i had a “battle of algiers” moment tonight

nablus solidarity tent with gaza
nablus solidarity tent with gaza

a couple days after i left nablus for break friends of mine decided to put up a solidarity tent in martyr’s square in solidarity with gaza. they’ve been hosting activities in the tent and maintaining a presence there. when i finally went downtown today i saw it, though the winds last night seemed to have broken it down a bit. i found out today that when they first asked permission to put it up they were denied permission. because it was not a fatah tent. but then some internationals went and requested permission to put it up. and so it went up. you see, the white man runs palestinian authority politics.

i left nablus this morning to head to al quds. i have friends who are in town i wanted to visit. the ever-fabulous nora whose reports on gaza–and everything else that matter–are unparalleled in the u.s. media. i walked to the place where we were meeting for lunch and i passed a new market on nablus road. it is called “guevara” and i found it disturbing that the first thing you see when you look in the window are israeli snacks. this is why i have such problems with the use of icons and symbols. would che guevara really eat israeli potato chips? i think not.

guevara market in al quds
guevara market in al quds
israeli terrorists on their way to pray
israeli terrorists on their way to pray

after lunch i ran some errands and as i was walking up the street near the yaffa gate of the old city i saw an israeli terrorist couple. the man was wearing a suit and the woman was wearing a dress. over the man’s back was an ak-47. the picture above is of them, and it is hard to see it as i was too far away by the time i pulled my camera out, but you can make out the gun if you look closely. this is how sick their society is. this is one of many reasons why i say there is no such thing as an israeli civilian. only israeli terrorist settler colonists.

i was on my way to meet a scholar from birzeit university to discuss some research materials i’m looking for. i had asked to meet him because i was most impressed with a paper he gave at the muwatin conference in ramallah a couple of months ago. he asked me to meet him at a hotel in sheikh jarrah, though he wanted to go somewhere else so he could get something to eat. as we started driving i realized we were moving into west jerusalem and i asked him where we were going. i explained that i boycott and that i don’t go to west jerusalem. he said that there were no real palestinian restaurants in al quds. i named a few. he said those were for foreigners (aka ngo workers) and elitist palestinians (though i have a dear friend who is a driver for unrwa and he hangs out and these places…). i did not really feel like i had much of a choice so i went with him. i don’t know exactly where we were, but i was extremely uncomfortable. i had a “battle of algiers” moment wishing i could blow up this restaurant of israelis dining, having fun, while palestinians in gaza are homeless, are hungry, are suffering as a result of this colonial settler population. i found myself wishing i was one of those women in the film with explosives in her purse passing as french (i’ve posted clips of this before here, but the entire film is on youtube if you have not seen this amazing film). his argument for going to this place was that palestinian restaurants are for elitists, but that anyone can go out to eat in one of these israeli terrorist restaurants for 50 shekels. that is not entirely true. there are a number of restaurants, like the amazing abu shukri in the old city, which have amazing food and one can dine there for that much or even less.

this professor supports boycott, but from outside not inside. because like palestinians who live in 1948, boycott is difficult in al quds. you don’t have the same choices you have in nablus. but still, when you have a choice you should make that choice. i went with him, though i didn’t order anything. but to say that it was very difficult to sit there and have a normal conversation amidst this population who has the blood of palestinians in gaza on its hands in one way or another is an understatement. for him, apparently, this was normal. so normal that he also has taught at an israeli terrorist university as well. it was difficult to see how all of this jived with his scholarly work which sounded so different to me. but this is because i assumed that one who is committed to things like the right of return for palestinian refugees would necessarily also be someone who boycotted. this was my mistake, of course.

one of his issues with going to palestinian restaurants is that they are filled with foreign ngo workers, and they are especially right now. he dropped me off at akadunia so i could meet another friend who is visiting from iraq. she is an ngo worker and the place was indeed packed with ngo workers as well as palestinians. though strangely they have two foreigners working there now. i’ve never seen that before. i asked one of the waiters where the palestinian waiters went and this waiter said that they hired foreign staff to help with the language issues. al quds is especially packed with foreign ngo workers right now because of the crisis in gaza. many of them are here because they are still being denied entry. in fact, my friend’s ngo organized a demonstration at erez crossing today, with other ngos, to protest the fact that they are not allowed in. because the israeli terrorist regime didn’t want the bad publicity, they let them all in. but because they were there only to protest they not only had none of the relief supplies they want to take in, they also didn’t have any overnight bags. but they went in.

there are issues with ngos as the professor i met with articulated tonight, much of which i agree with. much of which my ngo worker friend agrees with, too. there is a way in which they let the israeli terrorist regime off the hook from their responsibilities as an occupying power under the geneva convention. there is also a way in which they create a dependency on foreign aid. and many of these ngos function as aid agencies not solidarity agencies. so many people keep circulating emails and posting on websites where to give money to help people in gaza and i always name only one ngo: the middle east children’s alliance (meca). this is an organization that is dedicated to real solidarity with palestinians. i can attest to this because i know the people who work there and i see the work they do. they are amazing and barbara lubin, meca’s founder, is my hero. you can follow their work on meca’s blog. one of the things meca did was get in a new ambulance into gaza because some were destroyed, and one was stolen by israeli terrorists who came into gaza disguised as paramedics (you can hear about this on nora’s program flashpoints). here is what barbara has to say about their first assessment of the situation in gaza and you can click on the link to see her photographs:

There are so many stories to tell from our first day in Gaza. So much pain and destruction. But there is one story in particular that I think the world needs to hear. I met a mother who was at home with her ten children when Israeli soldiers entered the house. The soldiers told her she had to choose five of her children to ‘give as a gift to Israel.’ As she screamed in horror they repeated the demand and told her she could choose or they would choose for her. Then these soldiers murdered five of her children in front of her. Today I learned that the concept of ‘Jewish morality’ is truly dead. We can be fascists, terrorists, and Nazis just like everybody else. And the international community must demand that this never be allowed to happen again.

barbara’s conclusions mirror those of richard falk on gaza:

There is evidence that Israel committed war crimes during its 22-day campaign in the Gaza Strip and there should be an independent inquiry, UN investigator Richard Falk said Thursday.

The mental anguish of the civilians who suffered the assault is so great that the entire population of Gaza could be seen as casualties, said Falk, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Falk, speaking by phone from his home in California, said compelling evidence that Israel’s actions in Gaza violated international humanitarian law required an independent investigation into whether they amounted to war crimes.

“I believe that there is the prima facie case for reaching that conclusion,” he told a Geneva news conference.

Falk said Israel had made no effort to allow civilians to escape the fighting.

“To lock people into a war zone is something that evokes the worst kind of international memories of the Warsaw Ghetto, and sieges that occur unintentionally during a period of wartime,” Falk, who is Jewish, said, referring to the starvation and murder of Warsaw’s Jews by Nazi Germany in World War Two.

one of the other nazi like behaviors one can see in the aftermath of the war on gaza are the ways in which israeli terrorists test out its weapons on palestinians as if they were guinea pigs:

Eighteen-year-old Mona Al-Ashkar says she did not immediately know the first explosion at the United Nations (UN) school in Beit Lahiya had blown her left leg off. There was smoke, then chaos, then the pain and disbelief set in once she realised it was gone – completely severed by the weapon that hit her.

Mona is one of the many patients among the 5,500 injured that have international and Palestinian doctors baffled by the type of weaponry used in the Israeli operation. High-profile human rights organisations like Amnesty International are accusing Israel of war crimes.

Mona’s doctors at Gaza City’s Al-Shifa hospital found no shrapnel in her leg, and it looked as though it had been “sliced right off with a knife.”

“We are not sure exactly what type of weapon can manage to do that immediately and so cleanly,” said Dr. Sobhi Skaik, consultant surgeon general at Al-Shifa hospital. “What is happening is frightening. It’s possible the Israeli army was using Gaza to experiment militarily.”

….Mona’s injury is characteristic of Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME). DIMEs are munitions that, packed with tungsten powder, produce an intense explosion at about the level of the knee, with signs of severe heat at the point of amputation.

“If you ask a patient how it happened, how their leg was removed, they won’t know,” Dr. Skaik said. “They’ll say that a rocket or missile exploded and took only their lower limbs off.”

Once in the body, tungsten is both difficult to detect and extremely carcinogenic, and can produce an aggressive form of cancer, according to both military experts.

Dr. Skaik says the Al-Shifa hospital alone has seen between 100 to 150 patients with this type of injury. Over 50 patients at Al-Shifa had two or more limbs severed, he says.

But because Gaza’s hospitals are so poorly equipped, it has been nearly impossible so far to test properly for the substances and count accurately how many wounded Palestinians may have been hit with this weapon.

The Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert who worked at Al-Shifa hospital during the siege confirmed to journalists that the injuries were aligned with those produced by DIME explosives.

Human rights groups say Israel used the weapon for the first time in Lebanon in 2006.

these are some of the reasons israeli terrorists are scrambling to put together a legal defense team in light of calls for a war crimes tribunal.

this is why people in england have a petition to impose an arms embargo on the israeli terrorist regime. click here to sign that petition if you are a british national.

this is why in england, unlike in the united states, students are organized, taking over or “occupying” university buildings as i reported yesterday–but it is spreading like wildfire and now 16 universities are staging such sit-ins:

Over the last week, a storm of student protests has gathered over 16 universities across England, suggesting that students are awakening from the political apathy of which they are often accused. It’s enough to bring a tear to the eye of ageing sixties radicals.

Starting at the School of Oriental and African Studies, occupations in protest at events in Gaza spread to King’s College London and the London School of Economics (LSE), then out of the capital to Sussex, Warwick, Newcastle, Oxford, Essex, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan, Bristol, Nottingham, Salford, and Kingston.

all of this organizing energy is important as the war continues on palestinians in general, not only in gaza. i’m still in al quds, but i learned from a blogger on twitter that in nablus tonight:

Dr. Abdelsattar Qasem’s car sat in fire tonight in Nablus. He is one of the most critical writers of the PA.

the story is on ma’an arabic, but not in english:


مراسلنا: مجهولون يحرقون سيارة الدكتور عبد الستار قاسم في نابلس

and as is par for the course in nablus, israeli terrorists invaded the other night and kidnapped more palestinians:

Palestinian sources reported that Israeli troops invaded the West Bank city of Nablus on Thursday and kidnapped three civilians.

Local sources said that the Israeli forces attacked and searched homes in Nablus city and the nearby Balata refugee camp. Troops then kidnapped three men and took them to unknown location.

Witnesses identified the three civilians as Yasser Mana’, age 20, Tarik Al Ka’bi and Mohamed Abu Ziton.

and this week a number of children were kidnapped by israeli terrorists as well:

Seven children from Toura al-Gharbeiah village (near the West Bank city of Jenin) were arrested on Tuesday by the Israeli authorities; they are currently detained in Salim detention and interrogation center, in the northern West Bank. Two of the children are only 12 years old; two are 13; another two are aged 15; and the seventh is 17.

and perhaps because the palestinian authority was busy, israeli terrorists cracked down on a hamas protest in khalil today in solidarity with gaza:

Six Palestinians were arrested and dozens choked on tear gas when Israeli forces cracked down on a massive Hamas-led demonstration in Hebron in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

Some 2,500 protesters turned out for the demonstration, which began after Friday prayers, leaving the Wasayah mosque in the Abu Sneineh neighborhood.

these are the sorts of incidents that the international media ignores. they don’t see the slow deaths, the kidnappings, these daily routines of the israeli terrorist regime. it’s what makes people feel like they are in a pressure cooker and why they resist. but when you only see resistance on television without the context of this 61 year policy of ethnic cleansing and imprisonment you don’t understand why people resist. as is their right.

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