First off, t hanks to Paula for calling my attention to Luisa Morgantani’s detention today. Very little about it in the press—local and foreign. The one piece that I found in the press is nothing in detail compared to the article written by Rami Bornat (below). Item 2 is about the Combatants for Peace engaging in theater, item 3 is about racism, but done it Gideon Levy style, and last but not least is item 4 about a musical duo that won’t be appearing in Israel.
Former EU Parliament official detained in Bilin; 3 protestors arrested
Former European Parliament Vice President Luisa Morgantini was detained by the Israel Defense Forces during an anti-fence in Bilin protest on Friday together with two other activists. Morgantini was released shortly after she revealed her identity.
In a separate protest in the Nabi Saleh village near Ramallah an Israeli left-wing activist was arrested. Other demonstrations are being held in Naalin and Wadi Rachel in the Ramallah area, and in the al-Masra village near Bethlehem.
1b. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Israeli soldiers detain former European Parliament Vice President at Bil’in protest
Bil’in, West Bank
23 July 2010
Israeli soldiers detained the former Vice President of the European Parliament, Luisa Morgantini, in Bil’in this afternoon, injured on Israeli activist and arrested another.
Sixty nine-year-old Morgantini, an Italian Member of the Euopean Parliament (MEP) has long been an outspoken supporter of Palestinians. She has participated several times in demonstrations in Bil’in and in June 2008 was injured when Israeli soldiers attacked a group of non-violent activists.
Morgantini, who served as Vice President of the European Parliament between 2007 and 2009, today joined over 100 people from the West Bank village in their weekly Friday protest, which began after midday prayers. She was among a group of about 100 internationals supporting the peaceful demonstrators.
Israeli soldiers starting firing tear gas about ten minutes after the demonstration reached the fence that has been built illegally and cuts off villagers from their land. They then chased the protestors and forcefully detained the politician who was held for approximately 30 minutes before being released when her identity became clear to soldiers.
After her release Morgantini said: “I saw Palestinians protesting nonviolently attacked by the army for trying to defend their lands. I strongly encourage the EU to take strong action for the protection of Palestinians and the implementation of their rights.”
One Israeli activist, Kobi Snitz, was arrested while trying to speak to the army in order to secure Morgantini’s release.
Nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize, Morgantini is a leading member of the Italian peace movement and a champion of the Palestinian cause.
Many people suffered from tear gas inhalation and stun grenades thrown into the field, caused a fire among the olive trees.
Today’s protest in Bil’in proves once again that the army is continuing its policy of harshly suppressing demonstrations and arresting non-violent protesters. The demonstration called for the release of prisoners, Adeeb Abu Rahma, Abdullah Abu Rahme, Ibrahim al-Bornat, and Ahmed al-Bornat – all Bil’in residents jailed by Israel for resisting the occupation.
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PHOTO CREDIT: Rani Bornat
2.The Guardian Friday, July 23, 2010
Fighters turn to theatre to advocate Middle East peaceCombatants for Peace, a group drawn from Israel and Palestine’s forces, are transforming their own experiences into drama. But will this help find a resolution to political conflict?
In a list of unlikely places to look for peace in the Middle East, the Israeli Defence Force has to come top. But the field of amateur dramatics definitely comes a close second. Enter Combatants for Peace, a group of Israelis and Palestinians who have been trained to fight either in the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) or as Palestine’s Fatah paramilitaries, but have now put down their guns and together taken to the stage. The group, formed in 2005, perform sketches based on their own experiences of war to promote a “non-violent” resolution to the conflict. Where these theatrical workshops take place is critical to the protest. Most recently, they improvised a scene about Israeli check-points to an audience of Palestinians, Israelis and international activists on a hill-top in the West Bank over-looking an Israeli settlement. They didn’t get far before IDF officers stopped the show.
Pitching a group of trained killers-turned-thespians as messengers of peace seems a hard sell: disputes over the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory resolved in one almighty improvisation workshop …? Really? Even allowing for the most obliging of circumstances, it’s difficult to see how theatre can pack so much as a glancing punch at figures of real power in Israel, Palestine or anywhere. No matter how powerfully a piece of anti-war drama is scripted or performed, or how important the audience, it takes a leap of faith to see how theatre can genuinely affect the direction of a conflict, particularly when it is pitted against the immovable brawn of the Israeli war machine or a Palestinian committed to martyrdom.
But then there’s none so zealous as a convert. Chen Alon, the group’s founder, was a major in the IDF. Nour Shehadah, the group’s Palestinian head, was a leading Fatah paramilitary. Shot in an assassination attempt by IDF soldiers in the early 90s, he spent five years in an Israeli jail and still lives with his family in Tulkarem, one of the largest refugee camps in the West Bank. Both are now passionately committed to working together towards a “non-violent” resolution to the conflict, citing Martin Luther King and Gandhi as inspirational figures.
Group members have fought on opposing sides in the same gun battles; one former IDF officer even interrogated another Palestinian member. All the Israelis in the group served either as conflict soldiers or were stationed at volatile checkpoints, while most of the Palestinian members have spent time in Israeli prisons. Many have lost contact with their families, who now regard them as traitors. And yet the group is growing in number. The theatrical element is led by Alon, who has worked in the theatre since leaving the army (his military career ended with a six-month stint in Israeli jail for refusing to serve in Gaza in 2002). The group employ a method pioneered by Brazilian director Augusto Boal – “the theatre of the oppressed”. With an emphasis on audience participation, their performances aim to find resolutions to political dilemmas by acting them out as scenarios.
There is widespread frustration among Israeli and Palestinian peace activists straining to make their voices heard. Home-grown dissenters are being dragged out for public humiliation and punishment by an increasingly right-wing Israeli government that has introduced laws branding activists as traitors who can be punished with prison sentences. Artists from the Pixies to the Klaxons have cancelled their Tel Aviv performances in protest at the deaths on board the ships attempting to break the blockade of Gaza, while in Israel itself beleaguered liberals are increasingly choosing not to speak out either from fear of the repercussions or straightforward hopelessness.
But there is no chance of Combatants for Peace giving up. Speaking from the very pit of the conflict is a group with an absolute belief in the transformative power of empathy and the possibility of resolving conflict without violence. Shehadah says that, despite criticism from within his own community, he would prefer to leave Palestine than stop his work. It’s hard not cheer a sentiment like this. Accepting the impotence of humanity (in this case, theatre) in the face of government-led conflict would be writing the region off as a lost cause, something too depressing to contemplate. Alon agrees: “We don’t have a Gandhi in the Middle East,” he says. “There’s no Israeli Martin Luther King. So while we wait for one to arrive, we have to do the best we can with what we have.”
Posted by Phoebe Greenwood Thursday 22 July 2010 17.46 BST
3. Haaretz Friday, July 23, 2010
Latest update 02:04 22.07.10
He impersonated a human
Sabbar Kashur wanted to be a person, a person like everybody else. But as luck would have it, he was born Palestinian.
Sabbar Kashur wanted to be a person, a person like everybody else. But as luck would have it, he was born Palestinian. It happens. His chances of being accepted as a human being in Israel are nil. Married and a father of two, he wanted to work in Jerusalem, his city, and maybe also have an affair or a quickie on the side. That happens too.
He knew that he had no chance with the Jews, so he adopted another name for himself, Dudu. He didn’t have curly hair, but he went by Dudu just the same. That’s how everyone knew him. That’s how you know a few other Arabs too: the car-wash guy you call Rafi, the stairwell cleaner who goes by Yossi, the supermarket deliveryman you know as Moshe.
What’s wrong? Is it only fearsome Shin Bet interrogators like “Capt. George” and “Abu Faraj” who are allowed to adopt names from other peoples? Are only Israelis who emigrate allowed to invent new identities? Only the Yossi from Hadera who became Joe in Miami, the Avraham from Bat Yam who became Abe in Los Angeles?
No longer a youth, Sabbar/Dudu worked as a deliveryman for a lawyer’s office, rode his scooter around Jerusalem and delivered documents, affidavits and sworn testimonies, swearing to everyone that he was Dudu. Two years ago he met a woman by chance. Nice to meet you, my name is Dudu. He claims that she came on to him, but let’s leave the details aside. Soon enough they went where they went and what happened happened, all by consent of the parties concerned. One fine day, a month and a half after an afternoon quickie, he was summoned to the police on suspicion of rape.
His temporary lover discovered that her Dudu wasn’t a Dudu after all, that the Jew is (gasp! ) an Arab, and so she filed a complaint against the impostor. Her body was violated by an Arab. From then on Kashur was placed under house arrest for two years, an electronic cuff on his ankle. This week his sentence was pronounced: 18 months in jail.
Judge Zvi Segal waxed dramatic to the point of absurdity: “It is incumbent on the court to protect the public interest from sophisticated, smooth, sweet-talking offenders who can mislead naive victims into paying an unbearable price: the sanctity of their bodies and souls.” Sophisticated offenders? It is doubtful that Dudu even knew he was one. Sweet talk? He says that even his wife calls him Dudu.
The court relied, as usual, on precedents: the man who posed as a senior Housing Ministry official and promised his lover an apartment and an increased National Insurance pension, and the man who posed as a wealthy neurosurgeon who promised free medical care and other perks. Dudu had nothing to offer but his good name, Dudu, and still his fate was sealed, just like those who promise apartments and perks. Not only fraud, but rape, almost like the convicted serial rapist Benny Sela.
Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein had, after all, defined the test of conviction for rape on “false pretenses”: “if in the view of an ordinary person this woman would have agreed to have sexual relations with a man who did not have the identity he invented.”
In tune with the public, Kashur’s judges assumed, rightly, that the woman would not have gotten into bed with Dudu were it not for the identity he invented. She also might not have gotten into bed with him if he had told her in vain that he was available, that he was younger than he really is or even that he is madly in love with her. But people are not prosecuted for that, certainly not on rape charges.
Now the respected judges have to be asked: If the man was really Dudu posing as Sabbar, a Jew pretending to be an Arab so he could sleep with an Arab woman, would he then be convicted of rape? And do the eminent judges understand the social and racist meaning of their florid verdict? Don’t they realize that their verdict has the uncomfortable smell of racial purity, of “don’t touch our daughters”? That it expresses the yearning of the extensive segments of society that would like to ban sexual relations between Arabs and Jews?
It was no coincidence that this verdict attracted the attention of foreign correspondents in Israel, temporary visitors who see every blemish. Yes, in German or Afrikaans this disgraceful verdict would have sounded much worse.
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4, U.K. musicians Leftfield cancel Israel show due to ‘production problems’
The group’s official Facebook page displays a copy of a letter sent to them by Boycott Israel urging them to cancel show in light of Gaza flotilla raid.
British electronica duo Leftfield announced Friday that they would be cancelling their scheduled performance in Israel on August 31st due what they referred to as production problems.
“Unfortunately Leftfield will not be able to perform at the Heineken Music Conference on the 31st August due to unforeseen production problems,” the duo wrote on the Facebook fan page dedicated to their current tour.
Meanwhile, on the duo’s official Facebook page they published a letter sent to them by the organization Boycott Israel callingfor them to “postpone your planned concert in Israel this summer, indefinitely.”
The letter, scanned and posted on their page, stated that in light of Israel’s deadly raid on the Gaza flotilla in May, they urged the musicians to take a stand and protest Israel’s actions by cancelling the show.
“Performing in Israel today means crossing an international picket line,” the letter said, adding that, “your visit here will be construed as a vote of confidence in Israel’s oppressive policies.”
In their cancelation statement the group made no reference to the letter, despite the fact that they had made it public by posting it on their Facebook page.
Leftfiled joined a growing list of artists and musicians who have recently cancelled their shows in Israel due to political reasons, among others were Elvis Costello, The Pixies, Jill Scott Heron, Santana, The Klaxons and the Gorillaz Sound System.