Jan 31, 2013

UNHRC condemns Israel

Significant international and local developments are happening.  Israel attacked Syria in violations of the UN charter and this will seems intended to provoke a war.  Israel also did not show up at a mandatory review of its human rights record in front of the UN Human Rights Council. All 193 U.N.-member nations are required to submit to such a review every four years, and council diplomats said they worried that if nation were let off the hook that could undermine the process. Israel was the first country to do so in the history of the council setting a precedent that is very dangerous.   The UN H.R. council had appointed an independent commission which just finished a study that took months.  The report of of 154 pages is titled “Report of the independent international fact-finding mission   to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on  the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of  the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied  Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.” It concluded that Israeli colonial settlements in the areas occupied in 1967 could be brought to task as war crimes under International law. 

The commission led by a French judge also stated that all settlements (including in East Jerusalem  are illegal and that Israeli leaders could be brought to task for violating international law.  All that is needed is a technicality: for Palestinians to join the Rome statute and bring the case before the International Criminal Court.  It remains to be seen if the Palestinian leadership would get serious or will continue lying to us (after all, they told us that the reason for the upgrade at the UN from an observer organization to a non-member state is to join UN agencies and hold Israel accountable).  But this is not the first time we are lied to.  The last few years we were told about the reconciliation agreement with Hamas will be implemented (soon or on particular dates) and all dates passed without implementation.  The last was when Fatah leaders told us that the interim government will be appointed before the end of this month (January).  Well, this is also passed.  We remain trapped in the shit hole that is the Oslo accords that have long expired (1998) and that Israel violated anyway in its supposed 5 year interim period (1993-1998).  Meanwhile this remains the most profitable occupation in history with 10-20 billion in revenue that Israel gets from occupying the West Bank and Gaza (and that is not counting the settlements!).  The ball is in the court of the PLO even as that network needs to recreate itself to represent the Palestinian people rather than the elite . Below are other things worth pondering including exposition of Israeli lies and myths.

Note: Tomorrow/Friday are weekly demonstrations in various locations.  My recommendation is the 3 PM demonstration in Sheikh Rarrah in East Jerusalem to protest the ongoing colonial settlement activity ( stolen lands and houses from natives to serve Europeans just because they are Jewish).

The report of the UN commission is here

Israeli TV admits: No rockets were ever fired from UNRWA schools in Gaza during “Cast Lead”

The Gift of the Other: Why I Do Not Want to Leave Palestine/Israel by LYNDA BURSTEIN BRAYER

Israel admits Ethiopian women were given birth control shots

Jan 25, 2013

buried two young

 In Bethlehem there were two young people buried Wednesday, both executed by occupation forces in the prime of life and both not discussed in mainstream western media.   We buried a 15 year old child, Saleh Ahmed Alamarin.  The funeral march moved from Al-Azza refugee camp to Aida Refugee camp cemetery.  These are two of the three refugee camps in Bethlehem.  Saleh, like millions of Palestinians, was a refugee whose family was ethnically cleansed to create the “Jewish state” on top of Palestine.  We Palestinians refer to parents by the name of their first born child.   Abu Saleh (father of Saleh) is perhaps in his mid 30s seemed to have endless tears during the many hours of burial and receiving condolences and hugs.  I did not meet Im Saleh but I cannot even begin to comprehend the pain of these two parents who lost their only son.  There was talk over email of a cover-up and delay of reporting the death for political reasons.  But for the nearly 2000 mourners there was only sadness and anger.  Some young people mobilized and started throwing stones at the tall apartheid wall and watchtower that separates Bethlehem from its agricultural lands to the north (and thus also separates us from our city Jerusalem).  Some of these young people will be arrested by the Palestinian authority (a dozen were apparently arrested in Aida refugee camp the day of the funeral).

We also buried in Bethlehem Lubna Mounir Hanash (21 year old) who was murdered by an occupation officer who shot at a group of Palestinian civilians on the road near the refugee camp of Al-Aroub.  She was a senior studying political science at Al-Quds University.  Two other civilians were injured in the hail of Zionist bullets.  Lubna’s blood stained the asphalt at the road curb next to early spring grass.  It reminded me of the famous painting by artist Suliman Mansour of the 15 year old martyr Lina AlNabulsi.  The simmering anger will only grow as Israeli society seems oblivious to the suffering of millions of Palestinians and instead focusing on the political maneuvering of cunning rich Israeli politicians with fake smiles and lots of lies.  

Bride of Nation by Mansour

I have returned from the US to Palestine nearly five years ago.  In this period, I witnessed many Israeli atrocities.  Atrocities cover just about every item of the Universal Declaration of Human rights: Forcible displacement, home demolitions, extra judicial executions, theft of land, theft of natural resources, religious persecution, destruction of infrastructure, use of illegal weapons like White Phosphorous on civilian population, unlawful imprisonment based on political beliefs, economic deprivation and many more.  I also witnessed atrocities from Palestinians towards other Palestinians ranging from corruption, greed, collaboration with the occupiers, suppression of free expression, unlawful imprisonment, theft of public funds, and many more.  But I also witnessed amazing generocity, kindness, heroism, self-sacrifice, intellectual thinking, acts of principled resistance, love, kindness and more.  I am blessed to have hundreds of friends who exemplify what our late friend Vittorio Arrigoni used to describe as “staying human.”  We did lose many of those great individuals (added to the tens of thousands of Palestinian martyrs).  But for each lost hero, ten arise.  Hence our optimism.  And today a group of us demonstrated in front of two Israeli colonies in the Gush Etzion complex of settlements.
Palestinians at colony of Eliezer

The struggle goes on.

In Pictures (funeral etc.)

Video from hospital treating injured and where Lubna was pronounced dead

We host occasionally some young Jews who come after the so called “Taglit - birthright” Zionist program and who chose to extend their stay to come and see what life is like in the cantons/concentration camps of the West Bank.  The Zionist program boasts that it brought 340,000 young Jews (most from the USA, the other Zionist occupied territory) aiming at “strengthening Jewish identity, Jewish communities, and solidarity with Israel.”  The few who chose to come see us get the real picture not that doctored Zionist hasbara.  Most though do not hear about us or the possibility of coming here.  Here is an example of a blog from one such young Jewish lady who chose to do the right thing and see beyond the scripted hasbara/propaganda program: http://larksongs.wordpress.com/

Five ways of looking at the Israeli Knesset by Neve Gordon

How Muslims and Christians are getting together, an example from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania!
and here is another interfaith group promoting justice/peace

Occupation Diary (compiled by Richard)
Israeli soldiers demolish Bab Al-Karamah village, Jan. 21, 2013: http://on.fb.me/YiLWmT
Israeli soldiers demolish home, water well,Yatta, Jan. 21, 2013: http://on.fb.me/Tar2oj
Protest in support of prisoners, Hebron, Jan. 21, 2013: http://on.fb.me/11LNB5e
Protest in support of prisoners, Ramallah, Jan. 21, 2013: http://on.fb.me/UeKhuZ
Protest in support of prisoners, Gaza City, Jan. 21, 2013: http://on.fb.me/WRhwBu

Protest in support of prisoners, Ramallah, Jan. 22, 2013: http://on.fb.me/10EyA4N
Protest in support of prisoners, Nablus, Jan. 22, 2013: http://on.fb.me/WGDl8k
Malaysian premier arrives in Gaza Strip, Jan. 22, 2013: http://on.fb.me/Xx3ju6
Life in the Gaza Strip, Jan. 22, 2013: http://on.fb.me/145ya7E

Palestinian female student, 21-year-old killed by Israeli fire near Bethlehem, Jan. 23, 2013: http://on.fb.me/WtaGni
Mourners bury Palestinian boy killed by Israeli forces in Bethlehem, Jan. 23, 2013: http://on.fb.me/WMsVEc
Clashes with Israeli soldiers, Budrus, Jan. 23, 2013: http://on.fb.me/SCukiK
Officials visit demolished Bab al-Karamah village, Jan. 23, 2013: http://on.fb.me/VjK4JD
Life in the Gaza Strip, Jan. 23, 2013: http://on.fb.me/145yrYf
Za‘im village in E1 area under threat of displacement, Jan. 23, 2013: http://on.fb.me/WLVEck
Israel to demolish two houses in Jordan Valley, Jan. 23, 2013: http://on.fb.me/Vs0k7Q
Israel releases Palestinian after 20 years, Jan. 23, 2013: http://on.fb.me/V7v9Np
Aftermath of demolitions by Israeli Forces, Al Maleh, Northern Jordan Valley, Jan. 23, 2013: http://on.fb.me/W0Ce6f

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Jan 20, 2013

Bab Al Karama

Occupation soldiers “visit” Gate of Dignity early morning, then close checkpoint, confrontations now going on

It was too cold to sleep for most of us last night at the Gate of Dignity encampment and the army “visited” us early in the morning.  Yesterday we had to overcome the Israeli checkpoint at the entrance of Beit Iksa but today the occupation forces closed the checkpoint and are attacking peaceful demonstrators with tear gas and stun grenades then invaded the camp village and gave notice of intention to evacuate the location.  We were thrilled to see good friends from different Palestinian factions and to meet new friends from Beit Iksa who showed us that the site with the tents on village land overlooks the valley with the Green line border of 1948 (that has vanished in 1967).  Just beyond it was the village of Lifta depopulated in 1948 and just a little further is depopulated village of Deir Yassin.  Meanwhile all around and on both sides of the Green line Jewish only housing proliferates in colonial settlements built on Palestinian lands.   Thoughts that passed through my mind included my mother telling me about her friend in school in Jerusalem who was from Deir Yassin.  Hayah Balbisi was nearly just over 17 years old when she decided to go to Deir Yassin to help her relatives that she heard were being attacked.  She was killed with hundreds of others (men, women, children) and this was one of the famous (though not the largest) of the 33+ massacres committed by Jewish underground forces to drive the exodus of the natives and make space for the “Jewish state.” My thoughts also ran to similar images I have seen of natives in North America in remaining reservations.  But then I also had too little time for further reflections since we were very busy in meeting, singing, reminiscing, greetings visitors, eating, and of course trying to warm up around the bonfire. Palestinian officials came and went.  Between 2-3 AM there was news of impending Israeli raid but this did not materialize.  At 7 AM, the military visited us.  The villagers want people to come and stay with them as they try to defend land that belongs to them.  Before 1948, the villagers had over 14,000 dunums and now have access and use about 2000 and if Israeli additional apartheid plans go forward, they will have only 600.

Sunday evening, people coming through the only entrance to Beit Iksa were blocked by the Israeli checkpoint and a peaceful demonstration at the checkpoint was attacked by tear gas and stun grenades. Your support is needed especially if you are a media person and can gain entrance tonight to Beit Iksa to report on what is going on (if not, please go the checkpoint or find an alternative route into Beit Iksa).

Facebook pages: https://www.facebook.com/QrytBabAlkramt

Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTzgJhqqzbU

Pictures from our friend Calum in Bab Al Karamah

and below is a set of photographs by Calum of the attack by Palestinian Authority “security” officers on Palestinians in Hebron http://www.calumtoogood.co.uk/archives/3797
and see this video of PA security forces clashing with demonstrators

Additional source:
Israeli Military Orders to extend the confiscation of 1280 dunums for Completing the construction of the Segregation Wall Northwest of Jerusalem

New Peace Now Report on eve of Israeli elections: Netanyahu's Settlement Policy Wrecks Two-State Solution

Since Netanyahu’s partner is Avigdor Lieberman and most other parties are right-wing racist Zionist, I suggest Jewish Israelis vote for parties like Haneen Zoubi’s party. Israeli Palestinians represent only 23-25% of the Israeli public (a manufactured minority since most Palestinians in that state where ethnically cleansed.  This “minority” does have parties running but nearly half are staying home frustrated by the dominance of racist Zionist parties and Israeli Knesset laws that forbid parties calling for a pluralistic secular democracy ineligible to run in the Knesset (candidates have to accept that Israel is a “Jewish and democratic state”; which is a contradiction of terms).

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PHD

Chair, the Palestinain Center for Rapprochement Between People

Jan 17, 2013

Choice between extremists

Just got back to Palestine after  a trip to Berlin for a workshop exchanging experiences on issues of popular resistance in different countries (Egypt, Nepal, Palestine etc.) and evolution of forms of resistance.  I regretted being outside the country when the action happened called Gate of the Sun (the village was attacked again the day before I came back and emptied).  We did discuss this action in our workshop and offered ideas on better messaging, better media work, and better strategies.  We agreed that we must follow it up with additional actions including ending the so called security cooperation with Israel (where Palestinians act as subcontractors for the occupation), growing the BDS movement (http://bdsmovement.net), and leading to total civil disobedience and removal of the barriers to freedom (physical and metaphysical).  Freedom is not given by occupiers, it is taken with hard work and sacrifices.

Request: If any individual has good fundraising experience and can help some worthy Palestinian nongovernmental organizations raise funds, please contact me.  One of the NGOs is also willing to host the volunteer here (lodging and some of the expenses but not airline tickets). BTW, the recent floods in the north of the West Bank left many people devastated.

You can read in the following about various important developments and actions relating to human rights. I draw your attention especially to two Israeli documentaries gaining notoriety despite the frustration of the Israeli government, a book of post-Zionist Jewish recollections, Israeli election choice of extremists, two action calls and more.

A new letter from Palestine Freedom Riders (I am proud to be one of those 6) to help with the boycott campaign

Two Israeli documentaries up for Oscars this year but the apartheid state apparatus is NOT happy http://www.salon.com/2013/01/16/israel_confronts_its_image_problem/

Brilliant book: ‘Beyond Tribal Loyalties’ — new volume spotlights awakenings of 25 Jewish activists

Israel’s Palestinians are not a minority: Like Canada’s First Peoples, the Palestinians’ nationhood cannot be measured in numbers. By Amira Haas http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/israel-s-palestinians-are-not-a-minority.premium-1.494166

Israeli elections: A choice between extremists


-Time For Justice – A call from Palestine to EU citizens: Ask your governments and EMPs to suspend EU-Israel Association Agreement and stand up for human rights in 2013! http://palsolidarity.org/timeforjustice/

-From Palestinian Committee, Stuttgart to German Nationals: Act to end ethnic cleansing and destruction in the Negev by the racist “Jewish National Fund”
http://palaestinakomitee-stuttgart.de/ (available material in three languages)

Jan 2, 2013


Photo" Children in Bethlehem wish you a happy new year 2013

Obama was reelected president of the USA, a country still under Israeli occupation. So he fails to make Israel accountable for violating International Law and even American law. US law prohibits funding a country that persistently violates human rights. Israel goes on doing just that on a daily basis. But despite Zionist efforts, most countries recognized Palestine and Israel lost its attack on Gaza and lost more of its credibility.  Bethlehem is celebrating its first Christmas as a world heritage site (per UNESCO) also despite efforts by the increasing isolated US and Israel to stand against the tide of history and people power.

The Apartheid State of Israel (ASI) continued ethnic cleansing that it engaged in from its founding days when it ethnically cleansed 530 Palestinian villages in towns). In 2012 ASI removed more natives from the Jordan valley and from the Negev and from the hills of the West Bank. ASI continued to squeeze us natives into smaller and smaller ghettos/Bantustans/concentration camps. ASI even started beginning November 1 to restrict the internationals who manage to come here to“Judea and Samaria” which prevents them from even entering Jerusalem.  But I as a Palestinian native like 99+% of Palestinians do not have “Israeli permission” to enter my own city of Jerusalem. However, I entered Jerusalem from Bethlehem in the New Year by bypassing the occupation soldiers showing again that these restrictions are not about security but about harassment. Thousands of Palestinians still do this as an act of civil disobedience to the illegal occupation policies.

I enter to see a city being disfigured and 5,000 years of its history slowly destroyed or disfigured. Israeli colonial settlers continue moving into Palestinian homes and lands with Israeli government support (and US government subsidy). Palestinian natives are meanwhile prevented from normal housing, normal education, and normal living. I enter and I have pain in my heart to witness injustice, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. But I also have pain to see many of our own people corrupted by money. Hundreds of thousands of dollars for example where just spent on “celebrations” of the birth of political factions that have long been overtaken by corrupt leaders who abandoned the original programs of these factions in favor of normalization with the occupation. Expensive shiny cars are all over major Palestinian remaining cities driving officials from their posh offices to their posh villas and mansions. Israeli and Palestinian businessmen/politicians, separately or collaboratively work to ensure they get more millions in their bank accounts while millions of children sleep hungry and cold.

Palestine will have an implanted population hold elections for an even more right wing apartheid government on January 23. In an interview, I tell a reporter that the choice in these “Israeli elections” is between right-wing and extreme right wing and ultra right wing government. Ben Gurion who presided over the destruction of 530 Palestinian villages and towns and the ethnic cleansing of most of Palestine would if resurrected today be considered far too moderate to even get one seat in the Israeli Knesset . Palestine continues to be transformed from a multiethnic, multireligious, multicultural society that was at balance with its environment to an apartheid Jewish state with overpopulated ghettos. The larger ghetto called Israel and the smaller ghettos of Gaza, Bethlehem, Ramallah etc. They are teaming with people who now suffer from pollution and increased rates of cancer but also from deep psychological scars that will not heel easily even if apartheid was ended this year. The combined Palestinian and Israeli environmental damage will soon outstrip any possibility of livability. This is not even considering increasing populations and global warming and pollution etc. Since the 1960s, this country (and it is one country Israel established on the ruins of Palestine) is actually not self sufficient. It is only maintained by massive infusion of money to benefit both the Zionist project and to sustain the humanitarian needs of an increasingly impoverished Palestinian natives. This economy of beggary cannot be sustained long term for many reasons. So a majority of Israelis and a lot of Palestinians consider leaving. All of this is also sustained by a web of lies using religious mythologies and other manufactured stories to justify the unjustifiable. The brainwashing is reaching incredible levels as most young Israelis believe ethnic cleansing was OK in the past to allow for a Jewish state in Palestine and they also believe it is OK now to remove Palestinians because we refuse to accept the colonization and transformation of our country. This negative trend towards more racism was predictable from the early days of Zionism and it explains why in each Israeli election cycle, the government becomes more right wing.

We can blame these ominous negative trends on Israeli and Palestinian “officials” including their known and hidden corruption but we must also take responsibility as people of this country (whether we happen to be natives of colonial immigrants, whether we are Jewish, Muslim, Christian, atheists etc). If human history has a lesson to teach us, it is that only when people stand-up to the lies of governments, shed demented ideologies, and declare rebellion they can (and must) change things for the better.  Even in the United States, a country built on the genocide and ruins of native populations, positive trends happened only when enough people said “enough is enough”: giving women a right to vote, social security, 40 hour work weeks, ending the war on Vietnam , the civil rights movement, reigning in those who pushed for nuclear confrontations, and ending US support of apartheid in South Africa among many. In all these cases, politicians were pushed by massive popular movements. Politicians did not lead but were actually dragged kicking and screaming to eventually do the right thing. Evil continues only when enough people let it continue. That is our main challenge.

We are encouraged by the growth of activism including campaigns of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions.  We are encouraged by the growing chorus rejecting the illusion of a two-state solution in favor of one democratic state in historic Palestine.  We are encouraged by the persistence and resilience of the Palestinian people.  May the new year bring more people out of the darkness of a life of apathy and into the bright, beautiful and meaningful life of caring (empathy), self-empowerment, and action for justice (a prerequisite for peace). For those already active, may you continue to be blessed and may you never lose those qualities that make you a great and caring human being.

Action: A call from Palestine to the EU; Ask your governments and EMPs to suspend EU-Israel Association Agreement and stand up for human rights in 2013! http://palsolidarity.org/timeforjustice/

Action: Sign a letter to President Obama to say: no blank check for Israel http://obamaletter.org/

Confrontations in Nablus between Palestinian "security services" and Palestinians unhappy about the Palestinian authority (whose term in office has long expired) taking decisions without consulting the people

Palestinian Public Relations: Coordination and Unity: What Palestinians could learn from Zionist hasbara

My letter as published in Cape Cod Times, December 26, 2012: 
In his Dec. 13 letter, Joseph Garodnick attacked the letter of Noreen Thompsen. But instead of dealing with the substance of her letter about human rights abuses by Israel in its colonization of Palestine, he chose to attack the messenger — one of her sources. That source happens to be me.
Garodnick claims I did not achieve tenure at either Duke or Yale; actually, I was never on a tenure-track position and did not seek tenure at either place. He then twice mentions my fields of genetics and biology as if somehow this diminishes my credibility or ability to write on human rights. I wrote two books on human rights and I did teach the subjects of history and human rights.
In this season of Christmas, I write from Bethlehem, a city now of 180,000 Palestinian Christians and Muslims who lost most of their lands and are squeezed into a ghetto, isolated behind a 30-foot wall, and suffering from over 30 percent unemployment. Talking about those things is a far better use of your pages than printing personal attacks on authors of documentary sources.
 Mazin Qumsiyeh
Bethlehem, West Bank
The writer is a professor at Bethlehem and Birzeit universities.

A Message from Beyond the Wall By Mazin Qumsiyeh