Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas in Occupied Bethelehm: Resistance and Life in Occupied Palestine!

Dear friends, 
once again its Christmas.  As we celebrate with family and friends, we also remember that it is another year that the city of the Christ is under Israeli military occupation, along with the rest of Palestine.  Once more, Occupied Bethelehem and the rest of Occupied Palestine celebrate Christmas under a brutal military occupation.

But despite Israel's occupation and apartheid regime, the Palestinian people celebrate life. Not just every Christmas, but every day, every week, every month and every year.  They resist and demand dignity and celebrate joy and happiness with those they love, in spite of Israel's brutality and human rights abuses.

Each year, Palestinian activists seek to highlight both the oppression that the Palestinian people face, while also celebrating their humanity.  They display yet again their resistance and sumoud (steadfastness) against Israel's ongoing atrocities, war crimes and apartheid regime.  This year, in the days before Christmas, Palestinians raised an Tree of Resistance in Occupied Bethlehem, representing oppression, life and resistance in Palestine.

The tree was raised outside of the Church of the Nativity in Occupied Bethlehem, where Jesus was supposedly born more than two millenium ago.   The tree, an 2000 year old olive tree, had been recently uprooted by Israeli Occupatioin forces from the village of Bir Ouna near Occupied Bethelehem.  The tree was uprooted in order for Israel to build the apartheid wall, to further segregate Palestinians in the Bethlehem area. 

The 2000 year old tree now in Manager Square was decorated with symbols of Israel's occupation, as well as symbols of resistance.   Decorated with tear gas canisters, as well as photos of Palestinians killed or detained by Israel's occupation forces.  Amongst the decorations are also Palestinian national symbols of resistance, such as keffiyah and sling shots. 

Mayor of Bethlehem, Vera Baboun explained: "The tree is our message .. we plant our roots and we are rooted to this land. Oliver trees are the trees of life. We see our people's eyes and hopes of our women and the dreams oif men reflected off this tree".

Mayor Baboun noted how all Bethlehem’s population, regardless of religion, live under occupation: “We are talking about settlements, we are talking about land confiscation, we are talking about the wall. Can you imagine, on 82 percent of the land we can do nothing without an Israeli permit?  Baboun went on to note that Israel has recently decided to confiscate 25 acres of land from the northern border of the Bethlehem area, saying “this is the suffocation of Bethlehem”.

Mazen Al-Izza from the Popular Struggle Coordiantion Committee, who organised the raising of the tree said: “Today we place the tree of life here, in the Nativity Church courtyard, as a form of resistance, decorated with the remnants of the occupation’s weapons used to oppress the Palestinian resistance in order for the world to see.”  He went on to say: “This tree was planted in Palestine during the time of Christ and it is proof of the sanctity of Palestine. The occupation uprooted the tree of peace from the land of peace".

“This tree will remain in the Nativity Church courtyard until the end of the Christmas celebrations ... we are here to highlight the violations and injustice the Palestinians are subject to.”

Earlier in the week, many Palestinian municipalities toned down their public Christmas celebration as a result of the increased violence by Israel and in memory of the more than 124 Palestinian killed by the Israeli state since October. 

While the Christmas festivities have been limited, they have not been cancelled. According to Reverend Ashraf Tannous, Lutheran Pastor of Beit Sahour (next to Bethelehem): “Not only is it [Christmas] a Christian celebration, it is a national celebration. This celebration is celebrated by everyone regardless of religion. We are all celebrating this season.”  He went on to say: “The agenda of the occupation is to stop us celebrating, to stop us lighting the tree, or singing carols...but in-spite of the desperate situation in the Holy Land we still celebrate.”

Father Jamal Khader,  Rector of the Latin Patriarchate Seminary explained that the toning down of the Christmas celebrations (rather than cancelling them)  is to send a message: “It’s a message to show there is something wrong and we cannot tolerate this injustice. This is a message for ourselves and for the world - we are still suffering.” 

On 18 December, Palestinains also staged a Christmas demonstration, dressed as Santa Claus's.  The protesters marched on Israel's apartheid wall in Occupied Bethlehem, shouting slogans against Israel's occupation. The protesters also carried posters which read: “Palestinian Christians and Muslims pray for this Christmas to be the last under occupation”.  Israeli occupation forces opened fire on the unarmed Santa Claus clad protesters, firing tear gas, rubber coated steel bullets and live ammunition. At least three Palestinian protesters were injured by the live ammunition fired by the Israeli military.

I have included below photos of resistance from Occupied Bethelehem and Palestine - including photos of the resistance tree and protests earlier this week against Israel's occupation. 

I have also written in previous years about the impact of Israel's occupation on Bethelehem, as well as posted up images of resistance. You can read my earlier posts by clicking here:



At Christmas time, occupied Bethelehem becomes the symbol for the entirity of Occupied Palestine. The struggle against Israel's occupation and apartheid regime for dignity and freedom is the struggle of all Palestinians living under occupation, as well as those living in exile and inside Palestine 48 (Israel). 

As 2015 draws to a close, Palestinians have spent yet another year under Israel's brutal occupation. They have remained sumoud and have continued to resist their oppressors and the oppression they face each day, week, month and year. 

Once again as the year draws to a conclusion, it is time for us to once more recommit to the struggle for a free Palestine. To stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and demand they have self-determination, human rights, justice, freedom and dignity.  

For A Free Palestine in 2016!! 

in solidarity, Kim




Monday, December 7, 2015

HAARETZ: U.S. donors gave settlements more than $220 million in tax-exempt funds over five years

 Illustration credit: Netalie Ron-Raz

Registered non-profit groups are lavishly funding with tax-deductible U.S. dollars the same West Bank settlements the Obama administration considers obstacles to peace.

Uri Blau
| 07 December, 2015 | Haaretz

Private U.S. donors are massively funding Israeli settlements by using a network of tax-exempt nonprofits, which funnelled more than $220 million (about 850 million shekels) to Jewish communities in the West Bank in 2009-2013 alone, a Haaretz investigation has found.

The funding is being used for anything from buying air conditioners to supporting the families of convicted Jewish terrorists, and comes from tax-deductible donations made to around 50 U.S.-based groups.

Thanks to their status as nonprofits, these organizations are not taxed on their income and donations made to them are tax deductible – meaning the U.S. government is incentivizing and indirectly supporting the Israeli settlement movement, even though it has been consistently opposed by every U.S. administration for the past 48 years.

The findings also show that while Israel’s political right often criticizes left-wing organizations for receiving foreign donations – and has made several attempts to curtail such funding – groups that support the settlements also receive extensive funding from abroad, albeit from different sources.


While left-wing NGOs and human rights groups receive large donations from foreign governments and institutions, Israeli settlement groups are mostly supported by private individuals who donate through nonprofit organizations.

Low transparency requirements in both the United States and Israel make it difficult to gather comprehensive information on all of the donors, but some of the benefactors are known and include major donors to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Some also donate to the U.S. Republican Party.

These and other issues will be detailed as part of Haaretz’s in-depth coverage of U.S. funding of settlements, which will be published over the next few weeks.

Legal aid for Jewish terrorists

Conducted over the last year, the Haaretz investigation exhaustively analyzed thousands of documents from the tax filings and official papers of dozens of American and Israeli nonprofit organizations.

The probe found that at least 50 organizations from across the United States are involved in raising funds for settlements and settlement activities in the occupied territories.

Their revenues between 2009 and 2013 – the last year for which there is extensive data – amounted to over $281 million. Most of these funds came from donations, while some came from returns on capital investments.

Nearly 80 percent of this income (about $224 million) was transferred to the occupied territories as grants, mostly through Israeli nonprofits.

In 2013 alone, these organizations raised $73 million and allotted $54 million in grants.

Initial data for 2014 suggests that figures for last year could be even higher.

Haaretz’s investigation shows some of the funding has gone toward providing legal aid to Jews accused or convicted of terrorism, and supporting their families, through an Israeli nonprofit called Honenu. Annual reports filed by the group with Israeli authorities show that Honenu received nearly 600,000 shekels ($155,000) – 20 percent of its income – from U.S. sources last year.

Among those who benefited from the group’s support in 2013 were the family of Ami Popper, who murdered seven Palestinian laborers in 1990, and members of the Bat Ayin Underground, which attempted to detonate a bomb at a girls’ school in East Jerusalem in 2002.

In the past, Honenu has also raised money for Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, who is serving a life sentence for his crime.

“Honenu, a legal aid organization, has always operated within the law and only in accordance with its goals,” the group said in a statement to Haaretz. It added that, due to confidentiality rules, it could not discuss specific cases, but said it has provided aid to thousands of suspects, including Israeli police officers, soldiers and civilians.

From yeshivas to buying buildings

One of the largest U.S. organizations involved in funding Jewish communities in the West Bank is the Brooklyn-based Hebron Fund. It transferred $5.7 million to the Jewish settlement in Hebron from 2009-2014. Much of the funding has been invested in parks, playgrounds and libraries, in line with the fund’s stated goal of “the improvement of the daily life for the [Jewish] residents of Hebron.”

However, it has also paid the monthly salary (cumulatively amounting to hundreds of thousands of shekels) of Menachem Livni, who headed the nonprofit Renewal of the Jewish Community in Hebron between 2010 and 2012, which in turn was funded by the U.S. organization.

Menachem Livni in 2009. Photo credit - Alex Levac
A convicted murderer, Livni was one of the leaders of the Jewish Underground, which operated in the territories in the 1980s, killing three Palestinian students and severely injuring two Palestinian mayors and a Border Police sapper. Livni was sentenced to life imprisonment, but was released after six years.

Dan Rosenstein, executive director of the Hebron Fund, declined to answer questions about the fund’s activities or discuss its donors and beneficiaries.

Another leading source of donations is the Central Fund of Israel, which operates out of the offices of a textile company, owned by the Marcus brothers, in the Manhattan garment district. The fund’s revenues exceeded $19 million in 2013 – a $3 million increase over the preceding year. While many of the groups cited in this investigation have yet to file reports for 2014, the CFI has done so: last year it showed a sharp increase in its revenues, which jumped to $25 million – with almost $23 million forwarded to Israel.

Among the institutions supported by the Central Fund is the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva, in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar. The heads of the yeshiva, Rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur, are the authors of “The King’s Torah” (“Torat Hamelech”), a book that outlines the circumstances under which it is permissible to kill non-Jews. The two rabbis were questioned by the police, but not prosecuted, on suspicion of inciting racism. Last year, following violent attacks against the Israeli army, Border Police took control of the yeshiva for several months.

In a meeting with a Haaretz reporter, CFI director Jay Marcus said the organization makes donations to a number of Israeli nonprofits operating on both sides of the Green Line (i.e., in Israel proper and the occupied territories). He declined to disclose the percentage of donations going to the settlements, saying it was not an issue and insisted that the money did not serve political purposes.

Despite this massive influx of U.S. dollars, Israel and its taxpayers are the settlement’s main bankrollers. Security, infrastructure construction and educational, religious and cultural activities are all financed by the citizens of Israel, either directly or through municipalities, regional councils and other channels.Money arriving from the United States is considered more an added luxury for the settlements, contributing to religious education (such as the financing of the Neveh Shmuel yeshiva in Efrat); improving living conditions (air-conditioning units for the dining room in the Ohr Menachem school in Kiryat Arba); leisure activities (the construction of a promenade between settlements in the Etzion Bloc); but also the purchasing of buildings in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (including a house next to Rachel’s Tomb, near Bethlehem).

The Neve Shmuel Yeshiva in the settlement of Efrat. Photo credit - Uri Blau

The White House responds

Asked whether the granting of tax-exempt status to these organizations did not contradict the U.S. position on settlements, a senior White House official told Haaretz that “the policy of every administration since 1967, Democrat and Republican alike, has been to object to Israeli settlement beyond the 1967 borders.

“The present administration is no different,” the official continued. “Concordant with permanent U.S. policies, this administration never defended or supported any activity associated with the settlements. It doesn’t support or advance any activity that will legitimize them.”

There are many groups in the United States that support all manner of causes and are registered with authorities as 501c3 charities – the designation that grants them tax-exempt status and makes donations to them tax deductible. The running of these charities and the regulations governing them have stirred controversy before: from questions raised earlier this year over donations received by the Clinton Foundation to a recent campaign by John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” show to curb the tax privileges granted to televangelists.

The Haaretz investigation adds to this debate, as it shows that the United States is tacitly supporting, through tax-exempt contributions, the growth of the settlements – a process that its government strongly condemns.

Reporting for this story was supported by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The 18 Cows Scaring Israel's Culture Minister Miri Regev

Dear friends,
It seems once more 18 cows are proving to be a security threat to the state of Israel, along with the very existence of Palestinian film and Palestinian narrative. Israeli Cultural Minister, Miri Regev - who is also a former spokesperson for the Israeli Occupation Forces - is attempting to ban (yet again) the 48mm Film Festival using Israel's draconian "Nakba Law".

In particular, Regev is upset about the film "The Wanted 18", a film about Palestinian non-violent civil disobedience during the First Intifada.  During the First Intifada, the village of Beit Sahour, near Bethelehem, lead the Palestinian non-violent resistance, not only refusing to pay taxes to the Israeli state but also boycotting Israeli products and goods. As part of their campaign to boycott Israeli products, they brought 18 cows to produce milk for the village. As the film notes, the cows were deemed a security threat to the state of Israel by the local Israeli military governor, who attempted to confiscate the cows - thus beginning an elaborate attempt by the village to hide the cows in defiance of the Israeli military.

The story of Beit Sahour's cows was one of the first stories of resistance I ever heard my first time in Palestine in 2004.  The story was inspiring, as well as very funny in its ridiculousness - with my favourite part being how the Israeli military took photos of the cows and then proceeded to search for them, showing the photos of the cows and demanding to know where they were.  So I was extremely excited when I heard a few years ago that a film was being made about Beit Sahour's cows. 

I finally got to see the film when it was screened here in Australia as part of the Palestinian Film Festival last month.  The film was excellent - not only was it very funny, it was very moving and inspiring. It contained some wonderful archival footage from the First Intifada and it is a wonderful film documenting Palestinian resistance and sumoud. It is no surprise that 18 cows and a film documenting Palestinian resistance and sumoud are considered a security threat to the state of Israel.

I have included below two articles on Regev's attempt to ban the festival.  The second on in particular discusses The Wanted 18.  I have also included a short and longer version of the trailer for the documentary, which is nominated for the upcoming Academy Awards.  You can also check out the film's website, by clicking here

In solidarity, Kim

Short trailer - 2min

Long trailer - 8.30 mins

Israeli Culture Minister Seeks to Defund Cinema Institution Over Nakba Film Festival

Tel Aviv Cinematheque screening film festival about 1948 war next week, which Miri Regev believes violates 'Nakba Law.'
Nirit Anderman Dec 01, 2015: Haaretz

Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev has ordered an investigative committee to be established to examine allegations that a film festival at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque violates the Nakba Law, which allows the government to defund organizations presenting Israel's establishment as a catastrophe, in line with the Palestinian narrative.

The 48mm Festival, founded by anti-occupation NGO Zochrot and scheduled for December 4-6 at the cinematheque, is also known as The Third International Film Festival on Nakba and Return. A 2011 amendment to the state budget law authorizes the finance minister to defund any institution that encourages incitement, racism or armed struggle against Israel, or presents Independence Day or the establishment of Israel as a day of mourning. The High Court rejected a petition to repeal the amendment, known as the Nakba Law, in 2012.



Regev stated in an official announcement on Sunday evening that the committee would be comprised of members of the Censorship Board of Israel, which will be requested to view the festival films and write reports relative to the Nakba Law for further discussion and legal consultation within the ministry.

"The minister will decide based on these opinions whether to ask the Finance Ministry to invoke the law," the ministry announced.

Regev's predecessor, Limor Livnat, tried to take action against last year's festival. She asserted the cinematheque was violating the law in hosting the festival. However, the cinemathque retained its funding despite undergoing a similar investigative process.

However, Culture Ministry officials noted that last year Livnat's request was made without first obtaining professional opinions, examining in depth the films in question or presenting findings. "Being responsible for public coffers, we must not shut our eyes when there is fear that the law is being broken," said Regev. "We must examine the matter on a professional level.

Liat Rosenberg, Zochrot's CEO, commented: "It seems to me like one of many attempts, which will happen in the next festival as well, to exclude the topic of the Nakba and the right of return from the public agenda. If it were not such a painful and difficult subject, I gather the minister's attempts would look ridiculous to me. But I believe the public will vote with its feet, and instead of silencing these attempts, I honestly invite Minister Regev and others to come watch the film and try to listen in depth to the voices arising from within them."


The 18 Cows Scaring Israel's Culture Minister Miri Regev

'48 mm: The International Festival on Nakba and Return' challenges the culture minister’s opinion about what can and cannot be screened.
Nirit Anderman Dec 01, 2015: Haaretz

One of the outstanding films to be screened this year at “48 mm: The International Festival on Nakba and Return” will require the special task force recently established by Culture Minister Miri Regev to decide whether the story of 18 cows – yes, cows – violates Israeli law and can justify cutting the budget of the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, where the festival is taking place.

“The Wanted 18,” the Palestinian candidate for the Oscar in the category of Best Foreign Film, is an animated documentary that tells a true story. It’s hard to decide whether the most suitable description is funny, sad or absurd. The film breathes life into a story from the days of the first intifada, and leaves Palestinian civilians and Israeli soldiers in supporting roles in order to clear the stage for a group of cows that steal the show: They talk, they’re funny, they deal with a long series of dramatic turning points and manage to do all that in a captivating and heartwarming manner by means of charming puppet animation.

The culture minister announced on Sunday that the task force will be asked to examine the films to be shown at the festival, which is sponsored by Zochrot, an organization that works to raise awareness of the Nakba and promote the right of return, and is celebrating its third year at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. The task force will have to decide based on the Budget Foundations Law, which allows the finance minister to fine an institution that receives money from the government if it has funded a work that encourages incitement, racism or support of an armed struggle against the State of Israel, or presents Independence Day or the day of the state’s establishment as a day of mourning.

The case of “The Wanted 18” will be very interesting, because the filmmakers have refused until now to show it in Israel, the director refuses to be interviewed by Israeli journalists, and recently he also publicly attacked Israel for preventing him from participating in the film’s American debut.

The film, which will be screened in Jaffa on Sunday, combines amusing stop-motion animation, illustrations, filmed interviews and archival material to tell an interesting and not very well known story that took place in the town of Beit Sahour in 1987. A group of intellectuals and professionals (teachers, an academic, a pharmacist, a butcher, et al) from the city near Bethlehem decided at the time to stage a nonviolent revolt, by boycotting Israeli products.

They realized that such a step would require them to produce the products that they would stop purchasing from Israel on their own. After deciding to boycott Israel’s largest dairy producer Tnuva, they decided to buy cows from which they could produce milk for their own use.

For that purpose a Palestinian teacher from Beit Sahour was sent to buy cows from a kibbutz. The cows were housed in an improvised cowshed in Beit Sahour. They sent a representative to the United States to learn everything necessary about raising and milking cows, and enthusiastically devoted themselves to the new and totally unfamiliar agricultural pursuit.

Unheroic pursuit

But the Israeli army was far less enthusiastic. The person responsible for the region on behalf of the Israel Defense Forces decided that the initiative was dangerous, ordered the Palestinian owners of the cows to get rid of them quickly, and when he discovered that the cows had been transferred to a hiding place, the strongest army in the Middle East embarked on a determined if unheroic pursuit of the 18 missing animals.

In order to tell the story the film’s two directors, Palestinian Amer Shomali and Canadian Paul Cowan, found the protagonists on both sides and conducted a series of interviews with them.

Jalal Oumsieh, the high school teacher who bought the cows, says, “The moment I saw the cows I felt that we were beginning to understand our dream of freedom and independence, the moment the cows entered the truck on the kibbutz and we started driving back to Beit Sahour, we were happy, but also scared.”

He recounted that the military governor came to the farm one day with some soldiers. “The first thing they did was photograph every one of the cows in order to record the numbers branded on them. He told us we had to get rid of the cows. When I asked why, he replied – and I quote: ‘These cows are a danger to the security of the State of Israel.’ I told him I didn’t understand why, but he said, ‘You have no right to speak or to cast doubt. It’s a military order and you are obligated to obey.’”

Israeli interviewees don’t deny the claims. “We had clear orders to handle the people who established the popular committees [the Palestinian committees that decided to boycott Israeli produce and to produce independently] with all our might and all the legal means at our disposal, in order to prevent a mechanism that would replace the Civil Administration,” says Shaltiel Lavi, former commander of the Bethlehem District.

Ehud Zrahiya, who was presented in the film as the military governor’s adviser on Arab affairs, says “It was clear that from 17 cows you don’t build a dairy economy that can provide the needs of an entire population,” and that the entire issue was only a curiosity. But it developed into a nonviolent rebellion that caused most of the city’s residents to stop paying taxes and bills to Israel, causing quite a headache for the army.

As to the cows, after they were hidden somewhere else in Beit Sahour, the IDF began a search for them, with hundreds of soldiers and even two helicopters. “It became a joke to see the Israeli army searching for the cows of the intifada,” says Oumsieh’s wife, a geology professor. Oumsieh adds with a smile, “They had pictures of the cows, and they asked people whether they had seen them.”

Cow’s-eye view

The interviewees tell the story from their point of view, the animation adds a comic element when it often shows events through the eyes of the talking cows, and the choice of this technique proves itself when it succeeds in emphasizing the absurd aspect of the story. In an interview with the British weekly The Observer, when asked about his decision to make a funny movie, Shomali said: “It was quite frightening, but I’m a cartoonist and humor is part of the way in which I see things. I believe that a nation that is incapable of looking at its wounds with humor will never be able to heal them. First be aware of your shitty situation and then laugh at yourselves.”

Shomali said that one of the challenges was the lack of suitable archival material. “Almost all the material we found focused on the violent aspect of the intifada: Israeli soldiers breaking bones, killing Palestinians and burning their homes; mothers crying; Palestinians throwing incendiary devices or breaking windows in an Israeli bus. There were no materials of a Palestinian milking a cow or planting in his backyard in order to grow his own food, as part of the boycott of Israeli products. No such Palestinian images were filmed, so we created an alternative archive and used animation to create it.”

Shomali, who lives in Ramallah, refused an interview with Haaretz and the filmmakers refused to send Haaretz a copy of the film to watch in advance, as is usual for festival films – the producers also refused to show their film at the International Film Festival in Jerusalem or in the DocAviv Festival in Tel Aviv. “Palestinian artists are afraid that screening their film here will look like a type of support for Israel or a type of normalization,” says Jerusalem Cinematheque program director Elad Samorzik.

The filmmakers accepted the invitation to show their film at the “48 mm” festival, but on condition that it be screened in Jaffa rather than at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. The executive director of Zochrot, which is producing the festival, explains: “The Tel Aviv Cinematheque is an institution funded by the government, and we are increasingly seeing a trend that Palestinian artists refuse to have their films screened in such institutions.” 

  Palestinian co-director Amer Shomali.

In June the film was shown in the U.S. at the Human Rights Watch Festival in New York. Shomali was supposed to talk to the audience afterwards, but was unable to attend. He claimed that Israel had prevented him from going from Ramallah to Jerusalem in order to obtain a visa for the U.S. “Official Israeli organizations told me that my request was denied for security reasons. And I’m not alone. The same is true of tens of thousands of other Palestinians living under Israeli rule in the occupied territories.

“My co-director Paul Cowan and I wanted ‘The Wanted 18’ to be a festival of freedom and creativity. We wanted to illustrate the power of civil disobedience – then and today – in the face of military occupation and oppression. I believe we succeeded. And now Israel is making it clear that everything is in effect under its control, but it’s not really. We Palestinians repeatedly find ways to cross, to bypass and to extricate ourselves from the barriers to equal rights and freedom put in place by Israel.”

Is peace possible?

So what films will the members of the Film Review Council who will compose the task force established by Regev to watch the films of the “48 mm” festival actually see? The festival includes four short films by local artists that were produced especially for the festival: The animated film “Man with Two Beards” directed by Amir Yatziv, based on a collection of illustrations from Israeli and Palestinian history textbooks; the documentary “Anava Interchange,” about two Israeli directors who, 30 years apart, documented the same Palestinian refugee returning to visit his village; “Guava,” an experimental film by Thalia Hoffman about human situations on refugee routes in the Middle East; and “Lighthouse,” about a 71-year-old Palestinian who wakes up in his new home in Lod.

“Roshmia” is a documentary about an elderly Palestinian couple living in Roshmia, the last natural wadi in Haifa, who are forced to leave their home and see that as another expulsion. “On the Bride’s Side” is an Italian documentary in which a Palestinian poet and an Italian journalist meet five Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Milan, who have fled from the war in Syria to Europe, and offer to help them get to Sweden disguised as a wedding party; and “Sar’a,” a documentary directed by Michael Kaminer, who was born on Kibbutz Tzora and using archival materials and conversations with the kibbutz founders and refugees from the neighboring village of Sar’a reveals the story of the expelled residents of the Palestinian village.

Finally, Eyal Sivan in his film “Aqabat Jaber” returns to the refugee camp where he shot a film in 1987 and asks whether peace between Israel and Palestine is possible with the return of the refugees to their homeland. After the Israeli army left the area, the refugee camp is under Palestinian control and its residents are still unable to return to the villages from which they were expelled in 1948.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Palestinian Health Ministry: 89 Palestinians killed, 10,000 Injured by Israel since October 1

November 17, 2015 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News
On Tuesday, the Palestinian Health Ministry has reported that, following the death of a Mohammad Monir Hasan Saleh, 24, 24, from Ramallah, the number of Palestinians, killed by Israeli fire since October 1st, has arrived to 89, including 18 children and four women, and that 10.000 Palestinians have been injured.

Mohammad Monir Hasan Saleh
Mohammad Monir Hasan Saleh 

In a press release, the Health Ministry stated that the soldiers shot and killed, on Tuesday, Mohammad Monir Hasan Saleh, 24 years of age, from 'Aroura village, northwest of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and injured at least two others.

It said that the number of Palestinians, killed by Israeli fire since October 1, has arrived to 89, including 18 in the Gaza Strip and one in the Negev, and that among the slain Palestinians are eighteen women and four children (including a mother and her baby in Gaza.)

The Ministry stated that more 10.000 Palestinians have been injured in the same period in different parts of occupied Palestine.

“On average, the army kills two Palestinians and injures around 217 every day,” it said.

In its report, the Ministry said that at least 1450 Palestinians have been shot with live Israeli army fire, in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, since October 1.

1065 were shot with rubber-coated metal bullets, and have all been hospitalized, while more than 1100 Palestinians, who were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets, received treatment by medics without the need for hospitalization.

6500 Palestinians suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, 255 suffered fractures and bruises after being assaulted by Israeli soldiers and paramilitary settlers, and more than 25 suffered burns due to Israeli gas bombs and concussion grenades.

The number of Palestinians shot with live Israeli army fire in the West Bank is at least 1010, in addition to 950 who were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets. In Gaza, 440 were shot with live rounds and 115 with rubber-coated steel bullets.

Names Of The 89 Palestinians Killed By Israeli Fire Since October 1st

The Following is a list of names of all Palestinians shot and killed by Israeli fire in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, and one in the Negev, in the period between Thursday October 1st and the end of Tuesday November 17th, 2015, as confirmed by the Palestinian Health Ministry.

1. Mohannad Halabi, 19, al-Biereh – Ramallah. Shot after allegedly grabbing gun and killing two Israelis. 10/3
2. Fadi Alloun, 19, Jerusalem. Israeli claim of 'attack' contradicted by eyewitnesses and video. 10/4
3. Amjad Hatem al-Jundi, 17, Hebron.
4. Thaer Abu Ghazala, 19, Jerusalem.
5. Abdul-Rahma Obeidallah, 11, Bethlehem.
6. Hotheifa Suleiman, 18, Tulkarem.
7. Wisam Jamal Faraj, 20, Jerusalem. Shot by an exploding bullet during protest. 10/8
8. Mohammad al-Ja’bari, 19, Hebron.
9. Ahmad Jamal Salah, 20, Jerusalem.
10. Ishaq Badran, 19, Jerusalem. Israeli claim of 'attack' contradicted by eyewitnesses. 10/10
11. Mohammad Said Ali, 19, Jerusalem.
12. Ibrahim Ahmad Mustafa Awad, 28, Hebron. Shot at protest by rubber-coated steel bullet in his forehead. 10/11
13. Ahmad Abdullah Sharaka, 13, Al Jalazoun Refugee camp-Ramallah.
14. Mostafa Al Khateeb, 18, Sur-Baher – Jerusalem.
15. Hassan Khalid Manassra, 15, Jerusalem.
16. Mohammad Nathmie Shamasna, 22, Qotna - Jerusalem. Allegedly grabbed gun of Israeli soldier on bus and killed two. 10/13
17. Baha’ Elian, 22, Jabal Al Mokaber-Jerusalem.
18. Mutaz Ibrahim Zawahra, 27, Bethlehem. Hit with a live bullet in the chest during a demonstration.
19. Ala’ Abu Jammal, 33, Jerusalem.
20. Bassem Bassam Sidr, 17, Hebron. Killed in Jerusalem after Israeli shoted that he 'had a knife' - but no knife was present.
21. Ahmad Abu Sh’aban, 23, Jerusalem.
22. Riyadh Ibraheem Dar-Yousif, 46, Al Janyia village Ramallah( Killed while harvesting olives)
23. Fadi Al-Darbi , 30, Jenin – died in Israeli detention camp.
24. Eyad Khalil Al Awawdah, Hebron.
25. Ihab Hannani, 19, Nablus.
26. Fadel al-Qawasmi, 18, Hebron. Shot by paramilitary settler, Israeli soldier caught on film planting knife near his body.
27. Mo'taz Ahmad 'Oweisat, 16, Jerusalem. Military claimed he 'had a knife'. 10/17
28. Bayan Abdul-Wahab al-'Oseyli, 16, Hebron. Military claimed she 'had a knife', but video evidence contradicts that claim. 10/17
29. Tariq Ziad an-Natsha, 22, Hebron. 10/17
30. Omar Mohammad al-Faqeeh, 22, Qalandia. Military claimed he 'had a knife'. 10/17
31. Mohannad al-‘Oqabi, 21, Negev. Allegedly killed soldier in bus station in Beer Sheba.
32. Hoda Mohammad Darweesh, 65, Jerusalem.
33. Hamza Mousa Al Amllah, 25, from Hebron, killed near Gush Etzion settlement.
34. Odai Hashem al-Masalma, 24, Beit 'Awwa town near Hebron.
35. Hussam Isma’el Al Ja’bari, 18, Hebron.
36. Bashaar Nidal Al Ja’bari, 15, Hebron.
37. Hashem al-'Azza, 54, Hebron.
38. Moa’taz Attalah Qassem, 22, Eezariyya town near Jerusalem. 10/21
39. Mahmoud Khalid Eghneimat, 20, Hebron.
40. Ahmad Mohammad Said Kamil, Jenin.
41. Dania Jihad Irshied, 17, Hebron.
42. Sa’id Mohamed Yousif Al-Atrash, 20, Hebron.
43. Raed Sakit Abed Al Raheem Thalji Jaradat, 22, Sa’ir – Hebron.
44. Eyad Rouhi Ihjazi Jaradat, 19, Sa’er – Hebron.
45. Ezzeddin Nadi Sha'ban Abu Shakhdam, 17, Hebron. Shot by Israeli military after allegedly wounding soldier, then left to bleed to death.
46. Shadi Nabil Dweik, 22, Hebron. Shot by Israeli military after allegedly wounding the same soldier, then left to bleed to death.
47. Homam Adnan Sa’id, 23, Tal Romeida, Hebron. Shot by Israeli soldiers claiming 'he had a knife', but eyewitnesses report seeing soldiers throwing a knife next to his dead body. 10/27
48. Islam Rafiq Obeid, 23, Tal Romeida, Hebron. 10/28
49. Nadim Eshqeirat, 52, Jerusalem. 10/29 - Died when Israeli soldiers delayed his ambulance.
50. Mahdi Mohammad Ramadan al-Mohtasib, 23, Hebron. 10/29
51. Farouq Abdul-Qader Seder, 19, Hebron. 10/29
52. Qassem Saba’na, 20, shot on motorcycle near Zaatara checkpoint. 10/30
53. Ahmad Hamada Qneibi, 23, Jerusalem. Soldiers claimed 'he had a knife'.
54. Ramadan Mohammad Faisal Thawabta, 8 month old baby, Bethlehem. Died of tear gas inhalation.
55. Mahmoud Talal Abdul-Karim Nazzal, 18, al-Jalama checkpoint near Jenin. Israeli troops claim 'he had a knife', but eyewitnesses contradict that claim. 10/31
56. Fadi Hassan al-Froukh, 27. Beit Einoun, east of Hebron. 11/1.
57. Ahmad Awad Abu ar-Rob, 16, Jenin.
58. Samir Ibrahim Skafi, 23, Hebron. Shot by Israeli soldiers after his car hit a soldier who was on the street - it is unknown if he hit the soldier intentionally or accidentally. 11/4
59. Malek Talal Sharif, 25, Hebron, shot dead after the army claimed he attempted to stab a settler. 11/5
60. Tharwat Ibrahim Salman Sha’rawi, 73, shot dead by the army in Hebron.
61. Salman Aqel Mohammad Shahin, 22, Nablus.
62. Rasha Ahmad Hamed 'Oweissi, 24. Qalqilia. Carried suicide note and knife, but did not attempt to attack anyone.
63. Mohammad Abed Nimir, 37, Jerusalem.
64. Sadeq Ziyad Gharbiyya, 16, Jenin.
65. Abdullah Azzam Shalalda, 26, Hebron.
Mahmoud Mohammad Issa Shalalda, 22, Sa’ir, Hebron.
67. Hasan Jihad al-Baw, 22, Halhoul, Hebron.
68. Lafi Yousef Awad, 22, Budrus, Ramallah.
69. Laith Ashraf Manasra, 25, Qalandia
70. Ahmad Sobhi Abu al-‘Aish, 30, Qalandia.
71. Mohammad Monir Hasan Saleh, 24, Aroura – Ramallah.

Gaza Strip:

72. Shadi Hussam Doula, 20.
73. Ahmad Abdul-Rahman al-Harbawi, 20.
74. Abed al-Wahidi, 20.
75. Mohammad Hisham al-Roqab, 15.
76. Adnan Mousa Abu ‘Oleyyan, 22.
77. Ziad Nabil Sharaf, 20.
78. Jihad al-‘Obeid, 22.
79. Marwan Hisham Barbakh, 13.
80. Khalil Omar Othman, 15.
81. Nour Rasmie Hassan, 30. Killed along with her child in an Israeli airstrike. 10/11
82. Rahaf Yahya Hassan, two years old. Killed along with her mother in an Israeli airstrike. 10/11
83. Yahya Abdel-Qader Farahat, 23.
84. Shawqie Jamal Jaber Obeid, 37.
85. Mahmoud Hatem Hameeda, 22. Northern Gaza.
86. Ahmad al-Sarhi, 27, al-Boreij.
87. Yihya Hashem Kreira.
88. Khalil Hassan Abu Obeid, 25. Khan Younis. Died from wounds sustained in protest earlier in the week.
89. Salama Mousa Abu Jame’, 23, Khan Younis.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

REDFLAG: Palestine's history of resistance

Dear friends,
please find below my latest article published by Redflag on the history of Palestinian resistance.  This article is currently only available in the hard copy of Red Flag (however, an earlier, much shorter version called "Why we support the Palestinian rebellion" is available online, click here ).

You can check out Redflag for my other online articles on Palestine, Aboriginal Rights and South Korea (and the occasional other subject/issue) by clicking here

RedFlag is a strong supporter of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian struggle for justice and self-determination, as well as other struggles for justice in Australia and around the world. 

Redflag is available by digital subscription if you would like to support the independent press and get news and analysis that you would not read in the mainstream commercial press.

in solidarity, Kim

Palestine’s history of resistance

Kim Bullimore, 27 October 2015 / RedFlag

Fifty-three Palestinians are now dead, including 11 children, as young Palestinians across the Occupied Territories have risen up against Israeli occupation, apartheid and colonialism.

Thirty-eight have been killed in Occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank and 14 in Gaza. More than two-thirds of the dead have been younger than 20 years old. At least 1,900 have been injured by Israeli gunfire and thousands others have suffered from the effects of teargas, while nearly 900 have been detained by the Israeli state in mass arrests.

A history of resistance
According to Palestinian historian Mazin Qumsiyeh, this is not the third intifada; it is the fourteenth. The young Palestinians, both male and female, currently on the streets resisting Israel’s occupation and apartheid regime are marching in the footsteps of previous generations who struggled against not only the Israeli state but also British imperialism and Zionist settler-colonialism during the British occupation of Palestine (1917-1948).

Palestinian opposition to Zionist settler-colonialism resulted in bloody riots in 1920, 1921 and 1929, leaving hundreds of Palestinians and Zionists dead. In 1936, one of the longest strikes in modern history was launched as part of a three year anti-colonial uprising. The 1936-1939 revolt involved the entire population, with popular committees set up in every city and village.

As repression of the non-violent struggle escalated, thousands of young Palestinian men and women took up arms against the British military and police. In the end it took more than 35,000 British and Zionist troops to put down the revolt, at the cost of approximately 5,000 Palestinian lives.

Almost a decade later, more than 1 million Palestinians were forced to flee their homes during the 1948 Nakba (“catastrophe”), ethnically cleansed from their homeland by Zionist militias. More than 750,000 fled to neighbouring Arab states and 100-150,000 became internally displaced refugees in the newly formed Israeli state.

Between 1949 and 1966, Palestinians inside the Zionist state were placed under martial law. Despite being subject to regular curfew and restrictions being placed on their education, employment and political activity, Palestinians continued to resist, organising political parties and protests despite threats and intimidation.

Palestinian refugees in exile also resisted Israel’s ethnic cleansing by organising rallies and protests demanding the right of return to their homes. In 1957, exiled Palestinian students formed Fatah, which eight years later launched an armed struggle to try and win back their homeland.

In the wake of Israel’s seizure and occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights in June 1967, Palestinians once again suffered ethnic cleansing and dispossession. Yet they kept resisting despite violent Israeli military repression.

On 8 December 1987, an Israeli truck ploughed into a car killing four Palestinians in Gaza. Angry demonstrations erupted, marking the beginning of what popularly became known as the First Intifada. A grassroots mass uprising, similar in many ways to the 1936 strike and revolt, the Intifada represented a “shaking off” of Israel’s occupation and involved the vast majority of Palestinians. The uprising was led politically by the Unified Leadership of the Uprising (UNLU), which comprised all the major Palestinian factions.

The UNLU called for the formation of popular committees in each village and town to oppose Israel’s occupation through a coordinated boycott of Israeli goods, a refusal to pay Israeli taxes, a boycott of working in Zionist settlements and a general strike and closure of all businesses for designated periods both in the Occupied Territories and inside Israel.
In response to the uprising, Israel placed the Occupied Territories under curfew and instituted a policy of mass arrests, accompanied by the beating and shooting of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators and mass exile of Palestinians. Unable to stop the Intifada by force, the Israeli ruling class reluctantly entered into “peace negotiations” with the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

In late 1993, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli prime minister Yitzak Rabin sign the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, also known as the Oslo Accords, which formally brought the intifada to an end. While the Accords were heralded as laying a foundation for interim self-rule in the Occupied Territories, which would eventually lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state, they only led to a deepening of Israel’s occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people.

The Second Intifada erupted on 29 September 2000 in response to Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon’s provocative visit to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. By the end of the first day, seven Palestinians were dead and 300 wounded. In response, demonstrations spread like wildfire across the Occupied Territories and within Israel.

Israel’s repression of the protests was brutal. More than 1.3 million live rounds of ammunition were fired in just a few days. In the first five days Israeli occupation forces killed 47 Palestinians, including several Palestinian citizens of Israel, and injured almost 2,000. By the end of four weeks, 141 Palestinians were dead and nearly 6,000 injured.

While the Second Intifada had begun, like previous uprisings, as a grassroots rebellion, it became increasingly militarised as a result of Israel’s brutal repression, which made popular protest almost impossible. The asymmetrical conflict led to the use of suicide bombings, resulting in the deaths of approximately 500 Israelis.

Israel’s campaign to repress the militarised intifada resulted in 2,859 Palestinians killed and tens of thousands injured over four years. Israel also demolished more than 3,700 Palestinian homes and jailed more than 7,000 Palestinians.

A new uprising
The decades of ethnic cleansing, the growth of illegal colonies, the lawlessness of the illegal settlers, the theft of land, the suffocation of commercial life, and the collaboration of the Palestinian leadership mean that the character of this latest round of resistance is significantly different to those of the past.

As Omar Barghouti, writing at US news site, explained:

This phase of popular Palestinian resistance has broken out spontaneously, in reaction to exceptionally repressive policies of the most racist, settler-dominated and far-right government in Israel’s history.

Since Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to power in 2009, Israel’s descent into unmasked, right wing extremism has accelerated alarmingly … [A] steady stream of discriminatory, anti-democratic laws targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel, and to a lesser extent Jewish-Israeli critics of Israel’s apartheid regime, have been passed by the Israeli parliament …Following a recent visit to occupied Palestine, South African Parliamentary Speaker Baleka Mbete wrote, ‘Apartheid in South Africa was a picnic compared to what we have seen in the occupied territories’.”

Israel’s occupation is marked by both its extensive military control of Palestinian territory but also its settlement expansion. According to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, by 2010, Israeli settlers and their organisations were in control of 42 percent of the West Bank. In the 20 years since the Oslo Accords, the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has increased from 260,000 to 650,000.

The lawlessness of these illegal colonists has been a major factor in sparking the current rebellion.

Since Israel’s evacuation of settlers from Gaza in 2005, Zionist settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have carried out a campaign of violent “price tag” (revenge) attacks against Palestinians. As Isabel Kershner noted on 3 October in the New York Times, these attacks are designed to “exact a price from local Palestinians or from the Israeli security forces for any action taken against their settlement enterprise”.

On 31 July, colonists fire bombed the home of a Palestinian family in the village of Duma. The attack resulted in an 18-month-old baby, Ali Dawabsheh, being burnt to death. The rest of his family sustained horrific burns. Ali’s parents, Saad and Reham, died a week later as a result of their injuries. On 10 September, Israel’s defence minister Moshe Ya’alon told the Israeli media: “We know who is responsible, but we will not expose those findings in order to protect our intelligence sources”.

While the previous intifadas were dominated by the Palestinian factions, Palestinian youth today are organising through their own networks, largely via social media, to coordinate their rebellion. As one Palestinian youth told the Middle East Eye on 12 October: 

Almost everyone is part of a party, or at least they support a party in Palestine, but that is something separate from what’s happening right now … Right now we are going to the streets against the Israeli occupation in demand of our rights, we don’t need our parties for that, no one is talking about parties, this is an intifada from the people alone”.

Why we support the Palestinians
The Palestinian youth, who are on the front lines throwing stones, are there because they have never known one single day when they could move freely.

They have never known one single day of being able to attend school without fear that the Israeli military might fire tear-gas into their classrooms or invade their school yard.
They have never known one single day when they did not experience the terror of night raids or the Israeli military invading their villages and their homes or the homes of their family, friends and loved ones.

The young men and women on the front lines have witnessed three major attacks on Gaza in six years. They watched as more than 4,100 of their people were massacred in these attacks, trapped in the largest open-air prison in the world.

As veteran Israeli journalist Amira Hass so eloquently wrote in a 7 October article for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz:

The Palestinians are fighting for their life, in the full sense of the word. We Israeli Jews are fighting for our privilege as a nation of masters, in the full ugliness of the term.

That we notice there’s a war on only when Jews are murdered does not cancel out the fact that Palestinians are being killed all the time, and that all the time we are doing everything in our power to make their lives unbearable. Most of the time it is a unilateral war, waged by us, to get them to say ‘yes’ to the master, thank you very much for keeping us alive in our reservations. When something in the war’s one-sidedness is disturbed, and Jews are murdered, then we pay attention.

Young Palestinians do not go out to murder Jews because they are Jews, but because we are their occupiers, their torturers, their jailers, the thieves of their land and water, their exilers, the demolishers of their homes, the blockers of their horizon.”

As Hass notes, the goal of Israel’s unilateral war is to force Palestinians to give up all of their national demands.

But for more than 100 years, Palestinians have remained sumoud (steadfast); they have never given up their dream of independence, nor have they given up on their homeland. They have shown time and time again that they will not buckle, no matter how strong their occupier or how weak their own leadership. They will always find the strength to resist.
It is our job to stand in solidarity with them.

[Kim Bullimore co-organised the first Australian national Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Conference in support of Palestine in 2010 and is the author of ”BDS and the struggle for a free Palestine”, which appears in the book, Left turn: political essays for the new left. Kim blogs at Live from occupied Palestine.]