Thursday, February 23, 2012

We do make a difference in exposing the horrors of war and especially the atrocities that befall civilians.

In November 2010, St Bride's Church – the "journalists' church" on Fleet Street – held a service to commemorate reporters, cameramen and support staff killed while covering the conflicts of the 21st century's first decade. Marie Colvin delivered the address. In it, she said:

"Just last week, I had a coffee in Afghanistan with a photographer friend, Joao Silva. We talked about the terror one feels and must contain when patrolling on an embed with the armed forces through fields and villages in Afghanistan... putting one foot in front of the other, steeling yourself each step for the blast. The expectation of that blast is the stuff of nightmares. Two days later, Joao stepped on a mine and lost both legs. Many of you here must have asked, or be asking now, is it worth the cost in lives, heartbreak, loss? Can we really make a difference? I faced that question when I [lost an eye in Sri Lanka]. One paper ran a headline saying, 'has Marie Colvin gone too far this time'? My answer then, and now, was that it is worth it. Today in this church are friends, colleagues and families who know what I am talking about, and bear the cost of those experiences, as do their families and loved ones. We must also remember how important it is that news organisations continue to invest in sending us out at great cost, both financial and emotional, to cover stories. We go to remote war zones to report what is happening. The public have a right to know what our government, and our armed forces, are doing in our name. Our mission is to speak the truth to power... We can and do make a difference in exposing the horrors of war and especially the atrocities that befall civilians."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Jerusalem Christians are latest targets in recent spate of 'price tag' attacks

"Death to the Arabs" outside the bilingual school. 

Nir Hasson, Haaretz, February 21, 2012.
"Price tag" graffiti was spray-painted in Jerusalem again Sunday night, with vandals this time targeting a downtown church.

The attack on the Narkis Street Baptist Congregation marks the latest in a series of price tag attacks that have targeted Muslim, Christian and leftist institutions in the capital over the last two months. But police believe most of the vandalism is not the work of an organized group; rather, they say, the spray-painted slogans are largely copycat actions carried out by lone individuals.

The original price tag attacks, in contrast, were thought to be the work of a group of settlers seeking to set a "price tag" on house demolitions in the settlements via retaliatory attacks on Palestinians and/or Israeli soldiers.

The attacks during the past two months have included the torching of cars belonging to Arab residents of Jerusalem's Kiryat Moshe neighborhood; spray-painting slogans on a Christian cemetery on Mount Zion; spray-painting slogans on Peace Now's office in the capital, as well as the house of Peace Now activist Hagit Ofran; threats against Peace Now secretary general Yariv Oppenheimer; and an arson attack on an ancient mosque in the city's Geula neighborhood. Over the last week alone, a bilingual school and two churches have been vandalized, including the Baptist church vandalized Sunday.

In both church attacks, the vandals spray-painted slogans denouncing Christianity, Jesus and Mary, such as "Jesus is dead," "Death to Christianity" and "Mary was a prostitute." They also included the by-now customary "price tag" slogan.

The Jerusalem police said they have arrested several suspects in this spate of attacks, including one for the attacks on Peace Now and one for the vandalism of the bilingual school. The latter suspect, arrested last week, said he vandalized the school to avenge the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team's loss to two Arab teams two weeks ago, according to police. Police believe that many of the other attacks are similarly motivated by ordinary hooliganism, rather than ideology.

"It's intolerably easy," one senior Jerusalem police officer said. "Any child can take a spray can and spray it, and people know it will be broadcast. Not every case is really nationalistic."

But to victims, the motive is irrelevant. Jerusalem's Christian community increasingly feels under assault, and that is especially true for Christians living in Jewish neighborhoods. Priests in the Old City, especially Armenian priests who must often transit the Jewish Quarter, say they are spat on almost daily.

"It's almost impossible to pass through Jaffa Gate without this happening," said a senior priest at one Jerusalem church.

The spitting has become so prevalent that some priests have simply stopped going to certain parts of the Old City.

The Baptist church has been attacked twice before: It was torched in 1982 and again in 2007. "We mainly feel sad" about the attacks, said the church's pastor, Charles Kopp. "It hurts us that anyone could even think we deserve such treatment. They don't know us, but they apparently oppose anyone who doesn't identity with them. I wish them well; I have no desire for revenge."

Baptist priests don't normally walk around in priestly garb, but Kopp said he would be afraid to walk through the Old City if he did.

Jacob Avrahami, the mayor's advisor on the Christian community, visited the Baptist church on Monday to condemn the attacks. "They feel besieged; you can see it on them," he said.

Dr. Gadi Gevaryahu, whose Banish the Darkness organization works to combat racism, said his big fear is that "one day, they'll attack a mosque or a church with people inside and there will be a terrible conflagration here."

"Over the last two years, 10 mosques have been torched here, and today it's clear that it's not just aimed at Palestinians or Muslims, but at foreigners in general," he said.

Gevaryahu also offered a practical suggestion: Security cameras, he said, should be installed on every sensitive building in the city.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Israel demolishes West Bank villages as Jewish outposts remains untouched

Akiva Eldar, Haaretz, January 21, 2012.

It is doubtful whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has expressed great concern over the fate of Migron's residents, has heard of Tha'lah. Unfortunately for the village's residents, Tha'lah is situated in Area C, which is under Israel jurisdiction. Minister Benny Begin, who worked so tirelessly on the questionable "agreement" that will leave the Migron criminals on stolen land for a few more years (if it is ever implemented ), presumably does not know what happened to the residents of this tiny village in the Southern Hebron Hills. And the Israeli media didn't stop focusing on an Iranian nuclear bomb that threatens to destroy our homes long enough to cover a boring story about a Palestinian family whose home we Israelis razed.

It happened last Wednesday. Civil Administration officer Nabil Tafsh arrived at Youssef Awad's hut accompanied by a bulldozer. Awad told Rabbis for Human Rights representatives summoned to the site that the official informed him he had one minute to leave the hut and remove the sheep from their pen. Two soldiers forcibly removed Awad and, in a flash, the bulldozer flattened his minimal possessions into a pile of rubble.

Eight people, including children, were thrown out of their shabby hut and left without a roof over their heads on a rainy winter night. The sheep pen was destroyed, and buried underneath it were 15 lambs and a dovecote. Four lambs died, four were injured and 400 head of sheep that were spared lost their shelter. The water cisterns used to provide for the flock were destroyed and sealed.

In a complaint submitted to the Civil Administration, Rabbi for Human Rights attorney Quamar Mishirqi wrote that Awad presented the officer with an interim order from the High Court of Justice ordering a delay in the implementation of the demolition order issued against him. She says the officer tore up the document and slapped Awad across the face. Mishirqi presented an agreement with the State Prosecutor's Office granting Awad 60 days to approach the High Court of Justice before his property would be destroyed. According to her, were it not for a hasty phone call she made that day to the Prosecutor's office, it is almost certain that the Civil Administration would have proceeded to demolish all of the village's houses.

The next target of the Civil Administration (which, of course, carries out the government's policies ) in Tha'lah and nearby villages are renewable energy installations - wind turbines and solar panels that two good Israelis, Noam Dotan and Elad Orian, members of Comet (Community, Energy and Technology in the Middle East ), set up for them.

Around 1,500 people in 16 communities, that have been in the area since the 19th century, now benefit from energy produced by these installations, which provide lighting and electricity to their modest dairy product business. A few weeks ago, the Israeli administration - the one that arranges to run high-tension lines over their heads to supply illegal outposts - decided to issue work stoppage orders to five installations. The demolition orders expected to follow will darken the homes of 500 people. Children will revert to straining their eyes as they do their homework in the light of oil lamps, and the women will go back to churning butter and cheeses with blistered hands.

The new facilities were built mainly with money from the German taxpayer. The German government contributed 400,000 euros to the project, in addition to more modest sums from other organizations. During a visit to Israel three weeks ago, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle asked the prime minister, defense minister and foreign minister to work to cancel the orders. Everyone promised to look into the matter. The response arrived a week later in the form of a new work stoppage order for another installation.

A German Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the German government is aware of the stoppage order for the solar energy systems in Tha'lah, and is in close contact with the Israeli government in order to find an amicable solution. The German press sees Israel's behavior as a rude gesture to the European Union, which dared publish a report critical of Israel's discriminatory policy toward 150,000 Palestinians in Area C, who have survived the harassment of the authorities and the fury of the settlers.

During the first six months of 2011, the UN Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs recorded 342 demolitions of Palestinian structures in the area. That is almost five times the number razed during the same period in 2010. The report noted that for Palestinian villages in Area C, the Civil Administration did not manage to plan sufficiently, but all Jewish communities in the West Bank did receive detailed plans.

The Civil Administration did not comment.

The plots thicken

Civil Administration officials are busy with Palestinians' wind turbines and goat pens. No wonder, then, they have no time to deal with a few structures that settlers are building on stolen lands. Not just stolen from Palestinian landowners, but also from the Palestinian Authority.

Two days ago, Haaretz published a list of outposts that are moving into agricultural plots in Area B, which is under Palestinian Authority civil control. A petition submitted to the High Court of Justice on Monday by a resident of the northern West Bank village of Amatin, with the assistance of Yesh Din, shows that the name of the Havat Gilad outpost was omitted from the list.

The petition claimed that people from the outpost built two houses on Palestinian land, contrary to the law and the Oslo Accords. The inspectors are in no rush to go back there. The last time, they got out by the skin of their teeth. Regarding this matter as well, there was no comment from the Civil Administration.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The answer of our community against racist graffiti attack

Last Friday Hand in Hand community gather to stand together against racism. ‎"We chose to answer with love and not with racism" was written on one sign on the wall written by the kids.
In the past weeks the school was under racist graffiti attack.
The bilingual school in Jerusalem was under graffiti attack. 150 meters from school graffiti with the inscriptions "Holocaust to the Arabs", "Mohammed is dead" and " death to the Arabs"was found this morning. In the school Jews and Arabs study together in the same classes.
As i said before we will continue together and we'll stand together against racism, they wont stop us. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Chalanging administrative detention - Khader Adnan

Randa Jihad Adnan, wife of Khader Adnan

Khader Adnan's two-month hunger strike has made him a hero among Palestinians outraged by Israel's policy of arbitrary detention
Donald Macintyre
Friday, 17 February 2012
It was only after talking with lucidity and animation for an hour about her husband's 61-day hunger strike that Randa Jihad Adnan's eyes, visible though the opening of her nekab, filled with tears. Until then, this articulate 31-year-old graduate in sharia law from Al Najar University in Nablus, the pregnant mother of two young daughters aged four and one and half, had described with almost disconcerting poise the two months following the arrest of her husband, Khader Adnan, on 17 December.

He was seized at 3.30am by some of the scores of Israeli military and security personnel who surrounded the family home in a West Bank village south of Jenin, and is now being held in the Israeli Rebecca Ziv hospital in Safed. On Wednesday she was allowed to visit him with the children and her father-in-law.

There they found him, weak and extremely thin, his beard unkempt and his fingernails long. He was shackled by two legs and one arm to his bed, and was connected to a heart monitor. Though mentally alert, he could speak only with difficulty. "I was shocked," she said yesterday. "I couldn't speak for about three minutes, and it was the same for my daughters."

Mrs Adnan is convinced that the Israeli authorities only allowed the visit because they wanted the family to put pressure on her husband to end his hunger strike. He had started this on 18 December in protest at his arrest, his treatment and the subsequent detention order served on him.

"My father-in-law said to him: 'We want you to stay alive. You cannot defeat this state on your own.' He told him he wanted him to end the strike. I told him I wished he would drink a cup of milk. But he said: 'I did not expect this from you. I know you are with me all the time. Please stop it." Mrs Adnan said yesterday: "I know my husband. He will not change his mind. I expect him to die."

The day before the visit, a Red Cross delegation had gone to her home to warn her that her husband's heart could fail "at any minute". They told her that he was suffering from muscular atrophy, which was affecting his heart and stomach, that his pulse was weak, and that his life was now in extreme danger.

Physicians for Human Rights issued a medical report this week supporting a petition to the Supreme Court for his release. In it the group said that even though Mr Adnan had agreed to be treated with an infusion of liquids and salts, augmented by glucose and vitamins, he had refused to end his hunger strike and was in "immediate danger of death". The report added that a fast "in excess of 70 days does not permit survival".

The Supreme Court petition, for which no date has been set for a hearing, is the last judicial chance to save his life as Mr Adnan has said he will not end his fast until he is released from his four months of administrative detention. A military appeals court ruled this week that he must remain in detention until May.

Mr Adnan, 33, a mathematics graduate who runs a bakery in nearby Qabatya, has long been politically active. He has been convicted for being a spokesman of Islamic Jihad, one of the most militant Palestinian factions. And he has been arrested numerous times by Israel, and at least once by the Palestinian Authority, since leading a student demonstration in 1999 at Bir Zeit University against the visiting French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.

But his family insists that he has never been involved in violence; nor has he been charged with it. Indeed, on this occasion, he has not been charged with any crime. His hunger strike has focused growing attention on the practice of administrative detention, in which Palestinians can be held without trial and on the basis of secret intelligence dossiers which are not shown to the defendant or his lawyers.

With international groups like Human Rights Watch demanding his release, and almost daily demonstrations in his support outside the Ofer military court near Ramallah, his case is fast taking on some of the political resonances of Bobby Sands, the most famous of the 10 IRA prisoners who died on hunger strike in prison in Northern Ireland in the early 1980s. Sands, an elected MP, died after 66 days without food.

Sitting with her older daughter, Maali, in front of a poster of her husband proclaiming "I reject administrative detention and I will continue the hunger strike until I am released", Mrs Adnan said that he is determined to continue his fast. His resolve has been hardened, she said, not only by his summary arrest and its circumstances (he was seized while in the lavatory) but by his treatment during interrogation. She claimed her husband had been held for seven-hour periods – interspersed with one-hour breaks – on a short chair with his hands tied behind its back, causing him intense discomfort, and that parts of his beard had been torn out by interrogators.

She said he had also been subject to psychological pressure, which his lawyers told her he raised in one of his several military court appearances. "They told him bad words about me. They said 'your wife is not pure'. They told him 'now you have been arrested she is free to do anything.'" She says he told the military court that one interrogator later admitted to him: "We know you love your wife and that she loves you. That's why we said things against her."

Mrs Adnan, who said that her husband had repeatedly declared that "my honour is more precious than food", added that her only hope now is that Israel will decide "to whiten its face in the world by releasing him". She said that it is for him to take the final decision, and that when she urged him to drink milk she was mainly carrying "a message from his mother."

Mr Adnan's sister – also called Maali – tentatively acknowledged the possibility that her brother might yet be persuaded that he had done enough to transmit his message to the world protesting about the use of administrative detention without trial or charge. But, saying that Mr Adnan was a model father who "loves life", she added: "I am not sure that he wants just to deliver a message. He also wants to end the administrative detention. We have so much faith in Allah to get him out of this situation. We believe that God will not let him down."

Randa Adnan recalled that her husband told one of his lawyers: "I do not want to go to oblivion or death. But I am a man who defends his freedom. If I die it will be my fate."

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Once again the bilingual school in Jerusalem was under graffiti attack. 150 meters from school graffiti with the inscriptions "Holocaust to the Arabs", "Mohammed is dead" and " death to the Arabs"was found this morning.
As i said before we will continue together and we'll stand together against racism, they wont stop us.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

We refuse to be enemies.

Outside my sons school the bilingual school in Jerusalem in which Arabs and Jews study together a graffiti was found this morning with the inscriptions "Kahana was right, death to the Arabs".
No matter how much they try, we will continue to believe that we are part of the Jews and Arabs who refuse to be enemies.
Shame on the racists, you don’t scare us you only empower us.  
Quique Kierszenbaum

Monday, February 6, 2012

Breaking Anonymity

Exhibition of my multimedia project "Breaking anonymity", with "Breaking the Silence" video testimonies exhibition. February 9-25, 2012, Groningen Bibliotheek , Groningen Holland.


Twenty-seven former Israeli soldiers who have given disturbing accounts of what they saw and did during their compulsory military service in the West Bank and Gaza have broken cover and agreed to be named and photographed for the first time.  Sixteen of them are in this exhibition.
The ex-soldiers, deeply troubled by their role in the security forces over the decade since the beginning of the second intifada in 2000, have ended the anonymity of their testimony to the Israeli veterans' organization, "Breaking the Silence".

They have allowed me to take their pictures, along with summaries of why and what they testified.

When we listen about abuses committed during wars, we generally do it through the victims, or through investigations of the perpetrators. It takes many years to have a critical mass of testimonies by soldiers. Most of the time that doesn’t happen. Breaking the Silence is a unique organization for that; they have already collected 700 testimonies of ex-soldiers.

The decision of the 27 soldiers to "go public" follows repeated complaints by the Israeli authorities about the anonymity of testimonies previously published by "Breaking the Silence". Witnesses partly preferred not to use their names to avoid alienation or distress in their own communities.

As one of the leaders, who was also photographed, puts it: "it was like coming out of the closet", to themselves to be named and photographed.

The respect in which they are indeed exceptional is their bravery in “coming out” and discussing what happened during their military service; by naming and photographing them, we have not only made it impossible for the military to deny their authenticity, we have also made their message far more effective than the mere compilation of anonymous testimonies can do.

The exposure of the soldiers, their identities and their testimonies will bring a better understanding of the conflict and the role of the IDF and its policies in the Occupied Territories.

(C) Quique Kierszenbaum