Israel Maraqa of ISM on WORT

Gil Halstead with Israel Maraqa on Access

Shahir Hunaina, YouTube, November 16, 2016

My Blood is Palestinian (Dammi Falastini), translation by Sara Ba

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

We stood for you, our homeland
With our pride and Arabisim
Al-Quds land called us
(As) The sound of my mother calling me
Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

O mother don’t worry
Your homeland is a fortified castle
Which I sacrifice my soul for
And my blood, and my veins

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

I’m Palestinian, a son of a free family
I’m brave and my head is always up
I’m keeping my oath to you my homeland
And I have never bowed to anyone
Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 

Statement on the attack on Palestinians of Jerusalem

Friends of Sabeel North America

On Sunday, February 25, church leaders from the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Armenian Apostolic churches in Jerusalem shut down the Church of the Holy Sepulcher until further notice. They did so in protest of a new municipal law demanding that church leaders pay over $190 million to the state of Israel in back taxes on church properties that were formerly tax exempt.

More information on the new law

The new law is part of an ongoing campaign to target and push out Palestinians in the holy city of Jerusalem. We stand with these church leaders in their boycott of this gross injustice, which is meant to make it more difficult if not impossible for Palestinian Christians to continue to live in Jerusalem. Sacred lands are never for sale. We raise outcry over the mass displacement of all Palestinians, whether Muslim or Christian, from Jerusalem. We support the leadership of the churches in boycotting injustice, and we call on church leaders around the world to follow their lead, heeding international calls for boycott, divestment, and sanctions on Israel until it complies with basic standards of international law and ends its decades long campaign to wipe out the indigenous Palestinian population.


Statements From Church Leaders in Jerusalem

FOR IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. POLITICAL PERSECUTION LEADS TO THE CLOSURE OF CHRISTIANITY’S HOLIEST SITE

The leaders of Jerusalem’s churches have today announced the unprecedented decision to close the Church of the Holy Sepulchre until further notice, in protest at persistent moves to intimidate Christians and discriminate against churches in the Holy Land. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which dates back to the fourth century, is considered to contain the sites of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, making it the holiest site in the world for Christians.

The decision to close the Holy Sepulchre comes in response to recent actions by the Jerusalem Municipality and by members of the Israeli Knesset. The Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, is attempting to enforce a punitive and retroactive tax on church properties in the Holy City. Furthermore, Knesset member, Rachel Azaria (“Kulanu” party)  is seeking to advance the “Bill of Church Lands”, which would give the Israeli government the power to confiscate church property. These actions contravene the long held Status Quo which is foundational to the guarantee of the churches’ rights and privileges in the Holy Land; and critically undermines the ability of churches to carry out their pastoral mission of housing the community, feeding the poor, caring for refugees, running schools for local children and maintaining the holy sites. Above all, they imperil the continuation of the Christian presence in Jerusalem. 

The closure was announced on Sunday by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Catholic Custos of the Holy Land and the Armenian Patriarch. Their joint statement argues that ‘the systematic campaign against the Churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land’ has ‘reached an unprecedented level as the Jerusalem municipality issued scandalous collection notices and orders of seizure of Church assets, properties and bank accounts for alleged debts of punitive municipal taxes.’  The statement also highlights the ‘discriminatory and racist bill that targets solely the properties of the Christian community in the Holy Land.’ 

Both developments come in a period when Christians are suffering an escalating campaign of intimidation from radical settler groups. Churches face daily desecration and vandalism and Christians are regularly subjected to violent assault as they travel to pray. These groups have long used intimidation, bribery and extreme anti-social behaviour in an attempt to force Christians and other non-Jews out of the Holy City. While their actions clearly contravene Israeli law their crimes go largely unchecked.

Statement on Municipal threats and the discriminatory “Church Lands Bill” 25.02.2018

We, the heads of Churches in charge of the Holy Sepulcher and the Status Quo governing the various Christian Holy Sites in Jerusalem – the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, the Custody of the Holy Land and the Armenian Patriarchate – are following with great concern the systematic campaign against the Churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land, in flagrant violation of the existing Status Quo.

Recently, this systematic and offensive campaign has reached an unprecedented level as the Jerusalem municipality issued scandalous collection notices and orders of seizure of Church assets, properties and bank accounts for alleged debts of punitive municipal taxes. A step that is contrary to the historic position of the Churches within the Holy City of Jerusalem and their relationship with the civil authorities. These actions breach existing agreements and international obligations which guarantee the rights and the privileges of the Churches, in what seems as an attempt to weaken the Christian presence in Jerusalem. The greatest victims in this are those impoverished families who will go without food and housing, as well as the children who will be unable to attend school.

The systematic campaign of abuse against Churches and Christians reaches now its peak as a discriminatory and racist bill that targets solely the properties of the Christian community in the Holy Land is being promoted. This abhorrent bill is set to advance today in a meeting of a ministerial committee which if approved would make the expropriation of the lands of churches possible. This reminds us all of laws of a similar nature which were enacted against the Jews during dark periods in Europe.

This systematic and unprecedented attack against Christians in the Holy Land severely violates the most basic, ab antiquo and sovereign rights, trampling on the delicate fabric of relations between the Christian community and the authorities for decades.

THEREFORE, and recalling the Statement of the Patriarchs and Heads of Local Churches in Jerusalem, dated 14 February, 2018 and their previous statement of September 2017, as a measure of protest, we decided to take this unprecedented step of closure of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Together with all Heads of Churches in the Holy Land we stand united, firm and resolute in protecting our rights and our properties.

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Invitation – JAI-ATG Olive Picking Program 2018


A program for Civil International Solidarity with Palestinians
October 13th (arrival) – 22nd (departure), 2018
West Bank, Palestine
Register online now

The JAI together with the Alternative Tourism Group (ATG) are organizing the 15th annual Olive Picking Program of 2018. This agricultural event is of special significance to the Palestinian economy when all energies and efforts are mobilized.

Besides olive picking, the program features introductory presentations about the current situation in Palestine and the effects of the Apartheid Wall, tours in the old city of Jerusalem, Hebron, and Bethlehem, in addition to evening sessions, cultural event and social gatherings.

Read about

The JAI Olive Tree Campaign
The Olive Picking Program and last years’ programs’ reports.
Reported attacks on farmers and land in Palestine.
Attacks on Olive Tree Campaign’ planted fields.

More Information:

  • An optional evening program will also be organized during the Picking Program, which includes film screenings or professional presentations on certain topics related to Palestinian life under occupation related international campaigns.
  • The cost of the program including accommodation in a double room, meals, guides, local transportation and other relevant expenses is $750. Requesting a single room at the hotel would cost the participant $200 Extra. Any extra night(s) accommodation (before the night of the 13th/14th of October, or after the night of the 21st/22nd of October 2018) is beyond the scope of the program and the participant has to pay extra for.
  • Accommodation can be arranged at a hotel or with a local family.
  • A tour guide will be present with the group at all times for facilitation purposes.
  • Travel from and to the airport is NOT included in the cost but can be arranged for (100 USD per person for each drive, unless sharing with a group of other participants).
  • Please do NOT fill and submit the registration form before booking your ticket, in order to fill your arrival and departure information in the same record.
  • Upon registration, you are automatically admitted to participate in the program (without having to wait for confirmation from our side), and you will receive further information / replies accordingly.

Proposed daily schedule (subjected to minor changes)

  • Saturday, Oct 13, Day 1: Arrival. Meeting representatives from the organizing institutions for an overview and discussion of the program.
  • Sunday, Oct 14, Day 2: Half day picking olives at a selected field. After lunch, political tour and sightseeing in Bethlehem, including the visit of a refugee camp. Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem.
  • Monday, Oct 15, Day 3: A tour in the old city of Hebron. Visiting the Ibrahimi Mosque. Guided tour in Hebron old city, market, H1/H2 areas, Shuhada street. Visiting a glass factory. Free time. Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem.
  • Tuesday, Oct 16, Day 4: Half day picking olives at a selected field in, followed by Presentation on the onging displcamenet, the refugee questions with BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugees’ Rights. Dinner and Overnight in Bethlehem.
  • Wednesday, Oct 17, Day 5: free day.
  • Thursday, Oct 18, Day 6: Half day picking olives at a selected field, followed by lunch. Geopolitical presentation with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the oPt., for a presentation on the Apartheid Wall and land confiscation. Visiting an olive press. Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem.
  • Friday, Oct 19, Day 7: Full day of picking olives at a selected field, lunch included. Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem.
  • Saturday, Oct 20, Day 8: Tour in the Old City of Jerusalem. Lunch, followed by a a tour with Israeli activist around Jerusalem. Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem.
  • Sunday, Oct 21, Day 9: Half day picking olives at a field. Lunch. Advocacy session and future planning. Evaluation meeting with institutions’ representatives, followed by a musical evening. Overnight in Bethlehem.
  • Monday, Oct 22, Day 10: Departure.

It is our pleasure that people are taking part in our mission in Keeping Hope Alive together and to learn more about daily Palestinian life under the Israeli military occupation.

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University of Manchester removes Sabra Hummus

BDS campaigners petitioned to remove the brand, slamming the university's "complicity in human rights violations"

The New Arab, 8 February, 2018

UoM’s BDS campaign described the stocking of Sabra Hummus in shops on campus as making the “university complicit in human rights violations through the funding of the ‘elite’ branch of the Israeli army”.

The ‘elite’ branch references the Golani Brigade, “who are known to commit a myriad of war crimes in Palestine”, added the statement.

Campaigners hoping to highlight the violations committed by the Israeli military force released a petition challenging the stocking of Sabra products and sent a statement to the manager of catering at the university.

Sabra, a US-based company, is owned jointly by PepsiCo and Strauss Group.

Strauss, an Israeli multinational corporation, invests and financially supports the Golani Brigade, part of Israel’s military force, according to their website.

Following the recall campaign, the statement in English was removed from the website, however it remains in Hebrew.

Strauss aids the Golani Brigade “with an ongoing variety of food products for their training or missions, and provide personal care packages for each soldier that completes the path”.

The website added that they provide the unit with funding for “welfare, cultural and educational activities, such as pocket money for underprivileged soldiers, sports and recreational equipment, care packages and books and games for the soldiers’ club”.

According to the statement compiled by the campaign, the Brigade “played key roles in the Israeli army’s assault on the Gaza Strip in 2008-9 during ‘Operation Cast Lead'”. The 22-day military offensive killed more than 1,400 Palestinians and devastated the coastal enclave.

Campaigners argued that a purchase is an endorsement of the company’s politics, and stressed the University of Manchester should not financially support human rights violators like the Golani Brigade.

“This is a great victory for the whole movement of BDS, however the university still holds institutional and investment links to Israel’s war crimes including shares in companies which profit from and sustain Israel’s apartheid regime.”

In response to the petition signed by students and the statement submitted, the assistant catering manager responded by saying that Sabra Hummus will be removed indefinitely from the shop, and will instead be replaced by Greek-owned company Delphi.

“This is a great victory for the whole movement of BDS, however the university still holds institutional and investment links to Israel’s war crimes including shares in companies which profit from and sustain Israel’s apartheid regime, such as Caterpillar, whose specially-modified armed bulldozers are used to demolish homes, schools, olive groves and communities in Palestine,” student Emilia Micunovic, told The New Arab.

“This goes completely against the university’s own socially responsible investment policy.”

She added: “As a first-year student, I was shocked to find out that my university was in fact not investing in the socially responsible companies that it claims to and instead hold millions of pounds worth of shares in companies which sustain Israel’s apartheid regime.”

Israel sees the boycott movement as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism – a claim activists deny, saying they want only to see an end to Israel’s occupation.

Last year Israel’s parliament passed a law barring entry into the country for those supporting a boycott of Israel. Rights groups criticised the law as “thought control” and noted that Israel also controls who enters the Palestinian, territories apart from one border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

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Open Letter to Women’s March L.A. from Women for Palestine

Open Letter to Women’s March L.A.:
Women for Palestine Calls for Genuine Intersectionality

Women 4 Palestine L.A., January 17, 2018

We embrace and applaud the intersectional analysis that marks today’s social movements, and decry the absence of this perspective in outreach for the Women’s March Los Angeles.

In a shocking move, you announced that a “Special Guest” speaker at WMLA 2018 is Scarlett Johansson, who is unabashedly a supporter of Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights. She served as a spokesperson, and indeed, was the face of the advertising campaign of SodaStream, whose factory was in a settlement built illegally on land stolen from Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. As a result, she was forced to step down from her role as an ambassador for the humanitarian group Oxfam after working with the charity for eight years.

Johansson’s unapologetic support for Israel’s abuses of Palestinians confirms that she fully deserves the praise Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heaped on her in his speech to the Israel lobby group AIPAC in Washington, several years ago. Netanyahu said Johansson should be “applauded” for opposing the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign for Palestinian rights. Regardless of her claims to not be “political,” Johansson is now seen by Palestinians and their supporters as a defender of apartheid Israel.

While there are a host of OTHER examples that can be cited, here we want to focus on the impact on those of us who actively support the indigenous rights of the Palestinian people, especially in light of the recent international attention on women and child political prisoners, including 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi, the young Palestinian Rosa Parks.

Once again, grassroot feminists who promote Palestinian human rights are concerned that a hostile environment is promoted by the organizers of WMLA — whether inadvertently, or not — by the choice of featured speakers, major donors, and major partners.

The organizers of the Women’s March LA are well aware of the issues the “Women 4 Palestine” contingent faced at last year’s “Women’s March LA.” We were verbally abused with racist remarks, and bullied, to the point that some of us are reticent to return out of concern for our personal safety. Our concerns were brushed off by your organizers, in fact one of you accused one of our members as being anti-semitic when she posted an announcement for our Women’s Rally to Free Ahed and All Palestinian Child Prisoners.

We also object to tone set as a result of the key role played by The National Council of Jewish Women LA, especially as a major organizer and donor to the local Women’s March. When Nancy Kaufman, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women, said that “we didn’t want it to become an Israel-bashing fest…We got assurances that the march is not anti-Trump and not anti-Israel,” it was clear that they were determined to silence the voices of critics of Israel and supporters of Palestinian rights.

“We believe that Women’s Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women’s Rights.” – Mission Women’s March Mission. Apparently that does not include Palestinian Human Rights.

Renowned Black feminist poet, June Jordan’s poetry embodies the intersectionality of Black and Palestine liberation. “I was born a Black woman / and now / I am become a Palestinian / against the relentless laughter of evil / there is less and less living room / and where are my loved ones / It is time to make our way home.”

Last year’s Women’s March, DTLA looked like it was covered with a fresh coat of snow studded with pink caps. In no way did it reflect the wonderful diversity of Los Angeles County. Unfortunately, we never heard that was a concern for WMLA’s leaders, either before the march when several of us raised these issues, OR afterwards. What a shame and missed opportunity.

It’s well past time to be genuinely intersectional, inclusive, transparent, and welcoming of marginalized people, including the Palestinian community, an approach exemplified by the International Women’s Strike, which mobilized thousands of women in March of 2017 for gender, economic and social justice, while also centering the “Decolonization of Palestine,” anti-imperialism, and an end to gendered state violence. IWS organizers are once again mobilizing for March 2018 International Women’s Day marches and strikes.

In that spirit we invite you to join us, when many of us will participate in the International Women’s Day March & Rally 2018-Organized by AF3IRM, in Downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, March 3rd, 2018, noon to 3pm. This march is convened and led by transnational/women of color, but all people are welcome.

Women for Palestine L.A.

Sign this petition at change.org

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Trump makes a one-state solution more likely

Supporters of Israel hate it when people use the word “apartheid” to describe the country, but we don’t have another term for a political system in which one ethnic group rules over another, confining it to small islands of territory and denying it full political representation.

Palestinians protesting the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency, via Getty Images)
 
Michelle Goldberg, The New York Times, January 9, 2018

Last month, Donald Trump announced that the United States would move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, infuriating the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Despite what some feared, the move didn’t spark widespread unrest in Muslim countries.

While the world rejected the new policy — the United Nations General Assembly voted 128 to 9 to condemn it — Arab states seemed to tacitly accept it. As The New York Times reported last week, an Egyptian intelligence officer even called influential talk-show hosts urging them to steer their audiences away from anti-Israel outrage.

For some conservatives in the United States, the apathetic Arab response proves that Trump was right. The Daily Caller gloated about Trump’s refusal to allow “Palestinian threats of violence” to sway the United States. In National Review, Douglas Murray wrote that the “U.S. has stared down the men of violence and — for the time being at least — come out from the encounter on top.”

This argument misses the main reason to oppose the Jerusalem announcement, apart from the continued suffering of the Palestinians, which few in American politics particularly care about. Trump’s decision wasn’t disastrous because it risked causing riots but because, long-term, it endangers whatever thin chance remains of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And the alternative to a two-state solution is one state, a greater Israel that includes the occupied territories. That state can be Jewish or it can be democratic, but it cannot be both. Trump’s embassy decision was thus another nail in the coffin of liberal Zionism.

When the administration initially announced plans to move the embassy, it claimed it was not prejudging the status of Jerusalem in a final peace deal. But Palestinians and Israelis alike understood Trump to be giving the Israeli government carte blanche to continue claiming Palestinian territory.

Not long after Trump’s announcement, the central committee of the ruling Likud Party passed a resolution calling for the de facto annexation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The Knesset passed an amendment requiring a supermajority to give up Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem, making a peace deal with the Palestinians even more elusive.

Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s central council, told me that before Trump’s decision, “there was a frozen peace process,” but many people believed it could be restarted. “Mr. Trump killed the potential,” he said.

This appears to have been intentional. Writing in “Fire and Fury,” his new book about the Trump administration, Michael Wolff quotes Steve Bannon boasting about the implications of moving the embassy to Jerusalem, which Bannon treated as a death knell to Palestinian national aspirations. “We know where we’re heading on this,” Bannon reportedly said to the ousted Fox News chief executive Roger Ailes. “Let Jordan take the West Bank, let Egypt take Gaza.”

Despite Bannon’s Great Game fantasies, that’s not going to happen. Instead, if the possibility of Palestinian statehood is foreclosed, Israel will be responsible for all the territory under its control. There will be one state; the question is what sort of state it will be. Some on the Israeli right foresee a system in which most Palestinians will remain stateless indefinitely, living under a set of laws different from those governing Israeli citizens. Yoav Kish, a Likud member of Parliament, has drawn up a plan in which Palestinians in the West Bank will have limited local administrative sovereignty; rather than citizens they will be “Residents of the Autonomy.” Supporters of Israel hate it when people use the word “apartheid” to describe the country, but we don’t have another term for a political system in which one ethnic group rules over another, confining it to small islands of territory and denying it full political representation.

The word “apartheid” will become increasingly inescapable as a small but growing number of Palestinians turn from fighting for independence to demanding equal rights in the system they are living under. “If the Israelis insist now on finishing the process of killing the two-state solution, the only alternative we have as Palestinians is one fully democratic, one-state solution,” Barghouti says, in which everyone has “totally equal rights.”

Needless to say, Israel will accept no such thing. Though demographics in the region are as contested as everything else, Palestinians are likely to soon become a majority of the population in Israel and the occupied territories. If all of them were given the right to vote, Israel would cease to be a Jewish state.

But most of the world — including most of the Jewish diaspora — will have a hard time coming up with a decent justification for opposing a Palestinian campaign for equal rights. Israel’s apologists will be left mimicking the argument that William F. Buckley once made about the Jim Crow South. In 1957, he asked rhetorically whether the white South was entitled to prevail “politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically.” The “sobering answer,” he concluded, was yes, given the white community’s superior civilization.

It’s impossible to say how long Israel could sustain such a system. But the dream of liberal Zionism would be dead. Maybe, with the far right in power both here and there, it already is.

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