Tag Archive | Palestine

U.N. Declares Hebron as a Palestinian World Heritage Site, of Course Israel is Upset*

U.N. Declares Hebron as a Palestinian World Heritage Site, of Course Israel is Upset*

By Ian Deitch, Monika Scislowsk

Israeli police stand guard on a site known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs, and to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque, in Hebron

Israeli police stand guard on a site known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs, and to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque, in Hebron

The U.N. cultural agency on Friday declared the old city in the West Bank town of Hebron as a Palestinian world heritage site, a decision that outraged Israeli officials who say the move negated the deep Jewish ties to the biblical town and its ancient shrine.

The move was the latest chapter in Israel’s contentious relationship with UNESCO, an agency it accuses of being an anti-Israeli tool that makes decisions out of political considerations.

While the Palestinians welcomed the action, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it “another delusional decision by UNESCO.”

Both Jews and Muslims revere the same site in Hebron as the traditional burial place of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs — Jews call it the Tomb of the Patriarchs, while for Muslims it is the Ibrahimi Mosque.

The 12-3 vote, with six abstentions, came on a secret ballot at an annual UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting in Krakow, Poland. The proposal came from the Palestinian side. Israel contended that its historic links to Hebron were ignored and its ambassador to UNESCO left the session.

UNESCO spokeswoman Lucia Iglesias confirmed that Hebron’s old city was put on the agency’s World Heritage list and on the list of sites in danger. She would not elaborate, saying the exact wording would be decided later.

The decision obliges the World Heritage committee to review its status annually.

“This is a historical development because it stressed that Hebron and the Ibrahimi Mosque historically belong to the Palestinian people,” said Palestinian Minister of Tourism Rula Maayah.

But Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said UNESCO’s “automatic Arab majority succeeded in passing the proposed resolution that attempts to appropriate the national symbols of the Jewish people.”

She added: “This is a badge of shame for UNESCO, who time after time chooses to stand on the side of lies.”

Netanyahu expressed outrage that UNESCO determined the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron “is a Palestinian site, meaning not Jewish, and that the site is in danger.”

“Not a Jewish site?!” he asked sarcastically.

“Who is buried there? Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah — our patriarchs and matriarchs!”

Netanyahu pointed to extremists blowing up religious sites in the Middle East and said,

 “It is only in those places where Israel is, such as Hebron, that freedom of religion for all is ensured.”

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the vote “does no one any good and causes much harm.”

“It represents an affront to history. It undermines the trust that is needed for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to be successful. And it further discredits an already highly questionable U.N. agency,” she said in a statement.

She had sent a letter to two senior U.N. officials before the vote, urging them to withhold the designation from UNESCO, according to the U.S. Mission to the U.N.

Hebron is part of the West Bank, a territory captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. The international community considers it to be occupied.

Palestinians claim the West Bank is an integral part of a future independent state, a position that is widely backed internationally.

Israel says the territory’s fate, along with other core issues like security, should be resolved in negotiations.

In the meantime, Israel has built dozens of settlements in the West Bank housing about 400,000 Israelis. The Palestinians — and most of the world — consider these to be illegal obstacles to peace. Israel says the future of the settlements also must be decided through talks.

Hebron is especially contentious. Several hundred ultranationalist settlers live in heavily guarded enclaves in the city, amid about 170,000 Palestinians. There is frequent friction between the two populations.

Many viewed Friday’s UNESCO decision as the latest example of an ingrained anti-Israel bias at the U.N. and its institutions, where Israel and its allies are outnumbered by Arab countries and their supporters.

Although their rocky relationship goes back decades, recent resolutions by UNESCO also drew outrage in Israel for diminishing the deep Jewish ties to Jerusalem.

In September, Israel suspended cooperation with UNESCO after it adopted a resolution that Israel says denies the deep historic Jewish connection to holy sites in Jerusalem.

The UNESCO resolution, titled “Occupied Palestine” and sponsored by several Arab countries, used only the Islamic name for a sacred hilltop compound in Jerusalem. The compound is the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest in Islam, after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads Israel’s national UNESCO committee, said after Friday’s vote that

“Israel will not resume its cooperation with UNESCO so long as it remains a political tool, rather than professional organization.”

In a statement, Netanyahu said he would cut another $1 million from the membership money Israel sends to the U.N. and use it to establish a “Museum of the Heritage of the Jewish People in Hebron and Kiryat Arba and Hebron” and for other heritage projects related to Hebron.

Yitzhak Reiter of the independent Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research said UNESCO’s decision would allow the Palestinians to “score points” in negotiations over the future of West Bank territory, since they could claim that UNESCO has sided with them.

It also could bolster their efforts to fight what they believe are Israeli attempts to take over disputed religious sites in the Holy Land.

Israel strongly rejects Palestinian claims it is trying to change the status quo in either Hebron or in Jerusalem’s Old City.

“They want to make sure that there will be an international forum to monitor the situation in Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs that will prevent Israel from future transgressions or overstepping its current presence in the city,” Reiter said.

Hebron has a long history of violence.

In 1929, Arabs killed 67 Jews in a rampage still seared into Israeli minds. In 1994, an Israeli settler shot and killed 29 Palestinian worshippers at the holy site before he was beaten to death.

Many of the Palestinians involved in the current wave of attacks that began in 2005 came from Hebron. The attacks on Israeli civilians and security forces since then have killed 43 Israelis, two visiting Americans and a British student, mainly in stabbings, shootings and vehicle assaults. In that period, 251 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire. Israel identified most of them as attackers.

Israel blames the violence on incitement by Palestinian religious and political leaders, compounded by social media. Palestinians say it stems from anger over decades of Israeli rule in lands they claim for their state.

Source*

Related Topics:

Lord Rothschild Discusses How His Family Created Israel!*

When Palestine was 85% Arab, 15% Israeli and U.K. and U.S. Paid the Jews from the Caucasus to Live There*

Palestine to Sue U.K. for the Creation of ‘Israel’*

A Sacred Place

Palestine Before Israel*

The Protocols of Zion

The ‘Jewish National Fund’ and Its Role in Israel Thus Palestine*

Electricity Shortages in Gaza Lead to Beach Pollution Just Over the Border in Israel*

Electricity Shortages in Gaza Lead to Beach Pollution Just Over the Border in Israel*

Palestinians enjoy their time at the beach of the Mediterranean sea on the coast of Gaza City, during an electricity crisis that has shut down the territory’s sewage treatment plant, on June 30, 2017. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)

 

By Almog Ben Zikri

The Israeli Health Ministry believes that the shutdown of a Gaza sewage plant due to power shortages led to pollution at Zikim beach and Ashkelon National Park, which have been closed to swimmers

Beaches in southern Israel were closed to swimmers on Wednesday due to pollution, after power shortages in nearby Gaza led a sewage treatment plant there to shut down.

The electricity shortages in the Gaza Strip appear to have caused untreated sewage to flow just over the border into Israel’s Mediterranean waters. The Health Ministry banned swimming on the beaches at Zikim and Ashkelon National Park after sewage was detected in the water.

Officials suspect that the pollution is sewage that was left untreated after the plant was shuttered due to severe electricity shortages in Gaza, and that it drifted north onto Israeli beaches.

There is no forecast as to when the beaches will reopen.

Gaza’s sewage treatment plant has not been in operation for some time due to the electricity crisis in the Hamas-ruled enclave, which was exacerbated further last month when the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority cut its payments for electricity supplied to the Strip by Israel.

The PA asked Israel to reduce its power to the enclave as part of a years-long effort by the PA, led by the rival Fatah party, to force Hamas into relinquishing political power in Gaza and joining a unified government.

Fatah was ousted from power in Gaza by Hamas in 2007.

Since the sewage plant halted its operations, an estimated 110,000 cubic meters a day of sewage have been flowing into the Mediterranean off the Gaza coast. On Wednesday, the Israeli Health Ministry detected excessive bacterial and fecal levels just to the north of Gaza.

EcoPeace Middle East, an organization that brings together Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian ecologists, reported that sewage levels have increased by a third since the reduction in power to the Gaza Strip.

After the Health Ministry’s swimming ban was announced, Ashkelon Mayor Tomer Glam wrote to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asking him to find an immediate solution to the electricity crisis in Gaza, or at least to find a solution to the problem of untreated sewage.

In a public statement, the mayor noted that this is the height of the swimming season, and “the last thing we want to happen is to close beaches.”

Source*

Related Topics:

72 Percent of Aid to Palestine Ends Up ‘In Israeli Hands*

Pathological Israeli Security Forces Spray Raw Sewage on Palestinian Homes

‘Israeli Planes Spray Crop-Killing Chemicals On Gaza Farms’*

Evict 120 Bedouins from their own Land and Build a Trash Dump Instead*

World’s Leading Medical Journal Sends an Open Letter to Gaza*

First Account: Opening Two Dams on Gazans midst a Flood*

Israel Tries to Silence Danish MP*

Israel Tries to Silence Danish MP*

By Zenia Stampe

Zenia Stampe PS: The photo shows me on the outskirts of the Palestinian village of Susiya. Susiya has been demolished by the Israeli military six times and is subject to a standing demolition order. On the horizon, the watchtower of the settlement that Israel says is threatened by the village. Which is why the village is to be demolished. But actually, who is threatening who?

 

By Zenia Stampe

I don’t often begin a Facebook post with an appeal, but this is an extraordinary situation. This post is long but I hope you will read it. And I hope you will share it.

I am a Danish politician and Member of the Danish Parliament. I have just returned from a week in Israel and Palestine. The trip concluded with a very unusual experience. We were meeting with a political director from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He also happens to be the next Ambassador to Denmark. We discussed the situation in the Middle East. But towards the end of the meeting he changed the subject and began attacking Facebook updates I have written in Danish.

It is very unusual for a diplomat to argue with a politician from abroad. It shows how sensitive the Israeli government is to foreign criticism. It also shows that Israelis tend to think they can intimidate critics into silence.

But I will not be silenced. I have seen systematic and deliberate breaches of international law during the last week. I intend to speak out. And now I know the Israeli government is listening.

And that’s why I ask you to read and share my post with your network. For the further it reaches, the more seriously the Israeli government will be forced to address it.

We often hear the Israeli government using “security considerations” to justify their politicies But one thing is now only too clear to me: Israel is making systematic efforts to drive the Palestinians out of large areas of the occupied territories. Israel is in the process of colonizing the areas that were intended to become the Palestinian state. And the word security is a thin layer of varnish applied by Israel to cover that policy.

Let me provide just four examples:

1.      Confiscation of Palestinian houses

Israeli law allows any Jewish Israelis to claim homes where Jews lived before 1948. Note that this is taking place in the occupied territories, not in Israel. This means that an Israeli Jew can knock on the door of a house where a Palestinian family has lived for generations. They can obtain a court order to force the family to move out; the settlers then move in. Most often they put a huge Israeli flag on the roof. And the Israeli military is now obliged to protect the house. So the neighbours suddenly see their street turned into a militarized area. The children play among heavily armed soldiers and checkpoints.

How can this policy benefit Israel’s security in any way?

2.      Settlements

There are currently 600,000 Israeli settlers living in the Palestinian territories, and the number is rising rapidly. According to international law the settlements are illegal. An occupying power must not transfer its own population to occupied territory. But the most critical aspect is not the growth in the number of settlers but the systematic confiscation of Palestinian land, the demolition of Palestinian property, the depletion of natural resources, and the compulsory relocation of Palestinians. These are all breaches of international law, and a de facto colonization of the Palestinians’ country.

This is not just a matter of principle. I have witnessed demolitions. I have spoken to farmers driven off land where they have lived and which they worked for generations. I have seen settlements covering larger and larger areas on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, with security walls, control towers and huge security zones. If this development continues Palestine will become like a Swiss cheese, where all that is left for the Palestinians is the holes in the cheese. The Palestinians are confined to ghettos in their own country.

How can this in any way be justified by security considerations?
3.      Living Conditions

Palestinians in large areas of the West Bank must submit applications in Israel to extend their homes, dig wells, etc. But their applications are systematically rejected. They find water supplies get cut off and electrical installations destroyed by the military. Meanwhile they see the settlements in the area constantly expanding and being given unrestricted access to electricity and water. I have stood on a road where the Palestinians on one side of the road only had a little water, while the settlers on the other side of the road had all the water they needed. It is not just a problem for individual families and businesses forced to cope with very limited resources. This is also a huge obstacle to the Palestinian economy because it impedes the creation of jobs. We visited a farm and a brewery, both of which were very well run and had considerable potential. But when you only have very limited access to water and do not know when it’s going to be cut off, it’s hard to expand production.

What has any of this to do with security?
4.      The security wall

Israel has the right to protect its borders from potential terrorists. This includes the right to build a wall. But Israel’s security wall is not on the Israeli border and it does not separate Israelis from Palestinians. The wall cuts through Palestine and prevents Palestinians from accessing their own farmlands, schools, institutions, hospitals, and jobs. Thousands of Palestinians cross the wall every day but doing so requires permits and hours of waiting in chaotic conditions.

The wall is therefore a clear breach of international law, and it cannot be justified by security considerations. If this were about security, the wall would surely be located along the green line: the internationally recognized border between Israel and Palestine. And why does Israel at least not provide a proper number of operational checkpoints so that Palestinians can cross the wall quickly? Chaotic scenes with thousands of desperate people queuing for hours and hours are normal. It’s sheer harassment.

How can this be of any value in terms of security considerations?

I know many Jews and many Israelis. I understand and respect how centuries of persecution have created a need for security, both in terms of protection from persecution in the many countries where Jews live and in the mere fact that Israel exists as a safe haven. I will stand up for this at all times.

But the Israeli government is pursuing goals that are not about security. They are about a land grab; about taking over the little the Palestinians have left. It is a slow and deliberate displacement of the Palestinians from their own country. This must not go unremarked. We have a duty to criticize it.

I look forward to welcoming the new Israeli ambassador to Denmark. He must know that many Danes follow what is going on in Israel and Palestine. Many of us are gravely concerned. And we are not going to remain silent.

Please share. Thanks!

Source*

Related Topics:

Anonymous To Facebook: “For Every Palestinian Account You Ban, We Will Hack an Israeli Website”*

Facebook Collaborating with Israeli Gov’t to Determine What Should Be Censored*

‘Enough is enough’: Norway’s Trade Unions Vote to Boycott Israel over Palestine*

The ‘Jewish National Fund’ and Its Role in Israel Thus Palestine*

When Palestine was 85% Arab, 15% Israeli and U.K. and U.S. Paid the Jews from the Caucasus to Live There*

Palestine to Sue U.K. for the Creation of ‘Israel’*

Israeli Geneticist: Ashkenazi Jews come from Turkey, not Palestine*

72 Percent of Aid to Palestine Ends Up ‘In Israeli Hands*

Abbas Rejected Biden’s New U.S. Peace Initiative, which Makes Palestine Jewish*

Israel Vents Fury with France after Vote to Recognise Palestine*

U.S. and Israel Intimidating U.N. to Fix Israel’s Global Standing*

Above the Law: Israel Denies U.N. Team Entry to Investigate Operation Protective Edge*

Evict 120 Bedouins from their own Land and Build a Trash Dump Instead*

Another Bedouin Community Razed to the Ground, Leave Children without Water in High Temperatures*

Deir Yassin, the Beginning of the Palestinian Holocaust. 1948*

3,000 Year Old Plan – The Real Nakba*

Lord Rothschild Discusses How His Family Created Israel!*

Dutch Citizen Files Suit against Israeli Commanders for Attack on Family Home during 2014 Gaza War*

Dutch Citizen Files Suit against Israeli Commanders for Attack on Family Home during 2014 Gaza War*

Ismail Zeyada, a Dutch citizen of Palestinian origin, has started a civil lawsuit holding two Israeli commanders responsible for the attack on his family home in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. Six of Ziada’s family members were killed in the July 2014 attack: his mother (70), three of his brothers, his sister-in-law and a 12-year old nephew. One of two guests were also killed. The family home was located in Al-Burayj, a Palestinian refugee camp in central Gaza.

The commanders are Benny Gantz, chief of staff during the operation, and Air Force commander Amir Eshel. Last Monday a writ of summons was sent to the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Both men have six weeks to accept liability and settle the case with Zeyada. Assuming this will not happen, the case will be brought before a Dutch civil court that will have to judge if it has jurisdiction in this matter.

Zeyada’s attorney, well-known human rights lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld, points out that there are solid arguments to be made why a Dutch civil judge should accept the case. Most important is the fact that Zeyada, as with most Palestinians, has no access to the Israeli legal system where the case belongs in the first place. Secondly, Israel already dealt with the Zeyada case – under military law – judging that the five-story family house was in fact an “active command and control centre” for Hamas. Zegveld is straight forward about that argument: ‘The issue is that you can’t bomb a house inhabited by civilians. Deliberately killing six of them, without necessity, is considered a war crime.’

It should be noted that a total of 18,000 private houses were destroyed during Operation Protective Edge.

News about the Zeyada case broke last Tuesday in the Dutch television program Brandpunt. Part of the program, titled ‘In Search of Justice’, was shot on location in Gaza where Ismail Zeyada’s brother Hasan, a psychologist working with traumatized children, still lives. In the program witnesses of the attack explain that there was nothing military-related going on in the family home even though one of the killed brothers was an active member of Hamas; he was found under the rubble in his underwear. The killed guest, paying a visit to the Zeyada family, was also a member of Hamas. This is the scene described by Israel as an active Hamas command centre – and as a legitimate reason to blow the house apart, including its civilian residents.

Attorney Zegveld summarizes: ‘More than two thousand Palestinians were killed in fifty days. The standard narrative is that all these people were supposedly in the direct vicinity of terrorists, so in order [for Israel] to win the war they all had to die.’ Zegveld says it’s time that Israel is called to account for these practices, and sees the Zeyada case as a small but significant step toward that goal. She calls the case unique – the first time Israeli military commanders are being kept responsible for their acts in a civil court case.

It’s not the first time the Zeyada case made headlines. In August 2014, just weeks after the fatal attack on the Zeyada house, a 91-year old Dutchman called Henk Zanoli returned his Yad Vashem medal, awarded to him for hiding a Jewish boy during the Second World War. Zanoli, a relative of Ismail Zeyada’s wife, protested the hypocrisy of honoring him as ‘The Righteous Among The Nations’ for saving one Jewish life, while taking the lives of six of his Palestinian family members.

Source*

Related Topics:

Operation Protective Edge: The Dead Have Names*

Operation Protective Edge: UK Approved £7m Israeli Arms Sales, Why?

London’s Metropolitan Police and Operation Protective Edge*

Above the Law: Israel Denies U.N. Team Entry to Investigate Operation Protective Edge*

Calls to Prosecute Foreigners Who Volunteered for Operation Protective Edge*

Operation Protective Edge: Life without Water and Electricity*

U.S. and Israel Intimidating U.N. to Fix Israel’s Global Standing*

War Crimes Suit Filed in Switzerland against Former Israeli Minister*

The Protocols of Zion

The Protocols of Zion

Related Topics:

Protocol VII of the Learned Elders of Zion*

Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion

The New Imperial Roman Empire*

And One Ring to Bind Them All*

The Talmudic Roots of Jewish Supremacism*

Jews Slam Support for Israel*

Purim Fest Recalls of the Jewish Act of Genocide*

Sex Crimes and Israeli Leadership*

Israel, Organized Crime, White Slavery, and the Sex Trade*

Israel Weaponizes it’s Rape Culture against Palestinians*

Rape, Jews, and Bollywood*

Cultural Marxism and Satanism*

 

Israel: State-Sponsored Abduction of Yemenite Babies Call to recognize it as Crime against Humanity*

Israel: State-Sponsored Abduction of Yemenite Babies Call to recognize it as Crime against Humanity*

By Shiraz Grinbaum, Yotam Ronen

Over 2,000 Israeli Yemenite Jews and supporting activists gathered in Jerusalem last Wednesday to mark an annual day of awareness for what families say was a state-sponsored program to abduct Yemenite Jewish infants and other Israeli children born to parents who were recent immigrants from Arab countries.

Known as the Yemenite Children Affair, in the first decade after the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, there was a systematic kidnapping of newborn Yemenite children, carried out by Israeli hospitals and government institutions. Mothers, who often were in Israel for a short time and did not speak Hebrew, would enter hospitals or other state facilities to give birth. Once the child was born medical staff told the parents the child died unexpectedly. Yet none of the families were shown bodies or burial documents. Many of the families did not practice any mourning ceremonies because they believed their missing children were still alive.

The babies who went missing, parents claim, were given away to childless Ashkenazi families (Jews of European descent–the dominant ethnic group in Israel at the time), leaving the Yemenite families with no answers regarding their children’s fate. In most cases, the families were told the children died unexpectedly.

There have been a few national state committees tasked with investigating the matter over the decades, but they were previously accused of ignoring real evidence and helping government efforts to cover up the affair. Following recent pressure by the third generation of Jewish Yemenite activists, part of the national archives and state protocols were disclosed to the public.

Last year Benjamin Netanyahu had more than 3,500 government files on the investigation into the disappearance of the children published online.  A Knesset committee followed up by confirming earlier this month that Yemenite babies died during the 1950s after state medical institutions conducted experiments on them. Despite the disclosures, the families are still in the dark regarding their relatives, and the matter is still an open wound in the Israeli society.

Seeking more answers, the Israeli nonprofit Amram organized the protest in Jerusalem last week under the title “Recognition, Justice, Healing,” calling on the government to open all of the national archives, which could allow for family reunification. The demonstrators also want the affair recognized as a crime against humanity.

This was the largest protest on the topic in the history of Israel to date.

(Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum and Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org

 

(Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum and Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org

(Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum and Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org

(Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum and Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org

(Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum and Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org

(Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum and Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org

“The son of Yitzak and Tamar Ma’touf.”(Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum and Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org

 

(Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum and Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org

(Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum and Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org

(Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum and Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org

(Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum and Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org

(Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum and Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org

Source*

Related Topics:

How Israel Was Busted Nuking Yemen*

Israel Stole Babies from Yemen*

Israeli Officers Captured, Killed in Yemen*

Eyes Wide Shut as Yemen Descends into Total Collapse*

The Innate Racism of Israel: Ashkenazi Jews Exterminating Arab Jews*

When Palestine was 85% Arab, 15% Israeli and U.K. and U.S. Paid the Jews from the Caucasus to Live There*

Arab Christians Pushed into Mass Exodus*

To be an Arab Jew in the West is to Say you don’t Exist*

Israel admits to Birth Controlling Ethiopian Women*

How Israel Treats its Own: Jewish Mother flees Israel to give birth in Palestinian-run Bethlehem

 

Ramadhan at an Israeli Military Checkpoint*

Ramadhan at an Israeli Military Checkpoint*

Every year during Ramadhan, tens of thousands of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank take advantage of a temporary relaxation of Israeli movement restrictions in order to attend Friday prayers at al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, which they are normally prevented from entering.

Israel uses the Qalandiya military checkpoint to control Palestinian movement between the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Jerusalem.

Men over the age of 40, children under 12 and women of all ages are allowed to cross Qalandiya checkpoint and enter Jerusalem without military permits on Fridays during the month of Ramadan only.

Video by Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills

Source*

Related Topics:

Ramadhan in Gaza*

Ramadhan amongst the Rubble of Gaza*

Ramadhan a Beacon of Light in Jerusalem*

Egypt’s Ramadhan Street Banquet: Free Iftar Brings Hope*

Muslims Ramadhan Waking may have saved Grenfell Tower Residents’ Lives*

Inner Dimensions of Ramadhan Fasting*

How Enslaved Muslims in the Americas fasted in Ramadhan*

Israeli Soldiers Harass Students on U.S. Campus*

Israeli Soldiers Harass Students on U.S. Campus*

By Charlotte Silver

A video still shows a man wearing a Palestinian scarf and a T-shirt with Arabic. He was part of a group of Israeli soldiers harassing students at UC Irvine in May.

 

University of California, Irvine is once again investigating the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine group after a protest of an event featuring Israeli soldiers last month.

But members of Students for Justice in Palestine say they are the ones who endured days of harassment and intimidation by Israeli soldiers invited to campus to give a panel discussion about the Israeli army.

The SJP students say they were subjected to days of racial and sexual slurs in what they believe was an attempt to provoke a reaction.

UC Irvine has been a focal point for Israel advocacy groups seeking to categorize support for Palestinian rights as anti-Semitic.

Documents obtained by Palestine Legal through a freedom of information request show that over the last year Israel advocacy organizations have consistently pressured the UC Irvine administration to crack down on Palestine activism.

They were also instrumental in the school’s adoption of a policy that conflates opposition to Zionism, Israel’s state ideology, with anti-Semitism.

“On the offensive”

In early May, UC Irvine’s chapter of Students Supporting Israel invited members from the Israeli organization Reservists on Duty to campus, coinciding with an Anti-Zionism Week being organized by Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace.

With chapters on several campuses, Students Supporting Israel is backed by Israel lobby groups and has close ties to the Israeli government.

Reservists on Duty says it was founded in 2015 by “Israeli reserve combat soldiers” with the mission to counter the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement on college campuses in the US.

The group describes itself as taking “an extremely proactive approach towards confronting BDS and the movements that defame” Israel and its army.

Yuval Diskin, former head of Israel’s Shin Bet secret police, addresses the group Reservists on Duty in 2016. (via Facebook)

 

Reservists on Duty also says that it aims to counter Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem, two groups documenting army abuses that Israeli leaders have dubbed “traitors” and “enemies” of the state.

“We decided to change strategies, stop being on the defensive and to go on the offensive,” Reservists on Duty co-founder Amnon Goldstof told The Jerusalem Post last year.

Reservists on Duty evidently enjoys high-level support from Israel’s military establishment. Its 2016 conference was addressed by Yuval Diskin, former head of Israel’s Shin Bet secret police, as well as by a high-ranking military officer.

Racial and sexual slurs

Six people, including at least five soldiers, from Reservists on Duty first appeared on the UC Irvine campus on 8 May, the kick-off day of Anti-Zionism Week.

This video posted on Facebook by Jewish Voice for Peace shows some of the actions by members of Reservists on Duty that Palestinian rights activists have also described to legal advocates and to The Electronic Intifada:

Students had erected a mock wall – representing Israel’s barrier in the occupied West Bank – in the school’s Anteater Plaza and were handing out flyers with information about life under Israeli military rule. Student groups MEChA and the Black Student Union also volunteered to help.

On the first day, two of the soldiers carried Israeli flags and wore shirts identifying their support for the Israeli army, while the others disguised their intent: at least one person wore a traditional Palestinian checkered scarf, while others claimed to be from Palestinian cities and attempted to speak with the students in Arabic. Some feigned naivety about the issue, while secretly recording responses.

This tactic is reminiscent of Israeli soldiers who dress up as Palestinians – so-called mistaravim – in order to act as provocateurs at demonstrations or to carry out extrajudicial executions in the occupied West Bank.

The next day the group returned, this time they all wore clothes that more honestly identified who they were.

Over four days in total, the group of soldiers showed up to the mock wall. They hurled racial and gender insults while one woman aggressively filmed the activists’ faces and conversations.

They told Daniel Carnie, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine, that he is “not a real Jew” and told him to take off his Jewish skullcap.

A 30 May letter to UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman, signed by Palestine Legal attorney Liz Jackson on behalf of a coalition of civil rights groups, describes what happened at the mock wall.

According to the letter, when the students began a chant that compared Israel’s wall to the US wall at the Mexican border, one of the soldiers shouted, “We want the Mexicans!”

And when a Black student asked one of the hostile members of Reservists on Duty to leave, he called her an “18-year-old punk-ass bitch,” then followed her around shouting at her.

The letter alleges that a “male soldier taunted a female demonstrating at the wall in a sexually threatening tone, saying in Arabic, ‘You want me to stick it in you, don’t you.’”

“These soldiers do not just use propaganda, they use intimidation tactics like taking video footage,” Ghiyath Alazzah, a member of Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Irvine, wrote in an email to other SJP groups on the West Coast.

Alazzah also accused the soldiers of “using hidden microphones, attempting to incite to violence by using extremely racist and sexist obscenities in Arabic, English and Hebrew, and even going so far as to physically grab a student.”

“We are sending this email to you to warn you all that your campus may be targeted next,” Alazzah wrote.

Administrators watch passively

School administrators witnessed the confrontations, but did not intervene.

Dean of students Rameen Talesh was one of the administrators present during the week’s activities, according to Carnie and Alazzah.

Carnie told The Electronic Intifada that students asked Talesh to stop Reservists on Duty from harassing them, but Talesh said there was nothing he could do.

But advocates for the students say that the accumulation of racist speech and harassing behavior created an environment of intimidation that was grounds for the school to intervene.

“Here, there was overwhelming evidence that foreign military agents engaged in sustained harassment of Palestinian students, and other students of color perceived to be allies of Palestinian students,” Palestine Legal’s Jackson wrote to Chancellor Gillman.

Jackson alleges that the school violated its obligations under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as well as its own policies, by standing by passively: “Administrators cannot act with deliberate indifference to a hostile climate of severe or pervasive harassment targeting students based on their race or national origin.”

On the night of 10 May, Reservists on Duty held their panel discussion.

SJP members came to the event with the intent to ask challenging questions.

During the event, a woman who had been filming the students during the preceding days lunged at one of the students with her fists up, according to Carnie and Alazzah. She was restrained by an administrator and then the SJP students broke out into a chant before they were asked to leave.

Part of this altercation can be seen in the video above.

The next day, 11 May, Jackson’s letter states, the same woman who had nearly attacked a student, returned to Anteater Plaza and shoved a sign out of the hands of a student protester, hitting the student in the face with the sign.

According to Jackson, these two physical assaults were also grounds for intervention, yet administrators took no action.

Alazzah was informed on 16 May that his group was under investigation for allegedly disrupting the question-and-answer portion of the discussion with Reservists on Duty.

The university confirmed to the Electronic Intifada that members of its staff were present during some of the week’s incidents. A spokesperson wrote that administrators are “reviewing reports of that week from all interested parties and will take action, as appropriate.”

A year of pressure

The investigation is taking place after a year of heavy pressure from Israel advocacy groups, including the Amcha Initiative, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights, Hillel, StandWithUs and the Israeli consulate, to crack down on Palestine activism on campus.

On 30 May this year, Hillel of Orange County wrote to Chancellor Gillman.

Emphasizing that SJP and an earlier incarnation of the Palestine solidarity group have been investigated three times since 2010, the letter strongly suggests that the university’s disciplinary process had yet to be effective.

Last year, UC Irvine investigated SJP after students from several groups protested a film screening sponsored by pro-Israel organizations.

That investigation cleared SJP members of accusations they had harassed and intimidated participants, but found that it was “more likely than not” that the student protest outside the venue had generated enough noise to disrupt the viewing of a film about Israeli soldiers.

The students were given a warning and required to host an educational program. Israel advocacy groups expressed unhappiness that the penalty was not more severe.

Hillel also invoked a UC Irvine policy document titled “Higher Ground.”

Published in October 2016, after the university cleared SJP, “Higher Ground” attempts to integrate the UC Regents’ “principles against intolerance,” which were approved in March 2016.

The UC Regents is the governing body for the entire University of California system. The regents produced the “principles against intolerance” in response to heavy pressure from pro-Israel groups, which wanted the regents to adopt the controversial US State Department definition of anti-Semitism. That definition conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Jewish bigotry.

The UC Regents rejected that definition and removed a sentence equating anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism.

The “principles,” which are unenforceable themselves, did however specify a prohibition against “anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism” – a weaker formulation than Israel advocacy groups wanted.

But pro-Israel groups have since sought to use this formulation as a basis for going after Palestine activism.

UC Irvine’s “Higher Ground” document appears to be a direct capitulation to this agenda.

Silencing criticism

In an 18 July 2016 email to Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder of the anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim group Amcha Initiative, UC Irvine’s associate chancellor Michael Arias, wrote: “Following up on your suggestions, Chancellor Gillman plans to ask [UC Irvine’s] Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion to undertake a review of existing policies to confirm they are consistent” with the “principles against intolerance.”

Arias promised Rossman-Benjamin the university would “revise as necessary” any of its policies.

The following month, Gillman asked Douglas M. Haynes, a university vice provost, to conduct the assessment.

In October, Haynes produced “Higher Ground,” which critics say reproduces the misperception that anti-Zionist activities exclude Jewish students.

According to Palestine Legal’s Jackson, the document “conflates anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, discards the UC’s commitment to free speech and excludes the interests of Palestinians and other vulnerable communities.”

After “Higher Ground” was published, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights and StandWithUs, two Israel lobby groups that have spearheaded efforts to silence Palestine activism, wrote to Haynes to applaud the report.

They also sent Haynes a “white paper” supposedly meant to help UC Irvine understand and recognize “anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism.”

Their paper claims that anti-Semitism today is mostly expressed in “coded” ways, but points the administration back to the State Department’s definition as a guide. That controversial definition, which Israel lobby groups have urged institutions and governments around the world to adopt, claims that “demonizing” Israel, holding Israel to a “double standard” and “delegitimizing” Israel are forms of anti-Semitism.

It also alleges that “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination and denying Israel the right to exist” are anti-Semitic. This would potentially categorize advocacy for a one-state solution founded on equal rights in a democratic non-sectarian state that grants full citizenship to Israelis and Palestinians as a form of anti-Semitism.

Last month, Haynes spoke at a conference hosted by the Academic Engagement Network, a group founded to counter support for Palestinian rights on college campuses.

On 6 June, Haynes responded to Jackson’s letter to Gillman. Haynes asserted that the administration’s priorities align with the “principles against intolerance.” Haynes’ letter also makes allusions to balancing students’ First Amendment rights while maintaining “safety and security” and enforcing “civil discourse.”

According to Haynes, the university is still “reviewing the May 10th incident,” presumably a reference to the Reservists on Duty panel.

Hold them accountable

Palestine Legal’s Liz Jackson believes UC Irvine does indeed have a discrimination problem, but it is students advocating for Palestinian rights who have been the targets.

According to Jackson, the harassment students faced from the Israeli soldiers “is just the latest example of UC Irvine’s discrimination problem.”

Jackson accuses the administration of “ignoring harassment complaints by Palestinian and other students of color, and meanwhile singling out these same students for discriminatory treatment because of their viewpoint in favor of Palestinian rights.”

Some of those students have filed a complaint asking the university to investigate the pervasive harassment they say they face based on race and national origin.

“We must hold UC Irvine accountable for this discrimination,” said Jackson.

Source*

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