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  1. 1. AQSA NEWS QUARTERLY FREE WWW.AQSA.ORG.UK ISSUE 48 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 Friends of Al-Aqsa newspaper since 1997 Deputy Prime Minister NickCleggmadeastatement on Monday 16th January in which he accused Israel of ‘an act of deliberate vandal- ism’, referring to the build- ing of illegal settlements in the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem. The British government has made it clear that it opposes the building of the settlements, and Clegg went a step further, stating “The continued existence of illegal settlements risks making facts on the ground such that a two-state solu- tion becomes unviable.” This echoes the beliefs of increasing numbers of com- mentators and academics who argue Israel’s policies on the ground make a two- state solution impossible. Nick Clegg’s statements were met with a furi- ous Israeli response. The country’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon alleged that the remarks were untrue labelling them unfortunate, damaging and irresponsible. The Israeli reply has been to underplay the impact of the settle- ment building, even arguing against their illegality de- spite legal and international consensus on this. In reference to Israeli’s deliberate settlement build- ingpolicies,Cleggcomment- ed: “Once you’ve placed physical facts on the ground that makes it impossible to deliver something that eve- ryone has for years agreed istheultimatedestination.... It is an act of deliberate van- dalism to the basic premise on which negotiations have taken place for years and years and years.” Palestinians have in- creasingly refused to en- gage in any talks until Israel proves it is serious about pursuing peace by halting the illegal settlement activ- ity. Israel has failed to do this and instead periodically announces plans for new settlement homes. These announcements have drawn criticism and condemnation from the international com- munity,includingtheUSwho calls it ‘counter-productive’. Continued on page 5 Illegal settlements act of ‘deliberate vandalism’, says Clegg Icon of peace destroyed Page 3 Review - Miral Special Feature Dispossessing Jerusalem Page 6 Gaza’s wilting flowers 3 Recipe 14 Page 10 Inside... Shaykh Raed Salah is still in the UK pending an appeal against a highly contentious decision reached by the Immigra- tion Tribunal in Novem- ber 2011. However, one of the cases still pending in Israel which was used as evidence against him here in the UK, has been concluded in his absence and he was acquitted of all charges. Shaykh Raed had been charged with non-com- pliance of a legal order in 2007 when he attended a charity dinner in Jerusa- lem. Israeli police claimed that it was a Hamas meet- ing and attacked the guests including Shaykh Raed, who was hospitalised as a result. His lawyer stated that the court in Israel had “given its verdict, and that the attack on the Shaykh and those with him was neither legal nor justified as the matter was com- pletely unconnected to the Hamas Movement and there is no evidence to the contrary.” Shaykh Raed has been in the UK since June 2011, when his one week-long visit was disrupted after Home Secretary Teresa May ordered his arrest and deportation, based on evidences presented by the Communities Securi- ties Trust. Despite the difficulties he has faced in remaining in Britain, he is determined to fight against the Deportation Order which he believes amounts to an infringement on the rights of all Palestinians to speak openly about what is happening to them under Israeli occupation. Israeli court acquits Shaykh Raed Salah My neighbour is the head of JNF Israel’s covert war on Iran Palestinians ‘don’t exist’Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 SPONSORED WALK 2012 • SUNDAY 6TH MAY • PEAK DISTRICT - DERBYSHIRE • REGISTER TODAY • WWW.FOA.ORG.UK/WALK Travel to Palestine Travelling in solidarity, returning with humility By Ghazala • Page 17 Misery as homes demolished See pages 2 and 3
  2. 2. INSIDE PALESTINE 02 AQSA NEWS | ISSUE 48 / JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 European Diplomats call for urgent ‘radical action’ over Jerusalem European diplomats have reported that Israeli actions in Jerusalem are “systematically undermin- ing the Palestinian pres- ence” in the city and making it “increasingly unlikely and unworkable” for the city to be a shared capital in the future. As a result, they are undermining the possibil- ity of the two-state solution they are seeking. Of special concern is the deliberate move to ‘empha- sise the Jewish identity of the city at the expense of Muslim and Christian resi- dents’. The discrimination extends beyond historic religious sites, and on a social/political level, they point out that only 10 per cent of the city’s resources are spent on services for Palestinians, even though they represent 37 per cent of the population. Israeli authorities are also failing to provide schooling for all Palestinian children, with less than half now attending municipal schools. As Israel controls the city and the tax revenues, it is obliged to provide schooling for the city’s children, regardless of their religious beliefs. House demolitions con- tinue, as the Israeli authori- ties only grant about 200 planning permissions per year to Palestinians. The actual need stands at 1,500 per year. As a result, Pales- tinians are forced to build houses without permis- sion to accommodate their families and these homes are then demolished. At present, it is thought that up to 90,000 Palestinians live under threat of having their homes demolished. This is a very large percentage of the population. Israeli apartheid over water resources A report by the French Parliament’s Foreign Af- fairs Committee said that Israel was guilty of practic- ing ‘apartheid policies’ over water resources in the West Bank. The report further stated that water was now being used as a weapon against Palestinians. Dur- ing the war on Gaza, Israel is said to have deliberately bombed water reservoirs. In the West Bank, 450,000 illegal Israeli set- tlers use more water than the 2.3 million Palestin- ian population. In times of drought, the settlers also get priority over the water which is an illegal practice under international law. The report also detailed how the Separation Wall was delib- erately being routed so that Israel can control under- ground water resources in the West Bank. Thus, they are deliberately stealing Pal- estinian water resources. As a result, any discussions of a two-state solution will need to take water resources into account Demolitions According to the United Nation, Israel demolished 431 Palestinian buildings throughout 2010 and anoth- er 356 in the first six months of 2011. More than 1000 Palestinians were displaced due to the demolitions in 2011 alone. While Palestin- ian homes and buildings are being destroyed on the one hand, Israel continues its rapid building of illegal Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land. Bamboo furniture - keeping the family tradition alive in Gaza Abu Raed al-Mathloum and his son live in Gaza and are the descendents of generations of Palestinian bamboo-furniture makers. Despite the blockade on Gaza which restricts the import of bamboo to ‘black market’ smuggling through the tunnels, Abu Raed and his son continue to perse- vere to keep their families tradition alive. “We look forward to continuing this work for our lifetime,” Abu Raed says, adding, “This is work that I myself am proud of and my children should be proud of too.” The al-Mathloum story is one of enduring courage and determination to continue their way of life against the odds. Illegal immigrants to get 3 years in prison Anyone found to have crossed into Israel illegally can now be imprisoned for 3 years without trial. This latest anti-democratic law has been passed by the Is- raeli government despite the misgivings of its legal advisors, and public opinion in the country. This detention without trial is likely to affect people who pose no security threat to Israel and are simply at- tempting to earn money through employment. De- porting them back to their country of origin would be a far more humane step, which does not breach their human rights to such a pal- pable degree. The Preven- tion of Infiltration Law is believed to be an extension of a law which in the 1950’s stopped Palestinians from returning to their homes af- ter they fled during the war. Israel killed 180 Palestinians in 2011 Statistics show that during 2011, Israel perpetrated the following acts: ● 180 Palestinians killed (including 21 children) ● 3,300 Palestinians arrested ● 495 homes demolished ● 18,764 olive and fruit trees uprooted ● 26,837 settlement units across the Occupied Territories approved, including 1,664 housing units in and around Occupied Jerusalem (despite international condemnation)
  3. 3. INSIDE PALESTINE ISSUE 48 / JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | AQSA NEWS 03 Gaza’s wilting flowers Gaza’s farmers are con- tinuing to feel the effects of Israel’s export restrictions, which is strangling their businesses. Ayman Siam grows flowers and this year, he was forced to stop grow- ing carnations, and instead grow limonium and statice flowers which would sur- vive longer. His difficulties are not with growing flowers as he has large farmlands, and there is abundance in de- mand for the flowers from Europe. What stands in the way is Israel’s refusal to al- low Gazan’s to export. Only a few paltry lorry loads are allowed to cross the bor- ders. Last year, he only used 1/3 of his farmland to grow flowers as the rest was sure to be wasted and it was not a financial risk he can bear. Before the siege was im- posed in 2005, Gazan farm- ers used to export 50-60 million flowers to Northern Europe. In 2011, they only exported 15-16 million. “Our lives are so depend- ent on the Israeli crossings, we hope we get our own independent sea port to export our goods straight from Rafah to the Nether- lands,” he said. My neighbour is the head of the JNF Hashem Azzeh is a Palestinian who lives in Hebron with his family. He regularly takes interna- tional solidarity activists on tours of the West Bank, and during one recent visit by British activist Ghazala, he took the group to his home. Ghazala: Hashem lives near Tel Rumeida, an Illegal Israeli settlement built amongst thousands of Palestinian inhabitants in Hebron. To get to Tel Rumeida, we went through a checkpoint onto Shuhada Street, which locals have named “Apartheid” Street. Shuhada Street was once a vibrant, busy Palestinian market place. Today it is deserted,withemptyshops riddled with bullet holes and broken windows. The street is lined with Israeli flags, Israeli propaganda posters and pro Israeli graffiti. While walking down the street we spotted a group of Palestinian chil- dren waving from inside their first floor home, behind a caged window. As a result of settler vio- lence they are not allowed to play outside and their houses are protected by wire mesh and metal bars. The children were cheer- ing with excitement as we stopped to wave back and say hello. It was deeply dis- tressing to see that these children were prisoners in their own homes, unable to enjoy their childhood out of fear that settlers may at- tack them. Hashem’s house is sur- rounded by Israeli settle- ments and his neighbor is Baruch Marzel the head of the JNF. Hashem took us into his back garden where Marzel’s house can be seen just a few meters away, raised far above Hashem’s home. We were warned not to touch any of the fruit trees on Hashem’s land as Israeli settler’s had poi- soned all of them includ- ing grapes, figs, olives and almonds. The fruit are left rotting on the trees, ined- ible. Hashem clearly lives a tormented life as he and his family receive death threats on a daily basis and suffer extreme settler violence. He told us stories about his experiences with the settlers, how his wife lost her babies twice when she was pregnant as a result of being attacked. Settlers also attacked his nine-year-old nephew by putting a rock in his mouth and smashing his teeth. When Hashem’s father passed away, they had to take the body through the checkpoint and it was put through the scanner many times, before the Israeli soldiers broke the bones of his father’s hand to get a watch off. Hashem himself has been beaten with a rifle butt, the scars on his face and damaged teeth act as clear evidence. Hashem explained to us that he has to clean his garden every- day of the rubbish thrown from settlers living nearby. On one occasion a settler threw down a washing ma- chine, intending to hurt or even kill Hashem. He was able to jump to safety just in time as it crash landed by his feet. Despite the desper- ate situation they were in, Hashem and his fam- ily welcomed us to their home. We could not help but be touched by this fam- ily and its determination to survive and live despite all the terror they have faced and continue to face. Icon of peace destroyed Just before midnight on Monday, 23 January, Israeli bulldozers demol- ished the home of Salim and Arabiya Shawamreh, in Anata, near Jerusalem. This couple is known to many who met them while they both toured Britain in 2010 and Salim returned again in 2011. They came to tell their story of suffering four home demolitions by the Is- raeli authorities. It has now been demolished for the fifth time. The Israeli Supreme Court had ruled in 2009 that the house was illegal because it didn’t have a building permit. This is the excuse Israel gives as it rare- ly grants building permits to Palestinians yet Israel is the guilty party as it continues to award permits to Israelis and the building of illegal settlements continues. Pal- estinians need somewhere to live and are forced to build without permits. After each demolition of the Shawamreh home, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) rebuilt it, as an act of politi- cal resistance to Israel’s hei- nous demolition policy and to demonstrate that there are Israeli partners for peace. After the fourth dem- olition in 2003, the house was rebuilt as a peace cen- tre and named Beit Arabiya. Thousands of internation- als have been welcomed to their home and served Ara- biya’s famous ‘maklouba’. Hundreds of internationals have stayed there during ICAHD’s annual summer rebuilding camp. But now even this icon of peace is reduced to rubble. Not one of their many fruit and olive trees remain and every vine has been uprooted. ICAHD has rebuilt 185 demolished Palestin- ian homes in the past 15 years, all funded by dona- tions. ICAHD will rebuild Beit Arabiya as well as the other homes demolished on Monday night. The coming together of Palestinian fam- ilies and community mem- bers, Israeli activists and international peace-makers to rebuild homes is one of the most significant forms of resistance, solidarity and mobilization. For furthe information, visit
  4. 4. GLOBAL NEWS 04 AQSA NEWS | ISSUE 48 / JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 Iceland recognises Palestine In December 2011, Iceland became the first Western European state to officially recognize Pal- estine as an independent state. A unanimous motion was passed recognizing ‘an independent and sovereign state’ based on borders pre- dating the 1967 war. Israel’s covert war on Iran Over the past two years, Iranianscientistshavebeen targeted for assassination and its nuclear facilities rocked by bomb blasts. Iran’s Vice-President Mo- hammad Reza Rahimi said the attacks were ‘evidence of foreign government sponsored terrorism’ with- in Iran. The latest victim was Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, killed when assassins placed a bomb on his car and drove off on a motor- bike. Both Mostafa and his driver were killed. Iran has pointed the finger of blame specifically at Israel, and it appears that with its track- record of assassinations on foreign soil and sabotage missions, Israel has not seen fit to deny the claims. Recently, an article written by Israeli journal- ist Ron Ben-Yishai, who reportedly has close ties to the military-intelligence es- tablishment, suggests that Mossad is behind the spate of murders of Iranian nu- clear scientists. He wrote: The assassination of Iranian experts is meant to deter other scientists, in- cluding foreign ones, from getting involved in such projects. The elimina- tions also slow down these projects and force Tehran to reorganize.Moreover,killing key figures in vital projects greatly embarrasses the Iranian regime and security forces. Such operations por- tray the establishment as an incompetent bunch that time after time fails in safe- guarding vital interests. All indications show that a state organ is behind the assassinations. Only a state has the resources required to carry out the kind of op- erations executed in Iran. This includes investment in intelligence gathering that identifies the targets and prioritizes them, the invest- ment of time and sophisti- cated means in preparing an operation against people or locations that are usu- ally under heavy guard, as well as the recruitment and training of the perpetrators. National spy agencies are virtually the only ones that possess such capabilities. For these reasons, the Iranians and the interna- tional media tend to point to the CIA or Israel’s Mossad as the parties responsible for the assassinations and blasts in Iran. However, official American and Is- raeli spokespeople have not claimed responsibility for such operations. UNESCO welcomes Palestine In December 2011, Palestine made history when its national flag was raised above UNESCO in Paris – the first UN agency to fly it. The UNESCO vote to recognize Palestine was seen as a reflection of in- ternational will, although Israel and the US responded with anger. The US cut off millions of dollars in fund- ing to the body and Israel withheld Palestinian tax revenues which it collects on behalf of the Palestin- ian Authority. Both moves turned out to be futile as the wave of international opin- ion has swept Palestine on the international stage as a recognized state. President Mahmoud Ab- bas’ bid for UN recognition is still ongoing. Thought Many media com- mentators and politicians refer to the goods coming though Gaza’s smuggling tunnels as ‘illegal imports’. There is a need to question the use of the term ‘illegal’ in this context. For whom is it illegal? Perhaps for Israel who is imposing the illegal and immoral col- lective punishment of the people of Gaza through the blockade? It is certainly not illegal for the Palestin- ians. The elected govern- ment in Gaza collects taxes on tunnel goods, so the smuggling of goods cannot be labeled as “the black market”. The costs are high, due to the demand being high – a product of the blockade. The most ac- curate way to refer to the goods coming through the tunnels is – the forced di- version of import through underground tunnels due to the harsh and illegal blockade placed on 1.5 million people in Gaza by its neighbour. International boycott of Sodastream grows Israeli company Sodas- tream is being targeted by boycott campaigners in nu- merous countries including Italy, Sweden and the UK. Sodastream’s main produc- tion factory has been built on the Mishor Adumim illegal settlement, reinforc- ing the illegal occupation of Palestinian land. When contacted, Sodas- tream responded by stating that it was providing Pales- tinianwithvaluablejobsand good working conditions. While many Palestinians have little choice but to take any jobs they are offered, even on illegal settlements, the marvellous working conditions Sodastream de- scribe have been disputed. A 2009 Report outlined how workers had been fired without wages. Palestinians are not given the luxury of unions or other institutions which can protect their jobs and income, and as a result, they are at the mercy of the Israeli companies who hire them, and have no job secu- rity at all.
  5. 5. GLOBAL NEWS ISSUE 48 / JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | AQSA NEWS 05 Belgian Activists file war crimes complaint following Israeli ‘Flytilla’ mistreatment A number of European peace activists took part in a ‘Flytilla’ in summer 2011, in order to demonstrate Israeli restrictions on Pales- tinians. The efforts of many were thwarted in a number of ways, including refusal by airlines to allow them to board flights to Tel-Aviv. For those who did make the trip, their treatment in Is- raeli detention before being deported was reportedly cruel and violent. As a result, two of the Belgian activists have filed war crimes complaints with federal prosecutors in Belgium, against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials. Hajar Moumni and Muhammad Najar say they were detained, mistreated, beaten and harshly inter- rogated. Belgium’s univer- sal jurisdiction law was changed by its government after citizens attempted to prosecute former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon about a decade ago. Now, the law limits prosecutions to victims of crimes alleg- edly committed outside the country who are Belgian nationals. Mossad poses as CIA to recruit jihadists in war against Iran On 13 January 2012, Mark Perry published an article on where he detailed how a series of CIA memos report- edly describes how Israeli Mossad agents posed as CIA spies to recruit members of the Iranian terrorist organi- sation Jundallah, in order to fight their covert war against Iran. The memos were writ- ten during the last years of President George W. Bush’s administration, and de- scribe how ‘Israeli Mossad officersrecruitedoperatives belonging to the terrorist group Jundallah by passing themselves off as American agents.’ Perry further writes in his article that, ‘Accord- ing to two U.S. intelligence officials, the Israelis, flush with American dollars and toting U.S. passports, posed as CIA officers in recruiting Jundallah operatives - what is commonly referred to as a “false flag” operation. ‘ The US was being ac- cused of covertly support- ing Jundullah and encourag- ing them to destabilise the Iranian government, a claim which the US denied. How- ever, it is thought that US operatives were aware that Israel was engaging with them. The US government now lists Jundallah as a ter- rorist organisation, as does the Iranian government. Palestinians ‘don’t exist’ In the run up to the selection of the Republican candidate to run in the Presidential elections in the US this year, the level of hostility to Palestinians has reached an all time high. Statements to appease the pro-Israel lobbyists, who are notorious for funding election campaigns, have included denying that the Palestinians even exist, calling them an ‘invented’ people (Former Speaker of the House of Repre- sentatives, Newt Gingrich). While pro-Israelis may wish this to be the case, it is far from reality. Following the comments by Gingrich, he reportedly received a $5 million campaign con- tribution from billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a staunch Israel supporter. The level of delusion went even further with some candidates, includ- ing Rick Santorom who claimed, ‘All the people who live in the West Bank are Israelis. There are no Palestinians.’ It is increasingly wor- rying to note how impor- tant the Israel/Palestine issue seems to be in the US elections, despite issues such as the economy and healthcare being such ma- jor issues in voters’ every- day lives, which would be expected to take priority. Students face backlash for all-expenses paid Israeli propaganda tour British students who are members of the Labour Party have faced a back-lash from members of the NUS following an all-expenses paid tour of Israel, which included visits to illegal Is- raeli settlements. During the visit, the students met with Captain Barak Raz, an Israeli army spokesperson and other Israeli officials, including spokesman Mark Regev. The visit became public when several students and Captain Barak tweeted mes- sages about it. The tweets have since all been deleted, but not before screen shots were obtained. One of the delegates, Joe Vinson, defended the trip saying they were told both sides of the story. However, it appears that they only met one Palestinian or- ganization during the trip – OneVoice Palestine –an organization set up by an Israeli business man, which Palestinians have heav- ily criticized. This suggests that a balanced perspective was impossible to achieve during the trip. James Haywood is a member of the NUS Ex- ecutive Council and he denounced the tour, say- ing, “for elected officers to accept all-expenses-paid trips to Israel is scandalous, all the more so that it was arranged by an openly pro- Israel organization. I’m not surprised that these officers didn’tmeetPalestinianrefu- gees, students and activists — because they would have seen the truth of the racism and oppression they suffer from daily.” continued from front page However, there is a clear lack of will on the part of the US and its allies to en- force any settlement-freeze against Israel despite the cataclysmic impact it is hav- ing on peace efforts. Where the legal posi- tion is concerned, the In- ternational Court of Justice reiterated in July 2004 that, “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestin- ian Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and an obstacle to peace and to economic and social development [... and] have been established in breach of international law.” Israel is guilty of breaching Arti- cle 49, paragraph 6 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which stipulates that “the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occu- pies”. Israel is attempting to change the narrative by call- ing land ‘disputed’ instead of occupied. US Judge dismisses pro-Zionist students’ claims A Judge in the US has thrown out a case brought by pro-Zionist students who claimed that the Univer- sity of California, Berkley, allowed a climate of anti- Semitism to develop on campus. The case targeted the ‘Students for Justice in Palestine’ and ‘Muslim Students Association’ so- cieties. However, the judge dismissed the case as the pro-Zionist student’s failed to support their case with evidence. This was the latest in legal moves by pro-Zionists to stifle legitimate criticism of Israeli policies on cam- puses and the decision has been gratefully received by student activists.
  6. 6. REVIEW 06 AQSA NEWS | ISSUE 48 / JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 Review ‘Miral’ Miral is a film that many would have missed when it was released in 2010, de- spite its leading role being played by actress Frieda Pinto (Slumdog Million- aire), and being directed by Academy Award nominated director Julian Schnabel. It is a story that spans genera- tions and attempts to nar- rate the human toll of over 40 years of conflict. Based on Rula Jebreal’s hugely successful novel by the same name, Miral is Ru- la’s personal tail about life in a Jerusalem orphanage, Dar El-Tifel. The film begins in 1948 following the war which saw the end of Pal- estine and the creation of Israel. The greatest victims of the war were the children left orphaned. In the open- ing scenes, Hind al-Husseini stumbles upon a group of scared children in an al- ley. They are the orphaned children of Deir Yassin, one of the many massacres committed by Zionist forces during the months of war. Hind is a prominent figure throughout the film, and within Miral’s life. She established an orphanage in Jerusalem for the children of the war, which grew to ac- commodate 2,000 orphans. Miral was taken to this or- phanage by her father when her mother died. In an act of tremendous courage and sacrifice - he chose to give his child a chance most Pal- estinian children are denied – a good quality education and a real chance in life. This required sacrificing his own role in his daughter’s life. This crucial decision shaped Miral’s future and eventually allowed her to leave Palestine and become a leading international jour- nalist. The film journey’s through Miral’s mother’s life and then to her own. Some of the scenes make for uncomfortable view- ing and the film shows the abuse suffered by Miral’s mother, which eventually leads to her tragic end. It shows human sacrifice and the destruction the creation of Israel caused for Pales- tinians, and there is a sharp focus on the role of women in the struggle. The most challenging portrayal is the uneasy re- lationship between Arab/ Palestinian and Israeli Jew. Both sides hold prejudices and for Palestinians, these are sustained by their daily suffering. Miral (2010) Freida Pinto, Hiam Abbass & Willem Dafoe A drama centered on an orphaned Palestinian girl growing up in the wake of the Arab-Israeli war who finds herself drawn into the conflict. Images courtesy of As expected, any cinematic portrayal of the Israel/Palestine conflict attracts political association, and Miral was no difference. When it was premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2010, it received a 15 minute standing ovation. It premiered in the USA in the United Nations’ General Assembly Hall – the first film to ever do so. Despite this, it was largely critiqued as a ‘messy melodrama’ within the American press, perhaps reflecting the US sensibilities and biases over the Israel/Palestine conflict. Miral is not a film for beginner’s and it is more likely to confuse than clarify those who do not have a solid understanding of the background. Those with detailed knowledge about the conflict and the history will appreciate the portrayal of the conflict through the eyes of Palestinian youth. “There is no future for them unless there’s one for us.” Miral’s involvement in the conflict is shaped by the First Intifada from 1987. In thehazeofpassionateyouth, she takes incredible risks to support the uprising and in the ensuing violence, loses her closest friend and faces torture in Israeli detention. After making her own sac- rifices, Miral finally accepts that negotiations may lead to peace. Sadly, this peace still evades the region.
  7. 7. ISSUE 48 / JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | AQSA NEWS 07 Review & Interview Selma Dabbagh - ‘Out of It’ Selma Dabbagh is a Brit- ish-Palestinian writer who lives in London. Her first full length novel, ‘Out Of It’ was published by Bloomsbury in December 2011. In the con- text of the Arab Spring, the picture of revolutionaries is now the daily staple within news feeds in Europe. However, the story of the Palestinians depicts a dec- ades old conflict in which generation after generation of Palestinian families have sacrificed a normal exist- ence for the sake of their peoples’ future. Selma has been closely tied with the Palestinian struggle throughout her life. As a result, it has been a highly visible theme in her writing. It is not surprising that her first novel delves into the social and political fabric of the struggle with such poignant accuracy and detail. Out of It is already in print in the Middle East and due to be published in the US in June 2012. Selma has been acclaimed as an ‘excit- ing emerging writer’ (The Independent on Sunday) and is certainly one to look out for. She is a talented writer in her own right, but also a champion of the Palestin- ian struggle for freedom on many fronts internationally. Aqsa News caught up with Selma for a quick in- terview Thank you for agreeing to speak to us. Your first novel ‘Out of It’ is the nar- rative of a family of five in Gaza. What made you decide on this setting for your first novel? My father is Palestinian, he is a refugee who was forced out of Jaffa in 1948 when he was ten years old. He left on a stretcher in a truck. He had been hit by a grenade thrown by the Jewish militant groups. My mother is English, but growing up, the Palestinian situation informed our poli- tics and our outlook. I also work as a human rights law- yer and much of my work is focused on the situation in Palestine. When I started writing fiction, in the form of short stories, I retained a focus on Palestine and a recurring theme of political consciousness kept emerg- ing. Gaza is the main setting for this novel, but it is not the only setting. There are three: Gaza, London and the Gulf and of the three, Gaza is the one I am least familiar with. It is however, in many ways, the most extreme ex- ample of Palestinian exist- ence on their own land, due to the nature of the occupa- tion, the siege and the aer- ial bombardments inflicted upon it. I also wanted to have a family that reflected the multiple political, class, geographic and experien- tial identities of Palestinian people today. I wanted these disparate places partly because very few Palestinians from the same family are based in the same country any more, that is part of the Palestin- ian reality, Palestinians are continually being divided up, dispersed, disenfran- chised and I wanted not just to reflect that, but also to consider what still connects Palestinians wherever they are, which I would loosely call ‘the cause’. Are the characters completely imaginary and fictional or do they reflect people who you have met in Palestine struggling against occupation? The characters are fictional, but there are, of course, aspects of people I know, some of whom live in the West Bank or Gaza whose characteristics are embodied in characters found in the novel. I did try to communicate as much as possible, the difficulties that friends and former col- leagues of mine faced living under occupation and the particular peer pressure that can be found when living in a state of political struggle. The nature of the oc- cupation is to create pow- erlessness and a sense of hopelessness yet the people I knew and met showed au- dacity, bravery and tenacity. They managed to keep their humanity in dehumanized circumstances and refused to accept what was forced upon them. These were the characteristicsthatIwanted to convey in the book. Although Out of It is about Palestinians and the conflict, it does not feature Israelis, was this deliber- ate? The Palestinians rarely have visibility in the pub- lic arena in a positive way. There is a definite image problem with the depiction of Palestinians. In contrast, Israelis are the masters of disguise and have this ability to commit the most horrendous of international crimes, yet to emerge from having done so appearing heroic. The creation of the State of Israel was the great- est PR stunt of the 20th century and it was only ac- complished by making the Palestinians invisible or at least dispensable by depict- ing them as being less than human. Out of It focuses on the Palestinians living now, and seeks to represent them as thinking, feeling indi- viduals dealing with moral choices in a situation of po- litical tyranny and despair. What impression do you think your book will leave on readers, espe- cially those who are unfa- miliar with the conflict? I hope that for a reader unfamiliar with the situa- tion in Palestine, that the novel will make them more able to visualize the lives of the people affected when they read about house demolitions for example, or aerial bombardments. The situation is a mess, no two ways about that, a disas- trous mess at the moment, but it is one that has been broughtaboutbysystematic policies that can be changed and should be changed. The power of the people to insti- gate change should never be underestimated. You have said that you expect the novel to be highly criticized, has this come to fruition or have you been pleasantly sur- prised by the reception it received? In the main I have been extremely pleased by how interested and praising people have been of my book. There have been fea- tures in the Metro, reviews in the Guardian, the Inde- pendent, the Daily Mirror, the Independent on Sunday and by bloggers. I have been interviewed by BBC Radio 4 and invited to give readings. This is all great. I needed Out of It to be a good read. A fast, energetic youthful account of people with hopes for life and love and a better existence, not for it to be another carefully researched tome of all the UN Resolutions that have not been adhered to, there are so many books like that, most of them only read by those who are already familiar with the situation and sympathetic to the Pal- estinian struggle. Do you think the events of the Arab Spring will help people in Europe and the West better understand the Palestinian struggle or eclipse it? It is too early to tell. The balance of power shifts from day to day. The dynam- ics are electric. It is hard to know whether one should be cheering or weeping sometimes. 2011 was a year of unprecedented change, which is still ongoing. It was inevitable that media at- tention would get deflected away from Palestine, due to seismic changes that were occurring elsewhere across the region, but this does not mean that the Palestinian struggle has been forgotten or that it has diminished in importance. I do believe that the im- age of the Arab world has been changed and that the bursting forth of multi lin- gual, articulate, secular and non secular, well educated Arab youth into the interna- tional media has provided a better understanding of the diversity, energy and ability contained within the region as a whole. Thank you. Out of It By Selma Dabbagh, Bloomsbury Publishing, ISBN 978-­‐1408821305, £12.99 Games to Gaza (G2G) 2012 is a two week summer project. A team of volunteers from the UK will work closely with the Palestinian community in Gaza to host a fun summer camp for the children. We will facilitate a range of exciting workshops, including a mixture of educational and recreational activities such as sports, arts, crafts and creative writing. The project has been inspired by the Olympic Games, which will be celebrated in London at the same time. The aim is to celebrate childhood and create as many smiles as possible. Games to Gaza 2012 How you can get involved Make a donation One off donation or set up a standing order of £1 a week or £5 a month Can you sponsor one Palestinian child and be the reason behind their smile? If you are a business owner – would you consider making a charitable donation to G2G? Purchase our merchandise 100% off the profits raised will go towards the cause. Visit the site for more details and prices: Help us to fundraise Are you a teacher or a governor or know someone who is? Visit the site or get in touch for more details. Can you and a group of friends help us bucketeer in your local area? Can you get 10 friends/family members to donate £10 (or any other sum) each? Host an event of your own and donate all or part of the proceeds to this cause. Are you hosting an event? Is there potential for G2G to have a stall there? Do invite us along! We have a number of events lined up - stay tuned for more info and attend these events. Facebook - beLive: Games to Gaza 2012 Twitter - @Ri_Games2Gaza Have any comments/ideas/suggestions regarding the project? Leave a comment on our website
  8. 8. UPDATE FROM FRIENDS OF AL AQSA 08 AQSA NEWS | ISSUE 48 / JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 This year marks the 15 anniversary since the founding of Friends of Al- Aqsa. I recall in 1997 when a couple of dozen of us gathered in a room to dis- cuss the need for a cause dedicated to reminding Muslims across Britain, and perhaps one day the wider world; about the importance of Masjid al- Aqsa. In the decade and a half which has ensued, our mission has grown and developed significantly. While remaining faith- ful to our objectives in defending the sacred al- Aqsa Sanctuary, we have also dedicated much of our time and resources to defending the rights of the occupied Palestinian peo- ple. We realized early on that these two objectives go hand in hand, as the Is- raeli threat against the al- Aqsa Sanctuary is equaled by the threats posed to the lives and well-being of the Palestinian people. The climate in which we work has changed sig- nificantly over this time. We have gathered hun- dreds of dedicated volun- teers across the country, and they are all part of the FOA family, helping to draw greater attention to the suffering faced by Palestinians on a daily ba- sis. These volunteers have established 13 branches across the UK. We have also directly been involved in helping set up 5 inter- national organisations on the issue. This was no easy feat, however, the obvious injustices faced by Pales- tinians was the driving force for so many becom- ing involved in this cause. Today the majority of people in the UK are sym- pathetic to the Palestinian causeandtheMuslimcom- munity has become more aware of their religious heritage in Jerusalem and Masjid al-Aqsa itself. We also enjoy the support of large numbers of people who do not share this re- ligious affiliation, but who support our human rights endeavors. FOA welcomes people from all walks of life to support this very human cause. While 2012 marks 15 years of FOA, we must remember that this is the 64th year since Palestine waswipedoffthemapwith the destruction of over 500 villages. It has also been 45 years since Masjid al-Aqsa came under oc- cupation. The Palestinian population in Jerusalem is being slowly removed from the ground. However, Palestinian heritage over their homeland will not be wiped from our memories, and the fight for restitu- tion will continue. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has shared this journey with us over the years. It is a battle we must continue until the oc- cupation ends. Ismail Patel Do they not look at the sky above them? How We have made it and adorned it, and there are no Flaws in it? And the earth We have spread it out, and set thereon mountains standing firm, and produced therein every kind of beautiful growth (in pairs)—To be observed and commemorated by every devotee turning (to God). ► Branches Update DEWSBURY & BATLEY ● “We have been focusing on educating children on the significance of Palestine and Jerusalem to Muslims. It has been great fun engaging and interacting with young people and helping them to understand a complex history. Activities including flag making and quizzes. We hope this is just the start! We have also been busy with stalls around the towns to give the public access to in- formation on Palestine” COVENTRY ● FOA would like to wel- come our new branch in Coventry! After years of working with individual volun- teers, we finally have an official branch which was launched in Decem- ber with an event which drew a large crowd. Anyone who would like to join the branch and help it get on its feet can contact: LONDON ● “Three years after the bombing of Gaza, we held a demonstration in London in conjunction with other soli- darity groups in December. It was attended by hundreds of people despite being on a bank holiday weekend. This shows the spirit and com- mitment that so many of us have to this cause.” GLASGOW ● The Glasgow girls and boys have been busy with their own projects. From football to fundraising, they have done a lot over the past few months. In the Community “FOA London attended the Twins of Faith conference at London’s Excel Centre in November. The Team spoke to hundreds of people en- couraging them to become politically active on the is- sue of Palestine. To raise awareness, we distributed just under 1,000 pieces of literature concerning the various aspects of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Vis- itors to the stall also signed the petition asking UEFA to reverse the decision to allow Israeltohostthe2013under 21’s championship. It was a busy and bustling day!” ● Goal 4 Peace - 28 teams - 1 winner The Al-Durrah Cup - “28 teams from all over Scotland took part in this year’s Friends of Al-Aqsa football tournament at Soccer World, Glasgow. The tournament was named after Muhammad Al-Durrah, a 12 year old Palestinian boy shot dead by the Israeli army in 2000. From Syrians to Somalis, and Algerians to Pakistanis; they were all there flying the flag of Palestine. The winners of this year’s trophy, Glasvegas, were present- ed with a glass model of the Dome of the Rock given to their proud captain Shujahat Munir. Friends of Al-Aqsa Glasgow will be sending photos of the event to the Al-Durrah family as an act of solidarity and to remind them that their loss is not forgotten.” Lending a Hand “As part of our commu- nity outreach programme, Friends of Al-Aqsa Glasgow supported the Positive Ac- tion In Housing Scheme, a local charity, by collecting and donating food, clothing and blankets to distribute to the homeless and destitute. We also collaborated with Al-Khair in a local com- munity project to ‘Feed the Homeless’. During Christmas week the ladies volunteered to cook and pack hot meals whilst the men delivered and distributed them at an established soup kitchen for the homeless in Glasgow city centre.” Diamonds “During November, the Glasgow girls held a hugely success- ful fundraising event called ‘Diamonds’. It was an evening of fashion, fine food, and light entertainment, providing an op- portunity for the women to let their hair down, while stay- ing focused on the important issue of Palestine. We raised over £2,500! Thanks you to everyone for their support.” FOA hosted an event in honor of lifelong peace activist Tony Benn in January 2012. While the boys were play- ing, the girls were working hard to raise funds and lend a hand to the needy.
  9. 9. UPDATE FROM FRIENDS OF AL AQSA ISSUE 48 / JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | AQSA NEWS 09 Join today! For just £10 a year, support the Free Palestine campaign. Send an email to and we will send you a direct debit form to set up your membership. Donate You can make one-off donations: 1. Online - through Paypal to (via our web-site) 2. By cheque, made payable to ‘Friends of Al-Aqsa’, to PO BOX 5127, Leicester, LE2 0DT 3. By direct bank transfer: Friends of Al-Aqsa, Sort Code 08-92-99, Account No. 65158078, The Cooperative Bank, Southway, WN8 6VT FOAONLINESHOP VISITTHE CLICK‘SHOP’ £7.50 Made in Palestine Kufiyeh Available in Black and white, khakhi, blue, grey and in Palestine colours The Hirbawi factory, located in Hebron (Al-Khalil) is the only kufiyeh factory in Palestine. The Kufiyeh Project aims to ensure that Palestine’s only kufiyeh factory stays in business (and hopefully help it grow), by regularly buying from them in bulk and distributing worldwide. WALSALL ● GOAL!!! “We have spent years build- ing up our football team Aqsa United, which was of- ficially launched in March 2011. Finally, we are unveil- ingournewEmblemandan- nouncingapartnershipwith Palestine Sports for Life! With interest from sponsors and players increasing, we are quickly becoming well established. We are training once a week and play regular 5/7/8 a side games. We aim to break into full 11 a side football in September 2012.” ● About Aqsa United Aims to provide organised football for both boys and girls from the ages of 6 to 15, and 16+ in a safe and healthy environment. This will ena- ble us to develop football athletes to a semi professional level while also educating, inspiring and creating a sense of well being through football for young or old alike. Aqsa United are currently recruiting in management and coaching. For further details, search ‘Aqsa United FC’ on Facebook. AQS A UNITE D FC E S T. 2 0 11 ● New Partnership - Palestine Sports for Life (PS4L) PS4L is a Palestine based organisation established in 2010 by a group of athletes on a mission to support the develop- ment of Palestinian sports at all levels. Tamara Awartani Masri (General Director) “We provide a range of services to support our mission including facilitating or conducting education, training programs and sports schools, community sports programs, supporting elite athlete development and other research and activities. We hope that the partnership with Aqsa United will allow us to build exchange programs for the coaches and young athletes, where they get to experience a foreign culture firsthand, make new international friends and keep in touch, sharing their thoughts on the game they love. In the short two years since PS4L began, we have faced sev- eral obstacles but this has just made us stronger and more resolute. Our major achievements include partnering with Rise Global organization in Australia who give us strategic technical advice. We also became members in the interna- tional camping fellowship. We also help facilitate basketball coaches’ clinics in Palestine and have taken 28 coaches rep- resenting 13 clubs to the international basketball clinic run by Ganon Baker in Amman, Jordan. Other work within schools and the community is tak- ing place, however, the lack of adequate facilities are constraining us. Despite the difficulties, we look forward to having our new friends from Aqsa United here. Virtues of Jerusalem Palestine Beginner’s Guide Al-Isra’wa Al-Mi’raj The Night Journey Ismail Adam Patel £5.95 Ismail Adam Patel £9.95 Ismail Adam Patel £7.95 ‘,click‘Shop’
  10. 10. SPECIAL FEATURE 10 AQSA NEWS | ISSUE 48 / JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 Dispossessing Jerusalem Jerusalem is the heart of Palestine. It is a city that is holy to the three mono- theistic faiths and houses Muslim, Christian and Jew- ish cultural and religious heritage. During the 1948 war, Jerusalem was split into two, with West Jeru- salem falling within the borders of Israel, and East Jerusalem falling within the West Bank. After the 1967 war during which the West Bank was occupied, Israel illegally attempted to annex East Jerusalem. The United Nations Security Council passed a ResolutiondeclaringIsrael’s move to be “a violation of international law” and re- quested all member states to withdraw all remaining embassies from the city. Over the past 44 years, Israel has taken a number of bold steps to fortify their at- tempted illegal annexation of East Jerusalem. This has included building a large ring of illegal settlements around the east of the city, cutting it off from the West Bank. In 2002, they began constructing the Separation Wall around the belt of set- tlements,furtherostracising the city from the rest of the Palestinian territories. The establishment of these irre- versible facts on the ground are seen by many as delib- erate moves to devastate any Palestinian claim over a city that they have lived in for centuries. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg recently called the settlements deliberate vandalism. Facts By Firdous Patel The Palestinian population within Jerusalem has reduced drastically since 1948. Israel’s current policies have seen an increase in the number of illegal settlers invading Palestinian homes in Arab neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem. The result has been misery for Palestinian families forced out of their homes or confined to a few rooms within it. The Old City of Jerusalem. The Dome of the Rock is to the right, and the Mount of Olives in the background. Palestinian heritage within Jerusalem is con- tinually being threatened. The Mamilla cemetery is one example of how cen- turies of history are being swept away by Israeli bull- dozers to further plans for building a Museum. The Mamilla cemetery has been a Muslim burial ground since the 7th cen- tury, when companions of the Prophet Muham- mad (peace be upon him) were reputedly buried there. In later times, dur- ing the 12th century, the remains of soldiers and officials of Salah’addin were also buried there. Since then, generations of Jerusalem families have buried their dead in this cemetery. The cemetery grounds also contain numerous monuments, structures, and gravestones attest- ing its history, including the ancient Mamilla Pool, which dates back to the Herodian period, or the 1st century B.C. Since 1860, the cemetery has been clearly demarcated by stone walls and a road surrounding its 33 acres of land. The antiquity of the cemetery was confirmed by the Chief Excavator assigned to excavate the Museum site by the Is- raeli Antiquities Authority (IAA), who estimated that some of the remains date back to the 11th century. Despitethesefacts,over several decades, Israel has progressively encroached upon the cemetery with the construction of roads, buildings, parking lots and parks. Israel has ignored the repeated protests from many quarters, including Israelis themselves, and international bodies such as UNESCO. The plans to build a ‘Museum of Toler- ance’ on the cemetery have angered many. As a result of the construction, hun- dreds of graves have been desecrated with reports that the remains were treated with great disre- spect, some being dumped within card board boxes. This has shocked both Pal- estinian and Israelis alike. Despite protests and legal actions, the plans for building the Museum are going ahead. Despite having an area of only 0.9 square kilometres, Jerusalem’s Old City is home to key religious sites including the al-Aqsa Haram, the Wailing Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. During its long history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. The oldest part of the city was settled in the 4th millennium BCE, making Jerusalem one of the oldest cities in the world. The old walled city is a World Heritage site, has been traditionally divided into four quarters, although the names used today - the Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Quarters, were introduced in the early 19th century. Due to Israeli excavations, the Old City was nominated for inclusion on the List of World Heritage sites in Danger by Jordan in 1982. The Old City Today, Palestinians in East Jerusalem are plagued with restrictions. These include the impossibility of legally building a home as building permits are rarely granted to Palestinians. The Separation Wall has severed Palestinian neighbourhoods and villages from each other and from the main city. ID cards are routinely con- fiscated preventing travel. Familyunificationisblocked for Palestinians with family outside Jerusalem as travel between the Occupied Ter- ritories and Jerusalem is heavily restricted, and mi- gration to Jerusalem from the West Bank or Gaza Strip is impossible. Further to these restric- tions, Palestinians also face escalating settler aggression against which they are virtu- ally powerless, house demo- litions, poverty, contemptu- ousandviolenttreatmentby the border police, archaeo- logical digging in disputed areas and an abysmal lack of municipal services (de- spite the payment of taxes). Despite Israel’s attempts to annex the city and extend its municipal control over it, it is clear that Palestinians do not have the same rights as Israeli Jews. East Jerusalem under Occupation The Mamilla cemetery
  11. 11. SPECIAL FEATURE ISSUE 48 / JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | AQSA NEWS 11 There are now some 50,000 Palestinians with Jerusalem residency who find themselves on the wrong side of the Wall. Reports of Palestinian families being forced out of their homes by illegal Israeli settlers have increased rapidly in the past few years. In 2009, United Nations’ Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called Israeli actions ‘provocative’ in response to the eviction of yet another Palestinian family. He further noted that “These actions stoke tensions, cause suffering and further undermine trust.” Settlers use the pretext of the houses being built illegally to act above the law. Where property rights are being disputed through the courts, Settlers are increasingly harassing the Palestinian families living within the homes. Palestinians on the other hand point out that no home can ever be built legally by them in Jerusalem where the authorities refuse to grant planning permission. In December 2009, the Al-Kurd family home was invaded by illegal Israeli settlers protected by armed guards. The family was evicted and the settlers took over. They reportedly destroyed the family’s possessions and freely moved in and out of the property while the family was held back from re-entering. Sadly, this is just one example of a Palestinian family who’s lives are shattered by the actions of Illegal Israeli settlers. Settlers occupy Al-Kurd family home During Christmas, many Christians would have con- sidered travelling to Bethle- hem on a spiritual journey. Those who were able to make the trip would have found Bethlehem isolated and alone, unable to reach out and touch its spiritual and historic neighbour – Je- rusalem. Bethlehem is the heart of Christian Palestine and every Christmas Manger Square is transformed into a grotto of lights crowned by a towering Christmas tree. The celebratory atmos- phere stops abruptly just a few minutes’ drive to the north. Here, a strip of illegal settlements cover what was once northern Bethlehem. A narrow corridor of land between Har Homa and another settlement, Gilo, still connects Bethlehem to Jerusalem. However, the construction of Givat Hamatos, a new settlement announced in October, will fill this in a matter of years. As a result, Bethlehem will finally be severed from Je- rusalem altogether. Jerusalem and Bethlehem - unravelling the ties that bind Jerusalem is in danger of being robbed from Palestinians irreversibly. Each year, deliberate Israeli policies ensure that the number of Palestinians in the city is gradually reducing. During a recent trip to Palestine, peace activist Ghazala visited the Al Kurd Family in Jerusalem. This is what she had to say: The Al Kurd family home is in the East Jerusalem Neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, which has become notorious with settler activity. As we got closer to Sheikh Jarrah, we saw Israeli flags on rooftops. The watchtowers and CCTV cameras amongst the houses became more visible, an indication that the Israeli setters are constantly being protected while a close watch is kept on Palestinians. The Al Kurd home has been partly occupied by Israeli settlers since 2009. At the time this caught the attention of many international activists who held daily non-violent protests outside the house in support of the Al Kurd family. A few of these activists were beaten and arrested by Israeli police. Since then, many internationals still visit the Al Kurd family. The settlers live in the front part of the house while the Palestinian family is confined to the back. Nabil Al Kurd greeted us outside his house, while a couple of settler youths sat in the front garden smoking, drinking and mocking us. These particular settlers are used to visits from internationals however they did not suppress their aggressive nature, in fact the “settler” stereotype was reinforced when they started shouting at us, telling us to leave and threatened to call the police. Nabil was not deterred by this and continued his story, showing us photos from the takeover. Eventually the settler youths got tired of us and left us, throwing their empty beer cans on the pavement as they walked off. The family and their belongings were literally thrown out of their home when the settlers moved in, with the help of the Israeli armed guards. For the Al Kurd family, living alongside the settlers is clearly psychological torture. Apart from seeing strangers living in their home, they have to deal with constant harassment, verbal abuse, settler rubbish, smoking, and drinking and loud music. It is clear that the settlers’ main objective is to drive Palestinians out of their homes. However the Al Kurd family, like all Palestinian families, has hope and continues to welcome visitors. The Al-Kurd family
  12. 12. FUN AND GAMES 12 AQSA NEWS | ISSUE 48 / JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 COMPETITION WIN!£20ARGOSVOUCHER! Sendyourentrieswithyourname,ageandaddressto:FriendsofAlAqsa,P.OBox 5127,Leicester,LE20WU.Deadline:30thMarch2012.Anyoneaged17andundercan enterthiscompetition.GoodLuck! Sunday 6th May 2012 TOHELPRAISEFUNDSFORFRIENDSOFAL-AQSA Peak District - Derbyshire 15km walk - about 4 hours to complete 8km walk - about 2 hours to complete Sponsored Walk REGISTER TODAY Sunday 6th May 2012 SPONSORED WALK 2012 • SUNDAY 6TH MAY • PEAK DISTRICT - DERBYSHIRE • REGISTER TODAY • WWW.FOA.ORG.UK/WALK REGISTER TODAY Only registered participants may take part in the Sponsored Walk. Register as early as possible, All participants must register by Friday 20th April 2012. All sponsorship money must be sent to Friends of Al-Aqsa no later than Wednesday 2nd May 2012. All money raised will go to Friends of Al-Aqsa, in order to help us continue with our campaigns. Full instructions can be found on our website:
  13. 13. BOOK REVIEW ISSUE 48 / JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | AQSA NEWS 13 ► Prophet Ibrahim (AS) I’ve learnt so much about Prophet Ibrahim (A.S) from this story…did you know he was also called Father of the Prophets (A.S.) because all the later Prophets came from Ibrahim’s (A.S.) family? I have learnt that Allah(S.W.T) is the most powerful; even when Prophet Ibrahim (A.S) was thrown into a fire, Allah protected him by making the fire cool. ► Prophet Sulayman (A.S) Wow! Once I’d started reading this book, I couldn’t put it down because it was so exciting. There are so many amazing things I learnt about Prophet Sulayman’s (A.S) kingdom, but my favourite was his flying carpet. Allah (S.W.T) allowed Sulayman (A.S) to fly at incredible speeds all over Palestine on a flying carpet. That’s super cool! ► Prophet Isa (A.S) This story is so interesting because there are so many fascinating miracles that took place during Prophet Isa’s (A.S) time. My favourite miracle was when I read that Prophet Isa (A.S) could talk as a baby and explained to the people that he had been sent as a Prophet of Allah (S.W.T). ► Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) I found learning about the Night Journey to Jerusalem amazing, During the Night Journey the Prophet (S.A.W) travelled at high speeds on a special animal called Al-Buraq from Makkah to Masjid al-Aqsa , where he led all the previous prophets in prayer. Allah (S.W.T) then took Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) up to the heavens, where he was given the gift of Salah. This was definitely my favourite part of the story! ► Prophet Dawud (A.S) Prophet Dawud (A.S) was gifted with a melodious voice by Allah (S.W.T). When Dawud (A.S) would recite the Zabur people, animals, birds and even mountains would gather to praise Allah (S.W.T). My favourite part was when Dawud (A.S) used a slingshot to kill Jalut, the leader of Philistine army, even though Jalut was much taller and older than him. ► Prophet Musa (A.S) I have learnt how important it is to make dua to Allah (S.W.T) when we need His help. Musa (A.S) was tested many times by Allah (S.W.T) as he called people to Islam. Throughout his tests, Prophet Musa (A.S) prayed to Allah (S.W.T) and was strengthened by Allah (S.W.T). There are so many interesting miracles I learnt about too. My favourite was when Musa (A.S) struck the Red sea with his staff, and Allah (S.W.T) commanded the sea to part so Musa (A.S) and the Banu Israel could walk through and escape the Pharaoh. Isn’t that amazing! ► Prophet Yusuf (A.S) After I read the story of Yusuf (A.S) I’m trying my hardest to be patient like him. Even when Prophet Yusuf (A.S) was sold as a slave and was separated from his father, he still trusted Allah (S.W.T) and had patience. The part I enjoyed most was reading about how when Prophet Yusuf’s shirt was placed over his father’s face, his father was able to see again. I thought that was amazing! Interesting and enjoyable to read, this series of books helps to inspire young children and increase their understanding of the importance of Palestine in relation to the Prophets (A.S). Captivating illustrations and easy to read text helps little readers to understand the stories. Don’t let your children miss out on these amazing stories! Here’s what our little reader’s had to say about the books….
  14. 14. RECIPES 14 AQSA NEWS | ISSUE 48 / JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 Kunafa | try this delicious Palestinian recipe ► THIS IS AN EASY RECIPE to prepare kunafa desserts. Kunafa originated in the Palestinian city of Nablus then spread to Arab and middle eastern countries. Kunafa is a traditional Middle Eastern desert made from white melted cheese and shreded wheat. It is delicious and light! INGREDIENTS Kataifi (can be found in most middle eastern grocery stores) - 1 full package or fine vermicelli Butter - 200g melted FOR SYRUP Sugar - 1 and 1/2 cup Water- 1 cup Juice of 1/2 lemon Orange blossom or rosewa- ter - 1 tsp Blanched whole almonds & pista - 1/4 cup Walnuts, coarsely chopped - 5 tbs Granulated sugar - 2 and 1/2 tbsp Cinnamon powder - 1/4 tsp Soft ricotta cheese - 800 g Butter, for greasing PREPARATION ● Prepare sugar syrup with 1 cup of water and 1 1/2 cup of sugar along with lemon juice. Bring to boil, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until it forms a syrupy consistency. ● Remove from heat and allow to cool. Add rosewater, and keep aside. ● Pre -heat the oven to 180 degree centigrade. ● In a large bowl gently loosen the kataifi dough (or fine vermicelli) and mix well with the butter. ● Grease the baking pan with butter and place half the dough at the bottom pressing down evenly. ● Spread bits of ricotta cheese all over, then cover with the remaining kataifi dough, pressing gently. ● Sprinkle fine pieces of walnuts, almond, and pista all over. Sprinkle cinnamon powder and granulated sugar. Place another thin layer of remaining kataifi on top and press well. ● Bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, untill the surface is golden brown. ● Remove from oven and pour sugar syrup all over the hot kunafa. Allow it to cool completely. ● Turn the Kunafa over on to a serving plate. Decorate with remaining nuts. ● Serve Kunafa warm for a better texture. ITIKAF IN MASJID AL-AQSA DURING THE LAST 10 DAYS OF RAMADHAN 2 Nights in Jordan 14 Nights in Masjid Aqsa (10 nights Nafil Itikaf) Luggage will be left in hotels during the Itikaf period – 10 to a room Bring your own sleeping bags and necessities Including Ziyarat (Jordan & Al-Aqsa) Suhur & Iftar is provided from Masjid Aqsa during the Itikaf Visa Fees inc Transportation within Jordan and Jerusalem Price is aprox £550 - £600 flights included from London to Amman For more details please contact Br Ilyas on 07735627544
  15. 15. ISSUE 48 / JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | AQSA NEWS 15 “We had no idea of what was going on. We just knew that something really bad had happened, and that we were not safe walking on the streets with the lack of safety procedures and shelters.” Rafat Abushaban Rafat was a student sitting a university exam when the first bombs were dropped by Israel on 27 De- cember 2008. At first, the students continued with their papers, as hearing ex- plosions from Israeli bombs being dropped is nothing unusual in Gaza. After the third loud boom, however, they were all running for cover. Within hours, the bomb- ing of Gaza was on the news all over the world. 40 people were killed in the first air- strikes and hundreds more followed, until the eventual death toll exceeded 1,400. The people of Gaza lived through three weeks of hell and utter despair. At the sametime,Israelipoliticians such as Tzipi Livni were tell- ing the world that there was no humanitarian catastro- phe in Gaza – a statement that can only be made if one views the people of Gaza as less than human. During the bombings, Gazans rallied together, sharing their rations of bread and fuel, rushing the injured to hospital, and above all, equally experienc- ing the constant fear of what is to come. Three-years on, it is clear that the painful memories of those 3 weeks are still very much alive in the young and old of Gaza. Gaza living with painful memories three years on
  16. 16. 16 AQSA NEWS | ISSUE 48 / JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 In History... JANUARY Stockists of Islamic wear for all ages A large selection of books, multimedia and kitaabs We also have perfumes, children’s toys and gift ideas for special occasions ASH-SHIFA | LOCAL AND ONLINE ISLAMIC STORE 263 ST SAVIOURS ROAD, LEICESTER • • 0116 210 4146 NEW ARRIVALS CHECK ONLINE NOW FREE DELIVERY ANYWHERE IN U.K GO ONLINE OR VISIT THE STORE 21st January 2009 Isreal withdraws from Gaza and ends Operation Cast Lead. During the 22 day attack, Israel killed 1,417 Palestininians. The loss of Israeli life stood at 13, 4 of which were from friendly fire. January 2006 Hamas wins a landslide election victory in the Palestine Legistlative Elections. February 1920 Over one thousand protesters take part in a demonstration in Jerusalem- protesting against the actions of Zionist migrants from Europe. 25th February 1994 An Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein opens fire on unarmed Palestinian worshippers at Ibrahim Mosque in Hebron. 29 worshippers were killed and 125 were wounded. FEBRUARY THIS ISAPAR Help the world understand Israeli Apartheid Calling on all activists, artists, photographers to submit a piece of work on the theme “This is Apartheid” for an art exhibition to be held during Israeli Apartheid week in Glasgow (20-24 feb 2012) Art exhibition is in collaberation with Glasgow University Palestinian Society and Caledonian University Palestinian Society and will be held at the Glasgow School of Art, Dalhousie Street (off Sauchihall Street) If interested please e-mail: regarding submission of work Deadline for submission 13/2/12 THEID Extreme right-wing settler appointed Supreme Court Judge Israel’s lurch to the extreme right was con- solidated once more in January when an extremist settler living illegally in the West Bank was appointed a Supreme Court judge. The perverse reality is that Judge Noam Sohlberg will be expected to preside over cases in the highest court in Israel, ruling on the law, while each day he breaks international law by cross- ing over to the West Bank to live in a settlement built on stolen Palestinian land. Judge Sohlberg is the first Israeli settler to be appointed to the Supreme Court, despite the obvious conflict of interest he has. It has been pointed out by nu- merous commentators that he has a personal interest in legitimising Israel’s illegal settlement activity, which is likely to impact on his deci- sions. Egypt’s new leadership sets Palestine priority Egypt’s new political leaders, the Freedom and Justice Party, won over 46 per cent of the seats in the next parliament. In a marked move away from Egypt’s old corrupt leader- ship, they have confirmed that they will fully support the Palestinian cause and the restoration of Palestin- ian rights. They also wish to mediate the end of the divi- sions between Palestinians which have emerged over the past 30 years.
  17. 17. TRAVEL TO PALESTINE ISSUE 48 / JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | AQSA NEWS 17 Travelling in solidarity, returning with humility Witnessing the Struggle of Palestinian Farmers As a result of the occupation, Palestinian farmers are met with difficulties and unnecessary obstacles everyday when it comes to claiming ownership of their land, accessing their land and harvesting their crop. Having taken part in the Olive Picking Program I was able to witness first hand, the difficulties faced by olive farmers in the West Bank. Day 1 Village of Jab’a in central West Bank. The field is located near an Israeli checkpoint. The farmer explained that he has lost some of his land due to the construction of the highway that cuts through his field dividing the land into two. He also mentioned that he has not been able to irrigate his field due to the water restrictions imposed on Palestinian farmers by the Israeli authorities. Day 2 Al Makhroor close to the village of Beit Jala. The field is on a beautiful hillside and is absolutely breathtak- ing, until the construction of the Apartheid wall is seen nearby. Seeing the wall approaching the farmer’s land is a dreadful feeling. The farmer told us his concerns about the construction of the wall, and how it will prevent him from accessing his land. Once completed, the wall will cut into the field meaning the farmer will lose part of his land. Day 3 Nahalin. The farmer’s land is located right below the new settlement of Beitar Illit, constructed on the Pal- estinian side of the 1967 Green Line. The area bordering the farmer’s land and the settlement is laced with Israeli watchtowers and barbed wire, reinforcing the feeling that we are being watched and the farmer is constantly under surveillance. Heaps of rubbish are scattered along this border as the Israeli settlers have a tendency to dump their rubbish on the farmer’s land. By Ghazala Jerusalem While in Jerusalem we were able to observe settler activ- ity. In the Old City, the Muslim Quarter has become a target for Israeli settlers. As we walked through the Damascus gate into the Muslim Quarter, we noticed the Israeli flags on rooftops. We were informed that these were Palestinian homes occupied by Israeli settlers. For the settlers, the flags act as a symbol of victory over the Palestinian families. They also act as an indicator to other settlers to start occupying surrounding homes. Another way in which the settlers emphasize their pres- ence is by parading through the streets of the Old City every so often. While we were there, we witnessed one of these parades. We were stopped in the streets as the police had barricaded them in order to make way for the settlers to pass through. The settlers came past dancing and chanting, escorted by the Israeli army. They definitely wanted their presence in the area known as they sang their patriotic Jew- ish songs loudly for all to hear in the Muslim Quarter. Ever since I started illustrating for Friends of Al-Aqsa I have wanted to visit Palestine. And after years of “thinking about it”, I finally made my trip in October. I joined the 2011 Olive Picking Program, an annual program organized by the Joint Advocacy Initiative and the Alternative Tourism Group of Beit Sahour. The program involves helping Palestinian olive farmers in the West Bank with their olive harvest as well as guided tours and talks. Welcome to Palestine All the Palestinian farmers and families we visited hugely appreciated our show of solidarity. They happily welcomed us onto their land and into their homes. Their families and even extended families were eager to meet us and would often sit with us during our lunch break. It is a humbling feeling to have helped the farmers in the West Bank with their harvest. In the back of my mind I was constantly thinking, “I am working on blessed land”. I feel truly honored, considering the importance and sanctity of olive trees to Palestinians. However it is also heart breaking to think that if we return the farmers we met may have lost their land and the fields we worked on will be under Israeli settlements. Despite the calami- ties that they all face, Palestinians such as the farmers, the Al Kurd family or Hashem; surprisingly show no sign of contempt. Instead they show resilience and patience, which is genuinely inspiring. For me, it was a remarkable and special experience as I was able to see and feel the reality of what I have imagined and created in my drawings. I feel now I have more of a connection with Masjid Al Aqsa and Palestine. Insha’Allah I pray that everyone gets a chance to make their trip to Al Quds. The Palestinians give us hope by be- ing incredibly patient and we give them hope by visiting them, showing solidarity and sharing their stories. Day 4 Al Khader on the road to Hebron. This particular farmer is facing great difficulties. His land is threatened by the expansion of an illegal Israeli settlement. The farmer can prove his ownership of the land, however despite all his legal documents the Israeli authorities have occupied the area, uprooted olive trees from his field and have erected an outpost. There is a family of settlers living in this outpost already who often harass the farmer. In the near future it is likely that more outposts will be erected and will become permanent buildings. Sadly, the farmer will lose most of his land and livelihood. Day 5 Restricted area in Wad Ahmed close to Beit Jala. The farmer lives in a beautiful valley, half an hours walk away from the road that leads to the Jewish settlement of Gilo. Even though the beauty of his surroundings is in- credible, it is understandable that for the farmer it is not a pleasure being trapped inside his land. The Israeli govern- ment’s continuous expansion of Greater Jerusalem means that the farmer’s land is surrounded by settlements on every hilltop nearby and entry to his property is limited. Due to restrictions and checkpoints, the owner of the land is the only Palestinian who can enter the land. As for inter- national visitors, we have the right to move freely in this area therefore we used this opportunity to help the farmer with his olive harvest. It was clear to see that the situation for farmers living in the West Bank is a continuous struggle against the Israeli government.
  18. 18. 18 AQSA NEWS | ISSUE 48 / JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 7 MILLION CHILDREN ARE GOING HUNGRY IN EAST AFRICA There are now nearly 7 million children going hungry in East Africa - Food and water prices have soared. Families are struggling to get even one meal a day. Thousands of children across the region face starvation. Ummah Welfare Trust is on the ground providing water, food and medical aid in Somalia and Kenya. Please help them. KITCHEN UTENSIL SET £50 Donate By Phone 0800 4 0800 11 01274 390 396 Donate Online UWT Head Office: 351 Derby Street, Bolton, BL3 6LR.Tel 01204 383 732 Charity Reg. No. 1000851 Food pack lasts 6 weeks for a family Set of 45 items FOOD PACKAGE £50 Tragic teenager killed by settlers On 28 January 2011 at 6:30am, 17 year old Yousef Ikhlayl went with his father Fakhri to their farmland on the outskirts of the West Bank village Beit Ommar, where they prepared the land around their grapevines. At ap- proximately 7am, two groups of Israelis from the illegal settlements Bat Ayn and Kiryat Arba were tak- ing a “hike” in the privately- owned Palestinian agricul- tural land belonging to the residents of Beit Ommar. There was no indication that the settlers were plan- ning on shooting. Yousef’s father reported that the first shot fired by the settlers hit his son in the head. The set- tlers then began shooting in the air and the surround- ing areas to prevent others from approaching, as his fa- ther screamed desperately for help. Yousef was carried to a car that drove him out of the agricultural valley and to the main road, where an ambulance rushed him to the hospital in Hebron, passing two Israeli military checkpoints on the way. At the hospital, Yousef was put on a respirator, though he had no brain activity. He passed away soon after. At his funeral the fol- lowing day, as is common practice with the Israeli military involving martyr funerals, soldiers number- ing in the hundreds invaded Beit Ommar and attacked the funeral with tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and even live ammunition. The murder of Yousef Ikhlayl, the impunity with which the settlers acted and the military’s behavior at the funeral are common occurrences in the occupied West Bank. The death of a Palestinian, even a child, is rarely noted and quickly for- gotten in much of the world. Thisissadlynotaone-off occurence. The frequency of attacks like these led to an organisation called the Palestine Solidarity Project being set up in 2006 so that international activists can accompany Palestinian farmers on their land and help prevent attacks. On this occasion, sadly, the at- tack was not prevented
  19. 19. ISSUE 48 / JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | AQSA NEWS 19 Hamas members make rare Europe visit On January 14, three members of Hamas at- tended a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Switzerland. They were part of a Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) delegation invited to attend the IPU meeting. The IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parlia- mentarians met in Geneva to discuss parliamentar- ians under threat. They collected information about lawmakers who face death threats, are subjected to harassment, or are unable to carry out their parlia- mentary mandate without hindrance. The delegates from Gaza were invited to clarify the situation of the Palestinian lawmakers who face arrest, interrogation and detention. The Swiss-Israeli As- sociation absurdly called the invitation “an insult to democratic values and human rights that repre- sent the spirit of Geneva.” The IPU President Anders Johnsson on the other hand made the point that “the IPU doesn’t deal with Hamas, but the IPU committee deals with the rights of members of parliament, whoever they are.” At its meeting, the IPU committee on human rights examined 70 cases in 37 countries, including those of 23 Palestinian parliamen- tarians who are held with- out charge in administrative detention in Israeli jails. Settlers uproot 100 olive trees In mid-January in Nab- lus, settlers uprooted over 100 Palestinian olive trees. Other acts of violence at the same time included the smashing of Palestin- ian cars. It is believed that the settler violence was a ‘price tag’ attack following the Israeli army’s removal of four settler trailers from an illegal outpost. Each time the army intervenes to control the settlers, they respond by attacking Pal- estinians in warped acts of revenge. Israel wants compensation for Jewish property in Arab lands dating back to the 7th century Israel is thought to be considering legal claims to compensation for Jewish homes in Arab lands dating back to the 7th century. The Director of Property Man- agement at Israel’s Foreign Ministry is preparing a draft bill which, if passed into law, will see Israel claim compensation for Jewish property in a number of Arab countries. It is be- lieved that the bill will be held back to be used during any negotiations discussing the situation of Palestinian refugees and their right of return. The refugees’ claims to their land and homes mainly date back to the 1948 war, and many have title deeds proving their claim. In an absurd move, Israel seems to believe this internationally recognised claim can be equated with compensation for Jewish properties in Arab lands dating back centuries. The bill is divided into two: the first will demand that Egypt, Mauritania, Mo- rocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Lib- ya, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Leba- non, Jordan and Bahrain pay compensation for the properties of 850,000 Jews, with an estimated value of $300 billion. The figures are based on the 1948 census of Jews from each country. At a second stage, Saudi Arabia will be landed with a compensation bill of more than $100 billion for Jewish properties in the kingdom since the time of Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him). Israel pays compensation to Chinese workers, but refuses Palestinian claims In July 2005, Palestinian and Chinese labourers were hired by Israel to work on dismantling a former set- tlement in Gaza when they were killed. Since then, the families of the dead and in- jured labourers have been seeking compensation in line with the employment contracts. The Israeli au- thorities have since award- ed damages to the Chinese labourers’ families, while refusing to settle the Pales- tinian claims.
  20. 20. AQSA NEWS 20 | ISSUE 48 / JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 VISITOURONLINESTORETODAY WWW.FOA.ORG.UKCLICK‘SHOP’ £7.50 MADEINPALESTINE KUFIYEHS ALSOAVAILABLEIN OTHERCOLOURS The Prophets in Palestine 7 books in the series Turn to page 13 for more info NEW Palestinian women first on the tracks Betty Saadeh is ranked the No. 1 champion in Pal- estine motor racing, and she holds the 8th position in the Top 10 male and female racers. Breaking both the stereotypes of Arab women, and the obstacles of the occupation, Betty is one of the members of the first all- women motor racing team in the Middle East. The mother of two lives inRamallah,andwasrecent- ly in Britain with her team mate Noor Daoud training at Silverstone with former British champion Helen El- stropo. Noor herself won a formula-three competition in Israel recently. It was a record as she was the first Palestinian to participate in and win an Israeli car race. Noor was only allowed to participate in the com- petition as she holds an East Jerusalem ID card. Her teammates were excluded from taking part. Noor now lives in Ramallah and com- mented ‘’When I used to live in Jerusalem - before I went to the States (to study) - I was in a very bad situation in my neighbourhood, Beit Hanina. I was surrounded by checkpoints, I felt really trapped. So I went away and moved around, and when I came back here to Ramal- lah, even though we are still surrounded by checkpoints, driving makes me feel free.” Palestine is a full mem- ber of the Federation Inter- nationale de l’Automobile. This means that whenever a Palestinian wins a race, the Palestine flag is raised on the podium. This means a great deal to the racers and Khaled Qaddoura, president of the Palestinian Motor Sport and Motorcycle Fed- eration, states “‘When any Palestinian is successful on the world stage, it helps our main cause - a fully recog- nised Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital, on 1967 borders.” NUS backs boycott The National Union of Students (NUS) is backing the boycott of transport company Veolia and water supplier Eden Springs. It has urged UK universities to end their relationships with these companies which are both seen as complicit in the occupation of Palestinian land, profiting from illegal Israeli settlements. Veolia is a partner in the Jerusalem Light Rail Service project which will link the il- legal settlements with Jeru- salem, effectively entrench- ing the occupation and annexation of these lands and increasing the settler presence in Jerusalem. This will be to the detriment of the Palestinians living there who already face settler vio- lence. Boycott pressure re- sulted in Veolia selling its interests in the JLR to the Israeli company Egged in October 2011, however, it still provides technical assistance in the service’s operation and bus services in the settlements. Eden Springs is a water company that sources water from Katzrin, an illegal Is- raeli settlement in the Golan Heights. Only Israel benefits from the sale of this water.