Tag Archives: dubai

on why coca cola should be boycotted (and no pepsi, etc. is not any better)

there was a great article about bds by sousan hammad in counterpunch last month, which begins with a great fanon quote and engages in an important analysis of the psychological complications involved when trying to educate palestinians about bds:

“An underdeveloped people must prove, by its fighting power, its ability to set itself up as a nation, and by the purity of every one of its acts, that it is, even to the smallest detail, the most lucid, the most self-controlled people.”

–Frantz Fanon, “A Dying Colonialism”

There is an echoing sentiment here in Ramallah that Israeli milk is more “tasteful” and “nutritious” than Palestinian milk. The same goes for wine, apples, dates, juice, and just about everything else…except for maybe olives. In fact, Palestinian shopkeepers even stock Israeli-made milk at the front of their store while Palestinian milk sits in a far-to-reach crate collecting dust in the corner.

Palestinians do this for two reasons: one is they truly believe their senses, the other, and possibly more understanding, is because selling Israeli products yield a much higher profit.

A recent study by the Swiss Development Center, an organization that aims to promote Palestinian products, found that Palestinians within the higher socioeconomic strata tend to buy more Israeli goods than those in the lower strata. In French colonial-Martinique, mothers would sing to their children in French instead of their native language because it was more “civilized” to speak the colonizer’s language.

Appropriating the colonialist brand seems to imply prestige – a product, perhaps, of the inferiority complex – but if you push this aside as a psychological epiphenomenon that is a result of colonialism and consider the economic dependency Palestinians are forced to live with, one way to overcome the subjugation of the colonialist-settler (thus racist and discriminatory) policies would be to boycott Israeli products. Besides forcing Palestinians to consume their own products, it would promote and develop a domestic industry and manufactured goods. If it takes a pyramid to list all the nutritional benefits of Palestinian produce, then onward with the label! Whatever it may be, the Palestinians must ascertain that they can have a functioning society without being indebted to Israel.

This is, essentially, what the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is about. Using Apartheid South Africa as a model, a coalition of Palestinian groups felt compelled to combat Israel’s economic power over Palestine, and, in 2005 the BDS movement was created.

Besides placing political pressure on corporations to divest from Israel, BDS focuses strongly on its consumer boycott efforts, which according to the BDS website, is to put “pressure on companies whose exports are linked to some of the most evident aspects of the Israeli occupation and apartheid.”

One of the many campaigns of BDS is to target stores that sell Israeli products and persuade them to stop stocking them. While much of the campaign is based on Israel’s exports to the West, activists here in the West Bank also try to deter Palestinian shopkeepers from selling produce that is grown in Israeli settlements. (Again, these yield more profit for Palestinians.) It is highly unlikely, though, that Palestinians will collectively and instantaneously dump their Israeli products for Palestinian manufactured goods and produce because an activist tells them so. They want to know if there is proof of sustainability.

A BDS Victory

Enter the story of Veolia and the light rail.

In 1902, Theodore Herzl wrote in his book, Altneuland, that the future of Jerusalem would be made of “modern neighborhoods with electric lines, tree-lined boulevards” and that Jerusalem would become “a metropolis of the 20th century”.

Materialized a century later as the Jerusalem light rail project, the father of Zionism’s idea of an electric-lined-boulevard is halfway in construction. When, and if, completed, the light rail will conveniently accommodate Jewish-Israelis, connecting West Jerusalem to Jewish settlements. The light rail travels through Palestinian neighborhoods, but makes no stops and as one Israeli blogger put it “…all the windows have been reinforced to be resistant to stones and Molotov cocktails.”

But officials are now facing a major setback: In June, Ha’aretz reported that Veolia, a French transportation company that was to operate the light rail post-construction, abandoned the project because of the “political pressure” it was facing: a direct implication of the BDS “Derail Veolia and Alstom Campaign”.

Said an exultant Omar Barghouti, a BDS founding member:

“Veolia’s reported intention to withdraw from the illegal JLR project gives the BDS movement an important victory: success in applying concerted, intensive pressure on a company that is complicit in the Israeli occupation and colonization of Palestinian land, enough to compel it to withdraw from an illegal project. This may well usher in a new era of corporate accountability, whereby companies that are profiting from Israel’s illegal colonial and racist regime over the indigenous people of Palestine will start to pay a real price in profits and image for their collusion.”

The pressure from human rights activists and lawyers throughout Europe battered Veolia, costing it multiple contracts – a loss that amounted to more than $7 billion. From Stockholm to Bordeaux, companies dumped Veolia on account of its stake in a project that violates international law. Veolia, along with Alstom – the engineering enterprise behind the light rail – were taken to a French court by Association France-Palestine Solidarité along with attorneys from the PLO legal counsel. AFPS filed the complaint against Alstom and Veolia in 2007, arguing that the 8.3-mile project violates international law since East Jerusalem is not sovereign Israeli territory. “Our main argument is that the light rail project is intended to serve illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and thus it’s part of illegal settlement infrastructure and by being involved in project, the French companies are violating international law,” says Azem Bishara, an attorney with the Negotiation Support Unit in Ramallah.

When the Arab League organized a boycott of Israel after its colonization of Palestine in 1948, Arab countries refused to deal with Israel by boycotting their products, services and even refusing to allow Israelis into their country. Lebanon and Syria are the only countries that allegedly adhere to the boycott today, as they have yet to sign trade agreements with Israel. The Israeli Chamber of Commerce reported Israel was losing an average of 10 percent in export revenue per year when the boycott was in its prime. This spearheaded the fight by the American Jewish Committee to pressure Congress to pass an anti-boycott legislation. In 1977, then-President Jimmy Carter, who now advocates the window-dressing of Palestinian national independence, signed a law that would impose a fine on American companies that cooperated with the boycott.

It seems safe to assume that this legislative effort by AJC indicated that it, at least, believed the Arab League boycott was having some effect.

Although it was with similar calculations and campaigning that U.S. and European companies pulled out of South Africa over 20 years ago, how do we know companies like Veolia won’t be targeted by anti-boycott Israeli investors? Whether or not Veolia goes through with its withdrawal, the question remains: is it really a victory? And how can an effective boycott promote economic independence so that Palestinian milk will no longer have to be in the dustbin of stores? These are questions the boycott campaign has to confront.

one of the products that is not mentioned in the above article is coca cola, which many palestinians insist is palestinian because the owner of the franchise is palestinian (zahi khoury) and because they bottle it in al bireh, which i’ve written about before. coca cola is one of the most evil companies in the world for so many reasons. but i was delighted to discover a wonderful critique of sonallah ibrahim’s novel the committee. ever since i read his novel zaat i became enamored with his politics and his writing style. i have been dying to read this novel for a while now and finally got around to it this week. (my form of escapism and procrastination all rolled into one delightful novel.) the egyptian narrator of the novel, who is under investigation by an anonymous, foreign, non-Arabic speaking committee described as “consist[ing] entirely of officers, some of whom sometimes wear civilian clothes, or it consists of civilians, some of whom sometimes wear military uniforms,” (111) to whom he reveals the following:

Since its advent, Coca-Cola has been linked with the major trends of the age, sometimes sharing to a large extent in their formation. The American pharmacist Pemberton synthesized it in Atlanta, famous as the capital of Georgia, the birthplace of the American president Carter and of the notorious Ku Klux Klan. This was during 1886, the very year in which the famous Statue of Liberty, that symbol of the New World, was completed.

As for the bottle, it was one product of an American “war of liberation.” Having vanquished the Indians, the United States plunged into the Spanish-American War in Cuba, which ended in 1899, with the proclamation of “independence” for Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. An American soldier, who, coincidentally, had the same name as the great American philosopher of the preceding century, Benjamin Franklin, saw a bottle of a carbonated beverage made from banana syrup. On returning home, he obtained bottling rights for a new product. The bottle’s shape varied until it finally stabilized in the universally recognized form of “a girl with an hourglass figure.”

It may have been Coca-Cola that first shattered the traditional image of the ad, previously a mere description of a product. Thus it laid the cornerstone of that towering structure, that leading art of the age, namely, advertising. Certainly, it broke the long-standing illusion of a relationship between thirst and heat through the slogan: “Thirst knows no season.” It was ahead of its time in the use of radio and neon for advertisements. it sponsored television shows, produced films, and backed new international stars and idols such as actors, the Beatles, and the pioneers of rock and roll, the twist, and pop.

Coca-Cola went through two world wars and emerged from them victorious. It sold five billion bottles during the seven years of World War II. Then it slipped into Europe under the wing of the Marshall Plan, which backed the war-weakened European currencies by means of American products and loans.

It then took its place as a leading consumer product along with Ford cars, Parker pens, Ronson lighters, but still kept its finger on the pulse of today’s ever-changing world. With the advent of the great age of installment plans, and neighbor competing with neighbor for the newest model car with the largest trunk, capable of holding enough groceries to fill the largest fridge, Coca-Cola marketed the family-sized bottle, the “Maxi.”

When the United States cooperated in a new “war of liberation” in Korea, Coca-Cola created the tin can, in order to parachute Coke to the troops. The image of an American opening a can with his teeth has become a symbol of manhood and bravery. However, the can’s importance is not limited to this image or the way in which it displaced the bottle during the subsequent Vietnam War, but is outweighed by something more significant. It inaugurated the age of the “empty”: a container to be discarded after its contents have been consumed.

Without doubt, the success of Coca-Cola goes back primarily to the excellence of the organizational structure it pioneered: the pyramid. The original company comprises the tip, and the independent bottlers and distributors come below it, forming the base. At first, this unique structure enabled it to obtain the necessary financing to saturate the American market. Later, it helped the company avoid Roosevelt’s campaign against monopolies and finally allowed Coca-Cola to infiltrate the world. In opening world markets, the company relied on establishing independent franchises headed by well-known local capitalists in every country. This practice produced astounding results. Most strikingly, the American bottle came to symbolize indigenous nationalism. (19-22)

coca-cola is a metaphor for colonialism, corruption, and consumption in the novel. and he shows precisely how deviously coca-cola (like all foreign franchises of american products) works to make people think that it is somehow “indigenous” because the product is produced locally. even though that product always has to send proceeds home to the u.s., and then, of course, they send them directly back to the zionist entity for investment (see post i linked to earlier on this). ibrahim shows how coca-cola came to invade egypt later in the novel:

As you have learned, your honors, this bottle entered our country at the end of the ’40s and beginning of the ’50s under the aegis of the vast advertising campaign that facilitated its spread to even the most remote villages and hamlets. Coca-Cola became a household word.

After the revolution, Coca-Cola’s popularity soon began to wane. I found out that the Doctor, among other factors, was responsible. To wit, he tried to compete by using a local beverage destined to succeed only for a short while.

However, the crushing blow fell at the beginning of the ’60s, when the Arab governmental agencies boycotting Israel discovered that Coca-Cola had given the Israelis bottling rights. As a result, Coca-Cola was blacklisted and barred from Arab countries. The market was wide open for the Doctor. (73-74)

ibrahim’s narrator gets even more specific in his indictment of coca-cola towards the end of the novel:

Many obscure phenomena are linked to the evolution of this well-known beverage.

For example, I read of a far-reaching crusade launched in 1970 in the United States over the mis-treatment of a quarter million migrant workers on farms controlled by Coca-Cola. I mean farms, not factories. This crusade spread to television and from there to Congress. Senator Walter Mondale, at that time a member of the Committee for Migrant Workers, summoned the president of Coca-Cola to answer officially, before the United States Senate, the accusations leveled against Coca-Cola.

Not three years later, the president of Coca-Cola participated in selecting that same Mondale for membership in the Trilateral Commission I told you about in our first meeting. Then he selected him as vice president to President Carter.

At the same time as Coca-Cola was accused of the theft of a handful of dollars from its workers, we read that it dedicated vast sums for charitable and cultural works ranging from an entire university budget to an important prize for artistic and literary creativity. It also presented a huge grant to the Brooklyn Museum in 1977 to rescue Egyptian pharaonic antiquities from collapse.

Coca-Cola, according to statistics for 1978, distributes two hundred million bottles of soft drinks daily throughout the world, leaving tap water as its only rival. So, now we see it sponsoring projects for the desalinization of sea water, relying on the Aqua Chem Company that I bought a few years ago, in 1970 to be precise.

These contradictions confused me, so I did several studies on Coca-Cola. Its policy was to remain committed to the two basic principles set down by its great founders. The first principle was to make every participant in the Coca-Cola enterprise rich and happy. The second was to restrict its energies to creating a single commodity: the well-known bottle.

But the winds of change that blew in the early ’60s forced a choice between the principles. In order not to sacrifice the first, Coca-Cola preferred to diversify its products. It began by producing other types of carbonated beverages, then extended its interests to farming peanuts, coffee, and tea. It had extensive holdings int hat same state of Georgia where it was founded. its farms neighbored those of the American president Carter, which perhaps was behind its involvement in public affairs, both domestic and international, and thus its policy of diversification grew all out of proportion.

Obviously, this policy couldn’t help but be successful. In this regard, it is sufficient to mention the return of the familiar bottle to both China and Egypt through the initiative in both countries of brave patriots, who acted on their principles.

However, this success produced a strange phenomenon. With modern methods and lower production costs gained by relying on poorly paid migrant workers, Coca-Cola became the largest producer of fresh fruit in the Western world. But, sadly, it found itself forced to dump a large portion of the yield into the sea to keep the world market from collapsing.

There was no solution to this problem except to continue diversifying. Coca-Cola exploited its great assets and expertise in the field of agriculture by sponsoring many nutritional programs in underdeveloped countries, among them a project to farm legumes in Abou Dhabi, undertaken by its subsidiary, Aqua Chem. Likewise, it extensively researched the production of drinks rich in proteins and other nutrients, thereby compensating consumers for the surpluses it had been forced to dump in the ocean. (124-127)

there is so much more to the novel, but i especially love the extended commentary on the evil, insidious inner workings of coke. and, of course, which was one of the first companies to move into occupied iraq and occupied afghanistan? coca cola. here is an article on coca cola’s war profiteering in afghanistan from 2006:

Coca-Cola has returned to war-torn Afghanistan with a gleaming $25m factory, calling the country a ‘missing link’ in its international business.

Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai opened the 60,000sq-metre Coca-Cola bottling plant in capital city Kabul, more than a decade after civil war forced the soft drinks group out of the country.

It is a controversial and risky move for Coca-Cola at a time when violence directed against NATO forces in the country, including American soldiers, appears in danger of spiralling out of control.

Coca-Cola’s Kabul plant will be operated under franchise by local businessman Habib Gulzar, and is expected to focus on core carbonated soft drink brands such as Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite. Bottled water could be added in the future.

Selcuk Erden, president of Coca-Cola’s Southern Eurasia division, which will oversee Afghanistan, said: “Afghanistan was the missing link in our geography and we were following this country very carefully.”

The group said the country had the potential to be a strong emerging market for its drinks.

Critics have suggested Coca-Cola is not what Afghans really need right now.

Afghanistan is ranked as the fifth poorest country in the world by the United Nations. “The depth of poverty in Afghanistan is reflected consistently in all human development indicators, revealing a mosaic of a nation in need of sustained assistance,” a recent UN development report says.

and here is an article on coca cola’s war profiteering in iraq from the guardian by rory carroll:

Coca-Cola has returned to Iraq after an absence of nearly four decades, triggering a cola war in a lucrative but potentially hostile market.

Coke ended its 37-year exile last week by setting up a joint-venture bottling company to compete with Pepsi for 26 million consumers.

The upsides for Coke include a thirst-inducing climate and burgeoning Islamic conservatism which has banned beer and other alcoholic drinks in much of the country.

The downsides, besides Pepsi’s head start, are a raging insurgency and banditry which threaten supply routes, and a perception that Coca-Cola is linked to Israel and “American Zionists”.

Coke withdrew from Iraq in 1968 when the Arab League declared a boycott because of business ties to Israel, leaving Pepsi to dominate the Middle East market for soft drinks. The boycott ended in 1991, but sanctions and wars kept Coke out of Iraq.

After a trickle of Coca-Cola imports from neighbouring countries, the company is attempting a proper comeback by launching a joint venture with a Turkish company, Efes Invest, and its Iraqi partner HMBS, which will reportedly bottle the Coke in Dubai and distribute it across Iraq.

“A local bottling company will employ local people to do this,” a Coca-Cola spokesman said yesterday. “This happens in most of the 200 countries in which we operate around the world, despite the perception of us as an American company.”

The response in Baghdad yesterday was mixed. One drink wholesaler, Abbas Salih, said the initiative was doomed. “Coca-Cola does business with those who are shooting our brothers in Palestine,” he said. “How can we drink it?”

when i was searching for material on why coca cola is evil i stumbled upon this great article from 2004 that i had never found that encapsulates the numerous reasons why one should boycott coca cola by mohammed mesbahi, which is long, but well worth the read for its variety of issues (health, environmental, political, etc.):

Coca Cola was invented in the United States in 1886 as a medicine, rather than a drink, to stimulate the brain and the nervous system, from a mixture of coca leaves and kola nuts, sweetened with sugar, hence the name Coca Cola. It was not until 1893 that Coca Cola was sold and promoted as a drink. Gradually the cocaine was eliminated, but in order to maintain the stimulant effect caffeine was substituted.

Phosphoric acid (0.055%) is now added to increase the fizziness and zingy taste. This gives the drink a pH of 2.8, making it almost as acidic as lemon juice (pH 2.2), which is why more sugar has to be added in order for it to taste sweet. Weak acidic solutions will dissolve the calcium in teeth over a period of time and will also interfere with calcium metabolism. This is especially of concern to post-menopausal women, who are already have a tendency towards osteoporosis.

Stimulants and sugar are habit forming, and Coca Cola contains large quantities of both. It is now sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. Fructose is a simple carbohydrate.

Carbohydrates are divided into two broad categories:

simple carbohydrates,

e.g. glucose,

fructose (fruit sugar),

lactose (milk sugar),

sucrose (table sugar) etc.

complex carbohydrates,

e.g. starch

cellulose

High fructose corn syrup is produced by processing corn starch to yield glucose and then processing the glucose to produce a high proportion (80%) of fructose. This is not natural fructose, as found in fruit, since fruit usually contains 50% fructose, 50% glucose and is absorbed into the blood stream slowly, because the fruit also contains high levels of fibre. The fructose in high fructose corn syrup is absorbed into the body rapidly and transformed into glucose by the liver. There is currently some concern surrounding the consumption of high levels of fructose because it seems to interfere with copper metabolism and with the formation of collagen and elastin, essential components of the growing body.

When we eat (or drink) a high dose of sugar (sucrose, glucose or fructose) our blood glucose level rises suddenly, producing a feeling of elation. However high blood glucose levels also stimulate the pancreas to release insulin, which causes the glucose to be removed from the blood stream and converted into fat. This results in low blood sugar, low energy, irritability and low mood. At this point, we crave the feeling of elation associated with the sugar. This is why soft drinks are habit forming.

When, on the other hand, we eat complex carbohydrates, such as potatoes, bread, pasta, rice etc., the body breaks down these complex molecules gradually, over a period of several hours, into molecules of glucose. This glucose is released into the blood stream gradually, thus maintaining blood glucose at the level required by the body and brain for proper functioning.

Putting high quantities of sugar into drinks is an insidious way of introducing calories into people. People eating a chocolate bar are aware that they are consuming something fattening. People, especially children, consuming the same amount of calories in a drink are not. Regular consumption of drinks containing high levels of sugar lead to a gradual build up of stored fat and contribute to the rising levels of obesity in the West. Over-consumption of sugar causes over-stimulation of the pancreas. Over a period of many years, the pancreas loses its ability to produce adequate quantities of insulin. This leads to late-onset diabetes. Levels of late-onset diabetes have been rising steadily in the West over the past century.

Coca Cola, one of the world’s largest corporations, worth about ninety five billion dollars, owes much of its success to the massive marketing and advertising used to promote the product. It became a corporation early in the twentieth century and immediately began an aggressive advertising campaign throughout the US. The corporation used some advertising techniques of dubious morality, including funding the American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry and suppressing a World Health Organisation Report on healthy eating. The report stated that soft drink consumption contributed to obesity. But possibly the policy which caused the most public outrage was that of paying schools to sell Coca Cola in vending machines. The corporation realised that if they could sell Coca Cola to children, by the time they finished school they would become confirmed Coca Cola drinkers and would continue to buy the drink for the rest of their lives. This strategy was so successful that Coca Cola rapidly became the most popular drink in the US.

Long before the US market had become saturated, the corporation decided to target the next place with money to spend on drinks, i.e. Europe, where they now sell thirty percent of their product. Vending machines in schools soon became common place, despite opposition from concerned parents and teachers. Under-funded state schools found it difficult to refuse the money offered by Coca Cola.

The imposition of permanent advertising in schools, in the form of vending machines, certainly justifies a boycott, and indeed some schools have organised them, in protest against the Corporation’s monopoly of products sold in school vending machines. Groups at Universities in the US and the UK are also running boycotts in protest against Coke’s human rights abuses. Berkeley, New York University, Harvard, Yale, Rutgers, Macalister and University College Dublin all have ongoing boycotts.

Coca Cola has a history of human rights abuse. “It is a fact that the soft drinks giant from Atlanta, Georgia collaborated with the Nazi-regime throughout its reign from 1933 – 1945 and sold countless millions of bottled beverages to Hitler’s Germany.” From Coca-Cola Goes to War, Jones E and Ritzman F.

While the corporation, back in the USA, was promoting Coca Cola as a morale booster for the US troops, their German representative, Max Keith was sponsoring Nazi events, including the 1936 Olympics and situating advertisements close to Nazi leaders at rallies. Sales of Coke in Germany went from zero in 1929 to 4 million cases in 1939. Coke became the most popular drink in Germany and in 1944 the company sold 2 million cases. When the Nazis began their invasions of Italy, France, Holland, Luxembourg, Belgium and Norway Walter Oppenhof, Coca Cola’s German company lawyer, and Max Keith were employed by the Nazis’ Office of Enemy Property. They travelled with Nazi troops and were responsible for setting up Nazi Coca-Cola factories in expropriated soft drinks plants in countries occupied by the Nazis. They staffed these factories with kidnapped civilians. (See: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~CLASS/AM483_95/projects/coke/coke.html ).

But Coca Cola’s association with fascist regimes is not confined to world war history.

In the 1970s workers at Coca Cola bottling factories in Guatemala were killed, in the 1980s Coke supported the Apartheid system in South Africa and in the 1990s they supported the brutal Abacha regime in Nigeria.

Currently SINAL TRAINAL, the Colombian workers’ union is promoting a world wide boycott in order to raise awareness of the intimidation, torture, kidnapping, illegal detention and murder of workers in the Coca Cola bottling plants in Colombia.

On the other side of the world, in several South Indian states, including Kerala and Tamil Nadu, boycotts have been running for years, despite police repression, in protest against Coca Cola’s excessive water consumption, pollution of local wells and destruction of agriculture. The Corporation’s bottling factories have been pumping water from boreholes at such a rate that they have dried up the underground aquifers. They have also been distributing the sludge produced by the factory as fertilizer. It is true that this sludge does contain substances which fertilize the soil, but Exeter University analysed it for the Kerala Pollution Control Board and found that it contained dangerously high levels of toxic metals, including cadmium. These toxic metals leach into the ground water and are taken up by crops and therefore ingested by the local population. After the BBC aired a programme about this, Coca Cola was forced to stop dumping their toxic waste on the local population, but nothing was done to clean up the already polluted environment. The protest and boycott in India continue.

The Coca Cola Corporation owns four of the world’s most popular five soft drinks: Coca Cola, diet Coke, Fanta and Sprite.

Over the past five years, Coca Cola Corporation has realised that, as water resources dwindle worldwide, even more money can be made from selling bottled water. Their sales of water are growing exponentially. Brands include Bonaqua, Dasani (US) Kinley (India), Mount Franklin (Australia) Malvern (UK) and Ciel (Mexico), but soft drinks still account for 85% of their market (at the moment). They plan to expand massively in the bottled water market but most of their advertising will go into promotion of soft drinks. Soon Coca Cola, Pepsi and Nestle will be the three main corporations selling bottled water, an iniquitous market, often depriving people of their local source of spring water, and selling it back to them at unaffordable prices.

Max Keiser, investment activist, and Zak Goldsmith, editor of the Ecologist, have formed a partnership to target Coca Cola by bringing down the value of its shares. Keiser has developed a system for measuring a corporation’s vulnerability to a boycott. He calls it the Karmabanque (KbQ) Index. The KbQ index 2004 tracks the share price of high-performing but socially and environmentally irresponsible corporations, assuming their shares had been sold short on the 1 January 2004. A short sale is a bet that a trader makes that a company’s share price will fall. The further the company’s share price falls, the more money the trader makes. Selling short stocks hurts corporations because it deflates their share price. The KbQ rating determines where a company appears in the index, and combines the amount of dissent directed at a company and its boycott vulnerability ratio (BVR). A company’s BVR indicates how susceptible its stock price is to a consumer boycott. In order to work out a corporation’s vulnerability, its market capitalization should be divided by trailing annual sales. Currently, ExxonMobil’s BVR is close to $1, whereas Coca-Cola’s is closer to $5. In other words the Coca Cola Corporation is five times more vulnerable to a boycott than ExxonMobil.

Coca Cola’s appalling human rights record, combined with its high boycott vulnerability ratio make it the ideal target for a boycott. This is why Max Keiser and Zak Goldsmith have decided to launch a hedge fund, which will be used to buy Coca Cola shares. They will then sell the shares for less than they bought them for, which will bring down their value on the international stock market. They are relying on the continuing boycott of Coca Cola products to bring the share price down still further. They will then buy the shares at a lower price than they sold them for and sell them again for even less. All profits from this venture will be donated to the victims of Coca Cola in countries such as India and Colombia.

Max Keiser and Zak Goldsmith say that for every 1,000 new boycotters, they will increase the size of the hedge fund by £5000. Goldsmith’s Ecologist Magazine will publicize the boycott and audit, track and publish the results. Keiser recommends that pressure groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth should decide what to boycott according to their Boycott Vulnerability Ratio.

There has been a history of Coca Cola boycotts in many parts of the world. But this is the first time that an investor has become actively involved in a world wide Coca Cola boycott. Max Keiser and Zak Goldsmith deserve our support. There is every reason to hope that they will succeed in bringing down the market value of Coca Cola, but for that they need more people and organisations to join the boycott.

the hypocrisy of a “benevolent” empire (on bushama’s cairo speech)

ashraf omar's "welcome obama"

i do not have a satellite dish in my new apartment and my internet connection is a bit slow here so i watched barack obama’s speech to the so-called muslim world on al jazeera’s website. as he began his speech today the zionist entity was busy flying american-made f-16s in the sky above palestine in its “turning point 3″ test run for its doomsday scenario (read: its next offensive attack on its neighbors). and zionist terrorist colonists attacked palestinian farms for the fourth day in a row as obama got ready to deliver his speech. and back in the united states, american zionists were busy figuring out a new way to scrap any possibility of palestinian sovereignty by finding ways to give palestinian land to jordan and egypt:

As U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to deliver a major foreign policy speech in Cairo and his administration pushes aggressively for a two-state solution in Israel-Palestine, neoconservatives and other foreign policy hawks back home are calling on him to scrap the two-state solution altogether and consider alternatives to Palestinian statehood.

The most prominent alternative they are pushing is the so-called “three-state solution” or “Jordanian option”, in which the West Bank would be returned to Jordanian control and the Gaza Strip to Egyptian control.

Although calls for a “three-state solution” have cropped up periodically over the years and have been dismissed by most Middle East experts as unrealistic, in recent weeks the three-state approach has received an unusual amount of attention and support on the right.

perhaps in keeping with that idea that more and more of palestine will belong to usurping entities, this morning also saw 180 palestinian bedouin losing their homes due to israeli terrorist forces demolishing those houses as a part of their sixty-one year ethnic cleansing project:

The Israeli military began demolishing a Bedouin encampment home to 180 people in the northern Jordan Valley, in the West Bank on Thursday morning.

According to UN officials monitoring events on the ground, 20 Israeli military jeeps, a bulldozer and a container arrived at the Bedouin community of Ras Al-Ahmar at 7:30 on Thursday morning and began destroying homes. The residents of the community evacuated the area on Tuesday, setting up makeshift camps nearby, after demolition orders were issued on Monday.

The military issued demolition orders for Bedouin homes belonging to 34 families, a total of 304 people in Ras Al-Ahmar and nearby Al-Hadidiya. The military gave the residents 48 hours to evacuate on the basis that the area is a “closed military zone”

Al-Hadidya is located near the Israeli settlement of Roi, whereas Ras Al-Ahmar is located north of Hamra military checkpoint east of Tammun.

All of the community of Al-Hadidya received demolition orders except for one family, putting the community’s very existence at risk. In Ras Al-Ahmar, 17 out of 45 families received the orders, some of which are labeled eviction notices and other demolition orders.

in the lead up to obama’s address egyptian blogger hossam el-hamalawy wrote an op ed for the new york times, which he reposted on his blog stating:

THE bridge I take to work in central Cairo was painted overnight. On the roads, colored concrete blocks were installed in turns where car accidents happen daily. Main streets in the neighboring city of Giza are suddenly blossoming with flowers. Street lamps are polished, and they are actually working. This could mean only one thing: our country is receiving an “important” foreign visitor.

President Obama should not have decided to come to Egypt. The visit is a clear endorsement of President Hosni Mubarak, the ailing 81-year-old dictator who has ruled with martial law, secret police and torture chambers. No words that Mr. Obama will say can change this perception that Americans are supporting a dictator with their more than $1 billion in annual aid.

The Western press is clearly excited about Mr. Obama’s “significant” choice of Egypt, and his destination, Cairo University, which the news media seem to consider a symbol of enlightenment, secularism and freedom.

The truth is that for years, Cairo University students have been demonstrating against the rising cost of education, demanding the university subsidize expensive text books, only to be rebuked by the authorities, who claim no funds are available. Yet the university somehow managed to find the money to polish up the building dome that will shine above Mr. Obama’s head when he delivers his address.

As for the other host of the president’s visit, Al Azhar University, one of its students, Kareem Amer, is languishing in prison after university officials reported his “infidel, un-Islamic” views to the government, earning him a four-year sentence in 2007. In advance of the visit, Egyptian security forces have rounded up hundreds of foreign students at Al Azhar.

We do want allies in the West, but not from inside the White House. Our real allies are the human rights groups and unions that will pressure the Obama administration to sever all ties to the Mubarak dictatorship. Their visits to Egypt are more meaningful, even if unlike Mr. Obama, they do not get a lavish reception.

a number of open letters to obama were published today, too, from various groups starting with the cairo institute for human rights studies which outlined how they would like to see him put his money where his mouth is:

For example, the appropriate measures could be taken to end the discriminatory, degrading practices endured by Arabs and Muslims at American airports, for the message that these practices send stands at odds with your declaration in Turkey. Indeed, the message communicated is “We consider you all enemies until proven otherwise.”

Secondly, the new US administration must realize that the failure of the previous administration to address the Palestinian issue fairly and justly has been the primary source of an increasing sense of humiliation among the Palestinian people and other peoples in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Certainly the new administration’s adoption of the right of the Palestinian people to an independent state side by side with Israel is a step in the right direction, but your administration must translate this general principle into real-life policies, first and foremost by abandoning America’s absolute political and diplomatic support for Israel and the war crimes and aggression committed by the this state, the sole remaining example in the world today of a racist, colonial occupation. Your administration must adopt decisive and immediate policies to stop the expansion of settlements, which swallow more land every day and thereby make the two-state solution you advocate impossible.

Thirdly, giving respect and support for human rights and democratic freedoms in this area of the world is the principal avenue by which to foster a sense of dignity for peoples in the Arab and Muslim worlds who are no different from other people in the world. While we affirm that the destiny of these peoples ultimately depends on their own struggles and sacrifices to achieve these rights and liberties, an American foreign policy that embodied and represented human rights and democratic values and ended US support for allied authoritarian regimes in the Arab and Muslim worlds would give a substantial boost to these struggles, given that the majority of ruling regimes in this region are much more sensitive to the international community’s views than they are to public opinion in their own countries.

likewise hamas sent obama a letter via code pink who delivered it to the american embassy in cairo:

The letter was written by Dr. Ahmad Yousef, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the dissolved government in Gaza.

Hamas called on Obama to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip, and to stop the ongoing construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The letter called on Obama to communicate with Hamas to prove the seriousness of his administration, and called on him to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as the first step towards positive relations between the United States and the Arab and Muslim worlds.

In the letter, Hamas welcomed Obama’s visit to the region and considered it a positive towards bridging the gap between the US and the Arab world.

It added that it is unfortunate the Obama would not be visiting the Gaza Strip to listen to the opinions of Hamas, and observe the conditions in the coastal region.

“We recently received several delegates, congress members, EU parliamentarians, several solidarity groups and Mr. Richard Goldstone, head of the investigation committee of the United Nations, in addition to the Code Pink group”, Hamas says in its letter.

“It is essential to visit Gaza in order to observe the destruction Israel caused during its 22-day offensive, several groups came to Gaza such as AMNESTY international”, the letter reads, “the killing and destruction could not have happened without US support to Israel, weapons and financial support paid for by US taxpayers”.

“You are the owners of the weapons, and the financial support to Israel, you should observe how Israel violated the International Law, and used those weapons against our people”, the letter adds.

“Mr. President, before you took office, you were a very distinguished Law teacher, and your administration said it would boost the role of law in the Arab and Islamic worlds” the letter states, “The International Court ruled in 2004 that all of the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, are occupied territories, and that those territories belong to the Palestinians”.

“The court recognized the Palestinian right of self determination, and independence. Israeli settlements are illegal and not a single judge of the 15 judges of the International Court of Justice, ever objected to this ruling”.

The Hamas letter also states that the United Nations, the General Assembly, and every human rights group agree that the Israeli siege is illegal, and violates the international law because it is a form of collective punishment.

“We at the government formed by Hamas, are committed to a just solution to the conflict, a solution that is coherent with the internal law and the basic principles of human rights, we are willing to hold talks with all parties, with respect, and without any preconditions”.

“What the people are looking for is real change, a change the ends the construction of settlements, a change that adopts a parallel and non biased policy that respects the international law”.

the free gaza movement also published an open letter to obama echoing some of the above concerns:

Tomorrow you travel to Egypt to give one of the most important speeches of your presidency. With the words you deliver you have said that you want to “reset” U.S. relations with the Muslim world and create a fundamental change for the better. We sincerely wish you well. But you have also said that “part of being a good friend is being honest.” Let’s be honest.

Israel’s ongoing occupation and colonization of Palestinian land and the United States’ unquestioned financial, military and political support for Israel is at the heart of the negative perceptions and bitter anger that many Arabs and Muslims have of the United States. Tomorrow, we hope to hear from you a commitment to aligning U.S. policy in the Middle East with U.N. Resolutions and international law.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights gives everyone the right to freely enter and exit one’s own country. You will exercise this right when you arrive in Egypt tomorrow and then return to the United States. This is a right that Palestinians–particularly those trapped in Gaza–are routinely denied.

* Over 200 Palestinian medical patients in Gaza, many critically ill, are unable to seek adequate treatment because Israeli authorities regularly deny Palestinian patients the right to travel abroad to receive the medical treatment that is not available in Gaza; at the same time import of many medicines and medical equipment into Gaza is prevented by Israel.

* Over 700 Palestinian students in Gaza, many with scholarships, are unable to attend their universities abroad because Israel regularly denies them this right.

* Thousands of Palestinians abroad are unable to visit their families because Israel will not allow them to re-enter their own country.

When you arrive in Egypt you will travel to your accommodations in a car maintained with spare parts banned to Palestinians, powered by gasoline denied to the people of Gaza. You will use electric lights that do not often work in Gaza, because Israel blocks the fuel needed to run Gaza’s electrical grid. You may enjoy a cup of coffee or tea during your visit – commodities Israel will not allow into Gaza.

The truth is that Israel lets in less than 20% of the ordinary supplies needed in Gaza, and allows no reconstruction materials whatsoever to enter. As a consequence over 95% of all industries have collapsed, creating massive unemployment and poverty. The purpose of the Israeli blockade is to punish and break an entire people. Collective punishment is strictly prohibited under international law, yet it remains Israel’s primary policy in regards to the Palestinian people.

On June 25th, the Free Gaza Movement sets sail on our eighth voyage to challenge the brutal Israeli blockade of Gaza. Though we have been threatened and our ships rammed by the Israeli navy, we will not be deterred. We sail in the spirit of the Freedom Riders who, in the year you were born, risked their lives so that African-Americans could travel freely in the United States. We sail in the spirit of international cooperation that helped create the United Nations, in the spirit of the international civil resistance that overcame Apartheid.

President Obama, you have based your political career on what you call the “audacity of hope” – the faith that each of us, individually and collectively, can change things for the better. But faith without action is dead. We too believe in hope, but from our experience we know that hope alone will not change the world. Like you, we know that the price and promise of our mutual humanity demands that each of us treat one another with dignity and respect, and that all of us strive to insure that our sisters and brothers around the world are free to make of their lives what they will, and pursue their full measure of happiness.

Mister President, you led the fight in the U.S. Senate to insure that aid was actually delivered to people after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. A man-made disaster continues to devastate the people of Gaza; due to Israel’s ongoing hermetic closure of the Gaza Strip over 80% of the population there require food assistance just in order to survive. We hope your speech tomorrow in Egypt is successful but, at a minimum, you must use your privilege to demand and secure open access to Gaza for all international humanitarian, reconstruction, and developmental supplies. Words matter, but words are not enough.

We in the Free Gaza Movement will sail to Gaza again and again and again, in vigorous unarmed resistance, until the Israeli blockade is forever shattered and the Palestinian people have free access to the rest of the world.

Please recognize that the fact that we even have to ask (let alone risk our lives) to be allowed to provide food to the hungry, medicine to the sick, and shelter to the homeless is in itself an obscenity. We look forward to hearing from you an uncompromising commitment for the immediate end of the criminal siege of Gaza, as well as an assurance that respect for the human rights, dignity and equality of the Palestinian people will be at the core of your administration’s policy toward the Israeli-Arab conflict.

if you read through the above open letters you will no doubt get a sense of the issues at stake here in palestine as well as in egypt and also for muslim americans. and if you compare these desires and requests above to the text of his speech (see below) you will see the hot air spewed from obama’s lips. it is hot air because whatever small things he may have said that some people in this region may read as hopeful, he will do nothing. nothing will change for the majority of the muslims who live under america’s bombs and who live under american and/or zionist colonialism and occupation. below are excerpts from his speech with my commentary mixed in.

Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. This has bred more fear and mistrust.

So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.

I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. No single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.” That is what I will try to do – to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.

Part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I am a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.

As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam – at places like Al-Azhar University – that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.

who does he think he is speaking to? is he really addressing muslims? does he really think they do not know this history?

I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America’s story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President John Adams wrote, “The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims.” And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, served in government, stood for civil rights, started businesses, taught at our Universities, excelled in our sports arenas, won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim-American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers – Thomas Jefferson – kept in his personal library.

what obama fails to mention here is that the first mulism in the united states were brought over from africa to serve as white colonists’ slaves.

So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.

But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words – within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum: “Out of many, one.”

it is interesting how he seems to forget how he played into this islamophobia by allowing rashid khalidi to be tarred and feathered during the election campaign. how soon they forget.

Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President. But my personal story is not so unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores – that includes nearly seven million American Muslims in our country today who enjoy incomes and education that are higher than average.

Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it.

So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations – to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.

Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.

For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. And when innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.

This is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; progress must be shared.

That does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. Indeed, it suggests the opposite: we must face these tensions squarely. And so in that spirit, let me speak as clearly and plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together.

The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms.

notice as he lists “violent extremist” elements below he fails to mention zionist extremism and american extremism, which primarily targets muslim countries and people.

In Ankara, I made clear that America is not – and never will be – at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security. Because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as President to protect the American people.

The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America’s goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice, we went because of necessity. I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet Al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.

Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.

That’s why we’re partnering with a coalition of forty-six countries. And despite the costs involved, America’s commitment will not weaken. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths – more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam. The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind. The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism – it is an important part of promoting peace.

We also know that military power alone is not going to solve the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is why we plan to invest $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to partner with Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and hundreds of millions to help those who have been displaced. And that is why we are providing more than $2.8 billion to help Afghans develop their economy and deliver services that people depend upon.

translation: the u.s. is somehow making amends because in addition to the massacres of pakistanis and afghans–not to mention the unprecedented number of refugees the u.s. has created, it will put band-aids on the wounds of these people with “aid.”

Let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: “I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be.”

Today, America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future – and to leave Iraq to Iraqis. I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq’s sovereignty is its own. That is why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August. That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq’s democratically-elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all our troops from Iraq by 2012. We will help Iraq train its Security Forces and develop its economy. But we will support a secure and united Iraq as a partner, and never as a patron.

And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter our principles. 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.

if you have been following the news or even my blog you know from journalists like jeremy scahill that this is 100% bullshit as americans are going to maintain dozens of permanent military bases and the private contractors are going to be increased. is this what obama means by unique?

So America will defend itself respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened. The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.

The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.

America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.

Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed – more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction – or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews – is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

this is the most deeply offensive part of his speech. he wants to address muslims and he lectures muslims about jewish suffering when most muslims are suffering because of the zionist entity and jewish supremacist ideology forced upon arabs in the region? is he serious here? if he must delve into history why not focus on an nakba? or if he wants to focus on the present how about gaza? is he really incapable of understanding the issues? the jewish problem is a european problem. his logic fails to demonstrate that arabs and muslims should not have to pay the price for europe’s sins.

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations – large and small – that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.

is it really that difficult to say the words: an nakba? to say the words ethnic cleansing? to say the words un resolution 194 and the right of return?

For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers – for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel’s founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.

That is in Israel’s interest, Palestine’s interest, America’s interest, and the world’s interest. That is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience that the task requires. The obligations that the parties have agreed to under the Road Map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for them – and all of us – to live up to our responsibilities.

no that is not in the palestinian people’s interest. it may be in the interest of the zionist-american collaborationist palestinian authority, but it is not in the interest of the 7.2 million palestinian refugees who have the only roadmap they need: un resolution 194.

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.

let me get this straight: obama wants us to think there are two equal sides here (of course, there are not) and yet only palestinians are being asked to not use violence to fight for their liberation. from south africa to india armed resistance is precisely what helped people to liberate their land. to pretend that this history does not exist is to read it through a very narrow lens.

Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, and to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist.

At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.

Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.

Finally, the Arab States must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognize Israel’s legitimacy; and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.

America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.

Too many tears have flowed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) joined in prayer.

The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.

This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically-elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I have made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question, now, is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.

It will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect. But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America’s interests. It is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.

I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America’s commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation – including Iran – should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the Treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.

i don’t think obama does understand: when the bullies of the world, principally, the u.s. and the zionist entity, get rid of their nuclear arsenal then perhaps we can talk.

The fourth issue that I will address is democracy.

I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.

That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.

There is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments – provided they govern with respect for all their people.

This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.

so ironic given that obama decided to deliver this speech in a country that suppresses democracy like no other. and that obama refuses to recognize the democratically elected government in palestine.

The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.

Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind, heart, and soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it is being challenged in many different ways.

Among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one’s own faith by the rejection of another’s. The richness of religious diversity must be upheld – whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt. And fault lines must be closed among Muslims as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.

Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it. For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That is why I am committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.

you gotta love this massive hypocrisy in the face of the united states sentencing 5 men (the holy land five) to 65 years in prison for collecting money for palestinians in the holy land foundation.

Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity.

I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and changing communities. In all nations – including my own – this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we will lose of control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities – those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith.

But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradiction between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies while maintaining distinct cultures. The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim-majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai. In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.

This is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work. Many Gulf States have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to focus it on broader development. But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century, and in too many Muslim communities there remains underinvestment in these areas. I am emphasizing such investments within my country. And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas in this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.

On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America, while encouraging more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America; invest in on-line learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a teenager in Kansas can communicate instantly with a teenager in Cairo.

just wondering: for palestinians in gaza who want to study, how exactly are they supposed to leave gaza given that egypt and the zionist entity maintain it as a prison?

On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. And I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.

On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries, and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create jobs. We will open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and appoint new Science Envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, and grow new crops. And today I am announcing a new global effort with the Organization of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.

All these things must be done in partnership. Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments; community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life.

The issues that I have described will not be easy to address. But we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world we seek – a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God’s children are respected. Those are mutual interests. That is the world we seek. But we can only achieve it together.

you cannot drop bombs on muslims every day and then pretend like you’re going to help with economic development. it just doesn’t work. your words reveal your deep hypocrisy.

I know there are many – Muslim and non-Muslim – who question whether we can forge this new beginning. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress. Some suggest that it isn’t worth the effort – that we are fated to disagree, and civilizations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur. There is so much fear, so much mistrust. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country – you, more than anyone, have the ability to remake this world.

All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort – a sustained effort – to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.

It is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This truth transcends nations and peoples – a belief that isn’t new; that isn’t black or white or brown; that isn’t Christian, or Muslim or Jew. It’s a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the heart of billions. It’s a faith in other people, and it’s what brought me here today.

We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.

The Holy Koran tells us, “O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.”

The Talmud tells us: “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.”

The Holy Bible tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God’s vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth. Thank you. And may God’s peace be upon you.

for a quick, witty summary of obama’s speech here is what as’ad abukhalil had to say about it:

So let me summarize Obama’s message to Arabs: if Arabs adopt and internalize Gun Zionism, the US will be very pleased.

ali abunimah has a terrific analysis of the speech in the guardian this afternoon appropriately entitled “a bush in sheep’s clothing”:

It was disappointing that Obama recycled his predecessor’s notion that “violent extremism” exists in a vacuum, unrelated to America’s (and its proxies’) exponentially greater use of violence before and after September 11, 2001. He dwelled on the “enormous trauma” done to the US when almost 3,000 people were killed that day, but spoke not one word about the hundreds of thousands of orphans and widows left in Iraq – those whom Muntazer al-Zaidi’s flying shoe forced Americans to remember only for a few seconds last year. He ignored the dozens of civilians who die each week in the “necessary” war in Afghanistan, or the millions of refugees fleeing the US-invoked escalation in Pakistan.

As President George Bush often did, Obama affirmed that it is only a violent minority that besmirches the name of a vast and “peaceful” Muslim majority. But he seemed once again to implicate all Muslims as suspect when he warned, “The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.”

Nowhere were these blindspots more apparent than his statements about Palestine/Israel. He gave his audience a detailed lesson on the Holocaust and explicitly used it as a justification for the creation of Israel. “It is also undeniable,” the president said, “that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation.”

Suffered in pursuit of a homeland? The pain of dislocation? They already had a homeland. They suffered from being ethnically cleansed and dispossessed of it and prevented from returning on the grounds that they are from the wrong ethno-national group. Why is that still so hard to say?

He lectured Palestinians that “resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed”. He warned them that “It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.” (Note: the last suicide attack targeting civilians by a Palestinian occurred in 2004)

Fair enough, but did Obama really imagine that such words would impress an Arab public that watched in horror as Israel slaughtered 1,400 people in Gaza last winter, including hundreds of sleeping, fleeing or terrified children, with American-supplied weapons? Did he think his listeners would not remember that the number of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians targeted and killed by Israel has always far exceeded by orders of magnitude the number of Israelis killed by Arabs precisely because of the American arms he has pledged to continue giving Israel with no accountability? Amnesty International recently confirmed what Palestinians long knew: Israel broke the negotiated ceasefire when it attacked Gaza last November 4, prompting retaliatory rockets that killed no Israelis until after Israel launched its much bigger attack on Gaza. That he continues to remain silent about what happened in Gaza, and refuses to hold Israel accountable demonstrates anything but a commitment to full truth-telling.

Some people are prepared to give Obama a pass for all this because he is at last talking tough on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. In Cairo, he said: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.”

These carefully chosen words focus only on continued construction, not on the existence of the settlements themselves; they are entirely compatible with the peace process industry consensus that existing settlements will remain where they are for ever. This raises the question of where Obama thinks he is going. He summarised Palestinians’ “legitimate aspirations” as being the establishment of a “state”. This has become a convenient slogan to that is supposed to replace for Palestinians their pursuit of rights and justice that the proposed state actually denies. Obama is already on record opposing Palestinian refugees’ right to return home, and has never supported the right of Palestinian citizens of Israel to live free from racist and religious incitement, persecution and practices fanned by Israel’s highest office holders and written into its laws.

He may have more determination than his predecessor but he remains committed to an unworkable two-state “vision” aimed not at restoring Palestinian rights, but preserving Israel as an enclave of Israeli Jewish privilege. It is a dead end.

There was one sentence in his speech I cheered for and which he should heed: “Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail.”

abunimah rightly pointed out the outrageous logic of lecturing muslims on the european actions during world war two. personally, i find it beyond shocking that this afternoon he headed towards germany to visit sites of that historic war in europe while continuing to refuse to visit gaza just a desert away. medea benjamin’s article in electronic intifada called on obama to visit gaza instead:

But the administration has said almost nothing about the devastating Israeli invasion of Gaza that left more than 1,400 dead, including some 400 children. To many in the Middle East, this is an unfortunate continuation of past policies that condemn the loss of innocent Israeli lives, but refuse to speak out against the disproportionately greater loss of Palestinian lives at the hands of the Israeli military.

The Israeli invasion of Gaza began on 27 December 2008, when Obama had just won the election but had not yet taken office. While he spoke out against the 26 November Mumbai terrorism attack, he refused to even call for a ceasefire in Gaza, saying coldly, “When it comes to foreign affairs it is particularly important to adhere to the principle of one president at a time.”

Once inaugurated, Obama appointed former Senator George Mitchell as a special peace envoy and immediately sent him on a “listening tour” to key places in the Middle East — except Gaza. Mitchell returned for a second trip to the region in late February, visiting Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Israel and the West Bank but once again bypassing Gaza. The same thing happened on his third trip in April.

Hillary Clinton has never visited war-torn Gaza. She promised $300 million for rebuilding, but the aid won’t get to Gaza as long as the administration insists on dealing only with Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority in the West Bank while shunning Hamas, which controls Gaza and was democratically elected.

one egypian blogger and tweeter اشتراكي ثوري pulled together his responses from the speech in a blog post that gives one a way better sense of what people are thinking and feeling here about his speech (in spite of the insane people al jazeera has been putting on–even marwan bishara seems to have lost his mind calling this speech “historic” today):

Just finished watching Bushama’s booooooooooring speech, you can read the full text here. My expectation that Obama would just recycle old bullshit obviously came true, and if anyone calls his speech “historic” or a “new beginning” they obviously have lost touch with reality. This speech was so bad I thought even from a linguistic standpoint, I mean I could come up with a more articulate speech off the top of my head, but then again, despite what some people say, Bushama is not a good speaker. And he managed to pronounce every arabic word he included wrong.

Here are my tweets about Obama’s speech:

* RT: @DailyNewsEgypt: Obama says Mubarak has “decades of experience,” thanks president for “hospitality” #cairospeech
* mubarak does have years of experience in obeying his american and israeli masters, he also has a lot of “experience” in torture #cairospeech
* el azaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar? whats that obama??? #cairospeech
* mentioned “extremists” within a minute of starting #cairospeech
* RT: @3arabawy: I hate it when US presidents quote the Quran.. Give me a fucking break! #cairospeech
* obama will fight stereotypes against islam…er while killing as many muslims as possible #cairospeech
* the us is a imperial empire you dumb fuck! #cairospeech
* RT: @amansour87: RT @3arabawy RT @wael : NDP Stooges must stop clapping in #cairospeech
* first problem: “violent extremists” fuck you dumbass #cairospeech
* how many people has the us killed in the last 7 years? at least in the millions #cairospeech
* “military force will not solve the problem alone”…er but we will try #cairospeech
* dumbass defends imperialist invasion of iraq #cairospeech
* why do americans always have to go on and on about the holocaust and 9/11?? #cairospeech
* have some courage coward and mention zionist holocaust of palestinians #cairospeech
* “the pain of dislocation” ah I think the pain of death, torture and beating would be more accurate #cairospeech
* “shoot rockets at children” so what the US and israel do every day? #cairospeech
* obama on hamas: “i am a dumbass and can’t even articulate myself…oh and I have no logic” #cairo speech
* Israel has no “legitamacy” bushama! #cairospeech
* israel will go away motherfucker, cause the palestinians will never give up their resistance #cairospeech
* “this is not simply about america’s interests” yes it is, if it isn’t give up a few million of ur nuclear weapons, bushama #cairospeech
* oooooh democracy how exciting #cairospeech
* “we will support them everywhere” except if the dictators are our puppets #cairospeech
* no the us does not respect dissenting voices #cairospeech
* of course obama takes the white man stance: must preach those ayrabs about women’s rights #cairospeech
* RT: @norashalaby: Obama’s speech is completely patronizing #CairoSpeech
* stop fucking patronizing us about women’s rights, do u think the us is perfect mother fucker? #cairospeech
* Now: capitalism, obama will surely praise it #cairospeech
* Obama: “capitalism you are so great, I love u so much, everyone should practice it…blah fucking blah” #cairospeech
* “the issues I have addressed” will be solved through brutal capitalism and bloody imperialist violence #cairospeech
* stop with the religious crap! If he mentions “god’s children” again I am going to go insane #cairospeech
* “if we choose to be bound by the past we will never move forward” how clever! how original! #cairospeech
* RT: @mar3e: i know more muslim students who deported from usa for supportting the resistance in lebanon , afghanistan, palestine
* RT: @3arabawy: Obama will promote child and maternal health. This means more money for Mama Suzi the guardian of Egyp Motherhod #Cairospeech
* now the talmut! and the bible! stop with the religious crap! #cairospeech
* LEAVE MOTHERFUCKER! leeeeeeeeave! #cairospeech
* speech definitely was horrible even worse than I thought it would be, if anyone says tom it was good or even ok they are insane #cairospeech
* RT: @3arabawy: IS that it??!!!! What a historical speech indeed?!! #Cairospeech

as’ad abukhalil had an additional, lengthy response to the speech and here is part:

So Obama is asking for a bargain: to end Western racism (but not wars) against Muslims, Muslims need to stop attacking US foreign policy and wars. This is chicanery–don’t you like those old fashioned words? He talks about the US as a force of “progress.” How untrue for Obama’s audience: the US has consistently opposed forces of progress and advancement in the Middle East: in every conflict between an oil Sheikh or a polygamous prince against progressive socialists or Arab nationalist secularists, the US has always sided with the polygamous princes who have been in alliance with religious kooks and advocates of “holy wars.” Hell, he just came from Saudi Arabia where he praised the wisdom of the Saudi king and he wants to talk to me about “force of progress”? Maybe if you can bring up the issue of Wahhabi fanaticism I would believe you. He said that his personal story as an African American (with an African Muslim name) who was elected president is not unique. Yes, it is: and it was not easy: and his name was mocked during his campaign, and he made his best to distance himself from anything Muslims. So here, Obama is assuming that his Cairo audience are a bunch of idiots who did not follow his campaign and the reactions that it generated. He adds that Muslims in America enjoy education and income above average Americans. Yes, that is true, and I hate when people say that: the reasons is due to the racist/classist rules for the immigrants from Muslims/Middle East countries: only those who high degrees are allowed into the country, while poor people from other countries are allowed. If you are in the Middle East, your chances of being allowed into the US are related to the high degrees you hold. He said that there are mosques in the US but does not mention that many communities fight tooth and nail against those mosques. His references to Iraq and Afghanistan are largely apologetic: and he does not mention that his past critiques of the invasion of Iraq was asking to the criticisms of the Israeli occupation of West Bank and Gaza in Tikkun: that it is based on what is good or bad for Israel, and not for what it does to the victims. He talks about Taliban and Al-Qa`idah’s killing of Muslims (and Muslims know that they have killed Muslims) but he does not mention that Bush administration and Obama administration have also been killing innocent Muslims: if anything, the rate of bombing from the air may have increased over Afghanistan under Obama: the advocate of the surge in Afghanistan versus Bush, the advocate of surge in Iraq. What a difference. I was offended by his lecturing to Muslims about Jewish suffering: as if the audience is entirely anti-Semitic. There are anti-Semites in the US and he does not lecture to them. He spoke about the repugnant practice of Holocaust denial but did not mention that the literature is entirely Western in that regard. And he then moves from a discussion of the Nazism to the Arab-Israeli conflict. What is his point here: that because of Nazi crimes, the Palestinians need to accommodate Zionist crimes on their lands? This is the most offensive section of course: he talks about the Palestinians without identifying who was doing those bad things to them. Look at this sentence: “have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation.” So their suffering is due to their pursuit of a homeland: so they should stop the pursuit and the suffering will go away. He then mention the “pain of dislocation.” What is that o Obama? Is that like a shoulder dislocation? He refers to Palestinian reference to “for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel’s founding” but never mentions Israeli wars, attacks, and invasions and yet he makes specific references to Palestinian violence thereby making it clear that adheres to White Man standards: that only Israeli lives matter. I mean, if you compare the killing and terrorism between the two sides, the Israeli side clearly comes out on top in terrorism, wars, and aggression. He then lectures the Palestinians: “Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed.” I read that and thought: wait. Did you not in the early part of the speech bragged about how the US fought (non-violently, I may add) against British Empire? I should lecture Obama here: why didn’t the US resort to non-violent resistance against the British Empire? How could he speak about nuclear weapons without even mentioning the Israeli arsenal? That was another insult to the intelligence of the audience: maybe Jeffrey Feltman and Daniel Shapiro told him that Arabs don’t know that Israel has nuclear weapons.

there will be more responses in the coming days, i’m sure. but this is enough to give you a sense of the deeply offensive, deeply hypocritical speech by bushama.

on strange bedfellows

there has been a very interesting war of words brewing on twitter the past couple days, which began in response to the egyptian regime’s crackdown on resistance against the zionist entity. what began as a war of words between the moral and just hassan nasrallah and the american-zionist tool hosni mubarak has been replicating itself on twitter. at the center of it was @waelabbas, an egyptian blogger, who was recently arrested and beaten up by the egyptian authorities (along with his mother). here is one screenshot of the argument:

picture-12

the tweets pictured above were his directed at particular people and written in general. you have to click on the various @ links to see the replies. the extreme venom this blogger was spewing at nasrallah and anyone else who supports him was deeply disturbing. nasrallah’s speech and what nasrallah was calling for is for arab support for palestinians in gaza, and more generally. but, of course, mubarak has shown his true colors. we know where he stands. there were other bloggers debating, however, in a way that seems more hopeful and helpful: mostly with respect to thinking about panarab unity in support of palestinians. 3arabawy is one such egyptian blogger. another such blogger is a socialist in egypt.

this resistance in egypt against the regime and in ways that supports arab unity more generally is important as egypt seems to be deteriorating daily into more and more of a tool of the zionist-american empire. today, for instance, they confiscated fuel from palestinians:

Egyptian sources reported on Tuesday that Egyptian border policemen located and confiscated 19.000 liters of fuel that were meant to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip via underground tunnels between Gaza and Egypt.

The police arrested drivers of four trucks carrying fuel and is said to be chasing two other drivers who left their trucks and escaped.

The arrested drivers were identified as Samir Mohammad Suleiman, Nasser Abdul-Wahab, Al Dosouqy Mohammad Al Dosouqy, and Rashid Mohammad Hasan, the Maan News agency reported.

Also, the Egyptian police confiscated a truck the contained clothes meant to be sent to Gaza.

Sand was placed over the clothes for camouflage purposes. The police located the truck and arrested its driver, Adel Sbeih Oweidh.

Furthermore, the Egyptian police confiscated a truck filled with cement and was parked close to the entrance of a tunnel of the border with Gaza. The driver and others who were with him apparently escaped through the tunnel.

Earlier on Tuesday, Egyptian security sources said that two tunnels were located in the border area, in addition to the tunnel that was used for smuggling cement and concrete.

and now the egyptian zionist regime is harassing the families of those they have arrested because they are accused of working with hezbollah:

Families of Egyptian men detained on suspicion of plotting attacks against Egypt on behalf of the Lebanese group Hezbollah have been warned against meeting with rights lawyers, one of the lawyers alleged on Wednesday.

Officers from Egypt’s domestic intelligence agency, State Security Investigations, telephoned family members and warned them against attending a meeting with rights lawyers in the north Sinai town of al-Arish, according to Sayed Fathi, a lawyer with Cairo’s al-Hilali Foundation for Human Rights.

Fathi, who said he was seeking to represent some of the detainees, told the German Press Agency dpa that family members had planned to meet at the al-Arish headquarters of the leftist Tagammu Party, a local centre for opposition, on Tuesday night.

However, family members had cancelled the meeting following warnings from security officers not to attend.

In remarks published in the independent daily al-Masri al-Youm on Wednesday, Islamist lawyer Montasser al-Zayat said that a purported confession from his client, Lebanese national Sami Shehab, had been false.

i find it fascinating that the mubarak regime is so willing to attack people who are willing to risk their lives to help palestinians resist. but there are other bloggers like antoun issa who gives us a sense of the bigger picture including its shameful use of all that american aid that it never uses to help its own people, many of whom are impoverished:

Boasting a large population, and receiving more than US$2billion in US aid on an annual basis, Egypt should be leading the Arabs on every level. But it isn’t.

The vast majority live below the poverty line, and are hungry and restless. Falling into line with most Arab dictators, Mubarak has splashed his extraordinary wealth on resorts, villas, palaces and an extensive security service that is effectively keeping 80 million Egyptians from storming the Presidential Palace.

The infrastructure is crumbling, and to cut even further at the heart of Egyptian pride, the country’s natural gas deposits are being sold to arch rival Israel at a lower-than-market rate. Freedom is nonexistent, torture and kidnappings are rampant, and the Egyptian people are struggling to put food on their plates. The country’s middle class has dwindled.

To compare with another Arab dictator, such as Saddam Hussein, Mubarak is among the worst. For all his shortcomings, Saddam invested in the country’s infrastructure, and had developed Iraq long before Dubai’s first skyscraper. The Iraqi tyrant also ensured a healthy middle class kept the economy afloat, most of which currently reside in Syria and Jordan awaiting their return. Of course, Saddam wasn’t perfect, his treatment of Shi’ites and Kurds was abhorrent, but Iraq was, economically to say the least, a healthy state before his wild adventures brought the world crashing down upon him. Certainly, Iraq’s growing wealth, economically and militarily, was worrisome for all around it. Fortunately for Iraq’s alarmed neighbours, Israel had a buddy named the US, who successfully lured Saddam into Kuwait and destroyed him.

Mubarak, on the other hand, has showed no interest in developing Egypt’s economy nor investing in its people.

On the regional level, Egypt has gone from discreetly co-operating with Israel to taking public photo shots with Israeli leaders. Its public support of Israel against Lebanon in 2006, and again against the Palestinians earlier in the year riled the Arab public. Hizballah, Syria and Iran took advantage, and made sure every angry finger in the Arab and Muslim world was pointed squarely at Mubarak.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and other angry dissenters in the country, took to the streets and joined the chorus of condemnation of Egypt’s suffocation of Gaza.

Mubarak, suddenly, felt paranoid. I noted in a lengthy feature piece during the Gaza War that public condemnation between Arab leaders is rare. Hizballah’s criticism of Mubarak during the war not only highlighted a change in dynamics, but also signalled a dangerous intent … Iran’s eyes are on Egypt. Well, at least that’s what Mubarak currently fears.

So when Egypt’s intelligence successfully captured Hizballah operatives, it was quick to point out Iran’s grand scheme to subject Arab Sunnis to Shi’ite domination as a justification for its alliance with the country most Arab Sunnis hate … Israel.

But Arab operators are everywhere in the Middle East, including those of non-state actors. Fatah, for example, was caught out spying on Saudi Arabia and Jordan on behalf of the US when Hamas took over its police compound in the Gaza counter-coup. It would be fair to say that Hizballah has been operating networks in fellow Arab countries for years, and most Arab regimes are aware of it.

Hizballah even has operatives in Israel, which prove useful during times of conflict when these cells provide the Shia movement with intelligence on IDF positions. Certainly, that was the case in 2006.

Egypt’s capture of Hizballah operatives, and its public parade, is more a PR stunt to take the heat off its back re Gaza. Nasrallah didn’t seem too concerned when he confirmed the capture over the weekend, calmly stating that Hizballah was providing arms to Hamas, has been doing so for a while, and will continue to do so.

However, the need of Egypt to parade this capture speaks volumes of its paranoia and insecurity. Mubarak knows he sits atop a boiling Egyptian bubble waiting to burst. He fears an Iranian-style and provoked revolution. No doubt, the Egyptian people are capable of it and are perhaps pondering means to depose of their highly detested leader.

Mubarak also knows that his succession plan to pass the presidency to his son, Gamal Mubarak, is a vulnerable point that can be exposed by his foes, domestic and regional. His succession plans have caused much anger in Egypt, and a persisting fear that Mubarak’s rivals may attempt a coup are mounting.

The Sunni Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt stated during the Gaza War that they have no issue with Iran proselytising Shi’ite Islam. In other words, the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition movement, has now cemented its links with Iran.

Is Hizballah trying to destablise Egypt? No, I don’t think so, and I believe the Egyptians know that too. What bothers Mubarak, however, is that Hizballah can destabilise Egypt, and have the team already placed on Mubarak’s turf, awaiting the orders.

when we compare how the egyptian regime deals with lebanese leaders like nasrallah to leaders from the zionist entity we see something quite different. they are unwilling to meet the most visible racist fascists in the zionist entity’s government, but not the others (all of whom are equally racist and fascist):

The hatchet is far from burial between Egypt and Israel’s new Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman.

In an interview with Russian television on Wednesday Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, warned that his country would not welcome Lieberman so long as his divisive positions remained unchanged.

“When a man speaks he must be aware that the words traveling from his brain to his tongue will have consequences,” said Aboul Gheit, speaking from Cairo.

“Therefore, we will work with the government of Israel but not through the Israeli foreign minister. I do not imagine that he will set foot on Egyptian soil so long as his positions, which we have seen before, remain as they are.”

to understand why lieberman is not any different from any other israeli terrorist politician one must read jonathan cook’s excellent assessment of the ways in which they all overlap (this is from an older article in electronic intifada):

Lieberman, a Russian immigrant, is every bit the populist and racist politician he is portrayed as being. Like many of his fellow politicians, he harbours a strong desire to see the Palestinians of the occupied territories expelled, ideally to neighbouring Arab states or Europe. Lieberman, however, is more outspoken than most in publicly advocating for this position.

Where he is seen as overstepping the mark is in arguing that the state should strip up to a quarter of a million Palestinians living inside Israel of their citizenship and seal them and their homes into the Palestinian ghettoes being created inside the West Bank (presumably in preparation for the moment when they will all be expelled to Jordan). He believes any remaining Arab citizens should be required to sign a loyalty oath to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state” — loyalty to a democratic state alone will not suffice. Any who refuse will be physically expelled from Israel.

And, as a coup de grace, he has recently demanded the execution for treason of any Arab parliamentarian who talks to the Palestinian leadership in the occupied territories or commemorates Nakba Day, which marks the expulsion and permanent dispossession of the Palestinian people in 1948. That would include every elected representative of Israel’s Arab population.

These are Lieberman’s official positions. Apparently unofficially he wants even worse measures taken against Palestinians, both inside Israel and in the occupied territories. In May 2004, for example, he told a crowd of his supporters, in Russian, that 90 per cent of the country’s Arab citizens should be expelled. “They have no place here. They can take their bundles and get lost.” His speech could have had second billing with one by Adolf Hitler at a Nuremberg Rally.

Despite Lieberman’s well-known political platform, Olmert has been courting him ever since Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home) upset the expected three-way struggle between Olmert’s Kadima party, Labor and Likud in the March elections. Lieberman romped home with 11 seats in the 120-member Knesset, making his party a sparring partner of both Likud and the popular religious fundamentalist party Shas.

According to opinion polls, [Lieberman] is now the most popular politician in Israel after Binyamin Netanyahu. According to reports in the Israeli media, Lieberman has not joined the coalition until now because he has been playing hard to get, making increasing demands of Olmert before agreeing to sign up for the government. His hand has grown stronger too: according to opinion polls, he is now the most popular politician in Israel after Binyamin Netanyahu, leader of the Likud party.

In the newly established post of Minister for Strategic Threats, Lieberman — the self-avowed Arab hater — will shape Israel’s response to Iran, leading the chorus threats being made by Israel that it is only a hair’s breadth from dropping bombs, possibly nuclear warheads, on Tehran. After that, he will presumably help the government decide what other “strategic threats” it faces.

While Olmert enthuses over Lieberman, most in the Labor party seem quietly resigned to his inclusion. Labor’s elder statesman and former leader, Shimon Peres, says he has no objections, so long as Lieberman does not challenge the core policies agreed by Kadima and Labor. This, of course, is precisely what Lieberman is doing — it was the price of the bargain he struck with Olmert. Lieberman wants no peace overtures to the Palestinians, and favours the hardline neoliberal economic policies pursued by Kadima.

On Wednesday the Labor leader Amir Peretz, a supposed socialist and former head of the Israeli trade union movement, accepted Lieberman’s entry to the coalition, as Olmert surely knew he would. In typical Labor style, Peretz bought off his conscience by insisting on a package of modest benefits for Arab citizens, the same Arab citizens Lieberman wants expelled. The last time the government made a similar promise to its Arab minority back in late 2001 — when the prime minister of the day, Ehud Barak, needed their votes — the $4 million pledge was broken immediately after the election.

So why are Israel’s politicians, of the left and right, so comfortable sitting with Lieberman, the leader of Israel’s only unquestionably fascist party? Because, in truth, Lieberman is not the maverick politician of popular imagination, even if he is every bit the racist — a Jewish Jorg Haider or Jean Marie Le Pen.

In reality, Lieberman is entirely a creature of the Israeli political establishment, his policies sinister reflections of the principles and ideas he learnt in the inner sanctums of the Likud party, a young hopeful immigrant rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ariel Sharon, Binyamin Netanyahu and, of course, Ehud Olmert.

From their political infancy, the latter three were schooled in the minor arts of Israeli diplomacy: feel free to speak plainly in the womb of the party; speak firmly but cautiously in Hebrew to other Israelis; and speak in another tongue entirely when using English, the language of the goyim, the non-Jews.

But Lieberman, who arrived in Israel as a 21-year-old immigrant, was not around for those lessons. He imbibed nothing of the principles of hasbara, the “advocacy for Israel” industry that has its unpaid battalions of propagandists regularly assaulting the phone lines and email inboxes of the Western media. He tells it exactly as he sees it, even if mostly in Russian.

Inside the Likud party, his political training ground, that hardly mattered. He rapidly rose through the ranks to become director-general of Likud from 1993-96 and soon afterwards to head the office of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. For many years he was the darling of the Likud, a party that today exists in two halves: its original incarnation, once again led by Netanyahu; and the renovated, sleeker model, Kadima, founded by Sharon.

But it was in breaking from Likud and founding his own party, Yisrael Beiteinu, in 1999 that Lieberman finally found his voice outside the Likud’s smoke-filled rooms. The audience for his message was as untutored in the deceits of Israeli politicking as Lieberman himself.

Lieberman immigrated to Israel from Moldova in 1978, leading the vanguard of a wave of immigration from Russia and its satellite states that reached a peak in the early 1990s as the Soviet empire broke up. By the time most Russian speakers began pouring into Israel, Lieberman was already well ensconced in the Israeli political system.

Yisrael Beiteinu’s openly racist agenda spoke to the darkest instincts of the one million newly arrived Russian speakers. Many of them poor and struggling to adapt to Israeli culture, they live far from the prosperous centre of the country in their own neglected ghettos, Little Moscows, where the signs and street language are more than a decade later still in Russian. They feel little affinity for the Jewish state — apart from a loathing for everything Arab.

The state has found it easy to manipulate these immigrants’ emotions. They have little understanding of the historic reasons for Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians, and like other Israelis learn almost nothing more at school. With no context for appreciating why the Palestinians might carry out suicide attacks, Russian speakers assume the Palestinians are simply the hate-filled barbarians as described to them by their politicians.

When young Russian men do three years of active duty in the occupied territories, all these prejudices are confirmed. One of the largest blocs of Israel’s citizen army, the Russians are assigned some of the toughest spots in the West Bank and Gaza, often their first experience of meeting “Arabs”.

When they return home, they find it hard to make sense of Israeli officialdom’s lip service in distinguishing between Arab citizens, who have some rights in the Jewish state, and the “Arabs” of the occupied territories, who have none. Many Russian speakers wonder why Israel does not simply kill or expel the lot of them.

And this is where Lieberman steps in. Because usefully this is exactly what he not only believes but also openly declares. Lieberman can tap the support of nearly a million voters, a huge reservoir of support for any prime ministerial hopeful trying to assemble the coalition needed to form a government under the fractious Israeli political system.

Neither Olmert nor Netanyahu can afford to say what is really on their minds: that they want to cleanse the region of as many Palestinians as they can manage — most certainly those in the occupied territories, and later the even bigger nuisance of the ones who have citizenship and undermine Israel’s Jewishness.

But instead they can let a Lieberman, the charismatic leader of a popular party who does dare to say these things, join the government with minimal damage to their own reputations.

They can also let him use the platform provided by a cabinet position to shape a new coarser political language in which ideas of expulsion and transfer become ever more mainstream. Until one day the policies Lieberman advocates, reflections of the values he imbibed during his long years spent in Likud, become acceptable enough that a Prime Minister — Olmert or Netanyahu or Lieberman himself — will be able to put them in the government’s programme.

Instead of using words like “disengagement”, “convergence” or “realignment”, Israel’s politicians of the near future may simply call for the expulsion of Arabs, all Arabs.

Even now they do little to conceal the fact that such thoughts are uppermost in their minds. Netanyahu, currently Israel’s most popular politician and the leader of the opposition, has repeatedly called the 1.2 million Arab citizens of the country a “demographic timebomb”. Back in 2002, for example, he told an audience of policymakers: “If there is a demographic problem, and there is, it is with the Israeli Arabs who will remain Israeli citizens … We therefore need a policy that will first of all guarantee a Jewish majority.”

Unlike Lieberman, Netanyahu never spells out what policies he is advocating. But most Israelis understand that in practice, if he felt free to speak his mind, his platform would not look much different from Yisrael Beiteinu’s.

Olmert too uses code words readily understood by his Israeli audiences. In late 2004, in an interview with the Haaretz newspaper, he said: “There is no doubt in my mind that very soon the government of Israel is going to have to address the demographic issue with the utmost seriousness and resolve. This issue above all others will dictate the solution that we must adopt.” He added that he feared the Palestinians would soon be a majority in the area comprising both the occupied territories and Israel, and that then they could launch a “dangerous” struggle for “one-man-one-vote” similar to the one against apartheid in South Africa. He concluded: “For us, it would mean the end of the Jewish state.”

What “solution” was Olmert referring to? Israelis know only too well. Every year since 2000 Olmert, Netanyahu, Peres and other senior policymakers have been meeting at the Herzliya conference, near Tel Aviv, to draw up ideas about how to deal with the demographic threat: the rapidly approaching moment when the Palestinians, either those with Israeli citizenship or the non-citizens living under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, will outnumber Jews.

The solutions they have proposed have been similar to Lieberman’s. Both the disengagement from Gaza and the planned limited withdrawals from the West Bank came out of Herzliya. But so did a range of measures to deal with the country’s Arab citizens: land swaps to lose areas of Israel densely populated with Arabs in return for the settlements in the West Bank; loyalty oaths as a condition of citizenship; stripping the Arab population of their right to vote; and forcing all political parties to subscribe to Zionist ideals.

Israel already has legislation requiring all parties running for the Knesset to support Israel remaining a “Jewish and democratic state.” These are not fanciful ideas; they are now firmly in the mainstream. Israel already has legislation requiring all parties running for the Knesset to support Israel remaining a “Jewish and democratic state”. Technically, the only non-Zionist parties — two Arab parties and the small joint Jewish and Arab Communist party — could quite legally be disqualified from all general elections under the current legislation. They expect that at some point in the near future they will be too.

The two previous prime ministers, Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon, both secretly favoured land swaps in which large numbers of Arab citizens would be removed from the Jewish state. Barak proposed such a scheme at Camp David in the summer of 2000, as several participants later confirmed. And in February 2004 Sharon floated the same idea during an interview in the Maariv newspaper. When it caused a storm, he backtracked, but investigations by the paper revealed that he had been formulating a land swap for some time with his advisers and had even consulted the then Labor leader and his foreign minister, Shimon Peres, on its feasibility.

At the top of Lieberman’s list of demands before agreeing to enter Olmert’s coalition are major changes to Israel’s constitution, including the introduction of a presidential system to replace the current parliamentary system. Israel already has a President, currently Moshe Katsav, who is facing a string of rape and sexual harassment allegations, but the post is entirely symbolic.

Lieberman wants a president who has the authority to make major legislative changes, even constitutional ones, without having to make the backroom compromises to keep together the coalition governments that characterise Israel’s current political system. The president Lieberman has in mind would be more on the lines of an autocratic ruler.

Olmert is apparently sympathetic to Lieberman’s plans to change the political system. It is not difficult to understand why.

and yet somehow egyptian ministers think they are saving face when they say they won’t meet with lieberman, but they will meet with netanyahu. they are the same. the net result for palestinians is the same.

interestingly while the egyptians try to outzion the zionists, it seems that the world zionist organization is quite upset with coca-cola in egypt and is launching a boycott campaign of coca-cola there:

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) condemns the Coca-Cola Company for continuing to engage in immoral behavior and refusing to rectify the wrong it has been perpetrating against a Jewish family, the Bigios. The ZOA calls on the public to boycott Coca-Cola products, and for Jewish members of the public to boycott the company’s kosher-for-Passover products during this Passover holiday.

The Bigios owned property near Cairo, Egypt since the early 1900’s; Coca-Cola had been leasing the property and contracting with the Bigios, until the property was illegally taken from the family by the Egyptian government in 1964 during a campaign of anti-Semitism. In 1979, the Egyptian government ordered that the Bigios’ property be returned to them, but the Egyptian courts refused to enforce the order. In 1994, Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Egypt “purchased” the property when it was “privatized.” When the Bigios contacted Coca-Cola to remind the company of the family’s right to the property and requested to be justly compensated, top Coca-Cola officials cavalierly brushed the family aside.

The Bigios brought a federal court action against Coca-Cola in 1997. Since then, Coca-Cola’s lawyers have used numerous legal maneuvers to avoid reaching the merits of the Bigios’ case. All of their procedural objections have failed – twice in the U.S. Court of Appeals and once in the U.S. Supreme Court.

picture-13

ironically this is the reason many of us boycott companies like johnson & johnson, nestle, and yes coca-cola: because they are on the land of destroyed palestinian villages in 1948 palestine (as in photograph above). but those of us involved in boycott also boycott coca-cola. here is why (from the boycott campaign in lebanon):

According to Coca-Cola’s Hebrew web-site, Abe Feinberg’s Central Bottling Company (CBC) was granted in 1968 the license to sell Coke in Israel as a way to support the Zionist state, despite the losses that an Arab boycott of Coke would mean for the company.

Coca- Cola’s Hebrew web-site details how the company operates in Israel economically, socially, and politically, to enact a Zionist state.

Coca-Cola bought the Golan Heights Winery in 2002 and uses it to distribute wines throughout Europe.

Coca-Cola sponsors Israel’s national basketball team, “in which it invests great amounts of money annually” as well as Israeli national marathons, tennis competitions, etc.

While the local Israeli market is small and unable to generate significant tax revenue, approximately 40% or more of government expenditure goes to military. Thus, little money is left over for other social services. Social giving literally saves the state money.

In 2003, Coca-Cola paid $8.4 million to the Israel Land Administration for land on which to build a Coca-Cola factory in Askalan. To capture Askalan for Jewish-only settlement, 
Israelis ethnically-cleansed
 the Palestinian villages of 
Al-Khisas, Al-Jura, and 
Al-Ni’ilya of their 
5000+ inhabitants 
in Operation Yo’av 
on Nov. 4 -5, 1948. The inhabitants fled to Gaza, and their land was confiscated as national Israeli property.

Furthermore, in July 2002, Coca-Cola announced that, in return for millions of dollars in tax breaks from the Israeli government, it will build a new plant in Kiryat Gat where it will employ 700 more Israelis. Kiryat Gat is built on land of Iraq al-Manshiyya and al-Faluja whose inhabitants were expelled through force in 1949, in contravention of the Egyptian-Israeli armistice which guaranteed the safety of the residents and their property. By international law, the land still belongs to those Palestinians, but Coke paid the rent to the occupiers not the lawful owners.

Likewise, Coca-Cola’s investment in the Golan Heights Winery helps make the occupation economically viable and put economic pressure on the Israeli government not to return the Golan to Syria. Thus, Coca-Cola helps build “facts on the ground” intended to preclude return of occupied lands to the rightful owners.

On October 11th 2001, Coca-Cola hosted at its headquarters in Atlanta, the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce Eagle Star Awards Gala at which awards were given out by Israel’s Economic Minister to North American companies that had invested in Israel. In turn, Coca-Cola USA was 
itself honored by the
 Israel Economic Mission 
at the Israel Trade 1997 
Award Dinner.

Money received from licensees is given by Atlanta headquarters to the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, a branch of the United Jewish Charities (UJC). Coca-Cola USA’s donations to the UJC are made by the corporation, not its individual employees. Part goes to finance lobbies that are “strongly proactive and vocal in support of Israel,” and to “send solidarity missions to Israel, allowing thousands of North American Jews to show their support … speaking out on Israel’s behalf when they return.” And “part goes to meet overseas needs through our partners, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJJDC). These dollars help build the Jewish homeland and 
rebuild strong Jewish communities in over 60 countries around the world….” “Assisting immigration to Israel claims a significant portion of JAFI’s budget, with services such as pre-immigration preparation, absorption centers…and resettlement programs. “JDC also works to help strengthen the social service system as a whole … by offering leadership and management training programs …”

Thus, while Palestinians are denied the right of return and social equality by Israel, money donated by Coca-Cola USA enables Jews to live in Israel as if they really were “the chosen people.”  

“…the Jewish Agency for Israel [has been a] full partner in setting up and supporting the Confrontation Line communities, rescuing Jews from countries in distress and helping them settle in the region…” Since 2000, “Recognizing the urgency of the [post-withdraw] situation, the Jewish Agency has already contributed to the rural settlers of the Confrontation Line by forgiving $40 million in debts.”

if those are not enough reasons to boycott coca-cola (and this is aside from the horrible health consequences from drinking such beverages) i don’t know what is. but there is more. because palestinians think that coca-cola is palestinian because a palestinian businessman set up coca-cola in al bireh here. however here are some startling facts that palestinians should consider before they purchase coca-cola products (aside from the fact that portions of the proceeds go to the same exact places as stated above after giving its portion of the proceeds to its u.s. owner):

Until 1998, Israeli company Central Bottling Company owned the license for marketing Coca-Cola throughout Palestine. Zahi Khoury led Palestinian investors in buying the license for marketing Coca-Cola products in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and in 1998 re-designed the National Beverage Company located in Betounia Industrial Park to produce Coca-Cola products.

The venture cost $20 million. The contract gave Coca-Cola International 15% ownership of the venture and the Palestine National Authority another 15%.

Moving the management of sales to Palestinian to a Palestinian businessman was seen to be in Coca-Cola’s best interests according to Ian Shackleton, Coca-Cola’s Israel manager because, “Sales to the territories have dropped over the past few years, with the decline beginning already from the [1988] Intifada.”

The opportunity for Coca-Cola was not only in Palestine but in the Arab world at large, which had been boycotting Coca-Cola until 1993 for its support for Israel. As it looked to invest $200 million in Arab regional ventures to surpass Pepsi in regional popularity, Coca-Cola needed Palestinians to overcome the long popular objections to the company. However, the venture implicates Palestinians in an important political compromise because East Jerusalem remains under the jurisdiction of the Israeli supplier. In this act, a private company has imposed a political vision that counters international agreement about the legitimacy of Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem. Indeed, this act should be seen as part of Coca-Cola’s wider corporate support for Israeli occupation.

Some questions to consider: Prior to being purchased by Coca-Cola the factory in Ramallah was the site of production for Club refreshments. How many workers were employed by it? How many local competitors are there to Coca-Cola now (beyond the toot, jallab, and other refreshments producers) — we have heard of Star Cola as one locally made competitor? Do you have a sense of how many people they employ? In terms of Palestinian economic productiveness, what would be wrong with people simple switching to these products and their eventually hiring people formerly employed by Coca-Cola?

these are strange bedfellows here with respect to the boycott coca-cola campaign to be sure. but if the zionists want to help us boycott coca-cola more power to them. and there are so many more reasons to boycott coke for its horrible practices in other parts of the world. see killer coke’s website for more of these reasons.

and just to be sure that i am not picking on egypt, but rather its refusal to help palestinians and its collaboration with the zionist-american regimes, clearly jordan is acting up today too:

A Jordanian court sentenced three Jordanians to five years in prison for conducting espionage for Hamas on Wednesday.

A Jordanian judicial source said that Thabet Abu Al-Haj, 37, Azzam Jaber, 36, and Salim Al-Husani, 27, were accused of collecting information about Jordanian military and government installations for Hamas.

The three were convicted of spying on military posts along the Israeli border and the Israeli embassy in Amman.

The court reduced what was originally a ten year sentence, taking into consideration that the three are relatively young and have families.

Two other suspects, Muhammad Al-Khujah, 43, and Taleb Abdallah, 46, were charged in connection to the same activities, but were released in early October.

The five were arrested by Jordan between early August and 25 September 2007. The public prosecution also accused them participated in military and security training in a neighboring country.

The Islamic Front, the political wing of Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan claimed that four of the men were affiliated with the movement.

and the zionists are trying to get in on the action today too by claiming that israeli terrorists who smoke marijuana are supporting hezbollah:

The Israeli Anti-Drug Authority launched an ad campaign linking smoking marijuana with support for Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

In one poster, Nasrallah’s head appears rising like a genie on smoke from a bong.

The poster reads: (In red) “Nasrallah aims at destroying Israel entirely.” The campaign is based on the allegation that Hizbullah funds its activities in Lebanon and alleged activities in Palestinian areas through drug trafficking.

In white font the poster reads: “Hizbullah has the obvious purpose of flooding Israel with venom which forms a strategic danger against Israel. We should not give him the chance to destroy Israel and we should counter drugs internally and externally.”

Hizbullah is the Lebanese resistance group thought to be responsible for forcing Israel to end its decades-old occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000. In 2006 Israel launched an unsuccessful war against organization after it seized two Israeli soldiers.

get out of your chair and boycott

move over women’s history month…march has a new and improved form of educational and activist energy to it now. as march is now boycott divestment and sanctions (bds) month. read below to see how you can participate:

Join the US Campaign and our allies around the world in a month of action supporting boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) targeting Israel’s military occupation. March offers many opportunities for action, including Israeli Apartheid Week (March 1-8), Rachel Corrie Remembrance Day (March 16) and Global BDS Action Day (March 30). We also urgently need to support Hampshire College Students for Justice in Palestine’s recent victory winning campus divestment from Israeli Apartheid.

Two weeks ago, Hampshire College announced that it was divesting from a mutual fund which has holdings in six corporations that support Israel’s military occupation. Now Hampshire’s administration is caving to pressure from Alan Dershowitz and trying to reinvest in two of these corporations – Motorola and Terex. Write to Hampshire College’s President, Ralph Hexter, and tell him to stand strong for divestment. Click here to send him an email! Click here to organize locally for our national boycott of Motorola.

Israeli Apartheid Week: March 1-8

Educate your community about the apartheid conditions in Israel/Palestine and come together to take action for justice. Learn more about our anti-apartheid framework by clicking here. Find out what other US Campaign groups are doing to observe Israeli Apartheid Week by clicking here, or click here to post your own events.

Rachel Corrie Remembrance Day: March 16

Honor the life and legacy of Rachel Corrie, a young American peace activist who was killed by an Israeli soldier who ran her over with a Caterpillar bulldozer. Celebrate Rachel’s life by continuing her struggle for justice for the people of Gaza and an end to home demolitions. Click here to learn more about Rachel Corrie Day. Find out what other US Campaign groups are doing to remember Rachel Corrie by clicking here, or click here to post your own event.

Global BDS Action Day: March 30

The World Social Forum has called for a Global BDS Action Day to coincide with Palestinian Land Day – the annual commemoration of the 1976 Israeli massacre of Palestinians struggling against land expropriation in the Galilee. Take action to isolate the corporations supporting the continued expropriation of Palestinian land and occupation of Palestinian people. Find out what other US Campaign groups are doing on Global BDS Action Day by clicking here, or click here to post your own event.

Action Ideas

1) Support Divestment at Hampshire College

Send an email to the Hampshire College president asking him to insist on truly socially responsible investment, including divesting from Motorola and Terex, two corporations which directly profit from human rights abuses and violations of international law.

2) Become a local Hang Up On Motorola Organizer

Help grow the BDS movement by joining over 200 groups and individuals around the country in boycotting Motorola until it stops supporting Israel’s military occupation. Click here to sign our pledge not to buy Motorola products until Moto respects Palestinian human rights. Learn more about the Hang Up On Motorola boycott by clicking here or click here to order your own organizing kit. You can also join our Motorola Facebook group by clicking here.

3) Start a Divestment Campaign

Show corporations that profiting from human rights abuses and apartheid are never acceptable. Learn more about divesting from Caterpillar and other corporations supporting Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies. Click here for general divestment information.

4) Support Coordinated Shareholder Meeting Action

March Is Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

Make a tax-deductible donation to support our activities around the Motorola and Caterpillar shareholder meetings. We have an inside-outside strategy for both shareholder meetings that will include advertising, media outreach, and introducing shareholder resolutions focusing on human rights. Make these plans reality – click here to support the US Campaign’s BDS campaigns.

of course an important component of boycotting is buycotting, which is why i have a section of links in the sidebar of ways to get around products from or supporting the zionist entity. and it seems that in the united kingdom buycotting palestinian olive oil is taking off:

In an unintended consequence of Israel’s offensive in Gaza last month, sales of Palestinian olive oil in Britain are soaring, importers have said.

The devastating conflict, in which 1,300 Palestinians were killed, has prompted a surge in demand for the product in apparent sympathy for the Palestinians. Equal Exchange, a seller of Fairtrade products, reported a threefold increase in sales of olive oil from the West Bank in January compared with a year ago.

“We have run out of one-litre bottles and we expect sales to double to 400 tonnes this year compared to 2008,” said Barry Murdoch, the sales director of Equal Exchange.

The company Zaytoun, also established to sell Palestinian olive oil in the UK, reported a fourfold rise in sales last month instead of the usual post-Christmas lull. Zaytoun, established by two Britons, Heather Masoud and Cathi Pawson, takes its name from the Arabic word for olive.

and the sports boycott is still trying to rear its head, but unfortunately, there are still too many inconsistencies. nevertheless, at least there are some repercussions from protesting and pressure:

The Davis Cup match between Sweden and Israel will go ahead as planned — without spectators in the southern city of Malmo — after an attempt to move the venue to Stockholm fell through.

Swedish organizers on Tuesday cited security concerns for the closed-door policy because anti-Israeli demonstrations are expected during the best-of-five series on March 6-8. But the volley of words between the two Swedish cities, which comes after the United Arab Emirates stopped an Israeli player from a tennis tournament in Dubai, has an unmistakable political dimension.

however, it seems that dubai has lost its nerve with respect to a consistent policy in line with boycott:

Only vigilant spectators would have spotted the armed guards, the absence of any Arabs among the line judges and the fact that the umpire was barred from mentioning the nationality of the surprisingly unflustered player in the dark Fila tennis shirt, Andy Ram.

It was 28-year-old Ram’s nationality that made this match far from ordinary. His appearance in Dubai, the first ever by an Israeli, would have been unthinkable just a week ago when his compatriot Shahar Peer was barred from entering the United Arab Emirates in a decision that provoked an international storm of outrage.

The tight security was part of an apparent attempt by the organisers to justify their earlier, much-criticised decision – for which they were fined a record $300,000 by the Women’s Tennis Association. The UAE authorities had claimed Peer was denied a visa for fear of antagonising fans following the recent attacks in Gaza.

the palestinian futball association, in keeping with palestinian civil society, is asking for the sports boycott to take hold:

In a statement today Jibril Rajoub, the head of Palestinian Football Association, has stated that the international community should boycott Israeli athletes, as long as Israel does not allow the Palestinian sports movement to function normally. He noted that Israeli authorities have hindered travels of Palestinian athletes to take part in functions.

“There is a need for the international community to review its policies towards Israel. No Israeli sportsperson should be hosted if Israel does not agree to free Palestinian sport from suppression and injustice,” said Rajoub.

on the academic front we have a new american college seeking to divest from the zionist entity, haverford college. here is their statement, created by haverford alumni:

We, the undersigned alumni and associates of Haverford College, deplore the ongoing atrocities and injustices committed by the State of Israel against Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel. Acknowledging that Haverford’s divestment from South Africa had a positive impact on ending apartheid, we demand that Haverford College divest fully from any entity that contributes to or supports the apartheid in Israel/Palestine. Divestment targets include:

* U.S. companies doing business in Israel;
* companies that manufacture or sell military equipment used by Israel;
* Israeli companies;
* any other holdings that financially support or sustain Israeli state sponsored apartheid.

In solidarity with those living under an unjust occupation, we pledge to continue this campaign until Haverford acts in accord with its Quaker tradition and invests in peace.

meanwhile in canada students continue to face stiff penalties for their anti-israel apartheid week activities (read below to see what you can do to help):

Students Against Israeli Apartheid at York University (SAIA York) received notice of a 30-day suspension, a $1000 fine and an individual fine of $250 for the student signatory for the group. In explaining these measures, York University administration cites a demonstration organized in solidarity with students in Gaza, stating that “your club actively participated in a rally in Vari Hall on February 12, using various sound amplification devices and other noise making instruments.”

The University alleges that ‘sound amplification’ disrupted classes but fails to note that SAIA York quickly moved the rally away from Vari Hall in order to deliver a letter to the University administration. It should also be noted that the maximum monetary penalty has been imposed by the administration without following the verification process outlined in the university’s “Student Code of Conduct”. In doing so, the administration has violated its own procedures. Furthermore, the university has repeatedly failed to respond numerous complaints filed by SAIA members and their community allies over racist and sexist commentary directed at them by members of pro-Israel advocacy organizations present on that day

These discriminatory and punitive measures come a week prior to the scheduled launch of Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) at York University on March 3-8 (www.apartheidweek.org). Pro-Israel organizations have applied immense, coordinated and nation-wide pressure to shut down IAW, including placing full-page advertisements in national newspapers calling on universities to prevent IAW from occurring. The repressive activities of the York administration must be clearly seen in this light.

It is shocking to see university administrations respond to these racist calls to stifle free speech and student organizing around Israeli Apartheid. At Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, university administrations have banned the IAW poster. At the University of Toronto, University President David Naylor has recently been exposed through a Freedom of Information Request to have personally been involved in shutting down a Palestine solidarity event on campus. [see the articles listed below for further detail on this repression].

The attempt by the pro Israel organizations to prevent IAW from occurring is full confirmation that the debate against Israeli Apartheid has been won. In the wake of Israel’s massacres in Gaza, student and public opinion is clearly on the side of justice. Israel is now understood as an apartheid state and the only response of pro-Israel organizations is to harass and repress student organizing. They will fail.

** Please email and phone the following individuals in protest against these repressive measures.

Robert J. Tiffin (Vice President Students)
rjtiffin [at] yorku.ca
+1 416 736 5955

Mamdouh Shoukri (University President)
mshoukri [at] yorku.ca
+1 416 736 5200

** Further Links:

1) Carleton Students Against Israeli Apartheid
http://carleton.saia.ca

2) Exposed: University of Toronto suppresses pro-Palestinian activism
By Lisa Schofield, February 18, 2009
http://www.rabble.ca/news/exposed-university-toronto-suppressed-pro-palestinian-activism

3) Academic Freedom Threatened in Ontario Universities
By Margaret Aziza Pappano
http://www.socialistproject.ca/bullet/bullet187.html

4) Israeli Apartheid Week Schedule
http://www.apartheidweek.org

Sample letter to send to York University administration (mshoukri [at] yorku.ca, rjtiffin [at] yorku.ca):

President Mamdouh Shoukri,
Vice President Robert Tiffin,

I was shocked and appalled to learn that the student group, Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) was penalized for holding a demonstration on campus in solidarity with the students in Gaza. One would expect that an academic institution like York University would condemn the destruction of Palestinian academic institutions by the Israeli army. Instead, York University is banning protest, and penalizing students for demonstrating against such crimes.

It is a shame that an institution which is built on the principle of freedom of expression, and that the senior administration which is entrusted with upholding freedom of speech, are restricting speech and penalizing students engaged in legitimate protest. This reflects badly on York University’s reputation.

It seems that York University is bowing under the pressure by external pro-Israel advocacy groups who are working hard to silence any voice that supports the Palestinian cause. It is sad to see that the administration is not providing protection to the students expressing their views and feelings against Israel’s crimes.

I strongly urge you to reconsider your problematic position and cancel the fines. I also strongly urge you to uphold the principles of freedom of expression and academic freedom, and to allow students to express themselves freely without the influence of external pro-Israel lobbying groups. This is your duty even if you do not agree with views expressed.

Sincerely yours,

[-------]

meanwhile on the other side of the atlantic, another university is occupied for divestment & boycott!:

Our demands are as follows:

1. That the University of Plymouth issue a statement condemning the recent and continuing atrocities perpetrated by Israel in the Gaza strip. The University should officially denounce the attacks on civilians, the systematic obstruction of humanitarian aid and the targeting of academic institutions, hospitals, places of worship and international peace keeping facilities.

2. That the University of Plymouth cease to invest directly or indirectly in companies complicit in human rights abuses in the Gaza strip and internationally.

3. That no Israeli goods or goods produced by companies that have directly funded the State of Israel be sold on campus.

4. That the University of Plymouth provide complete financial scholarships for six students from Gaza University which has been bombed by the Israeli military.

5. That any surplus educational resources available to the University of Plymouth are provided to Gaza University and that the shipping of these resources be fully paid for by the University of Plymouth.

6. That there be no legal, financial, or academic measures taken against anyone involved in or supporting the occupation. All those involved will be guaranteed free movement in and out of the occupied space, with open access to electricity and internet.

We await your response to organise a formal meeting between delegates of our occupation and with university management to negotiate these demands.

To keep up with things as they progress, check out our blog at: http://plymouthunioccupation.blogspot.com/

For more information, email plymouthunioccupation [at] gmail.com

stephen lendman has an article out that details at length why the terrorist state of israel should be boycotted. it begins as follows (click link to read the rest):

Enough is enough. After 61 years of Palestinian slaughter, displacement, occupation, oppression, and international dismissiveness and complicity, global action is essential. Israel must be held accountable. World leaders won’t do it, so grassroots movements must lead the way.

In 2004, Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote: “The end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure – in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s. Over the past six months, a similar movement has taken shape, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation.”

In July 2008, 21 South African activists, including ANC members, visited Israel and Occupied Palestine. Their conclusion was unanimous. Israel is far worse than apartheid as former Deputy Minister of Health and current MP Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge explained:

“What I see here is worse than what we experienced – the absolute control of people’s lives, the lack of freedom of movement, the army presence everywhere, the total separation and the extensive destruction we saw….racist ideology is also reinforced by religion, which was not the case in South Africa.”

Sunday Times editor, Mondli Makhanya, went further: “When you observe from afar you know that things are bad, but you do not know how bad. Nothing can prepare you for the evil we have seen here. It is worse, worse, worse than everything we endured. The level of apartheid, the racism and the brutality are worse than the worst period of apartheid.”

enough choices/reasons to get up off your asses and do something?

mothers & others for gaza

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first a disclaimer: i am do not personally favor political actions that suggest that the lives of women and children are somehow more important that the lives of men. but when muna and ramla asked me to help them organize a vigil for “mothers across the world for gaza / أمهات حول العالم يعزّين أمهات غزة” i could not say no because it is difficult for me to say no to people i love. and i should add another disclaimer: neither muna or ramla buy into the idea that somehow women and children are more valuable human beings. they had a vigil like this one a couple of weeks ago in beirut honoring the child martyrs and it was successful so they wanted to do a new one and make it global. so i agreed to get one off the ground here in nablus with the help of saed, alia, and beesan–who make an amazing team i must say.

helsinki, finland

helsinki, finland

we had an interesting array of cities participating today: nablus, palestine; beirut, lebanon; amman, jordan; helsinki, finland; manchester, england; cape town south africa; edmonton, canada; san jose, california, u.s.; palo alto, california, u.s.; east lansing, michigan, u.s.; boise, idaho, u.s.; free derry, ireland; ballybofey, ireland; dubai, united arab emirates.

free derry, ireland

free derry, ireland

here in nablus we had most of the women’s committees from the various political parties represented and we had a large contingent from askar refugee camp. the kids from the camp were very cute. most of the kids i spoke with were from yaffa and beer seba’. it is interesting what having this large group of kids did to my expectation of the event. i had imagined it as something that would be somber. where we would quietly, respectfully read the names of the 300+ we had printed out (there are over 400 children murdered by israeli terrorists). but having over 100 children changes all that, in a good way. they had so much energy–each one racing to the microphone to read out the name of a martyred child in gaza. it was an important reminder of those children who we have lost–those palestinian children in gaza, many of whom are also refugees from 1948 palestine–children unknown to all of us here because of israel’s colonial terror project. it was important reminder of what playful energy of the murdered children would have still had if they had not been massacred by israeli terrorists.

amman, jordan

amman, jordan

one of my friends here asked if we could have a mother of a martyred child in gaza on the phone with us during the vigil so a friend sent me the names of a few women and we got a hold of one and spoke with her in the afternoon. when we called her during the vigil, however, rather than speaking about her loss she praised abu mazen. it was very disappointing not only because how anyone can support that collaborator is beyond me, but also because we tried very hard to keep this non-sectarian. we asked people to not give speeches, to not come with political party flags. in fact, i asked for no flags thinking this was to have the mood of an ‘aza. and there were no flags, but i think after the phone call one of the women from pflp was a bit agitated so she closed with a speech. but it was a good speech that basically said that we have to knock off this political factionalizing and in fighting. at the same time, the reason why i did not want to have speeches is that all of these protests about gaza in nablus wind up with the same effect: it always feels to me like the person is just going off with his/her point of view and the focus shifts from gaza to the person speaking. i feel like i haven’t heard one speech that keeps the focus where it should be. and that is unfortunate.

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beirut, lebanon

beirut, lebanon

in any case, the event was great and it seems that other folks who already held theirs had great events too. one thing i kept thinking about this week as we were planning the event was about the effect of political events, albeit this one was not a march or demonstration. but i had seen a video of naomi wolf (who normally grates on my nerves), but she has a good point and i think it is worth listening to.

i thought of this wolf piece, which i had seen earlier on elisa’s blog, because she talks about what happens when people get permission to have a protest and how this defeats the purpose of having a protest in the first place. i was reminded of this earlier in the week when beesan asked if we should get permission. i said no. i said no partially because i was reminded of wolf’s point and partially because i knew what happened last time people here tried to get permission for the tent solidarity sit in on martyr’s square in nablus. they were told no (until the ajaneb showed up and requested permission: apparently they don’t say no to white folks). when we arrived tonight the palestinian authority–or as joseph massad calls them, the palestinian collaborationist authority–was waiting for us. saed spoke to them and they let us proceed. but i think if it had been different–if there were not 100 children marching behind us towards martyr’s square–then perhaps we would not have been allowed to have our vigil. but it is one of the many ways in which political life here is made difficult with respect to voicing one’s point of view in the streets. the same is true in egypt, of course, for similar reasons in terms of the zionist-american control wielded there, too. kabobfest reported today about the detention of blogger philip rizk:

A group of activists were recently detained in Sariaqos, north of Cairo. They had been holding a march in the rural area to raise awareness about the situation in Gaza. For several hours, they walked around, talking to bystanders and asking them to join the protest. They did what they had to do. As they were heading back to Cairo, they were stopped and arrested. All of them were released… except for Philip Rizk.

Human rights lawyers arrived to help the activists but Rizk was snuck out of the prison’s backdoor of and taken away. According to a Reuters report, he was put in an unmarked car with no license plates; police also blocked his companions’ vehicle to prevent them from following.

A Facebook group set up by his friends and family explains further:

Phil’s parents went to the police headquarters to file a missing persons complaint. There they were told it might take 2 or 3 days to process the paperwork and get Philip out… he is being held by National Security at their headquarters in downtown Cairo. But of course there are no official charges.

Philip is of Egyptian-German descent and he has worked tirelessly for the Palestinians cause. Among other things, he has produced a number of documentaries on the subject. He also blogs at tabluagaza (surely the Egyptian authorities did not like his last post). No stranger to the effects of Israeli cruelty, he worked for over two years in Gaza and it has a very special place in his heart. In a recent interview he gave, you can hear the sorrow in his voice as he expresses the pain of not knowing the fate of his friends in the Strip. Let’s hope he is released soon… and unharmed (the German side should help with that).

yes there is more pressure, continued pressure and silence around gaza. and the aggression and the attacks continue, albeit in various forms, like the israeli terrorist tactic of slow starvation. or the israeli terrorist tactic of forbidding necessary medicine. and books…we know books are ketir dangerous! we can’t have palestinians educated. then they would have more tools with which to resist colonial occupation:

Aid agencies are becoming increasingly frustrated with the difficulties of getting humanitarian supplies into the Gaza Strip.

“For us to move ahead with rehabilitation and repairs, we must get building materials into Gaza,” Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), told IRIN by telephone. “Two hundred and twenty-one schools for 200,000 children only have 40 percent of their books because we can’t get paper and glue into Gaza.”

meanwhile palestinians are suffer severe shortages of everything in gaza and the death toll continues to rise, though the martyrs are not being counted as they were before. israeli terrorists are content to let palestinian people suffer. but not palestinian animals. it seems that israeli terrorists have animal rights organizations that are working hard to ensure that the animals in gaza do not suffer:

An Israeli animal rights group is behind a relief effort to assist animals in the Gaza Zoo.

The zoo came under attack during the offensive of December and January. A number of animals died while others were visibly distressed from the violence that unfolded.

The Israeli group ‘Let the Animals Live’ persuaded Ehud Barak, Israel’s defense minister, to arrange entry for trucks carrying aid to the stricken zoo.

The Israeli agency said it was a joint-effort with a Palestinian animals welfare group, and other international organizations.

Thirty trucks loaded with oats and hay and medical supplies for the animals have been organized.

palestinian farmers, however, are fair game. they can be attacked–it seems, though, that their animals cannot.

these are some of the many reasons that south africans continue to say that the apartheid created by the zionist entity is worse than the apartheid in south africa:

President Kgalema Motlanthe says some of Israel’s actions are worse than what happened during apartheid. He says the creation of new settlements within the West Bank which exclude Palestinians is one such example. Motlanthe was speaking in Cape Town at the fourth conference of the Coalition for the Good and Charity.

The president, who visited Gaza in May last year, says the construction of walls that divide Palestinians has resulted in some Palestinians travelling three hours to get to their businesses as opposed to the two minutes they took before. Motlanthe says Israel continues to change the physical facts in Palestine by constructing new settlements. As a result of these he says the land surface which used to be the West Bank has been dramatically reduced.

and this is also why even those who may have opposed boycott in the past are continuing to come around to see boycott, divestment, and sanctions as one of the important modes of resistance to enact, including one of my favorite poets, adrienne rich:

Dear All,

Last week, with initial hesitation but finally strong conviction, I endorsed the Call for a U.S. Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel. I’d like to offer my reasons to friends, family and comrades. I have tried in fullest conscience to think this through.

My hesitation: I profoundly believe in the visible/invisible liberatory social power of creative and intellectual boundary-crossings. I’ve been educated by these all my life, and by centuries-long cross-conversations about human freedom, justice and power — also, the forces that try to silence them.

As an American Jew, over almost 30 years, I’ve joined with other concerned Jews in various kinds of coalition-building and anti-Occupation work. I’ve seen the kinds of organized efforts to stifle — in the US and elsewhere — critiques of Israel’s policies — the Occupation’s denial of Palestinian humanity, destruction of Palestinian lives and livelihoods, the “settlements,” the state’s physical and psychological walls against dialogue — and the efforts to condemn any critiques as anti-Semitism. Along with other activists and writers I’ve been named on right-wing “shit-lists” as “Israel-hating” or “Jew-hating.” I have also seen attacks within American academia and media on Arab American, Muslim, Jewish scholars and teachers whose work critically explores the foundations and practices of Israeli state and society.

Until now, as a believer in boundary-crossings, I would not have endorsed a cultural and academic boycott. But Israel’s continuing, annihilative assaults in Gaza and the one-sided rationalizations for them have driven me to re-examine my thoughts about cultural exchanges. Israel’s blockading of information, compassionate aid, international witness and free cultural and scholarly expression has become extreme and morally stone-blind. Israeli Arab parties have been banned from the elections, Israeli Jewish dissidents arrested, Israeli youth imprisoned for conscientious refusal of military service. Academic institutions are surely only relative sites of power. But they are, in their funding and governance, implicated with state economic and military power. And US media, institutions and official policy have gone along with all this.

To boycott a repressive military state should not mean backing away from individuals struggling against the policies of that state. So, in continued solidarity with the Palestinian people’s long resistance, and also with those Israeli activists, teachers, students, artists, writers, intellectuals, journalists, refuseniks, feminists and others who oppose the means and ends of the Occupation, I have signed my name to this call.

Adrienne Rich

for those who live in the europe here is a brief bit on the economic boycott and what one must look for when one goes shopping:

من الأمهات في نابلس الى الأمهات في غزة / أمهات العالم يعزين أمهات غزة

أمهات العالم يعزين أمهات غزة

من الأمهات في نابلس إلى الأمهات في غزة

نتقدم بدعوة أمهاتنا وعائلاتهن في محافظة نابلس للانضمام إلى المسيرة التضامنية لتقديم تعازينا إلى أمهات الأطفال في غزة في ذكرى  مصادفة 40 يوم على استشهاد أول طفل في غزة خلال الغارة العدوانية التي شنها العدو الإسرائيلي على أهلنا في قطاع غزة.

الأحد الموافق 8-2-2009
دوار الشهداء — نابلس
ما بين الساعة 5:30 حتى الساعة 6:30

الرجاء من المدعوين الكرام إحضار الشموع التي سيتم إيقادها حدادا على أرواح الشهداء. كما نرجو من الجميع الالتزام بملابس الحداد و ارتداء اللون الأسود رمزا لحدادنا و حزننا على الأرواح البريئة التي أزهقت خلال هذا العدوان الغاشم حيث سيأخذ هذا التجمع شكل العزاء الرمزي.
لذا لن يكون هناك أي نوع من الخطابات السياسية أو الجماهيرية أو رفع للأعلام حتى العلم الفلسطيني. سوف يتم توزيع أسماء الشهداء من الأطفال و سيطلب من بعض المشاركين بالتناوب قراءة أسماء الأطفال و أعمارهم.

هذا التجمع سيتم بالتنسيق مع عدة تجمعات في عدة أماكن من العالم تشمل بيروت، عمان، دبي، العاصمة الفنلندية هيلسنكي، سان هوزيه، أدمنتون، مانشستر، وفري ديري في إيرلندا.

Mothers across the World Offer their Condolences to Mothers in Gaza
أمهات حول العالم يعزّين أمهات غزة

From the Mothers of Nablus to the Mothers of Gaza

We invite all mothers and their families in the Nablus district to join us in offering our condolences to the mothers of the children of Gaza on the 40th day after the martyrdom of the first child in the most recent aggression against the people of Gaza.

Sunday, February 8th, 2009
Martyr’s Square, Nablus
5:30 pm-6:30 pm

Please bring a candle with you for this vigil. We are also asking that everyone wear black to symbolize our mourning. This event will be a somber one, like an ‘aza, so there will we request that there will be no political speeches and no flags other than Palestinian flags. We will distribute the names of the children martyrs and ask that everyone who attends to take turns reading the names and ages of the martyrs out loud.

This will be a coordinated global event that includes Beirut, Amman, Dubai, Helsinki, San Jose, Edmonton, Manchester, and Free Derry, Ireland.

boycott new year’s eve for gaza

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you’ve got to hand it to the women. when the shit hits the fan they are always the ones to react. the strong ones. in the midst of a political situation where palestinians are afraid to speak out against the israeli terrorist war against gaza, the women’s union got fed up today and organized and impromptu protest at martyr’s square in downtown nablus. it was a brief demonstration, partially due to the rain i suspect, but important nevertheless. after the first fifteen minutes or so men joined as well. the chants were all about unity: one nation. no division. the chants criticized hamas and fatah alike. i recorded some of the chants in two mp3 files which you can listen to if you’d like:

nablus chants 1

nablus chants 2

we are having a second protest tonight at 5 pm. here is the statement about tonight’s evening demonstration:

على عتبه العام الجديد ..وبينما العالم يطوي صفحه عام مضى نفتح صفحه صبغت اولى حروفها بلون الدم .. دم اخوتنا في غزه … سنه جديده شاهده على عمق المأساه وحجم الجريمه التي ترتكب بحق شعبنا
لذلك ولاجل الدم الذي يسيل في غزه لاجل الاطفال وشيوخ
لاجل المناضلين الذين يرضون كل شيء الا الذله
نضيء شموعنا ..
علها توصل من قلوبنا نورا يضي عتمه ليلهم .. صوتا يواسيهم ويشد من ازرهم ويقول لهم اننا معكم … كلنا في الكرب واحد
المنا واحد …كيف لا ودمنا فلسطيني واحد
التجمع في
دوار الشهداء _ مدينه نابلس

On the threshold of the new year .. and as the world turns the page of one year and opens a new page in the color of blood .. The blood of our brothers in Gaza … the new year saw the depth of the tragedy and the magnitude of the crimes committed against our people.

for the blood spilling in Gaza, for the children and the elderly

for the freedom fighter who buys everything except fifth and dignity.

we lights our candles …

may the light from our hearts alleviate some of the darkness that surround them… attribute to them to tell them we are with you … we are all one in distress

we are sharing the pain our blood is unify us.

Today five p.m. turn on the candles in the center of the city of Nablus martyrs circle

Brothers … Make your voice loud for them to hear you like all the brothers in all over the country and around the world

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in lebanon dear baha’a sent out an email about their protest this afternoon. he noted that there are many new year’s celebrations in jordan and syria have been canceled, but not in lebanon. he urged people to boycott those celebrations and i encourage others to do the same around the world:

Also, tonight happens to be the New Year’s night which everyone celebrates usually. Syria and Jordan have declared the cancellation of all celebrations to stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine and Gaza. As for Lebanon, I urge everyone to boycott any celebrations as the violence against Gaza is increasing. Instead, a group of people will be gathering at Esqwa, downtown, before midnight to light candles and show solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza.

honestly, i don’t know how people can celebrate tonight given the situation. i am happy that i don’t have to worry about that here in nablus. but really i don’t know how people can go out and celebrate tonight. last year i arrived in beirut on new year’s eve. it was solemn then, too, because tamara’s grandfather had just died while i was en route to lebanon. we had a quiet dinner together and then met up with some friends for a low key night out at barometre. all night long ali kept asking me what my new year’s wish was. my response was: the right of return. he knows that i was earnest in saying this, but he kept wanting me to offer a different answer, an answer about something i want for myself. but honestly there was nothing i wanted for me. unfortunately, this year, while my answer would be the same, i would have to answer that i want this fucking bloodbath to stop. the bombing just started again an hour ago from the american-made f16s, though gazans have been shelled all day from israeli terrorists along the seashore.

there are now 391 palestinian martyrs and almost 1,800 injured. it took this many dead palestinians before the arab league met today. not that anything will come out of it. some rhetoric maybe, but what will they do? they all want to continue normalization with the zionist entity. with the americans. in spite of how many millions of their arab brothers and sisters blood has been shed as a result of both of them. the only statement i have seen thus far that makes some bit of sense came from pflp today:

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine called on December 30, 2008 for the immediate and permanent end to the so-called “negotiations” with the enemy, once and for all.

The PFLP further warned PA President Abu Mazen from providing cover for the enemy and its assaults against our people through the so-called “negotiations” with Israel, stating that these negotiations are a mockery and must end immediately.

The statement said that the PFLP has warned Abu Mazen and the PA government in Ramallah of the damaging and dangerous of these “negotiations” upon our people and our cause and stated that they only provide illusions and false promises to our people.

Our people are not fooled by these so-called “negotiations” or the so-called “peace process,” because they daily confront the crimes and aggressions of the enemy on the ground, from the latest massacres in Gaza, to the continuing imprisonment of over 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners, to the ongoing building of the settlements that steal our land, to the building of the racist annexation wall, to the Zionization of Jerusalem, to the countless other crimes committed over sixty years of occupation that have not once ceased due to such so-called “negotiations.”

The PFLP said that the road that must be taken instead and immediately is that which leads to the defeat of the enemy – steadfastness, resistance, national unity, and confrontation. Our responsibility is to protect our people under occupation and not to provide cover for the occupation as it commits its crimes.

mona el farra on her blog this morning recounted new war crimes by the israeli terrorists:

Dear Friends,

Today in the early morning hours, and while the health emergency teams on duty (Jabalia ), trying to evacuate the injured and dead, they were targeted by the israeli army, one of the health rescue members was killed another injured. (i will provide you with more details when i have the names and time of the incident).

i warned of in previous entry in my blog, and several times in my writing, while reporting from Gaza, since the year 2000. i warned of targeting health teams while on duty and in clear uniform.

can we just investigate who violate human rights? talking of terrorism! what do u think of state terrorism!

In Gaza We have many evidence, on daily human rights violations, we do not need the world to say we did not know, when it is late and the genocide is well prominent fact.

now tell me: is this really something you can delete from your mind and go celebrate tonight. and please, if you are my friend do not send me emails wishing me a happy new year. save your fingers from the typing. instead, write a letter to your newspaper, the the united nations, to anyone who will listen and ask them to make the israeli terrorists stop. NOW.

ps: i just learned that dubai canceled its new year’s celebrations tonight, which is great. now can we just get them to stop their fucking normalizing with israeli businessmen?:

All public events marking New Year’s Eve in Dubai have been cancelled, officials confirmed this afternoon.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE, ordered the cancellation of all New Year celebrations in the emirate to show support for the people of Gaza.