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Teen Murders: There is a Way out…

Official statistics have revealed that over 1500 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli occupation forces since September 2000.  It is the equivalent of one Palestinian child killed by Israel every three days for almost 13 years. The number of children injured by the Israelis since the start of 2000 has now reached 6,000. Almost half of the Palestinian population is under the age of 18. (Source: Middle East Monitor).

   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGirls on their way to school in the troubled Palestinian city of Hebron in the West Bank. They are accompanied to and from their school daily by ecumenical workers. Israeli settlers marked the steps to the school in Israeli national colours.

Moreover, hundreds of Palestinian children are detained under circumstances that violates international law. The chilling documentary “Stone Cold Justice” on ABC Australia TV suggests that Israel targets Palestinian youth (as the upcoming generation) in particular. To view click here, but please note that viewer discretion is advised.

What is the bottom line in this horrible time of atrocious teen murders in Israel and in Palestine? In his latest book, Dr Mitri Raheb, a Palestinian theologian from Bethlehem makes a courageous point:

Sometimes, when I hear some Jewish people talk, I fell as if they speak with a monopoly on victimhood. And sometimes I feel that some Palestinians feel that they must compete with the Jews over who is the greater victim….Playing the role of victim might assist those who are oppressed gain some sympathy but not necessarily respect. (2014. Faith in the Face of Empire.)

What I find amazing and inspiring, are the voices from within Palestine – those who have been oppressed in so many ways for decades without meaningful intervention by the world. From within their suffering they show us the way to respect, honor and dignity. They take the lead where world powers fail. The question is: Will we listen and more importantly, will we act?

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For such a time as this, what is required? Says Rev.Dr. Naim Ateek, founder and president of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem:

For the last three months, approximately 200 Palestinian administrative detainees have been on a hunger strike to protest their detention without charge or trial.

On May 15, 2014, on Nakba day, a few weeks before the kidnapping of the three young Israelis, the Israeli army killed two Palestinian teenagers near Ramallah in cold blood.

On Monday evening, June 30, the Israeli army found the bodies of the three missing Israeli teenagers. On Tuesday morning, July 1, the Israeli army killed a 16 year old Palestinian in Jenin and some settlers tried to snatch a 9 year old boy in Beit Hanina, but he was rescued by his mother and some passersby. Early Wednesday morning July 2, settlers kidnapped a 17 year old boy from Shufat, killed him and burned his body. In addition, over the last two weeks over 10 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army some of them quite young and over 500 detained and hundreds injured.

We grieve with all the families – Palestinians and Israelis. We condemn the killings whether by the Israeli army, the unruly settlers, extremist Palestinians or unknown suspects. We uphold the sanctity of all human life Israeli as well as Palestinian, Jew as well as Muslim, Muslim as well as Christian.

For those who have eyes to see, all the killings that have taken place were senseless and the major culprit is the right-wing Israeli government. Its policy has been a total rejection of peace on the basis of the demands of international law. It refuses to share the land and accept a sovereign Palestinian state on only 22% of historic Palestine that is willing to live in peace next to Israel. The government of Israel believes that it can turn back the wheels of history and create an ethnic/religious state. It believes that it can impose its will on the Palestinians because it possesses the military power and the technology that is needed.

This cannot happen. It is on the wrong side of history. History itself is against it, not only the Palestinians. The future of the world is for multi-ethnic, multiracial, and multi-religious communities living together. History is for diversity and not for uniformity. Israel’s right wing government is the culprit. It is responsible; it is the offender. It is cheating the Israeli and Palestinian youths of life because it is charting an ethnic and racist course of history that is untenable.

The good people of Israel, Palestine, and the international community must put a stop to this madness. Long ago Jesus quoted the Psalmist saying, “The meek will inherit the land.” The meek are the people of the land and they are the Israelis and the Palestinians, but they are not the arrogant exclusivists of this world. The exclusivists will eventually pass away and someday new leaders will emerge, an Israeli Abraham Lincoln, or an Israeli De Klerk who will lead Israel to peace based on sharing the land where every person – man and woman, Israeli and Palestinian – will live as equal citizens with human dignity.

We call on our Palestinian sisters and brothers to continue resisting every act of injustice with nonviolent action; our religious leaders, Muslim and Christian, to raise the prophetic voice against injustice and oppression; and the Palestinian Authority to remain steadfast in its commitment to a unified government.

If the Israeli government wants peace, it must be transformed. It needs to believe in the power of peace that is based on justice and equality. For such a time as this, Israeli leaders need the courage and the will to do the following:

  1. They need to realize that violence can only beget violence and that despair can only beget desperate actions. Therefore the state must stop the cycle of violence and the cycle of vengeance.
  2. They need to address the root causes of the problems: racist laws, the military occupation, and the illegal settlements.
  3. They need to stop all collective punishments, arbitrary killings, and extra judicial executions and let the rule of law take its due course. It is unjust to punish innocent persons for the actions of a suspected few.
  4. They need to work with the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority to find the resolution of the conflict on the basis of international law that will guarantee the needs of peace and security for both Israel and Palestine.

We lament the inaction of world leaders in the face of the entrenchment of the occupation. They need to realize that ultimately the resolution of the conflict requires outside intervention. World powers helped create the conflict and world powers must help resolve it.
For such a time as this, “He told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

Israeli-soldiers-guard-Pa-007Israeli soldiers stand guard over Palestinian children arrested in the West Bank city of Hebron. Photograph: Abed Al Hashlamoun/EPA

Dr. Mitri Raheb argues that freedom is the very thing that the people in the Arab world yearn for, but what they have, are systems of fear:

There will be no true Arab Spring in the Middle East until we break out from the bondage of the security state as well as of oppressive “divine rights” to a wide open space where human lives and security are protected, where freedom is free to blossom, and where human rights become sacred.

My perspective is that all is interconnected and therefore we have the task of dissolving systems of fear within and around us. Along with this spiritual task, we have the responsibility to amplify voices of reason, and to lobby our religious leaders, politicians and the business world to stop the injustices.

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Start acting by appealing to the BBC to highlight the more than 1,500 Palestinian children killed by the Israeli ‘Defence’ Force since 2000, and to appeal for restraint and peacemaking rather than condoning ‘Inevitable’ Collective Death Sentence!” on Change.org: click here.

 

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We are not happy with South Africa’s politicians

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Leaders of South Africa’s Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities have called on their followers to join a “Procession of Witness” from District Six to Parliament on Saturday 19 April 2014 to demand:

“A change in the practice and behaviour of all parliamentarians, captains of industry and commerce; and

“That all those, in all sectors of society, who have influence and power, return to Nelson Mandela’s way of governance and leadership: governance that was not threatened by healthy social discourse; governance that was always mindful of the plight of the poor and the marginalized; governance that took seriously its responsibility to all people who have given leaders their trust.”

When Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town announced the procession, he was supported by Maulana Abdul-Khaliq Allie, secretary-general of the Muslim Judicial Council, and Christian leaders including the national moderator of the Uniting Reforming Church of Southern Africa and president of the World Council of Churches, the Revd Dr Mary-Anne Plaatjies-van Huffel.

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The Union of Orthodox Synagogues also sent a message of support, as did the Western Cape moderator of the Ned Geref Kerk, Dr. Braam Hanekom.

in defense of the role of the Public Protector and to express their concern over other issues affecting Cape Town communities.

The procession will begin at 10 am on Saturday at Keizersgracht, District Six.

Archbishop Makgoba said that “while the Procession is open to all, including members of political parties, it will be led by religious leaders and no party political banners will be permitted.”

The Procession route, from Keizergracht in District Six to Parliament, is quite short so it should be possible for most people with moderate levels of fitness to participate. The maximum time for the entire event should be three hours, but it is likely to be less than this.

Other Christian leaders who joined the call included Bishop Michel Hansrod, head of the Cape district of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa; Bishop Margaret Vertue of the Anglican Diocese of False Bay; the Revd Lucas Plaatjie, moderator of the Cape synod of the Uniting Reforming Church; the Revd Michael Muller, moderator of the Presbytery of the Western Cape of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa; and Dr Johan Botha, scribe of the Uniting Reformed Church.

The full text of Archbishop Makgoba’s statement follows:

Some weeks ago, a number of us gathered on the steps of St George’s Cathedral where our predecessors stood during the apartheid era. There we stood in silence under the banner, “A Flower for Thuli, A Message for the President”, referring to the Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, and her report on the upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s private residence at Nkandla.

Our placards called on the president to respond to the Public Protector’s report and on the public to defend our “Chapter Nine” institutions – the independent institutions set up under the South African Constitution to guard our democracy.

Speaking in the Cathedral afterwards, I voiced my yearning for the entire faith-based and NGO community to come together not so much to defend the Public Protector as an individual as to defend the rights of the public and the integrity of her office, which appears to be under assault from forces including many members of Parliament.

After wider consultations led by the Dean, we have decided to pluck up the courage that the times demand of us and to invite the people of Cape Town to join us on a Procession of Witness from District Six to Parliament, with the aim of calling upon our leaders to live up to the national values established by the Constitution.

Although this is primarily a response to the crisis in government presented by the worrying developments surrounding the Chapter Nine institutions and especially those concerning the Office of the Public Protector, we are also responding to the plight of communities ravaged by gangsterism, drug abuse and poor education.

And while the Procession is open to all, including members of political parties, it will be led by religious leaders and no party political banners will be permitted.

We, the faith community, confess our silence over many years, and our failure to respond compassionately to God’s cry in the lives of the people of our land — especially those who are poor, naked and those denied their daily bread.

Our Procession is now being held to demand:

  • A change in the practice and behaviour of all parliamentarians, captains of industry and commerce;
  • That all those, in all sectors of society, who have influence and power, return to Nelson Mandela’s way of governance and leadership: governance that was not threatened by healthy social discourse; governance that was always mindful of the plight of the poor and the marginalized; governance that took seriously its responsibility to all people who have given leaders their trust.

We invite you to gather with us on Saturday, 9 April 2014 at 10am on Kaizergracht Street, District Six (below St. Mark’s Church) for our Procession of Witness to Parliament.

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“I have one child – the one you shot today.”

On 10 March 2014, Raed Zuayter, a distinguished judge and PhD holder, was killed by Israeli soldiers while crossing the border between Jordan and the West Bank of Palestine. Raed was a Jordanian citizen of Palestinian origin. His family is part of the Palestinian diaspora—refugees who had fled ethnic cleansing in 1948, war in 1967, and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

  Mondoweiss

A friend of mine, Carrie Schwartz, stays in Jordan and the Zuayter family asked her to record their story, “to express the truth in English”:

Entering the living room of Raed Zuayter, I meet his widow, child, father, mother, father-in-law, mother-in-law, aunts, and uncles. Raed’s two-year-old daughter playfully skips between relatives. “She is too young to understand what happened,” her grandfather explains. As we drink Arabic coffee together, I feel a deep sadness and responsibility to tell their story accurately. I start the interview by asking Raed’s father about his son’s life:

“He was born in 1976. He went to the best schools in Amman. After finishing high school, he went to the University of Jordan to study a bachelor’s in law. Then he asked me, ‘What do you think, Dad? Should we go for a master’s?’ I said, ‘We don’t mind.’ He finished his master’s and asked me, ‘What do you think, shall we go for PhD?’ And I answered him, ‘Yes, go for a PhD.’ When he finished his PhD, he went to the judicial institute to become a judge. In the judiciary, he was appointed as a judge for reconciliation. He got a raise on the first of March. He was promoted. And then he passed away.”

The story of Raed’s death began with another tragedy: Raed’s four-year-old son was hospitalized. A lack of oxygen caused him to go into a coma. Raed decided to travel to the town of Nablus in Palestine, to collect rent from tenants to cover the cost of his son’s treatment.

Raed traveled across the Jordan-Palestine border controlled by Israel. The process begins with security checks and immigration control on the Jordanian side. Then travelers are bused into a deserted “no man’s land” for additional security checks, before proceeding to the Israeli terminal.

At this point, an Israeli soldier pushed Raed toward the bus. A verbal argument ensued. Raed’s father recounted the story told to him by eyewitnesses: “Raed told the soldier, ‘Why are you pushing me, because I’m going up in the bus? Why did you push me?’ and he was waving his hands.” Two additional soldiers approached and pushed Raed toward the street until he fell to his knees. The soldiers then aimed their weapons and fired five shots into his body, from a distance of three to four meters, killing him.

Raed’s father recounted his interaction with the Israeli intelligence during the preliminary investigation:

“They asked me, ‘How many kids do you have?’ I said, ‘I have one child—the one you shot today. Why did you kill him? Did you see any weapons with him?’ They said no. ‘So you did not see any weapons with him—why did you kill him? … you knew that he was unarmed, and you wanted to take him in, then just take him, hold his hands, put him on the ground, but shoot him, five times? Why?”

Raed was an innocent person, killed when his family needed him the most. On the day this piece was written, his son who had been in a coma passed away. Raed’s family is asking for justice: “The soldiers who shot him should be put on trial, and we need a just compensation for everything that happened to the family.”

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Carrie Schwartz is an editor currently based in Amman, Jordan. She holds an MPhil in Justice and Transformation from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Sources/further information:

Interview with the family of Raed Zuayter, 21 March 2014, Amman, Jordan
Al-Haq Announces Investigation Results in Martyrdom of Judge Zuaiter (Arabic)
http://www.maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=682613
Palestinian advocacy group says Israeli soldiers ‘intended’ to kill Jordanian judge http://jordantimes.com/palestinian-advocacy-group-says-israeli-soldiers-intended-to-kill-jordanian-judge

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Invitation: Miko Peled 10 – 16 March, South Africa

peled Please join us for a talk by Miko Peled, the well known Israeli peace activist and author, during South Africa’s Israeli Apartheid Week:

JOHANNESBURG
EVENT:
Israeli Apartheid Week Opening Event
DATE: Monday, 10 March 2014
TIME: 19h00
VENUE: Protea Hotel Auditorium, School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH), Bunting Road Campus, University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park

STELLENBOSCH
EVENT:
Book discussion with Miko Peled and Breyten Breytenbach
DATE: Tuesday, 11 March 2014
TIME: 12h50

VENUE: Faculty Chapel, Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch
SPECIAL GUEST: Afrikaans poet, academic and anti-apartheid activist Breyten Breytenbach

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CAPE TOWN
EVENT:
Resisting from within, fighting oppression done in your name
DATE: Tuesday, 11 March 2014
TIME: 18h00
VENUE: RW James Building Lecture Theatre B, University of Cape Town

GRAHAMSTOWN
EVENT: Discussion with the author
DATE: Thursday, 13 March 2014
TIME: 17h00
VENUE: Humanities Seminar Room, Rhodes University, Grahamstown

DURBAN
EVENT:
Book discussion
DATE: Friday, 14 March 2014
TIME: 18h00

VENUE: Women’s Cultural Group Centre, Mariam Bee Sultan, 222 Kenilworth Road, Overport, Durban

PRETORIA
EVENT: Breakfast and Discussion With the Author
DATE: Saturday, 15 March 2014
TIME: 09h30
TICKET PRICE: R200 (this Pretoria event is a paid event, please contact 0735004036)

Find more information on Miko Peled’s South African Book Tour here: www.facebook.com/events/597059117046154/

For more information, comment or to arrange an interview with Miko Peled contact Muhammed Desai on 0842119988

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Miko Peled

In 1997, a tragedy struck the family of Miko Peled: His beloved niece Smadar was killed in Palestinian political violence in Jerusalem. His sister, Nurit Peled-Elhanan, reacted –according to some– “unusually” to the tragic death of her daughter. As a mother, she did not call for revenge or blame the Palestinians but the Israeli occupation policy of the Israeli governments.

That tragedy and his sister’s response propelled Peled into a journey of discovery. It pushed him to re-examine many of the beliefs he had grown up with, as the son and grandson of leading figures in Israel’s political-military elite, and transformed him into a courageous and visionary activist in the struggle for human rights and a hopeful, lasting, just peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Miko Peled’s father was was the well known General Mattiyahu “Matti Peled” – a prominent general who turned after the Israel’s “war of aggression” in 1967, into an advocate of peace.

Miko Peled is a former Israeli soldier himself (having trained in Israel’s Special Forces) and has written in a June 2012 Los Angeles Times article that “Israel is faced with two options: Continue to exist as a Jewish state while controlling the Palestinians through military force and racist laws, or undertake a deep transformation into a real democracy where Israelis and Palestinians live as equals in a shared state, their shared homeland. For Israelis and Palestinians alike, the latter path promises a bright future.”

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ABOUT THE BOOK – “The Israeli Army General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine”

Miko Peled, in his book, combines the exceptional history of his family, the political development of the State of Israel and his personal conversion to a fundamental critic of the policy of the different Israeli governments. Peled has described his 2012 book, “The Israeli Army General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine” as an account of how he, “the son of an Israeli General and a staunch Zionist, came to realize that “the story upon which I was raised … was a lie.” The book, he has said, is based largely on long conversations with his mother, on a thorough reading of “everything my dad had ever written,” and on material about his father’s career in the Israeli army archives.

The book, which has been characterized as “part confessional, part cinematic epic and part emotional appeal for ‘different answers’ to the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum,” contains a moving foreword by Alice Walker, well known African American author of “The Color Purple”. Walker write: “The journey that Peled traces in this groundbreaking memoir echoed the trajectory taken 40 years earlier by his father, renowned Israeli general Matti Peled. In “The General’s Son,” Miko Peled tells us about growing up in Jerusalem in the heart of the group that ruled the then-young country, Israel. He takes us with him through his service in the country’s military and his subsequent global travels… and then, after his niece’s killing, back into the heart of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians. The book provides a compelling and intimate window into the fears that haunt both peoples– but also into the real courage of all those who, like Miko Peled, have been pursuing a steadfast grassroots struggle for equality for all the residents of the Holy Land.”

FURTHER INFORMATION


Recent Article by Peled

http://electronicintifada.net/content/wake-john-kerry-global-intifada-erupting/12964

Videos of Miko Peled
www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOaxAckFCuQ
www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEV8DuBUfI4
www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4ZfnpN4Dfc&list=PLL9k0-nVbeO_jGxjI9Z-INdXu_3KyMzBL

Book Review of Miko Peled’s “The Israeli Army General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine”
http://electronicintifada.net/content/book-review-miko-peled-sets-record-straight-palestines-dispossession/11950

“The Israeli Army General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine”
– Exclusive Books: http://tinyurl.com/nwkslck
– Kalahari: www.kalahari.com/Books/The-General-s-Son_p_44486412
– Amazon (as a Paperback or eBook/Kindle): www.amazon.com/The-Generals-Son-Journey-Palestine/dp/193598215X

FOR MORE INFORMATION, COMMENT OR TO ARRANGE AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR:
IAW South Africa National Convenor, Muhammed Desai: +27 (0) 842119988

ISSUED BY KWARA KEKANA, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON OF “ISRAELI APARTHEID WEEK SOUTH AFRICA TEAM”
Tel: +27 (0) 72 449 1774
Email: iawsouthafrica@apartheidweek.org
Twitter: www.twitter.com/iawsouthafrica
Facebook: www.facebook.com/iawsouthafrica
Website: www.bdssouthafrica.com/2011/02/israeli-apartheid-week.html or www.apartheidweek.org

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New Film Peels Layers of Truth: Invitation, Cape Town

You are invited to a screening of and conversation on The Village Under the Forest at 6.30pm on Tuesday, 8 April at Hiddingh Campus, UCT. It is part of St Georges Cathedral, District Six Museum and Michaelis School of Fine Arts series of conversations “Victim: No Resurrection?”

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I used to be convinced that I cannot direct reality and I was very sure that I was right.  Life happens…people fall ill and die, nature creates havoc and nations are at war. 

 

But how do we remember things? This is one of the questions a new documentary asks. What if we (as individuals and as humanity) are accountable for how we shape the past, the present and the future….and how we define “truth”? 

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A brilliant new film on Israel/Palestine offers so much more than excellent information from an intimate perspective. Besides winning the Audience Award for Best South African film in 2013 at Encounters South African International Documentary Festival, the film leads perceptions on Israel-Palestine away from division and towards hope. 

It is the story of a South African Jewish woman told bravely and without trampling on the humanity of anyone.   I have seen many great films on Israel-Palestine, but this one offers a perspective we urgently need.  It is a film that should be seen by all South Africans, by all Jewish people, and by the international community.

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The Village Under the Forest is about making sense, and about finding meaning and a way forward.  It reflects inner strength and compels the viewer to ask his or her own questions.

On a symbolic level, we all walk through our own “forests” in life.  In this film, there is a real forest of trees – but not a natural one.  It is one that was deliberately planted to hide the remains of the Palestinian village of Lubya.  Lubya was one of the more than 500 Palestinian villages destroyed by Israel in 1948.

refugees near tulkarem, summer 1948

The purposefully cultivated plantation called South Africa Forest attempts to hide the past in the name of green ecology.  But now it is revealed for all to see.

The intimately personal perspective combined with scholarly input from Israelis raise questions on how we (as individuals and as members of a global society) deal with our own “forests” – and this one.

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In the words of Director and Emmy-winner Mark J Kaplan and the writer and narrator Heidi Grunebaum:

By using the forest and the village ruins as metaphors, the film explores themes related to the erasure and persistence of memory. Moreover, the film imagines a future in which dignity, acknowledgement and co-habitation become shared possibilities in Israel/Palestine.

View the trailer here.

According to BDS South Africa,

(t)he film also explores the role of the controversial Israeli-parastatal, the Jewish National Fund (JNF), in building a forest (the “South Africa Forest“) over the Israeli-destroyed Palestinian village of Lubya. Israel and its supporters celebrates the JNF for its forest building work, however, human rights activists critisize the JNF for its involvement in the Israeli oppression and “ethnic-cleansing” against the indigenous Palestinian people, and specifically the construction of forests above Israeli-destroyed Palestinian villages in an attempt to erase all traces of Palestinian life. (See also the Mail&Guardian newspaper review).

After watching The Village Under The Forest, Ismail Coovadia, South Africa’s former ambassador to Israel, announced he will be returning the Jewish National Fund certificate he received and requesting that the trees the JNF planted in his name be removed. The story’s been covered all over the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Electronic Intifada.