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SPRING 2010

New Israeli
Military Order
= Pass Laws and
Ethnic Cleansing
By Ziad Abbas,
Associate Director

This month, as Palestinians all over the


world commemorate the Nakba, a new Is- Beit Furik checkpoint, West Bank, Palestine
raeli military order just went into effect that photo: michaelramallah, www.flickr.com
sets the stage for massive deportation of Pal-
estinians living in the West Bank. the Nakba—Arabic for “catas- for living in their homeland. People arrested under the order will
trophe”—refers to the ethnic cleansing of three-quarters of the face deportation, a prison sentence of up to seven years, and fines
Palestinian population in the years before, during and after the of 7,500 NIS ($2,000), unless they have a special permit issued
establishment of the state of Israel in May 1948. An estimated by the Israeli military. But no one knows what these permits are
750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes and have or how to get one. Judgment of deportation orders resides with
lived in refugee camps or in exile around the world ever since. committees appointed by local military commanders, effectively
My own parents and my extended family were forced from the making appeals impossible.
village of Zakaria to Dheisheh Refugee Camp in the West Bank,
where I was born. Zakaria, a place I am rarely allowed to visit, is There’s a lot of uncertainty about Military Order 1650, but one
now a scenic Jewish-only suburb of Jerusalem. thing seems clear: This order will further divide Palestinians
from each other, permanently separating those living in the West
Ethnic cleansing policies have been applied in Palestine since Bank from those in Gaza. Before the near total closure of the
the Nakba and continue to this day. For example, tens of thou- Gaza Strip, many Gazans moved to the West Bank for work or
sands of Palestinians have lost their right to reside in Jerusalem to be with family. They will be impacted the most by this new
because of policies regarding building permits, residency re- order. As I’m writing, a man named Ahmad Sayeed Sabah was
quirements and land ownership enacted over decades. If a Pales- deported. He was born in Gaza but had lived in the West Bank
tinian living in Israel marries a Palestinian from the West Bank, for the past fifteen years with his wife and child. He was due to
they cannot live together in Israel. Bedouin Palestinians living in be released from an Israeli prison when 1650 went into effect.
so-called “unrecognized villages” in the Naqab (Negev) desert He was taken by the military directly to Gaza, without any judi-
inside Israel are regularly evicted and their homes are demol- cial review, and without being given any opportunity to see his
ished. There are countless other examples of efforts to drive Pal- family. Palestinian officials in Gaza don’t want to set a precedent
estinians out, including the continuous seizure and destruction of by relocating these new deportees, so he is stuck in limbo, un-
land, businesses and homes in the West Bank and the systematic able to return to his life in the West Bank.
isolation and deprivation of Palestinians in Gaza. My brother-in-law who was born in the Gaza Strip
has lived in the West Bank since marrying my sis-
Now, Military Order 1650, claiming to “prevent infiltration,” le-
gally categorizes thousands of Palestinians as criminals simply ter more than forty years ago. Will their marriage
be ended by a military order?
New Israeli Military Order continued on page 3
Letter from Barbara by Barbara Lubin
MECA’s Executive Director

I had just been elected to the Board of Education in Berkeley


when the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon began and the mas-
sacre at Sabra and Shatila refugee camps took place. Approxi-
mately 2,000 Palestinian refugees—unarmed women, chil-
dren and old men—were murdered. A group of Palestinian
students from San Francisco State University came to see me
and asked me why I spoke about so many peace and justice is-
sues but was silent about what was happening to Palestinians. crowd of Palestinian refugees on the Lebanese side. Everyone
This was my introduction to the issue of Palestine. was calling out family names and the names of villages they
came from. Grandparents, parents, children, cousins, aunts
In 1948, about 100,000 Palestinians from the north of Pales- and uncles saw and kissed each other through the wire fence.
tine--Haifa, Acre, Safed, and the Galilee region--were forced to They shared new and old photographs and exchanged gifts.
leave their homes, their land, and their businesses and flee to Some of the older people fainted, everyone was crying. It was
Lebanon to escape the violence of the pre-state Zionist forc- a moment I will never forget.
es. They believed they would be able to return in a few days.
Most of them only brought the keys to their homes with them. MECA began working in Lebanon in 1991 when we delivered
It is now 62 years later and those families—now nearly half $1.2 million in medical aid to Palestinians in refugee camps
a million people—are still living in horrendous conditions in and sent thousands of medical textbooks and journals to hos-
twelve refugee camps in Lebanon. Since 1978 they have been pitals in Beirut. During the Israeli war in 2006, we sent $1.4 mil-
displaced inside Lebanon again and again by Israeli attacks lion of medical aid and supported relief organizations work-
and armed conflicts among Lebanon’s many political factions. ing in Palestinian refugee camps and remote villages. In 2007
Israel initiated wars in Lebanon in 1978, 1982-85, and 2006, MECA sent $5,000 to provide basic necessities to hundreds of
and occupied the southern part of the country for more than families who were forced to flee the Nahr El-Bared Refugee
twenty years. Camp when the Lebanese army attacked a militant group hid-
ing out in the camp.
I was fortunate to be at a conference in Beirut when the Is-
raeli military was finally forced to leave Lebanon in 2000. I got Two years ago, MECA began our partnership with Playgrounds
a ride with a young journalist who drove me and a friend to for Palestine, founded by the author Susan Abulhawa (see
the southern border with Israel where we met many of the page 5). We helped them build playgrounds in Nahr El-Bared
young men who had just been released from an Israeli military and Ein El-Hilweh refugee camps, Lebanon. A third is under
prison. They told us stories of their years of horrendous torture construction in Neirab Refugee Camp, Syria. This month MECA
during their imprisonment. Thousands of people came from will send a large aid shipment to Palestinian and Iraqi refugee
all over the country to meet the prisoners and celebrate their families in Lebanon. (See Page 7)
release. They came in cars, trucks, busses, and on donkeys and
horses. Everyone was crying and hugging. People danced and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan have a
sang songs of struggle and old Palestinian folk songs. It was an shared history with the refugees in Gaza and the West Bank,
amazing moment for me also to see their pain and the joy all and the same rights under international law. They can’t be
at once. written out of Palestine’s past and they have a central role to
play in creating a just and lasting political solution for the fu-
I thought it couldn’t get more emotional. Then suddenly bus- ture. MECA’s work will continue to focus on making life bet-
ses and cars started arriving on the Israeli side of the border ter for children in Palestinian refugee camps, while educating
fence and Palestinians poured out and started calling to the people about their lives and their rights.

2 MECA NEWS
New Israeli Military Order continued from page1
the pass laws in South Africa in 1960, the Apartheid government
Human rights groups estimate that as many as 200,000 people opened fire on the protest killing 69 people in cold blood in the
in the West Bank now face the possibility of being uprooted, de- famous Sharpeville Massacre before the international commu-
ported, or arrested at any moment. Besides people born in Gaza, nity opened its eyes to what these pass laws meant. Some day
this could include: Palestinians who grew up in exile and came the people of the world will look at Military Order 1650 with the
to live in the West Bank; international solidarity activists and same sense of shock and shame as the inhuman racist pass laws
human rights workers; and foreigners married to West Bank Pal- of the former South African Apartheid regime.
estinians. No doubt, the Israeli state is counting on some people
to feel so afraid for their future that they will take initiative and Let us not wait for more deaths before we understand and act
leave “voluntarily.” against this new military order. Let us hope the international
community does not wait for another massacre before they speak
The intention of this military order is not difficult to see. Pales- out. Please act now by joining the Boycott, Divestment and
tinian population growth is perceived by many Israeli leaders as Sanctions campaign (www.bdsmovement.net) to stop the ethnic
a “ticking time bomb” or “demographic threat” that will inter- cleansing of Palestine.
fere with the goal of maintaining a Jewish majority. Clearly, by
enabling the expulsion and detention of large numbers of people
from the West Bank, Military Order 1650 serves the ultimate
Zionist goal of a pure Jewish state.
This poster from the Apartheid Museum in South Africa commemorates the
The reality, of course, is that an ethnically “pure” Jewish state day in 1956 when twenty thousand South African women marched against
the pass laws that required ‘non-whites’ to carry identification documents to
is impossible. The Palestinian population is increasing rapidly,
segregate the population and severely limit the movements of Blacks. Dem-
and Jews are no longer emigrating in large numbers. In just a onstrators sang a song which included the line “You strike women, you strike
few years, the number of Palestinians in all of historic Palestine a rock.” Design: Damon Stapleton, Photograph: Clive Stewart
will exceed the number of Jews. This has left the Israeli state to
desperately attempt more and more strategies of ethnic cleansing
that are increasingly hard to justify under international scrutiny.
One strategy is extreme violence and, as we saw in Gaza in 2009,
the wellspring of violence seems bottomless. Another strategy is
“bureaucratic,” like Military Order 1650 that attempts to justify
Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians while upholding Israel’s
“democratic” mask. This is an old, vicious game. After taking
the land and forcibly expelling thousands in 1948, Israel declares
those who return are “infiltrators” in their own land. By crimi-
nalizing the indigenous population and those who come to sup-
port them, they justify detention and expulsion of entire families,
while falsely conveying to the world that all they are doing is
enforcing the law on people who do not have the proper papers.

Palestinians and people everywhere who care about justice can


see that Militrary Order 1650 is not about law enforcement or
“security.” It’s about repression and ethnic cleansing. The South
African government has compared it to apartheid pass laws, is-
suing a statement that says, “South Africa, because of its history,
is particularly sensitive to the infringement of human rights that
the carrying of a permit implies and … the unilateral punish-
ments that can be brought to bear on an individual by the state.”

The Palestinian cause is actually strengthened by the escalation


of military orders because, as much as the escalation makes life
harder, the hope for the Palestinians to achieve our dream of
freedom grows. We expect this next period to be very brutal as
Israel attempts these expulsions. When students marched against

MECA NEWS 3
en to grab him,” she tells IPS. “Muslem and other children in
Silwan are very distracted at school. They worry about whether
they’ll be able to return home without getting attacked or taken
by the police or whether they’ll even have a home to return to at
the end of the day.”

By Nora Barrows-Friedman Murad Shafaa of the Committee to Defend Bustan Neighbour-


hood says that Silwan is on the frontlines of Israeli settlement
SILWAN, EAST JERUSALEM, Mar 16, 2010 (IPS) - Three expansion policy in occupied East Jerusalem. “In Bustan, these
thousand heavily armed Israeli security service forces locked Israeli attacks have created an enormous stress on the commu-
down large parts of the Old City of Jerusalem on Tuesday, as nity,” he tells IPS. “The children have been especially affected
battalions of police fired rounds of tear gas and rubber-coated by the tension, to the point where they take their favourite toys
steel bullets at Palestinian protesters in the occupied eastern part and clothes with them to school because they fear that at any
of the city. Nearly 40 Palestinians were wounded and treated at point their house could be demolished.”
nearby hospitals, as 25 were arrested during intense clashes.
“The Israeli forces are threatening the families through the chil-
Protests were aimed at the Netanyahu administration’s announce- dren,” Shafaa continues. “In the cases when the police come in
ment of expanded illegal settlement construction in East Jerusa- and arrest the children, they will only release them on an expen-
lem and the five-day closure of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound sive bail, and every day, the community continues to fear what
and Palestinian institutions within the Old City. Fundamentalist will happen to their kids.”
settler groups held an opening ceremony for a synagogue con-
structed against the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which was
seen as a provocation to the Palestinian community in the area.

Clashes took place in several areas of East Jerusalem, including


Shu’afat refugee camp, Wadi Joz and Silwan. This comes on the
heels of accelerated attacks by Israeli forces and Jewish settlers
inside Silwan in particular, directed towards the community’s
youngest and most vulnerable population. Since January, at least
33 children from the area have been arrested, detained and inter-
rogated by Israeli forces as home demolitions and settler take-
overs continue apace.

Muslem Odeh, 10, tells IPS that he was taken by Israeli forces
on Mar. 11 at 3 am, after police broke into the family’s home
in Silwan’s Bustan neighbourhood and pepper-sprayed his fa-
ther who attempted to protect him. “They were banging on the
door, and demanded I come with them. They told me that I had
thrownstones at a settler. But I never threw stones.”

Guards inside the interrogation centre took Muslem around the


jail and showed him the cells, threatening to hold him in one of
them if he did not confess to throwing stones. At one point dur-
ing the six-hour interrogation process, Muslem asked a guard if
he could go to the bathroom. The guard refused. “I said, ‘would
you let me go if I were a Jewish child?’” Muslem tells IPS. “And
the guard was ashamed. He finally let me use the toilet.”

Muslem’s mother, Hiyam Odeh, says that her son’s behaviour


has changed dramatically since his arrest and interrogation. “He
can’t sleep at night. When he does, he has intense nightmares.
He has had hallucinations of police at the window who threat-

4 MECA NEWS
Sarit Michaeli of B’tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for
Human Rights in the Occupied Territories in Jerusalem, says
that the treatment of youth by Israeli forces has raised serious
concerns regarding the overall protection of the rights of minors
within the Israeli military court system.

“Children should be afforded extra protection under internation-


al law,” Michaeli says. “However, Palestinian children who are
arrested for allegedly throwing stones are being detained at very
young ages. Palestinians are tried as adults at 16 years old, in
contrast to the age of 18 for Israeli minors. They’re being held
Susan Abulhawa
inside prisons with the adult population.”

Michaeli remarks that in the context of the increasingly tense


situation in Silwan, Israel’s policies of nightly raids and arrests
“Mornings in Jenin”
of children especially in the Bustan neighbourhood adds to the
pressure on the Palestinian community who already face im-
Read the Book,
minent threats of home demolitions. She says that because the
Jerusalem municipality places severe restrictions on the ability
Meet the Author
of Palestinians to obtain legal building permits in their commu-
Susan Abulhawa, director of Playgrounds for Palestine has
nities, Israeli police present the policy of home demolitions as
written an extraordinary novel, following four generations of
simply a matter of law enforcement.
a Palestinian family from their ancestral village of Ein Hod to
Jenin Refugee Camp to the US and back to Palestine. MECA
“But the Jewish settlement expansion remains constant,” she
was delighted to host a reading and reception for Susan at our
says. “And Palestinian children, in places such as Silwan, are
office last month. Check the calendar at www.morningsin-
facing disproportionate measures of punishment inside the Is-
jenin.com and be sure to see her if she comes to your com-
raeli justice system.”
munity, and put “Mornings in Jenin” on your must-read list.
Defence for Children International (DCI)’s Palestine office re-
ports that Israel’s policy of arresting children is happening at Abulhawa is a passionate writer whose
an aggressive rate throughout the West Bank and occupied East limber, poetic style transports a reader deep
Jerusalem. inside the war-torn world she chronicles.
– Maureen Corrigan, Philadelphia Inquirer
In a recent press release, DCI says that there are six Israeli pris-
ons that currently hold approximately 350 Palestinian children
under the age of 17. “All but one of these prisons (Ofer Prison) The everyday life of cramped conditions,
(are) inside Israel, in contravention of Article 76 of the Geneva poverty, restriction, and the fear of soldiers,
Convention.” Moreover, adds Abed Jamal of DCI’s Hebron of- guns, checkpoints and beatings, would have
fice, “arresting, detaining and imprisoning Palestinian children
been enough to make the novel unforgettable,
is in direct violation of the United Nations Convention of the
Rights of the Child.” but Abulhawa’s writing also shines, at best
assured and unsentimental.
The Netanyahu administration, for its part, announced that it will - Anjali Joseph, (London) Independent
not backpedal on its plans to continue settlement expansion in
occupied East Jerusalem. “These policies of arresting and inter-
rogating Palestinian children are meant to break the spirit of the
child and their families,” Hiyam Odeh says. “But we are a strong
community. We will remain steadfast, and we will not leave our
homes.”

Palestinian children from Silwan stand in front of a house which received


demolition order. It is home to thirty people. photo: Active Stills
Credit:Anne Paq/Activestills.org

MECA NEWS 5
Your MECA
We are enormously grateful to all those who have raised or con-
tributed funds for this project that is having a profound impact

Dollars at Work
on the health and lives of thousands of children.

If your group would like to raise funds for the Maia Project,

AID & PROJECT UPDATE


please contact Josie Shields-Stromsness at josie@mecaforpeace.
e org.

The Maia Project: Let the Children


Bringing Clean Water to the Play & Heal
Children of Palestine From April 2009 to January 2010, MECA and Afaq Jadeeda As-
Since the Middle East Children’s Alliance launched the Maia sociation, an extraordinary organization in Gaza that MECA has
Project in September 2009 we have funded the installation of worked with for many years, carried out an innovative program
water purification and desalination units in eleven schools, in ad- to help children and families cope with trauma and loss. “Let the
dition to the two that were installed 2007 and 2008. These units Children Play and Heal” gave children in Gaza opportunities to
are providing clean, safe drinking water for more than 17,000 express themselves though art, dance, music, story-telling, the-
children from pre-school to middle school. Several individuals ater and puppetry; to get support from the larger community; and
and small foundations have donated the entire cost of one unit to have fun and just be children.
($11,300 for a large unit, $3,750 for a small unit). Thirty-two
people joined the Maia Project Leadership Circle with gifts of Teams of Afaq Jadeeda’s trained staff members, supervised
$1,000-$2,000, and hundreds more gave whatever they could. by a psychologist, visited 120 schools and community centers
throughout Gaza to work directly with 110,000 children. In addi-
At the same time, groups around the country are raising funds tion to the group art activities, the teams identified children who
for the Maia Project. Groups in Granville, Ohio and Whitefish, need follow-up for their physical and psychological wounds and
Montana have already funded kindergarten units. The Philadel- referred them for specialized ongoing care and treatment.
phia Chapter of the Women’s International League for Peace
and Freedom (WILPF) held an event that raised more that Afaq Jadeeda and local experts led 20-hour training courses for
$2,000. MECA staff traveled to do presentation for groups who mothers in different areas of Gaza that gave 480 women new
are raising funds for the Maia Project in Santa Fe and Albu- ideas for ways to support their children and children in their com-
querque, New Mexico; Sacramento, Boston, Maine and Min- munities during this difficult time. Additionally, Afaq Jadeeda
neapolis. The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project (Wisconsin) created and distributed 10,000 pamphlets for parents that give
and the US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) have advice on dealing with children during crisis situations such as
made commitments to raise funds for one unit. A Norther Cali- last year’s three-week assault on Gaza.
fornia brother and sister ages 10 and 12 are well on their way
to raising $3,750 for a kindergarten unit.
Sign MECA’s Online Petition
A kindergartener in Maghazi Refugee Camp, Gaza drinks clean water from
a Maia Project unit installed in Dec 2009 thanks to supporters in Granville, The Israeli occupation is the source of Gaza’s water crisis.
Ohio. photo: Mohammed Majdalawi By denying the Gaza population access to clean water,
Israel is in violation of international law, which says that
that the occupying power is responsible for the well be-
ing of the population.
Please go to www.mecaforpeace.org and sign MECA’s
online petition to President Obama calling on him to de-
mand that Israel:
• Lift the blockade on Gaza and allow immediate entry
to Gaza of spare parts and construction and other mate-
rial and equipment needed for the repair, reconstruction
and maintenance of the water and sanitation infrastruc-
ture in Gaza.
• Stop destroying the water and sanitation infrastructure
in Gaza.
6 MECA NEWS • Stop stealing Palestinian water resources.
Medical Aid & More to
MECA and Afaq Jadeeda are now evaluating the eight-month pi-
lot program and preparing to start another year of activities with
children and their parents. As recently as February 2010, the UN Palestinian and Iraqi
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs found that
73% of Gaza children are still suffering from psychological and
Refugees
behavioral disorders, including psychological trauma, night-
Next month MECA will send a forty-foot shipping container of
mares, involuntary urination, high blood pressure and diabetes.
aid to Lebanon for Palestinian and Iraqi refugees. It will include
medicine and medical supplies that Medical Teams International
We would like to thank Norman Finkelstein and Lowkey who
has procured for us, along with new clothes, toys and children’s
are donating 50% of the proceeds of their Rendezvous with Vic-
books generously donated by MECA supporters and Bay Area
tory Tour to this important project.
businesses. A coalition of community-based organizations in
all twelve Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon requested this
shipment. They will distribute to the items to hospitals and clin-
Performing and visual arts are an important way for children to ics and to groups working with the estimated 50,000 Iraqi refu-
express their feelings and get support from the community gees who fled the violence of the US-led war and occupation.
photo: Mohammed Majdalawi

Children in Badawi
Refugee Camp, Lebanon
photo: M. Asser

A Life-Saving Gift for the Children


YES! I want to help MECA meet the basic needs of Palestinian children and give
them opportunities to learn, play and envision a better future.
Here is my tax-deductible gift of:

[ ] $250 [ ] $100 [ ] $50 [ ] $25 [ ] $ ____________

[ ] My check payable to MECA is enclosed. [ ] Please charge my credit card in the amount indicated above.

Card #: _______________________________________ Exp: _____________________

Signature: _____________________________________________________________

Name: ________________________________________________________________ 1101 8th. St. Berkeley, Ca 94710

Address: ______________________________________________________________
www.mecaforpeace.org
City, ST, Zip: ____________________________________________________________

Email: _________________________________________________________________
MECA is a 501(c)3 exempt organization. Your gift is tax-deductible as a charitable contribution. MECA NEWS 7
1101 8th. St. Berkeley, Ca 94710

Inside:
West Bank Ethnic Cleansing page 1
Your MECA Dollars at Work page 6
Israeli Raids Target Children page 3

Join MECA in Detroit this June!


June 19-22
MECA Director Barbara Lubin and Associate Director
Ziad Abbas will speak at the 2010 U.S. Assembly of
Jews: Confronting Racism and Israeli Apartheid
Visit www.jewsconfrontapartheid.org

June 22-26
MECA Associate Director Ziad Abbas will co-lead
workshops at the 2010 US Social Forum on the Pales-
tinian right of return, water justice, and the interna-
tional movement for boycott, divestment, sanctions
against Israel (BDS).
Visit www.ussf2010.org