Showing posts with label Subjugation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Subjugation. Show all posts

November 19, 2009

Jahalin Bedouin suffer without representation

Kieron Monks, The Electronic Intifada, 19 November 2009

The Jabal Bedouin camp near Abu Dis is situated near a large garbage dump. (Lazar Simeonov)

Beyond the demolitions in its suburbs and the frequent, violent clashes around the al-Aqsa mosque, Jerusalem is the scene of a quieter shame. Southeast of the holy city live the Jahalin Bedouin, a community that has been repeatedly displaced and transferred, now enduring unimaginable poverty beside Jerusalem's largest garbage dump. An embarrassment to Palestinians and Israelis alike, the Bedouin and their unique way of life are under grave threat.

Eid Raeb is a coordinator between the Jabal camp and the European nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that are its lifeblood. "Bedouin life is finished," he declared without hesitation. "Sometimes when I look outside I imagine how it was before, but I know that life is over." Eid is one of the founding members of the camp after they were displaced from their land that became Ma'ale Adumim, one of the fastest growing Israeli settlements. "After they built [Ma'ale Adumim] in 1979, they began to move us. At first very slowly, one family at a time. After 1993 and the Oslo agreements they built many houses and said they needed all the land." The Oslo agreements placed them in Area C, under Israeli control. "At first when they told us to move here we refused, but the Israelis said they would use force. They promised us building permission, electricity, water and streets. When we came here there was nothing, just open land."

The Jabal camp was established in 1997, with each Bedouin family receiving around $10,000 compensation from the Israeli government. But the promises of infrastructural support were reneged on; most crucially the Bedouin were denied permission to build, forcing them to live for six years in shipping containers. In 1998, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights expressed "deep concern at the situation of the Jahalin Bedouin families who were forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands to make way for the expansion of the Ma'ale Adumim settlement." The report also condemned the "manner in which the Government of Israel has housed these families -- in steel container vans in a garbage dump in Abu Dis in subhuman living conditions." After concerted pressure from aid organizations and foreign NGOs the residents of Jabal were finally granted permission to build on their land.

Eid claims that the site was uninhabited when the Bedouin were moved in, that it was Israeli land to give away and that "Palestinians have no problem with us being here." This is not the case according to Dr. Abdullah Abu Helal, a long-time resident of Abu Dis, the neighboring Palestinian village. "Their village is built on land confiscated from Palestinians in Abu Dis. We think very badly of them, that they work with Israelis and sometimes they behave like Israeli soldiers. We had a demonstration against the stealing of our land and they came to shoot at us. That they have their own problems and difficulties does not mean they should accept to live on Palestinian land." Abu Helal referred to a neighboring Bedouin camp where he claims the residents refused to displace Palestinians and now live in temporary tents away from Abu Dis town, explaining that "they trade milk and cheese with us, we provide them with teachers. They are with us in our struggle against the Israelis."

A home in the Jabal Bedouin camp. (Lazar Simeonov)

Eid freely admits to his split loyalties. "The Bedouin here are Palestinians. But before when Jordan had this land we were Jordanians and most Bedouin feel closer to Jordan. We work with Israelis and if there is a problem, Israeli police come here." It is easy to see how their dealings with the occupation forces would be enough to poison a Palestinian's view of the Jabal Bedouin, while Eid has nothing but contempt for the Palestinian Authority (PA). He explained that "They are not a government, they are like thieves. We are starting from zero here, we need schools, water, roads but the PA is helping us only with teachers. We know that more than $1 million has come from international aid but we do not see it. Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] and the PA take it."

The camp's greatest concern is the massive garbage dump located just 300 meters away where the majority of Jerusalem's waste is disposed, including tons of chemicals and dangerous gases each day. The site predates Jabal but as Eid explained, "For the last ten years [the Israelis] have been promising to take the garbage. They say they will relocate it to a place near Jericho but even if they do the problem will not go away, it is in the earth now. We have now many cases of skin disease in our people and animals and we do not know how to treat it. One animal will catch it and then spread the sickness to many others. Sometimes we cannot see it for weeks." Jabal's 3,500-strong population does not include a single doctor, so anyone who falls sick must take a long drive to Bethany. "If we need a doctor quickly it is a big problem", said Eid.

Two months ago, Eid was visited by a representative from the Israeli Land Administration, guaranteeing the garbage would be moved in the next two years. "I would like to trust her but I believe only in actions," he explained. There was less optimistic news from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. He added that the camp was informed by a spokesperson that "The most recent meeting between the interior minister and the mayor of Ma'ale Adumim resulted in a decision to postpone any kind of plan for at least six months."

There are many precedents for Bedouin being forced to endure such conditions. Between 2002-04 the Israeli government destroyed 7,500 acres of Bedouin crops in the Negev desert by spraying the area with illegal toxic chemicals. The effects were hugely damaging to residents and animals in the area and the policy was widely condemned. At the time Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert defended the policy, stating "we will displace unrecognized Bedouin communities to make room for thousands of Jews." Recognition has been a huge problem for the Bedouin and around 20 percent of their population are not even registered as refugees, giving them no protection from displacement and brutal treatment. There is currently a court case on behalf of Ezariya camp (Bethany), to determine whether their residents have any right to reverse the 257 eviction orders that have been issued against them.

Their rights infringed upon by the Israeli authorities and resented by their Palestinian neighbors, and struggling to maintain their way of life, the residents of Jabal face an uncertain future. Although they now own the rights to the land, the continued expansion of Ma'ale Adumim poses a constant menace. Without the resources to support themselves they are reliant on a handful of foreign NGOs which have been unable to find solutions for the garbage problem or the resultant diseases. Without urgent attention Jabal could become a humanitarian crisis, but there is no authority willing to represent them.

Kieron Monks is a freelance reporter from London, writing for Ma'an News, Palestine News Network and publications in Europe.

IOF raids wound 3 Palestinians, IOF soldiers round up dozens in Gaza

19/11/2009 - 10:23 AM

RAFAH, (PIC)-- Israeli warplanes pounded the tunnels area in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, and a position for the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, at dawn Thursday wounding three citizens, local sources reported.

They told the PIC reporter that Israeli F-16s fired two missiles at the tunnels area on the Palestinian-Egyptian border and injured three civilians.

The sources noted that a few minutes later the warplanes blasted a position for the Qassam Brigades west of Khan Younis, also in southern Gaza, with two missiles but no casualties were reported.

The third raid targeted the same position almost an hour later while police squads were combing the area, no casualties were known yet.

The local initiative committee in Beit Hanun, north of the Strip, said that the Israeli occupation forces rounded up tens of Palestinians in an incursion in the vicinity of the industrial area near Beit Hanun (Erez) crossing.

The committee said that the IOF soldiers opened fire at the Palestinian workers from the military watchtowers in the vicinity of the crossing wounding a number of them before detaining many others.

It said in a statement that around 30 heavily armed soldiers attacked the workers and took them to the crossing.

November 18, 2009

Globalization Unchecked:
How Alien Media is Suffocating Real Culture

By Ramzy Baroud
November 18, 2009

A Muslim family sits across of me in café, in a largely Muslim Asia country. An older woman shyly hunches over and desperately trying to avoid eye contact with the giant plasma screen TV, blazing loud music on the popular music video channel, MTV. The scantily dressed presenter introduces her ‘top song’ for the week. Beyonce, dressed in so very little, annoyingly reiterates that she is “a single lady.” The old woman’s son is mesmerized by what he sees. He pays no attention to his mother, young wife or even his own son who wreaks havoc in the coffee shop. The man’s T-Shirt reads: “what the fxxx are you looking at?”

Respecting the message on his T-Shirt, I try to keep to myself, but find it increasingly difficult. The wife is completely covered, all but her face. The contradictions are ample, overwhelming even.

The attire of the family, the attitude of the ladies and even the man with the provocative T-Shirt are all signs of the cultural schizophrenia that permeates many societies in the so-called Third World. It’s a side effect of globalization that few wish to talk about.

It’s almost always about trade, foreign investment, capital flow and all the rest. But what about culture, identity, traditions and ways of life; do these things amount to anything?

True, Globalization has various manifestations. If viewed strictly from economic terms, then the debate delves into trade barriers, protectionism and tariffs. Powerful countries demand smaller countries to break down all trade barriers, while maintaining a level of protectionism over their own. Smaller countries, knowing that they cannot do much to hide from the hegemonic nature of globalization, form their own economic clubs, hoping to negotiate fairer deals. And the economic tug-of-war continues, between diplomacy and threats, dialogue and arm twisting. This is the side of globalization with which most of us are familiar.

But there is another side of globalization, one that is similarly detrimental to some countries, and profitable to others: cultural globalization - not necessarily the domination of a specific culture, in this case Western culture, over all the rest - but rather the unbridgeable disadvantage of poorer countries, who lack the means to withstand the unmitigated takeover of their traditional ways of life by the dazzling, well-packaged and branded ‘culture’ imparted upon them around the clock.

What audiences watch, read and listen to in most countries outside the Western hemisphere is not truly Western culture in the strict definition of the term, of course. It’s a selective brand of a culture, a reductionst presentation of art, entertainment, news, and so on, as platforms to promote ideas that would ultimately sell products. For the dwarfed representation of Western culture, it’s all about things, tangible material values that can be obtained by that simple and final act of pulling out one’s credit card. To sell a product, however, media also sell ideas, often one sided, and create unjustifiable fascinations with ways of life that hardly represent natural progression for many vanishing cultures and communities around the world.

Recently in some Gulf country, a few Turkish teenagers turned an Internet café into a shouting match as they engaged one another in some violent computer game. I desperately tried to mind my own business, but their shrieks of victory and defeat were deafening. “Kill the Terrorist”, one of them yelled in English, with a thick Turkish accent. The “Rs” in “terrorists” rolled over his tongue so unnaturally. For a moment, he was an “American”, killing “terrorists”, who, bizarrely looked more Turkish than American. As I walked out, I glanced at the screen. Among the rubble, there was a mosque, or what was left of it. The young Turkish Muslim was congratulated by his friends for his handy work.

There is nothing wrong with exchanges of ideas, of course. Cultural interactions are historically responsible for much of the great advancements and evolution in art, science, language, even food and much more. But, prior to globalization, cultural influences were introduced at much slower speed. It allowed societies, big and small, to reflect, consider, and adjust to these unique notions over time. But the globalization of the media is unfair. It gives no chance for mulling anything over, for determining the benefits or the harms, for any sort of value analysis. News, music and even pornography are beamed directly to all sorts of screens and gadgets. When Beyonce sings she is a ‘single lady’, the whole world must know, instantly. This may sound like a harmless act, but the cultural contradictions eventually morph into conflicts and clashes, in figurative and real senses.

More, it makes little sense, for example, that Asian audiences are consumers of Fox News and Sky News, while both are regarded as rightwing media platforms in their original markets. And what can Nepali television, for example, do to control media moguls and morphing media empires all around? Young people grow, defining themselves according to someone else’s standards, thus the Turkish teenager, temporarily adopting the role of the “American”, blows up his own mosque.

Globalization is not a fair game, of course. Those with giant economies get the lion’s share of the ‘collective’ decision-making. Those with more money and global outlook tend to have influential media, also with global outlook. In both scenarios, small countries are lost between desperately trying to negotiate a better economic standing for themselves, while hopelessly trying to maintain their cultural identity, which defined their people, generation after generation throughout history.

The Muslim family eventually left the coffee shop. The husband watched MTV throughout his stay; the young wife, clicked endlessly on her iPhone, and the older woman glanced at the TV from time to time, then quickly looked the other way. One is certain that a few years ago, that family would have enjoyed an entirely different experience. Alas, a few years from today, they might not even sit at the same table.

source: Palestine Chronicle

Israel uses Palestinian prisoners as guinea pigs to test drugs

Palestinian Information Center
November 16, 2009

GAZA- Sawasya-center for human rights stated Monday that Israel uses Palestinian prisoners as guinea pigs without their consent to test the efficacy of new drugs manufactured by its health ministry on their bodies, calling for an immediate investigation into this violation.

The center cited as evidence that Israeli interrogators gave prisoner Zuhair Al-Iskafi an injection he never saw before which resulted in losing his hair all over his body permanently, adding that similar incidents happened to other prisoners.

The center appealed to Arab and international media outlets to highlight this serious issue and expose the Israeli violations committed against Palestinian prisoners.

It also called on human rights organizations and the world health organization (WHO) to send a delegation of medical specialists to the occupied Palestinian lands to visit Israeli prisons and examine the detainees who were subjected to these tests.

In another context, the Palestinian prisoner committee reported Sunday that the Israeli administration of Hadarim prison decided to deprive five Palestinian detainees from pursuing their academic studies at Hebrew universities without giving reasons.

The committee called on human rights organizations to intervene and pressure the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) to reverse this arbitrary decision taken against the prisoners, asserting that this measure is a prelude to depriving other prisoners from their right to education.

For its part, the popular resistance movement stated Monday that the Palestinian resistance will not rest until it frees all prisoners from Israeli jails.

During a sit-in in solidarity with prisoners held in the Red Cross headquarters in Gaza, spokesman for the movement Abu Ali Azaalan talked about the suffering endured by the Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails and stressed the need for official and popular action to stop the Israeli violations against them.

source: uruknet

November 17, 2009

Palestinian History and Identity in Israeli Schools

By Sa'id Barghouti - Published in Nakba Education on the Path of Return (Autumn 2009)

Children from Kufr Qasem develop their own activities to educate one another about history, geography and their rights as part of Badil's Youth Education and Activation project, August 2009. Badil

This article is based on my personal experience as a teacher of Palestinian students in Israeli public schools and through my work as school inspector and history curriculum team coordinator for Arab schools from 1975 until 2004. During this period I was engaged in efforts at textbook reform, and on research about Israel's education system which I undertook for my doctoral dissertation.1


Israel has a highly centralized public education system which is operated and controlled by the Ministry of Education. The only major exception is the ultra-orthodox Jewish education system which enjoys autonomy for ideological reasons.2 The state education system operated by the Ministry is composed of two separate streams: the public secular stream, and public national religious stream.
Palestinian students make up one quarter of all students in the Israeli state education system.3 All public schools in Palestinian communities in Israel belong to the public secular stream; no public religious schools are available for Palestinians. Public education for Palestinians is administered by the Department for Arab Education, which is a special administrative entity within the Ministry of Education and under its direct control. The Department for Arab Education has no autonomous decision making authorities.

Up until 1987, the Department for Arab Education was headed by a Jewish-Israeli director who was appointed by the Ministry and involved in policy making to ensure control over the Palestinian population.4 Since then, Palestinians have been appointed to lead the Department but have been excluded from policy decision making as a result of parallel organizational reform which provided for the integration of Arab public schools into the Jewish public education system and its local authorities. Thus, while the Department for Arab Education continued to exist and came to be headed by a Palestinian employed by the Ministry, the heads of Arab Education have held no real power. The Department is only meant to oversee the education of Palestinians and answer to Jewish-Israelis who continue to be in charge.5

From the beginning, Israeli politicians saw in the state education system, an instrument to realize Zionist political objectives: the founding of a Jewish nation with a shared identity rooted in Zionist beliefs.6 Conversely, the educational system was used to ensure a complete lack of Arab and Palestinian identity among the Palestinian citizens of the state.7

In 1953, Israel passed the Public Education Law with the aim to centralize the education system. In this context, the goals of public education were defined and formalized for the first time. The first goal stated that the educational system seeks to “raise youth on the values of Israeli culture, and love of the [Jewish] nation and people of Israel.”8 This goal remained in place throughout subsequent amendments of the law. No positive goals have been formulated for the education of Palestinians based on the values of Arab, Muslim, and Christian culture and the Palestinian nation. Thus, the teaching of Palestine's history in Israeli schools, both Jewish and Arab, is based on the Zionist narrative which holds that Jews are one people that formed their identity in the land of Israel (Palestine) more than one thousand years ago, and returned to it to form that identity again.9

Of course Palestine was, and has remained, inhabited by its Arab-Palestinian population, who have marked it with its culture, landmarks, and language. But the Zionist narrative avoids facing this reality. This is expressed in Israeli educational texts and curricula through:
  • the secularization, of myths from the Torah, i.e. their transformation into “facts”: the myth of “the promised land”, for example, is turned into an actual “land of the forefathers” and the presentation of Israel as “the historical homeland of the Jewish nation;”
  • promotion of a system of social beliefs, such as “we are victims,” “we call for peace,” “our wars are defensive,” “our arms are pure,” “Palestinians hate us,” “they are the aggressors;”10
  • selectiveness in the choice of facts and explanations, ignoring contradictory arguments, especially facts connected to Arab-Palestinian history, or at best, presenting them as a “narrative” that is part of distorted history.
Main findings from research

In 1953, the Ministry of Education issued the first history curriculum for Jewish public and religious elementary schools.11 This curriculum was translated into Arabic with some adjustments,12 and Palestinian students were expected to learn the same narrative as their Jewish peers. Arab and Jewish teachers were subsequently charged with the task of preparing textbooks according to that curriculum. History at that time was taught in a complete chronological cycle, with ideas introduced in elementary school (fifth through eighth grade), revisited and expanded upon in High School (ninth through twelfth grade). In my research, I undertook, among others, to investigate how Zionist history has been presented to Palestinian students in history textbooks up until 1975.

Early history textbooks for Palestinian fifth graders,13 tell the history of Palestine from the perspective of the [Jewish] “people of Israel” based on the Torah. Exceptions are a few scattered paragraphs which state that the Canaanites colonized the mountains of “Judea” and the “Negev,” the Jebusites colonized the mountains of Jerusalem, and that Palestinians differ from Canaanites and are not Semites.14

As expected, the texts were strongly driven by the Torah: “The Hebrews were begot from Abraham, who crossed the Euphrates and settled in an area which naturally splits into three parts, including the middle region, called Sharon, and the northern region, which is separated from the middle region by the Jezreel Valley.”15 Canaanites that lived in that area are described as “the primitive tribes.”16

The textbook then mentions Jacob, calling him by his last name, Israel: “Israel became the father of the Israelite tribes.”17 It then describes the exile of the Israelites to Egypt, and their flight from Egypt, led by Moses: “The exodus of the Israelites led by Moses was an important event in their history that remained in the nation’s mind with the passing of eras. It was a great event that placed them in history as a nation.”18 When the book gets to Joshua Ben Nun, it points to his heroic feats and the sacrifice of his people, “which secured victory for them against their enemies.”19

The textbook follows the narrative from the Torah, era after era, until the destruction of the temple and the Babylonian capture. From there, the Jews return from captivity during the reign of Cyrus the Great. The book does not deviate from heroic descriptions of the Israelites, justifying all of their wars, and describing the indigenous population of Canaanites and others as “enemies and primitive people” while using contemporary Hebrew names for names of places and localities, and ignoring their original names.

This method is repeated with regard to the history of Palestine under Hellenic rule. The main thrust of the text here concerns the heroic deeds of the Maccabees and their wars, “Judah Maccabee went forth with his brothers to secure the foundations of governance and protect the people from enemies, battling the Adamites, and Omarites and the inhabitants of the Galilee, as well as standing up to military campaigns of the Seleucids.”20

Sixth grade history textbooks do not differ in method or content. The history of Palestine under Roman rule is the history of Jews in “Israel” until the destruction of the temple in 70 BC. About seven hundred years of the indigenous Palestinians' history is absent from the pages of the book until the onset of the Arab-Islamic conquest. It briefly mentions the Arab conquest of Jerusalem under the heading “The Conquest of Jerusalem,” with one sentence in particular standing out: “Omar [the second Muslim caliph] treated the Jews, who helped the Muslims, well, left them their property and pardoned them from paying taxes.”21 The aim of this sentence is to provide assurance of a Jewish presence in the city at that time.

Although this book revolves around Arab-Islamic history and Islamic civilization until the fall of the Abbasid empire, it does not mention Palestine until the start of the crusades. It also remains silent about Arab initiatives in Palestine, such as the building of Ramla by Sulayman bin Abd al-Malek, and the construction of the Hisham Palace in Jericho. Casual mention is given (pp. 155-156) of the building of the Dome of the Rock, and then the Aqsa mosque, during the reign of Abd al-Malek ibn Marwan.

Returning to the history of Palestine, a history textbook for seventh graders called “Yearning for Zion” contains the following sentence: “facing [the Christian oppression of Jews in Europe], their attachment to their beliefs grew and their desire to return to Zion, the land that the Romans forced them out of in the first century AD, deepened.”22 Under the heading “The Relationship Between Jews in Diaspora and the Land of Israel” the book reviews at length stories of individuals or small groups of Jews that immigrated to Tiberias, Safad, and the villages of Galilee between the years 1141-1662. It describes their achievements in every field, portraying them as the ones who made the area blossom.

To sum up, the textbook omits the history of Palestine from 638 to 1791 except insofar as it pertains to Jews. The two main exceptions are the construction the walls of Jerusalem by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1542, to protect the city from Bedouin attacks (p. 186), and the mention of Napoleon's siege of Akka (p. 301).

The Zionist historical narrative is completed in the eighth grade history textbook23 which presents the contemporary history of Palestine. The topic is divided into two units: “The English in Israel” (instead of the British Mandate in Palestine) and “The Founding of the State of Israel.” Thirty of sixty class periods that eighth graders must attend are devoted to this second chapter. In the spirit of the curriculum, the narrative in this book revolves around subheadings with suggestive meanings, such as “The Continuous Yearning for Return and National Independence” (pp. 178-182). This chapter, as well as the chapters that follow, address at length everything that has any connection to contemporary Jewish history from the perspective of the Zionist historical narrative, until the founding of the state of Israel in 1948. Under the heading “War of Independence” (p. 222), the book states that “the armies of the Arab countries entered the country in May of 1948 and fought against the Israeli forces . . . which were able to push back these armies until the four countries that have shared borders with Israel were forced . . . to sign a truce.” As for Arab-Palestinian society, it is completely absent in the textbook. Moreover, not even one word is spent on the Palestinian refugees.

This trend repeats itself in the high school curriculum and textbooks, and which are all translated from Hebrew, with the only exception of the book The History of Arabs prepared by Salman Falah (a former education inspector) who writes that Omar Ibn al-Khatab divided greater Syria into the regions of Hims, Hama, Aleppo and Israel [sic].24

Efforts at educational reform

In 1975, I began my work as school inspector and coordinator for the history team in the Arab schools and set out to change the situation. A first success came in 1976 when a new curriculum was issued for elementary and middle schools.25 The new curriculum differed from its predecessor in the following ways:
  • The name “Palestine” was inserted into the curriculum for the first time, instead of “the land of Israel.” Places were named using their original Arabic names rather than the Hebraized names of the older curriculum;
  • The emphasis on the Torah narrative was reduced, and the histories of other peoples, like the Canaanites, were highlighted. Emphasis on the Zionist narrative of the history of Palestine was reduced, and an Arab-Palestinian historical narrative was introduced for contrast. For instance, a new headline read: “The beginning of Jewish colonization and the Arabs in Palestine26” instead of the previous “Yearning for Zion and the Return to Israel.” In other words, the focus of the curriculum shifted from the Zionist historical narrative of Israel towards a history of Palestine.
Following the publication of the new curriculum, I also oversaw the preparation of a series of books that replaced the previous textbooks. A new book which most strongly related to Palestinian history was a history textbook for the sixth grade.27 It said, for example, that “The Torah states that the prophet Moses . . .” (p. 26), and that “Joshua Ben Nun resorted to subterfuge in his battle against the Canaanites” (p. 28). This stylistic change, which makes mention of the Torah in reported language, improved the objectivity of the text, allowing for a critical approach towards the Torah-Zionist narrative. A seventh grade textbook surveying at length the history of Palestine under the rule of the crusaders, moreover, notes: “The crusaders also built relationships with the Muslims in their everyday life by hiring Arab craftsmen, as well as being influenced by their Eastern style of dress and manners.”28

Part two of the history textbook for the eighth grade contains the heading “Palestine in the Age of Political Organizations”, and says: “For forty years in the nineteenth century, the Ottomans tried to control the inhabitants of Palestine by recognizing local leadership.”29 In this way, the Arab-Palestinian narrative began to gain ground in textbooks, albeit in a limited fashion.
As for high school, I oversaw the preparation of a new curriculum in 1999, which was only approved by the Education Ministry after a two-year long battle. This curriculum included an entire unit called “Modern Arab-Palestinian Society.”30 It covers the Palestinian presence on the land until 1948. In the unit on “The War of 1948,” we prepared a chapter titled “The Origin of the Refugee Problem (Expulsion? Escape?).”31 By the time I stopped working with the Ministry of Education in 2004, a version of the textbook that included this chapter had not yet been published. The Arab-Palestinian narrative did however appear in a general, brief form in the three sections of textbooks over which I oversaw preparation.32One chapter ends with the sentence, “many Palestinians whose cities and villages were occupied were forced to leave their homes and became refugees, because of the dangers of war and its destruction, and because of a number of massacres that were perpetrated against them, such as the Massacre of Deir Yassin in April 1948.”

The ideological backlash

In April 2004, I left my post at the Ministry of Education, but I continued to follow the government's development of the curriculum. A new high school curriculum was issued in 200733, which was followed in 2008 by a new curriculum for elementary and middle school levels,34 replacing both the 1976 and 1999 curricula. The new curriculum for elementary school completely erased modern Palestinian history. Also erased was the unit called “The History of Arab-Palestinian Society in the Modern Era” for high schoolers. Again, the Zionist historical narrative is imposed on Palestinian students in history textbooks which ignore the history and culture of the Palestinian people. Just as in the period before 1975, anything connected to the history of the Palestinian people has been erased in the revised curricula of 2007 and 2008.
Such orientation will leave a negative impact on students in the long term. First, the connection between the Palestinian-Arab students and their history, culture and identity is severed. This effect is reinforced by the lack of extra-curricular educational activities in Arab schools, such as the commemoration of important events, including the Nakba, massacres, and important political events. This in addition to the prohibition on commemorating national personalities and thinkers such as Ghassan Kanafani, Mahmoud Darwish and Edward Said. Such commemorations are now about to become explicitly banned by the Ministry of Education. Severing this connection means that the cultural wellsprings, which allow students to build their collective history and identity, are dried out. As a result, students are likely to slide towards alienation from their homeland, and opportunities for reflection on the Palestinian people's history and their ongoing Nakba, which are vital for students to form their world view, are missed.
The second impact of a Zionist historical narrative in curricula, including the use of Hebrew names and the Hebraization of Arabic names of places in textbooks, is to raise students on the idea that the country, Palestine, called Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel), belongs to Jews. Palestinian students are inculcated with the idea that Jews are the original and oldest inhabitants of the land and the most attached to it. Raising Arab-Palestinian students on this idea, while not providing adequate cultural and historical knowledge to challenge it, encourages alienation from their homeland.

Feelings of alienation will later on undermine the capacity of students to tackle oppressive policies, especially in matters of land and social culture, and transform them into easy prey for the dominant Israeli political discourse which can be summarized as follows: “this is the land of the Jewish people. We returned to our rightful historic homeland and built it up. You Arab-Palestinians are just ‘passers-by,’ strangers to this land, and a source of annoyance to our presence.” This is the discourse underlying Israeli political demands for the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Palestinian history teachers can do little to correct this negative trend. They are limited by the state curriculum and textbooks, and banned from deviating from these texts. They are also monitored by officials in the schools, and by the Ministry of Education. Ultimately, Palestinian students have no choice but to memorize history as it is presented in the textbooks, because they will take their final high school graduation exams (bagrut), in which the Ministry of Education prepares the questions and evaluates the students' answers.

Some would argue that history classes and textbooks are no longer central for students to get to know their history and build a collective memory and identity. New means of communication, as well as the role of television and computers, have become the “vectors” of that memory. Scholars, however, agree that school textbooks, and especially history textbooks, have remained central in building memory and fashioning identity.35 This, because students, like others in society, absorb information from various sources in a haphazard and unsystematic manner, and usually in an individual setting. History classes on the other hand, meet day after day, year after year, and from an early age until maturity. School history education is delivered through systematic, didactic and pedagogical methods, and in a collective setting with peers. History classes and history textbooks therefore remain the central and strongest element in the fashioning of identity, and play a crucial role in building collective memory, or, as in our case, erasing it.

Source and endnotes

Israeli army kidnapped 6200 children since 2000 Official report

Middle East Monitor
November 16, 2009

An official report, received by Arab League from the minister of prisoners' affairs in the Palestinian Authority (Ramallah), revealed that the Israeli occupation forces have kidnapped about 6,200 Palestinian children since the beginning of Al Aqsa Intifada (2000), including approximately 337 children still detained in Israeli prisons and interrogation centers.

During last Saturday's meeting of the Arab League's permanent delegates council, which was set to discuss the conditions of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, Minister Issa Qaraqe introduced the report, which unveiled the "repressive, inhumane practices of the Israeli occupation authorities against Palestinian children in Israeli prisons and detention camps," stressing that this violates the rules of international law, conventions on children's rights, and all international norms.

The report pointed out that "any person under the age of 18 is considered a child, according to international law, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and, recently, Israeli domestic law," and according to the definition of juvenile by the United Nations' Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners, which were adopted in the General Assembly Resolution 45/113, dated December 14, 1990.

Qaraqe stated that the Israeli occupation authorities "deprive detained children from the basic rights granted by international conventions, such as the right to know the reason for their arrest, the right to counsel, the right of families to know the reason and the place of detention of their child, the right to appear before the judge, the right to object to the charge and lodge an appeal against it, the right to communicate with the outside world, and the right to a humane treatment that preserves the dignity of the detained child."

The report warned that the occupation authorities, "blatantly violated the rights of detained children"; dealt with them as "potential subversives", "and subjected them to different types of torture and cruel treatment, such as beating, sleep deprivation, starvation, sexual harassment, and deprivation of visits. The occupation forced applied the worst mental and physical means to extract confessions from child prisoners and to pressure them to work for Israeli intelligence."

The report also mentioned that during the first Intifada, massive numbers of children were arrested and detained on charges of throwing stones and other forms of political resistance, whereas, during the second intifada, Tel Aviv began adopting administrative detention against Palestinian children and it started convicting and detaining children under the age of 14 for periods of up to 6 months. The report further stated that, according to the 2002 annual report of the Defense of Children International organization, those arrest patterns did not exist during the years of the first intifada.

500 Million New Terrorists!

By Hans Vogel

The world is becoming unsafer by the day. Before the end of November, half a billion new terrorists will be added to the list kept by the US government.

On November 30, one day before the Lisbon Treaty is scheduled to take effect, the ministers of justice of the EU's 27 member states will sign yet another security agreement with the US. It is supposed to be an essential weapon in the global “War on Terror” the US claims to be fighting.

Under the new agreement, the US government will get access to all the banking data of all Europeans. This means that from December 2009, every single financial transaction done by every single European banking customer will come under the scrutiny of the US authorities. Henceforth, whenever the US government suspects a European “citizen” of supporting terrorism, it can request all his or her banking data, including all bank statements as well as any and all personal data connected with the account.

No doubt, many people will fail to see much harm in this, because “they have nothing to hide.” But such an attitude is based on the assumption the US is governed by benign, rational individuals, controlled by an elaborate system of checks and balances.

In fact, this is obviously not the case. If any conclusion can be drawn from recent history, it is that the US government does not act benignly, neither towards it own citizens nor to those of other nations. Especially not toward those of other nations, one should say. US policies are vindictive, vicious, ruthless, deceitful, destructive and murderous. Since the end of World War II, the number of people killed worldwide by the US government, directly or indirectly, runs in the millions. It is safe to say the US government finds itself in the same league as the Nazis and the Stalinists. And don't let anybody retort that the millions of victims of US violence have died to make the word safe for democracy, or that their deaths were somehow necessary or inevitable or some such nonsense.

Today, under the very eyes of an indifferent world, hundreds of innocent Afghans, Pakistanis and Iraqis are being slaughtered every day by US bullets, bombs and missiles, just like during the 1960s and 70s every day hundreds were being killed directly or indirectly by US violence in Indochina and Latin America.

Within a few weeks, US authorities will gain full access to some of the most private data of all inhabitants of the European Union and this should be cause for alarm. After all, from a moral point of view the EU leadership (and of the 27 member states) is just as evil and corrupt as the US government.

With the list of organizations that the US whimsically qualifies as terrorist constantly growing, the likelihood of a European “citizen” making a donation to such a group likewise increases. By the same token, the list of individuals the US has been putting on terrorist lists already runs in the millions. In fact, by employing the usual mix of lies, cajoling, blackmail and bullying in order to impose its paranoid rules on air traffic worldwide, the US government has already turned every airline passenger into a terrorist suspect.

Anybody who believes this is normal or acceptable should do some serious soul searching.

Heaven knows how the US has managed to persuade the Europeans to go along and sign the newest agreement. It is a mystery why the Europeans should have lent a willing ear at all to the US fairy tales about terrorism, because it means they will be sacrificing their sovereignty, or rather, what remains of it.

The only explanations one could possibly offer is that European politicians have no idea who they are dealing with, and are weak kneed. Or they are being blackmailed. There is no other logical explanation why European nations, some of them proud states with a long history of fiercely defending their sovereignty, would sign away their sovereign rights and hand them to a rogue state like the US.

Given that under previous agreements, European governments have already approved extraditing their own citizens to the US and given that all European governments collaborate with the secret CIA rendition flights taking kidnapped individuals to US-controlled or operated torture centers all over the world, all Europeans will soon be fair game.

The true purpose of the entire “War on Terror” can only be to terrorize peaceful, law-abiding citizens and to browbeat them in order to impose harmful legislation. For thousands of years governments have had to face underground opposition, some of it well-organized and with a propensity to violence. The best way to counter such a threat is to go about it in utter secrecy. Mind you, secret services are supposed to do their work in secret, so that no one will notice. Indeed that is what they have been doing throughout history in most of the world, especially in democratic countries. However, the US and its acolytes have been bombarding the world on a daily basis with alarmist fairy tales for almost a decade now. According to all official US reports, the increase of terrorism outpaces any efforts to combat it. However, despite having the biggest military and security budgets in history, with unlimited technological resources at its disposal and a staggering panoply of legal controls on every single activity by every single citizen, the US still claims to be losing the struggle.

This is clearly a lie. Because, whenever nations are losing a war, they will publicly deny this in the most emphatic manner. Conversely, when nations are claiming for years on end that they are losing, it has got to be be a lie. Therefore it can be safely said the “War on Terror” is a hoax.

The danger of the new agreement between the US and the EU is that nobody will know if what he or she is doing may land him in a US jail or in some distant torture center. Suppose you sympathize with a European group giving aid to the civilian victims of NATO bombing campaigns in Afghanistan. You buy a T-shirt for 20 Euros and you forget about it. Then the US government puts the group (whose T-shirt you are wearing) on the list of terror organizations and requests its banking details. As soon as the US government gets these, it has the names of everyone who has ever made donations to the group. Then your name appears and together with all the other names coming up, it is put on the terror suspect list. In the eyes of the US government, you have become a supporter of terrorism and an enemy of the (US) state. Now, nothing stands in the way of your being extradited to the US by your own (European) government. If you are lucky, that is. If not, you may end up in the worldwide US Gulag. You may get kidnapped and put on a rendition flight to a dungeon in Uzbekistan or some other hell hole, where you will be tortured in the most horrible way. Neither your government nor the European Commission will lift a finger to prevent this.

You can be sure this sort of thing is going to happen. Not systematically, but it will inevitably. Soon, rumors will start circulating, and fear will come to dominate the everyday lives of all EU citizens.

However there may be a lighter side to it all. Since your government no longer protects your life and liberty, but on the contrary has betrayed you and given the US (with its abysmal human rights record) the right to prosecute you on trumped up and false charges, you are no longer bound by any obligations to your government. It could mean, for instance, you now have sound legal grounds to stop paying taxes.

You have in fact been turned into a terrorist and an outlaw and you may thank the EU Commission and your national government for that. However, it may be a consolation to realize you are not alone. All the other 500 million inhabitants of the EU have become terrorists just like you.


November 16, 2009

Video: Mandela's cellmate says Israeli apartheid worse than South Africa

Suppressed News

November 16, 2009

Achmad Cassiem is a veteran of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. He joined the armed struggle for justice at age 15, and at the age of 17 he became one of the youngest people to be imprisoned on Robben Island alongside Nelson Mandela, where he served a total of 11 years. He is a teacher by profession, a founder of the Islamic Unity Convention and an adviser to the Islamic Human Rights Commission. He says that Israeli apartheid is worse than South Africa ever was (and he would know).

Free Palestine. Boycott Israel! Smash Zionism!

November 15, 2009

Palestinian Youth Killed By Army Fire In Gaza, Three Wounded

November 13, 2009
By Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News

Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported on Friday that a Palestinian youth was killed by Israeli army fire, and three others were wounded, when the army invaded an area close to Juhr Al Deek, east of Gaza City.

The sources identified the slain youth as Mohammad Wadi, 17, from Al Boreij refugee camp. His body and his three wounded friends were moved to the Al Aqsa Hospital.

Local sources reported that Israeli soldiers invaded the area and opened fire at children who were hunting birds. Troops later kidnapped four children, including two brothers.

The two brothers were identified as Ahmad Khader Sa’doun, 16, and Mohammad, 15. One of them was also wounded and was moved to an Israeli hospital.

The Israeli Radio claimed that the army invaded the area after a group of Palestinians approached the border fence in Nahal Oz area, and that the Palestinians intended to plant an explosive charge.

The army admitted to killing one and kidnapping three others. There was no mention of ‘locating’ the claimed explosive.

The army prevented Palestinian medics from approaching the area in an attempt to evacuate the casualties.

Local sources reported that there were no resistance fighters in the area, and that the persons who were reportedly close to the border were fishermen.

Rocket hits southern Israel after Palestinian killed

JERUSALEM, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- A Kassam rocket hit Israeli Negev region on Friday, after Israel Defense [sic] Force (IDF) soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian near the border with the Gaza Strip, local media reported.

The Kassam fired by the Palestinians fell into an open area in the western Negev region, with no casualties or damage reported, said Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post.

Earlier in the day, an IDF spokeswoman confirmed that Israeli soldiers shot at Palestinians suspected of planting explosives near the Karni crossing between the Palestinian strip and Israel and killed one early Friday.

While security sources with Palestinian Islamic Hamas movement said Israeli soldiers stationed at Johor el-Deik neighborhood in Gaza opened fire at four Palestinian young men, killing one of them and detaining the other three. The four young men were hunting birds then, added Palestinian witness.

Also on Friday, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said if Hamas continues its rocket attacks against Israel, Israeli army would operate in Gaza again as a response.

"If necessary, we will operate again in the Gaza Strip to stop the rocket fire," local daily Ha'aretz quoted Ashkenazi as saying when he visited a high school in the southern city of Be'er Sheva.

Israel launched a major military offensive against the Hamas- controlled Gaza Strip last winter. In a UN investigation report into the 22-day conflict, both Israeli army and the Palestinian group are accused of committing war crimes.

November 13, 2009

Haniyeh: We do not want violence with Israel


Gaza – Ma’an – De facto Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh told a delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross that Gaza is "not looking for more violence," but that he was sure Israel has "plans to target the Gaza Strip once again.”

During a meeting with the delegation on Wednesday, Haniyeh said he "hopes what he said would not prove to be true, that the world will stop Israel from killing more children." If Israel does decide to attack, he added, "our people will not surrender, they will fight back," a statement from his office said.

The comments follow a string of threats from Israeli officials, saying the country's next war will be with Gaza. In one notable example, Israeli Military Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi told a cadre of graduating military officers, “The army will return to face the places where they [Gaza militants] launch rockets which is in the most densely populated areas, [soldiers will return] to fight in the villages, cities, mosques, hospitals, kindergartens and schools because the enemies want to impose this method of fighting against Israel."

November 12, 2009

Israeli forces detain nine internationals

12/11/2009 20:28

Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces detained two Palestinians and nine internationals working on the rehabilitation of agricultural lands within the project “Green Palestine” near the village of Umm Salamoneh south of Bethlehem on Thursday.

Ibrahim Awad, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall in the area said Israeli forces raided his land and detained him along with a member of the Village Council and nine internationals near the illegal Effrat settlement, while Deputy Director of Agriculture in Bethlehem Ibrahim Masha’leh said that Israeli forces detained "dozens of foreigners and the employees of the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture in Umm Salamoneh village."

Bethlehem district is the second to embrace Project Green, after a successful debut in Tulkarem. The initiative is run by the Popular Committees in the area, and brings together local government, education professionals, and local councils for integrated solutions to providing a healthy living space for local residents.

The project is part of a larger national scheme governed primarily by the Ministry of Agriculture to aid not only farmers, but communities at large.

November 11, 2009

Settlers 'stone' school children

By Phoebe Greenwood in Hebron, West Bank

Twaneh School in Hebron has seen some improvements since former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair paid it a visit as UN Middle East envoy last year.

The track leading from the school to the new main road joining Jerusalem to Israeli settlements on the south eastern slopes of Palestine is now paved. There are two new school rooms being built where pupils will be taught up to Grade 9, rather than having to leave after Grade 4. They now have a playground.

But for the 32 children who live in Tuba and Magher Al Abeed, Palestinian villages encircled by three Israeli settlements, getting to school remains problematic.

Frequent attacks by Israeli settlers on children from these villages as they make their way to and from school have pushed Israel to take the exceptional step of providing them a daily military escort.

Ali, 12, has been coming to Twaneh School for six years, and is among those who wait for the military attachment: "The soldiers are okay, they don't give us a hard time. It's just the settlers - whenever we walk by the settlements or past their land, they try to attack us.

"Sometimes they chase us with their horses, ride them at us and try to use them to hurt us. The horses are so fast we can't get away. It's very frightening. But they don't harass us nearly so much when the military are there."

Patrol not reliable

Unfortunately, the patrol is not always reliable. Last Monday, Ali and the other children waited as they do every morning at 7am for their Israeli escorts but they didn't come. Eventually, they decided to walk the long way, a 12km detour around the settlements, which took them two hours.

In the afternoon, the children waited again for the patrol they expected to collect them at 12:30pm. At 3pm they gave up waiting and set off on the 12km hike for the second time that day, arriving home after dark. On Tuesday, the children waited and when the escort failed to arrive, they simply went home, too exhausted to face the two-hour walk once again.

After the military's two-day absence, Twaneh School's Headmaster Mahmoud Makhamreh contacted the Ministry of Education who in turn called the Palestinian Authority who spoke to the Israeli authorities. On Wednesday, the patrol turned up to take the kids to school.

Makhamreh sees a clear difference in the pupils who travel with the military: "The kids who are escorted are weaker in their ability to study- their communication skills are poor and they don't mix well with other children.

"They are full of fear, they feel insecure. I can see it in their behaviour: Whenever the patrol is late, they become nervous, afraid that it won't turn up and they will have to walk home unprotected.

"Quite a few have dropped out because of the difficulties they face getting here, particularly the girls. Last year three dropped out, this year one: four in total since 2008."

Ali, 12, a pupil at Twaneh school in the occupied West Bank. [SAVE THE CHILDREN]
According to new research published by Save the Children UK this week, Palestinian families living in areas like Hebron that the UN identifies as ‘high risk' in the West Bank and Gaza are poorer, less protected and more vulnerable than anywhere else in the occupied Palestinian territory.

At least half of those living in these areas who spoke to the charity said they have been forced from their homes at least once since 2000, the last major period of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Salam Kanaan, Save the Children UK's country director in the occupied Palestinian territory, states: "Without a secure future, the lives of Palestinian children living in high risk areas like the Hebron district are blighted. The daily struggle for basics like food, water and their physical safety has left children depressed and traumatised.

"Conditions in these areas make life so intolerable that many families are driven from their homes, leaving them even poorer and more vulnerable.

"These children need help and protection from the Israeli and Palestinian authorities as well as the international humanitarian community. Families need relief from the unrelenting pressures they face so they can raise their children."

Hurt by stones

Now he is 12, Ali says he worries less for himself than he does his little brother Mahmoud, 10, who walks to school with him: "We older kids always look out for the younger ones, try to protect them. When I was younger, in first and second grade, I was so scared of being beaten that I didn't want to come to school.

"Most of the kids I walk home with have been hurt by stones. We all have bruises on our legs from where rocks have hit us. Last year, one girl was sent to hospital because a stone hit her face and she was badly injured; she was 12 then.

"Of course, if I get hurt I'll tell my parents. I also tell them I'm afraid. They tell me that we need to stick together and never walk away from the military patrol truck."

While the military patrol has stemmed the attacks, it has done little to lessen the impact of the occupation on Hebron's children. Like the playground, the extra classroom and the paved road, this precaution is a cosmetic treatment for the deep wounds of conflict.

Twaneh School has had a demolition order on it since 1999. Headmaster Makhmareh says Israeli peace activists have championed their case in the courts and the demolition has been delayed, but it could still be carried out at any time.

The children, however, continue to walk to school, carrying on life almost as normal. Ali explains that he has little choice: ‘They throw stones at us because they want us to leave this area. But I will never leave here, I was born here. I belong to this land."

Phoebe Greenwood works for Save the Children UK, a global children's charity.

Al Jazeera is not responsible for the content of external websites. The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.


Palestinian students at Israeli universities support academic boycott

Open letter, Abnaa el-Balad, Iqraa Student Association, National Democratic Assembly, 11 November 2009

The following open letter to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim was issued on 9 November 2009 by Palestinians with Israeli citizenship studying as Israeli students. The university's board is due to consider a measure supporting the academic boycott of Israel:

We are Arab students at the Israeli universities writing to you in support of the proposed academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions. We believe that the boycott is timely and hopefully will help in upholding moral values of fairness, justice and equality which have been sorely missed in our region.

While the reason for the boycott is rightly what has been going on in the 1967 occupied territories [West Bank and Gaza Strip], we propose another angle which affirms the need for boycott, namely our daily experience as Arabs in Israeli institutions. We are the lucky ones who have been able to pursue our studies in institutions of higher education, to which we arrived against great odds. Only very few among our generation have been qualified to attend universities due to the state's discriminatory policies. Our schools mostly lack the basic facilities needed for education, and the curriculum is structured to serve the state's goal in socializing the pupils for self-estrangement. It contains very little, if any at all, on our history and culture. Additionally, it aims to erase our historical memory and promote the official policy line of divide and rule. In short, it is modeled on curriculums that dark regimes, like apartheid South Africa, have used to indoctrinate rather than educate. We arrive to universities with this "educational" baggage.

The idea that Israeli universities adhere to the values of free academic institutions, where academic freedom, objectivity and meritocracy prevail, is widely accepted in the West. From our experience we attest -- and indeed prove beyond doubt -- that this is not the case. In recent years Israeli universities have changed the criteria of acceptance to various faculties in order -- as a certain president of an Israeli university put it -- to prevent large number of undesirable (i.e. Arab) students from attending prestigious faculties such as medicine and natural sciences. Moreover, lecturers who presented findings which are at odds with the official ideology -- such as Ilan Pappe and Neve Gordon -- are bullied and harassed or forced to resign. Meanwhile raw racist statements by many lecturers are considered by the administrations of the universities as benign or even objective statements. For example, recently Dr. Dan Scheuftan stated in one of his lectures: "The Arabs are the biggest failure in the history of the human race ... there's nothing under the sun that's more screwed up than the Palestinians;" "Throughout the Arab world, people fire guns at weddings in order to prove that they have at least one thing that's hard and in working order that can shoot."

It goes without saying that none of these lecturers has ever been disciplined. Moreover, foreign students are warned by the security authorities of Haifa University not to visit Arab villages or towns.

Although some Israeli universities -- such as the University of Haifa -- pride themselves on promoting "co-existence," nothing is further from the truth than this. We are prevented from forming our [own] (i.e. Arab) students union, and racial discrimination against us -- under the pretext of not serving in the army -- is widely practiced in the granting of scholarships, as well as in the provision of housing at the universities' residential halls. This is particularly grave as the universities are located in Jewish towns, and Arab students face many obstacles and hardships in finding appropriate housing due to prevailing prejudices and anti-Arab sentiments in Israeli society.

Yet, the restrictions imposed on our freedom of expression are more stifling. We are not allowed to express our collective sentiments or ideas publicly. It is quite often that our public gatherings are not only violently interrupted by extreme right-wing Jewish students, but also in various occasions the universities called on the police to intervene. In several occasions, as during our peaceful demonstration at Haifa University against the war on Gaza, the police sent in large number of its special units which are infamous for their brutality. Needless to say that they do the job they are trained for. Moreover, the universities collaborate with the internal security services (the feared Shin Bet) and provide them with names of the activists among the students who are regularly summoned, investigated and threatened.

In the end, we are hopeful that you will take a decision which reaffirms the true meaning of human values, and provide a proof that racism, religious tribalism, obfuscation and disregard for human dignity are no longer tolerated.


Abnaa el-Balad - The Student Movement
Iqraa Student Association - Islamic Movement
National Democratic Assembly (NDA) - The Student Movement


November 10, 2009

Vast majority of Gaza children suffer PTSD symptoms

Aditya Ganapathiraju, The Electronic Intifada, 9 November 2009

A recent report found that 91.4 percent of children in the Gaza Strip suffer moderate to severe symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)

More than 40 years of Israeli military occupation have had a devastating impact on Palestinians in Gaza. Air strikes, artillery shelling, ground invasions, jet flybys and other acts of violence have all led to an epidemic of suffering among Gaza's most vulnerable inhabitants. The most recent studies indicate that the vast majority of Gaza's children exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Soon after the Israeli winter assault, a group of scholars at the University of Washington discussed different aspects of the situation in Gaza and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Dr. Evan Kanter, a UW School of Medicine professor and the current president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, delivered a somber talk describing the mental health situation among Gaza's population. The numbers he cited described a staggering level of psychological trauma.

Dr. Kanter described studies that revealed 62 percent of Gaza's inhabitants reported having a family member injured or killed, 67 percent saw injured or dead strangers and 83 percent had witnessed shootings.

According to Dr. Kanter, in a study of high school-aged children from southern refugee camps in Rafah and Khan Younis, 69 percent of the children showed symptoms of PTSD, 40 percent showed signs of moderate or severe depression, and a staggering 95 percent exhibited severe anxiety. Meanwhile, 75 percent showed limited or no ability to cope with their trauma. All of this was before the last Israeli invasion.

Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj, head of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, and whom Dr. Kanter described as a "medical hero" working under seemingly impossible conditions, has produced "some of the best research in the world on the impact of war on civilian populations." In a 2002 interview he said that 54 percent of children in Gaza had symptoms of PTSD, along with 30 percent of adults. The hardest hit were young ones who had their homes bulldozed or who lost loved ones like their mothers, he said. Again, these figures were obtained well before conditions dramatically deteriorated.

Gaza's population is overwhelmingly young. About 45 percent of the population are 14 years old or younger and roughly 60 percent are 19 years and younger. The long-term effects of constant violence and PTSD on such a young population are incalculable.

A recent study by international researchers and the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme entitled "War on Gaza survey study" reveals more worrying figures. Of a representative sample of children in Gaza, more than 95 percent experienced artillery shelling in their area or sonic booms of low-flying jets. Moreover, 94 percent recalled seeing mutilated corpses on TV and 93 percent witnessed the effects of aerial bombardments on the ground. More than 70 percent of children in Gaza said they lacked water, food and electricity during the most recent attacks, and a similar percentage said they had to flee to safety during the recent attacks.

In addition, 98.7 percent of the traumatized children reported that they did not feel safe in their homes. More than 95 percent of the children felt that they were unable to protect themselves or their family members, causing a feeling of utter powerlessness that is compounded by a sense of loss over unfulfilled lives.

A whole generation is being lost to the horrors of large-scale military violence and a brutal occupation. In front of many distraught members in the audience, Dr. Kanter described a study that showed that witnessing severe military violence results in more aggression and antisocial behavior among children, along with the "enjoyment of aggression." There are similar studies among Israeli children who witness violent attacks.

PTSD, Dr. Kanter explained, is an "engine that perpetuates violent conflict." It leads to three characteristic symptoms. First, individuals re-experience the traumatic events in the form of the nightmares, debilitating flashbacks and terrifying memories that haunt individuals for years afterwards. Second, other individuals may develop avoidance symptoms in which they become isolated and emotionally numb, deadened to the world around them. Third, individuals have symptoms of hyper arousal, which may lead to excessive anger, insomnia, self-destructive behavior and a hyper-vigilant state of mind. Other maladies like poor social functioning, depression, suicidal thoughts, a lack of trust and family violence are all associated with PTSD.

The most recent study, "Trauma, grief and PTSD in Palestinian children victims for war on Gaza" by the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, revealed that in the aftermath of the winter assault on Gaza, an unbelievable 91.4 percent of children in Gaza displayed symptoms of moderate to very severe PTSD. Meanwhile, only about one percent of the children showed no signs of PTSD.

The outlook for children in Gaza suffering from these symptoms is not optimistic. Whereas soldiers who experience traumatic events in a war zone can return home to relative calm and seek treatment, the people of Gaza continue to be held in what one Israeli human rights group labeled the "largest prison on Earth"-- a methodically "de-developed" island isolated from the rest of the world.

One of the most distressing prospects for peace are studies of similar war-torn populations like Kosovo and Afghanistan that showed that military violence often leads to widespread feelings of hatred and the simmering urge for revenge. One can easily predict the future consequences of a large number of young people exposed to this level of trauma.

In an op-ed published during Israel's winter invasion Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj warned that "Palestinian children in the first intifada 20 years ago threw stones at Israeli tanks trying to wrest freedom from Israeli military occupation. Some of those children grew up to become suicide bombers in the second intifada 10 years later. It does not take much to imagine the serious changes that will befall today's children."

"The breakdown of an entire society is happening in front of us," Harvard political economist Sara Roy warned in July. Many share Roy's feeling that "what looms is no less than the loss of entire generation of Palestinians," which she fears may have occurred already.

This will be the enduring legacy of the Israeli occupation.

Aditya Ganapathiraju is a student, independent writer and local organizer. He lives in the Seattle area and works on Palestine and other social justice issues.

November 08, 2009

Israeli forces shell northern Gaza

08/11/2009 16:09

Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli shells landed in an open area in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday, causing panic but no injuries, witnesses said.

Residents of the area said three shells landed in the Abu Safieyah area east of the city of Jabaliya. The residents added that the shelling was apparently unprovoked.

One Palestinian living in the area told Ma’an, "The shelling caused fear among the residents who live in these agricultural areas that their houses could be hit by these shells."

An Israeli military spokesperson confirmed that Israeli soldiers fired mortars at what they believed to be the source of rockets fired into Israeli territory. The military said they were still investigating whether rockets were indeed fired across the border.

IOF troops open fire at farmers in northern Gaza
07/11/2009 - 03:47 PM

GAZA, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces (IOF) opened heavy machine gun fire at Palestinian farmers while tending to their lands north of the Gaza Strip on Saturday, local sources reported.

A source in the area told Quds Press that the IOF soldiers fired an artillery shell then opened machineguns at the farmers east of Jabaliya in northern Gaza Strip.

Farmers were forced to abandon their lands due to the heavy gunfire that was coupled with intensified flights for IOF warplanes.

A number of Palestinian citizens were wounded on Friday night when the IOF troops fired a projectile at them east of Gaza city.