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Palestinian solidarity with BLM; Arabs were first inhabitants of Jerusalem, from Peter Myers

(1) Palestinian solidarity with BLM(2) Calls to demolish Pyramids; Hollywood/Bible version of Egypt vs Archaeology(3) Protests are supported by the same Foundationss that supported color revolutions(4) Black Lives Matter receives $100 Million from Foundations - policemag(5) Trump bans chokeholds(6) Trump Signs Executive Order Banning Choke Holds ‘Unless An Officer’s Life Is At Risk’(7) Democrats in key battleground states warn against Annexation(8) Arabs were first inhabitants of Jerusalem(1) Palestinian solidarity with BLM activists press solidarity between Palestinians, Black Lives MatterPalestinians raised photos of Iyad al-Hallaq, an autistic Palestinian shot by Israeli police, and George Floyd to make a comparison between racism against black people and Palestinians.Aziza NofalJun 17, 2020RAMALLAH, West Bank — When a group of Israeli soldiers tried to arrest Hala Marshood, a young Palestinian woman participating in a peaceful protest against the killing of Iyad al-Hallaq in Jerusalem, she shouted "I can’t breathe" in reference to the last words of George Floyd, whose arrest and murder reverberated in the United States and around the entire world. Floyd, an unarmed black man, died in Minneapolis as a police officer knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, unleashing demonstrations against racism and police brutality.Marshood was taking part in a peaceful feminist march on June 9 sponsored by the Tal’at movement (Arabic for "stepping out"), a Palestinian feminist movement. The protests were held in the cities of Ramallah, Rafah and Jerusalem, and in cities inside Israel, including Haifa, Jaffa and Nazareth, against the Israeli racist policies and killings of Palestinians, the latest of which was the shooting of Hallaq, an autistic Palestinian, at the entrance of Al-Aqsa Mosque May 30.Palestinian women raised the photos of Hallaq and Floyd side by side, shouting slogans against racism and calling for the right to a better life.Palestinian activists have drawn an analogy between Floyd and Hallaq, as Israeli police were not held accountable for the killing of Hallaq — Floyd's killer and those who were accomplices were eventually arrested, however. Police alleged Hallaq was attempting to stab Israeli soldiers.Activists presented the case of Hallaq as a clear example of the racist practices against them and the oppression they face only because they are Palestinians, comparing their situation to that of African Americans in the United States, according to Hadil Battrawi, 24, an outspoken Palestinian activist on public and political rights. She holds a master’s degree in public international law from the University of Lander."What’s happening in the United States is very similar to the situation in Palestine," she told Al-Monitor."The successive US governments have been working on portraying black people as a burden to society who flout the laws in a bid to condone the racist measures against them. This is the case with Israel that has been painting Palestinians as terrorists worthy only of extermination," Battrawi said."Although we strongly condemn what happened to Floyd, it was an opportunity for us to show the world the reality of things in Palestine," she added.Battrawi believes Palestinian activists ought to build on this sweeping movement against racism around the world in light of the decline of the Palestinian political rhetoric on the global arena, in order to re-shift the attention on the Palestinian people’s narrative.Palestinian institutions, especially those active at the international level, also condemned racist policies against blacks. In a statement on June 1, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement called on the International Solidarity Movement in the United States to stand by the Black Lives Matter movement and other black-led organizations in their struggle for justice."We, as the indigenous people of Palestine, have first-hand experience with colonialism and apartheid committed by the Israeli regime, which receives unconditional military and financial support from the United States and the successive American administrations," the statement read.Amnesty International added fuel to the fire and gave more momentum to the Palestinian activism when it published a report referring to the training of several US police departments with Israel, which was described as "a chronic human rights violator."Salah Khawaja, a member of the coordination committee of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, concurred with Battrawi’s statements on the need to build on the international condemnation of racist policies and practices, which stemmed from the killing of Floyd."There is a similar pattern in the repressive practices whether in the United States or any other country, which could be highlighted in order to stop condoning any practices against humanity and human rights," Khawaja told Al-Monitor.He said this is not the first time Palestinian activists get inspired by international events, as they had also identified and sympathized with Mexicans when President Donald Trump spoke of erecting a wall on the borders. This time, however, is more sensitive, with the decline in the attention on the Palestinian cause.Khawaja said Palestinian official leadership should seize this opportunity via its international arms to rekindle and ramp up support for solidarity movements for Palestinian self-determination and autonomy and the right to justice and to convey the Palestinian message throughout the world.But are these campaigns and movements enough to advance the Palestinian cause? The answer is no for Mona Shtaya, a human rights activist who believes that Palestinian activists ought to go to the streets in marches and events rather than focusing on social media activism, which would draw more attention and focus to their cause.(2) Calls to demolish Pyramids; Hollywood/Bible version of Egypt vs Archaeology, activists alarmed by online calls to demolish PyramidsAfter bringing down statues, symbolic of racism and oppression in the US and the UK during the Black Lives Matter protests, some social media activists started calling for the demolition of the Pyramids, basing their argument on the contested notion that they were built by slaves.Shahira AminJun 17, 2020The hashtag #pyramids has been widely circulating on Twitter in recent days, but not for the reasons one might expect. The fact that Cairo is preparing to reopen the country for tourism within weeks or that many travelers are eagerly waiting for the coronavirus threat to subside, to visit Egypt — if only to feast their eyes on the centuries-old monuments in Giza — has little to do with the viral hashtag.Oddly enough, the Pyramids have instead been cited multiple times in an online discussion between Twitter users on whether or not these massive structures built as tombs for the pharaohs of Egypt's Old Kingdom more than 4,000 years ago should be torn down for allegedly having been built by "slaves.""Take down the #Pyramids. Slaves built them!" was one tweet advocating destruction of the monuments that have stood the test of time.Nigel Hetherington, archaeologist and founder of Past Preservers, a heritage consultancy, dismissed the calls as "not serious," saying, "I don’t think that those were ever real calls to pull down the Pyramids.""The image of thousands of slaves toiling under a burning sun and a vicious pharaoh is hard to shake, it seems. Despite years of study and archaeological research and discoveries, the Hollywood version of Egypt still seems to captivate people," he told Al-Monitor.While it was unclear if the comments were sarcastic, they provoked a backlash from critics who refuted the fallacy, with some urging the social media users spreading such ideas to "read history."Dismayed Egyptians chipped in defending the funerary monuments that are an important part of their cultural heritage and history against what some perceived as real threats.Skeptics, meanwhile, suggested that the misconception was deliberately circulated to vilify the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests decrying racism and police brutality."The Egyptian Pyramids are now being used to discredit protests against racism, colonialism and slavery with the argument they have been built exploiting forced slave labor. They were not," Jens Notroff, a German archaeologist, counter-argued on his Twitter account.The online debate was triggered by the toppling of statues in the United States and in the United Kingdom perceived by anti-racism protesters as symbols of racism and colonialism. The protests that started in the United States in late May have since reverberated across Europe and other parts of the world. On June 7, a statue of Edward Colston, a 17th-century slave trader, was pulled down by protesters in Bristol, England, before being thrown in the harbor. The move followed similar acts of vandalism in the United States. On June 6, Black Lives Matter protesters used ropes to pull down a statue of Williams Carter Wickham, a Confederate general, in a university campus park in Richmond, Virginia.A number of other monuments have also been defaced or spray-painted in the otherwise peaceful protests, sparked by the May 25 killing of George Floyd during his arrest by four police officers over alleged forgery in Minneapolis, Minnesota.But Katie A. Paul, an America anthropologist and co-director of the Antiquities Trafficking and Heritage Anthropology Research Project, draws a distinct line between the toppling of the statues emblematic of racism and oppression and the online calls to destroy the Pyramids, which she said "are steeped in false understanding of their history and construction." She warned that such calls "set a dangerous precedent where misinformation would drive historical destruction. ""The statues toppled in the United States and Europe are symbolic representations that deify slave owners and genocidal leaders. They are being removed or vandalized today because they idolize figures who committed the worst kind of oppression," she explained in an email to Al-Monitor. "The Pyramids were not constructed to idolize slavery or genocide nor do they serve as monuments to revere an era of oppression."She continued, "The Great Pyramid of Giza represents the same thing now that it was meant to when it was first constructed: an unmatched feat of human ingenuity."The calls for demolition of the Pyramids also caused alarm among some Egyptian archaeologists like Monica Hanna who called them "dangerous" and "irresponsible.""Such calls are reminiscent of similar calls made by some extremists in 2012 to destroy Pharaonic monuments or cover them in wax in the conviction that the Pharaonic civilization was corrupt and deserved to be destroyed," said Hanna, who is acting dean of the College of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage at the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport.She was referring to ominous threats against the Sphinx and the Pyramids made by radical Sheikh Morgan Al Gohary. In an interview broadcast on the Egyptian privately owned channel Dream TV in November 2012, the Salafist cleric boasted about taking part along with the Taliban in the demolition of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan in March 2001. He suggested covering the Pharaonic monuments in wax, arguing that Sharia advocates the destruction of every pagan and idol. His controversial remarks shocked Egyptians at the time, fueling fears that the country's cultural heritage was under threat under Muslim Brotherhood rule.Hanna also rebutted the false claim that the Pyramids were built by slaves, which she said are rooted in Biblical tradition."The Pyramids were built by Egyptian workers recruited from all over the country during the inundation season when the peasants would temporarily cease work on the farmlands," she told Al-Monitor."We have the papyrus logbooks of the workers and we have found the tombs of the workers from which we know that the workers were fed meat, had access to medical care and were paid in rations of bread and beer," she said. The papyrus logbooks she referred to are the Diary of Merer discovered in 2013  by a French mission working under the direction of the Sorbonne University in Paris. The journal of a previously unknown official of the same name chronicles the daily activities of stone transportation from the Tura limestone quarry to the Pyramid site in Giza."Building the Pyramids was also a project of faith as the Egyptians believed the Pharaohs were the divine intermediaries between the Gods and the people, so they were building a house for the eternal life of these religious leaders and Heads of State," Hanna added.In response to the calls for demolition of the Pyramids, some Twitter users shared their photographs with the Pyramids as a backdrop from their holiday trips to Egypt, starting an impromptu campaign that may attract more visitors to Egypt once the country resumes international flights. Tourism is one of Egypt's most important sources of income, accounting for around 12% of the country's gross domestic product.(4) Black Lives Matter receives $100 Million from Foundations - policemag Lives Matter Receives $100 Million from FoundationsJune 12, 2020by POL StaffThe anti-police activist group Black Lives Matter has received pledges of more than $100 million in donations from foundations and other sources.The Ford Foundation and Borealis Philanthropy recently announced the formation of the Black-Led Movement Fund [BLMF], a six-year pooled donor campaign aimed at raising $100 million for the Movement for Black Lives coalition.That funding comes in addition to more than $33 million in grants to the Black Lives Matter movement from George Soros through his Open Society Foundations, as well as grant-making from the Center for American Progress."The BLMF provides grants, movement building resources, and technical assistance to organizations working advance the leadership and vision of young, Black, queer, feminists and immigrant leaders who are shaping and leading a national conversation about criminalization, policing and race in America," said the Borealis announcement.Ford and Borealis are hardly alone: They said the fund will "complement the important work" of charities including the Hill-Snowden Foundation, Solidaire, the NoVo Foundation, the Association of Black Foundation Executives, the Neighborhood Funders Group, anonymous donors, and others.(5) Trump bans chokeholds Trump signs order on police reformThe New DailyUS President Donald Trump has signed an executive order banning the use of chokeholds but rejected calls to defund or dismantle the police.Mr Trump said the order, which he signed after meeting families of victims of police brutality, is aimed at encouraging best practices and tracking officers with excessive use of force complaints.But one civil rights group slammed the order for not going far enough to end police violence and racism.Mr Trump was also criticised for using the ceremony in the White House Rose Garden on Wednesday morning (Australian time) as a campaign rally following weeks of protests prompted by the death of George Floyd."Today is about pursuing common sense and fighting, fighting for a cause like we seldom get the chance to fight for," Mr Trump said.Under the order, police will have to employ the latest standards for use of force and improve information sharing so that officers with poor records are not hired without their backgrounds being known.They will also be required to have social workers with them when responding to non-violent cases involving drug addiction and homelessness."Americans want law and order, they demand law and order," Mr Trump said.He offered his condolences to the families of victims of recent violence at the hands of police and others, and vowed to pursue justice.But he opposed calls to "defund the police" by reimagining or even dismantling police departments."Without police, there’s chaos," Mr Trump said."Americans believe we must support the brave men and women in blue who police our streets and keep us safe."Americans also believe we must improve accountability, increase transparency and invest more resources in police training, recruiting and community engagement."Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights head Vanita Gupta said: "While the order takes some steps forward, it is an inadequate response to a nation demanding sweeping, bold action."In his public comments and on Twitter, Mr Trump has called for crackdowns on protesters and emphasised a forceful and militarised response to the social unrest.Opinion polls show widespread concerns among Americans about police brutality.The Democratic-led House of Representatives is expected to vote later in June on sweeping legislation put forward by the Congressional Black Caucus to rein in police misconduct.-with AAP Trump Signs Executive Order Banning Choke Holds ‘Unless An Officer’s Life Is At Risk’Jack BrewsterUpdated Jun 16, 2020, 02:26pm EDTPresident Trump signed an executive order Tuesday on police reform that bans choke holds "unless an officer’s life is at risk," increases federal oversight of police departments and encourages departments to move toward better practices on use of force, though the order falls short of what activists are pushing for and ties its mandates to incentives.Under the order, the federal government will require police departments to ban chokeholds, the police maneuver used by the Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd, to receive certification that will allow them to access federal grants.It will also create a database to track police officers with several misconduct violations and push for departments to involve mental healthcare workers on calls dealing with homelessness, mental illness and addiction.Activist groups are expected to criticize the order as not doing enough: in the wake of George Floyd’s death, protest groups, including Black Lives Matter, have pushed for sweeping reform, including "defunding the police."Trump decried the "radical and dangerous efforts to dissolve our police" during prepared remarks in the Rose Garden before he—surrounded by law enforcement—signed the order Tuesday, adding "without police, there is chaos."After discussing the policy details of his executive order, the president dedicated much of his remarks Tuesday toward decrying protesters and attacking the record of his predecessor, former president Barack Obama, and former vice president and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.Trump has rallied to the defense of police officers and argued Tuesday that police misconduct was the the work of a small percentage of police officers: "They’re very tiny. I use the word tiny. It’s a very small percentage. But you have them. But nobody wants to get rid of them more than the really good and great police officers."Trump said Tuesday that his executive order would go "hand in hand" with the bill Senate Republicans are working on—and implored GOP leadership to get a bill done quickly. Led by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Republican senators are working to put together a bill that would increase training to focus on de-escalation tactics and lessen the potential for choke holds, among other measures. House Democrats are debating a bill that would ban choke holds outright, and no-knock warrants in drug cases, as was used in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, in March, and increase police accountability, among other reform measures.Democrats criticized the order for not going far enough: "While the president has finally acknowledged the need for policing reform, one modest executive order will not make up for his years of inflammatory rhetoric and policies designed to roll back the progress made in previous years," Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.(7) Democrats in key battleground states warn against Annexation state Democrats warn against annexation after AIPAC greenlights criticismEight Senate candidates in battleground states are warning Israel against annexing the West Bank after the American Israel Public Affairs Committee greenlit the criticism.Bryant HarrisJun 15, 2020A slew of Democratic Senate candidates hoping to unseat Republican incumbents in key battleground states came out today against Israeli efforts to annex parts of the West Bank.The left-leaning lobby group J Street touted their warnings as part of its ongoing campaign to deter annexation. The rival American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) took the unusual step of greenlighting Democrats to push back against annexation without fear of repercussion, so long as the criticism stops there, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported last week."Unilateral Israeli annexation of territory in the West Bank undermines efforts to achieve a two-state solution," said Jon Ossoff, who hopes to unseat Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., in November. Ossoff said, "A sustainable and humane resolution of conflict can only be achieved by diplomacy. Annexation would represent an abandonment of the peace process established in Oslo in 1993, and it would confirm the failure of contemporary Israeli and Palestinian political leaders to resolve these disputes diplomatically."The other Democratic Senate candidates in competitive states to come out against annexation include Cal Cunningham of North Carolina, Jaime Harrison of South Carolina, Amy McGrath of Kentucky, Al Gross of Arkansas, MJ Hegar of Texas, Sara Gideon of Maine, Theresa Greenfield of Iowa and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a failed 2020 presidential candidate favored to win the state’s primary against progressive Andrew Romanoff later this month."The two-state solution remains the best way to achieve long-term peace and stability for both Israelis and Palestinians," said Hickenlooper, adding, "I oppose unilateral actions that move us away from this goal, including annexation of the West Bank. In the Senate, I will continue to advocate for advancing Israel’s security and stability and work with J Street toward achieving lasting peace in the region."Hickenlooper, who has historically boasted warm ties with AIPAC, joins 28 Democratic senators who have issued similar warnings. The confluence of AIPAC-friendly centrists, such as Sens. Chris Coons of Delaware and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, adapting J Street’s position on annexation illustrates the extent to which annexation has become a partisan issue within both the United States and Israel.Unlike J Street, AIPAC has not taken a formal position on annexation. However, AIPAC President Betsy Berns Korn praised President Donald Trump’s peace plan, which calls for Israel to annex its West Bank settlements and the entire Jordan Valley, at the organization’s annual conference in March.But recently, the Donald Trump administration has sought to dissuade Israel from moving forward with annexation next month amid ambivalence from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition partners in the Knesset.Netanyahu said today that the Trump administration wants Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who leads the rival Blue and White faction as part of a power-sharing deal, on board with the annexation plans before proceeding. His remarks came after he met with US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Gantz over the weekend.The prime minister also hinted that he may not proceed with annexation next month despite previous reports that he had initially pushed for July in case former US Vice President Joe Biden defeats Trump in November. J Street made its first-ever presidential endorsement in April and backed Biden, who also opposes annexation.(8) Arabs were first inhabitants of Jerusalem white paper says Arabs were first inhabitants of JerusalemA white paper by the Amman-based think tank the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought suggests 5,000 years of continuous Arab presence in Jerusalem, specifying the Hashemite custodianship of Christian and Muslim holy sites in the city.Daoud Kuttab@daoudkuttabJun 15, 2020At a time when the right-wing leaders of Israel are contemplating annexing further parts of the Palestinian occupied territories, a referenced and documented white paper has been produced and published by the prestigious Amman-based think tank Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, documenting Arab presence in Jerusalem for over three millennia and specifying the Hashemite custodianship of Christian and Muslim holy sites in the city."The Arabs were the first inhabitants of Palestine in history, including in Jerusalem," the 108-page paper begins. It references archaeological records where Jerusalem is mentioned by name in the Amarna Correspondence, a series of diplomatic letters between Canaanite city-state kings and their Egyptian overlords during the 14th-century B.C. It shows pictures of cuneiform tablets that were uncovered in Egypt in the late 19th century.Mahdi Abdulhadi, founder and director of the Jerusalem-based PASSIA think tank, told Al-Monitor that the content of the paper represents a knowledge brief that genuinely reflects the reality in a scientific way, articulating the historic narrative that the streets and quarters of the Old City of Jerusalem have witnessed. He said, "This paper is the legal and legitimate umbrella reflecting what the Hashemites have been entrusted with since the Arab Renaissance till today in a way that ensures the national Palestinian narrative with the Arab and international one in protecting the city’s Arab identity."The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, an Islamic nongovernmental institute, has been headed since 2000 by Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, the personal envoy and special adviser to Jordan's King Abdullah II.The paper moves from archaeological discoveries to biblical records, quoting Genesis 10:1-20 that shows "the Arabs, Hamites, Canaanites and Jebusites were the original inhabitants of the land of Palestine, including the area of Jerusalem." Canaanites and Jebusites were there long before (at least 2,000 years before) the Jews, and even long before Judaism was revealed.While the focused biblical references are valuable in debunking various attempts to use religious text to deny Arab connections to the city, not everyone was excited about using the Bible to authenticate connectivity.Bernard Sabella, an elected member of the Palestinian legislature representing Jerusalem’s Palestinian Christians, told Al-Monitor that the historic documents in the paper reflect the popular religious and official Palestinian position in support of the custodian role of the Hashemites. "The importance of this paper is that it comes at a time that the Israelis are doing their utmost to change the status quo in Jerusalem with special emphasis on Al-Aqsa Mosque/Haram Al-Sharif.Sabella said that the paper debunks Israeli claims questioning the support of Christian leaders to the Jordanian Hashemites in guaranteeing the status quo in the holy city.Former Palestinian ambassador to France Hind Khoury told Al-Monitor that while she is a strong supporter of the Hashemite custodianship of Jerusalem, she is not a big fan of using biblical texts for documenting the history of Jerusalem. "Biblical books are books of faith to the believers, and archaeologists including Israelis have shown contradictions between events in religious texts and the documented history of our region."Khoury is concerned that religious groups, especially Christian Zionists, have been using biblical texts for their own purposes to justify support for the occupation and annexation. "I am always worried about the danger of mixing between religion and politics. This has been the way that Zionists and their supporters have gone because it is easy to use religion to prove any point of view."The Jewish presence in Jerusalem is also not ignored. The word "Jew" is mentioned 65 times in the paper and the term "Jewish" is referred in document 34 times. The paper dedicates a section to the Jewish presence between 1000 B.C. and 600 B.C. talking about the Prophet-King David who conquered Jerusalem, which became the capital of his kingdom. The paper also talks about Jerusalem as a mixed Jewish city in the period 539 B.C.-37 B.C.The white paper acknowledges that the religious demographics of Jerusalem changed dramatically in the 20th century. In 1947, the city’s population was 33,600 Arabs and 2,400 Jews.Yonatan Mizrachi, CEO of Emek Shaveh, an Israeli nongovernmental organization working to defend cultural heritage rights and to protect ancient sites, told Al-Monitor, "While the historic timeline looks fine to me, I disagree that Arabs have been here before the time of King David. I don't think that Canaanites are the Arabs’ ancestors."As to the history of Jerusalem by religions, the authors of the paper state that "Jews have been there for about 3,000 years, Christians have been there for about 2,000 years and Muslims have been there for about 1,400 years. However, Islam has been dominant in Jerusalem for 1,210 out of the last 1,388 years. This is more than the period of Jewish domination over the last 3,020 years (953 years) or Christian domination over the last 2,000 years (417 years)."In summary, the white paper argues that contrary to the misperception that Islam is a stranger to Jerusalem, Islam has been dominant in Jerusalem for longer in total than either Christianity or Judaism, despite being the youngest of the three religions.Reverend David Rihani, deputy chair of the Jordan Evangelical Council and the head of the Assemblies of God Churches in Jordan, told Al-Monitor that the role of Hashemites to Jerusalem is well known and appreciated by all Arab Christians. "We strongly support and endorse the Hashemite custodianship and have been impressed by the high level of interest and support His Majesty the King has shown to Jerusalem’s Christian as well as Muslim sites."The Al-Aqsa Mosque/Haram Al-Sharif — and by extension the whole ancient city of Jerusalem — is one of Islam’s three holy sites. The paper refutes the often-repeated argument by those who claim that Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Islamic holy book. According to the classical commentaries on the Quran, "the city," "the land," "the Holy Land," "the Mount," "the Temple" and "the Olive" all refer to Jerusalem, or places in Jerusalem, the paper states.