Saturday, 4 April 2009

Israel on Trial

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By George Bisharat

Published: April 3, 2009

CHILLING testimony by Israeli soldiers substantiates charges that Israel’s Gaza Strip assault entailed grave violations of international law. The emergence of a predominantly right-wing, nationalist government in Israel suggests that there may be more violations to come.

Hamas’s indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians also constituted war crimes, but do not excuse Israel’s transgressions. While Israel disputes some of the soldiers’ accounts, the evidence suggests that Israel committed the following six offenses:

• Violating its duty to protect the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. Despite Israel’s 2005 “disengagement” from Gaza, the territory remains occupied. Israel unleashed military firepower against a people it is legally bound to protect.

• Imposing collective punishment in the form of a blockade, in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. In June 2007, after Hamas took power in the Gaza Strip, Israel imposed suffocating restrictions on trade and movement. The blockade — an act of war in customary international law — has helped plunge families into poverty, children into malnutrition, and patients denied access to medical treatment into their graves. People in Gaza thus faced Israel’s winter onslaught in particularly weakened conditions.

• Deliberately attacking civilian targets. The laws of war permit attacking a civilian object only when it is making an effective contribution to military action and a definite military advantage is gained by its destruction. Yet an Israeli general, Dan Harel, said, “We are hitting not only terrorists and launchers, but also the whole Hamas government and all its wings.” An Israeli military spokeswoman, Maj. Avital Leibovich, avowed that “anything affiliated with Hamas is a legitimate target.”

Israeli fire destroyed or damaged mosques, hospitals, factories, schools, a key sewage plant, institutions like the parliament, the main ministries, the central prison and police stations, and thousands of houses.

• Willfully killing civilians without military justification. When civilian institutions are struck, civilians — persons who are not members of the armed forces of a warring party, and are not taking direct part in hostilities — are killed.

International law authorizes killings of civilians if the objective of the attack is military, and the means are proportional to the advantage gained. Yet proportionality is irrelevant if the targets of attack were not military to begin with. Gaza government employees — traffic policemen, court clerks, secretaries and others — are not combatants merely because Israel considers Hamas, the governing party, a terrorist organization. Many countries do not regard violence against foreign military occupation as terrorism.

Of 1,434 Palestinians killed in the Gaza invasion, 960 were civilians, including 121 women and 288 children, according to a United Nations special rapporteur, Richard Falk. Israeli military lawyers instructed army commanders that Palestinians who remained in a targeted building after having been warned to leave were “voluntary human shields,” and thus combatants. Israeli gunners “knocked on roofs” — that is, fired first at corners of buildings, before hitting more vulnerable points — to “warn” Palestinian residents to flee.

With nearly all exits from the densely populated Gaza Strip blocked by Israel, and chaos reigning within it, this was a particularly cruel flaunting of international law. Willful killings of civilians that are not required by military necessity are grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, and are considered war crimes under the Nuremberg principles.

• Deliberately employing disproportionate force. Last year, Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, head of Israel’s northern command, speaking on possible future conflicts with neighbors, stated, “We will wield disproportionate power against every village from which shots are fired on Israel, and cause immense damage and destruction.” Such a frank admission of illegal intent can constitute evidence in a criminal prosecution.

• Illegal use of weapons, including white phosphorus. Israel was finally forced to admit, after initial denials, that it employed white phosphorous in the Gaza Strip, though Israel defended its use as legal. White phosphorous may be legally used as an obscurant, not as a weapon, as it burns deeply and is extremely difficult to extinguish.

Israeli political and military personnel who planned, ordered or executed these possible offenses should face criminal prosecution. The appointment of Richard Goldstone, the former war crimes prosecutor from South Africa, to head a fact-finding team into possible war crimes by both parties to the Gaza conflict is an important step in the right direction. The stature of international law is diminished when a nation violates it with impunity.

George Bisharat is a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law.

yes, boycott works.

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Posted on April 4, 2009 by marcy/مارسي newman/نيومان

i often feel annoyed when i get certain responses to the boycott campaign. here are a few such typical responses:

1. it’s too hard, there are too many companies to boycott (the whiney response)

2. i cannot give up my (insert your favorite product here, e.g., coca-cola) (the lazy response)

3. it doesn’t work, it has no effect (the pessimistic response)

of course we know that it does work. it worked in south africa on many levels as the amazing bill fletcher laid out last week in an interview on radio intifada. his life-long work in labor, anti-racist, and anti-apartheid organizing as well as palestinian liberation organizing is discussed in this interview, which gives us a sense of the possible and the probable.

but there is also increasing, tangible evidence of the fact that it is indeed working as in rachel shabi’s report in the guardian this week:

Israeli companies are feeling the impact of boycott moves in Europe, according to surveys, amid growing concern within the Israeli business sector over organised campaigns following the recent attack on Gaza.

Last week, the Israel Manufacturers Association reported that 21% of 90 local exporters who were questioned had felt a drop in demand due to boycotts, mostly from the UK and Scandinavian countries. Last month, a report from the Israel Export Institute reported that 10% of 400 polled exporters received order cancellation notices this year, because of Israel’s assault on Gaza.

“There is no doubt that a red light has been switched on,” Dan Katrivas, head of the foreign trade department at the Israel Manufacturers Association, told Maariv newspaper this week. “We are closely following what’s happening with exporters who are running into problems with boycotts.” He added that in Britain there exists “a special problem regarding the export of agricultural produce from Israel”.

in london, in particular, the boycott movement is getting rather creative as in this story from indymedia about their economic boycott israeli apartheid campaign:

Londoners converged towards Tesco supermarkets in West London in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

Avocados, pomellos, cherry tomatoes, herbs and dates grown in Israel and on illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank were trapped in baskets and trolleys in order to disrupt the sale of such produce and symbolise the need for clear international action against illegal Israeli settlements and Israeli war crimes in the region. Leaflets were placed on the empty shelves explaining the role of Israeli goods in funding Israeli settler colonialism and state violence.

Tesco, and most supermarkets in Britain, stock and sell Israeli goods including produce from illegal Israeli settlements implanted in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. Some of this settlement product is misleadingly labelled ‘West Bank’ leading many customers to believe they are buying Palestinian produce, while some is labelled ‘made in Israel’ even though the settlements are clearly colonial entities outside of Israel’s internationally recognized borders.

criminal-israeli-goods

but here in the above boycott action i continue to be frustrated by these western acts of solidarity that define palestine as only the west bank and gaza. this is a very small fraction of palestine. there are many israeli colonial companies occupying the land of destroyed palestinian villages and that profit off of this land theft and ethnic cleansing. these companies must be boycotted as well–and this includes those american and european companies doing the same thing here. all of this is occupied land. all of these companies must be boycotted.

there is also excellent news coming from the u.s. campaign to end the occupation in the monthly review zine about success with the boycott motorola campaign:

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and allied organizations participating in a national boycott campaign against Motorola welcomed news that Motorola Israel Ltd. has sold its Government Electronics Department, which made several products that enable Israel’s military occupation of and human rights abuses against Palestinians.

The reported sale of the Motorola Israel department occurred just two days after a globally-coordinated day of action to promote campaigns of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel and corporations that profit from its human rights abuses of Palestinians. This day of action and the growing global BDS movement were inspired by the 2005 call from Palestinian civil society for BDS campaigns targeting Israel, similar to campaigns targeting South Africa’s apartheid regime during the 1970s and 1980s.

this is excellent progress and needs to continue to build momentum because while people around the world are actively working to pressure the zionist entity in order to turn it into a pariah state, its partners in crime, mainly the united states, continue to support israeli terrorism as can be gleaned from this amnesty international report:

A massive consignment of US munitions was delivered to Israel in recent weeks, according to information revealed by Amnesty International. The organization received information that the Wehr Elbe, a German cargo ship, chartered and controlled by US Military Sealift Command, docked and unloaded its cargo of reportedly over 300 containers at the Israeli port of Ashdod, just 40km north of Gaza by road on 22 March.

The German ship left the USA for Israel on 20 December, one week before the start of Israeli attacks on Gaza. It was carrying 989 containers of munitions, each of them 20 feet long with a total estimated net weight of 14,000 tons.

Asked about the Wehr Elbe, a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed to Amnesty International that “the unloading of the entire US munitions shipment was successfully completed at Ashdod [Israel] on 22 March”. The spokesperson said that the shipment was destined for a US pre-positioned ammunition stockpile in Israel. Under a US-Israel agreement, munitions from this stockpile may be transferred for Israeli use if necessary.

clearly the u.s. and the zionist entity alike have a history of violating international law as george bisharat makes clear in this electronic intifada article:

Israel’s campaign to rewrite international law to its advantage is deliberate and knowing. As the former head of Israel’s 20-lawyer International Law Division in the Military Advocate General’s office, Daniel Reisner, recently stated: “If you do something for long enough, the world will accept it. The whole of international law is now based on the notion that an act that is forbidden today becomes permissible if executed by enough countries … International law progresses through violations. We invented the targeted assassination thesis and we had to push it. At first there were protrusions that made it hard to insert easily into the legal molds. Eight years later, it is in the center of the bounds of legitimacy.”

In the Gaza fighting, Israel has again tried to transform international law through violations. For example, its military lawyers authorized the bombing of a police cadet graduation ceremony, killing at least 63 young Palestinian men. Under international law, such deliberate killings of civilian police are war crimes. Yet Israel treats all employees of the Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip as terrorists, and thus combatants. Secretaries, court clerks, housing officials, judges — all were, in Israeli eyes, legitimate targets for liquidation.

Israeli jurists also instructed military commanders that any Palestinian who failed to evacuate a building or area after warnings of an impending bombardment was a “voluntary human shield” and thus a participant in combat, subject to lawful attack. One method of warning employed by Israeli gunners, dubbed “knocking on the roof,” was to fire first at a building’s corner, then, a few minutes later, to strike more structurally vulnerable points. To imagine that Gazan civilians — penned into the tiny Gaza Strip by Israeli troops, and surrounded by the chaos of battle — understood this signal is fanciful at best.

Israel has a lengthy history of unpunished abuses of international law — among the most flagrant its decades-long colonization of the West Bank. To its credit, much of the world has refused to ratify Israel’s violations. Unfortunately, our government is an exception, having frequently provided diplomatic cover for Israel’s abuses. Our diplomats have vetoed 42 UN Security Council resolutions to shelter Israel from the consequences of its often illegal behavior.

there are so many ways in which the israeli terrorist state violates laws. not only by bombing and murdering palestinians, but also by the way it continues to steal land and destroy palestinian homes every day. a new report details this staggering history, though only in recent years, although this has gone on since the late 19th century:

At least 19,000 Palestinian homes have been destroyed by Israel, Limes magazine, the Italian geopolitical review publication, reported on Tuesday….

The article breaks down the numbers as follows:

In 5% of cases, demolition is defined as punitive, the magazine said.

In 35% of cases the demolitions were based on home owners lacking proper permits. The magazine reminds its reader, “is important to remember that very often the Palestinians have no other choice but to build illegally because obtaining permits has become almost impossible.” It also notes that 95% of permit applications made in 2000-20007 were denied.

According to the publication, 65% of the demolitions were described as “military,” defined as “homes razed to the ground by the Israeli army during military operations.”

For 2009 data, the magazine quotes the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, which puts the number of homes demolished since January at 32.

The article concludes that the issue of house demolitions is destined to become “An increasingly central issue not only within the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, but also in the international context and is likely to destabilize even the most solid alliances that Israel has with some long-time friends, first of which is the United States.”

these reports are often written by various international agencies and ngos, though they rarely amount to anything because there is not the pressure applied to the regime after the evidence is collected and documented. for instance a new report about the illegality of israeli colonies in al quds:

A confidential report from the European Union, dated March 7th, recently leaked to the media accuses Israel of “using settlement expansion, house demolitions, discriminatory housing policies and the West Bank Separation barrier to actively pursue the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem.”

Recently, Israeli officials announced plans to demolish over 2,000 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, an announcement that was met with anger and outrage from the Palestinian residents, many of whom have lived in East Jerusalem for scores of generations. The new report acknowledges the recent increase in settlement expansion and the plans of the newly-formed Israeli government for the destruction of whole neighborhoods of Palestinian homes at an even greater rate.

The new Jerusalem mayor has announced plans to destroy huge swathes of Palestinian homes and replace them with a Disney-like biblical theme park for tourists. Most affected are the Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah neighborhoods.

The EU report cites Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that prohibits “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory….” Neither shall “The Occupying Power….deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” In addition, numerous UN resolutions established “no legal validity” for settlement building or for East Jerusalem’s annexation.

Yet settlement expansions continue at a “rapid pace” - in the past year alone plans for nearly 5500 new units have been submitted for public approval of which 3000 have already been approved.

The rapid takeover of Palestinian land in East Jerusalem has been taking place largely without international outcry, despite the illegality of the expansion under international law and the signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

just as bisharat discusses in the article quoted above, the zionists always ignore such reports because they can: no one ever does anything to stop them from murdering and stealing and rendering palestinians homeless refugees. here, for example, is a colonial court ruling:

A petition presented by a Palestinian homeowner from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem was rejected by an Israeli court on Wednesday, a decision which will allow home demolitions to move forward.

The homeowner, Darwish Hijazi, presented his home ownership documents to the Israeli court, but the judge rejected the documents. Israeli settlers moved onto Hijazi’s property several years ago, and he was unable to get rid of them or stop them from taking over his land and moving into his home.

Now, despite being the original homeowner and long-time resident, it is Hijazi who will be forced to move to allow the Israeli settlers, who took over parts of his home using violence and force, to remain.

whether it is their so-called “justice system” or the israeli colonists themselves, along with their terrorist army or police, they continue to terrorize palestinians attempting to provoke various methods of ethnic cleansing: just as in 1948 and every day since then. this is what happened in al quds this weekend:

Dozens of Israeli settlers backed by police took over a Palestinian house in the Old City of Jerusalem on Thursday morning.

Ma’an’s correspondent observed settlers raiding the house of Naser Jaber, in the As-Sa’diyeh neighborhood of the Old City. A scuffle took place between the owner and the settlers before police intervened, allowing the settlers to take control of the house and sending the owner away.

Israeli police then imposed a neighborhood lockdown, prohibiting residents from entering or leaving their homes. Several youth were seized during ensuing clashes in the tense half hour between the arrival of the settlers and the total closure of the area.

Jaber went immediately to the court to put forward his case, saying he was going to demand the removal of the settlers from his residence, which is home to eight. Jaber noted that the small area of the Old City is home to seven other families and said there had been a repeated settler presence in the area over the past months.

Also on Thursday the the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem Municipality demolished a shop near the Shmidt School, on Nablus road, just outside of the Old City. The municipality claimed that the shop was built without permits.

Separately, personnel from the Jerusalem Municipality went to the Jerusalem-area village of Al-Issawiya, and handed out several demolition warnings. The men surveyed the area in preparation for the demolitions.

in khalil they are doing the same thing:

Settlers in Hebron took over four shops on Ash-Shuhada Street in the Old City market in the area abutting the illegal Israeli settlement of Abraham Avinu.

Several Ash-Shuhada Street shops were ordered closed in 1994 following the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre. The street is a market road roughly parallel north of the Old City. Access to the street was totally restricted in 2000, so only residents of the area could enter the zone.

Recently pressure from locals and international NGOs have allowed some shops in the area to re-open, although the decision was met with anger and protests from Hebron’s 700-strong settler population, some who live in occupied homes and trailers just north of the street.

The shops occupied by the settlers Friday belong to Azzam E’wewi, Baha E’wewi, Hussam Bader and Muhammad Qawasmi. The shops have been closed since 1994.

and near where i live in nablus more land is set to be confiscated as well:

Israeli authorities issued orders to confiscate more than one thousand dunums of Palestinian lands of the village of Qaryut south of Nablus, head of the villages and municipal affairs office in Nablus Ghassan Daghlas said on Thursday.

On the land a road will be constructed linking the three illegal settlements, He noted that “this decision aims at to construct a three kilometer road to link the Israeli illegal settlement of Shilo, and the illegal settlement outposts of Hayovel and a second known locally as the “Qaryut” outpost.

Daghlas noted that Israeli bulldozers had been surveying the area for days, and that there seemed to be a coordinated effort between soldiers and settlers, who constructed a road barrier near the village of Der Sharaf, while military crews expanded the Yitzhar road after confiscating Palestinian lands adjacent to it.

The village representative also mentioned that several home demolition orders were served in the past weeks in the nearby villages of Tana and At-Tawila, both south of Nablus.

Head of the village council of Qaryot, Abed An-Naser Badawi, told Ma’an that “the settlers along with the soldiers blocked the southern entrance of the village and began to confiscate the land.” The day before he said settlers distributed written orders saying the land would be confiscated.

Qaryot village has a population of more than 2700 people is surrounded with a number of Israeli settlements.

and, of course, israeli terrorists do not only steal land; they steal people too. in khalil there is a new report on the numbers of palestinians kidnapped:

The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) in Hebron district stated in its monthly report that the Israeli army have kidnapped more than 101 Palestinians in several invasions in the province since last March.

Amjad Najjar, head of the Hebron branch of the PPS said “Among the detainees, one woman, 11 patients, 4 children and 17 students, and 12 detainees had been transferred to administrative detention”.

Najjar added that the army kidnapped 361 residents in Hebron since the beginning of this year, including 91 who were kidnapped in February.

“Israeli soldiers committed during the arrests several illegal violations against the prisoners and their families. This included beating them with rifle-butts, vandalising and demolishing their homes, detaining family members in one room, looting money and confiscating documents, computer equipment and mobile phones.” Najjar stated.

Najjar called for human rights institutions and the international community to intervene for the protection of the Palestinian people from the illegal Israeli practices.

likewise in jenin there was an invasion yesterday in which several palestinians were kidnapped:

The Israeli military kidnapped Thursday morning 12 residents, including elders and children, in a village near Jenin, in the northern part of the West Bank.

Eyewitnesses reported that more than 20 military vehicles stormed the village at two after midnight on Thursday, surrounded a neighborhood after closing all entrances, and prevented people from leaving, and even barred from going to dawn prayers at the local mosque.

The residents said that soldiers raided homes, forced dozens out, searched the buildings and deliberately destroyed their contents.

A citizen said that the soldiers occupied his house for several hours, and after searching it they kidnapped his 15-year-old son and took him to unknown destination.

The resident added that soldiers took several young men to the main village square and interrogated them before kidnapping a number of residents.

these are just a few more reasons to continue and expand the boycott movement. do you really need that bottle of coca cola?

WHO: Ramallah authority responsible for blocking treatment of Gaza patients


Source

[ 04/04/2009 - 08:09 AM ]

NEW YORK, (PIC)-- The World Health Organization held the PA leadership in Ramallah fully responsible for the death of tens of Palestinian patients in the Gaza Strip for not approving their treatment abroad.

The acting head of the WHO office in Gaza Strip and the West Bank Tony Lawrence has expressed his organization's concern at the situation in Gaza where sick people could die if not properly treated.

He said that ever since the government in Gaza started to endorse transfer of patients abroad for treatment the authority in Ramallah did not provide approval or necessary financing of those transfers, which complicated the conditions of the patients who suffer from serious diseases.

Lawrence explained that Israel and Egypt were refusing to allow the travel of those patients from Gaza unless the PA in Ramallah approved it.

The UN humanitarian affairs coordinator in the Palestinian lands interfered to find an urgent solution to the situation but to no avail, according to the UN official website.

WHO reported that around 900 sick individuals used to travel for treatment outside Gaza each month, adding that they headed to hospitals in Egypt, Jordan, eastern Jerusalem and Israel.


European campaign asks PA to spare Gaza patients the political wrangling

[ 04/04/2009 - 03:58 PM ]

BRUSSELS, (PIC)-- The European campaign to lift the siege on Gaza has expressed surprise at the news report that the PA in Ramallah was blocking travel of Gaza patients abroad for life-saving medical treatment.

Mohammed Hanun, the representative of the campaign in Italy, said in a press statement on Saturday that the World Health Organization had confirmed that the travel of those patients was hinged on Ramallah's approval as both Egypt and Israel refuses to allow those patients access without prior approval of Ramallah.

He said that his campaign views with utmost concern such a report, adding that refusal of Ramallah authority to approve travel of those patients or to shoulder their expenses would mean the death of more patients with 315 of them already dead because of that siege and inability to travel outside Gaza.

Hanun asked Ramallah to spare the seriously ill citizens in Gaza the inter-Palestinian political wrangling, adding that those patients had enough troubles whether the oppressive siege or the cruel war.

Depriving the Gaza patients of the necessary financing also means deepening the rift between the Gaza strip and the West Bank, he elaborated.

IOF troops assault Dr. Barghouthi during anti-wall march in Al-Ma'sara village


IOF troops assault Dr. Barghouthi during anti-wall march in Al-Ma'sara village

[ 04/04/2009 - 10:16 AM ]

BETHLEHEM, (PIC)-- The IOF troops on Friday assaulted Dr. Mustafa Al-Barghouthi, the secretary-general of the national initiative party, and hundreds of protesters during a weekly anti-wall march in the village of Al-Ma'sara in Bethlehem.

Dozens of the national initiative members, citizens, and foreign activists participated in the weekly march to protest the apartheid policy pursued by Israel.

During the protest, Dr. Barghouthi said that whoever believes in the Palestinians' right to return to their land must impose sanctions on the Israeli government to force it to end its settlement expansion and the apartheid system.

The Palestinian partisan leader added that the agreements which some parties talk about were torn up and dumped in a wastebasket by the Israeli occupation, so the fighting over the Palestinian authority is useless especially when the new Israeli premier declares that he will never allow any Palestinian entity to have sovereignty or control over borders, resources, waters and airspace.

In Ramallah, two journalists were wounded and dozens of protesters suffered suffocation when IOF troops fired live bullets and tear gas canisters at the weakly anti-wall protest held yesterday in Bi'lin village on the anniversary of Land Day.

The protesters including foreign activists chanted slogans and carried banners condemning the policy of settlement, apartheid and judaization perused by Israel in the Palestinian occupied lands.

In another context, the IOF troops resumed their night raids in the Bi'lin village, where they stormed the village during the last few days amid intensive gunfire which caused panic among the citizens especially the children.

For its part, the Hebrew radio reported Friday that three Israeli soldiers and one Palestinian protester were slightly injured during the weekly anti-wall protest held in the Ni'lin village in Ramallah.

South of Bethlehem, four Palestinian young men from Beit Fajjar were seriously injured when IOF troops stopped them and severely beat them with their rifle butts without any known reason, according to Palestinian local sources.

In the context of the Israeli settlers' assaults on Palestinians, local sources from Al-Khalil city said that Israeli settlers robbed four Palestinian commercial stores in the market of ancient clothing adjacent to the settlement of Avraham Avinu.

The sources asserted that the Israeli settlers escalated lately their aggressive attacks on Palestinian homes and property in Al-Khalil.

Recognise Resistance! Delist Hamas now

Recognise Resistance! Delist Hamas now

By Mary Rizzo Apr 4th, 2009 at 8:13 •


On the occasion of the June 2009 European elections, we are launching an urgent appeal to all candidates for the 736 seats in the European parliament.
We ask that they actively pursue the immediate and unconditional removal of Hamas and all other Palestinian liberation organizations from the European list of proscribed terrorist organizations. We further ask that they acknowledge the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and, by so doing, recognise, Hamas as a legitimate voice for the Palestinian people's aspirations for national liberation.
http://www.recogniseresistance.net/

http://www.recogniseresistance.net/index.php

Initial Signatories:

275 personalities on March 30th 2009




Mary Rizzo is an art restorer, translator and writer living in Italy. Editor and co-founder of Palestine Think Tank, co-founder of Tlaxcala translations collective. Her personal blog is Peacepalestine.
Email this author All posts by Mary Rizzo

The tale of two Ambassadors

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The tale of two ambassadors
both have represented the PLO,
which means that they represent the Palestinian Nation.

The first Ambassador based in Poland
has had a reception made in honour of the Israeli Ambassador
who was leaving Poland.
Which means that the cakes and the champagne was paid by
the Palestinian national budget and of course it means that
the Palestinians are happy and satisfied by the behaviour of
the Government of that Israeli Ambassador.
You may judge here the diplomatic-conseque nces of such
a party-reception- invitation.

1000 Miles away, in Moscow , a second Palestinian Ambassador
Mr. Afifi Saffieh has attended a popular meeting ,
without champagne and without cakes , which was in support of Gaza
and which was obviously organised by the Hamas supporters, in Moscow.

Mr. Mahmoud Abbas being what he is.....
( no details needed here)
was angry at Mr. Afif Safieh and has fired him .

I know Mr. Saffieh , personally , who was (our) the Palestinian Ambassador
here in the Hague (1987) and I would like to confirm that when it comes
to diplomatic-represen tation and to diplomatic-skills
and education in general
, Mr. Abbas does not fit to become
the " Tea-boy " to Mr. Saffieh .


Of course I do not know Mr. Abbas , personally ,
but what I have seen and heard gives me a clear picture
about Abou Mazen (Mr. Abbas) when I can compare the two
personalities .

Mr. Affif Safieh is even fit to become Palestine's next foreign-minister,
should my opinion count......

But things being what they are , and corruption , nepotism,
opportunism and decay , all being so well implanted in Ramallah ,
those two incidents ( if not two accidents) have had to happen.

Mr. Affif Safieh would make any Amabssador jealous
which is no surprise why even the AIPAC insisted on having him
being removed from Washington , last year........

It is high time for Mr. Abbas to leave and to ask for asylum
in Washington or in Tel Aviv and to let the "good-guys" do their work.

Raja Chemayel
Amsterdam 28.03.09


My friend Affif .

http://www.bethlehemassoc.org/Activities/Afif%20Safieh.jpg



Posted by Тлакскала at 8:48 PM

Reham Alhelsi: Jerusalem, the heart, soul and home of Palestine

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By Reham Alhelsi • Apr 4th, 2009 at 7:37 • Category: Analysis, Children's Corner, Culture and Heritage, Israel, Newswire, Palestine, Resistance, Somoud: Arab Voices of Resistance, Zionism


In 1929 Ben-Gurion said: “Jerusalem is not the same thing to the Arabs as it is to the Jews”. While he meant to say that Palestinians were not part of Jerusalem and are not attached to it as the Jews are, I would say, he almost got it right: Jerusalem is not the same thing to the Palestinians as it is to the Zionists. To us, Jerusalem is a home and an integral part of each of us, to the Zionists it is but another construction site, for he who loves a city would not destroy it as the Zionists are doing right now with Jerusalem.


The distance between Sawahreh and Jerusalem is a relatively short one. Using a car, one would need 15 to 20 minutes, checkpoint stops excluded. Riding Sawahreh buses, which were old and rusty, it usually took us some 30 minutes, sometimes a bit more depending on the number of stops the bus made. We used to take the bus five days a week to go to school and come back home. On rainy days, the iron seats would be wet and cold, in summer they would be boiling hot. Nevertheless, my sister and I would race to find an empty seat near the window. We enjoyed the trip to Jerusalem, especially when the bus went up and down the Gethsemane Church road. To the left, facing the walls of the Old City, one would see the golden Dome of the Rock. It would get bigger or smaller as you go up and down the road. I preferred the trip up the road towards Ras Al-Amud. I would watch closely awaiting the point when the Dome would start appearing, seemingly out of nowhere. To one seeing this for the first time, it would be a nice surprise. And as the bus travels up the road, it gets bigger and bigger, till at the top of the road you have somewhat a full view of the Dome of the Rock. When I was at school, I enjoyed watching friends and relatives from Dheisheh and Bethlehem witness this miracle. A number of times, my sister and I were forced to walk all the way from Jerusalem to Sawahreh. On Saturdays there were usually fewer buses moving on the various lines, so a couple of times we had to walk back home after finishing classes. These “forced walks” were seldom, and although on foot it took us much longer to get to Sawahreh, and we would reach home completely tired and with burning feet, we enjoyed the walks. We would pass the walls of the Old City and the ancient tree which looked like something out of a horror movie. It is said that the tree is very old, and it does look it, but somehow it didn’t impress me. It looked more dead than alive, not like the green olive trees or the bloomy almond trees you find in Palestinian fields and on hilltops. From the point where the tree stood, one had a marvelous view of Mount of Olives and the Palestinian neighborhoods in the area.


Josef Weitz, the polish director of the Jewish National Fund’s Land Settlement Department in charge of illegal Zionist colonization in Palestine and the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians, wrote in 1940: “among ourselves it must be clear that there is no room for both people in this country. After the Arabs are transferred, the country will be wide open for us, with the Arabs staying the country will remain narrow and restricted …. There is no room for compromise on this point … land purchasing … will not bring about the state … the only way is to transfer the Arabs from here to neighboring countries, all of them, except perhaps Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Old Jerusalem. Not a single village or a single tribe must be left. And the transfer must be done through their absorption in Iraq and Syria and even in Transjordan. For that goal, money will be found - even a lot of money. And only then will the country be able to absorb millions of Jews …. There is no other solution.” In addition to calling for the transfer of Palestinians, Weitz claimed Old Jerusalem is to be “spared” the ethnic cleansing, but facts on the ground tell a completely different story. Since its establishment, the Zionist state has been implementing a systematic policy of Judaizing Jerusalem and ethnically cleansing its original Palestinian residents. Even when spreading propaganda about an empty land waiting for its long lost sons to come back, Zionist leaders admitted among themselves that the land was populated and was prosperous. English Zionist Israel Zangwill, famous for his quote: “Palestine is a country without a people; the Jews are a people without a country”, which later became the infamous Zionist slogan: A land without a people for a people without a land, said in a speech to a Zionist group in the UK in 1905: “Palestine proper has already its inhabitants. The pashalik (province) of Jerusalem is already twice as thickly populated as the United States, having 52 souls to the square mile and not 25% of them Jews”. In 1948 Israel occupied 85% of Jerusalem and forcibly expelled up to 80,000 Palestinians from their homes in West Jerusalem and 40 other surrounding villages. The villages were then destroyed to prevent their inhabitants from returning back to them, and their property was transferred to the Israeli state under the “Absentee Law” of 1950. In 1967 Israel occupied the rest of Jerusalem, and established the first illegal Jewish settlement inside the Old City. More than 700 Palestinian homes and buildings were either destroyed or expropriated. Alone in the Mughrabi Quarter of the Old City, over 6,000 Palestinians were evicted and 125 houses were destroyed in order to create a plaza in front of the Western Wall. Israel doubled the size of the Israeli municipal boundaries of the city by annexing 70 km² of lands belonging to 28 villages in the West Bank. In 1980 Israel annexed East Jerusalem officially, and in subsequent years Palestinian properties in Silwan and the Muslim Quarter of the Old City were turned over to Jewish settler organizations. Despite UN General Assembly Resolution 2253 ordering Israel “to desist forthwith from taking any action which would alter the status of Jerusalem”, the Israeli government confiscated over 60 km² of Palestinian land in East Jerusalem (i.e. 86.5% of its total land area) over the years for Jewish use.


We often used go to the Old City, either for shopping or just to enjoy the beauty of the narrow streets and alleys. Beautiful old facades would meet one all the way, with beautiful architecture that is the trademark of the Old City and a reminder of its Arabic heritage. This Old City is nothing like the Old Town Centres one would see all over Europe, from which illegal Jewish settlers come, and into which they are trying to turn Jerusalem. Two of my childhood friends, who are also sisters, live in the old city. They are originally from Sawahreh who each married a Jerusalemite and moved to Jerusalem. The first time I went to visit them I was shocked at the state of their dwelling. They had a relatively big house in Sawahreh, and although they grew up in a large family, there was enough space inside and around the house for everyone, so one didn’t feel imprisoned. Now, they both had families and each was living in a room with her family, sharing the rest of the house with other family members. There was no place for privacy there and the over-crowdedness was unbearable. One of them lived in a room built on the roof of the family house. We had to climb a ladder to enter the room, which was divided into smaller rooms in an effort to give it the shape of an apartment and provide some privacy. We went for a walk inside the Old City and every now and then my friends would point out some neighbors gathering in the narrow streets in front of their houses or children playing in the streets, and talk about how people here have little space and the children have no gardens or playgrounds. Many houses are in such a miserable state and need renovation but often the municipality doesn’t allow it, using this as yet another method to force people out of their homes. Although Palestinian Jerusalemites have to pay taxes, they receive very little municipal services in return. According to B’Tselem: “since the annexation of Jerusalem, the municipality has built almost no new school, public building, or medical clinic for Palestinians.” …. “Entire Palestinian neighborhoods are not connected to a sewage system and do not have paved roads or sidewalks”. During my last visit to Palestine, and despite their continuous invitations, I was not able to visit my friends in Jerusalem and had to be content with seeing them in Sawahreh. When their brother was preparing to leave to Mecca for the Hajj season, the whole family came to say goodbye, except one of the sisters. Although she had been married to a Jerusalemite resident and living in the Old City for more than 10 years, she only possesses a temporary permit allowing her to reside in the city. This permit has to be renewed again and again, and it happened that her permit had expired and as she was waiting for a renewal, she couldn’t come and say goodbye to her brother. She didn’t want to risk being caught at one of the checkpoints and arrested for not having the needed papers and maybe lose her right to live in the city forever and thus be disconnected from her family. According to Israeli law, Palestinian Jerusalemites, although born in Jerusalem like their ancestors before them, hold the status of “permanent resident”, giving them the same status as foreigners wishing to live in the country, while illegal settlers are given the status of citizens.


There is also a distinct policy of discrimination in planning and building regulations applying in Jerusalem. Outline plans for Palestinian neighborhoods prepared by the Israeli Jerusalem municipality have a common feature, i.e., about 40% of the area is designated as “open landscape area” where building is not allowed. For Palestinian building purposes, only some 11% of the lands of East Jerusalem are allocated for Palestinian use, and these are already over-crowded building areas, similar to the demarcation plans of the IOF for Zone C in the West Bank. In addition to the rarity of obtaining building licenses, Palestinians are forced to build “illegally” on their lands. While illegal constructions built by settlers are adjusted into building plans to make them retrospectively legal, Palestinians are not given permits to build on their own lands. As illegal settlements expand, Palestinian communities in Jerusalem and around it are prevented from building and expanding, thus limiting their natural expansion and strangling them. According to a report of the Society of Arab Studies published in early 2008: Israel had had demolished 8,500 Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem since 1967, and alone between January 2000 and September 2007 some 786 Palestinian houses had been demolished, leaving thousands homeless. Another 20,000 houses are threatened to be demolished under the pretext of illegal construction. B’Tselem statistics on building starts in Jerusalem for the period 2000 to 2006 show that of the 14,472 registered building starts, 11,114 were in Jewish neighborhoods, while only 3,358 were in Palestinian neighborhoods. In addition, housing density in Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem was 23.8 m²/person in 2002 in comparison to a housing density of 11.9 m²/person in Palestinian neighborhoods.


Over-crowdedness is not a feature restricted to Palestinian houses of the Old City, but applies to most Arab dwellings in Jerusalem. As far as I can remember, all of my classmates whose houses in Jerusalem I visited lived in small apartments either in old houses or in multi-apartment buildings. One friend lived in the second floor of a two-story typical Jerusalemite house, close to where religious Jews lived. Often when visiting her, we would encounter groups of these religious Jews with their typical long black clothes, back hats and long beards. The women wore head scarves, long skirts and wool stockings even in summer. The part of the house she lived in was even too crowded for the small family, but I found it brave of them to continue living there, despite their closeness to these settlers. Other friends lived in other parts of the City, all in small apartments. I always wondered why they lived in such apartments when they were attending private schools that cost much money, when their parents brought them to school in fancy cars and when they always wore beautiful expensive clothes. If they had the money to buy cars and nice clothes, they could afford bigger apartments. I had no idea about the building restrictions and all the taxes Palestinians were subjected to in Jerusalem. I think in their shoes, I would rather choke in an overcrowded room rather than leave Jerusalem of my own free will.


The Israeli Jerusalem Master Plan of 2000, serving till 2020, aims at imposing Jewish character on the city and diminishing the Palestinian population to 12%. According to the plan, the total city area is 142 km² and the boundary of the western part of the city is extended by 40%. 24.4% of East Jerusalem is zoned as “green natural” area where no building is allowed. Currently, Israel is undertaking a massive eviction and demolition process in East Jerusalem neighborhoods. In 2007 the Israelis started the construction of a Jewish settlement inside the Old City’s Muslim Quarter with more than 20 housing units and a domed synagogue. Nearby in the so-called “Holy Basin” area, Palestinians are systematically being thrown out of the area, extending from the Kidron Valley, the Mount of Olives to nearby Palestinian neighborhoods, and replaced by Jews. This March, two more houses were evicted in Sheikh Jarrah, and 88 houses in Al Bustan neighborhood in Silwan are to be evicted and demolished. Thus, over 1,500 Jerusalemites will be made homeless to make place for a national garden. Similar destiny awaits 60% of the houses in the Wad Hilwa neighborhood in Silwan.


Leaving the Old City, and going up the Gethsemane road, one would reach Ras Al-Amod and Silwan. To separate Jerusalem from the surrounding Palestinian environment, a ring of Jewish settlements has been created in and around the Old City, expanding from the Jewish Quarter to the illegal settlements in Ras Al-Amud and Silwan and the Jewish Cemetery on the Mount of Olives. In Ras Al-Amud Palestinian houses next to the Jewish Cemetery are separated only by a low wall. Here, dead Israelis have more rights and more place than living Palestinians. I remember the Israeli police station opposite the Jewish Cemetery. As I grew up, I watched that police station change into a “prison”. It was a simple building at the beginning, later to be surrounded with barbed wire. Then there was a checkpoint installed opposite it. No wonder these policemen don’t feel safe here, I always thought upon passing the police station, this land doesn’t belong to them and deep inside they know it. This police station was planted in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods, with only dead Israelis in the nearby cemetery as company. They would stop Palestinian buses and cars and delay people going to work, school and hospital. After 1967, lands belonging to the Al-Ghoul family were confiscated and sold in 1990 to US Jewish millionaire Irving Moskovitz who developed a plan for the construction of an illegal settlement with 132 housing units on 14,7 Dunums of the stolen Palestinian land. The plan was frozen for some time because of its sensitive nature, only to be approved in 1999 by none other than Ehud Barak. As shameless as they are, the illegal Jewish settlers named their illegal settlement Maale Zaytim, or Olive Heights, maybe in celebration of the thousands of olive trees they uprooted from Palestinian fields to build their illegal settlements. This settlement aimed at forming continuity with the Jewish cemetery opposite it and other illegal structures on the Mount of Olives, thus contributing to the ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem. The first illegal settlers moved into the settlement in 2003. In 2005, while the Palestinians were busy “negotiating” peace with Israel, the settlers and the IOF were busy dividing Palestinian land among them. The police station in Silwan was turned over to settler committees and incorporated in Maale Zayton, in exchange for a new one that was built in the E-1 area. According to ARIJ, Palestinians in Ras Al-Amud are only allowed to build on 55-65% of the total land area whereas the settlers are allowed to build on 115% of the total area. Also, the Palestinians are allowed a maximum of two floors per housing unit, while the settlers are allowed a maximum of seven floors per housing unit.


Many Palestinians were twice ethnically cleansed from Jerusalem; first from West Jerusalem and later from East Jerusalem. Many of those who were forced out of West Jerusalem and settled in East Jerusalem are today threatened with eviction on the invented ground that the land doesn’t belong to them. At the same time, illegal Jewish settlers, coming from the United States, Europe or anywhere else in the world have a right to a city in which neither they nor their ancestors own a handful of earth. Today, Palestinians make 34% of the total population of Jerusalem, while 55% of the Jewish population of the city lives in 34 illegal settlements in and around Jerusalem. Of the total population of the Old City, only 9% are Jews. Travelling to Bethlehem through West Jerusalem, one would leave the typical Palestinian Arab landscape of East Jerusalem and enter an artificial one. Travelling this road, I used to think that this must be what Europe looks like. It was nothing like East Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah or any part of Palestine that I knew. It had nothing of the magic of East Jerusalem that attracts one and leaves everlasting memories. Although we used to travel this road frequently some 20 years ago, the only recollections I have of it are some scattered images of similar tall grey buildings that showed neither beauty nor good taste. Now, after seeing Europe, I know that the Zionists were not even able to imitate European cities. After destroying Palestinian Jerusalem, all they were able to create in its place was a shapeless town planted with building after building, their boring rhythm interrupted by more colorless side-roads and stores. The only houses worth watching were the few Palestinian houses confiscated but left undamaged. They were old, beautiful, built by Palestinian hands and now illegally occupied, and most probably shown to tourists as examples of Jewish architecture or Jewish existence in the city. They were the originals that stood like islands surrounded by seas of artificial architecture. The beauty of these houses lay in the fact that they were so in place, while their surroundings were strangers to the land.


To further its policies of Judaizing Jerusalem, measures and plans have been instrumented to cut East Jerusalem from the rest of the Palestinian Territories and prevent the establishment of a contiguous Palestinian state, including land confiscation, illegal settlement activity, the Apartheid Wall, house demolition and revoking residency rights. After 1967, Israel activated the “Land Ordinance” of the British Mandate to confiscate 85% of the lands within the illegally expanded Jerusalem area. The original area of West Jerusalem tripled and the municipal boundaries of East Jerusalem were expanded from 6.5 km² to 71 km², to include large territories with minimum Palestinians. So, while densely populated Palestinian communities were excluded, the lands of these communities were included within the new illegal boundaries. At the same time, settler organizations were allowed to build settlement cores inside Palestinian communities such as Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah. This January the IOF issued orders to annex 24 Dunums from lands belonging to Husan and Nahhalin villages in Bethlehem in order to expand the illegal Jewish settlement Gush Azion. This comes as part of the “Greater Jerusalem” scheme, which aims at annexing more Palestinian land to Jerusalem and expanding settlements. So far, this plan has annexed 72,000 Dunums of Palestinian land. Further Palestinian land was confiscated for the construction of an illegal tramway that will connect illegal settlements in the West Bank with Jerusalem. This will be a Jewish-only tramway system.


An additional 19.2% of land owned by Palestinians in Jerusalem and 5.3% of Palestinian owned West Bank land were illegally confiscated by Israel for the construction of the Apartheid Wall. This Wall runs along the illegal Jerusalem municipal boundaries set by the Israel, including East Jerusalem and the annexed parts of the West Bank. By September 2007 11,100 Dunums were confiscated for the construction of the Wall and 40,985 Dunums will be disconnected from their owners. Upon completion, the Apartheid Wall around Jerusalem will be 181 km long. This wall affects the daily life of 27 Palestinian Jerusalemite communities. Dozens of Palestinian houses have been demolished because of the Wall and many more have received demolition orders.15,000 Palestinians with Jerusalem IDs living outside the Wall will be denied access to Jerusalem and 1835 families have been forced to move home. According to a report of the Civil Committee of the Rights of Palestinians in Jerusalem published in September 2007: 21.4% of the Palestinian families have been separated from relatives by the Apartheid Wall (15.5% inside and 32.6% outside the wall). 18% of the families live apart from the father and 27% of them apart from the mother. And 25% of the Palestinian-owned shops have been closed down due to the restrictions on Palestinian movement and the high taxes Palestinians living in Jerusalem have to pay.


More than 100,000 Palestinians live in towns and villages around Jerusalem. These areas have always been an integral part of Jerusalem, and depended on the city for their livelihood. Through the construction of the Wall they lost access to their businesses, schools and hospitals. Also, many residents of East Jerusalem own lands in the surrounding villages. Because of the housing shortage and the over-crowdedness in East Jerusalem, they were forced to build houses around Jerusalem, which now lie behind the Wall. Sawahreh is one of the Palestinian communities affected by the Apartheid Wall. Many families have been separated because of Wall, and others have been forced to leave their own houses and share dwelling with other family members in Jerusalem, so as not to lose their Jerusalem IDs. In my neighborhood alone, several houses stand empty, among which are 3 houses belonging to one family. The family from West Sawahreh has lands in East Sawahreh, like many others families here, both parts of Sawahreh having been one body before Israel decided to divide it and divide the community. With the family growing, and the sons getting married and establishing families of their own, the family house in West Sawahreh was getting too crowded. West Sawahreh lies within the Israeli municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, and thus building permits for Palestinians are rarely given. Each brother built a separate house for his family in East Sawahreh, and the remaining piece of land around the houses was planted with trees. Nearby stands the house of another neighbor, the eldest son of an East Sawahreh family who married a relative from West Sawahreh some twenty years ago. All these houses stand empty now. Their owners, who carry Jerusalem IDs, are forced in live in overcrowded rooms in West Sawahreh because the Jerusalem municipality gave them the choice of living on their lands behind the Wall or losing their Jerusalem IDs. The inhabitants of Sawahreh, whether East or West, have always considered themselves part of Jerusalem, and for those among them carrying a Jerusalem ID, the loss of this ID would mean losing their natural right to the city. But this is not all. Inspectors from the Israeli Jerusalem municipality often come announced and check the dwellings of these families, if they actually live there, and interrogate them about their daily life. One friend told me that she came back home one day after an appointment at a health centre to find the municipality employees waiting for her. They insisted on knowing where she was and what she was doing and this was not their only “visit”. Many Israelis have double citizenship, and spend most of the year in the United States or in Europe, where they have homes and businesses, but they are never subjected to questioning by municipality inspectors or get their residency revoked. Between 1967 and 2007 Israel revoked the residency right of 8,269 Palestinians. This “silent transfer” is one way of ethnically cleansing Palestinian Jerusalemites.


One time, travelling along the main road in Ubediyyeh with one of my uncles and a friend of his, he shouted at his friend to stop the car at a certain point. To the left side of the road we could see Jerusalem extending on the hills opposite us. My uncle said that this is the best point to see the Dome of the Rock on a clear day and both discussed what time was the best time and from which point exactly. What drew my attention wasn’t the fact that one could see the Dome of the Rock from here, because I could see the Dome from the roof of my house. It was the excitement I could hear in my uncle’s voice and that of his friend. Men, who had been often imprisoned, tortured and injured, sometimes seriously, by the IOF, filled with excitement at the prospect of seeing the Dome of the Rock “on a clear day”. This uncle had been shot in the chest by the IOF with a live bullet, in the head with a rubber bullet and his kneecap was completely crushed during the first Intifada, to mention a few of his injuries. He has a 70% handicap in his leg and is in pain most of the time, which he often tries to hide so as not to worry his wife and children. Is this what they had been imprisoned, tortured and injured for? No, it wasn’t, because I know that to them independence without the Right to Return and without Jerusalem is no independence, but a farce.


Sources:

http://www.arij.org/

http://www.peacenow.org/

http://www.poica.org/

http://www.btselem.org/

http://www.imemc.org/


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Reham Alhelsi is a Jerusalem-born Palestinian. She has worked extensively in the Palestinian Broadcasting Company and since 2000, when she moved to Germany, has trained at various radio and TV networks including Deutsche Welle, SWR and WDR. She is currently writing her PhD in Regional Planning with a focus on Palestinian Land Management and local government.
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Obama’s Lies & Tent City

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Posted by Roqayah On April - 2 - 2009

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I honestly do not take such pictures as comical items to be taken lightly,especially seeing first hand the trouble that the Obama Administration has already caused (ex.The Insane Stimulus ‘plan’)
Obama is,literally,being made out to be a savior not just to the United States - but apparently all around to the world for those who were sick and tired of the Bush Regimes reign of terror.

Many people are foolish enough to believe that a cordial and intellectual politician who has aimed his falcon eyes on Pakistan,Iran and Afghanistan is anything but..a politician.
Why even compare this man to Bush? Is it because it is seemingly easier on our conscience since Obama’s IQ seems to surpass that of George W. Bush?
Is it because Obama has a dashing smile,and a respectful demeanor?

It can’t be because you honestly believe that he will pull the USA out of the draining recession and incoming depression - nor can it be the fact that he blatantly lied about Iraq.

In a speech in Sep 2004 in Illinois was against withdrawal of troops and thought it was a slap against the troops if it was done so (Video can be found here)


Here is a closer to look at some other issues when it comes to the Iraq war:
1. In September, 2008, the 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT) - after months of preparation - is ordered to Iraq. (One of two SBCTs that were then scheduled to replace the two currently in Iraq)

2. In February, 2009, President Obama announces his Iraq drawdown/Afghanistan surge - the 5th SBCT will be diverted to Afghanistan instead of Iraq.

3. March, 2009, the DoD announces the 4th SBCT will deploy to Iraq this fall, several months ahead of the original schedule replacing the 5th SBCT in the rotation in order to maintain two Stryker Brigades in Iraq.

This is political theater at its best - no one can deny this.

Not only has Obama been lying and playing rhetorical mind games about the Iraq and Afghanistan war(s) - he has also been lying about the economy:

On January 9th, 2009, Obama said, “There is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help to jump-start the economy.”

However, that statement is false.

Notwithstanding reports that all economists are now Keynesians and that we all support a big increase in the burden of government, we the undersigned do not believe that more government spending is a way to improve economic performance. More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan’s “lost decade” in the 1990s. As such, it is a triumph of hope over experience to believe that more government spending will help the U.S. today. To improve the economy, policymakers should focus on reforms that remove impediments to work, saving, investment and production. Lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth.”
Signed by 200 academic economists, including three Nobel prize-winners.


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Tent City in Sacramento

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I am no pessimist but I can surely see the differences between Obama and George W. Bush - stunningly,there aren’t very many many.
You make your own choice,and I shall make mine.

Jews that are not jews! "The 13th tribe" Book

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The Thirteenth Tribe (1976) is a book by Arthur Koestler(a Hungarian jew).

It advances the controversial thesis that North/East European Jews and their descendants, or Ashkenazim, are not descended from the Israelites of antiquity, but from a group of Khazars, a people originating in the Caucasus region (historical Khazaria) who converted to Judaism in the 8th century and were later forced to move westwards into current Eastern Europe (Russia, Hungary, Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, and other places).

Note: In Judaism there is no conversion.

Download the book:
The 13th Tribe
http://free-ebooks-spot.blogspot.com/2009/04/13th-tribe-by-arthur-koestler.html

UN appoints Gaza war investigator

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The United Nations has appointed a former war crimes prosecutor to investigate offences allegedly committed by Israeli and Palestinian fighters during Israel's war on Gaza.

Richard Goldstone, a Jewish judge from South Africa, will lead a fact-finding team on the mission, ordered by the Human Rights Council in January.

"I am confident the mission will be in a position to assess, in an independent and impartial manner, all human rights and humanitarian law violations committed in the context of the Gaza conflict," Goldstone said in a statement issued on Friday.

Other members of the group are Christine Chinkin, a British professor of international law, Hina Jilani, a Pakistani lawyer and retired Irish army colonel Desmond Travers.

Palestinian focus

The investigation's mandate is to focus only on Palestinian victims of the 22-day war.

More than 1,100 Palestinians were killed when Israel launched a two-week ground offensive on Gaza in December and January after a week of aerial bombardment.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights put the final death toll at 1,417, including 926 civilians, and published a list of their names.

The Israeli military, however, says only 295 civilians were among 1,116 Palestinians killed between December 27 and January 18, without providing a list of the dead.

It insists it did everything it could to prevent casualties among Gaza civilians during the war, including dropping leaflets and sending phone messages to civilians to evacuate certain areas.

The military also claims Hamas fighters used civilians as human shields, booby-trapped homes and shot at troops from densely populated areas.

Israeli co-operation

Israeli officials on Friday did not say whether or not they would co-operate with the UN investigation.

It has rejected previous human rights council investigations, including one led by Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, calling them "biased".

The Israeli military earlier in the week closed its own investigation into claims that Israeli troops shot unarmed Palestinian women and children during the Gaza war.

Military investigators said on Monday that they "found crucial components of [the allegations] were based on hearsay and were not supported by specific personal knowledge".

Source:

Posted by Chet at 8:37 PM

The NLG’s report on the 2009 onslaught on Gaza

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April 3, 2009

nlg-gaza-report

“During its 22 day offensive, Israeli forces killed more than 1400 Palestinians, including at least 288 children, and injured over 5300, of which at least 1606 were children. The majority of those killed were civilians. Two weeks after Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire, a National Lawyers Guild Delegation of seven attorneys and one law student traveled to Gaza to investigate the circumstances that led to the massive Palestinian casualties, and to determine what, if any, violations of international law occurred, and whether U.S. domestic law was violated as a consequence.

The Delegation found more than ample evidence to establish a prima facie case that the Israeli military committed significant violations of international law in Gaza from December 27, 2008, to January 18, 2009.” [my emphasis]

Read the rest of the report here


Posted by ed~

“Shifting Dimensions of the Palestinian Question”

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April 3, 2009
Posted by ed~

Friday, 3 April 2009

Turks are concerned that the Israelis are developing ties with both Iraqi Kurds & the anti-Iran PJAK...

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A CFR Brief, here
"...For their part, the Turks were concerned about reports that the Israelis were developing ties with both the Iraqi Kurds and an organization related to the PKK, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan or PJAK, which is battling Iran. Ankara also argues that Israeli actions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip only undermine their efforts and those of others to broker peace..... There is also a palpable sense in the Middle East that Turkish activism, while helpful at times, can nevertheless undermine the efforts of more traditional regional powers like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. ....."

Gaza farmers commemorate Land Day

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Report, PCHR, 3 April 2009




Jamal al-Bassyuni (far right) and local activists from Beit Hanoun celebrate Land Day. (Sarah Malian/PCHR)
As farmer Jamal al-Bassyuni plucked a stalk of ripening wheat, a posse of young men danced in his field. The dancers were flanked by a lively crowd, many of them women wearing the traditional Palestinian embroidered thob dress. Despite the nearby rubble of destroyed houses, and tracts of land laid to waste by bulldozers and tanks, the mood was defiantly sunny. Local farmers and their supporters were celebrating Palestinian Land Day.

Land Day was launched in 1976, as a commemoration of the deaths of six Palestinian citizens of northern Israel killed by the Israeli military as they demonstrated against expropriation of their land. It has become an important symbolic day of action across the Occupied Palestinian Territories, highlighting the plight faced by farmers like Jamal al-Bassyuni and his family, who live in Ezbat Beit Hanoun on the northern edge of the Gaza Strip.

"I have worked on this land with my brothers for sixteen years" says Jamal. His family owns 360 dunams (a dunam is the equivalent of 1,000 square meters) of land that stretch right up to the infamous Erez border crossing.

"If you had visited here even ten years ago you would have seen why we love this land so much. There were trees everywhere: we had apple, orange and lemon trees, and we grew olives, grapes, pears, almonds, pomegranates, dates and mirabella plums. Beit Hanoun was a garden."

Local farmers across Ezbat Beit Hanoun were renowned for their citrus fruits, especially the orange trees whose blossom famously perfumed the air. But these days there is only a smattering of fruit trees left. Since the beginning of the second intifada in September 2000, Israeli bulldozers and tanks have destroyed more than 42,000 dunams of agricultural land in the Gaza Strip, the vast majority of it in border areas like Ezbat Beit Hanoun and the farmland in the eastern Gaza Strip.

Jamal says his land has been bulldozed many times. "When our trees were first destroyed in 2002 we replanted them" he says. "But our land was bulldozed again in 2003, then 2004, and the following years as well. Every time we replanted, the bulldozers would come back and destroy our work again. We had been living here for a long time, but the Israelis finally drove us off our own land."

After years of Israeli incursions onto their land, the al-Bassyuni family eventually left their farmhouse and moved to a house on the edge of nearby Beit Hanoun town. They worked on their land during daylight hours, and employed a local man, 36-year-old Mousa Mohamed al-Jeraitli, to guard the farmhouse at night. On 5 January 2009, Mousa al-Jeraitli and his family were inside the farmhouse when it was struck by an Israeli projectile. Mousa was killed and one of his sons was injured in the attack. The farmhouse was also destroyed.

During the recent military offensive in Gaza more than 14,000 homes were destroyed or damaged and several thousand more dunams of land were ravaged by tanks and bulldozers. The scale of destruction of land and civilian property across Gaza indicates Israel's intention to systematically destroy Palestinian homes and their livelihoods.

Farmers across the Gaza Strip, especially those living in border areas, continue to face danger if they attempt to work their own land. Israel's unilaterally-declared "buffer zone" of 350 meters inside Gaza's borders has continually been expanded by Israeli military incursions, and farmers living more than a kilometer from the border have had their fields destroyed. Farmers report being shot at by Israeli soldiers as they try to plant or harvest their crops and the border areas are gradually being emptied as more and more families are being driven from their own land.

As the dancers stamp and cheer for the land, Jamal al-Bassyuni points to the ruins of his former home. "All the years we lived here we had no electricity" he says. "But we had our farm, and our land gives us our feeling for life. I know every inch of this land, and my family still come here every day, though we are afraid, especially after the war and what happened here. We are not growing trees here now, but we are still planting wheat and vegetables. Because in our hearts we are farmers."

This report is part of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights series "Aftermath" that looks at the aftermath of Israel's 22-day offensive on the Gaza Strip, and the ongoing impact it is having on the civilian population.


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BY TOPIC: Gaza massacres

Not an analogy: Israel and the crime of apartheid

Link
Hazem Jamjoum, The Electronic Intifada, 3 April 2009




Palestinians in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron demonstrate against Israeli "apartheid," 30 March 2009. (Mamoun Wazwaz/MaanImages)

In recent years, increasing numbers of individuals around the world have begun adopting and developing an analysis of Israel as an apartheid regime. This can be seen in the ways that the global movement in support of the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle is taking on a pointedly anti-apartheid character, as evidenced by the growth of Israeli Apartheid Week ( http://apartheidweek.org/). Further, much of the recent international diplomatic support for Israel has increasingly taken on the form of denying that racial discrimination is a root cause of the oppression of Palestinians. This has taken on new levels of absurdity in Western responses to the April 2009 Durban Review Conference, a follow-up to the 2001 World Conference Against Racism held in Durban, South Africa in which Palestinians were identified as victims of racism (the US, Israel, Canada and Italy have already announced that they will not participate because of the potential for criticism of Israel).

Many of the writings stemming from this analysis work to detail levels of similarity and difference with apartheid South Africa, rather than looking at apartheid as a system that can be practiced by any state. To some extent, this strong emphasis on historical comparisons is understandable given that boycott, divestment and sanctions is the central campaign called for by Palestinian civil society for solidarity with the Palestinian liberation struggle, and is modeled on the one that helped end South African apartheid. However, an over-emphasis on similarities and differences confines the use of the term to narrow limits. With the expanding agreement that the term "apartheid" is useful in describing the level and layout of Israel's crimes, it is important that our understanding of the "apartheid label" be deepened, both as a means of informing activism in support of the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle, and in order to most effectively make use of comparisons with other struggles.

The apartheid analogy

It is perhaps understandable that some advocates of Palestinian rights look at the "apartheid label," in its comparative sense, as a politically useful tool. The struggle of the South African people for justice and equality reached a certain sacred status in the 1980s and '90s when the anti-apartheid struggle reached its zenith. The reverence with which activists and non-activists alike look to the righteousness of the South African struggle, and the ignominy of the colonial apartheid regime, are well placed. Black South Africans fought against both Dutch and British colonization for centuries, endured countless hardships including imprisonment and death, and were labeled terrorists as the powers of the world stood by the racist apartheid regime. They remained steadfast in their struggle, raising the cost of maintaining the apartheid system until South African capital found it no longer profitable and white political elites found it impossible to maintain. The comparison is further enhanced due to the relationship between the respective Palestinian and South African liberation movements, the Palestine Liberation Organization and the African National Congress, as well as the unabashed alliance between Israel and the South African apartheid regime, which remained strong even at the height of the international boycott against South Africa.

A further impetus for confining the "apartheid label" to a comparison with South Africa is that the commonalities and similarities between the liberation struggles of South Africa and Palestine are quite stark. Both cases involved a process of settler-colonialism involving the forced displacement of the indigenous population from most of their ancestral lands and concentrating them in townships and reservations, dividing the colonized community into different groups with differing rights, strict mobility restrictions that suffocated the colonized, and the use of brutal military force to repress any actual or potential resistance against the racist colonial regime.

Both regimes have enjoyed the impunity that results from full US and European support. Accompanying these and countless other similarities are a host of uncanny details common to both cases: both regimes were formally established in the same year -- 1948 -- following decades of British rule; approximately 87 percent of the land was off limits to most of the colonized population without special permission, and so on. While we speak here in the past tense for South Africa, this still applies to present-day Palestine.

As the Israeli apartheid label has gained ground, some have adopted the approach of describing the differences between the two regimes, albeit for various purposes. In general, Israel has not legislated petty apartheid -- the segregation of spaces such as bathrooms and beaches -- as was the case in South Africa. However, Israeli laws form the basis of systematic racial discrimination against Palestinians. The 1.2 million Palestinian citizens of Israel (approximately 20 percent of Israel's citizens) do indeed have the right to vote and run in Israeli elections while the Black community in South Africa, for the most part, did not. The South African version of apartheid's central tenet was to facilitate the exploitation of as many Black laborers as possible, whereas the Israeli version, although exploiting Palestinian workers, prioritizes the forced displacement of as many Palestinians as possible beyond the borders of the state with the aim of eradicating Palestinian presence within historic Palestine. South African visitors to Palestine have often commented on the fact that Israeli use of force is more brutal than that witnessed in the heyday of apartheid, thus leading several commentators to adopt the position that Israel's practices are worse than apartheid and that the apartheid label does not go far enough.

Israel and the crime of apartheid

In terms of law, describing Israel as an apartheid state does not revolve around levels of difference and similarity with the policies and practices of the South African apartheid regime, and where Israel is an apartheid state only insofar as similarities outweigh differences. In 1973, the UN General Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (General Assembly resolution 3068 entered into force on 18 July 1976 -- the year of the Soweto uprising in South Africa and the Land Day uprising in Palestine). The resolution set forth that the definition of the crime of apartheid was not limited to the borders of South Africa. The fact that apartheid is defined as a crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which entered into force in 2002 -- long after the apartheid regime was defeated in South Africa -- attests to the universality of the crime.

While the wording of the definition of the crime of apartheid varies between legal instruments, the substance is the same: a regime commits apartheid when it institutionalizes discrimination to create and maintain the domination of one "racial" group over another. Karine Mac Allister, among others, has provided a cogent legal analysis of the applicability of the crime of apartheid to the Israeli regime (see "Applicability of the Crime of Apartheid to Israel," al-Majdal #38, Summer 2008). The main point is that like genocide and slavery, apartheid is a crime that any state can commit, and institutions, organizations and/or individuals acting on behalf of the state that commit it or support its commission are to face trial in any state that is a signatory to the Convention, or in the International Criminal Court. It is therefore a fallacy to ground the Israeli apartheid label on comparisons of the policies of the South African apartheid regime, with the resulting descriptions of Israel as being "apartheid-like" and characterizations of an apartheid analysis of Israel as an "apartheid analogy."

Recognition by the international community of such universal crimes is often the result of a particular case, so heinous that it forces the rusty wheels of international decision-making into motion. The Transatlantic Slave Trade is an example where the mass enslavement of peoples from the African continent to work as the privately owned property of European settlers formed an important part of the framework in which the drafters of the 1956 UN Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery thought and acted. An even clearer example is the Genocide Convention (adopted in 1948, entered into force in 1951) in the wake of the Nazi Holocaust in which millions of Jews, communists, Roma and disabled were systematically murdered with the intention to end their existence. We do not describe modern day enslavement as "slavery-like," nor do we examine the mass killing of hundreds of thousands of mainly Tutsi Rwandans through a Rwandan "genocide analogy."

Two points made by Mac Allister in her legal analysis of Israeli apartheid deserve to be reiterated because they are often confused or misconstrued even by advocates of Palestinian human rights. First, Israel's crimes and violations are not limited to the crime of apartheid. Rather, Israel's regime over the Palestinian people combines apartheid, military occupation and colonization in a unique manner. It deserves notice that the relationship between these three components requires further research and investigation. Also noteworthy is the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign National Committee's "United Against Apartheid, Colonialism and Occupation: Dignity & Justice for the Palestinian People" position paper, which outlines and, to some extent, details the various aspects of Israel's commission of the crime of apartheid, and begins to trace the interaction between Israeli apartheid, colonialism and occupation from the perspective of Palestinian civil society. [1]

The second point worth reiterating is that Israel's regime of apartheid is not limited to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In fact, the core of Israel's apartheid regime is guided by discriminatory legislation in the fields of nationality, citizenship and land ownership. This discriminatory legislation was primarily employed to oppress and dispossess those Palestinians (refugees and internally displaced) who were forced from their land and property during the 1948 Nakba, or catastrophe, as well as the minority who managed to remain within the 1949 armistice line (referred to as the "green line"), who later became Israeli citizens. Israel's apartheid regime was extended into the West Bank and Gaza Strip following the 1967 occupation of those territories for the purpose of colonization and military control over the Palestinians who came under occupation. Using again the example of South Africa, the crime of apartheid was not limited to the Bantustans -- the whole regime was implicated and not one or another of its racist manifestations.

The analysis of Israel as an apartheid state has proven to be very important in several respects. First, it correctly highlights racial discrimination as a root cause of Israel's oppression of Palestinians. Second, one of the main effects of Israeli apartheid is that it has separated Palestinians -- conceptually, legally and physically -- into different groupings (refugees, West Bank, Gaza, within the "green line" and a host of other divisions within each), resulting in the fragmentation of the Palestinian liberation movement, including the solidarity movement. The apartheid analysis enables us to provide a legal and conceptual framework under which we can understand, convey and take action in support of the Palestinian people and their struggle as a unified whole. Third, and of particular significance to the solidarity movement, this legal and conceptual framework takes on the prescriptive role underpinning the growing global movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until it complies with international law.

Colonialism and the role of comparison

I have argued that the question of whether apartheid applies cannot be determined by means of comparison with South Africa, but rather by legal analysis. This, however, does not mean that comparative study is not useful. Comparison is in fact essential to the process of learning historical lessons for those involved in struggle. A central point of comparison with South Africa is the fact that it was, and for the indigenous people of Palestine and the Americas, continues to be a struggle against colonialism.

Focusing on the colonial dimension of Israeli apartheid and the Zionist project enables us to maintain our focus on the issues that really matter, such as land acquisition, demographic engineering and methods of political and economic control exercised by one racial group over another. Comparison with other anti-colonial struggles provides the main resource for understanding this colonial dimension of Israeli oppression, and for deriving some of the lessons needed to fight it.

One of the key lessons for Palestinians from the struggle against apartheid in South Africa was the pressure placed on the African National Congress leadership to compromise on its economic demands such as land restitution. Only a tiny proportion of white-controlled land in South Africa was redistributed to Blacks after 1994. As such, while the struggle of the South African people defeated the system of political apartheid, the struggle against economic apartheid continues in various forms including anti-poverty and landless peoples' movements today. The centrality of the demand for land restitution should be highlighted as part of the demand for refugee return as Palestinians and those struggling with them work to reconstruct a political strategy and consensus on how to overcome the political challenges that have emerged since the launching of the peace process and the transformation of the Palestinian liberation movement leadership into a non-sovereign authority dependent on Israel for its international legitimacy and financial solvency.

A second key lesson is in response to the paradigm currently guiding most mainstream accounts of how to achieve the elusive "peace in the Middle East," which is the idea of partition often referred to as the "two-state solution." In the 1970s, South Africa tried to deal with its "demographic problem" -- the fact that the vast majority of its population was Black but did not have the right to vote. The apartheid regime reconstructed South Africa as a formal democracy by reinventing the British-established reservations (the Bantustans) as independent states (British rule in South Africa established reserves in 1913 and 1936 on approximately 87 percent of the land of South Africa for the purpose of segregating the Black population from the settlers). These 10 "homelands" were each assigned to an ethnicity decided by Pretoria, and indigenous South Africans who did not fit into one of the ethnicities were forced to make themselves fit in order to become nationals of one of the homelands. Through this measure, members of the indigenous population were reclassified as nationals of a homeland, and between 1976 and 1981 the regime tried to pass the homelands off as independent states: Transkei in 1976, Bophuthatswana in 1977, Venda in 1979, and Ciskei in 1981.

Each of these Bantustans was given a flag and a government made up of indigenous intermediaries on the Pretoria payroll, and all the trappings of a sovereign government including responsibility over municipal services and a police force to protect the apartheid regime, but without actual sovereignty. The idea was that by getting international recognition for each of these homelands as states, the apartheid regime would transform South Africa from a country with a 10 percent white minority, to one with a 100 percent white majority. Since it was a democratic regime within the confines of the dominant community, the state's democratic nature would be beyond reproach. No one was fooled. The African National Congress launched a powerful campaign to counter any international recognition of the Bantustans as independent states, and the plot failed miserably at the international level -- with the notable, but perhaps unsurprising, exception that a lone "embassy" for Bophuthatswana was opened in Tel Aviv.

Israel has employed similar strategies in Palestine. For example, Israel recognized 18 Palestinian Bedouin tribes and appointed a loyal sheikh for each in the Naqab (Negev) desert during the 1950s as a means of controlling these southern Palestinians, forcing those who did not belong to one of the tribes to affiliate to one in order to get Israeli citizenship (see Hazem Jamjoum, "al-Naqab: The Ongoing Displacement of Palestine's Southern Bedouin," al-Majdal #39-40, Autumn 2008/Winter 2009). In the late 1970s, the Israeli regime tried to invent Palestinian governing bodies for the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the form of "village leagues" intended to evolve into similar non-sovereign governments -- glorified municipalities of a sort. As with apartheid's Homelands, the scheme failed miserably, both because the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had established itself as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and because Palestinians largely understood the plot and opposed it with all means at their disposal. The main lesson for Israel was that the PLO would have to either be completely destroyed or would have to be transformed into Israeli apartheid's indigenous intermediary. Israel launched a massive campaign to destroy the PLO throughout the 1980s and early '90s. With the demise of the PLO's main backers in the Soviet bloc at the end of the Cold War and its strained relations with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait after the first Gulf War, Israel capitalized on the opportunity, and worked to transform the PLO from a liberation movement to a "state-building" project that was launched by the signing of the Oslo Accords, seven months before South Africa's first free election.

The push for the establishment and international recognition of an independent Palestinian state within the Palestinian Bantustan is no different from the South African apartheid regime's campaign to gain international recognition of Transkei or Ciskei. This is the core of the "two-state solution" idea. The major and crucial difference is that in the current Palestinian case, it is the world's superpower and its adjutants in Europe and the Arab world pushing as well, and armed with the active acceptance of Palestine's indigenous intermediaries.

Hazem Jamjoum is the editor of al-Majdal, the English language quarterly magazine of the Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights in Bethlehem, Palestine.


Endnotes
[1] This is the Palestinian civil society position paper for the April 2009 Durban Review Conference in Geneva, and can be downloaded at: http://bdsmovement.net/files/English-BNC_Position_Paper-Durban_Review.pdf (accessed 29 March 2009).

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