Saturday, 6 June 2009

Judeus Mizrahi protestam contra a falta de financiamento para a sua cultura em Israel


Jews of color protest denial of resources to Mizrahi culture in Israel

Members of "Achoti" (my sister), a feminist organization representing jews of color (Mizrahim-Jews who emigrated from Arab countries) and members of the Democratic Mizrahi Rainbow, came to the Jerusalem Theater this week to demonstrate a convention about culture in Israel. The activists held signs that looked like bank checks with names of cultural institutions and the amount of money given to each. One check (in the picture below), addressed to "Mizrahi culture" had no money on it and the wording "void" was added.

Mizrahi Jewish protesters displaying fake checks showing the amount given to discriminatory cultural institutions (photo indybay)
Mizrahi Jewish protesters displaying fake checks showing the amount given to discriminatory cultural institutions (photo indybay)

The activists also criticized the Israeli lottery system that is supposes to support all cultural institutions, by wearing bags covering their faces. In Israel, it is accustomed that when someone wins the lottery they wear a bag over their head to disguise their identity. The Israeli lottery like the state, ignores and negates the cultural background of Mizrahim and Palestinians, who represent a majority in Israel.

In Israel, 90% of the state budget is given to institutions who represent a european and ashkenazi (Jews who emigrated from western countries) culture. To justify this kind of elocution of resources, European culture is described as important and needed for people's education and well being, while Mizrahi and arab culture are describe as redundant and empty.

In a leaflet given to those who have come to the convention, it was emphasized that israel is not located between the Alps and Bavaria in Europe, but in the Middle East. That most of the residents of Israel are not from a European background.

Ahoti Movement was established in 1999 by Mizrahi feminist activists. Their goal was to establish a unique movement that could provide oppressed women, who were unable to express themselves, the opportunity to voice their opinion. After years of raising awareness about Mizrahi women, the Ahoti Movement was able to address the needs of the women in the peripheries of Israel, whose social needs were neglected due to their geographical position. Ahoti's primary goals are to advance economic development, personal empowerment for women and advancing a multicultural feminism from a unique Mizrahi perspective.

The Democratic Mizrahi Rainbow (Hakeshet Hademocratit Hamizrahit) is an apolitical, non-parliamentary social movement whose goal is to affect the current public agenda in the aim of bringing a change into the Israeli society as a whole and to its institutions. The organization is Mizrahi (Jews from Arab and Muslims Lands and the East) in its goals, universal in its beliefs and open to all those who identify with its values.

Exercito israelita mata um e fere outros quatro durante uma manifestacao pacifica em Ni'lin


Israeli army kills one, injures 4 during non-violent demonstration in Ni'lin

During the weekly non-violent demonstration against the wall in the village of Ni'lin, in the central West Bank the Israeli army killed a 36-year old Palestinian man and wounded a Palestinian boy, who was taken to the hospital in critical condition. Three others sustained moderate wounds.

Palestinian injured by Israeli army fire
Palestinian injured by Israeli army fire

As they do every week, the villagers of Ni'lin, supported by international peace activists, held a demonstration to protest the Israeli construction of the wall on stolen village land.

In this week's demonstration there was a special focus on the speech that US president Obama delivered in Egypt. The villagers welcomed Obama's attention to the Palestinian people, but affirmed the need to remove the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

After the Friday prayer, the march towards the construction site of the wall began. Since the morning, the Israeli army had been in the village, positioned on top of the houses. As soon as the protesters approached the construction site, the army opened fire, and also started firing tear gas among the crowd.

Aqel Sadeq Srour was killed when Israeli soldiers shot him in his chest with live ammunition. The man, married and father of three children, died before the ambulance could arrive.

Israeli troops also shot Mohammed Saleh Mousa, 15 years old, using live ammunition. He remains in the intensive care of a hospital in Ramallah, where his condition is reported to be life-threatening.

Three others were moderately wounded when they sustained injuries from bullets being shot at them by the army. Others suffered from the effects of tear gas inhalation.

A number of Palestinian non-violent peace activists have been killed by Israeli forces in Nil'in over the last year during the village's weekly protests, including 10 year old Ahmed Moussa, who was shot by Israeli forces in Nil'in last July.


Israeli army kills one, injures 4 during non-violent demonstration in Ni'lin

During the weekly non-violent demonstration against the wall in the village of Ni'lin, in the central West Bank the Israeli army killed a 36-year old Palestinian man and wounded a Palestinian boy, who was taken to the hospital in critical condition. Three others sustained moderate wounds.

Palestinian injured by Israeli army fire
Palestinian injured by Israeli army fire

As they do every week, the villagers of Ni'lin, supported by international peace activists, held a demonstration to protest the Israeli construction of the wall on stolen village land.

In this week's demonstration there was a special focus on the speech that US president Obama delivered in Egypt. The villagers welcomed Obama's attention to the Palestinian people, but affirmed the need to remove the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

After the Friday prayer, the march towards the construction site of the wall began. Since the morning, the Israeli army had been in the village, positioned on top of the houses. As soon as the protesters approached the construction site, the army opened fire, and also started firing tear gas among the crowd.

Aqel Sadeq Srour was killed when Israeli soldiers shot him in his chest with live ammunition. The man, married and father of three children, died before the ambulance could arrive.

Israeli troops also shot Mohammed Saleh Mousa, 15 years old, using live ammunition. He remains in the intensive care of a hospital in Ramallah, where his condition is reported to be life-threatening.

Three others were moderately wounded when they sustained injuries from bullets being shot at them by the army. Others suffered from the effects of tear gas inhalation.

A number of Palestinian non-violent peace activists have been killed by Israeli forces in Nil'in over the last year during the village's weekly protests, including 10 year old Ahmed Moussa, who was shot by Israeli forces in Nil'in last July.

Oslo Redux: o ouro do tolo em Israel / Palestina

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Oslo Redux: Fool's Gold in Israel/Palestine

The imaginary hope that the Palestinian people are going to give up their fight must end.

By Remi Kanazi

Who doesn't want to blame all the problems Israel/Palestine is currently facing on newly appointed Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu? He refuses to endorse the internationally recognized two-state solution, he is far more combative on settlements than his predecessors, and he has formed a coalition with right wing racist and advocate of forced transfer, Avigdor Lieberman. Listening to the chatter in “liberal” circles, it seems that the stagnation of the peace process is reinforced, not only by Palestinian extremists in Gaza, but by Israeli extremists as well.

This current stagnation plays perfectly into the argument that if so-called moderates were in power (i.e. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni), newly elected US President Barack Obama could make the desert bloom with new handshakes and peace processes. Once Israelis and Palestinians see how serious Obama is, they will trade in their current devils for the angels of old.

This supposed “liberal” framework dangerously dismisses significant realities. Mahmoud Abbas’ mandate as Palestinian Authority President ended on January 9, and he is increasingly seen among Palestinians as a Western and Israeli quisling willing to do anything necessary to maintain power. Secondly, Netanyahu and Lieberman didn’t just stumble upon the 42 Knesset seats their respective parties accrued in last February’s election. Both men represent a considerable and rapidly expanding sector of Israeli society. Moreover, the tone of the Israeli mainstream has shifted further to the right: 94 percent of Israeli Jews supported the war on Gaza; the youth staggeringly embraced Lieberman’s extreme right party, Yisrael Beiteinu, in mock elections across ten high schools in Israel; and in a Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies poll, 60 percent of Israeli Jews favored encouraging Palestinians to leave the state.

The shift in public opinion among Israeli Jews bolsters a foundational position embraced by the vast majority of Israeli society and concomitantly endorsed by Obama himself: the preservation of Israel as a Jewish state. To maintain its Jewish character, Israel must continue to relegate 1.4 million indigenous Palestinians to third class status, employ a set of swiftly expanding discriminatory laws, and refuse the right of return to Palestinians dispossessed from their homeland in 1948. This is not a position that can be nuanced or negotiated; under these circumstances, a Jewish state is anathema to democracy.

The third and most significant reality is that Hamas was democratically elected. Whether Washington likes it or not, Hamas still retains legitimacy in the Occupied Territories, is viewed as less corrupt than Fatah, and since the January war, has strengthened in popularity polls amongst Palestinians the West Bank and Gaza. While politics may dictate Obama’s decisions, imposing rule on Palestinians is not a road to freedom, but rather a set up for failure.

In addition to Washington’s tired strategy being an affront to democracy—and proving to be a complete disaster during the Bush years—it will do little but further stoke tensions and violence between Hamas and Fatah. Furthermore, receding back to Camp David 2000 or the inane Oslo process, where on-the-surface issues of occupation were heralded as the only grievances, does little but put a band-aid on a patient needing an amputation.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, it is not “liberal enlightenment” that sparked the renewed push for a “peace process,” but a fear that time may be running out to grab large swaths of land without significantly affecting the Jewish demographic of the state. A number of “left leaning” Jewish organizations advocating a two state solution, such as the Israel Policy Forum (IPF), proclaim that such a solution is in the interests of the Jewish state. Promoted as a left wing alternative to the right-wing AIPAC, its stated goals appear eerily similar to the latter’s modus operandi. In a full page ad taken out in the New York Times addressed to President Obama, IPF lays out the urgency for a two-state solution. While there was discussion of ending settlements and “superfluous checkpoints,” a notable bullet point emphasized Israel’s “security.” In particular, one section read, “The number of American-trained Palestinian security forces in the West Bank must be increased and their role in preventing violence strengthened.” This loosely translates into arming and training Fatah against Hamas, a disastrous Bush policy that played out on the streets of Gaza with Fatah’s former national security adviser, Mohammed Dahlan, fleeing the tiny strip with his tail between his legs. Omitted is IPF’s commitment to a Jewish state, which does appear on their website stating, “More and more people in the region are talking seriously about other options, particularly the one-state solution. The resulting bi-national state would end Israel's Jewish and democratic character, and destroy the primary rationale for Israel's existence: to serve as a national home for the Jewish people.”

Complementary to IPF’s position, the central focus of nearly all Israeli politicians, as well as the Obama administration, is on a conflict rooted in a post-1967 occupation, whereas Palestinians worldwide are shifting the debate back to the Nakba, or Catastrophe, of 1948. It is not simply how Israel conducts itself as a state, but that the concept of an exclusivist and prejudicial state is no longer tolerable, nor negotiable, for many Palestinians. Rather than fight over crumbs on the table, many Palestinians are beginning to endorse a one-state solution with more vigor, look toward the anti-Apartheid struggle for guidance, and have increased calls for boycott, divestment, and sanction against the state of Israel.

After 61 years of dispossession, 42 years of occupation, and the institution of an advanced system of Apartheid, a new generation of Palestinians are proclaiming that they are not helpless victims in need of a Western interlocutor, but a self-empowered people that will see the dessert bloom on the basis of freedom, equality and justice for all. That is not the Netanyahu or Livni plan, nor is it the Abbas or Obama plan. Yes, the settlements must stop growing but so must the imaginary hope that the Palestinian people are going to give up their fight for a free and equal democracy in Israel/Palestine.

- Remi Kanazi is a writer and poet. He is the editor of Poets For Palestine, available today at He is also the co-founder of He contributed this article to

a política da EU precisa mudar

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

US Policy Needs to Change

What Obama needs to insist upon is actually the dismantling of these colonies.

By George S. Hishmeh

There are great expectations that a new, friendlier era of US policy towards Arab and Muslim countries will be ushered in by Barack Obama's trip to the Middle East.

Not only will he make an important visit to Saudi Arabia, but also he is due to give a major address in Egypt, underlining his administration's praiseworthy attempt to engage the Arab and Muslim world to a degree unmatched by his predecessors.

This gesture builds on several commendable actions taken by the first African-American president of the US since he assumed office in January, including granting the first interview to an Arabic television network, calling several Arab heads of state on his first day in the White House and visiting Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country.

The litmus test for his two-day engagement in the Middle East, however, will be whether he takes some concrete steps towards ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

This is a regional sore point that has marred relations between the Arab world and the US - especially since the prevalent image has been the tight American embrace of Israel since its founding in Palestine, a predominantly Arab country, six decades ago.

In a radio interview, the president acknowledged the "special relationship" that the US has with Israel, but he went on to say there is room for some tough love.

"Part of being a good friend is being honest," he explained, "and I think there has been times where we are not as honest as we should be about the fact that the current direction, the current trajectory, in the region is profoundly negative, not only for Israeli interests but also US interests."

But Aaron David Miller, a former Arab-Israeli peace negotiator for the State Department and author of The Much Too Promised Land, wrote earlier this week that "without laying out a detailed peace plan, the president must talk about how only a two-state solution, based on the June 1967 borders with [Occupied] Jerusalem as the capital of two states, can hold out any hope of ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict".

Although Obama has recently expressed some positive views on how to settle this conflict, his positions on Israeli colonies in the occupied Palestinian territories, and the US attitude toward Hamas still need further embellishment.

It is undoubtedly going to take more than a speech to redress the US's shameful history in the region.

After all, it was president Ronald Reagan who unexpectedly and without advance notice dropped the word "illegal" from a circulated speech and used the softer words "not helpful" to describe the growing number of Israeli colonies in the occupied Palestinian territories. All other succeeding US presidents stuck to this incorrect definition thereafter.

At present, Obama wants Israel only to "freeze" any expansion of its colonies in the occupied West Bank, a request that the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu has adamantly refused to comply with.

But what Obama needs to insist upon is actually the dismantling of these colonies, which number more than 500, and are, after all, illegal in accordance with the Fourth Geneva Convention.

"Placing a freeze... invites failure, and risks eroding the credibility of a much-anticipated US effort to end the conflict," wrote Geoffrey Aronson, editor of a bimonthly report on Israeli colonies, a much-respected publication of the Foundation for Middle East Peace that details Israel's growing expansion into Palestinian territory.

"The urgency of the situation and the failure of all previous [US] efforts to freeze settlements [colony building]," he added, "point to the conclusion that US policy should focus, for the first time, on removing settlements [colonies], defining the border between the states of Israel and Palestine, creating a new security mechanism, and ending the conflict."

Although Obama maintained in an interview with the BBC that his administration will be able to get "serious negotiations" back on track between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the likelihood of any success in this respect is doubtful unless there is a basic change in the American attitude toward Hamas, the Palestinian group now in control of the Gaza Strip, where more than 1.5 million Palestinians live.

Obama ought to recognise that the Palestinians will not be able to undertake negotiations with Israel unless they unify their ranks and form a unity government.

Much as the Obama administration did not question the composition of the Israeli govenment, which contains extremist right-wing, if not racist, groups, it ought to drop its insistence that Hamas recognise Israel's right to exist and other conditions set by the Quartet.

Speaking before The Palestine Center of the Jerusalem Fund more than a year ago, Frederic C. Hof, who was then chief of staff of the Mitchell Committee and at present is a deputy to George J. Mitchell, the special envoy for Middle East Peace, questioned whether it is possible "to explore a negotiated end to [the Palestinian-Israeli conflict] so long as the US views Hamas entirely and exclusively through the optic of the Global War on Terrorism." Rather, he argued, Hamas should be "put back where it belongs: in the Palestinian-Israeli context".

- George S. Hishmeh is a Washington-based columnist. He contributed this article to Contact him at:

Friday, 5 June 2009

os projectos de construcao em Gaza experimentam com barro e entulhos


Gaza building project experiments with clay and rubble

Report, The Electronic Intifada, 5 June 2009

Construction workers on a 5,000 square meter building site haul buckets of clay under the blistering sun to mold large cement blocks to be used in building a school for handicapped children in Gaza City. (Erica Silverman/IRIN)

GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IRIN) - In the face of the ongoing Israeli ban on imports of building materials Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are looking at new building methods, and one project is using clay and rubble.

Local Palestinian non-governmental organization Mercy Association for Children began building a school for handicapped children in Gaza City on 24 May to test a recently developed method using clay blocks, salt and rubble -- with the source material coming mainly from the hundreds of buildings demolished during the Israeli offensive (27 December 2008 - 18 January 2009).

Fourteen construction workers on the 5,000 square meter building site in the Shujayah neighborhood of the city haul buckets of clay for molding into large blocks from which the structure, with its domed ceiling, will be made.

"If the school, upon completion, proves structurally sound we will move forward with other construction projects in Gaza," said lead engineer Maher Batroukh of the Mercy Association for Children. "The school is the first building of its kind in Gaza."

The three-story school, occupying about 1,025 square meters, will contain no steel, cement or concrete, said Batroukh.

The $190,000 project is being funded by the Kuwaiti charity Arab Fund for Social and Economic Development, and will take at least six months to complete, according to Mercy Association for Children project manager Muna Abu Shareh.

International organizations and UN agencies in Gaza are watching the project to assess the potential of the building technology in Gaza.

"If they succeed ... it will be relevant in terms of responding to the destruction from the war," said Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) architect Jonathan Dames. NRC leads the "shelter cluster," a coalition of international organizations and UN agencies working on post-conflict shelter issues in Gaza.

"After one or two winter seasons we will be able to see how the material responds," Dames said.

Gaza's environment authority and the public works ministry would also be monitoring the project, amid concerns that the use of large quantities of clay could affect agriculture.

"It may be a good method in the future, but the use of clay on a large scale could harm agricultural land, already scarce in Gaza," said Gaza environment authority engineer al-Ghaza. "It must first be studied."

Engineer Batroukh of Mercy Association said the school would be tested to ensure the structure was safe by placing cement blocks on the ceiling and by stress testing individual clay blocks at the Islamic University of Gaza.

Owing to space restrictions in densely populated Gaza, for a building technology to be relevant it must be able to cope with at least four-story buildings, Dames said. He explained that several clay-only houses had been constructed, but all were single story homes.

This item comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. All IRIN material may be reposted or reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the copyright page for conditions of use. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Obama, no Cairo: Um Bush em pele de cordeiro?


Obama in Cairo: A Bush in sheep's clothing?
Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 5 June 2009

US President Barack Obama speaking at Cairo University, 4 June 2009. (Chuck Kennedy/White House Photo)

Once you strip away the mujamalat -- the courtesies exchanged between guest and host -- the substance of President Obama's speech in Cairo indicates there is likely to be little real change in US policy. It is not necessary to divine Obama's intentions -- he may be utterly sincere and I believe he is. It is his analysis and prescriptions that in most regards maintain flawed American policies intact.

Though he pledged to "speak the truth as best I can," there was much the president left out. He spoke of tension between "America and Islam" -- the former a concrete specific place, the latter a vague construct subsuming peoples, practices, histories and countries more varied than similar.

Labeling America's "other" as a nebulous and all-encompassing "Islam" (even while professing rapprochement and respect) is a way to avoid acknowledging what does in fact unite and mobilize people across many Muslim-majority countries: overwhelming popular opposition to increasingly intrusive and violent American military, political and economic interventions in many of those countries. This opposition -- and the resistance it generates -- has now become for supporters of those interventions, synonymous with "Islam."

It was disappointing that Obama recycled his predecessor's notion that "violent extremism" exists in a vacuum, unrelated to America's (and its proxies') exponentially greater use of violence before and after 11 September 2001. He dwelled on the "enormous trauma" done to the US when almost 3,000 people were killed that day, but spoke not one word about the hundreds of thousands of orphans and widows left in Iraq -- those whom Muntazer al-Zaidi's flying shoe forced Americans to remember only for a few seconds last year. He ignored the dozens of civilians who die each week in the "necessary" war in Afghanistan, or the millions of refugees fleeing the US-invoked escalation in Pakistan.

As President George W. Bush often did, Obama affirmed that it is only a violent minority that besmirches the name of a vast and "peaceful" Muslim majority. But he seemed once again to implicate all Muslims as suspect when he warned, "The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer."

Nowhere were these blindspots more apparent than his statements about Palestine/Israel. He gave his audience a detailed lesson on the Holocaust and explicitly used it as a justification for the creation of Israel. "It is also undeniable," the president said, "that the Palestinian people -- Muslims and Christians -- have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years they have endured the pain of dislocation."

Suffered in pursuit of a homeland? The pain of dislocation? They already had a homeland. They suffered from being ethnically cleansed and dispossessed of it and prevented from returning on the grounds that they are from the wrong ethno-national group. Why is that still so hard to say?

He lectured Palestinians that "resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed." He warned them that "It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered."

Fair enough, but did Obama really imagine that such words would impress an Arab public that watched in horror as Israel slaughtered 1,400 people in Gaza last winter, including hundreds of sleeping, fleeing or terrified children, with American-supplied weapons? Did he think his listeners would not remember that the number of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians targeted and killed by Israel has always far exceeded by orders of magnitude the number of Israelis killed by Arabs precisely because of the American arms he has pledged to continue giving Israel with no accountability? Amnesty International recently confirmed what Palestinians long knew: Israel broke the negotiated ceasefire when it attacked Gaza last 4 November, prompting retaliatory rockets that killed no Israelis until after Israel launched its much bigger attack on Gaza. That he continues to remain silent about what happened in Gaza, and refuses to hold Israel accountable demonstrates anything but a commitment to full truth-telling.

Some people are prepared to give Obama a pass for all this because he is at last talking tough on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. In Cairo, he said: "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop."

These carefully chosen words focus only on continued construction, not on the existence of the settlements themselves; they are entirely compatible with the peace process industry consensus that existing settlements will remain where they are for ever. This raises the question of where Obama thinks he is going. He summarized Palestinians' "legitimate aspirations" as being the establishment of a "state." This has become a convenient slogan that is supposed to replace for Palestinians their pursuit of rights and justice that the proposed state actually denies. Obama is already on record opposing Palestinian refugees' right to return home, and has never supported the right of Palestinian citizens of Israel to live free from racist and religious incitement, persecution and practices fanned by Israel's highest office holders and written into its laws.

He may have more determination than his predecessor but he remains committed to an unworkable two-state "vision" aimed not at restoring Palestinian rights, but preserving Israel as an enclave of Israeli Jewish privilege. It is a dead end.

There was one sentence in his speech I cheered for and which he should heed: "Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail."

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, 2006). This article first appeared on the Guardian's Comment is Free website and is republished with permission.

"esta coisa, esta coisa horrível, é destruída em breve...."

fonte:Google News (AP)

Ex-Pink Floyd rocker wants Israeli wall down

AIDA REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank (AP) — The legendary rocker and co-founder of Pink Floyd says he would give a concert in a flash if Israel's West Bank wall is torn down.

Roger Waters made the promise Tuesday during a visit to a Palestinian refugee camp that is hemmed in by the separation barrier's tall slabs of cement.

The 65-year-old co-wrote Pink Floyd's iconic "The Wall" album and performed music from it in 1990 at the site where the Berlin Wall once stood.

Waters had harsh words for the West Bank barrier, which Israel says was built as a defense against Palestinian militants.

The musician says the wall amounts to an oppressive grab of Palestinian land and that he hopes that "this thing, this awful thing, is destroyed soon."

os agricultores palestinianos utilizam "premacultura" em desafio para ocupação


Palestinian farmers use permaculture to challenge occupation
Sarah Irving, The Electronic Intifada, 4 June 2009

Marda village beneath the Ariel settlement in the occupied West Bank, 2008. (Amy Rawlins)
At five in the morning on 8 November 2000, Israeli troops invaded the Sustainable Development Centre in the West Bank village of Marda, tearing doors off their hinges and smashing windows. They destroyed seven years of work on the permaculture project. During the two-and-a-half hour rampage, the plant nursery, seed bank, agricultural equipment, computers and files were all wrecked.

The Centre had been established in 1993 to explore ways in which permaculture's principles of self-sufficiency could help Palestinian farmers whose lands were being confiscated and polluted by settlements like Ariel, which overshadows Marda village.

With the help of funding from Europe, the US and Australia, the Centre had managed to store and grow over 300 native plant varieties and had on its two-hectare site run courses for agricultural engineers from across the Middle East on permaculture techniques such as composting, irrigation, grey water recycling and using organic pesticides. It also offered local women training in computer and English-language skills.

The only danger that the Marda Sustainable Development Centre posed was the "threat of a good example" to Israeli military control over civil society in the West Bank. At the time of the November 2000 attack, a spokesperson for APHEDA, one of the Australian non-governmental organizations which supported the Centre, called the Israeli army's actions "a senseless attempt to destroy the morale of the community and another example of the unnecessary force being used by the Israeli military."

Green shoots

Murad al-Khufash spent four years working on that first project in Marda. When efforts to re-open the Centre foundered on a lack of funds and the threats of the on-going Israeli occupation, he decided to use his family's land to create a demonstration farm, continuing the work of trialing and adapting permaculture techniques for the West Bank's environment.

Permaculture, a movement which built on organic principles to develop a whole range of techniques for living self-sufficiently and with minimal impact on the environment, is more often associated with Westerners seeking alternative lifestyles. But, says al-Khufash, it has direct political relevance in the Israeli occupied West Bank.

"I like to help my people by teaching them the idea of growing their own food and to be independent in their markets and food" he says, "because if every farmer or Palestinian started to grow their own food we will be independent from the Israeli market."

Murad al-Khufash hopes that his new project will grow, creating jobs in the local area and allowing Palestinians from Marda and the wider area to stay at home with their families, rather than having to work overseas as he did for five years. But the savings he accumulated by working in the United States have almost run out, and he has had to make some tough choices about the project's future.

"The hardest thing is how to balance what your family needs and what the project needs, this is the hardest decision I have to make, it's a challenge and I have no guarantee of what I will have tomorrow," he explains. He was offered a visa to work abroad again this spring, and only an emergency appeal by organizations like Britain's Permaculture Association enabled him to continue working on the demonstration farm.

"What I got for the funding makes me stay and not give up, because I have hope and I prefer to live in my country and with my family rather than going to Norway and making more money. And I have to trust my friends around the world and accept the challenge, and we will see what happens next," he says.

A lack of funding isn't the only problem faced by al-Khufash's demonstration farm. Israeli army restrictions on movement mean that he has trouble finding volunteers to help on the farm, and the same travel restrictions hamper his own work. Feral pigs, allegedly released into the wild by Israeli settlers, have increased to an estimated 1,000 in number and are strong enough to break through security fences to eat crops, damage olive trees and trample seedlings. Marda is set to lose yet more land with plans to expand the Israeli settlement at Tapuah. Until he can raise the money to build a water cistern al-Khufash, like other Palestinians, is subject to the high charges imposed by the Israeli water company Mekorot -- even though they may well be buying back water stolen from their own land.

Tami Brunk, international co-ordinator for the Marda project, reports that simply carrying out the kind of farming that Murad al-Khufash does can be difficult. He is competing, she says, with farmers who "use all the synthetic fertilizers and pesticides pushed by development groups like the US Agency for International Development (USAID)." Moreover, using permaculture solutions is made all the harder by the bureaucratic impediments institutionalized within Israel's occupation. For example, "Murad's farm was hit in 2007 by a mite which destroyed his crop of cucumbers. There is a beneficial spider which preys on the mite ... but there are restrictions on importing it into Palestine."

The recent funding appeal has meant that al-Khufash's demonstration farm will keep going, at least for the moment. High-profile support from figures in the international permaculture movement has been a big boost to the project's profile and morale, and other West Bank permaculturists have tried to help out by sharing resources and trying to build up a network of like-minded people in Palestine.

The tortoise garden

An experimental permaculture community near Beit Sahour is one of those organizations trying to support Murad al-Khufasha, as well as find new ways of overcoming the Occupation.

Bustan Qaraaqa's Alice Gray emphasizes that permaculture isn't just about alternative agriculture. She hopes that the work being done at the farm she established in February 2008 with three friends from the UK -- one of whom has since been deported -- will tackle wider social and environmental issues.

"Certain native trees are very good at colonizing degraded soil and facilitating other trees that are more demanding to grow, or at soil enrichment and stabilization and altering soil conditions," she explains, pointing out the West Bank's only native tree nursery. Some tree species could help to clean up soil polluted by the chemical and sewage waste pumped out by Israeli settlements.

Bustan Qaraaqa's workers are also looking at ways that native species could help to solve the huge problem of soil erosion on the hillsides of the eastern West Bank leading to the Jordan River. According to Gray, overgrazing on land where Palestinian farmers are increasingly confined to small areas by settlements has created a situation where soil is "being just stripped away, which is totally disastrous, so we're looking at ways of using trees to stabilize the soil, to enrich it, and to provide fodder for livestock and possibly also fuel for people."

Gray adds that "Trees are much more resilient than ground vegetation to grazing and with trees it's quite easy to control -- you can cut the boughs of the tree and you can see when it's had enough and you have to find another source of fodder. But restoring that kind of habitat, if it's not done in the next decades it will be impossible to do at all because the soil's going at such a rate and once it's gone it's gone."

Permaculture's approach to reducing waste is also helping to reduce the volume of rubbish dumped in wild areas by Palestinian communities with no adequate waste management facilities. "We've supported the SOS Children's Village in Bethlehem to set up a composting scheme," Gray explains. She adds that "They're composting all their food waste now, and it can be quite powerful to do something like that, at an institutional level where there is a big volume of rubbish being generated, which might otherwise be just thrown into the desert or set on fire."

Off the grid

The Bustan Qaraaqa community -- a big stone farmhouse surrounded by 12 dunums of land -- also acts as a testing ground for ways of living "off the grid" in Palestine. Like Murad al-Khufash in Marda, Gray believes that lifestyles more associated with alternative communities in Europe and the US could offer new solutions to farmers cut off from their land by the Israeli Separation Wall.

"One of the Occupation's methods is to refuse to give people infrastructure," Gray explains. "Some farmers are saying OK, you build the Wall between me and my land. I choose my land. So the Israelis say -- you can have no infrastructure. No electricity, no running water. Now try living there."

However, she notes that "Permaculture ideas are very much about how to live 'off the grid.' You have to think, how will I get water? So if you harvest rainwater you remove a level of dependency. And how do I handle waste? If you're on a short water budget and there's no sewage collection it makes sense to have a compost toilet. And then there are sustainable ways of generating electricity. That's the next step, we haven't got there yet but we'd really like to work with getting funding to get people solar panels and things like that so they can have electricity at their sites."

As Gray emphasizes, the denial of services is one of the Israeli State's means of enforcing a political agenda aimed at removing the Arab population, from "unrecognized" Bedouin communities in the Negev as well as Palestinian villages near to the Wall. But, she believes, permaculture's reinvention of ways of living that might have been familiar generations ago can help to circumvent the occupation's methods, and farmers from villages like al-Walaja where land confiscation has been a major issue are wiling to try out some of Bustan Qaraaqa's ideas.

Sarah Irving is a freelance writer from Manchester, UK. She worked with the International Solidarity Movement in the West Bank in 2001-2 and with Olive Co-op, promoting fair trade Palestinian products and solidarity visits, in 2004-6. She now writes full-time on a range of issues, including Palestine.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Os medias anexam a Jerusalém Oriental

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

The Media Annexed East Jerusalem

Where are the missing 200,000 settlers?

By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth

Talks between Barack Obama and the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships over the past fortnight have unleashed a flood of media interest in the settlements Israel has been constructing on Palestinian territory for more than four decades.

The US president’s message is unambiguous: the continuing growth of the settlements makes impossible the establishment of a Palestinian state, and therefore peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

It is one he is expected to repeat when he addresses the Muslim world from Cairo tomorrow.

The implication of Mr. Obama’s policy is that, once Israel has frozen the settlements, it will have to begin dismantling a significant number of them to restore territory needed for a Palestinian state.

Understandably, in an era of rolling news many media outlets have been scrambling for instant copy on the settlers, relying chiefly on the international news agencies, such as Reuters, the Associated Press (AP) and Agence France-Presse (AFP).

These organizations with staff based in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv churn out a stream of reports picked up by newspapers and broadcasters around the globe.

So, given their influence on world opinion and the vital importance of the settlement issue in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, can readers depend on the news agencies to provide fair coverage? The answer, sadly, is: no.

Even on the most basic fact about the settlers -- the number living on occupied Palestinian territory -- the agencies regularly get it wrong.

There are about half a million Jews living illegally on land occupied by Israel in the 1967 war. Give or take the odd few thousand (Israel is slow to update its figures), there are nearly 300,000 settlers in the West Bank and a further 200,000 in East Jerusalem.

Sounds simple. So what is to be made of this fairly typical line from a report issued by AFP last week: “More than 280,000 settlers currently live in settlements dotted throughout the Palestinian territory that Israel captured during the 1967 Six Day War”?

Or this from AP: “The US considers the settlements -- home to nearly 300,000 Israelis -- obstacles to peace because they are built on captured territory the Palestinians claim for a future state”?

Where are the missing 200,000 settlers?

The answer is that they are to be found in East Jerusalem, which increasingly means for agency reporters that they are not considered settlers at all.

In many reports, East Jerusalem’s settler population is left out of the equation. But even when the news agencies do note the number of settlers there, they are invariably referenced separately from those in the West Bank or described simply as “Jews”.

Worse, this misleading approach has had a trickle-down effect. Major newspapers’ own staff make the same basic errors.

Thus, the New York Times blithely reported last week that the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, had made a “brusque call on Wednesday for a complete freeze of construction in settlements on the West Bank”.

In reality, she had said that the US president wanted “to see a stop to settlements -- not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions.” The implication was that the White House wants a freeze on all settlements, including in East Jerusalem.

This is not linguistic nitpicking.

Israel’s attempt to differentiate between the status of the West Bank and that of East Jerusalem, even though these adjacent territories are equally Palestinian and were both captured by Israel in 1967, lies at the heart of the conflict and its resolution.

Israel’s official position, accepted by its politicians of the left and right, is that in 1967 Israel “unified” Jerusalem by annexing its eastern, Palestinian half, and made the city the “eternal capital of the Jewish state”.

The 250,000 Palestinians of East Jerusalem -- given a status of “permanent residents” rather than Israeli citizens -- are not regarded by Israelis as living under occupation.

Further, after 1967, Israel redrew the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem to incorporate a huge swathe of the West Bank stretching almost down to the Jordan river. Annexation became a way not only to grab East Jerusalem but also to build settlements on a much larger area of land to sabotage Palestinian hopes of statehood.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, declared recently of East Jerusalem that it “is not a settlement and we’ll continue to build there”.

That view was shared by Ehud Olmert, who ordered thousands of homes for Jews to be built in the Palestinian part of the city in his final months in office, despite commitments he made for a settlement freeze at the Annapolis peace conference in late 2007.

Most of the Israeli media can be depended on to toe the government line on East Jerusalem. But why are many foreign journalists doing the same? Some doubtless are ignorant, others lazy.

But agency reporters and their editors, who are well-versed in the intricacies of the conflict, are neither. Invariably, however, those making the final editorial decisions -- as opposed to their Palestinian stringers who supply raw copy -- are too close to Israel to remain entirely dispassionate.

Some are Israeli citizens, or married to one. But, even among those who are not, the overwhelming majority of senior editorial staff live inside Israel, and soak up the Israeli coverage, either in Hebrew or English. They also eat in Israeli restaurants and go to Israeli parties, making them susceptible to adopting the consensual Israeli perspective.

All too easily, agency journalists end up mirroring -- and adding a veneer of legitimacy to -- Israel’s opinion about East Jerusalem.

Senior agency staff have admitted to this blind spot in their coverage. “We think of the East Jerusalem settlers as a separate category,” said one, who requested anonymity. Why? “Because that’s Israel’s view of them.”

Questioned further, he agreed that they should probably be included in the figures for settlers. “It’s something we’re discussing,” he added.

There is no time to lose. Without care, other deceptions Israel is keen to foist on the US administration could also end up becoming ingrained in agency copy.

Israel wants a distinction made between the so-called outposts, which are home to a few thousand settlers, and the 120 established settlements; and between the smaller settlements west of Israel’s separation wall and the bulk on “Israel’s side” but still in Palestinian territory.

It is the duty of reporters to remind their readers of the internationally accepted understandings about the settlements. They should not forget that international law, and possibly now the White House’s vision of peace, requires the removal of 200,000 settlers in East Jerusalem too.

- Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilizations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). He contributed this article to Visit his website: (A version of this article originally appeared in The National,, published in Abu Dhabi.

contestando os obstaculos de Israel, o festival palestiniano celebra a cultura


Despite Israel's efforts, Palestinian festival celebrates literature
Sousan Hammad, The Electronic Intifada, 4 June 2009

The flier for the second annual PalFest.
One of the Israeli police officers who shut down PalFest's opening night in Jerusalem.

For many Palestinians, the month of May is associated with the commemoration of the Nakba. But with the increasing popularity of the arts in Palestine, the second annual Palestine Festival of Literature (PalFest) harmoniously unfolded to the final days of spring, a time also for lavender and lilies.

Ahdaf Soueif, an Egyptian-born novelist, along with Brigid Keenan, a travel writer, and Victoria Brittain, a former editor of the Guardian, came up with the idea of having a world-class literature festival in Palestine. "Last year we brought a festival to Palestine, and Palestine taught us so much in return. Palestinian cities -- even under siege and a cruel military occupation -- manage to produce brilliant art and top class education. PalFest aims to contribute to that rich cultural life," Soueif said.

Of the festival's 21 featured writers were Michael Palin, a travel writer and actor from the Monty Python series; Suheir Hammad, a Palestinian poet and actress from Brooklyn; Suad Amiry, a Palestinian architect and memoirist; and Henning Mankell, an international best-selling crime novelist and playwright, among many more.

"We chose people who wanted to know more about Palestine. This is a way for them to get in and see it, and hopefully, go home and write about it," PalFest producer Omar Hamilton said.

The featured writers traveled throughout the West Bank to conduct workshops and discuss their literary work in panel discussions and seminars. In between, participants toured various refugee camps and centers in Jenin, Hebron, Bethlehem and Ramallah.

Poet Suheir Hammad performing at the Sakakini Center in Ramallah.

Because the writers were aware of Israel's unjust treatment toward Palestinians, organizers agreed that to get a legitimate feel of Palestine they would travel as "Palestinians." This meant the caravan of writers dealt with the cattle-trade of checkpoints, interrogations, and more.

"We wanted the writers to travel how Palestinians travel. We didn't want them to have special treatment," Hamilton said.

On a Saturday, at the courtyard of the Palestinian National Theatre in Jerusalem, the festival began like a huge family wedding. Piles of food and flowers stretched along a table. Writers greeted fans and weary travelers as stories of the previous day's arduous border crossing, from Jordan to Jerusalem, were exchanged. The evening had been set to begin at 6:30pm and writers Carmen Callil, Henning Mankell and Claire Messud were to start the first panel titled, "Choosing Departure -- a Different Perspective?"

But the law-making chimeras of Israel, it turns out, were not amused, and writers witnessed -- on a scale unprecedented to what Palestinians face every day -- Israel's draconian measures.

Minutes prior to the festival's start, armed Israeli police barricaded the National Theatre with a court order to shut the literature festival down. In badly written Arabic, the court order posted on the theater's door declared the festival illegal, according to Article 3A of a 1994 Interim Agreement, which determines the Palestinian Authority (PA) cannot open or operate a representative mission in the area considered to be the State of Israel without written permission by Israel.

Despite the festival having no connection to the PA, the theater's doors were locked and festival organizers, participants and attendees hastily relocated to a different venue where everyone helped set up chairs in the garden of the French Cultural Center.

"Today, we saw the clearest example of our mission: to confront the culture of power with the power of culture," Ahdaf Soueif wrote on PalFest's blog. The next day the festival went to Ramallah. In the garden of the Sakakani Center, a crowd of people, mostly internationals who work with non-governmental organizations in the West Bank, sat underneath the suspended arches of a fig tree.

First up was a panel titled, "Family: Separated by Life, Rejoined by Literature," with writers Carmen Callil, founder of Virago Press; Jamal Mahjoub, author of Traveling with Djinns; and Jeremy Harding, a nonfiction writer and editor at The London Review of Books.

Harding is the author of Mother Country, a literary memoir on adoption and the need to belong. He talked to the crowd about his thoughts on family, or what he called an immense comic confusion. "What I wanted to do is write a comedy about the misunderstandings of adoption, the things that children, or I at any rate, failed to grasp when I was told I was adopted," he said. The following panel featured two of the four Palestinian writers who were participants of the festival: Raja Shehadeh, who wrote the magnificent Palestinian Walks, and Suad Amiry, author of Sharon and my Mother-in-Law. Along with Michael Palin, they discussed the literary theme of changes in landscape and architecture. Each writer read an excerpt from their book.

Amiry, who said she became a writer by pure accident, delivered an elaborate, satirical tale from her forthcoming book, Murad Murad, a story of the humiliations of a Palestinian worker named Murad who dresses in the "garb" of an Israeli -- spiky, gelled hair, outlandish sunglasses and cropped shorts -- to find work in Israel.

She then spoke to the audience about the concept of time and space in a changing Palestine. "When [Palestinians] were under curfew for 42 days, it really felt like 42 years. I had my mother-in-law in my house and the Israelis in my garden, so I had two occupations: one inside and one outside," she said.

The crowd laughed.

On day three of the six-day festival, the caravan of writers split up: some journeyed over to Jenin refugee camp where Michael Palin and Henning Mankell conducted a workshop with the young actors from the Freedom Theater, while others went to Birzeit University for a workshop with the university's literature students.

Writer Robin Yassin-Kassab leads a workshop with students from Hebron University.

Standing on the small stage of the theater, a mood of hilarity had set in as Palin spoke of his encounters as a travel writer: meeting new people in a new land, and relating it to how actors could benefit from humor to unsettle people. "The best way to create communication and break down barriers is by using humor. It's about being able to laugh at ourselves and sometimes see our situation, wherever it is, as part of the general absurdity of the world we live in," he said.

The young actors, all residents from the camp, enthusiastically performed a scene from a forthcoming play. Mankell and Palin then critiqued the play, offering basic advice.

Last up that evening was Suheir Hammad. Back at the Sakakini Center in Ramallah, a full crowd sat under clouds of cigarette smoke as Hammad recited poems about Gaza, her mother and Mahmoud Darwish. Dressed in a purple chiffon dress, curls wild as ever, the crowd listened with frozen smiles -- some even wiping away tears -- to her elegies of Gaza.

Day four, in Bethlehem, the caravan of writers passed the graffiti-covered apartheid wall beneath the watchtowers with pillbox windows, and drove into the besieged birthplace of Jesus.

After spending the day touring Azzeh camp, one of the smallest refugee camps in Palestine, and meeting with community leaders from Aida refugee camp, the busload of writers began the evening with a panel discussion titled, "Literary Representations of Migration and Travel."

Writers Robin Yassin-Kassab, Claire Messud and Michael Palin chatted on stage with Jamal Mahjoub about their travel writings.

"We all have the complexity of departure and travel," Messud said, referring to the essence of Britain's past, its changing landscape, and relating it to contemporary life in the West Bank.

Palin held command of the discussion, however, looking directly at the audience while he spoke about his inspirations. "I grew up reading Hemingway's adventure series ... my imagination was greatly stimulated by stories of travel," he said. The discussion, as all others, was in English, but headphones were available for those needing translation.

Sari Freitekh, a Palestinian who spent much of his time in the US, said, "I was kind of surprised that [the festival] was all in English. You would assume that as an event taking place in Palestine, part of it would be in Arabic. But the idea is coming here, and I think it's good that they came."

The next day the festival went to Hebron where the writers visited the Old City, a place now draped, literally, beneath a suspended fishnet positioned to prevent garbage strewn by Israeli settlers from above.

A panel of PalFest participants in Bethlehem.

Rumors telephoned around that Israeli officials would again shut down the festival on the closing night. In a symbolic act of defiance, however, everyone optimistically gathered at the Palestinian National Theatre.

But in a familiar and somewhat acquiescent tone that Thursday evening, the festival's closing night began with a horde of people walking from the National Theatre to yet another venue designated at the last minute -- this time, the British Council. Again, everyone rushed to set up chairs as Jerusalem, the supposed Arab Cultural Capital of 2009, was a temporary home to a literature festival twice shut down by Israel.

In yet another beautiful garden, some people stood, while others sat on the white plastic chairs spotted on the grass to hear the festival's writers read inspirational words not of their own writing.

Jeremy Harding read an excerpt from a novel by S. Yizhar titled, Khirbet Khizeh, a book about the violent expulsion of Palestinian villagers by the Israeli army in 1948, while novelist M.G. Vassanji read an excerpt from Odyssey, when Homer comes back to Ithaca and finds it occupied. Palestinian poet Nathalie Handal said the words that inspired her most were the silent words of the land: the scent of jasmine, the words from Mahmoud Darwish's spirt. "Silence has taken our voices," she said.

After six days, a lesson was learned: Palestine is not just a place that will prevail from its proud resistance alone; it needs the popularity of art. Whether the literature festival, or the many film festivals and exhibitions around the world, art is a passionate way to affirm the commitment of the Palestinian motif.

"To use the words of Aime Cesaire," Robin Yassin-Kassab said on the closing night, "There is room for everyone at the rendezvous of victory."

All images by PalFest.

Sousan Hammad is a journalist based in the West Bank city of Ramallah. She can be reached at sousan D O T hammad A T gmail D O T com.

Obama, Islao e illuseos

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Obama, Islam and Illusions

Hopefully Obama will open the way to a more substantive dialogue with the Muslim world.

By Terry Lacey – Jakarta

In Cairo President Barack Obama has to show if he can make a break with the illusions of the Bush legacy as far as the Muslim world is concerned.

Arief Munandar, recently reviewed The Illusion of an Islamic State: Expansion of Transnational Islamist Movements to Indonesia, and concludes that its lumping together of Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the Council of Indonesian Jihad Fighters (MMI) and the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) is “simplistic, unfocused and runs counter to historical fact.” (Jakarta Post 31.05.09).

Arief rejects the simplistic categorization of Muslim ideas and organizations into two camps representing “Wahabism” or “moderation”.

He argues the Muslim Brotherhood (IM) is not monolithic and you cannot simply equate IM with Sayyid Qutb. Hassan Al Banna, IM´s founder said his followers should be moderate and wise in accepting differences, since IM did not claim to be a group embracing all Muslims, but one among many striving to restore the glory of Islam.

There is little evidence that modern political Islam is a systemic threat to the West.

Political Islam in Egypt and the Gaza Strip is home grown, not made in Iran. In Egypt a growing parliamentary opposition is pro-economic and social reform, while in Gaza and the West Bank, Hamas won a democratic election in 2006 on a platform of reform, against corruption and resistance to Israeli occupation.

In Turkey the Justice and Development Party (AKP) is in power, pro-Western, pro NATO, pro liberal economy, and aside from some understandable anger over the Gaza war, normally has economic, political and security co-operation with Israel.

In Malaysia the Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) is politically Islamic, but allied with non Muslim ethnic minorities and parties in a rainbow coalition to promote economic and social reform in a majority Muslim society and to contest the 50 year monopoly of national political power of the politically conservative United Malays National Organization (UMNO).

In Indonesia the PKS leads four Islamic parties in a coalition led by the Democratic Party of the incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in support of a joint political program based on reform of international economic institutions, anti-poverty measures, support for small and medium enterprises and continuing reform of public administration alongside an anti-corruption drive. This coalition will probably win the direct presidential elections on July 8h and rule Indonesia for five years as of October.

Israeli and Western attempts to pinpoint Iran partly reflect determination to prevent it becoming a nuclear power, but Iran also seeks recognition for its strengthening regional role. After all it the US and the West that installed a pro-Iranian government in Iraq and Syria is also closer to Iran now.

But the demonization of Iran is central to an Israeli diversionary strategy to hold off US pressure against the continued growth of Israeli settlements and for a compromise on the twin state solution and the status of Jerusalem. In the Iranian direct presidential elections on June 12th, Mirhossein Mousavi, standing for economic liberalization and detente with the West, while continuing the nuclear program, is a serious contender against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

What Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu really fears is that the US government may reach a rapprochement with Iran and then continue to press his government on Palestine.

The latest clashes between Hamas and Fatah in Qalqilya on the West Bank confirm we are unlikely to see Palestinian reconciliation anytime soon. Israeli, PLO and Western moves to bring Hamas down by political and economic blockade of Gaza and repression in the West Bank are likely to continue until its obvious this will fail.

Clearly Hamas is a threat not because of a narrow Islamic agenda but because of its broader nationalist appeal. To demonize Hamas as simply terrorist or fundamentalist is not convincing. World opinion is not fooled by this, despite absurd court judgments in the US. This is a political struggle. Politically Hamas is getting stronger and this conflict is strengthening other Islamic movements.

Meanwhile the recent visit of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, to Indonesia brought a breath of fresh air on Islam and politics as well as a trade and investment package to Indonesia including LNG gas, investment in telecoms and backing for Indonesian infrastructure via a joint fund with state enterprises.

Qatar is strongly influenced by Wahabi ideas, but the Emir himself donated the land for the first new Christian church catering mostly to migrant workers, and there are now at least six of them (Jerusalem Post 16.03.08).

Qatar also lined up with Saudi Arabia, across the supposed radical-conservative divide after the Western-backed summit in Egypt to try to plan post-war aid to Gaza, when both preferred to push their economic support into Gaza directly and not via the Palestinian Authority, which does not rule Gaza.

So where, in practice, are all these rigid categories differentiating Wahabi extremists from Muslim moderates?

Where does this leave the naive black and white categories that the Report Islam and Illusions sought to impose upon Indonesia and the Muslim world with its “carefully structured interviews with 591 extremist figures, belonging to 58 different organizations”. Who decided who was extremist and who was not?

Perhaps we should follow the innovative example of statesmen like the Emir of Qatar and let constructive realities based on modern Muslim experience supplant divisive definitions representing the illusions of yesterday instead of the realities of tomorrow.

Hopefully President Obama in his Cairo speech will open the way to a more substantive and flexible dialogue with the Muslim world and put aside the illusions, prejudices and caricatured categories of the Bush legacy.

- Terry Lacey is a development economist who writes from Jakarta on modernization in the Muslim world, investment and trade relations with the EU and Islamic banking. He contributed this article to

o problema emergente de lixo em Gaza


Gaza's emerging trash crisis
Erin Cunningham, The Electronic Intifada, 3 June 2009

GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) - Suliman Khodari begins his shift at 5am on one of Gaza City's busiest streets. With his horse-drawn cart, Suliman spends seven hours every morning hauling away the rubbish left by residents and shop owners of the neighborhood. But he is not a scavenger.

Suliman is one of 150 animal cart owners currently collecting garbage for the Gaza City municipality. Two years of economic blockade and Israel's recent assault on the territory have crippled the ability of municipalities to get rid of solid waste.

Shortage of fuel and spare parts have rendered the majority of the Gaza Strip's garbage trucks unusable for rubbish collection -- and the ones that are left require almost daily maintenance. Local governments have been forced to rely on animal carts as a result.

"Because of the siege, and now after the war, we are working in a crisis situation all of the time," says Gaza City's director of environment and health, Abdel Rahem Abulkumboz.

"Our work is based on the fact that we are constantly in a state of emergency," he says.

On 27 December, Israel launched a three-week assault that killed more than 1,400 Palestinians and decimated wide swathes of infrastructure across Gaza.

Throughout the assault, Gaza's solid waste sector sustained serious damage -- to its garbage trucks and their repair facilities, community trash containers, bulldozers used to flatten waste, and roads used to access landfills.

The Gaza Strip maintains three major landfills for its 1.5 million inhabitants -- in Gaza City, Deir al-Balah in central Gaza and Rafah in the south.

According to the Early Recovery and Reconstruction Plan for Gaza presented by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to international donors at the February Gaza reconstruction conference at Sharm al-Sheikh, Egypt, Gaza's solid waste sector needs an immediate injection of $3 million to function properly over the next year.

In the Rafah municipality alone, home to 150,000 people, over $275,000 in damage was done to solid waste infrastructure, according to a rapid assessment made by the local government in March.

But nothing from the $2 billion in reconstruction funds pledged by international donors at the Sharm al-Sheikh conference has been received -- and high recovery costs have further impeded local governments from rehabilitating their solid waste services.

Fuel, funds and supplies from the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) currently sustain much of Gaza's solid waste sector. The World Bank finances the 150 animal cart owners working for the Gaza City municipality.

"The population doesn't have enough income to pay for even their basic needs, so how can they pay for our services?" says Mohammed al-Halabi, director of international cooperation at the Gaza City municipality.

"Our fee for trash pick-up is eight shekels ($2) per month, and sometimes we can't even collect that," he says. "The disposal of one ton of solid waste costs between 80 and 100 shekels ($20-$25). The municipality just doesn't get that money back."

Also during the war, garbage collection services came to a virtual standstill, and 22,000 tons of rubbish consequently piled up in residential areas across Gaza, attracting flies, mosquitoes and rats.

In addition, approximately 600,000 tons of debris, from damaged homes, businesses and factories overloaded the already weakened system in the aftermath of the war.

"The war was a disaster for our capacity to remove and dispose of waste properly," says al-Halabi. "We have trouble collecting and transferring normal waste. How could we possibly remove all of the rubble, too?"

Abulkumboz says the inability of municipal governments to separate hazardous medical waste from regular household waste continues to pose a major health risk to both the civilian population and to solid waste workers.

"Much of the rubble contains high levels of asbestos," Abulkumboz says. "And it is well known that asbestos causes cancer. The children, the scavengers, the people who live near this garbage -- they are all at risk."

Gaza City -- home to the strip's largest population centre with 550,000 of the strip's 1.5 million inhabitants -- produces 600 tons of solid waste each day.

Its landfill, seven kilometers east of the city center and on Gaza's border with Israel, receives an additional 400 tons of waste from Jabaliya, Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanoun in the north.

Al-Halabi says the landfill will reach its full capacity by the end of this year, and that the municipality will need to secure new land in order to accommodate the growing amount of solid waste produced by the city's inhabitants.

An additional landfill has been established temporarily at the centre of Gaza City. "We are currently looking for funds to help the municipality purchase and prepare more land to expand the site," al-Halabi says.

"And eventually we will need to look towards new technologies for waste disposal, because I think it's obvious Gaza has a shortage of land."

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), .04 square kilometers of land is consumed ever year for waste disposal purposes in Gaza. The territory is just 365 square kilometers.

But Abulkumboz says there is little use in discussing any long-term solutions for Gaza's mounting rubbish problems as long as the municipalities are bankrupt and the borders are closed.

For now, Abulkumboz says, he and his counterparts would be content just with spare parts for the vehicles and enough fuel to allow them to collect and transfer the waste properly.

With summer approaching, and as Gazans begin heading to the beach, Abulkumboz says Gaza's minimal solid waste resources will be stretched even further.

"All we want is to be able to get the trash off the streets and keep our people healthy. That's it. But with what little we have now, we can't even do that."

All rights reserved, IPS -- Inter Press Service (2009).

Obama deve visitar Gaza


Obama should visit Gaza
Medea Benjamin, The Electronic Intifada, 3 June 2009

US President Obama should visit the Gaza Strip to see the death and the destruction caused by Israel's recent attacks. (Matthew Cassel)

US President Barack Obama will give a major policy talk at Cairo University on 4 June, intended to start mending the rift between the United States and the Arab world. During the Bush years, many Arabs turned against the United States because of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the abuses at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. But the issue that is really at the crux of the tensions with the United States is the intractable conflict between Israel and Palestine, and what many perceive as a one-sided US policy in support of Israel.

The Obama administration has taken a positive stand on the Israeli settlements, calling for a complete freeze. "[Obama] wants to see a stop to settlements -- not some settlements, not outposts, not 'natural growth' exceptions," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently told reporters.

But the administration has said almost nothing about the devastating Israeli invasion of Gaza that left more than 1,400 dead, including some 400 children. To many in the Middle East, this is an unfortunate continuation of past policies that condemn the loss of innocent Israeli lives, but refuse to speak out against the disproportionately greater loss of Palestinian lives at the hands of the Israeli military.

The Israeli invasion of Gaza began on 27 December 2008, when Obama had just won the election but had not yet taken office. While he spoke out against the 26 November Mumbai terrorism attack, he refused to even call for a ceasefire in Gaza, saying coldly, "When it comes to foreign affairs it is particularly important to adhere to the principle of one president at a time."

Once inaugurated, Obama appointed former Senator George Mitchell as a special peace envoy and immediately sent him on a "listening tour" to key places in the Middle East -- except Gaza. Mitchell returned for a second trip to the region in late February, visiting Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Israel and the West Bank but once again bypassing Gaza. The same thing happened on his third trip in April.

Hillary Clinton has never visited war-torn Gaza. She promised $300 million for rebuilding, but the aid won't get to Gaza as long as the administration insists on dealing only with Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority in the West Bank while shunning Hamas, which controls Gaza and was democratically elected.

Obama won great support from the American people during the presidential campaign when he said that America must talk to its adversaries, without preconditions. But his administration now puts ridiculous conditions on talking to Hamas: It must recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept previous international agreements. Israel, on the other hand, does not have to recognize Palestine, renounce violence or abide by past agreements. Putting preconditions on just one side of the conflict makes it impossible to move a peace process forward.

While Obama prepares for his trip to the Middle East, more than 150 people -- mostly Americans -- are trying to enter war-torn Gaza through both the Egyptian and Israeli borders. Organized under the umbrella of the peace group CODEPINK, this is the largest group of Americans to travel to Gaza since the siege began.

The delegations, invited by the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), are bringing medicines, toys, school supplies and playground building materials. An estimated 1,346 Gazan children were left without one or more of their parents as a result of the Israeli assault and the majority were left traumatized and depressed.

That's why the peace group CODEPINK has launched an international petition calling on Obama to visit Gaza and see for himself the devastation and deprivation that continues to plague the region's 1.5 million people almost six months after the invasion. Just this week, Obama tacked a new stop to his upcoming Middle Eastern visit: Saudi Arabia. If he can make room for a private dinner with the King, then surely he can find the time to go to Gaza. Isn't it more important for Obama to visit a region where 1,400 people have recently been killed and thousands of homes, schools and mosques destroyed? Isn't it more important for him to see how the Israelis are using the yearly $3 billion in military aid from US taxpayers?

Obama should take the opportunity, during this visit to Egypt next week, to visit Gaza. He should express his condolences for the loss of so many innocent lives, call for a lifting of the inhumane siege that continues to imprison an entire population, and support an investigation of how US military funds to Israel are being spent.

Those actions, more than any fine words he may speak during his talk at Cairo University, will do wonders to repairs our relations with the Arab world that were so tattered during the Bush years.

Medea Benjamin ( is cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

um sobrevivente de Auschwitz: "Eu posso identificar com a juventude palestiniana"


Auschwitz survivor: "I can identify with Palestinian youth"
Adri Nieuwhof, The Electronic Intifada, 2 June 2009

Hajo Meyer (Christiane Tilanus)

Hajo Meyer, author of the book The End of Judaism, was born in Bielefeld, in Germany, in 1924. In 1939, he fled on his own at age 14 to the Netherlands to escape the Nazi regime, and was unable to attend school. A year later, when the Germans occupied the Netherlands he lived in hiding with a poorly forged ID. Meyer was captured by the Gestapo in March 1944 and deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp a week later. He is one of the last survivors of Auschwitz.

Adri Nieuwhof:What would you like to say to introduce yourself to EI's readers?

Hajo Meyer: I had to quit grammar school in Bielefeld after the Kristallnacht [the two-day pogrom against Jews in Nazi Germany], in November 1938. It was a terrible experience for an inquisitive boy and his parents. Therefore, I can fully identify with the Palestinian youth that are hampered in their education. And I can in no way identify with the criminals who make it impossible for Palestinian youth to be educated.

AN: What motivated you to write your book, The End of Judaism?

HM: In the past, the European media have written extensively about extreme right-wing politicians like Joerg Haider in Austria and Jean-Marie Le Pen in France. But when Ariel Sharon was elected [prime minister] in Israel in 2001, the media remained silent. But in the 1980s I understood the deeply fascist thinking of these politicians. With the book I wanted to distance myself from this. I was raised in Judaism with the equality of relationships among human beings as a core value. I only learned about nationalist Judaism when I heard settlers defend their harassment of Palestinians in interviews. When a publisher asked me to write about my past, I decided to write this book, in a way, to deal with my past. People of one group who dehumanize people who belong to another group can do this, because they either have learned to do so from their parents, or they have been brainwashed by their political leaders. This has happened for decades in Israel in that they manipulate the Holocaust for their political aims. In the long-run the country is destructing itself this way by inducing their Jewish citizens to become paranoid. In 2005 [then Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon illustrated this by saying in the Knesset [the Israeli parliament], we know we cannot trust anyone, we only can trust ourselves. This is the shortest possible definition of somebody who suffers from clinical paranoia. One of the major annoyances in my life is that Israel by means of trickery calls itself a Jewish state, while in fact it is Zionist. It wants the maximum territory with a minimum number of Palestinians. I have four Jewish grandparents. I am an atheist. I share the Jewish socio-cultural inheritance and I have learned about Jewish ethics. I don't wish to be represented by a Zionist state. They have no idea about the Holocaust. They use the Holocaust to implant paranoia in their children.

AN: In your book you write about the lessons you have learned from your past. Can you explain how your past influenced your perception of Israel and Palestine?

HM: I have never been a Zionist. After the war, Zionist Jews spoke about the miracle of having "our own country." As a confirmed atheist I thought, if this is a miracle by God, I wished that he had performed the smallest miracle imaginable by creating the state 15 years earlier. Then my parents would not have been dead.

I can write up an endless list of similarities between Nazi Germany and Israel. The capturing of land and property, denying people access to educational opportunities and restricting access to earn a living to destroy their hope, all with the aim to chase people away from their land. And what I personally find more appalling then dirtying one's hands by killing people, is creating circumstances where people start to kill each other. Then the distinction between victims and perpetrators becomes faint. By sowing discord in a situation where there is no unity, by enlarging the gap between people -- like Israel is doing in Gaza.

AN: In your book you write about the role of Jews in the peace movement in and outside Israel, and Israeli army refuseniks. How do you value their contribution?

HM: Of course it is positive that parts of the Jewish population of Israel try to see Palestinians as human beings and as their equals. However, it disturbs me how paper-thin the number is that protests and is truly anti-Zionist. We get worked up by what happened in Hitler's Germany. If you expressed only the slightest hint of criticism at that time, you ended up in the Dachau concentration camp. If you expressed criticism, you were dead. Jews in Israel have democratic rights. They can protest in the streets, but they don't.

AN: Can you comment on the news that Israeli ministers approved a draft law banning commemoration of the Nakba, or the dispossession of historic Palestine? The law proposes punishment of up to three years in prison.

HM: It is so racist, so dreadful. I am at a loss for words. It is an expression of what we already know. [The Israeli Nakba commemoration organization] Zochrot was founded to counteract Israeli efforts to wipe out the marks that are a reminder of Palestinian life. To forbid Palestinians to publicly commemorate the Nakba. ... they cannot act in a more Nazi-like, fascist way. Maybe it will help to awaken the world.

AN: What are your plans for the future?

HM: [Laughs] Do you know how old I am? I am almost 85 years old. I always say cynically and with self-mockery that I have a choice: either I am always tired because I want to do so much, or I am going to sit still waiting for the time to go by. Well, I plan to be tired, because I have still so much to say.

Adri Nieuwhof is consultant and human rights advocate based in Switzerland.

a "normalização" com o regime apartheid israelita


Pushing for "normalization" of Israeli apartheid
Ziyaad Lunat, The Electronic Intifada, 2 June 2009

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak holds a press conference with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. (Zhang Ning/Sipa)

The Arab League proposed in 2002 what became known as the Arab Peace Initiative to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It was an unprecedented, bold offer which promised Israel full normalization in exchange for a complete withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967 and the creation of a Palestinian state. The plan called for a "just settlement" to the Palestinian refugee issue. This, in practical terms, meant renunciation of the right to return, despite this being an individual right under international law of which no state or authority can forfeit on behalf of the refugees. The Arab Peace Initiative was based on what fallaciously became known as the "international consensus" for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that of "two states, for two peoples," championed by the Zionist left as well as Israel's patrons in the West. The plan represented a rare united front among Arab regimes, one which would have been unthinkable a few decades earlier, signifying an open shift in policy towards Israel.

The mere offer signified a de facto acceptance of the Zionist colonial implant in the region as well as submission to its military dominance. It was thus with no surprise that Israel did not rush to accept the plan. Israel's response was that of complete indifference. After all, why would Israel rush to define its borders and give away parts of Jerusalem to a future Palestinian "state," when the Arab governments inadvertently gave legitimacy and comfort to Israel's ongoing policies of ethnic cleansing inside Palestine?

The plan was reaffirmed at the Arab League's 2007 summit in Riyadh where only Libya was missing. Muammar al-Qaddhafi, who has ruled Libya for the past 40 years, professed allegiance to the principles of the old-guard. Explaining the reasons for the lone Libyan boycott, Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman Shalgham argued that "all the Arabs now consider Iran to be the main enemy and have forgotten Israel;" Arabs "keep pressing the Palestinians to respond to the conditions of the Quartet, no one presses Israel." Libya had a point. There has been a shift in regional alliances, whereby an overlapping of interests united the West, Arab regimes (now increasingly identified as "Sunni" in an overtly sectarian discourse) and Israel against Iran.

Arab states have historically lacked a consistent commitment to the Palestinians. Deeply divided, the Palestinian cause had often been used to distract discontent from problems at home and to advance the populist agendas of Arab dictators. Even prior to the creation of Israel, King Abdullah I of Jordan had expressed his commitment to an exclusive Jewish state in Palestine. He didn't sign a peace deal with Israel earlier on for fear of isolation. That taboo was broken in 1979 by Egypt -- the most populous Arab country -- gradually redefining the limits of what the autocratic Arab regimes could get away without risking their seats of power in face of popular discontent.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the most influential of these countries, are now leading the anti-Iran campaign. Iran's threat to their regional dominance coupled with a dose of anti-Shiite hostility, has led them to take Israel as a convenient ally. Israel on the other hand is anxious to quash Iran, an opponent to its regional supremacy. In an address to last February to the annual gathering of Israel's political-military elite in Herzliya, former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni clarified this view: "Being used to feeling secluded in the Middle East, with the whole Arab world against us, we look around and suddenly notice other countries alongside Israel -- Arab, Islamic countries, who no longer view Israel as the enemy, countries who understand that Iran is the main enemy, seeing Iran as no less a threat than we do."

US President Barack Obama is keen to capitalize on these cleavages so to facilitate the shifting of alliances that would form the basis for a new Middle East. His administration is currently developing a comprehensive strategy to consolidate this emerging alliance into meaningful actions to deter Iran and transform the overlap in interests into enduring relationships. The Palestinian issue, as the prime arena for the power play of regional forces, is a pivotal avenue to close the current vacuum. And this is where the Arab Peace Initiative comes back into play.

One of the recently mooted changes to this initiative is the adoption of the model currently in use in negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, that of gestures of goodwill before a fully fledged agreement -- or even full blown negotiations -- is in place. As recently reported by the Israeli daily Haaretz, the US expects the Arab states to take steps towards normalization as gestures of goodwill towards Israel. Obama made this explicit in his 18 May press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when the president stated that "Arab states have to be more supportive and be bolder in seeking potential normalization with Israel."

The last 15 years of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has more than proven the failure of this model. Goodwill, or outright collaboration by the Palestinian Authority, led only to the entrenchment of Israel's colonial system. The Arab League's campaign of normalization will contribute to enhance the international legitimacy of Israel's racist regime, this in spite of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's open rejection of the plan. Ironic.

Western-aligned Arab regimes have already already taken significant steps towards normalization. They cheered the last two Israeli massacres, Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2009, refusing to take decisive steps towards a ceasefire. Egypt and Saudi Arabia boycotted an Arab League meeting in January, buying time for Israel to "finish the job" in Gaza. Last April, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia took another massive step towards full normalization and met with Israel's president, war criminal Shimon Peres in New York. Fearing backlash, the Saudi propaganda machine was quick to deny such a meeting took place. (The trend has not been uniform however; responding to public outrage at Israel's Gaza massacre, Qatar closed in January an Israeli trade office it had hosted for years as part of normalization steps taken since the 1993 Oslo accords.)

In light of these state-led efforts to normalize Israel's ethnic cleansing and ghettoization of the Palestinians under a racist apartheid regime, how can we bring back into the equation principles of justice, equality and human rights? How can we ensure the refugees are afforded the right to return to their homes, that there is equality between Israelis and Palestinians, and ultimately the peace with justice?

When governments consistently fail to act in support of these principles, pursuing instead undemocratic agendas, ordinary people should take the struggle into their own hands. People of conscience around the world should step up efforts for boycott, divestments and sanctions (BDS) of Israel as per the 2005 call of Palestinian civil society organizations. This will ultimately become a powerful force capable of counteracting state-led efforts to legitimize Israel's system of oppression. Israel is waging a battle for legitimacy and as Howard Kohr, AIPAC's executive director recently admitted, BDS has the potential to shift the odds in favor of justice. These grassroots efforts are particularly timely in Arab and Muslim countries, where there isn't yet a significant movement to this end, at a time where their despotic governments are raising the white flag of surrender to Israel.

Ziyaad Lunat is an activist for Palestine and co-founder of the Palestine Solidarity Initiative ( He can be reached at z.lunat A T gmail D O T com.
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