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St George fights against England April 23, 2014 13:42

Here's the irony. St George was a Palestinian saint. He gained his fame not only for dragon-slaying, but also for standing up against persecution of Christians in the Holy Land.

So if he were alive today, that would mean standing up against the main persecutors of today's Christians in the Holy Land, which means Israel, which has been occupying and ethnically cleansing Christians from Palestine for the best part of a century now.

And who are Israel's most prominent supporters and backers? Well aside from the US, the UK would count itself in the first rank of supporters of Israel, including with supplies to the Israeli military in the billions of pounds sterling.

So if he were alive today, England would be supplying arms to the army that would be fighting against St George. Think of that, Cameron, as you affirm your Christian faith.

Photo from article about St George on the BBC today.


An Open Letter to Abbas Asks him to Break from 'Negotiations' and Reconstitute our Assembly April 12, 2014 11:28

In light of the years of 'negotiations', which have only served as a cover for Israel to increase its ethnic cleansing in the occupied territories, enactment of more racist laws against the native Palestinians inside of Israel, besiege and starve Gaza, and sideline the right of return of the millions of exiled Palestinians, over 100 prominent Palestinian academics and professionals composed this letter and sent it to Abbas yesterday 11 April 2014.

5th of April, 2014


Mr Mahmoud Abbas

President of the Palestinian National Authority

Ramallah, Palestine


Dear President Abbas,


In view of the intense pressure being brought to bear on the Palestinian National Authority by Israel and the U.S. Administration to negotiate a final agreement which will claim to settle all past and present rights and demands of the Palestinian people,and considering the present interruption in negotiations brought about by Israel's customary practice of reneging on its commitments, we Palestinian and other Arab scholars and professionals with longstanding commitments to the Palestinian cause send you the following message:

  1. We urge you to stand firm for the national rights of all Palestinians, and to declare that no individual or group of individuals has the unconditional authority to reach a final agreement on behalf of the Palestinian people. Only the Palestinian people, in their global multitude, have the right to accept or reject a final settlement proposal. Any such proposal must be submitted for consideration to a Palestine National Council (PNC) whose members are chosen by all Palestinians in free, fair and open elections, and meeting in freedom beyond Israeli interference.
  2. Notwithstanding U. S. and Israeli pressure, the Palestinian people have a number of fundamental collective and individual rights, above all the internationally-recognized right of return to their homeland. These rights inhere in the Palestinians as individuals, as families, and as a people; by their very nature, they are not subject to negotiation and cannot under any circumstances be bartered away.
  3. The parameters of the current talks, like those that preceded them, preclude the fundamental Palestinian right of self-determination; an Israeli return to the pre-1967 borders without adjustments; removal of all or even the majority of Israeli colonists and colonies from the West Bank and East Jerusalem; Palestinian sovereign control of East Jerusalem; autonomous control of borders, airspace, water and other resources, and the freedom to enter alliances with other states, which are the minimal hallmarks of sovereignty. What is on the negotiating table, in other words, is not a sovereign Palestinian state, even in those fragments of historic Palestine whose future status is nominally being negotiated, but rather the shimmering and evanescent outline of such a state, wholly inadequate to the rights and needs of even that minority of the Palestinian people currently resident in the territories occupied in 1967.
  4. Nor do these talks seriously address the rights—above all the right of return—of the members of the Palestinian diaspora who live in exile outside historic Palestine and who constitute about half of the Palestinian people. Neither do these talks address the rights of Palestinians living within pre-1967 Israel, including their right to equality with Jewish citizens and the restoration of the property that had been confiscated from them in the wake of the Nakba of 1948. On the contrary, in the new demand that Israel be recognised as a “Jewish state,” these talks threaten to confirm official Palestinian acceptance of the negation of all these rights. Such recognition would abandon these Palestinians to continuing discrimination and in all likelihood a deterioration of their circumstances, if not outright ethnic cleansing. By excluding Palestinians inside Israel and those in exile, the negotiating framework excludes the majority of the Palestinian people.
  5. Given the above, while the Palestinian people should be consulted via the democratic process already alluded to in order to make their determination, it is in effect inconceivable that they would accept now or in the future the parameters of the present negotiations, which are incompatible with their rights and legitimate aspirations. We therefore believe that the time has come, once and for all, to declare a final break from the pattern of endless negotiations established more than two decades ago at Oslo, which has only provided time for Israel to annex and colonise more territory and impose crippling restrictions on Palestinian life. The time has come, then, to facilitate a new dialogue among the Palestinian people about the future and aims of the Palestinian struggle, and the appropriate means to secure the rights of all Palestinians—those living under occupation, those living with second-class status in Israel, and those living in enforced exile. We are confident that you will enjoy the support of the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people if you take it upon yourself to help facilitate a new national dialogue with these ends in view.
  6. It is abundantly clear not just to us but to countless other observers that you and your leadership will soon be trapped in an impossible situation, which calls for urgent action to pre-empt. We call on you to take the initiative rather than helplessly waiting for the inevitable moment when you will be presented with what will be packaged to the world as an honest and neutral set of American proposals but will in fact have been jointly concocted with Israel and will be irreconcilable with the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people. You will in effect have no choice but to reject these proposals, thereby allowing the U. S. and Israel, yet one more time, to depict you and the Palestinian people as obstacles to peace. Rather than waiting, we urge you to act pre-emptively, and to declare, before the anticipated Framework of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry becomes public, a clear statement of principles making clear in positive rather than negative terms that you are committed to a formula for peace that is premised on the internationally-recognized rights and needs of all Palestinians.

After decades of struggle to achieve fundamental Palestinian rights, we are not ready to surrender, and we reject the attempt by anyone to surrender in our names. We call upon you in your capacity as Chairman of the PLO to recall without delay a democratically reconstituted Palestine National Council (PNC) and entrust it with the process to articulate a new path to a just and lasting peace that will secure the rights of the Palestinian people. Were you to follow this course, you would have not only the support of the Palestinian people but also surely the endorsement of the majority of the people of the world, who have for decades been resolute and steadfast in their support of the Palestinian cause.


Respectfully,

Dr Raja T. Abboud, Professor of Respiratory Medicine

Mr Ali Abdolell, Professor of English Literature

Dr. Faiha Abdulhadi, Writer& Research Consultant

Dr Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, Professor of Race and Resistance Studies

Dr As’ad Abdulrahman, Executive Chairman, Palestine International Institute

Mr James Abourezk, Former US Senator for South Dakota

Dr Salman Abu Sitta, President, Palestine Land Society, London

Dr Jose Abu-Tarbush, Professor of Sociology

Mr Yehya Abughaida, Consultant in Aviation

Dr As’ad AbuKhalil, Professor of Political Science

Dr Baha Abu-Laban, Professor of Sociology

Mr Khairi Abuljebain, One of the founders of the PLO

Mr Nader Abuljebain, Engineer

Dr Lila Abu-Lughod, Professor of Anthropology and Women's Studies

Dr Bashir Abu-Manneh, Professor of Comparative Literature and Middle East Studies

Dr Ali Abdullatif Ahmida, Professor of Political Science

Dr Gilbert Achcar, Professor of International Relations

Dr Mamdouh Aker, Physician & Human Rights Activist

Mr Naser Al Ardah, Economist & Founder of the NGO Engage and Social Enterprise

Mr Hani Al Hindi, A Founding Member of the Arab Nationalist Movement

Dr. Bayan Nuwayhed al-Hout, Professor of Political Science

Dr Anis Mustafa Al-Qasem, Lawyer, Member of the Palestine National Council

Dr Marwan Al Sayeh, Engineer

Dr Saif Al Zahir, Professor of Computer Science

Dr Reem Alissa, Professor of Architecture

Dr Abdul Wahab Altura, Medical Doctor

Dr Ibrahim Aoude, Professor of Ethnic Studies

Dr Naseer Aruri, Professor of Political Science

Dr Farid Ayyad, President of the Canadian Arab Federation

Mr Moussa Hanna Baggili, Independent Consultant

Dr Halim Barakat, Professor of Sociology

Mr Tayseer Barakat, Member, Board of Trustees, Palestine International Institute

Dr Hatem A. Bazian, Professor of Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies

Dr Salah Bibi, Medical Doctor

Mr Ghassan Bishara, Journalist & former media director for MERIP

Dr George Bisharat, Professor of Law

Ms Diana Buttu, Lawyer

Dr Hasan Charif, Professor of Sustainable Development

Dr Georges Corm, Professor of Political Science and Former Lebanese Minister of Finance

Dr Omar S. Dahi, Professor of Economics

Dr Nabil Dajani, Professor of Media Studies

Dr Souad Dajani, Independent Consultant

Dr Zahi Damuni, Professor of Biochemistry/Chair, Palestine Right to Return Coalition

Dr Seif Da’na, Professor of Sociology

Dr Ghada Abdullah El Yafi, Medical Doctor

Dr Randa Farah, Professor of Anthropology

Dr Hani A. Faris, Professor of Political Science

Mr Awni Farsakh, Chartered Accountant

Dr Leila Farsakh, Professor of Political Science

Dr Jess Ghannam, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Global Health Sciences

Dr Sobhi Ghosheh, Medical Doctor and former member of the Arab Council of Jerusalem

Dr Mahmoud Haddad, Professor of Economics

Dr Bahjat Hafez, Economist

Dr Elaine Hagopian, Professor of Sociology

Dr Muhammad Hallaj, Professor of Political Science

Dr Amr Hamzawy, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy

Dr Sari Hanafi, Professor of Sociology

Dr Charles Harb, Professor of Psychology

Dr Marwan Hassan, Professor of Hydrology

Dr Khair El Din Haseeb, Chairman of Executive Committee of CAUS

Dr Nubar Hovsepian, Professor of Political Science

Mr Monadel Herzallah, U.S. Palestinian Community Network

Dr Naila Saba Jirmanus, Physicist

Dr Ray Jureidini, Professor of Sociology

Dr Taher H. Kanaan, Member of Board of Trustees, Institute of Palestine Studies

Dr Ghada Karmi, Professor of Middle Eastern Studies

Dr Anis F. Kassim, Attorney & Legal Consultant

Dr Nabeel Kassis, Director, Palestine Institute for Economic Policy Research

Dr Mujid Kazimi, Professor of Nuclear Engineering

Dr David Khairallah, Professor of International Law

Dr Tarif Khalidi, Professor of Arabic & Islamic Studies

Mr Ahmad Khalifeh, Managing Editor, Majallat Al Dirasat Al Filistiniyya

Dr.Khalid khalifeh, Consultant and General Surgeon

Ms Fadia Rafeedie Khoury, Attorney

Dr George Kossaifi, Social Scientist

Dr Atef Kubursi, Professor of Economics

Ms Rania Madi, UN Geneva Consultant on Human Rights

Dr Riad Mahayni, Professor of Community and Regional Planning

Dr Lisa Suhair Majaj, Professor of American Culture and Arab-American Literature

Dr Saree Makdisi, Professor of English and Comparative Literature

Ms Jean Said Makdisi, Author and Independent Scholar

Dr John Makhoul, Engineer

Mr Nasser Mansour, Engineer

Dr Nur Masalha, Professor of Politics

Ms May Masri, Film Director

Dr Fadle Naqib, Professor of Economics

Dr Isam Naqib, Professor of Physics

Dr Ahmad Said Nufal, Professor of Political Science

Dr Dana M. Olwan, Professor of Women's and Gender Studies

Dr Mohamed Olwan. Professor of Law

Dr. Mufid Qassoom, Vice President of the Arab American University of Jenin

Dr Mazin Qumsiyeh, Professor of Genetics

Dr Anthony Sahyoun, Professor of Surgery

Dr Najib E. Saliba, Professor of Middle East History

Dr Taleb Sarie, Professor of Statistics

Ms Rosemary Sayigh, Professor of Anthropology and Oral History

Dr Youssef Sawani, Professor of Politics

Dr Ahmad Sbaiti, Engineer

Dr Sherene Seikaly, Professor of History

Mr Ibrahim Shikaki, Economist

Ms. Abla Shocair, Musician

Mr Jaber Suleiman, Researcher in the Right of Return Movement

Ms Rima Tarazi, Former President of the General Union of Palestinian Women

Dr Rabab Ward , Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Mr Riad Yassin, Engineer

Dr Antoine Zahlan, Professor of Physics

Mr Mahmoud Zeidan, Human Rights Specialist and co-Director of Nakba Archive

Dr Elia Zureik, Professor of Sociology


After lengthy deliberations, this Open Letter was composed by a coordinating committee entrusted with the collection and verification of signatures, follow-up and the handling of a reply...


John Lewis Would Rather Fund Ethnic Cleansing than Remove One Product March 16, 2014 00:06

John Lewis sell tens of thousands of product lines. They refuse to withdraw just one of them, Sodastream, which impacts their profits minimally, even though it supports ethnic cleansing activities.

The REAL Nativity. If it happened today. December 21, 2013 02:38

Three wise men were ready to set off from the East. They had packed gold, frankincense and myrrh on their camels, to deliver as gifts to the infant Jesus. As they were about to leave, they received some bad news. Israel, the country occupying the land where Jesus was to be born, had declared that bringing gifts or aid to Palestinians like Jesus was clearly political motivated, and anyone bringing gifts would be stopped. But the wise men were not to be put off, and in their wisdom, decided that the baby Jesus still needed these gifts. So they set off on their way regardless.


[Manger Square in Bethlehem. Palestinian Christians decorated it with tear gas canisters fired at them by Israeli soldiers. Photo from Demotix.com]

As they approached the land of Palestine, they saw armed men from the Israeli military approach their caravan. They came quickly, and entered the caravan of camels. While trying to defend themselves in the ensuing scuffle, many of the camels and Melchior, one of the wise men, were killed by Israeli fire. Later, the Israelis were to claim that Melchior had incensed them with a threat using a particularly lethal looking stick of frankincense, and that they had to extinguish him and the frankincense in self defence.

Balthasar was kidnapped by the soldiers and taken to a different port. But thankfully, Caspar managed to avoid detection with his camels, and he carried on his way. Sadly though, all the gifts had already been taken away as neither gold, nor frankincense nor myrrh were on the list of 87 items which were deemed by Israel to be allowable for Palestinians like Jesus.

As Caspar got closer to Bethlehem, his journey slowed considerably. He was unable to take the most direct routes to Bethlehem, as these routes were only for the use of the Israeli Jewish settlers, and were forbidden to him as his camels did not have an Israeli number plate. To make matters worse, every few miles, he was stopped by an Israeli checkpoint and subjected to random and humiliating searches and waits. Occasionally he wasn't let through and told to find a different route. And on many occasions, he was slowed down by settlers who would stone his caravan as he went by, with the Israeli soldiers standing by to ensure that he didn't retaliate.

When he had had enough of this, Caspar started a peaceful one-man demonstration for right of way. But as soon as he did this, he was shot by a most moral Israeli soldier with a rubber bullet. Actually, it was a normal bullet coated in rubber, but that’s probably a technicality. Except that that small difference meant that the bullet went through his skull and he was killed instantly.

Meanwhile, the baby Jesus's mother, Mary, was trying to get to a hospital to deliver her baby. But this was proving too difficult a task. She and Joseph had a car, but it had been burned in an arson attack by the local settlers, and the words "price tag" had been scrawled on their door. So they had started the journey with their donkey, but he also died along the way of thirst as the water had been diverted to fill swimming pools for the settlers and very little was left for Palestinian farms and homes.

Like Caspar, they were not allowed to use the best roads, which were segregated and only for Israeli Jewish settlers. Mary and Joseph were spat on by settlers as they walked past, and called 'self-hating Jews' because they questioned how Israel was treating them and other Palestinians. When they tried to catch a bus, they were stopped from boarding as the buses were for the use of Jewish Israeli settlers only, and not for the native Palestinians of the land.  And alas, they were turned away at the whim of a 20 year old Israeli soldier at the last checkpoint despite Mary's advanced state.

When they were on the verge of arriving into Behlehem, they were confronted by a massive wall that now almost entirely surrounded the town. They were not even sure it was Bethlehem on the other side, as the wall was so high it may as well have been Amsterdam. Except that would have been a much longer walk and colder, so probably not Amsterdam. Maybe Jenin. As they walked around the wall to get to an entrance point to Bethlehem, they eventually found a gate that would see them through. But unfortunately, the soldiers who were supposed to be manning it were nowhere to be seen.

So Mary and Joseph had to just wait. And wait. Mary's contractions got more frequent. At the last minute, Joseph remembered that there was a barn this side of the wall. The rest of the farm was on the other side, but as the wall ignored Palestinian farmland, the barn and animals had been left on this side. So they walked the final few hundred yards. Except when they got there, the barn was no longer there, and in its place was a pile of rubble. The barn had been bulldozed by the Israeli army just a few days earlier for allegedly not having a permit. Despite being on the farmer's land, which his family had owned for generations.

So the baby Jesus was delivered on a pile of rubble, next to the note that invoiced the farmer for demolition services owed to the Israeli army for destroying his manger. No wise men made it, and no gifts. No shepherds tending their flocks by night, as the curfew imposed on them meant they couldn't leave their homes. But as a Palestinian Christian, the rest of the world did not hear of Jesus’s suffering, and just assumed that he would be a terrorist when he grew up. And that Joseph and Mary had brought it all on themselves by leaving home in the first place.

[The characters portrayed in this story may or may not be fictitious, depending on your religious beliefs. However, the events portrayed in here are factual and happening daily to Palestinians - Muslim, Christian, agnostic or just human. And indeed, to many foreigners and Israelis who try to help seek justice for Palestinians. So this Christmas as you celebrate, please save a prayer and vow to undertake an action to support Palestine's Christians. And Muslims. And all humans. And to support the moral codes that Christianity, Islam and Judaism all espouse. And finally, to keep an open mind and to support justice. I wish you all peace and safety this Christmas and New Year]

The Amos Trust has a Christmas pack for churches about Bethlehem 2013. Click here to download it.


Come live in our freshly (ethnically) cleansed land December 03, 2013 13:09

 

"Come bring your children for a new life in paradise. You'll have to buy offplan, as we can only start building once we've turfed off the children who currently live there and forced them into a shanty existence elsewhere."

Come live in Carmit. You will be living in a modern paradise. Brand new restaurants, bars, museums galleries, cinemas, theatres and shopping centres (inevitably) are all being built. Educational opportunities will be rife for your children with the plethora of schools nearby as well as major universities. There is also a "wide variety of social and cultural activities following school hours; at youth clubhouses, the library and many sports facilities". A vision for a new life, encapsulated by the pretty schoolgirl holding her pot plant, symbolic of the new roots you will be laying down in your new home.

Except that there are already generations-old roots there. Up to 70,000 of them. And having already been turfed off two thirds of their land to make way for military training grounds for the Israeli army, the 70,000 Palestinian natives of the Negev will be unceremoniously dumped on a truck for relocation to a city slum. That's quite aside from the several thousand inhabitants of the Negev who were already expelled by Israel and rounded up into Gaza, where Israel's army takes pot shots at them from the air at will.

You see, Carmit is in the Negev (Naqab in Arabic), and Israel is in the process of giving its generations-old inhabitants their own new start. The price of the wonderful development being sold to Jews across Europe and the US is a forced relocation for these Palestinians from their homes to cramped slums. How else to make way for the shiny new shopping centres, cinemas, bars and swimming pools for the Israeli Jews and immigrants who wish to come and live on stolen land?

This is a story common in the West Bank, where the act of building settlements, shopping malls and theme parks on destroyed homes, farms and even cemetries of Palestinian families, Muslim and Christian, is commonplace. Israel there is breaking Geneva conventions in how it is treating an occupied population.

But the Negev is not even in the West Bank. It is inside of Israel, and the Palestinian natives it is forcibly cleansing are Israeli citizens in law. Admittedly 3rd class citizens in its openly Apartheid system, but citizens nonetheless.

There is a definition for this in international law. The forcible deportation of populations is defined as a crime against humanity by the International Criminal Court. Let's not mince words here, what Israel is in the process of doing (and has been for the entire 65 years of its existance) is a Crime Against Humanity.

It would be ironic if it weren't so outrageous. If you immigrate to Israel (meaning if it's not your home, but you'd like to come live there as a Jew), then you're promised assistance from the government in "Financial, Hebrew studies, [...] housing, employment, business entrepreneurship and University tuition fees". This is the same government that has to date denied even the basics of infrastructure, such as running water and electricity, to the current inhabitants of that area. So even as a Brit who wants to move to help Israel's ethnic cleansing project, you would be given significant funding and support while the basics are being denied to the current inhabitants as they happen inconveniently to be the Palestinian natives of the land.

So while the US sheds crocodile tears over its history and what the colonialists there did to the indigenous population, it funds to the tune of several billion dollars an army in Israel that is doing many of the same heinous crimes against the indigenous population there. And never to be left behind, the UK is one of the major suppliers of military equipment to that army.

Israel's current prime minister, Netanyahu, without the slightest hint of irony says that "We will continue to advance the law for a better future for all residents of the Negev". Clearly, he misplaced the word future - he is promising betterment for the future residents of the Negev, as the law he is talking about is to remove the native inhabitants of the Negev, up to 70,000 in all, from their homes to slums.

Yet the organisations that fund these crimes against humanity are given charitable status in the UK and the US, which means not only do they not pay tax, but they take from the public purse through Gift Aid. Indeed, the most effective organisation at expelling Palestinians from their homes and giving them to immigrant Jews is the Jewish National Fund, which is not only a charity, but also until very recently counted David Cameron as its patron.

Further reading:


Barcelona Football Club To Visit Israel and the Palestinian Land it Illegally Occupies August 03, 2013 12:31

So Barca are heading off to Israel and to the land it illegally occupies on a "peace tour". What could be better than this kind of wonderful gesture - Israeli and Palestinians will both get to play with Barcelona. The team, revered by many on both sides of the conflict, will meet the 'leaders' of both sides of the conflict, Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Abbas in Bethlehem. A great sporting initiative to bring people together for peace.

Or not.

Think about this. Liverpool, probably one of the most revered teams of the 80s, decides to undertake a tour of South Africa. They meet the children of apartheid soldiers living the high life in Sun City, kicking a ball around with PW Botha, hugs all round to the soldiers who on other days are brutalising the South African indigenous. Then off to the townships to play a couple of ceremonial matches, get some great photo ops of Grobbelaar, Rush and Dalglish with some cute black kids. All's well, no? Play with the soldiers who are doing the killing, but it's OK as you also played with the black kids.

Or, more contentious but still relevant, Italian club Internazionale, riding atop the Italian Serie A in the late 1930s, visits Nazi Germany, symbolically meeting with Hitler in Paris (a city that he occupies but is not his) to kick a couple of balls around, then heads off to find the French resistance and meet with them (yes, tough to imagine how this part could happen logistically!). How generous. Meeting with both sides to promote peace.

Well, no. Sometimes you have to accept that occupation, brutality, supremacy are wrong, and meeting with their perpetrators doesn't show that you're peace-loving. It shows that you're cowardly and too scared to call out blatant injustice when you see it. And meeting with the leader of the country which is the illegal occupier in occupied territory is NOT OK.

I know A LOT of Palestinian kids are going to LOVE to see Messi et al - they are revered by many of our children. And that will be beautiful for kids who daily suffer occupation, orphaning, imprisonment, mutilation and death. But the no doubt well-intentioned team needs to realise that sometimes you need to side with right against injustice and not pretend it's simply about people coming together. Because it isn't. It's about ending occupation, ending human rights abuses, ending apartheid, ending injustice.

Don't visit PW Botha. Don't visit Netanyahu. Don't go to Sun City. Don't go to occupied Jerusalem. Don't play with soldiers who's job it is to implement apartheid and supremacy, because doing so doesn't show that you're open minded to all side, it shows that you're prepared to lend your brand to brutal human rights abuse.


The New "New "Peace Talks"" July 21, 2013 12:18

 

I guess they're calling them "Peace Talks" because the more accurate "Peace for Israel from the Western press so that it can accelerate its land grab of Palestinian homes and farms while continuing its abuse of the Palestinian civilians without being noticed" isn't quite as catchy as a headline.

 There seems to be a lot going on with regards to Palestinians and Israelis right now. In this last week, we've had reports of a resumption of the "Peace [for Israel, Palestinians be damned] Process", of how the UK has sold nearly £8bn of military equipment to Israel, a country who's human rights record the UK 'says' it is concerned about, and on the positive side, the EU closing its funding doors to projects which benefit the illegal Israeli settlements (i.e. all of them under international law) in the West Bank.

In the background, we also had reports of Israeli military abducting a 5 year old child for throwing stones and subsequently abducting and blindfolding his father simply for being the child' father. We also had reports of mass protests by Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, inside Israel and elsewhere against Israel's project to ethnically cleanse over 30,000 and up to 70,000 Palestinians from their homes in the Naqab (Negev) inside of Israel.

 

Therein lies the rub. Israel continues to demand "peace" while besieging Gaza and crippling its people metaphorically and literally; while abusing Palestinians under occupation in the West Bank, including their children; while ethnically cleansing Palestinians from their homes both inside Israel and in the occupied lands; while their wall that dwarfs the Berlin wall and which has been deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice grabs much of the West Bank for Israel; and while systematically legalising and following discriminatory (i.e. apartheid) policies against the native Palestinian Moslem and Christian population.

Is it any wonder that I and pretty much every Palestinian I know views these 'talks' with suspicion at best, but more likely with trepidation for their consequences? The last major talks and 'agreement' in Oslo resulted in a trebling of the illegal settler population in the West Bank (flouting not only Oslo, but also the Geneva conventions on Human Rights) and a hardening of the siege on Gaza. No, these talks are sadly about reducing international pressure on Israel while it continues its project of the clearing of Palestinians from their homes and annexing their land.

The only real game changer on the horizon, and the one we must all support, is Palestinian Civil Society's call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel. It is a call on all of us to bring pressure to bear on Israel, as we did to South Africa before it, to change its ways and respect universal human rights. Israel must know that civilians around the world, regardless of the corrupt actions of their governments, will not support these abuses and that they must stop. As with South Africa, the order of events will likely be some people of conscience first, followed by cultural stars, followed by a mass of civilians as they find out the reality about Israel, and finally the governments which can no longer avoid popular sentiment.

That road has started for justice and to end Israeli abuse - the movement is organised, many early wins have happened and a number of pop icons have woken up to the abuse and cancelled visits to Israel. It is now down to every civilian of conscience to support and act on the call to boycott, divest from and sanction against Israel.


Skiing in France and the (Un)Popularity of Israel May 16, 2012 00:43

While skiing in France, I got talking to a barman in a restaurant who was interested in what language I was talking to my children. When he found out where I was from (and after we got over the initial "but you don't look Pakistani"), he mentioned that I was the first Palestinian that he met. I suggested that perhaps not many of our people were in the privileged position of being able to go skiing in France, and perhaps that was why.

What was interesting was his subsequent conversation. Not to tar the French with one brush, but noisy subsections of French society have often come out with racist diatribe that has been both anti-Jewish and Islamophobic. But this man was not making comments aligned with them. No, he was far more specific than that.

"I don't like the Israelis" he ventured.

"Why is that?" I asked, somewhat nervous about what he might say.

"Whatever they have is never enough. They always want more. More land. More everything. Never enough".

As a Palestinian, I am very careful with my words to ensure that people understand that it is the policies and greed of the Israeli state and Zionism that I find abhorrent, and not Judaism, which I respect as a venerable religion. This doesn't stop many from launching onto an anti-Jewish soap box expecting me to sympathise, and being surprised that I don't. I suspect many will launch onto an Islamophobic box given half a chance with an audience ready to listen. This is why I was pleasantly surprised that this French barman had steered away, quite naturally it seemed, from making an anti-Jewish comment. No, he was far more precise. It was the Israelis who were meeting his opprobium. But equally, it was also a very broad-brush comment. "Israelis". Not "Israeli policy" or "Israeli apartheid". No. "Israelis".

I found it fascinating that while I, and many other Palestinians, are very careful about these semantics, he, alongside many other nationalities as we had seen travelling in South America, were far less concerned about this, and tagged an entire nationality with the criminal and greedy behaviour of the policies of its leaders.

And then lo and behold, Globescan releases its report for the BBC on the popularity of nations, and finds that "The most negatively rated countries were, as in previous years, Iran (55% negative), Pakistan (51% negative), and Israel and North Korea (both 50% negative)."

It seems that while most Western media outlets and governments are continuing in the main with the lie of Israel as a well behaved member of the international community, the reality of Israel's crimes and abuse is becoming more widely known. The report notes that the most broadly held reasons for the negative views of Israel are its foreign policy (45%) and how it treats its citizens (27%). Not anti-Judaism (or anti-semitism as it will be labelled), as Israel is bound to cry out. No. Just the way it treats others, and the way it treats its own citizens. It seems that our experience while travelling was not anecdotal.

While the way to fix this lack of popularity for Israel would be to start treating Palestinians as humans with the rights to dignity, life, education, property, and all other aspects of humanity, I suspect this will not be how Israel reacts. No, the more likely response will be to cry out that this is even more reason why it needs to "defend" itself and to use it as justification for continued brutality and crimes against Palestinians. Thereby guaranteeing a worsening position for itself in the world, while continuing to be an ethnic cleanser and abuser.

Expect the governments of the West to rise up and start to condemn Israel in line with the views of their populations. Or not.


The Zionist's Justification January 27, 2012 16:57

Don't call my racist policies apartheid;

In fact don't call them racist.

When I give special privileges to my group

And deny it from all the others,

It is not because my policies are racist, or apartheid, or bigoted or discriminatory.

It is because we are chosen

And you are not.

 

Don't call it ethnic cleansing,

Or forced expulsion.

When I take away your land

And rename your villages with my names,

When I forbid you from returning home

And uproot your generations-old trees

To build shopping malls,

It is because people of my religion

Unlike those of all other religions

Demand a land to live in to the exclusion of others,

Even if they have lived there for centuries

And even if many of my religion disagree with me.


Don't call it piracy.

When I raid your boats,

Or indeed the boats of others

Who bring aid and food to your brothers,

And kill some of the crew

In waters that don't belong to you

Or to me,

Then it is in self defence,

Lest some of your baby food

Or medicine

Or toys

Can be propelled at me at high speed

And bruise my insatiable greed.


Don't call it state terrorism

When my bombs cascade down on your family

Or my soldiers abduct your children

Or my army prevents food from entering your mouth

Or even your land.

My militants wear uniforms

And drive sophisticated tanks and planes

sometimes remotely,

And that makes them an army

(the world's most moral, as you must know)

And not terrorists,

Though to you much of what they do

Looks and smells of the terror of a state bent on your suffering and destruction.

 

Don't call it kidnap

When my soldiers enter your house

And abduct your children without warrant

Or accusation

Or rationale other than that you are Palestinian.

And when we beat or threaten your children

To force them to confess and sign in writing

Documents in a language they do not understand,

Then don't call it abuse

And definitely don't call it torture.

I am sure I saw them throwing stones earlier

Either at a tank, or maybe at the wall

Or maybe it was another child

Or just a dream

It doesn't really matter, they are still guilty of being your children and your future.

 

Don't call it an apartheid wall

Or a wall of oppression

Or an occupation wall

Or a land-grab wall.

It is a security fence

Innocuous as the Berlin wall that it dwarfs

And is for my protection

Against your wishes to be treated as a human in your own land.

 

Must I remind you that I was murdered, maimed and expelled at the hands of the Nazis?

And that this gives me the right to murder, maim and expel you?

And to demand that no one talks of it as murder, maiming and expulsion?

For to mention my crimes would be anti-semitism

As I am entitled to do whatever I please because of my holocaust,

and the world owes me that.

(Oh, and don't call them crimes.

Because of my history, all my crimes should be called self-defence).

 

Most of all, don't call it Palestine.

Just because your parents and theirs and theirs lived there for centuries

For much of that time they were occupied by Ottomans, Brits, Turks and Crusaders,

So you forfeit your rights as a human,

And especially the right to call it Palestine.

Call it "Israel".

That is what I believe it was called for about a century

Three thousand years ago.

And that means you are invented, and I am not.


Merry Christmas - Nativity 2011 December 19, 2011 06:17

Three wise men were ready to set off from the East. They had packed gold, frankincense and myrrh on their camels, to deliver as gifts to the infant Jesus. However, just as they were about to leave, they received news that they should not undertake this journey. Israel, the country occupying the land where Jesus was to be born, had declared that bringing aid was clearly a political move, and as such, that they would stop it from reaching Jesus. The wise men were, by definition, wise. As such, they decided that the baby Jesus still needed these gifts, and they set off on their way regardless.

As they approached the land of Palestine, they saw that armed men from the Israeli military were approaching their caravan. They came quickly, and entered the caravan of camels by helicopter. While trying to defend themselves in the ensuing scuffle, many of the camels and Melchior, one of the wise men, were killed by the Israelis. Later, the Israelis were to claim that Melchior had threatened them with a particularly lethal looking stick of frankincense. Balthasar was kidnapped by the soldiers and taken to a different port,but somehow Jasper managed to avoid detection with his camels, and he carried on his way. Sadly though, all the gifts were taken away as neither gold, nor frankincense nor myrrh were not on the list of 87 items which were deemed by the occupier to be allowable for Palestinians like Jesus.

As Jasper got closer to Bethlehem, his journey slowed considerably. He was unable to take the most direct routes to Bethlehem, as these routes were only for the use of the Israeli Jewish settlers, and were forbidden to him as his camels did not have an Israeli number plate. To make matters worse, every few miles, he was stopped by an Israeli checkpoint and subjected to random and humiliating searches and waits. Occasionally he wasn't let through and told to find a different route. And on many occasions, he was slowed down by settlers who would stone his caravan as he went by, with the Israeli soldiers standing by to ensure that he didn't retaliate.

When he had had enough of this, he started a one-man demonstration for right of way. But as soon as he did this, he was shot by a most moral Israeli soldier with a rubber bullet. Actually, it was a rubber coated bullet. And that small difference meant that the bullet went through his skull and he was killed instantly.

Meanwhile, the baby Jesus's mother, Mary, was trying to get to a hospital to deliver her baby. But this was proving too difficult a task. She and Joseph had a car to use, but it had been burned in an arson attack by the local settlers, and the words "price tag" had been scrawled on their door. So they had started the journey with their donkey, but he also died along the way of thirst as the water had been diverted to fill swimming pools for the settlers and very little was left for Palestinian farms and homes.

She was not allowed to use the best roads, as they were only for Israeli Jewish settlers. She and Joseph were spat on by settlers as they walked past, and called 'self-hating Jews' because they questioned how Israel was treating them and other Palestinians. They tried to catch a bus, but were not allowed, as the buses were for the use of Jewish Israeli settlers only, and Palestinians were not allowed to board.  And alas, they were turned away at the whim of a 20 year old Israeli soldier at the last checkpoint despite Mary's advanced state.

When they were on the verge of arriving into Behlehem, they were confronted by a massive wall that now almost entirely surrounded the town. They were not even sure it was Bethlehem on the other side, as the wall was so high it may as well have been Amsterdam. Except that would have been a much longer walk and colder, so probably not Amsterdam. Maybe Jenin. As they walked around the wall to get to an entrance point to Bethlehem, they eventually found a gate that would see them through. But unfortunately, the soldiers who were supposed to be manning it were nowhere to be seen. 

So Mary and Joseph had to just wait. And wait. As Mary's contractions got more frequent, she felt she had to deliver. Joseph remembered that as the wall divided many farms in two and split people's homes from their farms, there was actually a barn on this side of the wall that they could go to for shelter. So they walked the extra few hundred yards to ... a pile of rubble. The barn had been bulldozed by the Israeli army just a few days earlier for allegedly not having a permit. Despite being on the farmer's land, which his family had owned for generations.

And so the baby Jesus was delivered on a pile of rubble, next to the note that invoiced the farmer for demolition services owed to the Israeli army for destroying his manger. No wise men made it, and no gifts. No shepherds tending their flocks by night, as the curfew imposed on them meant they couldn't leave their homes. But as a Palestinian Christian, the rest of the world did not hear of his suffering, and just assumed that he would be a terrorist when he grew up. And that Joseph and Mary had brought it all on themselves by leaving home in the first place.

[The characters portrayed in this story may or may not be fictitious, depending on your religious beliefs. However, the events portrayed in here are factual and happening daily to Palestinians - Muslim, Christian, agnostic or just human. And indeed, to many foreigners and Israelis who try to help seek justice for Palestinians. So this Christmas as you celebrate, please save a prayer and vow to undertake an action to support Palestine's Christians. And Muslims. And all humans. And to support the moral codes that Christianity, Islam and Judaism all espouse. And finally, to keep an open mind and to support justice. I wish you all peace and safety this Christmas and New Year]

See the Amos Trust Bethlehem 2011 pack and download it for your church.


Meeting Israelis on Holiday November 27, 2011 21:45

I have had the good fortune to have travelled a fair amount these last few months. While travelling, I have met a number of travelling or holidaying Israelis. Like all conversations with fellow travellers, one of the first two or three questions is always "where are you from?". In many cases, when they find out I am Palestinian, a strange thing happens. Their handshakes become longer and more imbued with 'meaning'. A look of smiling sympathy takes over their face in conversation. They become very interested in the superficial questions of whereabouts exactly I am from. They want to hug on departure.

Now there are some stereotypical traits which many different cultures show when you meet. As much as Spaniards and Argentinians will give a kiss on the cheek for hellos and goodbyes very soon after meeting you, Israelis, like many of East European descent, are not natural huggers of people they don't know. Not a bad or good thing, just the way local norms are. So why are they then inclined to go overboard with friendliness when they meet a travelling Palestinian? Rest assured that this is not the same when they meet a Palestinian inside occupied Palestinian lands. I can vouch for that.

Is it because outside Israel, they can see that their country's behaviour towards Palestinians are immoral and outside the bounds of acceptable human behaviour? And seeing this, they are embarrassed and try to distance themselves as individuals from the behaviour that they are complicit in? Or perhaps being outside Israel with its norms of behaviour towards Palestinians, they feel they have to over-compensate to fit in with more civilised and human norms?

Or is it that face to face with a Palestinian in a bar, they stop seeing me as subhuman and deserving of less worth or rights than they are? Or that they feel that they have to make a pretence at this for the benefit of others who may be watching them? Is it different to see the eyes of a Palestinian over a drink in a cafe than at the end of your gun?

Or is it that lacking the support of one of the world's largest military machines, with no weapons or armed colleagues around them, they don't have the security to face me as they would a Palestinian at home? Does their lack of state organs and weapons of subjugation while abroad mean that they know they must talk to me as a human?

Maybe the charitable view is that these travellers naturally want to hug the person they oppress at home because back in occupied land they just follow a system and orders that make them oppress and brutalise. If that is the case, then I wish they had the balls at home to say "no, occupying and sub-humanising fellow humans is wrong and I want my government and military to stop that today, and to stop ordering me as a common citizen to partake of that". Or that they had the balls to go home and greet Palestinians in their own homes as equals rather than as subhumans.

But then if I take that charitable view, I am more comfortable with the honesty of the minority who I have met who are genuinely inquisitive about my life as a Palestinian, as these will more likely be open to honest discussion. They start from a point of wanting to know rather than of doing one thing when armed and facing a Palestinian and saying another when facing one in their shorts abroad.

I am actually also more comfortable with the minority who continue their hostile demeanour when we meet, albeit bereft of a military that gives them a Goliath's advantage at home and therefore the ability to turn that hostility to violence. At least they are honest and consistent with their behaviour.

No, it is the dishonesty and hypocrisy of that patronising sympathetic tilt of the head, the 'meaningful' handshake, the hug of 'I care' that I can't abide. Maybe because it is the same dishonest behaviour of a country that says to the international community that it wants peace while doing everything at home that prevents peace and extends violence and subjugation.


Why did the UK change its law to allow suspected war criminals safer passage while our defence minister was being courted by Israeli businessmen? October 28, 2011 06:31

One of the great victories for justice after the Second World War was the principle of Universal Jurisdiction. This is a principle which allows one country to try someone accused of a crime committed in another country. It is most often used in cases of crimes against populations such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances or torture. It was the principle that was used by the UK to allow the arrest of general Pinochet of Chile.

In a sad turn of events for British Justice, the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill proposed by the Cameron government came into law in September 2011. This bill included a clause that makes the arrest of suspected war criminals significantly more difficult in the UK. This proposal had been opposed to no avail by a number of human rights and justice organisations, such as Amnesty and Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

The government claims it introduced this clause into the bill to stop arrests being carried out for political purposes.However, it has made the key player in the decision to arrest the Director of Public Prosecutions, who is a political appointee rather than a judicial one. In simple terms, this means it is pretty much up to the government rather than the law to decide who it arrests. And the government has at times kept friends who could easily feature on a suspect list, including Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Ariel Sharon and most recently Tzipi Livni.

So why the sudden change of UK law? Well, it came hot on the heels of the attempt to arrest ex-Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni if she entered UK soil for crimes against the civilians of Gaza. She was Israeli foreign minister with alleged responsibility of involvement in the massacre of civilians including several hundred children in the Israeli invasion of Gaza in early 2009. Although Israel has been a beneficiary of the principle of Universal Jurisdiction, for instance bringing Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann to trial in the early 60s, Israel put significant pressure on the UK to amend UK law when there was the real possibility that Tzipi Livni would be arrested in the UK using this same principle. What's good for the goose is clearly not good for the gander.

It now transpires as reported by the Guardian, the Independent, the Mail and others, that our own ex-Defence Minister Liam Fox had "improper relations" including financial ones with a number of strongly pro-Israeli businessmen and lobbyists. These relations, amongst others, were "improper" enough that they forced his resignation. So while the Defence Minister was being wooed by Israeli lobbyists, the UK changed its law to make it easier for suspected Israeli war criminals to enter the UK. Coincidence perhaps, but surely someone should be asking questions?


Launch October 25, 2011 05:51

The word is out. Freedom For Palestine by OneWorld, made up of a number of musicians including Faithless' Maxi Jazz and Dave Randall, is the first mainstream song released in support of justice for Palestinians. So it only peaked at 79 in the UK charts, and number 10 in the UK indie charts. But it shows that momentum is building up which recognises that the Palestinian issue is not just about statehood. It is about justice and the end of oppression. In our About Us page, you will see that the support for this struggle for freedom is very broad based, and is snowballing.

The cause of Palestine and the Palestinians is today's South Africa. Thanks to social media and the rise of news sources that are no longer controlled by the establishment, we are all seeing the pictures of slaughter in Gaza, seeing the UK government changing its own laws to protect suspected war criminals, hearing about continued settlements into Palestinian land destroying existing Palestinian Christian and Muslim homes, schools and cemeteries. And the voices around the world saying "enough" are getting louder by the day.

We are launching this site and our shirts in support of this struggle. Our shirts are each designed around a specific theme, a specific injustice. And in our product description for each one, we share with you the background behind that particular theme.

All profits from this venture go to support a children's cause in Palestine. So if you believe in justice, equality and the end of oppression, and are prepared to say so, then please buy a shirt and most importantly, wear it. 

Your voice will be heard. Your voice will make a difference.