Friday, January 27, 2012
To exist is to resist! Rebuilding homes in Anata / Exister c'est resister! Reconstruction des maisons à Anata,
(c) Anne Paq/Activestills.org, Arab al Jahalin, Anata, 26.01.2012
How do you continue your life after your home had been demolished? How do you cope with the uncertainty of having a roof for your children and protect them from the cold and rain?
On the 23rd January, 6 homes of the community of the Arab al Jahalin, members of the biggest Bedouin tribe in the West Bank, in Anata were demolished in the middle of the night leaving more than 50 people homeless, many of them children. More demolitions are coming: more than 2,000 members of the Arab al Jahalin, who are scattered mostly around Jerusalem are threatened with forced displacement; one of the locations "proposed" by the Israeli authorities is a garbage dump in El Azzariya.
I visited the community two days after the demolition. The children and women were helplessly sitting around. The personal belongings were all scattered around. The men were trying to pick up the pieces of their homes and lives and already were starting building up a new home out of woods and tins. Some tents were provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) but there is not enough to protect from the rain and cold.
The next day I went back. All the people were busy cleaning and rebuilding. Some volunteers- Palestinians, Israelis and internationals were here helping out. People were not sitting around being miserable, they were up in their feet, rebuilding. This is what Palestinians do, whatever Israel destroys, they get up on their feet and rebuild. Children were also participating, moving the stones around, the women were also cleaning and sorting out the furniture. One home was just finished. More woods structure arrived and we started to erect a second house after a beautiful lunch. Smiles were seen all around, children laughed with the volunteers. A broken bike was still being used by the children, they were carrying it around but could not get on it. I guess they were just pretending that they did not notice it was broken. But can they also pretend that their homes were not demolished?
These children were just so amazing. Today it is raining and I cannot stop thinking about them. I know they are strong, I know they pick up the piece and just go on living, not thinking one minute of leaving despite the fact that they know the Israelis will come back.
"To exist is to resist", and the reverse is also so true: "to resist is to exist". For sure they do: by refusing to be intimidated and thrown into a garbage dump, by rebuilding and not giving up one inch, they become part of the invisible unarmed and resolute army that is standing up against the oppressive regime that is attempting to silently ethnically cleansed them.
They are strong but they should not be alone in their fight. Direct help is needed to ensure they rebuild what they need, more political pressure and actions are also needed to raise awareness about forced displacement. If the international community do not act now, this slow ethnic cleansing is likely to increase in the next months.
Comment continuer votre vie après que votre maison ait été démolie? Comment faites-vous face à l'incertitude d'avoir un toit pour vos enfants et de pouvoir les protéger contre le froid et la pluie?
Le 23 Janvier , 6 maisons de la communauté Arab al Jahalin d'Anata, membres de la plus grande tribue bédouine en Cisjordanie, ont été démolies au milieu de la nuit en laissant plus de 50 personnes sans-abri, dont beaucoup d'enfants. Plus de démolitions sont à venir: plus de 2.000 membres des Arab al Jahalin, qui sont dispersés principalement autour de Jérusalem sont menacés de déplacement forcé, l'un des endroits «proposé» par les autorités israéliennes est une décharge d'ordures à El Azzariya.
J'ai visité la commauté deux jours après la démolition. Les enfants et les femmes étaient assis, impuissants. Les affaires étaient dispersées. Les hommes essayaient de ramasser les morceaux de leurs maisons et de leurs vies et avait déjà commencé la construction de nouvelles maisons avec des boyts de bois et de la tôle. Des tentes avaient été fournies par le Comité international de la Croix-Rouge (CICR), mais elles ne suffisent pas à protéger de la pluie et du froid.
Le lendemain j'y suis encore retournée. Tout le monde était occupé à nettoyer et reconstruire. Certains bénévoles-une poignée de Palestiniens, Israéliens et internationaux étaient ici pour aider la communauté bédouine. Personne nétait assis la tête entre les mains, immobiles et atterés par la situation. Non ils étaient bien debout sur leurs pieds à reconstruire, et pour beaucoup même le sourire aux lèvres. C'est ce que les Palestiniens font, Israël a beau détruire et les mettre à terre, ils se lèvent et reconstruisent, et cela dure depuis des decennies. Les enfants participaient au travail, en déplaçant des pierres et des gravats. Les femmes s'occupaient aussi du tri des affaires, du nettoyage, certaines déblayaient des gravats avec des pelles.
Une maison venait tout juste d'être terminée que des planches de bois arrivaient et que nous nous sommes sont mis à construire une deuxième maison. Les sourires étaient visibles, les enfants riaient avec les activistes. Un vélo cassé était toujours utilisé par les enfants, ils le déplaçait avce eux, mais ne pouvaient pas monter dessus. Je suppose qu'ils étaient juste en train de prétendre qu'ils n'avaient pas remarqués pas qu'il était cassé. Ces enfants étaient tellement incroyables, mais peuvent)ils aussi prétendre que leurs maisons n'aient pas été détruites?
Aujourd'hui il pleut et je ne peux pas m'arrêter de penser à eux. Je sais qu'ils sont forts, je sais qu'ils ramassent les morceau et continuent à vivre, ne pensant pas une minute de partir en dépit du fait qu'ils savent très bien que les Israéliens vont revenir, et certainement démolir le peu qu'ils leur restent.
«Exister, c'est résister», et l'inverse est également vrai: "Résister, c'est exister». C'est sûr que ces familles existent et résistent: en refusant de se laisser intimider et jetés dans une décharge, en reconstruisant et en ne cédant pas un centimètre, ils deviennent une partie de l'armée invisible qui se tient debout, à mains nues et résolus, contre le régime oppressif qui tente de leur faire subir en silence un nettoyage ethnique .
Ils sont forts mais ils ne doivent pas être seuls dans leur combat. Une aide directe est nécessaire pour s'assurer qu'ils reconstruisent ce qu'ils ont besoin, plus de pression politique et des actions sont également indispensables pour sensibiliser et mettre une fin aux déplacements forcés. Si la communauté internationale ne réagit pas, ce nettoyage ethnique à petit feu est susceptible de s'accélerer dans les prochains mois.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
(c) Anne Paq/Activestills.org, Anata, 25.01.2012
Arabiya Shawamreh and her husband Salim stand in front of the ruins of their house called Beit Arabiya (“Arabiya’s House”) that the Israeli authorities demolished on Monday, January 23rd during the night for the fifth time are seen in the West Bank city of Anata, Wednesday, January 25, 2012. Beit Arabiya is a home belonging to Arabiya Shawamreh, her husband Salim and their seven children, a Palestinian family whose home has been demolished four times by the Israeli authorities and rebuilt each time by Israeli committee against house demolition (ICAHD) through Palestinian, Israeli and international peace activists, before being demolished again last night. It had been turned for years into a community center. The same night, 7 other homes were demolished in Anata, living more than 50 Palestinians homeless. More info in ICAHD.
In the next days, starting tomorrow, volunteers will gather to help the communities rebuilding the houses. To exist is to resist!
Arabiya Shawamreh et son mari Salim se tiennent debout devant les ruines de leur maison appelée Beit Arabiya ("Maison d'Arabiya») que les autorités israéliennes ont démoli pour la cinquième fois le lundi, 23 Janvier pendant la nuit dans la ville d'Anata en Cisjordanie, mercredi,25 Janvier, 2012. Beit Arabiya est une maison appartenant à Arabiya Shawamreh, son mari, Salim et leurs sept enfants, une famille palestinienne dont la maison avait déjà été démolie quatre fois par les autorités israéliennes et reconstruite à chaque fois par le comité israélien contre la démolition de maisons (ICAHD) grâce à des militants palestiniens, israéliens et internationaux pour la paix, avant d'être démolie à nouveau la nuit dernière. Cette maison avait été transformée pendant des années en un centre communautaire. La même nuit, sept autres maisons ont été démolies à Anata, laissant plus de 50 Palestiniens sans abri. Plus d'infos sur le site d' ICAHD.
Dans les prochains jours, à compter de demain, des bénévoles vont se joindre aux résidents pour aider les communautés à reconstruire leurs maisons. Exister, c'est résister!
(c) Anne Paq/Activestills.org, Anata, 25.01.2012
Members of the community of the Arab Jahalin are seen near tents provided by the International Committe of the Red Cross after that the Israeli authorities demolished on Monday, January 23rd during the night 6 of their homes in the West Bank city of Anata, Wednesday, January 25, 2012. In total more than 50 Palestinians become homeless. The community has started to rebuild some shelters right away.
More than 2000 members of the Arab Jahalin, which belong to the biggest Bedouin tribe in the West Bank, living primarily in the areas around Jeusalem, are threatened with forced displacement.
Les membres de la communauté bédouine Arab Jahalin sont vus près des tentes fournies par le Comité international de la Croix-Rouge (CICR) après que les autorités israéliennes aient démoli le lundi 23 Janvier durant la nuit 6 de leurs habitations à la périphérie de la ville d'Anata en Cisjordanie le mercredi 25 Janvier 2012. Au total, plus de 50 Palestiniens sont devenus sans abri. La communauté a commencé à reconstruire des abris immédiatement.
Plus de 2000 membres des Jahalin, qui appartiennent à la tribu bédouine la plus grande de Cisjordanie, vivant principalement dans les zones autour de Jerusalem, sont menacés de déplacement forcé.
(c) Anne Paq/Activestills.org, Anata, 25.01.2012
Alia Fouad Lahali is seen in front of the ruins of her home demolished by the Israeli authorities on January 23rd during the night in the West Bank city of Anata, Wednesday, January 25, 2012. The same night, 7 other homes were demolished in another part of Anata, leaving in total more than 50 Palestinians homeless.
Alia Fouad Lahali se tient devant les ruines de sa maison démolie par les autorités israéliennes le 23 Janvier pendant la nuit dans la ville de Cisjordanie d'Anata, mercredi, Janvier 25, 2012. La même nuit, sept autres maisons ont été démolies dans une autre partie d'Anata, laissant au total plus de 50 Palestiniens sans abri.
Monday, January 23, 2012
Palestinian students on hunger strike at Bethlehem university / des étudiants en gréve de la faim à l'université de Bethléem, 23.01.2012
(c) Anne Paq/Activestills.org, Behlehem, 23.01.2012.
This is a post by Linah Alsaafin ( about the student of Birzeit university, she is making good points:
Last week on Tuesday the 17th, a number of students from Birzeit University protested the totalitarian fixtures regarding tuition costs and financial measures introduced at the start of the second semester, which left 1200 students unable to continue their education because of the expensive costs. Dozens walked inside the administrative building, and were subsequently locked in by security. Thus, #OccupyBZU was commenced.
One of my main problems with my time at Birzeit University was the lack of any concrete student activism, overtaken instead by the simulated scenes and atmosphere of a US high school as shown in Hollywood movies. That's all fine and dandy since not everyone wants to be at the forefront of tackling social change or even challenging Captain Israel to an arm-wrestling match, but when the circumstances are crying out for it, there is no excuse left to remain passive. The glory days of BZU were during the first intifada, the late 80's to the early 90's, where students were largely involved in peaceful resistance against the Israeli military occupation. One such demonstration was attending classes in empty buildings in defiance of Israeli military orders. Students were one of the important driving forces behind the mass protests and civil disobedience in Palestinian society. That of course didn't come without its sacrifices; another name for Birzeit University is the Martyrs' University/ جامعةالشهداء due to its thirteen students killed by Israel.
The Oslo Accords can be explained as the reason for the students' growing detachment from politics, despite the student parties within the university itself being derivatives of Palestinian political parties. The second intifada ushered in armed resistance as the primary method of response against Israel's increasingly unbearable occupation, which contrary to the first intifada, isolated sectors of the Palestinian society from being a true popular uprising. Coordination with the other eight universities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip became more difficult. Factionalism reared its ugly face following the US backed civil fighting between Hamas and Fateh back in 2006. Politics on campus became repressive, and used as a platform to trash talk the rival party. Some male students belonging to Hamas' Kutla Islamiyeh bloc were imprisoned by the Palestinian Authority. Instead of the students of the Fateh university Shabeeba group demanding their release, the act was further augmented by incendiary accusations and wholehearted support. These antics only managed to alienate a large number of students who find no representative as they are not affiliated to any political student party, and "student activism" took the role of proudly parroting each respective party's propaganda.
The above serves as an explanation for the disillusionment concerning the possibility for any meaningful act to take place on campus. These protests against financial matters are hardly news. In fact, it is the norm at the beginning of every single semester. They always take the same cycle: Students protest, each student political party writes up a statement, get out their best throaty orator backed with factional music, and proceed to threaten the university's administration with calls of prolonged strikes. The whole thing lasts for a week, with actions escalating then diminishing as fast as if they never happened, without any success achieved. The same Spartan students go from building to building, classroom to classroom, informing the other students that classes have been suspended for the day, right under the nose of the professor. They order the students to leave the classrooms, leave the building, and join them in a demonstration in front of the administration building. Hardly anyone listens, and see this as an opportunity to hang out with friends. The buildings then get put on lock down for an indefinite time period, even if there are students and professors inside. Tires are burned at the gates of the university, the gates themselves get locked with chains brought from who knows where, and the student portal Ritaj becomes useless as it doesn't give out updates for whether there will be classes on this day or not.
The point is that these drastic actions serve as a cry for attention, as their repetitive nature hardly achieve whatever demands the student parties champion out through the state of the art loudspeakers. But Tuesday, January the 17th excited a lot of people, myself included because it was the first time students staged a sit-in overnight. The following morning, more details began to emerge and were shared on Twitter.
- For every student to have the chance to pay his or her tuition in money installments throughout the semester, especially students who have previous debts and did not have the chance to register for this semester, and for them to register on the back of what they could pay according to their financial status, and to pay the rest of the tuition throughout the semester.
- To give preferential treatment to students with special and social needs and students who were prisoners in Israeli jails, and for them to register with ease through what is mentioned in point number one.
- For the university to restart the system of accepting cheques as a form of money installments or at least to find a new mechanism for paying tuition costs as agreed upon by the students and the administration.
- To give scholarships to sibling students without going through the bureaucratic ladder, regardless of whether these students have already received financial aid or not.
- To conduct a thorough survey among all students in order to see who is eligible for financial aid. This way financial aid will not go to students who don't need it, which has posed as an obstacle to the students who are in actual need.
- To open the registration for classes (add/drop week) especially for students who were late in paying their tuition as stipulated in point number one, and to open sections
- To reconsider the policy of transferring from one major to the next, which grows more complicated without any justification, without affecting the academic and educational level of the university.
- To not give elevated courses to inexperienced or newly graduated teachers and to preserve the quality of academic level
The administration suspended classes last Tuesday, saying it could not ensure students' safety on campus because of the protests, which have included all-night sit-ins.
The student senate, which is leading the protest, said it had tried to end the crisis by offering the university 40,000 Jordanian dinars ($56,400) from the Fatah movement to exempt students from tuition fee increases. It said the university had not responded to the initiative.
Instead of treating symptoms, the source of the sickness must be treated first. Birzeit students may have succeeded in achieving their financial demands, but what about the cause for the rise in tuition costs? It's not all down to the university's miserliness. The Palestinian Authority is in debt, plain and simple. It has done absolutely nothing to build and sustain a homegrown economy, relying instead on overwhelming foreign donor money. Austerity measures have recently been introduced, with citizens required to pay a minimum of a 5% tax increase and a maximum of 30%. The PA takes the billions of dollars it is granted by governments, and hardly invests them in community building projects or in Palestinian society in general, unless you count the mushrooming number of bars and expensive restaurants that cater to the elite. Dissolving the PA would pop the bubble of normalcy under occupation, and there'd be a good chance of Palestinians of finally realizing that their houses, cars, laptops-all on loans- and lifestyles they cannot afford are worth nothing while they are still under Israeli occupation.
So I call on all students in the West Bank to rise up, first against the parasitical PA, then against the occupation once and for all.
Daily life under occupation: Qalandiya checkpoint / Vie quotidienne sous occupation militaire: checkpoint de Qalandiya, 21.01.2012
(c) Anne Paq/Activestills.org, Qalandiya checkpoint, 21.01.2012
When I saw the queue inside Qalandiya checkpoint, I just turned around. I just could not bear the thought of being stuck between narrow bars, in the cold. Occupation sucks even more when the weather is miserable.
I am privileged, I am a foreigner and I can leave whenever I want. I had also an alternative way to go to Bethlehem through the back road- 80km longer in kilometers but shorter in time.
I remember Qalandiya checkpoint when I first visited Palestine in 2003, it was only a few road blocks. Now a hill had been leveled so that the Israelis can build one of these huge terminal. It just keeps expanding. The Wall on each side was also completed. It has become the main access to Jerusalem from the North of the West Bank. Huge traffic jam is routine. Sellers, including small children, are trying to make a few shekels a day to bring back to their families. Israeli soldiers are almost unseen, they bark from their bullet proof boots or are hidden in military towers.
The place is just an embodiment of the ugliness of the occupation, a place where the occupier wants to assert its authority over the oppressed. In winter, this is even less bearable.
Quand j'ai vu la file d'attente à l'intérieur de checkpoint de Qalandiya, j'ai juste fait demi-tour après avpir pris quelques photos. Je ne pouvais pas supporter l'idée d'être coincée une nouvelle fois entre les barres étroites, dans le froid. L'occupation est encore plus insupportable quand le temps est misérable.
Je suis privilégiée, je suis un étrangere et je peux partir quand je veux. J'avais aussi une autre façon d'aller à Bethléem par une autre route: 80 km et donc plus longue mais au final plus court en temps.
Je me souviens du checkpoint de Qalandiya la première fois que j'ai visitée la Palestine en 2003, il y avait seulement que quelques blocs de béton. Maintenant une colline a été complêtement nivelée afin que les Israéliens puissent construire un de ces terminaux énorme. Il ne cesse de s'étendre. Le Mur de chaque côté a également été achevé.
Qalandiya est devenu le principal point d'accès à Jérusalem pour tous les Palestiniens du nord de la Cisjordanie. D'énormes embouteillages sont le lot quotidien de milliers de Palestiniens. Des vendeurs, y compris les petits enfants, essayent de se faire quelques shekels par jour pour ramener à leurs familles en passant le long des voitures, esperant que des vitres vont se baisser. Les soldats israéliens sont presque invisibles, ils sont calfeutrés dans leurs cabines à l'epreuve des balles ou sont cachés dans les tours militaires.
L'endroit incarne toute la laideur de l'occupation, un lieu où l'occupant veut affirmer son autorité sur les opprimés. En hiver, cette laideur est encore moins supportable.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Protest against the renewed negociations / Manifestation contre la reprise des negociations entre le PLO et Israel, ramallah, 21.01.2012
(c) Anne Paq/Activestills.org, Ramallah, 21.01.2012.
Nevertheless, the group Palestinians With Dignity have been quick to issue another statement out, calling for another protest this Saturday the 21st. It is clear that these protests are not reactionary, and will continue until all negotiations between the occupied and the occupier cease once and for all. Last week saw the arrest of a young man who participated in the protest by the PA security forces. He was attacked and interrogated before being released.
In a true and classical behavior that characterizes Arab repressive governments who are merely puppets of western interests, will violence against protesters by the PA escalate?
Below is the statement [emphasis not mine], with a link to a petition against negotiations at the bottom:
Last Saturday 14th of January, we stood in silence in front of the Presidential Compound (Muqata’a) in Ramallah demanding the immediate stop of the bilateral negotiations between Saeb Erekat and Yitzhak Molcho in Amman. The bitter cold did not stop us from protesting against the return to these fruitless talks. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) has retreated from its earlier position that they will not return to negotiations, until settlement expansion is halted and all the political prisoners were released; this represents the bare minimum demands of the Palestinian people.Palestinian tweeps on the ground will be using the hashtag #No2negotiations for live updates.
The PLO’s reneging on their promise to the Palestinian people and their return to negotiations implies that the leadership accepts the continued theft and seizure of Palestinian lands, legitimizes the ever-going attacks of the settlers, and furthermore undermines the Palestinian people in whole.
As Palestinians youth, we do not see any benefits from these futile negotiations. We have grown weary of representatives that don’t represent us, a national consensus that does not include us, and an implied future pseudo-state that does not guarantee our rights; specifically the rights of the majority of Palestinians who are refugees and live in exile.
It appears that our message last Saturday fell on deaf ears. The Palestinian leadership is still moving forward with negotiations, despite the Israeli occupation’s expansion of illegal colonies in the West Bank, the continued siege on Gaza, and Israel’s continued practice of the crime of Apartheid against Palestinians.
Nevertheless, we have not been deterred from acting. We demand the Palestinian leadership bears its responsibility in defying all sources of foreign pressure to return to negotiations. Instead of pursuing negotiations at this moment in time, we are in need of a resistance-based strategy. A strategy that begins with the unification of Palestinians and the political, economic, cultural and academic boycott of the apartheid state of Israel. We unequivocally demand that our leadership invests in its people, because when unified, together we can alter the balance of power to our favor.
On Saturday, January 21st at 1 PM we will again protest at the doorsteps of the Presidential Compound (Muqata’a). Join us on Saturday, and let us together stand tall with dignity and full of pride until our demands are met.
Show your support by signing the following petition against negotiations:
Palestinians for Dignity
Un groupe d'activistes palestiniens ont organisé pour la deuxième fois une manifestation contre la reprise des négociations entre l'OLP et Israël qui se déroule à Amman par des rencontres prévues entre Saeb Erekat et son homologue israélien Yitzhak Molcho.
Ces rencontres sont vues comme un recul de l'OLP qui avait assuré qu'il ne serait pas question de négocier tant qu'Israël continue à étendre les colonies. La semaine dernière un des participants à la manifestations avait été arrêté après la manifestation et interrogé pendant plusieurs heures par les forces de sécurité palestiniennes.
Friday, January 20, 2012
(c) Anne Paq/Activestills.org, Al Ma'sara, 20.01.2012.
The demonstration was again stopped by the Israeli soldiers who closed the main entrance to Al Masara and other villages, preventing the protesters to reach the lands which had been grabbed for the building of the Wall, on 20.01.2012.
The Israeli soldiers pushed back violently some Palestinians who attempted to pass their line. After speeches during which the Israeli soldiers were asked to 'look at themselves in a mirror", the demonstrators ended the protest.
The demonstration occurred after a certain number of arrests of some of the organizers, two of them have still legal proceedings against them. One of the concerns is also the recent announcement by the Israeli authorities of the installation of a gate at the entrance of the village, that gate will prevent the inhabitants of reaching road 60, and then will further isolate those communities.
Palestinians from Al Ma'sara, together with internationals and Israeli supporters started their demonstrations in 2005.
La marche des manifestants a été une nouvelle fois bloquée par les soldats israéliens qui avaient fermé l'entrée principale de Al Masara et des autres villages, empêchant ainsi les manifestants d'atteindre les terres qui ont été spoliées par Israël pour la construction du Mur, le 20.01.2012.
Les soldats israéliens ont violemment repoussé certains Palestiniens qui tentaient de passer leur ligne. Après les discours pendant lesquels les soldats israéliens ont été invités à «se regarder dans un miroir», les manifestants ont mis fin à la protestation.
La manifestation a eu lieu après un certain nombre d'arrestations de certains des organisateurs, deux d'entre eux ont encore des poursuites judiciaires contre eux. Une des préoccupations est aussi l'annonce récente par les autorités israéliennes de l'installation d'une barrière à l'entrée du village, ce nouveau obstacle à la liberté de circulation servirait d' empécher les habitants d'atteindre la route 60, ce qui les isoleraient encore davantage.
Les Palestiniens de Al Ma'sara, avec des internationaux et des israéliens ont commencé leurs manifestations en 2005.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
The VIPs' hush money
It's no coincidence that a group of young Palestinians now organizing protests in the West Bank against a return to negotiations is called 'Palestinians for Dignity.'By Amira Hass
Two people signed the entry permit into Israel that Mahmoud Abbas received from Israel's Civil Administration on January 1 (and which will be in force until March 1 ): 1st Lt. Noy Mitzrafi, commander of the permits office, and Lt. Col. Wissam Hamed, a department head in the Israel Defense Forces' operations directorate. It is this limited permit that Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president and PLO chairman, complained of receiving instead of his normal VIP permit during a closed meeting of his Fatah faction.
The permit also states that Abbas lives in the Gaza Strip (where, as is well known, he has not set foot since 2007 ); that he is "allowed to go into Israel, except for Eilat, and into the Judea and Samaria region [i.e. the West Bank]," but not to drive a car in Israel. It states that his reason for entry is that he is "a senior PA official"; that he may stay overnight only in the West Bank or Gaza, even though the permit is in force from 00:00 to 00:00 (midnight to midnight ). Also, it says he is allowed to move about without a magnetic ID card, but the permit is "valid despite the [security] prevention" - meaning the Shin Bet security service registers him as a security menace, but the permit is given as a gesture of kindness.
The PA says a few dozen other senior officials have also been stripped of their VIP permits since mid-2011 as punishment for the PA's application for admission to the United Nations as a member state. But regarding Abbas' permit, a spokesman for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories insisted that this was purely a technical error.
Contrary to the interpretation that this was an intentional humiliation of Abbas, for once it's actually believable that this was a mere technical error. Humiliation is part of the system's DNA, and the clerks who implement the system imbibe the techniques of humiliation from the day they enter the army - until they view them as immutable laws of nature.
So what's surprising is neither the error nor the humiliation. What's surprising is that the PA hasn't long since, of its own initiative, renounced this dubious privileged status that the Civil Administration gives its senior officials.
After 17 years of experience, it's not hard to conclude that these ludicrous privileges are an inseparable part of the mechanism of oppression. To be astonished, it's enough to imagine the senior Palestinian official begging the Israeli clerk from COGAT to restore his own and his colleagues' VIP status. Or to be awed by how successful the wizards of the occupation have been at taming the leaders of the colonized with tempting scraps.
On the other hand, there's nothing to be astonished at. Collaborating with the humiliation inherent in VIP status conferred by the occupier is part of the PA's whole concept. Its senior officials lavish praise in their speeches on "popular resistance" (as the preferred alternative to taking up arms ). But in the very sphere where they could easily engage in civil disobedience of their own, they don't do it.
One damning example of this appears in the European Union's report on Area C, the part of the West Bank that is under full Israeli control. The report states explicitly that the PA has neglected Area C (62 percent of the West Bank ) in its national plans and paid very little attention to the population that inhabits it. As one European diplomat undiplomatically told Haaretz: "The PA is asking us for donations to build another luxury building in Ramallah, not for initiatives in Area C." The symbols of power and the comforts of luxury in Ramallah come a priori at the expense of a possible tactic for altering the balance of power with Israel.
Every senior PA official knows that his superiors' acquiescence in resuming negotiations with Israel, preserving the occupation's order in Area C and continuing security coordination with Israel grant him some respite from the foreign rule's routine harassments, a respite denied to rank-and-file Palestinians. The VIP's permit is the hush money he receives for his accomodation with the status quo.
This is by definition a poor opening position to be in vis-a-vis Israel. Even worse, it's a poor opening position to be in vis-a-vis the Palestinian public. It's no coincidence that a group of young Palestinians now organizing protests in the West Bank against a return to negotiations is called "Palestinians for Dignity."
Welcome to the world’s first bunker state ~ by Jonathan Cook
By Jonathan Cook, www.jkcook.net – 18 Jan 2012
Room for Jews only in Israel’s ‘villa in the jungle’
Nazareth – The wheel is turning full circle. Last week the Israeli parliament updated a 59-year-old law originally intended to prevent hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees from returning to the homes and lands from which they had been expelled as Israel was established.
The purpose of the draconian 1954 Prevention of Infiltration Law was to lock up any Palestinian who managed to slip past the snipers guarding the new state’s borders. Israel believed only savage punishment and deterrence could ensure it maintained the overwhelming Jewish majority it had recently created through a campaign of ethnic cleansing.
Fast-forward six decades and Israel is relying on the infiltration law again, this time to prevent a supposedly new threat to its existence: the arrival each year of several thousand desperate African asylum seekers.
As it did with the Palestinians many years ago, Israel has criminalised these new refugees – in their case, for fleeing persecution, war or economic collapse. Whole families can now be locked up, without a trial, for three years while a deportation order is sought and enforced, and Israelis who offer them assistance risk jail sentences of up to 15 years.
Israel’s intention is apparently to put as many of these refugees behind bars as possible, and dissuade others from following in their footsteps.
To cope, officials have approved the building of an enormous detention camp, operated by Israel’s prison service, to contain 10,000 of these unwelcome arrivals. That will make it the largest holding facility of its kind in the world – according to Amnesty International, it will be three times bigger than the next largest, in the much more populous, and divine retribution-loving, US state of Texas.
Israeli critics of the law fear their country is failing in its moral duty to help those fleeing persecution, thereby betraying the Jewish people’s own experiences of suffering and oppression. But the Israeli government and the large majority of legislators who backed the law – like their predecessors in the 1950s – have drawn a very different conclusion from history.
The new infiltration law is the latest in a set of policies fortifying Israel’s status as the world’s first “bunker state”- and one designed to be as ethnically pure as possible. The concept was expressed most famously by an earlier prime minister, Ehud Barak, now the defence minister, who called Israel “a villa in the jungle”, relegating the country’s neighbours to the status of wild animals.
Barak and his successors have been turning this metaphor into a physical reality, slowly sealing off their state from the rest of the region at astronomical cost, much of it subsidised by US taxpayers. Their ultimate goal is to make Israel so impervious to outside influence that no concessions for peace, such as agreeing to a Palestinian state, need ever be made with the “beasts” around them.
The most tangible expression of this mentality has been a frenzy of wall-building. The best-known are those erected around the Palestinian territories: first Gaza, then the areas of the West Bank Israel is not intending to annex – or, at least, not yet.
The northern border is already one of the most heavily militarised in the world – as Lebanese and Syrian protesters found to great cost last summer when dozens were shot dead and wounded as they approached or stormed the fences there. And Israel has a proposal in the drawer for another wall along the border with Jordan, much of which is already mined.
The only remaining border, the 260km one with Egypt, is currently being closed with another gargantuan wall. The plans were agreed before last year’s Arab revolutions but have gained fresh impetus with the overthrow of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak.
Israel is not only well advanced on the walls of the bunker; it is also working round the clock on the roof. It has three missile-defence systems in various stages of development, including the revealingly named “Iron Dome”, as well as US Patriot batteries stationed on its soil. The interception systems are supposed to neutralise any combination of short and long-range missile attacks Israel’s neighbours might launch.
But there is a flaw in the design of this shelter, one that is apparent even to its architects. Israel is sealing itself in with some of the very “animals” the villa is supposed to exclude: not only the African refugees, but also 1.5 million “Israeli Arabs”, descendants of the small number of Palestinians who avoided expulsion in 1948.
This has been the chief motive for the steady stream of anti-democratic measures by the government and parliament that is rapidly turning into a torrent. It is also the reason for the Israeli leadership’s new-found demand that the Palestinians recognise Israel’s Jewishness; its obsessions with loyalty; and the growing appeal of population exchange schemes.
In the face of the legislative assault, Israel’s Supreme Court has grown ever more complicit. Last week, it sullied its reputation by upholding a law that tears apart families by denying tens of thousands of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship the right to live with their Palestinian spouse in Israel – “ethnic cleansing” by other means, as leading Israeli commentator Gideon Levy noted.
Back in the early 1950s, the Israeli army shot dead thousands of unarmed Palestinians as they tried to reclaim property that had been stolen from them. These many years later, Israel appears no less determined to keep non-Jews out of its precious villa.
The bunker state is almost finished, and with it the dream of Israel’s founders is about to be realised.
Jonathan Cook won the 2011 Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.
A version of this article originally appeared in The National, published in Abu Dhabi.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Mahmoud Abu Rahma, a human rights advocate attacked by masked men in Gaza / Mahmoud Abu Rahma, un defenseur des droits humains attaqués à Gaza
(c) Photo by: Anne Paq/Activestills.org, Mahmoud Abu Rahma; Al Mezan Center, Gaza, archive photo August 2010.
I am really shocked to hear the news that Mahmoud Abu Rahma, a known human rights advocate in Gaza who works in Al Mezan Center was stabbed by masked men for having written an article demanding accountability for resistance groups and the government and better protection for people. He was even called a collaborator. Mahmoud and Al Mezan have been working tirelessly on behalf of the Palestinians for years through research and advocacy, denouncing human rights abuse and calling for accountability irrespectively of the identity of the perpetrators.
I know Mahmoud, he was very helpful and welcoming when I was in Gaza and he helped me a lot to better understand the situation. I hope he will have a speedy recovery to be able to continue his essential work. I am afraid that this means that the situation has become even worse in Gaza than last time I visited about one year ago. Can we really expect otherwise when we know how are the conditions in Gaza, when people are squizzed in this tiny piece of land, locked from every side, under constant attack and without any perspective of development? This is of course not to justify any gross human rights violations, including freedom of expression which is for the least we can say often under attack- either in the West bank or Gaza.
Lets stand in solidarity with Mahmoud and all the human rights defenders and activists who fight oppression whenever it comes from!
Here is a link to the article "The gap between resistance and governance" that Mahmoud wrote earlier and that provoked the attack.
Here is the press release of Adalah in solidarity with Mahmoud:
17 January 2012
Open Letter from Adalah to our colleagues at Al Mezan in Gaza condemning the violent attacks against Mahmoud Abu Rahma
We were shocked to hear today about the recent violent attacks over the past two weeks against our colleague Mahmoud Abu Rahma, the international relations director of Al Mezan and an internationally known human rights defender.
We condemn these cowardly attacks. We further condemn the campaign to prevent Mahmoud from voicing his opinion and ideas, and from continuing his work in support of the human rights of Palestinians. We view these attacks as a deplorable attempt to silence Mahmoud and his legitimate struggle to secure a human rights culture in the Gaza Strip.
Adalah's staff and Board of Directors express our deep solidarity with Mahmoud and Al Mezan. We stand against the threats and intimidation that Mahmoud has been subjected to in recent weeks. We also call on the security services in Gaza to find the offenders and hold them accountable, and we wish Mahmoud a full and speedy recovery.
Press release of Al Mezan:
Je suis vraiment choquée d'apprendre que Mahmoud Abu Rahma, un défenseur éminent des droits humains qui travaille dans le Centre Al Mezan a été poignardé par des hommes masqués à plusieurs reprises pour avoir écrit un article demandant que groupes de résistance et le gouvernement soient tenus responsables pour des dommages causés aux civils et une meilleure protection des personnes. Il a même été appelé un collaborateur. Mahmoud et Al Mezan ont travaillé sans relâche au nom des Palestiniens depuis des années par la recherche et le travail de plaidoyer, dénonçant les abus des droits et appelant à la responsabilité quel que soit l'identité des auteurs des crimes commis.
J'ai rencontré Mahmoud lors de mon dernier séjour à Gaza; il a été extrêmement accueillant et m'a beaucoup aidé dans mes démarches et à mieux comprendre la situation. Des attaques de ce type ne font que renforcer mon sentiment d'une détérioration dans la bande de Gaza. Peut-on s'attendre à autre chose lorsqu'on sait que la petite bande de terre, surpeuplée est complètement fermée de toute part sans perspectives de développement? Cela ne justifie bien sûr en aucun cas les violations des droits humains, et notamment la liberté d'expression qui il faut le dire est souvent circonscrite, en Cisjordanie comme dans la bande de Gaza.
Montrons nous solidaires de Mahmoud, de tous les défenseurs des droits humains et des militants qui combattent l'oppression, peu importe d'où elle vient.