on gaza withdrawal and other ramblings

israeli terrorists in hamra, palestine
israeli terrorists in hamra, palestine

i finally arrived back home in nablus yesterday, but jawal and palnet have been having tons of problems so my access to the internet has been minimal. both were down all day yesterday and today just palnet has been down. it’s finally back up again. as usual i am amazed that i was able to get back in. when rania took me to the airport in beirut she was complaining about how heavy my bags were because i had so many books. i didn’t need all those books during the break, but i always pack a lot so i have some work i can do in case i don’t get back in. and, as usual, it is my books that are the problem when i enter. i used the sheikh hussein bridge in the north again because it’s closer to my house and it’s easier to use. but it’s also scarier because it’s relatively empty. this time i crossed with two palestinians. we waited together for an hour on the jordanian side and then they sailed right through after we crossed. i got my luggage searched and questioned again. i was worried about the t-shirts i brought back from beirut as gifts, all of which were packed turned inside out so they couldn’t see hanzala with a gun saying “الله معك يا غزة كلنا معك يا غزة.” but they didn’t do a thorough search of my clothes. actually, they didn’t do a thorough search of anything other than my books. again i had a series of questions about why i have so many books. clearly they couldn’t read arabic because they would have noticed that a huge stack of the books came from lebanon. and they were especially interested in my book war on lebanon about the 2006 invasion. it seemed like they were reading it, and especially focusing on the notes i’d written in the margins. matthew had told me i should leave my second passport in amman, but i realized i can’t because it is the one i use to arrive in jordan and therefore i cannot leave the country without it. but they never seem to find my other passport, my lebanese money or sim card when searching through my things. and during the questioning what was especially interesting is that the usual list of countries they want to know if you’ve traveled to has been expanded. normally they just ask if you’ve been to syria, lebanon, or iran (a.k.a: israeli terrorists’ axis of evil). but yesterday they also asked me about afghanistan, pakistan, iraq, and yemen.


i made it through and my taxi from nasra was waiting to take me to my taxi from nablus at the checkpoint near the “green line.” as we drove through bisan an israeli terrorist military plane was flying ahead–not an f-16, but one that carries their terrorists on board. it was heading towards jordan, flying low. abu nidal, the driver, told me that this happens a lot because they collaborate with the jordanian military. we finally arrived at my second taxi; zuheir was waiting for me with a palestinian farmer by the side of the road drinking tea. abu nidal and i joined them for a bit before saying goodbye. and then zuheir and i were on our way. normally the drive back to nablus is beautiful and scenic. but i noticed something different as i reached closer to nablus. there is a village called hamra where there is an israeli terrorist military base. of course i have seen this base before but i didn’t notice how the farmland changed around it. for miles and miles around it. i noticed it yesterday because i saw a bunch of israeli terrorist tents put up with their terrorist flag on top. apparently they were running training camps on this palestinian farmland. or what used to be this farmland. i wasn’t quick enough with my camera so i didn’t get a picture, but a few more miles down the road i did manage to catch a shot of israeli terrorists terrorizing a shepherd and his sheep. apparently not only is planting food forbidden on this palestinian land, but so is walking with your flock. ahlan was ahlan.

i came home and had to get my syllabi together and organize things for school today. i spent all night writing syllabi and did so with a different emphasis. i’ve framed them this time with much greater emphasis on education as a tool of resistance and many of the films and literary texts i’m using will emphasize that theme. i’m hoping that it will inspire them to organize. sharif reminded me of the need for doing this, and especially for unlearning internalized colonialism. i’ll be teaching writers like ngũgĩ wa thiong’o, steven biko, and frantz fanon to help with that process. i’m quite happy with the syllabi i’ve produced, though i wish i could teach more texts; the weak language skills mean i have to teach about 1/8 of what i normally do in a literature class.

i took a break to meet up with a friend for lunch in the cafeteria. there are very few students on campus now because it is add/drop week. so it was relatively empty. my friend, who is also a colleague, filled me in on what i’d missed over the last week or so. how the palestinian authority (pa) has been brutal, especially with respect to arresting palestinians protesting, arresting hamas. we were trying to figure out how to plan the next stage of the boycott campaign and connect it to gaza. apparently, in the last few weeks various women’s groups in nablus have picked up on our campaign and have been very active in spreading the word. this, of course, is good. but he also remarked that if this were the first intifada things would be totally different. we would be able to go into shops and force people to stop selling israeli terrorist products. but now that the pa is doing the bidding for the israeli terrorists we can’t. it is really sad how the young men who work for the pa police are recruited in a way that they think they are serving their people; if it were the first intifada they would be in the streets with the people, not against them.


of course being the token american around here friends who work in the cafeteria today were asking about obama. they still think that he will bring hope and change all the way to palestine. they were asking me about his middle name being “hussein.” somehow they think that because his father was a muslim that he will treat muslims better. and i asked them: does king abdullah (take your pick saudi or jordanian) or mubarak treat muslims well? of course not–especially if they are palestinian. but it is so sad that people here are looking for any little glimpse of hope. i so wish people felt untied and empowered enough to see that the white man (even if he appears to be black) will never liberate anyone. liberation always is taken by those who seek to be liberated. it is never the other way around. it is hard for people to understand that the entirety of the u.s. government is the same on most issues, but especially on palestine i wish that those who write about the reality of what obama is all about wrote in arabic language newspapers. glen ford is one of those writers who is always a voice of conscience. his article in the black agenda report this week on the singular lack of conscience among the congressional black caucus is an important article to read:

Could it be that Los Angeles Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Milwaukee’s Gwen Moore are the only Black Caucus members who remember that Israel was racist South Africa’s closest ally, the apartheid regime’s hi-tech weapons quartermaster and godfather to its nuclear bomb project? Do the seven members that voted “present” – Donna Edwards (MD), Keith Ellison (MN), Hank Johnson (GA), Carolyn Kilpatrick (MI), Barbara Lee (CA), Donald Payne (NJ), Diane Watson (CA) – believe that by refusing to take a position on Israeli crimes against humanity in Gaza, they somehow salvage the Caucus’s claim to be the “conscience of the Congress?”

Where has John Conyers’ conscience disappeared to? In July of 2006, when the House passed an equally noxious Resolution in support of Israel’s systematic destruction of Lebanon’s infrastructure, killing over 1,000 people and displacing one million, Conyers and fellow Detroiter Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick were the solitary CBC members to vote “Nay.” (Oakland’s Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters voted “present.”) Then came the Democratic victory in the midterm congressional elections and Conyers’ chance to become chairman of the Judiciary Committee – at Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s pleasure. Conyers picked a fight with Jimmy Carter over the former president’s book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Conyers objected to Carter’s use of the term “apartheid” in the book’s title, saying it “does not serve the cause of peace, and the use of it against the Jewish people in particular, who have been victims of the worst kind of discrimination, discrimination resulting in death, is offensive and wrong.” Translation: Not just Israel, but Jews are off limits to criticism.

qui qui on kabobfest, who has been on a roll lately with brilliantly sarcastic and smart pieces of late posted ford’s article and wonders:

When you’re Black and a politician, you’re probably no longer Black

ford’s article is in the context of martin luther king, jr.’s birthday this week and he noted the shameful way in which these members of congress do not honor his legacy with their voting behavior. here is an example of the sort of massacre they are supporting with those votes: the kind that is deliberate as with the man, khaled, in the al jazeera clip below in which sherene tadros interviews this man who fled his home, upon being ordered to do so by israeli terrorists, only to then have his children shot on their way out. (we’ve seen this before. this is all too common in palestine.)

the congressional black caucus, like the rest of congress, also voted for complete and utter destruction as mike hanna reports for al jazeera. here, too, we see fields that look like hamra in the photograph i took above. these are fields that used to have food: oranges. and also a cemetery. all of this was leveled in the last 24 hours as the israeli terrorists withdrew:

i use the word “withdrew,” but it is not really accurate. supposedly the israeli terrorists withdrew from gaza today. and perhaps they did technically. but as ayman mohyeldin reported on al jazeera their presence is still quite pronounced:

But Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Gaza City, said: “We can still see Israeli naval vessels still very much in territorial waters, and [they] have been heard firing through the course of the morning.”

“It’s important to remember that it is difficult for eyewitnesses to confirm [the withdrawal],” Mohyeldin said.

“There is a 600-metre buffer zone which the Israeli army uses as a no-go, meaning that anyone who owns farmland in the area and tries to access it is often fired upon to try to deter them from approaching any closer.”

said abdulwahed confirms that the withdrawal was not really a withdrawal:

It was an irony; they said the invasion was over; the Israeli tanks pulled back from their positions. I said, the invasion is not over yet. The invaders are still inside Gaza Strip. Redeployment does not mean withdrawal! Three summits followed to decide! Decide on what? I am not talking politics in this context, rather I am talking humanitarian! My major concern is the civilian casualties and human loses! Unfortunately, no one king, president, emir, or sultan, or country’s delegation dared mentioning Israel’s violation of human rights; their use of white phosphorous bombs indiscriminately against civilians and residential buildings was “not seen”!

and mustafa barghouti aptly described what this “withdrawal” really means for palestinians living in gaza:

“It is not a withdrawal” said the Doctor from his office in Ramallah, “It is simply the redeployment of soldiers. They maintain control of the land, sea and air of the Gaza Strip and are still continuing the policy of siege and starvation as a collective punishment upon the tortured civilians of Gaza.”

“Their drones are still flying over head, their tanks are still sealing our border crossings, and their warships sit off of our coast preventing vital aid from reaching the crisis and Palestinian fishermen from trying to get food of their own. Israel’s ’withdrawal’ is similar to the ploy of ’disengagement’ in 2005. They will remain the occupier and use these staged events as a means of prolonging the occupation of the Palestinian Territories.”

and while the israeli terrorists may or may not have “withdrawn,” their wrath continues to affect palestinians in gaza as the death toll continues to rise:

Gaza’s death toll rose to 1,323 on Wednesday as three wounded Palestinians succumbed to their wounds, the de facto Health Ministry said.

According to Mu’awiya Hassanein, the director of the ministry’s Ambulance and Emergency Services Department, the number of injured exceeds 5,450.

Additionally, the corpses of two elderly women were identified as 90-year-old Kamila Al-Attar and 62-year-old Halima Siyam. Their bodies were found under rubble in Gaza City late Tuesday night.

The three Palestinians who died of complications from injuries sustained in the assault were identified as Muhammad Abu Sweirih, who died at an Egyptian hospital, Imad Miqdad, who died at Khan Younis Hospital, and Muhammad Madi, who died at Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

Earlier on Tuesday, Palestinian medical sources announced that a farmer, 20-year-old Nasr Salih Nasr, was shot dead by Israeli gunfire.

Before that, two Palestinian children were killed by explosives left behind by Israeli forces in Gaza. They were identified as 10-year-old Abdullah Hassanain and his sister, 11-year-old Shurouq.

but as the israeli terrorists shift from one kind of terrorism–all out visible war that can be seen live on television–to the more quiet kind of daily siege accompanied by drones flying overhead and ships shooting from the seashore, palestinians and witnesses, who have finally been allowed inside, are beginning to get a sense of the scale of the massacre. omar sent me an email with photographs the other day from the white phosphorous that destroyed one of the unrwa schools where palestinians were seeking refuge. here are some of the photographs, the rest can be viewed at electronic intifada:

On 17 January 2009, Israeli forces bombed a school run by the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip. Around 1,600 Palestinians from the northern Gaza Strip, mostly families including young children, sought refuge at the school to escape Israeli air strikes that were targeting homes in densely populated areas. At least two children were killed in the attack and another dozen wounded by the white phosphorus bombs fired at the school.

The bombing was not an isolated incident of Israel targeting UN institutions and personnel since it launched a military siege against the Gaza Strip on 27 December 2008. At least 43 civilians were massacred on 6 January as they took shelter at the al-Fakhoura school in Jabaliya refugee camp. UN personnel have been shot and killed as they attempted to conduct relief operations in the Gaza Strip. Tons of desperately needed aid were destroyed on 15 January when Israeli forces shelled the UNRWA warehouse in Gaza City with what is suspected to be white phosphorous.

The below images were taken by UNRWA photographer Iyad El-Baba.





sameh habeeb wrote a beautiful piece on electronic intifada in which he first wonders about which ware crime he should write about; there are too many and it is overwhelming. he wrote about the story of louay whose brother was murdered and who was blinded when his father’s car was bombed:

About a week ago Louay and his family fled their house in Beit Lahiya town in northern Gaza. They were under heavy Israeli artillery fire as the Israeli army invaded the area at the outset of Israeli ground military operation. Sorrowfully, Louay started to narrate what he witnessed:

“Israeli shells started to rain down beside my house in northern Gaza. Rockets started to get closer to my house and many people were killed. My house got some shrapnel and part of rockets. Then, my grandmother and my family fled to Jabaliya where we sheltered in one of the [Untied Nations] schools. We stayed for three days where it was very very cold. When we fled our house in the night we didn’t bring any luggage or clothes or food. My father, brother and other family members decided to go back to our house in the north to bring some clothes and food. We went early in the morning by car then all of a sudden people beside our car started to run left and right. I heard explosions and I felt as if I were flying in the sky. And I found myself in the hospital.”

The Israeli bombing of Louay’s father’s car killed one of his brothers and injured others. The shocking fact is that Louay still doesn’t know is that he lost his eyesight completely. He will never be able to see the light again! His grandmother was beside him trying to make him feel better. He still doesn’t know that his brother was killed.


and because israeli terrorists seem to thrive on pouring salt into wounds those families who have been able to return to homes that are not completely destroyed, they found racist graffiti on the walls:

They left behind their own unique detritus: bullet casings, roasted peanuts in tins with Hebrew script, a plastic bag containing a “High Quality Body Warmer”, dozens of olive-green waste disposal bags, some empty, some stinking full – the troops’ portable toilets.

But most disturbing of all was the graffiti they daubed on the walls of the ground floor. Some was in Hebrew, but much was naively written in English: “Arabs need 2 die”, “Die you all”, “Make war not peace”, “1 is down, 999,999 to go”, and scrawled on an image of a gravestone the words: “Arabs 1948-2009”.

There were several sketches of the Star of David flag. “Gaza here we are,” it said in English next to one.

and of course the siege wages on in other ways in the form of kidnapping palestinians and warehousing them in israeli terrorist jails:

At least 250 Gazans were detained by Israeli troops during the Gaza invasion, said member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Issa Karake on Tuesday.

The men are being held in the Negev prison, living in tents and being constantly beaten and attacked, said Karake. Several need hospital treatment, which they are being denied and many are also being used by the Israeli intelligence units as information sources and are interrogated for hours.

The Gazans have been isolated and not permitted to interact with prisoners from the West Bank or East Jerusalem. Karake called on the Red Cross to visit the detainees and verify his story, then put pressure on Israel to release the men immediately.

The men are very worried about their families, Karake said, adding that they would like to go home and make sure their loved ones are alright.

for all of these reasons, and so many more, amnesty international has released a report detailing israeli terrorist war crimes. one of the members of the amnesty team investigating had this to say about what gaza looks like now:

In a post on Amnesty International’s Livewire blog, the team described how “previously busy neighbourhoods have been flattened into moonscapes,” and “how there is no camera lens wide enough to embrace the sheer dimensions of the devastation.

and there is now movement afoot trying to get an international war crimes tribunal to try those israeli terrorist leaders for the role in this brutal massacre.

amira hass reporting on the devastation affecting a particular family notes that whether or not a weapon is legal doesn’t make the murder acceptable, which is one problem i have with some of these movements to stop particular weapons of mass destruction while allowing others. you can see this in the campaigns already focusing on white phosphorous. while this is horrendous it is no less horrendous than the rest of the mass murder the israeli terrorists inflicted upon the palestinians of gaza, but she also makes this important point:

Soldiers do not act in a void. They have commanders and there is esprit de corps, which enabled this, just as it enabled IDF mortars to land on UNRWA schools. The IDF is the people’s army. The people, an overwhelming majority of it, drank in the argumentations for these acts eagerly and supported them. Israel is a democracy. So Kassab and Ibrahim were killed legally.

there is so much more i want to say, so many more war crimes i want people to know about, but i must sleep for a few hours before running off to school. please sign the petition above demanding a war crimes tribunal. we need change, but that change will only come from us taking that change back.


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