Forget the empty posturing of world leaders in Paris yesterday. This photo tells us what the Israel-Palestine “conflict” is really about.
Imagine for a second that the little boy – how old is he, eight, nine? – is your son, trying to adjust his keffiyeh because it keeps falling over his eyes and he can’t see anything. Imagine your small son surrounded by masked Israeli “soldiers”, or what looks more like a Jewish militia than an army. Imagine that the boy is likely soon to be bundled into the back of a military van and taken for interrogation without his parents or a lawyer present, or even knowing where he is. That he could end up beaten and tortured, as human rights groups have regularly documented.
Maybe you can’t imagine any of that because you, a responsible parent living in Europe or the United States, would never let your child out to throw stones.
Then you need to know more about the story behind this picture.
This photo was taken in Kfar Qaddum last month. The boy and his friends aren’t there to bait Israeli soldiers or indulge a bout of anti-semitism. Jews from the violent – and illegal – settlement of Kedumim have taken over their farm lands. Kedumim’s expansion has been further used to justify the army closing the access road in and out of Qaddum. The village is being choked off at the throat. In short, these villagers are being ethnically cleansed.
Parents living in such circumstances do not have the privilege of concealing from their children what is happening. Everyone in the village knows their community and its way of life are being extinguished. Israel is determined that they will leave so that the Jewish settlers next door can grab their land. Israel expects these villagers to join the rest of the aid-dependent Palestinian population in one of the ghettoised towns and cities in the bantustans of the West Bank.
Even little boys understand the stakes. And unlike your child, this one knows that, if he doesn’t resist, he will lose everything he holds dear.
SALFIT – Israeli forces raided the town of Kifl Haris in the Salfit district of the central occupied West Bank overnight Saturday to provide protection for Israeli settlers visiting a site believed to be a Jewish shrine.
Eyewitness Yousif Yaqoub told Ma’an that he counted about 30 Israeli military vehicles storming the center of the town to escort the settlers, with Israeli soldiers firing stun grenades.
Israeli forces then set up military checkpoints at the entrances to Kifl Haris and imposed curfew, according to Yaqoub.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that overnight, “Israeli forces escorted Jewish pilgrims to the tomb of Joshua,” saying that the visit took place “without incident.”
A visit by settlers to the site earlier this month that was not carried out in coordination with the Israeli army sparked clashes with locals youth, prompting Israeli army forces to raid Kifl Haris, when a number of Israeli settlers were reportedly detained and interrogated over “violating Israeli military orders that bans Israelis from entering Palestinian districts.”
Residents of Kifl Haris have been living a continuous tension due to Israeli settlers’ raids to allegedly visit Jewish religious sites.
A number of tombs exist in Kifl Haris, which Palestinians in the area believe to be the graves of Muslim prophet Dhul-Kifl, the Sufi saint Dhul-Nun, and another shrine built by 12-century Sultan Saladin.
However, some Jews believe the tombs belong to the biblical figures Joshua, Caleb, and Nun.
Like many other Palestinian towns across the West Bank with religiously significant sites, Kifl Haris, situated on the main road connecting the illegal Ariel settlement to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, commonly experiences incursions by Israeli settlers accompanied by armed escorts.
Settlers who visit the tombs to pray often actively disrupt Palestinian residents and damage property.
Meanwhile, Palestinians are restricted from visiting holy sites in Israel without hard-to-obtain permits from Israeli authorities.
Given the tendency for Jewish radicals to carry the day, it is worth describing the most radical Zionist fringe as it exists now. It is common among radical Zionists to project a much larger Israel that reflects God’s covenant with Abraham. Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, maintained that the area of the Jewish state stretches: “From the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates.”110 This reflects God’s covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15: 18–20 and Joshua 1 3–4: “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.” The flexibility of the ultimate aims of Zionism can also be seen by Ben-Gurion’s comment in 1936 that
The acceptance of partition [of the Palestinian Mandate] does not commit us to renounce Transjordan [i.e., the modern state of Jordan]; one does not demand from anybody to give up his vision. We shall accept a state in the boundaries fixed today. But the boundaries of Zionist aspirations are the concern of the Jewish people and no external factor will be able to limit them.111
Ben-Gurion’s vision of “the boundaries of Zionist aspirations” included southern Lebanon, southern Syria, all of Jordan, and the Sinai.112 (After conquering the Sinai in 1956, Ben-Gurion announced to the Knesset that “Our army did not infringe on Egyptian territory… Our operations were restricted to the Sinai Peninsula alone.”113 Or consider Golda Meir’s statement that the borders of Israel “are where Jews live, not where there is a line on the map.”114
These views are common among the more extreme Zionists today— especially the fundamentalists and the settler movement—notably Gush Emunim—who now set the tone in Israel. A prominent rabbi associated with these movements stated: “We must live in this land even at the price of war. Moreover, even if there is peace, we must instigate wars of liberation in order to conquer [the land].”115 Indeed, in the opinion of Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky, “It is not unreasonable to assume that Gush Emunim, if it possessed the power and control, would use nuclear weapons in warfare to attempt to achieve its purpose.”116 This image of a “Greater Israel” is also much on the minds of activists in the Muslim world. For example, in a 1998 interview Osama bin Laden stated,
[W]e know at least one reason behind the symbolic participation of the Western forces [in Saudi Arabia] and that is to support the Jewish and Zionist plans for expansion of what is called the Great Israel…. Their presence has no meaning save one and that is to offer support to the Jews in Palestine who are in need of their Christian brothers to achieve full control over the Arab Peninsula which they intend to make an important part of the so called Greater Israel.117
To recap: A century ago Zionism was a minority movement within Diaspora Judaism, with the dominant assimilationist Jews in the West opposing it at least partly because Zionism raised the old dual loyalty issue, which has been a potent source of anti-Semitism throughout the ages. The vast majority of Jews eventually became Zionists, to the point that now not only are Diaspora Jews Zionists, they are indispensable supporters of the most fanatic elements within Israel. Within Israel, the radicals have also won the day, and the state has evolved to the point where the influence of moderates in the tradition of Moshe Sharett is a distant memory. The fanatics keep pushing the envelope, forcing other Jews to either go along with their agenda or to simply cease being part of the Jewish community. Not long ago it was common to talk to American Jews who would say they support Israel but deplore the settlements. Now such talk among Jews is an anachronism, because support for Israel demands support for the settlements. The only refuge for such talk is the increasingly isolated Jewish critics of Israel, such as Israel Shamir118 and, to a much lesser extent, Michael Lerner’s Tikkun.119 [or sites like Mondoweiss]. The trajectory of Zionism has soared from its being a minority within a minority to its dominating the U.S. Congress, the executive branch, and the entire U.S. foreign policy apparatus.And because the Israeli occupation and large-scale settlement of the West Bank unleashed a wave of terrorist-style violence against Israel, Jews perceive Israel as under threat. [In Netanyahu’s critique of the UN Security Council resolution, he emphasized Palestinan terrorism as the main reason preventing a two-state solution.] As with any committed group, Jewish commitment increases in times of perceived threat to the community. The typical response of Diaspora Jews to the recent violence has not been to renounce Jewish identity but to strongly support the Sharon government and rationalize its actions. This has been typical of Jewish history in general. For example, during the 1967 and 1973 wars there were huge upsurges of support for Israel and strengthened Jewish identity among American Jews: Arthur Hertzberg, a prominent Zionist, wrote that “the immediate reaction of American Jewry to the crisis was far more intense and widespread than anyone could have foreseen. Many Jews would never have believed that grave danger to Israel could dominate their thoughts and emotions to the exclusion of everything else.”120 The same thing is happening now. The typical response to Israel’s current situation is for Jews to identify even more strongly with Israel and to exclude Jews who criticize Israel or support Palestinian claims in any way.
This “rallying around the flag” in times of crisis fits well with the psychology of ethnocentrism: When under attack, groups become more unified and more conscious of boundaries, and have a greater tendency to form negative stereotypes of the outgroup. This has happened throughout Jewish history.121
Several commentators have noted the void on the Jewish left as the conflict with the Palestinians has escalated under the Sharon government. As noted above, surveys in the 1980s routinely found that half of U.S. Jews opposed settlements on the West Bank and favored a Palestinian state.122 Such sentiments have declined precipitously in the current climate:
At a progressive synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Rabbi Rolando Matalo was torn between his longtime support for Palestinian human rights and his support for an Israel under siege. “There is a definite void on the left,” said Matalo…. Many American Jewish leaders say Israel’s current state of emergency—and growing signs of anti-Semitism around the world—have unified the faithful here in a way not seen since the 1967 and 1973 wars…. These feelings shift back and forth, but right now they’re tilting toward tribalism.123
Note that the author of this article, Josh Getlin, portrays Israel as being “under siege,” even though Israel is the occupying power and has killed far more Palestinians than the Palestinians have killed Israelis.
“I don’t recall a time in modern history when Jews have felt so vulnerable,” said Rabbi Martin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles…. This week, the center will be mailing out 600,000 “call to action” brochures that say “Israel is fighting for her life” and urge American Jews to contact government leaders and media organizations worldwide…. Rabbi Mark Diamond, executive vice president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, said debate over the West Bank invasion and the attack on the Palestinian Jenin refugee camp is overshadowed by “a strong sense that Israel needs us, that the world Jewry needs us, that this is our wake-up call.” He said he has been overwhelmed in recent weeks by numerous calls from members of synagogues asking what they can do to help or where they can send a check…. “I have American friends who might have been moderate before on the issue of negotiating peace, but now they think: ‘Our whole survival is at stake, so let’s just destroy them all,’” said Victor Nye, a Brooklyn, N.Y., businessman who describes himself as a passionate supporter of Israel.
In this atmosphere, Jews who dissent are seen as traitors, and liberal Jews have a great deal of anxiety that they will be ostracized from the Jewish community for criticizing Israel.124 This phenomenon is not new. During the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, Richard Cohen of the Washington Post criticized the Begin government and was inundated with protests from Jews. “Here dissent becomes treason—and treason not to a state or even an ideal (Zionism), but to a people. There is tremendous pressure for conformity, to show a united front and to adopt the view that what is best for Israel is something only the government there can know.”125 During the same period, Nat Hentoff noted in the Village Voice, “I know staff workers for the American Jewish Committee and the American Jewish Congress who agonize about their failure to speak out, even on their own time, against Israeli injustice. They don’t, because they figure they’ll get fired if they do.”126
Reflecting the fact that Jews who advocate peace with the Palestinians are on the defensive, funding has dried up for causes associated with criticism of Israel. The following is a note posted on the website of Tikkun by its editor, Michael Lerner:
TIKKUN Magazine is in trouble—because we have continued to insist on the rights of the Palestinian people to full self-determination. For years we’ve called for an end to the Occupation and dismantling of the Israeli settlements. We’ve called on the Palestinian people to follow the example of Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela and Gandhi—and we’ve critiqued terrorism against Israel, and insisted on Israel’s right to security. But we’ve also critiqued Israel’s house demolitions, torture, and grabbing of land. For years, we had much support. But since Intifada II began this past September, many Jews have stopped supporting us—and we’ve lost subscribers and donors. Would you consider helping us out?”127
Another sign that Jews who are “soft” on Israel are being pushed out of the Jewish community is an article by Philip Weiss.128 The refusal of liberal American Jews to make an independent stand has left the American left helpless. American liberalism has always drawn strength from Jews. They are among the largest contributors to the Democratic Party; they have brought a special perspective to any number of social-justice questions, from the advancement of blacks and women to free speech. They fostered multiculturalism…. The Holocaust continues to be the baseline reference for Jews when thinking about their relationship to the world, and the Palestinians. A couple of months ago, I got an e-mail from a friend of a friend in Israel about the latest bus-bombing. “They’re going to kill us all,” was the headline. (No matter that Israel has one of largest armies in the world, and that many more Palestinians have died than Israelis). Once, when I suggested to a liberal journalist friend that Americans had a right to discuss issues involving Jewish success in the American power structure—just as we examined the WASP culture of the establishment a generation ago—he said, “Well, we know where that conversation ends up: in the ovens of Auschwitz.”
Because of Jewish ethnocentrism and group commitment, stories of Jews being killed are seen as the portending of another Holocaust and the extinction of the Jewish people rather than a response to a savage occupation—a clear instance of moral particularism writ large.
The same thing is happening in Canada….
Omar Baddar | January 2, 2017
UN Resolutions on the settlements:
The international Court of Justice on the wall, settlements, and the occupation: https://goo.gl/wgWEZR
Successive US administrations on Israeli settlements:
Is a school lesson plan widely used across Canada aimed at fighting racism like its promoters say or is it also a clever cover for defending Jewish/white supremacy in the Middle East?
A recent 12-page Canadian Jewish News insert about Elizabeth and Tony Comper raises the issue. According to the supplement, in 2005 the Bank of Montreal head and his wife Elizabeth started Fighting Anti-Semitism Together (FAST), a coalition of non-Jewish business leaders and prominent individuals. FAST sponsored a lesson plan for Grades 6 to 8 called “Choose Your Voice: Antisemitism in Canada”. Over 2.4 million students in 19,000 schools have been through the FAST program. A year ago FAST added Voices into Action, an anti-racism lesson for Canadian high schoolers that devotes a third of its plan to the Nazi Holocaust in Europe.
Unfortunately, FAST does not appear to be an example of business leaders struggling for social justice. Rather, it’s part of what Norman Finkelstein dubbed the “Holocaust Industry”, which exploits historical Jewish suffering to deflect criticism of Israeli expansionism.
In its “What We Stand For” FAST calls on Canadians “to speak out against all forms of bigotry, racism and hatred”, yet the Compers’ were honoured guests at a 2009 Jewish National Fund fundraiser in Toronto. Owner of 13 per cent of Israel’s land, the JNF discriminates against Palestinian–Arab citizens who make up a fifth of Israel’s population. (What would we think of anti-racist activists who attend KKK meetings?)
In a 2006 article titled “BMO head slams one-sided Israel critics” the Canadian Jewish News reported on FAST’s Quebec launch: “Singling out Israel for blame in the Middle East conflict, even by those of good faith, is fanning anti-Semitism, Bank of Montreal president Tony Comper says. It may not be the intent, but the effect of condemning Israel alone is providing justification for hatred of Jews in Canada and internationally, Comper warned more than 400 business executives. … In underscoring the serious threat of anti-Semitism worldwide, Comper suggested that ‘a second Holocaust’ is possible if Iran acquires nuclear arms and attacks Israel.” In his speech Comper cited CUPE Ontario and the Toronto Conference of the United Church of Canada’s support for boycotting Israel as spurring anti-Semitism.
FAST supporters include a who’s who of the corporate elite: President TD Bank, Ed Clark; CEO of CN, Hunter Harrison; CEO of Manulife Financial, Dominic D’Allessandro; CEO of Bombardier, Laurent Beaudoin; president of Power Corporation, André Desmarais; President RBC Financial, Gordon M. Nixon and many others.
According to the Canadian Jewish News supplement, the Toronto couple also sponsored the Elizabeth and Tony Comper Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Antisemitism and Racism at the University of Haifa in Israel. The Center operates an online Ambassadors Program, which reports the paper, “gives students intellectual material and technical skills to combat online the global boycott, divestment and sanctions anti-Israel movement.”
The supplement was partly sponsored by Larry and Judy Tanenbaum. Larry was one of a half-dozen rich right-wing donors that scrapped the hundred-year-old Canadian Jewish Congress in 2011 and replaced it with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. As the name change suggests, this move represented a shift towards ever greater lobbying in favour of Israeli nationalism.
The Compers provided over $500 000 to the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. Established in 2008, Larry and Ken Tanenbaum gave the U of T five million dollars and helped raise more than ten million more for the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies.
Andrea and Charles Bronfman gave over $500 000 to the Anne Tanenbaum Centre, which has close ties with the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Chair in Israeli Studies. In 1997 the Bronfman family provided $1.5 million to create an Andrea and Charles Bronfman Chair in Israeli Studies at the U of T. “Fifty years after its rebirth, the miracle of modern Israel is of broad interest,” said Charles Bronfman at the launch.
The long-standing Zionist family put up $1 million to establish a Jewish Studies program at Concordia two years later. An orchestrator of opposition to Palestinian solidarity activism at the Montreal university through the 2000s, Concordia Jewish studies professor Norma Joseph was also “instrumental” in setting up the Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies. In 2011 multi billionaire David Azrieli gave Concordia $5 million to establish the first minor in Israel Studies at a Canadian university. After attending an Association for Israel Studies’ conference organized by the Azrieli Institute, prominent anti-Palestinian activist Gerald Steinberg described the Institute as part of a “counterattack” against pro-Palestinian activism at Concordia.
The Israeli nationalist tilt of McGill’s Jewish studies is actually inscribed in a major funding agreement. In 2012 the estate of Simon and Ethel Flegg contributed $1 million to McGill’s Jewish Studies department partly for an “education initiative in conjunction with McGill Hillel.” But, Hillel refuses to associate with Jews (or others) who “delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel; support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the state of Israel.”
The individuals driving Jewish studies and anti-Semitism lessons in Canada overwhelmingly back Jewish/white supremacy in the Middle East and encourage the most aggressive ongoing European settler colonialism.
Unfortunately, support for anti-Palestinian racism, along with colonialism and western imperialism, makes one question their “anti-racism” credentials.
Yves Engler is the author of Canada in Africa: 300 years of aid and exploitation.
The United States hardly stood up to Israel in the latest meeting of the U.N. Security Council, where a historic, but largely symbolic, motion was passed condemning the apartheid state’s illegal settlement-building.
But Israel’s seething anger towards its ally, for what it perceives as betrayal, has prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to summon the U.S. ambassador to Israel on Christmas day.
While the envoys of 10 other nations were also summoned by the Israeli foreign ministry, harsher words were reserved for Washington after Friday’s vote.
“Over decades American administrations and Israeli governments disagreed about settlements, but we agreed that the security council was not the place to resolve this issue,” Netanyahu said, as reported by Reuters.
“We knew that going there would make negotiations harder and drive peace farther away. As I told John Kerry on Thursday, ‘Friends don’t take friends to the Security Council’,” he added.
Friday’s resolution was passed only because the United States broke its long-standing approach of diplomatically shielding Israel and did not wield its veto power, abstaining instead.
“According to our information, we have no doubt the Obama administration initiated it (the resolution), stood behind it, coordinated the wording and demanded it be passed,” Netanyahu told the cabinet.
The other envoys summoned included 10 of the 14 countries that voted for the resolution with embassies in Israel — the U.K., China, Russia, France, Egypt, Japan, Uruguay, Spain, Ukraine and New Zealand.
Local media also reported Sunday that Netanyahu ordered his ministers not to travel to the 14 countries that approved the U.N. resolution, forbidding them from even meeting their counterparts from those countries.
On Friday Israel also announced that it would recall its ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal, cancel a planned state visit by the Senegalese foreign minister, as well as cut off all aid to the impoverished West African country.
While many have criticized the motion for being both toothless and too late, Israel’s retaliation suggests it may help further delegitimize the country’s system of apartheid, and could provide material support for Palestine’s complaint to the international criminal court about the settlements.
Israeli High Court Allows Ghaith-Sub Laban Family to Stay in Their Home of Six Decades for 10 Years more, but without Their Children
The Israeli High Court released late on Tuesday 20 December 2016 its decision regarding the Ghaith-Sub Laban eviction, in which the Court partially accepted the family’s appeal and stopping their eviction.
The decision keeps the family’s protected tenant status for 10 more years after which the family would be evicted and the house would be handed to the Israeli settler organization that requested their eviction.
The decision however limits the right to live in the house to Mrs. Nora Ghaith and her husband Mustafa Sub Laban without their children. The Court also excluded from its decision a small storage room for the family under the house which Israeli settlers can proceed in taking over.
The decision comes one day after the hearing held in front of the Israeli High Court yesterday in which the Court heard the family’s appeal against the eviction and the settler’s claims that the family abandoned their house years ago. During the hearing, the Court proposed a compromise to both parties under which the protected tenancy status would be limited to Nora and her husband and the family would be allowed to stay in the house as long as Nora and her husband live.
The settlers rejected the Court’s suggestion and instead proposed evicting the family and moving them to the small storage under the house which is no more than 20 squared meters in size.
The Court disregarded the settlers’ suggestion and ended the hearing only to come with this unjust decision the following day.
Nora Ghaith’s family rented the house located in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem in 1953 from the Jordanian Custodian of Public Property. She continued to live in the house after 1967 and currently lives in the house with her husband, her two sons Ahmad and Rafat, her daughter Lama as well as her daughter in law Ruba and two grandchildren Mustafa and Kenan aged 9 and 4.
Nora Ghaith-Sub Laban commented by saying that the Court simply acknowledged the settler’s claims that the house is abandoned and ruled to separate her family. As per the High Court’s decision, Nora will have to be separated from her grandchildren as well as her unmarried son and daughter.
In case the family refuses to comply with the Court’s decision, the settlers can file a new request to evict the family before the 10 years have passed.
Ahmad Sub Laban, journalist and human rights activist, further added that the Israeli High Court’s decision in fact evicts part of the family and keep another temporarily.
Israeli judiciary once again sustains the discrimination that Palestinians face, where Israeli settlers are allowed to reclaim property they allegedly owned pre 1948 whereas Palestinians are prohibited from the same.
Today we also witness how the Court ruled to separate a family by deciding who can live in the house and who cannot.
The Israeli High Court, as with all similar eviction or house demolition cases, have proved itself to be a partner to Israel’s settlement expansion policy and to settler’s ambition to take over as many houses in occupied East Jerusalem. This is simply legitimizing the Israeli occupation’s policies that violate international law and an endorsement of Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem after 1967.
Dutch secret services conducted an investigation into suspicions that Geert Wilders, head of the anti-Islam Party for Freedom, was strongly influenced by top Israeli military and political figures, according to reports in the Netherlands.
Wilders, the firebrand leader of the Dutch far-right Party for Freedom (PVV), was investigated by the country’s General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) between 2009 and 2010 over his “ties to Israel and their possible influence on his loyalty,” according to De Volkskrant newspaper, which conducted interviews with 37 public officials and former intelligence officers.
An investigation into an opposition leader is an exceptional case in the Netherlands, the newspaper noted, citing several former intelligence officers who said such inquiries are considered an “absolute no-go” due to political sensitivity.
Wilders was an MP at the time the AIVD probe was carried out, with his party supporting the center-right coalition government led by then Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, enabling it to remain in power.
The intelligence agency sanctioned the operation, citing concerns about “the possibility that Wilders is influenced by Israeli factors,” according to the newspaper.
Back in 2010, Wilders reportedly had close ties to influential people in Tel Aviv. At the time, he visited Major General Amos Gilad, former chief of the Israeli Defense Ministry’s intelligence division, and frequently met the Israeli ambassador in the Netherlands.
According to the De Volkskrant report, which cites sources from the Netherlands’ Jewish community, these contacts stalled as Wilders did not turn his agenda into policy.
The results of the AIVD investigation have never been disclosed. Both Gerard Bouman, who led the AIVD from 2007 to 2011, and Wilders himself declined to comment.
Wilders’ Israeli connections trace back to his youth, when he volunteered for a year at Moshav Tomer, a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, according to the Times of Israel. He also repeatedly referred to Jews as role models for Europe and urged a complete seizure of the West Bank. At one stage, his anti-Muslim slogans made him a star among Dutch Jewish constituencies and beyond.
According to a recent poll by Maurice de Hond, Wilders’ PVV would have won 33 seats in the 150-seat lower chamber of the Dutch parliament if elections had been held on November 29. In that case, Wilders would have become the Netherlands’ next prime minister as chairman of the biggest parliamentary party.
The far-right party has 15 seats in the current parliament, having gained about 10 percent of the vote at the 2012 general election. The next election is scheduled to take place in March 2017, leaving many to believe Wilders will triumph amid growing frustration with the Netherlands’ center-right coalition.
AUSTIN, Texas – PayPal is one of the world’s most popular ways to send or receive money online, but Palestinians are cut out of the action.
Time magazine reported in January that PayPal has 179 million active accounts in dozens of countries, and PayPal payments are widely accepted in online marketplaces from eBay to Etsy.
To sign up, every user needs to have an account at a bank recognized by the service. Since PayPal doesn’t recognize any Palestinian banks, Palestinians are effectively prevented from using the service. Critics say this has impacted not just individuals, but burgeoning industries and even the broader Palestinian economy.
“PayPal’s absence is a major obstacle to the growth of Palestine’s tech sector and the overall economy,” Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy, an NGO that promotes businesses in Palestine, wrote in an Aug. 23 open letter.
The letter, which was co-signed by more than 40 NGOs and Palestinian businesses, continues:
“Without access to PayPal, Palestinian entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and others face routine difficulties in receiving payments for business and charitable purposes. Moreover, PayPal’s absence is problematic for the overall Palestinian economy as tech is one of the only sectors with the potential to grow under status quo conditions of the Israeli occupation which severely restricts the internal and cross-border movement of goods and people.”
For the past decade, Israel has maintained a blockade on Palestinian imports of everything from everyday goods like crayons to crucial building supplies like concrete. Palestinian exports are heavily restricted, too.
Palestine is home to a thriving tech economy, Mike Butcher wrote in a Sept. 9 report. The TechCrunch editor-at-large continued:
“Palestine produces roughly 2,000 IT graduates per year. Both the West Bank and Gaza now have a number of technology companies which, ironically, see tech as a way of developing their economy, just as the Israelis do.”
While PayPal doesn’t recognize Palestinian banks, the authors of the open letter noted that many Palestinians live side by side with illegal Israeli settlers, who, purely by virtue of possessing Israeli bank accounts, are free to make use of the service. Israel demolished over 200 Palestinian homes this year, bringing its expansion of illegal settlements to record levels in 2016.
“We believe a company like PayPal, whose actions in North Carolina reaffirmed its commitment to equal rights, would agree that people living in the same neighborhood ought to have equal rights and access to its services regardless of religion or ethnicity,” the letter noted.
In April, Paypal pulled hundreds of jobs out of North Carolina after the state passed the so-called “bathroom bill,” which rescinded local protections for LGBT people, put restrictions on bathroom access for transgender individuals, and banned cities from passing increases to the minimum wage.
PayPal maintains multiple offices in Israel and has invested millions into its businesses there. The company does not seem poised to take a similar stand in Israel in response to the ongoing repression of the indigenous Palestinian population, who face severe restrictions on their movement and frequent attacks by the Israeli military, among other human rights abuses.
After the open letter was published, other organizations that support Palestine soon joined in by urging PayPal to expand into Gaza, launching a petition and social media campaign, #PayPal4Palestine. […]
In a message of support sent on Oct. 29 by Ramah Kudaimi, director of grassroots organizing at the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, wrote:
“Palestinians being denied access to PayPal means they cannot use their services to run a business, or raise money for a charity, or send cash to a relative, or make everyday purchases online. Getting access to PayPal can make a real difference in the lives of so many Palestinians as the struggle for freedom, justice, and equality continues.”
The tech giant seems unmoved by activists and Palestinian entrepreneurs’ requests to do business. The firm sent Butcher a dismissive response to his request for comment.
“We appreciate the interest that the Palestinian community has shown in PayPal,” the company’s representative wrote, but, the statement continued, “we do not have anything to announce for the immediate future.”
Human rights organisation Al-Marsad has written to the EU, European governments and the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council regarding the approval last month by the Israeli government to expand the largest illegal Israeli settlement in the Occupied Syrian Golan by 1,600 settlements units; and the planned appropriation of Syrian land under the guise of the ‘Hermon National Park’ plan. The letter is available here.
In October, the Israeli Finance Ministry approved plans for the construction of 1,600 settlement units in the illegal Israeli settlement of Katzrin. With a population of 8,000, Katzrin is the largest Israeli settlement in the Occupied Syrian Golan. It was built over the destroyed Syrian villages of Qasrin, Shqef and Sanawber whose inhabitants were either forced to leave their homes by the Israeli army or were displaced by fighting during the Israeli occupation in 1967.
Katzrin is also home to various settlement businesses that illegally exploit the natural resources of the Occupied Syrian Golan, such as the Golan Heights Winery and Eden Springs / May Eden mineral water. In addition, Afek, an Israeli oil company that is illegally conducting oil exploration in the Occupied Syrian Golan, has an office in Katzrin. Afek is owned by a US company, Genie Energy, that includes Rupert Murdoch, Dick Cheney and James Woolsey (former head of the CIA) on its advisory board.
Furthermore, this announcement follows approval by the Israeli government in 2014 for a $108 million investment to establish 750 Israeli settlement ‘farming estates’ on 7,100 acres of land in the Occupied Syrian Golan.
Meanwhile, under the guise of the ‘Hermon National Park’ plan the Israeli authorities are seeking to appropriate 25,000 acres of land that have been used by the residents of Syrian villages, Majdal Shams and Ein Qynia, since Ottoman rule for agriculture and housing. If approved the ‘Hermon National Park’ plan would, in particular, surround Majdal Shams in the north and west. Therefore, the only area available for urban expansion of the village would be agricultural land in the south – a main source of livelihood for the local Syrian population. It is not possible to expand the village to the east given its close proximity to the fortified ceasefire line.
The designation of land by the Israeli authorities as a ‘national park’, ‘abandoned property’ or for ‘military or public needs’ is a regularly used tactic to either prevent the expansion of Syrian and Palestinian communities under occupation, or to appropriate land for settlement construction.
• Calls on the international community to strongly condemn plans for the construction of 1600 settlement units in the illegal settlement of Katzrin and the planned expropriation of Syrian land under the guise of the ‘Hermon National Park’ plan; and obtain binding commitments from Israel that it will stop these activities.
• Invites foreign governments and international organisations to send fact-finding missions to the Occupied Syrian Golan to witness firsthand the deteriorating human rights situation.
Al-Marsad is an independent, not-for-profit, legal human rights organisation – it is the only human rights organisation operating in the Occupied Syrian Golan. For additional information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Hebron, occupied Palestine – The Jewish holiday/celebration of Chayei Sarah and the reading of the Torah regarding Sarah took place in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron) on 25th and 26th November 2016.
Beginning of Friday hundreds of Jews from illegal colonial settlements within the West Bank as well as Jews from Israel began arriving. It was estimated there may be as many as 1500 coming for their festivities. Huge tents and designated camping areas were set up (some in areas owned by Palestinians). They were also staying with families and friends in the existing illegal settlements here in al-Khalil.
This automatically meant more Israeli occupation forces, more border police, much more “security” at checkpoints that Palestinians need to pass through on a regular basis as part of their normal daily routines (going to work, shopping, etc.) It also meant a complete closure of many of the checkpoints, not allowing anyone who was not here for the festival (that is a colonial settler) to go through.
On Saturday “security” was at its peak. Every Saturday afternoon there is a tour of the Palestinian Old City by settlers from the illegal settlements. This usually consists of around 20 to 150 settlers. With about as many Israeli occupation force soldiers to “protect” them. This weekend the tour consisted of nearly 2700 settlers. This obviously meant more soldiers, on roof tops, police dogs sniffing out the route before the tour began, soldiers positioned approximately every 50 meters along the entire route and at the beginning and end of the group. Many shop owners closed early for fear of trouble by the settlers parading through the Old City.
The settlers who participated were singing, dancing, acting provocatively aggressive towards the Palestinians and internationals who were trying to mind their own business or observing the events. There were many “shouts of “welcome to Israel” by the settlers as well as “f*ck you’s” and “this is our home not yours, we will never leave” at the Palestinians. An observer witnessed a number of incidents of harassment by the settlers toward anyone who was not Jewish and part of the group.
One Palestinian family in the Tel Rumeida area had their home invaded for approximately 10 hours by soldiers who set up observation on the roof and using their bathroom and kitchen as if it were their own place to do as they wished. An international who was invited to the home by the family to observe the goings on was forced to leave after an hour by the soldiers. The family was frightened by these events, but to the best of this writers knowledge there was no real damage done in the home by the soldiers.
An observer witnessed at least two Palestinian youth who were detained by the Israeli occupation forces for one reason or another. A third Palestinian was detained for trying to defend himself after a settler spit on him.
This is life in illegally settler occupied al-Khalil. The Israelis pretty much do as they wish and the Palestinian residents pay the consequences.