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April 24, 2009

Another muted scream: The Electronic Intifada

Sayed Mohamed Dhansay

Basem Ibrahim Abu Rahme in a Ramallah hospital after he was killed on 17 April 2009. (activestills.org)

Basem Ibrahim Abu Rahme in a Ramallah hospital after he was killed on 17 April 2009. (activestills.org)

He stands on a small sandy hilltop wearing a bright yellow t-shirt, cigarette in hand. He is calling out to the soldiers on the other side of the fence “Do not shoot, do not shoot. There are children and internationals here, do not shoot.” Thin white wisps of tear gas linger in the gentle breeze, a moment of calm in the confrontation. Suddenly a tear gas canister whizzes past the camera making an audible “clunk” as it hits something to the right. He tries to let out a scream, but all he manages is a stifled yelp. One can almost hear his breath being cut short as the projectile punctures his chest. Another muted scream of pain. He falls to the ground then jumps up quickly, running a few steps before collapsing again. His body rolls a few times as he hits the ground, his limbs flapping loosely underneath him. Two fellow demonstrators run to him, looking almost surprised and unsure of what has just happened. They turn him over, lifting his shirt and calling his name. But he is unresponsive. His eyes are open but his body lies motionless. His bright yellow shirt now quickly growing a wet red stain over his heart. And so the occupied people of Palestine sacrifice yet another one of their young men. Another one. Again. Just like that. In an instant. Caught live on camera for the world to see. Twenty-nine-year-old Basem Ibrahim Abu Rahme was later pronounced dead at Ramallah hospital on Friday 17 April 2009 after being shot in the chest with a high-velocity tear gas canister by an Israeli soldier. A faceless, nameless soldier who will likely never have to explain or account for taking the life of another human being. Basem posed no threat to the security of Israel as he stood atop that hill. He was not armed, nor was he throwing stones. Ironically, he was calling out to the Israeli forces to hold their fire because children and internationals were present, when he was shot. He was involved in a nonviolent demonstration when his own life was so violently taken. Basem is the 18th Palestinian to be killed in nonviolent anti-wall protests in the West Bank since 2004.

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April 23, 2009

Yad Vashem removes ‘rogue guide’: BBC

Israel’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem has fired one of its guides for making political statements about the plight of the Palestinians during his tours. Visitors complained when Itamar Shapira likened the trauma of European Jews to the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) when Israel was founded in 1948. Israeli media said it was the first such sacking at Yad Vashem. Itamar Shapira accused the museum of having a “flawed approach” that ignored certain historical facts. Yad Vashem’s Estee Yaari told the BBC that Mr Shapira had violated clear prohibitions on employees pushing their own political viewpoints. “Yad Vashem is an apolitical organisation and as such is careful to ensure that the professional work of Holocaust remembrance and commemoration will be separated from any political agenda,” she told the BBC. She said Itamar Shapira had been employed as a freelance guide by Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies for about two years. “Recently, a complaint was lodged noting a number of problems with his guiding,” she said. “After a discussion with school staff, he refused to change his guiding method and was let go.”

Clinton: Israel risks losing support on Iran: Ha’artez

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cautioned Israel’s right-wing government on Thursday that it risked losing Arab support for fighting any threats from Iran if it shuns Palestinian peace talks. Signaling U.S. impatience with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reticence over peace talks, Clinton said Arab nations had made clear to her that Israel must be committed to the Palestinian peace process if it wants help countering Iran. “For Israel to get the kind of strong support it is looking for vis-a-vis Iran, it can’t stay on the sidelines with respect to the Palestinians and the peace efforts. They go hand in hand,” she told the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. Israel sees a nuclear-armed threat as a mortal threat. “They [Arab countries] believe that Israel’s willingness to re-enter into discussions with the Palestinian Authority strengthens them in being able to deal with Iran,” she added. Since coming into power last month, Netanyahu and his right-leaning coalition have avoided recognizing the Palestinians’ right to an independent state as his predecessor Ehud Olmert did. The United States is committed to pushing for a two-state solution, with Israelis and Palestinians living side by side, and would like to revive stalled talks.

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