Friday, December 25, 2015
BETHLEHEM, West Bank -- Tourists, political leaders, activists and
residents of Bethlehem gathered in the city-center on Thursday, right in
front of the Nativity Church with an unusual message this year. While
December is usually a time for cheerful Christmas celebrations at the
Nativity, the people of Bethlehem have been unable to put aside the
political turmoil for the sake of the holiday.
just days away, the city of Bethlehem erected what they call a
"Resistance Tree." The tree, an olive tree which was recently uprooted
by Israeli forces from a nearby neighborhood, was placed in the center
of the main square, overlooking the towering Christmas tree and
historical Nativity church. Instead of baubles and tinsel, the
Resistance Tree was decorated with tear gas canisters clinking together
like bells, photos of Palestinians recently killed or detained,
Palestinian national scarves and sling shots.
At the "lighting
ceremony," the Mayor of Bethlehem, Vera Baboun spoke to the crowd, "This
tree is our message," Baboun said. "We plant our roots and we are
rooted to this land. Olive trees are the trees of life. We see our
people's eyes and the hopes of our women and the dreams of our men
reflected off this tree."
Around the tree, activists laid tear
gas canisters in the shape of a star, lighting candles from the metal
cylinders which were collected after protests in the city with Israeli
"Even with the Israelis speaking a language of death, we speak a language of life," the mayor proclaimed.
Video: Sheren Khalel and Abed al-Qaisi
Ahmad is 18 and lives in the Balata refugee camp, the biggest in the
occupied West Bank. His grandparents were forcibly removed from Jaffa
during the creation of Israel. There's only 32 miles between Balata and
Jaffa, but Ahmad can only dream of seeing his homeland. He's not allowed
Dozens of Palestinian dressed like Santa Claus demonstrated on Friday
for peace and an end to occupation in front of the wall separating
Israel and Palestinian territories in Bethlehem, as clashes erupted
between some young Palestinians and Israeli forces shortly after.
Every morning, hours before dawn, around 30,000 Palestinian laborers
make their way from the occupied West Bank, where they live, and enter
Israel. These workers, desperate to keep their jobs, arrive at the
checkpoints hours early, sleeping on concrete on the Israeli side of the
checkpoint they make it through with time to spare.
they work in Israel for a variety of reason, but most point to a lack
of opportunity, high unemployment and low wages in the occupied West
Bank. West Bank Palestinian workers in Israel make an average of around
$65 a day, more than double the average daily wage in the West Bank.
with a high demand for work permits, which are only granted to a
fraction of applicants, workers have no job security, creating
dangerously helpless situations for thousands. With the onslaught of
recent violence, things have only gotten worse for these men urgently
trying to make a living for their families.
Abed Abu Shierra
knows the men who cross through the Bethlehem 300 checkpoint well,
getting to know thousands of faces as he serves them coffee on their way
through every morning.
"It started to get worse for people
being stuck like this at the start of this new Intifada," Abu Shierra
explains to Mondoweiss. "Before the situation was a little bit better."
Video by Sheren Khalel and Abed Al Qaisi
Friday, December 18, 2015
Israel says it built the separation wall for security reasons to keep
Palestinians from the occupied West Bank out of Israel. So why does 85%
of the wall run inside the West Bank, rather than on the border with
Israel? And how has it affected Palestinian communities?
Friday, December 11th 2015 protest by the village of Nabi Saleh in the
occupied West Bank against the theft of their land and their spring by
the neighboring settlement Halamish, against the occupation and against
apartheid; commemorating Mustafa Tamimi killed by the Israeli army four
Here's Peter Beinart's delusional and supremacist view in 30 seconds:
"To continue to pay people to move from democratic Israel across the
green line in to non-democratic Israel. That is a threat to Israel's
survival because it makes it so much easier for those people who don't
want Israel to exist to say that Zionism and democracy are incompatible,
to say that Israel is an apartheid state, to say that it is
fundamentally a racist enterprise. To defeat them we have to struggle
for Israeli democracy. That's why I write what I do."
But what if
the Zionism and democracy ARE INDEED incompatible? What if Israel IS an
apartheid state? What if the Zionist project in Palestine IS
fundamentally a racist enterprise?
The State of Israel is not
even remotely democratic - it is founded on the exact opposite of
democratic values. "The Jewish & Democratic State", even in its
smaller territory (aka Israel proper/Palestine48), couldn't be any less
democratic. It is no more democratic than, say, "The People's Democratic
Republic of North Korea" even though both have 'democratic' in their
name. Yet no one in their right mind would treat North Korea as a
democracy, right? The only reason that Israel is being treated
differently is because of the sheer propaganda which is being propagated
by the likes of Beinart.
Today is International Human Rights Day, commemorating 10 December 1948,
the day the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed by
the UN. The declaration, composed in the wake of the horrors of World
War II, states that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity
and rights and, as such, are all deserving of life, security, liberty,
equality and dignity. On the other side of the Green Line (the 1949
Armistice Line), a line essentially invisible to Israelis, millions of
people – Palestinian residents of the West Bank, including East
Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip - are being deprived of their rights. The
West Bank city of Hebron is one of the places where these rights are
violated particularly blatantly. To mark International Human Rights Day,
we’ve put together a short clip that gives a brief explanation of the
background to current events in Hebron, and the daily oppression in the
city that has become a flashpoint for violent flare-ups.
Friday, December 11, 2015
In November 2015 head chefs from nine famous restaurants in New York,
Los Angeles, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Rome and Athens spent
a week cooking in Tel Aviv as part of a PR initiative to bring
international prestige to Israel’s culinary scene. The Round Tables
culinary show is sponsored by Israeli government ministries, the Tel
Aviv Municipality and businesses operating in illegal Israeli
Over 130 civil society groups wrote to the
restaurant chefs calling on them to cancel participation from this
complicit initiative that whitewashes Israel’s oppression of
The initiative is even more tasteless as it comes
on the heels of brutal Israeli repression against Palestinians
protesting for their rights and freedom in the Occupied Territories and
inside Israel. Racist incitement by Israeli officials and public against
Palestinians has reached shocking and unprecedented levels.
the Round Tables in apartheid Tel Aviv, concerned citizens from around
the world have expressed their dismay to those restaurateurs who have
been participating in this effort of whitewashing Israeli crimes.
BETHLEHEM -- Mutaz Zawahra was having the time of his life in France on a
youth program with two other friends when he got the news that his
oldest brother had fallen dangerously ill. His brother, Ghassan, was on
hunger strike in Israeli prison protesting his internment without trial
or charge, and family members told Mutaz that his older brother may not
make it through his strike alive.
Mutaz returned home
immediately to be with his family, just in time for the start of the
unrest that was about to erupt. Not long after, on Sept. 29, Israeli
authorities announced that they would release Ghassan, 40 days into his
hunger strike. Ghassan ended his strike and began to look forward to
home. Exactly two weeks later, his brother was shot dead.
forces shot and killed Mutaz during a particularly intense bout of
clashes coined "A Day of Rage." He was the 30th Palestinian to be shot
dead that month.
Mutaz, a well-known supporter of the left-wing
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was loved by his
community -- a fact that was apparent at his funeral, as thousands of
mourners flooded the streets of Bethlehem.
His brother Ghassan, was not one of them.
When Ghassan was finally released on Nov. 30, he went straight to his brother's gravesite before even thinking to go home.
days later he was giving a speech at a commemoration ceremony, which
should have marked the 40-day anniversary of his brother's death, as
Islamic tradition. The commemoration was held for several days however,
so Ghassan could at least have the honor of paying his respects to his
brother on a special day just for him.
During his speech,
Ghassan is flanked by three other younger brothers, giving him the
strength to continue when tears threaten to break his voice.
hat tip to Mondoweiss.
Friday, December 4, 2015
Hebron-H2, November 26, 2015 at 2 pm, an Israeli military skunkwater
truck went on the main street of Qaitun, a Palestine Neighborhood and
emptied its chemical container in the streets, also targeting houses and
rooftops alongside the street.
They did it without any security
reason - just to make life hard and unpleasant in this Palestinian
neighborhood of Hebron H2 (Israeli controlled).
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely was an invited speaker at
the Zionism 3.0 conference in Palo Alto, California on November 22.
Hotovely is a member of the right-wing Likud party and has called for
assassination of Palestinian leaders and annexation by Israel of all the
land "between the [Jordan] River and the [Mediterranean] Sea." As she
began to speak, five activists rose from the audience to declare her
under citizen's arrest, in keeping with warrants recently issued for
Israeli officials in Spain, South Africa and Turkey.