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BACBI Culture

Newsletter N°51 (March 2020)

BACBI Culture's Website

Painting by Malak Mattar

Malak Mattar, age 20, is an artist of startling originality from the Gaza Strip who paints powerfully expressionist faces, figures, and semi-abstract designs. She first started painting at age 13, during the 51-day Israeli military assault on Gaza in 2014. Forced to stay inside for her own safety, she felt a compelling need to release all of her negative energy - fear, anxiety, and sheer terror. She started painting with art supplies from a government school, basic watercolors on paper. This opened up a world of self-expression for her. In the first two years, Mattar produced over 200 paintings.


Actions and Calls -- Analyses -- Arts, Culture, Heritage -- Corona in oPt -- International -- Israel -- Palestine -- Plan Trump -- Resources -- Videos

Actions & Calls:

Defense for Children International - Palestine (DCIP)


We, the undersigned, demand Israeli authorities take immediate action to release all Palestinian child detainees in Israeli prisons due to the rapid global spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Demand that Israeli authorities take immediate action to release all Palestinian child detainees in Israeli prisons and detention centers due to the increasing vulnerability created due to the rapid global spread of the COVID-19 virus and to safeguard their right to life, survival, development, and health in accordance with international law.
[March 30, 14h: 5,002 people already signed]

Friend, help us slow the spread of the Coronavirus!

We urgently need your support to help avoid catastrophe. The spread of COVID-19 for Palestinians could be catastrophic. We must act now to help slow the spread of the virus. MAP staff are already doing all we can to support local medical services who are serving Palestinian communities living under occupation and as refugees. We have already provided emergency hygiene supplies to 1,200 vulnerable Palestinians living in Gaza. We anticipate further need for an emergency medical response in the weeks and months ahead. Please help us be there for Palestinians during this crisis with a donation today.

MAP's COVID-19 emergency response

While COVID-19 is a threat to us all, without swift action, catastrophe looms for many vulnerable Palestinians. The health services provided for Palestinians are already massively overburdened, with a lack of the most basic medical essentials. The threat of this new virus is dangerously increased for Palestinians by their living conditions, particularly in the refugee camps, where there is severe overcrowding, few hygiene facilities and extremely limited opportunity to effectively self-isolate.

This is why we need your help to slow the spread of the virus
A donation from you can help us save lives!

Samidoun: "Israeli apartheid, COVID-19 and Palestinian prisoners: Freedom now!" (March 17):

Palestinian prisoners and human rights organizations have expressed serious concerns about the threat of coronavirus inside Israeli prisons. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Palestinian prisoners are already suffering from severe conditions of medical neglect and denial of adequate health care. The Israeli response to the coronavirus pandemic has been characterized by the racism and repression inherent in the settler-colonial, apartheid project, denying Palestinian rights and intensifying attacks against the prisoners while failing to provide any meaningful protection against infection.



Sign the petition to stop Israeli killer drones from intensifying the EU's border militarisation.

On 30 th March, Palestine Land Day and the anniversary of the start of the Great March of Return demonstrations in Gaza, a European coalition of NGOs, trade unions and migrant organisations, including ECCP (European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine), has launched a petition to the European Union to stop Israeli drones from intensifying the EU's border militarisation.

Sign the petition here! (EN-FR-NL..).

Joint Statement: "On Land Day Civil Society Urge Accountability and End to Israel's Illegal Closure of Gaza" (March 30, Members of the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council):

Rooted in institutionalised oppression, displacement, and dispossession of the indigenous Palestinian people since 1948, Land Day has come to symbolise Israel's systematic appropriation of Palestinian land and property as part of its prolonged settler-colonial endeavour, which has continued amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic. While COVID-19 continues to spread in Palestine and around the world, with 9 confirmed cases in the Gaza Strip as of 29 March, the organisers of the demonstrations in Gaza have cancelled commemorative events over concerns for Palestinians' health and safety. On both sides of the Green Line, Palestinians have called for a 'digital demonstration' to mark Land Day, whereas civil society groups are organising a livestreamed rally and Twitter storm between 8-10 pm (Palestine time) on 30 March to call for an end to the Gaza closure.


Analyses & Comments:

Neve Gordon, "The Gaza Strip Has Been Under Siege for Years. Covid-19 Could Be Catastrophic" (The Nation, March 25):

"'Dear world, How is the lockdown?' Gaza." Although those who circulated the message wanted to elicit empathy toward close to 2 million imprisoned Palestinians, the attempt to compare the lockdown many Westerners are currently experiencing with the 13-year siege on the Gaza Strip is farcical. Indeed, now that the coronavirus has managed to cross the military checkpoints into that coastal enclave, with two people testing positive, the fallacy of this comparison is likely to become tragically apparent. The intensity of their suffering will not be due to natural causes, but because the military siege has put the people of Gaza at an immense disadvantage in all three categories that are considered vital for combating the virus's dissemination: health services, social determinants of health, and physical distancing.


Philip Weiss, "Coronavirus exposes Israel's political secret (apartheid)" (Mondoweiss, March 29):

Last night I heard Bill Gates explain the correct global public health response to coronavirus on CNN, and realized that one result of the pandemic is that Israel's apartheid moment has arrived. Corona will undermine the long public relations campaign carried on by Israel's friends to prevent a recognition of systematic ethnic discrimination in Palestine.


Hagai El-Ad, "Even under pandemic, Israel can't treat its subjects as equals" (+972, March 30):

A country led by an ethnocentric, racist prime minister has come up against a universal threat that affects all people under its control. In a speech to the nation delivered in mid-March, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu awkwardly tried to address all the people who live under the effective control of his government - a difficult task when the very idea goes against his core beliefs.


Arts, Culture & Heritage:

Henriette Chacar, "Live from quarantined Palestine, it's Radio Alhara" (+972, March 27):

An online radio station playing from the occupied West Bank wants to connect Palestinians - and the world - during a pandemic. At a time when countries are closing their borders to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, an internet radio station playing out of Palestine seeks to create community in the absence of physical presence.


Brigitte Herremans, "De dichter als ziener in de Arabische wereld" (MO*, 21 maart):

Poëzie is troost, poëzie is vermaak, maar vaak is het veel meer dan dat. In het Midden-Oosten en Noord-Afrika maakt poëzie deel uit van het erfgoed. Betogers scanderen verzen tijdens protesten, zangers brengen poëzie naar de huiskamers. Op Wereldpoëziedag delen we graag dit essay van Brigitte Herremans over poëtisch verzet tegen onderdrukking in het MIdden-Oosten.


"An interview with refugee artist Malak Mattar: when paintings have more freedom of movement than people" (UNRWA USA, Jan 23, 2020):

Meet Malak Mattar, a 20-year-old artist and Palestine refugee from the Gaza Strip. While Malak grew up Gaza, her family, like a majority of residents, are refugees from north or east of the Strip's current confines. Her father's side is from Al Jorah, a village by the sea in what is now known as Ashkelon, where her grandparents were once fishermen. Her mother's side hailed from Batani al Sharqi, a coastal village in the south of Palestine, where they were farmers. Forced to flee during the Nakba, her family arrived in Gaza in 1948 and have been refugees there ever since.


Asa Winstanley, "L'artiste palestinien Hafez Omar emprisonné pour le ' crime ' d'avoir inspiré son peuple" (Charleroi pour la Palestine, 29 février):

Aujourd'hui, il croupit peut-être dans une cellule israélienne mais, en 2012, les affiches du graphiste palestinien Hafez Omar enflammaient Internet. Sur Facebook en particulier, ses caricatures brunes, simples, iconiques et anonymes soutenant les prisonniers palestiniens détenus par Israël se diffusaient comme des feux follets.


Nisma Alaklouk: "De Palestijnse vrouw is geen verwende vrouw" (interview door Hadjira Hussain Khan, MO*, 24 maart):

De Palestijns-Belgische schrijfster Nisma Alaklouk schreef de roman "Brusselse Vrouwen", het verhaal van vijf vrouwen die op een keerpunt in hun leven staan. Toen het nog kon, spraken we met Alaklouk af in hartje Brussel voor een gesprek over vrouwelijkheid, seksisme en de Arabische wereld.


Corona in oPt:

David Mills, Bram Wispelwey, Rania Muhareb, Mads Gilbert, "Structural violence in the era of a new pandemic: the case of the Gaza Strip" (The Lancet, Correspondence, March 26, pdf):

As the world is consumed by the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), it should be of no surprise that epidemics (and indeed, pandemics) are disproportionately violent to populations burdened by poverty, military occupation, discrimination, and institutionalised oppression. Structural violence rooted in historical, political, and social injustices determines health patterns and creates vulnerabilities that hamper the effective prevention, detection, and response to communicable disease outbreaks. In the occupied Gaza Strip, the convergence of these forces in the era of a pandemic have the potential to devastate one of the world's most vulnerable populations. The colonial fragmentation of the Palestinian people and their health systems, combined with a neoliberal development framework implemented during the past decades, has created a profound dependency on aid, placing health care at the mercy of increasingly restrictive international donor politics.


Jillian Kestler-D'Amours, "Coronavirus: Doctor warns of 'incoming disaster' in Gaza" (Al-Jazeera, March 26):

Palestinian Canadian physician Tarek Loubani said that in February, when he was last in Gaza, physicians did not have enough gloves, face shields, or M95 protective masks, and many hospitals did not have respirators. "That equipment is key to combatting the virus, which makes it difficult for patients to breathe and often requires their intubation. The most frustrating part about the health system in Gaza is [that] we actually know the answer, and the answer is an immediate end to the blockade, even if for a short period so that we can get through this crisis."


"Coronavirus : la Palestine, confinée, subit de plein fouet les exactions de l'occupation israélienne" (Communiqué AFPS, 24 mars):

Partout dans le monde les populations, les unes après les autres, vivent le confinement pour lutter contre la pandémie. Tous confrontés au même problème, nous ne sommes pas tous dans les mêmes conditions pour y faire face. Des décennies d'occupation font que des millions de Palestiniens vivent dans des conditions de surpeuplement et des conditions sanitaires déplorables. Que ce soit dans les camps de réfugiés, dans la Bande de Gaza ou dans les prisons israéliennes, bien plus que d'autres ils sont à la merci de ce virus et sont démunis pour y faire face.


Hazem Balousha & Oliver Holmes, "Can Gaza cope with Covid-19 after years under lockdown?" (The Guardian, March 23):

As countries shut borders, enforced curfews and suspended much of daily life, Gaza - under a blockade for years - was somewhat isolated from the coronavirus pandemic. But as it has with so much of the rest of the world, Covid-19 found a way. Gaza's healthcare system was collapsing even before the pandemic, Michael Lynk, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in the Palestinian territories, warned last week.


Shlomo Eldar, "As coronavirus spreads to Gaza, Israel can offer little" (Al-Monitor, March 27):

The idea of the coronavirus striking the battered and impoverished Gaza Strip and leaving a trail of destruction in its wake was once considered a nightmare scenario. Now, it is starting to look real. On March 26, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Gaza rose to nine, but authorities in Israel and the Gaza Strip are concerned that this is not the real number.


Yumna Patel, "Dispatch from Bethlehem: A glimmer of hope after two weeks under lockdown" (Mondoweiss, March 20):

Mondoweiss correspondent Yumna Patel lives in Bethlehem, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Palestine. Here she paints a picture of what daily life looks like in the city, the emotions of the people, and her own personal thoughts and fears. [This email will be published twice a week: subscribe].


Suha Arraf, "Comment un cordonnier palestinien a lancé une fabrique de masques" (Charleroi pour la Palestine, 23 mars):

Ce qui a débuté comme une expérience du cordonnier quelques jours après l'apparition du coronavirus en Cisjordanie s'est mué aujourd'hui en une entreprise produisant quotidiennement des milliers de masques.


Suha Arraf, "The moment a worker is sick, they throw him to the checkpoint like a dog" (+972, March 24):

Palestinian laborers suspected of having coronavirus are being dropped off at a West Bank checkpoint with no regard for their health or safety. What happens to Palestinian laborers in Israel who are suspected of contracting the novel coronavirus?



Michael Arria, "Warren, Van Hollen lead US Senators in demanding Trump admin send aid to Palestine amid COVID-19 crisis" (Mondoweiss, March 27):

A group of Senators has sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging the administration to supply Gaza and the West Bank with much-needed humanitarian aid. There are already at least 50 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the West Bank and multiple individuals have tested positive for the virus in Gaza. "Given the spread of the coronavirus in the West Bank and Gaza, the extreme vulnerability of the health system in Gaza, and the continued withholding of U.S. aid to the Palestinian people, we are concerned that the Administration is failing to take every reasonable step to help combat this public health emergency in the Palestinian Territories," reads the letter.


Steve France, "An unlikely nemesis: maverick lawyer sues Israel supporters over human rights" (Mondoweiss, March 2):

Maybe it figures that the people who successfully sold otherwise-intelligent Americans on the notion that their army (the Israeli Defense Force) was "the most moral army in history" could in the end be brought down by a maverick lawyer such as Martin McMahon.


"RDC : déclaration d'amour de Félix Tshisekedi à Israël, les raisons d'un revirement" (tvmonde, 4 mars):

C'est une scène surprenante. Ce 1er mars, le président de la République démocratique du Congo, Félix Tshisekedi, se tient sur le podium du congrès de l'AIPAC (American Israel Affairs Comitee), le groupe de pression pro-israélien, à Washington. Il est venu annoncer de manière très solennelle la reprise des relations diplomatiques de haut niveau de son pays avec Israël.


Israel :

Oren Ziv, "If pandemic hits, unrecognized Bedouin villages could 'become like northern Italy'" (+972, March 30):

Denied basic services, the Naqab's unrecognized villages are not equipped to deal with the coronavirus - and the Israeli government is not stepping in. The unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Naqab/Negev in southern Israel are facing a crisis in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, say residents and activists. "We are living in fear and panic," says Aziz Abu Mdeghem, a resident of Al-Araqib, which Israeli authorities have demolished 175 times over the past 10 years. "We have no way of protecting ourselves from the coronavirus. We cannot store food, and there is nowhere nearby where we can wash our hands all the time, because there's no running water." ... Meanwhile, as of last Monday, Israeli authorities were still carrying out home demolitions and destroying crops belonging to unrecognized Bedouin villages, despite the state of emergency.


Richard Silverstein, "Israeli Defense Minister Recommends Scoring Individuals Based on Likelihood of Having Coronavirus, Blockading Palestinian, Ultra Orthodox to Protect Israeli Jews" (Tikun Olam, March 29):

NOTE: I have compiled here the most comprehensive coverage of Israel's response to the Coronavirus epidemic in terms of cyber-tools being used and their impact on human rights. A full list of my related posts is here. Please read and disseminate on social media platforms. Israel's interim defense minister, Naftali Bennett, has released a .ministry plan for fighting Covid-19.  Among its recommendations is one that offers yet another alarming violation of individual rights


Sylvain Cypel, "Israël. Le coronavirus au secours de Nétanyahou" (Orient XXI, 24 mars):

Yossi Verter, chroniqueur politique du quotidien Haaretz dresse son bilan sur les trois semaines écoulées depuis les élections législatives du 2 mars : "Tenir son pays en otage, jouer sur la peur des citoyens, exploiter la crise du coronavirus à des fins d'extorsion politique, prêcher l'unité tout en semant la division et la haine, éroder la démocratie sous couvert de sécurité nationale" ...


Haggai Matar, "Gantz chooses Netanyahu's incitement over Arab-Jewish partnership" (+972, March 26):

Benny Gantz could have made history by forming a minority government with the support of the Palestinian parties. Instead he dismantled his own political camp and joined his rival. Benny Gantz had three choices before him. He could have betrayed his voters by reneging on his central campaign promise of being an alternative to PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Alternatively, he could have betrayed his second campaign promise to not rely on the Joint List to form a minority government. Or lastly, he could have taken Israel to a fourth election.


Dahlia Scheinlin, "Fool me once: Did the Joint List make a mistake backing Benny Gantz?" (+972, March 27):

Grounded in Arab-Jewish partnership, the Joint List's impact on Israeli society lies well beyond what the next government may look like. Jewish citizens can no longer dismiss the Joint List, or Arab-Palestinian citizens in general, as agents who help shape Israel's executive power. They will begin to normalize the idea that an Arab party will join such a government, which, I've argued, should have happened years ago. Some Jewish Israelis view the political future differently already: by most analyses, Jewish votes for Joint List as much as doubled from the earlier rounds. For them, the Joint List was no longer sectorial, but represented solidarity and partnership they seek for Israel in the future.


Jonathan Cook, "'Foolish and naive': How the Joint List got it all wrong for ever believing Benny Gantz" (J.C., April 1):

Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party, abandoned the central plank of his platform at the weekend - that he would never sit in a coalition with Benjamin Netanyahu, who has led Israel continuously for the past 11 years. So why is Gantz now sitting in a government with a man he supposedly despises - one that Haaretz this week called "the king of corruption" - rather than leading a majority government of his own? There is only one honest answer: racism. Gantz and his bloc may passionately hate Netanyahu and his megalomaniacal style of politics, but they detest with even greater intensity, it seems, one faction of their majority bloc: the Joint List.


Palestine Occupied:

B'TSELEM: "During the Coronavirus crisis, Israel confiscates tents designated for clinic in the Northern West Bank" (March 26):

Thursday, 26 March 2020, at around 7:30 am, officials from Israel's Civil Administration in the West Bank arrived with a military jeep escort, a bulldozer and two flatbed trucks with cranes at the Palestinian community of Khirbet Ibziq in the northern Jordan Valley. They confiscated poles and sheeting that were meant to form 8 tents, two for a field clinic, and 4 for emergency housing for residents evacuated from their homes, and two as makeshift mosques...

Jordan Valley Solidarity: "Palestinian health clinic demolished in midst of Covid 19 outbreak" (March 26):

As the world battles Covid 19 the Israeli occupation is putting the lives of Palestinians in the Jordan Valley at risk. On 26 March the village of Khirbet Ibziq was raided by the Israeli army. The local health clinic used by visiting field ambulances was destroyed along with the home of Abdul Majeed Khidirat and his family. They also confiscated a further 8 tents from the village. On the same day occupation forces demolished three homes in the village of Duyuk Al Tahta, near Jericho.

Fareed Taamallah, "Israel is using coronavirus to implement the deal of the century" (Middle East Eye, March 27):

The global spread of coronavirus has necessitated movement restrictions around the world, including in Israel and Palestine. As the occupying state, Israel controls all entrances to and exits from the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Last week, it closed off Palestinian-administered areas under the pretext of "limiting the spread" of coronavirus. Bethlehem has been fully locked down for weeks. It is clear to Palestinians that Israel is taking advantage of Covid-19, exploiting the West Bank lockdown to accelerate the annexation of Palestinian land, while allowing Israeli settlers to attack Palestinian civilians - further complicating Palestinian efforts to combat the pandemic.


"OPt COVID-19 Response Plan" (Summary, OCHA, March 27):

The 'COVID-19 Response Plan' for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) presents the joint strategy of the humanitarian community, including UNRWA, to respond to the public health needs and immediate humanitarian consequences of the pandemic in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. The primary focus of the plan continues to be prevention, preparedness and treatment of the the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.


Plan Trump:

Ramona Wadi, "There will be no sustainability for the Palestinians without their legitimate right of return" (MEMo, March 3):

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) remains in perpetual financial crisis. Spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna has warned that apart from a possible cessation of services by May, there are no funds for emergency programmes in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Only $125 million has been received by the Agency so far, despite pledges of $299 million in total. To be able to operate successfully in 2020, UNRWA needs over $1.4 billion.


"Nous, anciens ministres européens, sommes gravement préoccupés par le plan américain pour le conflit israélo-palestinien" (Le Soir, 27 février)

" De la paix à la prospérité " n'est pas une feuille de route pour une solution viable à deux États, ni pour toute autre solution légitime au conflit. Le plan envisage une formalisation de la réalité actuelle dans le territoire palestinien occupé, dans lequel deux peuples vivent côte à côte sans droits égaux. [avec liste des signataires]



Voorverkoop van het boek "Het zionistische project Israël, etnisch zuiver, of binationaal gidsland," door Paul Lookman (ca 300 blz.):

Is het 'beloofde land' niet eerder een gestolen land? Trumps Deal of the Century luidt de doodsklok over het Palestijnse recht op zelfbeschikking. Het boek toont aan dat de deal geen lang leven beschoren zal zijn, en draagt interessante alternatieven aan. Auteur Paul Lookman (zijn website: "Geopolitiek in context") wil het boek zélf uitgeven en roept de hulp in van het publiek. "Het boek komt naar verwachting in juni dit jaar uit als tenminste 50 lezers het vóór publicatie te bestellen, door:
§ 30 euro per boek over te schrijven op mijn speciale rekening BE91 9733 8390 1176 ten name van Paul Lookman, Beringen (België); § mij hun adresgegevens en verzendingsvoorkeur te mailen naar"

Streefdoel: 1.500 euro; voorverkoop eindigt 15 april 2020; stand per 30/3: 810,00 euro. Nog slechts 16 dagen tot de deadline! Krijg ik geen 50 vooruitbestellingen, dan laat ik het boek niet verschijnen en krijgt eenieder zijn vooruitbetaling terug. Verdere info: klik hier.

'palestine'  - Bulletin de l'Association belgo-palestinienne N° 83 (Janvier-Février-Mars 2020, 47p.):

Édito: "L'ultime forfait de M.Trump" par P.Galand - Dossier: "Les nouveaux ressorts de la propagande israélienne" - Étiquetage: l'UE et le droit international fustigés par la droite israélienne - La Loi État-Nation - Plan Trump - Mouvement des femmes - Réfugiés palestiniens en Belgique - BDS- Focus sur la société civile palestinienne - Livres. 

Nayrouz Qarmout ,"The Sea Cloak & Other Stories", transl. by Perween Richards, Comma Press (2019), ISBN-13-9781905583782, 2019, 192p., £8.75.

Review by Selma Dabbah (The Electronic Intifada, March 24, 2020), "Savoring small morsels of beauty." Nayrouz Qarmout describes Gaza - the territorial center of this finely written collection of short stories - as being like "a young girl, yet to learn the art of elegance." The collection spans out to capture other geographies of Palestinian existence, in Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, Tel Aviv, Paris and Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, where Qarmout grew up.



Palestine Is Occupied, Segregated, And About To Face COVID-19 (The Real News)

Israel arrests Palestine health workers fighting the Coronavirus (Middle East Monitor)

Belgian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel

Committee: Prof. Karel Arnaut (KU Leuven), Prof. ém. Marie-Christine Closon (UCL), Prof. Patrick Deboosere (VUB), Prof. Lieven De Cauter (KULeuven), Em. Prof. Herman De Ley (UGent), Em. Prof. Marc De Meyere (UGent), Prof. Serge Deruette (UMons), Lieve Franssen (dir. Brussels Brecht-Eislerkoor), Carl Gydé (director CAMPO), Prof. Perrine Humblet (ULB), Prof. Marc Jacquemain (ULiège), Em. Prof. Madeline Lutjeharms (VUB), Raven Ruëll (metteur en scène), Prof. ém. Christiane Schomblond (ULB), Dr. Nozomi Takahashi (UGent), Prof. Karin Verelst (VUB).


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