Israel’s Genocidal Rampage Must Be Stopped

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Children, tragic victims of Israeli aggression on Gaza: rights groups

Since the latest onslaught on the Palestinian people started I spend most of my time demonstrating, going to court to support the detainees from demonstrations and following the news which drive me mad…

What can you write that will knock the minds of people who close their eyes to the sight of burned kids and whose ears are deaf to the screaming of relatives who lost all their dear ones in the targeted mass killing of whole families by the most sophisticated western air force?

But, as I have the sickening privilege to read intensively the Zionist media, there are some things that I may better explain…

The Ultimate Goal

One of the best Zionist writers that I follow recently is Uri Misgav from Haaretz. At the beginning of the latest attack on Gaza he declared that Israel already failed, because it started a military operation without any conceived goal that can be achieved. But he failed to read the writing on the wall. The Israeli politicians had a very clear goal that the mob was chanting in all the “demonstrations” that prepared for the rampage: “Ma-vet la-a-ra-vim!” – “Death to the Arabs”.

When the Zionist mob gets out of control in the streets of Jerusalem – hunting the city’s cleaners and falafel sellers to beat and lynch – the Zionist law and order authorities and respectable media have a common phrase to hold them back: “Don’t take the law into your own hands”.

Israel is a Jewish Democracy and its politician should give their electorate what they want.

But it is not only electoral considerations and populism that make Israeli politicians complete to excel in propagating racist hatred and bath in the heroism of spilling Arab blood. It is the only real political plan in the country. While talking about political solutions, the Zionist still stick to their original goal: “A country without people to a people without a country”. They still systematically act in all legal and illegal means for ethnic cleansing in the Galilee and the Naqab as well as in Al-Quds and the rest of the West Bank. But expropriating the land doesn’t solve the Zionists main problem – the existence of the Palestinian people and their constant struggle to live as free people on their land. So they keep coming back to the ultimate solution: “Death to the Arabs!”Protesting Genocide in Gaza

 

Killing Time

General Schwarzkopf once said it is not worth the while to hold a bulldog if you don’t let it loose from time to time. For a long time Israel didn’t really needed a complete policy – it was pushing for a new attack until the rope was loosened to let her go after its victims. Then her master could hold it back for a nice profit for itself and throw a fat bone to the dog.

Till now, in all Israeli thinking about the politics behind the military rampage, the main task of the politicians and diplomats is to “buy time” for the military to act.

The Israeli generals and politicians are now looking to find how loose the rope is. Yesterday they bombed two UNRWA schools where Gaza families found shelter after they were expelled from their homes by previous bombings. Today they bombed another hospital, killing patients in their beds. They also successfully targeted a Palestinian ambulance, killing and wounding members of the medical team. The daily death toll in Gaza is now more than 100.

Of course, according to their military-technical potential, they could kill as many Palestinians as they like. But they need some justification, and they are somewhat afraid to be brought to justice for their war crimes. This was the logic behind the entrance of the ground forces into Gaza. Some spilling of Israeli blood and the need to protect their soldiers was the best justification for much wider massacres of the Palestinians. Now the fairy tales about the need to destroy Gaza “terror tunnels” is used to buy time for more killing spree.

The Brakes are Broken

Historically Zionism and Israel were used by the different imperialist forces to subdue the Arab national movement. Egypt’s president, Anwar Sadat, declared that 90% percent of the cards are in America’s hands – before throwing away any semblance of national independence and remaking his country into a colony.

At those times the break on Israel’s atrocities was the famous “anger of the Arab street” – the fear of imperialism that mass struggle aroused in solidarity with the Palestinians will put in danger their servile Arab regimes.

Now, after the Arab spring of 2011, the Arab anger is no more a frightening potential… Currently the war for democracy and freedom in the Arab world and the Middle East have so many hot fronts and so many internal contradictions that there is nobody to turn to.

The dearest strategic asset for the US – the Egyptian regime – is a special case. It used to be an authoritative regime that tried to have national and international respectability. Now it is a counter-revolution in the making, fighting the Egyptian people in the streets and competing with Israel in inciting against the Palestinians.

The western regimes and much of its media seem completely undisturbed to justify any war crimes on the side of Israel as “self defense”.

More than ever – we need the world’s people to make a stand and stop the killing.

Gaza Burning

 

Israeli mob attacks anti-war demo in Haifa chanting “Death to the Arabs”

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An Eyewitness Account of the Haifa Anti-War Demonstration, 19th/20th July 2014

Published by Rann Bar-On on his Facebook timeline

July 20, 2014 at 3:45pm

(This report is also available in Hebrew)

I’m going to try to write up what I saw, heard, and experienced at the anti-war demonstration in the Carmel Center, Haifa on Saturday, July 19th2014. This was a difficult and traumatizing experience, one of the worst I have faced in over a decade of activism. Please forgive rough writing. This is my point of view, and as such, is clouded. I can only write what I saw and experienced. All times are approximate.

9pm, opposite Ha’Agala Burekas restaurant, Moria Ave, Haifa: my partner and I are in my parents’ car, heading to the demonstration that is supposed to start at this location at 9:30. As we drive up, we see a huge police presence, including armored horses, a water cannon and hundreds of police. Getting closer, we see what they’re there for: over a thousand right wing counter-protestors have showed up, chanting, waving Israeli and army flags, calling the left ‘traitors’.

9:05pm: We call the organizers, in a half-panic. We’re told that the demo has been moved a few hundred yards down the street, nearer the Carmel Center. As we’re walking, I see a policeman shoving a man with a sign supporting the left. He’s bleeding. We later find out he was punched in the face by one of the right wingers.

9:10pm, at the entrance to the Kababir neighborhood, Moria Ave: we arrive at the new site for the demonstration. We’re practically alone with a ton of heavily armored police. At this stage, it seems utterly irresponsible to encourage people to march. Being outnumbered doesn’t begin to describe the situation we were in. We head off to a nearby restaurant for a few minutes.

9:20pm: People are trickling in. I walk around, trying to explain to folks there what I saw down the street (most people came from a different direction). I’ve been an activist for many years, and have attended hundreds of demonstrations. From experience, we can deal with the police, almost no matter what they do. We can’t deal with huge numbers violent counter-demonstrators out to kill us. A sense of bewilderment seems to be the dominant theme.

9:25pm: The main organizers ask us to move people into the adjacent park. I ask people to do so, and for the most part, they do. At this point, many counter-demonstrators have moved to stand opposite us, and are being held back by the police. Chants of “Death to Arabs”, “Death to traitors” and “Death to leftists” come from the other side of the street. Their numbers are swelling, fast.

9:30pm: We’re asked to move back onto the sidewalk from the park, as the police say they cannot protect us in the park. With all that’s going on, much of this gets lost.

9:45pm: Our side is swelling, but the other side is swelling faster. There are supposed to be buses arriving from other parts of the country. We chant slogans for unity: “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies”; “Both in Gaza and in Sderot, children want to live”; “Peace isn’t built on children’s bodies”; “Gaza, stand strong, we’ll end the Occupation yet”; and many more. Banners are raised. Red flags and Palestinians flags are waving. The other side is jumping up and down, singing nationalist songs, waving Israeli and army brigade flags, all the time pushing against the police line. Our side does not at all push against the police. There’s no point: if the line were to be broken, we’d be facing a raving mob head on.

10pm: Buses should be arriving from other parts of the country. They do not. We get word that the police has blocked buses of our supporters from coming.

10:05pm: One bus arrives, barely. It takes a long few minutes for the police to get the bus through the right wing folks. When they pull up, I go over to greet them. Turns out it was a bus from Nazareth. Our ranks are swelled a bit more. Still, we’re outnumbered, by a long shot.

Over the next thirty minutes or so, one more bus arrives. We found out much later that four buses were blocked completely by the police.

10:45pm: By now, a few small scuffles have broken out between police and the counter-demonstrators. A couple of them are arrested. Chanting keeps up on both sides. We shout for life, they shout for death. I stay as close to the front as I can, right up to the police line. Tempers flare here and there.

As a Jewish Israeli, it’s very very difficult for me to even consider trying to hold back Arab protesters. It isn’t my place. They have so much more to be angry about than I do. Our privilege, being identified by the state as being Jewish, is huge. Yet I seem to have taken on a role of responsibility, together with my Arab friends. This is a tough paragraph to write. I don’t want to appear arrogant. Yet it seemed at the time that all our efforts were appreciated by those trying to keep others from getting badly hurt.

10:50pm: A couple of demonstrators from our side get snatched by police and arrested, violently. Looking across the street, I see murder gleaming in the eyes of the fascists. I don’t use that word lightly, but when a huge gang is quite literally calling for us to be killed, it’s appropriate, I think.

Much later, we find out that a few of our folks found themselves attacked by the right. One broken nose, one broken shoulder. Maybe more.

A few bottles are thrown on us. Nothing much, at least not compared to what was to come later.

11pm: Someone decides to move into the neighborhood, away from the main street. People are terrified, as the counter-demonstrators are still swelling and getting closer. In principle, this should be the end of the demonstration. The police allow some of the counter-demonstrators across the street, near the bus. Other police try to herd some of our side onto the bus. The bus is headed back to another town. Police barely manage to get it out.

11:20pm: We’re trying to disperse. Outside of the West Bank, where protests are suppressed with heavy crowd-control measures, I’ve never been to a demonstration where the hardest part is leaving. A group of folks from Tel Aviv ask us to help them, to take them through the backstreets to where their bus is. They can’t find all their people. We stand with them in a courtyard, with people trying to get through the back the building. Suddenly, they come running back, shouting that the rightists are coming from behind. Across the narrow side street, many of them have moved opposite us, shouting and gesturing. Police are barely to be seen.

11:30pm: We move to the corner of the next street. There are around 100 of us left at this point, as many somehow managed to escape, perhaps on a bus, perhaps in small groups on foot. We can’t tell. My partner and I agree that we’re not leaving until everyone is safe. All three opposite corners, and quite a way down the streets, are covered with our opposition. It’s a terrifying scene. We’re surrounded. Police are hanging out in the middle, looking utterly clueless. Their horses and heavy machinery are nowhere to be seen. For only the second time in my life, I’m wishing for police protection.

11:40pm: Stones start flying toward us. Not many, but large. We have older folks with us, some over 70. We use the sticks holding our flags to try to deflect the stones like baseballs. A few hit people. People are bleeding. Police look almost as scared as we are, and still, they do almost nothing to help us get the hell out. They have helmets. Needless to say, we do not.

This doesn’t stop. We chant those same slogans for unity: “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies”. It seems so damn empty at this point, facing hundreds of Zionist Jews who want to see us dead. Not in jail. Dead.

I talk to a few people. The word ‘pogrom’ starts being whispered. These are highly experienced folks, for the most part,who do not use such words lightly.

Midnight: A policeman tells us to stand back. In his words “there is going to be a mess here”. A water cannon shows up. Armored police horses show up. I find myself almost relieved. When the water cannon is shot right at one of the bunches of right wingers, a cheer goes up from our side. Myself and few others shout at them to stay quiet: “We do NOT cheer police, ever!”

More stones. More chants for murder. We’re still trapped. A few people try to push out to escape the hell we’re in. They are pushed back by police and counter-demonstrators.

12:15am, July20th: The police try to get us out. People are throwing stones at us. Again, not many, but they’re coming from all sides, including the buildings we’re passing by. Police run into building entrances, pushing back those trying to attack us. They’re barely successful.

I hear shouts and run toward them. I see one of our people on the ground, bleeding from his head. Police try to push us forward. A couple of us tell them, trying to be calm, that we have someone injured. A policeman says “fine, leave him there”. We do nothing of the sort. We pick him up. He’s ok, somehow. Adrenaline, I suppose.

12:30am: We’re still half walking half running down the street, surrounded by police. It’s a bit calmer, but the counter-demonstrators (perhaps, by now, rioters) are still not far behind us. We find ourselves at a traffic circle. Two police commanders are arguing about what to do. All we want is to get a bus. They keep changing up where they want the bus to be. I overhear one commander telling the other that there are another hundred rightists coming down the street. They do not know what to do. They order us further down the hill.

12:35am: The sidewalk ends on our side. Police tell us to get into the shadows. I hear one of them ordering a bus sent to us, empty, as fast as possible. Nothing happens, everyone is exhausted. They seem to holding back the counter-demonstrators up the street.

12:45am:A public bus is passing by with around six people aboard. Police stop the bus, tell everyone on it to leave, and shout at us to get on. We can’t believe this: the police have literally commandeered a bus. It takes a while, but we all get on. Eighty people packed like sardines onto a bus that holds fifty. The bus moves up the hill to turn around. As it does, it’s hit with a rock thrown at it.

12:50am: We start singing. People sing and laugh as the adrenaline starts to decline. We feel safe, for the first time in hours.

1am: As we head toward the shore, where another bus is waiting for us, a car covered with an Israeli flag pulls up. The driver shouts and gestures at us. This is our first hint that it’s not over yet. Some still feel safe enough to flash V for victory signs at him.

1:05am: We pull into the parking lot behind the beach restaurant, Maxim. We get off the bus. We wonder where the next bus will take us. One of the organizers tells us to get on, and we’ll sort that out later. The water cannon truck pulls in behind us, with a number of police vans.

1:15am: We’re on the bus, and we’re moving out of the parking lot. The police accompaniment leaves. We’re alone. Suddenly, we hear two or three rocks hitting the bus. Two windows are shattered. We push the broken glass out onto the street to avoid the pieces flying in due to wind and hitting passengers. The broken windows make the bus windy, full of fresh air. We’re tense, but we’re safe.

1:20am: The bus pulls up near the Haifa headquarters of the Hadash party, one of the main organizers. As we disembark, we take photos of the youth making victory signs out the broken windows. We’re safe.

1:30am: We go to headquarters to debrief, post reports, and decide on next steps. At some point later, my partner and I go get some food and drinks for ourselves and our friends.

2:30am: We head to the police station to wait for the eight arrested to be released. A somewhat surreal scene occurs when we encounter a demonstrator from the other side, doing the same. No tempers flare.

4:30am: After two hours of waiting, talking, trying to understand what happened and why, our prisoners are released unconditionally. We applaud.

We go home. We sleep.

We were lucky: one stone an inch to one side or another, and someone would have died. Quite a few people were injured. One broken nose; one shattered shoulder. One demonstrator hit in the head by police. Who knows what else?

We live to fight another day.

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Call for Acre Demo against evictions, Friday 25/4

Call for Acre Demo against evictions, Friday 25/4

Ramiya’s Friends Group

Calling to participate in the Acre demonstration

Against eviction if the family of Salwa Zeidan

On Friday 25/04/2014 at 13:00

66 years after the Nakba and the expulsion of the majority of Palestine’s inhabitants, the various governmental agencies continue to lay out plots to uproot the Arab residents from their land and homes in the Negev, the Triangle, the Galilee and the mixed cities.

Haja Um Ahmed, Salwa Zeidan, lives with her family for fifty years at their home in “Alborg” neighborhood – near the eastern gate of Old Acre. In these days “The Acre Development Authority” is trying to evict the family as part of a range of programs and measures to “Judaize” the old city of Acre… We have not forgotten how in 2008 city council members in Acre spoke openly and brazenly about the need to maintain a Jewish majority, what provoked the anger of the Palestinian Arabs of Acre and many others.

Ramiya’s Friends Group was formed several months ago to speak out against the plan to expel the people of the village of Ramiya from the land of their ancestors. The authorities want to grab this land to build a new Jewish neighborhood for expanding Karmiel as part of the “Development of the Galilee”, a code name for Judaization. The group organizes various activities to stop the racist policies to preserve the Jewish character of Karmiel, in support of the struggle for the right of Ramiya’s people to build and live in dignity as residents with full rights in the city.

Our struggle for Ramiya continues in support of the steadfast of its people in the most difficult conditions and despite repeated harassment against them on the part of the municipality of Karmiel. We know that the struggle against apartheid and ethnic cleansing is one struggle in all the places where Arab residents are persecuted and discriminated against in this country.

Therefore we invite the public to participate in a demonstration against the Judaization of Acre and against the dispossession of its Arab residents to be held on Friday, 25.4.2014, at 13:00. The demonstration will begin at one o’clock in the afternoon from near Um Ahmad’s home, near the eastern gate of Old Acre, after Friday’s prayers at the “Alborg” mosque nearby. We will march together towards the offices of “The Acre Development Authority” which is responsible for the eviction orders.

Ramiya’s Friends Group

Ramiya4ever@gmail.com

Facebook invitation for the demonstration

Ramiya’s Friends on Facebook

This call is available also in Arabic and Hebrew.

 

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How did Israel’s Shabak made Majd Kayyal disappear?

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How did Israel’s Shabak make Majd Kayyal disappear?

On Saturday, April 12, “Adalah” – the most respected Human Rights NGO in Haifa – published “breaking news” about the detention of political and media activist, journalist Majd Kayyal, who happened to be also the editor of Adalah’s internet site. Majd was arrested at a border crossing from Jordan called “Sheikh Hussein” on the Jordan River, immediately on his arrival to the Israeli checkpoint. He was on his way back from Beirut, where he participated in a public conference held on the occasion of 40 years of the newspaper “Al-Safir”, in which he regularly publishes articles.

Adalah reported that its lawyer tried to meet Majd in detention, but the police didn’t allow this, claiming that there is an order prohibiting Majd from meeting lawyers. Adalah further noted in its statement that its lawyers will represent Majd on the next day, Sunday, 13.4, in hearings of the police request to remand the detention.

Adalah’s short message about Majd’s detention ends with an optimistic note promising further details…

According to foreign sources…

Since the initial announcement of Majd’s detention, Adalah didn’t publish any further details.

Instead, we read on their site general discussions concerning the law that forbids Israeli citizens from visiting “enemy countries” and the law that allows the authorities to prevent a detainee meeting his lawyers. No names, no details, no Majd. Yesterday he was detained and today he disappeared, as if he never existed.

You could think that Majd was released… After all, hundreds of people are arrested every day for little or no reason by the Israeli police and most of them are released without anyone writing a word.

Searching the net for Majd Kayyal in Hebrew brings very little fresh news. A site called “KafeHafukh” (White Coffee) reported (Tuesday 15.4) that in the routine briefing at the US State Department, the speaker Ms. Psaki expressed concern about reports on the arrest of journalist Majd Kayyal. She added: “We have seen the reports… that he’s being held incommunicado detention, but we have not been able to confirm these reports. We’re continuing to seek more information”.

If the State Department can’t determine the facts despite their “concern” – how would we discover what happened to Majd?

The couple of magic buttons leads us to search in English for “Majd Kayyal” and we can easily find Ali Abunimah’s report in “Electronic Intifada”. It says that the Haifa Court extended Majd’s detention from Sunday, 13.4, until next Tuesday, 22.4. Electronic Intifada even publishes a protocol of the court’s hearing in Hebrew and English. From this protocol we learn that the court prevented any publication about the proceedings against Majd and that Majd is still prevented from meeting his lawyers.

Another reliable source, journalist Richard Silverstein in his site “Tikun Olam”, also publishes details about Majd’s detention and a photograph of the police’s request for GAG order.

We also learn that the judge who extended the detention and ordered the “disappearance” of Majd is Zayed Falah, a former military prosecutor.

About Majd

To be honest with my readers, I must clarify that I know personally Majd Kayyal as a neighbor and a family friend ever since he came to this world some 23 years ago…

He is the son of prominent proud Palestinians activists from Haifa.

The Kayyal family was displaced from their ancestors’ village of Birwa when it was occupied and destroyed in 1948. Birwa is well known as the birthplace of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. On its ruins was established the Zionist settlement of “Akhihud”, while the original inhabitants are forbidden from returning to their lands.

Majd’s cousin, Asil ‘Asli, was killed by the Israeli police in the second Intifada demonstrations in October 2000 in the Galilee village of Arabeh. He was one of the 13 Arab demonstrators murdered in the territories occupied by Israel since 1948 at the first days of the Intifada. Their killing symbolizes for many the unity of fate of the Palestinians in their struggle against Zionist occupation and apartheid.

Majd grew into political activity and we often met in many demonstrations: On Land Day, in the days commemorating the events of October 2000, in protests against the demolition of homes and land confiscation, in solidarity activities with Palestinian prisoners.

In the commemoration of the Nakba on May 15, 2011, we were detained together in a demonstration in Bir’am forest, just in front of the village of Maroun Ar-Ras on the other side of the Lebanese border, where a peaceful “March of Return” of Palestinian refugees from Lebanon met with murderous fire of the Israeli army.

Majd was arrested in November 2011 with the crew of the ship “Tahrir”, which was on its way to Gaza with humanitarian supplies as part of the campaign to break the siege.

Majd is an example of the new generation of young Palestinian activists, sharing his time between Internet activities on more traditional ones in the streets. He finds time for creative writing and journalism, the struggle for human rights and the struggle for national and social liberation.

He was among the activists who organized the opposition to the “Prawer plan” for ethnic cleansing of tens of thousands of Bedouin from the Naqab (Negev) and the destruction of dozens of villages. When news came of the cancellation of that plan (at least temporarily) I saw him full of happiness and satisfaction.

No wonder the police and Shabak (GSS) are looking for an opportunity to shut up Majd. His mother, Suhair Badarne, told us that in one recent “interview” with the Shabak in Haifa the interrogator warned her they were planning to frame Majd and have him imprisoned for a long period.

The Forces of Darkness

The evil forces prefer to operate in the dark. Majd is held now, as far as we know, in the damp and dark cellars of the “GSS Division” at the Jalameh detention center (“Kishon”), isolated from the outside world. The steamroller of repressive mechanisms is applied upon him in order to force him to confess of crimes he did not commit.

It’s the only reasonable explanation for preventing him from meeting his lawyers, for the prevention of even eye contact with his family during the remand proceedings, for the sweeping publication ban on details of the proceedings against him (all according to foreign sources, of course).

If the investigation was about the offense of entering an “enemy country” – it could be held in the open and wouldn’t even require detention, as Majd traveled openly to Lebanon to attend a public event. He also reported himself on his experiences in Beirut, among other places in a post (in Arabic, of course) on “Jadaliyya”.

Many Israeli journalists visited all “enemy countries” and reported their trips without being arrested or punished. If Majd Kayyal is detained and persecuted because of his trip to Lebanon – the problem is not of Lebanon being an “enemy country” but the attitude of the State of Israel regarding all the Palestinian people in the country as enemies.

The total blackout imposed on Majd would not be possible were it not for the indifference, consent and naturalness with which Israeli public opinion accepts the denial of basic human rights of any Arab, just for being an Arab. A journalist, a human rights activist, a political activist is detained for a prolonged period while GAG is imposed and he is denied meeting his lawyers. These are draconian measures that make mock of the thin veneer of proclaimed democracy.

The Forces of Light

A group of Anarchists named “Unity” called for a demonstration on Wednesday (16.4) morning in front of the offices of “Haaretz” newspaper in Tel Aviv to protest the non-publication of the affair and attract media attention to it. They planned to shift the vigil later in front of police and Shabak offices nearby, to demand the immediate release of Majd and cessation of political persecution against him and against the Palestinians in general.

Majd’s friends are planning a demonstration on Thursday, 17.4, at 19:30, in “Prisoner’s Square”, Carmel Avenue (Ben Gurion) near the Haddad hotel in the German Colony in Haifa. Another demonstration is planned outside the courthouse in case the police will apply for remand on Tuesday (22.4) morning.

Public struggle can at least remove the veil of secrecy over human rights violations against Majd Kayyal. Help us in this struggle.

This post was originally published in Hebrew.

Hot News

(Wednesday 16.4, 18:00) Under the pressure of protest and publications here and abroad, the police informed Adalah that the GAG order over Majd’s detention will be removed tomorrow (Thursday, 17.4) at 12:00.

You may freely write and demonstrate about the case, demand Majd’s release and protest the fact that he is prevented from meeting his lawyers!

Good News

(Thursday 17.4, morning) The public pressure helped – Thanks to all of you who took part in lifting the veil of darkness by protesting and publishing! This night Adalah lawyers were at last allowed to meet Majd Kayyal.

Now we demand Majd’s immediate release. See you in the demo today at 19:30 in the German Colony, Haifa.

Even Better News

(Thursday 17.4, 17:30) Majd was released from the Jelemeh detention center and is now under house detention…

Thanks again to everybody that published and protested!

There was no legal justification for Majd’s detention in the first place – and it couldn’t stand even 5 hours of public scrutiny.

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On the Democracy of the One State – being its most important quality

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On the Democracy of the One State – being its most important quality

Supporters of the “One Democratic State” in Haifa are holding a study session to analyze this program, its political dimensions and its implications on current struggles. I took on myself the preparation of the discussion about the role of democracy in this project…

I do not deny that I‘m biased and extremist in my support for democracy and I see it as the most important component of the ODS program. Why?

Democracy is the essence of the liberation project

In the text of the invitation for the discussion session, it is written that we will “attempt to decompose the slogan” – as if the slogan was a watch or a car built from screws and hinges, and we have to understand the role and importance of each of them…

I tried to decompose and separate “democracy” from the “one-state” – and found that the one-state is painfully and heavily present on all the land of Palestine. But this is the state of occupation and colonization which is the antithesis of the democratic state and not any of its components…

If we take the “state” by itself, it is, in the best of cases, a necessary evil. In many other cases it is an evil that should be resisted.

The “one” is conceived by many observers as the heart of the program, as we talk about the “one-state solution” versus “two-state solution”. This is a dangerous illusion, because the two-state solution does not exist. The main goal of the constant talk about it is to make us ignore the reality of the one non democratic state on the ground… and even if a democratic Palestinian state will be set up on part of this land – and this is not “a solution” – our main reason for objection will not be the division of the land, but the acceptance of the results of ethnic cleansing and the absence of democracy in most parts of the country.

Some come with the slogan “one secular democratic state” – dividing our aspirations from the future state between the two qualities – “democratic” and “secular”. In my opinion, this addition does not increase the clarity of the goal and could harm it. If we mean by “secular” the freedom of all religions, freedom from coercion in religion and equal rights for all – all of these qualities are basic to the definition of democracy. But over the times and even now, not far from here, we witness the suppression of democracy in the name of secularism – which contradicts our democratic message: everyone’s participation in dialogue, decision-making and shaping the future.

The only strong “competitor” to represent the essence of the program, except for “democracy”, is “Return”. Ethnic cleansing was, and remains, the most important and most dangerous quality of the Zionist colonization of Palestine. For this reason the return of the Palestinian refugees should be at the center of our liberation project. But, from a broader perspective, denying the right of the refugees to live in their homes and motherland is one of many forms of dispossession of the Palestinian people wherever they are, like military occupation, repression, apartheid, racism, land theft and much more… The restoration of the rights to their owners and the return of the Palestinian people to live free in their homeland – all this, in the most comprehensive way, means the establishment of democracy in the land of Palestine and for all the people of this land.

Democracy between form and content

If we decompose democracy itself we find that it is composed of “Demo” – the people – and “Kratia” – Power or Rule. Hence we find at the heart of democracy the concept of the people’s sovereignty: The legitimacy of the regime stemming from his role in serving the people; the people’s interests can only be determined by the people themselves; to determine their interests the people should be free and conscious.

Many activists wonder: is there any connection between this ideal of democracy – rule by the people – and the so-called democratic political systems that are controlled by a small group of capitalists?

The basic response to this criticism of “bourgeois democracy” is that the falsity of this democracy does not undermine the basic concept of democracy. We need more democracy than what we find in these models that are incomplete or distorted, not less.

Adding to this essential response, the power of democracy, as is the power of any great positive principle, is such that even its partial and distorted application has many positive effects… The available space for thought, expression, movement and organization under the rule of bourgeois democracy is an important achievement and could be used to work toward a real democracy. The extent of influence of the people over political decisions and the ability to change government (even if nominally) through elections, political action and direct action enabled the masses to achieve many social rights even under bourgeois regimes and the rule of capital.

Hence, our opposition to bourgeois democracy (if we oppose it) is opposition to the restrictions on democracy by the rule of capital. We have to develop the concept of democracy and not to diminish it.

Through the study of history and experiences of different peoples we can find many attempts to develop different types of democracy – from the rule of the People’s Councils till “participatory democracy”. I hope that we will be able to study these experiences and use them to develop a wider vision of democracy.

From here we start

The value of democracy – like the value of air and water – is known only to those deprived of it. The rule of colonialism and apartheid is a system depriving the indigenous inhabitants of the land of the most basic human rights, freedom and self-determination. In one word, it is the denial of democracy.

Our struggle in every area of ​​life starts with the defense of basic rights, striving to retrieve usurped rights and to gain freedom. Those are manifestations of resistance to the lack of democracy, hence resisting the system that deprives us of democracy. The political dimension of all these struggles is the struggle for democracy.

We read history and learn that all the big revolutions were essentially revolutions for democracy – beginning from the French Revolution, passing through the Russian and Chinese revolutions, until the Arab Spring that shook the world order but did not win yet. This is just natural, because these are popular revolutions of peoples that have been deprived of their right to expression, organization and self-determination. They fought for their robbed freedom in order to take their destiny in their own hands. When it is possible for people to decide their fate, they can change the regime in a democratic way and are not obliged to resort revolutionary upheavals, which are dangerous and costly.

Behind any repressive regime there is a group or a class that benefits from the repression… On the other hand, the movement of the masses for democracy is not devoid of class, social, national, and others interests. However, in the absence of democracy, the oppressed and exploited masses can’t defend their interests other than through resisting tyranny and demanding their freedom.

In order to obtain democracy we should form as broad a front as possible from all the forces, movements and parties who have interest to resist the apartheid regime and struggle for the establishment of democracy. In order to form this Broad Front, the liberation movement should adopt pluralism, dialogue and understanding among all its components. In other words – it should be a profoundly democratic movement in order to achieve democracy.

From here we should begin.

(This article was also published in Arabic and Hebrew.)

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The Founding Body of “The Popular Movement for One Democratic State on Historical Palestine” meeting in Ramallah

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The Founding Body of “The Popular Movement for One Democratic State on Historical Palestine” held a meeting on Saturday 8.2.2014 in the meetings’ hall of the municipality of Al-Bireh, in the presence of members of the body and selected guests from the Palestinian political leadership, academics and supporters of ODS from all over Palestine, including a delegation from inside the Green Line.

The participants discussed the current political situation and the position of the Popular Movement toward the initiative of U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry. The organizers presented a position paper defining the movement’s position regarding the latest political developments concerning the Palestinian struggle and the vision of the movement to solve the conflict in Palestine, which already lasted over a century. This vision proposes the establishment of one democratic state based on the principles of freedom, justice, democracy and equality, adopting the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – a state for all residents – while upholding the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and property from which they were expelled by force. A country governed by a democratic constitution based on the right to citizenship as one of the basic human rights, equality before the law, equality between women and men in all walks of life and equal opportunities without discrimination based on race, religion, color or anything else. It is a Humanitarian and civilized solution to the conflict, a real alternative to the racist demand to recognize Israel as a racist Jewish state.

Most of the meeting was dedicated to discussion with the audience, hearing different opinions, criticism and suggestions to the Steering Committee of the movement.

During the meeting, forms for joining the popular movement were distributed.

It was announced that the movement launched its new website:

Ods-palestine.org

The meeting was opened with a minute of silence in commemoration of all the martyrs who gave their lives in the struggle for freedom everywhere and the participants stayed standing while the Palestinian national anthem was played.

Then the chairperson, Mr. Ghassan Olayan, welcomed the participants. He was followed by Mr. Munir Abushi, the former governor of Salfit district, who presented the principles of the popular movement, its goals, its basic concepts and the reasoning for the timing of its establishment. Mr. Radi Jarai, a professor at the University of Jerusalem, read the position paper of the movement on the political situation in the Palestinian arena.

At the end of the discussion of the position paper, Mr. Awni Al-Mashni, member of the Advisory Board of the Fatah movement, and Dr. Uri Davis, member of the Revolutionary Council of Fatah and lecturer at Jerusalem University, replied to questions that were raised by the guests.

Comrade Yoav Bar from the Haifa group for one democratic state talked about the activity of different groups of supporters of the idea, the challenges facing the movement in the territories occupied since 1948 and prospects for its development both in Palestine and on the international level.

(This report was translated from the Arabic, and is also available in Hebrew.)

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Eldad Zion Repeats “The Fatal Mistake”

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We return from the demonstration in Ramiya against Apartheid in the Galilee and talk about the struggle against the Prawer Plan for dispossessing the Arabs of the Naqab (Negev). Confusion reigns … Did we win or not? Was the Prawer Plan really stopped or does the government still intend to raise it again? In any case it is clear that the fight is not over. Discrimination, destruction and dispossession are the characteristics of “the system” all across the country, from the river to the sea. With increasing self-confidence of the young activists the struggle will go on and escalate.

Are we ready for the struggle ahead? Did we learn the lessons from previous struggles and recent events?

One essential issue in every struggle is the defense of the detainees. On the last “Day of Rage” (30/11/2013) against the Prawer Plan, in the demonstrations in Hora and in Haifa, it seemed that it was mostly the police that unleashed unbridled rage at the demonstrators. Demonstrators who were arrested were brutally beaten systematically after their arrest and beating continued even in the police stations. Contempt for the law by the police is reaching new heights when a prisoner begs to stop hitting him and the cop advises him to “complain to Mahash” and continues to beat him. (“Mahash” is the department responsible for investigations of complaints against policemen, and is famous for closing cases without any investigation.) We still have a lot to do even just to make the police try to pretend to respect the law.

In any case we can learn a lot from the experience of the recent detentions…

Why was Eldad Zion Arrested?

One of the detainees in the Hora demonstration was a teacher from Tel Aviv named Eldad Zion. Even according to the police Eldad was not involved in any violent activity during the demonstration. He was detained because he tried to talk to the police and convince them not to beat other detainees.

The primary offense that was attributed to Eldad by the police in the Be’er Sheva court occurred at the police station called “The Townships Station”, to which he was taken with other detainees from the demonstration. Eldad’s description of the event is presented by Or Kashti in “Haaretz” in the following words: “I entered the detainees’ room, whose walls are adorned with handwritten ‘Kahane was right’ and ‘Moses commanded to kill all the Arabs’, with the symbols of the Border’s Guard police unit. I saw a policeman slapping a detainee, so I raised my voice. In response 2-3 policemen attacked me from behind, took me out of the room, kicked me and broke the glasses… I did my civic duty while confronted by police violence. The police must be supervised by civilians. We must remain vigilant.”

On the other hand, the police accusations against Eldad, designed to justify the assault, amounted to claiming that “he grabbed a policeman’s shirt and pushed another officer.” On this flimsy base the prosecution tried consistently to build an image of Eldad as a dangerous person, as Kashti reported from the court: “This is a dangerous man,” said prosecution attorney Guy Zehavi yesterday, “the first rule of release on bail is confidence. Here is someone that has no fear of the law and goes against the law – assaults and disrupts.” Mr. Zehavi objected to the claim that Zion is not dangerous because the Prawer Plan was canceled. “First, the program is not canceled, and secondly – it’s like one who killed his wife and now claims not to be dangerous any longer because his wife already died.”

Eldad was kept in detention due to these accusations for two and a half weeks. The police even sought remand until the end of proceedings. Finally, the court decided to release him to house arrest under “24 hours guard” by his friends who volunteered to guarantee his release. Just yesterday (24.12) Eldad was finally released from house arrest under severe restrictive conditions.

Eldad himself, being such a good soul, after being beaten by the police, declared that he forgives them for all that they did. He reiterated this position even after his release and expanded his forgiveness to include the prosecution that insisted on remand and the judges which extended his detention for no reason again and again.

We’re talking about Eldad and try to understand his position – is it naivety or greatness? Is it possible that this position has led to further harassment against him? Here are some historical precedents.

Memories from the Intifada

Muhannad tells us about a friend from the days of the Stones’ Intifada (1987-1995), who was active in “The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine” and participated in many clashes against the occupation soldiers. He was arrested many times, interrogated and tortured. He was sentenced and spent a period in Israeli prisons.

After he served his sentence and the Intifada ended, our friend finished his undergraduate studies and earned a scholarship to graduate school in the United States. He applied for permission to study through the Palestinian “Liaison Committees”, but all his appeals were rejected.

In his repeated appeals to the Palestinian liaison officer our friend begged him:

- “Tell them, the Israelis, that I’m not vindictive. I forgive them for everything they did to me.”

- “You see,” replied the liaison officer, “precisely because of this attitude you will never get a travel permit. Because you see yourself in a position where you can forgive the Israelis! They will never forgive you for that…”

Dangerous Historical Precedent

Finally Iris summarizes the discussion.

Eldad was lucky to be released to house arrest. He got off cheaply. The person that preceded him and thought he could forgive everybody finished on the cross.

* * *

This post was also published in Hebrew.

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Apartheid Bulldozers Threaten Ramiya’s Houses in Karmiel

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Apartheid Bulldozers Threaten Ramiya’s Houses in Karmiel

Karmiel was born in sin – it was a cornerstone of the “Judaization of the Galilee” racist colonialist project. It was built on large areas of land that were confiscated from nearby Arab towns and villages. This confiscation was not for development for “public purposes” – as claimed by the Israeli government’s confiscation orders – but in order to uproot the residents of the area, concentrate them in ghettos of poverty and settle in their place another public – exclusively those adhering to the Jewish religion.

Galilee Apartheid reality, represented by Karmiel, Misgav “communal” settlements, Nazareth Illit and their likes, does not end with the expropriation of land and its allocation according to racial criteria. Judaization is a comprehensive policy encompassing all aspects of life: discrimination in building infrastructure and providing services to residents; endless obstacles obstructing residential construction in Arab communities while encouraging Jewish settlement; blocking economic development in the Arab ghettos versus benefits and incentives to enterprises in the Apartheid towns.

Ahab and Naboth’s vineyard in Karmiel

The most outrageous illustration of Karmiel’s character as Apartheid City is the fate of the residents Ramiya, who live on their own land, which was lawfully registered in the Land Registry Office, long before the establishment of Karmiel.

When Ahab of Karmiel desired the vineyard of Naboth and his land, he was ready to use any means to get them.

Usually the legal excuse against unrecognized Arab villages, built on their private lands, is that they are built on agricultural land and therefore no building can be legalized there – even if it is an old building, standing there before the planning law itself. (For building Jewish settlements, of course, the designated usage of land is easily altered). But Ramiya’s lands are in the midst of Karmiel’s building areas. Why not recognize Ramiya’s houses as a separate village or as part of the city? The answer is obvious: because the city was founded for Jews – and Arabs should be evacuated.

A sweeping confiscation order against Ramiya’s lands was issued already in 1976 – on the grounds of “public needs” – at the height of the “Judaization of the Galilee” drive. After a long legal battle Israel’s “Supreme” Court upheld the expropriation on March 1, 1992.

But the abuse of Ramiya’s residents didn’t stop at the expropriation itself. In order to force the residents to give up their houses and lands, Karmiel’s Municipality and various state agencies wage a deliberate policy of siege and deprivation of basic needs against Ramiya’s residents, which can’t but remind us of the siege of Gaza.

One example that cries out to heaven is preventing Ramiya’s houses from connecting to the electricity grid. When residents bought generators, (who learns by candlelight these days?) the “good neighbors” complained about the generators’ noise. Instead of providing electricity to the residents, Karmiel’s Municipality sent inspectors to demand the shutdown of the generators at night and left Ramiya’s residents in the cold and dark.

Struggle and Agreement

In the early 1990s Ramiya became the center of the struggle against the Judaization of the Galilee. On one opportunity the central Land Day demonstration was held in Ramiya. Later there was a mass march from Majd al-Kurum to Ramiya.

Public pressure forced the Israel Lands Administration to agree to negotiations and finally reach a compromise, which was signed as an agreement with the residents in 1995.

The agreement, as signed, is far from doing justice. According to it the village will be destroyed and with it the existing fabric of life. The residents succumb to the racist expropriation forced upon them. It allows the state to take over the lands of Ramiya for a compensation that is a small fraction of their market value.

However, the agreement, to some extent, breaks the principle of Apartheid around which Karmiel was founded by enabling Ramiya residents to stay in the area and build their homes. To this end the Administration undertook to provide 30 building plots in a special neighborhood that will be built in Karmiel.

The agreement also included the provision of compensation to Ramiya residents in the form of 15 building plots and some farmland outside of Karmiel.

The Zionist Principle: More Land, Fewer Arabs

The Israel Lands Administration, which hurried before the agreement to try forcibly evict the residents, was in no hurry to fulfill the agreement. More than five years passed before it allocated the proposed land for resettlement of Ramiya’s residents in a new neighborhood of Karmiel.

The residents also were in no hurry to give up their homes and lands with which their lives’ stories were entwined.

Finally, between 2001 and 2003, the Administration began implementing the agreement in its own way: Take control of as much land as it can and allow as few Arabs as possible to remain in Karmiel. It signed an agreement for the evacuation of two families that possessed more land but had a smaller number of inhabitants and gave them about 35% of the land intended for the construction of the new neighborhood (which had shrunk meanwhile from 30 to 29 plots).

The Administration informed all other residents that they must make do with what was left. By doing so the administration is trying to force a reality which clearly does not maintain the minimum that was to be guaranteed by the settlement agreement – enabling Ramiya residents persist as a community and build their lives in their village.

The Shifting Sands of the Law

At this stage a legal miracle occurred for the residents of Ramiya.

Some residents had filed a lawsuit against the administration in the Haifa District Court, arguing that the administration had violated the settlement agreement. The ruling, issued by Judge Raniel on November 24, 2009 (civil case 699/07), confirms the claims of the plaintiffs that the Administration violated the agreement. Beyond that, the ruling states that “compliance with the agreement as it is, at the current state of affairs as of today, is not possible, given the unequal distribution carried out by the Administration. In this situation the agreement should be applied approximately. The administration should make adjustments in order to correct the distortion and inequality that were created and that the administration acknowledged their existence, by adding on the plots quotas agreed upon.”

Would you expect the Administration to rush to comply with the verdict and allow all Ramiya residents to build their homes in Karmiel? Not in Israel. We have seen it in many cases in the past, most famously in the case of displaced villagers of Bir’am, Iqrit and Ghabsiyah, where the Supreme Court issued orders allowing them to return to their lands. Even if “by mistake” an Israeli court issues a ruling recognizing some rights of Arab citizens, it is nothing but an unfortunate mistake to be fixed by another judicial ruling or directly in practice by the authorities.

In our case, the Administration made the petitioners who won their case to join other judicial proceeding dealing with the cases of other Ramiya residents, which was held in the same Haifa District Court. In this proceeding (civil case 35576/12/10), the Administration found a sympathetic ear in the form of judge Lamshtreich–Leter, which justified all the claims of the Administration, embraced all claims against the residents and even invented new arguments on her own behalf. In her judgment issued on August 5, 2013, contrary to custom, the judge ignored the previous verdict of judge Raniel issued at the very same court, and turned his ruling upside down.

Judge Lamshtreich–Leter was not content “only” to justify the theft of lands belonging to Ramiya residents and to order their deportation from Karmiel. She went farther and put forward her own militant agenda, ruling that any of the residents who would not sign an evacuation agreement with the Administration within 90 days (until November 4, 2013) shall be deemed to renounce voluntarily his rights within the framework of the 1995 settlement agreement and would have to evacuate the area immediately.

The residents filed an appeal against this draconian ruling in the Supreme Court (Civil Appeal 7198/13). The hearing of the appeal on its merits was not yet been held, but Judge Barak-Erez, in her decision of November 11, 2013, refused to grant suspension of execution of the evacuation until the hearing of the appeal and required the petitioners to pay the costs.

Divide and Rob

The most disgusting aspect of the authorities’ conduct in this context is their systematic efforts in sowing discord between Ramiya residents.

The method is simple: The Administration announced that the 30 plots allotted to the new neighborhood in Karmiel are the last offer for Ramiya’s people and that if any of the residents had no place to live this is an internal problem of the division between the residents.

Thus we see, unfortunately, some lawsuits by Ramiya residents against other residents.

When judge Raniel ordered the Administration to allocate additional plots, the Administration completely ignored this directive.

On the other hand, judge Lamshtreich–Leter, in her ruling, adopts this quarrel-mongering tactic wholeheartedly and finds for it new justifications out of any context.

But the arbitrary and scandalous judgment, which denies the achievements of the residents in the agreement of 1995 and ordered their immediate evacuation without housing solutions, finally re-united the residents and re-ignited the public struggle over the principled issues, against racist evictions and land grab.

No to Apartheid – Yes to all Ramiya residents’ right to live in Karmiel

After decades of suffering and persecution, the drama in Ramiya is approaching the moment of truth.

Will forced evictions take place? Is the city of Karmiel determined to solidify its position as Apartheid City through a celebration of destruction and violence?

Or perhaps there is another way, allowing Ramiya residents at least to build homes in the neighborhood assigned for them in Karmiel? We repeat and mention that it is much less than justice – but definitely a crack in the walls of Apartheid…

Let us not forget that the struggle against dispossession and evictions in Ramiya takes place concurrently with the struggle against the “Prawer Plan” for ethnic cleansing against the Naqab (Negev) Bedouin and their concentration in ghettos, as well as similar dispossession and deportation programs in South Mount Hebron, the Jordan Valley and other areas. The guiding principle in all these cases and many others all over Palestine is the dispossession of the indigenous people on a racial basis, the theft of their lands and its re-allocation for the benefit of Apartheid Settlements.

You can help us in the struggle to stop Apartheid.

What can you do?

·        Join the demonstration on Friday, December 20

The Follow-up Committee of the Arab population calls for a demonstration against the eviction of Ramiya and for the right of all Ramiya residents to live on their land, as an independent village or as residents of Karmiel.

The demonstration will take place on Friday, December 20, 2013. Gathering will be at 13:30 in front of the Municipality of Karmiel and from there we will march to Ramiya.

If you can’t come that far you may organize a parallel vigil elsewhere and let us know.

·        Come to visit Ramiya, learn about the place and show solidarity

To coordinate your visit please call in advance Mr. Salah Sawa’ed 054-5975958

·        Join Ramiya’s Friends on Facebook

The Friends of Ramiya group on Facebook was established to help organize solidarity activities.

·        Share information

You may publish and share this publication, as well as invitations to different activities.

This publication is available also in Arabic and Hebrew.

·        Send letters

You can start by sending the attached protest letter (or anything you like to write) to the Israel Lands Authority, which is responsible for the racist policy against Ramiya’s residents, through its site:

www.mmi.gov.il

And to the Mayor of Karmiel, Adi Eldar:

Adie@karmiel.muni.il

Please send a copy to us too (the Friend of Ramiya group): ramiya4ever@gmail.com

Proposed letter in support of Ramiya’s residents

לכבוד מר בנצי ליברמן, מנהל רשות מקרקעי ישראל,

לכבוד מר עדי אלדר, ראש עיריית כרמיאל,

ברצוני להביע את מחאתי נגד נישול תושבי ראמיה ונגד הכוונה להרוס את בתיהם ולפנותם מאדמתם.

נישול ופינוי תושבים ערבים כדי לשכן במקומם תושבים יהודים הינו צעד גזעני שנוגד את ערכי היסוד המקודשים של החברה האנושית.

יש לאפשר לכל תושבי ראמיה לגור בכבוד כתושבים בעלי זכויות מלאות באדמת כפרם.

חתימה: ____________________

To Benzi Lieberman, Manager of the Israel Lands Authority,

To Adi Eldar, Mayor of Karmiel,

I want to express my utmost protest at the expropriation of the people of Ramiya and against the intention to evacuate them from their land and destroy their homes.

Expropriation and evacuation of Arab citizens in order to settle Jewish citizens in their place is a racist measure that contradicts the sacred values of Humanity.

All the people of Ramiya should be allowed to live as equal citizens with full rights on the land of their village.

Signature: __________________

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Bar Israeli leaders from Nelson Mandela’s funeral

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Bar Israeli leaders from Nelson Mandela’s funeral

Letter to South Africa’s government

You report that Israeli leaders will be attending Nelson Mandela’s funeral on 15 December (World leaders converge on South Africa, 7 December 2013). However, Israel is a state which actively practices apartheid against the Palestinians under its rule, and had very close ties with apartheid South Africa. Allowing leaders of such a state to attend Mandela’s funeral would be grotesque and in our eyes make a mockery of his and South Africa’s battle against apartheid.

We therefore urge the South African government to reject Israel’s participation at Mandela’s funeral. That would be the most fitting homage to the man who said, “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”, and to affirm the words of his compatriot, Desmond Tutu, who wrote “The Palestinians are being oppressed more than the apartheid ideologues could ever dream about in South Africa.”

Samir Abed-Rabbo, Dallas

Blake Alcott, Cambridge

Abbas Ali, London

Diana Alzeer, Ramallah

Eli and Nitza Aminov, Jerusalem

Ahmad Azem, Birzeit

Yoav Bar, Haifa

Sophia Barta di Albufera, London

Aysegül Bag, Ankara

Oren Ben-Dor, Southampton

Haim Bresheeth, London

Andy Brown, Leeds

Chris Burns-Cox, Wotton-under-Edge

Shirine Dajjani, Zürich

Uri Davis, Ramallah

Hassan Fouda, Berkeley

Muhammed Zeyn Green-Thompson, Cambridge

Jenny Hardacre, Cambridge

Kurt Häusermann, Zürich

Roger Higginson, London

Owen Holland, Cambridge

Radi Jarai, Ramallah

Ghada Karmi, London

Yacoub Kureh, Cambridge

Geoff Lee, London

Rafi and Liz Magnes, Yaffa

Alan Mann, Leeds

Harald Molgaard, London

Susan Naser, Cambridge

Ramzi Nasir, London

Jacob Norris, Brighton

Rajaa Zoabi Omari, Haifa

Averil Parkinson, Cambridge

Miko Peled, San Diego

Merav Pincharsoff, London

Mazin Qumsiyeh, Bethlehem

Antoine Raffoul, London

Attia and Verena Rajab, Stuttgart

Rupert Read, Norwich

Samah Sabawi, Toronto

Leila Sansour, Bethlehem

Jeffrey StClair, Oregon City US

Derek Summerfield, London

Virginia Tilley, Fiji

Jenny Tonge, London

Alison Weir, Vancouver, US

Jaber Wishah, Gaza

Theresa Wolfwood, Vancouver, Canada

Özlem Yazlik, Cambridge

Yahya Zaloom, London

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Beaten, Wounded and Proud – Detainees from the Haifa Demonstration against Dispossession of the Naqab Arabs

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Beaten, Wounded and Proud – Detainees from the Haifa Demonstration against Dispossession of the Naqab Arabs

It is common knowledge that the police are taught the art of “dry beating” – causing a lot of pain but not leaving clear marks to show in court. Well, today’s police apparently lost this fine art. 21 demonstrators who were arrested on Saturday in the “Day of Rage” demonstration in the German Colony in Haifa downtown were brought to the court yesterday (Sunday 1/12/2013) for remand. Many of them did not have to raise a shirt or roll up their pants’ sleeves to show the judge their bruises – signs of trauma and blood were easily seen on their faces.

Sabrin Diab, a young woman from Tamra in the Galilee, appeared at court with a broken arm fixed in plaster (in the picture, last on the left in the rear) – as a result of the beating she had taken at the time of her arrest. When the lawyers of some other detainees asked the police representative in court “Did he receive medical treatment?” the answer was uniform and laconic: “whoever asked for medical treatment received it.” One after the other the detainees stood up and testified about beatings and pains – and the refusal of the Haifa police and the guards at the Jalameh detention center (“Kishon”) to allow them to see a doctor or receive treatment.

Police Escalation – Also in Court

In the last days the Israeli media was full with incitement by the heads of the racist Zionist establishment against the demonstrators protesting the “Prawer Plan”. Netanyahu’s call to “prosecute them to the end” was not lost on the Haifa police. The police chose to request remand for 21 of the demonstrators that were detained in Haifa, two of them minors. When the hearing judge decided this morning to release the two minors and send them to house arrest, the police rushed to ask for a stay of execution and appealed.

The hearing on extending the detention of the 19 other detainees – four of them women – was conducted in 3 different sessions due to the difficulty to accommodate all the detainees in the courtroom. But the police in its remand request collected all the charges in one package against all of them. To raise the severity of the accusations they resorted to articles of the law that are rarely used in such cases. All 19 detainees were accused of “assaulting a police officer with firearms or cold weapons” and of “causing severe injury when the offender is carrying a weapon.”

Fortunately the enthusiasm and wild exaggeration did not serve the police well this time. The police representative tried to describe the situation as if the German Colony’s streets were full of stones being thrown and told about many policemen that were injured and needed treatment. When asked to provide details he could not name even one policeman who was injured and could not provide any medical certificates.

When the police prosecutor was requested to elaborate how were the “suspects” armed and asked whether any weapons were sized he claimed that they were armed with stones, which were naturally thrown and therefore not caught with the protesters. When asked what was the role of each of the suspects he responded only that “the evidence is before the court.” In some cases the judge volunteered to review the material and answered instead of the policeman – and in all those cases it appeared that the suspects were charged in their initial interrogation only with “assaulting police officers” and all the issue of stone-throwing (or any other “weapons”) was not even mentioned.

Beating in the Advanced Command Post

From what the detainees told in court we learned that they were beaten hardest after their violent arrest. The police established a forward command center in a municipal building on Radak Street near Carmel Boulevard (“Ben Gurion”). The cops were leading the detainees to this center where they could beat them freely away from the media and the public.

One detainee told how a policeman held him down by pressing his knee (the cop’s) on his neck while punching fists in his face. The signs of the knee and punches were easy to identify.

A declaration of the Haifa “popular committee” that was published (in Arabic) against the violent dispersal of a demonstration accuses the police also of sexual harassment in words and deeds against female detainees.

Alleged Ground for Remand

Cases where protesters are detained typically follow a fixed pattern: the cops complain that they were victims of assault and they are also the witnesses. This format has one advantage: because it is assumed that the detainees can’t influence the police witnesses, it is difficult to use the grounds of “fear of obstruction of justice” to justify prolonged detention. This time the police tried to justify a prolonged detention by claiming that they intend to interrogate many people who were present, not only police officers…

The police prosecutor, who recently enjoyed high unconditional confidence from the Haifa Court in various political detention cases, refused to answer most questions. He even refused to answer some question routinely repeated in remand hearings as “how many investigation acts the police intends to conduct?” (The only answer given to this question was “a lot”). When he was asked questions about various details in the case he often avoided any answer and kept himself busy with the mobile phone in his hand. At one point, he even ostentatiously turned his back to the lawyer who was questioning him. When that attorney protested he said: “I hear you this way just the same.”

The detainees complained that they were denied food and drink all the way at the Haifa police station, in prison and while in detention in court. One of the lawyers even asked whether starving the detainees is part of the many “investigation acts” taken by the police in this case.

The fight against the Prawer Plan continues in court

Many representatives of the media attended the court hearing. There is no doubt that the “Day of Rage” protest on Saturday brought a quantum leap in public awareness to the Prawer plan to dispossess the Arabs of the Naqab (Negev in Hebrew) and the resistance it evokes.

It is common practice that, while the detainees are brought into the court, reporters and photographers get a “time out” to take pictures and interview them. These are often difficult and embarrassing moments for detainees. This time the detainees entered holding their heads high and happy for the opportunity to speak out – obviously proud to take part in the just struggle against ethnic cleansing. They rushed to make statements to the media about the objectives of the struggle. Some of the detainees raised their hands with the victory sign upon entering the hall.

Many of the defense lawyers explained and stressed in court that this is a legitimate, just and even indispensable struggle of the Arab population against the injustice done by the state. Some lawyers even mentioned that they themselves participated in the demonstration.

Release, appeal and postponement

Meanwhile the appeal hearing about the release of the two minor detainees was held in the district court. Under pressure from the court, the parties agreed on postponing the release until 8 pm.

After long proceedings that filled most of the time from 9:30 am to 17:00 pm, the judge decided to release the rest of the detainees. The prosecution announced that it plans to appeal. Six detainees, including Sabrin Diab with the broken arm and lawyer Suhair Assad were released anyway. Release of the rest, two women and eleven men, was postponed until the appeal hearing on Monday.

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Today (Monday, December 2) at 14:30 the Haifa District Court decided to dismiss the prosecution’s appeal and release all the detainees – some of them under house arrest.

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This post was initially published in Hebrew.

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