My Palestine Times front page article makes CNN!

UPDATE: The excellent American Hummus video blog reposted this clip. It’s a good job too, since the CNN version seems to no longer be available.

A TV crew from CNN International recently visited our office. Most stuff about this country I’ve seen on seen on CNN international has been unbelievably pro-Israel. But this report is brilliant! Not least because I wrote the headline of the edition that that draw attention to in the paper: Tony Blair: ‘East Jerusalem is occupied territory.’

They visit West Jerusalem and ask Israelis what they think about the paper, newly available in Israel. Although one guy is nice, most of them hurl off-camera insults such as “who would pay to read what Arabs think” and “the Palestinians can take their papers and go to Jordan.”


One says on camera: “I’m not sure if I’m 100% comfortable with this idea of a Palestinian paper in Jerusalem.” Note that none of them express reservations, or even interest, over any of the actual content of the paper, merely the idea of a Palestinian paper.

Israeli newspapers such as Ha’aretz and the right-wing Jerusalem Post have been daily sold in Palestinian cities such as Ramallah for years.

To view the video, either click on this direct link, or go to , click “search video” and search for “Palestine Times.”

I make the front page with Blair leak story

This article originally appeared as the lead headline on the front page of Palestine Times, March 21.

Tony Blair: ‘East Jerusalem is occupied territory’

by Asa Winstanley

RAMALLAH — In a private letter to Morocco’s King Muhammad VI, British Prime Minister Tony Blair says his government “considers East Jerusalem to be occupied territory,” the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding (CAABU) said yesterday.

Working as chair of the Organization of the Islamic Conference’s committee on Jerusalem, King Muhammad had sent letters to various heads of state asking them to clarify their position on the status of Jerusalem. In his March 12 reply, Blair stated explicitly that Britain does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over any part of the city.

Leaked to CAABU, and passed on to Palestine Times, the letter represents the Prime Minister’s clearest ever statement on the occupied status of Jerusalem.

Chris Doyle, the Director of CAABU told Palestine Times over the phone, that it has been “a challenge to get any senior government minister to make such an official explicit statement” and that “to get Mr. Blair to say it has been impossible.”

Continue reading I make the front page with Blair leak story

Helicopters hovering

Ramallah seems quite tense. The Israelis only left Nablus yesterday, after two days of raids and curfews on the city. And I just heard on al-Jazeera they were back in there today. It’s the first time in ages I’ve heard about them enforcing a curfew. I read they killed one, injuring and arresting many others. On way home from work today I wondered if they were gearing up to do something similar in Ramallah. They killed another three in an invasion in Jenin today — they were reportedly fighters. Seems like the new Israeli “defence” minister wants to make an impression already.

Disconcertingly, an Israeli helicopter was hovering over Ramallah today. People I spoke to said it was interfering with their TV reception. And sure enough, when I got home the satellite reception was very dodgy indeed for a few hours. Honestly — they cant even leave us alone to watch TV in peace.

Saw Mustafa Barghouti on al-Arabya news channel up in Nablus helping the PRCS ambulance teams on the scene a couple days ago. Not sure how much actual medical work he was doing (am I’m sure it won’t hurt his poll ratings) but I couldn’t help but be impressed — you’d never see Mahmoud Abbas or any such politicians doing anything on the ground like that.

Working at Palestine Times is weird. It’s great in some ways but frustrating in others. We get some genuinely unique articles that I know for a fact you can see no where else in the world in English. It’s within the reach of the Israeli English-language media to have such articles, but their overwhelmingly Zionist bias precludes that possibility. Yes — we get some great stuff but it’s frustrating that almost no one is seeing it. Our circulation is still low and the website is paid-subscription only. I’m going to push for the website to be free (all the paper’s competitors have free websites) but we’ll see how far I get (probably not very).

Gideon Levy: “A Black Flag”

I was thinking of writing something on the re-invasion of Gaza (and I still might) but, really, Gideon Levy says most of what needs to be said in today’s Ha’aretz.


“A Black Flag”

by Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 2nd July 2006

A black flag hangs over the “rolling” operation in Gaza. The more the operation “rolls,” the darker the flag becomes. The “summer rains” we are showering on Gaza are not only pointless, but are first and foremost blatantly illegitimate. It is not legitimate to cut off 750,000 people from electricity. It is not legitimate to call on 20,000 people to run from their homes and turn their towns into ghost towns. It is not legitimate to penetrate Syria’s airspace. It is not legitimate to kidnap half a government and a quarter of a parliament.

A state that takes such steps is no longer distinguishable from a terror organization. The harsher the steps, the more monstrous and stupid they become, the more the moral underpinnings for them are removed and the stronger the impression that the Israeli government has lost its nerve. Now one must hope that the weekend lull, whether initiated by Egypt or the prime minister, and in any case to the dismay of Channel 2’s Roni Daniel and the IDF, will lead to a radical change.

Continue reading Gideon Levy: “A Black Flag”

The Wall as Walls

Hi-res version was lost, sorry

I came across this cartoon on the ISM Canada website. I’m posting it here, because it sums up so well what is incorrect with the image most people have of Israel’s Wall. It is NOT a “separation barrier” built between Israelis and Palestinians. It is an annexation barrier, the vast majority of which is built or is being built within Palestine. The primary aim of this project is to take more land away from Palestinians and add it to the state of Israel. For a long time, the Israeli government denied this, and claimed it was “only for security”, and that the route of the Wall could be moved in the event of a final status agreement. To anyone on the ground suffering from the effects, this was a transpartent lie. It is now conceded by high Israeli officials (including Tzipi Livni) that the Wall is going to be “the border”, within the framework of “convergence”.

Still, the cartoon is not the whole picture. It would be more acurate to show a series of fences being built within the Palestinian house, separating the mother from the father, from the children. Because this is what is being done – Palestinians are being divided into isolated, unliveable ghettos. Consulting some of the various maps available, demonstrates this plainly. Palestinian Reservations, modeled on the North American manifest destiny example are the ultimate aim.

So, what can we do to stop this? From outside, the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign (similar to that of the boycott of apartheid era South Africa) is, in my judgement, one of few hopes left for any kind of future for Palestine. This article by a British academic who worked in Beirzeit University (near Ramallah, in the West Bank) during the early 80s, brilliantly argues for the academic boycott, and speaks from first hand experience about the denial of academic freedom that Israel routinely enforces on Palestinians. This article by a friend of mine is a good summary of the current state of the campaign.

Assassinated in Ramallah

Palestinian crowd gathers around an ambulanceAt about 8.30pm tonight, the Israeli army carried out another incursion here in Ramallah, assassinating Ayman Khateb, a member of the Palestinian intelligence. Initial reports in the Israeli media are claiming that he was also a member of the al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades, which is possible, but unconfirmed right now. He was tracked and identified by Palestinian collaborators and then assassinated by undercover Israeli forces. The Israeli army was then brought in so that the assassins could make good their escape. They injured at least two other people in the process. The soldiers reportedly shot the body again for good measure before they left.

This all happened here in the Old City of Ramallah or “Lower Ramallah”, the same neighbourhood that I live and work in. Only one block away from us in the ISM Media office, we heard loud gunfire close by and could tell that it was not from a celebration or protest. All the shops in the street below quickly closed up. Very soon after this, several Israeli army jeeps sped past our street towards the direction that the gunfire was coming from. We managed to capture this on video.

People came out onto the street in clusters, sharing news and wondering what to do. A group of us from the ISM office went onto the street to talk to people and see if we could be useful in any way. We got into a position from which we could film the jeeps from a distance. They had stopped near a posh local restaurant. We heard they had shot someone, but that he was still alive and no one was being allowed close to him. By the time we got there he was dead and the jeeps had left. We witnessed the dead and injured being taken away in ambulances, as well as the scene of destruction left behind. A falafel shop had been trashed so that the soldiers could use it as cover. It was on a street I regularly walk down. I had stood near that very spot only a few days previously as a friend bought falafel from one of the street vendors.

This comes on the same day that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel would continue its policy of targeted assassinations of Palestinian fighters, because “the lives and the welfare of the residents of the Sderot [an Israeli town bordering Gaza] are more important than those of the residents of Gaza” . At exactly the same time, he was meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan and talking to the press about peace. Some peace, when Israel is regularly carrying out so many massacres of civillians in Gaza that it’s hard to keep up. They even try to deny that it was them behind it, when it’s obvious that they were. The idea that there is a “ceasefire” and “restraint” from Israel is a cruel joke.

Meanwhile, on the political front, there are no excuses left since it seems that Hamas has now recognised the state of Israel, using the Prisoner’s Document as a basis.

Ethnic Cleansing in Slow-Motion

Watching the invasion live on al-Jazeera

On the 24th of May the Israeli army invaded the West Bank city of Ramallah, my current home. In the middle of the day, undercover Israeli forces performed an “arrest operation” on a Palestinian militant in the centre of Ramallah. When their cover was blown, a large force of Israeli soldiers were sent in so that they could shoot their way out of the city past the angry crowds of Palestinians that had assembled. The Palestinian fighters were, for the most part, nowhere to be seen during the invasion. It was left to crowds of youths to defend the city from this act of aggression, using whatever came to hand. Stones, tins of paint, scrap metal – all of it was thrown at the soldier’s jeeps from the rooftops of Ramallah. In the course of events, the Israeli army martyred three civilians and one Policeman (who was apparently unarmed at the time) and injured about thirty others, shooting rubber-coated and live ammunition at the crowds of civilians. In this act of war, Israel violated the entirely one-way ceasefire that Hamas and all the other armed Palestinian factions (apart from Islamic Jihad) had been sticking to since February 2005, despite regular Israeli military operations and killings in the Palestinian territories.

Continue reading Ethnic Cleansing in Slow-Motion

My pick of recent press on Palestine

Hi everyone. Apologies for the recent drying-up of my journal entries. I have several different items in the pipline, so look for something new here soon. Meanwhile, it’s been far too long since my last post so you should check the ISM site for all the latest stuff that I’ve been up to. Since I spend most of my time posting to the ISM site, I thought I would post some of the best stuff I’ve read recently on the site and in the press in general. Although most of the following links are to our site, many are are reposts of articles from the Israeli and international press (the Ha’artez english website for example is not the best and articles on it often disappear after a few days).

This op-ed piece from the International Herald Tribune by Fareed Taamallah, about checkpoints and the repressive nature of the Israeli occupation is simply beautiful. That radical anarchist, anti-semite Jimmy Carter seems have recently started telling something resembling the truth about the situation here, most recently about Israel’s “convergence” plan.

An Israeli involved in the ISM has been translating a lot of articles from the Hebrew press recently – although both Yedioth Ahronoth and Ha’aretz (two of the main Hebrew language Israeli papers) have English editions (both in print and online) not everyting is translated. The choice of what is and is not translated is often a political one. One of the most interesting pieces he has translated is about recent comments by Brigadier General (retired) Ilan Paz, who until recently was the head of the District Coordinating Office (DCO) in the West Bank. It’s called “Mr. Occupation Saw the Light” and is very reveiling. Also from the Israeli press is this op-ed about the recent high court decision that prevents Palestinian citizens of Israeli (the decendents of those who in 1948 choose not to flee and were not directly driven out) from living with their husbands, wives and children if they happen to come from the West Bank or Gaza strip. A law excluding people from the “only democracy in the middle east” based purely on race and nationality – all in the name of “security” (the magic answer). Finally from the Israeli press, Ha’aretz has been getting all hot and bothered recently about the boycott of Israeli academics and academic institutions that do not publicly condemn the occupation. Considering that Ha’aretz is so Zionist, this is a good sign!

As you probably know, I go to demonstrations in the village of Bil’in most weeks. If you want to know the background as to why the villagers are demonstrating, read “Wall of Shame” in a recent edition of the excellent SchNEWS. Also check these two photos, which show the truth about the “self defence” Israeli soldiers are “forced” to use in Bil’in every week. Recently, there has been an upsurge in violence used against the demonstrators. Two of my friends were shot at close range with rubber bullets (against even the regulations of the Israeli army) a few weeks ago. If they had used the rubber-coated steel bullets that they use against Palestinians, they would probably have been dead now. Thankfully they are now fine, and getting back to ISM work.

For people who tell you nonsense like “the Palestinians are uniquely violent – other anti-occupation movements have used non-violence”, it is worth noting that the almost instinctive reaction of the Israeli military to mass non-violent demonstrations by the Palestinians is violence. In Ar-Ram recently, just such a large, organised, peacefull protest against the Aparthied Wall that Israel has built right through the main street of their town was simply attacked. The Israeli military later told the press that they had to do this because the demonstrators threw stones as they approched. I was there and I know this was a total lie. We also have video footage that proves this, which we offered to the press. After they were attacked by the army, some of the youth did retaliate with stones, but this was mostly symbolic in that they were too far away to hit anything. This is the standard practice of the Israeli army – attack non-violent demonstrations and then afterwards claim they were “violent riots”, instead of demonstrations demanding basic human rights. They get away with this becase the Israeli and international press regularly reports these claims as fact. They attack tiny demonstrations even more freely. Palestinian demonstrations without media presence or Israeli and international support are met with lethal force. Finally, to illustrate the fundamentally racist nature of the Israeli military and their occupation, check out this account and pictures on how the military reacts to stone throwing by Jewish settlers.

Terror and Occupation in Nablus

Eyewitness accounts from a friend of mine who has been based up Nablus for the past week. Originaly published on Electrontic Intifada, with more pictures.


Linda Spence writing from Nablus, Occupied Palestine, Live from Palestine, 21 April 2006.

Tanks and soldiers roll into Balata refugee camp during the invasion of April 2006. (Dylan Bergeson)

17 April 2006 — This is just one personal account of a shocking situation I witnessed in in Nablus. In the week I have been here, Nablus and Balata refugee camp have been under regular daily and nightly attack from the IDF. All of the incursions have involved live ammunition, demonstrating little care for the hundreds of civilians in these highly populated areas.

Continue reading Terror and Occupation in Nablus

Floating Activists

The last couple of weeks have been fairly eventful. I’ve had loads of email back from you all, so thanks for those. It’s good to hear from home and from friends all over the world. Sorry if I have not got round to replying to you individually – I’m working through my inbox when I have time.

I recenly spoke via an online voice call to my friends Harmeet and Donna in New Zealand. For those of you in the UK, you may not have heard of Harmeet because the British press tended to concentrate on Norman Kember, but he was one of the four peace activist hotages from the CPT kidnapped in Iraq back in December. Although sadly one of the four, Tom was killed. Harmeet, Norman and Jim were released only recently. It was really good to speak to both my friends from my first trip to Palestine who I had met at the ISM training.

I was moving around the West Bank quite a lot in the first couple of weeks here, so I’ve been able to see the most recent situation in each place. My plan at the moment is to commit to the Ramallah media office as my long term region and work here during the week while also doing some training sessions for new recruits to ISM too.

Continue reading Floating Activists

The Party Line: ‘Palestinians attack, Israelis respond’

In an attempt to disguise the current Israeli military operations in Nablus as a response to the suicide bombing in Tel-Aviv, the Israeli media are either directly lying that the military entered Nablus “in response to the terror attack” (Jerusalem Post) or strongly implying the same by saying the army is there “in [the] wake of [the] Tel Aviv blast” (Ha’aretz).

In actual fact, house occupations and shootings of Palestinian children by Israeli soldiers in Nablus were underway well before the bombing. Furthermore, the military have been in and out of Nablus almost constantly over the last week. The Ha’aretz news timeline today directly contradicts the claim by the Jerusalem Post and even the strong implication that it was a “response” in the headline of their own story. At 12:34, the timeline refers to an AP wire report covering the military operations in Nablus: “Palestinian youth shot by Israeli troops during W. Bank protest” (note that there is no mention of the Tel-Aviv bombing in this story). The bombing does not appear in the Ha’aretz site’s timeline until over an hour after the Nablus story was filed: 13:43.

Click for larger image

It is possible that the military operation intensified in Nablus after the Tel-Aviv bombing. But the Israeli media were ignoring the story about Israeli jeeps rolling into Nablus before it became possible for them to re-cast the incursion as a ‘response to terrorism’. A response to what is often characterised as ‘irrational, unprovoked, fanatical terrorism’. All this despite the fact that the Israeli army has been shelling civilian areas in Gaza for the past 12 days killing at least eighteen people, including at least two children with many more injured. We in the general public might be niave enough to think that terrorism is the deliberate targeting of civilians, regardless of their natonality, but it would seem that the major media defines Israeli bombing of Palestinians as “counter-terrorism” almost by definition.

Before the bombing in Tel-Aviv, the story about Nablus was all but ignored by the Israeli media. This currently remains the the policy of the western media, despite the fact that the army continues to occupy as many as five houses in Nablus using them as sniper posts, and have injured at least four Palestinian young people with live rounds and rubber-coated bullets.

We have been covering this story here in the ISM Media office since 10am this morning, and have watched the hypocrisy and subservience to establishment interests of the Israeli media explicitly illustrated before our own eyes. Apparently, Palestinian lives are only of use to the propaganda system. It could be argued, however, that this position is morally superior to the position of western media agencies such as the BBC on whose radar the attacks in Nablus do not even register.

Gaza is free now? Dream on.

Both of the following articles are from Haaretz, 15th April 2006. See this ISM digest for action you can take to stop the bombing of Gaza, along with more background information and video.

IDF enters Gaza for first time since pullout

by Amos Harel

The Israel Defense Forces yesterday entered Palestinian Authority territory in the Gaza Strip openly for the first time since last summer’s disengagement. IDF soldiers crossed the Green Line fence and penetrated about 100 meters into the PA in order to examine the place in which two armed Palestinians were killed on Wednesday and to ensure that no bombs had been planted there.

Continue reading Gaza is free now? Dream on.