Thursday, December 24, 2015

[ePalestine] Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


Dear friends,

In wishing you all a Merry Christmas, in these troubling times, and a Happy New Year, after yet another one of more death and destruction, I would like to share with you this profound Christmas message from Bethlehem by Bishop Dr. Munib Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, President of the Lutheran World Federation.

Before viewing Bishop Munib and Reverend Mitri Raheb, whom also features in this service, as religious leaders, I view them as friends and colleagues in our struggle for freedom and independence.

Christmas message: https://youtu.be/eOes0DrFVH0?t=52m30s

Bethlehem Prayer Service: Saturday, December 19, 2015

This is from a the ninth annual joint simulcast Christmas service with the people of Bethlehem. Prayers, readings, and hymns alternate between Washington, D.C. (Washington National Cathedral), and Palestine ( The Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church) via the Internet, bringing together people of different lands, languages, and ethnic backgrounds in celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace.

To view the service from the beginning click here:
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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

[ePalestine] This is what being drunk on power looks like.


This is what being drunk on power looks like.

The collapse of slavery in the U.S., Apartheid in South Africa, and the Berlin Wall in Germany is what it will ultimately feel like.

Israeli Embassy Trolls White House, Exclusively Gifts Settlement Goods

All of this year's presents were made in the occupied West Bank and Golan Heights.

12/22/2015 01:47 pm ET
Jessica Schulberg Foreign Affairs Reporter, The Huffington Post

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

[ePalestine] The Hill: President Obama, recognize Palestine now!

The Hill - November 11, 2015

President Obama, recognize Palestine now!

By Sam Bahour, Geoffrey Lewis and Nomika Zion

 http://bit.ly/President-Obama-recognize-Palestine-now-theHill

"Where many are grasping at straws for new strategies to compensate for so many past diplomatic failures, the only real strategy left is the realization of the state of Palestine on the ground. This is the missing link to get negotiations back on track and to give Palestinians hope for the future, not to mention saving the two-state solution from total collapse. U.S. recognition of Palestine would be the first concrete political step that would open the way to an entirely new dynamic upon which the end game would no longer be an unknown, allowing all stakeholders to focus on state building instead of ideological debate."

READ ON AT:

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

[ePalestine] ICT: The Shackled Engine of Palestine’s Development (English/Arabic)

Al-Shabaka



ICT: The Shackled Engine of Palestine's Development

by Nur Arafeh, Wassim F. Abdullah, Sam Bahour on November 9, 2015

READ AT: http://bit.ly/ict-en

قطاع تكنولوجيا المعلومات والاتصالات: محرك التنمية المكبّل في فلسطين

نور عرفة، وسيم عبد الله، سام بحور 7 نوفمبر 2015

http://bit.ly/ict-ar



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Monday, November 09, 2015

[ePalestine] ACT NOW - Support Palestinians' economic steadfastness



​ACT NOW - Support Palestinians' economic steadfastness


While President Obama is meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House today, there is no need to hold your breath for results, rather, there is a need to act. One way to make your actions heard is to support Palestinians' economic steadfastness by helping us link Palestinian businesses to American businesses by making a U.S. tax-deductible donation and sending this request to your friends. We all have a role to play to end this occupation.

Here is a short (less than 4 min) video that was made last week when the AVPE Board met in Ramallah, despite the current volatile situation on the ground:


Here is my part of the campaign, help me reach my goal:
Thanks to the dozens who have already stepped up to the plate to be counted!

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Tuesday, November 03, 2015

[ePalestine] Haaretz (En/Ar/He): Palestinian Political Activism Could Push Toward a One-state Solution (By Sam Bahour)

Arabic (العربية) and Hebrew (עברית) links below.

Haaretz - Nov. 3, 2015

Palestinian Political Activism Could Push Toward a One-state Solution
הפלסטינים יכולים לחפש הנהגה מעבר לחומה

التوجه إلى جهة الغرب

By Sam Bahour


​Inaugural speech in the Knesset of Joint Arab List leader MK Ayman Odeh 2015. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

"If Palestinians redefine their self-determination away from statehood and toward civil rights, the game is over – even if the struggle for full civil rights lasts another 50 years." ~Sam Bahour

READ ARTICLE AT:

English: http://bit.ly/looking-west

Arabic (العربية): http://bit.ly/looking-west-ar

Hebrew (עברית): http://bit.ly/looking-west-he

Full English version below:

Palestinian Political Activism Could Push Toward a One-state Solution

Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and beyond, could look over the wall for leadership and political agency.

Sam Bahour 03.11.2015

Joint Arab List leader Ayman Odeh in the Knesset, April 2015 Credit: Emil Salman

Most Israelis seemed nonchalant about the recent Knesset election, held last March. The outcome was totally expected. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was reelected and the overall political pendulum moved even further to the right. But one dynamic produced some shock and awe in the Israeli political system: For the first time ever, a political alliance of four Palestinian-dominated parties in Israel – Hadash, the United Arab List, Balad and Ta’al – joined forces in a Joint Arab List and became the third-largest faction in the 20th Knesset.

Just as the Israeli political right-wing thought it had squeezed Israel’s Palestinian citizens out of the national governance equation by raising the electoral threshold from 2 percent to 3.25 percent, these minority Palestinian parties joined forces. The Joint Arab List is not a strategic political platform (not yet, at least), but political survival dictated electoral unity, since several of these parties did not reach 3.25 percent in the previous Knesset election.

The significance of this historic political initiative by Palestinian citizens of Israel far exceeds the Joint Arab List’s 13 Knesset seats. The move brought greater focus to a potent strategic asset of the Palestinian struggle on both sides of the nonexistent Green Line; it highlighted, yet again, a still under-utilized source of Palestinian political agency.

A country for all its citizens

The first time Palestinian citizens of Israel displayed this mode of proactive political agency to such an impressive degree was back in 2006-2007 when the Palestinian community in Israel produced “future vision” documents, such as “The Haifa Declaration,” published by Mada al-Carmel – Arab Center for Applied Social Research in Haifa, and “The Democratic Constitution,” published by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, describing how Israel can and must change to be a country for all its citizens, Jews and Arabs alike.

The collective challenge these documents posed to the particularistic Jewish foundation of Israel was so shocking that mainstream Israeli society, after an initial frenzy of outrage, opted mostly to ignore it altogether.

All of this happened inside Israel proper, not in the Israeli-occupied territory of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

Israeli Arab lawmakers from the Joint Arab List in front of the Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem's Old City July 28, 2015. Credit: Reuters

With sound visions for a better future in place and an electoral victory in Israel, Palestinians living under Israel’s nearly five-decade-old military rule in the territories are now poised to make a game-changing strategic shift that would render Israel’s regime of force as naked as the proverbial emperor with no clothes.

Instead of frantically trying to revive the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to represent all Palestinians – those under occupation, citizens of Israel, refugees and those in the diaspora – Palestinians can simply look west, to the Palestinian political parties inside Israel and already represented in the Knesset.

In a way, this would actually be a wholly unexceptional act, since Israel, as the sole sovereign power between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, governs all three constituencies: Israelis and Palestinians in Israel, as well as Palestinians under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

As the two-state solution recedes toward historical footnote status, Palestinians have been left with a defunct national liberation movement (the PLO), an aging leadership fraught with disunity, and two long-term strategies that have failed utterly: armed struggle and bilateral negotiations.

Meanwhile, the success of Israel in creating facts on the ground – notably the ever-growing Jewish-only settlement enterprise, which buried the two-state solution – does not mean that Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are going to vanish into thin air. Nor does it mean Palestinians will resign themselves to living under military occupation or as refugees forever. Instead, they can make common cause with their brethren in Israel through the Palestinian-Arab political parties in Israel. These are led by accomplished women and men who operate expertly inside the Israeli political system, speak Hebrew, are veterans of Israeli political culture, and are clear on their right to their national and political identity.

When Joint Arab List leader MK Ayman Odeh gave his inaugural speech in the Knesset after his alliance’s victory, he reiterated his electoral platform based on universal human and civil rights, and for equality for all citizens of Israel. In fluent Hebrew, he noted:

“Mr. Speaker, distinguished Knesset, the year is 2025, the 10-year plan to combat racism and inequality has borne fruit. Hundreds of thousands of Arab employees have been integrated into the private sector, the high-tech economy and the public service.

“The social gaps between Arab and Jewish citizens have been reduced remarkably and the economy has been prosperous for the benefit of all residents.

“Jews are learning Arabic, Arabs are diligently honing their Hebrew skills. Jewish and Arab students are being introduced to the great thinkers and philosophers of both peoples.”

Buying into the vision

Neither Odeh, nor his Joint Arab List, have spoken out concerning the potential application of this approach to all Palestinians, including those across the Green Line. But Palestinians under occupation or living as refugees may surprise him and buy into his vision without even asking his permission.

As Lisa Goldman wrote in +972 Magazine last May, “Implicitly, [Odeh] is describing the emergence of the assertive and self-confident third generation of Palestinian citizens of Israel. The first generation lived under military rule [inside Israel from 1948-1966]; the second was afraid and kept its head down; and the third is ready to take its place, unapologetically, as equals in Israeli society.”

The fourth generation, I suspect, will reawaken the greater Palestinian collective by reuniting the Palestinians under Israeli rule and those living elsewhere – mobilizing them to realize the full spectrum of rights to which all are entitled equally, by demanding their free exercise from the state that withholds it. This, indeed, may already have become both more important and more practical than realizing a state of their own.

If Palestinians redefine their self-determination away from statehood and toward civil rights, the game is over – even if the struggle for full civil rights lasts another 50 years. One day, Jewish Israelis and Jews around the world could find themselves gazing at the erstwhile “Jewish State” and admiring (in spite of themselves) Israel’s new, grand, pluralistic incarnation, while perhaps wondering nostalgically why they failed to encourage the emergence of an independent state of Palestine when they had the chance.

The writer serves as a policy adviser to Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network, and is chairman of Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy. He blogs at ePalestine.com.

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Saturday, October 31, 2015

[ePalestine] MEE: Palestinians ‘have become unreasonably reasonable' (By Sam Bahour)


Middle East Eye

Palestinians 'have become unreasonably reasonable'

By Sam Bahour​

"Give me liberty, or give me death!" Patrick Henry declared in a speech he made to the Virginia Convention in 1775, at St John's Church in Richmond, Virginia. Fast forward 240 years, and if Israel and the US were able to pin those words to a Palestinian and decry incitement, they would do so in a heartbeat. 

READ ON AT: http://bit.ly/unreasonably-reasonable

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

[ePalestine] Forward: What Americans Don’t Know About the Middle East Conflict and Why


The Jewish Daily Forward

What Americans Don't Know About the Middle East Conflict and Why

By Sam Bahour

October 28, 2015

"For the average American citizen, in 2015, to still view Palestinians as creatures from Mars, their all-too-human desperation seen without any historic context and independently of any relation to the Israeli military occupation which runs their lives, is no longer acceptable. The American education system and media must do better, for the sake of us all."
~Sam Bahour, Forward, Oct. 28, 2015


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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

[ePalestine] OD: Palestinians must not fall into this trap, again!

http://bit.ly/palestinians-must-not-fall-into-this-traphttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-bahour/palestinians-trap_b_8288236.html

http://972mag.com/palestinians-mustnt-fall-into-this-trap-again/112765/



http://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/non-violent-smart-resistance-palestine


Palestinians must not fall into this trap, again!


​Sam Bahour 14 October 2015

"To cover up its crimes, Israel needs to feed all the western stereotypes of Palestinians as violent and subhuman rather than hungry for freedom and equal rights."

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Wednesday, October 07, 2015

[ePalestine] WE MUST NOT FALL INTO THIS TRAP, AGAIN!

It happened today, only five minutes from my house. Watch closely as the impostor (IDF) demonstrators (dressed as Palestinians) instigate violence to lure real Palestinians to clash, then capture them. If you watch even more closely, the "most moral army in the world" actually shoots point-blank the person they are trying to arresting in the leg while soldiers take turns punching and kicking him. Israel is begging for widespread violence, it is the only game book they have.

WE MUST NOT FALL INTO THIS TRAP, AGAIN!

WATCH THE 1 MINUTE AND 43 SECONDS CLIP AT:
https://www.facebook.com/AlRimawiPhotography/videos/548397015311224/

https://www.facebook.com/AlRimawiPhotography/videos/548397015311224/

P.S. Here is what I posted on Facebook yesterday morning:

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Thursday, October 01, 2015

[ePalestine] TWIP: One Border, Two Worlds (By: Fida Jiryis)


 
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Friday, September 18, 2015

[ePalestine] The Sabra and Shatila massacre is personal



The Sabra and Shatila massacre is personal

By Sam Bahour






These last few days, as they do every year, weigh heavy on every Palestinian’s heart. For me, and my family, the heaviness is also personal.

Every Palestinian carries around two hearts. One is similar to that which all others carry; it keeps us alive, active, working, loving, moving, singing, playing, and hopeful that tomorrow will bring a better day. The second is very difficult to explain; it is the one that carries within it dark and heavy memories of our existence. Every Palestinian carries this dark heart, albeit the number of chambers in each varies; for far too many, new chambers are added daily, yet others are calcified but fully preserved.

These days bring to the forefront one of those chambers present in all of our black hearts. This week, 33 years ago, in full coordination with the Israeli military which had invaded South Lebanon a few months prior, a group of “Christian” Phalangist fundamentalists, entered two Palestinian refugee camps, Sabra and Shatila, and slaughtered over 3000 Palestinian civilians. Most were murdered assassination style, using hatchets, striking mostly to the head. Several victims were beheaded. Children, women, men, young and old, no one was safe. September 16 and 17 were the days when the bulk of the cold-blooded rampage took place. On September 18th journalists finally made their way into the camp and the horrific scenes became known to all. Later, in 1983, the Israeli government appointed the Kahan Commission to investigate the incident. The Commission deemed Israel indirectly responsible, and Ariel Sharon, then Israel's Defense Minister, personally responsible, forcing him to resign, deeming him unfit to serve as Defense Minister. Sharon later went on to become a popular Israeli Prime Minister.

During the massacre, I was in Youngstown, Ohio. Like Palestinian communities worldwide, we were glued to the TV screens in total shock. It was too painful to just sit and endlessly watch the unfolding event any longer. The news footage of the humanitarian organization workers, wearing masks to protect themselves from the overwhelming stench of death, picked the bodies, one by one, off the piles on which they lie dead. As the bodies were lowered into the hastily dug mass graves, it felt that we too were being lowered in this resting place, with every descending body, over and over.


The mock funeral procession departing from the 
Arab-American Community Center of Youngstown, Ohio.
Watching all this from the Arab-American Community Center in Youngstown, we decided to act. We started to plan an emergency mock funeral that would place empty symbolic coffins on car rooftops and drive through the city in procession, ending symbolically at one of the local cemeteries. We were determined that our city must be aware of the war crime that had just took place against the Palestinian people thousands of miles away. The Palestinian Americans in our community felt an obligation to not only denounce the killings but to explain that the dead are Palestinian refugees, kicked out of their homes in what today is Israel, and refused their right to return home by Israel, the US’s strategic ally. Several in our community were born and raised in Lebanon’s refugee camps; some of the murdered were personally known to them. This made the event even more traumatic, because if they were not in Youngstown they could have been a victim of this crime.

The mock funeral procession was a huge success. My grandmother wanted to attend, but my father asked her to stay home because she was not feeling well. The entire community participated. Dozens of Americans joined in solidarity. The clergy of the city spoke out. We felt we did our part. The mock funeral was over. We all went home.



My father, Sami Bahour, with his mother Badia in Al-Bireh, Palestine before he immigrated to the United States in 1957.
As I reached our house on Roosevelt Drive, my sister and I were frantically called to immediately go to my grandmother Badia’s house, three houses away, on Northview Blvd. We had no idea why the rush. We ran to her house. She was laying on the carpet, immobile, quiet, but awake. She had third degree burns on her entire body. An ambulance was called. My dad was called to come and arrived before the ambulance. He went into shock and has never been the same person since that day. Grandma was rushed to St. Elizabeth Hospital less than two miles away, which is the best medical center in the region. She was then to be air lifted to the nationally renowned Akron Hospital Burn Unit, a specialized facility. Bad weather did not permit the ambulance helicopter to be used, so in an Intensive Care Ambulance, she was transported to Akron, 45 minutes away. She fought for her life for a little more than a week before succumbing to her wounds on September 29, 1982. We buried her two days later, it was her 60th birthday.

The funeral wake was difficult. The casket remained closed. As tradition calls for, a Koran reading was playing in the background as friends and family paid their last respects. Then, half way through the evening, in a standing room only hall, my heartbroken father walked to the tape recorder. He pressed stop and removed the Koran cassette and replaced it with one he had brought with him; we had prepared it together the night before. When he pressed play, Mahmoud Darwish’s poem, “My Mother” (English lyrics here), performed by Lebanese musician Marcel Khalife, rang out in the utter silence. Several of the elders in the room leaped up toward the tape recorder, thinking my father had made a mistake. He asked them to sit back down. He wanted this song played. The tears which fell at that moment washed my grandmother’s soul, yet again, along with each and every soul of the victims of Sabra and Shatila.

How was she burned? Grandma Badia, we learned afterwards, was in the initial stages, or so we thought, of Parkinson’s disease. It turns out the disease was more advanced than doctors could diagnose. She needed constant care. The massacre taking place in Sabra and Shatila was too much for us all. In the heat of the moment everyone left to the mock funeral procession, leaving grandma home alone in the hope that she would get some rest. The accident was caused by an oven fire while she was cooking dinner for all of us who were out demonstrating, at least this is what the fire department investigation revealed. I’ll never accept that. My grandmother was one more victim of Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon and the subsequent massacre in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

Two events in my younger years transfixed me on dedicating my entire life to the Palestinians’ struggle for freedom, this event and the First Intifada. I want to mourn but I can’t anymore because all the other chambers in my dark heart fiercely compete. Do I mourn my grandmother or the nearly 3,500 murdered in Sabra and Shatila? Or do I mourn all 20,000 Palestinians and Lebanese killed in that war? Or do I recall Qana, and if so, which massacre there, the first or second? While Qana beats on the walls of its chamber, Deir Yassin and Kufr Qassem can be heard screaming in the background. In between the screaming there are the smaller “events,” the bombing of buildings, the assassinations, the unreported natural deaths of refugees in exile and internally displaced Palestinians in Israel, and political prisoners languishing in detention. Then, more recent memory yells out -- Gaza 2000, Gaza 2002, Gaza 2006, Gaza 2008/9, Gaza 2012, and then Gaza 2014 deafens me. When my senses return, the one-and-a-half year-old Palestinian infant, Ali Saad Dawabsheh, who was burned to death last month in the West Bank village of Duma, near Nablus, by Israeli settlers who firebombed his home while the family was asleep haunts me. Ali’s father died a few days later from his burn wounds and his mother died a few weeks after her husband from hers. Ali’s now orphan brother will survive, like so many before him, damaged for life, but alive. The list is never-ending!

Yes, there are days when the heavy heart crams the other heart into a corner of our chest, making it difficult to take a deep breath, at times bringing painful thumps to the forefront. But I refuse to despair. I refuse to be defined by this conflict. I do not want to mold my existence into days of commemorations of exile, massacres, death and destruction. I refuse to live in the past, but I also refuse to forget the past. I remember in order to respect, to learn, to understand my present, and to define how I will chart my future. For those looking in from the outside it will be hard to comprehend; how a person can live a schizophrenic life but not be infected with the disorder itself. How, in the same day, a conscious mind and beating heart can make the case that a policy of slow ethnic cleansing is being undertaken against them, while the same mind and heart, the normal one, can live a life of hope that is totally convinced that tomorrow will witness better times.

This is our predicament as Palestinians, we have no alternative but to struggle with our internal turmoil as we attempt to maintain our sanity and raise the next generation to understand that both of their hearts will compete for their chest space too, regrettably. 

~ Sam Bahour is a Palestinian American living in his ancestral home in Al-Bireh, Palestine, eating from the same fig, almond and olive trees that his father and Grandmother Badia ate from before leaving Palestine. He blogs at www.epalestine.com.