Palestinian prisoners ready for mass hunger strikeApril 24, 2014
Nearly two hundred Palestinian administrative detainees, held indefinitely without charge or trial on Israeli military court orders, have announced plans to launch a mass hunger strikefor their freedom this Thursday.
The news came as demonstrations across Palestine and events worldwide commemorated the 40th annual Palestinian Prisoners’ Day
Thousands marched from an exhibition at Saraya square, the former site of Israel’s Gaza central prison, to rally outside the International Committee of the Red Cross’ Gaza office.
After the demonstrations, Ibrahim Baroud, freed from Israeli captivity a year ago, spoke with The Electronic Intifada at his home in the northern Gaza Strip’s Jabaliya refugee camp.
Among hundreds of thousands of former Palestinian prisoners in the Gaza Strip, Baroud is notable not only because of his 27-year detention, which makes him one of the longest-held Palestinians, but also because of his mother’s efforts during his absence.
In 1995, nine years after her son’s capture by Israeli forces, Ghalia — also known as Um Ibrahim — held a sit-in at the courtyard of the International Committee of the Red Cross office with Handoumeh Wishah, or Um Jaber, who had four sons in prison at the time.
Initially small, their presence persisted week after week, year after year, persevering through political transitions and military offensives, and growing into the core of prisoner support activities in Gaza. The sit-ins have now become a local focus of political unity.
Women protest
Over the years, Um Ibrahim led women from the courtyard in a series of protests, many of them confrontational, to highlight the prisoners’ issue. These ranged from disrupting Palestinian Authority Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Al Qidwa with a fiery speech in 2005 to pelting United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s convoy with shoes and stones as he entered the Gaza Strip in 2012.
The sit-ins continue today as relatives and supporters of prisoners, many of them mothers and wives of detainees, pack the Red Cross courtyard every Monday morning. Their numbers swell with efforts to free prisoners — whether through political negotiations, hunger strikes or prisoner exchanges — or offenses against them by the Israeli Prison Service.
Um Ibrahim remains a constant presence, sitting in the front row and often leading the crowd in chants.
“Prisoners were never mentioned in the Oslo accords,” Ibrahim Baroud said Saturday, referring to the peace agreement signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization twenty years ago. “This was a disappointment to us, and a failure of the Palestinian leadership.”
Now 51, Ibrahim, a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement, was freed on 8 April 2013 after completing an Israeli military court’s 27-year sentence for armed resistance to the occupation.
“According to the Geneva conventions, when a conflict ends, the first thing that should happen is the release of prisoners by both sides,” he said.
“In the prisons, we knew this, so we expected to be freed. How can a leader leave his soldiers in the prisons of the enemy?”
Sit-ins and strikes
The exclusion of the rights of prisoners from the Oslo accords sparked a rise in activities to support them, including the launch of the sit-ins in 1995, he said.
Additionally, Israeli forces had blocked his mother from visiting him earlier that year, Ma’an News Agency reported in 2010.
The prohibition, which cited unspecified “security concerns,” ended only after the massKarameh (“Dignity”) hunger strike in 2012.
To settle the strike, Israel agreed to allow the resumption of prison visits by families of Palestinian prisoners from the Gaza Strip, all of them banned for more than six years.
“Me and my fellow prisoners would follow the sit-ins every Monday,” Baroud said. “We would watch for our families on television.”
“The sit-in was a tool for communication between prisoners and our families, especially during the six years we were deprived of seeing them.”
Because of his mother’s long absence, he said, “I was more curious than the others to see her.”
Baroud’s father died three years before his release, during the ban on visits from the Gaza Strip.
Full article

Palestinian prisoners ready for mass hunger strike
April 24, 2014

Nearly two hundred Palestinian administrative detainees, held indefinitely without charge or trial on Israeli military court orders, have announced plans to launch a mass hunger strikefor their freedom this Thursday.

The news came as demonstrations across Palestine and events worldwide commemorated the 40th annual Palestinian Prisoners’ Day

Thousands marched from an exhibition at Saraya square, the former site of Israel’s Gaza central prison, to rally outside the International Committee of the Red Cross’ Gaza office.

After the demonstrations, Ibrahim Baroud, freed from Israeli captivity a year ago, spoke with The Electronic Intifada at his home in the northern Gaza Strip’s Jabaliya refugee camp.

Among hundreds of thousands of former Palestinian prisoners in the Gaza Strip, Baroud is notable not only because of his 27-year detention, which makes him one of the longest-held Palestinians, but also because of his mother’s efforts during his absence.

In 1995, nine years after her son’s capture by Israeli forces, Ghalia — also known as Um Ibrahim — held a sit-in at the courtyard of the International Committee of the Red Cross office with Handoumeh Wishah, or Um Jaber, who had four sons in prison at the time.

Initially small, their presence persisted week after week, year after year, persevering through political transitions and military offensives, and growing into the core of prisoner support activities in Gaza. The sit-ins have now become a local focus of political unity.

Women protest

Over the years, Um Ibrahim led women from the courtyard in a series of protests, many of them confrontational, to highlight the prisoners’ issue. These ranged from disrupting Palestinian Authority Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Al Qidwa with a fiery speech in 2005 to pelting United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s convoy with shoes and stones as he entered the Gaza Strip in 2012.

The sit-ins continue today as relatives and supporters of prisoners, many of them mothers and wives of detainees, pack the Red Cross courtyard every Monday morning. Their numbers swell with efforts to free prisoners — whether through political negotiations, hunger strikes or prisoner exchanges — or offenses against them by the Israeli Prison Service.

Um Ibrahim remains a constant presence, sitting in the front row and often leading the crowd in chants.

“Prisoners were never mentioned in the Oslo accords,” Ibrahim Baroud said Saturday, referring to the peace agreement signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization twenty years ago. “This was a disappointment to us, and a failure of the Palestinian leadership.”

Now 51, Ibrahim, a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement, was freed on 8 April 2013 after completing an Israeli military court’s 27-year sentence for armed resistance to the occupation.

“According to the Geneva conventions, when a conflict ends, the first thing that should happen is the release of prisoners by both sides,” he said.

“In the prisons, we knew this, so we expected to be freed. How can a leader leave his soldiers in the prisons of the enemy?”

Sit-ins and strikes

The exclusion of the rights of prisoners from the Oslo accords sparked a rise in activities to support them, including the launch of the sit-ins in 1995, he said.

Additionally, Israeli forces had blocked his mother from visiting him earlier that year, Ma’an News Agency reported in 2010.

The prohibition, which cited unspecified “security concerns,” ended only after the massKarameh (“Dignity”) hunger strike in 2012.

To settle the strike, Israel agreed to allow the resumption of prison visits by families of Palestinian prisoners from the Gaza Strip, all of them banned for more than six years.

“Me and my fellow prisoners would follow the sit-ins every Monday,” Baroud said. “We would watch for our families on television.”

“The sit-in was a tool for communication between prisoners and our families, especially during the six years we were deprived of seeing them.”

Because of his mother’s long absence, he said, “I was more curious than the others to see her.”

Baroud’s father died three years before his release, during the ban on visits from the Gaza Strip.

Full article

How Israel’s war industry profits from violent US immigration “reform”April 10, 2014
Immigrant rights advocates in the US organized a national day of action on 5 April, the day they expected President Barack Obama’s record-breaking rate of deportations to reach a total of 2 million during his administration.
But scant attention has been paid to the list of global benefactors awaiting the profits from legislation escalating border militarization.
Israel, America’s closest ally, tops the lineup of patrons eager for rewards while advocates demanding a meaningful overhaul of US immigration and border enforcement continue their defiant battle in the streets. In this setting, rights supporters must know which global partners stand beside the US in repressing undocumented im/migrant communities.
But how does the situation in Palestine — thousands of miles away — affect US immigration reform and vice versa? What does one have to do with the other?
Quite a lot, actually.
“Border security on steroids”
Take the recent news that Israeli arms manufacturing giant Elbit Systems won a USDepartment of Homeland Security (DHS) contract to provide surveillance technology along the southern divide with Mexico, initially in Arizona.
Specifically, Elbit will provide its sensor-based Peregrine surveillance system for Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Integrated Fixed Tower project, which consists of ground radar and camera technology mounted on towers strewn throughout the borderlands. Congress approved the plan earlier this year.
A Bloomberg trade analyst estimated that Elbit’s $145 million award “may eventually reach $1 billion if legislation to rewrite US immigration laws passes Congress and helps fund the project’s expansion in the Southwest” (“Israel’s Elbit wins US border work after Boeing dumped,” 27 February 2014).
The little-discussed Corker-Hoeven amendment attached to the 2013 Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744) is the key legislation referenced by the Bloomberg analyst. The Senate passed the bill last June; the House of Representatives has stalled on voting on the package in any form.
Promoted as “border security on steroids” by the bill’s co-author, Republican Senator from Tennessee Bob Corker, the measure sets aside $46 billion for security “triggers” that must be in place in areas including Arizona before a pathway to citizenship can be opened for an estimated 11 million people living undocumented in the US today.
No wonder that DHS’s $145 million payment to Elbit could skyrocket by 700 percent. And that’s just one bid by one Israeli company. There could be many more to come.
Israel and the “homeland security” industry
Journalist Todd Miller, author of the book Border Patrol Nation (City Lights Books), interviewed numerous corporate leaders and scoured boundary-enforcement security fairs and expos across the Southwest.
Miller described to The Electronic Intifada his constant encounters with Israeli security peddlers in the borderlands.
During his research for the book, Miller wasn’t looking for Israel anywhere. Yet the state’s agents kept surfacing at every turn, he said.
Israeli companies, specialists and top military brass have become an increasingly visible presence at border and “homeland security” trade shows in the years since the 11 September 2001 attacks.
The US has spent $100 billion on immigration enforcement in the decade since then.
In that time, Israel became the world’s sixth-largest defense exporter and a leading supplier and consumer in the budding border-security industrial complex (“Israel ranks as the world’s sixth largest arms exporter in 2012,” Haaretz, 25 June 2013).
Companies large and small such as Elta Systems, Elbit Systems and NICE Systems have provided technologies including radar, virtual fencing and CCTV surveillance for Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Phoenix, Arizona department, as Jimmy Johnson has reported (“A Palestine-Mexico Border,” North American Congress on Latin America, 29 June 2012).
The Golan Group (founded by former Israeli special forces officers) provided training sessions for the US Border Patrol, as Naomi Klein notes in her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine.
Israel aids deadly “deterrence” strategy
Elta Systems got a boost in late 2012 when, Haaretz reported, the US Border Patrol hired the company to provide radar along the border “to protect the US-Mexico border against illegal migrant infiltration.” US Border Patrol’s deal offered the company “a potential market worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”
The US partnership with Israel is reciprocal: where the US has the finances, Israel has the expertise.
On the company’s end, according to Raanan Horowitz, CEO of Elbit Systems of America, the Peregrine system “will meet the demanding mission requirements of the Customs Border Protection (CPB) while enhancing its agents’ safety” (“Elbit Systems of America awarded contract for US Customs Border Protection integrated fixed towers project,” Elbit Systems, 8 March 2014).
But what does this situation look like in terms of human consequences? In CBP’s statedmission of “keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the US,” under the pretext of personal safety, Border Patrol agents have killed at least 19 persons in recent years, often under the alleged threat of rock-throwing (“Border Patrol’s use of deadly force criticized in new report,” Los Angeles Times, 27 February 2014).
In this deadly equation, the reform legislation’s amendment calls for a “military-style surge” of 700 more miles of “border fencing” and doubles the current number of Border Patrol agents to 40,000 (“Border security: Boost for Senate immigration bill,” Associated Press, 20 June 2013).
Two decades of border militarization
Increased deployment of military-style resources to strategic areas along the border has mushroomed since the early 1990s, as Joseph Nevins documents in his book Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the “Illegal Alien” and the Making of the US-Mexico Boundary.
President Bill Clinton, expanding on past boundary security-enforcement trends under his predecessors Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, instituted a new “deterrence” strategy designed to “reroute” migrants away from urban areas and into “geographically harsher,” more “remote and hazardous border regions” where the treacherous terrain would potentially kill them (“656 Weeks on the Killing Fields of Arizona,” The Huffington Post, 12 November 2012).
In such a way, planners devised, the “mortal danger” of the “geography would be an ally to us.”
This aggressive shift came less than a decade after the last immigration overhaul. In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act opened the door to citizenship for three million people of extra-legal status and increased border controls for those continuing to come, but without addressing the US-based economic and political policies driving migration.
Predictably, within a decade of the “deterrence” policy’s onset, “Arizona had become a killing field,” Tucson-based journalist Margaret Regan describes in her book The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands.
Israel continues to reap the benefits from US border militarization as the levels of death and suffering grow in line with an enriching investment climate.
Border death rate doubles
A June 2013 study by scholars and forensics specialists at the University of Arizona’s Binational Migration Institute and the local county medical examiner’s office found that the rate of migrant deaths had nearly doubled in the previous two years (“A continued humanitarian crisis at the border: undocumented border crosser deaths recorded by the Pima County office of the medical examiner, 1990-2012” [PDF]).
As more and more bodies are recovered, government and media continue to report all-time lows in apprehensions by the Border Patrol. Yet the simultaneous increase in border deaths remains enormously underreported.
But this is all good news to Senator Corker, who urged those concerned with border security not to worry because the bill is so tough that it’s “almost overkill.”
In fact, the package “is not only sufficient, it is well over sufficient,” Arizona Republican Senator John McCain concurred. “We’ll be the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall,” McCain boasted.
More drones
One provision in S. 744 would add 18 more unmanned aerial vehicles (also known asdrones or UAVs) to the already ballooning fleet operated by Customs and Border Protection.
Israeli-built “Hermes” drones were the first deployed along the southern border with Mexico as early as 2004. Currently, the fleet buzzing throughout the borderlands skies is wholly comprised of US-made Predator B drones, according to a CBP spokesperson.
Rivaling the US as the world’s leader in such technology, Israel can still view immigration reform as a hefty bounty for its “battle-proven” military technology that is “tried and tested on the West Bank and Gaza.”
As proposed in the legislation, the path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people in the US would take at least 13 years. Even then, the measures would benefit only those who are able to afford the mounting fees associated with the process, according to an analysis by Coalición de Derechos Humanos.
Though it won overwhelming approval in the Democrat-controlled Senate, the bill has stalled for nine months in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
Many House members are hostile to any pathway to citizenship for undocumented people. Worse, House Republicans, like their Senate counterparts, have shown a penchant for fueling the fantasy of border security as a sound solution to US immigration issues.
A new military occupation
The US and Israel both continue to dispossess indigenous people of their lands, and even of their existence.
In the US, Native peoples are left out of the “immigration reform” discourse altogether. Even though some are US-born, they are “undocumented” in every sense of the term, since they were born at home and lack a birth certificate.
The ancestral lands of the Tohono O’odham people span from modern-day Sonora, Mexico into southern Arizona — bisected by the Mexico-US border wall. Some were born on one side of the divide but grew up or spend most of their time on the other side and are therefore considered suspect by Border Patrol.
Miller writes in Border Patrol Nation: “While it may seem that the days of killing or corralling Native Americans and annexing their territories are an ancient and forgotten chapter in US history, the experience of the Tohono O’odham Nation show us that nothing can be further from the truth.” O’odham people regularly face abuse, harassment and even death at the hands of US Border Patrol.
Some of the country’s largest Border Patrol stations (and at least one US military outpost in a remote location, known as a “forward-operating base”) surround the Tohono O’odham Nation as the second-largest reservation in the US, and military-style checkpoints control all movement entering and leaving the nation. According to Miller, this presence of federal forces occupying permanent positions on Tohono O’odham lands is the largest in US history.
The extra layers of militarized infrastructure isolates the nation while still in Arizona, Miller observes, “as if the nation itself were a foreign country under a new, post-9/11 form of military occupation.”
Full article

How Israel’s war industry profits from violent US immigration “reform”
April 10, 2014

Immigrant rights advocates in the US organized a national day of action on 5 April, the day they expected President Barack Obama’s record-breaking rate of deportations to reach a total of 2 million during his administration.

But scant attention has been paid to the list of global benefactors awaiting the profits from legislation escalating border militarization.

Israel, America’s closest ally, tops the lineup of patrons eager for rewards while advocates demanding a meaningful overhaul of US immigration and border enforcement continue their defiant battle in the streets. In this setting, rights supporters must know which global partners stand beside the US in repressing undocumented im/migrant communities.

But how does the situation in Palestine — thousands of miles away — affect US immigration reform and vice versa? What does one have to do with the other?

Quite a lot, actually.

“Border security on steroids”

Take the recent news that Israeli arms manufacturing giant Elbit Systems won a USDepartment of Homeland Security (DHS) contract to provide surveillance technology along the southern divide with Mexico, initially in Arizona.

Specifically, Elbit will provide its sensor-based Peregrine surveillance system for Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Integrated Fixed Tower project, which consists of ground radar and camera technology mounted on towers strewn throughout the borderlands. Congress approved the plan earlier this year.

A Bloomberg trade analyst estimated that Elbit’s $145 million award “may eventually reach $1 billion if legislation to rewrite US immigration laws passes Congress and helps fund the project’s expansion in the Southwest” (“Israel’s Elbit wins US border work after Boeing dumped,” 27 February 2014).

The little-discussed Corker-Hoeven amendment attached to the 2013 Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744) is the key legislation referenced by the Bloomberg analyst. The Senate passed the bill last June; the House of Representatives has stalled on voting on the package in any form.

Promoted as “border security on steroids” by the bill’s co-author, Republican Senator from Tennessee Bob Corker, the measure sets aside $46 billion for security “triggers” that must be in place in areas including Arizona before a pathway to citizenship can be opened for an estimated 11 million people living undocumented in the US today.

No wonder that DHS’s $145 million payment to Elbit could skyrocket by 700 percent. And that’s just one bid by one Israeli company. There could be many more to come.

Israel and the “homeland security” industry

Journalist Todd Miller, author of the book Border Patrol Nation (City Lights Books), interviewed numerous corporate leaders and scoured boundary-enforcement security fairs and expos across the Southwest.

Miller described to The Electronic Intifada his constant encounters with Israeli security peddlers in the borderlands.

During his research for the book, Miller wasn’t looking for Israel anywhere. Yet the state’s agents kept surfacing at every turn, he said.

Israeli companies, specialists and top military brass have become an increasingly visible presence at border and “homeland security” trade shows in the years since the 11 September 2001 attacks.

The US has spent $100 billion on immigration enforcement in the decade since then.

In that time, Israel became the world’s sixth-largest defense exporter and a leading supplier and consumer in the budding border-security industrial complex (“Israel ranks as the world’s sixth largest arms exporter in 2012,” Haaretz, 25 June 2013).

Companies large and small such as Elta Systems, Elbit Systems and NICE Systems have provided technologies including radar, virtual fencing and CCTV surveillance for Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Phoenix, Arizona department, as Jimmy Johnson has reported (“A Palestine-Mexico Border,” North American Congress on Latin America, 29 June 2012).

The Golan Group (founded by former Israeli special forces officers) provided training sessions for the US Border Patrol, as Naomi Klein notes in her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine.

Israel aids deadly “deterrence” strategy

Elta Systems got a boost in late 2012 when, Haaretz reported, the US Border Patrol hired the company to provide radar along the border “to protect the US-Mexico border against illegal migrant infiltration.” US Border Patrol’s deal offered the company “a potential market worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The US partnership with Israel is reciprocal: where the US has the finances, Israel has the expertise.

On the company’s end, according to Raanan Horowitz, CEO of Elbit Systems of America, the Peregrine system “will meet the demanding mission requirements of the Customs Border Protection (CPB) while enhancing its agents’ safety” (“Elbit Systems of America awarded contract for US Customs Border Protection integrated fixed towers project,” Elbit Systems, 8 March 2014).

But what does this situation look like in terms of human consequences? In CBP’s statedmission of “keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the US,” under the pretext of personal safety, Border Patrol agents have killed at least 19 persons in recent years, often under the alleged threat of rock-throwing (“Border Patrol’s use of deadly force criticized in new report,” Los Angeles Times, 27 February 2014).

In this deadly equation, the reform legislation’s amendment calls for a “military-style surge” of 700 more miles of “border fencing” and doubles the current number of Border Patrol agents to 40,000 (“Border security: Boost for Senate immigration bill,” Associated Press, 20 June 2013).

Two decades of border militarization

Increased deployment of military-style resources to strategic areas along the border has mushroomed since the early 1990s, as Joseph Nevins documents in his book Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the “Illegal Alien” and the Making of the US-Mexico Boundary.

President Bill Clinton, expanding on past boundary security-enforcement trends under his predecessors Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, instituted a new “deterrence” strategy designed to “reroute” migrants away from urban areas and into “geographically harsher,” more “remote and hazardous border regions” where the treacherous terrain would potentially kill them (“656 Weeks on the Killing Fields of Arizona,” The Huffington Post, 12 November 2012).

In such a way, planners devised, the “mortal danger” of the “geography would be an ally to us.”

This aggressive shift came less than a decade after the last immigration overhaul. In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act opened the door to citizenship for three million people of extra-legal status and increased border controls for those continuing to come, but without addressing the US-based economic and political policies driving migration.

Predictably, within a decade of the “deterrence” policy’s onset, “Arizona had become a killing field,” Tucson-based journalist Margaret Regan describes in her book The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands.

Israel continues to reap the benefits from US border militarization as the levels of death and suffering grow in line with an enriching investment climate.

Border death rate doubles

A June 2013 study by scholars and forensics specialists at the University of Arizona’s Binational Migration Institute and the local county medical examiner’s office found that the rate of migrant deaths had nearly doubled in the previous two years (“A continued humanitarian crisis at the border: undocumented border crosser deaths recorded by the Pima County office of the medical examiner, 1990-2012” [PDF]).

As more and more bodies are recovered, government and media continue to report all-time lows in apprehensions by the Border Patrol. Yet the simultaneous increase in border deaths remains enormously underreported.

But this is all good news to Senator Corker, who urged those concerned with border security not to worry because the bill is so tough that it’s “almost overkill.”

In fact, the package “is not only sufficient, it is well over sufficient,” Arizona Republican Senator John McCain concurred. “We’ll be the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall,” McCain boasted.

More drones

One provision in S. 744 would add 18 more unmanned aerial vehicles (also known asdrones or UAVs) to the already ballooning fleet operated by Customs and Border Protection.

Israeli-built “Hermes” drones were the first deployed along the southern border with Mexico as early as 2004. Currently, the fleet buzzing throughout the borderlands skies is wholly comprised of US-made Predator B drones, according to a CBP spokesperson.

Rivaling the US as the world’s leader in such technology, Israel can still view immigration reform as a hefty bounty for its “battle-proven” military technology that is “tried and tested on the West Bank and Gaza.”

As proposed in the legislation, the path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people in the US would take at least 13 years. Even then, the measures would benefit only those who are able to afford the mounting fees associated with the process, according to an analysis by Coalición de Derechos Humanos.

Though it won overwhelming approval in the Democrat-controlled Senate, the bill has stalled for nine months in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Many House members are hostile to any pathway to citizenship for undocumented people. Worse, House Republicans, like their Senate counterparts, have shown a penchant for fueling the fantasy of border security as a sound solution to US immigration issues.

A new military occupation

The US and Israel both continue to dispossess indigenous people of their lands, and even of their existence.

In the US, Native peoples are left out of the “immigration reform” discourse altogether. Even though some are US-born, they are “undocumented” in every sense of the term, since they were born at home and lack a birth certificate.

The ancestral lands of the Tohono O’odham people span from modern-day Sonora, Mexico into southern Arizona — bisected by the Mexico-US border wall. Some were born on one side of the divide but grew up or spend most of their time on the other side and are therefore considered suspect by Border Patrol.

Miller writes in Border Patrol Nation: “While it may seem that the days of killing or corralling Native Americans and annexing their territories are an ancient and forgotten chapter in US history, the experience of the Tohono O’odham Nation show us that nothing can be further from the truth.” O’odham people regularly face abuse, harassment and even death at the hands of US Border Patrol.

Some of the country’s largest Border Patrol stations (and at least one US military outpost in a remote location, known as a “forward-operating base”) surround the Tohono O’odham Nation as the second-largest reservation in the US, and military-style checkpoints control all movement entering and leaving the nation. According to Miller, this presence of federal forces occupying permanent positions on Tohono O’odham lands is the largest in US history.

The extra layers of militarized infrastructure isolates the nation while still in Arizona, Miller observes, “as if the nation itself were a foreign country under a new, post-9/11 form of military occupation.”

Full article

Facing austerity cuts, students & faculty occupy Univ. of Southern MaineMarch 22, 2014
Faculty and students launched an occupation of a Maine university building Friday to demand a halt to mass faculty layoffs and department slashes that they say are part of the austerity cuts devastating public education nation-wide.
Over 100 people launched a late-morning occupation of the hallway outside the Portland office of the University of Southern Maine provost Michael Stevenson — the hallway that faculty passed through Friday on their way to receive lay-off letters.
People sat on the floor and leaned against walls as chants and even songs broke out amid discussions about “next steps” for holding the university accountable. “We’re using this as a space to organize,” said Meaghan LaSala, student in Women and Gender Studies, in an interview with Common Dreams.
Occasionally, laid-off faculty addressed the crowd in emotionally-charged statements just moments before or after receiving notice.
Meanwhile, at a nearby university event for gubernatorial candidate Michael Michaud, students took to the microphone to speak out against budget cuts.
"I’m staying here as long as it takes," Jules Purnell, junior in Women and Gender Studies, told Common Dreams while occupying the hallway. “We’re in a scarcity economy, and we are all terrified right now, but we have to think about solutions.”
Protesters said 11 to 15 full-time faculty members at the university were handed letters on Friday notifying them that they were being “retrenched” or forced out of their jobs, and USM President Theo Kalikow and Provost Stevenson announced plans to lay off more faculty and staff and eliminate four programs: American and New England studies, geosciences, arts and humanities at the school’s Lewiston-Auburn College facility, and recreation and leisure studies.
Wendy Chapkis, professor in Sociology and Gender and Women’s Studies who participated in the occupation, told Common Dreams that the lay-offs hit faculty of color the hardest. “We’ve been agitating for years for the university to hire women of color,” said Chapkis. “Now they are laying off dozens of faculty members, starting with the most recent hires. Out of the 8 people I know who were laid off, three of them are minority faculty.”
John Eric Baugher, associate professor in sociology who received a lay-off notice Friday after 9 years at USM, told Common Dreams that “university management is pressuring senior faculty to retire to save the jobs of younger faculty” — in what he said amounts to “emotional blackmail.”
"This is potentially precedent-setting," he warned. "There are colleges and universities across the country modeling themselves on the corporate world. If they can get rid of fully tenured, salaried faculty, what will this mean for other universities?"
Administrators have sought to place the blame on a tuition freeze and a multi-million dollar shortfall as the state of Maine, under Governor Paul Lepage, flat-lines funding for the Maine university system. Students say they are fighting for more state and federal funding for USM and demanding that universities facing cuts “chop from the top” rather than force students and workers to bear the brunt of austerity.
"A lot of students here are non-traditional and come here as workers and parents," said LaSala. "By instating these cuts they are saying that students in southern Maine have no right to a diverse education. We want our human right to education. This is happening across the country."
A recent report by public policy organization Demos finds that, across the U.S., states used the 2008 recession to justify austerity cuts to higher education funding, and universities are increasingly turning to business models based on rising tuition rates. “In less than a generation, our nation’s higher education system has become a debt-for-diploma system—more than seven out of 10 college seniors now borrow to pay for college and graduate with an average debt of $29,400,” reads a summary of the report.
Yet, students and faculty expressed hope that growing movements can buck what they say is a war on public education. “We need to believe in each other, because we are each other’s only hope,” wrote Purnell in a statement circulated at the protest. “If we are committed to one another and making lasting change, we can do this.”
SourcePhoto

Facing austerity cuts, students & faculty occupy Univ. of Southern Maine
March 22, 2014

Faculty and students launched an occupation of a Maine university building Friday to demand a halt to mass faculty layoffs and department slashes that they say are part of the austerity cuts devastating public education nation-wide.

Over 100 people launched a late-morning occupation of the hallway outside the Portland office of the University of Southern Maine provost Michael Stevenson — the hallway that faculty passed through Friday on their way to receive lay-off letters.

People sat on the floor and leaned against walls as chants and even songs broke out amid discussions about “next steps” for holding the university accountable. “We’re using this as a space to organize,” said Meaghan LaSala, student in Women and Gender Studies, in an interview with Common Dreams.

Occasionally, laid-off faculty addressed the crowd in emotionally-charged statements just moments before or after receiving notice.

Meanwhile, at a nearby university event for gubernatorial candidate Michael Michaud, students took to the microphone to speak out against budget cuts.

"I’m staying here as long as it takes," Jules Purnell, junior in Women and Gender Studies, told Common Dreams while occupying the hallway. “We’re in a scarcity economy, and we are all terrified right now, but we have to think about solutions.”

Protesters said 11 to 15 full-time faculty members at the university were handed letters on Friday notifying them that they were being “retrenched” or forced out of their jobs, and USM President Theo Kalikow and Provost Stevenson announced plans to lay off more faculty and staff and eliminate four programs: American and New England studies, geosciences, arts and humanities at the school’s Lewiston-Auburn College facility, and recreation and leisure studies.

Wendy Chapkis, professor in Sociology and Gender and Women’s Studies who participated in the occupation, told Common Dreams that the lay-offs hit faculty of color the hardest. “We’ve been agitating for years for the university to hire women of color,” said Chapkis. “Now they are laying off dozens of faculty members, starting with the most recent hires. Out of the 8 people I know who were laid off, three of them are minority faculty.”

John Eric Baugher, associate professor in sociology who received a lay-off notice Friday after 9 years at USM, told Common Dreams that “university management is pressuring senior faculty to retire to save the jobs of younger faculty” — in what he said amounts to “emotional blackmail.”

"This is potentially precedent-setting," he warned. "There are colleges and universities across the country modeling themselves on the corporate world. If they can get rid of fully tenured, salaried faculty, what will this mean for other universities?"

Administrators have sought to place the blame on a tuition freeze and a multi-million dollar shortfall as the state of Maine, under Governor Paul Lepage, flat-lines funding for the Maine university system. Students say they are fighting for more state and federal funding for USM and demanding that universities facing cuts “chop from the top” rather than force students and workers to bear the brunt of austerity.

"A lot of students here are non-traditional and come here as workers and parents," said LaSala. "By instating these cuts they are saying that students in southern Maine have no right to a diverse education. We want our human right to education. This is happening across the country."

recent report by public policy organization Demos finds that, across the U.S., states used the 2008 recession to justify austerity cuts to higher education funding, and universities are increasingly turning to business models based on rising tuition rates. “In less than a generation, our nation’s higher education system has become a debt-for-diploma system—more than seven out of 10 college seniors now borrow to pay for college and graduate with an average debt of $29,400,” reads a summary of the report.

Yet, students and faculty expressed hope that growing movements can buck what they say is a war on public education. “We need to believe in each other, because we are each other’s only hope,” wrote Purnell in a statement circulated at the protest. “If we are committed to one another and making lasting change, we can do this.”

Source
Photo

Gaza’s only power station forced to shut down over fuel shortageMarch 15, 2014
Gaza is bracing for a “humanitarian crisis” after its only power station was shut down due to a lack of fuel from Israel. The Israeli government closed the Kerem Shalom crossing this week, effectively severing the fuel supply to Gaza.
In the wake of a number of rocket attacks on Israeli territory on Wednesday, the Israeli government closed all borders with Gaza and suspended the delivery of all commercial goods to the region. As a consequence of the sanctions, Gaza’s only power station ran out of fuel Saturday. 
"The plant has completely ceased to function due to a lack of fuel caused by (Israel’s) closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing," said Fathi al-Sheikh Khalil, deputy director of the energy authority in the Palestinian territory ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement to AFP.
The Gaza power plant provides about a third of Gaza’s electricity needs, while the rest of the territory’s energy is provided by Egypt and Israel.
Fathi al-Sheikh Khalil told Turkish news agency Anadolu that the lack of fuel would lead to electricity being cut off 16 hours a day in Gaza.
"Gaza is bracing for a humanitarian catastrophe if the crossing remains closed," said Khalil, who has urged the international community to put pressure on Israel to open up the Kerem Shalon border crossing.
This is not the first instance when Gaza’s power plant was forced to shut down. A couple of months ago the plant had to be turned off after Egypt blocked a number of smuggling tunnels on its border with Gaza which were used to bring in fuel.
Israel eventually allowed the entry of 450,000 liters of fuel, paid for by the Qatari government, so that the Palestinians could restart their power plant.
Source
The US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki statement on Wednesday’s rocket attacks into Israel, completely ignoring the 29 aerial strikes into Gaza: 

"It is reprehensible that dozens of rockets have been fired today alone. There is no justification for such attacks. We call for these terrorist attacks to cease immediately. Israel, like any nation, has a right to defend itself."

Gaza’s only power station forced to shut down over fuel shortage
March 15, 2014

Gaza is bracing for a “humanitarian crisis” after its only power station was shut down due to a lack of fuel from Israel. The Israeli government closed the Kerem Shalom crossing this week, effectively severing the fuel supply to Gaza.

In the wake of a number of rocket attacks on Israeli territory on Wednesday, the Israeli government closed all borders with Gaza and suspended the delivery of all commercial goods to the region. As a consequence of the sanctions, Gaza’s only power station ran out of fuel Saturday. 

"The plant has completely ceased to function due to a lack of fuel caused by (Israel’s) closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing," said Fathi al-Sheikh Khalil, deputy director of the energy authority in the Palestinian territory ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement to AFP.

The Gaza power plant provides about a third of Gaza’s electricity needs, while the rest of the territory’s energy is provided by Egypt and Israel.

Fathi al-Sheikh Khalil told Turkish news agency Anadolu that the lack of fuel would lead to electricity being cut off 16 hours a day in Gaza.

"Gaza is bracing for a humanitarian catastrophe if the crossing remains closed," said Khalil, who has urged the international community to put pressure on Israel to open up the Kerem Shalon border crossing.

This is not the first instance when Gaza’s power plant was forced to shut down. A couple of months ago the plant had to be turned off after Egypt blocked a number of smuggling tunnels on its border with Gaza which were used to bring in fuel.

Israel eventually allowed the entry of 450,000 liters of fuel, paid for by the Qatari government, so that the Palestinians could restart their power plant.

Source

The US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki statement on Wednesday’s rocket attacks into Israel, completely ignoring the 29 aerial strikes into Gaza: 

"It is reprehensible that dozens of rockets have been fired today alone. There is no justification for such attacks. We call for these terrorist attacks to cease immediately. Israel, like any nation, has a right to defend itself."

183 Palestinian children arrested by army, facing military courts in January aloneMarch 4, 2014
A new report indicates that as of the end of January, 183 Palestinian children were arrested and detained by Israeli occupation soldiers and occupation police, and imprisoned and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system. Of the 183 children, 20 are between the ages of 14 and 15 years old.Defence for Children International - Palestine section (DCI-PS) added in its detention bulletin that 75 percent of Palestinian children detained during 2013 “endured physical violence during arrest and interrogation.”DCI-PS documents specific case studies of Palestinian children being detained, arrested and violently abused by Israeli forces. In their bulletin, the rights group highlights the case of 16-year-old Salah S. from Qalqilya in the occupied West Bank:
In January, Israeli soldiers detained Salah S, 16, from Azzun, Qalqilya around 4:30 pm while he was with friends near a road used by Israeli soldiers and settlers. Israeli soldiers held him overnight and transferred him to multiple locations over a 12-hour period, while subjecting him to physical violence and ill-treatment.Salah was previously arrested in January 2013, then 15 years old, and spent 10 months at Megiddo prison inside Israel.On January 1, Israeli forces arrested 16 residents from at-Tabaqa village, west of Hebron, in the West Bank, including nine Palestinian children, some as young as 13, on suspicion of stone throwing.DCI-Palestine research shows that children arrive to Israeli interrogation centers blindfolded, bound and sleep deprived. Unlike their Israeli counterparts, Palestinian children have no right to be accompanied by a parent during an interrogation. In 96 percent of cases documented by DCI-Palestine in 2013, children were questioned alone and rarely informed of their rights, particularly their right against self-incrimination.
Each year approximately 500-700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12 years [old], are detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system. The most common charge is for throwing stones. Currently, 41.5 percent of Palestinian child prisoners are detained inside Israel in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Source

183 Palestinian children arrested by army, facing military courts in January alone
March 4, 2014

A new report indicates that as of the end of January, 183 Palestinian children were arrested and detained by Israeli occupation soldiers and occupation police, and imprisoned and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system. Of the 183 children, 20 are between the ages of 14 and 15 years old.

Defence for Children International - Palestine section (DCI-PS) added in its detention bulletin that 75 percent of Palestinian children detained during 2013 “endured physical violence during arrest and interrogation.”

DCI-PS documents specific case studies of Palestinian children being detained, arrested and violently abused by Israeli forces. In their bulletin, the rights group highlights the case of 16-year-old Salah S. from Qalqilya in the occupied West Bank:

In January, Israeli soldiers detained Salah S, 16, from Azzun, Qalqilya around 4:30 pm while he was with friends near a road used by Israeli soldiers and settlers. Israeli soldiers held him overnight and transferred him to multiple locations over a 12-hour period, while subjecting him to physical violence and ill-treatment.

Salah was previously arrested in January 2013, then 15 years old, and spent 10 months at Megiddo prison inside Israel.

On January 1, Israeli forces arrested 16 residents from at-Tabaqa village, west of Hebron, in the West Bank, including nine Palestinian children, some as young as 13, on suspicion of stone throwing.

DCI-Palestine research shows that children arrive to Israeli interrogation centers blindfolded, bound and sleep deprived. Unlike their Israeli counterparts, Palestinian children have no right to be accompanied by a parent during an interrogation. In 96 percent of cases documented by DCI-Palestine in 2013, children were questioned alone and rarely informed of their rights, particularly their right against self-incrimination.
Each year approximately 500-700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12 years [old], are detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system. 
The most common charge is for throwing stones. Currently, 41.5 percent of Palestinian child prisoners are detained inside Israel in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Source

Floods in Gaza Strip exacerbate humanitarian crisisDecember 22, 2013
 Hamdi al-Shami, 54, woke up in the densely populated Zaytoun area of Gaza City on 11 December to find raw sewage flowing down his street at a height of more than two meters. It was just one of several sewage overflows to occur in his neighborhood over the last five weeks.
On 13 November, more than 35,000 cubic meters of raw sewage overflowed when the Zaytoun pumping station failed, affecting 3,000 nearby residents. Just as the mess was being cleaned up, the area was again inundated — this time with approximately twice as much waste — when heavy rains fell over the Gaza Strip between 11 and 15 December.
In Gaza City, one of the worst-hit areas, the municipality estimated that hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of sewage and rainwater overflowed from pumping stations and manholes, flooding streets and homes.
“It was horrible. We lost many things when the sewage came from everywhere around us — the doors, manholes and sinks. This cannot be forgotten,” said al-Shami, speaking about November’s flooding.
That flooding was attributed to a combination of factors: power outages disrupting the city’s sewage pumps and a shortage in capacity, spare parts and facilities because of a seven-year blockade against Gaza.
At the time, residents were told that a rapidly-established power connection to the Israeli grid would prevent future problems. But with the recent rainfall, the situation in al-Shami’s neighborhood has only worsened.
He was stranded amid water and sewage for days.
“It hit us again, but harder this time,” al-Shami said on 12 December. “With every passing hour, the water level was rising. It was incredible. We called rescue teams to help us before it is too late. It was not only the electricity issue; we were also cut off from basic needs and clean water.”
With power outages and pump shortages, the Municipality of Gaza estimated it would take up to two weeks to drain the water and clean the sewage off the streets. It has brought in water pumps from other areas and expanded the artificial pond at Nafaq Street to speed up the process.
According to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the floodingaffected 21,000 persons, including thousands who were displaced and sought shelter for days in schools or with relatives. Two persons died and 108 were injured, mainly in southern Gaza, OCHA said, in the worst storm the Middle East has seen in decades.
OCHA said Gaza received 75 percent of its average seasonal rainfall in those four days. Other estimates put the figure even higher, at about 111 million meters, or 92 percent of the average seasonal rainfall.
Full article

Floods in Gaza Strip exacerbate humanitarian crisis
December 22, 2013

 Hamdi al-Shami, 54, woke up in the densely populated Zaytoun area of Gaza City on 11 December to find raw sewage flowing down his street at a height of more than two meters. It was just one of several sewage overflows to occur in his neighborhood over the last five weeks.

On 13 November, more than 35,000 cubic meters of raw sewage overflowed when the Zaytoun pumping station failed, affecting 3,000 nearby residents. Just as the mess was being cleaned up, the area was again inundated — this time with approximately twice as much waste — when heavy rains fell over the Gaza Strip between 11 and 15 December.

In Gaza City, one of the worst-hit areas, the municipality estimated that hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of sewage and rainwater overflowed from pumping stations and manholes, flooding streets and homes.

“It was horrible. We lost many things when the sewage came from everywhere around us — the doors, manholes and sinks. This cannot be forgotten,” said al-Shami, speaking about November’s flooding.

That flooding was attributed to a combination of factors: power outages disrupting the city’s sewage pumps and a shortage in capacity, spare parts and facilities because of a seven-year blockade against Gaza.

At the time, residents were told that a rapidly-established power connection to the Israeli grid would prevent future problems. But with the recent rainfall, the situation in al-Shami’s neighborhood has only worsened.

He was stranded amid water and sewage for days.

“It hit us again, but harder this time,” al-Shami said on 12 December. “With every passing hour, the water level was rising. It was incredible. We called rescue teams to help us before it is too late. It was not only the electricity issue; we were also cut off from basic needs and clean water.”

With power outages and pump shortages, the Municipality of Gaza estimated it would take up to two weeks to drain the water and clean the sewage off the streets. It has brought in water pumps from other areas and expanded the artificial pond at Nafaq Street to speed up the process.

According to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the floodingaffected 21,000 persons, including thousands who were displaced and sought shelter for days in schools or with relatives. Two persons died and 108 were injured, mainly in southern Gaza, OCHA said, in the worst storm the Middle East has seen in decades.

OCHA said Gaza received 75 percent of its average seasonal rainfall in those four days. Other estimates put the figure even higher, at about 111 million meters, or 92 percent of the average seasonal rainfall.

Full article

aloofshahbanou

5centsapound:

Basil AlZeri – The Archivist in the Kitchen

Via the excellent Fuse Magazine:

Cuisine is a vivacious and mutable cultural practice that has history and politics folded right into it. The privileged eaters who make up North American foodie culture may often miss the specific histories of conquest and migration built into their eclectically global palettes, but they are present in each bite. Israeli appropriations of Palestinian ingredients and dishes are illustrative; for instance, the rebranding of tabouleh as “Israeli salad,” and maftoul (a small, round pasta made from wheat and bulgur) as “Israeli couscous.” The complex etymology of the word sabra, commonly known as the name of an Israeli-produced hummus, reveals a complex history of linguistic colonialism. In Arabic and in Hebrew, sabra is a generic word for cactus, plantings of which were used pre-1948 to delineate borders between Palestinian villages. More recently, in Modern Hebrew sabra has become the descriptor for Israeli-born Jews — metaphorically and literally, the beneficiaries of the clearing of the Palestinian cacti. In 1982, residents of the Sabra Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon were massacred by a Lebanese Christian Phalangist militia, in collusion with Israel, one of the most brutal events in the history of the occupation. The name of the hummus, so cunningly appropriated, can’t be separated from this settler-colonial history.

Palestinian cuisine — in Gaza and the West Bank, in camps and in cities worldwide —reflects a history of occupation and displacement. But more than that, it reflects the skills, proclivities and ingredients required to survive those conditions. Basil AlZeri has captured hours of Skype video of his mother teaching him how to cook from her impressive oeuvre of Palestinian dishes. This archive of cultural knowledge is the private counterpart to a series of public food-based performances he has presented since 2011. […] AlZeri began cooking live as a performance with his mother, Suad, instructing him from Dubai, over Skype. Most recently, AlZeri has been working on The Mobile Kitchen Lab, which he will use as an itinerant stage for future cooking performances. AlZeri performs simple and generous gestures, inviting his guests to identify the Palestinian stories of land, resources and labour that are built into his recipes.

Palestinian farm dodges Israeli bulldozers - in treehousesAugust 16, 2013
Mazen Saadeh faces a problem. In trying to expand the facilities of the campground and restaurant he manages in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, he risks attracting the attention of the Israeli authorities tasked with halting Palestinian construction.
Hosh Jasmin, the cooperative farm and tourist destination that Saadeh manages with his partner Aidan Pendleton, is located in the West Bank’s Area C, meaning it lies on Palestinian land under complete Israeli civil and military control. Area C and Hosh Jasmin are under full occupation, a situation that brings with it many challenges, including the threat of demolition. A restaurant just across the valley from Hosh Jasmin has been demolished by the Israeli military three times.
“We need to build. But it’s hard, and it’s forbidden,” Saadeh said. “If we add a centimeter, the Israelis will come and demolish it. Not demolish what we added — they will demolish everything. So it’s a big challenge.”
In response, Saadeh has come up with a unique solution: Since building on the land is prohibited, he builds in the trees.
Saadeh and volunteers at Hosh Jasmin recently completed construction on one treehouse, and they plan to build two more in the coming months. They have also built additional rooms on top of existing structures in a way that allows them to circumvent the language of the law.
The treehouses will be used as rooms for visitors to stay overnight when they visit Hosh Jasmin. Currently, visitors can stay in tents for 50 shekels — around $14. Hosh Jasmin attracts a wide range of foreign and Palestinian tourists, and it was featured in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz last year under the headline “Growing Figs in a Place of War.” But Hosh Jasmin is more than a simple hotel. Taking its name from one used for shared spaces common in Syrian communities, Hosh Jasmin is meant to become a model community where food is produced on-site. In addition to the restaurant and campsite, Hosh Jasmin is home to a farm with 11 kinds of vegetables, as well as chickens, rabbits and sheep. Saadeh’s goal is to eventually serve only food produced on the farm, all grown organically.
“I am sorry to say it, but Palestinian farmers, like Israeli farmers, use huge quantities of chemicals,” Saadeh said. “What you buy in the market is not good.”
Saadeh became concerned about the quality of food produced in Palestine after a friend of his, an agricultural engineer at Bethlehem University, showed him a study he had done on the amount of chemicals used in Palestinian agriculture. “He found 38 percent of that fruit and that vegetable are poisonous,” Saadeh recalls. “He told me, when you go to the market, don’t buy the beautiful apple or beautiful tomato. Buy the bad one, with a bad look. Because a bad look is more natural than a good look.”
According to the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem, over 490 tons of pesticides are used in the West Bank each year, including about 200 tons of methyl bromide, a highly toxic chemical phased out of use in the United States and Europe in the early 2000s. There is widespread use of 14 different pesticides that are, according to the institute, “internationally suspended, canceled or banned.”
But the Hosh Jasmin project extends well beyond the production of healthier food. The volunteers, employees and owners of Hosh Jasmin are actively constructing a new model for life in Area C. Saadeh said an important part of that project is supporting Palestinian work; all of the food Hosh Jasmin buys is produced in Palestine.
“Even the kind of beers we offer is the Palestinian one. It’s very powerful, I think. It’s all Palestinians, with Palestinian hands, with Palestinian farmers from Palestinian areas,” Saadeh said.
Casey Asprooth-Jackson, an American who spent several weeks in Hosh Jasmin and helped construct the first treehouse, had previously worked with a community-supported agriculture project in Upstate New York. He explained what he sees as the similarities and differences between agricultural projects in Palestine versus the rest of the world.
“The way that people live in most places in the world, there’s a disconnection between the land and your life, and that’s something that we want to intercede in and break,” he said. “Here, it’s even further because there is an occupation.”
The demographics of Hosh Jasmin’s employees reflect a commitment to improving life under occupation. All seven of the employees come from Palestinian refugee camps in Bethlehem, Nablus and Qalandiya — areas where it’s often difficult if not impossible to secure a decent job.
Alaa Qsass, a Hosh Jasmin employee from Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem, said there are two reasons he prefers working in Hosh Jasmin to working in the camp.
“One of them is that, in the camp, it’s not allowed to you to have a lot of kinds of work. Just the [low-quality] jobs,” he said. “But the other reason is, you know camp is very, very, very—there’s no space in the camp, you know? You can’t see this view in the camp and you can’t see any tree, actually, in the camp. You can’t walk in the mountain like that. You can’t smell air like that.”
Despite the advantages of working at Hosh Jasmin, Qsass said, there are also difficulties and dangers related to the farm’s status in Area C. “There’s danger to working in Area C. Some nights we worked here, and the Israeli police came and took photos of us. And sometimes they stop us when we come here and ask us questions,” he said.
Another employee at Hosh Jasmin, Jehad Afaghani, was born in Balata refugee camp in Nablus and spent four months working on the farm. He said he thinks Hosh Jasmin represents a model that could be exported to other parts of Area C to improve living conditions around the West Bank.
“It’s a fantastic way to resist, you know? You don’t need to be in contact with the army, but you can improve yourself by existing in one place,” he said. “You could bring back life to Area C.”
Source

Palestinian farm dodges Israeli bulldozers - in treehouses
August 16, 2013

Mazen Saadeh faces a problem. In trying to expand the facilities of the campground and restaurant he manages in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, he risks attracting the attention of the Israeli authorities tasked with halting Palestinian construction.

Hosh Jasmin, the cooperative farm and tourist destination that Saadeh manages with his partner Aidan Pendleton, is located in the West Bank’s Area C, meaning it lies on Palestinian land under complete Israeli civil and military control. Area C and Hosh Jasmin are under full occupation, a situation that brings with it many challenges, including the threat of demolition. A restaurant just across the valley from Hosh Jasmin has been demolished by the Israeli military three times.

“We need to build. But it’s hard, and it’s forbidden,” Saadeh said. “If we add a centimeter, the Israelis will come and demolish it. Not demolish what we added — they will demolish everything. So it’s a big challenge.”

In response, Saadeh has come up with a unique solution: Since building on the land is prohibited, he builds in the trees.

Saadeh and volunteers at Hosh Jasmin recently completed construction on one treehouse, and they plan to build two more in the coming months. They have also built additional rooms on top of existing structures in a way that allows them to circumvent the language of the law.

The treehouses will be used as rooms for visitors to stay overnight when they visit Hosh Jasmin. Currently, visitors can stay in tents for 50 shekels — around $14. Hosh Jasmin attracts a wide range of foreign and Palestinian tourists, and it was featured in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz last year under the headline “Growing Figs in a Place of War.” But Hosh Jasmin is more than a simple hotel. Taking its name from one used for shared spaces common in Syrian communities, Hosh Jasmin is meant to become a model community where food is produced on-site. In addition to the restaurant and campsite, Hosh Jasmin is home to a farm with 11 kinds of vegetables, as well as chickens, rabbits and sheep. Saadeh’s goal is to eventually serve only food produced on the farm, all grown organically.

“I am sorry to say it, but Palestinian farmers, like Israeli farmers, use huge quantities of chemicals,” Saadeh said. “What you buy in the market is not good.”

Saadeh became concerned about the quality of food produced in Palestine after a friend of his, an agricultural engineer at Bethlehem University, showed him a study he had done on the amount of chemicals used in Palestinian agriculture. “He found 38 percent of that fruit and that vegetable are poisonous,” Saadeh recalls. “He told me, when you go to the market, don’t buy the beautiful apple or beautiful tomato. Buy the bad one, with a bad look. Because a bad look is more natural than a good look.”

According to the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem, over 490 tons of pesticides are used in the West Bank each year, including about 200 tons of methyl bromide, a highly toxic chemical phased out of use in the United States and Europe in the early 2000s. There is widespread use of 14 different pesticides that are, according to the institute, “internationally suspended, canceled or banned.”

But the Hosh Jasmin project extends well beyond the production of healthier food. The volunteers, employees and owners of Hosh Jasmin are actively constructing a new model for life in Area C. Saadeh said an important part of that project is supporting Palestinian work; all of the food Hosh Jasmin buys is produced in Palestine.

“Even the kind of beers we offer is the Palestinian one. It’s very powerful, I think. It’s all Palestinians, with Palestinian hands, with Palestinian farmers from Palestinian areas,” Saadeh said.

Casey Asprooth-Jackson, an American who spent several weeks in Hosh Jasmin and helped construct the first treehouse, had previously worked with a community-supported agriculture project in Upstate New York. He explained what he sees as the similarities and differences between agricultural projects in Palestine versus the rest of the world.

“The way that people live in most places in the world, there’s a disconnection between the land and your life, and that’s something that we want to intercede in and break,” he said. “Here, it’s even further because there is an occupation.”

The demographics of Hosh Jasmin’s employees reflect a commitment to improving life under occupation. All seven of the employees come from Palestinian refugee camps in Bethlehem, Nablus and Qalandiya — areas where it’s often difficult if not impossible to secure a decent job.

Alaa Qsass, a Hosh Jasmin employee from Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem, said there are two reasons he prefers working in Hosh Jasmin to working in the camp.

“One of them is that, in the camp, it’s not allowed to you to have a lot of kinds of work. Just the [low-quality] jobs,” he said. “But the other reason is, you know camp is very, very, very—there’s no space in the camp, you know? You can’t see this view in the camp and you can’t see any tree, actually, in the camp. You can’t walk in the mountain like that. You can’t smell air like that.”

Despite the advantages of working at Hosh Jasmin, Qsass said, there are also difficulties and dangers related to the farm’s status in Area C. “There’s danger to working in Area C. Some nights we worked here, and the Israeli police came and took photos of us. And sometimes they stop us when we come here and ask us questions,” he said.

Another employee at Hosh Jasmin, Jehad Afaghani, was born in Balata refugee camp in Nablus and spent four months working on the farm. He said he thinks Hosh Jasmin represents a model that could be exported to other parts of Area C to improve living conditions around the West Bank.

“It’s a fantastic way to resist, you know? You don’t need to be in contact with the army, but you can improve yourself by existing in one place,” he said. “You could bring back life to Area C.”

Source

Chile education protests continue to rage on for the third day as 110,000 students & supporters marched throughout Santiago demanding education reform. Encapuchados (“hooded ones”) threw molotov cocktails & rocks at riot police as violence ensued.

40 people were arrested included a number of human rights observers. Protests took place around the country today resulting in 227 arrests. 

Following the march, Carabineros, Chile’s uniformed police, entered into the central campus of Universidad de Chile which — alongside 25 other university buildings — has been occupied by students sympathetic to the march’s demands. The police intrusion — captured here in an eyewitnesses video— drew fierce condemnation from university chancellor Víctor Pérez.

“Carabineros entered into the central campus without permission, dispersed tear gas inside and hit students with batons. More than 20 students are injured,” said Pérez. “This is unacceptable and we condemn it and call on authorities to put an end to the aggression suffered [here].”

Student leaders rejected recent promises made in this week’s presidential debates, after many left-leaning candidates promised to reform education and address the inequality which protesters allege is rife in the current system.

FECH Andrés Fielbaum said rhetoric of change is completely undermined by a lack of action on the part of the left-leaning Concertación opposition coalition.

“Now we see that all the [presidential] candidates are adopting our plans and copying our position without this having any correlation to what they do in parliament or what the political parties propose,” Fielbaum told The Santiago Times. “On one hand, the Concertación is promising free education and an end to profit, while at the same time they are discussing policies which allow profit making in education.”

MESUP spokesman Manuel Erazo was equally unimpressed by the recent promises of Concertación candidates.

“We don’t believe any presidential candidates, no one responds to the needs of the people,” said Erazo.

Source
Photos

Power to the students!

Ramallah official statistics: One Palestinian child has been killed by Israel every 3 days for the past 13 yearsJune 4, 2013
Official statistics from the Ministry of Information in Ramallah have revealed that 1,518 Palestinian children were killed by Israel’s occupation forces from the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000 up to April 2013. That’s the equivalent of one Palestinian child killed by Israel every 3 days for almost 13 years. The ministry added that the number of children injured by the Israelis since the start of the Second Intifada against Israel’s occupation has now reached 6,000.
"The International Day for the Protection of Children is on June 1," said a spokesman, "but Palestinian children are still subject to attacks by the Israelis and Jewish settlers on an almost daily basis."
Noting that 2012 saw an unprecedented rise in the number of children arrested by Israeli forces, the report pointed out that 9,000 Palestinians under 18 years old have been arrested since the end of September 2000. Almost half of the Palestinian population is under 18. Almost two hundred and fifty Palestinian minors are being held in prison by Israel; 47 of them are children under 16 years of age.
Source

Ramallah official statistics: One Palestinian child has been killed by Israel every 3 days for the past 13 years
June 4, 2013

Official statistics from the Ministry of Information in Ramallah have revealed that 1,518 Palestinian children were killed by Israel’s occupation forces from the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000 up to April 2013. That’s the equivalent of one Palestinian child killed by Israel every 3 days for almost 13 years. The ministry added that the number of children injured by the Israelis since the start of the Second Intifada against Israel’s occupation has now reached 6,000.

"The International Day for the Protection of Children is on June 1," said a spokesman, "but Palestinian children are still subject to attacks by the Israelis and Jewish settlers on an almost daily basis."

Noting that 2012 saw an unprecedented rise in the number of children arrested by Israeli forces, the report pointed out that 9,000 Palestinians under 18 years old have been arrested since the end of September 2000. Almost half of the Palestinian population is under 18. Almost two hundred and fifty Palestinian minors are being held in prison by Israel; 47 of them are children under 16 years of age.

Source

Professor & physicist Stephen Hawking has joined the academic boycott of Israel “based upon his knowledge of Palestine & on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there.”
In another stride forward in the campaign for boycott, divestment & sanctions against Israel, Hawking pulled out of a conference hosted by President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. 
"The situation is like that of South Africa before 1990 and cannot continue," Hawking said after Israel’s three-week attack on Gaza in 2009.

Professor & physicist Stephen Hawking has joined the academic boycott of Israel “based upon his knowledge of Palestine & on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there.”

In another stride forward in the campaign for boycott, divestment & sanctions against Israel, Hawking pulled out of a conference hosted by President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. 

"The situation is like that of South Africa before 1990 and cannot continue," Hawking said after Israel’s three-week attack on Gaza in 2009.

Point your bullet where ever you like in my body.
I will die today, but my homeland will live tomorrow.
Be careful, Palestine is a red line.
Amer Nassar, a 17-year-old Palestinian who was killed, along with his 18-year-old cousin Naji Abdul-Karim Balbeisi, by Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint on April 3. This was the last poem he posted on his Facebook page on March 15.