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Big Racists vs Little Racists: How Israeli apartheid is coming unstuck

by Jonathan Cook, source

NAZARETH — One incident of racism, though small in relation to the decades of massive, institutionalised discrimination exercised by Israel against its Palestinian Arab citizens, has triggered an uncharacteristic bout of Israeli soul-searching.

Superland, a large amusement park near Tel Aviv, refused to accept a booking from an Arab school on its preferred date in late May. When a staff member called back impersonating a Jew, Superland approved the booking immediately.

As the story went viral on social media, the park’s managers hurriedly offered an excuse: they provided separate days for Jewish and Arab children to keep them apart and prevent friction.

Government ministers led an outpouring of revulsion. Tzipi Livni, the justice minister, called the incident a “symptom of a sick democracy”. Defence minister Moshe Yaalon was “ashamed”. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded that the “racist” policy be halted immediately.

Such sensitivity appears to be a reaction to an explosion of popular racism over the past few months against the one in five Israelis who belong to the country’s Palestinian Arab minority. Some Israeli Jews have started to find the endless parade of bigotry disturbing.

Israeli TV recently revealed, for example, that a group of children with cancer who had been offered a free day at a swimming pool were refused entry once managers discovered that they were Bedouin.

According to another TV investigation, Israel’s banks have a secret policy of rejecting Arab customers who try to transfer their accounts to a branch in a Jewish community, even though this violates banking regulations.

The settlers, whose violence was once restricted to setting fire to the crops of Palestinians or rampaging through their villages in the West Bank, are now as likely to attack Arab communities inside Israel. Torched mosques, offensive graffiti on churches and cars set ablaze in so-called “price-tag” attacks have become commonplace.

Similarly, reports of vicious attacks on Arab citizens are rapidly becoming a news staple. Recent incidents have included the near-fatal beating of a street cleaner, and a bus driver who held his gun to an Arab passenger’s head, threatening to pull the trigger unless the man showed his ID.

Also going viral were troubling mobile-phone photos of a young Arab woman surrounded by a mob of respectable-looking commuters amd shoppers while she waited for a train. As they hit her and pulled off her hijab, station guards looked on impassively.

However welcome official denunciations of these events are, the government’s professed outrage does not wash.

While Netanyahu and his allies on the far right were castigating Superland for its racism, they were busy backing a grossly discriminatory piece of legislation the Haaretz newspaper called “one of the most dangerous” measures ever to come before the parliament.

The bill will give Israelis who have served in the army a whole raft of extra rights in land and housing, employment, salaries, and the provision of public and private services. The catch is that almost all of the country’s 1.5 million Palestinian citizens are excluded from military service. In practice, the benefits will be reserved for Jews only.

Superland’s offence pales to insignificance when compared to that, or to the decades of state-planned and officially sanctioned discrimination against the country’s Palestinian minority.

An editorial in Haaretz this month observed that Israel was really “two separate states, one Arab and one Jewish. … This is the gap between the Jewish state of Israel, which is a developed Western nation, and the Arab state of Israel, which is no more than a Third World country.”

Segregation is enforced in all the main spheres of life: land allocation and housing, citizenship rights, education, and employment.

None of this is accidental. It was intended this way to guarantee Israel’s future as a Jewish state. Legal groups have identified 57 laws that overtly discriminate between Jewish and Palestinian citizens, with a dozen more heading towards the statute books.

Less visible but just as damaging is the covert discrimination Palestinian citizens face every day when dealing with state institutions, whose administrative practices find their rationale in the entrenchment of Jewish privilege.

This week a report identified precisely this kind of institutional racism when it found that students from the country’s Palestinian minority were confronted by a series of 14 obstacles not faced by their Jewish compatriots that contributed to denying them places in higher education.

The wave of popular prejudice and racist violence is no accident either. Paradoxically, it has been unleashed by the increasingly inflammatory rhetoric of right-wing politicians like Netanyahu, whose constant fearmongering casts Palestinian citizens as disloyal, a fifth column and a demographic threat to the state’s Jewishness.

So why if the state is so committed to subjugating and excluding Palestinian citizens, and Netanyahu and his ministers so determined to increase the weight of discriminatory legislation, are they decrying the racism of Superland?

To make sense of this, one has to understand how desperately Israel has sought to distinguish itself from apartheid South Africa.

Israel cultivates, as South Africa once did, what scholars term “grand apartheid”. This is segregation, largely covert and often often justified by security or cultural differences, to ensure that control of resources remains exclusively in the hands of the privileged community.

At the same time, Israel long shied away from what some call South Africa’s model of “petty apartheid” – the overt, symbolic, but far less significant segregation of park benches, buses and toilets.

The avoidance of petty apartheid has been the key to Israel’s success in obscuring from the world’s view its grand apartheid, most obviously in the occupied territories but also inside Israel itself.

This month South Africa’s departing ambassador to Israel, Ismail Coovadia, warned that Israel was a “replication of apartheid”. The idea that the world may soon wake up to this comparison deeply unnerves Netanyahu and the right, all the more so as they risk being identified as the party refusing to make concessions towards peace.

The threat posed by what happened at Superland is that such incidents of unofficial and improvised racism may one day unmask the much more sinister and organised campaign of “grand apartheid” that Israel’s leaders have overseen for decades.

– See more at: http://dissidentvoice.org/2013/06/big-racists-vs-little-racists/#sthash.FAlPyuSq.dpuf

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The plucky professor and ‘Israel’, the last bigoted democracy

by Jamal Kanj, source

Israeli president Shimon Peres is hosting in Jerusalem this week a presidential conference called “Facing Tomorrow”. Its theme is the “human factor and its role in shaping our tomorrow”.

In addition to establishing an image as a world leader, Peres envisioned in 2008 a venue to assemble top international scientific and political minds to discuss “the way toward a better tomorrow for Israel, the Jewish people” and then “the entire world”.

This is the person who was a prime minister in 1996 when the Israeli army targeted a United Nations (UN) compound near the village of Qana, South Lebanon, killing more than 100 civilians, mostly women and children.

A UN inquiry concluded that contrary to repeated denials, Israel must have known civilians took shelter inside the UN camp as “two Israeli helicopters and a remotely piloted (reconnaissance) vehicle were present” in the area during and before the mortar shelling.

Amnesty International accused Israel of attacking the UN compound “intentionally”.

In a just world, the Israeli president would be arraigned at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes committed under his leadership. Instead, he is hallowed by hypocritical world leaders at a conference validating his hidebound vision of humanity.

His event might have gone unnoticed but for a towering international scientist, who refused to attend the conference. Stephen Hawking, the world’s foremost physicist, took an audacious step when he turned down the Israeli invitation.

Refusing to share the stage with former US president Bill Clinton – paid $500,000 for his appearance – Hawking opted to join a long list of more principled international writers, singers and artists who refused to visit Israel in protest at its occupation and mistreatment of Palestinians.

Israel and its Western pundits became concerned that Hawking, the most prominent international figure to join the boycott, could open a floodgate of public pronouncements from other international personalities opposing Israel’s racist practices. But instead of discussing the merits of his decision, Israel’s apologists filled the airwaves and print media demonizing the world-renowned cosmologist and physicist, using their clichŽd Weapons of Mass Defamation (WMD) to silence critics of Israel.

A surrogate of Israel’s WMD, the uncouth Alan Dershowitz, had the nerve to call the world’s most eminent physicist an “ignoramus” and insinuated he was an anti-Semite.

Israel Maimon, chairman of the presidential conference, was quoted in the Guardian newspaper saying: “Israel is a democracy …. A boycott decision is incompatible with open democratic discourse.”

But Maimon forgot that Israel is exclusively a Jewish democracy, just as South Africa was once a “white” democracy.

Understanding this axiomatic relationship was part of Hawking’s evolving position on Palestine. He visited Israel at least four times earlier and saw firsthand the Jewish-only colonies on stolen land and a separation wall dividing Jews and Palestinians into two unequal societies.

In 2006, he expressed “democratically” to then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert his disappointment with Israel’s unjust occupation.

Nevertheless, the “Jewish democracy” indulged in its bigoted treatment of non-Jewish communities leading Hawking in 2009 to compare Israel to “South Africa before 1990″.

The chairman of the presidential conference who also denounced Hawking’s academic boycott must have forgotten that the US academic boycott of South Africa – the boycott was supported by elements from Zionist liberal academia – was effective in the fight against the apartheid regime.

I worked with the anti-apartheid movement in college when Israel and Ronald Reagan called for direct engagement with South Africa.

Fortunately, Israel and Reagan’s appeasement concept was brushed aside as the boycott movement in US universities gained momentum – leading to the isolation of the apartheid regime and eventually helping put an end to the system of “white” democracy.

By snubbing the Israeli presidential conference, the intrepid quadriplegic prodigy is shaping a “better tomorrow” for all of humanity by exposing the world’s last bigoted democracy.

“Israel’s” new generation of racists

Palestine: “Israel” runs ‘Palestinian-only’ buses, Israeli officer kicks the holy Quran & seriously ill minor arrested

“Israel” runs ‘Palestinian-only’ buses

Press TV

The Israeli transportation ministry says it has launched ‘Palestinian-only buses’ as the Tel Aviv regime continues with its apartheid policies.

The ministry said the bus lines, which were launched on Sunday, would only give service to Palestinian passengers commuting from the West Bank to central Tel Aviv. The buses only stop in Palestinian villages.

Israeli transport authorities claim that Palestinians entering “mixed buses” with Israelis will not be thrown off. However, several bus drivers say Palestinians will be only allowed to travel on the ‘Palestinian-only buses.’

“We are not allowed to refuse service and we will not order anyone to get off the bus, but from what we were told, starting next week, there will be checks at the checkpoint, and Palestinians will be asked to board their own buses,” said an Israeli bus driver.

“It was the result of reports and complaints saying that the buses traveling in the area were overcrowded and rife with tensions between the Jewish and Arab passengers,” Israeli media quoted the transportation ministry as saying in defense of the plan.

Israeli security forces have been put on high alert to counter possible protests by Palestinians in the region over the racist move.

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Israeli officer kicks copy of the holy Quran

OCCUPIED JERUSASLEM, (PIC)– Worshippers and students at the Aqsa mosque were infuriated on Sunday when an Israeli officer kicked a copy of the holy Quran with his foot.

Local sources said that a fistfight broke out between Israeli policemen and students who were protesting the Jewish settlers’ storming of the holy site.

They said that the officer was participating in the police attempt to forcibly evacuate those students and kicked the copy of the holy Quran in the process.

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IOF soldiers arrest seriously ill minor

JENIN, (PIC)– Israeli occupation forces (IOF) detained a 16-year-old boy in Yabad village, south of Jenin, despite suffering serious illness.

Local sources said that Majed Abu Bakir was arrested by those forces at a late night hour Saturday on returning from his work in 1948 occupied land.

They said that the soldiers did not care less about his relatives’ warning that the boy was suffering from kidney failure.

Apartheid is a Crime, Not an Analogy

by Joe Catron, source

As Israeli Apartheid Week unfolds around the world, apologists for Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people scramble to defend their chosen regime’s system of racism, ethnic cleansing, and occupation, against the charge of apartheid.

“The apartheid analogy is fatally flawed,” the Jerusalem Connection’s Shelley Neese writes. The David Project’s David Bernstein says, “The apartheid analogy is specious and absurd.” The Anti-Defamation League has even circulated an old report: “The Apartheid Analogy: Wrong for Israel.”

These commentators are right, but not for the reasons they claim. An apartheid ‘analogy’ is fatally flawed, specious, absurd, and wrong for Israel because apartheid is not an analogy, but a crime as well-defined in law as embezzlement or kidnapping.

The most relevant statute, the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, perhaps muddies the waters by stating that “the term ‘the crime of apartheid’ … shall include similar practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in southern Africa.”

But it goes on to define exactly what those and other “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them” are.

Most will sound familiar to anyone who follows news from Palestine. The ban on “arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups” should bring to mind Hana Shalabi, Khader Adnan, and 307 other administrative detainees held indefinitely without charges, evidence, or trials. This is further to the 4,078 Palestinian political prisoners sentenced by military courts or facing the imminent prospect, all under occupation laws no Jew will ever face.

The prohibition of “measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country” could have been meant to describe discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel.

They are barred by law from the their country’s ethnically-cleansed land controlled by the Jewish National Fund, face forcible displacement in the Naqab and Jim Crow-style ‘admissions committees’ when seeking new homes, and have never — over nearly 64 years of occupation — been allowed to construct a new community.

And one could write volumes about Zionist “measures, designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group” in the occupied West Bank alone.

There, illegal settlements and the Apartheid Wall carve Palestinian communities into segmented Bantustans, separating inhabitants from natural resources and their families and friends in a steady process that began with the expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinians from their homeland in 1948: racial partition writ large.

The 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court specifically proscribes such ethnic cleansing, defining “the crime of apartheid” to include “deportation or forcible transfer of population … in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.”

This aptly summarizes an unbroken chain of crimes committed by Zionists, from the Nakba of 1948 to the Naqab of today.

Of course astute Zionists know all of this very well. They target an imaginary apartheid ‘analogy’ because it can only work to their advantage.

Palestinians and allies bogged down in fruitless debates over how much or how little Palestine in 2012 resembles South Africa in 1973 will spend that much less time driving home their actual point: that Israel’s culpability in the crimes of apartheid and ethnic cleansing, as clearly defined and universally understood, is obvious.

Unfortunately, many well-intentioned supporters of Palestine fall into this carefully-laid trap. A promotional summary of the new documentary Roadmap to Apartheid promises that the film “winds its way through the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and inside Israel moving from town to town and issue to issue to show why the apartheid analogy is being used with increasing potency.”

Such an historical comparison may interest viewers. But by casting apartheid as an ‘analogy’, rather than a straightforward question of international law, it risks confusing them with irrelevant distractions.

A 21st-century apartheid regime, toasted in foreign capitals and benefiting from new technologies of surveillance, control, and violence, will differ significantly from an earlier, internationally-isolated, and less-advanced one.

Incidentally, these differences do not favor Israel. After visiting Palestine in 2006, Willie Madisha, former president of South Africa’s Congress of South African Trade Unions, commented: “The horrendous dehumanization of Black South Africans during the erstwhile Apartheid years is a Sunday picnic, compared with what I saw and what I know is happening to the Palestinian people.”

Following his own 2004 visit, South African activist Arun Gandhi agreed: “When I come here and see the situation here, I find that what is happening here is ten times worse than what I had experienced in South Africa. This is Apartheid.”

John Dugard, a South African professor of international law and a former Special Rapporteur to the UN Human Rights Council for the Gaza Strip and West Bank, has observed that “every black South African that I’ve spoken to who has visited the Palestinian territory has been horrified and has said without hesitation that the system that applies in Palestine is worse.”

Yet even these comparisons, though they may favor Palestine, are beside the point. Israeli policies constitute the crime of apartheid not because they resemble those of South Africa, or even because they are worse, but rather because a well-established body of international law defines them as such.

The common elements of national oppression, from South Africa and Palestine to Ireland and the indigenous Americas, matter. But we should not confuse the building blocks of international solidarity with a suitable basis for legal analysis.

Why choose to make one of the easiest, most straightforward questions about Palestine unnecessarily difficult? And when Zionists attempt to do so, why should we play along with them?

– Joe Catron is an international solidarity activist and Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions organizer in the Gaza Strip.

Redefining our relationship to a people’s struggle

by Ramzy Baroud, source

(Based on talks delivered by Ramzy Baroud at Israeli Apartheid Week conferences in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta, Canada – March 5, 6 2012)

In the Winter 2012 Edition of Palestine News – published by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the UK – and more specifically on page 5, there is a photo of an old man.

With a white beard, gray, traditional jalabiya, a black belt and an old blue jacket, he could be any Palestinian’s grandfather. In the photo, the man holds broken branches of his olive trees, maliciously destroyed by Jewish settlers in the village of Qusra, in the West Bank.

The old man’s name was not provided. He could be Mohammed, George or Ali. A Muslim or a Christian. His village, Qusra is located south of Nablus, but that too matters little. It could be a village bordering Jerusalem, Ramallah, or Jenin.

Throughout the years, many men and women in his village must have posed with the remains of their ancient olive trees, conveying a look of sorrow or despair, hoping that maybe, their collective, yet muted cry for justice will bring to an end to the heinous and perpetual crime under which they all suffer.

According to the accompanying report, the destruction of Palestinian olive trees by settlers -under the watchful eye of the Israeli occupation army – has cost farmers over $500,000 in 2011. “Oxfam, the Union of Agricultural Work Committee (and others) estimated that olives collected in 2011 would produce half of the oil of the 2010 harvest.” But it is not exactly the financial burden that settlers are targeting in their constant rampages throughout the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. They know well that the land is a source of income to about 100,000 families, but also a source of empowerment to the white-bearded old man, and millions like him. They ultimately aim is to break the bond that unites the native inhabitants of Palestine since time immemorial. But will they succeed?

Suheil Akram al-Masri is a 26-year-old Palestinian political prisoner, who was hospitalized on March 02 just hours after his release back to his village of Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip. Al-Masri had reportedly fallen unconscious after 13-days of being on a hunger strike, in solidarity with female prisoner Hana Shalabi, who went on a hunger strike on February 12.

Hana’s story is troublingly typical. She has spent 25 months under what Israel calls ‘administrative detention,” a bizarre legal system that allows Israel to hold Palestinian political activists indefinitely and without charge or trial. She was released in October 2011 as part of the prisoner exchange deal, only to be kidnapped by soldiers in the most degrading fashion a few months later.

Hana, like Khader Adnan who had recently ended the longest hunger strike ever staged by a Palestinian prisoner, decided that enough was enough: life without freedom and dignity is a life not worth living. Hundreds of Palestinians, including Hana’s aging father, joined her hunger strike and quest for freedom.

But neither Hana’s case, nor that of Khader are isolated by any means. Charlotte Kates, who is active with The National Lawyers Guild recently wrote, “Imprisonment is a fact of life for Palestinians; over 40% of Palestinian men in the West Bank have spent time in Israeli detention or prisons. There are no Palestinian families that have not been touched by the scourge of mass imprisonment as a mechanism of suppression.”

Considering that, and keeping in mind the protracted state of siege and incarceration experienced by a nation under military occupation that holds no regard for international law whatsoever, Hana is every Palestinian woman. Khader is every Palestinian man, as the old man of Qusra is every Palestinian farmer. The “Order Regarding Security Provisions” governing the occupied territories grants the Israeli military “the authority to arrest and prosecute Palestinians from the West Bank for so-called ‘security’ offenses.” There are 2,500 such military orders, including one issued in August 1967 which deems any acts of influencing public opinion as “prohibited ‘political incitement’, and under the heading of ‘support to a hostile organization,’ prohibits any activity that demonstrates sympathy for an organization deemed illegal under military orders.”

Palestinians are thus governed by laws without internationally recognizable legal frame of reference. There is no need to examine the Fourth Geneva Convention on prisoners, on rights of occupied nations, on torture, on the forceful seizing of property or even on road traffic. None is relevant here. Israel is governed by its own logic, however absurd and inhumane.

It is this very logic that would allow Israel to justify the detention of Gaza patients seeking medical treatment outside their besieged area – which lacks critical medical equipment and life-saving medicine. (Most of Gaza’s hospitals currently operate on generators provided by emergency fuel supplied by the Red Cross, according to the Guardian, March 1.)

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) issued a statement on January 23, protesting an exceptionally disturbing practice, which has been used by the Israeli military for many years: interrogated Palestinians seeking surgeries in West Bank or Israeli hospitals.

Bassam Rehan, 25, from Jabaliya refugee camp was one such victim, who was detained as he tried to pass through the Erez crossing. PCHR was concerned that Rehan would be subject to torture as he was due to undergo surgery in the West Bank, according to Maan News. It was not a haphazard concern, of course, as other patients were exploited and tortured in the past. “Targeting patients, exploiting their need for medical treatment at hospitals in Israel or the West Bank and blackmailing them constitute serious illegal actions,” PCHR’s statement read.

Such stories don’t begin or end here. But the continuation of this terrible and convoluted episode raises questions about the lack of will to bring this injustice to an end; about our moral responsibility, even culpability, in allowing Israel to treat people – the natives of this ancient ‘holy land’ in so degrading a way.

There is little point in counting on Barack Obama, Stephen Harper or David Cameron to exact justice for Palestinians. How could they, when their governments continue to facilitate and arm the occupation of Palestine, finance the illegal settlements, ensure the continuation of the siege on Gaza and block any attempt, even if symbolic, to indict the unlawful, violent and Apartheid-like practices of the Israeli government?

But to whom can the unnamed old man of Qusra, Suheil, Hana, Adnan and Bassam turn for justice? To whom can they appeal for rights? And from whom should they expect solidarity?

One thing is sure in all of this: Palestinians will continue to resist with or without an international awaking to the injustice underway. The old man will try to replant a new olive grove, Suheil, Hana and Adnan will continue their quest for freedom or will die trying. A whole new generation will carry the torch from the previous one, replant, rebuild and hunger for freedom.

But we, the silent multitudes must not accept this paradigm of supposed immoral certainty as a must. It is our silence that empowers Israel’s crimes, and our morally-challenged leaders who continue to speak of the ‘unbreakable bond’ between them and an Apartheid regime; it’s the lack of accountability that makes them shed their last shred of humanity in fear of lobby pressure, or in seeking lobby support.

It is time that we redefine our relationship to the Palestinian struggle. We are not helpless outsiders; we are enablers of this moral travesty that translates into untold daily suffering of millions of people. Our silence is a blank check to the groveling politicians to continue to plead at the feet of the ever-demanding pro-Israeli lobby.

Ordinary Palestinians need true solidarity, not preaching of violence and non-violence; they have utilized the latter for nearly a hundred years. They need us to morally divest from Israel, as opposed to standing half way between the oppressed and the oppressor. They need us to overcome our tendencies of intellectual elitism or any sense of moral ascendancy. They don’t need of us to play the role of the lecturer. They need us to truly listen. To genuinely comprehend. To earnestly act.

This is not a conflict concerning religion. It is not about politics. It’s about rights. About people with history so rooted in the land, their land – for, who else has planted the ancient olive groves of their ancestors? They need us to remember their names, their stories, and to constantly consider that behind the headlines there are people with faces, with untold courage and humanity, aching for justice and lasting peace: Suheil, Hana, Adnan and Bassam and millions others, some passed away and others are yet to be born.

Before we speak of ‘solutions’ to the ‘Palestinian-Israeli conflict,’ I believe that we must first resolve our own dilemma by divesting, first, morally, then by every other mean, from an occupation that runs counter to any true conception of true humanism.

It was Desmond Tutu who once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Where do we stand from this conflict, on the side of the armed Brooklyn settler, and the US-armed Israeli soldier? Or on the side of the bearded old man holding tightly on his broken olive branches in a mix of despair, yet hope, however slight, that someone somewhere cares enough?

The choice is yours, but the consequences of your choice could redefine history.

– Ramzy Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).

Israeli apartheid week kicks off in South Africa

CAPE TOWN, (PIC)– The cultural week against the Israeli apartheid regime in occupied Palestine were launched in more than 13 South African cities in the context of global activities and events taking place in about 90 cities around the world.

These events include university seminars, lectures, documentaries movies, photo galleries and many other activities on the apartheid system pursued by Israel.

Many prominent international and local figures and Palestinians are participating in these anti-apartheid events throughout South Africa.

In a joint press release the Muslim Judicial Council and Al Quds Foundation announced their support for the Israeli Apartheid Week(IAW), an initiative of international education institutes who in conjunction with the call by the Palestinian Students’ Campaign has raised awareness for an Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI) and a BDS Campaign in Gaza. Since it was first launched in 2005, IAW has grown to become one of the most important global events in the Palestine solidarity calendar.

It includes lectures, film screenings, round- table discussions and workshops in response to the call of Palestinian civil society for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

The Muslim Judicial Council and the Al Quds Foundation will contribute towards the awareness campaign of the Israeli Apartheid policies by hosting one of the prisoners Dr Abdul Aziz
Umar, who was released last year as part of the prisoner exchange deal.

Dr Umar’s visit forms part of the Israeli Apartheid Week [IAW] that aims to raise awareness through educational campaigns about Israel’s apartheid policies toward Palestinians and to gather support for the international boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign, which was launched in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian civil society organisations.

Dr Umar will provide South African’s with the insight of how the Israeli Apartheid machine operates in prisons and will also raise an awareness of the similarities of treatment and torture endured by our liberation fighters in South African prisons during the Apartheid era.

During a visit to the Holy Land, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said in an interview to The Guardian “I’ve been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. […]”

Israeli apartheid week: Call it as it is

Palestinian “Freedom Riders” challenge segregation

‘Israel’ arrests “Freedom Riders” challenging apartheid road system

Palestinian activists staged a protest inspired by the Freedom Riders of the US civil rights movement.( Anne Paq / ActiveStills )

by Jillian Kestler-D’Amours, The Electronic Intifada

“I’m a Freedom Rider! I’m just trying to go to Jerusalem!” shouted Palestinian activist Huwaida Arraf Tuesday evening as a live Internet video feed showed Israeli police officers dragging her off a bus linking Israeli settlements in the West Bank to Jerusalem.

Arraf and five other Palestinian activists boarded segregated Israeli public bus number 148 — which connects the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel to Jerusalem — on Tuesday in an act of civil disobedience aimed to draw attention to Israeli colonial and apartheid policies and the lack of basic human rights Palestinians are afforded under this system.

After sitting peacefully on the bus at Israel’s Hizma checkpoint, just outside the northern entrance to Jerusalem, and nonviolently resisting attempts by the Israeli authorities to get them off the bus, all six “Freedom Riders” were eventually removed by force and arrested for illegally entering Israel without permits.

Another Palestinian Freedom Rider was also arrested while attempting to ride the segregated buses, and according to a Freedom Riders press release, was taken with the six other activists to Atarot police station (“Palestinian Freedom Riders On Their Way to Jerusalem Violently Arrested on Israeli Settler Bus”).

Their protest action was inspired by the Freedom Riders of the civil rights movement in the United States, who nonviolently challenged segregation in the American South in the 1950s and 1960s.

“It’s going to be a challenge for Palestinians and for every human being for their morality. It’s going to be a challenge for the whole world to really take action against the Israeli crimes,” Palestinian Freedom Riders spokesperson Hurriyah Ziada told The Electronic Intifada on Monday.

While Palestinians are not explicitly barred from boarding Israeli public transportation in the West Bank, since most buses pass through Israeli settlements that are off-limits to Palestinians, the system is de facto segregated.

“Our challenge is going to be on the ground dealing with the settlers, but on the other hand, we’re waiting for the peoples’ reactions and the world’s reactions. Enough talk; we need real action on the ground and for people to take a side, taking a rightful side against Israeli discrimination,” Ziada said.

Tense hours at the checkpoint

The Freedom Riders left Ramallah Tuesday afternoon and headed to a bus stop in the occupied West Bank, which serves Israeli settlers near the Israeli settlement of Psagot. After a few buses drove past the Palestinian activists without stopping, six Freedom Riders, and a large group of journalists, managed to board a bus.

The bus was reportedly followed along its route by Israeli soldiers and police, and was stopped shortly after arriving at the Hizma checkpoint. Once there, Israeli settlers who had been on the bus got off, and Israeli soldiers and police officers boarded to check passengers’ IDs, according to images broadcast on the Freedom Waves live Internet video feed.

“The Israelis can’t take the wait and so they are getting off the bus. Let them see what we have to go through and let them ask why this is happening, and why it has to happen this way in order to try to change things,” said Freedom Rider Huwaida Arraf, as the settlers stood up and began leaving the bus, as documented in the Freedom Waves video feed.

“Whether they’re corralled in pens at checkpoints or held up and detained, not told why, arrested, held for days, weeks, sometimes months without any kind of legal justification at all … this happens to Palestinians every day,” she said.

“I want people to see the apartheid system here”

The Electronic Intifada spoke directly with Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, one of the Freedom Riders, at approximately 4:20pm local time on Tuesday, as he sat on the bus at the checkpoint.

“We’re on the bus. They just moved us a few yards beyond the [Hizma] checkpoint. We are in a parking lot and the soldiers are asking us to come down from the bus. The people refuse to come down from the bus. They are telling [us] that [we] are detained and [we] have to come from the bus. We don’t know yet what they are going to do. They took one person from the bus. There’s [Israeli] special forces, border police, regular police and soldiers surrounding the bus,” Qumsiyeh said.

“I don’t know [what will happen] but I think we will be punished severely,” Qumsiyeh, who was later arrested with the five other Freedom Riders, added. “I want [people] to see that we have an apartheid system here. There are illegal, colonial settlements in our land. These settlements have their own buses and they get to Jerusalem without anybody checking them, yet we, the native Palestinians, are not allowed to get to Jerusalem.”

Freedom of movement severely restricted

Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are illegal according to international law, including the Geneva conventions. It is estimated that approximately 500,000 Jewish Israelis currently live in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem estimates that from 1967 — when Israel imposed its military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip — to mid-2010, the Israeli government established 121 settlements in the West Bank that were officially recognized by the Israeli Ministry of Interior.

In that same period, approximately 100 settler outposts, considered illegal under both international and Israeli laws, were erected, while twelve so-called “neighborhoods” of Jerusalem were built on land illegally annexed by Israel and are thereby also illegal under international law.

According to B’Tselem, Israel has created a system of “separation and discrimination, with two separate systems of law” in the occupied West Bank.

“One system, for the settlers, de facto annexes the settlements to Israel and grants settlers the rights of citizens of a democratic state. The other is a system of military law that systematically deprives Palestinian of their rights and denies them the ability to have any real effect on shaping the policy regarding the land space in which they live and with respect to their rights,” B’Tselem states on its website (“Land expropriation and settlements”).

Restrictions on Palestinian freedoms do not end at the settlements themselves, however. Instead, Palestinians’ rights are also violated by the infrastructure built to accommodate Israeli settlers, especially private, Israeli-only roads. “In October 2010, there were 232 kilometers of roads in the West Bank that Israel classified for the sole, or almost sole, use of Israelis, primarily of settlers,” says B’Tselem (“Checkpoints, Physical Obstructions, and Forbidden Roads”).

“Israel also prohibits Palestinians from even crossing some of these roads with vehicles, thereby restricting their access to nearby roads that they are ostensibly not prohibited from using. In these cases, Palestinians travelers have to get out of the vehicle, cross the road on foot, and find an alternative mode of transportation on the other side,” according to the human rights group.

Veolia a boycott target for serving settlements

Egged, Israel’s largest public transportation company, operates the bus that the Freedom Riders boarded in the West Bank Tuesday. French company Veolia also operates bus lines serving illegal Israeli settlements throughout the occupied West Bank.

According to the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), which organizes around the 2005 Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel as a way to end Israeli violations of international law and promote Palestinian rights, Egged and Veolia “are complicit in Israel’s violations of international law due to their involvement in and profiting from Israel’s illegal settlement infrastructure.”

Palestinian Freedom Rides Spokesperson Hurriyah Ziada told The Electronic Intifada that promoting the BDS call — and the specific boycott of and divestment from Egged and Veolia — is a major aim of the Freedom Rides movement.

“We’re trying to support the BDS campaign,” Ziadah said. “Negotiations have been going for too long and we haven’t been achieving anything on the ground. Everybody knows that these settlements are illegal on our land, but nobody is doing anything. Israel is not paying any cost for any of its actions. They have to pay a price by people boycotting them and by highlighting how racist they are. We ask for human rights and freedom, justice and dignity.”

“In the civil rights movement, they were fighting against racism,” Ziadah added, “but we’re going to be fighting against racism, discrimination [and] occupation. We’re going to be fighting to exist.”

Jillian Kestler-D’Amours is a reporter and documentary filmmaker based in Jerusalem.

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Israeli bystanders react to Freedom Rides

AIC

As Palestinian activists stood at a bus stop in the Occupied West Bank yesterday, Jewish settlers made racist remarks. While the Israeli reaction to the Freedom Rides was overwhelmingly negative, the Freedom Riders presence on the bus sparked a debate between two young girls… (continue)

Russell Tribunal states “Israel” an apartheid entity, urges int’l interference

Moqawama

The Russell Tribunal on Palestinian found that “Israel’s” practices against the Palestinian people violate the prohibition of apartheid under international laws.

Press TV correspondent reported that the Tribunal determined that the “Israeli” enemy is an “apartheid regime with an institutionalized system of domination as recognized under international law”.

Moreover, the Tribunal declared that although the Palestinians living under the military rule of the occupation are subject to an aggravated form of apartheid, the apartheid system extends to “Israeli” treatment of Palestinian citizens within the occupied territories. It added that Tel Aviv’s rule over the Palestinian people amounts to “a single integrated regime of apartheid”.

Furthermore, the Russell Tribunal urged the “Israeli” enemy to dismantle this system and called upon the international community to put pressure on the occupation entity through imposing sanctions and severing ties.

The Tribunal also called upon the UN General Assembly to list banks, companies, organizations and other corporations that support the “Israeli” enemy. Meanwhile, the website of the tribunal was hacked while the sessions were ongoing in Cape Town, South Africa.

In addition, the “Israeli” entity announced that Knesset Arab member Hanine Zoabi will be stripped of her citizenship after testifying in the sessions.

Zaobi told Press TV, “We are demanding “Israel” to stop this racist system and to recognize equal rights for the Palestinians because it is our homeland; we didn’t immigrate to “Israel”; it is “Israel” that immigrated to us”.

Could Arab staying power ultimately defeat Zionism?

Abbas’s UN appeal, combined with the civil rights fight inside “Israel”, is changing the nature of the Palestinian struggle

by David Hearst, The Guardian

There is an Arabic word you come across a lot when Palestinians talk about their future. Sumud means steadfastness, and it has turned into a strategy: when the imbalance of power is so pronounced, the most important thing to do is to stay put.

Staying put against overwhelming odds is regarded as a victory. But it is more than just a word. It’s the look in Rifqua al-Kurd’s eyes as she fights eviction in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem. She lives out of boxes, because when the police throw her out and the settlers move in she doesn’t want the clothes thrown into the street. Sumud is the tenacity with which Mohammed Hussein Jibor, a farmer, clings to a rock-strewn patch of land in the South Hebron hills in 38 degrees heat. His water cistern has been destroyed three times this year because he does not have a permit for it, even though the court acknowleges it is his land. Sumud sums up the attitude of the Bedouin struggling to stay in 45 unrecognised villages in the Negev, without a supply of water, electricity or schools. Once the entire Negev was theirs, now only 6% is. Israel wants to put the Bedouin in townships while establishing 130 Jewish villages and agricultural settlements on the land. Talab al-Sana, their MP, says: “They want Jews to be Bedouin and Bedouin to be Ashkenaz [European Jews].”

Sumud crops up in some unexpected places – not only East Jerusalem, the West Bank or Gaza, but in Jaffa, Lod, and in Arab communities all over Israel among people who have nominally the same rights as any other citizen. As September looms and with it the attempt by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to get a declaration of statehood from the UN, the spotlight has swivelled on to these.

This is not a casual shift, as it could affect outcomes. If Israel ends its occupation of the West Bank, and allows it to join with Gaza, the result could be two states – a Palestinian one alongside an Israeli one. But if you accompany that with a civil rights movement inside Israel, the goal could be very different – a secular, democratic state “for all its citizens”, where Jew, Christian and Muslim are equal. A one-state solution in which Jewish citizens lose an inbuilt majority. The end of Zionism, no less.

More than 100,000 Arabs stayed on after 1948 and today number more than 1.5 million, roughly a fifth of the population of Israel. The ’48 Arabs, as they are known, are no longer seen as separate, exclusive or privileged. After so many years, their fight for civil rights within Israel is a struggle most Palestinians under occupation can identify with. It was not always thus. They were known pejoratively as “insiders”, according to the dissident Israeli historian Ilan Pappé, who has written a book about them. Trying to be “good Arabs” in Jewish eyes was tantamout to collaboration in Arab ones. But much has changed.

Pappé says: “The people in the West Bank understood what the minorities inside Israel felt like, after years of deriding them for being lesser Palestinians, and that when the main impulse of the power that controls everything in your daily life is expulsionist, staying put is quite an achievement.”

Another historian, Sami Abu Shehadeh, is doing his doctoral thesis on Jaffa as the major Arab cultural and economic centre during the mandate period. It had its own Arabic press, eight cinemas, five hospitals and about 120,000 people. After the 1948 war, 3,900 were left.

It is standard practice for historians at Tel Aviv University to explain the time frame of their research and why it ends when it does. Shehadeh stopped his in 1948 because that was when Jaffa stopped existing as a city. “My adviser told me: ‘Sami, we might agree or disagree on the word expelled, but I don’t know who will sit on your committee [to adjudicate the thesis] if you insist on using it.'” A compromise was negotiated – rare in this part of the world. Shehadeh wrote that, as a result of the war, the Arabs of Jaffa “had to leave and were not allowed back”.

“Forget politics, on the basic historical facts we fight on everything,” he says. “I dont even know where to start a normal discussion. We live totally separate lives. Outsiders don’t see it. In Israel there are different spaces for Jews and Arabs. The problem is the vast majority of elites, and not just political but economic and intellectual ones, define themselves as being part of a Jewish democracy and concentrate all their thinking on the rights of the Jews. Non-Jews, be they Christian or Muslim, are excluded from any serious decision-making process in their lives.”

That goes for the Israeli left as well as right. As a member of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipal council, Shehadeh tried to persuade Yaël Dayan, the leftwing head of the coalition in charge of the council, to divide Tel Aviv-Jaffa into quarters, like any other big city. Maybe it is better for the Arabs of Jaffa if we keep on running things for them, he was told.

“The only thing the world knows about Jaffa is oranges,” says Shehadeh. “I am not an orange. [Benjamin] Netanyahu, when he was finance minister, called people like me a demographic timebomb. How can I explain to my children that they are a bomb?”

The discrimination suffered by his community is extensively documented. Half live below the poverty line, 48% can not build a house for the next 15 years because there no permits or plans. Only 19% of Arab women with Israeli citizenship are in a job, compared with 65% of Jewish women.

But the terrain of their changing identity and allegiance is not so well mapped. Israel demands expressions of loyality from them. Loyality to what, they ask. A democracy or a supremacist state?

An independent homeland or bantustan in disguise?

by Haidar Eid, The Electronic Intifada

The induced euphoria that characterizes discussions within the mainstream media around the upcoming declaration of an independent Palestinian state in September, ignores the stark realities on the ground and the warnings of critical commentators. Depicting such a declaration as a “breakthrough,” and a “challenge” to the defunct “peace process” and the right-wing government of Israel, serves to obscure Israel’s continued denial of Palestinian rights while reinforcing the international community’s implicit endorsement of an apartheid state in the Middle East.

The drive for recognition is led by Salam Fayyad, the appointed prime minister of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority. It is based on the decision made during the 1970s by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to adopt the more flexible program of a “two-state solution.” This program maintains that the Palestinian question, the essence of the Arab-Israeli conflict, can be resolved with the establishment of an “independent state” in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital. In this program Palestinian refugees would return to the state of “Palestine” but not to their homes in Israel, which defines itself as “the state of Jews.” Yet “independence” does not deal with this issue, neither does it heed calls made by the 1.2 million Palestinian citizens of Israel to transform the struggle into an anti-apartheid movement since they are treated as third-class citizens.

All this is supposed to be implemented after the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the West Bank and Gaza. Or will it merely be a redeployment of forces as witnessed during the Oslo period? Yet proponents of this strategy claim that independence guarantees that Israel will deal with the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank as one people, and that the Palestinian question can be resolved according to international law, thus satisfying the minimum political and national rights of the Palestinian people. Forget about the fact that Israel has as many as 573 permanent barriers and checkpoints around the occupied West Bank, as well as an additional 69 “flying” checkpoints (“Promoting employment and entrepreneurship …,” Food and Agricultural Organization, 2010). And you might also want to ignore the fact that the existing Jewish-only colonies and roads and other Israeli infrastructure effectively annex more than 54 percent of the West Bank.

At the 1991 Madrid Conference, then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s hawkish government did not even accept the Palestinian “right” to administrative autonomy. However, with the coming of the “dovish” Meretz/Labor government, led by Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, the PLO leadership conducted behind-the-curtains negotiations in Norway. By signing the Oslo accords, Israel was released of the heavy burden of administering Gaza and the seven crowded cities of the West Bank. The first intifada was ended by an official — and secret — PLO decision without achieving its interim national goals, namely “freedom and independence,” and without the consent of the people the organization purported to represent.

This same idea of “independence” was once rejected by the PLO, because it did not address the “minimum legitimate rights” of Palestinians and because it is the antithesis of the Palestinian struggle for liberation. What is proposed in place of these rights is a state in name only. In other words, the Palestinians must accept full autonomy on a fraction of their land, and never think of sovereignty or control of borders, water reserves and most importantly, the return of the refugees. That was the Oslo agreement and it is also the intended “Declaration of Independence.” No wonder, then, that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes it clear that he might agree to a Palestinian state through negotiations.

Nor does this declaration promise to be in accordance with the 1947 UN partition plan, which granted the Palestinians only 47 percent of historic Palestine even though they comprised more than two-thirds of the population. Once declared, the future “independent” Palestinian state will occupy less than 20 percent of historic Palestine. By creating a Bantustan and calling it a “viable state,” Israel will get rid of the burden of 3.5 million Palestinians. The PA will rule over the maximum number of Palestinians on the minimum number of fragments of land — fragments that we can call “The State of Palestine.” This “state” will be recognized by tens of countries — South Africa’s infamous bantusan tribal chiefs must be very envious!

One can only assume that the much-talked about and celebrated “independence” will simply reinforce the same role that the PA played under Oslo. Namely providing policing and security measures designed to disarm the Palestinian resistance groups. These were the first demands made of the Palestinians at Oslo in 1993, Camp David in 2000, Annapolis in 2007 and Washington last year. Meanwhile, within this framework of negotiations and demands, no commitments or obligations are imposed on Israel.

Just as the Oslo accords signified the end of popular, nonviolent resistance of the first intifada, this declaration of independence has a similar goal, namely ending the growing international support for the Palestinian cause since Israel’s 2008-09 winter onslaught on Gaza and its attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla last May. Yet it falls short of providing Palestinians with the minimal protection and security from any future Israeli attacks and atrocities. The invasion and siege of Gaza was a product of Oslo. Before the Oslo accords were signed, Israel never used its full arsenal of F-16s, phosphorous bombs, and DIME weapons to attack refugee camps in the Gaza and the West Bank. More than 1,200 Palestinians were killed from 1987-1993 during the first intifada. Israel eclipsed that number during its three-week invasion in 2009; it managed to brutally kill more than 1,400 in Gaza alone. This does not include the victims of Israel’s siege in place since 2006 which has been marked by closures and repeated Israeli attacks before the invasion of Gaza and since.

Ultimately, what this intended “declaration of independence” offers the Palestinian people is a mirage, an “independent homeland” that is a bantustan in disguise. Although it is recognized by so many friendly countries, it stops short of providing Palestinians freedom and liberation. Critical debate — as opposed to one that is biased, demagogic — requires scrutiny of the distortions of history through ideological misrepresentations. What needs to be addressed is an historical human vision of the Palestinian and Jewish questions, a vision that never denies the rights of a people, which guarantees complete equality and abolishes apartheid — instead of recognizing a new Bantustan 17 years after the fall of apartheid in South Africa.

Haidar Eid is Associate Professor of Postcolonial and Postmodern Literature at Gaza’s al-Aqsa University and a policy advisor with Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network, where this essay was first pubilshed.

Palestine: Israeli racism, apartheid, land theft increasing by the day & other Israeli crimes

Israeli TV shows Palestinian torture

Press TV

Israel’s Channel 2 TV station has released video footage showing Palestinian detainees being tortured by Israeli troops in the regime’s desert prison of Naqab (Negev) back in 2008.

The footage showed one Palestinian died and several others sustained injuries due to the torture by the Israeli soldiers, Qodsna news agency reported.

The Israeli forces have “used tear gas and stun grenades” against Palestinian detainees, the video shows.

The footage also demonstrates that medics were prevented from treating the wounded Palestinians.

In late December 2010, a human rights group called Public Committee Against Torture in Israel revealed that Palestinian detainees are systematically denied the right to meet a lawyer during interrogations.

Being shackled to chairs for long periods, sleep deprivation, intimidation, torture and abysmal detention conditions are some of the cases the human rights group documented in its report.

Israel claims that its army is “one of the most moral armies” in the world as it treats prisoners and detainees with honor.

But in recent years videos have come out, showing how Israeli soldiers abuse and humiliate blindfolded and handcuffed Palestinian prisoners.

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Israeli warplanes blast targets in Gaza

GAZA, (PIC)– Israeli warplanes raided two positions for the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, in western and eastern Gaza city at dawn Saturday, Palestinian security sources said.

The sources said that the first raid targeted a Qassam position in Zaitun suburb southeast of Gaza, adding that at least one missile was fired by the Israeli F-16 warplanes.

They said that the second raid targeted another position to the northwest of Gaza in the Shati refugee camp.

The sources noted that big damage was inflicted on the two evacuated positions and in nearby civilian homes.

Spokesman for the medical services Adham Abu Salmiya told the PIC that no casualties were suffered as a result of the air strikes.

This is the first time Israeli warplanes raid targets in Gaza after the undeclared calm with resistance factions almost a week ago, which followed three days of Israeli military escalation that claimed the lives of 19 Palestinians and the injury of around 70 others.

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Women demonstrators call for release of a child kidnapped by the IOF

NABLUS, (PIC)– A group of women demonstrated Thursday in the village of Awarta to the south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus to call for the release of a 15-year-old Palestinian girl that has been kidnapped by the IOF.

Local sources said that the women marched across the village towards the Itamar settlement which is built on lands confiscated from the villagers.

Dozens of women participated in the demonstration calling for an end to the repressive acts taken by the IOF against the village at the backdrop of the murder of a settler family last month.

The demonstrators called for an end to the detention of women and for the release of 15-year-old Julia Awwad who is still in detention.

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Attacks continue on Palestinians, foreign activists in Friday marches

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– Dozens of Palestinian citizens and foreign activists in the villages of Bil’in, Ni’lin, Masara, Nabi Saleh, and Silwan district were either wounded or suffered tear gas suffocation when Israeli troops attacked them during their weekly marches.

Dozens of Palestinians and foreign activists suffered suffocation from tear gas and three were wounded when Israeli troops suppressed the anti-wall marches organized on Friday in Bil’in and Ni’lin, west of Ramallah city.

The protesters carried Palestinian flags and photos of the slain Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni.

Clashes also broke out after Friday prayers in Silwan district, south of the Aqsa Mosque, between Israeli troops and Palestinian young men who went on a march in solidarity with the Gaza Strip and Palestinian prisoners.

After finishing their prayers in Al-Bustan neighborhood, the Jerusalemite young men carrying Palestinian flags chanted slogans condemning the Israeli military aggression against Gaza and calling for releasing Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.

Eyewitnesses said that Israeli troops and undercover units in Arabian clothing brutally attacked the young men who responded by throwing stones at them. A number of youths were wounded and suffered breathing difficulty from tear gas during the suppression.

In Nabi Saleh village north of Ramallah, the anti-wall protestors chanted slogans denouncing the killing of Italian activist Arrigoni and accusing Israel of murdering him.

After the arrival of the peaceful march at the village’s entrance, the protestors were surprisingly attacked by a large number of Israeli troops. A number of participating journalists were physically attacked by the troops.

South of Bethlehem city in Masara village, the Israeli occupation forces detained foreign activists in the weekly anti-wall march which was dedicated this Friday to commemorating the Palestinian prisoner day and condemning the murder of Arrigoni.

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Jerusalem aid committee announced in Washington

WASHINGTON, (PIC)– The establishment of an international campaign designed to curb the Israeli Judaization of Jerusalem was announced in United States capital Washington, DC on Friday. The campaign will include a group of international figures as well as political and media events from across the world.

The campaign said it would take Jerusalem as its main contact center, and that the center would be linked to Ramallah, Nazareth, and Gaza to provide information.

The Jerusalem protection campaign is aimed at protecting Jerusalem families who are threatened by Israeli plans to displace major portions of the Arab population in the city and replace them with Jewish settlers.

The nature of the group’s work is concentrated in transmitting news and reports to media by using reporters stationed across the globe. It has a keen interest to be fully independent and non-alligned with any political party.

The announcement comes as Washington has passed a decision to heavily increase support for the Israeli army.

The US has allocated $205m of its national budget to enhance and develop the Israeli army’s anti missile systems, as the Iron Dome system is being deployed in Israel to intercept rocket-propelled short projectile missiles.

According to Israeli media sources, the US House of Representatives has approved the move in the largest yet grant to enhance an anti-missile defense system. Sources from the army had admitted beforehand that the Iron Dome system failed to intercept rockets launched by resistance forces in Gaza.

The US aid will also cover more Israel-US anti-missile projects.

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IOF troops detain 845 Palestinians in three months including 105 children

GAZA, (PIC)– A statistics report by the Ansar Al-Asra society said on Saturday that Israeli occupation forces (IOF) detained 845 Palestinians in the first three months of 2011.

The statement added that among those were 105 children and three members of the Palestinian legislative council.

It noted that the IOF detention spree in the first quarter of 2011 witnessed an upsurge as it started with 180 people in January, then 285 in February and 380 in March.

The society said that the arrests focused in the districts of Nablus, Al-Khalil, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Tulkarem, Salfit, Ramallah, and El-Bireh.

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Israeli forces seize control of territory in Anin near the Apartheid Wall

MEMO

On Thursday 14 April, Israeli occupation forces confiscated a large area of land from the village of Anin in the Jenin governorate of the northern West Bank; they then levelled it, and erected two control towers.

Palestinian eyewitnesses said that a large force of Israeli troops, accompanied by bulldozers and heavy machinery, stormed the village of Anin and started razing vast areas of land located along the Apartheid Wall, which is built on territory belonging to the village.

The occupation forces have constructed two surveillance towers, believed to be part of the system for monitoring the movement of Palestinian civilians in the vicinity of the wall.

About a month ago, the Israeli occupation authorities seized control of more than six hundred acres owned by the people of Anin and other villages in east Jenin to expand the Apartheid Wall. The immoral and illegal wall extends from the east and west of Jenin and up to the south-west of the city.

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“Israel” considers 1,000 citizenship applications from US Christians seeking permission to settle in the West Bank

MEMO

The Israeli media has revealed that 1000 Christian Americans have submitted applications for Israeli citizenship and permission to settle in the occupied West Bank. In return, they have said that they will convert to Judaism and serve in Israel’s occupation army.

According to a report in the Hebrew newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, a group made up of hundreds of US citizens presented their request to the Israeli MP Lian Shem Tov.

During her meeting with the group’s representative, Baruch Abramovich, who is active in Judaizing Christians and taking them to Occupied Palestine, the MP pledged to assist the Americans and support their application to the Israeli government.

According to Abramovich, this group has “no political ambitions, but wants to be part of Israel”. He added that, “bringing these Americans would contribute to the development of the West Bank as part and parcel of the State of Israel, and to the development of the economy and even the Israeli army.”

The newspaper reported that Shem Tov has presented the American project to the so-called Shomron Regional Council and exerted efforts to push the idea. She has also organized a meeting between the Council and the group’s representatives to discuss the request in detail.

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Israeli media claims that a lack of democracy and citizenship from curriculum favours “Zionism and Judaism”

MEMO

Hebew language press reports claim that the Israeli Ministry of Education’s plan for the new academic year focuses on “the promotion of Zionist and Jewish values and concepts” amongst all students in Israel alongside an absence of “citizenship and democracy” themes.

According to Haaretz, the plan which was delivered to all schools and educational institutions within the territories occupied in 1948 included dozens of programmes that will serve the 11 pre-selected targets set by the Ministry of Education. The most important of these is to “deepen the education of values” through teaching “the culture and heritage of Israel” and to encourage enrolment in the Israeli occupation army.

The newspaper added: “The dozens of programmes detailed in the plan do not mention a word related to issues such as citizenship, democracy or “the shared life and coexistence between Jews and Arabs”.

A number of Israeli academics and scholars have condemned the Ministry of Education for the deliberate absence of threads that relate to citizenship and democracy in its new plan, warning of the consequences of Tel Aviv’s drift towards “ultra-nationalism”.

Lydd residents protest home demolitions

Report, The Electronic Intifada

The Electronic Intifada attended a demonstration against home demolitions in Lydd on Tuesday night, 12 April. The demonstration was part of regular weekly protests against the increasing ghettoization of the heavily-segregated Palestinian areas of the city, which is located southeast of Tel Aviv. The weekly protest have been held since the December 2010 demolition of seven homes belonging to the Abu Eid family.

Home demolitions in Lydd are just another form of discrimination faced by Palestinian citizens of Israel, mirroring the tactics faced by Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Among the protesters were residents of Lydd and the “unrecognized” village of Dhammash, which is between Lydd and the neighboring town of Ramle, and where home demolition orders still stand against more than a dozen homes. They marched together with community leaders from Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem and Israeli solidarity activists and protesters stood at a busy intersection holding a banner reading “Refugee camp Abu Eid” in Arabic, Hebrew and English. Children from the community chanted slogans against Israeli policies and banged on drums and other percussion instruments.

Riyadh Abu Eid, whose home was one of the seven demolished, spoke to the crowd of protesters following the demonstration. He urged them to keep demonstrating and to increase public pressure on the local government, which ordered the demolitions.

“There were a lot of cars that passed by our demonstration tonight,” Abu Eid said. “And after next week’s demonstration, we plan to hold a sit-in at the mayor’s offices to demand our rights.”

Suhad Bishara, senior attorney with Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, told The Electronic Intifada that the Israeli government has imposed demolition orders under the guise of “illegal construction” in Palestinian neighborhoods. She said that what’s happening in Lydd and Dhammash is similar to building restrictions imposed on Palestinian neighborhoods across Israel and in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

“The process of obtaining building permits is very difficult,” Bishara said. “People are trapped, because they need to build homes, but the authorities won’t give them permits. All claims related to the history of these families who have been in the area, their circumstances as the families expand, it almost doesn’t play a role [in the legal procedures]. It’s a formula initiated by the [Israeli] authorities.”

Bishara added that the land on which the Abu Eid family was living was zoned by the city municipality as “non-residential,” even though it is surrounded by homes in a residential neighborhood. She said that although the families in Lydd and Dhammash are in the process of submitting paperwork to have the area re-zoned, it could take years “even in the best-case scenario.”

“If the authorities want to, they can make it very difficult for Palestinian families,” Bishara said. “But the families are engaged in planning procedures. They’re doing a lot of public activism and media work, which could help.”

She added, “It’s an ongoing threat … You see what’s going on in the Naqab [Negev], and Israel’s plans to evict tens of ‘unrecognized’ villages from their land. You see the policies of segregation in the cities, where there are huge areas where Arabs are not allowed to live. [What’s happening in Lydd] is a small part of the whole policy, but we have to take a look at the whole picture.”