Monday, January 29, 2007

ANALYSIS: Is Eilat bombing attempt to end Palestinian in-fighting? By Mohammed Mar'i

Eilat Bombing Attack left 3 Killed Israelis
Is the attack an attempt to end the fighting in Gaza or an invitation for Israel to inter it?
By Mohammed Mar'i
(Arab American Media Services. Permission granted to republish)

(Ramallah, Occupied Palestine)-- The bombing attack killed three Israelis and critically wounded two, Monday, January 29, 2007, when Mohammad Faisal al- Siksik, 21, from Shaja'iyyah in Gaza blew himself up in a bakery in the southern Israeli resort city of Eilat.

"Saraya Al Quds", the military wing of Islamic Jihad which claimed the attack with another two Palestinian groups, said in a statement that they had engineered the attack in "an attempt to focus Palestinians' attention away from killing each other".

Abu Hamza, the spokesman of Saraya Al Quds, said in a special interview said that" Saraya Al Quds is planning for an attack in the heart of the Zionist enemy since seven months, we have chosen Eilat since it is the most safe and quiet Israeli city". "Saraya Al Quds and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades planned how to enter Eilat through hard and complex procedures", he added.

In its statement, "Saraya Al Quds" said that" the attacker infiltrated Eilat from Jordan and that the attack is part of "Operation Ice Thawing" in response to ongoing Israel aggressions against Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank".

The Israeli Army Radio reported that another two persons were critically wounded in the attack. An Israeli police officer told the Radio that "This was a suicide bombing and the bomber is one of the dead. He apparently entered with a bag or explosives belt and blew himself up inside the shop". "Bread still in trays and shattered glass were scattered outside the shop as ambulance crews and police swarmed the residential street", the officer added to the Radio. Witnesses told the Radio that "body parts were strewn throughout the bakery". Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi told the Israel Radio that" the victims of the attack were likely to be local residents and not tourists" adding that" the city had not been prepared for an attack".

Early Monday morning, "Saraya Al Quds", the military wing of Islamic Jihad movement, the "Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades", the military wing of Fatah movement, and the unknown Palestinian group "Army of Believers" claimed responsibility for carrying the attack.

The Islamic Jihad praised the Eilat attack and announced that "this is a welcomed attack that emphasizes the Palestinian resistance's intent to continue the Jihad until all Palestinian lands are freed".

Fatah spokesman Ahmad Abdul Rahman in a press release condemned the attack, saying, "We are against any operation that targets civilians, Israelis or Palestinians."

Fawzi Barhoum, spokesman of Hamas, called the attack a "natural response" to Israeli Occupation Forces policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as its ongoing boycott of the Hamas-led government". He added that "So long as there is occupation, resistance is legitimate". He considered that attacks on Israel are preferable than the bloody confrontations between Palestinians saying "the right thing is for Fatah weapons to be directed toward the occupation not toward Hamas". He added that "This is a message to the world saying that the Palestinian resistance has the right to choose the time and the place for their actions."

But can the Eilat attack which is the first bombing attack since April 2006, when a Palestinian bomber blew himself up at the old central bus station in Tel Aviv, killing nine people, can it put the Palestinian "resistance" back on track to fight Israel only? Or is it an invitation for Israel to be a third party in the fighting between the rivals Fatah and Hamas taking into consideration the continued Israeli threat to enter Gaza?

(Mohammed Mar'i is a freelance Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine. He can be reached at

Sunday, January 28, 2007

NEWS: Palestinian employee salaries bolster Hamas-led government, By Mohammed Mar'i

Salaries of Palestinian Servants Bolster Hamas-led Government
By Mohammed Mar'i
(Arab American Media Services. Permission granted to republish.)

The Palestinian public sector servants received Sunday, January 28, 2007 a complete salary for the first time since the formation of Hamas-led government ten months ago. The Servants used to receive 350 US$ down payments from the European Union and internal tax revenues to secure the basic needs for their families. Although the payments didn't resolve the internal economic crisis but they relieved the pressure exerted on Palestinian Government.

Following the triumph of Hamas in January 2006 elections, international sanctions, both political and financial, were imposed on its government to oblige it to abide by Quartet's demands: government must be committed to non-violence, recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the roadmap. The Palestinian Authority relied upon the international and Arab aid to pay the salaries of its servants. In an attempt to undermine the financial siege, Hamas leaders organized tours to some Arab and Islamic countries mainly Iran to raise money for the ostracized government. The raised money failed to be transferred to the Palestinian Finance Ministry due to the U. S. led embargo on banks not to transfer money to "Hamas terrorist government".

The European Union, which is the biggest donor to the PA, initiated a mechanism of financial grants to the Palestinian civil servants, especially teachers, health workers, and poor families with a goal of undermining support for Hamas within the Palestinian society. Their predictions that Hamas's popularity would drop in the Palestinian society have proven to be wrong. Many observers today admit that they were mistaken in their earlier assessments that Haniyeh's government would collapse as a result of the local and international pressure. It seems that the political and financial sanctions imposed by the international community not only have failed to bring down the Hamas-led government, but the international aid to the Palestinians increased by nearly 10 percent following Hamas's election victory, the United Nations under-secretary general for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari told the UN Security Council on Thursday, January 25, 2007 .

He said on the anniversary of Hamas's winning 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections that "aid to Palestinians in 2006 had actually increased, despite the reassessment of donor programs and the cessation of financial transfers by Israel to the Palestinians", adding that "most of the aid was bypassing the Palestinian government". He said in a UN press release that the "total assistance to Palestinians last year - not including funds channeled to the Palestinian Authority government or Hamas by regional donors - had been $1.2 billion, which represented a nearly 10% increase over 2005," a UN press release said .

Gambari said also that "humanitarian assistance alone had doubled since 2004 and primarily took the form of food aid and cash-for-work programs". The food and cash for work programs allowed around 35000 poor Palestinian families to get a monthly allowance.

The Abbas' Office played a great role in relieving pressure on Hamas Government. The international institutions, the European Union, and even Israel which transferred $100 million to the Palestinian Authority from the Palestinian tax revenues that have been frozen since the Hamas-led government came to power in the PA, transferred their fund to Abbas' Office account to bypass the Hamas government.

The US, European countries, and Fatah leaders pledged that Hamas would not stay in power for more than three of four months due to Palestinian public pressure after discovering that Hamas will not be able to run a government isolated politically and financially. But observers see that Hamas will not make any concessions or leave governance without a pressure from the Palestinian street. With a Palestinian people taking salaries and grants from international community and Israel via Abbas, there is no need change the Hamas Government.

(Mohammed Mar'i is a freelance Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine. He can be reached at

NEWS: Palestinian polls show majority feel they are not safe, By Mohammed Mar'i

The Palestinian Internal Crisis: 86.9% of Palestinians aren't safe, 53.5% see it a civil war
By Mohammed Mar'i
(Arab American Media Services. Permission granted to republish.)

(Ramallah, Occupied Palestine)-- A recent Palestinian public opinion poll shown that the majority of Palestinian people are concerned with the deteriorated internal security and bloody confrontations between Fateh and Hamas due to the failure of forming a national unity government. Whereas ð86.9 % of respondents, of the 25th Palestinian Public Opinion Poll conducted by the Center for Opinion Polls and Survey Studies at An-Najah National University during the period from January 22-24, 2006, did not feel safe neither for themselves nor for their families and properties under the present circumstances, 53.5 % of respondents believed that Palestinians have entered in a civil war after the armed confrontations between Fateh and Hamas.

According to the Poll that included 1360 persons from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, 71.8% of respondents said that their economic situation under the current circumstances is deteriorating and 74.5 % of respondents said that the local security conditions deteriorated .

Regarding Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared intention to conduct early Presidential and Legislative elections after the wavering of the negotiations on the formation of a unity government, 52 %of respondents supported Abass' call for early Presidential and Legislative elections if no compromise is reached towards the formation of a unity Palestinian government while 517 %of respondents rejected Hamas' position in refusing conducting early Presidential and Legislative elections if no compromise is reached towards the formation of a new Palestinian government .

The Palestinians consider that a national unity government may rescue them from the current crisis whether the brutal confrontations between the rivals Fateh and Hamas or the international financial siege. 54.4 %of respondents saw that a unity government is the proper form of government that can manage Palestinian affairs, 18.1% saw that it is an independent national technocrat government, 8.1% saw that it is a Hamas government and 15.3% saw that it is a Fateh government . 23.7% of respondents supported the idea that the future government should be a government of services without having anything to do with the political affairs . 71.3 % of respondents saw that an agreement to form a national unity government, if achieved, will relieve the Palestinian People from the political and financial siege imposed on them . 16.6 %of respondents saw that the delay in the formation of a unity government is related to the disagreement on the political agenda of the government; 29.6% saw that it is related to the disagreement on the distribution of portfolios . 46 %of respondents supported the idea that the responsibilities of negotiations with Israel should be given to the PLO . 77.6% of respondents supported the reformation of the PLO so that it would include all nonmember Palestinian factions.

If early Palestinian presidential and legislative elections is conducted, 29 % of respondents said that they will vote for a Fateh candidate if new Presidential elections are conducted; 19% said they will vote for a Hamas candidate, while 29.5 % of respondents said that they will vote for Fateh candidates if new Legislative elections are conducted; 19.3% said they will vote for Hamas candidates.

Hamas recognition of Israel is an international condition to deal with a Hamas led government and to leave the financial siege. 49.5% of respondents believed that Khalid Mishal's declaration that 'Israel is a reality' is a preface to the recognition of Israel by Hamas . 40.5 % of respondents considered the proposal submitted to the Palestinian Prime Minister's Advisor Ahmed Yousif by some European countries and personalities as a "new Oslo deal ".

Concerning the attitudes of Palestinians towards methods of resistance against Israel, 56.6% of respondents supported armed operations inside Israel; while 37.4% rejected them. 64.2% of respondents supported concentrating armed operations within the borders of the 1967 occupied territories . 47.4 % of respondents rejected firing rockets at Israeli targets from the Gaza Strip . 47.1% of respondents said that firing rockets against Israeli targets from the Gaza Strip hurts the Palestinian cause; 30.1% said it serves the Palestinian cause positively . 27.2 % of respondents said the form of struggle that best serves the Palestinian cause is the armed struggle .

The poll also concentrated on the external intervention and pressure exerted on Abbas and Hamas to resolve the internal crisis. 75% of respondents said that kidnapping foreign journalists and sympathizers with Palestinians hurts the Palestinian cause . 77.3 % of respondents said that there is some outside intervention in the Palestinian decision; 6.5% said that it is an Arab intervention, 22.5% said that it is a foreign one, 68.9% said that it is both foreign and Arab, and 72.1% said that this intervention is a negative one . 9.5% of respondents believed that the last visit of US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to the Middle East achieved some progress in pushing forward the peace process and the implementation of the Road Map; 80.7% believed the contrary. 12.9% of respondents believed that the US and Israeli declarations in support of President Mahmoud Abbas reinforce the Palestinian people's trust in his policy; 50.1% believed that such declarations reduce people's trust .

(Mohammed Mar'i is a freelance Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine. He can be reached at

Saturday, January 27, 2007

NEWS?ANALYSIS: An Islamic militia claims attack on Al-Arabiya News Channel by Mohammed Mar'i

An Islamic Militia Claimed Blasting Al Arabiya News Channel in Gaza
By Mohammed Mar'i
(Arab American Media Services. Permission granted to republish.)

(Ramallah, Occupied Palestine)-- Although it isn't the first time the Palestinians hear cover names for Palestinian armed militias after blasting and violent incidents in the West Bank and Gaza , an armed group called 'Suyuf Al-Haq Al-Islamiya', which means 'The Islamic Swords of Right Group', has claimed responsibility for the explosion at Al-Arabiya news channel in Gaza City on Monday night.

The group said in a statement that this explosion came as part of its campaign "Al-Ard Al-Baida", that means 'The White Land'. It said that the campaign has been launched to make "the land of Rabat pure from infidelity and corruption". 'The land of Rabat' is an Islamic term referring to the region surrounding the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the land of historic Palestine.

The statement accused Al-Arabiya of lying, hypocrisy and infidelity over several months. In its statement, the Group accused the Channel of being the voice of the Jewish state and not an Arabic channel. It said, "The perpetrators of this explosion send a message to the channel and other channels that put themselves in the service of Zionism whose main concern is to fight Islam and Muslims."

This Group has also claimed responsibility for the bombing of several Internet cafes and stores selling popular music cassettes in the Gaza Strip, and also for threatening women who wear modern cloths and unveiled their faces in the Gaza Strip.

At the beginning of 2006, this same group threatened to blow up churches in the Palestinian territories after newspapers in Denmark published insulting cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad, and also after the Pope Benedict XVI expressed comments in a lecture at a German university that were considered insulting about Islam.

In another violation of the freedom of expression in the West Bank and Gaza, the Executive Force has said that "it will prosecute any media outlet that does not broadcast or publish neutral news and insists on publishing lying and deception, and ignores the obvious realities".

The media office of the Executive Force, which is an armed militia under the control of the Hamas Minister of Interior Said Siyam, "promised to pursue any outlet that provokes incitement against members of the Executive Force and puts their blood in danger". The office said that "whereas some local radio stations and websites say they provide the truth, and that they broadcast the news, accurately and objectively, we (the media office) find that the reality is that they are exposing allegations, thereby losing credibility in the eyes of our people."

The media office also called "the Palestinian people not to believe the so-called 'salaried mouthpieces' which do not allow other parties an opportunity to explain their points of view". It also "called the print media, radio and television to deal professionally with the statements from the Executive Force's media and to convey the facts and events in the Palestinian arena with responsibility and professionalism".

(Mohammed Mar'i is a freelance Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine. He can be reached at

Thursday, January 25, 2007

FEATURE: Dome of the Rock on Vodka Bottle in Israel, By Mohammed Mar'i

Dome of the Rock on Vodka Bottle in Israeli
By Mohammed Mar'i
(Arab American Media Services. Permission granted to republish.)

(Ramallah, Occupied Palestine)-- While the Muslims in Palestine were pleased by the arrival of the renovated pulpit (minbar in Arabic) of Salah Ad-Deen of Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, an Israeli import and export company distributed vodka bottles with pictures of the Dome of the Rock printed on.

Ahmed Al Abrah, citizen of Al Ramleh in Israel, told the Al Aqsa Establishment for Reconstructing the Islamic Holy Sites on Monday, January 22, 2007 that he has seen the photo of the Dome of the Rock on bottles of wine he bought from a cafeteria in Rahovot city in Israel a few days ago . "I went in a tour to check if this kind of vodka is being sold in other stores or cities in Israel and I found it in so many stores like in Ashdod", he said.

Al Abrah told them that he broke all the bottles with the photo except one as an evident. The Establishment said that the bottle contains a kind of vodka labeled "SOYUS-VICTAN EVREISKAYA". It is distributed by an Israeli company called "Bolonia for import and export company 2000 MD" in the Israeli city of Ashdod. The Establishment added that on the other side of the bottle it appears that it is originally manufactured in the Ukraine.

The Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine Sheikh Mohammed Hussein condemned the behavior of the Israeli company saying that "the marketing of wine bottles with a picture of the Dome of the Rock, an Islamic shrine in Jerusalem, on them is an Israeli attempt to humiliate Muslims everywhere". He said that "putting a picture of a holy shrine on a bottle of wine which is forbidden in Islam is an insult on Islamic creed and Islamic civilization." "It is a belligerence on Muslims dignity and passion", he added.

(Mohammed Mar'i is a freelance Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine. He can be reached at

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

NEWS/ANALYSIS: Palestinian journalists under attack in Gaza, By Mohamed Mar'i

Who Attacks Journalists in Palestine
By Mohammed Mar'i
(Arab American Media Services. Permission granted to republish.)

(Ramallah, Occupied Palestine)-- The Palestinian journalists in Gaza held a one-day strike in protest of the blasting attack on the Al Arabiya TV offices in Gaza, which occurred late Monday evening causing severe property damage but no injuries.

The assault came a day after the failure of the Damascus meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas politburo Khalid Mashaal in forming a unity government and days after Al Arabiya aired a report in which it was claimed that Palestinian Prime Minister and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh cursed God saying "Even if God sets conditions for us, we will reject this."

Although there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, Fatah official Maher Mikdad blamed Hamas. "This is the project of fear and terrorizing that is taking place," he said. "Hamas is the hero of that scene par excellence". Palestinian government spokesman Ghazi Hamad of Hamas denounced the bombing. "Despite the disagreement between us and Al Arabiya, we reject this method and we consider it unacceptable. I have urged the Interior Minister to find out who is responsible," he said. Reham Abdel Karim, the Al Arabiya office manager, refused to blame anyone. She said there have been many threats against staffers, and the government was informed of them. "We received a clear threat they would explode the office and kill some employees," she said, but would not name those responsible.

In the continued Palestinian internal crisis, Hamas and Fatah leaders hurl accusations that the reports of Arab news channels Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya usually biased. Hamas supporters refer to Al Arabiya channel as 'al-Ibriya', meaning 'the Hebrew', accusing the news channel of promoting American and Israeli interests in the Middle East. The Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan accused Al Jazeera news channel of being biased for Hamas, charging it as a mouthpiece for the Islamic group and the Islamic Brotherhood. Last year Fatah gunmen set fire to a number of vehicles belonging to Al-Jazeera in Ramallah to protest the station's failure to cover a Fatah rally.

Taking into consideration the increasing number of attacks on journalists and media outlets whether local or external, Palestinian or Arab it seems that the issue more than bias and the lack of objectivity. The Palestinian independent news agency Maan was threatened by Fatah official Jamal Nazzal accusing it of being biased in favor of Hamas. Many days ago unidentified gunmen set fire to two vehicles belonging to the Palestinian Media and Communication Company in Ramallah. One of them belongs to the Palestinian journalist Maher Shalabi. Several Journalists have been kidnapped in Gaza Strip last year: two FOX News journalists Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig, the AP photographer Emilio Morenatti, and AFP photographer Jaime Razuri. Moreover, several Palestinian journalists have received repeated death threats, the matter that led some of them to stop writing under their real names and others to take measures to ensure their safety.

The observer of attacks on journalists and media premises in the West Bank and Gaza Stip can conclude that the timing of such attacks usually follows the failure of calming between the rivals Fatah and Hamas. The two sides want to oblige journalists to adopt their point of view. With the absence of law that guards the freedom of expression in Palestinian Authority and the "failure" of PA security forces to arrest any of the assailants, the attacks will continue and the assailant will be "unknown" as usual.

(Mohammed Mar'i is a freelance Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine. He can be reached at

Monday, January 22, 2007

FEATURE: Love Song to Israeli checkpoints

"Katyusha" love song to protest Israeli Checkpoints in the West Bank
By Mohammed Mar'i
(Arab American Media Services. Permission granted to republish.)

(Ramallah, Occupied Palestine)-- In the second activity of the 'Thirty Days against Checkpoints Campaign' a musical band of Palestinian children (under the age of 16 years old) will perform the popular Russian folk song 'Katyusha' at Huwwara checkpoint, south the West Bank city of Nablus on Wednesday 24th January at 12 noon.

Katyusha is a Russian Soviet wartime song about a girl longing for her beloved, who is away on military service. The music was composed in 1938 by the Jew Matvei Blanter and the lyrics were written by the Russian poet Mikhail Isakovsky. It was first performed by the celebrated folk singer, Lidiya Ruslanova.

Mohammed Dwaikat, coordinator of the Palestinian Body for Dialogue, Peace, and Equality (HASM) said that "the musical group will perform (Katyusha Song) which is a Russian song such as the (Delaounh Song) in the Palestinian folklore". "This song has been used by the Jews in Europe during and after the Second World War to express their rejection of discrimination to which they were subjected in Europe in addition to used to focus on the story of the Holocaust, and in comparison to this case, the Palestinians now are in this aspect".

It is known that Nablus is most closed city in the West Bank. Since 2002 it is surrounded by 6 Israeli checkpoints. The Israeli soldiers oblige all passengers to stand in strait and long rows. They check every one, his identity card, his books' bag, and his body by electronic equipments before he allowed entering or leaving Nablus. "Each night its citizens victims to violent military raids and their lives have not been peaceful or normal for years" Dwaikat said.

Clarifying why Nablus in particular is tightly closed by Israeli soldiers, Dwaikat said that "the people of Nablus are looked upon as terrorists and treated accordingly." Other West Bank cities are also blocked by around 400 Israeli checkpoints. Despite that the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert toured several West Bank checkpoints in the West Bank last week to see firsthand that the promises he announced on December 2006 to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas about easing movement had been implemented, The Israel Occupation Forces admitted yesterday that the 44 checkpoints Olmert promised Abbass to remove "had either been removed before the political level decided on the alleviations or had been bypassed by Palestinians earlier, and a decision had been made not to rebuild them."

In its first activity to protest the Israeli checkpoints (HASM) dressed Palestinian schoolchildren in Native American costume on Sunday, 14th of January 2007 and gathered for a peaceful demonstration at Huwarra checkpoint to bring international awareness to deteriorating conditions in Nablus including collective punishment and a lack of mobility among its citizens. (HASM) has chosen the Native American dress to "call attention to the similarities between the current process of ghettoization and closure taking place in Nablus and the plight which befell the Native Americans during the early history of the United States".

(Mohammed Mar'i is a freelance Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine. He can be reached at

FEATURE: Cheap life of Palestinian laborers By Mohammed Mar'i

The Cheap Life of Palestinian Laborers
By Mohammed Mar'i
(Arab American Media Services. Permission granted to republish.)

(Ramallah, Occupied Palestine)-- Muhammad Kamal Battat went highly motivated to his work after spending the weekend with his family. He was happy to get a new job after suffering from unemployment for years. Mohammed left his West Bank city of AL Dahirryeh, south of Hebron, to Beer Shiva south of Israel, where the construction site he worked in. He left the warmness of his family to the coldness of the construction site where there is no heating just to earn some Israeli Shekels for the daily needs of his kids.

He went there without knowing the deal between the contactor and the guards. A colleague of Mohammed said that the guards made a deal with the contractor who has to pay them money in exchange for permitting the workers to sleep at the construction site. He added that a few days ago the guard threatened to kill the workers if the deal is not fulfilled. On Saturday, January 20, 2007, when the workers arrived to the site, the guard demanded the money and when they refused he shot Muhammad dead.

The tragic story of laborer Mohammed Battat, 30 years, who left six children, is not the first by Israeli guards or soldiers.

Wahib Al Deek, a plasterer was killed By Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on December 14, 2006. Al Deek worked in a renovation project in his village Kafr El Deek, south west of Nablus. He took his breakfast that day with his wife who is three months' pregnant, and later he left his kids Useid, 6, Asil, 5 and Sali, 3. Wais is six months old, to the working place which is few meters from his home. The (IOF) soldiers, who interred the place searching for stones throwers, shot Al Deek dead in front of his father accusing him of endangering the life of soldiers.

In Mohammed case it was possible for the guard to call the Israeli police to arrest laborers if he, the guard, was concerned for the security of Israel. He killed him leaving six orphans and a widow just for hundreds of Shekels. Regarding Wahib, the (IOF) soldiers were able to arrest him since the old building where he worked has only one entrance. The (IOF) soldiers were able to shot him in the leg if he was holding a rock because he was visible. It seems that the life of a Palestinian doesn't worth a moment of self restraint from Israeli security apparatus. It seems that the Israeli soldier with" light finger on trigger" can smoothly eliminate a Palestinians' life.

(Mohammed Mar'i is a freelance Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine. He can be reached at

Friday, January 19, 2007

ABC Good Morning America hires racist commentator

ABC TV, one of the most popular and usually fairest news operations in America, has announced plans to hire racist CNN Talk Show Host Glenn Beck as a commentator ont he flagship morning news program Good Mornign America.

Beck is a bigot and a racist whose shows are often filled with inaccurate information about Arabs and Muslims, and who uses hate as a means of building audience.

Here is a release from ADC on Glenn Beck's racism and suggested strategy to respond to the hiring of a bigot:

ADC Action Alert:
Urge ABC to Reconsider Hiring Glen BeckWashington, DC January 19, 2007

ABC's "Good Morning America" recently announced that Glenn Beck has been hired as a regular commentator on its program. Many of you might be aware of Beck from his CNN Headline News show or his talk-radio show, where he has consistently fueled his commentary with vitriol and falsehoods toward Arabs and Muslims.Calling his CNN Headline News show the "Fusion of Entertainment and Enlightenment," Beck has distinguished himself, not for cutting edge or insightful news, but by his almost obsessive hateful rhetoric attacking and vilifying the Arab and Muslim communities in the US. While this type of vitriol pervades talk radio, CNN Headline News has given Beck his own nightly television show, airing nightly at 7pm and replaying at 9pm and 12am EST on CNN's Headline Prime, and now he will be offering commentary for ABC's Good Morning America.Beck refers to himself, not as a journalist, but as a conservative with his own bias (comments he made on his special, "Exposed: The Extremist Agenda").

With his television and radio shows, website, Beck offers you his own biased version of just about everything.Beck has suggested that Arab and Muslim Americans are apathetic to terrorism and that if they do not take action they will be "looking through a razor wire fence at the West." You can read just a few of the blatantly prejudice statements he's made on the show at the bottom of this alert.The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the Arab American Institute (AAI), and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) sent a letter to ABC News and Good Morning America requesting that they reconsider Beck's hiring. To view the letter, see:

HOW YOU CAN HELP ABC News responded to our letter, which is promising, but we need your help in order to encourage positive action on the part of ABC News regarding this matter. See the ABC News response at:

ADC, AAI, and MPAC are asking supporters to call and email ABC News and voice their concerns about "Good Morning America's" decision to hire Glenn Beck. Included below is a sample email and contact information to call the show.

BECK IN HIS OWN WORDS* On August 10 and September 5, 2006, Beck stated that Arab and Muslim Americans are apathetic to terrorism—completely ignoring the positive contributions of the community, especially in regard to national security—and warned that Muslims "who have sat on [their] hands the whole time rather than 'lining up to shoot the bad Muslims in the head' will face dire consequences. One of those consequences being that Muslims will be "looking through a razor wire fence at the West."* On November 14, 2006, Beck interviewed then Congressman-elect Keith Ellison and asked him to "prove to me that you are not working with our enemies" simply because of Ellison's religious affiliation.* On November 15, 2006, Beck said he was surprised by an American criticizing Al Qaeda because "the man who wrote it is a Muslim."

CALL ABC NEWSPhone calls are an extremely effective tool for action. Take just a few minutes to call the ABC switchboard in New York at (212) 456-7777 and urge ABC to reconsider.

When you call ABC News, be sure to mention the following points:*If you are a GMA viewer, let them know.* Politely but firmly convey your concern that adding Beck to the GMA staff would weaken the show's journalistic integrity and jeopardize its reputation as a fair and objective news program.* State that by giving Beck such a prominent platform to spread dishonest and hurtful statements, ABC is perpetuating fear of Arab and Muslim communities and is inciting hatred toward Arab and Muslim Americans. See sample of his comments above.* Ask ABC News to reconsider its hiring of Beck.EMAIL ABC NEWSIf you are able, please supplement your emails with a phone call to ABC's switchboard. You can use the points listed above to write an email, or feel free to send the

SAMPLE EMAIL LETTERDear Mr. Westin and Good Morning America Staff,As an ABC News viewer, I am concerned by your recent decision to hire Glenn Beck.Glenn Beck has used his radio and television shows to spread false and hurtful statements about the Arab and Muslim American communities, and his dangerous language helps perpetuate fear and prejudice towards us. In light of his previous comments and on air rhetoric, I worry that he will use Good Morning America to spread this rhetoric to an even broader audience.I am also concerned that that his addition to Good Morning America will weaken the show's journalistic integrity and jeopardize its reputation as a fair and objective news program. Beck himself says he is not a journalist, calling himself, "a conservative with his own bias."I urge for you to reconsider your hiring of Glenn Beck. Thank you for your consideration.

-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee www.adc.org1732 Wisconsin Ave., NW Washington, DC 20007Tel: 202-244-2990 Fax: 202-244-7968 E-mail:

PRESS RELEASE: EEOC, safe workplaces for youth

Christine Nazer
(202) 663-4911
Ketchum PR
Michael Stern
312-228-6892 (office)
312-953-8834 (cell)
Chicago-area Companies Create Safer Workplaces for Youth
EEOC Seminar to Help Local Employers Prevent Harassment of Young Workers
CHICAGO – Jan. 17, 2007: On Monday, Jan. 22, Naomi Churchill Earp, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and area legal experts will meet with local employers at the Swissotel Chicago to discuss how to prevent discrimination and create safe workplaces for young employees.
Chair Earp is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at 9:15. The seminar, scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon, is one of many activities the EEOC conducts as part of its Youth@Work Initiative. The national outreach program, launched in 2004, is designed to both educate young people about their workplace rights and responsibilities, and help employers create positive first work experiences for young adults.
Part-time jobs during the school year and summer months have long attracted young adults to the labor force. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, an estimated three million teens work after school. This number jumps to 7.1 million during the height of summer.
"Young people make up a significant portion of the nation’s workforce, particularly in the food and retail industries," said EEOC Chair Earp. "By empowering youth to understand their workplace rights and responsibilities, and partnering with employers to promote fair and inclusive workplaces, we can help young workers become productive adult citizens."
Monday’s seminar will focus specifically on how to identify and prevent potential employment problems involving young adults. According to attorney Andrew Goldberg, partner at Laner, Muchin, Dombrow, Becker, Levin and Tominberg, Ltd., maintaining a discrimination-free work environment is a business necessity.

EEOC Seminar/Page Two
"For the employers accused of creating an unsafe workplace a lawsuit can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars," said Goldberg. "For the employees affected by the situation, it can mean much more. Both employers and the young adults they hire need an education in workplace rights and responsibilities."
Youth@Work events have proven successful for employer audiences. To date, the EEOC has held more than 1,800 Youth@Work events nationwide, reaching more than 128,000 students, education professionals, and employers. The EEOC has also entered into groundbreaking Youth@Work partnerships with the National Retail Federation, the National Restaurant Association, and the National Education Association, as well as countless local partnerships with employer organizations, community groups, and educators.
One local company that has worked with the EEOC to create a safer workplace for its young employees is Heartland Foods Corp. The company, which is one of the largest franchisees of the BURGER KING® Restaurant chain, employs 1,877 young adults in the Chicagoland area. It conducts annual compliance training, has established an employee hotline number and has created in-store materials to promote a positive work environment.
"Working at our restaurants is often a young person’s first job," said Steven Wiborg, Chief Executive Officer of Heartland Foods Corp. "These are the people on the front lines working with our customers. We want to make sure that first experience is a positive one."
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 21,762 eating and drinking establishments in the state of Illinois, which account for 8.6 percent of the state’s employment. Further information about how to create safe workplaces for young adults is available online at
About the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The EEOC is a federal agency responsible for enforcing the federal statutes which prohibit employment discrimination, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, or religion; the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits job discrimination based on the existence or perception of a disability; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibits discrimination against persons age 40 and over; and the Equal Pay Act (EPA), which prohibits wage discrimination based on sex. The EEOC’s Chicago District Office, located at 500 W. Madison Street in Chicago, enforces the anti-discrimination laws in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at

FEATURE: Palestinian's families imprisoned in Hebron, By Mohammed Mar'i

A Palestinian Family Caged in Hebron
By Mohammed Mar'i
(Arab American Media Services. Permission granted to republish.)

(Ramallah, Occupied Palestine)-- The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) and the Israeli Police prohibited Israeli Peace Now activists from interring the West Bank city of Hebron on Thursday, January 7 th, 2007 in order to protest the violence towards Palestinians on the part of settlers in the town, mainly the harassment of a Palestinian woman by the Israeli female settler Yifat Alkobi.

The Israel Radio reported Thursday that the Hebron army commander and the city's police chief had originally permitted the Peace Now demonstration, but (IOF) Central Commander Maj.-Gen. Ya'ir Naveh had decided to cancel it, saying in a statement that it was a danger to public security, peace and order in Hebron.

Despite the fact that the video of Alkobi calling a Palestinian woman of Abu Aisheh family "sharmuta" (whore) has been taken in June 2006 by B'tselem, but it gave a real image of how the Hebronites and Israeli live according to Wye River agreement that divided the city to H1 and H2 sections. The H1 section which contains the neighborhoods was allocated for the Palestinians. The H2 which contains the religious and historic places in Hebron was allocated for Israeli settlers.

The Abu- Aisheh family in Hebron has been suffering at the hands of Israeli settlers of Tel-Rumaida community for a along time now. Members of the Abu Aisheh family claimed that the quarrel was just one example of the suffering they endure on a daily basis. Tayseer Abu- Aisheh, 43, said that he had filed between 200 and 300 complaints against settlers in recent years, but the Israeli police did nothing to stop their harassment.

Abu-Aisheh and his extended family live in a two-storey house. "The cage you see in the video is where we live. When we open the door and we hear curse words or stormed by stones and eggs by them (settlers)" he said. "In this winter, they (settlers) spray us with cold water using a big fire hose located near the house", he added.

Abu- Aisheh said "hell" is not a strong enough word to describe what his family is going through. "To prevent confrontations with the settlers – we coordinate the time we leave the cage we live in with the settlers' schedule," he said. "We leave for work and school only after they do – and this result in tardiness."

According to Abu Aisheh, during the Eid al-Adha holiday a week ago he was forced to obtain special permits for his family to visit his home. "My wife's family has not visited us for the past five years because there are no permits and for fear of settler harassments," he said. Every day the Israeli Civil Administration soldiers visit the Abu Aisheh house to make certain that no strangers reside there with the family members. Recently they have been required to obtain permits to bring their sheep into the property. "The charity organizations wanted to give my father three sheep so he may raise them and earn a living, and we called the International Red Cross to coordinate their entrance (to the property), he said. "This is how life is in hell."

No doubt that the life of Abu Aisheh family is a real prison and that the video tape incident is shocking, but the big question is: Can both sides live together?

Where hatred is dominating in Hebron, coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians seems impossible. The Israeli settlers clustered around the "Cave of the Patriarchs" believe that facing the" murderous terrorists" who make up most of Hebron's Palestinians is a purchase to Prophet Abraham. The Palestinians consider that the Israeli community which consists of 600 settlers intent on ethnically cleansing the 120,000 local inhabitants. There is no potential middle-ground, no place for compromise. It is a portray of Palestinian –Israeli conflict.

(Mohammed Mar'i is a freelance Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine. He can be reached at

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

OP-ED: Palestinians welcome Halutz resignation by Mohammed Mar'i

OP-ED: Halutz to La Hague not to Home
By Mohammed Mar'i
(Arab American Media Services. Permission granted to republish.)

(Ramallah, Occupied Palestine)-- Bad news to hear that Dan Halutz, Chief of Staff of Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) just only resigned. The Palestinians who suffered from his brutal and bloody of targeted killings policy preferred to see him judged for the war crimes he committed since 2002.

Halutz who participated in the Israeli wars against Arab countries since 1968 was the first chief of staff to come from Israeli Air Force. During his tenure as Air Force Commander between 2000-2004, Halutz approved and oversaw operations that caused the death of many Palestinian civilians, including numerous children.

His appointment to chief of staff in February 2005 aroused harsh opposition amongst Israeli left-wing people and human rights organizations because Halutz said that he "slept well at night" in an interview after the targeted killing of Hamas military chief Salah Shehadeh in 2002 by dropping a one-ton bomb on his resident, even though 14 innocent women and children were killed during the attack.

Halutz also added in an interview with Ha'aretz: "If you want, despite this, to know how I feel when I release a bomb, then I'll tell you – I feel a slight hit in the plane as a result of the bomb being released. A second later it's all over, and that's it. That's what I feel." What morals are these?

Despite the fact that Halutz, who is married with three children, executed the disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, but the happy days and calm nights of freedom of Gazan families didn't live long. Under Halutz commandment, the Israeli artillery shills killed 24 of Athamneh family in Beit Hanoun. The (IOF) said in an investigation report that the shill missed its direction. Under his commandment also, the shills of Israeli Navy killed 8 of Ghalia family on Beit Lahia peach leaving Huda, whose tragic photo weeping her killed father shocked the whole world, alone.

Under his commandment the (IOF) erased hundreds of Jabalya houses leaving thousands of Jabalian families homeless in search for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and to combat weapons smuggling from Egypt.

Implementing the Israeli "war on Palestinian terror", Halutz imprisoned West Bank residents in cantons. He turned their life to hill while waiting to bass at the (IOF) checkpoints and roadblocks that close the entrances of Palestinian cities.

Halutz confiscated the most fertile Palestinian agricultural land to build the Separation Wall. He surrounded and later demolished Jericho prison to detain Ahmed Saadat, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and four other members of the group who assassinated the Israel Minster Rahavam Zeevi in a Jerusalem hotel in 2001 although the were serving their imprisonment sentence according to Palestinian law and the prison was controlled by American and British supervisors.

Whereas the wide majority of Palestinians consider their conflict with Israel exceeds Halutz, but they prefer to see him sued as a war criminal in La Hague International Court.

(Mohammed Mar'i is a freelance Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine. He can be reached at

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

FEATURE: Entry denials continue into West Bank, By Mohammed Mar'i

Foreign Nationals still denied entry to West Bank by Israel
By Mohammed Mar'i
(Arab American Media Services. Permission granted to republish)

(Ramallah, Occupied Palestine) -- Although Lana K. is an American national, and a mother of 2 children, she was denied entry on January 3rd and again on January 9th by the Israeli Occupation Forces ([IOF). Lana is married to a Palestinian and has been living with her family in Nablus for 10 years and used to renew her visa periodically. When Lana was first forced to return to Jordan, her children, carrying their Israeli-issued Palestinian residency ID's, were refused re-entry into Jordan. The children were permitted transit the Israeli-controlled Allenby Bridge and their father arrived from Nablus to take them back to Nablus. Despite the new Israeli entry procedures announced nearly 2 weeks, Lana attempted to join her family in the West Bank failed.

In a letter delivered to chief Palestinian negotiator, Dr. Saeb Erakat on December 28, 2006, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (CoGAT), Major General Yossef Mishlav states changes in Israel's policy of denying entry to foreign nationals traveling into West Bank. The letter states that entry of foreign nationals from countries that have "visa agreements with Israel" may inter the West Bank but "they required to keep military commander's consent form with his or her passport"." The letter further explains that restricted foreign nationals will be 'eligible' to apply for temporary entry into the West Bank as well as periodic visa renewals.

Fadah Ihlal Thum, is another case of suffering due to Israeli policy. She came to live in the West Bank in 2001. She is married to a local Palestinian and has a five-month-old baby. Fadah is studying at Bir Zeit University and one of Bir Zeit's best students. She is in her final year and has twice received Bir Zeit's rare and prestigious 'honor' award. She has a bright future ahead of her if she is able to complete her degree in French and English, particularly as she already fluently speaks Arabic and Portuguese.

Fadah had been renewing her visa internally as is permitted to some residents until her last renewal in September 2006 when, along with hundreds of others, she was suddenly given a 'last permit' stamp on her visa and was forced to leave her home, husband and baby in December. She went to Jordan for four days with her husband and baby. When she returned, the (IOF) allowed her husband and baby to enter while she was ordered to return to Jordan. "When my husband took the baby who was sick at the moment, and but my luggage in the returning bus I burst into tears" Fadah said. "They allowed me to enter just for seven days, and know I have to leave in order to renew my visa" she added. Fadah fears that once she leaves, Israel won't allow her re-entry.

The West Bank's Bir Zeit University also suffered from the Israeli policy. The Bir Zeit University Right to Education Campaign in a press release on 6 January 2007 said that the Israeli " policy has brought tremendous insecurity to Bir Zeit University and its financial and academic well being."

I n addition to two of Bir Zeit's faculty staff: Somida Abbas and Bahgat Taiam who are already outside and have 'denied entry' stamped in their passports, the University fears the risk of being unable to continue teaching in some fields by losing irreplaceable lecturers or about 383 students who fear deportation or prison sentences if they are caught at checkpoints.

The Arabic language and culture program is particularly at risk as it is entirely self-sufficient and dependent on their foreign students' access to the University. In the last term alone, four students were not allowed to complete their studies as they were not allowed to enter or re-enter the OPT. The program is also a major source of emergency funds for the university, which has recently come into use to cover staff salaries since the economic blockade post the 2006 elections. Since Israel's restrictions on access to Palestinian education, applications for next term's course fell by 50 percent - taking with it 50 percent of the program's income.

The Campaign for Right to Entry/Re-entry, based in Ramallah, regarded the Israeli new policy in a press conference in Ramallah "as a rare moment where the Israeli Authorities acknowledge in writing the severe humanitarian crisis brought on by Israeli policies of denying foreign nationals the right to family reunification and entry to the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)". But it considered that Mishlav's letter "leaves many questions unanswered and the crisis unresolved.

The Campaign said that "several foreign nationals with family in the oPt have been denied entry under circumstances that indicate the implementation of the newly announced procedures remains arbitrary, abusive and internationally unlawful", and that the "procedures for granting residency to foreign nationals whose life and livelihood is in the oPt remain unanswered" it added.

The Campaign also considered that the "CoGAT's" letter to Erekat "does not offer a solution to the thousands of individuals who have remained in the oPt after the expiration of their permits, fearing they would be denied re-entry. The notice also fails to indicate if foreign nationals seeking entry into occupied East Jerusalem or the Gaza Strip will be eligible to apply for temporary admission or visa extensions".

Israel is refusing to consider over 120,000 applications for family unification, forcing many families to relocate abroad. Together with many foreign nationals who have established their primary business or professional activities in the West Bank, or otherwise aspire to build their lives in the West Bank, these new procedures place them in a state of continuous uncertainty under constant threat of expulsion and exclusion.

Whereas the announced new Israeli policy regarding entry to foreign nationals traveling into the West Bank, is eligible to nationals from friend countries to Israel, the Israeli policy towards nationals from enemy-classified countries or that do not have " visa agreements with Israel", who are tens of thousands of foreigners, including 60,000 Jordanian-born women, as well as women from other Arab countries, Russia and the Ukraine is vague. Israel used to grant them a six -months permit. However, Israel stopped granting them or family unification approvals after the outbreak of the intifada.

Faruoq, from the Salfeet area has been engaged to a Palestinian relative residing in Jordan and bears its nationality. Since his fiancée hasn't a Palestinian ID, and wasn't granted a visiting permit, Farhat postponed his wedding several times. He filed an application for unification with his fiancée but was denied by Israel several times." I have been engaged sine a long time", he said. "If the situation will not change and my fiancée doesn't have a permit perhaps we will be divorced", he added.

(Mohammed Mar'i is a freelance Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine. He can be reached at

Islamic Court spares female rape assault victim from death penalty

Islamic Court in Iran Spares Teenage Girl From Death Penalty
After Canadian Namesake - Recording Artist and Former Miss World Canada Nazanin - Wages International Media Campaign to Save Her Life

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Jan. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- After initiating an international campaign to save the life of her Iranian namesake, human rights activist, Bodog Music recording artist and former Miss Canada Nazanin

Afshin-Jam received confirmation Sunday that the murder charge against
19-year-old Nazanin Fatehi has been dropped. Nazanin Afshin-Jam's relentless campaign included a petition signed by 330,000 people, countless speeches and rallies worldwide and months on the media circuit as well as support from the International Committee Against Execution, Amnesty International, Canadian members of Parliament, the European Union and the United Nations. The effort appears to have been successful and Nazanin Fatehi may be released from prison within a week.

Fatehi was sentenced to death for murder by a court in Iran after she stabbed, in self-defense, one of three men who attempted to rape her and her 15-year-old niece in a park in Karaj, a suburb of Tehran, in March 2005. She was 17 at the time. On June 1, 2006, following extensive international pressure and news coverage, the Head of Judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi, announced a stay of execution and a new trial.

During the new trial on January 10, 2007, the four judges presiding over the case found inconsistencies with the testimonies of the male witnesses and unanimously ruled out premeditated murder. No verdict was announced.

On January 14, 2007, the Iranian Court recognized the incident as an act of self-defense and commuted Nazanin's death sentence. However, the court ruled that Fatehi used excessive force while trying to defend herself and her niece from the three attackers. In accordance with that ruling, the court has asked Fatehi to pay "dieh" (blood money) to receive a pardon from the family of the deceased. Once this amount is paid, Fatehi can be released from prison.

Fatehi's lawyers, Shadi Sadr and Mr. Mostafaei, will appeal the order for payment of blood money because they contend that Fatehi only acted in

This appeal may take several months, so in the meantime arrangements may be made to have Nazanin released from prison by paying "bail" money into court. Formal documentation should be available within days, including further details and specifics including the cost of bail and blood money.

To raise the level of awareness about this particular case, Nazanin Afshin-Jam, former Miss World runner-up, hosted a compelling documentary entitled "The Tale of Two Nazanins" produced by the Calvin Ayre Foundation, which can be viewed at www.Bodog.TV. The 30 minute documentary captures emotionally charged footage of Nazanin Fatehi in a desperate call to her family by phone from death row in prison as well as candid footage of Nazanin Afshin-Jam in her struggle to bring attention to the teen girl's desperate situation, featuring supporting interviews with politicians and human rights experts.

"We are very relieved to hear that Nazanin Fatehi has been spared her life. This was a joint effort by the international community and the media to raise awareness about this particular case and about the plight of other girls who face a similar fate," Nazanin Afshin-Jam said.

"However, I strongly oppose the payment of blood money, especially in a case of self-defense. Let's hope that Nazanin's legal counsel will be able to have the blood money payment waived. In the interim, I hope that bail money can be raised as soon as possible so that Nazanin can be reunited with her family and begin to put these last two horrific years in prison behind her.

"Also, we must not forget that there are at least six other minors on death row in Iran, which violates international human rights law. I hope that this campaign has brought world wide attention to gender discrimination embedded in Sharia Law and has established a milestone for fighting future injustice."

To find out more information about the case of Nazanin Mahabad Fatehi, see

To view the documentary, visit

About Bodog Music is a division of the international digital entertainment giant With six offices worldwide, the label features a diverse and growing roster of talented musicians. Bodog Music is searching for the top unsigned band in America with "Bodog Battle of the Bands," which is taking place in 17 major markets and features more than 300 live shows. Bodog Music Founder Calvin Ayre, who is recognized as a world authority on branding in the digital entertainment industry, was featured on the cover of Forbes magazine's best-selling "Billionaires" issue in March 2006. Entertainment also includes a television production unit, an online magazine, Bodog Nation, and further properties coming soon. For more information, contact BODOG is a registered trademark of Entertainment Group.

SOURCE Bodog Music
-0- 01/16/2007
/CONTACT: Media relations of Nazanin Afshin-Jam, +1-866-591-0217,
/Web site: /
/Web site: /

Sunday, January 14, 2007

PRESS RELEASE: Open Bethlehem Project backed by British Catholoc Conference

Press release ****
Press release: 13th January 2006

British Catholic Conference reaffirms commitment to an open Bethlehem in Pilgrimage with 800 Christian Children

Theme of Pilgrimage: "Do not forbid them to come to me” as Bishops cross the Israeli-built wall into the city of ChristPhotos available on requestThe Archbishop of Liverpool Patrick Kelly led a delegation of the British Catholic Conference on a pilgrimage entitled ‘Journey to Bethlehem’ on Friday the 12th of January.

The theme of the pilgrimage were Christ’s words “Allow the little Children and do not forbid them to come to Me” (Matt 19.13-15), reflecting the state of closure in Bethlehem, the restrictions on movements of the local community and the Israeli-built wall that surrounds Bethlehem and has turned the city of Christ into a prison.

The British delegation joined the heads of the Churches of Jerusalem, world Church leaders and the local mayors in a Bethlehem city parade that gathered more than 800 Christian children from thirty parishes across Palestine: Bethlehem and its sister cities of Beit Jala and Beit Sahour, Jerusalem, Abboud, Nablus, Ramallah and elsewhere.

The procession also included Christian children from the Israeli city of Nazareth which has a large Palestinian Christian community. For many children, the pilgrimage was their first trip to Bethlehem – a city only a few miles from their home towns. Archbishop Kelly stressed his visit was part of an ongoing programme to support the Christian Church in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, reminding the congregation at an ecumenical service in the Church of the Nativity that, “The first Christmas began here in extraordinary political circumstances under Roman occupation, yet the light shone through. As Pope Paul VI said: ‘If you want peace, work for Justice’. This is why we are here today.”

Archbishop Kelly emphasized that his visit represented: “The third stage over the past month in the commitment by the Catholic Community in England and Wales to the Church in the Holy Land. The first stage was the ecumenical pilgrimage just before Christmas in which Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor took part.” The present pilgrimage follows the second stage, the filming by the BBC of a Christmas Eve Mass in Liverpool Cathedral that was dedicated to Bethlehem, both as the city of Christ and “as it is today’, which was attended by a representative of Bethlehem’s Christian community. Archbishop Patrick Kelly travelled with the newly-appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, William Kenney.

The pilgrimage ‘Journey to Bethlehem’ was organized by The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF), a nonprofit organization based in the Holy Land and the US that aims at bridging the gap between Christian communities in the world and Arab-Christians of the Holy Land. The Children marched through the streets of Bethlehem, ending with an ecumenical service at the Nativity Church where they listened to sermons by local and visiting Christian leaders under the theme of Christ’s words, “Allow the children and do not forbid them to come unto me; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to ones like these” {Matt 19. 12-15].

Speeches by the church leaders spoke about the joy of life, reflected by the children, but also spoke about the wall that separates Bethlehem from the neighbouring cities. Speakers longed for a day when such a wall should not exist in the Holy Land.Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham William Kenney said: “Peace begins with children. They are the future. Today Bethlehem feels exactly as it was 2000 years ago. The city was under occupation and Christ was born here because of the occupation. This is a very important occasion because it reminds us that children are the same everywhere and they should be allowed to be the same.”

This was the third “Journey to Bethlehem” and the aim of the pilgrimage is to keep Bethlehem open. The pilgrimage is only possible under a special relaxation of the military regulations imposed by the Israel forces that restrict the movement of the Palestinians of Palestine as well as Israeli-Palestinian citizens. The difficulties in arranging such a visit makes these events all the more important moments.

The address from George Ghattas of the HCEF stressed that this visit came in solidarity with the people of Bethlehem, through “the spirit of children who represent the future of The Christian community and the life of the living stones of the Holy Land”. The term ‘Living Stones’ refers to the communities from which Christ drew his disciples, and who remain a living community in the Holy Land. The ‘Living Stones’ are also described as a ‘Fifth Gospel’ who keep alive the language, customs, culture and a continuing tradition from Christ’s time. Archbishop Kelly said, “I think that the living stones here are important. I think that we all believe the church will be much poorer if, for instance, we have no people who spoke Aramaic, the language of Christ. They bring it all to life.”

The children represented the variety of denominations of the Holy Land: Latin Catholic, Orthodox, Copts, Syriacs (whose liturgy is in Aramiac), Lutheran, Presbyterians and Greek Catholic or ‘Malakites’, the indigenous church of Palestine and a Uniate church in full communion with Rome . The day ended at the Peace Centre on Manger Square were all church leaders joined the Peace Centre staff to distribute Christmas presents to the children.For more information or photographs please contact:

Open Bethehem. Bethlehem. Manger Square. Tel: +97222 777993. e-mail: Mobile: +44 (0) 7814937743.Or CCHP - Ms. Amani Juha Tel: + 972 2 2750093. Mobile: +972 (0) 549706461

ANALYSIS: Release of Palestinian prisoners may save their lives By Mohammed Mar'i

Release of Palestinian Prisoners may save their lives
By Mohammed Mar'i
(Arab American Media Services. Permission granted to republish.)

(Ramallah, Occupied Palestine)-- Released Palestinian prisoner Murad Ahmad Abu Sakoot, 29, died in a Jordanian hospital of a cancer he has been fighting for a long time.

Sakoot, who died on January 13 th, 2007, was sentenced by Israeli Occupation Forces to twenty five years imprisonment for accusations of membership of Al Aqsa Brigades, military wing of Fatah. Several local, Israeli, and international human rights organizations pressured Israel to release him after his right lung and part of his left lung were extirpated because of cancer, which led to a severe deterioration in his health. He was released in August 2005 after serving five years in Israeli jails. Raja Zaidat, a relative of Sakoot said that " Israel refused to release him at the beginning, doing that it was possible to treat him". "Israel put a precondition to release him: once he takes the suitable treatment, we (Israel) will arrest him. They waited until his situation deteriorated knowing that he will die in order to release him", Zaidat added.

After being released, Sakoot was admitted to the Al-Ahli hospital in Hebron for treatment. He stayed the most period in the hospital before being transferred to Jordan for more treatment.

Zaidat said that "Murad wished to die in his homeland of Bani No'aim (a town near Hebron, south of West Bank) close to his parents and friends, but it seems he will return dead and only if the Israeli authorities give their permission to bring his body back from Jordan".

The issue of Sakoot cast shadow on Palestinian prisoners file that waits a lasting peace agreement to be released from Israeli jails. The Palestinian prisoners, who are around 10500, play an important role in the Palestinians internal life or to any political negotiations with Israel.

The Palestinian prisoners who drew up and signed the prisoners' National Accord Document in May 2006 started Sunday, January 14, 2007 a day of fasting in protest against the inter-Palestinian fighting. The prisoners who signed the document which was adopted by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as a base for national dialogue, were Marwan Barghouthi representing Fatah, Abdul-khaliq An-Natshah representing Hamas, Bassam As-Sa'di representing Islamic Jihad, Ahmad Sa'adat representing the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Mustafa Badarnah representing the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). They called for unity and rejection of internal fighting and condemned every assault against Palestinian targets including assassinations, abductions, arson attacks and incitement campaigns.

From another perspective, Palestinian prisoners were upset because Israel didn't release Palestinian prisoners after the meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last December, 2006. Olmert promised to release Palestinian prisoners as good- well steps to Palestinians. Despite the fact that Israel didn't uphold any of its decisions, Palestinian prisoners hope that a prisoners exchange deal with abducted Israel soldier Gilad Shalit will free some of them to join their families, to get suitable medical treatment.

(Mohammed Mar'i is a journalist based in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine. He can be reached at

Saturday, January 13, 2007

FEATURE: Israel bans Israelis and tourists from giving Palestinian rides in territories By Mohammed Mar'i

Separation among Israelis and Palestinians even in vehicles
By Mohammed Mar'i
(Distributed by Arab American Media Services. Permission granted to republish)

(Ramallah, Occupied Palestine) -- On 19 January 2007 the Palestinians in the West Bank will add another suffering to their lives by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). Beside the Separation Wall that shatters the West Bank and more than 400 roadblocks, the (IOF) will implement the discriminatory Israeli order which prohibits Israelis and tourists from using their vehicles to transport Palestinians in the West Bank without an army permit.

Violating human rights and international law, Israel build the separation Wall, prohibited Palestinian vehicles on certain roads in the West Bank, and forbidden Israeli citizens from entering Palestinian controlled areas to separate the Palestinians from Israelis. The new (IOF) order penetrates into the private space of the vehicle to separate its passengers.

Despite the fact that the order does not apply to Palestinians who hold a permit to enter Israel or the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, to Israeli bus drivers, Israel residents carrying Palestinians who are first-degree relatives , such as a cousin or nephew, and soldiers and police officers on duty, most Palestinians will suffer. Ahmed is a taxi driver transports Palestinians from Ramallah to Qalandya checkpoint ever day. He will not be able to transport Palestinian passengers who do not meet the Israeli criteria in his taxi that bears Israeli license plates. He fears to loose his job. "If they apply the order I will not be able to meet the raising needs of my family", Ahmed said. "I hardly manage to gain some Sheqels ( Israel's currency), so how I will do when they oblige me not to transport Palestinians in my tax", he added. Qais, a resident from Qalandya and holder of Israeli identity card shares Ahmed his fears. Although he will not have problems transporting his first degree relatives, he has with others. "How I will be able to join with my friends in the West Bank? I used to travel with them to different places using my car. If the Israelis implement their order I will loose them" he said. Dr. Awad, a Palestinian citizen. He is a researcher known to international institutions concerned with internal Palestinian issues. He used to travel with foreign diplomats, foreign journalists in the West Bank using a vehicle bearing Israeli license plates. "From that date, I will not be able to travel with them. I will loose most of my monthly income" he said.

The order further aggravates the already harsh restrictions on the freedom of movement of West Bank Palestinians. For some time, Israel has restricted, completely or partially, Palestinian travel on major roads in the West Bank, which have been set aside for use of Israelis, primarily settlers. Despite these restrictions, Palestinians have been able to travel along these roads by taxi or other vehicles bearing Israeli license plates. The new order will close this "loophole" and increase the discrimination between Israelis and Palestinians on certain roads.

The order also impedes the activity of humanitarian organizations, human rights organizations, and organizations providing assistance to the local population, whose work entails transporting Palestinians inside the West Bank.

The Palestinian passenger and the Israeli driver are subject to punishment since the violation of the order is a criminal offense. The penalties prescribed in the order are also discriminatory. Whereas an Israeli who violates the order is tried in a civilian Israeli court, where he will not expect a hard punishment, the Palestinian violator is tried in an Israeli military court, where he might be sentenced up to five years in jail and loss of magnetic card given by the Israeli Intelligence Service (Shin Bet), thus preventing the person from obtaining various permits from the Israeli authorities.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) said in a press release that eight Israeli human rights groups petitioned the High Court of Justice on January 7 th, 2007 against the military order which was issued by, the commander of (IOF) in the West Bank, Major-General Yair Naveh On 19 November 2006. Besides ACRI, the petitioners are: Yesh Din-Volunteers for Human Rights, Gisha, the Public Committee against Torture in Israel, HaMoked-Center for Defense of the Individual, Machsom Watch, Physicians for Human Rights and Bimkom-Planners for Planning rights.

Attorney Michael Sfard who represents the petitioners said the order will "lead to a rift between Israelis and Palestinians who have legitimate social, political and commercial ties."

The groups considered the order reminiscent of apartheid, as it "implements an ideology of separation by creating criminal sanctions on different peoples."

Under international law, Israel must respect the human rights of all persons under its authority. These rights include the right to equality, freedom of movement, maintain family ties and social ties, engage in political activity, and the right to work and earn a livelihood. The (IOF) ignore the discriminatory nature of the order and justify it as a military necessity, for example, by restricting the number of Palestinians entering Israel in Israeli vehicles without a permit.

(Mohammed Mar'i is a journalist based in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine . He can be reached at

FEATURE: Worried about Camels, but not people, By Mohammed Mar'i

The Camel Rights in Israel
By Mohammed Mar'i
(Distributed by Arab American Media Services. Permission granted to republish.)

(Ramallah, Occupied Palestine)-- Pressured by Israeli scientists and Israel Nature and National Parks Authority (INNPPA) warning regarding the serious harm the fence could cause the desert's unique environment and landscape, Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz decided to freeze construction of the separation wall in the Judean Desert, in order to examine alternate routes for the fence from Metzudat Yehuda (Beit Yatir) to Nahal Tavor.

According to their warning, this sector of the separation wall can be replaced with electronic devices, such as advanced radar systems, cameras and other sensors to secure the area to prevent the entrance of Bedouin and Palestinians, who are causing great harm to nature and wildlife by hunting ibex and deer and destroying desert vegetation for heating purposes. "This fence cuts off several key routes that animals travel along," wrote Dr. Yossi Lashem, former general-secretary of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, in a letter to IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz Tuesday. Lashem said that if animals could not move freely, it would destroy food access for birds of prey.

Lieutenant Colonel Erez Kom from the Defense Ministry's Construction Department told the Knesset environmental lobby Tuesday that the Israel Defense Forces had planned a route that did not run through the nature reserve, Haaretz quoted him. In order to ensure the flow of water in the streams and passages for wildlife, Brigadier General Eran Ophir, who heads the separation fence project for the "IDF" said, "For large wildlife, we will establish four large passages that will be like agricultural gates that are always open".

Khalil Tafakji, the Director of the Arab Studies Society and an expert on Israeli settlement in the West Bank, said that the alternative for the separation wall in the area will be a road from Al Khan al Ahmer near Jerusalem south to Ber Sheva' in the Negev. According to Tafakji, this road will be an implementation to the Israeli military law for roads No. 50, approved by the Israeli government in 1983. This road will separate Hebron area, South of West Bank from the Dead Sea. Besides, Tafakji said that the (INNPPA) will not oppose the construction of the road since it will not block the movement of animals in the area.

It is amazing that Peretz concerned with sand, eco systems and animals, worried about preserving the view! How about preserving the dignity and freedom of hundreds and thousands of ordinary Palestinians impacted by this disgusting wall?

Israel erected the Separation Wall east of 1967 borders to isolate Palestinians from Israelis for security considerations, which are mainly defense against Palestinian "terror" and preventing harm to Israeli citizens. Israel caged Palestinians in ghettos or Bantustans violating international law, UN Resolutions and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Tafakji said that Israel annexed about 90.000 dunams from the West Bank land by erecting the Wall. Most of the annexed dunams are fertile agricultural land and source of life for Palestinian farmers. It is also the source of water in the West Bank.

Behind the separation fence are thousands of personal tragedies. Who cares about farmers like who in one day lost access to his lands, which he and his fathers had worked for generations. Who cares about shepherds who were forced to sell his sheep because the fence blocked access to pasture? Who is upset that the principal of a high school like Mohammed Shahin of Ras a-Tireh, was forced to use donkeys to bring textbooks from Qalqilya since all the roads were blocked by the fence. Who cares about a doctor from Tulkarm who drives five hours every morning from his house to his job in Qalqilya, a distance of 15 kilometers, because he is forced to! This kind of occupation perhaps doesn't kill. Not right away, anyway. But it does destroy the soul.

Around 30,000 Palestinians are liable to completely lose their livelihood because their lands are on the "Israeli" side of the fence. This is the most fertile part of the West Bank with almost 40% of the agricultural land of the West Bank. In the Jenin, Tulkarm and Qalqilya districts around a quarter of the residents work in farming, more than twice the percentage in the rest of the West Bank. Around two thirds of the water sources in the West Bank are also in this area. 28 wells will be west of the fence, and it is unclear what will become of them. In short, a blow to agriculture in Jenin, Tulkarm and Qalqilya is a blow to all the Palestinians in the West Bank.

The village of Jayyous, in Qalqilya area numbers around 3,000 people. Before the ongoing Intifada, many of the men worked in Israel. Now, this is all over, and many have gone back to farming. More than half of the breadwinners in the village work the land. Or more correctly, used to. The route of the separation fence flanks the last houses of the village and 9,000 dunam of farm land, almost all of the village's lands, will remain west of the fence, in the side close to Israel.

A short walk from the outer homes of the village, not more than 200 meters, leads suddenly to the edge of a cliff. The view here is marvelous, the air fresh. Below one's feet is the coastal plain, from the Israeli city of Kfar Saba to the sea. You look a bit more and suddenly realize that this cliff, more than 100 meters high, is the work of fence builders.

The hill was cut in the middle, and the route of the fence is paved beneath it. On the eastern side, the Palestinian side, there is barbed wire, then a deep ditch, then a dirt road, then the fence itself, eight meters high, and then another dirt road, then an asphalt road, and then more barbed wire. The Israelis uprooted mountains, leveled hills and poured billions here in order to build the Wall "until the permanent borders are decided."

A look at the map of Separation Wall leads to a simple conclusion - the separation fence being built at this time basically overlaps Ex-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's map for a Palestinian state. A bit more than 40% of the West Bank split and sliced into pieces. The northern West Bank is cut off from the central and southern parts of it. The road map talked about viable Palestinian state. It's hard to see how Palestinians can live within such borders.

(Mohammed Mar'i is a journalist based in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine . He can be reached at

Friday, January 12, 2007

Press Release: CPJ condemns murder of Iraqi journalists

Committee to Protect Journalists
330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001 USA
Phone: (212) 465­1004
Fax: (212) 465­9568
Contact: Abi Wright
Telephone: (212) 465-1004 x-105

IRAQ: CPJ condemns murder of Iraqi journalist

New York, January 12, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalist issued the following statement condemning the murder of an Iraqi journalist today in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. Khudr Younis al-Obaidi, a reporter for Al-Diwan newspaper, was killed by several gunmen in a car while he was walking on the street this afternoon, The Associated Press reported. CPJ is investigating the circumstances surrounding al-Obaidi’s death.

“We condemn the murder of our colleague Khudr Younis al-Obaidi and offer our condolences to his family,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “Two Iraqi journalists have already been murdered in the first two weeks of the year, underscoring the terrible risks local journalists are facing and establishing once again that Iraq is the most dangerous assignment for journalists in the world. Authorities must do more to bring those responsible to justice, or journalists will remain vulnerable to attacks.”

At least 93 journalists and 37 media support staffers have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, making Iraq the deadliest conflict for the press in recent history.

Insurgents are responsible for the bulk of media deaths. For more details, see:

CPJ is a New York–based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit

Press Release: CPJ urges Morocco to acquit two journalists accused of denigrating Islam

Committee to Protect Journalists
330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001 USA Phone: (212) 465‑1004 Fax: (212) 465‑9568 Web: E-Mail:
Contact: Abi Wright
Telephone: (212) 465-1004 x-105

MOROCCO: CPJ calls for acquittal of two journalists charged with denigrating Islam

New York, January 12, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement expressing deep concern prior to a Casablanca court verdict expected Monday, January 15, when Driss Ksikes, the publisher and director of the weekly magazine Nichane, and reporter Sanaa al-Aji, could receive a five year prison sentence for publishing an article analyzing popular Moroccan jokes about religion, sex, and politics.

“It is astonishing that our colleagues face such severe penalties for publishing popular Moroccan jokes,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “A conviction in this case would deal yet another severe blow to Morocco’s reputation on press freedom. We hope the court will send a signal of support for the principles of a free press by exonerating these journalists and lifting the ban on Nichane.”

Ksikes and al-Aji are on trial for denigrating Islam and damaging public morality under Article 41 and 59 of the Press and Publication Law 2002. For more details, click here:

CPJ is a New York–based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit

Press Release: Salute to Justice 2007 Detroit


Friday, January 12, 2007Tel: +01.248.320.7300

An event honoring Michigan’s Distinguished Judges of Lebanese descent

(DETROIT) – The Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce announces its first annual Salute to Justice event honoring eleven distinguished Michigan judges of Lebanese-descent. The event will take place on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 6:30 pm at the Farmington Hills Manor in the northwest Detroit suburb.

“Judges serve a fundamental role in communities across America, and I don’t know of anywhere else where this many judges of Lebanese-descent currently serve on the bench,” said John Akouri, Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce Chairman & CEO. “Just this month alone, Michigan sees the investiture of two newly elected Lebanese American judges. With the Metro Detroit area’s rich cultural heritage and ethnic diversity, the Chamber is pleased to recognize their work and celebrate their achievements.”

The Judges confirmed to attend include:

United States District Court Judge George Caram Steeh
United Stateds District Court Magistrate Judge Mona Majzoub
United States Administrative Law Judge Alfred Morad (ret)
Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Henry William Saad
Macomb Circuit Court Judge David Viviano
Macomb Circuit Court Judge Tracey Yokich
Wayne 3rd Circuit Court Judge David J. Allen
Wayne 3rd Circuit Court Judge Charlene Mekled Elder
Oakland Probate Court Judge Linda Saoud Hallmark
Redford 17th District Court Judge Karen Khalil
Dearborn Heights 20th District Court Judge David Turfe



Thursday, January 11, 2007

Press Release: B'Tselem: Don't make one Hebron settler a scapegoat Jan. 11, 2006

B'Tselem: Don't make one Hebron settler into the scapegoat

The Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem calls on Israeli authorities not to make the settler, Yifat Alkoby a scapegoat for law enforcement failures in the West Bank. Alkoby was summoned for questioning following the extensive airing of a B'Tselem video in which she is seen assaulting and swearing at women and girls from the Abu-'Ayesha family, in Tel Rumeida, Hebron. The incident, as grave as it is, is only the tip of the iceberg of the daily violence committed by Hebron settlers, against their Palestinian neighbors, under the protection of the army.

The attacks in Hebron are carried out in full view of Israeli soldiers, who are unable or unwilling to stop them. The Hebron police, who have received hundreds of complaints about settler violence, are also well aware of the situation. The fact that the Defense Minister and the security establishment feign ignorance and mobilize to respond to the problem only following the public controversy generated by this video is outrageous.

The widespread settler violence in Hebron is not the result of a specific failure of one kind or another, but is the consequence of a consistent and longstanding Israeli policy to ignore harm to Palestinians, which is aimed at encouraging them to abandon parts of the city.

For additional information, please contact Sarit Michaeli, Communications Director,+972-(0)50-5387230,
Sarit MichaeliCommunications DirectorB'Tselem+972 (0)2 6735599 (office)+972 (0)50 5387230 (cell)

FEATURE: Palestinians continue protests at checkpoints By Mohammed Mar'i

Red Indians Costumes at Israeli Checkpoints
By Mohammed Mar'i
(Distributed by Arab American Media Services, permission granted to republish.)

(Ramallah, Occupied Palestine) -- The Israeli authorities have replaced the Yitzhar checkpoint in southern Nablus, just a few days after they had removed it, as part of the easing of restrictions to Palestinian life, announced by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as good-will steps to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas following their meeting in Jerusalem in December 2006.

Israel then announced that it will remove 49 roadblocks of about 400 roadblocks shattering the West Bank. Criticizing Israel's not implementing the agreed upon steps, Abbas said in a Fateh meeting in Bethlehem that "Israel do not abide by its promises". The PLO Executive Committee in its communiqué following a meeting held in Ramallah on January 8th, 2007 denounced "the situation of Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank proved that the Israeli allegations of easing of restrictions is not correct and aims for delusion".

The Israeli checkpoints used to be protested and condemned by Palestinian, Israeli, and International institutions. The humiliation of Palestinian civilians and continued closure of major cities led to several ways of protest against them.

In the West Bank city of Nablus, Schoolchildren will dress in Native American costume on Sunday, 14th of January 2007 and gather for a peaceful demonstration at Huwarra checkpoint, just south of Nablus to bring international awareness to deteriorating conditions in Nablus including collective punishment and a lack of mobility among its citizens.

A press release from the International Solidarity Movement, which is a Palestinian-led non-violent resistance movement committed to ending Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian land, said that this will be the first of four demonstrations to take place in Nablus in the Thirty Days Against Checkpoints Campaign. According to the press release, the reason for the Native American dress, in addition to expected banners and placards, is to "call attention to the similarities between the current process of ghettoization and closure taking place in Nablus and the plight which befell the Native Americans during the early history of the United States. This demonstration will serve as a call to action before the Palestinians are subjected to the same fate as the indigenous people of the US."

The Thirty Days Against Checkpoints Campaign is planned for the next three weekends in January and one in February at the Huwarra checkpoint outside Nablus, the most imprisoned of all West Bank cities. The press release says that the other demonstrations at Huwarra will include scout groups playing music, photos of scenes at checkpoints and Intifada victims, and the last will feature children launching balloons.

Palestinians who travel through the West Bank cities didn't notice any change in the (IOF)'s policy at the checkpoint. . They have horrible experience with them. They have to wait in long lines, under the burning sun or the freezing wind, alone or with their wives and kids, sick or healthy, young or old. Many Palestinian pregnant women deliver at these roadblocks, many sick Palestinian died while waiting the Israeli soldier to let him pass to the ambulance in the other side of the checkpoint or due to heart attack. Many Palestinians were beaten in the witness of their kids. Many Palestinians were obliged to sing songs, to dance, to give the Israeli soldiers cigarettes just to BASS. And other Palestinians were obliged to drink their urine just to cross the checkpoint. Israeli good-will steps no more than a mere illusion for them.

Mohammed Samaheh, a taxi driver from Salfeet area goes to Nablus every day. He said that the rainy weather did not encourage the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) to ease their inspections, but instead, they forced passengers out of their cars into the rain for "extra screening". Khalid Saleem, an employee, travels from his hometown Jenin to Ramallah almost every day. He passes Za'tara checkpoint, south of Nablus. This checkpoint controls all Palestinians who travel from the West Bank northern cities to its center or southern ones. He said that the (IOF) serving at the checkpoint stop every car or bus, force passengers out of them into the rain or freezing wind, check their identity cards in search for wanted activists, the vehicles are checked by trained dogs in search for weapons. Ayman Adam, a student at An Najjah National University in Nablus said the same notice about Huwarra checkpoint, just south of Nablus. He goes ever day from his village Kafr el Dick, south of Nablus to the university to obtain his B.A in Business Administration. He said that "the Israeli soldiers oblige all passengers to stand in strait and long rows. They check every one, his identity card, his books' bag, and his body by electronic equipments before he allowed entering or leaving Nablus through revolving doors usually used for cows". "This is a collective punishment" he added. I can't usually attend the lectures at 8 o'clock in the morning because I arrive late. He accused the (IOF) policy as "it aims to increase ignorance in the Palestinian society". Abdullsalam Al Rimawee, an employee from Beit Reema village north of Ramallah, faced similar (IOF) measures at Atarah checkpoint, north of Ramallah and the only entrance for Palestinians who reside in West Bank northern cities. He said that "a unit from the Israeli Borders Police serves in the place humiliates Palestinians of who pass through this checkpoint". "The Israeli soldiers force the Palestinian drivers to stand in long rows; the soldiers don't allow any passenger to leave the car, and we have to stay for hours to pass".

When he was asked: "As someone who is familiar with the conditions of the Palestinians in Gaza, do you feel empathy toward them?" Nissim Levy who served in the Israeli intelligence service "Shin Bet" for 20 years answered Israeli journalist Uri Blau in an interview published in Haaretz on Jan. 6th 2007, saying: "Let's forget our patriotism for a moment. If a boy in Be'er Sheva falls in love with a girl in Haifa, what does he do? He picks up the phone, makes a date and drives to see her. If a boy from Bethlehem falls in love with a girl from Nablus, what does he do? He has to cross checkpoints, he needs a 1,001 permits. The moment that you reach the conclusion that you have nothing to live for, you immediately find that you have something to die for."

(Mohammed Mar'i is a journalist based in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine and regular contributor to He can be reached at