These opening paragraphs from the Dissident Voice post above show how close we sit in Oz to the Canadian govt’s obsequious relationship with the zionist lobby and Israel.
The BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) Movement is a legitimate peaceful struggle against Israeli apartheid in an illegal occupation. But as we have known forever, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist…. Oh Canada…zero tolerance against rhetoric? Spare me….
“In what appears to be another attempt to suppress criticism of Israel, the Canadian government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Israel which makes the claim that “the selective targeting of Israel is the new face of anti-Semitism” and declares that Canada will oppose those who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Shortly after the MOU was signed, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney announced to the UN General Assembly that the Canadian government would exercise “zero tolerance” toward “all forms of discrimination including rhetoric towards Israel, and attempts to delegitimise Israel such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.”1
As you may know, I am a huge fan of Jonathon Cook. A tireless sound journalist who lives in Nazareth. His insights and investigations are always read-worthy. His latest blog includes video’s of IOF home invasions that show the complete disregard for human rights towards the Palestinian families whose homes are entered and whose children are traumatised.
The senior IOF officer continues to alert his young soldiers to the need to have both hands on their weapons at all times and the disregard and abuse shown toward the Palestinian families is an offence to humanity.
Watch how young Israeli Dual Nationals are trained and what they are expected to do when they go with our governments blessing to do ‘a tour of IOF duty’.
Wonder how their experiences in maintaining an illegal occupation will radicalise and transform them.
Consider how their apartheid occupation ‘duties’ will effect them and their relationships with others in our community when they return to Australia when violations of the human rights of Palestinians is ‘just another day’s work’ for them.
As Jonathon says “what normal human instincts of compassion have to be battered into submission, what ugly instincts of tribal superiority have to be cultivated?”
Videos of Israeli raids on sleeping children
I suspect the word “occupation” – even the more precise “belligerent occupation” – fails to convey to most people the reality of daily horrors inflicted on the Palestinians. Of course, we know that occupations in general are bad and that it would be better if this particular one ended. But what does an occupation feel like if you’re a child, if you’re four or eight years old?
Here are two videos, released by B’Tselem, to remind us of what an occupation is like as lived experience rather than as an abstract concept. They document masked, armed soldiers breaking into the homes of Palestinians in Hebron in the middle of the night to force children awake, and then photograph and interrogate them. The soldiers go door to door, from one apartment to the the next, as casually as if they were coming to read the electricity meter. For the soldiers, this is just one of dozens of “jobs” they have that night terrifying families.
Behind the immediate terror of being confronted by these faceless soldiers, the children know from friends or family that there is a real danger they will be seized – maybe tonight or another night – if the military decide they are wanted. They will be taken from their parents without warning to a military prison, where they may be held for months and their family will probably be unable to visit them.
What damage does this do to the children – and what dread do the parents have to live with?
Give a thought too, even if a very secondary one, to these soldiers. What normal human instincts of compassion have to be battered into submission, what ugly instincts of tribal superiority have to be cultivated, for someone to behave the ways these soldiers – and many thousands more like them – do?
I have not been astounded by the comments in MSM about a ‘rise in anti-semitism’ following recent events of ‘attack’ on Jewish businesses and individuals in France and Denmark. There was a Radio National program this week where concerns of just this sort were raised. I have watched the BBC program ‘Question Time’ of 5th Feb where George Galloway was accused by Jonathan Freedland editor in chief of the British Guardian newspaper . (The episode begins at 39.15 mins in the video below)
Freedland himself has questions to answer regarding pro-Zionism in his running of the newspaper raised by the respected X Guardian journalist, Jonathon Cook, Jonathan Cook wrote about this in a recent blog,
All of the panellists, including Galloway, went to great lengths to express concern about attacks on Jews. However, it was entirely predictable that none of them except Galloway noted that Muslims were in fact the group most in danger of hate speech and physical attacks in the UK.
When Galloway did so, the other panellists accused him of engaging in an “arms race”, adding that there was nothing to be gained from trying to show who was harmed more by racism. This was also a point Freedland made while ‘defending himself’ against Galloway’s post-show complaint.
Such a response is disingenuous in the extreme. Freedland and the other panellists were the ones who tried to turn this issue into an “arms race” by prioritising one group’s suffering over another’s. If they were genuinely concerned about the safety of minorities in Britain and preventing the rise of a new wave of European fascism, they would be highlighting the rise of anti-Muslim feeling at least as much as they do anti-Jewish feeling.
But in truth they do the exact opposite. The “arms race” comment was meant to shut down any debate about race-hatred towards Muslims. In fact, it is very much part of that hate speech, making the expression of concern about the safety of Muslims seem marginal or like special pleading.
– See Cook’s full post in new tab here
George Galloway wrote post his BBC experience….
…a statement of mine attacking antisemitism and the Holocaust was transformed by Freedland into a charge on my indictment for anti-Semitism……….he continues….There is and always has been anti-semitism in Britain as there has always been racism of other kinds. I am its implacable enemy and have been all my life…., But if there are, as Freedland said,around 300,000 Jews in Britain then statistically speaking the number of attacks upon Jews even if we include attacks on their properties bears no comparison to the numbers of hate attacks upon other minorities including homosexuals, black people, Asians, not to mention Muslims who have suffered many times over more such attacks than have British Jews, the main difference being there are not many police officers standing guard outside mosques. Recorded anti-semitic hate crimes constitute 0.5% of all recorded hate crimes in Britain almost the same proportion as Jews to the population as a whole. All attacks on any minorities or their property should surely be condemned equally.” (my emphasis)
The point made by Cook about the panellists accusation that George Galloway was turning this into an “arms race” is where I want to pick up. Slogans are becoming the norm, they are cheap and fuel rather than stem the problem of racial violence.
- There should be genuine concern for anyone innocently caught up in broad sweep racial and religious hatred and violence.
- There should be genuine concern and capacity for recourse when there is clearly fear mongering or MSM racial and religious bias in reporting ‘news’.
There are some interesting insights in Avnery’s post. Read Ury Avnery’s Bio here http://www.avnery-news.co.il/english/index.html
|21/02/15 (see original post http://www.avnery-news.co.il/english/index.html )|
ANTI-SEMITISM is on the rise. All over Europe it is raising its ugly head. Jews are in danger everywhere. They must make haste and come home to Israel before it is too late.
PRACTICALLY ALL the alarming incidents which have taken place in Europe recently – especially in Paris and Copenhagen – in which Jews were killed or attacked – had nothing to do with anti-Semitism.
All these outrages were conducted by young Muslims, mostly of Arab descent. They were part of the ongoing war between Israelis and Arabs that has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. They are not descended from the pogrom in Kishinev and not related to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
In theory, Arab anti-Semitism is an oxymoron, since Arabs are Semites. Indeed, Arabs may be more Semitic then Jews, because Jews have mingled for many centuries with Gentiles.
But, of course, the German publicist Wilhelm Marr, who probably invented the term Antisemitismus in 1880 (after inventing the term Semitismus seven years earlier) never met an Arab in his life. For him the only Semites were Jews, and his crusade was solely against them.
(Adolf Hitler, who took his racism seriously, applied it to all Semites. He could not stand Arabs either. Contrary to legend, he disliked the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who had fled to Germany. After meeting him once for a photo-opportunity arranged by the Nazi propaganda machine, he never agreed to meet him again.)
SO WHY do young Muslims in Europe shoot Jews, after killing cartoonists who have insulted The Prophet?
Experts say that the basic reason is their profound hatred for their host countries, in which they feel (quite rightly) that they are despised, humiliated and discriminated against. In countries like France, Belgium, Denmark and many others, their violent rage needs an outlet.
But why the Jews?
There are at least two main reasons:
The first is local. French Muslims are mostly immigrants from North Africa. During the desperate struggle for Algerian independence, almost all the Algerian Jews sided with the colonialist regime against the local freedom fighters. When all Jews and many Arabs emigrated from Algeria to France, they brought their fight with them. Since they now live side by side in the crowded ghettos around Paris and elsewhere, their mutual hatred lives on and often leads to violence.
The second reason is the ongoing Arab-Zionist conflict, which started with the mass immigration of Jews to Arab Palestine, continued with the long list of wars and is now in full bloom. Practically every Arab in the world, and most Muslims are emotionally involved in the conflict.
But what have French Jews to do with that far-away conflict? Everything.
When Binyamin Netanyahu does not miss an opportunity to declare that he represents all the Jews in the world, he makes all the world’s Jews responsible for Israeli policies and actions.
When Jewish institutions in France, the US and everywhere totally and uncritically identify with the policies and operations of Israel, such as the recent Gaza war, they turn themselves voluntarily into potential victims of revenge actions. The French Jewish leadership, CRIF, did so just now.
Neither of these reasons has anything to do with anti-Semitism.
ANTI-SEMITISM is an integral part of European culture.
Many theories have been put forward to explain this totally illogical phenomenon, which borders on a collective mental disease.
My own preferred theory is religious. All over Europe, and now also in the Americas, Christian children in their formative years hear the stories of the New Testament. They learn that a Jewish mob was shouting for the blood of Jesus, the gentle and mild preacher, while the Roman prefect, Pontius Pilatus, was desperately trying to save his life. The Roman is depicted as a humane, likeable person, while the Jews are seen as a vile, despicable mob.
This story cannot be true. Roman rulers all over the Empire used to crucify potential troublemakers. The behavior of the Jewish authorities in the story does not conform to Jewish law. But the New Testament story, written long after the death of Jesus (whose real Hebrew name was Jeshua), was aimed at the Roman audience the Christians were trying to convert, in hot competition with the Jewish missionaries.
Also, the early Christians were a small, persecuted sect in Jewish Jerusalem, and their grudge lives on to this very day.
The picture of the evil Jews crying out for the death of Jesus is unconsciously imprinted in the minds of the Christian multitudes and has inspired Jew-hatred in every new generation. The results were slaughter, mass-expulsions, inquisition, persecution in every form, pogroms, and finally the Holocaust.
THERE has never been anything like this in Muslim history.
The Prophet had some small wars with neighboring Jewish tribes, but the Koran contains strict instructions on how to deal with Jews and Christians, the People of the Book. They had to be treated fairly and were exempted from military duty in return for a poll tax. Throughout the ages there were some rare anti-Jewish (and anti-Christian) outbreaks here and there, but Jews in Muslim lands fared incomparably better than in Christian ones.
If this had not been so, there would have been no “Golden Age” of Muslim-Jewish cultural symbiosis in medieval Spain. It would have been impossible for the Muslim Ottoman empire to accept and absorb almost all the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from medieval Spain, driven out by their Catholic Majesties, Ferdinand and Isabella. The outstanding Jewish religious thinker, Moses Maimonides (the “Rambam”) could not have become the personal physician and adviser of the outstanding Muslim sultan, Salah-al-Din al-Ayubi (Saladin).
The present conflict started as a clash between two national movements, Jewish Zionism and secular Arab nationalism, and had only slight religious overtones. As my friends and I have warned many times, it is now turning into a religious conflict – a calamity with potentially grievous consequences.
Nothing to do with anti-Semitism.
SO WHY does the entire Israeli propaganda machine, including all Israeli media, insist that Europe is experiencing a catastrophic rise of anti-Semitism? In order to call upon European Jews to come to Israel (in Zionist terminology: “make Aliya”).
For a Zionist true believer, every Jew’s arrival in Israel is an ideological victory. Never mind that once in Israel, new immigrants – especially from countries like Ethiopia and Ukraine – are neglected. As I have frequently quoted: “Israelis like immigration but don’t like immigrants”.
In the wake of the recent events in Paris and Copenhagen, Binyamin Netanyahu has publicly called upon French and Danish Jews to pack up and come at once to Israel for their own safety. The prime ministers of both countries have furiously protested against these calls, which insinuate that they are unable or unwilling to protect their own citizens. I suppose that no leader likes a foreign politician to call upon his citizens to leave.
There is something grotesque in this call: as the late Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz remarked, Israel is the only place in the world where Jewish lives are in constant danger. With a war every few years and violent incidents almost every day, he had a point.
But in the wake of the dramatic events, many “French” Jews – originally from North Africa – may be induced to leave France. They may not all come to Israel. The US, French Canada and Australia offer tempting alternatives.
There are many good reasons for a Jew to come to Israel: a mild climate, the Hebrew language, living among fellow Jews, and what not. But running away from anti-Semites is not one of them.
IS THERE real anti-Semitism in Europe? I assume that there is.
In many European countries there are old and new super-nationalist groups, who try to attract the masses by hatred of the Other. Jews are the Others par excellence (along with Gypsies/Roma). An ethno-religious group dispersed in many countries, belonging and not belonging to their host countries, with foreign – and therefore sinister – beliefs and rituals. All the European nationalist movements which sprang up in the 19th and 20th centuries were more or less anti-Semitic.
Jews have always been, and still are, the ideal scapegoat for the European poor. It was the German (non-Jewish) socialist August Bebel who said that “anti-Semitism is the socialism of the stupid guys”.
With frequent economic slumps and a widening gap between the local poor and the multinational super-rich, the need for scapegoats is rising. But I do not believe that these marginal groups, even if some of them are not so marginal anymore, constitute a real anti-Semitic surge.
Be that as it may, the outrages in Paris and Copenhagen have nothing to do with anti-Semitism.
I just watched SBS ‘The FEED’ brief report on the outrage of Amman based Palestinian Hip Hop band, TORBYEH at the unauthorised theft of their music in a vile Likud advert for the upcoming elections in Israel.
Likud has hijacked on of the band’s tracks for a deplorable ad that relates voting ‘left’ in the upcoming Israeli election with a vote for terrorism and connects the band’s song ‘Ghorbah’ (meaning ‘exile’ in Arabic) with IS.
Torabyeh’s track, ‘Ghorbah’ from 3 years ago, for your edification below
Yahoo News who I never like to quote, (but was lost for other reports) states; (full report here)
Torabyeh denounced the unauthorised artistic collaboration with the Israeli party’s “electoral propaganda attacking the so-called Zionist ‘left-wing’.”
“We strongly condemn and reject this ruthless infringement of intellectual property rights and the distortion of the reputation of Torabyeh,” the group said on their Facebook page.
They said use of their song in this context “implicates the Torabyeh group by containing serious accusations of terrorism and association with IS which is consequently putting the group’s members lives at risk”.
Torabyeh stressed it rejected “all forms of cooperation with the Zionist enemy”, and pledged to “take all necessary legal action against those responsible”.
The Likud advert shows the fear mongering behaviour of Netanyahu and his Likud goons. Sorry I can’t translate Hebrew (but not sorry really). But here’s the drum from liveleak…..
The video shows actors playing Islamic State terrorists driving in a white pickup truck with Islamic State flags waving from its windows on a desert road, as Arabic rap music plays in the background.They pull up next to another car and ask the (Israeli) driver how to get to Jerusalem and get the response, “turn left.”As the terrorists drive away, the “Anyone but Bibi” slogan can be seen on the truck’s bumper with the words, “the Left will surrender to terrorism,” and bullet holes appear on the screen. In the end of the clip the title shows “It is us or them. Only The Likud. Only Netanyau” The video is called: It’s us or them – Daesh version.
(The) Left part(y) (sic) Meretz already demanded to probe the Likud for incitment in this political campaign ad”. See article here
The Likud Advert…..
Repost from Medhajnews.com Indian news site on the announcement of Nikolai Mladenov as UN envoy to the ‘Middle East peace process’.
The article in full below.
“Set-Up! New UN Peace Envoy Mladenov To Palestine Is A Known Zionist!”
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) warned of the appointment of Nikolay Mladenov as United Nations envoy, replacing Robert Serry, to the Middle East peace process for being known for his support of Israel.
Kayed al-Ghoul, member of the PFLP Political Bureau, said of the appointment “It is contradictory to any effort leading to real peace with justice in the region; rather Mladenov will offer a real cover for the crimes of the Israeli occupation against the Palestinian people”.
Ghoul said, in a statement that the appointment of Mladenov in this position is a further attempt by powerful parties in the international organization, particularly the United States, to strengthen the position of the occupation state in international institutions concerned with the Palestinian cause and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
In the same context, Ghoul denounced the attacks and pressures to which William Schabas, chair of the International Commission of Inquiry investigating the Israeli attack on Gaza and its war crimes against the Palestinian people, was subjected to by Israel and its allies, forcing his resignation and leading to his replacement by a US judge on the panel.
“This was clearly an attempt by the Netanyahu government to cut the road in front of the findings of Schabas on the crimes of the occupation in its war on Gaza”, said Ghoul.
Ghoul called on PA President Abu Mazen to take action urgently to stop the appointment of Mladenov because of his clear history of bias in favour of the Israeli occupation.
“It is definitely in contradiction with the rights of the Palestinian people and incompatible with the growing international public demand to hold the Israeli state accountable for its crimes and siege, and to support the rights of the Palestinian people and their struggle for freedom and justice”, he said.
Serry, whose name has been linked to Gaza reconstruction, is to end his work as UN envoy for Middle East peace process in March. He has been serving the position since 2007.
The legal period of the UN envoy for this assignment is five years. However, the UN Secretary General has the power to extend the term as happened with Serry who served the position for eight successive years.
Mladenov is known for his statements in support of Israel and justification of its crimes against the Palestinian people since he was foreign minister of Bulgaria.
Mr. Mladenov earned a Master of Arts in War Studies at the King’s College of London, and a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in international relations at the University of National and World Economy of Sofia, in Bulgaria. Has held several positions in the inter-governmental and non-governmental sectors, including at the World Bank, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republic Institute.
2010-13 As Bulgarian Foreign Minister he is quoted as saying…
- Turkey reacted “a little bit too strongly” to the Gaza flotilla ‘episode’
- In 2010 in a meeting with President Shimon Peres, he said, “We are lucky that the majority of Bulgarian Jews were saved [during the Holocaust] and were able to go on to build Israel. This [history] creates a strong, emotional connection and responsibility on our part to ensure Israel’s safety and its future.” Asked why he made these comments at a time when Israel was facing increasing international isolation, Mladenov said, “Because I think that is what friends are for, to be with our friends when they are in trouble.”
- Israel, needed to “work better” on explaining its position in Europe
- tiptoed around the question of whether he felt Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza was legitimate, saying this was a decision Israel had to make based on its own security. He did say, however, that it was important to allow the access of goods in and out of Gaza to develop the economy there, which in turn would create “a bigger constituency in support of peace, because people will see the benefits of that peace emerging.” See 2010 Jerusalem Post Article here
And video of him speaking on Anti-Semitism here
The PFLP response to this UN appointment is clear…
Al-Ghoul said that the appointment of Mladenov in this position is a further attempt by powerful parties in the international organization, particularly the United States, to strengthen the position of the occupation state in international institutions addressing the Palestinian cause and the “Arab-Israeli conflict.”
In this context, he denounced the attacks and pressures to which William Schabas, chair of the International Commission of Inquiry investigating the Israeli attack on Gaza and its war crimes against the Palestinian people, was subject by the Israeli state and its allies, forcing his resignation and leading to his replacement by a US judge on the panel. This was clearly an attempt by the Netanyahu government to cut the road in front of the findings of Schabas and the ICI on the crimes of the occupation in its war on Gaza, said al-Ghoul.”
Not a good pick Ban Ki Moon, but it does show your position and that of the UN quite clearly.
Thanks to the Indian medhajnews.com for the update on Malak, you may remember I posted on her imprisonment by the Israeli judicial system for ‘stone throwing’ after she was arrested on her way home from school.
See my previous post here (in new tab/window) on Malak from Jan 26th 2015
Malak has spoken to the media on her release. See the 6:32 min video below, where unbelievably Malak states the arresting police accused her of being a member of Hamas.
THE SIGN ON THE BACK OF THIS ISRAELI BUS READS:
THE NON-JEW DOESN’T WANT A THING, HE WAITS TO BE TOLD WHAT THE JEW WANTS!
On a previous post containing a reblog on the ‘Tel Aviv Stabbings’ I mentioned I had recently heard an interview on radio with a Palestinian busdriver about the brief driver’s strike following a colleague being stabbed to death by ‘settlers’, (I prefer to call them ‘unsettlers’ and that’s when I’m being generous). He spoke of having to go back to work to feed his family and of being spat on and abused on a daily basis by these doyens of civilised diplomacy in Jerusalem.
I wonder how he feels having to drive around a bus promoting the advert above. This is not only racist, its surely inciting violence against Palestinians including the bus drivers in the Occupied Territories where settlers literally get away theft and murder. A recent report states Israeli forces have failed to probe 83% of settler violence cases (see full article here)
I’d like to know if being racist in a reinvented language makes it OK?
I’d also like to know how Zionists can openly source $100,000 crowdfunding to produce architectural plans that include destruction of the Al Aqsa in Jerusalem (See original article by Sarah Irving for electronic intifada here )
I wake up each day wondering what further injustices Israel can perpetrate on Palestinians and how much more they will do alongside US silence, complicity, and approval (We in Australia of course continue to behave as the faithful dog, after all we spawned Rupert Murdoch)
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.
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)
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!