Thursday, November 30, 2006

[ePalestine] Follow-up to last message regarding John Dugard's op-ed...ACTION ALERT

Dear friends, 

Sorry for a second message so close to the last, but this is important. 

It has been brought to my attention that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and John Dugard are both under attack.  John Dugard for his opinion  and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for publishing it.

For all those that have asked how they can support the Palestinians, well, here is one way. Within the next 4 hours take a minute to write a letter to the editor thanking the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for running this honest piece.  I make a special appeal to all my Israeli and Jewish subscribers and friends to use this opportunity to speak out.

Write to  Letters should be 200 words or less and include your name, address and telephone (for identification purposes only).  If you can, BCC me at

Also, if you want to hear Jimmy Carter speak about his book directly, here are two sources: 

ABC News
Middle East Peace Possible?
Former President Jimmy Carter urges Israel to re-open peace talks.

Jimmy Carter on Conflict in the Middle East
Listen to this story...
Fresh Air from WHYY, November 27, 2006

Lastly,  for those of you who are asking, Laila El-Haddad has failed to enter Gaza yet again...the  crossing was closed by the Israelis yet again.

Action please,


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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

[ePalestine] Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Israelis adopt what South Africa dropped (A MUST READ)

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Israelis adopt what South Africa dropped

Published on: 11/29/06

Former President Jimmy Carter's new book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," is igniting controversy for its allegation that Israel practices a form of apartheid. 

As a South African and former anti-apartheid advocate who visits the Palestinian territories regularly to assess the human rights situation for the U.N. Human Rights Council, the comparison to South African apartheid is of special interest to me. 

On the face of it, the two regimes are very different. Apartheid was a system of institutionalized racial discrimination that the white minority in South Africa employed to maintain power over the black majority. It was characterized by the denial of political rights to blacks, the fragmentation of the country into white areas and black areas (called Bantustans) and by the imposition on blacks of restrictive measures designed to achieve white superiority, racial separation and white security. 

The "pass system," which sought to prevent the free movement of blacks and to restrict their entry to the cities, was rigorously enforced. Blacks were forcibly "relocated," and they were denied access to most public amenities and to many forms of employment. The system was enforced by a brutal security apparatus in which torture played a significant role. 

The Palestinian territories — East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza — have been under Israeli military occupation since 1967. Although military occupation is tolerated and regulated by international law, it is considered an undesirable regime that should be ended as soon as possible. The United Nations for nearly 40 years has condemned Israel's military occupation, together with colonialism and apartheid, as contrary to the international public order. 

In principle, the purpose of military occupation is different from that of apartheid. It is not designed as a long-term oppressive regime but as an interim measure that maintains law and order in a territory following an armed conflict and pending a peace settlement. But this is not the nature of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Since 1967 Israel has imposed its control over the Palestinian territories in the manner of a colonizing power, under the guise of occupation. It has permanently seized the territories' most desirable parts — the holy sites in East Jerusalem, Hebron and Bethlehem and the fertile agricultural lands along the western border and in the Jordan Valley — and settled its own Jewish "colonists" throughout the land. 

Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories has many features of colonization. At the same time it has many of the worst characteristics of apartheid. The West Bank has been fragmented into three areas — north (Jenin and Nablus), center (Ramallah) and south (Hebron) — which increasingly resemble the Bantustans of South Africa. 

Restrictions on freedom of movement imposed by a rigid permit system enforced by some 520 checkpoints and roadblocks resemble, but in severity go well beyond, apartheid's "pass system." And the security apparatus is reminiscent of that of apartheid, with more than 10,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons and frequent allegations of torture and cruel treatment. 

Many aspects of Israel's occupation surpass those of the apartheid regime. Israel's large- scale destruction of Palestinian homes, leveling of agricultural lands, military incursions and targeted assassinations of Palestinians far exceed any similar practices in apartheid South Africa. No wall was ever built to separate blacks and whites. 

Following the worldwide anti-apartheid movement, one might expect a similarly concerted international effort united in opposition to Israel's abhorrent treatment of the Palestinians. Instead one finds an international community divided between the West and the rest of the world. The Security Council is prevented from taking action because of the U.S. veto and European Union abstinence. And the United States and the European Union, acting in collusion with the United Nations and the Russian Federation, have in effect imposed economic sanctions on the Palestinian people for having, by democratic means, elected a government deemed unacceptable to Israel and the West. Forgotten is the commitment to putting an end to occupation, colonization and apartheid. 

In these circumstances, the United States should not be surprised if the rest of the world begins to lose faith in its commitment to human rights. Some Americans — rightly — complain that other countries are unconcerned about Sudan's violence-torn Darfur region and similar situations in the world. But while the United States itself maintains a double standard with respect to Palestine it cannot expect cooperation from others in the struggle for human rights.

Find this article at:

PHOTO CAPTION: John Dugard is a South African law professor teaching in the Netherlands. He is currently Special Rapporteur (reporter) on Palestine to the United Nations Human Rights Council. 


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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

[ePalestine] Baltimore Chronicle: Refugees Are The Key (by Sam BAHOUR)


Refugees Are The Key 

Israel should admit its historical responsibility to the Palestinian people and recognize the rights of the refugees.


Palestine, November 27, 2006--The Bush Administration’s insistence that the Hamas-led government of the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel’s existence may seek to achieve a moderate Palestinian leadership to enable a peaceful political process between the sides, but what about Israeli leadership and moderation? 

For five months Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip have been subjected to an incessant Israeli military campaign that has left over 500 Palestinians dead. While the provocation of Palestinian crude rocket attacks from Gaza into Israeli towns is well cited in US media, much less emphasized is the fact that most residents of Gaza are refugees from inside what is now Israel. These refugees, along with their brethren in other parts of the region, have been denied their basic human rights solely on the grounds of their ethnicity since their displacement nearly 60 years ago. If American officials really want to advance the peace process, they should apply equal pressure to Israel to recognize Palestinian rights, starting with the refugees. 

The Palestinian refugees symbolize the long-standing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The refugee problem has its roots in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, which ended in the mass displacement of over 750,000 Palestinian Arabs (approximately half of the Arab population). According to historical accounts of the War, including from recent Israeli historians, Jewish Zionist forces precipitated the flight of the Palestinian Arabs as part of a campaign of population transfer. The nascent State of Israel subsequently enacted laws to expropriate the refugees’ property and bar their return. The refugees were left homeless and destitute, mostly dependent on foreign aid for survival. The subsequent Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip resulted in the further displacement of around 200,000 Palestinians. 

Today there are over 5.5 million Palestinian refugees and displaced persons who have never been allowed the choice to return to their homes or given redress for their losses. The continued denial of their rights encapsulates the decades-long strife, disenfranchisement and dispossession the Palestinians have suffered. 

With the advent of the peace process in the early 1990s, hopes were ignited that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip would end and the plight of the refugees would be resolved. These hopes were dashed as the negotiations reached an eventual deadlock, leading to a stalemate and Israeli military onslaught on Palestinian areas that continues to plague the region. 

Following the breakdown of the talks, there was much debate about who was to blame for the failure. But this debate obscures the larger problem stoking the flames of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians: Israel’s unwillingness to comply with rules of international laws, including the rights of the Palestinian refugees, and third party failure to enforce them. 

Taking the Palestinian refugee issue as a case in point, the State of Israel, who controls the key to solving their problem, has refused to recognize the right of the refugees to choose whether to return to their homes and denied any responsibility for the problem since 1948. Israel has adopted this position in violation of international law, including UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which affirmed the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes or receive compensation. The General Assembly has affirmed this most basic human right of the Palestinian refugees every year since 1948. Additionally, admission of Israel to membership in the United Nations (General Assembly Resolution 273 of May 11, 1949) requires Israel to comply with General Assembly Resolution 194 of December 11, 1948. At the time, Israel stated it agreed to comply with this resolution. 

Israel has defended its refusal to concede the right of return on the grounds that the massive return of Palestinian refugees would spell the death of the Jewish state. But admitting its historical responsibility to the Palestinian people and recognizing the rights of the refugees could in fact deliver security and prosperity to Israel. Indeed, Israeli recognition of these basic principles would improve the atmosphere on the ground, help create more parity between the parties, and provide a fair framework for working out the details of a peace plan for resolving the conflict. 

Israel’s first Prime Minister said that “the old [refugees] will die, and the young will forget." A few days ago, Israel’s current Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, explicitly stated that Palestinians must “relinquish your demand for the realization of the right of return.” Following these ill- fated desires, Israel has sought to deny or delay addressing the refugee issue. However, the amount of bloodshed since 1948 proves the fallacy and the immorality of the Israeli position. Adhering to it will only lead to more bloodshed. 

The rights of the Palestinian people, and in particular the refugees, should be recognized alongside any legitimate rights of the Israeli people. Ultimately, it is through the evenhanded application of international legitimacy that we may be able to get out of the current stalemate and reach real grounds for peace. Otherwise, the failed Israeli practice of “might is right” will prevail and prolong needless death and destruction on all sides. 

The writer is a Palestinian-American businessman living in the besieged Palestinian City of El-Bireh in the West Bank. He co-edited with Staughton and Alice Lynd HOMELAND: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians (1994) and can be reached at 

Copyright © 2006 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved. 

To send feedback/letter to editor on this article: FEEDBACK


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Monday, November 27, 2006

[ePalestine] JERUSALEM POST: Honor the agreement you signed (by DAOUD KUTTAB)

The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition 

Honor the agreement you signed 


A little over a year ago, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Quartet envoy James Wolfensohn, Israeli defense minister Shaul Mofaz, the PA's Muhammad Dahlan and the EU reached an agreement to allow Palestinians free movement in and out of the Gaza Strip. 

The Agreement on Movement and Access (AMA) signed on November 15, 2005 promised Palestinians freedom of movement of people and goods. A detailed fact sheet published by the Palestinian Monitoring Group shows that since last year, none of the agreement's provisions have been fully implemented by Israel. 

The AMA sought to facilitate the movement of Palestinian people and goods between Gaza and Israel (through crossing points between the two areas); between Gaza and the West Bank (through bus and truck convoys running between the two parts of the occupied Palestinian territory); within Palestinian communities in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem (by working to dismantle the internal closure regime, which consists of hundreds of checkpoints and fixed obstacles to movement between Palestinian communities in the West Bank); between Gaza and the West Bank; and to third countries (by opening the Rafah crossing point between Gaza and Egypt, allowing Palestinians to build a seaport in Gaza, and allowing Gaza's airport to reopen). 

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Rafah crossing point has been open, since June 28, 2006, on only 13% of the days it was scheduled to be open. The UN office has also stated that since June 25, Israel has frequently prevented EU monitors from reaching the site, thereby forcing Rafah's closure. 

IN JULY, seven Palestinians waiting to be let into Gaza from Egypt died as a result of heat and the absence of shelter. Under the AMA, Palestinian customs officials were supposed to inspect imports through Kerem Shalom. To date, Rafah is still closed to imports and Israel has not permitted Palestinian customs officials at Kerem Shalom. 

As to the Crossing Points Between Gaza and Israel, the AMA committed that Israel will "allow the number of trucks per day processed [for export] through Karni to reach 150 [by December 31 2005], and 400 by end-2006." 

In 2005, 90% of all Palestinian trade was with Israel, or through Israel, to markets in third countries. But since the signing of the AMA, according to the the Palestine Trade Center, Karni has been completely closed for export for over 155 of approximately 310 working days, or roughly 50% of the time. And since the signing of the AMA, an average of 18 trucks per day have been processed through Karni for export. 

Agricultural products from Gaza during the 2005 harvest season (which were sold in winter 2006) rotted in Gaza as they were stuck on the border. According to estimates by Paltrade and the United States Agency for International Development, the losses resulting from Karni's closure during the 2005 harvest season were estimated at $600,000 per day, of which agricultural losses stood at $400,000 per day. 

A LINK between Gaza and the West Bank is vital for the Palestinian economy. Neither area alone possesses the characteristics to be economically and independently viable. Together, however, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank economically complement one other: Gaza has an airport, access to the sea, and natural gas reserves, while the West Bank has water resources, room for development, and the international market of east Jerusalem. 

Israel had agreed to implement a more robust convoy provision under the Oslo Accords. But Israel called off discussions regarding implementation of the convoy provision shortly after the AMA was concluded, and refused to recommence discussions. As a result, and in direct violation of the AMA, no truck or bus convoys between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have operated. Israel also refuses to discuss the establishment of a permanent road link between the West Bank and Gaza. 

In the occupied West Bank, millions of Palestinians are restricted in their movement - entirely within Palestinian territory - for the benefit of 430,000 Israeli settlers illegally residing on Palestinian land. Restrictions on movement include a stringent permit regime, roadblocks, checkpoints, and Israel's Wall - built primarily inside the occupied West Bank. 

FINALLY, according to the AMA agreement worked out by Rice and her Quartet partners, "The parties agree on the importance of the airport." Again on this issue Israel has refused to discuss the reopening of Gaza's airport since the signing of the agreement. 

While Israel has used the capture of one of its soldiers as an excuse for the continuous disruption of Palestinian movement, there is no doubt that what Israel has been doing is a collective punishment and therefore a war crime according to international humanitarian law. 

It is not surprising, then, to hear people like United Nations official John Dugard saying: "Gaza is a prison and Israel seems to have thrown away the key." 

In a November 14 press release issued by senior PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat, he made the connection between the current crisis and the restriction on the movement of Palestinians. "We would not be in the intense crisis we are in today had the [Agreement on Movement and Access] been implemented," he said. 

The writer is director of the Institute of Modern Media at Al-Kuds University in Ramallah. 

This article can also be read at 

Copyright 1995-2006 The Jerusalem Post -


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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

[ePalestine] ATTENTION: Palestinian expatriate experts living abroad

Dear friends,

Below is a message I received from the UN program that I am currently engaged with.  I share it with you in hopes you will register if you fit the requirements.

Today's The Globe and Mail ran an article that depicts the FORCED ethnic cleansing that we are being faced with on a daily basis.  I paste it at the end of this message.

WE ARE BEING DEPLETED OF OUR POPULATION UNDER OCCUPATION ON A DAILY BASIS.   We need our expatriate community to step up, and in, to fill the gap, even if only short term.

Together, we will be steadfast and build our own future, in spite of all odds,


MESSAGE FROM UNDP/PAPP-TOKTEN Marketing and Communications Manager, Amer Kamal 

Dear Sam:

Having you as a partner in the support and development process of the occupied Palestinian territories, our TOKTEN team is pleased to invite you to view our newly launched TOKTEN website at

The TOKTEN (Transfer Of Knowledge Through Expatriate Nationals) Palestinian programme provides a chance for Palestinian expatriate experts living abroad to work in the occupied Palestinian territories on short term consultancies under the UN umbrella in order to contribute to the development of their homeland. 

Not only is this website easy to navigate, containing all the information you need to become a TOKTEN volunteer consultant or a TOKTEN host institution, it also contains a sophisticated web portal that will collate the bio information of Palestinian expatriate experts globally as well as the Palestinian institutions locally that can best utilize such expertise. The portal offers expatriate experts the valuable opportunity to search through available short term consultancies in the occupied Palestinian territories. Moreover, the portal facilitates the search for available expertise by host institutions. Once the expatriate enters his/her information in our portal, the expertise if he or she agrees will be matched with an appropriate mission within the specified timeframe requested. 

In order to reach our goal in building the "Palestine Diaspora Database" we are looking for your help and partnership in locating these Palestinian expertise, if it is your members, constituent, or friends and to encourage them to join our database to support the development process of the homeland. You can view the easy to fill application on the following link:

Having your constituent registered in the "Palestine Diaspora Database" will keep them updated with everything we do in the TOKTEN program and any short term consultancy missions that become available in the occupied Palestinian territories. 

As good will ambassadors for the TOKTEN Programme, your time and help are greatly appreciated. Please feel free to contact me anytime with any inquiries or concerns as we advocate and promote the TOKTEN Programme on a global level. 

Let us work together towards a brighter future for the Palestinian people! 

TOKTEN Marketing and Communications Manager 
Amer Kamal   


Heavy-hearted Palestinians taking their chances abroad 

Thousands leave the territories to escape politics and poverty -- many bound for Canada, MARK MacKINNON reports from Ramallah 


RAMALLAH, WEST BANK -- Fatem Toubasi can't identify the specific moment she gave up on Palestine. It was a slow, heartbreaking process. 

It started maybe a decade ago, when she first noticed the West Bank's relaxed and cosmopolitan atmosphere becoming more and more conservative. As the hardships of Israel's occupation increased, Islam became the dominant ideology in the territories and women faced increasing pressure to wear the hijab. 

As a Christian married to a moderate Sunni Muslim, Ms. Toubasi began to feel increasingly alien in her own city. She worried her children would grow up to be fanatics. 

Then came the violence of the recent intifada. For three years, she and her family could see tanks from the window of their home as the Israelis laid siege to Yasser Arafat in his presidential compound. Even when the fighting eased, the Israeli occupation didn't. A series of military checkpoints were set up around the city, cutting Ramallah off from other West Bank towns. 

But she didn't know for certain that it was time to leave until the Islamist Hamas movement won legislative elections in January and the international community responded by imposing crippling economic sanctions. Her husband, a restaurateur, can't find work. Life, they decided, had to be better somewhere else. 

"It's the political situation, the economic situation, everything. We just don't see any future here for our kids any more," said the 45-year-old art instructor at Ramallah Women's Technical College. "It's not just Hamas -- the whole world is changing, the whole world is becoming more aggressive." 

Ms. Toubasi, along with her husband and two preteen children, is in the final stages of completing the process of emigrating to Canada. They plan to move to Toronto early in the new year, where she hopes to resume her career teaching art. They chose Canada, she said, because her sister already lives there, and because of universal health care and other social programs. 

When they leave, they will join the more than 10,000 Palestinians who have left in the past four months alone. It's an enormous outflow in a short period of time from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which have a combined population of only 3.5 million. Even worse for the cause of future Palestinian statehood, a recent study by Bir Zeit University found that 32 per cent of Palestinians, and 44 per cent of young Palestinians, would emigrate if they could. Because of restrictions on movement, however, few can reach the foreign embassies in Tel Aviv. 

Based on anecdotal evidence, it would seem that one of the top destinations is Canada. Citizenship and Immigration Canada figures show that 331 Palestinians applied for landed immigrant status in the third quarter of 2006, up from 194 last year. 

The Palestinian territories have never been an easy place to live, but even when violence was at its peak, most Palestinians refused to contemplate leaving, believing that would be giving Israelis what they wanted. Similar polls taken a year ago found only about 5 per cent were interested in emigrating. 

But now, more than ever before, Palestinians are giving up on their homeland. 

"I want to get out -- to Canada, to Norway, to Switzerland, to Nigeria even," said Fadi el-Fahr, 24, an unemployed telecommunications engineer. "All I want is a job." 

Mr. el-Fahr was one of six recent engineering graduates from Palestine Technical College in the northern West Bank town of Tulkarem who travelled to Ramallah this week to the office of Homeland International, a private firm offering help emigrating to Canada, to see whether they qualified. 

The young men complained of being harassed by Israeli soldiers in their homes and school and on that day's journey to Ramallah. But they grew up with that, and to a certain extent have grown used to it. What is new, and driving them to leave, is the economic crisis across the Palestinian territories. It's a crisis they see as springing from the election of Hamas, and the West's decision to boycott the new government until it renounces violence and recognizes Israel. 

All six said things were better under the leadership of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's secular Fatah movement, which dominated politics for decades until voters ousted it this year, fed up with growing corruption. 

"Before, when we had a [Fatah] government, there were many opportunities, because [Mr. Abbas] had good relations with many countries. The problems came when the new Islamic government came and America did not support it," said Ahmed Abu Radi, a 23-year-old electrical engineering graduate. "Now the political situation is very difficult. The majority of people in Tulkarem are unemployed." 

That young, educated people such as Mr. el-Fahr and Mr. Abu Radi are so anxious to leave merely compounds the tragedy of the Palestinian exodus, said Ahmed Hanoun, co-ordinator of the Palestinian Refugee and Diaspora Centre. 

"This is a first, so many people all leaving in such a concentrated period," he said, adding that the international boycott is doing what the Israeli army wasn't able to do -- convincing Palestinians to leave the West Bank and Gaza Strip. "It's dangerous for the whole national project . . . and it's a very comfortable situation for the Israelis." 

Ms. Toubasi, the art teacher, acknowledged that people like her are needed if a thriving Palestine is ever going to be built. She said she will leave Ramallah with a heavy heart. 

"This is my country, I always wanted to live here, to have my family here. But what's going on now is not encouraging me to stay," she said, waving at her students as they headed home at the end of the day. "There are priorities in life, and my family is my priority now." 


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[ePalestine] Israel issues last permits to foreigners, splitting families (FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE)

Campaign for the Right of Entry/Re-Entry to the Occupied Palestinian Territory(oPt) 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                      

Basil Ayish Coordinator, Media Committee
(c) +970-(0)59-817-3953

November 20, 2006 

Israel issues last permits to foreigners, splitting families 

All foreign passports of spouses and children of Palestinian ID-holders who had applied for visa extensions were marked recently as “last permit” by the Israeli authorities. 105 passport holders are required to exit from Israeli controlled entry/exit points before the end of the year. The Israeli Ministry of Interior (MoI) office at Beit El began returning the passports on November 19 after a six-week strike by Israeli MoI employees. Those who overstay their allotted time will be considered “illegal” and are subject to immediate deportation from the Israeli occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). In an effort to avoid being considered “illegal” and threatened with arrest by the Israelis, some families are opting to relocate abroad.  The pattern of refusing visa renewals for family members is part of an overall Israeli effort that denies entry to foreign nationals seeking access to the oPt. 

The impact of Israel’s practice includes the forced separation of spouses from each other, parents from their children, educators and students from their schools, healthcare, NGO and humanitarian workers from access to needy communities, and business owners from their investments.  According to the PA MoI, hundreds of applications for Israeli visa extensions following Israeli guidelines were submitted in October and are still pending. Also, Israel is refusing to process an estimated 120,000 family unification residency applications. Every denial of entry and visa renewal refusal impacts an estimated 10 people, many of whom subsequently resort to moving to another country.  “This is a silent ethnic cleansing,” said Basil Ayish, a spokesperson from the Campaign for the Right of Entry/Re-Entry to the oPt. 

Despite official complaints by foreign governments of discrimination against their citizens by Israel, Israel continues to disregard its obligations under international law and agreements and persists in its practice of changing the demographics within the oPt. The U.S. State Department, EU, and at least one Latin American country have all submitted demarches to Israeli officials since October.  Foreigners wishing to reside in, visit or work in the oPt continue to be banned at Israeli-controlled ports of entry. 

Because Israel refuses to permit non-Jewish foreigners from receiving residency status in the oPt, the only mechanism for foreign passport-holding spouses and children of Palestinian ID- holders to join their families has been to rely on a system of continuously renewable 1,2,or 3- month ‘visitor’ permits. This practice was widely expected to be a transitory measure until mechanisms were put in place to provide permanent residency status for non-ID holding family members. Some family members have been following this procedure for more than 30 years as the only option open to them. 


Telephone: +970.(0)59.817.3953            Facsimile: +970.2.295.4903 

Website:  Email: 


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

[ePalestine] NYT - 2 front page articles in 1 week

Let's hope it is the start of a new approach to the deteriorating situation:

Published: November 18, 2006

Published: November 21, 2006

Be sure to view the multimedia presentation in both articles.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

[ePalestine] Gaza's Reality (video) / Al-Jazeera and the Truth / The Scar of David

If you have high-speed internet see this brief clip on Gaza...listen carefully to the young girl:

Gaza's Reality


"You should call your cable or satellite provider and request the English-language service of al-Jazeera."

November 18, 2006 

Al-Jazeera and the Truth 
by Charley Reese 

Al-Jazeera, the Arab television network that the Bush administration hates so passionately, has launched its English-language service but is, of course, having trouble finding an American cable or satellite system willing to carry it. 

The British Broadcasting Corp. had a man watch the first day's broadcast (it's being distributed in Europe) and gave it a rave review: accurate, but grim. 

Since American politicians have involved us so deeply in the Middle East, the American public is entitled to see the truth of what's going on over there. The public can't get that from American television, which sanitizes its reports. Al-Jazeera  shows you the grim reality. When the Israelis kill children, they show you the bodies and the weeping mothers. They show you all the ugly truth about Israeli and American policies and actions in the Middle East. They show you what war looks like. 

So you don't need an electronic bug in the offices of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee to know that AIPAC and the Bush administration are putting pressure on the distributors to shun al-Jazeera. Denying Americans their First Amendment right to the truth, in regard to Israel, is always Job One with AIPAC. That is necessary because the truth about Israel's actions toward the Palestinians and other Arab countries puts the lie to all of the Zionist propaganda. 

Even before the recent massacre of an extended family asleep in its home by Israeli tank fire, the Israelis had killed 57 unarmed children in their current Gaza attacks. That number comes from Haaretz , an Israeli newspaper that publishes an English-language edition on the Internet. I heartily recommend it, because Israeli newspapers, unlike American newspapers, are not afraid to criticize the Israeli government. 

Israel is, after all, a country like any other, and its population consists of decent people and indecent people, as does the population of every other country in the world. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is the core problem in the Middle East. It drives everything else, and until that problem is resolved in a just manner, there will be no peace or stability in that region. 

Recently, the U.S. again vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the murder of the extended family, using the same worn-out excuse that it was unbalanced. OK, the resolution could have said it condemned the sporadic firing of homemade rockets, which have killed one person in recent weeks, and the deaths of 18 innocent people, the latest of more than 150 who have been killed by the Israeli army. Even if it had said that, we still would have vetoed it. The Israelis – who, by the way, have the most high-tech military equipment in the region – said the deaths were a mistake. Yes, the death rate of Palestinians due to Israeli mistakes is very, very high. 

The rest of the world is getting sick of watching us kowtow to the Israeli government. The U.S. is losing friends like a sycamore tree loses leaves in the cold blast of a November storm. 

You should call your cable or satellite provider and request the English- language service of al-Jazeera. In addition to Haaretz, you should also check out the Angry Arab News Service , a Web site of an American college professor who isn't afraid of the truth. 

I wish American politicians had never gotten us involved in the Middle East, but since they have, you deserve to know the naked truth of what's going on over there. Al-Jazeera will tell you. Fox News, whose employees act as if they are on Karl Rove's payroll, won't. 


Library Journal praises The Scar of David
Monday, June 19th, 2006

Library Journal has published a glowing review of NewSouth’s forthcoming book, The Scar of David.


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Saturday, November 11, 2006

[ePalestine] San Diego Union-Tribune: A simple road to Middle East peace (by Zahi Khouri)

A simple road to Middle East peace 

By Zahi Khouri
November 10, 2006 

More than two decades ago, I had the honor to speak about Palestinian/Israeli peace on a panel with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Although much has changed in the region since then, I could give nearly the same talk today. The requirements for peace and the benefits to be gained remain the same. 

The need for American leadership in the pursuit of peace has only increased. In his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday, President Bush should use his influence to ensure that we do not go another two decades without it. 

While peace has remained elusive, the solution is quite simple. Two peoples live in the same land. Some 5 million Jewish Israelis enjoy the full range of rights accorded to citizens of any democracy. And roughly 5 million Christian and Muslim Palestinians live either as second- class citizens in Israel, or in the Occupied Territories where they enjoy virtually no rights – where every aspect of their lives is controlled by a foreign army and their land and resources are systematically taken for the use of Jewish settlers. 

This inequality is untenable. Palestinians must either be granted the same rights as Jewish Israelis or must be freed from foreign rule and left to govern their own affairs.  

In 1993, the United States brokered the Oslo Peace Accords. They were supposed to have ended Israel's military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem along with the removal of Israeli settlements built illegally on Palestinian land. 

The accords offered hope. Many Palestinian Americans returned to Palestine to invest in businesses. I did that in 1996, when I launched the Coca-Cola franchise there. I also formed, with European and Israeli businesspeople, the Palestine International Business Forum. We hoped to bolster this new political agreement with economic cooperation that could benefit both Palestinians and Israelis. 

New economic opportunities could turn Palestinian despair into hope. We had visions of tourists streaming into the Palestinian city of Bethlehem to see where Christ was born. We hoped Gaza could one day become another Mediterranean vacation destination, welcoming Arabs, Israelis and others alike. 

Instead, Israel doubled the number of settlers living on Palestinian land during the Oslo years. And settlements are still expanding. Israel's apartheid wall, deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004, continues to be built on confiscated Palestinian land. It solidifies Israel's control of vital parts of the West Bank including many of the most valuable aquifers, and incorporates nearly 87 percent of Israel's settler population. 

Thousands of Palestinians are trapped between the wall and the state of Israel, separated from their jobs, schools and places of worship. They must obtain permits simply to remain in their homes while Jews from anywhere in the world may immigrate at will and live in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. 

Olmert is intent on pursuing this unilateral path of destruction. He seems not to have learned the lesson of Lebanon: Military aggression and unilateralism do not lead to peace. He remains determined to expand settlements and continue construction of the wall. His newest colleague, Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman, advocates various forms of “transfer” of the Palestinians. 

We have seen the results of unilateralism. Israel unilaterally “withdrew” its settlers and soldiers from Gaza more than a year ago. Yet Israel still rules the lives of Palestinians there. It continues to control Gaza's borders, airspace and coastline, determining everything that gets in or out. Its stranglehold on Gaza led United Nations Envoy John Dugard to say, “Gaza is a prison and Israel seems to have thrown away the key.” 

Today, Gaza suffers more than 45 percent unemployment, and two-thirds of its 1.5 million residents live below the poverty line with less than $2 per day. If the fate of Gaza is any indication of what lies in store for the West Bank, we are destined for decades more of conflict. 

America alone has the influence to push for a peace accord that would allow both Palestinians and Israelis to live normal lives and to thrive in harmony with each other. American policy can no longer condone Israeli actions that betray American values. Supporting freedom and equal rights for the Palestinians would benefit us all – Palestinians, Israelis and Americans. President Bush has an opportunity in his meeting with Olmert to hasten a peaceful solution that would end the suffering on all sides. 

Let us hope he does not squander it. 

- Khouri is CEO of the Palestinian National Beverage Co., the West Bank and Gaza's Coca- Cola franchise. He is chairman of the Palestine International Business Forum and chairs the largest Palestinian nongovernment agency, the NGO Development Center, in association with the World Bank. 

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Friday, November 10, 2006

[ePalestine] Let them move to Bulgaria. They're wanted there / We overcame our fear

Dear friends,

There are few words that I can add to the pictures emerging from Gaza and Jenin that you have not already had the chance to see in mainstream media.

Below I pass two articles, one from an Israeli Parliamentarian (this is a different person from the new Israeli cabinet member, Avigdor Lieberman, who is a known fascist), the second article is from a Palestinian Parliamentarian (one that is not yet imprisoned and being held hostage by Israel).  You tell me, which one would you believe?

The colossal failure of diplomacy in this issue will haunt the world for generations to come.

Mourning Gaza (AGAIN),
Morning Jenin (AGAIN),
Morning the deafening global silence (AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN),



Last update - 23:11 06/11/2006 
Let them move to Bulgaria. They're wanted there 
By Gideon Alon 

There is a huge gap between MK Benny Elon's pleasant personality and his extremist political views. Elon, the son of former of Supreme Court vice president Menahem Elon, is not belligerent, nor does he coarsely attack his political rivals. He speaks softly, even when he is spelling out his somewhat delusionary plan for the voluntary transfer of the Palestinians in the territories. 

Elon, 52, is a politician of a different stripe. He does not pursue journalists, nor is he constantly distributing press releases. Although he heads the National Union-National Religious Party (NU-NRP) list, he does not feel like the leader of the party. "I don't feel that I received a mandate to lead the NU-NRP," he says. "Not like Avigdor Lieberman in Yisrael Beiteinu or Eli Yishai in Shas." 

At the beginning of the year, a short time before the elections to the 17th Knesset, Elon fell ill with throat cancer. He successfully underwent an operation to remove the tumor in Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva. For three months he had daily radiation treatments at the Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem. "I'm under supervision, but today I'm healthy, thank God," he says, thanking the "angels" who took care of him at Hadassah. 

Lieberman, the populist 

Were you surprised by Avigdor Lieberman's decision to join the government? 

Elon: "No. Lieberman is moving toward the center. Lieberman is ready for the establishment of a Palestinian state. In my opinion, his proposal that the border be drawn at Karkur and that Umm al-Fahm be part of the Palestinian state is populist and irresponsible. But his moving toward the center is not ideological. In the past as well, on genuine issues, he did not demonstrate consistency. On the eve of the elections he said he was willing to leave his home in [the settlement] Nokdim." 

Will he remain in the government for only a short period of time? 

"Lieberman joined the government under the assumption that by the force of his personality, he will be able to effect change. He mistakenly thinks that the job the government offered him is an executive one. He will soon discover his mistake, because he will not be able to operate in the strategic arena. His membership in the government will not last long." 

Do you support his proposal to copy the Cyprus model in Israel and separate between Jews and Arabs living in Israel? 

"The proposal is populist and unrealistic. It was designed to placate the Jewish public, who according to surveys are more annoyed by the Israeli Arabs than by the Arabs in the territories. I don't think that the Israeli Arabs are the root of the problem. They're only a minority, after all. During the first stage, we have to solve the relations between us and the Palestinians, and only afterward to deal with relations with the Israeli Arabs." 

Why have people who in the past were out-and-out rightists, such as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Lieberman and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, moderated their positions? 

"My sad conclusion is that the secular right, which does not have a backbone based on faith, has apparently become bankrupt. The Tehiya movement did not pass the threshold for a Knesset seat, Tzomet fell apart, Arik Sharon and the hard core of the Likud moved toward the center, and now Lieberman as well. Gandhi [Rehavam Ze'evi] was maybe the last of the giants among the secular rightists. Where is the non-skullcap-wearing public at demonstrations of the right? Where is their dedication? There are some like MK Aryeh Eldad, but I don't know if they have even one Knesset seat today among the public." 

At the Knesset session marking the fifth anniversary of the assassination of minister Rehavam Ze'evi, you said, "The demographic problem will not solve itself. It's not too late to study the Gandhi legacy." Do you still believe in the idea of transfer? 

"Yes. Gandhi never spoke of transfer by coercion, only voluntary transfer. We can eliminate the Palestinian refugee camps in the territories by giving $100,000 to each family that agrees to emigrate to another country. If 1 million Palestinian families accept the proposal, which costs about $100 billion, we will solve the demographic problem." 

Where will you find $100 billion? 

"Every year Israel receives foreign aid from the United States totaling $3 billion. If we take the aid money and put it aside for 20 years, we will have $60 billion. If we add to that money from American and European foundations, which streams in to us, we can reach $100 billion." 

Do you really believe that for $100,000 you will succeed in convincing Palestinian families to leave their homes? 

"Definitely. I've checked it out. There are many countries, such as Bulgaria and Bosnia, that are willing to take them in. When a family with $100,000 arrives there, it is wanted, and will be really wealthy. Today in Gaza, families are living in hell. They have to be encouraged to leave." 

How will you encourage them? They will justly claim that this is their home. Their connection to the land is stronger than ours. 

"We put that into our own heads and brainwashed ourselves. I have a list of dozens of Arab families from East Jerusalem from whom we bought houses and who emigrated to South America, to Honduras and other countries. Do you know how many Arabs live in America and in Europe?" 

How will you behave toward Palestinians who don't want to leave? 

"With great respect. All those who are not refugees and who have homes of their own will be Jordanian citizens. They will live here, but they will vote for the Parliament in Amman. We won't interfere in religious matters, education and culture, and they will be the bridge to peace. The Palestinian Authority will be dismantled and no Palestinian state will be established between Israel and Jordan, because such a state without territorial contiguity between Gaza and Judea and Samaria will not be able to exist." 

What about the Israeli Arabs? 

"The Israeli Arabs who want to be Israeli citizens, with all the rights and obligations, will be required to perform national service. They will be able to remain here, but they will also have an option of being Jordanian citizens." 

Many will claim that that is a racist proposal. 

"In what way is it racist? Why do they want to perpetuate bloodshed? Why don't they understand that we don't have another Jewish state, while on the other hand, there are many Arab countries. The Palestinians don't want only the establishment of a Palestinian state, they don't want Israel to exist. My political plan is a means of carrying out my war of survival." 

A critical year 

According to a survey, 30 percent of the public believes that Yitzhak Rabin's assassin Yigal Amir should be pardoned. What is your opinion? 

"Those findings are shocking. They point to a huge educational failure. I also get around to schools and hear such statements by students. When the left did not allow the right to join in internalizing the significance of this murder, it led foolish people on the right to think it's the left's problem. Murder is not the left's problem. The assassination of Rabin was a watershed, red with blood, for the State of Israel, which almost destroyed it." 

Aren't you afraid that a few years from now a president here will pardon Amir? 

"I'm against a pardon for Yigal Amir, and I believe that no president would do such a thing. The talk of a pardon is dangerous, because it shows the young people on the right that it's not a terrible deed. In my meetings with young people in the schools I tell them: "We hate this murderer and we will make sure that he remains in prison. If there is anyone among you who is considering doing such deeds, he should know that he will be hated by all of us. 

"It worries me that there are children growing up today who think that the problem may be one between the left and the right. I am calling on people on the left: Be careful of what you say. The legacy that you want to perpetuate is not the legacy of Rabin, which is no more important than the legacy of [second prime minister] Moshe Sharett. To me the legacy of the Rabin assassination is more important." 

How should Israel deal with the threat by the Iranian president to destroy Israel? 

"The coming year is critical, and therefore Ehud Olmert should have formed a national emergency government, but he preferred to bring only Lieberman into his government. Olmert will be afraid to carry out daring actions against Iran to prevent the completion of the nuclear reactor, unless there is a broad consensus as to the necessity of doing so." 

Israel's policy was not to position itself at the head of the struggle against Iran. Are you proposing that we be the leader in this struggle? 

"The moment that the Iranian president declared that his goal was to wipe Israel off the map, it would have been irresponsible to ignore the new Hitler and say he was joking. We have the moral obligation to be the first to warn the world and to tell everyone: You cannot agree to allow the head of a country, which is a member of the UN, to threaten to destroy another country. If there is any chance of preventing the creation of the atom bomb by diplomatic means, it is preferable that empires such as the U.S. do so. The question is what happens if the U.S. does not succeed in preventing the creation of the nuclear bomb by diplomatic means? 

Should we treat Ahmadinejad's threats will complete seriousness? 

"Certainly. We must understand that hatred for Israel changes form. The greatest danger is to think it will once again assume the same form as in the past. This time it will appear without Wagnerian music or a Christian background; it will have a Muslim background. The public in Israel does not understand that there are millions who are raised from infancy on 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion' and on hatred for the Jews. That makes the issue of land for peace pathetic and turns the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a dark and unimportant alley." 

------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------- 


We overcame our fear 

The unarmed women of the Gaza Strip have taken the lead in resisting Israel's latest bloody assault 

Jameela al-Shanti in Beit Hanoun 
Thursday November 9, 2006 

Yesterday at dawn, the Israeli air force bombed and destroyed my home. I was the target, but instead the attack killed my sister-in-law, Nahla, a widow with eight children in her care. In the same raid Israel's artillery shelled a residential district in the town of Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip, leaving 19 dead and 40 injured, many killed in their beds. One family, the Athamnas, lost 16 members in the massacre: the oldest who died, Fatima, was 70; the youngest, Dima, was one; seven were children. The death toll in Beit Hanoun has passed 90 in one week. This is Israel's tenth incursion into Beit Hanoun since it announced its withdrawal from Gaza. It has turned the town into a closed military zone, collectively punishing its 28,000 residents. For days, the town has been encircled by Israeli tanks and troops and shelled. All water and electricity supplies were cut off and, as the death toll continued to mount, no ambulances were allowed in. Israeli soldiers raided houses, shut up the families and positioned their snipers on roofs, shooting at everything that moved. We still do not know what has become of our sons, husbands and brothers since all males over 15 years old were taken away last Thursday. They were ordered to strip to their underwear, handcuffed and led away. 

It is not easy as a mother, sister or wife to watch those you love disappear before your eyes. Perhaps that was what helped me, and 1,500 other women, to overcome our fear and defy the Israeli curfew last Friday - and set about freeing some of our young men who were besieged in a mosque while defending us and our city against the Israeli military machine. 

We faced the most powerful army in our region unarmed. The soldiers were loaded up with the latest weaponry, and we had nothing, except each other and our yearning for freedom. As we broke through the first barrier, we grew more confident, more determined to break the suffocating siege. The soldiers of Israel's so-called defence force did not hesitate to open fire on unarmed women. The sight of my close friends Ibtissam Yusuf abu Nada and Rajaa Ouda taking their last breaths, bathed in blood, will live with me for ever. 

Later an Israeli plane shelled a bus taking children to a kindergarten. Two children were killed, along with their teacher. In the last week 30 children have died. As I go round the crowded hospital, it is deeply poignant to see the large number of small bodies with their scars and amputated limbs. We clutch our children tightly when we go to sleep, vainly hoping that we can shield them from Israel's tanks and warplanes. 

But as though this occupation and collective punishment were not enough, we Palestinians find ourselves the targets of a systematic siege imposed by the so-called free world. We are being starved and suffocated as a punishment for daring to exercise our democratic right to choose who rules and represents us. Nothing undermines the west's claims to defend freedom and democracy more than what is happening in Palestine. Shortly after announcing his project to democratise the Middle East, President Bush did all he could to strangle our nascent democracy, arresting our ministers and MPs. I have yet to hear western condemnation that I, an elected MP, have had my home demolished and relatives killed by Israel's bombs. When the bodies of my friends and colleagues were torn apart there was not one word from those who claim to be defenders of women's rights on Capitol Hill and in 10 Downing Street. 

Why should we Palestinians have to accept the theft of our land, the ethnic cleansing of our people, incarcerated in forsaken refugee camps, and the denial of our most basic human rights, without protesting and resisting? 

The lesson the world should learn from Beit Hanoun last week is that Palestinians will never relinquish our land, towns and villages. We will not surrender our legitimate rights for a piece of bread or handful of rice. The women of Palestine will resist this monstrous occupation imposed on us at gunpoint, siege and starvation. Our rights and those of future generations are not open for negotiation. 

Whoever wants peace in Palestine and the region must direct their words and sanctions to the occupier, not the occupied, the aggressor not the victim. The truth is that the solution lies with Israel, its army and allies - not with Palestine's women and children. 

· Jameela al-Shanti is an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council for Hamas. She led a women's protest against the siege of Beit Hanoun last Friday 


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