The Israeli Police State

Last night, a couple dozens of Border Police and city police raided a closed cafe is South Tel Aviv, where one of the owners and an employee were closing down the kitchen and register. Police forced their way into the business, and attacked and manhandled the proprietor, Orly Chen. Both of the women were arrested. The barrista was released this morning, Chen is still in interrogation.

OrlyChenArrestCafe Alby

Apparently, a city inspector reported that Alby, the cafe, was open (though it was clearly locked) because a group of “Women in Yellow” (a grassroots group that has organized to patrol the increasingly violent streets of South Tel Aviv, which the police generally avoid and have become particularly dangerous to women) had wrapped up their patrol in front of the closed cafe.

Women In Yellow

One of the founders of the Women in Yellow is activist Ortal Ben Dayan. And this is where the story begins to make sense: About 1-2 weeks ago, Ben Dayan confronted a Border Police officer who was being verbally abusive to a Palestinian family sitting at the cafe. The officer proceeded to verbally abuse Ben Dayan, and demanded she provide identification. Under Israeli law, citizens have the right to refuse to identify themselves unless they are being detained under suspicion of a crime (and I believe they need to be informed what the crime is). Ben Dayan was clearly not under suspicion, and had no need to identify. The police officer then placed her under arrest, claiming she had “offended a public official”. After a night in jail and some legal ludicrousness, Ben Dayan was found to not be in violation of any law and was released. The officer who arrested her, on the other hand, was surprisingly not let off so easily – after extremely racist statements were found on his Facebook profile, he was dismissed from service.

Read more here – http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.541537

(I don’t like to link to Ha’aretz, which is a supposedly progressive newspaper that supports rapists, and has recently launched a pornographic ad campaign objectifying women, and also gates their content to paid subscribers – but I’m making an exception here since it is difficult to find reports on these things in English. Hopefully, you’ll reach the non-paid content.)

So, going back to the raid on Alby: If for the sake of argument we accept the inspector’s assertion that the cafe was open – why did an entire caravan of police cars and a couple dozen police show up? Why did the BORDER POLICE rather than the city police take the lead on the situation? This was clearly not a run-of-the-mill business infraction situation. It appears that the association between Alby and the incident with Ben Dayan made it a target (the cafe is a regular hangout for queer and political activist groups, and Ben Dayan runs her own vintage shop next door).

But clearly even the original assertion is completely fabricated. When police arrived the business was locked up, and they threatened Chen that if she did not open up, they would break the glass storefront.

Here are two videos showing the police conduct (including where an officer clearly goes to where Chen is standing behind the counter and grabs her. He apparently claimed she attacked him). The whole time Chen is asking – what am I being arrested for? and receiving no answer. At one point as she is being pushed into the patrol car, the officer near her says “the arresting officer informed you what for”. The video is uncut from the arrest to that point – and at no time is Chen informed what the arrest is for.

See video of Chen’s arrest here:

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As I’m writing this report (Aug 27, late morning Jerusalem time), I have been informed that under a police order the cafe has been shut down for 30 days, for supposed safety violations. As you can see below, every single possible violation has been marked on the form (how likely is that?). Even though I already knew I was living in a state where there is minimal oversight of police and minimal respect for human rights, Israel likes to maintain the *appearance* of propriety, and I really didn’t know that the police could just take away a business’ right to exist with no court approval or intervention.

Update ~ noon Jerusalem time: City and Riot police arrive at Alby to harass customers and onlookers, illegally demanding they provide picture ID and leave the premises.

Update ~2pm Jerusalem time: Police are trying to remove equipment from the cafe. Activists preventing it. 

Update ~3pm Jerusalem time: Having faced resistance from the activists and customers, the Riot Police returned with a warrant to remove the business’ computer, under suspicion of “agitation”. How military dictatorship is that? Somewhat Kafkaesque? People are agitated that the business owner is being detained without charge and her business targeted for closure, which retroactively enables the police to seize the cafe’s computer for… agitation? 

Activists vowing to block them from carrying this out indefinitely. Also, a protest rally is planned this evening in front of the South Tel Aviv police station. If anyone reading this is in the vicinity of Tel Aviv please come (or at least distribute the event). 

Incidentally, Alby is one of the few queer-friendly (and queer-owned) businesses in Tel Aviv, which is virtually the only queer-friendly place in Israel. I invite anyone who is interested in exposing the true face of Israel in the face of the extreme pinkwashing of the Israeli government and allies organizations worldwide to share this and other stories. I encourage BDS activists to us this too: While for some people (like the Tom Jones representatives on Facebook) Islamophobia and therefore abuse of Palestinians may be palatable, the mindset that allows that abuse affects us all, and until we are all safe, no one is safe. And anti-BDS voices certainly use the supposed queer-friendliness of Israeli authorities as a (very poor) counter argument to Palestinian solidarity.

The police closure order on Alby:

Copies of the licenses supposedly lacking: 

Electrical Inspection

Business License

Gas Inspection

Some other famous instances of police brutality :

Where All Arabs Are Terrorists

Trigger warning for extreme racism and violence. I really wish this was in English. I’ve translated parts of this below, but there are some things that no amount of translation will ever get across. This is a screenshot from a Facebook page in Hebrew, called “Death to all Terrorists”. Terrorists, apparently, are any and all Arabs.

These are responses to an image of dozens of bodies of dead Syrians in body bags. This page (and others) have been publishing various images of victims of the violence in Syria, including children. These responses are typical.

Earlier today and yesterday, I was involved in yet another discussion on BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions upon Israel, a movement calling for cultural boycotts on Israel until they comply with International law regarding treatment of Palestinians and the occupation of Palestinian people and territories). A repeated theme in this discussion is Jews (not necessarily Israelis) who post such statements as “Dear [name of musician], Israel is a peace-seeking nation, and Jews are peace-seeking people! We never start wars, we respect people, we are the victims!” and so on and so forth.

I really want to expose the true mindset in Israel. It is NOT peaceful or peace-seeking. Naftali Bennet, Israel’s Minister of Commerce, recently admitted to killing an unspecified number of Arabs, for unspecified reasons, and declared that is just fine. The people in this post, are not some fringe group. These are regular Israelis, and what they have written here – translated below – are things I hear every day. Everywhere I go. Read through, if you can stomach it, and judge for yourselves.

  • Don’t worry about the children, they’d just grow up to be terrorists anyway.
  • Beautiful picture!
  • LOLOL what a pleasure! And I’m not a racist, just a [sports team] fan! Buh-bye!
  • What a waste of good body bags.
  • Here’s to more in the ditch, amen.
  • Hoping for more, and more!
  • Pour acid on them, and then burn B’Tzelem (a human rights org) along with them
  • Death to them all, happy day
  • Great to wake up to good news in the morning!
  • Only 1000… Hoping for more.
  • Not enough
  • Praise God forever!
  • Pleasure :)
  • As Naftali Bennet said, “Terrorists must be killed”. Period.
  • The creator be praised!
  • More
  • God willing, all the Arabs will die, amen.
  • More, with God’s help.
  • LOL, you all are making me laugh.
  • God willing, so it shall be, every day
  • [image, parodying Arabic phrasing] what a beautiful sight!
  • More, and more
  • I’m lighting the grill, who’s joining me? It isn’t every day 1000 whores die
  • Let’s party! Who’ll bring the sweets? I’ll bring chips.
  • Oh no, what a tragedy!…. A thousand is too few!
  • Assad is the best!
  • So much fun to see this picture! Amen that this happens again and they all die! Amen!
  • Only 1000? Can’t we add some zeros to that?
  • My son is only four, and he passed by the computer so I quickly closed the picture, but he glimpsed it and asked me, “What’s that? Rats?” LOLOL He pretty much got it right.
  • Too bad there weren’t more.
  • So wonderful, God willing we’ll see beautiful images like this every day.
  • Do the math – how many virgins required?

Now repeat this by thousands of Facebook accounts, groups, cafes, buses, homes, army bases, schools, workplaces…. This is normal Israel, when it isn’t being pinkwashed, whitewashed, propagandized, and spinned.

Palestinian women: Trapped between occupation and patriarchy

Reblogged from Random Shelling
Post: Palestinian Women: Trapped Between Occupation and Patriarchy
by 

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On a warm and bright Sunday morning, three-year-old Saqer was cuddling with his mother when she was shot several times in the head and chest. Dishevelled, tremulous, and smirched with his mother’s blood, Saqer was spotted by a neighbour pleading for help, but was unable to give utterance to what had just befallen his household. Saqer’s mother, Mona Mahajneh, had just been murdered in cold blood in front of his own eyes; the only suspect so far is his maternal uncle, whose detention has been extended in order to allow the investigation of the murder to progress.

Mahajneh, a 30-year-old mother of three from Umm al-Fahm in the Northern Triangle, is the latest martyr of domestic violence against Palestinian women in the Palestinian territories occupied by Zionist militias in 1948 (hereinafter referred to as the Green Line, Israel’s internationally-recognised armistice border). She tried to start a new life after her divorce, despite being separated from her other two children. However, in a patriarchal society, where divorced women are often dehumanised and treated like scourges and onerous burdens, Mona paid with her life for seeking independence and the freedom to choose.

Tragic Irony

Ironically, Mona was murdered only two days after a protest against killings of women under the cloak of “family honour.” On Friday, 26 April, the Committee Against Women Killings, a coalition of 20 Palestinian feminist groups, toured Palestinian villages and cities in the Green Line in two separate motorized processions. Dubbed “The Procession of Life,” the protest called for an end to the phenomenon of “honour” crimes. Two motorcades, one that took off from the Naqab in the South, and another from Kafr Manda in the lower Galilee, eventually converged for a joint protest in Kafr Qare’ near Umm al-Fahm. The processions passed through Palestinian villages in the South and the North, sending a vociferous message against violence throughout Palestine. Names of women killed by their family members, as well as placards and signs that read “No honour in honour crimes,” and “She was killed for being a woman” were raised on the cars. The impressive turnout for the protest and the media attention it attracted, however, could not prevent Mona’s murder.

This is not the first time that a Palestinian woman had been murdered shortly after a protest against gender-based violence. On 10 March of this year, Alaa Shami, 21, was stabbed to death by her brother in the northern town of Ibilline, just two days after International Women’s Day. On 7 February, 2010, Bassel Sallam fatally shot his wife, Hala Faysal, and left her to bleed in her bedroom. Hours before the murder, his father Ali Sallam, deputy mayor of Nazareth, participated in a demonstration against violence on women and gave a speech denouncing it.

Shocking Spike

Six Palestinian women have been killed in the Green Line so far this year, two more than those killed in all of 2012. Statistics provided by the Nazareth-based organisation Women Against Violence show an even more distressing picture: Since Israel ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1991, 162 Palestinian women in the Green Line have been killed by their husbands or other family members. Since 1986, 35 Palestinian women have been murdered in the towns of al-Lydd and Ramleh alone. Numbers provided by “Women Against Violence” also show that an overwhelming majority of the women killed in the Green Line are Palestinians. In 2011, for instance, 14 women were killed in the Green Line, nine of whom were Palestinians. Of the 15 women killed in 2010, ten were Palestinians. A total of eleven women were killed in 2009 and nine of them were Palestinian women. In that same year, 13 Palestinian women were killed across Gaza and the West Bank. Accurate figures about women killings in Gaza and the West Bank are harder to obtain, and not all cases are documented or covered by the Palestinian media, but by no means is the situation less disturbing than that in the Green Line.

De-Politicising Violence

A recent high-profile initiative targeting violence against women and challenging the concept of “honour” killings was the music video “If I could Go Back in Time,” released in November 2012 by the Palestinian hip hop group DAM. The moving music video, co-directed by Jackie Salloum and funded by UN Women, has drawn over 200,000 views and received positive feedback in Palestine and beyond. A major drawback of the video, though, was that it de-politicised violence against women and traded depth and intersectionality for populist drama and reductionism. As Lila Abu Lughod and Maya Mikdashi wrote in their critique of the video, “it operates in a total political, legal, and historical vacuum.”

When it comes to violence against women in the Middle East in general, and in Palestine in particular, there are two dominant and completely opposing paradigms: The first blames the violence on a backward tradition and an inherently misogynistic society, choosing to focus solely on the category of “honour” crimes, as if they represent the only form of domestic violence women are subjected to. The other paradigm, meanwhile, holds Israeli colonialism and its institutionalised discrimination responsible, claiming that one cannot expect women to be free when Palestine is under occupation. Both paradigms are obviously too simplistic and unrepresentative. They avoid asking the tough questions and ignore both the multi-layered reality and the politics of daily life that Palestinian women on the ground face.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Arab bourgeois feminist movements, including the feminist movement in the West Bank, shot themselves in the foot and chose to ally with tyrannical Arab regimes in order to promote their social rights through legislation. By standing with the authorities and power structures, they operated as a fig leaf for so-called “secular” dictatorships. Moreover, by opting for an elitist and apolitical “feminist” struggle, bourgeois feminists ignored that real social change cannot be brought about in the absence of political freedom, nor can it be achieved by groveling before a repressive system. Feminism is not just about fighting for gender equality; it is about shaking the hegemonic dynamics of power and domination. Gender subordination is a fundamental factor in this matrix of power, but it intersects with political oppression and exploitation on the basis of class, religion, ethnicity, physical ability, and related aspects of personal identity.

Despite its many structural problems and shortcomings, the feminist movement inside the Green Line, to its credit, understood early on that the personal cannot be separated from the political, precisely because the state of Israel plays an active role in marginalising Palestinian women and strengthening local patriarchal elements such as clan leaders and religious courts that oppress women. Most Palestinian feminists also never had the illusion that advancing the rights of Palestinian women can come from the Knesset, the Zionist parliament.

No Protection

It is naïve to believe that the police, a violent, militaristic, and intrinsically patriarchal organ of the state, could be genuinely committed to eradicating violence against women. It is even more naïve to think that Israeli police, a law-enforcement tool for the occupation, would be determined to abolish violence against indigenous Palestinian women unless it is under immense pressure to do so. The stories of Palestinian women who complained to the Israeli police about threats by their family members – only to be turned down by the police and later killed by their family members – are too many to recount. For instance, few months ago in Rahat, the largest Palestinian city in the Naqab, A young woman approached the social service office and reportedly informed the police that she feared for her life. Police officers reportedly told her to go back home, assuring her that she would be safe. Almost 24 hours later, she was found dead.

The latest incident occurred on 21 May, 2013: Two girls, aged three and five, were strangled to death in their home in Fura’a, an unrecognised Palestinian village in the Naqab. The girls’ mother had approached the police station in the nearby Jewish colony of Arad and said that her husband threatened to kill the girls, but her plea was ignored. These horrific events demonstrate marriage between the state – a patriarchal, masculinist entity – and the conservative patriarchal elements in the community.

The Israeli police treat domestic violence among the Palestinian minority as a “private affair” that should be left for the clan and its leaders to solve. It is much more comfortable for the police to link domestic violence against Palestinian women to “family honour” and thus absolve themselves of the responsibility to intervene under the pretext of respecting “cultural sensitivity.” Using this pretext to justify lack of enforcement of women rights stems from Israel’s racist presumption that the abuse and oppression of women are intrinsically tied to Palestinian culture and tradition. It also stems from Israel’s double standards in respecting and protecting multiculturalism.

On the one hand, Israel claims to respect the principle of multiculturalism to buttress and sustain the oppression of women. On the other hand, Israel shows little respect to multiculturalism when it comes to the recognition of minority rights: The ostensible status of Arabic as an official language is solely ink on paper; Palestinian culture, history, narrative, and political literature are intentionally snuffed out of school curricula; and collective memory is targeted through constant attempts of Israelification. In addition, the same Israeli police that evades its duty to protect women from domestic violence because it is a “family” affair is, in the end, has no such concern for “Palestinian family affairs” when its forces demolish homes and displace entire families on a regular basis in the Naqab.

Not only is protection desperately scarce in all of this, but so is accountability. The majority of cases involving violence against women are closed either for lack of evidence or lack of public interest. Although Israel, unlike many Arab states, does not have a provision in its criminal law that mitigates punishment for so-called “honor crimes,” women’s rights organisations repeatedly accuse the police of not investing enough effort in the attempts to find the killers and hold them accountable. Some of the worst cases of violence against women occur in Lydd, Ramleh and the Naqab. Those places also happen to boast some of the highest poverty and unemployment rates; they are also subjected to a targeted Israeli policy of extreme discrimination, denial of basic rights and services, and constant threats of eviction and home demolitions. Add to that the inaccessibility of the Israeli justice system for Palestinian and under-privileged women, and the social retribution that women face for approaching the police and complaining about their family members, and it should be no surprise, then, that Palestinian women do not trust the state to protect them.

Tacit Justifications

It all begins with the huge difference between the way Palestinian media covers the killing of a man and the killing of a woman: the first is often referred to as a “tragedy” while the latter is referred to as an “ambiguous incident”. When Palestinian politicians, religious leaders, and public figures are asked to speak out against women killings, they begin by blaming the police and then reiterate that violence against women is part and parcel of mounting violence in the Palestinian society in general. Indeed, hardly a day passes by without hearing of shooting or stabbing incidents involving Palestinian men in different Palestinian towns. So pervasive has violence been that almost 10,000 demonstrators flocked to the streets of Haifa – one of the largest protests in Haifa’s history – on 7 May to say enough is enough. People who conflate gender-based violence with violence in general ignore the reality that women are murdered simply for being women; they are also killed in places that are supposed to be the most secure, and by people who are supposed to be the closest and most intimate to them. It is trendy to voice condemnations and call for respecting women’s rights immediately after a woman is killed… and then to completely and utterly forget about it two days later and wait until the next killing. Women killings, under whatever euphemism, are only one manifestation of patriarchy. The root problem is much more entrenched and less spoken about.

The seasonal and rhetorical condemnation of physical violence against women by those who promote or remain silent over less visible forms of patriarchy helps explain the failure of the society as a whole to take a firm position on crimes against women, let alone prevent them. The Northen Branch of the Islamic movement, for instance, condemns physical violence against women while it rejects participation in mixed-gender political protests and segregates women in their public events. How can Talab Arar, a Knesset member for the Unified Arab List, have a moral ground to denounce violence against women when he is polygamous?

Misogyny and patriarchy are, by no means, exclusive to religious and conservative Palestinians. Many left-wing activists and politicians do not hesitate to use sexist language, give tacit justifications for sexual harassment, or claim that fighting for women rights is not a priority as long as we are under occupation. How can we ever be free, as women and Palestinians, when a protest leader and a poster boy of Palestinian popular resistance is implicated in sexual harassment and everything is done to cover-up for him? As long as Palestinian women are expected to push their demands for gender liberation to the fringe, and as long as a large chuck of the population cannot concede that women are structurally oppressed, women will continue to be killed with social and legal impunity.

A first step towards challenging the hegemonic lexicon of the local and colonial patriarchs would be to quit using the term “honour crimes,” even with quotation marks. Its very use legitimises the concept and gives the false pretence that “honour” is the real motive for the crime, when it is really only a guise to strip women of their autonomy and dignity. The second step is to speak out, for silence is complicity. Sweeping the ugly truth under the rug will not hide it; it will only make its force more brutal and intensify the cycle of violence that has literally destroyed the lives of large numbers of women over time. The third, and most important step, is not to wait for the police to protect us. Women should take up arms to protect themselves and organise street militias to combat sexual harassment.

Visualizing Occupation: Children under Israel’s legal regime

The different legal systems under which Israelis and Palestinians are tried apply to children as well. As +972 has consistently documented, Palestinian children arrested by the army are treated by the military court system as “potential terrorists.” The visual below demonstrates what would happen should two 12-year-old boys, one Israeli and one Palestinian, get arrested for fighting. One would swiftly be brought before a judge, given access to a lawyer, tried and spared jail time. The other could face two years in jail without trial. This illustration is the eighth in a series of infographics on Palestinian civilian life under occupation.

By Michal Vexler, with the cooperation of Caabu – The Council for Arab-British Understanding

See the series, Visualizing Occupation, in full here.

via Visualizing Occupation: Children under Israel’s legal regime | +972 Magazine.

West Bank village resists, week after week

Reblogged from “Waging Nonviolence”

by  | September 27, 2012

The Freedom Theatre performs in Nabi Saleh. By Bryan MacCormack.

Mohammed returned to the central square of his village in a small caravan of cars with his friends. Their horns were blaring. This wasn’t a usual night in Nabi Saleh: Half of its 500 inhabitants were already out in the square, surrounding a makeshift stage of lights and speakers. His friends dragged him out of the car and through the crowd, toward the lights. The crowd chanted “Freedom!” and then found their way into a song that declares against the jailer, “I will love the dark.” There was a play already underway, and suddenly it was about him — and, by extension, the nearly three-year-old struggle of his entire village.

That night in late September, after two weeks in an Israeli jail, Mohammed came home during a stop of the Freedom Bus. This nine-day tour through the West Bank was the work of the Freedom Theatre, based a few hours north (on a day without checkpoints) at the refugee camp in Jenin. In Nabi Saleh, to an audience of villagers and foreign supporters traveling on the bus, actors from the Freedom Theatre were doing Playback Theatre — hearing stories from people in the audience and turning them into improvised skits.

Urged into taking a microphone, Mohammed described what had happened to him, and what has happened to so many others in Nabi Saleh. Israeli soldiers raided his home in the middle of the night, tore it apart and took him away for interrogation. He was forced to remain standing for hours at a time while blindfolded and hurled with insults. As the actors reenacted Mohammed’s story, his friends shot fireworks overhead.

Mohammed, who looked to be in his early 20s, earned his detention simply by doing what people in Nabi Saleh have been doing since late 2009: demonstrating after Friday prayers, every single week, against land grabs by the nearby Israeli settlement of Halamish.

His arrest is only one of more than a hundred that villagers have suffered since the protests began, including young children. Throughout, houses have been burned, windows have been broken, furniture has been smashed. “We want to make these demonstrations stop,” an Israeli intelligence officer told Mohammed.

Bassem Tamimi is at the forefront of organizing the campaign in Nabi Saleh, his home. He is in his mid-40s, and four years of his life have been spent in Israeli jails. Israelis killed his sister and have arrested each of his children. His face is narrow, with a peppery moustache and dark wrinkles. He looks a little like George Orwell. “We decide to resist because we believe that our destiny is not to accept the occupation,” he said. Nabi Saleh’s strategy comes as a response to the experience of the Second Intifada of more than a decade ago, he says, when Israel was able to justify brutal repression by branding Palestinian armed resistance as terrorism in the international media.

“We don’t want our society to turn to violent resistance in the future,” he explained, “not because our enemy does not deserve it, but because we don’t want to hurt our issue.” Their goal is to create a model of resistance that will spread to other Palestinian communities — and it already has. “We don’t want to go to an academic workshop and talk about violence and nonviolence and Gandhi. No — don’t talk about nonviolence, do it. We’re going to do it on the ground to convince everyone.”

After Friday afternoon prayers each week, the villagers begin a march to the land confiscated from them by the nearby Israeli settlement. Together they approach the inevitable line of soldiers, who inevitably deploy a combination of tear gas, flash grenades, noxious “Skunk” spray, rubber bullets and live ammunition. Some villagers react by throwing rocks while others run. Repeat, week after week.

“They will not give us a rose because we are resisting,” Bassem Tamimi said. “We do not expect that they will welcome us, and we are not welcoming them.” A relative of his, Mustafa Tamimi, was killed last year after being hit in the face by a tear gas canister. Mustafa owned the land with a spring on it that the village had depended on and that the settlement had taken.

A Freedom Theatre actor talks with a boy in Nabi Saleh. By Bryan MacCormick.

Resistance has thus become a way of life for everyone in Nabi Saleh. A point is made of including women and children alongside men. The effects of the fight are therefore visible among villagers of all ages, both men and women: missing fingers, scars and chemical burns. “We know that women are half of our society and half of our power,” Tamimi explained. As for the children, “We want to strengthen them, to make them strong to face the enemy in the future.” One little boy, I was told, had a special talent for throwing tear gas canisters back to from where they came.

During the Freedom Theatre’s show, one women told of being arrested by Israeli soldiers while her children tried to pull her away. Another watched the actors recreate the day that she had to push her daughter out a window after soldiers fired tear gas into her house. A grandmother said that she goes to sleep early since most nights she can expect to be woken up by an Israeli raid.

Balil Tamimi — Tamimi is a common family name in town — has taken on the job of documenting the protests. He looks about Bassem’s age and wears thick bifocal glasses. After the Freedom Theatre finished its performance, clips of video taken by him and others were projected on a wall, with scenes of tear gas canons on armored vehicles and soldiers shooting their rifles. It showed the fence that villagers have made out of spent tear gas canisters.

“From the beginning we realized that the media is one of the most important things,” Balil told me. “We use it in our demonstration to reach the world, to reach people, to tell them what has happened in our village.”

Video projected on a wall in Nabi Saleh. By Bryan MacCormick.

The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem gave him a camera soon after the campaign began, and he uploads his videos to the Internet. They’ve helped attract support from international media and the European Union. Now, in many of the demonstrations, supporters from Israel and abroad stand alongside the villagers. Their target is the mentality of occupation and control, of land grabs and night raids. When that is gone, the people of Nabi Saleh might be willing to welcome their new neighbors.

“If we change our thinking, we can live together,” said Bassem Tamimi. “But they want to control our lives. Life is freedom. If you lose your freedom, you lose everything.”

At the end of the Playback rendition of Mohammed’s story, as is customary in the genre, the actors held their arms toward him with their palms facing up. The visitors on the Freedom Bus were applauding along with the villagers. The actors asked him whether what they had done was right — if they’d captured his experience or if he had anything else to add.

“I have a beautiful feeling,” Mohammed said into the microphone, which echoed his voice against the buildings of the village. “Thank you very much.”

As the Freedom Bus pulled away from Nabi Saleh and on to the maze of roads Palestinian vehicles are allowed to travel on, it passed a corner of the Halamish settlement. Behind the fences and the gate, one could see a group of settlers serenely gathered in a circle under a single streetlight. They were not soldiers with guns, nor were they innocents. It was just a momentary glimpse, and it might have seemed sentimental if it did not come at such a cost.

Facebook Campaign for Arab Women’s Rights Goes Global

The intifada, or uprising, of women in the Arab world is a campaign that truly excites me. I “made friends” with the group on Facebook via the Femina Invicta FB page a while ago, but truly became enamored of them when they kicked off their photo campaign, “I’m with the uprising of women in the Arab world because…”, which has gone viral, and includes statements from women and men from Arab countries, as well as from supporters around the world.

Femina Invicta was invited to add to the campaign, but ultimately my picture was not included, I guess because the sensitivity of my posting from occupied Palestine, a decision I completely understand and respect. My support remains unwavering.

This is what it said:

See the Facebook page here http://www.facebook.com/intifadat.almar2a

Scroll down for selected images…

And the following is an article on the page and campaign’s success via Facebook campaign for women’s rights goes global – Daily News Egypt.

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A women’s rights group has launched a social media campaign to promote women’s rights across the Arab world.

The Uprising of Women in the Arab World group launched the campaign on 1 October, encouraging Facebook and Twitter users (female and male) to upload photographs of themselves holding a sign reading “I am with the uprising of women in the Arab world because…” followed by their reason to support the cause. Since the launch of the campaign, to mark the anniversary of the launch of the group, there have been over 200 replies with more being posted each day.

The group was started in October 2011 by four female activists, Yalda Younes, Diala Haidar from Lebanon, Farah Barqawi from Palestine and Sally Zohney from Egypt. They started the group to harness the social and political progress of the Arab spring. They believe that the calls that came from across the Arab world for freedom, justice and dignity cannot be fully achieved without the inclusion of women.

The group’s slogan is, “together for free, independent and fearless women in the Arab world.” Currently the main source of contact for the group is through their Facebook page and Twitter account. They receive posts from all over the Arab world, however support has also come from as far afield as Spain, Sweden, America, Brazil and Italy.

The group has many demands including, “absolute” freedom of thought, the right to autonomy, equality with men, the abolishment of all laws violating the Universal Declaration of Human rights and protection against domestic violence.

The campaign aims to “highlight the various kinds of discrimination against women in the Arab world” and to “re-open the debate in the social media on women’s conditions.” The group hopes to create a base for feminist activism and to highlight that despite the relative success of the Arab spring in many countries, the issues facing women are still present in society.

Responses have come from both women and men, all giving different reasons for why they support the campaign. Ragheed from Syria said, “I am with the uprising of women in the Arab world because my mother, my sister, my girlfriend, my daughter are independent human beings, they are not my followers.” Assil from Palestine said, “I am with the uprising of women in the Arab world because it’s not fair that I have to be trapped at home [for] three months to prove to people that the baby in my womb is my late husband’s.”

The group’s Facebook page raises a number of issues affecting both men and women in the Arab world, including the issue of homosexuality. Mohammad from Oman posted his picture with the sign, “I am with the uprising of women in the Arab world because all the religious, social, and sexual oppression I was subject to was directed towards the female inside of me.”

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Ahlam from Palestine

I am with the uprising of women in the Arab world because it’s the woman’s right
to stay single as long as she wants and not be labeled as defective.
And because it is my right to choose the type of education and career I want
irrespective of my future role as a wife or a mother

 ~*~

Sara from Yemen

I am with the uprising of women in the Arab world because
it is allowed by law to rape me when I am a child
in the name of marriage.

 ~*~

 

Walaa from Syria

I am with the uprising of women in the Arab world because
my mother should have chosen whom to marry
instead of whom I should marry

 ~*~

Abdulkareem from Saudi Arabia

I am with the uprising of women in the Arab world because
I am 16 years old and according to the law,
I am the guardian of my widowed mother.

Revolt mother!
You are strong, you are free!

Just How Easy It Is To Give In To Institutionalized Racism

A personal anecdote, which just happened about half an hour ago.

(I think sometimes the small, everyday indicators of how wrong things are hit home more powerfully than the worst horrors we see in pictures or on the news, which are often too gruesome to truly grasp.)

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I sent a shipment to London for a trade show. Brochures, pens.

I get a message that my shipment is held up at security, with a phone number to call. I call.

The security officer asks me a series of expected questions: What is in the boxes, who packed them, were the items special order or from stock in your office, who else knows where the shipment is going… I answer.

Then she asks: Do you have any Arabs employed at your company?

I answer, no.
My stomach is knotted, because I am very unhappy that the level of discrimination against Arabs means that it is pretty obvious that we would have no Arab employees. But I am also relieved, on some level, because I need my shipment to go out, my job depends on successfully getting my projects off the ground.

She asks, do you employ any foreign workers? No.
Not even as cleaners? No.

Okay, your shipment is cleared.

Congratulations to me. I am certified to send brochures to London, all at the tiny price of apartheid.

I feel sick to my stomach.

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Emwas Remembered

Last month, I organized a remembrance action at the location of the village of Imwas, which was destroyed by the Israeli military after the 1967 war.

The story behind the action is what I think is probably most interesting — you can read the correspondence between me and Mohyeddin, a son of Imwas, in this Facebook note:

This Letter Is 20 Years Overdue

You can also see more pictures, readings, links and responses on the Facebook page I opened for the event.

Emwas Remembrance Project

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Report from the Zochrot website, the organization that helped me carry out the event:

Act of Recognition at Imwas Village

By Tsipi Erann. Photography: Paz Tsoor.
06/2012

Tsipi is waiting for you

On Saturday, May 26, 2012, a group of us went out to create an event at the location where the Palestinian village Imwas once stood.

The background to the event was personal: Twenty years ago I met in the US a Palestinian man named Mohyeddin Abdulaziz. Few months ago I wrote him a letter apologizing for my shabby treatment of him back then, and thanking him for the part he played in my own political development.

He answered me, and told me about the destruction of the village and the expulsion of its residents in 1967. He asked that if ever I found myself in the recreational park built on the location where the village once stood, that I think of him, and of peace, and of justice.
I felt that it was entirely inadequate that I think of this issue only if I happen to find myself at that location. I felt this was an excellent opportunity to connect between the personal and the political, and decided to go to where Imwas stood and make an event of it.

I turned to Zochrot for cooperation, and they offered their guide, Umar, to take us on an excursion to Imwas, and also offered to spread the word about the event.

On the day of the event, we arrived with signs, such as “Imwas is Here” and “Ethnic Cleansing Courtesy of the JNF”. We read some texts we prepared in advance, and did a photo shoot of the signs and building remnants.

Afterwards, when Umar guided us through the village, we called Mohyeddin on the phone so he could be with us as we toured his village. When we managed it, we added video to the call. In his conversations with Mohyeddin, and with the help of a map of Imwas created by Zochrot together with refugees from the village, Umar was able to discern the exact location of Mohyeddin’s home. We took a picture to commemorate the spot, even though there is no sign that a house ever stood there.

The experience of being there, understanding that there used to be a community, with houses and schools and cafes – made all the more real by the presence of a son of Imwas, who could speak with us and hear us, even if only by phone – was both exciting and upsetting.

Watching people having barbecues there, seeing the few remains of houses, looking at the lists of donors (who undoubtedly were not told the park was built upon a destroyed village)… I, at least, am changed by that day, and it is clear to me that the event is not yet over. That event will continue, whether through additional projects that grow out of the acquaintance with Imwas and Mohyeddin, or if simply because the place and its story continue to live within us. Because as long as we remember it, we have not allowed Imwas to be totally erased.

Read the letters of Tsipi and Mohyeddin and comments on facebook.

  

Highlighting Women

New Revolutionary Women post!

Phoolan Devi

Phoolan DeviKnown as India’s Bandit Queen, Phoolan Devi stole from
the rich and gave to the poor. Her story evolved from being a member of a “lower” Indian caste, being forced into marriage at the age of 11, being raped and tortured… First by her husband, then by the police, and later by upper-caste members of her village. She escaped, and took revenge upon her tormentors (she stabbed her husband and dragged him out to the village square; later, she shot dead the villagers who raped her).

She proceeded to fight the caste wars as a field revolutionary, was charged with crimes and went to jail, and later on entered politics representing the lower-caste Samajwadi Party as an MP. Hated by some, she was a hero and a legend to the many she represented.

Phoolan Devi was assassinated in 2001 by three masked men in New Delhi.

View biographic timeline

…… 

Ibtisam Mara'ana

Ibtisam Mara’ana is a Palestinian-Israeli documentary filmmaker, perhaps best-known for her film Paradise Lost, considered to be the first film to be made from the perspective of a Palestinian woman. She is the founder of Ibtisam Films, a documentary film production house.

Ibtisam Mara'ana

Mara’ana was awarded the Dalai Lama’s Unsung Heroes of Compassion award in 2009 for her social and political activism for peace and on behalf of battered women in Arabic society.

Read an intervew with Mara’ana about her mother as feminist inspiration

View an interview with Mara’ana about her work:

Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera

Kasha Jacqueline NabageseraFor Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, being an LGBT rights activist means the daily threat of violence, imprisonment, and death. In Uganda, homosexuality is punishable by long jail terms, and violence is common. Her colleague, David Kato, was murdered last year because of his activism and voice against Uganda’s discrimination.

Nabagesera is widely recognized for her fearless human rights activism as founder of the LGBT rights organization Freedom and Roam Uganda.

In 2011 Nabagesera won the Martin Ennals Human Rights Defenders Award: