In recent years, the parents of Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and trusted confidant of US President-elect Donald Trump, have donated tens of thousands of dollars to organisations and institutions located in illegal West Bank settlements, according to their tax forms.
Kushner’s family donates a few million dollars a year on average to charitable causes through the Charles and Seryl Kushner Foundation, which Jared sits on the board of along with his brother and two sisters. The foundation was established in 1997.
Among organisations and institutions in the occupied West Bank that receive funding from the Kushner family, the American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva (religious school) received $20,000 in 2013.
Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that the president of American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva, whose offices are located in New York, is David Friedman, Trump’s senior adviser on Israel affairs. Friedman, who has served as Trump’s real estate lawyer for the past 15 years and is considered to be very close to the president-elect, has expressed interest in becoming the next US ambassador to Israel, Haaretz added.
Freidman is also seen as a top contender for the former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who was also keynote speaker at last year’s fundraising dinner for the Beit El Yeshiva American friends group.
The list of organisations that received donations from Kushner’s family foundation has included the Etzion Foundation, whose US fundraising offices are located in New Jersey. The foundation supports Yeshivat Har Etzion, Kibbutz Migdal Oz and the Herzog College teachers’ training institution – all are located in the illegal Gush Etzion settlement bloc outside Jerusalem. In 2012, the Kushner family foundation donated $5,000 to the Etzion Foundation, in addition to another $10,000 in 2013.
Another recipient of Kushner funding in Gush Etzion, which headquartered in the settlement of Efrat, is Ohr Torah Stone which received $5,000 in 2011.
The Od Yosef Chai yeshiva, a religious school in the occupied West Bank, was granted $500 by the Kushner family. According to Haaretz, this particular school did not receive any funding from the Israeli government, as it had been involved in launching violent attacks against nearby Palestinian villages and Israeli security forces.
In 2014, the Kushner family pledged $18 million to the Shaare Zedek Medical Centre in Jerusalem, in addition to the $2 million it had already committed earlier. The Kushners have a history of supporting hospitals – both in Israel and the United States – but this was by far the largest gift given by the family to a single medical institution, Haaretz noted.
Another key beneficiary of Kushner charity in Israel is the Israeli army. Between 2011 and 2013, the foundation donated a total of $315,000 to Friends of the IDF, on whose board Jared serves.
Among other institutions and organisations the Kushners have supported in Israel in the past four years, are the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra ($2,500); the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design ($1,000); United Hatzalah ($70,000); the Israel Cancer Research Fund ($10,000); Meir Panim Lachayal, another organisation that supports Israeli soldiers ($4,000); the Shalva Children’s Centre ($20,000); Ma’ayanei Yeshua Hospital ($25,000); and the Rabin Medical Centre ($23,000).
In the United States, the family foundation supports many Jewish day schools, charities and cultural centres. In recent years, it has contributed close to $30,000 to various institutions operated by Chabad – the ultra-Orthodox outreach organization.
One of the single largest beneficiaries of Kushner contributions in recent years has been the Ramaz School in Manhattan which received $250,000. Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, the former principal of Ramaz, supervised Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka’s conversion before she married Jared.
Last November, the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely welcomed suggestions that US President-elect Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner could be appointed as a special envoy to broker peace in the Middle East.
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.
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.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – After our afternoon school run today, two of us took a walk around a small part of Al Khalil.
The photos are sort of a mini-walking tour of some of the stolen Palestinian land, streets, homes and shops, roadblocks and checkpoints.
Note the diagonal iron bars on the shops. These are welded in place to keep their Palestinian owners from re-entering their own shops and businesses. Above the shops are now illegal colonial Zionist settlers living in the once owned homes of Palestinians.
On some of the streets Palestinians are prohibited from walking. And no Palestinian vehicles allowed.
Al Khalil is unique in that the illegal colonial settlers live right in the city among the Palestinians (of course with colonial Zionist Israeli Occupation Forces and walls and fences to “protect” them and many of these Zionists carry their automatic weapons with them as well.
Most illegal colonial settlements are separated or outside of the Palestinian villages, town, and cities (and generally an army base within or next to it. Currently there are over 600,000 living in these settlements in the West Bank and construction of new and expansion of existing ones continues!
A PIC news correspondent said the IOF rolled into the An-Najah Campus dormitory in al-Maajin neighborhood, in western Nablus, and wreaked havoc on the apartment of lecturer Issam Rashed al-Ashqar, 57, before they kidnapped him and seized his car.
Al-Ashqar, an ex-prisoner, is a lecturer at the Physics Department at An-Najah University. He had previously been sentenced to several prison-terms, mostly in administrative detention, without charge or trial. He has also been diagnosed with health disorders.
The Israeli occupation army further kidnapped the two Palestinian citizens Amjad Abu Sbeih and Yazen al-Basiti from their own family homes in Jerusalem’s Old City.
The IOF stormed Jenin’s western towns of Anin and Zabouba and cracked down on Palestinian drivers in the eastern outskirts of the city.
A PIC reporter quoted eyewitnesses as stating that the IOF kidnapped the citizen Abdul Nasser Mohamed Yassin, 42, from Anin village after they ravaged his home and subjected the family to intensive questioning.
A military checkpoint was pitched by the IOF near the main entrance to Zabouba town.
The campaign culminated in the abduction of other Palestinians from Nablus, al-Khalil, and Bethlehem’s town of Beit Fajjar.
A controversial Israeli bill to silence the Muslim call to prayer is to go forward after it was amended so as not to affect the Jewish Shabbat siren, the speaker’s office said Wednesday.
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, had blocked the draft law in its original form for fear it would also force the toning down of the sirens that announce the start of the Jewish day of rest at sundown each Friday.
But he lifted his objections after it was amended to apply only between 11 pm and 7 am.
The bill will “probably” now be put to a preliminary vote in parliament “next week,” a spokesman for speaker Yuli Edelstein told AFP.
It will then require three further parliamentary votes before it becomes law but it has already sparked outrage around the Arab and wider Muslim world.
Even Israeli government watchdogs have slammed the proposed legislation, describing it as a threat to religious freedom and an unnecessary provocation.
Arab Israeli lawmaker Ahmed Tibi has vowed to appeal to the High Court of Justice if the Shabbat siren is excluded from the scope of the bill on the grounds that it discriminates between Jews and Muslims.
The law would apply to mosques in annexed Arab east al-Quds (Jerusalem) as well as the occupied territories. But supersensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound — Islam’s third holiest site — will be exempted.
“No changes will be made on” al-Aqsa Mosque an Israeli official told AFP.
Umm al-Kheir, Occupied South Hebron Hills – Almost nothing in Palestine is what you expect for the most part. And, this is so true of the negative things you see. No matter how bad you think things are or expect them to be, you are almost always guaranteed that they will be worse (usually much worse) when you actually see them. And if you tell people the truth you may be thought to be making things up. But, this is Palestine and things are this unbelievable and this bad. This was true today for me (to put it mildly). Part of our team was invited by an “inspector” from the United Nations office based here in Al Khalil to go to a Bedouin village in the South Hebron Hills where a demolition took place yesterday.
The two demolished structures – with the illegal settlement in the background
Throughout my multiple trips here I’ve been to numerous house demolitions and even sat with families throughout the night waiting for the Israeli Occupation Forces to arrive to demolish a home. I was not ready for what I saw today. On our way to the village our U.N. inspector told us a bit of the history/story of the village. But, when we arrived I just wanted to vomit and I still have a knot in my stomach as I write this. The village of Umm Al Khair was established in 1952 on land the villagers purchased. They have the deed to prove ownership. The village is currently made up of approximately 140 Bedouin (registered) refugees, (approximately 28 families) who are mostly goat herders and farmers. They came here to the West Bank from “the 48” (Israel proper) after their home village was destroyed along with over 500 other Palestinian villages by Israeli Zionists, during the Nakba which created over 700,000 Palestinian refugees.
In 1982 the illegal colonial Zionist settlement of Carmel was established right next to them (less than 50 yards away) on land they stole from the village. Even though we couldn’t see inside the illegal settlement we were informed by the individual from the U.N. that the homes in the settlement were spacious, modern, had green grass lawns and gardens and even a small goldfish pond or two and all of the modern luxuries. In contrast, the village is made up of makeshift tents, crude metal and wood structures with dirt floors. There is no running water, no electricity, and a few crude toilet facilities.
Given that the villagers own the land, according to Israeli law, they cannot be legally evicted. However, the Zionists can make life so miserable that the villagers will give up and leave. This (in all probability) will never happen. They are strong, hopeful, and determined to stay here. This is their home. They will not leave. Even the children who have grown up here and gone off and got university degrees return here to their homes.
Rubble from the most recent demolition
Israel uses the excuse that the villagers don’t have building permits. But Israel doesn’t grant but a few building permits per year (if any) to Palestinians.
Drones routinely fly over the village photographing, looking for any sign of new construction or rebuilding and the soldiers will return and demolish again and again. And if a demolition order is given for a particular home or building, it is permanent and nothing can be built on that spot again.
There have been 5 demolitions in the past year: October 27, 2015; 1 in April 2016; 2 this past August; and the most recent one yesterday where two structures were demolished. Their Community Center which housed the kindergarten, a computer center, an after school program to help kids with homework, and a library has been demolished several times. There are some international aid programs such as the International Red Cross, several U.N. programs, and from the European Union that have helped with building materials and /or small structures for living. None of these programs, however, can help with the Community Center because it does not provide shelter for people or animals. So it is the children who suffer the brunt of these losses.
Rubble from the demolition, with the luxurious houses in the illegal settlement in the background
While one of our team members was conducting a video interview I went outside and was swarmed by young children. All smiling, laughing and excited by my presence and attention to them. All eager to show me around the village, show me their goat herds, their small playground and have me push them on the swings, take their photographs with their goats. They all appeared to be happy and none the worse for wear. But what I am describing is and has been their life. They know nothing else. It doesn’t make how these villagers are treated any less excusable. And this is only one observation from one person visiting one of the scores of similar villages throughout the West Bank. An older woman whose home was demolished in August of this year stated before we left, “We just need the demolitions to stop. We are getting sick and tired of it.” Our U.N. person then said, everyone including most of the aid programs are feeling the same way as this woman and little by little pay a bit less attention as time goes on. Even the government, The Palestinian Authority was called this morning about yesterday’s demolition and they stated they couldn’t come to look they had other things to do today.
Residential dwelling of some of the families
I’ve always thought (and said) that somewhere inside the Israeli Zionist must still have some small bit of humanity left in them. After what I witnessed today I cannot believe that there is even a shred of humanity left in any of them. Today was by far the most overwhelming and depressing day I’ve had in all of my trips here to Palestine, and I’ve seen quite a few depressing and overwhelming things during these trips.
What can you do? Join the Boycott movement in your country. Write to your elected government officials to stop funding the various degrees of genocide that Israel is committing here in Palestine. Write letters to the editor of your newspapers. Talk to your families, friends, neighbors and let them know the truth. Speak up. As long as our country continues to support the behavior of Israel with our tax dollars we are all responsible!
Palestinian journalist Khaled Maali of Salfit was ordered released on Sunday, 13 November by the Israeli Salem military court – on the condition that he turn over his laptop to Israeli occupation forces and close his Facebook account, as well as paying a fine of 7,000 NIS ($1700 USD).
Maali, 48, was arrested from his home in Salfit last week in a military raid by occupation forces. He is one of hundreds of Palestinians targeted for arrest, interrogation and imprisonment on the basis of their social media posts in support of the Palestinian people’s struggle for liberation. The “evidence” introduced into military court in order to convict these Palestinians – convictions which occur in over 99% of cases before Israeli military courts – include the number of “likes” and “shares” a post receives. Other prominent cases of Palestinians targeted for social media postings include poet Dareen Tatour, astrophysics professor Imad Barghouthi, and fellow journalists Sami al-Saee and Samah Dweik. Maali earned his PhD from The Hague University after studying at An-Najah University.
Recently, Facebook executives met with Israeli officials, including Ayelet Shaked, announcing “cooperation” against so-called “incitement,” sparking widespread protests among Palestinian and solidarity activists. While pledging to crack down on “hate speech,” they made no mention of Shaked’s genocidal comments about Palestinians posted on Facebook that referred to Palestinian children as “little snakes” and urged the execution of their mothers. Instead, Facebook has granted 95 percent of Israel’s 158 requests to remove content in the last four months. Samidoun in New York City joined the global protest against Facebook with a protest at the social media giant’s NYC offices.
US President-elect Donald Trump does not think the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories should be condemned because they don’t pose “an obstacle to peace,” according to a top Trump adviser.
The comments were made on Thursday by Jason Greenblatt, the chief legal officer and executive vice president at the Trump Organization. He has been tapped by Trump as his top adviser on Israel.
Greenblatt’s comments would mark a stark departure from the long-time Washington stance that Israeli settlement construction in occupied Palestinian lands makes it more difficult to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
An Israeli minister called for renewed settlement expansions after Greenblatt’s comments. Israeli Science Minister Ofir Akunis said Tel Aviv thinks it’s time to move forward with more settlements now that Trump has won the US presidency.
The administration of US President Barack Obama has repeatedly criticized Israel over the settlement expansions, saying they make it difficult for Israel to reach peace with Palestinians.
The US and Israel are close allies but relations were often tense between Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the Israeli settlements and the nuclear agreement with Iran last year.
Analysts say a Trump presidency may be profoundly negative for Palestinian aspirations while buoying Israel’s confidence.
Under the Trump presidency, analysts expect there to be less pressure from Washington to halt illegal Israeli settlement building, meaning the settler population will grow unchecked.
“The Palestinian people hold no hope that the change of American president will mean a change in policy towards the Palestinian cause,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. “That policy is constant and biased in favor of Israel’s occupation.”
Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of US foreign assistance since World War II. America’s military assistance to Israel has amounted to $124.3 billion since it began in 1962, according to a recent congressional report.
JERUSALEM – Israeli authorities Tuesday morning demolished two residential buildings in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Wadi al-Jouz and al-Issawiya for building without Israeli-issued licenses.
Locals told Ma’an that Israeli forces escorted two excavators to the Wadi al-Jouz neighborhood at 4 am. Israeli soldiers were also deployed throughout the alleys of the neighborhood, before surrounding a three-story building as Israeli excavators tore it down.
According to locals, the building consisted of stores on the ground floor, apartments on the second, while the third floor was still under construction.
Local sources highlighted that the stores on the first floor contained food supplies belonging to Palestinian families, adding that Israeli forces demolished the stores without allowing families to remove their supplies.
The demolition occurred after the building was constructed without Israeli-issued building permits, locals said, much like most of East Jerusalem as the process to obtain the permits are often time-consuming and expensive.
After Israeli forces completed the demolition in Wadi al-Jouz, they headed to the neighborhood of al-Issawiya and demolished a residential building, claiming it was lacking Israeli-issued building permits, according to locals.
Member of a local committee in al-Isawiya, Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, told Ma’an that the building was a two-story building, still under construction.
According to Abu al-Hummus, the first floor consisted of commercial stores, while the second served as a residential floor.
A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality was not available for immediate comment.
Demolitions in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem have seen an unprecedented surge in recent months, with the number of structures demolished in the first half of 2016 already well exceeding the total number of demolitions carried out in all of 2015.
More than 1,383 Palestinians have been displaced since the beginning of 2016 as a result of demolitions in the occupied territory, compared to 688 Palestinians displaced over the entirety of 2015, according to UN documentation.
Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in ‘Area C’ of the West Bank — the area under full Israeli security and civilian control — and East Jerusalem, though the Israel’s Jerusalem municipality has claimed that compared to the Jewish population, they receive a “disproportionately low number of permit applications from Palestinian communities,” which they boasted “see high approval ratings.”
However, testimonies collected by the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ) in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan found that the procedures to apply for Israeli-issued building permits were lengthy, sometimes lasting for several years, while the application costs could reach up to 300,000 shekels ($79,180).
As four out of five of Palestinians in East Jerusalem live under the poverty line, applying for costly building permits is nearly impossible, and only seven percent of Jerusalem building permits go to Palestinian neighborhoods.
Israeli soldiers shot and seriously wounded a young Palestinian man, near Ein Yabroud town, east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah on Saturday at dawn after he reportedly attempted to “ram Israeli soldiers with his car, then tried to stab them.”
The Israeli army claims that the soldiers shot and injured the young man, identified as Ahmad Ayman Hamed, 21, after he “tried to run over them” near a military base, close to the illegal Ofra colony.
It added that the soldiers fired at the Ahmad’s vehicle, forcing him to stop, and that he allegedly stepped out of his car and “tried to stab a soldier, before he was shot and injured.”
An Israeli ambulance was called to the scene and moved Ahmad to a hospital for treatment.
Palestinian eyewitnesses said while the young man was driving his car, he was surprised to see a group of soldiers in his way on the main road, before the army opened fire and seriously wounded him.
They added that the wounded young man was shot with three live round in his abdomen, and was left bleeding, without any first aid, until the Israeli ambulance arrived and took him away.
Following the shooting, the soldiers invaded Ahmad’s home, and interrogated his family while searching their property.
Many Palestinians have been shot dead by the soldiers since last year under similar allegations of attempting to ram soldiers with their car.
In September, the soldiers shot and killed a young Palestinian man, identified as Mustafa Nimir, 25, after alleging he attempted to ram them with his car, but later admitted that the man was not even the driver of the vehicle, to blame his brother-in-law for “driving erratically”
Mustafa Nimir, 25, was returning home along with his brother-in-law Ali after the two had gone shopping and purchased clothes for Ali’s six-year-old daughter, and baked goods for the family.