A short break

From the blogger:

Since this blog is a one-person endeavor, I decided the time has come for a short break in the postings. I need a short respite from spending daily work the blog requires. I will return on January 2, 2017.

You can rest assured that if a major event develops in the news before then, I will post here about it.

Thank you.


“. . . the Bible includes stories of violence and genocide, resembling recent history . . .” (Leonard Marsh)

Ancient mosaics on a wall of the Church of the Nativity uncovered during restoration works by Italian experts at the site, Jul. 19, 2016. (Thomas Coex/AFP)

❶ . Palestinians celebrate Christmas Eve in Bethlehem

  • Background:  “Whose Holy Land?” Studies In World Christianity

❷ . Bethlehem: Nativity church with new shine
❸ . Israel besieges Bethlehem villages in search of stabbing suspect
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Ma’an News Agency 
Dec. 24, 2016 – Palestinians marked the occasion of Christmas Eve on Saturday morning in the southern occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem, which is traditionally held as the birthplace of Jesus Christ.
___A parade lead by the Latin Patriarch of Palestine, Jordan, and the Holy Land Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who is also the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem, are set to arrive in Bethlehem in the afternoon and will be officially received at the Nativity Church in Bethlehem’s Manger Square.     Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah are also expected to arrive in Bethlehem later Saturday to partake in Midnight Mass.    More . . .

  • Marsh, Leonard. “Whose Holy Land?” Studies In World Christianity 15.3 (2009): 276-286.   SOURCE.

[. . . .] . . . [Naim Ateek, a Palestinian Anglican Theologian] sees the 1967 war as a crucial moment in the history of the Israeli state. The occupation . . . was, according to him, attributed by a large percentage of Israelis and many Western Christians as ‘God’s powerful intervention on the side of Israel and against the Arabs’. Ateek realises that the Bible itself can and has been used as an ideological tool in asserting a religious basis for Zionism, originally a secular movement. For Palestinians, the Bible arguably has been used in a way to support injustice and inequality.       ___Understood in a literal way, the Bible appears to Palestinians to justify their enslavement and undermine their hopes for a national homeland. When Christians recite the ‘Benedictus,’ including the words ‘Blessed be the God of Israel,’ Ateek asks what this means. Which Israel is being referred to? What redemption is being promised, and to whom? One problem facing Palestinian Christian Theology simply is a matter of how the Bible itself is to be understood by Palestinian Christians.      [. . . .]  Former Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah . . .  noted we have to struggle in order to maintain and build peace with justice. Interpreting the Bible is a demanding task. Such interpretations concern our very national and personal identities as believers because unilateral, partial interpretations run the risk – for some – of bringing into question their presence and permanence in this land, which is their homeland. Questions to be addressed include, what is the relationship between the Old and New Testaments? The narrative of the Bible includes stories of violence and genocide, resembling recent history which may be attributed to God. How is this to be understood? What is the relationship between ancient Biblical history and contemporary history? Is Biblical Israel to be identified with the state of Israel? . . .  Does the Bible justify current political claims made on its behalf? Could we be victims of our own salvation history, which seems to favour the Jewish people and condemn others?        [. . . .] Mitri Raheb, pastor of the Bethlehem Christmas Lutheran Church . . .  has observed that until the middle of the nineteenth century, the Palestinian churches interpreted the Bible allegorically or typologically. This is no longer possible. The advent of Zionism has made the Old Testament a political text, and made the Bible problematic the moment the modern state of Israel was formed. He also has addressed the question of the Q’uran from an Arab Christian perspective. His intention is to have an understanding of Muslim scripture which would provide the basis for a Christian-Muslim relationship within contemporary Arab society [. . . .]

Deutsche Welle 
Dec. 23, 2016 – Every year at Christmas time, people from around the world head for the West Bank city of Bethlehem to visit the Church of the Nativity, where it is believed Jesus was born. This year the church shines more brightly than it has for centuries.
More (video) . . .           Related Video: Attacks cast shadow on Bethlehem Christmas    Background: The Restoration of the Church of Nativity

Christmas Lutheran Church, Bethlehem (Photo: Harold Knight, 2008)

Ma’an News Agency
Dec. 24, 2016 – Israeli forces continued to crackdown on Palestinian villages in the southern occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem on Saturday, in search for a man who allegedly stabbed and lightly injured a settler in the illegal Israeli settlement of Efrat southwest of Bethlehem Friday night.     [. . . . ]   There was a heavy presence of Israeli soldiers in several areas across Bethlehem that continued into Saturday morning, with reports of clashes erupting between Palestinians and Israeli forces overnight Friday.       More . . .  

A worker from the Piacenti restoration center works on a mosaic in the Church of the Nativity. (Photo: Jul. 14, 2016 Catholic News Service)

“. . . Any hope of peace in the future will just vanish . . .” (Saeb Erekat, Palestinian negotiator)

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat shake hands, Jan. 4, 2014, in Ramallah. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

❶ . PLO will revoke Israel recognition if US moves embassy, top official warns

  • Background: “Jerusalem In The Courts And On The Ground.” Florida Journal Of International Law

❷ . ‘Israel replaces one land theft with another,’ NGO says
❸ .  Father of slain Palestinian teen objects to plea deal with Israeli officer
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The Times of Israel
Dec. 20, 2016 – If the incoming Trump administration moves the US embassy to Jerusalem, the PLO will revoke its recognition of Israel, the prospect of a two-state solution will be over, and any hope of Israeli-Palestinian peace in the future will vanish, the top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat warned on Monday.
___Speaking on a conference call organized by the Wilson Center . . .   Erekat reeled off a list of what he said would be the consequences of President-elect Donald Trump honoring his campaign pledge and relocating the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
[. . . .]  Erekat noted that he held meetings last week in Washington with State Department officials, but failed to secure meetings he had sought with incoming Trump administration officials. “I don’t know any of them,” he said of Trump’s personnel.     More . . .

(Note: The following article is a detailed and documented history of the U.S. policy on the status of Jerusalem over the years. The sections quoted here present only a small part of the writing about the continually evolving realities “on the ground” of the status of Jerusalem.) 

  • Halabi, Sam F. “Jerusalem In The Courts And On The Ground.” Florida Journal Of International Law 26.2 (2014): 223-270.  (Sam F. Halabi is Associate Professor, University of Tulsa College of Law. J.D. Harvard, M.Phil. Oxford, B.A. Kansas State University.) FULL ARTICLE.

[. . . .] In 1967, Israel conquered all of Jerusalem and the West Bank, politically reunifying the city and obtaining control over the Temple Mount which it left under the stewardship of the Islamic waqf. It offered Israeli citizenship to Arabs living in Jerusalem in 1967, most of whom rejected the offer. They became so-called Jerusalem residents, neither citizens of Israel nor civilians subject to the same rules of occupation which applied to other Palestinian residents living in the West Bank.
___In 1980, Israel officially annexed East Jerusalem and the areas within the redrawn municipal boundary which included settlements built over the 1967 “Green Line.” The U.N. Security Council declared the “Jerusalem Law” null and void and a violation of international law. In 1993, Israel and the Palestinians agreed to settle the final status of Jerusalem and other matters by negotiation. U.S. Executive Branch policy from 1948 forward never recognized Israeli or Jordanian sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem. In 1949, when Israel announced its intention to convene its parliament’s first meeting in the part of Jerusalem it controlled, the United States refused to send a representative to attend, noting that the U.S. Government “cannot support any arrangement which would purport to authorize the establishment of Israeli . . . sovereignty over parts of the Jerusalem area.” The United States similarly opposed the Jordanian effort to declare East Jerusalem its “second” capital (after Amman) in 1950. The State Department established a formal diplomatic presence in Tel Aviv for relations with Israel and separate consular offices in Jerusalem. Arab and Jewish U.S. citizens born within Jerusalem’s 1948 municipal borders are designated as having been born in “Jerusalem” consistent with this non-recognition.
___Congress, however, became more active on the issue after the 1980 Jerusalem Law, both directly and indirectly seeking to have the city’s status as Israel’s capital formalized. Several U.S. Presidents, including Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and William Clinton, have stated that Jerusalem should remain united and its final status should be determined by negotiation, implying that Israelis and Palestinians might both establish recognized capitals there and further implying that U.S. policy disfavors separation of the type experienced between 1948 and 1967 [. . . .]

Days of Palestine
Dec. 19, 2016 – Israeli settlers of the illegal settlement of Amona in occupied West Bank agreed to move to another private Palestinian land, an Israeli NGO said.
___The Israeli Jewish settlers of Amona, which the Israeli High Court decided it be evacuated by December 25, agreed to a deal offered by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Education Minister Naftali Bennett.
___According to the new deal, adopted by the Israeli occupation government, the illegal Jewish settlers are going to move to another private Palestinian land on a hilltop nearby Amona.    
[. . . .]
Israeli rights group Peace Now said that the latest Israeli government compromise would see the relocation of 40 settler families to nearby land privately owned by Palestinians.
___“The Israeli government is replacing one land theft by another,” Peace Now said in a statement.      More . . .  

Israeli flags flying over confiscated Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem. (Photo: Harold Knight, Nov. 2015)


Ma’an News Agency
Dec. 20, 2016 – The father of a 17-year-old Palestinian who was shot dead . . .  in 2014 said he strongly objected to the plea deal being prepared for the Israeli border police officer who killed his son.
___Siyam Nuwarah told Ma’an Monday evening that he sent a letter to the Israeli Attorney General saying that his family was “extremely saddened” about the recently published reports regarding the Attorney General’s intent to sign a plea deal, in which the officer would receive a reduced sentence.
[. . . .]  Nadim Siyam Nuwarah was shot and killed with live ammunition in the chest during a protest rally marking the 66th anniversary of the Nakba on May 15, 2014. The incident was captured on video.     More . . .


“. . . “Our policy has been to attack civilians. The Palestinians must be hit and it must be very painful . . .” (Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, 2002)

Palestinian children play next the remains of their house on June 22, 2015 in Gaza City, destroyed during 50-day Israeli offensive in the summer of 2014 (AFP/Mahmud Hams, File)

❶ . UN makes $547 million appeal for humanitarian aid for Palestine
. . . ❶ ― (a) 257 Gaza families receive payments for reconstruction and repair works

  • Background: “Operation Cast Lead–Zion Fascism At Its Best.” South Asian Studies

❷ . Gaza electricity company accuses Israel of stalling power line repairs
❸ . The failed mass deportation of 1992
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Ma’an News Agency    
Dec. 19, 2016 ― The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Palestinian Authority (PA) announced on Monday a coordinated appeal to the international community for $547 million in humanitarian aid for the 2017.
___The more than half-a-billion dollar target sum would go toward the implementation of 243 projects undertaken by 95 organizations, including 47 national and 35 international NGOs, as well as 13 UN agencies, according to a joint press release from UNOCHA and the state of Palestine.
___Almost 70 percent of the $547 million in funds would be directed toward projects in the besieged Gaza Strip, where Palestinians “are facing their tenth year under a blockade that precludes any vestige of ‘normal life,’” UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities Robert Piper was quoted in the press release as saying.    More . . .
Palestine News and Information Agency – WAFA      
Dec. 19, 2016 ― The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has disbursed $1.8 million to 257 refugee families for the reconstruction and repair works activities in the Gaza Strip, an UNRWA press release said on Monday.     ___“Emergency shelter – including support for home repairs, reconstruction and interim shelter solutions – is a top priority for UNRWA,” stressed the release.
[. . . .] Tens of thousands of homes were destroyed or damaged during Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza.       More . . .  

  • Javaid, Umbreen, and Maliha Shamim. (University of Punjab, Lahore.) “Operation Cast Lead–Zion Fascism At Its Best.” South Asian Studies (1026-678X) 29.2 (2014): 691-700.  ARTICLE.  (Note: this article concerns the 2010 siege of Gaza, but it is obviously applicable to the 2014 siege as well). 

[. . . .] As religion is a necessary element of Israeli government and administration constituting the Israeli state, democracy is acceptable only as long as it operates within Zionist framework. Israel’s policy has always been to not only occupy Palestinian territories but to populate them with Jews. Many of the occupied territories were home to Jewish populations in the recent past hence populating the West Bank sites is not settlement but a return to their original land.
[. . . .]  Israel claimed the Gaza attacks as its right of self-defense but in fact Israel provided the provocation through her own violation. . .  Pro-Zionist western leaders and powers were united in their unflinching support to Israel. . . .  President Bush in a blatant show of uncritical support said, “Hamas’s continued rocket attacks into Israel must cease if the violence is to stop. Hamas must end its terrorist activities if it wishes to play a role in the future of the Palestinian people.”
[. . . .]  The bombardment on Gaza considered the bloodiest in all Israel’s history moved even Israel’s leading human rights organization B’Tselem which said that the Israel army was intentionally targeting what appeared to be clear civilian objects that are not engrossed in military action against Israel. . . .  Gideon Levy said, “once again Israel’s violent responses, even if there is justification for them, exceed all proportion and cross every red line of humanness, morally, international law and wisdom.”
[. . . .]  . . .  while claiming to act in self-defense Israel used all banned weaponry to incinerate people. “Our policy has been to attack civilians. The Palestinians must be hit and it must be very painful: we must cause them losses, victims, so they feel the heavy price,” said former Israeli Prime Minister and war criminal Ariel Sharon in 2002. The principle of Israeli army is: “if you continue killing Palestinian civilians for long enough, the world will accept it.”
[. . . .] The influence of religion on the political process is increasing day by day in modern Israel. Instead of prohibiting or simply interfering in religiously motivated activities the Israeli government actively supports and encourages them. . . .  Israel and its leaders do not want peace as it is not in their interests. A peaceful solution of Palestine problem would end the problem itself which is not acceptable to Israel. Israeli society today is the most extremist and racist with Israel treading on the path of ethnic cleansing and murder of Palestinians.

Ma’an News Agency
Dec. 19, 2016 ― The Gaza Strip’s electricity company accused Israel on Sunday of pushing off repairs on the “Baghdad” power line which has been damaged for four days, worsening the already dire electricity situation in the besieged Palestinian territory.     ___Gaza’s power company called upon the Palestinian Authority to pressure Israel to respond to the Gaza Strip’s electricity needs and repair the damaged line as soon as possible.     ___The company added that the recurrent disrepair of many Israeli electricity lines worsened the power crisis in Gaza and severely impacted the electricity distribution schedule. More . . .

Deported detainees in Marj al-Zuhour (Meadow of Flowers) tent city, Lebanon, 1992.(Photo: Islamic Resistance Movement, http://hamas.ps/en/post/487)

❸ . THE  FAILED  MASS  DEPORTATION  OF  1992         
Gaza.Scoop.ps – Real Time News From Gaza
Dec. 18, 2016 ― On the 17th of December 1992, under the cover of darkness, the Israeli occupation forces raided the houses of hundreds of Palestinian leaders and activists from the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Academics, doctors and social figures were among 415 Palestinians whom the Israelis kidnapped, handcuffed, blindfolded and placed in trucks and buses that headed to a destination unknown to them or their families.
___The raids, which mainly targeted members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, followed failed Israeli attempts to rescue Nissim Toledano, an Israeli Sergeant who was captured earlier by al-Qassam Brigades in a bid to release Hamas leader and founder Shiekh Ahmed Yassin.     ___Contrary to the expectations of the detainees, the 60-hour-long trip did not end up at one of Israel’s notorious prisons. They were instead being exiled to south Lebanon in an unprecedented mass deportation that was executed without a hearing or even prior notification.      More . . .

“. . . Mr. Friedman has been a pioneer philanthropist and builder of Jewish institutions and housing projects in Judea and Samaria . . .” (Baruch Gordon)

View of Ramallah from Beit-El, with the buffers between the two. The first building with the red roof on the right hand side of the photo next to a parking lot with cars is the PA Ministry of Health. Nov. 1, 2010 (Photo by Rhonda Spivak)

(Note: please see Towering Trump blog for more information on Friedman’s association with and ideas about Israel.)

❶ . US President-elect Donald Trump donated $10,000 to Beit El in the West Bank in 2003
❷ . Group  [Friends of Beit El Settlement]  headed by Trump’s Israel envoy pick sued for war crimes
❸ . Beit El Institutions expresses its warmest blessings to David Friedman in his new position
❹ . Molotov cocktails burn down house in illegal settlement of Beit El in Palestine
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Jerusalem Post Israel News‎ 
Dec. 18, 2016 – US President-elect Donald Trump donated $10,000 to Beit El in the West Bank in 2003, according to documents uncovered by The Jerusalem Post Sunday.
___A Trump Foundation tax form from 2003 shows Trump gave the sum to American Friends of Beit El. Other Jewish organizations the Trump Foundation donated to that year are UJA-Federation, American Jewish Committee and American Jewish Historical Society.   [. . . .]  A decade later, Trump’s choice for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, would become president of the organization, which is the settlement’s fund-raising operation, bringing in about $2 million annually.      More . . .
The Electronic Intifada
Ali Abunimah
Dec. 16, 2016 – President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for US ambassador to Israel is the head of an organization that is being sued by Palestinians for its role in the theft of their land for settlements and other Israeli war crimes.
___Announcing the nomination, the Trump transition team said that David Friedman would serve from Jerusalem . . . the new administration intends to move the US embassy to the city from its current location in Tel Aviv.
___Friedman is being described as “more extreme” even than the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
[. . . .]    Friedman is president of American Friends of Bet El Yeshiva Center, a nonprofit organization that raises about $2 million a year, mostly for the Beit El settlement, north of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.
[. . . .]  ___The lawsuit argues that directly supporting Israeli settlements with tax-exempt charitable funds amounts to money laundering and tax fraud and aids and abets crimes including theft of Palestinian property, home demolitions, maiming, murder, ethnic cleansing and even genocide.       More . . . 

A view of the Israeli settlement of Beit El with the neighboring Palestinian city of Ramallah in the background. (Photo: Michael Omer-Man)

❸ . From  American  Friends  of  Bet  El  Yeshiva  Center’s  Facebook  Page
BET  EL  INSTITUTIONS  EXPRESSES ITS WARMEST BLESSINGS TO DAVID FRIEDMAN IN HIS NEW POSITION as US Amb to Israel. In his position as President of Bet El Institutions, Mr. Friedman has been a pioneer philanthropist and builder of Jewish institutions and housing projects in Judea and Samaria (AKA the West Bank) and throughout the country. His vital and valorous role in the rebuilding of Israel has earned him the trust and respect of the Israeli People, a key factor which will enable him to best fulfill his duties in representing US interests in Israel. Bet El Institutions is proud to be closely associated with Mr. Friedman and wishes him much success in strengthening the historic ties between the United States and the state of Israel.     -Baruch Gordon, Director of Development for Bet El Institutions and IsraelNationalNews.com.          More . .
Al Bawaba News
Nov. 12, 2016 – An Israeli home in the illegal Beit El settlement, located in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah and al-Bireh, was left completely burned down late Thursday night after a group of Palestinian youth threw Molotov cocktails into the settlement, according to Palestinian sources.
___According to locals, several youths threw the Molotov cocktails at the house, which was located on the outskirts of the settlement. The house then caught on fire and burned to the ground.   More . . .
Israeli soldiers open fire on Palestinians near [Beit El] settlement, hitting one, Israeli media says   Ma’an News Agency   Oct. 23, 2016    More . . .  
Settlement buildings bulldozed in Israel [Beit El Settlement], but Netanyuhu calls for more construction   Los Angeles Times      Jul. 29, 2015    More . . .
Israel to build 800 new housing units in West Bank   
The Middle East Monitor – MEMO    July 30, 2015    More . . .  
PA slams plans for 90 new homes in Beit El settlement   Jerusalem Post    Feb. 11, 2013
More . . .  

“. . . to locate Palestinians within multiple spaces of dispossession and oppression, imprisonment and separation continually remade . . .” (Annie Pfingst)

Israeli forces disperse weekly march against Israeli occupation in Bilin, Nov. 25, 2016 (Photo: Ma’an News Agency)

❶ . Funerals held for slain Palestinians draw large crowds, spark clashes in Beit Ummar

  • Background: “Militarised Violence In The Service Of State-Imposed Emergencies Over Palestine And Kenya.” Cosmopolitan Civil Societies: An Interdisciplinary Journal

❷ . Israeli forces shoot tear gas, rubber bullets at protesters in Kafr Qaddum
❸ . Israeli forces suppress weekly Bilin march, dozens suffer tear gas inhalation
❹ . Opinion/Analysis:  Legacies of State Violence and Black-Palestinian Solidarity
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Ma’an News Agency 
Dec. 17, 2016       After Israel returned on Friday the bodies of seven Palestinians that were killed by Israeli forces in recent months, funerals held in their hometowns across the occupied West Bank drew large crowds, with clashes erupting in Beit Ummar during the Saturday morning funeral for 15-year-year old Khalid Bahr.
[. . . .]  Israeli forces killed the 15-year-old boy on Oct. 20 in the village, when Israeli authorities claimed a soldier shot Khalid for throwing rocks at Israeli forces. An internal Israeli army investigation later revealed that the lives of Israeli soldiers were not at risk when Khalid was killed.
___Following Khalid’s funeral, clashes erupted between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces at the entrance of Beit Ummar.     More . . .  

  • Pfingst, Annie. “Militarised Violence In The Service Of State-Imposed Emergencies Over Palestine And Kenya.” Cosmopolitan Civil Societies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 6.3 (2014): 6-37.   ARTICLE.

[. . . .] Legal provisions based on racial separation/segregation . . .   continue to be applied by Israel over Palestine. Having detained and deported Arabs during the Arab uprising of the 1930s . . . .  on the 21st May 1948, [Israel] declared a state of emergency over Palestine, only days after the declaration of the establishment of the Israeli state on the lands, villages and cities lost to Palestinians through the war of 1948, al Nakba. The state of emergency – promulgated for the defence of the state, the maintenance of public order, supplies and essential services, and the suppression of mutiny, rebellion, or riot – has been renewed in the Israeli Knesset every year since 1948. In 2012 the Supreme Court [ruled that] that (Israel) ‘is not a normal country in that its existential threats have yet to be quelled.’
[. . . .]  The . . .  practices enabled through Emergency regulations are intensified forms of instrumentalised colonial governmentality and violence, part of the structure of settler colonialism – of settlement, dispossession, repression, expulsion and containment . . .  unquestioned by either the colonial administration or the settlement project. The state of emergency as an oppressive regime is characterised by surveillance, arrest and detention, screening, secret evidence and torture, and the workings of secret services and militarised violence – characteristics evident in Israeli daily practices over Palestine . . .
[. . . .]  The British Mandate over Palestine introduced land mapping, registration and appropriation; laws on citizenship and collective and individual rights; mapped state borders and movement; and constructed settlement practices and militarized landscapes of control. The assemblage of Israel over Palestine is always in flux, continuing to locate Palestinians within multiple spaces of dispossession and oppression, imprisonment and separation continually remade, constantly assembling spatial arrangements across fluid zones of militarized control. Spatial disintegration and fragmentation . . .   assemble landscapes of emergency and re-assemble multiple geographies of resistance. Every location becomes the site for the confrontation between the agency of resistance and the agents of sovereign power and control [. . . .]

Ma’an News Agency 
Dec. 16, 2016       Israeli forces Friday suppressed a weekly march in the village of Kafr Qaddum in the occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya, shooting rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters at tens of Palestinians, internationals, and Israeli peace activists.
___Popular resistance coordinator Murad Shteiwi told Ma’an that Israeli forces attacked the protesters and fired tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets at the crowd, causing many to suffer tear gas inhalation.
___Shteiwi added that the protest was launched with wide participation of the village’s local residents and internationals, despite the cold weather and rain on Friday.  More . . .

People of Kafr Qaddum gathering for the weekly demonstration. Jun. 29, 2012. (Photo: T. Mayr)

Ma’an News Agency
Dec. 16, 2016       Israeli forces Friday suppressed a weekly march in the village of Bilin in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, as dozens of demonstrators suffered tear gas inhalation and Israeli forces briefly held an Australian solidarity protester.      ___The march, which was organized by the popular committee against the separation wall, set off after Friday prayers, as protesters marched through the village, chanting slogans calling for Palestinians to support Jerusalem, urged for the immediate release of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners Anas Shadid and Ahmad Abu Farah, and the withdrawal of Israeli settlers from the illegal Amona settler outpost.       More . . .           Related . . .

The Jerusalem Fund. 
Jada Bullen and Marie Helmy
Dec. 16, 2016   In the wake of Trump’s victory, the world waits with trepidation for what 2017 will bring to U.S. domestic and foreign policy. The future is uncertain for Palestinians and Black Americans, whose parallel struggles have become increasingly highlighted in the last few years.
___Four weeks into Israel’s attacks on Gaza in 2014, protesters in Ferguson held signs claiming solidarity with Palestine. In turn, Palestinians took to Twitter to advise Ferguson protesters on how to deal with tear gas, underscoring the similarities in their struggles. This past August, the Movement 4 Black Lives published a platform stance that calls for the U.S. to cut military expenditures in Israel and explicitly demands divestment from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation. Such acts of solidarity have made vital inroads. But now with Trump at the helm, we have yet to see how this will deter the progress we have collectively made in altering the discourse.        More . . .

“. . . The Palestinian home space is saturated with individual and collective cultural and political meanings . . .” (Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian)

Homes of Palestinian village of Lifta, abandoned in the Nakba, 1948 (Photo: Harold Knight, Nov. 2015)

❶ . Israeli forces threaten East Jerusalem home with demolition
. . . ❶― (a) Israeli forces shoot Palestinian activist with rubber-coated steel bullet for taking photos

  • Background:  “Exiled At Home: Writing Return And The Palestinian Home.” Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly.

❷ . Israeli Soldiers Assault A Palestinian Woman After Invading Her Home In Hebron
❸ . Israeli forces take over Palestinian home in Hebron
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Ma’an News Agency    
Dec. 13, 2016       Israeli Jerusalem Municipality crews on Monday evening raided the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Issawiya and delivered a demolition notice to a Palestinian family, local sources said.
___Iyad Mahmoud told Ma’an that municipality crews, accompanied by armed Israeli forces, broke into his four-story family building and delivered a demolition notice for the top two floors of the building.
___According to Iyad, it wasn’t the first time municipality inspectors have threatened the family with demolition.      More . . .  
Ma’an News Agency     
Dec. 13, 2016      Israeli forces on Monday evening shot a Palestinian activist in the leg with a rubber-coated steel bullet during a raid in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Issawiya while he was attempting to take photos and video footage in the neighborhood, according to a local committee.
___Members of a local follow-up committee in al-Issawiya told Ma’an that committee member Muhammad Abu al-Hummus was “documenting Israeli violations and provocations” when . . . [a soldier] shot a rubber-coated steel bullet at Abu al-Hummus from an approximate distance of 25 meters, hitting him in the leg.
___Prior to the shooting, Israeli forces and police officers had stormed the town and deployed in its alleys “in a provocative manner”. . .       More . . .

  • Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Nadera, and Sarah Ihmoud. “Exiled At Home: Writing Return And The Palestinian Home.” Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly 37.2 (2014): 377-397.   ARTICLE.

In occupied East Jerusalem . . . and throughout historical Palestine, the Palestinian home space is under constant attack. Whether through military invasions of the home space during child arrest, evictions from and theft of homes of Palestinian families by settlers orchestrated by the settler colonial regime, home demolitions, revocations of IDs, construction of the apartheid wall, or a myriad of other means, Zionist attacks on the Palestinian home space are  Inseparable from attacks on the homeland.
[. . . .]  The ongoing militarization, invasion, and destruction of the Palestinian home space are understood as a central aspect of the Zionist project’s erasure of Palestinian history and memory, but also the dislocation of Palestinian familial and communal life. . . .Space is imbued with cultural meaning, and cultural practices are lived in the spatialized locations of the everyday. The Palestinian home space is saturated with individual and collective, cultural and political meanings. As Fatma Kassem notes, for Palestinians, home is “the one place where history and memory are transmitted, thereby preserving the continuity of cultural and national identity.” As such, Israeli settler colonialism’s destruction of the Palestinian home space as an element of inscribing geopolitical, biopolitical, and necropolitical power on everyday life is strategic in disrupting the geographies of Palestinian social relations and the formation of cultural and political identities.
[. . . .]  The ruins of my unfinished family house in Turmos ‘Ayya, the painful realization of losing a home I never knew I could have possessed in Palestine, haunt me to this day. They point to the wide-ranging effects of settler colonial violence on the Palestinian diaspora. My ability to have a childhood and a future in Palestine, a Palestinian identity based in the homeland, was uprooted even before my birth, and replaced by the settlers in Shiloh who set fire to my family’s foundations, while they claim a secure, protected, home space and identity on my ancestors’ land. Yet, coming to terms with these ruins, both physical and psychological, has also been a healing process. They inspire my desire to rebuild a home space in Palestine, to learn the stories of my people, to keep on returning, and as a politically engaged anthropologist, to tell my stories and to write against terror.

International Middle East Media Center – IMEMC    
Dec. 12, 2016       Many Israeli soldiers invaded, on Sunday at night, a Palestinian home in Shiokh town, northeast of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, and assaulted an elderly woman while violently searching and ransacking her home.
___Journalist Ahmad Halayqa said several army vehicles invaded Shiokh, before the soldiers broke into the home of Hajj Ahmad Ali ‘Ayayda, and violently searched and ransacked the property, causing excessive damage.
___Halayqa added that the soldiers also used military dogs during the search, and repeatedly assaulted ‘Ayayda’s wife, especially in her chest, after she objected to their violent invasion and ransacking of her home.       More . . .  

Hebron woman preparing to climb ladder into the back window of her home because the Israelis have permanently blocked access to her front door to make the street “settlers only” (Photo: Harold Knight, Nov. 2015)

Ma’an News Agency     
Dec. 13, 2016        Israeli forces took over a home in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron Monday evening and turned it into a military barrack, after confining the family into a single room in the house, local sources said.
___In a phone call to Ma’an, owner of the home Munthir al-Junaydi told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided his house, which is located in the Numrah area of Hebron, and turned into a military post.
___He said Israeli soldiers arrived at their house at 6 p.m., and have since had them corralled inside one room and prevented them from leaving.
___It is also not uncommon for Israeli forces to forcibly evict Palestinians from their homes for the use of military posts, or lock residents inside their own homes while conducting military operations.     More . . .

“. . .what lightens your darkness? . . .” (Munther Isaac)

Representatives from the Town Twinning Association Cologne-Bethlehem gaze at “Dream Portrait” by artist Johnny Issa Andonieh– October 25th, 2015 (Photo: Museum Web Site) https://bethlehemmuseum.com/the-cologne-bethlehem-town-twinning-associations-first-visit-to-the-bethlehem-museum/

❶ . ‘An atmosphere of fear’: Increased Israeli army operations worry Aida refugee camp [Bethlehem district]
. . . ❶― (a) Israeli forces injure 4 Palestinian youths in Duheisha camp [Bethlehem district] clashes

  • Background: “The Palestinian Refugee Camps: The Promise Of ‘Ruin’ And ‘Loss’.” Rethinking History

❷ . Israel approves 770 new settlement units in Gilo settlement, northern Bethlehem
❸ . Artist of the Month. Johnny Issa Andonieh: Iconographer from Bethlehem
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Ma’an News Agency
Chloe Benoist
Dec. 11, 2016      On a chilly Monday afternoon, a group of four Israeli soldiers were stationed on the balcony of what is known to locals as the Cola building in Aida refugee camp’s cemetery, weapons pointed at a group of five Palestinian boys, none older than 11, who were peeking from around a street corner some 50 meters away.
___The scene has become a familiar one in the occupied West Bank refugee camp, as the Israeli army has escalated military procedures in Aida over the past several months, creating what some residents have called a perpetual “atmosphere of fear.”
Note:  Chloé Benoist is a journalist based in Bethlehem since January 2016, after graduating from the    American University of Beirut with a master’s in political science in June 2014
More . . .         Related:  Aida Camp

Graffiti on the Apartheid Wall, Bethlehem (Photo: Harold Knight, Nov. 2015) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjQDl95tOcU

Ma’an News Agency 
Dec. 12, 2016   Four young Palestinian men were shot and injured during clashes with Israeli forces who stormed the al-Duheisha refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem early on Monday morning.
___Locals told Ma’an that Israeli military vehicles raided the camp from three directions and troops stormed several neighborhoods before young men responded by throwing stones and empty bottles at the soldiers.      More . . .        Related:  Duheisha Camp

  • Abreek-Zubiedat, Fatina. “The Palestinian Refugee Camps: The Promise Of ‘Ruin’ And ‘Loss’.” Rethinking History 19.1 (2015): 72-94.   SOURCE.

According to the political theorist Hannah Arendt, a ‘refugee’ is a ‘stateless’ or ‘non-citizen’ person who threatens the nation-state system. Consequently, countries have acknowledged the need for a solution to the refugee problem, whose status is considered temporary, with two possible options: return to the homeland or country of origin, or naturalization in the host country. Historically, both solutions have failed (Arendt, Hannah. The Origins of Totalitarianism. 1966, 280–283). Arendt views the refugee camp as a ‘final solution’ involving the incarceration of refugees after denying their citizenship. Only then do they become homo sacer in the sense implied by ancient Roman law: destined to die, with their life defined as ‘bare.’

Palestine News Network – PNN
Dec. 7, 2016  The Israeli “Construction and Planning Committee” of the Jerusalem City Council on Wednesday approved 770 new settlement units in the illegal settlement of Gilo, northern Bethlehem, which Israel is attempting to annex.
___According to IMEMC, the approval comes as part of 20 new settlement projects in the Occupied West Bank, which also include tourist and commercial buildings, on approximately 142.846 Dunams of lands, while the constructions themselves will occupy around 98.927 square/meters.       More . . . 
This Week In Palestine
December, 2016  Johnny Issa Andonieh was born in Bethlehem in 1957. Interested in theology and monastic life since his youth, Johnny was introduced to iconography while in his thirties by a monk who lived at Mar Saba Monastery, located on the edge of the Kidron Valley (Wadi Nar) in the Jerusalem Wilderness. Since that time, Johnny has dedicated himself to writing icons. Between 1990 and 1992, he studied Byzantine and Russian methods of iconography in Cyprus, working in several churches with Greek and Cypriot iconographers.   
More . . .
        Related:  Bethlehem Museum
“O Little Town of Bethlehem.” Words by Munther Isaac. Sung by the Bethlehem Bible College Choir.

“. . . This special relationship with native lands is critical to formulating the status and rights . . .” (Yousef Jabareen)

Wall and church, Acre (Photo source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Akko_Walls_%26_Church.jpg ― Arkadi voller)

❶ . Israel is keen to evict Palestinians of Acre

  • Background: “The Arab-Palestinian Community In Israel: A Test Case For Collective Rights Under International Law.” George Washington International Law Review

❷ . Israeli forces deliver 13 demolition notices to Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem
❸ . East Jerusalem: Israeli Strategy Explored in New Video
❹ . West Bank demolitions displace 1,500 Palestinians in 2016
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Days of Palestine
Dec 10, 2016
Jenny Nyman
Palestinians of the Old City of Acre in northern Israel face continuous, intensifying struggle against Israeli displacement plans.
___As the Palestinian identity and heritage of the Old City are gradually obscured, local residents are forced to leave in order to make way for wealthy investors and tourism projects.
___Located on the Mediterranean coast in northern Israel, the port city of Acre is one of the oldest in the region, with evidence of continuous settlement dating back as far as 4,000 years.
___Due to its rich history, combining Arab, Crusader and Ottoman heritage, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001.   More. . .        Heritage site . . . 
Related: Shoval, Noam. “Street-Naming, Tourism Development And Cultural Conflict: The Case Of The Old City Of Acre/Akko/Akka.” Transactions Of The Institute Of British Geographers 38.4 (2013): 612-626.  Article . . .

  • JABAREEN, YOUSEF T. “The Arab-Palestinian Community In Israel: A Test Case For Collective Rights Under International Law.” George Washington International Law Review 47.3 (2015): 449-480.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 13 September, 2007

[. . . .] Palestinians currently living in historical Palestine . . . live under three different legal and political systems. These groups are: (1) stateless Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza under a mixture of Israeli military rule and self-rule; (2) Palestinian Jerusalemites, or Palestinian residents of Israeli-occupied and annexed East Jerusalem; and (3) Palestinians living in Israel—minority citizens in Israel since the 1948 war. . . .
___Arab-Palestinians . . .  have consistently resided in three main geographical areas within Israel: the Galilee and Triangle regions in the north and center of the country and the Naqab in the south. . . in about seventy towns and villages, which are entirely Arab; the remainder reside in several mixed Arab-Jewish cities, primarily Haifa, Acre, al-Led, Ramleh, and Tel Aviv-Jaffa. Legally, Israel defines itself as a “Jewish and democratic” state. However, nearly one-fifth of Israel’s citizens belong to the Palestinian national group, with their own ethnic, cultural, religious, and linguistic characteristics.
[. . . .] the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. . . supports . . . preservation and development of the groups’ identity, political participation, the right to autonomy and self-definition, and historical rights. . . . [It] emphasizes the additional need for land rights and similar historical rights. This parallels one of the defining features of indigenous peoples, as opposed to other minorities, in their connection to specific geographic regions. Indeed, they may view their indigenousness through their historical relationship with and attachment to these lands. . . . This special relationship with native lands is critical to formulating the status and rights of such groups, from both a moral and international legal perspective . . . .
___In addition, land use and the right to such lands . . .  are often prerequisites for the fulfillment of other rights including those of a cultural or religious nature. Therefore, one of the key factors motivating indigenous groups to fight for land rights and to gain access to traditional lands is to enable full realization of their group-based rights.
[. . . .] Land rights, as conceptualized by the 2007 Declaration, are closely intertwined with historical rights, past grievances, past compensation, redress, and restorative justice. Accordingly, land is the primary vehicle for addressing all of these issues . . .
[. . . .]  One of the defining features of indigenous peoples, as opposed to other minorities such as immigrants, is their connection to a specific geographic area . . .

Ma’an News Agency  
Dec. 10, 2016
Israeli Jerusalem municipality crews escorted by armed Israeli forces raided the al-Bustan neighborhood of the village of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem on Friday and delivered 13 demolition notices for several residential structures.
___Activist and member of the Committee for the Defense of Silwan Properties Fakhri Abu Diyab told Ma’an that municipality crews handed 13 demolition notices to several families in al-Bustan neighborhood.
___Abu Diyab noted that the houses slated for demolition were built tens of years ago, and are home to more than 100 Palestinians, including women and children.  More . . .

Al-Jazzar Mosque, Old City and fortified Town of Acre (Photo: UNESCO Heritage Site web page)

International Middle East Media Center – IMEMC
Dec. 11, 2016
A new video released by the Negotiations Affairs Department, titled “East Jerusalem: Israel’s Colonial Project Unraveled,” declares that Israel’s policy in the city, since the 1967 occupation, is three fold: creating a Jewish majority, reducing Palestinian presence and isolating East Jerusalem and dividing it from its West Bank parts.
___According to WAFA, the 2:43-minute documentary describes the policy as one of “special colonial segregation enforced by Israel’s settlement enterprise.”   More . . .
+972 Magazine      
Natasha Roth
Dec. 10, 2016
Israel ramped up its practice of demolishing Palestinian structures in the West Bank this year, destroying more than twice as many as it did in 2015.      More . . .  


“Israelis cannot generally understand that hurting a national minority under their control . . . will damage the very essence of Israel’s social fabric . . .” (Meir Margalit)

United Nations Human Rights Day,   December 10, 2016  

Stand up for someone’s rights today!    

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.

230 Palestinian children still kept in Israeli jails
A Palestinian child being brutally detained by Israeli occupation forces, Apr. 5, 2014 (Al-Alam News Network file photo)

❶ . European missions criticize Israel’s administrative detention policy against Palestinians

  • Background:  “Seeking A True Human Rights Agenda.” Palestine-Israel Journal Of Politics, Economics & Culture

❷ . Israeli forces detain Palestinian youth allegedly crossing Gaza border with weapons

❸ . Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP)
Stop Israeli Military Detention―SIGN THE PETITION

❹ . Video and pictures: Preventing the body of a Jerusalemite woman from being buried in Al-Rahmeh Gate Cemetery…and arresting two of her grandchildren
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Palestine News and Information Agency – WAFA
Dec. 10, 2016
The European Union (EU) Representative, the EU Heads of Mission and the Heads of Mission of Switzerland and Norway in Jerusalem and Ramallah Friday expressed concern regarding Israel’s excessive use of administrative detention against Palestinians.     ___“The Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah reiterate their longstanding concern about the extensive use by Israel of administrative detention without formal charge,” they said in a statement.     More . . .

  • Margalit, Meir. “Seeking A True Human Rights Agenda.” Palestine-Israel Journal Of Politics, Economics & Culture 16.2 (2010): 1-6.  ARTICLE.

[. . . .]  Indeed, one difficulty in explaining why people must respect human rights lies in its being not a question of a “need” but of a “value” . . . . Decisions based on values are unconnected to physical and material needs. They are tenuous and, in times of crisis, are the first to vanish. This rule is true of countries with a deeprooted democratic tradition, such as the United States and the United Kingdom after the 9/11 attacks. It is even truer of Israeli society where, since 1967, values have been eroding constantly. Israeli society has developed a mechanism for repressing values that clash with what takes place in the territories . . . The process of denial, which is necessary to preserve the collective mental health, leads to the total disregard of decisions based on values or the debate on questions of human rights.
[. . . .] Because the human rights discourse is identified with the left wing, it has a strong impact on the attitude of alienation that much of Israeli society experiences. In the public imagination, people working for human rights are perceived to be chiefly concerned about Arabs, or homosexuals, or “haters of Israel,” if not worse. . . . Every human rights activist encounters the defiant question, “Why don’t you worry about Jews instead of worrying about Arabs?” — a question with an inherent assumption that concern for human rights undermines Israel’s position. As a result, most of the public shuns the subject.
[. . . .]  Israelis cannot generally understand that hurting a national minority under their control leads to a downhill path which, sooner or later, will damage the very essence of Israel’s social fabric. Perhaps this is because most Israelis were born into a society where their basic human rights were assured and are unaware of the fragility and ease with which they can dissipate and lead a country into dark, undesirable situations. Most Israelis are conformist.   [. . . .]

Ma’an News Agency
Dec. 9, 2016
Israeli forces Friday at dawn detained a Palestinian youth after allegedly “illegally” crossing the border barriers in the northern Gaza Strip, according to Israeli media.     ___Several Israeli news outlets claimed that the Palestinian youth was carrying a knife and a grenade when he was detained and taken to interrogation.
___Separately, Israeli forces reportedly detained a Palestinian youth after approaching the Ofer military camp west of Ramallah City in the central occupied West Bank on Thursday.
___Israeli media reported that the youth was “suspicious” which “called for detaining and transferring him for interrogation.”      More . . .

Defense For Children International Palestine (DCIP)
Sign the petition
Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes around 700 children in military courts each year.
___Three out of every four of these children endure some form of physical violence at the hands of Israeli soldiers or officers following arrest. In 97 percent of the cases, children are interrogated without legal counsel and without their parents.

Palestinians pray beside a grave in a Muslim cemetery just outside Jerusalem's Old City
Mourners at the Muslim cemetery of Bab Al-Rahma outside the Eastern Wall of Jerusalem. Burial in the area began in the 8th century. (Photo: International Business Times, Nov. 3, 2016)

Wadi Hilweh Information Center – Silwan     
Dec. 5, 2016
The occupation authorities prevented on Monday afternoon the family of the deceased Khadijeh Abu Al-Doleh from being buried in Al-Rahmeh Gate Cemetery that is adjacent to Al-Aqsa Mosque under the pretext of confiscating the land in favor of the Nature and Parks authority.
___Special Forces surrounded the cemetery on Monday afternoon. When the funeral arrived, they prevented the participants from entering the cemetery and informed them that the location of her grave is confiscated and she can’t be buried there.  More . . .