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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Palestinian Christians Given Short Shrift by U.S. Christian Zionists

Texas Governor and aspiring Republican Presidential nominee Rick Perry has repeatedly attracted attention with a series of pronouncements on foreign policy pertaining to Israel. This behavior stems from Perry’s affinity for Christian Zionism, a highly influential strain of thought within large swaths of the conservative Protestant population in the United States. They see Israel as fulfilling crucial elements of the end-times scenario as depicted in the Biblical book of Revelations. Christian Zionism has steadily gained the support of many influential members of the clergy, who donate large amounts of money and other efforts to support the Zionist cause, and perhaps more importantly, place political pressure on the U.S. government to support the agenda of right-wing elements within Israel. Perry in particular is known to be close to pastor John Hagee, who rose to prominence primarily due to his Zionist activism.
Christian Zionism has a great many critics, but rarely does anyone point out the cognitive dissonance the Christian Zionists are ignoring, namely that Zionism kills, injures, and displaces Christians. Though their communities have dwindled in size, tens of thousands of Christians live in the Palestinian territories. When Israel’s “security barrier” seizes Palestinian land, and Israeli settlers divert water supplies for their own use, this harms Christian well-being. When Israeli authorities prevent Palestinians from travelling, Christians cannot go to work, school, or religious sites. When Israel launches air strikes into the Gaza Strip, this kills, maims, and impoverishes Christians. Unsurprisingly, in December of 2009 leaders of the Palestinian Christian community issued a statement known as the “Kairos Palestine Document,” in which they called Israel’s policies a “sin against God,” and asked for an international boycott of Israel.
Similarly, Christian Zionists unfailingly endorse Israel’s wars, despite the damage to the sizable Christian communities in Israel’s opponents. Christians were participants on both sides of the Lebanese Civil War, in which Israel intervened by invading in 1982. In the 2006 war, Lebanon’s Christians suffered heavy casualties due to Israeli attacks. The Christian communities of Jordan and Syria are well-integrated into their societies, and while Egypt’s Christians are in a precarious position with the Muslim majority, the fact remains that any conflict with these countries would likely cause serious harm to their Christian populations, as has happened before.
Furthermore, Israel’s own Christians, numbering over 100,000, are essentially second-class citizens. While they may be better off in some ways than the Arabs of neighboring countries, the fact remains that they are treated worse than Israeli Jews in matters of education, the rule of law, immigration, housing, and other elements of civil rights. Surveys indicate a toxic environment of racist attitudes, manifesting itself in substantially worse economic indicators for Israel’s Arab citizens, Christian and Muslim alike.
The same question arose when evangelical American Christians were the staunchest supporters of the invasion of Iraq, a war which dealt severe, possibly catastrophic, damage to that country’s Christian community: Why do so many American Christians support, for religious reasons, policies that are devastating to the Christians of the Middle East? 
Scott Charney is an intern at Foreign Policy in Focus.

Israel: Building in East Jerusalem non-negotiable

Oct 2, 2011, 10:17 GMT

Jerusalem - Israel's ongoing building projects in East Jerusalem are non-negotiable, the country's deputy premier said Sunday, despite international criticism that construction in the disputed city is impeding peace talks with the Palestinians.
Silvan Shalom said Israel would continue to build in Jewish 'neighbourhoods' of Jerusalem, beyond the armistice line separating Israel from the occupied West Bank.
'Jerusalem has always been a place where construction has met with objections,' he told Israel Radio.
'These issues are being taken into consideration, but are outside any possibility to negotiate,' he said.
Israel last week announced plans to build 1,100 new housing units in Gilo, a part of Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem captured from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East War.
Israel regards it as a Jewish suburb of Jerusalem, the international community and the Palestinians as an illegal settlement.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel angrily condemned the decision in a Friday telephone call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The announcement of the building plans also came as the quartet of Middle East mediators - the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia - launched a fresh attempt to convince the sides to relaunch peace negotiations.

Hamas vows not to forget Palestinian prisoners

[ 02/10/2011 - 09:51 AM ]

DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Palestinian resistance group Hamas has hailed the Palestinian captives held in the Israeli prisons and vowed to be faithful to them until their release, as the prisoners have met challenges on the fifth day in a hunger strike.

In a statement on Saturday, Hamas held Israel fully responsible for the lives and safety of the prisoners and declared that Israel’s treatment of the prisoners would not break their resolve and that they would achieve full freedom.

The statement says that Hamas is considering Israel’s abuses against the prisoners in the Israeli prisons that have caused them to go on hunger strike and called on the Palestinians to declare solidarity with the prisoners.
Another statement by Hamas’s Change and Reform parliamentary bloc says that the continuance of the hunger strike in most of the Israeli prisons is evidence of the cruelty faced by the prisoners in the Israeli prisons and is also an expression of the strength of the prisoners’ will power and defiance of the prison administrations.

On Saturday, the Israeli prison administration carried out several raids in the Megiddo prison creating a state of high tension. Surprise incursions were also made in Ashkelon prison.

A special unit reinforced by Israeli forces that morning carried out several raids in a bid to curb protests by the prisoners, sources in the Megiddo prison told our correspondent.

The sources added that circumstances in the prison have become dire and there is consensus to strike back at the prison administrations, whatever the consequences.

In Ramon prison, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine prisoners who were on strike were dispersed in cells with other organizations in a step to break the open-ended hunger strike.

Abdullah Qindil, the media official of the Waed prisoner rights organization in the Gaza Strip, declared that all forms of support for the prisoners have become “a religious, national, moral, and humanitarian duty,” emphasizing that if the strike fails without achieving the prisoners’ objectives, the prison authority would render the prisoners “slaves who carry out orders and accept abuse without objection”.

US to punish Palestinians for UN bid

Sun Oct 2, 2011 5:32AM GMT

Palestinian children (file photo)
The US Congress has reportedly decided to withhold USD 200 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in response to Ramallah's bid for UN statehood.

The decision to freeze the payments was made by three congressional committees on August 18, prior to the PA's bid to win recognition of an independent Palestinian state at the United Nations in September, the Guardian reported on Saturday.

The money, intended to fund food aid, health care, and infrastructure projects, were supposed to have been transferred within the US financial year ending on Saturday.

The Palestinian Authority condemned the move and questioned Washington's outrage at the Palestinians' effort for an independent state on the borders prior to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories in 1967.

"It is another kind of collective punishment which is going to harm the needs of the public without making any positive contribution," PA spokesman Ghassan Khatib said.

"It is ironic to be punished for going to the United Nations," he added.

The US Agency for International Development has reduced its aid operations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, while some predict that the organization may halt its distribution of financial support to the Palestinian Authority by January.

On September 23, acting PA Chief Mahmud Abbas presented the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with the statehood proposal during the UN General Assembly's 66th annual session in New York.

Later in the day, the council met for only two minutes to discuss the request, despite its emergence as the focal point of the session.

The PA has reportedly secured the support of ten of the UNSC's membership with India, Nigeria, Gabon, and Bosnia most recently siding with the Palestinians on the issue.

However, the United States, among the Security Council's five permanent members, which have veto powers, has vowed to thwart the bid. France and the UK, other permanent UNSC members, had also urged Abbas not to go ahead with the initiative.

Tel Aviv's UN Ambassador Ron Prosor also acknowledged on Wednesday that the Israeli regime was working with the US to ensure that the UNSC members would either oppose the bid or abstain from voting.


Settlers 'steal 150 sheep' near Hebron

Published Saturday 01/10/2011 (updated) 02/10/2011 19:46

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Armed Israeli settlers seized 150 sheep from shepherds south of Hebron in the southern West Bank, a popular committee leader said.

Popular committee secretary-general Azmi Shoyoukhi told Ma'an that residents of Shima, a settlement east of al-Dhahiriya, stole sheep belonging to Faris Samamrah.

They took the sheep to Shima settlement after assaulting several shepherds and threatening to shoot them if they returned to the area, the local official said.

Meanwhile, other residents of the same settlement chopped down 10 olive trees belonging to Mousa Samamrah, Shouyoukhi said, adding that settlers destroyed 45 trees in the same field on Thursday.

Shouyoukhi said locals held a rally to protest the theft of the sheep, joined by Majdi Amr, director of the south Hebron office of the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Agriculture.

International and Israeli activists participated in the rally, and held a sit-in in the area where the sheep were stolen, waving Palestinian flags and chanting anti-settlement slogans. Protesters damaged water pipelines laid down by settlers in the area.

Israeli police and civil administration officers arrived and the sheep were released after representatives of the Red Cross intervened, Shouyoukhi said.

Earlier Saturday, Israeli settlers burned farmland south of Nablus in the northern West Bank, a Palestinian Authority official said.

Ghassan Doughlas, who monitors settler violence and vandalism, said land in the Einabus and Huwwara villages burned as the result of a fire set by residents of the illegal Yitzhar settlement.

The settlers had started a fire on the Einabus mountain but it spread to Huwwara, he said.

Residents of Yitzhar settlement also chopped down 45 olive trees belonging to Zakariyya Nassar and Muhammad al-Qitin in Madma village on Saturday, Doughlas said.

US Congress freezes 200 USD million USAID transferred to P.A

author Saturday October 01, 2011 14:00author by Alaa Ashkar - IMEMC & Agencies Report post
The US Congress decided to freeze 200 USD million of the USAID which are annually transferred to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the British newspaper, “The Independent” reported earlier on Saturday.
The US President, Barack Obama, had no discussion regarding imposing sanctions on the Palestinians by the USAID, but the Israeli lobby made this step although some Israeli and American officials rejected the step, expressing fears of the Palestinian reaction, the paper wrote.

The US spends some 600 USD million annually for the healthcare, education, security services including 50 USD million as a support to the PA government budget.

The paper criticized the Congress decision, claiming that it would affect both the Palestinians and Israelis “the US threats of using veto against the Palestinian application is not acceptable, and the Congress’ resolution is embarrassing as well,” added the paper.

The US former President, Bell Clinton, warned the congress to make such a move, stating that the body (congress), as every single body knows, is the closest US parliament body in favor of Israel, adding that it should not make such moves to improve that to the whole world, the paper quoted Clinton as saying.

Recently, the US Administration warned the Palestinian from going to the United Nations to request for a full membership at the International body, claiming that the only way to achieve peace and a two-state solution is through re-starting direct peace talks with Israel.

Earlier this month, the US Secretary of State officially declared that the US would veto the Palestinian-UN membership bid to exert pressure on the Palestinian Leader, Mahmoud Abbas, to void the Palestinian application.

On Sep 23rd, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, submitted the Palestinian-UN membership bid to the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, before delivering a speech to the UN General Assembly members later on that day.

On the other hand, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, delivered a speech the UN General Assembly right after Abbas’ speech on Sep 23rd, saying that Israel extends hand in peace to the Palestinians, but Palestinians rejected it.

Abbas is still confirming that no negotiations until Israel total freeze settlement activities and its violations against Palestinians alongside full withdrawal of Israeli army to the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as it is capital.

It is worth mentioning that the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks has been suspended since September 2010 after the two parties reached an impasse regarding borders, Jerusalem, refugees, security as well as the Israeli settlement construction on the lands of the Palestinians.

Israeli Settler Lynch in Anata – Sept 30, 2011 – in pictures & video


Will be updated as material comes available

Photo credits as mentioned or taken by @activestill @SJActionAlerts @Dustbowl_Pal (via twitter)
The morning of 30.9.11 few palestinians & israeli activists came to plant trees in an area of village Anata newly confiscated recently by the Jewish settlement of Anatot, a mass of settlers descended on them & beat them up brutally in a lynching style & abducted 2 Palestinian activists holding them prisoners in the settlement while other injured activists had to be treated in a hospital. An urgent demo against the settlements lynching mob attack on peaceful demonstrators was called in

Stavit Sinai
After being stripped nacked, beaten, spat on, linched and facing death – I finally know what to be a Palestinian is really like#AnatotLinch

Stavit Sinai
The army came to spread them around and take me out of the car not without threatening to arrest me #AnatotLinch

Stavit Sinai
The settlers came and started shaking the car. Spat on the windows, threatened to burn the car or putting it upside down#AnatotLinch

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