“. . . At night, we wait for dreams, dressed up as priestesses of fog. . .” (Sami Muhanna)

Al-Aqsa Mosques (NE exposure)
Al-Aqsa Mosques (NE exposure)

from MA’AN NEWS AGENCY
JEWISH RIGHTISTS TOUR AL-AQSA COMPOUND, ASSAULT PALESTINIAN WOMEN
Sunday, March 22, 2015

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Dozens of ultra-Orthodox Jews toured the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday morning under the protection of Israeli forces, while Israeli police detained Palestinians even as groups of settlers reportedly assaulted worshipers nearby.

A spokesman for the Jerusalem office of the Palestinian Ministry of Endowments told Ma’an that 127 “extremist Jewish settlers” entered the compound via the Moroccan Gate in groups.
[. . . ]
One of the settlers tried to “tear off his clothes inside the compound before security guards intervened and stopped him,” said an eyewitness, who told Ma’an he believed the act was part of religious ritual.

Israeli police officers, who entered the compound to protect the settlers, chased Palestinian worshipers including children and women.
[. . . ]
Settlers also assaulted a group of Palestinian women outside the Chain Gate who were unable to access the compound after an Israeli court decision banned them from visiting the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. [See next item for background.]
(More. . . . )

from MA’AN NEWS AGENCY
ISRAEL COURT BANS 4 WOMEN FROM ENTERING AQSA COMPOUND
Thursday, February 26, 2015

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — An Israeli court on Thursday banned four Palestinian women from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for periods of between 10 and 60 days, a lawyer said.

The women were detained on Wednesday as they were leaving the holy site and taken for interrogation at a local police station, lawyer Ramze Kteilat told Ma’an.
[. . . ]
It is unclear why the women were banned.
(More. . . )

Israeli Soldiers blockading entrance to Al-Aqsa Mosque
Israeli Soldiers blockading entrance to Al-Aqsa Mosque

from PALESTINE NEWS AND INFORMATION AGENCY – WAFA
PALESTINIANS DECRY ISRAELI COURT’S RULING TO UPHOLD JEWISH PRAYER IN AL-AQSA COMPOUND
JERUSALEM,
March 4, 2015
Palestinian organizations criticized the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruling which ostensibly backs claims that Jews are allowed to pray in al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

While Jewish extremists praised the ruling and considered it a “historic victory” as Israeli media sources reported, al-Aqsa Foundation for Islamic Waqf and Heritage published a report claiming that the move aims to legalize Jewish control over the Islamic site.

On Sunday, Judge Malka Aviv said the police ban on far-right extremist Yehudah Glick visiting the compound was issued “without appropriate consideration, was arbitrary, and only out of concern for the consequences of the broadcast.”
[. . . ]
The extremist Glick, who is known for his regular attempts to legalize prayer at the compound, was banned by the Israeli police from entering the compound and attempting to pray there, as the action will “inevitably” trigger Palestinians.
[. . . ]
And the judge insisted that Jews have a right to pray in the compound. Following the ruling, Glick’s lawyer said, “Starting from today, all Jews are allowed to pray on the Temple Mount. There is no longer any crime in prayer itself.” While Jews considered the ruling as a first step that will eventually allow all Jews to pray in the compound, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has “committed to upholding the so-called status quo” in November 2014.
(More. . . )

from THE ELECTRONIC INTIFADA
Opinion/Editorial
THE MESSAGES FROM ISRAEL’S ELECTION
Ilan Pappe
Friday, March 20, 2015
Those of us who know the nature of the beast could not have been surprised by the results of the Israeli election.

Like many of my friends, I was also relieved that a liberal Zionist government was not elected. It would have allowed the charade of the “peace process” and the illusion of the two-state solution to linger on while the suffering of the Palestinians continues.

As always, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself provided the inevitable conclusion when he declared the end of the two-state solution — inviting us all to the long overdue funeral of an ill-conceived idea that provided Israel with international immunity for its colonialist project in Palestine.

The power of the charade was on show when the world and local pundits unrealistically predicted a victory for liberal Zionism, an Israeli ideological trend that is near extinction — embodied by the Zionist Union list headed by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni.
(More. . . )

from THIS WEEK IN PALESTINE
JERUSALEM OF THE SPIRIT: SUFISM, MYSTICISM, AND THE SUBLIME
Dr. Ali Qleibo
Issue #203, March 2015
The mere name, Al-Quds, triggers an emotional, affectional upsurge in every Muslim heart and mind, wherein nostalgia, piety, and the love of God and his prophet Mohammed meet. Pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad is a spiritual journey leading to a process of religious transformation, and touching the deepest aspects of the human spirit. It is a mystical rite of passage that promotes one’s personal connection with God.

The lore of Jerusalem as the axis mundi –the symbolic center of the world where the four compass directions meet– reverberates throughout Islamic history. Inspired by Prophet Mohammad’s Night Journey to Jerusalem to connect with God, the pious believe that travel and correspondence between Heaven and Earth, between the higher and lower realms, is possible at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Communication from the lower realms may ascend to the higher ones, and blessings from the higher realms may descend to the lower realms. Jerusalem functions as the omphalos (navel), the world’s point of beginning, inflaming Muslim passion with yearning for the holy city.
(More. . . )
Dr. Ali Qleibo is an anthropologist, author, and artist. A specialist in the social history of Jerusalem and Palestinian peasant culture, he is the author of Before the Mountains Disappear, Jerusalem in the Heart, and Surviving the Wall, an ethnographic chronicle of contemporary Palestinians and their roots in ancient Semitic civilisations. Dr. Qleibo lectures at Al-Quds University.


“RHYTHMS OF THE NIGHT,” BY SAMI MUHANNA

At night the heavens come closer
to wolves.
At night, quiet is transparent,
treads on the carpet of the horizon of contemplation,
sees nothing but the breadth of its imagination.
At night, we listen to breaking hearts,
we grieve with the spirit’s dove,
we embrace our dreams.
At night, we remember and visualize,
mix colours into a paste of old wishes.
At night, we hear our true voice.
Night listens for childhood, in case it returns
and for love on the cusp of desire.
Night is the pulpit of our silence.
At night, directions don’t work.
At night, we lessen leaving
to the width of windows.
At night, we wait for dreams, dressed up
as priestesses of fog.
At night, details, distance and secrets encompass
the realm of infatuation.
Night writes
Without the restrictions
Of rhyme.

Translated by Katherine Sowerby
From A Bird Is not a Stone
Sami Muhanna is a poet and lawyer, and president and founder of the Arab Writers Union in Haifa. He is active in Palestinian political and academic affairs inside Israel.

Israeli security forces stand guard as Palestinian Muslim worshipers perform traditional Friday prayers in a street outside the Old City in east Jerusalem on October 17, 2014. The Israeli government has restricted access to the mosque for men under 50 years of age.
Israeli security forces stand guard as Palestinian Muslim worshipers perform traditional Friday prayers in a street outside the Old City in east Jerusalem on October 17, 2014. The Israeli government has restricted access to the mosque for men under 50 years of age.

“The reason, see, is that I am an Arab. . .” (Fouzi El-Asmar)

Harvesting tomatoes in Gaza
Harvesting tomatoes in Gaza

from DALLAS MORNING NEWS
GAZA EXPORTS FIRST PRODUCE TO ISRAEL SINCE HAMAS TAKEOVER
By Fares Akram, Associated Press
Mar. 12, 2015
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli authorities allowed the import of Gaza produce on Thursday for the first time since Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007, a move that will aid Gaza’s battered economy and help pious Jews observe a biblical farming sabbatical.

Some 27 tons of tomatoes and five tons of eggplants were cleared to leave Gaza for Israel, Palestinian officials and Gaza merchants said.

“Exporting to Israel is better, but insufficient,” said Gaza merchant Hosni Shehada, who oversaw the preparation of half-ripe tomatoes and large eggplants for export at his warehouse.

Before Hamas took over the seaside territory nearly eight years ago, Gaza merchants used to export hundreds of tons of vegetables to Israel on a daily basis. (More. . .)

from MA’AN NEWS AGENCY
15-YEAR-OLD PALESTINIAN ENTERS 76TH DAY IN ISRAELI CUSTODY
March 12, 2015
Fifteen-year-old Palestinian Khalid Hussam al-Sheikh entered his 76th day in Israeli custody on Wednesday after he was

Khalid Hussam al-Sheikh entered his 76th day in Israeli custody
Khalid Hussam al-Sheikh entered his 76th day in Israeli custody

sentenced to four months jail time and given a 2,000 shekel ($495) fine for throwing rocks and burning tires.

Al-Sheikh’s family told the Ahrar Center for Prisoners Studies and Human Rights that Khalid was not medically treated by Israel since he was detained on Dec. 25, 2014 despite the fact that he suffers from anemia. (More. . .)

from INTERNATIONAL MIDDLE EAST MEDIA CENTER
ARMY KIDNAPS NINE PALESTINIANS IN JERUSALEM AND NABLUS
by IMEMC & Agencies
March 12, 2015
Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Wednesday evening, three young Palestinians including a 10-year old child, and four women, in occupied East Jerusalem, in addition two Palestinians near the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
Amjad Abu ‘Asab, head of the Jerusalem Detainees Committee, said the Police kidnapped Mohammad ‘Awad, 17, and Nour az-Zaghal, 17, from Ras al-‘Amoud neighborhood in Silwan. (More. . .)

Funeral of Tawfiq Abu Riyala, Gaza
Funeral of Tawfiq Abu Riyala, Gaza

from MONDOWEISS
ISRAEL SHOT AT GAZA FISHERMEN 5 TIMES IN FIRST 7 DAYS OF MARCH, KILLING 1, INJURING 2
Ben Norton
March 11, 2015
Israeli forces shot at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Gaza on 7 March, killing one, a man by the name of Tawfiq Abu Riyala. Two fishers were also arrested.

Associated Press implied that it was not a purposeful attack on the part of Israel, and that the innocent fisherman was to blame for his own death, writing: “It was not clear how the fisherman ended up in the line of fire.” Such an attack on defenseless, unsuspecting fishermen is not uncommon, however. Not by any means.

According to the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, since the summer 2014 ceasefire agreement, in at least 10 incidents, Israel has injured 17 Palestinian fishers and detained 49 more. (More. . .)

from MONDOWEISS (Opinion)
BY BUSTING UP PEACE EFFORTS, AIPAC MAY HAVE BURST ITS OWN BUBBLE
Medea Benjamin
March 11, 2015
Early in the morning of March 3, on AIPAC’s national lobby day and just hours before Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was set to address the joint session of Congress, AIPAC President Robert Cohen, along with the group’s Policy Director and two associates, briskly approached the Congressional office of Speaker of the House John Boehner. To their horror, they found the office locked and surrounded by crowd of CODEPINK activists staging a sit-in to protest the Netanyahu speech. . .

When finally cornered after seeking refuge in the office of Congressman Steve Stivers, the policy director agreed to talk to the CODEPINK group. But he kept repeating the mantra that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism and as such, cannot be trusted in a nuclear deal.

This is the AIPAC line, and its strategy is to sabotage the negotiations . . . there is speculation that AIPAC was behind the letter by 47 Republican senators to the Iran government . . . AIPAC’s underhanded efforts to scuttle talks with Iran threaten to move us down a dangerous path towards war. But it’s not just AIPAC’s position on Iran that poses a threat to peace. AIPAC tries to undermine any attempts by the Palestinians to take their grievances to the international community. (More . . .)

“Because I Am an Arab,” Fouzi El-Asmar
I sit in preventive detention.
The reason, see, is that I am an Arab.
An Arab who has refused to sell his soul
who has always striven, sir, for freedom.
An Arab who has protested at the suffering of his people
Who has carried with him the hope of a just peace,
Who has spoken out against death at every corner
Who has called for and has lived a life of brotherhood.
That is why I sit in preventive detention
Because I carried on the struggle
And because I am an Arab.

Born in Haifa, Palestine, Dr. El-Asmar grew up in a Palestinian area of Israel. In 1958, he became a member of the editorial board of the literary monthly, Al-Fajr, and in 1966 he became editor of the Arabic magazine, Hadha-al-Alam. He attended Central Connecticut State University (then Central Connecticut State College) and received his B.A. degree there with honors in 1975. He subsequently earned a Ph.D. from the University of Exeter in England.Then in 1979, he became the managing editor of the London-based international newspaper, Asharq Al-Awsat.

Dr. El-Asmar lectured and taught at a number of universities, including St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, and Bradford University in England, and the American University in Washington, D.C. He held dual Israeli and U.S. citizenship and resided in Bethesda, Maryland.

“. . .hotels for wishes that never give birth. . .” (Rashid Hussein)

Has the Pilgrimage been hijacked?
Has the Pilgrimage been hijacked?

from THE PALESTINE CHRONICLE
ISRAEL’S ARAB POLITICAL PARTIES UNITED FOR FIRST TIME
March 11, 2015
A coalition of once fractious Arab parties is suddenly emerging as Israel’s newest power bloc, forcing the Jewish state to pay attention to its large Arab minority as never before.

If polls taken ahead of next week’s general election are accurate, Arab Israelis could end up heading the third-largest political faction in Israel’s next parliament, giving a voice to the often-sidelined Arab population.

It’s a remarkable of twist of fate for Israel’s 1.7 million Arabs, who make up roughly 20 percent of the country’s population and have never had much political clout. (More. . .)

from THE ELECTRONIC INTIFADA
THE FRAT BOYS WHO SLANDER PALESTINE SOLIDARITY
Rania Khalek and Nora Barrows-Friedman
March 10, 2015
Last month the student court at the University of California at Davis overturned a recently approved resolution to divest from companies that profit from Israeli violations of Palestinians’ rights.

Determining that the resolution was “unconstitutional,” the student court’s ruling was based on a complaint made by Jonathan Mitchell, a former student body senator and former board member of the campus chapter of a right-wing Jewish fraternity.

The fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), has close ties to Israel lobby groups intent on crushing the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. (More. . .)

from MONDOWEISS
ISRAEL’S FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS FOR BEHEADING ARAB CITIZENS AND IT’S NOT ANYWHERE IN THE NEW YORK TIMES
Scott Roth and Phil Weiss
March 10, 2015

Two days ago Israel’s foreign minister called for beheading Arab citizens of Israel who are “against us.” Haaretz did the story yesterday. So did Newsweek.

Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman has said that Arab citizens who are not loyal to the state of Israel should have their heads “chopped off with an axe”.

The minister, leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party and an outspoken critic of Israel’s Arab population, made the controversial remarks on Sunday in a speech to an election rally held in the western Israeli city of Herzliya ahead of the March 17 vote.

“Those who are with us deserve everything, but those who are against us deserve to have their heads chopped off with an axe,” the ultra-nationalist politician said. (More. . .)

from THIS WEEK IN PALESTINE
HAS THE PILGRIMAGE BEEN HIJACKED?
Richard LeSueur
March 2015
The travel industry has discovered a new word, “pilgrimage.” What was commonly marketed in previous years as a “Tour to the Holy Land” is today promoted as a “Pilgrimage to the Holy Land.” Has anything changed? Not really. The itineraries read the same: the frenetic pace, glossy hotels, air conditioned coaches, sumptuous meals, ample shopping opportunities, and the blur of sites. One might ask then, what do these tours have to do with the ancient practice of pilgrimage? Is this simply a marketing scheme to add sticker value and appeal to religious clients? Has the pilgrimage been hijacked for consumerist ends? Is there a difference between tourism and pilgrimage?

For more than twenty-five years I have been facilitating programs of Christian pilgrimage primarily in the Middle East. Pilgrimage is not tourism. Pilgrimage may involve elements of tourism common to all travel, but it is an ancient, soulful way of approaching a land, its peoples, and its story. Pilgrimage is different from tourism in its intention, design, collective rituals, and the principles that underlie the day-to-day experience. (More. . .)

Print
INTRODUCING THE BDS MOVEMENT
The global movement for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights was initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005, and is coordinated by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), established in 2007. BDS is a strategy that allows people of conscience to play an effective role in the Palestinian struggle for justice.

. . . On July 9 2005, a year after the International Court of Justice’s historic advisory opinion on the illegality of Israel’s Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), a clear majority of Palestinian civil society called upon their counterparts and people of conscience all over the world to launch broad boycotts, implement divestment initiatives, and to demand sanctions against Israel, until Palestinian rights are recognized in full compliance with international law. (More. . .)

“WITHOUT A PASSPORT,” BY RASHID HUSSEIN

I was born without a passport
I grew up
and saw my country
become prisons
without a passport

So I raised a country
a sun
and wheat
in every house
I tended to the trees therein
I learned how to write poetry
to make the people of my village happy
without a passport

I learned that he whose land is stolen
does not like the rain
If he were ever to return to it, he will
without a passport

But I am tired of minds
that have become hotels
for wishes that never give birth
except with a passport

Without a passport
I came to you
and revolted against you
so slaughter me
perhaps I will then feel that I am dying
without a passport

Translated by Sinan Antoon. From Rashid Hussein, Al-A`mal al-Shi`riyya (al-Taybe: Markaz Ihya’ al-Turath al-`Arabi, 1990)
Rashid Hussein (1936-1977) was born in Musmus, Palestine. He published his first collection in 1957 and established himself as a major Palestinian poet and orator. He participated in founding the Land Movement in 1959. He left in 1966 and lived in Syria and Lebanon and later in New York City where he died in February, 1977. He was buried a week later in Musmus. His funeral was attended by thousands of Palestinians.

A view "Pilgrims" never see.
A view “Pilgrims” never see.