Israeli forces evacuate Jerusalem Bedouin village

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Monday dismantled tents housing a Bedouin community in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina.

Israeli authorities surrounded the tents at dawn and evacuated 53 Bedouin residents of the community, destroying their tents.

Spokesman of the Kanan Bedouin village, Ali al-Kaabneh, told Ma’an that the community has been living there for over 50 years after being forcibly displaced from land between Hebron and Beersheba during the Nakba in 1948.

“Israeli authorities claim that the land belongs to them under the Absentees’ Properties Law, and on this pretext, they want to deport us from the area,” al-Kaabeh said.

There are frequent Israeli raids on the community.

(Source / 19.08.2013)

The “Wild West” is back to Palestine

The “process of renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace” seems already a success for the undertaking of illegal Israeli settlements and U.S. imperialism. Among Palestinians, trust and hope in negotiations mediated by the U.S. long ago evaporated. While the street is torn between anger, cynicism and indifference to the negotiations, the PLO adopted the proposal to Abu Mazen to resign demand a settlement freeze as a precondition for negotiations. The article is of Jamal Juma and Maren Mantovani.

Jamal Juma and Maren Mantovani (*)

Any collective activity in which all involved are aware that the targets will not be met is a planned bankruptcy. Except in the case that the true goals are different from those openly declared. In this sense, the “process of renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace” seems already a success for the undertaking of illegal Israeli settlements and U.S. imperialism.

The process of negotiations, which began in 1991 with the Madrid Conference and led to the Oslo Accords, should have ensured the creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and an agreement on other “final status issues”, including the right to return of Palestinian refugees, before 2000. Negotiations had commenced under the leadership of the U.S. in a moment that his diplomatic position with respect to the Middle East had reached dizzying heights, driven, among others, generally applauded by military victory over Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Washington had won multilateral support for its leadership role in the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations and the Bush regime father had even found the courage to block ten billion dollars in loan guarantees to Israel because of concerns that the previous assurances had been used to finance the expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Twenty years after the signing of the Oslo Accords, the process is regarded by Palestinians and international observers as a failure. The Palestinian statehood and self-determination of the Palestinian people has been collapsed by the Israeli construction of the Wall and illegal settlements and the implementation of its policies of apartheid. Oslo failed to prevent Israeli massacres like the one that destroyed Gaza in 2008-09, much less help achieve justice for Palestinians.

The White House began this round of negotiations under completely different conditions. For decades, the U.S. has not been so weak in the Middle East. The lost wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the economic crisis frame an image of symptoms of imperial overextension U.S.. The instability in the Arab world complicates the scenario. Still, Secretary of State John Kerry wanted to act alone and his own way: kept the UN, its member states and even the European Union out of the new process of negotiations. The Arab countries are only marginally consulted. Worse yet, the Obama administration named as an intermediary in negotiations Martin Indyk, an agent longtime powerful pro-Israel lobby AIPAC and a man who had been accused by the FBI of involvement in the theft of trade secrets in the U.S. to Israel, and the some estimates have caused damage worth up to one hundred billion dollars.

Another big difference this time is that the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu seems more concerned about keeping his coalition government than happy with the pressure from the U.S. or the Arab world.

Among Palestinians, trust and hope in negotiations mediated by the U.S. long ago evaporated. While the street is torn between anger, cynicism and indifference to the negotiations, the PLO adopted the proposal to Abu Mazen to resign demand a settlement freeze as a precondition for negotiations, although it has the support of only a minority.

Very few within the PLO seem willing to speak openly in support of the negotiations. Even al Fatah is divided. Journalists complain that Palestinian officials answer your questions about why the decision to return to negotiations evasively or aggressive.

So it is not surprising that it is unlikely that the new round of negotiations can achieve a lasting solution, let alone a just peace in which they can be obtained rights of all Palestinians, including refugees. It seems almost impossible to believe seriously that Washington really expect to create a solution of final status within nine months. So what are the real goals of the U.S. and Israel?

The resumption of negotiations have reached a fundamental goal: the weakening of the fundamental achievements of the initiative for recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN. While UN recognition not make tangible changes if not accompanied with international pressure on Israel to end its system of occupation, apartheid and colonialism, the initiative for Palestinian state led to a major political breakthrough for the Palestinians at the strategic level. Thus, won the support of an international alliance driven by the global south, took up the question of Palestine from the hands of the U.S. and Security Council and brought it back to the UN General Assembly, an area in which Palestine can count on overwhelming support. Finally, it introduced the issue of international law and the right to self again as a pillar for the solution of the Palestinian question.

Given the growing perception that they are losing their role as a major protagonist and arbiter, the White House was forced to file a counter-initiative in the Middle East. In Syria, Russia is blocking a solution dominated by the U.S. and Egypt, Iran and the Middle East in general, the Obama administration has shown a lack of vision or ability to go beyond the erratic reaction to events. Therefore, the leaders of the U.S. foreign policy probably chose the option of retreat: Palestine to restore its dominance in the Middle East.

For Israel, the new negotiations constitute a major victory for its settlement enterprise. Not only the U.S. lobbied successfully Palestinian negotiators to abandon the precondition of a settlement freeze, as these show an acceleration of Israeli settlement almost unprecedented: from the 1st of August, Israel announced plans to build about 3,000 new settlement units and made clear its intention to continue the ethnic cleansing of 50,000 Palestinians in the Naqab desert / Negev and the forced displacement of 1,300 Palestinians in the West Bank to make room for a military training camp. Besides all this, Israel refuses to discuss a two-state solution based on 1967 borders. Cabinet members, including Naftali Bennett, the Minister of Economy, stated clearly that the Palestinians “can forget about” a state.

The irony of Israel begin negotiations for a two-state solution, denying and undermining the possibility of a Palestinian state seems to be lost on U.S. diplomacy. Instead of having to face a class action lawsuit against the initiatives of colonization in the West Bank and its policies of ethnic cleansing, Israel has been rewarded by the United States with the creation of a special committee formed by U.S. and Israeli military argue that “security needs of Israel. ” This is shorthand for an effort that undermines Palestinian rights to effective sovereignty and includes discussions on “land swaps”, border control, control over airspace and territorial, non-interference and more.

While the U.S. and Israel may consider these results as a victory today, as talks collapse again, likely long-term consequences that can make these short-term gains seem expensive.

First of all, the need of the U.S. to lead the initiative on their own means that they can hardly get rid of the blame for the collapse of negotiations predictable. When closing the political space in the short term, this implicitly invites the making of the stage by other actors, which have fewer prejudices and new ideas.

Secondly, Israel seems to convince the U.S. to ignore the continued expansion of the settlements, but the European Union has just following the condemnation of settlements with concrete actions, including the introduction of new rules that prohibit public funds from the EU in the settlements. The eventual failure of the negotiations will likely push some EU governments to go further, perhaps even prohibit trade with Israeli settlements illegal.

Finally, this round of negotiations already severely deepened the crisis of legitimacy faced by the Palestinian Authority. Expand the division and growing instability is (still) more harmful to the interests of Israel and the U.S. than for the Palestinian people. It is certainly difficult to imagine that any structure post-PA can be as malleable as the current Palestinian political structure.

To conclude, although the “Wild West” American is back in Palestine at the moment, he seems unable to create any lasting change. What is really needed is the creation of a political environment that is based on global support for Palestinian rights of self-determination in international law and human rights, able to build effective means to pressure Israel to implement them. To Palestine, enter into a multilateral negotiation process on how to forge these alliances and tools are the most urgent talks to be held at this stage.

(*) Jamal Juma is the general coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign. Maren Mantovani is international relations from Stop the Wall.

(Facebook / 19.08.2013)

Pink Floyd star’s new Israel boycott letter to “family of Rock and Roll”

Roger Waters performs The Wall Live in Barcelona, 2011.

Roger Waters performs The Wall Live in Barcelona, 2011.

Pink Floyd star Roger Waters has today published a long-awaited open letter calling on his fellow musicians to boycott Israel.

The letter explains that Waters has been part of the boycott, divestment and sanctionsmovement for seven years, and has been mulling the letter over for some time.

He condemns Israeli human rights violations and explains the reasons to act:

Given the inability or unwillingness of our governments [to act] … it falls to civil society and conscientious citizens of the world, to dust off our consciences, shoulder our responsibilities, and act. I write to you now, my brothers and sisters in the family of Rock and Roll, to ask you to join with me, and thousands of other artists around the world, to declare a cultural boycott on Israel … proclaiming our rejection of Apartheid in Israel and occupied Palestine, by pledging not to perform or exhibit in Israel or accept any award or funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel …

Long-awaited

In an exclusive interview with The Electronic Intifada’s David Cronin back in March, Waters revealed he had been drafting the letter.

“What caused me to write this public letter was an affair where Stevie Wonder was hired to play a gala dinner for the Israeli Defense Forces,” he said, recounting how he and others wrote to Wonder asking him to cancel – which he eventually did.

The interview went viral at the time, gaining the attention of Rolling Stone, among others.

By April the letter had yet to appear and, following an interview with The Huffington Postthat Waters says was “misinterpreted,” several media reports claimed Waters was “reconsidering” his position on boycotting Israel.

Waters wrote on Facebook soon afterwards that he had only meant he was considering the text of the letter, and not “my position on the Israel/Palestine issue” overall.

The publication of this letter today makes Waters’ position in favour of on the boycott of Israel clear – in support of the Palestinian-led BDS movement.

Full letter

18th August 2013, Warsaw To My Colleagues in Rock and Roll

Nigel Kennedy the virtuoso British violinist and violist, at The Recent Promenade Concerts at The Albert Hall in London, mentioned that Israel is apartheid. Nothing unusual there you might think, then one Baroness Deech, (Nee Fraenkel) disputed the fact that Israel is an apartheid state and prevailed upon the BBC to censor Kennedy’s performance by removing his statement. Baroness Deech produced not one shred of evidence to support her claim and yet the BBC, non political, supposedly, acting solely on Baroness Deech’s say so, suddenly went all 1984 on us. Well!! Time to stick my head above the parapet again, alongside my brother, Nigel Kennedy, where it belongs. And by the way, Nigel, great respect man. So here follows a letter last re-drafted in July.

25th July 2013 To My Colleagues in Rock and Roll.

In the wake of the tragic shooting to death of un-armed teenager Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his killer Zimmerman, yesterday, Stevie Wonder spoke at a gig declaring that he will not perform in the State of Florida until that State repeals its “Stand your ground” Law. In effect he has declared a boycott on grounds of conscience. I applaud his position, and stand with him, it has brought back to me a statement I made in a letter I wrote last February 14th, to which I have referred but have never published.

The time has come, so here it is.

This letter has been simmering on the back burner of my conscience and consciousness for some time.

It is seven years since I joined BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) a non violent movement to oppose Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and violations of international law and Palestinian human rights. The aim of BDS is to bring international attention to these Israeli policies, and hopefully, to help bring them to an end. All the people of the region deserve better than this.

To cut to the chase, Israel has been found guilty, independently, by international human rights organizations, UN officials, and the International Court of Justice, of serious breaches of international law. These include, and I will name only two;

  1. The Crime of Apartheid: The systematic oppression of one ethnic group by another. On 9 March 2012, for instance, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called on Israel to end its racist policies and laws that contravene the prohibition against racial segregation and apartheid.
  2. The Crime of Ethnic Cleansing: The forcible removable of indigenous peoples from their rightful land in order to settle an occupying population. For example, in East Jerusalem non Jewish families are routinely physically evicted from their homes to make way for Jewish occupants.

There are others.

Given the inability or unwillingness of our governments, or the United Nations Security Council to put pressure on Israel to cease these violations, and make reparations to the victims, it falls to civil society and conscientious citizens of the world, to dust off our consciences, shoulder our responsibilities, and act. I write to you now, my brothers and sisters in the family of Rock and Roll, to ask you to join with me, and thousands of other artists around the world, to declare a cultural boycott on Israel, to shed light on these problems and also to support all our brothers and sisters in Palestine and Israel who are struggling to end all forms of Israeli oppression and who wish to live in peace, justice, equality and freedom.

I am writing to you all now because of two recent events.

1) Stevie Wonder. Word came to me, the first week of last December that Stevie Wonder had been booked to headline at a gala dinner for the Friends of The Israeli Defence Force in LA on 6th December 2012. An event to raise money for the Israeli armed forces, as if the $4,300,000,000 that we the US tax payers give them each year were not enough? This came right after The Israeli defence Force had concluded yet another war on Gaza, (Operation Pillar of Defence), according to human rights watch, committing war crimes against the besieged 1.6 million Palestinians there.

Anyway, I wrote to Stevie to try to persuade him to cancel. My letter ran along these lines, “Would you have felt OK performing at the Policeman’s Ball in Johannesburg the night after the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 or in Birmingham Alabama, to raise money for the Law Enforcement officers, who clubbed, tear gassed and water cannoned those children trying to integrate in 1963?” Archbishop Desmond Tutu also wrote an impassioned plea to Stevie, and 3,000 others appended their names to a change.org petition. Stevie, to his great credit, cancelled!

2) Earlier that week I delivered a speech at The United Nations. If you are interested you can find this speech on you tube.

The interesting thing about these two stories is that there was NOT ONE mention of either story in the mainstream media in the United States.

The clear inference would be that the media in the USA is not interested in the predicament of the Palestinian people, or for that matter the predicament of the Israeli people. We can only hope they may become interested as they eventually did in the politics of apartheid South Africa.

Back in the days of Apartheid South Africa at first it was a trickle of artists that refused to play there, a trickle that exercised a cultural boycott, then it became a stream, then a river then a torrent and then a flood. (Remember Steve van Zant, Bruce and all the others? “We will not Play in Sun City?”) Why? Because, like the UN and the International Courts of Justice they understood that Apartheid is wrong.

The sports community joined the battle, no one would go and play cricket or rugby in South Africa, and eventually the political community joined in as well. We all as a global, musical, sporting and political community raised our voices as one and the apartheid regime in South Africa fell.

Maybe we are at the tipping point now with Israel and Palestine. These are good people both and they deserve a just solution to their predicament. Each and every one of them deserves freedom, justice and equal rights. Just recently the ANC, the ruling party of South Africa, has endorsed BDS. We are nearly there. Please join me and all our brothers and sisters in global civil society in proclaiming our rejection of Apartheid in Israel and occupied Palestine, by pledging not to perform or exhibit in Israel or accept any award or funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.

Roger Waters


(Source / 19.08.2013) 

Israeli fingerprints on Beirut terrorist bomb attack – Sleiman

israeli-fingerprints-on-beirut-terrorist-bomb-attack-sleiman-3971-articles.html

The real axis of evil represented by the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia is getting exposed quickly. The imperialists and zionists have always indulged in such criminal activities. They are now joined by the obscurantist Saudis that feel the winds of change in the region threatening their hold on power. The Beirut terrorist attack is part of their signature mark.
The car bomb attack that killed at least 22 people and injured more than 250 in the southern neighborhood of Ruwaiss in Beirut yesterday has Zionist Israel’s fingerprints all over it, according to Lebanese President Michel Sleiman.

“This is a criminal act that bears the fingerprints of terrorism and Israel, and is aimed to destabilize Lebanon and deal a blow to the resilience of the Lebanese,” Sleiman said on Thursday night. The Lebanese president is not known for hyperbole.

The targeted area is a stronghold of the Lebanese resistance movement Hizbullah. The bombing was condemned by a wide spectrum of politicians in Lebanon. Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati declared today (Friday) a day of mourning.

There was also international condemnation of the dastardly crime in Beirut that was allegedly carried out by the “Ayesha Brigade.” The group is unknown and the claim is clearly aimed at diverting attention from the Zionists.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Turkey, and Iran also condemned the attack.

The Beirut terrorist attack must be seen in the broader context of what is happening in the region. There is a determined effort to instigate sectarian conflict in the Muslim world that will benefit Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia. It certainly cannot advance the interests of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq or Iran.

What is underway in Syria, Iraq, and now spreading to Lebanon as well as events in Egypt are all part of this grand conspiracy.

The terrorist campaign in Syria has clearly failed despite spending billions of dollars on weapons purchases for the mercenary terrorists to bring down the government of Bashar al-Asad. The terrorists are financed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar and provided support by Turkey, the US, UK, and other European countries.

With failure staring them in the face, the terrorists have moved back to Iraq where they have caused havoc. There have been many deadly terrorist attacks in Iraq making July the bloodiest month by far in that country.

The Egyptian military’s attacks on unarmed supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood where they have massacred more than 2,600 people and injured thousands of others over the past two days are also financed and backed by the Saudis, Zionists and the Americans. Egypt is too important a country to be left in the hands of people’s representatives.

The war is now being spread into Iraq and Lebanon as the foreign-backed proxy war in Syria has clearly failed. The ultimate target of course is Islamic Iran that has stood against the imperialists and Zionists and frustrated their plans for total domination of the region.

Sectarianism is the last weapons left in the hands of the criminal syndicate represented by the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia. It benefits neither Sunnis nor Shias although sectarianism is used to arouse people’s negative emotions.

This is what Muslims—Sunnis and Shias—must guard against to save their societies from the devastation of the Zionists and imperialists and their local agents.

(Source / 19.08.2013)

Islamists on defensive throughout Middle East

 

Political leaders in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Jordan have sided with the Egyptian military and secularists who backed the July 3 ouster of President Mohammed Morsi.

On the streets of Cairo over the weekend, mobs and snipers attacked Morsi supporters, forcing security forces accused of slaughtering the Islamists to stand between them and the mob. The violence in Egypt echoes similar, though less deadly, backlashes against a recently installed Islamic ruling party in Tunisia, and one in power since 2002 in Turkey.

“The Egyptian uprising two years ago was against the Egyptian army,” says Michael Rubin, a Middle East expert at the American Enterprise Institute. But after one year of Muslim Brotherhood rule, “Suddenly (Egyptians) are coming out in the streets seeing the army as their savior.”

Egypt’s anti-Brotherhood uprising has caused at least 900 deaths in clashes so far, with the latest deaths being 25 policemen killed Monday by masked gunmen on the Sinai Peninsula, an area of frequent clashes between Islamist militants and security forces. It comes after the May-June Gezi Park protests in Turkey against what protesters there described as the creeping authoritarianism of that country’s Islamist ruling party and its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring, the Islamist Ennhada party has been deadlocked with secularists demanding it step aside and allow a caretaker government to take charge. Secularists emboldened by Morsi’s ouster in Egypt took to the streets there three weeks ago after the assassination of a second secularist politician this year by Islamist gunmen.

“We’ve seen a backlash against the first wave of political actors of the immediate post-revolutionary moment,” says Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Whether secularists “are making a play everywhere” is unclear, Satloff says, and Gulf states are following their own national interests.

Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, are supporting the Egyptian military against the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. But they are also supporting the Brotherhood in other arenas, such as Syria, where Brotherhood and other Islamist fighters are trying to topple a Shiite- and Iranian-backed tyrant, Bashar Assad.

The Gulf states want stability and to counter Shiite expansion in Syria and Iraq, so they support Islamists when it fits their national interests, Satloff says.

“If you’re looking for consistency this is not the region to do it,” he notes.

Aaron Zelin, who runs the Jihadology blog, an archive of primary source jihadi documents, says the Arab uprising caused people across the region to speak and act when they feel wronged by their leaders, but it’s far too early to count the Islamists out.

The military crackdown in Egypt has brought together all the strands of Islamists, causing ultra-conservative Salafists to join with jihadists in backing the non-violent Brotherhood, Zelin said. All want an Islamist state, and they see the crackdown as an affront against them all.

“They’re taking a beating now, but they’ll be back,” Zelin says.

(Source / 19.08.2013)

Mass demonstrations in Rabat in solidarity with Egyptians

Morocco anti-coup protest

In a show of unity with their Egyptian brothers, protesters raised Moroccan and Egyptian flags together

Thousands of Moroccans took to the streets of Rabat on Sunday to denounce the bloody, military coup in Egypt and to protest against the violence against unarmed Egyptians.

Protesters condemned the crimes that the coup rulers had committed against Egyptians and called for the Moroccan government to end relations with coup government in Egypt.

They called for the Moroccan ambassador in Cairo’s mission to be ended and for the expelling of the Egyptian ambassador in Rabat.

In a show of unity with their Egyptian brothers, protesters raised Moroccan and Egyptian flags together. They chanted anti-coup slogans and asserted the unity of the Moroccans and Egyptians.

Moroccans took part in the protests to show that they are in solidarity with Egyptians until the end of the military coup

(Source / 19.08.2013)

Russia’s Damaged Legacy in Syria

At a hospital in eastern Lebanon, Dr. Qassem al-Zayn, a soft-spoken Syrian  in his fifties, broke into a big smile when he realized that we both spoke Russian. I shouldn’t have been surprised, though. During my trips to opposition-controlled areas in Syria over the past two years, I’ve met Russian-speaking Syrians in almost every place. They always relished the opportunity to speak the language they learned years ago and reminisce about their education in the former Soviet Union. But their fond memories  are colored by a feeling of betrayal because of Russia’s continued support for Bashar al-Assad’s government despite the crimes it is committing against its own people.

“It was terrible,” Dr. Qassem told me, describing the major offensive that Syrian government forces and Hezbollah fighters opened in mid-May against al-Qusayr, an opposition-controlled Syrian town that used to have about 30,000 residents. Dr. Qassem looked like any other doctor, dressed in a dark blue shirt and black pants, with his stethoscope still hanging around his neck after the morning round at the hospital. But the last three weeks had been a living nightmare for him and the patients he was trying to help.

“The government forces attacked us all the time, with artillery, mortars, jets, and surface-to-surface missiles,” he said. “On one day, I counted 27 air strikes.”  The attacks killed and injured many fighters, but also civilians. A database maintained by opposition activists contains the names of more than 200 people killed during the two-week battle, almost half of them civilians.

Government jets and artillery appeared to intentionally strike hospitals and ad hoc clinics on several occasions,  people I interviewed said. In early May, for example, a jet struck one of the ad hoc clinics in al-Qusayr, completely collapsing the building. In early June the Syrian air force struck a hospital in Yabroud, a nearby town, where many of the wounded from al-Qusayr were being treated. In both cases, hospital staff and local civilian council members said that they had received warnings or learned about the attacks beforehand.

Artillery and aerial attacks were not the only problem for those left in al-Qusayr. Government forces prevented humanitarian assistance, including medical supplies, from reaching the town. The hospital was short of antibiotics, oxygen and anesthetics, Dr. Qassem told me. “Sometimes we had to operate on patients without anesthetics,” he said. “They were screaming from the pain.”

As the fighting for al-Qusayr intensified, the United Kingdom proposed to other United Nations Security Council members a statement urging all those fighting in al-Qusayr to do their utmost to avoid civilian casualties and the Syrian government to allow “unimpeded access to impartial humanitarian actors, including UN agencies, to reach civilians trapped in Al-Qusayr.” Russia blocked the statement, however, until after the fighting was over.

After two weeks of fighting, the armed opposition groups, overwhelmed, decided to abandon the town. In a chaotic evacuation that followed, dozens of fighters, civilians and wounded died from lack of medical treatment and government attacks.

Crossing a highway proved particularly dangerous as government forces opened fire. “Nobody knows how many people were killed that night,” said Dr. Qassem, “It was impossible to tell in the dark and with all the gunfire and shelling around.” As possible lawful targets for government forces, opposition fighters might have been putting civilians at greater risk of attack  when they decided to evacuate  with the civilians and wounded.  They say they left with the civilians  to protect them.

Some of the lives lost during evacuation might have been saved if Russia, instead of blocking the Security Council statement, had pushed Syria to allow humanitarian actors to evacuate civilians and wounded.

Dr. Qassem was not the only Russian-speaking doctor in al-Qusayr. Two other doctors who fled with him spoke Russian as well.  From previous trips to Syria, I also remember a doctor from Saraqeb, trained in Russia, who told us that Syrian government forces had burned down his field hospital when they stormed his town; a pharmacist from the Aleppo countryside, whose Russian wife and two children lived in safety in Russia while he was smuggling medical supplies to field hospitals in the area; a young doctor with a Russian diploma working endless shifts at a makeshift hospital near the Turkish border; a relief coordinator in a town in northern Aleppo, who used to own a chain of kebab restaurants in Russia; and many others.

All of these Russian-speakers were eternally grateful for the educational and business opportunities Russia had provided. Most of them insistently professed their love of Russian literature and the Russian people. But they could not understand why the Russian government continues to protect a regime that is committing such horrible violations.

It is indeed high time for Russia to condemn not only the opposition, but also the government when it commits grave violations, and to support a Security Council  referral of Syria to the International Criminal Court, which would investigate violations by both sides. Russia should also stop providing the Syrian government with weapons that are being used to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. The long-planned peace talks in Geneva that Russia promotes, which might not even take place at this point, should not be used as an excuse for staying silent on the Syrian government’s horrific violations.

“The bombs causing the injuries I treat come from Russia,” Dr. Qassem said in his good, but partially forgotten Russian. “Why is Russia protecting this government that is killing so many civilians?” he asked me. “Russia used to be our friend, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.”

(Source / 19.08.2013)

New movement targets Hamas rule in Gaza

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – A newly announced Palestinian youth movement, said to be based in the Gaza Strip, released a statement and a video Sunday calling on all residents of Gaza to protest on Nov. 11.

They urged protests against rivalries, exclusion, single-handedness, injustice, oppression and the violation of the inalienable rights of the people of Gaza.

“We can’t remain silent any more, and those who count on our defeat are mistaken losers, while those who count on our tolerance should know that tolerance could come to an end,” a masked activist read on behalf of a new movement identified as “rebel against injustice.”

Nov. 11, 2013 is the “desired day”, added the statement, which highlighted that on that day all “tyrannies and oppression practiced by the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza” will come to an end. “They have practiced fraud in the name of religion and resistance declaring themselves as believers while they labeled us as disbelievers.”

The statement accused Hamas in Gaza of shedding Palestinian blood “for the sake of murder only” as well as torturing and humiliating people through their daily practices in Gaza.

“It is time we rejected death forcibly under Hamas’ pretext of security. Our people regardless of their political and even religious affiliations have been targeted by their criminality,” the statement continued. It explicitly accused Hamas of murder, torture, sabotage, bribes, vandalism and smuggling.

“Those who carry resistance fighters’ rifles must stop pointing these rifles at their own people, and stop scaring them, stabbing them, betraying them and trading their pains.”

The statement pledged that Hamas would not rule Gaza any more after Nov. 11.

But it said that Hamas’ people would not be asked to leave Gaza. “We will not ask you to leave because you are part of us even if you exterminate us. All options are open to us except arms because we are different from you. It is you not us who would point their guns at their brothers.”

The statement ended by urging young people in Gaza and young people of Palestine to rebel and added that God will eventually administer justice to those who have been oppressed.

(Source / 19.08.2013)

Palestinian universities facing crippling financial crisis, union says

HEBRON (Ma’an) – All Palestinian universities are facing a crippling financial crisis and some have not been able to pay salaries regularly over the past two years, a union leader said Monday.

Amjad Barham, who heads a union of university professors and staff, told Ma’an that most Palestinian universities have accumulated unpaid salaries and other expenses. Thus, he added, universities will not be able to afford the basic preparations to provide a decent education if the situation remains unchanged.

He highlighted that the crippling financial crisis was a result of failure by consecutive Palestinian governments to pay even a minimum of the financial aid they were supposed to provide to universities. Governments, he said, pledged certain sums of aid in the past two years, but only 10 percent of that pledged aid was delivered. As for 2013, only 5 percent of the financial support to universities approved by the government has been delivered.

According to Barham, universities will not be able to fulfill their essential role in providing a decent education to Palestinian students if financial difficulties are not resolved.

(Source / 19.08.2013)

Family of missing man urges Jawwal to turn over call history

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – Hundreds of Palestinians rallied Monday in front of offices of the Palestinian mobile service provider Jawwal in Gaza City after the company refused to help the a family which has been trying to collect information about a relative who went missing in June.

The family of Muhammad Khalil al-Aloul has been trying to convince Jawwal to provide details of incoming and outgoing calls to the missing man’s phone, but the company has refused to reveal any details, citing privacy concerns.

The angry protesters tried to close the main gates of Jawwal’s offices and prevented customers from accessing it. As a result, a brawl broke between protesters and one of the Jawwal employees. Hamas-affiliated police officers arrived and prevented the protesters from interrupting the company’s work.

After police intervened, representatives of the protesters met with Jawwal executives and explained to them how any detail about the missing man may help his family or at least give them hope about his fate.

“Since my brother was kidnapped, we have been trying to convince Jawwal executives, but in vain,” said Samir al-aLoul, a brother of the missing man. He appealed to the attorney general in the Hamas-run government in Gaza to give orders to Jawwal to reveal details of his brother’s phone calls.

Representatives of Jawwal told Ma’an they were not immediately able to comment.

(Source / 19.08.2013)