Bedouin Village to be Demolished - Again

 - by Amos Gvirtz - 

Great anxiety. Israeli citizens are sitting in their homes, as demolition hovering over their heads. (Orders that may materialize each day). What will you? Where will they go? Where to live? No one is offering them alternative accommodation. They do not settlers who settled on land that is not theirs, violation of Israeli law and contrary to international law. They are citizens of Israel.

Their only crime is born Bedouins in the Jewish state. They were expelled from their lands - stolen from them - in 1949. The Israeli government moved them from place to place twice before finally seated them, sixty years ago, in Umm al-Hiran and Atir. Only one thing the government has done. She did not give the status of illegal settlements created. Now illusory claims are invading! Invading towns own government settled them sixty years ago!

Why is it so important to dispose of them in areas where the government sat them? Whoever comes to Umm al Hiran see around the huge space, empty. But it turns out that the Israeli government decided to build a Jewish settlement, Hiran name, precisely where it housed the residents of Umm al Hiran. And plant a forest just where the Israeli government settled the residents of rich!

The question is why the Israeli government doing this? Unfortunately the answer is simple: Since he she can. It can, Since he did not sufficiently citizens oppose these racist acts.
Once out of the UN General Assembly Declaration Scandalous: they decided that Zionism is racism. The insult was burning. How can you blame the state of the Jewish people - who suffered so much from racism - racism !? Indeed, a few years later dismissed the UN General Assembly the scandalous decision.
In the eighties, the Israeli Knesset passed a law against racism. I fear that this law is opposed to racism and incitement to racial effect. The law was actually defending the racist actions of the government. No one can demand to outlaw the Israeli government because of the racist actions.

When the government removes citizens - Bedouin from their dwelling places, in order to reconcile citizens - Jews in their place, it's a racist act. Displace people from their land and plant a forest on land that this inhuman act. If settlers were certainly not before she could send them find an alternative place to suit their requirements.

The Israeli government decision makers scandalous actions of the United Nations was not mistaken. Israel's citizens who are crying about the horrible act of injustice, mops theory and in practice the government's racist actions.


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The Almighty Military Order

 - by Sam Bahour - 29th October, 2016
Originally published at ePalestine.
If your Palestinian neighbors and friends seem slightly on edge today, please excuse them. October 29th brings back horrific memories to Palestinians everywhere, young and old. It was 60 years ago today that a scene of cold-blooded murder fell upon the hill-top Palestinian village of Kafr Qassem (also written Kfar Kassim), located in Israel about 20 km east of Tel Aviv, near the Green Line (1949 Armistice Agreement’s demarcation line) separating Israel and the West Bank. It was in Kafr Qassem on this day in 1956 where the Israeli military literally mowed down in cold blood 48 innocent civilians, one being a pregnant woman whose fetus is counted as the 49th victim. It was said that all of this was done in the service of the almighty Israeli “military order,” which no one dared to challenge.

Sixty years is a long time to mourn a death, even a cold-blooded murder. It is even longer when you must live amongst those, and within the system of those, who were the murderers of your loved ones. If this was merely an isolated incident of the Israeli military machine killing Palestinians, one may have already regulated it to the history books, but it was not and is not.

Prior to this massacre there were others, such as the well-known case of Deir Yassin in 1948. And ever since that dark day in Kafr Qassem there have been numerous other incidents, too many to list. One that comes to mind is 13-year old Iman al-Homs who, in October 2004, was walking home from school in Gaza when an Israeli soldier emptied his magazine into her after she was wounded and lay on the ground. The solider was caught on radio communications saying he was “confirming the kill.” The most recent example that comes to mind is the Israeli solider caught on camera in Hebron this past March as he executed a wounded and immobilized Palestinian man lying on the ground by firing a bullet into his head as his fellow soldiers casually watched on.

Unlike today, decades ago, Israel did undertake more serious investigations of actions of its military. This is not to say that justice was ever served, it rarely is. Such a landmark investigation was the Israeli Kahan Commission, established by the Israeli government on September 28, 1982, to investigate the Sabra and Shatila massacre (September 16–18, 1982) where 1,000-3,000 (exact number is disputed) Palestinians were slaughtered over three days. The Kahan Commission was chaired by the Israeli President of the Supreme Court, Yitzhak Kahan. Its other two members were Israeli Supreme Court Judge Aharon Barak and Major general (res.) Yona Efrat. The Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon was found to bear personal responsibility. Sharon's negligence in protecting the civilian population of Beirut, which had come under Israeli control, resulted in a recommendation that Sharon be dismissed as Defense Minister. Although Sharon grudgingly resigned as Defense Minister, he remained in the Cabinet as a Minister without Portfolio. Years later, Sharon would be elected Israel's Prime Minister.

Back to the Kafr Qassem case.

The Israeli English newspaper, Haaretz, reported in a story by correspondent Ofer Aderet (60 years after massacre, Kafr Qasem doesn’t want an apology from the Israeli government, October 28, 2016) that, “In the 60 years since the [Kafr Qasem] carnage Israel’s attitude has been complicated. Those involved in it were court martialed, convicted and some sentenced at first to long prison terms [these “long terms” were less than what the law stipulated for premeditated murder]. [Israeli] Judge Benjamin Halevy coined the phrase “a blatantly illegal order” in his verdict. The instruction to Israel Defense Forces soldiers that they are obliged to refuse an order “that has a black flag flying over it” has become part of the Kafr Qasem legacy.”

The Haaretz story goes on, “But the convicted parties’ sentence was soon commuted by the chief of staff, they were pardoned by the president and released from jail. The most senior defendant, Col. Issachar Shadmi, commander of the brigade in charge of the area, was sentenced to a symbolic fine of 10 pennies for exceeding authority. Major Shmuel Malinki, commander of the Border Patrol battalion, testified at the trial that Shadmi had ordered him to enforce the curfew with gunshots. Asked what would happen to those who return to the village after the curfew, Kedmi said Shadmi had said “may God have mercy on their soul.””

And maybe most shocking of all coming from an Israeli newspaper is that, “The comparison between the Kafr Qasem massacre and the Holocaust was first made at the trial, when the [Israeli] judge asked one of the defendants if he would have justified a Nazi soldier who was obeying orders.” The Haaretz correspondent continues, “In 1986, 30 years after the massacre, Shalom Ofer, one of the convicted soldiers, said in an interview to Ha’ir: “We were like the Germans. They stopped trucks, took the Jews off and shot them. What we did is the same. We were obeying orders like a German soldier during the war, when he was ordered to slaughter Jews.””

Many, especially those in the Jewish community in Israel and abroad, will rightfully find the above words hard to swallow. I don’t blame them. This horrendous act was revolting and when undertaken in “your” name it makes one sick to their stomach. But the above notions are only a glimpse of the legal proceedings around Kafr Qassem. One of the first to document the Israeli court proceedings which tried the Kafr Qassem murderers was the landmark book entitled The Arabs in Israel by Attorney Sabri Jiryis first published in Haifa in Hebrew in 1966. A fuller account of what was testified and recorded by those Israeli commanders and soldiers who took part in this killing spree are printed here [with the author’s permission] in English. Warning: it’s a disturbing read.

And this, my friends, is the buried past, and not so buried present, of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), “the most moral army in the world.” It is imperative that we all redouble our efforts to not make it their future as well, military order or not.
Sam Bahour is a policy adviser to Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network
 Chairman of Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy
Co-editor of HOMELAND: Oral History of Palestine and Palestinians (Olive Branch Press). 
He blogs at @SamBahour


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Biking 2016 - Colorado - Day 1

10th October • Colorado, USA
Boulder - Boulder Reservoir - Carter Lake
42 miles (67.5km.) biked

After ten days of family time and visiting with Grandson Logan, I am ready for a couple of days of R & R. The goal for this first US excursion on the bike is to seek out the real ‘Coloradan’, Who are the locals? So far in Denver and Boulder I have met lots of people from somewhere else. Now I am on a mission to find the natives.

It is perhaps appropriate that this bike trip starts on the classic US holiday, Columbus Day, now mired in controversy. Colorado recently declared that ‘Columbus Day’ would be renamed ‘Indigenous People Day’ in honour of, and in memory of, the great nations that once roamed this land. The new ‘natives’ of the past few hundred years are descendants of a hardy pioneer breed of mostly European stock, that after fleeing oppression and poverty in Europe, they invaded, conquered and wrested this country from the people who lived here at the time.

With the bike strapped on the back of my son Muki’s car, I drive to Boulder from the B&B in the northern Denver suburbs where I am staying. The landscape is already stunning. The twin cities of Denver and Boulder sit on a great plain at over 5,000 feet (1,524 metres) above sea level - yet the mountains immediately to the west soar even more steeply above, with many of the peaks already snow-covered. Colorado has over 100 peaks that are over 10,000 feet (3,000+ metres)

I park the car in Boulder, in hopefully a free spot. Google Maps leads the way out of town to the north, via bike paths that snake around and between suburban developments. I see a snapshot of working class and middle class Colorado on the way out of town. I see lots of classic 1950’s ‘Levittown’ style homes and neatly kept trailer parks. The upscale part of town seems to be elsewhere. A sign catches my eye, and I pause for a minute to chat with Scott Phillips of ‘World Outdoors’, an adventure travel company. He marvels at my cycling rig and we resolve to be in touch to see if there’s possibilities of cooperation.

The weather is perfect, sunny and warm, but as soon as I am clear of the town, a winds picks up from the West, and will be a factor for the entire trip. I am heading north so have the wind blowing from my left. Any time I make a left turn, there’s a headwind that forces me to pedal downhill. Of course when the road turns east and the wind is in my back, I sail up the hills.

Shortly after leaving Boulder I take a detour around Boulder Reservoir, a pristine area with a great managed beach, boating and water sports. I have breakfast with a view.

The ride so far is mostly on flat land or gently flowing hills. Lots of family farms, and speciality produce and animals. I see signs for ‘grass fed beef’, Llama wool, and ‘cut your own Christmas trees’.

Animals are in abundance, both domesticated and wildlife. On the farms I see the aforementioned llamas, plus horses, cows, goats, pigs and rabbits. I pause and commune with one of the largest donkeys I have seen - twice the size of the ones at home. At first I thought it was a mule but on closer inspection he was definately a super-sized donkey. Only in America. 

Prairie Dogs are in abundance. They are small creatures, kind of like a cross between a guinea pig and a squirrel. They squeak and scurry between their burrows in the fields, poking their heads out and having a chat with each other. I also see rabbits, a rattlesnake, deer, and possibly elk. I even see a black squirrel. That was a first. There are signs warning about snakes, coyotes and bears.

I am definately in Redneck country now. Pickup trucks seem to be the vehicle of choice, some with the ubiquitous rifle on a rack. I was warned about hunters since the season is now open. I am a great admirer of classic American individualism. I just have a bit of a problem with the narrow perspectives and gun fetish that seems to characterise much of white rural America. The further I go from the city, the more Trump lawn signs I see.

I resolve to meet Rednecks for a deeper understanding. My first real encounter is at the Feed & Supply shop in the village of Hygiene. I need some zip ties for my tool kit and there’s no hardware shop in the village. The burly cowboy behind the counter shakes his head. “No sir’ he says to my enquiry, then goes on to ask how many I need. He can’t provide the ten or so that I could use, but he does go into the backroom and return with two zip ties as a gift. The kindness is much appreciated. A cowboy with a heart.

Also in Hygiene I chat with the owner at the Purple Door cafe in about the Columbus Day issue. She has roots going back to the Mayflower and also Native American heritage. She supports the change of the holiday to ‘Indigenous People’s Day’, and reckons that if a white family has been here for four or more generations then they have the right to call themselves ‘Native’

I am reminded of my own people, who fled the European and Russian pogroms, oppression, and finally the Holocaust - only to wreak death and destruction in Palestine as the land was colonised, the indigenous people displaced, and their geography, history and culture systematically replaced with a bible-based Hebrew/Jewish/Israeli ethos. Many of us Jews are now into four or more generations in Israel/Palestine. I wonder if we now have the right to be called a ‘Native’. Ask a Palestinian.

I arrive at a ‘Road Closed’ sign, and a detour indicator that would add at least another hour to the trip. I decide that ‘Road Closed’ does not apply to bikes, and continue. A mile down the road I come to a new bridge being constructed over a river. No cars could pass, but the dirt trail bypassing the site is being used by construction vehicles. I continue on foot, pushing the bike through the slippery dirt. Only 200 feet ( 65 metres) to the road on the other side.

Then a man appears and tells me that I cannot pass. “But the road is right there” I tell him. “No” he says, “County rules”, and tells me I have to go back and take the detour, adding at least 5 miles (8km.) to my ride. I try cajoling and arguing to no avail. I’m a bit pushy so he tells me that if I continue he will call the police. I ask if I can go through the adjacent private land and he tells me that I will be trespassing and the property owners have the legal right to shoot me.

OK, this is getting interesting.

I turn around and carefully, cautiously, enter a private driveway near the bridge. A truck is coming towards me from the nearby house. I go pro-active and wave the driver to stop. A young good ole boy leans out the window and I explain the problem. He lets loose a string of profanity about the county and the construction crew, and tells me that they have taken eight months to build the bridge that he could have built in half the time. He and his neighbours are fed up.

This cowboy in a baseball cap graciously directs me to a trail through his property and tells me that it comes close to a ford in the river where I can cross. What he omitted to tell me was that there is no trail on the other side, so not possible to continue with the loaded bike. Oh well, it was worth a try. I go back and reluctantly take the detour. Between the putzing around, and the detour, I am about 2 hours behind schedule.

The wind picks up and cycling becomes less fun as I have it coming at me broadside. It’s surprising that no farms seem to have wind powered generators. I guess electricity is still cheap enough around here.

As I approach Carter Lake, my destination, there is a large hill with several switchback bends. I’m pretty well done for the day so take a break and ponder the steep slope ahead. Well there’s nothing for it, so I start pushing, and plow my way to the top. Half way up, at one of the hairpin bends, there’s a bicycle chained to a fence. Someone has spray painted the bike white, tyres and all - and it is festooned with wreaths and flowers, obviously a shrine for someone with poor luck, poor skills, or an encounter with a bad or inebriated driver. I pause for a moment to contemplate, and move on.

Up and over the hill I go, and after a quick consultation with the map, decide to camp for the night at the campground on the southern end of Carter Lake, rather than the northern campground that was the original plan. I’m knackered and need to stop. Not forgetting that today’s ride is at an unfamiliar and high altitude.

The sun is just dipping below the nearby peaks to the West and the view of the lake is stunning. A great place to spend the night.

It’s off season so there are only another couple of campers. The campground is quite basic. There’s toilets and clean water, but no showers. The water is the best I have tasted in Colorado. Likely direct from the mountains. There’s no discernible flavour of chlorine like the city water.

I get the tent up despite the wind and cook a spicy vegan stew for dinner over my trusty Bio-lite wood burning camp stove.

I sleep . . . .


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