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Political change in the United States? As in Israel, just different faces


When the former Israeli prime minister Sharon, was taken to the hospital almost one year ago, and his successor Olmert invited Peretz to head the ministry of defence, political commentators made money once again with their articles in support of the powerful leaders. They foresaw an almost rosy future for Israel under the auspices of Peretz, “Peace Now” forerunner and notable Labour member who promised increases in social services and advances in negotiations with the Palestinians. None of the comments make the Israeli government less guilty of crimes against humanity and the commentators less accountable for their support of that government. Rumsfeld yesterday left the ministry of defence of a government as genocidal as Israel’s, but as happened with Sharon, this change, or the wider ones brought by elections, is insufficient to achieve justice. 

"Your heads will be on the stones" - Settler and military violence in South Hebron


“Your heads will be on the stones if you don’t leave this place”, threatened an Israeli settler from illegal outpost Havot Ma’on (Hill 833), to members of Christian Peacemaker Teams in the Palestinian village of At-Tuwani. Captured on video, but ignored by district Israeli police, the threat is part and parcel of daily life for Palestinians - and the reason for the continuous presence of international human rights workers here since 2004. A few days later, during a “routine check”, I witness my neighbor being physically abused by Israeli soldiers. Such abuse often ceases when soldiers become aware that internationals are present, filming their actions. 

Cultural diplomacy


It never crossed my mind during my undergraduate years in Princeton’s art history department that I would have the job that I do now, and frankly, it is a real conversation killer. I dread Sunday nights the most, when during the meet-and-greet time at the church that my husband and I attend in Washington, D.C., I tell people what I do. My explanation does not quite fit with the usual variations on the theme of “I moved up from the South and am working for Representative/Senator So-and-So.” When the question comes up, I take a deep breath and say, “I work for a Palestinian non-profit organization.” This is usually followed by a head snap from the person asking the question and a narrow-eyed “Hmmm, that’s in-ter-est-ing.” 

New Yorkers Resist the Apartheid Walls from Palestine to Mexico


On Saturday, November 11th, the Ad-Hoc Coalition for Justice in the Middle East and DRUM (Desis Rising Up & Moving) held a workshop in Manhattan highlighting the parallels between the wall on the US-Mexico border and the Apartheid Wall in Palestine. The workshop was immediately followed by a spirited march through Manhattan with protesters carrying a long black cloth “wall” as they snaked through the crowded New York City streets. Dena Qaddumi of the Ad Hoc Coalition introduced the workshop by noting that the event was being carried out in conjunction with the International Week Against the Apartheid Wall called by Stop the Wall: Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign. 

Lebanese activists: UN past time to disarm Israel


Following the recent massacre in Beit Hanoun, a group of citizens, united by sense of outrage at the silence of western and Arab governments, will be engaging in a four day hunger strike, outside of the UNIFIL office in Tyre in solidarity with the besieged people of Gaza. Nationalities participating include Lebanese, Palestinian, US, and Irish activists. The participants have worked for the past months in humanitarian and community projects in villages in the South. This symbolic hunger strike will take place from Tuesday 14th November till Friday 18th November 2006. We are choosing to be hungry in solidarity with those who have no choice. As a result of continual economic and military siege the majority of Palestinians now live in extreme poverty. 

UN expert urges Israel to stop destruction in Gaza, calls for military sanctions


As Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, I condemn in the strongest possible terms the artillery shelling of Palestinian homes by the Israeli defence force in Beit Hanoun that killed 19 innocent civilians and injured 60, including women and children. The explanation by Israeli authorities that this wantonly criminal act was a mistake is unacceptable. The shelling and subsequent killing of civilians indicates a premeditated military tactic constituting a form of collective punishment against the Palestinian people. Since 25 June 2006, the most recent Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip, I continue to receive alarming reports about deliberate attacks by Israeli forces… 

UNSC fails to adopt draft resolution, owing to US veto


The Security Council this afternoon failed to adopt a resolution condemning Israeli military operations in Gaza “which have caused loss of civilian life”, as well as Palestinian rocket fire into Israel, while calling for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip and a cessation of violence from both parties in the conflict. The draft, which was not adopted owing to the negative vote of the United States, a permanent Member of the Council, would have also requested Secretary-General Kofi Annan to establish a fact-finding mission within 30 days on the 8 November incident in Beit Hanoun, which resulted in the deaths of at least 18 civilians and sparked a day-long Council meeting on Thursday. 

South Africa seen as model for Palestine


As I watched the images last week of destruction from the Gaza Strip, where an Israeli shelling attack had killed an entire family, as a Palestinian I could understand the feelings of one survivor who said, “I cannot see a day when we will live in peace with them.” But I also know there is no other choice. or decades, the conventional wisdom has been that this conflict can only be resolved by partitioning the country into two states. Yet despite enormous efforts to achieve this, the two peoples remain thoroughly if unhappily intertwined. Israel’s project of establishing settler-colonies inside the territories where Palestinians wanted to create a state has rendered separation impossible. 

Arab Foreign Ministers criticize US veto on Gaza


Foreign ministers of 11 Arab countries attending an emergency Arab League meeting in Cairo on Sunday, criticised a United States veto of a United Nations Security Council draft resolution that condemned the recent Israeli offensive on Gaza and that would have demanded that Israeli troops pull out from the area. The draft resolution calling for the protection of civilians during Israeli military operations in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, was vetoed on Saturday by the US in a special meeting held here at the UN Security Council. Though language proposed by Qatar was modified first to placate other council members, the resolution still did not go through. Ten of the 15 members were in favour of the draft resolution, while four abstained, including the United Kingdom, Denmark, Japan and Slovakia. 

UN expert urges Israel to stop destruction in Gaza, calls for military sanctions


“As Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, I condemn in the strongest possible terms the artillery shelling of Palestinian homes by the Israeli defence force in Beit Hanoun that killed 19 innocent civilians and injured 60, including women and children. The explanation by Israeli authorities that this wantonly criminal act was a mistake is unacceptable. […] I urgently call for an international independent investigation of the events and the deployment of international forces in the region. I also urge the international community, in view of their human rights and humanitarian law obligations, to reconsider the continuation of military cooperation with Israel.”