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From Glorious Millennia to Death and Destruction: Zionists Rewrite Palestine’s Story

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 21/09/2021 - 1:56am in

PALESTINE — As these words were being written, the final two Palestinian freedom prisoners who escaped from Gilboa Prison were caught by the Israeli authorities. Palestine is still reacting to this courageous escape and the consequent re-capture of the six political prisoners who escaped and defied the entire Israeli security apparatus. However, even though they managed to free themselves from this high-security prison, they found a world that doesn’t care. The rest of the world did not step up to save these brave men and did not provide them with sanctuary, and so they were caught.

Why Israel’s Gilboa Prison Break has Palestanians Celebrating

One of the great tragedies of Palestine is that almost every day there is a commemoration of one massacre or another, the death of a child or destruction of a home or village, leading one to think that the Palestinian narrative is one of death and destruction, which is what Israel wants people to think. But the truth is that this is not the case. The Palestinian narrative is one of a glorious history with periods of great sadness and tragedy. It is the Zionist story that is full of killing, stealing and destruction and not, as they try to sell it, one of creation and growth.

September 16, 2021, marked 39 years since the massacres at Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon. As people remember and mourn the thousands of unarmed civilians who were butchered and the countless who survived suffering terrible injuries and emotional scars, we must also remember the man that stood behind this bloodbath.

This was a man whose complicity even the Israeli authorities could not ignore, the former general and renowned war criminal Ariel Sharon. And although he was momentarily penalized and banished from politics, he very quickly returned, and for a quarter of a century, he was the most powerful and influential man in Israeli politics.



At the end of the day, it is all about the narrative, and we know all too well that Israel has done an outstanding job of erasing the Palestinian narrative and injecting its own mythical, false narrative in its place. In the media, in movies, in literature, in public education, and in politics the false Zionist narrative rules supreme and we who oppose racism and violence are faced with an enormous task as we engage in the work of reversing the narrative – a task without which it is hard to imagine Palestine ever becoming free.

Over the last 100 years, the Zionist movement managed to take the truly incredible history of Palestine and turn it into a historical footnote, replacing it with a mythical story that relies heavily on a Protestant-Zionist, literal reading of the Old Testament, which allowed them to create what is known as “return history.” In other words, the Zionist version of the history of Palestine creates the impression that the Jews returned to their ancient homeland after 2,000 years, making it an unprecedented historical event that overshadows anything else that occurred in Palestine over that bimillennial span.

The Zionist narrative is designed to turn the ancient history of Palestine into a small, unimportant story that cannot be compared with the grandeur of the narrative that is presented by the Old Testament. This is highlighted when Israeli politicians like the current prime minister, Naftali Bennett, refer to the Bible as the source of legitimacy for Israel.

Why Opposing Zionism Is Not Anti-Semitic: The Christian Roots of Zionism


A four thousand-year history

Thanks to the historian Nur Masalha, we now know that the name Palestine goes back close to 4,000 years. We know that the name Palestine was used in Egyptian sources going back to the Bronze Age, more than 1,000 BCE. Later, the name was used by the Assyrians in inscriptions from that era. The Greek historian Herodotus, who lived in the 5th century BCE and who is considered to be the father of history as we know it, visited the country and referred to it as Palestine. The Greek scientist and philosopher Aristotle also refers to Palestine by name in his writings.

The cities of Lyd, Ramle, and Yaffa all had remarkable histories, as did the cities of Akka, Haifa, and, of course, Nablus, Gaza, and Al-Quds-Jerusalem. Throughout the Muslim rule of Palestine, cities grew, cultures flourished, economic conditions and trade with Europe allowed people to prosper. Dhaher Al-Umar, who ruled over large parts of Palestine during the 18th century, is seen as the founding father of Palestinian modernity and, according to Nur Maslaha, he was the most influential figure in the modern orientation of Palestine towards the Mediterranean. During his reign in Palestine, there were agricultural and technical innovations introduced that “benefited the majority of Palestinian peasantry.” Thanks to Dhaher Al-Umar, there was considerable growth in the export of cotton, olive oil, wheat and soap.

The Story of Daher Al-Umar Undermines Israel’s Own Origin Story

Other, lesser-known parts of Palestine also flourished throughout history, such as the Palestinian town of Khalasa, which was founded by the Nabatean Arabs in the fourth century and then depopulated by the Zionist militia in 1948. It was known to be on what is called the “Arab incense route” and, according to Nur Masalha, under Arab-Islamic rule, the town, which sits just southwest of the city of Bi’r Al-Saba, was a major urban center.

According to Mansur Nasasra, the Palestinian Bedouin in the Naqab had a very profitable export of barley to England for the production of beer. Aerial photos from the early British occupation of Palestine also show large tracts of cultivated land in the Naqab. These lands are now mostly depopulated and the Palestinian Bedouin in the Naqab are prohibited from cultivating their ancestral lands. All of this stands in the face of Zionist claims that they came to a barren land and made it bloom.

The Zionist narrative is arguably responsible for the welcoming and forgiving attitude the entire world has towards the horrendous, unforgivable crimes committed by Israel since its founding in 1948. In order to prevent the next massacre by Israel, a state that seems to have an insatiable thirst for Palestinian blood, we have to reverse the narrative and delegitimize Zionism.

Feature photo | Bilder aus Palästina, Nord-Arabien und dem Sinai, circa 1905. Bernhard Moritz | US Library of Congress

Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The post From Glorious Millennia to Death and Destruction: Zionists Rewrite Palestine’s Story appeared first on MintPress News.

Thousands march against Palestinian Authority in West Bank

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 19/09/2021 - 12:03pm in



Thousands of Palestinians have joined marches against the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the occupied West Bank, after it launched a wave of arrests against protesters and activists.

Established under the Oslo Accords in 1993, the PA was given limited control in the West Bank and Gaza, occupied by Israel since 1967. It was formed as a concession following the First Intifada, or Palestinian uprising, but has taken on a role policing the West Bank on behalf of Israel and suppressing political protest and expression.

The PA has effectively surrendered to Israel and the US, giving up on the struggle to liberate Palestine in exchange for a limited role policing and administering the West Bank. This is widely seen as a betrayal amongst the Palestinian people—a poll published by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Research in June found that 56 per cent of Palestinians now see the PA as a burden.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas was elected once in 2005, but has refused to hold another election for the last 16 years.

In 2006 his party, Fatah, lost an election to Hamas but managed to keep control in the West Bank with US and Israeli support, while Hamas took control in Gaza.

The recent crackdown dates back to April, when Abbas indefinitely postponed parliamentary elections, once it again became clear his party would lose power. Protests against the PA began almost immediately.

With the cracks in PA’s control beginning to deepen, the regime began to target political dissidents by arresting dozens of journalists, union organisers and other opponents, as well as cracking down on protests and demonstrations.

In May, following Palestinian protests in East Jerusalem over the dispossesion of residents of Sheik Jarrah and a renewed Israeli bombing campaign against Gaza, the PA moved to add its voice to the protests, even supporting the Palestinian general strike that occurred on 18 May.

However it only did so because it felt it was necessary to maintain its own position as the claimed political representative of the Palestinians.

The Palestinian population was rising up across the whole of Palestine—inside Israel’s borders, in East Jerusalem and even in Gaza, where Hamas launched rocket strikes against Israel.

Then Israeli airstrikes pounded Gaza, creating more anger, and enormous pressure on the PA to respond. But since the end of the bombing, over 40 Palestinians have been murdered by Israeli forces—and this has been met with silence from the PA. Gaza remains under a brutal Israeli blockade, with unemployment around 50 per cent and almost 70 per cent suffering food insecurity.

Beaten to death

In late June prominent activist Nizar Banat was abducted and beaten to death at the hands of PA police. He had become a thorn in the side of the PA’s rulers, exposing their corruption and railing against the decision to cancel the elections.

In response, protestors took to the streets in the West Bank city of Ramallah and were again met with repression.

His killing has only served to inspire further protests and unrest, despite the frequent demonstrations in Ramallah always being met with disproportionate, extreme violence from both police and PA supporters.

It is clear that the PA is more than happy to employ the same brutality it criticised Israel for less than six months ago in order to quash popular protest.

However despite rising opposition, the PA may have been thrown a lifeline, after Israel agreed on 30 August to provide the PA with over $200 million toward strengthening their grip on the West Bank. Such a payment is aimed to ensure the ongoing suppression of Palestinian dissent and, perhaps more importantly for Israel, prevent Hamas from gaining political ground.

There should be little doubt that the PA is far from the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

There is no justification for continuing to postpone democratic elections. But there is now widespread disillusionment among the Palestinians at both major political factions, in Hamas as well as Fatah.

The recent wave of protests saw a new younger generation of Palestinian activists, like Mohammed El-Kurd from Sheikh Jarrah, reach a global audience for the ongoing Palestinian struggle.

Palestinians continue to resist despite decades of Israeli dispossession, occupation and oppression, backed up by Western imperialism. Solidarity from workers and ordinary people across the Arab world and beyond are the key to winning liberation.

By Joshua Look

The post Thousands march against Palestinian Authority in West Bank appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Privatizing the Occupation: How Israeli Corporations Came to Police the Palestinians

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/09/2021 - 4:14am in

OCCUPIED WEST BANK — On any given morning, masses of Palestinians are packed like sardines at the Qalandiya checkpoint at the edge of Ramallah in the Occupied West Bank. Here, the Israeli army, border police, and Israeli police are all on patrol. But another group of officers — nearly indistinguishable from the state authorities — also stands guard. These are the employees of Israeli private security behemoth Modiin Ezrachi. The security corporation is part of a plethora of private companies carrying out state functions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.


Private security at the checkpoints

The process of transferring military operations to private security contractors commenced during the Second Intifada (Palestinian uprising against the Israeli state) from 2000 to 2005. An Israeli government decision handed over the powers to civilian and police control in 2005 and established the Crossing Points Authority as the body responsible for maintaining the checkpoints.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) stated the reasoning behind this decision was to preserve Palestinians’ “fabric of life.” The fabric of life refers to the basic minimum conditions a person needs to work, study, and live. Dr. Shir Hever, a political economist and author of the book “The Privatisation of Israeli Security,” explained Israel’s security interest in protecting Palestinians’ fabric of life as arising not out of moral duty but rather as a diplomatic strategy. “The whole point is that the Israeli security operations need to disrupt that fabric as little as possible in the fewest instances possible because this impacts the Israeli image abroad,” Hever told MintPress News.

“The presence of 18-year-old soldiers in the checkpoints, where the soldiers are not trained and not experienced in dealing with civilian populations, causes embarrassing issues,” Hever continued. In order for the MoD to avoid potential gaffes on the world stage, trained security personnel replaced the army.

Yet security professionals appear just as inept at interacting with civilians as does the Israeli army.

Maram Saleh Hassan Abu Ismail was attempting to cross the Qalandiya checkpoint with her teenage brother, Ibrahim Taha, when the siblings were shot dead by two civilian security guards on April 27, 2016. Israel Police claimed the woman threw a knife at an officer, prompting the fatal shooting. A police investigation was opened and abruptly closed the following August with no indictments.

This is just one of many violent incidents perpetrated by private security guards against Palestinians at checkpoints, settlements, and various Israeli public places. The Israeli government’s objective for privatization was for more professional interaction between Palestinians and security forces. But Dr. Hever explained that the way privatization was structured actually eliminated all interaction. “Everything’s done remotely and mechanically, meaning there’s a voice coming from the wall telling you to put your bag into the machine, put your identity card into the slot, move through the turnstile, and you don’t see anybody. You don’t speak with anybody,” Hever said.


The companies operating at the checkpoints

According to Machsom Watch, an Israeli women’s organization monitoring the checkpoints, there are 593 checkpoints in the West Bank — including 23 border checkpoints. The border checkpoints have been undergoing privatization efforts since 2006. Research center Who Profits details all of the checkpoints along the Apartheid Wall — which the Israeli government refers to as the Separation Barrier, between the West Bank and 1948-Occupied Palestine (or modern-day Israel) — that are to be privatized. Fifteen checkpoints are currently privatized and one is partially privatized.

The following are the companies involved in the checkpoints:

Sheleg Lavan

Sheleg Lavan is an Israeli firm providing cleaning and security services. In 2019, it won a tender from the Israel Police to provide security operations to the area of the Apartheid Wall surrounding Jerusalem (Israel Police declined to provide an interview for this story; Sheleg Lavan and the Crossing Points Authority did not respond to requests for comment).

The company has inspectors and guards at the following checkpoints in Gaza and the West Bank: Tarqumia, Meitar, Maccabim, Habika, Eliyahu, Hashmonaim, Sha’ar Efraim, and Kerem Shalom. The company’s revenue stands at 600 million shekels or nearly $190 million.

Modiin Ezrachi

Modiin Ezrachi is one of the largest Israeli security companies, with a revenue of 700 million shekels or nearly $220 million. It has security guards and inspectors at the following checkpoints in the West Bank, Gaza, and Occupied East Jerusalem: Gilboa, Reihan, Eyal, Hotze Shomron, Qalandiya, Sheikh Sa’ad, Anata, and Al-Jib. The two security guards responsible for Abu Ismail and Taha’s deaths were employed by Modiin Ezrachi.

G1 Secure Solutions

This Israeli security firm’s luggage- and body-scanning machines are used at the Erez checkpoint in Gaza, and at the Qalandiya, Bethlehem and Sha’ar Efraim checkpoints in the West Bank. The company had a contract with the Israel Civil Administration (ICA) for maintenance of metal gates designed by U.S. corporation Rapiscan and installed at ICA checkpoints. The contract was renewed until April 2018. G1 Secure Solutions did not respond to comments on whether it still retains this contract. The company’s current revenue is 821.4 million shekels or roughly $260 million.

Malam Team

Malam Team is an Israeli information technology firm. The company has an estimated revenue of $711 million shekels or $220 million. Malam Team’s subsidiary, Eltel, has scanning equipment at several West Bank checkpoints and at the Erez checkpoint in Gaza. It also maintains scanning equipment in the following checkpoints in the West Bank and Gaza: Hotze-Shomron, Eyal, Barta’a, Eliyahu, Jalme, Metar, Metzudut Yehuda, Sha’ar Efraim, Maccabim, Tarqumya, and Habika.

T&M Protection Resources Holdings Israel

This Israeli security company won a tender published by the Israel Police in 2019 for nine checkpoints in Jerusalem near the Apartheid Wall. These checkpoints are: a-Sheikh Sa’ed, a-Sawahrah, a-Za’ayem, Mazmuriyeh, Ein Yael, The Tunnels, Anata, Checkpoint 300, and a-Zaitun. The firm also provides guarding services to the Crossing Points Authority.

T&M Israel is the highest-ranked company in Israel’s security and cleaning industry. Its 2021 revenue stands at 1.175 billion shekels or $367 million. The company’s CEO, Shimon Talmor, served as a combat fighter in the Israeli army.

International Institute for Nonviolent Action

Credit | International Institute for Nonviolent Action | Creative Commons


Private security in the settlements

Many of the private companies operating at the checkpoints also provide security services to the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In 2008, the Israeli military decided to transfer the security of 40 settlements to private security personnel. The military attributed its decision to the installation of army equipment having made the presence of soldiers in the settlements obsolete, and maintained that trained professionals would be able to offer better security than soldiers.

Modiin Ezrachi, G1 Secure Solutions, Malam Team, and T&M Israel are all involved in the settlements.

Modiin Ezrachi provides security to settlements in East Jerusalem, including working with the settler organization El’ad; nine settlements in the West Bank; and has been contracted by the Mount Hebron and Mateh Benjamin settlement councils. Settlement councils are Israeli government-run institutions charged with running the affairs of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, including the hiring of contractors. Most of Israel’s illegal settlements are managed by a group of representatives known as regional councils. The company provides security to businesses in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone and the construction sites in the Beitar Illit settlement.

G1 Secure Solutions provides security to eight settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Malam runs an IT services project employing orthodox Jewish women, called Ma’alot in Beitar Illit. And T&M Israel provides security, guarding and escorting services to settlers in East Jerusalem.

Legalized Apartheid: The Israeli Supreme Court Just Cemented Jewish Supremacy into Law

The following security companies also operate in the settlements and industrial zones in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Reshef Security

This Israeli security firm operates in 22 settlements in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the occupied Syrian Golan. Reshef Security won a tender issued by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority in 2019 for maintaining security at nine sites in the Golan and 10 in the West Bank. It works with the Ministry of Education to provide security to educational facilities in the West Bank. And Reshef Security’s National Center for Earthquake Prediction and Control has sensors installed in 10 settlements in the West Bank.

Tzevet 5

Tzevet 5 provides security services to 13 settlements, settlement councils, and industrial zones in the West Bank. In 2019, Who Profits researchers documented Tzevet 5 employees guarding the Og sewage purification plant located in the Jordan Valley in the West Bank.

Moked Matara

This Israeli security and surveillance company’s clientele includes seven settlements in the West Bank. The company’s top executives are all veterans of the Israeli army.

According to his LinkedIn profile, chairman Yossi Refaelov served as a Combat Engineering Brigade commander and Special Operation Unit commander in the Israel Defense Forces. Yossi Arbiv is Moked Matara’s business development manager and “served as a Deputy in one of the Combat Engineering Battalions, as a commander of a Bomb Disposal Unit, as a Special Operation Unit deputy commander and as operations officer of Combat Engineering Corps.” Atai Shelach has served as the company’s director since 2014. Shelach’s Linkedin profile boasts “27 years of military operational experience. He served as the Commander of the special Elite Combat Engineering Unit of the Israel Defense Forces, as Head of the IDF’s VIP Protection Unit, as Chief, IDF’s CBRN Center and as Second in Command of the IDF engineering corps.”

Nof Yam Security

Nof Yam provides security services to four settlements in the West Bank: Ma’ale Adumim, Efrat, Har Gilo, and Elazar. According to Who Profits, “[t]he company’s directors and consultants are former high-ranking officers in the Israeli military and security forces.”

Ben Security

This Israeli security firm operates in eight settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Ben Security ranked 10th in Israel’s index of the leading security and cleaning companies. The company’s estimated revenue is 170 million shekels or just over $50 million.

Galshan Marketing Human Resources Guarding & Security

Galshan is a private security company whose settlement clientele includes Beit El Local Council, Mevaseret Zion Local Council, Mateh Yehuda Regional Council, Gush Etzion Regional Council, and Beitar Illit.

International Institute for Nonviolent Action

Credit | International Institute for Nonviolent Action | Creative Commons


From military head to security firm CEO

It’s no coincidence that many of these companies’ top management officials were once senior military officers. Dr. Hever explained the traditional career step for most retired Israeli army generals is the private sector:

The Israeli military has a very low retirement age — between 40 and 45 — so these officers have time for a second career. That second career explains a lot of why these security companies are so prosperous, and why so many of them are getting so many contracts, because that’s the employment option for these retired generals.”

With the rise of high technology, ex-generals became less desirable as company CEOs, with preference given to engineering and tech experts instead. “The options for these retired generals are narrowing and they either become arms dealers or they set up security companies,” Hever said.

But for Palestinians, whether it’s a soldier or private security guard stationed at a settlement or checkpoint doesn’t matter.

Faced with ICC Investigation, Apartheid Israel Asserts Moral Superiority Over The Victims of Its Terror

“What do Palestinians care who looks at their papers?” Hanna Barag, an activist with Machsom Watch, told MintPress.

The psychological effect that you have to go through a checkpoint with papers when you never know what’s going to happen any day of the year, any minute, and that you never know if you’re going to get these papers back…this is the real occupation, sitting in the fact that you have no freedom of movement.”

Feature photo | An armed Israeli stands atop a water tower in a settlement near the West Bank village of Um Fagarah, South Hebron Hills, West Bank. Oren Ziv | Activestills

Jessica Buxbaum is a Jerusalem-based journalist for MintPress News covering Palestine, Israel, and Syria. Her work has been featured in Middle East Eye, The New Arab and Gulf News.

The post Privatizing the Occupation: How Israeli Corporations Came to Police the Palestinians appeared first on MintPress News.

Zionism’s Anthem: The Danger Lurking in “Jerusalem of Gold”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/09/2021 - 4:27am in

JERUSALEM — The risk of Israel destroying the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock and replacing them with a so-called Jewish temple is real and present. Building a temple in place of the mosque and golden dome that grace Jerusalem today has been a long-time Zionist aspiration, expressed in songs, tales, and, over the last decade, provocations that could lead to the spark Zionists need to raze the Haram Al-Sharif.

One example of Zionist propaganda that lays claim to the Haram Al-Sharf is the iconic Hebrew song “Jerusalem of Gold.” Written by the Israeli national poet Neomi Shemer, it is often presented as a simple song that expresses the yearning of the Jewish people for their lost, historical capital. However, it isn’t hard to see that the song, its writer, and the people who commissioned the song had a very clear political agenda.

The song begins with the following lines:

Mountain air as clear as wine

And the fragrance of pines

Is carried in the evening wind 

With the sound of ringing bells

And in the slumber of tree and stone

Trapped in its dream 

The city that sits alone

And in its heart a Wall

Jerusalem of gold

And bronze and light

To all your songs

I am a violin…

The image of Jerusalem as a lone city sitting alone and secluded, a haunted city with nothing but a past, reflects a romanticized idea that protestant evangelicals and dreamy Zionists share, but it is not a true reflection of the Jerusalem of 1967. The song goes on with the following lines:

How the water wells dried up

The city square is empty

And no one ascends to the Temple Mount

In The Old City

And not a soul goes down the Dead Sea

By way of Jericho.

The city of Jerusalem was divided in 1948 between the newly formed states of Jordan and Israel, and both sides were populated. The Western side was subjected to an ethnic cleansing campaign that emptied it of its indigenous Palestinian population and settled by Zionist immigrants making it an Israeli-Jewish-only city. The Eastern side of Jerusalem, including the Old City, remained in Arab hands and came under Jordanian rule.

The markets in the Old City were filled with people; worshipers on the Haram Al-Sharif (The Temple Mount) prayed; and the water wells were not dried up. Only for Neomi Shemer, who at the time was Israel’s national poet and songwriter, East Jerusalem — and especially the Old City — was empty because, as she put it, “a world without Jews is empty.”

Reading the lines of her song one could almost forget that the Old City of Jerusalem, to which Neomi Shemer was referring, was in fact an Arab and predominantly Muslim city for over 1,500 years. The city also included, among several other minorities, a small, impoverished community of Jews.

Naomi Shemer pictured in July, 2004. Photo | Flash90


A family connection

To add a disclaimer, I must confess that Neomi Shemer was a close friend of my family. Her mother, Rivka Sapir, and my grandmother Sarah both came to Palestine as young Zionist pioneers in the early part of the twentieth century. Even though they settled in different parts of the country — Rivka in the northern settlement of “Kvutzat Kinneret,” a settlement on the banks of Lake Tabariya, and my grandmother Sarah in Jerusalem — they remained the closest of friends for over fifty years. Neomi Shemer and my father were friends growing up, though my father was her senior in age, and the two families were close for decades.

Neomi Shemer admittedly had a deep admiration for the young Zionist men of that generation — men who, like my father, had dedicated their lives to the military arm of the Zionist colonial project, and in fact created the military machine known as the Israeli Army, or IDF.


Determined to “complete the job”

By the 1960s, my father and his generation of officers were all generals and had become the subject of enormous national admiration within the young Zionist state. Their intention — indeed their ambition to “complete” the conquests of 1948 by taking the West Bank and East Jerusalem — was not a secret. Neomi Shemer, like so many other Israelis, shared that ambition, which was an Israel that stretches from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

It wasn’t until May of 1967 that the opportunity arrived to realize the ambition to take the rest of Palestine. Israeli intelligence made it clear that the Arab armies were no match for the Israeli Defense Forces and, with this knowledge, they began to campaign to get popular support to complete their ambition of conquest.


A brilliant campaign

The campaign had several parts. One had to do with perpetuating the lie that the Arab armies were poised to attack and that the “Jewish State” was under an existential threat. This argument was used to pressure the Israeli government, which was at that time hesitant about initiating yet another war, to give the green light to start a preemptive strike.

The other front was more visionary and included the song “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav,” or “Jerusalem of Gold.” Only Neomi Shemer could have written this song. She knew how to play on the chords of national sentiments more than any other songwriter, and indeed she was tasked with the job. The mayor of Jerusalem at the time was the ambitious Teddy Kolek, who no doubt could already taste having the magnificent Old City of Jerusalem under his control. He had the song commissioned just weeks before the war.

With her background, her ability to romanticize Zionism and the achievements of Zionism, and her deep and personal connections to the generals of the IDF, who were chomping at the bit to start a war, Neomi Shemer was sure to deliver the goods. And indeed she did.

Israel’s nineteenth Independence Day was held on the 9th of May that year. The military parade customary on Independence Day was a more modest version, as the military was already preparing for war. The song “Jerusalem of Gold” was performed for the first time by Shuli Natan, a young female singer who was until that moment unknown and was personally chosen by Shemer. It was an astounding success and, overnight, the song was heard throughout the entire country.


The Temple Mount

On June 4, after two stormy meetings between the IDF top brass and Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, the green light was given to conduct a preemptive strike against Egypt. The mandate from the government was to attack Egypt only. However, there is evidence indicating that the popularity of the song had given impetus to the popular demand for Israel to take the Old City of Jerusalem. This meant opening the war to an eastern front and taking the entire West Bank from Jordan. The generals were only too happy to do this, and indeed they did it without waiting for government approval.

The conquest of the Old City was made all the more dramatic as the song had become popular to the point that it was being constantly played on Israeli radio and in every home. I myself remember the song playing before and during the war, as my father spent days and nights at IDF headquarters and my older brother, a young officer at the time, on the Egyptian front. Then came the famous announcement by Colonel Mordechai Gur, commander of the IDF paratrooper Brigade who took the Old City:

I am not a religious man, but I am touching the stones of the Kotel (the Western Wall), I am touching the stones of the Kotel with my bare hands!”

Later on, Colonel Gur called out what became the most iconic statement of the war: “Har Habayit Beydeynu!” or “The Temple Mount is in our hands!”

Immediately after the war, and once the eastern part of Jerusalem including the Old City was conquered by the Israeli army, Neomi Shemer went on tour to perform in front of the victorious troops who were still at the front. At that point she added the following lines to the song:

We have returned to the Water Wells

To the Market and the City Square

A Shofar calls on the Temple Mount

In The Old City

And once again we will go down to the Dead Sea

By way of Jericho.

Neomi Shemer performing her most famous song, “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav.”



After the war there was some criticism of the song for its implication that there were no people in the Old City before Israel had occupied it. However, just as the Zionists did not see the Palestinains as people in 1948, Nemoni Shemer did not see them in 1967. In an interview she gave in response to the criticism, she said, “People criticize me because I say that no one was there when it was full of Arabs,” and then she added, “This made me extremely angry. For me a place without Jews is empty.”


A national symbol

It is said that when a conflict is political it is solvable, but if it becomes religious then it is far more dangerous because each side believes that God is on their side. In the case of Jerusalem, and especially the Haram Al-Sharif, the opposite is true. Zionists have been able to create a yearning among non-religious Israelis to see a “Jewish” temple built in place of the glorious Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, as a national aspiration.

It is as though Israel will not be complete until such a temple — the temple of King David — once again sits there instead of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. As I look back at my own childhood, I can recall countless folk songs in which the building of the temple is mentioned and repeated as a yearning, as a national aspiration of all Jews, religious and non-religious, including ones like myself who were raised completely secular.


Quiet can be a dangerous thing

In a video in Hebrew that came out in 2019, one of Israel’s beloved national public figures, Yehoram Ga’on, who made a career as a singer and actor, speaks to this yearning. He speaks about the “injustice” of denying Jewish people access to the Temple Mount, “the holiest place for the Jews.” In this video, he refers specifically to the fact that on “Jerusalem Day” that year the Temple Mount will be closed to Jewish people because it fell on the last day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Ga’on says that the government — or the “kingdom,” as he refers to it — prefers “quiet” over allowing Jewish people to access what is rightfully theirs. “This is a knockout victory [of] the Islamic calendar over the Jewish calendar,” he says, meaning that, because the dates of their holiday collided with ours, we capitulated for the sake of “quiet.” He explained:

The kingdom does not want to mobilize the army, police and border police to face off crowds who call out ‘With blood and spirit we will free Palestine,’ because the kingdom wants quiet.

All we asked is that we too are allowed to enter the Mount — is that too much to ask?”

Ga’on then went on to say that this desire for quiet means that the Jews have to give in and to forgo their own rights, their beliefs, their existence, and that this is a desecration of the memory of those who gave their lives in battle. The video is peppered with clips of Palestinian “violence,” which contradicts the presumption of “quiet,” and proposes that, even with this egregious injustice to the Jews, Israel does not have the quiet it desires because the Arabs are violently demanding more and more.

The innocence of his proposition could make one believe that indeed Jewish Israelis were the ones living under occupation; that Jewish Israelis are denied rights; that they are the ones who are struggling to survive in an oppressive, apartheid regime that wants to get rid of them. Listening to his reasoning — his quiet, reasonable voice — one could almost be convinced that a terrible wrong has been done to the Jews in Jerusalem.

The ability to exclude the context from every argument is a tactic that Zionist propagandists have used for many decades. They gloss over almost an entire century of ethnic cleansing, violence, racist policies, an apartheid regime, and a concerted effort to rid Palestine of its people and its landmarks.

Fifteen hundred years of history, fifteen hundred years of worship, and maintaining what is one of the most wonderful structures known to humanity are meaningless in the eyes of Zionists. As an example, Al-Aqsa and the structures that surround it are older and in many ways more beautiful and certainly more significant than the Taj Mahal. Now imagine someone coming to claim that the Taj Mahal is sitting on an ancient temple and must be destroyed.

Whether it is Neomi Shemer or Yehoram Ga’on, both of whom are Zionist cultural icons, the message is the same: Only Jews matter. As we look at the short history of Israel, we can see clearly that the role of Zionist zealots was always instrumental in achieving Zionist goals. If it weren’t for zealots, fanatic Zionist settlers, there would be no Zionist state, no settlements in the West Bank, and no State of Israel. The Zionist movement was always a step ahead, indoctrinating, supporting, and funding the zealot settlers who then took things into their own hands and created facts on the ground.

Should the Al-Aqsa Mosque be destroyed, the match will be lit by a fanatic settler, but it is decades of Zionist indoctrination and Israeli policies that will be responsible for the destruction. And all that will be left for the rest of the world to do is look at the ashes in shame.

Feature photo | Dome of the Rock at dawn. Photo | Joiseyshowaa | Flickr CC

Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The post Zionism’s Anthem: The Danger Lurking in “Jerusalem of Gold” appeared first on MintPress News.

‘Blood for Blood’: On Jenin and Israel’s Fear of an Armed Palestinian Rebellion

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 27/08/2021 - 3:23am in

The killing of four young Palestinians by Israeli occupation soldiers in the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank, on August 16, is a consequential event, the repercussions of which are sure to be felt in the coming weeks and months.

The four Palestinians – Saleh Mohammed Ammar, 19, Raed Ziad Abu Seif, 21, Nour Jarrar, 19, and Amjad Hussainiya, 20  – were either newly born or mere toddlers when the Israeli army invaded Jenin in April 2002. The objective, then, based on statements by Israeli officials and army generals, was to teach Jenin a lesson, one they hoped would be understood by other resisting Palestinian areas throughout the occupied West Bank.

In my book, Searching Jenin, published a few months after what is now known as the ‘Massacre of Jenin’ or the ‘Battle of Jenin’, I tried to convey the revolutionary spirit of this place. Although, in some ways, the camp was a representation of the wider Palestinian struggle, in other aspects it was a unique phenomenon, deserving of a thorough analysis and understanding.

By the end of that battle, Israel seemed to have entirely eliminated the armed resistance of Jenin. Hundreds of fighters and civilians were killed and wounded, hundreds more arrested and numerous homes destroyed. Even voices sympathetic to the Palestinian struggle have underestimated Jenin’s ability to resurrect its resistance under seemingly impossible circumstances.

Writing in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, on June 10, 2016, Gideon Levy and Alex Levac described the state of affairs in the small camp. “Jenin, always the most militant of the refugee camps, was battered and destroyed, suppressed and bloodied, by Israel. These days its spirit seems to be broken. Every person is dealing with his own fate, his own private struggle for survival,” they wrote. The title of their article was “Jenin, Once the Most Militant of Palestinian Refugee Camps, Waves a White Flag”.

Being suppressed and shattered by an overwhelming force, however, is entirely different from “raising the white flag”. In fact, this truism does not just apply to Jenin but to the entirety of occupied Palestine, where Palestinians, at times, find themselves fighting on multiple fronts: Israeli occupation, armed illegal Jewish settlers, and the co-opted Palestinian Authority.

However, May 2021 changed so much. The Israeli attempt at ethnically cleansing Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem, the subsequent war on Gaza and the unprecedented uprising of unity, bringing all Palestinians, everywhere, together, lifted Jenin and other Palestinian areas from their state of despondency. The stiff resistance in Gaza, in particular, has had a direct impact on the various fighting groups in the West Bank, which were either disbanded or marginalized.

An unprecedented scene in Ramallah, on May 17, tells the whole story. Tens of fighters, belonging to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which is affiliated with the Fatah movement – the political party that dominates Mahmoud Abbas’ PA – marched on the streets of Ramallah, where the Authority is situated, in a relatively calm environment. The fighters chanted against the Israeli occupation and their ‘collaborators’ before clashing with Israeli soldiers, who were manning the Qalandiya military checkpoint.

This event was quite unusual, for it ushered in the return of a phenomenon that Israel, with the help of its ‘collaborators’, had crushed during the Second Palestinian Intifada –  or uprising – between 2000-2005.

The Israeli military understands that the May war and uprising have triggered an unwelcomed transition in Palestinian society. Long-suppressed, occupied Palestinians are ready to rebel, eager to move on, beyond octogenarian Abbas and his corrupt clique, past the stifling factionalism and self-serving political discourses.  The questions are how, where and when.

This is precisely why Israel is back in Jenin, once more trying to teach the nearly 12,000 refugees there a lesson, one that is also meant for Palestinians throughout the West Bank. Israel believes that if the nascent armed resistance in Jenin is suppressed now, the rest of the West Bank will remain ‘quiet’.

Searching Jenin BookAccording to Palestinian journalist, Atef Daghlas, the Israeli occupation forces killed ten Palestinians during their frequent nightly raids on Jenin. Eight of the victims have been killed since the end of the Gaza war alone. There are two main reasons behind the increased number of casualties among the Palestinians in the last few months: first, the increased number of Israeli raids – where occupation soldiers, often disguising themselves as Palestinians, enter the camp at night and attempt to capture young Palestinian fighters; second, because of the growing number of youth enlisting in various resistance groups. According to Daghlas, the rifles carried by these youth are purchased by the young men themselves, as opposed to being supplied by a group or a faction.

“Blood for blood, bullet for bullet, fire for fire,” were some of the chants that echoed in the Jenin town and its adjacent refugee camp, when the Palestinian residents carried the bodies of two of the four killed youth, before burying them in the ever-crowded martyrs’ graveyard. The fact that Jenin is, once more, openly championing the armed struggle option is sending alarm bells throughout occupied Palestine. Israel is now worried that an armed Intifada is in the making, and Abbas knows very well that any kind of Intifada would spell doom for his Authority.

It is obvious that what is currently taking place in Jenin is indicative of something much larger. Israel knows this, thus the exaggerated violence against the camp. In fact, two of the bodies of killed Palestinians are yet to be returned to their families for proper burial. Israel often resorts to this tactic as a bargaining chip, and to increase the psychological pressure on Palestinian communities, especially those who dare resist.

It might be relevant to note that the Jenin refugee camp was officially formed in 1953, a few years after the Nakba of 1948, the year when historic Palestine was destroyed and the State of Israel was created. Since then, generation after generation, Jenin’s youth continue fighting and dying for their freedom.

It turns out that Jenin never waved the white flag, after all, and that the battle which began in 2002 – in fact in 1948 – was never truly finished.

Feature photo | Palestinian mourners carry the body of Raed Abu Seif and Saleh Ammar, two of four Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the early morning, in the West Bank city of Jenin, Aug. 16, 2021. Majdi Mohammed | AP

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is

The post ‘Blood for Blood’: On Jenin and Israel’s Fear of an Armed Palestinian Rebellion appeared first on MintPress News.

In Masafer Yatta, Palestinian Children Face Stoning, Car Ramming and Terror from Jewish Settlers

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 26/08/2021 - 5:38am in

MASAFER YATTA, OCCUPIED WEST BANK — It’s the first week of school and Sujoud Awad walks with eight other children from the village of Tuba in the Occupied West Bank to the adjacent village, At-Tuwani, to attend class.

An Israeli military jeep crawls behind the group of children as they pass through the illegal settlement outpost of Havat Maon in order to reach their school. The army is tasked with escorting Tuba schoolchildren to and from At-Tuwani. This is the government’s solution to Havat Maon settlers assaulting children along their commute. Despite the army’s presence, settler attacks persist.

In 2015, Sujoud Awad was attacked by masked settlers after delivering water to her uncle, who was grazing his sheep in the fields. On her way home, settlers from Havat Maon threw stones at her, knocking her to the ground. As she lay down in the dirt, a settler approached and pelted her head with a rock. She now has a scar on her head from the attack.

And just this past May, as Sujoud Awad walked to school accompanied by soldiers, a settler yelled at her and the other children in Arabic, “Sons of bitches, go away from here!” Around the same time, 18-year-old student Hamza Abu Junddiya was swiped by the side-view mirror of a settler’s car as he walked to school. Abu Junddiya fell and injured his hand.

Verbal and physical abuse from settlers is often ignored or completely denied by the soldiers. In Abu Junddiya’s case, the military commander of the area disputed his complaint, saying he fell down on his own and wasn’t hit by a settler.


A region plagued by settler and army violence

Masafer Yatta is a region in the South Hebron Hills located in the Israeli-military-controlled Area C of the West Bank. A collection of about 30 agricultural hamlets, Masafer Yatta is home to approximately 4,000 Palestinians who make their living as shepherds and farmers.

Located near a firing zone and encircled by settlements, Masafer Yatta is gripped by settler and army violence.

In the 1980s, the Israeli military declared 12 villages in Masafer Yatta a training zone for the army, referred to as “Firing Zone 918.” The army then evacuated the residents in 1999. Following a petition submitted to the Israeli Supreme Court by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and attorney Shlomo Lecker, the residents were able to return to their villages until the High Court reached a decision.

Masafer Yatta

A lone Israeli policeman is posted near Yatta following a spate of settler attacks on Palestinians on February 6, 2019. Photo | Activestills

Legal battles have dragged on for the past two decades, with the Supreme Court failing to reach a decision. The next court hearing is scheduled for Sept. 19.

Live ammunition has been suspended in the firing zone until a verdict is reached, but military training is still a regular occurrence, with soldiers mowing down fields in Armored Protected Carriers. In February, large combat vehicles ran over cultivated fields — damaging crops and water cisterns — and artillery equipment was left scattered throughout. Days after the operation, a boy lost his hand after encountering a bomb left by the army.

Emboldened by Trump and Netanyahu, Jewish Settler Terrorism is Spiking


A community under constant threat

Firing Zone 918 isn’t the only area in Masafer Yatta under imminent risk of expulsion. The Palestinian village of Khirbet Susiya was coveted by Jewish settlers owing to its proximity to an ancient synagogue. In 1983 a settlement was established around it, and in 1986 the Israeli government declared Khirbet Susiya an “archaeological site” and evacuated the residents.

Susiya’s residents were pushed further and further down from their original village in the subsequent decades. Today, they are surrounded by the settlement of Susiya North and the outposts of Havat Har Sinai and Mitzpe Yair.

Susiya experiences ongoing army demolitions and property destruction from both the military and settlers. But for Susiya resident Hamdan Muhammed the perpetual cycle of home demolitions shouldn’t be the media’s sole focus.

“The real problem is after the demolition,” Muhammed said. “What happens when the family loses their home and the father is angry?” He explained:

The kids learn what they watch. They think all the time about [Israel’s] occupation and demolitions. They never think about playing or going swimming. So if the kids, who are the future of the villages here, think about revenge against the settlers or the army, then it becomes a very complicated place and future for them.

Fire zone 918, South Hebron, West Bank, 20.2.2019

Schoolchildren walk through Firing Zone 918- “Masafer Yatta” in South Hebron, West Bank, 20, 2019. Photo | Activestills

According to a recent study by humanitarian aid organization Save The Children, four out of five children in the West Bank and Occupied East Jerusalem whose homes have been demolished feel abandoned by the international community. A 16-year-old Palestinian said in the report, “Nobody stopped them — or could stop them again — from destroying our home, our lives. So why should I bother to dream about a good future?”

The study also found that more than 70% of parents and caregivers feel powerless, unable to protect their children from home demolitions, ashamed, and angry. Muhammed said the adults try to provide the children with happy moments — like birthday parties or trips to the park. Yet the impact of Israel’s occupation endures. Muhammed offered a comparison:

If you ask the kids in America or Europe their dreams, they’ll have a sweet dream because they live in a good country. But every week, the Palestinian [children] living here see [property] confiscation and army training with helicopters and tanks, so then what can you think about their future? They have no future really.

From a young age, the children of Masafer Yatta experience settler attacks, demolitions, military drills, nightly army raids, and even arrests. In March, Israeli soldiers arrested four boys picking wild vegetables near Havat Maon after settlers accused them of trespassing and stealing parrots.

Viral Video Shows IDF Arresting Vegetable-Picking Palestinian Kids at Behest of Israeli Settlers

“Soldiers are the settlers’ tools,” Basel Adra, an activist and journalist from At-Tuwani, told a group of international journalists during a press tour of Masafer Yatta earlier this month.

Expanding settlements and escalating settler violence is met with impunity by the Israeli army. And for most Palestinian activists living in Masafer Yatta, the military’s inaction on settler violence is seen as a way to protect the settlers.


Violating children’s right to education

Havat Maon is a settlement outpost originating from the nearby Israeli settlement of Maon. Unlike settlements, outposts are considered illegal under Israeli law because they are built without official government approval. Not long after Havat Maon’s construction in 2000, settlers began attacking children walking to school.

American volunteers from the nonprofit organization Christian Peacemakers Teams began accompanying children in 2004 to school to protect against settler violence. But the volunteers’ presence provoked the settlers even more and they attacked the volunteers and children with sticks and chains.

In response, the Israeli parliamentary Committee on the Rights of the Child decided to enact a military escort program for Tuba’s schoolchildren.

“Instead of Israel removing this outpost or at least arresting the criminals [who committed these attacks] or opening an investigation, they didn’t do anything,” Ali Awad, a Tuba resident and activist told MintPress News. “They just had the army accompany the kids every morning and afternoon to and from school.” Ali was one of the first children to participate in this military escort program.

South Hebron

Jewish activists protect Palestinians from Jewish settlers as they walk past the Jewish colony of Adora. Photo | Activestills

“It’s still not really a protection because the criminal settlers are still living there,” Ali said. “Every morning, the kids have to wait for the army to show up and usually the army is late.” Ali explained when the soldiers arrive late the children miss their classes in the morning or are forced to take a six-mile route home in order to bypass the settlement outpost.

Ali recalled waiting for the army with his brother and cousins one afternoon. After three hours of waiting, Ali and his family decided to take the longer route back to Tuba. As they approached a hill just half a mile from their village, a group of settlers chased them. The children ran down the valley to escape the settlers, but one of Ali’s cousins tripped and fell into a stream — breaking her hand, leg, and nose. “It took more than three hours until she was able to reach the hospital [in the nearby city of Yatta],” Ali said. “When she finally did, her body was totally broken.”

Reem Awad skipped a year of school to recover and her parents convinced her to return by saying the army patrols are there to protect the students. “This is not really true,” Ali said. “The soldiers come depending upon their mood. So, if the army didn’t show up again, she might face the same nightmare she had already experienced.”

During the first half of the 2013-2014 school year, religious nonprofit organization Operation Dove found that the army escort arrived late 50% of the time; on six out of 132 school days the soldiers were missing; and on 96% of school days the escort didn’t fulfill all of its protective mandate requirements. One such requirement is for the soldiers to walk alongside the children and not drive in a vehicle behind them. Former students attest that the soldiers rarely interact with them and do not exit their cars.


A resolve to keep going

Ali, now 23 years old, finished high school in 2016 and received his bachelor’s degree in English literature this year. Over the years, though, he watched many of his peers drop out of school as the obstacles to finishing their education mounted. In 2004, 21 students were attending school. By 2016, only two (including Ali) graduated from high school.

For Ali, what kept him going was his activism. He said:

If I want to become a shepherd, I would still be suffering. If I want to become an activist, I would still be suffering. So if I have a dream of finishing my school and if I drop it I will still be suffering in my life, then why not try to become more educated and understand what’s going on so I can speak out about it?

Now as his cousin, Sujoud Awad, begins another year of school, she has a similar dream of receiving an education and becoming an English teacher. She said she feels embarrassed, though, walking past settlers swearing at her just so she can learn.

Ali reflected back to his school days waiting hours for the army and imagining how his classmates might be home having lunch already or heading to the playground. He’d watch inside the outpost as settlers drove their children home from the bus station.

“I always felt discriminated against and feel that I am a special case because I have to pass through this to get my education,” Ali said. “Despite all of that, I still had my dream in front of my eyes.”

Feature photo | Israeli forces conducting a “training drill” in the Palestinian villages of Masafer Yatta, February 3, 2021. Keren Manor | ActiveStills

Jessica Buxbaum is a Jerusalem-based journalist for MintPress News covering Palestine, Israel, and Syria. Her work has been featured in Middle East Eye, The New Arab and Gulf News.

The post In Masafer Yatta, Palestinian Children Face Stoning, Car Ramming and Terror from Jewish Settlers appeared first on MintPress News.

My Visit to Lyd, Where Historical and Contemporary Zionist Oppression Meet

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 20/08/2021 - 1:23am in

LYD, PALESTINE — One of the toughest challenges facing those who fight for justice in Palestine is breaking the Zionist paradigm, which limits the name Palestine to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These two delineations of territory have no historical meaning and no geographical significance. They are no different from other parts of Palestine except that they were drawn by Zionists who, after the murderous 1948 campaign of ethnic cleansing, decided that they would not include those two areas within the boundaries of the Zionist state.

In 1967 the State of Israel occupied these two areas, and today the West Bank exists only in people’s imagination, while the Gaza Strip operates as a prison. After the disastrous Oslo process began in 1993, and the Palestinian Authority came into being, these two areas became known to the world as the State of Palestine.


Lyd as it was

In July 2021, I visited the city of Lyd, where I met with Councilwoman Fida Shehada, a Palestinian member of the Lyd City Council who was kind enough to spend a day with me in her city. She gave me a tour of the town before we sat down for a lengthy and detailed interview, which will soon be posted to my Patreon page.

“Lyd has archeological sites that show it is as old as the city of Jericho,” Shehada told me. However, the state and the municipality refrain from excavating because these sites have no value to the Zionist narrative. Lyd is perhaps most famous for being home to the Church of Saint George. The church was built over the grave of the famous Saint George of Lyd, who was buried in the city of his Palestinian mother’s birth after he was martyred in the early fourth century.

Church of Saint George, Lyd

Church of Saint George, Lyd, Palestine

The world-renowned hip hop band “Dam” is also from the city of Lyd. According to their website, “Struck by the uncanny resemblance of the reality of the streets in a Tupac video to the streets in their own neighborhood in Lyd, Tamer Nafar, Suhell Nafar and Mahmood Jrere were inspired to tell their stories through hip hop.”


1948 bloodbath

It is becoming clear today that the city of Lyd may well have been the site of the worst massacres by Zionist militia in 1948. In a move more cynical than can be imagined, the municipality of Lyd was renamed Lod in Hebrew, and a plaza was built to commemorate the Palmach right in front of the Dahmash Mosque. The Palmach was the largest of the Zionist militias and was responsible for committing massacres in the city.

The mosque itself was the site of a horrifying bloodbath when citizens from the city, who were fleeing the shooting, crowded into it seeking shelter from the violence. But a Zionist militia headed by Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Rabin took no pity on those seeking refuge and massacred everyone in the mosque. More than 150 men, women and children were gunned down.

Palmach Plaza LYD

The Palmach Plaza in front of the Dahmash Mosque, the site of the massacre, commemorating the murderers as the memory of the victims lingers

Those who were not gunned down at the mosque or on the streets were forced to leave the city, and an estimated 40,000 men, women and children were made to take part in what became known as “The Death March.”

In her book “Palestinian Women, Narrative Histories and Gendered Memory,” published in 2011 by Zed Books, Dr. Fatma Kassem recorded the testimonies of Palestinian women from Lyd who survived the massacres and the forced expulsion.

Some of the women whom Dr. Kassem interviewed had witnessed the massacre at the mosque. One recalled:

The first days when the Jews came in, people went inside the mosques, they thought that the Jews would not kill them in the mosques. But they killed everyone who was inside.”

Another woman remembered:

My father and many others went inside the mosque to protect themselves. He was not fighting. He was an old man. My father and my cousin pushed them into the mosque and [the militia] shot all of them.”


The Kaminitz Law

In 2017, the Knesset passed legislation cracking down on “illegal” construction. The provisions of the new law were based on a report written by Deputy Attorney General for Civil Law Erez Kaminitz. According to Fida Shehada, this law has resulted in over 40,000 demolition orders for Palestinian homes in the north and central parts of the country alone — this does not include the Naqab, Jerusalem or the West Bank. The Kaminitz Law is one of many racist laws designed to keep Palestinian citizens of Israel from building homes.

“I remember one day I saw seven homes being demolished all at the same time, at the same minute,” Shehada told me. “I wanted to understand why this was happening and how to prevent this from happening in the future.”

This drove Shehada to study urban planning. But, she said, “then I saw that when they draw plans for the city, they only have plans for the Israeli population, not the Palestinians.” The city does not account for the growth of the Palestinian population, which makes up about 30% to 40% of the city’s population.

Miko Peled Fida Shehada

Miko Peled, left, meets with councilwoman Fida Shehada in the city of Lyd

“We have 30% Palestinian population, but 40% of the school children,” Shehada said, and smiled as she saw the puzzled look on my face. Officially, on record, the Palestinians make up 30%. Still — because of another racist law, called the Citizenship Law, which limits the rights of Palestinians to wed other Palestinians — some are Palestinian women who are married to Palestinian men are deprived of citizenship.

Their children are citizens but cannot attend public schools, “while their mothers are not allowed to study or work or leave their homes.” So, if the father dies, the mother has to leave, and if she takes the children with her back to the West Bank or Gaza, they will lose their status — which, with all its difficulties, is still better than that of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Where Infrastructure Means Prisons: A Drive into the Naqab and the Illusion of Israeli Democracy


A new reality?

In an effort to instill the love of settlement activity in the hearts of Israeli Jews, religious Zionist settlers have made Lyd their home. They have their own municipal budgets and luxury apartments built for them exclusively, even as Palestinians struggle to find housing in the city. During the uprising of May 2021, over 500 armed settlers from the racist, violent Regavim movement moved into the city’s municipality. They aimed to incite violence and terrorize the Palestinian population.

When Councilwoman Shehada questioned the mayor about this, he threatened to report her to the Shabak. The Shabak is the Israeli secret police, known for targeting, detaining and torturing Palestinian political activists. She had to remind him that the Shabak does not work for the mayor’s office.

The most surprising thing I saw or heard during my visit to Lyd was a comment by Councilwoman Shehada: “I am very optimistic,” she said with a grin. “Things are changing, we have seen more Palestinians resist and organize, and I believe that we are facing a new reality today.”

If there is room for optimism, Shehada certainly has a big role in it. “I decided to run for mayor in the upcoming elections,” she told me. Local elections are scheduled to be held in the fall of 2021. Even if the world hasn’t come to terms with reality, Palestine stretches from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean and goes right through the ancient Palestinian city of Lyd.

Feature photo | Israeli police officers stand guard as the home of Hana al-Nakib and her four children is being demolished, in the city of Lyd. Yotam Ronen | Activestills

Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.” 

The post My Visit to Lyd, Where Historical and Contemporary Zionist Oppression Meet appeared first on MintPress News.

Actor Michael Malarkey on Israel-Palestine and Why More Celebrities Don’t Speak Out

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/08/2021 - 12:03am in

The new MintPress podcast “The Watchdog,” hosted by British-Iraqi hip-hop artist Lowkey, closely examines organizations about which it is in the public interest to know — including intelligence, lobby and special-interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. The Watchdog goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media.

Hollywood is not exactly known for being a hotbed of anti-war, anti-imperialist activism. Indeed, so close is the relationship between the national security state and Tinseltown that the Department of Defense casually tweeted out on Oscar Night that it works closely with its “partners” in Hollywood to ensure the military is presented in a positive light.

“Jack Ryan” star John Krasinski went further, explaining that he had an extremely close bond with the CIA. “I owe them everything,” he said. “The CIA is something that we should all not only cherish but be saying thank you for every single day. They’re always trying to do the right thing,” he said of the agency, claiming they “care about the country in a bigger, more idealistic way.”

Hollywood is also a keen supporter of America’s unofficial fifty-first state, and all its highly questionable activities in the Middle East. As Israel was carrying out a blockade of the Gaza Strip, commonly referred to as the world’s largest open-air prison, celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Gerard Butler, Andy Garcia and Pharrell Williams raised over $60 million for the Israeli Defense Forces at a fundraiser.

One celebrity who has spoken up against Israeli actions is the star of “The Vampire Diaries,” Michael Malarkey. As the Israeli government began bombing Gaza in the wake of its storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in May, the 38-year-old actor wrote on his Instagram account:

The obsessive lengths being used to delegitimize anyone taking a stand against Israel’s apartheid regime are deceitful, despicable, and undemocratic. Those who employ such techniques want us to ignore the multitude of human rights abuses, the usage of illegal weapons and warfare, the unending occupation, the illegal annexation of Palestinian territories, and the callous bloodshed of innocents.”

“Now is the time to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel and to openly challenge those few other countries that have long sponsored the Occupation and vetoed UN resolutions condemning it,” he concluded.

Michael Malarkey joins “The Watchdog” host Lowkey today to discuss his career in show business, his political activism, and the difficulties of working in an industry so intertwined with the national security state. “It’s fear-based for a lot of people,” he told Lowkey, explaining why more people in Hollywood do not speak up about their political convictions. “I think we’re at this very interesting and important place in our human history, where we are awakening,” he added, expressing hope that there is now a possibility for building organizations that can fight for a better world.

Born in Lebanon in the wake of the Israeli attack on the country, Malarkey comes from a mixed family: his father is Irish American, his maternal grandfather was born in Nazareth in Palestine. He began his career in theater in London but is perhaps best known for his character, Enzo St. John, on “The Vampire Diaries.” He also plays Sam Foster in “The Oath” and Captain Michael Quinn in “Project Blue Book.”

An accomplished musician, he has also released two albums: “Mongrels” in 2017 and “Graveracer” last year.

Malarkey and Lowkey discuss his upbringing, how Hollywood is a major purveyor of racism, and the link between the weapons industry and the film industry, two of America’s biggest exports.

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The post Actor Michael Malarkey on Israel-Palestine and Why More Celebrities Don’t Speak Out appeared first on MintPress News.

Suheila’s Story: The Two-Year Quest to Reclaim and Bury Her Martyred Brother’s Body

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 27/07/2021 - 11:14pm in

JERUSALEM — Suheila took out the gold, heart-shaped medallion she wears and showed me the images engraved on it — one side has an image of her son, Adnan, as a young man and the other side has an image of her brother, Ali. Ali was killed in 1972 during a hijacking operation; he was 34 years old. Following his death, Suheila worked tirelessly for two years before the Israeli authorities agreed to hand over his body so that she could give him a proper burial. Last night, in a neighborhood in East Jerusalem, she told me the entire story.

It was May 8, 1972, when four Palestinian fighters from the Black September resistance organization hijacked Sabena Belgian airline Flight 571 on its way to Tel Aviv. Suhaila’s brother, Ali Taha, was the commander of the team. The purpose of the operation was to demand the release of several hundred Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. Ali had participated in a similar operation several years earlier. In July 1968, an Israeli airliner was hijacked and made to land in Algeria. The operation succeeded, Israel released two dozen prisoners, and the passengers and crew of the plane were safely released.

This time the Sabena airliner was on the tarmac less than 24 hours when Israeli commandos dressed in white overalls and pretending to be mechanics stormed the plane. They killed Ali and his deputy, Abdel Aziz Atrash, and arrested the two female members of the team, Theresa Halasa, and Rima Tanous. The two women were later released in a prisoner exchange between Israel and the PLO. The Israeli commandos firing inside the plane also caused the death of two of the passengers and slightly wounded two of the commando officers, one of whom was Benjamin Netanyahu.

Remembering Theresa Halasa: Revered Veteran of the Palestinian Resistance

Ali Taha left behind three young daughters and a young wife, Fathiya, who was expecting their fourth child. The eldest daughter, Raeda, wrote a play about her life growing up as a child of a Palestinian martyr, a Shahid called “Looking for Ali.” According to a piece in The New York Times, “Ms. Taha’s show has drawn large crowds and critical acclaim.” Before she introduced me to her aunt, Suheila, Ms. Taha was kind enough to send me the script to read, and it is truly remarkable.

Having seen the Palestinian resistance in all of its shades, Raeda Taha is brutally honest, and she remains loyal to the last will and testament that her father left. In a segment from his will that Raeda included in the play, Ali Taha writes:

There is a charge or trust we ask of you, one that every honest revolutionary aspires to, a trust to be fulfilled as a national duty irrespective of sacrifice: you must keep out of our ranks all who do not belong to them, all mercenaries and skeptics, all who join the revolution for private gain. Their number is doubtless very large and they are the greatest danger to us because they have no sense of decency or honor. Their only aim is to gratify their personal pleasures.”


A Necropolis

After Ali and Abdel Aziz were killed, a funeral was held for them in Beirut. “As I walked in the procession, I heard people comment that the coffins were empty,” Raeda told me. The seven-year-old Raeda heard this and she was confused. If the coffins were empty then where is her father’s body?

The first time I learned that Israeli authorities keep the bodies of Palestinians killed in action, I was in Ramallah with my friend Jamal, himself a former prisoner. We were driving through the city when we noticed a procession of cars honking and covered with Palestinian flags. Jamal stopped the car and said it looked like a procession for a prisoner that was released, only he was not aware of any releases taking place that day. He went to inquire and when he came back he told me something that I can still not get over, to this day: The Israeli authorities had just released the body of a Palestinian who was killed 20 years earlier. They held the body for 20 years and were only then releasing it to the family for burial.

Another shocking revelation was when I saw one of the sites where Israel keeps the bodies of Palestinians. During a visit to Kibbutz Zikim, which is a kibbutz on the southern Mediterranean coast just a few miles north of Gaza, I walked by the local cemetery. Not far from the cemetery but not inside it, I could see what looked like unmarked graves each with a number written on a piece of wood. When I asked what it was, I was told by a resident of the kibbutz that the army leased the land just by the cemetery to bury bodies of slain Palestinians. I am told that in some cases the bodies are kept refrigerated at various other locations throughout the country.


Give me my brother

Suheila could not let the body of her brother remain in a cold, dark box. She was determined to bring him home and give him a proper burial. She had written to everyone from the mayor of Hebron, where Ali Taha was born, to the Israeli prime minister, who at the time was Golda Meir. When letters did not help, she visited their offices. “I was passed around like a ball in a soccer match,” she told me.

Each person she approached passed her to another. The minister for religious affairs, the minister of defense, the local municipality, over and over again. “I have a file of documents this thick,” she said, demonstrating with her hands just how thick it is. “It was all for nothing until I went to see attorney Felicia Langer; she was wonderful, like a sister to me”

Langer was an attorney, a holocaust survivor, who dedicated her life to representing and defending Palestinians in the Israeli legal system, which was and still is dedicated to denying their legal rights. In an obituary to Ms. Langer, Gideon Levi wrote in Haaretz newspaper:

What did this brave and courageous woman fight against? Against torture by the Shin Bet security service at a time when we didn’t believe that such torture existed, yet it was at the peak of its cruelty. She fought against the expulsion of political activists, against false arrests, against home demolitions. Above all, she fought for the enforcement of international law from which Israel decided to except itself on unbelievable grounds. That’s what she fought and that is why she was considered a public enemy.”

Each day for over two years Suheila walked up the steep hill from her home in Silwan — also known as Wadi Hilwe — which is a steep valley just outside the Old City of Jerusalem. She visited every newspaper office and every official until one day she finally got a break. She heard on the radio that U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was in Jerusalem. “I asked the people at one of the newspapers to write a nice letter for me in English.” She then went to the King David Hotel, where all foreign dignitaries stay when they visit the country.

“When I arrived I said, ‘I want to see Kissinger,’” she told me, but she was told that “he does not meet with Arab women.” “Why not?” she asked. Eventually, she spotted Dr. Kissinger, walked up to him, and handed him a letter. “The next day early in the morning, my older brother came knocking at my door, asking where I’d been and what I had done. I told him I gave a letter to Kissinger.” Her brother had a notice from the U.S. consulate that she would be receiving the body of her brother, Ali Taha, and that she must go to the Israeli military headquarters in Beit-El to finalize the arrangements.

On August 5, 1974, after more than two years, Suheila was finally able to bring her brother home. “I demanded to open the coffin and see him. Then I covered his body with the flag of Palestine. Now his daughters have a place where they can visit their father.”

Feature photo | Israeli troops patrol fields around runway 26 where the Hijacked Sabena plane sits, crippled and unable to take off at Lod International Airport,May 15, 1972. Photo | AP

Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The post Suheila’s Story: The Two-Year Quest to Reclaim and Bury Her Martyred Brother’s Body appeared first on MintPress News.

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