Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Ramzy Baroud

 

UNRWA rejects US bid to remove its mandate

Head of UN agency rejects US proposal for countries hosting Palestinian refugees to take over food aid services.

The head of UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl , the United Nations agency that has supported Palestinian refugees for 7 decades, has rebuffed a US proposal to have host countries take over the services it provides across the Middle East.

The suggestion, from US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt at a UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday, that UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, should be effectively dismantled was the latest US attack on an agency that began operations in 1950.

Formerly UNRWA’s largest donor, the US cut off its roughly $300 m annual donation in 2018, deeming its fiscal practices “irredeemably flawed”, stoking tensions between the Palestinians and US President Donald Trump‘s administration.

“We need to engage with host governments to start a conversation about planning the transition of UNRWA services to host governments, or to other international or local non-governmental organisations, as appropriate,” Greenblatt said after the Security Council was briefed by UNRWA chief Pierre Krahenbuhl.

Asked at a Gaza news conference on Thursday about Greenblatt’s remarks, Krahenbuhl said UNRWA’s mandate was a matter for the entire UN General Assembly to consider, not by “one or two individual member states”.

“Therefore, Palestinian refugees should remember that the mandate is protected by the General Assembly, and of course, we will engage with member states to ensure what we hope is a safe renewal of that mandate,” Krahenbuhl said.

Strong backing in UN General Assembly

UNRWA’s mission is due to come up for renewal later this year in the General Assembly, where support for the agency has been traditionally strong and the United States would likely face an uphill battle to change or cancel its mission.

Greenblatt said UNRWA was “currently running on fumes, surviving on a surge in foreign donations in 2018”, and it was time for the international community to address the needs of Palestinians in refugee camps in a sustainable way.

He said it was time to hand over services assured by the UN agency to countries hosting Palestinian refugees and NGOs.

The logic behind US humiliation of the Palestinians

Marwan Bishara
by Marwan Bishara

Greenblatt said the US had given six billion dollars in aid to UNRWA since it was founded in 1949 “and yet, year after year, UNRWA funding fell short”. (US tax payer pay Israel $6 billion each year in direct and indirect aids and loans)

More than half of the two million Palestinians living in the besieged Gaza Strip, under Israeli blockade, receive food aid from UNRWA.

“We need to be honest about the situation. UNRWA is a band-aid and the Palestinians who use its services deserve better,” Greenblatt said.

Since Trump assumed office in 2017, Palestinians have grown concerned that he intends to bring about UNRWA’s demise.

US ally Israel says the work of UNRWA only perpetuates the plight of Palestinians.

“Year after year, Palestinians in refugee camps were not given the opportunity to build any future; they were misled and used as political pawns and commodities instead of treated as human beings,” Greenblatt told the Security Council.

Krahenbuhl however, rebuffed Greenblatt’s criticism at a conference in Gaza saying UNRWA cannot be blamed for stalled peace efforts.

OPINION

Palestine: Diary of an UNRWA kid

Ramzy Baroud
by Ramzy Baroud

“I unreservedly reject the accompanying narrative that suggests that somehow UNRWA is to blame for the continuation of the refugee-hood of Palestine refugees, of their growing numbers and their growing needs,” Krahenbuhl said in response to a question about Greenblatt’s comments.

“The fact that UNRWA still exists today is an illustration of the failure of the parties and the international community to resolve the issue politically – and one cannot deflect the attention onto a humanitarian organisation.”

UNRWA says it provides services to about five million registered Palestinian refugees across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied West Bank and Gaza, and that it safeguards and advances their rights under international law.

Most are descendants of about 700,000 Palestinians who were driven out of their homes or fled in the 1948 war that led to Israel’s creation and claim a right of return to the lands they left.

Israel has ruled out such an influx, fearing the country would lose its Jewish majority. Palestinian leaders reject settling refugees in host countries, saying their presence there should be considered temporary.

Palestinians in host countries complain of restrictions on jobs and benefits there.

Note: the current Trump administration is doing its utmost to bury the Palestinian identity and rights under an old carpet

 

Tales of torture from Israel’s prisons

As Israel prepares to worsen conditions for Palestinian prisoners, we asked six former inmates about their experiences.

by &

Palestinian boys raise up their hands with chains, during a protest to show their solidarity with hunger striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, May 4, 2017 [File: Hussein Malla/AP)
Palestinian boys raise up their hands with chains, during a protest to show their solidarity with hunger striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, May 4, 2017 [File: Hussein Malla/AP)

Earlier this month, Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan announced plans to “worsen” already horrific conditions for Palestinian prisoners in Israel’s jails.

According to the Palestinian prisoners’ rights groupAddameer, there are nearly 5,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, including 230 children and 54 women. Of that number, 481 prisoners are held without trial – under the guise of an unlawfulpractice known as “administrative detention”.

Speaking to reporters on January 2, Erdan disclosed some aspects of his plan, but a sinister context was missing from the story.

The minister said the prisoners will be denied “cooking rights“, yet failed to mention that many prisoners, especially during the first stage of their detention, are tortured and denied food altogether.

“The plan also includes preventing members of the Knesset from visiting Palestinian detainees,” Erdan added but did not mention how hundreds of Palestinian prisoners are already denied access to lawyers and family visitations on a regular basis.

There is no reason to doubt the Israeli minister’s words when he vows to worsen conditions for Palestinian prisoners. However, the horrific conditions under which thousands of Palestinians are held in Israeli jails – which itself is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention – are already at a stage that can only be described as inhumane as they fail the minimum standards set by international and humanitarian laws. 

No one is as qualified to describe Israeli prison conditions as Palestinian prisoners, who experienced every form of physical and psychological torture, and have spent years, sometimes decades, fending for their humanity every hour of every day.

We spoke to six freed prisoners, including two women and a child, who shared their stories with us, with the hope that their testimonies would help the world understand the true context of Erdan’s latest plan.

‘They killed my cat’
Wafa’ Samir Ibrahim al-Bis

I was only 16 when I decided to wear an explosive belt and blow myself up among Israeli occupation soldiers. It was all I could do to avenge Muhammad al-Durrah, the 12-year-old Palestinian child who was brutally killed by Israeli soldiers in front of television cameras in September 2000.

When I saw the footage of Muhammad huddling by his father’s side, as soldiers showered them both with bullets, I felt powerless. That poor child. But I was arrested, and those who helped me train for my mission were killed three months after my detention.

Wafa’ Samir Ibrahim al-Bis was born in the Jablaiya refugee camp in Gaza. She was 16-years-old when she was detained on May 20, 2005. She was sentenced to 12-years in prison after she was convicted of attempting to carry out a suicide mission targeting Israeli soldiers. She was released in 2011 in a prisoner swap between the Palestinian Resistance and Israel [Courtesy of Ramzy Baroud and Abdallah Aljamal]

I was tortured for years inside the Ramleh prison’s infamous Cell nine, a torture chamber they designated for people like me. I was hanged from the ceiling and beaten.

They put a black bag on my head as they beat and interrogated me for many hours and days. They released dogs and mice in my cell. I couldn’t sleep for days at a time.

They stripped me naked and left me like that for days on end. They didn’t allow me to meet with a lawyer or even receive visits from the Red Cross.

They had me sleep on an old, dirty mattress that was as hard as nails. I was in solitary confinement in Cell number nine for two years.

I felt that I was buried alive. Once they hanged me for three days nonstop. I screamed as loud as I could, but no one would untie me.

When I was in prison, I felt so lonely. Then one day, I saw a little cat walking among the rooms, so I kept throwing her food so that she would be my friend.

Eventually, she started coming inside my cell and would stay with me for hours. When the guards discovered that she was keeping me company, they slit her throat in front of me. I cried for her more than I cried for my own fate.

A few days later, I asked the guard for a cup of tea. She came back and said: “stick your hand out to grab the cup”. I did, but instead she poured boiling water on my hand, causing third-degree burns. I have scars from this incident to this day and I still need help treating my hand.

I cry for Israa’ Ja’abis, whose whole body has been burned yet she remains in an Israeli jail.

I often think of all the women prisoners I left behind.

‘No words’
Sana’a Mohammed Hussein al-Hafi

In May 2015, I wanted to visit my family living in the West Bank. I was missing them terribly as I hadn’t seen them for years. But as soon as I arrived to the Beit Hanoun (Eretz) Crossing, I was detained by Israeli soldiers.

My ordeal on that day started at about 7:30 in the morning. Soldiers searched me in such a humiliating way. They probed every part of my body. They forced me to undress completely. I stayed in that condition till midnight.

In the end, they chained my hands and feet, and blindfolded me.

I begged the officer in charge to allow me to call my family because they were still waiting on the other side of the crossing. The soldiers agreed on the condition that I use the exact phrase: “I am not coming home tonight,” and nothing more.

Sana’a Mohammed Hussein al-Hafi was born in the West Bank. She moved to the Gaza Strip after meeting her future husband. She spent 10 months in prison and a further five months under house arrest for transferring money to a ‘hostile entity (Hamas)’ [Courtesy of Ramzy Baroud and Abdallah Aljamal]

Then more soldiers arrived. They threw me in the back of a large military truck. I felt the presence of many dogs and men surrounding me. The dogs barked and the men laughed. I was so scared.

I was taken to the Ashkelon military compound, where I was searched again in the exact same degrading manner, and placed in a very small cell with a dim light. It smelled terrible. It was very cold although it was early summer. The bed was tiny and filthy. The covers too. The soldiers took all of my possessions, including my watch.

I couldn’t sleep, as I was interrogated every few hours. I would sit on a wooden chair for long periods of time to be subjected to the same routine, filled with shouting and insults and dirty language. I was kept in the Ashkelon compound for seven days. They allowed me to shower once, with very cold water.

At night, I heard voices of men and women being tortured; angry shouts in Hebrew and broken Arabic; doors slamming in a most disturbing manner.

At the end of that week, I was transferred to HaSharon prison, where I was relieved to be with other Palestinian female prisoners, some minors, some mothers like me, and some old ladies.

Every two or three days, I was taken out of my cell for more interrogation. I would leave at dawn and return around midnight. Occasionally, I was put in a large military truck with other women and taken to military court. We were either chained individually or to each other. We would wait for hours only to be told that the court session had been postponed to a later date.

In our cells, we struggled to survive under harsh conditions and medical neglect. Once an old woman prisoner collapsed. She had diabetes and was receiving no medical attention. We all started screaming and crying. Somehow, she survived.

I was in prison for ten months. When I was finally released from prison, I was put under house arrest in Jerusalem for another 5 months. I missed my family. I thought about them every hour of every day. No words can describe how harrowing that experience was, to have your freedom taken away, to live without dignity and without rights.

No words.

The day I saw my mother
Fuad Qassim al-Razam

I have experienced both psychological and physical torture in Israeli jails, which forced me to confess to things I did and didn’t do.

Fuad Qassim al-Razam was born in the Palestinian city of Jerusalem. He spent 31 years in prison for killing an Israeli soldier and an armed settler among other charges [Courtesy of Ramzy Baroud and Abdallah Aljamal]

The first phase of detention is usually the most difficult because the torture is most intense and the methods are most brutal. I was denied food and sleep and I was left hanging from the ceiling for hours.

At times I was left standing in the rain, naked, tied to a pole, with a bag on my head. I would be left in that condition the whole day, while occasionally getting punched, kicked and hit with sticks by soldiers.

I was forbidden from seeing my family for years, and when I finally was allowed to see my mother, she was dying. An ambulance brought her to Beir Al-Saba’ prison, and I was taken in my shackles to see her. She was in terrible health and could no longer speak. I remember the tubes coming out of her hands and nose. Her arms were bruised and blue from where the needles entered her frail skin.

I knew it would be the last time I would ever see her, so I read some Quran to her before they took me back to my cell. She died 20 days later. I know she was proud of me. When I was released, I was not allowed to read verses from the Quran by her grave as I was deported to Gaza immediately after the prisoner exchange in 2011.

One day I will visit her grave.

‘They burned my genitals’
Mohammed Abul-Aziz Abu Shawish

I was arrested by Israel seven times; the first time I was six-years-old. That was in 1970. Then, they accused me of throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers.

I was arrested again when I was a teenager. That time I was beaten up and an Israeli officer lit a match under my genitals. They stripped my clothes off and placed my underwear in my mouth to muffle my screams. I felt pain when I tried to use the bathroom for many days after that incident.

Mohammed Abul-Aziz Abu Shawish was born in the Nuseirat Refugee camp in Gaza in 1964. His family is originally from Barqa, a village in southern Palestine that was ethnically-cleansed in 1948. He spent 9 years in prison after being charged with possessing a weapon and being a member of the Fatah movement [Courtesy of Ramzy Baroud and Abdallah Aljamal]

My last imprisonment was the longest. I was detained on April 23, 1985, and remained in jail for 9 years to be released after the signing of the Oslo Accords.

Even in prison, our fight for our rights never ceased.

We fought through hunger strikes and they fought us back with isolation and torture. As soon as the prison administration would concede to our demands, to end our strike, they would slowly deprive us from everything we had achieved.

They would withhold food, prevent family visitations, even prevent us from meeting with our own prison mates. They often confiscated our books and other educational materials for no reason whatsoever.

When I was released on January 8, 1994, I joined the prisoner rehabilitation unit in the Labour Ministry. I tried my best to help my fellow freed prisoners. Since I retired, I wrote a book entitled: Before My Tormentor is Dead, detailing the years of my imprisonment.

I am not a trained writer, I just want the world to know of our plight.

‘They detained my family’
Shadi Farah

I was arrested on December 30, 2015, when I was only 12-years-old. I was released on November 29, 2018. At the time, I was the youngest Palestinian prisoner in Israeli jails.

Shadi Farah was arrested in his home in Jerusalem at the age of 12. He was accused of trying to kill Israeli soldiers with a knife they found at his house [Courtesy of Ramzy Baroud and Abdallah Aljamal]

My interrogation took place in the Maskoubiah prison in Jerusalem, specifically in Cell number four. After days of physical torture, sleep deprivation and severe beating, they imprisoned my whole family – my mom and dad and sisters and brothers.

They told me that my family was held captive because of me and they would only be released if I confessed to my crimes. They swore at me with profanity I cannot repeat. They threatened to do unspeakable things to my mom and sisters.

After each torture session, I would return to my cell so desperate to sleep. But then soldiers would wake me up by slapping my face, kicking me with their boots and punching me in the stomach.

I love my family, and when they used to prevent them from visiting me, it broke my heart.

‘Prisoners are heros’
Jihad Jamil Abu-Ghabn

In prison, my jailers tried to break my spirit and take away my dignity, not just through violence, but also through specific techniques meant to humiliate and demoralise me.

Jihad Jamil Abu-Ghabn spent nearly 24 years in Israeli jails for participating in the first Intifada and for being involved in the killing of an Israeli settler. He was released in 2011 [Courtesy of Ramzy Baroud and Abdallah Aljamal]

They often placed a bag with a most foul smell over my head, which led me to vomit repeatedly inside the bag. When the bag was removed, I would be left with a swollen face and a massive headache from the intermittent deprivation of oxygen.

Throughout my interrogation (which lasted for months), they had me sit on a chair with uneven legs for hours on end. I could never find a comfortable position, which left me with permanent pain in my back and neck.

At times they would introduce ‘prisoners’ to my cell, claiming to be genuine members of the Palestinian Resistance. I would later discover that these prisoners were actually collaborators who were trying to trick me into confessing. We called these collaboratorsassafir (birds).

Palestinian prisoners are heroes. No words can describe their legendary steadfastness and unfathomable sacrifices.

MORE ON ISRAELI–PALESTINIAN CONFLICT

The Other Side of the Wall

The Other Side of the Wall is my new book that recounts my experiences with the International Solidarity Movement in Palestine. It has recently been published by Cune Press and is now available at Amazon and Cune Press.

You can find a free sample from the book here.

Reviews:

Robert FantinaMiddle East Eye.

Jim Miles, Palestine Chronicle.

Ramona Wadi, Middle East Monitor.

Paul LarudeeInternational Solidarity Movement.

cropped-OSW_1563x2500@300-1.jpg

Testimonials:

  • “A brave, poignant, and invaluable exposure to the daily suffering and dangers endured by the Palestinian people living under a cruel occupation that has lasted for 50 years with no end in sight.
  • Richard Hardigan is no spectator of this ordeal, writing as one who has for some months stood shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with the Palestinians, inspired by their extraordinary resolve, resilience, and above all by their loving hospitality.  Every American should be forced to read this illuminating book!”

Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. Professor Falk has written 20 books, the latest of which is Palestine’s Horizon: Towards a Just Peace.

  • “The Other Side of the Wall is a wrenching and revealing account that can only be conveyed by someone who has lived its exasperating and at times heartbreaking details. Richard Hardigan tells the story of the occupation of Palestine with utmost integrity. It is a powerful experience that is neither intended to be ‘balanced nor neutral’ but dauntingly real and unapologetically honest. A strongly recommended read.”

– Ramzy Baroud, scholar and author of several books, the latest of which is My Father was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story.

  • “In The Other Side of the Wall, Richard Hardigan not only takes you onto the ground in occupied Palestine, but into his shoes as a member of the International Solidarity Movement operating in the West Bank to try to bring the world’s attention to the suffering the Israeli occupation regime is inflicting upon the Palestinians. As the words flow off the page, candidly laying bare the thoughts and emotions that accompanied him on his journey, you feel the fear of confronting armed Israeli soldiers at demonstrations against the occupation.
  • You feel the sense of surrealism as you watch Palestinian youths get shot and carried away, bleeding. You feel the anticipation of wanting to do something to make a difference, followed by the sense of helplessness that comes with the realization that, even if the outside world, beyond that wall, was aware of the reality of life under Israeli occupation, too few would care enough to do anything about it.
  • You struggle with the sense of guilt knowing that, in the end, you, too, will be returning to a life of relative luxury and comfort, while the Palestinians you’ve gotten to know, who’ve opened their homes to you, will remain trapped in that nightmarish existence.
  • The Other Side of the Wall is the next closest thing to doing what he has done and actually traveling into the West Bank to enter that reality for oneself. Hardigan does a tremendous job of bringing that reality to you and, in doing so, conveying the message that, for the sake of our own humanity, we must not avert our eyes and look away, but each in our own capacity join in solidarity with the oppressed.”

Jeremy Hammond, award-winning political analyst, author and founding editor of Foreign Policy Journal. His latest book is Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

  • This is an important book. As Palestine has become a human rights cause, and large segments of the land turned into virtual prisons, a call has gone out to foreigners of conscience to help Palestinians and many have responded. Richard Hardigan is one and he has written what we have been waiting for for years: a measured, you-are-there account of volunteering for the International Solidarity Movement, a vivid journal that takes us past slogans and ideologies.
  • Hardigan is a fine, mature writer. He tells us only what he saw and how he felt when he saw it, in a supreme effort to compensate those who gave him great hospitality with the only thing they sought from him in return: recognition in the eyes of the world.
  • Hardigan’s record is marked by endless imprisonments, tear gassings, shootings, but also moments of comedy and weakness that show Palestinians to be human beings very much like others in political stories that last. The moral questions that haunt Hardigan will haunt his readers. What made one group of humans do this to another group of humans? How can these people go on like this?

Philip Weiss, journalist and author. He co-edited The GoldStone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict, and he is the founder of Mondoweiss.

  • “In this informative and disturbing book, Richard Hardigan brings the reader into the stark, brutal reality of Palestinian suffering. From personal accounts of the suffering of people who quickly became close friends, to the biased reporting in the western media, the reader is brought face-to-face with the harsh truths of the Israeli occupation. A must-read for anyone wanting to be fully informed about this timely issue.”

– Robert Fantina, activist, journalist and author of numerous books. His latest is Empire, Racism and Genocide: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy.

  • “In this searing first-person account, Hardigan describes the murder, theft, desecration and destruction regularly visited on Palestinians by their Israeli tormentors with near-perfect impunity. He also chronicles systemic injustices such as the Wall that swallows land, water, and hope and a ‘justice’ system that regularly beats, incarcerates, and interrogates childen as young as twelve without due process. Any human who reads this account and is not furious enough to be spurred into action should check his or her pulse.”

– Pamela Olson, author of  Fast Times in Palestine.

  • “Following his experiences of the Tahrir Square uprising, in the summer of 2014 Richard Hardigan volunteered with the International Solidarity Movement to join in and to document the resistance to the brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine.
  • THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WALL reveals his own personal awakening to the realities of the apartheid wall, the deadly struggles in Palestinian villages, and the level of violence of Israeli forces and right wing settlers. Set in a backdrop culminating in the devastating seven week assault on Gaza, Hardigan’s voice moves from innocence to a deep seated rage as he bears witness to the brutality of Israeli policies, politicians, and the soldiers tasked with committing a long list of atrocities. 
  • In the tradition of Rachel Corrie, this book joins a growing collection of voices from the ground, calling out the endless grief and loss, and making it more difficult for anyone to say they didn’t know.”

 – Alice Rothchild, physician, author, filmmaker and social justice activist. Her films include the award-winning documentary Voices Across the Divide. Her latest book is Condition Critical: Life and Death in Israel/Palestine.

Why is the West praising Malala, but ignoring 16-year-old Palestinian girl Ahed Tamimi?

by 28 Dec 2017

Palestinian activist Ahed with her mother Nariman [Al Jazeera]

Their campaigns on empowering girls in the global South are innumerable: Girl Up, Girl Rising, G(irls)20 Summit, Because I am a Girl, Let Girls Learn, Girl Declaration.

When 15-year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by a member of Tehrik-e-Taliban, the reaction was starkly different. Gordon Brown, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, issued a petition entitled “I am Malala.” The UNESCO launched “Stand Up For Malala.

Malala was invited to meet then President Barack Obama, as well as the then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and addressed the UN General Assembly. She received numerous accolades from being named one of the 100 Most Influential People by Time magazine and Woman of the Year by Glamour magazine to being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013, and again in 2014 when she won.

State representatives such as Hillary Clinton and Julia Gillard as well as prominent journalists such as Nicholas Kristof spoke up in support of her. There is even a Malala Day!

But we see no #IamAhed or #StandUpForAhed campaigns making headlines. None of the usual feminist and rights groups or political figures has issued statements supporting her or reprimanding the Israeli state. No one has declared an Ahed Day. In fact, the US in the past has even denied her a visa for a speaking tour.

Ahed, like Malala, has a substantial history of standing up against injustices.

She has been protesting the theft of land and water by Israeli settlers. She has endured personal sacrifice, having lost an uncle and a cousin to the occupation. Her parents and brother have been arrested time and again. Her mother has been shot in the leg.

Two years ago, another video featuring her went viral – this time she was trying to protect her little brother from being taken by a soldier.

Why isn’t Ahed a beneficiary of the same international outcry as Malala? Why has the reaction to Ahed been so different?

‘Children of the stones’: the day Palestine was reborn

Ramzy Baroud
by Ramzy Baroud

There are multiple reasons for this deafening silence.

First is the widespread acceptance of Israel state-sanctioned violence as legitimate. Whereas hostile actions of non-state actors such as the Taliban or Boko Haram fighters are viewed as unlawful, similar aggression by the state is often deemed appropriate.

This not only includes overt forms of violence such as drone attacks, unlawful arrests, and police brutality, but also less obvious assaults such as the allocation of resources, including land and water.

The state of Israel justifies these actions by presenting the victims of its injustices as a threat to the functioning of the state.

Once declared a threat, the individual is easily reduced to bare life – a life without political value.

Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben has described this as a time/place sanctioned by sovereign power where laws can be suspended; this individual can therefore now be made a target of sovereign violence.

Terrorists often fall within this category. Thus, the execution of suspected terrorists through drone attacks without due judicial process ensues without much public uproar.

11-year-old Ahed cries during the funeral of her relative Rushdi Tamimi, who was shot by Israeli forces during a protest in November 2012 [Reuters/Mohamad Torokman]

The Israeli police have deployed a similar strategy here. They have argued for extending Ahed’s detention because she “poses a danger” to soldiers (state representatives) and could obstruct the functioning of the state (the investigation).

Casting unarmed Palestinians like Ahed – who was simply exercising her right to protect her family’s well-being with all the might of her 16-year-old hand – in the same light as a terrorist is unfathomable. Such framing open the way for authorizing excessive torture – Israel’s education minister Naftali Bennett, for instance, wants Ahed and her family to “finish their lives in prison.”

Ahed’s suffering also exposes the West’s selective humanitarianism, whereby only particular bodies and causes are deemed worthy of intervention.

Anthropologist Miriam Ticktin argues that while the language of morality to alleviate bodily suffering has become dominant in humanitarian agencies today, only particular kinds of suffering bodies are read as worthy of this care.This includes the exceptionally violated female body and the pathologically diseased body.

Ahed’s father Bassem Tamimi stands inside a waiting cell ahead of the verdict in his trial at Israel’s Ofer military court near the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 20, 2012 [AP/Diaa Hadid]

Such a notion of suffering normalises labouring and exploited bodies: “these are not the exception, but the rule, and hence are disqualified.”

Issues of unemployment, hunger, threat of violence, police brutality, and denigration of cultures are thus often not considered deserving of humanitarian intervention.

Such forms of suffering are seen as necessary and even inevitable. Ahed, therefore, does not fit the ideal victim-subject for transnational advocacy.

Relatedly, girls like Ahed who critique settler colonialism and articulate visions of communal care are not the empowered femininity that the West wants to valourise. She seeks justice against oppression, rather than empowerment that benefits only herself.

Her feminism is political, rather than one centred on commodities and sex.

Her girl power threatens to reveal the ugly face of settler-colonialism, and hence is marked as “dangerous”.

Her courage and fearlessness vividly render all that is wrong with this occupation.

Ahed’s plight should prompt us to interrogate our selective humanitarianism. Individuals who are victims of state violence, whose activism unveils the viciousness of power, or whose rights advocacy centres communal care, deserve to be included in our vision of justice.

Even if we don’t launch campaigns for Ahed, it is impossible for us to escape her call to witness the mass debilitation, displacement and dispossession of her people.

As Nelson Mandela said, “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Israel Cutting Palestinians Off

From Their Own Water Supply

According to an experienced reporter on Palestine, 50% of the water to a city of 40,000 people has been cut off during Ramadan, a timewhen people need to have access to food and water more than any other time.’

JERUSALEM — Apartheid Israel is limiting access to water in Palestine, a long-standing practice that’s only intensified during the holy month of Ramadan, when access to water becomes even more important than usual.

Cuts in water supply are hitting the Occupied West Bank especially hard, Al-Jazeera reported on June 23.

“Water shortages and cuts have … been reported throughout the northern Jenin and Nablus districts of the West Bank, although Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit, the Israeli body in charge of the occupied West Bank, denied water had been cut or reduced at all,” wrote Sheren Khalel. 

Saleh Afaneh, head of water and wastewater for Salfit, a city in the northern part of the West Bank, told Khalel that his community is only receiving 30 to 40 percent of its normal water allowance from Israel.

“On the first day of Ramadan, the water stopped for 24 hours, with no notice,” Afaneh said. “Since then, it has been coming in at less than half the capacity. We’ve done everything we can to try and make residents comfortable, but this is a crisis.”

Marj Henningsen shared a link.

Most Palestinians are Muslim, and during the holy month of Ramadan, they abstain from eating or drinking water from dawn until dusk.

Having access to water for drinking and food preparation during the pre-dawn and post-sunset hours is particularly crucial during the holy month, which makes the blockade especially devastating, reported Ramzy Baroud, editor of The Palestine Chronicle, in a June 17 interview with RT.

“People need to have access to food and water more than any other time because of the Iftar, because of breaking the fast and now they are being denied that access,” Baroud said.

According to Baroud, Jenin, a city of about 40,000 people, also located in the northern part of the West Bank, is down to about 50 percent of its normal water supply.

The issue of access to water in Palestine is an ongoing one, Baroud noted.

“Throughout its history of conflict with the Palestinians, Israel has done so much to ensure that Palestinians don’t have access to water — not only as a form of collective punishment, but to also ensure that the Palestinians do not develop their economy because it is reliant on between 14 to 20 percent on agriculture,” he argued.

Controlling Palestinian agriculture allows Israel to profit from both the water supply itself and the few exports it allows to reach foreign markets.

Not only have human health and agriculture suffered under the blockade, it’s also stunted the region’s traditional flower growing and many other industries.

According to Khalel, the World Health Organization recommends that every person should have access to about 100 liters of water per day for all their needs, from cooking to washing to drinking. Israelis typically receive about 240 to 300 liters per day, while Palestinians, on average, receive just 73 liters per day.

israel water

An additional 180 especially impoverished communities within the “Area C” region of the Gaza Strip are not connected to any running water, and some Palestinians spend as much as one-fifth of their salary on water.

But according to Baroud, that water isn’t Israel’s to sell in the first place.

“The tragedy of all tragedies is that the water that Israelis are holding back from Palestinians is actually Palestinian water,” he told RT.

“So, this is really important to keep in mind. Israel steals the water of the Palestinians from the West Bank aquifers, repackages and sells them the water back and now they are actually cutting them off from the very water they stole from the Palestinians in the first place.”

Watch “How difficult is Ramadan in Palestine?” from PressTV UK:

No Win-No Win’ conditions in Yemen?

Do you believe elections will be held in Yemen next February?

It is unlikely, and yet without elections, the demands for reforms that were inspired by the Yemeni revolution would become devoid of any real value.

Yemenis might find themselves back on the street, repeating the original demands that echoed in the country’s many impoverished cities, streets and at every corner.

It is not easy to navigate the convoluted circumstances that govern Yemeni politics, which seem to be in a perpetual state of crisis.

When millions of Yemenis started taking to the streets on January 27, 2011, a sense of hope prevailed that Yemen would be transformed from a country ruled by tribal elite classes, and mostly beholden to outside regional and international powers, to a country of a different type that responds to the collective aspirations of its own people.

Ramzy Baroud published this Dec. 8, 2013 on Mideast Post:

Yemen’s Future: It’s A ‘No Win-No Win’ Situation For All

After a long stalemate that pinned most of the country and its political representatives against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his supporters, Gulf countries brokered a power transfer deal. The deal however sidelined Saleh, but not his family and their proponents.

It is of little help that interim President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was elected to guide the transition for a two-year period in 2012, is no revolutionary.

He seemed sincere in his attempt to curb Saleh’s still prevailing influence over many of the country’s institutions, but that is hardly enough. Saleh’s supporters are still powerful and the former ruling class is fighting back for relevance and influence.

This results from a combination of deepening poverty and a failure to translate any of the revolution’s demands into any tangible solution that could be felt by the country’s poor and marginalized classes.

The target of Saleh’s supporters is the Conference of National Reconciliation (CNR). It convened on March 18 to explore common ground between all strands of Yemeni society, draw-up a new constitution and organize national elections.

The 565 members of the conference found out that their differences were too many to overcome. Exploiting Yemen’s political woes, tribal and sectarian divisions, the old regime used its own representatives at CNR, and sway over the media to derail the process.

In remarks before the Security Council, Jamal Benomar, the United Nations envoy to Yemen, sounded the alarm to the staged comeback. A statement of his remarks was made available to the media on Nov 28.

The statement said that there was a “well-funded, relentless and malicious media campaign” to undermine Hadi, so that he either prolongs his mandate or leaves offices. “Some elements of the former regime believe they can turn back the clock,” the envoy said. These elements have become a “persistent source of instability.”

The dialogue itself has been extended, with little evidence that anything concrete is on the way. What is even worse is that 85 delegates representing south Yemen, which until 1990 was a state of its own, decided to permanently leave the conference. The separatist movement in south Yemen has grown massively in recent months. The country is more vulnerable than ever before.

If Hadi leaves, a political vacuum could spark another power struggle. If he stays by extending his term in office, the dialogue is likely to falter even more. There can be no win-win situation, at least for now.

Considering that Benomar himself played a key role in shaping the current transitional period, his gloomy reading of the situation in Yemen is hardly encouraging.

As talks are derailed and the prospects of a compromise are at an all-time low, the Southern separatist movement Al-Hirak continues to gather steam. The movement grew increasingly more relevant following the Oct 12 rallies, when tens of thousands of Yemenis took to the streets of Eden, mostly demanding secession from the north.

What is happening in Yemen these days is in complete contrast to the collective spirit that occupied the streets of the country nearly three years ago.

In Jan 2011, a large protest took place in the Yemeni capital Sana’a demanding immediate reforms in the country’s corrupt family and clan-based politics. Within a week the rest of the country joined the initial cry for reforms.

On Feb 3, both Sana’a and Eden (Aden) stood united under one banner. It was a momentous day because both cities once served as capitals of two warring countries. The youth of Yemen were able to fleetingly bridge a gap that neither politicians nor army generals managed to close despite several agreements and years of bloody conflicts.

However, that collective triumph of the Yemeni people was only felt on the streets of the country, overwhelmed by poverty and destitution, but also compelled by hope. That sentiment was never truly translated into a clear political victory, even after Saleh was deposed in Feb 2012.

The Gulf-brokered agreement under the auspices of the UN and other international players stripped the revolution of its euphoria. It merely diverted from the massive popular movement that gripped the streets for many months, allowing politicians, representatives of tribes and other powerful elites to use the NDC to simply achieve its own interests, be it to maintain a handle on power – as is the case of the ruling General People’s Congress (GPC), or to ignite old hopes of secession.

The party that was closest to the collective demands of ordinary Yemenis was the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), representing the opposition. However, conflict soon ensued between members of the JMP themselves, especially between the Islamic-leaning Yemeni Congregation for Reform (Islah) whose core supporters are based in the North, and the secularist Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP), based in the South.

Considering the mistrust in the very process that is meant to lead the country towards permanent reforms and democracy, and in the very representatives guiding the transition, it is no wonder that Yemen is once more at the brink of tumult.

The country’s unity, achieved in May 1990, after bitter struggle and war between a Marxist-Leninist South Yemen, and North Yemen, is now at risk. Equally as dangerous is that the south, although represented by the all-encompassing Al-Hirak, hardly speaks in one voice.

Al-Hirak itself is divided and at times seems incapable of taking one solid political stance. Following a statement in which Al-Hirak announced that they “completely withdraw from the conference (holding) all the parties that placed obstacles in our path responsible for this decision,” another statement surfaced on Nov 28, also attributed to Al-Hirak “denying the walkout and affirming that the Southern movement remains committed to the national dialogue,” reported Asharq Al-Awsat.

Yemen’s divisions are copious and growing, allowing the old regime to find ways to once more dominate the country. It could easily re-brand itself as the party capable of uniting all Yemenis and saving Yemen from complete economic collapse and disintegration.

Still empowered by the spirit of their revolution that underscored the resilience and discipline of one of the world’s poorest nations, Yemenis might find themselves back on the streets demanding freedom, democracy, transparency and more, demands of which nothing has been accomplished, nearly three years on.

Note 1: Devastating-civil-war https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/10/28/devastating-civil-war-in-yemen-is-it-of-any-concern-to-the-un/

Note 2: Ramzy Baroud is a Palestinian-American journalist, author and former Al-Jazeera producer.

Ramzy Baroud taught Mass Communication at Australia’s Curtin University of Technology, and is Editor-in-Chief of the Palestine Chronicle.

Baroud’s work has been published in The Washington Post, The International Herald Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and is regularly published in newspapers across the Middle East.

Wrong Questions asked? Have the ARAB REVOLUTIONS Failed?

Challenging the falsehoods and simplifications that surrounded the so-called Arab Spring from the very start doesn’t necessarily mean that one is in doubt of the very notion that genuine revolutions have indeed gripped various Arab countries for nearly three years.
 
In fact, the revolutionary influx is still underway, and it will take many years before the achievements of these popular mobilizations are truly felt.
 
One can understand the frustration and deep sense of disappointment resulting from the state of chaos in Libya, the political wrangling in Yemen and Tunisia, the brutal civil war in Syria, and of course, the collective heartbreak felt throughout the Arab world following the bloody events in Egypt.
 

ASKING THE WRONG QUESTIONS: DID ARAB REVOLUTIONS FAIL?

But to assign the term “failure” to Arab revolutions is also a mistake equal to the many miscalculations that accompanied the nascent revolutions and uprisings from the start.

Many lapses of judgment were made early on, starting with the lumping together of all Arab countries into one category—discussed as singular news or academic topics.

It was most convenient for a newspaper to ask such a question as, “who’s next?” when Libya’s Muammar Al-Gaddafi was so pitilessly murdered by NATO-supported rebels.

It is equally convenient for academics to keep contending with why the Egyptian army initially took the side of the January 25 Revolution, the Syrian army sided with the ruling party, and why the Yemeni army descended into deep divisions.

In the rush to emphasize one’s intellectual authority, if not ownership over the narrative and for political reasons as well, the Arabs were dissected in every possible way, stretched in every possible direction, and reduced in ways so useful, yet so flawed, so that quick answers could be obtained.

While answers were readily available of why the Arabs revolted, time has proven much of the early discourses inane and misleading. The direction of these revolutions has headed in sharply different ways.

This is a testament to the uniqueness of circumstances, historical and otherwise, which surround each country–as opposed to the wholesale representation offered by the media.

It is an argument I made soon after Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country.

My argument was a response to the euphoria of expectations made by media “experts” and journalists who clearly had little understanding, or dare I say, respect of history or knowledge about the complex realities in which each Arab country is situated.

Many went on to write books, while others inspired audiences around the world with fiery speeches about collective Arab Islamic awakenings even before we conjured up basic ideas of what was truly manifesting before our own eyes. These manifestations were at times very violent and involved many players, from Qatar to China, and groups so varied in roots, ideology and sources of funds.

But as the plot thickened, much of the distorted accounts of “twitter revolutions” and such, grew less relevant and eventually faded away. Take the case of Libya as an example.

Those with simple answers, reflecting truly modest understanding of Arab societies, could hardly understand the complex nature of Libya’s tribal society, the socioeconomics governing relations between East and West, urban areas with desert towns and Libya’s African context and relationships.

When NATO used the Libyan uprising, mostly in the eastern parts of the country, to achieve its own political objectives, it converted a regional uprising into an all-out war that left the country in a status comparable to that of a failed state.

Almost immediately after NATO declared the Libyan revolution victorious, the excitement over the Libyan component of the “Arab Spring” became less visible, and eventually completely dissipated. Since then Libya has hardly followed a path of democracy and reforms.

In fact, the harms that resulted from the Libyan crisis, such as the massive influx of weapons and refugees to other African countries, destabilized the entire country of Mali.

As a result, Mali too went through its own upheaval, military coup, civil war and finally a French-led war in the course of two years. Unfortunately, these issues are hardly discussed within the Libyan context since Mali is not Arab, thus such inconvenient stories do no service to the simplified “Arab Spring” discourse.

The consequences of the Libyan fiasco will continue to reverberate for many years to come. But since simple arguments cannot cope with intricate narratives, media “experts” and other intellectual peddlers have moved elsewhere, selling the same tired arguments about other Arab countries by insisting on the same failed, expedient logic.

While some parties continue to ascribe the same language they used in the early months of 2011 to these revolutions, the shortcomings of these revolutions eventually gave credence to those who insist that the “Arab Spring” was entirely a farce-incepted, controlled and manipulated by U.S. hands, and funds of rich Arab countries.

These critics either have no faith in Arab masses as a possible factor of change in their own countries or have been so accustomed to judging the world and all of its happenings as a colossal conspiracy where the U.S. and its friends are the only wheelers and dealers.

As vigilant as one must remain to the many drivels promoted as news in mass media, one must not fall into the trap of seeing the world through the prism of an American plot in which we are co-conspirators, hapless fools or unwilling participants.

Arab revolutions have not failed, at least not yet. It will take us years, or maybe even an entire generation to assess their failures or successes. They have “failed” according to our hyped expectations and erroneous understanding of history.

What popular revolutions do is that they introduce new factors that challenge the way countries are ruled. In post-colonial Middle East, Arab countries were ruled through dictators—and their local associates—and foreign powers.

The harmony and clashes between the dictator and the foreigner determined the course of events in most Arab countries–in fact in most post-colonial experiences around the world.

This is where the real significance of the mass mobilizations in Arab countries becomes very important, for the “people”—a factor that is still far from being fully defined—challenged the rules of the game and mixed up the cards.

True, they sent the entire region into disarray, but it is the price one would expect when long-disempowered, disorganized, and oppressed people challenge powerful regimes and foreign powers.

Arab revolutions have not failed, but they have not succeeded either.

They have simply challenged the status quo like never before. The outcome of the new conflicts will define the politics of the region, its future, and the relationships between governments and the upcoming generations of Arabs.

Ramzy Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).


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