“. . . And the remains of a forgotten village and a cross. . .” (Sami Al-Jundi)

The Golan Heights as seen from Tel Dan -- the site of the temple for the Northern Kingdom (Israel) after the split from the Southern Kingdom (Judah).
The Golan Heights as seen from Tel Dan — the site of the temple for the Northern Kingdom (Israel) after the split from the Southern Kingdom (Judah). (Photo: Harold Knight, 2008)

❶ From THE ELECTRONIC INTIFADA
CLAIMING TO PRESERVE JERUSALEM, ISRAELI ARCHAEOLOGISTS WRECK PALESTINIAN HERITAGE
Charlotte Silver
June 4, 2015
In an administrative building buried deep in the spaciously built suburbs of West Jerusalem, the latest phase of a long-standing struggle over a corner of land in the heart of the city concluded last week.
____Israel’s National Planning Committee has overseen an appeal by several bodies who oppose the further expansion of the powerful settler group Elad’s control over archaeological sites in Silwan, a congested Palestinian neighborhood located just meters away from al-Aqsa Mosque and the walls of the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem. With the blessing of the authorities, Elad plans to build a giant new visitors center on top of an excavation site.
____Elad (a Hebrew acronym for “To the City of David”) is a private organization that has become the de facto administrator of some of the most controversial archaeological sites in Jerusalem. Elad was founded in 1986 with the explicit goal of removing Palestinians from East Jerusalem and settling Jews in their place. . . .
____Last fall, under cover of night and flanked by police officers and private security guards, Elad moved dozens of Israeli settlers into 25 apartments in Silwan. The apartments were sold to a company registered abroad, but thought to be a disguised Elad, for between $1 million and $2 million.
(More. . .)

❷ From MA’AN NEWS AGENCY
ISRAELI MINISTER CALLS ON WORLD TO RECOGNISE GOLAN ANNEXATION
June 8, 2015
JERUSALEM (AFP) — A far-right Israeli minister on Sunday called for the international community to endorse his country’s 1981 annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights, where he called for increased Jewish settlement.
____”I call on the international community… to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan,” Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, said in a speech at a time of increasing world pressure on Israel over the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
____Bennett sees the sparsely-populated Golan as a very different case from the Palestinian territories and a vital buffer between Israel and the turmoil raging a few hundred meters (yards away) where the Syrian government has lost control of the border region to rebels.
____”I understand that there is a disagreement on Judaea and Samaria, what the world calls the West Bank. I understand that on this we shall agree to disagree,” he said.
____”But the Golan, to ban agricultural exports from the Golan? Where is the logic, where is your morality.”
(More. . .)

❸ From MA’AN NEWS AGENCY
ISRAEL SAYS CHINA DEMANDS NO WORKERS IN SETTLEMENTS
June 8, 2015
JERUSALEM (AFP) — China has told Israel it will not allow migrant builders to work on settlements in the occupied West Bank, a senior Israeli government official said on Monday.
____Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged during his reelection campaign to step up settlement construction, and cabinet ministers in his new government have called for more building in the occupied territories, which is seen as an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.
____And Israel is hoping to bring in thousands of foreign workers to accelerate the pace of the construction across the country and in the West Bank, media reported.
____”We are negotiating with China for an agreement on the arrival of thousands of additional workers,” the official told AFP, requesting anonymity.
____”For the moment, the talks are stumbling over several problems, including the employment of these immigrants in settlements in Judea and Samaria,” he said in reference to the occupied West Bank.
(More. . .)

Chinese construction workers building the Carmel Tunnel in Haifa, Israel, December 2007. (Photo by Doron Golan)
Chinese construction workers building the Carmel Tunnel in Haifa, Israel, December 2007. (Photo by Doron Golan)

❹ From MONDOWEISS
NETANYAHU UNDER SIEGE, IN ‘THE MOST EMBATTLED DEMOCRACY ON EARTH’
Philip Weiss
June 7, 2015
Over the weekend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has made two statements that demonstrate that a siege mentality has enveloped him due to the progress of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign (BDS).
____First, he issued a statement to the Sheldon Adelson “summit” in Las Vegas aimed at countering BDS to thank those gathered for allowing “young Jews to stand tall” for Israel, “the most embattled democracy on earth that seeks a genuine peace while fending off the forces of barbaric terrorism.” . . . .
____Then Netanyahu made a statement at the start of his Cabinet meeting this morning that seemed even more dire. Notice the Prime Minister’s grave gaunt demeanor in the video below as he begins by speaking of Hamas rockets and says the international community will not keep Israel from using “our full strength to uphold our right to defend ourselves.” Another attack on Gaza?
____He stated, “The spreading hypocrisy in the world will not tie our hands.”
____Then he says he is organizing an “offensive” effort against the BDS movement, which aims to delegitimize the Jewish state, not only in the settlements.
(More. . .)

❺ From PALESTINE NEWS & INFORMATION AGENCY – WAFA
TOP CZECH DIPLOMAT WARNS ISRAEL OF INEVITABLE INTERNATIONAL ISOLATION
K.F/M.H
RAMALLAH, June 8, 2015– A top Czech diplomat warned Israel of the inevitable international isolation as a result of its unrelenting racist policies and practices against Palestinians and the two-state solution.
____Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Lubomir Zaoralek was reported in Israeli and Czech media outlets as warning that if Israel continues to obstruct the two-state solution, it will suffer from international isolation and be accused racism, an accusation the Czech would not be able to deny.
____Zaoralek was reported in the Israeli news website Walla! as stating that Czech has been working to prevent any political move against Israel, however it has become increasingly difficult to do so under the current Israeli coalition government, which opposes the two-state solution.
____The Czech warned that the alternative to the two-state solution would be apartheid.
____“We want to avoid initiatives against Israel, but it gets more difficult with the current government and with the opposition against a two-state solution,’ the minister was reported as saying.
(More. . .)

“TAKE ME TO AL-QASTAL,” BY SAMI AL-JUNDI

There, in the cradle of yearning
Where the birds circle in cheerless skies
in the pine forests,
There rest the souls of the ancients
Did you ask the Swallow, my friend,
About Al-Qastal?

From a hill looking over Deir Yassin
Where love was first born
Thousands of years ago
Before the birth of Christ
Before the budding of jasmine
By the cradle of the goldfinch
Be sure to ask about Al-Qastal.

A deep valley
A mystifying magic and a nectar of secrets
A flock of pigeons and a nightingale
And the remains of a forgotten village and a cross
Ruins of a Babylonian minaret
There, where the moon is near
And our first concern is
Love and Al-Qastal.

Take me to Al-Qastal
Take me to the beautiful grave
Take me to my last home
And load me up with the tragedies of the Arabs
And all the fragrance of the ancestors
My home is the prettiest
My grave is the largest
My path is to Al-Qastal.
—Translated by Amal Eqeiq

About Sami Al-Jundi, author of The Hour of Sunlight: One Palestinian’s Journey from Prisoner to Peacemaker.
About Al-Qastal
From BEFORE THERE IS NOWHERE TO STAND: PALESTINE ISREL POETS RESPOND TO THE STRUGGLE. Ed. Joan Dobbie and Grace Beeler. Sandpoint ID: Lost Horse Press, 2012. Available from Amazon.

Pro-Israel philanthropist Adam Milstein (far right) with Sheldon and Miriam Adelson and Milstein’s wife, Gila. (Photo: Facebook/Adam Milstein)
Pro-Israel philanthropist Adam Milstein (far right) with Sheldon and Miriam Adelson and Milstein’s wife, Gila at anti-BDS summit in Las Vegas. (Photo: Facebook/Adam Milstein)

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