- Written by Abby Smardon Abby Smardon
- Published: 06 November 2017 06 November 2017
I’ve visited the Gaza Strip for each of the past six years, including in 2014 a few months after Israel’s devastating military assault. And yet, I’ve never seen Gaza like I did when I had the privilege of visiting this summer.
I call it a privilege because, due to the blockade of Gaza imposed by Israel (with the support of Egypt), which is part of Israel’s now 50-year-old military rule over Palestinians in the occupied territories, internationals allowed in and out of Gaza are few, and Palestinians even fewer. This illegal land, air, and sea blockade, which has just entered its tenth year and amounts to collective punishment, as has been noted by the UN and human rights groups, has decimated the economy of Gaza and allowed for the near complete destruction of critical infrastructure. Experts use the term “de-development” to describe this once-bustling Mediterranean coastal enclave of two million Palestinians.
Nearly half the population are now unemployed and 80% rely on humanitarian assistance from organizations like UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. Nearly one million refugees require UNRWA food assistance now, up from 80,000 people in 2000, before the blockade was in place. At its heart, UNRWA is a human development agency, running the largest and one of the best performing public school system in the entire Middle East, 10 times the size of DC Public Schools. But due to decades of Israel’s dispossession, occupation, and systematic oppression of Palestinians, UNRWA is forced to prioritize emergency interventions like food assistance and emergency protection. It’s an affront to humanity.
- Written by Yotam Berger Yotam Berger
- Published: 29 August 2017 29 August 2017
'We will deepen our roots, build, strengthen and settle,' Netanyahu tells settlers at event marking 50 years to Israel's occupation of the West Bank
"We are here to stay, forever," the prime minister said at an event in the settlement of Barkan, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Israel's occupation of the West Bank.
"There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the land of Israel. It has been proven that it does not help peace," he said. "We've uprooted settlements. What did we get? We received missiles. It will not happen anymore.
- Written by Gilbert Schramm Gilbert Schramm
- Published: 26 August 2017 26 August 2017
In the wake of Charlottesville, Americans have been forced to confront racism. Sadly, the debate has quickly shifted focus from the killing of a young peace activist—Heather Heyer, to the rather symbolic issue of the many confederate statues around the nation. The white supremacist demonstration that led to her death was focused on the planned removal of one of these monuments to, and symbols of, America’s racist past.
Symbols are powerful things. I applaud the effort to remove these symbols of racism. It is a real tragedy, however, that this focus has taken precedence over opposition to the real thing—the real institutionalized structures that maintain racism in this country—and elsewhere. It seems to me that our law enforcement agencies are not focused on rolling up the racist criminal elements that committed the terrorist act that left Heather dead.
Make no mistake about this: the white supremacist organizers of the original rally in Charlottesville are preaching a kind of “Jihad” just as much as Islamist terrorist groups like ISIS are. Their stated objective is to start a race war to “cleanse” America of “foreign” elements. Previous terrorist acts like those in Orlando and San Bernardino were “lone wolf” attacks. There was no crowd of supporters preaching an Islamist jihad anywhere nearby. But if there had been, there would surely have been an effort to roll them up, arrest them, and try them as accomplices. Instead of taking similar actions against white supremacists in Charlottesville, there has been an immediate deflection to the issue of statues. Trump’s pardon of the racist Sherriff Joe Arpaio emphasizes the depth of the problem. All this is deeply disturbing.
President Trump’s actions have rightly shaken the nation. In one of the many incredibly racist tweets that composed his overall reaction, he noted the ‘importance of learning from history.’ Ironically, he then tweeted a false narrative about General Pershing’s behavior during the Moro War in the Philippines at the turn of the last century. This story has been thoroughly debunked (as is so often the case with Trump’s ideas about history).
In Trump’s lurid fiction, bullets were dipped in pig’s blood and then used to execute 49 out of 50 Muslim Moro people engaged in resisting US occupation. The lone survivor was allegedly sent home to take the message of the massacre back to his people. The result, according to Trump, was 25 (or in a later retelling 35) years of “peace.”
The story has been thoroughly debunked—though it must be noted that the behavior of the US troops in the Moro War was appalling in the extreme. But it is highly indicative of the present problem. It is relevant because it reveals Trump’s mindset—a mindset where horrific brutality leads to a cessation of resistance.
‘We came to school and found the school destroyed’: Israeli forces demolish West Bank school hours before children’s first day
- Written by Sheren Khalel Sheren Khalel
- Published: 24 August 2017 24 August 2017
BETHLEHEM, West Bank — Israeli military jeeps came barreling down towards Jubbet al-Dhib’s first and only primary school late Tuesday night, terrifying locals who had been finishing preparations for the school’s grand opening set for the next morning. Soldiers shot tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets as they cleared the way for bulldozers and flatbed trucks brought in to take the school.
The school, located between four Palestinian villages on the outskirts of Bethlehem, was built with caravans on a concrete foundation by local authorities and international NGOs partnered with the European Union, hoping to mitigate the myriad of challenges facing students in the area.
Israeli soldiers quickly cleared the area with crowd control weapons, and within an hour of the soldier’s arrival the caravans had been loaded up and taken away along with the tables, desks, construction equipment and everything else other than the concrete foundation, bathrooms and tiny chairs brought for the seven-to-nine-year-olds that were expected to attend their first day of school the next morning.