“All my writings on social media are part of the freedom of opinion and expression stipulated by the Palestinian Basic Law and are protected by all international laws and conventions. My arrest will not affect my defense of human rights and the rights of journalists to exercise their work freely and without pressure from the government.” — Issa Amro
Yesterday morning, Palestinian human rights defender Issa Amro was arrested by Palestinian Authority police for posting a message on Facebook stating that the PA should respect freedom of expression after it arrested journalist Ayman Qawasmi. That was yesterday morning around 10:00 AM, Palestine time. Issa is still in custody almost 30 hours later. His detention has now been extended and Issa has declared he is on hunger strike, refusing all food, water and medicine until he is released.
Amnesty International and other human rights groups have condemned the PA’s detention of Issa and called for his immediate release. He was arrested under a new law issued by the PA that gives it broad powers to arrest and imprison Palestinians for statements made online that harm “national unity” and to block access to websites. The PA, which was created under the Oslo Accords during the 1990’s and was supposed to be a temporary body on the way to statehood, operates under the overall control of Israel’s occupying army.
[Ed. note: Although three years old, we thought this article by the BBC might be of interest to our readership.]
“My father always said, ‘We will never achieve peace in Palestine and Israel just by shaking hands — we need to work on people, to start with the grassroots.’ So what we do now, as a family, is fulfilling the dream of my father that people can build bridges, for hope, for understanding, reconciliation, dialogue, to achieve peace. This is the idea.” — Amal Nassar
On his farm outside Bethlehem, Daher Nassar is picking apples from the ruins of the orchard he planted at least eight years ago. The fruit is scattered across ground freshly opened and imprinted with the tracks of a bulldozer. At the field’s edge, branches reach out from inside a mound of earth, the bark stripped and mangled, unripe almonds still clinging to the trees.
On 19 May  a Palestinian shepherd from the village of Nahalin was out at first light and saw the bulldozer at work in the field, guarded by Israeli soldiers. By the time Nassar arrived the whole orchard — the best part of a decade’s work — was gone. His English is far from fluent, but there’s no mistaking the pain in his voice: “Why you broke the trees?”
A spokesperson for the Israeli military authorities in the West Bank said the trees were planted illegally on state land.
Nassar’s sister, Amal, has a different explanation. The government, together with the Israeli settlers who live around the farm, is “trying to push us to violence or push us to leave,” she says. Amal insists that her family will not move from the land, nor will they abandon their commitment to peaceful resistance.
“Nobody can force us to hate,” she says. “We refuse to be enemies.”
The Mennonite Church USA approves “withdrawing investments from companies that are profiting from the occupation” of Palestine.
July 6, 2017
“This resolution is a long overdue response to the Palestinian Christian call to the global church. Today we stand in solidarity with their courageous and nonviolent efforts for justice and equality.” — Joy Lapp, Professor of Religion at Iowa Wesleyan University
The Mennonite Church USA overwhelmingly approved the resolution “Seeking Peace in Israel and Palestine” today at its biennial convention in Orlando, Florida. The resolution garnered approximately 98% of the votes of the 548 delegates.
The resolution declares the denomination’s opposition to Israel’s 50-year-old military rule over Palestinians in the occupied territories and commits to “withdrawing investments from companies that are profiting from the occupation.” The resolution also urges church members to avoid purchase of products associated with the occupation or produced in Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law and longstanding official US policy, and to advocate for an end to U.S. military aid and arms sales in the Middle East.
The Mennonite Church USA joins with the following churches in taking economic action in support of Palestinian Human Rights.
Presbyterian Church (USA)
United Methodist Church
United Church of Christ
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The resolution focuses on ways Mennonites have been involved in harms against both Palestinians and Jews, and names concrete steps to address those harms. It addresses the ongoing reality of anti-Semitism around the world, and the extent to which Mennonites in the U.S. are complicit in Jewish suffering historically, currently, and theologically. Church members are encouraged to build relationships with Palestinian-American, Muslim and Jewish communities in the United States.
No amount of coddling and reassuring, no increased bribes in the form of more money or military aid, will have any effect on Israeli policy for the simple reason that Israel considers any sacrifice that would be necessary for peace far worse than maintaining the current situation . . . . The assumption that Israel genuinely wants a peace agreement is simply wrong; the costs of such an agreement are tangible, immediate, and perhaps overwhelming, involving the loss of territory, an end to colonization, and potential political collapse, whereas the costs of maintaining the status quo are for many Israelis, if at times unpleasant, eminently bearable.
This June, Israel is marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Six-Day War. Some Israelis, including most members of the present government, are celebrating the country’s swift victory over Egypt, Jordan, and Syria as the beginning of the permanent annexation of the entire Palestinian West Bank; others, like me, mourn it as the start of a seemingly inexorable process of moral corruption and decline, the result of the continuing occupation of the West Bank, along with Israel’s now indirect but still-crippling control of Gaza. As it happens, my own life in Israel coincides exactly with the occupation. I arrived from the US in 1967, not as an ideological Zionist but as a young student who had fallen madly in love with the Hebrew language. Sometimes I think it is my passion for the language that has kept me here for five decades, although I would now want to add the strong feeling that it is my fate and my good fortune to be able to fight the good fight.
The country I came to live in fifty years ago was utterly unlike the one I live in today. It was no utopia, but its society was broadly moderate and humane, a mildly Mediterranean version of a modern European social democracy. Despite what some would say, it was not a colonial settlers’ society. There was widespread fear and even hatred of Arabs, including Arab citizens of Israel, but it was nothing like the rampant racism one now hears every day on the radio or TV. Shame, sincere or not, had not yet disappeared from public life.
In those early years, most Israelis regarded the occupied territories — which included the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula as well as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip — not as providing an opportunity for enlarging the boundaries of the state through colonization but as bargaining chips in an eventual and hoped-for peace settlement with the Arabs. There were as yet no Israeli settlements in the territories and hence no fanatical, messianic settlers; the Israeli army could still claim, with some justice, to be an army of defense, not a police force sent to ensure that the project of seizing Palestinian land take place without too much resistance from the local population.
“In both societies, Israeli and Palestinian, the life of the Palestinians is far from normal. Acting as if things were normal ignores the violation of fundamental human rights.”
The Catholic Church will speak out against injustice and avoid any attempt to normalize the “festering wound” of the Israeli-Palestinian situation, a commission from the region’s leading Catholic bishops has said.
“The Church, given the nature of her mission, has her own values and criteria to define her position in a situation of conflict, like the one in Israel-Palestine. No single brand of political discourse, no particular party position nor any particular ideological option binds the Church,” the Justice and Peace Commission of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land said May 14. The commission is headed by Latin Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah.
“However, at the same time, the Church cannot ignore fundamental injustice or acts that endanger peace and the welfare of the human person,” the commission said.
“By her very nature, the Church opposes occupation and discrimination and is committed to promote justice and peace as well as the unique dignity and equality of every human person,” it continued. “The Church can never ignore injustice as if all is well but rather is obligated to speak out, resist evil and work tirelessly for change. Like the prophets of old, the Church, a prophetic body, points out injustice and denounces it.”
From Beth Moore and Bill Plitt / FOTONNA
November 9, 2016
Following a recent refusal by the Military Court in the West Bank to grant permits to the Nassars for building two structures on their farm, one for a cave for volunteers and one for a machine shop, a demolition order was received by Daoud from the Military Court. It could mean that the two buildings would be demolished at any time by the military. Daoud feels he cannot be away from the farm at such a tenuous time.
We heard from Daoud Nassar early this morning, that due to urgent developments on the farm, he has decided, with great regret, that he will not be able to be present for the tour in Colorado this next week.
One of the constraints under which Palestinian’s operate is the requirement to obtain permits to build structures on their land. They follow the law and try to obtain the necessary permits, but they are never forthcoming. Daoud and his family have chosen a path of non-violent resistance, and move ahead to build structures on their land — many of them in underground caves. When this is discovered either by the Israeli military, or the occupation government (COGAT) demolition orders for the structures are ordered. There are some 30 demolition orders on structures on the Nassar’s land. Continue reading “Tent of Nations Update”
“Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report, ‘Occupation Inc.,’ that detailed how ‘Israeli and international businesses have helped to build, finance, service, and market settlement communities.’ It added, ‘In many cases, businesses are “settlers” themselves.’”
It is 4:30 a.m. with the moon still high in the sky, but Palestinians from across the West Bank are already disembarking from buses outside the Qalandia checkpoint near Jerusalem. They’re about to begin a day’s work on the other side of the separation wall, in Israel.
Qalandia is one of the busiest checkpoints through which Palestinians with the required work documents can travel from the occupied Palestinian territories to Israel. With unemployment around 26 percent in the West Bank (in Gaza, it’s far worse — among the highest in the world, according to the United Nations), it’s always extremely busy at this early hour, because Palestinians need work, which is more readily available in Israel, especially in construction, manufacturing, and agriculture. . . .
The warehouse-like checkpoint looks like a cattle pen on the inside: Metal bars on either side and above form a narrow chute, enclosing and herding the workers—many of whom have traveled from villages more than an hour away—toward the point where their documents will be checked by Israeli officials. They then wait on the Israeli side for transport from their employers.
For years, these checkpoints were manned by personnel from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Israeli Border Police. But starting in January 2006, gun-toting private security guards joined the soldiers and police. Today, there are 12 checkpoints in the West Bank and two on the Gaza border that use such guards. Israel is slowly privatizing its occupation.
“In recent years, the suppression of Palestine solidarity voices on American campuses has become alarmingly widespread, triggering protests and calls for the protection of academic freedom. ‘The crackdown is a nation-wide phenomenon,’ according to Palestine Legal, an organization dedicated to protecting the First Amendment rights of Palestine solidarity activists.”
In an interview with Palestine Square last week, Palestinian Education Minister, Dr. Sabri Saidam, condemned tactics by US academic institutions “undermining the Palestinian narrative or paying lip service to the occupation.” The minister was in Washington, D.C., at the head of a delegation of 19 Palestinian university representatives to take part in a recently established U.S.-Palestinian Higher Education Dialogue, organized by the State Department and the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem. “This initiative is a result of longstanding cooperation between Palestinian and American academic institutions,” Saidam explained.
In recent years, the suppression of Palestine solidarity voices on American campuses has become alarmingly widespread, triggering protests and calls for the protection of academic freedom. A recent case involved the suspension of a student-led course on Palestine at the University of California Berkeley. “The crackdown is a nationwide phenomenon,” according to Palestine Legal, an organization dedicated to protecting the First Amendment rights of Palestine solidarity activists. According to their latest records, from January 1, 2014, through June 30, 2016, there were 563 incidents of censorship, punishment, or other burdening of advocacy for Palestinian rights across the US, 85% of which targeted students or scholars.
“What does it mean, in practical terms, to spend 49 years, a lifetime, under military rule? Living under military rule mostly means invisible, bureaucratic, daily, violence. It means living under an endless permit regime, which controls Palestinian life from cradle to grave: Israel controls the population registry; Israel controls work permits; Israel controls who can travel abroad — and who cannot; Israel controls who can visit from abroad — and who cannot; in some villages, Israel maintains lists of who can visit the village, or who is allowed to farm which fields. Make a wrong move, and you can lose your freedom of movement, your livelihood, or even the opportunity to marry and build a family with your beloved.”
Israeli leaders blasted the human rights group B’Tselem on Sunday as a traitor and a slanderer after it denounced Israel’s 49-year-long military occupation of the West Bank. The group’s leader last week called the occupation a thriving land grab and a civil rights disgrace that Israel has no intention of ending, no matter what its politicians say.
On Friday, B’Tselem’s executive director addressed the U.N. Security Council and called for “decisive international action” to end the military rule of the occupied territories. The group is respected abroad but finds itself facing withering criticism at home.
Israel’s long-running military rule over the Palestinians, especially the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, have been a target of escalating rhetoric and harsh condemnation by the White House and State Department. The settlements — with a population of 400,000 Jews — are on land in the West Bank that the Palestinians want for a future state.
“We have been living next to the settlement for many years and we don’t do any harm to anyone, we just want to live and to be able to walk with our sheep and have access to the land”
We arrived early, just after sunrise. We met with Abu Sami [pseudonym] and his family along with members of Ta’yush, an joint Israeli and Palestinian organization. Abu Sami lives close to a settlement in the North of Jordan Valley and his family looked very afraid of the consequences of the land action that was about to take place. Abu Sami and his family were preparing to graze their sheep on land that the settlers have taken control of in Khirbet Tell el Himma. The land is privately owned by a Palestinian family and Abu Sami rents it from them to graze his sheep, however, because of frequent harassment from settlers, the family are no longer able to use it. Today was going to be different. [Continue reading . . .]