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How the hunger strike could bring Palestinian prisoners back to the fore

The fixation on Barghouti’s op-ed bio distracts from the strike’s impact on Palestinians, which is as much about restoring political direction as it is about attaining prisoners’ rights.

In 2015, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) created the “Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.” Nicknamed after the renowned South African leader who spent 27 years behind bars, the “Nelson Mandela Rules” form an international blueprint for the basic rights of all prisoners regardless of the charges against them, including telephone calls, medical examinations and educational programs, among many others.

The demands of the 1,200 Palestinian prisoners who launched a hunger strike on Monday echo the provisions of the Mandela Rules. For decades, Palestinians in Israeli prisons have had their rights systematically denied or restricted under the guise of “security,”  with few questioning the legality or practical necessity of the state’s measures. The government has even been open many times about its purely political motives in holding prisoners’ rights hostage, as it did during the Gilad Shalit ordeal.

Ironically, Israel demonstrated its disregard for the Mandela Rules once again when Marwan Barghouti, a popular Palestinian leader serving five life sentences, was thrown into solitary confinement as punishment for his New York Times op-ed this week – proving exactly the kind of punitive policies Barghouti had written about.

The insistence on focusing on the violent pasts of Palestinian leaders like Barghouti not only distracts from the prisoners’ human rights demands, but is also heavily distorted by people’s selective knowledge of history.

Despite many Israelis lamenting for a “Palestinian Mandela,” few seem to remember that Mandela himself, who was head of the armed wing of the African National Congress, did not immediately renounce violence upon his release from prison. Other anti-apartheid figures, including the Jewish communist Denis Goldberg (who was convicted alongside Mandela), were also key members of the armed struggle. Given this context, it is rather perverse for Israelis to set mythologized moral criteria of what a Palestinian leader should espouse – even if they acknowledge the violent pasts of Israeli leaders as well.

Although the hunger strike will have to prove its durability in the coming weeks, there are reasons to believe that something different is beginning to stir. For the past few years, the prisoner issue has slipped from the Palestinian public’s priorities as they...

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Assault on Palestinian man shows violent effects of police impunity

Even when brutality is documented, Palestinians must live with the knowledge that they are unlikely to receive truth, justice, or respect from the authorities that claim to serve them.

In the wake of a video released last Thursday showing an Israeli police officer assaulting a Palestinian truck driver in East Jerusalem, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh stated that it was “difficult to find any justification whatsoever” for the policeman’s behavior, and assured the public that the officer would be dismissed. “This is an irregular incident that has no place in the Israel Police,” he insisted.

Alsheikh’s attempt to portray the event as essentially a problem of “a few bad apples” is disingenuous. According to Ynet, the policeman from the video was investigated over another violent incident four years ago, but the file was closed by the Police Investigation Unit (“Mahash”). His case appears to be one of the 10,492 complaints of police brutality and misconduct filed from 2011 to 2014 — 93 percent of all complaints filed during those years — which were dismissed without punishment. If the officer was indeed a “bad apple” as Alsheikh suggests, the authorities clearly had no problem with throwing him back into the barrel.

It was fortunate that the incident in Jerusalem was captured on camera, but that is not always enough to secure justice for brutality by the police or the army. In November 2014, despite a security camera showing that policemen fired unjustifiably at Kheir Hamdan in Kufr Kanna, the officers were never brought to trial.

In the case of Elor Azaria, who was recorded executing a wounded Palestinian attacker while he was lying on the ground in Hebron, the court played down his conviction as manslaughter and sentenced him to only eighteen months in prison. Despite extensive documentation of excessive force during protests, almost no police officer is ever charged. The list goes on.

This backdrop of impunity is probably one of the reasons why, despite the officer’s maniacal outburst, none of the Palestinian men in the video dared to hit him back in the same manner. Every one of them is mindful that the officer could easily arrest them, or worse, pull out and fire his gun. The officer might claim that the men ganged up on him and that he acted in self-defense — and the...

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How Israeli photography creates a world without Palestinians

The myth of the land of Mandate Palestine as an untapped oasis waiting for Jewish habitation is still thriving on both sides of the Green Line. Photographs are a key tool for perpetuating — and challenging — that myth.

David Rubinger, Israel’s most famous photographer, died on 1 March at the age of 92. His photograph of three Israeli paratroopers gazing at the Western Wall, taken minutes after Israeli forces seized Jerusalem’s Old City during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, was widely revered as a symbol of Zionism’s triumphant destiny. Rubinger, however, was not particularly fond of the picture: “Part of the face is cut off on the right side,” he said, “in the middle the nose protrudes, and on the left there’s only half a face … photographically speaking, this isn’t a good photo.”

The soldiers’ faces were not the only things cut out of the shot. Behind Rubinger were the buildings of the Mughrabi Quarter of the Old City, home to about 650 Palestinians. Three days after the picture was taken, the Israeli army evicted the residents and demolished their houses and mosques. An open plaza now welcomes worshipers and visitors to the Western Wall, with no trace of the area’s former life. “There are those who write the pages of history,” President Rivlin said after Rubinger’s death, “and there are those who create them with their lens.”

Israeli visual history has always required the erasure of Palestinians. The National Library recently released forty aerial photos, taken by Zoltan Kluger in 1937, of what it described as “pre-state Israel” rather than Mandate Palestine. The images, which include views of the Nahalal moshav and Tel Aviv, bolster the Zionist myth of the land as an untapped oasis waiting for Jewish labor and habitation.

The myth is still thriving eighty years later, on both sides of the Green Line. Kluger’s photo of the fertile banks of the River Jordan could easily be used today to advertise the ongoing expansion of Israeli settlements and industries in the occupied Jordan Valley, which have displaced thousands of Palestinians. In the Negev, the Palestinian village of Umm al-Hiran is slated to be destroyed and a Jewish town built on its ruins. A video made by the incoming Jewish residents, who currently live in a temporary encampment in a nearby forest, shows two men searching the desert for...

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U.S. abstention is a message to Europe: End Israel’s impunity

The U.S. essentially admitted that its unyielding defense of Israel in the diplomatic arena was a disastrous strategy. With Obama bowing out, Europe will need to act on this lesson.

Shortly after the UN Security Council passed its resolution criticizing Israeli settlements on Friday, the U.S. State Department issued a press statement by John Kerry explaining Washington’s decision to abstain from the vote. Kerry said that their goal was to “preserve the possibility of the two state solution,” adding that “We cannot in good conscience stand in the way of a resolution at the United Nations that makes clear that both sides must act now to preserve the possibility of peace.”

Had they made that decision a year ago, Kerry and Obama might have left a meaningful legacy on the conflict; but this is not the case. Palestinians and Israelis have watched previous American presidents launch dramatic peace moves in the twilight of their administrations: Clinton with Camp David in 2000, and Bush with Annapolis in 2007. The late timing of these initiatives proved to be ineffective and even detrimental: they heightened the tensions and the stakes for the parties to agree on a rushed solution, and cast heavy doubt that any major decisions would survive under the next presidency (or under a new Israeli premiership).

This is why, contrary to what my colleague Dahlia Scheindlin argues, the Left has every reason to remain critical of the U.S.’s abstention. It is a failure of policy to be eight years late to a diplomatic move that could have had a significant impact on the conflict’s developments. It is a failure of principle to wait 36 years before allowing the Security Council to re-echo the U.S.’s own position that settlements violate international law. And it is a failure of political will to do all this just a month before the curtain closes on Obama’s presidency.

That being said, the abstention may still mark an important moment for the conflict. By withholding the veto, the Obama administration essentially admitted – intentionally or not – that its unyielding defense of Israel in the diplomatic arena was a disastrous strategy. Not only did the Israeli government personally disrespect Obama on a regular basis, it openly undermined U.S. policy by continuing to expand settlements and disparaging the very idea of a two-state solution. Now, with the incoming inauguration of Donald Trump, Obama...

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The end of American exceptionalism

Trump has shown that the U.S.’s democracy is just as flawed and illusory as the many countries that it has preached to for decades. And that’s a good thing to admit.

In a Daily Show segment covering the U.S. presidential race last year, Trevor Noah told his audience that, “as an African, there’s just something familiar about Trump.” Noah compared some of Trump’s statements with those of leaders from his home continent – Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Uganda’s Idi Amin, South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi – concluding that Trump is actually “the perfect African president.” It was a joke that pointed to a sobering reality: American politicians were not so different from the “crazy” personalities seen in other parts of the world.

In recent years the American entertainment industry has been fascinated by the fallacies of the country’s political culture. If the most popular political drama a decade ago was The West Wing – a revering insight into the daily workings of the White House – today it is House of Cards – a sinister story of the vicious lengths politicians will go to in the pursuit of power.

After Trump’s victory this week, however, the disturbing rise of Frank Underwood in House of Cards no longer seems so fictional. A megalomaniacal businessman, who himself gained fame through a television show, was just made the most powerful leader in the world. Many people’s attitudes toward voting this year felt more like personality contests over American Idol singers than serious considerations over policy issues. The U.S. political system now mirrors the eccentric plot lines and characters we watch on the screen – and we have yet to absorb the fact that they have spilled into our real lives.

For many people outside the U.S., including in the Middle East, there is a bit of schadenfreude in watching Trump tear down what’s left of the country’s image of political integrity. Even those who have long despised and criticized the American political system often believed that there was still a democratic culture that made the U.S. somewhat unique. Now, with his increasingly outlandish policies, conduct, and rhetoric becoming mainstream (and ballot-winning) political discourse, Trump has proven that America’s democracy is in fact just as flawed and illusory as the many countries that the U.S. government has preached to for decades.

The decline of America’s “exceptional” image in the eyes of the world did not start...

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Force-feeding law seeks to oppress Palestinian lives, not save them

Israeli security authorities view hunger striking Palestinian prisoners as political time-bombs that can undermine the occupation’s control. The High Court agrees.

In a unanimous decision by a three-justice panel, the Israeli High Court on Sunday approved the legality of the force-feeding law, which was enacted by the Knesset in July 2015.

The law allows Israeli authorities to forcibly feed hunger striking prisoners against their will if their health condition is deemed to be life-threatening, and if the measure is approved by the attorney general and a District Court judge. The procedure involves transmitting food into the patient’s body, either through the vein, through an open cut to the stomach, or more commonly through a rubber or plastic tube inserted up the patient’s nose or down the throat.

Aside from its physical and medical dangers, the practice of force-feeding poses legitimate legal and ethical dilemmas. On the one hand there is the need to respect the hunger striker’s right to protest, their personal dignity, and control over their body. On the other hand there is a need to protect the striker’s most fundamental right of all: his or her life.

But these questions are not what concern the Israeli security authorities, despite their arguments ostensibly favoring the right to life. In their eyes, a hunger striking Palestinian is a political time-bomb: the death of a prisoner might spark demonstrations, encourage other prisoners to strike, spur demands for investigations, and increase international pressure against Israel’s detention policies. The court acknowledged these worries when it wrote that hunger strikes have “implications that go beyond the personal matter of the hunger striker,” further concluding that a person who willingly endangers their own life through a strike cannot be regarded as an “ordinary patient.”

The court’s ruling went against the combined positions of human rights groups, UN experts, and both the Israel and World Medical Associations, all of which regard force-feeding as a serious breach of medical ethics, a violation of national and international laws, and a practice that amounts to torture and ill-treatment. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, one of the petitioners in the case, stated that the court’s ruling dismissed their arguments and “relied on a minority position of Israeli ethicists and physicians that support [the law].” The Israel Medical Association also declared that it would continue to instruct doctors to disobey the law and any orders to implement it.

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Who’s sending death threats to Palestinian advocates in The Hague?

In an interview with +972, the Hague representative of Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights group, talks about the slew of threats she and her organization have received for months, and why she believes the Israeli government is behind them.

In a small ceremony in The Hague on April 1, 2015, the Palestinian Authority officially signed the Rome Statute, the legal covenant enabling the prosecution of individuals at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Saeb Erekat, the PA’s chief negotiator, called it “a historic day in the struggle for justice, freedom and peace for our people and all those seeking justice worldwide.”

A few months later, four Palestinian human rights organizations – Al-Haq, Al Mezan, Aldameer, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights – submitted communiqués to the ICC detailing numerous counts of suspected war crimes committed during the 2014 Gaza War, codenamed “Operation Protective Edge” by the Israeli military. Raji Sourani, Director of PCHR, stated that “Israel is unwilling and Palestine is unable to domestically hold to account Israeli perpetrators of international crimes. We need the ICC to break the cycle of impunity.”

The four organizations anticipated a backlash from Israel, which made no secret of its hostility towards the Palestinians’ attempt to pursue an international legal track to seek accountability. What they didn’t anticipate was how severe that backlash would be.

Since September 2015, several of the organizations have faced ruthless smear and intimidation campaigns seeking to discredit them and stoke insecurity among their staff. The harassment culminated in death threats made against two individuals: A senior Palestinian advocate in Al Mezan, whose identity has been kept confidential but who will be discussed in Part II of this series; and Nada Kiswanson, 31, a Palestinian-Swedish lawyer who is Al-Haq’s representative in The Hague.

Although the death threats began in February 2016, Kiswanson initially kept a low profile, concerned first and foremost for the safety of her family including her husband and two-year-old daughter, and in the hope that the Dutch authorities would find the culprits immediately. But the authorities still haven’t tracked them down, and the attacks only escalated. Kiswanson finally went public about her case last week.

The Dutch newspapers that first covered the story highlighted a few examples of the threats. In late February, Kiswanson received obscure phone calls from people calling...

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Black Lives platform is a victory for transnational struggles

Black American activists have delivered a powerful message to Palestinians and other oppressed communities around the world: you are not alone in your causes.

Of all the discussions I ever had about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, undoubtedly the most engaging ones were with delegations of black Americans who visited the region to learn firsthand about Palestinians in the occupied territories, inside Israel, and in refugee camps. These groups – made up of community organizers, students, journalists, judges, and others – not only found commonalities with the experiences of Palestinians, but shared their own lessons of struggle against racism, state violence, and inequality.

The “Invest-Divest” chapter of the platform of the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) is an outcome of that growing exchange between black Americans and Palestinians. The chapter, which partly addresses foreign policy concerns in various countries, outlines clear and practical ways for Americans to help in ending the Israeli occupation. These include engaging the Leahy Law to withdraw military aid for human rights violations; campaigning against private security companies like G4S; and fighting state legislation aimed at silencing BDS activism in the U.S.

The platform’s alliance with the Palestinian struggle – including its support for BDS, which was founded by a Palestinian civil society coalition much like the M4BL – has raised the public profile of the Palestinian cause at a very critical time. The political leaderships in Palestine, Israel, and the U.S. have shown little will or legitimacy to make progress in the conflict, leaving grassroots and civil society movements as the only agents actively challenging the worsening status quo. Thus by including their cause among their international priorities, black activists have delivered a powerful message to the Palestinian people: you are not alone in your struggle.

At the same time, the M4BL arguably overstepped its position when it used the word ‘genocide’ to describe Israel’s oppressive policies toward Palestinians. The problem here is not mere semantics and arguments over definitions. Many people like myself have lived and learned alongside survivors and descendants of survivors of genocides in Sudan, Rwanda, Armenia, and the Holocaust, to name a few. For all the crimes that Palestinians are subjected to, placing our situation on the same pedestal as history’s most egregious and murderous atrocities gives us an unwarranted exceptionalism which, in my view, undermines the transnational consciousness that we are trying to promote. The M4BL is certainly right to...

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Black-Palestine activists should highlight police brutality in Israel

Police violence in Israel is nowhere near the scale and severity of that in the United States or the occupied territories – but they do share key elements that achieve the same purpose.

By Amjad Iraqi

The transnational solidarity movement between Palestinians and Black, indigenous, and other minority Americans has made significant strides in promoting the struggle of Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But in its focus on challenging Israel’s military regime as an institution of oppression, the movement – like many other outsiders – has sometimes overlooked another oppressive institution that operates inside Israel itself: the national police force.

In fact, when American activists of color tour the region, many find that their experiences in the United States are even more accurately mirrored by those of Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up a fifth of the population within the state’s 1948 borders. The conditions of many Arab towns in Israel remind the activists of impoverished ghettos in American cities; segregationist laws in land and housing echo those of the Jim Crow south; and in particular, the stories of police brutality sound starkly like those in the U.S.

Like minorities in America, the Palestinian citizens’ experience with Israeli security authorities is embedded in a history of violence, distrust, and impunity. In October 1956, when Arab communities in Israel were still under military rule, soldiers shot and killed forty-nine Palestinian citizens in Kufr Kassem as they were returning home from their farms. In March 1976, police killed six Palestinian citizens during the first Land Day protests, which have been commemorated every year since. During the mass demonstrations of October 2000, police killed twelve Palestinian citizens and one resident of Gaza, and wounded hundreds more, using rubber-coated bullets and live ammunition, including sniper fire.

These acts of state-sanctioned violence, among many over the years, are coupled with both negligence and harassment by police in Arab communities. Policemen rarely arrive to investigate scenes of local Arab gun violence and, if they do come, are never heard from again. Plainclothes officers have been known to storm into local stores in broad daylight in search of undocumented Palestinian workers from the West Bank. Residents even remember how, years ago, newly-inducted Israeli soldiers stopped and searched vehicles at the entrances of Arab towns in Israel as training for managing checkpoints in the occupied territories.

Police practices...

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Why Israel can’t kick its addiction to collective punishment

Israel’s revocation of permits and closure of Yatta this week reflect its need to keep the Palestinian issue at bay by controlling and threatening their people for every action of a few.

A Palestinian family from Nablus was supposed to visit their relatives in an Arab town in Israel for Ramadan later this month. They were especially excited that they would get to see the beach in Jaffa for the first time, which despite being only an hour’s drive away was normally inaccessible to them as residents of the West Bank. But on Thursday morning they were informed that they couldn’t go anymore: their permits to enter Israel had been revoked because of a shooting in Tel Aviv by two Palestinian gunmen on Wednesday evening.

The family had nothing to do with the attack in Tel Aviv. But the Israeli government seemed to think otherwise when, just a few hours after the incident, it suspended the permits of 83,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza who had hoped to see distant family members, vacation in cities in Israel, and pray in Jerusalem during Ramadan. On the same day, the Israeli army sealed off the shooters’ hometown of Yatta near Hebron, trapping its 64,000 residents while soldiers raided homes in search of the attackers’ accomplices.

For many Israelis, these heavy responses are logical security measures: they can increase the chances of achieving operational goals, and deter others from committing similar attacks by demonstrating the severe consequences for such actions.

This approach, however, is abhorrently illegal and immoral – and simply doesn’t work. Collective punishment has been Israel’s main response to Palestinian altercations of any kind for decades, from demolishing the homes of Palestinian attackers’ families to imposing a blockade on 1.7 million people in the Gaza Strip. Yet all these policies have failed to dissuade Palestinians from resenting the occupation or from resisting it violently or nonviolently. If anything, they only refuel Palestinians’ antagonism, feed the cycle of violence, and make future attacks all the more likely.

The damaging effects of collective punishment are well known to many Israeli decision-makers. But in their unwillingness to address the conditions that fuel Palestinian violence (the occupation being a principal source of them, as Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai stated this week), they have stuck to the same oppressive policies of the past in order to contain...

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Nakba Day attests to the power of our grandparents’ stories

For young Palestinians, Nakba Day is dedicated to remembering the catastrophes that our grandparents went through. But with every passing year, we realize how much the day belongs to our catastrophes too.

My maternal grandfather was born in 1929. Although Alzheimer’s disease eroded his memory during the later years of his life, he had a surprising knack for recalling his experiences growing up in Haifa under the British mandate of Palestine. He described the open plains he crossed with friends to swim at the beach; the diplomats and missionaries who traveled through Haifa’s German Colony; and the port and railway that linked Palestine to other Arab cities and the Mediterranean region. Although he couldn’t remember that he had repeated these stories countless times before, I never grew tired of hearing them; they breathed life into a world I could only read about in books and gaze at through black-and-white photographs.

Like all Palestinians of his generation, my grandfather lost that world in 1948. At the time he was living in Tira and studying at a British school in Tulkarem, but when the war broke out he joined a local resistance group to fend off Zionist forces from the village. The armistice agreement made Tulkarem part of the Jordanian-ruled West Bank, while my grandfather was made an Israeli citizen in Tira. For 18 years he lived under Israeli military rule, watching the village’s lands being confiscated and used to build new Jewish settlements. When he wanted to leave the village, he had to get a permit. When he wanted to walk to a neighboring field, he had to be searched at a checkpoint.

Military rule ended in 1966, and my grandfather – by then a historian and a teacher – was able to explore the land again. But the country he remembered had changed. Hundreds of villages and their inhabitants had disappeared. The main road going up Haifa’s Carmel mountain was no longer known by the Arabic “Shere’ al-Jabal” but by its new Hebrew name “Derech Hatziyonut.” When Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza the following year, the soldiers who once guarded the entrance of Tira were now stationed near his old school in Tulkarem. The occupation was both a gift and a curse: it allowed my grandfather to reconnect with his Palestinian brethren, but at the cost of their subjugation under the same regime he had endured.

For young...

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A law banning torture in Israel? Don’t hold your breath

An anti-torture law currently being drafted by the Justice Ministry is not enough to fix an entire legal system that allows the practice to be used against an occupied population.

During its review session at the UN Committee Against Torture in Geneva on Wednesday, Israel’s representatives informed the committee that the Justice Ministry is drafting a bill that, for the first time, would explicitly enshrine torture as a crime under Israeli law. This appears to be a very positive development in a years-long battle to end Israel’s use of torture, championed by torture victims, human rights groups, and UN bodies.

Past experience, however, warns us not to be optimistic about this news. Israel ratified the Convention Against Torture in 1991, and many Israelis argue that the country’s domestic legal system already offers safeguards that ban torture – with some exceptions. A 1999 Supreme Court ruling supposedly regulated the practice, but the ruling actually provides loopholes for security agencies to employ torture methods under vaguely defined circumstances. Contrary to the wanton actions taken by sadistic regimes like in Syria, torture in Israel (both psychological and physical) is often carried out in a highly controlled and methodical manner, sugar-coated by terms like “moderate physical pressure” and justified by “necessity” and cases of “ticking bombs.”

Along with the court’s ruling, Israel has an array of legal and administrative tools that enable the use of torture. For example, a temporary order which has been repeatedly renewed since 2002 exempts the Shin Bet from making any kind of recordings during interrogations of “security” suspects; in other words, the security service has a carte blanche to torture detainees with no evidence to hold them to account. Knesset members have introduced further legislation, like the Anti-Terrorism Bill, which would enshrine various emergency regulations into official law and, by broadening the definition of what constitutes a “terrorist,” would grant the state more draconian powers. All the while, not a single criminal investigation has been opened into the use of torture by Israeli officers and interrogators, despite over 850 complaints filed since 2001.

So why, after 25 years of ignoring its obligation under the torture convention, is the Justice Ministry finally initiating an anti-torture law? Several factors are at play, but a major one has to do with recent domestic developments. Last December, Israel’s right wing was outraged by reports that the Jewish citizens...

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The tragic resilience of Israel’s unrecognized Arab villages

Abu Saleh, a 73-year-old farmer, speaks with a raspy but strong voice as he points to his crops. “Everything you see around you is food grown from my own land. These carrots, this zucchini, these olives…they are all part of my survival.” He lifts his head, his voice starting to shake with anger. “Now they want to tear down my home and remove me from my livelihood. They want to rip my heart from my land – just to put the heart of someone else.”

Abu Saleh is a resident of Ramiya, an Arab community of 50 families nestled within the Jewish city of Karmiel in northern Israel. The vast majority of visitors to Karmiel will never know that Ramiya exists at all: it is hidden behind a wall of clustered bushes, making it easily mistakable for forestation that was waiting to be cleared. From the main road, the only sign of the village’s existence is a wooden shack with a banner reading “Remaining in Ramiya” in Arabic and Hebrew next to an image of the Palestinian cartoon Handala stopping a bulldozer in its tracks.

Ramiya, which has been continuously populated since the Ottoman Empire, once encompassed nearly 600 dunams, or 150 acres, of agricultural land. But in 1976, the Israeli government seized most of the village’s property along with those of many other Arab villages across the Galilee. On March 30th of that year, thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel protested the sweeping confiscations in what became the first “Land Day,” a day of protest and commemoration marked every year since. The 1976 demonstrations, some of which were held not far from Ramiya, were brutally suppressed by Israeli police, who killed six Palestinian protesters and wounded scores more.

The confiscated land was used to build hundreds of new Jewish towns and cities in line with a national development plan called “the Judaization” of northern Israel. Karmiel, the city that surrounds Ramiya today, was established on land belonging to several Palestinian villages, including Ramiya. Today luxury apartments belonging to wealthy Jewish Israelis cover the area, with construction sites nearby breaking ground in preparation to build even more. “Israelis forget that we were not dropped onto Karmiel,” says Abu Saleh. “Karmiel was dropped onto us.”

For years the Karmiel Municipality has pressured its Palestinian residents to yield the remainder of their property and to relocate to another area...

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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