Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Republican nominee Donald Trump during a meeting in New York on September 25, 2016. (photo via @IsraeliPM)
Republican nominee Donald Trump promises Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the state of Israel” if he emerges victor in the US 2016 presidential election.
The meeting at the Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, on Sunday took nearly 90 minutes as Trump’s son-in-law and a close adviser, Jared Kushner, was on hand for the meeting along with Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer.
“A Trump administration would finally accept the long-standing Congressional mandate to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the state of Israel,” the Trump campaign said in a press release.
The two talked about “the special relationship between America and Israel and the unbreakable bond between the two countries.”
Trump asserted that the US military aid to Israeli missile system is “an excellent investment for America,” further calling Tel Aviv a “vital partner” in the war against “Islamic terrorism,” from which the Israelis have “suffered far too long.”
On the agenda at the meeting was also the nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers, including the United States.
Trump described East Jerusalem al-Quds, occupied by Israel since 1967, as “the eternal capital of the Jewish people.”
Trump’s statement was devoid of any reference to Israel’s heavy-handed crackdown in Palestine or even the so-called two –state solution, pursued in the foreign policy of the administration of President Barack Obama.
“The meeting concluded with both leaders promising the highest level of mutual support and cooperation should Mr. Trump have the honor and privilege of being elected president of the United States,” concluded the statement.
East Jerusalem al-Quds was occupied in 1967 and Israel later annexed it heedless of international condemnations.
The Palestinian Authority, which administers the occupied West Bank, views the city as the capital of its future state. Palestinians have also resisted numerous Israeli plans for exerting full control over the territory.
BETHLEHEM – Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman compared the illegal Israeli Amona outpost to the indigenous Palestinian Bedouin village of Susiya and Palestinian land in Jerusalem on Monday in a speech at Ariel University in the occupied West Bank, according to Israeli media.
The Amona outpost was slated for demolition following a 2008 Israeli Supreme Court decision after eight Palestinians from neighboring villages — with the support of Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din — successfully petitioned the court to remove the outpost on grounds that the construction was carried out on privately-owned Palestinian land.
“There is no way that Amona can be left as it is built today, because most of the houses are built on private Palestinian land,” Lieberman reportedly said on Monday, referring to Amona, which was built in 1996.
After years of appeals from right-wing Israeli government officials, and attempts by Amona settlers to prove they had legally purchased the land, an Israeli police investigation in May 2014 found the entirety of the outpost to have been built on Private Palestinian lands, and that the documents used by Amona residents to try claim their “purchases” were in fact forged.
In December 2014, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered again that the outpost be demolished by December 2016.
According to Haaretz, Lieberman followed up on his comments about Amona on Monday with the stipulation that “all the rules that apply to Amona apply to every other place as well.”
Claiming that “there is only one law for both Israelis and Palestinians,” Lieberman reportedly told the audience that it was unacceptable that such rulings — as in the case of Amona, which along with every other settlement and outpost in the occupied West Bank is internationally recognized as being illegal — are unfairly enforced against Israelis but not against “other trespassers.”
The “trespassers” Lieberman was referring to were the Palestinian residents of Susiya in the southern West Bank, and the Palestinians of the area known as the “E1 corridor,” a contentious zone that the Israeli government has set up to link annexed East Jerusalem with the mega settlement of Maale Adumim, which would virtually cut the occupied West Bank in half, making the creation of a contiguous Palestinian State impossible.
“We are a nation based on law and we will honor court decisions in all circumstances,” Lieberman said, saying that “when it comes to enforcing rulings against other trespassers everyone stands up on their hind legs,” seemingly complaining about the international community’s harsh reactions to Israeli government attempts to demolish Susiya and replace it with an illegal Jewish settlement of the exact same name.
Susiya’s residents have been embroiled in a decades-long legal battle to legalize the village and have endured multiple demolitions enforced by Israeli authorities over the years, who say Palestinians lack the proper building permits to live on the land that lies between an Israeli settlement and Israel-controlled archaeological site.
The privately owned Palestinian land is located in Area C — the more than 60 percent of the occupied West Bank under full Israeli control — where building permits for Palestinians are nearly impossible to obtain.
Many of the villagers have ties to the land that predate the creation of the state of Israel, and Ottoman-era land documents to prove it.
Most recently, in mid-July, authorities from Israel’s Civil Administration abruptly halted months of dialog with Susiya’s residents over the possibility of legalizing the village, telling them that a future agreement on the village would now be the responsibility of Lieberman.
Lieberman postponed the announcement of his decision twice, first until November 2016, and then until December.
According to spokesperson for Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) Yariv Mohar, who is assisting in Susiya’s legal battle, Lieberman’s decision on whether or not to continue the dialogue between the residents of Susiya and the Civil Administration is set to be announced on December 15, 2016.
Lieberman will be responsible for deciding whether to accept the state of Israel’s request to immediately and without prior notice demolish some 40 percent of the southern occupied West Bank village, where half of the some 200 village residents live according to RHR.
The lawyers of RHR have affirmed that there is no question as to whether the residents own the land they are on, also noting that “basic (Jewish) morality dictates it is wrong to demolish part of a village which has previously demolished without any plan or solution for the residents, while international law prohibits the forcible transfer of populations,” Mohar told Ma’an in August.
Though Lieberman has yet to formally announce a decision, his comments on Monday indicate that in his opinion, the residents of Susiya should be subject to the same treatment as the illegal settlers occupying privately owned Palestinian land in Amona.
Lieberman has previously advocated policies ranging from the overthrow of the Palestinian Authority to the deportation of Palestinian citizens of Israel into the occupied Palestinian territory, while promoting the transfer of towns in Israel that are heavily populated by Palestinians to a future Palestinian state in exchange for illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Lieberman himself lives in the southern occupied West Bank Israeli settlement of Nokdim, in contravention of international law.
Since appointed as defense minister by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in May, the two have teamed up to approve hundreds of new housing units in illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
RAMALLAH – Israeli forces imprisoned 30 teenage Palestinians over the month of August and collected 65,000 shekels ($17,270) from their families as fines, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said Monday, with the majority of the detainees saying they were beaten and tortured during their detention, interrogation, and transport from one detention center to another.
A statement released Monday quoted the committee’s lawyer Luay Akka as saying that among the detainees were minors as young as 13 years old.
Akka added that 17 of the detainees were taken from their homes during military raids, five were detained from off the street, four at military checkpoints, and four arrived voluntarily to detention centers after they received summons from Israeli authorities.
Three of the 30 detainees were held without being charged or standing trial in administrative detention, and the rest were sentenced after court hearings to periods ranging from one month to 45 months.
Mousa Khanafsa, a 14-year-old boy from Abu Dis in the Jerusalem district of the occupied West Bank told Akka that he was violently beaten when he was detained from a street near his house.
A group of undercover Israeli officers, he said, chased him in the street and when they caught him they “assaulted him with the butts of their rifles, stomped on him with military boots, and was left bleeding from his nose.”
It was the latest report to emerge recently from the committee and other rights groups, amid years of well-documented abuse and mistreatment of Palestinian children by Israeli forces.
Akka reported last month on the cases of two Palestinian minors who were tortured, abused, and medically neglected in Israeli custody, one of which after being shot at point-blank range when Israeli forces detained them for rock throwing in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah.
Locals in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Tur reported Saturday that Israeli police detained and assaulted 16-year-old Jamal al-Zaatari. During his detention, Jamal was pepper sprayed and beaten, resulting in injuries to his face, back, and feet, in addition to several bruises.
A report released recently by BADIL, a Palestinian NGO, warned of an increasing trend of Israeli forces shooting and injuring Palestinian youth — particularly in the knees and legs — during the near-nightly detention raids carried across the occupied West Bank.
Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) has also extensively documented the abuse of Palestinians children in East Jerusalem by Israeli forces and the harsh interrogation practices used to force their confessions.
Despite “on paper” having more rights than Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank who are subject to a draconian military detention system, in practice, Jerusalem minors “do not enjoy their enshrined rights” under the Israeli civilian court system, according to DCIP.
Out of 65 cases documented by DCIP in 2015, “more than a third of Jerusalem youth were arrested at night (38.5 percent), the vast majority (87.7 percent) were restrained during arrest, and only a slim minority of children (10.8 percent) had a parent or lawyer present during interrogation.”
Interrogations of Palestinian children can last up to 90 days according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, during which in addition to being beaten and threatened, cases of sexual assault, and placement in solitary confinement to elicit confessions are also often reported, while confession documents they are forced to sign are in Hebrew — a language most Palestinian children do not speak.
According to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, as of mid August, Israeli forces detained 560 children from occupied East Jerusalem alone since the beginning of 2016, and 110 minors were still being held in Israeli prisons, including four girls and 10 boys in juvenile detention centers.
According to Addameer, of the 7,000 Palestinians being held in Israeli custody, 250 were minors as of July.
France would never deny Israel’s right to Jerusalem, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in a letter sent to Shmuel Rabinovitch, the Rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Sites of Israel on Monday.
In April, UNESCO’s executive board released and then adopted a resolution, calling Israel “the Occupying Power” and urging it to “stop all violations against Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif [the Arabic name of a holy site in East Jerusalem].”
At the same time the resolution did not include the Israeli name of the site, known as Temple Mount, nor did it reference its role in Jewish culture. France is among the 33 countries that voted for the resolution. Jerusalem protested the resolution and the French vote on it.
France will never deny the “existing, true” Jewish historical right to Jerusalem, Valls was quoted as saying by The Jerusalem Post. “Unfortunate and clumsy formulations befell the language of UNESCO’s decision to the point of insult. I believe that this should have been avoided and that the vote should not have happened.”
On May 11, Valls condemned the UNESCO resolution.
In the letter to Rabinovitch, he added that Jerusalem “symbolizes the unification of the three major monotheistic religions.”
Palestinians have been vying for the recognition of their independent state, proclaimed in 1988, in the territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government refuses to recognize Palestine as an independent political and diplomatic entity, and continues to build settlements on the occupied land, despite objections from the United Nations.
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – The Israeli occupation police have handed professor Jamil Hamami, secretary-general of the higher Islamic commission in Occupied Jerusalem, a written order banning his travel abroad and to the West Bank.
According to this police order, Hamami will be prohibited from entering the West Bank for four months and the previous ban on his travel abroad will be extended for six months.
The police justified the measure against Hamami by saying that he is involved in banned activities and his departure for other countries will constitute a security threat to Israel.
For his part, Hamami, who works as a lecturer at al-Quds University, condemned Israel’s decision against him as “unjust and a violation of the Palestinians’ right to travel and movement”. He considered this Israeli step as “part of the Israeli campaign that targets the Palestinian dignitaries in Jerusalem.”
Palestinian journalist Samah Dweik has been sentenced by the Israeli Jerusalem court to six months and one day in prison, on charges of “incitement” for posting on her Facebook page. She was arrested on 10 April 2016 from her home in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood of Silwan, Jerusalem, in a pre-dawn raid in which occupation soldiers invaded and ransacked her home, accused of posting in support of the intifada on Facebook.
She is one of hundreds of Palestinians targeted for arrest and persecution on the basis of postings on social media. Dweik, 25, is a freelance journalist who works with Quds News Network. She is one of over 20 Palestinian journalists detained and imprisoned by Israel, including Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate leader Omar Nazzal, Addameer media coordinator Hasan Safadi, and multiple journalists accused of “incitement” for posting on social media.
Dweik is one of over 60 Palestinian women imprisoned by Israel, held in HaSharon and Damon prisons. On Saturday, 16 July, two more Palestinian women were arrested: Banan Mahmoud Mafarjah, 21, a medical student at Al-Quds University in Abu Dis, Jerusalem, was arrested at an Israeli occupation “flying checkpoint” west of Ramallah; while Amal Masalmah of al-Khalil was among 10 Palestinians detained in late night and pre-dawn raids on 17 July.
Fares Khader al-Rishq
RAMALLAH – A Palestinian youth was killed and another injured by Israeli forces while a third was detained early on Wednesday, as soldiers opened fire at the youths’ vehicle in the town of al-Ram in the occupied West Bank’s Jerusalem district.
The youth who was killed was identified as Anwar al-Salaymeh, 22, and the two survivors were identified as Fares Khader al-Rishq, 20, who remains critically injured, and Muhammad Nassar, 20, who was detained by Israeli forces after the incident.
Locals told Ma’an that Israeli forces opened fire at three Palestinians youths, all residents of al-Ram, in a vehicle inside the town around dawn, as the three were seemingly unaware that Israeli forces were deployed in the town and conducting raids.
An Israeli army spokesperson said that the presence of Israeli authorities in the town was due to the fact that Israeli forces, border guards and police reportedly found a blacksmith workshop in al-Ram that manufactured weapons.
Witnesses confirmed that Israeli forces and military vehicles raided al-Ram, closed the main street and raided a blacksmith workshop in the area.
The Israeli spokesperson added that during the military raid, border guards allegedly “saw a speeding vehicle heading towards them” and opened fire, killing one of the passengers and injuring another while a third was detained and transferred for interrogation.
According to locals, al-Rishq’s vehicle arrived near the area where the raid was taking place, and Israeli soldiers opened fire at the car from a close distance, injuring al-Rishq and al-Salaymeh, who later died.
Witnesses said that Israeli forces prevented Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances from reaching the injured.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed that an unidentified teen from al-Ram succumbed to his wounds after being critically injured by Israeli live fire aimed at the car, while another was injured during the same incident.
Locals added that clashes erupted between youths and Israeli forces, while soldiers opened live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear-gas bombs.
An unidentified youth was also reportedly detained during clashes.
Qalandia Refugee Camp, Occupied Palestine – The holy month of Ramadan has come to an end. But in Palestine, as in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and too many other places, Muslim families are not able to enjoy this special time of the year in peace and comfort. On Sunday night at 11pm, more than 1000 Israeli soldiers, according to locals’ estimations, entered Qalandia Refugee Camp in the Occupied West Bank. The huge military incursion sparked clashes in which 15 Palestinians were shot. Occupation Forces used live ammunition and rubber coated steel bullets on civilians while firing tear gas and stun grenades at approaching ambulances, preventing Palestinian Red Crescent medics from reaching the wounded.
Red Crescent ambulance damaged by Israeli forces
Among the injured was a 19 year old girl and a 15 year old boy, each shot with live ammunition and brought to the hospital in serious condition. The army entered the camp to demolish the homes of the families of two young men, Anan Habsah and Issa Asaaf, both 21, who carried out knife attacks and killed one soldier in East Jerusalem on December 23rd last year. Both were killed by soldiers while carrying out the attacks, so the demolition of the homes comes only as a form of collective punishment to terrorize the families and the people in Qalandia, who repeatedly suffer from night raids and house demolitions as well as beatings and arrests by the Israeli occupation forces.
Anan’s family first evacuated their home in January when the Israeli high court announced their decision to demolish the houses. The displaced family members lived spread across the area, staying at friends’ and family’s homes in Ramallah and elsewhere in Qalandia for two months until the lawyer suggested they could move back in in March. The father, Abu Saleh, refused to leave his home during the two month period however, staying in a tent outside the building. Three weeks ago the two families were yet again told to evacuate their homes and were informed that the demolition would take place within five days. However, the exact date of the demolition was not disclosed. Sunday night it finally happened without advance notice, and only two days before the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid celebrations.
In the ruins of his family home
Issa and his family have experienced severe trauma at the hands of occupation forces before, when he and his two younger sisters were brutally assaulted by Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint near East Jerusalem. The incident left one of Issa’s sisters unable to speak for three months, and caused the Assaf family significant distress and anguish.
Both Issa and Anan were imprisoned for significant periods of time; Anan at age fifteen for a period of eight months, and Issa for seven months in the year before his death.The families’ suffering did not end there, however. In the week following Issa’s release from prison, he was again assaulted at his home in Qalandia when soldiers dragged him from his home in the middle of the night and beat him in the street without justification.
The Habsah family also bears the long lasting scars of pain and trauma. Anan’s imprisonment as a child devastated the family, and they say their boy was never the same afterwards. “I know he did not want to die … but when a boy is put in jail, deprived of sleep, and deprived of his childhood, something in him changes,” said Anan’s uncle.
Inside the Asaaf family home
When we arrived on Monday morning, neighbors and relatives had already begun to gather in support of the families. Anan’s aunt explained to us that this is the third time her family had been forcibly displaced; first in 1948, when the family was expelled from their home in West Jerusalem, and later again in 1975 when their modest home in the refugee camp was destroyed for the first time.
UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness condemned the demolitions on Monday, stating that punitive home demolitions “inflict distress and suffering on those who have not committed the action which led to the demolition, and they often endanger people and property in the vicinity.” A 2005 study by the Israeli army itself concluded that home demolitions are not effective as a deterrent or punitive measure, but the practice still continues. According to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, about fifty thousand residential structures have been destroyed by Israel since 1967.
“This is psychological warfare. In the whole camp of more than ten thousand people, no one slept [last night], and they did not go to work today,” Adnan Habsah, the uncle of Anan said. Qalandia Refugee Camp has long been subjected to various forms of collective punishment by Israeli forces, and is severely affected by all aspects of the Illegal Occupation. The camp is located within area “C” and greater (East) Jerusalem, near the main checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem and beside the apartheid wall. According to the UNRWA, the construction and expansion of the Wall in the early 2000s has drastically affected the economic situation in the camp by isolating it from the Israeli job market and Jerusalem. According to the most recent data, Qalandia’s unemployment rate is as high as 40 percent, compared to Occupied Palestine’s overall rate of 26.6 percent.
The Camp was originally established to house some 5,000 Palestinians who were displaced by the 1948 Nakba. Today, according to Afaq Environmental Magazine, the population of Qalandia Refugee Camp has reached about 14,000. Under the 1993 Oslo Agreement, the whole territory of Qalandia Refugee Camp is classified as area “C,” where Israel retains full control over security and administration related to the territory; however, Qalandia camp, like other Palestinian refugee camps, is under the administrative control of UNRWA.
As the uncle of Anan said when we spoke to him on Monday, “This is a UN refugee camp. The whole world owns this place. You cannot destroy it.”
Abu Saleh, father of Anan Habsah
An obvious and oft-sighted criticism of the Nobel Peace Prize is just how many of its recipients have virtually no connection to the cause of peace or its advancement. If anything often it seems a reward for its negation. Henry Kissinger, recipient in 1973, would have to be the gold standard here. That very year saw Kissinger orchestrate the destruction of democracy in Chile and that was only after the secret bombing of Cambodia was concluded. Of Course stretch it forward and backward a couple of years and Kissinger’s trail of destruction extends from Bangladesh to East Timor.
A few years later Mother Theresa made an odd choice given the extra pain deliberately inflicted on the poor in her clinics and her support for Indira Gandhi’s suspension of civil liberties and in 1994 the triumvirate of Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin can hardly be deemed inspiring. Barack Obama got the nod less than a year into his presidency. It’s a good bet there are many in Pakistan, Yemen, and Honduras that would question the wisdom of that selection.
The year 1986 saw the Nobel go to recently deceased Elie Wiesel. Wiesel was famous for his novel/memoir Night and for being, according to the Nobel Prize’s webpage, ‘the leading spokesman on the Holocaust’, therefore seemingly by definition an alleged spokesman on human rights. A quick scan through many of the obituaries written for Wiesel the past couple of days show this quote from his Nobel acceptance speech given prominent status:
I swore never to be silent whenever human beings
Endure suffering and humiliation. We must always
Take side. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.
Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
A noble sentiment indeed but not one that seemed to inspire Wiesel to live up to his peace prize, in fact evidence suggests Wiesel had a soft spot for war, at least war in the Middle East. Four years before giving his acceptance speech of Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, where even an Israel commission found the Israeli military indirectly responsible for the Sabra and Shatila massacre, “I support Israel-period. I identify with Israel-period.” When asked to comment of the massacre: ‘I don’t think we should even comment’, then commenting he felt ‘sadness with Israel, not against Israel’ with nary a peep about the actual victims. Some years later Wiesel would be wheeled into the spotlight by the Bush administration to endorse the forthcoming invasion of Iraq. His statement at the time read: ‘Isn’t war forever cruel, the ultimate form of violence…. And yet, this time I support President Bush’s policy of intervention when, as is this case because of Hussein’s equivocations and procrastinations, no other option remains’.
In the midst of another Israeli operation in Lebanon, this one in 2006, Wiesel stood in front of a crowd in Manhattan (along with then Senator Hillary Clinton) and declared “Israel defends herself, and we must say to Israel ‘Go on defending yourself.’” His final years didn’t slow him down. Wiesel took out a full page ad in newspapers across the country during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict fully supporting Israel’s effort (Human Rights Watch went on to document several instances of war crimes by the Israeli military) without a syllable about diplomacy except that ‘before diplomats can begin in earnest the crucial business of rebuilding dialogue… the Hamas death cult must be confronted for what it is’. That ad was criticized by a large group of Nazi holocaust survivors in a subsequent ad in the New York Times which stated ‘Furthermore we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history in these pages to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and murder more than 2000 Palestinians, including hundreds of children.’
If being consistently hawkish on matters in the Middle East wasn’t enough for the press and governing elites to question Wiesel’s peace credentials, after all there aren’t too many wars the estates don’t get behind, it is hard to believe Wiesel wasn’t pushing his luck with some of his pieces in the Times over the years. Consider his 2001 piece Jerusalem in My Heart. Wiesel began with the following:
As a Jew living in the United States, I have long denied myself the right to intervene in Israel’s internal debates. I consider Israel’s destiny as mine as well, since my memory is bound up with its history. But the politics of Israel concern me only indirectly.
Strange as it was to be claiming neutrality not only in the face of his constant support for wars involving Israel and in light of his famous stand of neutrality as evil, Wiesel goes on in the same essay to renounce any such neutrality on the question of Jerusalem.
Now, though the topic is Jerusalem. Its fate affects not only Israelis, but also Diaspora Jews like myself. The fact that I do not live in Jerusalem is secondary; Jerusalem lives in me… That Muslims might wish to maintain close ties with this city unlike any other is understandable.
But for Jews it remains the first. Not just the first; the only.
This ode to fundamentalist thought, enhanced further by Wiesel pointing out that Jerusalem is mentioned more than 600 times in the Bible (a statement that ignores the fact that up to a fifth of Palestinians are Christians, and it’s worth asking how many times Jerusalem is mentioned in the Torah if this line of thought is to be pursued), is followed by the blatant lie, long universally known to be false, that “incited by their leaders 600,000 Palestinians left the country (in 1948) convinced that, once Israel was vanquished, they would be able to return home”.
Wiesel then ended with a call to defer the question of Jerusalem until all other pending questions are resolved, perhaps for 20 years to allow “human bridges” to be built between the two communities- which would figure to leave the city completely in Israeli hands until these bridges are built or at least until the rest of the world accepts that it belonged there all along.
About five years later (August 21, 2005) Wiesel was at it again with a bizarre piece titled The Dispossessed. It was another putrid effort that spoke of peace while covertly praising the worst of Zionist mythology. The title referred to the last holdouts of Israeli settlements in Gaza and reading between the lines Wiesel hints that the evacuation, where the settlers received generous compensation packages from the government, had the aura of a pogrom.
The images of the evacuation itself are heart-rending. Some of them unbearable. Angry men, crying women. Children led away on foot or in the arms of soldiers who are sobbing themselves.
Those “dispossessed” by Israeli soldiers were the hardcore remnant of a Greater Israel ideology more committed to fleeting territorial dreams than individual homes- most of the Gaza settlers saw the writing on the wall and left prior to the events Wiesel describes with such anguish. Of course Israel has long subsidized its settlements that have been declared illegal by the international community (including the U.S.). But of this remnant Wiesel reminds his readers: “Let’s not forget: these men and woman lived in Gaza for 38 years in the eyes of their families they were pioneers, whose idealism was to be celebrated”. Given the complete lack of interest Wiesel displays to Palestinian feelings on the same issue can it be reasonably assumed that Wiesel shares that same sentiment?
And here they are, obliged to uproot themselves, to take their holy and precious belongings, their memories and their prayers, their dreams and their dead, to go off in search of a bed to sleep in, a table to eat on, a new home, a future among strangers.
When Wiesel does turn to the Palestinians it is to criticize a lack of gratefulness in the face of noble Israeli concessions:
And here I am obliged to step back. In the tradition I claim, the Jew is ordered by King Solomon “not to rejoice when the enemy falls”. I don’t know whether the Koran suggests the same… I will perhaps be told that when the Palestinians cried at the loss of their homes, few Israelis were moved. That’s possible. But how many Israelis rejoiced?
After this demonization, ‘perhaps be told’ of ‘possible’ Palestinian suffering (and King Solomon may have been correct about not rejoicing when enemies fall but that isn’t quite how one recalls the conquering of the Canaanites as recorded by scripture), Wiesel again ends his essay with a call for a “lull” to allow “wounds to heal”- during which time Israel can presumably redraw the borders of the West Bank making a functional Palestinian state impossible. Again, like in the previous, essay he mentions the sadness he feels over Palestinian hatred of Jews; so much for neutrality.
All this reactionary thought, the worst of which would find few defenders outside the extreme Zionist right, didn’t make its way into Obama’s statement on Wiesel’s death (‘He raised his voice, not just against anti-Semitism, but against hatred, bigotry, and intolerance in all its forms’), nor did the fact that Wiesel opposed Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran (again with a full page ad in the Times). The Times itself conveniently overlooked the words Wiesel wrote for the paper in its very long obituary. If it is a timeless truism that the greatest gift modern marketing can bestow on anyone in its graces is the luxury of being judged by reputation and not by actual words and deeds, is it ever truer than for another Nobel ‘Peace’ prize winner?
Israeli occupation forces and the Palestinian Authority carried out 34 violations against Palestinian journalists in June, Quds Press reported an NGO saying.
Palestinian Youth Congress for Journalists said in a statement that the Israeli violations included direct assaults, firing rubber bullets at journalists and cameramen, arbitrary arrests and the closure of media offices.
The group said the attacks happened while the journalists were documenting Israeli aggression at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Photographer Rami Al-Khatib and journalists Osaid Amarneh and Ahmed Jaradat were wounded during the violence.
Moreover, the statement noted that the Israeli policy of arbitrary detention of Palestinian journalists continued as several journalists, including 25-year-old Nasser Al-Khatib from Ramallah, 27-year-old Iyad Al-Taweel and 43-year-old Bassam Al-Safadi from the Golan Heights were arrested.
There are currently 20 journalists being held in Israeli jails, the statement said.
The group added that Israel had closed Musawat TV which broadcasts from occupied Palestinian territories under the pretext that it incites hatred.
The Youth Congress reported 17 violations against journalists at the hands of the Palestinian Authority.
On Sunday the Israeli Cabinet approved the expansion of several Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, adding an additional 800 new units to the existing thousands of units constructed in Jewish-only settlements in direct contravention of international law.
Israeli officials say that the approval of 800 new housing units is meant to somehow ‘balance’ the implementation of a court ruling that 600 construction permits be approved for Palestinian families in Beit Safafa.
But while the Israeli officials may have political reasons for making such a claim, Palestinian analysts point out that there is no legal justification or comparison between the court decision about Beit Safafa and the announcement Sunday of the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements constructed on illegally-seized Palestinian land.
In the case involving Beit Safafa, an Israeli court ruled last month that the Israeli government had provided no sufficient evidence to back its claim that the Palestinian residents’ building permit applications should be denied, and ordered that construction could begin. But the Israeli government has, for the past month, prevented the court decision from being implemented.
The announcement Sunday that 800 new settlement units would be constructed in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank colonial settlement of Ma’ale Adumim came just two days after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu approved the expansion of another colonial settlement in Hebron by 42 additional units.
All Israeli settlements constructed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are considered illegal under international law, as they involve the direct transfer of Israel’s civilian population into areas seized by military force.
But the Israeli government considers many of these colonial settlements to be ‘legal’ under Israeli law, and provides infrastructure including water, sewage, electricity, policing and fire services to the majority of the hundreds of settlements that have been constructed on Palestinian land in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
In the case of Beit Safafa, the Israeli government had put together a plan to completely encircle the Palestinian town with several Jewish-only settlements, thus cutting off the town from the rest of the West Bank and Jerusalem.
The plan had involved the expansion of a small trailer park currently housing Ethiopian immigrants to Israel, on a hilltop in Beit Safafa. The trailer park, dubbed ‘Givat HaMatos’, was slated for massive expansion by the Israeli government until Palestinian residents of Beit Safafa took the government to court to challenge the expansion.
In a surprise victory a month ago, the Palestinian residents of Beit Safafa won their court battle. but the Israeli government failed to implement the decision before now.
Upon the announcement that the court’s decision would be carried out, the Israeli Minister for Jerusalem, Ze’ev Elkin, stated, “Anyone who is concerned about the Jewish majority in Israel’s capital cannot push a building plan just for Arabs [in Givat HaMatos]… You cannot just approve construction for Arabs in Givat HaMatos without also approving at the same time building for Jews in the same planned neighborhood.”
The plan to encircle Beit Safafa, while currently under scrutiny by international media and bodies, is just one part of the larger E1 Jerusalem plan, which would encircle East Jerusalem, kick out most of its Palestinian residents, and claim all the ‘conquered’ territory for the state of Israel. The plan was first introduced in the early 2000s, and has expanded since then.
Millions of people have attended the International Quds Day rallies across Iran and other countries to show their solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people and condemn Israeli atrocities.
The rallies in Iran, organized by the Islamic Propagation Coordination Council (IPCC), started at 10:30 local time (06:00 GMT) in Tehran and 850 others cities across the country.
Demonstrators, including Iranian Jews and other religious minorities, braved the sizzling heat of the summer, with the mercury touching 42°C in the capital.
People taking part in the rallies sought to communicate to the world the deplorable status of the Palestinians and press the Israeli regime to respect Palestinian rights.
Nine routes have been identified for the rallies throughout the Iranian capital, which witnessed the commencement of the demonstrations.
The late founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Imam Khomeini, named the last Friday of the lunar fasting month of Ramadan as the International Quds Day.
Each year, millions of people around the world stage rallies on this day to voice their support for the Palestinian nation and repeat their call for an end to the Tel Aviv regime’s atrocities and its occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (seen below) also joined the Friday rallies in the capital.
President Rouhani told reporters during the rally that the message of the Iranian people is that the Palestinians are not alone in their struggle against occupation and oppression.
He said the Israeli regime is bound by none of the internationals norms and rules and is a base for the US and the global arrogance in the region.
“Today, any country that fights this base and any country that wants stability and security in this region, is looked upon unfavorably by the global arrogance,” the Iranian president said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also took part in the rallies in Tehran. He said during the demonstration that, with their participation in the rallies, Iranian people are telling the world that they do not condone such wrong policies as occupation.
“The Muslim people of the region and the world,” Dr. Zarif said, “still identify the Zionist regime (Israel) as the biggest threat to the Islamic world and international peace and security.”
Other senior Iranian officials, including Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is the head of the country’s Expediency Council, Parliament (Majlis) Speaker Ali Larijani, and Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli-Larijani also took part in the rallies.
Israel & Arab governments
Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, a top military adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, said the Israeli regime and its sponsors are behind all miseries and the insecurity in Islamic and Arab countries from North Africa to West Asia.
The objective behind the creation of the Israeli regime, Maj. Gen. Rahim Safavi said, was “to create insecurity in and establish dominance over Arab and Islamic countries… and to plunder the natural resources of… these countries.”
“The Israeli regime, with US help, is after normalizing [its] ties with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and some other Arab states,” he said, adding, “Hand-in-hand with some Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, the [Tel Aviv] regime seeks to stoke war between Sunnis and Alawites and Shias in Islamic countries [like] Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Lebanon and Yemen.”
Rallies are also underway in other countries, including in Iraq, where people took to the streets of the capital, Baghdad, on Friday.
Mohammad Marandi, a professor at the University of Tehran, told Press TV that there is hardly any access to information about Israeli atrocities against Palestinians in the United States.
He said people trying to inform Americans of such Israeli behavior face acute antagonism.
At the end of the rallies, a statement was issued that called, among other things, for continued resistance in the face of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, unity among various Palestinian factions and continued support for Palestinian resistance, and maintaining unity in the Islamic world.
The final statement also condemned the proxy wars as well as the terrorist activities of Salafi and Takfiri groups in Islamic countries.
It also described the US as the number-one enemy of the Iranian nation, and called for vigilance in the face of US attempts to influence Iranian politics.