Horses, border police, loads of other police and the usual police camera crew were there when some hundred people from Jaffa gathered today in the Gazan'z Park to protest the continued closure of the Gaza strip as well as have a memorial for Gaza's over 400 murdered children.
Rappers "System Ali" (from Jaffa, rap in Arabic, Hebrew and Russian) set the tone.
Placards with the names and ages of some of the children were attached to the trees as were rather macabre shrouded dolls.
Saturday, January 31
Horses, border police, loads of other police and the usual police camera crew were there when some hundred people from Jaffa gathered today in the Gazan'z Park to protest the continued closure of the Gaza strip as well as have a memorial for Gaza's over 400 murdered children.
Today at 15.00 o'clock in Gan HaShnayim (which will from now onwill be called "Gan Ha'azatim" (Park of the people form Gaza) at the corner of Ehrlich and Yefet Street.
In the past the taxis from Gaza used to stop at this corner to let of passengers from Gaza and take on passengersform Jaffa. In 1948 many of Jaffa's 120.000 Palestinians were expelled to the Gaza strip. As a result, there are exetensive family ties between the two places.
After 1967 trffic became possible and people came and went. There were many marriages in both "directions", which led to even more family ties.
The horrid war on Gaza left Jaffa in pan as well: the Jaffa based Samouni family lost some 30 of its family memebers in Gaza, and they are not the only family to have suffered awful losses.
Today we will return the park's old name in memory of the murdered children from Gaza.
System Ali will perform as will many other perfomrance artists from Jaffa and beyond:
No against the conltinued closer of the Gaza strip
Yes to peace and cooperation
We don't want to be enemies!
Saturday, January 24
It doesn't stop to amaze me how easily the Israeli people have been duped into justifying the most atrocious acts by the all encompassing propaganda machine. Some made statements such as "a pity they didn't kill more children" and that sort of comments. Israeli society is very sick.
Today at 12.00 at the clock tower square in Jaffa there will be a demo to protest the continued blockade of the Gaza strip and to demand a criminal investigation of the Israeli war criminals
Sunday, January 18
A week prior to the meeting Omar had informed the council's secretary of his intent to speak in Arabic and that it might be a good idea to provide simultaneous translation during the meeting, as perhaps not all council members are able to understand Arabic. A day before the Jaffa list offices sent another reminder to the municipality.
The answer came by phone: the legal counsel of the municipality said there was no need to provide Omar with translation, as he knows Hebrew, obviously completely missing the point, that indeed, Omar knows both languages, but not all council members know Arabic.
Of course there was no simultaneous translation during the session and the meeting protocol only stated that Omar had spoken in Arabic, but there was no translation nor any other relation to the content of what he had said during the meeting.
In fact Omar stated in Arabic that the citizens of Jaffa, when they come to receive services from the municipality, they cannot do so in Arabic, although many of them have problems reading and understanding Hebrew bureaucrateese, that very special language developed by burocrats for their various darkish purposes.
Omar sent a letter of protest to Ron Huldai, the mayor and the council members, informing them the protocol did not represent what he had stated.
After an article was published in Ynet (in Hebrew) about the event a few days ago, all hell broke loose: some 300+ "talk backs", most of them of a blatantly racist nature and very few remarks really dealing with the topic.
But ex-minister of education, Limor Livnat, intends to take things even a little further, stating she wants to make a new law according to which Arabic will no longer be an official language of the state, next to Hebrew.
Sometimes numbers say a lot:
Gaza 1.300 dead as of today
Israel 13 dead as of today
Each one has a name.
Each one is missed by family, friends, neighbors
They all have the same red blood.
They are all people
PLEASE, STOP THE WAR NOW, PLEASE
Saturday, January 17
Something happened in Jaffa today. Something which is beyond the thousands who marched to protest against the war in the Gaza strip.
In 1948 the very large majority of Jaffa's 120.000 people strong Palestinian population was expelled, many in fact to the Gaza strip, others to Lebanon. The 3.200 who stayed behind were pressured into a position of "being quiet", not raising their voices.
No longer so.
Today the people of Jaffa raised their voices, loudly and clearly. Many have not heard form their Gaza relatives for days, others received messages of how their Gazan family members have been butchered by the IDF. How the wounded cannot receive treatment because there is no way of getting them into a hospital. How the IDF shoots at medical crews and ambulances. How one of Gaza's few hospitals was bombed and burnt out, no longer functional. And in Jaffa we refuse to be silent. Thousands marched through Jafa's rainy and dark streets in protest against the war, from the Charles Clore Park to the HaShnayim park, where two minutes of silence were observed, chanting for an immediate stop to the war for the sake of the children of both countries.
And on a more ominous tone: Some of the police man guarding the demo were masked. I wonder what this implies. Trying to see how we react to it?
And towards the end of the demo something weird happened. A guy with a camera posing as a writer for the NYT tried to interview me. By his line of questioning and the way he formulated his questions, it became soon quite clear there is little connection between him and the NYT. It seems more like he's from arutz 7 or other ultra right wing rag, sort of "under cover in the dangerous streets of Jaffa". Pathetic.
*Our Town Burns
Author and Composer: Mordkhaï Gebirtig (1877-1942)
It burns, brothers, it burns!
Our poor shtetl pitifully burning,
Angry wind with rage and curses
Tears and shatters and disperses,
Wild flames leap, they twist and turn,
Everything now burns!
עס ברענט (גיבירטיג)
Es brent! Briderlekh, s'brent!
Oy undzer orem shtetl, nebokh, brent!
Beyze vintn mit yirgozn
Raysn brekhn un tzeblozn
Shtarker nokh di vilde flamen,
Alts arum shoyn brent!
The Hirsch Centre in Jaffa is a special early childhood development centre providing services to Jaffa's youngest: testing, communication and play therapy, parents' groups and more. The centre treats over 1500 young children from Jaffa annually.
The municipality has decided to cut its budget by 50%, stating the different health-funds will make up for the rest. During the preparatory budget meeting the municipal representative even stated they already had a contract with all major health-funds and were about to close contracts with the others.
If the municipality had a Pinocchio nose, it would be very long now indeed.
The municipality closed a contract with exactly ONE health-fund, the tiny "Leumit", which insures about 2-3 % of Jaffa's population and on average refers 1 child per year (out of 1.500 children treated annually at the centre) to the Hirsh Centre!.
They are not even close to making deals with the other centres who have stated they absolutely refuse to do so according to the centers general manager, Ms. Amal Tatour.
Moreover, if they refer a child the parents first have to pay a fee 0f 150 NIS per hour for which they will get, after payment, a partial refund of 100 NIS. Thus every hour will cost the parent 50 NIS, which is a lot when you raise 3 kids on welfare of e.g. 2000 NIS a month!.
In addition, the healthfund will limit the amount of sessions to about 10-15, even if the child needs more.
The implication is clear: poor parents cannot afford this kind of necessary service for their young children and will not take their kids under these circumstances. At an age when many development problems can be preveted Jaffa's young children from weakened families, will not receive the necessary treatment.
This by itself is a major infringement upon the human rights of these children.
But the danger is larger than that, amal Tatour pointed out: As the majority of the Jaffa population are poor, people wil stop coming to the center. The municipality will conclyude there is no need for the services, as their will be no clients and the center will probably be closed in another few years.
The municipality points out that in other neighborhoods the services in these centers are paid for by the health funds and the population, but Tel Aviv is rich, and Jaffa is poor. So that comparison doesn't go very well.
In Jaffa the drop-out rate from the Arab public schools is 53%. And preventing drop out starts at a young age: if dyslexia and attention span disorders etc. are detected and dealt with at a young age, much suffering at a later age can be prevented.
The proposed budget cut raises serious questions.
Perhaps the municipality LIKES to keep the Jaffa population poor and voiceless?
We will convene in the Charles Clore Park (the southern beach park of Tel Aviv, just north of Jaffa) at 18.30 and march' along Yefet street, to the "Gan HaShnaym Park", where we will observe a minute of silence in memory of the victims. As of now, there are almost 1200 dead in the Gaza strip.
Sir Gerald Kaufman in the British House of Commmons: They are not simply war criminals; they are fools.
Here a slightly abridged version of the statement that Sir Gerald Kaufman made in the House of Commons on January 15:
I was brought up as an orthodox Jew and a Zionist. On a shelf in our kitchen, there was a tin box for the Jewish National Fund, into which we put coins to help the pioneers building a Jewish presence in Palestine.
I first went to Israel in 1961 and I have been there since more times than I can count. I had family in Israel and have friends in Israel. One of them fought in the wars of 1956, 1967 and 1973 and was wounded in two of them. The tie clip that I am wearing is made from a campaign decoration awarded to him, which he presented to me.
I have known most of the Prime Ministers of Israel, starting with the founding Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Golda Meir was my friend, as was Yigal Allon, Deputy Prime Minister, who, as a general, won the Negev for Israel in the 1948 war of independence.
My parents came to Britain as refugees from Poland. Most of their families were subsequently murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust. My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town of Staszow. A German soldier shot her dead in her bed.
My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza. The current Israeli Government ruthlessly and cynically exploit the continuing guilt among gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians….
On Sky News a few days ago, the spokeswoman for the Israeli army, Major Leibovich, was asked about the Israeli killing of, at that time, 800 Palestinians- the total is now 1,000. She replied instantly that “500 of them were militants.”
That was the reply of a Nazi. I suppose that the Jews fighting for their lives in the Warsaw ghetto could have been dismissed as militants….
However many Palestinians the Israelis murder in Gaza, they cannot solve this existential problem by military means. Whenever and however the fighting ends, there will still be 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza and 2.5 million more on the West Bank. They are treated like dirt by the Israelis, with hundreds of road blocks and with the ghastly denizens of the illegal Jewish settlements harassing them as well. The time will come, not so long from now, when they will outnumber the Jewish population in Israel.
It is time for our Government to make clear to the Israeli Government that their conduct and policies are unacceptable, and to impose a total arms ban on Israel. It is time for peace, but real peace, not the solution by conquest which is the Israelis’ real goal but which it is impossible for them to achieve. They are not simply war criminals; they are fools.
Here’s the url:
Friday, January 16
The anti-war coalition will hold a large demonstration tomorrow (saturday) in Jaffa. We will meet at 18. 30 in the Charles Clore park, just north of Jaffa's Clock Tower Square.
We will walk towards the "Gan HaShnayim" park at the corner of Yefet and Ehrlich streets, where we will observe a minute of silence in memory of the victims.
The demonstration has been organized by a coalition of over 30 anti-war and peace movements from all over the country.
Thursday, January 15
Tuesday, January 13
Free elections and the right to be a candidate and to vote for all adults, free press/media, the freedom to organize and to demonstrate, an independent judicial system, although the religious courts (Rabbinical, Shariya and church run) who influence a fairly large part of our personal lives, never were democratic nor pretended to be so and one of course needs to question the laws against family unification for Israelis marrying spouses form the occupied territories and the problematic behaviour of quite a few employees of the ministry of the interior. Israel more or less met most demands for being called a democracy. No longer so.
And yes, democracies have their limits. After all, history has shown an ultra extremist party can be democratically elected and then cancel all democratic rights. As such, it makes sense for a democracy to have certain limits in order to protect its very core value: democracy, freedom if you like. And i like freedom very much.
Israel has tried, in the past, to be a democracy of sorts. And i do not say this lightly. However, the basic criteria for a democratic state are no longer met.
The "election council" (Vaadat habhirot, ועדת הבחירות) yesterday decided to prevent to 2 parties from participating in the coming elections: Balad and Ra'am Tal. The decision was made with a large majority vote, which incluided support from such parties as the labour party and Kadima.
It should be mentioned that some of the top functionaries in the labour party apparently did not agree with labour chair person Eitan Kabel's decision to vote in favour of the cancellation.
But a very ugly truth is out, clearly and openly. Israel is not a democracy. Palestinian and Jewish Israelis are prevented from making progress towards true democracy by means of parties that believe in the concept of " a state for all its citizens מדינת כל אזרחיה ". These parties are not allowed to participate in the upcoming elections which are supposed to take place on february the 10th, about 4 weeks from now.
There is an inherent contradiction in the concept of a "democratic Jewish State". To put it simply: in a democratic state all are equal. It does not matter whether one is Jewish, Muslim or Christian or of no religion or belongs to whatever ethnic group. And if one ethnic group becomes larger than another, it does not matter. Ethnicity does not play a role. All are equal, and if people from "other" ethnic groups wish to migrate to the country and if they meet the regular criteria an other country has in regards to providing visas (no criminal record, the ability to provide for oneself, not suffering from very serious and dangerous diseases which might harm public health or by marriage etc) they can do so.
There has been extensive and shameless talk in Israel about "the demographic danger". What they mean by that is "what of there will be inside Israel more Arabs than Jews?". Quite obviously in such a situation, there no longer would be a Jewish majority state. And this is what scares many people in Israel. And i can understand the feeling of fear, it is based on a long history of violent antii-semitism. Yet i cannot justify the consequences of this fear.
IF Israel wants to be a democracy, it needs to consider its ethnic multi-cultural character as well as its history of colonialism. It needs to ask questions about zionism and the naqba. It needs to wonder about immigration rights and the civil status of minority groups. Questions need to be asked about inter-religious marriage. Solutions need to be found.
Yesterday's vote indicates quite clearly that Israel is no willing to do so. Israel is not willing to be a true democracy and to face the serious questions and demands posed by a growing Palestinian minority that has become politicised and acutely aware of its rights and the continuing discrimination it faces.
I expect yesterday's shameless decision to be undone by the Israeli supreme court, and both parties will probably participate in the elections and have their representatives in the next kneset. Yet never has it been more clear: there is a contradiction between a sole ethnic based state and democracy.
And if we are unwilling to face that contradiction, we will -quickly- become a non-democratic state. Yesterday a big step was made into that direction.
Monday, January 12
Last week and elderly Palestinian woman donning traditional garb was attacked by people in a Dan bus in nearby Bat Yam. Her "crime"? She looks Muslim. When she tried to escape her attackers, the bus driver would not let her off the bus. She had the courage to file a complaint, but many other victims of this type of violence, which has become quite common, are not as courageous, or simply do not complain because they have no expectations from the Israel police.
Many of my friends have complained of similar events, especially women wearing a hijab. Some of the Israeli public are showing their hate openly. And they appear to receive silent support of many in their surroundings.
Palestinians employed by the Tel Aviv municipality cannot freely voice their concerns as they are being silenced by their colleagues and even threatened with dismissal. Another veiled employee was asked by her boss to wear her Islamic head-cover in a different style, as the "clients would be less scared of her" that way.
I am not implying everyone is as racist and hateful as described above, but i am talking about more than a few isolated cases. Many women from Jaffa are scared to go into Tel Aviv or Bat Yam as a result.
It appears we are entering a very dark age.
They were investigated by a police woman called Oshrat, who claimed they trespassed clause 151 of the penal code. Nothing we did was in fact illegal. But they want to scare us into keeping silent.
So much for Israeli "democracy". There was nothing illegal in yesterday's silent vigil. No speeches, no shouting,no one crossed the street in an unlawful manner.
It's quite clear they try to scare us into keeping silent, not doing anything that might be seen as disagreeing to what the "leaders" decide.
The right t demonstrate is a basic right. But the police do not recognize it. What ever is left of Israeli democracy has become a farce. Our most basic rights are being trampled. They want to scare us into silence.
Saturday, January 10
At first there were perhaps some 10-15 of us. A few with burning torches, others carrying images of the children, Gaza's children, murdered by the IDF.
But along the streets of Jaffa more and more people joined us, many of the children and elderly, who never before participated in something even slightly political. They were silent as well. At the little park, today named after "the two" "Gan HaShnayim, but originally it was called the "Gazans' Garden, the two groups joined and all lighted candles and we just stood, silently.
What can one say when the little ones are murdered?
How can we stop this?
More and more people joined in spontaneously, standing silently with us, for about perhaps an hour in the dark Jaffa night. There were perhaps a 70-100 of us. Lighting candles, standing in silence. I saw tears in the eyes of some. The children, normally playful and smiling, were sad and held their candles and torches solemnly. The police came, but did not intervene.
Friday, January 9
Buses will leave from Jaffa's "HaShnayim" park (on the corner of Yefet and Ehrlich street, the littwe park also known as "the Gazans' Park") at 13.00 in order to go to Baka ElGarbiya where a big anti war demo will be held at 15.00 today.
Wednesday, January 7
Intissar's case has been taken up by the law clinic of Tel Aviv University's faculty of law and today Intissar goes to court to fight her case.
She will be represented by lawyers Ora Blum and Dori Spivak of the law clinic.
The case has been prepared by the lawyers and law students of the clinic.
Since the first publication of the story, Intissar has married and a few weeks ago she gave birth to her first son. She's worried about appearing in court today, but very much wants to put up a fight.
Intissar was placed outside of her home when she was still a baby, as her parents were not able to care for her. Her father, who died a few years ago, was addicted to drugs and made debts all around. The debts were passed on to his children.
Intissar's father registered his phone in Intissar's name when she was 2 years old and living with a foster family . The phone company never bothered to check, and ofcourse the father didn't pay the bill. The phone was cut off after a big debt had been run up. When Intissar was 12 years old, Bezeq, the phone company, took out their first debt arrest against the little girl, who wasn't aware of it. In fact, none of us knew about it until the clinic started to investigate the case. The amazing thing is that also the judge didn't bother to check nor ask questions, before he gave the arrest warrant although he did use the words "Intissar or her ward" so he must have paid attention to the fact the she was a very young child at the time.
So, this morning she'll be in court. Updates later on.
Tuesday, January 6
People lighted candles and observed a minute of silence in memory of the victims, especially the 45 people killed today by the IDF, mostly children and women who took refuge in an UNWRA school, after their homes had been destroyed or after it had become impossible to sat in them any longer.
"Stop the killing of children" read many of the placards carried by the participants.
The police had constructed an enormous double-fenced cage for the demonstrators to stand any, caged like animals.
Many people in Jaffa have family in Gaza. Many have not been able to talk to each other since the war started, but some of the news has reached us. One neighbour lost her sister and the sister's 17 year old son. A younger daughter has been wounded.
The conditions in Gaza's "Shifa" hospital, after yesterday's bombing are terrible: There is a lack of everything and too many wounded for the exhausted staff. The failing electricity, the lack of drugs and surgical gloves as well as the lack of anesthetics make professional medical care close to impossible. Ambulances have been shot at, their staff killed or badly wounded.
This stupid violence will not lead to anything except more hate. If i were religious i guess i would pray for it to end. But i'm not, and all i can do is tell our story. And show you some of what is going on. And i want to scream it out:
PLEASE, stop killing the children
Saturday, January 3
From Jaffa we left in 2 fully packed buses and many cars, carrying placards, flags and banners. Others from Jaffa came directly from the big demo which had been held earlier that day in Sakhnin.
The atmosphere in the bus was quite tense and sad.
In the bus information was provided what to do if you get arrested. Names and phone numbers of whom to contact in case you are arrested or someone you know has been arrested' so lawyers can be contacted immediately.
We knew the police had allowed the ultra-right wing lunatics to hold a demo as well, in the very same area, so there was potential for problems and violence. MK's Jamal Zakhalka and Dov Khenin were present.
Most of the demo went peacefully along Ibn Gvirol Boulevard. People shouted slogans against the war and placed the responsibility where it lays: the Israeli government of war criminals.
Yet at some point Gerardo Leibner, one of the protesters, was hit in the face by one of the lunatics protesting on the side. And when we were walking back another one threw eggs at us. Well fresh eggs are said to make a good hairconditioner, so perhaps one should say "thanks"?
A huge demo is currently taking place in Sakhnin (in Israel's north). From what i heard just now somewhere way over 100.000 people are walking the streets of Sakhnin, protesting the war Israel wages angainst Gaza and Israel's war crimes.
Posted by yudit at 3:07 p.m.
Friday, January 2
The official Israeli information is untrustworthy to put it mildly. The information on the following sites is gathered from various NGO's in the Gaza strip and in Israel by Israeli human rights organizations.
For updated info in English
The same in Hebrew
And a blog from Gaza: Tales to Tell
Humanitarian info from OCHA
Civilians in the south of Israel are being held captive by a government which lies to them and abuses them. Destruction and death in Gaza will not ensure their future, but rather lead to more violence and killings.
Join us in protest tomorrow Saturday, 3.1.2009, in Tel Aviv. Together we will call out:
In these dark days, let us stick to our message:
Our demand: A full truce and the lifting of the siege on Gaza NOW!
We meet at the corner of Frishman St. and Khen Boulevard in Tel Aviv at 18:30
Buses will leave from Jaffa from "Gan HaShnaym", the little park at the corner of Yefet and Ehrlich street at 17.00
Thursday, January 1
Today i read an amusing article in Ha'aretz, about a bunch of students and others, many from an Anglo-Saxon background, who have organized a kind of group reacting to left -wing and human rights blogs and spreading their very own branch of gutter b*s.
The article in Ha'aretz refers to their several websites, full of the type of komsomol language previously seen in stalinist publications. They are quite amusing as a matter of fact (if you're into that type of humour, hell, these guys take themselves seriously).
The terms they use to describe themselves are incredibly militaristic and pathetic, they just love the macho image they have created for themselves. I can just imagine them sitting cramped of their keyboards, perhaps munching "loof" in order to truly feel part of the effort. Maybe i am being unfair, should one wish one's enemy to munch on loof? Might that be considered a crime against humanity? Beteavon guys!
I guess this pretty much explains the presence of that inflation of right-wing commenters who have suddenly turned up commenting on this blog. I doubt very much they belong to my regular five and a half readers. Let's call them "Jakes" from now on in "honour" of one of the first of their bunch to turn up on this blog. Jake, you have become a noun, mazal tov!
The Jakes' often extremely racist and fascist views (in some cases i have selected not to publish their verbal diarhea) are so much lacking in argumentation and sound knowledge of even very basic facts, that they become quite amusing as commenter Mohamad pointed out and giving me a good laugh.
But at the same time i don't really want to waste my time on the "Jakey" type of stuff, so there will be a few rules from now on for commenters to this blog:
Different views are very welcome as long as they are put in non-discriminatory terms and observing basic rules of civility.
Racist remarks towards ethnic or religious minorities will be not admissible.
(As to the real Jakes: sorry guys, i have nothing against your name, honestly, you should blame the first Jake who happened to turn up in this blog)
As to another subtype of the Jakey kind, the craigs, who mostly seem to copy paste very long song text-like comments perhaps in hope people will give up reading comments, i will use the dreaded scissor tool impliying: plz keep your comments short and to the point, no need to repeat yourself ad nauseam.
*loof is something that comes in IDF food rations. There are a rumours it contains meat. It's most useful for removing rust. Feeding it the the enemy even when hungry is probably against the Geneva Convention on Human Rights or so. Sources reported it is fed by the shabak to their prisoners. i don't believe that, i mean even the shabak... no they couldn't, they wouldn't, now would they?
Oops, the Shabak, it's the internal security forces inside Israel and the occupied territories. There is a special law that allows them to use "medium pressure" on the people they question. In other countries this is known as "torture".