Young Gazans speak up at online seminar

“People are demanding their basic rights! People want to live in dignity… It is a choice between slow death under siege or being shot at the fence.”

“I think the Great March of Return is the last option the Palestinian people have right now.”

“The voice of young people in Gaza has to be heard!”

These were just a few of the heartfelt pleas voiced when two
dozen, mainly youthful social-justice activists from Gaza took part in a
(Skyped) discussion with JWE president Helena Cobban, April 23.

This hour-long conversation was convened, on the Gaza end, by the Center for Political and Development Studies (CPDS), a Gaza-based research center, and featured members of their “Birds Without Borders” youth-activist team. It coincided with the opening, in CPDS’s Hashim Yeop Sani Library, of an exhibition of 40 photos of international (mainly US-based) solidarity activists holding up signs that proudly proclaim #IStandWithGaza.

The session marked almost exactly eight years since Ms.
Cobban took part in a seminar at CPDS in person (as reported by participant
Yousef Aljamal, here.)

The April 23 session was organized
by CPDS Librarian Ahmad Ghazal. Ms. Cobban opened it by speaking a little about
her earlier work as an author and publisher, and about Just World Educational’s
work to expand the discourse in the United States, especially on the Palestine
Question. “There has been so much disinformation here,” she told the Gaza
crowd. “The impact of the Zionists at all levels of the culture has been
very negative. We try to bring more Palestinian voices and Palestinian
perspectives such as the wonderful Palestinian cartoonist Mohammed Sabaneh. He
shared his art and perspective with the American public.”

But she also
noted that over the 35 years she has been in the United States, “Things have
really changed here, at the grassroots level and even now a little bit at the
political level. I have worked for years alongside others, including many
Palestinians Americans, to try to explain things to people. But now finally
people are listening.”

She cited the
recent election to the U.S. Congress of supporters of Palestinian rights such
as Rep. Rashida Tlaib from Michigan and Rep. Ilhan Omar from Minnesota as
demonstrating a real change in the attitudes of many grassroots Americans to
the Palestine Question. She noted that Sen. Bernie Sanders and other
national-level leaders are now also prepared to express open criticism of
Israeli policies and that attitudes toward Israel are changing within many
sections of the U.S. citizenry, including among Jewish Americans—but she
stressed that much more educational work remains to be done.

But she
stressed that she wanted to hear from the people of Gaza themselves regarding
the situation of their families and the difficulties they go through and what
they expect from people outside especially in the United States to do. She
asked the Gaza youths if they judged that a mainly-online project like
#IStandWithGaza is meaningful for them.

The first
person to respond was Ms. Rana Shubair, who observed, “There are mostly
university students here today. Some people aged 30 don’t know from Palestine
except Gaza because they have never seen any other parts of Palestine. We can’t
visit Jerusalem, we can’t visit any Palestinian city. So, it is a psychological
struggle as well as a physical one.”

Rana noted that
the internet allows Gaza Palestinians to connect with people in the outside
world, including by writing about their daily lives. “We love life, we want to
live, love, and get an education!” she stressed. Rana’s view was shared by
Helena eight years ago, when she told Gaza’s youths “The internet is your
Tahrir square.”

“We believe
that armed struggle is not the only way to end the occupation. That’s why a
year ago people started the peaceful Great March of Return. People were
peacefully demanding their right to live in peace. The protesters were received
with fire and thousands of people were shot by Israeli snipers, many of them
were children. We want from people outside to stand in solidarity with us and
to boycott Israel.”

Helena asked
Rana if it is worth to continue the Great March of Return a year after it was
launched or if she thinks it is too painful to do so.

“People are
demanding their basic human rights,” Rana responded. “People want to live in
dignity. All people have seen is destruction and war. People have survived
three wars and 80% of young people are unemployed. These are the people who are
protesting. It is a choice between slow death under siege or being shot at the
fence.”

Jehad Al-Hallaq
added: “The voice of young people in Gaza to has to be heard. Many people
around the world do not know who is the victim, who is the victimizer. So, it
is our responsibility to tell the truth about what is going on here.”

Wesam Abujarad
commented on the #IStandWithGaza campaign that it “shows us how people around
the world really care about us. The situation of youths here is known to
everyone. They are suffering. There are no jobs. The only thing that we are
convinced of is to reveal this suffering to people around the world.”

The session
included quite a lot of discussion of the Great March of Return. Yousef Ghabin
described it as “the last option the Palestinian people have right now.” He
added:

When you have a lot of people protesting, the Israeli army will be
on alert all the time 24/7. This will of course cost Israel a lot of money and
efforts and will come at a political price. Israel can’t live with this
situation. When people protest they convey their message to the world and the
reality they live in the Gaza Strip. They want to tell the world what is really
happening and tell them about their suffering. If people in Gaza suffer, Israel
has to suffer with them.

The GMR serves to expose Israeli practices against protesters and
Palestinians in Gaza. It shows the world that the Israeli army is using live ammunition
against peaceful protesters. A lot of women and children fell victims to the
practices of the Israeli occupation. I think the GMR is effective. The
Palestinian Authority spoke to Israel for 26 years now and they got nothing.
The Gaza Strip is under siege. So, the only way for the Palestinian people to
keep the cause alive is to protest and say no, to scream. There are victims,
but it is the price of freedom.

Helena asked
what reactions the people at CPDS had seen from inside Israel to the GMR.
Yousef replied, “There are people who expose Israeli crimes such as the Israeli
organization B’Tselem, and other media leftist outlets such as Haaretz. They
don’t have a lot of effectiveness. They can say something, but they can’t do
anything, because they are weak inside Israel.”

Another
participant added, “There are people in Israel who support the Great March of
Return, but they are not many. They take photos of Israeli snipers killing
Palestinians and post them to social media. Israelis tend to cover up their crimes.
But we should fight to expose their crimes and support the Palestinian cause.”

Helena had
asked what the CPDS participants thought their supporters in the United States
and other countries could most effectively do to support their cause. Wesam
Abujarad’s view was that, “We know that Israelis try to have hegemony over the
media. So, it is very important for Palestinians and their supporters to
publish and write to change the perception of people around the world. Such
books tell the truth about our issue. They tell our suffering in Gaza and the
West Bank.”

As the
conversation got lively, Helena showed the audience Gaza Kitchen, a book that her company Just World Books had
published in the United States, telling them that sometimes the way to people’s
hearts is their stomachs!

More seriously,
Yousef Ghabin stressed the following priorities for rights supporters in the
west: “We expect you and other activists in the United States to expose the
crimes committed against the Palestinian people, especially during the Great
March of Return. There are crimes committed against protesters including women
and children. They also target media outlets and press people who cover these
protests because they want to hide their crimes, so they don’t want these media
outlets to come and cover what is going on. So, please, convey what is going on
in Gaza to people in the United States by using social and mainstream media!”

Yousef also
urged Americans to speak out about the 7,000-plus Palestinian prisoners in
Israel’s jails and the plight of Palestinian Jerusalem. He noted that the
situation in Jerusalem had deteriorated badly after the United States moved its
embassy there last year.

“Israel,” he
said, “is using a lot of abusive tactics to pressure people in Jerusalem such
as confiscating their IDs, demolishing their houses, arresting people there.
Israel wants to push Palestinians out of Jerusalem to make a place for the
Zionist Israeli settlers. I think people in Jerusalem are suffering a lot and
there is a little media coverage about it… The international media should cover
the situation of people in Jerusalem too.”

Helena asked
the CPDS people how they thought their own political leadership could be more
effective, and whether a new round of Palestinian elections might be helpful.
Yousef responded: “Our leadership are far away from reality. I think one big
problem we have is our leadership. Our leadership both in the Gaza Strip and
the West Bank are not in touch with the needs of our people… Our leaders don’t
want to have elections because they want to stick to power they have! People
are not satisfied with the PA after all these years of peace talks, so our
leaders will try to maintain the status quo.”

After the Skype
session was over, Helena Cobban noted that it was difficult and heart-wrenching
for her not to be able to have the same kinds of in-person discussion with
young people at CPDS that she was able to have back in 2011—“though I realize
that the brutal and inhuman siege and travel ban that Israel has maintained on
Gaza for so many years, with the full support of the U.S. government, is a
thousand times harder for the people in Gaza than it is for me.” But she and
her colleagues on the board of Just World Educational are delighted that the
April 23 session was just one in a series of activities that Just World
Educational will be undertaking this year to highlight the situation in
Palestine.

The post Young Gazans speak up at online seminar appeared first on Just World Educational.

Palestinian churches and mosques: Burned deliberately by Zionist extremists

There has been some consternation this week about comments that the (Israeli-government-paid) Rabbi of Beit El settlement made about the terrible fire at Paris’s Notre Dame cathedral. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner told a questioner that burning churches outside the holy land “isn’t our job for now. There is no mitzvah [religious credit] to seek out churches abroad and burn them down. In our holy land, however, the issue is more complicated.

The essential background for Rabbi Aviner’s statement is the fact that Jewish extremists’ torchings of churches and mosques in the areas controlled by Israel have a long history that continues until today.

In September 2017, Ha’Aretz reported this story: “53 Mosques and Churches Vandalized in Israel Since 2009, but Only 9 Indictments Filed.” The most recent church burning the article reported had occurred just days earlier.

One of the most notable of the church burnings in recent years was that at the “Church of the Multiplication”, located on the shores of the Sea of Galilee at the spot where Jesus of Nazareth was reported to have fed 5,000 people through the “multiplication” of just five loaves and two fishes.

That June 2015 attack left a Catholic monk hospitalized and caused nearly $1.8 million in damage, some of which is shown in the photo at the head of this post.

Among the Israelis suspected of taking part in that arson attack were Meir Kahaneh’s grandson Meir Ettinger and Ben-Zi Gopstein, the head of the radical “anti-miscegenation” group Lahava.

Gopstein, who has referred to Christians as “blood-sucking vampires” is one of the leaders of the political party Otzma Yehudit that was one of Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition partners in the recent election.

Palestine was, of course, the cradle of Christianity. (Above: the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.) It is home not just to some of the most ancient and revered sites of Jesus’s ministry but also to numerous Palestinian-Christian congregations whose members can claim with some justification to be descendants of Jesus’s earliest converts.

These indigenous Palestinian Christians have suffered alongside their Muslim compatriots from the dispossession and oppression meted out by the Zionist colonial-settler project.

People around the world have been expressing great sadness at the burning (almost certainly unintentional) of so much of the Notre Dame cathedral’s glory. But we should also be aware that Christians and Muslims in Palestine– like the congregations of so many historically African-American churches in the American South– face a very real fear that ideological extremists will be continuing to threaten their places of worship with arson and other atrocities.

The post Palestinian churches and mosques: Burned deliberately by Zionist extremists appeared first on Just World Educational.

Statement issued by the Palestinian National Movement inside the Israeli occupation jails

[The following is a translation into English by Yousef al-Jamal of the text of the Arabic-language statement issued by the prisoners’ leaders. It provides valuable background to recent developments inside Israel’s political-prisoner incarceration system. ~JWE Editor.]

“Allah said,
‘How many a small party has overcome a larger party by Allah’s will! And Allah
is with the patient.’” (Sura 2-249)

To the children
of our great Palestinian people,

Our people
still affirm their will of salvation, accumulating achievement after achievement
and writing history with their faithful spirits so that our nation could take
its place among nations and civilizations.

The right does
not get lost if there are people demanding it.

We, the inside-the-prisons National Movement, have met to formulate a plan to fight back and address the unprecedented assault that aims to steal all our rights and the gains that we have paid dearly to achieve over the years.

In our first
statement in 2019, we affirmed that we are facing a real and organized war led
by the Israeli occupation which is using all its arms to wage this war against
us.

This campaign
began by withdrawing the rights and achievements won by prisoners by breaking
into sections and through the suppression of prisoners which resulted in 150
injuries at the Ofer Prison.

This was
followed by the installation of jamming devices in Section 4 in the Negev
prison, which rang an alarm putting our lives at risk. We tried hard and in
different ways to address the matter with the Israeli Prison Service, but
without achieving tangible results, as the jailers continued their arrogance following
transferring prisoners in section 7 at the Ramon Detention Hospital to Section
1 and installing jamming devices there, suppressing our brothers and brutally
assaulting them, which resulted in more than 50 injuries, after the prisoners
decided to burn all rooms as a defensive step to protect their lives from the
slow death of these jamming devices.

At this stage, we
informed the jailers that this criminal act will change the nature of dealing
with them and that the blood that was spilled from our brothers will be
answered by the same manner where prisoner Islam Kefahi took the initiative to
end this injustice and stop this oppression against our brothers to keep their
dignity, drawing a new line for the occupation in its battle of wills against
us.

This is where our enemy realized that it had misjudged the situation and realized that the demand we held up was a fact and that we were not ready to negotiate our own dignity.

In the context
of these events, we prepared a comprehensive plan for starting an open-ended
hunger strike known as the battle of Al-Karama (dignity) 2, which began on
April 8, 2019, which saw the entry of the leaders and representatives of the
prisons’ dialogue committees into the strike.

The dialogue
between the prisoners and the IPS began on Sunday April 7, 2019. In light of the
arrogance of the Israeli occupation, we announced the start of the battle of Al-Karama
2 on Monday April 8, 2019.

In a tactical
step, we adopted two different paths:

  • 1. Starting a dialogue with the IPS to win our rights.
  • 2. Expanding the scope of the hunger strike whenever necessary.

The dialogue was resumed on Tuesday April 9, 2019 based on the aforementioned principle. Having an internal consultation among prisoners was our principle. All the detainees participated in the decisions and the atmosphere of the internal dialogue was clear.

 In this context, we emphasize the following:

A. We send words of loyalty and gratitude to the blood that spilled at the Negev Desert Prison in our homeland of brothers in Section 4 and Section 1 of the Ramon Prison. These great sacrifices taught us that freedom and dignity are the basis of virtue and that it is a human right that cannot be denied.

B. We highly appreciate the inherent position of the people of Gaza and its leadership who revealed the unity of our shared destiny, which appeared in their actions and linking all understandings of the current stage with the Israeli occupation with our just cause. History will not forget these positions of life during moments of death, and words fail to express or pay this favor to them.

C. We thank our people in the occupied West Bank, the Occupied Homeland, our people in the Diaspora and the free people of the world, who supported us at times of retreat (by some).

D. We recommend that all our people and nation support the Palestinian resistance, which gave us its sword when we were under the arrogance and aggression of our enemy on the night of the massacre of the Negev Prison. The response was clear from Gaza with pride, hitting the heart of the Israeli entity. We, on behalf of all the prisoners, salute our brave resistance which protects our Palestinian national project as well as the oppressed and the weak.

E. We thank our Egyptian brothers for their leading role in supporting the issues of our Palestinian people and working to lift injustice imposed on us, and their position will be remembered in our history.

F. We declare reaching an agreement with the IPS to achieve our goal of removing and neutralizing all jamming devices, and for the first time in the history of the prisoner movement, allowing detention centers to install a public telephone in all prison sections, wherever there is a Palestinian prisoner.

G. Restoring imprisonment conditions in all sections of detention centers to what they were prior to February 16, 2019, which is the date of the beginning of the events that accompanied the installation of jamming devices as well as imposing extensive punitive measures against us.

H. We managed to achieve a number of basic humane demands that impact the lives of prisoners, especially isolated prisoners and their departure from isolation.

I. We will monitor the behavior of the occupation and we are in a state of readiness to implement what was agreed upon as we don’t trust the IPS and there is no place for good intentions and actions on the ground will determine our decisions.

The battle is
not over yet. The most difficult stage is the implementation of what was agreed
upon. Do not stop your support and this what we trust you will keep doing.

We salute NGOs
and bodies working for the issues of prisoners and all local and international
media bodies for their pioneering and leading role in conveying our hopes,
alleviating our pain and exposing the crimes of the Israeli occupation against
us.

Our great
people, we have the right to be proud for belonging to you. Our country will
continue standing as long as you are there defending it.

Your brothers,

The Palestinian National Movement inside the Zionist occupation jails

The post Statement issued by the Palestinian National Movement inside the Israeli occupation jails appeared first on Just World Educational.

Fire under Al-Aqsa mosque at same time as Paris’s Notre Dame fire

On April 15, the same day that a massive fire gutted much of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, a much smaller fire broke out in the Al-Marwani prayer room located under Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque.

The Jerusalem Waqf (endowment) that administers the numerous great sites in occupied East Jerusalem considered very holy by Muslims and Christians, reported that its firefighters were able to bring the fire under control fairly speedily.

Waqf firefighters extinguishing the Al-Marwani fire

The Al-Marwani prayer room is located in a very large arched space that is part of the foundation of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, considered the third holiest site in Muslim history. News of the recent fire aroused some fears among Palestinians that an anti-Muslim extremist might have set it. But Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, director general of the Jerusalem Waqf and the Al-Aqsa Mosque Affairs Department downplayed those fears.

(In July 1969, an Australian Christian-Evangelical extremist called Denis Michael Rohan set fire to the pulpit of Al-Aqsa itself, claiming that he was doing so to further God’s plan to ingather all the world’s Jews into Israel.)

The broad esplanade above the Al-Marwani Room, in which Al-Aqsa and the more ornate “Dome of the Rock” Mosque are both located, is known by Palestinians as the Haram al-Sharif, “The Noble Sanctuary” and is known in Jewish tradition as the “Temple Mount”. Since Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem began in 1967, this whole area has been the epicenter of repeated attempts by Zionist extremists to seize control of as much of the territory (and its numerous subterranean and above-ground structures) as possible.

For now, the administration of the Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem is in the hands of the Jerusalem Waqf–which reports not to the Palestinian Authority but to the government of Jordan.

In this recent article in JWE’s “Story/Backstory” project, JWE President Helena Cobban placed this seemingly anomalous fact of Jordan playing such a key role in Jerusalem in the context of the longer history of Zionism’s assaults on Palestinian Jerusalem.

In the podcast episode that accompanied the article, Nora Lester Murad explained how Palestinian Jerusalem was now “in the front-line of the ongoing Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe).”

Other recent articles on Jerusalem on our blog can be found here.

The post Fire under Al-Aqsa mosque at same time as Paris’s Notre Dame fire appeared first on Just World Educational.

On Palestinian Prisoner Day: A Whole Captive Population Longing For Freedom

By Yousef M. Aljamal*

NEWSFLASH!! Palestinian prisoners just ended their mass, open-ended hunger strike after they managed to force the Israeli Prison Service to install landlines in prisons which will allow them to speak with their families. This is an unprecedented win for the hunger strikers.

Palestinians and their supporters around the globe mark April 17 every year as a day of solidarity with the Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. The PLO’s Palestinian National Council (PNC) chose this date to recall the release on April 17, 1974 of Mahmoud Bakir Hijazi, the first Palestinian prisoner to be held in Israeli jails.

The PNC hoped that the commemoration would send a message of hope, solidarity, and freedom to all Palestinians behind bars in Israel: just as Hijazi was released in 1974, there will come a day when all Palestinian political prisoners will be released.

Palestinians
who have spent decades in Israeli jails– like Nael Barghouthi, who has spent
39 years inside– send the rest of us messages that indeed they dream of
tomorrow and that the walls of their prisons will one day collapse.

This
year has seen the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) taking unprecedented measures
against Palestinian prisoners, including the installation of devices to
intercept and prevent Palestinians from making phone calls to their families
using smuggled phones.

These
devices have had grave health implications on Palestinian prisoners who began
to vomit and have skin diseases. On April 8, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners
began a mass hunger-strike to protest this latest Israeli measure, as well as
to put forth the following demands:

  • family visits for those prisoners who are not allowed to see their
    families,
  • the provision of landlines, TVs and a cooking machine in their
    cells,
  • allowing prisoners to take photos with their families once a year,
  • direct contact with child prisoners in Israeli jails to help them
    go through this difficult experience.

Israel
has refused so far to meet the demands of prisoners, so the strike is still going
on, putting the lives of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners at risk.

In
Israeli jails, phones are not allowed and therefore prisoners seek refuge in
smuggling in phones, to be able to stay in touch with their families. If these
phones are caught, prisoners would be harshly punished by the IPS, including
placing them in solitary confinement. Prisoners, therefore, think of creative
means to hide the phones, including digging in the ground or placing them
behind electric switches as was revealed after some of them were recently found
there. (As there are not many of these phones, they are very expensive as a
phone that might cost 100 USD could be sold for 7,000-10,000 USD.)

In
addition to smuggling a small number of phones into their prisons, Palestinian
prisoners have smuggled their sperm out of prison so they could have children (even
if these children will most likely will grow up deprived of their fathers’
presence.) Some Palestinian prisoners have smuggled out their writings, too,
using capsules. And they have tried many times to break their chains and leave
their cells for the outside world– as the famed prisoner Hamza Younis did,
managing to escape from Israeli jails three times over.

The previous experiences of the Palestinian prisoners made them very careful when negotiating with the IPS. In one of the hunger-strikes, prisoners wanted to have access to TV–which they achieved at the end of a mass, open-ended, hunger strike. Yet the IPS was so literal: it allowed the TVs in but without any TV channels, as this was not written in the agreement!

Fear of memories…

One thing that Israel fears the most in all Palestinians, including the Palestinian prisoners, is their memories. The great Palestinian poet Mamoud Darwish wrote poignantly abou, “the invaders’ fear of memories.”

In 2012, the prisoner Hana Shalabi was taken to a hospital in Haifa after engaging in a hunger strike. Once there, her feet were tied to her hospital bed and her hands were in shackles. But despite her pain, she smiled at her jailer, telling him that the IPS helped her realize one of her dreams: to be in Haifa, where her family came from, before they were kicked out to Jenin in the West Bank.

The IPS immediately ordered that she be transferred to another hospital in a different city. Her memories of her village near Haifa, which was ethnically cleansed by Israel in 1948, terrified them.

The
family of the Palestinian child prisoner and martyr Ayman al-Abbasi also have a
strong memory—in this case, of the day that he was killed by Israeli forces in
Jerusalem just after being released from Israeli jails. Ayman was shot dead
while taking part in the popular protests in 2015 in Jerusalem, which were
known as the Jerusalem Intifada.

After
he was killed, mourners had to rush his body to the nearby graveyard to bury
him even before his mother could bid him any last farewell, lest the Israeli
forces kidnap his body and God knows when they would return it back, if they
ever would.

Israel
should forever be ashamed of detaining children as young as four years old to
satisfy its lust for Palestinian blood and life at the expense of a whole
captive population.

Over
the 52 years since 1967 Israel has arrested over one million Palestinians,
which amounts to approximately one-fourth of the Palestinian population in the
West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These arrests started immediately after the Israeli
military invaded the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in 1967.

The memories that the prisoners bear of their imprisonment live on. The veteran Palestinian prisoner Ahmad Alhaaj spent nearly 3 years in Israel jails in the 1960/70s, after he was accused of leading resistance against the Israeli occupation and leading the Communist Party in Palestine. In 1948, when Alhaaj was 15, he was ethnically cleansed from his village in the area that became “Israel” and ended up a refugee in Gaza… One of his memories of the Israeli prisons is that the jailers used  a to give him a pair of left socks because, according to them, he was “leftist.”

Former prisoners Mufti Ismail Aljamal (left photo: with Yasser Arafat, in Jericho), and Ahmad Alhaaj (right photo, participating in a Great March of Return gathering in Gaza.)

My grandfather from my mother’s side, Ismail Aljamal, had strong
memories of his time in Israel’s prisons, too. He spent six years in Israeli
jails from 1972-78 for his nationalism and participating in armed resistance to
the Israeli occupation. All that the prisoners wanted was to end Israel’s
occupation and to live in freedom. But in Israel’s eyes, they asked for too
much, and therefore they deserved to be thrown in jails forever.

Despite this, the Palestinian people and prisoners are still beautiful and full of hope of being free after all these years behind bars. As Palestinian novelist Ibrahim Nasrallah put it in his novel The Time of White Horses, “After all these years under occupation, we are still beautiful, as if we live above occupation not under it.”

Yousef M. Aljamal is a Palestinian who grew up in Al-Nuseirat
refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. He is a PhD candidate at the Middle East
Institute at Sakarya University in Turkey.

The post On Palestinian Prisoner Day: A Whole Captive Population Longing For Freedom appeared first on Just World Educational.

Palestinian prisoners in Israel’s jail: Facts and resources

Prepared with the help of Yousef al-Jamal

According to the Ramallah-based prisoners-rights organization Ad-Dameer, as of March 2019, 5,450 Palestinian political prisoners are in Israeli jails and they are scattered across 22 prisons in Israel and the occupied West Bank.

Just World Educational is pleased to provide all the information in this blog post as part of the #ISupportPalPrisoners project that we are running this week. Palestinian Prisoners’ Day is marked annually on April 17, the anniversary of the first release (in 1974) of any Palestinian political prisoner.

As part of this campaign, we invite everyone to download one of the following signs, provided in both “US Letter” and “A4” format, and then: print it out, add as much personal info as you choose, take a selfie, and post it to social media with the hashtag #ISupportPalPrisoners. Or, make and use your own sign! (Scroll on down to learn more about the situation of the Palestinian prisoners.)

US Letter format
A4 format

497 of the Palestinian prisoners are held under administrative detention, which allows for their indefinite detention without a charge or trial. Four of these are members of the elected Palestinian Legislative Council. (Scroll on down for more facts and figures… )

Credit: Visualizing Palestine

Israel holds 205 Palestinian children behind its bars, 32 of them under 16.

For more information about Palestinian child prisoners:

  • you could read Dreaming of Freedom : Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak by Norma Hashim, which includes first-hand witnesses of child prisoners in Israeli jails, including the story of Ayman Alabasi, a child from Jerusalem who was imprisoned then shot dead by Israeli forces, and whose body had to be smuggled and buried to avoid being kidnapped by Israeli forces as a punishment for his family.
  • You can listen to 22 stories of Palestinian political prisoners who were released from Israeli jails in 2011.
  • Also, visit the website of the “No Way to Treat a Child” campaign in the United States.

Palestinian women were not spared imprisonment by Israel. Today, 47 Palestinian female detainees are in Israeli jails. The most prominent is Isra’a Aljabayis. We recommend reading this interview with her sister which explains the horror Isra’a has to go through every day due to the severe burns she is suffering from following her arrest.

Jerusalem has its share of prisoners. Today, 340 prisoners from the city are behind Israeli bars.

The Gaza Strip, which has been under Israeli siege for nearly 13 years now, has 294 of its people in jails in Israel.

In total, seven members of the elected Palestinian Legislative Council are held in Israeli jails.

Palestinians living under Israeli control and who hold Israeli passports have also been the target of Israeli arrests. Today, 152 of them are in Israeli jails, including Kareem Yonis, who spent 37 years in Israeli jails.

Israel refuses to release these p[risoners claiming that they are Israeli citizens and should not be included in any prison swap deal with the Palestinian factions.

Nael Al-Barghouthi is the oldest political prisoner in the world. He spent 39 years in Israeli jails and was re-arrested in 2013 following his release in 2011.

26 Palestinians have been in Israeli jails since before signing the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993.

540 Palestinian prisoners are sentenced to life imprisonment (which Israel calculates as 99 years.) 493 are sentenced to more than 20 years, but less than “life”.

More than 1,800 Palestinian prisoners are sick. Since 1967, 208 prisoners have passed away due to either medical negligence or torture.

Most recently, the Palestinian prisoner Faris Baroud passed away in Israeli jails due to medical negligence. He had been arrested in 1991 and his mother lost her sight and then passed away as she waited for him to be released. Israel is still holding his body.

Read this letter by Palestinian prisoner Hassan Salameh which he wrote following the death of yet another inmate.

In total, around one million Palestinians have been arrested by Israel since 1967.

The post Palestinian prisoners in Israel’s jail: Facts and resources appeared first on Just World Educational.

Our #IStandWithGaza project off to great start!

Earlier this month, our #IStandWithGaza project got off to a great start when we took our “Instant ISWG Photo Booth” to the recent “No to NATO, Yes to Peace” festival in Washington DC.

Despite being ridiculously understaffed, we set up, took, and shared nearly 40 photos of festival-goers holding up their “#IStandWithGaza” signs.

There was lots of interest in the Just World Ed resources about Gaza that we made available. They included printouts of Josh Ruebner’s recent blog post on the UN HRC’s recent report on Israel’s terrible killings at the Gaza perimeter fence and copies of our “Understanding Gaza and Hamas” factsheet (PDF downloadable here.)

Participants in the festival were happy to be able to publicly share their support for Gaza’s people, and the photos from the “booth” were tweeted out in near-real time, using the #IStandWithGaza hashtag.

We’re now excited to be planning with our friends at Gaza City’s Center for Political and Development Studies for them to mount an exhibition of these photos in the near future, so that Gaza’s people can feel the love our booth participants sent to them.

We invite all lovers of rights and equality from around the world to join this #IStandWithGaza project. Simply download the image of your choice (in US Letter size, or A4 size), print out a few copies to share with friends, take the photos with the backdrop of your choice, and tweet them out with the #IStandWithGaza hashtag!

This is US Letter size

This is A4 size.

The post Our #IStandWithGaza project off to great start! appeared first on Just World Educational.

Algeria’s amazing mass movement makes gains…

The Arab world is seeing a wave of mass popular movements that we might even call “Arab Spring 2.0.” In Gaza, protesters have marched weekly for over a year now near the perimeter fence with Israel, demanding an end to their cruel siege and implementation of their Right of Return. In Sudan, regular protests today forced the resignation of long-time President Omar al-Bashir. And in Algeria, the mass protests conducted weekly since February also last week forced the country’s long-time president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, to resign…

Tomorrow (Friday), Just World Educational will be releasing two completely original resources about current events in Algeria, in our continuing “Story/Backstory” project. They will be are now available as follows: a text interview with long-time Algeria specialist William B. Quandt and a podcast/audio interview with Algerian poet Amin Khan.

We’re pleased also to provide the following essential background material about the protest movement that has swept Algeria since February 22:

  • Our translation into English of a list of “18 Commandments of the Pacifist and Civilized Demonstrator” that Algerian journalist, poet, and publisher Lazhari Labter issued in early March, as the protest movement took root. (This was translated from a French version of the list, published in Nouvel Observateur, on March 8.)
  • An authorized translation into English of the political reform program that poet (and thought leader) Amin Khan— also, the participant in our upcoming podcast!– published in “Huffington Post Maghreb” on April 5. (Please note that this version of the translation contains significant corrections from the version erroneously published earlier.)

“The 18 commandments
of the pacifist and civilized demonstrator”

by Algerian journalist, poet, and publisher Lazhari Labter

  1. I shall walk peacefully and quietly.
  2. I shall behave as a dignified and civilized person will I behave,
  3. I shall carry water and vinegar [to clean the face in case of tear gas, Editor’s note.]
  4. I shall answer no provocation.
  5. I shall isolate and hand over to the police the baltaguias [ the name given to provocateurs paid by the forces in power to create violence.]
  6. Not a stone will I throw.
  7. Not a window will I break.
  8. Not a word out of place shall I speak.
  9. I shall not touch people or property.
  10. To the policeman and the gendarme, I shall smile.
  11. To the woman, I will offer a rose.
  12. With the thirsty, I will share my water.
  13. Old people, women, and children, I will watch over.
  14. I shall march with determination.
  15. I shall go through wind and storms.
  16. I shall be a worthy heir to the Novembrists [the Algerian independence activists who launched the anti-colonial insurrection on November 1, 1954.]
  17. After the march, I will clean the streets and squares.
  18. To the world watching me, I shall provide a lesson and a great example.

Because I know that Liberty at the end of the road will wait for me and in her open arms she will welcome me!


For the democratic transition

By Amin Khan
 Writer

Since February 22, 2019 the Popular Movement has appeared to the eyes of Algerians and the world for what it is, a peaceful political movement of national, popular and democratic scale. This character has since been confirmed from day to day and from week to week, and its strength has grown to the extent that now, the People’s Movement unites all the places of the territory, the diaspora, all social categories, all political tendencies and ideologies against a regime identified as failure in all areas, an illegitimate, repressive, inefficient and corrupt regime.

With the letter of 11 March, 2019 attributed to the President of the Republic, the regime broke the constitutional order, admitting its inability to break the impasse to which it led the country, but, by the same token, also inevitably opening the way to a new possibility of solution of the crisis… because in reality, the rape of the Constitution by the President of the Republic gives to the real power, the ANP [the Army], the possibility of responding positively to the request of the Popular Movement, a clear and precise demand supported by almost all Algerians: the departure of the current regime and its replacement by a regime, fully democratic, and therefore legitimate. 

The People’s Movement knows that it cannot achieve its basic objective without retaining its determination and vigor, without maintaining its peaceful character, and without actualizing the new balance of power that it will establish through the creation of institutions that are born of the Popular Movement, starting with Government of Democratic Transition.

Today, when the existing bodies that form the strongest framework of the state apparatus, notably the judiciary, the army and the police, express their sympathy for the People’s Movement, it is time to get out of stalemate and move in the path of the political, orderly, peaceful and democratic solution of the crisis. From this point of view, it appears more and more that the widest opinion can converge on the following points:

– The departure of the Head of State and his government as soon as possible. 

– The immediate dissolution of the National Assembly, the Council of the Nation (the Senate), and the Constitutional Council.

 – The formation of a democratic transition government composed of persons recognized in society for their patriotism, their integrity, their independence, their competence and their commitment alongside the people, for the defense of the public good, the general interest, of the rule of law and democracy.

– This government would be responsible for carrying out, over a period of less than one year, a program whose content, objectives and deadlines would be precise, public and solemn, and would consist mainly of preparing for the holding of democratic elections by, among other relevant measures, the establishment of fundamental democratic freedoms, the opening of the fields of organization and the expression of citizens, trade unions and politics, the sanitation and publication of the electoral register, the revision of the laws on parties, associations, media and elections.

– The founding act of the next regime will be the adoption by the people of the new Constitution.

– The Government of the Democratic Transition will have to ensure that the process leading to the adoption of the Constitution strengthens the dynamics of the People’s Democratic Revolution of 22 February.

– The presidential and the National Assembly elections would take place following the adoption of the Constitution.

– Pending the election of the President of the Republic, the powers that are now vested in him would be transferred to the Head of the Government of the Democratic Transition.

– The People’s Movement will have to continue its mobilization throughout the transition, including through the organization of public discussions and debates on all issues that affect the design of the new regime and the future of the country.

 The ANP (the Army) is today challenged. It must make its choice known: support the current regime, or support the transition to a democratic system.

 If the ANP indeed chooses to support the People’s Movement, it should call a representative of the People’s Movement to establish as soon as possible a democratic transition government, and this, from the departure of the Head of State.

Faced with the various economic, social and political crises that weigh on it, the country must not waste time before engaging in the inevitable and salutary transition required by the People’s Movement.

The post Algeria’s amazing mass movement makes gains… appeared first on Just World Educational.

In Israel, it is governmental racism

by Amos Gvirtz*

Israel’s extreme right-wing government has led to the normalization of racism and hypocrisy. The gap between the government’s internal racism and its war against anti-Semitic racism abroad is obvious. What kind of moral blindness needs to exist not to see this? What kind of hypocrisy needs to exist to enable a prime minister, who conducts a policy of discrimination, persecution and incitement against the Arab minority in his own country, to so easily protest against anti-Semitic behavior directed against Jews in other countries? There, it’s a case of popular racism and the governments always come out against it.

In Israel, on the other hand, the most serious forms of racist-nationalism are those of the government against the Arab minority. (The popular forms of this racist-nationalism are secondary and much less dangerous.) A few examples will illustrate this:

  • the discrimination against the Arab minority in the state budget;
  • legislation which allowed the confiscation of most of the land of Palestinian Israeli citizens and which prevents them from using lands designated as state lands;
  • the avoidance of the creation of master plans for Palestinian-Arab communities, which forces them to build their homes illegally and then suffer home demolitions;
  • the avoidance of recognition of the Bedouin villages, which creates a situation where the entire population of these villages has no choice but to build illegally.

In the last year alone, more than 2,300 Bedouin houses were demolished in the Negev. In this context the law was amended to allow the government to issue fines to the victims of its demolition policy and thus to effectively force most of them to demolish their homes themselves (to avoid the fines).  

During
the current election campaign, the prime minister and other government
ministers have brought incitement against the Arabs and their political parties
to new heights. I’m certain that if any prime minister in the world dared to
incite against the Jewish minority in his country in this way the Israeli prime
minister, other ministers and the general population would protest against this
vehemently. But in Israel, if some celebrity dares to criticize this
incitement, she is publicly reproached by the prime minister and receives death
threats.

Israel is engaged in an ongoing war against the nation of its Palestinian-Arab citizens. This causes a fundamental problem in the relations between the state and its Arab minority. Instead of looking for ways to mitigate these tensions, the prime minister and other ministers aggravate them further, in the hope of some political gain. 


Amos Gvirtz is a founder of Israelis and Palestinians for Non-Violence, and has helped to found and lead numerous Israeli human-rights organizations. His book Don’t Say We Didn’t Know is available on Amazon.

The photo at the top shows PM Netanyahu and Michael Ben-Ari, a former Kahanist activist who’s now a leader of the Otzma Yehudit party, with which Netanyahu is allied in the current election campaign.

The post In Israel, it is governmental racism appeared first on Just World Educational.