Tag Archives: Isreal

From top: members of Mahapach-Taghir; volunteer Nasreen Yassin (left) with Bairbre Flood

‘Learning To Change in Israeli and Palestinian Communities

A radio documentary premiering this weekend by Bairbre Flood on a grassroots, feminist, Jewish-Arab organisation that works for social change through education and community empowerment.

Bairbre writes:

‘It’s in the community, it deals with women, students and children; and it deals with Jewish and Arab, so I cannot find a more holistic way to make a change here in my society.’

– Fida Nara, the Palestinian co-director of Mahapach-Taghir

Influenced by a huge student strike twenty years ago in Jerusalem, Mahapach-Taghir (change in Hebrew-Arabic) was founded after students reached out to community members in a marginalised neighbourhood in the city, and with the residents set up an after-school program for children.

The learning centre they started for the children soon became a hub for community activism as parents gradually became involved – a key part of Mahapach-Taghir’s approach to community organisation.

As one of the women in the Yafa, Nazareth group told me:

‘I feel like they really hear me, really talk with me and they respect me. It’s a partnership; it’s dialogue. It’s not like ‘we have our program and this is what will happen,’ – that’s how it’s different here.’

Currently Mahapach-Taghir works with over 600 children and families, and 140 university students throughout Israel. Their emphasis is on strengthening bonds within each area, and creating links between the different communities.

I visited groups in Nazareth, Tamra, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (they also have a group in Maghar, a mostly Druze town in Northern Israel) and every group – whether Palestinian or Jewish – spoke of how they valued getting to know the other community.

‘Meeting Jewish women changed us,’ as another of the women in the Yafa, Nazareth group put it. Yafa (or Yafa an-Nasriyye) is part of the Nazareth municipality, and they’ve campaigned on a number of issues over the years, and set up initiatives such a women’s savings scheme – a way for the women to become more financially independent.

The coordinator of the group, Mona Arok, started attending a university course through her work with Mahapach-Taghir; in spite of huge opposition from her husband and family to stay in the home.

‘I realised that I’m raising five daughters. I realised they are the future in the community,’ she told me. ‘And if I go back now, [leave the university course] it will destroy them. So from them I took the energy to continue.’

She smiles broadly. ‘And now my husband came with me to the women’s protest in Tel Aviv. It’s amazing that I succeeded to do this change with him and with my family.’

When Mona began her work in the community there were seven women in the group; now there are more than forty.

‘I don’t decide alone,’ she said. ‘It’s important to talk to them as equals. Not from above, because women will think: you are living in your high palace and we are the poor people and you don’t really feel our pain, and what we need.’

‘I see a lot of leadership inside the women’, Mona continued. ‘I want them to decide the future of Mahapach. I want them to lead the work that I do here today.’

This excitement about learning is also evident while visiting Tamra, a mostly Arab town about an hours drive from Nazareth. I meet Suwad, who was given a scholarship – ‘like something gold’ – through Mahapach-Taghir.

‘This opportunity for learning changed my life,’ she said. ‘Now I am fifty-two years old, I think when I’m coming to the studying I feel like something was lost from me – and I found it.’

Another of the volunteer tutors, Nasreen Yassin, a young student at Haifa University, told me how working here helps her feel connected to her community.

‘I believe if I want to change something in the community I should begin with the children who surround me,’ she said.

Houria Abu Nimir, has prepared food for everyone. She’s a science teacher in the local school, and she tells me they can discuss political issues with the children in Mahapach-Taghir which they can’t do in the school.

‘We ask them what have you heard in the news, and give them the opportunity to say what they feel and think about it,’ Houria said. ‘It’s very important to understand your identity as a Palestinian who lives in Israel…and that you have enough time to talk to someone about it.’

Around 20% of Israeli’s are Palestinian, and while they have full voting rights and equal citizenship like any other Israeli, there are issues around racism and identity.

Lima Hajiah, is a young Palestinian student who volunteers in Yad Eliyahu – a mostly Jewish neighbourhood in Tel Aviv. She tells me how it’s important for her, as a Palestinian, to be here with the kids.

‘Most of the children might never have communicated with a Palestinian,’ she said. ‘This could be the first time for them to get to know each other as Jewish and Palestinian, and what this means to co-operate here together.’

Rachel, one of the mothers, is part of a new women’s group which is just setting up. They haven’t decided exactly what they’re going to focus on, and are in the early stages of brainstorming with each other.

‘I want my son to learn with me how to give back to the community,’ she tells me. ‘We want to see a change. We want to see improvement.’

Another mother, Tickva, said that meeting other women – whether Palestinian or Jewish, gives her new ideas.

‘If they share similar kind of problem,’ she said. ‘How they deal with that, what kind of solutions that they find…it’s interesting.’

The next day, in the Florentine neighbourhood of Tel Aviv I meet with Zehava Aknin and Dvora Levian, women in their sixties who’ve been volunteering for years in their community.

‘I work with religion people, not religion people. With women, kids, old people…with everyone,’ Zehava laughs.

Dana Zarif, the coordinator for this area translates for us, and she explains that the previous evening they’d a similar learning community in Florentine as in Yad Eliyahu where they help children with school work. ‘They also visit old people,’ she adds. ‘If I can help, I help,’ Dvora said. ‘It’s good for the heart.’

Devora also feels it’s important that the group is mixed.

‘They Arab want to live,’ she said. ‘We Jewish want to live, in not war, just peace. We want together speaking with each other – and meeting each other.’

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Independent Senator Frances Black speaks in the Seanad on the Control of Economic Activities (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 last January;  Lawyers John ReynoldTom Moerenhout

On July 11, The Seanad will vote on Frances Black’s proposed legislation to prohibit trade with settlements in occupied territories.

The Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 does not mention Israel and the Palestinian territories but will make it an offence “for a person to import or attempt to import settlement goods”.

Ahead of this, a legal opinion – drafted by Tom Moerenhout, of the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, and John Reynolds, of Maynooth University – shows why “it is not just possible but compulsory” for Ireland to do this under international law.

From Tom and John’s summary (full opinion with footnotes at link below):

International law mandates a prohibition on the importation of goods and services coming from settlements in occupied territories, and the exportation of goods and services to settlements in occupied territories.

Ireland would fulfil its obligation under international law by withholding from trade with settlements.

This trade prohibition is not a sanction. It is a rectification of an error in international economic relations between the State of Ireland and the State of Israel.

Trade with settlement enterprises that primarily benefits the economy of the occupying power has never been allowed under international law. The same applies to the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara

The obligation to withhold from trading with settlements arises from the Duties of Non-recognition and Non-assistance, which are activated because of the violation of peremptory norms of international law (jus cogens) by Israel in its settlement activity.

In particular: the obstruction of the right to self-determination, the acquisition of territory by the use of force, the violation of fundamental norms of international humanitarian law and the application of Apartheid;

This mandate to withhold from trading with settlements applies, at the same time, to the European Union as a whole and all of its Member States individually.

Member states do not only have the right, but the obligation to act on their own account. Ireland can only be in accordance with its obligations under international law if it withholds from trade with settlements

Prohibiting settlement trade does not constitute a trade measure and is not in violation of the exclusive competence for common commercial policy of the European Commission.

This measure is taken in response to obligations laid down in the International Law Commission Articles on State Responsibility. These obligations are customary, self-executing and of an erga omnes status. This means they do not require United Nations Security Council authorisation and they apply immediately to individual states.

EU law invites member states to file a complaint before the Court of Justice of the European Union when the European Commission or other institutions of the Union fail to act in accordance with the EU treaties, which incorporate international law.

The EU in its Regulation on Imports also allows Member States to deviate from the Common Commercial Policy for reasons of public morality.

Prohibiting trade with settlements does not violate World Trade Law. Article XXVI.5.(a) of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), including its negotiation history, confirms that GATT does not apply to illegal settlements….

Legal Obligations With Respect To” Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018

Screenshot: Oireachtas.ie

dance1 dance2


“We are very proud of our Irish culture and dance and are excited to see that it has spread throughout the entire world and that people everywhere want to celebrate Irish culture,”Why should we starve these people of their enjoyment of Irish dance just because they live in a country whose politics we do not agree with?
“…War crimes and atrocities are happening all over the world and maybe Irish dancing and this feis will ease the pain and suffering of some of the good people that live in these countries that have NOTHING to do with these war crimes.”

Statement from The Carey Academy Israel

Irish dancers urged to boycott Israeli Feis by Palestinian supporters (Frances Mulraney, Irish Central)


Mark Malone writes:

“A map of Gaza, a defacto open air prison and currently being bombed and droned, superimposed onto map of Dublin and its surrounds…”

Palestinians say death toll over 70 as Israel pounds Gaza with air raids (Guardian)

Via Mapfrappe



Thanks Mark



Protestors including Sinn Fein TD Sean Crowe (above left) with Sinn Fein Cllr Chris Andrews condemning the continuing shelling of Gaza outside Leinster House, Dublin this afternoon.

(Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland)



Allan Sørensen  writes:

90331182academia[Academics for Palestine, top at Buswells Hotel, Dublin this morning and the group’s logo

Irish academic researchers have collaborated in EU-funded projects with Israeli counterparts who make drones, develop high-tech weapons and engage in “counter-terror” activities with the Mossad, according to publicly available EU documents examined by members of Academics for Palestine (AfP), a new organisation launched this morning in Dublin.

In all, according to AFP, Irish universities have “collaborated with Israel in 257 projects to date, seven of them listed as “security” and  13 as “aerospace”.

These included:

*Researchers at the University of Limerick collaborated with an Israeli security company, Athena GS3-Security Implementations Ltd, on an EU-funded programme worth almost €4 million from April 2009 to March 2011. (The project researched digital support systems for first responders.) Athena, on its website, claims to be a world leading counter-terror advisory group with indigenous expertise from the Mossad and other elite Israeli counter terrorist units.

* UL also partnered with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). IAI are key players in the development of security and surveillance for Israel’s separation wall, deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

* Other academics, at Trinity College Dublin, have worked with Israeli drone manufacturers Elbit Security Systems and two other Israeli firms in an airport security project, still ongoing, and on a separate project with Israel’sInternational Security and Counter-Terrorism Academy.

* Researchers at University College Cork coordinated a recently completed counter-terrorism project to improve the detection of traces of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) alongside Israel’s major weapons developer, Technion.

138 Irish academics have signed a pledge, organised by AFP, to boycott such collaboration with Israeli institutions “until Palestinian rights are respected.”

The signatories include Seamus Deane, Ailbhe Smyth, Luke Gibbons, Ronit Lentin, Joe Cleary, Kieran Allen, Kathleen Lynch, Tadhg Foley, Terrence McDonough and Helena Sheehan. At least one of the signatories has previously withdrawn from an EU-funded project because of Israeli involvement. Full list here.

AIrish Academics Pledge Boycott Of Israel (Academics For Palestine)

Thanks Fat Frog

 (Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland)


A day after the platform was published without the recognition of Jerusalem, the line was reinstated. Pressure had been building over not only the dropping of that statement – which was part of the Democratic party platform in 2008 – but also the removal of any reference to God in the document. Those omissions threatened to alienate both Jewish Democratic supporters and Christian swing voters. But the reintroduction of the lines was equally controversial; its clumsy handling resulting in a confusing vote and booing on the convention floor.


Democratic Convention Erupts Over Reinstatement Of Jerusalem Policy (Guardian)




Denmark has demanded an explanation from the Israeli government for video footage showing a senior Israeli army officer striking a Danish activist in the face with an M16 rifle, an act which has been sharply criticised by the Israeli prime minister, president and chief of staff.

Andreas Ias, 20, was part of a large group of European pro-Palestinian activists cycling near Jericho on Saturday when, according to Palestinian media reports, the IDF stopped the participants. Israel said the protesters were attempting to block the road.

Israeli Soldier Clubs Danish Protester With Rifle (Guardian)