “Tel Aviv is obstructing the American efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East”.

He also stated that all of Israel’s settlement activities in occupied Palestine, including in occupied Jerusalem, are illegitimate under International law regardless of what decisions Israel makes.

“Nothing can change this fact, settlements are illegal and illegitimate”, the Palestinian official said.

On Sunday, August 04, 2013, and approved a plan meant for developing “Israeli cities and towns of a high national priority”.

The Israeli decision includes putting 91 Jewish settlements in the occupied territories on a what is called a “national priority fund”.

The decision comes just as direct political talks between Israel and the Palestinians have resumed under direct American mediation. The second round of talks is scheduled to be held on August 14.

Areas that have the national priority status are around 700 communities, including border towns and settlements that require extra funds that exceed the regular normal budget.

They are located near the border with Lebanon, across the border with Egypt in the south and 91 settlements in the occupied West Bank.

All settlements are illegal International Law, and violate the Fourth Geneva Convention to which Israel is a signatory.

(Source / 05.08.2013)