Archive for November 4th, 2011

OIC Continues Efforts to Release Salah


CAIRO, July 14, 2011 (WAFA) – The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said Thursday that its Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu has continued his communications with the British government to release Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic movement’s northern branch in Israel, who was arrested on June 28 in London.

In a statement, the OIC said Ihsanoglu had a long phone call with the British Minister, Baroness Warsi where they discussed Salah’s case. The secretary-general urged her to take fast action to end Salah’s arrest.

According to the statement, Ihsanoglu said that the significant improvement in relations between OIC and the UK, and the interest by the British government in the rights of the Palestinian people, both call for immediate action, in addition to respecting the feelings of Palestinians and the Islamic world as a whole.

The minister expressed her understanding for Ihsanoglu’s position but said that the British justice will take its course with integrity and objectivity.

Ihsanoglu had sent Warsi a letter last week urging her to intervene to release Salah, and had conducted several communications with the British government to discuss the matter.

Source: WAFA.


French Ship Carries Freedom Flotilla’s “Dignity” to Gaza

By Begoña Astigarraga

ATHENS, Jul 12, 2011 (IPS) – The French vessel Dignité-Al Karama is the only boat from the Freedom Flotilla II actually sailing for Gaza in an attempt to break the Israeli blockade imposed in 2006. At the same time, six Spanish members of the humanitarian aid mission went on hunger strike in the Greek capital.

The hunger strikers, who have occupied the Spanish embassy in Athens since Jul. 5, were traveling on the Spanish ship Gernika (Guernica) that was part of the flotilla carrying 500 activists from 45 different countries, and 5,000 tonnes of aid, bound for the Gaza Strip.

Nearly all the ships have been confined to port in Greece for the last 10 days, except for the Dignité-Al Karama which sailed from the French island of Corsica Jun. 25, evaded the Greek blockade on more than one occasion and remains the only vessel of the flotilla still sailing freely.

With 10 representatives of several delegations of the humanitarian coalition on board, the Dignité received permission Jul. 9 to sail for the island of Rhodes, Manolis Plionis, a member of the Greek delegation of the Freedom Flotilla II – “Stay Human”, confirmed to IPS.

From on board the Dignité, French Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Nicole Kiil-Nielsen told IPS that after having been stopped last week in Ormos Kouremenos, in Crete, they were taken to Sitia by the Greek coast guard and eventually allowed to sail from there.

“We had to stop in Crete to refuel, as we did not have enough fuel to reach Gaza,” Kiil-Nielsen said. “Now, the Dignité is free and we are organizing another group of passengers, probably international, to go on to Gaza.”

Manuel Tapial, coordinator of Rumbo a Gaza (Sailing to Gaza) Spain, told IPS that “the Dignité-Al Karama is heading for Gaza on its own, representing the dignity of the flotilla, and carrying representatives of the international coalition delegations.”

In addition to the crew and MEP Kiil-Nielsen, passengers include Vangelis Pissias, the coordinator of the Greek delegation, Swedish-Israeli musician Dror Feiler and actor Guillermo “Willy” Toledo, representing the Spanish delegation.

Meanwhile, six Rumbo a Gaza activists began a hunger strike at the Spanish embassy in Greece Monday Jul. 11, after medical checks. Two other members of the group participated in the protest from Madrid.

In a communiqué released Monday, the activists said they would fast until “the Spanish government shows some sign that it will intercede (with the Greek authorities) so that the Gernika may sail freely across the Mediterranean.”

The six hunger strikers are among a score of activists who occupied the Spanish embassy in Athens with the declared intent of remaining there until their country’s Foreign Ministry responded to their demands, and until their ship, held by the Greek authorities in Kolymbari, Crete, was released and allowed to go to a safe port or return to Spain.

However, the activists say they have only received an official statement from the Foreign Ministry announcing its decision “not to make any public commitment to the release of the Gernika,” which prompted them to take stronger measures in pursuit of their demands.

In an open letter sent Monday, Tapial upbraided the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party’s (PSOE) prime ministerial candidate Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba: “The government you represent has forsaken us, and our only remaining option is protest action to rescue the Gernika, by right and with dignity.

“Mister Rubalcaba, as leader and candidate of the PSOE, speak out and call for the release of the Gernika, a ship bought with the money of thousands of people throughout Spain who believe that a project like this one is necessary to show effective support for the besieged people of Gaza.

“Listen, commit yourself and take action,” the Rumbo a Gaza coordinator demanded.

The Gernika is still confined to port in Greece, in spite of having resubmitted to the authorities all the necessary documentation for permission to set sail, said Elvira Souto, one of the hunger strikers.

Eight other vessels, including two cargo ships, are still blocked in various Greek ports, while an Irish ship is in a Turkish port undergoing repairs for alleged sabotage suffered two weeks ago.

The crew of the Canadian vessel Tahrir has decided to give up plans to sail to Gaza for the moment; the U.S. ship Audacity of Hope is still in custody in Athens; and the other French boat, the Louise Michel, the Italian vessel Stefano Chiarini, the Freedom for All, the Methimus II and the Gernika are regrouping, ready to form a new flotilla, columnist Eric Verlo wrote in his blog at

In a move to exert further pressure, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman telephoned Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma and persuaded him to withdraw his country’s flag from the Swedish/Greek/Norwegian vessel Juliano, giving the Greek coast guard the opportunity to block the ship in Heraklion.

Greece and Israel are currently carrying out joint military maneuvers, the sixth held in a short space of time.

Israeli ambassador to Spain Raphael Schutz said there is “no humanitarian crisis” or shortage of food and medicine in Gaza. The Freedom Flotilla should be seen “for what it is: a propaganda event intended to build solidarity with a terrorist group that wants to wipe Israel off the map and kill the greatest possible number of Jews and Israelis,” he argued.

Source: Inter-Press Service (IPS).

Saudi Arabia, Zionism, Peace and the Palestinian Cause

12. Jul, 2011

By Haytham A. K. Radwan – Intifada

(Adelaide, Australia) – The attempts to destroy the Palestinian Cause have been on the drawing board of the Al Saud’s alliance with Zionism and the West for at least 63 years. Today, not only are they fighting against the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to resist occupation, they are doing everything in their power to prevent them from returning to their indigenous land in favor of Israel.

Established as a kingdom without an independent strategic plan or a sense of nationalism, Saudi Arabia has sought to destabilize Billad el-Cham in order to undermine the Palestinian cause in favor of Zionism and the West. Indeed, since the occupation of Palestine in 1948 the kingdom has persevered with it mission to strengthen Zionism by inciting disputes between rival groups. This has had the effect of destabilizing the region so that Zionism and Israel’s occupation of the territory of Billad el-Cham continue, though Riyadh disguises its activities and policies under the banner of Islam, peace and its relationship with the West. Today, the mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to strengthen Zionism continues, this being accomplished by undermining popular regional and national resistance movements, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, in order to destroy their confidence and their willingness to resist Israel’s Zionist projects. This paper seeks to shed light on Saudi efforts to undermine the Palestinian cause for the sake of Israel through the propagation of myths, by destroying all forms of resistance, and by instigating peace initiatives which it knows will ultimately be ineffective.

Palestine and the Saudi Myth

This year (2011) marks the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba, the illegal occupation of Palestine by the Zionist movement. However, not all Arab countries have resisted Zionist projects in Palestine, notable among them being Saudi Arabia. Indeed, Al Saud have created the myth that the Saudis have used their position as an oil supplier, as a valuable friend and ally of Western nations, and as the protectors of the most important Islamic sites, Mecca and Medina, to help liberate Palestine. Saudi Arabia’s message to Arab people and to Muslims everywhere is that the kingdom is acting in support of Palestine and its displaced population. Additionally, the kingdom has fostered the notion that it is not in conflict with the establishment of Israel in Palestine and is willing to do everything in its power to restore peace between Israel and the Palestinians. It is argued here that these messages have been accepted uncritically by the media, and this situation has served the House of Saud – as well as Zionism – very effectively. However, many (or most) Palestinians have resisted the message very effectively. Indeed, research into the events of the past 60 years or more reveal a very different situation from the reports provided in the media, and it is evident that there has been a high degree of on-going Saudi cooperation with Israel. Indeed, Saudi Arabia negotiated with the British Foreign Office and with Churchill, expressing its willingness to accept openly the Jewish claim to Palestine in return for Britain withholding support from its Hashemite rivals, and in doing so the Saudis ignored calls by King Ghazi of Iraq to form a common Arab front to defend Palestine. Then, as events unfolded during 1948 Saudi Arabia remained on the sidelines and refused to contribute forces to liberate Palestine. Furthermore, when the 1948 Arab-Israeli War ended, the kingdom withheld financial support from the Egyptian and Jordanian forces still occupying parts of Palestine, and it made every effort to prevent Syria from uniting with Iraq to create a military counterweight to Israel. The kingdom also refused to contemplate the possible use of oil to pressure the US into a more even-handed Palestinian policy.

Since 1948 Saudi conspiracies against the Palestinian cause have continued through secret meetings and communications between Saudi government officials and princes and the Israelis. According to statesmen, senior military officers and former intelligence officers, the former Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar, has maintained regular contact with Israel since at least 1990. Moreover, evidence indicates that such contacts occurred much earlier; for example, in 1976 the Saudi government secretly sent a letter, via Tunisian Foreign Minister, Mohammed Masmoudi, to Israel offering a large sum of money in return for withdrawing from the occupied territories.

Saudi efforts to destroy the Palestinian cause even entailed military plans. Accordingly, in 2009 when the Gaza attack occurred, Saudi Arabia was in support of Israel, and repeatedly met the chief of Mossad to plan an attack on Iran, the main supporter of Hamas, the most influential anti-Israeli movement in the occupied land. Similarly, during the conflict along the Israel- Lebanon border in 2006, the Saudis allegedly contacted the Israelis, the top-selling Hebrew daily Yediot Aharonot reporting that Israel and Saudi Arabia had been conducting secret negotiations. It appears, then that while Hezbollah was fighting for the interests of both Lebanon and Palestine – and for all Arab countries – the Saudis were conspiring against it by collaborating with Israel.

Secret meetings and military planning between the Saudis and the Israelis have not been the only conspiracies to undermine the Palestinian cause. For instance, in 1958 the Saudis endeavored to put an end to unity plans between Iraq and Jordan after a pro-Nasser coup d’état succeeded in overthrowing Iraq’s Hashemite monarchy. The Hashemite had long been the strongest traditional Arab force, but they were displaced when Ibn Saud forced them from Mecca in 1924 and Medina in 1925. Then in 1921 the British placed Faisal on the throne in Jordan, and shortly afterwards, in 1923, granted Abdullah control of Iraq. These Hashemite princes were outsiders, but the British used religious differences to justify their actions to the Arab people by asserting that the Hashemite lineage could be traced back to Muhammad. They also worked hard to put an end to the Syrian-Egyptian union (described at the time as the United Arab Republic) which lasted from 1958 until 1961.

The secret relationship between Saudi Arabia and Israel has not been intended to help the Palestinian people nor is it to maintain stability and peace in the region. Instead, it has sought to increase the threat of terrorism, a situation which is favorable both to Israel and the House of Saud. Indeed, their relationship can be considered to be lower than that between al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Furthermore, the differences between the two are akin to the differences between the act of war and terrorism. Both have supported terror and war to justify their expansionism. Saudi Arabia has used Islam and its wealth to further its cause. Israel has used Saudi Arabia’s wealth, Islam, its military superiority, and its contacts with the West to achieve its objectives.

Thus, the interaction between the Saudi royal family and the Anglo-American-Israeli alliance has dangerously strengthened anti-secular and national movements in Billad el-Cham. Also it has deepened the divisions that emerged during the period of colonial rule in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Indeed, events show that the Saudi royal family has stood against Syrian nationalism and the liberation of Palestine in order to strengthen Saudi-style religious movements. However, what now concerns the Saudis is the threat that Syrian nationalism can cause to the existence of the royal family and its Wahhabi mission within Billad el-Cham. Similarly, what worries Israel and the West is the threat that nationalism can cause to the existence of the State of Israel.

Unlike the Saudis, who have never realized that Zionism constitutes a threat both to Billad el-Cham and to the kingdom itself, the people of Billad el-Cham have seen the emergence of Israel as a real threat to the security and stability of the entire Middle East. This danger lay in the Zionist endeavor to establish an exclusively Jewish state in Billad el-Cham based on the claim that the Jewish people had an ancient, inherent and inalienable right to Palestine. This endeavor has been founded on the belief that the Jews constitute a nation, yet such a belief is unwarranted because the Jews are very diverse racially, socially, and culturally. Indeed, for the liberation of Palestine in particular, and the existence of Billad el-Cham in general, the Zionist threat cannot be denied. Zionist Jews have claimed an historic title of the Jewish people to Palestine even though they are not descendants of the original inhabitants of the country. Historically, the Jews, or the Israelites, arrived in the land of Canaan as immigrants and they then lived with the Canaanites. However, there was never peaceful coexistence between them and the Philistines, who also came to the land of Canaan almost contemporaneously with them. The Israelites eventually disappeared from Palestine after their deportation by the Romans following their second revolt in AD 132-5. Moreover, the Jews who migrated to Palestine in the twentieth century showed no disposition to share the country or to coexist with the Palestinians. Rather, they were determined to realize the political ambitions defined by the World Zionist Organization, to create an exclusively Jewish state.

Today, like the West, the Saudis continue to do everything in their power to strengthen Zionism and weaken Syrian nationalism. Within Billad el-Cham this is continuing to this day; Israel is using similar tactics in order to justify its wars against the Palestinians, Lebanese and the Syrians in the occupied territories while the Saudis, like the West, have done little to end the crises by putting a stop to Israel’s step-by-step expansionism. However, these policies are having an impact on the behavior of Muslim sects, on radical organizations, and on US-backed political parties within Billad el-Cham. Similarly they are affecting the behavior of the Zionists and Saudi Arabia. For example, Israel and the US are using Saudi Arabia’s influence in the Persian Gulf to destabilize Iran. However, there may be unforeseen consequences for these policies will impact on the security of Saudi Arabia itself and not just Iran.

Using Iran as an Excuse to Weaken the Palestinian Cause

Today, the Saudi royal family continues the policy of Ibn Saud in harming the Palestinian cause, although the Palestine question remains important for Saudi policy-makers. This is so not because of the sensitivities of the Palestinian crisis but because of growing Iranian influence in the occupied land. This may explain why Saudi Arabia is opposing the Iranian-backed democratically elected anti-Israel Sunni government led by Hamas while supporting the unpopular Fatah government led by Mahmud Abbas. Indeed, Saudi officials have repeatedly stated that Iranian support for Hamas has widened the rift with Fatah and hampers a resumption of peace talks.

This situation helps explain why, during a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in February 2010, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal expressed support for United Nation sanctions against Iran because of Iran’s military support for Hamas and Hezbollah. The Foreign Minister commented:

We see the issue [Iran’s nuclear program] in the shorter term maybe because we are closer to the threat … So we need an immediate resolution rather than a gradual resolution [sanctions].

However, by June, as the UN Security Council passed a new round of sanctions against Iran, The Times in London published a report stating that:

Defense sources in the Gulf say that Riyadh has agreed to allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance for a bombing run on Iran.

At this point it is relevant to note that Zionism has been successful in influencing policies and events in Saudi Arabia. It has been successful in convincing the Saudi royal family that Iran is a threat to their existence and that the royal family needs to co-operate with Israel to ensure the kingdom’s safety. Indeed, the Saudis have apparently accepted the view that they need Israel as a back-up in any future confrontation with Iran. Israel is still considered to be an enemy in the eyes of Arab and Muslim people, and though Iran is a Muslim country and shares similar values and interests with Arabs nevertheless Saudi Arabia still favors Israel. This is evident today. At present, Saudi policy regarding Iran is aligned with that of Israel, and both are sectarian in nature and publicly political. A Saudi/ Sunni war against the Shias would achieve Israel’s aim of destroying Iran’s growing power, but from an Israeli standpoint such a conflict would be to the benefit of Zionism which is hostile to both Shias and Sunnis.

Today, Saudi policy makers are keeping pressure on Iran regardless of the fact that Iran is seeking to counter-balance Israel’s hegemony in the region. It is widely believed that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, but this seems to ignore the fact that Israel is already a nuclear state. There is no evidence yet that Iran is developing weapons of mass destruction, however Saudi Arabia chooses to insist that Iran is a threat to the region and in so doing is ignoring Israel’s nuclear capabilities.

It seems that Iran’s enmity toward Saudi Arabia has a more immediate strategic cause. Iran is not going to forgive Saudi Arabia’s political stand with the US against Iran’s nuclear interests, nor is it going to forget Saudi Arabia’s support for Saddam Hussein’s forces in the Iran/Iraq conflict in the 1980s. Indeed, Tehran’s main hostility stems from the belief that Saudi Arabia is covertly co-operating with its enemies on three fronts. Firstly, the government in Tehran believes that the Saudis collaborated with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the abduction of an Iranian nuclear scientist in 2009. Iran accused Saudi Arabia of assisting the CIA abduction of Shahram Amiri while he was in Mecca, this view being confirmed by Amiri who stated on his return from the US that the CIA has kidnapped him with the help of Saudis. Secondly, the Iranian regime suspects that the Saudis have agreed to support Israel in planning a’ ‘surgical strike’ against Iran’s nuclear facility, and thirdly, that the Saudi government has been providing ideological support for Iran’s main domestic terrorist group, the Jundallah.

Unworkable Peace Process

Soon after the events of 9/11 King Abdullah negotiated the so-called ‘Arab Peace Initiative’ to avoid criticism from the West because 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis. The initiative was produced in the 2002 Arab Summit in Beirut, but in the subsequent ten years Israel has refused to comply, and Saudi Arabia has taken no steps to implement it.

In the light of these events it is reasonable to question whether Saudi Arabia could solve the crises through peace negotiation and whether Saudi Arabia is able to pressure Israel to make peace. It is argued here that there is no evidence to suggest that Israel is dedicated to peace in the region. Nor is there evidence that Saudi Arabia would cease supporting Zionism or reduce its loyalty to the US, especially since the US itself is under Zionist control.

Theoretically, peace is represented in contemporary literature as a ‘liberal peace’: that is, an institutional peace to provide international governance and guarantees, a constitutional peace to ensure democracy and free trade, and a civil peace to ensure freedoms and rights within society. However, these distinctions mean little to people living under occupation and in refugee camps.

But in reality, peace with Israel means recognizing the Zionist state as a sovereign political entity, something Palestinians refuse to accept. Accordingly, the peace process is not welcomed in Billad el-Cham in general and Palestine in particular. For the people of the region there are deep disagreements about the issue of peace with Israel. Additionally, there is a growing awareness among the indigenous inhabitants of the Middle East that Israel has become firmly entrenched, but despite this there has not been a commensurate shift in support for Israel’s presence; to the contrary, opposition to Israel remains as high as ever.

It is proposed here that a peace arrangement between Israel and its neighbors would legitimize injustice because millions of displaced Palestinians still live in refugee camps abroad, a state of affairs in violation of basic human rights. Although much is heard about the plight of the Jews in the holocaust, little is said about the Palestinians who fled from their homeland. It is clear that Israelis have no intention of living peacefully with the Palestinians, and evidence of this can be seen in the relentless extension of settlements on Palestinian land. This process is exacerbating the refugee problem by forcing the remaining Palestinian inhabitants to cross into Jordan. Despite this worsening situation Saudi Arabia is doing nothing except encourage Mahmud Abbas to continue peace talks with Israel and by supporting the Oslo Agreement, although the kingdom’s rulers know that the Oslo process is unlikely to contribute to a lasting peace. In 2002, King Abdullah proposed peace in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders. Israel did not accept his initiative. Five years later (in March 2007) that proposal was revived, but, as before, it produced no tangible results, and Saudi Arabia was still unwilling and unable to force Israel’s hand on the matter. Instead, the Saudis are now cooperating with Israel to prepare an air strike against Iran, a new fabricated enemy to replace the original enemy of all Arabs, Israel.

Peace between Israelis and Palestinians may never be achievable regardless of the efforts of the Israelis and Saudis because Israel has no roots in the region. Palestine has been occupied, it has been renamed Israel, and the original inhabitants have been forced to flee their homeland. Consequently, Israel can never really achieve a lasting peace with people who they have displaced. Some may argue that Israel has signed a peace treaty with Egypt and Jordan, countries with whom they now enjoy relatively peaceful relationships. But are those treaties sustainable? It is argued that they are not because while Governments may sign treaties those arrangements may never be accepted by the public, especially after so many years of bloodshed and injustice. Public feelings on the matter are becoming more evident today in Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere, where anti-Israeli slogans are appearing more often. Can the Saudi government continue to resist (or ignore) rising public sentiment today, and can its petrodollars, allies, and political advocates, both internal and external, protect the world from growing sectarianism, extremism and terrorism?

Today, although Palestinians have not forgotten the lessons of military power and occupation, Saudi Arabia still believes that peace with Israel is achievable and that Israel itself is serious about making peace and ensuring justice. It is insisting that the Palestinian (and Lebanese) resistance to Israel must be halted in order to resume peace negotiations. Saudi Arabia’s rulers have repeatedly witnessed Israel’s rejection of many offers of peace and Israel’s recourse to violence and expansion of settlement, yet they insist that the Palestinians must negotiate peace with Israel.

Meanwhile, injustice can result in more violence, propelling people to acts of resistance in order to gain justice. In the eyes of the international community, Israel has persistently violated international law which requires it to recognize the rights of the indigenous Palestinian people. The occupation is illegal, the Palestinians have been confined to small areas in Gaza and the West Bank and have remained under siege, and displaced people have been prevented from returning to their native land – all acts being condemned by natural and human laws. In the meantime, Israel, protected by the US, has caused many Palestinian deaths and condemned many others to a life of agony and despair. Thus, a just settlement would require an independent and an honest broker, Western or non-Western, but can this happen?

So far the international community has been unable and unwilling to solve the crisis in Palestine. Similarly, it has demonstrated unwillingness to challenge the Saudis for their tacit support for the status quo. Indeed, for the American government the occupation of Arab and Muslim territory, and the displacement of its population are convenient ways to force the hand of the Saudi, Arab, and Muslim people.

In summary, this paper has examined the Saudi-Zionist efforts to undermine the Palestinian cause. While these policies have succeeded in some places, they have failed to be effective in Palestine, as well as in other places in Billad el-Cham. Failure to win over the hearts and minds of people in the region has caused the Saudi-Israeli-Western policy makers to forge what they called “the New Middle East”. But for this new vision to succeed will entail the destruction of regimes regardless of whether these regimes are secular or Islamic. This also requires the destruction of groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and of leaders who are willing to stand in opposition.

Source: Intifada-Palestine.

Palestinians Won’t Learn Israeli Lessons

By Jillian Kestler-D’Amours

EAST JERUSALEM, Jul 12, 2011 (IPS) – Widespread strikes across Palestinian civil society could be in store for East Jerusalem at the start of the next school year, as the municipality moves ahead with its current plan to implement an Israeli curriculum in Palestinian schools.

“I expect that the beginning of the new school year will not be a normal one. There will be lots of problems. There will be lots of demands, strikes,” Samir Jibril, director of the East Jerusalem Education Bureau told IPS. “All (the Palestinian) institutions are going to stand hand-in-hand against this implementation. Even civil society is demanding to stop this plan by the Israelis.”

In March of this year, the Jerusalem municipality sent a letter to private schools in East Jerusalem that receive allocations from the Israeli authorities. The letter stated that at the start of the 2011-2012 academic year, the schools would be obliged to purchase and only use textbooks prepared by the Jerusalem Education Administration (JEA), a joint body of the municipality and the Israeli Ministry of Education.

These textbooks are already in use in East Jerusalem schools managed by the JEA. According to Jibril, however, Palestinians in East Jerusalem have at all levels rejected the plan to use them in private schools, since it is viewed as being politically motivated.

“The real reason behind all this story of curriculum is actually political. We’re talking about a radical (Israeli) government that is trying to impose its own identity on the Palestinians in East Jerusalem. Knowing that Israel doesn’t recognise Palestinian identity, it is a political reflection rather than (for) any kind of educational or pedagogical (reason),” Jibril said.

The move to introduce the Israeli curriculum came after Israeli parliament (Knesset) member Alex Miller from the far-right Israel Beiteinu party, who heads the Knesset’s Education Committee, stated during a meeting about unauthorized curricula in the education system that, in East Jerusalem, “the whole curriculum should and must be Israeli.”

After Israel illegally annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, Palestinians in the city followed the Jordanian educational system. Then, shortly after the signing of the Oslo II agreement, schools in East Jerusalem began using the curriculum of the Palestinian Authority.

Today, four different authorities govern the education system in East Jerusalem: the JEA, the Islamic Waqf, the private sector, and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees.

According to 2010-2011 statistics provided by the East Jerusalem Education Directorate, the JEA runs 50 schools in East Jerusalem, which are attended by 38,785 students, or 48 percent of the total number of Palestinian students in the city. An additional 22,500 Palestinian students attend 68 different private schools in East Jerusalem.

“They are actually pushing towards implementing the Israeli curricula because this will politically mean that East Jerusalem is not an occupied territory and it is just like the 1948 area, Israeli land,” Jibril said.

“If Israel succeeds in this step, there will be other successive steps, and they will target all the remaining schools,” he added. Israeli authorities have tried to exert added influence in East Jerusalem schools under their control earlier, he said, by willfully omitting certain passages in textbooks and removing the Palestinian logo on book covers, among other measures.

In February of this year, the Israeli Supreme Court gave the Education Ministry and Jerusalem municipality five years to improve the level of state education in East Jerusalem, since recent studies have shown that among other unresolved problems, approximately 1,000 classrooms are missing and more than 4,000 Palestinian children are not enrolled in school at all.

This is despite the fact that East Jerusalem – considered occupied territory under international law – is protected by the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that “the Occupying Power shall, with the cooperation of the national and local authorities, facilitate the proper working of all institutions devoted to the care and education of children.”

Article 13 of the International Convention on Economic and Social Rights also specifies that states must “undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents…to choose for their children schools…(and) ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.”

On Jun. 6, Israeli NGO Ir Amim sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denouncing the government’s plan for Palestinian private schools.

“The right of the children of East Jerusalem to an education by their culture and national identity is also consistent with the basic right to education recognized in Israeli law and their right to equality in education, freedom and defense of their identity. Israel is obligated not only to avoid violating those rights but also has the positive obligation to support their realization,” the letter stated.

Ultimately, Samir Jibril said, Israel’s attempt to introduce its own curriculum against the will of Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem reflects the larger goal of using education to control Palestinian Jerusalemites and harm Palestinian culture and identity.

“Israel keeps on attacking the Palestinians and trying to impose a new kind of education which will serve Israeli ideas, culture and points of view concerning the question of identity and cultural and educational background. There are many indicators that show that Israel is interfering in a very negative (way) and has a very bad impact on education (in order) to keep the Palestinian Jerusalemites down, without education.

“But we believe that it is our right to have our own curriculum that serves our national philosophy and national identity and that will preserve our culture. We are going to defend it until the end.”

Source: Inter-Press Service (IPS).