US Hidden Hand in Kenya-Somalia Crisis: Nairobi Attack Related to White House Funding of Mogadishu Occupation

United States Has Hidden Hand in Kenya-Somalia Crisis of Relations – Attack on Westgate Mall in Nairobi related to White House funding of Mogadishu occupation

Smoke rises from the Westgate mall in Nairobi on September 23, 2013. (AFP Photo / Carl De Souza)

Billows of smoke emanated from the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya on the third day of a standoff between Kenyan, Israeli and United States forces (FBI) against the seizure of the facility by members of the Al-Shabaab Islamic resistance movement based in Somalia. Reports indicated that at least 62 people had been killed since the incident began on Saturday September 21.

Eyewitnesses reported that a group of armed men and women stormed the entrance of the mall during midday shooting at random and tossing hand grenades. Members of the armed group were quoted as saying that their operation was in response to the ongoing occupation by approximately 2,500 Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) troops of southern Somalia.

Kenya, which shares a border with Somalia, entered the troubled Horn of Africa state in October 2011 in what was called Operation Linda Nchi (protect the nation in Kiswahili). The Kenyan government at this time was led by President Mwai Kibai and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, two close allies of the U.S. administration.

KDF forces bombed the strategic port city at Kismayo in the early phase of the operation. The city was a financial base for Al-Shabaab which controlled the lucrative charcoal exports from the country.

Since the intervention of Kenya into Somalia, unrest has continued in the south of the country where resistance is escalating outside Kismayo involving Al-Shabaab guerillas who attack KDF positions on a daily basis. Even local politicians and elders not associated with Al-Shabaab have complained about the activities of the Kenyan forces which are accused of interfering in the internal affairs of the region as well as human rights violations against civilians.

The Role of the U.S. in the Somalia Crisis

The attack on the Westgate Mall is being portrayed by the corporate and capitalist government-controlled media in the U.S. and Europe as a new episode in the so-called “war on terrorism.” Yet the role of the White House through the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) goes without mention.

U.S. imperialism has been involved in attempts to influence the political situation in Somalia and the Horn of Africa for many decades. During the late 1970s, former Somalian military leader Mohamed Siad Barre was courted by the Carter administration and convinced that an invasion of Ethiopia, then in alliance with the Soviet Union and Cuba, would result in Washington’s economic and military support to the beleaguered state which had attempted to adopt a socialist-orientation in 1969.

The invasion of the Ogaden region of Ethiopia in 1978, where a large population of Somalis lived, proved to be a monumental disaster for Mogadishu. Cuban internationalist forces then in Ethiopia to assist the government of Mengistu Haile Mariam fought alongside the national army of Addis Ababa defeating Barre’s forces.

This ill-advised military adventure plunged Somalia into a deeper economic and political crisis that lasted for well over a decade. By early 1991, the Barre regime had collapse leaving a vast security and political vacuum inside the country.

Later in December 1992, the administration of George H.W. Bush sent 12,000 Marines into Somalia in what was called “Operation Restore Hope.” The intervention was sold to the people of the U.S. and the world as a “humanitarian mission” designed to address problems stemming from the drought and famine which had long plagued the country.

Nonetheless, by early 1993, Somalians had risen up against the intervention by the U.S., other western-imperialist states and United Nations forces occupying the nation. Dozens of Pentagon and UN troops lost their lives in a humiliating defeat that drove these military occupiers from Somalia in 1994.

Since this defeat in Somalia, the U.S. has never given up on controlling this region of Africa. With the overthrow of the socialist-oriented government of Mengistu in 1991, Washington enhanced its influence through working with the federal government in Ethiopia then headed by Meles Zenawi.

By 2006, the U.S. “war on terrorism” was well underway with occupations taking place simultaneously in Afghanistan, Iraq and Haiti. In order to avoid the political fallout of another direct intervention, the Bush II administration encouraged Ethiopia to invade Somalia in order to displace the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) which had begun to consolidate its influence and stabilize the country after years of war and factional strife.

The main problem the U.S. had with the Islamic Courts was that it was operating outside of Washington’s influence. After two years of the intervention by Ethiopia, Somalia was again facing famine with the worst humanitarian crisis in the world at that time.

Ethiopian military forces withdrew in early 2009 and sections of the Islamic Courts were won over to a Washington-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG). A youth wing of the Islamic Courts arose known as Al-Shabaab (the youth) and began to wage war against the TFG demanding that all foreign forces be withdrawn from Somalia.

Beginning in 2007, the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) was formed with the bulk of its forces coming from the U.S.-allied government of President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. Fighting has continued in Somalia since this time period with periodic and direct intervention by the Pentagon and the CIA.

U.S. and British bombing operations have been carried out against alleged Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda bases in Somalia. The country is also a base of operations for the U.S. drone programs which extends from the Horn of Africa all the way into the Indian Ocean islands of Seychelles.

In addition, the CIA has a major field station in Mogadishu and has maintained detention facilities inside Somalia imprisoning purported suspects in the “war on terrorism.” The combined AMISOM forces now consisting of some 17,500 troops, receives training and funding from Washington.

The Somalia operation of the U.S. is part and parcel of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) which was formally started in 2008 under Bush but has been strengthened and enhanced by the Obama administration.

Kenya’s intervention in southern Somalia in October 2011 had been planned for at least two years. The release of WikiLeaks cables in 2010 documented the plans and the role of the State Department.

In an article published by the Kenyan Daily Nation on December 17, 2010, it reports that “The cables also say the military action took years of planning and was not a spontaneous reaction to abductions conducted by the Islamist group on Kenyan soil as repeatedly stated by government officials. The abductions seemed to provide Kenya with a convenient excuse to launch the plan, which, officials argued, was necessary to ensure protection against threats posed by an unstable neighbor.”

This secret plan, dubbed “Jubaland Initiative,” outlined the creation of an artificial state in southern Somalia in an effort to choke off Al-Shabaab from the border areas near Kenya. At a meeting in Ethiopia in January 2010, the Kenyan delegation led by the-then Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetang’ula appealed for U.S. support in the operation.

In addition to U.S. involvement in Somalia and Kenya, the state of Israel also has close ties with the government in Nairobi. Israeli economic interests are much in evidence in Kenya where tourism hotels and other businesses such as the Westgate shopping mall are owned by capitalists who are citizens of the Zionist state.

Developments in Kenya and throughout the entire region of East Africa must be viewed within the context of U.S. economic and strategic interests in partnership with its NATO allies and the state of Israel. In recent years new findings of oil and natural gas all along the coast of East Africa is of course a source of imperialist interests in the region.

At the same time flotillas of U.S. and European Union warships have been occupying the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia for several years under the guise of fighting piracy. Underlying this occupation of the Gulf of Aden is the vast economic resources that are transported through this waterway which is one of the most lucrative in the world.

The current government of President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi was not the favored choice of the Obama administration during the elections in March. Washington supported former Prime Minister Odinga in the race and had issued veiled threats against Kenya if it did not vote the way the U.S. wanted.

Both President Kenyatta and Vice-President William Ruto are under indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Ruto requested and was granted an adjournment of his trial that was taking place at the time of the Westgate mall attack pending the outcome of the standoff.

Kenyatta and Ruto are accused of human rights violations during the course of a violent dispute over the results of the previous elections held in late 2007. Their prosecution by the ICC has been rejected by the Kenyan government as well as the entire 54-member nations of the African Union.

The ICC has been severely criticized by the African Union due to its exclusive preoccupation with prosecuting continental leaders. Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir is also under indictment by the ICC and could be denied a visa by the State Department to attend the UN General Assembly in New York even though Washington is not a signatory to the Rome Statue that created the ICC.

(Source / 05.10.2013)

Palestine Goodness Organization

Palestine_Goodness_Organization# was donated some equipment for the Department of operations in the Al Awda Hospital of the Union of Health Work Committees in the northern Gaza Strip, as a gift from the organization of the Department of operations at the hospital, indicated that the equipment were not present in the sector, but we were able to secure the efforts of foreign Relations to the organization. .
قدمت “منظمة فلسطين الخير” بعض المعدات الخاصة بقسم العمليات في مستشفى العودة التابع لاتحاد لجان العمل الصحي في شمال قطاع غزة ، وذلك كهدية من المنظمة لقسم العمليات في المستشفى ، يشار الى ان هذه المعدات لم تكن موجودة في القطاع ، إلا أننا استطعنا تأمينها بجهود العلاقات الخارجية للمنظمة . .

Palestine Goodness Organisation

Alfred Pijpers over Israël en de EU

By Engelbert Luitsz                       ©                   (


Oud-docent politieke wetenschappen Alfred Pijpers schreef onlangs een opiniestuk voor de Volkskrant waarvan de titel claimt dat een boycot van Israël vooral Europa zou schaden. Pijpers was ooit visiting professor aan de Hebreeuwse Universiteit te Jeruzalem, wellicht dat het klimaat aldaar zijn hersens heeft aangetast, want zijn artikel roept nogal wat vragen op. Tijd voor een korte deconstructie.


De kop ‘Boycot Israël zou vooral Europa schaden’ is niet door de Volkskrant bedacht, want deze staat ook boven hetzelfde stuk dat Pijpers op zijn weblog heeft gezet (daar zelfs zonder aanhalingstekens).

De maatregelen die de EU voorstelt zijn het verbieden van labels made in Israël voor producten die uit de bezette gebieden afkomstig zijn en daarnaast het stopzetten van subsidies en beurzen aan bedrijven die in de bezette gebieden actief zijn. Dankzij het EU-Israël Associatieakkoord krijgt Israël verlaging of zelfs vrijstelling van invoerrechten bij invoer van producten in de EU. Dat een schurkenstaat zoveel privileges krijgt is al erg vreemd natuurlijk, nog gekker is het dat als er tegengeluiden zijn, deze worden betiteld als “anti-Israël”, “slecht voor het vredesproces”, of “een kant kiezen in het conflict”. Dat het verdrag zelf een duidelijk teken is van één kant kiezen ontgaat de verontwaardigde vrienden van Israël kennelijk.

Het belangrijkste is echter dat er helemaal geen sprake is van een ‘boycot van Israël’, zoals Pijpers suggereert. Integendeel, als de EU onderscheid maakt tussen producten uit Israël en producten uit de bezette gebieden, dan wordt Israël daarmee heel duidelijk erkend als een legitieme partner. Er is zelfs geen sprake van het boycotten van Israëlische producten, dus laat staan van het land Israël.

Dat was de kop…

Het onthaal van Peres

Israëls president Shimon Peres kwam op 29 september naar Nederland, vijf dagen na publicatie van Pijpers opiniestuk, maar Pijpers weet al dat Peres “een kille ontvangst” zal wachten. De goede man werd echter met ongekende egards ontvangen. Minister Timmermans, ooit kritisch op zijn voorganger Rosenthal vanwege diens beleid ten aanzien van Israël, heeft zich sinds hij zelf is aangetreden als minister ontpopt als de slippendrager van de machthebbers. Gisteren zagen we hem nog met de hand naar zijn hart gaan toen de grote zionistische leider hem aankeek bij College Tour. Je zag hem bijna letterlijk smelten van trots.

Peres mocht eten met de koning en de koningin, en natuurlijk met onze minister-president; alle veiligheidsdiensten en de halve Nederlandse politiemacht rukten uit om hem te begeleiden bij zijn bezoek aan de Portugees-Israëlietische Synagoge te Amsterdam. Saillant detail misschien: deze synagoge werd in de 17e eeuw gebouwd door Sefardische joden. Deze joden waren tot in de 19e eeuw de dominante groep, maar hun cultuur is zo goed als om zeep geholpen door de Asjkenazische joden waartoe Shimon Peres behoort (en praktisch alle zionistische joden die iets in de melk te brokkelen hebben).

Op de laatste dag van zijn bezoek mocht Peres een toespraak houden in de plenaire zaal van de Eerste Kamer, iets wat nog maar één keer eerder was gebeurd bij een buitenlands staatshoofd, en ‘s avonds  trad hij op in College Tour, wederom bij hoge uitzondering in de Ridderzaal.

Kille ontvangst? Valt best mee.

De jodenvervolging

De oplettende lezer die het tot hier heeft volgehouden zal zich ongetwijfeld hebben afgevraagd: “Maar waar blijft die holocaust nou?” Hier is ie dan. Een van de redenen waarom een boycot-die-het-niet-is averechts zal werken, is dat niet zozeer Nazi-Duitsland, maar heel Europa verantwoordelijk was voor de jodenvervolgingen (dat Pijpers hier de Palestijnen niet in één adem noemt met nazi’s is een gemiste kans, zeker voor Volkskrantlezers).  Deze “boycot” past dus perfect in die traditie.

Bovendien, ja, dat kon ook niet uitblijven, zijn de maatregelen funest voor het “vredesproces”. Niet zozeer omdat Israël niet warm loopt voor een rechtvaardige oplossing, maar omdat de Palestijnen deze kans zullen aangrijpen om minder concessies te doen. Het staat er echt.

De Europese opstelling zal trouwens ook de Palestijnse concessiebereidheid doen afnemen. Peres heeft daar al voor gewaarschuwd, evenals de Amerikaanse minister van Buitenlandse Zaken, John Kerry.

Welke concessies de Palestijnen nog kunnen doen, nadat ze voor het overgrote deel na 65 jaar nog in vluchtelingenkampen zitten of ergens in de diaspora zijn beland, terwijl het beetje grond dat ze nog in beheer hebben elke dag kleiner wordt, maakt de heer Pijpers niet duidelijk. En niets ten nadele van Peres (daar is ie weer!) en Kerry, maar een geloofwaardige Palestijnse bron voor die angst zou het artikel geen kwaad hebben gedaan.

Technologische kennis

Pijpers maakt een klassieke argumentatiesprong door opeens alle joden als burgers van Israël voor te stellen. Nu ligt er wel een paspoort klaar voor iedere jood en is het ook de retoriek uit het zionistische kamp om alle joden bij de Joodse Staat te betrekken, maar de werkelijkheid is toch anders. We hebben het hier over Israël, niet over de joden. Dus aankomen met alle Nobelprijzen die joden ooit gewonnen hebben is in dit verband nogal misleidend. Het is de schuld van Europa dat wij nu joodse kennis moeten importeren en zonder die kennis zijn wij nergens meer, betoogt Pijpers. Alsof Europa Israël nodig zou hebben voor haar technologische ontwikkeling! De vriendelijke en tamelijk slimme jood Einstein moest helemaal niets hebben van het politiek/religieus zionisme en de bekrompen gettomentalitiet van Israël, meneer Pijpers.

Dus laten we eens naar Israël kijken. Sinds 1948 heeft Nederland 19 serieuze Nobelprijzen gewonnen, Israël slechts 4! We hebben het hier tenslotte over wetenschap. In totaal heeft Israël 8 Nobelprijzen gekregen, waarvan 1 voor Literatuur en 3 voor de Vrede. Die voor de vrede waren voor Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres en Menachem Begin, die alle drie zoveel Palestijns bloed aan hun handen hadden dat ze de medaille nauwelijks vast konden houden.

Daarnaast waren er nog twee prijzen voor economie, maar dat is geen echte Nobelprijs en bovendien hadden beide winnaars, Robert Aumann en Daniel Kahneman,  ook de Amerikaanse nationaliteit.

Kortom, de angst dat wij het zonder Israël niet zouden redden op technologisch gebied lijkt me ongegrond.

Waarom zijn joden zo slim?

Een paar van de slimste joden die ik ken zijn Spinoza, Einstein, Freud en Chomsky. Wat zij gemeen hebben is dat ze geen van allen iets moesten (of moeten bij Chomsky) hebben van een cultuur die vanuit de synagoge wordt aangestuurd (zelfs deze week nog citeerde Netanyahu de profeet Amos bijvoorbeeld en zijn tot vervelens toe herhaalde tweeduizend jaar oude claim op het Beloofde Land is ook overbekend). Zij waren wat men noemt geassimileerde joden, de schrik van zowel de zionisten als de orthodoxen.

Wellicht heeft juist die assimilatie gezorgd voor zoveel intelligentie, zou dat niet kunnen? Confrontaties met competitieve theorieën, blootstelling aan allerlei ideeën en vormen van kennis leiden tot meer inzicht dan het vast blijven houden aan oude dogma’s. In The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History, 70-1492 hebben Maristella Botticini en Zvi Ekstein een voor veel Israëlische joden pijnlijke boodschap: het was dankzij de islam, die in de zevende eeuw ontstond, dat de joden hun potentieel konden uitbuiten.

Tussen 750 en 900 verlieten bijna alle joden in Mesopotamië en Perzië – ongeveer 75% van alle joden wereldwijd in die tijd – hun akkers om naar de grote steden van het Kalifaat van de Abbasiden te trekken, waar ze begonnen zich te specialiseren in een hele scala aan beroepen die te maken hadden met geletterdheid en onderwijs. De reden was simpel: deze beroepen waren beduidend lucratiever dan het boerenbedrijf.

Misschien leest Netanyahu dit en stopt hij met zijn onsmakelijke lastercampagne tegen Iran.

Nogal genant

Op één punt had Pijpers wel gelijk. Hij schrijft: “De Europese Unie kan het oude wijze volk niet opnieuw buitensluiten, zal de uit het vooroorlogse Polen afkomstige Shimon Peres ons kunnen leren.” Dat is wat Peres ook wel liet doorschemeren bij Anne Frank en College Tour. Wat Pijpers genant vindt is dat “Europa joodse kennis moet importeren die in het verleden op eigen bodem is weggevaagd”. Dat moet helemaal niet. Er zijn heel veel joden die in Europa wonen die een bijdrage leveren, zonder dat ze dat uit naam van Israël doen. We kunnen best zonder Israëlische import. We kunnen samenwerken met Israël als dat land zich fatsoenlijk gedraagt en het staat joden vrij te wonen waar ze willen, ze hebben zelfs meer speelruimte dan bijna alle andere mensen aangezien ze standaard twee nationaliteiten hebben wanneer ze niet in Israël wonen.

Wat werkelijk genant is, is dat een van die “oude wijzen”, Noam Chomsky, de toegang tot Israël en de Westelijke Jordaanoever werd ontzegd in 2010.  Het gezever van Peres over vrede en rechtvaardigheid wordt dagelijks gelogenstraft door de activiteiten van het Israëlische leger, de praatjes van politici en de onvermoeibare zionistische propagandisten overal in de wereld. De mensen die Israël het hardst nodig heeft om weer met beide benen op de grond te komen, worden verketterd en veracht. Dat is niet alleen genant, het is een tragedie.

6-year-old loses eye to Israeli rubber bullet

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces shot 6-year-old Musab al-Sarahneh in the eye in al-Fawwar refugee camp south of Hebron early last week, his family reported.

The boy lost his right eye after Israeli forces opened fire on the car he was traveling in with rubber-coated steel bullets, according to the family’s account.

At the time, last Friday, Musab was sitting in a car holding his mother’s hand as they made their way home, his family says.

As they approached the entrance to al-Fawwar refugee camp, an Israeli soldier opened fire at their car out of nowhere, according to Musab’s mother. She said that the Israeli soldier who shot Musab was only about 40 meters from their car.

Immediately following the incident, Musab noticed blood flowing from right eye, and was taken to the hospital. One of the rubber-coated metal bullets fired by the Israeli soldier hit Musab straight in the eye.

Musab told Ma’an that earlier in the day he had gone with his mother to visit his uncle’s house. While making their way back home, an Israeli soldier shot him, he said.

Musab wondered: “Why did the Israeli soldier shoot me? I lost my eye, and I am still so young for that.”

Musab’s father explained: “I left the house and my son had two eyes, and I came back home and now my son has one eye.” He noted that he couldn’t even look at his son, and that it was painful for him to see his son suffering.

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, the incident occurred as Israeli forces closed the main entrance to al-Fawwar refugee camp, deploying around bypass road 60.

Some boys gathered and threw stones and empty bottles at Israeli soldiers, who fired tear gas canisters in response, the group said, and as a result, several boys suffered tear-gas inhalation.

Around the same time, the group said, a soldier fired rubber-coated metal bullets at a woman and her children while they were standing nearby, leading to Sarahna’s injury.

(Source / 05.10.2013)

Israeli forces Kidnap Four Palestinians In Nablus

Israeli forces Kidnap Four Palestinians In Nablus

Nablus – Friday at dawn October 4, 2013, Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and a number of nearby villages, and kidnapped four Palestinians, including a political leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
Local sources have reported that local youths threw stones and empty bottles at the soldiers after they invaded the Old city of Nablus.

The sources added that a local store caught fire due to the large number of concussion grenades fired by the invading soldiers.

The soldiers kidnapped Zaher Ash-Shashtary, a senior PFLP leader, along with Thabet Nassar, and a third resident who remain unidentified, in addition to kidnapping Yousef Abu Ghalama from Beit Forik nearby town.

Local sources in Nablus said that the soldiers broke into and searched several homes in the center of the city, while sounds of explosions were heard in different nearby areas.

(Source / 05.10.2013)

Hamas meets Palestinian ambassador, Fatah al-Intifada, and Bishop Matar



BEIRUT, (PIC)– Delegations from Hamas in Lebanon met with Beirut Maronite Bishop Boulos Matar, Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon Ashraf Dabour and the leadership of Fatah – the Intifada.

A Hamas delegation headed by Raafat Marra, member of the political leadership of the movement and Lebanon relations official, visited Bishop Boulos Matar at the Maronite Archdiocese of Beirut.

The delegation reviewed the ongoing Israeli attacks on the city of Jerusalem, the Palestinians and the Islamic and Christian holy sites.

For his part, bishop Matar stressed his support to the Palestinian cause and emphasized the Palestinians’ right to defend themselves against the injustice.

Another Hamas delegation headed by the movement’s representative in Lebanon Ali Baraka visited the Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon Ashraf Dabour, in the headquarters of the embassy in Beirut.

At the end of the meeting, a statement was issued stressing “the importance of the Palestinian cause, despite all the changes and the surrounding circumstances.” It also called for supporting the steadfastness of the Palestinian people at home and abroad, and unifying the Palestinian people in light of ongoing events in the region.

The meeting also stressed “the need to defend Jerusalem, the Aqsa Mosque, the Ibrahimi Mosque, and the Christian holy sites in face of the Israeli aggressions”.

Both sides called for sparing the Palestinians in Lebanon the country’s internal conflict, and supporting the demands of the residents of Nahr al-Bared refugee camp.

Finally, a Hamas delegation also headed by Ali Baraka visited the headquarters of Fatah – al-Intifada in the Lebanese capital Beirut, and met with member of its Central Committee Hassan Zeidan and a number of leaders.

The attendees affirmed adherence to the option of resistance against Israeli occupation until the achievement of the objectives of the people in liberation, independence and right of return.

(Source / 05.10.2013)

Tel Aviv conference plans for Palestinian return

TEL AVIV (Ma’an) — There are few topics that scare the Israeli public more than the potential realization of the Palestinian Right of Return. Israel’s New Historians increasingly acknowledge that Israel’s creation in 1948 was a direct result of a planned ethnic cleansing that led to the displacement of 800,000 Palestinians from 530 villages.

And yet there continues to be a wide-reaching, unspoken consensus across Israeli society that the return of the displaced indigenous Palestinian inhabitants of what became Israel and their descendants, today numbering around 4.5 million around the world, is not up for discussion.

As prominent Israeli columnist Gideon Levy asserted last Sunday in Tel Aviv, “Organizing a conference on the Right of Return is considered to be illegitimate by most Israelis. But we shouldn’t be afraid of that … Let me remind all of us that we had demons in our past just as scary that evaporated over the years … Now that we have gotten rid of earlier demons, we’re left with this demon that no one deals with: the Right of Return.”

It is precisely for this reason that the conference organized by Israeli organization Zochrot Sept. 29-30 at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv was so ground-breaking. Entitled, “From Truth to Redress: Realizing the Return of the Palestinian Refugees,” it was one of the largest conferences to take place to date inside of Israel addressing the Palestinian Right of Return.

The conference aimed not merely to insist upon the legitimacy of the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland, but also to examine in practice how such a return would take place. Because of Israel’s refusal to accept this right, a great deal of Palestinian discourse until recently has focused exclusively on insisting upon the legitimacy and necessity of return.

But if we accept the right as legitimate, a whole other host of questions emerge: Where will the refugees live? What kind of state will emerge? How will Palestinian society-in-exile re-emerge within the homeland? And finally, how will Jewish Israeli society come to terms with their new position in a state where they do not have a position of ethnic supremacy?

The conference builds on increasing momentum within Israel’s borders by Palestinian activists actively materializing the Right of Return. Israel is home to tens of thousands of Palestinians who were displaced from their villages in 1948 but remained inside the new state’s borders. Many of these communities ended up as refugees only mere miles from their original villages but were forbidden to return by the State of Israel.

In summer 2012, young Palestinian refugees originally from Iqrit returned to their mostly destroyed village and set up permanent residence. In response, Palestinians within Israel from other villages have also begun returning to their villages. Despite intense pressure from the Israeli state they have remained steadfast and present, refusing to be displaced from their ancestral lands yet again.

As Khulood Badawi, a Palestinian activist inside Israel, argued, “We need to take the model of Iqrit to other areas. We need to raise awareness by saying that we cannot just talk about the global Right of Return if we are not implementing Right of Return within Israel, while there are still displaced Palestinians here within Israel.”

Badawi stressed that the displaced Palestinians within Israel must use the advantages at their disposal, primarily citizenship rights and the ability to return to their displaced villages, to lead the way by showing Israelis, Palestinians, and the whole world that in fact return is possible. As she argued, “We cannot realize the global Right of Return without achieving the Right of Return of those displaced Palestinians within Israel.”

Zochrot director Liat Rosenberg told attendees that, “Return is a long and ongoing multifaceted process that includes not only physical return of refugees, but also the establishment of an actual society. It begins long before they come, and it will continue long after.” The conference thus addressed not only how return would take place, but also how Jewish Israeli society would come to accept it.

Zochrot has long been actively committed to challenging the collective, willed amnesia of many Jewish Israelis toward 1948. As conference organizers prominently reminded the audience throughout, the Eretz Israel Museum where the conference took place sits atop the destroyed Palestinian village of Sheikh Muwannis, official recognition for which Zochrot continues to fight. At the same time, as various panelists noted, Israeli Jewish society needs to understand that Palestinian return and decolonization does not entail Jewish ethnic cleansing.

The conference challenged both Israelis and Palestinians to rethink their ideas of return, offering complex visions of possibilities rarely discussed or even imagined. As some speakers noted, “return” means something different for every Palestinian refugee. While some may actually desire to return to their physical homes, others desire the ability to live anywhere in their homeland free from Israeli discrimination. Others crave merely the recognition of the historical crimes committed against them.

Palestinian architect and activist Shadi Habib Allah stressed that many Palestinians do want to return to their villages, and planning the geography of that return is of the utmost necessity. He presented architectural plans for the village center of al Lajun, offering a physical vision of return that “honored emotions,” as he explained through its innovative use of traditional Palestinian village design and notions of communal living. At the same time, the village offered a modern vision that would not insist upon a return to the path but hinted instead at a brighter future.

There are as many ideas of return as there are Palestinian refugees, a flexibility conference attendees frequently acknowledged. The decolonization of Israeli space through imagining Palestinian return means not returning to what was, but instead building a shared geographic future. And while the Israeli taboo on discussing the Palestinian Right of Return may not have been definitively shattered in these two days, that the conference even took place is a hopeful sign for the future.

As Israeli journalist Gideon Levy reminded the audience, “Treating (return) as something that should not be mentioned only exacerbates the problem … the only way to deal with it is first and foremost to talk about it.”

(Source / 05.10.2013)

Syrian military shells village on coast: activists

A Syrian soldier walks toward a Russian-made Syrian army armoured personnel carrier (APC) stationed along a street leading into Maaloula on September 18, 2013. (AFP PHOTO/ANWAR AMRO)
A Syrian soldier walks toward a Russian-made Syrian army armoured personnel carrier (APC) stationed along a street leading into Maaloula on September 18, 2013.

DAMASCUS: Syrian government forces shelled a vulnerable Sunni community in a coastal province dominated by President Bashar Assad’s Alawite sect on Saturday, activists said, raising fears that residents of the isolated town could face mass killings by pro-Damascus militias.

Two Syrian rights groups said shelling of the town of al-Mitras began at dawn, killing six people. The town lies near two other Sunni Muslim towns of Bayda and Banias. Rights groups charge that regime supporters killed at least 248 people in those two communities in May. They said regime forces shelled Bayda before militias entered and carried out the alleged massacre.

“We are worried, because this is an isolated area and crimes can be covered up quickly,” said Rami Abdul-Rahman of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which follows a network of activists in the field. He said the shelling began at dawn after rebels were spotted nearby.

Syria’s civil war has cleaved along the country’s sectarian patchwork. Sunnis dominate the revolt, while Christians and other Muslim sects have mostly stood behind the regime.

Another Syrian activist who goes by the name of Abu al-Waleed said there were negotiations underway to hand over rebel fighters in exchange for regime forces promising not to allow harm to come to civilians.

“The fear is that they are trying to clean this area of rebel supporters – that is, the Sunni community,” he said in a Skype call.

Also in Syria, the government raised the price of gasoline and transportation in its latest wartime austerity move, a step likely to increase hardship for many Syrians already suffering from the economic consequences of civil war.

The price hike was announced late Friday.

The price of a liter (quarter gallon) of gasoline increased by 25 percent, from 80 Syrian pounds (45 cents, on the black market) to 100 (57 cents), according to a government declaration. Official Imad al-Assil said the decision would simultaneously raise transportation fees by 17 percent.

The consequences of a gasoline price rise are likely to be most punishing for Syrians living in rebel-held regions, where fuel is smuggled in, or rushed through unsafe roads. It can be up to three times as expensive as in the government zones.

The increase will also impact the price of food due to increased transportation costs. International groups say that rising prices has already made it difficult for Syrians to afford food, and activists have reported pockets of malnutrition in rebel enclaves like the suburbs of Damascus.

Any increases will also likely raise heating costs for many city households, which use gasoline-powered generators to cope with frequent outages.

Syria has been importing gasoline to make up for a shortfall in local production, interrupted by the 2 ½-year conflict. It last raised the price of gasoline in May.

The conflict has shattered Syria’s economy, killed more than 100,000 people and forced over 2 million from their homes.

(Source / 05.10.2013)

Gov’t: No visit for Abbas to Gaza in the near future


GAZA, (PIC)– Taher Al-Nunu, the Gaza government’s spokesman, has denied an alleged statement for premier Ismail Haneyya that PA chief Mahmoud Abbas would visit Gaza Strip soon.

Nunu said in a terse statement on Saturday that such news were not true, and asked the media to be more accurate in reporting news.

He added, however, that Haneyya was keen on restoring unity and ending the division.

(Source / 05.10.2013)

Settlers cut down and burn hundreds of trees in Nablus and al-Khalil



NABLUS, (PIC)– Jewish extremist settlers attacked olive groves in Deir Sharaf village west of Nablus northern West Bank on Friday night.

The settlers attacked Palestinian lands near Shavei Shomron settlement where they cut down trees and bulldozed Palestinian lands in the area, a PIC correspondent reported.

The lands’ owners were stunned Saturday morning at the site and bulk of the damages caused by the settlers’ violent attack against their agricultural lands.

Settler attacks usually witness a sharp escalation during the olive harvest season, and include the uprooting of Palestinian trees, in addition to attacks on residents, and international supporters, while picking their crops.

Meanwhile, Israeli settlers burned Palestinian land planted with grapes near Kharsia settlement in al-Khalil southern West Bank.

Local sources told Quds Press that the Israeli settlers burned down a four-dunum piece of land planted with grapes owned by the Palestinian citizen Mousa Jaber.

The Palestinian farmers called on human rights institutions to intervene to put an end to the Israeli violations and attacks against them and their farms.

(Source / 05.10.2013)