Jul 27 2016

Palestinians concerned about new Israeli NGO law

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

Susan Jaber says her life changed four years ago when she began volunteering with the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. “When they gave me a camera and I began using it, the level of harassment and attacks by settlers and soldiers went down a lot,” Jaber told Al-Monitor.

 Jaber, 39, lives in Hebron very close to the Ibrahimi Mosque and in the path of Jewish settlers who would be happy to see her leave. “Before we began filming and B’tselem was publishing videos of settlers’ harassment, our family was living in constant fear. We are now able to live a normal life. The cameras that we have are our strongest weapon,” Jaber, a mother of seven children, said. She pointed to the Facebook page showing her and other volunteers filming.

Like other Palestinian volunteers working with B’Tselem, Jaber has heard about the new Israeli law restricting the work of all Israeli nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), but she is not surprised by it. “It is normal that the occupiers do that, because they can see that B’Tselem is doing a good job documenting and exposing Israeli crimes,” she said. Continue Reading »

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Jul 21 2016

THE FALSE BALANCE BETWEEN THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION AND PALESTINIAN ‘INCITEMENT’

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By Daoud Kuttab

One of the lessons professional journalists have learned over the years is that objectivity and balance can sometimes be wrongly used. If, as a journalist, you are witnessing rain, you are not obliged to report that one side says it is raining and the other side says it is not. You have an obligation to your audience to tell it simply that it is raining.
Such false balance is often seen in conflict-resolution cases where the side attempting to mediate a case where one side is clearly guilty and failing to act to resolve the conflict, presents a “balanced” solution to a skewed situation, accusing each side of committing some kind of mistake. This false balance naturally produces an angry response from the side that is actively trying to produce a solution.
In its attempt at striking balance in the asymmetrical Palestinian-Israeli situation, the Quartet made up of the US, UN, EU and Russia Israel’s nearly 50 years of military occupation and illegal colonial settlements with Palestinians’ “incitement to violence”.
The often-repeated accusations that Palestinian school textbooks and media are instruments of incitement to violence have long been scientifically debunked even though they were regularly repeated by Israeli officials and Israeli apologists.
The claim that Palestinians teach their children hate has been rejected by tens of and European, as well as Israeli and Palestinian, academic studies since the turn of the millennium.  Continue Reading »

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Jul 21 2016

What really delayed UNESCO vote on Jerusalem?

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

Despite the Israelis’ initial claims that their efforts have partially succeeded in shelving a pro-Palestinian vote at UNESCO, the story that is emerging now is quite different. Palestinian and Arab officials say the delay in the vote that had been planned for July 20 in Istanbul was postponed due to the failed coup attempt in Turkey.

Omar Awadallah, the director of UN activities at the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Al-Monitor that UNESCO had postponed voting on all resolutions, not just the one on extending the declaration that Jerusalem’s Old City meets UNESCO’s criteria for being endangered. “Due to the security uncertainty connected to the failed coup in Turkey, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee decided to postpone all decisions until it meets again in Paris in October,” said Awadallah.

Kuwait’s permanent delegate to UNESCO, Meshal Hayat, echoed this position in a press release issued by the Arab Group at UNESCO, saying the suspension was due to the “current tensions in Turkey.” In the July 17 press release appropriately titled “Israel’s false allegation,” the Arab Group paints a picture that contradicts the Israeli story, quoting the Palestinian ambassador to UNESCO. It read, “Ambassador Mounir Anastas explained that what happened at the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO in Istanbul today is exactly the opposite of the Israeli claims, clarifying that the consultations that have been conducted in Istanbul within the World Heritage Committee showed that there was a consensus among all the committee members, including the EU members, to adopt the decision by consensus and without a vote. This is despite [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s outrageous campaign against the decision, and the Israeli strong opposition and diplomatic efforts to thwart it.” Continue Reading »

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Jul 21 2016

Palestine’s need for strategic media help

Jordan times logo

By Daoud Kuttab

The story was totally false, but that didn’t stop the Israeli media machine from milking it all the way.

The postponement of a UNESCO resolution slamming Israel for the dangers it is causing to Jerusalem’s heritage was termed as a “partial victory” for Israel.

The Israeli prime minister and the Israeli hasbara (propaganda) machine have been livid since April, when UNESCO approved a resolution that confirms the usage of the name Haram Al Sharif/Al Aqsa Mosque to refer to Islam’s third holiest shrine.

Israel is angry over the international organisation’s refusal to call the mosque area the “Temple Mount”, a reference to what most Jews believe is the former location of the Jewish Temple that historians say was destroyed in 70 AD.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee was meeting between July 10 and 20 to discuss a number of issues, including a Palestinian/Jordanian request to keep Jerusalem as one of 55 world sites that are in danger. Jordan had in 1982 added the Old City of Jerusalem to the list and the issue had to be voted on again. Continue Reading »

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Jul 20 2016

The New Arab Censors

Published by under Articles,Jordan

Project Syndicate

By Daoud Kuttab

AMMAN – The Internet has proved to be a powerful tool for overcoming media restrictions and censorship worldwide. But new restrictions on Web-based news media, such as those in Jordan, threaten to reverse the progress that the Internet has enabled.

For example, the tendency of Arab countries’ media to discuss issues concerning other countries more freely than those affecting their own has long impeded citizens’ ability to keep abreast of domestic affairs. Amin.org – the Arab world’s first censorship-free Web site, which I established in 1996 – addressed the problem by giving people access to information and commentary from foreign publications about domestic issues and events.

Four years later, at a time when Jordanians could access primarily government-owned radio stations, plus a few foreign stations, I launched AmmamNet.net, an Internet radio station that broadcast news and commentary from Jordan to the rest of the world. While Jordan later loosened official restrictions on audio-visual media, AmmanNet continued to deliver high-quality independent news and commentary.

Continue Reading »

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Jul 20 2016

‘No military solution’ say Israeli, Palestinian ex-fighters

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

The request for a travel permit seemed terribly innocent. An international filmmaker was debuting a film about Israeli and Palestinian peace activists and wanted the Palestinian activist to be present at the premier in West Jerusalem. But the Israeli authorities denied Shifa al-Qudsi‘s request.

 In an interview with Al-Monitor, Qudsi expressed perplexity, though she wasn’t totally surprised. “I have received permits to visit my brother in jail in Israel, so why do they deny me a chance to attend a peace documentary?” she commented in a phone call with Al-Monitor from her home in Tulkarm.

Stephen Apkon and Andrew Young’s “Disturbing the Peace,” about a brave group of Israelis and Palestinians, was screened July 14 at the Jerusalem Cinematheque. The film features four Israelis and four Palestinians, including Qudsi, who are part ofCombatants for Peace, a nonviolent organization originally made up exclusively of members who had participated in the conflict as armed combatants on one side or the other. Continue Reading »

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Jul 14 2016

‘We want water’ say Bethlehem area protesters

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

“We haven’t had water for nearly 40 days,” a caller to the Voice of Palestine radio station told the presenter of the show July 8. The caller lives in the picturesque village of Artas, southwest of Bethlehem, which is known for its fertile land and imposing monastery. Residents of the village are the latest victims of this summer’s extreme water shortage that has hit many parts of Palestine, but especially the Bethlehem governorate.

 Not far from Artas, in the village of al-Khader, residents have taken to the streets to protest the water shortage. “We have decided to go out into the streets and protest,” Ahmad Salah, a Palestinian who spent years in an Israeli jail, told Al-Monitor.

Calling himself a social activist, Salah said that the protest that began July 9 was completely spontaneous. “We don’t belong to any political party; we are Palestinians who simply want the water problem to be solved,” he said. The videos that Salah posted on his Facebook page show young people in the center of the town chanting “Bidna may” (“We want water”).

Salah said that the governor of Bethlehem agreed to meet with the protesters and promised them that water would reach the village by July 11. At exactly 6 p.m. that evening, once it became clear that al-Khader was still without running water, the youth were out protesting once more. Continue Reading »

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Jul 14 2016

False balance helps no one

Jordan times logo

By Daoud Kuttab

One of the lessons professional journalists have learned over the years is that objectivity and balance can sometimes be wrongly used.

If, as a journalist, you are witnessing rain, you are not obliged to report that one side says it is raining and the other side says it is not. You have an obligation to your audience to tell it simply that it is raining.

Such false balance is often seen in conflict-resolution cases where the side attempting to mediate a case where one side is clearly guilty and failing to act to resolve the conflict, presents a “balanced” solution to a skewed situation, accusing each side of committing some kind of mistake.

This false balance naturally produces an angry response from the side that is actively trying to produce a solution.

In its attempt at striking balance in the asymmetrical Palestinian-Israeli situation, the Quartet, made up of the US, UN, EU and Russia, balances Israel’s nearly 50 years of military occupation and illegal colonial settlements with Palestinians’ “incitement to violence”.

The often-repeated accusations that Palestinian school textbooks and media are instruments of incitement to violence have long been scientifically debunked even though they were regularly repeated by Israeli officials and Israeli apologists. Continue Reading »

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Jul 12 2016

DON’T BLAME PALESTINIAN MEDIA FOR THE CONTINUATION OF THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION

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By Daoud Kuttab

When the international community recently slammed Israel’s illegal settlement activities, Israel’s Prime Minister responded that the problem is not settlements but Palestinian incitement. Benjamin Netanyahu also has rejected that Israeli troops controlling Palestinian lands are an occupational force, again insisting that the real problem is Palestinian schools books and tv stations inciting innocent Palestinians to carry out acts of violence against the benevolent Israelis.
In its attempt at balance in an asymmetrical situation,  the Quartet made up of the UN, EU, Russia and the US  has also given prominence to the issue of “incitement to violence.”
The accusations that Palestinians school textbooks and media are instruments of incitement to violence have long been scientifically debunked even though they have been regularly repeated by Israeli officials and Israeli apologists.
The claim that Palestinians teach their children hate has been rejected by tens of American and European as well as Israeli and Palestinians academic studies since the turn of the millennium. A 2005 US congressional bipartisan report asserted that Palestinian textbooks “ do not incite Palestinians towards anti-Jewish violence or constitute a “war curriculum.” Europe’s’ Chris Patent was angry about accusations that the EU funds Palestinians textbooks full of hate that  he ordered a full investigation that of course found the accusation to be untrue. “It is a total fabrication that the European Union has funded textbooks with anti-Semitic arguments within them in Palestinian schools. It is a complete lie,” Patten said afterwards. Continue Reading »

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Jul 10 2016

We must all admit, it’s the occupation

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By Daoud Kuttab

Every psychologists or substance advisor will tell you that you can’t deal with disease or an addiction or any other problem without first recognizing that there is a problem. The same applies to the decades old Middle East conflict.

The conflict has long passed the stage of being focused entirely about Israel’s existence; the world recognizes Israel on the June 1967 border. The PLO in 1993 recognized Israel and exchanged letters of recognition, even President Bill Clinton was witness to the 1998 vote in the Palestinian National Council meeting in Gaza that amended the PLO charter that removed all clauses to the contrary of the PLO-Israel memorandum of Understanding, also known as the Oslo Accords.

Professor Cornell West is absolutely right as he pleaded with the Democratic Party’s platform committee to be honest and truthful and call things by their names. Professor West and his colleagues lost the vote in the Hillary majority committee 5-8 and had to abstain in the vote for the entire platform due to the failure of fellow members willing to call the situation for which Palestinian are suffering under as occupation. Continue Reading »

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