In a highly dubious political stunt designed to serve the dual purpose of boosting a foreign politician’s upcoming domestic election prospects and, for the Republicans, damaging President Obama, Binyimin Netenyahu was invited by Republican leaders to make a speech in Congress attacking the Iran policies of the President of the United States. One senator said afterwards .. "This speech was straight out of the Dick Cheney playbook. It was fearmongering at its ultimate." .. (story here).

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Address to Congress on Preventing a Nuclear Iran

This is a leader - gracious, humble, strong, stern and direct.  He did not parse words or pat himself on the back.  He simply thanked the United States for their help to his country, warned us of the impending threat, and laid out a strategy to solve the problem without going to war.

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The African Palestinian community of Jerusalem is in the heart of the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. Walk through the busy Damascus Gate and the market streets, passing the 4th and 5th Stations of the Cross. The paving stones have been polished by foot traffic for 2000 years or more. Spice aromas, the Muezzin calls and church bells ringing lead to the almost hidden African Palestinian quarter. Here, the African Palestinians live on both sides of Al’a ad Deen Street, ending at the great door of the Haram al Sherif (Noble Sanctuary Plaza).

Some 50 families, comprising 300 or more people, live in apartment blocks on both sides of the street. Called Ribats, these apartment blocks were originally built as hostels for pilgrims of the 13th century Mamluk period. The Habs Ad Dam, a prison during the latter part of the Ottoman era for those condemned to death, stands across the street from the Habs Al Ribat, built for short-term prisoners. At the start of the British Mandate period (1918), the former prisons (Habs) were given by the Islamic Wapf authorities to the African Palestinian families to serve as residences, and they remain so today. The wrought iron prison bars still define small windows and entry gates.

It is noteworthy that the African Palestinians of Jerusalem consider themselves proud, steadfast Palestinians. Since the 1967 war and occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, most of the community has been directly involved in the resistance. Many have served long sentences in Israeli prisons, as have many other Palestinians in the territories. With the 1967 war, a quarter of the African Palestinian community became refugees in surrounding countries, particularly Jordan and Lebanon. They currently cannot return.

Ali Jiddah says that he and all Palestinians now live in a larger prison defined by the eight-meter high “separation wall,” snaking 400 miles through Jerusalem and the West Bank. The wall protects Jewish settlements—and bifurcates Palestinian villages and farmlands. Ordinary family visits or commutes to work become difficult and humiliating journeys, caused by the Jewish-only roads, military checkpoints, and the wall.

African Palestinians came to the Holy City as Hajj pilgrims, mainly from Chad, Sudan, Niger and Senegal. Among the African ethnic groups are the Al Salamat, Al Housa, Al Barquo, Al Falata and Al Balata. And Qanembou and Boulala.


As early as the Mamluk era, the Jerusalem Wapf (Islamic authority) honored the African Palestinian community with an historic role as Guardians of the Mosque, due to both their proximity to the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Haram Al Sherif, and their high regard in the larger Palestinian community. Known for their integrity and courage, even today some from the community are bodyguards at East Jerusalem consulates and embassies, and for the Palestinian leadership.


Because Israel has annexed all of Jerusalem and is expanding the municipality, the African Palestinians, and all other East Jerusalem residents, cannot avail themselves of Palestinian passports and travel documents. Instead, they must choose (or not) to obtain Israeli identification for foreign travel. They live in legal limbo.

One can see and feel Sumoud on the faces—and sense it in the words and the bearing —of the African Palestinians in Jerusalem. Their quiet perseverance and resilience endures, just footsteps away from both the omnipresent Israeli occupation and the treasured historical holy sites.

Source [and for more photos]

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WARNING: GRAPHIC FOOTAGE

Video of Israeli soldiers using dogs against Palestinian boy sparks outcry

Mar. 3 2015

A leaked video shot in December purportedly shows IDF soldiers setting dogs on a Palestinian teenager. The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the attack, while Israel’s chief military prosecutor ordered an investigation into the incident.

The video went viral after being posted to Facebook by former  ultra nationalist Knesset member Michael Ben-Ari with the  caption: “The soldiers taught the little terrorist a  lesson.” The video has since been removed, but several  copies were shared on the internet.

The Palestinian WAFA news agency reported that the attack took  place on December 23, 2014 in the ‘buffer zone’ in the West Bank,  between the town of Beit Ummar and the nearby Israeli settlement  of Carmei Tzur, which is located south of the town.

The footage shows 16-year old Hamzeh Abu Hashem crying out as a  dog repeatedly attacks him, while Israeli soldiers hold him down.  A man can be heard commanding the dog to “bite him” as  well as tauntingly asking “who’s chicken?” according to  a translation provided by Haaretz.

Hashem had been accused of throwing stones at the soldiers. The  IDF has said that an “internal inquiry” would be  conducted and added that “the necessary steps will be taken  to prevent such incidents from recurring.”

Military Advocate General Major General Danny Efroni has ordered  for the soldiers involved to be interrogated, Channel 10  reported.

Hashem’s father is cited by Haaretz as saying that the teen was  treated for dog bites at a hospital before being transferred to a  prison.

“We, his mother and I, watched the video, and we couldn’t  believe what we were seeing,” he said. “My wife almost  fainted. I don’t know if there’s a mother or father in the world  who can be indifferent to such pictures.

It pained us very much, especially the fact that the boy was  helpless and the soldiers rejoiced over him.”

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem however says the footage doesn’t show anything out of  the ordinary, noting that it is “standard” army  practice. The group documented several similar incidents over  last year.

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Brief note on ‪Netanyahu’svisit and speech | Bay Area Intifada

As much as it may help cool down hearts of those fighting and advocating for the liberation of ‪‎Palestine to see open rifts between the US government and‪ Israel, it is imperative that people not lose sight of how Israel is able to operate:: the US government.

All US representatives who are skipping the speech have stated it’s because Netanyahu has disrespected Obama, the same Obama who has facilitated Israel’s aggressions against Palestine and has no consideration of stopping this support.

When the black caucus of congress stated it was boycotting the speech there was no mention of the plight of Palestinians or of African migrants who are seeking refuge on occupied Palestinian land.

The main reason the US government cannot openly admit the state of Israel is illegitimate and has no right to exist is because the US itself also has no right to exist. These two states are not just intertwined; they exist because the other exists. And any condemnation of one begets the other (as it should).

Any true solidarity with the Palestinian people should mean working towards ending the state of Israel — which should also mean ending the United States of America. Settler colonialism is settler colonialism. Genocide is genocide. Fixation on one and dismissing the other is lazy politics.

Both must be ended.