“. . . the bark of artillery came near to the flowers . . .” (Yousef Al-Mahmoud)

❶ Israel closes Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem
. . . . . ❶ ― (ᴀ) EU’s security committee discussed secret report on Israel, says official

  • Background: “State-Sponsored Vigilantism: Jewish Settlers’ Violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” Sociology.
    “. . . the Israeli state itself, assisted by its agents, works in collusion with the settlers, and maintains the structural preconditions for this provisional political activity. . .”

❷ UN report says at least 206 international companies tied to Israeli settlements
. . . . . ❷ ― (ᴀ) Haley slams UN anti-settlement report: It is a “waste of time”
❸ Israeli settlers attack Palestinian farmers north of Hebron
. . . . . ❸ ― (ᴀ) ‘Construction terror’ Israel’s metaphor for Palestinian displacement
❹ POETRY by Yousef Al-Mahmoud
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
ISRAEL  CLOSES  PALESTINIAN  INSTITUTIONS  IN  JERUSALEM
Al Hourriah Magazine (Freedom)
Feb. 3, 2018 — Israel Hayom newspaper on Friday said that the Israeli authorities have decided to close a number of Palestinian institutions in Occupied Jerusalem.
___According to the Hebrew newspaper, the Israeli Minister of Public Security, Gilad Erdan, on Thursday issued a decision to close the Palestine Chamber of Commerce, the Higher Council of Tourism, the Palestinian Center for Studies, the Palestinian Prisoner Society and the Office of Social Studies and Statistics.
___Erdan’s decision was based on an Israeli law issued in 1994 preventing the Palestinian Authority from opening offices or carrying out activities in “Israeli areas”. The same law grants the minister the authority to issue decisions prohibiting such activities.
___The paper said, quoting Erdan, that efforts will continue to impose Israeli sovereignty over every part of Jerusalem. . . following the US president Donald Trump’s recognition . . . .  MORE . . . 
.  .  .  .  .  ❶  ―  (ᴀ)  EU’S  SECURITY  COMMITTEE  DISCUSSED  SECRET  REPORT  ON  ISRAEL,  SAYS  OFFICIAL
Palestine News and Information Agency – WAFA
Feb. 3, 2018 ― The European Union’s (EU) Political and Security Committee (PSC) discussed in its session on Wednesday a secret report that strongly criticized Israel and its policies, Palestine’s ambassador to the EU, Abdul Rahim al-Farra, said on Saturday.
___He said in an interview with the official Palestine TV that the PSC, which is composed of ambassadors from the 28 EU member states, also discussed the situation in occupied East Jerusalem in particular and came out with recommendations that will be presented to the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council when it meets on February 25 and 26 in Brussels.
___He said the PSC recommended that the EU plays a primary and active role in the Middle East peace process in order to salvage the two-state solution.      MORE . . .

Gazit, Nir.
“STATE-SPONSORED  VIGILANTISM:  JEWISH  SETTLERS’  VIOLENCE  IN  THE  OCCUPIED  PALESTINIAN  TERRITORIES.”
SOCIOLOGY
, vol. 49, no. 3, June 2015, pp. 438-454.
[. . . .] Civilian violence often disrupts government authority and undermines its exclusive sovereignty. However, it may also operate as an extra-juridical force that reproduces governmental power through unofficial channels. This dynamic is salient in situations of contested and fragmented sovereignty, when state power is discontinuous and lacks international and local legitimacy . . .  provisional violence by state forces and ordinary civilians becomes an important mechanism of political power and control.
[. . . .] These trends . . .  suggest a correlation between the two forms of Israeli violence – institutional military violence and non-institutional civilian violence. In times and places of low military presence and violence, unofficial civilian political mechanisms come into play. These reproduce Israeli dominance through direct violence or through initiating Palestinian hostility resulting in provisional active military involvement. The dialectical relationship between the two forms of violence is not trivial . . .  Hence, it is important to analyse the relationship between Israeli ground-level state agents and settlers, and consider how the two sides manage this tension.
[. . . .] . . . the ambiguity surrounding the formal status of the Israeli state in the OTP creates a governmental void. This void is filled, inter alia, by greater freedom of action of the settlers, who, in effect, act as informal agents of the state, behaving as vigilantes and taking the law into their own hands. The settlers’ violence contributes to the manifestation of Israeli rule in two significant ways. First, it brings Israeli dominance to areas with a scarce presence of military forces, generating ad hoc ‘effective control’ over Palestinian territory and population even in the absence of state officials. . .  While the state has limited direct influence over these domains, they undoubtedly contribute to the overall Israeli dominance in the region. The second and complementary mode of support these acts provide to the overall control system is when the Israeli security forces intervene and prevent the settlers from harassing the Palestinians. Such interventions paradoxically demonstrate and reproduce the Israeli power in the region – this time as protectors of the local civilian population. The elusive political and legal structural frameworks of the Israeli occupation are important factors of this phenomenon, generating the necessary ‘degrees of freedom’, so to speak, that allow, and even support, a proliferation of settlers’ violence against Palestinian civilians. In other words, the Israeli state itself, assisted by its agents, works in collusion with the settlers, and maintains the structural preconditions for this provisional political activity, even if it challenges its exclusive jurisdiction.     SOURCE . . .

UN  REPORT  SAYS  AT  LEAST  206  INTERNATIONAL  COMPANIES  TIED  TO  ISRAELI  SETTLEMENTS
Ma’an News Agency
Feb. 1, 2018 ― The United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a report on Wednesday identifying 206 companies from around the world that are doing business linked to Israeli settlements, which are built in the occupied West Bank in violation of international law.
___The long-delayed report was initially intended to include the names of companies, but reportedly after intense pressure from the US and Israel, the published report included only the number of companies from each country, rather than naming them.
___”Businesses play a central role in furthering the establishment, maintenance and expansion of Israeli settlements,” the UN report said.    MORE . . .
.  .  .  .  .  ❷  ―  (ᴀ)  HALEY  SLAMS  UN  ANTI-SETTLEMENT  REPORT:  IT  IS  A  “WASTE  OF  TIME”
Palestine News Network – PNN 
Feb. 1, 2018 ― US Ambassador to the United Nations on Wednesday slammed a UN report on 206 companies tied to Israeli settlements as “a waste of time and resources” that showed an “anti-Israeli obsession.”
___The office of the UN high commissioner for human rights released the report that did not name the companies but could pave the way to a “blacklist” of businesses that Israeli officials fear would be targeted for an international boycott.
___“This whole issue is outside the bounds of the High Commissioner for Human Rights office’s mandate and is a waste of time and resources,” Haley said.   MORE . . . 
ISRAELI  SETTLERS  ATTACK  PALESTINIAN  FARMERS  NORTH  OF HEBRON
Palestine News and Information Agency – WAFA   
Feb. 3, 2018 ― Israeli settlers attacked on Saturday Palestinian farmers in the town of Beit Ummar, north of Hebron in the occupied West Bank, according to Yousef Abu Maria, a local activist.
___He told WAFA that a group of settlers from the illegal settlement of Karmi Tsur and settlement security guards threw rocks at farmers, cursed them and prevented them from cultivating their land. The settlement is built on seized Palestinian land that belong to Beit Ummar and other area villages.   MORE . . . 
.  .  .  .  .  ❸  ―  (ᴀ)  ‘CONSTRUCTION  TERROR’  ISRAEL’S  METAPHOR  FOR  PALESTINIAN  DISPLACEMENT
The Palestinian Information Center
Feb. 1, 2018 ― Israel’s construction of its politics on contrasting levels which echo its colonial agenda knows no limits. Now that the international community is largely reluctant to do more than refer to previous statements of colonial expansion as illegal, Israel is more explicit in promoting its state and settler narratives in its appropriation of land ownership.
___A news report published on Monday in Haaretz quotes Jewish Home Party MK Moti Yogev: “Our goal is to protect state lands, consistent with decisions by the state not letting their status be determined by construction terror guided by the Palestinian Authority with the intervention of international elements such as the European Union.” He also suggested legal recourse against Palestinians opposing demolition orders.
___This is not the first time that such rhetoric has been used. In April 2016 a press release titled “Re-evaluate state’s handling of EU-funded construction in Area C” described Palestinian dwellings in similar terms, accusing the EU of financing “construction and infrastructure terror”.     MORE . . . 

“ABOVE  THE  CARNATIONS,”  BY  YOUSEF  AL-MAHMOUD
Her house is above the carnations
on the path to the wind-swept hills. . .
At evening we sought refuge there
watching out for the guns and the aeroplanes.

The crack of bullets followed our coffee
and smashed into our conversation.
The crack of bullets and the bark of artillery
came near to the flowers inside the windows
came near to the warmth and the water jug
debris clattered down the outside stairway
and fell towards the marble pavement.

Her house is above the carnations
there we were in it
we had sought refuge there
and so we moved to where the Jewish soldiers could no longer see us.

—Translated by DM Black
—Yousef Al-Mahmoud is a prominent broadcaster and poet, and former head of the Ministry of Culture in his native Jenin.
—From A  BIRD  IS  NOT  A  STONE:  AN  ANTHOLOGY  OF  CONTEMPORARY  PALESTINIAN  POETRY (Glasgow: Freight Books, 2014) –available from Amazon.com.

“. . . Have you forgotten your shame at Buchenwald? . . .” (Samih Al-Qasim)

❶ US freezes $125 million grant to UNRWA
. . . . . ❶ ― (ᴀ) Bennett slams reported Israeli call on US not to cut aid to Palestinians
. . . . . ❶ ― (ᴃ) What would happen if Trump cuts UNRWA funding?

BACKGROUND: Congress removes Israeli missile defense funds from US wartime budget (2017)

❷ Tzachi Hanegbi: Two-state solution is not dead
. . . . . ❷ ― (ᴀ) Peace Now: Israel to approve more than 1,329 illegal settlement units
. . . . . ❷ ― (ᴃ) Palestinians protest visit of Greek Orthodox patriarch accused of selling land to Israel
❸ POETRY by Samih Al-Qasim
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
❶ US  FREEZES  $125  MILLION  GRANT  TO  UNRWA
The Palestinian Information Center   
Jan. 6, 2018 ― The United States has frozen $125 million of its funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).
___Quoting three US officials, Reuters news agency reported that the administration of the US president, Donald Trump, informed the United Nations that it had frozen a $125 million grant that was due to be paid on 1st January.
___According to the three officials who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, Trump’s administration is considering cutting $180 million from its aid payments to the UNRWA in an effort to pressure the Palestinian Authority to resume negotiations with Israel.   MORE . . . 
.  .  .  .  .  ❶  ―  (ᴀ)  BENNETT  SLAMS  REPORTED  ISRAELI  CALL  ON  US  NOT  TO  CUT  AID  TO  PALESTINIANS:  Israeli officials call on US and all world countries to cut all aid to Palestinians.  
Days of Palestine
Jan. 6, 2018 ― Israeli Education Minister and head of the right-wing Jewish Home party, Naftali Bennett, slammed reports on Friday reported Israeli call on US not to cut UN support for Palestinian refugees.
___Earlier this week, Donald Trump warned that his country would cut aid for Palestinians who he believes receive millions of US dollars without respecting America.
___According to Israeli Hadashot TV, though, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as Foreign Minister, is opposed to any cut in such aid.
___ “UNRWA,” claims, Bennett, “is a terror-supporting organisation. Its very existence perpetuates the dire situation of Gaza’s population, who suffer under the rule of Hamas.” He insisted that the US decision to cut aid is the right choice.     MORE . . . 
.  .  .  .  .  ❶  ―  (ᴃ)  WHAT  WOULD  HAPPEN  IF  TRUMP  CUTS  UNRWA  FUNDING?
The Palestinian Information Center 
By Yara Hawari
Jan. 5, 2018 ― The Palestinian Information Center On Tuesday, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, delivered a rather ambiguous threat in response to a question on the maintenance of the US level of funding to the UN Palestinian refugee programme. She replied: “The president has said that he doesn’t want to give any additional funding or stop funding until the Palestinians are agreeing (sic) to come back to the negotiating table.”
___President Trump himself tweeted the following threat to UNRWA: “But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”
[. . . .] However, a total US funding cut would mean a serious reduction in services and the complete halt of many of the education and health programmes.
___In other words, schools and health clinics would close leaving hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees across the region without schooling, health care, jobs, making their situation even more dire.   MORE . . .  

  • BACKGROUND: Congress removes Israeli missile defense funds from US wartime budget 
    The Jerusalem Post     
    By Michael Wilner
    Nov. 17, 2017 ― On Thursday Congress approved the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act to include $705 million for US-Israel missile defense cooperation.
    ___Congress has resolved a budgeting dispute with the Trump administration by sourcing hundreds of millions of dollars in missile defense aid for Israel from its base budget– and not from a fund typically reserved for US wartime operations, as was initially proposed.
    ___The White House made clear over the summer that it was not opposed to adding hundreds of millions of dollars above its own budget for missile defense to Israel, but rather the vehicle for its delivery– an unprecedented use of dollars typically saved for US military readiness. Earlier this month, Congress approved the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act to include $705 million for US-Israel missile defense cooperation, including $588 million over President Donald Trump’s proposed budget.     MORE . . . 

❷   TZACHI  HANEGBI:  TWO-STATE  SOLUTION  IS  NOT  DEAD
Al Jazeera English 
by Ali Younes
Jan. 6, 2018 ― An Israeli minister has said US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital does not signal the end of the two-state solution, with Israel willing to grant Palestinians their own independent state but with limited sovereignty.
___Tzachi Hanegbi, minister of regional cooperation, said Trump’s controversial decision on December 6 should not hinder Palestinian claims to have occupied East Jerusalem as their capital.
___”We claim that Jerusalem is our capital and should not be divided, but that’s only a claim, not a diktat,” Hanegbi, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, told Al Jazeera at his office in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.
___Jerusalem remains at the core of the perennial Israel-Palestine conflict.     MORE . . .  
.  .  .  .  .  ❷  ―  (ᴀ)  PEACE  NOW:  ISRAEL  TO  APPROVE  MORE  THAN  1,329  ILLEGAL  SETTLEMENT  UNITS
Ma’an News Agency 
Jan. 6, 2018 ― The Israeli Civil Administration’s High Planning Committee is expected to approve the promotion of at least 1,329 housing units in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, according to settlement watchdog Peace Now.
___In a statement released on Friday, Peace Now said that the committee published its agenda, and is expected to approve the new settlement units next Wednesday, January 10.
___According to the group, two-thirds of the 1,329 units (883 housing units) “will be located in isolated settlements that Israel would probably have to evacuate under any two-state agreement.”      MORE . . .   
.  .  .  .  .  ❷  ―  (ᴃ)  PALESTINIANS  PROTEST  VISIT  OF  GREEK  ORTHODOX  PATRIARCH  ACCUSED  OF  SELLING  LAND  TO  ISRAEL
Ma’an News Agency  
Jan. 6, 2018 ― Palestinian Christians from around the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Israel came out in harsh opposition on Saturday to a visit by Greek Orthodox Church Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, to the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem.
___Theophilos III, along with several other religious and political figures, were visiting Bethlehem as part of celebrations for Greek Orthodox Christmas Eve.
___Despite an intense presence of Palestinian security forces who attempted to open roads near Bethlehem’s Manger Square for the patriarch’s car, angry citizens swarmed around his procession, holding signs, Palestinian flags, and chanting slogans against Theophilus III.   MORE . . .  

“BUCHENWALD,”  BY  SAMIH  AL-QASIM
Have you forgotten your shame at Buchenwald?
Do you remember your flames at Buchenwald?
Have you forgotten your love in the lexicon
of silence? Do you remember your panic―
at the reign of death, in the nightmare of time―
that the whole world
would become a Buchenwald?
Whether you’ve forgotten or not,
the dead’s images linger
among the wreaths of flowers,
and from the dismembered corpses
a hand emerges,
a nail in the palm and tattoo on the wrist―
a sign for the planet.
Do you remember? Or not?
Buchenwald― whether or not you’ve forgotten,
the images of the murdered
remain among the wreaths of flowers . . .

From Al-Qasim, Samih. SADDER  THAN  WATER.  New  and  Selected  Poems.  Trans. Nazih Kasis and Adina Hoffman. Jerusalem: Ibis Editions, 2008.
Available from Amazon
About Samih Al-Qasim. Obituary, August 20, 2014.

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

003a - Copy
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.

 

“. . . when we can run in the streets without anyone pronouncing us crazy . . .” (Ibrahim Nasrallah)

❶ UN expresses ‘deep concern’ over ever-worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza
. . . . . ❶ ― (ᴀ) Debunking Israel’s UN-bias claims
❷ Greek Orthodox patriarch says Israeli court ruling on church property politically motivated

  • Background: “Surviving Jerusalem: Fifty Years of Neglect and Daily Suffering Just to Remain.” Palestine-Israel Journal of Politics, Economics & Culture.

. . . . . ❷ ― (ᴀ) EU calls on Israel to reconsider eviction of Shamasneh family in Sheikh Jarrah
❸ POETRY by Ibrahim Nasrallah
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
❶ UN  EXPRESSES  ‘DEEP  CONCERN’  OVER  EVER-WORSENING  HUMANITARIAN  CRISIS  IN  GAZA  
Ma’an News Agency
Aug. 12, 2017.   The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights office (OHCHR) expressed “deep concern” on Friday over the ever-deteriorating situation in the besieged Gaza Strip, three months after the electricity supply was severely cut by Israel at the behest of the PA.
___In May, the Fatah-led PA decided to slash funding for Israeli fuel to the coastal enclave, as Israeli authorities acceded to PA demands to dramatically reduce its electricity supply to Gaza, which was already reeling from lack of adequate access to electricity and fuel.
___The PA was accused of carrying out “collective punishment” on Palestinians living in the Hamas-led Gaza Strip, which had already been embroiled in a dire electricity crisis that was only worsened by increasing punitive measures by Israel and the PA.
[. . . .] “This has a grave impact on the provision of essential health, water and sanitation services,” Shamdasani said, adding that the large-scale power cuts were a life-threatening risk for vulnerable residents of the coastal enclave. “Israel, the State of Palestine, and the authorities in Gaza are not meeting their obligations to promote and protect the rights of the residents of Gaza.”    MORE . . .
. . . . . ❶ ― (ᴀ) DEBUNKING  ISRAEL’S  UN-BIAS  CLAIMS
Al Jazeera English 
August 13, 2017.   Nikki Haley, the US envoy to the United Nations, made headlines in June when she denounced what she claimed was a pattern of “anti-Israel” behaviour at the UN.
[. . . .] . . .analysts say there is little substance to her allegations that, in the words of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Israel has been “the UN’s punching bag”.
[. . . .] While issues concerning Namibia, South Africa, Cape Verde, Vietnam, Laos and others have in one way or another been resolved, Erakat told Al Jazeera, “the only one that hasn’t is Palestine”.
___ In 2016, the UN Security Council’s activity [saw] just one resolution dealt with Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. It was the first in almost eight years.
[. . . .]  It is a different story, however, elsewhere within the UN, where Israel faces frequent condemnation for its actions through bodies such as the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.
[. . . .] “But this must be viewed in the context of the UN political organs as a whole,” [John Dugard, the UN’s former special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories] added. “The Security Council and Quartet on the Middle East [UN, European Union, United States and Russia] are notoriously pro-Israel and refuse to pay adequate attention to Palestinian issues.”     MORE . . .
❷ GREEK  ORTHODOX  PATRIARCH  SAYS  ISRAELI  COURT  RULING  ON  CHURCH  PROPERTY  POLITICALLY  MOTIVATED  
Palestine News and Information Agency – WAFA 
August 13, 2017.   Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III said Sunday that a two-week old Israeli District Court ruling upholding a 99-year lease of church property in Jerusalem’s Old City to Jewish settler organizations is politically motivated.
___Theophilos said at a press conference in the Jordanian capital Amman that this legal battle, which has been going on for a decade, has resulted in an unjust decision that has ignored very clear legal evidence presented by the church, which made it clear that it was done in “bad faith, bribery and conspiracy” for the benefit of the group of settlers from Ateret Cohanim.
[. . . .] The Greek Orthodox patriarch said his church is going to appeal the District Court’s ruling, which he said will have a grave negative impact on Christian presence in the Holy Land, at the Israeli Supreme Court.   MORE . . .

Abu Ghoush, Amaal.
“SURVIVING  JERUSALEM:  FIFTY  YEARS  OF  NEGLECT  AND  DAILY  SUFFERING  JUST  TO  REMAIN.”
Palestine-Israel Journal of Politics, Economics & Culture
, vol. 21, no. 4, Mar. 2016, pp. 6-11.
No one can imagine when first looking at Jerusalem, with the light rail, the clean paved roads, the old and new buildings, that just a few blocks away from the European-like main streets, there are Palestinian neighborhoods that look like slums, and not because the buildings are poorly constructed, on the contrary. More than 37% of Jerusalem s population are Palestinian residents who are living in East Jerusalem neighborhoods that lack basic services, adequate roads and safe sidewalks — when and if they exist.
___East Jerusalem, which is 70 square kilometers, compromises 56% of all Jerusalem, including the Old City. Palestinian Jerusalemites, or “Arabs,” according to the 2106 Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research statistical yearbook, make up 37.2% of Jerusalem residents. They live on just 13% of the land that was annexed in 1967. One-third of the annexed land, or about 34% of it, has been turned into Israeli settlements, while the rest is land Palestinian East Jerusalemites cannot develop because it is designated as an open space or a green area.
[. . . .]  East Jerusalemites see that Israeli settlements are built on their lands. The settlers receive better services and infrastructure by far, while it takes the Palestinians ages to get a permit to build one house to live in with their family or for their married children on land they own. And many times they try to get a permit and do not succeed. At the same time, huge settlements are built quickly. Infrastructure, roads and other services are provided — with long-time residents’ tax money — quickly and smoothly for settlers who just immigrated from outside.
[. . . .] Fifty years of neglect and no-planning has turned our Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem into places we do not approve of, but it has also turned us into people who are so worried about our survival and well-being that we no longer work together. We complain to one another about the situation, and we demand services and better conditions, but not in the right places nor in the right ways for our demands to be heard. We wait for the Jerusalem Municipality to solve our problems, knowing that it will not do anything unless it is forced to. . . .  Recently, with the support of Palestinian and international organizations, some neighborhoods have started working collectively to prepare plans which will eventually legalize their homes. But more importantly, they are beginning to understand that through pursuing the collective interest, individual interests are achieved as well and the impact will be stronger.   FULL ARTICLE . . .

. . . . . ❷ ― (ᴀ) EU  CALLS  ON  ISRAEL  TO  RECONSIDER  EVICTION  OF  SHAMASNEH  FAMILY  IN  SHEIKH  JARRAH  
Palestine News and Information Agency – WAFA
August 13, 2017.   The European Union missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah expressed concern at the imminent threat of eviction by Israeli authorities of the Shamasneh family from their home in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem.
___In a statement Sunday, EU missions called on the Israeli authorities to reconsider the decision, saying, “The eviction, of carried out, would be the first in the area since 2009. Further settlement plans including evictions are being moved forward in Sheikh Jarrah.”
___The Shamasneh family is one of at least 180 households in East-Jerusalem, mainly in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, the Old City and Beit Safafa, facing the threat of eviction from their homes.   MORE . . .

“BEGINNINGS,” BY IBRAHIM NASRALLAH
When all the bids in the world flap their wings in unison
as one  body, when the waters of springs and mountain streams
gather in a dusty palm,
when a human being runs
and trees and the hidden future follow him,
when the world become simple
and I can climb onto a table in the office of the daily news
and speak of your love to the elegant shuttered windows,
to the good and bad paintings on the walls,
when I am able to freely place a gentle kiss
on your cheek in public,
when I am able to return with you after midnight
without a police patrol desecrating our bodies
in search of a confession,
when we can run in the streets
without anyone pronouncing us crazy,
when I am able to sing
and share a stranger’s umbrella
and when she in turn may share my loaf of bread,
when you are able to say I love you
without fear of death or imprisonment
and I can open a window in the morning
without being silenced by a bullet,
when I am able to grow older
and the trees are added to your attire
and we can count the drops of rain on each other’s faces
and sing and love free of weapons,
raids. Chronic fear, and disappearances –
another world will begin,
a new homeland will have been readied.
But for now we announce a new beginning with our death,
a new beginning of love.

About Ibrahim Nasrallah.
From Nasrallah, Ibrahim. RAIN INSIDE: SELECTED POEMS. Trans. Omnia Amin and Rick London. Willimantic, CT: Curbstone Press, 2009. Available from Barnes and Noble