Archive | News RSS feed for this section

Jafar Farah Explains the Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People

12 Oct

Jafar Farah remembered the first demonstration he went to when he was an 11-year-old boy.  It was in solidarity with the Chileans against General Pinochet.  He knew then he had an obligation to protest even though the coup occurred thousands of miles away and didn’t affect him directly.

Decades passed.  Farah graduated college with a Bachelor of Arts in education and sociology.  At Haifa University, he was President of the Committee for Arab Student from 1988 to 1989 and then the Head of the National Union of Arab Students from 1989-1990.  He was a journalist for Haaretz newspaper from 1990 to 1997 and an investigative journalist for Israel’s Channel 2 News.  He founded the Mossawa Center in 1997 and now serves as its director.  He speaks Hebrew, Arabic and English.

Like his expression of solidarity with the Chileans at 11, he has been touring the United States most recently asking for solidarity from people in the United States, regarding the Israeli treatment of Palestinians.

DSC_0349

Israel’s new Basic Law was explained by Jafar Farah to an audience of about 50 people, on Sunday, Oct. 7. Farah is at the podium with Rick Chertoff to his left. Photo by Barry Saks.

About 50 people heard Farah, on Sunday, Oct. 7, at what is known as the Peace Center at 3916 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, where he spoke generally about Israel and specifically about the Basic Law declaring Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.

Jewish Voice for Peace-Los Angeles sponsored the event, which was co-sponsored by Al-Awda (the Palestine Right of Return Coalition), All Saints Episcopal Church, CODEPINK, Interfaith Communities for Justice and Peace, LA Progressive, LA Jews for Peace, the North America Nakba (the Arabic term for the 1948 events, when most Palestinians were expelled from their homeland by the new state of Israel) Tour and United Methodists Holy Land Task Force.

DSC_0334

Waiting to introduce Jafar Farah and Rick Chertoff is Linda Milazzo. Milazzo is a member of Jewish Voice for Peace-Los Angeles and CODEPINK. Photo by Barry Saks.

Linda Milazzo, who said she was a member of JVP-LA and CODEPINK, introduced Farah and Rick Chertoff.  Of Chertoff, Milazzo said, “In the late ‘90s, he was the Director of the Jewish Labor Committee, working out of the Jewish Federation here in Los Angeles, he co-founded LA Jews for Peace…He organized a course on the Palestine-Israel conflict at UCLA Labor Studies….and has published articles in the online magazine, LA Progressive.”

To listen to the audio of the introduction by Milazzo and the conversation between Farah and Chertoff, click here.

The format of the event was a back-and-forth conversation, consisting of remarks by Chertoff, followed by a question to Farah, followed by his  response.

DSC_0348

Jabar Farah is speaking at the podium with Rick Chertoff listening on Sunday, Oct.7, at the Peace Center, 3916 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City.  Farah is speaking about the Basic Law declaring Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.  Photo by Barry Saks.

Chertoff asked Farah to describe the events in May 2018 in Haifa, where Farah was arrested and beaten by an Israel police officer in the police station.

Farah said he had just come back from Italy.  His two sons and nephew were at a demonstration, where about 300 youth in Haifa were protesting in solidarity with Gaza and against the attacks by Israel.  From Facebook accounts, he knew the demonstration was becoming a problem.  He went to the demonstration, which the police declared illegal.

Meanwhile, the police were arresting demonstrators.  He convinced his two children and nephew to leave the demonstration.  He asked the police if they could leave, which he documented on his cellphone.  The police refused to let them leave.  He was not arrested, yet.  However, his youngest son and nephew were among about the 20 who were arrested.

While going to the police station, he observed the Secret Service, the head of the Haifa police department and the same police officer, who refused to let him and others leave earlier were following him.  At the police station, he observed his son and nephew were bloodied with all those arrested on the ground.  It was there, where he was arrested and an officer broke his knee because authorities wanted the evidence on his cellphone.  When the police offered to let him leave under “home jail,” he refused to be treated differently from the other arrested.  Police jailed him for almost 50 hours with his broken knee, his son and nephew.  He added because of his previous connections with the mass media, for a week after the incident, police violence against Palestinian Arabs was in the news.

To read the Washington Post story of May 21 on the arrest of Farah, click here.

To read the Haaretz story of Oct. 8 for the latest news of the arrest of Farah, click here.

Chertoff asked Farah to describe Mossawa’s efforts at coordination and communication among the different groups among the different populations of the Arab Palestinians, who are on both sides of the Green Line and other locations.

Farah said that after the Oslo Accords of 1995 for a while, the Palestinians were isolated inside the Green Line and that Hamas and Fatah each thought they could run a state.  Now they understand they don’t run a state but jails “and today they understand much better the importance of the Palestinians inside Israel because we are the only Palestinians that stayed on our homeland.  We have to take into consideration almost on every issue while we have similarities, but also we have different legal frameworks.”

He pointed out that the legal frameworks are different on both sides of the Green Line, for Israeli settlers, for Gazans, for the West Bank and so on.  Then, he said, “(T)here is something inhuman(e) to be Palestinian…and (to) see your home, to see your village and to see your cemetery, to see your land and still you can’t go back and practice the right to go back to this village….(W)e are the only group, only Palestinian that we have the political platform that from the Islamic Movement to the Communist Party and the secular groups, sitting together in one political group called the Joint List….There is an illusion that Israel inside the Green Line is the only democracy in the Middle East.”

Chertoff asked Farah, “Tell us what this (the Nation-State Law) really changes because what you describe is already a de facto and de jure segregation and the kind of oppression and impunity and so what could make it possibly worse?”

In response, Farah said, “We have the dream to be equal.”  He pointed out that before the passage of the Nation-State Law, Israeli case law required equal treatment in housing and said, “There is an article in this law that say(s) that the state should encourage Jewish settlements.”  Another example he pointed out is that by privileging the Hebrew language, “they went and downgraded the Arabic language.”  Near the end of his response to the question, he added, “We would like the next election in Israel to be around which country this will be. (Will) this be the country of occupation, separation, discrimination and humiliation of people, which this is the situation today? Or will it be…a democratic country, a country where there will be peace, reconciliation (and) social justice?”

Chertoff asked Farah to speak about how to talk to the Jewish-Israeli minorities, like the Mizrahim (Jews from the Middle East), Sephardim and Jews from Russia.

Farah said in the case of the Mizrahim and Sephardim who overlap with the Mizrahim, these are people who are not hostile to Arabic or Persian culture and languages, at least for some Sephardim.  They listen to Middle-Eastern music and food; and, they don’t speak Hebrew.  Regarding Jews from Russia and Ethiopia again, they don’t speak Hebrew and some of them hide they are really Christians.

Chertoff then asked how to talk with others about the one-state versus the two-state solution.  He argued for a two-state solution by pointing out a one-state solution abandons the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and gives Netanyahu a way out of the present situation. He said, “Let Netanyahu go the international community and say I am not interested in a two-state solution.”

According to the Jerusalem Post of July 19, the full text of the Jewish-State Basic Law, which passed the night before, reads, “Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people in which the State of Israel was established….The state of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, in which it fulfills its natural, religious, and historic right to self-determination….The fulfillment of the right of national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people….The name of the state is Israel.”

“The flag of the state is white, two blue stripes near the edges, and a blue Star of David in the center….The symbol of the state is the Menorah with seven branches, olive leaves on each side, and the word Israel at the bottom….The national anthem of the state is ‘Hatikvah’ (and)….[(f)urther] details concerning the issue of state symbols will be determined by law.

“[The] unified and complete [city of] Jerusalem is the capital of Israel….Hebrew is the language of the state….The Arabic language has a special status in the state; the regulation of the Arab language in state institutions or when facing them will be regulated by law….This clause does not change the status given to the Arabic language before the basic law was created.

“The state will be open to Jewish immigration and to the gathering of the exiled….The state will labor to ensure the safety of sons of the Jewish people and its citizens who are in trouble and captivity due to their Jewishness or their citizenship….The state will act to preserve the cultural, historical and religious legacy of the Jewish people among the Jewish diaspora….The state views Jewish settlement as a national value and will labor to encourage and promote its establishment and development.

“The Hebrew calendar is the official calendar of the state and alongside it the secular calendar will serve as an official calendar. The usage of the Hebrew calendar and of the secular calendar will be determined by law….Independence Day is the official holiday of the state….The Memorial Day for those who fell in the wars of Israel and the Memorial Day for the Holocaust and heroism are official memorial days of the state….Saturday and the Jewish Holidays are the official days of rest in the state. Those who are not Jewish have the right to honor their days of rest and their holidays….This Basic Law may not be altered except by a Basic Law that gained the approval of the majority of the Knesset members.”

According to the Mossawa Center’s website, the center was established in 1997 and aims to promote the economic, social, cultural and political rights of the Palestinian-Arab citizens in Israel, and the recognition of this community as a national indigenous minority, with their own national, cultural and historical distinctiveness; it also develops programs to promote a democratic society, and acts against all forms of discrimination based on race, nationalism, religious affiliation, social status, gender, and disabilities.

 

 

To LBPD’s Use of TigerText, Long Beach Residents Call for the Firing of City Manager Patrick West and Police Chief Robert Luna

3 Oct
DSC_0315

James Suazo of DSA-LB, with bullhorn, speaks, on Oct. 2 at TigerText, press conference. To Suzao’s left, in front is Dawn Modkins of BLM-LB and to Modkins’s left is Jamie Garcia of Stop LAPD Spying Coalition. Photo by Barry Saks

A press conference, with more than 20 residents attending, outside the Long Beach City Hall, was held, on Tuesday, Oct. 2, to protest the Long Beach Police Department’s previous use of the direct messaging software called TigerText, which deleted LBPD messages among police personnel.

According to the press release, Black Lives Matter LBC (city of Long Beach), Democratic Socialists of America (Long Beach Chapter) and the Stop LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) Spying Coalition organized the press conference.  Among the demands in the press release were the immediate firing of City Manager Patrick West and LBPD Chief Robert Luna.

During public comments, James Suazo, representing DSA-LB, pointed out that the use of such software was an abuse of the public trust and of public funds and said, “(I)n any other kind of situation, this would be immediate grounds for termination (of employment).”

Long Beach resident Jamie Garcia also commented.  Garcia, representing the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, said, “(While) doing our advocacy work…we have come to find out that lot of the city officials (of Los Angeles) are not aware of the technology that LAPD is using and I bring that up because it seems like the same case is happened here in Long Beach, where TigerText app was being used and a lot of the city officials, the community itself were not aware this technology existed and that it was being used by Long Beach PD.”

BLM LBC activist Dawn Modkins also commented.  Modkins listed some of the Long Beach residents of color LBPD killed in 2015.  She then spoke of the unsolved murder of African-American and longshoreman Fredrick Taft, 57, who was murdered and found dead in a bathroom in Long Beach’s Pan American Park.  Regarding Taft’s murder, Modkins said, “It took for community organizing to raise awareness in that community that the murder even happened.  It took a community investigation to learn that the residents asked for a second time in mass numbers, over 300 people who said they wanted an investigation of a hate crime for the murder of Frederick Taft…They (LBPD) only came out the day before we held the community investigation.”

The last two community members who provided public comment were also critical of LBPD.

After public comment, the city council went into closed session for the personnel evaluation of the city manager.

The press conference followed.

Suazo emceed the press conference.  In his opening remarks, he reiterated the seven demands that were given to the city council during public comment.  Regarding LBPD Chief Luna, Suazo said, “We demand the city of Long Beach fire Police Chief Robert Luna immediately.  As the chief of police for Long Beach since November 2014, Chief Luna is responsible for the actions and activities of the Long Beach Police Department in regards to the conduct, training and instructions given to his officers in how they carry out their duties.  Directing his officers to use a technology platform that clearly violates California public records laws as well the rules of evidence is a clear case of malfeasance and we don’t need to pay millions of dollars to an independent firm to figure that out.”

At the end of the press conference, the audience vigorously chanted, “Delete Chief Luna. Delete Pat West.  Cut PD’s budget and reinvest.” and “Deleting evidence with TigerText.  What’ll Chief Luna think of next.”

The city of Long Beach, on Sept. 21, issued a press release.  The first paragraph said, “The City of Long Beach is announcing an independent outside review of the Long Beach Police Department’s use of a direct messaging application called Tiger Connect (TigerText). The review was initiated by the City Manager in partnership with the City Attorney and will consist of an outside firm hired to independently review the use of the messaging application within the Long Beach Police Department.”

The same press release also said, “Of the 291 Police Department-issued mobile devices, the Tiger Connect texting application is installed on 145 mobile devices, including the mobile devices of Command Staff and specialized details such as Homicide and Internal Affairs. For reference, the Police Department has a total of 1,214 employees.

Three days before the city’s press release, with the headline, “TigerText – LBPD’s Illegal Destruction of Evidence,” the Beachcomber, on Sept.18, broke the story.  It said, “In February 2018 a confidential source inside the LBPD informed the Beachcomber that the app was in use by detectives assigned to narcotics, gangs, intelligence and homicide units, including detectives who investigate officer involved shootings.  The source said that when the app was assigned the detectives received no written instruction and were told: ‘The app is to be used in situations where we don’t want the texting information to get out to the public – or to be discoverable.’ Beachcomber research and consultation with a legal scholar confirmed that the LBPD’s use of TigerText in investigations is a violation of Penal Code Section 135, destroying or concealing evidence and Penal Code Section 153, compounding or concealing crimes.”

Hundreds March Against Federal Policies of Separating Immigrant Families and for a ‘Clean’ Long Beach Values Act

3 Jul
DSC_0226

June 30, Long Beach; photo by Barry Saks

More than 1,000 people rallied and marched, on Saturday, June 30, from Caesar Chavez Park to the Glenn M. Anderson Federal Building, which houses offices of the U.S.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 501 W. Ocean Blvd., to protest the Trump Administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their families and to protest locally the exceptions in the Long Beach Values Act, which allows the Long Beach Police Department to turn over previously convicted immigrants to the ICE.

DSC_0187

Nikole Cababa, from the Filipino Migrant Center, emcees pro-immigrant protest, June 30 in Long Beach; photo by Barry Saks

Nikole Cababa, who identified herself as a community organizer for the Filipino Migrant Center, emceed.  In her opening remarks, Cababa said, “We are here because families are being torn apart.  We are here because children, as young as three-years old are being forced to defend themselves in deportation hearings….We are here because parents are left with no choice but to flee their homelands to escape violence and poverty, and yet, they face detention and isolation away from their loved ones.  We are here because there are corporations making humongous profits, imprisoning migrants, refugees, black-and-brown communities and the poor every single day. And we are here to demand this city and all cities across this country to step up to do more for to protect migrants and refugees, and make this city a sanctuary for all.”  She reminded the audience President Obama had deported more than 2.5 million people and argued the migration patterns today, which she called, “forced migration” are a result of U.S. foreign policy toward Central America.  She ended with reiterating the need for the Long Beach City Council to pass a “clean” (meaning without exception to prior criminal convictions) Long Beach Values Act.

DSC_0180

Rev. Cue Jn-Marie speaks at protest at Caesar Chavez Park in Long Beach, June 30; photo by Barry Saks

Cababa introduced Rev. Cue Jn-Marie, which according to the Row Church website is “a former Virgin Records rapper, turned evangelist and activist.”  The Reverend, who said he lived in Long Beach, told the crowd he had just come back from Washington D.C., where he had participated in the Poor People’s Campaign.  He reminded the crowd the original Poor People’s Campaign was started by the Rev. Martin Luther King just before he was assassinated.  The Reverend ended by leading the crowd to the chant: Abolish ICE.

After the Reverend, Alan Lowenthal, the representative from the 47th Congressional District spoke.

 

The Democratic congressman was the only local elected official to speak.

No one from the Long Beach City Council, including the Mayor, responded to a request for comment for this story.

Jedi Jimenez speaks, Saturday, June 30, to pro-immigration protesters in Caesar Chavez Park, Long Beach; photo by Barry Saks

Jedi Jimenez speaks, Saturday, June 30, to pro-immigration protesters in Caesar Chavez Park, Long Beach; photo by Barry Saks

Another speaker was Jedi Jimenez, who said he is the chairperson of Anakbayan Long Beach.  According to the Anakbayan-USA website, Anakbayan believes “that Philippine society today is not truly free (sic) nor democratic. It is under the control of U.S imperialism, along with local landlords, big capitalists, and corrupt gov’t (sic) officials.” Jimenez said, “This country (U.S.) has a long history of settling indigenous children to boarding schools, locking away black and brown youth for life sentences. Six thousand Filipinos are forced to leave their homes every single day…to go abroad.”  Jimenez also called for abolishing ICE.

Lian Cheun speaks on Saturday, June 30, to pro-immgration protesters in Caesar Chavez Park, Long Beach; photo by Barry Saks

Lian Cheun speaks on Saturday, June 30, to pro-immgration protesters in Caesar Chavez Park, Long Beach; photo by Barry Saks

Lian Cheun, who is the Executive Director of Khymer Girls in Action, spoke after Jimenez.  The KGA website characterizes itself as “a community-based organization whose mission is to build a progressive and sustainable Long Beach community that works for gender, racial and economic justice led by Southeast Asian young women.”  Cheun, according to the same website, was “(i)n 2014…appointed to President Obama’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” said, “Long Beach has the largest Cambodian population outside of Cambodia and we came to this country as refugees…Our country (U.S.) has criminalized a lot of acts of survival, a lot acts of poverty in our community….Long Beach City Council finally approved what we know now as the Long Beach Values Act.

“It is a policy that intended to limit our city’s collaboration with ICE and end a role in the deportation of Long Beach residents….However, the city council included certain carve-outs which are loopholes that exclude some immigrants from these protections based off of their past history with the justice system.  These carve-outs mean if an immigrant has one of many particular convictions, city employees will be allowed to turn them over to ICE….There is a…claim that only hardened criminals are being deported and that’s untrue…because we have had folks who have been deported for very minor infractions.”

Cheun also claimed the carve-outs “disproportionally hurt the Cambodian community in Long Beach” and cited ICE statistics that 1,900 Cambodians in the U.S. have deportation orders and more than 1,400 are a result of the carve-outs.
After Cheun spoke, the protesters marched from the park to the Glenn M. Anderson Federal Building, where the protest ended.

One protester was Jillissa Reuteler.  Reuteler, who said she was from Minnesota and was in Long Beach to go on a cruise, said she decided to go to the protest because one was being planned where she was from.  Echoing what was on her tee-shirt, she said, “Abolish ICE.”

Another protester was Barbara Applerose, who said she has an interior-design business in La Habra.  The separation of children from their parents was personal for Applerose.  When she began to speak, she choked up and began to cry.  In a few short moments, her crying turned to anger.  Applerose said the cries of children being taken from their parents reminded her of when her mother left her once for 10 days.  She said, “I think this (separation of immigrant children from their parents) is so wrong….It makes me sick.  It makes me want to throw up. I don’t understand how our country could allow this to happen.”  Applerose added she thought criminal charges should be filed against President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

Barry Saks Reads the Poetry of James Baldwin and Lynn Nottage

22 Jun

I’m using the occasion of a party on Saturday, June 23, in which Marlene and I cannot attend to read two poems to express my solidarity with the folks there.

I must credit Marlene for putting this together.

 

 

But life is also more complicated than we think.  I forgot to show the covers of two small books I read from.  So we needed to re-shoot a little.  The video below was an outtake from the re-shooting.  It put a little smile on my face.

 

 

 

“The Wanted 18,” Which Variety Calls ‘Ingenious’ to Screen in Long Beach

20 Jun

The Middle East Task Force of the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will show on Sunday, June 24, at 4 p.m. at Christ Lutheran Church, 6500 East Stearns St., Long Beach, the film, “The Wanted 18.”

Jay Weissberg, in his film review of Nov. 29, 2014, said, “Only the tragically absurd Israeli-Palestinian situation could transform the simple act of milking cows into a perceived threat to national security, yet that’s the amazing story of Paul Cowan and Amer Shomali’s ingenious documentary…Mixing talking heads, a smattering of archival footage, and smile-inducing claymation (stop-action animation with clay), the helmers (directors) bring to life a time during the First Intifada when the residents of Beit Sahour, in the Occupied Territories, started a dairy collective, highlighting the ridiculous without losing track of the seriousness of all acts of resistance….In 1988…citizens from Beit Sahour decided they were tired of being forced to purchase all dairy supplies from Israel, so they bought 18 cows from a sympathetic kibbutznik.  It was an anomaly on multiple levels: Palestinians have a sheep-raising (not bovine) (sic) culture, and, beyond that, this was a community of academics and professionals, so they sent student Salim Jaber to the U.S. to learn the finer points of milking and animal husbandry.”

To read the Variety review, click here.

The Al-Jazeera review of April 26, 2016 pointed out Beit Sahour was a “predominantly Christian Arab village.”

Cowan is associated with the National Film Board of Canada and has directed nine other films.

Shomali, besides directing the film, narrates.

According to the website of Columbia University’s Center for Palestine Studies, in welcoming Shomali as a visiting artist, Shomali “is a Palestinian multidisciplinary artist, using painting, digital media, films, installations and comics as tools to explore and interact with the Palestinian sociopolitical scene focusing on the creation and the use of Palestinian revolution iconography. He holds a Master’s degree in Animation from the Arts University Bournemouth in the United Kingdom and a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Birzeit University” and that “his work at many exhibitions around the world including France, Belgium, Greece, Tunisia, Germany and Canada.”

According to a PDF flyer for the event, at 6 p.m., a catered Middle Eastern dinner will be available, “free-will offering will be taken (donations accepted), an opportunity “to discuss the film and…current events” and at 7 p.m., there will be a “Prayer Service for Peace.”

According to the website of the Southern California Synod of the ELCA, more than 120 churches comprise the synod, serving the counties of Kern, Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura.

Khaled Bakrawi’s Legacy Continues: Refugee Resource Center Opens

7 Jun

Some months back while my wife and I were traveling, I received an email from the Palestinian Youth Movement, which announced the opening of the Khaled Bakrawi Center in El Cajon, California.  Because we were traveling where we only had at best unreliable access to the internet, I did not read the email until much later after getting home.  While it’s been more than four months since the center’s opening, I’m compelled to write about it.

The Khaled Bakrawi Center, according to the PYM (US) website, “was created for… serving immigrant and refugee youth by teaching various life skills, such as English language, and computer training…. (The) trauma informed services and culturally relevant programs generate a sense of collective healing and community power meant to minimize senses of alienation and loss which often accompanies war trauma and the struggles of exile for these children and youth. There is significance in opening a center catered to immigrant and refugee youth in El Cajon. Since the 1990s, this city, sometimes called ‘Little Baghdad,’ has been a hub for refugees, specifically Iraqi refugees fleeing dictatorship, sanctions, and imperialist wars.”

To read the PYM statement on the opening of the center, click here.

However, what I was most interested was to understand who Khaled Bakrawi was and how he died.  To that end what follows is my attempt at answering those two questions.

Much of Budour Youssef Hassan’s Feb. 18, 2015 piece “Syria’s disappeared Palestinians,” for the Electronic Intifada, is devoted to Khaled Bakrawi.

Hassan said Bakrawi was a prominent activist and co-founder of the Jafra Association for Aid and Development, which works to improve conditions in Palestinian refugee camps in Syria, and as “(a) refugee from Lubya (During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the Israelis destroyed the town and its population was removed.), Bakrawi was active around Palestinian refugee rights well before the (Syrian Arab Spring) uprising began and was shot by Israeli occupation forces in June 2011 during the Naksa Day march to the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.  But after…displaced Syrians sought refuge in Yarmouk, he directed his efforts towards organizing humanitarian aid to them.”

Hassan, who is identified as an anarchist in the same story, also said, from interviews of Bakrawi’s friends, that Syrian security forces arrested Bakrawi in January 2013 and his family did not learn of his death until September.

To read Hassan’s story, click here, click here.

In a Zaman al-Wasl news story, “Khaled Bakrawi: Activist of Unforgettable Chivalry” of Feb. 22, 2015 by Faris al-Rfai with translation by Yusra Ahmed, al-Rfai quotes artist and activist Mohamed Zaghmout from his documentary, “Words about Khaled Bakrawi.” Zaghmout said, ‘Khalid -the camp- (sic) as his friends used to name him was an icon of aid and relief work inside Palestinian camps all over Syria, he participated in funerals, educated youth by (sic) many lectures and supported displaced children.’

To read the news story by Faris al-Rfai in Zaman al-Wasl, click here.  According to the Zaman al-Wasl news website, Fathi Bayoud founded Zaman al-Wasl in Homs, Syria in 2005 and it is “Syria’s leading news site delivering fast, in-depth coverage of the events shaping the war-torn country.”

Khaled Bakrawi Exhibit from the SYRIAN TORTURE VICTIMS Exhibition in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo by Masih Sadat/The Turban Times

The 88-page study, “Palestinians of Syria: Bloody Diary and Unheard Screaming,” by the Action Group for Palestinians in Syria and the Palestinian Return Centre-London, claims Bakrawi was identified as being tortured through leaked photos.  According to the AGPS website, AGPS is “a London-based human rights watchdog that monitors the situation of Palestinian refugees in war-torn Syria” and that “AGPS material is purely fact-based and rooted in real data compiled by a team of professional journalist, on-the-spot reporters, news correspondents, veterans and local activists.”  According to the PRC website, the PRC “is an independent consultancy focusing on the historical, political and legal aspects of Palestinian Refugees (sic).”

To read the study, click here.

According to the PYM announcement of the opening of the center, Bakrawi was 24 when he died.

 

 

JVP-LA to Sen. Harris: Condemn the Killing by Israel

20 May

Fifty people gathered, outside the Los Angeles office of California Sen. Kamala Harris at 11845 W. Olympic Blvd., on Friday, May 18, to mourn the deaths of more than 100 Palestinians the Israeli Defense Forces killed during the weeks of what Palestinians called the Great Return March and to request the senator to end her silence regarding the Israeli violence against the Gazan protesters.

Jewish Voice for Peace – Los Angeles organized the event.

The crowd assembled a short distance from the senator’s office.  Toward the office, they walked on the sidewalk slowly and sung, in Hebrew, solemnly “Ahava V’rachamim Chesed V’shalom,” which means “We are sending love and compassion, kindness and liberating peace.”  The signs they carried read—Stop Killing Protesters in Gaza; Jews say: Let Gaza Live; Senator Harris, End your silence! Condemn the killing of Gaza Protesters.

On arrival outside the office, Dennis Korteuer, who is a member of JVP-LA and a Professor Emeritus from Cal State University Long Beach, read a prepared statement.  It said, “We stand together this evening in mourning for the over 100 Palestinians murdered in Gaza while protesting in the Great March of Return.  Invoking Jewish tradition and ritual, we offer our respect for those killed and love to their grieving families.  In addition, we affirm the right of Palestinians to protest and honor their struggle for the right to return home.  We call on Sen. Harris to end her silence on this week’s horrific events in Gaza and use her leadership to condemn indiscriminate killings and injuries of grassroots protesters and journalists.”

Some of those killed had their names called with their age.  As the names were called, either stones or flowers were placed near the burning Yahrzeit candles.

Barry Saks is a member of JVP.