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Mazin Qumsiyeh writes:
Christmas 2013 in Bethlehem (Beit Laham, Aramaic for House of Laham, the Canaanitic God of Sustenance) is still a very special and meaningful time even under the brutal Israeli apartheid occupation. We are not talking about the visual aspects and the unique religious services at the Church of Nativity. It is special because reflection here is special. Nowhere is there an exhibit of “Occupation Art” shown in a “Peace Center” in front of a large Christmas tree in front of one of the holiest places in Christianity. Nowhere on earth do people pray that the wall suffocating them is dismantled then watch and listen to Christmas carols from around the world after admiring such exhibits....
The end of 2013 and beginning of 2014 is a time to reflect that some 2.5 billion human beings believe in a message that originated with a Palestinian child thought to be born in a manger over 2000 years ago. The land was called Palestine at the time of Jesus’ birth and also for hundreds of years before he was born and it is still geographically Palestine today. It is also a time to reflect on the real message of Jesus, sometimes distorted (like happened with the Crusaders and with the marginal misnamed “Christian Zionists”). It is still a message of hope, peace, joy, justice, love, and harmony....
[Yet] on Christmas eve, Israeli forces also bombed Gaza killing at least two including a 3-year old girl and injuring others in her family. So many Palestinians in Bethlehem and in the Churches directed our Christmas gifts to people of Gaza and people of Syria. And most of us (me included) are barred from entering our city of Jerusalem which is methodically being stripped of its Palestinian population (Christians and Muslims) and isolated by walls (physical and psychological).
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This Week in Palestine, December 27th, 2013
On the shopping "holiday" known as Black Friday, protesters positioned themselves in various locations at the Capitola Mall to raise awareness about SodaStream, a company with a factory built on illegal Israeli settlements located on occupied Indigenous Palestinian lands. Santa Cruz community members wore black and held large banners that read "Boycott SodaStream."
SodaStream is a product that allows users to make flavored carbonated drinks at home, and it is sold in the Santa Cruz area at Bed Bath and Beyond, Best Buy, Chefworks, Macy's, and Kohl's, among others. Demonstrators chose the Capitola Mall's Target store as the primary location of the Black Friday protest because of that company's overtly stated commitment to "corporate responsibility" and "responsible sourcing." Target's website has a plethora of web pages dedicated to the company's declared interest in these and other issues pertaining to environmental and social justice.
The Black Friday action at the Capitola Mall was cosponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace-Santa Cruz Chapter, Palestine Israel Action Committee (PIAC), WILPF-Santa Cruz Chapter, and Women in Black.
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SodaStream, manufactured in an illegal Israeli settlement in the West Bank, is a popular home seltzer maker. The company markets its product as a green, clean alternative to buying soda in plastic bottles. But Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT!) and others counter that stealing Palestinian land is not green or clean.
QUIT! first approached Cliff's Variety, a popular local store in the Castro, in March 2012 to ask them to honor the international boycott of SodaStream. When they refused, QUIT! began leafleting and doing regular street theater outside the store, to educate customers about the impact of settlement industries on Palestinian life and alternatives to SodaStream.
As costume shoppers flocked to Cliff's Variety in the Castro on the Saturday before Halloween, Frankenstein and a gaggle of witches were on hand to cast some spells on the store that refuses to honor the boycott of SodaStream. QUIT! plans to keep pressuring Cliff's to discontinue selling SodaStream. More holiday events are being considered.
On July 27, the Canaan protest village was built for the fifth time on annexed Palestinian land in the middle of the illegal Gosh Ezion Colonial block next to the illegal settler colony of Migdal Oz. The nonviolent protesters stayed in the tent on their land for around an hour and a half before the Israeli occupation soldiers tore it down, violently repressing the demonstration.
The tent village was built to remember the right of Palestinians to their land and to express solidarity with hunger strikers imprisoned for fighting for the Palestinian struggle. In statements, Palestinians taking part in the tent village have expressed their general support for negotiations to end the occupation, but condemned the current round of false negotiations that have been going on for years while Israel continues to build colonies and colonize Palestinian land.
There have been four previous incarnations of the Canaan village, all of which have reclaimed Palestinian land while protesting the illegal colonial annexation. The previous tent villages have been built by the South West Bank Popular Committee in the south of the West Bank and have all been violently dismantled by the Israeli occupation military, with arrests of nonviolent demonstrators.
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On the morning of June 22, Palestinian, international and Israeli activists marched to the Israeli occupation military checkpoint blocking the West Bank from Jerusalem. There they were stopped by soldiers who violently prevented them from passing through. In reaction, the Palestinian activists prayed at the checkpoint, demonstrating their right to both freedom of movement within their own land, and freedom to worship in Jerusalem. Following the prayer, the activists stated that they were leaving, but that they would return soon and that the next time they prayed it would be in Jerusalem.
This demonstration aimed to highlight the human rights abuses that the Palestinian people are subjected to every day because of the occupation. Restriction of movement is widespread across the West Bank, with permission from the Israeli occupation authorities demanded of Palestinians in order to travel within their own land. This permission is granted very rarely, and usually excludes people aged 18-45.
In Islam and Christianity, Jerusalem is one of the primary religious sites. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion…to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” This human right is blatantly denied through acts committed by the Israeli occupation authorities and military every day.
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7PM Wednesday Mar 19
Breaking the Silence