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Checkpoint Hassles

Salfit is a very beautiful part of Palestine in spite of all the sadness due to the huge Ariel settlement. Ariel, as well as many other smaller colonies and highways, have now managed to cut all the way across Salfit to the Jordan Valley. The northern West Bank has now been severed from the central West Bank. There are now four smaller, instead of three larger, Bantustans in the West Bank. In total, there are now five Palestinian Bantustans, if you include Gaza. Each is completely surrounded by Israeli checkpoints and with total Israeli control of air and sea space. If this is what is meant as the “Palestinian State” by Bush and Olmert, it is definitely not viable. 

We, Nahnu

Beginning Thursday evening the streets of Beirut were filled with anticipation. As with the night before the March 14th Coalition’s rally in Martyr’s Square after Pierre Gemayel’s assassination, cars full of Lebanese people flying various flags (national and party) outside of their windows cruised through the streets of Beirut honking and blasting music. The feel, at least from where I listened to this from my apartment, was of a small American town after the big Friday night football game. The following morning was one of intense traffic, bottlenecked because people were trying to get home or to work and so many of the streets in downtown Beirut were closed off and military installations were all over the city, including in my neighborhood, Hamra. 

Mounting crises in escalating chaos

The people of this region are being abandoned by the world to escalating chaos. The political crisis in Lebanon is a manifestation of this chaos, linked more broadly to the catastrophe in Iraq, and the butchery in Palestine. Despite empty gestures, fake goodwill and worn out slogans from a parade of prominent visitors to Jericho, Gaza and some regional capitals, there is no reason at all for hope. Hypocrisy and double standards have reached new levels of shamelessness. Members of the so-called “international community” refused to take any position on the inclusion in October of an openly fascist party in the Israeli government, on the grounds that this is a purely internal matter. 

Palestinian human rights advocates comment on UN official's visit

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (HCHR) recently visited Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), and has issued a follow-up statement on her visit. As human rights NGOs acting in the oPt, we welcomed her visit as a significant step towards the promotion and protection of human rights in the oPt. We were pleased that the visit gave visibility to the human rights conditions that we experience on the ground. Moreover, we also strongly supported the clear contention by HCHR that the rights of Palestinians and Israelis cannot be subject to negotiation and compromise, and that the many impediments facing the enjoyment of such entitlements must be removed. 

Still Occupied: Campaign draws attention to Gaza's plight

Calling to the international community to get mobilised and bring the Israeli occupation to an end, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights has launched an international campaign to demonstrate that the Gaza Strip remains under Israeli effective control despite its claims otherwise. The campaign comes one year after the completion of the Israeli Unilateral Disengagement from Gaza in September 2005. It aims to bring about more effective international public and government involvement in the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) in an effort to repair the consequences of prolonged infringements of international law. 

From Hamra to Dahye

Tonight I caught a tiny glimpse of the anger that the masses might express here in Lebanon. Tonight’s confluence of national forces in the main squares of downtown Beirut were complemented by spontaneous action in the neighborhoods. Gift in hand, a great dinner invitation from a host and hostess who live in Dahye, and looking foreward to a wonderful home cooked meal, I found myself in a taxi with a driver patiently, and kindly doing his utmost to maneuver the side streets of various neighborhoods to avoid a huge demonstration on one of the main highways between Dahye and downtown. Suddenly he pulled a political photo from under a pile of papers on the dash board and placed it on top, face-up, as we passed small cliques of men and teenagers, some holding wooden sticks as weapons. 

Children of the Second Intifada

An article was recently published reporting the shooting of two children inside a United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) school in one of Gaza’s refugee camps. Ahmed, a seven-year-old, was seated at his desk when a bullet penetrated his head just as the school day began. Despite my best efforts, I have been unable to determine if he survived. I became afraid for my little cousin, Sharif, a first grader at one of UNRWA’s schools in Rafah. While reading about Ahmed, my mind immediately reeled to Sharif, whom I had just spoken to on the phone a day earlier. He is always a highlight of my day. 

Ali Abunimah speaks about 'One Country' on CounterSpin

This week on CounterSpin: Politicians and pundits tend to agree that solving the Israel-Palestine conflict would go a long way towards achieving peace in the broader Middle East. But that’s more or less where the agreement ends. A new book by activist and frequent CounterSpin guest Ali Abunimah suggests a new path, one that is almost never discussed in the mainstream media. He will join us to talk about his new book One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. 

When prime ministers sound like Borat and the press lets it pass

At least twice in the past three weeks American journalists have neglected to ask hard questions of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Softball questions failed to pin down the prime minister on credible allegations of war crimes and human rights violations carried out in recent months by Israeli military forces. The Washington Post of Sunday, Nov. 12 published a Lally Weymouth interview with Olmert. Weymouth is infamous for never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity when it comes to tough questioning of an Israeli leader. This time proved no different. 

Nonviolent Resistance is not Illegal: Human Rights Watch Should Retract Statement

On Sunday, Nov. 19, hundreds of Palestinian civilians crowded into the building where the family of Mohammed Baroud and a number of other families live in Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Israeli military forces had warned that the building would be attacked. The planned Israeli attack was deterred by this action. Two hours later, the scene was replicated at the family home of Mohammed Nawajeh, with the same results. The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) applauds the people of Jabalya for their courageous and effective use of nonviolent resistance, and we express our full solidarity with their actions, which are positive initiatives in the struggle to defend Palestinian rights.