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Israeli Policies Force Family Separations

World  (tags: ethnic cleansing of Palestine/Gaza Strip,, occupied West Bank/Palestine, zionism, colonization, illegal settlement building, land confiscations, home evictions, oppression of Palestinians, Nakba, Palestinian human rights, crimes against humanity )

- 6 days ago -
Al Haqs director Shawan Jabarin discusses a new report exposing the complex system of restrictions Israeli authorities impose to control access to Palestinian territory and to stop family reunification


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fly bird (26)
Sunday March 17, 2019, 3:25 am
Israeli Policies Force Family Separations
March 13, 2019

Al Haq’s director Shawan Jabarin discusses a new report exposing the complex system of restrictions Israeli authorities impose to control access to Palestinian territory and to stop family reunification. The consequences is to slowly force Palestinians out to preserve a Jewish majority in areas controlled by Israel.

Story Transcript

MARC STEINER: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Marc Steiner, it’s great to have you all with us.

The human rights organization Al-Haq, based in Ramallah, just published a new report. It’s called “Engineering Community: Family Unification, Entry Restrictions, and other Israeli Policies of Fragmenting Palestinians.” Now, this report details how Israel uses a tiered ID system round the clock, surveillance as well as that, to decide which families in occupied Palestine can actually live together and which cannot, who may or may not be allowed to enter the occupied territories at any given time, and who may return or not return after leaving, whether it’s for school, or for work, or for visiting family.

The Institute for Middle East Understanding issued another report, gathering some testimonies from visitors to Israel and Palestine who were denied entry. Let’s hear a short segment from that report. And these are testimonies from Americans.

SPEAKER 1: The questioning caught me really off guard. I was like no, I’m not Muslim, brother.

SPEAKER 2: I tell her I’m going to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, she makes this gesture about like the way I’m dressed, and she’s telling me, “You, like this, are going to Tel Aviv and the beaches? That makes no sense whatsoever.”

SPEAKER 3: They said that they thought I was lying and that if I didn’t change my story, that I would be deported.

SPEAKER 1: He had me write down my grandfather’s name, my father’s name, these American-ass, Jeffrey Thomas, Lewis Thomas, I don’t think it’s what he’s looking for.

SPEAKER 3: They asked me to open my phone, which I refused to do.

SPEAKER 1: “What activism do you do?” I was like, “I don’t really do activism, I’m a teacher, bro.” He was like, “I don’t know if you know what I do. I sit at this desk and catch terrorists.”

SPEAKER 2: After she’s finished looking through my things, she starts yelling, really out loud, “You’re either a terrorist or a liar.”

MARC STEINER: And as I said before we saw this, these were voices of Americans who were denied entry, not allowed to visit friends and family in the occupied territories. But perhaps even more insidious and serious is what happens to Palestinians on either side of the divide. As a result of policies, the rights of Palestinians interferes with their right to choose who they wish to marry, where they wish to live. Those denials come at a much steeper price and violates human rights on a much more fundamental and deeper level.

We are joined today in this conversation by Shawan Jabarin, who is the General Director of Al-Haq and the Vice President of the International Federation for Human Rights. In 2011, he was appointed to the Human Rights Watch Middle East Advisory Board, and in 2013, he was elected as commissioner for the International Commission of Jurists. He received the Reebok Human Rights Award in 1990 for his defense of freedom of expression and human rights, spent time in Israeli prison, and former President Jimmy Carter is part of the reason that he is also a free man at this moment. And welcome, Shawan, good to have you here at The Real News.

So maybe we can start, if you can explain to us in a little bit more detail than I gave, what this tiered ID system is, how it works, and how this had to do with amending the Israeli citizenship law which prevents family unification if one spouse is from the occupied territories and another spouse is from Israel proper.

SHAWAN JABARIN: I think this is part of the policy, because the Israelis, they are targeting also the Palestinian existence and their presence and their territory, and their policy is to minimize the Palestinian presence also in the West Bank and Gaza, as you know, the occupied territories. Just I would like to give you a figure which does not, I think, exist in this report. Since 1960 till 1990, more than 120,000 Palestinians, they lost their residency in occupied territory. They left for just work, for study, for others and the Israelis revoked their IDs and they couldn’t come back any more. And even if you just take into account that the average of the Palestinian families are six and seven persons, the 120 now reached like one million people that are outside.

They were here in the occupied territory, I’m not speaking about those that fled and those that became refugees outside. I’m speaking about those that were here in the West Bank in the 70s and 80s but they left for different reasons and they couldn’t come back. This is part of the policy. And here, I think, the family is targeted by the Israelis, because the family unity also is targeted. And in all the constitutions and laws, family unity is basic things, it’s like a fundamental right. But here, for Palestinians, no. It’s something targeted, it’s not easy to get you married, for an instance, from inside Israel. You come together, for instance, in one place that you wish to live in, Ramallah or in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, it’s impossible for you. Because in many cases, they were divided because of that.

These days, you are speaking about thousands of families divided, part of them in Gaza, and the rest of the others in the West Bank. And they couldn’t see each other. If they want to apply for even a permit, the Israelis said that it doesn’t come under the criteria of humanitarian criteria. This is what they call it. And also, the rest, let me say in Jordan or other places outside the West Bank, that they couldn’t see each other, except if they wanted to go, for instance, to Jordan to visit them or to be married. This is part official. Another thing is the foreign internationals, those that get married with Palestinians, the Israelis, they don’t allow them to stay with their spouses, for instance, the visa is an issue, the permits to stay is an issue. In some cases, they send them back from the airport, they deny their visas and their permits.

And yeah, I’m not speaking about isolated incidents or cases. And many internationals, for instance, many of them are Americans. Americans, Palestinians, or their spouses, let me say from the U.S. And the U.S. consulate that that time in Jerusalem, they mailed and they complained, for instance, to the congressmen and the others. They tried to help them, but still, there is a big, big case.

MARC STEINER: So in part, just very quickly, just so our viewers can really understand. So if, for argument’s sake, I was a Palestinian man living and born, say, in Haifa, and I fell in love with a woman from Ramallah, and we wanted to get married. This law, the way it’s written, we couldn’t live together if they decided that they were not going to allow it. Is that right?

SHAWAN JABARIN: Look, if you’re from Haifa and she’s from Ramallah, there is no guarantee, for instance, to allow her to stay with her husband in Haifa, and there’s no guarantee, for instance, to give her citizenship. There is no guarantee, for instance, to register their children. And it takes a long time sometimes, and by a long time, I mean years and years, fifteen years, something like that. This is an issue and this is a case. Now it’s a big, big case, because the Israelis, they forced in what’s called the Family Reunification System. They suspended it since 2001, and until today, they don’t do anything for the spouses that get married from both sides. They are Palestinians, but at the same time it’s not easy for them to stay in one place.

MARC STEINER: So if I was born in Nablus and went to study in Paris, I might not be allowed back in.

SHAWAN JABARIN: Look, if you speak about Paris and Nablus, the one from Nablus, he has to go or she has to go to Paris, but there’s no guarantee, for instance, the one who is from Paris to come back and to stay with his or her partner in Nablus or in Ramallah. That’s the case. Because of that, I think they designed this policy to push you outside. If you want to stay together, you have to look for a place outside of the country. That’s, I think, this is my analysis, this is our analysis from a long-term study of this subject. For instance, if she is from Jerusalem or he is from Jerusalem, and she wants to come to Ramallah to live with her husbands in Ramallah, there is no guarantee to keep her residency, for instance, to keep her ID. And if revoke her residency, which she can’t go back to Jerusalem anymore to join her family or to take her husband with her to see and enjoy Jerusalem.

And why Jerusalem, because Jerusalem is targeted by the Israeli’s policies. They try to push Palestinians outside of Jerusalem, to the border. This is also clear in the policies, this is clear in the planning, this is clear in the demography, this is clear in discrimination and treatment of Palestinians in Jerusalem.

MARC STEINER: So to understand this thoroughly, just very quickly here, but the reports seem to say that the controls and restrictions, which is really authorities placed on people who try to visit the occupied territories. For example, I’ve read they’re sometimes required to carry a large sum of money in order to pay for entry, however they are described, to be allowed to enter, and that that money may not be always be returned to them if they comply with the conditions or said that they did not comply with the conditions correctly. So talk about how this is a violation of rights, when foreigners are not allowed to visit them. I mean, it seems to me that this could become a much larger international issue, because it’s not just involving Palestinians, but it could involve anybody from any country, especially the United States, who want to come visit and aren’t allowed in.

SHAWAN JABARIN: A visit is not an easy thing. For Israel, they are dealing with the occupied territory as closed territory, and the military commander who is in charge and responsible for their entry to this area. And because of that, when they give them a visa sometimes, they say that this visa is valid only for West Bank only, which it means that you have no right to go to Jerusalem, when Jerusalem is part of the West Bank and part of the occupied territory. Another kind of visa, for instance, if you want to come through, they ask you many questions. If you want to go to friends, for instance, to visit friends in the West Bank, in Hebron or Ramallah as well, and if they feel that you will visit, there is no guarantee to give you a visa, for instance, to enter even Israel and after that to come to Ramallah. And they ask you many, many questions.

And if they find that there is a relation, I mean marriage relation or relative relation with anyone in West Bank, it’s like impossible sometimes to give you even a visa to enter there to visit, or to stay, or to join your family there. It’s not an easy issue. Because of that, sometimes people, they try to find another way to go around of that, to take, for instance, with them different telephones for friends in Israel or Jerusalem. Or they say, “We would like to go to visit some places there as tourists, and this country, we love it, we like it, we like Israel, we love Israel.” I know of friends who did that just to allow them even to come to visit their them. If they find your name, your name is an Islamic name or an Arabic name, or any relation of that, this is also another story.

Even your face, sometimes. If it shows them that you have looks like Arab or something like that, maybe your face also has problems. Even many internationals, they face a problem because of their color or their face is like an Arab. And maybe you heard about the Jewish guy, he looks like Palestinians, and they stopped him, which they discovered later on that he’s a Jew, originally from Morocco. That’s unusual. This is the hardest part of discrimination, part of the mentality against the occupied population and even anyone relating to that.

MARC STEINER: So very quickly, a final question here. And at what you just said, I smiled a little because I was thinking that whether you are Jewish or a Palestinian Muslim or Christian, people look a lot alike. It’s not so easy, sometimes, to tell people apart. But recently, the Israeli government has come out with attacks through the Jerusalem Post and other places, attacking Al-Haq and your ties, allegedly, to terrorist organizations. And so, talk a bit about that controversy going on. What’s the root of that? I mean, they’re not arresting you and putting you on trial, it doesn’t seem, but convincing donors to cut funding to Al-Haq. And so, talk a bit about that conflict from your perspective.

SHAWAN JABARIN: Look, I say a few words at that. One, this is part of a smear campaign. This is an organized campaign to undermine Al-Haq’s work, and also because in their point of view, we crossed the red lines. Now we are cooperating strongly, actively, with the International Criminal Court to bring and to hold the criminals accountable for their crimes. I think, in the Israeli mind, this is red lines we have not to cross. We have to keep just speaking about human rights and nice things, but not to cross that red line to go after the criminals.

Now, connecting that with against me, I can say a few words. One, if they have anything against me, let them bring me before court. The only thing I ask for is due process and fair trial, if they have anything, in their minds. But this is part of a ridiculous story that they created, that they tried to use it all the time. It will not undermine us, even if they spent millions of dollars these days, if they also released many official reports on the reports. And in my point of view, what they are doing now is like a character assassination. They are pushing with things in the Internet all the time, because they can’t challenge our information, they can’t challenge our professionality, for instance.

At the same time, they want to silence us. To silence us for what? Because we are reporting and asking for accountability. We are asking for justice for Palestinians. We also call for equality, we are asking to treat Palestinians as human beings with rights. That’s the issue and that’s the case. Let them challenge our legal arguments, let them challenge our information. They haven’t challenged our information since the beginning of the establishment of Al-Haq in ’79 until today, not one time challenged our information.

Lastly, because of that, I think they have a fear that this is a credible organization. Everyone listens to this organization, we have good connections everywhere all over the world and everyone listens to us. Our reports received very well by the international institutions, by judiciary bodies. I think that’s what makes them furious from our work and also other organizations. And lately, also they are against even any activists. These days, the word anti-Semitism, anyone who criticizes Israel is anti-Semitic. I think this is what undermines the anti-Semitism in the eyes sometimes. Anti-Semitism is an issue, is an issue. We have not to mix it with the freedom of separation, we have not to mix it with the criticism of a state. Anyone can criticize a state for it’s wrong. These days, even the name Jewish Voice for Peace in the U.S. is anti-Semitism, which is a ridiculous thing. I think it’s a time to distinguish between this smear and to distinguish between the freedom of expression.

MARC STEINER: Shawan Jabarin, thank you so much for joining us here at The Real News today. I appreciate you taking the time, I look forward to other conversations with you. Thank you.


fly bird (26)
Sunday March 17, 2019, 3:29 am
Insidious colonial strategy.
December 7, 2018

In the area of Salfit, harassment by settlers is a regular occurrence. They come to the villages, often late at night, to graffiti messages of hatred, and also vandalize cars and property. New settlements are being established frequently and are rapidly expanding.

Farris is a university teacher living in the village of Kufr al-Dik. He drove us to his land of Deir Samaan, a beautiful olive grove with panoramic views, and a complex of Roman ruins at it’s heart. It’s only a stone’s throw from his village, but we had to drive 15 minutes extra, as the occupation’s gate to the village’s main entrance has been closed for three weeks. This is a common practice of collective punishment inflicted by the army. Farris and the rest of the village were perplexed as to why they were being “punished” just now.

Up until now, it’s still possible to access Farris’ land, but one must pass the brand new constructions of Leshem, and an array of JCBs and cranes. Leshem appeared in 2010, and now hugs the west edge of Deir Saaman. It is the newest of many illegal settlements that now surround him. This year a further 1200 units were added.

Leshem, 1200 units built this year

“Leshem means Holy Rock in Hebrew. I think they used this name because I have a Roman castle on my land. They used bombs, a lot of bulldozers, and a lot of time to build Leshem. Construction has been constant since 2010 until now, and I suffer for this. There is a lot of dust because of this, so during the olive harvest I cannot collect the olives until the rain comes.”

Alei Zahhav, a settlement on the East side of Farris’ property, was established in 1983. It has now joined up with Leshem to the North, creating a large crescent of houses that have eaten into his land. “On the other side of the settlement, I have another piece of land with 300 olive trees. Now, because of the new constructions, I cannot come to my land because the road was closed. I need to go around the whole valley, and then more than 3km off road, through the valley, which is very bad for the car. So a lot of time is wasted and I have to get a tractor which is expensive.”

Alei Zahhav pinching the border of Farris’ land

He tells us that another huge impact from the Alei Zahhav settlement is the emptying of its sewage directly into the fields, which runs down the valley into his land. “Aside from being disgusting and affecting the trees, it is attracting many wild boars which are destroying everything I plant.”

In the midst of the interview a Settler nonchalantly strolled through the middle of Farris’ private property. Farris tells us that many of the ornately carved Roman stones have been destroyed by settlers. They often enter, vandalize the ruin, and also swim in his well occasionally.

The crescent has now expanded around to the South side of the property, with a new double fence, only a few weeks old, completely surrounding him. He was recently notified that he’ll soon be locked out from his olive trees and will have to obtain permission from the Israeli military to pass through. Based on previous cases, it’s likely he’ll only get permission for a few days a year to harvest olives.

“I opened a new agricultural road to come to my land because they destroyed the previous one. Now they’ve constructed a fence, which means that I will need a permit to come to my land. I have here 170 olive trees, and I recently planted 200 trees of other kinds. The restrictions mean these will be destroyed.”

Double fence recently installed.

“Israel is annexing everything from the green line to the Jordan Valley. That is a big finger which cuts across the middle of the West Bank” he explains.

It’s clear that the settlements are being strategically planned and positioned.

Another settlement, Shalem to the south.

“If you go to the high mountain and look around, to the West you will see Kafr Qasim, that’s the green line. From there the Israelis put settlements as a finger in the middle of the West Bank. All the mountains in that line have settlements on top, and they’re near to each other. If there is an Israeli city in the middle of the west bank there is no state of Palestine.”

The progression of annexation and dividing of the West Bank.

There are now 24 settlements in the Salfit area and only 18 Palestinian villages. Ariel, at the top of the valley from Farris’ land, with a population of around 20,000 is one of the largest settlements in the West Bank. “They want to make Ariel a city, all the settlements you can see refer to Ariel”.

Just bellow Ariel is a huge Israeli industrial area called Barkan. Palestinians have suffocating restrictions on what they can build. For example, they are prohibited from building industrial facilities. Whereas Israel has managed to flaunt International laws, and even Israeli laws, to establish these massive industrial zones, thus giving Israel evermore control over the region, and the Palestinian natives.

Barkan employs many Palestinians. At a time when unemployment is very high in the West Bank, the Palestinians take the work out of necessity, receiving much lower wages than their Israeli colleagues. Working for your illegal occupier is beyond humiliating, and gives rise to intense frustration. It’s not surprising that this forces people over the edge at times.

For land owners there is not always a choice. The accumulated obstructions and violent interventions take away the capacity to earn a living, forcing younger generations into accepting the low wages at Barkan. Traditional ways of village life are eroded, land is left untended, and therefore open to settler land-grabbing, as per Israeli law, and against international law. The objective is obvious, frustrate the occupants into leaving, or act out so as to be thrown into prison or worse, leaving the land empty.

Sewage and waste from all settlements, and the Barkan industrial complex, is emptied on to the fields of Palestinian farmers. This is causing a big loss of income, there are also significant cancer clusters within the villages of the valley below.

“I hope the Israeli people change their government because their government are terrorists to the Palestinian people. They don’t want peace, they lie all the time saying they do want peace, they lie about everything. They lie just to make the people keep wanting them. If the government wanted peace it would take ten minutes to do, we can start with 1967, but the Israeli government wants to take all of the land.”

Sue L (72)
Sunday March 17, 2019, 3:58 am
Deliberate family separations are a tragedy wherever they happen.

Freya H (345)
Sunday March 17, 2019, 7:03 am
Evil minds think alike.

Donna T (0)
Sunday March 17, 2019, 7:15 am
thank you

Colleen L (3)
Sunday March 17, 2019, 11:06 am
Despicable. Evil minded just like the idiot here in the U.S.
Thanks Fly
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