8 items below
Items 1 and 2 are about the Palestinian Land Day—item 1 precedes it, whereas item 2 reports on how it went. I preferred the Al Jazeera version, as more neutral, than the Ynet one (which speaks of Land Day riots rather than protests or demonstrations) and even also the Haaretz one, but in case they interest you, I include the links to both at the end of the report on events during the protest-demonstrations.
Item 3 reports that “The World Social Forum marks a renewed commitment to the Palestinian cause.” Bravo to the Forum.
Item 4 describes Good Friday in Jerusalem this year from the standpoint of a vendor of crosses and of some of the pilgrims taking part in the event.
Item 5 depicts “Ongoing Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank along with the Apartheid Wall and settler terrorism” as “mines” that endanger the entire region.
Item 6 is a 25 minute video in which Ramzy Baroud depicts Gaza, particularly Rafa, and Rachel Corrie’s “legacy” to it.
Item 7 is a book review. While the critique is not overly enthusiastic about the book, mainly because of its need for editing, the subject particularly interested me. It’s about 3 young women soldiers and the rites of passage
Item 8 is Today in Palestine for Friday, March 29, 2013.
That’s it for today, and perhaps also for tomorrow.
All the best,
1 Al Jazeera
Friday, March 29, 2013
Palestinians gear up for Land Day
On Saturday, thousands of Palestinians plan to protest on anniversary of Israeli land confiscation in Galilee region.
29 Mar 2013 13:04
More than 100 people were injured during Land Day protests last year at the Qalandia checkpoint [AFP]
Ramallah, West Bank – Palestinians in Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories, and abroad are gearing up to commemorate Land Day on Saturday.
Land Day is held on the anniversary of March 30, 1976, when Palestinian villages and cities across the country witnessed mass demonstrations against the state’s plans to expropriate 2,000 hectares of land in Israel’s Galilee region. In coordination with the military, some 4,000 police officers were dispatched to quell the unrest. At the end of the day, six Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed by state security forces.
On Saturday, buses will shuttle activists from around the country to two central rallies, one in southern Israel’s Negev region and the other in Sakhnin in the northern Galilee.
Raja Zaatry of the Hirak Center for Higher Education in Arab Society said local activities are scheduled to take place in Arab villages and towns across Israel, in coordination with similar protests in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Protests are also expected in the Gaza Strip.
Groups across the country have been engaged in Land Day preparations for weeks. “Last week in Arab schools, we staged lessons about Land Day and Palestinian history because they’re not part of the official curriculum from the Israeli Ministry of Education,” Zaatry said.
Israeli army clashes with Palestinians on Land Day
“In Haifa, for instance, there are cultural activities scheduled in the Wadi al-Nisnas neighborhood. There will be a movie screening about Land Day. Last week in schools, we held events for the children to learn about Land Day and the history because it is not part of the official curriculum from the Israeli ministry.”
On Land Day 2012, Al Jazeera reported that at least 121 people were injured at the Qalandia checkpoint near Jerusalem when Israeli forces used water cannons, tear gas, and rubber-coated bullets to push protesters back to nearby Ramallah, in the West Bank.
All eyes on Jerusalem
This year, civil society groups and political factions have coordinated to orchestrate a two-pronged march to Qalandia checkpoint, one beginning in Ramallah and the other in Jerusalem. Other protests will take place across the city, notably in frequently raided neighborhoods like Silwan and at the Red Cross offices. In Jerusalem alone, the number of Palestinian and international participants is expected to be in the hundreds, estimated Rima Awad of the Jerusalem Coalition.
In 2012, activists staged a “Global March” on Jerusalem, which grabbed the attention of the international community. Although there is no such march planned for this year, activists and organisers expect to draw attention about the increasingly difficult situation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
“Land Day 2012 was successful in generating international awareness about Palestinian land confiscation and Israel’s human rights violations,” Awad said. “[T]he march to Jerusalem was a global effort revolving around Land Day and drew global attention. We hope and expect that this pattern of growth will continue.”
Although Israel maintains that Jerusalem in its entirety will remain part of the Jewish state in any potential peace deal, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution last November that recognised East Jerusalem as the capital of a sovereign Palestinian state.
A uniting event
The annual commemorations of Land Day have become part of a Palestinian collective consciousness, touching those in Israel and the diaspora as well as in the occupied territories.
“Historically, Land Day was a very important turning point in the lives of Palestinians after the Nakba, especially those who remained in the Israeli state,” said Abir Kopty of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee.
Marking Land Day has brought Palestinians “from a phase [in which] they had lost their country, two-thirds of the population, about 500 villages, and all their political and cultural leaders [who] were driven out to a phase where they raised up their heads and clashed with the state that committed their catastrophe”, Kopty said.
As a tragedy that originally affected only Palestinian citizens of Israel, Land Day is a form of assertion, Kopty added, “by all Palestinians in [the 1967 Territories], refugee camps, and the diaspora… so it’s a national uniting event to all Palestinians”.
Kopty’s comments were echoed by Zaatry, who said that Palestinians, despite geographical divides, “face the same struggle in the end – it’s the same conflict over land”.
Land Day holds a particular significance for Israel’s Palestinian minority, where activists charge the government with trying to pressure them to abandon their Palestinian identity. “We see our citizenship in Israel as one of our rights as the native people. We don’t accept Israel’s forcing us to choose between being Israeli or Palestinian,” Zaatry said.
A global day of action
“Israel’s response to non-violent demonstrations has grown increasingly aggressive.”
– Rima Awad, Jerusalem Coalition
In 2012, Land Day protests were staged in 23 countries across the world, said Zaid Shuaibi, spokesperson for the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, the broad coalition of Palestinian organisations that leads and supports the BDS movement.
“Each year, BDS campaigners mark Land Day with a global day of action,” Shuaibi said. “This year there will be a series of actions and events to protest international support for Israel’s theft of Palestinian land, particularly the role of the Jewish National Fund and international trade with Israeli agricultural export companies, both of which directly participate in the appropriation of Palestinian land and resources. Land Day will also be marked with a demonstration and a day of solidarity activities at the World Social Forum, currently taking place in Tunis.”
In recent months, the increasing frequency of protests in the occupied West Bank have led many to speculate about the prospect of a third “intifada”, or uprising. Many activists said they expect Israel to respond with force.
“Israel’s response to non-violent demonstrations has grown increasingly aggressive,” said Awad. “February 2013 was one of the most violent in recent history in terms of injuries…we expect Israel to respond with the same disproportionate use of force as it has been.”
The Israeli military spokeswoman said the armed forces refused to comment, though noted that the police will deploy several hundred officers in Israel’s northern region to patrol protests.
Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said security measures are the same for Land Day each year.
2 Al Jazeera
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Palestinians mark Land Day with protests
Israeli troops fire tear gas in West Bank to disperse participants in event commemorating deaths of protesters in 1976.
About 500 Palestinians took part in a rally during which some threw stones at Israeli soldiers, who fired at them [AFP]
Palestinian protesters have clashed with Israeli soldiers as they demonstrated in the occupied West Bank before the 37th anniversary of Land Day.
Palestinian Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza held rallies on Friday commemorating the 37th anniversary of Land Day.
The annual protests mark the deaths of six Arab Israeli protesters at the hands of Israeli police and troops during mass protests in 1976 against plans to confiscate Arab land in the northern Galilee region.
Palestinian and international activists organised the march between five villages located in the south Hebron hills.
The villages are at risk of being cut off from the rest of the West Bank if planned Israeli settlement and wall building goes ahead.
The central events were scheduled for the northern Palestinian-Israeli town of Sakhnin and the Negev on Saturday.
Dozens of people joined a rally In the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya. At Khan Younis in the south, olive trees were planted in commemoration.
Sami Abu Zuhri of Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, told participants at the Khan Younis event his group was continuing its resistance to liberate all of Palestine and they would continue to strike inside Israel.
In Rafah, near Gaza’s southern border with Israel, about 500 Palestinians took part in a rally during which some threw stones at Israeli soldiers. The soldiers responded with live fire.
An Israeli army spokeswoman told AFP news agency that dozens of Palestinians rioted near the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip, hurling rocks at Israeli soldiers in the area.
She said an initial inquiry suggested that one participant was lightly injured.
A delegation of 20 Palestinians, including Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, planted trees to mark Land Day in the contested West Bank zone east of Jerusalem referred to as E1, Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.
She said that police dispersed the event and confiscated the saplings.
On the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem, about 200 Palestinians planted trees on land belonging to a Palestinian family.
Samri said that three people were arrested for trespassing on state-owned land.
At the West Bank Qalandia checkpoint nearly 200 Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces, who responded with tear gas.
A military spokeswoman said that 150 Palestinians were threw stones at Israeli forces, “who were using riot dispersal means”.
The security presence in Jerusalem and the West Bank was boosted on Friday “following information that groups of Palestinians were ready to engage in violent demonstrations”, Samri said.
Friday prayers in Jerusalem passed off without incident. Access for men to the al-Aqsa mosque compound had been limited to Palestinians over the age of 50 and holders of Jerusalem residency cards issued by Israel.
The annexation of land in the West Bank is seen by the Arab community as a way of altering the population demographic of Galilee to create a Jewish majority in the area.
“We came here on the last day of our freedom bus tour, which has lasted for 13 days,” Aliya Orsan, activist, said.
“The reason for our tour was to move our theatre to the places where people are having daily confrontations with the occupation forces and daily confrontations with the discriminatory Zionist regime.”
The activists’ 13-day bus journey toured West Bank land known as Area C, which accounts for about 60 percent of the West Bank, and is under full Israeli control.
This is where most Jewish settlements are located.
Ynet on Land Day http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4362261,00.html
Haaretz on Land Day http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/israeli-arabs-mark-land-day-in-protest-organizers-disappointed-over-low-turnout-1.512680
3 Al Jazeera
Friday, March 29, 2013
From Brazil to Tunisia, Palestinians call for their revolution
The World Social Forum marks a renewed commitment to the Palestinian cause.
Salena Tramel is an independent journalist and activist, currently serving as the Executive Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions-US (ICAHD-US).
Over 3,500 participants from at least 36 countries gathered in Porto Alegre last December [Salena Tramel/Al Jazeera]
As more than 50,000 activists from around the world bear down on Tunis for the twelfth annual World Social Forum, one group of delegates – the Palestinians – already has a head start in framing their agenda and message to civil society.
Just weeks after the most recent spate of attacks on Gaza, more than 3,500 participants from at least 36 countries gathered in the south-of-the-Capricorn Brazilian city of Porto Alegre last December to voice their opposition to Israeli occupation and pool knowledge and experience gleaned from their own grassroots movements.
The gathering highlighted the different approaches to the Palestinian cause taken by the Global North and the Global South. Northern countries and organisations, despite what may (or may not) be good intentions, often offer sympathy and charity – perpetuating a cycle of dependence that fails to address root causes. Collective organising at the Global South level, however, pinpoints systemic violence such as land grabs and militarisation. This starkly different method was front and centre in Porto Alegre, as Palestinians set forth on the road to Tunis.
Social movements and grassroots organisations chose Porto Alegre for a number of strategic reasons. It is an epicentre of progressive politics, and the host city for the first global World Social Forum in 2001. Paving the way for that initial meeting, Brazilian social movements like the MST (Landless Workers Movement) had won many of their hard-fought battles in the area, and were eager to share those victories with the 70+ member Palestinian delegation they were a part of hosting. The necessity of holding the forum outside the Middle East was also imposed by Israeli restrictions on movement in the occupied Palestinian territories. Combined with the politics of surrounding Arab countries, it is impossible for Palestinians from Israel, East Jerusalem, West Bank, Gaza, and the diaspora to meet in their own homeland.
Palestine: What is in a name (change)?
The idea for a thematic Palestine-based World Social Forum originated in meetings in Dakar during the 2011 World Social Forum. Social movements – in particular, large Latin American movements such as the MST – offered to host the Palestinian-led international delegation. Three committees were instrumental in organising this forum for nearly two years: the Palestinian Committee, the Brazilian Committee, and the International Committee. The Palestinian delegation included a diverse group of women, youth, and other key grassroots leaders from across occupied Palestinian territory, Israel, and the diaspora.
Moving towards the current global World Social Forum in Tunis, there was strong agreement to support Palestinian popular resistance and cross-connect issues, such as Israeli arms exports and military aid that reaches far beyond the unilaterally-changing borders of occupied Palestinian territory. Brazil itself purchases increasing amounts of Israeli weaponry as Israel, the world’s third largest arms exporter, aims to reach $10 billion in profits within the coming years.
As a movement opposed to war and capitalistic profiteering, MST is rooted in land struggles, and is therefore no stranger to the campaigns that Palestinians are engaged in right now. In 1983, after years of underground organising, indigenous and displaced Brazilians founded what is today one of the most successful social movements in the world. To date, MST has reclaimed 17 million hectares of land – an area the size of neighbouring Uruguay. Its 1.5 million members across 23 Brazilian states realise that land confiscation is not just a national, but also a global problem.
The first Palestinian intifada, or uprising, of the 1980s brought with it a focus on Left politics – especially as they related to land grabs. MST partnered with Palestinians who sought to keep the territory that was promised to them under international law. One of their delegations to Palestine camped out in Yasser Arafat’s compound in Bethlehem while it was under siege. Ever since, MST has educated its base about facts on the ground in Palestine.
Together with social movements from each corner of the globe, MST was instrumental in forming Via Campesina (International Peasants Movement) that has grown to more that 200 million farmer, pastoralist, fisher, and indigenous members worldwide. What Via has lacked historically has been membership in the Middle East and North Africa. Palestinian movements, with the help of Brazilian and global counterparts, are eager to change that. Now it’s happening – movements from Palestine will be the first in the region to join the ranks of Via Campesina this year.
The Palestine-themed events in Brazil set a dazzling stage for this worldwide dance of civil society in Tunisia. Organisers are sending a powerful message through their country of choice. Tunisians proved to the world that a determined mass of people could non-violently overthrow a dictator in less than a month. When it comes to Global North patronage versus Global South solidarity, and when negotiations backslide, the leadership of social movements may represent a new force in the international politics that have failed us thus far. The World Social Forum process emphasises that another world is indeed possible.
And many Palestinians are eager to use Tunis as an opportunity to remind us all that their own revolution is far past time.
Salena Tramel has worked with social movements around the world. An independent journalist and activist, her writing and photos have appeared in publications such as Huffington Post, the Guardian, and the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. She currently serves as the Executive Director of ICAHD-USA (Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions-US), an organisation that supports the work of ICAHD in Jerusalem and advocates just US/UN policy in the Middle East.
4 The Guardian
Friday, March 29, 2013
Jerusalem’s long Good Friday: tears, prayers and rented crossesEaster means brisk business on the Via Dolorosa for a Palestinian Muslim with unusual goods for hire
Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem
Spanish pilgrims carry a large wooden cross along the Via Dolorosa during Holy Week. Photograph: Gali Tibbon for the Guardian
The hushed prayers of Christian pilgrims at dusk are swiftly drowned out by the muezzin’s call from nearby mosques, but nothing can disturb the piety of the small group on the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City.
In the fading light, they gather around a large wooden cross they have carried along the Via Dolorosa, retracing the steps taken by Jesus nearly 2,000 years ago from the point of his condemnation to the site of his crucifixion. Along the way, they stop at the Stations of the Cross for prayer and recitation of the liturgy.
It is a path followed by thousands of Christian pilgrims to the Holy City every Easter. For Maria Immaculada, among a group of 25 Spanish devotees, it is the pinnacle of her 48 years. “It is very emotional. I have been waiting for this my whole life,” she says. “Carrying the cross was very special. It made me want to cry.”
For Yosef Kanan, a 25-year-old Palestinian Muslim, it is simply another day for his three-generation family business renting plain wooden crosses to pilgrim groups. On Good Friday, the peak of his year, Kanan greets the first devotees at dawn and will only lock away his 30-plus crosses in a small store off the Via Dolorosa around sunset. “There will be a sea of people,” he predicts.
But this year he has seen fewer pilgrim groups in the Old City. “There are not so many from Europe, because of the economic crisis. They don’t have the money. And people see what’s happening in Syria on the television, and they think the whole region has trouble.”
Kanan’s oldest cross, made more than 50 years ago, two metres high and worn to a rich dark brown, is brought out of the store only on Good Friday, to be carried by an elderly priest who makes the journey from Portugal to the Holy Land every Easter.
The olive wood crosses are made by craftsmen in the Palestinian Christian town of Beit Jala, now cut off from Jerusalem by Israel’s separation barrier. Kanan’s family pays around $220 (£145) for each cross, recouped by charging $20 a hire.
But the business’s main income comes from the sale of photographs taken by Kanan and his uncle to pilgrims after their journey across the Old City. “Even though everyone has their iPhones, they still want my pictures because they are very beautiful,” he says.
His grandfather started the business “in Jordanian times” – before East Jerusalem was occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed – taking black and white photographs, hand-developing them in a darkroom in the Old City and delivering them to clients the same evening. “Today, no one has time, everything is done on a computer, everything comes out chik-chak,” laments Kanan, using Hebrew slang for “quick” or “on the double”.
After 10 years in the business, Kanan knows every inch of the Via Dolorosa – the Way of Grief – and almost every word of the liturgy in several languages. “Sometimes the priest forgets something,” he says, “and I can remind him.” Along the route, he gently ushers pilgrims to the next station and suggests when it is time for someone else to take a turn at carrying the cross.
The ancient rose-coloured stones and smooth cobbles of the route can be treacherous for elderly or cross-burdened pilgrims. The narrow artery is lined with shops selling a typical Old City mix of spices, sweets, underwear, Chinese-made incense, pottery, jewellery, saucepans and religious memorabilia. T-shirts bearing the insignia of the Israel defence forces are displayed next to those calling for a “Free Palestine”. The pilgrim groups jostle with tourists, residents, armed Israeli border police, priests, nuns, ultra-Orthodox Jews and devout Muslims.
The pilgrims come from all over the world. “The Indonesians are the biggest spenders,” says Kanan. “The Koreans are the craziest – very emotional, crying, kissing stones and the ground – but they don’t give money.”
He has no qualms, as a Muslim, servicing a Christian festival. “Just like we do Hajj in Mecca,” he says, “the Christians come here. It’s the same thing. Everything comes from God.”
• This article was amended on 29 March 2013. The original referred to pilgrims “retracing the steps taken by Jesus more than 2,000 years ago”.
5 WAFA Palestinian News and Information Agency
Friday, March 30, 2013
Presidency Resembles Settlements to Mines
RAMALLAH, March 30, 2013 (WAFA) – Ongoing Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank along with the Apartheid Wall and settler terrorism are mines that threaten the entire region, according to a statement issued Saturday on the occasion of Land Day.
It said “the halt in the peace process and absence of a horizon due to Israel’s persistence with its settlement activity will undermine chances for the two-state solution and will sooner or later lead to an explosion.”
The presidency called on the international organizations, especially the United Nations, to immediately intervene to enforce resolutions that deemed settlements as illegal and a violation of all conventions.
It said, “Settlement activity, which is tearing apart our land and uses 37% of the West Bank land for settlement expansion, is threatening not only our legal right to establish our state on the land occupied in 1967, but also our future, our national existence and our right to live on the land of our ancestors.”
It stressed that it will not hesitate to resort to international organizations to practice its lawful right to stop settlement expansion.
6 Video: Ramzy Baroud on the Legacy of Rachel Corrie
Mar 29 2013 / 7:33 pm
Ramzy Baroud, originally from Gaza, is a Palestinian-American journalist and author, former producer for al-Jazeera, and Editor in Chief of The Palestine Chronicle, shared at the Rachel Corrie – 10 Years: The Person and the Continuing Struggle Saturday, March 16th A dynamic day of social action, speakers, music, dance, food, remembrance, and community!
The video is about 25 minutes and is mainly about Gaza, and particularly about Rafa, and its relation to the west as well as to the change that Rachel wrought in the views that Gazans had of westerners—from people who came as tourists to people who came to care and help.
7 The Guardian
Friday, March 29, 2013
A rites-of-passage story about three female Israeli soldiers has some fine and funny writing, but too little emotional drive
A female Israeli soldier in the Negev desert … Boianjiu depicts compulsory military service as brutalising yet elevating Photograph: Darren Whiteside/Reuters
A slim majority of Israeli teenagers don’t know what the Oslo Accords were, according to a recent poll. They don’t think a negotiated settlement with Palestinians is possible. They are the failure of the generations before them. And they all do compulsory military service, just like this book’s main characters, three young female friends who grow up in a dull, peripheral town in today’s Israel, then join the army, where they are really bored. To mitigate boredom – one of the many features of army life for which they are hopelessly unprepared – they imagine a lot of outlandish scenarios. Also, being late teenagers, they flirt with boys and fret about the future – and sometimes they harass and humiliate Palestinians at checkpoints, just to pass the time. Effusively praised, this first novel was picked up for translation into 22 languages when it was a just-commissioned promise based on a string of short stories. Some of those stories ran in the New Yorker and Vice magazine, and made 25-year-old Shani Boianjiu the youngest recipient of the US National Book Foundation’s 5 under 35 award. The novel has also been longlisted for the Women’s fiction prize.
The People of Forever Are Not Afraid
by Shani Boianjiu
The book has that contradictory impulse of much army fiction, in which compulsory military service is depicted as brutalising a nation’s young adults (what it does to those living under military occupation is not in the frame), as well as an elevating rites-of-passage. The girls come from a flimsy insult of a village on Israel’s border with Lebanon, one of those into which non-European Jews were dumped and left to deal with it. Lea ends up serving at West Bank checkpoints, letting Palestinians into Israel – the ones with permits “that assured they weren’t the type likely to stay in Israel for ever or try to kill us”.Bored, she invents life stories for one of these crumpled Palestinian men – until the real version slices open the neck of one of her checkpoint colleagues. Avishag is stationed on the Egyptian Sinai border, where her job is to watch illegal people, porn and pirated films that try to enter Israel. Yael, meanwhile, is a weapons instructor, teaching boys barely younger than her to shoot better.
This is all told in a clipped, off-key style. Boianjiu wrote the novel in English but translated the Hebrew phraseology literally: initially the prose seems charmingly stilted, but soon it starts to grate like a bad translation. That’s when you wish that the author had had a less indulgent editor, because there is so much good writing here: memorable detail and sharp storytelling that often gets lost amid the bad metaphors and narrative drag.
The parts that stand out are surreal comic set pieces in the vein of Catch-22, for which Boianjiu has obvious flair. One involves a group of Palestinian protesters inviting Israeli checkpoint soldiers to crack open their box of “means of suppressing demonstrations” – different, escalating weaponry used for crowd dispersal. The Palestinians ask for this so that their mini-demo gets newspaper column inches. Other scenes, with expert comic timing, relay Yael’s amusement at the audacity of Palestinian kids who remove bits of an Israeli army base in the West Bank – kit, signs, the periphery fencing – while the base is guarded round the clock.
The story’s political framework is located within the mindset of the Israeli army. Some readers have found irony in Boianjiu’s narrative; others will just find it uncomfortable. It captures well the dissonance of a transition into womanhood that must take place within the fear-soaked tedium of compulsory military service. But for me, the narrative feels more like a succession of vignettes – it isn’t strong enough to make me care about the characters, or carry the book through to its end.
• Rachel Shabi’s Not the Enemy: Israel’s Jews from Arab Lands is published by Yale.
8 Today in Palestine
Friday, March 29, 2013