Disabled Palestinian refugee from ISIS now in Dutch ex-prison

Rafiq in the Haarlem prison building, photo: NOS

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Man on crutches in ISIS area, nearly drowns, but makes it to the Netherlands

Today, 18:24

In late August of this year we got to know him, Rafiq, a 65-year-old Palestinian from Syria, sweaty and exhausted, breathing heavily and inching, using crutches, crossing the border between Serbia and Hungary. He wanted only one thing: to go to the Netherlands. Correspondent Marcel van der Steen saw him disappear into the night.

Van der Steen decided to keep in touch with Rafiq and recently received notice that he had managed to reach the Netherlands. Rafiq is now staying in the Panopticon Prison in Haarlem, which is now an emergency shelter. Reporter Nicole le Fever met him there.

Rafiq’s journey is hard to summarize. To flee Syria he had to cross ISIS territory. A Chechen stopped him and asked why he had no beard. “That does not grow with me,” he replied. But the young man thought that was not a good excuse and Rafiq received twenty lashes.

When asked if he smoked, he lied, because he had heard that he should never admit it. Fortunately, the cigarette pack that he had was not found on him. Finally, the legs of his trousers above his ankles were cut off because Muslim men, according to tradition, must not wear clothing over their ankles.

Once in Turkey, it turned out that as a Palestinian he was not allowed to stay because he had no papers. “Stateless”, therefore, says the new card which he received from the Dutch authorities.

Nearly drowned

So the only way was to try to reach a Greek island by boat. The first attempt failed. The boat made water and Rafiq would have drowned if he would not have been saved by an Iraqi friend. The second attempt succeeded though.

Late August Marcel van der Steen saw him stumble in the dark towards the Hungarian border. He managed to enter the country and for 1000 euros he took a taxi to Germany. The last stage, to Amsterdam Central Station, was by train. There he got a ticket for the train and bus to Ter Apel refugee camp to report there.

Rafiq is grateful that he has arrived safely in the Netherlands. Syria and his problems with the government he won’t talk about much because he is worried about his wife, who stayed behind in Syria. However, he talks about his old life, including in Dubai and Eastern Europe, where he used to own electronics stores and a furniture store.

Will he still see his wife?

His greatest wish is that his wife may come to the Netherlands, but he is concerned about the length of the procedure. First he was told he would hear something within 5 to 12 months, but that is now a year. And then it takes another year before family members can come. Rafiq is afraid that he will not live that long.

All is not well with his health. He has many problems with his legs and kidneys. He also has to follow a special diet. Fortunately, he gets help from two Syrians in the cell next to him. They help him out of bed and with cleaning. For one of his neighbours bad news came today. One of his sons was killed in Syria and his 16-year-old daughter has remained all alone. The man is desperate.

“So, we all have our stories and problems.” says Rafiq.

Benedict Cumberbatch condemns UK government’s inhumane refugee policy: here.

While thousands of refugees risk their lives to cross the Mediterranean each day to commence an arduous journey through the Balkans, the governing coalition in Berlin is fighting over the most effective way to send them back: here.

Pro-peace rallies in Israel, Tel Aviv Saturday, Haifa Sunday

This video says about itself:

21 October 2015

Israeli cafe offers discounts for Jews and Arabs who sit together

A hummus cafe in Israel is seeking to foster understanding amid a series of violent incidents by offering a discount for Jews and Arabs who sit together.

From the Gush Shalom peace movement in Israel:

Stop the Madness! Protest march in Tel Aviv, rally in Haifa

Saturday, October 24, 7:30 pm – marching from the Rabin Square, Tel Aviv. Sunday, October 25, at 7:30 pm – rally at the Cinematheque Square, Haifa.

At 7:30 pm on Saturday, October 24 the march will set off from Rabin Square to the Defense Ministry gate on Kaplan St., Tel Aviv. The march was initiated by Peace Now and joined by various other peace and human rights groups.

These difficult times – days of violence, fear and pain – are only reinforcing our understanding that there will not be real security here until there’s peace through a negotiated solution.

Only a political process that will lead to the end of our control over millions of Palestinians will end the bloody conflict between the two peoples and allow Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and quiet. The only way to prevent further deterioration is through a two state solution.

Join us this Saturday – *To protest the government actions that are pushing us away from a solution. *To protest extreme right-wing provocations. *To call upon Israeli society to choose a different path.

Transportation: If enough people register, there will be buses from Jerusalem, Haifa and Be’er Sheba – register here.

Contact: maya@peacenow.org

Haifa – Jews and Arabs stand together for a common future. Sunday, October 25, at 7:30 pm – rally at the Cinematheque Square, Haifa

We, Jews and Arabs, Arabs and Jews, will not give in to fear and despair. On Sunday, we will stand together in the city of Haifa – a city that can and must lead the way towards a shared life in complete equality. Standing together, we will call for a peace based on independence and justice to both peoples, for full equality in all spheres of life, for an end to racism and discrimination.

Arabs and Jews, Jews and Arabs, we all want to live in security. True security can only be security without occupation and without bloodshed. Only with an end to occupation and a move towards a just peace can we put an end to the killing and hatred, build an different reality and ensure security to all of us.

The terrible violence and fear on the streets did not come out of the blue. The time has come to address the root cause of the cycle of bloodshed: the system of control and separation which denies to millions of Palestinians their right to independence and a life of dignity. Instead of dealing with this root cause, the government goes on pouring ever more gasoline on the fires of incitement and violence.

On Sunday, October 25, at 7:30 pm we will hold a rally at the Cinematheque Square, Haifa (Merkaz HaCarmel, 142 HaNasi Avenue).

Starting at 5:30 pm, there will be in the same location a creativity workshop for children, in Hebrew and Arabic. Bring your entire family, to take part in a manifestation of shared life!


FRIDAY PRAYERS at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque ended peacefully yesterday after Israel relaxed restrictions, allowing Palestinian men of all ages to enter: here.

Israeli army kills Jewish ‘Palestinian’ ‘terrorist’

This video says about itself:

Israel: Arabs & Jews march for peace in Jerusalem

17 October 2015

Arabs and Jews marched through Jerusalem in solidarity on Saturday, protesting against the recent cycle of violence that has rocked Israel and Palestine.

From the Times of Israel:

Military police probe Wednesday night’s shooting of Jerusalem man by soldier

Israeli man was killed after altercation on bus with two soldiers who say they suspected he was a terrorist

Military police investigators are joining the investigation into the shooting death of an Israeli man Wednesday night in Jerusalem by two IDF soldiers who said they believed he was a terrorist.

The victim was shot and killed by a soldier on a bus near the western entrance to the capital on Wednesday night, after a physical altercation he had with two soldiers in which both sides apparently concluded the other was a Palestinian terrorist.

After the lynch mob killing of an Eritrean refugee in Israel who had nothing to do with terrorism, ‘for terrorism’ …

After a fanatical nationalist stabbed a Jewish shop assistant for supposedly being Palestinian …

Time to stop this vicious cycle of violence, and of hallucination instead of reality.

See also here.

URI AVNERY wonders if the extremist colonisers of the Occupied Territories have taken over Israeli politics.

Israelis and Palestinians march for peace in Jerusalem

This video says about itself:

17 October 2015

Jews and Arabs marched together through the streets of Jerusalem calling for an end to violent attacks. CNN’s Oren Liebermann reports.

Jewish Rapper Says Music Can Unite Israelis And Palestinians: here.

Eritrean bystander beaten to death after being mistaken for ‘terrorist’ in Israeli bus station attack: here.

Israeli, Palestinian anti-violence demonstration tomorrow

This video says about itself:

9 January 2015

Adam Keller (born 1955 in Tel Aviv-Yafo) is an Israeli peace activist who was among the founders of Gush Shalom, of which he is a spokesperson.

From the peace movement Gush Shalom in Israel:

We will not surrender to despair – We will stand together!

Jews and Arabs march together in Jerusalem – Saturday night, Oct. 17.

Starting point – at 8.30 at Gan HaSus, Jerusalem.

Arabs and Jews want to live in security. Real security, without occupation and without killing. We know that only with a just solution to the conflict will be able to stop the killing and the hatred, to build a different reality. A reality of security.

Neither the terrible violence in the streets nor the fear was created in a vacuum. We must struggle against the root of this bloody cycle: A regime of control and separation that denies millions of Palestinians their right to freedom and equality. The Jerusalem Municipality distances itself from responsibility, and the government of Israel ignores the urgent need to address the root of the conflict. Instead, the authorities simply continue to pour gasoline onto the fire of incitement and violence.

We, Jews and Arabs, will not surrender to despair or to fear. On Saturday evening, we will stand together, in Jerusalem, the heart of the cycle of bloodshed which is also the place from which any solution must begin. We will demand freedom for both peoples, equal rights and equality before the law – this is the only possible solution to to violence, killing and hatred.

Facebook event here.

Register for transportation from Tel Aviv, Jaffa and Haifa: here.

Contact: +972-(0)52-5830724

For years
The “experts” said:
“Not having peace
Is not terrible.
It is possible
To manage
The conflict.”

They were wrong.
It IS terrible.

HUNDREDS of Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian villages with petrol bombs on Saturday night as the Israeli crackdown escalated: here.

Jeremy Corbyn and British Labour Friends of Israel

Shlomo Anker from Britain says about this video he made:

Jeremy Corbyn speech at pro-Israel event

29 September 2015

The event was by Labour Friends of Israel. The organizers invited Palestinians and their supporters too. The atmosphere was wonderful and pro-Palestinians and pro-Israel people were chatting.

One heckler got attention from the media, but he was drunk as red wine was served.

Many Jews like myself voted for Corbyn and many more who did not vote for him now fully support him as leader.

By Shlomo Anker in Britain:

Labour Friends of Israel warm to Corbyn

Friday 9th October 2015

The new party leader and his pro-Palestinian views both had a surprisingly friendly reception from the group, found SHLOMO ANKER

BEFORE Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour Party leader, there was talk of tension within the party — especially from the right-wing media. People suggested that some in the party would even leave and form a SDP style split.

So the reaction of the pro-Israel lobby group Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) is interesting, especially with so much discussion of Corbyn’s views on the Middle East and his record of being very sympathetic to the Palestinians.

At the Labour Party conference, LFI had two main events and its reaction to Corbyn was surprising. Instead of fostering tension and paranoia towards him, the atmosphere was positive and Jewish Labour members both in and outside of LFI are really starting to warm to him. Or to put it another way: Jewish Labour members realise that what the media has said about Corbyn is not true.

One LFI event was a broad discussion about a two-state solution. The speakers in general only spoke in defence of Israel, which included the usual exaggeration of the threat from Iran. It was disappointing that the oppression of the Palestinians was hardly mentioned.

In the discussion afterwards I decided to commment on the suffering of those in Gaza. The reaction I received was unexpected. Instead of people being upset with me, the Chair of LFI, Joan Ryan MP, very much liked my question and the organisers even came to shake my hand.

Pro-Palestinian activists later asked challenging questions and the organisers and pro-Israel members of the audience enjoyed the discussion — although one woman with a Free Palestine badge did get upset with the replies and walked out of the meeting.

The second event for LFI was their annual reception where high-level members of the Labour Party come to drink, eat and discuss the Middle East.

LFI invited plenty of people involved in Labour Friends of Palestine, as well as Corbyn and Hilary Benn. They both spoke alongside Errel Margalit (an Israeli Knesset member) and the deputy ambassdor of Israel. In his speech, Corbyn called for the end of the siege of Gaza but also praised the Jewish community for its work in defending refugees.

The Telegraph and the Times reported on this event but only mentioned a heckler who shouted “Oi oi, say the word Israel!” after Corbyn’s speech. The newspapers forgot to mention that the heckler had partaken heavily in the wine served at the event and is well known as a bit of an “eccentric” who gets so agitated that even the Daily Mail had an article on his bad behaviour.

The improvement of relations between Corbyn and LFI is partly down to the most pro-Israel of all the Labour MPs, Luciana Berger, being appointed to the shadow cabinet. Luciana was formerly the chair of LFI and unlike other pro-Israel voices in the parliamentary party, she is actually Jewish.

But I should not exaggerate. LFI still has strong disagreements with Corbyn and in my opinion LFI’s work needs reform.

Their priority seems to be mainly about Israel’s national security and they do not do enough to stand up for Palestinians.

The rank and file people in LFI are often peace activists but the speakers they invite at events tend to not be as left-wing.

Although while LFI are not supporters of Netanyahu and do formally oppose the occupation, the brutal reality of the occupation is generally not talked about at their events.

I wish that LFI could reform and be focused on peace activism and not on defending the actions of the Israeli military and sometimes its government.

Yet I must also criticise Labour Friends of Palestine too. I spoke with Graeme Morris MP who is the chair of the group and he seemed pessimistic about working with LFI. While he may be right about politics and is a charming fellow, Labour Friends of Palestine need to reach out more to LFI and begin to organise more joint events which will improve relations.

If we are going to have peace and justice in the Middle East, let us at least start with friendship between these two sides within the Labour Party.

Demonstration against occupation and violence in Israel, tomorrow

This video from the USA says about itself:

Israeli Peace Activist Uri Avnery on The Nicole Sandler Show

25 July 2014

Nicole Sandler speaks with the founder of the Israeli peace movement Gush Shalom, Uri Avnery.

From the peace movement Gush Shalom in Israel:

Protest Vigil against the Occupation and EscalationTel Aviv, Friday, October 9

Tomorrow, Friday, October 9, at 13:00 there will be held at the corner of Ben-Zion Boulevard and King George Street in Tel Aviv a Protest Vigil against the Occupation and Escalation.

Military operations and settlement construction are not the solution – they are the problem. Only a peace agreement can end the violence.

In between wars and military operations, right-wing governments construct more settlements. In between one round of futile negotiations and the next one, the government is creating facts on the ground which prevent the attainment of peace and security and which lay the ground for the next war. In between one peak of escalation and the next, the government repeatedly turns a blind eye to the violence of the nationalist settler gangs which rampage, burn and kill throughout the Territories. And in between one round of violence and the next, Netanyahu is convinced he has found the magic formula which will allow him to manage the conflict and to maintain the occupation forever.

Reality is now exploding in our faces. Moment by moment, the occupation becomes ever more violent and dangerous. This right-wing government is a grave danger to all who live here. We all, on both sides, pay the price – and it becomes ever higher, with every passing day.

The right-wingers assert that the answer to the escalation and the wave of violence is ever more use of brute force: more detentions, more killing, more shooting at minors and more construction of settlements. That is totally false. There is only one way to end the escalation and break the cycle of violence and death: a political agreement: ending the occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem, side by side with the State of Israel in its internationally recognized 1967 borders.

Demo: Friday, October 9, at 13:00 – corner of Ben-Zion and King George, Tel Aviv.

Facebook event here.

Contact: Noa Levy +972-(0)52-3872231

Stabbed Israeli Jew mistaken for Arab criticises violence. ‘We are all equal,’ says Uri Rezken, wounded in vigilante attack, and it is a hate crime regardless of whether an Arab or a Jew stabs him: here.