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Archive for category Free Palestine

ALERT TO MUSLIMS: Far-right Israelis vow to change status quo at Jerusalem holy sites – Middle East Eye.

Far-right Israelis vow to change status quo at Jerusalem holy sites



Many see the Israeli government’s volte face on metal detectors as a surrender

A Jewish worshipper sleeps next to his weapon near the Western Wall on Tisha B’Av in Jerusalem’s Old City, 1 August (Reuters)
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JERUSALEM – Where days before thousands of Palestinians had prayed in the streets around Jerusalem’s Old City in protests aimed at “defending” Al-Aqsa, last night Israeli flags flew and Israel’s deputy defence minister gave a speech calling for Israel to impose its “full authority” on the Temple Mount so that the temple could be rebuilt.

Police closed off the march’s route to Palestinians as around 300 people paraded through East Jerusalem. The march, organised annually for the past 23 years by Women in Green, a settler organisation, takes place on the eve of the Jewish Tisha B’Av festival, when Jews mourn the ancient destruction of the two temples.

Only when the temple is built will Jews be able to pray every hour and every day. No power in the world can stop the Jewish people, and we have to work to fulfil this vision

– Deputy Defence Minister Eli Ben Dahan

“This year the march has special significance because for the last weeks we have unfortunately undergone such humiliation by the enemy,” Nadia Matar, co-chair of Women in Green, told Middle East Eye.

“The entire saga of those metal detectors was a horrendous feeling of victory for the enemy against our own government and we are very disappointed,” she said.

The depth of hurt and anger that Israel’s religious right feels after the events of the last few weeks were on full display.

“This year we got a reminder, after the terrible things that happened with the Arabs, that not everything yet is ours… and all of a sudden we understood how important it is to walk here,” Matar later told the marchers.

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Palestinians stand alone in al-Aqsa battle

“Every place we walk is yours, we are walking, and we are going to save Jerusalem.”  

The Israeli government installed metal detectors at the entrance to Jerusalem’s most sensitive religious site after three Palestinian citizens of Israel shot and killed two Israeli police officers on 14 July at the site.

The move was seen as a violation of the status quo by the city’s Palestinians, and two weeks of street protests followed. The metal detectors were removed on 27 July.

Metal detector removal seen as ‘surrender’

A Channel 2 poll broadcast on 25 July showed that 77 percent of Israelis characterised the removal of the metal detectors as a “surrender”.

It was a view echoed in a speech given by Likud politician Yehuda Glick, a prominent temple advocate, who called on the government to stand by the “values of the people”.

“The war against us is behind those walls,” Glick said, referring to the Old City of Jerusalem. “The establishment of the state of Israel and the capture of Judea and Samaria was achieved by people who decided to go against logic and political considerations. Now we have to make our control over the Temple Mount a fact.”

Far-right Israelis and foreigners gather to listen to speeches at Lion’s Gate on Monday evening (MEE/Lubna Masarwa)

Eli Ben Dahan, deputy minister for defence, called for the temple to be rebuilt. Citing a portion of the Torah that talked about the renewal of the Jewish people, he said, “This will only happen if we have full authority on the Temple Mount.”

“Only when the temple is built will Jews be able to pray every hour and every day. No power in the world can stop the Jewish people, and we have to work to fulfil this vision.” 

“It’s not only enough to have sovereignty on paper, we demand from our government to implement its sovereignty and to show who’s boss,” Matar said.

As far as I’m concerned, the Palestinian people are a myth

– Ari Gold, Canadian Jew

Attendees at the march that Middle East Eye spoke to did not have any sympathy for the Palestinian refusal to accept the metal detectors.

“The metal detectors were just an excuse for unrest, the Palestinians should have walked through them like I do when I go to the Kotel,” said Yechiel Goldstein, referring to the Western Wall.

“If the Palestinians can play nice, they’re welcome to stay, but otherwise they should go.”

“As far as I’m concerned, the Palestinian people are a myth,” said Ari Gold, a Canadian. “They’re very good at PR, and they made a lot of fuss over the metal detectors, but it’s all a nonsense.”

The status quo

When asked if the violence that had ensued made him nervous about what could happen if the “status quo” at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif compound was changed, he said the status quo was to blame.

“The status quo allowed them to bring a pistol and kill two people. Why are they arguing about metal detectors, because they want to bring more weapons up there?”

The status quo is the delicate agreement that has governed the religious site since Ottoman times, but firmed up after Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967.

Right-wing lawmaker Yehuda Glick (L) with Deputy Defence Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (MEE/Lubna Masarwa)

While Israel retains control over access to the site, the site itself is under the control of the Waqf, a Jordanian religious trust.

Palestinian fears that Israel is attempting to change the status quo at the site have driven previous outbreaks of violence, such as riots in 2014, and the unrest that spiralled into a round of widespread attacks on Israelis in 2015.

The Second Intifada started in 2000 when then opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited the site.

God brought us to the land of Israel, we are strong, and we will overcome all the difficulties in our path

– Yehuda Glick, Likud politician

These fears have grown worse recently against the background of rising popularity of temple activism amongst some Jews. Traditional orthodoxy held that Jews were forbidden from visiting the Temple Mount, but increasing numbers have ascended in recent years.

On Tuesday morning alone, 1,042 Jews visited the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif compound, a single-day record, according to the Jerusalem Post. Another visiting period will be take place this afternoon.

Numbers have increased from 14,000 visitors in the last Hebrew year, to more than 17,500 this year, with six weeks still remaining, according to the Jerusalem Post.

So, while the crisis at Jerusalem’s most sensitive site looks over for now, the dynamics that produced it are still in place, and growing in magnitude. 

The speakers at the march last night were certainly not backing down.

“The locals have a feeling of victory,” Glick, the Likud MK, said, referring to the Palestinians. “But it is temporary. God brought us to the land of Israel, we are strong, and we will overcome all the difficulties in our path.”

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.


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What happened to the Arab peace plan? By Tariq A. Al Maeena, Special to Gulf News

What happened to the Arab peace plan?

It remains to be seen whether the people of Israel will rise and demand that their leaders stop the debauchery and give peace a genuine chance

By Tariq A. Al Maeena, Special to Gulf News
Published: 16:46 March 5, 2016

Gulf News

In 2002, the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who was then the crown prince, told a visiting journalist from the United States that he was prepared to accept a peace plan with the Israelis and would do all within his power to ensure that all other Arab states followed suit. Abdullah, who was the de facto ruler of the country, owing to a debilitating stroke that had sidelined his brother, King Fahd, was very blunt about his willingness for full peace and normalisation of relations with Israel by all 22 Arab states, in return for Israel’s full withdrawal from all occupied lands and creation of a Palestinian state.

He followed up on his word by summoning an Arab League summit, which was convened that same year in Beirut to forward his proposal to all the other Arab countries and push for acceptance of his resolve for a final, just and lasting peace. The Council of Arab States at the Summit Level, at its 14th Ordinary Session, adopted the Saudi-inspired peace plan.

Abdullah’s proposal called for full Israeli withdrawal from all Arab territories occupied since June 1967, in implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, reaffirmed by the Madrid Conference of 1991 and the land-for-peace principle, and Israel’s acceptance of an independent Palestinian state with occupied East Jerusalem as its capital, in return for the establishment of normal relations in the context of comprehensive peace with Israel.

Abdullah had spelled out clearly that a military solution to the conflict would not achieve peace or provide security for the parties, nor would it be in the interest of the people in the region — both Israelis and Arabs. The fact that he managed to get a commitment from all Arab states on the specifics of his proposal was a remarkable step in the right direction.

The specifics of what eventually would be called the ‘Arab Peace Plan’ requested Israel to reconsider its policies and declare that a just peace was its strategic option as well. It also called for full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4, 1967, lines as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon and the realisation of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem, to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.

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The freedom to censure selectively By Tariq A. Al Maeena





The Israelis who are losing ground in their war to stifle the reality on the ground in Gaza and the West Bank have now turned their sights to suppress the truth on university campuses in the US

By Tariq A. Al Maeena, Special to Gulf News
Published: 16:50 December 12, 2015

George Washington University (GWU) is a private, coeducational research institute located in the United States capital of Washington D.C. It was established in 1821 by a Congressional act, fulfilling the vision of the country’s first president, George Washington, to create an institution in the nation’s capital dedicated to educating and preparing future leaders.

Today, GWU is the largest institution for higher education in the district of Columbia. With more than 26,000 students from the US and 130 other countries studying a range of subjects from medicine, public health, the law and public policy to international affairs and computer engineering, the university is placed at the core of US government, policy and law.

From its strategic location, the university sits where the worlds of science, technology, media and the arts converge. It boasts of students and faculty having “unparalleled opportunity to study and work alongside leaders and practitioners in every discipline, to take part in the interchanges that shape our community and the world”.

In their stated commitment, GWU claims to work hard and “provide an environment where knowledge is created and acquired and where creative endeavours seek to enrich the experiences of the global society”. Their academic programmes and research initiatives “allow our students, our faculty and our staff to look at the world beyond the classroom. They allow us to prepare the next generation of leaders”.

images-1This university, named after the country’s founding father, has taken a decision that totally contradicts its vision. In late October this year, a 20-year-old pre-medical American student, Ramie Abounaja, was in his room, studying, when a university police officer barged in and demanded that Ramie remove a Palestinian flag from his dorm window, with administrators claiming that the flag violated their housing code, even though there were countless other national flags hanging from dorm rooms there. Ramie said that the officer had told him that the department had received “multiple complaints” about a Palestinian flag hanging from outside his window and that he would not leave until the flag was removed. Shocked and intimidated, Ramie gave in to the demand without protest.

Less than a week later, the university’s Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities upped the pressure on Ramie by threatening him with future disciplinary action even though he complied with the police order. In a letter addressed to Ramie, GWU officials stated, “This letter serves as a warning that this behaviour is a violation of the ‘Code of Student Conduct’ and/or the Resident Community Conduct Guidelines. As a member of the larger residential community, we hope that you will be respectful of your peers and be aware of your behaviour. The act of an individual has a profound impact on the community … Subsequent reports naming you as a subject may result in disciplinary action taken by the university”.

Ramie, an outspoken student for Palestinian rights was certain that he was a victim to subjective ‘punishment and selective and discriminatory application of the [university] housing code’. He said: “To be criminalised in front of my roommate and have others around the hall open their doors to see what was happening was uncalled for and unexpected. I felt like I was being singled out, because of my heritage and the viewpoint of my speech, for something I’ve seen dozens of students, fraternities and other student groups do in my three years at GW.”

Citing the selective targeting of Ramie, because of his Palestinian background, civil rights organisations took up the cause and said that the order for the removal of the flag was “a violation of free speech principles, underscoring the growing attempt to outlaw and punish pro-Palestinian speech on the nation’s campuses”. They pointed out to the multitude of other national flags hanging out of dorm windows and none of those students was chastised for such an act.











Image Credit: AFP



Palestinian Legal, a US civil rights advocacy organisation, took up Ramie’s cause and demanded an explanation from the authorities. It eventually resulted in an apology to Ramie from none other than the president of GWU, who admitted that the student was a victim of a “flawed process”.

But the incident at GWU is not the first of its kind as asserted by Palestinian Legal. A report titled ‘The Palestinian Exception to Free Speech’ was released by the group earlier in the year, which documents how pro-Israel campus groups and alumni with backings from certain lobbies “have intensified their efforts to stifle criticism of Israeli government policies. Rather than engage such criticism on its merits, these groups leverage their significant resources and lobbying power to pressure universities, government actors and other institutions to censor or punish advocacy in support of Palestinian rights”.

The Israelis who are losing ground in their war to stifle the reality on the ground in Gaza and the West Bank have now turned their sights to suppress the truth on US campuses. Last September, the University of California Board of Regents, with prominent political backing from Zionist sympathisers, proposed a resolution that would label any student supportive of the ‘Boycott Israel’ movement or saying anything critical of Israel as “anti-Semitic” and subject them to possible suspension or even expulsion.

Such is the twisted track of the freedom of speech in the land of the free.

Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. You can follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@talmaeena

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