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Ashley Bates
Ashley covers the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with an eye toward stories that expose injustices and inspire mutual understanding.

Police Thuggery Inspires Solidarity at Occupy Berkeley (Video)


by: on November 10th, 2011 | Comments Off

It started as a fledging “Occupy” demonstration that attracted perhaps three hundred UC Berkeley activists on Wednesday. They erected about seven tents in a tiny, untrafficked square of lawn to protest drastic fee hikes and budget cuts at the public university.

By midnight, the protest had drawn more than 2,000 participants – thanks to shocking police brutality.

On orders from the UC Berkeley administration, riot police clubbed and arrested students, some of whom went to the emergency room with fractured ribs. This video shows some raw footage of this police violence as well as the protesters’ peaceful and creative responses. They appeal to the police with chants like, “You are the 99 percent,” “We’re fighting for YOUR children,” and “You’re sexy, you’re cute, take off that riot suit.”


Help Kickstart a Gaza Video Documentary


by: on November 10th, 2011 | Comments Off

While I was reporting from Gaza for five months in 2010, I met a 67-year-old filmmaker who produced a riveting video tour of Gaza called Inshallah. Maurice is now working on a courageous new film called Mohammed’s Cry. Please read his reflections, spread the word, and (if you can), help him raise the funds he needs to draw attention to the ongoing suffering of Gazan civilians.


“Occupy Oakland Not Palestine”: Activists in Their Own Words (Video)


by: on November 3rd, 2011 | 14 Comments »

What’s the connection between the “Occupy” movement and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? What positions are Jewish activists in particular taking on this issue? In this video report, activists from “Occupy Oakland” – a rabbi, a queer Muslim, a Palestinian refugee, a Gaza Freedom March participant, and others – share their stories and perspectives.

The Forgotten Palestinian Political Prisoners


by: on October 20th, 2011 | 19 Comments »

Demonstrators in Haifa, Israel protest Ittijah Director Ameer Makhoul's detention without access to a lawyer in May 2010. Makhoul is serving a nine-year sentence for spying and likely will not be released as part of the prisoner swap. / Oren Ziv

Reading about the suicide bombings and other massacres committed by many of the 1,027 Palestinian prisoners being exchanged for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, it’s easy to feel convinced of Israel’s singular victimhood.

Mainstream news reports of the prisoner swap have focused overwhelmingly on the humanity of Gilad Shalit (who suffered a horrific and harrowing ordeal, to be sure). Implicitly, however, these reports deny the humanity of Palestinian prisoners and leave Western audiences with the mistaken impression that Palestinians are imprisoned only for egregious crimes.

Since 1967, about 20 percent of the Palestinian population have served time in jail. According to Israeli prison statistics published by B’tselem, in August of this year, 272 of the 5,206 Palestinian prisoners were held without trial, 176 were children under 18, and 31 were 16 years old or younger. The majority of these people were not murderers or would-be murderers. Rather, it has become a norm in the Israeli security forces to make politically-charged arrests with questionable evidence.


Tribute to Palestinian Poet Taha Muhammad Ali


by: on October 3rd, 2011 | 1 Comment »

Courtesy of Copper Canyon Press

Self-taught, internationally acclaimed Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali passed away today at the age of 80. I encourage Tikkun readers to watch this video of Ali reading his poem called “Revenge,” which carries a message that you wouldn’t expect from its title. (The poem is read in Arabic, then in English.) The text of the poem can be found here.

A bit of background on Ali: The Israeli army deported his family from a village in the Galilee during the 1948 War, when he was 17 years old. This trauma and the ongoing plight of Palestinian refugees is a theme that colors his evocative writings. Ali himself was one of the lucky ones. He resettled in Nazareth, Israel one year after the war and spent much of his adult life running a souvenir shop with his children. Despite having received only a fourth grade education, Ali studied Arabic, Hebrew, and American authors and devoted his free time to developing his own writing skills. He began publishing poetry books and short stories in the 1980s. A Jewish American writer published a moving biography of him in 2010.

While Ali’s poetry is written in Arabic and focuses on the Palestinian community, it also vividly humanizes Israelis. Ali once said of his work, “There is no Palestine, no Israel, but in my poetry is suffering, sadness, longing, fear. And this, together, make the results: Palestine and Israel.”

May his words live on.

Video: Teens Wage Israeli-Palestinian Peace


by: on August 6th, 2011 | 2 Comments »

Teenage Hands of Peace participants from Israel, Palestine, and the United States pose in the shape of a peace sign.

Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations remain mired in gridlock and violence seems likely to escalate. Amidst this sobering news, I’d like to introduce the Tikkun community to some courageous teenagers who spent this summer waging their own tikkun olam.


Video: The Plight of Gazan Fishermen


by: on August 5th, 2011 | 3 Comments »

Former fisherman Mahfouz Kabariti

Mahfouz Kabariti sits inside his former fishing boat, which he's converting into a tour boat. The Israeli naval blockade made it impossible for him to earn a profit.

Dozens of Gazan fishermen went to retrieve boats this week that had been confiscated by the Israeli Navy over the last 18 months. Their excitement quickly turned to sorrow as they found empty boat shells stripped of all equipment and supplies. According to an August 4 press release from Adalah and Al-Meezan Center for Human Rights, Israel also charged the fishermen with the transportation costs of confiscation. The fishermen refused to take their boats, and returned home without them.