Thursday, August 27, 2009

Israeli Apartheid Wall still being constructed

Palestinians in Ni'lin have organized weekly non-violent protests to stop the building of the Israeli wall on the villagers' lands. Last week the Israelis began to replace the fence with a cement wall 24 feet high.

In April, an American citizen from Oakland, California, Tristan Anderson, was cricitally injured, shot in the head with a tear gas canister, as he protested the building of the wall on the village's lands. His injuries were severe - he has lost one eye and has had three brain surgeries, including the removal of part of his frontal lobe. It is expected that he will need to remain in Israel for 6-18 months before he is able to return home. Read about the incident:

Read more:

Israeli forces begin construction of new cement wall on Ni’lin’s land

Posted on: August 20, 2009

For Immediate Release:
Friday, 21 August 2009 at 12:30pm: A demonstration will be held against the new cement construction of the Wall in the West Bank village of Ni’lin.

Israeli forces have begun placing 8 meter high cement blocks, in place of a fence that was built before.

Since May 2008, residents of Ni’lin have been organizing and participating in unarmed demonstrations against construction of the Apartheid Wall. Despite being deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004, the Occupation continues to build the Wall, further annexing Palestinian land.

Ni’lin will lose approximately 2,500 dunums of agricultural land when construction … Continue reading

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Hate-filled Morning in Silwan, West Bank

This is a chilling report, from a film crew working in East Jerusalem. East Jerusalem is on the Palestinian side of the 1948 Green Line, assumed by many to be the de facto boundary between East and West Jerusalem. It is part of the West Bank. When I visited last June, Jewish Israelis were buying up land and houses and building large condo developments in these Arab neighborhoods. Here are the words of some of these people, explaining what they are doing.

This story came to me from Sam Bahour’s ePalestine newsletter, but was originally in Hebrew on the Middle East News Service. See more information on the sources below.

[Middle East News Service comments: Sometimes it is the role of a news service to report the news of the future. The name Silwan is not all that well known outside the circle of those who have an intensive interest in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But it is a name to remember. As the Ir Amim [city of nations] people explained it to me last year in Jerusalem this is where there is an intensive effort by settlers to move in the middle of an Arab neighbourhood. The project is tied in with a lot of archeological work exploring the “City of David” as it is known in Hebrew. Just how much hatred is there already is explored by Meron Rapoport in article he contributed to Haokets [The Sting], a left-wing website concerned primarily with issues of social inequalities and human rights. Until about a year ago Rapoport was a leading reporter for Haaretz – Sol Salbe,]

[Thanks again to Keren Rubinstein for translating this article.]

Hebrew original:

A Hate-Filled Morning

Meron Rapoport , 24th August 2009

Last Thursday was a heat wave, but along the paved stone path that ascends through the centre of Silwan – The City of David, it was more pleasant. Perhaps it was the cool breeze, or the cool stone houses mollifying the air, or maybe it was broad vista of Jerusalem’s mountains. There were three of us – Ilan the director, Michael the cameraman, and me, the interviewee. We were making a film that explores the overt institutional discrimination against this East Jerusalem neighbourhood’s Palestinian residents. It is accompanied by a discrimination in favour of the Jewish settlers who for their part do not hide their desire to “Judaise” the neighbourhood and erase its Palestinian nature.

Even before we manage to position our camera, a group of religious girls comes up the path (we could tell they were religious by their skirts). They were around eight to ten years old, smug and beautiful chatterboxes. One of them slowed down beside us. “Film me”, she said amiably. “What would you like to tell us”, we asked. “I want to say that Jerusalem is a city that belongs to us, the Jews”, she said while walking – “it’s just a shame there are Arabs here. The Messiah will only come when there’s not even a single Arab left here”. She walked on. The girls giggled and sauntered along with her.

Two minutes later, a robust young man arrives carrying a weapon and walkie-talkie, bearing no identification on his clothes. Even before he opened his mouth I surmised that he was a security guard, employed by the private security company, operated by the settlers but financed by the Housing Ministry to the tune of 40 million shekels, annually. This security company has long ago become a private police force that polices the whole neighbourhood and terrorises the Palestinian residents without any legal basis. A committee set up by the Housing Minister determined that this arrangement must be stopped, and that the safety of the inhabitants (both Jewish and Arab) must be in the hands of Israel’s Police force, as applies to the rest of Israel’s citizens. The government adopted the committee’s recommendation in June 2006, but changed its mind six months later. The settlers had been lobbying The private police continue to operate here.

“What are you doing here”, the young man asked. “What are you doing here”, I asked him. “I’m a security guard”, he answered, “tell me what you’re doing here”. “We’re standing here in the street”, I told him. “Tell me what you’re doing here”, he became irate. “It’s none of your business”, I told him. “What’s your name”, he asked me. “And what’s your name”, I ask him. “Doesn’t matter”, he answered, “I’m a security guard”. “So it doesn’t matter what my name is either”, I replied. The irritated guard talks on his walkie- talkie. Were we Palestinian, we would have long ago been gone. That is the unwritten protocol. But we were Israelis, Hebrew speakers and a problem. Headquarters apparently explained to him that there was nothing he could do, that this was a public area. The guard took his position beside us, with his weapon, and didn’t leave us alone throughout our stay.

We moved our position. Two-three minutes later two young women came up the path. They are seventeen or eighteen years old. Secular, evidently not local residents. One of them stood in front of the camera. “Take my picture”, she fawned. “Do you want to be interviewed”, we asked her. “Yes”, she said. She’s from Gan Yavneh, came to visit Jerusalem, the City of David, she said. “Why the City of David in particular”, we asked. “Because this is where David was a king, this is a very important location for the Jewish people. It’s just a shame there are Arabs here. But soon all the Arabs will die, God willing, and Jerusalem will be ours alone”. She walked on.

Two minutes went by. An Orthodox family came up the path. The husband, dressed in black, asked Ilan the director: “say, do both Arabs and Jews live in this neighbourhood?” “Both Palestinians and Jews”, Ilan replied, “but the majority is Palestinian”. “That’s temporary”, the Orthodox man allayed his concerns; soon there will be no Arabs left here.

I look at Ilan and Michael. Barely a quarter of an hour had passed since we arrived; we had not interrogated anyone about their attitude to Arabs, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or about the future of Jerusalem. We just stood in the middle of the street. Like pylons. The hatred poured on in our direction, like a river to the ocean. Freely, naturally. “Say”, I asked Ilan. “Will we encounter anyone who’ll tell us something positive, something humane, something good about humankind?” “Forget about humane”, Ilan replied. “Give us someone who’ll say: “what nice air we have here, in Jerusalem’”.

Silwan. Remember the name. Soon it will help you forget Hebron.


[The independent Middle East News Service concentrates on providing alternative information chiefly from Israeli sources. It is sponsored by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the AJDS. These are expressed in its own statements
Please note that while our own comments are not copyrighted we do appreciate acknowledgement. Items forwarded may be copyrighted and are forwarded to alert you of their existence.]

Saturday, August 15, 2009

News from Gaza

If you like your news quick and simple, see this 8-minute sound bite on why there is so much suffring in Gaza - see this week's video from the Free Gaza Movement, explaining their campaign to end Israel's blockade of Gaza, so that food, medicine, building materials and other humanitarian aid can get into Gaza so that it can be rebuilt from the rubble of the war there in January:

You'll even find ideas about what you can do to change the situation in Gaza on their web site:

Israelis arrest non-violent protest leaders in Bil'in - August 3, 2009

As Americans, many of us have seen Palestinians protesting only as suicide bombers and in rocket attacks. We rarely see the ongoing non-violent protests against the occupation.

Bil’in village in the West Bank is one of the places where Palestinian villagers have organized weekly peaceful protests against the separation barrier Israel has erected on their lands. The wall in Bil’in, as in many places, separates the Palestinian village from its farmlands. Those of you who have seen my slides have seen a similar situation in Jayyous, where the wall is actually a road with barbed wire, separating the village on the hill above from its olive orchards and farmlands below. Much of Jayyous’s farmland was taken to build the Israeli settlement of Zufin. [The picture here shows the Israeli “wall”/road separating Jayyous from its farmlands. The smaller road crossing the security barrier is where the villagers must wait for Israeli soldiers to let them cross at a checkpoint every time they go to work.You can see pictures of Bil’in on their web site:]

Here is the latest news from Bil’in:

“At 3AM on Monday, August 3, the Israeli army raided Bil’in and arrested Mohammad Khatib, along with six other Palestinian community activists and one American human rights observer from the village. This move is an attempt by Israeli authorities to silence a popular resistance movement gaining international attention and inspiring other Palestinian communities. This West Bank agricultural village, known for its weekly protests against the Israeli apartheid wall, has become a symbol for the Palestinian popular resistance to Israel’s ongoing military occupation.

While many are quick to condemn Palestinians when they resort to armed resistance, Israel has been left free to harass, imprison and sometimes kill Palestinians who nonviolently resist the confiscation and destruction of their land in Bil’in and elsewhere.

In June 2009, Mohammed Khatib traveled to Canada for preliminary hearings on an historic lawsuit launched by Bil’in village against two Quebec-based companies, Green Park International and Green Mount International. Both companies are building illegal Israeli-only settlements on Bil’in’s land.

Mohammad’s arrest is just one in a series of many carried out by the Israeli military in Bil’in since June 2009, coinciding with the beginning of these legal proceedings. Video of the ongoing struggle in Bil’in, including interviews with Mohammad Khatib and Israeli human rights lawyer Michael Sfard, can be seen at

To date, 25 people (most under 18) have been arrested, and 18 of them remain in detention. Having experienced Israel's interrogation/ intimidation/torture tactics, two of the arrested minors 'confessed' that the Bil'in Popular Committee urges the demonstrators to throw stones. Then based on these forced 'confessions', Israeli forces arrested Mohammad Khatib and other leaders in Bil’in. They have been charged with ‘incitement to damage the security of the area.’

An August 13, 2009 statement issued by the Bil’in popular committee declared that Mohammad Khatib, Adeeb Abu Rahmeh and other leaders of the Palestinian popular struggle, “are being targeted because they mobilize Palestinians to resist non-violently. "Israel is stealing our land from us and then prosecuting us as criminals because we struggle non-violently for justice," said the statement.” Read more…..

In the days since Mohammad’s arrest, protestors, including international supporters, have rallied almost daily to publicize this injustice. Read more about the non-violent protest movement against the wall in Bil’in on their website:

Friday, August 7, 2009

Support for the people of Gaza

Sometimes the despair is overwhelming when we read about and watch what is happening to Palestinian civilians, caught in the violence, treated like terrorists. There are many ways Palestinians and their allies are maintaining their sense of power and control over their lives, which are often lived at the whim of an Israeli soldier. Watch an inspiring video chronicling some of the actions people are taking to change the situation in Gaza:

"I want to feel that my children are not dying in front of me"

Months after the fighting has ceased, thousands of Gazans have not been able to rebuild their homes, which were destroyed in the attacks by Israeli Defense Forces. Israel is still not allowing building materials into the country. See a video report by Guardian reporter Inigo Gilmore, who visited Gaza in June, six months after hostilities ended:

If you are longing to see some hope in the misery of the people of Gaza, see this story. On a happier note: on July 31, the children of Gaza got to participate in a kite festival. See a photo gallery of the festivities:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

From Jewish Peace News - more Palestinian Evictions and Reaction toMurders at Tel Aviv LGBT Center

Two interesting articles this week from Jewish Peace News (

Israel’s “Hamas”: the Sheikh Jarrah evictions

The eviction by Israeli authorities of two Palestinian families (53 residents in total, including 19 minors) from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem on August 2 has produced extensive international condemnation. The evictions were authorized by Israeli courts in a highly controversial decision (here's a timeline of the 37-year case: ), and the Netanyahu administration's effort to hastily enforce the ruling seems intended to fortify Israel's disputed claim to sole sovereignty over Jerusalem. Beyond the shameful events themselves, what is particularly outrageous, writes Jerry Haber (the pseudonym of an Orthodox Jewish Studies professor who divdes his time between Israel and the US), is how Israeli national radio has dishonestly framed the information about the evictions of the al-Ghawi and al-Hanoun families.

Haber's article is a must-read, because it details a typical case in which the Israeli government-run media presents a version of events that fits the government's deeply distorted ethno-nationalist narrative, rather than the facts. He also dissects the blatant falsehoods of the Netanyahu administration's claim that Arabs can live anywhere in Jerusalem, and therefore so should Jews.

Haber concludes: "if you are a decent human being, you cannot but shout, My God, how long will this robbery -- or to use the Biblical Hebrew word, this 'Hamas' --continue? Isn't what we stole after 1948 and 1967 enough?" Read more:

Watch a video documenting the evictions.
Mairav Zonshein and Joseph Dana have a new video on the evictions, including an interview with the father of the Hanoun family, evicted yesterday:

A Response to the Murders at the Tel Aviv GLBT Center:

The following talk was given by Tamara, a queer activist from Tel Aviv, at a demonstration held in Berlin on August 7th, in solidarity with the Lesbian Gay Bi Trans community in Israel, following the mass shooting at the Tel Aviv LGBT youth center, killing two and injuring 15. Tamara's words at the Berlin demo, attended by some 2000 people, expressly and clearly linked the gun violence let loose at the LGBT center with Israel's militarized hypermasculine gun culture and connected the institutional persecution of queers in Israel with the violent institutional persecution and oppression of other groups and minorities; Palestinians, migrant workers, dissenting protesters. "Homophobia is racism," Tamara said. "Racism is homophobia."

For a video of the Berlin demonstration and Tamara's talk, see:

Rela Mazali


Last Saturday a nightmare came true: we were hunted down.

A faceless man went into a room full of youngsters and opened fire.

Now 2 of them are dead many wounded. Some teenagers outed on a hospital bed.

When the news of the murder came, it was all too easy for me to picture the scene - I used to spend most of my waking hours in this secluded basement flat in central Tel Aviv, the offices of the Israeli GLBT association, Haaguda, working on Pride and AIDS awareness events.

We felt very safe there. Confidant. We had the of City Tel Aviv on our side, hanging rainbow flags on demand. We had the police doing our bidding instead of detaining and forbidding.

Ok, we had to swallow a few LGBT - phobic jokes from officers, bureaucrats, and commercial sponsors. But we thought it was a small price to pay for ten’s of thousands marching in the streets of Tel Aviv, safe and proud, landing courage to countless kids across the country.

The price we paid now isn’t small. It is immeasurable. The life of 2. The health of 15 , a collective trauma.

I do not feel safe now In Tel Aviv. Our strong hold. Our ghetto. I feel grief stricken and furious and betrayed. Read more….