Palestinian

South African Leaders Hunger Strike in Solidarity with Palestinians

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Activists speak at a gathering to break their solidarity fast, Johannesburg, May 15, 2017. (photo: News24)

Cabinet ministers and anti-apartheid campaigners once imprisoned on Robben Island take part in symbolic 24-hour fast.

By Bethan McKernan / Independent
May 18, 2017


“To many of us our solidarity in this campaign is very personal because of our own experience under apartheid. We too, like the heroic Palestinians, were once called terrorists. We, like the Palestinians, were detained. We, like the Palestinians today, embarked on hunger strikes from our prison cells in protest against apartheid South Africa’s human rights violations. We also note the growing number of South African Jews who have joined this 24-hour fast and are in protest against Israel’s discriminatory policies. They remind us of our own white comrades who refused to let the apartheid government speak in their name.”
— Nomaindia Mfeketo, South African Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-Operation


More than a dozen South African politicians and several anti-apartheid activists and public figures have completed a day-long fast to draw attention to the fight of hunger-striking Palestinians protesting conditions in Israeli prisons.

Cabinet members including deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and deputy minister of international relations and co-operation Nomaindia Mfeketo — who herself was detained several times in the 1980s for anti-government activism — did not eat or drink for 24 hours from Sunday evening to Monday evening in solidarity with Palestinians who have now entered their second month of a hunger strike.

The “Freedom and Dignity” strike involving about 1,600 Palestinian prisoners in eight jails is over a range of issues, from access to telephones, lawyers and better medical care to ending solitary detention.

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Israel’s New Bill “Portrays Institutional Racism as Entirely Normal”

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Among its provisions, the legislation revokes the status of Arabic as an official language, even though it is the mother tongue of one in five citizens (photo: Reuters)

Israel’s Knesset has passed its first vote on a new bill defining Israel as “a national home of the Jewish people.”

By Jonathan Cook / Al Jazeera
May 11, 2017


“The aim is to portray institutional racism in Israel as entirely normal, and make sure the apartheid reality here is irreversible. . . . It is part of the right’s magical thinking — they are in denial that there is an indigenous people here still living in their homeland. We are not about to disappear because of this law.”
— Haneen Zoabi, a Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament


New legislation to cement the definition of Israel as a state belonging exclusively to Jews around the world is a “declaration of war” on Palestinian citizens of Israel, the minority’s leaders warned this week.

The bill, which defines Israel as the “national home of the Jewish people,” passed its first vote in the Israeli parliament on Wednesday, after it received unanimous backing from a government committee on Sunday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to get the measure on to the statute books within 60 days.

Among its provisions, the legislation — popularly known as the Jewish Nation-State Bill — revokes the status of Arabic as an official language, even though it is the mother tongue of one in five citizens.

Israel’s population includes a large minority of 1.7 million Palestinians.

The legislation affirms that world Jewry has a “unique” right to national self-determination in Israel, and calls for the government to further strengthen ties to Jewish communities outside Israel.

It also increases the powers of so-called “admissions committees” that block Palestinian citizens from living in hundreds of communities that control most of Israel’s land.

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The Longest-Serving Palestinian Prisoner in Israel

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Nael Barghouti as a prisoner in 1993 (right) and as a long-haired youth in 1978. (photo: Alex Levac / Haaretz)

He was released in a prisoner swap after serving 33 years, then sent back in on a technicality.

By Gideon Levy / Haaretz
April 29, 2017


[After being returned to prison,] Nael was sentenced to 30 months in prison for violating the conditions of his release. But when that term ended, he was not set free. Then, two months ago came the astounding news that he would have to complete his life-plus-18-years sentence, originally meted out in 1978.


The three photographs on the chest of drawers at the entrance to the living room tell the whole unbelievable story. The first shot, from 1978, shows a long-haired youth. The second, taken 15 years later, is a portrait of a prisoner between his two aged parents, both of whom lean on canes. It was taken the last time they met. The third is of an elderly man, at the time of his release from prison.

Thirty-nine years separate the first and third images, and Nael Barghouti, the man in all of the photos, spent most of that time incarcerated in an Israeli prison for murdering Mordechai Yakoel, a bus driver, in 1978. There is no longer-serving prisoner than Barghouti, and no crueler arbitrary treatment by the authorities than that demonstrated in his case. (more…)

Mr. Friedman, Where Do You Stand on the Demolition of a Palestinian Village and School?

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Students at Khan al Ahmar village school, Palestine (photo: Vento di Terra)

An open letter to Donald Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Israel.

By Donna Baranski-Walker / Mondoweiss.net
March 8, 2017


My question: Do your own donations to support education in the Israeli settlement of Beit El and President Trump’s trust in you put you in a unique position to stop Israel’s demolition of Palestinian communities?


David Friedman, esq.
Nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Israel

Dear Mr. Friedman,

I am writing with urgency. I have asked my Senators Feinstein and Harris to forward my questions to you and request your reply. I am bringing these questions forward because although many speculate about what shape peace between Israelis and Palestinians will take in the future, I am most concerned with how you will assure a future for Palestinians who are being forced from their land right now.

The stakes were always high, but since January 2017, this situation is critical. These past two weeks, I have once again been urging everyone I know to write to their Senators and Representatives to urgently request that they call the Israeli Embassy and the U.S. State Department to prevent the imminent demolition of a West Bank Palestinian school and village, this time the village of Khan al Ahmar. Simultaneously we await word of the State of Israel’s position re the appeal by the Palestinian village of Susiya, calls are arriving from the village of Umm al Kheir about the Israeli Army’s demolition of water catchment cisterns in their area, and more.

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Film: Disturbing the Peace

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Please join our brothers and sisters at the Euphrates Institute for a screening of the award-winning film “Disturbing the Peace.”

Date: Thursday, April  13, 2017
Time: 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Location: AMC Southcenter 16
3600 Southcenter Mall
Tukwila, WA  98188
Information: Facebook event
Film website
Tickets: Ticket website

Event Details

“Disturbing the Peace” follows former enemy combatants — Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters — who have joined together to challenge the status quo. The film reveals their transformational journeys from soldiers to nonviolent peace activists, leading to the creation of Combatants for Peace. The film is incredibly inspiring, and is rated 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and 9.0 on IMDB. Following the film there will be a short Q&A session with Euphrates Founder, Janessa Gans Wilder, and an exchange student from Gaza, Amjad al-Shaer.

“Disturbing the Peace” is a story of the human potential unleashed when we stop participating in a story that no longer serves us and, with the power of our convictions, take action to create new possibilities. “Disturbing the Peace” follows former enemy combatants — Israeli soldiers from elite units and Palestinian fighters, many of whom served years in prison — who have joined together to challenge the status quo and say “enough.” the film reveals their transformational journeys from soldiers committed to armed battle to nonviolent peace activists, leading to the creation of Combatants for Peace. While based in the Middle East, “Disturbing the Peace” evokes universal themes relevant to us all and inspires us to become active participants in the creation of our world.

Please purchase your tickets online at http://gathr.us/screening/19346. Gathr is like Kickstarter for independent movie screenings, so we need at least 60 people to reserve tickets by March 30th in order for the screening to take place. You can also help us spreading the word with our Facebook event.

Palestinian Women Wage Peace

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Photo courtesy of Hadas Parush / Flash90

How thousands of Palestinian and Israeli women are waging peace

By Riman Barakat / +972 Blog
October 25, 2016


“The thousands of Palestinian and Israeli women who marched in Jerusalem and Jericho this month are not only demanding peace from their societies, they are reaching through stereotypes and artificial boundaries to find true partners.”


Less than a year ago a group of Palestinian and Israeli women spent a weekend in Tantur, situated between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, brainstorming what we could possibly do to break the cycle of violence and political stagnation. Everyone had their own personal reason for being there, whether it was the Israeli mothers who had to send their children to war or the Palestinian women who were exhausted by the daily incursions of the Israeli army, checkpoints, and the inability to live freely and imagine a hopeful future for their children. Personally, I felt torn apart having seen Jerusalem split into a hundred pieces, a place that should be the inspiration for coexistence instead oozing with the blood of Palestinians and Israelis on a near daily basis. . . .

“We need to think outside of our surroundings,” Lily kept saying, and together we visualized the March of Hope, a march of togetherness — a cry to the whole world, coming from a mother’s womb, to stop the violence. We resolved not to stop, even in the midst of most terrible acts of violence. We met and shouted out, “ Enough! Enough!” in Arabic, Hebrew and English. We resolved to propose a shared language of hope, of humanity, of an unshakable commitment to peace, and we rejected the language of separation.

[Continue reading here . . . ]

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Photo courtesy of Flash90

Israel’s Jewish Character?

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Photo courtesy of Rusty Stewart / CC

If Israel Lets in Palestinian Refugees, Will It Lose Its Jewish Character?

By Joshua Schreier and Mira Sucharov / The Forward
October 17, 2016


“Consider a post-peace Israel where refugee claims have been settled, where the everyday brutality of occupation no longer precludes normalcy, and where the work of truth and reconciliation has begun. While still remaining alert to outside threats, Israel would be able to relax its disproportionate focus on security. After all, war and occupation take a toll on creative expression, while massive defense spending diverts focus from cultural investment.”


We watched with admiration as Hagai El-Ad of B’Tselem and Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now appeared recently before the U.N. Security Council to urge action against the Israeli occupation. The session was framed as a discussion of settlements in the context of “peace” and a “two-state solution.” But behind the occupation lurks an even more vexing issue: that of the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees. We feel we need to unpack this issue — and the assumptions about demographics that animate it — if we’re going to make real headway on countering the occupation.

The vast majority of Israelis, even most on the Israeli left, argue that admitting the Palestinian refugees would lead Israel to lose its “Jewish character.” For them, a Jewish-majority state provides the Jewish people with a degree of security and justice. Yet many Palestinians and their increasingly numerous and vocal supporters in North America and Europe see no justice in Israel’s exclusionary policies allowing all Jews, but no Palestinians, to “return” to the country.

Israelis’ anxious focus on ethnic demographics inflicts harm on those within the state as well. An array of discriminatory laws and practices currently marginalize the 20% of Israeli citizens who are Palestinian. These laws and practices not only make it difficult for Palestinian citizens to embrace the state as their own, they also preclude justice, equality and peace.

[Continue reading here . . . ]