from nahr el bared to gaza

aside from a seeing a few friends while in beirut, i’ve been kind of hiding out. just don’t feel like going out. just don’t feel like being in spaces where beirutis are out laughing and having fun. but i leave rania’s house for the obligatory 3 hours a day when the electricity is cut. i see people i know. i haven’t even had the energy to email or call people to let them know i’m here, though, so it’s all by accident. it’s not that i don’t want to see friends, it is just that i cannot muster the energy. i can’t tear myself away from reading, writing, watching about gaza. but somehow word is out that i’m here and one friend asked if rania and i could meet up with her tonight. she had an american friend with her doing research about nahr el bared refugee camp and she wanted us to meet her. we met up tonight and my friend brought us a surprise–a mutual friend from nahr el bared refugee camp. my other friend lives in nahr el bared, too, though she is from gaza. we were all asked to re-tell the story of how the nahr el bared refugee campaign got started. my mind is such a blur right now, so singularly focused and fixated on gaza that it was difficult for me to remember at first. but as we all shared stories it began coming back to me.

my memory especially was revived listening to my friend talk about living through the lebanese army’s assault on the palestinian refugee camp in the spring and summer of 2007. i remember meeting him for the first time after he got out. he was first taken to prison because he had pockets filled with all sorts of things that seemed suspicious. you see, he is a nurse and he had pockets filled with things like bandages and other sorts of first aid materials. i’ve written about all this before, at the time it happened. but listening to him tell me about it today i couldn’t help but think about the people of gaza. to compare. here, his choice was to remain in his home or to flee; fleeing, for palestinian men in particular, meant at least a short stint in prison. and then flight to another refugee camp, in his case baddawi, where we first met. in nahr el bared, where the camp was so totally destroyed that only a few thousand–out of 31,000–were allowed to return home last year. most remain outside, not even allowed to return for a visit. when the palestinians from nahr el bared fled they took nothing. they lost the keys to their homes in palestine. the title deeds to their houses and land in palestine. all lost. the lebanese army destroying and stealing what they could before the handful of palestinians could return home.

my friend was one of the “lucky” ones who could return home–home to his refugee camp that had been destroyed. home to a home, which is not his home; it is a temporary home until israeli colonial terrorists are forced to abide by international law and allow all palestinian refugees the right to return home to palestine. to their villages, cities, and exact, precise homes and land where they came from.

all of this, of course, made me think of gaza. where my other friend who was with us is from. she is from rafah. her family, thank god, is still okay. but they, like everyone else in gaza, are forced to continually move around to seek shelter from the bombs raining on them with no ability to flee. or when they do flee israeli terrorists shoot at them. unlike nahr el bared, people in gaza don’t even have the choice of leaving and being forced to go to prison–as was the case with many nahr el bared refugees. though in nahr el bared, too, we had to fight to allow palestinians who wanted to leave an opportunity to flee. we had to do this even when there were pregnant women, children, elderly people trapped inside. in both cases, though, refugees were made and are made into internally displaced people (idps). in both cases palestinian refugees sought and seek shelter in unrwa schools. in both cases the united states provides military materiel to aid the destruction and death of palestinian refugees. these are the many nakbas. the repeated nakbas that recur. they comprise the physical and psychological trauma that was produced by the birth of the israeli colonial terrorist state. here is a recent, short film that shows some of the continuing struggles for palestinians in nahr el bared refugee camp trying to rebuild their lives after utter destruction to give you a point of comparison:

earlier today, at dinner, i was with a friend who received an sms message on her phone. it was from a friend who had just received a call on her landline that was from israeli terrorists. it was a recording, in broken arabic, threatening her stating “look what they [palestinians] did to you. you shouldn’t support them [hezbollah, hamas] or else.” apparently a number of people are receiving these messages. this produces more of the psychological terror and trauma–because of repeated israeli terrorist aggression against lebanon and those palestinians and lebanese who live here–and makes people wonder if israeli terrorists will begin assaulting lebanon too as they did in the summer of 2006 when they besieged both gaza and lebanon. interestingly, an article by rannie amiri in the palestine chronicle today compares the massacre in qana in 1996 with the one in jabalya now.

in nahr el bared 46 palestinians were murdered. now in gaza we have surpassed 1,000. there are now 1,033 martyrs and 4,580 wounded, 1/3 of whom are children.

earlier today robert fisk commented on al jazeera about the situation, identifying the key issue–the only issue–that will solve this problem. it is not a ceasefire. it is not a two-state solution. it is the liberation of palestine and the right of return for palestinian refugees for those in gaza and in nahr el bared:

Robert Fisk, a journalist and Middle East expert, said neither the current Gaza war nor the broader 60-year regional conflict would end without resolving the Palestinian issue.

“Why are they [Palestinians] dispossessed? Why are settlements – colonies for Jews and Jews only – being built on Arab land illegally? And still it continues,” he said in an interview with Al Jazeera.

“Unless we deal with… [Palestinian refugees], there will not be an end to this war”

“Unless we deal with this [Palestinian refugees], there will not be an end to this war. There might be a ceasefire in Gaza, a ceasefire in the West Bank, but there will not be an end to the war. That is the problem.”

Earlier this week, the United Nations Security Council adopted a legally binding resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

However, both Israel and Hamas have ignored it and continued fighting.

Fisk said that Israel will be able to flout the UN ceasefire demand as long as the US – the only country to abstain from the 15-member security council vote on the resolution – continues to back the country.

“It’s quite clear from Hillary Clinton’s [incoming US secretary of state] most recent comments that it [the US backing of Israel] will continue under Barack Obama.

“I see no change, I see no hope at all in the future,” Fisk said.

while palestinians in gaza are dying israeli terrorists decide to target a cemetery:

and while there is death and suffering everywhere in gaza, so too, there is life, or an attempt at life as women give birth to babies in the midst of this war:

a team of doctors recently returned from a fact-finding mission in palestine to write a piece for one of the most prestigious journals in the field of medicine, the lancet. their conclusion is telling: boycott:

Unlike Gaza, the West Bank does not threaten Israel with missiles, but nevertheless suffers widespread erosions of human rights which we witnessed on a fact-finding tour in November, 2008.

Restriction of movement due to the separation barrier and checkpoints, combined with the need for travel permits, delay access to hospitals for both patients and health workers. We saw 33-week-old triplets delayed for over 5 h while awaiting permits and finally transferred without their parents, and heard of hospital workers’ commuting times increasing from 30 min to more than 2·5 h after the closure to them of nearby checkpoints. At the medical schools we heard of the immense difficulties staff and students face as a result of the paralysing restrictions on travel between institutions in the Occupied Territories.

The total blockade of Gaza meant our entry there was denied, as it has been for humanitarian workers and essential food, energy, and medical supplies since the closure of the border in early November. We heard from Physicians for Human Rights—Israel, of the reduction in exit permits being granted for treatment outside Gaza, and of the practice of denying exit to some patients unless they collaborate with the security service in intelligence gathering.

We saw how the Palestinians’ opportunities to make a living are being eroded, both by illegal Israeli settlements on their farmland and by discrimination against their industry.

Violence continues at all levels: we spoke with schoolchildren, injured in stone-throwing attacks by Israeli children occurring while Israeli soldiers looked on. Children as young as 12 years are prosecuted in the Israeli military courts. The most common charge against children in the military courts is for stone-throwing, which under military law carries a maximum penalty of 20 years.

Our experience in the West Bank caused us grave concerns, which have been realised more rapidly and devastatingly than any of us could have anticipated, in the current disproportionate attacks by Israeli forces on Gaza. Our personal insight into this includes the attack by the Israeli navy on the boat Dignity when underway to provide emergency health care to Gaza, and which was carrying a member of our tour group.

This report is for our colleagues around the world who might be unaware of the deliberate erosion of human rights in both the West Bank and Gaza. We suggest that, in view of the failure of other measures to influence those in power, serious consideration be given to targeted academic and trade boycotts.

support for boycott and sanctions is rapidly growing and perhaps as a result of this israeli terrorists unleash their propaganda machine to tarnish the reputation of the one or two leaders with the moral courage to stand up for justice, like hugo chavez. today ha’aretz reported that he was going back on his earlier decision to stop normalization with the israeli terrorist state. fortunately, it is not difficult to find out the real answer:

Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nicolás Maduro Wednesday said that only one Israeli official is left in Caracas taking charge of the “vital issues” of the diplomatic delegation. Maduro added that Venezuela has not backed down on the expulsion of Israeli Ambassador Schlomo Cohen.

In a statement, Maduro denied “reports from the Jewish News Agency” that the government of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez is trying “to mend ties with Israel,” EFE reported.

Maduro stressed that “the reports of the Jewish News Agency” aim to “manipulate information to try to slow down and lower the moral and political impact” of Caracas decision “to declare persona non grata and expelling seven officials of the Israeli embassy, including the Ambassador in Caracas.”

“We have cut diplomatic relations to a minimum. There is just one official left who is responsible for the basic administrative affairs of the Israeli mission in Caracas,” Maduro said in the statement.

likewise, bolivia’s president, evo morales, made a strong statement today condemning the genocide in gaza–taking his cue from father miguel d’escoto brockman’s statement yesterday on al jazeera–and ending his normalization with the zionist entity as well:

Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, says he is breaking off ties with Israel in protest against its war in Gaza, which has left more than 1,000 Palestinians dead.

Morales said on Wednesday that he would seek to get top Israeli officials, including Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, charged with “genocide” in the International Criminal Court.

The Bolivian president also dismissed the United Nations and its “Insecurity Council” for its “lukewarm” response to the crisis and said the general assembly should hold an emergency session to condemn the invasion.

“Considering these grave attacks against … humanity, Bolivia will stop having diplomatic relations with Israel,” Morales told diplomats in the Bolivian capital, La Paz.

He also said that Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, should be stripped of his Nobel Peace Prize for failing to stop the invasion.

rania, of course, already has a great post on bolivia and palestine so i won’t say more except to say, read rania’s blog. and, meanwhile, more are working towards a war crimes tribunal of israeli terrorists so they can be put in the place they belong: prison:

A Foreign Office source confirmed the UK would consider backing calls for a reference to the ICJ. “It’s definitely on the table,” the source said. “We have already called for an investigation and are looking at all evidence and allegations.”

An open letter to the prime minister signed by prominent international lawyers and published in today’s Guardian states: “The United Kingdom government … has a duty under international law to exert its influence to stop violations of international humanitarian law in the current conflict between Israel and Hamas.”

The letter argues that Israel has violated principles of humanitarian law, including launching attacks directly aimed at civilians and failing to discriminate between civilians and combatants.

The letter follows condemnation earlier this week from leading QCs of Israel’s action as a violation of international law, and a vote by the UN’s human rights council on Monday on a resolution condemning the ongoing Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip.

and i’m just finding it a bit curious: why did the jerusalem post have an article today about motorola’s woes? i can’t help but think the boycott motorola campaign for its complicity in israeli terrorism might have something to do with this economic downturn for this company complicit with state terrorism and massacres.

these are all reasons why some people, like yousef abuddayeh, think that the demise of the zionist terrorist state is on the horizon (thanks rania) :

Effectively, the Zionist political leadership is succumbing to its exclusivist need for self-preservation as a colonial settler polity. Effectively, the Zionists are unable to use even a feeble fig leaf to cover its Apartheid system. How else would a polity expel 20% of the population from political representation, albeit superficially, while simultaneously scorching its surrounding in the literal meaning of the word? The Zionist political system is clearly showing significant signs of implosion. It cannot reconcile settler colonialism with democratic representation, and certainly cannot reconcile citizenship with theocratic exclusion. Hence the two major attributes of Zionism (exclusion and colonialism) are the very same factors that the Israeli polity is now facing.

This was the case in South Africa. Several decades after it was founded as a settler colony, and years following the imposition of the Apartheid system as a state policy, it too had to face the inevitable: settler colonialism and democratic representation cannot be reconciled. And it too imploded during a time when many believed that it was the strongest military power in the area and one of the most powerful in the world. Naturally, South Africa’s strongest ally was at that time the Zionist polity itself, given the equivalence in ideology, form of government, and militarist nature. In fact, just as the Zionist regime continuously attacks Lebanon, the Apartheid regime continuously attacked neighboring states.

it may be a bit premature, but we are on the road to liberating palestine. we must push forward. fast. now.

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