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Monday, December 19, 2011

Germany: Israel plan for new West Bank homes 'devastating' to peace

Published 19:24 19.12.11 Latest update 19:24 19.12.11

Comment by top aide to Chancellor Merkel comes after Housing Ministry publishes tenders for 1,028 homes to be built in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.

By The Associated Press and Haaretz 

Israel must refrain from constructing new settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, a top aide of German Chancellor Angela Merkal said on Monday, following Israel's announcement of over 1,000 new housing units beyond the Green Line. 

Merkel spokesperson Georg Streiter said that Israel's recent announcement that it would seek contractors to build apartments in both areas conveys "a devastating message with regard to the current efforts to resume peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians."

He said Germany "urgently calls on the Israeli government to refrain from inviting bids for the apartments." 

merkel - Emil Salman - October 2 2011 Chancellor Angela Merkel meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his office in January.
Photo by: Emil Salman

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been frozen for three years, in part because of continued Israeli settlement construction in the territories captured by Israel in 1967 and still claimed by the Palestinians. 

On Sunday, the Housing Ministry published tenders for 1,028 homes to be built in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, part of a plan to build 6,000 housing units throughout Israel. 

According to a statement by the ministry, 500 homes will be built in Har Homa in south Jerusalem, on land occupied during the 1967 Six Day War; 348 in the West Bank settlement of Betar Illit; and 180 in Givat Ze'ev, which lies between Jerusalem and Ramallah. 

This apparently marks another step taken by the Israeli government to punish the Palestinians for their successful effort to join UNESCO in October. 

The ministry estimates that construction will start at most of the sites within a year. 

Previous decisions by Israel to construct homes on land captured during the Six Day War have aroused anger among Palestinians, and been heavily criticized by the international community. 

In September, 1,100 new housing units were approved in Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood, prompting condemnation from around the world, including the United States and European Union.

Will Tanya Rosenblit’s stand lead to the desegregation of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem?

  • Published 16:59 19.12.11
  • Latest update 16:59 19.12.11

Rosenblit reminds me of Rosa Parks, who – together with Clifford Durr, Edgar Nixon and Jackie Robinson – led to the eventual racial desegregation of the United States.

By Josh Mintz 

There is a bar in Tel Aviv called Rosa Parks. It's a nice place, one renowned for its clientele of intellectually engaging young women. I went there not long ago with a friend of mine who was visiting Tel Aviv from London, who happens to be black. When he saw the name of the bar he jokingly asked the barman,

"So, do I have to sit at the back of the room then?"

Tanya Rosenblit Tanya Rosenblit
Photo by: Ilan Assayag

He got nothing but a blank look in response, the barman had no idea who the bar was named after, nor did he know her story.

That's changed now. The sex segregation of busses has become one of the hottest topics in Israeli domestic politics, coming to a head last week with the story of Tanya Rosenblit who refused to move to the back of a bus on the order of a religious Jewish man. Now she's being called 'The Israeli Rosa Parks.' She's not though, not yet anyway.

Rosa Parks was not the first African-American to take a stand against segregation, nor was she the best known, nor was the story of her protest the most unique. Nine months before Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat for a white person, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin was dragged off a bus in handcuffs for the crime of “seated while black.” Earlier still, in 1944 (three years before he would become the first black Major League Baseball player) Jackie Robinson was court-martialed for refusing to give up his seat on a bus to a white army officer.

Both of these other cases are far more exploitable, either due to the age or the celebrity of the accused, yet it was Rosa Parks: a middle-aged housekeeper and seamstress who we all remember. So, what was it about this seemingly regular woman that made her case the one that sparked the Montgomery bus boycott and turned the civil rights movement on its head, what made her story more compelling than that of a child or famous athlete?

The answer is a short and simple one: nothing. There was nothing that Parks did that those before her hadn't done, there was nothing in what she said that was new and she didn't represent any new demographic. What made Rosa Parks' action stand out so far among so many brave and principled people was the support she had from those around her, the work that she inspired others to do. Without her liberal white employer Clifford Durr representing her and joining with civil rights activist Edgar Nixon to bail her out of jail, Nixon would never have conferred with college professor Jo Ann Robinson and created the 35,000 leaflets in the space on one sleepless night that announced the Montgomery bus boycott. Without Nixon's influence, the Women's Political Council (of which Robinson was a member) would have never endorsed the boycott, lending it the legitimacy that it needed to take hold.

Although the names Durr, Nixon and Robinson are forgotten to history, it is they, just as much as Parks, who led to the eventual de-segregation of the United States.

Tanya Rosenblit has made her stand, but she wasn't the first. In 2006, Miriam Shear was slapped, kicked and punched by a group of Orthodox Jewish men on a Jerusalem bus for refusing to move to the back. Ester Scheiner spent weeks riding in the front of a segregated bus just to make the point.
For some reason, however, it is Tanya Rosenblit's story that has grabbed our attention. Just like Rosa Parks, she's an ordinary woman that just refused to move, and just like Claudette Colvin and Ester Scheiner, her actions will fade away if we don't galvanize around her and take a real stand. The enforced segregation of any public transport was outlawed by a Supreme Court ruling years ago, yet Tanya told the world that the policeman called to deal with her dispute didn't explain the law to the offending man, but rather asked an innocent and law-abiding woman to move.

Brave people can keep making stands, but this level of apathy will only lead to the continuation of the status quo. Tanya Rosenblit cannot do this alone, nor does it appear that she wants to. She needs her Durr, her Nixon and her Robinson. As a real and modern society, we need to take this as a call to arms, the rallying cry to crush this ridiculous practice where it stands.

Who knows, maybe one day I'll be visiting London and I'll grab a drink at a bar called Tanya's.
Josh Mintz is completing his degree in International Relations and Middle Eastern studies and is the communications director at Friend a Soldier, an NGO that encourages dialogue with IDF soldiers.

Poll: Ron Paul boots Gingrich out of top spot in Iowa

 Published 17:38 19.12.11 Latest update 17:38 19.12.11

The Public Policy Polling survey of 597 likely Republican caucus voters in Iowa found Paul, leading with 23 percent of the vote, followed by 20 percent for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and 14 percent for Gingrich.

By Reuters

Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich suffered a big drop in support in Iowa with Ron Paul taking the lead weeks before a key caucus in the state, according to a Democratic polling firm.

The Public Policy Polling telephone survey of 597 likely Republican caucus voters in Iowa found Paul, a congressman from Texas, leading with 23 percent of the vote, followed by 20 percent for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and 14 percent for Gingrich.

Ron Paul - Reuters - December 2011 Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Representative Ron Paul speaks as former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich looks on during a Republican debate in Sioux City, Iowa.
Photo by: Reuters

"Newt Gingrich's campaign is rapidly imploding and Gingrich has now seen a big drop in his Iowa standing two weeks in a row," the polling firm, which is affiliated with the Democratic Party, said in a statement.

Gingrich's share of the vote in the past two weeks has gone from 27 percent to 22 percent to 14 percent, in the latest poll, taken Dec 16-18, with a margin of error for the survey of plus or minus four points, it said.

Gingrich's personal favorability numbers also fell during the past fortnight from plus 31 to plus 12 to a minus 1 now among Iowa voters polled ahead of the Iowa caucus on Jan. 3, the polling firm said.

Among the other candidates in the race to oppose Democratic President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election bid, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry each received 10 percent of the votes, while 4 percent went for Jon Huntsman, and 2 percent for Gary Johnson, it said.

The libertarian-leaning Paul's unusual rise to the top of a poll comes amid a strong campaign in Iowa, the pollsters said. But they said his popularity depended heavily on the youth vote and he trailed both Romney and Gingrich among older voters.

Gingrich reached the top of the Republican field last month as the favored conservative alternative to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. But his front-runner status has prompted attacks from rivals that he is an unreliable conservative and influence peddler, particularly over fat fees he earned from Freddie Mac, a mortgage giant tied to the economic recession.

For Palestinians, memory matters. It provides a blueprint for their future

Posted by George Bisharat on May 15, 2007

Sunday, May 13, 2007 - San Francisco Chronicle 

Why do some people have the power to remember, while others are asked to forget? That question is especially poignant at this time of year, as we move from Holocaust Remembrance day in early spring to Monday's anniversary of Israel's declaration of independence on May 14, 1948.

In the months surrounding that date, Jewish forces expelled, or intimidated into flight, an estimated 750,000 Palestinians. A living, breathing, society that had existed in Palestine for centuries was smashed and fragmented, and a new society built on its ruins. Few Palestinian families lack a personal narrative of loss from that period -- an uncle killed, or a branch of the family that fled north while the others fled east, never to be reunited, or homes, offices, orchards and other property seized. Ever since, Palestinians worldwide have commemorated May 15 as Nakba (Catastrophe) Day.

No ethical person would admonish Jews to "forget the Holocaust." Indeed, recent decades have witnessed victims of that terrible era not only remembering, but also regaining paintings and financial assets seized by the Nazis -- and justifiably so.

Other victims of mass wrongs -- interned Japanese Americans, enslaved African Americans, and Armenians subjected to a genocide that may have later convinced Hitler of the feasibility of mass killings -- receive at least respectful consideration of their cases, even while responses to their claims have differed.

Yet in dialogues with Israelis, and some Americans, Palestinians are repeatedly admonished to "forget the past," that looking back is "not constructive" and "doesn't get us closer to a solution." Ironically, Palestinians live the consequences of the past every day -- whether as exiles from their homeland, or as members of an oppressed minority within Israel, or as subjects of a brutal and violent military occupation.

In the West we are amply reminded of the suffering of Jewish people in World War II. Our newspaper featured several stories on local survivors of the Nazi holocaust around Holocaust Remembrance Day (an Israeli national holiday that is widely observed in the United States). My daughter has read at least one book on the Nazi holocaust every year since middle school. Last year, in ninth grade English literature alone, she read three. But we seldom confront the impact of Israel's policies on Palestinians.

It is the "security of the Jewish people" that has rationalized Israel's takeover of Palestinian lands, both in the past in Israel, and more recently in the occupied West Bank. There, most Palestinian children negotiate one of the 500 Israeli checkpoints and other barriers to movement just to reach school each day. Meanwhile, Israel's program of colonization of the West Bank grinds ahead relentlessly, implanting ever more Israeli settlers who must be "protected" from those Palestinians not reconciled to the theft of their homes and fields.

The primacy of Jewish security over rights of Palestinians -- to property, education, health care, a chance to make a living, and, also to security -- is seldom challenged.

Unfortunately, remembering the Nazi Holocaust -- something morally incumbent on all of us -- has seemingly become entangled with, and even an instrument of, the amnesia some would force on Palestinians. Israel is enveloped in an aura of ethical propriety that makes it unseemly, even "anti-Semitic" to question its denial of Palestinian rights.

As Israeli journalist Amira Hass recently observed: "Turning the Holocaust into a political asset serves Israel primarily in its fight against the Palestinians. When the Holocaust is on one side of the scale, along with the guilty (and rightly so) conscience of the West, the dispossession of the Palestinian people from their homeland in 1948 is minimized and blurred."

What this demonstrates is that memory is not just an idle capacity. Rather, who can remember, and who can be made to forget, is, fundamentally, an expression of power.

Equally importantly, however, memory can provide a blueprint for the future -- a vision of a solution to seek, or an outcome to avoid. My Palestinian father grew up in Jerusalem before Israel was founded and the Palestinians expelled, when Muslims, Christians and Jews lived in peace and mutual respect. Recalling that past provides a vision for an alternative future -- one involving equal rights and tolerance, rather than the domination of one ethno-religious group over others.

Thus, what Palestinians are really being commanded is not just to forget their past, but instead to forget their future, too. That they will never do.

*George Bisharat is professor of law at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. He writes frequently about the Middle East.

Shu’fat: Forced to pay taxes from behind a checkpoint and wall – in pictures

by Jenna Bereld and Samar | 19 Dec 2011 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank

On December 18, 2011 residents of Shu’fat and activists protested against the separation wall in front of the new checkpoint. A certain loss of demonstrators was noted, since thirty-five organizers were arrested yesterday by Israeli policemen in their homes in the Shu’fat refugee camp in the middle of the night.

Forced to pay taxes from behind a wall – Click here for more images

The residents of Shu’fat are Israeli citizens. However, they cannot enjoy the privileges a citizenship normally includes. While the streets in the illegal settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev on the other side of the wall are clean and the municipal services are working, the Shu’fat streets are dirty and waste collection does not exist. Houses taller than two stories are illegal in East Jerusalem, so most houses here have demolition orders.

“All people in Shu’fat must pay taxes to Israel, and still the streets look like a third world country,” one of the demonstrators says.

“They are taking from the poor and give it to the wealthy,” another demonstrator says.

Shu’fat is a neighborhood in the north-east of Jerusalem, though separated from the rest of the city by the eight meters high concrete separation wall. The Palestinian population of 50,000 live more or less imprisoned in the neighborhood, forced to pass through a military checkpoint to reach the rest of Jerusalem. The checkpoint, comprising an observation tower, five stations for armed soldiers to search the cars, and the most recent surveillance technology, was inaugurated last week.

Starting on December 23, there will be weekly demonstrations in Shu’fat after the Friday prayer.
“We will come here to protest every week until this wall has fallen,” promises Jeff Halper from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

Jenna Bereld and Samar are volunteers with International Solidarity Movement (names have been changed).

The separation barrier, separating Shu'fat from the illegal settlement of Pisgat Ze'ev that can be seen behind the wall. According to a survey presented in the book "Negotiating Jerusalem" (Jerome M. Segal), as many as 57 percent of the Israeli Jews support the statement "In order to ensure a Jewish majority when asked, "Do you support or object to redefining the city limits so that Arab settlements and villages which are now within the borders of Jerusalem (such as Shuafat, Um Tuba, Zur Baher) will be outside the city?" | Photos by Sarah-International Solidarity Movement (2011)

Soldiers told the demonstrators to leave of "security reasons" | Photos by Sarah - International Solidarity Movement (2011)

To travel from Shu'fat to other parts of Jerusalem, everyone has to pass the newly built checkpoint and its armed Israeli occupation forces. | Photos by Sarah - International Solidarity Movement (2011)

The Shu'fat demonstration will from now on take place every week after the Friday prayer | Photos by Sarah - International Solidarity Movement (2011)

After the demonstration, Israeli soldiers entered the village of Shu'fat. The demonstrators told the soldiers to leave and called their presence "nothing but a provocation". | Photos by Sarah-International Solidarity Movement (2011)

Israeli occupation forces in the main street of Shu'fat, after the demonstration - Photos by Sarah - International Solidarity Movement

Young demonstrators stepping on the US flag. | Photos by Sarah-International Solidarity Movement (2011)

Source and much more at the ISM

Ugly Israeli Realities Emerge

by Stephen Lendman on December 19, 2011

On December 16, Haaretz writer Barak Ravid headlined, "Secret EU paper aims to tackle Israel's treatment of Arab minority," saying:

Haaretz obtained parts of "a classified working paper produced by European embassies in Israel...."


The "unprecedented document" addresses internal Israeli issues. It was written without Israel's knowledge. It also covers Israeli peace process intransigency, its self-characterization as a Jewish, democratic state, and how it treats its Arab population.

Removed from its final version were suggestions for EU action measures, including:
  • filing official protests each time discriminatory Arab bills pass second Knesset readings; and
  • ensuring all Arab towns have completed urban plans, "with each member state potentially 'adopting' a municipality to this end."
Developed over the past year, it was written for EU foreign ministers to debate, advise, consent, or object.

After failed efforts to achieve consensus, it was softened and designated a "food for thought" document, not a report.

Among other concerns, repressive occupation and failure to advance peace talks equitably leave Israeli Arabs especially marginalized and at risk. According to the document:
"The stalemate in the peace process, and the continuing occupation, inevitably has an impact on the identification of Israeli Arabs with Israel. It will be more difficult for (them) to be wholly at ease with their identity while the conflict with the Palestinians continues."
The document also urges EU member states discuss Jewish-Arab relations with Israel, stressing its obligation to resolve inequality issues.
"We do not believe that recognition of Israel as a Jewish State should detract in any way from the vision of equality for all its citizens enshrined in its founding documents."
"It is in the interests of all Israelis to demonstrate that Israel is not only Jewish and democratic (sic), but tolerant and inclusive, and that these are patriotic values. We believe in common with most Israelis that Israeli nationality is an inclusive concept which can accommodate equally those of other faiths and ethnic origins."
In other words, democratic credentials demand equality for all citizens, regardless of their faith, ethnicity, political views, or economic status. EU states know Israel fails on all counts.

More Evidence From Addameer.

A December 15 Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association report provides more evidence. Headlined, "Addameer Concerned About Wave of Arrests since First Phase of Prisoner Exchange," it states:

Since releasing 477 Palestinian political prisoners on October 18 in exchange for Gilad Shalit, a near identical number have been imprisoned.

It "reveals that the exchange deal has not deterred Israel's policy of" detaining Palestinians. Moreover, even released prisoners aren't safe. They're being harassed and threatened with rearrest for the slightest provocation or none at all.

Regularly, their homes are raided. They're summoned for interrogations, and their movements and activities are closely monitored. In many respects, they remain imprisoned without being behind bars or in forced isolation.

In addition, Israeli security forces pursue brutal arrest methods, including through musta'arabeen (undercover operatives) in Palestinian dress to ambush and arrest Palestinians from homes and workplaces.

In addition, joint middle-of-the-night army/intelligence raids occur, at which time Israeli forces deliberately destroy contents of homes raided.

Notably, human rights activists, PLC members, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and other occupation resistance figures are targeted.

"The arrests of human rights defenders, use of violence against peaceful protesters, and threats to family members of activists are in clear violation of Palestinians' right to freedom of expression and assembly."

As a result, Addameer expressed grave concerns for what's coming after the second prisoner release. Israel's Prison Service (IPS) said about 550 prisoners will be released on December 18, completing the agreed swap.

Addammer urged world leaders "to intervene rapidly to prevent Israel from its continued practice of brutal and arbitrary detention" very likely to follow in subsequent weeks.

Settler Violence Persists with Impunity

So is regular settler violence committed with impunity. On December 16, Haaretz writer Gili Cohen headlined, "IDF soldiers: Problem in West Bank isn't Palestinians, it's Jews," saying:

Regular and reserve soldiers, including junior officers, are speaking publicly about "having to protect the settlers while at the same time being attacked by them."

According to discharged soldier Nadav Bigelman:

"Our purpose there is to protect the Jews, but they generate many of the problems. It's very confusing. You understand pretty quickly what is going on, but it's not so clear what you are supposed to do about it."
"We never received an order telling us what to do when a Jewish boy throws stones at a Palestinian. Are we allowed to detain him or not? There's a gap between the battalion commander's instructions and what happens on the ground."

"It's the same people who bring you cake when you're going on guard at 2AM. What, are you going to arrest their kid when he throws stones the next day," or commits other forms of violence against Palestinians?

So-called "new instructions" dealing with settler rioters exist on paper but aren't enforced. What matters are personal relations between commanders and settler leaders.

A reserve platoon leader discussed possible settler/Palestinian friction with his commanders months back. However, he wasn't prepared for the Mitzpeh Eshtamoa outpost confrontation where settlers and Palestinians faced-off over grazing issues.

"We stood as a buffer between (them), and they (settlers) started arguing with us. They said awful things to me: '(Ariel) Sharon evacuated Gaza. He got what was coming to him. Don't worry. God will see to you, too. Why do you come for reserve duty? You're a disgrace as soldiers.' "

They kept ranting and raving. Soldiers weren't sure what to do. They were trained to think Palestinians are the problems. They learned it's Jews.

"There were 15 settlers swearing at us....This is an entire community whose agenda is to treat soldiers like that. Even the chief security officers told us, 'listen, that's the way it is. In a few days, they'll puncture my car tires.' "

Settlers "are out of control. I guard them. I'm responsible for protecting them, and I know one day they'll sabotage my car. That's what's going on here."

A West Bank junior officer said clashes occur mainly at checkpoints. Settlers come there often. They won't wait like Palestinians, "so they break through and drive on. Not many harass us, but when the moment comes to inspect them, they humiliate us."

Clashes with Jews are "much worse" than with Palestinians. "We used to have a code for Palestinians throwing stones. Today it's been reversed to indicate Jews are throwing stones at Palestinians."

Settlers even attack commanders with impunity. "You hate it. You hate being there. You know whom you're protecting but you don't understand why you have to pay such a price for it."

If Israeli soldiers face settler violence and other abuse, imagine what Palestinians endure daily with no one providing protection or support.

* Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon.

Settlers burn 5 cars in Ramallah village

Published yesterday (updated) 19/12/2011 22:20

A Palestinian man stands near cars which locals say were torched by Jewish
extremists, in the West Bank village of Beitin near Ramallah on Dec. 19, 2011.
(REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Dozens of settlers raided a Ramallah village on Monday morning and set fire to five cars.

Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli military forces arrived in the village of Beitin and dispersed the settlers without arresting any of them.

Beitin is situated near the village of Burqa, which was attacked by settlers last week.

Jewish settlers on Thursday torched the Burqa village mosque and sprayed racist graffiti in Hebrew on its walls, witnesses said.

That attack came a day after Jewish extremists torched a 13th century mosque in Jerusalem, spraying "Death to the Arabs" and "Muhammad is a pig" on the building.

Settler attacks in the West Bank against Palestinians have increased by more than 50 percent this year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Israeli settlers number 500,000 in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, living in Jewish-only communities that are illegal under international law.

Israel hosts British MPs to buy support

Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:35PM GMT
A group of British MPs, member to the so-called Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), on a visit to the occupied Palestinian territories. 
A new investigative report has found that Israel pays for trips by the UK lawmakers to the occupied Palestinian territories in a desperate attempt to buy their support.

The report released by political activist David Cronin shows that lawmakers including Chloe Smith, Aidan Burley, James Morris and Neil Parish, who are also the members of the so-called Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) in the British political establishment, have visited occupied Palestine during summer this year, from 29 May to 3 June, a trip whose costs were partly paid by the Israeli foreign ministry.

The members of the lower house of the parliament (MPs) cited themselves in separate declarations based on Freedom of Information requests that the cost of their visit has amounted to £1,548 each.

They said that the Israeli foreign ministry has paid £574 of the amount and the remaining £974 was paid by the pro-Israeli lobby group (CFI).

The striking fact was that the visit coincided with the UK government changing its law on universal jurisdiction in favor of Israeli authorities, said Cronin.

The law enables a country to prosecute other countries' officials or other entities' authorities on charges of grave human rights violations irrespective of where they may have happened.

In 2009, Tzipi Livni, the then foreign minister of the Zionist regime, had to cancel a pre-planned trip to London, because some peace activists had sought an arrest warrant for her on charges of committing war crimes during the Zionist army's murderous invasion of the Gaza Strip.

The Conservative Friends of Israel, which organized the MPs' trip, has been working diligently to have the universal jurisdiction law watered down in favor of the Israeli authority.

According to the CFI's website, the organised trips featured tours of production facilities run by the weapons manufacturing company Elbit.

Elbit designs and manufactures the Hermes drones that the Zionist army used to attack Palestinian civilians during its invasion of Gaza. The company also supplies the British army with the same drone aircrafts deployed in the war in Afghanistan.

The Amnesty International has reported that engines used in Elbit's drones have been fitted by a plant belonging to the company near England's second largest city, Birmingham.

More than 80 percent of the Conservative members of the British parliament are actually member to the extremist pro-Israeli lobby group, the Conservative Friends of Israel.


Netanyahu for President (of America)

by Alan Hart on December 16, 2011

It's now clear that the Republican frontrunner in the race for the White House is Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Officially the two Republican frontrunners are Newt "the Palestinians are an invented people" Gingrich and Mitt "Obama has pushed Israel under a bus" Romney.

Both are political whores locked in a competition of their own as well as with President Obama for Zionist lobby organized campaign funds and American Jewish votes. (In a very close election race the latter could determine who becomes president).

The probability is that Romney will emerge as the winner and be the one to take on Obama. So what Romney said in the last debate with the other Republican candidates is of critical importance. He said:

"If I was president I'd get on the 'phone to Bibi and say 'Would it help if I said this?'"
In other words, if Romney becomes president, Netanyahu will the one determining American foreign policy for Israel-Palestine.

Because of Obama's first-term surrender to the Zionist lobby and its stooges in Congress there's a case for saying that Netanyahu already is, effectively, the president of America so far as policy for Israel-Palestine is concerned.

So is there no prospect of next November's election producing a president who will be prepared to put America's own real interests first by confronting the Zionist monster?

If the Republicans get the key to the White House the answer will be "No", because a first-term Republican president will not want to destroy his prospects for a second term by making an enemy of the Zionist lobby and its fundamentalist (deluded, even mad)) Christian partners.

But in my view there is a possibility that a second-term Obama might use the leverage all American presidents have to get a real peace process going, even if that means, as it would, challenging the Zionist lobby's stooges in Congress to decide whether they are Americans first or not. (Those who are not could be condemned and prosecuted as traitors).

It's not often that I find myself in agreement with anything written by the New York Times' op-ed columnist Thomas L. Friedman, but his latest piece under the headline Newt, Mitt, Bibi and Vladimir is a great contribution to the debate about what he calls the "grovelling" to the Zionist lobby of the Republican would-be presidents. (Friedman actually calls it the "Israel lobby", but as I never tire of saying, that's not an accurate description of the monster. Israel lobby implies that it speaks for all Israelis and it does not).

Here's part of what he wrote about the would-be Republican presidents in their last debate.
"Newt Gingrich took the Republican competition to grovel for Jewish votes - by out loving Israel - to a new low by suggesting that the Palestinians are an 'invented' people and not a real nation entitled to a state.

"This was supposed to show that Newt loves Israel more than Mitt Romney, who only told the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom that he would move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem because 'I don't seek to take actions independent of what our allies think is best, and if Israel's leaders thought that a move of that nature would be helpful to their efforts, then that's something I'll be inclined to do. ... I don't think America should play the role of the leader of the peace process. Instead, we should stand by our ally.'"

Friedman's comment on that Romney contribution was:

"That's right. America's role is to just applaud whatever Israel does, serve as its A.T.M. and shut up. We have no interests of our own. And this guy's running for president?"
Then Friedman considered the implications of Gingrich's stated position.
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"As for Newt, well, let's see. If the 2.5 million West Bank Palestinians are not a real people entitled to their own state, that must mean Israel is entitled to permanently occupy the West Bank and that must mean - as far as Newt is concerned - that Israel's choices are: (1) to permanently deprive the West Bank Palestinians of Israeli citizenship and put Israel on the road to apartheid; (2) to evict the West Bank Palestinians through ethnic cleansing and put Israel on the road to the International Criminal Court in the Hague; or (3) to treat the Palestinians in the West Bank as citizens, just like Israeli Arabs, and lay the foundation for Israel to become a bi-national state. And this is called being 'pro-Israel'?"
Friedman also had something to say about Netanyahu.
"I sure hope he understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics. That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby."
And about his own position and American Jews in general, Friedman wrote this:
"I'd never claim to speak for American Jews, but I'm certain there are many out there like me, who strongly believe in the right of the Jewish people to a state, who understand that Israel lives in a dangerous neighbourhood yet remains a democracy (for how much longer, I ask?) but who are deeply worried about where Israel is going today. My guess is we're the minority when it comes to secular American Jews. We still care. Many other Jews are just drifting away."
If many American Jews really are drifting away from support for Israel right or wrong, that could make taking on and defeating the Zionist lobby a more manageable proposition for a second-term President Obama.

* Alan Hart is a former ITN and BBC Panorama foreign correspondent who covered wars and conflicts wherever they were taking place in the world and specialized in the Middle East. Author of Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews. He blogs on and tweets on

“Israel has never been so ugly”

by Alan Hart on December 18, 2011

Ari Shavit
Ari Shavit

I often say that critics of Israel and America's unconditional support for it are wrong to call the monster that has Congress by the testicles the "Israel lobby". That description of it implies that it speaks for all Israelis. It does not and in Ha'aretz recently there was a remarkably good analysis of what's happening in Israel which illustrates, proves, my point. Its author is Ari Shavit, a senior correspondent and member of the newspaper's editorial board. The headline over his piece is the one above.

I am now going to quote the article in full (with my emphasis added) and conclude with a comment or two.
"We have never been so ugly. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu seeks to silence the call to prayer over the loudspeakers of the country's mosques, and to shut down Channel 10 television. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman expresses support for the Russian 'democtator' who has just rigged elections. Defense Minister Ehud Barak stands by while Jewish settlers victimize Palestinians and ultra-Orthodox religious nationalists victimize female soldiers.

Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman is trying to turn the Supreme Court into other one of his subsidiaries. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein is working to prevent the media from reporting on investigations against public figures. Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman excludes women from participation in an official award ceremony.

Coalition chairman Zeev Elkin undermines and neuters civil society. Religious fanatics exclude women, tyrannize secular citizens and spit at priests. Jewish terrorists burn Muslim houses of worship, invade Israel Defense Force bases and attack soldiers.

We see what we would never believe with our own eyes. Darkness at noon, a dark Israel snuffing out an enlightened Israel. There have been dark moments in the past. The 1956 killing of Israeli Arabs at Kafr Qasem, the 1982 massacres by Israeli allies in Lebanon at Sabra and Chatila, the 1994 Hebron massacre by Baruch Goldstein. There have also been prior attempts at silencing the press, publications such as Kol Ha'am, Haolam Hazeh and Hadashot.

There have been assaults on the judicial system. Former Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, and Daniel Friedmann and Daniel Friedmann. Time after time there have been assaults by the secular right and the religious right on the principles of liberalism and on liberal institutions, but there has never been an all-out, multi-pronged and multi-dimensional attack on the core values of the Jewish democratic state.

There has never been such a comprehensive attempt to remake the face of Israel and to replace it with something else. Under Netanyahu and Lieberman's leadership, Israel been turned into a country with the values of Newt Gingrich and the look of Vladimir Putin. What's happening here? And why now exactly? Why are anti-democratic forces at work now to run roughshod over human rights and human dignity and freedom? Why are the Jewish nationalists and ultra-Orthodox fanatics, along with Russian statism, bursting forth now all at the same time?

The answer is Netanyahu. In the past he was conservative, cautious and democratic. With American Jewish leader Ron Lauder at his side and popular historian Paul Johnson in his hand, Netanyahu sought to turn Israel into a strong free-market country sharing the values of Republican America.

As a result, the first time around as prime minister he governed like a democrat and lost like a democrat. And when the left wing tripped him up and got him out of office, he was subdued and a gentleman about it. Just as the Republican Party has changed over the past decade, so too has Netanyahu. The follower of Ronald Reagan has become a Tea Partier. With Sheldon Adelson at his side and Avigdor Lieberman tying his hands, the second iteration of Netanyahu is an aggressive ruler.

He is not guided by the rules of the game, but by the desire to gain a position of strength. It is not protecting democracy that is uppermost in his mind but retaining power. He is therefore not interested or capable of demonstrating moral leadership. Netanyahu is letting his Rottweilers devour liberal democracy while he himself stands by watching. He is not fulfilling his role as the guardian of the Israeli Declaration of Independence.
Netanyahu's weak leadership and moral laxity are what unleashed this frenzy. The fact that he has not put a stop to the dark forces that have always oozed from our depths is what brought us to this situation, but it is not yet too late. Netanyahu can put a stop to this insanity in an instant. All he has to do is halt the totalitarian legislation and to deliver one major address extolling enlightened democracy and human rights.
He must make it clear that violence will not be tolerated, that women are equal. Arabs are equal and every human being is created in God's image. If the super-leader of the right wing would order the lunatic fringe on the right to stop, they would. If the leader of the State of Israel would say that liberty and equality and law and freedom of expression are the beating heart of the state, so it would be.

Not a single party would quit the government coalition. Not a single minister would quit the cabinet. But the young people who are called upon to defend this place would know what they are protecting. And the older generation who built this place would know what they built. The face in the mirror would again be our face."
If the Gentile me or any non-Jewish critic of Israel had written such things, I and they would have been smeared by Zionism's propaganda machine as a rabid Jew hater.

Ha'aretz reflects all Israeli points of view and prejudices but it my opinion it is second to none in the newspaper world for the honesty and integrity of its reporting about what is happening in the Zionist state and why. I sometimes wonder how different the situation might have been today if over the years Ha'aretz had been required daily reading for every occupant of the White House and every member of Congress.

If I was a very wealthy Arab I would create a foundation to make that happen.

* Alan Hart is a former ITN and BBC Panorama foreign correspondent who covered wars and conflicts wherever they were taking place in the world and specialized in the Middle East. Author of Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews. He blogs on and tweets on

Israel decries Arab democracy

by Khalid Amayreh on December 18, 2011

While Israel keeps urging the Palestinian Authority (PA) to resume largely discredited peace talks, Tel Aviv is continuing unabated the expansion of Jewish colonies throughout the West Bank.

Israeli soldiers Jewish settlers

Disingenuous as they are, Israeli calls for resuming peace talks are apparently aimed at giving the impression that the Palestinians, not Israel, is the party impeding efforts to revive the stalled process.

However, for Palestinians at least, facts on the ground speak louder than public relations.

In recent weeks, the Israeli government, arguably the most extremist since the creation of the Israeli state, decided to build thousands of additional settler units in the central West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In Jerusalem, the so-called Planning and Building Committee has been considering a plan to build a "park" in the heart of the Palestinian neighbourhood of Jabal Al-Mukaber in East Jerusalem.

Palestinian officials as well as peace-minded Israelis insist the planned park is nothing but a ruse to set up a new settlement designed to besiege Arab demographic growth in the occupied city.

"The plan is aimed at strangulating Arab presence in Jerusalem," says Khalil Tufakji, a prominent Jerusalemite cartographer. "They hope this will kill any possibility for building a viable Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital."

Israel is also planning to build some 4000 settler units in the Silwan neighbourhood south of the occupied Arab city.

US Vice President Joe Biden protested the plan last year. However, the Israeli government waited a few months until the issue was forgotten before reviving the plan.

Israeli pundits seemed convinced that US officials critical of Israeli settlement activities don't really mean what they say and that in any case they are not capable of acting on statements critical of Israel given Israeli clout and influence on domestic American politics.

Israel also calculates, seeming correctly, that the Obama administration will not undermine its own re-election chances at home by pressuring Israel to rethink its settlement expansion plans.

The intensive expansion of settlements in the West Bank has coincided with a serious escalation of Jewish terrorist activities against Palestinians and their property. The wave of terror and vandalism included, among other things, kidnapping Palestinian villagers and shepherds, torching Palestinian olive groves, and denying access to Palestinian traffic.

This week, Jewish settlers kidnapped a Palestinian shepherd near the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Eyewitnesses said the settlers also seized 50 of the man's sheep. Normally, the Israeli occupation army, which controls the area, doesn't take meaningful action against settlers who attack Palestinians and vandalise their property with impunity.

As for the Israeli justice system, it deals quite lightly with settlers as many of the judges in Israeli courts are ideologically affiliated with the religious Zionist camp, or the settler camp.

This week, Israel decided to transfer to the PA the sum of $100 million dollars, which the Israeli government withheld earlier this month in an effort to bully the PA leadership into reconsidering efforts to seek recognition of a Palestinian state by international organisations such as the UN.

According to the Israeli media, Israel released the money after German Chancellor Angela Merkel threatened Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with halting a German plan to deliver a submarine to Israel if the latter refused to resume the transfer of tax revenues to the PA.

According to a report published in the right-wing Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post, Israel yielded to pressure from Berlin and unfroze the Palestinian funds.

Germany reportedly announced it would build and pay up to one-third of the cost of a sixth Dolphin-class submarine to be delivered to the Israeli navy.

The agreement stipulated that Germany would pay the sum of 135 million Euros in partial financing of the deal.

The submarine will cost between 372 million and 520 million Euros. Defense experts believe the submarine will enhance Israel's second-strike capability since it can carry nuclear weapons.

Merkel has repeatedly appealed to Netanyahu to unlock the peace process, only to be met with prevarication from the Israeli premier.

Meanwhile, some Israeli officials have been voicing their anxiety over the initial results of the Egyptian elections; with the Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak admitting that Israel didn't like the ostensible victory of Islamists in the first round of the parliamentary poll.

Barak said he hoped that Israel's partners and friends in Cairo would retain significant influence that would keep the cold peace between Israel and the largest Arab country "as warm as possible".

Some Israeli commentators are already referring to the Egyptian elections results as a "nightmare coming true," bringing to the fore Israel's worst fears.

David Buki, a pro-settler commentator, lashed out at those Western powers that advocated and pressed for democracy in the Arab world. "When you give a Muslim a free voice in electing his leaders, he will pick an Islamist leadership every time because that is what he knows and appreciates."
"Israel's worst fears regarding its relationship with the Arab world -- and with Egypt in particular -- are coming true before our eyes. The rise of the Islamists in Egypt means the end of the peace treaty with Egypt and the rise of a government committed to the ideological Islamist goal of the destruction of Israel."
The Israeli commentator ignored the fact that Israel is made up of several fascist parties advocating discrimination and apartheid and even genocide against non-Jews.

Earlier this year, the spiritual mentor of Shas, a main coalition partner in the current Israeli government, was quoted as saying during a Sabbath homily in West Jerusalem that all non-Jews were very much like donkeys who were created by the Almighty on two legs so that they will serve the master race, the chosen people -- Jews.

Some have gone so far as permitting a Jew to murder a non-Jew in order to extract his organs if the Jew needs them.

* Khalid Amayreh a journalist based in the Occupied Palestinian town of Dura. He obtained his MA in journalism from the University of Southern Illinois in 1983.

Palestinians prisoners are out of jail, but not yet free

Dec 20, 2011 
A Palestinian prisoner is greeted by a relative after his release at the Rafah border crossing on Sunday. Eyad Baba / AP Photo

RAMALLAH // Celebrations marking the release of 550 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails stretched into the early hours of yesterday morning, but life outside prison will not necessarily mean freedom from the long arm of Israeli authorities.

Just ask Fakhri Barghouti.

Mr Barghouti walked out of jail in October, part of the first phase of the Egypt-brokered swap of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners for a captured Israeli soldier held by the Islamist group Hamas for five years.
A cousin of the imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, he discovered that liberation from an Israeli jail did not necessarily mean freedom from Israeli harassment - a cautionary tale for those prisoners released late on Sunday in the second and final phase of the exchange.

"Shortly after I was released, soldiers raided my house at 2am and gave me orders to come to the Ofer military prison the following day," Mr Barghouti recalled from his home in Kober, a village near Ramallah. "It was all very threatening and they conducted a number of humiliating searches during the interrogation. The army wanted to send me the message that they are still in control. "

Mr Barghouti, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1978 for killing an Israeli soldier with a knife near the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, said that many of his fellow prisoners who were released in the first phase of the swap have been subjected to similar searches and interrogations.

In one instance, Mr Barghouti said, Israeli soldiers raided the house of a recently freed prisoner and forced his family to stay outside for hours in the middle of the night, only to take him away for interrogation at Ofer.

Despite criticism from Palestinian officials involved in the exchange, Israel attached strict terms to the release of many of the prisoners. According to the Issa Qaraqe, the minister of prisoner affairs for the Palestinian Authority, most of those released in October are required to report weekly or monthly to Israeli authorities - an Israeli tool, Mr Qaraqe said, to track the movements of their former captives.

"It is like they were never really let out of jail," said Kadoura Fares, the president of the Palestinian Prisoners Association in Ramallah. "I warned Hamas not to sign on to these conditions, which deprive prisoners their dignity to live in quiet freedom. But they did it anyway."

Families of recently released prisoners have also paid a price. Israel has reportedly barred the relatives of prisoners from visiting them in Jordan, where they were deported after the release. Israeli authorities said the families were denied exit permits for unspecified "security reasons".

A spokesman for the Israeli military refused to comment on the rules for freed Palestinian prisoners, saying "the information is spread across a number of departments including the ministry of defence".

The release conditions have become a source of tension between the Fatah and Hamas. In the run-up to the prisoner swap, Hamas officials announced that they would not accept an agreement with Israel that included strict conditions on freed prisoners and the deportation of former prisoners.

In the end, however, they agreed to a deal stipulating that more than 200 prisoners would not be able to return home to the West Bank upon their release.

Eighteen prisoners from East Jerusalem and the West Bank were deported to the Gaza Strip for a period of three years, according to the Palestinian prisoner-rights organisation Addameer. Another 146 prisoners were transferred to Gaza for an indefinite period, and 41 were exiled to Jordan and other neighbouring countries.

"Hamas is claiming that conditions on recently freed prisoners and deportations were not part of the agreement. But in fact they were part of the officially signed document. Now they are trying to deny responsibility for these conditions," Mr Qaraqe said.

Fakhri Barghouti is happy to be back with his people but has a hard time reconciling life under occupation and the conditions placed on his movement.

"I left prison but the occupation is still here. I have more freedom than in prison, but it's still the same occupation," he said. "It's just that I have more freedom of movement."

New film documents resilience of Bedouin village destroyed 30 times

12 December 2011
For nearly a year and a half, the Bedouin villagers of al-Araqib in the Naqab (Negev) have been incessantly brutalized by the Israeli government and the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in an ongoing, broad-daylight ethnic cleansing operation.

The village has been razed to the ground approximately thirty times since July 2010, and yet, as The Electronic Intifada has reported, the villagers — who are Israeli citizens — remain steadfast by rebuilding, regrouping and resisting after each demolition.

Focusing especially on the courage and determination of al-Araqib’s women, young and old, as forefronts of the resistance, the new documentary film Sumoud (steadfastness in Arabic) offers a valuable glimpse into the daily struggle of villagers to hold onto their land, their livelihoods and their heritage.

Nora Barrows-Friedman spoke with Jillian Kestler-D’Amours — filmmaker, journalist and frequent contributor to The Electronic Intifada — about Sumoud, which she filmed, edited, and directed for the Alternative Information Center (AIC) in Jerusalem, and the ongoing struggle in al-Araqib.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: Tell us about the film, Sumoud, what time period it encompasses and what it’s all about.

Jillian Kestler-D’Amours: Filming for Sumoud started after the second demolition of the village, so at the end of July, beginning of August 2010. It tells the story of the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Naqab, near Bir al-Sabe [Beer Sheva], to which on 27 July 2010, the Israeli authorities sent 1,700 soldiers and police officers to destroy 45 structures and make 300 Israeli citizens homeless, including 200 children.

They uprooted olive trees and crushed livestock under bulldozers. It was a horrifying scene. So the film starts there — and looks at how since that time the village has been destroyed more than thirty times in the span of a year.

What’s interesting about the film is that some of the main village residents in the film are women. So it shows the struggle of this small village and how the residents, and especially the women, have been able to rebuild their homes and have really persevered against extreme Israeli state violence and destruction.

NBF: When was the last time that al-Araqib was destroyed?

JKD: The last time was a week or two weeks before Eid al-Adha [in November].

NBF: You’ve been going there for the last 17 months. As a filmmaker, as a journalist, what have been some of the most significant moments that you’ve witnessed since July 2010, not only making this film but going back time and time again and seeing the village destroyed, and really getting to know the community?

JKD: There are so many significant moments, many from different periods. And through these moments, you can see the impact on the residents — both incredibly devastating, of course, and also moments that encompass some of the most beautiful things about the village. Through the last eighteen months, through all of this, the residents have been able to maintain their humanity, their generosity, their compassion, their openness.

At the beginning, during the first few demolitions, groups of activists would sleep over the night before the expected demolition. So the night before the fifth demolition, which was in September 2010, I was staying with a family. And a friend, a photographer, called me and said that they had just got into the village, and there were 12 army trucks at the [nearby] junction — he said, “they’re coming in an hour.” So I get this phone call, I jump up, wake up the family I was staying with, and say, “the police are coming.”

And I remember these young children, these two boys about nine and five years old — just the fear and panic on their faces, yelling to their parents to pack their belongings into the cars, just this total panic. Because they knew that it was happening again. It just breaks your heart to see this happen, and that these children know what it means when they get woken up at five in the morning.

At the same time, there have been a lot of wonderful moments in the village with these families. I was lucky enough to spend Eid with a family last year and this year — and just to see them in celebration, despite that we’re all sitting on the floor, in a makeshift tent that’s just wooden beams and a tarp over the top — but these families are still so happy to welcome people and to have some joy. The fact that they can still be happy and so proud … it’s nice to be able to see that as well.

NBF: You mentioned that during the beginning, Israeli and international activists would come and be in solidarity, try to stop the bulldozers. Now, a year and a half and thirty demolitions later, are there activists still coming to al-Araqib, or have they moved on to another issue?

JKD: It’s a good question. Definitely the activists who are in Beer Sheva have worked tirelessly with the villagers, not only in al-Araqib but in so many of the other Bedouin villages which are threatened and facing similar demolition orders. Structures are being demolished every day in the Naqab. So they’re working day in and day out, working in the village, checking in with the community to see how they’re doing.

The number of activists from Tel Aviv, from Jerusalem, and from a little bit further out, has definitely dropped off. It’s a long struggle, and it’s not sexy, if you will. But there are definitely activists who still go. And when there are demolitions, people try to get down there, even if they can’t get there when the bulldozers arrive, they’ll get there afterwards, they’ll call the villagers. Especially the activists who have personal connections with the villagers, they’ll check in with a phone call and see how they’re doing, if they can bring anything, if they need anything.

NBF: Getting back to the film, tell us why you wanted to make a film about what’s happening in al-Araqib, as opposed to any other topic that’s so relevant right now in Palestine, and what you hope people who watch it get out of it.

JKD: I think there’s a few reasons — to me, the first demolition was so shocking. The display of this brute force that the Israeli state deemed necessary to get 300 people, 200 kids out of their homes to demolish … it was a shock. At the same time, we hear all the time how bad it is in Gaza, and how bad it is in the West Bank, and it’s framed in this discourse of occupation — but then you see al-Araqib. The villagers are Israeli citizens, so it doesn’t have anything to do with where these villages are in a geographic context. The point is that [the villagers in al-Araqib] simply aren’t Jewish citizens. You see that policy crossing over the green line [Israel’s internationally-recognized armistice line with the occupied West Bank]. And you also see the shock in the Bedouin communities who say, we’re citizens, what did we do?

And many of them define themselves as Israeli. And yet they’re being attacked, they’re being brutalized, and their villages are being destroyed.

It’s also very timely now with all the Israeli government’s announcements that it will be forcing 30,000 Bedouins out of the Naqab, if not more — I think it’s a spark that will ignite the entire country, the entire conflict. It’s very dangerous what the Israelis are doing — they’re radicalizing a community of 180,000 people. And it’s going to erupt, and it’s something that we should be aware of.

As a Canadian, I see such clear parallels to the First Nations struggles, the indigenous struggles back home. What’s happening in al-Araqib is such a clear forced displacement happening in front of our eyes; when you think that this is something of the past, when you think that this can’t happen today. And it’s happening, slowly, in different parts and especially in the Naqab. That’s what drew me into the story. It’s not only about Palestine, but it’s also about the colonial histories of Canada and the US, and it’s the links that people need to make.

In making the film, I knew it was important to include the voices of the village’s population of women and girls. Because while home demolitions impact women the hardest, and it’s the most difficult for them, in al-Araqib I think that what’s interesting to see is how the demolitions have empowered the women of the village. They are the ones now leading demonstrations, they’re now speaking to the media, they’re the ones who are shouting. It’s not that they’ve “found their voice,” but they have finally been given a space to get their voice heard now more than before — so I’m hoping that comes across in the film.

Some of the strongest women I’ve met over the past year and a half have been from al-Araqib.
NBF: For solidarity activists who are just starting to realize what’s happening in the Naqab, how can they use the information in your film to further their activism?

JKD: In the case of al-Araqib, what’s interesting is the involvement of the Jewish National Fund in what’s happening there. The fact that they’re planning to build a forest over the village — for international solidarity activists, that information is really key. The JNF gets its money from donations from Americans, from Canadians, from Europeans and abroad, and that’s something that activists need to use as the way to get communities hooked to why does this matter to us.

They need to know that their donations are being used to further what’s happening in al-Araqib, and all across Palestine since 1948.

Activists can use Sumoud to draw attention to what’s happening across Palestine, and to take responsibility as well — our governments are supporting this, and donations to the JNF in Canada are tax-exempt. And that’s a problem, because the money is going to plant trees over people’s villages.

NBF: When is the film out, and where can people see it?

JKD: We have DVDs ready and available online from the Alternative Information Center website, and we’re organizing screenings right now in Ramallah, Beit Sahour, Jerusalem, Beer Sheva and Tel Aviv. We’re planning on screening it abroad, in the US and Canada at film festivals, and hopefully it’ll be online as well. But for now, through the DVDs and screenings, we’re hopefully getting as many people as possible to see it, and therefore to support the people of al-Araqib.

Nora Barrows-Friedman is an associate editor and reporter with The Electronic Intifada.