Saturday, September 24, 2016

Haaretz: Secret Documents Reveal How Israel Tried to Evade International Scrutiny of Occupation

Dear friends,
the following article published recently by Haaretz discusses how Israel's deliberate violation of the Geneva convention and its attempt to deny that they have violated them and attempted to ensure that they were applied by denying that they are carrying out an illegal military occupation of Palestinian territory in the Occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza - something which Israel continues to do today.  These documents reveal that the Israeli military and government were well aware that they were violating international law and sought to evade being held accountable for their actions and treatment of the Palestinian population in the territories they now controlled. 

As the Haaretz article notes: "
These documents are not merely an interesting historical record of how Israel initially related to the Geneva Conventions, nor are they merely an admission of its violation. They are also relevant to the ongoing debate today over the occupation’s legality."

This article should be read in conjunction with the previous blog I posted, which discusses how Israel attempted to conceal its building of illegal colonies in the Occupied West Bank in the wake of their seizure of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights in 1967.  You can access it by clicking here.

in solidarity, Kim 


Secret Documents Reveal How Israel Tried to Evade International Scrutiny of Occupation

In two cables from '67 and '68, Foreign Ministry officials admit violations of Geneva Conventions, instruct diplomats how to evade need for compliance by eschewing use of the word ‘occupation.’
Yotam Berger Sep 20, 2016 Haaretz

Israeli troops line up prisoners in the Gaza strip in readiness for questioning and identification on June 6, 1967, during the early stages of the Arab-Israel war.AP

Two classified Foreign Ministry documents, from 1967 and from 1968, disclose how the government tried to avoid application of the Geneva Conventions to the territories immediately after they were captured and how it tried to prevent international criticism of violations of the conventions.

They also show how Israel tried to avoid granting the International Committee of the Red Cross access to the territories as mandated by the conventions.

In the documents, senior civil servants admit to various violations of the conventions, including the use of violence against the Palestinian population. They also reveal how Israel sought to avoid defining itself as an occupier in the territories, while admitting explicitly that this claim was put forth for strategic reasons, to avoid criticism, even though there was no substantive justification for it.

One document is a cable sent in March 1968 to Israel’s then-ambassador in Washington, Yitzhak Rabin, by Michael Comay and Theodor Meron. Comay, a senior diplomat whose previous posts included ambassador to the United Nations, was political advisor to then-Foreign Minister Abba Eban when the cable was written. Meron was the Foreign Ministry’s legal advisor.

The cable, which was classified top-secret, contains instructions from Comay and Meron on what Rabin should do to prevent the United States from forcing Israel to apply the Geneva Conventions to the territories.

“Our consistent policy has been and still is to avoid discussing the situation in the administered territories with foreign parties on the basis of the Geneva Conventions. ... Explicit recognition on our part of the applicability of the Geneva Conventions would highlight serious problems under the convention with house demolitions, expulsions, settlement and more — and furthermore, when we’re obligated to leave all options open with regard to the issue of borders, we must not recognize that our status in the administered territories is solely that of an occupying power,” the cable said.

“In short, our policy toward the administered territories is to try to prevent clear violations of the Geneva Conventions without getting into the question of the conventions’ applicability,” the cable continued.

Comay and Meron acknowledged that the status of Jerusalem was particularly problematic, because the government had already taken steps that would likely be viewed as violations of the conventions.

“The most serious problem is of course East Jerusalem, because here, if the government were to follow the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Regulations, it wouldn’t be able to make far-reaching administrative and legal changes, such as expropriating land,” they wrote. “The Americans recently said that our status in Jerusalem is solely that of an occupation. On this basis, we can’t even talk to them about the issue of Jerusalem, because although here, too, we’re trying to avoid actions that would have international repercussions, there’s no possibility of making all our actions in Jerusalem fit the restrictions that derive from the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Regulations.”

The diplomats therefore instructed Rabin “to tell the Americans that there are unique aspects to the status of the territories and to our status in the territories. Before the Six-Day War, the Gaza Strip wasn’t Egyptian territory, and the West Bank, too, was territory that had been occupied and annexed by Jordan without international recognition. Given this ambiguous, indeterminate territorial situation, the question of the convention’s applicability is complex and unclear prior to a peace agreement that includes setting secure and recognized borders.”

The cable added that there is “no point in debating publicly” with the Americans. “We recommend that you don’t get into any discussion or argument over the aforementioned issues, but merely record their response and leave the clarification to the embassy, without a circular and without the participation of UN members,” it said.

Another document, classified as secret, was sent by Comay to the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director general several months previously, on June 22, 1967, less than two weeks after the Six-Day War ended. In it, he advised that the ministry not use the word “occupation,” so as to avoid committing to allow the Red Cross free access to the West Bank’s civilian population.

“In light of the fact that the international Red Cross is trying to assert rights with regard to the civilian population, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions ... it’s necessary to be careful about the use of certain phrases noted in the convention; I’m referring primarily to the phrases ‘occupied territories’ and ‘occupying power,’” Comay wrote. “Our UN delegation and our legations must know that here, we’re avoiding discussions with representatives of the international Red Cross about the status of the territories.”

Comay recommended replacing the phrase “occupied territories” with “territories under Israeli control” or “territories under military government.”

These documents are not merely an interesting historical record of how Israel initially related to the Geneva Conventions, nor are they merely an admission of its violation. They are also relevant to the ongoing debate today over the occupation’s legality.

“In recent years, political actors have tried to insert a claim that wasn’t serious even back in the 1970s into the discussion — that the territories aren’t actually occupied and that their residents aren’t entitled to the rights guaranteed by the Geneva Conventions,” said Lior Yavne, executive director of Akevot Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research, a left-wing research institute that works to uncover and publicize archival material on the conflict. “The uniqueness of the cable is the rare frankness with which the authors explain the reasons for the government’s refusal to admit the convention’s applicability to the territories, which were that some of its policies in the territories simply contradict the convention’s rules, and also as a tactical step in preparation for a future diplomatic agreement,” Yavne said.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

How Israel concealed the building of its first illegal colonies in the Occupied West Bank

Dear friends,
the following article discusses how the Israeli state deliberately sought to conceal the establishment of its first colonies in the Occupied West Bank, two years after Israel seized the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights in 1967.  The document reveals clearly that Israel was well aware that it was breaking international law by establishing the colonies and sought to hide what they were doing by claiming that the Palestinian land seized for the colonies was for "military needs".

In solidarity, Kim


Israel Used Military Censor to Conceal First Settlements From Public, Document Reveals

The authorities sought to prevent Haaretz and another newspaper from reporting on first settlements; 'We cause entirely unnecessary damage to ourselves by publicizing things that can basically be done quietly.'

Yotam Berger, Haaretz, Sept 07, 2016

    Photo: Tents at the Alon Moreh settlement, 1969.Moshe Milner / GPO

A previously classified document from 1969 shows that Israel’s leaders used the military censor to cover up the establishment of the first West Bank settlements.

According to the document, which has been released to the state archives, the censor banned the publication of articles by Haaretz and another daily, Hatzofe, on the issue.

The document was sent on June 19, 1969, by Eliashiv Ben Horin, the Foreign Minister’s deputy director general, to the office of the foreign minister, Abba Eban. The paper, called “Gush Etzion – Publicity,” deals with the establishment of settlements in the West Bank’s Gush Etzion bloc. The area had ostensibly been seized for military purposes.

The document refers to a Mr. Hillel – Shlomo Hillel, another deputy director general at the Foreign Ministry.

“As you know, on June 5 a ‘seizure order for military needs’ was issued for specific land in Gush Etzion. That was after Mr. Hillel and the undersigned convinced those involved to waive a confiscation order” as opposed to a military seizure order, the document states.

“We also agreed with those connected to the discussion … that the only publicity we should engage in is what is required – publishing the order on the bulletin board of the Civil Administration in Bethlehem,” the document states.

“We feared that civilian groups, and in particular groups connected to the plan to build the yeshiva on the seized land, would cause unnecessary publicity, since this would contradict the objectives of the seizure as defined in the order.”

The building of settlements on areas ostensibly seized for security needs was very common in the settlement movement's early days. It was designed to bypass international law, which banned the building of civilian structures in occupied territory.

In the document, Ben Horin notes that information on the deception had reached the newspapers, so the military censor prevented publication.

“Now Mr. Hillel is saying that Hatzofe and Haaretz submitted lists to the military censor about civilian plans on the land that was seized ‘for military needs’ …. The seizure for military needs can easily be defended from a legal point of view,” Ben Horin writes. “Civilian enterprises are another thing entirely. The censor did not pass on the two lists above but apparently will be unable to prevent the publication of such reports for long.”

Ben Horin explains how the political leaders mobilized.

“Hillel and I believe that there is a need for urgent and vigorous activity among the decision-makers in order to prevent a situation in which, with our own hands, we cause entirely unnecessary damage to ourselves by publicizing things that can basically be done quietly,” he writes. “We particularly recommend working with the interior minister so that he uses all his influence in the desired direction.”

The Akevot Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research, which strives to expose archival materials, says the document proves the importance of releasing government documents.

“To this day, various types of censorship and classification are preventing public access to millions of archival documents that could shed light on the development of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” says the institute’s executive director, Lior Yavne.

“The Israel State Archives must stop the trend of increased interference by the military censor in the public’s right to peruse the documents kept there.” 

**NOTE: The original Hebrew document is available on the Haaretz website article.

Football and flags: Why Celtic fans back the Palestinian cause

Dear friends,
I am a little late in posting this. Please find below Marc Conaghan's article from the Middle East Eye explaining why Celtic fans back the Palestinian struggle.

in solidarity, Kim

Football and flags: Why Celtic fans back the Palestinian cause

Marc Patrick Conaghan
Middle East Eye: 22 August 2016

Scottish club's followers have always shown solidarity towards the dispossessed and oppressed
By a lonely prison wall, I heard a young girl calling
Michael they are taking you away
For you stole Trevelyan’s corn
So the young might see the morn.
Now a prison ship lies waiting in the bay…

By a lonely prison wall, I heard a young man calling
Nothing matters Mary when you're free,
Against the Famine and the Crown
I rebelled, they ran me down
Now you must raise our child with dignity.
This verse is from a song that Celtic football fans sing called The Fields of Athenry. Written during the 1970s, it tells the story of a family dispossessed of their land and left starving due to the Great Irish Famine of the mid 19th-century.

Due to hunger, the husband is caught stealing food from the person who took his land. He is imprisoned and transported to Australia: his wife is left to fend for herself and their child.

Celtic supporters are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause because their ancestral story is, for the most part, similar. To understand why Celtic fans are vocal about the struggle of the Palestinians, you need to understand where many Celtic fans come from.

Celtic fans backed anti-apartheid movement

The dispossession and hunger during the famine - which left more than one million dead - and the devastation on the land and psyche of the survivors forced a diaspora of Irish people all over the globe. Many settled in Glasgow, Scotland. The massive influx into the city of poor Irish people, fleeing due to dispossession of land, poverty or general necessity, was a huge burden on the residents.
But Victorian Glasgow was not tolerant of these interlopers, who they deemed to be racially, culturally and, by their Catholic faith, religiously inferior.

Celtic Football Club was formed in 1887 by Brother Walfrid, a Catholic cleric, in order to generate revenue to feed the Irish immigrants resident in Glasgow and relieve their poverty. Eventually it became a beacon of hope and source of pride to dispossessed people.

The flying of the Palestinian flag by Celtic fans in the European tie against Hapoel Beersheva last week has made headlines in newspapers and across social media. However, it is not a new phenomenon: Celtic fans fly Palestinian flags every week during games. Supporters have been showing solidarity with the people of Palestine for as long as I can remember: first it was badges, then it was kaffiyehs and now it's flags.
'By waving the Palestinian flag, Celtic fans were not choosing a side between Hamas and Fatah, or endorsing any of their political viewpoint'
Celtic fans have also shown solidarity with the oppressed people of South Africa under apartheid, the Basque people seeking independence from Spain and, of course, due to the club's cultural heritage, the oppression and persecution of nationalists in the north of Ireland. The majority of these areas of conflict have been resolved amicably: the plight of the Palestinians has become increasingly worse.
By waving the Palestinian flag, Celtic fans were not choosing a side between Hamas and Fatah, or endorsing any of their political viewpoints. It was done to show solidarity with the people of Palestine.

Similarly, when the Green Brigade - a group of Celtic supporters - recently unveiled a banner stating “Refugees welcome, a club founded by immigrants,” they were not advocating a side in the Syrian conflict, but showing their backing for the plight of refugees.

Fans will not back down and roll over

Solidarity towards the dispossessed and oppressed is easy for the Celtic fan to understand and relate to and makes us sympathetic towards others suffering the same plight.

What Celtic fans don’t seem to understand is how others don’t get it. UEFA, and much of the media, miss the fact that Celtic fans are not anti-Israel and certainly not anti-Semitic. There is no group of supporters I know of who are less sympathetic to fascists and the extreme far-right.
In fact, it’s not uncommon for Celtic supporters to be targeted by far-right thugs on European trips for our anti-fascist/anti-Nazi views. History has shown that Celtic fans and Palestinians have few friends in the media.

Celtic supporters show their support for the Palestinian cause by waving flags (AFP)
When Celtic were paired with Israeli team Hapoel Beersheva in the Champions League tie, everyone knew there would be Palestinian flags on show. Everyone knew that UEFA would sidestep the real reason the flags were there and that the club would be fined.

If Celtic beat Hapoel Beersheva on Tuesday evening and progress into the Champions League group stages, there will still be Palestinian flags on show among the Celtic fans, regardless of who our opposition is. If UEFA decide to be more punitive, as some have advocated, and close down one of Celtic’s stands in a future game, then I guarantee that there will be even more Palestinian flags at the next match.

At this point Celtic Football Club would be forced to challenge UEFA rather than just pay the punitive fine because Celtic know that although their fans love their team and the ethos that permeates through the club, we will stubbornly, like most Scots, not back down and roll over when we are in the right.

Celtic supporters have pledged to match any fine that UEFA may impose on the club for flying the Palestinian flag, with all donations raised going to Medical Aid Palestine (MAP) and to the Lajee Centre, a Palestinian creative cultural children’s centre in Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem.

Within 24 hours Celtic fans had passed their initial target of £40,000 ($52,700): at time of writing the sum stood at $125,000.

Waving of the flag? It's not a negative act

The argument that UEFA has made - that there is no place for political expression or politics in football - would be hilarious if it wasn’t so ridiculous. Right now Celtic are in Beersheva, which is 20 miles from Gaza, which the Israeli military has bombed this week. How can you divorce football from the reality of people?

Football and political expression have been interwoven since people started kicking things that roll at each other. Throughout history, often the only place where people could congregate and voice a political opinion without fear of arrest and persecution was at a public stadium.

The flying of the Palestinian flag by Celtic fans is not a negative. It is not there to be waved in the face of the opposition as an attempt to upset and annoy others. It is done to remind the people of Palestine, wherever in the world they may be, that they are not alone and that they are not forgotten.

Marc Patrick Conaghan is a self-employed political consultant who works with political parties and political candidates at various levels in the US and the UK. Most importantly, he is a season ticket holder at Celtic Park @marcconaghan

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Rio Olympics: Don't ask athletes to set aside politics 'in the spirit of the Olympics'

Dear friends,
please find below an excellent article by Ruby Hamad on recent "bus incident" between the Lebanese and Israeli teams at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. 

As Hamad notes, politics has always been part of sports - including the Olympics. Not only have state actors engaged in political activity to push their geopolitical agenda, it has also been a powerful site of struggle where the politics of resistance have play an important role.

In the article, Hamad addresses Israel's ongoing human rights abuses in both Lebanon and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, discussing not only it's brutalisation of not only the broader Palestinian population but also Palestinian athletes.  

Hamad's article is a much needed anecdote to the Israeli chutzpah and their latest attempt at crying wolf at the Olympics. 

in solidarity, Kim

Don't ask athletes to set aside politics 'in the spirit of the Olympics'

Nacif Elias carries the Lebanese flag during the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics

The Lebanese Olympic team caused a minor uproar over the weekend when they refused to let their Israeli counterparts board the same bus as them to the Rio Olympics opening ceremony.

First, one has to wonder at the (lack of) wisdom in arranging for the national teams of two countries that have no diplomatic relations and are officially at war to travel in such cosy quarters. According to the Lebanese delegation, the Israelis had a separate designated bus but insisted on trying to board the bus reserved for the Lebanese anyway.

Nonetheless, the Lebanese team has been accused of going against the spirit of the Games, while the Israelis claim to be "enraged and shocked." However, given the history of politics and sport, it should be wholly unsurprising that the Lebanese team would choose the Olympics to stage their minor protest.

The argument that politics should be kept out of the Olympics may be nice in theory but it's baseless in practice. At best it is invoked selectively, with sporting sanctions and boycotts long having been used to pursue political ends.

Most famously, South Africa was formally ejected from the International Olympic Committee in 1970, and banned from virtually all international sports until the end of apartheid in the early 1990s.

Powerful moment: Australia's Peter Norman joins American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the podium during the famous "Black Power" demonstration

In 1976, 30 African countries staged a last minute boycott of the Montreal Games after New Zealand, whose Rugby team had broken the sanction against South Africa, was permitted to compete.

Then, in 1980, the USA led 65 countries in a boycott of the Moscow Summer Olympics to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The USSR returned the favour by boycotting the LA Olympics four years later.

I see an awful lot of sports and politics mixing.

Then there is the use of the Olympics themselves as the site of protest. Although their actions are now hailed as heroic, when John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists in the black power salute at the '68 Games in Mexico, they were widely reviled. Both men were suspended from the US Olympic team and received death threats.

Would anyone today accuse them of going against the spirit of the Olympics by bringing politics into it, or do we agree that sometimes it is appropriate to mention politics in the sporting arena?

But back to Israel and Lebanon. Far from regarding sport as a sacrosanct politics-free zone, Israel itself, as the far greater power in the region, has long used sports to punish its Arab neighbours for political reasons.

Only last week, Israeli officials prevented the Palestinian Olympic Team chief from leaving the Gaza Strip to join his team in Rio. This was after the team itself was forced to repurchase new sports equipment in Brazil after Israel confiscated their supplies at customs.

For those unaware, Israel controls the borders of both Gaza and the Occupied West Bank, meaning nothing and no one is allowed to enter or leave without Israeli permission (you think all the tunnels underneath Gaza are for terrorists? Think again. Those tunnels are how much of Gaza gets its food, clothes, and machinery).

Given this grossly unfair and unbalanced state of affairs, it's rather unreasonable, if not bordering on the absurd, not to expect a little pushback. But that's not even the worst of it.
If you want to talk about mixing politics and sport, go no further than that time Israeli soldiers decided to amuse themselves by deliberately shooting Palestinian football players in the feet to prevent them being able to play soccer.

Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17 both members of Palestine's national soccer team were shot by soldiers while returning home from training on January 31 this year. Neither will ever play soccer again.

In fact, so many members of the Palestinian soccer team have been jailed, killed, or injured by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), that Israel was threatened with expulsion from FIFA.

Consider this for a moment. Palestinians have no citizenship and cannot enter or leave Palestinian territory without permission from Israel. They live under military occupation and are subject to collective punishment, sudden eviction, confiscation of their land to make way for Jewish settlements, arrest and detention without charge or trial, and the threat of violence both from settlers and the IDF who are able to act with almost total impunity.

For the lucky few, sports represent a lifeline beyond the separation fence in the West Bank and the siege of Gaza. These soccer players were among that lucky few until their future was destroyed by a deliberate act of physical and emotional violence.
Still angry about the bus incident?

Now, before you accuse me of engaging in a spot of what-aboutery, I'm not telling you all this to deflect attention from the Lebanese team's actions. I am pointing out that trying to separate politics from sport – or anything else in this region – is impossible.

The Lebanese team would almost certainly have been subject to severe repercussions back home if they had acted against their country's policy of avoiding all official contact with Israel.

The 2006 Israeli offensive on Lebanon remains a sore point; an assault that again decimated the infrastructure the country had finally rebuilt after its bitter civil war. Israel's role in this war is not forgotten, nor its invasion of Lebanon in 1982, nor the massacres that took place at the Shatila and Sabra refugee camps, nor the fact that Israel occupied the south of the country until 1999.

The expectation that this be cast aside "in the spirit of the Olympics," sails well past the island of naivety and anchors firmly in the realm of privilege.

The privilege of those of us safely ensconced in the west, who have not had to live in a climate of eternal war but, nonetheless, demand those that do to stay silent about it so that we can briefly feel good about how the Olympics "brings us together," despite this not requiring an ounce of risk or sacrifice on our part.

And the privilege of Israel, which, as the superior military power in the region, can effectively act in any manner it likes away from the sporting arena, including inflicting unjust punishment after punishment on Palestinian athletes while the world deliberately averts its eyes, but still assumes the role of the wounded victim when the world decides to cast its selective attention.

Sure, the Olympic Truce claims to promote a peaceful, diplomatic solution to the conflicts that dominate our global relations, but given countries are permitted to compete even when in the midst of catastrophic wars and oppressions, this seems at best symbolic. At worst, it's a hypocritical propaganda tool that chastises athletes staging a mini-protest but allows the participation of a country that has been conducting a 49-year illegal Occupation with no end in sight.

Add this to the violent evictions in Rio's poorest favelas, to make way for the gloss and glamour of the increasingly corporate Olympics, and we have to wonder who and what the Games are really for.

The spirit of the Olympics, indeed.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Darwish vs Lieberman: why Israel's Defense Minister wants Darwish's poems banned.

Dear friends,
Mahmoud Darwish was a voice of his people.
Darwish, who died in 2008 has long been recognised as Palestine's national poet both in Palestine and internationally. His poems expressed the Palestinian people's humanity and were a chronicle of his people's joys, as well as their rage, anger and sadness at their dispossession and oppression at the hands of the Israeli state. 

While Darwish's poems are recognised internationally as resistance art, according to Israel's Defense Minister, Avigador Lieberman, they are no different to Hitler's Mein Kampf.

Lieberman, a Russian settler who lives in an illegal Israeli colony on illegally occupied Palestinian land, admonished Israel's Army Radio for broadcasting one of Darwish's most famous poem's, Identity Card. He was joined by
former spokesperson for the the Israeli Occupation Military and now Israeli Cultural Minister, Miri Regev, in calling for Darwish's poems to be banned from Israel's airwaves.
Identity Card (see english translation of the poem below) was written by Darwish in 1964. It recounts the plight of Palestinian refugees living inside the Israeli state in the wake of the 1948 Nakba, when more than 1 million Palestinian were ethnically cleansed from their homes by Zionist forces.

During the Nakba (catastrophe in Arabic), which refers to the destruction of Palestinian society, more than 500 Palestinians towns were forcibly depopulation by Zionist terror gangs (who became the base of the official "Israel Defence Force"). More than 750,000 Palestinians fled to neighbouring states, while another 150,000 - 170,000 Palestinians became internally displaced refugees inside the newly created Israeli state.

Between 1949 and 1966, those Palestinians who had become internally displaced were forced to live under Israeli martial law.  These laws, which did not apply to Jewish citizens of the new state of Israel.  Martial law impacted on every aspect of Palestinian life, placing restrictions on Palestinian access to education and employment, as well as banning political activity of any kind. Under martial law, all Arab political organisations banned.

Martial law also meant that Palestinians were subject to regular curfews and could not leave or enter their own towns without permits.  It is this apartheid permit system and oppression of Palestinians in their own land by the Zionist state which is the essence of what Darwish's poem, Identity Card, is about.

To compare Darwish's poem about resistance to settler-colonial repression and oppression to Hitler's manifesto is outrageous to say the least. However, Darwish's poems have long been viewed as dangerous by the Israeli state, precisely because they articulate not only the Palestinian narrative but also because they are part of the Palestinian people's resistance to Israel's settler-colonial oppression. Darwish's poem are a threat because they represent Palestinian sumoud (steadfastness): that despite all the horrors visited on them, the Palestinian people continue to exist and continue to struggle for freedom, justice and self-determination.

It is no wonder that Lieberman and Regev wants Darwish's poems banned from the airwaves yet again. It is not because they bear any resemblance to Hitler's manifesto but because they represent the Palestinian narrative and Palestinian continued resistance to Israel's occupation and apartheid regime.

In solidarity,

For more information on Mahmoud Darwish's life and poetry, see my tribute to him:

You can also check out other articles on Darwish from a range of mainstream media sites
here and here and here.

For more information on the apartheid nature of the Israeli state, you can read my earlier blog:


Lieberman compares Mahmoud Darwish poem to 'Mein Kampf'

July 21, 2016 Maan News

An undated photo of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has compared the broadcast of poetry by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish on Israeli radio to glorifying Adolf Hitler’s "Mein Kampf," the Ministry of Defense said on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Israeli army radio broadcast works by the iconic Palestinian writer as part of its "University on Air" program, including Darwish’s famous poem “Identity Card,” which drew the ire of Lieberman and other Israeli officials.

In a meeting with Army Radio chief Yaron Dekel, Lieberman said that broadcasting the poem contravened the station’s mission to “strengthen solidarity in society, not to deepen rifts, and certainly not to offend public sensibilities.”

Lieberman added that Darwish’s poems could not “be part of the Israeli narrative program” aired on the station, adding: “By that same logic, we can also add to the Israeli narrative Mufti al-Husseini, or broadcast a glorification of the literary merits of ‘Mein Kampf,’” referring to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in the 1920s and 1930s -- whom Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu controversially blamed in October for the Holocaust.

“Identity Card,” written in 1964, details the indignities of life subjected to the bureaucracy of the Israeli occupation, and includes the lines “I do not hate people/Nor do I encroach/But if I become hungry/The usurper's flesh will be my food,” presumably the part targeted by Lieberman.

According to the Ministry of Defense statement, Lieberman said that there was “a big difference between freedom of expression and freedom of incitement.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit called Lieberman “to remind him he has no authority to intervene in Army Radio’s programming.”

On Wednesday, Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev called the broadcast of Darwish’s poems “dangerous,” adding that Army Radio “cannot allow itself to glorify the anti-Israel historical tale, as Mahmoud Darwish is not an Israeli, his poems are not Israeli, and they go against the main values of Israeli society.”

Darwish, who died in 2008, is also known as Palestine's national poet, and stands as one of the most prominent figures of modern Palestinian literature. He has long been criticized by Israeli political figures for his stance against the occupation.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

When Israeli Soldiers Kill Palestinians, Even a Smoking Gun Doesn't Lead to Indictments

Dear friends,
Please find below an article on the murder of Mustafa and Rushdi Tamimi, who were murdered by the Israeli military in the village of Nabi Saleh in the Occupied West Bank.

Rushdi Tamimi was the brother of my good friend Nariman Tamimi and Mustafa is also a relative. 

I have written many times about the deaths of both men and about Nabi Saleh, as I have many dear friends in the village.  As I have mentioned before, while I have attended many demonstrations in the Occupied West Bank, nearly all of which were brutally repressed by the Israeli military, by far the worst repression I had seen and experienced was in Nabi Saleh. 

The Israeli military would enter the village often at dawn and stay until dusk, harassing the village, firing massive quantities of teargas, which blanketed the whole village so you couldn't breath. Teargas was and continues to be regularly fired into homes, so there is no where in the village to escape it. The Israel's occupation forces regularly used live ammunition, firing it directly at children and adults.

What this current article demonstrates, yet again, is that the Israeli soldiers can act with impunity and get away with murder, even if there is demonstrable evidence and documentation showing what they did.  As this article demonstrates, Israeli soldiers regularly lie about what they have done and the Israeli military system is set up to allow them to act with impunity.  Very few charges against Israeli soldiers are investigated and those which are very rarely find any wrong doing.

Please find links below to earlier articles, including one by Israeli activist, Jonathan Pollack who witnessed the murder of Mustafa, as well as one by Haggai Matar, who examines the photos capturing Mustafa's death.

You can read some of other posts on Nabi Saleh here:

The people of Nabi Saleh, despite these tragedies continue to fight for justice and for freedom. It is our job to stand in solidarity with them.

In solidarity, Kim

When Israeli Soldiers Kill Palestinians, Even a Smoking Gun Doesn't Lead to Indictments

Photo by Haim Schwartzenberg

Mustafa Tamimi was killed when he was shot in the face with a gas canister in a 2012 protest. A year later, Rushdi Tamimi was shot in the belly with live fire. No one ever faced charges. A closer look at the two cases reveals that putting soldiers to trial is the exception, not the rule.

Chaim Levinson Jul 07, 2016 Haaretz

An in-depth study of two incidents in which Palestinian protesters were shot and killed during demonstrations in the West Bank shows that the level of evidence required to indict an Israel Defense Forces soldier is substantially higher than that demanded when Palestinians are investigated.

Furthermore, the heavy media coverage given to the prosecution of Sgt. Elor Azaria – the Israeli soldier standing trial for manslaughter after shooting a subdued Palestinian assailant in March – is extremely rare, even though his actions are not.

Of the 739 complaints filed by the Israeli nonprofit B’Tselem concerning death, injury or beatings of Palestinians since 2000, only 25 resulted in prosecutions (less than 4 percent). And these charges were usually for the smallest possible violations, such as negligent use of a weapon.

Haaretz has obtained access to the IDF’s correspondence with the human rights group (which represented the families) concerning two high-profile cases – the deaths of Mustafa Tamimi and Rushdi Tamimi (no relation) – which were closed without any indictments being filed. The relevant documents and correspondence are classic examples of the manner in which the military advocate general conducts investigations into Palestinian fatalities.

Mustafa Tamimi’s death occurred in December 2011, in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. Following prayer services at the mosque, the local residents gathered in the village square, where their usual Friday ritual commenced. They attempted to march toward their farmland, which had been expropriated “for military purposes” and upon which the settlement of Neve Tzuf was established. The army deployed in order to prevent them from exiting the village. The two sides confronted each other. Initially there were songs, followed by curses, and then someone threw a stone at the soldiers. They responded with tear gas and the marchers dispersed. The stone throwers remained.

For hours, the two sides played cat and mouse, one side throwing stones, the other firing tear gas. This is the norm in the village every Friday.

However, things didn’t follow the usual script on December 9. Photos taken by Haim Schwartzenberg documented what happened at 14:26: An army jeep with soldiers from the Kfir Brigade inside was on a stone-strewn road outside the village. Two Palestinians wielding stones approached them, one with his face covered and the other wearing a gas mask. A stone was thrown and the back door of the jeep opened just a fraction. A tear-gas canister was fired from the jeep and hit the Palestinian wearing the gas mask in the head. The jeep moved away as the man fell to the ground, bleeding profusely.

The wounded man was Mustafa, a 28-year-old from the village. Soon, many of the marchers gathered around him, photographing his smashed head from all angles. He was quickly put into a Palestinian taxi, which took him to a nearby checkpoint.

“I opened the taxi door,” recounted a paramedic later, “and saw him unconscious, breathing with a rattle. The whole right side of his face under the eyes was ripped.”

Tamimi was taken to Beilinson Hospital, Petah Tikva, where doctors commended the treatment provided by the female paramedic. However, he died the next morning. A slingshot was found in his pocket.

Rushdi Tamimi’s death took place a year later, on November 17, 2012. The West Bank was seething as Operation Pillar of Defense raged in Gaza. There were incidents on the terraces lying between Nabi Saleh and the adjacent road, which links settlements in the Binyamin regional council and Israel’s center. A reserves’ military unit was summoned to protect the road.

Video footage documented soldiers running toward Rushdi Tamimi, who was lying on the ground. The soldiers surrounded him and moved those present back. He was taken to hospital with a bullet in his stomach, but died two days later. A military inquiry found that a “mistake” had occurred, contravening the army’s values.

For 90 minutes, the army had fired all the tear gas at its disposal, until it ran out. A medic was sent to get more, but in the meantime soldiers switched to using live ammunition, firing 80 bullets at demonstrators until the lethal one hit Rushdi Tamimi. In a highly exceptional move, the company commander was dismissed after the incident.

‘No way of explaining it’
The investigation of Mustafa Tamimi’s death was supposed to be a simple case, leading to a straightforward indictment. Gas canisters are defined by the IDF as nonlethal weapons. Tear gas is unpleasant, but it doesn’t kill people. Anyone not suffering from asthma or a heart condition recovers within minutes after being exposed to it.

Being hit by a canister, however, can be lethal. Army regulations specify that canisters must be fired from a distance of at least 30 meters (nearly 100 feet) and not be aimed at a person. They should be pointed upward, so that the canister lands at the feet of demonstrators, not hitting their bodies.

The soldier who fired the tear-gas canister is called Sgt. Aviram (Haaretz has his full name), who was the deputy company commander’s radio operator. At the inquiry, Aviram said the soldiers had entered the village with a bulldozer, under orders from the deputy battalion commander to clear a rock barrier on the road. When this was removed, they turned back. One of the soldiers testified that the deputy commanding officer was more aggressive than the battalion commander, who only wanted them to proceed 30 meters into the village.

Aviram and the other soldiers in the jeep testified that they were backing up and turning around in order to exit the village, with the jeep doors open. They were hit by two stones, one of which hit Aviram in the chest. He asked the driver to stop and opened fire.

But the video footage shows that the identical testimony of all the soldiers is false. The doors were closed while they were turning around, were slightly opened to allow the shooting of the canister, and then closed. No stone seemingly penetrated the jeep.
The brigade commander in the area, Col. Saar Tzur, also noted that the gunshots were unnecessary, since the task had been completed and the force was moving away.

The main question at the inquiry was whether Aviram saw Mustafa Tamimi approaching the jeep. Aviram said he didn’t see anything and that he directed his fire upward.

“I looked through the crack. The driver turned around and I asked him to stop so I could fire toward the terraces. I looked to determine that no one was close by and fired two or three canisters,” Aviram said in his testimony.

So how did the canister hit Tamimi – who was only meters away – in the face? Aviram said he had no way of explaining how this happened. When shown photos documenting the incident, he changed his version and claimed that he had fired directly, not upward.

In order to prove the scientific aspect of the issue, investigators requested two professional opinions. One came from Lt. Col. Yoav, the head of the ballistics department in the Ordnance Corps. He stated in his report: “It is impossible that the victim was hit by someone firing at a 45- to 90-degree angle. My statement is unequivocal, based on my familiarity with this weapon, the ammunition and its ballistic behavior, as well as the photos I saw of the incident, which documented the conditions in relation to distances and elevations.”

The second opinion was from Lt. Col. N., from Military Intelligence, who is an expert in deciphering aerial photographs. He also stated that indirect fire was impossible: “The angle of the rifle barrel at the time of firing was zero or even lower.”

N. attempted to reconstruct the incident on-site, but was interrupted when stones were thrown. Ultimately, his testimony was favorable to the shooter: The firing was direct, but Mustafa was approaching the jeep in a manner in which he could not be seen – in other words, the canister was not aimed at him, Mustafa moved toward it.

However, Schwartzenberg’s photos seem to show the opposite. Mustafa Tamimi was standing still when the jeep stopped, his knees bent as he prepared to throw a stone at the vehicle. He didn’t move when the door opened. He was directly across from the door facing Aviram. N. conducted some experiments to establish fields of vision, in order to find out what Aviram could see. The photos show that the opening of the jeep door was sufficiently wide so that people standing in front of it could be seen.

The file against Aviram and the others in the jeep was closed in December 2013. B’Tselem appealed in February 2015, but the military advocate general rejected their appeal a year later. The revision of a firing angle from 90 degrees to 0 degrees was defined as a “correction … it’s certainly possible that Sgt. Aviram didn’t remember the exact angle.”

As for the possibility that the deceased entered the line of fire within a fraction of a second of Aviram pulling the trigger – implying that he wasn’t observed at that point – Chief Military Prosecutor Sharon Zagagi-Pinhas wrote, “This is an uncommon likelihood, but it’s possible, giving reasonable doubt in the matter.”

‘Soldiers’ lives were in danger’
In the case of Rushdi Tamimi, the vigorous operational investigation conducted by the army fizzled out when it passed into the hands of Military Police investigators.

Shooting at stone-throwing demonstrators from this distance is contrary to the rules of engagement. “They came within meters of our forces,” company commander Yisrael testified. “I felt my soldiers’ lives were in danger. We were worried about a lynching or an abduction. I asked permission to use live fire, but received no answer from battalion headquarters. My operator was hit by two large stones and another soldier was hit in the leg from a range of five meters. I realized that if we didn’t open fire we’d be stoned and a soldier might be abducted. I and another soldier opened fire.” Other soldiers testified that they didn’t aim at anyone specifically.

In May 2014, the military advocate general decided to close the file for two reasons: First, under the circumstances, no one could disregard the risk to the soldiers’ lives. Second, in the absence of a bullet, the identity of the soldier who fired the lethal shot could not be determined.

Asked to respond to the two incidents and the army’s approach to investigating such cases, the IDF spokesman said: “The law enforcement system in the IDF operates independently, professionally and precisely. Each case is judged on its own merits, based on evidence that was gathered and according to legal criteria. This is done for cases dealing with operational activity, including these two incidents.

“The Military Police investigation of the circumstances that led to the death of Mustafa Tamimi on December 9, 2011, was thorough and comprehensive. Testimonies were collected from soldiers and civilians, and a reconstruction of the incident was conducted. Video footage and photographs documenting the shooting were collected and expert opinions obtained.

“The soldier who fired the tear-gas canister said he followed the regulations in response to extensive stone throwing, without seeing anyone in his line of fire. An expert opinion determined that Mustafa was moving toward the jeep while throwing stones, and entered the line of fire without the shooter being able to see him. The evidence suggests that the firing followed guidelines and regulations, and the file was closed without taking any action against the soldier.

“The evidence collected in the investigation of the circumstances leading to the death by gunshot of Rushdi Tamimi on November 19, 2012, shows he was taking part in a particularly violent demonstration, which included extensive throwing of rocks from a short range at soldiers and civilians. The soldiers fired into the air and took further action following procedures for the arrest of a suspect, firing at the legs of a demonstrator who was trying to hurl a large rock at one of them. The soldiers didn’t see [Rushdi Tamimi] or others getting hit, and when trying to administer medical aid they didn’t see a bullet wound. There was no way of obtaining the bullet that was extricated from his body, or an explanation of the medical complication that led to his death.

“Examining the evidence showed that, in light of the operational circumstances on the ground, the soldiers dispersing the demonstration did not act in a way that warrants taking legal action against them. There were some professional flaws in the actions of the commanding officer, but these were unrelated to Tamimi’s death. The officer was disciplined after the incident.”

Sunday, July 3, 2016

At the Qalandia Checkpoint: The Occupation’s Humiliation Machine

Dear friends,
please find below an excerpt from Ben Ehrenreich's new book about the struggle of the people of the village of Nabi Saleh in the Occupied West Bank. Ehrenreich is an award winning journalist who has written about Palestine many times. His book looks at both the struggle in Nabi Saleh, as well as the overall struggle for freedom and self-determination in Palestine. 

In this excerpt Ehrenreich explains clearly the purpose of Israel's checkpoints.  In particular he looks at Qalandia checkpoint, the major checkpoint between Occupied Jerusalem and the Occupied West Bank. 

In this excerpt, Ehrenreich discusses the cages that are installed at Qalandia and other checkpoints. I was in Palestine when they were first installed, so experienced the checkpoint both before them and after their installation. I recall being both viserally angry and sick to my stomach, when I first saw them and then traversed them.  Their installation had nothing to do with "security", instead their primary purpose as Ehrenreich notes is to humiliate.  

In 2007, I wrote the following blog "The Convenience of Occupation" about the construction of the super terminal at Qalandia checkpoint. You can read it hereAt the time the super terminal was very new and it would be several years before the cages would be installed.

in solidarity, Kim


At the Qalandia Checkpoint: The Occupation’s Humiliation Machine

From Ben Ehrenreich's The Way to Spring

Originally posted @ The Literary Hub: 29 June 2016


The first time I crossed Qalandia by foot was in the spring of 2011. I was staying with a friend from Jayyous. The wall had wrecked the economy there. Among other things. There was no work, and the horizon had been literally cemented off. He and his brothers moved to Ramallah, where they shared an apartment not far from the al’Amari refugee camp. I slept in their dining room on a narrow bed pressed up against the wall.

One morning, a few minutes before my alarm was set to ring, I woke to a door squeaking open. Two bare legs shuffled past me toward the bathroom. I heard water running, the toilet flushing. When the bathroom door opened, a light-haired woman in her twenties walked by and disappeared into one of the brothers’ bedrooms. I got up, pulled on a pair of pants, and lit the stove to boil water for coffee. The woman emerged from the bedroom. I mumbled a good morning. She nodded, miserably, and made a small show of pulling her key to the apartment from her pocket and placing it on the coffee table.

“The key,” she said. Then she opened the apartment door, and left.

I hadn’t seen her before and if I ever met her since that day—which I likely did, because Ramallah is an overgrown village—I didn’t recognize her, so I never learned what happened. It was clear enough from her 
eyes, though, and from the tense slump of her shoulders, that I had been the unwanted witness to a breakup, and the beginning of a very bad morning. I choked down a cup of coffee, grabbed my bag, checked my pockets for my wallet and passport, and locked the door behind me.

I had an appointment in Bethlehem, which meant that I had choices. I 
could flag a taxi to the center of Ramallah and take another shared taxi 
from the bus station there straight to Bethlehem. Or not straight exactly—Jerusalem lay between the two cities, which meant that long, wide loop 
through the Container checkpoint and Wadi Naar. Which meant it might 
actually be faster to hop a taxi to Qalandia, cross the checkpoint on foot, 
and take a bus from the Jerusalem side to the main depot on the Nablus 
Road in East Jerusalem, where I could catch another bus to Bethlehem. 
Such conveniences, of course, were not available to everyone.

So it was that I ended up weaving my way between the cars idling as 
they waited and inched and inched and waited in the shadow of the wall. 
Maybe it’s the stonecutters’ yard a few hundred meters away, or the exhaust 
from all the idling cars and trucks and buses, or the black powder left by 
burning tires, but I do not believe there is any spot in Palestine dustier than Qalandia. Until 2000, there was no checkpoint there at all, just a road like 
any other leading from one city to another. That year, the monster was 
born. It began as a humble mound of dirt where Israeli soldiers occasionally 
stopped cars to check their drivers’ papers. In 2001, concrete barricades 
appeared. In 2003, the watchtower. Two years later, the Israelis razed a hill 
and built the wall. Tollboothlike structures went up, and a vast and well-named “terminal” sheltering a warren of caged passageways, turnstiles, and 
inspection booths behind bulletproof glass. It kept growing, mutating, the 
barriers moving, the routes and rules shifting week by week and sometimes day by day. Uncertainty was part of the point, the constant reinforcement of “the radical contingency at the heart of daily life,” to borrow a phrase from the scholar Nasser Abourahme. Despite its ever-shifting face, the checkpoint would come to feel like a permanent feature of the landscape.

Technically, Qalandia fell within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, but when the wall was built, it became a border crossing between Israel and the West Bank. It developed its own ecosystem, as borders do. You could buy cigarettes without leaving your car, or SpongeBob bedspreads, or plastic jugs of purple pickled eggplant. Men sold coffee and kebabs from carts. Women sold produce or stood begging with their infants in their arms. Kids hawked chewing gum and Kleenex and pirated CDs to the waiting cars, or smeared their windshields clean with dirty rags. Outside, Qalandia was its own market, its own world.

Inside it belonged to Israel. That morning, I walked past the concrete blast walls and through the parking lot into the terminal. I stood beneath its high, corrugated metal roof and tried to guess which of the half dozen or so lines was moving fastest. I chose the shortest one and stood, inching forward into a sort of oblong cage about twenty feet long and just wide enough for a slender adult to stand without touching the steel bars on each side. There were people packed in ahead of me, and people squeezed in behind. We waited, wedged together and barely moving. This was new to me then, but it was part of everyone else’s routine. Most were going to work. Crossing Qalandia was one stage of their commute. I’m not sure how long it took before we reached the turnstile at the end of the cage—not long enough for claustrophobic panic to set in, but long enough that I could sense it hovering nearby, a palpable presence a few inches above and behind my skull.

After the turnstile came another turnstile. We were being sorted. Some of the turnstiles were more than six feet tall and barred from top to bottom, a sort of revolving door-cum-cage. Some were the waist-high kind you pass through in subways or public libraries. Except that military engineers had these ones custom-built for checkpoints, specially fitted with arms more than 25 percent shorter than the ones used in Israel. The pretext, as always, was security, so that no one could sneak by with bulky explo
sives. But the turnstiles served another function as well, a more important 
one, and it was standing between them in that dank, longitudinal cell—pressed against the people in front of and behind me, smelling the smoke of 
their cigarettes and the anxiety and irritation in their sweat and their 
breath—that I understood for the first time that in its daily functioning, the 
prime purpose of the occupation was not to take land or push people from 
their homes. It did that too of course, and effectively, but overall, with its 
checkpoints and its walls and its prisons and its permits, it functioned as a 
giant humiliation machine, a complex and sophisticated mechanism for the 
production of human despair.

That was the battle. The land mattered to everyone, but despite all the 
nationalist anthems and slogans, the harder fight was the struggle to simply stand and not be broken. It was no accident that clashes tended to occur 
at checkpoints, and it wasn’t just at the soldiers manning them that people 
threw stones. It was at the entire, cruel machine that the soldiers both 
guarded and stood in for, and its grinding insistence that they accept their 
defeat.[1] They knew—even the kids knew—that they couldn’t break it or 
even dent it and they usually couldn’t even hit it, but by fighting, by dancing and dodging fast enough and with sufficient wit and furor, they could 
avoid being caught in its gears. For a while they could, or they could try to.

After the second turnstile, we entered a slightly wider enclosure. The 
walls in front of us and behind us were barred. The ones to the sides were 
a dingy white scuffed black by the soles of thousands of shoes. Above us 
hung a long fluorescent bulb, furred with dust, and a surveillance camera 
splashed with coffee grounds. The floor was littered with cigarette butts 
and empty bags of chips. There were twenty or thirty of us in there, crowded together, shoulders and elbows touching. We weren’t advancing so much as being pushed forward by those behind us.[2] A baby was crying. Every few minutes a soldier, invisible behind a bulletproof panel in the next room, pressed a button and a buzzer sounded, a lock clicked, and three people were allowed to pass through the turnstile at the far end of the enclosure.

So it went. Each group of three that filed into the inspection room was replaced by another three. Usually, someone got stuck between the bars of the turnstile just as it locked again. This time, the person caught inside it was the woman I had seen leaving the apartment earlier that morning. Her eyes were somewhere on the other side of patience, so exhausted by rage that she looked almost calm. She didn’t see me. I didn’t shout hello. I doubted that she would welcome any reminder of her morning, which was only getting shittier. Finally the buzzer freed her. She pushed out of the cage into the next enclosure. Inside it was an X-ray machine and a metal detector like the ones at airports, only far grimier, and an inch-thick pane of Plexiglas in one wall, behind which a soldier sat in front of a computer screen.

The woman placed her purse on the conveyor belt, removed her earrings and her belt, and stepped through the metal detector. A voice barked out in distorted Hebrew through the intercom. She kicked off her shoes and tried passing through again. The machine went off again. She stood in front of the window, making an obvious effort to contain her anger, spreading her arms and opening her hands to show that she was not carrying or wearing anything made of metal. The loudspeaker issued another staticky command, and she stepped back through the metal detector. This time the machine stayed silent. She collected her shoes, her earrings, her belt and purse, and pressed her ID against the glass. The soldier stared at it and, 
after a minute’s inspection, waved her through. She wasn’t done. She had 
to wait to be buzzed through the final turnstile. Only when the two people 
behind her had gone through the same routine and also been cleared did 
the exit finally unlock. She pushed through it without a glance back, shoving her hair from her face.
[1] “What checkpoints reinforce,” the scholar Helga Tawil-Souri writes, “is Palestinians’ loss of orderly space-time, of the missing foundation of their existence, the lost ground of their origin, the broken link with their land and with their past.”

[2] I didn’t know it then and couldn’t appreciate the irony, but Qalandia was once primarily associated with flight. It was the site of Palestine’s first airfield, and its only one until what is now Ben Gurion Airport opened sixteen years later in what was still a small Palestinian town called Lydda, which would become the scene of one of the most notorious massacres of the 1948 war.
From THE WAY TO THE SPRING by Ben Ehrenreich.