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

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

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

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

POEM  FOR  THE  DAY. . . . 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“. . . What do I know about settlers or rock-throwers . . .” (Rabbi Rachel Barenblat)

THE 'SMARTPHONE INTIFADA.' Palestinian women take pictures on smartphones during the funeral of a Palestinian man in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Feb. 24, 2015. (photo by REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
THE ‘SMARTPHONE INTIFADA.’ Palestinian women take pictures on smartphones during the funeral of a Palestinian man in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Feb. 24, 2015. (photo by REUTERS/Ammar Awad)

HAARETZ (Israel’s oldest daily newspaper)
NETANYAHU  MUST  STOP  THE  INCITEMENT  AGAINST  ISRAEL’S  ARAB  CITIZENS
Haaretz Editorial
Prime minister and his ministers would do well to act to calm things down and adopt a different policy, which regards Arabs as equal citizens, not a fifth column undermining the state.
Oct. 15, 2015
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Arab Knesset members of incitement against the State of Israel this week. He spoke of “the instigating leadership of the communist Balad party, behind whom are a train of ISIS flags.” Such statements, uttered by the prime minister of Israel in a speech from the Knesset rostrum, could have destructive implications for the relationship between the Arab citizens and the Jewish majority at a time when people on both sides feel threatened and are afraid to walk the streets.
____In addition to their dangerous timing, Netanyahu’s statements revealed his ignorance about Arab politics and society. Balad is a national-Arab party which has no connection to the communist party, even if some of its members were associated with that party in the past. There has been bitter political rivalry between the two parties for many years, and the fact that they are cooperating in the Joint Arab List faction in the Knesset does not mean that the differences between them have melted away.
____Moreover, at no march or rally of the Arab public have the black flags of the Islamic state been raised.
More . . .
+972 MAGAZINE
THIS DANCE OF DEATH WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME
Natasha Roth
Oct. 13, 2015
[Synopsis of Bergman film “The Seventh Seal,” 1957]
As I write this on Tuesday afternoon, three Israelis have been killed over the course of a few hours following a double attack in Jerusalem that involved shooting, stabbing and running over Israeli civilians with a vehicle. One of the alleged Palestinian attackers was shot dead at the scene.
____The incidents took place alongside two stabbing attacks in the central Israeli town of Ra’anana that left several Israelis wounded in an exceptionally violent morning, even by the standards of a gruesome fortnight that has seen dozens of Israelis injured and four more killed in stabbing and shooting attacks. Meanwhile nearly 30 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces either while demonstrating, following a stabbing attack or — in the IDF’s own words — “by accident.” The number of Palestinians injured since the beginning of October has passed the 1,000 mark.
____The terminology one applies to this latest spike in violence is academic. It also distracts from the underlying and fundamental issue: that successive Israeli leaders have, like the knight in The Seventh Seal, tried to cheat the inevitable, which in this case is the end of the occupation.
More. . .
PALESTINE CHRONICLE
HASBARA OR NOT: APARTHEID IN ISRAEL IS DOOMED
Iqbal Jassat
Oct. 13, 2015
As the noose of resistance begins to take a firm grip around the neck of Israel’s apartheid regime, Netanyahu’s bewilderment must not be construed as an expression of ignorance.
___Equally, displaying shock and anger as his entire cabinet has been doing, is merely putting on a mask of hypocrisy for fellow Israelis and his western allies.
____The truth is eloquently captured by prominent Palestinian author and journalist Ramzy Baroud: “Palestinian youth are protesting because they experience daily humiliation and endure the unrelenting violence of the Occupation.”
____Israel’s suffocating policies of apartheid, administered ruthlessly by Netanyahu’s racist rightwing coalition, is responsible for the current wave of protests.
More . . .
HAARETZ (Israel’s oldest daily newspaper)
THIS ISN’T AN INTIFADA, THIS IS WHAT BINATIONAL ISRAEL LOOKS LIKE
Asher Schechter (Haaretz staff writer)
Intifadas by definition have an ending. Recent events are merely a terrifying preview to a hellish reality: You can’t send a tank to fight a mother with a master’s degree wielding a knife.
Oct 15, 2015
[. . . . .]
____With violence in Israel and the West Bank steadily increasing, many are asking: Is this an intifada? Is this truly the beginning of yet another, years-long, bloody chapter in the saga of Israel-Palestine, or is this just another footnote [. . . . .]
____Based on the volume of violent incidents and, more importantly, the identity of the people behind them, it’s easy to say: this isn’t an intifada. It’s something far worse. [. . . . .]
____In a way, it’s easy to understand why Israeli politicians are confused. Intifadas usually end with a massive military campaign: Operation Defensive Shield ended the Second Intifada; or a massive peace effort – the Madrid Conference and the Oslo Accords ended the First Intifada.
____But this time it isn’t a conflict for armies or diplomats. You can’t send a tank to fight a mother with a master’s degree wielding a knife.
More . . . 
AL-SHABAKA: THE PALESTINIAN POLICY NETWORK
READ THEIR LIPS: ISRAELI LEADERS’ PLANS FOR THE PALESTINIANS
Samah Sabawi
Oct. 15, 2015
History in the Holy Land seems stuck in a loop. In 2000, former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, at the time leader of the opposition, visited the al-Aqsa compound in a deliberate provocation that triggered the second Intifada. [. . . . .]
____Fast forward to 2015: The peace process is now dead and what hope Palestinians had during the early Oslo years has turned into bitter disappointment and despair. Jewish colonies, illegal under international law, have expanded on Palestinian land throughout the years of negotiations and now fully surround Palestinian communities. [. . . . .]
____At a recent press conference Netanyahu spoke in Hebrew about how there was a huge settlement drive during his years of leadership. At the same conference, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon assured reporters that there had not been a settlement freeze for one minute. [. . . . .]
____Palestinians in the grip of Israel’s military occupation have given up on any hope of a sovereign state. Palestinian youth are sending a clear message both to their occupiers and to their leaders. They are taking matters into their own hands and demanding their full human rights at any cost.
____Desperate Palestinian youth who have lived under occupation and siege their entire lives, with no hope of a future, risk their lives in their fight for freedom. But what are the Israelis fighting for? Having destroyed all chances of Palestinian statehood, Israel is fighting to maintain its occupation and subjugation of the Palestinian people, creating an apartheid state throughout the lands where its rule holds sway.
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.

An injured Palestinian protester carries a Palestinian flag during clashes Oct. 13, 2015 (MaanImages/Sheren Khalel)
An injured Palestinian protester carries a Palestinian flag during clashes Oct. 13, 2015 (MaanImages/Sheren Khalel)

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

200 Couples wed in Gaza
200 Couples wed in Gaza

Contents:

  • 400 Palestinians marry in mass wedding in Gaza
  • Leshem settlers take over Deir Sim’an Roman castle in Salfit
  • Israel seizes thousand dunum of land for settlement expansion in Hebron
  • Israeli forces detain twelve, summon two from West Bank
  • The operational logic behind terrorizing Palestinians
  • Poem by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

❶ from MA’AN NEWS AGENCY
400 PALESTINIANS MARRY IN MASS WEDDING IN GAZA
April 11, 2015
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Two hundred Palestinian couples were married in a mass wedding in Gaza City on Saturday, seeing the ceremony through despite poor weather.
__A mother of one of the grooms, Rami Abu Amro, said it was a wonderful ceremony that couldn’t be stopped even by the rainy weather. She said that her son will now be able to have his own independent life and family despite difficult conditions in the coastal enclave.
__Newlyweds Mohammad and Fatima Baraka said they were exuberant to be married in such a traditional and well-organized setting.
(More. . .)
Account from Emirates News Agency

❷ from PALESTINE NEWS NETWORK
LESHEM SETTLERS TAKE OVER DEIR SIM’AN ROMAN CASTLE IN SALFIT
12 April 2015
Israeli settlers from Leshem colonial settlement west Salfit today have taken over the historical village, Deir Sim’an, on the lands of Kafr Deek and Rafat.
__Deir Siman castle dates back to the Roman Era and counts as a very important Palestinian landmark. It is located a few kilometers west Kafr Deek village. It has been controlled and isolated by Israeli occupation forces, which now dominate more than 1,000 dunums in the area.
__Eyewitnesses said that Israeli settlers are using bulldozers and working around the clock on making roads to the castle, in addition to erecting walls around the village.
(More. . .)

BACKGROUND ON SETTLEMENT
from +972
IN THE WEST BANK, A NEW SETTLEMENT IS BORN
By Noam Sheizaf
August 26, 2013
Settlers are celebrating ‘the first official settlement in 20 years.’ Housing Minister: ‘There are no two states, and there won’t be two states.’
__The regional council for Jewish settlements in the northern part of the West Bank (Samaria) celebrated on Sunday the construction of a new settlement called Leshem, located in the western part of the occupied Palestinian territories.
__According to a report in Maariv, 72 families have moved into their homes in Leshem, and 70 more are expected to do so in the coming year. The plan is to build around 400 more housing units.
Israel has committed – both in the Oslo Accords and to the Bush administration – not to construct new settlements. . .
(More. . .)

Ancient Roman Castle at Deir Sim'ian - historic Palestinian landmark
Ancient Roman Castle at Deir Sim’ian – historic Palestinian landmark

❸ from PALESTINE NEWS AND INFORMATION AGENCY – WAFA
ISRAEL SEIZES THOUSAND DUNUM OF LAND FOR SETTLEMENT EXPANSION IN HEBRON
April 8, 2015
HEBRON– Israeli forces Wednesday took over a thousand dunums [about 250 acres] of Palestinian-owned land located between the towns of Beit Ummar and Beit Fajjar in the Hebron district for the benefit of settlement expansion, according to a local activist.
__Anti-settlement activists in Beit Ummar, Yousif Abu Maryya, informed WAFA that Israeli forces along with settlers from the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of ‘Migdal Oz’, placed a 2,600-meter-long fence around one thousand dunums belonging to Palestinian farmers in the area to expand the aforementioned settlement.
(More. . .)

❹ from PALESTINE NEWS AND INFORMATION AGENCY – WAFA
ISRAELI FORCES DETAIN TWELVE, SUMMON TWO FROM WEST BANK
February 9, 2015
JERUSALEM – Israeli forces Monday detained twelve Palestinians, including three minors and an official, and summoned two others from various West Bank districts, said security sources and an attorney.
__Israeli police detained five Palestinians, including two minors, from al-Tur neighborhood overlooking the Old City and took them to an interrogation and detention center, said the Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association (Addameer) attorney Muhammad Mahmoud.
__Mahmoud identified the detainees as Jamal al-Za‘tari, 16, Ibrahim Abu Jum‘a, 17, Musa, 18, and Muhammad Abu al-Hawwa, 18, as well as Muhammad Abu Ghannam, 18.
(More . . .)

BACKGROUND ON ISRAELI POLICY
from +972
THE OPERATIONAL LOGIC BEHIND TERRORIZING PALESTINIANS
By Yossi Gurvitz for Yesh Din
April 10, 2015
Four Israeli soldiers carry out a routine procedure of ‘showing presence’ by throwing a smoke grenade into a Palestinian home. Its real purpose? Terrorizing innocent people.
__The incident in question, given the daily routine of the occupation, is relatively minor. On December 3rd, 2007, Adnan Abu Haniyeh, a resident of the West Bank village Yanoun, woke up from the sound of an explosion. Something blew up, the windows of his house were shattered and the house was filled with smoke. His little girl screamed in terror, and for a time the family feared that her hearing was permanently damaged. The walls of the house were covered with soot. Abu Haniyeh then heard the sound of a military Hummer.
__The rest of the incident will be described according to the investigative files of the Military Police Criminal Investigations Division (MPCID).
(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.

Rachel Barenblat was ordained a rabbi in January 2011 through the Alliance for Jewish Renewal. She hold the MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. Her first full-length collection of poetry, 70 Faces: Torah poems, was published in 2011. She lives with her husband and son in Western Massachusetts. She serves as the rabbi for Congregation Beth Israel in North Adams, MA

Dheisheh Refugee Camp, Bethlehem, 2012
Dheisheh Refugee Camp, Bethlehem, 2012

Historic photo of Dheisheh Refugee Camp (1952) from approximately the same vantage point. “. . . standard-issue developing-world cement block structures. . .”
1952_web