After Birthright: Hebron – 500 settlers, 2,000 soldiers and the tensest place I’ve ever been

Sep 17, 2010

Rachel Marcuse


In July, activist Rachel Marcuse spent 10 days in Israel as part of the Taglit-Birthright program — a fully sponsored trip for young North American Jews to learn more about the country. She went to bear witness and ask questions about the Israeli state’s treatment of Palestinians, and to learn about other complex issues in Israel today. After the program, she spent another 10 days elsewhere in Israel and the West Bank of Palestine talking to Israeli Jews, Palestinian citizens of Israel, international activists, and Palestinians in the occupied territories. This is the last post in the seven-part series on what she found. You can read the entire series here. This series first appeared in and this story can be found here.

After our visit to Ramallah, Hannah and I head to Hebron — or, in Arabic, Al-Khalil — to meet another member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). We take a small, hot, local bus through a mostly desert landscape, passing some desolate Bedouin camps along the way, the bus radio providing lilting Arab music as our soundscape.

“I look up at a net hanging above the souk. It’s full of garbage and other debris. The Jewish settlers, who number about 500, have built homes above the market street. I am told the net is to protect the Palestinians below.” (Photo: Rachel Marcuse)

All of the highways in the West Bank are considered to be in Area C, which means that they are controlled entirely by Israel, or, more specifically, the military. Area A is controlled by the Palestinian Authority (Ramallah is one example) and Israelis are not allowed to enter. Area B, where many Palestinian farms are located, is under Palestinian civilian control, but Israel’s military control. While I heard many stories of Palestinians being randomly searched along the Area C highways, when we pass some well-fortified checkpoints, our bus isn’t stopped.

We arrive in Hebron in the bustling commercial area. It feels like a big place and it is — Hebron is the biggest city in the West Bank with a population of 163,000; about half a million Palestinians live in the city and the surrounding area. We meet “Ali,” who, like the other ISM members, has taken a code name. He takes us to the Old City.

As in Ramallah and Aida Camp, we are offered coffee or tea by many people, including the shopkeepers. Ali remarks that he can’t make it through the souk — the market — without leaving over-caffeinated. I’m feeling that more caffeine would increase the dis-ease I am already feeling with the place; respectfully, I decline several offers.

My discomfort increases as I begin to more fully understand the situation, a situation which is almost literally on top of me. I look up at a net hanging above the souk. It’s full of garbage and other debris. The Jewish settlers, who number about 500, have built homes above both sides of the market street. I am told that the net is to protect the Palestinians below from the garbage, urine, eggs and bleach routinely thrown at them by the settlers. I can see evidence of the refuse in the net right above me. One of the shopkeepers shows me egg stains on the scarves he is selling.

Hebron feels tense; in fact, it’s the most tense place I have ever been. There is a lot of history here and a lot of contemporary conflict. Since it is the traditional burial site of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah, the fathers and mothers of the Jewish people, it is the second holiest place in Judaism, right after Jerusalem.

It is also holy for Muslims who worship at the Ibrahim Mosque at the Cave of the Patriarchs. It was here, on February 25, 1994, during the overlapping holidays of Purim and Ramadan, that an Israeli settler and member of the far-right Israeli Kach movement, opened fire with an automatic weapon. Twenty-nine worshippers were killed and 125 wounded that day. When Hannah and I enter the mosque, after a security screening and donning long brown robes, we can see the bullet holes in the wall.   As it’s Friday, demonstration day in the West Bank, today might feel even more tense than usual. There is a rally planned for later in the afternoon to protest the closure of Shuhada Street, the main thoroughfare of Hebron, which is reserved for settlers. As a consequence, this closure shut down about 800 Palestinian stores.  

In the settlers’ area, the movement of Palestinians is heavily restricted; the Jewish settlers have total freedom of movement and are protected by the IDF. And they’re really protected by the IDF. There are 2,000 soldiers in Hebron and 500 settlers — a ratio of 4:1. The settlers are primarily Orthodox (and many are American) and not obligated to serve in the military, something that seemed to bother many Israelis I talked with.

As a result of the limitations on Palestinian movement, about half the shops in the Israel-controlled area have gone out of business since 1994, in spite of UN efforts to compensate shopkeepers in an effort to keep them in business. Palestinians cannot come close to where the settlers live without special permits from the IDF. Palestinian control of Hebron, despite it being one of the most populous cities in the West Bank, is limited to some 20 or 30 square kilometres.

We speak with Monir, a shopkeeper, whose business is adjacent to shut-down Shuhada Street. “I have the best of a bad situation,” he says, noting that all of the other shops were just closed down. But, business is bad. “There’s no tourism here anymore,” he says, “everyone thinks it’s a war zone.” I think to myself that it feels like a war zone as I note a group of young male settlers saunter by. The demo is about to start; the town has quieted.

We wander by the demo. There are a couple of hundred people there, surrounded by IDF soldiers with snipers positioned strategically on rooftops. We have been warned that there is likely to be tear gas and arrests — and this is later confirmed. As we have committed to being in Jerusalem that evening, we are unable to stay for long.

We walk out of the Old City and find a bus heading to Bethlehem. Hannah makes friends with a gorgeous girl of about 12 and takes her photo. About 45 minutes later, we get off on a busy street in the commercial area of Bethlehem. We wait with a group of families and then get on a large green and white Palestinian bus bound for Jerusalem. It’s going to take us right to our friend’s place in Jewish Jerusalem, just over the hill we can see in the distance.

The bus pulls up to a vehicle checkpoint and we all get off to have our documents inspected. One of the soldiers approaches us in Hebrew and then switches to English. “We’re not letting Internationals through today,” he tells us. “Oh,” I respond weakly, “but we’re just going to the other side of the hill.” He’s not interested. It’s Friday, demo-day, and it’s likely he thinks we’ve been at a protest. We have. He turns us around, instructing us to wait on the highway for a bus coming from the other direction. We’re about an hour’s walk out of Bethlehem and it’s getting dark.

We immediately befriend another International who was also turned away. He’s a six-foot-five African-American basketball player from New York City who has been doing basketball training with Palestinian kids. He is surprised to be turned away at the checkpoint. He’s gotten through many times before, he says, but knows that the soldiers can be inconsistent. He remarks that if it’s this hard for us, imagine how hard it is for Palestinians just trying to get to work.

Settlement lite

This Bethlehem checkpoint was very obviously a checkpoint. At other times on the trip, though, it wasn’t clear to us whether we were inside or outside the Green Line.

For example, days later, we go back to the house of Or, one of the Israelis who traveled with us on the Taglit-Birthright tour. We’d stayed with him in his parents’ house and left a bunch of our stuff there before heading to the West Bank.

He picks us up in Jerusalem and we start driving. “Are we driving East?” I ask. “Yes,” he says. “Are we past the Green Line?” I ask. “Yes,” he says again. “So, your parents kind of live in a settlement?” “They don’t ‘kind of live’ in a settlement, they live in a settlement,” he tells me. “Ah…” I respond with dim realization. “You’re been referring to it as a village for the last couple of weeks.” “It is a village,” he says.

And for him, it is. Or grew up there and describes it as a “settlement lite,” or a non-ideological settlement, as it was one of the earlier developments where “no one,” he claims, was displaced. For him, it’s normal. For me, I’m more than a little miffed to finally learn that I’d been staying in a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem without knowing it.

It turns out that it’s not the first time I’d stayed in a settlement during the Taglit trip. I later learn from one of the soldiers who accompanied us that one of the kibbutzim we had stayed at was across the 1967 border. Looking back, I remembered that for this portion of the trip, we’d had not just the one medic/guard, a young woman who would rock her look of skinny jeans, a blue tank top and a rifle, but a second one as well. The reason for the additional soldier wasn’t explained to us at the time. I had assumed it was because we were near Jerusalem. We were actually on a settlement outside Jerusalem. The very slippery slope of land encroachment is clear.

Bethlehem and the Canucks

But, this time, leaving Bethlehem, we had definitely arrived at a “real,” completely unambiguous checkpoint. Eventually, another bus does arrive and we make it back into Jerusalem by way of the same checkpoint through which we’d earlier entered the West Bank. Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest, has arrived and there are no public buses to be had.

In English, I ask a soldier the best way is to get into town. He asks where I’m from. I tell him Canada. “Where?” he says. “Vancouver,” I answer. “Where?” he asks again. “Umm, East Van,” I respond. “Where?” I give him my intersection. “I’m from Oak and 41st,” he says. “Are you Jewish?” he asks. I nod. “You’re not really supposed to be in Bethlehem,” he tells me. I know that while parts of Bethlehem are Area A, and forbidden to Israelis, I’m not Israeli and figure my Canadian-ness supersedes my Jewishness. He doesn’t seem to think so.

The soldier takes off his yarmulke, the head covering required of observant Jews, and shows it to me. Embroidered on it is the logo of the Vancouver Canucks.

Another assumption dissipates.

Epilogue — September 14, 2010

I’ve been back in Vancouver now for about six weeks and my trip to Israel and Palestine is still sinking in. People have asked what my biggest “take aways” are from the trip. Here are just a few:

– It’s great to have one’s assumptions blown to smithereens. This is especially true for someone like me who can be a bit, shall we say, judgmental? The participants on the Taglit-Birthright trip managed to challenge nearly all the first impressions I had of them. The same can be said for many of the Israelis I spoke with — in particular, the soldiers. My only real contact with Israelis up until the trip was traveling in South America and coming across packs of post-army kids, constantly on the defensive. I found most Israelis to be more moderate than I had expected.

– Everyone wants to tell you their story. This was true for soldiers, who spoke of the immense social pressure to participate fully in army life, and of Palestinians dealing with incredible oppression. Art and storytelling has to be a fundamental way of dealing with conflict.

– The Jewish diaspora is a lot less progressive than much of the population of Israel. Diasporic Jews are pretty fast to call each other self-hating, while asking questions and engaging in dialogue is an integral part of Israeli culture.

– Taglit-Birthright is an incredibly smart program. By building social cohesion, as in my “birthright equation,” participants create bonds with each other and with the physical — and emotional — place. The program, despite its rhetoric to the contrary, makes critical thought difficult.

– The West Bank is simultaneously tiny and gigantic. Despite being filled with some of the most friendly people I’ve ever met, there is a heaviness there. While certainly not hopeless, most didn’t see an authentic peace process happening anytime soon.

– Many Israelis agree that Israel’s policies have had the (unintended?) consequence of increasing anti-Semitism around the world, but there is nonetheless an overwhelming sense of social cohesion and national unity clearly tied to military service.

– Hebron is just totally and completely screwed up. The settlers — religious fanatics from my point of view — just need to leave. Period.

People have asked if my politics have changed from the experience. Despite the unequivocal nature of my last take-away — some things are just wrong and I don’t want to be too sucked into relativism — they have. My politics are certainly more nuanced, as happens when you spend time with people from different backgrounds. I shifted my opinion on lots of specific policies and suspended my judgments about many people and how they live their lives. However, I wouldn’t say that my politics have changed on a fundamental level.

For me, it’s still about power. The IDF is one of the strongest militaries in the world. In 1967, Israel conquered a bunch of land that wasn’t its for the taking. People lived there. And those people are still coping with the occupation. Sure, anti-Semitism still exists, but, in terms of sheer power, the IDF could crush any country in the region. The once-oppressed too easily becomes the oppressor and what Israel is doing to the Palestinian people simply breeds more hatred around the world.

“With great power comes great responsibility,” as the old cliché goes, but I think it’s true. Consistently, I heard people say that the Arabs needed to take more responsibility for a peace process. I don’t necessarily disagree with that (or that Hamas isn’t a problematic part of the equation), but I feel that it’s Israel’s responsibility — and the responsibility of the Jewish diaspora as well — to be sure that responsibility is taken for moving a truly equitable peace process forward.

So, what next? The Palestinians and Israelis I spoke with didn’t think a resolution to the conflict was going to arrive soon, but there did seem to be a sense that the peace process and its ultimate terms would unfold more quickly this time. Over and over, I heard that Israelis are just tired of it all. Peace talks have begun since I returned to Canada, surely a positive sign. Netanyahu is going to have to prove that he can get his coalition together to continue the settlement expansion freeze. But the settler and conservative lobby in Israel is strong.

As Israelis repeated over and over again to me about the situation, “It’s complicated.” Of course it is. But, it’s also about power… and political will… and justice. As the young woman from the International Solidarity Movement said to me, “It’s the responsibility of all of us.”

Rachel Marcuse is a Vancouver-based activist, facilitator and apparatchick. The executive director of the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), a municipal political party, she also freelances, focussing on facilitation skills, youth-engagement and strategic planning. Her views do not necessarily represent the positions of any organization whatsoever.

Responding to Michael Oren, in his own words

Sep 17, 2010

Shakeel Syed

The following is a response to Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s September 15th editorial in the Los Angeles Times:

Imagine that you are a parent who sends her children off to school in the morning worrying whether they will be arbitrarily stopped, stripped nearly naked, and in most cases returned back home from an Israeli checkpoint without any redress process.

Imagine that, instead of going off to college, your children at age 18 are stripped of their dignity and honor and continue to remain colonized until they die.

Imagine that you live under perpetual fear as have your parents and even your grandparents; that you have seen Israeli bulldozers razing your home and olive trees and you have lost family and friends to the raining of military rockets or militant settler attacks under the auspices of Israeli military.

Picture all of that and you will begin to understand what it is to be a Palestinian. And you will know why all Palestinians have desperately striven for peace for more than sixty years.

Nearly all media reports have promoted the myth that Palestinians — who are currently experiencing economic growth (as recently reported by Rabbi Ken Chasen in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times) do not care about peace.

The truth is that what Palestinians want is to live with dignity and in safety from the American-made gunships and Apache helicopters raining white phosphorous bombs on civilians by the Israeli military. Yet they go about living their lives behind apartheid walls and checkpoints but fully determined to build a normal, fruitful society in the face of incredible adversity from the world’s sixth nuclear power.

Yes, many Palestinians are skeptical about peace, and who would not be? They continue to live under brutal occupation without food, water and medicine and instead receive thousands of missiles and bombs crashing into their homes and hospitals, mosques and playgrounds.

They continue to negotiate for decades in an attempt to live in peace side by side with their occupiers and yet their land continues to shrink and homes bulldozed.

Over the past six decades, seven million of the 11 million Palestinians are made refugees or displaced while tens of thousands are killed and maimed in their homes and fields. The world watches grieving Palestinian mothers and the “international community” keeps pleading for justice from Israel, while their rabbis and politicians praise their soldiers for killing unarmed Palestinian women and children trapped in camps and ghettos.

Given the Palestinian experience of never-ending trauma, it is astonishing that they still support the peace process at all, yet there is overt support by an overwhelming majority in the streets of Jerusalem, Bilin and Gaza.

Indeed, Palestinians have always grasped and gasped at opportunities for peace.

Whenever there was an attempt to achieve peace for Palestine and Israel, Palestinians passionately responded and even made even more painful concessions than the previous time. That most Palestinians are still willing to take incalculable risks for peace and are still willing to share their ancestral homeland with a people that has repeatedly tried to destroy them is nothing short of miraculous.

It’s true that Israel is a success story. The country has six world-class universities, more scientific papers and Nobel Prizes per capita than any other nation and the most advanced high-tech sector outside of the Silicon Valley. The economy is flourishing; tourism is at an all-time high while on the other side of the apartheid wall is some of the most egregious poverty, hunger, and unemployment on the planet. The Gaza Strip is widely believed to be the most densely populated area in the world. What good have all the Nobel Prizes and high-tech achievements done for these indigenous people?

No one should ever apologize for working for the inalienable right of self-determination. No one should ever tell the oppressed and dominated not to cry out for freedom from this apartheid occupation. Remarkably, the occupied have, over the past 60 years, deepened their commitment to peace. That yearning is expressed every day by the mother who risks her life to take her child to the hospital; by the young lady who dares to stand for hours at a military checkpoint in hopes that she will able to meet her beloved on the other side of the apartheid wall; by the young father who for the fourth time is randomly stopped by patrolling soldiers, stripped, humiliated, taunted, and held at gunpoint in front of all of his family. He knows that one day they will not release him at the end of this torturous ordeal.

These everyday Palestinians’ commitment to peace is different than that of those dignitaries who meet in ceremonies of and for the sake of peace and have their pictures taken while sipping fine wine in palaces and mansions. For everyday Palestinians who know all too well the life of perpetual apartheid occupation, that vision of peace is remains just out of reach. How long can they indulge in the luxury of hopefulness?

Shakeel Syed is the Executive Director at Islamic Shura Council of Southern California.

Why we are boycotting the Batsheva Dance Company

Sep 17, 2010

Adam Horowitz


The following is an open letter to the Batsheva Dance Company from two groups organizing a boycott of its upcoming shows in New York City: 

Dear Batsheva Dance Company,

We are a group of New York-based human rights activists and artists calling for a boycott of your performances at the Joyce Theater in New York City due to your collaboration with the Israeli state and its Brand Israel campaign. Launched in 2005, Brand Israel is a government public relations initiative which uses cultural productions to distract from Israel’s daily human rights violations.  In 2009 Arye Mekel of Israel’s Foreign Ministry stated, “We will send well-known novelists and writers overseas, theater companies, exhibits… This way you show Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war.” While efforts to promote a positive image of Israel abroad persist, Palestinians continue to suffer from Israeli state policies. 

Here are some of the realities the Brand Israel campaign would like to distract us from: Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestinian lands is the longest in modern history.  223 Jewish-only settlements and “outposts” on Palestinian land have been built in violation of International Law.  Israel has built an “Apartheid” wall in the West Bank that further appropriates Palestinian land and separates Palestinian farmers from their land.  The Israel Defense Forces have demolished over 24,000 Palestinian homes since 1967 and continue to do so. The 2009 invasion of Gaza  killed over 1400 Palestinians, prompting allegations of War Crimes by UN Fact Finding Mission Justice Richard Goldstone.

Even Batsheva artist director Ohad Naharin said in a 2005 interview: “I continue to do my work, while 20 km from me people are participating in war crimes….”  Batsheva continues to affirm its relationship with the Brand Israel campaign, as evidenced by the funding you receive from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the co-sponsorship of your New York performances by the Office of Cultural Affairs, Consulate General of Israel in New York.  The Joyce Theatre website describes Batsheva as “Israel’s national dance company.” 

Because of your ties to Brand Israel and in response to the Palestinian civil society call for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, we are calling for a local boycott of your performances at the Joyce Theater in New York (Sept. 21st-Oct. 3rd 2010).  The cultural boycott is part of the growingBoycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement which calls for a boycott of complicit institutions and companies until demands for equality are met, including the end to the military occupation of Palestinian land, equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the right of return for refugees, which is guaranteed by UN resolution 194.

Given the continued violation of human rights faced by Palestinians at the state’s hands, it is an immediate imperative that we stand in solidarity with Palestinians.  As artists and cultural workers we must take steps to resist our complicity in the crimes being committed, and to publicly renounce the state violence and repression that Palestinians continue to be subjected to every day. While some may hide behind the excuse that art is somehow apolitical, many artists of conscience are taking a stand. This includes a growing number of musicians, such as Elvis Costello, Carlos Santana, the Pixies, and Gil Scott-Heron who have refused to play concerts in Israel, as well as a group of Israeli actors who recently refused to perform in illegal Jewish-only West Bank settlements.

We hope that one day soon Batsheva will take a strong, unequivocal stance against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and in support of justice and equality for all.  Until then, we will continue to urge a popular boycott of your performances in New York City and elsewhere.


Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel

Artists Against Apartheid, New York City Chapter

Jewish groups denounce ‘Museum of Tolerance’ builder Simon Wiesenthal Center for support of Islamophobia

Sep 17, 2010

Alex Kane

New Yorkers protest Islamophobia (Photo: Bud Korotzer)

A coalition of four Jewish groups, backed by a wide array of peace and justice organizations, held a demonstration Sept. 16 outside the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance in New York, denouncing the organization’s opposition to the Islamic community center in lower Manhattan.

Organized by Jews Say No!, American Jews for a Just Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, about 100 demonstrators walked in front of the museum on East 42nd Street in midtown Manhattan, chanting “Islamophobia isn’t pretty, it has no place in New York City” and “Islamophobia is a shame, New Yorkers say not in our name.”

“If you’re going to put tolerance in your name, you got to put it in your game, and the Museum of Tolerance has not done that,” Jon Moscow, an activist with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, told members of the press. “Statements that its leaders have been making have been feeding this frenzy of Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism.”

As the Cordoba House controversy, manufactured and fueled by far-right blogs and the right-wing press, heated up, Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, appeared on Fox News in early August and criticized the proposed Muslim community center.  

“Having a 15-story mosque within 1600 feet of the site is at the very least insensitive,” Hier said.

The Park 51 Muslim community center, of which the Cordoba House interfaith center will be a part, has sparked an acrimonious national debate over Islam and religious freedom, setting the stage for an upsurge in anti-Muslim sentiment across the United States.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center describes itself as an “international Jewish human rights organization” that promotes “human rights and dignity.”

The Wiesenthal Center’s executive director, Rabbi Meyer May, told Crain’s New York that “religious freedom does not mean being insensitive … or an idiot.”

“The museum says its aim is ‘to challenge people of all backgrounds to confront their most closely held assumptions and assume responsibility for change.’ That’s a beautiful vision. But it’s one that is wholly inconsistent with the actions of the museum’s leadership,” said Hannah Schwarzschild of American Jews for a Just Peace.

Demonstrators also harshly criticized the center’s decision to build a Jerusalem branch of the Museum of Tolerance on top of a centuries-old Muslim cemetery, known as the Mamilla cemetery. They said that the center’s project, which has resulted in the “disinterment of hundreds of graves,” according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, is another example of the center disregarding the rights of Muslims.

“I’m just going to take a minute to tell you a new definition of a Yiddish word called ‘chutzpah.’ … It refers to brazen nerve,” said Richard Levy, a lawyer working with the Center for Constitutional Rights on a petition filed with several international bodies to halt the construction of the museum in Jerusalem. “This cemetery, which stands in West Jerusalem for a thousand years, is now subject to the bulldozer of this organization. So that’s the meaning of the word chutzpah: to say you stand for tolerance, and perform that kind of an act, is the most despicable kind of hypocrisy.”

Also speaking at the demonstration was Debbie Almontaser, herself the victim of a anti-Muslim, anti-Arab smear campaign reminiscent of the controversy over the Park 51 project that ultimately forced her to resign as the founding principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, a dual-language Arabic public school in Brooklyn.

“Why are the museum and Simon Wiesenthal leaders not taking a principled stand against the hatred of Islam and Muslims?” Almontaser asked. “I say to them: Be just. Speak to your mission.”  

This report originally appeared in the Indypendent.

Bil’in holds weekly protest as Abdallah Abu Rahmah faces two-year sentence

Sep 17, 2010

Adam Horowitz 

Here’s an update from the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee on the case of Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a leader in the Bil’in protests against the Wall:

The sentencing phase in the trial of Abdallah Abu Rahmah, the coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, began Wednesday at the Ofer Military Court. Abu Rahmah was convicted of organizing illegal marches and of incitement last month, but cleared of the violence charges he was indicted for – stone-throwing and a vindictive arms-possession charge for collecting used tear-gas projectiles and displaying them.

The prosecution demanded Abu Rahmah will be sent to prison for a period exceeding two years, saying that as an organizer, a harsh sentence is required to serve as a deterrence not only for Abu Rahmah himself, but to others who may follow in his footsteps as well. This statement by the prosecution affirms the political motivation behind the indictment, and the concern raised by EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, that “the possible imprisonment of Mr Abu Rahma is intended to prevent him and other Palestinians from exercising their legitimate right to protest against the existence of the separation barriers in a non violent manner.”

Another argument made by the prosecution in their demand of a harsh sentence, were the repercussions and expenses caused to the army by anti-Wall demonstrations. These which were presented in detail in a report by what the prosecution called an “expert witness”, who, in fact, is the Army’s Binyamin Brigade’s operations officer, Major Igor Mussayev.

The document includes many factual errors, such as mentioning seven Palestinian fatalities in Bil’in and Ni’ilin demonstrations, while in fact there were only six. In a ridiculous attempt to show that the military has no superiority over demonstrators, the “expert opinion” also claims that the effective range of rubber-coated bullets or 0.22″-caliber live ammunition is significantly lower than that of a slingshot. The report, in fact, claims that the effective range of a rubber-coated bullet is 50 meters – the minimal range of use according to army open fire regulations.

During the hearing, Major Mussayev claimed that all the weapons mentioned in the document are non-lethal crowd control measures. When asked specifically about the 0.22″ caliber bullets, which were explicitly classified as live ammunition by the military’s Judge Advocate General and banned for crowd control use, he replied that they too are crowd control measures. Such a reply from the officer in charge of operations in the brigade that deals with most West Bank demonstrations points to the army’s policy of negligent use of arms in the attempt to quash the Palestinian popular struggle.

The highly biased document presented to the court also detailed the expenses on ammunition shot at demonstrators (almost 6.5 million NIS between August 2008 to December 2009). It also mentioned the costs of erecting a concrete wall in Ni’ilin in order to prevent damage to the barrier (8.5 million NIS), but failed to mention the costs of rerouting the Wall in Bil’in due to the original path’s illegality, or the fact that even now, three years after the Supreme Court decision to reroute the Wall, it is still standing on its original path.

The hearing, which lasted more than three hours, saw a court-room packed with diplomats, representatives of international and Israeli human rights organizations, as well as friends and family members.

For the hearing’s protocol (in Hebrew) see here.

Ahmed Moor in the LA Times – ‘Rather than lecture on Israel’s desire for a lopsided ‘peace,’ Oren should begin to imagine a state in which each person is equal under the law’

Sep 17, 2010

Adam Horowitz

Mondoweiss’s very own Ahmed Moor hits the Los Angles Times Op-Ed page to respond to Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s recent Times editorial.

Moor starts:

Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Michael B. Oren, argues in his Sept. 15 Times Op-Ed article that Israelis want peace, and I believe him. They’ve said so often enough. But the Israelis want lots of other things too.

For instance, they want the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In addition, they want the Palestinian aquifers situated beneath the West Bank, and they want to preserve their racial privilege in the Jewish state. They also want to shear the Gaza Strip from Palestine.

Most of all, the Israelis want Palestinian quiescence in the face of Israeli wants. Those wants have made the two-state solution impossible to implement.

For decades, the Israelis have taken what they want from the Palestinians. Consequently, there are about 500,000 settlers in Jewish-only colonies in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Today, the Israelis are discovering that what one wants and what one can afford sometimes diverge.

Some Israelis — but apparently not Oren — are beginning to realize that the deep, irreversible colonization of territory comes with a price: the end of the Jewish state as it is. It’s a painful lesson to learn, especially after decades of superpower indulgence. America’s obsequious coddling turns out to have been a curse for the Jewish state. Serious cost-benefit analyses around occupation policies — collectively, apartheid — were evidently never conducted.

You really need to go read the entire masterful piece, but the ends bears posting as well:

To be fair, we Palestinians also want a lot. We want what people everywhere else do: to live as free human beings in our country, in the absence of a foreign military occupation. We want to return to our towns and cities that were ethnically cleansed of us in 1948. We want to vote for our government, the one that controls every aspect of our lives. We want a united Jerusalem. And, when the state is united, we want an ambassador who speaks for all of us, not just the Jewish half of the country.

Put differently, we want equality and justice.

In Jerusalem, Pipes suggests Muslim polygamy has ended ‘Jane Austen’ England

Sep 17, 2010 

Philip Weiss

Here is a snapshot of Jerusalem life. My wife and I go to dinner in the German Colony, a good neighborhood in West Jerusalem. We sit at the bar, and I ask for a Taybeh beer, the Palestinian beer brewed in Ramallah. They don’t have it, just German beer. As we eat, the bartender opens a huge bag of imported Italian coffee for the espresso machine.

We are surrounded by miles and miles of Arabian and Turkish coffees.

We walk home past a conference center. Former Israeli Ambassador Dore Gold is outside talking on a cell phone. Inside, Daniel Pipes is speaking, the U.S. neoconservative, the hall is sold out, but we jam in the back. The Hadar-Israel Council for Civic Action. He’s talking about the Muslim threat in Europe. England and Sweden have lost their essential character, England has given up the “Jane Austen” side of its culture for a new Muslim flavored England. “Before our eyes it is becoming a different country.”

Pipes concedes that you can’t kill the Muslims or put a “head tax” on the hijab. You have to encourage the “moderate” Muslims, the ones who believe in interest on savings accounts and are against slavery. (As if most Muslims oppose interest and are for slavery.)

The problem is not the hijab or the minarets, that is just “symbolic,” Pipes says. The problem is laws that allow polygamy. Apparently that is the thin edge of the wedge that will destroy western civilization, Muslim practice of polygamy! Pipes says that we must use all means we can to counter radical Islam, including “demographic” means. I am not sure what he means, but he suggests that means having more babies. Europeans are only having 2/3 of the babies they “need” to have to replace themselves. Immigrants are making up much of the rest.

The audience asks a bunch of questions that are intolerant of Islam. One woman with a strong accent calls Pipes naive and says that we should be dealing with the Muslim world as we should have dealt with the Nazis.

So Daniel Pipes is a liberal! Only in Jerusalem.

We leave and walk back to East Jerusalem, a half mile away. We are suddenly surrounded by people governed by Israel—but not citizens, “permanent residents,” whatever that means—who would have a very different perspective on Muslim life from Daniel Pipes or his audience.

Of course none of them was invited, none of them would feel safe coming. Inside the international city. 

They are here, but not really wanted here. Like the Taybeh beer and the Arabian coffee.

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By colonial design

Sep 17, 2010 

Adam Horowitz

Ann Stoler, the Willy Brandt Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology and Historical Studies at the New School for Social Research, endorses BDS:

As someone who has worked for some thirty years as a teacher and student of colonial studies– on comparative colonial situations, colonial histories, and the violent and subtle forms of governance on which colonial regimes rely, it would be difficult not to describe the Israeli state as a colonial one. It would be difficult not to recognize Israel’s past and ongoing illegal seizure of Palestinian land, the racialization of every aspect of daily life, and the large-scale and piecemeal demolition of Palestinian homes, destruction of livelihoods, and efforts to destroy the social and family fabric, as decimation by concerted and concentrated colonial design. These are the well-honed practices of regimes that define colonialisms and have flourished across the imperial globe. As with other colonial regimes, the Israeli state designates and redraws geographic borders, suspends Palestinian civil rights and arbitrarily transgresses what for Israelis are recognized and guarded as private space.

Israel is particular but it is not unique. Its techniques of occupation are based on unfounded uses of the legal apparatus of Israeli law. These are the practices of a colonial state committed to replacing and displacing a Palestinian population, and committed to its own expansion. That expansion is persistent, both surreptitious and blatant every day: room by room in the old city of Jerusalem, house by house in the spread of settler communities, meter by meter as the placement of the Wall in the name of “security” cuts through homes and fields, and divides neighborhoods while it infringes further into legally recognized Palestinian territories. At issue is both a confiscation of history and a confiscation of the future possibilities of those who today find their bedding thrown on the streets in the middle of the night by Israeli settlers.

If democracy is defined, as Hannah Arendt did, by “the right to have rights” for an entire population within the state’s jurisdiction, the Israeli state cannot be considered a democratic one. Nor can a democracy be founded on the principle of expulsion and the creation of a diasporic population shorn of its land, belongings and citizenship – a principle avidly embraced by Israel since l948. For these reasons, I confirm my support for the BDS international boycott of those Israeli institutions that actively or passively accept a status quo that condones and expands the occupation, violates international law, enforces military control and denies Palestinian rights to self-determination.

Following Israeli assassination of Hamas leader in Tulkarem, Israeli & PA forces detain opponents across the West Bank

Sep 17, 2010 


And other news from Today in Palestine:

* Land and Property Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

Barak may use legal loopholes to impose de facto settlement freeze
As Netanyahu evades U.S. pressure to halt construction, defense minister seeks alternative restrictions.
Israel says it won’t extend settlement curbs (AFP)
AFP – Israel reiterated on Friday its refusal to to extend curbs on settlement building that expire this month, despite US pressure and Palestinian threats to walk out of peace talks.*
Palestinians to quit talks if settlements built
CAIRO, Sept 16 (Reuters) – Palestinian negotiators will quit direct peace talks if Israel builds any new settlements after the end of a partial moratorium on construction in the West Bank, the Palestinian foreign minister said on Thursday.  “If one settlement is built after the end of the freeze, we will stop direct talks with Israel,” the minister, Riyad al Maliki, told reporters on the sidelines of an Arab League meeting in Cairo.
EU urges Israel to extend settlement freeze (AFP)
AFP – The European Union urged Israel on Thursday to extend its moratorium on settlement building, a key demand made by Palestinians to keep renewed peace talks afloat, a text obtained by AFP showed.*
Clinton urges Israel: Extend settlement freeze, even for a limited time
Secretary of State tells Channel 10 in an interview that such a move would be ‘extremely useful’ in advancing peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
Israel To Build 2500 Units in West Bank Settlement
The Israeli Radio reported Thursday that Israel intends to construct 25000 units in Modi’in Ilit settlements near the central West Bank city of Ramallah.
Al-Aqsa Foundation: New works at holy Jerusalem site
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — The Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage issued a statement Thursday saying Israel began work to build a bridge from the Mughrabi gate connecting it to the Al-Aqsa area in Jerusalem.
Israel-Palestinian talks end without settlement deal: What happens next?
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US envoy George Mitchell hopped on planes to seek the support of regional leaders, with only two weeks before the Israeli settlement freeze expires.
Dangers Of Negotiations Under Settlements
The Palestinian National Initiative, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and independent national figures organised yesterday a press conference at WATAN Media Center in Ramallah expressing their rejection to the negotiations that are being held under the settlements and because there is clear absence of terms of reference for the negotiations.
Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment
In photos: Leftist factions protest talks in Nablus
Sentencing begins for convicted grassroots activist
In a courtroom packed with foreign diplomats, Palestinian and Israeli human rights workers and political activists, the sentencing phase in the ongoing trial of Palestinian activist Abdallah Abu Rahme began at Israel’s Ofer Military Court on Wednesday, 15 September.
Israel at Abdallah Abu Rahma’s trial: .22 bullets are ok for crowd control
Military Prosecution Demands More Than Two Years Imprisonment for Bil’in’s Abdallah Abu Rahmah
Military prosecutor said harsh sentence should serve as a deterrent to other protesters. Despite military orders to the contrary, army officer said 0.22″ caliber bullets are considered crowd control measures.
BGU reprimands two more students over protests
Harsh and disproportionate penalty would bar students from political activism, says one student.
Aid convoys prepare to head to Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A Jordanian workers’ union will send 50 truckloads of aid to Gaza as part of the fifth Viva Palestina convoy, a spokesman for the British organization said Thursday.  Zahir Berawi said 50 trucks from Algeria would also join the European convoy when it reaches Syria in October. The convoy is due to leave London on Saturday and head to the Egyptian Al-Arish port.
TUC votes for campaign of boycott and disinvestment to free Palestine
vote at TUCBritain’s unions have thrown their weight behind a campaign of disinvestment and boycott from companies which are profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.  Trade unions voted unanimously today at the TUC’s annual conference for a motion put forward by the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), seconded by the GMB, and supported by UNSION, PCS (the Public and Commercial Services Union) and the FBU (Fire Brigades’ Union).
Indigenous resistance, from Colombia to Palestine
The mistreatment of the indigenous peoples of Colombia by the government of former president Alvaro Uribe Velez, appointed by the UN investigate Israel’s fatal attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, parallels Israel’s abuses of the indigenous people of Palestine. Anna Baltzer reports for The Electronic Intifada
An Unsettling Protest in Israel, Tony Kushner and Alisa Solomon
Toward the end of August, a group of theater artists in Israel provoked an uproar when they declared that they would not perform at a new stop added to government-funded theatrical tours around the country. That actors, directors and playwrights have sparked controversy is nothing new in a nation where theater has always participated in the feisty public discourse. But this time, with Washington trying to resuscitate Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, their offstage action holds a mirror up to society with especially urgent exactitude.
Pressure grows on Harvard to cancel Peretz honor, Adam Horowitz
The Harvard Social Studies Committee is meeting tomorrow to make a final decision on whether to move forward with their event planned to honor Marty Peretz. A source at Harvard tells me, “there is a LOT of internal dissent on this.” One sign of that dissent is this open letter that is ciruclating from “concerned members of the Social Studies Community and others at Harvard.”
The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian/Restriction of Movement/Human Rights/Racism
Three rescued from Gaza tunnel
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Three Palestinians were rescued from suffocating while working in a smuggling tunnel under Gaza’s border with Egypt on Thursday, medics said.  Medical coordinator Adham Abu Selmia said civil defense crews evacuated the men, treating one on the scene. Red Crescent ambulances transferred two of them to Abu Yousef An-Najjar hospital, where their condition was described as stable.  Several Palestinians have died as a result of tunnel collapses. The underground tunnel complex was created along the Egypt-Gaza border to bring supplies into the Strip in the wake of Israel’s siege on the coastal enclave.  The tunnels are used to transport a number of goods made unavailable as a result of the siege, including fuel, food, medicines, livestock, vehicles, and, according to Israel, weapons.
10 injured in Gaza tunnels
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Ten Gaza residents were injured in two tunnels accidents on Friday morning, medics said, with one man still missing beneath the Gaza-Egypt border.  Military medical services spokesman Adham Abu Salmya said Civil Defense crews were able to evacuate six tunnel workers from one passageway after they reported being incapacitated by a noxious gas present in the underground terminal.
Gaza crossings closed for weekend
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — As PA officials confirmed an impending take over of operations of the Kerem Shalom crossing, Israeli officials informed their Palestinian counterparts that the Gaza terminal would be closed on Friday.  Palestinian coordination official Raed Fattouh said that “we were informed by the Israelis that the Kerem Sahlom and Karni crossings would be totally sealed on Friday and Saturday to be opened again on Sunday.”
UNRWA head makes plea to Arab League on behalf of Palestine refugees
The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Filippo Grandi, expressed thanks to the Arab States and the Arab League’s Secretariat for their continued support to UNRWA and for the Palestine refugees served by the Agency. Speaking at the meeting of the League’s Foreign Ministers’ Council in Cairo, Grandi called on Arab leaders to bolster their support for the refugees during a period of unprecedented financial difficulty for the Agency. The Agency continues to face an US$ 80 million shortfall and is expecting a deficit situation again in 2011. The impact of the shortfall had direct consequences for the refugees with the Agency unable, for example, to absorb nearly 40,000 students into schools in Gaza at the start of the current school year.
Gaza Electric asks PA to modify bill payment scheme
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The Gaza Electricity Company has asked the Palestinian Authority to adjust its automatic payment deduction from civil servant salaries, officials said Thursday.  Company spokesman Jamal Ad-Dardasawi told Ma’an that a system put in place a month earlier would automatically deduct 170 shekels ($45) from salaries of 50,000 civil servants on the PA payroll regardless of whether the individuals were up to date on bill payments.
Closure of tourist facilities intensifies concerns in Gaza
GAZA, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) — Sitting in a chair inside a restaurant that overlooks the beach of Gaza, Mo’een Abul Kheir, the owner of al-Samak (Fisherman) restaurant on Gaza city’s seaside, is not able to hide his concerns and anxiety about his business following the closure of several tourism facilities in the coastal Gaza Strip by the deposed government of Hamas.  He is not optimistic about the future of his business and the future of the tourist industry in the enclave “in case the government (of Hamas) continues its harassment against coffee shops, hotels and restaurants, an industry that has already suffered from a deteriorated economic situation due to the ongoing Israeli siege.
Dreaming of Fish, and Flowers, Mohammed Omer
GAZA CITY, Sep 16, 2010 (IPS) – As the many colours of the fish and flowers slowly disappear from the Gaza landscape, the already grim prospects of the besieged residents begins to look even bleaker.
Shopping mall opens in Gaza
Israeli blockade limits what goods are available in new air-conditioned centre.
PCHR Participate in Mission to 15th Session of UN Human Rights Council 
Palestinian Center for Human Rights Ref: 69/2010 From 13-17 September 2010, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) participated in a joint mission to the 15 th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. The mission was organized by the Euro-Med Human Rights Network and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, and also included a representative of Al Haq. PCHR was represented.
Nablus to host Palestine Human Rights Film Festival
NABLUS (Ma’an) — The largest university in the northern West Bank will host its first human rights film festival at the end of September, organizers announced on Wednesday.  Starting 26 September and running through the end of the month at the Zafr Masri Theater on the university’s old campus, a series of films will be accompanied with talks and video conferences to organizations in other cities and countries also working in the field of human rights.
* Violence/Aggression & Provocations

Hamas fighter killed in West Bank
Israeli troops shoot dead local commander of armed group in raid on his home in Nur Shams refugee camp.
Hamas Vows Revenge for Israeli Killing of Senior Operative near Tulkarem
17/09/2010 Hamas on Friday threatened retaliation over the killing of Iyad abu Shilbayeh, formerly a senior operative in the resistance organization, who was killed during an Israeli raid east of the West Bank city of Tulkarem overnight.  Hamas accused Israel and the Palestinian Authority of conspiring to kill Shilbayeh, who was imprisoned and tortured by the PA several times.  Hamas military spokesman in Gaza Abu Obeida confirmed Shilbayeh was a member of the group’s armed wing: “The blood of our martyr will be a curse that will follow the occupation and the traitors,” he said. Hamas spokesman Salah Bardawil told the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency that the “resistance is capable of striking harshly at the occupation. Our battle with the occupation is not just about action and retaliation. It is a fateful battle that will never end.”
B’Tselem: Tulkarem assassination unjustified
TULKAREM (Ma’an) — A field worker for Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem who investigated the scene of Friday’s assassination of a Tulkarem man by Israeli forces called the killing “unjustified.”  Speaking with Ma’an less than 12 hours after 38-year-old Iyad As’ad Shelbaya was killed by three gunshot wounds to the neck and chest, Eid As-Sa’di said Israeli statements as to how the death occurred were implausible.  Witnesses said Israeli forces blasted their way into Iyad’s home. The slain man’s brother said he heard Iyad say three times, “Who’s there?”, and that the words were followed by three gunshots.
Officer accused of shooting car thief to receive legal help
Jeruslalem Post 16 Sep 2010 – Police chief says F.-Snt. Bora Ratzon, who is being investigated by Justice Ministry for death of east J’lem theif, is to receive assistance. [Pretty sure east J’lem theif is code for Arab]
* Detainees

Israeli military detains 18 from northern West Bank
TULKAREM (Ma’an) — The Israeli military said 18 were detained overnight from the West Bank, including nine in Tulkarem and at least one in Jenin.  Accounts from witnesses of two of the detentions said soldiers entered the homes of the men, ransacking their contents and breaking windows.  In Tulkarem, the mother of 32-year-old Mohammad Yaser Al-Jayousi said soldiers entered his home in the city’s As-Suwanah neighborhood and smashed several doors, broke windows and scattered the contents of drawers.
Army Kidnaps Three In Hebron
Israeli soldiers kidnapped on Thursday at dawn three Palestinians from the southern West Bank city of Hebron and took them to unknown destinations.
* Israel’s Arab Helpers

Hamas: PA forces detain 53 overnight
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hamas officials in the West Bank accused Palestinian security forces of detaining 53 members and affiliates overnight, a statement said.  The alleged detentions came as Israeli forces entered Nur Shams refugee camp east of Tulkarem and assassinated a Hamas leader, also detaining at least nine other Hamas members, according to Palestinian security forces.
Nine PFLP Members Detained By P.A Security Forces In Bethlehem
Legislator Khalida Jarrar, member of the Political Bureau of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) started Thursday that Palestinian security forces arrested nine PFLP members from the Doheisha refugee camp in Bethlehem.
Abbas’s militia raid home of MP Abu Juhaisha in Al-Khalil
Elements of the “notorious” PA preventive security apparatus under the command of Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank stormed on Thursday night the house of Hamas MP Mohammed Abu Juahaisha. [Hamas website, may not be accessible to all]
Families of Kidnapped Hamas supporters say sons are tortured in PA jails
Families of kidnapped Hamas members and supporters incarcerated in the PA jails asserted Thursday that their sons were exposed to severe forms of torture and for long hours. [Hamas website, may not be accessible to all]
Rights group demands end to political arrests
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has condemned what it termed the continued arbitrary political arrests carried out by Palestinian security services in the West Bank targeting members of Hamas.  The group says Hamas members are subjected to detention and maltreatment in violation of the law. The latest arrest wave, which it says is part of an arbitrary arrest campaign against members of Hamas movement following a deadly attack against Israeli settlers near Hebron, was carried out against dozens of Palestinian civilians in the southern West Bank district.  In a statement Thursday, the group reiterated its calls on the Palestinian Authority and its security services to refrain from carrying out arbitrary arrest campaigns, immediately release all the political prisoners, and put an end to political arrests.
* War Crimes Past and Present

Amnesty condemns ‘lack of accountability’ after Gaza war
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A year after a UN fact-finding mission concluded that both Israelis and Palestinians committed war crimes, possible crimes against humanity and other violations of international law during the 2008 conflict in Gaza and southern Israel, Amnesty International condemned the “continuing absence of accountability” and warned that hopes for justice hang in the balance.
Marking massacre, PLO calls to protect refugees
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The head of the PLO Refugee Affairs Department on Thursday demanded justice and protection for Palestinian refugees on the 28th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre.  Zakaria Al-Agha called on the UN Security Council to prosecute those responsible for the massacre in the International Court of Justice. He said nearly 3,500 Palestinian refugees were killed in the Sabra and Shatila camps at the direct order of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon.
Return to Shatila, William A. Cook
Twenty eight years ago, a scene of unspeakable horror rocked the rubble strewn alleys of Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut as vengeance vied with naked lust in a massive display of human malice illuminated for the IDF overseers of this massacre with flares that provided “an unobstructed and panoramic view” for Israeli Defense Minister, Ariel Sharon and his Chief of Staff, Rafael Eitan, as they watched from the seven story Kuwaiti embassy providing logistical support for their Phalangist allies as they “massacred for 36 to 48 hours” the hapless Palestinians imprisoned in the camps.
Reham Alhelsi – 28 Years Later: Sabra and Shatila Massacre
28 years later, I remember Sabra and Shatila. I remember that Palestinians are targeted everywhere. I think of those among us steadfast in our land refusing to leave despite the daily Zionist terror, and think of those in the Diaspora dreaming and waiting for the return. We are the parts that make Palestine full; we are one body and when one part of Palestine bleeds, all of Palestine bleeds. I remember every massacre and every crime committed against the Palestinians. And despite the hopes, the wishes and aims of the Zionists, every massacre, every drop of Palestinian blood, every cry of a Palestinian child makes us stronger, more steadfast, more resolute to fight the occupation and the oppression. With every massacre and with every crime we grew closer and stood as one; one body aching for freedom. With every massacre and with every crime we cry for every victim of oppression, we go to the streets for every martyr and every wounded and every prisoner, we protest every injustice and demand our legitimate rights. It is our unity that makes us strong, a blood bond that not the Zionist entity, not the US, not even the treacherous Palestinians could break.
* “Peace” Talks/Political Developments

Arab League refuses to recognize Israel as Jewish state
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo on Thursday decided to reject a demand made by Israel, asking Palestinian negotiators recognize Israel as a Jewish state.  In a statement issued after the meeting, the Arab League supported President Mahmoud Abbas’ refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Palestinian negotiators have recognized Israel’s right to exist, but not as a Jewish state, which officials say would prejudice the right of return for refugees and violate the rights of Israel’s non-Jewish residents.
PA issues string of condemnations at cabinet meeting
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Authority cabinet meeting on Thursday affirmed its support for negotiations efforts, aiming at reaching a political solution that ends the Israeli occupation and enables the achievement of Palestinian goals of an independent Palestinian state.  It also reaffirmed the importance of international efforts to oblige Israel to end settlement activities in the occupied territories including Jerusalem and continuing its support to the government plan to build state institutions as a prelude for independence.
US interested in comprehensive Mideast peace: Mitchell (AFP)
AFP – US envoy George Mitchell said in Damascus on Thursday that Washington was interested in a comprehensive resolution of the Middle East conflict that included peace between Syria and Israel.*
Hamas: Gaza attacks attempt to destroy Palestinian cause
GAZA (Ma’an) — Hamas said Thursday that Israeli rhetoric which uses the launching of projectiles from Gaza to “justify targeting civilians” is an attempt to destroy the Palestinian cause.  Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that strikes on Gaza affirmed the credibility of Hamas’ stance that Palestinians would pay heavily for negotiations, which he said were a cover for Israeli violations.
Bahar warns Abbas against conceding Palestinian rights
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A Hamas leader said Thursday that the holding of direct peace talks at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Jerusalem residence was a “very dangerous” indicator of the nature of negotiations.  Deputized PLC speaker Ahmad Bahar said that by agreeing to talks at Netanyahu’s home in Jerusalem, President Mahmoud Abbas legitimized Israel’s racist policies in the occupied city.
Report: Israel preps for PA return to Gaza
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — In an effort to increase the Palestinian Authority’s influence inside Gaza, Israel and the PA are finalizing plans to deploy Palestinian officials at a crossing to the Strip in the coming months, an Israeli newspaper reported Thursday.  Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Eitan Dangot told The Jerusalem Post that in July he established a committee with Hussein Ash-Sheikh, the Ramallah-based minister for civilian affairs, to coordinate the expansion of the Gaza Strip’s southern Kerem Shalom crossing and future international construction projects in Gaza.
PNA “unaware” of plans to get control of Gaza crossings
RAMALLAH, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) — The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) on Thursday said it was unaware of Israeli plans to let it take part in controlling a key commercial crossing point in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.  “The PNA did not receive any official Israeli offer or even contacts about running the Gaza Strip crossings,” Ghassan al- Khatib, a spokesman for the Palestinian government in Ramallah, told Xinhua.
Report: US envoy’s spokesman quits
WASHINGTON (Ma’an) — US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell’s spokesman has quit, a US politics blog reported Thursday.  Jonathan Prince, the deputy assistant secretary of state who handled strategic communications for Mitchell’s team, has left for the communications firm of Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter & Associates, Politico reported.  In a short interview, Prince told the blog how regional media have contributed to a state of chaos surrounding the peace negotiations.
* Other News

The Underpinnings of the Future Palestinian State:  Sustainable Growth and Institutions,  Economic Monitoring Report to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee,  September 21, 2010
Israeli curbs stymie Palestinian economy: World Bank (AFP)
AFP – The World Bank warned on Thursday that the Palestinians will be unable to build a viable state unless Israel lifts its restrictions that stymie private investment in the Palestinian territories.*
Israel decides to buy F-35 fighter jets, despite row over cost of deal
Barak gave his go-ahead last month to purchase the jets in a deal valued at around $2.75 billion. The first planes are expected to arrive in 2015.
How a soldier’s pizza landed Haaretz in a West Bank police station
A Haaretz team was detained at the Qalandiyah checkpoint in the West Bank yesterday after telling a soldier who had closed the checkpoint he should not be eating pizza and holding up the traffic mid-shift.
IDF to draft 30 percent of yeshiva students by 2015
Army and the National Economic Council reach new deal on ultra-Orthodox conscription, now set to go before the Supreme Court.
Ovadia Yosef atones to Mubarak after declaring Palestinians should die
Shas spiritual leader had asked God to deliver a plague to Abbas and the Palestinians and ‘all the evil people’ in this world.
Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest
Can ignoring Hamas lead to Israeli-Palestinian peace?
Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls Gaza, is being ignored in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Some think that’s a big mistake.
Feeling the loyalty to the Jewish state, Max Blumenthal and Joseph Dana
The Israeli Knesset is debating a bill proposed by David Rotem of the extreme right Yisrael Beiteinu party that would require all Israeli citizens to swear loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state.” This bill is targeted at increasing pressure on the twenty percent of Israelis who are Palestinian citizens while forcing the ultra Orthodox Jewish minority who reject the legitimacy of any state not based on Jewish biblical law to accept Zionism. If passed in its proposed form, citizens unwilling to take the loyalty oath would be at risk of losing citizenship.
Suspicion prevails
MAWAL restaurant is a favourite haunt of Jenin’s shisha-smoking professors, politicians and policemen for whiling away the nights. A decade ago it was a battlefield. After negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians collapsed at Camp David in 2000, gunmen traded fire in the city, heralding the violent second intifada.  It is hard to imagine Mawal falling back into ruin. The northern West Bank city of Jenin, once home to 30-odd suicide bombers and a plethora of rival fighting groups, is today a picture of Palestinian normality. The 500-plus American-trained security men whom Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, sent to the city in May 2008 have chased out gangland militants and criminals, and prevented attacks on Israelis even when their soldiers raid the refugee camp in central Jenin. Former fighters speak of a new era of law and order in which police impose fines of 500 shekels ($133) for talking on a mobile phone while driving. Jewish settlers near Jenin cast less of a shadow over the city than they do elsewhere in the West Bank, in part because Israel’s government dismantled four nearby settlements in 2005.
Aluf Benn / In Israel, a criminal conviction doesn’t mean an end to political favors
The cosy relationship between a minister awaiting sentence for perjury, the defense minister and the chief of the Mossad.
The Search for 1948, Hannah Mermelstein
The following is a chapter from the important new book Shifting Sands: Jewish Women Confront the Israeli Occupation. From the book’s website, “Shifting Sands brings to life the Jewish anti-occupation perspective through personal stories by activists such as Starhawk, Anna Baltzer, Jen Marlowe, Alice Rothchild, Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein (of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla) and others.” The book also includes introductory material from Cindy Sheehan and Amira Hass. Shifting Sands is available on
Witness – Preview: The Business of Occupation
Witness presenter Ghida Fakhry talks to director Tom Evans and field producer Ghassan Khader about their series of films ‘Nablus, The Business of Occupation’.
* Lebanon

‘Obama wants to restore Lebanon aid Congress feared would be used against Israel’
Senior administration and congressional officials say that the president believes it to be in the security interests of both America and the Mideast to lift holds on $100 million in assistance to Lebanon Army.
Hizbullah denies producing ‘target’ card deck
BEIRUT: Hizbullah’s spokes-man on Thursday strongly denied media reports that the party has produced a pack of playing cards bearing images of Israeli officials to be targeted in potential assassinations.
Lebanon summons general on comments
Move comes after Jamil Sayyed, who spent four years in jail, launched a harsh attack on Saad Hariri and his government.
Hezbollah deputies say no funding for Lebanon tribunal (AFP)
AFP – Hezbollah MPs and their allies in Lebanon on Thursday refused to approve funding for a UN-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, lawmakers said.*
Report: Lebanese Forces Attorney in Charge of Siddiq’s Asylum Request in France
16/09/2010 The Lebanese daily Al-Binaa quoted “a Christian opposition parliamentary source” as saying that the false witness in former PM Rafiq Hariri’s assassination in 2005, Mohamed Zuheir Siddiq, was seeking asylum in France. In the report titled: “Siddiq’s asylum in the hands of a Lebanese Forces attorney,” the source said that “for this purpose, Siddiq assigned a French attorney from Lebanese origins.” He added that “the attorney was before 2005 a member of a disbanded political party and that he informed Siddiq that a French intelligence officer was personally working with the intelligence apparatus in Paris (DST) to back Siddiq’s request.”  In 1994, the Lebanese government disbanded the Lebanese Forces party and its leader Samir Geagea was convicted of several crimes including the assassination of former Prime Minister Rashid Karameh in 1987. Geagea received a pardon right after Hariri’s assassination and was released from jail, but he was never acquitted.
Without Protection
This 54-page report reviews 114 Lebanese judicial decisions affecting migrant domestic workers. It finds that lack of accessible complaint mechanisms, lengthy judicial procedures, and restrictive visa policies dissuade many workers from filing or pursuing complaints against their employers.
* Iraq

Thursday: 1 US Soldier, 12 Iraqis Killed; 12 Iraqis Wounded
One U.S. soldier was killed and another was wounded while attempting to defuse an explosive device in Balad. Meanwhile, at least 12 Iraqis were killed and 12 more were wounded in attacks across the country.
Three day of mourning declared in Fallujah
The Iraqi city of Fallujah has declared three-day long mourning after a joint U.S.-Iraqi attack on the city killed at least 10 civilians and injured many others.  The raid on Wednesday has raised tensions and angered the city’s inhabitants as well as the nearly two million Muslim Sunnis who live in the Province of Anbar, west of Baghdad.  The Muslim Scholars Association, a group of powerful Muslim Sunni clerics in Iraq, described the raid as “a massacre in which two children were killed.”  U.S. and Iraqi officials claim that the raid killed a former Iraqi officer linked to al-Qaeda group in the country.  But the claim could not be substantiated and eyewitnesses and officials in the city said all the dead and injured were civilians.\2010-09-16\kurd.htm
Iraq was ‘failure of strategic thinking’, chief of defence staff tells MPs
Sir Jock Stirrup tells select committee that politicians did not understand the consequences of invading Iraq.  British soldiers in Iraq were “dying for no strategic benefit” because Tony Blair’s government did not appreciate what it was taking on when it planned the invasion, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, the chief of defence staff, has told MPs.  There was a “failure of strategic thinking” in southern Iraq, he told the Commons public administration committee. Stirrup, who retires next month, was asked if the politicians appreciated what they were taking on when British forces went into southern Iraq. He replied: “No.”
Arab FMs condemn human right violations during Iraq occupation of Kuwait
CAIRO, Sept 16 (KUNA) — The Arab League’s ministerial council reiterated Thursday condemnation of the human rights violations committed by the deposed Iraqi regime during its occupation of the State of Kuwait.  In the aftermath of the seven-month long occupation, between August 2, 1990, and February 28, 1991, the Iraqi authorities tended to conceal and blur the facts relating to the Kuwaitis missing in action and prisoners of war (M. and POWs). The bodies of many M. and POWs were found in mass graves later on.
Christian community of Iraq halved in seven years
The number of Christians in Iraq has dwindled to half of what it was before the American invasion in 2003, an Iraqi official said.  Abdallah Al-Nofali, head of the government’s Bureau for the Endowments of Christians and Other Religions, said in an interview with the Arab daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat that according to a recent survey some 40 percent of Iraqi refugees in Syria are Christian.  According to UN statistics, 1.5 million Christians of different sects were living in Baghdad before the American invasion.  “The majority of Christians left Iraq because of religious persecution by extremists,” Joe Obayda, an Iraqi ex-pat living in England told The Media Line. “Today there are less than 500,000 Christians left in Iraq.”
Iraq: Stop Blocking Demonstrations
(New York) – Iraqi authorities should stop blocking peaceful demonstrations and arresting and intimidating organizers, Human Rights Watch said today. Iraqi security forces should also respect the right of free assembly and use only the minimum necessary force when violence occurs at a protest.  After thousands of Iraqis took to the streets in the summer of 2010 to protest a chronic lack of government services, Iraqi authorities cracked down on demonstrations. The Interior Ministry issued onerous regulations about public protests, and the prime minister’s office apparently issued a secret order instructing the interior minister to refuse permits for demonstrations about power shortages. In the past few months, the government has refused to authorize numerous requests for public demonstrations, with no explanation. Authorities have also arrested and intimidated organizers and protesters, and policing actions have led to deaths and injuries. The clampdown has created a climate of fear among organizers and demonstrators.
* U.S. and Other World News

US: Selling arms to Israel national interest
Ministerial committee led by Netanyahu, Barak authorizes purchase of most advanced fighter jet in world at cost of NIS 10 billion. First F-35 plane to ‘make aliyah’ in 2015.,7340,L-3955431,00.html
US poverty level hits record
The US authorities has announced that 14 per cent of Americans are living in poverty, the highest level since 1994. The government defines poverty as a family of four living on less than $22,000 a year. The statistics cover President Barack Obama’s first year in office, when the recession left millions of people out of work and unemployment climbed to more than 10 per cent. The report’s release comes just weeks before the economy takes centre stage in upcoming US elections. Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds reports from El Centro, California.
One in five American children is living in poverty
The Census figures are for 2009, and the number living in or near poverty has no doubt continued to increase this year, with the official unemployment rate remaining near 10 percent and the combined rate of unemployment and underemployment at nearly 17 percent.
The Nation: Docs Reveals Blackwater-Linked Companies Provided Intel & Security to Multinationals Like Monsanto, Chevron
Uruknet September 16, 2010 – “Blackwater’s Black Ops”—that’s the title of an explosive new article in The Nation magazine that reveals how entities closely linked with the private security firm Blackwater have provided security and intelligence services to a range of powerful corporations over the past several years.
Michael Moore calls Canada ‘shameful’ on U.S. war dodgers
Renowned left-wing American documentary maker Michael Moore on Thursday blasted Canada’s position on U.S. war dodgers as shameful.  Speaking at the Toronto International Film Festival, Moore said Ottawa’s refusal to allow U.S. soldiers opposed to the war in Iraq to find safe haven in this country betrays what the country once stood for.–michael-moore-calls-canada-shameful-on-u-s-war-dodgers
Dismantle America’s Military Behemoth, Jacob G. Hornberger
An article in last Sunday’s New York Times provided an interesting analysis of the Egyptian military, one that holds some important lessons for America.
Never Forget: Bad Wars Aren’t Possible Unless Good People Back Them, Michael Moore
I know we’ve been “free” of the Iraq War for two weeks now and our minds have turned to the new football season and Fashion Week in New York. And how exciting that the new fall TV season is just days away!
Afghan elections’ obstacle course
Afghanistan faces several hurdles as it prepares for Saturday’s parliamentary elections. Poll officials have admitted that the electoral process is far from perfect as fake voting cards circulate across the country. In addition, the Taliban has vowed to boycott the vote, threatening to blow up roads and attack election workers. Al Jazeera’s Sue Turton reports from Kabul, the Afghan capital.
Afghan War Lies; Support for Occupation Relies on Lies and Spin, Ted Rall
If the armies of another nation invade your country, there is no need to resort to lies to sell war. The battle is already joined. The threat is palpable. Anyone with a smidgen of patriotism and/or the instinct of self-preservation will rush to enlist.
International Days of Action in Solidarity with Bradley Manning: September 16-19, 2010
The ANSWER Coalition, along with other organizations, is actively mobilizing to build public support to defend Private Bradley Manning, Wikileaks and all those who are being targeted for severe repression for revealing (or allegedly revealing) “secrets” that expose war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bradley Manning.  Bradley Manning is a 22-year-old soldier who was stationed in Iraq. He was arrested and has been held incommunicado for months. He is charged with releasing a graphic video of an attack in April 2007 by a U.S. Apache helicopter that killed a group of journalists and civilians. The Pentagon had refused to release the video of the attack, which had been requested in a Freedom of Information Act request by Reuters news service. Two Reuters employees were killed, numerous civilians were massacred and two children were severely wounded in the attack. The video became a major scandal when it was released by WikiLeaks. Manning is now imprisoned at the Marine Base in Quantico, Va.
Report: Peres, Turkey president to meet on sidelines of UN assembly
Meet would be first of its kind between high level government representatives since Israeli raid on Gaza-bound aid flotilla in May.
Russia: We will provide Syria with advanced missiles, despite Israel, U.S. protests
Remark by Russia defense minster comes amid reports that Israeli officials, including PM Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak, had reportedly warned arms could be used by Hezbollah.
Syria’s Muslim Brothers: Where to next?
The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood’s recent selection of a new general guide is generating speculation about the group’s trajectory after a period in which it gave up most opposition activities. Mohammad Riyadh al-Shaqfih, elected in July after former guide Ali Sadreddine al-Bayanouni’s third term, served as a Muslim Brotherhood military leader in the 1980s.
Hundreds of Syrians begin visit from occupied Golan
DAMASCUS: Hundreds of Syrians living in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights began a five-day visit to Syria on Thursday, most of them for the first time in more than 40 years, official media reported.
Egypt paper accused of faking photo
Al Ahram, Egypt’s oldest Arabic-language daily newspaper, has come under fire for publishing an apparently doctored photograph showing leaders involved in the Middle East peace process. In the original photo, Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, is trailing behind the rest of leaders down the red carpet. However, in the altered version, he is seen leading the group. Al Ahram declined to comment on the matter.
Anger over photo doctored to put Mubarak in front
CAIRO // Opponents of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak are outraged that the nation’s largest  newspaper published a photograph of him that it apparently altered to make him appear more vigorous.  Al Ahram, Egypt’s oldest and largest circulation state-owned daily, published the photo on Tuesday. The altered photo shows Mr Mubarak striding ahead of a group of politicians during a meeting last week at the US White House.
* Islam in the West

Woody Allen: Build The Mosque
Woody Allen is very clearly in favor of the proposed Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero. At the premiere of his new film “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” this week, Allen shared his feelings on the Cordoba House with “Inside Edition.” “I’m for the building of the mosque,” Allen said. “I think that all the people weighing in on it except for the people that lost someone at Ground Zero…are exploitative, fake frauds using it for personal reasons and political reasons.”
House Republicans pal around with anti-Muslim, anti-Black racist David Yerushalmi, Alex Kane
It should come as no surprise that elected officials are aiding and abetting anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S., especially with mid-term elections nearby. But it was still a little shocking to read Think Progress national security blogger Matt Duss’ post on a newly released report titled “Sharia: The Threat to America.”  Duss writes that the report, authored by the neoconservative Center for Security Policy, was presented to Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI). Here’s the slightly shocking part: also attending the event Duss reported on was David Yerushalmi, the general counsel for the Center for Security Policy.
The advance of the anti-Muslim movement across America, Paul Woodward
Shariah: The Threat to America, a report released by the Center for Security Policy in Washington DC on Wednesday, is an attempt to provide a veneer of seriousness in support of the hysterical ravings of people like Pamela Geller.  The fact that Washington’s foreign policy establishment won’t take the report seriously is beside the point since Islamophobia needs neither the consent nor the interest of the establishment or the mainstream media in order to continue its advance across America.
Don’t Mess With My Burqa, Monsieur, Pepe Escobar
I’m already making plans to arrive at terminal 2 of Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris in the spring of 2011 sporting my burqa. The cruel doubt is, which one? Shall I deplane swathed in the classic light blue I used to cross to Talibanistan? Or the slick black number I once used to cross to the tribal areas? The ultra-chic dark green I got at Peshawar’s bazaar, perhaps?  The mere thought of the possibilities once I disembark from Air France business class – where they won’t dare tamper with my burqa — and hit immigration, gives me such a thrill. Will they fine me 150 euros right away? Will they dispatch me to a “civic education” course? Will they simply denounce me to fashion police? Better yet – will they call a Chanel representative and book me a show?
Muslim Americans existed before September 11, 2001
I live in Harlem on a street that is home to three churches and a mosque. The mosque is next door to one of those churches and when male congregants mingle on the sidewalk, it’s impossible to tell who had just been in church and who in the mosque. It’s only some of the women’s headscarves that tell you.
A real clash of civilizations
Several events over the past few weeks should serve as a warning that things are changing for Muslims in America. The particularly vocal opposition to plans for an Islamic cultural center near the site of the 9/11 attacks, followed by the threat by a Florida pastor to publicly burn a Koran, are signs that Muslims in America are becoming increasingly targeted.
Regarding US Muslims: A Misguided Debate, Ramzy Baroud
Laurie Goodstein’s article, ‘American Muslims Ask, Will We Ever Belong?’ was intended as a sympathetic reading of the concerns of US Muslim communities facing increasing levels of hostility and fear. While generally insightful and sensibly written, the article also highlights the very misconceptions that riddle the bizarre debate pitting American Muslims against much of the government, the mainstream media and most of the general public.
The Great Muslim Scare, LAWRENCE DAVIDSON
In the year 1951 the American working class intellectual Eric Hoffer described those he called the True Believers. These are people who are alienated from their present conditions and suffer feelings of insecurity and uncertainty about the way their lives and communities are heading. To set things straight they seek out movements, either of the right or the left, that claim to have assured answers to problems while offering comfort and solidarity in a fellowship of like believers. The leaders of such movements often can be demagogues who expect their followers to be, well, true believers. The one and the many are made for each other in this regard. The solution to problems almost always entails conspiracy theories and the confronting of enemies, both internal and external. In generally uncertain and fearful times, more and more of the citizenry can be pulled into such movements, attracted by leaders who are assertive in a mesmerizing way. All societies have such true believers in them and today’s America is no exception.

Brooklyn-Jenin: On the banality of good and evil

Sep 17, 2010

 Udi Aloni


Abraham went up from Beer-sheva to Moriah
three days
binding and unbinding his son in his mind
three days butchering and weeping
we are still bound and unbound
who are they weeping and butchering
who are they laughing and butchering

– from “A Man Goes” by Haviva Pedaya


Mustafa Staiti has been through a lot in his 23 years. No doubt, he proclaims, the encounter with the Freedom Theater has allowed him the physical and mental space without which he could not have worked and created as an ambitious youngster. Mustafa and his family will accompany us throughout the next posts; so will the remarkable and inconceivable tale of how Mustafa became one of the prominent voices in the struggle for the Palestinian woman’s rights. But, unfortunately, like in any other truly, remarkable story in Palestine the occupation spoils it all, or almost all. Mustafa was set to arrive in New York in October, along with Maryam, a young, fierce and remarkably talented actress, who speaks out freely about the things that bother and trouble her in her day to day life.

Together at Lincoln Center they were to present to the audience the next generation of Palestinian creators, as well as the pilot for their new Internet TV series, “I’m Black As Well”.

The first episode concerns the visit to Jenin of the most popular Palestinian rap group, DAM, and their electrifying first ever open sky concert in the city. DAM’s relentless struggle against honor killing in the Palestinian society is also depicted in the clip.

Unfortunately Mustafa most likely won’t make it to New York. In order to get an entry visa into the U.S one has to arrive at the American Consulate in East Jerusalem for an interview, for which one is required to obtain a one-time entry permit from Israel. Israel, however, denied Mustafa’s request without any sort of explanation. And so, a young Palestinian fighting to establish a cinema study center, and who struggles for women’s equality and whose presence in the U.S is necessary for his artistic promotion, finds himself, like countless others, a victim of the routine, mundane and bureaucratic policies of Apartheid. Palestinian culture cannot travel to Tel Aviv nor to New York, not to see and not to be seen. What we need to comprehend, once and for all, is that the occupation’s cruelty doesn’t lie in the sadism or stupidity of a soldier like Eden Abergil (the one who took pictures of herself with Palestinian prisoners and posted it on Facebook).

Indeed, the occupation doesn’t necessarily corrupt the individuals engaged in it, the structure of the occupation is the corruption for itself. Even without vengeful clerks, stuffed in dark basement offices, who particularly seek to harm Mustafa, and even if all soldiers were good Peace Now nerds, the occupation would still produce the same quantity of evil.

The structure of power does not need soldiers who believe in it, but rather it just needs soldiers.

The occupation is so imminent to our daily life that perhaps the only way out of cooperating with it one has to go through a “leap of faith”.

Until we decide whether we operate within or without the matrix, I hereby wish to address those decent matrix inhabitants: If one of you has the connections or the knowledge of how to help Mustafa come to New York, please do contact us.



This year correlates with the Jewish New Year and with the Muslim Eid Al Fitr. Which falls on the creation day of the first human (Adam and Eve) and the day of the sacrifice of Isaac and/or Ismael.

The day the Twin Towers collapsed, my family and I were living a mile away from the disaster zone, and today I’m not certain the scar that event carved in our souls has healed. Hence I sensed an urge to return to the site of 9/11. In front of the void of ground zero, now gradually being filled once more, my memories returned and flooded over me. My daughter volunteered at an emergency support center, and as she had nothing much to do, she brought home with her an entire family, a parrot included, to settle in our house until things returned to their normal course. I recall the candles and tears in front of the Fire Department Precinct. Not even one fire-fighter remained with us, the living. Out of sadness, a query on the “banality of good “ filled my head. The sort of pondering suited for a believer: each and all fire fighters seemingly acted according to the protocols of a city-employee, indeed a banality, and yet each and every one of them died the sacred death of a hero. In the same accord I would claim that one who follows “the protocol of the banilty of evil” is carrying full responsibility of contaminating our stand as human beings.

Perhaps that’s the reason why I read, full with rage and contempt, Shaul Rosenfeld’s Judeo-Fascist article about the misery of the moderate Muslim. An article which uses the blood of the victims to spread Islamophobic poison. According to Rosenfeld, the moderate Muslim, is a thousand fold more dangerous than the extremist Muslim. According to his article, a Muslim of whatever sort or breed, has a primordial and entrenched tendency for evil-doing, and is attempting to take over the world via terror, sitting in the splendid city of Cordoba.

Any attempt to tell a narrative of the Good Muslim, is doomed to include a degree of apologea and collaboration with the sick-secular “King’s Torah” of Mr. Rosenfeld.(King Torah is the book of Israeli Rabbis who are allowed to kill children of Gentiles) . With the omnipresent racism in our time, instead of approaching a left-winger to respond to these despicable Islamophobic publications, it is more advisable for the newspaper’s editors to ask a German anti-semitie, or perhaps a member of a Neo-Nazi party, to compose a piece similar to Mr. Rosenfeld’s, replacing or adding the word the word “Jew” to the word “Muslim” so that the two could sign jointly on a “hate declaration”.

Cordoba, Rosenfeld wrote is the memory of the brutal occupation of Christian Spain by the Muslims. I wonder if this is Cordoba? According to world common narrative the name Cordoba is a simbol for pluralism flurishing in its Muslim era.

Except of hatred in and for itself, I wonder what is Mr. Rosenfeld, and his kind’s, interest is? Is promoting Islamaphobia worth erasing the Jewish-Muslim common glorious history (The Cusari) or their tragic common history (the Expulsion from Spain)?

History, can be read in a thousand ways, sometimes it is dependant in the grace of the heart alone.

During the 9/11 disaster I ran an advertisement company whose offices were in the Liberty State Park. The trajectory of one of the crashing airplanes was literally above the heads of our staff. Most of the people entered into a sort of state of shock. Among them were Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and of course some total infidels. The factory manager was a religious Israeli who used to pray three times a day, and the shift director was a Muslim Moroccan man, who used to pray five times a day. Those of us who experienced the horror and tragedy of those days will forever be connected to that painful time and place.

Bush’s America didn’t wait long, and they went on a ramped revenge campaign again people who, much like us, died without knowing how and why. I hope that now, if and when the mosque is built, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and agnostics, will pray together, and if not pray together, at least mourn our dead together.

Today, the anniversary of 9/11, which happens to fall on the day of Creation of Adam and Eve, which happens to be, according to tradition, on the day of Issac/Ismael’s Binding, is a good day to stop dividing the world between Muslims and Jews, religious and secular. It can rather be divided between those who celebrate the creation and life of humankind, and those who butcher and laugh when sacrificing their/our children on the altars of nationalist or religious hatred.

I gaze now at the space near Ground Zero where the mosque might be built, and recall our Cordoba, thinking that, on the side of those butchering and laughing stand Al-Qaida Judeo-Fascist of Rosenfeld’s kind, and on the side of humanity’s lovers stand the Palestinian comrades of Jenin, and their peace and justice seeking friends from Israel.

Hatima Tova and Eid Mubarak to all!

This article is from Udi Aloni’s Brooklyn-Jenin column he is writing for the Israeli website Ynet about his experience living between New York City and the Jenin refugee camp, where he is teaching a film production class. You can read the entire Brooklyn-Jenin series here. This article was translated by Matan Cohen.

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