Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable

Palestine Update 328
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Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable

The hypocritical comfort with which the international community bypasses responsibility over Israel illegalities in Palestinian territories is increasingly appalling. Is the option of the collective conscience taking precedence in public matters being ruled out once and for all? Or, is everyone waiting for the ultimate catastrophe to occur before they can open their eyes and see the bad and the ugly and, then, still walk past the problem like the Priest and Levite in the Biblical story of the Good Samaritan?  The problem that afflicts the Palestinian today is that the Good Samaritan is also not turning up although Jericho exists geographically right in their midst.

Talking to an atheist friend of mine not too long ago, I was asked this question: You Christians claim you are large numbers in the world and yet, why is it you can’t influence profound political change? After all, he said, we are talking about Christians who claim to be ‘Christian, whatever that means’! Is it because your religion does not know how to influence change in political cultures and values? If you can’t transform everyday political injustices, what use are you to the world? Why won’t you just close shop? I protested arguing that there are Christians who feel anguished by what Israel is doing to Palestine and elucidated how many of these churches were sticking their necks out and being accused of being this, that, and the other- all derogatory references. My friend simply rejected what I argued about and dismissed it all as sheer ‘gobbledygook’. Too little, too late, he grumbled.

I really wouldn’t paint all churches and Christians with the same brush. Those who care about justice and mean it deep inside fight hard to create the conditions for change. They are usually in that situation I found myself with my atheist friend: “Damned if I do, damned, if I don’t”.

I experience the horrors of Israel’s occupation with my everyday research to publish materials on my Face book Page and in the newsletters, both of which go by the name Palestine Updates. It seems that those who can make political decisions and make them stick are struck by opium. Now, Opium is a depressant drug, which means it slows down the messages travelling between your brain and body. Yes, global politics seems to be hit by opium and a brain fade, and worse, a disconnect between heart and mind. And so, those in charge read and hear about what Israel does in Palestine to its people and don’t get it because they prefer being in opium mode.  No wonder there is silence and complicity. Deliberate and so wanton, it makes the world itself as murderous as the regime they protect by their quiet and innocent-looking, but mischievous connivance.

Read these stories in this issue (except for the one where the Bishops call out for action) and you will see how the world sits and watches as cruelty persists. One day, that will hit us (my conviction that ‘karma’ will visit us. We would be victims of indifference. But it would be too late.

Until then let those who care enough do what newspapers are called to do: ‘To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.’

Ranjan Solomon


Break the Silence and Speak Up for the People of Palestine
by Jafar M Ramini*

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The third Monday of January every year has been designated a national holiday in the USA to honor the memory of slain civil rights leader, Dr Martin Luther King Jr. who was assassinated April 4, 1968 in Memphis. This honor was proposed during the Reagan era in 1986 but it was not recognized nationally until the year 2000. Even now there is still resistance in a few southern states of the USA.

The injustice and cruelty that was meted out to the black Americans for generations was nothing short of inhuman. Let us call it by what it actually was. Abject slavery! But, when you look at the short history of the USA, the blacks in America fared much better than the indigenous tribes who were slaughtered en masse. Some estimates put the numbers at between 10 – 15 million. From the one million remaining, at least 80 tribes disappeared between 1900 and 1957, and 80% of all remaining people had been killed through total wiping out of their culture, habitat, disease, or murder. So much for the Land of The Free and Home of the Brave.

Dr King’s intellect, his fight for the right of his people to live a dignified, free life and his capacity to forgive was legendary. As he so memorably said, “He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.”

We try, Dr King. We Palestinians try our very best to forgive the cruelty and trespasses of our Zionist enemy against us. But, unfortunately the more we forgive and the more we accommodate the more we are crushed and denied even the air we breathe. This suffocation of human life was recognized clearly by Dr King when he said: “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” In the memory of this icon of civil liberty I beseech all the good people of the world to break that silence and speak up for the people of Palestine.

*Jafar M Ramini is a Palestinian writer and political analyst, based in London, presently in Perth, Western Australia. He was born in Jenin in 1943 and was five years old when he and his family had to flee the terror of the Urgun and Stern gangs.
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No opposition from the international community as Israel alters the two-state paradigm
Israel forces Jerusalemite to demolish his home [Maannews]
The EU is predicting an increase in Israeli demolitions of Palestinian dwellings and structures in the occupied West Bank, thus perpetuating the problem of displacement. Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett has described the plan to apply Israeli sovereignty to Area C as “a real and immediate battle for the future of the Land of Israel.”

In 2019, Israel exceeded the statistics for demolitions and displacement in the previous year. Targeting EU-funded and Palestinian structures alike, the EUobserver stated that Israel had demolished 35 per cent more dwellings and displaced 95 per cent more Palestinians, when compared with 2018.

Despite this, the EU refrains from taking a stance against Israeli colonisation, even as it demands compensation from Israel for the damage to structures funded by the bloc. Last week, Israel demolished a Palestinian home and the foundations of a school in Al-Rifaiyya and Birin respectively.
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34 Catholic bishops call their countries’ to recognize Palestine

A group of 34 Catholic bishops from the “Coordination with the Holy Land” Committee, that includes bishops from the churches of Europe and North America and South Africa, have called on the governments of their countries to recognize the State of Palestine. In a statement following their visit to the city of Ramallah and occupied al-Quds, the bishops hailed the legendary steadfastness of the Palestinian people and stressed the importance of implementing the rules of international law and recognizing the State of Palestine. They called for putting an end to the Israeli violations of human rights and the settlement building activities in the occupied territories.

Pastor Jamal Khader of the Latin Church in Ramallah clarified that the bishops’ choice to visit Ramallah as their place of residence has provided them with a chance to meet the Palestinians and know about their suffering under the Israeli occupation. He pointed out that the bishops also visited the “Comboni Missionary Sisters” church and association in the outskirts of occupied al-Quds where they saw the suffering caused to the Palestinians by the Israeli Apartheid Wall. In turn, Kamal Shamshoum, from the Latin Monastery in Ramallah, said the bishops formed a general idea about the situation in the occupied Palestinian lands and issued a strong statement. “We welcome their visit, but we don’t want sympathy and words only, we also want deeds,” concluded Shamshoum.
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Who gains if Trump publishes peace plan before Israeli election?

While many people had long concluded that President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” had died, it came back to life Jan. 13 when voices were heard from Washington hinting at the possibility of its presentation on the eve of the March 2 election for the 23rd Knesset. The silence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in contrast to Blue and White leader Benny Gantz’s complaint that such a presentation at that time would constitute meddling in Israel’s internal affairs, caused some to think this had been orchestrated between Netanyahu and Trump. Or perhaps there could be an American green light for the annexation of the Jordan Valley, perhaps a green light for the annexation of all the West Bank settlement lands — at any rate something that could show that only under Netanyahu could Israel get such delicacies from the American administration.

Seemingly, the outline of the plan is clear: Trump will offer a plan where there is no Palestinian state, there is no division of East Jerusalem, there is no vacating of settlements, no absorption of a single Palestinian refugee and no return to 1967 borders. The presentation of the plan would be followed by other, most obvious steps: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blows up, rejects it out of hand in disgust, while Netanyahu gravely examines it and says it’s a valid basis for real negotiations; Trump thanks him for his willingness to compromise, and in light of the Palestinian determination not to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, he allows Netanyahu to annex whatever he wants. The public would be impressed by Netanyahu’s magic and would stream to the polls in order to give him four more years, despite the indictment for bribery, fraud and breach of trust against him that has landed at the desk of Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.

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