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Home arrow Blog arrow January 2010 arrow January 21, 2010

January 21, 2010
January 21, 2010: RE: Israel's FEAR of NGO's, Quakers and why they love Sen. Scott Brown


Israel withholding NGO employees' work permits

By Amira Hass, Haaretz Correspondent

 

 


The Interior Ministry has stopped granting work permits to foreign nationals working in most international nongovernmental organizations operating in the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, Haaretz has learned.

In an apparent overhaul of regulations that have been in place since 1967, the ministry is now granting the NGO employees tourist visas only, which bar them from working.

Organizations affected by the apparent policy change include Oxfam, Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders, Terre des Hommes, Handicap International and the Religious Society of Friends (a Quaker organization).

 

 

 
Until recently, the workers would register with the international relations department at the Social Affairs Ministry, which would recommend the Interior Ministry to issue them B1 work permits. Although the foreign nationals are still required to approach the Social Affairs Ministry to receive recommendations to obtain a tourist visa, the Interior Ministry is aiming to make the Ministry of Defense responsible for those international NGOs and also requiring them to register with the coordinator of government activities in the territories (COGAT), which is subordinate to the Ministry of Defense.

Foreign nationals working for NGOs had understood they would receive a stamp or handwritten note alongside their tourist visa, permitting them to work "in the Palestinian Authority."


Israel is refusing work visas to most foreign nationals who state that they wish to work within the Palestinian territories, such as foreign lecturers for Palestinian universities and businessmen.

Israel does not recognize Palestinian Authority rule in East Jerusalem or in Area C, which comprises some 60 percent of the West Bank. The NGO workers say they've come to believe that the new policy is intended to force them to close their Jerusalem offices and relocate to West Bank cities. This move would prevent them from working among the Palestinian population of East Jerusalem, defined by the international community as occupied territory.

The organizations fear the new policy will impede their ability to work in Area C, whether because Israel doesn't see it as part of the Palestinian Authority or because they will eventually be subjected to the restrictions of movement imposed on the Palestinians.


Such restrictions include the prohibition to enter East Jerusalem and Gaza via Israel, except with specific and rarely obtained permits; and prohibition to enter areas west of the separation fence, except for village residents who hold special residency permits and Israeli citizens.

One NGO worker told Haaretz that the policy was reminiscent of the travel constraints imposed by Burmese authorities on humanitarian organizations, albeit presented in a subtler manner.

NGO workers told Haaretz that they had been informed by the COGAT official that a policy change was forthcoming, as early as July 2009. When a number of them approached the Interior Ministry in August to renew their visas, they found that their applications had been submitted to a "special committee." They were not told who constituted this committee, and had to make do with a "receipt" confirming that they had submitted the request. The workers said the tourist visas they received differed from each other in duration and travel limitations, and surmised from this that the policy has not been entirely fleshed out.

Latest in a series of steps

A number of NGO workers who spoke with Haaretz voiced deep apprehensions about having to submit to the authority of the Defense Ministry. The groups are committed to the Red Cross code of ethics, and therefore see being subjugated to the ministry directly in charge of the occupation as problematic and contradictory to the very essence of their work.

Between 140 and 150 NGOs operate among the Palestinian population. Haaretz could not obtain the exact number of foreign nationals they employ.

The new limitations do not apply to the 12 organizations that have been active in the West Bank prior to 1967. Those groups, which include the Red Cross and several Christian organizations, were registered with the Jordanian authorities.

The new move by the Interior Ministry is the latest in a series of steps taken in the last few years to constrain the movement of foreign nationals in the West Bank and Gaza, including Palestinians with family and property in the occupied territories. Most of those who have been effected are nationals of countries with which Israel has diplomatic relations, especially Western states. Israel does not apply any similar constraints on citizens of the same countries traveling within Israel and West Bank settlements.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that the only relevant authority empowered to approve the stay of foreign citizens in the Palestinian Authority is the coordinator of government activities in the territories. "The Interior Ministry is entrusted with granting visas and work permits within the State of Israel. Those staying within both the boundaries of Israel and the Palestinian Authority are required to secure their permits accordingly," the ministry said.

"Recently, a question was raised on the issue of visas granted to those staying in the Palestinian Authority and in Israel, as it transpired that they spend most of their time in the PA despite having been provided with Israeli work permits," the statement continued. "The matter is under intense discussions, with the active participation of the relevant military authorities, with a view to finding the right and appropriate solution as soon as possible."

 

 

 

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1143854.html

 


On November 19, 2008, I wrote:

What do Zimbabwe, Burma, North Korea and Israel have in Common?
  

They are the ONLY states in the world that deny international media and humanitarian aid workers access.

On November 18, 2008, I and forty seven international ecumenical Christians and other people of faith rolled out of bed before 5 AM to travel from Jerusalem to the Erez Crossing in the Gaza Strip.

We went to stand up as a united people of conscience in NONVIOLENT Solidarity with the people of Gaza and in support of all the NGO’s that have been denied access into the Gaza Strip for over two weeks.

We went in love and for love of all of God’s children;

Be they the oppressed or the oppressors,

Those imprisoned by walls and those who erect them,

Those who are denied clean water and their deniers,

Those whose fears rule their hearts and the heartbroken,

Those whose ideology, greed, apathy, and power blind them to their culpability, responsibilities and obligations.

We went with hope to arouse the consciences of the leaders of the world to seek peace through justice; equal human rights for all.

Some media turned out for the NGO meeting we attended in the parking lot at Erez Crossing-NOT USA media needless to say-more on that to follow asap;

Because of poor Internet connection and lack of time to investigate-I have no 'official' confirmation, but the word on the street in Jerusalem is that the Israeli OCCUPYING Forces tanks rolled back into Gaza shortly after we departed.

Israel and the USA both signed the Geneva Convention. That makes them BOTH legally, morally and ethically RESPONSIBLE for the 1.5 million open air prisoners of Gaza; 60% are children under the age of 18 years old!

May God have mercy on those who do NOT know what they are doing -BUT, NO DOUBT they KNOW perfectly well and that has got my Irish up and keeps it flaming.



 

 Jan. 21, 2010 Email from Mazin Qumsiyeh

 

 

 

I entered Jerusalem through the apartheid wall yesterday without using the temporary "Israeli permit" that was issued to me (and that expired yesterday). My family had applied for me and many others through our church for the Eastern Christian Holidays.  Yet, those who could enter like I did (with or without permits) are a tiny fraction of the Palestinian population. I have not been in Jerusalem in nearly four years due to Israeli
restrictions.

On the drive along the Hebron road, we first pass by side roads leading to the colonies built since 1967 on Palestinian lands (illegal per International law): things now called Ramat Rachel, Gilo, and Har Homa.  We pass by land that was leased (for 99 years!) from our Greek Orthodox Church
by tricks and a corrupt church official to develop Israeli malls and housing. 


We then enter the "neighborhoods" of Amona and Talpiot that used to be Arab Palestinians before 1948 and see many old Palestinian homes that were taken over by Zionists and their residents. Charming old Arab houses with arched balconies sit lonely amid massive development of European style architecture.  I wonder what their Jewish residents think of living in such structures.  I wonder if even they know what life is like just three miles south in the refugee camps in Bethlehem.

To the right, we pass by the road leading to Silwan. A Palestinian neighborhood that is increasingly threatened with total eviction to create a "natural park".  I think of the three Palestinian villages (including the biblical Imwas ) that were removed in 1967 to create later "Canada Park"; to
honor Canadian Jews and others who donated to plant non-native trees where homes and agricultural land once existed.  Many homes have already been demolished in Silwan, Wadi Al Joz and Israeli digging under Silwan is resulting in collapse of homes and infrastructures (and occasionally injuries to residents like when an UNRWA school floor collapsed injuring two students).

Then we moved up the hill to the old city.  I remember walking these roads and roaming around the area when I taught in Jerusalem in 1978 and 1979 (at Schmidt Girls College).  


Nostalgia at seeing familiar structures and buildings (the old YMCA, the schools, the American Consulate, the Churches and mosques) is mixed with apprehension at seeing the scarring that
destroyed many other familiar landmarks.


The city I think will slowly become totally unrecognizable.  It will become like an extension of Tel Aviv (except populated with more religious Jews). 


Now I realize cities do change in time.  But this is different. 


Jerusalem was a city that is multi-ethnic and multi-religious.  Many occupiers tried to change its character by force (Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, British, etc) but the people of the
city have always clung to traditions and resisted changes.  And there were only two periods were there was massive ethnic cleansing:


a) when the crusaders came in the middle ages (removing and killing local Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, and Muslim residents), and


b) in 1948 when Western Jerusalem was completely cleared of Palestinian residents (some 23,000 born before Jan 1948 and now the total refugees from that part of the city is 93,000, see data in
http://www.jerusalemquarterly.org/images/ArticlesPdf/3_Jerusalem%2048.pdf .



And concomitantly nearly 2000 Jews removed from Eastern Jerusalem.  The old Jewish quarter has always been Muslim Waqf land whose residents before 1948 paid rent to.  For data on population changes through historic Palestine, see
http://www.palestineremembered.com/Acre/Palestine-Remembered/Story559.html .


At this point, I know some will say that ethnic cleansing was done by the Romans when "the Jews" were expelled following the Bar Kokhba revolt. But historically this is not true.  First, there was no such thing as the Jews but residents of Judea who were referred to as Judeans (in Arabic, Hebrew,
and Aramaic variations on Yahudi best translated as Judean not Jew). 



These Judeans practiced different religions including many pagan traditions. Some religions were shared by other Palestinians (e.g. monotheistic traditions shared between some Samaritans and some Judeans).  The revolt by radical Pharisee elements was against the Roman appointed Herod dynasty (Herod, of Idumean background, was considered kind of the Judeans). These radical
elements were the ones who were removed from Jerusalem, not the Judean population.


Judeans in Jerusalem at the time who continued to live there included many who believed in Baal, YHW/Yahweh, and El/El Elyon (Elohim in Hebrew, Alla in Aramaic, Allah and Arabic), and the nascent Christian tradition (and later ofcourse many adopted Islam). 



The languages spoken included not only Greek and Latin but various dialects of Aramaic including
those that are recognizable Arabic and spoken Hebrew dialects (although thelatter was mostly for religious rituals). Many forget that the Arabic alphabet evolved here in the Holy Land from Nebatean Proto Aramaic!

But more modern history is sad because we experience it. Just last year alone 4600 Palestinians lost their right to live in their own city including some of my friends. 


Some 150 Palestinian homes were demolished.  I also talked yesterday with a colleague in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem whose family was evicted and the home taken over by radical settlers. 


I give a lecture on Mount Scopus; land that partly belonged to the Jerusalemite Khalidi and other families and has been taken over under Israel's "laws" of "absentee property".  As the Palestinian nature of thisold city continues to be under attack, it has been slowly being transformed
to a European city with an Ashkenazi Jewish Zionist character.  Its eastern charm is now replaced by business, commerce, etc that is to serve the privileged segment of the society.

In the UN partition plan of 1947, Jerusalem was to become an International city open to all.  My hope is that with thousands of activists (increasing daily) who engage in the struggle for peace with justice, Palestinian refugees will be allowed to return to West Jerusalem and those displaced
from East Jerusalem also returned (just like the Jewish quarter was re-populated). That the city then really become an international city with full equality anda  truth an reconciliation committee established just like happened in South Africa. 


Jerusalem would then become a "shiny city on the hill" and its people "a light unto the people" (mistranslated "light unto the nations").

On an unrelated note: Scott Brown won the Senate seat in Massachusetts vacated by Ted Kennedy. The only two foreign countries Brown devoted sections to on his website are  Israel (love it) and Iran (hate it). Clearly AIPAC got another unprincipled politician they can count on to put Zionist interests ahead of US interests let alone the interests of people here (Israeli and Palestinians), who are clearly harmed by these policies. His TV sound bites were regurgitations of Zionist propaganda long shown to be outright lies: Israel is a "democracy" that "seeks peace" and Ahmedinujad is "a Holocaust denier who has threatened to wipe Israel off the map" (see
http://www.qumsiyeh.org/liesandtruths/  )

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
A Bedouin in Cyberspace, a villager at home
http://www.qumsiyeh.org <http://www.qumsiyeh.org/>
http://www.pcr.ps
<http://www.pcr.ps/>




On December 22, 2009, I wrote:

Santa on Claire's street with no name, in the little town of Bethlehem 

 

Read more...
On August 8, 2009, I wrote:

Back to occupied east Jerusalem



The Many Layers of NaHalat Shimon beg the question: Where's the money coming from?


[Occupied East Jerusalem] Last Sunday morning just before sunrise, Israeli forces evicted seventy more Palestinians from their homes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, which is being taken over by the Nahalat Shimon settlers.

"The events in Sheikh Jarrah garnered international censure from the European Union, the United Nations (UN) and from Britain, which said it was 'appalled' at the move. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday night called the Israeli evictions "deeply regrettable" and she urged "the government of Israel and municipal officials to refrain from such provocative actions." [1]

Israeli forces also demolished the Al-Kurd family protest tent for the sixth time. The Al-Kurd family was evicted from their home in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood last November, just prior to my first visit and I returned again on June 10, 2009.

Less than a five minute walk from my room at the Ambassador Hotel and less than ten from the Old City of Jerusalem is the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Around the corner from my hotel and up the hill from the Al-Kurd Tent is a newly erected community center with a plaque "Dedicated to the Children of Shimon Hazadik Neighborhood" from a Dr. Rubin Brecher and family of Lawrence, New York.

According to Jewish tradition, Shimon Hazadik (which means 'The righteous') was the High Priest at the time of Alexander the Great. He reminded the people of what's important in the world and he used to say: "On three things the world stands: the Torah, on Service [prayer] and on acts of kindness."[2]


Mrs. Al-Kurd, known as Um Kamal [mother of Kamal] and her now deceased husband Mohammed had lived in the neighborhood from 1956 until the morning of November 9, 2008 when the Israeli police enforced a court order that evicted them.

When I returned to the tent on June 10, 2009 and asked Um Kamal where her calm strength and perpetual smile came from, she gestured to the sky and responded, "Allah: God gives me."

Maher Hannoun interjected, "Um Kamal is a strong woman because she has a strong connection to this land where we both were born! Even for millions of dollars we would never sell our land, our hopes, our dreams! We are here legally and we have a contract that was signed between the government and UNWRRA, but what gives us the real power to fight is seeing all the people who come to be with us here believing in human rights. We need every one to carry our message around the world that this is our home and we will never leave here.

"In Gaza they attacked with F16 tanks. In Jerusalem they attack with evictions and transferring property. More than 500 homes in this neighborhood have already received eviction notices. They are building 200 settler units and an American Israeli company named Nahalat Shimon Builders is behind it."

Nahalat Shimon is also the name of a settler group and a real estate company.


On August 2, 2009, "Israeli riot police wielding clubs kicked out two Palestinian families from their homes in occupied east Jerusalem on Sunday, defying international protests over Jewish settlement activity in the area. Clashes erupted after police moved in at dawn around the homes in the upmarket Arab district of Sheikh Jarrah following an Israeli court decision ordering the eviction of the 53 Palestinians, including 19 minors.

“I was born in this house and so were my children,” said Maher Hanoun, whose family was evicted along with the neighboring Ghawi household. “Now we are on the streets. We have become refugees.”

"The Supreme Court ordered the evictions following an appeal by the Nahalat Shimon International settler group which claimed Jewish settlers have title deeds for the properties, despite UN and Palestinian denials. Jerusalem authorities have also given permission for the construction of about 20 housing units in Sheikh Jarrah, in defiance of global calls for a halt to all settlement activity in occupied east Jerusalem and the West Bank." [3]


On November 9, 2008, at 3:30 AM, Reverend Richard Toll was awakened in his hotel room in the Ambassador while the Israeli Occupying Forces/IOF broke down the door of the home of the Al Khurd family. Rev. Toll informed me that he was jarred awake by a woman’s pain filled scream that was indescribable.

 
The Al Khurd family had lived in their home in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood since the days when east Jerusalem was under Jordanian control. The United Nations upon contract with Jordan allotted them the land after they became refugees when they were expelled from their home in west Jerusalem by Zionists during the 1948 war.

Hasib Nashashibi, of the Ensan Center for Democracy and Human Rights [an NGO coalition of Palestinian Muslim and Christians] explained to me, “When Jordan controlled this land and the UN granted privileges to the Palestinian refugees including those from west Jerusalem, such as education, health care, and relief and development; they also allowed the refugees to give up some privileges and receive a home and land deed instead. Jordan never fulfilled their obligation to send the written documentation that these west Jerusalem refugees are land owners and not tenants. Now the Israeli’s are trying to make them refugees for the second time!”

 
Since East Jerusalem’s occupation by Israel in 1967, the Oriental Jews Associations and the Knesseth Yisrael Association have been waging a brutal take over of the Khurds’ home, claiming that the land originally belonged to Jews.

In 1972, they succeeded to register the land in their name with the Israeli Land registrar. In 1999, settlers burst into the home and set up an occupation in a wing of the house that belonged to the couple’s son, Raed. The Khurd family hired lawyers and have spent a fortune in court battles and in 2006, the Israeli court finally revoked the claim of ownership by the settlers. However, on February 25, 2007 the Israeli Supreme Court issued an order to evict the settlers but it was never enforced!

In Israeli law, all of Jerusalem, including the eastern half of the city, is considered to be the “indivisible” capital of the Jewish state and religiously fundamentalist settlers have been claiming land all over occupied East Jerusalem based on title deeds that pre-existed 1948.

Since Israel became a state 531 Palestinian villages have been destroyed and 750,000 Palestinians were made refugees in 1948, and Israel continues to make more!

President George W. Bush became a willing collaborator in this on going injustice in his infamous 2004 exchange of letters with Ariel Sharon. Bush agreed that Israel would not be expected to return to the armistice lines of 1949 and declared that Israel would be able to hold on to its “population centers” in the West Bank. This is nothing more than Orwellian spin that attempts to justify the established settlement blocs for every one of them are illegal under international law.

 
"Michshol Hafrada" is Hebrew for "The Separation Wall" and separation translates to Apartheid in Afrikaan.

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know What I was walling in or walling out And to whom I was likely to give offence. Something there is that does not love a wall, That wants it down.-Robert Frost


The Wall has divided Palestinians from Palestinians and has stolen their aquifers, denies them access to their land, jobs, families and holy sites and for every mile it consumes over $1.25 Million USA Tax dollars.

The Wall was deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice but no president has yet demanded Israel to tear down this wall!

The so called Holy Land is a Swiss cheese of land locked enclaves; known as Bantustans in Afrikaan. Jewish only colonies have been implanted to divide the Palestinian neighborhoods throughout occupied territory. Over 100,000 Palestinians are trapped and then daily humiliated and tortured at the over 600 checkpoints that deny them access to their families, land, jobs, resources and holy sites.

Since 1967, over 22,000 dwellings -averaging eleven people per unit- have been bulldozed by Israeli forces usually because they interfere with settlement expansion.

Israel attempts to justify their immoral actions with three distinct categories:

1. Collective Punishment: Homes of suspected terrorists-in reality that is anyone who opposes the occupation- as well as the families of suicide/homicide bombers.

These punitive actions amount to 15% of the over 22,000 homes destroyed since 1967.

2. Administrative demolitions for lack of building permits: Israel refuses to issue any and this accounts for 25%. In occupied east Jerusalem one out of four Palestinian homes have a demolition order.

3. Security: The blanket reason given for all of Israel’s injustices and illegal actions.


On December 20, 2006, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who received a Nobel Peace Prize for his relentless work confronting and challenging South Africa's Apartheid regime was quoted in The Guardian: "I've been deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land. I have seen the humiliation at the checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about…Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace can ultimately be built only on justice…If peace could come to South Africa, surely it can come to the Holy Land."

I imagine Shimon Hazadik might remind "the children" who are taking over the neighborhood that,"From Moses to Jeremiah and Isaiah, the Prophets taught...that the Jewish claim on the land of Israel was totally contingent on the moral and spiritual life of the Jews who lived there, and that the land would, as the Torah tells us, 'vomit you out' if people did not live according to the highest moral vision of Torah. Over and over again, the Torah repeated its most frequently stated mitzvah [command]:

"When you enter your land, do not oppress the stranger; the other, the one who is an outsider of your society, the powerless one and then not only 'you shall love your neighbor as yourself' but also 'you shall love the other.'" [4]


I also imagine Shimon Hazadik might be interested- as we all should- in knowing from whom and where the money comes from that equips the Nahalat Shimon settlers. 

1.  http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0804/p06s12-wome.html
2.  http://www.chabadonline.com/scripts/tgij/paper/Articlecm.asp?articleID=1289
3.   http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009\08\03\story_3-8-2009_pg4_6
4.   Rabbi Lerner, TIKKUN Magazine, page 35, Sept./Oct. 2007






   
 
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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

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The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership....a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures."  - William Fulbright



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Establishment of Israel
"On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations." - May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel
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