Palestinian Scholar Noura Erakat: Israeli Forces Killed My Cousin on His Sister’s Wedding Day

Democracy Now!, JUNE 24, 2020

Israeli soldiers on Tuesday killed 27-year-old Ahmed Erekat at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank as he was on his way to pick up his sister, who was set to be married that night. Ahmed Erekat is the nephew of senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and cousin of Palestinian American legal scholar Noura Erakat, who says Israeli claims that Ahmed was attempting a car-ramming attack on soldiers are completely unfounded. “What we understand is that Ahmed lost control of his car or was confused while he was in his car. That was all it took to have a knee-jerk reaction … and immediately to cause the soldiers to open fire on him multiple times,” she says.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to begin today in Israel and the West Bank. Israeli officers on Tuesday shot dead a Palestinian man at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank as he was on his way to pick up his sister, who was set to be married last night. A warning to our viewers: This story contains graphic footage. The video from the scene shows 27-year-old Ahmed Erekat bleeding, but still alive on the street where he was shot. He’s the nephew of senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, who said his nephew was, quote, “murdered in cold blood,” and wrote in a tweet that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is responsible for his death.

Ahmed Erekat’s family said he was killed while on his way to a beauty salon to pick up his sister and his mother, but Israeli authorities claim he tried to run over an officer at a checkpoint in the Palestinian village of Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem. His family rejects the allegations, is calling for Israeli authorities to release security footage. Ahmed himself was also due to be married soon.

His killing comes nearly a month after another Palestinian man was killed in similar circumstances near Ramallah, also in the West Bank, and as Netanyahu plans to start annexing nearly a third of the occupied West Bank next month.

For more, we’re joined by Ahmed Erekat’s cousin, Noura Erakat, who’s a Palestinian human rights attorney and legal scholar, assistant professor at Rutgers University, author of Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine.

Noura, our condolences to you and your family. This is such a terrible time for you. We so deeply appreciate you’re able to join us. This is just hours after your cousin was killed. Can you describe the circumstances under which you understand he died?

NOURA ERAKAT: Thank you, Amy. Thank you, Juan, and to the viewers. I haven’t had a chance to speak to his parents, so I want to start out by saying [speaking Arabic].

We understand the circumstances to be what people know. Ahmed was on his way, from Abu Dis to Bethlehem, to pick up his sister from a hair salon for her wedding. Her mom was there with her. You know, on the way to the hair salon, he passed through a checkpoint separating Bethlehem from Abu Dis through a known roadway, back roadway, a dangerous one known as Wadi Nar, or Valley of Fire. There is a steep decline between this checkpoint on the road. And what we understand is that Ahmed lost control of his car or was confused while he was in his car. That was all it took to have a knee-jerk reaction, for the car to jerk a little bit and immediately to cause the soldiers to open fire on him multiple times.

Note that these soldiers, who are fully armed at this checkpoint, are behind barriers, are not actually out in the open, and then left Ahmed to bleed for one-and-a-half hours. We also understand that his father, Abu Faisal, was there pleading with the Israeli soldiers to let him access his son. We also know that the Palestinian Red Crescent, the equivalent of the Red Cross, was not allowed access. And for one-and-a-half hours, as you saw in that inexplicable video, Ahmed was left writhing and bleeding out, without the ability to care for him.

And what is very obvious is the ease and the callousness with which this happened, the way that it’s normalized completely. And there’s a Palestinian — there’s a line, a queue, of Palestinian cars. And the one filming this was praying over Ahmed as he’s dying. It should remind us that even those Palestinians who are bearing witness to this are subject to a state of forced helplessness. They are not even allowed to help Ahmed in that moment.

I want to just bring up something, Amy, to the audience before I address Israel’s vicious, dangerous and disgusting allegations that this was a car ramming, and raise three questions for the audience that’s paying attention right now.

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From Ramallah to Haifa to the Gaza Strip, Palestinians in the homeland are joining the global denunciations of systems of racial supremacy.

NADA ELIA, Mondoweiss, JUNE 8, 2020

The horrific police murder of George Floyd, caught on a cell phone by a teenager who then posted the harrowing footage on social media, is only the latest reminder that the civil rights struggles of the past century have not translated into safer streets—not even safer homes–for Black people in the USA.  Yet in this deeply painful moment, there is also a sense of cautious hopefulness, as Americans of all races, but also as people globally, are taking to the streets with one message: “Black Lives Matter.” 

And from Ramallah to Haifa to the Gaza Strip, Palestinians in the homeland are joining the global denunciations of the system of racial supremacy that has too long held down an oppressed people who taught the world that justice is indivisible, and that none of us can breathe until Black people can breathe. This video compiles some of their statements of solidarity, including “We see you,” “your pain is our pain,” and affirming the belief that justice will prevail.  

The Black Lives Matter slogan, “Defund the Police,” is also resonating in all corners of the globe, along with denunciations of the blanket criminalization of Black people, and of the racist underpinnings of American law enforcement, which has always placed property over humanity.  A much-needed discussion is taking place in homes, on social media, and in the streets, about the very identity of the police institution, with its beginning as slave patrols. As I wrote elsewhere: “With their origin as runaway slave patrols—always prioritizing the property of whites over the lives of African Americans, the US police forces have been racist for centuries […]Their behavior today, as they form a weaponized wall protecting banks and shopping malls, rather than the protestors rising up against centuries of injustice, is a direct evolution of their initial mandate—to protect the privileged and their wealth, from the violently dispossessed, those who have been looted of their land, and the fruit of their labor.”

This is why the Black Lives Matter demands are not accommodationist, asking for body cams or a better accountability system. Rather, the message is clear: “Defund the Police” is about dismantling a system that is so essentially racist it cannot be reformed.  

Arab Americans, themselves no strangers to law enforcement violence, are also expressing their solidarity with the Black struggle, in individual statements, in works of art honoring Black lives, and in hosting fundraisers to benefit the Movement for Black Lives, and It is our duty to defend Black lives,” a “rebellion of love” is afoot.

For now, we must make sure this is a movement, not a moment. So let us keep taking to the streets, joining in the rebellion of love against racism. The police, today’s enforcers of racial supremacy, must be abolished, because (as the contributors in this video affirm): Black Lives Matter.

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The Madison-Rafah Marketplace is Open!

In keeping with the times, we are now offering Palestinian Olive Oil and Donation and Membership services at the Madison-Rafah Marketplace, a secure online store. A new link has been added to the header menu above. Crafts may be available at the Marketplace in the future.

The Marketplace is currently offering Holy Land Olive Oil in 500 and 750-ml bottles, with discounts for cases of six. It is an extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil imported directly from Palestinian growers.

Buyers in Madison have been impressed with the oil’s quality and flavor. The oil has a brilliant green color and freshness that you can taste: nutty with a little sharpness or bite, particularly in the finish, that is typical of fresh oil.

This oil comes from West Bank villages in the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, a certified fair trade organization. The oil from the 2018/19 harvest had a peroxide value of 7, an acidity of 0.37%, and a pleasant fruity flavor characteristic of fresh ripe olives. It was mellow, not bitter or peppery, and pleasantly aromatic.

Palestinian farmers are having great difficulty selling their produce due to Israeli policies of occupation and closure. Neither Jordan nor Israel, the two natural markets, will accept the oil which is now the only source of income for many people.

The Madison-Rafah Marketplace is a secure site hosted by Square that meets the Payment Card Industry security standards.

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The knee-on-neck, long a staple of Israel’s occupation of Palestine

Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation have long dealt with the kind of brutality being enacted by some US police officers against African-Americans.

Israeli police officers detain a Palestinian protestor during scuffles outside the compound housing al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City March 12, 2019.Israeli police officers detain a Palestinian protestor during scuffles outside the compound housing al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City March 12, 2019. (Reuters)

TRT World, 30 May 2020

A now infamous image of a white police officer kneeling on the neck of an African-American man, who would later die, has caused global outrage and violent unrest across the US.

Caught on video, George Floyd’s death was seemingly the straw that broke the camel’s back in that it came after several other high profile killings of several other African-Americans either by police or suspects who did not face immediate legal consequences.

For one community, the disproportionate violence faced by black people at the hands of US police forces has special resonance as it reflects their own experiences with the authorities.

For Palestinians living under military occupation in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, the worst excesses of the kind seen in the US recently, are a near everyday occurrence. 

In the aftermath of Floyd’s killing, Palestinians were quick to draw parallels between the final images of the man suffering under the knee of the officer, and similar choke holds used by Israel occupation forces.

“Crazy how the same thing happens in Palestine but the world chooses to ignore it,” Palestinian athlete Mohammad Alqadi wrote on his Twitter above four separate images of Israeli soldiers pinning Palestinians to the ground with their knees on their necks or head.

Killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces are also a regular occurrence: in 2019, 135 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces with 108 in Gaza and another 27 in the West Bank, according to the UN.

The similarities do not end there, as some activists have drawn parallels between the way US police have handled protests against police brutality in the aftermath of Floyd’s death and the way Israel has dealt with protests in Gaza. 

Such comparisons come with caveats, as US police officers despite the controversy over their tactics have yet to kill anywhere near the numbers Israel killed in the Gaza right of return protests in 2018, for example. Nevertheless, some of the tactics used are the same, according to pro-Palestinian groups.

On Twitter, the BDS and Palestinian Solidarity working group within the Democratic Socialists of America wrote:  “The police violence happening tonight in Minneapolis is straight out of the IDF playbook. How many times have we seen uprisings in Gaza met w/ a storm of tear gas? How many times are Palestinians in the West Bank doused w/ skunk water during a protest? US cops train in Israel.”

‘It’s a war crime’: Thousands rally in Tel Aviv against Netanyahu annexation bid

Meretz MK, Joint List leader says move would create ‘apartheid’; Sanders sends video message; police forcefully detain photojournalist covering event, arrest 4 demonstrators

JACOB MAGID, The Times of Israel, 6 June 2020

Thousands of Israelis attend a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plans to annex parts of the West Bank, at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, June 6, 2020. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Thousands of Israelis attend a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank, at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, June 6, 2020. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Protesters gather in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on June 6, 2020, to denounce Israel's plan to annex parts of the West Bank. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
Protesters gather in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on June 6, 2020, to denounce Israel’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Protesters gather in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on June 6, 2020, to denounce Israel's plan to annex parts of the West Bank. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
Protesters gather in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on June 6, 2020, to denounce Israel’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Protesters carry a placard which reads in Hebrew "no to annexation" as they gather in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on June 6, 2020, to denounce Israel's plan to annex parts of the West Bank. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
Protesters carry a placard which reads in Hebrew “no to annexation” as they gather in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on June 6, 2020, to denounce Israel’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

A protester carries the Israeli flag during a protest in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on June 6, 2020, to denounce Israel's plan to annex parts of the West Bank. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
A protester carries the Israeli flag during a protest in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on June 6, 2020, to denounce Israel’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Thousands attend a protest against Israel's plan to annex parts of the West Bank, at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on June 6, 2020. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90
Thousands attend a protest against Israel’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank, at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on June 6, 2020. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90

Thousands of Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv Saturday evening to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge to begin annexing parts of the West Bank next month.

Police initially sought to block the rally but backtracked Friday after meeting with organizers, who urged participants to wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines.

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