Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Here is a line from the supporters of the protest:
Thousands withstood the weather for this historic gathering to shout that we will never again be silent. We are in solidarity with Israel's right to build in their Jewish capital. We stood for a Jewish Jerusalem and protested the administration's disgusting scapegoating of Israel.The video might kinda make you sick. I started shivering as I watched it. It's vomitly racist. I apologize for posting this kind of stuff, but I think it's important to know what people are thinking. I mean thousands in new York showed up in the rain to support this.
Some excerpts from the video:
- For the first time in American history, we have an anti-Israel president.
- The Islamization of the narrative must stop.
- Truth is the new hate speech.
- It's a Jew living in the Jewish homeland, there are no settlers in Israel.
- What is the West Bank? It's Judea, JUDEA, and Samaria.
- There is no occupation, except the Muslim occupation of Israel.
- How dare President OBAMA jam his finger into the chest of Netanyahu.
- What you have is an Islamicized President.
A cross-post from Joseph Dana:
Below is a report from the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee:
Palestinian, Israeli and international demonstrators managed to stop the construction of the Wall in the village of alWalaja, south of Jerusalem for the second time this week. If completed, the path of the Wall in the area will surround the village completely, isolating it from all its lands, the cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem and essentially the rest of the world.
Demonstrators managed to block the bulldozers in the early morning, and even climb and take over one of the machines. A Border Police force at the scene arrested on of the demonstrators – 15 year old Nabil Hajajla – who was beaten and pepper-sprayed. Following Hajajla’s arrest, Border Police officers managed to drag the demonstrators away from the bulldosers and construction was resumed.
Al-Walaja is an agrarian village of about 2,000 people, located south of Jerusalem and West of Bethlehem. Following the 1967 Occupation of the West Bank and the redrawing of the Jerusalem municipal boundaries, roughly half the village was annexed by Israel and included in the Jerusalem municipal area. The village’s residents, however did not receive Israeli residency or citizenship, and are considered illegal in their own homes.
Once completed, the path of the Wall is designed to encircle the village’s built-up area entirely, separating the residents from both Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and almost all their lands – roughly 5,000 dunams. Previously, Israeli authorities have already confiscated approximately half of the village’s lands for the building of the Har Gilo and Gilo settlements, and closed off areas to the south and west of it. The town’s inhabitants have also experienced the cutting down of fruit orchards and house demolition due to the absence of building permits in Area C.
According to a military confiscation order handed to the villagers, the path of the Wall will stretch over 4890 meters between Beit Jala and alWallaja, affecting 35 families, whose homes may be slated for demolition.
Beit Jala is a predominantly Christian town located 10 km south of Jerusalem, on the western side of the Hebron road, opposite Bethlehem. Once completed, he Wall will Isolate 3,200 Dunams of the town’s lands, including almost 3,000 Dunams of olive groves and the only recreational forest in the area, the Cremisan monastery and the Cremisan Cellars winery.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
He then led me outside to the hod (watering trough). The hod was just outside the entrance of the cave, and sat below a narrow channel of rock into which buckets are water were poured. The channel acted as a natural water slide, directing the drinking water into the trough. The trough had been constructed of cement and rocks. Now, it was useless, destroyed by settlers.
The army had come at his request to look at the damage that was done. The army said they could do nothing for him because they had no idea how his 'ayn and hod were destroyed. The army said he could have damaged them himself, they had no idea. "Why in hell would I destroy my own 'ayn and hod, how insulting to suggest that to me."
The man had loaded up a plastic basin onto his donkey and brought it with him, to replace the cement trough which had been destroyed. He set up the basin and poured the first bucket of water into it, but it tipped over and the water spilled uselessly across the rock. "You see, the hod works much better." The man stood up and shook his head. "Why would they do this? It's water. You need water, I need water, the settlers need water, and the sheep need water. The whole world needs water and the 'ayn and hod were how I provide water for the sheep. Why would they do this?"
But life goes on here in Palestine, albeit amidst heartache, frustration, and pain. The shepherd eventually filled the basin, bucket by bucket, and the sheep were able to get water, water that sustains life. I pray that water contains to sustain life here, and that the courage to maintain hope sustains resistance to injustice.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
"Thousands of people from around the world would like to move into the West Bank."
"Thousands of people from around the world want to move into a military occupied, stateless land?"
"It's not easy...we're living in a very difficult part of the world."
If you’re an average American taxpayer, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have, since 2001, cost you personally $7,334, according to the “cost of war” counter created by the National Priorities Project (NPP). They have cost all Americans collectively more than $980,000,000,000. As a country, we’ll pass the trillion dollar mark soon.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Since the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority, the PNA issues its residents with Palestinian ID cards based on Israeli approval. (Wikipedia)
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
So to tide you over, here is an excerpt from Desmond Tutu's piece in support of the UC Berkeley student senate who voted 16-4 to divest from companies which have ties to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.
I have been to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under the racist system of Apartheid. I have witnessed the humiliation of Palestinian men, women, and children made to wait hours at Israeli military checkpoints routinely when trying to make the most basic of trips to visit relatives or attend school or college, and this humiliation is familiar to me and the many black South Africans who were corralled and regularly insulted by the security forces of the Apartheid government.Tutu continues:
In South Africa, we could not have achieved our freedom and just peace without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the Apartheid regime.
To those who wrongly allege unfairness or harm done to them by this call for divestment, I suggest, with humility, that the harm suffered from being confronted with opinions that challenge one's own pales in comparison to the harm done by living a life under occupation and daily denial of basic rights and dignity. It is not with rancor that we criticize the Israeli government, but with hope, a hope that a better future can be made for both Israelis and Palestinians, a future in which both the violence of the occupier and the resulting violent resistance of the occupied come to an end, and where one people need not rule over another, engendering suffering, humiliation, and retaliation.I suggest reading the full article, especially if you think South African apartheid was one thing but the Israeli system is a whole different thing, because Tutu clearly sees the links and the need for a strong BDS (boycotts, divestments, sanctions) movement against Israel, like we saw against the South African apartheid system
Friday, April 09, 2010
A school in a very rural community, south at At-Tuwani, and nearly 1km from the border with Israel, is in it's first year of operation. CPT provides daily accompaniment for the vehicle which transports some of the teachers and students because the army routinely patrols the area in an attempt to prohibit Palestinian workers from crossing the border.
Several months ago, the car used to transport the kids and teachers was confiscated and subsequently destroyed by the army, meanwhile the teachers and students were forced to walk home. Nonetheless, the school doors (the buildings are actually tents) stay open, a new vehicle transports the teachers and kids, and people are committed to staying on the land and providing education for the children.
Also, the road that takes you to Al-Fakheit takes about an hour, even thought it's about 2 miles, and it takes probably a year off your projected lifespan.
See a previous post for more info.
Thursday, April 08, 2010
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
I shot and edited this video and during the incident I was within 20 meters of the homes that were being tossed and the people who were being interrogated. The Police refused to let me speak with the residents or approach the homes.
Notice the inconsistency in the police's story about why they were there, notice how there were nearly 20 police in a village of 40 people, notice how jacked up the houses are, notice how police looked for sheep between mattresses and in a nuts/bolts drawer, notice how the police said there were footprints leading to Tuba, (fyi -people don't have cars in Tuba, so they walk a lot, and the path between the settlement and Tuba is the one that schoolkids walk everyday, so yeah, it makes sense there would be footprints, even though it's so rocky Bear Grylls couldn't track anyone). Notice the absurdity.
If Israeli police did this in a Jewish home in Tel Aviv, it would be on Israel's nightly news. Instead it happened to Palestinians and no one gave a rip. The Tuba residents were just thankful no one got beaten up or arrested, like last time.
Sunday, April 04, 2010
- Does it appear to you that Israel has too much land and the Arabs not enough?!
- Which Arab land is Israel occupying?
- Do you know that the Arabs occupy a land mass of 5,300,000 square miles?
- Did you know that Israel occupies a mere 10,801 square miles including The Golan, Judea and Samaria (before relinquishing Gaza)?
Friday, April 02, 2010
"Christians around the world can celebrate Easter, but for Palestinian Christians, the Israeli occupation has turned every day into Good Friday, and we're still waiting for our resurrection as a free people," said Father Firas Aridah of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
Thursday, April 01, 2010
A great article about Tuwani and the adjacent Israeli settlement. The article is below in full:
By Khaled Amayreh
29 March, 2010
Middle East Monitor
No catalogue of Israeli oppression and persecution of the Palestinian people can be complete without the ongoing plight of the villagers of Tuwani in the southern West Bank.
The small hamlet, which residents say dates back to time immemorial, has been a frequent target of harassment, vandalism, attacks and assaults of all sorts by the neighboring Jewish settlement outpost, known as Havat Ma’on.
Havat Ma’on, originally an army outpost, is inhabited by 300-400 fanatical settlers, some originating in places as far as Moscow and Baltimore. Indoctrinated in the Jewish messianic ideology, the settlers are considered among the most criminal elements of the settler movement. They believe they have a mandate from God to harass, torment and kill "goyem" or non-Jews.
"Criminality is the mindset of these people. They think that their practice of Judaism is measured in proportion to the amount of persecution and aggression meted out to their Palestinian neighbors," say Ahmed al Hreini, a resident of Tuwani.
"They are more than just bad neighbors, more than a thorn in our side; they are a cancer."
They want to seize our land
Saber Hreini, 55, is the head of Tuwani’s local council. He says that the Ma’on’s settlers’ ultimate goal is to force the inhabitants of the small village to leave in order to take over their land.
"And in order to effect their criminal goal, they commit every conceivable crime against our people, including poisoning our sources of water, poisoning our sheep and cattle, assaulting our shepherds, beating our school children on their way to school and back home, uprooting our trees, and terrorizing us nearly on a daily basis"
"Hardly a day passes without an incident. They want to keep us on the edge, constantly nervous, so that we reach a point where we will have had enough and leave."
Hreini has some unlikely witnesses testifying to the veracity of his accusations. They are a small group of mainly North American peace activists, known as Christian Peace-making Teams or CPT, who have maintained an uninterrupted presence at Tuwani for the past 15 years.
Generally speaking, the Christian activists, who promote nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation, monitor Israeli violations of human rights in the occupied territories, especially in the southern West Bank.
At Tuwani, their activities center on providing daily escort for Palestinian children walking to and from school as well as accompanying Palestinian shepherds and farmers to fields where they are exposed to assault by the extremist settlers.
This activism has earned them the wrath of the settlers and anger of the Israeli government and army. On numerous occasions, CPTers were seriously assaulted and injured by masked settler thugs. However, whenever the victims sought redress, the Israeli police and courts would demand proof that were nearly impossible to obtain such as the perpetrators’ full names, photos, and addresses.
"I think there is a clear collusion between the settlers at Havat Ma’on and the Israeli army and government. Their common goal is to harass the Palestinians to leave in order to expand the settlement," said one CPTer from the United States.
"I can say that the settlers operate in sync with the Israeli army, they are more or less two sides of the same coin."
Saber Hreini, pointing his finger toward the nearby small forest, explains the "inherent contradiction" between nature and settlers.
"You see this beautiful scenery, this small forest, the lofty trees. You wouldn’t believe that inside the forest exist ferocious human beasts that would be happy to strangle and murder school kids on their way to school or back home from school. Do people like these exist in any other place on earth?"
In addition to planting poison pellets in Tuwani fields, which have killed sheep, gazelle and other domestic and wild animals, the settlers also keep monitoring any new building at the village.
"Whenever they see any family or individual build a new home, they call the army to come and destroy it."
Hreini says the Israeli army destroyed his own home twice.
"They just would like to see us evaporate into non-existence. They want us to be obliterated from the face of earth. They want to do to us what the 'white man’ did to native Americans."
No water, no electricity, no roads
According to villagers, the bulk of Tuwani’s homes, including the local small mosque and clinic, are facing the prospect of demolition by the Israeli occupation authorities. Such facilities are viewed by the Israelis as factors encouraging villagers to stay.
On 19 March 2009, Tony Blair, the Special Middle East Envoy of the Quartet, visited Tuwani, assuring villagers that an oral permission had been granted by the Israeli military authorities to begin the work needed to bring electricity to the village.
He said "without a new and different system applying in Area C [the area in the West Bank under Israeli military and civilian control], then it is very hard for Palestinians to enjoy the standard of living that they should enjoy and be able to develop their land as they should be able to develop in freedom."
However, Blair, viewed by many Muslims throughout the world as a war criminal for his role in effecting the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the United States and her western allies, didn’t keep his word, or more probably the Israelis didn’t take him seriously.
A few weeks later, the Israeli army issued a demolition order to the newly constructed electricity pylons in At-Tuwani.
On 25 May 2009, Israeli occupation troops stormed Tuwani and ordered villagers to halt construction work on new electricity pylons in the village. No written orders were delivered. Saber Hreini wrote to Blair requesting his help in obtaining written permission for the electricity work to continue
"We hope that in your role as envoy for the Quartet, you can be of assistance to us in contacting the Israeli government with the hopes of procuring written permission for these projects. We fear without written permission our problems will continue."
Tony Blair never responded.
On 20 December, 2009, the Israeli army confiscated all the equipment that was to be used in the electrification of the village.
Moreover, the army issued another order barring the rehabilitation and pavement of the entrance to the village, a measure Hreini says "epitomizes a thoroughly racist mentality."
"Israel, which calls itself a democracy, is trying to kill our community. They won’t allow us to have running tap water, electricity or a decent access road that would connect us with the outside world."
"But we are clinging to our land like never before. I assure you that Tuwani, which predated Ma’on by many decades if not centuries, will remain much longer after Ma’on has gone."
Unfortunately, this writer couldn’t access the Jewish settlement to obtain the settlers’ side of the story. A settler, carrying an automatic rifle, trained his weapon toward us, saying in Hebrew, go back or I will shoot.
Bassem was shot by a new kind of Tear Gas, called “the rocket”. The soldier who shot it was a mere 40 meters away. This is the same type of tear gas that critically injured US citizen Tristan Anderson a few weeks ago. Those tear gas canisters are as fast and lethal as live ammunition. Very hard to get away from. Normally, tear gas canisters fly in the air for a long time, then fall and bounce a few times. Those ones fly like a bullet and go straight, not up and down.Despite the footage from three cameras, opinions of ballistics experts, and the urging of the premier Israeli human rights organization (B'tselem), the IDF has chosen to open no investigation, stating that:
"We have approached military officials for their comments on the alleged incident. After examining the materials we received, we came to believe there was no basis found to the claim a tear gas grenade was aimed and fired directly at Abu Rahmeh," the statement read.Really, he jumped in front of a speeding tear gas canister (dun dun dun duuuuuuuun....IT'S SUPER ABU RAHMEH)!? Seriously, that's insulting, probably much more to the family who lost a son, a brother, and a father.
"The inquiry shows that there are two possible explanations for the injury: A. The injured man was standing on an elevated spot, and intersected the firing line of the grenade or B. The ammunition fired hit the upper wires of the fence, which changed its trajectory."
Michael Sfard, the family's Israeli attorney says it well:
"Someone deciding not to investigate is someone who has something to hide. If the effort and creativity invested in preventing investigations were instead directed to unraveling the killing of unarmed civilians, maybe the military prosecution would not need to resort to using physical theories that sound like they were taken from a cartoon."UPDATE: One of the videos from the incident is here. (It shows Abu Rahmeh after being shot, so viewer discretion is advised). An accidental death isn't really an option because if someone shoots a deadly weapon and it ricochets and kills someone, that person is still responsible. So we are left with the possibilities of suicide and murder, you decide, cause the IDF refuses to even consider the latter.