Highlights from the 2014 National SJP Conference

Last month, more than 500 student organizers representing nearly 120 colleges and universities from all over the country convened at Tufts University in Boston for the fourth ever National Students for Justice in Palestine Conference.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Beyond Solidarity: Resisting Racism and Colonialism from the U.S. to Palestine,” a strikingly fitting theme building on the previous year’s commitment to connecting the Palestinian struggle with other social justice causes, especially those in our backyards here in America.

T-shirts bearing the logo design for the 2014 National SJP Conference are prepared for distribution on the opening day of the gathering. Photo credit: S. Damra

Boston-based hip hop group Foundation Movement performs at Saturday’s cultural Night of Freedom at Tuft University’s Cohen Auditorium. Opti Browne, far right, drapes a Palestinian flag around his neck. Photo credit: Christopher Hazou

A conference attendee looks at the weekend’s program after checking into registration. Photo credit: S. Damra [Read more…]

Photo of the Week: The scars she will see and feel every single day

Photo credit: Eman Mohammed
Date taken: 2009
Location: Northern Gaza Strip, Palestine

Farah is cradled by her grandmother, Um Mohammed Matr Abu Halima, months after Israel’s 2008-09 invasion of the Gaza Strip. The two of them experienced severe burns after the Israeli military launched white phosphorus shells at the family’s home. Farah was two years old at the time. Her brother Ali, just two years her senior, and her uncle also survived. Her father and her four other siblings were killed. [Read more…]

Photo of the Week: Palestinian mothers take on Israel’s “force, might, and beatings”

Photo credit: Robert Croma
Date taken: 1988
Location: Jabalya Refugee Camp, Gaza Strip, Palestine

Palestinian women from the Jabalya Refugee Camp confront Israeli soldiers over the abuse and mistreatment of Palestinian children and youth. Israeli soldiers were given authorization and encouragement to break the bones of any youth caught throwing stones and any men involved in demonstrations against the military occupation. Shortly after this photograph was captured, the Israeli soldiers used batons and tear gas to disperse the women. [Read more…]

Footage: Racially-charged exchange on Israeli bus further contextualizes hanging of Palestinian bus driver

On Sunday night, Yusuf Hassan Al-Ramouni’s body was found hanging inside of a transit bus in Jerusalem. The 32-year-old Palestinian father of two worked for Egged, an Israeli transit bus company, and his shift was set to begin at 9:20 pm. But his bus never left the depot, and in the middle of it hung his body by a thin cord.

Despite initial reports that Yusuf had been attacked and lynched, the Israeli police ruled the death a suicide. The police later issued another statement saying that an autopsy report revealed no evidence of foul play.

However, a medical expert speaking anonymously told Ma’an News that the autopsy suggested Yusuf was the victim of “an organized murder”. Aside from his intact first verebtra, which would have likely been dislocated in the case of a sucide by hanging, Yusuf’s body also showed that livor mortis was found in the buttocks of the body, indicating that he was sitting rather than hanging when he died.

Additionally, photographs circulating the internet purport to show extensive bruising on Yusuf’s body.

Several of Yusuf’s colleagues have spoken up about the abuse faced by Palestinian bus drivers on Israeli transit services. But Palestinian drivers are not the only individuals at the receiving end of racially-charged abuse.

Footage published online just days before Yusuf’s death shows a group of Israeli passengers ganging up against a Palestinian citizen of Israel. The Israeli passengers demand that the Palestinian give up her bag to be checked. There appears to be no reason why she is being targeted except for the fact that she is Arab. It is not clear which city the bus is driving through.

Toward the end of the exchange, one of the two armed Israeli soldiers on the bus attempts to be a voice of reason and says that because he has studied “a lot about Islam and Qur’an,” he can “identify” with Arab culture and, presumably, with the Palestinian passenger. He goes on to say that “Israelis are in a very tense situation now,” as if to reassure her that there is justification behind the intimidation. [Read more…]

And on the 33rd word, he was a boy

The New York Times reported the shooting of a Palestinian child in the Gaza Strip by Israeli soldiers on Sunday. But nothing in the title or in the opening sentence indicated that the victim was only 10 years old. Including the eight-word-long title, it took the New York Times thirty-three words to finally identify the most important detail: Israel had targeted a child.

Considering the vast implications of the media’s framing of Palestinians, this is far from being a non-story. Considering Israel’s persistent assault on Palestinian children, this was a reckless editorial decision by the New York Times. Details do matter, especially when Israel is on record for killing over 2,000 Palestinian children since 2000, including at least 519 children in Gaza just a few months ago.

Palestinians are typically subjected to a very odd and unbending pattern when it comes to national and international news coverage — that is, if coverage exists in the first place. Israel time and time again prevents journalists from entering the Gaza Strip, targets news agency staff and headquarters, and issues indefinite gag orders on particularly gruesome assaults on Palestinians in the West Bank. But when the news does get out, Palestinians are not always given an equal platform. [Read more…]

Photo of the Week: Jerusalem doors that might no longer stand

Photo credit: Ammar Awad
Date taken: November 6, 2014
Location: Jerusalem, Palestine

Palestinian youth take cover behind doors during clashes with Israeli soldiers and police in Jerusalem. Tensions in the Holy City have risen dramatically after Israeli authorities closed the Aqsa Mosque compound to Palestinians for the first time in over a decade. Most recently, the Israeli government has announced plans to demolish the homes of Palestinians responsible for the hostilities. [Read more…]

Etsy removes items ‘of Syrian origin’ despite humanitarian consequences

As the month of October wound down, one Etsy user received a particularly disturbing email from Etsy’s Marketplace Integrity team. Without any forewarning, the team had removed two items “of Syrian origin” from her shop.

Jumana runs Watan, a personal project through which she creates and then sells Palestine-themed art. The name comes from the Arabic word for ‘homeland’, and Jumana’s handmade art pieces explore the deeper and more personal connections Palestinians share with their country.

Watan is hosted on the popular e-commerce site Etsy, and her storefront features a sketch of the iconic Baha’i Temple in Palestine, framed calligraphy pieces, and an assortment of traditional Palestinian embroideries shaped into pins and pendants. Her sales include bracelets, posters, and phone cases — all designed in ways that celebrate and in some cases even teaches about her heritage. [Read more…]

Letter to Khalto Um Omar

Guest contribution by Jana Daoud

I walked ahead, expecting to find our family friends waiting for us by their car. Instead I heard someone call my name. I turned right into an embrace. I didn’t know this woman –– she visited my family when I was away for college –– but she knew me. As soon as I was in her arms, I felt lighter. I wasn’t carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders alone anymore.

***

I jotted those words down nearly two years ago about my first visit to Palestine, my first time going home. The woman whose loving embrace greeted me right as I entered my home — she is the strongest woman I have ever met and probably will ever meet. I call her Khalto Um Omar, just like mama told me to.

Khalto Um Omar is a Palestinian woman who has given her all to resisting the occupation. Her home has been and still is regularly raided by the Israeli military, yet she does not sway from her firm principle. She refuses to leave her home and she vows time and time again to keep resisting.

She has been married for over 23 years though her husband has been imprisoned for 19 of them. She raised her six children as best as she could while her husband was hidden away in Israeli prisons or Palestinian Authority jails. The two are now imprisoned together after being detained in mid-February. There are no formal charges and there is no declared jail sentence. [Read more…]

Photo of the Day: Resiliency in the form of peeled potatoes

Photo credit: Mohammed Salem
Date taken: August 2, 2014
Location: Gaza City, Gaza Strip, Palestine

A Palestinian woman prepares food on the floor inside a classroom at a United Nations-run school in Gaza City. She fled her home to escape intense Israeli military strikes on neighborhoods throughout the Gaza Strip. She is among roughly 500,000 displaced Palestinians who have had to seek shelter in United Nations-run schools, hospitals, or other public buildings as a result of the bombardment. [Read more…]

Photo of the Week: Portrait of a survivor

Photo credit: Hatem Moussa
Date taken: August 11, 2014
Location: Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, Palestine

A Palestinian boy wraps a bandolier of spent bullet casings left over by Israeli soldiers over his head. The bullet casings were picked up near his home which was destroyed in the onslaught. Israel launched a 50-day military offensive dubbed “Operation Protective Edge” against the Gaza Strip, killed at least 2,140 Palestinians, injuring thousands more, and displacing an estimated 500,000 people. [Read more…]

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