Monday, July 6, 2015

When Palestinians Die in Palestinian Jails

by Khaled Abu Toameh July 6, 2015
  • Like the mainstream media in the West, the UN chooses to look the other way when Palestinians torture or kill fellow Palestinians.
  • The Palestinian Authority and Hamas claim that the three men committed suicide.
  • When three detainees die in less than a week, this should sound an alarm. But pro-Palestinian groups and human rights activists do not care about the human rights of Palestinians if Israel cannot be held responsible. Their obsession with Israel has made them blind to the plight of Palestinians living under the Palestinian Authority.

Three Palestinian men were found dead in their jail cells in the West Bank and Gaza Strip this past week.

But their stories did not attract the attention of the international media or human rights organizations in the U.S. and Europe. Nor was their case brought to the attention of the United Nations or the International Criminal Court (ICC).

By contrast, the case of 17-year-old Mohamed Kasba, who was shot dead north of Jerusalem by an Israeli army officer as he attacked the officer's car with stones, received widespread coverage in the Western media.

The UN even rushed to condemn the killing of Kasba, and called for an "immediate end" to violence and for everyone to keep calm. "This reaffirms the need for a political process aiming to establish two states living beside each other safely and peacefully," said UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Maldenov.

The UN official, needless to say, made no reference to the deaths that occurred in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas jails. He did not even see a need to express concern over the deaths or call for an investigation. Like the mainstream media in the West, the UN chooses to look the other way when Palestinians torture or kill fellow Palestinians.

The reason the case of the three detainees will not interest anyone in the international community is because the men did not die in an Israeli jail. Instead, the three men died while being held in Palestinian-controlled jails.

Had the three men died in Israeli detention, their names would have most likely appeared on the front pages of most leading Western newspapers. The families of the three men would have also been busy talking to Western journalists about Israeli "atrocities" and "human rights violations."

But no respected Western journalist is going to visit any of the families of the three detainees: they did not die in an Israeli jail.

The same week that the three Palestinian men were found dead in jail, the UN Human Rights Council decided to adopt a resolution condemning Israel over the UN report into last year's Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip. Again, the UN Human Rights Council chose to ignore human rights violations by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, who deny detainees basic rights and proper medical treatment.

Two of them died in PA security installations in Bethlehem, while the third was found dead in a Hamas-controlled jail in the Gaza Strip.The Palestinian Authority and Hamas claim that the three men committed suicide.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), a Gaza-based non-profit group dedicated to protecting human rights, promoting the rule of law and upholding democratic principles in the Palestinian territories, called for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the detainees.

"PCHR stresses that the Palestinian Authority is responsible for the lives of prisoners and detainees under its control and is thus responsible for treating them with dignity, including offering them medical care," the group said in a statement.

When three detainees die in less than a week in Palestinian detention, this should sound an alarm bell, especially among so-called pro-Palestinian groups and human rights activists in different parts of the world.

But these folks, like the UN and mainstream media, do not care about the human rights of the Palestinians if Israel cannot be held responsible. Their obsession with Israel has made them blind to the plight of Palestinians living under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, as well as to the horrific crimes committed every day by Muslim terrorists in the Middle East and elsewhere.

The story of the three men who died in Palestinian jails is yet another example of the double standards that the international community and media employ when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Egypt Destroys 1.5 km Smuggling Tunnel Near Rafah

Egyptian forces on Saturday discovered and destroyed a 1.5 kilometer smuggling tunnel beneath the Gazan border, the Egyptian army said. Egyptian security sources told Ma'an that the tunnel was found by Egyptian border guards in the Dayniya area south of Rafah. They said that eight sacks of explosive TNT material and a half-ton of C-4 -- another explosive material -- had been found inside the tunnel. Both the tunnel and the explosive material were destroyed by the army... [The Ma'an editors seem to have no problem headlining the story as being about a smuggling tunnel, and casually including a reference to colossal quantities of explosives. ]

The following comment is cross posted from bloggist "This Ongoing War"  

Bottom line: there's no problem securing enough cement in today's Gaza to construct a 1.5 kilometer long, underground cement tube, if you're Hamas. And if ordinary Gazans can't get their hands on cement, it's because that's the way Hamas wants it to be.

And why, looking at the world through Islamist terrorists' eyes, would you want it to be any different?: keep the stuff to yourself to build your own aggressive capabilities, and keep the reporters and photographers busy chronicling the suffering of cement-challenged ordinary folk. Win/win, it's called.

A Bloomberg report last summer ["
Gaza's Next Disaster: No Cement for Rebuilding", July 31, 2014] quoted estimates that every one of the scores of Hamas tunnels on Gaza's periphery "required 350 truckloads of building supplies". A previously uncovered Hamas tunnel on the scale of the one just destroyed was estimated by IDF sources quoted in a Washington Post article ["How Hamas uses its tunnels to kill and capture Israeli soldiers"] a year ago to have taken about two years of work, $10 million of capital, and some 800 tons of concrete. In a different world, that could have produced a substantial number of new homes, medical clinics and upward-facing lives.

By the way, did Friday's report of the massive concrete-lined Hamas tunnel found and destroyed along with the explosive materials stored inside it, make it to the news reports in your community?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Faiths pull together in Haifa for world’s biggest magic trick

Israeli magician Cagliostro broke the record for the largest magic session at the Haifa International Convention Center on Monday morning. The session, teaching the new "Haifa Magic for Peace" trick, brought together 1,573 Jewish, Christian, and Muslim students from 25 schools across the city.

"The world does not know that we here in Haifa have been living in peace for over a hundred years, I really want the whole world to know and learn this magic of peace that we live daily in the city."

Every participant received a pack of cards, each card with a word relating to coexistence written on it, such as friendship, respect, and dialogue. After a lesson and practice runs in front of witnesses, a notary, and qualified surveyors, all 1,573 children and Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav performed the trick in unison, with the one card each participant chose flying out of their pack and into the air.

"We have to enter the Guinness Book of Records with the Haifa Magic for Peace," said Yahav to the participating children. "The world does not know that we here in Haifa have been living in peace for over a hundred years, I really want the whole world to know and learn this magic of peace that we live daily in the city."

The event was hosted in partnership with Beit HaGefen, a Haifa based Jewish-Arab Culture Center, the Haifa Municipality Department of Education – Department of Social Value Education, and volunteers from Maarag, a Tel Aviv based organization promoting multicultural society in Israel. 

What is the "Farhud"? Jews Expelled from Iraq

Below is a very relevant question posed by a researcher at the Middle East department of Bar-Ilan University. This is one of many such stories that are very rarely brought into the open.

The outbreak of mob violence against Baghdad Jewry known as the Farhud, or “violent dispossession,” broke out on June 1, 1941. During the two days of violence, rioters killed 180 Jews, wounded 600 others and raped an undetermined number of women. They also looted some 1,500 stores and homes.

The Farhud was the beginning of what became a broad Nazi-Arab alliance in the Holocaust. The Farhud was both Nazi-inspired and encouraged by a prominent Arab leader, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who escaped from the British in Palestine and arrived in Iraq in October 1939.

While everyone is familiar with the Palestinian Nakba, few in Israel are aware of the tragic history of the Farhud or the fate of the Jews from Arab countries who were chased from their homes, leaving all their property and possessions behind. This, even though these Jews and their descendants constitute over 55 percent of Jewish Israeli citizens today.

Approximately 900,000 Jews left their homes in Arab countries between the years 1948-1970. Some of them came to Israel while others immigrated to other countries. Many were forced to leave behind property of great value – property that was sometimes seized by the governments of the countries they fled.

Unfortunately nothing is taught by the Education Ministry about the pogroms suffered by the Jews in Arab countries, or of their rich and unique culture. Pupils are not exposed to the Farhud riots. They are not taught about the riots in Egypt and Libya in which hundreds of marauding Muslims desecrated, burned and destroyed synagogues in November 1945. Hundreds of Jews were killed just because they were Jews.

The tragedy of these Jews has been downplayed and almost unheard of for many years. No one talks about the suffering of these refugees who were ousted from these Arab countries.

No one speaks of the tremendous amount of Jewish property and wealth that was left behind. No one mentions the hundreds of synagogues or holy places, the numerous cemeteries or the communal property that was confiscated by the Arab governments, mainly by the Iraqi and Egyptian governments.

There is a need to create a national committee to investigate the following subjects: the value of the property the Jews left behind; a documented list of personal and communal property of Jews in each country; the integration of the rich culture and legends of these Jews in the programs of the Education Ministry; the creation of a Jewish Cultural Center for Jews from the Arab countries; preservation of synagogues that remain in Arab hands; keeping watch over the holy places and shrines of the righteous and rabbis in these countries; and the restoration and prevention of the destruction of cemeteries in these countries.

The question remains: why has Israel not demanded compensation for the Jewish properties left behind or stolen in Arab countries? Israel did little to break the silence about the dire circumstances of the Jewish exodus from Arab countries. Last year State Comptroller Joseph Shapira issued a scathing report on the state’s failure to take action toward the restoration of property that was lost when hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Iran and the Arab states came to Israel in the years after Independence in 1948.

In his report Shapira wrote: “Israel is dealing with the issue lackadaisically, not paying it sufficient attention. It has not set any policy or budget, nor has it allocated resources toward researching and documenting the assets or collecting information about the rights of the Jews who came from those countries.” Shapira described the situation as “bleak,” a “fiasco” that could be “a perpetual tragedy.”

The Knesset and the Israeli government need to create a National Restoration Committee for Jews from Arab countries whose property was stolen.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett should introduce more elements of Mizrahi Jewish culture into the education system. Our children must learn the culture of their grandfathers.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Helping the Ethiopian Community

An amazing video from a local association ESRA (English Speaking Residents)  that highlights what the English Speaking Residents Association is doing to help the 30,000 plus Ethiopian community in the city of Netanya.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Israel’s first Jordanian PhD wants to bring peace through water

Desalination researcher Amer Sweity’s years at Ben-Gurion University put him in unique position to build bridges — and pipelines


Amer Sweity lives at Midreshet Ben-Gurion in Sde Boker, a tiny community located some 50 kilometers south of Beersheba. He is a Negev desert pioneer, but not in the usual sense. Residing and conducting research at Ben-Gurion University’s Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Sweity recently became the first Jordanian citizen to earn a doctoral degree from an Israeli university.

In fact it appears that Sweity, 34, is the first foreign national from any Arab country to have received a PhD in Israel. Sweity, who received the BGU Rector’s Award for excellence upon the completion of his degree this past March, is an expert in desalination. His research focuses on the polyamide membranes used in the process of turning seawater into potable water. Specifically, he seeks to optimize the use of various chemicals that are added to the seawater to prevent scaling on the membranes.
“These chemicals can cause side effects. We want to see whether the chemicals decrease the membranes’ efficiency, or whether they create bacterial growth on the membranes,” said Sweity as he showed this reporter around the lab where he did his PhD research funded by Israel’s Water Authority.
“Also, 50 percent of the water used in the desalination process becomes recovery water and goes back into the sea. This recovery water has double the salt content and contains chemicals, and we need to see what effect this has on the microbial community,” he continued.
Sweity’s interest in water research is not at all surprising given that his home country suffers from a severe water shortage. According to the World Health Organization, Jordan has one of the lowest levels of water resource availability, per capita, in the world. “The pressure from the Syrian refugees is making it even worse,” said Sweity about the nearly 1 million Iraqi and Syrian refugees who have crossed into Jordan because of the Syrian Civil War that has been raging since 2011.
In the Jordanian capital Amman, where Sweity’s family lives, water flows to people’s taps at home only once a week. “It’s like that even in the winter, and it’s been like that for around 20 years,” said Sweity.
Although Sweity has applied for post-doctoral positions in Holland, Israel and several Arab countries, he said he is committed to returning before too long to Jordan to help increase water desalination efforts there. In particular, he’d like to be involved with the Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal Project, a major collaboration between Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority backed by the World Bank to provide drinking water to Eilat and Aqaba and raise the level of the Dead Sea.

When Sweity completed his undergraduate degree in land and water management atThe Hashemite University in Zarqa, Jordan, he knew he wanted to study desalination and that Israel was the best place to do this.  “Five desalination plants were built in Israel and that shifted everything for Israel in terms of water,” he said, referring to Israel’s solution to its historical water crisis.

His parents were not thrilled about the idea their son (the seventh of their eight children and the only one to pursue academia) had of moving to Israel to continue his education. “My family was shocked at first. They were afraid because of what they were seeing in the news and media. There were still tensions from the Second Intifada and they didn’t think it was safe,” Sweity said.
 “It got to the point that I needed to fight with them about this. I really needed this experience. I knew that this kind of chance doesn’t come every day.”
Sweity arrived in 2006 at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura to begin in a Masters program. He continued on to Ben-Gurion University, where he acquainted himself well and quickly with other students and faculty, according to Professor Yoram Oren, who was at the time head of the Department of Desalination and Water Treatment at the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research.
“Amer got used to the Israeli scene quickly and his Hebrew is very good. We like him very much and it is a pity that he will leave us,” he said.
Before coming to Israel, Sweity had never met a Jew and knew no Hebrew. Within three years of his arrival, he had taught himself to speak, read and write Hebrew fluently and had made many friends of various religious backgrounds all over the country. When he’s not in the lab, he likes to hike, swim and play soccer.
It took a bit of time for Sweity, from a traditional Muslim family, to become acclimated to Israeli society, which he found to be much more open than the one he grew up in Amman. “Israel was too open for me at the beginning. I wasn’t used to the drinking and partying,” he said.
Sweity’s having lived in southern Israel through three confrontations with Gaza has made him anxious about what he called “the whole situation.”
He is  frustrated by the fact that because Jordan is on high alert because of the instability on its borders with Iraq and Syria, it is forced to invest heavily in security, leaving fewer resources for trying to solve the country’s water problems.

Sweity himself acknowledged that his motivation to complete his doctorate and to conduct research in desalination goes well beyond merely bringing pride to his family.
“I want to do something for the coming generations in all the countries in the region. Science doesn’t stop at borders,” he said.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Thousands of Gazans Treated In Israeli Hospitals

Thousands of Gazans receive treatment in Israeli hospitals every year, the Associated Press (AP) reported yesterday.

According to the report, Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Unit (COGAT) has issued roughly 27,000 permits for Gaza residents—including both patients and their families—to receive medical treatment in Israel and elsewhere. According to the World Health Organization, in 2013, the most recent year for which there are statistics, 3,840 Gazans were treated in Israel.

The AP story focuses on teenagers Ahmed and Hadeel Hamdan, who require kidney dialysis and have been treated at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa since 2012. When not at the hospital, they receive treatment at home with equipment provided by the hospital. Their mother has been trained in how to use the equipment.

The children were initially treated in hospitals in Gaza, Egypt and Syria before receiving a medical referral to Rambam. That first lasted three months. The hospital would not let them go back to Gaza until Hadeel was able to walk again after being incapacitated for a month.

“I thank them very much because they exerted tireless effort, especially with the girl,” their mother, Manal, said.

Since then, doctors said a special treatment called automated peritoneal dialysis was the only way to keep the children alive, pending a kidney transplant. Without any machines or technicians in Gaza, Rambam worked with Palestinian officials to get the equipment installed at the family’s home and trained their mother how to operate the machines.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told the AP that despite the frequent rocket launches and terror attacks launched by Hamas, the de facto government in Gaza, Israel’s efforts to treat the ill is a humanitarian matter. The arrangements for the medical care are made with the Palestinian Authority.

Over the past year, a number of relatives of Hamas officials have been treated in Israeli hospitals, including the mother-in-law and daughter of prime minister Ismail Haniyeh and the sister of spokesman Moussa Abu Marzouk.

Gazans were admitted for care in Israel even while Hamas was firing barrages of rockets at Israel last summer during Operation Protective Edge. During that time, Israel set up a field hospital on the border with Gaza, but Hamas prevented Gazans from accessing the hospital.