PLC: ‘reconciliation cannot be achieved amid security coordination with Israel’


GAZA (Ma’an) — The first deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) said during Friday’s Khutbah (Islamic sermon) in a mosque in Gaza City that Palestinian national reconciliation could not be achieved amid the continued security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Ahmad Muhammad Bahr said that the current national conflict has stemmed from the security coordination established by the Oslo peace agreement signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) more than two decades ago.
He highlighted the recent case of Palestinian prisoner Samer Odeh, who was detained by PA police in the occupied West Bank and then handed over to Israeli authorities after he escaped from an Israeli hospital, as an example of what critics have called “a revolving door policy” of funneling Palestinians from PA jails into Israeli prisons through politically-motivated arrests.
Bahr said that any Palestinian reconciliation should be formed in accordance with the principles of Palestinian resistance and not in the framework of security agreements with Israel, adding that such coordination has caused “conflicts among Palestinians.”
Bahr called for an immediate stop to the security coordination and for the PA to support the Palestinian resistance, reiterating that the popular resistance is the only way to “liberate Palestinian lands.”
He also called upon all Palestinian factions to unify against Israel, “the only enemy of Palestine,” and to adopt and embrace resistance, saying that the “Israeli occupation only speaks the language of force.”
The PA has repeatedly threatened to put an end to the security coordination with Israel over the years.
However, a report released last year by Israeli newspaper Haaretz claimed that Palestinian security forces carried out 40 percent of detentions of “suspected terrorists” in the occupied West Bank in previous months.
In April, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stirred controversy in an interview when he credited the ongoing security coordination between the PA and Israel for curbing a wave of Palestinian attacks on Israeli targets.
The Fatah-dominated PA and Israeli forces have worked in coordination since the Oslo Accords in 1993, which planned for a gradual power transfer of the occupied West Bank from Israeli forces to the PA over the course of five years.
More than 20 years on, however, any transfer of power has yet to take place.The Hamas movement and other Palestinian groups have repeatedly accused the PA of aligning with Israel’s goals in the occupied West Bank, and recently of preventing a sustained uprising against Israel.
(Source / 04.02.2017)

Saudi using Israeli tech firm to ‘identify terrorists’

An Israeli technology firm said it was contacted by the Saudi royal family who asked it to help identify terrorist threats in the country, Bloomberg Business Week reported on Thursday.

Israeli Shmuel Bar, the founder of IntuView, a company whose software can scan four million Facebook and Twitter posts per day, said he was contacted by a Saudi official two years ago asking him to a Skype call. The official said the government wanted to use Bar’s software to “identify terrorists” on condition he setup a sister company which was not based in Israel.

“It’s not as if I went looking for this,” Bar explained. “They came to me.”

In the interview with Bloomberg, Bar said he now works freely with a number of Arab countries, all be it quietly.

“If it’s a country which is not hostile to Israel that we can help, we’ll do it,” Bar said. Only Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq are off-limits.

“The Arab boycott? It doesn’t exist.”

(Source / 04.02.2017)

Israeli forces assault elderly Palestinian woman in Old City of Hebron


Israeli soldiers escort Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank town of Hebron in April 2016

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces late Friday reportedly assaulted an elderly woman and her son and grandson in the Old City of the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, according to Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Wafa sourced Palestinian security sources as saying that Israeli soldiers had broken into the home of Fatima Natsheh, 70, in the Old City, and proceeded to assault her and her son Hasan, 35, and grandson Falah, 23. The soldiers reportedly used the butt of their guns to hit them, causing injuries that necessitated treatment at the hospital.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an she would look into reports on the incident.
Mistreatment of Palestinians in the Hebron area has been common since the city was divided in 1997 under the Oslo agreements.
The majority of the city was placed under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, while the Old City and surrounding areas were placed under Israeli military control, known as H2.
The area is home to 30,000 Palestinians and around 800 Israeli settlers who live under the protection of Israeli forces. Hebron residents frequently report attacks and harassment by the settlers, carried out in the presence of the forces.
(Source / 04.02.2017)

Who are the Nawari, Gaza’s alienated ‘Gypsies’?

A young girl from the Nawari community peers out from an alleyway, Gaza City, Gaza, Aug. 9, 2016

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — In the northern Gaza district of al-Saftawi, the Nawar neighborhood remains socially isolated from its surroundings. Many Gazans discriminate against the Nawari community based on old societal beliefs.

Mussa Natour, a researcher on Palestinian history and member of the Palestinian Curriculum Development Center at the Ministry of Education, stressed to Al-Monitor that there are no Gypsy communities in Palestine at present and that the Roma groups that once spread throughout the Levant area have left Palestine because of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He explained that although Gazans consider the Nawaris Gypsies, they are not. They are a separate community. He added, “Nawaris in Palestine are treated the same way as the Roma community is treated in other countries, since the Nawaris’ customs and traditions are similar to those of the Roma community.” These rituals run contrary to the traditions of Gazan society, which has been heavily influenced by Islamic rule, especially after Hamas’ takeover of Gaza in 2007.

Al-Monitor visited the Nawar neighborhood, which hosts the second largest population of Nawaris of Palestine. The Nawar neighborhood of Jerusalem is home to the largest Nawari population in the Palestinian territories.

Amal Anwar, 70, is one of the oldest women in the Nawar neighborhood. She told Al-Monitor, “Before the Palestinian Nakba, when I was only two years old, we lived in the east of Jabalia. Other Nawaris lived in other Palestinian areas and were fully integrated with Palestinian society, even if we had different roots. But as a result of harassment and oppression that our community faced within society over decades, especially in the 1970s, when our women would dance and sing, Nawaris all moved in the 1980s to a vacant area in al-Saftawi district.” The area is now known as the Nawar neighborhood.

Anwar expressed her concerns over the poverty and marginalization her community faces, the lack of access to public services and their status as Gypsies.”

She explained that they are known for dancing and singing in return for money. Anwar did not deny that many Nawari women in the Gaza Strip have indeed worked as dancers, an occupation considered shameful in conservative societies like Gaza’s.

“After the events of the first intifada in 1987, Nawari women quit [dancing] as a job. But society in Gaza still remembers them as such and they are still stigmatized as obscene dancers,” she added. “We are not ashamed of being Nawaris. We are committed to the habits and values ​​of Palestinian society, but when people hear our language that they do not understand. They believe we have Indian origins. This misconception has spread.”

There are no official statistics for the Nawari population in the Gaza Strip. Anwar reported that her community counts around 250 people, with 200 of them living in the Nawar neighborhood and 50 in other governorates of the Gaza Strip.

In addition to the Arabic language, Nawaris in Gaza speak Domari, which is unwritten. Nawari children grow up speaking it in their families and wider community. But use of the language is falling, and only the older generation is now truly proficient.

The Nawari community relies on begging as a source of livelihood. Many women beg, and passersby are shocked by their lack of shame.

Ahmed Awni has no problem sending his wife to roam the streets begging for money, provided she wears a veil to cover her features. He told Al-Monitor, “If we had jobs or unemployment benefits from the previous or current Palestinian governments, we would not have accepted begging. But we are deprived of job opportunities because we are a marginalized sector and Palestinian society refuses to see us in public posts.”

Awni noted that his community is also deprived of the financial aid provided by the Palestinian governments and civil organizations, such as the foreign aid provided during the Israeli war on Gaza. Awni said that when he approached a local institution in charge of disbursing financial aid from Qatar to families affected by the war, the institution’s director refused to send anyone to inspect the damage to his home.

“He told me, ‘Go beg. This is how you became rich,’” Awni said.

Nawaris are prohibited from marrying outside their community for several reasons, including seeking to preserve their lineage. They perceive women as income earners just like men, and they are sent to beg in the streets to provide for the family. Even when inclined, Nawaris find it hard to marry outside their community in light of their social alienation in Gaza.

Ahmed Jlou, 26, was in love with his university classmate, but the girl’s father rejected Jlou’s marriage proposal because he is a Nawari.

He told Al-Monitor, “There are good people and also bad ones in my community. Nawaris of my generation are all educated. We managed to develop good relationships with our neighbors who do not discriminate against us, and some of them I am friends with. Unfortunately, there is a part of Palestinian society that attributes to us issues that I have not experienced in my life.”

Zahia Qara, a psychologist at the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, told Al-Monitor that the way the Nawari community is treated in Gaza owes to the perception that their practices are shameful and sinful. Many Gazans perceive singing and dancing as sinful under their tribal and partisan authority structures, which marginalizes this community because of its origins, she said.

Qara added that Nawari women are forced to beg in the streets because they are marginalized and denied their rights. She noted that the negative image of Nawaris is creating resentment and frustration and causing negative and aggressive behavior. She said, “We fear that continuous injustices will be inflicted on the new Nawari generation, which will produce retaliation.”

Natour stressed to Al-Monitor that historians widely disagree on the pre-Islamic history of the Nawari community in Palestine. Some see this community as part of the Gypsy community, with the same traditions and origins, while others disagree. Based on historical references, he concludes that they are an extension of the historic dispute between Jassas and al-Zir Salem — two clans in medieval Saudi Arabia — that led to a 40-year cycle of vengeance from 494 to 534 CE. He explained that the Nawaris were al-Zir Salem allies and supported him in his war against Jassas. But Jassas ended up ruling the Nejd (today’s Saudi Arabia) and Yemen areas, and the Nawaris were forced to flee toward the Levant, where they took up dancing to earn a living. They started to be viewed with a negative lens hundreds of years ago, according to Natour.

(Source / 04.02.2017)

What the US stands to lose by alienating Morocco

US President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with King Mohammed VI of Morocco in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Nov. 22, 2013

With a new administration in the White House, Morocco’s need for foreign political and economic support could lead it to turn away from its long and friendly relationship with the United States and look more toward China and Russia to safeguard its interests.

Morocco is a traditional ally to the United States. The kingdom was brought up multiple times during the 2016 US presidential campaign — but not for praise. At times, Morocco became the center of Donald Trump’s efforts to discredit Hillary Clinton, as he described her relations with Morocco as a “pay-for-play” policy.

The uproar resurfaced when the Trump camp used footage of immigrants crossing from Morocco into Spain in a political ad about the wall Trump intends to build on the US-Mexico border. The business mogul and former reality TV star responded with a controversial comment, dismissing Moroccan concerns by saying, “It was just footage.”

Morocco is one of the leading promoters of the United Nations’ environmental agendas, and recently hosted the Conference of the Parties to fight climate change — which President Trump has repeatedly called a “hoax.”

Other indications of deteriorating relations between Morocco and the United States emerged in April 2016, when the State Department issued its annual human rights report, which found that “systematic and pervasive corruption undermined law enforcement and the effectiveness of [Morocco’s] judicial system,” adding that “impunity was pervasive.”

Moroccan officials criticized the report, calling it “truly scandalous,” as reported by Morocco’s official news agency, Maghreb Arabe Presse.

However, military, economic and security cooperation has been the barometer of Moroccan-US relations, and each subsequent US administration has recognized the necessity of continuing to develop such an alliance, even to this date.

Samia Errazzouki, a Moroccan-American writer and co-editor of the online magazine Jadaliyya, believes the US-Moroccan connection is too important to be dismantled by the Trump administration.

“I think US-Moroccan relations are bigger than the Trump administration,” she told Al-Monitor. “Morocco has cooperated with international intelligence agencies for the past few years when it comes to monitoring [the Islamic State], and I don’t believe the US is in a position to give that up.”

Since 2014, the United States has increased its counterterrorism military assistance to North Africa by 93%. The United States is the world’s top military arms exporter, and Morocco has been on the receiving end of numerous grants and contracts with various American companies.

In December 2016, the State Department agreed to sell Morocco $108 million worth of anti-tank missiles and related support.

“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a major non-NATO ally that continues to be an important force for the political stability and economic progress in North Africa,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a news release. “This proposed sale directly supports Morocco and serves the interests of the Moroccan people and the United States.”

The United States also agreed to grant $7 million worth of military aid to the Moroccan Royal Army in 2016.

Morocco has international allies, including the United States, because of its strategic geographic locations, as it borders Europe. But Trump’s attitude differs significantly from that of his predecessor. Trump has explicitly expressed his determination to make foreign countries pay their “fair share” for security costs. Morocco could be included in the club that might suffer from these cuts.

During the past week, the new American administration has already shown an interest in disengaging from global trade treaties and withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

Morocco, however, seems to have found new heavyweight partners such as China, which has been competing with the United States to be Morocco’s third-largest external supplier. In May 2016, Morocco’s king visited Beijing to meet with President Xi Jinping and sign a strategic partnership to develop bilateral ties.

“Morocco has already begun courting China, with talks of a Chinese-built industrial city in Morocco and greater trade connections between the countries. Morocco’s foreign policy is being guided by the vision that all options must remain open, and if that means courting China, it will do so,” Errazzouki said.

Spain remains Morocco’s largest trade partner, followed by France. Both European countries have supported Morocco’s controversial claim on the Western Sahara in the UN Security Council for more than 40 years.

Morocco has also sought closer relations with Russia. Moroccan King Mohammed VI paid a state visit to Moscow in March 2016 to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In December 2016, the king went to Nigeria to discuss developing a gas pipeline that would cross through Morocco to Europe. This effort also seems to be drawing the interest of Russian officials.

“So far, it seems that Trump is in support of greater American isolationism, and that could mean giving way for greater Russian influence in Morocco. We somewhat already see that happening with King Mohammed VI’s visit to Russia last year and high-level Russian officials visiting Morocco as well,” Errazzouki told Al-Monitor.

On the other hand, the Western Sahara question has also shaped Moroccan foreign policy, as Morocco seeks to maintain its control over the disputed region. On Jan. 30, Morocco was readmitted to the African Union after a divorce related to the disputed area that lasted more than 32 years.

Now one of Morocco’s priorities is to secure powerful allies on the UN Security Council to back its claims over the territory. Trump’s approach has already revealed his nationally based interests, which have caused chaos all around the world. Other factors such as the continuous rise of alt-right movements in Europe — in France in particular — could also increase the possibility of a stronger Russian-Moroccan alliance.

“With the far right on the rise in France, Morocco has to ensure support from a country with vetoing powers on the UN Security Council,” Errazzouki said. “If that means giving up on the United States and France in favor of Russia and/or China, Morocco will do whatever is necessary to ensure the support of a powerful country to maintain the status quo when it comes to the Western Sahara.”

Amid this fierce competitiveness and shifting geopolitical dynamics, Morocco could also use its tourism strength to get Trump’s attention. Morocco is relatively secure amid the instability in the region, especially compared with Tunisia, its main touristic rival. In 2014, Morocco welcomed more than 10 million tourists.

“Morocco is a major tourist hub in North Africa,” Errazzouki said. “With resorts and golf courses on the rise in Morocco, it could be an attractive site for Trump investments — but such a decision would be under heavy scrutiny both in the US and Morocco.”

Morocco has always enjoyed a special relationship with the United States and was the first country to recognize US sovereignty and its independence from England. European and American interests often intersect in Morocco. But as the United States pulls back, China and Russia stand to gain significant economic and political influence in the region.

(Source / 04.02.2017)

Washington: Settlement construction is not impediment to peace


White House spokesman Josh Ernest said in a press conference held Saturday that Israel’s settlement construction is not “an impediment to peace.”

“I think the statement is very clear about that.  We don’t believe that the existence of current settlements is an impediment to peace, but I think the construction or expansion of existing settlements beyond the current borders is not going to be helpful moving forward.”

“The President, Donald Trump is committed to peace.  That’s his goal.  And I think when the President and (Israeli) Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu meet here on the 15th, that will obviously be the topic on that.  At the end of the day, the goal is peace.  And I think that’s what you have to keep in mind.  I think that is going to be a subject that they discuss when they meet on the 15th, and that’s as far as I want to go on that,” according to his statements.

(Source / 04.02.2017)

Israel continues construction on separation wall in Hebron


BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces have reportedly finished a 10-kilometer section of the Israeli separation wall in the south of the occupied West Bank district of Hebron, Hebrew-language media reported on Saturday.

Hebrew-language site Walla reported that the order to complete the wall in the area came as a punitive response to a deadly shooting attack in Tel Aviv carried out in June last year by Palestinians from the village of Yatta in Hebron.
According to Walla, the plan was set by the Israeli Defense Ministry and states that the separation wall would start from the Tarqumiya checkpoint in western Hebron to the Meter checkpoint in the south. The wall is 42-kilometers long and is erected on the side of bypass road 35, constructed for the use of settlers illegally residing in Palestinian territory to connect them with Israel.
The wall is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, according to Walla.
Israel began building the separation wall with concrete slabs, fences, and barbed-wire inside the occupied West Bank in 2002 at the height of the Second Intifada, claiming it was crucial for security.
The ICJ issued an advisory opinion in 2004 stating that the wall was illegal under international law and its construction must stop immediately, adding that reparations should be paid to Palestinians whose properties were damaged as a result of the construction.
Twelve years later, the construction of the wall has continued unabated as more than 62 percent of the construction has been completed, encroaching deep into the Palestinian territory, leaving Palestinian neighborhoods stranded on both sides of the barrier, and isolating communities from their agricultural lands.
When complete, the majority of the wall’s construction, 85 percent, will have been built inside the occupied Palestinian territory over the Green Line, consuming vast tracts of Palestinian land along its way and consuming land in Area C — the two-thirds of the the West Bank that are under full Israeli military and civil control — where illegal settlements have been built or are planned to be constructed in the future.
(Source / 04.02.2017)

Palestinian youth delegation visits Turkish parliament in Ankar


A Palestinian youth delegation and representatives from pro-Palestinian Turkish societies visited the headquarters of the parliament in Ankara and met with MP Ahmet Gundogdu.

In his welcoming speech, MP Gundogdu said that Turkey, people and politicians, would always stand by the Palestinian people, and seek to end the blockade on Gaza and alleviate the humanitarian suffering there.

For their part, members of the Palestinian delegation suggested mechanisms for supporting the Palestinian cause by the Turkish people and their leadership, and called for a strong Turkish position against any US attempt to move the embassy to Occupied Jerusalem.

They also urged the Turkish parliament to actively participate in Palestinian events held in Ankara.

The two sides also discussed during their meeting the humanitarian conditions of Palestinian refugees in Turkey, Syria and Iraq and the problems they face there.

(Source /04.02.2017)

Sarsour v. Trump: Palestinian-American Activist Sues the President to Overturn Muslim Ban


We turn now to Sarsour v. Trump—a sweeping lawsuit the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed Monday challenging Trump’s executive order temporarily banning all refugees from entering the United States and banning entry into the U.S. to all 218 million citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The lawsuit calls Trump’s ban a “Muslim Exclusion Order.” It argues the executive order is unconstitutional and violates the First Amendment’s religious freedom protections and the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. We speak to the lead plaintiff, Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour, who was also co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to Sarsour v. Trump, a sweeping lawsuit the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed Monday challenging President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning all refugees from entering the United States and banning entry into the U.S. to all 218 [million] citizens from seven Muslim majority nations: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The lawsuit calls Trump’s ban a “Muslim Exclusion Order.” It argues the executive order is unconstitutional and violates the First Amendment’s religious freedom protections and the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more, we’re joined by Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American activist, lead plaintiff in the case. She helped organize the Women’s March on Washington, as well.

Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Linda. We last saw you at the beginning of that march, the day after the inauguration, a march that trumped the Trump inauguration, the crowd three times, I think—

LINDA SARSOUR: Yeah, absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN: —was the size. But you’re suing Donald Trump now, along with a number of other plaintiffs. Explain what’s the basis of the suit.

LINDA SARSOUR: Well, the basis, first of all, is that we believe that the Muslim ban is unconstitutional. We also believe that there is some preference of one religion over another, which also violates the Constitution. And we actually believe we have standing now, as we saw the acting attorney general fired by Donald Trump, who said that she would not defend something that she felt was indefensible and unconstitutional.

As a lead plaintiff, as you know, there’s a lot of Jane and John Does on there, which are being protected for their legal types of status that they have, but we have anywhere from Yemeni, Somali, Sudanese students. We have medical students who are here, who are actually serving the American people. We have religious leaders who are here on R1 visas, who, if travel back to their country, would not be able to come back. I mean, these are—we have American citizens who have wives who are also trying to get visas to come into the United States. We’re separating families. I mean, the stories that we are defending in this lawsuit are a lot more important than my name, but being able to put a public face as an American Muslim on this lawsuit, because we will not allow Donald Trump to get away with this.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Of course, the Trump administration is claiming that it is not a Muslim ban, that it’s a ban on specific countries. And I’m wondering your response to that.

LINDA SARSOUR: Absolutely. I mean, we saw the Muslim registry program back in 2003 under the Bush administration, that actually started with about six countries, and then it went to about 29 countries of origin. So we have seen precedent of making this list a lot larger.

And what’s really interesting is we talk about we want to keep America safe. From who? From Syrian refugees? Since when can somebody tell me a time or a case where there has been a Syrian refugee in this country who has committed an act of terror? And that’s the problem here. There is absolutely no basis or no data that supports this particular list of countries. I don’t support any list of any countries. These refugees, in particular, are leaving war, conflict. They have seen torture and massacre, and they need a safety haven. And we have heard him say, “Well, maybe the Christian refugees,” so basically saying we’ll take the Christians and not the Muslims.

And again, all of the campaign rhetoric that we heard, Juan, during the campaign, people said, “Oh, don’t worry, he’s just playing to the base. He just wants votes.” Guess what. It’s all been policy prescriptive, and we’ve watched him one executive order after another. And we’re going to stop him now. This is only the first 10 days. We don’t know what’s to come.

AMY GOODMAN: So, former New York mayor and Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani appeared on Fox News and explained how Donald Trump planned to institute the executive order barring travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.

RUDY GIULIANI: I’ll tell you the whole history of it. So, when he first announced it, he said, “Muslim ban.” He called me up. He said, “Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.” I put a commission together with Judge Mukasey, with Congressman McCaul, Pete King, whole group of other very expert lawyers on this. And what we did was, we focused on, instead of religion, danger! The areas of the world that create danger for us, which is a factual basis, not a religious basis. Perfectly legal. Perfectly sensible. And that’s what the ban is based on. It’s not based on religion. It’s based on places where there are substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.

AMY GOODMAN: So that’s former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, close adviser to Donald Trump. Linda Sarsour?

LINDA SARSOUR: I mean, Rudy Giuliani is a known racist Islamophobe. And he basically—what he was trying to explain here, that it was a Muslim ban, but they were going to find another way to package it so it didn’t come off unconstitutional. And it is very clear to so many people, including the acting attorney general who has now been fired, that this is unconstitutional. We have had members of Congress, some of whom are not always good on the issue, saying this is unconstitutional. So to tell me that Donald Trump and Steve Bannon are going to know more than a woman who has served 27 years in our Department of Justice is absolutely outrageous. So, we are going to continue to challenge this executive order and many unconstitutional executive orders that are to come.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I’m wondering what you think of the media coverage so far of this issue, because, clearly, the media has been somewhat more confrontational to the Trump administration. But on this issue of the Muslim ban and of Trump’s executive order on immigration, what’s your sense of that coverage?

LINDA SARSOUR: I think, generally speaking, the media has been pretty good on this issue. Why? Because there is no other way to be about it. It’s very clearly unconstitutional. And also, the uprising at airports across the country, you cannot ignore the people rising up against this administration. Since the Women’s March on Washington, we have seen continued mass mobilization in cities across America, where people are just putting a call out and people are coming out in the thousands, whether it be here in New York City, in Atlanta, in Cleveland, Ohio, in San Francisco, in Los Angeles. So, the media can’t ignore that. And I think more of that is to come.

AMY GOODMAN: And Trump is hitting the media hard. And so, a lot of it is clearly self-defense. But on this issue of who he wants to keep out of this country, I want to turn to an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network, when Trump said persecuted Christians will be given priority when it comes to applying for refugee status in the United States.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They’ve been horribly treated. Do you know, if you were a Christian in Syria, it was impossible, very, very—at least very, very tough to get into the United States? If you were a Muslim, you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible. And the reason that was so unfair is that the—everybody was persecuted, in all fairness, but they were chopping off the heads of everybody, but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair. So, we are going to help them.

AMY GOODMAN: “So, we are going to help them,” referring to the Christians. Linda Sarsour?

LINDA SARSOUR: I mean, those claims are all baseless. Yes, of course, there are some Christians that are being persecuted in many countries across the world. But in—let’s take Syria, for example. They were a minority that were protected by the government for a very long time. And for him to say that Christians are seeing more than Syrian Muslims, for example, who are being displaced in the millions, as five—over 500,000 Syrians have been massacred, mostly by the Assad regime. So, to claim that one religion is more persecuted than another, I think, is, first of all, divisive, which we don’t need right now in this world, and I think it’s also untrue.

AMY GOODMAN: In fact, the Times says, the U.S. “accepts tens of thousands of Christian refugees. According to the Pew Research Center, almost as many as Christian refugees (37,521) were admitted as Muslim refugees [about 38,000] in the 2016 fiscal year.” Juan?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, I wanted to ask you about the—another topic related to the recent attack in Quebec, which initially the reports were that it was a Moroccan Muslim. It turns out to have been not only a white nationalist, but someone who is basically a supporter of Donald Trump and of Marine Le Pen, the right-wing leader in France. Your reaction to this attack and how that was initially covered?

LINDA SARSOUR: I mean, it’s not the first time. It’s like the Boston bombing, when we had two young Algerian boys with bookbags, and we called them the “bag men,” without absolutely no information on these young men. Same thing is happening right now in Quebec. And what really bothers me about this is that it creates more animosity, and people never see the correction. People see whatever the media first reports. And to know that a white nationalist, a supporter of Donald Trump, walked into a mosque and killed six innocent people, the fact that people don’t feel safe to pray in a country like Canada or now in the United States—we have now security across the mosques. I’m on listservs where people are talking about what types of precautions. I mean, this is not why Muslims or any person of any faith came to the United States. We should feel safe. And the fact that you could be on your knees in this country praying to your god and to be shot is absolutely horrific. I was horrified. And I just the pictures of the victims’ fathers, you know, and people who have contributed to the society who are now not here with us today.

(Source / 04.02.2017)

Haaretz: 9 Settlement projects to be soon approved


Haaretz Hebrew newspaper revealed that Israeli authorities seek to implement nine settlement projects in occupied Jerusalem.

Ten thousands of new housing units are scheduled to be built at the expense of Palestinian private lands, the paper added.

According to the paper, the new approved settlement projects will prevent linkage between Ramallah and occupied Jerusalem.

500 housing units will be added to Ramat Shlomo settlement in Beit Hanina town, east of occupied Jerusalem, 1,500 others will be built in Har Homa illegal settlement southeast of the occupied city.

3,700 housing units and 2,100 hotel rooms are scheduled to be built in Area E. The project would divide the West Bank into two separate north and south areas.

230 settlement units are to be added to Kadamat Suhyoon settlement, west of Abu Dis in occupied Jerusalem, while 3,700 housing units will be built in Beit Safafa.

2,001 new housing units will be also approved in Gilo settlement southeast of occupied Jerusalem.

Few weeks after the swearing-in of Donald Trump, Israeli authorities have stepped up policies of land confiscation and settlement expansion.

(Source / 04.02.2017)