Rights Blog 2009
23 December 2009
Groups in the Bethlehem area dedicate a series of events called Shepherds' Nights (December 23-25) to Jerusalem (increasingly being de-Palestinized) and hold a commemoration and protest asking to lift the siege on Gaza (December 31st). See program below and join us (also we could use volunteers, please email me if you can help). Here in Bethlehem, where the Prince of Peace was born in an area ruled by a tyrant ruler (King Herod while claiming Judaism engaged in slaughter of Aramaic speaking natives) who was supported by a world empire. Here where 2000 years later, natives are still engaged in a struggle against tyrant rulers supported by distant empires. Here where civil resistance flourished and where its history over millennia is yet to be told. Here where Jesus did not spare the money changers in front of the temple nor did the early Christian descendents (Muslim and Christian) spare the rulers from their anger at injustice starting a number of uprisings to challenge the brutality of occupation and colonization (we call such an uprising a shaking off or Intifada). Here where life is so abnormal today that visiting internationals no matter how prepared are always shocked to see concentration camps surrounded by walls, Nazi-like behavior of occupation soldiers brought from around the world to police native people, and Palestinian officials who keep accommodating the occupation and finding out that the demands of the occupation keep increasing. But here is also where love and hope grow and where people of all backgrounds (religions and ethnicities) get together to work for peace (anmd not just talk about it). Come and see.
You may want to see this Video of (at least last) Christmas in the Holy Land http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9esPiCxLDZk and an article I wrote about Christmas under occupation (http://www.qumsiyeh.org/christmasunderoccupation/ )
Shepherds' Nights Festival 2009
Join us this Holiday Season and show your support of Palestine
23 - 25 December (All events at the YMCA Beit Sahour) *
Theme: For Jerusalem
Day One - Wednesday 23:
17:00 Opening and Welcoming.
17:30 Band Show.
18:00 Dabka Dance Performance.
Day Two - Thursday 24:
15:00 Children show and Christmas Gifts Distribution.
16:30 Christmas Service at YMCA Shepherds' Grotto.
21:30 Choir Performance - Christmas Hymns.
Day Three - Friday 25:
16:00 Gathering at the Greek Orthodox Shepherds Field.
16:30 Candle Procession towards the YMCA Beit Sahour (Jerusalem theme).
17:30 Dabka Group Performance.
18:00 Christmas Carols.
*Organized By Palestinian Center for Rapprochement, Siraj Center, East Jerusalem YMCA / Beit Sahour Branch, and YMCA-YWCA Joint Advocacy Initiative
31 December 2009, 4-6 PM: Vigil and commemoration in Bethlehem to honor the victims of last year's massacres in Gaza and to demand lifting the siege on Gaza. There will be simultaneous events around the world and a march on Gaza. In Bethlehem, it is planned to have Children read names honoring the 300+ children murdered in Gaza a year ago and to pray and pledge to work for peace in 2010 (Organized by several groups in the Bethlehem area).
Again, we could use your support in many ways (volunteers, donations, etc) and you are always welcome to visit us here in Palestine.
19 December 2009
The Air France jet landed in Madrid and I stepped out quickly through the impressive airport to the luggage area. There was no need for border passport check as the trip from Paris to Madrid is an internal European trip. No more are these national borders of utility and they are only being enforced between nation states like Jordan and Syria and Palestine/Israel (nation states created ironically by Europeans!). I walk through the airport noting the clean marble floors, beautiful arts, lighting that invokes museums, sharply dressed serious people going about from one area to another or shopping in the hundreds of shops in the spacious airport. These images are only intruded upon by thoughts of what to expect in Spain. Past and present melt together: conquistadores, bull fights, Al-Andalusia, Spanish conquests of the America, King Ferdinand, beautiful folkloric dancing, good foods etc… But my interest is always people of the present. Ofcourse I had met and worked with many Spanish activists before and we received many delegations in Palestine. But somehow being met by two lovely people at the airport in Madrid caries special significance. Manuel (Mano) is a 60+ veteran activist with white beard, a vibrant, easy and outgoing personality (a thoughts of a mix of Santa Claus and Jeff Halper cross my mind). The other is a young and beautiful girl (Lina) who seemed like so many serious dedicated activists I met in 20 other countries: concerned that a guest is comfortable. We had a cup of coffee while we waited for another speaker. I noticed both new friends speak little English so I go to the bookshop next door to buy a Spanish phrase book. I end up also noting and buying the book El Principito (the Little Prince). I was given the English version of this book some 30 years ago by a dear friend and have always found it useful in my life. It is a symbolic story that relays to us in childlike fashion the vanity of so many people who are living in the past, or in the future, or who are doing things but not knowing why they are doing them (unfortunately some like Zionists harming others in the process of doing what they do). Perhaps most of all it is a story of the importance of love and friendship and paying attention to little things.
Mano's son (also Manuel) who organized our trip was especially kind. We quickly developed deep friendship with people like Manuel, Mano Lina, Laura, Tina, and dozens of others we met along the way in Spain. I think to myself how lucky I am to have literally now thousands of friends around the world. What strikes me sometimes is the similarity between people in different countries who have similar interests. It is actually remarkable how the activists for human rights are in particular "birds of a feather who flock together" so to speak. Motivated, energetic, outgoing, concerned, not afraid to challenge own assumptions etc. During the two days in Madrid and two days in Barcelona, we met with politicians, journalists, students, professors, waiters, fellow passengers, and people of all walks of life. Again I am struck by our human similarities. A student in Madrid is like a student at Bethlehem University or Yale University. A politician or journalist in Spain also behaves the same as politicians or journalists in Ramallah. Those who care for people are easy to identify and are genuinely interested to know what is really going on and how it impacts people's lives. We explain to all how European governments have been complicit in violations of International law and human rights. We explain the importance of treating apartheid Israel just like apartheid South Africa to effect a restoration of basic justice starting with the right of refugees to return to their homes and lands. We are gratified by the positive response.
When we drove through Barcelona before dawn heading to the airport, I looked up at the stars in the sky and wondered if the sheep has eaten the flowers. !Y ninguna persona grande comprendera jamais que tenga tanta importacia! (And no grown-up will ever understand that this is a matter of so much importance!)
As I crossed the bridge back into the West Bank after a night in Jordan, I noted the grouchy Israeli occupation soldiers have added a new procedure (denoted by a blue sticker) without any explanation. The lines were a bit longer at bottlenecks where these stickers are checked. The thoughts of El Principito and that I am finally on the blessed homeland of Palestine (yes despite the occupation) gave me a smile…
Now for action: Here are ten products to boycott this holiday season for the sake of peace: Ahava, Delta Galil Industries, Motorola, L'Oreal, Dorot Garlic and Herbs (Trader Joe's), Estee Lauder, Intel, Sabra, Sara Lee, and Victoria's Secret. More info on each at: http://www.baceia.org/2009/11/top-ten-brands-to-boycott/
And if you are in the US and want to buy something for a gift, consider
Egyptian government shamefully trying to kill off lifelines to Gaza's 1.5 million besieged people
(you may still want to join the Gaza Freedom March http://www.gazafreedommarch.org/ )
Guardian: CIA working closely with Palestinian Security services
ACTION ITEM: I attended the launching of this critical document on Friday in Bethlehem (a packed press conference with over 200 people attending). Please forward this document to all churches in your area and ask them to take action. It is essential to bring peace.
For immediate release - 11/12/2009 16:12:00
A PALESTINIAN CHRISTIAN CALL TO END THE OCCUPATION
A group of Palestinian Christians representing a variety of churches and church-related organizations have issued an animated and prayerful call for an end to occupation of Palestine by Israel. The call, issued at a 11 December meeting in Bethlehem, comes at a time when many Palestinians believe they have reached a dead end. It raises questions to the international community, political leaders in the region, and the churches worldwide about their contribution to the Palestinian people's pursuit of freedom. Even in the midst of "our catastrophe" the call is described as a word of faith, hope and love.
Referred to as "The Kairos Palestine Document" the call echoes a similar summons issued by South African churches in the mid-1980s at the height of repression under the apartheid regime. That call served to galvanize churches and the wider public in a concerted effort that eventually brought the end of apartheid.
The authors of the Kairos Palestine Document, among them Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Lutheran Bishop of Jerusalem Munib Younan, and Archbishop Theodosios Atallah Hanna of Sebastia from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, have raised the challenge of the urgency for peace with justice to religious and political leaders in Palestinian and the Israeli society, international community, and to "our Christian brothers and sisters in the churches" around the world. They believe that current efforts in the Middle East are confined to managing the crisis rather than finding pertinent and long term solutions to the crisis.
Decrying empty promises
Expressing their pain, the signatories of the call decry the emptiness of the promises and pronouncements about peace in the region. They remind the world about the separation wall erected on Palestinian territory, the blockade of Gaza, how Israeli settlements ravage their land, the humiliation at military checkpoints, the restrictions of religious liberty and controlled access to holy places, the plight of refugees awaiting their right of return, prisoners languishing in Israeli prisons and Israel's blatant disregard of international law, as well as the paralysis of the international community in the face of this tragedy.
Rejecting Israeli justifications for their actions as being in self-defence, they unambiguously state that if there were no occupation, "there would be no resistance, no fear and no insecurity."
They argue: "God created us not to engage in strife and conflict but together build up the land in love and mutual respect. Our land has a universal mission, and the promise of the land has never been a political programme, but rather the prelude to complete universal salvation. Our connectedness to this land is a natural right. It is not an ideological or a theological question only." They reject any use of the Bible to legitimize or support political options and positions that are based upon injustice.
Declaring the occupation of Palestinian land as a sin against God and humanity, they steadfastly adhere to the signs of hope such as "local centres of theology" and "numerous meetings for inter-religious dialogue", recognizing that these signs provide hope to the resistance of the occupation. Through the logic of peaceful resistance, resistance is as much a right as it is a duty as it has the potential to hasten the time of reconciliation.
Asserting that this is a moment demanding repentance for past actions, either for using hatred as an instrument of resistance or the willingness to be indifferent and absorbed by faulty theological positions, the group calls on the international community and Palestinians for steadfastness in this time of trial. "Come and see so we can make known to you the truth of our reality", they appeal.
Poignantly, they conclude, "in the absence of all hope, we cry out our cry of hope. We believe in God, good and just. We believe that God's goodness will finally triumph over the evil of hate and of death that still persist in our land. We will see here 'a new land' and 'a new human being', capable of rising up in the spirit to love each one of his or her brothers and sisters."
The authors are:
• Patriarch Michel Sabbah
• Bishop Dr Munib Younan
• Archbishop Theodosios Atallah Hanna
• Rev. Dr Jamal Khader
• Rev. Dr Rafiq Khoury
• Rev. Dr Mitri Raheb
• Rev. Dr Naim Ateek
• Rev. Dr Yohana Katanacho
• Rev. Fr Fadi Diab
• Dr Jiries Khoury
• Ms Sider Daibes
• Ms Nora Kort
• Ms Lucy Thaljieh
• Mr Nidal Abu Zulof
• Mr Yusef Daher
• Mr Rifat Kassis - coordinator of the initiative
Media contact in Jerusalem: Ranjan Solomon +972-54-733-7857
Full text of the Kairos Palestine Document:
For the list of signatories:
Churches in the Middle East: solidarity and witness for peace:
Additional information: Juan Michel,+41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363 email@example.com
The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, from the Methodist Church in Kenya. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.
25 Nov 2009
Eid, ODSG, Walls & Water and The One State Solution
18 november 2009
(Action at bottom)
Many years ago my son had two pet hamsters who took turns running on a metal exercise wheel without of course getting anywhere (but occasionally we would let them run free in a room in the home). I was reminded of those two hamsters this week because politicians occasionally do the same running around without going anywhere by only verbally (thus only exercising their speech muscles). The Israeli regime just decided to continue violating International law by building 900 new units in the Jewish only colony of Gilo near us here in Bethlehem. The Bethlehem district has lost nearly 80% of its areas to Israel and the remaining 20% (the concentration camp) is now very crowded with half of the population in the district being refugees or displaced Palestinians. Yet politicians ranging from German Chancellor to French foreign minister to British Prime Minister to the US president took turns repeating meaningless words about this action "delaying" or "harming" the "peace process" (as if there is a peace process or any possibility of a fair negotiations between the 4th strongest army in the world and an occupied colonized people). Ariel Sharon who is just as alive as the peace process used to pronounce it the "piss process". In the 1970s and 1980s European and North American leaders used to accurately describe settlements/colonies are ILLEGAL (Israel is violating International law by building in the occupied areas) yet do nothing about them (actually in many cases fund them and support them). Now they are "not helpful" "unilateral" and "they delay"…
There are actually numerous UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR, those not vetoed by the US) that clearly articulate their illegality. If Israel was forced to comply with just half of the 35 UNSCR that it currently violating, we would have peace a long time ago. Here is just one UNSCR:
The Security Council, Having heard the statement of the Permanent Representative of Jordan and other statements made before the Council, Stressing the urgent need to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, Affirming once more that the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 1/ is applicable to the Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem,
1. Determines that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East;
2. Strongly deplores the failure of Israel to abide by Security Council resolutions 237 (1967) of 14 June 1967, 252 (1968) of 21 May 1968 and 298 (1971) of 25 September 1971 and the consensus statement by the President of the Security Council on 11 November 1976 2/ and General Assembly resolutions 2253 (ES-V) and 2254 (ES-V) of 4 and 14 July 1967, 32/5 of 28 October 1977 and 33/113 of 18 December 1978;
3. Calls once more upon Israel, as the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, to rescind its previous measures and to desist from taking any action which would result in changing the legal status and geographical nature and materially affecting the demographic composition of the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, and, in particular, not to transfer parts of its own civilian population into the occupied Arab territories… (UNSC resolution 446)
Yet, half a million colonial settlers were transferred to the occupied territories without any sanctions applied on Israel (thanks to the US veto power used at the behest of a foreign policy hijacked by the Israel-first lobby in Washington). Politicians regurgitate utter feeble ridiculous statements about the "peace process" being harmed. It is like standing over a rotting corpse with bones showing and saying to the murderer that the current actions make the chance of revival of the victim more difficult.
But what most irritates us here in Palestine is the collaborative Arab regimes and certain Palestinian self-appointed "leaders" whose spinning wheel also squeaks without going anywhere. They think the only way to maintain their privileged positions is to coddle up the US/Israeli policies while trying to maintain some legitimacy with their people by "condemning" or "deploring" Israeli actions on the ground that also "harm" the "peace process". They do not understand or even read history. They do not believe in their people or in the power of social movements to change history even when some of them come from backgrounds of social movements that did change history (e.g. the uprisings of 1987-1991 which was like the 1936 uprising transformational). And if we look at other countries, we see such social movements that made history (e.g. in the US getting the women's right to vote, ending the war on Vietnam, ending US support for Apartheid South Africa, civil rights movement, etc). As the ebbs and flows of activism go, we now see beginnings of new energy and movements precisely as the last attempts to prolong the failing track of Oslo (it was bound to fail because it was not based on International law or human rights but on the dominant regime's needs for subduing the resistance of the natives without giving them back their rights).
Below are links to some informative articles about the Israel lobby buying US congress, Israel's forgery, an open letter from a friend in Gaza to Obama, and a great article by Ali Abunimah on the one-state solution. I also added a brief letter from a friend who, like me, relocated to Palestine (I found it inspiring)
Congressmen Denouncing U.N. Inquiry Receive Handsome Donations from Pro-Israel Lobby http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2009/11/congressmen-denoncing-un-inqui.html
Israel forgery of "Iran shipment of Weapons to Hizballah"
Open letter from Dr. Haidar Eid of Gaza to the President of the US
Israeli Jews and the one-state solution, by Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 10 November 2009
A letter of a friend who now lives in Palestine. I connect so much to what he says and with his permission, I am sharing it
To Dina from Rajai Masri
I never felt so fulfilled as I do now, Dina. Not at all in terms of material gratifications or narrow personal achievements. It is, very truly, being in the midst of our people, living their aspirations and frustrations, but, foremost, trying to improve their lot, extremely minuscule an effort, yet, being able to do that. You just can not imagine, other things being equal, how beautiful our youth are, and how in need they are for role models to guide them with sincerity and selfless devotion. Nearly every one here helps support a larger family that undoubtedly lost a son or a daughter or a few. These young men look so healthy, so proud and so human. They are so solid despite that all they know, knew and have experienced is personal suffering and deprivation.
The other day, Dina, driving to Jerusalem, on a Friday, I had the Radio listening to a program called Maraseel, (Messages). It broadcasts every Friday afternoon where families of Palestinian prisoners convey messages to their incarcerated beloved ones in Israeli jails. Listened to scores of aggrieved mothers, so brave and inspiring convey news to their beloved imprisoned children. So many, Wallahi, so many of these mothers have more than one child (son or a daughter) in Israeli Jails at the same time. Here is a mother sending her greetings to a son in Ofar prison and another message to two other sons in Al-Naqab, or Asqalan, or Majido Prison. The number of prisons, Dina, mentioned during that short broadcast counts in scores.
What's heart wrenching, Dina, and what reduce us the Afandis, so called privileged Arabs, Palestinians and world humanists, to the size of the newt, is how removed and ambivalent we are of the sufferings and poverty of these families often left without a bread earner who is either in prison or is martyred. Here is a mother telling her son, or sons, that she sent them money to purchase their ration of cigarettes. Another telling her son or sons of money sent to them to purchase some of their consumer needs. Another mother speaks of buying her son clothes that she sent him. One mother, Dina, assuaging the bereavement of a son who is just sentenced to 12 years, to never mind, be strong and confident. Another, telling her son that the lawyers now have a date for his trial. Another mother tells, and it was the early days of this month, November, that her visitation permit (issued by the Israeli Occupation authority in Beit Eil that the mother has to travel and endure the hardships of qualifying and obtaining such permit) excludes the whole month of November. That's only a sample of the much more stories of what one hears.
As to the so-called the expatriate Palestinian investors, mostly the tycoons whose avarice knows no bounds and total lack of patriotism know no limit, they are syphoning the Occupied Territories of desperately needed funds that help create genuinely productive employment and jobs that help the steadfastness of the people under occupation. These tycoons engage in speculative transactions that literary impoverished the little guys, and had huge funds repatriated as profits outside Palestine to only inflate their already huge wealth and that of other so-called expatriate Palestinian investors. I have many specific stories to tell with exact numbers and figures.
The people here are so creative, Dina, managing to do with the little, with the meagre of existence. All this, Dina, while maintaining an incredible high spirit and incredible determination. They stand to still give more and sacrifice endlessly. Left alone to face one of the mightiest and harshest occupying power, their confidence render them truly great heroes, a model that one day Historians will recall their epic steadfastness and incredible dignity in an another Illiad that are very well deserving off.
As to the rest of the Arab countries, just Do Not Stab the occupied Palestinians in the back. No support needed, just stop conspiring to defeat the Palestinians' spirit of steadfastness. As the international movement of BDS (Boycott, Divest and impose Sanctions) is building up, the Arab countries, foremost the so-called moderates, ought to cease clandestine normalization with Occupation force. So sadly that its under the gaze, rather the active instigation, of these countries that the once all powerful Arab Boycott Office in Damascus was bribed, corrupted and rendered non-functional.
ACTIONS: For people in NY: Join on Wednesday Nov 21 to tell Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to Cancel the Event! Tell the Mets & Major League Baseball Not to Support Violent, Israeli Racist Settlers. http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/publish/article_1232.shtml
For people elsewhere: Do similar actions, write to media and ploliticians and ask them to stop squeaking and start acting. Join the Boycotts, sanctions and divestment movement: http://www.bdsmovement.net
13 November 2009
(brief video linked at end)
I have not been to Beirut since I was five years old (but I do remember some things of it) and I was a bit nervous since much has happened in the decades since. Lebanon and Palestine together with Jordan and Syria have always been connected; only after the British and French decided to divide us and give part of the land to European Jews to replace the natives that we became separated and disconnected (and sometimes querreling). I was invited as a representative of the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem for a conference on water rights in the Jordan River basin 1. Our Lebanese hosts treated us like family: extremely gracious and hospitable. I was also anxious to visit the refugee camps in Lebanon and meet with activists (Lebanese and Palestinian) who I knew via the internet. I had written extensively on refugees and even reviewed a book on the massacre of Sabra and Shatila 2. (I was told that camps in the north and in the south need a special army permission to enter.).
I met with some refugees from Mar Elias and other camps in Lebanon and on Monday visited the Arab Resource Center for Popular Arts 3 which serves Lebanese and Palestinian youth from marginalized communities. An old friend (Raja Mattar) from Jafa who runs Palestine Student Aid arranged for a young Palestinian to take me to on an early morning trip to Sabra and Shatila. We met in front of the grandiose Crown Plaza hotel in the opulent AlHamra Street and the cab takes us to the edge of the camp and as we try to enter, the traffic snarls (the roads are really not designed for two way traffic). So we leave the cab stuck in the traffic and walk. I need to walk. We pass by a marketplace were the marginalized do their shopping (Lebanese and Palestinian). The market has everything from vegetables to used (and rather dirty looking) cloths and shoes to pieces of pipes, to books. Each of these things is laid out separately with their owners trying to sell their products to people who are just as poor as they are. Most of these stalls are not stalls at all but rather a sheet of plastic or even newspapers on which they had spread the "goods" they are trying to peddle. From what I observed, some of them would happily sell you all the contents of their area for less than $20. I have of course been to marketplaces in poor areas but this was a bit different. The appearance is of a busy market place where things are bought and sold for very inexpensive prices (usually less than a dollar which here equals 1500 Lebanese liras). But as we move through the "market place". But it is not a noisy place; the vendors were not calling out like they do in Bethlehem. There was little of the sounds of buying and selling of haggling of jokes. It was a subdued affair that puzzled me. Perhaps more merchants than customers I thought. Maybe it was not the peak time of shopping. It is as if it was a museum where visitors move around and look in silence at paintings occasionally asking in hushed subdued voices about something that intrigues them.
As we get closer to the camp, the smell really becomes stronger. It is hard to describe it, a mixture of sewage and decaying trash, a pungent odor that perhaps is the opposite of fresh air, a staleness that and suffocating harshness that makes me wonder if I am hallucinating. But then we make a turn into the camp and nothing prepared me for this. I have been to over 30 refugee camps in Jordan and the West Bank and I did expect the refugee camps in Lebanon to be worse. I have read a lot and even seen pictures and some videos but still I was shocked by what I saw, what I smelled, what I heard and what I felt. The words I write cannot do justice to this. As I was videotaping and I was hoping to move my camera up to videotape the jumble of hundreds of crisscrossed wires overhead (home made infrastructure to bring electricity and phone service to those who could make the right connections (figuratively and literally), I hear a women's voice addressing me. "Shoo bitsawwer" (what are you photographing)? The first thing that occurs to me is that she will complain about my photographing (that happens in conservative societies) and I mumble something about coming from Bethlehem and touring the camp and she starts to tell me about the clinic doctor. I am a bit confused. She says there is one doctor and hundreds of patients. And that she could not get the doctor in the UNRWA clinic to see her daughter. It was then that I noticed the girl shyly hiding behind her mother. I make stupid useless words since I really don't know what to say as her daughter tells her to move on. I go back to videotaping the wires and the political posters and the people. Children are everywhere and they like my camera. I note no toys around, no bicycles, no balls, no squeaky ducks or stuffed animals. A couple of the kids have found things that they considered toys: a stick, a rubber band, a segment of a plastic pipe. Some have even connected these things to make things with no use. I videotape some of them and rewind and show them their smiley faces. I smile and speak to them feeling like I do with my own family. But my mind is tortured. I fight back the tears as I pan my camera from their smiley faces to the open sewers that are running right next to them. This is their playgrounds I think. Most of them have never been outside of this camp. This is all they know. A man tells the kids to leave us alone.
A woman at a window on the second floor beats an old rug to get rid of the dust. My "guide" Waseem warns me about puddles or obstacles in the narrow alleys (there must a better word to describe a meter wide dirt opening between dense dwellings in impoverished areas, maybe masarib in Arabic?). Waseem is from Nahr El Bared, a camp that was essentially completely destroyed by shelling as the Lebanese army fought a group of extremists. The camp is still not reconstructed so his family lives at the edge of camp in temporary dwellings. Anyway, we go back to taking in the sounds, smell, feel, and sight of this camp. Too many emotions run over me and not one of them uplifting. We pass by the UNRWA clinic and I see lots of Palestinian mothers going in with their children. Right next to it, there are some workers using a jackhammer to dig the street. The kids jumping around and over the open hole in the ground (yes with sewage) almost seemed like they were mocking the work. My first analytic thought comes to mind: this is not a place to try to fix anything at the margins, it should all be changed, and these people need to go back to their villages from where they were ethnically cleansed. But then I feel strangely guilty for thinking something I have thought of a million times before and have worked hard on. The guilt is maybe due to the fact that here and now, I actually can do very, very little.
The hopeless tangle of wires, pipes, shaky dwellings seemed not to be of help to thousands living here. But now it seemed that the infrastructure has its own life and that the people are not its friend but its foe and I am now trapped with them although for a short time. I remember a horror movie I saw as a kid and simply think that before my father died, I should have asked him if at age 5 when we visited Beirut, did we visit the refugee camp and if not why not. Time is an enemy and we have other commitments. We make our way to go to the edge of the camp where there is a memorial for the 1982 massacre. The memorial is in a fenced yard) behind another street that was remade into an open marketplace. It seems slightly busier than the other marketplace. In front of the entrance they are selling watches, cloths, and shoes but inside the only inhabitants are a group of chickens (strangely of a fancy breed). The memorial is neglected, empty and quite except for the muffled sounds from the street. There are banners that seem to be old and fading. Here the camp smell I described earlier is replaced by another smell, the smell of death mixed with chicken feathers. Or maybe I am hallucinating since it is actually relatively clean place. Maybe I am now totally crazy. Waseem seems even more subdued here. He finally points to another banner and simply says, "this is to commemorate other Israeli massacres." I take short clips of video and I remember merely walking out and not looking back. Waseem tells me not to video on the street outside the camp because of presence of military people and the Kuwaiti embassy (that is heavily fortified). But I had not intended to do that anyway. We walk in silence. Later in the taxi, away from it all, I start to ask him about himself: he just graduated an electrical engineer. No jobs for people like him from the camps. Nothing to do. He refuses to let me pay for the cab either way. I go back to my hotel room and only then I cry. I cry for these refugees abandoned by an uncaring world, I cry for all the other things I heard and felt on this trip, and I cry for our injured humanity.
In visiting the American University of Beirut (where so many Palestinians studied including my uncle who died young at age 27 after finishing his PhD), there is a McDonalds hamburger joint right in front of the University. A day later in Jordan being driven by my friend Zuhair to his house, we pass by Jordan University and I see another Macdonald also in front of the University. I complain about this globalization (especially of Zionist-run Starbucks and other franchises that aid ethnic cleansing and hurts our causes). Zuhair reminds me that there are so many people who collaborate in the rape of Palestine and so many people who just stand there and watch. There are really few activists like the ones I met in Beirut. But we reminisce that good people (Jordanian, Lebanese, Palestinians, and Internationals) make a difference in society every day. It has always been like that. The institute that invited us (Ibrahim Abd-ElAl Institute represent the memory of such a person and the attendees represent such people): individuals who do not put personal interest ahead of people interests, individuals who care and who act on this caring. Those are the people who give us hope for a better future where we all work together against apathy and against the evil that keeps us apart.
Here is a short (less than 5 minutes) and poorly edited video (I am an amateur) I put on youtube on my short trip
Article in Arabic about the conference
3 November 2009
Yesterday and while politicians fretted over terms like "slow-down" or "restraint" on illegal settlement activities, the Israeli authorities demolished more homes and evicted some 30 people in Jerusalem. One room that is part of a demolished building housed a handicapped women whom neighbors and friends had helped get modifications done to facilitate her life. Tonight we heard a rather depressing report from an organizer in AlBustan Neighborhood in Silwan (Occupied Jerusalem) where 88 homes (housing 1500 people, 60% of them children) are slated for demolition to create a "King David park". In a normal city, parks are created to serve the residents of the area not to ethnically cleanse them. While just nearby there are spaces for parks to build but Israel's plan for Jerusalem call for cleansing it of its Arab inhabitants so that there is nothing left to negotiate about and it becomes a Jewish city (capital of Israel forever). The political plan for judaicizing this area is actually laid out in the "Jerusalem 2020" plan. After building two rings of settlements around Jerusalem (and now to be connected with light railways that make a network of "facts on the ground"), the plans for this closest ring of settlements, parks, synagogues, and museums is yet the most destructive to the local inhabitants. That Israel is violating International law (Geneva Conventions and UN Security Council resolutions) seems to be only met with muffled protests from the International community. We are told of a seven year old boy whose mother notices bulging backpack going to school and back, when opened, the bag contained his toys. When asked about it it turns out that the child had overheard his parents talking about the demolition order on their home and he wanted to make sure that if he comes back from school and finds his home demolished, his most valuable toys would be saved. My heart breaks for these families. But I feel sad for the Zionist "believers" who are generating so much pain in a new generation of children suffering under this brutal colonizing state. How is reconciliation to be achieved when 7 million people were made refugees or displaced people so far (and more on the way). Doesn't International law support resistance to colonization? And is this resistance just the responsibility of the victims or also of all decent, thinking human beings regardless of their religion.
In other news, a Jewish American terrorist settler, Jack (aka Yaakov) Teitel who had been on a killing and destruction rampage against Palestinians for over 12 years (he had killed Isa Mahrama in 1997 and was released without any prison term) was arrested now by Israeli police because he is alleged to have planned to target leftist and gay Jews! Palestinian life and property continues to be cheap in this unholy Land.
Action for US citizens: Oppose the AIPAC initiated congressional resolution against the Goldstone report. Demand accountability and support for International law http://www.capwiz.com/adc/issues/alert/?alertid=14280606
Lest we forget: Pictures from the Israeli war crimes in Gaza (Palestinian Center for Human Rights)
Names and pictures of some of the Israeli war criminals responsible for these atrocities:
Video: Israeli social TV presents: Olives under occupation (on Israeli distruction andf theft of Olive trees) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDHmR59siII
The Jewish National Fund: Confiscating Bedouin Lands; Report by Yeela Raanan, RCUV
BTW, the Bethlehem University student I told you about in a previous action alert was handcuffed, blindfolded and transported to Gaza just two months before she was scheduled to finish her degree. Yet, another way Israel makes, per Hillary Clinton, "unprecedented" steps for "peace".
26 October 2009
"Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom." Martin Luther King Jr.
The past weekend, we had a conference over two days attended by over 200 people from around the world. The Conference addressed issues of Israeli colonialism, occupation, and racism. It was held in the Paradise Hotel in Bethlehem, a scene of previous Israeli attack that severely damaged this beautiful hotel. In workshops and panels we heard from distinguished activists like Omar Barghouti (PACBI), Shawan Jabarin (AlHaq), Ameer Makhoul (Ittijah), Jamal Juma' (Stopthewall.org), Shir Hever (AIC), Dalit Baum (WhoProfits), Ingrid Jaradat Gassner (Badil), Michael Warschawski (AIC), and many more. It was a very productive meeting with significant networking accomplished and plans for coalition building, for enhancing the growing BDS movement, for support of the people of Gaza and Jerusalem, and more. (see http://www.jai-pal.org/content.php?page=816 )
The meeting came at a critical and difficult period of our history when there is a confluence of events:
- The ramification of the Goldtone report and growing calls not only to hold Israeli leaders accountable for specific acts that amount to war cries and crimes against humanity (e.g. in Gaza) but to clearly identify Israel as the racist, colonial state at its core (from which emanates all these atrocities tat include ethnic cleansing).
- The intensified Israeli assault on the AlAqsa compound and the whole of the Holy City of AlQuds/Jerusalem in a final push to Judaicize the city and erase Arab Christian and Muslim heritage. Home demolitions, denial of basic rights of residence, denial of rights of worship and movement, and outright military assaults on the "city of peace" belie a culture of impunity and disregard for International law that has been allowed to grow. Leaders of Western, Arab, and Islamic world meanwhile oscillate between outright facilitation of the atrocities to collaboration to indifference (and I am not sure those are distinct or meaningful categories). Many of us began to think that should Israel destroy the holy sites and build a Jewish temple in its place, we would see merely a few more declarations and statements. Stand-up for Jerusalem is new website to help families being ethnically cleansed http://www.standupforjerusalem.org/
- Self-created weaknesses. The continued split between Gaza and the West Bank with two "authorities" in essence as if two wings of the prison are being ruled by separate prison factions while the jailer is happy watching the prisoners waste time cursing each other. I looked into this and read and interviewed many people. My thought is that it is essential to speak the truth regardless of which prison section we are in. I noted that both leaderships stated things that are patently untrue about the reality of what transpired over the past three years. But also both ignored the fact that this situation is directly related to the original and huge mistake of signing Oslo and going down the path that led to an "authority" whose job it is to control the local population while the occupation remains. It is far better to simply state NOW that Oslo was supposed to be an interim 5 year arrangement, it is now 16 and it is time to declare it dead. Let us not bicker about "elections" in the West Bank and Gaza and instead make an agreement to dissolve those authorities and implement the agreement already signed by all factions on the revival/reactivation of the PLO. If we want to have more courage, these factions would take a political initiative like supporting the one state solution. We will explore these issues in the Arabic newsletter sent to those who indicated interest/wanted to be subscribed.
- The logarithmic growth of the boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS) movement (see http://www.bdsmovement.net )
ACTION 1: Join the Gaza Freedom March http://www.gazafreedommarch.org
ACTION 2: Petition to create special tribunal for Israeli war crimes (33,300n already signed)
ACTION 3: Join PACBI Listserve to stay abreast of academic and cultural boycott issues
ACTION 4: Campaign to free Palestinian prisoners held in Egyptian jails, at least one of whom was clearly tortured to death (Arabic)
20 Oct 2009
My mother says I should have worn long sleeves for the Palestinian olive trees sometimes do not want to part with their fruits without a bit of resistance. But somehow I feel the few minor scratches are a badge of honor and the least I owe our beloved trees. The whole year, we look forward to these days. My sister, wife, mother, and I harvested the olive trees sometimes silently, sometimes talking about mundane things, and rarely speaking of things of consequence. But thoughts are another story. My thoughts wonder to the Palestinians who lost their olive groves to the colonial settlement activity (over 1 million trees have been uprooted). The picture of the old women hugging her tree that was being cut by the Israeli occupiers flashes through my mind (see photo below*). I am reminded of my deceased father during such time. I feel at peace with the sorrow and anger overwhelmed by emotions of gratitude and serenity under the old olive trees. The olive harvest is after all a ritual that borders on an act of worship (and maybe it is). The stimulation of our senses during the harvest is hard to describe. It is not just the invigorating smells of the olive leaves and whiffs of olive oil but the shape and feel of each olive as our hands comb the tree like a mother combing her daughters hair, the sight of beloved ones tending the same tree before moving to the next. We smile and greet neighbors who stop by to say hello or comment on the production this year (it is actually a poor year since last year was really good and these things alternate). The mechanics of the harvest and the post-harvest work become routine for anyone who has done it once. Old carpets or sheets are spread under the tree. Olives are dropped onto those (never by hitting the tree!). The gathered olives are separated from leaves and any remaining stems removed (on a “sidr”/tray that is inclined). They are kept aired out on mats in a dry place while big healthy olives are picked for pickling. The pickling involves cracking the olives and submerging them in water containing salt, lemon juice, pieces f lemons, and some lemon leaves. The remaining olives are taken to the press where olive oil is produced. In the old days, we had a stone press with an animal (donkey or mule) rotating two large circular stones placed in a hollowed stone shaped like a cake pan. Now the modern presses (made in Turkey) do the operation in no time at all.
It is hard to describe to non-Palestinians what the olive tree means to us. We could tell of the practical things but that would be like saying our spouses mean a lot to us because of .. (and then list all the things they do). Ofcourse these things are important but not the whole picture and we could never do justice that way to people or other living things we love. But just like listing what people do helps others visualize their character, so it is with the beloved olive tree. Palestinians over the past 5000 years have cultivated olive trees and derived great benefit from these wonderful hardy trees:
1) The olive (Zeitoon) was pickled (mkhallal) and eaten and perhaps it is the only food that is found in all three meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Its nutritional value is credited with significant health benefits.
2) The olive oil (Zeit) is THE oil in Palestine. It is highly nutritious and used in dozens of recipes. The main and most common folkloric recipe going back over 3000 years is Zeit u Zaatar (also sometimes called Zeit u Dukka); the bread is dipped in olive oil then in a thyme based powder (that includes sesame seeds and spices). Thyme and Sesame and many other plans were ofcourse first domesticated and used right here in Palestine (the left wing of the fertile crescent). Olive oil was used in Palestine more extensively in the past in oil lamps, in protection of hair and skin, as a lubricant, as an insecticide, and much more.
3) The olive pits (and less so olive wood pieces) are used to make “prayer beads” that were used by both Palestinian Christians and Muslims for hundreds of years. The simple act of running fingers through these beads sometimes meditating in the process while concentrating on that feeling gives us a sense of tranquility and peace (much needed considering the circumstances of Palestine over the ages).
4) The olive wood is used to make artifacts that locals sell to pilgrims as souvenirs from the Holy Land or keep at their homes. This is true for all monotheistic traditions. Here in Bethlehem, our ancestors made a living of this as artisans for generations (my own family relied on this and agriculture as far back as we can trace to the 16th century).
5) The herds of sheep and goats rely on olive leaves and branches trimmed during this season for a significant part of their annual diet.
6) The wood was used (less so recently) as firewood. It is a hardy wood that generates much heat per unit kilogram than any other wood I know. The glass smelters in Hebreon (famous for ist stained glass artistry) used olive wood derived coals as a main energy source.
7) The olive trees gave our people shelter from the strong sun and inspired poets, lovers, painters, and prophets across the ages.
8) Even the left over material after the production of oil is recycled for energy source.
Here are a few pictures taken by my wife of our harvest, pickling and squeezing of olives to get our yearly supply of these trees:
Olive production is always high in one year low in the next**. Last year was high, this year was low and next year (Inshallah) it will be higher barring further destruction by Israel as happened in Gaza recently. In the meantime, we still enjoy our olives and hope that you will come visit us in Palestine so that we can serve you some of the fantastic dishes that include olives or their products and we can do it under the olive trees. I also noted this interesting story of a Palestinian in China proving again that you can take Palestinians outside of Palestine but you cannot take Palestine outside of Palestinians:
China’s first olive harvest strikes oil
The Olive tree: a folkloric briefing from Bethlehem University
Photo below is of Mahfoutha Shtaya, 65 year old who “inspired us when she stood up to Israeli soldiers and settlers in 2004 when they were uprooting hundreds of olive trees in her village-the source of her community's livelihood. Alone and defenseless, she clung to one of the few trees left standing. Her action spoke out powerfully against the wanton destruction and its disastrous effects for an already suffering people” http://www.opendemocracy.net/blog/5050?page=7
** Olive Oil production in West Bank and Gaza in tons showing yearly cyclical change with higher production in even years:
18 Oct 2009
On 16 October 1935, a barrel marked “cement” fell as it was being unloaded from ships at the port in Jaffa. The broken barrel contained guns, grenades, and ammunition and was one of many secret shipments to the underground Zionist terrorist militias in Palestine. That incident among others (including the British government collusion in marginalizing natives in Palestine while encouraging Zionist Jewish migration and takeover) led in the year after to the great Palestinian uprising of 1936. Before the state of Israel was founded, these terrorist underground militias that were to become the Israel “Defense” Forces committed over 100 massacres of civilians. The atrocities intensified in the months leading up to the “declaration of indeperndence”. In March and April 1948 alone over 25 massacres were committed including infamous ones such as Tantura and Deir Yassin. Israeli leaders themselves credited these actions as of great use in getting the Palestinians to evacuate Palestine so that a Jewish state could be established without a demographic “burden” of “non-Jews” (Christains and Muslims). The massacres continued after the war with government ordered slaughters at Kufr Kassem in 1956 (see http://www.taayush.org/new/kassem.html), and more until the latest slaughter of 1400 in three weeks in Gaza (most of them civilians). This showed that the state of Israel is still addicted to these policies of terror. Israeli leaders as before try to intimidate the world into silence and some do comply (the US and some Western Countries also feed this addiction with money and weapons and use of veto power to protect Israel from Internatioanl law). . However, ethnic cleansing via state terrorism has become more exposed over the decades and Israeli leaders have been frustrated. They started using other coercive tools to affect the Zionist goal of a Palestine free from Palestinians: economic strangulations, bureaucracy, unjust laws analogous to the Nutremberg laws etc. The major credit for the decreased effectiveness of slaughter as an instrument of policy is Palestinian resistance (most of it civil resistance). The second factor is that in the age of the internet, governments and wealthy racists have less control over information. The public even in the US, Holland, France, England etc is largely aware and disgusted by their governments’ support of ethnic cleansing in Palestine. We need to now translate the public mood and sentiment into change in government policy. That takes determination, energy and opportunity. We have an opportunity NOW. The UN Human Rights Council voted by 25 : 6 to accept the Goldstone report despite intensive lobbying by the Israeli government and by the (Zionist dominated) US government. 25 Countries voted for the resolution including China, Russia, Egypt, India, Brazil, Jordan, Pakistan, South Africa, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Ghana, Indonesia, Djibouti, Liberia, Qatar, Senegal, Mauritius, Nicaragua, and Nigeria. Six countries voted against the report: US, Italy, Holland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Ukraine. 11 countries abstained: Bosnia, Burkina-Faso, Cameron, Gabon, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Belgium, South Korea, Slovenia and Uruguay. Others did not show-up to vote. Citizens of all those countries should write to their representatives in government (Presidents, parliamentarians etc) and commend those who supported accountability for war criminals and shame those who voted against it or abstained (spineless) thus becoming complicity in such war crimes. We must also reject the attempts by some countries to save Israel by asking it to conduct an internal investigation; you cannot ask a criminal to investigate his crime and Israel never found its leaders culpable for even one of the hundreds of massacres they committed). (British Prime Minister Brown and French President Sarkozy wrote a joint letter to Netanyahu with diplomatic language that only means more green light to do state terror in the name of “security”)
The importance of this is not to be underestimated (hopefully eventually shocking the Israeli public out of its denial). This worries the Israeli government . The vote and potential downstream events have dominated the interest and talk of Israeli media and politicians. According to Haaretz: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Friday that Israel must prepare for a protracted struggle against a damning United Nations report..” and daughter of Irgun terrorist and war criminal Tzipi Livni stated “Today's vote was political and cynical. Israel will continue to do the right thing and to protect its citizens, and will continue the international battle against the report to ensure the legal protection of IDF officers, wherever they may be.” The apartheid government is quickly forming a high level task force to exonerate itself and all its criminals. The Turkish government also took principled positions adding to the apartheid system delusions of denial and desperation (far better than positions of Arab countries like Jordan and Egypt and Israel is also panicking on this; imagine if Arab countries cut their ties) I think all of us should create grassroot committees all around the world to ensure accountability and to redouble our efforts on boycotts, divestments, and sanctions per the Palestinian Civil Society call to Action (http://www.bdsmovement.net/?q=node/52 ).
EI exclusive video: Protesters shout down Ehud Olmert in Chicago Olmert is one of those war criminals w2ho should be at the Hague for his crimes in Gaza and beyond
things are changing: American Jews rethink Israel
Why Are Palestinians Losing Faith in Obama? Ask Rahm Emanuel
The Palestinians have the Cairo speech to hold on to, but I have bad news for them. Bibi is eating Obama’s lunch. No one in that top 50, or the top 500 have any loyalty to the oppressed residents of the West Bank or Gaza. Official Washington has been drinking the AIPAC kool-aid for so long they don’t know what all the fuss is about.
Episcopal News Service: JERUSALEM: Evicted Palestinian family keeps watch near home taken by settlers By Rev. Pat McCaughan
14 Oct 2009
Human Rights: We Shall Overcome Oct 14, 2009
ACTION: Israeli leaders are squirming to not be charged with war crimes and to contain the growth of the Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. We are upping the pressure. Join the first marathon of BDS October 16-17 around the world.
1) Organize an event activity during Friday and Saturday 16/17 October 2009 and let us know at: firstname.lastname@example.org
2) Stop the Wall will publish a time table with all planned activities.
3) We will put you in touch with the activists mobilizing before and after you. If your activity and access to internet/phone allows, you will be able to directly take over from the previous activity and hand over to the next action.
You may organize activities such as protests, leaflets handouts, street actions, speaking events, video screenings, book readings, powerpoint presentations, radio/TV programs, internet actions, a twitter campaign, a fax blitz…Be creative!
For activist material to make your event a success, contact email@example.com
11 Oct 2009
Speech by President Obama delivered in Congress 2010
My fellow Americans.
Millions of you and not special interest groups elected us to office on a platform of change and it is time for us all to deliver. I am laying out a program to do so but first we have to face some painful truths that have increasingly became obvious to me and to millions of you in the past year…
On the economy:
As you know, we now have the largest ever recorded debt for this government (at 11.9 trillion dollars meaning some $40,000 national debt per citizen of the USA). We have also just recorded the largest deficit in budget in history with our government expenses outpacing revenue by $1.4 trillion for the last fiscal year. The fact that our citizens and corporations are also frequently in debt to the same creditors means that those creditors hold a very strong stranglehold on our economy and our nation's future. Some of those people are individuals who have traditionally owed their office to the US government- people like royal families in the Gulf Arab states. Others have far more influence and control over International financial institutions. The future of America cannot be held hostage to those foreign interests.
A study by the economist Thomas R. Stauffer showed that the cost of the US support to Israel until 2003 was $3 trillion (Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June 2003). I have asked an independent team of economic advisors (not including any supporters of Israel or of Palestinians) to evaluate these figures and the panel concluded that the figures are actually somewhat higher. Seven years ago, our country has invaded and occupied Iraq costing us thousands of American lives and over a million Iraqi lives but also costing us an additional $3 trillion (see the book by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stieglitz and Kennedy School of Government professor Linda J. Bilmes, “The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict”). That we attacked Iraq in contravention of the UN charter and at the behest of a group of neoconservative Zionists is now well established (see the book by Professors Mearsheimer and Walt on this Israel-first lobby). The same lobby is pushing us for conflict with Iran which other economists estimate will be even far costlier (Iran has a size and population three times that of Iraq and its military is far more advanced than Iraq ever was even before the sanctions were applied to Iraq in the 1990s). In short, our support for Israel (even excluding conflict with Iran) has cost us more than half our national debt of $12 trillion. My administration proposed that we must get our house in order, spend and live within our means but these statements must now be matched by actions and I call on us in the executive branch and on both houses of Congress to get together to effect a real change that will prevent any further erosion in our economic power and slowly begin to reclaim our rights.
On national security:
My fellow Americans....I was gratified to receive the Nobel Peace Prize but getting top peace is not an easy task when dealing with a history of wars and conflicts over the past 200 years. This is especially true when we in America had a large part to play in these wars and conflicts. In 1916, the first major European war was raging and had reached a deadly stalemate with trench warfare. Germany offered a deal to end the war and the parties returning to prewar borders. But our country was approached by a group of our own citizens who as part of the International World Zionist Organization have made a different deal with Britain and France. These citizens including one previous Supreme Court Judge pressured our government to enter the war on the side of the allies who promised the Zionist movement to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine in return for this lobbying effort. Palestine then had a population that was 93% Christian and Muslim native Palestinians. The Jules (French) and Balfour (English) public declarations of support for the Zionist project were then adopted also by the US Congress under heavy Zionist pressure. Many humanistic Jews opposed the scheme that would collect them from around the world displacing native population. Despite the majority of the US public being against us entering that European first war, our government decided to go to war based on these narrow short-term political interests. After WWII, my predecessor President Truman decided to support the Zionist project for similar reasons. This only matched his decision to use atomic weapons that killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of civilians even when he knew that surrender by Japan could have been achieved in other less deadly ways. Since 1945, we have used American military forces in over 40 countries killing millions. Today we have US troops stationed in three times as many countries. Our military uses most of our discretionary budget. We are now engaged in active hot conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Our military forces have also engaged in attacks in Somalia and Sudan in the last two years. It is not a coincidence that these are all countries in the Middle East that the domestic lobby called AIPAC has had a lot to say about long before the conflicts arose.
The security establishment now recognizes that our attacks on these countries did not enhance our security but degraded it in the long term and created a pool of millions who hate our policie. Since the events of Sept 11, 2001, the US has lost more credibility around the world as we failed to investigate the real reason behind these events or to draw the appropriate lessons. Instead our government chose to listen to foreign agendas and engage in brutal attacks on others who had nothing to do with Sept 11 using manufactured myths and propaganda that we are now resurre4cting with respect to yet one more country- Iran. Surveys showed that even among our traditional allies in Western Europe, people believe the US and Israel (not Iran or North Korea) pose the most significant risk to world peace. My administration has done much to allay the fears of the rest of the world about US hegemony and intentions of unilateral dictates on their future. But our statements must be matched with actions on the ground which we have so far failed to achieve. We cannot address people’s legitimate concerns about US policy by public relations.
Addressing these challenges:
The conundrums created by the policies cited above cannot be solved by incremental changes like stimulus packages, healthcare reforms, shuffling some troops from one country to another, or closing Guantanamo (needed as these are). The American people and the world at large look for real change and it is time to listen to them instead of Washington lobbyists. I am laying out these principles that I believe are critical to begin to achieve the change we all seek:
1-I ask Congress to dissolve the Federal Reserve (a private unelected entity of Bankers) an institution that caused great pain in our country. The Government will print its own money and this money will return to being backed by Gold. We cannot continue down the same direction that already degraded the dollar value by 40% against the leading world currencies over the past few years.
2-I have invoked my right as a commander in chief and in compliance of US law that prohibit funding violators of human rights and issued an executive order that suspended all military and economic assistance to the state of Israel (now at $3 billion is our largest foreign aid recipient) until a) it complies with human rights and prosecutes all officers who committed human rights violations (especially those using US supplied weapons and finances) and b) it complies with all relevant United Nations General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. I ask the American public to engage in discussion to expose the extent of financial loss caused to us by support of Israeli violations of these resolutions. Citizens have a right to demand transparency about who lobbies their congressional representatives and what decisions they make in Congress that benefits foreign powers at the expense of US citizens. Hillary Clinton had to step down as Secretary of State because of clear conflict of Interest issues that will be investigated involving the same foreign interests. I am pleased to report that Cynthia McKinney has accepted to be my nominee for Secretary of state.
3-I have instructed my Attorney General to create a task force to seek return and reimbursement to the American public from the World Zionist Organization and the State of Israel the massive transfer in wealth that occurred as a result of their activities especially when these activities were illegal under US laws (e.g. not registering under the congressional requirement of registration as foreign lobbies). There is now considerable evidence that the Zionist movement has accumulated hundreds of billions of dollars with schemes that are at best shady and at worst extortionist and illegal, it would be indeed possible using existing laws to seek a return of these assets. There is also evidence that some of these same money was recycled to spend on lobbying activities to and pressure tactics to get even more billions of dollars.
4-I have asked the Department of Defense to begin the process of withdrawing US troops from all 120 foreign countries they are stationed in (beginning with Afghanistan). Our budget prediction is that once this is accomplished we will be able to trim our defense budget in half saving tax payers hundreds of billions of dollars.
5-We will create two new national museums each with the same budget as the current National Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. The museums will commemorate the genocides (holocausts) of Native Americans and of African Americans. This will begin to heal the wounds of our world and face-up to our own historical responsibilities.
6- Where we were wrong historically we must face up to it. I have thus asked ex-president Jimmy Carter and the group of elder statesmen to lead the creation of a “Truth and Reconciliation Department” with sections to deal with all outstanding issues including Vietnam, our war and Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. The commissions created under this Department will have jurisdictions to prosecute war criminals or refer them to the International Courts as legally appropriate.
7-We will no longer support dictators and corrupt leaders. We will demand removal of dictators like Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak who has been in office for over three decades with Western support. We will support democratic elections even when parties that get elected are not supportive of Israel or the previous US policy shaped in Tel Aviv. We will instead engage in immediate talks with groups like Hezbollah and Hamas and with countries like Venezuela and Iran to build a better future for all of us inequality and we will push for democracy and support of the will of the people even when this means resistance to Israeli hegemony. As John Kennedy stated once "If we make peaceful revolution impossible, we make violent revolution inevitable."
8-We must focus on the daunting real challenge of our planet not the manufactured crises that special interests want us to focus on. Thus, instead of confronting Iran, Venezuela, and other nations, I am now asking those nations to join us as equals on the table to discuss climate change and fair and equitable distribution of world resources. We will together invest in alternative energy and safeguard our joint environment.
9- I urge our allies to use the example we set and face to the historical injustice they have committed (e.g. European Colonization in the Americas, Africa and Asia) so that we can put these issues behind us as we focus on other pressing issues.
These changes that provide practical solutions will be resisted by the same entrenched power that created the problems. We must be courageous enough to demand real change and implement it. We recall how in our nation’s history it was always people who made the change not politicians. It was the masses of people that gave the women’s right to vote, and later achieved the pressure needed to realize the enactment of civil rights laws. It was massive people resistance that ended the war on Vietnam and ended US support for Apartheid South Africa. To these movements we are also grateful for the 40 hour week and for social security and for the support of education that allowed a person like me to be who we can be. I believe this is another pivotal moment in our history. As we rise to the challenge, our economical, political, and moral standing will begin to make a real turn around.
I stated before that these challenges and the changes they require are bigger than one government or one country alone can handle. People of various faiths and of all political and ethnic backgrounds are indeed joining together to address these issues. I know we can count on millions of you in America and millions abroad to join us in this historic struggle for a better future. Now is the time for real change. This is our moment. Join us. God bless you and God bless our planet.
One can hope; if not Obama, then maybe another US president but only when and if more/enough US taxpayers wake –up to how they are being fleeced and cause the change... that is our responsibility…
8 October 2009
It happened in October in Palestine (*)
October 1920: The Zionist ruler of Palestine and British official Herbert Samuel issues decrees that facilitate transfer of lands from natives to immigrants setting the stage for the beginning of the ethnic cleansing policies that continue to this day.
27 October 1933: Musa Kadhem AlHusaini (Mayor of Jerusalem who resigned rather than accept to implement he occupation dictates in 1920) was injured in a nonviolent demonstration protesting Zionist mass immigration in Jaffa. This injury hastened his death on March 27, 1934. AlHuaini was born 1853, spoke fluent Turkish, and served as an Ottoman administrator and then appointed Mayor of Jerusalem in 1918. He was later elected representative of Jerusalem to the 3rd (December 1920, Haifa), 5th (August 1922, Nablus), 6th (June 1923, Jaffa) and 7th (June 1928) Congress of the Arab Executive Committee and was its president from Dec. 1920.
7 October 1947: The newly established Arab League held a meeting at the Prime Ministers level to which the Arab High Committee was not invited because rulers of Jordan and Iraq who were trying to thwart Palestinian nationalism objected. Haj Amin AlHusseini made an uninvited appearance and none of the attendees had the courage to eject him. AlHusseini proposed formation of a Palestinian government in exile to replace the AHC but his suggestion was rejected (again by the delegates of Iraq and Jordan). From then on the Palestine question was being handled by Arab Countries, the UN, and the empowered and powerful Jewish Agency with Zionist lobbies around the world.
1 October 1948: The Arab High Committee convened a Palestine Congress in Gaza and elected a Palestine Government. A constitution was drafted and the delegates elected a cabinet led by Ahmed Hilmi Abul Baqi as Prime Minister and Haj Amin AlHusseini as first President. The nascent government was recognized by many countries including all Arab Countries with the exception of Trans-Jordan.
October, 1948: Beit Jibreen, a village midway between Hebron and Majdal (Ashkelon) was attacked and sacked by Zionist forces. Umm Ibrahim Shawabkeh, a refugee from the village stated: “I was 12 in 1948 when the Jews drove us out. We fled from the village when the soldiers came and started shooting people. My grandparents did not want to leave their home; they hid in a cave near the village and the soldiers found them and shot them.”
October 1951 Israel rejects UN peace plan accepted by Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan.
Oct. 29, 1956 Israel invades and occupies the Gaza Strip and the Sinai peninsula with French and British collaboration. Backs down and withdraws after pressure from the US Administration (President Eisenhauer). The Zionist movement intensifies its efforts to establish effective lobbying in the US. The umbrella lobby group icalled American Israel Public Affairs Committee (established 1954) intensified its efforts with over 200 deceptively named groups to support Zionism (Delaware Valley PAC in Philadelphia, San Franciscans for Good Government in California, Cactus PAC in Arizona, Chili PAC in New Mexico, Beaver PAC in Wisconsin and even Ice PAC in New York are really pro-Israel PACs).
October 1973: Egyoptian and Syrian forces attack Israeli forces which were illegally occypying their land (Sinai and Golan respectively). The war could have bbeen won and the occupied lands liberated had it not been for US intervention in sending arms and intelligene and preventing the USSR from supporting the Arab armies.
14 October 1974: The UNGA recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people by a vote of 105 to 4 (US, Israel, Bolivia, Dominican Republic).
October 1987 and the start of the AlHijara Uprsiing: On 3 October 1987, demonstrations and strikes were held involving schools and colleges of the Gaza strip in protest of the killing by the Israeli occupation forces of three citizens near AlBureij refugee camp. These demonstrations were brutally attacked by Israeli soldiers which in turn led to more anger and more spreading of these demonstrations. On 8 October 1987, a number of demonstrations were held in cities, villages, and refugee camps in the Gaza strip after the killing of four Palestinians by Israeli occupation forces two days earlier. On 10 October 1987, demonstrations were held in many locations accompanied by strikes and 25 Palestinians were hit with live ammunitions. These demonstrations and strikes spread to the West Bank a women was killed and four injured in a peaceful demonstration in Al-Manara square in Ramallah on 12 October 1987. That murder prompted more demonstrations in the days that followed. Refugee camps in areas like Gaza Strip, Bethlehem, Nablus, East Jerusalem (Shufat refugee camp) had a leading role in these demonstrations. During the visit of US Secretary of State George Shultz to Jerusalem, a general strike was declared and a number of demonstrations were held in places like Jerusalem and Nablus with one youth murdered by the IOF. In one bloody incident the Israeli army attacked demonstrators in my current University (Bethlehem University) on the morning of Wednesday October 28, 1987 injuring 3 students with live ammunition one who died two days later with critical injuries (Ishaq Abusrour from Aida Refugee Camp). Subsequently, the occupying army ordered Bethlehem University to be closed for three months.
October 1989: Refusal to pay taxes to the occupation by residents of Beit Sahour (Shepherds’ Field). The town was placed under siege and curfew while it was pillaged. Representatives of a number of European countries and church leaders attempted to visit the town but were turned back by the Israeli army but later managed to sneak in through a back road. The Palestinisn Center for Rapprochement Between People was founded. The ideas became the first inklings that led to the later formation of the International Solidarity Movement.
8 October 1990. Faisal Husseni penned this poem that captures the spirit of resistance after the massacres by Israeli forces attacked worshippers in Al-Aqsa Mosque
Oh God, the chest is replete with bitterness… do not turn that into spite.
Oh God, the heart is replete with pain, do not turn that into vengeance.
Oh God, the soul is replete with fear… do not turn that into hatred.
Oh God, my body is weak…do not turn my weakness into despair.
Oh God, I, your servant, am holding the embers… so, help me maintain my steadfastness.
Oh God, faith is love… Oh God, faith is forgiveness… Oh God, faith is conviction…
Oh God, do not put off the flame of faith in my chest.
Oh God, we wanted for the Intifada to be a white one, so protect it.
Oh God, we wanted freedom for our people; we did not want slavery for others.
Oh God, we wanted a homeland for our people to be gathered; we did not attempt to destroy states of others nor demolish their homes.
Oh God, our people is stripped of all, except for his belief in his right.
Oh God, our people is weak, except in his faith and in his victory.
Oh God, grant us conviction, mercy and tolerance in our ranks and do not make us war against ourselves.
Oh God, turn the blood that was shed into light that will guide us and strengthen our arms and do not turn it into fuel for hatred and vengeance.
Oh God, help us over our enemy so that we could help him reconcile with himself.
Oh God, this is my prayer to you… my invocation. So listen to it and grant us our supplication and guide us to the Straight Path.
October 1, 2000 a nonviolent demonstration by Palestinian citizens of Israel was targeted with a barrage of live ammunition from Israeli forces killing 12 civilians (including children).
October 29, 2008 the SS Dignity managed to get to Gaza again breaking the hermetic seal (later ships were attacked and crew kidnapped in acts of Israeli piracy).
*Copyright: part of an upcoming book on history of Palestinian civil resistance
5 Oct 2009
It is hard to describe our emotions in the past three days in Palestine since we heard of the Palestinian "leadership" withdrawal of the discussions at the UN Human Rights Council about the Goldstone report. Can those who made the decision look straight in the eyes of the families of the 400 children butchered in Gaza and tell them that this was politically necessary because Hillary Clinton asked them to do it (the same administration that failed to even get the rapist to have a pause in his rape!)? Maybe just one family (attached picture)? And will the rest of us (and yes each of us is responsible) be able to look into these same eyes and tell them we were satisfied with expressing sympathy and uttering words? Who decreed that popular civil action cannot be directed at those who harm the cause and happen to also be Palestinian? Will our shame, anger and revulsion be NOW moved to civil action? Will we really have a democratic civil society or one ruled by a clique of elites? Will we say enough is enough and this was the straw that broke the camel's back? Demonstration in AlManara Square Ramallah today at noon.
Palestinians drop endorsement of Goldstone report on Gaza war Christian Science Monitor
Justice Delayed is Justice Denied: Decision of Palestinian Leadership and International Pressure an Insult to the Victims
Adalah * Addameer * Aldameer * Al Haq * Al Mezan * Badil * Civic Coalition for Jerusalem * DCI-Palestine * ENSAN Centre * Independent Commission for Human Rights * Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Centre * Palestinian Centre for Human Rights * Ramallah Centre for Human Rights Studies * Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling *
As human rights organisations we strongly condemn the Palestinian leaderships’ decision to defer the proposal endorsing all the recommendations of the Fact Finding Mission, and the pressure exerted by certain members of the international community. Such pressure is in conflict with States international obligations, and is an insult to the Palestinian people.
And below is the urgent statement by the The Palestinian NGOs Network (PNGO)
On this issue, I will send more in Arabic to our Arab readers
A Bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home
PNGO condemns PA request of delaying endorsement of Goldstone recommendations
PNGO expresses its bewilderment and strongly condemns the Palestinian Authority’s withdrawal of its draft resolution supporting the recommendations contained in the Goldstone Report, resulting in a deferral of a vote to endorse the report in the Human Rights Council to March 2010. The report suggests that war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity were committed by the Israeli military during its 23-day offensive in Gaza from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009.
PNGO considers that this move by the Palestinian Authority (PA) is an insult to the victims of Operation Cast Lead, and actively facilitates the ongoing impunity of suspected Israeli war criminals; while the siege on Gaza enters its 28th month, Israeli military attacks on the Palestinian population are ongoing and settlement expansion in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, continues unabated. PNGO is shocked at the suggestion by the PA that accountability for the victims in Gaza could adversely affect the peace process.
PNGO asks Palestinian political parties to immediately adopt a clear position about the PA decision and to request from the PA a public explanation. This decision has triggered embarrassment and disappointment among Palestinians and activists in the international community, who have made efforts to bring perpetrators of war crimes in Gaza to justice. The Palestinian Authority has wasted an important opportunity towards ensuring accountability of the State of Israel for their war crimes and human rights violations.
In the words of Justice Goldstone at the presentation of his report at the HRC on 29 September: "This is the time for action. The lack of accountability for war crimes and possible crimes against humanity has reached a crisis point; the ongoing lack of justice is undermining any hope for a successful peace process and reinforcing an environment that fosters violence."
The Palestinian NGOs Network(PNGO)
30 Sept 2009
In the last two days, I attended two conferences, one in An-Najah National University in Nablus on American Studies in Palestine and one at AlQuds University on the future of Palestine. The first was an interesting conference that showed there are so many Palestinians in different universities here who were educated in the US and who understand perfectly well how the US system works (sometimes their ideas are deeper and more relevant to US future than American Professors) and what it takes to change US foreign policy. The second conference was rather timely. It had far more contentious subject matter exacerbated by the state of confusion created in the Palestinian body politic after the Oslo Accords and what transpired from dividing Palestinians: those inside 1948 areas, refugees, “West Bankers”, “Gazans”, the returnees (many who were with Arafat in Tunis etc.) But we must all look in the mirror more and ask more questions. Instead of trying to pontificate answers, perhaps we should set-up specialized committees of experts in those areas.
One of our biggest deficits is that many of us think they are experts in every possible field of study and especially when it gets to political issues. Palestinian politicians (and dozens of aspiring politicians) hold rather opposite and contrasting points of view. That is not unusual in politics (what is unusual is sometimes inability to express thought processes in coherent and civil manner). We also have difficulty escaping the human failing of trying to fit all observations into preconceived boxes and paradigms. Thinking outside of the box is hard work. So arguments ensue between those who support resistance and those who support continued negotiations to arrive at something based on “International legitimacy” (as if these are really the only two options). During the conference, many heard the news that the Palestinian authority decided not to pursue war crimes charges based on the UN study of war crimes in Gaza (Goldstone Report). Days earlier, Israeli papers reported that the government considers the report: a) biased, b) detrimental to the peace process (as if there is such a thing with Israeli colonial governments), and c) will ensure Israel decide negatively on allowing commercial ventures inside the West Bank (in particular, the permission of the wavelength for the second Palestinian mobile phone service Wataniya). Of course all of us know these facts and can agree to them. But the meaning/interpretation of these things politically can generate heated discussions.
When Britian occupied Palestine after WWI, their first official act was to appoint a Zionist leader as High Commissioner in charge of the country. Herbert Samuel represented the World Zionist Organization in the Paris “peace conference” in 1919. In his autobiography he states that the British government did not appoint in spite of his Zionist affiliations but largely because of them. He came to Palestine and asked to meet with Palestinian leaders at the time. Debates ensued whether to attend or boycott him. The result was not a vote one way or the other but a split between those majority of high officials who went and met him and those minority who did not. But the average person on the street had a different answer: demonstrations and strikes etc. which became the first intifada under British rule. The political leadership later in 1921 decided to join in the swelling demonstrations (and even deliver “speeches” to the demonstrators). The pattern would repeat itself in the events of 1929, the events of 1936-1939, the demonstrations against Jordanian and Egyptian rules in the 1950s, the small uprising of the early 1970s, the larger uprising of 1987-1991… The people lead with actions, many politicians latch on to get some political benefit, bicker among themselves, try to undermine any action that they could not control, and use the usual tricks of political books to get their way (e.g. describing their political enemies as traitors to the cause). But this is more than balanced by the abundance of honest, decent people who rationally address issues; with the love of Palestine far more than outweighing their love of themselves. They are the ones who inspire, act and sacrifice (and that is the best definition of real leadership). Without those over the past 130 years, Zionism would have long achieved its original target of a Zionist empire between the Nile and the Euphrates.
I noted such inspiring people in abundance in reading our long history of struggle and I met many of them (e.g. among some speakers and even more audience members) at the conference at AlQuds. When political leadership becomes ossified and or obsolete, the people do create new structures. I recall how the Arab Higher Committee which accomplished so much in its early years of struggle in Palestine in the 1930s became obsolete by the 1940s and how the PLO came in to replace and inspire my generation. The credibility of any structure is totally dependent on the success in achieving goals and in sticking to basic rights. Man-made structures are certainly not permanent. The Palestinian people have shown, time and time again, that they are politically astute and that they will watch to see who will support their struggle more. We saw this when Palestinians in the WB and Gaza voted for Hamas (not because of the Islamist agenda, which many voters did not support but because they saw it as a stronger guardian of the basic rights like the right of return and self determination). Many would say that was foolish but like in other countries, I think politicians underestimate the wisdom of the public and while willing to go to elections, do not put their trust in their people. Unfortunately, when Hamas came to power, they made the same mistakes (exacerbated by the fact that they were pressured and besieged). I met a person on the street outside the conference who had more wisdom and knowledge (and certainly humility) than at least four leading invited speakers. Other speakers who spoke with humility and with facts and figures (and less rhetoric) showed a decency that is sure not to make them candidates for political office. These are the people I would like to spend more time with.
Yesterday, October 1st marked a successful strike by Palestinians inside the areas occupied in 1948. It was joined by many internationals and even European diplomats. It could herald the beginning of yet another stirring for freedom (Intifada). We need more of those. So my recommendation is that people join the march to Gaza January 1 http://www.gazafreedommarch.org (and similar events) as a practical step forward.
One positive practical development that came of the conference in AlQuds was that a few individuals interested in advancing the one-state agenda decided to hold a meeting in two weeks to develop the concept and the practical areas further on the ground (email me if you support the one state scenario and would like to be connected to the organizers).
URL to an interview about war crimes with Sara Baily (AlMezan in Gaza) and Mazin Qumsiyeh
Reminder: I am sending a separate (with different content) weekly email in Arabic. Let me know if you would like to receive that. ááÊÐßíÑ: ÑÓÇáÉ ÅÓíæÚíÉ ÈÇáÚÑÈíÉ ÈãÖãæä ãÎÊáÝ ÊÑÓá áãä íØáÈåÇ
27 Sept 2009
Bethlehem University was forced to close because the Israeli authorities imposed a "closure" of the West Bank because of Yom Kippur holiday. As our students and faculty from Jerusalem cannot get to Bethlehem (a mere 5 miles away) because of this closure, the educational activities cannot be carried out. Also all Palestinians who are lucky enough to have permits to cross into Palestinian Jerusalem (for work, educatin etc) are also thus forced to take a day off. In the meantime, the repression does not take days off. Israeli authorities are very busy in continued colonial activities from ethnic cleansing to stealing water (80% of the West Bank water is taken by Israel), to kidnapping and holding political prisoners, to starving Gaza, and to violence against people and against nature. Israeli sewage still flows down the valleys of Salfit while Israel forbids Palestinians from building sewage treatment plants. News today is that Israel has told hundreds of citizens in East Jerusalem that they will cutoff teh water to their homes (which usedto be a mere one cubic meter per person per month, barely enough to drink and cook let alone take showers). The forms of ethnic cleansing continue to morph. But we cannot blame everything on the occupiers. There are some Palestinians who have been playing by Israeli rules for many years and who puport to represent all Palestinians. Mistakenly, they think they can both try to get our rights from the occupying army and at the same time abide by the rules laid out by the occupying/colonizing forces and their lobbies abroad. This week one example illustrates the issues: Israel is holding the approval of wave lengths agreed to for a cellular company (Wataniya) that invested millions here until the Palestinian "authority" drops its support for involvement of the Internatioanl Criminal Court investigation of war crimes committed buy Israel in Gaza (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1117296.html ).
This shows the impossibility of trying to pressure Israel while abiding by the corrupt and idiotic system created by the Oslo process. Mahmoud Abbas went to the UN and repeated the same sentences repeated thousands of times before about sticking to the choice of peace and (endless) negotiations and hoping (without any real pressure or evidence of any International pressure) that the International community help advance their own (unfair but still rejected by Israel) UN resolutions and road maps to peace. As Oslo negotiater Dore Gold stated in the Jerusalem Post 6 October 1995" "Oslo 2 is ultimately the creation of a new psychological reality in the West Bank. After initial celebrations, Palestinians will find themselves confined to a certain degree of cantonization." President Obama's administration has clearly shown itself spineless to stand-up to the Israeli-lobby that is dragging the US into another war with another Middle Eastern country without even agreeing to halt colonial settlement activity for year (like asking a rapist to suspend the rape for a period to allow negotiations!). I can never understand why politicians keep doing the same thing that proved itself a failure and hope for a different outcome! As one author put it in a different context: “Wooden-headedness, the source of self-deception, is a factor that plays a remarkably large role in government. It consists in assessing a situation in terms of preconceived fixed notions while ignoring or rejecting any contrary signs. It is acting according to wish while not allowing oneself to be deflected by the facts. It is epitomized in a historian's statement about Phillip II of Spain, the surpassing wooden-head of all sovereigns: No experience of the failure of his policy could shake his belief in its essential excellence “ (Barbara Tuchman The March of Folly. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1984). Ali Abunimah writes more on this subject in electronic intifada: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10791.shtml and concludes that the struggle will continue elsewhere. I agree. The Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is growing. Download this excellent issue of The Link from Americans for Middle East Understanding (AMEU) titled "Ending Israel's Occupation (PDF file) http://www.ameu.org/summary.asp which succinctly describes the recent BDS successes
And the olive trees in my yard and everywhere promise a great harvest this year so stay tuned and stay active and you certainly are welcome to come join us in the olive harvest :-)
In this digest: 1) A call to join a large gathering of students, faculty and staff to promote boycott, divestments, and sanctions (BDS) at academic institutions. 2) An action call for the release of our friend and nonviolent activist Mohammed Othman. 3) Why the Goldstone report matters by Richard Falk and a call to action from the US Campaign to End the Occupation, 4) two Jewish songwriters on Palestine, 5) A rough poem I wrote after the Obama-Netanyahu-Abbas meeting titled “We are angry”
ACTION 1: This fall from November 20th through the 22nd, students, faculty, and staff from around the country who are engaged in Palestine solidarity activism will converge for a conference on campus Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS).
ACTION 2: My friend Mohammad Othman (from Jayyous, a village that lost a lot of its lands to the apartheid wall), was arrested by Israeli authorities when he returned from a trip to Norway. A colleague wrote”It is not the first time, Palestinian human rights defenders are arrested after trips abroad. Muhammad Srour, an eye witness to the killing of Arafat Khawaje, 22, and 20-year-old Mohammed Khawaje, who were both shot on a Gaza solidarity demonstration in Ni’lin on 28th December. He testified in front of the UN Fact Finding Mission on Gaza and, in a clear act of reprisal, he was arrested on his way back. This strategy of arrests complements the overall policy of isolation of the Palestinian people behind checkpoints, walls and razor wire. “More at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=36429272741&ref=ts
Urge your representatives at consular offices in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem/Ramallah to demand the immediate release of Mohammad Othman. (For your consular contacts, see: http://www.embassiesabroad.com/embassies-in/Israel#11725) and Let the Israeli Embassy in your country know that you are campaigning for Mohammad’s release and for a just and lasting peace based on international law.
Action 3: Read Richard Falk’s “Why the Goldstone report matters”
and then act by going to this link http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=2352
Two Jewish song-writers do a song for Palestine and suggest that you donate to charities to support Palestine
Vimeo, high def, about 12 minutes long: http://vimeo.com/6630724
Youtube, in two parts, about 6 minutes long each:
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1x2axqjhI6g
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojv1FWFGCgw&feature=channel
“For audio download, pay what you want, 20% goes to charities that help Palestinian kids, (the other 80% goes to helping me recoup the $2K I spent on this video!): http://www.richsiegel.bandcamp.com
In today’s digest: 1) A 1918 statement on Palestine-Zionist conflict by President Woodrow Wilson that remains valid today, 2) a very important action call about the just released UN report on Israeli war crimes (please act), 3) a news item on Palestinian citizens of Israel calling for a general strike on Oct 1st, and 4) we commemorate the anniversary of the massacre of Sabra and Shatila (my review of a book on the subject included).
A 1918 statement by the President of the US that remains valid
“The settlement of every question, whether of territory, of sovereignty, of economic arrangement, or political relationship, rests upon the basis of the free acceptance of that settlement by the people immediately concerned, and not upon the basis of the material interest or advantage of any other nation or people which may desire a different settlement for the sake of its own exterior influence or mastery. If that principle is to rule, and so the wishes of Palestine’s population are to be decisive as to what is to be done with Palestine, then it is to be remembered that the non-Jewish population of Palestine – nearly nine-tenths of the whole – are emphatically against the entire Zionist program. The tables show that there was no one thing upon which the population of Palestine were more agreed upon than this. To subject a people so minded to unlimited Jewish immigration, and to steady financial and social pressure to surrender the land, would be a gross violation of the principle just quoted, and of the People’s rights, though it is kept within the forms of law.” (President Woodrow Wilson speech on Independence Day July 4, 1918, text in Tannous, Izzat. 1988. The Palestinians: Eyewitness History of Palestine Under British Mandate. I.G.T. Company, New Yor, p. 72.)
VERY IMPORTANT ACTION ITEM: UN Investigation should result in criminal charges! Maximum publicity and lobbying efforts needed.
Many of us had seen Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem’s report that 773 of the 1,387 Palestinians killed in Gaza last winter were civilians including over 300 children (use of white phosphorous and other weapons in civilian areas is also widely reported by B’Tselem and other human rights groups). Thirteen Israelis (10 soldiers, three civilians were killed during the same “Operation Cast Lead”. Now an independent UN Commission led by respected war crimes investigator Justice Richard Goldstone (Jewish from South Africa) reported in 575 pages (38 opages executive summary up front) details of what it described as gross violations of human rights and war crimes. Using very harsh language for Israeli actions. The Israeli government is mobilizing its spin machine and going into hyperdrive to try to prevent its officers from being brought before the International Criminal Court at the Hague. Let us all write to/call President Obama (Tel 202-456-1111 and/or http://www.whitehouse.gov/CONTACT/ ) and all world politicians to demand that indeed Israeli war criminals are brought to justice. And let us use this report to start legal proceedings in different countries against Israeli politicians because there is clear evidence as tehcommission puts it that “there are serious doubts about the willingness of Israel to carry out genuine investigations in an impartial, independent, prompt and effective way as required by international law. The Mission is also of the view that the Israeli system overall presents inherently discriminatory features that make the pursuit of justice for Palestinian victims very difficult.”. “The Mission then makes recommendations to a number of United Nations bodies, Israel, responsible Palestinian authorities and the international community, in the areas of: (i) Accountability for serious violations of International Humanitarian Law; (b) Reparations; (c) Serious violations of human rights law; (d) The blockade and reconstruction; (e) The use of weapons and military procedures; (f) The protection of human rights organizations and defenders; (g) Follow up to the Mission’s recommendations. The recommendations are detailed in Chapter XXX.” The full report (PDF) is at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/specialsession/9/docs/UNFFMGC_Report.pdf
Israel’s Arab Citizens Call General Strike by Jonathan Cook
The increasingly harsh political climate in Israel under Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu’s right-wing government has prompted the leadership of the country’s
1.3 million Arab citizens to call the first general strike in several years. The one-day stoppage is due to take place on October 1, a date heavy with symbolism because it marks the anniversary of another general strike, in 2000 at the start of the second intifada, when 13 Arab demonstrators were shot dead by Israeli police. The Arab leadership said it was responding to a string of what it called "racist" government measures that cast the Arab minority, a fifth of the population, as enemies of the state.
We commemorate the anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre in honor of the hundreds of men, women and children killed by death squads armed, trained, financed, and instructed by the Israeli colonial masters. For a good background, I suggest people buy the book "Sabra and Shatila: September 1982" by Bayan Nuwayhed Al-Hout, 2004, Pluto Press. Below is my 2005 review of the book that summarizes its amazing accomplishment. For other background on the massacre and Sharon's responsibility, visit http://www.indictsharon.net/
"Sabra and Shatila: September 1982" Bayan Nuwayhed Al-Hout, 2004, Pluto Press, London and Ann Arbor, MI, 462 pp., 36 photographjs, 5 maps
Book Review published in the Holy Land Studies Journal, Spring 2005 by Mazin Qumsiyeh
It would be correct but rather reductionist to state that this remarkable book is the most comprehensive and thorough documentation of the events of the massacres at Sabra and Shatila. The mark of a good book is that it leaves the reader changed and this volume does that. Upon first hearing about this book, my first and incorrect inclination was that perhaps I do not need to read it. Many of us Palestinians assume we know the suffering of our people over the past six decades, we have seen it and we have lived it. This thought quickly evaporated after flipping through the first few pages of this book and then it was hard to put it down.
It is appropriate that this edition came out in English after its initial publication in Arabic. Knowingly or unknowingly, many in the Western world lend their name and their tax money to support atrocities like the Sabra and Shatila massacre. Would it help those taxpayers see what is being done with their tax money and US diplomatic support? Would it help bring people to a better understanding of the "situation"? More importantly would it bring us closer to see the victims of this particular massacre as people and not mere numbers? Having lived in the US for many years I wanted to look at this English version from that perspective. I also wanted to compare it to other books that relate personal testimonies of survivors of atrocities.
Those murdered in Sabra and Shatila are not around to tell us their stories so we are left with the survivors, those relatives and friends and acquaintances who witnessed the event and/or came to pick the bodies and the pieces of their shattered lives. Telling their stories is not easy. A writer or editor of such a compilation has the heavy responsibility (and duty) to his or her subjects to let them tell the story with as little interference as possible. It is not easy to craft careful and neutral questions that allow for free and open answers. It is also not easy to select from all your interviews individual accounts to include in a readable book. It is not easy to research names then cross check all references and resources to ensure presenting a picture that is as close as possible to the reality of what happened. All this and more are achieved in this book.
The first part of this book consists of six chapters that relay the statements and testimonies of the families and witnesses. The first two chapters cover the place and time and events leading up to the massacre including the encirclement of the camps by the Israeli army. Chapters 3-5 cover chronologically the events of September 16-18; the horrific 40-hour period in which nearly 2000 men, women, and children were systematically massacred or abducted and "disappeared". Chapter 6 covers testimonies covering the search for victims following the massacre. Forty-six actual testimonies were selected and included in these six chapters out of total direct testimonies gathered on 430 victims (about half Palestinian, 28% Lebanese, and the remainder belonging to other nationalities).
The second part of this book summarizes the research (including field study) conducted by the author into the massacre. Chapter 7 reviews results of the detailed field study conducted in 1984.
Chapter 8 analyzes the issue of the number of victims killed. The chilling method used by Israeli governments to minimize the casualties (in the Kahan report) is analyzed in detail. In one part, the author recounts what the historian Toynbee once said in debate with Yaacov Herzog in 1961. Hetzog lashed out at Toynbee for mentioning the Nazi atrocities in talking about the massacre of Palestinians in Deir Yassin in 1948. Herzog’s contention was that the deaths of a few hundred Palestinians could never be even discussed in relation to the horror on Nazi atrocities. Toynbee’s answer was that "Every increase in numbers produces an increase in suffering but it is impossible to be wicked or criminal more than 100%." She ten explained how the wickedness of trying to obfuscate reality or minimize the numbers of victims (as happened in the Israeli Kahan report). There are lessons to be learned from that. Yet, the most astonishing fact is that no authority (Israeli, Lebanese, or Palestinian) took it upon itself to compile a list of the victims. As such, the list compiled by this author must remain the most complete such list to date.
There are four appendices to the work. Appendix 1 contains 28 tables related to the field study. Appendix 2 provides the most comprehensive listing of names of those known killed (906 names) or abducted and missing (484 names). Given that only a handful of the missing were ever found, over 1300 human beings lost their lives with this tragedy.
The book ends with a series of remarkable photographs. Most are ones I have never seen before and I am sure other readers will find equally transforming. Most books place such photos in the Middle of the book or close to the beginning. A photograph it is said is worth a thousand words. But a photograph can elicit all sorts of emotions that then detract from the importance of reading the text itself. In this case, the placement of the photos at the end was the right decision and I urge readers to read this text in the order it is presented. For me, this was particularly powerful. I, as a reader was able to read the testimonies and review the facts and figures taking time to draw the relevant lessons learned before I saw at the end a series of pictures of what the scene of the crime looked like. To me the most remarkable and damning evidence of Israeli culpability and the accompanying lies about the massacre are found on pages 304-317 and buttressed by pictures and maps of the Israeli command center overseeing the camp. Anyone examining this evidence and International law understands the culpability of the Israeli politicians, commanders and soldiers. They knew the camps were undefended, they knew that massacres would be committed by the 150 Phallange militias they invited in, they knew the bloody outcome would happen, and finally they watched without interfering as this unfolded over three days.
I never met the author, Dr. Bayan Nuwayah Al-Hout, a faculty member at the Lebanese University for the past 25 years. I can only marvel at the amount of efforts over two decades that such a project demanded. It is usually something done by well-financed teams with a cadre of paid staff. For the author to have done this with very limited resources and help is truly admirable.
It was once said that the sign of a good book is that when you close the last page it is like saying goodbye to a dear friend. Well in this case, it is like saying goodbye to hundreds of friends: those who died in that tragic massacre and those who survived to recount the stories and live their lives awaiting justice. If we are to honor them all then we must engage in the quest for peace with justice.
When in a few years, a museum is built for the Nakba (catastrophe) that befell the Palestinian people, it will have a prominent place in it for Sabra and Shatila. This book will be the key resource for this. Those who care for human rights should buy it, read it, and learn the lessons from it.
There is a section at the end of the book, not given a chapter status and seeming as orphaned as the Children of Sabra and Shatila, that is simply titled "Conclusion: who was responsible." For those looking for the simplified answers of assigning blame to just one person or party, they will be disappointed. For those who want to use the lessons learned from this tragedy to prevent future tragedy, the careful analysis here is a must reading. From the Lebanese militia, to the local Israeli commanders guarding the camps, to Ariel Sharon who gave the go ahead, to the Lebanese government, all share some of the guilt. But ultimately, all of us who heard the news and who took no action are responsible for the continuation of a string of atrocities against civilians. On page 324, the author quotes from the song lyrics of the Argentinean singer Alberto Cortez:
"Where was the sun when anger burst at Sabra and Shatila? Where was I? At what party, careless, when I red the news? And where were you – you so eager to defend the oppressed – when the massacre happened? Where is the pride of men? Where were you my friend with the sleeping conscience?.."
The road between the atrocities of Sabra and Shatila runs rather short to those of Jenin, Nablus and Rafah of today and to our suppressed humanity. Such books can be our tour guides.
13 Sept 2009
Comment on current events including the crash of an Israeli F-16 followed by commentary on colonial Tel-Aviv, a controversial bestseller shaking the foundation of the Israeli State, videos on night raids to terrorize Palestinian nonviolent resisters, a video on “I am Israel” and more.
Israel’s first astronaut Ilan Ramon was a military pilot who bombed Palestinian villages and refugee camps. He died in 2003 as the US shuttle Columbia carrying him crashed and its debris ironically fell over PALESTINE, Texas. His son Asaf wanted to follow his footsteps and became an Israeli fighter jet pilot. Yesterday, the son was killed when his F-16 warplane (that helped bomb Palestinians) crashed on the South Hebron hills in PALESTINE during a training exercise. I wonder when Israeli elites will learn that war and conflict do not pay and that he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.
Some of the items in Israeli and Arab media I saw in the past two days
“Lieberman used Africa trip to lay groundwork for arms deals” (Israeli foreign minister to South America was also about exporting wars and mayhem)
“NGOs: One out of every three Holocaust survivors lives in poverty”
(but Zionist leadership is getting rich using the Holocaust industry)
“Window closing for a peaceful resolution to Iran nuclear ambitions”
(the Israeli threats and bullying to get the US into another Middle East War has been getting more shrill as Zionist pundits in Western Media increase pressure)
“Israeli leaders insist on continuing and expanding settlements”
(as if they ever stopped in the past 62 years)
"Iraqi gays harrassed and killed"
(they where better off under Saddam Hussain before the Amerrican occupation)
"Iraqi shoe thrower to be released"
(Iraqi public is jubilant and considers him a national hero)
“Fishermen desperate in Gaza as Israel keeps them from fishing”
“Israeli human Rights organization B’Tselem reports that most of those killed in Gaza last winter were civilians”
(Israeli military cast lead killed hundreds of civilians over a period of three weeks)
“Dahlan appointed spokesman for Fatah Central Committee”
(Dahlan ran a paramilitary organization trained by the CIA and other Western agencies and according to human rights groups had committed a number of atrocities)
Night Raid on Bilin: Israel’s attempts to terrorize the noncviolent demonstrators against the apartheid wall has taken the form of arrests of dozens of activists and leaders usually at 2-4 AM to send a signal to stop the weekly demonstrations that have attracted world wide attention and helped spread boycotts, divestments and sanctions
By celebrating Tel-Aviv, and especially by claiming the right to separate the city from the conflict and thus confirm its image of innocence and “diversity”, Western curators are able to pay homage to colonialism and justify its role in their own societies.
Ex-Congressman James Traficant in moments of candor on the role of AIPAC
Video posted at Australians for Palestine: I AM ISRAEL
Controversial Bestseller Shakes the Foundation of the Israeli State By Joshua Holland, AlterNet
“What if the Palestinian Arabs who have lived for decades under the heel of the modern Israeli state are in fact descended from the very same "children of Israel" described in the Old Testament? And what if most modern Israelis aren't descended from the ancient Israelites at all, but are actually a mix of Europeans, North Africans and others who didn't "return" to the scrap of land we now call Israel and establish a new state following the attempt to exterminate them during World War II, but came in and forcefully displaced people whose ancestors had lived there for millennia? What if the entire tale of the Jewish Diaspora -- the story recounted at Passover tables by Jews around the world every year detailing the ancient Jews' exile from Judea, the years spent wandering through the desert, their escape from the Pharaoh's clutches -- is all wrong?
That's the explosive thesis of When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?, a book by Tel Aviv University scholar Shlomo Zand (or Sand) that sent shockwaves across Israeli society when it was published last year. After 19 weeks on the Israeli best-seller list, the book is being translated into a dozen languages and will be published in the United States this year by Verso”
In this digest: Paul Kraig Roberts explains why Israel is pushing for conflict with Iran, the Late Shafiq AlHoot in a last interview about what transpired in the Palestinian cause (in Arabic), Israeli firm kicked out of Norway government fund, and call for the seventh International week of action against the apartheid wall. But first a commentary on the month of September:
We live in an era where individuals with agendas can say and do much without being challenged on the facts. An era where lies and distortions sell for facts. But I wonder if this is not the same whether it is today or 70 years ago or 700 years ago. It was on Sept 1, 1939 that World War II started (a war that was directly linked to the 1917 Balfour and Jules Declarations of British and French support for the Zionist project). It was in this black month of September that the British forces occupied Palestine in 1917 to try and change a multiethnic, multicultural, multireligious Palestine into a “Jewish state” (abandoning the promises they made to the Arabs for political expediency). It was on September 8, 1947 that for the first time in its 2 year history, a United Nations official committee recommends partition of a country despite the wishes of its natives (and the UN charter itself). It was on 9 September 1993 that Arafat signed on behalf of the PLO recognizing Israel (but no Israeli recognition of Palestine or Palestinian rights was demanded in return); the process of Oslo led to normalization for Israel with so many countries and a green light to double settlements while creating an authority that would control people’s frustrations. It was on September 16, 1948 that the UN appointed mediator (a Swedish diplomat who saved countless Jews) made his report official, a blanced report based on basic human rights and international law. He was assassinated the next day by Jewish terrorists who later became high officials of the nascent Israeli state. It was also in this black month of September that Jordanian forces killed hundreds (maybe thousands) of Palestinians in the process of removing the PLO from Jordan in 1970 (the mistakes/responsibility of Palestinian leadership positions at the time have never been acknowledged). It was ofcourse also in this month on September 11 that
- In 1922 the British mandate officially kicked into gear destroying Palestine
- In 1973 the US engineered a coup against an elected government of Salvador Allende installing a dictatorship that killed thousands in Chile
- In 2001, the attacks in New York and Washington that killed so many innocent civilians (attacks that to this day have not been independently investigated nor lessons learned)
But ofcourse in history there are also so many good things. I could list hundreds that happened in September including thousands of acts of civil resistance in Palestine over the past 130 years. Just for one, John Lennon’s album “Imagine” about peace was released 9 September 1971 and so I choose to imagine and hope for better Septembers. “You say I am a dreamer.. but I am not the only one”
Why not sanctions for Israel?
In Israel, a country stolen from the Palestinians, fanatics control the government. One of the fanatics is the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Last week Netanyahu called for “crippling sanctions” against Iran. Why does Israel want to initiate a war between the United States and Iran?
Shafiq Alhoot interview in Arabic before he died with the Institute for Palestine Studies. Very insightful on the Palestinian cause and how it was hijacked to serve very narrow interests (and especially the role of Yasser Arafat)
(highly recommended film) Amreeka in US Theaters now
Watch the trailer
Israeli firm Elbit kicked out of Norwegian government pension fund
CALL FOR THE SEVENTH WEEK AGAINST THE APARTHEID WALL, NOVEMBER 9 – 16 2009.
The Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, its popular committees and member organizations call on activists to launch a week of global mobilization against the walls of apartheid in the West Bank and Gaza from November 9 to 16 2009
We call on all organizations, networks, institutions, unions and concerned media to mobilize during the 7th Week against the Apartheid Wall and to:
• Protest the overarching Israeli policy of ghettoization behind a system of walls that targets the Palestinian people, whether in Gaza or the West Bank, isolating them from each other and the Palestinians inside the Green Line.
• Protest the criminal repression of the people resisting these walls.
- Protest the inhumane siege on Gaza imposed to force its people to surrender their dignity and struggle.
- Protest the repression of the communities struggling against the Wall in the West Bank. The current wave of violence has reached alarming highs, and education and awareness raising around this issue is critical. Stop the Wall and Addameer have published Repression allowed, resistance denied, an extensive report on the repression of the grassroots movement against the Wall.
• Continue BDS efforts. Launch campaigns against companies building the Wall and complicit in the siege of Gaza. BDS campaigns have already made important inroads, especially against transportation giant Veolia’s project in Jerusalem and settlement builder Lev Leviev. Campaigns are being built up against those involved in the construction of the Wall, such as CRH which is involved in supplying concrete and Elbit Systems, which equips the Wall with sensors and other hi-tech equipment while at the same time producing the drones that kill Palestinians in Gaza.
• Put the Wall back on the agenda. Pressure your government representatives to follow their obligation to ensure the walls in Palestine are torn down and the siege on Gaza is ended. Governments have to respect the ICJ decision and not to aid the construction and maintenance of the Wall. They have to stop their complicity through silence in the siege on Gaza.
On November 9 1989 – exactly 20 years ago – the Berlin Wall fell. The event was celebrated as a victory of the ‘Free World’. Today, however, the same powers back the construction of walls which are destroying Palestine.
Five years ago – the International Court of Justice ruled that the Wall is illegal and has required that it be torn down and all laws and orders related to it be reversed. The Court has reminded the international community of its obligation not to render any aid or assistance to the Wall and to ensure the implementation of international law. To date, the international community has not promoted any tangible move towards the ruling’s implementation.
The hypocrisy must end – justice has to prevail.
Gaza has been imprisoned by walls and razor wire for 15 years. The wall and its no-go zone confiscate almost 25% of the prime agricultural land of the starving Strip. About 15% of Gaza’s farmers are barred from working their farmlands, while tens of water wells and about 50% of livestock shelters and other related industry in the east part of the Gaza strip have been destroyed. Many farmers have been killed while tending to their land or have been displaced and forced into overcrowded urban centers.
In the West Bank, the Apartheid Wall carves out today’s Bantustans. It curves around settlements, which continue to grow despite disingenuous talks of a “settlement freeze.” So far its path has isolated 78 Palestinian villages, trapping them between walls, settlements and/or the Green Line while stealing land, water and other resources from hundreds more. Jerusalem remains isolated by the Wall and settlements, and an increasing number of Palestinians have found their homes demolished or taken over by settlers.
In response, the international community has put a veil of silence over these crimes – yet another Nakba for the Palestinian people.
In spite of this, Palestine resistance to the Wall has grown. Protests have been a weekly undertaking in a number of West Bank villages. In an attempt to uproot what they have termed “a dangerous phenomenon”, Occupation forces have employed increasing violent means against protesting communities, in particular youth. In barely more than a year, 6 have been shot and killed by soldiers, hundreds have been injured and dozens arrested in the villages struggling against the Wall.
Gaza has seen much worse. In response to their resilience under siege, the people of Gaza have faced an overwhelming military onslaught. More then 1,500 were killed as a result and thousands more injured this past winter when Occupation forces laid waste to the small costal territory.
In their struggle, the Palestinian people shall not stand alone.
Unite against apartheid!
Thank you for you continued support,
Iyad Burnat- Head of Popular Commitee in Bilin
co-founder of Friends of Freedom and Justice - Bilin
Mobile- (00972) (0) 547847942
Office- (00972) (2) 2489129
Mobile- (00972) (0) 598403676
1 Sept 2009
In this digest, we start with an action item because Israeli authorities closed yet another radio station, then a few pictures by my wife of late summer fruits in Palestine, two international curators pull from Tel Aviv Art Festival, a Canadian Filmmaker joins the many others supporting the boycott of apartheid Israel,a young Palestinian girl goes to the International Court of Justice about the massacre of her family, three Israeli film makers witness 15 minutes of hate in Jerusalem, amazing pictures of Ramadan from around the world, . What is not in this digest is any comment about the endless talk about freeze of colonial settlement activities (I will believe it when I see the across the wadi from my house stop moving). Also just heard Israeli forces killed a teanager in Ramallah
Israeli authorities invaded Bethlehem last week and stole the broadcast equipment of my favorite radio station here (called Bethlehem 2000, you can listen to it at link) while the station is now off the air and only available on the internet, we are not accepting this infringement on freedom of media. We held a vigil on Sunday in support of the station and we urge all our friends to write to the Israeli official asking (politely) to return the equipment taken: Name is Fadi email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The late summer crops here include grapes, figs, and pomegranates. My wife
took some pictures of some from our yard. Other products on the market are very tasty guavas, peaches, and plums. Things here taste far better than anywhere else
Canadian filmmaker John Greyson has pulled his short documentary Covered from the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in protest over a part of the festival's programming focusing on Tel Aviv, Israel
Curators pull out of Tel Aviv art biennial over Gaza war protest
Two international curators who were to participate in the planning of ArtTLV, an art biennial taking place in Israel in September, have pulled out of the project after their Israeli counterparts refused to publish articles condemning Israel's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza and to arrange a symposium on art and war
“Amira Al Karrem (15), Tel Al-Hawa, Gaza, a filed yesterday a War crimes complaint against Israel at ICC, The Hague (Netherlands). During "Cast Lead" Israeli operation this winter, she spend 60 hours, wounded, alone, without food and medical treatment. Her father, brother and sister have been killed under her eyes.
Read her story
Amira is a so brave young girl. Hope many others will go to the ICC and ask for justice”
Received From the International Movement to Open Rafah Border
15 minutes of hate in Jerusalem
Amazing Pictures of Ramadan around the world
30 August 2009
The most powerful man ruling Palestinians
In this digest: We comment on the transformation of Palestine and the weakness of Palestinian leaders, describe events happening that you will hear little about (or hear distorted stories about), share videos about the Israeli targeting of civilian and about the right of resistance, and share two action items asking you to write to the Gap about their opening a store in Israel and writing to Obama to demand Israel freeze its illegal settlement activities in the occupied areas (as the 2002 road map demands).
"O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you may avoid justice, and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is ever well acquainted with what you do."(Surah Nisaa':135)
Israel named a new ruler on Palestinians this week. Eitan Dangot (to be promoted to Major General) will direct the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) in the Israel army. He is certainly more important and more powerful than Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad. Nothing goes in and out of the occupied areas or moves between its cities without his approval. No construction, no economic activity, no education, no transport, and no health care are done without this overlord agreeing to it. He is in a line of Zionists managing Palestinian affairs that go back to Herbert Samuel in 1920 (who had absolute executive and legislative powers). Samuel states in his memoires that he was appointed by the British government not only with his known Zionist sympathies but largely because of these sympathies. Palestinians responded by mass resignation from government jobs, by strikes, protests, petitions, and pleas for change. But some notable elites met with him 7 July 1920 despite a call to boycott. Later he fired the principled mayor of Jerusalem Musa Kadhim Alhusaini and appointed the more compliant Ragheb Nashashibi (sounds familiar?).
According to news reports, Israel arrested several people praying at Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. One of those was “a Gaza man was detained for being in the area without a permit.” (and yet Zionist propaganda still regurgitates the myth that the apartheid walls are for security!). Jimmy Carter joins the fast for Gaza. Some Palestinians spend all their waking hours planning how to defeat fellow Palestinians. Israeli papers leak the news that Obama administration is giving up on the idea of a settlement freeze in the illegally occupied areas. Settler population surpasses 500,000. Some are popping Champaign bottles celebrating the final victory of the Zionist project and the end not only of the physical Palestine but the idea of Palestine. Some of the victims as in all colonial situations get acclimatized and collaborate with their oppressors. Is this a Kafquesque/Orwellian world we live in or is that itself suggestive that a normal world can exist. Perhaps it is the way it always is: nature red in tooth and claw, a dog-eat-dog world and we do have big dogs and little dogs (and parasites that transfect dog brains making them rabid). But then again, nature indeed has everything and unlike creatures born into who they are, humans have choices to be like hyenas feeding on dead carcasses or like flowers giving nectar and beauty to earth. Sometimes the choice to be like the tapeworm or the honeybee seems to some individuals not so obvious. Bees are natural workers who live and die anonymous and unfelt as individuals while one tape worm can be prosperous, felt, and have an individual difference in its habitat. (sorry, this is the biologist in me speaking). But back to the human realm, we can also choose to be a war criminal like Peres, Kissinger, and Hitler or by a peacemaker like Desmond Tutu and Mahatma Gandhi (and anything in between). We can choose to be racist claiming Arabs or Muslims are this or that (or Jews for that matter) or we can embrace our common humanity and failings and call for coexistence and annulment of all ideologies of racism and segregation (e.g. Zionism). We do have choices. In these choices lies our true freedom and liberation as human beings. Going with the flow/fashion of “our tribe” (us vs. them) lay our enslavement. Those of us who refuse enslavement have what Mahmoud Darwish called “an incurable malady”: hope.
Video: Lest we forget: Guardian investigates Israeli war crimes in Gaza
Video: Free Gaza on the right of Resistance
Action 1: Gap set to open in Israel
Write to them at: email@example.com and boycott
ACTION 2: News reports (e.g. in Haaretz)that U.S. dropped or is considering dropping demand on Israel to freeze settlements in Occupied East Jerusalem (International law is clear that such settlements are illegal). Write and call Obama to demand complete freeze of all settlement activities including “natural growth” and walls built on Palestinian lands (this is also demanded by the road map that we are told Israel agreed to).
Call: President Barack Obama 202-456-1111
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 202.647.5291
FAX: 202-456-2461 email http://www.whitehouse.gov/CONTACT/
20 August 2009
Losing a loved one in Palestine
Our dear friend Saliba Rishmawi (father of George Rishmawi of Siraj and the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People) passed away of heart failure and we had his funeral yesterday. The church was packed with hundreds of people. After we took his body to the cemetery, I stopped by to visit the graves of my grandparents, my father and uncles. Death of a father is devastating and our condolences to the children of Saliba and his beautiful and kind wife. For my notes on my own father’s death 6 years ago, see
link But such occasions of deep sadness are also occasions of Palestinians getting together in solidarity and friendship as we did for thousands of years. It is as if our loved ones, our mentors, and spiritual guides are doing us one more favor on their way. As our country is fragmented under Israeli apartheid system, it is hard to connect beyond the local area and even in a local district like Bethlehem, the frustration and anger that most people feel (at politicians, at the system, at themselves) make it hard for us to gather more than a few individuals in friendship and solidarity. We long to the days when we had more direct access to our Palestinian colleagues in Jerusalem, in Jaffa, in Acca, in Gaza, and in diaspora. When we could share in suffering and share in planning strategies of resistance.
Now, many of us just hear of things on the news even when we are a few miles away. Jerusalem is only 5 miles away and is cut off from us (really suburbs of the city). We hear in frustration how Israel has intensified its efforts to ethnically cleanse the city. A hundred and one ways of doing this are invented: from denial of any building permits, to revocation of residency, to refusal to give family reunification, to denial of work permits, to racist immigration laws, to taxation policies to drive small Palestinian businesses out, to forcibly removing people from their homes and bringing in European Jews to colonize their ancient houses. Just this week, the authorities fined many business owners for displays outside their doors! For anyone who knows the character of roads in old Arab cities and the size of space inside stores knows that it is impossible to make such a demand without bankrupting these stores (and in the process change the whole magical feel of making your way through old market places unchanged for five thousand years). Canaanitic cities and towns that have been changed to be clones of European metropolitan areas are now everywhere in Palestine from Haifa and Nazareth in the North to Beer EsSaba (Beersheba) in the South. Israel seems intent on having Jerusalem lose its ancient character and simply become like a large Jewish neighborhood in New York. With few feeble voices being an exception, the world leaders still do not act. The public is ahead of the leaders in many Western countries (even in the US). I have no doubt that there will be a day of reckoning when this apartheid will be exposed just like the apartheid of South Africa was exposed. But I am not certain of how much politicide (word of Kimmerling) or Spacio-cide (word of Hanafi) will happen in the interim. Zionist Jews continue to have a huge privilege and most of them have no clue that they are racist in their attitudes or that their wealth and power is built on the destruction of another society.
Zionism was aided and abetted by the West to create a foreign implant in the heart of the Arab world. It has succeeded in retarding development towards pluralism and democracy, it has succeeded in promoting fanaticism (on all sides), and it had created instability that went way beyond the borders (examples: Al-Qaeda, Afghanistan, Israeli interventions in Latin America). Naguib Azoury predicted in 1905: "Two important phenomena, of the same nature but opposed ... are emerging at this moment in Asiatic Turkey. They are the awakening of the Arab nation and the latent effort of the Jews to reconstitute on a very large scale the ancient kingdom of Israel. Both these movements are destined to fight each other continually until one of them wins. And the result of this struggle between two people representing two opposing principles lies the future of the world." (Neguib Azoury 1905 . Le Reveil de la nation arabe dans l’Asie turque en presence des interests et des rivalites de puissances etrangeres, de la curie romaine et du patriarcat oecumenique, parties asiatique de la question d’Orient et programme de La Ligue de la partie Arabe . Paris: Plon-Nourrit et cie.
I was bemused to hear US President Barack Obama parrot neoconservative rhetoric at a speech in front of military people: “We must never forget. This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans. So this is not only a war worth fighting. This is fundamental to the defense of our people.” As Hegel stated “What we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history”. We have yet to even investigate 9/11 and what happened and who attacked and why (and some testimony to the 9/11 commission was suppressed including Israeli connections). We have yet to digest the fact that Israeli-shaped US policies PROMOTE extremism and violence (and the rise of fundamentalism among Jews, Christians, and Muslims).
CIA-Trained Security Chiefs Elected to the Palestinian Leadership: What Actually Happened in Fatah's Elections? http://counterpunch.org/amin08142009.html
Israel wrecked Arafat, crowned Hamas, and gave birth to Al-Qaida in Gaza
Article By Nehemia Shtrasler
Israel's Fifth Column: The People in Between
While working as a Washington correspondent for Jerusalem Post (1973-1990), Blitzer served as an editor of Near East Report, a publication founded by Isaiah Kenen, a registered foreign agent of Israel, who also founded the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC coordinates a network of transnational political operatives known loosely as "the Israel lobby." Neither AIPAC nor Blitzer has yet registered as a foreign agent in the U.S..Between the U.S populace and the facts they require for informed consent lies an "in between" domain. In that realm is found a network of like-minded fifth column operatives whose pro-Israeli bias works unseen-yet in plain sight-to shape public opinion around a predetermined agenda. That agenda-shaping "news" routinely features commentators from think tanks who share the same bias.
ACTIONS: Come to Palestine, lobby your government, contact media, contact friends, neighbors and colleagues, volunteer your time, speak out, apply boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS), senda nice word to a victim, stand for justice……
Silence is complicity.
17 August 2009
11 August 2009
Note: A few recipients indicated that I could write more often and make the messages shorter. I would like to hear from more people their opinion about length, frequency, and content of these messages.
Apartheid Israel institutes new procedures and tightening its fascist grip on the colonized/occupied to prevent International support Article by Toufic Haddad
(Video) Lest we forget: Stay cool; the children of Gaza
(Video) Israeli PR (supported by Palestinain and Western Elites who profit) claim that life is booming in the West Bank and checkpoints are removed. Booming economy for some maybe (I see lots of fancy late model cars and SUVs). But the average person does not see it. Here is the checkpoint at Birzeit which was supposedly vacated but soldiers seem to come and go at their will to harass people like this group that was held for 5 hours. Atara/Birzeit checkpoint video: link
On Dignity and Solidarity. A thoughtful article by the late Edward Said that is still on target and worth reading and rereading. Since this article was written several years ago the symptoms that Edward Said spoke of have only intensified. Many observers believe that conditions in Palestine are ripening for a revolution.
How the Israel lobby took control of US foreign policy by Jeff Gates
See also: Anti-Zionists: The New Heretics by Jeff Gates
On the radio: Voice of Palestine, Canada will be interviewing this Tuesday August 11, 2009 between 8:00-9:00 pm PDT (Pacific Time) Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh http://qumsiyeh.org from Bethlehem. Dr. Qumsiyeh is the President of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People - www.pcr.ps - and is a professor at Birzeit and Bethlehem Universities in the occupied West Bank. We will talk with him about the Fateh Convention that is being held in Bethlehem and the reaction of the Palestinian street towards this convention. We will also discuss the conference he attended in Toronto in June about mapping models for the future of Israel/Palestine. Voice of Palestine http://www.voiceofpalestine.ca/ broadcasts weekly on Vancouver Cooperative Radio (CFRO) 102.7 FM, Vancouver, Canada. The show broadcasts for one hour every Tuesday night from 8 to 9 pm PDT (Wed. morning from 6:00-7:00am Palestine time). It first went on the air in September 1987, and has hit the airwaves every week since then. People outside of Vancouver can listen to the show live on the Internet http://www.coopradio.org/listen/.
9 Aug 2009
Our biggest challenge in my opinion is not the Israeli occupation, corrupt politicians, the apartheid wall, the economic deprivation, the moral slide, or the environmental catastrophe unfolding. Our biggest challenge is excess and paralyzing cynicism. How can one not be cynical when even just the past week:
- Israeli courts ruled that any Jew can claim land supposedly owned even after 100 years (or 2000 years for collective ownership) evicting others whereas a "nonJew" has no similar rights. Palestinian refugees in East Jerusalem for example cannot reclaim their lawfully registered property in West Jerusalem but a Jew can claim property (rightly or wrongly) anywhere even with forged documents. Meanwhile evicted Jerusalemites sleep on the street outside their homes (see video at link)
- The Palestinian authority reported $1.5 billion deficit (it spends most of its budget on “security”). Some 75,000 “security” personnel are here to manage a presumed restless Palestinians living under Israeli brutal colonial occupation. The sad reality is that these are inmates ensuring other inmates do not act “irrationally” especially against the concentration camp guards.
- We commemorate the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the largest deliberate attack on civilian population in history but few bothered to evn ask how can we get rid of teh stockpiles of nuclear weapons in the US, Russia, England, Israel, and other countries. Instead, diversionary tactics are used ensuring we remain hostage to these ghorrible weapons.
- Hamas rulers reiterated they are willing to accept a state on the border of 1967 and that they can maintain law and order just as well as the next guy (to prove it, no rockets were fired on Israel for seven months). The Israeli jailors still not satisfied, they maintain the medieval siege of the concentration camp of Gaza. These war crimes and crimes against humanity are tolerated (nay abetted) by a supine Western World.
-Demand for refugee return is marginalized or even totally ignored by ruling factions and that is on the good days. On bad days, they wage outright war on this most simple of human rights: the right to go back home.
-There is still a lot of International effort to free the Israeli occupation soldier captured by Hamas but few seem to care about the horrible life of the 11,000 kidnapped Palestinian political prisoners.
-At the Fatah convention, Fatah activist delegates wanted accounting for the past 20 years especially financially since Fatah spent hundreds of millions and owned lots of properties around the world. The current leadership said it was sufficient to hear the oration of Mahmoud Abbas and that the new central committee can take up the issue of finance after the election (presumably because any such transparency could disrupt the election outcome)!
-Italian legislator and arch racist Fiamma Nirenstein wants to create a group of Israeli legislatures who would increase the hostility of Israelis toward Europe because the Israeli public "is not hostile enough when one considers how hateful some European institutions are of Israel." She says she expects the members of the new body to come to European forums and "attack ferociously those who call to demonize Israel." Apologetic tactics, she told Haaretz at her home in the colony of Gilo (built on occupied Palestinian land), won't work: "You Israelis must have courage to say you are at war and how much it costs you"!!!
-The Israeli foreign minister lives in the colony of Nokdim (one of the dozens of colonies that reduced the Bethlehem district to 15% of its former size. This foreigner who became foreign minister “summoned for consultation a senior Israeli diplomat who in a confidential memo criticized the Israeli government for harming ties with the U.S. last week” according to Haaretz.
- The same fascist wants to promote more Israeli arms sales to countries in Latin America and Africa. Zionist elites have always made money by promoting conflicts, wars and oppression. Israel has a long history ranging from the close working relationships with apartheid South Africa to its training of the thugs of Somoza and other dictators around the world. The Israeli voices that ask for changing such long-term destructive policies are feeble.
- Bethlehem district lost over 80% of its lands to Israeli settlements (illegal under International law) and what is left of it has become a concentration camp with horrible environmental trends. The European Union and USAID continue to pump millions here and well-dressed local politicians meet with well-dressed donors pretending everything is normal (or on the way to normality). SUVs, dinners, security, and more give the illusion that we are a “state in the making”. Everyone pretends that current negotiations would lead to better conditions (or at least non-deterioration since there is the threat that all that is built up could be destroyed as happened in 2003 and 2004). Facts and population trends and ecological and environmental disasters in the making are ignored.
I could go on describing other examples but I am sure readers can come up with dozens more examples even from their own communities of items that could lead to increase in cynicism. If there are scales to measure cynicism, would we in the “Holy Land” break the record? How much cynicism exists among Israeli Jews? How much cynicism exists among Palestinians who number 11 million (70% being refugees or displaced people) and whose suffering has now exceeded 100 years? For decades, people have been murdered, dispossessed of their ancestral homes and lands, stabbed and backstabbed by “friend” and foe. Many feel abandoned by a (cynical?) world. Many know the history of how Arab “brothers” and their own “leaders” sold us out for narrow personal interests.
Cynicism is a pervasive temporally and spatially. In excess, it is corrosive and destructive. It is a monster which feeds on itself creating self-fulfilling prophesies and shaping its own fertile grounds. All countries and communities face the ravenous cynicism monster and are cowed in so many spheres of life. Look at how talk about global warming has been co-opted by corporations (even ones heavily contributing to it) and the average person becomes cynical of our ability to change it. One could also argue that those who do evil things and those who are corrupt are victims of uncontrolled cynicism.
What would have happened if cynicism is decreased through positive energy and hope in humanity? Would we even have Zionism or Nazism or environmental damage? Would we have corruption? Would we have individuals who sell themselves to the enemies of their people? Would we have wars? If your answers as I expect they are and if everyone knows the ills of rampant cynicism as an epidemiological disease, why not find cures or even vaccines?
First, we must realize that cynicism is a biologically useful defense mechanism that allows individuals to be wary of a treacherous environment, to prepare, to be ready for the unexpected. But cynicism in excess can lead to paranoia, delusions, destructive behaviors, and even suicide (personal or collective). So unlike a deadly biological disease, we do not hope to eliminate it but merely to make it manageable. When it is in excess we humans need to find at least some positives to balance in order to maintain a natural, manageable, and healthy cynicism. This is not an easy task. It starts within our own hearts by first forgiving ourselves for being negative/excessively cynical (after all we are human). We then need to deal with cynicism in our community by reminding ourselves that humans are highly adaptable species. That nothing is fixed. Even feudal societies evolve. Europe in the Middle Ages was not the same as Europe of the enlightenment. But change begins with us not on the outside. I am sure that if each of us makes a point to look for positive things in our own surrounding, we will find so many which will help create a more positive energy for change. Just in the past 48 hours I experienced:
+Two guys who have not seen each other for over 20 years reconnect and recollect shared experiences in an Israeli prison (during the late 1980s intifada).
+An Israeli woman tells of her six years experience witnessing at checkpoints, reducing abuse of Palestinians by simply being there and talking to Israeli soldiers.
+An American teach Palestinian children climb an artificial wall with harnesses and robes
+A French women and her daughter give support and love to children at Aida refugee camp.
+A US representative in Fatah convention work diligently to effect real positive change on the ground.
+Two other delegates take time to visit a cemetery at a refugee camp and read the Fatiha on the souls of those departed martyrs including dozens of children
+A gentle man belonging to DFLP (Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine) and another representing the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) genuinely engage (though separately) in discussing how the left has failed to provide a real third option outside of the Fatah-Hamas duopolies.
+A Palestinian worker in genetics matures to identify abnormalities in human chromosomes that a few months ago hardly anyone in Palestine would know anything about.
+Reading and seeing pictures of key people who participated in the Arab higher committee in the 1930 (a group in Palestine that gathered people of different political parties unified in their stance and hard work). I happened to read this at a day I communicated with colleagues in Gaza on joint projects.
+Jewish intellectual Uri Davis was nominated to Fatah revolutionary council. No matter where we are politically outside or within Fatah, that is a positive sign.
+A South African radio broadcaster reminds us (while interviewing me on Palestine) that work does not end at a particular historical moment (like when apartheid ended) but that life is a continuing struggle for doing things better, for justice, and for peace. I am reminded that which road and how we walk it is what matters not a particular goal.
These and hundreds more every week are what balances and keeps our excess cynicism in check. We feel lucky that we interact with so many people daily who show us what positive energy feels like. To these interactions, we owe so much. Sometimes friends need to point these things out to each other. So come where ever you are, let us visit together and walk around the streets of this troubled land and point out to each other all the great things that lift our spirits and keep our cynical side a bit more realistic :-)
4 August 2009
Families continue to be evicted from Jerusalem for being not Jewish. In this case two Palestinian refugee families (nearly 50 individuals) who lived in these homes since they were evicted from their homes in West Jerusalem in 1948 are made refugees again (see video at link). Israeli colonial settlers claim the land was owned by Jews before 1948. But ofcourse Palestinian natives cannot claim the land they owned before 1948. Hundreds of families were evicted from Jerusalem just the last two years while Obama and other politicians talk about peace and settlement freeze. And even this week in the Knesset, a new law is passed that allows sale of seized lands of Palestinian refugees for Jewish use only. Racist apartheid laws are numerous already but it seems Israeli politicians score points by supporting more discrimination. Nazi like evictions of people simply for being of the wrong religion is done in sight of a silent supine world. The terrorizing and kidnapping by Israeli forces of citizens in Bilin at 3 AM in the morning and the settlers who come "visit us" in Beit Sahour two times a week go unchallenged by the same supine world. The Western governments attempt to hide their complicity with words indicating they do not approve of some Israeli tactics bvut continue to funnel billions to Israel and millions to compliant Palestinians (in normalization schemes). They do have leverage to stop these crimes against humanity and the public must demand they use it. We must cut-off all aid to Israel and treat it as the pariah state it is (just like happened with apartheid South Africa).
Defense for Children International (DCI-Palestine) submitted an Alternative Report to the UN Human Rights Committee which is scheduled to review Israel’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) (ICCPR) in October 2009. The report focuses on the right to life (Article 6), torture and ill-treatment (Article 7), arbitrary detention (Article 9) and fair trial rights (Article 14) in the Israeli military court system which has operated in the Occupied Palestinian Territory for the last 42 years. The report covers the period 1 January 2004 to 30 June 2009, during which time 851 Palestinian children were killed during the conflict and around 3,850 children were arrested and prosecuted in the military courts, where basic fair trial rights are denied to minors as young as 12. The report also investigates ill-treatment and torture, administrative detention, the use of children as human shields by the Israeli army and the increasing level of settler violence against Palestinian communities in the West Bank. The 45 page report makes 35 recommendations and is supported by over 120 pages of sworn testimonies contained in an annexure to the main report.
Full report here
(good reading) Re-imagining Palestine: Self determination, Ethical De-colonization and Equality by Omar Barghouthi
(another good analytical piece) On the right of resistance
ACTION: I remember a situation where a bright student in an ivy league college never ventured one block to visit the rough inner city neighborhood next to his school. Here in Bethlehem (that has been shrunk to 15% of its total district size and doubled in population by refugees and displaced people), I know many visitors come and go (to conventions, to church, to pilgrimage) and never really understand how most of the population lives (70% are below the poverty line of $2/day). So wherever you are, PLEASE take time to simply go to the poorest and the most vulnerable human beings and truly listen to understand, observe to comprehend, run your hands on the wounds that are healing, and touch a calloused hand. Such genuine encounters teach us so much more than anything we could read in books, see on TV, hear from speeches, or understand from lectures and education. Most of all they teach us humility and the meaning of true love and hope. With such knowledge comes a responsibility to act even in modest ways and this in turn gives true meaning to our lives. The Chinese proverb “To really know and not to do is not to know. “ The cliché of think globally and act locally is still valid but only after such knowledge that can’t be gained any other way.
If you want to help here in Palestine, we do have lots of projects... join us.
31 July 2009
Bethlehem is a buzz with security preparations for the Fatah conference on Tuesday. The local people I talked to either were indifferent or were worried about inability to reach school or work or do shopping during the days of the conference. The Fatah people I talked to are unsure of how this will go and what will happen. A big segment of the Fatah cadres who are real resistance fighters from abroad or underground will not be able to attend. It is suspicious that Israel is allowing so many others to enter and even facilitated a few to come from Gaza across the green lines to the consternation of Hamas which wanted Fatah to release its political prisoners from West Bank jails before allowing Fatah officials from Gaza to travel to Bethlehem. Fatah, the biggest and most well financed of the Palestinian factions, is certainly at a crossroads. In the time of Arafat, he managed by his sheer personality and charisma to keep the various political factions and trends together under one umbrella (even those supportive of violent resistance and those against it). When Arafat was president and Abu Mazen was prime minister, they did not get along. Farouk Kaddoumi recently dropped a bombshell by releasing a transcript he claimed showed Abu Mazen at a meeting in which Dahlan and Israeli leaders discussed assassinating Arafat. But rumers and stories of the past aside, the future is far harder to shape.
I have no way of predicting what will happen at the meeting Tuesday. I onoy wish peopel in power believe in the power of ordinary citizens and create more accountable and democratic forums. I had a fantasy that attendees would do what the first conventiuon of Palestinian women did in 1929: go the streets, challenge the occupation and demand self determination. Most of the people I talk to (of various political leansings) believe that this convention will instead likely validate the negotiations track taken during Oslo (many opposed these talks that are not based on human rights and International Law). In the unlikely event that this conference reinvigorates the resistance plank of Fatah, there are implicit and explicit Israeli threats which are taken seriously since Bethlehem and all its visitors are under Israeli brutal military occupation. If the convention tries to straddle the fences and to come up with an arrangement that attempts to satisfy everyone, then it will likely fail. But while Fatah is a core segment of our society, it is not all. And we must remember that Palestine is bigger than any of us. We Palestinians are in Lebanon, in the US, inside Palestine 1948, inside the West Bank, in Gaza, and everywhere. Palestine is in us regardless of political leanings (or even courage). Collectively, we are diverse, dynamic, and able to resurrect hope in the land where it is believed that Jesus was resurrected from the death. It is this larger Palestine that gives us hope.
The original Zionist blueprints are for control of the area between the Euphrates and the Nile. Here we are 130 years later and even the area between the Jordan and the Mediterranean is roughly at parity between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians. 30 years ago, Zionists had convinced most of the world that there was no such thing as Palestinians. Today most of the world and even Zionists themselves recognize that not only are there Palestinians but that indeed there is such a thing as Palestine. The Palestinian flag now flies around Palestine even inside the Green line. But no one denies that we are perhaps at the most dangerous turn since 1948 and history has not decided yet what will transpire. We can shape the future if we believe in ourselves and our people.
I am completing a book on history of civil resistance in Palestine. What is notable is that resistance has been sporadic with periodicity of 10-15 years between uprisings (beginning in 1891) . Further, the biggest challenges came not because of external factors but from within (especially our infighting and drive for dictatorial control). Similarly the biggest successes (and there have been many) were achieved from grass root movements when Palestinians joined hands and worked together (e.g. the beginning of the 1987 uprising). The net of our strengths and weaknesses has overall resulted in stalemate. This is miraculous considering that we were facing perhaps the best organized, best financed, and most ruthless colonization effort in the past three centuries.
We as Palestinians have unique advantages and disadvantages in our struggles for liberation. We must analyze these scientifically and act accordingly. For example we need to leverage the tremendous sympathy and solidarity of people around the world to produce power (e.g. through better managed campaigns of boycotts, divestments and sanctions). And as the geopolitical landscape shifts around us (e.g. due to the failure and shedding of militarism or the mistakes of Israel with Turkey), we do need to take advantage in strengthening our position? In my upcoming book I show by hundreds of examples that we were/are able to seize these opportunities in timely manner when we had/have a dynamic responsive society that can adapt without bureaucracy or dictatorship. For example, this happened when clan relations were shed in favor of political party affiliation or when younger generations took leadership on the ground during the 1987-1991 Intifada.
We Palestinians can indeed shape our future with choices we make everyday even in the context of existing power structures (and those are changing). Neither reckless bravado and useless 1960s rhetoric nor supine begging for endless negotiations will help us at this critical junction. These are times that demand new ways of thinking. Accountability need not mean immediate punishment of those who harmed or profited from our cause but as a minimum unleashing new blood to take new initiatives unencumbered by old baggage. We would do well (at the Fatah Convention or outside) to begin by working with younger and newly empowered generations on such ideas as one state for all its people (the original PLO consensus) or at least the Civil Society Call to Action of 2005. It won’t be easy but our history has not been easy. Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote (and thsi is applicable to all of us including those who will attend teh convention Tuesday): “Cowardice asks the question - is it safe? Expediency asks the question - is it politic? Vanity asks the question - is it popular? But conscience asks the question - is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.”
Those of you who would like to visit us in the Bethlehem are most welcome. Despite all, it is still the city of the prince of peace. And our change for peace begins with ourselves as individuals and communities.
26 July 2009
Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house.
And the wind blows terribly in this land of apartheid. But the moonlight is getting brighter as more and more of the lies upon which the racism that nourished this injustice become exposed one after another. The Israeli ministry of transportation tries to erase more of the native names in favour of the made-up names. And the Israeli Education mi8nister wants even Arab children not to hear in their schools about the Nakba (the catastrophe of our ethnic cleansing). But people's memories and collective will (aided now by the internet and a strong oral tradition) are far stronger than military might and distortions. Thankfully more Palestinians (more humans in general) are speaking out. A good way to reach our brothers and sisters who happen to be Jewish is to tell them of a history hidden from them in the smokescreen of Zionist propaganda. A good example of this is Nazi-Zionist collaborations and incidents when the Zionist movement put its political interests ahead of interests of Jewish victims. This history is little known (or at least not as well known as the history of Mufti Husseini's dalliance with Hitler that the racist & corrupt Avigdor Lieberman wants to Israeli embassies to resurrect today).
I urge you to read Lenni Brenner's book "51 Documents: History of Nazi-Zionist Collaboration".
Here is an example of a message to Nazi Germany in 1941 asking for alliance by a group led by a future Prime Minister of Israel and leadership of Likud:
The Zionist Federation of Germany wrote in a letter to the new Nazi regime: "Zionism believes that a rebirth of national life, such as is occurring in German life through adhesion to Christian and national values, must also take place in the Jewish national group" (June 21, 1933 memo from The Zionist Federation of Germany, reprinted in Brenner, 51 Documents, p. 43). The Zionists also cooperated with the Nazis in the mid-thirties to facilitate Jewish immigration to Palestine while blocking other routes of escape. The details of one agreement were researched by Edwin Black (Edwin Black, The Transfer Agreement: the Untold Story of the Secret Pact Between the Third Reich & Jewish Palestine, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., London: Collier Macmillan Publishers, 1984). Even Yad Vashem (built on land overseeing the destroyed and ethnically cleansed |Palestinian village of Deir Yassin) acknowledges this agreement:
“Nazi Germany and the Jewish Agency concluded the "Ha'avara" (transfer) negotiations, allowing Jews immigrating to Palestine to deposit part of their assets in Germany and receive Palestine pounds upon arrival in Palestine. After three months of talks, the Zionist Federation of Germany, the Anglo-Palestine Bank, and the German economic authorities signed the agreement, which permitted the transfer of Jews’ capital from Germany to Palestine by immigrants or investors in the form of goods. The German authorities thereby partially removed a barrier that had greatly impeded the efforts of German Jews to emigrate to Palestine and, at the same time, increased the production and export of German goods. For the Zionists, the agreement facilitated immigration to Palestine by allowing Jewish emigres to salvage some of the value of their property as they left, and to meet one of the criteria for obtaining a certificate of immigration from the British authorities. For a time, the Ha'avara Agreement helped the Nazis in undermining the anti-Nazi boycott.”
After commencement of attacks on Jews (especially socialist and communist) under German control, the British, in the hope of easing the pressure for increased immigration into Palestine, proposed that thousands of Jewish children be admitted directly into Britain. Ben-Gurion, the recognized leader of labor Zionism at the time, was adamently opposed to the plan, telling a meeting of Labour Zionist leaders on 7 Dec. 1938:
"If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, and only half of them by transporting them to Eretz Yisrael, then I would opt for the second alternative. For we must weigh not only the life of these children, but also the history of the People of Israel" (Lenni Brenner, The Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism from Jabotinsky to Shamir (Zed Books, 1984). cites as reference no. 23: Yoav Gelber, ' Zionist Policy and the Fate of European Jewry (1939-42)' Yad Vashem Studies, vol. XII, p. 199.)
See also “FDR, Ruth Gruber and me: Zionists stymie WWII rescue plan,” by Ronald Bleier October 2006
And also these relevant articles
I go over these and other issues of Zionism in Chapter 6 of my book which is now online here http://www.qumsiyeh.org/chapter6/
England occupied Palestine illegally at the time, had issued the infamous Balfour declaration, and had armed and supported Zionist militias. The Mufti did meet with HItler who made vague promises to allow self determination to people in the Arab world should he win the war (and asked the Mufti to make propaganda statements in support of Hitler to European Muslims). But ultimately which had more of an impact on the course of the war: that Mufti liason or the Zionsit deals to block Jewiosh immigration to any other country and cut deals with Hitler to leave only one exit to Palestine (to later participate in the ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinians)? I think that is a question worth pondering especially by Jews.
Israeli racists share their views
Interesting articleFascism Needs an Enemy by Ran HaCohen, July 20, 2009
Report of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
ACTION: PACBI Guidelines for Applying the International Cultural Boycott of Israel
19 July 2009
The old Jerusalem to Hebron (now Hebron-to-wall-near Bethlehem) road was lined up with perhaps over 200 armed special forces. These are not Israeli but Palestinian "security". I was going to pick a friend at Dheisheh Refugee camp to eat Knafah (a Palestinian sweet). Every 10 meters (30 ft) for a stretch of over a mile there was one of those security men. Young people 18-24 years old. The "Palestinian Authority" spends most of its budget not on healthcare or education or any other item but on security. We were told President Abbas is coming to the area (either to the headquarters in AlMuqata'a or to the "Presidential Palace" in Artas area very near an Israeli settlement). After the big motorcade the streets had all been cleared of parked cars. The police were slow to let the original traffic reopen and for cars to park again. At the Knafa shop, we had to struggle to get parking and I think it happened only after the owner gave free Knafa to the policemen on duty. No one knows why streets are closed or what is the occasion for the visits of such dignitaries to our little town of Bethlehem (aka Ghetto 12). After the Knafa we visited the besieged village of Tqu' just two miles southwest of Bethlehem and we saw the desperation of these villages which get no presidential visits. This village and dozens like it are besieged by colonial Jewish-only settlements which took most of their best lands and water resources. Here the colonies of Tekoa, El David and Nodekim (where Avigdor Lieberman lives) sit on the lands of the village. The water resources have been confiscated and the village must buy its water from the Israeli company that has for some 40 years been pillaging the village water wells. Near the entrance and one of the water wells, a roving Israeli checkpoint stopped my car and the young (perhaps Russian) kid sweating and out of his elements wearing heavy cloths and carrying a gun perhaps heavier than he is asks me to step out of the car and to then open the trunk etc. The home we visited had a father with 10 children way below poverty level but with a dignity and generosity that is legendary for such simple decent village people. Unemployment is rampant and some village people are forced to work in the colonial settlements just to survive. But this family says they would prefer to starve than do that. The colonial settlements have all their needs of water, infrastructure, and Israeli government support (and new buildings not withstanding Obama's empty rhetoric). The lavish life-style reminiscent of Southern California a few hundred yards away from unbelievable man-made poverty is emblematic of the worst forms of apartheid and human cruelty to fellow humans. On stolen lands and using stolen water, they even have a Jewish only water Park overseeing the desert (the Dead Sea and Jordan are visible) attracting colonial settlers from both sides of the apartheid wall. Oh yes, the three colonies are on the so-called Palestinian side of the wall!. I saw enough for one day and on the way back to Beit Sahour, I console myself with the site of the ruints of a castle of the tyrranical King Herod built near Tqu' 2000 years ago. He and his brutal rule have long dissappeared while the native people (dark skinned and beautiful, the Canaanitic descendents remain in the people of Tqu'). I wished Palestinain self-declared leaders go to Tqu' and other besieged villages.
The lunatic apartheid system unleashed here over the past 127 years is producing some really weird anomalies beyond the sad story of Tqu' and villages like it. The intensity of these anomalies have increased recently perhaps heralding in the end of the racist ideologies of chosenness (and us versus them) that manifest itself in Zionism. Weird stories are here told every day: Ultra Orthodox Jews stoning cars in Jerusalem Saturday (hurting 4) in a rioting that will not be quelled with home demolitions or administrative detentions (let alone rubber coated steel bullets or live ammunition) that Palestinians face regularly. It will be little covered in Western media (self-censored due to Zionist sympathies). Ultra Zionist are creating a new settlement to spite Obama and calling it, wait for this, Obama! The Israel ministry of transportation will change signs to show more "Jewish" (Hebrew) names even when written in Arabic. Thus Nazareth (English) and An-Nasreh (Arabic) will be scrubbed for the hebrew version (notsrim). Ditto for AlQuds/Jerusalem which will hence be Yerushalaym (the latter is ironically stolen/distorted from the Aramaic Canaanitic name of the city Ur Salem, the house of Salem, the Canaanitic God of Peace). The Israeli foreign ministry hired legions of commentators to scour the internet and produce blogs and comment-back to make Israel look good and Palestinians bad ().
Israel, which kidnapped Internationals in an act of state piracy in International waters (on their way to Gaza) gave the permission to Egypt to let the same group into Gaza (but for one day). Gaza civilians continue to die due to a siege that is a war crime and a crime against humanity yet few people in position of influence protest. It is also absurd that the Palestinian "leadership" cannot get the courage to rise above the pettiness (both between people in Fatah, and between Hamas and Fatah not to mention the self-marginalization of other groups) or to rise above the trappings of imagined "authority" while not standing with our own people (when was the last time a "leader" was arrested blocking a bulldozer or protecting a family from eviction). Meanwhile Israeli prosecutors quietly dropped a case against a settler who shot two Palestinians at point blank range because the defense threatened to demand Israeli security services expose what they consider information harmful to state security (my guess is that the information is that the defendant like other racist settlers and state security services are team). Another court released a settler who shot a Palestinian (on Palestinian land) claiming the unarmed Palestinian "appeared threatening." The Palestinian "authority" (which has limited other authorities) banned AlJazeera television and then unbanned it (at least they respond to some pressure). Hamas and Fatah officials continue to hold hundreds of prisoners from the opposing camps (but only one Israeli occupation soldier, in Hamas's hands). Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation authorities continue to "harvest" "wanted" Palestinians going to extremes of joining demonstrations, helping cut apartheid fences and egging on demonstrators to use violence and then arresting those that fall into the trap (e.g. as Happened in Ni'lin last week). And the war criminal and disgraced ex-prime minister of the apartheid regime (Olmert) has the Chutzpah to write and publish a column in the Washington Post titled (this is not a joke): "How to Achieve a Lasting Peace: Stop Focusing on the Settlements".
Perhaps all this fits under the misnamed condition called the "Jerusalem syndrome". Perhaps like the Swine flue (but far more deadly), it is becoming pandemic since it is spreading around the world. Obama like Condy Rice before him caught it and began to wisper and wimper nonsense (Condi: we said Israel should withdraw from the cities and we mean it; Obama: We said Israel should freeze settlement activities and we mean it). We mean it by giving Israel billions of our taxes, don't you see.. The Prime minister of Canada shamelessly supports a racist entity called "Jewish National Fund" (imagine a "white national fund" that takes lands to clear them of dark-skinned people). And on and on.
The few sane people (or at least those saner than the average person here in Apartheid land) get together and try to challenge the system ( example) but it is not easy when you are swimming against the tide and is surrounded by sharks swimming the other direction, blocking it and taking bites every once in a while. Fortunately some sane people remain and more are awakened every day. I meet such great people everyday. I just gave a talk to group of 40 bright inquisitive young people from around the world and their understanding of the situation was amazing.
"Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness -- and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we're being brainwashed to believe. The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling -- their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability. Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them."
"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing."
Both quotes from Arundhati Roy
PS As several readers pointed out to me, the quote I put from Ali Hebshi was simply his retelling of a famous marxist quote but the above are definitely original Arundhati :-)
17 July 2009
"Philosphers interpret the world..However, the point is to change it" Ali Hebshi June 17, 1939-June 6, 2005
I was not questioned by Israeli authorities this time on entering Palestine. It was Friday afternoon and the officials may have been ready to close shop for the weekend. The trip still took 12 hours from Amman to Bethlehem (a distance of 50 miles), about the same as the trip from the US to Amman (a distance of thousands of miles). But it is really good to be back home again (even though under occupation). The quintessential Palestinian experience of crossing borders; here between Jordanian and Israeli spheres of sovereignty, we remain the underprivileged native population of Palestine without sovereignty and squeezed into semi-autonomous ghettos (at least we can run our own schools!). With support from collaborators, spineless cowards, and self-indulgent thieves, Palestinians are slowly being pushed out into an ever crowding Jordanian desert and beyond. But I am also reminded of goodness in humans everywhere and of various religions. While there was the obligatory screaming Israeli woman soldier who seemed to delight in torturing the lined-up families, there was also a nicer young dark-skinned Israeli conscript who tried to help facilitate a bit for a Palestinian family with young children. But the system was getting worse not better. In the Jordanian side, individuals are given numbers and they sit until their number is called. On the “Israeli side”, the throngs of people used to line at windows but now are crowded and hoping to get a small (not numbered) ticket only when the blond Israeli young (maybe 18 y.o.) conscript feels like it. He gave tickets to more western looking Palestinians than dark skinned or bearded or veiled Palestinians. I took his ticket and gave it to a young Muslim mother behind me and went back. Another young black (Ethiopian?) Israeli conscript came to the back and asked if any of us are single (i.e. without accompanying families). She led five single men (including me) to another hall which had an airport looking facility and passport checks. Divine providence perhaps? The only mishap for me was when I had to find my suitcases to put on a bus and I could only find one of the two. After nearly one hour of looking and asking it turned out that it was being held for better rescanning (it had a computer in it). But it is really good to be home where the grapes have ripened on the vines and the olives are getting bigger (promising a good harvest this fall). Israel had the water off for about a week now so we must conserve. My mother had cooked a nice meal and we visit my brother in-law (I had not seen him since he had an operation).
But in the past few days we had other good news and bad news. For the bad news first: our friend Huda Sosebee, co-founder of Palestine Children Relief Fund passed away of leukemia. She will be remembered by the families of the hundreds of Palestinian Children who benefited from PCRF’s work (Huda was always the key social contact for most travel to other countries for treatment). She will be remembered by those of us who were privileged enough to deal with her as we hosted Children. And ofcouse she continues to be with us in the form of her children and her great spirit. Cynthia McKinney put it succinctly “Gaza is beautiful. Gaza is full of life, despite Israel's Operation Cast Lead. And now, I have seen, Gaza has been bombed to smithereens. “
On good news, after the hijacking of the ship heading to Gaza and carrying humanitarian supplies and human rights activists, many members of that trip were able to enter Gaza from Rafah but only for 24 hours per Egyptian authorities instructions ( itself under Israeli instructions). They joined with the Viva Palestina US convoy (nearly 200 strong inspired by George Galloway). And in wierd news, infighting between Palestinians in responsible positions have now spread to within Fatah (IMHO all should resign and create a representative Palestinain body politic outside of the Oslo framework of surrender).
For Gaza and the Palestinian People*
As long as
The People of Palestine
Have no liberty, no freedom
Those of us with a voice to speak:
As long as
The Children of Gaza
Live in fear of Israeli
Bombs and occupation
Those of us with a voice to speak:
As long as
Six million Palestinian refugees
Are deportees around the world
Those of us with a voice to speak:
As long as
Millions of God‚Äôs Children
Are hungry, imprisoned, and without hope
Those of us with a voice to speak:
Because it is in speaking
We find our liberty, our freedom
And no prison bars can take away
Our peace, our love
Which is the true Spirit of Humanity!
*Written by MAIREAD MAGUIRE, Nobel Peace Laureate, during her incarceration in Ramle prison, Israel 3lst June, 2009 Link
ACTION 1: Keep the pressure-up to OPEN THE BORDER WITH GAZA:
Call: President Barack Obama 202-456-1111
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 202.647.5291
FAX: 202-456-2461 email http://www.whitehouse.gov/CONTACT/
Egyptian Ambassador to the U.S. Sameh Shoukry 202.895.5400
(21 years ago) From a private note I wrote in Memphis, Tennessee June 17, 1988 during the Intifada:
The Israeli military destroyed 18 houses in the West Bank today. The news showed about 10-20 seconds of this and mentioned homeless children. Then they went on to "more important things". I keep trying to think that things would eventually get better. A person killed everyday on average in the West Bank is not that bad after all, I tell myself. But I cannot help the feelings. I saw part of a movie yesterday on a black civil rights leader shot in Mississippi in front of his home in 1963. To his wife and children it was a non-replaceable loss. This young freedom fighter never saw any of the changes or freedoms acquired by blacks later. I then think that maybe change will come to the West Bank. Maybe change will come to Palestine, South Africa and other places in the world. The most agonizing aspect for me is thought of my relatives, all my family in such a desperate situation. And the second worst thought is that the world doesn't care and I am like everyone else: if I did not have family there, if it was not my home country, I may not care too much! This is a most unsettling thought. I and everybody else should care and grieve for every person dead or suffering anywhere in the world......
ACTION 2: Learn more about the plight of the native Jerusalemites http://www.standupforjerusalem.org/ Act: Sign the petition calling on our governments to stand up for the legal and human rights of the families and oppose Israel's colonization policies. Petition (no donation needed)
A call for civil disobedience in Jerusalem follows (in Arabic)
A call for civil disobedience in Jerusalem follow in Arabic
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12 July 2009
Quote from the past (1938):
"There is in existence already a considerable body of literature in English and other European languages on the history of the British mandate in Palestine. But it has to be used with care partly because of the high percentage of open or veiled propaganda, and partly because the remoteness of the indispensable Arabic sources has militated against real fairness, even the works of neutral and fair-minded historians...Zionist propaganda is active, highly organised and widespread; the world Press, at any rate in the democracies of the West, is largely amenable to it; it commands many of the available channels for the dissemination of news, and more particularly those of the English-speaking world. Arab propaganda is, in comparison, primitive and infinitely less successful: the Arabs have little of the skill, polyglottic ubiquity or financial resources which make Jewish propaganda so effective. The result is, that for a score of years or so, the world has been looking at Palestine mainly through Zionist spectacles and has unconsciously acquired the habit of reasoning on Zionist premisses. ...No lasting solution of the Palestine problem is to be hoped for until the injustice is removed. ...To those who look ahead, beyond the smoke-screen of legend and propaganda, the way to a solution is clear: it lies along the path of ordinary common sense and justice. " From The Arab Awakening: The Story of the Arab National Movement by George Antonius Intl Book Centre (1938, reprinted 1985)
If it was in any other situation this smuggled video would be all over the news.
Here is a video of the "Spirit of Humanity" ship under attack in open sea in International waters by an occupying army that claims it is not an occupying army.
Activists in many part of the world do things to protest. A Houston, TX campaign featuring billboards around the city referred residents to its website http://www.prayforgaza.org
and this action was met by the Zionists putting up their own billboards "Save Gaza from Hamas" (as if it is Hamas who is blockading people. Meanwhile another patient died in Gaza due to the siege with the death toll reaching 349 due to the Israeli blockade http://www.imemc.org/article/61076
The largest ever US humanitarian aid convoy to Gaza left the US July 4th and is now gathering in Egypt to head across the border into Gaza on Monday, July 13. They are encountewring delays and the Egyptian government representatives have stopped over 100 of the estimated 200+ activists from reaching the border. Activists are now sleeping at the Suez canal (see http://www.vivapalestina-us.org/).
Action: US citizens can set-up a meeting with congressmen and senators during the summer recess (see
Also write to media, inundate list and commentary sections on websites (e.g. Twitter and Facebook) with information demanding action.
The United Nations demanded Wednesday that Israel implement a five-year-old ruling of its International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague that deemed most of the West Bank apartheid wall illegal and affirmed illegality of settlement and infrastructure construction in the occupied West Bank. And according to the Christian Science Monitor "Risking Israel's ire, US takes 1,350 Palestinian refugees" (these are some of the thousands of 1948 refugees who were living in Iraq peacefully until the US invasion when they were driven out and stayed in limbo at borders between Iraq and Syria with no place to go).
Last week's email mentioned how we miss departed friends and activists. Many of you emailed with their own memories on people they miss. I reflect on how intellectual contributions by people like Edward Said made a difference in the way we think. I reread some of his articles and we see that they are relevant today (here is one for example that shows how little has changed since 1998: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/1998/1948/370_said.htm
Israel has started to quietly sell refugee property to private individuals. Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab minority rights in Israel has issues details reports and press releases on the subject of these basic violations of rights.
Action: The Palestine Freedom Project Speakers Bureau is pleased to announce the Fall 2009 North American speaking tour of Ghada Karmi, author of In Search of Fatima and Married to Another Man: Israel’s Dilemma in Palestine. Karmi is a powerfully eloquent speaker, a renowned commentator, who deals critically and honestly with the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. To celebrate the 2nd edition of her memoir, Karmi will be speaking across North America from September 24 - October 10, 2009. We invite you to read about her work, and if you are interested, to host a lecture and book signing in your community. For details, please visit www.karmitour.org
Interview in spanish about the Pope's visit to occupied Palestine (with Nicole Safie)
Una de las vocas mas lucindas de la cause palestina. Al Damir (Fundacion Paestina, Bethlehem-Chile), Vol 71, June 2009, p. 20-21
6 July 2009
As we (friends helping) clear remaining belongings for the final move to Palestine, my wife and I have been dealing with a flood of work and commitments and memories and news blending past, present and future. Sometimes it is hard to keep the back straight (both physically and emotionally). We go through and discard tons of papers and material and correspondence covering nearly three decades in the US. Memories (painful and pleasant) come to the surface. We reread letters exchanged or news of events we attended together or look at pictures of people who are no longer with us: Ali Hebshi, Sana Atallah, Yaqoub Qumsiyeh, Riad Hamad, Hisham Sharabi, Edward Said, Rachel Corrie, Yaqoub AlAtrash, Imam Qasem Sharif, Damu Smith, my father and dozens more. They remain alive in our hearts and the hearts of generations to come. In fact, we would not be who we are without them. Personally I cannot envision where or what I would be have I not been molded and shaped by these interactions. Sometimes it feels hard to go on without them and the past events blend in with the present harsh reality shaping an unknown future.
There are the books and writings of friends and colleagues who suffered injustices and some of them still suffering deeply (e.g. Dr. Sami Al-Arian in a US jail). There are items and correspondence of dozens of good people who lost jobs or opportunities because they would not compromise their conscience. There are hundreds who helped in time of difficulties and pain even as they were themselves under stress. There are the emails and other letters and faxes and records of phone calls of mean attacks on me and other activists for speaking out. Each piece of paper and each record becomes like a friend too and difficult to let go of. Which pieces of papers to keep, which to scan, which to discard. Should I keep records of racists who were defending the indefensible (including threats and intimidation). How many articles should one keep to illustrate the obvious by now. So far 22 boxes of recyclable material are discarded (but this includes a lot of science research papers). Few boxes will be stored. I am donating hundreds of books to a local library but still have to decide what to do with over 100 good ones autographed by authors.
This mundane work of the past is tiring but necessary and is generally a good exercise to have anyway to clear the table for a better future. Going through this exercise, we reflect on both the good and the bad stuff. But it is all part of the "joyful participation in the suffering of this world" (Buddhist saying). For example, we may wonder why not more people (Arabs, Palestinians etc) partake of the readily available cures to apathy and complacency. We wonder whether people are really afraid of failure or whether they are afraid that they are indeed more powerful to change their circumstances than they can imagine (i.e. fear of success). We review many stored letters that attest to success beyond the activist's wildest imagination. That some get especially angry at any telling of the truth are proof of activist success but more so when they finally see the light. We reread letters and emails from those who have seen the light and got off their couches or apathy and into activism and note that they themselves were first beneficially of the transformation. We try to remind ourselves of this simple truth that we are better human beings when we care enough to act (regardless of the net result of particular actions for others). We try to have joy as we participate and act (and we know that life is not a spectator sport).
At first I though we were too liberal in tossing out so many things "of the past". But simplifying life is a huge reward (and even away for two weeks, I already miss Palestine). In the end we all die and it will not matter. And if people are curious about us, all they have to do in the 21st century is google the names ;-) So while we deal with these more proximal tasks of clearing out the records of the past (while holding on to the memories, lessons, and experiences), we must focus on the present and the future.
1) Several close people are struggling with very, very difficult situations. A brother in law has esophageal cancer (the same guy who was jailed and tortured by Israeli occupation forces). The news from Steve Sosebee that his wife and our dear friend Huda had her leukemia return. We worked with Huda a lot over the past few years including bringing several Palestinian children to Connecticut for treatments. People in CT remember the girls we treated like Hiam, Marwa, Ayat but many do not know Huda and other people behind the scenes like who made it all possible.(to help PCRF work: http://www.pcrf.net/can/can2.html)
2) According to Haaretz, the Israeli housing minister warned against the spread of Arab poplation in other parts of "Israel". This portends even more repression of these native Palestinians who managed at all odds to remain inside after the ethnic cleansing of 1947-1949. The US has renewed its loan guarantees to Israel making sure Israel can get very low interest rate loans (but Israel has always been "forgiven" its loans from the US). This as the US economy goes into deep depression with huge structural deficits that threaten the fiscal solvency of the nation; there are already estimated $11 trillion in national public debts, trillions more in corporate and private debts, and tens of trillions in liabilities like social security and medicare/medicaid. Where we go from here is anybody's guess but it is clear that the era of flush life in the US is coming to an end.
3) Sha'ar Efraim is a checkpoint south of Tulkarem managed for the Israeli occupation forces by the private security company called "Modi'in Ezrahi". Palestinians are now prevented from passing through if they bring home-made food, drinks, for their lunch. And just before that more restrictions on Palestinians from the West Bank entering into the part of the West Bank that is Jerusalem. Barred from our own city for years, those few with permits now face additional obstacles. I myself can't get to Jerusalem (even though I have a US passport). It is the utmost in absurdity.
4) MUST SEE VIDEO on Gaza and the kidnapped human rights activists:
These Kidnapped Human Rights Workers Rightly
Refused to Sign Deportation Orders
Kidnapped Congresswomen Cynthia McKinney call from Israeli prison
5) Amnesty International: Impunity for war crimes in Gaza and southern Israel a recipe for further civilian suffering
6) Politicians continue doing what politicians normally do: lie and cheat and distort and lead us to wars and conflicts. Hence Obama escalating the war on Afghanistan (and now using US aircraft to kill Pakistani civilians). And Vice President Biden states that Israel can act against Iran militarily (giving a green light to genocide).
I was going to write on the future but this email is already too long so let us save that mental exercise for another post. As the cliche goes, the future is what we make of it anyway....
30 June 2009
The most outrageous news in this week's digest is the Israeli attack on the "Spirit of Humanity" boat in International waters kidnapping human rights activists and confiscating humanitarian supplies bound for Gaza (just happened). This is simple piracy and shows that Israeli leaders have sunk to new lows on the morality scale. Please take action; see below for press release and action alert from the Free Gaza Movement. Unfortunately where I am now in the US (temporarily), the corporate media is largely silent on this event. But the internet is buzzing and each of us has a responsibility to send this information to all contacts and all media outlets we know. Reality can't be hidden.
(nice summary of a growing movement, I personally saw it as especially younger generations of all religions leave tribalism behind and move to universal and humanistic values, it is what gives us optimism that humanity has a far brighter future)
Jews Confront Zionism by Daniel Lange/Levitsky
Doctors call for head of World Medical Association to quit as "matter of priority"
By Zosia Kmietowicz
More than 700 doctors from around the world have called for the Israeli president of the World Medical Association to step down, calling him "unfit for office" and claiming that he has turned a blind eye to the "institutionalised involvement of doctors" in torture in Israel.
An excellent and timely op-ed in LA Times from By Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.. please write letters to editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Israel's settlements are on shaky ground: International law mandates that they must be removed and that the Palestinians should be compensated for their losses.
gets additional largess from US taxpayers for wars and conflicts
ISRAEL ATTACKS JUSTICE BOAT; KIDNAPS HUMAN RIGHTS WORKERS; CONFISCATES MEDICINE, TOYS AND OLIVE TREES
For more information contact:
Greta Berlin (English) tel: +357 99 081 767 / email@example.com
Caoimhe Butterly (Arabic/English/Spanish): tel: +357 99 077 820 / firstname.lastname@example.org
23 miles off the coast of Gaza, 15:30 local time - Today Israeli Occupation Forces attacked and boarded the Free Gaza Movement boat, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, abducting 21 human rights workers from 11 countries, including Noble laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (see below for a complete list of passengers). The passengers and crew are being forcibly dragged toward Israel.
“This is an outrageous violation of international law against us. Our boat was not in Israeli waters, and we were on a human rights mission to the Gaza Strip,” said Cynthia McKinney, a former U.S. Congresswoman and presidential candidate. “President Obama just told Israel to let in humanitarian and reconstruction supplies, and that’s exactly what we tried to do. We're asking the international community to demand our release so we can resume our journey.”
According to an International Committee of the Red Cross report released yesterday, the Palestinians living in Gaza are “trapped in despair.” Thousands of Gazans whose homes were destroyed earlier during Israel’s December/January massacre are still without shelter despite pledges of almost $4.5 billion in aid, because Israel refuses to allow cement and other building material into the Gaza Strip. The report also notes that hospitals are struggling to meet the needs of their patients due to Israel’s disruption of medical supplies.
“The aid we were carrying is a symbol of hope for the people of Gaza, hope that the sea route would open for them, and they would be able to transport their own materials to begin to reconstruct the schools, hospitals and thousands of homes destroyed during the onslaught of "Cast Lead”. Our mission is a gesture to the people of Gaza that we stand by them and that they are not alone" said fellow passenger Mairead Maguire, winner of a Noble Peace Prize for her work in Northern Ireland.
Just before being kidnapped by Israel, Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza Movement chairperson and delegation co-coordinator on this voyage, stated that: “No one could possibly believe that our small boat constitutes any sort of threat to Israel. We carry medical and reconstruction supplies, and children’s toys. Our passengers include a Nobel peace prize laureate and a former U.S. congressperson. Our boat was searched and received a security clearance by Cypriot Port Authorities before we departed, and at no time did we ever approach Israeli waters.”
Arraf continued, “Israel’s deliberate and premeditated attack on our unarmed boat is a clear violation of international law and we demand our immediate and unconditional release.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO!
CONTACT the Israeli Ministry of Justice
tel: +972 2646 6666 or +972 2646 6340
fax: +972 2646 6357
CONTACT the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
tel: +972 2530 3111
fax: +972 2530 3367
CONTACT Mark Regev in the Prime Minister's office at:
tel: +972 5 0620 3264 or +972 2670 5354
CONTACT the International Committee of the Red Cross to ask for their assistance in establishing the wellbeing of the kidnapped human rights workers and help in securing their immediate release!
Red Cross Israel
tel: +972 3524 5286
fax: +972 3527 0370
Red Cross Switzerland:
tel: +41 22 730 3443
fax: +41 22 734 8280
Red Cross USA:
tel: +1 212 599 6021
fax: +1 212 599 6009
Kidnapped Passengers from the Spirit of Humanity include:
Khalad Abdelkader, Bahrain
Khalad is an engineer representing the Islamic Charitable Association of Bahrain.
Othman Abufalah, Jordan
Othman is a world-renowned journalist with al-Jazeera TV.
Khaled Al-Shenoo, Bahrain
Khaled is a lecturer with the University of Bahrain.
Mansour Al-Abi, Yemen
Mansour is a cameraman with Al-Jazeera TV.
Fatima Al-Attawi, Bahrain
Fatima is a relief worker and community activist from Bahrain.
Juhaina Alqaed, Bahrain
Juhaina is a journalist & human rights activist.
Huwaida Arraf, US
Huwaida is the Chair of the Free Gaza Movement and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage.
Ishmahil Blagrove, UK
Ishmahil is a Jamaican-born journalist, documentary film maker and founder of the Rice & Peas film production company. His documentaries focus on international struggles for social justice.
Kaltham Ghloom, Bahrain
Kaltham is a community activist.
Derek Graham, Ireland
Derek Graham is an electrician, Free Gaza organizer, and first mate aboard the Spirit of Humanity.
Alex Harrison, UK
Alex is a solidarity worker from Britain. She is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.
Denis Healey, UK
Denis is Captain of the Spirit of Humanity. This will be his fifth voyage to Gaza.
Fathi Jaouadi, UK
Fathi is a British journalist, Free Gaza organizer, and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage.
Mairead Maguire, Ireland
Mairead is a Nobel laureate and renowned peace activist.
Lubna Masarwa, Palestine/Israel
Lubna is a Palestinian human rights activist and Free Gaza organizer.
Theresa McDermott, Scotland
Theresa is a solidarity worker from Scotland. She is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.
Cynthia McKinney, US
Cynthia McKinney is an outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice issues, as well as a former U.S. congressperson and presidential candidate.
Adnan Mormesh, UK
Adnan is a solidarity worker from Britain. He is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.
Adam Qvist, Denmark
Adam is a solidarity worker from Denmark. He is traveling to Gaza to do human rights monitoring.
Adam Shapiro, US
Adam is an American documentary film maker and human rights activist.
Kathy Sheetz, US
Kathy is a nurse and film maker, traveling to Gaza to do human rights monitoring.
26 June 2006
Fascinating news and reminiscent of the rapid drop in Western support of Apartheid South Africa in the years leading up to the end of Apartheid:
“American voters' support for Israel has dropped 20 percent in the past nine months, a new survey found. Some 49 percent of American voters call themselves supporters of Israel, down from 69 percent last September, according to the poll conducted for The Israel Project.” http://jta.org/news/article/2009/06/15/1005902/poll-american-voters-suport-of-israel-drops
This also shows the fluidity of people in response to events (e.g. invasion of Gaza, new face in teh white house with new language). Far more than Zionists and other ideologues like to admit, people change. Zionists are people and they also change (maybe a bit slower). A mere 20 years ago most Zionists could not even accept the notion that there are Palestinians let alone recognize the PLO or recognize that Palestinians have political rights. That changed and now more and more Zionists (or more accurately ex-Zionists) have moved to support not only the one state solution but also an end to Israeli apartheid. I am seeing far more such individuals at conferences like the one I just attended in Toronto. According to Agence France Press (AFP) bestselling Canadian Author Naomi Klein joined the weekly demonstrations and declared support for the boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. “Boycott is a tactic . . . we're trying to create a dynamic which was the dynamic that ultimately ended apartheid in South Africa” . Also according to AFP, “the diplomatic quartet seeking to advance Middle East peace called on Israel Friday to halt Jewish settlements and open border crossings, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said.”
Badil just issued its most up-to-date report on Palestinian refugees (the release came on International Refugee Day June 20). According to the survey, there are 6.2 million Palestinian refugees from 1948 era, 940,000 from 1967 era, and 335,000 Internally displaced in Israel (“Present Absentees” per Israeli law) for a total of about 7.5 million refugees or displaced Palestinians. Details in English
And while one 85 year-old ex-president made news by jumping (with a partner) over a river in parachute (George Bush), another 84 year-old ex-president barely made the controlled news outlets when he just went to Gaza (Jimmy Carter). Carter stated upon seeing the horror that is Gaza: “My primary feeling today is one of grief and despair and an element of anger when I see the destruction perpetrated against innocent people. I have to hold back tears when I see the deliberate destruction that has been wracked against your people. I feel partially responsible for this as must all Americans and Israelis. This school was … deliberately destroyed by bombs from F16s made in my country.”
But unfortunately, we Palestinians still suffer from lack of mature leadership whether of Hamas or Fatah to take seriously the tremendous opening happening all around us. Just for example, see this excel;ent analysis by Haidar Eid of the failure of Hamas (Hamas' political immaturity The Electronic Intifada, 25 June 2009
Decision making by Ashairya and emotion and narrow interests of the moment simply won’t do at these historic moments. I am in Pittsburgh participating in an experiment to apply an ingenious system of decision making to the Israel/Palestine question. With five Palestinians and five Israelis hosted by the Katz School of the University of Pittsburgh. The Analytic Hierarchy and Analytic Network Processes Decision making depends on our values and goals to establish order in the form of priorities. A major problem in making decisions is how to deal with the myriad intangible criteria (social, environmental and political influences) that all decisions inevitably must face, to measure them in a meaningful way and combine the outcome with the measurements of tangibles.
Decision Making involves tradeoffs among both tangible and intangible factors. For many reasons tradeoffs often need to be carefully justified. A bad may be much more important than a good and the problem is how to measure them quantitatively and trade them off. Judgments expressed in the form of comparisons are fundamental in our cognitive makeup. Developed by Professor Thomas Saaty, the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) and its generalization to dependence and feedback, the Analytic Network Process (ANP) are theories about how to measure alternatives or courses of action under both tangible and intangible criteria, then combine these measures to make a decision. Real life decisions involving benefits, costs, opportunities and risks and how to combine them and allocate resources subject to constraints will be illustrated. AHP was applied in thousands of situations very successfully from business development decisions to government decisions to organizational development decisions (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analytic_Hierarchy_Process). I found the process rather educational and certainly useful in many settings. I wished this process was used in other situations where the outcome of the decision by such a method would have led to a far more better historical outcome (e.g. could have avoided the disastrous invasion of Iraq or the disastrous Oslo process). I believe now, Palestinian leadership could indeed use this process to (re)evaluate their attitudes vis a vis one-state vs two-state scenarios.
Action: Take Action to End Israel's War and Siege on Gaza
and join and support Viva Palestina US convoy to Gaza
25 June 2009
In this my first week back in North America, I was reminded that there are two Americas: a decent caring one and one of delusion. This is as if there are two trains heading to different destinations. The hypocrisy train has big PR budgets, has a huge lobby that managed to get most of the politicians in its pocket and speaks of constant threats to poor Israel (and "democracy"). Its agents in the media like Wolf Blitzer (who used to be a Zionist lobbyist before he became a CNN anchor) push openly for confrontation with Iran after they pushed for confrontation with Iraq. They now interview protestors in Iran who are opposed to the government but will not present the other side. The same cabal refuses to even interview one Palestinian protestor fighting a far more repressive apartheid government of Israel. That is the train that has many starry-eyed passengers, a train that uses double standards and contorted logic to justify ethnic cleansing and distracts attention from other realities with lies and new conflicts. This is the train whose willing and unwilling soldier passengers marshal on on the path of destruction thinking they have no choice.
Subservient/obedient academics on panels in Toronto in the last three days at the conference on mapping models for the future in Israel/Palestine provided excellent examples. Many stated things like this (some with blinking eyes, others apparently sincerely believing this stuff): that refugees have no right to return to their homes and lands, that religion makes a nationality, that Jews are unique and special, that the victims need to assure those who robbed them of their lands that they are safe and guilt free, that if you advocate for equality and justice then you are an anti-semite (or anti-peace at best), that if you are for a one-state solution then you are advocating endless conflicts, that if you speak for boycotts and won't collaborate with apartheid elites then you are hateful, and much more. What is bizarre is that som e of those folks are considered the moderates (there were protestors passing out flyers with even worse attitudes). These people recline onto their train chairs ignoring mountains of evidence and mountains of experiences of failure in the past. They lack self-introspection and are unable or unwilling to question where their train is heading even as the warning signs of the approaching cliff are everywhere.
The other train is finally beginning to get its engine revved up and voices of conductors are beginning to speak truth to the powers to be. They invite deluded passengers from the other train to find out what is going on and some do switch trains but others hurl insults. In the conference at York, voices were heard from both trains. Abstracts for the talks are posted at http://www.yorku.ca/ipconf/speakers.html On the subject of Palestine, it cannot be any clearer despite the valiant attempts by defenders of Zionism to hide it: you are either with morality and justice or you are with apartheid, ethnic cleansing and oppression. In the conference at York, the best speech I heard was by George Bisharat which I hope I can share with you soon (and which should be translated into Arabic). In the meantime, perhaps a taste of the thinking is George's article "Maximizing Rights: The One State Solution to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict"
The question that kept coming to my mind is why can't we live together. Why do some believe in "solutions" based on segregation and ghettos in the guises of endless peace process industry which may lead to "two states".
Now for a brief comment on Iran. IMHO, the first thing the US has to do is demonstrate convincingly (and not via a pathetic speech in Cairo) that the West will act fairly to challenge oppression wherever it occurs. To demonstrate that convincingly, we must start with our allies especially Israel (and Egypt and Saudi Arabia). The US could change the dynamic in Iran in two months if it gives Israel two months to comply with all relevant United Nations resolutions including withdrawal from the occupied territories and allowing the refugees to return to their homes in lands. The US government does have that power to do this (see Eisenhauer's strong stance in 1956 as an example). That message of real change would indeed change the olitical landscape in eth Middle East. The US should then meet with ALL political forces in the Middle East (Israel, Hamas, and Hizballah included) to chart a new future in that part of the world that is based on justice. That wil unleash the enormous economic potential f an integrated, liberated Middle East in which people of various religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc) can build a more equitable future. The hypocracy train thinks it is heading to a destination of subserviant masses of Muslims under a dominance of Zionism using western proxy armies (they saw Iraq and Afghanistan as first stations and now have Iran in the cross hairs). But it actually will lead to the same destination as the second train (just with far more blood shed and a far longer more tortuous road).Those in the peace movement are being confused by propaganda. They are being told that Iraq invasion was imperialist (without clarifying that Zionism now sits at table of power if not at the throne of imperialism). Facts about who pushed for the war on Iraq and is pushing for conflict in and on Iran are being suppressed diligently. Instead of fighting for democracy here in the US were AIPAC and other special interests rule the show, many are being distracted with things they have no understanding of. How many have been to Iran and really know what is going on in that country of 60+ million? How many know that not one Iranian lost his home and land in the last 30 years of this (admittedly not a nice) government rule? How many know that 7 million of the 10 million Palestinians in the world are refugees or displaced people (all thanks to "Western" support of Zionism or more accurately, Zionism's hold on Western countries). How many know the real history of the "Western Wars" (World War I and II) let alone the eastern ones (the history of US and British destructive meddling in Iran and Iraq beginning withe the 1919-1920 occupations through the engineered topping of any democratic governments to install people like the Shah and Saddam Hussain). That is what makes the Western Media (managed by special interests and with Zionists in key positions) focus on Iran as a "threat". As one US ex Secretary of State said "you tell me Israel is our only friend in the region, I tell you that before Israel we had no enemies in the region". Before Israel indeed, we had no radical Islamic movements and the population in the Middle East was moving towards modernity (just look at old Egyptian movies as one of millions of examples). Of course we cannot blame Israel for everything. The people need to take responsibility. As individuals we have a choice. But I have already rambled on too much and let us leave that for another email.
On to more events in the US. I'll be in Pittsburgh for the next three days. For those of you in Boston area, here is an event you can attend:
We are pleased to invite you to this Cambridge presentation, which will be followed by a Q&A session.
Wednesday, July 1st, 7 pm
Senior Center, 806 Mass Ave, Central Sq Cambridge
Mazin Qumsiyeh is here from Palestine on a month-long North American tour. "Israeli colonization of Palestine: why it matters to the US and the world"
Free, open, accessible, to be videotaped.
Note that we can allow in only the first 120 people; others will have to be turned away, unfortunately. Report from the ground:After we will move to Andala's: 286 Franklin St, Central Square, Cambridge. Andala's is a short walk from the Senior Center.
20 June 2009
I am constantly amazed at how much cruelty and goodness there exists in humanity. On the internet, people now have a chance to see so many things previously difficult to see. For example, Israeli soldiers act like Nazi guards in various situations. These incidents, occurring everyday in Palestine, go unreported tens of thousands of times. Israel is forced to say "they will investigate" when these cases get documented by video but invariably, the army drops the "investigation" after the media interest wanes or finds itself innocent (surprise, sutrprise!). But the sheer scale of suffering leaves little room for doubt and no amount of spin can get rid of the facts of thousands of Palestinian children killed, tens of thousands of civilians hurt, tens of thousands of homes demolished, 530 villages and towns depopulated, an entire civilization targeted etc. The mountain of documentary evidence makes a mockery of Israel's pathetic excuses. Anyone with a simple search engine can find examples of demanding Palestinians at checkpoint play violins for them or slap themselves in the face 1 to shooting a handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian young man 2 to breaking into homes kiling a woman inside 3 to unleashing their dogs and their soldiers on innocent civilians 4 and thousands of other well-documented cases. The criminals who get away with this are usually young men recruited and brainwashed and then put in situation of authority over entire people that they reach a point of total disrespect for life of the hated/dehumanized "other".
But I also see acts of kindness everywhere I travel. Wonderful people of various religious backgrounds who take it upon themselves to address injustice, to take care of the needy, to say kind words to those afflicted, and to donate of their time and money for good causes. People like Jewish American Anna Baltzer 5 or the producer of this "IfAmericansKnew" video that garnered 1.8 million hits on youtube 6 or George Galloway's brave work for Palestine 7 or the million of other people doing great acts for justice and peace. In Palestine, I myself met hundreds of Internationals and Israelis who came to support the just struggle for freedom and against a colonial apartheid system. And in any given day in Palestine, anyone with interest to look can find hundreds of acts of beauty and love among Palestinians themselves (and yes cynicism and despair if one chooses to focus on those). And as I left Palestine for a short visit to Jordan and the US, I witness similar acts of love and beauty everywhere. Here in CT where a few good folks showed up to demonstrate against the planned home demolition of Salim Shawamreh home (for the fourth time). Decent people include President Jimmy Carter who just visited Gaza and described how residents are being treated like animals 8 (I would disagree with Carter on this. I say many animals being treated far better including dogs adopted by soldiers at checkpoints and the way Israeli activists worry about cats and dogs far more than Palestinain citizens of the state). They include Dr. Jeff Halper stood in front of Bulldozers and Rachel Corrie who lost her life standing in front of such a bulldozer 9. They include friends who donate to countless charities (some don't like their names known) or leave cushy lives to go to distant parts of this earth to help the oppressed.
And it is not just individuals doing good work but human rights and other organizations. A Joint statement on 2nd anniversary of the Gaza blockade stated that "We, United Nations and non-governmental humanitarian organisations, express deepening concern over Israel’s continued blockade of the Gaza Strip which has now been in force for two years...". 10. One can also cite the hundreds of reports by Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, B'Tselem etc on Israel's persistent violations of basic human rights. And the way Human Rights Organizations have challenged some governments/states that attack and try to delegitimize UN human rights experts 11
But neither horrific acts of brutality, nor the good acts of good people will make it to a mainstream media dominated by a Zionist agenda. So to fill the time, we hear and see reports on President Obama killing a fly and some people outraged at his cruelty against flies 12! So it is left to us, average people to speak-up. Thanks to the power of the internet, we cannot claim we don't have venues to do that. Any one of you could get this message, his message, or any other message to hundreds of thousands of people in internet chat rooms, in websites like facebook, twitter, and myspace, and in simply emailing thousands of key people (politicians, media pundits, decision makers, religious figures etc) whose emails are all over the internet. I believe that, more than anything else, will be ultimately how the destructive ideologies of racism that lead to wars and oppression will be defeated. And we are encouraged by the logarithmic growth of the movement for boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (http://bdsmovement.net). That is the hope that sustains us in Palestine. That is the struggle that shows us the brilliant colors of the feathers of the Phoenix rising out of the ashes. That is what convinces me, like Arundhati Roy, that: "Not only is another world possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." Let us work together to open the doors and welcome her in :-)
Action: Write and call to respectfully ask that billboards be put back (i.e. not censored) that have a message Americans should hear
Kevin P. Reilly, Jr., President and CEO, Lamar Outdoor Advertising - Corporate
Phone: (225) 926-1000 Email: email@example.com
Mailing Address: P. O. Box 66338, Baton Rouge, LA 70896
60 Second Video on the Gaza closure from Gisha http://www.gisha.org/2years/
11 Link and
June 14, 2009
Jordan is an amazing country. Most of the population here comes from Palestine. Some refugees, some displaced people, some economic migrants. The infrastructure and economy mushroomed in the 30 years since I was a student at the University of Jordan and the population more than doubled. Beautiful clean streets, thriving metrolopolitan areas (particularly Amman which is amazing). Business, education, culture and art are thriving in a cosmopolitan tolerant society. The Universities are of high caliber and tens of thousands of students have access to the most modern facilities. I think to myself that this, had it not been for Zionism, would have been the fate of Palestine (Or maybe much better since Palestine has many more natural resources and tourist sites, milder weather, etc). So what we have is a colonial Zionist regime that developed most of Palestine to serve immigrant Jews from everywhere on the expense of the native Palestinians and a Jordan that is relatively well off, thriving (considering its natural resources actually doing amazingly well) and in between , we find the remnants of Palestinians who live in the ghettos/concentration camps called Gaza, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Nablus etc. Ten million Palestinians in the world are living marginalized in most places. In Jordan actually, Palestinians for he most part live far better than any other Palestinian population in the Middle East. In Lebanon and Syria, the situation of Palestinians is very bad. In the West Bank and Gaza, there is simple colonial occupation (most endangered in Jerusalem). Inside Palestine 1948, Palestinian “citizens” of Israel are 10th class citizens in what can only be described as an apartheid state.
Those who still had any illusions that peace is possible with a racist Zionist ideology should just look at reality. Benjamin Netanyahu’s “speech” recently illustrates the litany of lies, distortions, and demands made that can only remind one of speeches by European colonial generals who gave similar speeches after committing massacres and genocides in Africa and Asia. It shows that there is no Israeli left or right since their differences are merely cosmetic (both now agree to solve the problem of having too many Palestinians remaining on the coveted land by creating a castrated entity for them called a “state” while denying us all basic rights. Netanyahu says he does not want to rule over Palestinians but merely wants to keep our stolen lands and want to control their airspace, water, entry and exit and otherwise relegate us to Bantustans in order to achieve the illusory security for him and the other colonizers/occupiers. To him this is all the “Land of Israel” and yet he recognizes there are some people who remain “here” and who while having no right to their own lands, can be tolerated as long as a) they accept that the ethnic cleansing in which 530 Palestinian villages and towns were completely depopulated was legitimate (i.e. that is what is meant by accepting Israel as “a Jewish state”), that Palestinian rejection of colonization and occupation was an abnormal phenomenon and illegitimate (that is what he means by accepting no right of self-defense for the native people), and that any Palestinians allowed to continue to live in the “land of Israel” would do so as servants and subservient to the Jewish chosen people (economic peace, no Palestinian self defense or any semblance of sovereignty). Netanyahu avoided all the vocabulary that would indicate any semblance of possibility of peace: Palestinian sovereignty/freedom, ending the occupation, complying with International law, obeying UN resolutions, respecting Palestinian rights (including rights of refugees), ending colonial settler activities, ending home demolitions, giving freedom of movement etc. Instead he cited irrelevancies (like the peace treaty with Egypt and Jordan (forgetting to mention that there is a dramatic difference since Israel sits on top of Palestine) and (like Obama) forgot to recognize that Palestinians are the ones who need security after 61 years of massacres and ethnic cleansing.
I spent a night in a refugee camp in Jordan and two nights among the elites in Jordan (at Le Royal) as well as two nights among the Middle class. I gave talks to graduate students and to a women’s association. It seems everyone knows the rules of the power game and everyone knows what is happening in Palestine and is highly supportive of the struggle for freedom. We visited a farmers market in Amman where after some looking, we found some Israeli produced carrots (of course with Palestinian water and on our land). But we were assured that things are far better on this front than before the Israeli slaughter in Gaza. I realize that most of those who are in the refugee camps in Jordan and around the Middle East would be happy to return home and build a thriving peaceful society (their rights as recognized under UNGA 194). Others especially outside the camps have built lives in Jordan and while wanting their rights of return recognized may not actually exercise that right when they are given the choice. But it is a choice that all refugees want and deserve. So is compensation for the years of suffering. Whatever Netanyahu says or does in the future will make little difference in what is to transpire in regards to this issue. Many (I among them) can clearly see the end of the Zionist nightmare. The Netanyahu “speech” only illustrates that the thieves are getting a bit nervous. My travels around the world always reminds me that racist ideologies are bound to fail.
With the boycott, diveestment and sanctions movement growing and if we get the politicians among teh Palestinian elites to realize the danger of the continued division, I am sure we are going to achieve the result of freedom, coexistance, return of refugees, and genuine peace. Much work remains.
June 11, 2009
Less than a day since leaving Palestine and I already miss it but I will be back but I am in a second home, Jordan. Thousands of people were leaving the West Bank through the only border crossing allowed to us in Jericho area. Many thousands headed to Mecca for pilgrimage (Umra). Some started arriving at 3 AM. Many spend 10-14 hours to make a trip that in a normal circumstance would take one or two hours. The heat and the pressure of the masses was seasonal. We are treated to the endless checks and rechecks, the heat, the waiting in buses, the waiting in lines, the waiting in front of machines (both the metal type and the flesh and blood type), and the obligatory screaming Israeli woman soldier (why is this always there). The exit stamp to me is given after the young pretty Ethiopian women (I am lucky she was not the screaming one) seemed to take forever exchanging information with officers via her computer. People behind me started to grumble about whether I am "wanted".
In Amman, Jordan University Faculty of Science had booked a room for me in a 5-star hotel (Le Royal) which was really nice. At this hotel with nearly 300 rooms and some 30 suits, security is rather tight (understandable after the bombings of two hotels a while back). Security men checked cars chemically for explosives even before they were allowed to pull in front of the main entrance. In the hotel stays the usual coterie of business people from around the world, tourists, and diplomats. However, I also notice conspicuous presence of many US servicemen. These young men (20s and 30s) all appear similar and walk with a distinctive style even while not dressed in any uniforms. I talk to a couple of them who had just come from Iraq. Jordan is transfer station for access to Iraq. I regret the waste of taxpayer money as I think these folks should not be here. The hotel overlooks Amman: a huge booming metropolis with growing infrastructure and skyscrapers.
We have a dinner at the home of Dr. Layla Abdelnour, a recently retired Chemistry Professor (the family originally hails from Palestine via Lebanon, like 2/3rds of the population here). The dinner with some 30-40 professors and other academicians is really pleasant. It is always good to hear from the smart people who are always thinking of how to get our societies improving. Education, research and development, social issues etc make just as enticing as the authentic Arab dishes we are served in a beautiful home tantalize the palate. Today I am to give a 15-minute talk to the graduating class and to faculty, staff, and alumni. I give talks on an average of two a week and I usually do not spend much time preparing. However, this is important and I keep rethinking what words I can say that would help. The theme is role of alumni and how to enhance it/build it. I also think there can be much collaboration between universities in the Arab world and between those universities and Arab expatriates around the world (many of them, like me, were luck to receive the benefit of education in Arab Universities and/or raised in an environment that shaped us in places like Palestine and Jordan). My decision to come back to serve in the Arab world was one of those decisions in life I look at with bride. Now I just need to work on maximizing that service especially to young generations.
It is good to reflect on the first academic year after returning home. It was not easy but it was highly rewarding. I did accomplish most of what I wanted to do in this first year: Hosting and speaking to over 50 visiting International delegates; Teaching undergraduate and graduate students (and emphasizing critical thinking and problem solving); Starting a lab (began clinical and research work); Traveling around the occupied West Bank and working with hundreds of local people on everything from simple issues of life's basics to deep discussions of philosophy, religion, and politics; Writing including a good progress on finishing my book on Palestinian civil resistance.
The brutal war on Gaza was not anticipated and certainly changed our priorities (for nearly 2 months we focused on that including with demonstrations, media work, interviews etc). Had that not come, I am sure we could have done much more on other areas. However, having happened, it served to reinforce the notion that I would not want to have been anywhere else than in Palestine during these difficult times. This is part of the reason why I am already missing the place after leaving it just yesterday and I look forward to returning in July. And while Israe prevents us Palestinians from leaving through any other exist than through Jordan, this is good in may ways since it is the natural and logical extention. Jordan has always been the twin sister to Palestine. It is having to leave our home only through the back yard and our brother's yard during the curfews :-). Finally, for those of you who speak Arabic, I wrote this below as a form of reflection (observations of self-critique offered in humility).
8 June 2009
Nasser didn't want war. The two divisions he sent to Sinai would not have been sufficient to launch an offensive war He knew it and we knew it." (Yitzhaq Rabin, Le Monde, February 28, 1968).
"The Egyptian layout in Sinai and the general build up there testified to a militarily defensive Egyptian set-up, south of Israel" (Levy Eshkol, Yediot Ahronot, October 16, 1967).
"In June 1967 we again had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai did not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him." (August 8, 1982, Prime Minister Menachem Begin, New York Times, August 21, 1982)."
Six days in 1967 meant the beginning of 42 years of brutal military occupation and relentless colonization of the 22% of Palestine that was not occupied earlier. Despite UN resolutions and heroic resistance, the might of the US ensured so far that Israel maintains its occupation. For me personally, the occupation became part of my life as I recall the beating of a father, the demolition of a friend's home, the breaking of bones, the daily checkpoint crossing, the induced poverty, and much more. On June 8,1967, the USS Liberty was deliberately attacked by Israeli war planes (see http://www.ussliberty.org/ and the book “Assault on the Liberty” by LCDR. James Ennes, one of Liberty's wounded eyewitnesses). You can act by contacting elected officials, media, and other decision makers and “speak truth to power”.
I will be in Jordan, the US and Canada giving talks and networking: My tentative schedule so far
June 11, keynote speaker at Science Alumni dinner, Jordan University (speaking on R&D in the Arab world)
June 14, speaking Shmeisani, Amman (on civil resistance)
June 17 Noank Baptist Church, Connecticut
June 18 Boston (tentative)
June 22-24 Conference at York University, Toronto, http://www.yorku.ca/ipconf/ (speaking on one state)
June 25-29 Private conflict resolution conference at University of Pittsbuurgh
July 7 or 9 North Carolina (tentative)
July 10-12 National Assembly Meeting in Pittsburgh http://www.natassembly.org/ (many of us will likely attend even though we were disappointed by the undemocratic killing of resolutions on Palestine adopted by large majority at the assembly last year)
Major Success for the boycotts, divestment and sanctions campaign: Jerusalem rail operator jumps ship, Tel Aviv group isn't even responding "The political pressure on Veolia has been mounting in another direction. According to various reports abroad, the French firm had been losing major projects in Europe because of its involvement in the Jerusalem job. Observers claim that's the real reason Veolia opted out."
6 June 2009
Israeli occupation forces murdered our friend Aqel Srur (age 35) yesterday in the nonviolent demonstration in Ni’lin the day after many people showed excitement about Obama’s "peace" speech without carefully analyzing it (see below).
Israelis get four-fifths of scarce West Bank water, says World Bank. Palestinians losing out in access to vital shared sic aquifer in the occupied territories
Obama's speech shows little real change. In most regards his analysis maintains flawed American policies
By Ali Abunimah 4 June 2009
Yet, and as is expected people who are 98% supportive of Israeli government policies will be attacked for not being 100% supportive (remember the Pope’s visit?). So in this Video we see young people in Jerusalem express their opinions (this is not just revealing about Obama but about racism in general)
A Palestinian friend reacted to this footage thus: “Within the Palestinian Community, I can say that these attitudes translate into an evil apartheid system that has destroyed our communities and our livelihoods and that continues to perpetrate enormous violence on defenseless civilians. 80% of Israelis supported the recent bombing of Gaza, and that 80% support comes out of attitudes that are shown in this footage. These attitudes also explain how and why Avigdor Lieberman has risen to power in Israel today.”
"Israeli education ministry" worried about the few teachers who might (God forbid) let students know a tiny bit of the suffering of Palestinians http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1090345.html
Action: Break the siege: Schedule in Palestine (both sides of the green line)
Silence is complicity
2 June 2009
Many of you wrote after the last email to tell of health-care experiences. Many told stories of unsung heroes among medical personnel in Palestine and elsewhere. Many stated their desire to change the capitalist healthcare system in some western countries and cities that makes humans into “consumers” receiving “services” from “professionals”. Some of the stories were truly remarkable (one about the loving care given to her dying mother). I think these stories and first Faqoos harvests (variety of vegetable related to the cucumber famous in Beit Sahour) nicely balanced the spat of sad and surreal news that we have received the last few days. But things are changing for the better as the myths long propagated are dissipating and reality and realism sets in that peace and freedom in this world are not without price in struggle and clear demands of justice. Saturday I had the honor of speaking to an audience of Internationals and Palestinians on a panel that included a representative of the civil resistance committee against the wall in South Bethlehem. Earlier we had dinner with other brave souls from Bilin and elsewhere. These Palestinians risk their lives (we marked 40 days on the murder of our friend Basem AbuRahma), spend jail time, pay huge fines, and at a minimum lose the ability to travel out of the country once they participate in a public nonviolent demonstration. But not only Palestinians are involved. Other fellow human beings join us. On the same panel Saturday was an Israeli who faces jail time for his nonviolent actions to protect basic human rights (visit http://www.supportezra.net/ and especially view the videotape of Ezra's arrest by Israeli occupation forces).
Our collective struggle gains more urgency as racist Israeli settlers and soldiers intensify their rampages through the occupied West Bank. With impunity, Israeli Jewish colonial settlers in the Nablus area injured several Palestinian workers including one who is in serious condition and they set fires to Palestinian fields and orchards link). Another Jewish man killed a Palestinian in Jerusalem (and unlike if the situation was reversed, the Israeli government refused to attribute “nationalist motives” and instead and as usual mentioned that the guy may have been mentally disturbed). Many Israelis see these actions as a warning to the right wing government in Israel not to evacuate the colonial settlement outposts that have been added to the 250+ illegal colonial settlements that dot the area Israel illegally occupies since 1967. But they are better understood as a symptom of the same forces that brings a racist bigot from Moldova to live in a colonial settlement deep in the West Bank (near my home in Bethlehem area) AND become Israel’s foreign minister! But we also share responsibility to speak out against other symptoms such as the needless killing of six people in Qalqilya in a Fateh attack on Hamas men killing members of both sides. That incident came after Mahmoud Abbas went to Washington and reportedly got some promises about settlement freeze, though not rollback let alone concessions on basic International law (right of return and ending the occupation recede in the background). In return for these vague promises, a crackdown on resistance forces in the West Bank was anticipated. I believe all these things are symptoms of the original injustice of dispossession and ethnic cleansing that now lasted an unbelievable 61 years. Is it not time for all people of good conscience to say enough is enough to the charade of a peace process not based on justice? Isn’t it time we all take on our role as care-givers of fellow human beings. I will save the rest of this email for other material (symptoms) that might be of interest...
Video: Um Kamel retells the story of how she was kicked out of her home in Arab East Jerusalerm (as part of the structured program to ethnically cleanse Jerusalem) after they were removed in 1948 from their home in West Jerusalem
This week Amnesty International issued a report on violations of human rights in the occupied Palestinian areas
Also this week a UN team arrived in Gaza to investigate allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity
Truly amazing and must-see video: Jewish Telegraphic Agency reportd about Israeli lobby:
Racists for Democracy By Uri Avnery Gush Shalom, 30 May 2009
The private member’s bill, proposed by MK Zevulun Orlev of the “Jewish Home” party, which sailed through its preliminary hearing, promises one year in prison to anyone who publishes “a call that negates the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State”… One can foresee the next steps. A million and a half Arab citizens cannot be expected to recognize Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State. They want it to be “a state of all its citizens” – Jews, Arabs and others. They also claim with reason that Israel discriminates against them, and therefore is not really democratic. And, in addition, there are also Jews who do not want Israel to be defined as a Jewish State in which non-Jews have the status, at best, of tolerated outsiders.
Torture-row doctors stick the knife in By Leon Symons
The Israeli president of the World Medical Association has attacked critics who have called for his dismissal over allegations that Israeli doctors have been involved in or condoned the torture of Palestinians.
Amazing US Debt Clock (wonder how much of this disaster is related to support for Israel. Just the Iraq war cost $3 trillion, how much worse will it be with AIPAC's push for Iran confrontation)
30 May 2009
I spent a lot of time the last week in hospitals, clinics and laboratories. When a family member is ill, it always seems that other issues recede in the background. But in one way it was great to see that healthcare services in occupied Palestine are really amazingly efficient considering the challenges. Specialized services are limited by the decades of occupation and intentional attempts at de-development and destruction. But most other services were available and I venture to say on par with USA or other developed countries. Both Private and Public health services exist. As usual the private ones have a little more resources available to them but the difference here is small. Also "private" hospitals are not like in the US since here they are not for making money. Most are charitable organizations (some affiliated with political factions, others independent). Their aim is to provide services that are needed at very low prices. A medical procedure that in the US would cost $500 here costs $30-50. The professionalism and care of medical people is exemplary. To them, patients are not "consumers" nor are they "subjects with an illness". They are people (friends, family fellow Palestinians). And dignity is what you see. At the Arab Rehabilitation Hospital, many of the employees are themselves ex-patients (many are handicapped). I spent lots of time talking to health care professionals and lab workers and there is a palpable sense of mission and drive that make one proud to meet those folks. When we talk of politics we talked of the deteriorating health situation in Gaza. I remember when these doctors and nurses went out in a large demonstrations last January to show their solidarity with Gaza. Other thoughts that occurred to me in the corridors of these health care facilities centered on our common human feelings of caring for a sick person. When I observed a mother gently caressing a sick child or an elderly being helped by a nurse, I cannot help but think that there is enough goodness in humanity to conquer racism, oppression, injustice, occupation, etc. And if a single human body can be cured, surly we can cure societies that are built on racism and segregation. We just need good diagnosis and appropriate therapy from fellow human beings and its is being applied (only it is taking a bit longer than many of us hope for)....
A Call from Palestine: Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)
We strongly urge our fellow university students all over the world to:
(1) Support all the efforts aimed at boycotting Israeli academic
(2) Pressure university administrations to divest from Israel and from
companies directly or indirectly supporting the Israeli occupation and
(3) Promote student union resolutions condemning Israeli violations of
international law and human rights and endorsing BDS in any form;
(4) Support the Palestinian student movement directly.
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To join a back-immigration movement to build Palestine and to build a large scale cooperative association as a network of rural-production industry-parks please look into the presentation
Prussia on the Mediterranean? by Roane Careu, The Nation
How can a state that imprisons 4 million Palestinians behind ghetto walls, bypass roads and a blockade, and treats another 1.5 million as second-class citizens, be democratic? BGU geography professor Oren Yiftachel calls Israel an ethnocracy (the title of a recent book of his); the late Hebrew University sociologist Baruch Kimmerling called it a "Herrenvolk democracy." Whatever you call it, if Israel continues along its current path, the repression will necessarily intensify, and the avenues for free expression will become ever more constricted.
(Analysis) Mr. Abbas Goes to Washington by ALI ABUNIMAH, May 28, 2009
It would be sad indeed if the first African-American president of the United States were to defend in Israel exactly the kind of institutionalized bigotry the civil rights movement defeated in this country, a victory that made his election possible.
24 May 2009
Breakfast with my mother then reading the news over the internet (Netanyahu aid says a focus on two states is silly, accusations against Hizballah to try and influence Lebanon elections, another child dies in besieged Gaza for lack of medical care, head of the Israeli Intelligence services tells Knesset the wall is not necessary to protect against Palestinian resistance etc). Answering emails and doing some work at home (chromosomes and reading student reports). In the afternoon meet with a good friend I have not seen in years (now married and with two young kids). Then we get dressed for a baptism of my sister's fourth grandson (see attached photo). Over 100 relatives and a few curious tourists attend the joyous baptism in the Church of Nativity (where tradition holds that Jesus was born). Then we go to Oush Ghrab in Beit Sahour (an area threatened by settlers) for an outdoor performance by Garth Hewitt. Over 200 town people and nearly 50 Internationals are having a good time. We newtork, talk, drink, clap, and sway. On the way back, we pass by a funeral tent so I ask my mother who it is for, and she tells me it is a school principal that I worked under briefly in 1978. I am saddened and I feel guilty that I don't remember the guy well. But then we get home we face even more sad news that my school teacher/pricipal, good friend, author, and mentor Yaqoub AlAtrash (74 year old) has just passed away. In my elementary and middle school years I always loved "Ustaz Yaqoub" for his spirit and his educational style. He was a towering man with a gentle smile and a kind spirit (I never heard him raise his voice). Each morning we lined up to hear him speak a few words to us and he always had an anecdote to relay. I recall one morning when Ustaz Yaqoub began by telling us that in walking to school he stopped to observe an ant. The ant was carrying food that must have been five times its weight and was trying to cross up a dirt mound. When half way it would tumble back and try again. It must have done it at least 20 times before it finally was able to cross with sheer determination (and the fact that each time it tumbled, some of the mound soil tumbled with it). He said that is what life is about, trials, tribulations, failures, success but most importantly "never giving up". He leaves us with so many memories and a few books he authored (including a biography of my late grandfather). The last time I saw him was about a month ago when I visited him in his home. He was in severe pain but insisted to spend a lot of time with me to tell me about the 1987-1991 uprising and how students and teachers adapted and resisted the frequent curfews and school closings. I interviewed him about his just released second part of his memoires. We talked about his teachers and he especially talked fondly about a devout Muslim teacher who taught them Arabic in Jaffa and made learning such an exciting thing. That chain of influence from teacher to student to a new generation of students makes one think.
To go from a baptism through a music of life to a knowledge of the inevitability of death with the continiuty of good deeds over generations is humbling. I am renewed in a sense of purpose and thus glad to have just finished another semester teaching at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities. I know what Ustaz Yaqoub and Ustaz Zaki (a Christian and a Muslim) and the generations before them and after them would want us to intensify our efforts for peace with justice and especially to take care of the new generations (future teachers).
I download and arrange a series of pictures I took yesterday along the way to Birzeit University. I arrange a depressing series of signs to the ever growing settlements (and clear absence of signs to the Palestinian villages and towns barely clinging to life especially around Jerusalem). But I am encouraged by the growing awareness and civil resistance and most of all by the energy of the young students. So I write to you as always in hope you continue to take action.
Video: The Pope at Aida Refugee Camp saw this children’s play from Al-Rowwad with the backdrop of the Apartheid wall (the Pope ascribed the wall to “stalemate” rather than to the racism that really is the cause of it, but the message got through thanks to these Children)
(in Arabic) Video: Just a story of a child born with a heart defect that would be repairable in any other part of the world but not in Gaza
The change that is not Obama offers little new: what the vast majority of Palestinians would view as a horrifying plan to legitimize their dispossession, grant Israel a perpetual license to be racist and turn the apartheid regime set up by the Oslo accords into a permanent prison, is now viewed as bold and far-reaching thinking that threatens to rupture American-Israeli bonds.
ACTION: You can join PalFest physically in Palestine or over the internet
ACTION: The Palestinian Summer Celebration 2009
Come and celebrate Palestine! The Palestinian Summer Celebration is a unique annual program that gives people from all over the world the chance to encounter the life, culture, and politics of Palestine. Learn Arabic and study Palestinian history at Bethlehem University, spend time with local families and volunteer with a community organization.
14 June 2009 – 16 August 2009
June 14th – July 12th 2009 (first month)
July 13th – August 16th 2009 (second month)
Link For more information
15 May 2009
15 May 2009
Life is returning back to the "normal" beat of occupation/colonization after the Pope's visit. The reporters filed stories and the ones allowed to print went through while others were self-censored. Thus few stories appeared about the strangulation of Bethlehem and the colonial theft of our land and natural resources that has been going on for 61 years. But I believe the Internet and personal communications have accelerated a process of change that will inevitably lead to freedom and reversal of colonialism (the main risk now is the Palestinain leadership divisions and pettiness). The best evidence of this shift is that even mainstream media can no longer ignore reality and perhaps more importantly the evidence of desperation among the ruling regimes. The arrest of Amira Hass (an Israeli reporter was arrested by the Israeli regime for going to Gaza and reporting on real life) and of Israeli peace activists. The attempst to silence by force those who speak out whether in 1948 Palestine, in the West Bank or in Gaza. The scripted Israel lobby conference in Washington that tried in vain to push for stronger pressure on Iran. The kidnapping of 2300 Palestinians by the apartheid forces since the beginning of this year. That desperation among those trying to preserve the status quo is a good sign. I remain optimsitic (see my interview below).
61 years ago today, the state of Israel unilaterally declared its independence after its ground forces have alraedy been engaged in nearly 6 months of ethnic cleansing of the native population. The ethnic cleansing continued after the founding of the state (for a total of 530 villages and towns completely erased). We Palestinains refer to this as the Nakba (the Catasrophe of ethnic cleansing that preceded, accompanied and followed the founding of the Jewish state by force on Palestinian soil). After the last cease fire of 1949, Israel continued demolishing homes and destroying villages and towns. This received a spike after 1967 and the occupation of the remainder of Palestine. We are seeing today more of this process everywhere from the Galilee to Jerusalem to Bethlehem (where the foreign born "foreign minister of Israel" lives on Palestinian land) to the Negev where over 30 "unrecognized" villages are being targeted.
Nakba commemorations in Palestine this year were a bit more subdued because of the political schisms created in Palestinian society (thanks to Oslo accords). But they were traditionally filled with memories of refugees and with hopes and energy and aspiration of refugee children. Even the demonstrations against the wall today carried large keys symbolizing teh right to return (e.g. in Bil'in). Here is a slide whow of 10 minutes to help you put the Nakba in perspective and think about what we need to do collectively:
Action to Remember the Nakba: Act now to stop home demolitions
And we must intensify the boycotts, divestments, and sanctions. They are growing. I was happy to see that even Israeli organizations have called for Norwegian divestment from Israeli companies and corporations. In an unprecedented way, a wide array of Israeli civil society and grassroots organizations has sent a letter to the Norwegian Pension Fund, addressed to its Council on Ethics, urging it to support their efforts for a just peace and equality in Israel/Palestine by divesting from all companies involved in the Israeli occupation. These Israeli organizations include feminist organizations and community centers, peace and human rights organizations, organizations concerned with civil rights and equality within the state of Israel and organizations dedicated to ending the occupation of Palestinian territories, to the benefit of all people living in Israel/ Palestine. More here
Envisioning a better future: Activist Mazin Qumsiyeh interviewed
Ida Audeh, The Electronic Intifada, 11 May 2009
11 May 2009
8 May 2009
What the pope won’t see while visiting Palestine. He will not meet with local Christians. He will be prevented from standing next to the Apartheid wall and much more.
and he won't see
these Children (Jesus would certainly have insisted to see them and help them):
Palestinian and Israeli Human Rights Organisations Release Joint Fact
Sheet Calling for an End to International Donor Complicity in Israeli
Violations of International Law. To read the full text of the joint statement in PDF
Video: Stephen Hawkings, Another genius stating the simple truth about Israel and Gaza
Applicability of the crime of apartheid in Israel
Action: Contact the White House. Tell them what you think of AIPAC and of continued Israeli violations of International and Humanitarian law (all funded by US taxpayers): http://www.whitehouse.gov/CONTACT/
ACTION: Today in Palestine will send you daily emails of what is going on in Palestine (things the mainstream media does not cover). The website is http://www.theheadlines.org but I prefer a subscription to the excellent list newsletter: you may email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be added.
Action: We face an environmental world catastrophe of a global and unprecedented nature. Global warming is real. Pollution is at unprecedented levels and human population growth and wasteful habits learned from the capitalist, consumerist society of the West are spreading. While we focus on human rights we must remember that one of those rights is to have a livable planet for our children and grandchildren. I will start inserting some ideas here to reduce waste, recycle products, and rehabilitate our environment. Today, I urge you (if you are not already doing) to separate organic matter from trash and compost all organic matter. See http://www.composting101.com/
3 May 2009
David Ben-Gurion had a conversation with another Zionist leader before he died. An interesting excerpt: "’I don't understand your optimism,’ Ben-Gurion declared. ‘Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. …There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations' time, but for the moment there is no chance. So it's simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army. Our whole policy is there. Otherwise the Arabs will wipe us out’. ‘But how can you sleep with that prospect in mind,’ I broke in, ‘and be Prime Minister of Israel too?’ Who says I sleep? he answered simply.’ (The Jewish Paradox by Nahum Goldman, p. 99)
I was reminded of this quote when I read the English translation of an article titled “Nakba: not a dirty word” published by Amaya Galil in Hebrew on the occasion of Israel independence celebrations. Part of it says:
“We, as a society and as individuals, are unwilling to accept responsibility for the injustice done to the Palestinians, which allows us to continue living here. But who decided that’s the only way we can live here? The society we’re creating is saturated with violence and racism. Is this the society in which we want to live? What good does it do to avoid responsibility? What does that prevent us from doing?... As has occurred elsewhere in the world, ways can be found to implement the return of the refugees without expelling the country’s current residents. That’s what should happen here, and it’s possible. Implementing the right of return will allow us, Jewish Israelis, to end our tragic role of occupiers. Life doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. There are other alternatives. Palestinians and Jews can together build a society that is just and egalitarian. People will live sanely, not perpetually anxious and in fear of war.”
Hebrew original http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3706047,00.html
Translation: Charles Kamen http://www.zochrot.org/index.php?lang=english
This fear and worry that results from the theft of land and resources of another people is endemic in Israeli society and it leads to bigotry against the victims (natural in such situations of colonialism, see native American history). A recent study showed that ¾ of Jewish students have racist views of Palestinians who are citizens of Israel and yet, the new government killed a welcome initiative that would have begun to address this by educating all children in Israeli schools about coexistence and equality (see “A welcome initiative, quashed” By Yousef Jabareen, Haaretz Friday, May 1, 2009 http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1082172.html). And just last week, the same Israeli newspaper reported that the only Israeli public school with Jewish and non-Jewish (Christian and Muslim Palestinian Israeli) students is threatened with closure for lack of funding and support. Step towards stronger Jim Crow laws of segregation (separate and unequal) to further marginalize Palestinians who remained in the Israeli state after its founding on the ruins of Palestine (yes ruins since 530 villages and towns were completely destroyed and depopulated). Israel continues for example to try to relocate Palestinians from over 40 villages/towns in the Negev to “concentration areas” by denying them basic services, demolishing their homes, and spraying their crops.
But these are the relatively better-off Palestinians. Palestinians in refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria, in the no mans land between Iraq and Syria, and us in the West Bank and especially Gaza are facing far more dire prospects. On labor day May 1st, 200,000 Palestinians in the Gaza strip were looking for work (65% unemployment rate). 85% of the Gaza population barely survives on humanitarian aid. Most of the population lives below the poverty rate.
As this catastrophe unfolds, Hamas and Fatah continue to argue over how to form a government under occupation! (My humble opinion: The faction should give the International community one month to produce a total freeze on all home demolitions and on all settlement activities and a further five months in which it will force Israel to comply with all UN resolutions and International laws including dismantling all the settlements in the areas occupied in 1967 and if not complied with then dismantle the Palestinian authority and develop an underground leadership to build popular civil resistance until full liberation and self determination for all 10 million Palestinians).
The Israeli government has really gone off the deep end in its arrogant belligerence. For example, according to Haaretz, “A Foreign Ministry official has been warning European countries that unless they curtail criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu's government, Israel will block the European Union from participating in the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.” Wow, speaking against continued violations of International law (for example the continued home demolitions in Jerusalem while building colonial Jewish settlements) is now grounds for a warning to freeze you out of the “diplomatic process with the Palestinians”. Do they mean by “diplomatic process” this endless 15-years-old (nay 61) “process” of lies, distortions, and delays while Israel continues to build settlements on stolen lands and violate international law?
Looking forward, I believe we must work for coexistence and equality and abandon all forms of segregation and discrimination based on religion or other considerations (see "Two State Solution" Equals Racism: Palestinians and Jews CAN Live Peacefully as Equals in One Democratic State http://newdemocracyworld.org/War/Two-state.htm and my book Sharing the Land of Canaan). We share this small planet and recent events from financial catastrophe to the swine flu scare merely prove the obvious.
What to do?
First, here is a must see video: YES YOU CAN!
Second: here is a hint http://www.bdsmovement.net/
29 April 2009
Yesterday, several surreal items connected in my mind including the news of Swine flu epidemic (1), a child tortured to death in Jordan, home demolitions in Jerusalem (2), Israeli celebratory fireworks over these demolished homes in Jerusalem, and an overnight posting of hundreds of thousands of posters of Mahmoud Abbas all over the West Bank. The surrealism of celebrations on top of continuing ethnic cleansing perhaps is what got me most reflective. While many Israelis celebrate their victory with flag waving and parties, Palestinians (and conscientious Israelis) of course commemorate the period in our joint tragic history that marked the beginning of the Nakba (the large scale ethnic cleansing of Palestine that accompanied the formation of Israel on top of Palestine). This Nakba did not stop in 1949 when Israel managed to destroy 530 Palestinian villages and towns and drive their inhabitants out and then (contrary to International law) refused to allow them their right to return. I see little nakbas here every day. Perhaps my own little illness (no not swine flu) made me think about the larger illnesses in our societies. The illness of thinking that wars and nuclear weapons provide "safety" to Jews (when one individual could potentially kill thousands by just passing on a virus). The illness of an apartheid wall between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The illness of a half brother of the ruler of the Western backed leader of the United Arab Emirates who tortured an Afghani merchant and the illness of his getting away with it. The illness that caused the death of a five-year-old by torture from his relatives in Jordan. The illness of use of white phosphorous on civilian areas. The illness of the acts that Nazis and Zionists perpetuated (3). The illness of those who try to justify all these other illnesses. But thinking of illnesses and viruses also make us think of viral transmission of ideas. While ideas like political Zionism and Bin Laden Islamism can spread, ideas of humanism can also spread (maybe these are the immune system against self-destruction). I believe the time will come when Israeli leaders finally publicly acknowledge the injustice inflicted on the Palestinians and begin the difficult process necessary for a durable peace: namely restorative justice. The sheer illogic of endless wars created to establish and strengthen a Jewish state in a multiethnic area is becoming hard to ignore for many people (4). I believe this coming year will be pivotal. The number of people around the world who have seen this situation as what it is and the danger it poses to the world is unprecedented. Military might cannot secure a people's future on stolen lands at the expense of basic human rights. The massacres in Iraq (a war at the behest of Israel), the Israeli massacres in Lebanon in 2006, and the ongoing massacres in Gaza all made people think that the instability caused and created by the Zionist project in the Middle East cannot continue. But we cannot blame all our ills on Zionism and Imperialism. Corrupt Arab leaders, complacent publics, and indifferent people who actually can make a difference adds to all of this mess.
AIPAC, the foreign agents trying to influence US Policy in favor of Zionism at the expense of US interests (5) will hold their annual convention this weekend in Washington DC. It's time to expose AIPAC’s pro-war stance and take a stand in favor of human rights and international law. Join CODEPINK and other groups in Washington DC May 2-5 in a variety of activities planned throughout the convention. E-mail email@example.com for more information. For example, two protests will be held Monday 8:30-10:45 a.m. just before and during the address to AIPAC by Israeli President Shimon Peres and 5-7 PM just before and during AIPAC's gala celebration, where all the attendees and their guests will be gathering in front of the DC Convention Center (555 13th St., NW). Dress in black.
In good news, President Obama wants aid to go to PA even if Hamas joins government. Despite attacks from Congressmen beholden to AIPAC lobbyists, "Hillary Clinton has defended the proposal, saying that the U.S. has continued to fund other governments in which designated terror groups are represented, including the Lebanese government which includes officials from the Hezbollah militant organization. she stated "We don't want to . . . bind our hands in the event that such an agreement is reached, and the government that they are part of agrees to our principles". Please send the President your thoughts, he actually even responds personally to some emails. Recent polls indicate that his supporters want the US to play an honest role and not continue to take the side of Israel (6). You might want to tell him to at a minimum to force Israel to halt all settlement activities in all the occupied areas including Jerusalem. For links and resources for such action needed, see http://endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=1867
Feel ready to take another action (those are the best pills against the illnesses)?
Hold Motorolla shareholders accountable for supporting Israeli war crimes
Or follow your conscience and do something you think important for fellow human beings.
1 Information on Swine Flu (it is still Swine flu despite the attempt by Israeli health officials to change its name)
2 see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8016258.stm
3 This link shows pictures that compare situations faced by Palestinians to situations faced by victims of the Nazis
4 The transmission of memes, like genes in population is now well recognized. The meme that Israel is an apartheid state is now well established for example. See Applicability of the crime of apartheid in Israel
5 Please read an article I wrote about these folks and published a few years ago that is still relevant: http://www.qumsiyeh.org/continuamagazine/
6 Surprising finding: Democrats’ and Republicans’ Divergent Views on Israeli-Arab Peace
27 April 2009
Note: I will be in Jordan June 9-15 and in the USA from June 16-July 15 (with a side trip to York University in Toronto to speak at a conference June 22-24, see http://www.yorku.ca/ipconf/ ). I plan to give talks and tend to other activist and work related issues. Please contact me if you would like me to speak to your community during this trip or visit together (especially in Jordan or the USA) . I will be back to Palestine July 16.
One Week After the murder of our friend Bassem Aburahmah, the weekly Bil’in demonstrations went on uninterrupted but 25 peaceful demonstrators were injured. The occupation soldiers "defending" the stolen land from its Palestinian owners smashed cameras of three reporters (Fadi Al-Arori from Reuters, Mohib Barghouti from Al-Haya and Israeli activist and filmmaker, Shai Pollack). Those injured from the village included: Fadil Alkhatib, brothers Ahmed and Awada Abu Rahmah, brothers Riyad and Iyad Burnat, Khalid Alkhatib, Abdullah Aburahmah, Mohammed Alkhatib, Wael Fahmi, Basel Mansour, Tariq Alkhatib, Abdullah Yasin, Tamir Alkhatib, Nizar Aburahmah, Husam Alkhatib, Mohammed Nabil Aburahmah, Nour Yasin, Ibrahim Burant, Ahmad Aburahmah (Bassem’s Brother) and Adeeb Aburahmah. With these sacrifices, the demonstrators succeeded in building a memorial for Bassem Aburahmah near the gate where he was murdered. A video of the killing of Bassem made it to AlJazeera (see
I also met Bassem’s brother Ashraf and learned that he was the man who was blindfolded and handcuffed before he was shot by a rubber coated steel bullet in the presence and order of an Israeli officer at a nearby Palestinian village (see footage at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_TgttR9V0k )
Must read and see : His name was Bessem ….(including photo of Bassem flying a kite next to the wall)
We live in an Orwellian world just witnessing the news. Israel tried to shut down preparations for the Pope’s visit to Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem so that the issue of the refugees is not highlighted
We want him actually to go to Gaza. And Yad Vashem (main museum for the Jewish holocaust) fired an employee who simply pointed out that Deir Yassin (an ethnically cleansed village in which a large massacre was committed by Zionist forces in April 1948) remains unmarked and unmentioned even as the site is actually visible from Yad Vashem
Link ). The Israeli police detained several Israeli human rights activists from several cities for exercising their basic human right of freedom of expression (in this case against the draft to the Israeli Occupation Forces). Get informed on this http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/publish/article_1182.shtml
and Take action
And there will be mass singing of the Israel national anthem (its lyrics speak about "Jewish yearnings" to the land even when Israel is not Jewish, there are over 20% Muslims and Christians despite the ethnic cleansing). The synchronous mass singing will get more than 100,000 participants from around the world, more than half of them are expected to be Zionist Jews who are not Israelis (i.e. citizens of other countries)! To top off the week’s assemblage of "news", The Israeli deputy health minister just stated in a press conference after the identification of two Israelis with the disease, that Israel would insist on calling it Mexican flu not Swine flu!
Action is still the best antidote to despair...
24 April 2009
In this video tape, Bassem Aburahma (nick named ElFeel, the elephant, for he was always thought of as a giant among his peers) is seen pleading with Israeli soldiers to wait (saying Raiga in Hebrew) as Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals protested the land confiscation and building of the apartheid fence on vilage land. The soldiers then shoot Bassem point blank with a high velocity gas grenade which kills him within five minutes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlbzuZ_50mU
and here is a video of the funeral the next day
Please share these videos with media, politicians and others to see what is being done daily under occupation. The speech by Iyad Bornat of the Freiends of Freedom and justice given at Bil’in International Conference which had 200 International and local attendees was given 23 April 2009 and is inspiring (translation below). Iyad himself was injured several time and lost relatives.
In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate Ladies and gentlemen; honorable attendees
Greetings to each and every one of you. Greeting from a heart that is bathed with the perfume of a valley that is surrounded by an apartheid wall and dotted with mines. The valley that is watered with the blood of the martyr hero Bassem Aburahma who was butchered by the occupation army without mercy in a cowardly attempt to silence his voice. The voice that always called for freedom and for resistance to injustice. Greetings to the martyr Bassem who fell on this thirsty and torn land to water it with his blood and to feed it with his pure soul.
Our conference comes amid an escalation of Israeli actions against our people and our land. As the racist apartheid wall continues to be built as continued colonial land confiscation and as thousands of houses are being built in colonial settlements especially in occupied Jerusalem which is being Judaicized and cut off from its Palestinian surrounding. This is done in contravention of all International laws and resolutions with the aim of creating facts on the ground that prevent any possibility of a future just and peaceful solution. Our conference comes at a time that the policy of cantonization of Palestinian land continues through checkpoints that now exceed 590 and through hundreds of orders of closure and military confiscations and home demolitions. This in addition to the brutal siege imposed on the Palestinian areas especially on eth Gaza strip. Accompanying all these inhuman practices are massacres and assassinations carried out without discrimination between a child, a women or an elderly. Hence just recently, the occupation authorities assassinated our friend and life companion Bassem Aburahma on the land of this steadfast village and in their attempt to break our will and our determination to continue our struggle. Add to that the daily kidnappings/arrests in all districts.
Faced with this painful reality, the Palestinian people could do nothing less than continue to express its rejection of all these occupation practices by confronting the occupation with bare chests and with the faith in our right to life and liberty like all other people side by side with all free people of various nations regionally and internationally who seek peace, safety, and dignity.
One of the biggest dangers that faced Palestine throughout its history is the building of the apartheid wall that started in 2002 in the north of the West Bank at a time that the Israeli occupation forces surrounded and entered and engaged in widescale destruction in Palestinian cities. Israeli bulldozers demolished olive groves, weat fields, grape vines and more. Palestinian awoke to these Israeli plans that aimed at killing the Palestinian state geographically, politically and by destroying its economic and industrial base. Perhaps more important it was to kill hope in people’s souls. But as soon as they started building the wall, popular committees started as a reaction by farmers and evolved to become a popular broad movement from the North in Jenin to Qalqilia to Jayyus, Azzawiya, Salfit, Deir Alghusoon, Azoun AlAtma, and many more villages and towns impacted by this wall.
This movement spread, famers and civil and public institutions and village councils all worked to build public committees to resist the wall in every village and town. Jayyus set an example with her children, her women, and her elderly. And in Budrus proof that the popular resistance includes all segments of societies can make something from nothing. In daily demonstration that all the village residents participate in which forced Israelis to move the wall to the border to the 1967. The popular resistance continued and spread to the villages northwest of Jerusalem and Beit Laqia and Beitunia where martyrs fell by the dozens but this did not stop the popular civil resistance. But instead it increased the believe in it. Bil’in came with its popular committee that excelled and was very creative and showed the best examples of steadfastness and roads to victory. Bloods of martyrs like Bassam Aburahama testify to this persistence in rejection of Israeli plans on our land. And this committee succeeded in forcing a decision to change the path of the wall. We became an international symbol of popular resistance. Bil’in became a partner to other Palestinian villages. AlMa’sara formed the committee to protect the Bethlehem district, and became an example for activities that express the best of the historical and religious significance of Bethlehem district. The village became the eye of the district and the eye of the south. The popular committees to resist the wall in Palestine were able to convince the world of the justice of the Palestinian cause and to bring international support. International solidarity activists became faithful messengers of Palestinian cause and unknown soldiers standing by the Palestinian people. They transmit the stories of Palestinian suffering to people around the world to pressure their government to end the brutal occupation.
Ladies and Gentlemen, on this occasion again we express our appreciation and respect for all that you have given and will continue to give to support our resistance in the face of the criminal Zionist behavior. We would like to emphasize the following:
On the Palestinian level
-We emphasize the necessity of the Palestinian unity as the basis in ensuring the success of the Palestinian national goals of freedom and independence.
-We ask the Palestinian national authority, its president and its prime minister to increase serious work to apply the decision of the international court of justice of 9 July 2004 and the U.N. General Assembly resolution that followed.
-We commend the Palestinian national authority position of support for popular resistance. We thank you Mr. President and Mr. Prime Minister. But we hope and wish that you work with us in the wider scale to increase our effort and to support the citizens’ resistance by increasing projects in area C and agree to spend monthly stipend for the popular committee to ensure their continuity. We also call on you to take a strong political stance on the issues of Judaicizing Jerusalem and continuing settlement and wall building: a stance that would force the international community to pressure Israel.
- We ask the national movements to put popular resistance at the head of their programs starting with boycott of Israeli products and up to participation at all levels in future popular actions.
- We emphasize the need to continue in the popular resistance as a strategic tool based on successful experience in resisting the wall. The depository of the popular Palestinian struggle include the experience of the first intifada and we call on unifying all efforts in exchanging these experiences and increasing level of collaboration and cooperation both between popular committee and between these committees and other segment of society.
On the Israeli level
-Strengthening the relationship with the Israeli peace movement that support our people’s struggle against the occupation.
-Rejection of any kind of normalization with the Israeli occupiers and its institutions and organizations and representatives.
On the international level
-Growing our relationship with international solidarity activists and recruiting more of them to work with peace and freedom.
-Work to mobilize Palestinian and Arab communities abroad.
-Requesting union organizations and groups and all peace activist and civil societies around the world to
oParticipate in presenting the realities of Palestinian experience and thus challenge the Israeli propaganda
oWork on boycotts, divestment and sanctions including suspension of the EU-Israel partnership
oApply pressure to official international institutions especially the EU, European governments, and the USA so that they demand Israel fulfill its international obligations including ending the occupation and ending all practices that violates Palestinian human rights. We request all western countries especially the US to end its political material and military support to the state of occupation. This blind support encourages the occupation to continue to violate basic human rights. American weapons had been used to kill our innocent children.
To all the world we say that the Palestinian Arab people are still suffering a grave injustice and massacre at the hands of brutal occupation in the shadow of dreadful international silence and sometimes with full support of the West to injustice. Yet, we continue to cling to our land as done for centuries despite the killing, the demolition, the siege, the starvation, the expulsion, the land and water confiscation. My people are suffering and it’s time to end the injustice. History will not forgive those who are partners in crime. The future will see new smiles on the faces of our children, a future of peace and love between people. Those children in my country today do not know the sea and are forbidden to even wonder into nature into their fields where the guns of the occupiers target them.
Be with what is right. We promise you, promise our people, promise our martyrs including our heroic martyr Bassam that we will continue in our resistance and rejections of this occupation until it ends. This wall will fall and in its place we will build bridges of friendships between people and construct windows of hope. That is our promise and with your help we will fulfill our promise.
Translation by Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
Silence is complicity
19 April 2009
On the recommendation of an Israeli friend in Tel Aviv* and as Netanyahu demanded (even though the Obama Administration did not go along with his formulation/condition), I recognize Israel as a Jewish racist state and I think the Palestinian leadership should do the same thing! All of us should indeed recognize that it has structured itself as an exclusivist Jewish state and enshrined racism in its basic laws (on land ownership, citizenship laws etc, see chapter 7 in my book “Is Israel a Democracy? Posted at http://www.qumsiyeh.org/chapter7/ ). This would indeed clear things up and we can begin the real work for a durable peace. Framing the conflict correctly is indeed far more conducive to solving it than the vague 62 year quest for an elusive “two-state” solution while the racist regime continues to kill Palestinians with impunity and to take our land and demolish our homes even in areas supposedly "not disputed" (like the Negev and the Galilee). On Friday when we had our commemoration of the Crucifixion of Jesus (Per the Eastern Christian calendar), our colleague Basem Aburahma was killed and several injured in a nonviolent demonstration in Bilin (see report from the International Middle East Media Center at http://www.imemc.org/article/60009 ). Many people in Gaza continue to suffer (and indeed die) thanks to the medieval siege that Israel imposed on them. And we Christians of the Holy Land are not spared the onslaught that has been going on for 62 years under the racist ideology of creating a Jewish state in a multiethnic multireligious Palestine. Here are just two stories about our struggles here in Beit Sahour (the Shepherds’ field), whose population is 70% Christian and 30% Muslim:
-Palestinians opposing Jewish settlement in Ush Ghrab have shown courage but their efforts are futile without support by Ben White, published in the Guardian 9 April 2009
-Residents of a Palestinian Christian housing project in the West Bank village of Beit Sahour say Israel is encircling their community with a security road to separate them from a nearby Jewish settlement. http://fosna.org/content/christian-housing-faces-israeli-encirclement
Jerusalem/AlQuds was declared 2009 capital of Arab culture. This happened as the city is being changed by ethnic cleansing, home demolition, destroying its multiethnic, multireligious (and predominantly Arab/Eastern) to become an Ashkenazi-Jewish-Western city. http://www.alquds2009.org
This goes on while President Obama lives in a “Bubble of Ignorance” (see “Solving Palestine While Israel Destroys It” an analysis by ex-CIA analysts of the house of cards that is the “peace process industry” http://www.counterpunch.org/christison04152009.html
We must push Obama and politicians and media round the world. Write, write and write and let us all raise the heat a bit on both the usurpers and the indifferent. Meanwhile, let us continue building the boycotts, divestments and sanctions movement against apartheid Israel (see http://www.bdsmovement.net/ ) and do continue “having joyful participation in the sorrows of this world.”
PS, the lemons and oranges are now blossoming and the fragrance is incredible.
*Here is what David wrote: I think the Palestinians can go along with Nothingyahooo, and recognize Israel right away as a "racist and fascist state", perhaps such act of recognition in itself would cheer them up and surely not stir any embarrassment. At any case - no doubt the Israeli stooge government and its foreign office are working 24/7 devising plans to cheat and stall Obama, Mitchell and other envoys, I believe they would rather end up nuking the entire ME than give up their 1967 loot. Before that, I won't be surprised if the subservient AIPAC would soon unleash an upgraded assault, extending its lethal claws to subdue American policy makers.
17 April 2009
We now know how Nothingyahoo (Netanyahu) intends to pursue the classic Israeli policy of engaging in endless "Peace Talks" without the intention of reaching any peace based on International law. He says to US envoy George Mitchell that his government wants the Palestinians to agree to recognize Israel not just as a state but as “A JEWISH STATE” before beginning to discuss the possibility of a two-state solution. This is like South Africa under apartheid insisting that the ANC recognize South Africa as a White State before beginning to discuss the possibility of giving the blacks a state (a Bantustan). Even without complying with International law and allowing the Palestinian refugees to return, there are 20-25% of the population in Israel who are not Jewish and are already targeted (Israel’s foreign minister who came from abroad and has no connection to the land wants to get rid of the natives). If there is a definition of Chutzpah then this notion of recognizing a racist “Jewish state” as precondition even for talks is it. Unfortunately, this is only made possible by the lack of a Palestinian coherent strategy to face the regional and International challenges including outright attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause. Instead, the struggle between Hamas and Fateh have now become a defacto struggle between leadership of two prisoner factions for leadership of prison blocks (Gaza and the five cantons in the West Bank) and the struggle for freedom has receded to lower priority if not outright ignored. An encouraging sign came when Mahmoud Abbas said he would demand a freeze to settlements before returning to talks (we will see if this holds). The Obama administration beginning to talk with Iran on its nuclear program does not necessarily imply progress as we the Palestinians may end up being just another bargaining chip in these international chess games. Egypt’s spat with Iran and Hizballah is also part of this political positioning for influence and relevance. There are International powers (principally Russia, US, and to a lesser degree major European countries) and there are regional powers (Israel, Turkey, Iran, and to a much lesser degree Egypt and Syria). All now have a say or at least want a say in Palestinian affairs and are having major inroads thanks to the disastrous route taken in the last 15 years (especially the fragmentation of the Palestinian collective). Since Hamas and Fateh are the two largest Palestinian factions, they hold the biggest share of responsibility for this pathetic (though not hopeless) state of disjointed affairs.
In Birzeit University student elections, the factional competition was strong but held in a civil discourse. Of 51 seats, the block affiliated with Fateh got 24 seats and that with Hamas 22 seats (last year it was 25 and 19). It shows that among the youth and in this rather progressive school, these two parties remain with strong support despite their leadership not getting us any closer to freedom. But it also emphasized that no truly national discourse of liberation could be achieved by either of those two groups alone or in competition using their current political platforms and mechanisms. It emphasized the need to reconciliation and agreement but more important for a reevaluation of the discourse taken by these groups since 1988 (the founding of Hamas and the Fateh-led effort to implement a two-state solution along the 1967 borders). Twenty years forward we are in far worse shape than what we were in 1987. There are now 450,000 colonial settlers in the West Bank and Israel accelerated its relentless plan to ethnically cleanse Palestine of its native people and Judaicize the whole country (including East Jerusalem). While Israel destroyed 3000 homes in Gaza in 3 weeks of bombardment, it plans to finish destroying that number of homes in Jerusalem in two months. It is thus not a matter of left-right or religious-secular differences that matter, but a fateful future of what remains of Palestinians in Palestine after 61 years of relentless onslaught. Yes, we have had a bad deal and conspiracies from the International community (who can forget Balfour, Syjkkes-Picot, the US funding and shielding of apartheid Israel etc) and a bad deal and conspiracies from Arab countries (far too long to list here). But we also have to look in the mirror and I am not just talking here about the factions (Hamas, Fateh, left wing parties) but also as people. I sometimes look at the scarring of Palestine with colonial settlements everywhere growing like a cancer and feel tears rolling down my cheek and the need to personally apologize.
Political Zionism indeed was a racist colonial system with lots of internal support. But it was aided and abetted by many, many people and facilitated by the silence and indifference of millions. We have all let the Holy Land down by not rising to the challenges. All of us were tested: the native people (Palestinian Jews, Christians, and Muslims) and people internationally (and not just politicians). If some higher power was grading our performances would we get an F, a D, or a C- for most of us. Some have done better than expected and certainly thousands paid the ultimate price (deserve an A+). And my research in the past few months revealed that resistance (most of it civil) did make a huge difference (without such principled resistance, the more ambitious Zionist goals of the Nile to Euphrates would be far closer). But it is fair to ask the questions and demand that we collectively sit down TOGETHER and plan and act to change. In other words to do better. Some are now talking about Fateh going back to its founding documents about a democratic state for all its people (and thus accept that the Oslo discourse failed). Some are urging Hamas to reeducate its cadres about the diverse nature of Palestinian society (yes including the presence of Jews and Christians in Palestine) and thus assure skeptics that its ideology is the Islam of pluralistic Spain (AlAndalus) and not the narrow visions of other models that lead only to strife and civil war (e.g. in Taliban Afghanistan). And yes, there are decent Israeli Jews who must feel that there is something in it for them in this transformation. By taking those steps, we can come closer to the only possible long term scenario for a durable peace: one pluralistic democratic state in all of Palestine for all its people. But whether one agrees or disagrees, the time is right to reevaluate, reflect and CHANGE when the status quo becomes intolerable and self-destructive. As individuals we must speak out whether we belong to political camps or we don’t (independent) and more importantly we must act. We can make a difference if we act on our conscience: Wala Yughayir Allah Ma Biqawmen 7atta Yughayuri ma bianfusihim (God does not change what is to happen to a people unless they change what is within themselves). What would Palestine want each of us to do? I am sure these discussions are going on (we had one here in Bethlehem tonight and it was very thought-provoking and involved over 30 people of various political backgrounds). Let us build on them.
Action: Sign Petition that “We want the Pope to go to Gaza” and write letters to editor and to the Vatican insisting that this is the right thing to do. http://www.petitiononline.com/popegaza/petition.html
email the Pope firstname.lastname@example.org
Find all Vatican Emails: http://www.tldm.org/email/vatican_emails.htm
The quentessential Palestinian Experience By Laila El-Haddad, Live from Palestine, 14 April 2009 "For this is what the Palestinian does: we wait. For an answer to be given, for a question to be asked ... for exile to a better place and for return to the only place that knows us ..." Laila El-Haddad writes about her deportation from Egypt while attempting to go home to Gaza.
Laila’s blog is at http://twitter.com/gazamom
April 17 is Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, usually marked with sit-in tents, protests and solidarity actions both here and around the world in support of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. http://www.miftah.org/Display.cfm?DocId=19360&CategoryId=3
Birthright unplugged summer trip and BDS institution: Please download application at http://www.birthrightunplugged.org/unplugged/application and email it to email@example.com it by May 1, 2009.
14 April 2009
Trying to maintain sanity here in this mad house of Israeli apartheid is not easy. Gaza has dropped off the world news because the slaughter rate is no longer 50 civilians per day but only the weak and sick are starving and dying under siege. When Gaza is mentioned it is in a different context (like the Hizballah operative who was trying to help the resistance in Gaza through Egyptian territory and is causing a diplomatic row with ripples across the Middle East). But the International media is not focused on the endless suffering either in the occupied Gaza strip or the West Bank (including East Jerusalem). Israel continues its assault on the natives everywhere (inclduing bedouins in the Negev and villagers in teh Galilee). The policy has not changed with change of governments or presidents: Zionists build Jewish infrastructure and towns with one hand and with the other demolish existing life and livelihood of native people. Two families were evicted today in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Arab East Jerusalem in a never ending quest to judaicize the city. Three days ago soldiers came and stole building material and a container at a worksite for the municipality of Beit Sahour (in Ush Ghrab) and reiterated a demolition order for the children playground. We the native/indigenous people try to cope/adapt and yes resist in various ways. This is true whether in isolated villages that lost most of their agricultural lands or in overcrowded ghettos of places like Bethlehem and Nablus (where village people and other refugees poured in after they lost their lands) or in exile and refugee camps in diaspora. Resistance is done sporadically in some places like Bilin, Nilin, AlWalaja, and Gaza. But it is a spark and a light in the heart of every Palestinian and person of conscience in this world. A spark that may weaken sometimes but can erupt into a brilliant flame. Resistance came in waves of uprisings every few years (renewed by a new younger generations, most of it civil resistance): 1891, 1902, 1921, 1929, 1936, 1956, 1970, 1979, 1987, 2000. Resistance is also maintaining humanity and a semi-normal life in abnormal oppressive circumstances. By going to school, by eating, by drinking, by having weddings, by delivering babies, by trading, by praying, by hoping, dreaming, cursing, loving, … These days we celebrate Easter here. Resurrection of Jesus Christ and thsi gives us hope of Palestine and life rising like teh phoenix out of the ashes. And it will, nay it must, happen. Just come to Palestine and see it and live it. We had the first biotechnology conference in Palestine with amazingly good research papers presented and an attendance of 120 scientists (http://campus.bethlehem.edu/events/biotech_conf_prog.shtml ). I see bright inquisitiveness in student eyes at universities and schools. To be inspired, please browse through these photos by the youth "Who Am I? Palestine through Palestinian eyes" (from the program Images for Life at AlRowwad Center, Aida refugee camp). Around 20 young photographers participated
(you may consider inviting the exihibit of photos to your area in Europe or North America, simply fantastic).
As it is Spring here, the lemon and orange blossoms give a fragrance in the air that is truly uplifting. Young plants are everywhere. Butterflies, insects and (in the few remaining water wells) frogs. Even the desert is blooming. Here are pictures taken by my wife on a trip to Birzeit and in the desert wilderness of Mar (Saint) Saba Monastery on an educational trip with a group of tourism students
In Al-Walaja village northwest of Bethlehem, several natural springs were confiscated and made off limits to the village. Only one well still remains accessible to them. Even here when we visited last week, settlers were everywhere having “picnics” and one told us that the water pool will be drained and the water utilized through pipes for Jewish colonies. I was looking for frogs and I am doing a study on frogs in Palestine. Already one of the five species of frogs in teh Holy Land became extinct because of the Jewish Zionist development (destruction of its habitats in Mamilla pools in Jerusalem). Nature suffers as much as native people (all are endangered). Please intensify your work for justice, come visit us in Palestine, and speak out despite the attempts to silence (some failing some succeeding, see below). We act because it is right to act and we can live comfortably in our own skin.
Action: McCarthyism in America on the rise. The misnamed Anti-Defamation League (it is actually a defamation league) tried to get Michigan State University to cancel the invitation for Archbishop Desmond Tutu as a commencement keynote speaker. Thankfully they failed. On the other hand, Prof. Norman Finkelstein is a meticulous scholar of history and
barred from speaking at Clark University
Please put a comment at the bottom of the article above and send a polite but blunt letter to the President at firstname.lastname@example.org and letters to the local newspaper email@example.com Worcester Telegram and Gazette
Action: Canadian filmmaker John Greyson turns down offer to premiere at the Tel Aviv LGBT film festival "The Israeli apartheid forum this week, and particularly Naomi Klein’s speech, helped clarify my thoughts. Her words took me back to the BDS movement of the eighties, against South African apartheid, and the first 16mm film I ever made, which was in support of that struggle" Write to thank him at firstname.lastname@example.org
And two articles worth reading.
Salim Vally: The campaign to isolate apartheid Israel -- lessons from South
Hazem Jamjoum: Not an Analogy: Israel and the Crime of Apartheid.
10 April 2009
An Open Letter from Jewish Peace Activists: Jews from around the world write to support Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/21016
Op-Ed by Palestinian member of Israeli Knesset
A Harsh Reality for Palestinians
Action 1: Amnesty asks us to write to protest US delivery of weapons to war crime perpetrators in Israel
Action 2: Tell the pope and Vatican officials: he si not welcome in the Holy Landf unless he visits Gaza
Youtubes to the Pope (speak direct to the Pope)
EMAIL THE POPE: email@example.com
Find all Vatican Emails: http://www.tldm.org/email/vatican_emails.htm
Petition to be signed at: http://www.petitiononline.com/popegaza/petition.html
Action 3: Donate for medical expenses of Tristan Anderson
Action 4: Go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/ Fill in the form and enter a simple message to Barack Obama
In my last message I briefly mentioned rumors I heard about two possible reasons for the firing of Dr. Afif Safieh (a longtime Fateh activist and previous PLO representative to the Vatican, to England, to the US and most lately to Russia). Many people here stated to me that it is a political and not personal issue. I have not posted rumors before and what I should have done instead is different. I did say I do not know why a highly respected diplomat was fired (and still don't). Thus, it is worthwhile for those of us who are concerned (and not interested in rumors) to write to Mahmoud Abbas directly and ask. His fax number is: 011 972 22 969 740 (in the US, people may fax the head of the PLO mission Dr. Nabil Abuznaid at 202-974-6278).
I still believe that we have very few qualified diplomats representing us abroad and Safieh was one of the better voices. I have heard Safieh speak many times in the US including twice when we invited him to Connecticut; he honestly defended Fateh and honestly defended the Palestinian cause and basic human rights for everyone. I disagreed with him on his support of the two-state solution. Please take two minutes to watch this Video on fragmentation in the West Bank http://www.afsc.org/mideast
and then take one minute to see the remaining archepelagos (cluster of Islands) left for Palestinians in the West Bank (an amazing figure)
It becomes clear. For other issues as to why a two-state solution will never happen, see my book "Sharing the Land of Canaan". But whether one supports one or two states or confederation or whatever, all should (as Safieh did) speak honestly about basic violations of fundamental human rights and international law and not just talk vaguely about a desire for peace.
In other arenas, many of us here in Palestine are again disappointed that the Arab league met this week and came up with not one concrete action (yet plenty of rhetoric) to stem the Zionist colonization in Palestine, to lift the brutal siege on Gaza, to unify Arab ranks behind practical ways to improve the lots of people in these 22 countries (whose inter-Arab trade languishes at 10% for two decades vs inter-Asian trade which climbed to 40% and still going), or any other meaningful gesture. The amusement factor of Qaddafi's antiqs was the only unpredictable. I kept wishing for one Arab leader to break the mold and simply admit making mistakes and ask his people to come forward and work with him (not under him) to fix the problems and face the daunting challenges ahead. How many of us are ready to lay their lives down for such an honest leader, a real leader (leading by example)!
I disagreed with my friend the Late Professor Edward Said on many things but he was able to articulate some quite profound statements. Here is what he said in 2003 and that would fit perfectly here:
"there is a very wide discrepancy today between our cultures and societies and the small group of people who now rule these societies. Rarely in history has such power been so concentrated in so tiny a group as the various kings, generals, sultans, and presidents who preside today over the Arabs. The worst thing about them as a group, almost without exception, is that they do not represent the best of their people. This is not just a matter of no democracy. It is that they seem to radically underestimate themselves and their people in ways that close them off, that make them intolerant and fearful of change, frightened of opening up their societies to their people, terrified most of all that they might anger big brother, that is, the United States. Instead of seeing their citizens as the potential wealth of the nation, they regard them all as guilty conspirators vying for the ruler's power."
Yet, Edward Said was the consummate optimist. Here is an example also from 2003:
"It may seem quixotic for me to say that even if the immediate prospects are grim from a Palestinian perspective, they are not all dark. I return to the stubbornness I mentioned, and the fact that Palestinian society – devastated, nearly ruined, desolate in so many ways – is, like Hardy’s thrush in its blast-beruffled plume, still capable of flinging its soul upon the growing gloom. No other Arab society is as rambunctious and healthily unruly, and none is fuller of civic and social initiatives and functioning institutions (including a miraculously vital musical conservatory). Even though they are mostly unorganised and in some cases lead miserable lives of exile and statelessness, diaspora Palestinians are still energetically engaged by the problems of their collective destiny, and all those I know are always trying somehow to advance the cause. Only a minuscule fraction of this energy has ever found its way into the Palestinian Authority, which except for the highly ambivalent figure of Arafat has remained strangely marginal to the common fate. According to recent polls, Fatah and Hamas between them have the support of roughly 45 per cent of the Palestinian electorate, with the remaining 55 per cent evolving quite different, much more hopeful-looking political formations."
We may disagree on what these "more hopeful-looking political formations" (I personally hope they come from the younger generations of existing political formations). But first there has to be the breathing space for such rejuvenation of Palestinian polity. In the meantime, there is now ample evidence (even from Israeli soldiers themselves as well as Israeli and International Human Rights Organizations) that Israel committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch also issued unprecedented statements*. Should we not all push our current leaders, the media, and decision makers to take the needed steps to capitalize on that and bring the criminals finally to justice? Should we not speak our minds and hearts? Isn't 61 years of oppression enough?
Attempts will always be made to silence free speech, introduce fear and pressure to suppress activism, enhance economic slavery (e.g. with world bank supported plans for 14 industrial zones to employ cheap Palestinian labor while profiting the occupation and few Palestinian elites), and stifle the growing boycotts, divestments, and sanctions movements (see bdsmovement.net). Yet, "Cowardice asks the question - is it safe? Expediency asks the question - is it politic? Vanity asks the question - is it popular? But conscience asks the question - is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right." Martin Luther King, Jr.
I am hopeful because I see the spirit of the young and old activists here and around the world who are doing what is right. I saw it just today as I attended a play called "Handala" by AlRowwad Children's Theater (from Aida Refugee Camp). In honoring Naji Al Ali and his cartoon main character Handala, the play focused on this as the character of hope. Handala is always the young 10 year old poor kid, defiantly holding his hands behind his back while observing and looking back. While he sees the follies of weak political leaders, he also sees and embodies the strength of a people.. defiant, stubborn, brave, simple, honest. And thus Handala embodies eternal hope: the hope of liberation, the hope of return, the hope of leaders and others seeing what is right, the hope of dignity overcoming political convenience, etc. There are millions of Handalas among Palestinians everywhere (12,000 languising in Israeli jails, millions under occupation, millions mobilizing in the diaspora (some waiting for leadership).
The most important question each of us will have to answer is the one all ask at our deathbeds....did we do what is right.
*See Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch reports on the indiscriminate use of white phosphorus in Gaza
Human Rights Watch Report
or more analysis of IDF use of white phosphorus and witness accounts, please see: http://www.hrw.org/node/81823
29 March 2009
Today was Land Day in Palestine and around the world. Hundreds of events were being held in honor of our Land that so many tresspassers now live on. The first land day in 1976 set a trend of defiance and resistance which different people mark differently. Demonstrators in Hebron were attacked by the IOF (Israeli occupation forces). Here in Beit Sahour, I could not think of a better way to honor this day than having a workshop on activism for university students and enjoying mmy own small piece of land here in Palestine. We are also pleased with the rapid fire spread of boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) around the world which will bring a more rapid end to the nightmare and bring us closer to freedom.
Events and energy lift our spirits that otherwise could be dampened by surreal daily life here. Things changed over time as colonization got older and Zionism strengthened politically while Palestinian body politic was weakened with assaults from Israeli intelligence infiltration and from internal corruption. The degree of transformation has been massive. Today 7 million of the 10 million+ Palestinians in the world are refugees or displaced people. Five million of us still live within the borders of historic Palestine. But Israel has built a massive (yet full of contradictions and strangeness) Western-styled society on top of the few places left for us. Most Israelis today do not know the real history of the lands they live under. Most do not have a conception of the massive injustice that they have built their society upon and those that do delude themselves into accepting it for privilege short term (not realizing the harm long term).
In this week’s message, announcements of two conferences and must read articles on reality:
More material on my daily blog ioncluding visiting villages impacted by Israeli industrial colonial settlements http://www.qumsiyeh.org/apartheidblog/
Conference 1: United Against Racism, Dignity & Justice for All - is the slogan of the United Nations' Durban Review Conference to be held in Geneva between 20 and 24 April 2009.
United Against Apartheid, Colonialism and Occupation, Dignity & Justice for the Palestinian People - is the slogan of those who believe that international law can and should become relevant for the people and governments in the Middle East The Israel Review Conference will take place in Geneva on 18 – 19 April, two days before the United Nations' Durban Review Conference
(http://www.un.org/durbanreview2009/) will examine the progress made in implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) adopted by the World Conference Against Racism (2001) and strengthen its recommendations. see http://israelreview.bdsmovement.net
Conference 2: Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem annual Young Adult Conference this year, July 22- August 2
An invention called “the Jewish people” Tom Segev reviews a bestseller book
Boycott Apartheid Israel By Natalie Abou Shakra - Gaza
“I am in the struggle, I am living within it. But, I refuse to be subject, I am individual, I keep reminding myself. This reality creates an affect on a person making him or her feel less valuable than they really are… as humans, as citizens. The feeling that the world has abandoned you, renounced you, after all the loss, all the pain, is unbearable, is another death by itself. When one has lost a child, or a mother, or beloved one, to a sniper’s shots, to an Apaches’ impact, how could that be justified? Then, in watching the news broadcasts all over the world, we see the victims portrayed as aggressors… it doubles the pain.”…
Lieberman is no abnormality
The Human Rights Watch report, “Rain of Fire: Israel’s Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza,” is available at: http://www.hrw.org/node/81760
For more analysis of IDF use of white phosphorus and witness accounts, please see: http://www.hrw.org/node/81823
Buying Palestinian Rights by Dr. Abdul Sattar Qasem
22 March 2009
Role of Palestinians in Diaspora: Palestinian activism in the US
Published in Arabic in Haq Al-Awda Magazine, Vol 31, Feb 2009
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Link for Arabic version http://www.badil.org/Arabic-Web/haq-alawda/articles07.htm
Link for English version http://qumsiyeh.org/palestinianactivismintheus
In my blog on the website for the past few days: our curiosity about an isolated Palestinian village meant a run-in with Israeli soldiers, link to an Arabic list of all the victims of the three week attack on Gaza and their background (majority are civilian), conference on future of the Palestinian family in AlBireh, Obama’s patronizing statement on Iran, a day of rest, children returning from school help uplift a spirit, and more. To read the daily blog, go to
Action: Write to Jason Kenney, Canada's Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism: to object to his banning of peace activist and British MP George Galloway from going to Canada when Canada allows Israeli war criminals on its soil firstname.lastname@example.org
Action: Petition to the pope to visit Gaza
Inspiring: Bilin, 4 years of nonviolent struggle (produced by International Middle East Media Center, http://www.imemc.org/, your financial support would be appreciated)
Israel tries desperately to quell Arab cultural celebrations in Jerusalem http://www.imemc.org/article/59520 while continuing its drive to empty the city of its non-Jewish population (see B’Tselem summary
“An army whose armored corps has yet to encounter an enemy tank and whose pilots have yet to face an enemy combat jet in 36 years has been trained to think that the only function of a tank is to crush civilian cars and that a pilot's job is to bomb residential neighborhoods. To do this without any unnecessary moral qualms we have trained our soldiers to think that the lives and property of Palestinians have no value whatsoever. It is part of a process of dehumanization that has endured for dozens of years, the fruits of the occupation.”
and Israeli soldiers say army rabbis framed Gaza as religious war http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/64518.html#comments
and Physicians for Human Rights reported on deliberate attacks on clinics, hospital and medical personnel.
The Lobby Falters by John Mearsheimer, London Review of Books - Thursday 26th March 2009 http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n06/mear01_.html
16 March 2009
The Palestine Center for Human Rights just reported that Israeli occupation forces in 3 weeks in Gaza killed 1,434 Palestinians: 235 resistance fighters, 239 police, 960 civilians (over 1/3rd children). Also it injured thousands (many with permanant disabilities). This 7 minute video is worth watching.
Tell me why: For the children of Gaza video by Rob Camp Fuoco
Today, Monday 16 March 2009 is the 6th anniversary of the murder of Rachel Corrie whose main concern since she was a child was the fate of the children of the world. Her killers were never brought to justice. Perhaps it would be wise to quote some of her words (here in different languages):
And then Take action on this important anniversary
More on the deliberate attack on US citizen Tristan Anderson by Israeli occupation forces this last Friday. Also include quotes from his Jewish girlfriend.
Video immediately after http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3NmAc2BwtI
Podcast Interview, the Struggle TV News interview with me on the injury of Tristan
(If you can't hear it by clicking on it, then right click on it and "Save Target As" and open it with Media Player)
Video Example of a wonderful boycott action in France (don't worry if you don't understand French, you will know what is going on)
Let us do more like this
Message from Charles Freeman who withdrew his acceptance of Obama's offer of a key position on national intelligence after being attacked by the Israel lobby
14 March 2009
A good friend of ours, Tristan Anderson (US Citizen) was critically injured yesterday (Friday) and is in intensive care. Other friends there reported that the Israeli soldiers were not in any danger when they fired new kinds of projectiles and other weaponry. Tristan was actually to the side and was hit while standing and observing the attack by the Israeli soldiers on the Palestinian and International nonviolent and unarmed demonstrators. So far in the last 9 years over 6000 Palestinians and several Internationals were murdered by Israeli occupation forces (including a 23 year old American student Rachel Corrie). Ofcourse none of the killers will be brought to justice because they are occupation soldiers “doing their duty” (to colonize, murder and oppress). This week an Israeli court acquitted an Israeli French settler after he repeatedly stabbed a Palestinian taxi driver (24 y.o. Tayseer Karaki) to death. The court claimed he was not guilty by reason of insanity despite the fact that even Israeli psychiatry experts who examined him after the incident ruled him sane and fit for trial. None of the 12-13,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails could claim the insanity defense because after 60 years of colonial occupation, apartheid and slavery and massacres, we are all very sane!
Action: Let us test if the new US State Department is more open to human rights than the old fascist state Department. Email them your thoughts. This link will take you to the state Department comment page
Irony of the week:
Moshe Katsav, the Israeli ex-president who is now charged with rape once said:
"There is a huge gap between us and our enemies not just in ability but in morality, culture, sanctity of life, and conscience. They are our neighbors here, but it seems as if at a distance of a few hundred meters away, there are people who do not belong to our continent, to our world, but actually belong to a different galaxy."(Israeli president Moshe Katsav. The Jerusalem Post, May 10, 2001)
He is not the first or last Zionist leader to make racist statements about Palestinians. We have thus seen claims ranging from Palestinians hate Jews ("more than they love their own children") to describing us as "nonexistant" or as "cockroaches" or "crocodiles" or "beasts". This is not unusual for colonial powers (native Americans for example were described in similar terms). It is also interesting in many cases for racist to project their actions and psychological ills (racism, bigotry, lack of moral fibers) on their victims. Hence AFTER Palestinians were literally pushed into the sea (ending up in refugee camps in Gaza and Lebanon etc), we sayw the devopment of the propaganda that we are the ones who wanted to "push Jews into the sea". And now, today we see calculated 101 ways of transferring Palestinians out of Jerusalem and make it a Jewish city. It is just another step in transforming a multiethnic multireligious society to a racist Zionist construct that contradicts all norms of humanity (including international law).
The prophetic voice of the Mahatma Gandhi comes to mind:
"Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and in-human to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct. The mandates have no sanction but that of the last war. Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home. The nobler course would be to insist on a just treatment of the Jews wherever they are born and bred. The Jews born in France are French in precisely the same sense that Christians born in France are French. If the Jews have no home but Palestine, will they relish the idea of being forced to leave the other parts of the world in which they are settled? Or do they want a double home where they can remain at will? This cry for the national home affords a colourable justification for the German expulsion of the Jews.....And now a word to the Jews in Palestine. I have no doubt that they are going about it the wrong way. The Palestine of the Biblical conception is not a geographical tract. It is in their hearts. But if they must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs. They should seek to convert the Arab heart...." Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi (November 1938)
Action is the best antidote to despair. Action is the best tool for a healthy living in unjust circumstances
Action reminder: Use the excellent series of articles which appeared in the Lancet (jurnal read by hundreds of thousands of physicians around the world) on health in the occupied Palestinian territories. Send articles to media, journalists, politicians, doctors, healthcare professionals and demand we treat Israel like we treated apartheid South Africa (with boycotts, divestments and sanctions)
(you may need to register free to access the papers first time)
BTW, there was a conference Thursday at Birzeit University with many of the authors of this series of articles and some of the editors including the Lancet Editor. It was wonderful.
11 March 2009
Below is a listing of excellent opportunities to visit Palestine where everyday here brings an experience that lasts a lifetime and in totality makes for a positive change in our life. Connecting us with our humanity while having fun is the true definition of the Buddhist mantra "having joyful participation in the sorrows of this world". Here is where we feel fully alive and fully connected with the best parts of ourselves. Come visit us. Here are videos to give you a preview of these trips
Please read the material below and come to Palestine... Now is the time, Palestine is the place
Palestine is the place to visit, learn, share, and be a witness
The Palestinian Summer Celebration 2009
14 June 2009 – 16 August 2009
June 14th – July 12th 2009 (first month)
July 13th – August 16th 2009 (second month)
Come and celebrate Palestine! The Palestinian Summer Celebration is a unique annual program that gives people from all over the world the chance to encounter the life, culture, and politics of Palestine. Learn Arabic and study Palestinian history at Bethlehem University, spend time with local families and volunteer with a community organization.
The Palestinian Summer Celebration 2009 will take place in Bethlehem from June 14th to August 16th. The program consists of two terms: June 14th to July 12th, and July 13th to August 16th. Program participants can choose to stay for one or both terms. The celebration is organized by Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies in partnership with Bethlehem University (www.bethlehem.edu) and the U.S.-based Society for Biblical Studies (www.sbsedu.org). Program participants will have the opportunity to meet and learn with accomplished speakers, experts, activists, and officials. http://www.sirajcenter.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=16&Itemid=1
For more information please visit: http://www.sirajcenter.org
The Nativity Trail 2009
There is still some places available for the April 2009 Walk
Proudly Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies and the Alternative Tourism group (ATG) announce re inaugurating the Nativity Trail, from Nazareth to Bethlehem in 2009.
Now, 2000 years later, the modern-day city of Bethlehem - home of the Millennium - invites you to make a symbolic and historic journey by walking Palestine's Nativity Trail.
The carefully researched route-a 11-day journey is the first leg of the new Palestine Trail.
Meeting the People Walking the Nativity Trail will be an opportunity to meet a diverse range of people: Franciscan priests on Mount Tabor, Muslim clerics at village mosques, Greek Orthodox monks in desert monasteries, hillside farmers
and their families, small-town shopkeepers and craftspeople, Bedouin shepherds watering their flocks at ancient cisterns, and many more interesting people.
The Nativity Trail is an opportunity to understand the Geopolitical situation in the Holy land by observing it while walking through the valleys and mountains of Palestine. It give participants the chance to have a first hand
experience of the situation on the ground.
The Nativity trial, not just a journey, it is a journey of dialogue, openness and interaction with new people.
Participants will be able to understand the flora and Fauna of Palestine and the Bible, and will be able to embrace the culture that lasted in Palestine for thousands of years.
23 Apr 2009 until 04 May 2009
08 Oct 2009 until 19 Oct 2009
29 Oct 2009 until 09 Nov 2009
12 Nov 2009 until 23 Nov 2009
13 Dec 2009 until 24 Dec 2009
For more information about the Nativity Trail please visit our website:
8 March 2009
Driving from Beit Sahour to Birzeit yesterday, I was listening to a program on radio Falastin titled “Wala Budda LilQayd An Yankasir”. The term is a verse from a poem that roughly translates that “the chain is destined to be broken”. The program is a lifeline for the nearly 13,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails to hear from their families outside the prison walls. Since visitation rights are routinely denied or highly restricted, family members call in and have three minutes to say something on air. For those prisoners who have access to radio, it is a way to hear and connect with their loved ones. I listened for nearly one hour to impassioned messages and harrowing stories. All the voices I heard were of women. One woman started her message by saluting women prisoners on International women’s day and specifically mentioned one leading prisoner, a friend of hers whom she shared a prison room with the year before. She went on to encourage all prisoners to be steadfast. Then she directed her message to her husband, still in prison. Saying encouraging words “I know you are strong and you can withstand what they do you” “I believe in your spirit yearning for freedom and justice” etc. She states that she is sorry that she is unable to visit this time because the authorities told her that it was a Jewish Holiday of some sort so visits are stopped for this week. Another woman started with questions that will get no answers perhaps until the next personal encounter: “How is your health?” “How is your spirit?” “How are they treating you?” “Are you eating well?”. She then put her five-year-old child on the phone who said “I miss you daddy,” and “don’t worry, my mom puts on her seat belt and drives slowly.” Another women tells her husband to not worry about the family, they are all doing fine and to just take care of himself then passes the phone to her mother-in-law who tells her son something along these lines: “How are you my son Mahmoud? Inshallah (God Willing) your health is good. Inshallah your spirit is good. Inshallah you will be returned to us safe and sound. Your father’s funeral went well. Everyone in town came. He died 15 minutes before I arrived back home… (here she breaks down crying and the announcer gently encourages her and says “Allah yirhamu” “Allah Yi3azzeekum” etc and then she continues).. He died 15 minutes before I arrived home from visiting you. Everyone was there everyone took care of him. I pray to God every day to bring you back to me. I had you and your father. I need you my son. I miss you my son….”
That call made me cry and I turned the radio off for a few minutes as I gathered my thoughts. But I turned it back on to hear a few more. They are young women, old women, and a daughter of 10 who spoke with more poise and articulation than most adults and recited a poem that she had written.
On the way back from my university course I am a bit more relaxed and enjoying the beautiful green countryside between Ramallah and Birzeit. The Palestinian villages unobtrusively on the sides of hills with green fields stretching before them (a friend said to me it reminded him of the Irish countryside at this time of year). I try not to think of the settlements on top of the hills and the slow cancerous growth of these. But I notice I am running on close to empty tank of gas and I need to find a gas station. All the gas stations along the main roads in the West bank are Israeli (Colonial settlements dot the landscape and Palestinians have been herded into concentration camps called areas A and B while most of the West Bank is area C being Judaized). I enter the first Gas station in front of the colony of Ofra and while the lights are on, no one is there. Iconsider what conversation might have ensued with an attendant at such a gas station. I move on and try the gas station near next colony (Shaar Binyamin) but when I entered the gas station and found it also closed, it dawns on me that it is Saturday and that is why they are closed. Then two fears ran through my mind that caused me to sweat: What if I run out of gas near a settlement on a Jewish religious holiday whn those settlers think we should not be driving? And even worse, what if the soldiers in the towers or security people at the gates of these settlements see this Palestinian car making a turn in an empty gas station? With known hair-trigger fingers they could simply shoot and ask questions later (as they do before). I immediately detour through an Israeli checkpoint into an area A and barely get to (sputtering) a Palestinian gas station. Then I arrive home exhausted and a bit disturbed. But it was good to get home to my family and two Jewish friends (Allison and Michael) who were visiting us. After a late dinner, we meet up with more friends; internationals attending a talk on boycotts, divestments, and sanctions at the Alternative Information Center.
Today Sunday, we are uplifted by the garden, seeing the new flowers of the lemon trees while harvesting the remaining batch of lemons of the last growth, the small new fig leaves emerging, the beginning of the almonds, the vegetables that are starting to take off (beans, spinach, sunflower seedlings). If the weather predictions are correct, we have one more large rain fall this week and this would make this winter an average one (as opposed to really dry winters the last two years). So farmers (and small home gardeners like us) are encouraged. I only wish we could travel to Jerusalem today/sunday (Palestinians like us are barred) to join the demonstration at 2 PM in front of the UNRWA school in Silwan in appreciation of women's day and to show solidarity with the people of East Jerusalem (including Silwan) whose homes are being demolished in the continuing program of ethnic cleansing and changing the character of the ancient city. That school is also the school in which some students were injured when the floor caved in because Israel is digging tunnels underneath the remaining Palestinian areas in Jerusalem. But there are other events in the Bethlehem area.
In good news, the Viva Palastina convoy (120 cars and vans etc from Europe) is near Al-Arish and we hope it will be allowed into Gaza. In other good news, Mauritania closed the Israeli (apartheid) Embassy and hundreds of protesters battled authorities using tear gas in Sweden at the Davis Cup tennis competition where Israeli athletes were scheduled to participate. Today marked the end of the 5th Israeli apartheid week held this year in over 40 cities around the world and I am sure next year it will be held in 100+ cities. The scenes everywhere around the world are becoming reminiscent of 1980s era of struggle against South African apartheid.
Muslim friends around the world celebrate Mawlad AnNabi (the birthday of prophet Muhammad, PBUH). May it come to us next year with us closer to peace and justice in Palestine and around the world.
Video: 60 minutes amazing video of life in Palestine
Excellent series of articles
appeared in the Lancet (British Medical Journal) on health in the occupied Palestinian territories (you may need to register free to access the papers first time)
You may want to read those and send them to medical professionals around the world and maybe send a thank you note to email@example.com
27 Feb 2009
Readers asked about how to write to thank the President of the UN General Assembly for identifying the etiology of our problems as apartheid. Here is the link http://www.un.org/ga/president/63/contactus.asp
Yesterday we had dinner with a family from the old city of Jerusalem who visited us here in Beit Sahour. They can visit us (for now), but we can’t visit them. They explained how the Israeli authorities have been increasing the pressures to empty Jerusalem of its non-Jewish residents through a myriad of regulations, laws, harassment, attempts to buy them out and far more. For example regulations make it impossible for native Palestinian to build or improve anything in their homes but Israel issues thousands of building permits for Jews in Arab East Jerusalem (annexed illegally by Israel contrary to International law). There are even neighborhoods in the old city that cannot get visitors from other parts of the city (their own relatives even) and are essentially living in prison like conditions. The Palestinians and all International and Israeli human rights groups are now frantically trying to prevent the demolition of homes that house over 1500 Palestinians in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. The Israeli authorities laid their hands on buildings in the old city and confiscated lands near the old city and built colonial settlement outposts throughout Arab East Jerusalem. These scattered colonial settlements are now being “connected” via underground tunnels under Arab owned houses or directly above ground by demolishing these houses. The rest of the occupied West Bank is also similarly effected. For an example of how Israel’s “master plans of development” are really master plans of ethnic cleansing, read this report http://www.poica.org/editor/case_studies/view.php?recordID=1679
(warning: this will make you angry)
But it is not just humans that are the victims of Zionist masterplans. Nature is also. With a huge network of military bases, industrial zones, new infrastructure (for Jewish settlers so as not to use or improve Palestinian roads), massive apartheid walls, and disregard for environmental protection, the West Bank has become an environmental disaster area. The loss of village lands (to land confiscation, walls,, etc) around Bethlehem area for example made many villagers come live in Bethlehem which makes it a very crowded area and there are few open areas (some of which receive sewage and trash from Jewish settlements). The extent of the environmental damage is more noticeable to me as a biologist.
I know this since I studied animals here for three decades and places that I used to be able to catch and study many animals representing many species now yield nothing or at best one or two lonely animals of one ubiquitous species. The toads in the valley near my house are all gone (an early spring sound and image that remains only in my memory). The Israeli water authority steals West Bank water and gives it subsidized to settlers while selling it to us the natives. Even they just reported increased pollutants that make the water from several springs not fit for human consumption (I would not be surprised if they now decide to segregate waters: safe for settlers, polluted for native Palestinians).
The racist destruction is going on here relentlessly and methodically of anything that is not Jewish. It is hard to describe the extent of the damage to someone from outside via email. You really have to visit and witness and see for yourself. The results of the recent Israeli elections merely consolidate and accelerate the inevitable. Those who enable this rogue state to continue doing what it is doing are like those who enable drug/alcohol addicts by supplying them with what they need to continue their self-destructive habits. The Zionist movement is frantically trying to attack the Durban II conference (to be held in Geneva) and ask the Obama administration to apply more pressure to stop this conference from issuing an even milder version of the document of the meeting released in Durban seven years ago about Israeli racism (the US here is the enabler). I found it amazing that according to Haaretz “Senior State Department officials contacted Israeli diplomats and asked them to take swift action to block the Durban initiative.” http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1064159.html. These unnamed officials are people like Dennis Ross who worked for the Israeli lobby before working for the state Department. Would this not be considered treason in any other country to put yourself at the services of a foreign country than your own country and your own employer? Ofcourse Israel is not only a racist state but is a uniquely racist state (see http://www.qumsiyeh.org/isisraelunique/).
History will not be kind to this movement. History will also not be kind to those who were silent and did not act.
Action reminder: Join the Global BDS Action Day, March 30th! (launched at the WSF 2009 in Belém) http://www.bdsmovement.net/?q=node/314
Action: Sign petition to call upon the UN General Assembly to create a special international tribunal to try Israel, its political and military leaders, for such crimes in violation of international law, human rights law and international humanitarian law in the Palestinian Occupied Territory of which they may be charged.
To the President of the State of Israel and the Director of the Yad Vashem Memorial: Remove Our Grandmother' s Name from the Wall at Yad Vashem By MICHAEL NEUMANN and OSHA NEUMANN
Gandhi by Ali Sina
There is no particular reason for this page to be here except that when I look at the picture of Gandhi I am filled with joy and a feeling of serenity surrounds me.
Sometimes when my heart aches because of the injustice that I witness in the world, when I lose my faith in humanity, feel lonely, battered and betrayed by my fellow humans for what they do to their fellow humans I look at Gandhi's face and I regain my faith. I know good exists. And I know that eventually good will prevail.
One day sun will shine, love will reign and there won't be any more injustice.
One day no one will shed tears for the loss of a loved one whose life was cut short because someone thought that his or her religion was not right.
One day no one will be humiliated or discriminated for having the wrong color of skin, wrong caste or wrong gender.
One day no woman will be beaten, stoned, raped or killed to save someone's honor.
One day no one will be cruel to others, cheat them, hurt them or oppress them.
One day we will all feel the pain of each other as if we were members of one body.
Even though this may never happen, I want to believe that it will.
Even though it appears that injustice is the foundation of this universe, I want to believe that justice is.
Even though this may be a lie, I want to believe in this sweet little lie.
24 Feb 2009
First a part of a Statement of H.E. Father Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, President of the UN General Assembly, 57th plenary meeting on agenda item 16, The Question of Palestine
United Nations, New York, 24 November 2008 (excerpts):
I spoke this morning about apartheid and how Israeli policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories appear so similar to the apartheid of an earlier era, a continent away.
I believe it is very important that we in the United Nations use this term. We must not be afraid to call something what it is. It is the United Nations, after all, that passed the International Convention against the Crime of Apartheid, making clear to all the world that such practices of official discrimination must be outlawed wherever they occur.
We heard today from a representative of South African civil society. We know that all around the world, civil society organizations are working to defend Palestinian rights, and are trying to protect the Palestinian population that we, the United Nations, are failing to protect.
More than twenty years ago we in the United Nations took the lead from civil society when we agreed that sanctions were required to provide a nonviolent means of pressuring South Africa to end its violations. Today, perhaps we in the United Nations should consider following the lead of a new generation of civil society, who are calling for a similar non-violent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions to pressure Israel to end its violations.
Action 1: Everyone is encouraged to have Israel apartheid events March 1-8 (part of an international campaign) http://apartheidweek.org
Action 2: Boycott, divest, sanction: Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace sets up a data base of who profits from the occupatiobn http://www.whoprofits.org
Action 3: Carleton University banned a poster that they claim is offensive (a reality that happened hundreds of times in Palestine is depicted by this Carlos Latuff cartoon)
View the poster
Then email the Carleton University President, Roseanne Runte, at firstname.lastname@example.org demanding that she immediately restore the Charter rights of Carleton students and send a copy of your message of support to Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA Carleton) at email@example.com
Action 4: Amnesty International urges freeze on arms sales to Israel (write to them and thank them) http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1066231.html
Action 5: Donate to the Gaza University Reconstruction campaign. http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10308.shtml
Action 6: President Obama to Sanction Israel? Write to the US government (also protest the appointment of an Israeli lobbyist as senior adviser on Iran, Dennis Ross who worked for AIPAC offshoot WINEP)
21 Feb 2009
During the siege, time becomes a space
That has hardened in its eternity
During the siege, space becomes a time
That is late for its yesterday and tomorrow
(Mahmoud Darwish, A State of Siege)
It is sometimes really hard to even begin to describe our feelings living under brutal Israeli occupation and noting the indifference, complicity, and hypocrisy of so many people in Israel, in America, in Europe and elsewhere. Every day, the Israeli “system” violates dozens of the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Examples just in the past week include imposing a curfew on Jayyus village and terrorizing its population (this after confiscating most of its very rich agricultural lands), kidnapping of over 100 Palestinians in a spat of four days (to add to the 11,000 political prisoners held in Israeli torture cells), denial of right of movement, continued siege on Gaza strip, denial of rights of education, more land confiscation, pillaging a big portion of the humanitarian aid and much more. If I was to write details of these violations, many readers would stop reading very quickly. Visitors to this area think that Israel is doing these things “to defend itself” and sometimes may go overboard in “security measures.” Security measure that puts millions under a siege. This maddening description is like saying the Apartheid White South Africa or Nazi Germany in occupied Poland where acting in self defense and some-times they went a bit too far. Occupiers and colonizers do not have the right of self defense against the resistance of people who they occupy and colonize. International law is very clear on this. In fact if we want peace in this part of the world (which will mean peace elsewhere; e.g. see how Zionists pushed for an illegal US war on Iraq), then the first thing we have to do is aggressively and insistently (yet without malice) put the truth out and challenge all to be “neutral on a moving train” (?heading to a cliff).
Many people (including unfortunately many Palestinians) have become cynical of the direction of humanity. A direction driven more driven by narrow interests (individual, tribal, national) rather than enlightened self and common interests. But one can maintain healthy skepticism of actions and even cynicism while not succumbing to negativism. We should not and we must not lose our faith in humanity, our hopes, and our dreams. I see so many who do such wonderful work for common humanity and for real peace based on justice (not fake “peace processes” intended to pacify natives). In fact if we succumb to the negative thoughts then we lose our humanity and life ceases to become meaningful but becomes robotic and tasteless. So many of us hang around inspirational people who give meaning to positive action, who plant seeds of good will (even when many seedlings get uprooted), who keep the hope alive.
Political Zionists are scrambling and spending billions to maintain the fiction that justifies the plunder by using a blitzkrieg of propaganda and a blitzkrieg of tanks and apache helicopters. But the mass of humanity awakening from its slumber and challenging the collaborative political leaders has become unstoppable. Activists for Palestinian rights are growing and evolving: they are becoming more sophisticated, more nuanced, less prone to rhetoric and hyperbole, and more focused on practical actions (see Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions actions, see Free Gaza Movement actions, and also as we speak a convoy of 100+ cars is moving by land from England to Gaza). Even outside of the issues of Palestine the trends are evident for progressive thoughts, towards practical actions, and away from tribalism and narrow nationalism will all mean that Zionism will increasingly find itself an alien force in this world.
Despite the current difficulties, I am thus 100% convinced the future is pointing towards peace with justice. Our task is really to shorten the time frame to get there. Each day reduced saves lives and decreases the misery of the occupied and colonized people of Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan (and may prevent a Zionist inspired attack on Iran). That is the essence of why we should all work hard. The harder we do it, the sooner we arrive. But the road is actually more important than the destination and we who are walking on road to peace with justice are closer to our humanity and so reap the benefit as we go along even if some of us may not get to that destination. We who continue honor them.
Now for this week’s links and actions:
Israel Demolished hundreds of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem for “having no permits”. Israel has not given building permits for the 300,000 Palestinians residents of Jerusalem. By contrast the Zionist administration issued tens of thousands of permits for building by Jews as colonial settlers on Palestinian lands (illegal under International law). This story is particularly sad for a guy who had to demolish his own house:
Video: Barcelona-Maccabee Game boycott action
Video: Viva Palestine, 100+ cars on trip from London to Gaza via many Arab countries
ACTION REQUIRED: Write to President Leon Botstein firstname.lastname@example.org and Executive Vice-President Dimitri Papadimitriou email@example.com (Please note correction in latter email compared to links provided below)
My friend Joel Kovel terminated by Bard College for speaking the truth
Boycott promotes debate
“In response to the call from Palestinian civil society and from more than 500 courageous Israeli citizens, we urge a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, not only to protest their utter silence in the face of the ongoing destruction of Palestinian educational infrastructure, but also because we believe that the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions still can influence Israel’s public opinion and avert a catastrophic outcome.
It is time to rethink Zionism
Letter to President of Columbia on Israel’s denial of academic freedom
12 Feb 2009
1) Urgent request for funding and/or logistical support to maintain the International Middle East Media Center (http://www.imemc.org/)
2) First college to divest from South African Apartheid divests from Israel (excellent example to follow)
3) Action for medical doctors: protest the appointment of a torture advocate as head of World Medical Association
1) Urgent request for funding and/or logistical support to maintain the International Middle East Media Center (http://www.imemc.org)
We in the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People (PCR, http://www.pcr.ps/) are asking for urgent donations and/or logistical support to keep our International Middle East Media Center (http://www.imemc.org)
PCR was founded in April 1988 with the mission of bridging the gap between Palestinians and peoples from all around the world, informing the public about the reality in Palestine, and empower the community through nonviolent direct action for peace.
IMEMC combines Palestinian journalists' deep understanding of the context, history, and the socio-political environment with International journalists' skills in non-partisan reporting. We engages in media campaigns that provide accurate and first hand information Palesine and life in Palestine. We Organize functions that enhance civic duty and civic responsibility.
Since June 2008, IMEMC proudly survived on donations made by our readers which not only helped IMEMC continue, but also to remain a free and independent media outlet.
We also always need volunteers in the different departments/activities and also help in fundraising (writing grant applications etc) so contact us and let us know what skills and/or time you have to offer.
For tax deductible donations from the US, please send you check or wire transfer with a note to indicate it is for the Rapprochement Center and mail to The Society for Biblical Studies, 661 Massachusetts Avenue Suite 40, Arlington, MA 02476
By Wire: ABA/Routing # 211371120 (there is no SWIFT code)
Bank Name: Cambridge Savings Bank, 1374 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138
Acct #: 535716139 Account Title: The Society for Biblical Studies
You can also make SECURE online donations online through one of these ways
https://co.clickandpledge.com/default.aspx?wid=17066 (or copy and paste in your browser)
Or make donations through Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org or by clicking the link below (or copy and paste in your browser)
We have matching funds from a generous anonymous donor for donations. Please email me at email@example.com to indicate you have sent any money through this appeal so that I can forward to George and the staff the good news of your forthcoming support and to keep track of funding sent through our fiscal sponsor.
2)An excellent example to follow in other colleges and universities:
Hampshire College becomes first college in U.S. to divest from Israeli Occupation!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hampshire College becomes first college in U.S. to divest from Israeli Occupation!
Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, has become the first of any college or university in the U.S. to divest from companies on the grounds of their involvement in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. This landmark move is a direct result of a two-year intensive campaign by the campus group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The group pressured Hampshire College's Board of Trustees to divest from six specific companies due to human rights concerns in occupied Palestine. Over 800 students, professors, and alumni have signed SJP's "institutional statement" calling for the divestment.
The proposal put forth by SJP was approved on Saturday, 7 Feb 2009 by the Board. By divesting from these companies, SJP believes that Hampshire has distanced itself from complicity in the illegal occupation and war crimes of Israel. Meeting minutes from a committee of Hampshire's Board of Trustees confirm that "President Hexter acknowledged that it was the good work of SJP that brought this issue to the attention of the committee." This groundbreaking decision follows in Hampshire's history of being the first college in the country to divest from apartheid South Africa thirty-two years ago, a decision based on similar human rights concerns. This divestment was also a direct result of student pressure.
The divestment has so far been endorsed by Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Rashid Khalidi, Vice President of the EU Parliament Luisa Morganitini, Cynthia McKinney, former member of the African National Congress Ronnie Kasrils, Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, John Berger, Tariq Ali, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, among others. The six corporations, all of which provide the Israeli military with equipment and services in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza are: Caterpillar, United Technologies, General Electric, ITT Corporation, Motorola, and Terex (see attached info sheet for more information on these corporations.) Furthermore, our policy prevents the reinvestment in any company involved in the illegal occupation.
SJP is responding to a call from Palestinian civil society for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) as a way of bringing non-violent pressure to bear on the state of Israel to end its violations of international law. SJP is following in the footsteps of many noted groups and institutions such as the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education in the UK, the Israeli group Gush Shalom, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, and the American Friends Service Committee.
As well as voicing our opposition to the illegal occupation and the consistent human rights violations of the Palestinian people, we as members of an institute of higher education see it as our moral responsibility to express our solidarity with Palestinian students whose access to education is severely inhibited by the Israeli occupation.
SJP has proven that student groups can organize, rally and pressure their schools to divest from the illegal occupation. The group hopes that this decision will pave the way for other institutions of higher learning in the U.S. to take similar stands.
Jay Cassano Tel: 917-412-2181
Matan Cohen Tel: 434-409-3127
Kanya D'Almeida Tel: 860-208-1404
Dina Jacir Tel: 973-943-3520
Brian Van Slyke Tel: 708-707-1784
3)Action for Medical Doctors:
UK Medical Committee for Palestine is collecting signatures to send to the World Medical Association to object to the selection of an Israeli (Yoram Blachar) who defended torture (“moderate physical pressure”) as head of WMA (also consider the complicity of the Israeli Medical Association in it support of Israeli apartheid policies and siege and blockade of population preventing medical care etc that killed hundreds of patients). “Whilst this action is of course consistent with the broader campaign for an academic boycott of Israel, what is at stake here is an issue in itself and signatories do not necessarily have to feel that they have committed themselves to a pro-boycott position in general.” Email individually with name, position (if a professor, say so) or medical specialty, city or town to firstname.lastname@example.org
10 Feb 2009
Two relevant items in today’s email:
-An analysis of Israeli elections
-An article published in the most prestigious medical Journal in Britain about the weapons and injuries visiting physicians examined in Gaza
Israeli Elections: Solidifying Fascism
By Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh, Bethlehem University
Well before the recent murderous Israeli attacks on Gaza, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Northern Command leader Gadi Eisenkot stated that "We will wield disproportionate power against every village from which shots are fired on Israel, and cause immense damage and destruction. From our perspective, these are military bases…This isn't a suggestion. This is a plan that has already been authorized." ("IDF plans to use disproportionate force in next war," by Amos Harel, Haaretz, October 5, 2008). The same report stated that Colonel (Res.) Gabriel Siboni authored a report through Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies backing Eisenkot's statements stating that the answer to rocket and missile threats from Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip is "a disproportionate strike at the heart of the enemy's weak spot, in which efforts to hurt launch capability are secondary...." Ephraim Halevy, the former head of the Mossad intelligence service, wrote in the Israeli press that the government “could have stopped the rocket attacks long ago by lifting its siege of Gaza. But Israel has a broader interest — to ensure that it is the Fatah party .. and not Hamas that is politically dominant in the Palestinian territories. If Israel's goal were to remove the threat of rockets from the residents of southern Israel, opening the border crossings would have ensured such quiet for a generation. But the real objectives of the operation include preserving Fatah's status as the sole sovereign in the Palestinian Authority ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/04/israel-gaza-invasion-troops-hamas/print)
That Israel broke the cease fire in Gaza with the same aims is now a well established fact even agreed to be Israeli spokespersons (see e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&hl=en-GB&v=SILJxPTqjAM )
These things are all sidelined on the eve of Israeli elections and the Israeli political landscape is poised to finally fulfill its destiny of fascism. Israelis will (like Germans under Hitler) continue to be lulled into supporting the unthinkable. It is instructive here to pause and examine the Zionist political structure that makes this possible. While strands of Zionism included things like religious and cultural Zionism (ala Judas Magnus, Martin Buber and Hannah Arendt), the programs articulated by the World Zionist Congress held in West Jerusalem in 1966 remain the dominant form. This program aims to strengthen the “Jewish state”, strengthen “Jewish connections” to Zionism, strengthen “Jewish education” and thus cohesiveness around the political program. Its agenda does not leave much to the imagination and the programs that emanate from the tribal mission and goals of Zionism become very clear. These include strengthening “Jewish” institutions to defend “Jewish” values/interests (here I put Jewish in quotations because many Jews and others would take issue with the Zionist mantra that Zionism represents Jews or Jewish interests). Such a program tries to appear liberal to the outside world but any rational person and Jewish Zionists themselves know what it entailed and will continue to demand. To sustain a Jewish state requires an endless effort to fend off the majority of the population in that area who are not Jewish. The inevitable result was that of the 10 million Palestinians in the world over 7 million are refugees or displaced people, others live in concentration camps, and many are subjected to endless wars (since natives in history never simply fade away on their own).
The difference between strands of political Zionism has always been not about the need or importance of having a powerful and secure Jewish state on someone else’s land andf now about how to build a modern sate that complies with International law. The differences centered on how to create and maintain the Jewish state despite the rights of indigenous people and in the face of their expected resistance. It was about what tactics and what procedures ensure colonization success with maximum benefit for the Zionist movement at minimum expense. The difference between Ben Gurion and Vladimir Jabotisnky was not over the goal (a secure powerful Jewish state) but over tactics. Ben Gurion believed in maintaining strong Western support (the British and later the US) by couching language in internationally acceptable discourses and trying to handle the natives with a mixture of methods (violence, trickery, buying them off etc). Jabotinsky believed in hard power only; an “iron wall to which the natives have no answer”.
In today’s discourses, the soft racism of Ben Gurion has become a minority (Israeli Labor Party) while the more blunt racism of Jabotinsky ascended to make up the majority powers (Likud, Kadima, Israel Beitano). That the latter block of fascist parties now dominates Israeli politics is a sad commentary not just on the depravity of the Zionist discourse but the fact that the world allowed it to get so far. The whole sale slaughter in Gaza using US weapons and protection and European government acquiescence is now a textbook an example of the trashing of International law in favor of brute power politics.
Some may say, the Palestinians could have helped stem the move towards fascist parties if they were more accommodating. But that statement has to be dissected more carefully. Haven’t Palestinian leadership already compromised enough by agreeing to cede 78% of Palestine, limiting its demands top only 22% of historic Palestine (West Bank and Gaza)? Why would the victims be expected to accommodate every whim and desire of their tormentors? Would Palestinians be actually better off under the rule of Labor than Likud? We do know that Labor built just as many settlements when it was in power as Likud and Labor is the one which developed Israel’s weapons of mass destructions and used some of them (e.g. white Phosphorous). Labor was actually able to accomplish far more ethnic destruction than the so called “right wing” ever could (just look at the hundreds of thousands of refugees created between 1948-1950 and in 1967). Labor’s ability to lull the international community to sleep by talk of “peace” (while acting completely opposite) is legendary. Labor and supposed moderates managed to break the blockade and lack of diplomatic recognition without having to comply with even one of the 60+ UN Security Council resolutions that Israel is violating.
Ofcourse a rational examination of history would clearly show that (as many South African leaders stated) that Israel is indeed worse than apartheid South Africa. Lamenting the dismal reality on the ground and in Israeli political discourse is instructive in other ways. Since Israel has never declared its borders, let us look at Israel’s attempts to deal with its neighbors in the past 30 years:
1) Israel's deal with Egypt in 1978/79 neutralized a large Arab country while partially complying with International law (withdrawing from the Sinai while limiting Egyptian sovereignity there) has accomplished more for Israel than all its wars including massive US aid and other economic benefits. Yet, the average Egyptian saw worse conditions while the regime of the dictatorship was strengthened. Overall, Egyptian society suffered a significant setback in its struggle for democracy and human rights (not to mention economic development). Divisions between Egypt and other Arab countries were created and fanned from which we still suffer today (see how Egypt collaborated with Israel and oppressed the dissent within Egypt). The cold peace that is kept only by US support of a ruthless dictator is a testament to how such a deal was not fair or balanced (to take into account Israeli and Egyptian PUBLIC needs).
2) Israel's deal with PLO also accomplished much for Israel (breaking the isolation by establishing diplomatic relations with 30+ new countries, economic boom, the freedom to colonize more of the West Bank) while using the language of autonomy to get the prisoners to simply pick-up their own garbage and pay for their own society relieving the occupation from its responsibilities under the 4th Geneva Conventions. Between 1993-2000 Israel's economy boomed and settler population in the West Bank doubled (from 200,000 to more than 400,000). Meanwhile Palestinian economy suffered massive losses (unemployment went from 20% to over 45%) and the Palestinian body politics was severly damaged (with creation of different Palestinian populations, different agendas, different expectations etc). Divisions ensued.
3) Under fire of Hizballah, Israel got out of South Lebanon unilaterally (and essentially defeated) in 1999 but kept the Sheba farms and a few Lebanese prisoners. Hizballah was succeeded in 2006 to secure release of prisoners and Israel’s unconditional withdrawal and now Israel is talking about relinquishing the Sheba farms.
4) Under fire from Hamas, Israel vacated the Gaza strip unilaterally in hope of strengthening its grip on the West Bank but it merely strengthened Hamas. While the move succeeded in its other goals of fostering stronger divisions among Palestinians, it also strengthened Hamas and increased the likelihood of further militarization of the resistance to occupation (the increasing sophistication and reach of Hamas rockets are but one of the outcomes of this policy). While many Israelis recognize the failure of achieving Israeli goals in either 2000 or 2008, this is not resolved yet. But if I was a betting person, I would bet that Hamas has grown in popularity and that funding will be flowing to that organization thanks to Israeli massacres of Gazans and other plunders of an occupation army bereft of ideas.
The contrasts between 1/2 and 3/4 lead many observers to conclude that violent resistance works to achieve results while negotiations only bring humiliating conditions that just set the stage for conflict. The third way of justice was never tried. Israeli leaders continue to speak of the management of the “demographic problem”: Palestinian Christians and Muslims who remain have higher birth rates than Jews who come to live in Palestine/Israel. Different political parties come up with different solutions ranging from the South Africa model under apartheid (create for them their own state or Zululand, “us here them there”) to demanding a loyalty oath to the “Jewish state” and expel those who disagree (it is like demanding blacks in South Africa give a loyalty oath to “White South Africa”).
The only thing that could change that dynamic and go beyond the choice of either violent resistance or humiliating agreements is if Israeli leaders would finally be compelled to respect International law and treat the Palestinians with justice. This would be the only thing that would pull the rug from under the extremists. The International movement for boycotts, divestments and sanctions provides a significant pathway that combined with steadfast resistance to destruction by the natives would be sufficient to achieve change for the better here. I already feel the winds of change coming. Each human being can play a role to speed it along and the faster it comes the more lives are saved.
The Wounds of Gaza
Two Surgeons from the UK, Dr Ghassan Abu Sittah and Dr Swee Ang, managed to get into Gaza during the Israeli invasion. Here they describe their experiences, share their views, and conclude that the people of Gaza are extremely vulnerable and defenseless in the event of another attack.
I will report briefly on my trip to Azerbaijan which coincided with the World Economic Forum and make a few comments about the latter/Davos event where PM of Turkey was insulted in order to to accomodate war criminal Shimon Peres (an article I wrote disrupted the Davos meeting in 2006 so I feel kinship ;-). I will add my experience being interrogated by Israeli security on my way back and give other relevant action links.
I was invited to Azerbaijan for the Winter Session of the NATO International School of Azerbaijan (a school that has ties to both NATO and the Azerbaijan Ministry of Defense). The conference discussed conflicts and role of NATO and other International agencies in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, the Former Yugoslavia, and the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. We heard from experts like the Azerbaijan Minister of Defense, Brig.General Klaus Wittmann (Previous director at NATO Defense College), Lt. Col. Alonso (US Marine now NATO Country Officer for Afghanistan), Afghanistan activist Noorullah Ahmadzai, NISA Executive Director Mikayil Yusifov and others. The students were extremely smart, interested and motivated. The presentations and the discussions were very informative. I was invited to speak about the issue of Palestine (with a response from a gentleman from Israel) and presented a few slides and facts/figures on the history of the conflict, forms of resistance, personal experiences, potential solutions, and our personal responsibility to advance a peaceful outcome (using tactics like those employed to transform Apartheid South Africa). I also learned a lot about other areas of the world and certainly appreciated the Azerbaijan hospitality. I only wished more Palestinians could join in the hundreds of similar events held around the world in which there have been in the past no representation of perspectives that may contradict the usually advocated narrative (i.e. Israel is good, Palestinian natives are bad). The students talked about our collective failures and responsibilities (all of us as individuals and nations) and how we might move forward to a more peaceful and prosperous world. I reflected on the state of affairs in Palestine and the lack of a coherent outreach to explain the realities that most of the Palestinians live under (the refugees, the dispossessed, the occupied etc).
On coming back to Palestine, I had not slept much since my flights (Baku-Istanbul-Amman) had poor connections and timing (arriving in Amman 2 AM). I stayed at the airport till dawn and headed to the bridge to cross into the occupied West Bank. My trip from Amman Airport to Bethlehem area (a distance of a mere 60 miles) took nearly 11 hours. We were delayed partly because of about 20 buses of Palestinian security personal returning from training in Jordan were put ahead of us. Also at one point on the Israeli entry area, they took my passport and asked me to wait. Every 20 minutes they came with a batch of Palestinian ID cards or passports and called out names (batches to let them go and batches to take to interrogation). After about 2.5 hours they called my name in the batch for interrogation. The questions I got asked all had answers to anyone who searches for my name on the Internet. Here are some samples:
Q: You have a US passport. How come?
A: I lived in the US for many years.
Q: So you married an American to get your passport?
A: No, I got it through my work.
Q: So you live there?
A: No, I moved back to live here.
A: Because this is Palestine, our homeland.
Q: You are Christian?
A: and Muslim, and Jewish, and Buddhist, and others
Q: Are you joking?
A: No, I think there are elements of truth in all religions.
Q: But it says on your ID card that you are Christian?
A: You are the ones who issue these ID cards and you are the ones who put these things on them.
Q: What is the name of your son?
A: (I hesitated a bit but then thought they could find it on the internet anyway)
…. And on
I have been held and questioned before coming in and out while I studied in Jordan and the US. This one is the first in the last four months (since I relocated here so it was probably a reminder of who is “boss”). It is likely not going to be the last. But I am not bitter or angry and I remain extremely optimistic. Three years ago, I published an article titled “Boycott Israel” in the official Magazine of the World Economic Forum (held this time of year in Davos). The overreaction created lots of publicity and media coverage for us and the president of the WEF closed the magazine (cutting his income). The article with a summary of why Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanction are appropriate is still relevant today since Israel has not changed so please read it at: http://www.qumsiyeh.org/boycottisrael/ but then please act.
The elite leaders who gathered again in Davos did not learn the lessons (of bending over backwards to please Israel). Turkish Prime Minister stormed off the stage when Shimon Peres was allowed tto ramble on while Erdogan was not allowed to respond (see video and text at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/davos/7859417.stm). Zionist disrespectful attitudes still damage their own cause. My advice is still the same: the world needs to stop its double standards and treat Israel like any other country subject to International law. As I write this they are at a disarray over an economic crises that many of us in the peace groups have explained was coming (even back then in 2006 based on our understanding of the destructions caused by war economies and parasitic special interests). We can take cue from the World Social Forum and get common people to run their own affairs instead of expecting the elites with special interests to tackle world problems that they created. This even when they can’t seem to even be able to stop Israel from its ongoing attacks on a captive and impoverished concentration camp called the Gaza Strip. See this Israeli soldier call it what it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=em2JB6eysQo
And here is a summary video on the Israeli Operation “Cast Lead" that happen with a wink and a nod from the so called “International community” (governments|).
Israeli attacks on Gaza after Israel declared a “ceasefire” to its campaign of slaughter of Gaza civilians included so far:
-Israeli forces killed a Palestinian farmer in Khuza'a east of Khan Yunis on Jan 18
-Israeli forces killed a Palestinian farmer east of Jabalia on Jan 19
-Israeli naval gunboats shelled Gaza coast line causing severe damage to civilian homes and properties on Jan 21
-Israeli troops shot and injured a child east of Gaza City on Jan 22
-Israeli gunboat fire injured several Palestinian fishermen on Jan 22
-Israeli shelling set a Palestinian house on fire on Jan 22
-Israeli tanks fired on the border town of Al Faraheen, causing damage to homes and farms on Jan 24
- Israeli warplanes shelled the Rafah area near the border destroying homes and properties while claiming to target tunnels (most tunnels are used to bring in food and medicine and other basic necessities that Israel blockades)
The Israeli Professor Avi Shlaim wrote in the Guardian to challenge what he calls “the newspeak of Israeli propagandists” writing: "First, Hamas is the democratically elected government of the Palestinian people, not the corrupt regime led by Mahmoud Abbas. Second, Hamas spokesmen have repeatedly declared their readiness for a long-term ceasefire. Khalid Mish'al recently did so on these pages (Comment, 6 January). Third, Hamas has a solid record of observing ceasefires, while Israel has a consistent record of sabotaging them. Fourth, even during the ceasefire Israel did not lift its economic blockade of the 1.5 million inhabitants of Gaza, a form of collective punishment forbidden by international law. Fifth, the offensive unleashed in Gaza was illegal, immoral and unnecessary. If all Israel wanted was to stop rocket attacks from Gaza, all it had to do was to observe the ceasefire brokered by Egypt in June 2008."
Action 1: Watch the 60 minute video and send a thank you note
Action 2: Associated Press Story: "The two men selected to serve as Hillary Clinton's deputy secretaries of state, Jacob Lew and James Steinberg, also filed financial disclosure forms. Lew, a former Clinton administration official who recently headed Citigroup's Alternative Investments unit, reported 2008 salary income of just over $1 million along with numerous investments, including between $50,000 and $100,000 in State of Israel bonds."....
Please write to the White House and news sources if you agree that there is a conflict of Interest in these appointments.
Action 3: Support Gaza, boycott the BBC (from the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Movement)
Action 4: Start your own BDS campaign. Here are some resources
US professors call for Academic boycott
23 Jan 2009
I will be speaking via phone/computer uplink to a meeting in Sydney Australia, 2 PM (Sydney time) Saturday January 24, at the Resistance Center, 23 Abercorombie St Chippendale Ph 9690 1977 or 0439 694 505. The meeting has other speakers and multimedia presentation about the latest events in Gaza and the Zionist project in Palestine. I will also then travel to attend and speak at a conference for European Youth held in Baku, Azerbijan (Monday-Wednesday). Let me know if you know anyone in Baku to network with.
My analysis of President Obama’s language and attitude about the Middle East is posted here: Did Obama set-up Mitchell to fail in the Middle East? http://www.palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=14730
That was a message addressed to readers in the US. Ofcourse I have much more to say including about the mistakes and snafus of leaders in Hamas, Fatah, and leftist factions and more to say about positive actions people are taking. But we are all inundated with emails so I will say a few words only. Boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS) movement is picking up (we had renewed activities about that here in the Bethlehem area). There are also now moves to try Israeli leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity and Israel took the unusual step of censoring names of key figures but those names of criminal suspects are showing up and even on Israeli websites (see http://www.wanted.org.il/ ). There are also more media campaigns, more pressure on the politicians (all of them) and more building and taking care of each other. I continue to be inspired by the tremendous work happening on the ground. Ofcourse we could always use help in material and nonmaterial ways right here in Palestine and mostly help by using your time effectively to work for justice wherever you are (and justice is the only route to peace).
A video message to Obama from an Israeli Jewish woman is relevant:
Global Movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions for Palestine
Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Pictures and videos of reality
-Video on day 9 of shelling, whole families obliterated
-Norwegian doctor report from Gaza
-Israel shelled UN school compound killing 40 people
-Father loses his parents, four children and other members of his family after the Israelis gather neighbors in one house and then shell it
-Another father who lost three children speaks in Hebrew to Ehud Barak
-Israeli trained doctor who speaks fluent Hebrew and lost his children to Israeli shelling
-Video: the world lost its conscience?
-Israel experimenting on civilians with new types of weapons:
-Norwegian Dr. Mads Gilbert testimony in Gaza
-Use of white phosphorus over Gaza http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVY4NUKowzg
-Direct reports from Gaza by an International in Gaza: http://ingaza.wordpress.com/
-A haunting photo montage http://sabbah.biz/mt/archives/2009/01/16/war-on-gaza-surat-al-rahman/
-UK Telegraph Newspaper: "They said that after the Israeli army first took the town on Saturday night soldiers had ordered about 100 members of the clan to gather in a single house owned by Wael Samouni around dawn on Sunday. At 6.35am on Monday the house was repeatedly shelled with appalling loss of civilian life (killing 70)"
Facts on Gaza not well known
-Factsheets/Information on Gaza
-Israel spokesperson admits Israel broke the cease fire agreement
CNN confirmed this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAhfDa0smsc
-Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions “reframing” Gaza
-Gaza Website http://gazasiege.org
-Vanity Fair reported in April last year: “After failing to anticipate Hamas’s victory over Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election, the White House cooked up yet another scandalously covert and self-defeating Middle East debacle: part Iran-contra, part Bay of Pigs. With confidential documents, corroborated by outraged former and current U.S. officials, the author reveals how President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams Zionist backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.”
-An inside story of how the US magnified Palestinian suffering. The covert push to empower Fatah failed. And isolating Hamas just made things worse. But it's not too late to change course.
- Gaza invasion: Powered by the U.S.: Taxpayers are spending over $1 billion to send refined fuel to the Israeli military -- at a time when Israel doesn't need it and America does.
- Still breathing, a report from Gaza by Caoimhe Butterly
- Sderot Residents Contradict Israeli Government Propaganda
Use of white phosphorus in Gaza
UN High commissioner for Human Rights report on Gaza (Rauthor Richard Falk is himself Jewish)
Red Cross: Israel breaking Int'l law, letting children starve in Gaza
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said that the situation in Gaza was "completely and utterly unacceptable based on every known standard of international law and universal humanitarian principles and values.
Israeli Human Rights groups: Clear and present danger to the lives and well-being of tens of thousands of civilians: An Israeli Call For Urgent Humanitarian Action In Gaza
Human Rights Watch demands Israel stop using White Phosphorus incendiary shells on civilian populations
World Health Organization condemns Israeli attacks on hospitals
Amnesty International issued a report 19 January 2009 that stated that Israel's use of white phosphorus against Gaza civilians was "clear and undeniable"
African Union statement, Addis Ababa, 15 January 2009
Journalists group condemns strike on Gaza media
The Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) and the International Covenant for the Protection of Journalists (ICPJ) condemn shelling of building hosting media offices. http://www.mediacovenant.org/
British Academics Call for Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions
Gush Shalom, Israel Peace Block, January 7, 2009: “The government dooms a whole generation of young Israelis to become, quite literally, war criminals”
Red Cross http://www.ifrc.org/docs/news/08/08123003/
- Video:Israeli speaks to the BBC and asks Obama to change (instead of being a "slave" of the lobby) http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=rfnPjzOGB5s
- A 14 year old in Gaza asks on question: why?
- Bob Simon, a life-long Zionist interviewed by Charlie Rose lets out the facts
- The Israeli Human Shield
- Zionist FAQs
- Rethinking Zionism
- Norman Finkelstein on Gaza
- The Gaza Ghetto Uprising January 20 The Star Newspaper
- The humiliation of America
-UK Jewish MP: Israel acting like Nazis http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMGuYjt6CP8
-Blog of a young Gazan http://sunshine208.blogspot.com
-Still breathing, a report from Gaza by Caoimhe Butterly
- Documentary: John Pilger’s “Palestine is Still the issue”
25 Actions to do http://www.pcr.ps/activities/actions-gaza.htm
Demonstrations around the world for Gaza (Pictures)
The carnage in Gaza continues. Collaborative Arab regimes still talk while people of conscience take action. I noted that the vice president of the European Union Luisa Morgantini just entered Gaza (would Abbas, Mubarak or Abdullah please just go there?). I noted that Venezuela kicked out the Israeli ambassador (other Israeli ambassadors are everywhere including Egypt, Jordan, and Mauritania). The people in Turkey kicked out Israeli sports teams and unions, churches and others everywhere are boycotting American and Israeli products, engaging in divestment and sanction campaigns (while demonstrations in Ramallah were broken with tear gas and clubs by Palestinian police on the order of Mahmoud Abbas). And while millions demonstrate around the world, some breaking into Israeli consulates and embassies, the US congress bends over backward to please the Israel lobby (which has already ruined the US economy and made it into a paper tiger). Surprisingly I have never been more optimistic than now because I think there is more awareness now about the real nature of this rogue state and its intentions. Do not misunderstand me. In wars everyone loses. This is an obscenely unbalanced conflict (not war but a slaughter) with Israel using the most advanced military technologies and all weapons shy of nuclear weapons (white phosphorous chemical warfare was used already this week) with literally unprecedented massacres in very short periods of time (880 murdered so far). Yet, despite this imbalance, the Israeli war machine is still losing (even beyond the normal losses incurred in a war of choice (as Jimmy Carter clearly articulated in an op-ed in the Washington Post). Despite billions spent on armaments and billions spent on propaganda, Israel is not achieving its main objectives and will have soon to retreat due to other political deadline (January 20 and February 10). It has been two weeks and those resisting are still resisting with high determination. When Israel lost in Lebanon in 2006, we were told this was because Hezballah had direct and open line of supplies (presumably through “resistance-friendly” Syria). But now in an impoverished starved strip of desert land that is surrounded by Israel (and US client puppet dictatorial regime in Egypt), the example must stand in contrast to, say the six day war of 1967 (three Arab armies fleeing in front of advancing Israeli troops literally taking only the time of infantry to cross the territory they coveted). Violence solves nothing is a lesson people have to learn. I actually think all people of conscious who know the outcome of this unblanced conflict already (as every sober analyst can tell us) should work hard to end it now because the sooner it ends the more of its tattered image Israel can save and the more possibility would remain for a real negotiated settlement that would bring peace with justice. Below are relevant analytical articles and other links including action items you can do.
The Gaza Ghetto Uprising by Mazin Qumsiyeh
A foreigner in Gaza reports with pictures. No room for the dead, no room for the living
Red Cross: Israel breaking Int'l law, letting children starve in Gaza
Israeli speaks to the BBC and asks Obama to change (instead of being a “slave” of the lobby)
In Arabic Fatah: engage or end (of its movement)
Khalid Meshal explains Hamas’s position
Israel Rejected Hamas Ceasefire Offer in December http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=45350
At the (?desperate) urging of Israeli leaders like Olmert, those who support Israeli apartheid will gather to show their solidarity and support for the continued massacre of the people of Gaza. Here is a list of where supporters of continued violence will gather http://www.ujc.org/page.aspx?id=190976
Action: Sign Petition: 388,000 signatures so far..
Action: How many of the 25 ways to do something for Gaza did you do?
Action: Call and email about the trip of Free Gaza movement (see below)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For More Information, Please Contact:
(Cyprus) Huwaida Arraf, +357 96 723 999 or +357 99 081 767 email@example.com
(Gaza) Ewa Jasiewicz, +972 598 700 497 firstname.lastname@example.org
(Egypt) Caoimhe Butterly, +20 121 027 072 email@example.com
(U.S.) Ramzi Kysia, +1 703 994 5422 firstname.lastname@example.org
(Cyprus, 11 January 2009) - The Free Gaza Movement ship, "SPIRIT OF HUMANITY," will leave Larnaca Port at 12:00 noon, Monday, 12 January, on an emergency mission to besieged Gaza. The ship will carry desperately needed doctors, journalists, human rights workers, and members of several European parliaments as well as medical supplies. This voyage marks Free Gaza's second attempt to break through the blockade since Israel began attacking the Gaza Strip on 27 December. Between August and December 2008, the Free Gaza Movement successfully challenged the Israeli blockade five times, landing the first international ships in the port of Gaza since 1967.
The Israeli military violently attacked an earlier attempt by the Free Gaza Movement to send an emergency boat filled with doctors and medical supplies to Gaza. In the early hours of Tuesday, 30 December, the Israeli navy deliberately, repeatedly, and without warning rammed the unarmed ship, the DIGNITY, causing significant structural damage and endangering the lives of its passengers and crew. The ship found safe harbor in Lebanon, and is currently awaiting repairs.
Fouad Ahidar, a member of the Belgian Parliament sailing to Gaza aboard the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, responded to concerns that Israel may attack the unarmed mercy ship by saying, "I have five children that are very worried about me, but I told them, you can sit on your couch and watch these atrocities on the television, or you can choose to take action to make them stop."
Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip have injured thousands of civilians and killed over 800 people, including scores of women and children. This ongoing Israeli massacre severely and massively violates international humanitarian law defined by the Geneva Conventions, especially the obligations of an Occupying Power and the requirements of the laws of war.
The United Nations has failed to protect the Palestinian civilian population from Israel's massive violations of international humanitarian law. Israel has closed off Gaza from the international community and demanded that all foreigners leave. But Huwaida Arraf, an organizer with the Free Gaza Movements, stated that, "We cannot just sit by and wait for Israel to decide to stop the killing and open the borders for relief workers to pick up the pieces. We are coming in. There is an urgent need for this mission as Palestinian civilians in Gaza are being terrorized and slaughtered by Israel, and access to humanitarian relief denied to them. When states and the international bodies responsible for taking action to stop such atrocities chose to be impotent, then we--the citizens of the world--must act. Our common humanity demands nothing less."
Israel has been notified that we are coming. A copy of the notification to the Israeli Authorities is below.
The media is invited to the Larnaca Port at 10:00am, Monday, January 12 for final preparations and a press conference before departure.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Take Action! CALL the Israeli Government and let them know that the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY is coming to Gaza. DEMAND that Israel immediately STOP slaughtering civilians in Gaza and STOP using violence to prevent human rights and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people.
Mark Regev in the Prime Minister's office:
+972 2670 5354 or +972 5 0620 3264
Shlomo Dror in the Ministry of Defence:
+972 3697 5339 or +972 50629 8148
Major Liebovitz from the Israeli Navy:
+ 972 5 781 86248
Official Notification of Intent to Enter
January 11, 2009
To: The Israeli Ministry of Defense, Fax: 972-3-697-6717
To: The Israeli Navy
To: The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fax 972-2-5303367
From: The Free Gaza Movement
This letter serves as a formal notification to you as the Occupying Power and belligerent force in the Gaza Strip that on Monday, January 12 we are navigating the motor vessel, Spirit of Humanity, from the Port of Larnaca to the port of Gaza City. Our vessel will be flying the Greek flag, and, as such, falls under the jurisdiction Greece.
We will be sailing from Cypriot waters into international waters, then directly into the territorial waters of the Gaza Strip without entering or nearing Israeli territorial waters. We expect to arrive at the Gaza Port on Tuesday, January 13, 2009.
We will be carrying urgently needed medical supplies in sealed boxes, cleared by customs at the Larnaca International Airport and the Port of Larnaca. There will be a total of 30 passengers and crew on board, among them members of various European Parliaments and several physicians. Our boat and cargo will also have received security clearance from the Port Authorities in Cyprus before we depart.
As it will be confirmed that neither we, the cargo, any of the boat's contents, nor the boat itself constitute any threat to the security of Israel or its armed forces, we do not expect any interference with our voyage by Israel's authorities.
On Tuesday, December 30, an Israeli Navy vessel violently, and without warning, attacked our motor vessel Dignity, disabling the vessel and endangering the lives of the 16 civilians on board. This notice serves as clear notification to you of our approach. Any attack on the motor vessel, Spirit of Humanity, will be premeditated and any harm inflicted on the 30 civilians on board will be considered the result of a deliberate attack on unarmed civilians.
The Steering Committee of the Free Gaza Movement
Contact: Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza Movement, 357 96 723 999
First, a correction: I shared a video of carnage in Gaza that was forwarded to me but later found out that it was not current but actually from 2005. I apologize for that/I should have checked. Below are authenticated SHORT videos of the past two weeks. But first, please take a very close look at the attached photo of Samera Baalusha (34) carrying her sole surviving child Mohamad (15 months) while she waits to see the body of her daughter Jawaher Baalusha (aged 4) during the funeral held for her and four other daughters of hers who were killed in an Israeli missile strike, on December 29, 2008 in the Jebaliya refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip. Picture of the five dead sisters also attached. Take a very close look at this and then decide if you really want to see the videos.
Today was Christmas according to Eastern Christian traditions but there are no celebrations here in Bethlehem. On Thursday (tomorrow) at 10 AM local time, we will have an event in the Manger square (Church of Nativity, Bethlehem) and at 6 PM a vigil in Beit Sahour (this one done daily in front of a tent of resistance). We hope those of you in Palestine can join us for these ongoing events for Gaza. And please do continue actions for peace with justice (earlier we sent out a list of 25 actions you could take). I hope to live to see the day Israeli war criminals are brought before the International Court of Justice at the Hague.
-Video on day 9 of shelling, whole families obliterated
-Norwegian doctor report from Gaza
-Israel shelled UN school compound killing 40 people
-Father loses his parents, four children and other members of his family after the Israelis gather neighbors in one house and then shell it
-Another father who lost three children speaks in Hebrew to Ehud Barak
-Video: the world lost its conscience?
-Use of white phosphorus over Gaza
white phosphorus in Iraq Fallujah, Iraq
-Open letter by George Salzman to Mazin Qumsiyeh
Questions from Palestine
January 4 2009
Israeli leaders intensified their blitzkrieg following intensive aerial “shock and awe” that killed hundreds of civilians. This was intended to subdue not only the 1.5 million impoverished and starved Palestinian but the larger human community around the world and reengineer the political map. After nine days, it is worth taking time to do some analysis in the middle of constant events (demonstrations, vigils, interviews with media). Those of you occupied doing actions for Palestine may not have time to read this while others have specifically asked for it. To make it easy for all, let me start with conclusions and then explain to those who want to read on:
a) When this aggression ends (and it will), Israeli army and leaders will not emerge victorious,
b) The political map will indeed change but not in the ways that Israeli leaders, US leaders, or even some Arab leaders predicted or planned,
c) We Palestinians have an opportunity to make sure that the sparks of unity already in the air turn to a fire of unity that will change the power structure in the Middle East in a way that will really bring justice to Palestine and defeat political Zionism and its collaborators and benefactors but only if we recognize our mistakes as individuals and political factions (including Hamas, Fatah, PFLP, DFLP, etc).
To be honest with ourselves, we must recognize that what Israel counted on materialized in a few cases: ineptness of the UN security council under threat of a US veto (itself under threat of the Zionist lobby), ineptness of the Arab league, the collaboration of many Arab governments, the apathy of large segments of the Israeli public, predicted local attempts to contain the anger in the street (from Cairo to Ramallah to Baghdad etc), and success of Israeli and Zionist forces and well financed propaganda not only in preventing reporting from the ground in Gaza but in controlling the message in much of the supine western media. Some of these initial predictables are beginning to crack after 9 days of massacres that could not be hidden. But there were other more significant failures of the Israeli blitzkrieg.
Let us review these:
1) Gaza resistance and steadfastness comes as number one surprise for the planners. Despite the massacres, it is amazing to watch the spirit. Just one image of a child no more than 10 year old with an open large wound in his belly exposing his intestines but he does not scream, does not yell.. he is talking (obvious pain only in his eyes and facial expression but with no tears), maybe just anger and a question mark to the camera directed at the world. That is Gaza today. In other images women calling not slogans against the occupiers and the war criminals bombing them from the sky but calls to the Arab and Islamic people “WaMu3tasima” (call of anguish, call for aid that goes to the history of the requirement of Muslims and Arabs to aid those who are in need).
2) Massive popular solidarity with Gaza inside 1948 Palestine (current state of Israel), including thousands demonstrating in Tel Aviv, and over 100,000 demonstrating in Sakhnin (Palestinian citizens of Israel).
3) Massive demonstrations in the West Bank that included clashes with Israeli forces despite attempts by Palestinian police to intervene. Just in the Bethlehem area, we have had at least two events (vigils or demonstrations) daily since the start of the blitzkrieg.
4) Massive demonstrations in the Arab world even when these demonstrations were banned, demonstrators beaten or arrested by governments beholden to fake peace treaties that do not protect rights or dignities of the people. Demonstrators demanded cutting all diplomatic and economic ties with Israel and a real unity and solidarity.
5) Massive demonstrations in thousands of locations in the rest of the word that really could not be ignored even when Zionist editors tried to minimize their impact.
6) Massive pouring of material support for Gaza (for example a campaign in Saudi Arabia collected 32 million just in the first 48 hours).
7) The presence of the internet and the failure of Israel to break all access of reporting and communication with Gaza. Millions of people are now learning firsthand what is going on (your receiving this email with its links is just one of the examples).
It might be too simplistic to say that rational human beings draw rational conclusions and that tribal/emotional human beings go down the path of irrational behaviors. Some claim to look pragmatically at things and yet draw the conclusion that it is inevitable that Palestine will be vanquished in favor of the Zionist Jewish state of Israel. Hence we are asked to accept the Bantustan called a state on 9% of historic Palestine AND without sovereignty. They remind us that of Hegel’s words that “what we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history”.
As Palestinians we must also say “mea culpa” and take some responsibility for the state of affairs. We Arabs and Palestinians have been the victims of western imperial and Zionist designs and colonization for 100 years. Yes, most of our problems could be directly connected to that. But yes also, some of our “leaders” have been less than desirable to say it charitably (this applies to other Arabs). And our leaders do originate from among us so we must work on that. But we must be clear that our societal weaknesses do not justify or excuse the slaughter or ethnic cleansing of our people. In 1948 we did not have good leaders because they were all massacred and exiled in the 1936-1939 uprising but even if we did, this does not justify our ethnic cleansing or dispossession at the hand of Zionists who had well-organized and strong leadership (Ben Gurion). The slaughter of the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII similarly cannot be said to be justified by weak Jewish leadership and strong Nazi leadership. History is not kind to aggressors and in this case history will be written differently. An army that shells a market place causing this kind of destruction will not be successful at surviving any more than any other fascist army in history (see the graphic video of the minutes after the Israeli attack on the marketplace in Gaza at: http://muslimtv.magnify.net/video/ISRAEL-CARNAGE-CIVILIANS-CHILDR ).
Need we be reminded of the terrorist actions of Zionist groups like the Hagannah, the Irgun, and Stern (all forerunners of the current Israeli terrorist army). Over 2000 attacks on Palestinian civilians killing over 15,000 occurred before Israel was declared a state. In the six weeks that preceded declaring Israel a state, 33 massacres were committed by the prestate Jewish forces including the famous massacres of Tantura and Deir Yassin.
Over half the Palestinian refugees (and thus half the 530 Palestinian villages and towns ethnically cleansed) were driven out before May 14, 1948 (Israel’s founding). After that date, with far more superior in arms and manpower than any opposing force (largely haphazard formations of Arab forces that came in to stop the ethnic cleansing), the nascent state proceeded to expand its territory beyond what was recommended in the partition resolution of the UN general assembly. In so doing, once the cease fire was declared instead of Palestine we had a state of Israel on 78% of Palestine and a collaborationist Jordanian regime occupied the 19% leaving a small sliver controlled by Egypt called the Gaza strip. In that strip, the refugees from over 150 towns and villages ethnically cleansed were squeezed. Israel of course expanded more by occupying the remainder of Palestine in 1967. With population growth, the Gaza desert ghetto became home to 1.5 million
The late Professor Edward Said wrote about Gaza in August, 2002:
"Every Palestinian has become a prisoner. Gaza is surrounded by an electrified fence on three sides: imprisoned like animals, Gazans are unable to move, unable to work, unable to sell their vegetables or fruit, unable to go to school. They are exposed from the air to Israeli planes and helicopters and are gunned down like turkeys on the ground by tanks and machine guns. Impoverished and starved, Gaza is a human nightmare. Hope has been eliminated from the Palestinian vocabulary so that only raw defiance remains. Palestinians must die a slow death so that Israel can have its security, which is just around the corner but cannot be realized because of the special Israeli "insecurity." The whole world must sympathize, while the cries of Palestinian orphans, sick old women, bereaved communities, and tortured prisoners simply go unheard and unrecorded. Doubtless, we will be told, these horrors serve a larger purpose than mere sadistic cruelty. After all, "the two sides" are engaged in a "cycle of violence" that has to be stopped, sometime, somewhere. Once in a while we ought to pause and declare indignantly that there is only one side with an army and a country: the other is a stateless dispossessed population of people without rights or any present way of securing them. The language of suffering and concrete daily life has been either hijacked or so perverted as, in my opinion, to be useless except as pure fiction deployed as a screen for the purpose of more killing and painstaking torture - slowly, fastidiously, and inexorably. That is the truth of what Palestinians suffer."
Things have become much more difficult six years later. Gazans I talked to say direct and quick death by sophisticated weapons has now become just another alternative to the slower death by starvation but they all want to live in freedom and will not succumb to terrorism anymore. Why would people who are not facing these horrible choices stand and watch and imagine negotiating with such an “army with a state” (as an Israeli leader called Israel)?
The aggression as in basic laws of physics will generate reactions. Did we not see that over the years Palestinians and Arabs learned how to fight better? When I use the term to fight I do not just mean the violent resistance (with its various forms, some forms that individuals may not agree with) but all forms of nonviolent resistance and methods of wars (such as the media wars, the wars of ideas etc).
But could we do better? Could we learn to fight better in the media arena? After working over 15 years in the Western media I ask myself why we cannot do better. Why is it that during the critical periods of the latest uprising we had a PLO representative in Washington who was not the best communicator (or at least had good communication team who would write his talking points)? Why do we not use Palestinians of very high caliber in communication (people like Hanan Ashrawi and Ali Abunimah and hundreds of others) that could transmit to the West the reality of what is going on here? Why do we talk about Fatah and Hamas need to reconciliate when hundreds of Palestinians living in the same country do not even talk to each other because they have different ideas about tactics? It would be interesting to see how many leaders of Palestinian communities abroad and in refugee camps called for their rivals to meet, asked for forgetting their differences, starting new leaves etc.? It will be interesting to see if our differences will reemerge like they did after the brief unity over the massacres in Jenin and Nablus in 2002 and 2003?
I know some people by now are saying this is not the time when our people are massacred to do such questioning. But our people have been getting massacred for 100 years by Western backed Zionists and we are all (all factions, all individuals) mature enough to learn from our mistakes and evolve. Need we remember the long list of oppressions and uprisings (192-21, 1929, 1936-1939, 1947-1950, 1956, 1967, 1970-1977,…)? Don’t we remember that the sacrifices and the successes of things like the 1936-1939 uprising, the 1968 Karama battle, the brilliance of the first uprising of the stones 1987-1993 (largely nonviolent uprising) and many many more? From all of these things did we not learn some lessons? Were some of these lessons not lessons of better organizing, more actions and less talk? Did we not modify and change and evolve AND SURVIVE? And was that survival not in itself a thwarting of the most entrenched ethnic cleansing machine that attempted to remove us all from our land? Was it not that resistance that kept five million Palestinians still living in our historic homeland despite the most sophisticated power structure of any colonial history in the last 500 years?
And why do some of us (humans that is, all humans) despair or even collaborate with the enemies of peace and justice? For Israelis and those who want to live in peace, would it not be better to get educated about the original injustice of ethnic cleansing and begin the process of true reconciliation and restorative justice? For Zionized Western media, why do you think you can keep a lid on the anger of and keep oppressing the aspirations of 10 million Palestinians, 300 million Arabs, 1.5 billion Muslims, and nearly 6 billion human beings who aspire for JUSTICE with peace? Why do you consider war a solution to anything?
Among Palestinians, did we not always find older generations that got tired and wanted to fold or at least wanted to hold the younger generation from stepping forward to take responsibility? Isn’t it the time to drop everything and gather as PALESTINIANS (not as faction or political ideologies or competing Palestinians for positions and visibility), every day, speak to each other in humility and in brotherhood/sisterhood to resolve the differences? Can’t we all pick up the phone and email others and simply invite them for a physical meeting and if not possible virtual meeting? And for those who are not Palestinians, what can you do to ensure such reconciliation happen and that you are not helping divisions but helping unity? For all of us, the question remains whether to light a candle or curse the dark.
Other links and resources
The Jewish ethical tradition means embracing Palestinians, too.
(In Arabic) Azmi Bshara analyzes the current situation