Those places are unrecognizable now disfigured by misery . . .” (Seema V. Atalla)


Israeli forces to punitively demolish Palestinian houses in Hebron-district town

Israeli forces Tuesday overnight notified the families of three Palestinians of their apparent intention to demolish their houses in Beit Kahel town, northwest of Hebron.
· · · Security sources confirmed that an Israeli military force surrounded the houses of the families of Ahmad Aref Asafra and Mu’men Said Zuhur, currently held in Israeli detention, besides to the house of Mu’men’s grandfather, Attieh, dragged the occupants outside before taking measurements of the three houses. . . This came 18 days after the . . . killing of an off-duty Israeli soldier outside the settlement of Ofra on last Thursday.   More . . . .

•   Punitive House Demolitions, the Prohibition of Collective Punishment, and the
Supreme Court of Israel 
Penn State International Law Review: Vol. 21: No. 3, Article 4 (2003)
By Shane Darcy
Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention
. . . to which Israel is a signatory and to which it is bound as an Occupying Power, prohibits the destruction of property, ‘except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations. Similarly, Article 23 of the 1907 Hague Regulations stipulates that it is ‘especially forbidden to “destroy or to seize the enemy’s property, unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war.” By the very fact that housing demolitions are carried out as a punitive measure would defeat any claim that such actions can be justified as being an absolute military necessityAvailable here

Israel Stops Construction of New School in Bedouin Village under Rightwing Pressure

Palestine Chronicle
August 26, 2019
The Israeli government has moved to stop construction of a school in an unrecognized Bedouin Palestinian village, after pressure from a notorious right-wing group, reported Haaretz. According to the report, a Finance Ministry department that enforces planning and building laws has issued the stop-work order for the high school at al-Zarnug in the Negev.  More . . . .

Netanyahu to expand Dolev settlement in reprisal for Friday’s attack

The Palestinian Information Center
August 27, 2019
Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to double the size of the illegal settlement of Dolev in the occupied West Bank in response to Friday’s bomb attack that killed one settler and injured two others.
· · · According to Israeli media sources, Netanyahu told his office director on Monday to prepare a plan for 300 housing units in Dolev settlement in order to submit it for approval to the regional planning and construction council.  More . . . .

PA slams US State Department for removing it from country list

The Middle East Monitor
August 27, 2019
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has slammed the US State Department for removing it from its online list of countries, saying the move constitutes yet more evidence of the US’ alignment with the Israeli right-wing.
· · · · Previously the State Department website featured the “Palestinian Territories” under its “Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs: Countries & Areas” web page, where it offered information about the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip.
· · · However, the newly-updated webpage now makes no mention of the occupied territories or Palestine, referring to Palestinians only once on the “Israel” subpage. This page reads: “The U.S. is committed to supporting the parties in efforts to reach a lasting, comprehensive peace agreement that offers a brighter future to both Israel and the Palestinians.”  More . . . .


COLD COMFORT — Seema V. Atalla

The lost places are easy to list:

My grandmother’s Haifa
where she wore her hair in waist-long braids,
gathered with her neighbors by the seaside to chat,
and at the tiny, crisp fish she loved, fried to perfection.

My father’s Nazareth
where he carried grain to the mill for his mother,
and listened to the blind man who sat outside the church
playing hymns on his flute.

My grandmother’s Jerusalem
where she planted banks of fragrant lavender,
taught kindergarten,
and rolled grape leaves for dinner, leaf by leaf.

My mother’s Ramallah
cool green peaceful place
where she and her sisters learned algebra and embroidery
among the sighing pines and rosy stone homes.

Those places are unrecognizable now
by misery
riddled with desperation
choked with the nitty gritty grime of actuality.

Simpler to turn back to the long-cherished images.
The lost places seem quaint now,
perhaps a little faded . . .
we revisit them
the way we touch an old injury,
fingering the scar
over and over
finding comfort
in pressing the place
where it hurts.

From WE BEGIN HERE: POEMS FOR PALESTINE AND LEBANON, edited by Kamal Boullata and Kathy Engel (Interlink Press, 2007).

Palestinian-American Seema V. Atalla was born in New York, completed high school in Amman, Jordan, and now lives in Southern California where she teaches at Mt. San Antonio College. In 1992 she obtained an MA in Comparative Literature from UCLA. She is best-known for her translations of Arabic short stories and poems.


“. . . The gift you tried to give me. I’ve found it. it’s been with me all along. Jerusalem . . .” (Seema V. Atalla)

Eviatar Slonim, the happy terrorist (or extremist?)
Eviatar Slonim, the happy terrorist (or extremist?)

August 5, 2015
JERUSALEM – Israeli police Wednesday asked two East Jerusalem Palestinian families to leave their homes, under the pretext of absentee ownership, according to WAFA correspondent.
____Israeli police ordered Sabri Abu-Nab and Abdullah Abu-Nab . . . and their families to leave their homes before August 11, because the two properties are “absentee”.
____Jewish settler organizations, claim the two homes are located on the site of an abandoned Jewish synagogue.
____Abdullah Abu-Nab . . . said settler groups had no proof of ownership of the two homes, which have been inhabited by the Abu-Nab family for hundreds of years, even before the establishment of Israel.
____Zuhair Rajabi, a pro-Jerusalemites activist and advocate, said . . . lawyers will travel to Turkey to obtain paperwork from the Ottoman era that proves the Abu-Nab’s ownership of the two homes.
(More . . .)

August 5, 2015
JERUSALEM ― Israeli forces detained three Palestinians after raiding their homes in the neighborhood of al-Issawiya in occupied East Jerusalem, locals said.
____Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, a member of a local monitoring team, said that Israeli forces detained two brothers, identified as Allan and Anan Obeid, in addition to Ayob Bahaa Obeid.
____Abu al-Hummus said that clashes broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinians during the detention raid.
(More. . .)

August 4, 2015
JERUSALEM (AFP) — A second suspected Jewish extremist was arrested Tuesday in Israel following the firebombing of a Palestinian home that burned a baby alive, the Shin Bet internal security force said.
____Israel on Monday arrested Meir Ettinger, whose grandfather Meir Kahane founded the racist anti-Palestinian Kach group, and a court prolonged his detention until the weekend on suspicion of “nationalist crimes”.
____”A second individual, Eviatar Slonim, was arrested for belonging to an extremist organisation,” a Shin Bet spokeswoman told AFP, without providing details on any charges against him.
____Israeli television reported that the office of Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein had given permission for authorities to place three suspected Jewish extremists in “administrative detention”.
(More. . .)

Extremist settlers spray racist slogans on walls of homes and shops in East Jerusalem (Photo from Al-Quds newspaper)
Extremist settlers spray racist slogans on walls of homes and shops in East Jerusalem (Photo from Al-Quds newspaper)

August 5, 2015
Extremist Israeli settlers on Wednesday morning have sprayed hate slogans on walls of homes and shops near Damascus gate in East Jerusalem, calling for “Death of Arabs” . . . .
____For their part, Israeli occupation authorities claimed to have opened an investigation in the matter, but Jerusalem locals assured that these investigations are never taken seriously.
____They added that, if detained, the attackers are released under the claim that they have mental-issues. Despite the numerous attacks on Islamic and christian sanctuaries, none of the extremist Jewish settlers is held accountable for their crimes.
(More. . .)

❺ Opinion
From: +972 MAGAZINE
Betty Herschman
August 4, 2015
There are many ways to test the notion of Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel. One could do a comparative analysis of how much the municipality invests in East and West Jerusalem — roughly 1:9. One could drive up the road that neatly divides the bougainvillea draped neighborhood/settlement of East Talpiot and Palestinian Jabal Mukaber, a model of a neighborhood excluded from the city planning process; or consider that Palestinians, nearly 40 percent of the population of the city, are second-class residents denied the right to vote in national elections. For absolute clarity, one need only look at the eight Jerusalem neighborhoods that are located squarely within the municipal borders…but relegated to the other side of the separation barrier.
____ Findings from Ir Amim’s comprehensive new report, “Displaced in their Own City,” reveal that at least 80,000 and possibly more than 100,000 Palestinians — between one-fourth to one-third of the entire Palestinian population of Jerusalem, linked to the city for generations by ties of family, livelihood, economics, identity, culture, and religion — now live in these abandoned enclaves. The area of Kufr Aqab and Semiramis as well as the Shuafat refugee camp, including the neighborhoods of Ras Khamis, Ras Shehadeh, and Dahiyat al-Salaam, are totally, indisputably divided from Jerusalem by a concrete wall and checkpoints, as well as the municipality’s near complete abdication of responsibility for providing basic services, safety oversight and law enforcement.
(More. . .)
(See *** below for related articles.)


One afternoon
you tried to give me Jerusalem.

Knobbly onion domes,
purple windows stained with God’s tears
carrot juice, cobblestones
your girlhood ringlets, sunny laugh
the very gates of the Old City
so faithfully embroidered

It was impossible ― too precious
the gift, too short the time
or so I thought then

You suffered, like Jerusalem
and left us

Now I think of your finger
the one that clutched a live wire
the day you nearly fell off the roof
the pinkie forever clenched, scarred
a lifetime that never healed.

Decades later, oceans away, I want to tell you:
I have it.
The gift you tried to give me. I’ve found it
it’s been with me all along.

Jerusalem like a blue bead embedded in my tongue
Jerusalem like a rock in the pit of my stomach
ring whose metal digs into my skin
ache under one drib, which never goes away

the pain cross-stitched into my heart
with a needle that pierces both ways:
going in and coming out.

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 Barnes & Noble

Palestinian-American Seema V. Atalla was born in New York, completed high school in Amman, Jordan, and now lives in Southern California where she teaches at Mt. San Antonio College. In 1992 she obtained an MA in Comparative Literature from UCLA. She is best-known for her translations of Arabic short stories and poems.
Poem first published in We Begin Here: Poems for Palestine and Lebanon, edited by Kannal Boullata and Kathy Engel (Interlink Press, 2007).


The separation wall surrounds a Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem,
The separation wall surrounds a Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem,