After receiving eviction notices last May, three Palestinian families constituting 53 people, including 20 children, were forcibly removed from their homes under High Court order at dawn yesterday, August 2.
The Hanouns, the Rawis and the al-Ghawis, all families who fled their homes in West Jerusalem and became refugees during the 1948 War, have been living in their houses since 1956, when Jordan reached an agreement with UNRWA to resettle them. They are now living on the streets, homeless.
Just a week ago they were living inside their home and now there are Jewish settlers inside, exhibiting not the least bit of remorse for the homeless family just outside. The Hanoun family’s furniture was seized by Israeli forces and they are now responsible for paying the storage and mover fees. Meanwhile, the Jewish settlers are living with round-the-clock security, not allowing anyone near. At one house, the police actually had the nerve to tell us not to film too close, as we should respect the privacy of the new residents. [continued…]
Early in the morning on July 7, an excited crowd of more than 100 gathered in Ben-Gurion International Airport to greet 232 new Jewish immigrants to Israel who arrived from North America on an El Al charter flight organized and funded by Nefesh B’Nefesh (which means “Soul in Soul” in Hebrew). The airport’s old and defunct Terminal 1 has been transformed into a celebratory arrival hall for new immigrants brought by the nonprofit organization, which was founded in 2001 with the aim of revitalizing immigration to Israel from North America and Britain.
Recently considered by the Jewish Agency to be serious competition when it comes to immigration, NBN is now recognized as the official operator of North American immigration to Israel. After some years of animosity and tension between the two groups, the Jewish Agency, along with the Israeli government, signed a contract with NBN last September that not only grants formal recognition to NBN but also guarantees that the government and the Jewish Agency will each fund a third of NBN’s $12 million annual budget. The remaining third comes from private donors. It is noteworthy, given the fact that Israeli taxpayer money goes toward this enterprise, that so few Israelis have heard of it. [continued…]
An Israeli judge has ruled that Israel has authority over a disputed area in the Ayalon Valley, a move that could allow the confiscation of Palestinian land bordering the occupied West bank.
The decision, reported in the Israeli press on Sunday, goes against a previous agreement that all issues of sovereignty must be decided by both parties.
Unlike East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights, both considered internationally to be occupied territory, the area around Latrun, about 25km from Jerusalem, was never annexed by Israel. [continued…]
About half of Israelis believe that in order to be a “true Israeli,” one has to have been born in Israel, so finds the Israel Democracy Institute in its annual Israeli Democracy Index, published Monday.
The report, which this year focused on the integration of Russian immigrants into Israeli society, tested the prevalent notion that the integration was smooth. The findings of the study, however, suggested otherwise. The study revealed that most Russian immigrants feel that they have no power to change their immediate reality, even 20 years after the immigration from the former Soviet Union began.
The democracy poll was conducted in March 2009, and included a random sample of adult Israelis. 1,191 people were polled in three different languages: Hebrew, Arabic and Russian. The margin of error is 2.8 percent.
The study found that the mood of the Russian immigrants is generally darker, the problems they face are tougher, and that their reactions are harsher than veteran Israelis’. The immigrant sector voices more concern over Israel’s security threats, is less connected to Israel, and fewer immigrants say that they would want their children to grow up in Israel.
The report found that 77 percent of Russian immigrants support promoting Arab migration from Israel, as opposed to 47 percent of native Jews who say they would support such a policy. 33 percent of the native Jews accept the existence of Arab political parties within the Knesset, while only 23 percent of the immigrants accept this fact. 27 percent of Israelis oppose the statement “a Jewish majority is necessary for fateful decisions for the country” ? in comparison with 38 percent who opposed the same statement in 2003. These figures indicate a growing support for the stripping of political rights from Israel’s Arab minority. [continued…]
I was one of about 175 Americans who formed the VIVA PALESTINA USA Convoy that entered the Gaza Strip on Wednesday evening, July 15, 2009, carrying medical and other humanitarian aid. We entered the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing from Egypt with permission to stay 24 hours.
The 1.5 million people who live in the Gaza Strip have been under Israeli restrictions for over 15 years. Starting in the mid-1990s, Israel imposed restrictions on permits for Palestinian men to work in Israel. Coincident with the unilateral, non-negotiated Israeli withdrawal of settlers and its army in 2005, Israel started to restrict imports and exports. Israel tightened these restrictions in 2006 in response to Hamas winning a majority in the Palestinian Authority elections, and again in 2007 when Hamas won a mini-civil war that was initiated by Fatah and took exclusive control of the Gaza Strip. Restrictions of food, fuel, and medical supplies triggered a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip with the U.N. reporting a large fraction of the people, especially children, suffering from malnutrition. The cut-off of import and export of commercial goods led to destruction of the economy and massive unemployment. The situation was made much worse by the December 2008-January 2009 bombing by Israel that resulted in over 1,400 killed and many buildings destroyed, including government and civic buildings and housing for over 100,000 people. [continued…]
In coming weeks, senior administration officials said, the White House will begin a public-relations campaign in Israel and Arab countries to better explain Mr. Obama’s plans for a comprehensive peace agreement involving Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab world.
The campaign, which will include interviews with Mr. Obama on Israeli and Arab television, amounts to a reframing of a policy that people inside and outside the administration say has become overly defined by the American pressure on Israel to halt settlement construction on the West Bank.
“We’re at a crucial moment now,” said Martin S. Indyk, a former ambassador to Israel and peace negotiator in the Clinton administration. “There are only so many visits George Mitchell can make.” [continued…]