Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Arab Parties Banned; Gaza testimony; US demo

Contents of this post:

Item 1: B'tselem testimony of Nafez a-Daiyah (introduced below by Sarah Anne Minkin)

Item 2: Israel disqualifies Arab parties (introduced below by Lincoln Shlensky)

Item 3: Video of New York rally (introduced below by Sarah Anne Minkin)



Item 1: B'tselem testimony of Nafez a-Daiyah

The Israeli human rights organization B'tselem collected testimony from Nafez a-Daiyah, a man who lost dozens of members of his family when Israel bombed his family's home. Diiyah reports that Israel informed the family's neighbors that their house would be bombed, so they evacuated; but the Daiyah family home was destroyed, too, killing the grandparents, multiple children and spouses, and 8 children.

Sarah Anne Minkin

See the full testimony text below or online at: http://www.btselem.org/English/Testimonies/20090106_Army_bombs_a_Daya_family_house_in_Gaza.asp


Item 2: Israel disqualifies Arab parties

Israel's Arab parties, Balad and United Arab List-Ta'al, are disqualified from running in the upcoming Israeli elections in February, the country's Central Elections Committee ruled Monday. This is a shocking turn of events in a country whose Arab citizens (to say nothing of those under its occupation) comprise at least 20% of its total population. In the bellicose atmosphere that prevails at present, however, the fundamentals of democracy have been set aside.

This is not the first time that the Israeli government has made efforts to disqualify the Arab parties from running in national elections, and in the past the Israeli High Court of Justice has blocked such efforts. But it is not clear that the Court will rule against the present attempt. Even if the Court overturns a ban on Arab parties, the widespread anger Palestinian citizens of Israel have expressed in response to the recent attacks on Gaza suggests that many Arab voters may refuse to participate in electing a new government next month. As UAL-Ta'al's Member of Knesset Ahmad Tibi said yesterday during a Knesset hearing to discuss the banning of the Arab parties, "we object to targeting civilians and you are committing genocide in Gaza. You're murdering children." In light of such outraged expressions by popular leaders such as Tibi, there is unlikely to be any eagerness among Palestinian citizens of Israel to participate in electing a new government that will certainly support the current military action against Gaza.

The ultra-nationalist Jewish parties which sponsored the ban, Israel Beitenu and National Union-National Religious Party, consider the Arab parties to represent a fifth column in Israel. There are signs that such extreme sentiments are becoming part of the mainstream discourse among Jews in Israel. Last month, Tsipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister and prime ministerial candidate, seemed to echo such views when she suggested that the future creation of a Palestinian state would offer a "national solution" for Arab citizens of Israel. Her remarks, which stoked fear and outrage among Palestinian citizens of Israel, were widely interpreted as suggesting that Arab citizens should prepare themselves for the possibility of involuntary de-patriation. Indeed, as the Israeli media reported soon afterwards, new polls show that Jewish Israelis increasingly favor the idea of ethnic cleansing, or "transfer," of Palestinians out of the territories, and of Arab citizens out of Israel

The effort to ban Arab parties from participating in the upcoming elections is another sign that Israeli politics are increasingly driven by ethnoreligious xenophobia and political absolutism. The military assault on Gaza -- and Israel's continuing refusal to negotiate a fair settlement with the Palestinians -- have certainly intensified such ethnocentrist nationalism, but public support in Israel for such attacks may also be seen as a politically contrived symptom of the increasingly extremist national discourse.

Lincoln Shlensky

From the BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7825032.stm


Item 3: Video of New York rally

In this video, Max Blumenthal of Alternet attends the January 11, 2009 rally in support of Israel's war in New York City. Senator Charles Schumer and Governor David Paterson were featured speakers. Blumenthal asks rally participants how many civilian casualties it would take for them to reconsider Israel's actions. The demonstrators who respond, all of whom seem to be Jewish, offer disturbing and revealing answers that show hardline support for an extreme, militaristic Israel, fears and claims that Israel and Jews are facing a second Holocaust, and blanket accusations and condemnation of Islam. Regarding Islam: if the word "Islam" were replaced with the word "Judaism" on the signs the demonstrators carried, or if "Hamas" were replaced with "Israel," most of the media consuming and producing world would object to the anti-semitism. Demonstrators, the media and, perhaps most importantly, policymakers Schumer and Paterson not only did not object to the signs but rather endorse them by
participating in this rally.

Sarah Anne Minkin



B'tselem: testimony of Nafez a-Daiyah


Testimony: Soldiers Killed and injured dozens of persons from a-Samuni family in a-Zeitun neighborhood, Gaza, Jan. '09

Nafez a-Daiyah, policeman

Our family's house was in the center of Gaza City, next to the Hassan al-Bana mosque. It had four floors, and more than thirty of us lived in it. My brother 'Amer and my four married sisters live elsewhere.

Three days ago, the army called the house of our neighbors, the a-Shatiwi family, and told them that it intended to bomb the house. Their house is only fifteen meters from ours, and only one house stands between us. The a-Shatiwi family left the house after receiving the notice.

My wife, children, and I went to stay with my wife's parents. The distance from their house to our house is about 500 meters. Yesterday morning, after prayers, I heard two explosions from the area of our house. The local radio reported that the army blew up "the house of the a-Daiyah family," in the center of Gaza City. I was at our house in five minutes.

I was shocked. The house was totally destroyed, with only a few pillars remaining. There were body parts everywhere. I started shouting the names of my family, hoping that somebody would answer. Neighbors came to help look for survivors. I only found my brother Muhammad. He was crying and screaming. He told me that the house had been bombed while he was on his way home from prayers, right when he was about to enter. We found 'Amer. He was lightly wounded from shrapnel and was in shock. Then we found my brothers Rida and Radwan, who were in very bad condition. We managed to take them to a-Shifa'a Hospital. They're both in intensive care, and Radwan is brain dead.

From six in the morning until evening prayers, we kept on looking for body parts. This morning, we continued our search until noon. The neighbors helped us, using their two tractors. Rescue forces didn't come because they were busy in other places that had been bombed.

The members of my family who were killed in the bombing are my father, Fayiz, 60, my mother, Kawkab, 55, my sisters Raghdah, 30, and Sabrin, 26, both single. My brother Muhammad's wife, Tazal Isma'il, 26, who was nine months pregnant, and they had four children, Amani, 7, Qamar, 5, Arij, 3, and Yusef, 2. My brother Iyad, 35, his wife Rawdah, 28, and their children 'Ali, 10, Khitam, 9, Alaa, 8, Duha, 6, Sharaf a-Din, 5, and Muhammad, 1. My brother Ramez, 25, his wife Wafaa, 20, and their children, Baraa, 3, and Salsabil, 4 months.

Nafez Fayez a-Daiyah, 38, married with seven children, is a policeman and a resident of Gaza City. His testimony was given to Iyad Hadad by telephone on 7 Jan. '09.

Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman
Jewish Peace News archive and blog: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com
Jewish Peace News sends its news clippings only to subscribers. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or manage your subscription, go to http://www.jewishpeacenews.net

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