Thursday, February 16, 2017

PROTEST: MELBOURNE SAYS NO TO NETANYAHU

Dear friends,
Israeli Prime Minister and War Criminal will be visiting Australia in the next week. There are protests being organised in a number of cities, including Melbourne and Sydney.  Here are the details for the Melbourne rally, which is happening on this coming Sunday (19 February)

in solidarity, Kim


MELBOURNE SAYS NO TO NETANYAHU!
2pm, Sunday 19 FEBRUARY
@ STATE LIBRARY OF VICTORIA 

JOIN THE FACEBOOK EVENT - PLEASE CLICK HERE.

 Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop in early September visited Israel, where she met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Bishop invited Netanyahu to officially visit Australia in early 2017 saying that she wanted to "reaffirm our absolute enduring commitment to the state of Israel and our friendship" and that she believed that "the Australian public would warmly embrace you, welcome you".

As Prime Minister, Netanyahu has been responsible for Israel's illegal blockade of Gaza, as well as Israel's ongoing occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights.

In 2014, Netanyahu ordered Israel's 50 day murderous assault on Gaza, which resulted in the death of more than 2,250 Palestinians, including almost 1,500 civilians, one third of whom were children, along with 299 women. In addition, more than 11,230 Palestinians were injured, including 3,436 children and 3.540 women. Amongst those killed were 142 Palestinian families, who made up 742 of the fatalities.

During the murderous assault Netanyahu ordered more than 6,000 airstrikes and the firing of more than 50,000 tank and artillery shells on the imprisoned population of Gaza.

In July 2014, Netanyahu also confirmed that Israel had no intention of ending its illegal occupation and oppression of more than 4.5 million Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

While Julie Bishop and the Liberals, who supported Israel's assault on Gaza and the US's bloody wars in the Middle East, continue to carry out human rights abuses against refugees and asylumseekers and Australia's Indigenous community, may welcome a fellow war criminal and human right abusers, we are calling on all people of conscience and supporters of human rights to give Benjamin Netanyahu the real welcome he deserves when he arrives in Australia.

Please join us at 2pm @ Sunday 19th February at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne to protest the visit of a war criminal to Australia , as well as the Turnbull and Liberal government's continued support for Israel's illegal occupation and war crimes against the Palestinian people.

Please invite friends, family and other supporters and share this event with your networks and on your social media.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

WITHOUT SHELTER - Photography by Mats Svensson


Dear friends,
please find below a selection of hauntingly beautiful photographs by Mats Svensson from his Without Shelter photo collection about the Palestinian village of Lifta, which was ethnically cleansed in 1948 by Zionist terror groups.
I have include below the photos, an article from Electronic Intifada published in 2005 on the ethnic cleansing of the village.

Israel's Haaretz newspaper in 2012 noted that Lifta, is the only "abandoned" (ie. ethnically cleansed" village inside the Green Line which has not been destroyed or repopulated by the Israeli state. It's former Palestinian residents are currently fighting to stop it being destroyed completely (see fulll article below). In 2012, an Israeli court delayed the building of luxury homes.

At the time, Sami Ershied argued on behalf of the former villagers:
Given that Lifta is an abandoned village and its original owners live as refugees only a few hundred meters away, no construction should be done there, certainly not construction that will destroy the village and totally divest the original residents of their rights"

in solidarity, Kim

***

WITHOUT SHELTER - Photography by Mats Svensson












On the morning of Friday, February 25, 2005 a group of approximately 300 Israelis, Palestinian refugees and international activists gathered near the highway leading out of Jerusalem towards Tel Aviv. In the valley below lay the ruins of the ancient Palestinian village of Lifta. The event was part tour, part protest, and part homecoming. It had different meanings for each of the groups involved.

The organization responsible for planning the event, Zochrot (Hebrew for “Remembering”) takes Israelis on tours of depopulated and partially destroyed Palestinian villages. They bring Palestinian refugees to tell the stories of their village and plant signs in Arabic and Hebrew that explain what happened there. This event, however, was also a protest aimed at stopping the impending demolition of what remains of Lifta.

The village is scheduled to be removed and/or “renovated.” The demolition of Lifta, sponsored by the Israel Lands Administration, is part of the Israeli government’s development plan for West Jerusalem. It calls for the construction of 243 villas (each 200 m2), a hotel, museum and Synagogue. The heart of Lifta’s old city will be renovated and turned into a trendy mall for high-priced Israeli crafts and other goods.

For the Palestinian refugees who came on Friday, however, the event was primarily an opportunity to visit their village. To be sure, they accompanied the marchers and carried signs protesting the demolition plans, and they participated in Zochrot’s program by sharing their stories and knowledge of Lifta and their life before 1948.

Most of the refugees, however, left the group and wandered the ruins of the village. Most went first to their family homes. They brought their children and relayed small anecdotes about the houses. They cleaned rubbish from the inside and the front stoop and sat silently inside the houses or outside the doors.

“We are only able to visit the village about once a year,” a refugee man told me as he held his baby and gazed out the window of his family’s home, “It is too dangerous to come alone because of the [Israeli] settlers that are usually here, so we have to wait for a group before we can come.”

Indeed, many Palestinian refugees from Lifta are not allowed to visit at all. The people who came on Friday lived in East Jerusalem, meaning they could travel to the village without passing through any Israeli checkpoints. Many of Lifta’s villagers, however, fled farther into the West Bank and beyond. Israel does not permit them to pass through the checkpoints and their village remains a cloudy reality passed down through the generations in stories and memories.

Lifta is not unique. Like 417 other Palestinian towns and villages, Lifta was forcibly depopulated and ethnically cleansed in 1948 to make way for the state of Israel.[1] In fact, in many ways, to tell the story of Lifta is to tell the story of Al Nakba, the Palestinian “Catastrophe” of 1948.

Depopulating Lifta
According to the refugees from Lifta, the village was once one of the largest and wealthiest communities in the Jerusalem region. The beauty of the old homes still standing upon the overgrown hillside pays tribute to that prosperous past. In fact, Lifta’s lands once covered 8,743 dunum (8.7 km2) and stretched from the hills west of Jerusalem right up to the gates of the old city itself. The population of the village in 1948 was approximately 2,550 (including 2,530 Muslim and 20 Christian Palestinians). Like most Palestinian villages, many of Lifta’s residents were dependent on agriculture and cultivated 3,000 dunums (3 km2) of land, including 1,500 olive trees.[2]

According to research compiled by Palestine Remembered, Lifta was originally a Canaanite village and during Biblical and Roman times it was known by the name Nephtoah. In the Byzantine period it was called Nephtho, and the Crusaders referred to Lifta as Clepsta. Before 1948, the village had been continuously inhabited for well over 2,000 years.

In the years leading up to the 1948 war, however, the village fell under attack by Jewish militias operating in the area. On the 28th of December, 1947 six people were gunned down in the village coffeehouse, by members of two Jewish militias, the Stern Gang (whose commander, Yitzhak Shamir, later became Prime Minister of Israel) and the Irgun (whose commander, Menachem Begin, also later served as Prime Minister of Israel).[3] Some of Lifta’s residents sold their property to European investors eager to acquire more land for Jewish settlement. Many more left early on. According to the descendents of the villagers, however, a significant number remained in Lifta into the first months of 1948.

The 1948 war which led to Israel’s declaration of independence in May 1948, started gradually. Jewish settlers were well organized and highly armed. The Jewish fighting forces included the Haganah (the official army of the Jewish settler community in Palestine) as well as several more radical militias (including the Stern Gang and Irgun). The militias were active in the area west of Jerusalem where Lifta was located.

Lifta was harassed by Stern Gang and Irgun militants through December 1947 and January 1948. One of the refugees who returned to the village last Friday, relayed the story he was told about the attack on Lifta:

In late January or early February, the Stern Gang and Irgun attacked and seized the neighboring village of Qaluba and then invaded Lifta from the West. They occupied Lifta’s new town and the remaining residents took refuge in the old town in the valley. The village was cut-off from the west and anyone trying to leave was killed. The villagers resisted but were defeated after 9 or 10 hours of fighting.

By the time the entire village was occupied, most of the people had already left Lifta and fled into the West Bank, the rest were taken by truck and dumped in East Jerusalem. By February 1948, Lifta had been completely depopulated.[4] The Stern Gang and Irgun occupied the houses and broke holes in the roofs to ensure that they would be uninhabitable if the residents attempted to return.
Lifta and Al Nakba

The story of Lifta was repeated in numerous villages throughout Palestine in 1948. At least 418 villages were ethnically cleansed in the same way.[5] In fact, the evacuation of Palestinian villages was a matter of policy for the Jewish fighting forces. Israeli historian Benny Morris explains that “in the months of April-May 1948, units of the Haganah [the predecessor to the Israeli Army]… were given operational orders that stated explicitly that they were to uproot the villagers, expel them and destroy the villages themselves.”[6]

Lifta, however, is unique in the fact that it was completely depopulated in February, at least two months before the war was in full-swing, and three months before Israel’s declaration of independence. In April of 1948, the Jewish forces were fighting several armies from newly independent Arab states. The Jewish settlers enjoyed substantive advantages in the war. Aside from possessing newer weapons and technology, they also outnumbered their Arab counterparts by a margin of two to one.[7] It was in this context that, the leader of the Jewish forces, David Ben-Gurion, commanded his fighters to “adopt the method of aggressive defense; with every [Arab] attack we must be prepared to respond with a decisive blow: the destruction of the [Arab] place or the expulsion of its residents along with the seizure of the place.”[8]

One of the most brutal incidents of the war occurred in April in the village of Deir Yassin, near Lifta. On April 9, the same militias which had earlier attacked Lifta (the Stern Gang and Irgun) invaded Deir Yassin. In the fighting that ensued, approximately 250 Palestinian villagers were massacred.[9] The Palestinian resistance fighters were taken in truck to East Jerusalem and shot. The massacre contributed to the flight of neighboring communities also threatened with destruction. In fact, Benny Morris has documented at least 24 massacres of Palestinian civilians during the 1948 war.[10]

By the end of the war Jewish forces controlled 77% of historic Palestine which became the state of Israel and 750,000 Palestinian civilians had been forced to flee their homes. Today, there are over 5 million Palestinian refugees, the descendants of the original 750,000. For these 5 million, and many other Palestinians, Al Nakba stands as the defining moment in their national identity.

The story of Lifta is only one among 418 stories of villages that only exist in memory. Unlike many of the depopulated villages, however, the buildings of Lifta were not demolished but still stand as a testament to the existence of the once affluent Palestinian village. If Israel’s plan proceeds even these remnants will be gone, wiped away in the favor of plush villas. In the meantime, Lifta’s refugees are waiting to return to their village, to rebuild their homes and to once again live in the 2,000 year old village they call home.

Jacob Pace lives in Beit Sahour and works with the Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem (ARIJ) in Bethlehem. His reports and photos are available online at www.rcnv.org/gaza.


REPORT: Efforts To Fight BDS Have Failed, Says ADL, Reut

Dear friends,
as you will be aware, the Israeli government and Zionist organisations have spent millions and millions of dollars attempting to counter the non-violent Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which is premised on international law and calls for justice and equality.  Leading the charge to delegitimise BDS was the Israeli based, Reut Institute.

In 2010, the Reut Institute issued a series of articles and reports identifying the Palestinian BDS campaign as an "existential threat" to Israel.  Reut called on the Israeli government to "attack" the BDS campaign/supporters and carry to out "sabotage" against the movement (see Electronic Intifada's full coverage here). In particular, Reut called for  a “price tag”  on to be placed on BDS activisim (ie. publicly outing/shaming Palestine solidarity activists) and for Israeli spy agencies to collect information on groups supportive of BDS.  


Last year, Reut partnered with the USA based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to combat BDS.  However, one year later, the two groups have issued a report stating that their and the Israeli government's efforts to fight BDS have largely failed. 

This will not come as as surprise to anyone involved the Palestinian BDS campaign. While Israel and its supporters have tried to use lawfare (legal methods) to stop BDS, they have only had minor success. Similarly, the attempt to intimidate and shame Palestine solidarity activists has also failed, as  has Israel's "hasbara" (propaganda) efforts.  

The primary reason for this being: Palestine solidarity activists have nothing to a shamed off - BDS is a non-violent campaign which draws inspiration from the South African anti-apartheid struggle and is squarely based on international law. Attempts to "shame" and "out" Palestine BDS campaigners have also largely failed because most of us are already very public about our activism. In addition, as Reut and ADL's latest report notes, Israel's hasbara efforts have largely failed because Israel is by far the best legitimiser of Israel - by continuing to engage in apartheid and occupation, carry out human rights abuses, war crimes and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians, Israel continued to undermine its own legitimacy.  

The problem for the Israeli state is the the same problem faced by all oppressors, neither time or truth is on their side.  As Malcolm X noted in regard to this: “Time is on the side of the oppressed today, it's against the oppressor. Truth is on the side of the oppressed today, it's against the oppressor".

I have included below two articles from the Forward discussing the partnership between Reut and the ADL and their latest report about the failure of their efforts to counter BDS

In solidarity, Kim

***
Josh Nathan-Kazis Forward, February 10, 2017



In a new report circulating privately in Jewish policy circles this month, two leading pro-Israel groups charge that Jewish communal efforts against the BDS movement have largely failed.
 
The report, issued by the Anti-Defamation League and the Israel-based Reut Institute, claims that Jewish groups’s investments in fighting what they call “the assault on Israel’s legitimacy” has grown twentyfold since 2010, but that “results remain elusive.”

In 2015 and 2016, a long list of Jewish groups, in addition to the Israeli government itself, announced their own programs to counter the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel. Organizations and donors pledged tens of millions of dollars to the effort. The report claims that it’s not working.

“The challenge to the fundamental legitimacy of Israel…[is] growing around the world,” the report says.

The report comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government adopts an increasingly hard-line approach on settlements.

But while the report’s authors acknowledge that the Israeli government’s own actions play a role in the worldwide growth of anti-Israel sentiment, they propose their own action plan for what they call the “pro-Israel network.”

The prescription seems to contain a contradiction. On the one hand, it calls for a big tent approach that accepts progressive critics of Israel. And the other, it demands an all-out assault on leading critics of Israel, sometimes using covert means.

“The instigators must be singled out from the other groups, and handled uncompromisingly, publicly or covertly,” the report reads.

The report is the product of an unlikely partnership between the ADL, a historic Jewish civil rights group, and the national security-focused Reut. News of the partnership was first reported by the Forward last February.

At 30 pages, the document offers a “strategic framework” for opposing the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, among other efforts that the authors characterize as attacks on Israel’s legitimacy.

The report opposes new spending on pro-Israel efforts. Instead, it advocates for the better targeting of preexisting programs; the use of “legal measures” to take on “incitement against Jews and Israel” on social media, and additional investment in “intelligence and strategy.”
ADL and Reut are only circulating print copies of the report. The Forward was given copies on the condition that they not be posted online in their entirety.

In an interview at the Forward’s offices in early February, ADL national president Jonathan Greenblatt acknowledged that the actions of the Israelis plays a role in what the report characterizes as the growth of worldwide anti-Israel sentiment.

“The government of Israel can do a lot to change this dynamic,” Greenblatt said. “So can the Palestinian leadership.”

Yet the report itself appears careful not to make specific demands of the Israeli government. Instead, it acknowledges that the lack of progress on political solutions are directly empowering the so-called “delegitimization movement.”

Its recommendations are targeted mostly at Jewish communal groups, and the broader hasbarah, or pro-Israel public relations, apparatus.

In places, the report appears to call for a broadening of the pro-Israel tent, and an end to the exclusion of progressive groups from Jewish spaces.

It calls for a narrower definition of “delegitimization” that will allow left-wing groups to be welcome in Jewish spaces. It also calls for “authentic solidarity” with other minority groups on issues of immigrant rights and racism. It cautions against narrow expectations of transactional benefits, arguing that such work can generally help the Jewish community “re-acquire credibility” among other minorities.

“We invented intersectionality,” Greenblatt told the Forward, referring to the ADL’s history of finding common cause on civil rights issues across ethnic and religious lines.
Yet at times, the report’s calls for a big tent seem strained.

The report suggests that “red lines” for inclusion in the broad pro-Israel network should be drawn at those who express criticism that is consistently one-sided, “not nuanced and without context.” That language has the potential to exclude many groups on the Jewish left that are fed up with Israel’s 50-year occupation of the West Bank.

The report also refers to targeted boycotts of West Bank settlements, a tactic supported by many progressive Jews in Israel and the U.S., as a “challenge.”

It calls for “alternatives” to targeted boycotts, but its recommendations can be difficult to parse: “The polarization around the issue of targeted boycott is an indication of the lack of ethical clarity necessary in order to stand united against delegitimization by fostering diverse coalitions.”

Finally, while the report advocates efforts to engage and win over most critics of Israel, it advocates a hardline approach to what it calls “the instigators.”

Gidi Grinstein, president of Reut, defended the call for acting “uncompromisingly,” in “covert” and public ways, against these critics.

“We have to be very, very strategic,” Grinstein said.

The report’s authors argued that this narrow group of “instigators” are “modern day anti-Semites.”

**

Josh Nathan-KazisFebruary 29, 2016

The Anti-Defamation League has announced its own new effort to oppose the boycott of Israeli goods, joining a plethora of Jewish groups that have launched similar efforts in recent months.

Calling efforts to boycott, divestment from and sanction Israel an “attack on Israel and the Jewish people,” the ADL said on February 29 that it would partner with the Reut Institute, an Israeli think tank, to produce a study of the BDS movement, as it is commonly known.

In the past, Reut has called for the use of aggressive tactics against those it views as denying Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state. In a 2010 report, the group called for putting a “price tag” on criticism of Israel and for Israeli spy agencies to collect information on groups working to delegitimize Israel.

The ADL’s initiative is the latest in a string of new multimillion dollar efforts against the BDS movement. A long list of Jewish groups, including the Jewish Federations of North America, the Jewish National Fund, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Maccabee Task Force and StandWithUs, along with the Israeli government itself, have announced their own anti-BDS programs in recent months.

“There are many excellent efforts out there aimed at combating BDS and other delegitimization,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s national director, in an emailed statement about the new effort. “We hope our work will complement and reinforce these existing initiatives.”

The ADL would not say how much its new initiative would cost. The group also could not say whether its effort would target groups and individuals promoting a boycott restricted to Israeli companies based on the Israeli-occupied West Bank, whose Jewish-only settlements are considered illegal by the international community. “We’re studying it,” said a spokesman via email.

Greenblatt, who succeeded longtime ADL national director Abraham Foxman in 2015, worked in the White House as a Special Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation & Civic Participation from 2011 to 2014.

The new ADL-Reut Institute joint program will result in a study, to be published later this year, that will outline a new strategy for opposing BDS.

Reut, a not-for-profit organization, has done similar work before. Its 2010 report on “delegitimization,” the last Jewish defense buzzword before the current focus on BDS, was influential in setting policy for Israeli and Jewish groups in recent years as they’ve opposed anti-Israel activists.

In that report, Reut called for a “re-branding” of Israel and “undermining” the “catalysts” of delegitimization. It also called for using Israel’s spy agencies to make delegitimization a priority.

The group also suggested what it called a “price tag” for people who are harshly critical of Israel to make “attacking Israel” a “more risky enterprise.” The report cited press attacks on two Human Rights Watch employees who had criticized Israel during the course of their work. (In recent years the term “price tag” has come to refer to violence carried out against Palestinians by settlers; Reut was not calling for violence.)

In a statement provided by the ADL, Reut president Gidi Grinstein called BDS a “new form of anti-Semitism.”

“We will work to offer a visionary and strategic approach – and to effectuate it,” Grinstein said.

Greenblatt defended his group’s decision to launch its own anti-BDS effort, despite the large number of groups already running their own programs. “I think the ADL has unique capabilities,” Greenblatt said. “We’ve been working with authorities, law enforcement, public officials and others, literally for generations since we were founded in 1913, which makes us very different.”

Asked whether he was suggesting that BDS was a law enforcement matter, Greenblatt said no. He said that ADL “literally for generations” had done research and analysis to aid public officials.

“We have a center for extremism that has been looking at these kinds of issues for a very long period of time,” Greenblatt said.

Monday, January 30, 2017

PHOTOS: NO PRIDE IN GENOCIDE - INVASION DAY 2017 IN MELBOURNE

Dear friends,
As you will be aware from my posts in previous years, January 26 officially marks the day of the start of the European colonisation of Australia. In Australia it is a national holiday sanctioned by the Australian government. For the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community of Australia, however, it is marked as Invasion Day and/or Survival Day.

As I have explained in my previous posts, one of the reasons I became active in the Palestine solidarity campaign was because I saw the similarities between the Indigenous struggle in Australia and the struggle of the Palestinian people. Coming from a family of mixed heritage (my mother is Aboriginal and my father comes from a mixed European background), my first engagement with political activism was around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights, the struggle for land rights and Indigenous self-determination and justice in this country. 


Among other things, one of the reasons, I became active in the Palestine solidarity campaign was because I saw the similarities between the Indigenous struggle of the Palestinian people and the struggle of Indigenous Australians.  Coming from a family of mixed heritage (my mother is Aboriginal and my father comes from a mixed European background), my first engagement with political activism was around Aboriginal and Indigenous rights and the struggle for land rights and justice in this country.

This year, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities around the country once again marked Invasion Day by holding  Invasion Day protests and Survival Day events, with the main slogan at many being: NO PRIDE IN GENOCIDE. 

There was a huge turn out at the protests around the country, the biggest we have seen in many years: In Melbourne between 10,000 – 15,000 people joined the protests (the organisers have said up to 20,000).  In Sydney, more than 8000 joined the protests and up to 3000 turned out in Brisbane in Queensland. Sizeable turn outs happened in Adelaide and other cities and town around the country.

Here is a video from the Melbourne Invasion Day protests. I have also include photos from the Melbourne rally.

Progressive not-for-profit organisations, Left media and activists are welcome to reuse the photos but please credit me as the photographer to this blog or my other blog.

You can also check out my previous post's about Invasion Day below:

2016:
January 26: No Pride in Genocide

2016: PHOTO ESSAY: Melbourne 2016 Invasion Day Protest & March

2015: January 26: White Australia has a Black History

2015: REPORTS & PHOTOS: INVASION DAY 2015 (Melbourne)

2014 Invasion Day: Nothing to Celebrate

2012: Always was, Always will be Aboriginal Land: commemorating Invasion Day in Australia

In solidarity, Kim















 







 

 


 








Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Racism in Israeli academia: David Sheen's tweets from the Professors for a Strong Israel conference

Dear friends,
independent Israeli-Canadian journalist and film maker David Sheen, who reports regularly on racism and religious extremism in Israeli society, recently attended the "Professors for a Strong Israel" conference held at Bar Ilan University on 24th January 2017. Sheen tweeted the conference, posting a series of tweets reporting on the conference speakers, their presentations and comments.  As he notes in his tweets, all of the speakers at the conference are from the "hard-right".

"Professors for a Strong Israel" was established in 1988 but expanded their activities in 1993 at the time of the Oslo Accords.  While it was founded as  a "non-partisan organisation of academics united in a common concern for the security and the Jewish character of the State of Israel" and it aims "to counter the activities of some leftwing members of the academic community in support of anti-Zionist and post-Zionist political parties".

According to David Newman, a professor of political geography in the department of politics and government at Ben Gurion University, it is an "extreme right group" and "its members are involved in opposing the establishment of a Palestinian state and support settlement and the policies of successive rightwing governments".   Newman has written a number of articles on the organisation, which you can read here and here.

The conference topic  was "The end of the 'occupation' " (indicating that the conference organisers and participants don't believe Israel is engaged in an illegal military occupation of Palestinian territory in violation of international law).

Sheen's tweets are enlightening because often such conferences enjoy little english language reporting. The tweets reporting on the conference presentations and speeches illustrate the racism of the hard right with Israeli academia and the racist nature of the Israeli state.  Sheen's tweets from the conference amply illustrate why we should be supporting the Palestinian BDS campaign and the academic boycott of Israel.

I have screen shot his tweets and reposted them here as I think they are well worth reading in their entirety.   I have screen shot the tweets into group batches, retaining their tweeting order and all tweets, because it makes them easier to read.

You can follow Sheen on twitter: @davidsheen

His website can be accessed by clicking here.

In solidarity, Kim

***





















Saturday, January 21, 2017

Apartheid Israel: The ethnic cleansing of Umm al-Hiran

Dear friends,
please find two article below from Haaretz on Israel's ethnic cleansing of Bedouin from Umm Al-Hiran and the killing of a Palestinian Bedouin man by the police. Both articles highlight the apartheid nature of the Israeli state.

You can read my earlier post on the shooting in Umm al-Hiran here.

in solidarity, Kim
**
Kill Them, They’re Fair Game

To most Jewish Israelis, Arabs aren't human beings equal to us. This dehumanization makes the soldiers and police trigger-happy.

Gideon Levy, Haaretz, Jan 20, 2017


Palestinians and Israeli Arabs are fair game. They’re fair game in the occupied territories and fair game in Israel. They’re fair game because their blood is cheap. It’s cheap in Umm al-Hiran and cheap at the Tul Karm checkpoint. It’s cheap at construction sites and cheap at roadblocks.

When the people killed are Arabs, nobody cares. When a soldier is killed in an accident, it’s front-page news. But when a Palestinian is killed while just waking up at home, nobody cares.

Not one of the people killed in the last few days would have been shot to death if he weren’t a Palestinian or a Bedouin. It’s doubtful if any of them deserved to die. Was this wholesale killing designed to divert attention from another story, as has happened in Israel before and is customary in dark regimes? It’s hard to tell. But it’s easy to say with certainty: They’re fair game.

They were fair game Wednesday in the Negev. Behold, Zionism 2017 – destroying a community of Bedouin refugees in order to build a Jewish community in its place. That’s the basic Zionist violence; nationalist and racist. Compare the case to the Amona outpost and you have perfect evidence of apartheid: negotiations and compensation for Jews, brutality for Arabs.

In no eviction of Jews would the police have fired that way. In Umm al-Hiran it’s allowed. It’s also allowed to wound Joint List leader Ayman Odeh because the police have been trained to think Arab Knesset members are traitors. That’s what they heard from their public security minister, Gilad Erdan.

Yakub Abu al-Kiyan, a teacher, was shot to death in his car for allegedly ramming it into policemen on purpose. Immediately the authorities spread their lies about him. They said he was linked to the Islamic State and had four wives. (MK Ahmad Tibi says Abu al-Kiyan’s only wife has a Ph.D., while his brother is an inspector in the Education Ministry).

After that, how can anyone believe the police, who hastily claimed he deliberately ran over policemen? At least one witness, Kobi Snitz, told a website he saw the opposite. First the police sprayed Abu al-Kiyan’s car with bullets, then he lost control. A video posted Wednesday also raises heavy suspicions about what happened. You get the impression the shooting preceded the ramming.

But so much over the past week preceded the events at Umm al-Hiran. In the Fara refugee camp, soldiers killed a man who had just woken up; 11 bullets from point-blank range in front of his mother; the soldiers say he tried to attack them. Mohammed al-Salahi was an only son who lived with his mother in a single room.

In the Palestinian town of Tuqu, the Border Police shot a 17-year-old, Qusai al-Amour, who had thrown stones – obvious revenge. They then dragged the dying youth on the ground like a sack of potatoes. His head was battered on the rocks as they did so, while the cameras filmed.

The next day, the cameras also documented the killing of Nadal Mahadawi, 44, at the Tul Karm checkpoint. The sight was horrific. He’s seen standing quietly while the soldiers shoot for no apparent reason. When he tries to flee, in what appears to be a dash for his life, they kill him.

But no big deal, the “terrorist” was killed. That’s how the media portrayed it. The dragging of the wounded youth at Tuqu and the execution at the checkpoint should shock anyone. Above all, they should shock all Israelis, because the perpetrators are theirs sons, their soldiers and their police. But the victims were Palestinians.

A straight line passes through Umm al-Hiran, Tuqu, Fara and Tul Karm – the line of dehumanization guiding the soldiers and police. It begins with the incitement campaigns and ends with trigger-happy troops.

The roots are deep; they must be acknowledged. To most Israelis, all Arabs are the same and they’re not human beings equal to us. They’re not like us. They don’t love their children or their lives the way we do. They were born to kill. There’s no problem killing them. They’re all enemies, suspicious objects, terrorists, murderers – their lives and deaths are cheap.

So kill them, because nothing bad will happen to you. Kill them, because it’s the only way to treat them.

***

Women from Umm el-Hiran surround a home slated for demolition in the village. (Isaac Kates Rose)


 Israeli Coverage of the Incident at Umm al-Hiran Is Proof That Apartheid Exists

In the so-Orwellian Israeli animal farm, pigs live in Amona and rats live in Umm al-Hiran.
Rogel Alpher, Haaretz Jan 20, 2017


In the so-Orwellian Israeli animal farm, “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” as Orwell put it. Take, for example, the pigs from the settlement of Amona. The greedy pigs, lords of the land, who blocked the land of other animals, Palestinians who are less equal than they, who deserve less equality. When the court declared that the pigs must be removed from Amona, the media screamed out the settlers’ desperate cry. The poor victims. For months the media screamed out their cry. Just like the loyal pig from the book, Squealer, the aide and spokesman of the racist pig Napoleon.

For months the public heard about the distress of Amona’s settlers and the supreme efforts the government was making to satisfy and appease them and prevent their evacuation. In contrast, the police raided Umm al-Hiran without any prior notice. Negotiations have been underway for months over evacuation of the Bedouin from there. But Squealer didn’t squeal. The squealing media doesn’t care about the Bedouin. In Israel, Bedouin are less equal animals. They deserve less equality.

Considering the media silence over talks on the evacuation of Umm al-Hiran, the debate over whether there is or is not apartheid can be silenced in the Israeli media, which of course reflects apartheid in society. There can be no doubt that the Bedouin residents of Umm al-Hiran were discriminated against, methodically so, in the media coverage following the court order to evacuate them. The resemblance between their story and that of Amona is so great that it is almost the exact negative.

The public did not hear a word about Umm al-Hiran, which means the community does not exist. Like the residents of Amona, the intention was to move the residents of Umm al-Hiran a short distance away to an alternative site, by the name of Hura. Squealer did not say a word about this. Squealer never heard of a hole named Hura, while next to Umm al-Hiran a Jewish community by the name of Hiran is going up. A community of animals who are more equal.

Why did the flock of sheep at home, grazing in front of the television, hear endlessly about the distress of Amona yet heard not a word about the distress of Umm al-Hiran? The answer is: apartheid. There is no other answer. The only difference between the stories is that pigs live in Amona and rats live in Umm al-Hiran.

There was a time, in a different place, where the pigs had suffered terribly, much more than the rats, when they lived on Mr. Jones’ farm. But then they rebelled and established their own farm. Slowly but surely they started to look more like Mr. Jones.

The pigs are not wrong. Anything they do is right. And so, of course, they were not wrong when a large police force entered Umm al-Hiran before dawn. Only the rats who lived there were wrong. It’s all their fault. They are wrong all the time. They are worth nothing.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Two killed in Bedouin village slated to be demolished, replaced with Jewish town


Dear friends, 
no doubt you will have heard about the events in the Naqab (Negev), where Israel is attempting to raze a Palestinian Bedouin village and replace it with a Jewish only town.  The village of Um al-Hiran have been actively seeking to prevent the demolition of their homes. Israel, however, has used brutal deadly force against the villagers, opening fire on them with live ammunition. In one incident, a driver of a vehicle was hit and he lost control of his vehicle resulting in the death of two, one Israeli police officer and a Palestinian civilian. The Israeli police have since claimed that the driver deliberately used his vehicle as a weapon and is associated with ISIS (offering filmsy, if not non-existent proof).  Video footage has since emerged which shows that the police lied about what happened and instead the driver was shot and then lost control of the car as residents had asserted.   

Palestinian MK to the Israeli Knesset, Ayman Odeh was also injured in Um al-Hiran, when the Israeli police opened fire indiscriminately. He was wounded in the head with a sponge tipped bullet.


Um al-Hiran is one of 45 “unrecognised” villages in the Negev.  Despite the majority of the villages being in existence before the establishment of the Israeli state, repeated Israeli governments have refused to give them legal status. As a result, the villages are systematically excluded from government maps and the provision of local and national government infrastructure, such as electricity, water, telephone lines and educational and health facilities and services.

Prior to the establishment of the Israeli state, more than 100,000 Palestinian Bedouin, making up 95 tribes, lived in the Negev (or Naqab as it is known in Arabic). They made up approximately 99% of the region’s inhabitants. In mid-1948, however, the Bedouin, along with other Palestinian Arabs, were ethnically cleansed by Zionist forces. In the wake of the 1948 Nakba (“catastrophe” in Arabic), which marked the destruction of Palestinian society by Zionist forces, only 19 tribes remained inside the ceasefire lines, which became the 1948 boundaries for the newly created Zionist state.

Israel has systematically banned development, with Adalah, the Legal Centre for the Arab Minority in Israel noting: “the [Israeli] government refuses to allow any physical infrastructure development in these villages, thus prohibiting the building and repairing of homes and the construction of paved roads and proper sewage facilities in these communities. New construction requires a permit from the government; however, without a local council, the residents do not have an office from which to request a permit. Consequently, any new construction by the residents is declared illegal and potentially targeted for demolition.”

Between  2013 and 2015, the Israelis state demolished 1,041 Bedouin structures in the Naqab/Negev, with a further 1,711 structures being destroyed by their owners after receiving demolition orders, according to a report by the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality (NCF). In 2015 alone, nearly 1,000 structures were demolished in the Negev — 365 by Israel and 617 by the homeowners themselves.

As some Patrick Strickland has noted, "Palestinian Bedouins 'live the Nakba every day'. "


I have included below two articles on the events in Um al-Hiran, one from +972 and one from Haaretz. I will most likely post a follow up post in the next day or two.

in solidarity, Kim


***

Two killed in Bedouin village slated to be demolished, replaced with Jewish town

Police shoot MK Ayman Odeh in the head with sponge-tipped bullet. Conflicting versions emerge of ‘car ramming’ and shooting that left one officer and a village resident dead.

By Yael Marom and Keren Manor

Israeli police run toward the Bedouin village of Umm el-Hiran, January 18, 2017. (Keren Manor/Activestills.org)
Israeli police run toward the Bedouin village of Umm el-Hiran, January 18, 2017. (Keren Manor/Activestills.org)
Two people were killed and several others wounded when large numbers of police officers entered the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, in southern Israel, to demolish the village at dawn on Wednesday. Police fired tear gas, sponge-tipped bullets, and there were reports of live ammunition as well.

Police officers shot and killed a resident of Umm el-Hiran, Yaqub Musa Abu Qi’an, claiming he drove his vehicle and struck and killed at least one officer. Police also quickly claimed, without offering any evidence, that Abu Qi’an had “connections” to ISIS. The police officer who was killed was named as 34-year-old Erez Levy.

However, local residents and activists at the scene deny the police version of events, saying that Qi’an’s car veered toward the officers only after he was shot and lost control of the vehicle.

Among those wounded was Joint List chairman MK Ayman Odeh, who police shot in the head and back with sponge-tipped bullets. Odeh was brought to Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva in stable condition at the time of this report. The other casualties were both local residents and security forces.


MK Ayman Odeh lies wounded from sponge-tipped bullets next to Israeli police in the Bedouin village of Umm el-Hiran, Negev, January 18, 2017. (Keren Manor/Activestills.org)
MK Ayman Odeh lies wounded from sponge-tipped bullets next to Israeli police in the Bedouin village of Umm el-Hiran, Negev, January 18, 2017. (Keren Manor/Activestills.org)

Hundreds of fully armed police arrived at Umm el-Hiran around 5 a.m., pulling drivers out of vehicles, and attacking and threatening others, according to Israeli activist Kobi Snitz, who was in the village Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.


Police enter the Bedouin village of Umm el-Hiran, January 18, 2017. (Keren Manor/Activestills.org)
Police enter the Bedouin village of Umm el-Hiran, January 18, 2017. (Keren Manor/Activestills.org)
Shortly thereafter, shots were heard, Snitz said, adding that he saw a white pickup truck about 30 meters from police. “They started shooting at the car in bursts from all directions,” he said, adding that only after the driver appeared to have been wounded and lost control of his vehicle did it strike the police officers.

Police reportedly sealed the village off and barred any additional journalists from entering by mid-morning.


Israeli police positioned on a rooftop in Umm el-Hiran with their guns trained, January 18. 2017. (Isaac Kates Rose)
Israeli police positioned on a rooftop in Umm el-Hiran with their guns trained, January 18. 2017. (Isaac Kates Rose)
 
Snitz said that state authorities had been pressuring residents to sign an agreement to leave voluntarily up until around midnight Tuesday night, but that negotiations broke down.
MK Odeh showed up at Umm el-Hiran early Wednesday morning in order to stand alongside the villagers, who were told by Israeli authorities that the demolition would take place imminently.

By late morning, bulldozers, trucks, and demolition equipment had begun preparing to clear and demolish the village.


Women from Umm el-Hiran surround a home slated for demolition in the village. (Isaac Kates Rose)
Women from Umm el-Hiran surround a home slated for demolition in the village. (Isaac Kates Rose)
Umm al-Hiran is one of dozens of so-called “unrecognized villages” in Israel’s south, in which approximately 100,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel live without electricity, water, and other basic services the state refuses to provide.

Here is a quick summary of this history of Umm al-Hiran: Long before the establishment of the State of Israel, members of the Abu Qi’an family lived in an area called Khirbet Zubaleh.
In 1956, the Israeli military government forcibly moved the Qi’an family to the location where they live today. (Their former land was given to Kibbutz Shoval as agricultural land.)


A Bedouin woman enters a tin shack in the unrecognized village of Umm el-Hiran, the Negev. November 22, 2016. Residents expected Israeli authorities to demolish the entire village a few hours earlier. (Keren Manor/Activestills.org)
A Bedouin woman enters a tin shack in the unrecognized village of Umm el-Hiran, the Negev. November 22, 2016.(Keren Manor/Activestills.org)
This forced land “swap” is well documented in state archives, but despite the fact that the Qi’an family was settled in its current location by the state itself, its homes have never been connected to the electricity or water grids.

In 2015 Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled that the state can change its mind and take back the land it gave to the al-Qi’an family. In place of their current village, Umm el-Hiran, from which they are to be expelled, a new township for religious Jews will be established.


Residents of the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran waiting the Supreme Court's decision on the village's case, Jerusalem, November 20, 2013.
Residents of the Bedouin village of Umm el-Hiran wait for a High Court decision on their village’s case, Jerusalem, November 20, 2013.
For the past few years, Jewish Hiran’s future residents have been waiting for their new homes at an encampment in the adjacent forest of Yatir.

“The government has no problem with Jewish citizens living on this property – so why should they have a problem with us?” Raed Abu al-Qi’an, a resident and activist from the village, told +972 in 2015. “They allow rural communities to be built for Jews across the Negev – why not us?”

“We have always said, and continue to say, that we have no objections to Jewish families living here or nearby us – but not in place of us. That is racism and injustice,” he added.

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man and Eli Bitan contributed to this report. A version of this article also appears in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

***




Police say Bedouin shot and killed after plowing into officers, residents claim he was shot and then lost control – watch aerial video of event.


Almog Ben Zikri Jan 18, 2017 Haaretz

A video released on Wednesday may shed new light on the events that ended in the death of an Israeli police officer and an Israeli Bedouin who police claim ran over the officer during clashes in the southern Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran.

The clashes erupted after police officers arrived to demolish illegally built structures in the Bedouin village early Wednesday morning, to make way for a Jewish town slated to be built nearby. Police said that the officer, Sgt. Maj. Erez Levi, 34, was killed when the Bedouin, Yakub Abu al-Kiyan, deliberately ran him over with his car. Locals contested the account, saying al-Kiyan lost control of his car after he was first shot by police. Another police officer was wounded in the incident.

The video, shot from a police helicopter hovering above the scene, appears to show police officers walking toward al-Kian's vehicle and shooting at him as he was driving at a slow pace. Only several seconds after the gunfire his car appears to speed up and then plows through police officers. It is unclear if the driver sped up intentionally.

Following the release of the video, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan tweeted that the police gunfire that can be seen at the beginning of the video were warning shots which were not directed at the driver. Erdan said the warning shots were fired after al-Kiyan refused to heed calls to halt, and instead he attempted to run over the police force.

A short while after the video was leaked to the media, the police released an edited version with captions explaining how the incident unfolded. The captions did not mention the gunfire and the beginning of the incident is seen as the moment the car started accelerating.

A statement by the police accompanying the video, referred to al-Kiyan as a "terrorist" and said that the video showed his car on the side of the road and only after he noticed the police officers it accelerated and hit them.