Saturday, 2 May 2009

An Open Letter to Barack Obama from a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate: Stand Up to Israeli Apartheid!!!


Stand Up to Israeli Apartheid



I found your book ‘Dreams from my Father’ a moving and inspiring story of your own struggle to find your identity and purpose in life. You found it for sure, and today carry the hopes and dreams of so many people in our world. We pray for you and your family. We wish you all good health and happiness. You carry so much responsibility. We hope you will change the policies of USA (both domestic and Foreign) to people centred policies, based on the values and ethics which you try to live out in your life.

Reading your book I was inspired by your involvement (during Sophomore year at University) in the South African anti-apartheid Divestment campaign. Your own words - ‘I found myself drawn into a larger role – contacting representatives of the African National Congress to speak on campus, drafting strategy, I noticed that people had begun to listen to my opinions.’, encouraged me to share with you the following opinions, and experiences, of many of the people I met during my most recent visit to Palestine/Israel.

Earlier this month, I attended the 4th Bil’in International Conference on Popular Nonviolent Resistance held in Bil’in, near Ramallah, in the Israeli occupied Terrority of Palestine. Here, all the Palestinian people are asking of you, President Obama, is to listen to their opinions and use your position to help end the racist, apartheid policies of Israel, which continue to cause so much pain and suffering to them. Each week, for the past four years, the villagers (after prayers in the Mosque) walk to the Wall which has annexed much of their land, and cuts them off from their farms and olive groves, and their ability to make a living for their families. As you know, under International Law the Apartheid wall is illegal but Israel continues to ignore International Laws (and some 62 UN resolutions) and annex more land from the Palestinians, all the while demolishing Palestinian homes, building illegal settlements both in East Jerusalem, and the West Bank, and laying Siege to the Gaza strip (l and a half million people), thus breaking the Geneva Conventions and committing crimes against humanity.

To visit Palestine is to walk with a people whose lives are being made unbearable by Israeli Policies of ethnic cleansing. Each year when I visit I ask myself ‘how can the Palestinians bear so much suffering and still have hope?’ The Philosopher Karl Jung says ‘Go into your grief for there your soul will grow’. Being privileged to walk alongside the Palestinian people, one sees so much soul. Many are materially poor having been made refugees and often pauperised by Israeli occupation and siege, but their dignity, courage, and persistent resistance to injustice is awesome to witness. It reminds me of the magnificence of the human spirit and, I feel humbled to be welcomed as a friend of the people of Bilin, Ramallah, Gaza, and Palestine. I wish that you President Obama would go and walk with them as you walked in spirit with the people of South Africa in their great and inspirational anti-apartheid movement.

Walking every week in the peaceful protest to the Apartheid wall, are Israeli activists and Internationals. It takes great courage to come from Israel to the occupied terrorities and oppose your own Government’s Policies and I pay tribute to the Israeli peace activists who continue to do so, often at the cost of punishment by the Israeli Government. Yet, they come, and here is the hope that not all Israelis support their Government’s racist and apartheid policies of siege, occupation and militarization of both Israel and Palestinian villages and towns. I also pay tribute to the Internationals who put their lives daily on the line to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians. Last month in the Village of Nilin, one young man from your own country of America, Tristan Anderson, was targeted by Israeli soldiers, and hit in the head with a gas canister. He is currently in intensive care, and we all hope he will recover.

At the Bilin Conference an Israeli asked me ‘how can we touch the hearts of the Israeli people’ so they can change their Government’s policies?’ I believe there is so much fear amongst the Israeli’s of ethnic annialiation but this fear can be dissolved by the politics of the heart. Israel should not be afraid of the Palestinians or Arab world. They are not the enemy and this can be borne witness to by the Israelis who come to stay in this village and who are taken care of, with such love, by the Bilin villagers. The Israeli people must make friends with the Palestinians and indeed the whole Arab world, and take seriously the peace agreement offered by the Arab countries. There will never be a military or armed struggle solution to the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict, as it is a political problem with a political solution. What is lacking is a real political will, on behalf of the Israeli Government, to enter seriously into all inclusive unconditional talks.

During the peaceful protest to the wall, we were assaulted by the Israeli soldiers with teargas, and rubber bullets. Many of us were overcome with the teargas and others seriously hurt with steel tipped rubber bullets. On 17th April, 2009, at this wall, one of the protesters, Bassem Abu-Rahma, was hit in the chest with a teargas metal container and killed. He was a young man from the village much loved by all and his death caused great pain and anger particularly amongst his peer group. I marvelled at the skill of the Village Leaders and Muslim women, who kept reminding the young men that they must keep their protest peaceful, but the atmosphere felt like a pressure cooker with the lid about to blow. How much longer must this injustice to Palestinian people be allowed to continue unchallenged by your administration? If you do not insist upon Israel Upholding its International responsibility immediately, this anger will grow and the daily humiliation of Palestine, by Israeli injustice and soldiers will push more people towards retaliatory violence. (As one of our great Irish poets W.B. Yeats wrote ‘too long a sacrifice makes a stone of the heart’).

I appeal to you President Obama, to change USA Policies and stop supporting through military aid, etc, Israelis occupation of Palestine, and to move immediately to help lift the siege of Gaza and say to Israel ‘enough is enough’.

In the meantime I support the Bilin committee’s strategy of BDS in an attempt to get their freedom and rights. You, as a supporter and activist for South Africa’s BDS campaign know it succeeded in ending Apartheid as Nobel Peace Laureate

Archbishop Tutu often reminds us. Such a strategy can work for Palestine too. Some South Africans Anti Apartheid leaders when visiting Israel have said it is much worse than the days of Apartheid in their country. However, I believe President Obama, you can do so much more than those of us who

Support the BDS campaign. You can bring your experience in your own struggle for peace and freedom to help solve this problem.

Love and hope gives us all courage and belief that peace and freedom is possible.

God bless you and your family.

Mairead Maguire won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976.

May 1, 2009 Posted by Elias

Detlev Mehlis: "This could send the tribunal into oblivion,..."


Reuters, here

"I salute the tribunal," said Mihran Pamboukdjian, a retired industrialist sitting in a cafe in downtown Beirut. "Those who incarcerated the generals are part of a corrupt regime. It is well known that the Lebanese judiciary is corrupt."Visitors to Hariri's grave outside a giant mosque that he financed also said it was right to free the generals if they could not be indicted, even if this had come as a shock....

Most voters have already made up their minds, in line with sectarian loyalties and local patronage. Many Lebanese analysts expect Iranian-backed Hezbollah and its allies to reverse the slim majority won by the anti-Syrian bloc after Hariri's death....

Nadim Shehadi, a fellow at London's Chatham House, linked faith in the tribunal with faith in the outside world's ability to protect Lebanon, which he said had been badly dented by the failure to halt Israel's 2006 war on Hezbollah guerrillas..."

Posted by G, Z, & or B at 10:03 AM

Could 9/11 be an inside Job? Self-Confessed 9/11 “Mastermind” Also Falsely Confessed to Crimes He Didn’t Commit?



The following blog entry advocates the No Planes Theory (NPT) on 9/11 – a subset of the conspiracy theory that 9/11 was an inside job. For a more mainstream perspective regarding the absence of proof of the guilt of some of the alleged terrorists, see George Washington’s Blog below. (For more information on the NPT, see the links below.) –RB


A recent George Washington’s Blog (GWB) entry noticed that the only evidence against reputed high value “terrorists” Abu Zubaida and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the notorious KSM, are allegations by the Bush-Cheney administration.

GWB emphasizes that he’s not arguing that Abu Zubaida and KSM were NOT guilty; he’s only saying that no reliable evidence has been presented on the subject.

Unlike, GWB I can confidently say that the aforementioned detainees are not guilty of having any part in the terror events of 9/11 since 9/11 was an inside job, a concoction of the Bush-Cheney White House.

Moreover, there were no, repeat NO Arabs or Muslims involved. There were no hijackings, no hijackers and no plane crashes into buildings or anywhere else on 9/11/01.

No planes explains why there were no jet interceptors airborne until after the attack on the Pentagon –most likely a missile attack. There were no interceptions by jets because there were no hijacked planes to be intercepted.

No planes and no Muslim or other hijackers also explains why the CIA, NSA, FBI and other security agencies have made a point of hiring as few Arab speakers as possible since Arab speakers, if they saw the relevant traffic, could expose who the real terrorists were. The NPT is also consistent with the lack of verifiable plane wreckage or passenger jet body parts from the “crash” sites.

911 as an inside job also explains why the Bush-Cheney White House employed torture. Waterboarding was one way to get false confessions. It’s good to see that some are beginning to raise questions about the guilt of those who were tortured even while the Left consensus appears to agree with the Right that there must be at least a few “bad guys” at Guantanamo.

It has been pointed out that the torture inflicted on detainees makes the normal judicial process difficult or impossible. We can guess that making fair trials impossible was in part the purpose of the torture.

Now that the issue has fallen into the lap of the Obama administration, the White House seems to feel that it is required to set up some extra-judicial, extra- constitutional arrangement for the Bush-Cheney detainees. The latest rumor is that they will be sent to prisons in Afghanistan or Iraq or elsewhere. Obama seems to be bowing to political pressures that take for granted their guilt.

The pity of it goes beyond the detainees and points to the dagger at the heart of the system of justice that supports civil life in the U.S. and in many countries. One could hope that those in favor of justice and due process would consider examining the evidence regarding what really happened on 9/11. Not least because many of those who continue to defend the torturers appear to have no qualms about citing 3,000 dead on 9/11 as the basis for their continued trashing of the rule of law.

Yes, we can hope. But hopes too often founder on the rocks of reality. In his masterful book on Hitler and Stalin (Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives (1991, pp. 476-477) Alan Bullock briefly explores the question of how it was possible for the great majority of Soviet citizens (and many of Stalin’s victims) to believe that Stalin, “the Great Helmsman,” was the target of conspiracies against his government, and not the great conspirator himself.

Part of Bullock’s answer is that Stalin’s propaganda campaign was so successful that to believe in Stalin’s guilt would have been to “turn the world upside down in the most alarming way and undermine all sense of security…To think [that Stalin was guilty of unspeakable crimes] would have been to feel the solid ground giving way beneath one’s feet.”

Such considerations tangentially or not remind us that the subtler system of restrictions on permissible political discourse in the West are competitive with Soviet style repression.

Ronald Bleier

Bleires Blog

As the Washington Post writes of Guantanamo Bay detainee Abu Zubaida:

President George W. Bush had publicly described him as “al-Qaeda’s chief of operations,” and other top officials called him a “trusted associate” of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and a major figure in the planning of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. None of that was accurate, the new evidence showed.

Okay, maybe they got that one wrong.

But certainly Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s confession that he was the mastermind of 9/11 proves his guilt, right?

Well, as the Telegraph notes today:

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-confessed mastermind of 9/11, was waterboarded 183 times in one month, and “confessed” to murdering the journalist Daniel Pearl, which he did not. There could hardly be more compelling evidence that such techniques are neither swift, nor efficient, nor reliable
If one of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s major confessions (Pearl murder) was false, why should we believe his confession about 9/11?

After all, tough-as-nails Navy Seals usually become hysterical when waterboarded once in training sessions. After 183 waterboarding sessions in a month, I wouldn’t be surprised if KSM also confessed to murdering Lincoln and Kennedy.

Note: I am not saying that KSM did or didn’t have anything to do with 9/11 (I have no idea). I am saying that nothing that the government said about 9/11 should be accepted without independent verification, and that torture does not constitute independent verification. Indeed, given that the government used techniques which were developed especially for producing false confessions, the assumption must be that any confessions were, in fact, false.

Source: Bleirs Blog
Links to information regarding No Planes on 9/11

Gerard Holmgren, “Manufactured Terrorism – The Truth About Sept 11,” (2004, revised 2006).;

Morgan Reynolds, “We Have Some Holes in the Plane Stories,” (March 2006).

An essay by Ronald Bleier summarizing the Holmgren and Reynolds findings (with a section on the controlled demolition of the Twin Towers) can be found at:

Prof. William Robinson: Gaza is Israel’s Warsaw-A Vast Concentration Camp!!!


Prof. William Robinson
Prof. William Robinson


: The Anti-Defamation League went after Archbishop Desmond Tutu, now there after Prof. William Robinson. The ADL is trying to suppress the right to criticize Israel’s Policies. Anyone who criticizes Israeli Policies is labeled Anti-Semetic, but in this case Prof. Robinson is a member of the Jewish Faith, so he can’t be accused of being Anti-Semitic. Prof. Robinson was only telling the truth. Administrator

Here is a portion of the E-Mail that’s the basis for the investigation

Gaza is Israel’s Warsaw - a vast concentration camp that confined and blockaded Palestinians, subjecting them to the slow death of malnutrition, disease and despair, nearly two years before their subjection to the quick death of Israeli bombs. We are witness to a slow-motion process of genocide (Websters: “the systematic killing of, or a program of action intended to destroy, a whole national or ethnic group”), a process whose objective is not so much to physically eliminate each and every Palestinian than to eliminate the Palestinians as a people in any meaningful sense of the notion of people-hood.


By Peter Schmidt
The Anti-Defamation League’s top official met with administrators and faculty members of the University of California at Santa Barbara last month and urged them to investigate a professor for academic misconduct for his harsh criticism of Israel in an e-mail message to students, a university spokesman confirmed on Tuesday.

But the spokesman, Paul Desruisseaux, said a university administrator had told Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Jewish advocacy group, that an investigation was already under way in response to two students’ complaints, and that any further discussion of the matter would be inappropriate.

The university, Mr. Desruisseaux said, “has not responded in any way to any pressure from the ADL or other groups” in its inquiry into misconduct allegations that the two students formally brought against William I. Robinson, a professor of sociology, in response to the e-mail message. He said the investigation was “working its way through standard procedures,” with a panel of the Academic Senate looking into the matter to determine whether the allegations have enough weight to be considered by the senate’s Privilege and Tenure Committee.

A national spokeswoman for the Anti-Defamation League, Myrna Shinbaum, confirmed Tuesday that the meeting with university officials had taken place. She declined, however, to provide additional comment, and said Mr. Foxman was out of the country. Officials of the organization’s Santa Barbara regional office, which also was involved in the March 9 meeting, declined to take calls and referred inquiries to the group’s national headquarters.

Dueling Statements

The controversy surrounding Mr. Robinson has attracted widespread attention at Santa Barbara and elsewhere, with some students on the campus forming a group in support of him and a long list of scholars signing onto letters urging that the investigation be dropped. On Tuesday, California Scholars for Academic Freedom, an organization comprising more than 100 faculty members at colleges around the state, issued a statement calling the misconduct charges “without merit” and “brought to silence criticism of Israeli policies and practices.”

The uproar centers around an e-mail message that Mr. Robinson sent on January 19 to students in his “Sociology of Globalization” class. In it, he accused Israel of war crimes for its military actions in Gaza, and forwarded juxtaposed photographs of what he called “Nazi atrocities against the Jews and Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians.” He argued that “Gaza is Israel’s Warsaw” and characterized Israel as a state “founded on the negation” of the Palestinian people.

On February 9, Cynthia Silverman, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Santa Barbara office, sent Mr. Robinson a letter saying her organization had received complaints about his e-mail message. Her letter—copied to the campus’s chancellor, Henry T. Yang, and the university system’s president, Mark G. Yudof—called the professor’s comparison of Israelis and Nazis “offensive” and the views he presented in his e-mail message “intimidating to students.”

The letter, arguing that the e-mail message appeared unrelated to Mr. Robinson’s sociology course, cited several provisions of the university’s faculty code of conduct that, it said, he had probably violated by using his university e-mail account to distribute a message that was not course-related.

‘His Damage Is Irreversible’

In the ensuing weeks, two students separately filed formal letters of complaint about the e-mail message with university officials. Both of those letters complained that Mr. Robinson had violated the same provisions in the code of conduct that had been cited by the regional office of the ADL, and both accused Mr. Robinson of anti-Semitism using a definition taken from a U.S. State Department document.

One of the students wrote, “This professor should be stopped immediately from continuing to disseminate this information and be punished because his damage is irreversible.”

The other student said she had been nauseated about a professor sending such an e-mail message and felt compelled to drop the class in response to it.

The campus spokesman, Mr. Desruisseaux (who is a former editor at The Chronicle), said the March 9 meeting with Mr. Foxman and local ADL officials was organized by Leonard Wallock, associate director of the campus’s Walter Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life. Among those in attendance were Michael D. Young, vice chancellor for student affairs; David B. Marshall, executive dean of the College of Letters and Science; and several faculty members.

“To the participants from our campus,” Mr. Desruisseaux said, “the purpose and agenda of the meeting had nothing to do with the Robinson inquiry. It was planned as an informal discussion of issues of mutual concern to the campus, its students, and ADL.”

When Mr. Foxman pulled out the regional ADL office’s letter of complaint about Mr. Robinson and asked if the university had done anything in response, “about half the people in the room did not know what he was talking about,” Mr. Desruisseaux said. Mr. Marshall then told the ADL official that the inquiry was under way, and ended discussion of the subject.

A student group that is supporting Mr. Robinson and working closely with him, the Committee to Defend Academic Freedom at UCSB, issued a statement arguing that Mr. Foxman had held the meeting solely to pressure the university to investigate the complaints against the professor. Neither Mr. Robinson nor the committee was able on Tuesday to produce any faculty members who had attended the meeting and who could support their account, however. Mr. Robinson did not comment on Tuesday.

The Anti-Defamation League’s calls for Santa Barbara to investigate Mr. Robinson is not its only current effort to challenge campus relationships with critics of Israel. The group also is protesting decisions by Michigan State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to have Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a vocal critic of Israel, speak at their commencements this year.

April 30, 2009 Posted by Elias

America to blame for 'lack of evidence' in Hariri case....

Robert Fisk at his creepiest best, in the Independent, here

"... Once more the UN donkey, clip-clopping on to the world stage after the murder of Mr Hariri, has been proved a mule. Judge Daniel Fransen, of the UN tribunal, declared in the Hague yesterday that the Big Four – how well we know their names in Lebanon – should go free ...

If this "evidence" existed (and the UN examined millions of phone calls recorded by British intelligence on Mount Troudos in Cyprus), then it failed to prevent the decision yesterday. Barack Obama's new friendship with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria must be going great guns..."So who killed Rafiq Hariri? Until yesterday, the Lebanese, whose protests after the massacre forced the Syrian army out of Lebanon, thought they knew. And who was it who wanted, as President of the United States, to open a new door to the Syrians? President Obama. And who was it who stood next to Rafiq Hariri's son, Saad, in Beirut, three days ago, to assure him of US support? Why, Mr Obama's Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, of course."

Posted by G, Z, & or B at 9:09 PM


Palestinians Risk Eviction (Washington Post)

"....such actions are "unhelpful" in advancing Arab-Israeli peace"

UN: Palestinians Risk Eviction
Report finds 60,000 in East Jerusalem may lose homes if Israel enforces its rules on contruction. (Reuters)

Palestinian women settlement workers' plight


Sarah Irving, The Electronic Intifada, 1 May 2009

Salwa Alinat, a representative of Kav LaOved, speaks with two women workers. (Sarah Irving)
Umm Raed's sick husband hasn't worked in more than 20 years. Her own family can't, or won't, help support her and her seven children. So her job in the Royalife factory in the Barkan industrial zone, built on illegally confiscated Palestinian land in the Salfit governorate in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, was the household's main source of income.

But since autumn 2008, Umm Raed and a number of other women from her village have been out of a job. Sick of low pay, dangerous conditions and bullying treatment, in the summer workers at the factory took action. Supported by the Israeli labor rights organization Kav LaOved, they first complained to the factory management and then called for a strike. The striking workers were fired, reinstated under a court order, and then fired again.

Sewing bed linens for export to the US, Turkey and European countries including Germany and Spain, the women described working conditions reminiscent of the horror stories that come from sweatshops in China or maquilas on the US-Mexican border.

"We were paid only six or eight [$1.50 or $2] shekels an hour while men got nine or 12 shekels [$2.25 or $3]," explained Umm Raed as we sat drinking coffee in her friend Kalila's house. The Israeli minimum wage is 20 shekels per hour, three times that being paid to the women I talked to.

"We get no vacations, no sick pay, not even pay slips. Once when Umm Ahmad made a mistake, the manager made her stay and fix it without paying her for the time. There is no air conditioning or heating in the factory, so it's hot in summer and very cold in winter and animals get in through the open windows -- I once found a mouse in the material. And the managers are always screaming and shouting at us, trying to pressure us to work harder."

The women reported working from 6:30am to 5pm, sometimes for seven days a week when large orders need to be filled. And the work continues under unsafe conditions.

"There are often accidents because we are cutting fabric," described Umm Raed. "There is no protection from the machines and no proper safety equipment."

One young woman suffered a broken leg in 2006 after a roll of nylon she was helping to carry was dropped by a factory manager. She was, according to Umm Raed and her friends, sent to a hospital in Salfit in a private car and no ambulance was called. Despite being unable to work the factory management failed to pay any medical bills for her and threatened her family if they complained.

After four months, said Umm Raed, the woman was given 3,000 shekels ($700) on the condition that she signed papers saying that all her legal rights had been respected.

Royalife's counter-claims

In a September 2008 letter sent to the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, a London-based non-governmental organization, Royalife claimed that:

"The worker's payment is higher than the one in the West Bank or in the whole region ... While Western Europe and the United States moved the industry to countries like Pakistan, India, China etc., with much lower labor costs, we tried to keep the textile industry in our region, enabling income to the people who live in the area. Regarding the plant, all complaints are not correct. The plant is a very high standard sewing unit which has top work conditions. The unit was authorized by leading international institutions."

The letter doesn't, however, state which "leading international institutions" have signed off on conditions in the plant, said Salwa Alinat of Kav LaOved, adding that claims from Israeli settlement factories that they are paying above the norm for the West Bank are "irrelevant."

An Israeli high court ruling from 2007 states that Israeli labor law does apply in West Bank settlements. But, said Alinat, "there is no shame and there is no enforcement, so they can do whatever they want. In a recent newspaper report on child labor in the Jordan Valley, the journalists interviewed a lot of employers and all of them said, OK, we break the law, we don't care, we compare our payment to what is paid in the West Bank."

According to the sacked women from the Royalife factory, rates of pay in the factory have increased since they were fired, and new workers not involved in suing the company are now paid up to 13 shekels ($4) an hour -- still well below the minimum wage. But the women who first stood up to management are still out of work, and Kav LaOved is calling for international demands for Royalife to reinstate them on legal terms.

Israeli industrial zones on Palestinian land

The problem of huge residential settlements such as Ma'ale Adumim, Ariel and Har Homa, confiscating West Bank land, displacing local people and taking up water resources, is well documented. But not all are aware of settlements such as Barkan and Mishor Adumim which are industrial areas, housing factories manufacturing products as diverse as gas masks, bedding, toiletries or sweets, and providing services such as the large-scale laundries which clean the Israeli army's dirty clothes and bedding. Other economic settlements in the Jordan Valley take up Palestinian land and water to grow fruit and vegetables for export, mainly to Europe, through companies such as Agrexco.

Although clear statistics are rare, between 35,000 and 40,000 Palestinians probably work in such settlements, possibly rising above this during some agricultural seasons. Again seasonally, up to half of these are women. According to Daoud Hamoudi of the Stop The Wall campaign, economic conditions for Palestinian families in the Jordan Valley also mean that the rate of child labor there is increasing. Because the lack of schools in the valley makes education expensive, said Hamoudi, most children selected for school are boys, leaving girls to work in the fields.

Stop The Wall, however, claims one small victory, having succeeded in 2007 in obtaining permission for the first school to be built in the Jordan Valley in 40 years. It will mainly provide education for women and girls.

Jordan Valley

The women who work at Barkan are far from unique in their experiences of exploitation and abuse.

In the village of Jiftlik, in the Jordan Valley, another group of women workers met in the home of one of their number. April is a fairly quiet time for agricultural laborers in the area, but during the date harvest, from September to November, these seven women might sleep only four or five hours a night once they've worked shifts in the date-packing factory and then completed their domestic chores.

In common with many other laborers in the agricultural settlements of the Jordan Valley, the women are hazy about who exactly employs them. Although they all work in the Jordan Plains date-packing factory, they are recruited by local middlemen who take a percentage of their wages. That means they tend to blame the middleman who organizes their work, not the Israeli company owner who sets the terms.

Like the women from Barkan Industrial Zone, the Jordan Plains women are only paid a fraction of the Israeli minimum wage. But it's the conditions that they work under which distress this group most.

"They are shouting and screaming at us all the time," said Tahirah. "We're not used to this treatment, before it wasn't like this. It's our job to sort dates on a moving conveyor belt. There are a limited number of us to sort everything and they are all the time shouting at us and saying that if we don't work as they want they could easily replace us."

"We don't know what the source of the difference is," added Tahirah. "Maybe it's the political situation, but maybe it's because many of the bosses are Russian and they want to bring Arab Israeli citizens to replace us, or because they want to bring more Russians."

Salwa Alinat of Kav LaOved has called these women together to see if they want to organize amongst themselves to demand better pay and conditions from their employers. But they're afraid of losing their jobs, and unconvinced that, despite legal victories at factories in Barkan and Mishor Adumim, their lot can be improved.

Like those in Salfit, the women from Jiftlik report poor health and safety at the processing warehouse.

Abia, sitting with a toddler on her lap, described how she had to stay at home for a week after a box fell on her hip when she was four months pregnant. "The factory didn't pay me," she said, "but the Palestinian subcontractor paid me for this week because he was afraid he would pay more if I reported about it."

With no maternity benefits, women who are pregnant during the date harvest simply have to work in order that their families will survive through the year. Abia worked, she said, right up to the birth of one of her children. "No woman can afford to stay at home when she's pregnant," Abia commented. "Our husbands can't earn enough to support us through the year, and it's not a big salary but it helps. But if we are lucky we'll be pregnant in February."

Of the seven women in the room, three reported chronic back problems and several walk with pronounced limps. They said they have to stand for up to three hours at a time and don't have suitable chairs to sit on, but they're not sure if this causes the health problems they experience.

But, they said, other conditions do anger them. Unlike the Russian workers, they don't have a room to rest in and have to eat under the trees, even in the winter months. They have no access to cold drinking water, and they fear that working near large, noisy packing machines will damage their hearing. There is no first aid equipment and, they said, any women falling sick at work have to wait until the end of the working day to be transported home.

Another female worker, Abla, explained that "we are not respected culturally ... it's a long way to walk to the [bathroom] and we are afraid to be attacked by men, but we're not allowed to go together, we have to go one at a time to save time."

On our way back from Jiftlik, we asked if we can stop briefly on the road which passes by the Jordan Plains packing house. Our driver refused, fearful that he will be spotted and reported to the Israeli army authorities running the huge closed military zone that is the Jordan Valley.

Double marginalization

The women who work in Israeli settlements -- whether in agriculture or industry -- suffer terribly from the criticism their jobs attract. Despite the desperate situations of many, with sick husbands or parents and no other means of support, they face opprobrium from their own society for supporting the settlement system.

"I can't get a job in the village," said Dalal in Salfit. There is little paid work available in the area. Moreover, when she and the other women were sacked by Royalife and tried to set up their own sewing operation the Palestinian middleman who supply Royalife with local labor threatened to torch their factory.

"This subcontractor, he is from Hares village and he is well-known as a collaborator with Israeli security," said Kav LaOved's Salwa Alinat. "He is taking it very personally that these women are acting against his word, and he is a subcontractor for other factories where workers are also starting to demand their rights, so he is fighting very aggressively."

Despite the lack of other options and the family's dependence on their income, Umm Raed says that her daughters are both thinking of leaving their jobs. "Women who work in settlements don't get married easily," she reported. Women from Jericho, working at Mishor Adumim settlement, also married late -- in some cases too late to be able to have children. But, said Umm Raed, "We need every shekel."

The names of all workers in this article have been changed for their own protection.

Sarah Irving is a freelance writer from Manchester, UK. She worked with the International Solidarity Movement in the West Bank in 2001-2 and with Olive Co-op, promoting fair trade Palestinian products and solidarity visits, in 2004-6. She now writes full-time on a range of issues, including Palestine.

Related Links

Palestinians, Israelis Unite Over Swine By MIFTAH (The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy)


Date posted: May 02, 2009

As the world panics over the outbreak of swine flu, Palestinians and Israelis have finally found something to unite over. On May 1, representatives from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Egypt met at the World Health Organization office in Jerusalem to formulate a plan for a possible outbreak of the virus. While the Palestinians and Jordan have so far not reported any cases of the illness in their territories, there have been cases reported in Israel. The parties agreed to coordinate and exchange information in order to contain the flu in the region.

Also on May 1, the Palestinian agriculture ministry announced it was ready to confront any cases of swine flu in the Palestinian territories and would coordinate with all institutions including Israeli, to counter the threat. Furthermore, the ministry said specialists were monitoring the two pig farms in the West Bank, located in Beit Sahour and Beit Jala for any signs of the H1N1 infection. He said the farms are currently under quarantine.

The swine flu, however, is the only point of agreement between the two. This week, Israel continued to issue demolition orders to east Jerusalem residents at an unprecedented rate, even eliciting criticism from the UN. On April 30, OCHA, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs issued a report calling on Israel to freeze its demolition of Palestinian homes.

The report outlined the serious obstacles Palestinians face in obtaining construction licenses from Israeli authorities in Jerusalem. It said only 13 percent of east Jerusalem is zoned for Palestinian construction, while Jewish settlements occupy 35 percent of east Jerusalem, which is in violation of international law.

According to OCHA, some 60,000 Palestinian residents of east Jerusalem are at risk of having their homes demolished. According to Ir Amim, an Israeli rights organization in Jerusalem, only 125 construction licenses were issued in 2008 to Palestinians while 85 homes were demolished in that same year.

This year, the situation is only worsening. On April 29, Israeli authorities issued a demolition order for a two-floor addition to an Armenian church in the Old City. The structure is 150-years old and is built on land owned by the Belgium monarchy.

On April 28, the Israeli municipality announced it would demolish 50 homes in the Bustan neighborhood of Silwan this summer. A total of 88 homes are slated for demolition in this east Jerusalem quarter.

On April 27 a demolition order was delivered to the home of Qassem Magrhibi from Jabal Al Mukkaber. Maghribi was shot and killed by Israeli police in April, 2008 when he allegedly ran over a group of Israelis near New Gate, injuring 19. The three-storey house currently shelters 21 people.

On April 26, 30 new demolition orders were delivered to Palestinian families in east Jerusalem neighborhoods, all on the pretext of lacking proper licensing.

The demolitions are part and parcel of a larger Israeli plan, which includes the expansion of Jewish settlements. On April 27, Israeli authorities announced their intention to build a new settlement in the east Jerusalem area of Al Sawahra. Over 60 new housing units will be built. According to the Israeli municipality, the construction is merely an "extension" of the Jewish Talpiot neighborhood and is completely legal.

A day earlier, a plan was announced to expand the monstrous Maaleh Adumim settlement in east Jerusalem through confiscating an additional 11,500 dunams of land. According to the plan, 6,000 new housing units will be built to house 25,000 Jewish settlers and ultimately connect the Kedar and Maaleh Adumim settlements.

The situation in the Gaza Strip continues to be unsettling. Israel said two rockets were launched from the Strip on May 2 and landed in an open area of the Negev Desert. Earlier in the week, Israeli planes bombed underground tunnels in Rafah, which Israel says are used for smuggling. No casualties were reported.

However, on April 30 during a visit to Gaza, UN peace envoy Robert Serry said the blockade on the Gaza Strip was "unprecedented" and the hardship endured by the people "unacceptable."

"Priority must be to ensure calm in and around Gaza and urgently improve humanitarian conditions... a major escalation of violence would have grave consequences for the protection of civilians in Israel and Gaza," Serry said. The peace envoy also said it was critical that reconstruction efforts begin immediately in the Strip.

On the internal front, Palestinian factions broke off their talks in Cairo with a promise to resume them on May 16. This fourth round of talks did not yield any groundbreaking agreements between Hamas and Fateh but according to some negotiators, progress was made. Still, major differences remain on the mechanism for elections and the formation of the new government.

On that note, US President Barack Obama called on Congress on April 27 to make a slight change in a law that would allow financial assistance to the Palestinians even if Hamas-affiliated members were part of a national government. While this caused discomfort with some pro-Israeli congressmen, Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both stressed that this would only be possible if the government agreed to the three Quartet conditions: a renunciation of violence, commitment to past agreements and recognition of Israel.

Which brings us to our next point of contention between Palestinians and Israel. President Mahmoud Abbas vehemently rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state in order for peace negotiations to continue. On April 27, Abbas said he would not accept the demand, saying it is not the Palestinians' "business" what Israel wants to call itself. Instead, the president called for a halt to settlement construction, peace negotiations on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative and a solution that would end in two states.

Also on April 27, EU commissioner for external relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner ruffled Israeli feathers when she criticized the new Israeli government's refusal to endorse a Palestinian state, adding that an upgrade in Israeli-EU relations would depend on Israel's commitment to the "two-state solution." In response, Israel warned the EU that if it did not "tone down" its criticism of Israel, it would cut them out of the peace process.

Finally, Israel celebrated its 61st independence day on April 29. On the same day, thousands of Palestinians inside Israel protested in the village of Kafreen under the slogan of "Their independence is our Nakba". The protesters held up banners with the names of the villages, destroyed in the 1948 war and Palestinian flags, demanding that they are allowed to return to their original homes.

Al-Quds 2009

Al-Quds 2009

hStudies on Palestinian Textbooks

The Wall...

The Wall

posted by annie at 7:28 AM

Reham Alhelsi - Get up, stand up for Palestinian Rights on May Day and Every Day


By Mary Rizzo • Apr 30th, 2009 at 21:32 • Category: Analysis, Culture and Heritage, Israel, Newswire, Palestine, Resistance, Somoud: Arab Voices of Resistance, Zionism

Introduction by Mary Rizzo – In many parts of the world, the first of May is an official holiday that celebrates the conquests that workers have achieved following centuries of exploitation. These rights are by no means guaranteed, and anywhere there are other social or political problems, the rights of workers seem more like a luxury than a necessity. In fact, when one looks at some of the old political slogans used throughout the world on this day, one has to realise that there is still so much injustice inflicted upon human beings by other human beings. “Food is not a Luxury” is fitting for today’s Gaza, not just in turn-of-the-century central Europe. The United Nations, in fact, has established that labour should be included in its Declaration of Human Rights stating that: “Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.” The conditions simply don’t exist for Palestinians to revel in any conquests, because they are denied the protection that is at the basis of any just human society.

In recent years, Europe has shifted the focus of its May Day to a moment when a focus on other rights might find a bit of attention, and it is not unusual to see demonstrations of support for oppressed people around the world during this commemoration, in the international spirit which makes this day different from all others. It is with this spirit that Palestine Think Tank is honoured to highlight one of our very favourite writers who connects the issues of workers rights, protection and a general call for justice, which is what is reflected in the intent of Article 23 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. When the very existence of the worker is threatened, as this listing of massacres perpetrated against Palestinian workers demonstrates, we realise that the conquests of workers are still at a very early stage. May all who read this reflect upon each name, thinking of the sacrifice that these people made just to bring food home to their families, and promising upon the memory of these men and women that we will not stop to fight for the rights of workers and Palestinians, so that these senseless deaths are in no way in vain. Long live the memory of these martyrs and long live the indomitable spirit of the Palestinian people, which is an inspiration to all who struggle for justice and freedom.

The First of May Celebration - Get Up, Stand Up by Reham Alhelsi

Every morning, thousands of Palestinians say goodbye to their families and go to work. Teachers, doctors, farmers, labourers, fishermen, etc… They go to school to teach children, defying the Israeli tank standing outside the school. They go to their fields to work them, defying fanatic Jewish settlers armed with weapons and hate. They repair their tents and go fishing, defying Israeli pirate ships shelling and hijacking the area. They drive their ambulances and rush to save lives, defying Israeli snipers aiming to kill. They take their pens and recording equipment to register Israeli crimes, defying Israeli tanks with their cameras. They go to their jobs every morning defying daily Israeli crimes committed under the eyes, ears and noses of the whole world that prefers to remain silent. They go to their jobs because they want their children to have food on the table, a roof over their heads, an education as a weapon in their hands, and a future that is free of Zionists and military occupation. The 1st of May is a day to remember every Palestinian who wakes up to a new day, full of new hopes and new strength to face and defy the siege, the closure, the military occupation, the fanatic settlers, the terror aiming to starve us as a nation and make us fall to our knees.

On the 1st of May we remember Zionist massacres committed against Palestinian labourers. We remember the massacre of Oyoun Qara (Rishon Lezion), when on 20.5.1990 an Israeli soldier lined up some 100 Palestinian labourers who were on their way to work, and in cold blood killed 7 of them with a sub-machine gun. As with all massacres committed by individual Israelis, the Israeli government rushed to declare the soldier deranged. Ami Popper, the IOF soldier, had come upon the group of Palestinians, asked them to in kneel down in 3 lines, and after checking their IDs and making sure they were Arabs he started shooting randomly at them. Their only fault was that they were Palestinians. They had lost their homes and everything else they owned in 1948, and were made refugees by the Zionist state. And as the tragedy of the Nakba continued, the suffering of these people knew no end. For, in order to feed their children, they were forced to work like slaves for those who made refugees out of them. The photos of the massacre show the extent of hate and brutality of the IOF soldier: young and elderly, drowning in pools of blood, their lunch packages scattered around them. And when the Israeli police finally arrived to the scene of the massacre, they started beating those Palestinian workers who had survived the death machine that day. On the 1st of May we remember:

Abdil Rahim Baraka - 23 years old from Khan Younis.
Ziyad Swed, 22 years old from Rafah.
Zayid Alamour, 23 years old from Khan Younis.
Suleiman abu Anza, 22 years old from Khan Younis.
Omar Dahles, 27 years old from Khan Younis.
Zakariya Qdeh, 35 years old from Khan Younis.
Younis Abu Daqa from Khan Younis.

On the 1st of May we remember the 3 Palestinian labourers who were burned to death in a shed in Or Yehuda near Tel Aviv on 9.8.1988. As the 3 men cried out for help, spectators stood watching while the fire ate the men alive. When interviewed by the press on the incident, the residents of Or Yehuda showed unanimous support of the hideous murder. One Israeli witness to the burning said: “It was all organized beautifully.” Adding, “look, I could put 10 in a line and shoot them. That’s okay. But burning, I can’t do. When it happened I sat on the veranda and if I didn't have family reason not to I would dance. I wouldn't help them. Let them be burned, the Arabs.” His 17 year old brother added: “I will go to the border guards to kill Arabs by beating them with clubs”. Another resident serving in the IOF said: “They did well to burn them. Why should they be ashamed” … “It's a Mitzvah, what they did …”. Only one person, an IOF soldier, tried to help and that only because the 3 men were screaming out for help in Hebrew and he thought them Jews. One of the 3 men ran out of the shed while burning, but the residents of Or Yehuda stood watching as he was burned alive. Another Israeli told a reporter that they should do to the Arabs what Hitler did to the Jews, and that he didn't care if they put Arabs in concentration camps. One 16 year old said, “what does it matter if an Arab burns? What does an Arab matter at all? It’s not a human being. I wouldn't care if more than 2000 burned.” His friend added: “I would burn 5,000 more.” This is the same Or Yehuda whose residents publicly burned hundreds of copies of the New Testament on 15.5.2008. On the 1st of May we remember:

Abdallah Khalil, 30 years old from Khan Younis.
Said Ismael from Rafah.
Naseem Ayid from Magazi Refugee Camp.

On the 1st of May we remember many more massacres committed by the Zionist state and its IOF against innocent civilians working for their daily living. We remember the Eretz Checkpoint massacre, when on 17.7.1994 Israeli soldiers killed 11 Palestinian labourers and injured 200 who were waiting at the checkpoint to go to their work. We remember the Tarqumia massacre, when on 10.3.1998 IOF soldiers stopped a van full with unarmed Palestinian labourers on their way home after a long day. The soldiers opened fire without warning, killing 3 men. Others survived death because the bodies of their murdered comrades fell over them and protected them from the bullets. We remember those who were shot dead at checkpoints on their way to work or on their way back home. We remember those forced to sleep in sheds like animals. We remember those forced to wear badges like the yellow Star of David the Nazis forced the Jews to wear. We remember those beaten almost to death by Israelis for being Arabs and for wanting to clean the cities of them.

On the 1st of May we remember Palestinian teachers who despite restrictions and arrests continue to teach Palestinians, generation after generation, about Palestine, about freedom and about our non-negotiable rights. We remember the teachers who went on strike after Israel occupied East Jerusalem and forced its Zionist Curriculum in Arab schools. We remember those who refused to teach this curriculum despite Israeli threats or the promised rewards in case they concede to teaching the curriculum. We remember those who were punished and sent to teach in isolated schools far away from their homes, that they had to wake up at 4 every morning to be able to reach their schools and continue teach Palestinian children. We remember school and university teachers who after Israel closed all educational institutions during the first Intifada, organized secret learning groups, risked their lives to meet with their pupils and give them lessons and worked day and night preparing work material for their students so the educational process could go on. We remember our teachers, who stood with such dignity despite being humiliated and beaten by teenage IOF soldiers who had no respect for anything. We remember those teachers who try to protect us from the shelling of our schools, from the armed soldiers at checkpoints, from the fanatic settlers waiting at every corner to attack us. We remember those teachers who risked their freedom to teach us about Palestinian history, folklore and culture. We remember all those teachers who spend years in Israeli prisons, those who were tortured and those who were killed by the IOF or illegal Jewish settlers. We remember Hani Na’eem, a 38 year old school teacher who was killed by an Israeli missile attack on a school in Beit Hanoun on 7.2.2008. Three 16 year old pupils were wounded in the attack. We remember Wafa’ Al Daghma, a 34 year old teacher killed in her home and in front of her three children during an Israeli raid on 11.5.2008. Wafa’s head was blown away as the IOF blasted open the front door of her house with explosives. They then locked the children aged 2 to 13 in a room for five hours, and continued their military incursion while the body of Wafa lay on the ground.

On the 1st of May we remember doctors, nurses and all medical personnel who were killed while performing their duty. We remember the medical personnel who were beaten, tortured or killed by illegal settlers. We remember those brave men who continue their work despite Israeli attacks, shelling, curfews and incursions. We remember those doctors who were killed while performing first aid to wounded Palestinians and those who were blown to pieces together with their ambulances by Israeli bombs. Ample evidence shows that such attacks are no isolated incidents or mistakes, but represent an adopted policy of deliberate targeting to kill even those whose duty is to save lives. We remember the 23 Palestinians killed and the 850 injured in the Al Aqsa mosque massacre on 8.10.1990. According to media reports, nurse Fatima Abu Khadir who witnessed the massacre said: “we went into the mosque precincts in an ambulance. I saw a large number of injured who had fallen on the ground. Then I saw lots of soldiers, hundreds of soldiers. They were about 30 meters from the ambulance and kneeling on one knee the way snipers do, and their weapons were aimed inside the ambulance.” Physician Muhammad Abu ‘Alya said: “I got out of the ambulance carrying a first-aid kit. I was wearing a white uniform. The soldiers saw me and knew I was a doctor. But when I got to the wounded person nearest me and bent down to treat him, I got three bullets in my back in the region of the kidney. At that very moment, the wounded man near me died. But he could have been saved if I hadn’t been hit.” We remember the 16 medical personnel killed while on duty by the IOF during the latest war on Gaza:

Rami Al Salut, 27 years old, medical lab. specialist, Sheikh Radwan.
Azmi Abu Dalal, 26 years old, medic, Nuseirat.
Ahmed Abdallah, 26 years old, nurse, Rafah.
Ihab Al-Shaer, 32 years old, physician, Rafah.
Zeyad Abu Teir, 32 years old, nurse, Khan Younis.
Mohammad Abu Hassira, 21 years old, medic, al daraj.
Ihab Al-Madhoun, 35 years old, physician, al daraj.
Yaser Shbeir, 25 years old, medic, Shati Refugee Camp.
Anas Na’im, 23 years old, medic, Al Zaytoon.
Ra’fat Ibrahim, 20 years old, medic, Al Sabra.
Arafah Abdul Dayem, 35 years old, medic, Beit Hanoun.
Salem Al-Bensh, 57 years old, nurse, Rafah.
Albina Al-Jaru, 25 years old, physician, Gaza.
Issa Saleh, 32 years old, physician, Jabalia.
Abdullah Al-Imawi, 22 years old, nurse, Gaza.
Zayed Jneid, 30 years old, medic, Gaza.

On the 1st of May we remember journalists, camerapersons and other media personnel who died while reporting on Israeli crimes and exposing Israeli terror to the world. We remember those wounded and those imprisoned for fighting Israel with their pens. We remember Nazeh Darwazeh and Fadel Shanna, two cameramen whose last minutes were caught on camera. We remember Imad Abu Zahra, Ihab Al-Wahidi, Hamza Shaheen, Omar Silawi, Muhammad Al-Bishawi, Raffaele Ciriello, James Miller, Mohamad Abu Halima, Basil Faraj, and many other journalists killed and injured by the IOF. We remember Issam Tillawi, whose story is similar to that of thousands of Palestinian families: a story of losing a home, wandering and suffering in the Diaspora, waiting for the day to come back home. In 1948 Issam’s family was forced out of their hometown of Tell and found temporary refuge in Iraq, after which the family moved to Kuwait. During the 2nd Gulf War, the Tillawi family was deported from Iraq and moved yet again to Jordan. Issam decided to go back to his home country; to Palestine. He worked at the voice of Palestine as a journalist and hosted 2 weekly programs: “International Affairs” and “Nahar Jadid”. While covering a demonstration in protest of the Israeli military occupation in the Manara Square in Ramallah on the night of 22.9.2002, Issam was shot in the back of the head by an IOF sniper. He was wearing a jacket stating clearly that he’s a journalist and had his recording equipment with him, so any sniper would have seen clearly what he was shooting at. Issam lay 10 minutes bleeding on the street before the ambulance was allowed to reach him, but the medics couldn't save his life. As usual, the IOF claimed it was not responsible for his death, adding that he was among a group of demonstrators. Issam was 32 when he was murdered, and today he finds his final resting place in Tell, that small village from which his parents were uprooted in 1948. He is back in Palestine for good.

On the 1st of May we remember Palestinian farmers working their lands, protecting them and standing steadfast on these lands in the face of the Israeli war being waged against them to kick them out. We remember those attacked by the illegal Jewish settlers during harvest time. Palestinian farmers have been working their fields under threatening conditions. They have been shot at, attacked and harassed by the IOF and by illegal settlers. Many have been killed and hundreds wounded. Fields have been burned, harvest stolen and Olive trees uprooted and replanted in illegal Jewish settlements as decoration. Greenhouses and water wells have been destroyed, complete olive and fruit fields have been bulldozed and cattle have been butchered or stolen. Farmers living close to the Apartheid Wall are often blocked from reaching their lands, and need permits from the IOF to enter the field of their ancestors. Their land is being confiscated, their hard work stolen. Not satisfied with stealing the land and the harvest, settlers often set fire to whole fields, diminishing the hard work of years into ashes. The water Palestinian farmers need for their fields is being stolen by Israel and used to fill swimming pools in illegal Jewish settlements. One Palestinian farmer was reported saying: “it seems that we are going to pay with blood for each olive oil drop. The Palestinian olive oil this year is going to be mixed with the blood of its owner.” For another farmer “being with the tree is like being in heaven. I am not crazy but I open my heart to the trees. I think of the trees as I do of my family. I speak to them when I have troubles.” We remember Yahia Atta Bani Monia. The 18 year old shepherd from the Nablus area was executed in cold blood by a group of Jewish settlers from the illegal settlement of Etamar on 27.9.2008. After they were done with him, Yahia was left with some 20 bullets riddling his body. One bullet was not enough for these killers. We remember the group of shepherds attacked by masked settlers from the illegal settlement of Susia near Hebron. The shepherds, including an elderly couple of 58 and 60 were attending their sheep on their lands, when ordered by the settlers to leave the land. Upon refusal, they were attacked. We remember Yasser Tmeizi from Ithna near Hebron who was arrested by the IOF while working in his land with his son. The soldiers beat him with batons until he lost consciousness, and later died. The IOF claimed Yasser tried to snatch the weapon of one of the soldiers at a checkpoint, although many witnesses saw him being arrested and beaten on his land away from any checkpoint.

On the 1st of May we remember every Palestinian whose story rarely made the news and whose name we don't know. We remember the teacher who died of a heart attack after being beaten by the IOF. We remember the doctor who was tortured and hanged on a tree by fanatic Jewish settlers. We remember labourers, students, taxi drivers facing death squads at Israeli checkpoints. We remember farmers who risk their lives to reach their fields and work them for the next generations. We remember the fishermen of Gaza, practicing their right of fishing in their national waters and defying Israeli warships. We remember all those who fight every single day to provide some normality to their families under a most brutal situation. We remember those who despite Israeli terror, continue to live and protect their land and homes and families. We remember those who wake up every morning, think of the loved one that was killed yesterday, or the house that was demolished, or the field that was uprooted, and then go and hug their children and tell them about Palestine, build a new house on the ruins of the demolished one, plant more olive trees. And because we are Palestinians, because we cherish and love life and freedom and because the land is ours, we will continue hoping, and waking up every morning despite the daily terror, work to defend our land and protect it to hand it over to the next generations of Palestinians. We will continue to fight for our legitimate rights, for independence, for freedom. And one day we will tear down the Apartheid Wall and all the illegal settlements, break the siege, rebuild the destroyed towns and villages, free the prisoners, replant the fields desertified by Israel, because they will never kill our soul nor our will and we will keep waking up every morning for a new day in Palestine.

According to the PCHR: from the beginning of the 2nd Intifada on 29.9.2000 till 20.12.2008 3,741 Palestinian civilians have been killed by the IOF and 1,130 have been killed in armed clashes with the IOF. 26,063 have been injured.

During the 2nd Intifada at least 37 Palestinian teachers were killed by Israel, 55 were wounded and 190 detained. No less than 12 Palestinian journalists and camerapersons were killed.

During the latest Israeli war on Gaza 1417 Palestinians have been killed by the IOF, 926 of them were civilians. 5303 were injured.

16 Palestinian medical personnel were killed, 25 wounded.

12 teachers were killed, 5 wounded.

No less than 21 farmers killed, 2 fishermen and 92 labourers were killed.
Sources: (on the Tarqumia massacre of Palestinian labourers and the massacre at Rishon Lezion)

Mary Rizzo is an art restorer, translator and writer living in Italy. Editor and co-founder of Palestine Think Tank, co-founder of Tlaxcala translations collective. Her personal blog is Peacepalestine.
Email this author All posts by Mary Rizzo

U.S. Drops Spy Charges against Two Ex-AIPAC Officials

U.S. Drops Spy Charges against Two Ex-AIPAC Officials
Readers Number : 31

02/05/2009 Federal prosecutors moved Friday to dismiss espionage-related charges against two former pro-Israel lobbyists accused of disclosing classified U.S. defense information, ending a tortuous inside-the-Beltway legal battle rife with national security intrigue.

Critics of the prosecution of Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee accused the federal government of trying to criminalize the sort of back-channel discussions between government officials, lobbyists and reporters that are commonplace in the nation's capital. AIPAC is an influential pro-Israel lobbying group.

Acting U.S. Attorney Dana Boente said the government moved to dismiss the charges in the drawn-out case after concluding that pretrial rulings would make it too difficult for the government to prove its case. Boente also said he was worried that classified information would be disclosed at trial.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III had made several legal rulings that prosecutors worried would make it almost impossible to obtain a guilty verdict. Among them was a requirement that the government would have to prove that Rosen and Weissman knew they were harming the United States by trading in sensitive national defense information.

The defense had also been prepared to put on a strong case that the information obtained by Rosen and Weissman, while technically classified, was not truly secret and that its disclosure was irrelevant to the nation's security.

The federal government's former arbiter of classification, J. William Leonard, was prepared to testify for the defense that the government overuses classification and applies the label to information that by any practical measure does not need to be secret. The government had sought to bar Leonard's testimony. The trial had been scheduled to start June 2 in a case first brought in 2005.

Rosen and Weissman had not been charged with actual espionage, although the charges did fall under provisions of the 1917 Espionage Act, a rarely used World War I-era law that had never before been applied to lobbyists.

Weissman's lawyer, Baruch Weiss, called the dismissal a "huge victory for the First Amendment." Had Rosen and Weissman been convicted, he said it would have set a precedent for prosecuting reporters any time they obtained information from government officials that was later deemed too sensitive to be disclosed.

A former Defense Department official, Lawrence A. Franklin, previously pleaded guilty to providing Rosen and Weissman classified defense information and was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison.

Had the case gone to trial, Rosen and Weissman had won the right to subpoena former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other top Bush administration officials. The defense believed their testimony would support the claim that the United States regularly uses AIPAC to send back-channel communications to Israel. Prosecutors had sought unsuccessfully to quash the subpoenas.

The indictment had alleged that Rosen and Weissman conspired to obtain and then disclosed classified information on U.S. policy toward Iran, as well as information on the al-Qaida network and the bombing of the Khobar Towers dormitory in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 U.S. Air Force personnel.

It will be up to Ellis to formally dismiss the charges, but it would be highly unlikely that he would refuse the government's request for dismissal.

Sayyed Nasrallah: Martyr Hariri's Case and STL Must be Reviewed

Sayyed Nasrallah: Martyr Hariri's Case and STL Must be Reviewed
Mohamad Shmaysani Readers Number : 963

01/05/2009 Hezbollah Secretary General stressed in a televised speech on Al-Manar TV that “we should make a new review of the assassination case of former Prime Minister martyr Rafik Hariri and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.”

His eminence began his speech by congratulating all workers in Lebanon and the world on Labor Day. “I ask Almighty Allah that this occasion would see one day the beginning of equity that would solve their problems and make their just demands heard.”

Sayyed Nasrallah then moved to politics and said that what had been presented at the dialogue table in Lebanon over Israeli maneuvers needs more time to tackle than we have today. “I will discuss this matter in detail sometime later, however I will address the issues of the crisis with Egypt and the matter of the four generals.”

“A wide campaign was waged since the crisis between Hezbollah and Egypt emerged and it is still ongoing. The Egyptian regime helped in this campaign alongside others in the Arab world. At that time I commented on the matter and we did not go into a political and a media confrontation, therefore what we witness today is a unilateral media war. Their allegations are mere allegations, because if they had facts to rely on, they would not have needed insults, particularly when they said that this was a juridical matter. If this was the case, why did they need all this effort? I have read a number of opinion polls, and I know that they have not succeeded in attaining their aims. What did the Egyptian regime achieve from its campaign on Hezbollah? Nothing. Did it achieve any of its presumed objectives? Did the Egyptian regime convince the Egyptian people and Arab peoples in the image of the resistance it sought to present? They were not convincing neither to the Egyptian people nor to Arabs.”

“During the war on Gaza, our stance was very normal. I heard the Egyptian President speaking and warning of Egypt’s anger. We had hoped to see Egypt’s anger when thousands of Palestinians in Gaza were getting killed when the Strip was on its own. We did not form an organization in Egypt and we did not target Egypt. We do not interfere in Egyptian affairs. We only work to support our Palestinian brothers.
True that many leaders have called for a calm settlement of the issue and we are following this up through legal channels. Of course there exists sides that we have confidence in to handle the issue. I thank all those who bravely defended us, particularly those inside Egypt who were harmed because of their support to the resistance. I tell Egyptian officials that going on with your campaign will be to no avail. You have made us a very big favor that will reveal itself soon, and we thank you for that.”

“(UN Secretary General) Ban Ki-Moon even sent his envoy Terej Roed Larsen to Egypt to discuss the matter. I find it very weird how Ban did not use the same words that he used against Hezbollah, when Israeli was bombing Gaza with internationally banned weapons and committing genocide against Palestinians. Larsen had raised the issue of the telecommunication network in Lebanon only to destabilize the situation and push the United Nations into a confrontation with Hezbollah and the resistance in the region. The US State Department relabeled Hezbollah as a terror organization. There is a global campaign aiming at labeling Hezbollah as a mafia and a group of gangster and this is not true. These campaigns have been waged against us because we reject the zionist project, we refuse to acknowledge Israel and we do no accept US hegemony; this is our crime. I tell those behind the Egyptian and global campaigns that you are waiting your money because this will not damage our will and the July 2006 war is a good example for you.”

“I would like to congratulate the four Generals and their families on their release and return to freedom. We are talking about the most dangerous period in Lebanon’s modern history. We have to make a new review of the assassination case of martyr Rafiq Hariri and the Tribunal so as to serve this cause. After the assassination of martyr Hariri in 2005, the Lebanese reached consensus on condemning the crime, knowing the truth and launching a serious unremitting investigation to uncover the truth and punish the culprits. If we had managed to preserve this consensus, we would have done this cause a great favor. However, the Lebanese differed on the political accusation. A political party in Lebanon had rushed since the first moments after the assassination to accuse Syria and its allies and the then Lebanese authority. They Judged, convicted and punished and then asked the kind Lebanese people to vote for them in elections to punish Hariri’s killers. They founded all of their political project and relations on this accusation that could have led to civil war in Lebanon, even a regional war. This was prevented when Syrian President Bachar Assad decided to pull out Syrian forces from Lebanon. Hence, we have to consider all assumptions that point to sides that might be behind the assassination, because political accusations might lead the country to undesired consequences.”

“We had urged waiting for the outcome of the investigation and if Syria were to be found involved in the assassination we would have stood by the other political bloc. We called for a Lebanese investigation, but those who defend the judiciary today, deemed the judicial system incapable and politicized. We called for a joint Lebanese-Saudi investigation, but Saudi Arabia refused. We called for an Arab investigation, but the Arabs refused. Then they called for an international investigation. At first we had some reservations, but we later agreed out of respect to the other political bloc and the family of martyr Hariri. We waited to see what the basis on which the investigation committee would build its case on would be, it turned out to be the testimonies of Mohamad Zuheir Siddiq. He turned out to be a liar and a false witness. The first investigation commission under Detlev Mehlis ordered the detention of the four generals, and although we found this strange, we accepted it and waited for the investigation's results. If the probing committee had done its job away from politicization and away from the countries that backed the March 14 bloc, it would have certainly ordered the release of the four officers the minute it learned that the witness was a liar, not after four years.”

“Mehlis and whoever came after him should have released the four officers. They should not have kept them in custody without investigation or charges especially when the false witnesses were exposed. However, the generals were not released because, for political calculations, it was too early and their release would have lead to major consequences. They were politically detained and there was someone covering this detention. When the officers were in detention, March 14 leaders used to say that the investigation committee had decided to detain the Generals. This needs to be scrutinized. Today, the decision by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to release the officers is a definite proof that the investigation committee had been politicized, unjust and did not conform with international standards. This is proof that the judicial course was wrong and the detention was political.”

“There are three (Daniel) Bellemars: The first is the head of the investigation committee who is an accomplice in the unjust treatment of the officers; the second Bellemar is the one who did not mind releasing the officers; the third Bellemar is the one who we still do not know who will he be, the first or the second Bellemar.
How will the international investigators act in the next stage and what paths will they choose? Will they make the same mistakes? Will they press charges against anyone new based on false testimonies, or will they scrutinize testimonies in a scientific way? Those who misled the investigation for four years can mislead it for a hundred years. Our information confirms that the door is still open for false witnesses, therefore we have the right to pose these questions. Judge Fransine’s decision has ended a dark period. We will not pre-judge the next stage, yet international officers must and can establish integrity or otherwise.”

“My sincere advice to the family of martyr Hariri and to all the Lebanese people is to make a review to the case and cooperate to uncover the truth. We must not lose time as we did before and adhere to the national consensus that developed after the assassination. We should start by holding the false witnesses and whoever is behind them accountable. If the STL reckons it is not concerned in this matter, we – as Lebanese – must demand that the Lebanese justice system punish them so as not to open another door for new false witnesses. Let us insist on a professional investigation to reach the truth. The Lebanese judiciary must not settle for the international court.
Let us put political accusations aside - this accusation that nearly set the country and the region on fire - and to consider all possibilities, including the possibility of Israel being behind the assassination. Israel is capable of committing this crime. It has the motive, and it could have killed martyr Hariri, because it wanted a civil war in Lebanon in which Hezbollah and the Resistance would be a party in, so as to avenge its defeat in 2000 and its humiliating withdrawal from the South. Israel even wanted a regional war to pave the way for US armies to enter Lebanon and Syria and killing Hariri was their gateway. Several Israeli intelligence networks were dismantled in the last few weeks. But it the Information Branch had operated this way four years ago, maybe we would have reached something in the case of martyr Hariri. For instance, Mahmoud Rafea, who admitted being a Mossad agent, also admitted receiving sacs of explosives. He hid them in certain locations in Mount Lebanon. Why wasn’t it allowed to ask – during the past four years – about these explosives and where have they disappeared? Can’t Israel deliver two tons of explosives to Lebanon to assassinate Rafiq Hariri?”
“I respect the conflicting sentiments which the Lebanese experienced last Wednesday (when the officers were released). It was a must to celebrate the release and to congratulate their families because they were severely harmed. It is not true that their release will have an effect on elections because political affiliations are determined. Those with the opposition will vote for the opposition and those with March 14 will vote for March 14 and the swing voters who could be affected by certain events are few. Let us straighten the path of the investigation and not waste another four years, because maybe then, we will reach the truth that will bring Lebanon some good.”