Palestinian Hunger-strikers' Health Deteriorating After 38 Days, Say Prisoners

One inmate says strikers in Israeli prisons being held in small rooms with filthy sheets infested with bugs, not able to change clothing

The medical condition of dozens of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners is deteriorating and many more prisoners have been hospitalized over the past two days, representatives of the strikers said Wednesday.
Some 40 prisoners had been moved from the Ohalei Kedar Prison to hospitals around the country, and 20 have been taken from Hadarim Prison to Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Administration statement.
Lawyers who had met with some of the prisoners said the information accumulating from the prisons is very worrisome and indicates especially severe detention conditions. In addition to prisoner transfers being made under difficult conditions, the Palestinian Prisoners Club quoted prisoner Mohammed Alul, who has been on hunger strike since the beginning (38 days), saying the prisoners were being held in small rooms with filthy sheets that are filled with bugs and aren’t able to change clothing.
Attorney Hanan Alhatib said the Israel Prison Service is not supplying information about the prisoners’ conditions, and that ambulances are now stationed regularly at the prisons to bring prisoners to the hospital or to the prison clinic.
Expected crisis to be settled during Trump visit
The prisoners’ families and the Palestinian Prisoners Administration expressed great disappointment that the crisis wasn’t settled during the visit of U.S. President Donald Trump, because it is known there were efforts to exert some international pressure to end the strike during his stay. Hunger strike leader Karim Yunes sent a message through his brother, an attorney, stressing that the strike would continue until the prisoners’ demands are met. According to Yunes, the authorities are demanding that the strike stop before the demands are discussed.
The prisoners’ two primary demands are for more frequent family visits and for prisoners to be allowed to speak to their families on public phones under supervision.
Meanwhile, MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint List) and the Adalah Center for Arab Minority Rights petitioned the High Court of Justice on Wednesday against a decision by the Knesset House Committee, along with the orders of the Prison Service Commission, to forbid MKs from visiting security prisoners. The petitioners demanded that the prison service allow Jabareen to immediately visit Marwan Barghouti, one of the hunger strikers’ leaders. Attorney Muna Haddad of Adalah argued that the visits were crucial and that blocking them frustrates proper parliamentary oversight of the prisoner’s detention conditions, which, she noted, is even more important during a hunger strike.
“The reports and complaints being received of violations of the prisoners’ rights at this time require parliamentary inspection. The refusal to enable a meeting with Barghouti, with no explanation and in violation of the law, constitutes a serious undermining of an MK’s right to travel freely throughout the country. In addition, the refusal undermines the right to operate freely and independently in the course of performing his duties.
“We are getting reports of serious violations of the hunger-striking prisoners’ rights, and it is my right and my duty to check these things out as part of my work as an MK,” said Jabareen. “It is my job as an elected official to monitor the Israel Prison Service’s conduct and it is inconceivable to forbid me to visit prisoners.”

Jack Khoury

Haaretz Correspondent

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.791766Schermata 2017 05 25 alle 23.11.50

Trump Exposed the Fantasy of Netanyahu's 'Undivided Jerusalem'

Netanyahu's bullying, bluster and hasbara cannot change the empirical facts: Jerusalem is more binational, more contested and more divided than at any point since 1967

In the run-up to President Trump’s visit, there was a public altercation between Israel and State Department officials regarding the President’s visit to the Western Wall. The American officials refused to arrange for Prime Minister Netanyahu to accompany the president, asserting that the Western Wall is not in Israeli territory. Israel expressed righteous indignation, and tempers flared.
The position expressed by the State Department was not new, and not only expresses the longstanding policy of the United States since 1967, but a broad international consensus: East Jerusalem is not part of the “indivisible capital of Israel”, but is territory occupied by Israel. But the uncertain status of Jerusalem is not limited to East Jerusalem, but extends to the West of the city as well.

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Why Jerusalem Would Be Better Off Divided

The desperate attempts to portray the city as united are just that – desperate. The next time a politician says they want to divide the city, they should go ahead and do it

I was born in Jerusalem after the Six-Day War, and spent my whole life living with the lie of its unification. Growing up in the capital in the 1980s and ’90s, I knew there was no more transparent political lie than that of “the united city.” This statement may have reflected the desires of certain Jerusalemites (and of some who didn’t bother to live there), but it certainly had no relation to the reality of life.
The city was and remains divided. For us, its unification meant, at most, that – to the total consternation of our horrified parents – my girlfriends and I went into the Old City to buy sharwals. And while we did go to the “Old City” occasionally, we had absolutely no idea how to get to the Arab villages that were annexed to the city. It was also clear to everyone that these tens of villages – which hadn’t even been part of Jordanian Jerusalem – may have been under the huge jurisdiction of the Jerusalem municipality, but there certainly wasn’t any “unification” between Jerusalem as it was pre-1967 and these villages.

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A Jubilee of Failure

Fifty years is enough time to judge Israel on its success in Jerusalem, and the picture is one of striking failure

This week, as around every Jerusalem Day, Israeli leaders swore in the city’s name that it would never again be divided, and promised a rose-colored future for the capital and its inhabitants.
At the opening ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the city’s reunification, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “here we stand in gratification and glory, in Jerusalem — our pride and joy, our people’s majesty, our eternal and united capital forever and ever.” Mayor Nir Barkat spoke, as usual, about the city’s “great momentum,” which can be seen “in the enormous investment in infrastructure, the new train lines and the cable network that will make ancient Jerusalem accessible,” he said.
It was left to President Reuven Rivlin, who in contrast to Netanyahu and Barkat would like to see a united and equitable Jerusalem as part of his one-state vision, to admit that “Between the western part of the city and its east there is still an abyss of unbearable differences in poverty rates, an abyss of huge gaps in infrastructure, an abyss of prolonged neglect.”
The time for pompous statements about unified Jerusalem — or, alternately, for breast-beating and penance — has passed. Israeli governments and Jerusalem city councils through the generations have had enough time to correct the injustice, to stop the neglect, to eradicate poverty and to launch large projects that would genuinely unite the city. Israel and Jerusalem have had a long time to equalize the infrastructure and resources in all the city’s neighborhoods and for all its residents, regardless of religion or ethnicity.
Fifty years is enough time to judge Israel on its success in Jerusalem, and the picture is one of striking failure. It is the only Western capital in which 40 percent of residents are not citizens of the country. In East Jerusalem, 80 percent of the population is below the poverty line and 80 percent of the homes are built illegally. More than 90 percent of East Jerusalem high-school students take the Palestinian matriculation exams, not the Israeli bagrut. Jerusalem has two public transportation systems, two electric companies, two types of civil status and two separate sets of laws. It’s also the only world capital that is recognized by almost no other country or international organization, and that does not have a single embassy within its borders. Even U.S. President Donald Trump refused to redeem Jerusalem from this nonrecognition.
On Wednesday, as on every Jerusalem Day, the flag parade of youngsters from the religious-Zionist community, a violent, racist, ultranationalist affair, marched through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter. This year the marchers were even allowed to circumnavigate the Old City, to the Dung Gate, in a route that traversed the main streets of East Jerusalem. This, to prove to everyone just who controls the city. But demonstrations of power and control cannot erase the fact that Jerusalem is a divided city, and that the time has come to formulate a political solution that will reflect the reality in Jerusalem, and not the clichés and slogans that envelop it.

Haaretz Editorial

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/editorial/1.791770Schermata 2017 05 25 alle 23.01.57

Donald Trump Likes Muslims, but Only a Certain Type

Judging from his comments, it seems unlikely that Trump or even the ‘experts’ he has surrounded himself with know or care much about the Sunni-Shi’ite divide he’s further stoking

BERLIN – Donald Trump completed his first Middle East tour this week – if it’s appropriate to call visiting Saudi Arabia and Israel a tour – and a few things about his intensions seemed to clarify. He now likes Muslims, but only a certain type. Namely, the Saudi variety, particularly the royals, who are among the few people in the world who live as opulently as he does.
Trump’s warm embrace of Saudi Arabia, sealed with a sword dance, a gold medallion for Trump’s neck, and a Strategic Vision Document with a $110 billion weapons-deal attached, came with a particularly caustic condemnation of Iran. No need, apparently, to blur this black-and-white map of the world according to Trump, to acknowledge that as the U.S. president landed in Saudi Arabia, 75 percent of Iranians had voted to reject hard-line conservatives and award another term to their moderate president, Hassan Rohani.
No reason to consider engagement with the Islamic Republic and treat the 2015 nuclear deal as a sign of an Iran looking for a way back to the international community without losing too much of what it views as its autonomy, as its right to become a nuclear power. To do so would be to fail at smashing the legacy of former U.S. President Barack Obama, which Trump is as dedicated to as almost anything else.
While no honest observer of the region should pretend that Iran isn’t meddling in regional affairs and funding problematic actors, it’s not clear what if anything is achieved by staging a virtual return to George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” rhetoric of 15 years ago. Indeed, pointing the finger at Iran did little to curb its enthusiasm for tossing funds and arms at Hamas and Hezbollah, or suddenly convince Iran that it’s time to roll back all dreams of exporting the Islamic Revolution.
Questioning Tehran’s legitimacy
Judging from Trump’s speech and everything that led up to it, it doesn’t seem likely that the president or even the “experts” he has surrounded himself with know or care much about the Sunni-Shi’ite divide in the Muslim world. To embrace Saudi Arabia while urging regime change in Iran – in Sunday’s speech he called on the world to isolate Iran and “pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they so richly deserve” – is essentially to tell the entire world that the Iranian regime has no legitimacy.
It also tells the Middle East that Wahhabism, one of the more extreme forms of Sunni Islam, is fine, but Shi’ism, rooted in Iran (and Iraq) and serving as the core identity of more than 200 million Muslims, is not. It sweeps under the rug the fact that Wahhabism spawned Al-Qaida as well as ISIS. And if Trump is all about destroying ISIS, as he has promised to do, the group’s address, he should know, is not in Tehran.
While Shi’ites are a minority among Muslims, in many corners of the world where it counts they are major players with whom America should want to remain engaged and to whom Washington should ideally appear to be a fair broker. America is still entangled in Iraq, where Shi’ites are the majority and trying to walk a fine line between Washington and Tehran, maintaining relations with both. Although it might seem like the sectarianism there is out of America’s hands, actually the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 and the bungled post-Saddam period unleashed it like never before – a matter for which Washington is at least partly responsible.
Shi’ites are also major players in Lebanon and have sizable minorities in countries such as Pakistan, India and Turkey. The Houthi rebels in Yemen are Shi’ite, and the efforts to quash them is a good deal of what U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia will go to. More than 10,000 civilians have already died in that conflict, according to a recent UN count, but that war gets even less empathetic, less frequent coverage than the war in Syria. (The Shi’ite connection of the Alawites, it’s worth remembering, is also an important thing that connects Iran to the Assad regime.)
Legacy of the travel ban
Although it’s problematic to generalize, Shi’ites tend to identify with Iran and view an attack on Iran as an attack on the spiritual mother ship. To be sure, for some Shi’ites, geography, language and even ethnicity put the Farsi-speaking Persians of the Islamic Republic quite far from them. But ultimately, for Shi’ites the world over, it’s likely to look like Trump isn’t even going to try to level the playing field in his administration, although that should come as no surprise.
Trump has never shown much interest in nuance when it comes to the Islamic world, making utterances on the campaign trial like “I think Islam hates,” not to mention his travel ban and the original proposal he made in the fall of 2015. He called for a “complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
Now that a ban has been rolled out – to somewhat humiliating effect, as Trump can’t get it past the courts – it’s fascinating to see whom it targets. It includes Iran, even though no major attack on American soil has been committed by an Iranian or an immigrant from Iran. The ban doesn’t include Saudi Arabia, even though 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were from the kingdom, as of course was Osama bin Laden.
Clearly the president is on a learning curve and has been brought into line with previous U.S. presidents, Republican and Democrat, who view Saudi Arabia as a trusted ally. But if only the Saudi royal family and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are doing the teaching, Trump is likely to end up with a Middle East policy that’s no more successful than his predecessor’s, and very likely much worse.

Ilene Prusher

Haaretz Columnist

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-1.791886Schermata 2017 05 25 alle 22.58.42

Fifty Reasons I'm Going to the Pro-peace, Anti-occupation Rally on Saturday Night

I'd much rather that the mass demonstration in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square were being held some other night than Saturday. But I'm going. I have my reasons.

I need to be with my people right now.
I don't feel so good. I'd much rather that the mass rally for two states and against 50 years of occupation were being held some other night than Saturday. But I'm going. I have my reasons:
1. Because, as Mohammed S. Dajani Daoudi wrote this week, "We are in a hole. Should we find a way out or keep on digging?"
2. Because of my children. And theirs.
3. Because something is happening here. And you don't know what it is. Do you, Mr. Netanyahu?
4. Because both here and abroad, Jews and Muslims and Christians are meeting together, demonstrating together, working together for peace, tolerance and mutual understanding.
5. Because some of the people putting on the Saturday night rally, among them Peace Now and the New Israel Fund, are routinely harassed, interrogated, slandered, and yet continue to go about doing their work, trying to heal a severely wounded Israel.
6. Because others who are helping putting it on, among them Labor and Meretz, need a kick in the butt.
7. Because the unrepresentative sample of Palestinians I have come to know want to see two states here, side by side, one Israeli and one Palestinian.
8. Because these Palestinians don't want this in order to see Palestine become a base from which to annihilate Jews. They want this because they want a state of their own, a homeland, a cultural fountain with which to build an authentically secure and recognized Palestinian future for themselves and their descendants.
9. Because occupation breeds collective punishment, which cripples lives, ends childhoods, builds rage, cancels futures.
10. Because the Arab 40 percent of Jerusalem is disenfranchised. And because, as President Rivlin said Wednesday, marking the in a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War, "We cannot sing songs of praise for a Reunited Jerusalem when East Jerusalem, in which 40 percent of the city's residents live, is the poorest urban area in Israel."
11. Because centrist Israelis are finally daring to say out loud that Jerusalem should be divided.
12. Because the occupation is now spreading into Israel faster than it's expanding in the West Bank.
13. Because the occupation is killing a country I love.
14. Because the mortal enemy of occupation is hope.
15. Yigal Amir.
16. Because radical fundamentalists – Jews and Muslims alike – are on vigilant guard for any threat of peace.
17. Because on our side their minority vetoes and their rampages run our government and ruin our lives, and their edicts deny free worship to non-Orthodox Jews, to non-male Jews, and to Muslims according to rules which change by the day.
18. Betzalel Smotrich.
19. Lehava.
20. Im Tirtzu.
21. La Familia.
22. Steve Bannon.
23. Because the Palestinians ARE a people.
24. Because courageous, patriotic, idealistic Israelis active in the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Breaking the Silence, B'Tselem, Peace Now, Combatants for Peace, the Bereaved Parents Circle and, yes, Haaretz, face daily threats, abuse and the designation "boged" – traitor.
25. Because the government wants to downgrade Arabic from its current status as an official language in Israel because it wants to curry favor among voters who want to see a posture of overt nastiness toward Arab citizens.
26. Because if bereaved parents of fallen soldiers dare to suggest that the government could do more to prevent wars, they face verbal and physical abuse from Kahanists and even Likud legislators.
27. David Bitan and Miki Zohar.
28. Because next week marks another anniversary: 21 years since Benjamin Netanyahu was first elected. Years in which he, like no other, cemented the occupation in place. And cemented all of our feet into it.
29. Because both Israeli and Palestinian people are beginning to explore new ways in which Israel and Palestine can share the land, among them the Two States, One Homeland movement.
30. Because young Jews in movements like IfNotNow, J Street U, All That's Left, the Center for Jewish Nonviolence, Free Jerusalem and others are changing the conversation in America and here as well.
31. Because members of groups like Women Wage Peace are declaring in their thousands that the governments needs to be engaged in actively pursuing peace negotiations.
32. Because non-violent protest by Palestinians is growing and taking on creative new forms that are being actively supported by Israelis and Diaspora Jews and internationals in places like Susya and Sarura.
And because as a matter of course, the Netanyahu government relates to non-violent protest by ordering it crushed using intentionally disproportionate, often violent, means.
33. Because right-wing American Jews and born-again Zionist American evangelists and even American Jews born again as Zionist evangelists keep telling me what Palestinians really want. As if they know. And they explain that we can't ever make peace with them, because all that any of the Palestinians want is to exterminate all of us and take over all of our country. And because the arrogance and the self-righteousness and the threshold of pain rhetoric and the happy-as-a-clam blindness of all of it makes me sick.
34. Sheldon Adelson.
35. Ayelet Shaked, Yariv Levin and Ze'ev Elkin.
36. Because of the lies the right holds self-evident. Because polls show that a majority of Israelis favors two states.
37. Because terrorism deserves to lose.
38. Because all human beings deserve human rights.
39. Because freedom is not just for the favored.
40. Because there is something in our blood which knows what it means to be stateless, a refugee, denied rights on the grounds of religion or ethnicity.
41. Because the more people in the square Saturday night, the more Israelis will feel empowered to raise their voice.
42. Because leftists in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are standing up to the 50 year foul tide and saying Enough. No More. They're standing in the path of the obnoxious, supremacist Jerusalem Day Flag march. They're joining efforts to build protest camps. They are gumming up the works of occupation. They are stopping the runaway train.
43. Because the Israel Prize went to an occupation profiteer.
44. Because of the damage done by condescending, bigoted leftists like Yair Garbuz.
45. Because of Betzalel Smotrich's new peace plan – West Bank Palestinians can choose expulsion, subjugation or death.
46. Because Jerusalem wasn't "liberated" in 1967. Nor was it "unified." Nor is it now.
47. Because of Benjamin Netanyahu, for saying that we will forever live by the sword.
48. Because of Benjamin Netanyahu, for failing to do everything he could to prevent a terrible war.
49. Because of Benjamin Netanyahu, for setting preconditions in order to foil negotiations with the Palestinians. And for inciting hatred against Palestinian citizens of Israel by alluding to a "state within a state" of disloyal Arab citizens following a Tel Aviv terror attack a year ago. And for throwing an election by taking to social media to warn of hordes of Arabs swarming to the polls.
50. Because I need to be with my people Saturday night. In the place where my prime minister was shot in the back, gunned down for daring to seek an end to the occupation and a just peace between Israel and Palestine.
I need to be with people, Jews, Muslims, Christians, non-aligned, otherwise faithful who, despite everything, see each other for the humanity they radiate and not just the tribe.
Because the direction of our lives can change.
Because 50 years of the direction we've come to know – of crushing, camouflaged, ignored, cosmeticized, walled-off, festering, swiftly metastasizing, clerically-encouraged, democracy-dissolving, Israel-annihilating, Judaism-ruining occupation – need not be 50 years plus one.

Bradley Burston

Haaretz Correspondent

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.791837Schermata 2017 05 25 alle 22.55.19

European Ambassadors Boycott Tour of New Israeli Rail Route Because It Traverses West Bank

Ministry scraps outing to Jerusalem-Tel Aviv fast train line after EU representatives decline invitations. Official: Segment over Green Line is underground, only a few hundred meters in length

The Transportation Ministry canceled a tour for foreign diplomats of tunnels for the fast Tel Aviv-Jerusalem railway line under construction. Senior Israeli officials and European diplomats said the tour was scrapped after European Union ambassadors decided not to attend, on the grounds that one of the tunnels traverses the West Bank, considered occupied territory by the international community.
Senior Israeli officials who were speaking on condition of anonymity said the Transportation Ministry decided a few weeks ago to show foreign diplomats one of the country's largest infrastructure projects, with the involvement of major international firms. At the Transportation Ministry’s request, the Foreign Ministry issued invitations to all ambassadors serving in Israel. The tour was scheduled for a date in early June.
The ministries did not anticipate problems, but as it turned out, the tour had become controversial. A senior Israeli official said one EU ambassador after another informed the Foreign Ministry that they would not attend. Ministry officials soon discovered that the head of the EU delegation to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, had urged the ambassadors not to participate because a portion of the route passes through Area C of the West Bank, territory that according to the Oslo Accords is under Israeli civil as well as military control.
A senior European diplomat who asked not to be identified supplied a slightly different account, saying that after the invitations were received, several of the ambassadors raised the issue in Faaborg-Andersen’s weekly meeting with the 28 EU ambassadors to Israel.
The diplomat said Faaborg-Andersen asked which of the ambassadors planned to join the tour, noting that part of the railway line was on the Palestinian side of the 1967 border and therefore presented a problem over which a joint decision should be made. Some ambassadors said they did not plan to attend due to scheduling conflicts. A number said they did not want to attend for political reasons while others said they would agree to send their economic attaches, so as not to give the tour a diplomatic character. After a brief discussion, it was decided that the consensus was that none of the ambassadors would participate, the European diplomatic source said.
It was after that meeting that the various ambassadors informed the Foreign Ministry that they would not be attending. According to a senior Israeli official, some said explicitly that they would not participate because a portion of the rail line runs through the West Bank.
After reviewing the situation, the foreign and transportation ministries concluded that the EU ambassadors’ decision might cause other ambassadors to take similar action, turning the tour into a highly embarrassing diplomatic incident. It was ultimately decided to defer the tour to a later date and to inform the foreign ambassadors of the change.
The two ministries were surprised by the European ambassadors’ decision, viewing it as a boycott of sorts that could render the fast train project a controversial subject in the international community. A senior European diplomat said, however, that the decision not to participate was specifically related to the tour and there was no intention to create controversy over the rail project. The diplomat also noted that European diplomats use Route 443, which runs beyond the 1967 border between the Tel Aviv area and Jerusalem, and would use the new train line once it is in operation.
Faaborg-Andersen confirmed that he did not intend to participate in the tour but refused to respond to questions from Haaretz on the subject.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz expressed surprise over the European ambassadors’ decision. “The Tel Aviv-Jerusalem fast train line is a national project that will connect the capital of Israel to all parts of the country and is being built in accordance with the laws of the State of Israel for the benefit of the entire population of the region and with the approval of the Supreme Court,” he stated.
“In this context, the ambassadors from the foreign countries were invited to see and get an impression of this important undertaking. The intervention of the ambassador from the European Union and his attempt to prevent the ambassadors from coming constitutes inappropriate interference in the internal affairs of the State of Israel. Are they boycotting the fast train to Jerusalem? In advance of the next date set for the tour, I will personally approach the ambassadors of the countries from which companies have taken part in building the project and will ask them to come,” Katz said.
An official in his ministry said that the underground segment of the railway that is on the other side of the Green Line is a few hundred meters in length.
In November 2010, Israel’s Civil Administration expropriated 50 dunam (around 13 acres) from the Palestinian village of Beit Iksa for the new railway. A railway tunnel, a few dozen meters underground, was to be built on a 20-dunam swath of this area, with the remaining 30 dunam to serve as a staging area for construction of the tunnel. The latter portion of land was to be rehabilitated after construction was completed and returned to its owners.
In May 2011, Germany’s national railway company, Deutsche Bahn, announced that it was pulling out of the railway project because part of the line was to pass through the West Bank. The company, which is owned by the German government, had been serving as a consultant to Israel Railways, and for this specific project was responsible primarily for reviewing documents.
The German weekly Der Spiegel had reported at the time that Germany’s transport minister at the time. Peter Ramsauer, told Deutsche Bahn´s CEO that the projected rail line was “problematic from a political perspective” and violates international law.

Barak Ravid
Haaretz Correspondent

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.791997…Schermata 2017 05 25 alle 22.51.00

The Young Jewish Americans Coming to Israel to Fight the Occupation

Some 130 overseas Jews are part of an initiative to restore Palestinian families to their West Bank village. 'We’re here until the end' says one activist

SUMUD FREEDOM CAMP, West Bank – Fadel Amer is preparing dinner in his cave for an unusual mix of guests: Young Jewish social activists from North America, leaders of the Palestinian nonviolent resistance movement and a former Israeli combat soldier.
It will be a rather simple meal of stewed tomatoes, fava beans, hummus and pita bread. But Amer feels it is the least he can do to thank those who have devoted their time and sacrificed their comfort to join in his struggle.
Amer was born in this very cave in the village of Sarura 55 years ago. It’s all that remains of the village today. About 20 years ago, frightened by settler violence and an Israeli military crackdown, all of the residents of this tiny hamlet in the South Hebron Hills gathered their belongings and moved away.
Sarura is one of a dozen villages near the Palestinian town of Yatta whose residents, many of them cave dwellers, were – and in some cases, still are – threatened with evacuation and dispossession.

Now, with the help of a newly formed coalition of Jewish and Palestinian anti-occupation groups, they are looking to return.
Last week, a group of some 300 Palestinians, Israeli Jews and Diaspora Jews joined forces with the original Sarura families to build the Sumud Freedom Camp (“sumud” is Arabic for “perseverance”) on the grounds of the former village. Their mission is to make Sarura habitable once again so that all the former residents can return.
Two Jewish anti-occupation groups are participating in the initiative – the Center for Jewish Nonviolence and All That’s Left – alongside two Palestinian organizations that promote nonviolent resistance – Youth Against Settlements and Holy Land Trust – plus Combatants for Peace, a group of Israeli and Palestinian peace activists.
About 130 political and social activists from Jewish communities abroad – mainly the United States – are participating in the initiative, which is timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation.
A father of 10 who wears a black-and-white keffiyeh around his head, Amer has become the activists’ test case. He is the first resident of Sarura to return to his previous abode. Over the past few days, with the help of activists camped outside, the cave where he was born and grew up is once again a livable space. Several of his cousins and nephews plan to follow his lead and move back over the next few weeks, he says.
“I was born here and I will die here,” he declares.
The air is quite chilly by evening and the camp residents have put on sweaters and are lighting bonfires. The fires also provide light, since there is no electricity here.
Last Friday, the day they arrived, four tents were set up: two for storing supplies; one for sleeping; and another to serve as a lookout post should unwelcome visitors try to cause trouble. The Sumud camp is located just a few hundred meters from Havat Ma’on, an illegal settler outpost with a history of hostility toward the local Palestinian population.
Last Sunday, after two quiet days with no disturbances, Israeli army troops stormed the site, tearing down three of the four tents and confiscating the generator activists had brought with them. One of the tents was reerected, but on Thursday morning Israeli troops returned and tore it down again. The Sumud camp residents were told their encampment was illegal, but were not served with any written orders from the army.
During Thursday morning’s confrontation, Isaac Kates Rose, a Canadian-Jewish activist, was detained for two hours after he tried to block the soldiers. Sumud residents reported that he was released after they complied with an army demand that they tear down their lookout tent.
This latest setback has not affected their resolve to stay put until all the former residents are back in their original homes.
“We’re here until the end,” says Ashley Bohrer, a campaign organizer for the Center for Jewish Nonviolence, who is among the small group of hard-core activists who have spent every night at the camp since it was erected.
‘Not our Judaism’
It is a bumpy and rather hazardous ride up to the campsite, located about a kilometer up the road from the village of Atwani and best navigated with a jeep. The evening before the army paid its second visit to Sumud, about a dozen activists were chilling in the big tent erected just outside Amer’s cave, a Palestinian flag attached to a pole right in the center. They huddled in clusters on mattresses spread on the ground. Some drank sage tea in plastic cups to keep themselves warm, others passed around a hookah, while the fortunate few with some battery life in their cellphones made contact with the outside world.
Squeals of delight erupted when the overhead bulbs suddenly lit up. “Hey, everybody,” a young activist called out in English. “We can recharge our phones! The electricity is back.” A quick inquiry revealed that Amer had used his connections to tap into the generator of a nearby Palestinian village and that electricity would be available for the next three hours.
Bohrer, 28, wears a purple T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Occupation is Not Our Judaism.” Her path to becoming a Jewish star of the Palestinian solidarity movement was not immediately obvious. She grew up in Los Angeles in a family that belonged to Chabad (the Orthodox outreach movement).
After she began studying Arabic in George Washington University, she says she “began to see with new eyes the horrors and brutality of the occupation.” Her initial response to this awakening was to deny her Jewish identity. It was only during the Gaza war in the summer of 2014, when she encountered like-minded members of her faith for the first time, that she understood being Jewish didn’t contradict opposing the occupation. “It was an earth-shattering moment for me,” she says.
Bohrer, who teaches philosophy at Hamilton College in New York, was involved in a similar collaboration last year between Palestinians and anti-occupation Jewish activists, mostly from the Diaspora, to build a new cinema in Hebron. A year earlier, she participated in another joint initiative to replant Palestinian-owned olive trees uprooted by settlers.
A founder of All That’s Left, Kates Rose moved to Jerusalem four years ago after graduating from the University of Toronto, in order to be closer to the eye of the storm. Today, he serves as local organizer for the Center for Jewish Nonviolence.
The roots of his social activism, he says, were planted in his Toronto home. “You could say it started with a magnet my mother kept on the kitchen fridge,” he says. “The magnet said, ‘Be Kind – No Exceptions.’”
Antwan Saca, director of programs at the Bethlehem-based Holy Land Trust – a Palestinian organization dedicated to nonviolent resistance – is in charge of social media here. He live streams all the encounters and confrontations with the Israeli army through his Facebook page. More than 15,000 viewers followed the clashes on Thursday morning through his feed.
Saca doesn’t find it strange that Jews have joined forces with him to oppose the Israeli army. “When the Jews marched with Martin Luther King Jr. to advance civil rights in the United States, that was a role model for us,” he says.
Eli Avidov is a relative latecomer to the world of political activism. The 66-year-old fire safety consultant, who joined Combatants for Peace about a year ago, has spent the past two nights in the camp, hanging out with people who, on average, are less than half his age. Avidov, who fought in the Golan Heights during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, spent 20 years in the United States and Canada before moving back to Tel Aviv a decade ago.
“What turned me into an activist was attending my first joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day service last year,” he says. “You can’t go to something like that and be unmoved. So after that experience I asked myself, ‘What can I do to help create change?’” When asked how active he is in his organization, Avidov responds with a grin, “My wife would say way too active.”

Judy Maltz

Haaretz Correspondent

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.792000

 

Schermata 2017 05 25 alle 22.44.03

Schermata 2017 05 25 alle 22.44.23

Abbas Discusses Palestinian Prisoner Hunger Strike With Trump Envoy

Palestinian president meets with Jason Greenblatt, requests that the White House intervene in ongoing strike amid reports of inmates' deteriorating health

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas requested Thursday that the White House intervene in the ongoing Palestinian prisoner's hunger strike during a meeting with U.S. special envoy to the region Jason Greenblatt in Ramallah.
Speaking at the presidential headquarters after the meeting, Abbas said that the issue of the prisoners was discussed in depth “to see what the American side can do on the matter.”
He said that "the issue of the prisoners is a sensitive and difficult one, and we want the Americans to intervene so that we can receive answers from the Israelis regarding their commitment to comply with the prisoners' demands, which there is no reason to refuse as they are legitimate and humane."
According to a senior Palestinian official, Greenblatt is expected to meet with Netanyahu over the next 24 hours, and to relay their position to the Palestinians with an aim to end the strike, which has now lasted for 38 days.
"This is a very sensitive issue and the Americans understand what its implications are on the ground - if the strike were to lead to the death of prisoners or aggravate tensions - we made it crystal clear to Greenblatt that this issue is at the top of the Palestinian public agenda." the official said.
According to representatives of the strikers, the medical condition of dozens of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners is deteriorating and many more prisoners have been hospitalized over the past two days.
Some 40 prisoners had been moved from the Ohalei Kedar Prison to hospitals around the country, and 20 have been taken from Hadarim Prison to Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava, a Palestinian Prisoners’ Administration statement said.
The prisoners’ two primary demands are for more frequent family visits and for prisoners to be allowed to speak to their families on public phones under supervision.

Jack Khoury
Haaretz Correspondent

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/1.791949Schermata 2017 05 25 alle 22.27.07

Gazans Have Barely Four Hours of Power a Day, but Israel to Further Cut Energy Supply

Israeli official dismisses criticism of the state's ongoing closure on the Gaza Strip and blames Hamas for the energy crisis

Israel will have to reduce the power supply to Gaza, the Coordinator of Government Activity in the West Bank Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said on Thursday, after the Palestinian Authority notified it will stop paying for the electricity Israel provides to the Strip, which is grappling with an acute energy crisis.
In an interview to the BBC, Mordechai said Israel is Gaza’s sole energy provider, as the Strip’s power station and the power lines from Egypt are not working. Gaza’s energy problem, however, is the result of an internal Palestinian issue, not of one between Israelis and Palestinians, he said.
“Israel provides 125 megawatts. It decided to increase that by 100 megawatts, but, regrettably, there are problems between Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah [in the West Bank], which led the PA to stop funding the power supply,” Mordechai said.
Electricity supplies in Gaza have been limited to just three or four hours a day, as opposed to eight hours a day before the crisis. An Israeli Arab witness told Haaretz that there is hardly any electricity in the Strip, with hospitals depending on diesel-fueled generators to use respirators, incubators and similar equipment.
Mordechai dismissed criticism of Israel’s ongoing closure on the Gaza Strip and blamed Hamas for the energy crisis.
“Hamas charges 100 million shekels from the Gaza Strip residents every month, via merchandise tariffs and taxes from the exploited Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, but the money doesn’t reach the PA. This is because Hamas chooses to put the money into tunnels, digging and organization…Israel is the only one supplying the Gaza Strip with power, so the Strip is completely dependent on Israel for its power supply,” he said.
According to Mordechai, Hamas officials place their own interests above those of Gaza's residents.
“The power goes to the tunnels and to Fathi Hammad, the senior Hamas official who has four wives, three houses and electricity supply 24-hours-a-day, while two million Palestinians have four hours of electricity a day. Is that reasonable? Hamas prefers its own interests and its commanders’ interests,” he said.
Mordechai said slashing the power supply is an internal problem, noting the PA had officially told Israel that it was reducing its payments for the electric power. “The average 125 megawatts we provide the Gaza Strip costs 40 million shekels. The PA told us in an official letter that it is interested in paying 25-30 million shekels. That means reducing the electricity to the Gaza Strip.”
Mordechai did not say when the already irregular power supply the Gaza Strip would be reduced and by how much, but laid the responsibility for it on Hamas.
“If Hamas decides to use the electricity for hospitals and civilians, instead of to its leaders and tunnels and generators, the Gaza residents will have no problem.”

Jack Khoury

Haaretz Correspondent

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/middl…/palestinians/.premium-1.791999Schermata 2017 05 25 alle 22.33.55

Trump's Secretary of State Refuses to Say Western Wall Is in Israel

Trump's Secretary of State Refuses to Say Western Wall Is in Israel
Rex Tillerson says that the U.S. president's next stop after Saudi Arabia will be 'Tel Aviv, home of Judaism'

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Monday that the Western Wall is "in Jerusalem," but refused to respond to a question on whether it was in Israel.
He made the comments while flying from Saudi Arabia to Israel as part of President Donald Trump's first international trip.
The Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, is a section of the wall supporting the Temple Mount and the only remnant of the Second Temple, which stood in Jerusalem until its destruction in 70 C.E. Tillerson's comment is in line with traditional American policy over the last five decades, which doesn't recognize Israel's control of East Jerusalem
The secretary of state also told reporters traveling with him that settlements are one of the factors that have made it hard to reach peace between Israel and the Palestinians in the past.
Tillerson stated that from Saudi Arabia, President Trump was continuing to "Tel Aviv, home to Judaism" – most likely a reference to Ben-Gurion International Airport, where Trump landed. The president is not scheduled to visit Tel Aviv during his stay in Israel, and will spend almost all of his time in Jerusalem.
Last week, Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, also refused to answer questions over the sovereignty of the Western Wall and whether it is part of Israel. "That's a policy decision," he noted. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer also declined to say whether the Western Wall is in Israel.
With regards to settlements, Tillerson said that "settlements are part of the overall peace discussion. It’s just there are a number of elements that have presented challenges to the peace process in the past, settlements is clearly one of those.”
Tillerson also addressed the fact that the president flew directly from Saudi Arabia to Israel, saying, "we’re flying directly to Tel Aviv. That’s where we’re going to land. I think on the broader contours we’re hopeful that relations can continue to improve between the Arab nations and Israel. There’s a lot to overcome historically in those relationships. But all of that is going to be important to bringing peace and stability to the region. So we’re very supportive of any way that the Arab nations and Israel can find to take whatever the smallest steps forward might be to begin to build another level of trust between all of those countries as well.”

Amir Tibon
Haaretz Correspondent
read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.790922

 Schermata 2017 05 23 alle1 22.38.34

Trump makes history with visit to Western Wall

 

Eurasia Group's Ayham Kamel describes the significance of President Trump's visit to the holiest Jewish site in Jerusalem.

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Hundreds Protest Against Trump at Rallies in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv

'We are here to show Trump and the world that not everyone in Israel loves the president' says one of Tel Aviv rally organizers

Protesters against U.S. President Donald Trump held two in-tandem rallies in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, each with some 300 demonstrators, on Monday evening.
As befitting the two different cities, the demonstrations were different in tone and style, but both carried the same message.
“We are here tonight to show Trump and the world that not everyone in Israel loves the president,” Pantsuit Nation Israel leader, Rachel Canar, told an energetic crowd in Tel Aviv.
Pantsuit Nation Israel is the grassroots, local spin-off of the American and international groups that supported Hillary Clinton during her 2016 campaign and were prominent in organizing the “Resistance” marches in January 2017. Along with Pantsuit Nation, the Tel Aviv demonstration was organized by Democrats Abroad, Israel and Green Course, an environmental volunteer organization.

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The Israeli Lawmaker Heralding Genocide Against Palestinians

Deputy Speaker Bezalel Smotrich's admiration for the biblical genocidaire Joshua bin Nun leads him to adopt values that resemble those of the German SS

Tomer Persico quoted remarks that MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) made recently at a conference of religious Zionists, where he presented his plan to offer the Palestinians three options: leave the territories, continue to live there with second-class status, or continue resisting, in which case “the Israel Defense Forces will know what to do.” These are chilling words that are liable to lead Israel into committing the horrific crime of genocide.
It’s hard to believe that an elected representative of a party in the governing coalition could raise the option of genocide if the Palestinians don’t accept the terms he’s willing to offer them: either emigration, or life under an apartheid regime based on principles of Jewish law, which would be even worse than the one that existed in South Africa. Smotrich, a deputy speaker of the Knesset, is the most senior government figure to date to say unabashedly that the option of genocide is on the table if the Palestinians don’t agree to our terms – and it’s clear they won’t agree.
Smotrich relies on the biblical Book of Joshua as his model. Researchers of genocide in the ancient world have already determined that the Book of Joshua is an important document for examining the characteristics of genocide in the ancient world. Some of its components differed from the genocides of the 20th century, but the Book of Joshua describes actions that were explicitly defined as genocide in the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The convention defines anyone who commits such acts as someone who committed crimes against humanity and must therefore be put on trial.
This is how the Book of Joshua describes the conquest of the city of Ai (Joshua 8:24-29): “And it came to pass, when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, even in the wilderness wherein they pursued them, and they were all fallen by the edge of the sword, until they were consumed, that all Israel returned unto Ai, and smote it with the edge of the sword. ... So Joshua burnt Ai, and made it a heap forever, even a desolation, unto this day. And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until the eventide; and at the going down of the sun Joshua commanded, and they took his carcass down from the tree, and cast it at the entrance of the gate of the city, and raised thereon a great heap of stones, unto this day.”
The 1995 massacre in Srebrenica, an atrocity slightly less terrible than the biblical one, was defined as genocide by the United Nations. Article 2 of the genocide convention states that “genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” These acts include “killing members of the group”; “causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group”; “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”; and “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.”
Had the conquest of Ai taken place today, Joshua bin Nun would have been brought to court in handcuffs and tried on charges of genocide. And that’s Smotrich’s model.
Article 3 of the convention states that punishable actions related to genocide include genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, “direct and public incitement to commit genocide” and “complicity in genocide.” It would be interesting to hear what an expert in international law would say about Smotrich’s remarks.
Smotrich’s admiration for the biblical genocidaire Joshua bin Nun leads him to adopt values that resemble those of the German SS. Naturally, he didn’t take the trouble to make such comparisons, since someone who supports genocide doesn’t try to understand the worldview of the genocidaires who preceded him.
From God's mouth to Himmler's ears
This is how God explains to Joshua why Israel was defeated in one of its battles against the enemy (Joshua 7:11-12): “Israel hath sinned; yea, they have even transgressed My covenant which I commanded them; yea, they have even taken of the devoted thing; and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have even put it among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel cannot stand before their enemies, they turn their backs before their enemies, because they are become accursed; I will not be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you.”
Or in other words, conquest and annihilation must be carried out according to precise instructions from God. When Israel violates these instructions by seizing property and looting without permission, they are punished.
The similarity between the biblical text and what Heinrich Himmler said to senior SS officers in Poznan in October 1943 is chilling. Here is what Himmler said: “I am referring here to the evacuation of the Jews, the extermination of the Jewish people. ... The wealth they possessed we took from them. I gave a strict order ... that this wealth will of course be turned over to the Reich in its entirety. We have taken none of it for ourselves. Individuals who have erred will be punished in accordance with the order given by me at the start, threatening that anyone who takes as much as a single Mark of this money is a dead man.”
In every genocide, the supreme authority insists on order and discipline from those responsible for carrying it out, in accordance with criteria which he sets. Members of the SS were convinced they were men of integrity, with clean hands, who didn’t loot their victims’ property. Does Smotrich believe the ethics of the Book of Joshua could serve as an example for how the Palestinians should be treated today?
Smotrich has a reputation as a racist and a homophobe. Now it turns out that he also potentially supports mass murder. In any enlightened society, one can find people like this in dubious pubs, in Munich or Mississippi, that are frequented by skinheads tattooed with swastikas. But in Israel, the person saying this is a representative of the state.
One obviously can’t expect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to do anything about this. But the real danger to Israel comes from the hundreds of Knesset members and public figures from other parties – including Likud, Yesh Atid and even Zionist Union – who understand quite well where Smotrich and his colleagues in the Habayit Hayehudi party are dragging the state, but are afraid to stand up, form a united front with the Israeli left and tell the public the truth: Smotrichism, like Hitlerism, Stalinism and Maoism before them, is an ideology that leads to the perpetration of genocide.
If those who understand this don’t rise up and eliminate this danger now, this will be the tragic end of the Palestinian people. But it will also be the end of the vision of a sovereign Jewish existence in Israel.
Prof. Blatman is a historian of the Holocaust and genocide at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Daniel Blatman

Haaretz Contributor

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.791115Schermata 2017 05 23 alle 14.28.07

'Uncle' Trump Will Not Bring Peace

Any change that has occurred, whether in the direction of the right or the left, has always come from within

Here comes our American uncle again, raising everyone’s hopes: Maybe this time the uncle will bring with him a particularly lovely gift – peace, perhaps? The hopes are understandable but have no legs to stand on. Anyone expecting U.S. President Donald Trump to impose peace on Israel and the Palestinians, to grab Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas by their ears and shove them into a conduit that will lead to two states should sober up.
It didn’t happen with former U.S. President Barack Obama and it won’t happen with Trump. Not because of a lack of desire on their part (anyway, who knows what Trump wants?), but because it’s impossible to force such a process on someone. External pressure cannot replace a diplomatic process. Any change that has occurred in the past, whether in the direction of the right or the left, has always come from within.
Anyone who's casting his hopes on Trump doing the hard work for us is deluding himself. This was true for Obama as well. This notion, that all depends on pressure from the outside, respects the despair of politics in Israel and, in essence, despair of the people in Israel. It’s an expression of hopelessness, a belief that all is lost here – that the extreme right will rule forever so we must wait for the messiah from Washington to make peace for us. This is folly whichever way one looks at it.
One must understand that any position taken by America, Europe or other international entity – accompanied by more or less pressure – doesn’t really impact Israel unless it wants to make a move on its own. The settlements are an object lesson: All U.S. administrations bar none, as well as the members of the international community, have expressed their resolute opposition to the settlements. This has not prevented every Israeli government since 1967 from establishing them. Indeed, in defiance of the entire world, more than 200 of these communities have been established since that year. More than 400,000 Israelis currently live in the settlements, excluding East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
For their part, Trump and his people have told Israel to “restrain” construction in the territories. So what? If that’s all there is and the government is not a partner to such a move, then the settlers have nothing to worry about.
None of the great diplomatic moves that substantially changed the map of this country were achieved through American pressure. They were concocted here, based on the decisions and interests of Israel and its neighbors. Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat – and even Ariel Sharon, Peres and Ehud Barak, did not wait for threats from the White House in order to embark on dramatic initiatives. The Americans and Europeans lent their support, money and security support, but the historic decisions were made by leaders here. They often made them contrary to prevailing winds and public opinion since they concluded that this was the right course for Israel. After they decided, the nation followed, as did the world.
The perpetuation of the occupation, the erosion of democracy and the elimination of any chance for a two-state solution severely damage Israel’s interests. Domination over millions of Palestinians for so many years is immoral in the deepest sense of the word, damaging to both occupier and occupied. Millions of Israelis and millions of Palestinians are the ones who have to sort out their relations in this small strip of land, between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, which is now completely under Israel’s control in one form or another.
Benjamin Netanyahu is uninterested in a diplomatic solution. After years of stalemate, one can now declare: His Bar-Ilan speech consisted of empty words; it was a deception. His partners also don’t want a diplomatic solution. For them it’s a matter of political survival. The United States can help, encourage, perhaps exert pressure here and there, but it cannot and does not want to replace the government of Israel.
The whole matter rests in our own hands: Anyone concerned about Israel’s future should replace this government. That is obviously not an easy task, but it’s entirely in our own hands.

Nitzan Horowitz

Haaretz Contributor

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.790999Schermata 2017 05 23 alle 14.32.21

Hebron settlers are trying to erase the city’s Palestinian identity

At the front of Shuhada street in the old city of Hebron is a street sign pointing multiple directions: Chabad Cemetery, Old Jewish Cemetery, Ancient Tel Hebron. The words are in Hebrew and English only. The purpose of the sign is not to provide directions but to erase Palestinian identity, and even the Arabic language, from the area. For more than a decade Israeli settlers have been installing these types of signs throughout Hebron. Over the past two years, the installation of these signs has increased exponentially.

Further down Shuhada street are signs telling the “history” of Hebron. One says Hebron originally belonged to the Jewish people. Another tells of the signing of the Hebron Accords in 1997. It says the Hebron Accords left Jews with only 3 percent of the city while Arabs enjoy large thriving shopping centers. One talks about 50 years ago when Israeli forces occupied the West Bank. It reads: “1967: Liberation of Hebron and reestablishment of its Jewish community. ‘The children have returned to their own border’ (Jer. 31:17).”

The signs are illegal even under Israeli law. Many of them, including signs changing streets from Arabic names to Hebrew names, have been mounted on private Palestinian shops and homes without the owners’ consent. This has occurred even on streets that are predominantly inhabited by Palestinians. The signs are installed without approval from the Hebron municipality or the Israeli military.

In 1994, Brooklyn-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein opened fire in the Ibrahimi mosque. He murdered 29 Palestinians in worship. Israel responded not by protecting the Palestinian community by removing the illegal settlers but by implementing the Hebron Protocol. Signed in 1997, the protocol divided the city, closing streets and the once vibrant marketplace to Palestinians, turning the city into a virtual ghost town. Within it though, is a requirement that Israeli authorities protect the Palestinian identity of Hebron. Allowing the settler signs to remain violates this requirement.

On April 3, 2017, Youth Against Settlements and Rabbis for Human Rights officially requested the Israeli army secure the area so the signs could be removed. The army refused to grant the request, citing fear of violence. However, the army regularly grants permits for settlers to have marches celebrating terrorism against Palestinians. For their Purim parade, settlers in Hebron dress in costumes depicting Palestinians as villains. In 2016 settlers had their Purim in the very location where Israeli soldier Elor Azaria had recently killed two unarmed Palestinians. Settlers danced on the blood-stained spot of the street where the executions had taken place.

Among the most offensive signs settlers have put up is a banner on Shuhada Street reading “Palestine Never Existed (and never will).” Unable to remove this and other offensive and illegal settler signs through legal means, the other day we dropped our own banner from a Palestinian balcony overlooking Shuhada Street. It read “This is Palestine. Welcome to Apartheid Street.” We will be continuing our efforts to legally challenge the illegal settler signs. We will also continue dropping banners and installing signs of truth, justice, and history. You can help us by signing our petition asking the Israeli Civil Administration to uphold Israeli law as it relates to the signs and by joining our campaign of Truth Telling in Hebron.

At the front of Shuhada street in the old city of Hebron is a street sign pointing multiple directions: Chabad Cemetery, Old Jewish Cemetery, Ancient Tel Hebron. The words are in Hebrew and English only. The purpose of the sign is not to provide directions but to erase Palestinian identity, and even the Arabic language, from the area. For more than a decade Israeli settlers have been installing these types of signs throughout Hebron. Over the past two years, the installation of these signs has increased exponentially.

Further down Shuhada street are signs telling the “history” of Hebron. One says Hebron originally belonged to the Jewish people. Another tells of the signing of the Hebron Accords in 1997. It says the Hebron Accords left Jews with only 3 percent of the city while Arabs enjoy large thriving shopping centers. One talks about 50 years ago when Israeli forces occupied the West Bank. It reads: “1967: Liberation of Hebron and reestablishment of its Jewish community. ‘The children have returned to their own border’ (Jer. 31:17).”

The signs are illegal even under Israeli law. Many of them, including signs changing streets from Arabic names to Hebrew names, have been mounted on private Palestinian shops and homes without the owners’ consent. This has occurred even on streets that are predominantly inhabited by Palestinians. The signs are installed without approval from the Hebron municipality or the Israeli military.

In 1994, Brooklyn-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein opened fire in the Ibrahimi mosque. He murdered 29 Palestinians in worship. Israel responded not by protecting the Palestinian community by removing the illegal settlers but by implementing the Hebron Protocol. Signed in 1997, the protocol divided the city, closing streets and the once vibrant marketplace to Palestinians, turning the city into a virtual ghost town. Within it though, is a requirement that Israeli authorities protect the Palestinian identity of Hebron. AllowiSchermata 2017 05 23 alle 21.49.28Schermata 2017 05 23 alle 21.49.20Among the most offensive signs settlers have put up is a banner on Shuhada Street reading “Palestine Never Existed (and never will).” Unable to remove this and other offensive and illegal settler signs through legal means, the other day we dropped our own banner from a Palestinian balcony overlooking Shuhada Street. It read “This is Palestine. Welcome to Apartheid Street.” We will be continuing our efforts to legally challenge the illegal settler signs. We will also continue dropping banners and installing signs of truth, justice, and history. You can help us by signing our petition asking the Israeli Civil Administration to uphold Israeli law as it relates to the signs and by joining our campaign of Truth Telling in Hebron.Schermata 2017 05 23 alle 21.49.08