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July 29, 2010

Israel cracks down on dissent

The Israeli parliament is considering several new laws that could seriously impact the ability of citizens to criticise the government, according to rights groups. Human Rights Watch is reporting a crackdown on political activists who criticise Israeli’s treatment of the Palestinians. In what rights groups consider part of an alarming pattern, Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, recently admitted to spying on a young Australian activist in the West Bank. Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros reports from Jerusalem.

It is only Palestine

Posted: 28 Jul 2010 09:22 AM PDT

8000 rockets are no excuse
Suicide bombers, it’s all just a ruse
Unless you’re Israel, self-defense is right
A Jewish army response is disproportionate might
The activists sailed to deliver their aid
Jihad cash is what they were paid
Turkish delight in the media’s glare
Slashing knives don’t seems fair
And the song goes on…

This is how I sat listening to the charming power of music: a strikingly amazing Israeli piece made me on the verge of crying, sympathizing with the poor defenseless Israelis against the terrifically heavily-armed and fanatic Palestinians.

However, while I sat staring at the young lady, as she gently played the piano with her slight fingers, a sudden immense collection of images kept turning up in my mind: images of bloody corpses lying lifelessly on the ground amidst the rubble; a huge devastated area, which had just been bombarded by a US-made F16, covered with an enormous, rising, thick, black smoke; images of phosphorus bomb, thousands of serpentine white braids descending like white lines of smoke creeping towards the earth to burn; images of a mother tearing her hair, crying over the death of her eldest son who hasn’t been married for more than a month, the agonizing wails of the mother are drastically intensified by the dumb silence of the wife who retreated to a corner of her crammed room, covered in black, and staring at the crying women; images of women and children endlessly queuing up in the early morning in front of a bakery waiting for their lot of bread; images of a firefighter standing before a huge burning fire, which lit the dead night, holding on to the water hose while helicopters hovering above in the sky in the aftermath of shelling a mosque; images of trickling blood, trickling tears, corpses, destruction and debris; sounds of wails, cries, whines, snivels, bombs, overhead drones, and prayer calls. All these images, and others far more disconcerting, filled my mind as the song went on.

The Jewish girl poured her magical voice out while this series kept turning in my mind. The girl apparently believed that she is oppressed, for she was singing with all her heart, with a sad and melancholic expression on her face, which I believe would make way better sense on the faces against whom she sang. At any rate, I would have no problem to believe she is oppressed, but from this video it is unclear – who is oppressing who? I would have been the first to side with the girl had she chosen to be another one’s enemy (perhaps ‘enemy’ here is unpleasant to describe such a sensitive delicate girl, but this is the actual fact).

Let’s keep ourselves away from illusive political talk and unceasing historical arguments and pose the ultimate question: who is in power? Who is murdering the other? Who is besieging the other? Who is occupying the other? Who is waiting at checkpoints for long hours in mid-day under the burning sun of September? Who has lost 1500 in less 22 days? Who is spending the nights in the dark? There is an unending series of ‘who is’?

‘Only Israel’ was the name of the song. Only Israel doesn’t have the right to self-defense. Only Israel doesn’t have the right to respond. Only Israelis are not cared for. Only Israel is discriminated against while the Palestinians, who are never mentioned in the song, are surrounded by cousins flowing with oil demanding the Israelis to give up their land! It would have given me a stoic smile to have watched myself listen to these words. Can’t she take herself as far back as to 1948? Who has taken the other’s land? Can’t she open up her eyes and see things better than that? How accurate it would have been had “Israel” been replaced with “Palestine!” It is only Israel, young lady, who has the right to talk, attack, kill, bomb, besiege others, seize their land, expel them, build settlements, own weapons and the list continues.

It is only Israel.

The music was no longer charming, and the words were a greater ruse than the ‘suicide bombers’ she spoke of, for we both had not heard of a suicide bomber in the region for long (perhaps the disproportionate bombing helped wipe them out). The words were a ruse, for the 8000 rockets certainly look different when you consider how many Israelis were killed or even hurt by these rockets. It might amuse the young lady to know that these 8000 rockets put together will almost certainly weigh less than just eight of the several hundred bombs that Israel dropped in only one area in the last war. It is a ruse.

I am not going to refute the lyrics of the song one by one, nor am I to defend myself against the song. I will only backtrack to the one moment where I felt myself going with the rhythm, abandoning my people’s misery in the blink of an eye. I twitched. I felt the grave sin of my treachery and knew I should tell no one of how fragile my faith and I are against the poignant influences of a short piece of music.

Yes, young lady, the song is all just a ruse: It is only Palestine.

Mohammed Rabah Suliman, 21, is a student of English Literature at the Islamic University of Gaza. He blogs at

عدروب الهوى – فيروز

Live Video of Ethnic cleansing in the Israeli?? Negev

Neve Gordon writes in The Guardian about arriving in the Bedouin village of al-Arakib as Israeli bulldozers finish razing it to the ground:

The signs of destruction were immediately evident. I first noticed the chickens and geese running loose near a bulldozed house, and then saw another house and then another one, all of them in rubble. A few children were trying to find a shaded spot to hide from the scorching desert sun, while behind them a stream of black smoke rose from the burning hay. The sheep, goats and the cattle were nowhere to be seen – perhaps because the police had confiscated them.

Scores of Bedouin men were standing on a yellow hill, sharing their experiences from the early morning hours, while all around them uprooted olive trees lay on the ground. A whole village comprising between 40 and 45 houses had been completely razed in less than three hours.

I suddenly experienced deja vu: an image of myself walking in the rubbles of a destroyed village somewhere on the outskirts of the Lebanese city of Sidon emerged. It was over 25 years ago, during my service in the Israeli paratroopers. But in Lebanon the residents had all fled long before my platoon came, and we simply walked in the debris. There was something surreal about the experience, which prevented me from fully understanding its significance for several years. At the time, it felt like I was walking on the moon.

This time the impact of the destruction sank in immediately. Perhaps because the 300 people who resided in al-Arakib, including their children, were sitting in the rubble when I arrived, and their anguish was evident; or perhaps because the village is located only 10 minutes from my home in Be’er Sheva and I drive past it every time I go to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem; or perhaps because the Bedouins are Israeli citizens, and I suddenly understood how far the state is ready to go to accomplish its objective of Judaising the Negev region; what I witnessed was, after all, an act of ethnic cleansing.

Here is another video that was posted on Promised Land:

And here are some amazing images from Activestills


Busloads of civilians cheer as Israelis uproot Bedouin village of 200


by Philip Weiss on July 27, 2010 · 44 comments

News reports confirm the report we ran last night of Israel’s bulldozing of a Bedouin village in the Negev, uprooting 40 families, 200 people, to make way for what–a forest created with the auspices of the Jewish National Fund? Here’s the shocking report from CNN–shades of the cheering for the war on Gaza:

Witnesses told CNN that the Israeli forces arrived at the village accompanied by busloads of civilians who cheered as the dwellings were demolished. They said armed police deployed with tear gas, water cannon, two helicopters and bulldozers.

Below is a press release from several groups speaking on behalf of the village, which it says was 300 people, and passing along a horrific quote from Netanyahu– that in Sunday’s Cabinet meeting, he sounded a warning about “a situation in which a demand for national rights will be made from some quarters inside Israel, for example in the Negev, should the area be left without a Jewish majority. Such things happened in the Balkans, and it is a real threat.” I can’t find that quote online. I do see that Netanyahu described non-Jewish immigration as a “concrete threat.”

Al Arakib Popular Committee – Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality – Recognition Forum – Tarabut – Gush Shalom Press Release

July 27, 2010

Early this morning police raided the unrecognized Bedouin village of al-Arakib in the Negev, destroyed all 40 of its houses, and evicted more than 300 residents. The residents, mostly children, were left homeless.

The unprecedented raid began at about 4:30 in the morning, residents were surprised to wake up surrounded by a huge force of 1,500 police with guns, stun grenades, helmets and shields, including hundreds of Special Riot Police (Yasam) as well as mounted police, helicopters and bulldozers.

At the residents’ call, dozens of left-wing activists and volunteers arrived from all over the country, helping them to offer non-violent resistance. Several residents were bruised and beaten by police, though not needing medical attention. One woman demonstrator was detained by the police.

The police removed the residents’ property into prepared containers, and bulldozers demolished the residential buildings and sheepfolds and destroyed the residents’ fruit orchards and olive tree groves. The villagers, mostly children and old people, were left stunned near the destroyed village, shelterless and waterless under the blazing sun.

The destruction of the village was carried out despite dispute over ownership of the land still pending in the courts. Residents of al-Arakib are neither squatters nor invaders: their village has existed many years before the creation of Israel in 1948. Residents had been evicted by the state in 1951, but returned to the land on which they live and which they cultivate. Ownership of the land is now the subject of proceedings in the Be’er Sheva District Court, where academic researchers have already testified in confirmation of the residents’ ownership right in the land.

The destruction’s declared aim is to facilitate plans by the Jewish National Fund to plant a wood on the site. We regard this demolition as a criminal act. Bedouin citizens of Israel are not enemies, and forestation of the Negev is not a reasonable pretext for destroying a community which is more than 60 years old, dispossessing its residents, and violating the basic rights of hundreds of Israeli civilians, men, women and children. This act by the state authorities is no “law enforcement” – it is a act of war, such as is undertaken against an enemy.

This act cannot be dissociated from yesterday’s statement by Prime Minister Netanyahu, who at the cabinet meeting sounded a warning about “a situation in which a demand for national rights will be made from some quarters inside Israel, for example in the Negev, should the area be left without a Jewish majority. Such things happened in the Balkans, and it is a real threat.”

Presenting the Bedouin citizens of Israel as “a real threat” gives legitimacy to the expulsion of Israel’s Bedouin citizens from the Negev in order to “Judaize” it. We call on all who care for democracy to give their support to this threatened community.

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