Archive for March 2012
GAZA, (PIC)– The Red Cross said it intends to give the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza about 150,000 liters of diesel fuel to help 13 public hospitals continue to provide health services in the next 10 days.
The Red Cross had provided Gaza hospitals with a similar amount of fuel last February.
Head of the Red Cross in the occupied Palestinian territory Juan Shearer warned that the failure to solve the problem of fuel and electricity in Gaza would paralyze health services and endanger the lives of patients.
He noted that the operating theaters, intensive care units, neonatal care units and dialysis units in Gaza hospitals would suffer terribly if the power and fuel crisis persisted, and urged the Palestinian authorities to work on finding a permanent solution to this problem.
(occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com / 31.03.2012)
“This is a priority area for my administration,” said the minister, who estimated that about 400 of Tunisia’s more than 5,000 mosques had fallen under the sway of ultra-conservative Salafists.
“Serious problems concern about 50 mosques, no more,” he said, referring to cases where the original imams and worshippers had been forced out.
Khademi said that in the central city of Sidi Bouzid, for example, a major mosque was taken over by Salafists more than a year ago and was now known by locals as the “Kandahar mosque”, after Afghanistan’s Taliban stronghold.
“Hundreds of other places of worship are experiencing administrative problems: no imam or muezzin, no administrator,” said Khademi, himself an imam at the el-Fateh mosque in Tunis, site of frequent Salafist protests.
A popular uprising in Tunisia early last year ousted long-standing dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s regime and set off the Arab Spring. The moderate Islamist Ennahda party won October 2011 elections.
However, Salafists, formerly banned, have become vocal, demanding that sharia or Islamic law form the basis of a new constitution.
Some secular and liberal groups have reacted angrily to the surge by religious hardliners, arguing that the democratic gains achieved by the January 2011 revolt risk being rolled back.
The religious affairs minister said his ministry has prepared to make an inventory of all the country’s mosques, and a 20-member “Committee of Wise Men” to be chaired by the minister would be announced next week.
This commission – to include imams, Islamic university lecturers and humanities teachers – will be tasked with compiling the inventory.
“We are also looking at the recruitment of imams, who now have to hold at least a master’s degree, preferably in Islamic studies, have a general education in the humanities, an openness to other religions, and be known for their morality in their neighborhood,” said the minister.
By Ramadan – the Muslim holy month, expected to start this year on July 20 – “calm will have returned in our mosques,” he said.
One of the Salafist leaders, Seif Allah Ben Hassine, insisted this week that the movement does not preach violence.
He said Tunisia “is not a land of jihad, but it is a land of religious preaching,” according to the Friday edition of Tunisian daily Le Temps.
“We do not preach violence. All our actions may be summarized now in the moral preaching and works of charity,” said Ben Hassine, known as Abu Yadh and considered one of the top leaders of the most radical Salafists.
Released during a post-revolution amnesty, Abu Yadh is the co-founder in 2000 of the Tunisian Fighting Group, which was listed in 2002 by the U.N. Security Council as linked to al-Qaeda.
Abu Yadh fought in Afghanistan and was arrested in 2003 in Turkey, before being extradited and sentenced to 43 years jail by the regime of Ben Ali.
“I am certain that Tunisia is not a land of jihad, but that it is a land of religious preaching… We only want good for our country and our countrymen,” said Abu Yadh, adding that “the Salafist bogey” has been used to frighten the Tunisian people.
(english.alarabiya.net / 30.03.2012)
Op 30 maart, de Landdag, protesteren Palestijnen en sympathiserende Arabieren tegen het Israëlische grondbeleid, dat in hun ogen discriminerend is. Deze dag herinnert de Palestijnen aan hun verzet tegen de onteigening van hun land, sinds 30 maart 1976 waar bij demonstraties tegen deze onteigening zes Arabieren het leven lieten.
Ook dit jaar had de organisatie van de Global March on Jerusalem 30 maart uitgekozen om met deze grote mars aandacht te vragen voor de ernstige belemmeringen voor het Palestijnse leven en de vernietiging van de Palestijnse cultuur in Jerusalem. Ruim 40 jaar geleden is Jerusalem bezet gebied en hebben de Israëlische autoriteiten de burgerrechten van de Palestijnse inwoners enorm beperkt en zelfs geheel afgenomen; dit zal volgens de burgemeester van Jerusalem nog verder worden doorgevoerd.
Tijdens de Landdag en de Global March on Jerusalem werd overal op de wereld gedemonstreerd tegen de steeds verdergaande Judaïsering van Jerusalem; van overal op de wereld zijn er foto’s en berichten binnengekomen, van demonstranten maar ook van media. Ontvangen zijn foto’s van Moskou, India, Maleisië, Indonesia, Canada, Italië; echter het was weer eens windstil in Nederland, geen regeringsverantwoordelijke, geen politicus, maar ook geen media die aandacht heeft geschonken aan een zo’n belangrijke dag voor de Palestijnen, Arabieren en moslims over de gehele wereld. Neen, als het over Palestina gaat, is Nederland muisstil en laat zich niet horen. Als de gemiddelde Palestijn geluk heeft, kan hij van deze belangrijke gebeurtenis 30 seconden zien op het NOS Journaal, echter dan meestal in de vorm van de Palestijnse terroristen die de lieve Israëlische militairen aanvallen met steentjes, terwijl een compleet Israëlisch militair apparaat werd ingezet.
Door deze houding – het is puur doodzwijgen van een compleet volk – is Nederland partij- en deelgenoot in het conflict tussen Palestina en Israël; dit geldt voor de politiek maar ook voor de media. Door het structureel doodzwijgen van een complete bevolking en steeds de zijde van Israël te kiezen, draagt Nederland direct mee aan de onderdrukking van de Palestijnen, is ze verantwoordelijk voor onteigening van Palestijns land, het vermoorden van onschuldige burgers en de vernietiging van de Palestijnse cultuur.
Zolang de regering van Nederland van mening is dat alle Palestijnen terroristen zijn, zal de sfeer in de Nederlandse media verpest worden door deze onzin en zal er niet gewerkt kunnen worden aan een oplossing in een conflict wat al jaren zich voortsleept en door het westen zelf als oplossing is aangedragen. Twee- staten oplossing of een-staat oplossing met rechten voor een ieder, is en blijft ver weg, alleen maar omdat Nederland haar politieke kop als een struisvogel heeft ingegraven.
Voor de Palestijnen zullen er op deze manier nog vele Landdagen komen en zullen de internationale organisaties en individuele activisten nog vele Global Marches on Jerusalem moeten organiseren en zullen er nog vele Flytilla’s en Flottila’s volgen, maar er zal een dag komen dat de Palestijnen dezelfde rechten hebben als alle bewoners van deze aarde, Insha’Allah.
The protesters marched to one of the Israeli owned franchise cafes, Max Brenner which has been the target of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, or BDS protests across the country. Max Brenner is 100% owned by an Israeli company, the Strauss Group, one of Israel’s largest food and beverage companies. The Strauss Group boasts of the support it gives to the Israeli army saying it wants to “sweeten their special moment”, particularly the Golani and Givati brigades of the Israeli Occupation Forces. While this content has been removed from the Strauss Group’s English website, it can be found on the Hebrew version of the site.
Both the Sydney and Melbourne branches of Students for Justice in Palestine say they have been the targets of a very heavy-handed approach by the police who arrested 19 people in Melbourne and 2 in Sydney. According to organisers, the Victorian police, violently attacked a Max Brenner protest on July 1, 2011, and arrested 19 people, known as the Boycott Israel 19, in what was one of the largest political arrests in a decade.
Protesters say they were also the targets of slander in the mainstream press. A media inquiry by the Australian Press Council in November last year, found that articles published in the Australian newspaper relating to boycott Israel protests, were in breach of the council’s standards of practice. A number of articles published for the paper portrayed the BDS campaign as anti-Semitic which angered BDS activists who say it was as an inaccurate portrayal of their campaign which they say is aimed at pressuring Israel to comply with international law and end its human rights abuses. Politicians and other high profile people in Australia have also publicly condemned the protests and likened the protesters to Nazis, some of them even organised ‘sit-ins’ at the cafe together, to show their opposition to the protests. Organisers say they will not be intimidated by the neither the police brutality nor the slander from the press and politicians and say they will not be silenced in their opposition to Israel’s crimes.
Protesters expressed the need to maintain the BDS campaign in Australia saying that like the boycott of South Africa, the campaign is an important tool to pressure Israel to comply with international law and end its war crimes against the Palestinian people. They say boycotts become necessary when governments like Australia do nothing to stop Israel’s crimes adding that BDS is about ordinary people exercising the power that is theirs.
Sidi Saheb Mosque, Kairouan
Kairouan is the fifth-biggest city in Tunisia with more than 150,000 inhabitants. It’s 155 km south of Tunis and 65 km west of the Sahel – Tunisia’s eastern coast.
The Arabs founded the city in the 7thcentury and made it into a military base during their conquest of the Maghreb and Spain. Later it became the capital ofIfriqiya, the Arabic name for Tunisia in the Middle Ages, and was the largest metropolis in the western basin of the Mediterranean Sea for more than three centuries.
Nowadays, Kairouan is the most visited city in central Tunisia, thanks to its rich Islamic heritage. One of the Prophet Mohamed’s companions, Abou Zumaa Balaoui, is buried there. During Mouled – the festival that celebrates the birthday of the Prohpet Mohamed – thousands of visitors from Tunisia and abroad descend upon the city.
Kairouan is blessed with an important architectural and cultural heritage. With its massive, ancient walls, Kairouan’s medina remains one of the most authentic in Tunisia. Its grand mosque even served as a model for other mosques constructed in the Maghreb as well. Designed in the form of a citadel, it bears witness to the city’s military origins.
The Backroads of Kairouan
Despite the large number of visitors who come to Kairouan each year, relatively few take the time to explore the hills and mountains behind the city. Those who do explore these backroads are rewarded with wonderful views and the opportunity to experience some of Tunisia’s impressive pre-Islamic heritage. This dates back to pre-historic times and includes the Byzantine era in the 5th and 6th centuries AD. Much of this history is ignored not only by many Tunisians but by specialists in the field as well.
Ksar Limsa is often described as one of the most beautiful and most complete Byzantine monuments in Tunisia. With walls gilded by sunshine and crenellated towers, this fortress overlooks the valley of Oued Mahrouf some 30 km north-west of Kairouan near the village of Al Ouesllatia. The fortress is rectangular in shape, flanked by 13-meter high towers in each corner. The walls are around eight meters high and a crenellated parapet protects the wall walk. The inner courtyard measures 31 meters in width and 28 in length. The walls were built by stone collected from the ancient Roman town of Limisa. Constructed in the 6th century, it is a typical “castellum” built by the Byzantines to protect the town from attack.
Rock Art in Djebel Ouesllat
This large and impressive mountain covers more than 130,000 hectares. Although it’s hard to reach and lacks water, this mountain has known human occupation for over 5,000 years.
Rock Art in Djebel Ouesslat
Ouesllat mountain contains an impressive quantity of wall paintings that demonstrate the existence of disappeared species. The paintings show that the white rhinoceros, the great ancient buffalo, as well as antelope, giraffe, hyena, and ostrich, once lived in the region.
Precious details about daily life are also revealed, such as hunting and family life. Domestic animals, such as cows, goats, sheep, and dogs, are well-illustrated in bucolic pasture scenes.
This mountain’s more recent history is likewise remarkable. The tribes of this mountain were very hostile towards any central authority and historically supported all kinds of rebellion against it.
In the beginning of the 18th Century, the hill tribes supported Hussein Ben Ali, the founder of the Husseinite monarchy that ruled Tunisia until 1957. During a bitter civil war between Ben Ali and his nephew, Ali Pacha, local villagers were punished by the Pacha for their support of Ali, who was murdered by Pacha and whose death was avenged by his sons – the ultimate victors of the war. All of the olive trees were cut down and the inhabitants were exiled during the Pacha’s reprisals.
These days the region is largely deserted, despite its fertile soil, and the abandoned villages have been left untouched for two hundred years. They stand witness to this important and bloody period of the Tunisian history.
The villages of Ouesllatia and Ksar Limsa can still be visited by car if one takes the regional roads – 99 and 46 – from Kairouan. Guided tours can be also organized from Kairouan.
(www.tunisia-live.net / 30.03.2012)
|By Tariq Shadid
The essence of the Palestinian struggle is the battle against Zionism. It is a battle against its racism, against its murderous war crimes, against its insatiable territorial hunger, against its disdain for non-Jewish human rights, and against its devoted attempts to destroy Palestinian national identity. As voices of normalization are on the rise, and social media is invaded by paid pro-Zionist bloggers, there is an increased need for anti-Zionists to draw attention to the crimes committed by ‘Israel’, and to speak up against the ongoing media silence and the apologist activities of those misleadingly portraying themselves as ‘peace doves’. Let us first look briefly at the history of the anti-Zionist struggle, and then see where we stand today.
The Ideology of Zionism
Years before the creation of the state of ‘Israel’, there was already a full-blown battle going on against Zionism. On one side, the Palestinians were resisting against the usurpation of their land, having grown aware of the far-stretching implications of the Balfour declaration of 1917, which laid the foundation for the mass-immigration of European Jews into Palestine. In those same decades, there was also an ongoing struggle within the Jewish communities in Europe, where many were opposed to the tenets of Zionism either on a religious basis, or on the realization that colonizing an inhabited land would inevitably cause an injustice that would continue to reverberate for many years to come. A famous example of this in that period of time was the famous genius Albert Einstein, who in 1938 already expressed his opposition to the creation of a ‘Jewish state’, and in a letter to the New York Times that he wrote together with a number of prominent Jews in 1948, strongly denounced the horrendous Deir Yassin massacre.
The ongoing struggle of the Palestinians against Zionism and the continuing expropriation of their land is well-known, but not everyone is aware that within Jewish ranks, true ideological opposition against Zionism still exists. The most well-known group among these is Neturei Karta (‘Guardians of the City’), an organization of international Jews united against Zionism. On another note, within the current framework of the Zionist state, a coalition of groups that call themselves ‘Campus Watchdogs’ recently went as far as labeling 10 % of Israeli academics as ‘anti-Zionist’. It is likely that this number is highly overrated, since this McCarthyism-like approach can be expected to have lumped together a wide variety of people who expressed criticism at their government’s actions. In a similar way that outside criticism of ‘Israel’ quickly gets labeled as ‘anti-Semitism’, many of the one thousand mentioned academics, publicists and journalists are likely to have received the label of ‘anti-Zionist’ despite adhering to many of Zionism’s principles.
Tribal, Religious, or Ideological?
For some, the ongoing misery is a war between two peoples, basically a ‘tribal war’. Others prefer seeing it as a war between religions, with Judaism on one side and Muslims on the other side. Those who adopt this view are ignoring the pluralistic ethnic and religious composition of the Palestinian people, and are for instance ignoring the fact that many Palestinians are Christians, who have not been spared the gruesome fate of their Muslim compatriots. Thirdly, there are those who view the struggle as a battle between ideologies: Zionism on one side, and anti-Zionism on the other.
As the original PLO manifesto (28 May 1964) stated, the organization declared that “Palestine with its boundaries that existed at the time of the British mandate is an integral regional unit” and that it sought to “prohibit the existence and activity of Zionism”. It also contained statements calling for a right of return and self-determination for the Palestinians. When reading the manifesto, it becomes clear that the PLO, the first more officially organized Palestinian movement against the land theft and expulsion committed by the Zionist terrorist organizations that later declared the Zionist state, was an explicitly anti-Zionist movement. The PLO incorporated the various existing political movements in one body, and was declared to be the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. This was widely accepted by an overwhelming majority of Palestinians.
The Oslo Disaster
As illustrated above, the foundations of the Palestinian struggle were based on the territorial integrity of Palestine (i.e. the one state solution) and the right of return of all expelled Palestinians. These original foundations became embedded in an entire generation of Palestinians worldwide. In 1993, the leadership under Yaser Arafat adopted the two-state solution instead, which largely happened in a top-down manner and led to the Oslo accords, However, it soon became clear to all that the Oslo accords were only accepted by ‘Israel’ as a deceptive method to hypnotize the Palestinians as well as the masses of the world into an illusion of Israeli willingness for territorial concessions, while in truth confiscating huge swathes of land, building a separation wall and almost tripling the settler population (from 250,000 to 700,000). It should be no surprise that even early on, as the scam became blatantly clear to all except seemingly to the leadership of the newly created Palestinian Authority, the original tenets of the struggle were yet again embraced by many Palestinians inside of Palestine as well as in the diaspora.
Return to the Struggle
As the state of confusion created by the Oslo accords lingered on, some defeatist voices however also turned to normalization, instead of returning to the basics of the struggle. It is not to be wondered at that disillusion and opportunism play their role in such a complex situation, wherein many lose hope when faced with the overwhelming military, economical and strategic dominance of the Zionist state. Nevertheless, youth movements that are currently active in keeping the struggle for Palestinian rights alive, predominantly see anti-normalization as one of their main strategic goals. They adhere to the above-mentioned basic tenets of the struggle, and reject the failed formula of negotiations that is still pursued by the Palestinian Authority, despite its lack of popular mandate for it. For most Palestinians it is blatantly clear, that the so-called ‘Peace Process’ has only caused damage to their cause and has not brought even the slightest prospects of a better future, let alone of self-determination or independence.
Internationally, pro-Palestinian activists also largely adhere to the basic tenets of the Palestinian struggle, namely the one-state solution and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees. There are other issues as well that are deemed non-negotiable to the majority of Palestinians, such as strong opposition against the Judaization of Jerusalem (Al Quds) which is projected as the future capital of liberated Palestine, and the release of all thousands of Palestinian political prisoners.
There is definitely also a group of ‘two-staters’, but their numbers are dwindling fast, and they rarely engage in activism since their views are largely represented by the Palestinian Authority. The strongest cure for the fallacy of the two-state solution was seeing the Palestinian side of that solution being gobbled up by the Zionist state over the years, faster than one could issue statements of protest against them.
New Shape of the Struggle: Back to Anti-Zionism
It is clear nowadays that the Palestinian Authority is not a useful apparatus for waging any form of struggle, but an administrative body that functions mainly as an extension of the Israeli security apparatus, in a framework inherited directly from the Oslo agreements. This does not mean that the people have stopped struggling. The modern Palestinian struggle has moved towards preferring popular resistance over armed struggle, and employing BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) as a main strategy of generating pressure against the Zionist state. What has also changed, is that this struggle has gained large numbers of international supporters all over the world, who support the Palestinians in their pursuit of freedom from Zionist oppression.
These changes have also brought anti-Zionism back to the forefront, and this has far-reaching implications. Whereas a two-state solution almost automatically implies the undertaking of steps towards normalization, since it implies an acceptance of Zionism and relinquishing the claim of 78 % of Palestinian territory to it, a one-state solution which aims to create a state for all of its inhabitants that does not discriminate on the basis of race of religion, requires a strong and uncompromising return to anti-Zionism as a unifying strategy.
Anti-Zionism versus Normalization
In a struggle that aims to achieve this, normalization is an extremely damaging concession that can never be combined with the dismantling of Zionism, which is the ultimate goal of its strategy. After all, a struggle against racism cannot be successful if the inherently racist tenets of Zionism are accepted. The ‘Oslo-period’ has however sown its sorrowful seeds in more places than may directly become apparent. The vast majority of the Arab masses have not accepted Zionism in their midst, but there are stubborn strands of normalization that seem to be enjoying an increasing momentum within ‘progressive’ ranks of various Arab communities.
Two Egyptian examples can be mentioned in this context. One is Mona Eltahawy, who seems to consider ‘Israel’ to be a civilized state and refused to condemn the genocidal massacre in Gaza that claimed the lives of 1,400 Palestinians (including at least 300 children) by massive attacks from drones, tanks, Apaches and F-16’s – on a population that possesses no bombing shelters or anti-aircraft artillery. Another even more mind-blowing example is Maikel Nabil, an Egyptian blogger who enjoyed wide campaigns for his release when he was arrested for criticizing the SCAF military junta of post-Mubarak Egypt. He expressed his love for Israel on his blog and in Israeli media with an enthusiasm rarely ever seen before in the Arab world. There are other examples too, such as Arab-American comedian Ray Hanania of Palestinian origin, who proclaimed himself a candidate for Palestinian presidency in a video that he posted on Youtube, wherein he called for an acceptance of Israeli settlements, and an end to the Right of Return.
The Only Ziocracy in the Middle East
It is true that these examples do not represent the sentiments of the majority of Palestinians and other Arabs, whether in the Arab world or outside of it, but these voices cannot be ignored either. The main reason for this is that voices of normalization like the ones mentioned above often receive disproportionate attention in Western-dominated mass-media, and thereby have a number of insidious destructive effects upon the struggle.
First of all, they make those who are true to the anti-racist struggle against Zionism seem extremist, by offering alternatives that at first sight strike the general public as being more inspired by peaceful motives. This is a distortion of reality: support for ‘Israel’, the most belligerent state in the Middle East, the only state in the region in possession of (over 300) nuclear arms, and the only ‘Ziocracy’ where ones ethnic background automatically categorizes one as having less rights than others, can never be truthfully designated as ‘peace-loving’.
Secondly, the apparently human inclination of the masses to flock around the famous without delving deeply into their philosophies, brings multitudes of people close to positive truth-distorting evaluations of the Zionist state. For example, progressive Arabs who embrace Mona Eltahawy’s feminist activities, are inclined to also automatically defend their idol’s views on ‘Israel’, simply because they are already in a state of adoration of her person. Another example involves Maikel Nabil: when progressive activists rallied for him due to his unjust incarceration by SCAF, his shocking pro-Israel views seemed to be lumped together with his anti-SCAF views under the label of ‘freedom of speech’, effectively paving the way for the perceived ‘right’ of Egyptians to view ‘Israel’ in an undeservingly positive and gruesomely distorted loving manner.
The Struggle Goes on
The true and original struggle of the Palestinians is a struggle against Zionism, and this is entirely incompatible with the views mentioned above. Normalization must therefore be opposed, vocally, directly, loudly and clearly. There is definitely a need for increased activity on this front, since anti-normalization and BDS do not enjoy the support of mass media, unlike the voices of normalization.
If this means that these voices need to be confronted even on a personal level, then so be it. It may not be a pleasant thing to do, and some might argue that it distracts from calling attention to the continuing atrocities that the Zionist state is inflicting on a daily basis upon the defenseless Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. However, as has been argued in the article “Anti-normalization: an necessary part of BDS campaigning”, calling attention to these injustices will remain highly ineffective if the public is simultaneously exposed by mass media to Arab voices that aim to paint a misleading image of ‘Israel’ as if it were a beacon of civilization, and a saviour for mankind.
In other words: if you value BDS and wish it to be effective, and if you believe in opposing the racist ideology of Zionism, one of your tasks is also to confront those who suck up to power for their own personal gain. And since their number is increasing, it looks like you have work to do.
– Tariq Shadid is a Palestinian surgeon living in the Middle East, and has written numerous essays about the Palestinian issue over the years. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.
(palestinechronicle.com / 30.03.2012)