Mel Frykberg, The Electronic Intifada, 29 May 2009
RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - "I heard voices, I turned around to look, and saw a group of Israeli settlers assaulting my brother Hammad," says Abdallah Wahadin, 82, a Palestinian farmer from Beit Ummar near the southern West Bank city of Hebron.
"Three of them surrounded me, while a fourth threw a rock at the back of my head. Lots of blood ran down onto my clothes. Other settlers then joined them," Wahadin told the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem.
Wahadin and his brother Hammad, 72, had been farming their land, which produces olives, almonds and grapes, near the illegal Israeli settlement of Bat Ayin, when they were attacked on their way home. Their land in Beit Ummar is near Hebron, about 30 kilometers south of Jerusalem.
Hammad Abdallah was taken to a local hospital where he received 10 stitches for a head wound and treatment for chest injuries.
Settler attacks against Palestinian civilians, and the occasional retaliatory attacks by Palestinians continue to dominate media headlines on an almost daily basis.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has reported that an increase in settler attacks, as well as Israeli military raids, are part of an overall deterioration in the humanitarian situation in the West Bank.
"During April four Palestinians, including two boys, were killed by [the Israeli army] and another 145 were injured by Israeli soldiers and settlers. The number of Palestinians injured rose by 40 percent compared with the 2008 monthly average," the report says.
"We have noticed a significant increase in the incidents of both settler and soldier violence against Palestinian civilians since the new Israeli government took power at the beginning of the year," says Ronen Shimoni from B'Tselem.
"This is probably related to an increase in settlement activity in the West Bank as the rightist government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tries to establish facts on the ground," Shimoni told IPS.
The expropriation of Palestinian land for enlargement of settlements has proceeded at an accelerated rate since Netanyahu took office. New settlements, and the settler-only bypass roads which service them, are being built.
The full extent of settler violence against Palestinian civilians is uncertain as many cases go unreported.
"Only a small number of complaints is investigated by the Israeli authorities," says Lior Yavne, rights group Yesh Din's research director.
"Conviction rates are less than 10 percent of cases opened due to what we consider unprofessional investigations. Often the police claim to have lost the paperwork or say they are unable to find the perpetrators," Yavne told IPS.
There has also been a sharp rise in the number of Palestinian children in Israeli detention this year, with 391, including six girls, incarcerated at the end of April, a 20 percent increase between December 2008 and February 2009.
Human rights organizations monitoring the situation of child prisoners in Israeli prisons are concerned about the lack of respect for the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Israel is a signatory.
"These concerns are related to consistent allegations of physical and psychological abuse during interrogations; denial of prompt access to lawyers and family visits; substandard conditions of detention, including lack of access to proper health or educational services," OCHA says.
Further fueling Palestinian anger and despair is the tripling of Palestinian homes destroyed by the Israeli authorities in April compared to March. According to OCHA, 286 Palestinians, including many children, have been displaced this year.
Israel says the homes were demolished because they lack building permits. However, it is almost impossible for Palestinians residing in East Jerusalem to obtain the requisite permits. Jewish residents of West Jerusalem obtain permits with ease.
Several foreign governments and Israeli human rights organizations have accused the Israelis of following a deliberate policy of Judaizing East Jerusalem, in an effort to prevent its future division. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as their future capital.
Palestinians are also largely forbidden from building on large swathes of the West Bank that fall under complete Israeli control, even though according to international law and UN Security Council resolutions the territory belongs to the Palestinians.
West Bank Palestinians are also getting increasingly thirsty. The World Bank has just released a report, "Assessment of Restrictions on Palestinian Water Sector Development." The report says water allocations, established during the 1995 Oslo interim agreement, fall short of today's needs.
Two-and-a-half million Palestinians survive on less than 20 percent of the West Bank's aquifers, while Israel expropriates the rest.
"Israeli settlers consume up to 200 liters of water daily per individual while Palestinians in the West Bank survive on 30-60 liters per individual daily," Palestinian Environmental Authority (PEA) deputy-director Jamil Mtoor told IPS.
Meanwhile, a number of international projects to fund West Bank humanitarian aid relief are at risk due to economic shortfalls.
The UN's Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) reported that although $254 million had been pledged towards the rehabilitation of Gaza, the level of funding for the West Bank continues to be extremely low, with only about 30 percent of needs covered.
The UN's World Food Programme (WFP) has reported a severe shortage for its projects in the West Bank, while the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) has reported financial problems relating to a number of emergency aid programs.
"UNRWA relies on voluntary funding for our projects, with the two biggest donors being the US and the EU," UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness told IPS.
"The international monetary crisis has not helped the situation, but we are still hopeful that we will be able to meet the shortfall before June so that we don't have to close any of our emergency programs," said Gunness.
All rights reserved, IPS - Inter Press Service (2009). Total or partial publication, retransmission or sale forbidden.
30/05/2009 Lebanese army sources said on Saturday that the country's military had been placed "on full alert," ahead of Israel's large-scale Home Front Command drill expected to begin on Sunday till Thursday.
An army source who did not wish to be identified said that despite [the fact that] the Lebanese government has received assurances from various sides including [United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon] UNIFIL that the maneuvers were defensive in nature, the Lebanese army was placed in a state of full alert along the border with occupied Palestine.
Government offices and 252 local councils and municipalities will open "crisis rooms" that will respond to various emergency scenarios.
Military patrols were seen near the Palestinian border in the south of Lebanon Saturday. Hezbollah has also said that its fighters were ready to respond to any "possible aggression."
The "Turning Point 3" exercise, which is the third large-scale Home Front Drill to be held since the Second Lebanon War in 2006, will begin on May 31 and will last five days. The drill will be operated by the Israeli Defense Ministry with the assistance of the National Emergency Authority. It is aimed at training the Israeli home front, from the government level down to the plain citizen level, and will simulate a comprehensive regional war.
According to the scenario, the war will involve Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria. The Political-Security Cabinet will practice the various scenarios, while the Israeli occupation army will mobilize forces in accordance with the occurrences. The proposed scenario simulates an escalation lasting three months, reaching its peak with an overall attack on the Zionist entity. The drill will, for the first time, include an exercise to evacuate approximately 6,000 civilians from a commercial Tel Aviv building.
On Sunday, the drill kicks off with an exercise to the Israeli ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting. Monday will see the Israeli army, Home Front Command, Emergency Economy, Israeli Police, government ministries and local authorities take part in the drill.
On Tuesday, an air raid siren will be sounded across the country, roads will be blocked and citizens and school students will practice entering bomb shelters. The Political-Security Cabinet and national information system will take part in the drill on Wednesday. On Thursday, the last day of the drill, Israeli occupation army corps will hold field exercises and the training of the Home Front Command headquarters will continue.
Representatives of international agencies, governments and armies from the United States, Uruguay, Turkey, Japan, Hungary, France and Germany will be visiting Tel Aviv to witness parts of the drill.
Last week, the Israeli Air Force held a three-day drill that included various scenarios and staged fronts the force may have to handle. Pilots also practiced a number of combat maneuvers. The drill was annual, but incorporated scenarios relevant to the current threats faced by Israel. As part of the drill, members of the IAF were briefed on Iran's test-launch of its new missile, the Sajjil-2, which has been said to pose a threat to Israel's security.
Report, The Electronic Intifada, 29 May 2009
TEL AVIV (IRIN) - Reports published recently by the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) paint a grim picture of life in Gaza more than four months after the 23-day Israeli offensive ended on 18 January.
At the end of April 2009, UNRWA and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) completed their assessments of damage caused during the offensive: Some 3,500 houses were totally destroyed or are beyond repair and many others have yet to be repaired. Israel has not allowed cement and building materials into Gaza since June 2007.
Some internally displaced persons (IDPs) are living with family members, while others live in the makeshift tent camps.
Cameras distributed by B'Tselem to IDPs in the makeshift camp of al-Azza, which was set up in the Gaza Strip immediately after the Israeli incursion, reveal harsh conditions. The testimonies have been compiled into a short film. Living on sand dunes in tents provided by international aid agencies, cooking on kerosene burners and using portable toilets, they report a feeling of despair and lack of safety.
To overcome the ban on imports of cement and water pipes, the ICRC is helping recycle local materials and using components manufactured in Gaza. The Rafah recycling plant needs to be repaired, it says.
To mitigate cement shortages, concrete segments of the old Rafah border wall, which lay abandoned after its partial demolition in January 2008, are being salvaged.
Pierre Wettach, ICRC's head of delegation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, quoted in an ICRC update on 12 May, said: "The water and sanitation infrastructure in the Gaza Strip is in dire need of a comprehensive upgrade. Even if the existing infrastructure were operating at full capacity, it would not meet the needs of the population. To provide Gaza's 1.5 million inhabitants with adequate facilities it is absolutely essential that materials such as cement, steel and water pipes be allowed in."
According to a UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report on 15 May, raw sewage was back-flowing into homes in Khan Younis due to the deterioration of the sewage and waste-water treatment systems. During April, only three truckloads of plastic pipes for water and wastewater projects for the private sector were allowed into Gaza. There has been a ban on plastic pipe deliveries since late October 2008.
The Israeli Security Cabinet met on 24 May to discuss opening more crossings into Gaza and allowing a regular flow of medical supplies, food and a list of other commodities, including building materials, but no change in Israeli policy has been reported so far.
This item comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. All IRIN material may be reposted or reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the copyright page for conditions of use. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
"Obama's 'silence' on Egypt and Morocco's bold responses to Iranian subversion, heightened Arab concerns about the US approach..."
Posted by G, Z, & or B at 3:42 PM
"...... today, Washington and Cairo are on the verge of rapprochement. Improved ties come as Washington is seeking better coordination with its Arab allies in countering Iranian nuclear and regional ambitions, and as Cairo nears its first political transition since 1981....
The timing of the rapprochement reflects the convergence of interest on several issues of importance to both Cairo and Washington.
Iran. Tehran's progress toward a nuclear weapon and its provision of materiel and ideological support for moqawama, or resistance, across the region is of grave concern to Washington and its moderate Arab allies, specifically Egypt. Cairo has had problems with Tehran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but tensions have spiked of late. During the Israeli military campaign in Gaza in January 2009 -- when Egypt refused to open its border with Gaza to relieve pressure on Hamas -- an organization associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps put a $1.5 million bounty on Mubarak's head, a threat posted on the Iranian government's Fars news agency website.
More recently, in April, Egypt announced the arrest in November 2008 of dozens of Iranian-backed Hizballah operatives in the Sinai. Cairo accused the operatives of channeling weapons to Hamas, targeting Israeli tourists, and planning operations against Suez Canal shipping.
While Washington and Cairo share an assessment of the Iranian threat, they differ on strategy. The administration has been silent on Egypt and Morocco's bold responses to Iranian subversion, heightening Arab concerns about the U.S. approach. Washington's Arab allies likely see this as a missed opportunity to rally support in Europe, China, and Russia for a tougher policy.
Hamas. Washington and Cairo share a common concern about the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas. The Obama administration has stated that it wants to revitalize Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, a goal undermined by Hamas's control of Gaza. Although a Palestinian national unity government might jump-start these negotiations, it could also set the stage for Hamas's electoral victory over the more-moderate Fatah next January.
For its part, Cairo views the Iranian-backed Hamas on its border as a significant threat, not only to the peace process but also to Egyptian stability. Cairo's concern is similar to Jordan's in that the violent ideology espoused by Hamas -- a Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) -- might spread to the Egyptian branch of the organization, which years ago foreswore violence. In the aftermath of the Hizballah arrests, Egyptian MB statements of sympathy for and identification with the Shiite terrorist organization have proven especially troubling to Cairo.
Egyptian succession. Mubarak is eighty-one and said to be in good health, but uncertainty about succession is a preoccupation in Egypt. Indeed, in March 2008, a Cairo court sentenced the editor of al-Dustour newspaper to six months in prison for "publishing false information and rumors" about Mubarak's health. Should the Egyptian president anoint his son, National Democratic Party (NDP) deputy secretary general Gamal Mubarak, as his successor, it could be problematic. Given current regional challenges, both the United States and Egypt have an interest in seeing a smooth and, if possible, transparent transition of power in Cairo....
By not adopting Bush's Freedom Agenda, the Obama administration has paved the way to a return to Washington's traditional relationship with Cairo. Given the need for an Egyptian leadership role in the Arab opposition to Iranian nuclear ambitions, at least in the short term, Washington's decision would seem to make sense..... should the trend of bad governance continue in Egypt, it would likely be accompanied by a corresponding increase in the popularity of Islamists...."
Nasrallah on Happy Family "Unity Government"
[TONI'S COMMENT: Keep dreaming, Mr. Mishaal. From one illusion to the next. This is so Yasser Arafat, it is not even funny!]........"
"I will write a longer comment about all these "peace" and "reconciliation" moves breaking out all over, and what could be behind them.
The more things change, the more they stay the same: Hamas wants recognition and a place at the Table and the Pharaoh will deliver a domesticated Hamas
[ 29/05/2009 - 05:35 PM ]
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Palestinian legislator MP Dr. Mustafa Al-Barghouthi has accused Thursday the Israeli occupation government of misleading the world on the construction of more Israeli settlement in the West Bank.
In press release he made in Ramallah city, the Palestinian lawmaker explained that the Israeli Knesset's (parliament) endorsement of bills confirming the Jewish identity of the Hebrew state, and of punishing anyone who denies it confirm racism and the apartheid system of the Israeli occupation authority.
He also pointed that the IOA announcement of proceeding with the settlement project in the occupied city of Jerusalem and in the West Bank was sufficient evidence that the IOA doesn’t want peace in the region.
"The Israeli talk of deciding the future of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank through negotiations with the Palestinians on the one hand, and the concrete steps it takes to expand and build new settlements in the area was per se contradictory and meant to deceive the international committee", Barghouthi underlined.
He added, "Netanyahu's government doesn’t need a test period to prove itself as it had indeed proven its extremist identity and its expansionist orientations, which jeopardize peace and security in the region, and could push the entire region to the brink of confrontation".
But he said that if the new US administration was indeed serious in ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands based on the two-state solution, then the USA must oblige the IOA to halt construction or expansion of settlements.
The IOA alleged it was building new settlements to meet the natural growth in the Israeli community although that expansion was at the expense of the Palestinian people's lands.
In this regard, Barghouthi underscored that it is about time for the international community to bridle the Israeli practices on the Palestinian land, and to force her to abide by international laws and conventions, saying, "the Zionist occupation was racing with time in a bid to impose new facts on the ground that would thwart the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state.
29/05/2009 The head of the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc in Lebanon MP Michel Aoun renewed on Friday belief that the national opposition will emerge as victorious out of the forthcoming parliamentary elections, saying that he will head the largest parliamentary bloc in the Republic's history following the June 7 vote.
Earlier, Aoun accused during an electoral rally in Ashrafieh his political opponents of lacking the proper qualification and knowledge to run the country. "In this election we are facing unqualified people due to the lack of knowledge," he said.
He said those who rejected the Third Republic project are rejecting change and reform. "I swear by the sky, whatever its color, that Syria is not coming back," Aoun added, in response to the claims that the Syrians will return.
Aoun blamed March 14 Forces of putting the country in deficit and high debt stressing that government must be changed.
[ 29/05/2009 - 06:55 PM ]
GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas said on Friday that nothing new has emanated from the meeting between former PA Chief Mahmoud Abbas and US President Barak Obama and that the meeting was disappointing for the Palestinian people.
"The meeting between Abu Mazen and Obama did not produce anything new, it was disappointing, especially that Abu Mazen expressed readiness to implement the road-map, which means that the PA is fully committed to security coordination with the Zionist enemy which targets the rooting out of resistance and the liquidation of Hamas and reinforces the internal Palestinian rift, as the road map was rejected by all Palestinian factions except for Abu Mazen's commitment to it," said Fawzi Barhoum, the Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip.
Barhoum further said that Obama's wishes are not enough, especially in the light of the continued Zionist escalations in terms of assassinations, arrests, land confiscation and siege. He stressed that Palestinian people do not attach much hope to such meetings which never produced any real pressure on the Zionist enemy to end the siege, end the building of settlements or stop the aggression.
"The result of Abu Mazen's security commitments to the occupation, including those stipulated by the road map is a police authority that works to protect the occupation at the expense of the Palestinian citizen and his rights," Barhoum explained.
He finally said that Abbas is guilty of continuing the policy of political detention, hampering the national reconciliation talks, forming illegitimate governments in Ramallah which means he has nothing to contribute towards a successful outcome of the reconciliation talks and cannot be trusted with the Palestinian interests as long as he is fully tied to American and Zionist dictates.
29/05/2009 United States President Barack Obama met Thursday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the White House, and pressed Israel on establishing a Palestinian state and freezing settlement construction.
Asked about the Israeli position on the two-state solution, Obama said he's confident that, if Israel looks at its long-term interests, it will realize the two-state solution is in the interests of the Israelis as well as the Palestinians. "I'm a strong believer in a two-state solution," Obama told reporters with Abbas seated at his side.
Obama held White House talks with Abbas 10 days after hosting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who remains at odds with the US over settlements and Palestinian statehood.
Obama made clear that he would continue to push Netanyahu, who has expressed his resistance to call for a total freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank.
Netanyahu has been a longtime skeptic of proposals to create a Palestinian state, and he refused to commit to the concept during his US visit.
"I think that we don't have a moment to lose," Obama said, "but I also don't make decisions based on just the conversation that we had last week because obviously Prime Minister Netanyahu has to work through these issues in his own government, in his own coalition."
The US president declined to specify a time frame for the settlement of conflict, saying he didn't want to set an "artificial time table."
Obama and Abbas met at the White House before the Palestinian Authority leader meets Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, and other senior officials.
Abbas gave Obama a document that would keep intact that requirement and also offer a way to monitor a required Israeli freeze on all settlement activity, a timetable for Israeli withdrawal and a realization of a two-state solution.
"The main purpose of presenting this document to President Obama is to help him in finding a mechanism to implement the Arab peace initiative," Abbas told the Associated Press.
On Tuesday, Israeli vice president and Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon ruled out the creation of any “Palestinian entity” at a conference at the Knesset entitled "Alternatives to the Two-State Outlook." He added that “efforts to find a solution to the conflict must stop.” According to Israeli media, the Knesset conference was intended to send a message that opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state was common among mainstream Israelis and politicians not considered extremist. He said the best that could be done now was to stop efforts to find a solution to the conflict and manage it instead, “by encouraging reforms and economic development in the Palestinian Authority.”
Yaalon goes even further in his argument, adopting a rather belligerent tone: "I do not see any chance of establishing a viable Palestinian entity in Judea and Samaria and/or the Gaza Strip that could sustain itself economically," Ya'alon said. "The gap between Israel as a First-World country and a Palestinian Third-World country is a recipe for instability. I also don't see a chance to form a viable Palestinian entity in Judea and Samaria and/or the Gaza Strip that could bring stability on the security front, while chances the entity would be adversarial are very high."
Asked about his impression of the meeting with Obama, Abbas expressed confidence in Obama as well as the Israelis and said: "It was a serious and open meeting and President Obama seems determined on what he has said...I believe that if the Israelis would withdraw from all occupied Palestinian, Syrian, and Lebanese land, the Arab world will be ready to have normal relationships with the state of Israel.”
Friday, 29 May 2009
WRITTEN BY ALI BULAC
A rather long period of time has passed since the Obama administration took office. Before US President Barack Obama was elected, he had created many hopes around the world.
In his election campaigns he gave priority to “ideal politics,” but now it seems that he has given in to “real politics.” Everyone agrees that the US will and must play a positive role in the settlement of existing problems. But it does not seem eager to play that role.
Those who expect the US to play this positive role say to themselves that the US is not as it appears now. By saying that the US is what it currently appears to be, they are actually saying that the US should not be how it currently is. The history of madness of the US that occupied Iraq has yet to be ended. Three hundred million people (the US nation) should not be so merciless toward a nation that is dying of hunger and poverty. Even if the US administration continues to strike Iraq despite UN resolutions and the objections of millions of people, we should assume that these developments do not exhaust what the US nation stands for.
Being an experienced politician, former Algerian President Ahmad Ben Bella says that the anti-war discourse, rallies and protests around the world are not particularly effective. For Bin Bella, the sole power that can persuade the existing US administration away from a violent war is the US public. Indeed, at some point the US public ensured that its weight was felt and terminated the tyrannical war in Vietnam.
The number of US citizens who share our concerns for the war in Iraq, the lives of civilians and stopping the world from heading toward a new disaster is not small. As if the situation in Iraq and Palestine were not enough, another hell has emerged in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Hundreds of thousands of people had clearly shown that they were against war and organized enormous rallies. But former President George W. Bush and his team did not backpedal.
Yes, this is not the US that created a pool of blood in the region with arguments on oil, arms and religion. It should not be this. The destructive role of the US should be rejected in the first place by US citizens. Being the homeland of conservative families who fled the religious and sectarian wars of Europe, of the Puritans and devout people, and of people who fear God, the US has long served as a model for freedom of religion and conscience.
The US has become the center of attraction for people around from the world as a country of freedom and opportunity. But today it has abolished freedoms and democratic ideals for purposes of security. The descendants of those put Japanese concentration camps during World War II are now treating almost every Muslim as a potential terrorist.
It is generally accepted that the war the US has been waging against Iraq, Afghanistan and now Pakistan does not have a sound or legitimate basis. Bush was determined to rule the world on his own. He paid no heed to any objection or opposition. The damage he did to the general concept of law was irreparable. Bush disrupted legal rules and the rule of law. When he failed to provide material justifications for war, he resorted to a strange method. The Bush administration accused Iraq of having weapons of mass destruction and demanded that Iraq prove it did not have any. Then he said things that were hard to comprehend: "That there is no evidence concerning weapons of mass destruction does not mean there are no weapons of mass destruction." It was like saying to a person who was examined by a physician and found to be perfectly healthy, "The fact that there is no evidence or symptom for illness does not mean that you are not ill."
The US did not win the war in Iraq, and it is again waging another war that it cannot win in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In this way it is doing the greatest damage to the conscience of humankind by inciting its hatred. If this hatred leads to incorrigible racism, then our world will turn into a place dominated not only by hawks, but also by sick people. The faith put in Obama is about to run out. We hope that he will not be too late to compensate for the damage done by Bush.
Maymanah Farhat, The Electronic Intifada, 29 May 2009
In addition to a long list of films exploring themes of social injustice and conflict, Swedish filmmaker PeÅ Holmquist has directed several on Palestine. Young Freud in Gaza (2008), his most recent documentary on the subject, enters the recesses of Palestinian society as it copes with life under Israeli occupation. Directed with Holmquist's longtime partner, Beirut-born Armenian filmmaker and journalist Suzanne Khardalian, the 60-minute film follows Ayed, a 27-year-old psychologist working for the Palestinian Authority's Clinic for Mental Health in northern Gaza. The only field psychologist in the area, Ayed frequently makes home visits, treating patients of all ages, from diverse backgrounds.
The film chronicles his consultations from 2006 to 2008, as the psychologist and his community are surrounded by crippling economic sanctions, violent clashes between the Hamas and Fatah factions and frequent Israeli missile attacks. The film not only accompanies Ayed as he administers counseling sessions but also when he is at home with family and friends. A looming element that is often present is the outcome of Hamas' win of the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections and the subsequent changes Gaza is made to endure. This has a profound affect on Ayed and his patients as they experience significant backlash from Israel and witness growing internal political divisions. In the span of time covered in the film, Gaza's state plummets, as its civil infrastructure is debilitated and violence increases.
Despite this grim reality, Ayed remains dedicated to treating his patients and works to gain their trust from the onset. Even the most guarded and skeptical individuals, such as maimed Hamas fighters, put their faith in him once their treatment begins. From chronic depression to eating disorders, Ayed's patients experience a range of mental health issues. A common variable in their stories, however, is the Israeli occupation and the significant physical and psychological damage it has caused to Gaza's residents.
Abed is a young man who was severely injured in a failed suicide mission in Israel. Suffering from partial memory loss, Ayed attempts to help him remember the events of that day as a way of relieving stress and alleviating physical pain. As his story unfolds, we learn that he barely escaped death after being chased by Israeli authorities. The details of Abed's situation are later revealed when he describes having been paid to execute the foiled attack. Out of desperation and the prospect of providing momentary financial stability for his impoverished family, Abed decided to work with militants and pursued the assignment. This speaks volumes about the dire circumstances experienced in Gaza and the wide-scale violence instigated by the occupation.
Another case involves Inas, a teenage girl who is severely traumatized by a childhood experience. Having come upon the body of a classmate killed by Israeli fire near her school, Inas has suffered from depression and anxiety throughout her adolescence. Ayed attempts to counsel Inas on dealing with her mental state, while struggling to involve her parents who have grown impatient with the lengthy road to recovery. Some of the most telling scenes of the film occur when he lectures Inas' parents on the importance of visiting the clinic for further treatment. Stern and unyielding, he admonishes them for their lack of commitment and the effects it has on Inas. It is here that we witness one of the many challenges facing a psychologist working with few resources and little community support. As Ayed confirms, Gaza is badly in need of "a million psychologists."
Often frustrated and let down, he eventually finds himself torn between continuing his practice and enduring its psychological toll or resigning from his position in search of peace of mind.
Young Freud in Gaza provides a much-needed look into a community struggling to survive amidst abject poverty and brutal assaults as it resides under the shadows of collective trauma. With the international blockade leaving the territory virtually cut off from the outside world, the documentary not only offers a glimpse into the private lives of Palestinians in Gaza, it serves as an important historical record.
Grounded in the conversations that occur during Ayed's counseling sessions, the film works to draw the viewer in as though they are witnessing these exchanges firsthand. The directors are physically absent as Ayed narrates scenes, conducts interviews or goes about his day. During some of his most vulnerable moments, namely when he begins to doubt the effectiveness of his work amidst deadly factional violence, the camera serves as a confessional of sorts.
This intimate setting is also created by the camera's close proximity to its subjects and the capturing of the interior spaces of daily life. From Ayed's medical office to modest dwellings in refugee camps, the viewer is brought into Gaza's internal realms. Yet at all times the film evokes the external forces that deeply impact residents. Shots of a hovering Israeli surveillance blimp, news footage and scenes showing outbreaks of fighting among Hamas and Fatah forces serve as constant reminders of the grave environment that lies just beyond the safe haven Ayed creates for his patients.
Although informative and engaging, Young Freud in Gaza is perhaps best understood by viewers familiar with the contemporary history of Palestine and the Israeli occupation. Lacking an overall historical context, the film assumes the viewer possess some knowledge of recent events in the occupied territories, labeling certain scenes with simple titles and little explanation. Clues to the details of these events can be found mainly when Ayed references them in passing, such as when he explains to a patient that the clinic's shortage of antidepressants is a result of the Israeli-led blockade. More details on the cause of the confrontations between factions, which dominate the film, would provide a more comprehensive approach to representing the situation in Gaza during that time.
Lengthier accounts of each patient's treatment and their progress would have also enhanced the film, as their stories are seemingly incomplete. In the end one is left wishing that the filmmakers would have incorporated more footage so as to expand their narrative. Given Israel's vicious attack on Gaza earlier this year, however, Young Freud in Gaza nevertheless speaks with a profound urgency.
Maymanah Farhat specializes in modern and contemporary Arab art. Her collected writings can be viewed online at http://maymanahfarhat.wordpress.com.
The man who killed Isaac Rabin !!!
Isaak Rabin was killed on behalf of
Benyamin Nathaniahu.. ..
Not that I regret loosing Rabin ,
but I doubt than anyone else has done it
but Mr. B . Nathaniahu , meaning his clan.....
When the only positive results of Oslo
were starting showing-up on the ground
and it started appearing as if the Oslo-agreements
were to be anything fruitful.... ..
That is when the Nathaniahu-clan made its move
by sending indirectly a young fanatic Israeli, with a gun.....
Not that I regret loosing Rabin
but I would have preferred to loose Nathaniahu , instead.
If "Peace" ever existed in the Israeli-vocabulary
or in the Israeli-strategy ,
Isaak Rabin was doing the wrong thing
in the wrong time and at the wrong place......
Rabin's mistake was to replace "our Submission" by "Peace"
Nathaniahu has sent a "real-israeli" to do what
any honest-real- genuine-israeli would do:
to kill the Peace....... to kill Oslo-Circus
to kill the Oslo-illusions. ......
and it was done !!
In the meantime
the PLO signed a partial-submission,
Jordan took down its pants, again
Qatar allowed a kind of Embassy for Israel
and the Marroco-Monarque droped his veil......
and Husny Mubarak said
" I told you so !!! didn't I
prostitution is not a sin , anymore !! "
Rabin is gone , Oslo is burried ,
Abu Ammar is murdered , The Doctor died of natural causes
Abbas , the impotent, rules a vacuum...... inside a prison
and here comes back and again Benyamin Nathaniahu
the Angel of Death and the undertaker.
Now , Nathaniahu shall nuke Tehran
and shall bomb Damascus , Beirut
and Khartoum too.
Why Khartoom , as well ???
just to hit the Nasser Water Dam at Asswan
and to flod Egypt ..........." by mistake ".....of course
for which he shall apologies to Obama later on.
Apocaliptic ??? yes !!!
But , do not blame me , blame Nathaniahu !!!
he inspired this text.
If the Oval Office guest list is an indicator, US President Barack Obama is making good on his commitment to try to revive the long-dead Arab-Israeli peace process. On 18 May President Obama received Israel's new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu; on 28 May he met with Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.
As this process gets under way, the United States -- Israel's main arms supplier, financier and international apologist -- faces huge hurdles. It is deeply mistrusted by Palestinians and Arabs generally, and the new administration has not done much to rebuild trust. Obama has, like former US President George W. Bush, expressed support for Palestinian statehood, but he has made no criticisms of Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip -- which killed more than 1,400 people last winter, mostly civilians -- despite evidence from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and UN investigators of egregious Israeli war crimes. Nor has he pressured Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza, where 1.5 million Palestinians, the vast majority of whom are refugees, are effectively imprisoned and deprived of basic necessities.
Obama has told Netanyahu firmly that Israel must stop building settlements on expropriated Palestinian land in the West Bank, but such words have been uttered by the president's predecessors. Unless these statements are followed by decisive action -- perhaps to limit American subsidies to Israel -- there's no reason to believe the lip service that failed in the past will suddenly be more effective.
On the Palestinian side, Obama is talking to the wrong man: more than half of residents in the Occupied Palestinian Territories do not consider Abbas the "legitimate" president of the Palestinians, according to a March survey by Fafo, a Norwegian research organization. Eighty-seven percent want the Fatah faction, which Abbas heads, to have new leaders.
Hamas, by contrast, emerged from Israel's attack on Gaza with enhanced legitimacy and popularity. That attack was only the latest of numerous efforts to topple the movement following its decisive victory in the 2006 legislative elections. In addition to the Israeli siege, these efforts have included a failed insurgency by Contra-style anti-Hamas militias nominally loyal to Abbas and funded and trained by the United States under the supervision of Lieut. Gen. Keith Dayton. If Obama were serious about making real progress, one of the first things he would do is ditch the Bush-era policy of backing Palestinian puppets and lift the American veto on reconciliation efforts aimed at creating a unified, representative and credible Palestinian leadership.
None of these problems is entirely new, though the challenges, having festered for years, may be tougher to deal with now. Netanyahu did add one obstacle, however, when he came to Washington. In accord with his anticipated strategy of delay, he insisted that Palestinians recognize Israel's right to exist as a "Jewish state" as a condition of any peace agreement. Obama seemingly endorsed this demand when he said, "It is in US national security interests to assure that Israel's security as an independent Jewish state is maintained."
Israel has pressed this demand with increasing fervor because Palestinians are on the verge of becoming the majority population in the territory it controls. Israel wants to ensure that any two-state solution -- something that looks increasingly doubtful even to proponents -- retains a Jewish majority. This explains the state's longstanding opposition, in defiance of international humanitarian law, to the return of Palestinian refugees who were expelled or fled from homes in what is now Israel.
But can Israel's demand be justified? A useful lens to examine its claim is the fundamental legal principle that there is no right without a remedy. If Israel has a "right to exist as a Jewish state," then what can it legitimately do if Palestinians living under its control "violate" this right by having "too many" non-Jewish babies? Can Israel expel non-Jews, fine them, strip them of citizenship or limit the number of children they can have? It is impossible to think of a "remedy" that does not do outrageous violence to universal human rights principles.
What if we apply Israel's claim to the United States? Because of the rapid growth of the Latino population in the past decade, Texas and California no longer have white majorities. Could either state declare that it has "a right to exist as a white-majority state" and take steps to limit the rights of non-whites? Could the United States declare itself officially a Christian nation and force Jews, Muslims or Hindus to pledge allegiance to a flag that bears a cross? While such measures may appeal to a tiny number of extremists, they would be unthinkable to anyone upholding twenty-first-century constitutional principles.
But Israeli leaders propose precisely such odious measures.
Already, Israel bans its citizens who marry non-citizen Palestinians from living in the country -- a measure human rights activists have compared with the anti-miscegenation laws that once existed in Virginia and other states. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has long advocated that the nearly 1.5 million Palestinians who are citizens of Israel be "transferred" from the country in order to maintain its Jewish majority.
Recently, Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party has sponsored or supported several bills aimed at further curtailing the rights of non-Jews. One requires all citizens, including Palestinian Muslims and Christians, to swear allegiance to Israel as a Jewish state. Another proposes to punish anyone who commemorates the Nakba (the name Palestinians give to their forced dispossession in the months before and after the state of Israel was established) with up to three years in prison. Ironically, Lieberman is an immigrant who moved to Israel from Moldova three decades ago, while the people he seeks to expel and silence have lived on the land since long before May 1948.
And as Obama continues to remind us of America's "shared values" with Israel, another proposed bill passed its first reading in the Knesset this week. According to the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, the law would prescribe "one year in prison for anyone speaking against Israel's right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state" -- making it a thought crime to advocate that Israel should be a democratic, nonracial state of all its citizens.
It would be sad indeed if the first African-American president of the United States were to defend in Israel exactly the kind of institutionalized bigotry the civil rights movement defeated in this country, a victory that made his election possible.
Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, 2006). This article was originally published by The Nation and is republished with permission.
M14's Jumblat: "SPIEGEL's Israeli ties are well known ...& Israel wants a Sunni-Shi'a conflagration..."
وفي السياق الاول برزت مجموعة مواقف لرئيس "اللقاء الديموقراطي" النائب وليد جنبلاط ليل امس في حديث ادلى به الى برنامج "كلام الناس" من "المؤسسة اللبنانية للارسال" واستعاد فيه محطات من ظروف احداث 7 ايار 2008. وقد وصف ما نشرته اخيرا مجلة "درشبيغل" الالمانية بانه "قنبلة نووية بحد ذاتها" قائلا ان "ارتباط المجلة باسرائيل معروف واسرائيل تريد فتنة سنية – شيعية في لبنان ولكن عندما يجتمع العقلاء في لبنان، وعلى رأسهم سعد الحريري، نجنّب لبنان الفتنة".
By MATTHEW WAGNER
"The holy Torah prohibits taking part in any act of uprooting Jews from any part of our sacred land," wrote the group of rabbis that included Hebron-Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi Dov Lior, Beit El Chief Rabbi Zalman Melamed, Yitzhar Rabbi David Dudkevitch, Rabbi Haim Steiner of Yeshivat Mercaz Harav and Rabbi Ya'acov Yosef, the eldest son of Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
"We call on all security personnel to refuse expulsion orders. A soldier or a policeman who is asked to take part in an uprooting operation is obligated to refuse this order, which goes against Torah values," they said.
The rabbis met in a synagogue at the Givat Asaf outpost located at the entrance to Beit El in Samaria.
- Al Nakba 1948 1- 8 Slides
- The Aftermath 9- 15 Slides
- Land and People 16-21 Slides
- Zionist Myths 22-28 Slides
By Mats Svensson
It feels like a very long time ago. Between a then and a now walls have been built. Not just one but many. The walls have also become higher, uglier, thicker and today the walls seem impossible to destroy.
Then, four years ago, we told each other that it couldn’t get worse. The suffering couldn’t become deeper. It was dark and bullets killed, young soldiers became murderers and family members disappeared.
And during this time of constant darkness and humiliation the Palestinian fractions gathered in mid-December 2004 to discuss a common future. At a conference hotel in the ghetto of Gaza the political leaders sat lined up like school boys to listen to Yvette Lillian Myakayaka-Manzini (Mavivi), vice president of the ANC women’s department. Listen and discuss something important, the struggle against apartheid.
They were all family fathers and Gaza residents. They were all confined behind high walls and accustomed to being humiliated by young boys and girls dressed in green from all the corners of the world.
They met in the hotel lobby, hugged each other and kissed each other on the cheek. This particular morning they congratulated each other on having successfully blown up a guard tower at the border crossing to Egypt.
But it soon became worse. What couldn’t happen, the impossible, was possible. The next time we arranged a similar meeting the different fractions could no longer meet, they had become enemies. The international community had said no. The coalition government had submerged into civil war.
But first there was the presidential election after President Yasser Arafat. Abu Mazen became the new Palestinian leader.
Soon thereafter the world forced a democratic parliamentary election on the Palestinians in which everyone would participate, even Hamas. Palestine would finally become democratic and many Western countries helped finance the costs of the election process. In Ramallah the Fatah leadership tried to prevent Hamas’ participation. But the world wanted something else. Bush had made up his mind. Democracy would be created to any price under the device that even a forced democracy is a democracy.
Jimmy Carter and Carl Bildt were election observers. Carter spoke about a victory for democracy. Carter held a press conference with Bildt by his side. Bildt looked like a school boy beside Carter. He silently sat beside the ex-President and looked with admiration in his eyes at one of the world’s most famous peace brokers.
But soon we got flies in the beaker and the dream about a two state solution translated into a de facto three state reality: Gaza, West Bank and Israel. The world had spoken. Carter and Bildt raised their voices but very few heard their calls.
But back to the meeting between Mavivi and a collection of family fathers from Gaza.
It was a day when one had agreed not to talk about Israel. Not speak about what the occupier had done in Jenin or what had happened in the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. No, it really became a special day when everyone instead talked about South Africa, the struggle against apartheid and simultaneously linked it to what just happened or didn’t happen in Gaza. Gaza was in the center.
Mavivi told the group that during the battle against white oppression in South Africa one had decided not to use violence against civilians. Civilians died, said Mavivi, but each time it was seen as a failure. The reason that we didn’t use a strategy that was directed against civilians was simple, Mavivi continued. The ANC sought support from the surrounding world, wanted to break the isolation. “We were also seen as terrorists,” said Mavivi. “The question we kept asking ourselves was how to break the isolation?”
“We soon reached an understanding of the outside world,” said Mavivi, “that was based on the following thought. If a taxi driver in Stockholm doesn’t understand the idea behind a suicide bomber then the Swedish government doesn’t either. If an elementary school teacher in Paris doesn’t understand it then the French government doesn’t either. We had to gain an understanding from people all around the world, we needed their support. We could only get support if the taxi driver and the teacher understood and could stand behind our actions. The governments in Sweden and France were expressions of the people’s wishes. We thought support comes from below and becomes a power only when one can unite behind it.”
Mavivi, woman from South Africa, has when the issue of suicide bombers comes up on the agenda already spoken for an hour. The conversation has flown, the fractions are open to each other and participated intensively. One had also spoken about the need for leadership and Ariel Sharon was compared to De Klerk and Yasser Arafat with Mandela. Other points on the agenda included the need to compromise and the truth and reconciliation commission that was established in South Africa, to forgive your enemy.
To forgive your enemy led to intensive discussions. One nevertheless agreed that a peace agreement was necessary before one could begin to forgive. That two signatures were required before one could begin hugging and kissing on the stage.
But it was when Mavivi brought up the strategic thinking behind suicide bombers that the discussion slowed down. One could discern a difference of opinion between the fractions.
The participant was silent when Mavivi as her last point spoke about the struggle in southern Africa and the need for unity, and unity behind a strategy. To work towards a common goal. ANC’s struggle, the resistance, needed to be clear, visible and effective when the enemy was stronger, both financially and militarily.
Mavivi explained that “during apartheid in South Africa we were forced to work so closely to our enemy as if he or she was our brother or sister. We were forced to get to know our enemy, know what he thought. We needed to understand how he thought and above all know when our brother or sister, our enemy, changed his or her strategy. We always had to be one step ahead. To manage this we had to work, be close to him.”
“And we succeeded,” Mavivi continued. ”We succeeded because throughout the struggle we maintained a high sense of morale. Our morale soon gave us wide international support. First came the support from the Scandinavian countries. Soon other countries followed and the white minority regime in Pretoria became increasingly isolated.”
But equally important was the internal debate within the ANC. The debate had as its starting point to create unity behind the strategy. “Compromise therefore became an important guiding principle within the ANC. A strategy without unity was for us within the ANC a meaningless strategy that would only have benefitted the oppressors,” said Mavivi. “We strove to get everyone on the same boat, we made a common journey.”
“We constantly faced difficult choices. Our leadership was spread across many countries. Moreover, many of our major leaders were in prison. But the debate was alive. The debate that was being held on Robben Island was also being held in study centers in Sweden, in Tanzania, in Kenya, in Namibia, everywhere. The island outside Cape Town was closed, the security high, but no one could shut out Mandela’s message, his message about unity.”
“Young and old had to unify, women and men soon created a common front. Communists, social democrats, liberals and conservative signed onto a common platform. Equally important was that Muslims, Christians, Jews and Hindus united in the struggle against the oppressors. Everyone was included in the common battle against evil. Soon came the condemnation from the world’s powerful leaders and then the UN could also comply.”
“The leadership was decisive in this drawn out struggle. We had a unique situation with a leader who stood for high morals, unity and long term thinking. Many of our leaders had been imprisoned for decades. They had been locked up for a complete life, many counted on dying behind high walls on an isolated island.”
Mavivi was very clear during the whole conversation. She did not have any pointers. She just told her own story, South Africa’s story. A story about struggle, about resistance, about a strategy, about unity. “I don’t know,” said Mavivi, “what is right in Palestine, I only know what was right for us. We listened to our friends. Our friends gave us good advice but our actions, our actions were our own. Had we listened to all the advice and followed them we would never have become free. The struggle against apartheid was our struggle.”
She had finished speaking. I thought the conversation was over. I was wrong. Mavivi now turned to the highly placed Hamas representative and asked him to tell her about their strategy. Tell her about their strategy in the same way that she had told them about the ANC’s.
But he was silent. The other leaders did not have anything to add either. Even Fatah’s representative was silent. There was no common strategy. There was no common goal. At that time, creating unity in Palestine felt distant.
Mavivi, woman from South Africa, now says with a clear voice, ”Comrades, you don’t seem to have an enemy. Comrades, your enemy is yourselves and comrades, your struggle has not yet begun.”
The Hamas representative remained silent for a while. His gaze was fixed and he gravely looked at Mavivi. Then he slowly and with a high voice said, “We will never forget the one who came to us in a time of deepest despair. Mavivi, when can you come back?”
- Mats Svensson, a former Swedish diplomat working on the staff of SIDA, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, is presently following the ongoing occupation of Palestine. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: email@example.com.