I’m angry, upset, and feel like shouting to Israelis: “You idiots! Don’t you see that this is the way it happens—the media states interpretations as though they were facts, community leaders are forerunners of racist acts, while shouting that they are not racists, and the hatred grows! No different from Ku Klux Klan antics. No different from the III Reich ones! The question is where will these lead to here? gas chambers and ovens? Hangings? continued demolitions of homes and villages, with the approval of the public? Horrid!
The initial item of the 3 below is a report that does not merely state facts. No. An unarmed young Palestinian man is killed at the check point this morning. And what does the report say? “Terror attack thwarted.” It also says that he had a broken bottle in his hands. But others who witnessed the affair said that he had a soft drink in his hand. But as a relative of his says, “Unfortunately, killing Palestinians has become a matter of routine. We are being treated like animals . . .” Yes. Killing a Palestinian is not seen as murder, as taking the life of another human being. ‘He is but a Palestinian, a subhuman–not a human being like my brother or sister or mother or aunt or uncle or or or or!’ And the media helps increase racism—calling the young man a terrorist while acknowledging that he was unarmed. And the fact that others were caught who intended to commit a crime does not change the fact that this young man on his way to work was not given a chance. Why shoot to kill? If a soldier has to shoot because he’s scared of his own skin, why not shoot at the feet? Or are the IOF soldiers such lousy shots that even if they intend to shoot low, their bullets kill ?
The second report is a natural outcome—not a direct one of this morning’s killing, but of so many reports calling Palestinians terrorists and all sorts of other things. The natural outcome is to (a) generalize and (b) sow fear: ‘don’t let your daughters mingle with Arabs, all of whom wish to seduce the innocent girls.’ This is the way it began against Jews in Germany in the 1930s.
The final item is a cry of the heart from young people in Gaza. I distributed their manifesto some time ago, but the article in the Observer gives additional background and talks about their feelings. Indeed. Israel has outdone itself in Gaza. And does Israeli society know or care? Not in the least.
Please roll up your sleeves, and (a) distribute information as the below as widely as possible, and (b) urge everyone whom you know to support bds, because it is our only hope for a way out of the morass that Israeli society has gotten itself into.
Palestinian shot to death at roadblock
Troops open fire at man approaching IDF force southeast of Nablus with broken glass bottle in his hand, say he refused to stop. Palestinian eyewitnesses: He was unarmed. Army launches investigation into incident
Terror attack thwarted: A Palestinian man was shot to death Sunday morning at the Bekaot roadblock, southeast of Nablus, after allegedly trying to stab soldiers with a broken glass bottle. There were no injuries among the troops.
The Israel Defense Forces reported that the man approached the soldiers, who launched a suspect detention procedure. He was shot to death after refusing to stop, even after the soldiers fired in the air as a warning.
Medical teams dispatched to the area proclaimed the man dead. Red Cross sources told Palestinian news agency Maan that the man had been identified as Mahmoud Muhammad Darajme, 21, of the village of Tubas.
Dr. Khatem Farouoh, who witnessed the incident, told Maan: “I was standing on the eastern side of the roadblock when I suddenly heard screaming. I turned around and saw a young man in a brown shirt and jeans raising his hands. Shortly afterwards, two soldiers fired at him from three meters away and he fell down.”
Other eyewitnesses said the Palestinian had crossed the roadblock with a soft drink in his hand. “He was unarmed. When he crossed the checkpoint, he passed by a woman soldier who started yelling at him. The soldiers immediately fired at him, intensively, and he died on the spot,” one of them said.
The independent Sama news agency reported that the incident took place after “a heated exchange of words.” According to one of the eyewitnesses, “We heard intensive fire and the soldiers screaming, and saw a body lying on the ground after being sprayed with bullets.”
According to the official Wafa news agency, Darajme was shot on his way to work. A Red Crescent medical source said the body was handed over to the organization at the checkpoint without any identifying documents, and that the man’s certificates and cellular phone were confiscated by the soldiers.
“This is an inhuman act of revenge, said Said Darajme, the man’s relative. “He was not a problematic person and never planned to target soldiers at the roadblock. Unfortunately, killing Palestinians has become a matter of routine. We are being treated like animals, and I hope that whoever investigates this incident punishes the soldiers who killed Mahmoud.”
Was shooting necessary?
An initial IDF inquiry raises questions regarding the need to open fire. Military sources noted that an investigation had been launched into the incident and that the army was examining whether it was necessary to shoot the Palestinian.
This was the second stabbing attempt in less than 24 hours. On Saturday evening a Border Guard force arrested a young Palestinian in possession of a knife, on suspicion of trying to stab two female soldiers leaving an Israel Defense Forces base in Gush Etzion.
On the backdrop of Sunday’s incident, military sources noted that the commanders had briefed their soldiers on firing procedures in the Jordan Valley and Judea and Samaria areas, for fear that such incidents will ignite the tensions.
“In situation with a clear and immediate danger, the instruction in unequivocal – to open fire,” a military source told Ynet. “However, the soldiers and commanders must use their judgment rather than easily push the trigger when there are other alternatives, or when their life is not in danger.”
Palestinians have tried in the past to smuggle weapons through the same roadblock. In March, an IDF force of the Kfir Brigade’s Haruv Battalion uncovered three pipe bombs in the possession of a Palestinian who arrived at the Bekaot roadblock.
Two months earlier, soldiers located in the area a Palestinian trying to smuggle six explosive devices. The man was arrested and the devices were detonated in a controlled manner.
Hanan Greenberg, Roee Nahmias and Hassan Shaalan contributed to this report
January 2, 2011
Ashkelon rally targets Arabs who ‘seduce girls’
City councilman leading protest says he is not racist. ‘Seducing teenage girls is a crime,’ he says
Residents of Ashkelon are planning to protest Tuesday against “Arabs who associate with girls”.
Leading the rally is City Councilman Tomer Glam, who says the protest does not stem from racism. “Associating with minors is a serious criminal offence,” he explained.
Fliers handed out in anticipation of the rally say, “Father, wake up before Yusuf is sitting in your living room”.
A few weeks ago Glam asked Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin to hold an urgent debate on what he called “the problem of Arabs seducing Ashkelon’s young girls”.
“Recently we have been witnessing a serious threat. Dozens of Arabs living near the beach in Ashkelon are harming young girls from good homes and seducing them,” Glam’s letter to the mayor said. “In one case I know of, they forced a girl to work as a prostitute in another city.”
He asked that the council discuss the police’s ability to handle the trouble as well as the establishment of school programs to teach teenage girls of the risks involved. But Glam says his warning has gone unheeded. “That’s why we decided to hold the rally,” he said.
A number of other Ashkelon councilmen, including Deputy Mayor Shimon Cohen, have joined in. “There are extreme and shocking cases in Ashkelon,” Cohen said.
“I have been saying for years that we must teach girls to beware of Arabs from the time they begin high school and maybe even earlier. There is no doubt that such a painful issue requires a plan, whether local or national, which includes human and economic resources.”
Glam claims the problem of Arabs seducing teenage girls is sweeping the nation. “I was confronted with the case of a girl from Ashkelon who was impregnated by an Arab, and after being abused she decided to flee and was rescued, but her parents wouldn’t take her back,” he recounted.
“In another case a girl disappeared from home and was found a week later at a Tel Aviv hotel together with her life partner, an Arab who was forcing her to work as a prostitute at the hotel.”
‘Police won’t lift finger’
Glam insists he is not a racist. “If a 20-year old woman wants to go around with an Arab that’s her decision, but we cannot allow girls aged 12-16 to be seduced by Arabs without expressing outrage,” he said.
“There are construction workers who rent apartments in Ashkelon and bring girls from the age of 12 to ‘have fun’ with them at parties which include the handing out of alcohol to these girls. Residents who live in these buildings have gone to the police, but they say their hands are tied despite the fact that the girls are minors.”
Extreme right-wing activist Itamar Ben-Gvir says he receives daily phone calls about girls being harassed by Arabs, which come mainly from mixed-race cities such as Ashkelon, Akko, Safed, and Bat Yam.
“Unfortunately Israel Police is losing control and is not lifting a finger, so we must assist all of the dear residents who feel endangered and whom no one will help,” he explained.
In holding the rally, Ashkelon will join Bat Yam and Hatikva neighborhood in Tel Aviv, both of which have held such protests recently.
Yair Altman contributed to this report
2 January 2011
Gazan youth issue manifesto to vent their anger with all sides in the conflictAn anonymous group of students has created a document to express their frustration born of Hamas’s violent crackdowns on ‘western decadence’, the destruction wreaked by Israel’s attacks and the political games played by Fatah and the UN
A Gazan group of young people have issued a manifesto to vent their anger about the situation in Palestine. Photograph: Mohammed Salem/Reuters The meeting takes place in a bare room in a block of flats in the centre of Gaza City. No photographs, no real names – those are the conditions.
This is the first time that a group of young Palestinian cyber-activists has agreed to meet a journalist since launching what it calls Gaza Youth’s Manifesto for Change. It is an incendiary document – written with courage and furious energy – that has captivated thousands of people who have come across it online, and the young university students are visibly excited, but also scared. “Not only are our lives in danger; we are also putting our families at risk,” says one of them, who calls himself Abu George.
Gaza Youth’s Manifesto for Change is an extraordinary, impassioned cyber-scream in which young men and women from Gaza – where more than half the 1.5 million population is under 18 – make it clear that they’ve had enough. “Fuck Hamas…” begins the text. “Fuck Israel. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA! We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community!”
It goes on to detail the daily humiliations and frustrations that constitute everyday life in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian slice of land that Israel and Egypt have virtually sealed off from the world since Hamas was elected to power in 2006.
“Here in Gaza we are scared of being incarcerated, interrogated, hit, tortured, bombed, killed,” reads the extraordinary document. “We are afraid of living, because every single step we take has to be considered and well-thought, there are limitations everywhere, we cannot move as we want, say what we want, do what we want, sometimes we even can’t think what we want because the occupation has occupied our brains and hearts so terrible that it hurts and it makes us want to shed endless tears of frustration and rage!”
The text ends with a triple demand: “We want three things. We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask?”
On Facebook, the group calls itself Gaza Youth Breaks Out. When the cyber-activists wrote the manifesto three weeks ago, they gave themselves a year to gather enough support before thinking about further steps. But their text has travelled around the world at an unexpected speed and has harvested thousands of supporters, many of them human rights activists, who say they are ready to help.
Now, the authors are dealing with the impact of a document that could be a turning point in the life of the Strip. “We did not expect this to be so big,” one of them admits. Eight people – three women and five men – wrote the text. They are normal students, from the more secular elements of Gazan society. All declare themselves to be non-political and disgusted with the tensions and rivalries that divide Palestinians between Hamas, the rulers of Gaza, and Fatah, the more secular party which governs the Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank. “Politics is bollocks, it is screwing our lives up,” said one member of the group. “Politicians only care about money and about their supporters. The Israelis are the only ones benefiting from the division.”
Two of the group have been detained by the Gazan authorities several times, accused among other crimes of “immoral” behaviour. They say that they have been abused in jail and claim that physical and psychological punishment is commonplace in Gaza’s detention centres.
Another one obtained a scholarship to attend a workshop at an American university, but he says Israel did not issue a permit that would allow him to leave the Strip.
“We are supposed to be the engine of change in this society, but our voices are muted. In the press, at university, there is no room in our society to talk freely, out of the frame, without putting yourself and your family at risk,” says one, who wants to be called Abu Yazan. He adds: “In Gaza, you feel watched at school, in the streets, everywhere. You can be thrown into jail at any time. [Hamas] will threaten you with ruining your family reputation and that would be it.”
These youngsters do not represent anybody except themselves, but their call for change has resonated strongly, not only abroad but also inside Gaza. Their Facebook page already has thousands of friends – including, they say, many from the Strip.
The causes of frustration are legion. The Israeli blockade forbids Gazans to travel in and out of the Strip without a permit, which is difficult to obtain. For Gazan students who wish to study abroad, the most difficult part is not being accepted at a foreign university or getting a scholarship, but simply being able to travel.
Inside the Strip, things do not get much better. Israeli shelling which follows the launching of rockets into Israel by Palestinian militants is part of their everyday life. Power cuts and ruinous sanitary conditions are among the side-effects of the embargo suffered by Gaza’s inhabitants.
With high unemployment in the Strip and little access to other job markets after graduation, many feel that they have reached a dead end. Some keep studying and accumulating degrees and foreign languages, which they learn via the internet, hoping for better days to come. Others kill their time smoking hookahs with their friends day after day. There is an increasing number who rely on drugs to cope with their conflict traumas and frustrations.
Going out, meeting friends in cafés – let alone clubs or discotheques – or attending cultural events has become an increasingly complicated task as Hamas cracks down on western “decadence”.
In Gaza there are no theatres and few concerts aside from the Islamic musical performances organised by the Hamas authorities. In the places where young men and women are allowed to meet, considered an “oasis” by the less conservative youth, the police are quick to interrogate mixed couples suspected of not being married or engaged.
The “last straw” for the writers of the Gaza manifesto came a month ago, when Hamas closed Sharek, an internationally financed organisation offering training and summer activities for thousands of adolescents and young people. Sharek had also became a hang-out place for the more liberal-minded in Gaza. Human Rights Watch recently issued a statement condemning its closure. “Hamas authorities in Gaza should allow an organisation that helps children and youth to reopen, and penalise officials who have harassed its workers,” it said.
According to Ihab Al Ghusain, a spokesman for the Hamas Ministry of the Interior, the problems highlighted by Gaza’s disaffected youth are sometimes the result of over-zealous officials. “There are no laws prohibiting men and women sitting together in public places in Gaza,” he said. “But some policemen at their own initiative interrogate the couples. Those policemen should be punished.”
He says that proof of the government’s commitment to Gaza’s young generation is that it has declared 2011 the Year for the Youth. But the authors of the youth manifesto are unlikely to be persuaded by such symbolic initiatives. The group is currently investing most of its time and energy in debating new strategies to pursue a web-based platform for change. The new year may yet become one for the youth of the Strip, but perhaps not in the way Hamas intended.
“Fuck Hamas. Fuck Israel. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA! We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community!
“We want to scream and break this wall of silence, injustice and indifference like the Israeli F16s breaking the wall of sound; scream with all the power in our souls in order to release this immense frustration that consumes us because of this fucking situation we live in…
“We are sick of being caught in this political struggle; sick of coal-dark nights with airplanes circling above our homes; sick of innocent farmers getting shot in the buffer zone because they are taking care of their lands; sick of bearded guys walking around with their guns abusing their power, beating up or incarcerating young people demonstrating for what they believe in; sick of the wall of shame that separates us from the rest of our country and keeps us imprisoned in a stamp-sized piece of land; sick of being portrayed as terrorists, home-made fanatics with explosives in our pockets and evil in our eyes; sick of the indifference we meet from the international community, the so-called experts in expressing concerns and drafting resolutions but cowards in enforcing anything they agree on; we are sick and tired of living a shitty life, being kept in jail by Israel, beaten up by Hamas and completely ignored by the rest of the world.
“There is a revolution growing inside of us, an immense dissatisfaction and frustration that will destroy us unless we find a way of canalising this energy into something that can challenge the status quo and give us some kind of hope.
“We barely survived the Operation Cast Lead, where Israel very effectively bombed the shit out of us, destroying thousands of homes and even more lives and dreams. During the war we got the unmistakable feeling that Israel wanted to erase us from the face of the Earth. During the last years, Hamas has been doing all they can to control our thoughts, behaviour and aspirations. Here in Gaza we are scared of being incarcerated, interrogated, hit, tortured, bombed, killed. We cannot move as we want, say what we want, do what we want.
“ENOUGH! Enough pain, enough tears, enough suffering, enough control, limitations, unjust justifications, terror, torture, excuses, bombings, sleepless nights, dead civilians, black memories, bleak future, heart-aching present, disturbed politics, fanatic politicians, religious bullshit, enough incarceration! WE SAY STOP! This is not the future we want! We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask?”