“. . . In the middle of a siege it’s still possible to dream . . .” (Samih Faraj)

me-cremisan-001
The Apartheid Wall at Cremisan with Palestinian olive trees beyond and new construction in foreground. Israelis-only bypass road to illegal settlement above (Photo: Harold Knight, Nov. 8, 2015.)

❶ Palestinians mourn final Cremisan Valley olive harvest

  • Background: “Bethlehem’s Wall.” America

❷ Zionist Settlers Assault 3 Palestinian Farmers in West Bank
❸ Extremist settlers reap profits from occupied Jerusalem sites
❹ POETRY by Samih Faraj
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
PALESTINIANS  MOURN  FINAL  CREMISAN  VALLEY  OLIVE  HARVEST  
Al Jazeera English
Extension of Israel’s separation wall will soon cut Palestinians off from the valley’s distinctive olive groves.  
Sheren Khalel
Nov. 4, 2016
The rocky terraces of the Cremisan Valley are mostly overgrown and wild these days, as local landowners say they have lost all hope of keeping control over the more than 300 hectares of olive trees and orchards along the sloping mount, confiscated by the Israeli government earlier this year.
___”I haven’t been here at all this year. Look how the weeds have grown over, and trash from the street has piled up,” Ricardo Jaweejat said, motioning towards the vast olive grove that has belonged to his family for generations.
___”What’s the point? When we learned the Israelis were taking the land, I avoided doing anything with it. It’s a little bit dangerous to be here now.”
___Beit Jala olives are known by Palestinians around the world for producing the finest olive oil, and the oil from the city’s Cremisan Valley is considered to be the best of Beit Jala, a district of the Bethlehem municipality in the southern occupied West Bank. This year is expected to be the last chance to harvest olives from the valley, which will soon be blocked off by an extension of Israel’s separation wall.  More . . .

  • Ivereigh, Austen. “Bethlehem’s Wall.” America 199.5 (2008): 15-17.  Full Article 

The Salesians who make wine at the Cremisan estate, located on the terraced hillsides to the west of Bethlehem, live in the path of the wall. They cannot stop its expansion; they have a settlement behind them, far into the West Bank, and the wall is designed to ensure that the settlements are included within the Israeli border—when that is finally agreed upon. The Vatican has added its voice to the international condemnation, but until Israel implements the 2001 Fundamental Agreement with the Holy See, the juridical status of the Catholic Church is at best fragile and its power to negotiate limited. Israel has agreed to a Vatican request not to divide church lands that lie beneath the path of the wall, so when the wall is extended later this year, Cremisan will be cut off from Bethlehem—depriving the town of one of its oldest and popular landmarks—and from the Palestinian workers on whom the winery depends. “We are negotiating to allow the workers to come each day through the wall,” says Father Luciano, an elderly Italian Salesian at Cremisan. “But everything is very uncertain. It is a great weight on us.”
[. . . . ]  The wall is strangling Bethlehem and its Christian population. It will come down only when Christian public opinion in the United States awakens to that fact and issues an S.O.S. for the birth town of Christianity, putting pressure on Washington to enforce international law.
___But that means dispelling some deeply held myths. A 2006 Zogby opinion poll commissioned by the campaign organization Open Bethlehem found that only 15 percent of Americans know that Bethlehem is a Palestinian town with a mixed Christian-Muslim Arab population in the occupied West Bank. Bethlehemites, when asked why Christians are leaving, point to the wall and speak about the land confiscations; yet most Americans believe Christians are being pushed out by “radical Muslims.” Most Americans simply do not realize that the wall is responsible for the destruction of the town’s Christian population; instead, they accept Israel’s argument that the wall was built to protect Israel from terrorist attacks, not to consolidate the illegal settlements and land annexations.

ZIONIST  SETTLERS  ASSAULT  3  PALESTINIAN  FARMERS  IN  WEST  BANK
Middle East News 17
Nov. 5, 2016
Three Palestinians were wounded, one critically, after being attacked by Israeli settlers on Saturday in the village of al-Janiya in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah.
___According to locals, Israeli settlers assaulted and threw rocks at members of the Abu Fekheideh family while they were picking olives on their land in the al-Batha area of the village, near the illegal Israeli settlement of Talmon.
___Jaber Barakat Abu Fekheideh was critically injured in the head, while his brother Hassan and cousin Muhammad were reported as mildly wounded.  More . . .

olive-injuries
Jaber Barakat Abu Fekheideh being treated for critical wounds in a Ramallah hospital after being attacked by Israeli settlers, Nov. 5, 2016 (Photo: Ma’an News Agency)

EXTREMIST  SETTLERS  REAP  PROFITS  FROM  OCCUPIED  JERUSALEM  SITES    Electronic Intifada  
Charlotte Silver
Nov. 3, 2016
Israel’s state comptroller has sharply criticized three government agencies for outsourcing the management of major archaeological excavations and sites in Jerusalem to Elad, a private organization that settles Jews in the militarily occupied eastern part of the city in violation of international law.
___The report says the Israel Antiquities Authority has not supervised Elad’s archaeological work, nor has the Israel Nature and Parks Authority supervised Elad’s management of the so-called City of David, a settlement containing an archaeological museum catering to tourists.
___The City of David settlement is located in the middle of the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem, and Elad asserts it is the ancient biblical City of King David mentioned in the second book of Samuel.    More . . .

“A WOMAN,” BY SAMIH FARAJ

Take one step towards the old house
And another down the stairs to the home
Where a woman sits in the early evening light:
Light, the radiance of a dove, shining;
Or light like the light from a shrine.
No one knows where she has come from –
Through which quarter or distant land she passed.
What shadow the light cast when she’d gone.
No one knows the flood she passed through –
The risks she took, the daily deluge.
No one can measure the vast sea she crossed,
The hazards she held in her small hands.
An ordinary woman: one step at a time, one step
On the land lacking, on the barren soil; one step
On the time passing; one step on the clock ticking.
Except for something in her now rising, hot, scolding,
Even her dreams are besieged, it seems; yet
In the middle of a siege it’s still possible to dream.
A dream of the old house, and her first step.
—Translated by Jackie Kay

Samih Faraj is a teacher in Deheishe Refugee Camp in Bethlehem and a lecturer at Hebron and Bethlehem Universities. He has been editor-in-chief of several journals, including VOICE OF THE NATION.
About education in Deheishe Refugee Camp.
Poem from A BIRD IS NOT A STONE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY PALESTINIAN POETRY (Glasgow: Freight Books, 2014) –available from Amazon.com.

“. . . faces struck dumb by what now unfolds under your skies . . .” (Mourid Barghouti)

Extension of Israeli Apartheid Wall in the Cremisan Valley (Photo: Harold Knight, Nov. 8, 2015)
Extension of Israeli Apartheid Wall in the Cremisan Valley (Photo: Harold Knight, Nov. 8, 2015)

❶ France calls on Israel to halt new construction of Cremisan Valley separation wall
❷ Israeli Soldiers Kidnap Eleven Palestinians in the West Bank
❸ Over 66% of Jewish Israelis agree with rabbi’s controversial statement
❹ Hamas slams detention of 3 Palestinians by PA as ‘collaboration’ with Israel
❺ Opinion/Analysis: A  NEW  PHASE  IN  ISRAEL’S  ‘LAWFARE’  STRATEGY’
❻ POETRY by Mourid Barghouti
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
FRANCE  CALLS  ON  ISRAEL  TO  HALT  NEW  CONSTRUCTION  OF  CREMISAN  VALLEY  SEPARATION  WALL
Ma’an News Agency
April 9, 2016
The French Foreign Ministry called on Israel to halt renewed construction of the Israeli separation wall in the southern occupied West Bank’s Cremisan Valley, according to a statement published Friday.
___“France is concerned by the Israeli authorities’ resumption of construction of the separation wall in the historical Cremisan Valley, which will affect several dozen Palestinian families in Beit Jala,” the statement read, referring to a Palestinian village west of Bethlehem city.
___“This wall is a new obstacle to economic and social development in the town of Bethlehem,” the ministry said.     MORE . . .

❷  ISRAELI  SOLDIERS  KIDNAP  ELEVEN  PALESTINIANS  IN  THE  WEST  BANK
International Middle East Media Center – IMEMC
April 10, 2016
Israeli soldiers kidnapped, late at night and on Sunday at dawn, at least eleven Palestinians, including children and a journalist, in different parts of the occupied West Bank, and summoned many for interrogation in a number of military centers. The soldiers also invaded and bulldozed farmlands, in Gaza.
___Several military vehicles invaded Silwad town, east of the central West bank city of Ramallah, searched many homes and kidnapped three Palestinians . . . .  in Deir Jarir town, east of Ramallah.
___The soldiers also invaded Zawiya town, in the central West Bank district of Salfit, and . . . In the southern West Bank district of Hebron, the soldiers kidnapped . . .
___The soldiers also summoned for interrogation the head of Palestine Detainees’ Center Osama Shahin, and Jaber Rajoub, from Doura. . . . In occupied Jerusalem, the soldiers kidnapped a child. . . .       MORE . . . 

OVER  66%  OF  JEWISH  ISRAELIS  AGREE  WITH  RABBI’S  CONTROVERSIAL  STATEMENT
The Middle East Monitor – MEMO
April 8, 2016
The majority (66.5 per cent) of Israel’s Jewish public agree that “it is a commandment to kill a terrorist who comes at you with a knife”, according to the latest Peace Index published by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University.      MORE . . .  

HAMAS  SLAMS  DETENTION  OF  3  PALESTINIANS  BY  PA  AS  ‘COLLABORATION’  WITH  ISRAEL
Ma’an News Agency
April 10, 2016
Palestinian security forces found and detained three Palestinians on Saturday who had been reported missing, in a move slammed by the Hamas movement as collaboration between PA and Israeli authorities to thwart a planned attack inside Israel.
___The Hamas movement responded to the incident, accusing the Palestinian security services of “cooperation with the Israeli occupation” in the detention of three “resistance fighters.”       MORE . . .

Entrance to Southampton University, latest battle in Israel’s “LAWFARE” Anti-BDS “front.”
Entrance to Southampton University, latest battle in Israel’s “LAWFARE” Anti-BDS “front.”

Opinion/Analysis:  A  NEW  PHASE  IN  ISRAEL’S  ‘LAWFARE’  STRATEGY
The Middle East Monitor – MEMO
Asa Winstanley
April 9, 2016
For the last decade, a central plank of Israel’s strategy to combat its global critics has been something it terms “lawfare” – using courts around the world to attack, defame, silence and intimidate its enemies.
___Since Israel is addicted to real life war, it’s no surprise to find that even its diplomats and ambassadors are seemingly unable to think and act in terms other than purely military ones . . .  Take its response to the BDS campaign – the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel until it respects Palestinian human rights.
___A reporter for liberal Israeli daily Haaretz, on a recent visit to the Israeli embassy in London, noted a map that was “like the war room of a brigade on the Lebanese border.” This map showed the “front” (another military term) which consists of “the main campuses, the deployment of pro-Israel activists and the location of the ‘enemy forces.’”      MORE . . .
BACKGROUND . . .
AND . . .

Excerpted from  “MIDNIGHT,”  BY  MOURID  BARGHOUTI

You, whose mother gave birth to you
in the homestead of the Orient,
surrounded by poems and age-old laws,
you’ll continue to see faces
carved by ancient chisels,
in the presence of which the beards of ages have gone grey,
faces which now forsake the stacked mud tablets
on the shelves of Babylon,
faces emerging from the memory of two rivers ―
their blueness did not last long ―
and from the temples whose pillars
are now broken like reeds,
faces struck dumb by what now unfolds under your skies.
They look up to see only
hanging ropes
which topple imagination from its saddle,
or, with huge rubbers,
erase thought.

Mourid al-Barghouti was born in 1944 in the village of Deir Ghassaneh near Ramallah, and lived most of his life in exile. He has a BA in English literature from Cairo University. He worked as a teacher in Kuwait and Cairo, in Budapest as PLO representative and in Cairo as a radio journalist with “Palestine Radio”. He has published 13 collections of poetry, and his collected works. He won the AUC 1997 Naguib Mahfouz Literature Prize for his autobiographical novel Ra’aytu Ramallah (I Saw Ramallah), and in 2000 the Palestine Award for Poetry. He lives in Cairo.   On Facebook
On Wikipedia
Another of Barghouti’s poems

From Barghouti, Mourid. MIDNIGHT  AND  OTHER  POEMS. Trans. Radwa Ashour. Todmorden, UK: Arc Publications, 2008. Available from Amazon.

“. . . A people yearning for their usurped lands . . .” (Tawfiq Zayyad)

Destroyed buildings in front of a mosque in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanun a year after the war began. (AFP)
Destroyed buildings in front of a mosque in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanun a year after the war began. (AFP)

From MA’AN NEWS AGENCY
‘WE HAVE NO HAPPINESS NOW’: PALESTINIANS RECALL HORROR OF GAZA WAR
July 8, 2015
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — “Conditions are really tough here,” said 12-year-old Shadi Barakeh. “It’s cold at night and I’m afraid when I hear dogs bark and the wind whistle.”
____”The clothes I have on are the only ones I have left. I go to school in them and wear them in the tent, too.”
____The child’s account is among several testimonies collected by ISRAELI RIGHTS GROUP B’TSELEM looking back on a year since Israel began a bloody offensive on the Gaza Strip that ultimately left more than 2,200 Palestinians dead, most of them civilians.
____The testimonies paint a startling picture of the devastation wrought on ordinary Gazans’ lives during the 50-day conflict.
(More. . .)

From PALESTINE NEWS & INFORMATION AGENCY – WAFA
FOREIGN MINISTRY SLAMS ISRAEL’S DECISION TO EXTEND SEPARATION BARRIER INTO CREMISAN VALLEY
July 8, 2015
RAMALLAH (WAFA) – [Palestinian Authority] Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement released on Wednesday, condemned the Israeli government’s decision to build a new section of the Separation Wall in the Cremisan valley near the town of Beit Jala.
____It said the decision allows the confiscation of large swathes of private and state land, undermines the potential of a viable Palestinian state and paves the way for further settlement activities.
____“The building [of the fence] is an ‘assassination’ of the principle of a two-state solution in the full view of the world and the different countries,” the statement said.
____In December 2014, the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land (ACOHL) called for taking immediate action against extending the separation barrier into the Cremisan Valley.
(More. . .)

Winery of the Cremisan Brothers Roman Catholic monastery in the Cremisan Valley
Winery of the Cremisan Brothers Roman Catholic monastery in the Cremisan Valley

From MA’AN NEWS AGENCY
ISRAELI COMMITTEE APPROVES EXPANSION OF JERUSALEM SETTLEMENT
July 8, 2015
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — A researcher said Tuesday that an Israeli committee for zoning and planning has allocated private Palestinian land to expand the illegal French Hill settlement in East Jerusalem.
____Ahmad Sub Laban, a settlement affairs researcher, told Ma’an that 25 dunams (6 acres) of land from Shufat and al-Issawiya has been allocated to the the settlement area to establish a commercial zone.
____Palestinian residents of Shufat had been trying to obtain licenses to build on the land which was confiscated, but were denied permission by Israel’s Jerusalem municipality.
(More. . .)

❹ Opinion
From ALTERNATIVE INFORMATION CENTER (AIC)
CHALLENGING DISCOURSE OF OCCUPATION
Emma Flesche
June 30, 2015
Under international law, occupation is not illegal. There are, however, a number of restrictions and duties placed upon the occupier to ensure the rights of the civilian population of the occupied territory. . . .
____[The] Fourth Geneva Convention. . . [states] that “Occupation is only a temporary situation, and the rights of the occupant are limited to the extent of that period.” Furthermore, the Convention prohibits the forced displacement of the occupied population and confiscation of private property. . . .
____. . . . Israel has violated the rules applying to an occupation power. The occupation is not temporary, protection of civilian rights is not upheld, and forced displacement as well as confiscation of private property occurs regularly.
____Because occupations are not illegal, it is impossible for human rights and legal organisations to end them – it is possible to take Israel to court for war crimes, but not to end the occupation.
(More. . .)

❺ Opinion
From JADALIYYA (ARAB STUDIES INSTITUTE)
PALESTINIAN REFUGEES DESERVE TO LIVE IN DIGNITY
Chris Gunness
July 7, 2015
Allow me to introduce you to Baby Salma from Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza. She is dead. She died of hypothermia in January this year at just forty days old. Her body was drenched in freezing rainwater during the winter storm knows as Huda. Baby Salma was Huda’s youngest victim.
____I met Mirvat, Salma’s mother in Beit Hanoun along with sixteen members of her extended family living in what can only be described as an animal pen. Mirvat shares . . .
____ . . . to date not one single totally destroyed refugee home has been rebuilt. This is partly due to the lack of funds and partly because the residential stream of the mechanism – a simplified process for reconstructing houses — is yet to be finalized. Negotiations to deal with this are reportedly ongoing.
____They need a positive conclusion soon as today 120,000 people in Gaza are homeless – a figure that should shame the international system. It certainly hurts those of us who have advocated tirelessly for rapid steps to help the beleaguered people of Gaza move on in dignity.
(More. . .)

“CUBA,” BY TAWFIQ ZAYYAD

1

My friends in the fertile sugar fields
My friends in the oil refineries in proud Cuba
From my village, my precious home
I send you greetings:
Scented kisses―delicious boxes of sweets
I have for you bouquets of flowers
And songs of magic―the chirping of the birds
I wish I had wings―like an eagle
To carry these gifts.

2

The people of my village tell of many stories
About you.
They tell them proudly―with glowing eyes
With hearts beaming with joy and jealousy
On the golden hills they gather, at high noon,
Under the trees, in the pastures, in the humble lanes
Their conversation is a medley of fire and May, a moving song.
The people in my land love the truly heroic.
My friends who have filled the world with the fragrance of struggle
Keep up the pressure on the imperialists
They have cut my wings.
Within me lies the vengeance of a wounded people
Thrown into the streets
A people yearning for their usurped lands
Press on―the wings of the eagle are stronger
Than the hurricanes,
The imperialists do not understand
The language of humility and tears
They only understand the people surge
To the arena of struggle.

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

Born in the Galilee, Ziad studied literature in USSR.[2] After returning home, he was elected mayor of Nazareth on 9 December 1973, as head of Palestine 48 Rakah, a communist party, a victory that is said to have “surprised and alarmed” Israelis. Elected to the Knesset in the 1973 elections on Rakah’s list, Ziad was active in pressuring the Israeli government to change its policies towards Arabs –
(More. . .)
A popular revolutionary song in Palestine, words by Tawfiq Zayyad

‘I call to you all:
I take your hand and hold it tightly.
I kiss the ground on which you place your feet.
I know that for you I would give my life.
My life I would give for you.

I offer you the light of my eyes,
The fire of my heart:
For this pain that I suffer
Is only a small part of your pain.

I never have sold my country
And I have been willing to serve,
To face the invader with steadfastness and courage,
An orphan willing to die.

Carrying my people on my shoulders,
You will see my flag raised high,
And a mountain clothed in the green of the olive branch
For those who will come after.

I call to you all!’

French  Hill Settlement in East Jerusalem
French Hill Settlement in East Jerusalem