Dear Syria: From One Refugee to Another – Ramzy Baroud repost from Dissident Voice

Ramzy Baroud often touches a nerve for me, his writing is thoughtful and always shows connectedness to his subject.

I have wanted to post on recent issues relating to the Australian Counter Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014 and its capacity for thoughtless personal impact through poor policy interpretation of an overly zealous law initiated under the cloud of ‘Terror Threats’ to Australia trumpeted by our government. The implementation of Policy in Australia means the fact that you are Palestinian, will never be forgotten (even if you become a citizen of this country and carry her passport) by security forces of Customs and Border etc and the various Police entities involved in working under this Act.

Double whammy if you are a Palestinian from Syria.

Triple whammy if your birthplace as a part of the diaspora post 1948 was Libya.

Quadruple whammy if you were once an asylum seeker to these shores.

Quintuple if you had to return to Syria for any valid reason over the past few years.

I am still debating whether it is timely to post my piece or if I should do further research and wait for the right moment to be more in tune with the universe and less fucking angry. (Takfiri outsiders in Al Yarmouk killed by multiple poorly aimed gunshots at least 3 men in recent street ‘court assassinations’ for swearing as I just did- Fuck them and their proxy war trainers, suppliers, financiers and supporters)

I want to THANK you Ramzy for this piece, for the 7 reminders and warnings and particularly for the reminder that some people really do understand why you think of your mother when you hear the word ‘refugee’ and why you say, “Dear Syria”……………….

Dear Syria: From One Refugee to Another

Whenever the word ‘refugee’ is uttered, I think of my mother. When Zionist militias began their systematic onslaught and ‘cleansing’ of the Palestinian Arab population of historic Palestine in 1948, she, along with her family, ran away from the once peaceful village of Beit Daras.

Back then, Zarefah was six. Her father died in a refugee camp in a tent provided by the Quakers soon after he had been separated from his land. She collected scrap metal to survive.

My grandmother Mariam, would venture out to the ‘death zone’ that bordered the separated and newly established state of Israel from Gaza’s refugee camps to collect figs and oranges. She faced death every day. Her children were all refugees, living in shatat – the Diaspora.

My mother lived to be 42. Her life was tremendously difficult. She married a refugee, my dad, and together they brought seven refugees into this world – my brothers, my sister and myself. One died as a toddler, for there was no medicine in the refugee camp’s clinic.

No matter where we are, in time and place, we carry our refugee ID cards, our undefinable nationalities, our precious status, our parents’ burden, our ancestors’ pain.

In fact, we have a name for it. It is called waja’ – ‘aching’ – a character that unifies millions of Palestinian refugees all across the globe. With our refugee population now dominated by second, third or even fourth generation refugees, it seems that our waja’ is what we hold in common most. Our geographies may differ, our languages, our political allegiances, our cultures, but ultimately, we meet around the painful experiences that we have internalized throughout generations.

My mother used to say – ihna yalfalastinieen damitna qaribeh – tears for us Palestinians are always close by. But our readiness to shed tears is not a sign of weakness, far from it. It is because throughout the years we managed to internalize our own exile, and its many ramifications, along with the exiles of everyone else’s. The emotional burden is just too great.

We mask the unbearable aching somehow, but it is always close to the surface. If we hear a single melody by Marcel Khalifeh or Sheikh Imam, or a few verses by Mahmoud Darwish, the wound is as fresh as ever.

Most of us no longer live in tents, but we are reminded of our refugee status every single day, by the Israeli occupation, by the Gaza siege and the internally-displaced Palestinians in Israel, by the Iraq war and the displacement of the already displaced Palestinians there, by the despicable living conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, and throughout the Middle East.

But for us, Syria has been our greatest waja’ in years. Aside from the fact that most of Syria’s half a million Palestinian refugees are on the run again, living the pain of displacement and loss for the second, third, or even fourth time. Nine million Syrian refugees are now duplicating the Palestinian tragedy, charting the early course of the Palestinian Nakba, the catastrophe of 1948.

Watching the destitution of the Syrian refugees is like rewinding the past, in all of its awful details. And watching Arab states clamor to aid the refugees with ample words and little action feels as if we are living Arab betrayal all over again.

I watched my grandparents die, followed by my parents and many of my peers. All of them died refugees, carrying the same status and the same lost hope of return. The most they ever received from the ‘international community’ was a few sacks of rice and cheap cooking oil. And, of course, numerous tents.

With time our refugee status morphed from being a ‘problem’ to an integral part of our identities. Being a ‘refugee’ at this stage means insisting on the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees as enshrined in international law. That status is no longer just a mere reference to physical displacement but also to a political, even a national identity.

Political division may, at times, dominate Palestinian society, but we will always be united by the fact that we are refugees with a common cause: going home. While for the Palestinians of Yarmouk near Damascus, being a refugee is a matter of life and death – often by starvation – for the larger Palestinian collective, the meaning of the word has become more involved: it has been etched onto our skin forever.

But what can one say by way of advice to the relatively new refugees of Syria, considering that we are yet to liberate ourselves from a status that we never sought?

There can be only reminders and a few warnings:

First, may your displacement end soon. May you never live the waja’ of displacement to the extent that you embrace it as a part of your identity, and pass it on from one generation to another. May it be a kind of fleeting pain or passing nightmare, but never a pervasive every day reality.

Second, you must be prepared for the worst. My grandparents left their new blankets in their village before they fled to the refugee camps because they feared they would have been ruined by the dust of the journey. Alas, the camps became home, and the blankets were confiscated as the rest of Palestine was. Please remain hopeful, but realistic.

Third, don’t believe the ‘international community’ when they make promises. They never deliver, and when they do, it is always for ulterior motives that might bring you more harm than good. In fact, the term itself is illusory, mostly used in reference to western countries which have wronged you as they have us.

Fourth, don’t trust Arab regimes. They lie. They feel not your pain. They hear not your pleas, nor do they care. They have invested so much in destroying your countries, and so little in redeeming their sins. They speak of aid that rarely arrives and political initiatives that constitute mostly press releases. But they will take every opportunity to remind you of their virtues. In fact, your victimhood becomes a platform for their greatness. They thrive at your expense, thus will invest to further your misery.

Fifth, preserve your dignity. I know, it is never easy to maintain your pride when you sleep in a barren street covered in cardboard boxes. A mother would do whatever she can to help her children pass into safety. No matter, you must never allow the wolves awaiting you at every border to exploit your desperation. You must never allow the Emir, or his children or some rich businessman or sympathetic celebrity to use you as a photo-op. Do not ever kneel. Don’t ever kiss a hand. Don’t give anyone the satisfaction to exploit your pain.

Sixth, remain united. There is strength in unity when one is a refugee. Don’t allow political squabbles to distract you from the greater battle at hand: surviving until the day you return home, and you will.

Seventh, love Syria. Yours is an unparalleled civilization. Your history is rife with triumphs that were ultimately of your own making. Even if you must leave to distant lands, keep Syria in your hearts. This too shall pass, and Syria shall redeem its glory, once the brutes vanquish. Only the spirit of the people shall survive. It is not wishful thinking. It is history.

Dear Syrian refugee, it has been 66 years and counting since my people’s dispossession began. We are yet to return, but that is a battle for my children, and their children to fight. I hope yours ends soon. Until then, please remember the tent is just a tent, and the gusts of cold wind are but of a passing storm.

And until you return home to Syria, don’t let the refugee become who you are, as you are so much more.

Ramzy Baroud is an author and a journalist. His latest volume is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London). He can be reached at ramzybaroud@hotmail.com. Read other articles by Ramzy.

Ukrainian criminals move to israel

Uprootedpalestinians's Blog

Ukrainian Oligarch Fugitives Wanted by Interpol, Pay Bribes for Israeli Citizenship

 

yuri borisov

Ukrainian oligarch, Yuri Borisov, suspected of looting $40-million in U.S. foreign aid meant for Ukraine

Galey Tzahal (Army Radio) reported today that Israel welcomed with open arms two Ukrainian oligarchs wanted by Interpol for serious crimes.  The suspects, Yuri Borisov and Eduard Stavitsky, are suspected of embezzlement and money-laundering in Ukraine.  They flew into Ben Gurion airport and received Israeli entry visas.  Borisov’s visa was approved for the purposes of medical treatment, though it’s not clear what, if anything ails him except him criminal predicament. Borisov fled Israel immediately after the arrest of Yisrael Beitenu MK Faina Kirschenbaum, but stayed long enough (about a month) to get citizenship and passports for him and his entire family.

They were granted citizenship despite the fact that one of them isn’t Jewish and both are wanted fugitives and suspected criminals.  These matters should make them automatically…

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To think some people claim Israel is a democracy

Uprootedpalestinians's Blog

Jewish Israeli students receive 10 times higher funding than Arab Israelis

File photo of Israeli and Arab Israeli students at a protestFile photo of Israeli and Arab Israeli students at a protest

Israeli authorities used details of students’ religious and ethnic backgrounds to decide how much funding each pupil would receive, a report by Child Safety Council has said.

14,500 shekels(£3,675) annual budget given to an Israeli student

1,500 shekels($380) annual budget given to an Arab student

The findings of the report were published by Arab48 yesterday. The report showed that the budget of a Jewish Israeli student reaches 14,500 shekels per year ($3,675), while the budget of an Arab Israeli student is only 1,500 shekels per year ($380).

In addition to official school classes, Israeli students have access to a number of extracurricular activities such as enrichment lessons, preparations for exams, etc. while Arab students are unable to access these.

According to the report, which was issued by…

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American soldiers off to support the fascists in Kiev

Thanks for this post, should I say this seemed inevitable given the MSM reports on events in Ukraine they built a support base at home and say this is all about Putin but its all about their hegemony and financial interests. Thanks again will repost.

Uprootedpalestinians's Blog

US Announces Support of Neo-Nazis

American soldiers going to Ukraine

Pentagon officials confirmed last week that US troops will deploy to Ukraine in the spring to help build the Ukrainian National Guard. In addition to sending US troops, Washington has already sent heavy military equipment and has earmarked $19 million for Ukrainian forces.

In its announcement, the Pentagon failed to mention that the Ukrainian National Guard includes the Azov Battalion, a pronounced neo-Nazi group that has reportedly been involved in the recent violence in Ukraine.

The History of Azov

The Azov Battalion was formed in May 2014 as an all-volunteer paramilitary unit in response to the government’s struggle against separatists in the country’s east.

Funding for Azov comes from Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi, a man who offered a bounty of $10,000 for each captured Russian “saboteur,” as reported by Newsweek.

According to the BBC, Azov’s aims are stated in…

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Israel’s youngest Palestinian female prisoner – this occupation regime calls itself civilised?

 

Yesterday, Al Manaar, a Lebanese online news agency reported on 14 year old Malak al-Khatab ‘detained’ on her way home from school in Occupied Ramallah by the IOF on December 31st 2014. See here.

The report is also on WAFA the Palestinian News Agency here

“A 14-year-old Palestinian girl has become the youngest prisoner in Israeli jails after an Israeli court sentenced her to two months in jail and a fine of 6,000 Israeli shekels (roughly $1,500), a Palestinian NGO said Sunday.”

The Ramallah-based Ahrar Centre for Prisoners’ Studies and Human Rights reportedly advised Al-Manar news that  Malak was “the youngest of around 280 Palestinian children in Israeli jails.” (Al-Manar)

Her crime?

On Wednesday 21st Jan she was convicted, her father Ali  said of “throwing stones at occupation forces, blocking a main road in the West Bank and possessing a knife.” He said Malak was “brought to the court with her hands and feet in handcuffs” and “when the judge read out the verdict, I looked at Malak and she was wiping off her tears as she shivered from cold,”.

Malak’s detention was extended several times and she spent around 23 days awaiting her ruling. At the time, the lawyer defending her was trying to reduce the fine, Malak’s father earlier told WAFA. …. She is now serving her sentence in Hasharon detention centre with another three female prisoners who are, according to her father, taking care of Malak and emotionally supporting her.

Her prison?  Hasharon……

A human rights organization warned of the “catastrophic and unbearable” situation of Palestinian female prisoners in the Israeli Hasharon detention center. The Prisoners’ Center for Studies said the Israeli prison administration has been abusing the Palestinian female captives held in Hasharon. (see here )

For a look at the prison and Press TV video (October 2014) on treatment of female prisoners see here.

The ‘Civilised’ Israeli Occupation, detention of children and International law

1. Detention a last resort for minors

Lawyer Ayed Abu Qutesh – even though the International law allows the detention of minors, it should be always the last decision that any court or state takes. All concerned parties should try to find other alternatives to the detention and actual imprisonment of children, such as fines and suspended imprisonment.

Lawyer Jawad Bolous  – “the Israeli occupation’s policy of arresting minors contradicts with all international laws regarding minors. It starts at the very moment of arrest where soldiers forget that they are arresting a minor, treating the children in a very barbaric way. The minors go through detention until the ruling, while Israel ignores the grave consequences of this detention on their lives.”

2. Family Visitation

Malak’s family wasn’t able to visit her at the detention center, and only saw her at the court on January 11 for the first time after her arrest (on the 31st Dec) . Her father said then that she looked distressed and scared. This lack of access in Israeli gaols is commonplace, many detainees are illegally shipped outside the Occupied areas to prisons to prevent this access.

3. Standards of due process

According to the Defence for Children International Palestine (DCI-Palestine), “Israel is the only state to automatically and systematically prosecute children in military courts that lack basic standards of due process.”

It said in a report on the arrest of minors by Israel that “Around 500 – 700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12, are arrested, detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military detention system each year. The majority of Palestinian child detainees are charged with throwing stones.’

While Palestinian children endure such conduct, no Israeli children come into contact with the military court system, proving the amount of discrimination in the Israeli system.

4. Institutionalised ill-treatment

WAFA quotes a UNICEF report that concludes- ill treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system appears ‘widespread, systematic and institutionalized’. “On average 700 Palestinian children a year, appear before Israel’s military court,” According to the report, children detainees are treated harshly in most cases. It mentions binding hands and eyes, signing documents in Hebrew, physical and verbal abuse, night arrests, threats, strip searches and solitary confinement to name a few.

5. Not harsh enough says Israeli cabinet

Israel’s cabinet’s recent decision to back a law change allowing harsher sentences of up to 20 years for stone throwers after the recent tensions in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Ahmed Melhelm wrote for Al Monitor last year (see here) on Israeli torture of child prisoners…. he raised the following;

  • The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah)- request to Israel’s Attorney General to halt the physical and psychological abuse practiced against Palestinian children during arrest and interrogation, documenting dozens of cases of torture inside prisons.
  • Defense for Children International (DCI)- “The occupation forces arrest and try about 700 children annually. The monthly average of Palestinian children held in Israeli military detention during 2013 was 199.”
  • Salah al-Hammouri, researcher with the Conscience Foundation for Human Rights in Jerusalem – “The psychological effects of the interrogation are clearly visible on the children that come out of prison, and this is reflected by the fact that they appear older than their true age. They react in unexpected ways — sometimes violently — and many of them refuse to go back to school.”
  • Khodr Rasras, clinical psychologist, Center for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture, “There are immediate effects that are apparent on a child who has been detained, such as a sense of loneliness and isolation from his peers. [The child] seems older than his true age, and has a personality resembling that of an adult, in addition to fear and sadness inside the prison, because he is far from his parents. This creates a psychological state of unease and distress that accompanies [the child] for some time.”…A very small group [of these prisoners] are afflicted with mental illnesses such as depression.” and  “Erasing the psychological and physical effects of torture that appear on children after their release requires effort and time for psychological rehabilitation.”

In December 2014 Al Akhbar reported

“According to a report by The Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights, dozens of video recorded testimonies of children arrested during the first months of 2014, pointing out that 75 percent of the detained children are subjected to physical torture and 25 percent faced military trials.

Israeli forces detained at least four Palestinian children, aged 13 to 16, last month for allegedly throwing stones at Israeli cars, and attempted to detain two Palestinian children, a two-year-old and a nine-year old, on suspicion of throwing stones.”

We know this is wrong, numerous reports and representations fall on deaf ears, Israel continues to put on the mask of the civilised. Guess what Israel and your bastions of caring sensitive hasbara supporters………………WE DON”T BELIEVE YOU! boycott

 

 

Jonathan Cook – Heads and tails you lose

Occupier’s justice: heads and tails you lose………

 

I have so much respect for this journalist, please check his work if you aren’t already aware of it. His bio lists….

Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist based in Nazareth, Israel, since 2001.He is the author of three books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish State (2006)Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (2008)Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (2008)He has also contributed chapters and essays to several edited volumes on Israel-Palestine. – See more at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/about/#sthash.1koELn5p.dpuf

Share from Jonathon Cook:    23 January 2015jonathan_250

Yesterday I had an idea for a short story to explain the unrelenting insanity of the occupation for ordinary Palestinians. Tell me what you think.

In my story, there is a Palestinian family, let’s call them the Jaabaris, and they live next to a Jewish settlement, let’s call it Kiryat Arba, close to Hebron deep in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

One day the settlers decide to build a synagogue on the family’s private land in an effort to force them off.

This family decide to stand their ground. Sadly, they have no way to stop the takeover of land that has been in their family for generations other than by appealing to the Israeli legal system. They petition the Israeli Supreme Court to order the synagogue demolished.

In the court room, the settlers argue that the land is not under Kiryat Arba’s control – it’s private Palestinian property – and therefore it is outside the court’s jurisdiction. The judges have no right to issue a ruling in this case, they claim.

The court disagrees and says the land is under Kiryat Arba’s control – ie the judges treat it as part of Israel – and therefore the court can issue a ruling. The judges’ verdict is a triumph for justice: the synagogue should be demolished.

However, now that the settlers have a piece of paper with the court’s decision stating that the land belongs to Kiryat Arba, they can bill the Palestinian family for years of arrears on property taxes amounting to $22,000 – more than the family earns in several years. If they don’t pay, the settlers will seize the land and sell it.

Heads the Jaabaris lose; tails they lose too. That’s Israeli occupiers’ justice.

What do you think? Have I gone a bit too far? Too crazy to be credible.

Or have I simply plagiarised this story from the Times of Israel, where exactly this just happened to the Jaabari family.

www.timesofisrael.com/settlers-build-synagogue-on-palestinian-land-bill-owner/

– See more at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2015-01-23/occupiers-justice-heads-and-tails-you-lose/#sthash.SkbuKF8c.dpuf

And a little extra from the Electronic Intifada last year…… Full article here

During a visit to Israeli settlers on 30 September in the occupied West Bank, Rabbi Dov Lior said that Israel “must strive to cleanse the entire country” of Palestinians, ostensibly referring to present-day Israel, the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip. Lior, who is the chief rabbi for Israeli settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron and in the Kiryat Arba settlement, was speaking at an event at Givat Oz Vgaon, an “outpost” colony recently established in the Etzion bloc of settlements in the central West Bank.

From the time it occupied the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) in 1967, Israel has recognized 125 Jewish-only settlements that today harbor a population of an estimated 550,000 Israeli Jews, according to the human rights group B’Tselem.”

 

The Tel Aviv stabbings: What the media left out

Repost from the site ‘If American’s Knew’

They introduce the post as a “response to the slanted media coverage on the recent Tel Aviv stabbings that contains statistics and facts that we think you may wish to share with others.” I heard an interview with a Palestinian busdriver who was talking about the brief strike they had after a colleague was stabbed to death by ‘settlers’, I prefer to call them ‘unsettlers’ (and that’s when I’m being generous). He spoke of having to work to feed his family and being spat on and abused daily by these doyens of diplomacy in Jerusalem.

I must be getting lazy again I was in the middle of posting and found this in my inbox so will work on something else, also just wondering why Americans are so America-centric, it’s certainly not just Americans who need to know this.

The Tel Aviv stabbings: What the media left out.

My next post is a repost of the recent Jonathon Cook article which addresses the complete madness confronted everyday by Palestinians under occupation…stay tuned.

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