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7 Jul, 2011

Arab Spring Awakens Palestinians, Knocks At Israel’s Door

A compilation of stories, press releases and announcements about how activists plan to help the Arab spring lead to freedom and statehood for the Palestinian people. A Palestinian state will allow the people of the world to visit Palestine without undergoing the ignominy of applying for an visa at an Israeli embassy or dealing with Israeli security hassles.

Scroll down to read the following stories:

1. Challenging Israeli Apartheid — By Plane

2. Nonviolence Against the Blockade

3. On July 8th We Are Flying for Palestinian Freedom — And For Our Own

4. Hundreds of Internationals and Hundreds of Palestinians Gear-up for July 8-16 activities

5. UN Human Rights Expert Richard Falk Calls For Immediate Lifting Of Israeli Blockade Of Gaza

6. Israeli Blockade Of Gaza Hurts Employment And Wages, UN Report Says

7. Gaza: Symbol Of Resistance


1. Challenging Israeli Apartheid — By Plane

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Mazin Qumsiyeh is international coordinator for the Palestine Justice Network (PalestineJN.org), a professor at Bethlehem University and the author of Popular Resistance in Palestine


This week, hundreds of activists plan on challenging Israel’s apartheid apartheid by flying in to Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv as part of the “Welcome to Palestine” initiative. Heraclitis once stated that “There is nothing permanent except change,” and indeed human history is a chronicle of change — and the Welcome to Palestine project follows that tradition.

No change happens without challenging the status quo. Few people reflect even on modern history to understand how we achieved things like civil rights in the US, enlightenment in Europe, ending slavery, giving women the right to vote and establishing democracies around the world. All these changes from an unjust situation (the status quo) required the agency of mass movement.

On our horizon today is of course the mass movement of Arab people yearning for freedom from decades of dictatorships — many of those structures created and supported by the West.

Rebellion against injustice of course is also a hallmark of the struggle against apartheid in Palestine, a struggle that can be traced back to the first Zionist colony built 131 years ago and that took a giant leap forward by the 1948 founding of the racist state of Israel as a culmination and embodiment of this colonial venture, and the subsequent expansion of this state in 1967 to occupy the rest of Palestine.

Now 7 of the 11 million Palestinians in the world are refugees or displaced people. Palestinian refugees constitute one-third of all refugees worldwide, according to UN statistics. Yet, we are optimistic and we believe change is on the way.

Change is on the way

We are sustained in this positive attitude from our own history of multiple and largely successful uprisings (starting in 1881 and passing through 1920, 1929, 1936, 1972, 1987 and 2000). We are sustained by the sumud or steadfastness of our people who after decades of attempted ethnic cleansing still constitute half the population of Palestine (5.5 million Palestinians, 5.5 million Israeli Jews).

Sure, we are depressed about how the Oslo accords maimed the popular resistance. It was predictable, and as Israeli negotiator Dore Gold told The Jerusalem Post in 1995, the intention was the “creation of a new psychological reality in the West Bank. After initial celebrations, Palestinians will find themselves confined to a certain degree of cantonization.”

Yet, we look with pride at the new forms of resistance constantly innovated. The latest manifestation of this spirit of resistance are attempts, some successful, to return to our lands and homes — as happened on 15 May this year, during the Nakba Day march of return — and the Gaza Freedom Flotilla that aims to break the siege on Gaza. We are heartened by the growth of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

We have individual and collective responsibility to change things by moral and determined ways. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

The other options have been proven catastrophically negative: relying on politicians (elected or self-appointed) or on the vagaries of shifting military capabilities — a dangerous development in the era of advanced science that makes development of weapons of mass destruction relatively easy even for small state and non-state actors.

Let no one have any illusion: we are coming to a major confrontation. It can either be a civil confrontation in which civil society wins the struggle because it became engaged in these tactics of strong and determined popular resistance, or it can happen via armed insurgency that uses modern technology to challenge conventional military forces.

In challenging local dictatorship, we saw the power of civil resistance in Egypt and Tunisia. Challenging colonialism successfully happened with a mix of the popular and armed struggle in Algeria (liberated in the 1960s) and South Africa (more recently). But the mix of civil confrontation and armed insurgency in South Africa was improved thanks to international civil participation. Each situation is unique, and our local history here and the upcoming confrontation will also be unique to Palestine and different than in other places.

We won’t accept the attempts to keep us apart

Our next step toward freedom is a series of events are the plans taking place between July 9-16 when hundreds of men, women and children are planning to fly into Tel Aviv to visit us in Palestine. The international community must recognize our basic human right to receive visitors from abroad and support the right of their own citizens to travel to Palestine without harassment.

With the delay in the sailing of the Freedom Flotilla, these two initiatives may coincide temporally. As Israel works to isolate us, we invite you to join with us openly and proudly as the decent human beings you are. We do not accept the attempts to keep us apart or to force you to speak less than with the honesty you are used to.

Guests will enjoy Palestinian hospitality and a program of networking, fellowship and volunteer peace work in Palestinian towns and villages. Local activist groups in Europe and in the United States have organized delegations and hundreds have booked their flights. Once here, much can be done. But whether you volunteer or participate in any of these initiatives or any others, the key word is participation. There are ongoing revolutions everywhere against tyranny. Human spirits cannot be enslaved forever. We must all join in the struggle for freedom because silence is indeed complicity.

For more information about the Welcome to Palestine initiative, visit http://palestinejn.org/.

Video of Press conference Explaining the Action

Videos of Previous actions







2. Nonviolence against the blockade

Monday, 04 July 2011 — Lubna Masarwa, a Palestinian from Israel, is an activist and board member of the “Free Gaza” organization.  These past days she was in Berlin to present a new initiative, “Welcome to Palestine,” a call by 15 Palestinian civil society organizations to travel en masse to Palestine on July 8th.  Elsa Rassbach spoke with Lubna Masarwa for Neues Deutschland.

Ms. Masarwa, you traveled five times on the Freedom Flotilla ships, most recently on the “Mavi Marmara,” to break the Gaza blockade by sea.  You were on the steering committee of Gaza Freedom March, which brought 1400 activists from 42 countries to Cairo to break the blockade at the Egyptian border.  Now there will be an attempt via the airport in Tel Aviv.  How will this work?

Israel controls all the borders and all access to Palestine, also by air.  When you arrive at Ben Gurion airport, if you say you want to go to the West Bank, you will quite probably be denied entry.  That’s why many claim that they are only going to visit holy places and the like.  On the 8th of July, everyone will say openly, “We are going to Palestine.”

Read more…


3. On July 8th We Are Flying for Palestinian Freedom — And For Our Own

Sunday, 03 July 2011 — Hundreds of internationals on their way to visit Palestinians in Gaza have been prevented from departing from the ports in Greece. However, we hope that on July 8th, 2011, hundreds of others of us from many countries will succeed in reaching Palestine by flying to Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. We have been invited by some forty Palestinian organizations to “Welcome to Palestine,” a week of activities in  Palestine. It should be a wonderful visit, but most of us are frankly a bit scared. This is because of one decision we’ve all made: to tell the truth that our plan is to visit Palestine. It should be so simple, shouldn’t it?  But it is not, because Israel controls all access to Palestine — by air, and by land, as well as by sea.

Even the website of the U.S. State Department warns of “prolonged questioning and thorough searches by Israeli authorities upon entry or departure,” of particularly “probing questioning” visited upon “U.S. citizens whom Israeli authorities suspect of being of Arab, Middle Eastern, or Muslim origin,” who are frequently denied entry. This is also true of visitors who are suspected to sympathize with Palestinians. The U.S. and the European countries refuse to protect their own citizens against these abuses by Israeli authorities.

Read more…


4. Hundreds of Internationals and Hundreds of Palestinians Gear-up for July 8-16 activities

Press Release 1

Some 40 Palestinian civil society organizations, popular resistance committees, and political factions announce the launching of the “Welcome to Palestine” initiative July 8-16 where hundreds of Internationals will work with hundreds of Palestinians for Peace.  The hundreds of men, women, and children will arrive July 8 at the Lod Airport. The international community must recognize the basic human right to receive visitors from abroad and support the right of their own citizens to travel to Palestine without harassment. Where Israel works to isolate us, we invite all to join with us openly and proudly. We do not accept the attempts to keep us apart or to force us to speak less than with full honesty.

This July initiative comes in a planned series of events and follows similar events carried out in December under the slogan of “ending apartheid and ethnic cleansing.” The week of activities starts on July 9 because that is the anniversary of the International Court of Justice ruling about the illegality of the Settlements and the apartheid wall in the occupied Palestinian Territories and the anniversary of the Palestinian Civil Society Call to Action: July 9 Ramallah area, July 10 Bethlehem area, July 11 North, July 12 Hebron and Jordan Valley, July 13 Neqab, July 14-15 Jerusalem.

The July “Welcome to Palestine” initiative will take participants (Palestinians and Internationals) to different parts of Palestine from the north to the Negev and highlight the power of nonviolence and peace building efforts. Visitors will be accommodated locally and will enjoy Palestinian hospitality and a program of networking, fellowship, and volunteer peace work in Palestinian towns and villages together with hundreds of local activists.

The full program of activities is available for credentialed media outlets. Volunteers and participants are needed and welcome.

Some news stories that already appeared on this are linked below, Links to some Media Stories below (Netanyahu went to the airport himself to oversee preparations!!)

Press Release 2: “Welcome to Palestine” Organizers decry Israeli propaganda efforts and threats of mass deportation

Bethlehem and Jerusalem 5 July 2011–The organizers of the “Welcome to Palestine” initiative decry the numerous attempts by Israeli and other media to distort our message and planned activities.

There were messages claiming that we are attempting to reach Gaza by going to Lod Airport (aka Ben Gurion airport) on July 8. Some claimed that this initiative came after the flotilla was blocked. Others claimed our visitors want to disrupt things at the airport and some even claimed they will try to take over planes. These claims and many others being circulated are false; we urge media not to disseminate false statements.

As stated in our first press release: we invited international guests, including families, to visit us in Palestine.

We hope and expect the Israeli authorities to allow them safe passage in compliance with International law and normal diplomatic bilateral protocols. We also reject the Israeli government threat to engage in mass deportation of peace activists and the apparent attempt justify this unjustifiable action by using rumors that they spread.

We are accessible to the media and encourage them to speak with the actual organizers and participants of this peaceful initiative.

Journalists will be flying with us, and we encourage more journalists to join us and to report on what actually happens (without innuendos and propaganda efforts – Israeli hasbara).

Our visitors are coming to Palestine with a nonviolent approach to peace building and conflict resolution, with full respect of the universal declaration of human rights. We urge the Israeli authorities to allow the journalists to have access to our participants and to report the true story of “Welcome to Palestine.”

Inviting Palestinians and internationals to join us is our right as people under colonial occupation who yearn to be free.

Some journalists are flying with our visitors and we invite all journalists who want to exercise their right to free press to fly in of the 8th of July to Palestine.

A press conference is to be held Friday July 8 at 10 AM at the Bethlehem Peace Center in Bethlehem.

Contact: info@palestinejn.org

Press Release from the European group is posted at



Xinhua agency report


AFP Report


Israel to expel pro-Palestinian airport protesters


Articles in Arabic




Challenging Israeli apartheid, starting at Ben Gurion Airport



5. UN Human Rights Expert Richard Falk Calls For Immediate Lifting Of Israeli Blockade Of Gaza

New York, Jun 23 2011 (UN News Centre) — A United Nations human rights expert on the occupied Palestinian territories today called on Israel to lift its Gaza blockade “entirely and immediately.”

Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, commenting two days after Israel announced it would allow the UN to bring in material for school and housing construction, said the blockade is “a deliberate policy of collective punishment which is legally indefensible and morally reprehensible.”

“It is aimed at denying Palestinians humanity and a life with dignity,” he said. “The blockade of Gaza must be lifted entirely and immediately.”

Mr. Falk said: “This grim overall reality persists despite the recent positive gesture from Israel to the effect that it would allow the entry of some construction material in the Gaza Strip.”

On Tuesday, the Israeli Government approved the delivery of $100 million in building materials for 1,200 homes and 18 schools in UN-run projects in Gaza. Yesterday Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, called the announcement a “significant step.”

Referring to the recent media reports of widespread health problems in Gaza, Mr. Falk said the situation of health care there is “as nothing short of catastrophic.”

Mr. Falk said Gaza’s health ministry has reported that the Strip’s medical supplies and equipment have reached emergency levels.

Of the 480 medications on the essential drug list, 178 (37 per cent) are reported to be at zero stock levels and more than 190 types of medicine in stock are either expired or close to their expiry date, Mr. Falk said.

Citing reports from the World Health Organization (WHO), he said a severe shortage of vital drugs is having a critical impact on the continued delivery of health care.

“Israel, as the occupying power, has the obligation under international humanitarian law to restore and maintain public order and civil life, including public welfare for the civilian population,” he said. “This encompasses, among other things, the provision and maintenance of infrastructure, health and the material conditions of life.”

“Israel’s absolute closure of Gaza, however, not only denies the whole of Gaza’s civilian population the possibility of a normal life, but also collectively punishes them for acts for which they bear no responsibility.”

Israel imposed the blockade after Hamas ousted the Fatah movement in the Strip in 2007. In June 2010, Israel started allowing in more civilian goods while still restricting access to concrete, iron and other materials that the UN has said are needed to repair the damage caused by the 2008-2009 offensive Israel said it launched to halt rocket and other attacks.

Mr. Falk, who serves in an unpaid and independent capacity, reports to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.


6. Israeli Blockade Of Gaza Hurts Employment And Wages, UN Report Says

New York, Jun 13 2011 (UN News Centre)– Unemployment in the Gaza Strip remains among the highest in the world and real wages have continued to decline every year since Israel imposed a blockade of the area, according to a new report from the United Nations agency that assists Palestinian refugees.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) report on the economy in Gaza for the second half of 2010 listed the unemployment rate at 45.2 per cent and said real wages have slumped by an estimated 34.5 per cent since the Israelis imposed the blockade in 2007.

“It is hard to understand the logic of a man-made policy which deliberately impoverishes so many and condemns hundreds of thousands of potentially productive people to a life of destitution,” said UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness.

Israel imposed the blockade on Gaza for what it called security reasons after Hamas, which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, ousted the Fatah movement in the Strip in 2007. The two factions reached a deal last month, agreeing to form a national unity government and hold elections within a year.

The report finds that the private sector was particularly badly hit compared to the public sector, UNRWA said. In the second half of 2010 businesses shed over 8,000 jobs, a decline in employment of nearly 8 per cent relative to the first half of the year. By contrast, the Hamas-dominated public sector grew by nearly 3 per cent during the same period.

“Our research indicates that since 2007, Hamas has been able to increase public employment by at least one fifth,” said Mr. Gunness.

“Even more striking, in what should have been a relatively good year for the Gaza private sector with the supposed easing of the blockade, the public sector generated 70 per cent of all net job growth as between second-half 2009 and second-half 2010.

“If the aim of the blockade policy was to weaken the Hamas administration, the public employment numbers suggest this has failed. But it has certainly been highly successful in punishing some of the poorest of the poor in the Middle East region.”

“Amid this economic gloom, UNRWA will continue with its human development work in health and education, running schools for some 213,000 children in Gaza, helping them towards a belief in an educated, dignified and peaceful future,” said Mr. Gunness.

“But the number of people coming to us, the abject poor living on just over $1 a day, has tripled to 300,000 since the blockade was imposed and with many reconstruction projects still awaiting approval, the future looks bleak.”


7. Gaza: Symbol Of Resistance

This new book provides the bankground and analysis key to understanding today’s fast-breaking Middle East events.

With a foreword by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark

Order at: www.GazaResistanceBook.com

What are people saying about this book?

Gaza, Symbol of Resistance is a great resource for people of conscience. It presents a powerful narrative, important facts, and insightful analysis regarding the war crimes and illegal blockade perpetrated by Israel against Palestinians in Gaza since 2006. It is also a genuine call to action for human rights activists to fight injustice, end oppression, and alleviate Palestinian suffering and misery.

Dr. Sami Al-Arian,  Palestinian political prisoner in the U.S.

… a story that everyone must know about. I urge you to read this very informative and important book.

Charles Barron, N.Y. City Council member, Freedom Party candidate for N.Y. governor in 2010

Historically anchored and richly revealing, this multi-dimensional book exposes the crimes of the Zionist aggrandizers, providing us with the kind of information and analysis that is routinely suppressed in the mainstream media.

Michael Parenti, author of The Face of Imperialism

An eye-opening account of the harsh reality of the Gazan Palestinian experience under Israeli blockade. Unflinching analysis and a deep commitment to justice make this an essential source for understanding this troubled region.

Gregory Elich, author of Strange Liberators

Here is the story of the most heroic resistance since 1948 to unrelenting Israeli oppression and violence designed to drive Palestinians from their homeland

Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General

… breaks the U.S./Israeli blockade on the truth about Gaza and the Palestinian struggle.

Shelley Ettinger, Jews in Solidarity with Palestine

… a timely and cogent analysis of the current situation in Palestine within a broader context…

Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor, Pan-African News Wire

… a must for anyone who seeks to understand the story of Gaza…

Elena Everett, Director, Action for Community, Raleigh, N.C.

What can you do?

Take a closer look at the book – at www.GazaResistanceBook.com. This book is part of the grass roots struggle to defend the Palestinian people of Gaza and all of Palestine. Helping  to spread the word about it is crucial. Feel free to place this note (or any part of it) on your Facebook page or Twitter… or just e-blast this message to your friends and contacts!

Published by World View Forum, 55 W. 17th St., 5th Floor, New York, NY 10011

Gaza: Symbol of Resistance, a compilation edited by Joyce Chediac, 185 pages, $19.95. ISBN 9807 0 8956717 45 (paperback) Copyright © 2011