“. . . My endurance is as limitless as the horizon . . .” (Tawfiq Zayyad)

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BETHLEHEM: Palestinian family takes photo in front of the Christmas tree. (Photo: Institute for Middle East Understanding, Dec. 20, 2018)

SELECTED   NEWS   OF   THE   DAY
|  AFTER  KILLING  DISABLED  YOUTH,  ISRAELI  FIGHTER  JET  STRIKES  GAZA
An Israeli warplane carried out an airstrike in the Gaza Strip following, causing horror among women and children, Palestinian security sources said.    ___In a statement, the Israeli military spokesman recognised the attack and claimed it targeted a Palestinian resistance post in the southern Gaza Strip.    ___Palestinian medical sources reported no injuries, but reiterated that airstrike caused repulsive horror among tens of children and women living in the vicinity of the targeted place.    More . . .
|  BIBLICAL  CITY  OF  BETHLEHEM  BOASTS  LARGEST  CHRISTMAS  IN  YEARS
Pilgrims from around the world flocked to Bethlehem on Monday for what was believed to be the biblical West Bank city’s largest Christmas celebrations in years.    ___Hundreds of locals and foreign visitors milled in Manger Square as bagpipe-playing Palestinian Scouts paraded past a giant Christmas tree. Crowds flooded the Church of the Nativity, venerated as the traditional site of Jesus’s birth, and waited to descend into the ancient grotto.    ___Palestinian Tourism Minister Rula Maaya said all Bethlehem hotels were fully booked, and the city was preparing to host an “astounding” 10,000 tourists overnight.     More . . .
|  GDP  ‘UP’  IN  WEST  BANK,  ‘DOWN’  IN  GAZA  DURING  1ST  THREE  QUARTERS  OF  2018
The gross domestic product increased by 2.3% in the West Bank and decreased by 7.9% in Gaza Strip  during the first three quarters of the year 2018 compared to the same quarters of the year 2017, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS).    ___PCBS said a sharp decrease in GDP at constant prices in the Gaza Strip during the first three quarters of the year 2018 led to slowing down in the growth of the Palestinian economy compared to the parallel quarters of the year 2017.     More . . .

COMMENTARY    AND    OPINION
| ISRAEL’S  ARREST  OF  MOTHERS  SHOWS  ITS  CONTEMPT  FOR  PALESTINIAN  WOMEN   
Dr. Mohammad Makram Balawi
On 16 December 2018, an Israeli court . . .  sentenced Suzan Abu Ghannaam – the mother of 20-year-old Palestinian martyr Muhammad Abu Ghannaam – to eleven months in prison on account of “incitement” in a Facebook post. Her son had been killed while protesting against the restrictions imposed by the Israeli occupation authorities on Muslim worshippers . . . .   On the same day Yair Netanyahu, the son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, claimed that Facebook had banned him from posting for 24 hours. In a series of tweets, Yair had called for the expulsion of Palestinians and Muslims from the region . . .   Unlike mother-of-four Suzan Abu Ghannam, Yair Netanyahu was not jailed for two months, summoned to court and sentenced to 11 months in prison. Instead, he brags about his actions . . .   More . . .

NOTICES  FROM  ORGANIZATIONS
| KinderUSA  A  NEW  YEAR  FOR  GAZA
As 2018 comes to an end, we are sad to report that living conditions in Gaza continue to get worse, taking an unfathomable toll on the population.  Unemployment is over 55%, with youth unemployment at 75%, while most who do get paid receive only half their wages.  Many families live on $1 a day, at best. Over 95% of the water supply is now undrinkable due to the persistent lack of electricity limited to about 4 hours per day. The land, sea, and air blockade is now in its 12th year, sealing Gaza off from the rest of the world.    ___Children in Gaza are caged in a toxic slum from birth to death . . .    More . . .   DONATE . . .

POEM  FOR  THE  DAY

“THE  FIRE  OF  THE  MAGI,  BY  TAWFIQ  ZAYYAD
I take my time!
I take my time!
I draw the first thread of light
From the deep darkness of night;
I tend the nursery of dreams
At the source of the torrent,
And dry the tears of loved ones
With a kerchief of jasmine.
I plant the most verdant oases
Amidst the scorched sands,
And shape a life for the outlaws
From fragrance, plenty, and justice.
If someday, on the road, my foot should stumble,
My roots will uphold and support me.

I take my time
For I am unlike the match
That flickers once, then dies.
I am more like the fire of the magi, burning bright
From my cradle to my grave.
And from my forebears to my offspring.
My endurance is as limitless as the horizon,
And the skill of the ant I’ve mastered.

I take my time,
For it is the function of history
To follow our dictates.
We have prepared for the downfall of the giants of the earth,
We will pay them back in kind;
We will give them enough rope, not that they may live longer,
But that they might have enough to hang themselves.

From THE  PALESTINIAN  WEDDING:  A  BILINGUAL  ANTHOLOGY  OF  CONTEMPORARY  PALESTINIAN  RESISTANCE  POETRY. Ed. and Trans. A. M. Elmessiri. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2011. Reprint from Three Continents Press, Inc., 1982. Available from  Palestine Online Store.

“. . . imagine eleven thousand people in one square kilometer . . .” (Rabbi Rachel Barenblat)

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Bethlehem by night (Photo: Harold Knight, November 5, 2015)

SELECTED   NEWS   OF   THE   DAY. . .
PALESTINIANS  CHEER  AS  TOURISTS  THRONG  BETHLEHEM
Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, is experiencing a record flow of tourists. Israel says October figures were record-breaking.    ___The holy city is located in the occupied West Bank and the ongoing political tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have a direct effect on the tourism industry.   More . . .
. . . . Related  Where to Go? A House Worth Seeing
. . . . Related  A Day in Nablus
. . . . Related  How the tourism industry underpins illegal Israeli settlements
|  UNGA  ADOPTS  FIVE  RESOLUTIONS  IN  FAVOR  OF  PALESTINE
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted in favor of five resolutions regarding Palestine and a sixth resolution on the Golan Heights, on Friday evening.    __One of the most important resolutions adopted called upon member states not to recognize any measures taken by Israel in Jerusalem and to maintain the current status-quo in the holy city.    __Palestine’s Permanent Observer to the UN, Riyad Mansour, said that “by voting in favor of the five resolutions, the international community affirms its support of our national cause, despite the efforts made by the US administration in international forums to resist this.”    More . . .
. . . . Related  PM Hamdallah: The UN Should Recognize Palestine as A Full- Member State and Endorse President Abbas Peace Initiative
. . . . Related  Palestine  thwarts  efforts  by  US  to  question  its  membership  in  OPCW
. . . . Related  Hamas  politicos  make  rounds  internationally  to  gain  backing
|  ISRAEL  KILLS  345  PALESTINIANS  SINCE  TRUMP’S  JERUSALEM  ANNOUNCEMENT
The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have killed 345 Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories since US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital in October 2017, the Jerusalem Centre for Studies of Palestinian and Israeli Affairs revealed.    ___The body said 71 children and nine women were among the Palestinians killed, seven died in detention, 43 were killed in airstrikes and one – engineer Fadi Al-Batsh- was assassinated by the Israeli Mossad in Malaysia.    More . . .
. . . .  Related  28  Palestinians  injured  in  Gaza  border  protest

COMMENTARY    AND    OPINION. . . .
| THIS  IS  HOW  TO  FIGHT  ISRAEL’S  JEWISH  NATION-STATE  LAW
By Said Zeedani
The Jewish Nation-State Law, a new law with the force of a constitutional amendment, enshrined Israel as the exclusive nation-state of the Jewish people, demoted the official status of the Arabic language, and gave the right of self-determination in Israel to Jews alone. Palestinian political leaders, Israeli opposition politicians, and dovish Jewish-American groups all lambasted the passage of the law earlier this year, with some saying the law amounted to apartheid and promoting Jewish supremacy.    [. . . .] a serious struggle . . . will need to take place both locally and internationally; it should be waged by civil society, in the legal system, and legislatively. There are many Israeli Jews, as well as many proponents of democracy and human rights worldwide, who are potential partners in such a struggle.    ___But the struggle must also acknowledge that Israel’s regime of racial superiority and discrimination, created in and sustained since 1948, will not end with the abolishment of the Jewish Nation-State Law.   More . . .

POEM  FOR  THE  DAY. . . . 

“FIRST  VISIT  TO  THE  CAMP  D’HAISHA,  BETHLEHEM,”
BY  RABBI  RACHEL  BARENBLAT

There are no canvas tents.
The buildings don’t look
so bad, standard issue
developing-world
cement block structures

until I try to imagine
eleven thousand people
in one square kilometer
,
one in every minyan
an angry alumnus

of the Israeli jails.
What do I know
about settlers or rock-throwers,
one state, two state
impossibilities?

But our grandparents
didn’t escape the ghettos
of Europe’s worst era
only to create new ones
for somebody else.

When we depart
I’m saddened, troubled
but perfectly able
to order a cold beer
and make conversation.

The sorrow and the fury
dormant overnight
explode the next day.
Even Shabbat can’t soothe
my lacerated heart.

From BEFORE THERE IS NOWHERE TO STAND: PALESTINE ISREL POETS RESPOND TO THE STRUGGLE. Ed. By Joan Dobbie and Grace Beeler. Sandpoint ID: Lost Horse Press, 2012.  Available from B&N.
Rachel Barenblat was ordained a rabbi in January 2011 through the Alliance for Jewish Renewal. She holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and is the author of 4 chapbooks of poetry. Her poems have appeared in a variety of journals including The Texas Observer. She lives in western Massachusetts.

“. . . We wait for the promise of July And the joyous dance . . .” (Jabra Ibrahim Jabra)

IMG_3102 - Copy - CopyFrom the  WALL  MUSEUM  in Bethlehem.
(Photo: Harold Knight, November 6, 2015)

SELECTED   NEWS   OF   THE   DAY. . .
PALESTINIANS  GEARING  UP  FOR  ANTI-OCCUPATION  PROTESTS  AT  GAZA  BORDER 
The Higher National Commission of the March of Return and Breaking the Siege has called on the Palestinian masses to take part in the large-scale protests set to be staged on Friday along Gaza’s borderlands.    ___The Higher Commission said in a statement that the peaceful protests make part of Palestinians’ struggle to liberate their land, lift the siege on Gaza, and thwart the US-drafted deal of the century.    More . . .
. . . . Related  Israel returns fishing boats, tools to Gaza
. . . . Related  Gaza hospitals overwhelmed by wounded in Israeli violence: Report
. . . . Related  Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (22 – 28 November 2018)
CHRISTMAS  2018  PREPARATIONS  WELL  UNDERWAY  IN  BETHLEHEM:  “A  FEAST  OF  PEACE,  HOPE  AND  JUSTICE”
Preparations for Christmas 2018 are well underway according to the Press Conference held at the Bethlehem Peace Center today. With the world’s spotlight beaming down this December on the city – the birthplace of Jesus Christ – the municipality of Bethlehem announced that the theme of this Christmas is ‘Being and Existence’.    ___The mayor of Bethlehem, Anton Salman, explained that this Christmas is a time to show the world that the Palestinian people “are rooted in this land, just as the trees are”. The Palestinian people “are one community, regardless of different religions”, the mayor said, squelching any notion that the occupation had spread of the oppression of Palestinian Christians by its Muslim majority.    More . . .
. . . . Related  Bethlehem Prepares to Celebrate Christmas 2018
| ASHRAWI  URGES  EBU  NOT  TO  BROADCAST  EUROVISION  IN  ISRAELI  SETTLEMENTS
Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Member, Hanan Ashrawi, called upon the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) to respect the Palestinian people’s rights by not broadcasting any Eurovision Song Contest events in Israel’s illegal settlements.    ___Ashrawi said, in a statement, that giving Israel the privilege of hosting the 2019 Eurovision amounts to rewarding it for and helping it to conceal its decades-old military occupation and grave violations of Palestinian national and human rights.    [. . . . ] Last week, three Manchester, UK-based pro-Palestine groups called on European artists and performers to Boycott Eurovision 2019 hosted by Israel, while over 140 artists, including musicians, writers, actors, directors, novelists and poets had signed a letter calling for the event’s boycott.    More . . .
. . . . Related  Japan funds project to enhance water quality in West Bank town
. . . . Related  Palestinian Forum in Britain Organizes Largest Palestinian Festival in London
. . . . Related  Alray International Media Watch from Alray Palestinian Media Agency (Nov. 29, 2018)

COMMENTARY    AND    OPINION. . . .
| ZIONISM:  CYCLES  OF  TRAUMA  AND  AGGRESSION  IN  THE  SERVICE  OF  SETTLER  COLONIALISM
By Yoav Litvin
The origins of Zionism are profoundly misunderstood by many. This is not coincidental and can be seen largely as the result of propaganda, which opportunistically and erroneously asserts that Zionism is the natural expression of Judaism.    ___In fact, Zionism gained traction among some Jews only in the late 19th  century in response to antisemitism and romantic European nationalist movements. Zionists syncretized many white supremacist, antisemitic, messianic and fascistic racialized dogmas and were thus overwhelmingly unpopular among most Jews, who viewed the ideals of the enlightenment–emancipation, equality and integration – as their target.    [. . . .] In response to antisemitism, Zionists embraced their fear and contempt of their abusers to produce defensive aggression, reinventing identity in a reactionary attempt to ensure survival and restore  pride. The reward of violence–power-quickly enticed Zionist leaders to morph what began as a defensive strategy into an offensive one that culminated with a settler colonialist vision of a homeland in Palestine at the expense of its Indigenous population, the existing Palestinian people.    More . . .
. . . . Related  Israeli journalist lectures against ‘Zionist racism’ in Prague

POEM  FOR  THE  DAY. . . .

“IN  THE  DESERTS  OF  EXILE,”  BY  JABRA  IBRAHIM  JABRA
Spring after spring,
in the deserts of exile,
What are we doing with our love,
When our eyes are full of frost and dust?

Our Palestine, green land of ours;
Its flowers as if embroidered of women’s gowns;
March adorns its hills
With the jewel-like peony and narcissus;
April bursts open in its plains
With flowers and bride-like blossoms;
May is our rustic song
Which we sing at noon, in the blue shadows,
Among the olive trees in our valleys,
And in the ripeness of the fields we wait for the promise of July
And the joyous dance amidst the harvest.

O land of ours where our childhood passed
Like dreams in the shade of the orange grove,
Among the almond trees in the valleys―
Remember us now wandering
Among the thorns of the desert,
Wandering in rocky mountains;
Remember us now
In the tumult of cities beyond deserts and seas;
Remember us with our eyes full of dust
That never clears in our ceaseless wandering.
They crushed the flowers on the hills around us,
Destroyed the houses over our heads,
Scattered our torn remains
Then unfolded the desert before us,
With valleys writhing in hunger
And blue shadows
Scattered into red thorns
Bent over corpses left as prey for falcon and crow.

Is it from your hills that the angels sang to the shepherds
Of peace on earth and goodwill among men?
Only death laughed when it saw
Among the entrails of beasts
The ribs of men,
And through the guffaw of bullets
It went dancing a joyous dance
On the heads of weeping women.
Our land is an emerald,
But in the deserts of exile,
Spring after spring,
Only the dust hisses in our face.
What then, what are we doing with our love,
When our eyes and our mouth are full of frost and dust?

–From THE  PALESTINIAN  WEDDING:  A  BILINGUAL  ANTHOLOGY  OF  CONTEMPORARY  PALESTINIAN  RESISTANCE  POETRY. Ed. and Trans. A. M. Elmessiri. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2011. Reprint from Three Continents Press, Inc., 1982.  Available from Palestine Online Store.
(“Jabra Ibrahim Jabra’s Baghdad Home Destroyed; 
The End of an Era?”)

“. . . You did not leave me land to plow . . .” (Mahmoud Darwish)

SELECTED   NEWS   OF   THE   DAY. . .
|  US  WARNS  OF  ‘CONSEQUENCES’  AS  PALESTINE  JOINS  INTERNATIONAL  BODIES
The United States has threatened “consequences” as Palestinians step up efforts for statehood demanding accession to almost a dozen international bodies and conventions.    ___The threat came after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed the documents on Thursday to join the Universal Postal Union, a UN agency that coordinates international postage, and 10 international protocols and conventions.    ___The move infuriated the US, Israel’s staunch ally, with a State Department official claiming that the Palestinian efforts to join international institutions were “premature” and “counterproductive.”    More . . .
|  ISRAEL  RAZES  LAND,  CONFISCATES  VEHICLES  IN  EAST  JERUSALEM
The staff members of the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority and the Jerusalem Municipality stormed the Silwan neighborhood, in occupied East Jerusalem, under the heavy protection of Israeli forces, on Monday.    ___A Ma’an reporter said Israeli bulldozers razed a land in the SILWAN NEIGHBORHOOD, which belonged to Palestinian resident, Khaled al-Zir.    ___ [. . . .] Israeli forces also confiscated several vehicles in the neighborhood under the pretext that the owners did not obtain an Israeli license.    ___The United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee adopted a resolution in July 2017 reaffirming the international body’s non-recognition of Israeli sovereignty in East Jerusalem, and condemned Israeli policies in the Old City.    More . . .
. . . . Related  Palestinian  family  forced  at  gunpoint  [from]  their  land  in  BETHLEHEM
. . . . Related  Israeli  Army  Launches  Limited  Incursion  into  GAZA
. . . . Related  IOF  attacks  schoolchildren,  settlers  vandalize  property  in  URIF  [NABLUS]
. . . . Related  Dozens  of  Palestinian  students  injured  in  IOF  attack  [HEBRON]
|
  ISRAELI  OCCUPATION  FORCES  ARREST  22  PALESTINIANS  IN  THE  WEST  BANK
The Israeli occupation forces arrested 22 Palestinian citizens from the West Bank on Monday morning.    ___IOF arrested the head of the student union council, Yahya Aqel Rabie at  Birzeit University  during raids in the village of Mazra’a al-Gharbiya, northwest of RAMALLAH, the center of the occupied West Bank.    ___Local sources report that military patrols stormed the village and began to raid houses. The Israeli occupation forces arrested Rabie during a raid on his family’s house and was taken to an unknown destination.    More . . .

COMMENTARY    AND    OPINION. . . .
THE  NEW  NEW  ANTI-SEMITISM
By Richard Falk
I along with many others am being victimized these days. They are being labeled anti-Semites, and in some instances, self-hating Jews as well. This is a Zionist and Israeli effort to shut down our voices and punish our non-violent activism, with special venom directed at the BDS Campaign because it has become so effective in recent years. This negative branding of the opposition is being called ‘the new anti-Semitism.’ The old anti-Semitism was simply hatred of Jews as expressed through negative images and attitudes. . .  The new anti-Semitism is criticism of Israel and Zionism. . .  The false premise is equating Zionism with Jews, automatically making criticism and opposition to the Zionist state of Israel as anti-Semitism. . .  [. . . .] we who are attacked as new anti-Semites are really trying to honor our human identity, and to reject tribalist loyalties or geopolitical alignments, in our commitment to the realization of Palestinian rights. . .  As Jews to hold Israel accountable under standards that were used to condemn Nazi surviving political and military leaders is to honor the legacy of the Holocaust, not to defile it.  More . . .
|  ‘WE  HOPE  THE  REGIME  LASTS’:  WHEN  ISRAEL  ENJOYED  COZY  TIES  WITH  BRAZIL’S  MILITARY  DICTATORSHIP
Just under a month ago, following an especially tumultuous election season, Brazilians elected Jair Bolsonaro as president of their country. Bolsonaro has been a member of the National Congress, Brazil’s parliament, since 1990, where he was part of a group of vocal, extreme-right backbenchers who longed for the days of the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 until 1985.    ___His election was welcomed by the Israeli right, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu going so far as to announce he would attend Bolsonaro’s swearing-in ceremony in January.    More . . .

NOTICES  FROM  ORGANIZATIONS. . . .
| EYEWITNESS  PALESTINE    It is our pleasure to share this Annual Report detailing the recent accomplishments of Eyewitness Palestine. In the past year, we have:  Dispatched 4 delegations and 96 delegates to meet with peace-builders in Palestine/Israel . . .   Rolled out a Racial Justice and Equity curriculum . . .  Distributed $161,540 in financial aid . . .  Expanded our online network to more than 25,000 people . . .   Dramatically increased the diversity of Eyewitness Palestine delegations . . .    Information about delegations . . .  Donate . . .

POEM  FOR  THE  DAY. . . . 

“A  DIALOGUE  WITH  A  MAN  WHO  HATES  ME,”  BY  MAHMOUD  DARWISH
Rome was burnt, O crazy man
..Rome is more durable than Nero
Rome will not grasp your poems
..She can recite them by heart
Rome will slice your strings
..My tunes arise from my heart
Your voice echoes a miserable past
..My voice echoes a rocket rage
Your path is long
..I shall not tire
Yehuda** sold you
..I shall not be crucified
My ancestors were cremated in Auschwitz
..My heart is with them

..Pull out the wires from my skin

And the wounds of yesterday?
..A shameful scar―in the face of the executioner over there
What do you carry in your head
..A little wheat
What’s in your chest?
..A picture of a wound
Your face reflects a rancor color
..My face reflects the color of the earth
Then convert your sword into plowshare
..You did not leave me land to plow
You criminal!
..I did not steal―did not kill―didn’t oppress
You Arab! You are a dog!
..O man, may God cure your soul
..Why don’t you try the taste of love
..Why don’t you make way for the sun!!

** The Israeli town of Or Yehuda was established in 1950 on the lands of the depopulated Palestinian villages of Saqiya and Kfar ‘Ana. Jews from Iraq and North Africa settled there.

From: Aruri, Naseer and Edmund Ghareeb, eds. ENEMY  OF  THE  SUN:  POETRY  OF  THE  PALESTINIAN  RESISTANCE. Washington, DC: Drum and Spear Press, 1970.  Available.

“. . . Our roots are entrenched / Deep in the earth . . .” (Tawfiq Zayyad)

IMG_3349 - CopySt. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Beit Jala in Bethlehem Governate.
Priest greets parishioner after service.
Photo: Harold Knight, Sun. Nov. 8, 2015.

SELECTED   NEWS   OF   THE   DAY. . .

|   MYTHS  AND  FANTASIES  ABOUT  THE  PALESTINIAN  REFUGEES  AND  THE  UNITED  NATIONS     Andrew Whitley, former senior UNRWA official      The decision of the Trump Administration to halt all funding for UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for 5.4 million Palestinian refugees, and its attempts to redefine who qualifies as a “refugee” in this context, marks another egregious example of Washington’s disregard for international norms and humanitarian law in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.    ___The ultimate fate of those refugees who fled their homes or were forcibly expelled in the war that led to the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 – and of their descendants, now into third and fourth generations – has long been one of the most contentious issues in the conflict.    ___The “right to return” is seen by Palestinians and their supporters worldwide as a matter of natural and historic justice. After all, this is exactly the same right as all other refugees – for whom UNRWA’s sister agency, UNHCR, is their guardian – enjoy.    More . . .
|   MAYOR  OF  BETHLEHEM:  NETANYAHU’S  STATEMENT  ON  BETHLEHEM  AND  PALESTINIAN  CHRISTIANS  IS  ANOTHER  ISRAELI  ATTEMPT  AT  DISTORTING  REALITY  OF  ISRAELI  OCCUPATION     Mayor of Bethlehem, advocate Anton Salman said in response to Sunday’s statements by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Bethlehem and the situation of Palestinian Christians, that such statement ‘is another Israeli attempt at distorting the reality of the Israeli occupation and particularly the effects that Israeli policies have had on the Palestinian Christian community since 1948’.    ___“If Mr. Netanyahu was concerned about the situation of Palestinian Christians, particularly in the Bethlehem area, he would return the 22,000 dunums of Bethlehem land illegally annexed to Israel for expansion of colonial settlements. He would dismantle the annexation wall that divides Bethlehem from Jerusalem for the first time in 2000 years of Christianity and would stop imposing restrictions to Palestinian movement, including the thousand of Palestinian Christians living in exile and whose return is impossible due to the Israeli control over the Palestinian population registry,” said the mayor in a statement issued by the Bethlehem municipality.    More . . .
. . . . Related  New  Israeli  Laws  Enhance  Creeping  Annexation  Policy
|   ISRAEL  CONTINUES  AIRSTRIKES  OVER  GAZA    An Israeli warplane carried out an airstrike, on Tuesday, targeting a group of Palestinians east of Beit Hanoun in the southern besieged Gaza Strip.    ___A Ma’an reporter said that an Israeli warplane fired one missile towards a group of Palestinian youths in northern Gaza; no injuries were reported.    ___The Israeli army said that a warplane targeted a group of Palestinians who were launching incendiary kites into southern Israel.    ___Meanwhile, locals reported that Israeli military bulldozers entered dozens of meters into south of Gaza City, razed and leveled lands.    More . . .
. . . . Related   Israeli  Navy,  Soldiers,  Injure  19  Palestinians  In  Northern  Gaza

COMMENTARY    AND    OPINION. . . .

|   WATCH:  ISRAELIS  AND  PALESTINIANS  MEET  FACE  TO  FACE  AT  GAZA  FENCE
For a few short minutes last week, a group of Israeli activists managed to have a face-to-face conversation with Palestinian activists in Gaza, albeit through a militarized fence.    ___On Wednesday of last week, for the first time since the Great Return March began in March, a small group of Israeli activists approached the fence to speak with Palestinian demonstrators, standing just meters from them on the other side.    ___The Palestinians who approached the fence had been taking part in a cultural event near the village of Khuza’a in one of the nearby tent encampments, which was established as part of the Great Return March.    ___The rare meeting lasted only a few minutes, until Israeli soldiers arrived and ordered the Israelis to leave the area.    More . . .
|   PALESTINIAN  PRISONER  IN  ISRAEL  FOR  33  YEARS  WARNED  OF  PUNISHMENT  IF  HE  PUBLISHES  BOOK     A Palestinian prisoner who served 33 years out of a 39-year prison sentence in Israeli jails for resisting the Israeli occupation was warned by the prison administration of severe punishment if he publishes a book he wrote in prison, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said on Tuesday.    ___It said Walid Dakka, a Palestinian from inside Israel, who previously was severely punished after publishing a book in Arabic called “The story of the secret of oil”, was told that he would be put in isolation if he goes ahead and publishes another book.    More . . .

POEM  FOR  THE  DAY. . . . 

“WE  SHALL  REMAIN,”  BY  TAWFIQ  ZAYYAD  – 1970
It is a thousand times easier
For you to pass an elephant through the needle’s eye
To catch fried fish in the Milky Way
To plow the sea
To teach the alligator speech, a thousand times easier
Than smothering with you oppression
The spark of an idea
Of forcing us to deviate
A single step
From our chosen march.
Like twenty impossibles
We shall remain in Lydda, Ramlah, and Galilee.

Here upon your chests
We shall remain
Like the glass and the cactus
In your throats
A fiery whirlwind
In your eyes.

Here we shall remain
A wall on your chests.
We wash dishes in the hotels
And serve drinks to the masters.
We mop the floors in the dark kitchens
To extract a piece of bread
From your blue teeth
For the little ones.

Here, we shall remain
A wall on your chests.
We starve,
Go naked,
Sing songs
And fill the streets
With demonstrations
And the jails with pride.
We breed rebellions
One after another.
Like twenty impossibles we remain
In Lydda, Ramlah, Galilee.

Here, we shall remain.
You may drink the sea;
We shall guard the shade
Of the olive tree and the fig,
Planting ideas
Like the yeast in the dough.
The coldness of ice is in our nerves
And a burning hell in our hearts.
We squeeze the rock
To quench our thirst
And if we starve
We eat the dirt
And never depart
Or grudge our blood.

Here―we have a past
―a present
―and a future.
Our roots are entrenched
Deep in the earth.
Like twenty impossibles
We shall remain.
Let the oppressor review his account
Before the turn of the wheel.
For every action there is a reaction:
Read what is written in the Book.
Like twenty impossibles
We shall remain―in Lydda, in Ramlah
And Galilee.

From THE  PALESTINIAN  WEDDING:  A  BILINGUAL  ANTHOLOGY  OF  CONTEMPORARY  PALESTINIAN  RESISTANCE  POETRY. Ed. and Trans. A. M. Elmessiri. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2011. Reprint from Three Continents Press, Inc., 1982. Available from Palestine Online Store.

“. . . When the almond and the olive have turned to timber . . .” (Samih Al-Qasim)

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THE VILLAGE OF BURIN. PHOTO BY SALMA A-DEB’I. B’Tselem Website, March 27,2018.

SELECTED   NEWS   OF   THE   DAY. . .

|  IN  VIDEO  –  ISRAELI  SETTLERS  ATTACK  PALESTINIAN  FARMERS  IN  NABLUS       Video footage showed how several Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian farmers, on Saturday, while they were harvesting olive harvest on Palestinians lands belonging to the residents of the Burin village, south of the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus.    ___According to local sources, Israeli settlers from the illegal Givat Ronin settlement attacked two Palestinian farmers by throwing rocks at them and chased them out of their own lands.    ___The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reported that “Settler violence and vandalism takes place with full backing by the Israeli authorities. Sometimes soldiers take part in the assault; at other times, they stand idly by.    More . . .
|  VIDEO:  AS  THE  OLIVE  HARVEST  BEGINS,  SO  DO  THE  SETTLER  ATTACKS     The time had finally come: the residents of Turmusayya, a lush Palestinian village nestled in a valley between Ramallah and Nablus in the central occupied West Bank, had gotten permission from Israeli authorities to go harvest their olive trees. This chance only came twice a year: two days in the spring to cultivate their land, and two days in the fall to harvest the olives.     ___When they arrived, they were devastated to find dozens of trees chopped down, uprooted, and rotting.     More . . .
. . . . Related  Israeli forces chase Palestinian herders out of grazing land
. . . . Related  Settlers chop off olive, grape trees near Bethlehem
. . . . Related  Settlers attack civilians in Hebron
. . . . Related  Israeli army destroys water pipeline in Kafr Qaddoum
. . . . Related  Israeli Soldiers And Settlers Uproot Trees In Silwan
. . . . Related  PHOTOS: Israeli bulldozers demolish homes in West Bank villages
. . . . Related  Israeli fanatics break into Aqsa Mosque
|  ISRAEL ORDERS IMMEDIATE HALT OF FUEL DELIVERIES TO GAZA    Israel’s Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has ordered an immediate halt to fuel deliveries headed to besieged Gaza in response to what he claimed attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians.    ___The announcement on Friday follows the killing  of  seven  Palestinians  by  Israeli  forces  during the ongoing March of Return protests.   ___”Israel will not tolerate a situation in which fuel tankers are allowed to enter Gaza on the one hand, while terror and violence are used against [Israeli] soldiers and Israeli citizens on the other,” the statement from Lieberman’s office read.    More . . .

POEM  FOR  THE  DAY. . . . 

“A  HOMELAND,”  BY  SAMIH  AL-QASIM
So what,
When in my homeland
The sparrow dies of starvation,
In exile, without a shroud,
While the earthworm is satiated, devouring God’s food!

So what,
When the yellow fields
Yield no more to their tillers
Than memories of weariness,
While their rich harvest pours
Into the granaries of the usurper!

So what,
If the cement has diverted
The ancient springs
Causing them to forget their natural course,
When their owner calls,
They cry in his face: “Who are you?”

So what,
When the almond and the olive have turned to timber
Adorning tavern doorways,
And monuments
Whose nude loveliness beautifies halls and bars,
And is carried by tourists
To the farthest corners of the earth,
While nothing remains before my eyes
But dry leaves and tinder!

So what,
When my people’s tragedy
Has turned to farce in others’ eyes,
And my face is a poor bargain
That even the slave-trader gleefully disdains!

So what,
When in barren space the satellites spin,
And in the streets walks a beggar, holding a hat,
And the song of autumn is heard!
Blow, East winds!
Our roots are still alive.

Samih Al-Qasim 
From 
THE  PALESTINIAN  WEDDING:  A  BILINGUAL  ANTHOLOGY  OF  CONTEMPORARY  PALESTINIAN  RESISTANCE  POETRY. Ed. and Trans. A. M. Elmessiri. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2011. Reprint from Three Continents Press, Inc., 1982. Available from Palestine Online Store.

“. . . the globe that’s standing In silence and mourning . . .” (Samih Al-Qasim)

[Note: Please see the page “Other Sources” for a list of the sources used that are not specifically “news” sites, the location of most opinion pieces here.]  

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Early Sunday morning, Beit Jala, Governate of Bethlehem, Nov. 8, 2015. Photo: Harold Knight.

SELECTED  NEWS  OF  THE  DAY    

ISRAEL  APPROVES  NEW  SETTLEMENT  UNITS  NEAR  BETHLEHEM
The Israeli authorities approved the construction of new settlement units in the illegal Israeli settlement of Efrat, in southern Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.   ___Activist Hassan Breijieh said, on Monday, that Israeli settlers of Efrat rejected a plan, previously approved by the Israeli civil Administration’s Higher Planning Council, to construct 40 new housing units in the settlement and demanded the construction of 106 units; their demand has been approved by the council.  More.
ISRAEL’S  INTENTION  TO  ANNEX  THE  WEST  BANK  REVEALED
Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, warned on Monday that the Israeli government’s response to the petition, filed to the Israeli Supreme Court, signals Israel’s intention to proceed with annexation of the occupied West Bank.   ___The Israeli government submitted legal materials to the Israeli Supreme Court declaring that “the Knesset (Israeli parliament) is permitted to legislate laws everywhere in the world and it is authorized to violate the sovereignty of foreign countries via legislation that would be applied to events occurring in their territories.”   ___This statement was declared on August 7th in a written response, which the Israeli government had submitted to the Israeli Supreme Court. . .  More.
URI  AVNERY  –  1923-2018.  HIS  OPPONENTS  WILL  ULTIMATELY  HAVE  TO  FOLLOW  IN  HIS  FOOTSTEPS
Gush Shalom grieves and mourns the passing of its founder, Uri Avnery. Until the last moment he continued the way he had traveled all his life. On Saturday, two weeks ago, he collapsed in his home when he was about to leave for the Rabin Square and attend a demonstration against the “Nation State Law”, a few hours after he wrote a sharp article against that law.     ___Avnery devoted himself entirely to the struggle to achieve peace between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people in their independent state, as well as between Israel and the Arab and Muslim World.   More.

COMMENTARY  AND  OPINION    

HUMANITARIAN  AID  AND  RHETORIC  SERVE  INTERESTS  OF  THE  ISRAELI  OPPRESSORS
Ramona Wadi    
There has been yet another instance where the UN has preferred to try to predict the future instead of acknowledging the current deterioration in Gaza with the aim of permanently reversing colonialism. Israel has yet again refused the entry of fuel into the enclave which is needed to power emergency generators and provide some relief for the power cuts suffered by the Palestinian people.   ___The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories (OCHAoPt) quoted Humanitarian Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick:   ___“The well-being of two million people, half of whom are children, is at stake. It is unacceptable that Palestinians in Gaza are repeatedly deprived of the most basic elements of a dignified life.”  More.

TRAFFIC  POLICEWOMEN,  A  FIRST  FOR  BETHLEHEM
Entsar Abu Jahal
Female police officers participated Aug. 5 for the first time in organizing traffic in the streets of Bethlehem in the southern West Bank alongside their male peers, to facilitate citizens’ movement.    ___This move comes as part of a program the West Bank police had launched earlier this year to promote women’s participation in the traffic police force and help ease the workload of traffic policemen. Women’s participation in managing traffic on the streets of Bethlehem confirms Palestinian women’s ability to work and confront male social perspective undermining them and prohibiting them from taking positions that men monopolize.  More.

THE  LEGAL  BARRAGE:  GAZANS  AND  THEIR  INDEFINITE  DETENTION
For the eleventh year, Gaza continues to be the world’s largest prison. Imports and entrance to the Strip are restricted; exports and exit permits are dependent on the political climate; and the people of Gaza are the ones who continue to pay the price. Sporadic attacks, and shellings have been ongoing since 2008, with the occupation forces demonstrating a clear disregard for the lives of these already impoverished civilians.[1] In addition to the death of 136 Palestinians in Gaza since March 30, as of 7 July 2018, there have been 81 individuals arrested since the beginning of the year.[2]   More.

ISRAEL  LOBBY  GROUP  J  STREET  WITHDRAWS  RASHIDA  TLAIB  ENDORSEMENT
Ali Abunimah  
The Israel lobby group J Street has withdrawn its endorsement from Rashida Tlaib.   ___“After closely consulting with Rashida Tlaib’s campaign to clarify her most current views on various aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we have come to the unfortunate conclusion that a significant divergence in perspectives requires JStreetPAC to withdraw our endorsement of her candidacy,” J Street announced on Friday. . . . Amid mounting controversy, Tlaib at first evaded giving a clear explanation of the J Street endorsement, which she herself had reportedly “sought out”. . .  But on Tuesday, Tlaib made a clear break with the Israel lobby group.  More.

NOTICES  FROM  ORGANIZATIONS

MUSEUM  OF  THE  PALESTINIAN  PEOPLE,  WASHINGTON,  DC
–A Night of Palestinian Hospitality – Fundraising Dinner at the Tabard Inn, September 24
KINDER USADonate

“THE GLOBE II”, by SAMIH AL-QASIM

I stand for a moment of silence and mourning
In memory of the globe.
Or is it the globe that’s standing
In silence and mourning in memory of me?
That is the question . . .
So long.

From Sadder Than Water, Ibis Editions, 2006
(Posted to mark the death of Uri Avnery)

To Christ the Lord on his birthday (Fadwa Tuqan)

❶ Live: Christmas Eve in Manger Square
❷ Jerusalem Apostolic Administrator arrives in Bethlehem for midnight mass
. . . . . ❷ ― (ᴀ) Abbas wishes Christians merry Christmas
❸ 10 Palestinian students injured in clashes in al-Arroub camp
. . . . . ❸ ― (ᴀ) Rights Groups slam Supreme Court for giving ‘green light’ to torture
❹ Opinion/Analysis: Nabi Saleh is where I lost my Zionism
❺ POETRY by Fadwa Tuqan
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
❶ LIVE:  CHRISTMAS  EVE  IN  MANGER  SQUARE
Palestine News Network – PNN 
Dec. 24-25, 2017    MORE . . .   
❷ JERUSALEM  APOSTOLIC  ADMINISTRATOR  ARRIVES  IN  BETHLEHEM  FOR  MIDNIGHT  MASS
Palestine News and Information Agency – WAFA  
Dec. 24, 2017 ― Christmas celebrations kicked off on Sunday with the annual procession led by the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa.
___The car procession started at the Latin Patriarchate at Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City with a stopover at Mar Elias Monastery on the outskirts of Bethlehem before completing its journey to Manger Square and the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, the birth site of Jesus Christ, where the official ceremony is expected to be held at al-Salam Center.   MORE . . . 
.  .  .  .  .  ❷  ―  (ᴀ)  ABBAS  WISHES  CHRISTIANS  MERRY  CHRISTMAS
Palestine News and Information Agency – WAFA
Dec. 24, 2017 ― President Mahmoud Abbas Sunday wished Christians in Palestine who follow the Georgian calendar a merry Christmas and happy holidays.
___He hoped that in these blessed times, the hopes and wishes of the Palestinian people come true and that Palestinians finally celebrate an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
___Abbas expressed hope for all Palestinians to celebrate the end of the Israeli occupation and peace and justice in the land of peace next year.   MORE . . . 
❸ 10  PALESTINIAN  STUDENTS  INJURED  IN  CLASHES  IN  AL-ARROUB  CAMP 
The Palestinian Information Center  
Dec. 24, 2017 ― Ten Palestinian students were injured on Sunday in confrontations with the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at the entrance of Palestine Technical University in al-Arroub refugee camp in al-Khalil province.
___Eyewitnesses told the PIC reporter that the IOF soldiers stormed the university campus and fired tear gas canisters, sound bombs, and live and rubber bullets at the students causing at least ten injuries and suffocation cases among them.   MORE . . .  
.  .  .  .  .  ❸  ―  (ᴀ)  RIGHTS  GROUPS  SLAM  SUPREME  COURT  FOR  GIVING  ‘GREEN  LIGHT’  TO  TORTURE
The Palestinian Information Center 
By Ben White
Dec. 24, 2017 ― The Israeli Supreme Court has been accused of redefining torture so as to permit it after a major new ruling was greeted with dismay by local and international human rights groups.
___Last week the court – sitting as the High Court of Justice – denied a petition brought by The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) on behalf of Palestinian prisoner Asad Abu Ghosh.
___According to the petition, Abu Ghosh was tortured with “severe mental and physical violence” during a Shin Bet interrogation in 2007, including “beatings, being thrown against a wall, stress positions including the ‘banana’ position, sleep deprivation, and extreme mental duress”.
[. . . .] Despite this, and the evidence presented by PCATI, the High Court still threw out the petition, accepting an earlier decision of the Attorney General not to open a criminal investigation against the interrogators, and thus granting the agents impunity for their actions.    MORE . . . 
❹ Opinion/Analysis:  NABI  SALEH  IS  WHERE  I  LOST  MY  ZIONISM  
+ 972  Magazine   
By Lisa Goldman
Dec. 24, 2017 ― A short video of 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi slapping an Israeli soldier has dominated the Israeli media for the past week, and received prominent coverage internationally as well. Ahed, a Palestinian girl from the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, makes a big impression with her eye-catching mane of blonde hair, the fierce, intelligent expression in her blue eyes — and her fearlessness.
[. . . .] For Israelis, one of their soldiers was provoked, almost unbearably, but still managed to rise above the situation. For almost everyone else, the video shows an unarmed adolescent . . .  bravely confronting an armed soldier in her own village. Even without knowing the circumstances, a fully-grown man in combat gear and carrying a powerful weapon refraining from hitting a much smaller, unarmed adolescent girl, seems not remarkably praiseworthy but rather a response predicated on basic humanity and ethics.
[. . . .]  By the time I began going to Nabi Saleh, I had spent about four years reporting on what I saw in Gaza and the West Bank, and watching detachedly as my politics moved ever leftward from the liberal place in which they started, as a consequence of what I saw on the ground. But it was in Nabi Saleh that I lost the last remnants of what I would call — for lack of a word to describe my nostalgia for the idea of a state for the Jews — my Zionism.
___My radicalization was not only a consequence of witnessing brutal violence perpetrated right in front of my eyes, by soldiers of the army that was supposed to protect me. It was also a result of my seeing the Tamimi family endure that violence week after week, seeing their relatives injured, arrested and killed, and still not coming to the conclusion that the price of resistance is too high. They simply refuse to submit.   MORE . . .  

TO  CHRIST  THE  LORD  ON  HIS  BIRTHDAY,”  BY  FADWA  TUQAN
But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.
St. Mark’s Gospel XII: 7-8

O Lord, O glory of the universe,
crucified this year on your birthday,
are the joys of Jerusalem
silenced on your birthday?
O Lord, all the bells
for two millenia have not been silenced
on your birthday
except for this year:
the domes of the bells are in mourning,
black wrapped in black.

Jerusalem along the Via Dolorosa,
whipped under the cross of ordeal,
bleeding at the hands of the executioner,
and the world is a sealed heart
in the face of affliction.
In this hard indifferent world, O Lord,
the sun’s eye is smothered: the world went astray
and was lost.
In the ordeal it did not even raise a candle.
It did not even shed a tear
to wash away the sorrows in Jerusalem.

The husbandmen killed the heir, O Lord,
and raped the vineyard.
The sinners of the world fledged the bird of evil
dashing off to defile the purity of Jerusalem,
damned and infernal, hated even by Satan.

O Lord, O glory of Jerusalem,
from the well of sorrows, from the abyss,
from the depth of the night,
from the heart of plight,
the wails of Jerusalem are raised up to you.
In your mercy, take away from me, O Lord, this cup!

―Translated by Ferial Ghazoul

About Fadwa Tuqan
From: Smith, Michael. Ed. “Contemporary Palestinian Poetry.” Free  Verse. english.chass.ncsu.edu. 2008. Web. http://freeversethejournal.org/Archives/Spring_2008/poems/M_Smith.html

 

“. . . standard issue developing-world cement block structures . . .” (Rachel Barenblat)

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

❶ Political and religious leaders light Christmas tree at the endangered Jabal al-Baba community
. . . . . ❶ ― (ᴀ) Christmas in Bethlehem: How Trump’s move ruined it
❷ PLO: US bullying will not deter UN member states from voting against Jerusalem decision
. . . . . ❷ ― (ᴀ) Abbas to arrive in France for talks with French counterpart

  • Background: “Bible and Gun: Militarism in Jerusalem’s Holy Places.” Space & Polity.

❸ Israel begins construction of separation wall in Bethlehem-area village
. . . . . ❸ ― (ᴀ) New Synagogue under Western Wall Unveiled, $50m to be Allocated for “Temple Mount Explorations”
❹ POETRY by Rachel Barenblat
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
❶ POLITICAL  AND  RELIGIOUS  LEADERS  LIGHT  CHRISTMAS  TREE  AT  THE  ENDANGERED  JABAL  AL-BABA  COMMUNITY 
Palestine News and Information Agency – WAFA  
Dec. 21, 2017 ― Political and religious leaders attended on Tuesday a solidarity event in the endangered Bedouin community of Jabal al Baba, east of Jerusalem, during which a Christmas tree was lit.
___The community is at imminent risk of forced displacement after the so called “Israeli Civil Administration,” an arm of the occupation authority, ordered all of the community’s 320 Palestinian residents on November 9 to evacuate their homes ahead of the demolition of their homes and structures, despite ongoing court proceedings.
___Israel wants to take over the land located in the occupied West Bank to build a new settlement on it.
___The ceremony . . . was attended by Adnan Husseini, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, Walid Assaf, Minister of Anti Wall and Settlements, Atalla Hanna, Archbishop of Sebastia, Rev. Jamal Khader, Latin Patriarchate . . .   and a number of diplomats and representatives of various Bedouin communities.
___During the opening ceremony, Minister Husseini reiterated the importance of celebrating Christmas during the latest developments in Jerusalem and noted that US President Donald Trump “wanted us to refrain from celebrating Christmas but despite of his decision we tell him that we will celebrate in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jabal al Baba and everywhere because we are ambassadors of peace.”   MORE . . . 
.  .  .  .  .  ❶  ―  (ᴀ)  CHRISTMAS  IN  BETHLEHEM:  HOW  TRUMP’S  MOVE  RUINED  IT
Al Jazeera English
Dec. 20, 2017 ― President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital looms large in Christmas festivities this year in the traditional birthplace of Jesus.
___Some food vendors, sellers of holiday trinkets and a leading hotelier in biblical Bethlehem say Palestinian protests, triggered by what many here view as a provocative show of pro-Israel bias, have hurt their Christmas business.
___Yet Bethlehem also offers a stage for a Palestinian rebuttal: banners proclaiming Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Palestine have been draped over facades on Manger Square as a backdrop for Christmas TV broadcasts to a global audience.
[. . . .] Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was to have received Vice President Mike Pence, a devout Christian, in Bethlehem, but cancelled after the US pivot on Jerusalem. The snub came as Abbas rejected Washington as a Middle East broker.
___Meanwhile, Bethlehem’s flagship luxury hotel, the 250-bed Jacir Palace, closed because of frequent nearby clashes. General manager Marwan Kittani said the hotel had been fully booked for Christmas, but that he is now assessing day by day if he can reopen.   MORE . . . 
❷ PLO:  US  BULLYING  WILL  NOT  DETER  UN  MEMBER  STATES  FROM  VOTING  AGAINST  JERUSALEM  DECISION
Ma’an News Agency
Dec. 21, 2017 ― The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) slammed the US for threatening to take action against countries that vote in favor of a United Nations (UN) resolution that condemns the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
[. . . . ] US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley exercised the US’ veto power on Monday at the UN Security Council (UNSC) to kill a resolution critical of Trump’s unilateral move. The veto blocked the resolution, despite the 14 other members of the Security Council voting in favor.
___Another meeting was called to vote on a resolution calling for annulling the US decision, this time, to the General Assembly where US does not have a veto power. . . .    ___Ahead of the vote the US said that it would “take names” and possibly cut donor funding to those countries who voted against it.    MORE . . . 
.  .  .  .  .  ❷  ―  (ᴀ)  ABBAS  TO  ARRIVE  IN  FRANCE  FOR  TALKS  WITH  FRENCH  COUNTERPART
Palestine News and Information Agency – WAFA
Dec. 21, 2017 ― President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to arrive in Paris on Thursday for a two-day official visit during which he will meet his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, according to Palestine’s ambassador to France Salman al-Harfi.
___He told Voice of Palestine radio that Abbas and his French counterpart will meet on Friday morning to discuss the implications of US President Donald Trump’s decision recognizing Jerusalem as capital of Israel.   MORE . . . 

Pullan, Wendy. “BIBLE  AND  GUN:  MILITARISM  IN  JERUSALEM’S  HOLY  PLACES.”
SPACE & POLITY, vol. 17, no. 3, Dec. 2013, pp. 335-356.
[. . . .] It is once again possible to re-assess the sword and scroll relationship to suggest that rather than being equal to or led by armed struggle, religion has becoming a primary driving force in Israeli militarism. In reference to the dominant settler movements, Feige explains “the fusion of the political and the religious [as a] religious dictim in the eyes of the believers”. In broader terms . . .  the nation’s shift from a “national security religion [to a] national religious culture” favouring the creation and maintenance of a Greater Israel as derived from biblical ideals. It would be wrong to belittle Israel’s emphasis upon security, which still dominates most political and military thinking; as an over-riding concept, and a threat, it is regularly used to enlist the support of secular Jews and alienate Palestinians . . .  emphasis upon a new aggressiveness in the name of religion shows the concept to have altered to mean the security of the Jewish nation and the biblical Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael). This thinking dominates not just the fighting of wars, but it carries with it an ideology that permeates the practice of everyday life . . .  it dominates the form and meaning of major Jewish holy places within the urban character and spatial structure of Jerusalem.
___To a fair extent, and in religious circles, national religious Jews have taken the upper hand from the ultra-orthodox groups, or haredim. The differences between the two are not always distinct, but it is possible to say that generally the latter believe in redemption realised in God’s own time and unaffected by human interference, whereas for national religious adherents, all of the Land of Israel is considered God-given, carrying an obligation for Jews to redeem it by human hands. This may be accomplished by violence if necessary, regardless of who lives there or has previous claims on the land or ownership of property. The difference between the two groups is well summarised by the criticism of national religious groups by a haredi rabbi: “instead of adapting their ideology to Judaism, they wish to adapt Judaism to their ideology.”

❸ ISRAEL  BEGINS  CONSTRUCTION  OF  SEPARATION  WALL  IN  BETHLEHEM-AREA  VILLAGE 
Ma’an News Agency 
Dec. 21, 2017 ― Israeli authorities have reportedly began construction on a portion of Israel’s illegal separation wall on lands of the Tuqu town in eastern Bethlehem, in the southern occupied West Bank, on Thursday.
___Locals told Ma’an that Israeli bulldozers entered the town early Thursday morning and began placing cement blocks in northern Tuqu.
___According to locals, the wall would swallow up what’s left of agricultural lands belonging to the residents of Tuqu, after Israel confiscated large portions of land for the construction nearby illegal settlement of Tekoa.
___Israel’s separation wall, expected to reach 708 kilometers upon its completion — 88 percent of which is planned inside occupied Palestinian territory, is a common sight in the occupied West Bank, where Israeli-installed cement walls and barrier fences zig zag throughout the landscape.    MORE . . . 
.  .  .  .  .  ❸  ―  (ᴀ)  NEW  SYNAGOGUE  UNDER  WESTERN  WALL  UNVEILED,  $50M  TO  BE  ALLOCATED  FOR  “TEMPLE  MOUNT  EXPLORATIONS” 
The Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU) 
Dec. 20, 2017 ― Israeli authorities, today, unveiled a new Jewish synagogue under Al-Buraq Wall – known to Jews as the Western Wall – in occupied East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.    “Following 12 years of construction, the new synagogue was opened on Monday evening,” the Heritage Foundation of the Western Wall, an Israeli governmental body, said in a statement.
[. . . .]  In a statement, Sheikh Ekrema Sabri, head of Jerusalem’s Supreme Islamic Council and a former Al-Aqsa imam, stressed that the Al-Buraq Wall was a component of the Al-Aqsa’s western wall.
[. . . . ]“All new construction by the [Israeli] occupation authorities in Jerusalem is illegitimate and lacks a historical basis,” Sabri said, adding that the holy city “cannot be partitioned”.    MORE . . .  

“FIRST VISIT TO THE CAMP D’HAISHA, BETHLEHEM,”
BY RABBI RACHEL BARENBLAT

There are no canvas tents.
The buildings don’t look
so bad, standard issue
developing-world
cement block structures

until I try to imagine
eleven thousand people
in one square kilometer,
one in every minyan
an angry alumnus

of the Israeli jails.
What do I know
about settlers or rock-throwers,
one state, two state
impossibilities?

But our grandparents
didn’t escape the ghettos
of Europe’s worst era
only to create new ones
for somebody else.

When we depart
I’m saddened, troubled
but perfectly able
to order a cold beer
and make conversation.

The sorrow and the fury
dormant overnight
explode the next day.
Even Shabbat can’t soothe
my lacerated heart.

From BEFORE THERE IS NOWHERE TO STAND: PALESTINE ISREL POETS RESPOND TO THE STRUGGLE. Ed. By Joan Dobbie and Grace Beeler. Sandpoint ID: Lost Horse Press, 2012.  Available from B&N.
Rachel Barenblat was ordained a rabbi in January 2011 through the Alliance for Jewish Renewal.
She holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and is the author of 4 chapbooks of poetry. Her poems have appeared in a variety of journals including The Texas Observer. She lives in western Massachusetts. She blogs as The Velveteen Rabbi. For her observations of the situation in Palestine, see her post from 2014.

 

“. . . Next to the great room we call our country . . .” (Mourid Barghouti)

❶ Palestinians across the West Bank, Jerusalem protest Trump’s decision
. . . . . ❶ ― (ᴀ) Over 50 injured, 9 with live ammunition, in clashes across Palestinian territory
. . . . . ❶ ― (ᴃ) Israeli arrest campaign waged in anticipation of ‘day of rage’
. . . . . ❶ ― (ᴄ) Israeli Soldiers Isolate Kufur Qaddoum
❷ Israel to construct 14,000 settlement units in Jerusalem

  • Background: “Divided We Rise: Politics, Architecture and Vertical Cityscapes at Opposite Ends of Jerusalem.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.

❸ REACTIONS TO TRUMP’S DECISION
❹ POETRY by Mourid Barghouti
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
PALESTINIANS  ACROSS  THE  WEST  BANK,  JERUSALEM  PROTEST  TRUMP’S  DECISION  
Palestine News and Information Agency – WAFA 
Dec. 8, 2017 ― Thousands of Palestinians across the West Bank and East Jerusalem marched in protest of US President Donald Trump’s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and plans to move the US embassy.
___The protestors headed to Israeli checkpoints in several districts to express condemnation and rejection of the illegal move. In Ramallah district, hundreds gathered after the Friday prayer and marched to al-Bireh’s northern entrance, where clashes erupted with Israeli soldiers.   MORE . . .
. . . . . ❶ ― (ᴀ)  OVER  50  INJURED,  9  WITH  LIVE  AMMUNITION,  IN  CLASHES  ACROSS  PALESTINIAN  TERRITORY   
Ma’an News Agency
Dec. 7, 2017 ― The number of injured Palestinians continues to climb on Thursday as clashes with Israeli forces continue to escalate across the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
___Palestinian and world leaders warned Trump against making the announcement, for fear of instability and violence across the region that is now expected to continue in the days to come.
___9 injured with live ammunition [. . . .]   MORE . . .
. . . . . ❶―  (ᴃ)  ISRAELI  ARREST  CAMPAIGN  WAGED  IN  ANTICIPATION  OF  ‘DAY  OF  RAGE’   
The Palestinian Information Center
Dec. 8, 2017 ― The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) launched at dawn Friday a large-scale raid and arrest campaign in West Bank and Jerusalem as Palestinians declare a day of rage over US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
___Local sources affirmed that at least 16 Palestinian were detained in occupied Jerusalem, while ten others were arrested in Issawiya town after being brutally attacked.   MORE . . .
. . . . . ❶― (ᴄ) ISRAELI  SOLDIERS  ISOLATE  KUFUR  QADDOUM 
International Middle East Media Center – IMEMC  
Dec. 8, 2017 ― Earlier Friday, dozens of Israeli soldiers surrounded and isolated Kufur Qaddoum town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, ahead of the weekly protest against the Annexation Wall and colonies.
___The army stopped and searched dozens of cars, and interrogated many Palestinians, while inspecting their ID cards.
___Morad Eshteiwi, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Annexation Wall and Colonies in Kufur Qaddoum, said the army is trying to prevent the Palestinians, along with Israeli and international peace activists, from marching.   MORE . . .
ISRAEL  TO  CONSTRUCT  14,000  SETTLEMENT  UNITS  IN  JERUSALEM
The Palestinian Information Center 
Dec. 8, 2017 ― Emboldened by US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Israeli government is considering pushing ahead with plans to build around new 14,000 settler units in the city.
___Under the plan, pursued by Israeli housing minister Yoav Galant, 5,000 units would be built in the northern parts of the city and just outside Ramallah, Israeli media reported Thursday night.
___There would be 1,000 units built in East Jerusalem, while the remaining 8,000 units were to be built in the city’s western neighborhoods.   MORE . . .

Rosen, Gillad and Igal Charney.
“DIVIDED  WE  RISE:  POLITICS,  ARCHITECTURE  AND  VERTICAL  CITYSCAPES  AT  OPPOSITE  ENDS  OF  JERUSALEM.”
TRANSACTIONS OF THE INSTITUTE OF BRITISH GEOGRAPHERS, vol. 41, no. 2, Apr. 2016, pp. 163-174.
[. . . .] Since 1967 Palestinian East Jerusalem is to a large extent a construct of Israeli power and political domination. To strengthen control over annexed lands in East Jerusalem, Israel has been manipulating planning policies and procedures. . .  decisions are highly political and reflect the state’s power to . . .  determine what is acceptable and what is not, and direct which forms of informality will thrive and which will disappear.
___For almost 50 years, Israel has enforced a discriminatory planning regime that has systematically delegitimised Palestinian development rights, restricting the growth of Palestinian communities. Planning policies and practices in these areas have been largely subordinated to the ethno-national aspirations and geopolitical territorial claims of Israel, which have intentionally ignored the development needs of Palestinians. A Palestinian planning rights advocate explained this reality: ‘Palestinians do not exist for the Israeli planning system in Jerusalem . . . they are neither partners nor participants in planning agendas and procedures’, thus making them practically invisible to the Israeli planning authorities.
___Permissive approaches to tall-building development in West Jerusalem and in Jewish neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem make discrimination against Palestinians even blunter. It is nothing but preposterous to apply the anachronistic limit of four to six storeys to most Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem. . . .  As a planner from a human right advocacy group explained, this situation is actually ‘another tool of Israeli occupation which exploits and marginalises the Palestinian population of East Jerusalem’.   [. . . .]  SOURCE . . .    ..

REACTIONS  TO  TRUMP’S  DECISION
Arab League says Trump’s decision on Jerusalem inflames tension   MORE . . .    ..
Ambassador: EU will not transfer embassy to Jerusalem   MORE . . .    ..
Pakistan condemns US move, calls it violation of Security Council’s resolutions MORE . . .
South Africa: US Unilateral Decision Undermines Middle East Peace Process    MORE . . .
Norway warns of increased instability following Trump’s decision     MORE . . .
Abbas meets King Abdullah II to discuss Jerusalem developments     MORE . . .
‘If these decisions go into effect my life here will become like a prison’: Palestinians in Jerusalem respond to Trump    MORE . . .

“IN THE NEIGHBORING ROOM,” BY MOURID BARGHOUTI
Next to
our nation’s bedroom,
Next to
the 5 a.m. orchestra, when
upright and in a hurry
the farm-worker goes out
and the 5 p.m. flute, when

bent and dumb
he comes back

Next to
the room of hope and despair,
the family prayers,
the silence of nurses
and the dry branch,
motionless on clean sheets

Next to
the poet’s room
where words are dogs
or birds:
with his stick
he drives the assaulting dogs away,
his hand opens
to throw barley to the birds
and he waits

Next to
the interrogation room
packed with the stupidity of screams
and the cunning
of the iron chains

Next to
the grandmother
squatting near the clay oven
watching the interaction between
a loaf of bread
and the flames

Next to
the maternity ward

He sits
with strong muscles
and tools and weapons
ready to help:
he thinks of us a lot
he looks after us
like an indispensable
head of the family

Next to
the great room we call our country

Death
stays up, active
for our sake.

From Barghouti, Mourid. MIDNIGHT AND OTHER POEMS. Trans. Radwa Ashour. Todmorden, UK: Arc Publications, 2008. Available from Barnes and Noble.  A biographical essay about Mourid Barghouti.