“I heard the conqueror on the high roof under the naked sky. . .” Reja-e Busailah

NEWS FROM PALESTINE

Release of long-delayed UN settlement database significant step towards holding Israel accountable 

Feb. 12, 2020 / Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)
Palestinian civil society welcomes this long-awaited UN list of companies that are complicit in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise, which constitutes a war crime under international law. We thank all human rights organizations that worked tirelessly for the release of such an important instrument of transparency and accountability. Upholding international law is the one appropriate response to attempts by authoritarian and far-right regimes, led by the Trump White House and Israel’s extremist government, to undermine human rights and the rule of law and enforce domination by the most powerful instead.  More . . .

  • Israel freezes ties with UN rights chief after release of settlement blacklist 
    FM Israel Katz says he ordered ‘exceptional and harsh measure’ in retaliation for Commissioner Michelle Bachelet’s office promoting the anti-Israel boycott movement.  More . . . 

Trump Administration Nixes Funding for Palestinian Security Forces From 2021 Budget Plan

Feb 11, 2020/ Haaretz
The Trump administration excluded funding for the Palestinian Security Services in its budget request for the 2021 fiscal year, after 27 years of bipartisan support and Israeli backing.
However, the budget request does include $200 million for a “Diplomatic Progress Fund” that could be used to support the administration’s Mideast plan, unveiled two weeks ago. According to the State Department, some of that money could go toward an “agreement to resume security assistance in the West Bank.” But such an agreement would likely require the Palestinian Authority to accept the Trump plan.  More . . . 

BACKGROUND INFORMATION/ ACTION NOTICES

In Palestinian culture, the olive tree enjoys an almost sacred status

Feb. 9, 2020 / Al-Bushra, by Barbara Green  
Last year I wrote a Peace Parsha for Tu B’Shevat in which I asked: When did we go from being a people who plant trees to a people who cut them down?

I didn’t mean ordinary every-day Jews who go about their business without thinking much about trees. Or ordinary Jewish Israelis who have a long tradition of planting and caring for trees. The Torah commands us to refrain from picking fruit from trees until they are three years old. When we go to war against another people, we are commanded to leave fruit-bearing trees intact to ensure a source of food.  No, I’m talking about Israeli Jewish settlers in the West Bank — the occupied territories.  More . . .

POEM OF THE DAY

ALI OF LYDDA, by Reja-e Busailah

Before the conqueror shot him dead
from the top of our roof,
Ali had on his head,
as he walked homeward in the morning sun,
a tray made of straw, of circles,
none vicious though:
Each circle flowed into the next
from small to large to larger rounds:

The first bore the transformation
of the dream of wheat, its ears still close to the ground,
into loaves of exciting breath;
the second of a humble communion
of young and old breaking bread into lasting bond
under the sanctity of one roof;
the third of modest hopes
which rose and tossed like one vast field shedding green
in the wind and the ripening sun;
the fourth of a dream beyond,
half formed, half grasped —

After he shot Ali dead,
and the tray fell in manner undignified
and the bread tumbled and scattered on hot, hard stone
in shapes of heads rolling about a sanctuary,
I heard the conqueror on the high roof
under the naked sky,
I heard him snort,
I heard him clear his throat,
I heard him spit on the ground,
I heard him piss
through the eye of light.

In his ninety-first year, Reja-e Busailah looks back on growing up in a small Palestinian town in the 1930s until the turbulent upheaval of 1948, when over 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes by the Israelis, and the author was forced to join the Death March from Lydda. Although blind since infancy, Busailah recalls with stunning detail a boyhood shaped by disability, education, family and friends, British soldiers and Zionist settlers. Poems of a Palestinian Boyhood is an extraordinary book: unapologetic, unflinching, raw and beautiful.

“. . . Each river has its own springs . . .” (Mahmoud Darwish)

❶ Palestinian  officials  begin  transferring  control  of  Gaza  borders  from  Hamas  to  Fatah
❷ Fatah official: Cairo reconciliation accords a bridge to end the split

  • Background: “Palestinian Unity and Everyday State Formation: Subaltern ‘Ungovernmentality’ Versus Elite Interests.” Third World Quarterly

❸ Israeli  settlers  steal  olive  harvest,  attack  Palestinian  farmers  in  West  Bank
❹ The pedagogy of apartheid
❺ POETRY by Mahmoud Darwish
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
PALESTINIAN  OFFICIALS  BEGIN  TRANSFERRING  CONTROL  OF  GAZA  BORDERS  FROM  HAMAS  TO  FATAH
Ma’an News Agency  
Oct. 17, 2017   Head of the Palestinian Authority (PA) borders and crossing committee Nathmi Muhanna arrived in the Gaza Strip on Monday in order “to carry out the first article of the reconciliation agreement signed in Cairo regarding taking over the crossings,” Muhanna told Ma’an.
___Muhanna entered Gaza through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing, and was welcomed by the Palestinian Minister of Public Work Housing Mufid al-Hasayna.
___Upon his arrival in Gaza, Muhanna told Ma’an that a committee to oversee the takeover of Gaza border crossings by the Fatah-led PA was formed upon instructions by President Mahmoud Abbas.
___In the reconciliation agreement signed last week by Hamas and Fatah, it was agreed that the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza would be operated by PA presidential guards by November 1.     MORE . . .
FATAH   OFFICIAL:   CAIRO   RECONCILIATION   ACCORDS   A   BRIDGE   TO   END   THE   SPLIT
Palestine News and Information Agency – WAFA
Oct. 17, 2017   Fatah Central Committee member Hussein al-Sheikh said the agreement signed between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo under Egyptian auspices is the bridge that will lead to an end to the division and to achieve reconciliation.
___Sheikh said in an interview on Palestine TV aired on Monday night that the real test for the success in ending the division is found in the full empowerment of the government of national reconciliation, which was not given an opportunity in the past to function in the Gaza Strip as in the West Bank, expressing hope that this time it will succeed in its mission.   MORE . . .

(NOTE: While being two years old, this article presents historical information of value in understanding the current situation.)

Pogodda, Sandra, and Oliver P. Richmond.
“Palestinian Unity and Everyday State Formation: Subaltern ‘Ungovernmentality’ Versus Elite Interests.”
Third World Quarterly 36.5 (2015): 890-907.
The outburst of inter-factional violence between Fatah and Hamas in 2007 came as a shock to a society that sees itself as the victim, not the perpetrator of violence. Between October 2006 and August 2010 more than 470 Palestinians were killed in inter-factional fighting, while torture in Palestinian prisons became pervasive. In addition, inter-factional structural violence perpetuates the repressive and discriminatory conduct of the occupation: campaigns of political arrests, the obstruction of political participation, crackdowns on political rights and civil liberties, and discrimination in public sector employment. Structural violence is thus disruptive of civil society, political life and socioeconomic development in the occupied Palestinian territories. After eight years of bitter rivalry and three failed attempts at creating a unity government, Fatah and Hamas signed another unity agreement on 23 April 2014. Accordingly, a technocratic government under the leadership of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah was sworn in in June 2014 and is supposed to rule the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, while overseeing new elections in 2015. Given the continuing tensions between the two parties, doubts remain with regard to the durability of the unity government. Elections have again been indefinitely postponed, while Fatah and Hamas are competing over the control of the pledged reconstruction assistance.   SOURCE.

ISRAELI  SETTLERS  STEAL  OLIVE  HARVEST,  ATTACK  PALESTINIAN  FARMERS  IN  WEST  BANK
Ma’an News Agency 
Oct. 16, 2017   Israeli settlers on Sunday stole olive pickings from dozens of trees belonging to Palestinian farmers from the occupied West Bank districts of Ramallah and Nablus.
___Gassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlements activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that dozens of Israeli settlers raided Palestinian lands in Ramallah and Nablus under protection of armed Israeli forces, and stole olives from dozens of Palestinian trees.
___Daghlas told Ma’an that Israeli settlers stole the pickings of more than 65 olive trees in the Nablus-area village of al-Sawiyeh and the Ramallah-area village of al-Janiyeh.
___Meanwhile, NGO Rabbis For Human Rights (RHR) released a statement saying that the settlers, from the illegal Zayit Raanan outpost, were arrested by Israeli security forces “following the swift intervention of the head of the field department of Rabbis for Human Rights, Zakaria Sadah, who informed the security forces.”    MORE . . .
THE  PEDAGOGY  OF  APARTHEID
Mondoweiss 
Jonathan Ofir
Oct. 15, 2017   Two months ago, Israel’s education ministry introduced a compulsory four-part question in civics matriculation exams. Students are asked to give their opinion on a “controversial public issue”, including for example “allowing different population groups to live in separate neighborhoods”. In the circulation to teachers, it was stated that since teachers “sometimes encounter inflammatory or racist statements against groups or individuals” on the exam, “It’s important to make clear to the students that racist or inflammatory statements in any part of the question will disqualify the entire answer” (which is worth 11 points out of a total of 100).
___But last week, the head of the ministry’s pedagogical secretariat, Moshe Weinstock, overruled the ministry’s civics supervisor and rescinded the rule. An update was sent to teachers, wherein the ban on racist statements was dropped, and the fourth part of the question was eliminated, in which students had to defend their position in light of their own values.   MORE . . . 

“CONCERNING HOPES,” BY MAHMOUD DARWISH
Don’t tell me:
I wish I were a baker in Algeria
To sing with a fighter.
Don’t tell me:
I wish I were a shepherd in Yemen
To sing for resurrection.
Don’t tell me:
I wish I were a waiter in Havana
To sing the victories of the oppressed.
Don’t tell me:
I wish I were a young porter in Aswan
To sing for the rocks.
The Nile will never flow into the Volga,
Nor will the Congo or the Jordan flow into the Euphrates.
Each river has its own springs,
Its own course and its own life.
Our land, my friend, is no barren land.
Each land gives birth in due time,
And each fighter will see the dawn.

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

 

“. . . You swear I don’t exist that I have no sun . . .” (Fouzi El-Asmar)

Palestinians inspect a house that was demolished by the Israeli army in the village of Silwad, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. The Israeli military says it has demolished the homes of four Palestinians who allegedly carried out deadly attacks against Israelis. (Photo: Majdi Mohammed, AP)
Palestinians inspect a house that was demolished by the Israeli army in the village of Silwad, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. The Israeli military says it has demolished the homes of four Palestinians who allegedly carried out deadly attacks against Israelis. (Number 4 below)
(Photo: Majdi Mohammed, AP)

❶ Undercover Israeli Forces Shoot Dead Palestinian in Hebron Hospital
❷ 111 Palestinians Shot, Injured During West Bank, Gaza Demonstrations
❸ Analysis: Netanyahu’s transfer plan is met with silent complicity
❹ Israeli Army Blows Up Three Homes in Nablus, One in Ramallah
❺ Opinion/Analysis: ‘We Will Stay Like Our Olives:’ A Battle Over Trees This Harvest
❻ Poetry by Fouzi El-Asmar
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
MA’AN NEWS AGENCY
UNDERCOVER ISRAELI FORCES SHOOT DEAD PALESTINIAN IN HEBRON HOSPITAL
Nov. 12, 2015
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Undercover Israeli forces on Thursday shot dead a Palestinian during a hospital raid in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, witnesses and hospital staff said.
___Abdullah Azzam Shalaldah, 28, was shot several times by forces who raided the surgery unit of al-Ahli hospital in order to detain his cousin, Azzam Ezzat Shalaldah, 20, who was shot by an Israeli settler last month, hospital staff told Ma’an. http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=768464
___Abdullah and another relative were in the hospital visiting Azzam when around 20 undercover Israeli soldiers entered the hospital at around 4:00 a.m., witnesses said.
More . . .
MA’AN NEWS AGENCY
111 PALESTINIANS SHOT, INJURED DURING WEST BANK, GAZA DEMONSTRATIONS
Nov. 13, 2015
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — At least 94 Palestinians were shot and injured on Friday during clashes across the occupied West Bank, medics told Ma’an.
___In al-Balou area of northern al-Bireh in the Ramallah district, 26 Palestinians were injured with live bullets and 35 with rubber-coated steel bullets, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
___Witnesses said that Israeli forces stormed the area during clashes, opening fire in order to prevent demonstrators from accessing the Beit El checkpoint and assaulting journalists.
[. . . . .]
___In the West Bank, UN Office for Humanitarian affairs reported that the total number of Palestinian injuries from Oct. 1 to Nov. 9 alone had far surpassed the total number injured during the whole of 2014.
___Over 7,000 Palestinians have been injured since the start of October, and 83 have been killed.
More . . .
Related . . . 3RD PALESTINIAN DIES FROM CLASHES WITH ISRAELI FORCES
❸ Analysis
+972 MAGAZINE
NETANYAHU’S TRANSFER PLAN IS MET WITH SILENT COMPLICITY
Yehudit Oppenheimer
Nov. 14, 2015
Israel’s self-ordained “democratic” camp silently accepted Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal to revoke the permanent residency status of 100,000 Palestinians who live in those East Jerusalem neighborhoods that lie beyond the separation barrier last month.
___ Even if Netanyahu’s proposal is never actualized, it is impossible to ignore its significance even as a proposal: the prime minister of Israel is advocating the mass transfer of Palestinians from Jerusalem and the center-left political parties in the opposition did not offer up even the faintest whisper of protest.
More . . .

Israeli Border Police officers stop and check Palestinians going out of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, October 15, 2015. Israel set up checkpoints in the Palestinian neighborhoods of east Jerusalem and mobilized hundreds of soldiers in response to attacks by Palestinians. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Israeli Border Police officers stop and check Palestinians going out of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, October 15, 2015. Israel set up checkpoints in the Palestinian neighborhoods of east Jerusalem and mobilized hundreds of soldiers in response to attacks by Palestinians. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

INTERNATIONAL MIDDLE EAST MEDIA CENTER
ISRAELI ARMY BLOWS UP THREE HOMES IN NABLUS, ONE IN RAMALLAH
Nov. 14, 2015
Israeli soldiers invaded on, Saturday at dawn, the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and detonated bombs in two homes of detainees who were accused of killing an Israeli settler and his wife, near Beit Forik in the northern West Bank district of Nablus, several months ago. The soldiers also demolished a home in Ramallah.
___The soldiers invaded the house of detainee Karam al-Masri, forced the family out, and wired the property before detonating a bomb, destroying its interior.
___The soldiers also forced the residents of nearby homes out of their properties, and held them in one room belonging to one of the neighboring families, before exploding al-Masri’s home.
___The army also fired several gas bombs at residents who gathered in the area, causing an 80 year old woman to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation while in her own home.
More . . .
Related . . .
❺ Opinion/Analysis
MA’AN NEWS AGENCY
‘WE WILL STAY LIKE OUR OLIVES:’ A BATTLE OVER TREES THIS HARVEST
Megan Hanna
Nov. 14, 2015
BEIT SAFAFA (Ma’an) — Part of Hiyam Mousa’s olive grove, which has been passed down through her family for as far back as she can remember, has been destroyed due to the construction of a bypass road connecting settlements in the West Bank to West Jerusalem, and the rest is also under threat of being confiscated.
“We’ve been harvesting olives for a long time, it’s a special demonstration of the culture and history of Palestinians, and the whole family participates,” Mousa says, reaching up through the gnarled branches to pick this year’s harvest from the trees that remain.
[ . . . . . ]
Since 2000, it is estimated that more than two million trees have been destroyed across the occupied Palestinian territory through Israeli military operations, the building of settler roads, expansion of settlements, or construction of the separation wall.
More . . .
(Megan Hanna is an independent journalist and photographer based in Palestine.)

“A BOUQUET OF ROSES,” BY FOUZI EL-ASMAR

The story unfolds
you’ve heard the beginning
We did not reject you
as a human being
or as a friend
But as an intruder
a foe
chasing a mirage
A beast stealing dreams
from my children’s eyes.

Stubborn gambler
in human rights
You’ve tailored God’s commands
and now you wear them as you see fit
You forget, then steal
you forget, then kill
You swear I don’t exist
that I have no sun
spring
or field in me

For twenty-five years
we have fasted
And have broken that fast.

(Note: since the poem was published in 1979, the twenty-five years is now at least sixty.)

About Fouzi El-Asmar
El-Asmar, Fouzi. THE WIND-DRIVEN REED AND OTHER POEMS. Washington, D.C.: Three Continents Press, 1979.
Available from Amazon.

The separation wall surrounds a Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem, May 15, 2015. (Activestills.org)
The separation wall surrounds a Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem, May 15, 2015. (Activestills.org)