Maan News Agency – Informed Comment Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion Mon, 20 May 2019 15:18:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Madonna, Iceland’s Hatari, Display Palestinian Flags at Eurovision in Israel Mon, 20 May 2019 04:08:39 +0000 TEL AVIV (Ma’an) — Hatari, Iceland’s heavy metal Eurovision act, drew boos from the audience when the band held up banners featuring the Palestinian flag live on air during public voting at the song contest in Tel Aviv City, in southern Israel, on Saturday.

The band, who landed tenth place in the Eurovision song contest, have said they are against Israel hosting the contest and described it as “whitewash,” which has been the subject of boycott calls by pro-Palestinian groups.

While the public vote was being announced, members of Hatari held up the banners, reading Palestine, as cameras turned to them.

In addition, Einar Stef, one of the band’s members, posted a video on his personal Instagram profile, showing staff confiscating one of the banners and demanding the rest of them to be handed over.

Despite Hatari’s pro-Palestinian protest during the song contest, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), which called for a “total boycott,” dismissed it and said in a statement, “Artists who insist on crossing the Palestinian boycott picket line, playing in Tel Aviv in defiance of our calls, cannot offset the harm they do to our human rights struggle by ‘balancing’ their complicit act with some project with Palestinians. Palestinian civil society overwhelmingly rejects this fig-leafing. The most meaningful expression of solidarity is to cancel performances in apartheid Israel.”

Although Madonna performing at the Eurovision stirred up controversy, she surprised many when two of her backup dancers, briefly appeared on stage wearing the Israeli and Palestinian flags on the back of their costumes and walked off stage arm-in-arm during her new song “Future.”

Prior to taking the stage, the 60-year-old said, “Let’s never underestimate the power of music to bring people together.”

Following the pop star’s performance, the European Broadcasting Union, which co-produced the contest alongside Israel’s national broadcaster, issued a statement saying, “This element of the performance was not cleared with the EBU and the Host Broadcaster, KAN,” adding “The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political event and Madonna had been made aware of this.”

Ultimately, 25-year-old Dutch singer-songwriter, Duncan Laurence, beat 25 other Eurovision contestants, by winning 492 points with his song “Arcade.” His victory has given the Netherlands the right to host the 2020 finals after 44 years. Italy came second, with 465 points, and Russia third, with 369 points.

In April, some 171 Swedish artists and celebrities have signed an open letter urging to boycott the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest and stressed that “as long as Israel, with its apartheid policy, denies the Palestinians their basic human rights, we must renounce all participation in Israeli cultural exchanges.”

Meanwhile, dozens of LGBT groups signed a statement, in which they accused Israel of using the song contest as distracting “attention from its war crimes against Palestinians” and “forwarding its pinkwashing agenda, the cynical use of gay rights to distract from and normalize Israel’s occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid.”

In September 2018, over 140 artists from around the world, including six Israeli artists, signed a letter calling for the boycott of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest and demanding the song contest should be boycotted if it is “hosted by Israel while it continues its grave, decades-old violations of Palestinian human rights.”

Performing in Israel still remains highly politicized, with many criticizing that Israel’s military action towards the Palestinians is more than enough to justify a cultural boycott.

Via Ma’an News Agency


Bonus video added by Informed Comment:

Madonna “Future” controversy at Eurovision uses flags of Palestine and Israel, event is pronounced

That Time a Fox News Contributor Called for the Destruction of Palestine Fri, 17 May 2019 04:07:18 +0000 Fox News contributor calls for destruction of Palestine

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — An American author and Fox News contributor called for Palestine to be “flattened” on Twitter after Israeli warplanes carried out over 300 airstrikes across the Gaza Strip, claiming the lives of 27 Palestinians, including an infant and a toddler at the beginning of May. Last week, Janie Johnson, posted a tweet on her personal Twitter account, in which she advocated for the complete destruction of Palestine and genocide of its people, suggesting no one “would miss it.”

Johnson’s tweet that has since been deleted, read, “Can we flatten Palestine already? Who would miss it?”The story continues below…Johnson was responding to a tweet by an Israeli journalist, who was describing how “fearful” the situation was during the escalation between Israel and the Palestinian factions in Gaza.

Although Johnson removed the tweet, social media users condemned her genocidal rhetoric, with many mentioning they reported it on Twitter.One social media user posted, “What type of person do you have to be to straight up advocate for genocide?,” while another wrote,

“Fox News contributor deleted this tweet calling for literal genocide.”Another user responded, “Ms. Johnson, with her 208K followers, calls for genocide against the defenseless Palestinians. It is deeply disappointing how well hate and racism sells in America.”

Fox News has not yet commented on the matter.Johnson’s tweet came after Israeli warplanes carried out 340 airstrikes across the besieged Gaza Strip, killing a total of 27 Palestinians, including a four-month-old infant, 14-month-old toddler, and two pregnant mothers, and at least 154 others were injured, while the Hamas movement launched over 600 rockets into southern Israel.

Via Ma’an News Agency

In attack on Free Speech, Trump Admin. Bars Entry to Palestinian Activist Hanan Ashrawi Wed, 15 May 2019 05:29:03 +0000 US rejects PLO Ashrawi’s visa request, no reason given

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Member, announced on Monday evening, that her United States visa application has been rejected.

Ashrawi posted a series of tweets, providing a list of reasons for her visa’s refusal, “It is official! My US visa application has been rejected. No reason given.”

Ashrawi wrote, “Choose any of the following: I’m over 70 and a grandmother; I’ve been an activist for Palestine since the late 1960’s; I’ve always been an ardent supporter of nonviolent resistance.”

According to Hebrew-language news outlets, a US State Department spokesperson responded to the announcement by stating, “Visa records are confidential under US law; therefore, we cannot discuss the details of individual visa cases.”

In Ashrawi’s tweets, she lays out her diplomatic and educational credentials, “I’ve met (and even negotiated with) every Sec. of State since Shultz, and every President since George H. W. Bush; I’ve been a vocal critic of this administration and its underlings; I believe in freedom of speech.”

She continued, “Most of all, I have no tolerance for the Israeli occupation in all its manifestations as a most pervasive form of oppression, dispossession and denial.”

“I have no respect for the enablers of this inhuman condition nor for its apologists,” she added.

She expresses her “sense of love and protectiveness for the people of Palestine wherever they may be.”

In Ashrawi’s last tweet, she declares herself “guilty of all of the above” and therefore undeserving of entering the US in the eyes of the Trump administration.

She concluded, “I just hope someone can explain this to my grandchildren and all the rest of my family there.”

Via Ma’an News Agency

On 71st Anniversary of Great Expulsion, Palestinians have Grown to 13.1 Million Tue, 14 May 2019 04:04:31 +0000 BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Despite the displacement of more than 800,000 Palestinians following the 1948 Nakba or “catastrophe” and the displacement of more than 200,000 Palestinians after the 1967 war, the Palestinian world population totaled 13.1 million by the end of 2018, which means that the number of Palestinians in the world has doubled more than nine times since the events of the 1948 Nakba, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) said on Monday.

Marking the 71st Nakba anniversary, which coincides on May 15th, PCBS said more than half of the Palestinian population live in historic Palestine by the end of 2018 where their number reached 6.48 million, 1.57 million of them live in the territories occupied in 1948 currently called Israel, 2.95 million in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, and around 1.96 million in the Gaza Strip.

The data showed that 49% of the Palestinian population lives in historic Palestine where Jews constitute 51% at the end of 2018.

On May 15th, the 1948 Nakba or “catastrophe” will be commemorated for the 71st year, re-focusing the world’s attention on the 750,000 Palestinians displaced during and after the establishment of the state of Israel, and the more than five million Palestinians who remain refugees as they wait to return to their lands in Israel.

Records of the United Nations Relief and Work Agency in the Near East (UNRWA) reported on January 1st 2018 that the total number of Palestinian refugees was 6.02 million, 28.4% of whom live in 58 camps (10 in Jordan, nine in Syria, 12 in Lebanon, 19 in the West Bank and eight in Gaza).


Bonus video added by Informed Comment:

France 24 English: “What does “Nakba” symbolize for Palestinians?”

Israel Demolished 41 Palestinian-Owned Structures in Two Weeks Mon, 13 May 2019 06:26:40 +0000 JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that in the past two weeks alone, Israeli forces demolished 41 Palestinian-owned structures in occupied East Jerusalem and Area C of the occupied West Bank, displacing 38 Palestinians and affecting 121 others.OCHA said in its biweekly Protection of Civilians Report that the demolitions took place under the pretext that it was built without the nearly-impossible to obtain Israeli permit.

Out of these demolitions, 37 were in East Jerusalem and four in Area C. On April 29th, Israeli authorities demolished 31 structures in multiple neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, marking the highest number of structures demolished in a single day in East Jerusalem, since OCHA began systematically monitoring demolitions in 2009.

It is noteworthy that during the demolition process, Israeli forces physically attacked Palestinian families, including women and children, with rubber-coated steel bullets, tear-gas bombs, and pepper-spray.The report continued that on April 25th, Israeli authorities blew up a family home in az-Zawiya village, in the northern West Bank district of Salfit, on punitive grounds, displacing a family of seven, including five children.The home belonged to the family of a 19-year-old Palestinian who was suspected of killing an Israeli soldier and an Israeli settler, and injuring another soldier, near the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel in March.

Omar Abu Leila was subsequently shot and killed by Israeli forces in Abwein village, north of the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah,The report added that this was the fifth such demolition since the beginning of 2019, compared to six in 2018, and nine in 2017.Regarding Israeli settlers’ violence, OCHA reported thirteen attacks were carried out by settlers during the same period, resulting in injuring three Palestinians and causing material damage to Palestinian property across the West Bank.

Since the beginning of 2019, the bi-weekly average of Israeli settler attacks resulting in Palestinian casualties or property damage has witnessed a 40% and 133% increase, compared to the biweekly average of 2018 and 2017.

Via Ma’an News Service

Palestinians: US is Imposing a Surrender Plan on us, not a Peace Deal Sat, 11 May 2019 04:08:01 +0000 WASHINGTON (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki called the US-proposed peace plan a Palestinian surrender, as the US Special Envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, lashed out at the United Nation’s “anti-Israel bias” while urging support for the Trump administration’s “vision,” on Thursday.

Greenblatt said it was “surprising and unfair” that Indonesia, Kuwait, and South Africa organized the council meeting and condemned Israel’s behavior when it “was not even invited to speak at this session.”

He added that it was “inspiring” to see Israel celebrate the 71st anniversary of its independence, calling it “a small brave country” that grew to a “thriving, diverse economically vibrant democracy.”

He called the council’s “obsessive” focus on Israeli settlements a “farce,” saying illegal Israeli settlements are not keeping Israelis and the Palestinians from negotiating peace.

The envoy also accused the UN of bias against Israel, choosing “the comfort of 700 paper resolutions” condemning Israel instead of confronting the “700 rockets” fired by Palestinian militants.

Greenblatt continued by emphasizing that the council should focus on Palestinians paying the stipends of families of killed Palestinians and Palestinian prisoners, rather than on how the US could support the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) budget.

Greenblatt noted, “The Trump administration has drastically cut its support for the Palestinians to try to spur their return to negotiations.”

Following Greenblatt’s speech for international negotiations at the UN, al-Malki dismissed the US peace effort, stressing that all indications are it will be “conditions for surrender.”

Al-Malki also pointed out that illegal Israeli settlements at the “core” of the “obstruction of peace.”

In addition, Indonesian Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi, described illegal settlement construction as “unacceptable” and urged the UN council to take a firmer stance against Israel.

Marsudi also stressed, “Inaction is not an option.”

It is noteworthy that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been boycotting the US administration since December 2017 when US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and then moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018.

Following recent tensions and the US Trump administration’s undeniable support for Israel has prompted the Palestinians to cut communication with the US and declared it unfit to be a mediator during the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Via Ma’an News Agency

Israel Gets all the Goodies, Palestinians Screwed: First-ever Reveal of ‘Deal of the Century’ Details Wed, 08 May 2019 05:02:00 +0000 BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The main points of the United States’ anticipated Middle East peace plan, the so-called “Deal of the Century,” were revealed by a Hebrew-language news outlet, on Tuesday.

Israel Hayom news outlet published the main points of the “Deal of the Century” from a leaked document, which was circulated by the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

The following are the main points of the agreement proposed by the United States administration:

1. Agreement

A tripartite agreement will be signed between Israel, a wizard [? sic] and Hamas, and a Palestinian state will be established that will be called “the new Palestine” that will be established on Judea, Samaria and Gaza, with the exception of the settlements.

2. Evacuation of land

The settlement blocs as they are today will remain in the hands of Israel and will be joined by the few settlements. The areas of the blocs will grow according to the area of the isolated settlements that will be added to them.

3. Jerusalem

Will not be divided and shared by Israel and the new Palestine and will be the capital of Israel and the new Palestine, the Arab inhabitants will be the citizens of the new Palestine. The Jerusalem Municipality will be responsible for all areas of Jerusalem except the education that will be handled by the new Palestinian government and the new Palestinian Authority will pay the Jerusalem Municipality municipal taxes and water.

Jews will not be allowed to buy Arab homes, and Arabs will not be allowed to buy Jewish homes. No additional areas will be annexed to Jerusalem.

The Holy Places will remain as they are today held.

4. Gaza

Egypt will lease new land to Palestine for the purpose of establishing an airport for the establishment of factories and commerce and for agriculture, other than housing. The size of the territories and the price will be determined between the parties through the mediation of the supporting countries (an explanation for the countries that support the continuation of the road).

5. The supporting countries

The countries that will financially support the implementation of this agreement are: the United States, the European Union and the oil-producing Gulf states.

The supporting countries will provide a budget of $ 30 billion over five years for national projects for the new Palestine. (The cost of evacuating the isolated settlements and their location in the settlement blocs will apply to Israel).

6. The division between the supporting countries

A. USA 20%

B. EU 10%

C. The oil producing Gulf states – 70% – will be divided according to their oil production.

D. Most of the burden on oil producing countries is because they will be the main beneficiaries of this agreement.

7. Army

The new Palestine would no longer have to form an army. The only weapon would be light weapons held by the police.

A defense agreement will be signed between Israel and the new Palestine in which Israel will guarantee the new Palestine from all external aggression and the new Palestine will pay Israel for this protection.

The cost of this payment shall be in negotiations between the parties, mediated by the supporting countries.

8. Timelines and stages of execution

Upon signing the agreement:

A. Hamas will deposit all its weapons, including the personal weapons of the Egyptians.

B. Hamas members, including the leaders, will continue to receive salaries from the supporting countries until the establishment of the government.

C. All the borders of the Strip will be open to the passage of goods and workers to Israel and Egypt as they are today with Judea and Samaria and by sea.

D. Within a year, democratic elections will be held and a government will be elected to the new Palestine. Every Palestinian citizen will be able to stand for election.

E. Prisoners – One year after the elections and the establishment of the government, the prisoners will be released gradually for three years.

F. Within five years, a seaport and airport will be established in the new Palestine and by then the airport in Israel and the seaports in Israel will be used.

G. The borders between the new Palestine and Israel will be open to the passage of citizens and goods as is the case with friendly countries.

H. An autostrada will bridge a bridge about 30 meters above the surface of the earth, between Gaza and Judea and Samaria, the highway will establish a Chinese company, the financing of the highway – bridge will come from:

China 50%, Japan 10%, South Korea 10%, Australia 10%, Canada 10%, the United States and the European Union 10%.

9. The Jordan Valley

A. The Jordan Valley will remain in the hands of Israel as it is today.

B. Route 90 will turn into a four-lane toll road.

third. Israel will issue a tender for paving the road.

D. Will give two crossings from the new Palestine to Jordan, these crossings will be under the control of the new Palestine.

10. Liability

A. If Hamas and Shas object to this agreement, the US will cancel all their financial support to the Palestinians and ensure that no country in the world transfers money to them.

B. If Abbas agrees to the terms of this agreement and Hamas or Islamic Jihad will not agree, the leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad will be held accountable and in another round of violence between Israel and Hamas, the US will back Israel to personally harm Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders That a group of a few dozen will determine the lives of millions of people)

C. If Israel opposes this agreement, economic support for Israel will cease.

Via Ma’an News Agency

Did Saudi Arabia offer Palestine Pres. Mahmoud Abbas Billions to bow to Kushner ‘Deal of Century’? Fri, 03 May 2019 05:16:16 +0000 BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Saudi Arabia offered Palestinian Authority (PA) $10 billion to accept the United States’ so-called “Deal of the Century,” according to Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar news outlet, on Thursday.

Sources said that during a meeting, on Wednesday, between Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Salman briefed Abbas about the details of the peace plan and requested him to accept it.

According to the Lebanese news outlet, Salman offered Abbas $10 billion over a period of ten years if he accepts the “Deal of the Century” and has the Palestinian government’s base in Abu Dis village, in the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem, instead of East Jerusalem.

However, Abbas, rejected the offer and said it would “mean the end of my political life,” sources added.

Palestinian officials have yet to comment.

Abbas confirmed to the Saudi prince that the US would not make any sort of written or serious proposals and warned that if the PA is forced to accept an unsuitable proposal, it would dissolve its institutions forcing Israel to take responsibility of the occupied Palestinian territories.

In April, Jared Kushner, a senior White House adviser and son-in-law of the United States President Donald Trump, said the US administration would present the plan following the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, in early June.

It is noteworthy that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been boycotting the US administration since December 2017 when US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and then moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018.

Following recent tensions and the US Trump administration’s undeniable support for Israel has prompted the Palestinians to cut communication with the US and declared it unfit to be a mediator during the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Via Ma’an News Agency

Slo-Mo Ethnic Cleansing: Israel has forced 3,000 Palestinians from their Jerusalem Homes in 15 Years Thu, 02 May 2019 04:11:36 +0000 JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem revealed that Israeli authorities forced around 3,000 Palestinians from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem between 2004 and 2019.

B’Tselem published a report, stating, “The Jerusalem Municipality demolished 830 residential units, and 120 more were demolished by their owners on the municipality’s orders.”

B’Tselem stressed, “The municipality deliberately left 2,927 people homeless, 1,574 of them minors.”

The report points out that the Israeli-run municipality adopts policies which have deliberately created an acute construction crisis for the city’s Palestinian population, while Jewish neighborhoods enjoy massive development and substantial funding.

B’Tselem explained, “Israel has expropriated more than a third of the land it annexed from the West Bank and has built 11 neighborhoods exclusively for Jews.”

The report noted that these neighborhoods are as “illegal under international law as Israel’s settlements are in the occupied West Bank.”

Israeli authorities use a number of strategies to block Palestinian use of the land, thus according to the report, the authorities either declare Palestinian-owned land as “open scenic areas,” where development is forbidden, or as national parks, where construction and urban development are almost entirely forbidden.

In other parts of the occupied Palestinian territories, large areas, including towns and villages, are declared to be “military zones” almost as a matter of routine, and residents have to leave their homes for set periods when the army moves in.

B’Tselem said that Palestinians in East Jerusalem “have no choice” but to build without permits since the Israeli municipality rarely grants the right to build homes.

Israeli authorities estimate that between 15,000 and 20,000 Palestinian-owned homes have been built or extended without planning permission in the past five years.

B’Tselem stated, “Thousands of Palestinians in the city are living under constant threat to their homes and businesses; in many cases, the authorities follow through on this threat or force residents to demolish the structures themselves.”

“Israel does not see the residents of East Jerusalem [the Palestinians] as human beings with equal rights, but as people it strives to remove from their homes, as they are an obstacle to Judaizing the city.”

The human rights organization stressed that the measures adopted by Israel to achieve that end are all illegal.

“[The authorities are] deliberately denying Palestinians construction permits for residential and other purposes, issuing demolition orders for structures built without a permit for lack of choice, and demolishing dozens of such structures a year.”

“Israel,” concluded B’Tselem, “has implemented this policy, designed to clear parts of the city of Palestinians, since occupying the West Bank and annexing East Jerusalem and the surrounding villages in 1967.”

Via Ma’an News Agency


Bonus video added by Informed Comment:

Btselem: ““Self-destruct”: East Jerusalem homes demolished by their owners”