on hope and change (for real)

yesterday afternoon, after classes finished, i headed to the al yasmeen hotel for a talk that our boycott group was sponsoring. the talk, however, was not about boycott; it was about barack obama. naively, i had suspected that the speakers would be critical of obama. i expected the speakers to speak from a radical, or even a progressive point of view. instead i found liberal rhetoric from people who under bush might have been thought of as radicals. instead, what i found was optimism. i know that after george bush having a different president is a relief. a huge relief, to be sure. but to pretend like things will change for the better for palestinians, afghans, iraqis, pakistanis is to continue to drink the koolaid. for sure i want hope and change, too. that is why i voted for cynthia mckinney. but i am also realistic about what change is possible with any american president regardless of their race. what concerns me is their politics. and the change i want is radical. i will not throw a party because i am thrown a bone.

my choice for president, cynthia mckinney, has this to say to those who see hope and change in obama:

One of the first under-reported acts of President Obama was to sign an order continuing the drone airstrikes, resulting in at least 22 killed so far. For the dead children of Afghanistan or Pakistan or Gaza, it doesn’t matter to their parents if the bomb was dropped by Bush or Obama or the client state they support. And President Obama has made it clear that the bombs will continue to drop; it is up to us–the people of the United States–to stop them. That’s why it was on my birthday, in front of the Pentagon in 2007, that I declared my independence from every bomb dropped, every child killed, every veteran maimed in the name of U.S. wars. I said it, and I meant it, and I knew I was going to have to do something I’d never done before if I was ever going to have something I’d never had before. So I left the Democratic Party.

I don’t regret my decision one minute. I draw my strength from Dr. King, who in his own way, did the same thing when he refused to segregate his moral concerns.

My neighborhood in Los Angeles, Watts and South Central, is already a police state. Tonight, 25 to 30 young black men, standing handcuffed, outside the barber shop. Every night, routine dehumanization is carried out in black and brown neighborhoods by LAPD. I see it. I never miss it. It’s all around me.

Oscar Grant murdered in cold blood by law enforcement. Robert Tolan, murdered in cold blood by law enforcement, for driving his father’s car, mistaken for stolen.

Filiberto Ojeda Rios assassinated by the U.S. government; I met his wife and heard the entire story of what happened as he was shot by the FBI and then bled to death.

Innocent black and brown and poor white men on death row. How many Troy Davises and Mumia Abu Jamals will we allow to exist in our country?

Native Americans trying to survive despite genocide and ethnic cleansing, struggle against drug and alcohol abuse and poverty, and try to keep their culture alive.

And yet the likes of Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Nancy Pelosi, and now Barack Obama say nothing about the pain I see on the mean streets and reservations across our country, and the miscarriages of justice that are its regular feature, but they allow Bush and company to get away with the highest of crimes, involving millions of deaths.

do you see what i mean? mckinney has a vision for change, the kind of change that i hope for. the kind that involves justice. the kind that challenges the relationship between the rulers and the ruled.

but where is the change when the u.s. is asking the war criminals to investigate their war crimes in gaza?:

Israel must investigate allegations that its army violated international law during its three-week war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, the new U.S. envoy to the United Nations said on Thursday.

“We expect Israel will meet its international obligations to investigate and we also call upon all members of the international community to refrain from politicizing these important issues,” Ambassador Susan Rice said in her debut speech before the UN Security Council.

Rice said that Hamas had been guilty of violating international law “through its rocket attacks against Israeli civilians in southern Israel and the use of civilian facilities to provide protection for its terrorist attacks.”

“There have also been numerous allegations made against Israel some of which are deliberately designed to inflame,” she told the council during a meeting on international humanitarian law.

where is the change when george mitchell tells us that obama is committed to george bush’s vision for carving up the land AND denying palestinian refugees the right of return under un resolution 194?:


Mitchell told Israeli officials that the new administration was committed to Israel’s security, to the road map, and to the 2004 letter by president George W. Bush stating Palestinian refugees would not return to Israel and the border between Israel and the Palestinian Authority would take into consideration facts on the ground, meaning large settlement blocs would remain in Israeli hands.

where is the change when israeli colonists/terrorists continue to build colonies without anyone challenging them?

The report, released Wednesday by the group Peace Now, found that settlement construction in 2008 increased by almost 60 percent, including new construction both inside and outside of the security barrier and within illegal settlement outposts.

real change would mean: sanctions to stop using u.s. taxpayer money to fund their colonial terror project for one thing.

where is the change when the changes that obama himself promised are already being violated in less than a week (thanks tam tam) :

Unfortunately, we are again asking the president to explain why exactly he announced, with great fanfare, new ethics rules if he had no intention of abiding by them.

The Obama administration is yet again asking for a waiver to its very own rules about hiring lobbyists.

This time, it is the new treasury secretary, Tim Geithner. He wants a former lobbyist for Goldman Sachs to be his top aide at the Treasury Department.

for those who need to be reminded of why obama is more of the same bush policies you should read what as’ad abukhalil says about the reality of the so-called “change” coming from obama:

The inauguration speech included an insinuation towards the Islamic world, but it was met with exaggeration and reverence in Arab media. The series of wars and humiliation by the Bush administration has made Arabs easy victims of pretty talk, only comparatively.

However, Obama’s “reference” towards the Islamic world came in the context of his speech about terrorism and his pursuit of terrorists. In other words, he made no methodical shift from Bush’s administration’s perspective (or that of Zionists), which links the Muslim to the terrorist.

He offered no meaningful initiative to causes which concern the Arab and Islamic worlds, such as American wars and traditional western orientalist hostility, the United Sates’ support for tyrannical regimes in the Middle East, and Israel and its incessant wars and aggression.

Obama called on some regimes which “repress” their people, but everyone knows that those include only regimes which object to the American will. This means that Obama’s politics won’t be different from Bush’s politics with regard to democracy. Violation of Arabs and Muslims rights are allowed and praised if the oppressor is supportive of US wars. The proximity of Obama’s politics to those of Bush surface on more than one front, as he postponed his decision to shut down Guantanamo Camp, or he decided to shut it down within a year, after he had spoken about immediate closure. Torture may remain secretive, as the appointed Attorney General indicated.

The issue of withdrawal from Iraq has also changed. Today he speaks very vaguely about a “responsible withdrawal” from Iraq, after he used to promise complete withdrawal within a six-month period at the beginning of his electoral campaign.

As for Afghanistan, he promised to escalate the war there and increase the number of occupying troops. This means that Obama considers a policy of “surge” in Afghanistan in return for Bush’s “surge” in Iraq.

Hence, the difference between the two men, Bush and Obama, is only with regard to the location of downpour of bombs and rockets, not about ceasing them altogether. Obama surpassed Bush by calling for violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty under the rubric of “pursuit” of terrorists. And a number of Pakistani citizens were in fact killed on the first days of Obama’s administration. This was termed “inauguration bombardment.”

here is one of the first signs of more of the same in afghanistan, bombs dropped on afghan civilians and we know from obama that he promises more where this came from:

cindy sheehan gets it, too, in her critique of obama as the new emperor of the united states:

There are already indications of The Empire® beginning to fray around the edges. The latest being the US/Israeli assault on Gaza, that although very destructive, was not able to fully suppress Hamas and achieve its aims. In Iraq, the MIC has not been victorious in subduing that population and there are indications that what might rise out of the ashes will be a more religious and anti-American regime: (once the Iraqi people vanquish the US pro-consul, Maliki) no matter how many bases or how large the embassy we leave in Iraq.

Many people looked at Obama as a “peace candidate” where he is no such thing. In the first week of office, he demonstrated that the Bush regime’s illegal CIA drone bombings in the tribal regions of Pakistan would continue. Recently the US military took $40,000.00 to a village where 15 civilians were killed (less than three grand per person) with the imperialistic hubris that a few thousand lousy American dollars will pay for the life of a loved one. The Pakistani government is getting quite a bit of pressure from the civil society there about the illegal US strikes against its sovereign territories, but like all empires, the US could not care less about the people its killing, or protests against its policies.

as’ad also gets it when he critiques obama’s appearance on al arabiya this week (note: bushama is as’ad’s new name for obama):

Thirdly, there is nothing that Bushama said that was not said by Bush. The CNN guest, Aslan something who always impresses me with his lack of knowledge on the Middle East when he speaks on the Middle East, kept saying in awe that the president spoke respectfully about respect in his address to Muslims and Arabs. But so did Bush, and Bush went to a mosque in Washington, DC–in order to prepare for the bombs and missiles to fall on Muslim and Arab heads. Fourthly, Obama in talking about the Middle East–the Palestine question and beyond–suffers from an acute case of “economism” or economic reductionism. He has the tendency to reduce all Arab and Muslim issues to job and medical care. It is NOT only the economy–stupid. It is also about pride and dignity and Palestine AND about freedom from the severe oppression that people suffer under governments that are coddled and armed by the very same US of A. So the words fall hollow here. Fifthly, Obama as a representative of the White Man (and he can also be referred to as the White Man, analytically speaking just as Margaret Thatcher was a representative of the White Man) did not deviate from the deep racism that characterizes US foreign policy to the Arab-Israeli conflict. I mean when he refers to Israel’s security as “paramount” he is basically saying (like previous US president) that the security of the Palestinians is inferior because they are seen as inferior people. There is no question about that. It means that and the racism is reflected clearly in the disregard of Israeli WMDs. It never comes up in any interview with US officials on Al-Arabiyya (it is featured regularly in Al Jazeera as yesterday’s interview with Brent Scowcroft showed). Karl Marx wrote somewhere about the danger of covering up the chain with flowers. Obama is no different than Bush but American bombs and missiles under his administration will be decorated and covered with flowers. If that is a reason to celebrate, please open the champagne bottles NOW.

one thing as’ad left out of his commentary was obama’s big blunder of an historical statement about the nature of the united states:

He added that “we sometimes make mistakes,” but said that America was not born as a colonial power and that he hoped for a restoration of “the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago.”

um…try telling that to leonard peltier! (see lower down in this post for a petition to sign regarding peltier).

there are others who can see through the obama rhetoric directed at the arab world such as m. junaid levesque-alam who wrote “a muslim’s memo to obama”:

Obama’s decision to emphasize the absurd instead of the obvious was very revealing. It was a message that Muslim life is expendable. It was a message that Muslims can be killed en masse. And it was a message the Muslim world heard loudly.

If one hundred Palestinian corpses are placed next to one Israeli corpse, the “new” White House informed Muslims through Obama’s messaging, its scales of sympathy will still not tip in their favor. They will be addressed tersely only to demand that they recognize their oppressor’s right to exist.

This is akin to yelling into the ear of a rape victim during an assault that she must recognize the rights of her rapist. It is an insult with few parallels–but many echoes.

another sign of the lack of hope and change emanating from the failure of so-called leftists–also pointed out by as’ad:

If the standards that some leftists now want to impose on the Palestinian resistance were imposed on French resistance to Nazi occupation, there would have been no resistance whatsoever in France and all the fighters of the resistance would have joined Jean Cocteau in the cafes of Paris and would have chanted with him: “Love live this shameful peace.”

and as’ad has an important historical reminder about the cold, calculated, forgetful memory about the rationale israeli terrorists used to start the june 1967 war (which of course should be read ironically given their “reason” for assaulting gaza):

“What Israeli PM Abba Eban said about blockades during the 1967 war: “To blockade, after all, is to attempt strangulation–and sovereign states are entitled not to have their State strangled. The blockade is by definition an act of war, imposed and enforced through violence. Never in history have a blockade and peace existed side by side.” From “The Israel/Arab Reader” Second ed. Ed. Walter Laqueur (1971ed.) pp. 219.

the above quote, of course, should not be forgotten, especially the part i bolded, given that the siege on gaza continues through israeli terrorists’ continued blockade by air, land, and sea. the sort of damage that the wreaked not only on human beings, but also on their livelihood. just look at al jazeera’s report on the israeli terrorist damage done to palestinian farmers in gaza:

or watch al jazeera’s report on the psychological damage the israeli terrorist aggression on gaza has created:

when i asked rami yesterday for some grounding away from the insanity of people putting their hope in obama he reminded me of many things, most importantly:

We also know that we-i mean our class- are irrelevant, and that the real struggle is between the rulers and the ruled

yes. this is it. this is where the revolution is. it is about the farmers. it is about the workers. it is about changing the system not the ruler. reggie sent me this article from the american communist party, which poses this challenge to us who are interested in real change:

Left to itself, tomorrow’s disappointment of today’s raised expectations will not automatically show people a way out of this madness. Disillusionment with Obama, when and if that comes, can lead to cynical passivity or to people giving up their original better ideals as being “naïve” and “foolish”…and becoming active supporters of the very crimes they once opposed.

But that too is where the revolutionaries come into the picture. As big questions are being discussed on street corners, classrooms, and offices, there are openings for answers that speak to the reality of the situation. Even as we are continuing to unite with people and lead forward resistance, we have to be actively and eagerly jumping into struggle with all of those caught up in this Obama-mania over the real nature of this system and what it will REALLY take to change it. We have to show them, in a living way, what it means to say that this is a SYSTEM. And we have to engage them, again in a living way, with what is meant by REVOLUTION—real revolution—and what their role in all that is and must be.

In a strategic sense, it is good that we are presented with this challenge. How could anyone imagine a revolution in the U.S.A. that did not have to go up against a lot of deeply embedded myths, values, and accepted lies? Let’s take this on and take this up with a materialist understanding of what this system must do to people and how utterly unnecessary is the suffering it imposes on people. Let’s jump into the fray—both the struggle to fight the power, and the struggle to transform the people, FOR revolution—with creativity and confidence borne of our dialectical understanding that the world is constantly changing, and that people’s conscious actions have a profound effect on that. And let’s get in there with the verve that comes from our grasp of the kind of society we are trying to bring into being, and the potential attractive power of that vision.

And there is an opening to do that now. In the current mix, and all the way through the process people go through confronting the reality of what Obama represents, we can and must reach out boldly and broadly to build a revolutionary movement that can bring about the real change the world needs.

To restate the crucial question we opened with: What will all these people do as it becomes more and more clear that Obama is dashing their hopes and shattering their illusions that he will act to bring about change that so many people long for—change that will really be in the interests of the great majority of people, here and around the world?

The answer to that—the potentially world-changing, world-historic answer—depends on you.

no i don’t want hope and change from obama. i see no reason to be hopeful. and i am not interested in the sort of minimalist change he is offering. i want the sort of change evo morales brings to bolivia:

He shook his fist in the air, the applause died down. “And I want you to know something, the colonial state ends here. Internal colonialism and external colonialism ends here. Sisters and brothers, neoliberalism ends here too.”

i want the kind of change that releases leonard peltier from prison immediately (and on that note please sign the petition linked below):

Please Let President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Penitentiary-Canaan Warden Ronnie R. Holt, Federal Bureau of Prisons Northeast Regional Director D. Scott Dodrill, U.S. Prisons Director Harley G. Lappin, the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Leaders, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the American Civil Liberties Union and members of the national media know you HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE SAFETY AND WELLBEING OF LEONARD PELTIER!

i want the kind of change that prosecutes israeli war criminals and feeds them the justice they deserve (not just for gaza but for 61+ years of war crimes):

Public asked for information on travel plans and whereabouts of top Israeli leaders

By Redress Information & Analysis

26 January 2009

An international human rights organization has submitted evidence to the International Criminal Court for the arrest of top Israeli leaders for war crimes in Gaza and has called for information about the travel plans and whereabouts outside Israel of the suspects.

A human rights organization has called for the arrest of a number of senior Israeli leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The International Coalition against Impunity (HOKOK), a non-governmental organization registered with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, has submitted a “Letter of Notification and Referral” to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court outlining the case for the arrest of 15 Israeli political and military leaders for crimes committed in Gaza in violation of the Rome Statute and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

It has also issued an international appeal for information about the undermentioned war crimes suspects. Members of the public in Israel and throughout the world who have information about the travel plans or whereabouts of the undermentioned suspects when they are outside Israel should report this immediately to:

The Prosecutor

P.O. Box 19519

2500 Hague

Netherlands

Fax +31 70 515 8 555

otp.informationdesk [at] icc-cpi.int

The Israeli war crimes suspects are:

1. Ehud Barak
2. Amir Peretz
3. Binyamin Ben Eliezer
4. Avi Dichter
5. Carmi Gillon
6. Dan Halutz
7. Doron Almog
8. Ehud Olmert
9. Eliezer Shkedy
10. Gabi Ashkenazi
11. Giora Eiland
12. Matan Vilnai
13. Moshie Bogie Yaalon
14. Shaul Mofaz
15. Tzipi Livni

here is a report form al jazeera’s zeina awad on the war crimes investigations in gaza:

and this war crimes case as well:

National Infrastructure Minister and former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and former IAF and IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz may face criminal charges in Spain for killing Palestinian civilians seven years ago.

A Spanish court granted a petition by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights on Thursday, asking the two be investigated for alleged “crimes against humanity” for their involvement in the 2002 assassination of Hamas operative Salah Shehade. Fourteen civilians were killed in the incident and about 100 more were injured.

i want the kind of change that shows israeli terrorism in all its true colors, so people understand that their racism is widespread and that all are complicit in the thinking and actions among the civilian AND military (which overlap completely since military service is compulsory):

“Fire on anything that moves in Zeitoun” – that was the order handed down to Israeli troops in the Givati Shaked battalion, who reduced the eastern Gaza City suburb to little more than rubble in a matter of days.

According to Israeli soldiers who took part in the three-week offensive, the destruction of the area, a known Hamas stronghold, was designed to send a wider message to Gazans. “We pounded Zeitoun into the ground,” an Israeli soldier who was deployed in the area, told The Times.

“We knew everything was booby-trapped, we knew that they would try to kidnap us and if they did that was the end, we were finished . . . so we took no chances. We pounded them with fire; they never had a chance.”

i want the kind of change that does not include palestinian resistance making concessions to the zionist colonists who stole their land by recognizing the zionist entity or by making any concession that does not include the complete and total liberation of palestine:

“We accept a state in the ’67 borders,” said [Ghazi] Hamad. “We are not talking about the destruction of Israel.”

One hardline Hamas politician, Yehiel El Abadsa, said his group should not reconcile with Fatah and that Hamas “will be the ones to rebuild Gaza.

the kind of change i hope for is one that shows iraqis, pakistanis, and afghans as resisting and kicking out all u.s. installations, not just the abomination that is blackwater:

Blackwater, a US private security firm, has been barred from providing security for US diplomats in Iraq for its alleged involvement in the deaths of at least 17 civilians in 2007.

The Iraqi interior ministry on Thursday said the measure followed the firm’s “improper conduct and excessive use of force”.

Five former Blackwater guards are awaiting trial in the US for the incident that took place in September 2007.

one thing that we can all do, that we can all practice, live by is boycott. it works. and it is working more very single day. just look at the beautiful damage jordanian farmers are causing israeli terrorist farmers who farm stolen palestinian land:

Fruit growers in Israel have reported delays and reductions in orders from abroad since the military operation in Gaza was launched, due to various boycotts against Israeli produce.

Farmers say much of their produce is being held in warehouses due to canceled orders, and fear a sharp decrease in fruit exports to countries such as Jordan, Britain, and the Scandinavian countries.

“We export persimmons, and because of the fighting a number of countries and distributors are canceling orders,” Giora Almagor, of the southern town of Bitzaron, told Ynet. He said some of the produce had already been shipped while some was awaiting shipment in warehouses.

Almagor said a large number of cancellations came from Jordan. “The produce stays packed in warehouses, and this is causing us massive losses,” he said.

and while we may not be able to attribute the pro-palestinian boycott of starbucks to the company’s financial problems (because indeed there are hundreds of other reasons to boycott starbucks), it is a welcome sign to see them hit by the economic downturn as well:

Thousands of baristas are to lose their jobs as Starbucks shuts stores to cope with dwindling sales of lattes, cappuccinos and frappuccinos as cash-strapped consumers lose their thirst for coffee.

The Seattle-based chain tonight revealed a 70% slump in quarterly profits to $64.3m and announced that it intends to shed 6,700 employees this year. It is closing 300 stores, two thirds of which will be in the US, on top of 660 shutdowns last year.

As the global economy turns sour, appetite for Starbucks’ premium-priced drinks appears to be waning. Like-for-like sales fell by 10% at American stores and dropped by 3% elsewhere in the world – including a decline in the UK during the three months to December.

Starbucks’ chief executive, Howard Schultz, is joining in the belt-tightening by asking the company’s board to cut his basic salary from $1.2m to $10,000. Schultz, 55, dropped off Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires last year as the value of his stake in Starbucks plunged.

and the u.s. academic and cultural boycott of israel is gaining exposure, even in the israeli terrorist press:

While Israeli academics have grown used to such news from Great Britain, where anti-Israel groups several times attempted to establish academic boycotts, the formation of the United States movement marks the first time that a national academic boycott movement has come out of America. Israeli professors are not sure yet how big of an impact the one-week-old movement will have, but started discussing the significance of and possible counteractions against the campaign.

and now there is an australian boycott of israeli academic and cultural institutions as well:

Australian Academic Boycott of Israel Responding to the CALL of Palestinian civil society to join the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, we are an Australian campaign focused specifically on a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions, as delineated by PACBI (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel).

this is especially important as we recall what israeli terrorists did to the islamic university of gaza, which recently came out with a statement asking us to work in solidarity to support them as they work to rebuild their university:

We firmly believe that the illegal Israeli occupation have deliberately and continuously targeted the Palestinian academic institutions, including IUG, in an attempt to keep the Palestinians ignorant and insecure so the oppressive Israeli occupation could last longer.

By destroying the university buildings, IUG is facing major disarray and delay in completing the second semester, entailing the inability of hundreds of students to graduate. Such bombardment is a flagrant violation of international law including the Fourth Geneva Convention. This violation shows a total disregard for Palestinian rights to education and for the legitimacy of the international community and international law, declarations and resolutions.
We therefore call upon all academics, students, concerned bodies and the international community to show their support and solidarity to the right of the Palestinians to education:

1. Boycotting Israeli academic institutions and refraining from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation.

2. Lobbying (emails, letter, fax, etc) your MP and government to pressure the government of Israel to adhere to its legal obligations to end occupation and stop attacking Palestinian educational institutions.

3. Preparing and signing petitions calling on trade unions, education institutions, organizations, social and political movements and concerned individuals around the world to support the right to education in Palestine.

4. Organizing exchange visit to and from IUG to students and faculty members to come on a speaking tour to universities and organizations in your country.

5. Sponsoring students at IUG to enable them to continue their education.

6. Initiating active academic relations with IUG through departmental links; student and faculty exchange; joint research projects; and inclusion at international academic conferences.

7. Making a donation to reconstruct the IUG buildings and facilities.

8. Establishing connections with Palestinian universities, students and faculty, through solidarity links or academic exchange.

9. Support the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call for “a full investigation and to make those responsible people accountable.”

the academic boycott is also crucial given the ways which israeli terrorist universities not only

And that brings us to [Shlomo] Zand’s second assertion. He argues that the story of the Jewish nation — the transformation of the Jewish people from a group with a shared cultural identity and religious faith into a vanquished “people” — was a relatively recent invention, hatched in the 19th century by Zionist scholars and advanced by the Israeli academic establishment. It was, argues Zand, an intellectual conspiracy of sorts. [Tom] Segev says, “It’s all fiction and myth that served as an excuse for the establishment of the State of Israel.”

thus, a renewed call came out from palestinian civil society seeking further support for the boycott:

However, Israel’s hidden goals were to deepen the rift already existing between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank, in order to further divide Palestinian people both politically and geographically.

We call for immediate action to be taken to achieve the following:

* An immediate end to the internal conflict, a revival of national unity as to avoid polarization on a regional and international level, which does not serve common Palestinian goals, and formation of a National Unity Government to lead the Palestinian people through these critical times.

* Immediate commencement of reconstruction work in Gaza with a priority of finding homes for those without. The reconstruction of Gaza should be handled by Palestinians as their knowledge of the affected areas is second to none. Although Israel should take full responsibility for rebuilding all destroyed civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, if reconstruction is to be bankrolled by the international community, reconstruction funds should be handled exclusively by a Palestinian team, which should be selected on the basis of transparency, accountability and professionalism, and should consist of members from civil society, the private sector and the government. This team should utilize their collective experience on a local, regional and international level and apply it as specified by the needs of the team.

* Cooperation with civil and popular initiatives in order to allow them the possibility to assist the victims of this war. In addition, the role and independence of civil society should also be respected.

* We, Palestinian non-governmental organizations declare our complete rejection of any aid coming from USAID due to the United States’ constant military and financial support to Israel, or from any other parties whose support to Israel facilitated Israel’s military aggression in the Gaza Strip.

* An end of the siege on Gaza and opening of the borders and crossings. In addition, a safe and free passage that links the West Bank to Gaza should be created, while avoiding anything that deepens the already existing division between the West Bank and Gaza.

* Preservation of the freedom of expression and right to criticize the performance of any authorities involved in the war, and let them be answerable for their respective roles. We call for the release of all political prisoners and the immediate cessation of arrests, while allowing media impartiality and freedom from external influence.

* Conducting a comprehensive revision of Palestinian negotiating policy to ensure an immediate cessation of the construction of Israeli settlements, the end of the siege on Gaza, the end of Israel’s policy to isolate Jerusalem and to end all Israeli aggression. This policy should be linked with existing UN treaties, resolutions and standards of international law and should help develop Palestinian political discourse and its mechanisms. The reference of negotiation should be based on the Palestinian Political Prisoners Initiative with an emphasis on the right to resist.

* The intervention of the international community in providing protection for the people of Gaza and the West Bank, ending the occupation of Palestinian territory by Israel and guaranteeing Palestinians’ right to self-determination, through application of international conventions and resolutions. It is not acceptable to place the Palestinians on the same level as the Israelis; it is now clearer than ever who the oppressor is and who is being oppressed.

* Bringing the Israeli authorities before a war tribunal to hold them to account for the damage and destruction they have caused in Gaza, and to ensure the appropriate reparations are made. We propose to form a national committee to work on this front.

* Upholding the current global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign to boycott Israeli goods, support of divestment initiatives and encourage sanctions against Israel, to re-enforce its aims in light of Israel’s recent war crimes in Gaza.

and one more thing about boycotts. i realize that it is difficult to call for anti-normalization with israeli people as well as institutions, but in practice i think this is necessary. this is, unfortunately, one of the problems with organizing, especially with americans who worry more about freedom of speech than palestinian people’s lives. also, it is important to remember that palestinians have a right to resist colonialism with armed resistance. while i support these boycott measures they cannot be adequately used to dismantle israeli terrorism, colonialism, and apartheid alone. just as south africa was not liberated through boycott, divestment and sanctions alone–it took a long armed resistance struggle as well–so too will be the case with palestine. both are needed. and both need to be supported.

and one final note: i highlighted the usaid boycott above in this most recent call from palestinian civil society. this is essential. there are so many ways in which usaid is a huge part of the problem. i was just invited to participate in a palestinian faculty development program from amideast, but declined because of its usaid funding. this usaid funding, for instance, makes it such that faculty from the islamic university of gaza are ineligible to participate regardless of which–if any–political party they belong to. rami has an amazing analysis of usaid that i think everyone should read. this is when i first met him–when he first gave this talk in beirut–and what instantly made me want to get to know him. i’ve been grateful ever since as he is one of the most committed revolutionary thinkers i know and one of the most devoted friends i have:

Development aid is the profession of donor organizations. They see development as a set of rational managerial prescriptions. For many beneficiaries in Lebanon, development is a direct transference of Western values, synonymous with “modernization”. Many recipients are trained to think this way: this is part of the package deal. The World Bank, the USAID, the EU and even the UNDP have been known to impose expertise and authority. They have also been accused of silencing alternative voices, promoting a dependent path to development, and keeping their eyes closed to the power imbalance they create. The job needs to be done, and often, these power imbalances are part of the job, and not just an externality.

Donors operate according to a semi-declared agenda related chiefly to politics (USAID) or politics and trade (EU). They impose strict conditions on the employment of consultants (international becomes a euphemism for “from donor country”). They recycle the funds in purchases and employment, and use aid to dump excess food production and distort local markets, with total disregard to citizen’s preference and health.

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