Separation Barrier strangles al-Walajah

The separation wall next to houses in the village. Photo: Eyal Hareuveni, B'Tselem, 5 November 2010.

B’Tselem Report, 15 Nov 2010

The State Attorney’s Office informed the High Court of Justice that the Ministry of Defense will suspend work on building the Separation Barrier in the area of the village al-Walajah, in southwest Jerusalem. The announcement, which also stated that Israel intended to expropriate in the near future the land intended for construction of the Barrier, was made in the framework of a petition filed by residents of the village in opposition to the Barrier’s route.

The separation wall next to houses in the village. Photo: Eyal Hareuveni, B'Tselem, 5 November 2010.

The separation wall next to houses in the village. Photo: Eyal Hareuveni, B'Tselem, 5 November 2010.

The village of al-Walajah

Al-Walajah lies on a ridge south of Refaim Stream. Prior to 1948, the village was located north of the stream, on land later used to establish Moshav Aminadav. In 1948, some residents of the village fled to the village’s farmland that remained on the other side of the Green Line, on which the present village was built.  In 1967, Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem included about one-third of the village’s land.  Half of the annexed al-Walajah land was expropriated to build the Gilo neighborhood or requisitioned by military order to build the Har Gilo settlement. The village has 2,000 residents, only a minority of whom hold Jerusalem residency.

The village al-Walajah. Photo: Eyal Hareuveni, B'Tselem, 5 November 2010.

The village al-Walajah. Photo: Eyal Hareuveni, B'Tselem, 5 November 2010.

Preventing development of the village

Over the years, the Jerusalem Municipality has not provided services to the village, and city officials’ visits to the village have primarily been to document illegal building or to demolish structures that were built without a permit. In the late 1990s, the villagers organized and began to prepare an outline plan for the village that arranges the existing building in the village, enables the construction of public buildings and roads, and preserves its unique agricultural terraces. The villagers took their plan to municipal officials and to the Civil Administration’s planning committee, but the planning authorities refrained from dealing with the plan during the second intifada. When the intifada ended, the Jerusalem Municipality refused to discuss the plan on the pretext that the Separation Barrier planned in the area would sever the village from the city. In February 2009, the District Planning and Building Committee issued its final denial of the villagers’ plan, contending that the village lies in a green area, on which building is not allowed.

The Separation Barrier in al-Walajah

The route of the Separation Barrier in the area, which runs entirely in the West Bank, has been changed a number of times over the years. The original plan placed the village on the western, “Israeli” side of the Barrier, detaching the village from the Bethlehem Governate, to which the villagers belong and from which they receive their services. A winding route was later established to run around the built-up area of the village, separating it from the village’s farmland. This route created a partition between the village and the nearby Har Gilo settlement , and left a single road along which persons could enter or exit the village, in the direction of the adjacent town of Beit Jala. Traffic on this road was to be controlled by a checkpoint at the village gates. Another change in the route, made at the request of the Cremisan Monastery, placed the monastery and its lands on the western side of the Barrier.

Ancient agricultural terraces on al-Walajah land. Photo: Eyal Hareuveni, B'Tselem, 5 November 2010.

Ancient agricultural terraces on al-Walajah land. Photo: Eyal Hareuveni, B'Tselem, 5 November 2010.

Citing financial constraints, Israel froze construction of the Barrier in the area of al-Walajah until early 2010. When construction recommenced in March 2010, residents of the village petitioned the High Court of Justice, claiming that the construction work was based in part on military requisition orders that were no longer valid, and that some of the work was being carried out on land that had not been seized on the basis of military orders at all. The High Court did not issue a temporary injunction prohibiting work until the petition could be heard, and the defense establishment began to work rapidly to build the Barrier, a wide patrol road, and a nine-meter-high concrete wall. The wall has been competed for the most part and it now surrounds most of the village, with the side of the wall facing the Har Gilo settlement covered by Jerusalem stone and the side facing al-Walajah being exposed concrete. The work has caused enormous damage, visible at a great distance, to the landscape of the Emek Refaim reserve.

Opposition to the route of the Separation Barrier

In a rare step, the Society for the Preservation of Nature in Israel submitted an opinion objecting to the route of the Barrier in the area of al-Walajah. Its opinion described the terraced landscape, which has existed for more than 1,500 years, as a cultural asset that preserves the terrace-cultivation tradition. The SPNI proposed that the area be preserved and declared a world heritage site. It also proposed moving the Barrier’s route close to the road linking the village and Har Gilo to South Jerusalem. The Environmental  Protection Minister, Gilad Erdan, too, requested the minister of justice to refrain from harming the unique terraces in the area.
With the beginning of construction of the Barrier, the Giv’at Yael Company petitioned the High Court, contending that it had purchased land in the area of al-Walajah and that it intended to build a huge settlement that would create urban contiguity between Jerusalem and the Etzion Bloc settlements. The company filed an opinion prepared by Col. (ret.) Dani Tirza, former head of the Separation Barrier planning committee, which supports change in the Barrier’s route. The company has not yet submitted its plan to the planning committees. The Jerusalem Municipality has already announced that it does not object to the company’s plans.

Destruction of ancient agricultural terraces on al-Walajah land. Photo: Eyal Hareuveni, B'Tselem, 5 November 2010.

Destruction of ancient agricultural terraces on al-Walajah land. Photo: Eyal Hareuveni, B'Tselem, 5 November 2010.

Effect of the Barrier on al-Walajah

The Separation Barrier has already caused great damage to the village, and greater damage is anticipated if the Barrier is completed in the area. The construction work on the Separation Barrier has badly damaged the agricultural terraces. Residents have been distanced from their farmland, and completion of the Barrier will detach them from their land, seriously harming one of the main sources of income of the residents, farming.
The Separation Barrier, running adjacent to the villagers’ houses, chokes any possibility of development in the village. The checkpoint planned for the entrance to the village will impair the villagers’ freedom of movement and infringe their right to gain a livelihood, to education, to medical care, and to maintain family ties.


Source

OCHA Report: 1,000 Palestinians Injured By Israeli Forces in 2010

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs occupied Palestinian territory

United Nations, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs occupied Palestinian territory (OCHA)

During the week, Israeli forces injured 23 Palestinian civilians, for the most part during weekly demonstrations. Since the beginning of 2010, Israeli forces have injured 1002 Palestinians, up nearly 38 percent on the similar period in 2009 (727 injuries).

Twenty Palestinians and one Israeli activist were injured during weekly demonstrations in the Ramallah and Bethlehem governorates. These demonstrations were held in protest at the expansion of the Hallamish settlement on Nabi Saleh land and the construction of the Barrier in the villages of Bil’in and Al Ma’sara. In Nabi Saleh, Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters at demonstrators who were marching towards the village centre, resulting in the injury of 17 people. During the incident, one house was badly damaged and its contents were destroyed by fire. Approximately one-quarter of Palestinian injuries by Israeli forces in 2010 have occurred over the course of clashes that erupted during weekly demonstrations against the Barrier, settlement expansion and access restrictions.

Continue for full report here, or view it embedded below.

Ocha Opt Protection of Civilians 2010-10-29 English

University of Michigan Students Protest IDF Soldiers Campus Visit

On October 20 2010, two IDF soldiers came to the University of Michigan campus as part of a national PR campaign by Stand With Us aimed at justifying Israel’s recent atrocities in the Middle East. Students, staff, and community members collectively engaged in a silent walk-out in memory and in solidarity with all of the silenced Palestinian children that were killed by the IDF during Israel’s most recent offensive on the Gaza Strip who are unable to take a stand and give their account today.

A question for the British Foreign Secretary

Stuart Littlewood

Stuart Littlewood, 13 Oct 2010

Dignity, Mavi Marmara and now Irene…

“Mr Hague, is it not your responsibility to keep seaways open?”

“The unbroken thread of Conservative Party support for Israel that has run for nearly a century from the Balfour Declaration to the present day will continue. Although it will no doubt often be tested in the years ahead, it will remain constant, unbroken, and undiminished by the passage of time.” No prize for guessing which leading politician uttered these words.

It was your goodself, Mr Foreign Secretary, back in 2008.

Now for a reality check. I want to share with you, Mr Foreign Secretary, this powerful and moving interview with Lilian Rosengarten by Philip Weiss http://mondoweiss.net/2010/10/we-wouldnt-eat-their-sandwiches-an-interview-with-lillian-rosengarten.html.

75 year-old Lilian, an American, was on board Irene, the Jewish boat to Gaza, when the vessel was assaulted by “dehumanized” Israelis. Lilian and the other passengers were abducted. She was later deported and told never to come back.

It seems to Lilian that the Israelis, in their own best interests, would have been wiser to send a small boat to intercept the catamaran Irene, “no guns, but an ambassador coming on to the deck to say, ‘Sorry folks, we can’t let you through’.”

Instead they chose the terror option against these elderly, unarmed peace voyagers. “We saw 9 or 11 warships, some with guns, and then they were at the front and the back and the side of our little boat — and why? It was inexplicable to me. Inexplicable. That our little catamaran with nine Jews, survivors in their 70s and 80s and all of them human rights activists, that they should send nine boats with guns pointed…”

Lilian and her friends were surrounded by “soldiers dressed to the gills with the boots and the Tasers and the helmets and the gloves with the fingers showing… What war was this? Who were they fighting?… And since I got back I read Gideon Levy saying that each year of occupation has made the Israelis harder. Gradually they have become dehumanized.”

Lilian describes how Israel’s much-vaunted military behaved. “They had kicked Glyn [that’s Glyn Secker, the captain] to the ground to get him off the wheel… Itamar’s being tied up on the other boat, and they’re tasering Yonatan. He was screaming. It was just fascistic. It could have been Haiti under Duvalier, it could have been Chile under Pinochet, it could have been Franco’s Spain.

“I saw first hand the dehumanization and the brutality…and rigid tunnel vision. I could see the truth of the most moral army in the world. No army is moral. And this army, it is brutal, not only to others in Palestine, but to Jews who dissent.”

“Dissent has to be crushed to keep the myth of Israel going…”

So, Mr Foreign Secretary, here was a harmless little sailboat carrying symbolic relief supplies such as a high-tech device for purifying water, children’s books from a German school, backpacks, and musical instruments,.surrounded by 9 or 11 warships. “What is this paranoia?” asks Lilian. “What is this fear?”

Jews who dissent against fellow Jews who have become a military state that seizes Palestinian land and imposes a siege on the entire Palestinian population… “that dissent has to be crushed to keep the myth of Israel going. Look at Yonatan. When a man of conscience decides he can’t bomb Palestinians, and says, no I can’t do it, he is seen as a traitor instead of a patriot. And now it is to the point that a Jew who doesn’t go along with the right position is deported.”

Asked what it means to flee Nazi Germany as a young Jew and now be kicked out of Israel as an older one, Lilian weeps. “I think about my mentor Hans. He is 91. I can’t ever go to visit him. I can’t go there if he dies. And my Palestinian friends, I can’t see them again either… My response is sheer nausea – at the truth of what Israel has become.”

Lilian’s revelations are reinforced by a letter in The Guardian from Glyn Secker, who skippered the little Irene
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/11/idf-violence-on-gaza-boat.

“The Israeli Defence Force says that there was no resistance and no violence in the boarding of The Jewish Boat,” writes Secker. “In fact, when boarded, we cut the engines and I held the wheel with all my strength. With one commando standing by with an electric Taser, two others removed me (I am 66) and threw me hard to the floor.

“Commandos singled out Yonatan and Itamar Shapira, our two refuseniks. Itamar was violently dragged backwards across the safety wires to their boat and restrained dangerously by a commando who pushed his fingers deep into Itamar’s jugular artery. Yonatan was hugging Rami Elhanan, our Bereaved Families passenger. The commander fired his Taser twice into Yonatan’s shoulder, then with deliberation moved Yonatan’s lifejacket aside, placed his Taser directly over Yonatan’s heart and fired. Yonatan’s whole body went into spasm, he let out a fearful scream, crashed across the cockpit and was dragged backwards over the safety wires to the commandos’ boat.”

So there you have it, Mr Foreign Secretary. The military wing of the lawless entity you so admire behaves towards its own brethren in much the same brutal manner as it has done for the last 62 years towards their Arab neighbours, and more recently towards innocent internationals peacefully going about their humanitarian business on the high seas.

It must be a disappointment, Mr Foreign Secretary, that your enthusiasm for Israel and its Zionist project is no longer shared by a British public that’s now better informed and not so easily duped.

We are repeatedly told by ministers that Israel is an important ally, but nobody buys that any more. We are judged globally by the friends we keep, and the “unbroken thread of support for Israel” misguidedly perpetuated by our political leaders only brings us grief and a stained reputation, and this is cause for real anger.

The Irene was a British flagged vessel, but what action has the Foreign Office taken in response to her violation by Israel’s armed thugs? Come to think of it, the Foreign Office was also strangely subdued about the wanton barbarity towards the 28 British nationals aboard the Mavi Marmara and other vessels in the flotilla when it was attacked by the same hooligans with guns blazing. Has proper compensation been paid and property returned?

Dignity, Mavi Marmara and now Irene…menaced, mauled and hijacked by marauding Israelis. The international waters of the Eastern Mediterranean are clearly unsafe. Is it not up to the British government and its UN partners to keep the seaways open and guarantee free movement, as required by numerous treaties, charters and the law?

Stuart Littlewood

Stuart Littlewood

Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. For further information please visit www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk

Glyn Secker’s Testimony

END OF VOYAGE: Israeli forces violently commandeer the “Irene” in international waters and head toward Ashdod instead of Gaza.

Glyn Secker, Captain of the Jewish Boat to Gaza

Getting to Farmagusta was a long long trip, the longest passage we’d made – two nights and three days, and having to manually helm every minute of the way as we never managed to get the auto-pilot working. Usually after such passages there’s the expectation of being able to catch up on sleep, to relax a little and to re-charge ourselves. But we were only too aware that as the last port of call this stop was going to be be the most demanding of all: we had intentionally chosen a port which was not set up for small craft and knew that even finding a berth was going to be a challenge. Then we had an intensive schedule of press conferences, loading the boat with the aid and the banners, re-fueling and watering enough for double the length of the final passage (in case we were forced to return), getting the passengers on board, and all this under the watchful eyes of the port authorities whose attitude we were uncertain of.

We arrived as Sven-Y-Two as a tourist boat. A local fisherman allowed us to use one of his berths and then amazingly organized fuel from the town which he brought in jerry cans, and water, and helped me buy the outboard motor for the Gaza fishermen, spending most of the afternoon driving me round the town looking for a dealer open on the weekend. The port police were friendly but of course bound by their own cumbersome procedures, then surprised us by summoning other officials to come to us rather than us having to find them in town.

Meeting up with the London team and the passengers was straightforward and a mixture of hugs and kisses and anxiety and frenetic action. The press conference the next morning generated its own momentum and and it was then that I really began to feel the whole project lifting off. And it did so with a bang  – the AP team were local Turkish Cypriots and as a matter of routine sought permission from the port authority to film our departure despite all the strictures to keep beneath the radar. Our hearts sank when returning to the port we were greeted by the sight of a police car. Not to arouse suspicion we had invented a story that we had just met up with a group of friends on a separate holiday and that we wished to take them for a spin around the bay. But we then discovered that the regulations required the port police to hold the passports until people return. At this point we realised the story may not hold, and we were at a loss as to what to do. After more discussion between the authorities it became clear that they had probably cottoned on to whom we really were and simply stated  ‘Look, if you all just want to get on the boat and go and not return, that’s fine with us.’ !  So we were then into a frantic scramble to get away before there were any calls to higher authorities or they changed their minds. Hurriedly we laid out all the aid to be photographed, got all the banners out, got all passengers on board and within half an hour had cast off. The friendly fisherman had invited the AP media on board and as we left the port holding aloft the banners he cast off and circled us giving them the shots which went around the world and which alerted the IDF to our imminent arrival.

The weather was still very kind to us and we made better progress than expected. Not wanting to time the encounter with the IDF in the dark we slowed down and when the morning had warmed up I suggested that a good way to de-stress would be to stop the boat and for us all take a swim in the sparkling deep blue water. We put out a long line with a fender on the end and in we all plunged – a swim to remember. Reuvan was amazing, confidently swimming away from the boat and me trying to keep him within reach of the safety line!  I think I was the only one who had any breakfast – home made muesli (wonderful almond nuts).

And then finally after all these days and weeks of anticipation we identified a frigate on the horizon. It shadowed us for some considerable time, keeping on our port side about  five miles off. Then we saw a number of  smaller craft lined up and realized that the encounter was approaching. We rehearsed our strategies and waited, with adrenalin levels slowly rising. Shortly there came a call on Ch 16 over the VHF from the frigate asking us our intentions and the flag of the boat. I informed them that we were heading for Gaza port, that we were in international waters and had no intention of entering Israeli waters. They replied that Gaza was within a prohibited area and that we should change our course. I responded by stating that that did not accord with international law, that we were unarmed, had no materials which could be put to military use, that we carried a consignment of aid for Gaza and that we expected safe passage. They then warned us that they would intercept us, that this could be dangerous for the crew and damaging for the boat. I reiterated that as a British flagged boat they had no legal right to intercept us and that we intended to maintain our course to Gaza. There was no reply and we continued on our passage for perhaps another twenty minutes – presumably they were waiting for us to cross the boundary of their unilaterally declared prohibited zone.

There then developed a sight which will remain with me for the rest of my life – with the frigate in the background, two gunboats, two landing craft and four high powered ribs spread out in a semi-circle speeding towards us at perhaps 35 knots, with their bow waves and wakes flashing in the sunshine. It was surreal, it was like an action movie, and entranced by the sight I had to remind myself this was actually happening – this overwhelming force for a 9.7 metre 40 yr. old boat, the majority of its Jewish occupants over 60 years old, with no weapons and a publicized policy of passive resistance.

The next we knew there were two ribs very close alongside with the commander on a megaphone again warning us of the dangers if they boarded us. I reiterated our legal rights,  and for what it was worth I accelerated, just to make a point that outpacing them was fantasy. Then as planned Itamar addressed the commandos in Hebrew and English, calling on them not to obey the orders to take actions which are illegal under international law. The ribs closed in, and the boarding commenced.

All the crew and passengers (apart from myself as I was steering) held hands.They boarded us simultaneously from both sides. At that moment we cut the engines and sat over the access points to the cut offs to prevent them restarting the engines. The wheel is on the starboard side of the boat. I was surrounded by three commandos, I held on to the wheel as hard as I could. It reminded me of being on violent picket lines with the police trying to break through. One grabbed my left arm, another my right arm. The third stood by with a Tazer gun. After a struggle they managed to prize my hands from the wheel and threw me down on the floor. I managed to crawl behind them and remove the engine starter keys but one of them saw me and prized the keys from my hands.

On the opposite side of the cockpit Yonatan Shapira and his brother Itamar had been identified by the IDF commander in charge. He sought to separate them from the others. Yonatan clasped Rami in a hug to prevent himself being removed. The senior officer then moved one sideYonatan’s lifejacket covering his left breast, placed a Tazer gun in contact with his clothing and fired it directly into his heart. Yonatan let out a dreadful scream and the force of the Tazer caused him to lose control of his muscles. He was pulled off Rami and across the cockpit to the middle. He was then hit twice more by the Tazer gun, screaming out again.  Both he and Itamar were forcefully pulled off our boat  onto the IDF rib on port side.They were driven at very high speed over the waters, which had now become moderately rough (the wind had increased to a F4) and it would have been very uncomfortable especially for Yonatan still recovering from the Tazer shocks. They were taken to the frigate where they were treated normally, then to shore and released on bail without charges.

Meanwhile I had turned off the fuel supply to the engines. After some time (the engines only burn 1 1/2 litres per hour) when the  fuel in the pipes had been used up the port engine started to fail. (The starboard fuel shut-off failed to work). After many attempts to restart the engine the IDF took the boat in tow. The boat is designed to go through the water at a maximum speed of about 8 knots. They towed us through the rough waters at 12 – 14 knots. The boat was bouncing about violently, it was dangerous for the remaining passengers and crew, including Reuvan, our 82 year old holocaust survivor. We all sustained bruises and the passage to Ashdod was exhausting. There was something like eight commandos on the boat in addition to ourselves so it was grossly overloaded. It was surprising that the boat did not begin to break up, the whole structure was groaning and making cracking sounds. It was clear that they intended to seriously mistreat the boat. During  the passage they tore down all the banners and flags – including the red ensign (the UK flag) which legally has to be displayed in all foreign waters.

As a gesture of defiance I decided to cook lunch! Not easy in the circumstance but I managed to produce omlett (with garlic) sandwiches which Reuvan, Lillian and I think Eli and I shared. Whilst in the galley I took the opportunity of chucking out of the window the carving knife, the bread knife, a chisel and two hammers from the tool box, remembering that similar items had been photographed as evidence of weapons on previous boats.

I’d like to point out that in the USA it is illegal for the police or the army to fire Tazers directly into the heart as there have been a number of cases of heart failure and death as a result of such targeting.

The fact that Yonatan was released without charge makes it very clear that the use of the Tazer on him was purely malicious.

Contrary to IDF reports, there was therefore, considerable resistance, be it non-violent, to the IDF’s illegal hijacking of our boat, and there was considerable, unprovoked and very dangerous violence perpetrated by the IDF.

On arriving at Ashdod we were greeted by perhaps 100 people in uniforms of one sort or another within an a secure area created by ships containers. We were obliged to pass through a tent where we were subjected to detailed body searches and luggage searches. I was the last out as I insisted on making an inventory of the boat valuables, though I was unable to get any officer to countersign it it, it was taken by a female officer from I believe their foreign office, but this was not clear. Before I was allowed back on the boat to do the inventory it was searched, including the use of a dog. None of us of course had any illegal drugs, but I have to admit of a nervous moment when someone asked me if any previous owner might have stashed anything away – this hadn’t occurred to me. Whilst waiting I was approached by a Major who stated that he was in charge of  Gaza boarder security and he offered to transport our aid to Gaza. He arranged for us to go onto the boat, I extracted the aid from the lockers and he placed it where he could find it later. The boat was in a state of chaos, having been ransacked by those searching it. I don’t suppose they intend clearing out the fridge and other food, so god knows what it will be like after a few weeks in what is still a hot time of year. Combined with the split bellows on the loo pump whoever goes on the boat next will need a good face mask and a strong stomach.

I was taken to the Immigration and Boarder Authority where I experienced a truly Kafkaesque moment. We were presented with a form to sign which stated that I was due to be deported being suspected of residing in Israel illegally. When I pointed out that the only reason I was in Israel at all was that the IDF had kidnapped me and forcefully brought me into Israel on the orders of the government, the reply was that it did not matter who had brought me in, but that now I was there I was there without permission and so due for deportation. They were not amused by my laughter.

The regulations allowed for a rapid departure at their expense if I signed the form, but I was anxious not to be seen to recognize the Israeli law creating the blockade and therefore the basis for deportation.Then equally bizarrely, they stated that I could add whatever statement I wished to the form and could have a photocopy, so I added a clause stating that I did not recognize the legal basis for the deportation as it had no basis in international law, and duly signed.

Eventually the lawyers then arrived – really great people. I checked that my understanding of the law was correct and that if I had opted to go to court to appeal the deportation the result would have been the same and they confirmed I had it right. The IDF had smashed up the sat phone I had hired in front of me. I hope they will explain to the insurance company why they had not just taken it so that it could be returned later.

I was then taken to the detention centre at Ben Gurion airport. Again we and our luggage were all subject to yet more detailed searches. The smallness of the minds of those whose job it is day in and day out to carry out these numbing tasks can only be guessed at. Then, I was alone with Vash, banged up for the night – banged being a very appropriate word describing the door slam behind you. Having many times visited clients in detention or prison as a social worker it was odd indeed being on the other end but my complete self confidence in the absolute correctness of our principles and our understanding of international law never deserted me.

Despite asking for water I was left without a drink for 12 hours. When I asked again in the morning I was told to drink the tap water – which was warm. Later they provided a cup of tea and a roll and a towel, so I was able to shower. The officers who were to take me to the airport were Ethiopian Jews and were required to put me in ankle cuffs for the journey. I told them it was not at all necessary – they were rather embarrassed and apologized but said they were obliged to use them. At least they carried my bag to the minibus. I was taken directly to the plane on the tarmac and had to climb a metal staircase up to the access, the cuff chain clanking on the steps – reminded me of Winton Marsarlis’s song about the chain gangs.

They removed the cuffs out of sight of the other passengers and then another Kafqeresque moment when I am welcomed aboard by the chief steward as any other passenger, informed that there will be a meal and drinks provided and wished me a comfortable journey! There was sophisticated inflight entertainment – it was a Boeing 777 – but there was no news service at all, very odd, I was in an El Al bubble.

I didn’t think anyone at home knew of my flight arrival time as I didn’t know it until I was on the plane, but the lawyers must have told Miri and it was absolutely great, in fact overwhelming, to be greeted by Vanessa and a welcome party of close friends – amazing, what a two days, never to be forgotten.

Its fantastic coming back to amazing support that’s buzzing.  I’m overwhelmed with the results I think it was really successful.  We made our point to the world very powerfully that there are probably hundreds of thousands of Jews around the world who are appalled at the Israeli policies to the Palestinians; the violations of their humanity and their human rights.

Glyn Secker, Captain of the Jewish Boat to Gaza. This article was first published at Jewish Boat to Gaza here.

Israelis, Internationals Take Action Against Silwan Demolitions

Take Action Against Silwan Demolitions. (June 26, 2010, Rebecca Fudala)

Palestine Monitor, 26 June 2010
Hundreds of Israelis joined Palestinians and international peace activists in the streets of Silwan, East Jerusalem yesterday in protest against the decision to destroy 22 Palestinian homes. The historic show of support coincides with UN and US condemnation of the Municipality‘s provocative scheme. Written by Michael Carpenter. Photography by Rebecca Fudala.

Take Action Against Silwan Demolitions. (June 26, 2010, Rebecca Fudala)

Take Action Against Silwan Demolitions. (June 26, 2010, Rebecca Fudala)

“The state of Israel has taken a bad path in the last several decades, and we are here to say that not all Israelis support it.” Said Shira Wilkof, one of seven principle organisers of the Israeli-led protests in Sheikh Jarrah. This week they lent their support to the people of Silwan. Speaking just before the march began, she explained, “This is going to be one of the biggest demonstrations in one of the most sensitive and complex neighbourhoods where I would say some of the most evil occupation is taking place. For me, this is an historic event, because Israelis do not come to these areas, and today we expect between four and five hundred.”

Estimates say at least 500 protesters joined the march. As the demonstrators passed, Palestinians cheered from their windows and balconies.

Under international law, East Jerusalem belongs to the Palestinians, but the since the 1967 war, Israel has occupied the city and conducted an illegal campaign of transferring its own population onto the Palestinian side.

Hajj Fahkri Abu Diab, head of the popular committee of Silwan.

Hajj Fahkri Abu Diab, head of the popular committee of Silwan.

Silwan residents. The baby’s shirt reads ’I love you Silwan’.

Silwan residents. The baby’s shirt reads ’I love you Silwan’.

The IDF monitor proceedings.

The IDF monitor proceedings.

Silwan is a particularly contentious area of East Jerusalem, because the beautiful valley neighbourhood lies just south of the old city and on top of the ancient remains of the 3000-year old city of David. Jewish development companies have wedged settlers into the Palestinian neighbourhood and funded archaeological digging where Palestinian buildings once stood. Earlier this week, after several years of controversy, the city formally approved an incendiary plan to raze 22 homes in the el-Bustan block of Silwan to make way for tourist sites and urban development.

Settlers observe from a distance.

Settlers observe from a distance.

Local Palestinians and Israeli peace activists, with international support, hope to reverse the decision. The event was a success by both its size and peaceful nature, but this does not mean the houses of Silwan will be saved.

“I have no expectations or hope from the current government or the municipality,” Shira says sadly. Referring more broadly to the last few decades, she laments, “Its basically a collective suicide what we’re doing. Its like Barbara Tuchman’s famous book The March of Folly. She analysed the causes of the first World War, and she analysed the stupid actions taken by governments that led to the inevitability of destruction.”

Israeli Pirate Flag Silwan - (June 26 2010, Rebecca Fudala)

Silwan - Palestine Flag  (June 26 2010, Rebecca Fudala)

Silwan - Palestine Flag (June 26 2010, Rebecca Fudala)

Children spread the message. (June 26 2010, Rebecca Fudala)

Children spread the message. (June 26 2010, Rebecca Fudala)

Read more about house demolitions here http://www.icahd.org/eng/

Source: Palestine Monitor

Israeli District Attorney orders reopening of investigation into shooting of Tristan Anderson

Marian Houk, 23 June 2010

In response to an appeal, the Israeli District Attorney has reportedly today ordered the police to reopen their investigation into the shooting that critically injured American activist, Tristan Anderson, during an anti-Wall protest in the West Bank village of Ni’ilin on March 13th, 2009.

Tristan Anderson, a US citizen volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement in Palestine, has been critically wounded after being shot in the head by the IDF. Tristan is a well-known alter-globalization activist, and a friend of Brad Will.

Tristan Anderson, a US citizen volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement in Palestine, has been critically wounded after being shot in the head by the IDF. Tristan is a well-known alter-globalization activist, and a friend of Brad Will.

Anderson was hit in the face by a high velocity tear gas projectile shot by an Israeli Border Police officer. He was hospitalized for more than a year in Israel, and has just returned to the U.S. with irreversible brain damage.

The case was closed earlier this year on grounds of “lack of wrongdoing”.

The appeal, filed on behalf of Anderson’s family by attorneys Michael Sfard and Ido Tamari, argued that an independent investigation showed that the original police investigation was “fundamentally flawed and negligent”.

A statement sent by email from activist Jonathan Pollack said that “The police decided to close the case despite the fact that the investigating team had never visited the scene of the shooting, and as a result questioned officers who had nothing to do with Anderson’s shooting and, in fact, could have had nothing to do with the shooting, as there was no direct line of fire between where they were positioned and were Anderson was shot. A second Border Police crew, which was located in the area where Anderson was shot from according to all civilian eye witnesses, was never questioned at all. The force’s commanders, who carry responsibility for the shooting were also not held accountable”.

In the statement, Attorney Michael Sfard is quoted as saying that “With this kind of negligence, it is no wonder that the world does not trust Israeli investigations. Our own independent investigation was easily able to show, despite our meager resources, that the shooting was done directly at Anderson and with absolutely no justification. We will not rest until the shooter is brought to justice”.

A Power Point presentation which demonstrates what eye witnesses said happened, according to the independent investigation, can be viewed here.

  • Marian Houk, a writer, reporter, journalist and analyst with long experience at the United Nations — in New York and in Geneva and more — as well as with the Middle East. She has reported on, and for a time also worked for, the United Nations. She is a former President of the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) at UNHQ/NY (1986), and is currently based in Jerusalem.
  • Marian Houk is the Editor of UN-Truth news site.

Why Are Jews Persecuted?

The wording is the German word for Jew (Jude), written in mock-Hebrew script. (photo: Daniel Ullrich, Threedots)

Jayne Gardener, June, 10th, 2010

I always used to wonder what it was about Jews that made people throughout history despise them. If they were indeed “God’s chosen” I thought, they had to be the unluckiest people in the history of the world.

Why were they persecuted throughout history?

Why had the Nazis herded them into cattle cars and taken them to “extermination camps” to dispose once and for all of the “Jewish problem?”

I suddenly recognized that if Hitler had developed a “Final Solution” to the Jewish question, that there had to have been a “Jewish Problem.” Could the Jews have in any way behaved in such a manner that would make the countries in which they resided turn against them, or were they just unfortunate, innocent victims?

I set out to find answers for my questions, mainly turning to the Internet, but also reading various books on the subject. What I found became increasingly disturbing to me.
I had not known that throughout history, the Jews had been expelled from 79 countries, some countries more than once.

I had not known that many of the claims they made about the Holocaust that I had believed unquestioningly for so long were in fact fraudulent.

The books I had read and the movies I had seen about the “Holocaust” and wept over were nothing but thinly veiled attempts to garner unwavering sympathy for the state of Israel and an excuse to extort billions of dollars from Germany and 1.25 billion dollars from the Swiss banks.

I discovered that a book I had read many times as a teenager and cried about, Anne Frank’s Diary, had been at least partially written by someone other than Anne Frank.

I learned that the confessions at the Nuremburg Trials and the executions of so many German “war criminals” were  extracted under torture and the defendants were being tried, judged and condemned by their very accusers.

I learned about the “false flag” operations, especially the Lavon affair and the tragedy of the USS Liberty, an American ship that was attacked by the Israelis during the 1967 war. 34 young American men were killed and many more wounded.

To add insult to injury, the Israelis claimed that it was simply an unfortunate case of mistaken identity, something the survivors of the Liberty have always vehemently denied. They, however, were threatened with court martial if they were ever to tell their stories.

I learned about the Jonathan Pollard spy case and other incidents of Israeli Jews spying against their supposed “closest ally.”

I became shocked and horrified as I learned about the treatment of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories at the hands of the Israeli Defense Forces and the Jewish settlers. Israel purports to be the only democracy in the middle east, but it’s only a democracy for Jews. Non-Jews are not considered equal.

I was saddened to see pictures of innocent Palestinian children burned beyond recognition or suffering from serious gunshot wounds after being targeted by the IDF for no other reason than that they are Palestinian.

I found out about the Jewish history of avariciousness, larceny, lying, manipulation and their questionable and usurious business practices.

I learned about their roles in the radical homosexual movement, the radical feminist movement, the pornography industry as well as their over-representation in the abortion industry.
I discovered their role in organized crime, in the slave trade, in the civil rights movement and in Communism, an ideology that is responsible for the deaths of untold millions and the repression of many millions more.

I learned that it was Jewish supremacists behind the war against Christianity and Christmas. It is they who want God out of the Pledge of Allegiance and all symbols of Christianity removed from public life.
They have driven Christianity from the public schools despite Christianity being the majority religion.
They have taken Christmas out of the public school calendar despite the fact that it is a statutory holiday and it is named Christmas.

I read about the anti-Gentilism and hatefulness of the Babylonian Talmud and their utter disrespect for, and hostility towards Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary and Christianity and Christians in general.
I learned about their “chutzpah” in claiming that Gentile lives were worth no more than the lives of barnyard animals but that they considered Jewish lives to be akin to God Himself. It’s okay to steal from a Gentile or to kill a Gentile, but Jewish lives are sacred.

I learned of their control of the majority of wealth, the media and academia despite them making up less than 2% of the population (even lower in Canada).

They are behind the ridiculous political correctness movement and hate crime legislation that was drafted so as to silence anyone who might figure out their agenda and attempt to shed light on it.
Men like German Rudolf, David Irving and many more, previously recognized as great historians, were arrested, charged with hate crimes and incarcerated simply for having made academic inquiry into a specific period of history.

Other so called “revisionists” or “holocaust deniers” have been intimidated, harassed, assaulted and smeared simply for trying to get at the truth.

It is patently clear that the war in Iraq is due solely to Israel wanting to hobble her enemies by destabilizing their governments in order to achieve hegemony in the middle east.

It would be unthinkable for Israeli Jews to die for this cause, so they manipulated the US into the war with the help of the Jewish Zionist “Israel firsters” in the Bush administration in order that the blood of way too many young American men and women is shed instead.

It is they who control the middle eastern foreign policy of the most powerful country in the world, the USA. It is they who control congress, the senate and the puppet president, George W. Bush. They have such control in movies and television that we are now subjected to endless programs and Hollywood movies that mock Christianity, Christian values and degrade the traditional family.

After sober reflection on what I had discovered about Jewish supremacy and Zionism, I had to abandon all my previously held notions as to the history of Jewish persecution.
What I have trouble understanding is why they continue this behavior in whichever society they live, knowing that eventually they will overplay their hand and their perfidy will be exposed yet again.Has history taught them nothing?

As more and more people become aware of what is going on and who is responsible for it, anger is going to rise as it already has in the former Soviet Union and eastern European countries.

They may control television, movies and the print media, but they don’t control the internet. At least not yet. Blogs and websites devoted to “outing” the Jewish supremacists will ultimately be their downfall.

“Anti-Semitic” — It’s a Trick!   We [Jews] always use it!

Editors Note: This article was originally written Feb, 19th, 2008. But still holds relevance to this day.

Israel’s cult of victimhood

Flotillaattack-www.internethaber.com

Jonathan Cook
June 9, 2010

Why are Israelis so indignant at the international outrage that has greeted their country’s lethal attack last week on a flotilla of civilian ships taking aid to Gaza?

Israelis have not responded in any of the ways we might have expected. There has been little soul-searching about the morality, let alone legality, of soldiers invading ships in international waters and killing civilians. In the main, Israelis have not been interested in asking tough questions of their political and military leaders about why the incident was handled so badly. And only a few commentators appear concerned about the diplomatic fall-out.

Activists, tend to an Israeli commando who attacked Mavi Marmara Flotilla May 31, 2010 (Photo:internethaber.com)

Instead, Israelis are engaged in a Kafkaesque conversation in which the military attack on the civilian ships is characterised as a legitimate “act of self-defence”, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it, and the killing of nine aid activists is transformed into an attempted “lynching of our soldiers” by terrorists.

Benny Begin, a government minister whose famous father, Menachem, became an Israeli prime minister after being what today would be called a terrorist as the leader of the notorious Irgun militia, told BBC World TV that the commandos had been viciously assaulted after “arriving almost barefoot”. Ynet, Israel’s most popular news website, meanwhile, reported that the commandos had been “ambushed”.

This strange discourse can only be deciphered if we understand the two apparently contradictory themes that have come to dominate the emotional landscape of Israel. The first is a trenchant belief that Israel exists to realise Jewish power; the second is an equally strong sense that Israel embodies the Jewish people’s collective experience as the eternal victims of history.

Israelis are not entirely unaware of this paradoxical state of mind, sometimes referring to it as the “shooting and crying” syndrome.

It is the reason, for example, that most believe their army is the “most moral in the world”. The “soldier as victim” has been given dramatic form in Gilad Shalit, the “innocent” soldier held by Hamas for the past four years who, when he was captured, was enforcing Israel’s illegal occupation of Gaza.

One commentator in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper summed up the feelings of Israelis brought to the fore by the flotilla episode as the “helplessness of a poor lonely victim, confronting the rage of a lynch mob and frantically realising that these are his last moments”. This “psychosis”, as he called it, is not surprising: it derives from the sanctified place of the Holocaust in the Israeli education system.

The Holocaust’s lesson for most Israelis is not a universal one that might inspire them to oppose racism, or fanatical dictators or the bullying herd mentality that can all too quickly grip nations, or even state-sponsored genocide.

Instead, Israelis have been taught to see in the Holocaust a different message: that the world is plagued by a unique and ineradicable hatred of Jews, and that the only safety for the Jewish people is to be found in the creation of a super-power Jewish state that answers to no one. Put bluntly, Israel’s motto is: only Jewish power can prevent Jewish victimhood.

That is why Israel acquired a nuclear weapon as fast it could, and why it is now marshalling every effort to stop any other state in the region from breaking its nuclear monopoly. It is also why the Israeli programme’s sole whistle-blower, Mordechai Vanunu, is a pariah 24 years after committing his “offence”. Six years on from his release to a form of loose house arrest, his hounding by the authorities — he was jailed again last month for talking to foreigners — has attracted absolutely no interest or sympathy in Israel.

If Mr Vanunu’s continuing abuse highlights Israel’s oppressive desire for Jewish power, Israelis’ self-righteousness about their navy’s attack on the Gaza flotilla reveals the flipside of this pyschosis.

The angry demonstrations sweeping the country against the world’s denunciations; the calls to revoke the citizenship of the Israeli Arab MP on board — or worse, to execute her — for treason; and the local media’s endless recycling of the soldiers’ testimonies of being “bullied” by the activists demonstrate the desperate need of Israelis to justify every injustice or atrocity while clinging to the illusion of victimhood.

The lessons imbibed from this episode — like the lessons Israelis learnt from the Goldstone report last year into the war crimes committed during Israel’s attack on Gaza, or the international criticisms of the massive firepower unleashed on Lebanon before that — are the same: that the world hates us, and that we are alone.

If the confrontation with the activists on the flotilla has proved to Israelis that the unarmed passengers were really terrorists, the world’s refusal to stay quiet has confirmed what Israelis already knew: that, deep down, non-Jews are all really anti-Semites.

Meanwhile, the lesson the rest of us need to draw from the deadly commando raid is that the world can no longer afford to indulge these delusions.

  • Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.