Deported Freedom Flotilla activist Mike Treen on way back to NZ

Detained and deported unionist Mike Treen (right) with Kia Ora Gaza’s Roger Fowler in a file photo. Image: Kia Ora Gaza

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Unite union leader Mike Treen, seized and detained by Israeli security forces last weekend along with other human rights campaigners bound for Gaza on board the fishing boat Al Awda, is on his way to Auckland.

Although his laptop computer and cellphone had been confiscated by the authorities, Treen managed to text friends in Auckland from Hongkong airport after being deported by Israel.

Due back at Auckland Airport about midday today, he said in his brief message last night:

“Hi all – I have only a few minutes access right now. I have just arrived at Hong Kong Airport after deportation.

“They stole almost everything I had except my wallet – less most of the money. Now [I] have no phone, computer etc. I am using another deportee’s laptop.

“He was a journalist and treated a bit better. I arrive home on Cathay Pacific at 11.50am tomorrow.

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“Roughed up a bit, tasred (sic) a few times, had my foot stomped on, but we gave them a bit of a message as well.

“See you soon. A few stories to tell.”

‘Brave challenge’
Kia Ora Gaza spokesman Roger Fowler said in a statement on the humanitarian organisation’s website that Treen was a highly respected human rights defender and the national director of the Unite union.

“Facilitated by Kia Ora Gaza and supported by his union, the CTU, and many hundreds of generous New Zealanders, Mike joined dozens of other prominent human rights activists from around the world on the 2018 international Freedom Flotilla, to bravely challenge Israel’s illegal and inhumane 11-year blockade of the two million Palestinians confined in the tiny Gaza Strip,” he said.

The leading boat, the Al Awda, had been “unlawfully hijacked” and boarded in international waters by armed and masked Israeli soldiers last Sunday.

“Mike and others were bashed, tasered, tightly handcuffed and roughly manhandled off the boat during this blatantly illegal act of piracy on the high seas,” Fowler said.

“All communications were cut, and the boat was forced off it’s course to a port in Israel, where the crew and passengers have been unlawfully detained and interrogated for several days, before being deported.”

Aid confiscated
The boat and cargo of essential medical supplies worth $15,000 destined for Gaza had been illegally seized.

All equipment and belongings have been confiscated.

“Most of Mike’s belongings have been stolen by his captors, including a sum of money,” Fowler said.

Fowler criticised Foreign Minister Winston Peters for failing to take a stand or make a public comment on this “outrageous attack on peaceful citizens” on a humanitarian mission in international waters.

Peters said in a letter to Kia Ora Gaza: “Decisions taken by this government on New Zealand support for particular initiatives and resolutions relating to Israel/Palestinian issues are considered carefully, with all necessary consultation having been carried out.

“In all cases, the government remains committed to supporting a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

He said New Zealanders were “advised against all travel to Gaza”.

The Pacific Media Centre has a content sharing arrangement with Kia Ora Gaza.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Mike Treen: Gaza Freedom Flotilla sets sail from Sicily

By Mike Treen on board the Freedom Flotilla

After months of preparation and training, the Freedom Flotilla is ready to depart for Gaza today.

The converted fishing trawler I am travelling on, the Al Awda (Return), along with three sailing yachts have been under constant guard as previous flotillas have been sabotaged in foreign ports by the Israeli secret services trying to stop the attempts to break the blockade.

I have met up with my fellow Kiwi of Palestinian descent, Youssef Sammour, a sailor and yacht engineer currently working in Dubai, who leaves Palermo after 45 days at sea.

READ MORE: Freedom Flotilla coalition 2018 mission

He has been sailing on the flotilla yacht Freedom since Amsterdam. If the boats are intercepted and the crew arrested they will all be subjected to a 10-year ban on re-entering Israel.

As a third generation refugee, Youssef does not want to rule out the possibility in the future of visiting his homeland.

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Youssef considers himself a Kiwi as he has spent half his life in New Zealand at school and university. His father Khalil got work in New Zealand as a surgeon at Greymouth Hospital on the West Coast of the South Island.

My mum, Joan, grew up in Blackball, a small mining town just outside of Greymouth, and went to school in Greymouth. My Granddad, Walter Kirk, was a miner and a unionist, and part of the “red” Federation of Labour, the first national union federation formed in 1920 which had its national headquarters in Blackball.

Famous figures
Famous figures of the New Zealand Labour movement – Paddy Webb, Bob Semple, Walter Nash, Harry Holland – were household names, friends or colleagues.

Granddad was also one of the first, if not the first, Kiwi to play rugby league professionally in Australia for at least one season in the early 1900s.

For mum, Blackball was home, and it was where she wanted her ashes spread when she died which we were able to do five years ago. The only problem is she wanted them spread at the top of a steep mountain range behind Blackball known as The Creases.

I was back on May Day this year to commemorate the fifth anniversary of her death.

Youssef’s dad didn’t actually want to go to Greymouth – too small, isolated, and cold. He left his wife and son in Auckland and visited when he could.

Yet three years later, by the time he had finished his contract in Greymouth, Youssef says his father left in tears as he had come to love the place his colleagues, patients, and the wonderful people of Greymouth.

Youssef’s family’s story is both typical and special. Youssef’s dad was born on May 15, 1948 – the day known in Palestinian history as the Nakba – the day of “catastrophe”. The Jewish settlers proclaimed the state of Israel and presided over the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians.

Traumatised by events
Youssef’s grandmother went into labour while on the road from Palestine to Lebanon. She gave birth to Khalil and was so traumatised by the events that she could not breast feed her child. They were forced to crush almonds for the milk to feed him along the way.

His parents were childhood friends, growing up in a refugee camp in Lebanon. Dad went to Cairo to become a surgeon and Samira, Youssef’s mum stayed in Beirut to study Chemistry. They ended up meeting again a few years later as they found themselves working in the same hospital in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

They are still happily married today, Khalil is in his last year of work as chief of the surgical department in a private hospital in the Emirates.

They are looking to move back to NZ and finally get some well earned R&R. For a Palestinian family, home can be Beirut, Auckland or Greymouth, but often never Haifa, the home of their birth, even to scatter their ashes as I was able to do for my mum.

The Al Awda, one of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla’s four boats. Mike Treen is on board for the final leg of her voyage to Gaza. Image: Kia Ora Gaza

My own place on the Al Awda, I am taking over from another young Palestinian scholar, Awni Farhat, who grew up and Gaza and completed a master’s degree in human rights conflict studies in the Netherlands, but can’t return like a normal person to visit his family.

Such are the many small, but cruel, ironies of life in occupied Palestine.

Al Awda was a Norwegian fishing trawler. Scandinavians have been strong supporters of the decade-long campaign to breach the blockade from sea. Like New Zealand, these countries have strong fishing industries.

Blockade inhumanity
One aspect of the inhumanity of the blockade is stopping the fishing people in Gaza from plying their trade – even within the 12-mile maritime boundaries.

A reign of terror is maintained. Boats are fired on several times a day, dozens of fishers are wounded and a few killed each year. Just this last few weeks a limit of three nautical miles has been imposed. Several boats in Gaza that were planning to meet our small armada were singled out to be bombed in port.

Swedish sailors and campaign supporters were instrumental supplying the three yachts – Freedom, Mairead and Falestine – that have been part of the flotilla from the beginning of the journey in May. A Danish Socialist MP, Mikkel Gruner, is on the Al Awda. We have a professional chef from a leading restaurant as our personal cook.

Torstein Dahle, a city council member in the port city of Bergen and leader of the Red Party in Norway has spearheaded getting a fishing boat ready that can be donated to the fishers of Gaza and be able to carry the crew and volunteers to break the blockade.

This work to transform the ship began in January this year. A volunteer team of engineers, mechanics, carpenters and electricians have laboured for hundreds of hours to complete the work in time for the sailing part of the journey to begin.

In many ways this is a project of direct solidarity from workers and fishers in Scandinavia to the fishers of Gaza. They have generously allowed some others to join them because we have our own positions in our own societies and can amplify their message across the globe.

Workers intervene
Other workers have intervened to ensure the boats can reach their goal. The port authorities near Lisbon, Portugal, tried to prevent the ship’s entry until the port workers union Sindicato Dos Estivadores E Da Actividade Logistica told them they would have a serious problem if they tried.

That has been the pattern through the journey. Usually national governments and the police try to make life hard, while local governments and the people’s organisations welcome the boats.

One yacht was rammed and damaged by French police boats in Paris. In Palermo where we are at the moment, the mayor, Leoluca Orlando, who comes from people’s campaigns against corruption and Mafia control of the Church and the state in Sicily has announced that port will be renamed in remembrance to the historic Palestinian national leader Yasser Arafat who died, or more likely murdered by Israel, in 2004.

He is also fighting to preserve the city as a place of safe haven for refugees and beat back attempts by the right-wing and fascist forces in Italy to blame refugees for the social problems created by the capitalist Europe project which has resulted in nothing but austerity, welfare cuts and growing unemployment for working people across Europe.

The Freedom Flotilla participants were also warmly welcomed by thousands of Italian and Spanish supporters of refugee rights and open borders in a joint march through the fantastically beautiful city at night.

Everything is on Mediterranean time here. The place comes alive from 7pm when many central city streets are closed to cars, and families (including young children which made my Anglo-Kiwi mind a bit uncomfortable) enjoy meals on street tables until late at night.

Palermo is the capital city of Sicily and has a history going back 2700 years. It has been governed and settled by Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans. It is a historical and cultural centre for the meeting points between west and east in Europe.

Mike Treen (left) and Youssef Sammour with the Palestinian Ambassador to Italy, Dr Mai Alkailla. Image: Kia Ora Gaza

Ambassador’s visit
The Ambassador from Palestine to Italy, Dr Mai Alkaila, came to visit on July 18 during our training session to express solidarity and support. There was an unplanned and tearful reunion with Dr Swee Ang, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon; author of From Beirut to Jerusalem and the ship’s doctor.

Dr Ang’s journey with Palestine began as a volunteer surgeon in Gaza Hospital in Beirut’s Sabra Shatila Palestinian refugee camp in 1982. About three weeks after her arrival, more than 3000 of them were massacred.

These events traumatised the young surgeon and Dr Ang describes how the love and generosity of the Palestinian people helped bring her back to a purposeful meaningful life – but now one forever intertwined with the fate of the Palestinian people.

Dr Ang served in Gaza in 1988-89 during the first Intifada and again in 2009 after the Israeli invasion of Gaza in December 2008 that left thousands of casualties.

The ambassador generously offered to bring lunch the next day which she duly delivered and then served it herself – bodyguards discretely in the background. That day she spoke to Youssef and myself to say how she had delivered a special message of thanks to the NZ Embassy in Rome for New Zealand taking up the sponsorship of a UN Security Council resolution in December 2016 critical of the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

This resolution was significant because the US abstained rather than veto it as they usually did anything critical of Israel. This is not a new stance for New Zealand but one of the original sponsors had pulled out and it seems that then NZ Foreign Minister Murray McCully agreed to sponsor it without checking with the Prime Minister.

It led to Israel withdrawing its ambassador to New Zealand and barring the New Zealand ambassador in Israel. Diplomatic relations were restored in June 2017 after then Prime Minister Bill English wrote a cowardly letter to Israel expressing “regret” over the fallout from the resolution.

Peters not happy
The current Foreign Minister and NZ First leader, Winston Peters, who has a strong personal bias towards Israel, was not happy. The resolution features in the Labour-New Zealand First coalition agreement, which states a commitment to “record a Cabinet minute regarding the lack of process followed prior to the National-led government’s sponsorship of UNSC2334”.

Ambassador Alkaila also expressed her delight at the decision of NZ artist Lorde to boycott performing in Israel.

A city reception was also held and then the mayor and the ambassador joined and spoke at a support function in the evening of July 19.

We have had intensive training from US professionals in non-violent resistance. Tips have been given from those arrested, abused, or tasered by the Israeli military on previous expeditions on what might be expected.

Only one previous Gaza blockade shift saw casualties. In 2010, a six-boat flotilla led by a Turkish ship the MV Mavi Marmara, with almost 500 passengers was assaulted in the middle of the night and 10 were killed and dozens injured. This led to a prolonged diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Israel. Turkey as a NATO member is one of the few majority Muslim countries to maintain friendly relations with Israel.

Since then Israel has usually just boarded the ships, towed them to port and deported the participants after a few days of questioning.

My fellow passengers on the Al Awda are an extraordinary group. I hope to have a chance to talk to them more during our journey and get to tell their stories over the next few weeks.

Blockade must end
Whatever happens on this trip to Gaza, the siege and blockade will end.

lsrael is increasingly revealing its racist, authoritarian character. There are 13 million Palestinian people. Seven and a half million are displaced or in exile. Six and a half million Palestinians continue to live in historic Palestine alongside six and a half million people of Jewish descent.

A way must, and will be found to destroy the apartheid system that seeks to preserve the ethnic superiority of one group over another and allow that majority of people in the the region who want to live in peace and security to do so.

Mike Treen is the New Zealand representative on the 2018 international Freedom Flotilla determined to break through Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza. The national director of the Unite Union and a veteran human rights defender is reporting here in rthe first of a series of reports for Kia Ora Gaza. The reports are being shared on Asia Pacific Report by arrangement.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Five Palestinians cheering for France at the World Cup 20 years on

French football fans hold a minute of silence to mark the one-year anniversary of the November 13 Paris attacks ahead of the 2018 World Cup group A qualifying football match between France and Sweden at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on November 11, 2016. Images: FIFA.com

By Marwan Bishara

Twenty years ago, I was asked by the General Council of the Parisian suburb Seine-Saint-Denis to invite four Palestinian youth to attend the World Cup in France and to organise their visit.

At the time, football was the last thing on my mind. I was finishing my doctorate in France, doing my research on Israel/Palestine and, in between, participating actively in human rights campaigns.

But then, this wasn’t just about football and the World Cup. It was also about an act of solidarity and fraternity that French progressives wanted to undertake.

READ MORE: Paul Lewis: Why the world needs France to win the World Football Cup

So, I accepted the mission, only to realise that this would turn into an experience of a lifetime for me and for the lucky four who made it from Palestine to Paris.

In order to pick the four young Palestinians, I ran a lottery in a weekly newspaper called, Fasl Al Maqal, published in Nazareth but distributed throughout Palestine. I ended up with four lucky winners from the Galilee, the West Bank and Gaza.

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The French consulate in Jerusalem was just as excited as we were and issued the visas rather swiftly to enter France. That was the easy part. Leaving Israeli-controlled Palestine was another matter.

At every checkpoint we had to pass, we were stopped and questioned. At Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, it was even worse.

More harassment
Once the security officers heard where we were going and what we were going for, their jealousy transformed into more questioning and harassment.

The winner from Gaza was not let in on the flight. The poor guy had to turn back, go to Rafah, cross into Egypt and fly to Paris from Cairo. He, too, made it in the end, albeit a bit late.

Once in France, we were accommodated in a youth facility in a suburb west of Paris along with youth from France and elsewhere. As my Palestinian companions kicked around the ball with their French peers, their only common language was football and that’s all they needed to communicate.

When we made it to the Stade de France stadium, located in Seine-Saint-Denis, for the semi-finals between France and Croatia, to our surprise, we found out that all five of us were in fact VIP guests at the council’s special suite.

It is difficult to describe the scene of four young men who had never been outside their camp, town or homeland being introduced to Parisian elegance.

Imagine, young Palestinians in jeans and sneakers and with a big passion for football walking into the VIP lounge of Stade de France and mingling with the French elites and international celebrities.

Imagine them strolling across the lounge, past beautiful hostesses, and onto the open balcony that overlooked the pitch where 22 football superstars were lining up to the cheers of 80,000 fans.

Best French cuisine
And that wasn’t all, for me at least: The menu featured the best of French cuisine and wines. As the guys cheered, I ate.

When the match started, one of the Palestinians whispered in my ear: “Isn’t this just a perfect place to plant a Palestinian flag?” And it was. One of them had brought a small flag along just in case so we put it up.

Our French hosts were generous and gracious with the Palestinian boys. And the most excited and passionate among them was a progressive French Jew. He was also the funniest. This added yet another twist to our journey, for until that moment a couple of my travel companions had never met a Jew who wasn’t a soldier or a settler.

And here they were – on an exciting trip, watching a World Cup match, in an amazing city, at a spectacular stadium, hanging out with wonderful people.

Oh, and what a match it was! France beat Croatia 2-1 in a thrilling 90 minutes!

It was our win too. It was heaven on earth. There was no fear, no hate, just bonheur.

And it went on. Three days later, on July 11 we went to the playoff for the third place at the Parc des Princes stadium where Croatia beat the Netherlands.

Back to reality
After that match, the reality came back to the Palestinian four, as we began to prepare for the departure. One or two began to wonder why they had to leave, or more accurately, how they could go back, how they could live a normal life after all they had seen.

But this wasn’t going to be the end of the wonderful trip. I had a surprise for them: We were going to the World Cup final! We were going to see France and Brazil play. They just couldn’t believe it.

My ticket from the 1998 World Cup final between France and Brazil. Image: Marwan Bishara/Al Jazeera

July 12 was an unforgettable day. The match was exciting. Zinedine Zidan scored twice, France won 3-0. But it seemed the sweetest victory that that day belonged to my young Palestinian companions. They saw it all and they were going to tell and retell that story for decades to come.

After the game, we went to Champs Elysees to celebrate along with thousands of French fans until the early hours of the morning. One of us even got a French kiss.

When in Paris, you kiss and tell. And what happens at the World Cup doesn’t stay at the World Cup.

Now there was an urgent need to go home and tell the story about a dream come through.

I think about these young men and those glorious days every four years when the World Cup kicks off. And I bet, these four Palestinians, who are now grown-up middle-aged men, will be rooting for Les Bleus today, just like I will.

Dr Marwan Bishara is the senior political analyst at Al Jazeera. This article is republished with the author’s permission.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Gallery: Peaceful protest highlights ‘Nakba’ injustices in Palestine

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

About 50 people staged a “wall of noise” protest in Auckland’s port today in a bid to shut down the Israeli “festival of oppression” marking 70 years of illegal occupation of Palestinian land.

Protesting at the Silo Park over what Palestinians regard as the Nakba – “the catastophe” – when the state of Israel was established in 1948 through “ethnic cleansing” of an estimated 750,000 to one million indigenous Palestinians.

The Palestinians were forced to become refugees in a Jewish-majority state in Palestine and the day – 14 May 1948 – is regarded as Israel’s independence day.

“The Nakba isn’t just a crime of the past,” said Auckland Peace Action group spokesperson Valerie Morse, one of the organisers. “The repression is ongoing.”

The Pacific Media Centre’s Rahul Bhattarai and Del Abcede were at Silo Park to capture the protest in pictures.

1. Free Palestine march in Auckland. Image: Rahul Bhattarai/PMC

2. Getting ready for the march. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

3. Women in red – Auckland Peace Action’s Valerie Morse (left) and a protester from Argentina. Image: Rahul Bhattarai/PMC

4. Pacific human rights and independent media advocate Will ‘Ilolahia and media academic David Robie. Image: Rahul Bhattarai/PMC

5. Protesting against Zionist oppression for 70 years through the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

6. Marching for Palestine. Image: Rahul Bhattarai/PMC

7. Marching for Palestine. Image: Rahul Bhattarai/PMC

8. Marching for Palestine. Image: Rahul Bhattarai/PMC

9. Protest placard against the Israeli massacres. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

10. Reaching the “safe zone” line. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

11. Protest for Palestine. Image: Rahul Bhattarai/PMC

12. Boycott Israel call as part of the international BDS movement. Image: Rahul Bhattarai/PMC

13. Zionist counter-protesters breach the “safe zone” under the oblivious eye of the police. Image: Rahul Bhattarai/PMC

14. Boycott Israel under watchful eye of the police. Image: Rahul Bhattarai/PMC

15. “No trade with Israel”. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Why is Israel so afraid of 16-year-old Palestinian girl Ahed Tamimi?

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Why is Israel so afraid of 16-year-old Palestinian girl Ahed Tamimi?

OPINION: By Ariel Gold and Taylor Morley

Sixteen-year-old Ahed Tamimi was back in court last Thursday, with the judge ruling for the third time that her detention be extended – this time for another five days.

Over the past week and a half, Ahed has been shuffled between numerous Israeli prisons and police stations. She has been held in cold isolation cells with cameras pointed at her 24 hours a day.

Repeatedly, without a parent or lawyer present, they have attempted to interrogate her. The reasoning for the judge’s rulings to extend her detention is that she “poses a risk” to the military and the Israeli government’s case against her.

Israel is right that Ahed Tamimi poses a risk. But it isn’t a risk to one of the most heavily armed and advanced militaries in the world or to the legal case being built against her.

The risk she poses is in her refusal to submit to the Israeli demand that Palestinians acquiesce to their own occupation.

Israeli logic is that Palestinians should cooperate with their own oppression. They should move quietly through the checkpoints, open their bags, not look their occupiers in the eye and not challenge or protest the theft of their lands, resources and freedoms.

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Israeli logic is that if they don’t like it, they can leave. Actually, they would strongly prefer that Palestinians leave. The strategy is to make life so unbearable for Palestinians, that they leave willingly. This even has a name: “voluntary transfer.”

Regular resistance
Since Ahed was a young child, she and her family have engaged in active resistance to Israel’s occupation. From 2013 up until the present, they have staged regular demonstrations against the military and the nearby settlers who have taken over their lands and water spring.

The protests are met with tear gas, rubber bullets, skunk water and live ammunition.

In 2012, Ahed’s father was declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. In 2013, her uncle was killed by a tear gas canister shot to the head. In 2014, her mother was almost permanently disabled when she was shot in the leg with a .22 caliber bullet.

In 2015, a video of Ahed preventing her younger brother from being arrested went viral. Her cousins and her older brother have spent time in Israeli prisons.

On Friday, December 15, during a protest of President Trump’s announcement of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Ahed’s 14-year-old cousin Mohammed Tamimi was shot in the face with a rubber bullet. He was taken to the hospital where he required surgery and a was placed in a medically induced coma.

A few hours later, when armed soldiers came to Ahed’s home demanding to enter, she pushed back. She slapped and kicked them, and screamed that they could not come in.

Shenila Khoja-Moolji wrote in Aljazeera about the stark contrast between the support Malala Yousafzai received after being shot in the head by the Taliban and the silence on Ahed’s case by feminist and political leaders.

Big difference
Granted, there is a big difference between being shot on the way to school and arrested after slapping a soldier.

Malala was invited to meet with President Barack Obama. She was championed by Senator Hillary Clinton and listed as one of the 100 most influential people in Time magazine.

In 2013 and 2014, Malala was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and in 2014, she won. In contrast, while Ahed’s story has received some coverage in the news, she has yet to find state actors or prominent influencers to champion her cause.

While the West seems mostly indifferent to Ahed’s plight, Israel is hell-bent on hating the girl.

Israeli Education Minister Neftali Bennett called for Ahed and her family to “spend the rest of their lives in prison.”

Minister of Defence Avigdor Liberman said she and her family should “get what they deserve,” and prominent Israeli journalist Ben Caspit said that Israel should “exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras”.

Caspit afterwards tried to backpedal his threat, saying his words had been taken out of context. But as the #MeToo movement has made clear, denying one’s intentions does not undo or excuse them.

Marginalised voices
As the #MeToo movement continues to build and uplift more marginalised voices, Ahed’s voice is not recognised when she could be regarded as a pillar in the movement.

Ahed is revoking her consent for Israel’s brutal occupation. She refuses to give her consent to Israeli forces that invade her family’s home in yet another vicious, meritless night raid. She confronts her aggressors and stands up to the violent system of power that keeps perpetuating this cycle of abuse against Palestinians.

In the same way survivors of sexual assault and rape are silenced, doubted and blamed for the crimes committed against them, Ahed is facing the same backlash from her aggressors.

Israel is working overtime to discredit her and erase her voice, with the hope that people will believe their fabrications over her truth. Now is the time for voices in the #MeToo to call for her release and help draw the parallels.

Shenila Khoja-Moolji explains the reasons for such lack of support for Ahed as being due to acceptance of state violence, Western society’s selective humanitarianism and the political, rather than individual nature of Ahed’s feminism.

These are all valid and important explanations. But support for Ahed is also a condemnation of the state of Israel. It is a condemnation of Israel’s military court system which allows children to be held in isolation and denied access to their parents during interrogation.

It is a condemnation of Israel’s settlement enterprise and continued presence on Palestinian land. To support Ahed is to rebuke Israel’s assertion that Palestinians must comply with their occupiers, that they must open the doors for the soldiers who enter their homes.

Internal power
Certainly their 16-year-old girls must not raise an arm to soldiers. It is one thing to support Malala for taking on the Taliban, but quite another to support Ahed as she takes on Israel’s strongest allies and the purported only democracy in the Middle East.

Not all feminist leaders are afraid to express support for Ahed. CodePink is hosting a petition to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, demanding Ahed’s release. We, along with others, like Jewish Voice for Peace, are asking Members of Congress to sign onto Representative Betty McCollum’s legislation to require that US aid to Israel not go to the abuse and detention of Palestinian children.

Ahed is a threat to Israel’s entire system of power. She is not only aware of her own internal power, she is completely unafraid of her aggressors.

This is the same bravery required for sexual assault survivors to tell their stories and hold their accusers responsible. It is the essence of the struggle for women’s rights and why feminism is so incompatible with militarism.

For Ahed to be successful in her fight for the liberation of her people, we first need her to be released from jail. To make this happen, we need all people who call themselves feminists and human rights advocates to say #FreeAhed.

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One Palestinian family’s devastating story of Israeli military cruelty

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: One Palestinian family’s devastating story of Israeli military cruelty

OPINION: By Sister Barbara Cameron

When I read last week of the detention of a young Palestinian teenage girl, 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi, dragged from her bed in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers, for me it wasn’t just another Palestinian teenage protester.

I was devastated. This is the beautiful young woman I’d met as a happy, innocent 10-year-old, in whose house I’d slept, with whose family I’d sat at table, to whose grandmother I had listened as she shared the pain of the terrible things her own children had suffered at the hands of the Israeli military, her daughter shot in a military court room, her son detained innumerable times.

I was gutted thinking of this family having to deal with yet another trauma, fearing what might happen to their 16-year-old daughter in military detention.

READ MORE: Why is the West praising Malala but ignoring Ahed?

Ahed with her mother Nariman … a family suffering again from the cruelty and injustice of the Israeli occupation. Image: Al Jazeera

Not only that but her 15-year-old brother, Mohammed, is now lying in an induced coma as the result of the injury caused by being shot in the face by a rubber bullet. For me it was heartbreaking news.

In 2011, as a NZ Catholic nun, a Mission Sister, I had volunteered with the International Women’s Peace Service group in Palestine on the West Bank, a group that supports the Palestinians in any nonviolent resistance to the occupation of their land by Israel, and reports on human rights abuses.

It was at that time I had the privilege of meeting Ahed’s father, Basem Tamimi, a charismatic village leader (in my book, another Gandhi or Mandela), whose gentleness and commitment to nonviolent, peaceful protest against the Israeli occupation of their land was in stark contrast with the picture of protesters I’d formed, from the media, of Palestinian resistance to occupation.

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In that man’s home, with that little girl and their family, we enjoyed the warm, generous hospitality, typical of Palestine.

Accused by military police
Within days of that experience Basem was picked up by the Israeli military police accused of inciting protesters to throw stones at the soldiers.

What follows are excerpts from the speech Basem gave in the military court in June 2011.

“In my lifetime I have been nine times imprisoned for an overall of almost three years, though I was never charged or convicted. During my imprisonment, I was paralysed as a result of torture by your investigators…

“International law guarantees the right of the occupied people to resist occupation. In practising my right I have called for and organised peaceful, popular demonstrations against the occupation, settler attacks and the theft of more than half the land of my village…

“Our demonstrations are in protest of injustice. We work hand in hand with Israeli and international activists who believe like us that had it not been for the occupation, we could all live in peace on this land…

“I did not incite anyone to throw stones, but I am not responsible for the security of your soldiers who invade my village and attack my people with all the weapons of death and the equipment of terror…

“Despite all your racist and inhumane practices and Occupation we will continue to believe in peace, justice and human values. We will still raise our children to love; love the land and the people without discrimination of race, religion, or ethnicity, embodying thus the message of the messenger of peace, Jesus Christ, who urged us to “love our enemy”.

“With love and justice we make peace and build the future.”

Again suffering cruelty
Now, six years later in the wake of the demonstrations on the West Bank following Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, this family is again suffering from the cruelty and injustice of the occupation.

Ahed Tamimi, who was arrested by the Israeli army on December 20 is now scheduled for trial. This is the second delay in her trial date. Her father, Basem, has been summoned for interrogation. Her mother, Nariman, is still being held in detention.

This update from Basem:

“They dragged Ahed out of bed, handcuffed her and put her in the back of their military jeep. She is 16 years old.

“The next morning, my wife went to the police station to be with our daughter as she was interrogated. But Israel took her into custody as well. The following day, they arrested my 21-year-old niece Nour.

“This is too much! Israel must immediately release the Tamimi women! They must stop their persecution of my family.

“All of this started last Friday when soldiers in my village shot 15-year-old Mohammed Tamimi directly in the face with a rubber-coated steel bullet. Following surgery, Mohammad had to be placed in a medically induced coma.

“Then the soldiers came to our home. Ahed and Nour slapped the soldiers in the face and pushed them back, yelling that they could not enter our home.

“The Israeli military is threatened by our regular protests, by our refusal to live with occupation.”

Focus on ‘slapping’
What some people will focus on reading this or hearing the news will be the slapping of an Israeli soldier by a 16-year-old Palestinian girl.

What we don’t usually hear about is the provocation that leads to the reaction. In this case we do … the shooting of a rubber bullet in the face of the girl’s 15-year-old brother which has left her brother in an induced coma, and the ongoing history of harassment that family has experienced .

In the light of all this suffering by the Palestinians over 50 years and in an effort to end the violence and the occupation, Palestine leadership some years ago asked the international community to support them in one of the few nonviolent ways pressure can be brought to bear on the occupying force, that is through the BDS movement – the boycott of Israel, as was done in the past to bring an end to apartheid in South Africa.

That is why Lorde’s decision to cancel her tour to Israel is significant and she deserves to be commended for her courage in taking such a principled stand. Where you have victims and oppressors we all know on whose side we should stand.

New Zealand and New Zealanders have done that in the past. Let’s continue to do this for all the children and young people of our world, who suffer at the hands of military power, for Ahed and Mohammad, for their grandmother, for their mother and father, for the whole Tamimi family.

Sister Barbara Cameron is a Mission Sister in Morrinsville.

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Australia, Pacific nations sidestep overwhelming UN vote on Jerusalem

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Australia, Pacific nations sidestep overwhelming UN vote on Jerusalem

Palestinians react to the Security Council vote on Jerusalem vetoed by the US earlier this week. Video: Al Jazeera

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Australia and other Pacific nations did not join almost 130 countries in an overwhelming vote at the UN demanding the United States drop its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, reports RNZ Pacific.

US President Donald Trump had threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that voted in favour.

A total of 128 countries — including New Zealand — backed the resolution, which is non-binding, nine voted against — including Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau and Nauru — and 35 abstained.

Twenty-one countries, including Samoa and Tonga, did not cast a vote.

New Zealand supported the UN resolution calling for the US to withdraw a decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

-Partners-

New Zealand’s longstanding foreign policy position supports a two-state solution.

President Trump’s move overturned decades of American foreign policy and defied world opinion.

The 35 abstentions included Australia, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Tuvalu.

US ‘leadership role’
Australian UN Ambassador Gillian Bird said Australia wanted to see the US play a leadership role in brokering peace and abstained from the vote, saying: “We do not wish to see any party isolated from the process.”

“There is much in this resolution with which we agree,” Bird told the General Assembly after the vote.

“We do not, however, consider that this further resolution in addition to the many on the peace process issued by the general assembly helps brings the parties back to the negotiating table.

Nevertheless, Washington found itself isolated as many of its Western and Arab allies voted for the measure.

Some of those allies, like Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, are major recipients of US military or economic aid, although the US threat to cut aid did not single out any country.

A spokesman for Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the vote “a victory for Palestine” but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the vote as “preposterous”.

US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, told the 193-member General Assembly ahead of Thursday’s vote: “The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation.”

Australia was joined by Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Philippines, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan in abstaining.

Micronesian nations
Guatemala, Honduras and Togo joined the Micronesian Pacific countries, formerly administered by Washington as a UN trust territory, US and Israel in voting no.

According to figures from the US government’s aid agency USAID, in 2016 the US provided some $US13 billion in economic and military assistance to countries in sub-Saharan Africa and $US1.6 billion to states in East Asia and Oceania.

The General Assembly vote was called at the request of Arab and Muslim countries after the United States vetoed the same resolution on Monday in the 15-member UN Security Council.

The remaining 14 Security Council members voted in favour of the Egyptian-drafted resolution, which did not specifically mention the US or Trump but expressed “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem”.

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Palestinian rally in Auckland supports ‘Day of Rage’ for free Jerusalem

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Palestinian rally in Auckland supports ‘Day of Rage’ for free Jerusalem

As Palestinians protest against US President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Democracy Now! profiles the issues. Video: Democracy Now!

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Nearly 400 Aucklanders, from a wide variety of backgrounds, joined in an impromptu rally and peaceful march today for a Free Jerusalem – “the heart of Palestine”.

The protest was called by the NZ Palestine Solidarity Network in urgent response to US President Donald Trump’s proclamation that the US considered Jerusalem to be the “capital of Israel” and to move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Palestinian families at the weekend Auckland rally in support of the “Day of Rage” protests over the US move on Jerusalem. Image: David Robie/PMC

The rally came as   a “Day of Rage” protests continued for a fourth day across the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

The demonstrations yesterday came as Palestinian leaders were to meet in Ramallah to firm up a response to US President Donald Trump’s controversial move.

In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces fired stun grenades and tear gas as they charged – some on horseback – through a crowd of at least 100 peaceful demonstrators in Salah Eddin, one of the city’s busiest shopping streets, reports Al Jazeera.

-Partners-

At least 13 Palestinians were detained and 12 injured as Israeli troops pushed and beat demonstrators at the scene. Among those held was Jihad Abu Zneid, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Before her arrest, Abu Zneid told Al Jazeera the protesters were determined to “never give up”.

In Cairo, the head of the Arab League called President Trump’s decision on Jerusalem as “dangerous and unacceptable” and a “flagrant attack on a political solution” to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

The statement by Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, the regional bloc’s secretary-general, came at the start of an emergency meeting of foreign ministers from 22 Arab states in Egypt’s capital.

Shut Israeli embassy call
In Auckland, Kia Ora Gaza reports that after short, passionate speeches by justice campaigners, union leaders and spokespersons from the local Palestinian community, the rally unanimously endorsed a resolution to “demand the NZ government strongly oppose the US president’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel”, and as an act of sanction, “shut down the Israeli embassy in Wellington”.

Mike Treen, national director of the Unite Union, told the crowd that his union moved a motion supporting Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) to sever ties with Israel, which was passed by the CTU.

One protester, Ricardo, reflected on today’s march: “There’s something awesome about communities that are often ‘invisibilised’ by mainstream politics coming together and making their voices heard.”

“Members of the Palestinian community in Aotearoa/New Zealand (and supporters) came out to protest against Trump appointing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“The demands were clear: For the government to shut down its Israeli embassy and for the Government to openly and strongly condemn the Trump’s administration for these actions that are already a fanning the flames of conflict.

I have always held a lot of solidarity with Palestinians, having grown up by the US/Mexico border, another example of border imperialism that has displaced and dispossessed many. I hope one day we can fully dismantle these institutions that continue to divide us.”

Democracy Now! has featured women Palestinian writers and campaigners denouncing the US president’s move.

The independent multimedia programme East Jerusalem to spoke with Budour Hassan, a Palestinian writer and project coordinator for the Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights in east Jerusalem; Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace; and were  We joined in Ramallah by Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian politician and scholar.

The Palestinian solidarity march down Auckland’s Queen Street from Aotea Square to protest at the US Consulate on Saturday. Image: Roger Fowler/Kia Ora Gaza

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