Category Archives: Borderlands

on visas

so i have been getting settled in amman. i have moved yet again. hopefully this will be the last time for a while. it was a very difficult decision for me to leave palestine, though it is one i made some time ago. ultimately, one of my prime motivations for leaving the u.s. was not not be a taxpayer there any longer so as not to contribute to the u.s. machine of death, theft, destruction in palestine, iraq, afghanistan, pakistan, we can add honduras now, who knows where we’ll have to add next. ultimately i knew that i could not stay in palestine forever given that foreigners (i.e., not palestinians; read: zionist colonist terrorists) control the borders and they get to play a game with the lives of all people who cross over into palestine whether they are originally palestinian or not. i’ve long heard stories and received emails–some from friends and comrades, others from complete strangers–about being denied entry. about being allowed limited entry, in terms of time. about three weeks before i left a friend of mine left for amman to renew her visa. she’s finishing up research for her dissertation and living in ramallah. she came back and said she had only a few days and she had to leave again. not only could she only stay one week (in lieu of the normal three month visa granted to foreigners at the malak hussein bridge), but she was granted a west bank only visa. this was the first time i had heard of such a thing. but it turns out that it was quickly becoming a phenomenon. and there have been a number of articles written about it since:

new west bank-only visa stamp from the zionist terrorist colonists

new west bank-only visa stamp from the zionist terrorist colonists

first there was an article by toufic haddad laying out this issue in the faster times:

“Palestinian Authority only” greatly restricts this freedom of movement, and thus undoes the former arrangement. It essentially precludes travel to areas of pre-1967 Israel, as well as to Israeli controlled areas in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem….

Israel exercises full control over 59 percent of the West Bank – areas known as “Area C.”

It further exercises security control over an additional 24 percent of the West Bank (Area B) with the Palestinian Authority [PA] in control of civil affairs there.

The only area which the PA nominally controls in full, and which a holder of this stamp is thus presumably eligible to travel to, is Area A. The latter comprises the remaining 17 percent of the West Bank.

Area A however is not composed of one territorial unit, but is divided into thirteen non-contiguous areas….

Israel’s travel restrictions to PA areas are somewhat contradictory. Visitors can seemingly travel to Area As but must do so by crossing Israeli controlled areas (Area C). This means that visitors have the right to hop between different Area A ‘islands’, but can’t be caught in between.

Moreover, the very restriction on travel is equivalent to a country issuing a visa to a specific area of its country, but not to the whole country. A parallel might be the U.S. issuing a visa only to majority-black Harlem in Manhattan, or the Mashantucket Pequot reservation in Connecticut.

This happens to violate the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement (also known as “Oslo II” or “Taba”) which states that “Tourists to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from countries having diplomatic relations with Israel, who have passed through an international crossing, will not be required to pass any additional entry control before entry into Israel.” (Annex 1, Article IX “Movement Into, Within and Outside the West Bank and the Gaza Strip” 2 (e))

later the palestine chronicle reported that an official decision had been made about these new visa rules:

Israel’s tourism ministry on Monday slammed the interior ministry for enacting new restrictions that would prevent foreigners from visiting both Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The measure, which was quietly enacted earlier this year, forces arriving visitors to choose between a visa for Israel and one for the Palestinian territories, potentially preventing them from traveling to both.

“This decision taken by the interior ministry causes significant damage to Israel’s image and to incoming tourism for those tourists who visit the holy sites in the Palestinian Authority,” the tourism ministry said in a statement.

It demanded that the matter be discussed in the Knesset, or parliament, which is currently on summer recess.

A spokeswoman for the interior ministry would not immediately comment.

The U.S. consulate in Jerusalem has posted a message on its website informing travelers of the new visa stamp being issued at Ben Gurion Airport and the Allenby crossing with Jordan that permits travel only in the West Bank.

“Anyone indicating that they either have connections to the West Bank or are planning to travel to the West Bank may get this stamp, which does not permit them to enter into (or, in the case of Ben Gurion, return to) green-line Israel,” it says.

in most countries, like here in jordan, when you are hired as a foreigner they don’t make you live as a tourist leaving the country every three months as the foreign zionist terrorist colonists do. people who work in palestine–some of whom are palestinian with foreign passports–have to do that. they have to leave every three months. i got lucky in that an najah university was able to get me a six month visa for my last semester. but that is also at the whim of what the zionists decide and completely random. there was no telling if i’d ever be able to get one again. and as the piece above makes clear it is possible that if i received a visa i’d have to decide which side of the zionist drawn green line would i be on. of course it would be on the side with the west bank. that would mean i would not be able to visit the u.s. consulate if i needed anything, nor would i be able to go to the zionist terrorist colonist interior ministry if i wanted to challenge such a thing because all such offices are in al quds, which has been annexed and stolen by them. but i also experienced this sort of visa issue this summer. i was having coffee with a friend in al quds and her friend called from qalandia checkpoint. he was palestinian canadian, originally from yaffa, visiting palestine for the first time. the zionist terrorist colonists at the checkpoint tore up his visa, which was on a separate paper inside his passport, because since he flew into their airport on the occupied land of lydd, he could no go back to “israel.” they said he left and went to another country so he could not return. we went to qalandia to pick him up and smuggle him out so he could challenge this, get a new visa, and report it to the canadian embassy (though unlike the americans, the canadians have offices in the west bank).

then last week a european woman (she did not identify herself exactly, but i have a feeling she is irish and that i have seen her before) emailed me to tell me that she could not get back into palestine at all. she said she was also a professor, although at bethlehem university, and that she was denied entry altogether. the chronicle of higher education ran a piece last week documenting the effect of the visa situation in palestine on academics by matthew kalman (thanks aneil) and i think the irish woman in the piece is the one who emailed me:

Israel has clamped down on the movement of foreign academics teaching at Palestinian universities in the West Bank, barring some from entering the region altogether or stamping “Palestinian Authority only” in the passports of others, preventing them from entering Israel.

An English-language instructor from Ireland who taught for several years at the Arab American University, in Jenin, was refused entry on August 23 when she returned to the West Bank to take up a new position at Bethlehem University and is now unable to teach. A Canadian instructor of Iranian descent was given the “Palestinian Authority only” stamp when he arrived on Sunday to teach at the Arab American University’s English Language Center. A British lecturer in Middle East politics had to cancel a planned lecture at Birzeit University this year after she was denied entry by Israeli immigration officials.

The Irish instructor, who asked not to be named, said she had been teaching English at the Arab American University since 2007. Although the Israeli authorities refused to issue her a work permit, in the past they had always accepted her employment contract and extended her tourist visa to the contract’s end date.

She left the West Bank for Jordan on August 20 and returned via the Allenby Bridge, which connects the West Bank with Jordan, on August 23, with 11 days left on her visa.

“I was due to take up a new position at Bethlehem University on August 24. I had a letter from the university on official paper, but it was all very different this time,” she told The Chronicle from Jordan, where she was stranded. “I was kept waiting for four hours and then the immigration officer started screaming at me about a lack of work permit.”

After lengthy interrogation by a plainclothes security officer and an Israeli Ministry of the Interior official, she was photographed, fingerprinted, and told her request to enter was denied.

“It is greatly to be regretted, she was a valued employee,” said Graham Stott, chair of the department of modern languages at the Arab American University.

Mr. Stott said several lecturers who were allowed in were issued visas restricting them to the Palestinian Authority areas only.

“For some the restrictive visa is not problematic because they are here to work in Jenin, and they are quite happy to leave via Jordan and so it doesn’t really affect them. For others who had planned to visit Israel it seriously compromises their position and their ability to do research,” Mr. Stott said.

Information for travelers posted on the Web site of the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem confirms the recent change in policy.

“Anyone indicating that they either have connections to the West Bank or are planning to travel to the West Bank, may get this stamp,” which does not permit them to enter into or return to Israel. “The Consulate can do nothing to assist in getting this visa status changed,” the Web site states. It is not clear when or why the new visas were introduced. The Israeli Defense Ministry directed all inquiries to the coordinator of Israeli government activities in the territories. A spokesman for the coordinator directed inquiries to the country’s Interior Ministry, where a spokesperson did not return calls seeking comment.

The new visa being stamped in tourists’ passports has been criticized for unfairly limiting the movements of visitors with Palestinian relatives or friends, whose first stop may be the West Bank but who intend to visit Israel as well. Many Americans of Palestinian origin but who lack Palestinian passports have been turned back on arrival at Ben Gurion Airport and told they can enter only from Jordan via the Allenby Bridge.

Hanadi Abu-Taha, administrative assistant at the Arabic-language-teaching program at Birzeit University, told The Chronicle that two American students and one Japanese student were turned back at the Jordanian-Israeli border at the end of August.

“None of them is from a Palestinian background. Students who came through Ben Gurion Airport managed to enter, but those who came through the land crossing from Jordan were refused. We don’t know why,” Miss Taha said.

“Because of the visa problems we have shortened the semester from four to three months, which is the length of the Israeli tourist visa. It is causing major disruption,” she said.

Toufic Haddad, a Palestinian-American activist who revealed the new policy on his blog in early August said the new visa was a violation of the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Agreement (known as the Oslo II Accords), which allows for most foreign tourists to pass from the West Bank and Gaza Strip into Israel.

“Most visiting faculty have been granted a one-year single-entry visa if they are associated with an educational institution, but some haven’t,” said Salwa Duaibis, coordinator of the Right to Enter Campaign, a group advocating unfettered access to the Palestinian Authority areas. “I have a feeling there isn’t much effort put into making sure the regulations are understood by the police at the border.”

Ms. Duaibis said that foreign students enter on tourist visas and can be forced to leave after three months. “Universities cannot plan their academic year properly and neither students nor professors can rely on the arrangement 100 percent,” she said.

here is also a report by sherine tadros on al jazeera about this growing problem in palestine, especially for people who are palestinian foreign passport holders or who have familial ties to palestinians in the west bank:

i haven’t tried to go back yet since i left a month and a half ago. but i hope that i can at least get in so i can go to deheishe. for those who are already dealing with being denied a visa by the foreign occupier, i strongly recommend you check out the right to enter campaign’s website, as mentioned above in the chronicle article. they are very helpful and they have a lot of new resources on their website about this new way of the zionist terrorist colonists creating new facts on the ground. and these facts, jonathan cook reminds us in electronic intifada, are a kind of gazification of visa rules in the west bank:

In an echo of restrictions already firmly in place in Gaza, Israel has begun barring movement between Israel and the West Bank for those holding a foreign passport, including humanitarian aid workers and thousands of Palestinian residents.

The new policy is designed to force foreign citizens, mainly from North America and Europe, to choose between visiting Israel — including East Jerusalem, which Israel has annexed illegally — and the West Bank.

The new regulation is in breach of Israel’s commitments under the Oslo accords to Western governments that their citizens would be given continued access to the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Israel has not suggested there are any security justifications for the new restriction.

Palestinian activists point out that the rule is being enforced selectively by Israel, which is barring foreign citizens of Palestinian origin from access to Israel and East Jerusalem while actively encouraging European and American Jews to settle in the West Bank.

US diplomats, who are aware of the policy, have raised no objections.

Additionally, human rights groups complain that the rule change will further separate East Jerusalem, the planned capital of a Palestinian state, from the West Bank. It is also expected to increase the pressures on families where one member holds a foreign passport to leave the region and to disrupt the assistance aid organizations are able to give Palestinians.

According to observers, the regulation was introduced quietly three months ago at the Allenby Bridge terminal on the border with Jordan, the only international crossing point for Palestinians in the West Bank. Israeli officials, who control the border, now issue foreign visitors with a visa for the “Palestinian Authority only,” preventing them from entering Israel and East Jerusalem.

Interior ministry officials say a similar policy is being adopted at Ben Gurion, Israel’s international airport near Tel Aviv, to bar holders of foreign passports who arrive via this route from reaching the West Bank. Foreign citizens, especially those with Palestinian ancestry, are being turned away and told to seek entry via the Allenby Bridge.

Gaza has long been off-limits to any Palestinian who is not resident there and has been effectively closed to Israelis and most foreigners since early 2006, when Israel began its blockade.

and that is what an apartheid visa system looks like.

turning point 3

i’m wondering what the first two turning points were. the last few days i’ve heard war games in the sky above beit lahem. all day long i’ve heard ominous war planes testing out the zionist entity’s doomsday scenario. here is an al jazeera report on the “defense” strategy it is testing, though for those of us here we know better; this is clearly a test for its next offensive strike:

Turning Point 3 comes just two weeks after the Israeli air force wrapped up a four-day exercise testing its ability to defend against strikes from Syria and Iran.

Israel believes Iran is developing nuclear weapons and has not ruled out a military strike on the country in response.

Iran says its nuclear programme is only for energy production.

Jacky Rowland, Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem correspondent, said that while Israel claims that the drill has “no special significance”, it is likely to be seen in the context of “Israel’s sabre-rattling towards Iran and also towards other neighbouring Arab countries”.

“It was only a couple of weeks ago that Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu was in Washington and he was really pushing the question of Iran and its perceived nuclear threat really to the top of the agenda of his talks with President [Barack] Obama,” she said.

“So, although Israel is saying that this is a defensive drill and it is really practising its ability to defend its civilians against attack from outside, inevitably it has to be interpreted by Israel’s Arab neighbours – and indeed the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank – as a warning, a not so subtle warning of Israel’s offensive capacities to strike should these circumstances arise.”

al jazeera’s “inside story” with kamahl santamaria had a discussion of this series of tests this week and its effect on the various regional players who will be subjected to these weapons in the zionist entity’s next attack:

of course any such impending war must be understood as a joint u.s.-zionist war on the palestinians, lebanese, syrians, iranians in the region given that the obama administration promises to continue funding and supplying the zionist terrorist army as saed bannoura reports:

Robert Wood, US State Department deputy spokesperson, stated Monday that he would not comment on the Times report regarding intentions of the Obama administration to condition its support to Israel with freezing the settlements, but added that the US would maintain its support to Israel in the United Nations.

Wood stated that President Barack Obama and his administration are clear in their stance that all parties involved in the Middle East Peace Process should maintain their obligations to ensure successful peace talks.

He also said that the United States has long worked to ensure that Israel receives what he described as “fair treatment” in the United Nations, and that his country will continue doing so.

Wood further said that Israel is a close friend and ally to the United States, and that the US will remain committed to Israel’s security.

ghassan bannoura reported that there were war sirens going off in 1948 palestine, although here in beit sahour we can only hear the planes overhead. while the zionist entity maintains that this is about “defense” there are many of us who see this as aggression:

According to the Israeli military, the training exercise is meant to prepare the Israeli military and the entire population for a regional war. Sergio Yanni, an Israeli political analyst, told IMEMC the exercise is aimed for butting Israelis in a state of fear.

“The People In Israel after the war in Lebanon and in Gaza don’t buy so much anymore the question that there is a real threat on Israel, there is a big discussion over how much the army should be budgeted, the objective of this drill is for internal propaganda to make people feel that Israel is in a situation of war, we can’t exclude a possible attack on Lebanon or Gaza in the near future this is a permanent question.” Sergio Yanni said.

The exercise comes in the midst of increasing Israeli rhetoric against Iran, and a statement just last week by the Israeli military that the Lebanese Hezbollah group now has possession of more rockets than it did before the 2006 war- although that statement was not backed up with any evidence.

The drill also includes training in how to repress the Palestinian population in the West Bank, Gaza and inside Israel during the three-front scenario. Faouzi Barhum, spokesman of the ruling Hamas party in Gaza told IMEMC via phone that the exercise is a form of attack.

“At first this military exercise could be considered as an attack, because it is to show the military criminal machine that killed children in Gaza and Lebanon, those drills could become a war at any time, because we expect everything from the occupation, it is clear that the division and state of salience among the Arabs have encouraged the Zionist regime of doing this military exercise.” Barhum told IMEMC.

al jazeera reports how this is perceived by others in the region as the zionist entity rationalizes its desire for perpetual justification for war and aggression:

Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros, reporting from Beersheva, where some of the drills were taking place, said there has been criticism from rights groups inside Israel about the exercises.

“They say it is all part of the militarisation of Israeli society and a way to perpetuate the idea of an ongoing war and ongoing fight that Israel is carrying out against the rest of the world,” she said.

“This has been subject to a lot of criticism because it in some way justifies Israel’s brutal force and the security measures it takes against the Palestinians.”

Israel began its national drills in the aftermath of the July-August 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, which revealed major weaknesses in how Israel dealt with the rocket attacks on its territory.

This year’s exercise comes just days before Lebanon holds a closely-fought election that could see the Hezbollah-led opposition become the new government.

The drills will also coincide with a regional tour by Barack Obama, the US president.

Israel is under pressure from the US to accept a Palestinian state, but it has also voiced fears of a strong Hezbollah in Lebanon and a strong Hamas in Gaza.

Alastair Crooke, director of the Conflict Forum in Beirut, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that there is a sense in the Arab world that Israel is looking toward the right for new solutions to its security concerns.

“It’s the sense of unwillingness for many Israeli leaders to see a Palestinian state pushed on it, at a time when Hamas is strong and when Hezbollah may be getting stronger, When America may be talking to Syria and talking to Iran at the same time,” he said.

“This leaves policy makers in Israel quite nervous and looking for ways to change the political paradigm in a way that will advance the Israeli sense of security.”

and, of course, given that the zionist entity is an apartheid regime, it is the colonists have access to bomb shelters and sirens; palestinians in 1948 palestine, for the most part, do not as saed bannoura reports:

A study conducted and released by the “Mubadarah” Israeli-Arab Rights group, revealed that 70% of the Arabs living in northern Israel do not have shelters or safe rooms, and the 25% of them do not have emergency sirens.

The reported also revealed that 80% of the Arab villages in Israel are not equipped to handle any crisis situation; this includes any sort of military escalation, missile strikes or even a natural disaster Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported.

Haaretz added that 75% of the residents of Nazareth, the largest Arab city in the country, have no access to private shelters, and the 99% of the residents of the Arava area do not have any access to shelters.

The report found that in many of the Arab communities included in the study, the safest places were schools, although they are not built to function as shelters.

It also revealed that in most of the mixed cities, where Arabs and Israelis live, Arab neighborhoods are not equipped to face emergency situations.

The study was conducted as Israel’s so-called Home Front Command of the Israeli military conducted a nation-wide week-long drill to test Israel’s readiness for war or catastrophe.

Part of the drill was testing 2300 sirens and also included requesting to citizens to hide in secure rooms for 10 minutes.

and, of course, it is not just the planning for its next war that is in our midst. it is the ongoing war, particularly the zionist terrorist army’s war against palestinians in gaza as saed bannoura reports about palestinian injuries today:

The Al Aqsa brigades, the armed wing of Fateh movement, reported that two of its fighters were wounded on Wednesday at dawn during clashes with Israeli forces near the Al Hawouz area, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

The brigades added that the two injured fighters were moved to a local hospital.

It stated that its fighters clashes with Israeli forces operating in northern Gaza, and added that the fighters will counter all Israeli assaults and will retaliate to “the ongoing Israeli crimes in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip”.

The brigades also claimed responsibility for firing thee RPG shells, on Tuesday evening, at a number of Israeli tanks located near the Gaza border.

it is not only palestinian people who are attacked with american-made weapons in the hands of zionist terrorist colonists. it is also palestinian land which is under attack, land which under normal circumstances would provide the food to sustain palestinian people in gaza. erin cunningham’s report in the christian science monitor on the ever-enlarging so-called “buffer zone” inside the gaza strip affects palestinian farmers from producing food and is a part of the on-going savaging of gaza:

Farmers and their families have been displaced, too afraid to return to their fields, while international humanitarian organizations are unable to make an assessment of the needs and damages of the area in the aftermath of the assault.

“We haven’t been able to visit this area. No organization has,” says Mohammed al-Shattali, project manager for the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in the Gaza Strip.

“The war increased the amount of land destroyed, particularly in the border areas, and the farmers can’t replant anything because it’s too dangerous,” he says. “The Israeli soldiers, they shoot at everything – dogs, sheep. They are very tense.”

An Israeli-imposed buffer zone in the already narrow enclave was established more than a decade ago to thwart attacks by Palestinian militants, who use the border areas to launch homemade rockets at Israeli towns or dig tunnels to carry out attacks against IDF troops stationed at the border.

But what was previously just a sliver of fortified land on the strip’s northern and eastern perimeters now, in the aftermath of Israel’s January offensive in the territory, swallows roughly 30 percent of Gaza’s arable farmland, according to the FAO.

It stretches as deep as 1.25 miles inside Gaza’s territory in the north and half a mile in the east, despite the 300-meter figure declared on the leaflets, the organization says. Gaza is just 25 miles long and slightly more than six miles wide.

you can see how this affects palestinian farmers on the blog farming under fire and here is a video encapsulating the experience of palestinians under attack by zionist terrorists every day:

but of course these war planes flying above our head, creating a kind of psychological terrorism for people living in palestine who have to hear this throughout the day, are not yet flying over our neighbors in lebanon and syria. nevertheless the fact that the last month or so has seen an extraordinary number of zionist spies in lebanon raises questions about things to come. al jazeera reported on more spies arrested this week:

Lebanon has charged four people with collaborating with Israel, raising to 23 the number of suspected spies who have been charged in the last few months, a court official has said.

Saqr Saqr, the military prosecutor charged the four men on Saturday with providing Israel with information about civilian and military positions and political figures.

General Jean Kahwaji, the Lebanese army commander, vowed to continue the crackdown against Israeli spies in a speech to troops on Saturday, Lebanon’s state news agency reported.

and now as ma’an news reports even an egyptian man has been arrested in lebanon because he has been helping his zionist colonist terrorist friends by spying on them in lebanon:

Lebanon has charged nine more people with spying for Israel, raising the number of formally accused collaborators to 35.

Lebanon’s National News Agency reported on Tuesday that military prosecutor Saqr Saqr charged the nine with collaboration and giving information to Israel about military and civilian installations and political figures, according to AP.

Separately, an Egyptian man and a Lebanese have been arrested for spying, security sources told AP.

video footage of cultural genocide in al quds (UPDATED)

here is the palestine literature festival video from yesterday. it is a short 4 minute video but definitely a must watch. they filmed in places that i am really shocked by, including the jordanian-palestinian border (under zionist control, of course). for those of you who have been reading my blog for a while and have read about my own journeys there you can get a little sense of it. and you can see suheir and ahmed–the last ones to get through, but al hamdulilah they got through! also, you can see footage of the israeli terrorist forces shutting the festival down last night:

UPDATE: in the video you’ll see egyptian writer ahdaf soueif speaking about what was going on yesterday. here is her blog entry on the festival website about the first day:

At the Allenby Bridge we sat down and waited.

Oddly, our Jordanian guide on the bus from Amman kept assuring us that we would hand over all our passports in one go, together with our ‘manifest’ (that’s the list of travellers with their passport numbers, rather like a bill of lading) and ‘our neighbours’ as he kept calling the Israelis would let us through in 3 minutes! Well, we were 21 people in the group queuing up at 11 am. Sixteen got through inside an hour but the rest were held behind. This being Saturday the bridge was due to close at 4.00. At 4.00 they let the remaining 5 through.

In Jerusalem we had a 45 minute turnaround time to shower and get into our heels and make-up – well, some of us, anyway, and head for our Opening Night at the Palestinian National Theatre. We walked down Ibn Khaldun Street. The weather was brilliant, it was 6 o’clock and the stone houses glowed in the dipping sunlight. The National Theatre is like treasure; it’s hidden behind a very ordinary-looking row of houses, you walk through a café, turn a corner and – there it is. Its courtyard always looked hospitable; tonight it looked festive. Our Palestinian partners, Yabous Productions, and our advance party, had done us proud: there was a long table with canapés, and all sorts of delicious goodies, there were fresh fruit juices, and a sumptuous bouquet of blue iris and white roses. Munzer Fahmi, from the American Colony Bookshop had set up his trestle tables and was already selling the works of the PALFEST authors.

I saw 10 old friends in the first minute, all the Jerusalem cultural and academic set were there, a lot of Internationals, a lot of Press. We stood in the early evening light, by the tables laden with books and food and flowers, nibbled at kofta and borek and laughed and chatted and introduced new friends to old.

Rania Elias and Khaled el-Ghoul from Yabous started calling us in. Everyone moved towards and into the foyer. Someone clapped for silence and Nazmi al-Ju’beh, Chair of the Board of Yabous gave a brief welcome speech. Then we started moving towards the auditorium and I heard someone say quietly “They’ve come.”
“Who?” Looking around – and there they were; the men in the dark blue fatigues, with pack-type things strapped to their backs and machine-guns cradled in their arms. I had a moment of unbelief. Surely, even if they were coming to note everything we said and to make a show of strength they still wouldn’t come with their weapons at the ready like this? But then there were more of them, and more … “They’re going to close us down.”
“No!”
“Yes. They have. They’ve closed us down. Look!”
Some people were already in the auditorium. The Theatre manager was telling them they had to leave. People – our audience, our writers – were surging backwards and forwards:
“let’s go into the auditorium..”
“Let them carry us out each one ..”
“If they get you inside the auditorium they’ll close the doors and beat the hell out of you ..”
“Let’s go outside and start the event on the street ..
“What’s happening? What’s happening?

Throughout all this the 15 or so Israeli soldiers held their positions and their weapons – how they, or their leader, made their will known to the Palestinians I did not see.

As we stepped outside and I started wondering whether we should just kick off right there on the courtyard of the theatre or whether we might actually get beaten someone said ‘we’ll go to the French Cultural Centre.” The French Cultural Attaché was in the audience and he had offered to host the event.

We started walking down Salah el-Din street towards the French Cultural Centre. I looked behind me and there was the Festival: a brightly-dressed, ornamented procession of authors and audience strolling along Salah el-Din Street, chatting and laughing and cradling in their arms trays of baclaveh and kibbeh and salads and bouquets of flowers.

We sat on the raised patio of the French Cultural Centre and our audience sat and stood in the garden. Henning Mankell spoke of how his involvement with Africa makes him a better European. Some workmen engaged on the first floor of the house next door paused to listen. Birds swept through their goodnight flight around us. Deborah Moggach spoke about children and the changing shape of the family. A cat shared the stage with us for a brief moment. Audience and authors were engaged and the energy flowed from the patio to the garden. Carmen Callil spoke about her Lebanese grandfather in Australia. A wedding party passed honking its horns outside. Abdulrazak Gurnah, M G Vassanji and Claire Messud read from their work. When the sunset prayers were called the audience started asking and commenting and suggesting. We could have gone on for hours – but we stopped at half past eight. We dispersed; energised, happy, shaking hands, signing books, promising to all meet up again.

Today, my friends, we saw the clearest example of our mission: to confront the culture of power with the power of culture.

and here is rory mccarthy’s report on it in the guardian today:

Armed Israeli police close theatre on first night of Palestinian festival.

Officers walk in to Palestinian National Theatre in east Jerusalem and order it to be closed on opening night of literary event

Armed Israeli police last night tried to halt the opening night of a prominent Palestinian literary festival in Jerusalem when they ordered a Palestinian theatre to close.

The week-long festival, supported by the British council and Unesco, has brought several high-profile international authors – among them Henning Mankell, Michael Palin and Ahdaf Soueif – on a speaking tour of Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Shortly before the opening event was due to begin, a squad of around a dozen Israeli border police walked into the Palestinian National Theatre, in east Jerusalem, and ordered it to be closed.

The police brought a letter from the Israeli interior ministry which said the event could not be held because it was a political activity connected to the Palestinian Authority.

Members of the audience and the eight speakers were ordered to leave, but the event was held several minutes later, on a smaller scale, in the garden of the nearby French Cultural Centre.

Israeli police were deployed on the street outside.

“We’re so taken aback. It’s is completely, completely independent,” Egyptian novelist Soueif, who is chairing the Palestine Festival of Literature, said.

“I think it’s very telling,” she told the crowd at the French centre. “Our motto, which is taken from the late Edward Said, is to pit the power of culture against the culture of power.”

Israel regularly prevents political Palestinian events in east Jerusalem, but has recently also started to clamp down on cultural events in an apparent attempt to extend control over the city.

The development comes at a time of growing international concern over the Israeli government’s demolition of Palestinian homes and the continued growth of Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem.

In March, the Israeli authorities banned a series of Palestinian cultural events in Jerusalem, including a children’s march, intended to mark the Arab League’s designation of Jerusalem as the capital of Arab culture for this year.

Israel said the events breached its ban on Palestinian political activity.

Earlier this month, Israeli police closed down a Palestinian press centre that had been established in east Jerusalem for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI.

Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 war and later annexed it – a move not recognised by the international community.

Mankell, a Swedish crime novelist, told the crowd at Saturday’s event: “Don’t lose hope.”

He compared the raid to life in South Africa under apartheid and added: “What really makes us human beings is our capacity for dialogue.

“The only way we can save ourselves finally in the end is the capacity for making dialogue with each other.”

The festival will stage events in the West Bank cities of Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron and Jenin this week before returning to the same Palestinian theatre in east Jerusalem on Thursday night for a final event, although that also appears at risk of being closed.

The mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, has frequently dismissed criticism of Israeli policies in the city.

Last week, on the day Israel celebrated the 42nd anniversary of its capture of east Jerusalem, his office issued a statement describing criticism as “distorted and erroneous and accompanied by much disinformation and irresponsible provocation”.

It said house demolition policies were implemented “without discrimination” in all parts of the city, and that Barkat was promoting construction and education in the east.

“Mayor Barkat sees great importance in raising the standard of living and the quality of life in the east of the city and this after many years of neglect,” the statement said.

However, Rafiq Husseini, the chief of staff to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, who was in last night’s audience, was dismissive of the Israeli actions.

“It shows how the Israelis are not thinking, he said. “This is a cultural event. There is no terrorism, there is nobody shooting. It’s just a cultural event.

“They are creating enemies for themselves.”

the congo, palestine, and colonialisms

about a month ago i learned about a new blog called stealth conflicts. on it a blogger named virgil hawkins covers the uncoverable–the news stories about conflicts that the media only rarely produce stories about. what first caught my eye was a note someone posted in facebook with the following entry from this blog:

Forget the series of Christmas massacres by the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in eastern DRC that left more than 400 dead (including more than 45 killed in a church) and the coalition of countries in the region trying to hunt them down. Forget the deadly clashes with Congolese rebels poised to take over the city of Goma. Forget Somalia, where the Ethiopian forces that invaded (with US assistance) two years ago are being forced by local resistance forces to pack and leave. Forget all of these conflicts, because violence has broken out again in Israel-Palestine.

The latest conflagration of violence in Israel-Palestine continues to dominate international news around the world. The details of who is attacking who with what, how many people have died (down to single digit figures), and how many of them were women and children, together with in-depth political analysis and a touch of humanitarian concern are all fed through the newspapers, television, radio and internet news outlets on a daily basis. And all with the utmost care to avoid displeasing lobby groups that will rain down thousands of e-mails, telephone calls and letters (flak) upon the unfortunate media corporation suspected of even the slightest bias (and possibly revoke their advertising contracts).

The Israel-Palestine conflict is a ‘chosen’ conflict. It always is. It has the rare privilege of being the focus of saturated attention every time there is a conflagration (despite the fact that the conflict is not occurring in a ‘white’ Western country, and despite the fact that the USA is not a direct belligerent in the conflict – always sure factors for a conflict to attract soaring levels of attention). Explaining why this is so would take a book or two, but let’s just scratch the surface here. Politicians in much of the Western world obsess about the issue, largely because a significant amount of their election campaign contributions seem to depend on their favourable attention in many cases. Politicians in much of the Muslim world do likewise, because standing up against the oppression of Muslims at the hands of Israel is much more popular than standing up against the oppression of Muslims at the hands of anyone else. The fact that the conflict region is considered the ‘Holy Land’ by Muslims, Jews and Christians helps cement this process.

For media corporations, providing saturation coverage of the conflict is nothing short of automatic. What is considered important by media corporations is based largely on what the policymakers at home consider to be important, almost by default. Keeping reporters close to those making foreign policy at home is much cheaper than sending them all over the world to independently gather news. In the competitive media business, budgets are better spent on packaging and presenting news than actually gathering it. Furthermore, for media corporations that have little newsgathering capacity (and oddly, even for those that do), the news value of a story is often determined by what leading media corporations (like the New York Times) think it should be. In this environment of follow-the-leader (policymakers and leading media corporations) and pack journalism, having a reporter in Africa is optional, having one in Israel-Palestine is not. Once the reporter is stationed there, ‘fresh’ coverage of the issue on demand is cheap and easy (far more so than actually sending someone to far-away and logistically challenging Africa to cover something after it happens).

Because of the combination of follow-the-leader, pack journalism, and lack of newsgathering capacity, this state of affairs can be seen spreading to the rest of the world as well. Japan has no cultural or religious affinity with Israel-Palestine, and its politicians are not reliant on campaign contributions from pro-Israeli lobby groups, yet its media corporations follow the Western leaders in devoting heavy coverage to the issue. Even locally-focused news programs that rarely have any time for foreign affairs issues make sure to include news of the latest conflagration in their bulletins. With little budget for foreign newsgathering, Zambia’s leading newspaper (the Post) buys its world news from foreign news agencies. The result is that it gives more coverage to the situation in Israel-Palestine than it does to the eight countries on Zambia’s border combined. In the year 2004, for example, it devoted 9 percent of its foreign coverage to Israel-Palestine, but only 4 percent to all of Zambia’s eight neighbours.

On top of this, things have always been this way, so they tend to stay that way. Israel-Palestine has always been considered important, and ‘important’ people think it is, so it must be important. Groups (interest/lobby) and individuals with a special interest in the conflict in Israel-Palestine are also well-positioned to continue the process of drawing copious amounts of attention to the conflict, in political spheres and in the ownership of prominent media corporations. Africa, on the other hand, has not been considered important (for a variety of separate reasons that will be dealt with in another post), and therefore no one knows about it, and therefore it is not important. It becomes a vicious cycle.

The public, who remain largely at the mercy of the media corporations in obtaining morsels of information about the outside world, seem to end up with the same distorted view of the world. In a simple classroom survey conducted of 37 Australian university students (studying in a course on war and peace no less) in 2003, the conflict in Israel-Palestine was the most common answer (9 respondents) to the question of which conflict in the world they thought had been the deadliest since the end of the Cold War. Only one of the 37 could even name the conflict in the DRC as one of the world’s deadliest conflicts, and that was at third place behind Israel-Palestine and Afghanistan. In a similar survey conducted of 151 university students in Japan in 2008, not a single one could name the DRC as the world’s deadliest conflict. Fourteen students, on the other hand, thought that the conflict in Israel-Palestine was world’s deadliest, coming in at third place behind Iraq and Kosovo.

This is despite the fact that the virtually unknown conflict in the DRC is 1,000 times deadlier than that in Israel-Palestine. And I don’t mean that figuratively, it is literally 1,000 times deadlier – the death toll from conflict in the DRC since 1998 is roughly 6 million, while the death toll from conflict in Israel-Palestine since 2000 is roughly 6 thousand. At least 38 conflicts since the end of the Cold War have been deadlier than that in Israel-Palestine. Put simply, while these surveys are limited in their scope, they suggest that collectively, the general public has no idea about the state of conflict in the world. Their perspective on which conflicts are the largest and deadliest is so skewed that the reality is unrecognizable. But who can blame them, considering the horribly unbalanced diet of media they feed on. I invite you to try out simple surveys like this (“Which conflict in the world do you think has been the deadliest since the end of the Cold War?”) with those around you.

In some ways, I almost regret writing this post, because I am becoming part of the very bandwagon that I am discussing – by writing about why the issue is important, I am inadvertently boosting the attention it receives… But some discussion of the issue of ‘chosen’ conflicts is also necessary in order for the discussion of ‘stealth’ conflicts to make sense.

i quote his blog entry in full, which i think i have quoted from before, because it raises some really important points that bear repeating. i do not write about the conflict in the drc as often as i would like to, though i do follow the news from the congo as best i can. it is not that i think the conflict doesn’t need more people writing about it, it is just that living in palestine means that you are constantly confronted with israeli terrorism every day and this affects, if not me, certainly my students, friends, people i care about. it is hard sometimes to think of the way hawkins talks about the coverage of palestine in the world media because most of it is a distorted, warped view of reality. but i also think it should not be about covering one story and not the other; i think both should be covered vigorously. and there are many parallels to both, particularly western interests in maintaining colonial or neocolonial powers over these two countries. here is a video that hawkins made raising some of these same questions about why we know so little about the conflict in the drc.

kambale musavuli of friends of the congo wrote an article in the san francisco bay view news this week about the neocolonial interests in the congo in ways that should wake up americans and europeans alike in ways akin to palestine. with both conflicts we are fueling the bloodshed through state and corporate neocolonial policies, though as hawkins shows in his film and article this is way off the radar screen. too, a friend of mine who is a photojournalist and who goes to the congo regularly, and who has also covered palestine, once told me a story about congolese people asking about palestine. after he told them about it they all thought that it sounded like their situation; the people told him that this is just like what rwanda is doing to the congo. here is musavuli’s assessment:

Since Rwanda and Uganda invaded the Congo in 1996, they have pursued a plan to appropriate the wealth of Eastern Congo either directly or through proxy forces. The December 2008 United Nations report is the latest in a series of U.N. reports dating from 2001 that clearly documents the systematic looting and appropriation of Congolese resources by Rwanda and Uganda, two of Washington and London’s staunchest allies in Africa.

However, in the wake of the December 2008 report, which clearly documents Rwanda’s support of destabilizing proxy forces inside the Congo, a series of stunning proposals and actions have been presented which all appear to be an attempt to cover up or bury the damning U.N. report on the latest expression of Rwanda’s aggression against the Congolese people.

The earliest proposal came from Herman Cohen, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs under George Herbert Walker Bush. He proposed that Rwanda be rewarded for its well documented looting of Congo’s wealth by being a part of a Central and/or East African free trade zone whereby Rwanda would keep its ill-gotten gains.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy would not be outdone; he also brought his proposal off the shelf, which argues for essentially the same scheme of rewarding Rwanda for its 12-year war booty from the Congo. Two elements are at the core of both proposals.

One is the legitimization of the economic annexation of the Congo by Rwanda, which for all intents and purposes represents the status quo. And two is basically the laying of the foundation for the balkanization of the Congo or the outright political annexation of Eastern Congo by Rwanda. Both Sarkozy and Cohen have moved with lightning speed past the Dec. 12, 2008, United Nations report to make proposals that avoid the core issues revealed in the report.

The U.N. report reaffirms what Congolese intellectuals, scholars and victims have been saying for over a decade in regard to Rwanda’s role as the main catalyst for the biblical scale death and misery in the Congo. The Ugandan and Rwandan invasions of 1996 and 1998 have triggered the deaths of nearly 6 million Congolese. The United Nations says it is the deadliest conflict in the world since World War II.

The report “found evidence that the Rwandan authorities have been complicit in the recruitment of soldiers, including children, have facilitated the supply of military equipment, and have sent officers and units from the Rwandan Defense Forces” to the DRC. The support is for the National Congress for the Defense of the People, or CNDP, formerly led by self-proclaimed Gen. Laurent Nkunda.

The report also shows that the CNDP is sheltering a war criminal wanted by the International Criminal Court, Gen. Jean Bosco Ntaganda. The CNDP has used Rwanda as a rear base for fundraising meetings and bank accounts, and Uganda is once more implicated as Nkunda has met regularly with embassies in both Kigali and Kampala.

Also, Uganda is accepting illegal CNDP immigration papers. Earlier U.N. reports said that Kagame and Museveni are the mafia dons of Congo’s exploitation. This has not changed in any substantive way.

The report implicates Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, a close advisor to Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda. Rujugiro is the founder of the Rwandan Investment Group. This is not the first time he has been named by the United Nations as one of the individuals contributing to the conflict in the Congo.

In April 2001, he was identified as Tibere Rujigiro in the U.N. Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as one of the figures illegally exploiting Congo’s wealth. His implication this time comes in financial contributions to CNDP and appropriation of land.

This brings to light the organizations he is a part of, which include but are not limited to the Rwanda Development Board, the Rwandan Investment Group, of which he is the founder, and Kagame’s Presidential Advisory Council. They have members as notable as Rev. Rick Warren, business tycoon Joe Ritchie, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Scott Ford of Alltell, Dr. Clet Niyikiza of GlaxoSmithKline, former U.S. president Bill Clinton and many more.

These connections provide some insight into why Rwanda has been able to commit and support remarkable atrocities in the Congo without receiving even a reprimand in spite of the fact that two European courts have charged their top leadership with war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is only recently that two European nations, Sweden and the Netherlands, have decided to withhold aid from Rwanda as a result of their aggression against the Congolese people.

The report shows that the Congolese soldiers have also given support to the FDLR and other armed groups to fight against the aggression of Rwanda’s CNDP proxy. One important distinction must be made in this regard. It appears that the FDLR support comes more from individual Congolese soldiers as opposed to overall government support.

The Congolese government is not supporting the FDLR in incursions into Rwanda; however, the Rwandan government is in fact supporting rebel groups inside Congo. The Congolese population is the victim of the CNDP, FDLR and the Congolese military.

The United Nations report is a predictable outgrowth of previous reports produced by the U.N. since 2001. It reflects the continued appropriation of the land, theft of Congo’s resources, and continuous human rights abuses caused by Rwanda and Uganda. An apparent aim of these spasms is to create facts on the ground – land appropriation, theft of cattle and other assets – to consolidate CNDP/Rwandan economic integration into Rwanda.

Herman Cohen’s “Can Africa Trade Its Way to Peace?” in the New York Times reflects the disastrous policies that favor profits over people. In his article, the former lobbyist for Mobutu and Kabila’s government in the United States and former assistant secretary of state for Africa from 1989 to 1993 argues, “Having controlled the Kivu provinces for 12 years, Rwanda will not relinquish access to resources that constitute a significant percentage of its gross national product.”

He adds, “The normal flow of trade from eastern Congo is to Indian Ocean ports rather than the Atlantic Ocean, which is more than a thousand miles away.” Continuing his argument, he believes that “the free movement of people would empty the refugee camps and would allow the densely populated countries of Rwanda and Burundi to supply needed labor to Congo and Tanzania.”

Cohen’s first mistake in providing solutions to the conflict is to look at the conflict as a humanitarian crisis that can be solved by economic means. Uganda and Rwanda are the aggressors. Aggressors should not define for the Congo what is best, but rather it is for the Congo to define what it has to offer its neighbor.

A lasting solution is to stop the silent annexation of Eastern Congo. The International Court of Justice has already weighed in on this matter when it ruled in 2005 that Congo is entitled to $10 billion in reparations due to Uganda’s looting of Congo’s natural resources and the commission of human rights abuses in the Congo. It would have in all likelihood ruled in the same fashion against Rwanda; however, Rwanda claimed to be outside the jurisdiction of the court.

The United States and Great Britain’s implication is becoming very clear. These two great powers consider Rwanda and Uganda their staunch allies and, some would argue, client states. These two countries have received millions of dollars of military aid, which in turn they use in Congo to cause destruction and death.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame is a former student at the U.S. military training base Fort Leavenworth and Yoweri Museveni’s son, Lt. Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, graduated from the same U.S. military college in the summer of 2008. Both the United States and Great Britain should follow the lead of the Dutch and Swedish governments, who have suspended their financial support to Rwanda.

With U.S. and British taxpayers’ support, we now see an estimated 6 million people dead in Congo, hundreds of thousands of women systematically raped as an instrument of war and millions displaced.

A political solution will resolve the crisis, and part of that requires pressure on Rwanda in spite of Rwanda’s recent so-called “house arrest” of Laurent Nkunda. African institutions such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union are primed to be more engaged in the Congo issue. Considering Congo’s importance to Africa, it is remarkable that they have been so anemic in regard to the Congo crisis for so long.

Rwanda’s leader, Paul Kagame, cannot feel as secure or be as arrogant as he has been in the past. One of his top aides was arrested in Germany as a result of warrants issued by a French court and there is almost global consensus that pressure must be put on him to cease his support of the destabilization of the Congo and its resultant humanitarian catastrophe.

In addition to pressure on Kagame, the global community should support the following policies:

1. Initiate an international tribunal on the Congo.

2. Work with the Congolese to implement a national reconciliation process; this could be a part of the international tribunal.

3. Work with the Congolese to assure that those who have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity are brought to justice.

4. Hold accountable corporations that are benefiting from the suffering and deaths in the Congo.

5. Make the resolution of the Congo crisis a top international priority.

Living is a right, not a privilege, and Congolese deaths must be honored by due process of the law. As the implication of the many parties in this conflict becomes clear, we should start firmly acknowledging that the conflict is a resource war waged by U.S. and British allies.

We call upon people of good will once again to advocate for the Congolese by following the prescriptions we have been outlining to end the conflict and start the new path to peace, harmony and an end to the exploitation of Congo’s wealth and devastation of its peoples.

i have been thinking about the congo this week quite a bit, partially because i am teaching joseph conrad’s the heart of darkness in my postcolonial literature class. of course, i am teaching it in historical context of colonialism in the congo, but also in relation to current events there. and we will return to the congo when i end the semester with raoul peck’s biopic film lumumba. it is striking to reread this novel after decades–i think i first read this in junior high school and i don’t recall having read it since. the character kurtz is described by marlowe in a way that i think is especially significant given the tight focus of the story on two men. he is described by marlowe as:

The original Kurtz had been educated partly in England, and–as he was good enough to say himself–his sympathies were in the right place. His mother was half-English, his father was half-French. All Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz; and by-and-by I learned that, most appropriately, the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs had intrusted him with the making of a report, for its future guidance. (124)

the point here that i think is interesting is that he was made by all of europe. this is not because his parents came from different countries. this is because the savagery with which he loots and rapes the land and the people of the congo came from his upbringing in europe. his sense of his superiority. his racism. his capitalist drive. these are the forces that feed colonialism and imperialism and they come from europe. the quest for power, fed by greed and racism is what fuels every colonial project whether in the congo or in palestine. and these colonial ideologies about conquering the americas, australia, africa, asia also fed into zionist ideology. abayomi azikiwe wrote an essay recently entitled “pan-africanism and palestine solidarity – a history of anti-imperialist struggle” in which he lays out some of these parallels:

Throughout the negotiations involving the Zionist proposals for white penetration into Africa and Asia, Theodore Herzl, in the manner of 19th century imperialist thinkers, spoke of imperialism and colonialisation as a ‘noble activity destined to bring civilization to the “backward races”.’ Viewing the Jewish state with occidental white binoculars, he asserted that this state is designed to ‘form a part of a wall of defense for Europe in Asia, an outpost of civilization against barbarism.’

African territories were strongly considered as a ‘homeland’ for the Zionist state. This contradicts the proclaimed scriptural basis for the colonisation of Palestine. Zayid states that ‘in their search for a location for the Zionist enclave, to be created, a variety of options were explored including Uganda (east Africa), Tripolitania in Libya (north Africa), Cyprus (Mediterranean), Madagascar (off the southeast African coast), Congo (in central Africa) and Palestine.’

Joseph Chamberlain, the British racist theoretician told Herzl that ‘I have seen a land for you on my recent travels, and that is Uganda. It is not on the coast but the climate of the interior is excellent for Europeans. Though Herzl strongly favored Uganda as the location for the Jewish state, the committee, appointed by the World Zionist Congress to explore the area, found it unsuitable.’

the quote taken above is from a much longer article, which i highly recommend. it shows how various anti-colonial liberation movements came to support palestinian liberation not only because they were fighting the same struggle, but also because the zionist colonists in palestine helped to fund colonialism in countries like south africa. it also details a similar trajectory for african americans coming to support palestinian liberation. while, of course, i welcome this, and want to see more of this, i also think that it cannot and should not be unidirectional.

look at these two stories from relief web yesterday, for instance, that reported on new refugees from the congo and from gaza:

The number of Congolese refugees who have sought safety in South Sudan since attacks by the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) last year has now surpassed the 15,000 mark.

UNHCR staff late last week accompanied local South Sudanese authorities to Lasu, a sparsely populated village in Central Equatoria State where they found the population of Congolese refugees had swelled from 2,000 to approximately 6,000. Most of them fled from the DRC town of Aba, which has been attacked several times since January, the latest last week. Lasu is 45 km from the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

At least 100,000 people, including up to 56,000 children, remain displaced with many continuing to take shelter in tents or crowding into remaining homes with other families, one month since the Gaza ceasefire was declared.

and, of course, there are conflicts that are in the news daily, but perhaps because of compassion fatigue they seem not to matter to people any more. obama says that he’s sending 17,000 new troops to afghanistan. he says this on the same day that new casualty figures for afghans is released:

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan’s escalating conflict have increased by 39 per cent over the last year, hitting their worst-ever level, according to a United Nations report.

A total of 2,118 civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2008, the deadliest year since US-ousted the Taliban in 2001, the world body said in a report released on Tuesday.

meanwhile, israeli terrorists continue to bomb and shoot at palestinians in gaza:

A woman is dead and another person injured after Israeli warplanes launched several strikes on the border area between Egypt and Gaza Wednesday morning.

Warplanes launched missiles at underground smuggling tunnels, in addition to a security compound of the de facto government in Khan Younis, a city in the south of Gaza. A mosque was also destroyed in Khan Younis

The woman, 70-year-old Huda Abu Tahla, suffered a heart attack when missiles struck near her home, according to the executive director of the Abu Yousif An-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, Muhammad Subih.

Missile strikes destroyed seven smuggling tunnels along the Philadelphi Route, the zone along the Egypt-Gaza border. Israeli sources said the strikes were a response to recent projectile attacks launched by into southern Israel from Gaza.

Separately, Palestinian medical sources said a Palestinian farmer was moderately injured by Israeli fire in Al-Farahin area, east of Khan Younis near the border with Israel.

and here in the west bank palestinians continue to be kidnapped every day, in increasingly high numbers while israeli terrorists keep teasing us with talk of prisoner release (clearly they want to boost the numbers inside before any such release might happen):

In a third consecutive day of mass arrests Israeli forces stormed the northern West Bank town of Jayyus near Qalqiliya early morning Wednesday and seized 65 Palestinian youth in an ongoing military operation.

Israeli soldiers declared the town a “Closed Military Area” and barred journalists from entering. A curfew has been imposed, trapping residents in their homes.

Soldiers told the families of those detained that they were “wanted” by Israeli intelligence….

According to Israeli sources the village was raided in a sweep for illegal weapons. An army spokesperson told the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, that forces were operating in the town following a rise in the number of incidents involving the throwing of stones at Israeli vehicles.

Eight of those taken were identified as:

Sakhr Shamasnah,
Jabir Shamasnah,
Kamal Shamasnah,
Adli Shamasnah,
Anwar Aarif,
Mahir Aarif,
Muhammad Bilal and
Hamadah Nimir

The residents of Jayyus organize a weekly demonstration against the construction of the separation wall on village land. Foreign activists frequently attend the events and Israeli soldiers regularly invade the town and harass its residents following the departure of the activists.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces on Wednesday morning apprehended two Palestinian university students from the northern West Bank town of Far’un, south of Tulkarem.

Soldiers stormed the town at dawn, ransacking a residential building and seizing two students at the Palestine Technical University.

Two of the students detained were identified as 22-year-old Sami Al-Jaroushi, affiliated with Fatah, and 20-year-old Fawzi Qarqur, apparently a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

and because israeli terrorists didn’t have enough blood on their hands for today, they decided to invade lebanon, too:

Witnesses heard the sound of four consecutive explosions accompanied by gunfire and overflights by helicopter gunships over the Arqoub region in the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms.

The state-run National News Agency said an Israeli force had earlier in the day crossed the barbed wire at the southwestern edge of the border town of Ghajar.

The 19-member Israeli force conducted a two-hour search of the area, NNA said.

ah, yes, colonialism is alive and well here in palestine. in the congo. in afghanistan. in iraq. and so many other places around the world. but what i want to know is when can we connect these liberation struggles and fight for the as one? the corporations and states fueling these colonial projects overlap. so should our political solidarity.

gaza & boycott, divestment & sanctions

the boycott movement is gaining steam globally. it is amazing to watch. it gives me hope that people will not forget gaza. that they will be steadfast and help palestinians in gaza to remain steadfast. there is even a new rap song by invincible, an anti-zionist jew, about the boycott which you can download for free if you click this link. here is the final verse (btw: i don’t think she’s israeli; as far as i know she is american):

Look, i’m Israeli, my government’s so arrogant
War criminals who call Palestinians terrorists
For resisting extinction and occupation
Comparing this to genocide and reservations of Native Americans
Its a massacre! Kick out they ambassadors!
Divest from their apartheid like South Africa
Boycott em like King to Montgomery buses,
Show them we want peace but only with real justice
They murdering the media and witnesses left
We gonna stop shopping at all the businesses that invest
In building they settlements and gentrifying our corners
Illegal walls over there and the US-Mexico border
Build a worldwide movement til the truth is heard
And supporting the Israelis who refuse to serve
All the C.O.s who AWOL when deployed to Iraqi stations
All the people rallying while the cops are chasing
If we enlisted in the system we got an obligation
We ain’t got the patience, time to stop the occupation

Boycott, Divest, and Sanction
Til there’s right of return for displaced and reparations

and lovely, lovely mark gonzales along with the other fabulous rappers from human writes project–nizar wattad and omar chakaki–did a benefit show for gaza the other day in my hometown los angeles. they called it “get down for gaza” and all of them emanated sheer brilliance.

it is important for these voices to be heard. to be shared. to empower us to continue with our resistance work. i’ve been thinking a lot about various levels of boycott and one thing i wish i could convey to the leadership of hamas is this: to take a strong moral stand and to refuse any reconstruction or humanitarian aid from the united states or the israeli terrorist state. this is what hezbollah did in 2006. this is why boycott is an essential element of resistance. if hamas does not take this stand they will be giving israelis jobs and they will likely be overcharged for those goods. they need to force humanitarian organizations to take the same moral stand. even the palestinian authority, that bastion of normalization, is shackled with respect to funds, some of which are for gaza:

Israel is preventing the Western-backed Palestinian Authority from transferring cash to the Gaza Strip to pay its workers and others hard-hit by war, Western and Palestinian officials said on Wednesday.

Setting up interim international committee that would fund, organize aid directed towards reconstruction of
The restrictions threatened to undercut the ability of President Mahmoud Abbas’ West Bank-based government to reassert a presence in the Hamas-ruled territory after Israel’s 22-day offensive, said the officials, who asked not to be identified.

The cash restrictions also underscored the wider hurdles facing reconstruction, estimated to cost more than $2 billion, in the Gaza Strip, where 1.5 million Palestinians live.

but there is good news because those who don’t normalize are rewarded. and those who do will be punished as is the case with veolia:

Today the Stockholm community council in Sweden announced that the French company Veolia who has been the current operator at the Subway’s in Stockholm County for 10 years lost the contract to the MTR-cooperation. The contracts for the coming 8 years is worth 3,5 Billion EURO and has been the biggest ongoing public contract procurement process in Europe.

Although the board for county’s public transportation ensured the decision was based on commercial factors the debate about Veolias involvement in a controversial tramway project in Jerusalem (Jerusalem light railway) has been intense in Swedish media.

The tramway connecting the Israeli west Jerusalem with illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory has triggered discussions about Veolia’s ethical policy. Public protests against Veolia has brought the attention to the dilemma of operating public services when you at he same time are involved in politically controversial activities.

As late as the day before the decision the community council received lists with thousands of signatories from people demanding the county council to choose an operator who should not be associated with violations of international humanitarian law.

- This is clearly another sign of the importance for commercial actors not to have their brand associated to unethical behaviour, in the case of illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian territory we can already see a trend of international companies who are moving out their operations from settlements, says Joakim Wohlfeil, at the Swedish development organization Diakonia.

likewise the movement to prosecute israeli terrorist leaders for war crimes is building, even among the some 17 israelis who are not with its state terrorism:

Anonymous self-described Israeli human rights activists have set up an Internet site detailing alleged war crimes committed by senior government officials and Israel Defense Forces officers. No known human rights organization is behind the site, whose founders refuse to give their names.

The site, www.wanted.org.il, includes “arrest orders,” complete with pictures and personal details, for Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and his two predecessors, Dan Halutz and Moshe Ya’alon, former air force commander Eliezer Shkedy and others. It also explains how to inform the International Criminal Court in The Hague of when the “suspects” are outside Israel, and hence vulnerable to arrest.

in england, unlike the u.s., students are becoming incredibly active stating sit-ins at their universities in solidarity with gaza and to force their universities to not grant honorary degrees to israeli terrorist war criminals:

Students at King’s College London are staging a sit-in protest on campus over the treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and the honorary doctorate bestowed on the Israeli president, Shimon Peres.

In the latest of a flurry of occupations at English universities in response to Israel’s actions in Gaza, more than 100 students took over a lecture theatre in the university yesterday.

Kings students are demanding that the university issue a formal statement condemning Israel’s bombing of Gaza and revoke the honorary doctorate Peres was awarded in November last year.

the students at king’s college also have a blog where you can track their activities. and thankfully this energy is contagious as now the students at warwick university they have also staged a sit in and here are their demands from their blog:

1. Warwick University should suspend all relations with companies which supply the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This includes BAE Systems, MBDA, QinetiQ and Rolls Royce.

2. That the University donate old computer equipment and textbooks to universities in Palestine, specifically those that were partially destroyed in Gaza during the current Israeli military operation.

3. That the University fund and provide logistical support for a series of talks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

4. That there be no legal, financial, or academic measures taken against anyone involved in or supporting the sit-in. This extends to the Student’s Union. Students involved should be guaranteed free movement in and out of the space.

and today at oxford university students took over a building in solidarity with gaza:

More than 80 students on Thursday took over one of Oxford University’s buildings to demand the university releases a statement condemning Israel’s recent offensive against Hamas in Gaza.

“Palestinians have the same rights as we do, including the right to education as enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights,” a spokesperson said.

and mounting pressures for a war crimes trial for israeli terrorists like livni is already having an effect:

Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni nearly cancelled a planned trip to Belgium over concerns that the Israeli leader could face legal actions for war crimes.

this is exactly what we want. we want them to live in fear of facing up to the responsibilities for the crimes they commit. and we must keep this up. it is essential that we keep up the pressure on this and let this energy spread globally. where are the american students? why aren’t they occupying university buildings to get their university and government’s attention on gaza? i especially wonder about the new york university students and faculty in light of this recent news that sami sent me:

After months of planning and promoting, NYU has announced that it will delay the opening of its Tel Aviv study abroad site due to enrollment difficulties following military strife in the area. The program, which was slated to launch this month, will not host students until September 2009.

“Because of the conflict in Gaza and Israel and a consequent decline in enrollment that would compromise the quality of our program and its cocurricular offerings, the university chose to delay the opening of its NYU in Tel Aviv study abroad program,” university spokesman John Beckman said.

someone needs to do something at that university. something big to shut this program down. i know that most of them drank the obama koolaid, but really, the pressure must be kept up. (yes, i know he ordered guantanamo to be closed today, but that is merely symbolic: he didn’t order any of the cia secret torture prisons to be shut, for instance.) obama just delivered a speech in which he said “hamas must recognize israel” and that “israel has a right to defend itself.” no palestinians with a spec of self respect should recognize israel’s right to exist. no one should recognize israel’s right to exist for that matter. they do not. jews have a right to exist as citizens wherever the live, of course. but israel is a colonial terrorist regime and does not have a right to exist. joseph massad lays out why they don’t have these rights in his beautiful essay on electronic intifada, but here is an important point he makes, which, of course, obama doesn’t get:

The major argument here is two-fold, namely that while Israel has the right to defend itself, its victims have no similar right to defend themselves. In fact, the logic is even more sinister than this and can be elucidated as follows: Israel has the right to oppress the Palestinians and does so to defend itself, but were the Palestinians to defend themselves against Israel’s oppression, which they do not have a right to do, Israel will then have the right to defend itself against their illegitimate defense of themselves against its legitimate oppression of them, which it carries out anyway in order to defend itself legitimately.

robert fisk, commenting on obama’s vapid inaugural address noted what people here are thinking (though if read the full article i should warn you that no one here is thinking about anything close to two states or israeli terrorists’ security; they are thinking about the right of return–except, of course, for normalizers and collaborators):

It would have helped if Obama had the courage to talk about what everyone in the Middle East was talking about. No, it wasn’t the US withdrawal from Iraq. They knew about that. They expected the beginning of the end of Guantanamo and the probable appointment of George Mitchell as a Middle East envoy was the least that was expected. Of course, Obama did refer to “slaughtered innocents”, but these were not quite the “slaughtered innocents” the Arabs had in mind.

There was the phone call yesterday to Mahmoud Abbas. Maybe Obama thinks he’s the leader of the Palestinians, but as every Arab knows, except perhaps Mr Abbas, he is the leader of a ghost government, a near-corpse only kept alive with the blood transfusion of international support and the “full partnership” Obama has apparently offered him, whatever “full” means. And it was no surprise to anyone that Obama also made the obligatory call to the Israelis.

or perhaps obama should take a lesson from mark steel who correctly points out the reality and cuts through the propaganda of what really goes on here in palestine:

The worrying part about whether the ceasefire in Gaza can hold together will be whether the international community can stop the flow of arms to the terrorists. Because Israel’s getting their planes and tanks and missiles from somewhere and until this supply is cut off there’s every chance it could start up again.

The disregard for life from these terrorists and their supporters is shocking. For example Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist, wrote that the purpose of the Israeli attack must be to “inflict a heavy death toll and heavy pain on the Gaza population”.

Replace “Gaza” with “western”, and that could have been written by al-Qa’ida. Maybe this is the problem: the Israelis are writing their policies by downloading statements from an Islamic Jihad website and just changing the place names. Also, if the Israelis think the Hamas rockets are as lethal as they say, why don’t they swap their F-16 fighters and Apache helicopters for a few of them?

there are so many reasons why one must keep up this pressure. the “war” on gaza may be over, but the root of the problem is not. obama’s new appointment to the region, george mitchell, will bring more of the same. in a speech he just delivered he wants the same old 2-state solution that will continue the basically 4 state reality of palestinians in gaza, the west bank, 1948 palestine, and refugees in the region and around the world. this is unacceptable.

i hate to break it to you, but foreign policy with respect to palestine is not going to change. it will be more of this same, which kevin alexander gray characterizes as follows:

When you think about it, US foreign policy toward Palestine has been a segregationist or apartheid policy. In his 2006 book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, former President Jimmy Carter likened Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and its repression of Palestinian people, both within Israel and in the occupied territories, to the state of apartheid, which existed in South Africa prior to the early 1990s. Apartheid means ‘separateness.’ And there is little debate that Zionism, the official ideology of Israel, is predicated on religious and ethnic separation or segregation. A self-described Jewish state — that is, a state that operates of, by and on behalf of a single group of people — cannot also be a secular, democratic state where persons of all religious and ethnic backgrounds are treated equally. A Jewish state that has never declared its borders, that has annexed and occupied territories, flouting international law and subjecting the indigenous population to poverty, indignity, theft, torture and death, is not only a colonialist outlaw state; it is also racist. As one Palestinian gentleman remarked to me, “While blacks in America were once considered subhuman, Palestinians are not considered humans at all.”

And Israel could not have pursued any of these policies without the steadfast financial and political support of the United States. It is no secret that Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. aid in the world. It receives more than $15 million every day from the United States, or $30 billion a year by most estimates. The F-16 fighter jets and Apache helicopters that have dropped hundreds of tons of bombs and missiles on Gaza are made in the United States and provided to the Israeli government. Every American taxpayer underwrites Israeli-style apartheid.

in south africa zwelinzima vavi the general secretary of the congress of south african trade unions (COSATU) also calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions in solidarity with palestinians:

1. All trade unions, social movements, NGOs, religious organisations and academics to support and actively participate in the boycott, disinvestment and sanctions campaign against Israel, refusing to handle anything that comes from and that goes to Israel in order to isolate it until it submits to international law and withdraws from all the occupied territories

2. We urge all companies and all shipping companies to refuse to carry any shipment of arms to Israel. Any shipping company who carries these weapons has the blood of the people of Gaza on its hands!

3. We call upon all governments to enforce international law, by refusing to recognise a country that makes a mockery of international law and the pursuit of human dignity. In this regard, they must expel Israeli ambassadors and representatives in order to ensure that we isolate it throughout the world until it subscribes to the ideals of human dignity! In this case, we salute the bold example of Venezuela and call upon all countries to emulate it.

4. We call upon international media to expose the real truth behind the war and not to hide the real issues in the name of objectivity, by projecting an image of Israel as a state under siege by terrorist, thus discrediting the legitimate resistance of the Palestinian people. Balanced reporting does not mean, massaging issues and diluting the truth even in the face of insurmountable evidence against the wrong side.

5. We call upon the international trade union movement to emulate the heroic example of the Norwegian Locomotive Drivers Union, which on January 8 ensured that all trains in the whole of Norway, and all trams and subways in Oslo, stood still for two minutes in protest against Israeli invasion. In the process, they issued the following information for passengers: “Because of the situation in the Gaza Strip, the Locomotive Drivers Union in Norway has decided to demonstrate our solidarity with the Palestinian people. This will be organised by adding two more minutes of stoppage at the station. The same action applies to all passenger trains in Norway simultaneously. We demand the immediate withdrawal of all Israeli troops from the Palestinian territory. Thank you for your understanding”. This is very inspiring coming from Europe where the tendency, even amongst progressives, is to be apologetic about Israel and condemn the Palestinian struggle as acts of terrorism

6. We call for particular focus on targeting the conservative US and British foreign policies, which requires that we work with our counterpart unions and progressive organisations in these countries to effect radical foreign policy changes in relation to the Middle East. This should include exposing the complicit role of these two states in perpetuating the violence and arming Israel, while rhetorically positioning themselves as anti-terrorists.

7. We acknowledge the progressive role of our government in relation to the situation in the Middle East, including its humanitarian support for the suffering people of Gaza, but believe that there is a lot more we can do working together. In this instance, we call for the cessation of all trade relations with Israel.

8. The Arab League must be brought under pressure to act in solidarity with the Palestinian people and limit the chances of some states openly collaborating with Israel, but to lead the global offensive for the isolation of Israel, owing to their strategic proximity in that area.

all of this is necessary and all of this must be cultivated, we must grow it. and quickly. we cannot give up on this momentum. and we must fall into the false notion that the war on gaza is over. it’s not. today, for instance, the israeli terrorist navy fired on palestinians from the sea:

Israel’s navy shelled the Gaza Strip on Thursday morning, injuring seven Palestinians, including five fishermen.

Mu’awiyah Hassanain, the director of Ambulance and Emergency Services in the Palestinian Health Ministry told Ma’an that Israeli gunboats shelled the As-Sudaniya area northwest of Gaza City.

He said the wounded people were taken to Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

Hassanain added that rescue teams are still working to recover the corpses, many of them now decomposing, of those killed in Israel’s three-week war on Gaza.

Separately, two Palestinians died in Egyptian hospitals where they were treated for wounds from Israel’s three-week offensive.

Medical officials identified them as: Tamer Omar Al-Louh, 22, from Gaza city and Azzam Mu’awad Ash-Shafe’y, 24, from Rafah.

The death toll from the war is now 1,330, with more than 5,000 injured.

and the suffering for those families who survived has not ended. in some ways it is only beginning as al jazeera’s sherine tadros continues to follow up with the samouni family–the family who saw 30 of its members massacred by israeli terrorists. this report shows nawal samouni who gave birth to her daughter while under attack by israeli terrorists:

in light of this and many other massacres haidar eid, a professor in gaza, also continues his call for boycott, divestment and sanctions arguing beautifully about the lack of moral courage from the region and the world and connecting these massacres to the south african shapeville massacre, which was a turning point in the anti-apartheid struggle:

For 22 long days and dark nights, Palestinians in Gaza were left alone to face one of the strongest armies in the world — an army that has hundreds of nuclear warheads, thousands of trigger-happy soldiers armed with Merkava tanks, F-16s, Apache helicopters, naval gunships and phosphorous bombs. Twenty-two sleepless nights, 528 hours of constant shelling and shooting, every single minute expecting to be the next victim.

During these 22 days, while morgues overflowed and hospitals struggled to treat the injured, Arab regimes issued tons of statements, condemned and denounced and held one meaningless press conference after another. They even held two summits, the first one convened 19 full days after the assault on Gaza began and the second one the day after Israel had declared a unilateral ceasefire!

The official Arab position vis-a-vis the Palestinians since 1948, with the exception of the progressive nationalist era (1954-1970) has been a lethal cocktail of cowardice and hypocrisy. Their latest collective failure to break the two-year old Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip and their lack of action to support Palestinians under brutal military assault must be questioned.

Arabs must demand answers from the spineless Arab League because there was no brotherly solidarity shown to Gazans during the Israeli assault. There was no pan-Arabism evident in their platitudes. Some, shockingly, even found it an appropriate time to blame Palestinians for the situation they found themselves in, instead of demanding that Israel stop its merciless assault.

In Gaza today, we wonder how the expressions of support for us in the streets of Arab capitals can be translated into action in the absence of democracy. We wonder whether Arab citizens of despotic regimes can nonviolently change the system. We torment ourselves with trying to discern the means that are currently available for democratic political change. With the ongoing massacre in Gaza, and the construction of an apartheid system in Palestine (in all of historic Palestine, including the areas occupied by Israel in 1967), we know that to survive, we must have the support and solidarity of our Arab brothers and sisters. We saw the Arab people rise to that challenge and stand by us for 22 days but we did not see their leaders behind them.

Archbishop Desmund Tutu of South Africa said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” The UN, EU, Arab League and the international community by and large have remained silent in the face of atrocities committed by Apartheid Israel. They are therefore on the side of Israel. Hundreds of dead corpses of children and women have failed to convince them to act. This is what every Palestinian knows today — whether on the streets of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank or refugee camps in the Diaspora.

We are, therefore, left with one option; an option that does not wait for the United Nations Security Council, Arab Summits, or Organization of Islamic Conference to convene: the option of people’s power. This remains the only power capable of counteracting the massive power imbalance in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The horror of the racist apartheid regime in South Africa was challenged with a sustained campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions initiated in 1958 and given new urgency in 1960 after the Sharpeville Massacre. This campaign led ultimately to the collapse of white rule in 1994 and the establishment of a multi-racial, democratic state.

Similarly, the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions has been gathering momentum since 2005. Gaza 2009, like Sharpeville 1960, cannot be ignored: it demands a response from all who believe in a common humanity. Now is the time to boycott the apartheid Israeli state, to divest and to impose sanctions against it. This is the only way to ensure the creation of a secular, democratic state for all in historic Palestine.

eid’s words are the only way out: the people’s option. and the people’s option, unlike the “white man’s” option (aka the west) is liberation of palestine through various modes of resistance, including boycott divestment and sanctions. fortunately there is now a campaign for american academics to lend their support to this method of resistance. our call is now published on electronic intifada and you may visit our website as well. there is an email address for you to endorse the call.

gaza “cease-fire”

according to my oxford english dictionary cease-fire means:

cease-fire:
noun
a temporary suspension of fighting, typically one during which peace talks take place; a truce.
• an order or signal to stop fighting

yesterday, of course, the united nations security council voted for a “cease-fire.” 14 voted in favor of this. 0 voted against it. 1 abstained (u.s.) un sc resolution 1860 reads:

“The Security Council,

“Recalling all of its relevant resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003) and 1850 (2008),

“Stressing that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the territory occupied in 1967 and will be a part of the Palestinian state,

“Emphasising the importance of the safety and well-being of all civilians,

“Expressing grave concern at the escalation of violence and the deterioration of the situation, in particular the resulting heavy civilian casualties since the refusal to extend the period of calm; and emphasising that the Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations must be protected,

“Expressing grave concern also at the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza,

“Emphasising the need to ensure sustained and regular flow of goods and people through the Gaza crossings,

“Recognising the vital role played by UNRWA in providing humanitarian and economic assistance within Gaza,

“Recalling that a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means,

“Reaffirming the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders,

“1. Stresses the urgency of and calls for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza;

“2. Calls for the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including of food, fuel and medical treatment;

“3. Welcomes the initiatives aimed at creating and opening humanitarian corridors and other mechanisms for the sustained delivery of humanitarian aid;

“4. Calls on Member States to support international efforts to alleviate the humanitarian and economic situation in Gaza, including through urgently needed additional contributions to UNRWA and through the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee;

“5. Condemns all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism;

“6. Calls upon Member States to intensify efforts to provide arrangements and guarantees in Gaza in order to sustain a durable ceasefire and calm, including to prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition and to ensure the sustained re‑opening of the crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access between the Palestinian Authority and Israel; and in this regard, welcomes the Egyptian initiative, and other regional and international efforts that are under way;

“7. Encourages tangible steps towards intra-Palestinian reconciliation including in support of mediation efforts of Egypt and the League of Arab States as expressed in the 26 November 2008 resolution, and consistent with Security Council resolution 1850 (2008 ) and other relevant resolutions;

“8. Calls for renewed and urgent efforts by the parties and the international community to achieve a comprehensive peace based on the vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace with secure and recognised borders, as envisaged in Security Council resolution 1850 (2008), and recalls also the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative;

“9. Welcomes the Quartet’s consideration, in consultation with the parties, of an international meeting in Moscow in 2009;

“10. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”

Statements before Vote

BERNARD KOUCHNER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, speaking in his national capacity, said the Council was meeting in the common cause of achieving a ceasefire. In Gaza, there was an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. He said he was moved and distressed by the plight of the victims and families on both sides. The immediate end to hostilities was something the European Union and President Nicolas Sarkozy had been committed to.

He said the draft called for the end to the firing of rockets, the end to the Israeli operations, the opening of the border crossings and an end to arms smuggling. Those parameters were something the President of France had brought up with the leaders of the region and President Hosni Mubarak had drawn up a proposal. That plan was the only way to peace. He expressed regret that it had not been possible to give a little more time to reconcile different views or to endorse the results of negotiations now under way. The message of hope needed to be heeded without delay and negotiation under way needed to achieve prompt results.

Action

The Council then adopted resolution 1860 (2009) by a vote of 14 in favour with 1 abstention (United States).

there are many problems with this un resolution, number one being that there is no reference, of course, to the united nations’ role in creating this problem by going against its own charter and partitioning and colonizing palestine in the first place via un resolution 181. there is no reference to un resolution 194 codifying palestinians’ right of return, although un resolution 242, which is referred to, reaffirms that legal right for all palestinian refugees. like many un resolutions, palestinians and israeli terrorists are treated as equal entities, which they are not: palestinians are not equal to palestinians as they are colonized by israeli terrorists. moreover, this resolution names hamas and not palestinians as if all palestinians–indeed the world if you see the protests in the streets–are not behind the people of gaza. this war is against the people of gaza, not hamas. the resistance fighters in gaza cannot be reduced to hamas: dflp, al aqsa martyrs brigades, these are all resistance fighters from a wide range of ideological perspectives. in any case this un resolution once again shows the united nations’ impotence with respect to protecting the rights of palestinians to live in their land free from alien settler colonist terrorists or to return to their original villages. moreover, as could be expected israeli terrorists live according to their own rules and not only have not acted according to this agreement, during the voting i watched a split screen on al jazeera that showed the voting and speeches on one side of the screen and the increased intensity of the bombing on the other side. here is what the israeli terrorist regime had to say:

A few hours after the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1860 calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, the limited cabinet including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak convened Friday morning to decide whether Operation Cast Lead should be expanded, or if fire should be held.

Israel has shown a certain level of apathy to the resolution, and Hamas has also stated it is not bound by and will not accept the decision.

“Israel has acted, is acting, and will continue to act only according to its calculations, in the interest of the security of its citizens and its right to self defense,” Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said.

here is an account of what happened as the voting was taking place in new york city:

A series of explosions has rocked the Gaza Strip despite the UN Security Council passing a resolution calling for an “immediate ceasefire” there.

Al Jazeera’s Zeina Awad, reporting from the Israel-Gaza border, said air raids, tank shelling and gunfire had continued in the early hours of Friday, moments after the resolution had passed.

About half a dozen explosions were heard in Gaza as council members at the UN building in New York were extolling the virtues of the resolution that came after days of diplomatic wrangling.

And there was no sign that either Israel would stop its offensive in the Palestinian territory – now in its 14th day – or Hamas would stop its rocket attacks.

The Israeli military said air raids hit 50 targets in Gaza overnight.

israeli terrorist actions over the past 24 hours since un sc 1860 was passed is indicative of what happened in the last 72 hours of the july 2006 israeli terrorist invasion of lebanon when they littered the whole of south lebanon with american-made cluster bombs in violation of the u.s. arms export control act. it is worth taking another look at un sc 1701, which “ended” that summer’s war of colonial, expansionist violence by israeli terrorists; like un sc 1860 palestinians are forced into submission by this resolution just as lebanese were forced into submission via 1701.

here is the al jazeera footage of the united nations meeting approving the resolution:

it is worth remembering the last time there was a so-called “cease-fire” and who broke that “cease-fire” given that israeli terrorists like to repeat the lie that it was hamas. it was not:

On Nov. 4 — just when the ceasefire was most effective — the IDF carried out an attack against a house in Gaza in which six members of Hamas’s military wing were killed, including two commanders, and several more were wounded. The IDF explanation for the operation was that it had received intelligence that a tunnel was being dug near the Israeli security fence for the purpose of abducting Israeli soldiers.

Hamas officials asserted, however, that the tunnel was being dug for defensive purposes, not to capture IDF personnel, according to Pastor, and one IDF official confirmed that fact to him.

After that Israeli attack, the ceasefire completely fell apart, as Hamas began openly firing rockets into Israel, the IDF continued to carry out military operations inside Gaza, and the border crossings were “closed most of the time”, according to the ITIC account.

meanwhile israeli terrorists stepped up their attacks today on palestinians in gaza on a number of fronts as the number of murdered palestinians rose to 801. this is what “cease-fire” looks like to israeli terrorists:

Less than twelve hours after the UN resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza was passed another 29 Palestinians were confirmed dead as a result of the Israeli air and artillery strikes.

By mid-afternoon the Israeli cabinet adjourned and announced that the operation in Gaza would be “widened.”

Director of Ambulance and Emergency Services in the Palestinian Health Ministry Muawiyah Hassanain said that the death toll over two weeks of the Israeli offensive in Gaza is 781 with more than 3,300 injured.

The latest victim to be identified was a woman, Nareman Abu Au’da, who was killed by the shrapnel of an artillery shell that hit her house in Beit Hanoun, in the north of the Gaza Strip. Medical officials identified her on Friday evening.

Three Family homes targeted

As the news of the Israeli rejection of the ceasefire came out shelling was reported in northern Gaza, which targeted the home of the Sa’id family, killing 42-year-old Fatima Sa’eed Sa’id, 25-year-old Sumeya , and 12-year-old Ata Jamil, in an air strike on the home in Al-Qarem in northern Gaza.

When strikes targeted the Abu Hasna home in Old Gaza City Friday morning one of the Abu Hasna boys was killed and several others killed. He was taken to the nearby Kamal Udwan hospital where he was identified as 15-year-old Muhammad Atef Abu Al-Husna and pronounced dead.

Seven Palestinians from the Salha family were killed by an Israeli tank shelling at 4am that leveled their home in the town of Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip. Among the dead were 60-year-old Mohammad Mubarak Saleh, his wife Halima Saleh. Another son was also injured.

Air raids level empty houses

Israeli airstrikes demolished ten homes overnight, including the residence of the chief of police in Gaza Abu Obeida Al-Jarrah, in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City.

Warplanes also destroyed the house of the head of Palestinian security in the southern city of Rafah, a man who is said to be affiliated to Hamas’ armed wing.

A police station in the Zaitoun neighborhood of Gaza was also demolished, along with the Ar-Rebat Mosque in Khan Younis and an office linked to Islamic Jihad.

Israeli Navy attacks central Gaza

In the town of Al-Zawaydah, in the central Gaza Strip, three were killed and seven injured by shelling from Israeli gunboats. The victims were taken to Al-Aqsa Hospital.

Tanks pushing across Khan Younis district

Also at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, nine corpses and 40 injured people arrived overnight, victims of an attempt by Israeli tanks to cut across the middle of the Gaza Strip to the sea. Israeli tanks have already cut across in one place farther north.

Among those killed in the central Gaza incursion is a member of the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad. The movement said Jihad Abu Mudif died after being seriously wounded in fighting with Israeli troops near the city of Khan Younis.

and of course, americans are not only supplying the weapons to israeli terrorists: they are also supplying the manpower:

The US Army Corps of Engineers has been helping the Egyptian government detect tunnels used to move weapons and other contraband into Gaza, the Pentagon said Thursday.

A small number of US civilians with the Corps have been providing technical advice to the Egyptians over a period of months, said Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary.

“There has been a concerted effort for some time by the Egyptians to go after some of these tunnels — detect them, block them, eliminate them — and I think the Army Corps of Engineers has provided some technical advice on how to do so,” Morrell said.

in addition to these terrorist activities listed above they attacked the media just like their american terrorist counterparts like to do in iraq:

Israeli airstrikes hit the Jawwara building in Gaza City on Friday afternoon.

The building was home to more than 20 local, national and international press offices.

No injuries were reported, but the already limited information coming out of Gaza, given Israel’s decision to bar international journalists from the area, will be further compromised.

there were chinese, turkish, arab, and iranian foreign journalists in that building. and rafah was razed today as this video footage from the guardian/international solidarity movement shows:

so israeli terrorism persists. but it would persist with or without a united resolution. it will persist with or without global protests, although there have been many all around the world from kenya to jordan:

perhaps as a result of some of this protesting–the likes of which we did not even see in the summer of 2006 when israeli terrorists were invading lebanon and gaza at the same time–there is some important movement with respect to boycott, divestment and sanctions. here is a sampling of some of those important developments:

A coalition of major humanitarian, human rights and development organizations called on the European Union today [7 January 2009] to immediately suspend any further enhancement of its relations with Israel, known as an “upgrade,” until it agrees to a comprehensive ceasefire and provides unimpeded humanitarian access. Both Israel’s offensive in Gaza and Hamas rocket attacks into Israel have caused unacceptable civilian casualties.

A Nobel Peace Prize laureate on Sunday called on both the United Nations secretary-general and UN General Assembly president to “seriously consider” trying Israel for war crimes.

Ma’an learned that Laureate Mairead Maguire is insisting the UN establish an International Criminal Tribunal for Israel (ICTI), according to a letter sent to Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and General Assembly President Father Miguel D’Escoto on Sunday.

Maguire called on UN leaders to add their voices “to the many calls from international jurists, human rights organizations and individuals” calling for trying Israel for “atrocities against the people of Gaza and Palestine.”

Canadian Response to Gaza Situation

Dear Prime Minister Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister Cannon: We the undersigned [300] academics and educators express our condemnation of Israel’s attack on Gaza. With over 600 dead, including 100 children, we call on the Canadian government to demand an immediate cessation of Israeli hostilities.

As per the position of UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Palestine, Richard Falk, the attack constitutes a war crime in that it is completely disproportionate to the threat posed, and violates international humanitarian law on at least three grounds: Collective punishment, Targeting Civilians, Disproportionate military response.

We call on the Canadian government to implement sanctions against the Israeli government until it ceases its attack against the people of Gaza and fully complies with international law.

In Malaysia and Italy, critics of Israel’s Gaza assault have called for a boycott of Israeli and US goods.

“We cannot remain silent about what is happening in Gaza. We had thought of drawing up a list of businessmen who have links with Tel Aviv because people do not know who they are,” Giancarlo Desiderati, a member of a small group of Italian traders who called for the boycott on its website, said.

At least 5,000 people protested outside the US embassy in Malaysia on Friday, and around 300 held a noisy protest outside the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur to urge Arab countries to cut off oil supplies to the US and boycott goods from Coca-Cola, Colgate and Starbucks.

Addressing the crowd, Mahathir Mohamed, a former prime minister, told Malaysians that they “will not die if they do not use the US goods” and urged those working for US companies such as fast-food giant McDonalds to quit their jobs.

“I hope Starbucks and McDonald’s employees will stop working there,” he said.

Survivors of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims protested in front of the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo on Thursday to call on Washington to stop Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Munira Subasic, who lost her son and husband when Bosnian Serbs took over the eastern town of Srebrenica, said she felt solidarity with the Palestinian people.

“In 2009, Palestinian mothers are going through ordeals we experienced in 1995 and we are raising our voice because we know about pain and suffering. We know how it feels to lose a child or husband,” said Subasic.

Protesters said they felt they had to react to killings of more than 660 Palestinians and the suffering of refugees in the 13-day-old offensive launched by Israel.

Jordan has recalled its ambassador to Israel in protest of the IDF’s offensive in Gaza, Ynet learned Friday evening.

Ambassador Ali al-Ayed was summoned to Amman by the Jordanian Foreign Ministry and was instructed by the government to remain in the Hashemite Kingdom.

After Hugo Chavez expelled Israel’s Ambassador to Venezuela earlier this week, Jordanians left flowers by the Venezuelan embassy in Amman on Thursday, January 8th, as a show of respect.

A number of prominent South Africans have condemned the brutal attacks currently being perpetrated by the Israeli army in Gaza, and have called for diplomatic sanctions as a response. Among those who have voiced their condemnation are Eddie Makue, General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches; former government Minister Ronnie Kasrils; Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven; and University of Johannesburg academic Professor Steven Friedman.

and, finally, i quote naomi klein’s article from the nation telling us that now is FINALLY! the time to call for, participate in, push for boycott:

It’s time. Long past time. The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa.

In July 2005 a huge coalition of Palestinian groups laid out plans to do just that. They called on “people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.” The campaign Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions–BDS for short–was born.

Every day that Israel pounds Gaza brings more converts to the BDS cause, and talk of cease-fires is doing little to slow the momentum. Support is even emerging among Israeli Jews. In the midst of the assault roughly 500 Israelis, dozens of them well-known artists and scholars, sent a letter to foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel. It calls for “the adoption of immediate restrictive measures and sanctions” and draws a clear parallel with the antiapartheid struggle. “The boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves…. This international backing must stop.”

Yet many still can’t go there. The reasons are complex, emotional and understandable. And they simply aren’t good enough. Economic sanctions are the most effective tools in the nonviolent arsenal. Surrendering them verges on active complicity. Here are the top four objections to the BDS strategy, followed by counterarguments.

1. Punitive measures will alienate rather than persuade Israelis. The world has tried what used to be called “constructive engagement.” It has failed utterly. Since 2006 Israel has been steadily escalating its criminality: expanding settlements, launching an outrageous war against Lebanon and imposing collective punishment on Gaza through the brutal blockade. Despite this escalation, Israel has not faced punitive measures–quite the opposite. The weapons and $3 billion in annual aid that the US sends to Israel is only the beginning. Throughout this key period, Israel has enjoyed a dramatic improvement in its diplomatic, cultural and trade relations with a variety of other allies. For instance, in 2007 Israel became the first non-Latin American country to sign a free-trade deal with Mercosur. In the first nine months of 2008, Israeli exports to Canada went up 45 percent. A new trade deal with the European Union is set to double Israel’s exports of processed food. And on December 8, European ministers “upgraded” the EU-Israel Association Agreement, a reward long sought by Jerusalem.

It is in this context that Israeli leaders started their latest war: confident they would face no meaningful costs. It is remarkable that over seven days of wartime trading, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s flagship index actually went up 10.7 percent. When carrots don’t work, sticks are needed.

2. Israel is not South Africa. Of course it isn’t. The relevance of the South African model is that it proves that BDS tactics can be effective when weaker measures (protests, petitions, back-room lobbying) have failed. And there are indeed deeply distressing echoes: the color-coded IDs and travel permits, the bulldozed homes and forced displacement, the settler-only roads. Ronnie Kasrils, a prominent South African politician, said that the architecture of segregation that he saw in the West Bank and Gaza in 2007 was “infinitely worse than apartheid.”

3. Why single out Israel when the United States, Britain and other Western countries do the same things in Iraq and Afghanistan? Boycott is not a dogma; it is a tactic. The reason the BDS strategy should be tried against Israel is practical: in a country so small and trade-dependent, it could actually work.

4. Boycotts sever communication; we need more dialogue, not less. This one I’ll answer with a personal story. For eight years, my books have been published in Israel by a commercial house called Babel. But when I published The Shock Doctrine, I wanted to respect the boycott. On the advice of BDS activists, I contacted a small publisher called Andalus. Andalus is an activist press, deeply involved in the anti-occupation movement and the only Israeli publisher devoted exclusively to translating Arabic writing into Hebrew. We drafted a contract that guarantees that all proceeds go to Andalus’s work, and none to me. In other words, I am boycotting the Israeli economy but not Israelis.

Coming up with this plan required dozens of phone calls, e-mails and instant messages, stretching from Tel Aviv to Ramallah to Paris to Toronto to Gaza City. My point is this: as soon as you start implementing a boycott strategy, dialogue increases dramatically. And why wouldn’t it? Building a movement requires endless communicating, as many in the antiapartheid struggle well recall. The argument that supporting boycotts will cut us off from one another is particularly specious given the array of cheap information technologies at our fingertips. We are drowning in ways to rant at one another across national boundaries. No boycott can stop us.

Just about now, many a proud Zionist is gearing up for major point-scoring: don’t I know that many of those very high-tech toys come from Israeli research parks, world leaders in infotech? True enough, but not all of them. Several days into Israel’s Gaza assault, Richard Ramsey, the managing director of a British telecom company, sent an e-mail to the Israeli tech firm MobileMax. “As a result of the Israeli government action in the last few days we will no longer be in a position to consider doing business with yourself or any other Israeli company.”

When contacted by The Nation, Ramsey said his decision wasn’t political. “We can’t afford to lose any of our clients, so it was purely commercially defensive.”

It was this kind of cold business calculation that led many companies to pull out of South Africa two decades ago. And it’s precisely the kind of calculation that is our most realistic hope of bringing justice, so long denied, to Palestine.

israeli terrorists kill hamas cat: maybe now israeli terrorists will be tried for war crimes?

picture-9

i just got back from all of the hoop jumping one must go through if you happen to have a passport that allows you to go to palestine and lebanon. loving people in both places means you need two passports. but i had to jump through an extra hoop today because i had my jordanian stamp in my passport that i only use for palestine and i had to give it to the u.s. embassy this morning (the rage i had to repress in order to sustain that little visit is going to last me a while; i cannot wait until the day when i can burn that passport and never have to use it again). anyway, i had to go to some jordanian office called “foreign borders.” it is a place where they will give you a valid stamp in the passport you need it in. but while i was running around jumping through hoops before my trip to beirut tomorrow, i missed recent developments on several fronts. the first is that a group that i and another friend belong to on face book called “prevent a new genocide: save gaza” was hacked by zionist terrorists (see photo above). i immediately removed myself from the group as apparently my friend told me that if it was hacked that maybe those internet zionist terrorists could hack your overall facebook account. these terrorists changed the logo to something called the “jewish internet defense forces” and other items in the group. this is what we are up against, we, those who seek to tell the truth about gaza.

and i had a thought this morning about those people who stay silent, who do nothing in the face of this massacre-genocide-holocaust that israeli terrorists are perpetrating against the people of gaza who are trapped in a prison with nowhere else to go: americans, and perhaps europeans as well, don’t really care about human life, especially if those humans are arabs and muslims (especially if they are arab and muslim men). so i started thinking that the photographs i posted were not having an effect on my readers. silly me, i thought photographs of all the hundreds of massacred and injured palestinian children might tug at the heartstrings of some people who may have a shred of morality left, who may get up off their asses and do something. but then i remembered: what americans do care about are dead animals. so here are the animals who have been killed by israeli terrorists. do you think they were launching hamas resistance rockets too?

hamas cat killed by israeli terrorists in gaza

hamas cat killed by israeli terrorists in gaza

meanwhile, more children are being massacred in gaza by israeli terrorists, for those who care:

it is the same way that american academics are not doing shit with respect to the academic boycott of israel. clearly, american academics feel that their precious little freedom of speech is more important than palestinian lives. that much is obvious. but i thought that maybe they might give a shit about the targeting of schools. at this point israeli terrorists have targeted the islamic university of gaza, several schools, including an amerian school in gaza, and today not only did israeli terrorists target a school: they targeted AN UNRWA SCHOOL BEING USED TO HOUSE FAMILIES FLEEING FROM ISRAELI TERRORISTS. this is one of 11 schools for internally displaced palestinians–5,000 of them are staying in these make-shift shelters. here is ma’an’s report on the attack on the unrwa school/shelter:

Three Palestinians were killed overnight in an Israeli attack on a United Nations school that was housing people displaced by the violence in Gaza, the UN’s relief agency for Palestinian refugees said on Tuesday.

In a statement circulated on Tuesday, UNRWA said that Israeli forces attacked the Asma Elementary School in Gaza City, which is currently sheltering 400 people who fled their homes in the town of Beit Lahiya.

The school was clearly marked as a United Nations installation. The three men, 24-year-old Hussein Mahmoud Abed Al Malek Al Sultan, 19-year-old Abed Samir Ali Al Sultan, and 25-year-old Rawhi Jamal Ramadan Al Sultan, were killed at 11:30 last night. The three men, all from the same family, were killed as they left the school toilet at eleven thirty last night when the school compound took a direct hit.

The director of the UN general commissioner’s office in Gaza Adnan Abu Hasanah said that another UN facility, the Ash-Shouka School in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, was also bombarded. At this time there were no details available about the civilians who had taken shelter in the school.

UNRWA is strongly protesting these killings to the Israeli authorities and is calling for an immediate and impartial investigation.
“Where it is found that international humanitarian law has been violated, those responsible must be held to account,” UNRWA said.

Well before the current fighting, UNRWA said it had given to the Israeli authorities the GPS co-ordinates of all its installations in Gaza, including Asma Elementary School.

“This tragic incident again illustrates the most urgent need for an end to the fighting. It also underlines the sad reality facing those fleeing the violence that unless there is a lasting ceasefire, there will remain pervasive risks to civilian lives in Gaza today,” the agency added.

apparently this happened late last, but it wasn’t reported earlier when i read the news. the united nations had told the israeli terrorists and gave the israeli terrorists their coordinates so that it would not be a target. but if you remember the israeli terrorist invasion of lebanon in july 2006 they did the same thing: they targeted the united nations there too.

i should say there are a few people responding to the israeli terrorism targeting schools (meanwhile there is some motherfucker AMERICAN israeli terrorist soldier that alan fisher just interviewed on al jazeera english who was rationalize the targeting of this unrwa school). of course the initial calls came from palestinians like the palestinian association of university teachers in gaza:

The Palestinian Association of University Teachers in Gaza calls upon all peace-loving, freedom-loving nations, NGOs, universities, intellectuals, cultural and academic institutions, trade unions and syndicates, as well as human rights organizations all over the world to:

1. Immediately impose boycotts, sanctions and divestment on the Apartheid Israeli state.

2. Try the Israeli generals for their on-going crimes against the Palestinian people.

3. Demand a halt to Israel’s savage aggression, end its brutal occupation and lift its suffocating and lethal siege on the Gaza Strip.

4. Implement all UN resolutions related to the inalienable national rights, particularly UN resolution 194 calling for the right of return for the Palestinian refugees to their homes and their property from which they were uprooted by the terrorist Zionist gangs in 1948.

5. Comply with 4th article of the Geneva Convention, the international human rights law, the international humanitarian law, and the universal declaration of human rights as well as all other related agreements.

6. Lift the draconian blockade against Gaza as stipulated by the 1948 convention on Genocide, and consider anyone participating as a war criminal who must be tried for crimes against humanity.

Israel is a rogue state that is a threat and danger to world peace and security; therefore she must be banished and punished by the international community, before it is too late for the people of Palestine, the people of Israel and the people in the surrounding countries.

for those who don’t understand why teachers in palestine would accurately describe the terrorist state of israel as a “rogue state” you may want to look at how one of its chief terrorists and propagandists rationalizes the targeting of a university in gaza:

Tzipi Livni shrugged off the criticism of Israel’s bombing of structures near the Islamic College in Gaza, being heard throughout the academic world.

During Sunday’s cabinet meeting the foreign minister said “here we have departments of life sciences, while for them it is the department of death sciences.”

According to intelligence information gathered by the IDF and Shin Bet, the compound near the Islamic college, bombed twice in the past week, was being used as a chemical lab and as Hamas’ explosives lab in Gaza.

Military officials said terrorists had been working there to produce improved rockets and manufacture mortar shells that were later fired toward Israel’s home front.

The Prime Minister’s Office and the IDF dubbed the lab as “the Palestinian Rafael (Israel’s leading developer of arms related technology).”

a new group, california scholars for academic freedom has come up with a response to these terrorist acts and i am hoping that these folks step up a serious boycott campaign in the u.s.:

California Scholars for Academic Freedom, a group of 100 scholars at 20 California institutions of higher learning, condemns in the strongest possible terms the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip that have targeted the Islamic University and other educational sites.

While we decry Israeli war crimes and violations of human rights, and condemn the massive Israeli bombardment of Gaza which has caused hundreds of deaths, as educators in California institutions of higher learning, we are especially appalled at the destruction of educational institutions and student casualties.

On 27 December, Human Rights Watch reported that an Israeli air-to-ground missile struck a group of students leaving the Gaza Training College, adjacent to the headquarters of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in downtown Gaza City, killing eight students and wounding 19 others. Two days later, on 29 December 2008, Israel bombed the Islamic University of Gaza, destroying the science laboratory block and destroying or damaging other blocks of buildings, including the library. Although Israel has claimed that the science laboratory facilities were used as “a research and development center for Hamas weapons,” this claim has been denied by officials of the Islamic University, and according to the New York Times of 1 January 2009 Israel has not produced any evidence for its claim.

These direct assaults on Palestinian students and educational institutions are only the latest chapter in Israel’s ongoing denial of the right to education guaranteed in international conventions. Since the first uprising in 1987, Israel has systematically frustrated or denied Palestinian students their right to study, not just in the occupied territories, but at universities abroad, as most recently demonstrated by the Israeli government’s refusal to allow students awarded prestigious Fulbright fellowships to leave for the United States. University students living in Gaza have not been able to leave in order to attend universities throughout the world, let alone Birzeit University, and students in the West Bank itself have to negotiate roadblocks and checkpoints to get to their classes — often never making it.

The background to the current crisis is too complicated to detail in a press release. It is, however, important to note, first, that under international law, Israel is still an occupying power, maintaining control of Gaza’s borders, air and water space. It has completely isolated Gaza and wrought a humanitarian catastrophe, as noted by UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk. Second, the current bombing campaign by Israel constitutes collective punishment, which is a violation of international law. Third, Hamas won the majority of seats to the Palestinian Legislative Council in the internationally acknowledged fair election of January 2006.

As California Scholars for Academic Freedom, we will continue to play our mandated role to educate the international public about the right to education and the egregious violation of that right by the Israeli government. We will participate in campaigns aimed at exerting pressure on international authorities and the governments of Israel and the US to implement an immediate cease-fire and begin preparations for an end to the blockade and the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

We insist that Israel has the responsibility to ensure the right to education as mandated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which Israel ratified in 1991. The undermining and disruption of Palestinian education as a result of the deliberate destruction of academic facilities constitutes a violation of a basic human right that will have long-term negative political, economic, and humanitarian ramifications for all people involved.

California Scholars for Academic Freedom is a one-year-old group of 100 academics who teach in 20 California institutions. The group formed as a response to various violations of academic freedom that were arising from both the post-11 September 2001 climate of civil rights violations and the increasing attacks on progressive educators by neo-conservatives. Many attacks were aimed at scholars of Arab, Muslim or Middle Eastern descent or at scholars researching and teaching about the Middle East, Arab and Muslim communities. Our goal of protecting California Scholars based mainly in institutions of higher education has grown broader in scope. We recognize that violations of academic freedom anywhere are threats to academic freedom everywhere.

also, david lloyd set up a website–he’s related to the california group–has a new website set up and is calling for academics to sign a letter addressed to president-elect barack obama, who i promise you will be far more of a terrorist than george w. bush ever was when it comes to this region in which i live. here is david’s letter:

Dear President-Elect Obama
By David Lloyd

Once, in what was perhaps an unguarded moment, you stated that: “Nobody’s suffering more than the Palestinian people”. After days of relentless Israeli bombing in the Gaza strip that has already killed over four hundred people, most of them civilians or policemen, and injured more than two thousand, many of whom may yet die for lack of medical supplies and facilities, your words have never rung more true. And yet, so far, your only response to this latest assault on the Palestinians, that the UN Secretary General diplomatically calls “disproportionate”, has been to defend Israel’s right to respond to mostly harmless rocket attacks.

Does this mean that on the long way to the White House you have trimmed your sails and, for the sake of securing the power you will soon assume, fear now to speak truth to power? Does this mean that, unlike Dr. King, your sense of justice is adjustable for the sake of political expedience? Those who supported you from the early days of your primary campaign did so not on account of your response to economic crisis, but because they believed in your sense of justice and your commitment to put an end to business-as-usual in Washington, and because they believed in your genuine desire to shape a new and different world order.

In 1981, while you were an undergraduate at Occidental College, you were among the first of a courageous group of students and faculty who, while the cause was still unpopular or unheard of, spoke out for divestment from the apartheid regime in South Africa. You knew then that it was imperative to place pressure on a racist regime which shamefully oppressed a black and coloured population that was discriminated against, subject to pass laws and control of its every movement, parceled into Bantustans, and subject to detention, torture and extra-judicial execution. When the black population protested, like the school children of Soweto, they could be summarily shot down by police or army. The ANC, under Nelson Mandela, was proscribed as a terrorist movement, its leaders were imprisoned, tortured or killed, its guerrillas faced the overwhelming power of the South African army, equipped and trained in part by the United States and its European allies. A regime that was so unafraid to use violence in the defense of its discriminatory and racist regime, and so unashamed to do so in the face of international condemnation, could only understand the language of force. The divestment movement in which you so actively participated understood that the euphemistically and cynically named policy of “constructive engagement” was a moral and practical failure and that only the non-violent pressure of a financial boycott on the South African regime had any hope of bringing an end to apartheid without an horrific bloodbath.

Public figures as diverse as Bishop Desmond Tutu and President Jimmy Carter have recognized that Israel too is an apartheid regime, in practice if not in name. South Africa, now a functioning multi-racial democracy, was a white state for a white people. Israel is a Jewish state for a Jewish people. Its non-Jewish, mostly Palestinian Arab citizens are discriminated against in numerous ways, economically and civilly. The dispossessed and ethnically cleansed Palestinian populations, dispersed in the diaspora and in the refugee camps of Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon, are denied the internationally recognized right of return. They have had their lands and homes taken from them by armed and “legal” force, are subject to collective punishment, prolonged states of siege, the absolute and deliberately destructive control of their daily movements. Where South Africa instituted the pass laws, the checkpoints that have proliferated all over the West Bank and at the exits from Gaza prevent students from reaching their schools and hospitals, workers from reaching their places or work, keep farmers from their fields, the sick from the few hospitals that survive to serve them. The illegal settlements, that in contravention of all international laws regarding occupation have proliferated across the West Bank, are designed to be permanent “facts on the ground” and have divided recognized Palestinian territory into segmented islets, into besieged Bantustans, with the intent of preventing a contiguous Palestinian state. A so-called security wall, illegally built, as even the Israeli Supreme Court recognized, on Palestinian territory, has cut farmers from their lands and turned formerly prosperous villages into isolated prisons. Regular Israeli military incursions into Palestinian cities and refugee camps, and bombings from the air, have killed innumerable civilians, many of them children. Since the election of Hamas, in fair and open elections, Israel has subjected the civilian population of Gaza to a prolonged state of siege, designed to suffocate them into submission, depriving them at will of water and power, medical supplies and food, and of access to the outside world. The most recent, all-out assault on Gaza, the disproportionate and bloody use of excessive force, is no act of self-defense, but the dramatic extension of an insidious policy of extermination of a people that refuses to disappear.

Every one of these acts is a crime against humanity. In their ensemble, they constitute one of the most massive, ethnocidal atrocities of modern times. Alone among nations, Israel acts in flagrant violation of international law and UN resolutions and does so with impunity. That it can do so is in large part the consequence of the uncritical support offered to Israel by a succession of American administrations. Without the military and economic aid of the United States, which amounts to more than a third of all US foreign aid, Israel could not have mounted its violent offensives against the Palestinians or Lebanon, could not maintain its security apparatus, could not afford the illegal settlements that seek to expand Israel into what remains of Palestinian territory. The United States has supplied the F-16s that are bombarding the Palestinians, their schools, police stations and mosques, and the cluster bombs that continue to kill and maim children and farmers in southern Lebanon. America continues to support Israel to the tune of billions every year at the expense of US taxpayers and at the expense of its moral standing in the world.

You will continue to do so, according to your own web page, because “our first and incontrovertible commitment in the Middle East must be to the security of Israel, America’s strongest ally in the region.” You and your Vice-President, Joe Biden, not only “defend and support the annual foreign aid package that involves both military and economic assistance to Israel”, but moreover “have advocated increased foreign aid budgets to ensure that these funding priorities are met.” In doing so, you lend your support, in the name of the United States, to a regime no less criminal in its acts and in its policies towards its own minority population and its dispossessed Palestinian neighbors than South Africa was in the 1980s. Then, it was argued, South Africa was our strongest ally in the region, a bulwark in the war against communism, a crucial supplier of uranium and other minerals, a prosperous Western-style democracy, if not the only democracy on the continent. To bring down the South African apartheid regime, it was argued, would be to create chaos in southern Africa, unleash a bloodbath in which whites and blacks alike would suffer, and pave the way for a communist or dictatorial postcolonial regime. The divestment movement, a non-violent coalition of students and academics, union members and churches, came together in the spirit of the Civil Rights movement to challenge those self-serving assumptions. It changed the direction of US foreign policy, disgracing its support of a racist regime, and placed effective pressure on the apartheid regime to begin serious negotiations with the ANC. Through a combination of diplomacy and divestment, we did end apartheid, making way for a functioning multi-racial democracy that confronts its challenges, indeed, but has not dissolved into chaos or tyranny.

It is time for the United States to place a similar pressure on Israel. That Israel has been America’s beneficiary, unchallenged in its war crimes and in its acts of terror, uncontested for its racist civil constitution and illegal occupations, has not been to the United States’ advantage. On the contrary, such unquestioning support of Israel has fueled the legitimate anger of the Islamic world, supplied the justification for terrorism, and continually tarnished the United States’ reputation among the democracies of the world. That the United States has stood so often alone in defending Israel before the court of world opinion in the United Nations is not a sign of its virtue, but of the obstinacy and arrogance of its stance.

But it is not for the sake of the reputation or advantage of the United States that you should take a new path in relation to Israel. It is in the name of justice. It is not just to support the territorial ambitions, realized settlement by settlement, of a Zionist minority in the region. It is not just to continue to supply Israel with the most advanced weapons and the most deadly arms in order that it may murder civilians, children and policemen. It is not just that we should support Israel with all our diplomatic force and financial aid, while leaving Israel’s victims to die slowly for lack of food, medicine, water and power. It is not just that we should sacrifice a dispossessed people for the security of a state that discriminates and expropriates, continually and violently ignores UN resolutions and international appeals, collectively punishes those whose right to resist occupation is recognized in international law. There is no road to peace through such injustice.

It may be that the compromise in the end will be the establishment and security of two separate states. Almost certainly, the only hope of a lasting solution is a single state in Israel/Palestine, committed to the civil and human rights of all peoples within its boundaries, irrespective of religion or ethnicity. That is, after all, the standard to which we hold all other states in the world, Israel alone excepted. But no solution at all will be possible until we hold Israel accountable for its criminal violence and its illegal acts, until we cease to supply it with the means to pursue a course of domination and expansion, with arms and warplanes, with finance and diplomatic support. It is time for constructive disengagement from Israel, financial, diplomatic, military. What worked in the case of South Africa, divestment and pressure, may finally work in the Middle East.

Without such justice, there will be no peace.

David Lloyd
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, January 1, 2009

you may click on the link at the top of the letter if you would like to find out how to become a signatory to it.

there are now 593 martyrs. 2,800 wounded. 75% of gaza has no electricity. hospitals are running on generators.

unrwa’s john ging just said: “the international community must be held responsible for their action and inaction.”