The Fascist State of California

In my last blog post I focused on aspects of being in Los Angeles that particularly irked me. Little did I know, it gets worse. Two items of note:

1. The mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa addressed the Democratic National Convention this week in which he proceeded to establish the capital of an illegal colonial occupation in Palestine (i.e., that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel) as a part of the Democratic party’s platform:

Anyone who knows Villaraigosa’s politics should not be surprised by his actions. Los Angelenos likely remember his efforts to collaborate with Israel on a variety of issues:

In just a few days, we signed agreements to strengthen security at our airport and enhance our counterterrorism capabilities. We initiated partnerships to protect our ports and reduce our carbon footprint. We took a series of steps to revitalize the L.A. River, expand the city’s water conservation and recycling initiatives and invest in the technologies of tomorrow. From homeland security and public safety to environmental innovation and green development, Los Angeles is set to receive the best Israel has to offer in the fields where the Jewish state leads the world — and Los Angeles will be better off as a result.

But it gets worse. The state of California passed a resolution a couple of weeks ago that indicates its real fascist tendencies:

The resolution, which was passed without debate and without input from community groups, “recognizes recent actions by officials of public postsecondary educational institutions in California and calls upon those institutions to increase their efforts to swiftly and unequivocally condemn acts of anti-Semitism on their campuses and to utilize existing resources, such as the European Union  Agency for Fundamental Rights’ working definition of anti-Semitism, to help guide campus discussion about, and promote, as appropriate, educational programs for combating anti-Semitism on their campuses.”

HR 35 is a non-binding resolution and has no policy mandate. But a careful reading of the vocabulary and wording has direct similarities to accusations made by Zionist groups and students against Palestine solidarity activism and Muslim student groups on UC campuses in California. The resolution calls for public institutions, for example, to condemn “student- and faculty-sponsored boycott, divestment, and sanction campaigns against Israel that are a means of demonizing Israel and seek to harm the Jewish state.”

While the resolution is non-binding, it indicates the tenor of the state’s politics and does not bode well in light of freedoms on college campuses, as witnessed by the Irvine 11 and others.

on media manipulation and the coup in honduras

i’m still catching up on work and news while i was away at summer camp. one of the important developments was the military coup in hondoruas. john pilger was on democracy now! with amy goodman while i was away discussing this coup as well as the way the u.s. responded to honduras in comparison to demonstrations in iran. this four-part interview also covers palestine, obama, and media manipulation by the u.s. and its partner-in-crime, the zionist entity:

one of the first things that comes to mind when looking at the coup in honduras is the vastly different reaction of the u.s. to honduras and iran, which pilger discusses in the above interview. eva gollinger gave a good overview of the coup in honduras and its context in the socialist worker:

THE TEXT message that beeped on my cell phone this morning read “Alert, Zelaya has been kidnapped, coup d’etat underway in Honduras, spread the word.”

It’s a rude awakening for a Sunday morning, especially for the millions of Hondurans who were preparing to exercise their sacred right to vote today for the first time on a consultative referendum concerning the future convening of a constitutional assembly to reform the constitution.

Supposedly at the center of the controversy is today’s scheduled referendum, which is not a binding vote, but merely an opinion poll to determine whether or not a majority of Hondurans desire to eventually enter into a process to modify their constitution.

Such an initiative has never taken place in the Central American nation, which has a very limited constitution that allows minimal participation by the people of Honduras in their political processes. The current constitution, written in 1982 during the height of the Reagan administration’s dirty war in Central America, was designed to ensure those in power, both economic and political, would retain it with little interference from the people.

What you can do

Activist organizations are calling on supporters of democracy to call the State Department and White House and demand: a cut-off of all military aid to Honduras until President Zelaya and Foreign Minister Rodas are safely returned to office; support for international movements to bring the coup plotters to justice; and replace the U.S. ambassador to Honduras.

Call the State Department at 800-877-8339 and the White House at 202-456-1414.

Zelaya, elected in November 2005 on the platform of Honduras’ Liberal Party, had proposed the opinion poll be conducted to determine if a majority of citizens agreed that constitutional reform was necessary. He was backed by a majority of labor unions and social movements in the country. If the poll had occurred, depending on the results, a referendum would have been conducted during the upcoming elections in November to vote on convening a constitutional assembly. Nevertheless, today’s scheduled poll was not binding by law.

In fact, several days before the poll was to occur, Honduras’ Supreme Court ruled it illegal, upon request by the Congress, both of which are led by anti-Zelaya majorities and members of the ultra-conservative National Party of Honduras (PNH). This move led to massive protests in the streets in favor of Zelaya.

On June 24, the president fired the head of the high military command, Gen. Romeo Vásquez, after he refused to allow the military to distribute electoral material for Sunday’s elections. Vásquez held the material under tight military control, refusing to release it even to the president’s followers, stating that the scheduled referendum had been determined illegal by the Supreme Court, and therefore he could not comply with the president’s order. As in the United States, the president of Honduras is commander-in-chief and has the final say on the military’s actions, and so he ordered the general’s removal. The Minister of Defense, Angel Edmundo Orellana, also resigned in response to this increasingly tense situation.

But the following day, Honduras’ Supreme Court reinstated Vásquez to the high military command, ruling that his firing was “unconstitutional.” Thousands again poured into the streets of Honduras’ capital of Tegucigalpa to show support for Zelaya and their determination to ensure that Sunday’s non-binding referendum would take place. On Friday, the president and a group of hundreds of supporters marched to the nearby air base to collect the electoral material that had been previously held by the military. That evening, Zelaya gave a national press conference along with a group of politicians from different political parties and social movements, calling for unity and peace in the country.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

AS OF Saturday, the situation in Honduras was reported as calm. But early Sunday morning, a group of approximately 60 armed soldiers entered the presidential residence and took Zelaya hostage. After several hours of confusion, reports surfaced claiming the president had been taken to a nearby air force base and flown to neighboring Costa Rica. No images have been seen of the president so far, and it is unknown whether or not his life is still endangered.

President Zelaya’s wife, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, speaking live on Telesur at approximately 10 am Caracas time, said that in early hours of Sunday morning, soldiers stormed their residence, firing shots throughout the house, beating and then taking the president. “It was an act of cowardness,” said the first lady, referring to the illegal kidnapping occurring during a time when no one would know or react until it was all over.

Casto de Zelaya also called for the “preservation” of her husband’s life, indicating that she herself is unaware of his whereabouts. She claimed their lives are all still in “serious danger” and made a call for the international community to denounce this illegal coup d’etat and to act rapidly to reinstate constitutional order in the country, which includes the rescue and return of the democratically elected Zelaya.

Presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia and Hugo Chávez of Venezuela have both made public statements on Sunday morning condemning the coup d’etat in Honduras and calling on the international community to react to ensure democracy is restored and the constitutional president is reinstated.

Last Wednesday, June 24, an extraordinary meeting of the member nations of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), of which Honduras is a member, was convened in Venezuela to welcome Ecuador, Antigua & Barbados and St. Vincent to its ranks. During the meeting, which was attended by Honduras’ foreign minister, Patricia Rodas, a statement was read supporting President Zelaya and condemning any attempts to undermine his mandate and Honduras’ democratic processes.

Reports coming out of Honduras indicate that the public television channel, Canal 8, has been shut down by the coup forces. Just minutes ago, Telesur announced that the military in Honduras was shutting down all electricity throughout the country. Those television and radio stations still transmitting are not reporting the coup d’etat or the kidnapping of President Zelaya, according to Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas. “Telephones and electricity are being cut off,” confirmed Rodas just minutes ago via Telesur. “The media are showing cartoons and soap operas, and are not informing the people of Honduras about what is happening.”

The situation is eerily reminiscent of the April 2002 coup d’etat against President Chávez in Venezuela, when the media played a key role by first manipulating information to support the coup, and then later blacking out all information when the people began protesting, and eventually overcame and defeated the coup forces, rescuing Chávez (who had also been kidnapped by the military) and restoring constitutional order.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

HONDURAS IS a nation that has been the victim of dictatorships and massive U.S. intervention during the past century, including several military invasions. The last major U.S. government intervention in Honduras occurred during the 1980s, when the Reagan administration funded death squads and paramilitaries to eliminate any potential “communist threats” in Central America. At the time, John Negroponte was the U.S. ambassador in Honduras and was responsible for directly funding and training Honduran death squads that were responsible for thousands of disappeared and assassinated throughout the region.

On Friday, the Organization of American States (OAS) convened a special meeting to discuss the crisis in Honduras, later issuing a statement condemning the threats to democracy and authorizing a convoy of representatives to travel to Honduras to investigate further. Nevertheless, on Friday, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Phillip J. Crowley refused to clarify the U.S. government’s position in reference to the potential coup against President Zelaya, and instead issued a more ambiguous statement that implied Washington’s support for the opposition to the Honduran president.

While most other Latin American governments had clearly indicated their adamant condemnation of the coup plans underway in Honduras and their solid support for Honduras’ constitutionally elected president, Manual Zelaya, the U.S. spokesman stated the following, “We are concerned about the breakdown in the political dialogue among Honduran politicians over the proposed June 28 poll on constitutional reform. We urge all sides to seek a consensual democratic resolution in the current political impasse that adheres to the Honduran constitution and to Honduran laws consistent with the principles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.”

As of 10:30 a.m., Sunday morning, no further statements had been issued by the Washington concerning the military coup in Honduras. The Central American nation is highly dependent on the U.S. economy, which ensures one of its top sources of income–monies sent from Hondurans working in the U.S. under the “temporary protected status” program that was implemented during Washington’s dirty war in the 1980s as a result of massive immigration to U.S. territory to escape the war zone.

Another major source of funding in Honduras is the U.S. Agency for International Development, which provides over $50 million annually for “democracy promotion” programs that generally support NGOs and political parties favorable to U.S. interests, as has been the case in Venezuela, Bolivia and other nations in the region. The Pentagon also maintains a military base in Honduras in Soto Cano, equipped with approximately 500 troops and numerous combat planes and helicopters.

Foreign Minister Rodas has stated that she has repeatedly tried to make contact with the U.S. ambassador in Honduras, Hugo Llorens, who has not responded to any of her calls thus far. The modus operandi of the coup makes it clear that Washington is involved. Neither the Honduran military, which is majority trained by U.S. forces, nor the political and economic elite, would act to oust a democratically elected president without the backing and support of the U.S. government.

President Zelaya has increasingly come under attack by conservative forces in Honduras for his growing relationship with the ALBA countries, and particularly Venezuela and President Chávez. Many believe the coup has been carried out as a method of ensuring Honduras does not continue to unify with the more leftist and socialist countries in Latin America.

unlike the recent demonstrations in iran, which have garnered all sorts of american media attention and tweets on twitter, the coup in honduras is quite a different story as george ciccariello-maher writes:

The recent street rebellions against the Ahmadinejad regime in Iran were touted by many as the first baptism-by-fire of Twitter as a political tool. Celebrity artilces abounded for a brief time, before such foolish dreams came crashing back to earth under the weight of a metric ton of misinformation, unsubstantiated rumor, and idle gossip.

…And the Tweeters Fell Silent

Any Iranian foolish to put her hopes in this most fickle of constituencies that is the Tweeter must have begun to doubt the wisdom of such an approach as short attention spans inevitably set in and, most devastatingly of all, the death of Michael Jackson stole the headlines. Ahmadinejad couldn’t have planned it better if he had offed MJ himself (in cahoots, perhaps, with South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, the other clear beneficiary of Jackson’s untimely demise). Indeed, the Iranian dissidents were the biggest losers of the day, suffering an even worse fate than Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Billy Mays, condemned to historical oblivion by sheer bad timing. But to this list of those suffering from the technophiles’ abandonment of their brief flirtation with the political, we must now add Manuel “Mel” Zelaya, legitimately elected president of Honduras, recently deposed in a barefaced military coup from the far right.

Zelaya, a former centrist who has recently made leftward moves, raised the ire of the entrenched Honduran oligarchy by, among other things, joining the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), a radical counterpoint to U.S.-promoted free trade agreements. His overthrow has been followed by a press blackout, military curfew, and repression in the streets, as hundreds of thousands have rallied to the cause of their former leader, only to meet an iron heel reminiscent of Honduran military regimes of the past (dodging bullets in the street, as the maganificent BoRev puts it, “is sort of like Twittering, for poor people”). There have been mass arrests, injuries, and deaths, but some exceptions not withstanding, these Hondurans are nevertheless, to quote one observer, “Protesters We Don’t Tweet About.”

jeremy scahill lays out the vested interests the united states has in honduras in the context of the role the u.s. has played in the coup:

First, we know that the coup was led by Gen. Romeo Vasquez, a graduate of the US Army School of the Americas. As we know very well from history, these “graduates” maintain ties to the US military as they climb the military career ladders in their respective countries. That is a major reason why the US trains these individuals.

Secondly, the US has a fairly significant military presence in Honduras. Joint Task Force-Bravo is located at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras. The base is home to some 550 US military personnel and more than 650 US and Honduran civilians:

They work in six different areas including the Joint Staff, Air Force Forces (612th Air Base Squadron), Army Forces, Joint Security Forces and the Medical Element. 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment, a US Army South asset, is a tenant unit also based at Soto Cano. The J-Staff provides command and control for JTF-B.

The New York Times reports that “The unit focuses on training Honduran military forces, counternarcotics operations, search and rescue, and disaster relief missions throughout Central America.”

Significantly, according to GlobalSecurity, “Soto Cano is a Honduran military installation and home of the Honduran Air Force.”

This connection to the Air Force is particularly significant given this report in NarcoNews:

The head of the Air Force, Gen. Luis Javier Prince Suazo, studied in the School of the Americas in 1996. The Air Force has been a central protagonist in the Honduran crisis. When the military refused to distribute the ballot boxes for the opinion poll, the ballot boxes were stored on an Air Force base until citizens accompanied by Zelaya rescued them. Zelaya reports that after soldiers kidnapped him, they took him to an Air Force base, where he was put on a plane and sent to Costa Rica.

It is impossible to imagine that the US was not aware that the coup was in the works. In fact, this was basically confirmed by The New York Times in Monday’s paper:

As the crisis escalated, American officials began in the last few days to talk with Honduran government and military officials in an effort to head off a possible coup. A senior administration official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity, said the military broke off those discussions on Sunday.

While the US has issued heavily-qualified statements critical of the coup—in the aftermath of the events in Honduras—the US could have flexed its tremendous economic muscle before the coup and told the military coup plotters to stand down. The US ties to the Honduran military and political establishment run far too deep for all of this to have gone down without at least tacit support or the turning of a blind eye by some US political or military official(s).

Here are some facts to consider: the US is the top trading partner for Honduras. The coup plotters/supporters in the Honduran Congress are supporters of the “free trade agreements” Washington has imposed on the region. The coup leaders view their actions, in part, as a rejection of Hugo Chavez’s influence in Honduras and with Zelaya and an embrace of the United States and Washington’s “vision” for the region. Obama and the US military could likely have halted this coup with a simple series of phone calls. For an interesting take on all of this, make sure to check out Nikolas Kozloff’s piece on Counterpunch, where he writes:

In November, Zelaya hailed Obama’s election in the U.S. as “a hope for the world,” but just two months later tensions began to emerge. In an audacious letter sent personally to Obama, Zelaya accused the U.S. of “interventionism” and called on the new administration in Washington to respect the principle of non-interference in the political affairs of other nations.

alberto valiente thoresen offers further clarification on the misuse of language in the context of the coup in honduras:

Currently, there is a tragedy being staged in the Central American republic Honduras. Meanwhile, the rest of humanity follows the events, as spectators of an outdated event in Latin America, which could set a very unfortunate undemocratic precedent for the region. In their rage, the almighty gods of Honduran politics have punished an aspiring titan, President Manuel Zelaya, for attempting to give Hondurans the gift of participatory democracy. This generated a constitutional conflict that resulted in president Zelaya’s banishment and exile. In this tragedy, words are once again the healers of enraged minds. If we, the spectators, are not attentive to these words, we risk succumbing intellectually, willfully accepting the facts presented by the angry coup-makers and Honduran gods of politics.

In this respect, media coverage of the recent military coup in Honduras is often misleading; even when it is presenting a critical standpoint towards the events. Concentrating on which words are used to characterize the policies conducted by President Zelaya might seem trivial at first sight. But any familiarity to the notion of ‘manufacturing of consent’, and how slight semantic tricks can be used to manipulate public opinion and support, is enough to realize the magnitude of certain omissions. Such oversights rely on the public’s widespread ignorance about some apparently minor legal intricacies in the Honduran Constitution.

For example, most reports have stated that Manuel Zelaya was ousted from his country’s presidency after he tried to carry out a non-binding referendum to extend his term in office. But this is not completely accurate. Such presentation of “facts” merely contributes to legitimizing the propaganda, which is being employed by the coup-makers in Honduras to justify their actions. This interpretation is widespread in US-American liberal environments, especially after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the coup is unacceptable, but that “all parties have a responsibility to address the underlying problems that led to [Sunday]’s events.” However, President Zelaya cannot be held responsible for this flagrant violation of the Honduran democratic institutions that he has tried to expand. This is what has actually happened:

The Honduran Supreme Court of Justice, Attorney General, National Congress, Armed Forces and Supreme Electoral Tribunal have all falsely accused Manuel Zelaya of attempting a referendum to extend his term in office.

According to Honduran law, this attempt would be illegal. Article 239 of the Honduran Constitution clearly states that persons, who have served as presidents, cannot be presidential candidates again. The same article also states that public officials who breach this article, as well as those that help them, directly or indirectly, will automatically lose their immunity and are subject to persecution by law. Additionally, articles 374 and 5 of the Honduran Constitution of 1982 (with amendments of 2005), clearly state that: “it is not possible to reform the Constitution regarding matters about the form of government, presidential periods, re-election and Honduran territory”, and that “reforms to article 374 of this Constitution are not subject to referendum.”

Nevertheless, this is far from what President Zelaya attempted to do in Honduras the past Sunday and which the Honduran political/military elites disliked so much. President Zelaya intended to perform a non-binding public consultation, about the conformation of an elected National Constituent Assembly. To do this, he invoked article 5 of the Honduran “Civil Participation Act” of 2006. According to this act, all public functionaries can perform non-binding public consultations to inquire what the population thinks about policy measures. This act was approved by the National Congress and it was not contested by the Supreme Court of Justice, when it was published in the Official Paper of 2006. That is, until the president of the republic employed it in a manner that was not amicable to the interests of the members of these institutions.

Furthermore, the Honduran Constitution says nothing against the conformation of an elected National Constituent Assembly, with the mandate to draw up a completely new constitution, which the Honduran public would need to approve. Such a popular participatory process would bypass the current liberal democratic one specified in article 373 of the current constitution, in which the National Congress has to approve with 2/3 of the votes, any reform to the 1982 Constitution, excluding reforms to articles 239 and 374. This means that a perfectly legal National Constituent Assembly would have a greater mandate and fewer limitations than the National Congress, because such a National Constituent Assembly would not be reforming the Constitution, but re-writing it. The National Constituent Assembly’s mandate would come directly from the Honduran people, who would have to approve the new draft for a constitution, unlike constitutional amendments that only need 2/3 of the votes in Congress. This popular constitution would be more democratic and it would contrast with the current 1982 Constitution, which was the product of a context characterized by counter-insurgency policies supported by the US-government, civil façade military governments and undemocratic policies. In opposition to other legal systems in the Central American region that (directly or indirectly) participated in the civil wars of the 1980s, the Honduran one has not been deeply affected by peace agreements and a subsequent reformation of the role played by the Armed Forces.

Recalling these observations, we can once again take a look at the widespread assumption that Zelaya was ousted as president after he tried to carry out a non-binding referendum to extend his term in office.

The poll was certainly non-binding, and therefore also not subject to prohibition. However it was not a referendum, as such public consultations are generally understood. Even if it had been, the objective was not to extend Zelaya’s term in office. In this sense, it is important to point out that Zelaya’s term concludes in January 2010. In line with article 239 of the Honduran Constitution of 1982, Zelaya is not participating in the presidential elections of November 2009, meaning that he could have not been reelected. Moreover, it is completely uncertain what the probable National Constituent Assembly would have suggested concerning matters of presidential periods and re-elections. These suggestions would have to be approved by all Hondurans and this would have happened at a time when Zelaya would have concluded his term. Likewise, even if the Honduran public had decided that earlier presidents could become presidential candidates again, this disposition would form a part of a completely new constitution. Therefore, it cannot be regarded as an amendment to the 1982 Constitution and it would not be in violation of articles 5, 239 and 374. The National Constituent Assembly, with a mandate from the people, would derogate the previous constitution before approving the new one. The people, not president Zelaya, who by that time would be ex-president Zelaya, would decide.

It is evident that the opposition had no legal case against President Zelaya. All they had was speculation about perfectly legal scenarios which they strongly disliked. Otherwise, they could have followed a legal procedure sheltered in article 205 nr. 22 of the 1982 Constitution, which states that public officials that are suspected to violate the law are subject to impeachment by the National Congress. As a result they helplessly unleashed a violent and barbaric preemptive strike, which has threatened civility, democracy and stability in the region.

It is fundamental that media channels do not fall into omissions that can delay the return of democracy to Honduras and can weaken the condemnation issued by strong institutions, like the United States government. It is also important that individuals are informed, so that they can have a critical attitude to media reports. Honduras needs democracy back now, and international society can play an important role in achieving this by not engaging in irresponsible oversimplifications.

on meddling and hypocrisy in iran

i’ve been reading the selected writings of eqbal ahmad this week. there are some excellent, insightful essays about palestinian politics and resistance strategies in this volume, which are especially interesting given ahmad’s history–as someone who lived in algeria and tunisia during the algerian revolution that kicked out the french colonists and although he was born in bihar, india his family had to move lahore after the 1947 partition of india and his family was split by the new border. so he has a particularly interesting take on things. but he also has an essay entitled “iran’s landmark revolution: fifteen years later.” the essay was published in 1994 and given the situation in iran right now and all the comparisons i see people making between the current situation in iran and previous events in iranian history i find the essay a useful read. ahmad starts by reminding us that it was “the first fully televised revolution in history” (81). He opens the essay by comparing the french and iranian revolutions in the sense that both marked a new era regionally. he says:

…the Iranian was like the French a unique and perhaps seminal revolution for the postcolonial era as the French had been for the industrial age. The uprising that began in January 1978 and ended successfully on February 11, 1979, was the first major break in the postcolonial world from the revolutionary model of protracted armed struggle experienced in China, Algeria, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau. Iran’s, by contrast, was a mass insurrection, by far the most popular, broad-based, and sustained agitation in recent history. During a single year–1978–some thirty thousand protestors were killed in Iran while its economic institutions and public services were intermittently shut down. The movement was quite unparalleled for its militant but nonviolent character and for its discipline and morale in the face of governmental violence. As such, it deserves to be studied for its lessons in mass mobilization and agitational politics.

The Iranian Revolution pointed toward a shift in the focus of revolutionary struggle in the so-called Third World from the rural to the urban sector. Until 1978, almost all Third World revolution had been primarily peasant revolutions, centered in rural areas and involving guerrilla warfare. Even in those countries (e.g., Algeria and Cuba) where support of the urban population held great importance in revolutionary strategy, the rural population was from the outset viewed as being central to the revolutionaries’ success.

The Iranian Revolution represented the first significant departure from this pattern. It was predominantly urban in composition and entirely so in its origin and initiation. Its cadres came from the middle, low middle, and working classes. Its following was swelled by the lumpenproletariat, mostly rural migrants driven to the cities by the shah’s “modernization” of agriculture. The capital-intensive commercial farm strategy of economic development which the shah initiated in the 1960s–and which Ms. Bhutto’s “agricultural task force” has now recommended for Pakistan–led to rapid urbanization, cultural dislocation, and grossly augmented and visible inequality. These conditions created the mass base for the uprising, and increasingly they are appearing in other Third World countries, especially in those which are seeking links with the commercial market as uncritically as they once sought to imitate socialism.

Iran yielded a textbook example of the general strike as a primary weapon in revolutionary seizure of power. The strike, which lasted nearly six months in Iran, was one of the longest and by far the most effective in history. The turning point in the struggle against the shah came during September and October 1978, when the oil workers in Abadan and Ahvaz proved the weapon of the general strike to be powerful beyond the dreams of the nineteenth-century Marxists and syndicalists, who had viewed it as the lynchpin of revolutionary strategy. Subsequently, events in South Korea, South Africa, Nicaragua, and Brazil, among others, suggested that what we witnessed in Iran was a trend….

The fall of the shah revealed that, in the Third World, deployment of advanced weapons promotes internal contradictions and subjects the state apparatus to unbearable strains. When confronted by a sustained popular uprising, Iran’s 450,000 strong, superequipped military establishment disintegrated. Significantly, the noncommissioned officers and technicians, whose numbers had swelled since 1972 as a result of large infusions of sophisticated arms, were the first to defect en masse; their defection proved crucial in the disintegration of Iran’s armed forces. The military’s open and mass defections, which began in December 1978, were spearheaded by technicians and cadets of the air force and armoured divisions. They sealed the Pahlavis’ fate.

Herein lies an extraordinary irony. In terms of intensity, scope, and the social forces which were involved in it, the Iranian was by far the most modern and objectively advanced revolution in the Third World. Yet revolutionary power in Iran was seized by a clerical leadership of theocratic outlook, medieval culture, and millenarian style. Most scholars have attributed this remarkable phenomenon to the shah’s repression (only in the mosque one found the freedom of association and speech…) and to Iran’s Shia traditions (of martyrdom and clerical power). (81-84)

the events of 1979 is, of course, one of the flashpoints being used as a point of comparison right now. so is the 1953 american coup which led to the overthrow of mohammed mossadgh, and the installment of the shah as the american puppet in iran, which of course led to the 1979 events that ahmad discusses above. here is chris hedges reminding of the american coup in 1953:

Iranians do not need or want us to teach them about liberty and representative government. They have long embodied this struggle. It is we who need to be taught. It was Washington that orchestrated the 1953 coup to topple Iran’s democratically elected government, the first in the Middle East, and install the compliant shah in power. It was Washington that forced Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, a man who cared as much for his country as he did for the rule of law and democracy, to spend the rest of his life under house arrest. We gave to the Iranian people the corrupt regime of the shah and his savage secret police and the primitive clerics that rose out of the swamp of the dictator’s Iran. Iranians know they once had a democracy until we took it away.

Picture 1

in all of the news going on in iran i have been thinking about one of the most insightful statements i read on as’ad abukhalil’s blog early on in relation to a statement barack obama made:

You need to read Obama’s statements on Iran carefully. There is one particular statement in which he said that the US (for historical reasons) can’t “appear to be meddling”. The statement does not say that the US is not meddling, but that it does not want to appear to be meddling. Similarly, the US in 1953 meddled but it did not appear to be meddling.

here is obama’s original quote from the los angeles times by paul richter:

“It’s not productive, given the history of the U.S.-Iranian relationship, to be seen as meddling,” Obama said Tuesday.

the image above is a screenshot i took of the white house website. if you click on the link you can watch a video of obama’s press conference and read a transcript in english, farsi, and arabic. if obama did not want to seem to be meddling last week, this week he is blatantly meddling. what i find most hypocritical about his remarks are on the subject of justice:

The Iranian people can speak for themselves. That’s precisely what’s happened in the last few days. In 2009, no iron fist is strong enough to shut off the world from bearing witness to peaceful protests [sic] of justice. Despite the Iranian government’s efforts to expel journalists and isolate itself, powerful images and poignant words have made their way to us through cell phones and computers, and so we’ve watched what the Iranian people are doing.

This is what we’ve witnessed. We’ve seen the timeless dignity of tens of thousands of Iranians marching in silence. We’ve seen people of all ages risk everything to insist that their votes are counted and that their voices are heard. Above all, we’ve seen courageous women stand up to the brutality and threats, and we’ve experienced the searing image of a woman bleeding to death on the streets. While this loss is raw and extraordinarily painful, we also know this: Those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history.

part of what has been unnerving about the situation in iran is the zionist entity’s press over the protests. they seem to be foaming at the mouth over the post-election protests. indeed, the majority of the articles in ha’aretz and ynet have been on iran, which is unusual. there have also been many rumors spread on the internet which are difficult to verify at this point with respect to zionists meddling in iran. in the guardian rory mccarthy, martin chulov, hugh macleod, and ian black report precisely why the zionist entity is up in arms about the protests:

In private, Israeli officials appeared to be hoping for an ­Ahmadinejad victory even before the polls opened, despite his vitriolic ­criticism of Israel, his denial of the ­Holocaust and his apparent eagerness for a nuclear weapons programme.

but there does appear to be evidence of the united states meddling in iran as jeremy scahill reported today:

As violence continues on the streets of Tehran, RebelReports has learned that former US National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft has confirmed that the US government has spies on the ground in Iran. Scowcroft made the assertion in an interview to be broadcast on the Al Jazeera program “Fault Lines.” When asked by journalist Avi Lewis if the US has “intelligence operatives on the ground in Iran,” Scowcroft replied, “Of course we do.”

While it is hardly surprising that the US has its operatives in Iran, it is unusual to see a figure in a position to know state this on the record. New Yorker journalist Seymour Hersh and Former Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter both have claimed for years that the US has regularly engaged in covert operations inside of Iran aimed at destabilizing the government. In July 2008, Hersh reported, “the scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which involve the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have now been significantly expanded.”

In the Al Jazeera interview, Scowcroft defended President Obama’s position on Iran, which has been roundly criticized by Republicans as weak and ineffective with some characterizing Obama as a “de facto ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.”

Scowcroft tells Al Jazeera: “We don’t control Iran. We don’t control the government obviously. There is little we can do to change the situation domestically in Iran right now and I think an attempt to change it is more likely to be turned against us and against the people who are demonstrating for more freedom and, therefore, I think we need to look at what we can do best, which is to try to influence Iranian behavior in the region, and with nuclear weapons.”

the video footage of the interview can be seen here (though it is josh rushing and not avi lewis doing the interview as scahill claimed):

and why exactly might the u.s. be meddling? to what end? here is abukhalil’s “abcs of iranian developments”:

Let me explain the ABC of Iranian developments to you. Rafsanjani (the wealthiest and most corrupt man in Iran) represents reform, and Moussavi (who led one of the most repressive eras in the Iranian revolutionary era and who sponsored Hizbullah in its most horrific phases) represents democracy. Did you get that? Write that down NOW.

but it is not just the meddling that is disturbing. it is also the hypocrisy. obama goes off about people fighting for justice being on the right side of history. the palestinians have been doing this for over 61 years and yet where is obama when it comes to speaking about their rights and justice here? abukhalil’s takes this a step further with some important observations:

The hypocrite in speech is invoking an argument that he himself so blatantly ignores and will continue to ignore to the last day of his presidency. Does he really believe in that right for peoples? Yes, but only in countries where governments are not clients of the US. Will he invoke that argument, say, in Saudi Arabia or Egypt or Morocco or Tunisia or Libya or Jordan or Oman, etc? Of course not. This is only an attempt to justify US imperial policies. And even in Iran, the Empire is nervous because it can’t predict the outcome. But make no mistake about it: his earlier statement to the effect that the US can’t for historical reasons “appear to be meddling” sets the difference between the Bush and the Obama administration. The Bush administration meddled blatantly and crudely and visibly, while the Obama administration meddles more discreetly and not-so-visibly. Tens of thousands of pens equipped with cameras have been smuggled into Iran: I only wish that the American regime would dare to smuggle them into Saudi Arabia so that the entire world can watch the ritual of public executions around the country.

my friend matthew cassel also commented on the western media coverage of the protests in iran in electronic intifada today as compared to other parts of the world this week–namely georgia and peru–as well as to palestine to unveil this american hypocrisy:

However, Iran is different than both Georgia and Peru. Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has probably overtaken Osama Bin Laden as the most hated individual in the US. Over the past several years, many officials in Washington have called for more aggressive actions to be taken against Iran. More recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave US President Barack Obama an ultimatum that the US president better take care of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, or else Israel would. It’s no coincidence then that the protests in Iran are receiving around-the-clock media coverage and are also one of the only examples in recent years where US government officials have showed support for demonstrators like Obama did when he called on Iran to “stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people.” They are certainly not the only protests that have been met with violent government repression.

For years, Palestinians have organized weekly nonviolent demonstrations against Israel’s wall in the West Bank. Each week protestors face the heavily-armed Israeli military and are beaten and shot at with rubber-coated steel bullets and tear-gas canisters, sometimes fatally. Yet, during his recent speech in Cairo to the Muslim world, Obama made no reference to these protests and instead called on Palestinians to “abandon violence” and adopt nonviolent means. Days after the speech a Palestinian was killed and a teenager wounded during the weekly protest, yet there has been no call by the US administration for Israel to “stop all violent and unjust actions” against the Palestinian people. And the media has followed and remained silent, even though covering the demonstrations would be as easy as a 30-minute drive from most Jerusalem-based news bureaus on any given Friday.

and here is another important moment of hypocrisy that abukhalil pointed out on his blog:

“(Editors’ note: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on their ability to report, film or take pictures in Tehran.)” Did Reuters use that disclaimer when reporting on the Israeli massacres in Gaza?

i do not claim to be an expert on iran. but post-1979 revolution i found my home town of los angeles suddenly populated with iranians. these iranians, many of whom i went to school with and some of whom i was friends with, were decidedly pro-shah. this community gave me a very distorted view of iran growing up. but as i got older and met other iranians in the u.s., and the later around the world, and then began reading more i started to understand more. in the u.s. i hear about media reports on the mainstream news that feature the shah’s family members as abukhalil noted:

The media coverage went from crazy to insane this week. Now, they are–KID YOU NOT–reporting on the reactions of the Shah’s family. Some of them at CNN in fact think that the Iranian people are demonstrating to restore the Shah’s son to power. I heard that the Shah’s widow–taking time from enjoying the wealth of the Iranian people which was embezzled with full American cooperation and complicity–was tearing up on national TV. The plight of the Shah’s family will be similar to that of the descendants of the Iraqi Hashemites after the overthrow of Saddam. The royal dude went back to London when he discovered–against Amerian neo-con assurances–that he has no chance on earth.

aside from this american media distortion machine there are a number of bloggers and scholars speaking about iran from a variety of perspectives. there are some good tweeters out there who are reporting responsibly, but the fact that new media is one of the vehicles for getting information out about iran means that there is all sorts of noise one must filter out. maximillian forte has a great long post on the use of twitter that is worth reading. forte offers some important analysis including on the subject of tweeters from the zionist entity:

It may be wrong to single out Americans here, since there is every likelihood, given the current geopolitical context, that Israeli Twitter users (among the heaviest Twitter users one can find) have a vested interest in manipulating the discussion to serve the ends of the Israeli state, as do many Americans. One thing to do is to try to foment a division between Iran and Hezbollah, thus one posted: “large number of armed forces are lebanese/arab hired to beat down the brave iranians” — completely without substance. Another Twitter user I spoke to chose to quote the Talmud to the Iranian protesters. Interestingly, the Jerusalem Post was immediately “aware” of three “Iranian” bloggers (who post only in English), almost as soon as they joined, claiming without support that their Twitter feeds were from Iran (see here and here).

That the U.S. government has an active interest in the unfolding of the “Twitter revolution” for Iran, is an established fact. The U.S. State Department intervened to ask Twitter to delay a scheduled maintenance break so as to not interrupt tweets about Iran — “Ian Kelly, a state department spokesman, told reporters at a briefing that he had recognized over the weekend the importance of social media ‘as a vital tool for citizens’ empowerment and as a way for people to get their messages out’. He said: ‘It was very clear to me that these kinds of social media played a very important role in democracy – spreading the word about what was going on’” (see “US urges Twitter to delay service break,” by Chris Nuttall and Daniel Dombey, Financial Times, 17 June 2009, and “U.S. State Department speaks to Twitter over Iran,” Reuters, 16 June 2009). What the U.S. State Department is also doing, of course, is reinforcing the unproven claim that this is important to Iran, while careful not to specify whose citizens are being empowered, whose word is being spread, and “out” from where. At the same time, the Obama regime claims that it is not meddling in Iranian affairs.

forte also has a really important blog entry on the necessity of sharing accurate sources when using social media that i think is necessary reading for anyone active on the internet in general, not only in relation to iran. blogger mo-ha-med has a different take on the subject of sourcing that is equally important and interesting in the current climate.

scahill has been particularly annoyed by the discourse of the so-called “twitter revolution” that even al jazeera has used. here is his entertaining rant on the subject:

I’m really sick of people in the US talking about the “twitter revolution” in Iran. I especially hate when it’s US liberals who would NEVER get off their asses and away from their computers to protest anything in their own country. They’d never face down tear gas or baton-wielding thugs at home. Some of these liberals (you know who you are) were poo-pooing activists protesting at the Republican and Democratic Conventions and scorn activism in general. This whole commentary about the “twitter revolution” when it comes from these lizards is narcissistic crap.

but even more importantly, i love scahill’s short post on this phenomenon i’ve seen on facebook and twitter with people turning their avatar green to support iran:

Seeing some of these people online turning their profile pictures green “for Iran” makes me want to create a Facebook and Twitter application that turns profile pictures blood red, in solidarity with all of the Afghans and Iraqis and Pakistanis being killed by US wars today; wars that people in the US failed to stop and whose representatives continue to fund to the tune of $100s of billions.

the is the essential thing about bloggers: they point out the points that most journalists cannot or will not point out–the hypocrisies, the context (of course scahill is an exception to the rule). m. monalisa gharavi’s blog south/south has had a number of important observations and posts on post-election iran, including with the help of journalist alireza doostdar, a full breakdown of the iranian elections by the numbers. on the protests gharavi has this to say:

It is becoming clear that the events in Iran are no longer about actual behind-the-scenes political machinations but about manifestations of built-up (and real) public grievance and emotion, a Carnival in the best and most political use of that word. When I use the word ‘Carnival’ I am not talking about the naked, topless women in the Sambodramo, but about the Portuguese verb ‘desabafar’ for the venting of political anger about social and economic grievances that people exercise in sequins and costumes for three days a year. It is an affirmation, not a dismissal, of grievances.

On a personal angle, that the perception of fraud has become much more important than the actual existence of fraud has revealed some major complexities about solidarity. Now as ever I’m with the people of Iran: not only with cousins, friends, and fellow Tehranis facing enormous consequences to their protests and arrests, but also the people who voted for the incumbent, people who cannot butter their bread and face even graver livelihood injustices in other regions of Iran.

How could anyone dismiss the protests, especially in the past few days when there have been deaths? Who is not revolted by riot cops? (The majority of the violence against unarmed protesters–and many of them women, who are leading so many of the protests–are by the armed and plain-clothes Basiji militiamen.) The right of assembly got suspended (and again, the dance: reinstated) many times and in reactive and preventative fashion. I am extremely glad people are openly disobeying permit orders: they should be disobeyed anywhere in the world where they are illegitimate.

But in the U.S. almost every protest large and small requires a permit, and in my own participation at anti-capitalist demos like the World Economic Forum in New York or the FTAA meeting in Miami, military riot gear/tear gas/tanks/undercover officers were unleashed on ‘permitted’ protests to zero accountability. The Republican National Convention in New York in 2004, where I shot video for Steve Stasso’s film Situation Room #2, saw almost 2000 people arrested, beaten, and jailed (the highest number at a political convention to date) with the near-total silence of the favorite ‘non-governmental’ liberal newspaper, the New York Times.

on the monthly review zine website there is another interesting take on the protests by arshin adib-moghaddam which picks up where the ahmad bit i quoted at the beginning of this post left off:

Iran’s civil society is fighting; it is giving blood for a just cause. It is displaying its power, the power of the people. Today, Iran must be considered one of the most vibrant democracies in the world because it is the people who are speaking. The role of the supporters of the status quo has been reduced to reaction, which is why they are lashing out violently at those who question their legitimacy.

In all of this, the current civil unrest in Iran is historic, not only because it has already elicited compromises by the state, but also because it provides yet more evidence of the way societies can empower themselves against all odds. These brave men and women on the streets of Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, and other cities are moved by the same utopia that inspired their fathers and mothers three decades ago: the utopia of justice. They believe that change is possible, that protest is not futile. Confronting the arrogance of the establishment has been one of the main ideological planks of the Islamic revolution in 1979. It is now coming back to haunt those who have invented such slogans without necessarily adhering to them in the first place.

And yet the current situation in Iran is profoundly different from the situation in 1978 and 1979. First, the Islamic Republic has proven to be rather responsive to societal demands and rather flexible ideologically. I don’t mean to argue that the Iranian state is entirely reflective of the will of the people. I am saying that is it is not a totalitarian monolith that is pitted against a politically unified society. The fissures of Iranian politics run through all levers of power in the country, which is why the whole situation appears scattered to us. Whereas in 1979 the bad guy (the Shah) was easily identifiable to all revolutionaries, in today’s Iran such immediate identification is not entirely possible. Who is the villain in the unfolding drama? Ahmadinejad? Those who demonstrated in support of him would beg to differ. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei? I would argue that he commands even stronger loyalties within the country and beyond. The Revolutionary Guard or the Basij? Mohsen Rezai, one of the presidential candidates and an opponent of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who is contesting the election results, used to be the head of the former institution.

The picture becomes even more complicated when we take into consideration that some institutions of the state such as the parliament — via its speaker, Ali Larijani — have called for a thorough investigation of the violence perpetrated by members of the Basij and the police forces in a raid of student dormitories of Tehran University earlier this week. “What does it mean that in the middle of the night students are attacked in their dormitory?” Larijani asked. The fact that he said that “the interior ministry . . . should answer for it” and that he stated that the “parliament is seriously following the issue” indicate that the good-vs-bad verdict in today’s Iran is more blurred than in 1979.

There is a second major difference to 1979. Today, the opposition to Ahmadinejad is fighting the establishment with the establishment. Mir Hossein Mousavi himself was the prime minister of Iran during the first decade of the revolution, during a period when the current supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, was president. Mohammad Khatami, one of the main supporters of Mousavi, was president between 1997 and 2005. Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, another political ally, is the head of the Assembly of Experts and another former president. They are the engineers of the Islamic revolution and would never devour their project. When some commentators say that what we are witnessing is a revolution they are at best naive and at worst following their own destructive agenda. The dispute is about the future path of the Islamic Republic and the meaning of the revolution — not about overthrowing the whole system. It is a game of politics and the people who are putting their lives at risk seem to be aware of that. They are aware, in other words, that they are the most important force in the hands of those who want to gain or retain power.

Thus far the Iranian establishment has shown itself to be cunningly adaptable to crisis situations. Those who have staged a revolution know how to sustain themselves. And this is exactly what is happening in Iran. The state is rescuing its political power through a mixture of incentives and pressure, compromise and detention, due process and systematic violence. Moreover, when push comes to shove, the oppositional leaders around Mousavi would never question the system they have built up. As Mousavi himself said in his fifth and most recent letter to the Iranian people: “We are not against our sacred regime and its legal structures; this structure guards our independence, freedom, and Islamic Republic.”

and an iranian reader of abukhalil’s blog had this to say about the reactions to the elections early on, which is also revealing on a number of levels:

Alexander sent me this (I cite with his permission): “As an Iranian and avid reader of your blog, I wanted to share my thoughts on your “Iranian developments” post with you. First of all, your point about Western coverage of Iranian democracy vis-a-vis other countries in the region is spot-on. I think you are right to criticize the impact of Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric on Palestine, and I would like to explain a little about that. In the past, Palestinian liberation was a cause championed by the Iranian secular left, but nowadays it is strongly associated with the religious right. This is not due only to Ahmadinejad (every Iranian leader since Khomeini has expressed the idea that Palestine is a “Muslim issue” that Iranians should be concerned about) but it has gotten worse under Ahmadinejad. It’s not just the statements he makes in international settings, but more importantly the way the issue is used domestically in order to distract people from their own issues. People are told not to protest economic stagnation, repressive government, etc. because they shouldn’t complain when Palestinians have it so much worse. “Pray for Gaza” is shoved down their throats in the same breath as “fix your hijab.” In addition, many people resent the fact that the Iranian state spends so much money on Palestinian and Lebanese affairs when there is such poverty and underdevelopment at home. Incidentally, one of the popular (and hyperbolic) chants at the protests that are going on right now is “mardom chera neshastin, Iran shode Felestin!” (People, why are you sitting down? Iran has become Palestine!”).

Finally, I am glad that you are defending neither Ahmadinejad nor Mousavi. It is frustrating that everyone I talk to from Pakistan to Egypt loves Ahmadinejad and is shocked to hear that many Iranians think he is ineffective and embarrassing. Meanwhile every Westerner seems to think that Mousavi is a great reformist or revolutionary, and some kind of saintly figure beloved by all. He’s an opportunist crook. That being said, I support the students and protesters in Iran, even the ones chanting Mousavi’s name. I believe they are putting their lives on the line to fight for greater freedom, accountability, and democracy within the Islamic Republic, and they have to couch that in the language of Islam and presidential politics in order to avoid even greater repression than that which they already face. A friend who is in Iran right now confirms: “half the kids throwing rocks at the police didn’t even vote.” To me, that means that they are not fighting for a Mousavi presidency, but for more freedom, which they must hide under a green Mousavi banner in order to have legitimacy in the eyes of the state.”

on democracy now! today amy goodman spoke with professor hamid dabashi about his take on the situation in iran, which he frames in a civil rights context:

It’s based on my reading of what I believe is happening in Iran. This, in my judgment, is a post-ideological generation. My generation was divided into third world socialists, anti-colonial nationalists and militant Islamists. These are the three dominant ideologies with which we grew up. But if you look at the composition of Iranian society today, 70 percent of it is under the age of thirty—namely, born after the Islamic Revolution. They no longer are divided along those ideological lines.

And if you read their newspapers, if you watch their movies, if you listen to the lyrics of their underground music, to their contemporary arts, etc., which we have been doing over the past thirty years, this, to me, is a civil rights movement. They are operating within the Constitution of the Islamic Republic. They don’t want to topple the regime. If you look—come outside, from the right of the right, in the US Senate to the left, is waiting for yet another revolution to happen. I don’t think this is another revolution. This is a civil rights movement. They’re demanding their civil rights that are being denied, even within the Constitution of the Islamic Republic. From their chants that they are doing in the streets to their newspapers, to their magazines, to their websites, to their Facebook, to their Twitters, everywhere that you look, this is a demand for civil liberties and not—

There are, of course, underlying economic factors, statistically. The unemployment in the age cohort of fifteen to twenty-nine is 70 percent. So this is not a class warfare. In other words, people that we see in the streets, 70 percent of them, that a majority of them are young—70 percent of them do not even have a job. They can’t even rent a room, let alone marry, let alone have a family. So the assumption that this is a upper-middle-class or middle-class, bourgeois, Gucci revolutionaries on the side of Mousavi and poor on the side of Ahmadinejad is completely false.

finally one of the most brilliant posts i’ve seen online over the last week or so comes from mo-ha-med’s blog in which he responds directly to meddlers who become “experts” overnight and begin to write about iran entitled “to you, the new iran expert”:

Yes, you.

Who, until this morning, thought that ‘Shiraz’ was just the name of a wine

Who’s beaming with pride you can now write ‘Ahmadinejad’ without copy-and-pasting it from a news website

Who only heard of Evin prison when Roxana Saberi was there (Roxana who?)

Who changed your Facebook profile picture to a green rectangle saying “Where’s my vote?” even though you don’t actually vote in Iran

Who actually thinks that Mir-Hossein Mousavi is a secular
And that his election means that Iran will give up its nuclear claims
And allow you to visit Tehran for Christmas

Who joyfully makes Azadi/Tiananmen square comparisons
Who first heard of Azadi square last Sunday

Who’s quick to link to articles you haven’t read, debunking other articles you’ve barely heard of

Who has just discovered that Iran has a (quasi-)democracy, and elections, and the like

Who blinked in disbelief at the images of women – oh, they have women! and they’re not in burkas! – demonstrating

Who has never heard of Rezai or Karroubi before (hint: they ran for election in a Middle-Eastern country last Friday)

Who staunchly believes that the elections have been stolen – either by ballot box stuffing, (14 million of them!) or by burning some ballots, or both (somehow?), regardless of the absence of any proof (yet)

… But who nevertheless

Has been tweeting, and re-tweeting, and polluting cyberspace with what is essentially hearsay, rumours, and unconfirmed truncated reports or falsification coming from people who actually know about the realities of Iran’s political world and have an agenda:….

I hear your objection though:

Yes, you are entitled to an opinion, to formulating it, to blog it, and to discuss it. I do that too. (this my blog after all).

But do everyone, and you first and foremost, a favour.
Learn from the people who know a thing or two about the issue at hand.
Be selective about you read, listen to, and watch. A simple way is to follow an Iranian friend’s updates and the links they put up.

(Even the State Dept is reading tweets from Iranians.)

Ask questions more than you volunteer answers.

And when you get a tweet that says UNCONF or ‘can anyone confirm?’, for Pete’s sake, that says “This is potentially bulls&^%”. Don’t spread nonsense. Don’t spread unconfirmed or unsourced information.

And rather that getting all excited following live some current events taking place in a country you probably cannot place on a map, read analysis of what it means, what the candidates actually stand for, and what the result will mean for the Iranians and the world.

Then, I would be delighted, truly, to read what you have to say.
Until then, please, pretty please – SHUT UP.

-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-

As for what I think? I don’t know. I think the results could be fake – and they also could be real. We probably will never know.

And I don’t think we’re watching a Ukraine ’04 redux or a ‘Green revolution’.
And I think that the people on the street will tire of getting beaten up by a government that is currently revoking foreign media licenses and will forfeit. We’re – well, Iran is – likely stuck with Ahmadinejad for four more years.

And while the troubles on the street are unlikely to lead to a change of government, they’d have had the benefit of showing the Iranian people in a new light – they’re normal people, only with more courage than most of us have.

on the lebanese elections, or a parliament of civil partition

in blue is written future movement (leader of the march 14 coalition) and the orange sperm represent Aoun's FPM
in blue is written future movement (leader of the march 14 coalition) and the orange sperm represent Aoun's FPM

so big surprise. march 14th/mutaqbal won the lebanese elections. my friends in lebanon either boycotted the elections or they voted for march 8th/opposition. while in many ways this is a big disappointment, in other ways there is a silver lining as my dear friend rami pointed out: the looming economic crisis created by sa’ad hariri will now force him to clean up the mess he has made of lebanon rather than forcing the opposition to that dirty work. historian fawwaz traboulsi offers some great analysis into the lebanese elections prior to the event on kpfa’s “voices of the middle east and north africa.” you can click here to listen to the interview with historian bishara doumani. unfortunately, like the lebanese media, lebanese bloggers are just as sectarian and so it is necessary to read quite a bit of various sources to get a sense of where things stand. here are a few qifa nabki, angry arab, friday lunch club, mxmlsm. my friend matthew cassel has some interesting photographs (like the one below) and commentary on his blog.

green t-shirt translation: "eat my dick" (march 14th victory rally)  (image matthew cassel)

but my favorite writings came from two of my dear friends, one of whom voted yesterday. here is an excerpt of rania’s reflection on voting:

I voted today. I have a purple smudge on my left thumb to prove my “participation in this civil responsibility,” as it is called. (And, contrary to what Ziad Baroud said, the purple smudge does not last a few weeks. It lasts as long two hand-washes and one hot shower.)

i drove up to the Zahle region yesterday to avoid the anticipated traffic, but it seems that most folks from Beirut had already left on Friday, so there was no traffic. Less traffic than a usual week-end. On the way there, I saw a handful of cars with orange flags, a few with yellow flags, and another handful with Lebanese flags. Yes, the Lebanese flag itself had morphed into a representative of a particular party.

This morning, I followed Saad Hariri’s instructions: I woke up early, had coffee, then breakfast, and then voted. I made sure not to vote on an empty stomach. By the time I had my breakfast, it was around 11 am, and I walked down to the small school in the village with my uncle, my uncle’s wife, and a friend from another district who was so repulsed by these elections that she opted out of even a blank vote. The mood in the school was easy going. Representatives — actually, no — volunteers from the political parties were enjoying themselves in the school courtyard. Lots and lots of orange. A bit of blue. A bit more red. And a bit of black shirts with red letters. And two, yes, two men with t-shirts declaring themselves to be “friends” of the candidate from the Lebanese Communist Party.

There was only one small entrance into the school. (And this same entrance was also the only exist.) At the bottom of the 8 steps of the entrance stood an ISF officer.

“One christian male,” he yelled. “We have room for one christian male. One Christian male!”
Inside the school, the village was divided not alphabetically by family, not numerically by identification number (’raqm el sijil’), but rather, by sectarian denomination.

For the first time in my life — and hopefully for the last time — I walked according to the sectarian affiliation of my birth. I was disgusted. In voting for representatives — or, more accurately, in voting against those I don’t want to represent me more than the others — the government was reminding me, yet again, that my affiliation is first to this arbitrary sectarian affiliation, an affiliation that I had rejected all my life.

Inside this small, little-used school, I walked to the end of the hallway to await my turn in the small classroom. The ISF officers inside the school were frustrated at the levels of noise, and at the constant ‘hellos, stop by for coffee afterwards’ greetings.

I walked into the voting booth, after some 30 minutes, and found a small room filled with witnesses.
“Your name?”

“Rania Rifaat el-Masri” I said.

“Rania Rifaat el Masri” he said and I heard my name echoed a few times as the witnesses each checked off my name from the list of constituents.

“Are votes written in red ink acceptable?” I asked.

“No.”

“Use my blue pen,” one election-staffer suggested.

“No, use my blue pen,’ said the ISF officer at the door.

I wondered: what if I had not asked? Would that small white sheet on which I had carefully written 7 names have been rejected? How many small white sheets with red ink would be rejected?

I walked into the covered voting booth and heard someone in the room say, “ah, it seems she will cancel out of a few names. “tshaTeb”.’ In that little blue voting booth was listed the names – and the sectarian affiliations – of each candidate. There was also a bunch of small, square blank white sheets. But no pen or pencil inside. Because I felt that all would be happier if I were to hurry up, I did not take my time reading each name and contemplating the list. I pulled out the three tiny – truly tiny – sheets of paper that each political coalition had given me (one from “Zahle bel ‘alb’, another from ‘ketlet zahle el sha3bieye’ and one from the LCP with only the name of the LCP candidate and with space – allegedly – to write in the other 6 names.) Truly – the coalition’s sheets are teeny. Anyway, I put those teeny sheets away, and wrote my own list, put that small sheet of paper in the envelope, and walked out.

Walking out of the small school, I squeezed by way out of the still crowded entrance/exit. My friend – Perla – had tried, unsuccessfully, to engage opposition political party supporters into conversation. But, they refused. “We don’t talk politics today,” they told her.

The drive back to Beirut was just as uneventful as the drive to el-Bekaa on Saturday.

Contrary to some rumors, some restaurants and cafes in Beirut are open. Perla and I were looking for those open places since both our kitchens are empty. I had been envisioning living off wine and chocolate – all that I have in my kitchen – until Monday evening.

Now, in my apartment in Beirut, I hear Ziad Baroud congratulating Lebanese on the elections, considering that these elections were “in this part of the world.” How wonderful to hear patronizing and orientalist comments made by our Minster of the Interior! (On a technical note, he also said that 58% voted, 20% more than 2005, and most voted in the first two hours.)

I listen to the news now. Following the latest vote-counts. For this evening, I want to put aside my rationality, I want to ignore that whoever wins, the difference will not be grand for this country. Most of the seats have been already been selected, chosen by the coalitions. On the resistance front, there is a difference between the two coalitions. However, on the domestic agenda, all sides have only small differences, quite small. All support the neo-liberal economic agenda – but to varying degrees. All are sectarian – to varying degrees.

I would be all the more excited were there real domestic differences between the two coalitions, particularly if one were of a socialist, secular agenda.

But, for now and for tomorrow, I shall put all those thoughts aside and simply look upon these elections as many other seem to do: to see which color shall win, the orange or the blue, with a bit less excitement than I followed the Soccer World Cup, the Italian or the Brazilian.

And, more fundamentally, I am hoping to see a few losses in these elections.

Good-bye Seniora? Good-bye Murr? Good-bye Fatoush?

and here are rania’s reflections as the results came in late last night:

What do these results tell us?

Seniora, a man who has shown this country (further) economic ruin, who failed to even present a strong face for Lebanon during the July 2006 war, a man who barely knows Saida, has won in Saida. Why? Money.

Zahra, a man who fought in the civil war, who killed in the civil war, has won in Batroun.

And then we have more people who have won on the sole reason that their relative was killed. Nayla Tueni – what does she have to offer other than her father’s memory? (hmm – kind of like Saad Hariri). And Nadim?

And then in Zahle, could it possibly be that Zahle has chosen a man who is one of the grandest and most corrupt thieves, a man who has $4 million on purchasing live lions to decorate his palace, a man who is known for destroying Lebanon’s mountains with his illegal quarries while he was Minister of Tourism, could it be that Zahle has chosen the worst candidate – Fatoush – again?

What does it mean when people are willing to sell their votes?

What does it mean when people are willing to close their minds and allow their bodies to be filled with fear? What does it say about them when they so easily accept scare-tactics about fellow Lebanese? To have such levels of fear, there has to be high levels of ignorance.

And here in lies a larger problem. What kind of a country do we have when we continue to look upon ourselves as a bunch of sects forced to live alongside each other, forced to “co exist” – this destructive rhetoric of “ta-ya-ush”? What kind of a country do we have when we continue to live for the short-short-short term, continue to look upon our history as one of defeat, – ‘hayda lubnan, ma beyet ghayar’, when too many leaders fail to present real programs and real visions (not all, but too many): we have a country whose citizens – wait, we have no citizens, only sects — are more willing to sell their vote to the highest bidder. And what about the political tourism? All those thousands of people that took that free ticket and visited Lebanon and supported their ticket-giver and then turned around and left? What country are they building? A hotel or a country?

The struggle continues.

Or, perhaps, it will begin anew.

wait: i entitled this post “Lebanon’s elections” – but where these elections really Lebanon’s – or where they also Saudi and US and all those other governments that continue to spend millions upon millions of dollars – all in terrible ways

an interesting analysis from Fadi Youssef

“the problem is that people look up to Hariri as an idol as someone who was able to make money which they want to do themselves so they vote for him, the son or the father, voting for the rich person they want to be. To be able to make money, they are willing to sell their souls. Every Lebanese dream of leaving this country and comeback loaded with money. Every Lebanese dreams of leaving this country and comeback loaded with money. It’s our concept of colonialism. It’s a part of our chauvinism”

and here is dear rami’s analysis after the results came in (he boycotted the elections):

The results of the Lebanese elections are out. March 14 won by a comfortable margin. I had predicted this win, but I didn’t think they would win by such a margin. However, the real winners of the Lebanese elections were:

1. Sectarianism. Electoral turn-out was very large because people voted in small districts dominated by one sect. It is likely that people felt that this scale of elections represents them better. In other words, voting for one’s sect is more important than voting for one’s nation.

2. Money. Sectarian money showed that it can really sway elections. Massive amount of money was spent on the electoral campaigns, on buying votes and on flying people in so that they can vote fpr one group or another. On a per capita basis, this must be one of the most expensive election ever. Just like Lebanon’s debt: one of the highest on a per capita basis.

3. Inherited parliamentarism. A large number of “political families” are represented in this parliament: Frangieh, Karameh, Gemayyel, Murr, and the newest addition: Tuwayni, a family which in record time has sent 3 generations to the parliament.

4. Ultra liberal economics. Both sides subscribe to this creed, but the March 14 people have a more formal, structured approach to its implementation. Rough days ahead for the poor.

Now it is all wait and see: will the winners invite the other side, especially the Shi`a block, to take part in the cabinet? Will they give them veto power as in the last government? What will the role of the President, who aligned himself with the March 14 in Jubayl and lost in his own district, be? Will he get the veto power in government? Will the new government avoid the issue of disarming Hizbullah or will it raise it again? How will this be done? To what extent will it allow itself to be manipulated by regional and global powers such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the US, who have been actively promoting March 14? Things might totally get out of control if wrong steps are taken. After all, as As Safir put it, the elections re-created the type of Parliament that brought Lebanon to Civil War in 1975. They called it: the Parliament of Civil Partition.

but at least you gotta be entertained by the various election campaign images that matthew blogged and remarkz blogged a few of them as well.

hillary’s love of war criminals

(Reuters/Ammar Awad/Jerusalem)
(Reuters/Ammar Awad/Jerusalem)

tamara sent me this photograph earlier because she thought it looked like shimon peres and hillary clinton just got married (sans the white dress of course). actually, i was thinking something was going on with tzipi livni and hillary because i saw them holding hands on al jazeera today. they looked very happy together. i prefer the next photograph from electronic intifada, however:

poster from oxford university protest
poster from oxford university protest

at the press conference tonight here is what hillary had to say for herself with my interjections in bold…

Thank you, my dear and old friend for that warm welcome and for the extraordinary example that your life sets, as someone who has devoted yourself to the state of Israel, to its security, and to the cause of peace.

saying that peres is dedicated to the cause of peace is like saying that one f*!&^ for virginity (thanks razan for reminding me of that one!). he is a known war criminal. let’s just take 2 examples here to see how hillary defines “peace” first from khaled amayreh:

1. Peres himself is a mass murderer par excellence. In 1996, during his brief stint as Prime Minister following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, he ordered the Israeli army to bomb the UNIFIL headquarters at the village of Qana in Southern Lebanon. And while the resulting pornographic massacre shocked the conscience of the world, Peres and his colleagues were busy deflecting blame and concocting excuses. Interestingly, Peres has never apologized for the horrendous crime, nor has Israel ever thought of compensating the families of the victims. The phrase “mea kulpa” apparently doesn’t exist in the Zionist lexicon.

the second one comes from abigail humphries and from a south african context:

2. Leading South African academics and veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle had sent a letter to Dr. Graham recalling Peres’ role in helping apartheid South Africa procure weapons when it was under an international embargo. “As South Africans whose oppression was fueled by the Israeli state, and certainly Peres himself,” the letter said, “we stand in solidarity with Palestinians who, for more than sixty years have lived under Israeli Apartheid.”

war-criminal lovin’ hillary continues…

….It is important that the United States always underscore our unshakable, durable, fundamental relationship and support for the State of Israel. I will be going from here to Yad Vashem to pay respects to the lost souls, to remember those who the Holocaust took, to lay a wreath, and to say a prayer. During today’s visit, I want to emphasize the continuing strengths of the United States-Israeli relationship and our unrelenting commitment to Israel’s security.

and ahhh yes, the nazi holocaust. she must bring this up. she must do it so we can deflect from the ongoing ethnic cleansing and massacres her war-lovin’ “old friends” like peres so enjoy committing, especially when the victims are arab–palestinian and lebanese alike. here is what she wrote in the guest book at yad vashem:

Writing in the guest book, Clinton described the memorial as a testament to “the triumph of the Jewish people over murder and destruction and a reminder to all people that the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten. God bless Israel and its future.”

i’m wondering why she didn’t say anything about the massacres in gaza. especially given that today the death toll rose once again:

Gaza death toll rises to 1,455 as two more die of wounds in Egypt

Two Palestinians died of wounds sustained during the Israeli war on Gaza, Palestinian medical sources reported Tuesday.

Muawiyah Hassanein, head of ambulance and emergency services in the Gaza ministry of health, said that two patients from southern Gaza died in Egyptian hospitals Monday.

The two were identified as Barham Abu Rjeilah from the Rafah governorate and Atef Abu Jazar from Khan Yunis. Their bodies were transferred to the Gaza Strip through Rafah crossing along with 22 Gazans who had been successfully treated in Egypt.

oh, and did you know that israeli terrorists have not stopped bombing gaza, not for one damn day? here is what they did today with their american-made planes and bombs:

Israeli jet fighters have conducted several bombing raids in the southern Gaza Strip city Rafah along the borders with Egypt on Tuesday afternoon, Palestinian sources reported.

hillary may not see the connection with the nazi holocaust and the ethnic cleansing project that the zionist entity is built upon and depends upon for its so-called “survival” but since the most recent savagery in gaza there are some jews asking that their family’s names be removed from yad vashem as a way of saying, you cannot do this in our name, as michael neumann wrote about his grandmother:

Following the example of Jean-Moise Braitberg, we ask that our grandmother’s name be removed from the wall at Yad Vashem. Her name is Gertrud Neumann. Your records state that she was born in Kattowitz on June 6, 1875 and died in Theresienstadt.

M. Braitberg delivers his request with excellent reasons and eloquent personal testimony. His words are inspiring, but they give you – and those who stand with you – too much credit. I will instead be brief. Please take this as an expression of my disgust and contempt for your state and all it represents.

Our grandmother was a victim of that very ideal of ethnic sovereignty in whose cause Israel has shed so much blood for so long. I was among the many Jews who thought nothing of embracing that ideal, despite the sufferings it had inflicted on our own race. It took thousands of Palestinian lives before, finally, I realized how foolish we had been.

Our complicity was despicable. I do not believe that the Jewish people, in whose name you have committed so many crimes with such outrageous complacency, can ever rid itself of the shame you have brought upon us. Nazi propaganda, for all its calumnies, never disgraced and corrupted the Jews; you have succeeded in this. You haven’t the courage to take responsibility for your own sadistic acts: with unparalleled insolence, you set yourself up as spokesmen for an entire race, as if our very existence endorsed your conduct. And you blacken our names not only by your acts, but by the lies, the coy evasions, the smirking arrogance and the infantile self-righteousness with which you embroider our history.

In the end, you will give the Palestinians some scrap of a state. You will never pay for your crimes and you will continue to preen yourself, to bask in your illusions of moral ascendancy. But between now and the end, you will kill and kill and kill, gaining nothing by your spoilt-brat brutality. In life, our grandmother suffered enough. Stop making her a party to this horror in her death.

perhaps hillary didn’t mention any of this context because she forgot? because she doesn’t know? ahhh, or maybe because doing so implicates the u.s. and the fact that she, too, has blood on her hands. because the u.s. gave the weapons to the israeli terrorists in the first place. because, you know, they’re dear friends. and i’m just wondering about this characterization of the u.s.-israel friendship. certainly this is a friendship sealed in the bonds of blood thirsty empires always already intent on stealing more land and/or natural resources and murdering more people. but what i wanna know is this: how can anyone really think that it is possible to be an “honest broker”–of course in spite of all the evidence to the contrary–when amrikans say such things? i mean, if you are a judge in the u.s. and you have a bias for one party the court case gets thrown out of court. khalas. that’s it. but here, apparently, it is entirely appropriate for the terrorist states of the u.s. and israel to have this bond and impose their imperial designs on arabs and muslims in the region. and notice the rhetoric below about palestinians–it is all about imposing…

I will be sharing my impressions from the meeting I attended yesterday at Sharm el-Sheikh, and the individual exchanges that I had with many leaders from the region. During the conference, I emphasized President Obama’s and my commitment to working to achieve a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and our support for the Palestinian Authority of President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad.

At the conference, I noted once again that the continued rocket attacks against Israel must cease. I don’t, like Shimon, understand the provocation that Hamas is determined to present. But on behalf of the people who are in Gaza, these rocket attacks are cynical, and as I pointed out yesterday, there is no doubt that any nation, including Israel, cannot stand idly by while its territory and people are subjected to rocket attacks.

the last time i checked neither hillary nor obama were palestinian. so how is it that she and peres, neither of whom are palestinian, of course, get to decide that they want and will achieve a two-state solution? for whom will that be a solution exactly? and will somebody, please, somebody tell this bitch that mahmoud abbas is no longer president. i beg of you. i think it is useful when one is in such a position of power to be aware of who is the leader of a particular country or region. ah, wait, that’s right, that might be difficult because the u.s. boycotts the democratically elected government because they don’t like hamas. they don’t think palestinians have a right to resist israeli-american terrorism and massacres–hence her constant references to the rockets the past couple of days (she sorta sounds like she’s developing tourettes syndrome). so let me get this straight: israelis can murder palestinians with american-made weapons and planes and tanks, they can steal land, force people out of their homes, invade their homes and kidnap them in the middle of the night, etc. every day for over 61 years and palestinians are never allowed to fight back. ah, ok, i think i understand now. but just how will this two-state thing work exactly? i mean, did hillary read the news today about the new plans for increased land theft by israeli terrorists? here is what peace now says about it:

According to the Peace Now report, the Israeli government already approved the construction of 15.000 housing units in West Bank settlements, and is currently planning to approve 58.000 units.

The movement added that “it is clear that supporters of settlements in the Likud party, and their possible coalition partners, are awaiting entrance into the new government’s ministry of Housing and Construction in order to implement many of these plans”.

Peace Now stated that such plans of settlement construction and expansion in the occupied West Bank are carried out with the intention to destroy any possibility of achieving a two-state solution.

The movement compiled a report based on data collected on the issue, and said that these plans only represent a small part of the overall housing plans for settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories.

It added that there are thousands of housing units that are planned by local authorities, private initiators and different public authorities.

Following are the main findings on the issue as published by Peace Now;

* Total number of housing units in the published plans – 73,302, out of which, 5,722 are in East Jerusalem

* Total number of housing units in approved plans – 15,156, approx. 8,950 of which have already been built.

* Total number of housing units in planning stages – 58,146.

* If all the plans are realized, the number of settlers in the Territories will be doubled (an addition of approx. 300,000 persons, based upon an average of 4 persons in each housing unit).

* In Gush Etzion (Bethlehem area) 17,000 housing units are planned in areas outside the existing settlements.

* At least six (6) outposts are included in the Ministry of Housing plans (Magen Dan, Givat Hadagan, Givat Hatamar, Bnei Adam, Bat Ayin West, Hill 26).

* There are plans for huge construction to double the size of some settlements, including: Beitar Illit, Ariel, Givat Ze’ev, Maaleh Adumim, Efrat and Geva Binyamin.

* Approx. 19,000 housing units are planned in settlements that are beyond the constructed path of the Fence (Kiryat Arba, Karnei Shomron, Ariel, Geva Binyamin, Immanuel, Revava).

* The plans in the settlements constitute 22% of the total housing units that are in planning stages in the Ministry of Housing.

 

and back to hillary…notice how she ignores hamas, the democratically-elected government of palestine, and of course says she supports abbas who is not the president any more (not since january 9th anyway) and yet here is what she says about the terrorist state of israel and its supposed claims on democracy:

On behalf of the United States, I would like to congratulate Israel on your recent elections, showing once again the vibrancy of your democracy. I know this is a sensitive time in Israeli politics as the process of forming a new government unfolds. This is, of course, a matter for the Israeli people to decide under Israeli law, but we want you to know that we will work with the government of Israel that represents the democratic will of the people of Israel. The democratic process has its ups and downs, but the United States and Israel share a common bond that strengthens our relationship as fellow democracies to address the challenges that we each face.

Our relationship is more than just one of shared interests. It is of shared values. And President Obama and I look forward to working with Israel’s new government.

okay now i don’t usually even browse through american propaganda websites, but for this i think it is appropriate. hillary, here, is enjoying the lie so much (you know how it is, once you get going you just can’t stop so the lie gets bigger and bigger–wouldn’t it be great if her nose grew too?) that she thinks that the new government of the zionist entity was democratically elected. but even israeli lovin’ american propaganda tells us otherwise:

In the final results, centrist Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party won 28 seats in Israel’s 120-member Knesset or parliament. Benjamin Netanyahu’s nationalistic Likud Party came in a close second with 27 seats.

so you see, actually livni’s party and not netanyahu was actually elected, but it is netanyahu who will be in power now. not that it makes any difference. as with israel’s partner in crime, in both places it matters not who is in control because as far as palestinians are concerned their lives will continue to get worse no matter who is in power.

hillary reiterated these points elsewhere today, elaborating on them, as reported in the times online:

“We happen to believe that moving towards a two-state solution is in Israel’s best interests,” Mrs Clinton said. The new administration of President Barack Obama “will be vigorously engaged” in pursuing that goal, she said.

ah, ok, so the u.s., the so-called “honest broker,” wants to act in israel’s best interests, not in palestine’s. well at least she’s being honest there. not an honest broker, but honest. just this once. don’t count on seeing any of that tomorrow when she comes to ramallah, though i so wish people would throw shoes–spiked high heels, stilettos–at her when she comes to let her know she is not welcome here. maybe we can jam her cell phone with messages telling her she is not wanted here. by the way, if you want to launch complaints, apparently you can now sms hillary:

TEXT THE SECRETARY

Text the Secretary a question about her
trip to the Middle East and Europe.
Inside U.S.: 90822
Outside U.S.: 202-255-6299
Ask a Question ONLINE | Previous Events

striking against ethnic cleansing

so apparently there is a strike today in the west bank. i found out about it only minutes after i got out of my pjs ready to go on with my day. i had a tawjihi class in balata refugee camp and then i was supposed to go to ramallah for a hip hop concert to benefit gaza. but services and taxis are hard to come by today, and apparently, shops are closed too:

West Bank cities and towns are observing a comprehensive strike following a call from the Palestinian Liberation Organization last week in protest of Israeli plans to destroy 90 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem.

Transportation and commercial services in all West Bank areas is reduced as many drivers and shop owners close-up in support of the strike called by Secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee Yasser Abed Rabbo.

In Nablus close to 60% of shops are closed. One merchant, who decided to remain open during the day-long strike explained that he decided to remain open because of several phone calls from local residents asking whether or not the shop, which sells basic dry goods, would be open so they could do weekly grocery shopping.

Another merchant, also open, said solidarity with Jerusalem should not be expressed through strikes in the West Bank, but rather by more active means. “We are ready to go to Jerusalem to protest against Israeli procedures in the city,” he said.

In Jericho nearly 90% of shops were shut, and schools with classes on Saturdays were closed.

Ramallah streets were empty with almost all commercial areas shut down. Locals reported only pharmacies, bakeries and clinics were open in the early hours of the strike.

it is not just the settlements in the silwan area of al quds, however, it is everywhere, which is why striking is an important act of solidarity. the most recent such plans for expansion of israeli terrorist colonies were recently made public:

A key Israeli government agency has been promoting plans to build thousands of new houses in illegal West Bank settlements, government documents made public on Friday show.

Documents from Israel’s Civil Administration, the government organ responsible for nonmilitary affairs in the occupied West Bank, were obtained by the organization B’Tselem through a Freedom of Information request.

The plans, developed over the last two years, were approved by the Environment Subcommittee of the Civil Administration’s planning wing and plot out a major expansion of the Gush Eztion settlement bloc. If realized the plan will cut a swath of the West Bank adjacent to the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, and annex it to the new settlement areas.

The initial construction would see 550 apartments constructed in an area beside the Allon Shevut settlement, followed by an additional 4,450. At present this area is inhabited by just 12 settler families. In neighboring Bat Ayin, currently home to 120 families, 2,000 apartments are planned.

The documents show that Ma’ale Adumim, a major settlement east of Jerusalem, has also planned to add 3,500 housing units in the E1 area, a key slice of land that, if confiscated by Israel, would slice the West Bank sliced into two zones, essentially cutting off the north from the south.

there is a great article on electronic intifada by sami abu shehadeh & fadi shbaytah about historical, current, ongoing ethnic cleansing by israeli terrorists, which was originally published in badil’s al majdal magazine. i recommend reading the entire article to get a sense how this problem in yaffa–like everywhere in palestine–continues until now, but here is an excerpt:

Zionist forces initiated a cruel siege on the city of Jaffa in March 1948. The youth of the city formed popular resistance committees to confront the assault. On 14 May 1948, the Bride of the Sea fell to the Zionist military forces; that same evening the leaders of the Zionist movement in Palestine declared the establishment of the state of Israel. Approximately 4,000 of the 120,000 Palestinians managed to remain in their city after it was militarily occupied. They were all rounded up and ghettoized in al-Ajami neighborhood which was sealed off from the rest of the city and administered as essentially a military prison for two subsequent years; the military regime under which Israel governed them lasted until 1966. During this period, al-Ajami was completely surrounded by barbed wire fencing that was patrolled by Israeli soldiers and guard dogs. It was not long before the new Jewish residents of Jaffa, and based on their experience under Nazism in Europe, began to refer to the Palestinian neighborhood as the “ghetto.”

In addition to being ghettoized, the Palestinians who remained in Jaffa had lost everything overnight: their city, their friends, their families, their property and their entire physical and social environment. Most had lost their homes as the Israeli military forced them into al-Ajami. Legislator, judge and executioner in the Ajami ghetto was the military commander; without his permission one could not enter or leave the ghetto, and rights to things like education and work were among those rights that Palestinians were denied. Arab states were classified as enemy states, and so making contact with the expelled family and friends, the refugees, was strictly prohibited. This was the nightmare lived by the Palestinians of Jaffa after the 1948 Nakba.

In the early 1950s, Jaffa was administratively engulfed by the Tel Aviv municipality that became known as Tel Aviv-Yafo; the Palestinians of Jaffa went from being a majority in their city and homeland to the two-percent “enemies of the state,” a minority of Israel’s main metropolis. The municipality immediately began drawing up plans for what they called the “Judaization” of the city, renaming the Arabic streets of the city after Zionist leaders, demolishing much of the old Arab architecture, and completely destroying the buildings in the surrounding neighborhoods and villages that were depopulated during the 1948 Nakba. The new curriculum introduced in Palestinian schools denied that the place had any Arab-Palestinian history at all, a facet of the Israeli education system that continues until today.

i think it is always important to keep in mind that this process of ethnic cleansing takes place all over palestine: in gaza, in the west bank, and in 1948 palestine. it has never ended. not for one second. sometimes it is by stealing land and forcibly removing families on that land. other times it is about mass murder, as with gaza’s samouni family. imran garda’s important new show, “focus on gaza,” on al jazeera revisits this traumatized family and explores the continuing effect of the continuing siege on gaza:

and this aggression against gaza has not ended, yet another man died due to israeli terrorist’s murderous rampage:

A Palestinian man from Gaza died on Saturday due to wounds he sustained last month during the Israeli military offensive, Palestinian medical sources reported.

Doctors said that Nihad Abu Ikmel, 29, died on Saturday at an Egyptian hospital, they added that he was send their after sustain wounds in his head.

The Israeli military offensive lasted for 22 days and ended on January 18th, it left at least 1,400 Palestinian killed and more than 6,000 injured.

you can also see the ongoing assault on gaza by watching this video from thursday night/friday morning when rafah was besieged by american-made planes and weapons in the hands of israeli terrorists:

perhaps this is why a group in argentina recently held a tribunal in which they found israeli terrorists to be guilty of genocide:

The International Tribunal of Conscience which convened in Argentine reported to the international community to the First ruling against Crimes against Genocide and on Palestinian Children in the Gaza Strip during Israeli massive offensive.

The International Tribunal of Conscience, composed of 14 prosecutors on Human Rights, 11 countries, 9 in Latin America, Africa and Asia denounces heinous crimes and the systematic advancement of infanticide against children in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli army.

The International Tribunal over the Childhood Affected by War and Poverty of the Mission Diplomatique Internationale Humanitaire RWANDA 1994 was led by its International President, Sergio Tapia and International Human Rights Prosecutor of the International Tribunal of Conscience, reported Palestine News Network.

and this is why my dear friend naji ali sees such deep comparisons between what happens here in palestine and in south africa where he grew up:

I am a product of South African apartheid. Born to a Black South African father and African American mother, I lived the first eight years of my life under one of the most racist governments in the world.

I witnessed firsthand how the White South African government—through mass arrests, dispossession, denial of freedom of movement, and targeted assassinations—tried to break the will of the people. I saw how Black South Africans and their supporters would cry out, “this is nothing short of racism and ethnic cleansing.” But the standard refrain from the government was always the same: “We are fighting against communism and terror. What we are trying to do is keep the country safe from chaos.” This was code for wanting to keep the country safe for all its white citizens. But it wasn’t merely the government that co-opted this stance. The recruitment of academics and the media also helped perpetuate the myth that the state’s majority Black population would one day try rise up and kill all the good white folks.

So for me, watching the carnage that Israel rained down upon the 1.5 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, creates an eerie sense of déjà vu….

In South Africa, parliamentary ministers gave the Israeli ambassador to South Africa, Dov Segev-Steinberg, a severe tongue-lashing, accusing his government of perpetrating “racist” abuses against the Palestinian people “that make apartheid look like a Sunday school picnic”.

The aim of this horrible conflict was to stop Hamas resistance fighters from firing rockets into southern Israel and to remove the government from power. In both attempts it is clear that Israel failed.

Israel’s attempt to justify the bombing of a UN school, from which they claimed fighters fired upon their troops, turned out to be a lie. Tens of women and children were murdered in the assault.

Israel claims to be the only democracy in the Middle East yet by a margin of 26-3, the Israeli Central Elections Committee decided to ban the Balad Party from running in the upcoming election. By a margin of 21-8, they also banned the United Arab List-Ta’al (UAL-T).

The Arab parties earned the ire of the most hawkish elements in the Israeli government by publicly opposing the war in the Gaza Strip.

The fortress that Israel had long set up to ‘protect its citizens’ is cracking.

No more can the world sit by as it did in South Africa and let the slaughter of innocents continue. No more can the narrative of any conflict begin with the ridiculously one sided statement that “Israel has a right to defend itself.” Zionist lobbies must be countered in the United States; boycott and divestment must commence; mainstream media must be challenged; and political and military leaders in Israel who have committed war crimes must be brought to justice.

We are now in the darkest days of this conflict. Israel no longer seems to care what the world thinks of its actions. Mass slaughter of innocents is seen as a justifiable means to combat terror, and Israeli leaders make no apologies for the hell that the region’s 1.5 million residents have endured. These are the same dark days, the darkest hours that I remember going through in South Africa just before the light showed through and a new dawn arose. Just like in South Africa, where Blacks can now vote, hold public office and live and go where they choose, the dawn will break for the Palestinians too. They will emerge from these dark hours.

The only question we need ask ourselves now is how long will the dark days remain? 

and because of these egregious parallels to apartheid, because of this ongoing ethnic cleansing project, there is yet another company you all should add to your boycott list NOW…Lego:

Denmark’s ambassador to Israel, Liselotte Plesner, visited Sderot on Tuesday to take part in a celebration – held in a fortified pre-school – to honor a generous contribution by the LEGO group to WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organization) pre-schools.

The LEGO group contributed two large containers holding a thousand boxes of ‘duplos’ – large-sized Lego blocks. The Danish toys will be distributed among 170 WIZO pre-schools across Israel and particularly to the 35 pre-schools located in southern communities, where residents are still suffering from rocket-fire.

for those of you who have children who love this toy, i ask you to do something that will benefit your child far more than any plastic toy will do: work to make toys with your child. use fond object with which your child can build things. you will foster creativity in your child and you will help them to become mechanical and creative at the same time.

i want tulkarem to be my valentine

in an article in electronic intifada the other day, the always politically astute ali abunimah offered his assessment of the rising fascism in the zionist entity:

Yisrael Beitenu’s manifesto was that 1.5 million Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel (indigenous survivors or descendants of the Palestinian majority ethnically cleansed in 1948 ) be subjected to a loyalty oath. If they don’t swear allegiance to the “Jewish state” they would lose their citizenship and be forced from the land of their birth, joining millions of already stateless Palestinians in exile or in Israeli-controlled ghettos. In a move instigated by Lieberman but supported by Livni’s allegedly “centrist” Kadima, the Knesset recently voted to ban Arab parties from participating in elections. Although the high court overturned it in time for the vote, it is an ominous sign of what may follow.

Lieberman, who previously served as deputy prime minister, has a long history of racist and violent incitement. Prior to Israel’s recent attack, for example, he demanded Israel subject Palestinians to the brutal and indiscriminate violence Russia used in Chechyna. He also called for Arab Knesset members who met with officials from Hamas to be executed.

But it’s too easy to make him the bogeyman. Israel’s narrow political spectrum now consists at one end of the former “peace camp” that never halted the violent expropriation of Palestinian land for Jewish settlements and boasts with pride of the war crimes in Gaza, and at the other, a surging far-right whose “solutions” vary from apartheid to outright ethnic cleansing.

What does not help is brazen western hypocrisy. Already the US State Department spokesman affirmed that the Obama administration would work with whatever coalition emerged from Israel’s “thriving democracy” and promised that the US would not interfere in Israel’s “internal politics.” Despite US President Barack Obama’s sweet talk about a new relationship with the Arab world, few will fail to notice the double standard. In 2006, Hamas won a democratic election in the occupied territories, observed numerous unilateral or agreed truces that were violated by Israel, offered Israel a generation-long truce to set the stage for peace, and yet it is still boycotted by the US and European Union.

Worse, the US sponsored a failed coup against Hamas and continues to arm and train the anti-Hamas militias of Mahmoud Abbas, whose term as Palestinian Authority president expired on 9 January. As soon as he took office, Obama reaffirmed this boycott of Palestinian democracy.

The clearest message from Israel’s election is that no Zionist party can solve Israel’s basic conundrum and no negotiations will lead to a two-state solution. Israel could only be created as a “Jewish state” by the forced removal of the non-Jewish majority Palestinian population. As Palestinians once again become the majority in a country that has defied all attempts at partition, the only way to maintain Jewish control is through ever more brazen violence and repression of resistance (see Gaza). Whatever government emerges is certain to preside over more settlement-building, racial discrimination and escalating violence.

There are alternatives that have helped end what once seemed like equally intractable and bloody conflicts: a South African-style one-person one-vote democracy, or Northern Ireland-style power-sharing. Only under a democratic system according rights to all the people of the country will elections have the power to transform people’s futures.

But Israel today is lurching into open fascism. It is utterly disingenuous to continue to pretend — as so many do — that its failed and criminal leaders hold the key to getting out of the morass. Instead of waiting for them to form a coalition, we must escalate the international civil society campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions to force Israelis to choose a saner path.

abunimah references lieberman’s desire to execute palestinians living in 1948 palestine who he deems “disloyal.” azmi bishara was one of those people subjected to this racist agenda as he wrote a couple of years ago:

During my years in the Knesset, the attorney general indicted me for voicing my political opinions (the charges were dropped), lobbied to have my parliamentary immunity revoked and sought unsuccessfully to disqualify my political party from participating in elections — all because I believe Israel should be a state for all its citizens and because I have spoken out against Israeli military occupation. Last year, Cabinet member Avigdor Lieberman — an immigrant from Moldova — declared that Palestinian citizens of Israel “have no place here,” that we should “take our bundles and get lost.” After I met with a leader of the Palestinian Authority from Hamas, Lieberman called for my execution.

unfortunately there are also american jews who support this kind of thinking (and who also distort what libeberman actually calls for) that led to bishara’s exile:

But the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that is quick to spot instances of discrimination, says Lieberman is right to be concerned about apparent acts of disloyalty by Israeli Arabs.

Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director, noted with concern the trips by Arab Israeli Knesset members to enemy states and expressions of solidarity with Hamas by Israeli Arabs during Israel’s recent military operation in the Gaza Strip.

and for those who think that israeli colonists reserve their racism just for palestinians, a reminder of how their racism is also directed against its ethiopian citizens:

In a conversation the real estate agent had with A., the owner of one of the building’s apartments, A. asked about the potential buyers. When he heard that they were Ethiopian immigrants, he replied, “Out of the question… This is unacceptable in my apartment.

“Excuse me, but there are no Ethiopians in this area at all, and there won’t be any. This is our policy. I have no problem with them living somewhere else… Anyone can come, but not Ethiopians. This is how it is in the entire building, at least I hope it is, in order to preserve the apartment’s value and the building’s value.”

but back to the that saner path of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (bds), which is picking up so much steam every day that it is difficult to keep track. even in jordan there is a boycott campaign that seems to be gaining momentum. but perhaps the most significant news comes from hampshire college in the u.s. which just received the honor of being the first american university to divest from the israeli terrorist, colonialist state:

Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, has become the first of any college or university in the U.S. to divest from companies on the grounds of their involvement in the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

This landmark move is a direct result of a two-year intensive campaign by the campus group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The group pressured Hampshire College’s Board of Trustees to divest from six specific companies due to human rights concerns in occupied Palestine. Over 800 students, professors, and alumni have signed SJP’s “institutional statement” calling for the divestment.

The proposal put forth by SJP was approved on Saturday, 7 Feb 2009 by the Board. By divesting from these companies, SJP believes that Hampshire has distanced itself from complicity in the illegal occupation and war crimes of Israel.

Meeting minutes from a committee of Hampshire’s Board of Trustees confirm that “President Hexter acknowledged that it was the good work of SJP that brought this issue to the attention of the committee.” This groundbreaking decision follows in Hampshire’s history of being the first college in the country to divest from apartheid South Africa thirty-two years ago, a decision based on similar human rights concerns. This divestment was also a direct result of student pressure.

The divestment has so far been endorsed by Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Rashid Khalidi, Vice President of the EU Parliament Luisa Morganitini, Cynthia McKinney, former member of the African National Congress Ronnie Kasrils, Mustafa Barghouti, Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, John Berger, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, among others.

The six corporations, all of which provide the Israeli military with equipment and services in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza are: Caterpillar, United Technologies, General Electric, ITT Corporation, Motorola, and Terex (see above link for info sheet for more information on these corporations.) Furthermore, our policy prevents the reinvestment in any company involved in the illegal occupation.

there is a larger context for hampshire college taking the lead in the u.s. as they were also the first to divest from south africa when it was under its apartheid regime:

Hampshire played a similar leading role in the struggle against apartheid South Africa. In 1977, students in the Committee for the Liberation of Southern Africa occupied the college’s administrative offices. They won their demands, and Hampshire became the first U.S. college to divest from apartheid South Africa.

By 1982, similar struggles won divestment at other colleges and universities, including the nearby Umass Amherst, the University of Wisconsin, Ohio State University and the entire University of California system (which withdrew $3 billion in investments). By 1988, over 150 institutions had divested from South Africa.

By the end of the 1980s, as well, dozens of cities, states and towns across the U.S. had put in place some form of economic sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa. Inspired by the resistance of Black South Africans, the U.S. movement pressured Congress to pass (over a veto by President Ronald Reagan) sanctions against the racist regime. The solidarity movements around the world provided important support to the struggle of Black South Africans that defeated apartheid.

Hampshire College’s role in the campus anti-apartheid movement was an inspiration and a tool for SJP’s movement for divestment from corporations that support Israeli apartheid, according to SJP member Brian Van Slyke. “That Hampshire was the first college to divest from apartheid South Africa was really a rallying cry for us on this campus,” he said.

the students at the university of rochester will hopefully follow suit, though their recent sit-in at their institution, like those in the u.k., had limited demands. here is what one of the organizers says about their solidarity sit-in with gaza:

Kyle: (LIke Ryan and Adriano said) SDS at UR organized an occupation of Goergen Atrium and Auditorium on campus in solidarity with Gaza. Beforehand, they had presented the administration with an official letter demanding that UR divest from corporations that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestine, and to provide direct aid to the people of Gaza. This wasn’t an occupation like the illegal sit-down strikes of 1930’s because the campus administration allowed SDS to reserve the building in the interest of “peaceful dialogue”. They also provided the Dean of Student Affairs for negotiation of the demands.

As the day went on, the Dean informed the organizers that UR students would be punished if not out of the building by midnight. So we decided to call for as many campus and community members to mobilize around that time as possible to put as much pressure on the Dean as possible to deliver on our demands.

The Dean agreed to negotiate at 10pm and we had maybe 75 people in the building for support. Through the negotiations, the Dean agreed to the following plan of action: that the administration organize a public forum with UR investors, SDS and the community on the university’s investment policy and its investment in Israel; that UR commit resources and provide any needed information for a campus-wide fund drive for Palestine; that UR work to assess needs in Gaza and donate surplus supplies to universities, such as computers and books; and that UR commit to reaching out to Palestinians with international student scholarships.

Feb 6th was a day of education, debate and mobilization. It was a concrete show of solidarity with the people of Gaza and protest against Israel’s occupation. It was a concrete demonstration of real democratic decision-making and flexibility.

and at the university of manchester students made some headway with their occupation of their university in support of palestinians:

On Wednesday 11th Feb the University of Manchester Students Union passed a motion in support of the people of Gaza, which includes a resolve to boycott Israel, in an emergency general meeting . The meeting, which was attended by over 1000 students, was called in response to the crisis in Gaza. It follows a week long occupation of University of Manchester buildings by students. The University of Manchester Students Union is the biggest in Western Europe, and is also the first western students union to pass a motion includes an out and out boycott of Israel.

The policy that was passed compared Israel to apartheid South Africa and supported the global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement. It called for the Union to divest from Israel, boycotting all companies which support or benefit from the Israeli occupation, and to lobby the University to adopt a similar boycott policy towards Israel. The motion also condemned the University for its lack of progress in divesting from arms companies. Following the meeting the union will send a letter to the BBC condemning their refusal to air the Disaster Emergency Committees (DEC) appeal for Gaza, as well as facilitating a day of fundraising with proceeds going to the DEC.

a note on some of these occupations of british universities: many of them came into existence as a way to protest the israeli terrorist aggression on gaza. as a result so much of their language is rooted in solidarity with gaza, which is great. but the recent attacks on gaza cannot be separated from the attacks on palestinians more generally and the colonial project that has been going on for over 60 years. while we certainly need to lend our support to palestinians in gaza, the bds movement is about liberating palestine in general, not just gaza. only then will we justice be rendered. it is also problematic when some boycott campaigns fixate on particular companies that are only being boycotted because they are operating in colonies in the west bank; there are many others that have factories on the land of destroyed villages in 1948–like nestle (osem)–that need to be boycotted as well:

Now for the challenge. I want all of you to boycott Nestle, all their products and find substitutes. Post the substitutes you find on the wall. We can help each other. Second everyone is to find three friends and convince them to join the challenge. Do not just forward this message, people ignore them, I know I do sometimes. And ask them to be honest if they are going to join or not. If 2 out of the three will join you need to find a third friend. And you have these friends convince at least 3 friends. Try to find friends around the world to join the boycott. The more people and countries involved the better.

And we obviously have to let Nestle know we are boycotting them. There will be a draft letter on the discussion board to be sent to Nestle.

Valentine’s Day and Easter is when companies make the most money from chocolate sales. They depend on this money for the rest of the year. The power is ours. Buy Cadbury Easter eggs, Caramilk bars, etc… Let’s win this challenge.

Palestine is crying for our help. Will you answer the call?

Letter to be sent to Nestle:

Dear Mr. Paul Bulcke,

I write with reference to Nestle’s continued support for Israeli apartheid.

By Nestle’s investments in Israel it is directly helping perpetuate gross violations of human rights upon Palestinians. I urgently request you to reconsider your support for a state that has a track record of persistent abuse of basic human rights, by henceforth, divesting your holdings from Israel.

In the meantime, I will have no alternative but to boycott your products, and encourage others to do so. I look forward to receiving your assurances that you will no longer be investing and, thus supporting, Israeli apartheid.

Regards,

To send this letter to Nestle, use this link.
http://www.nestle.com/Common/Header/ContactUs.htm?CTY=BF2F535E-5671-443B-AE7A-98652690816D

A website to show you what Nestle goods to boycott. It’s broken down by country for ease of use. Together we can do this!!!

http://www.infactcanada.ca/nestle_boycott_product.htm

http://www.nestleusa.com/PubOurBrands/Brands.aspx

indeed it is valentine’s day tomorrow–another holiday i loathe for its hyper consumption among other reasons–but i approve of valentine’s day related activities that surround boycott and there are a few, starting with blood diamond boycotting:

Fifty-five New York rights advocates called today on the city’s shoppers to boycott Israeli diamond mogul and settlement-builder Lev Leviev. The pre-Valentine’s Day protest was the 13th demonstration held in front of Leviev’s Madison Avenue jewelry store since it opened in November, 2007. Many New York shoppers paused to look at the heart-shaped signs and a Dating Game skit featuring a protester playing Leviev, and to listen to the noisy chants and the song “Lev’s Diamonds are a Crime’s Best Friend.”

The protesters oppose Leviev’s construction of Israeli settlements on Occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law, as well as his abuses of marginalized communities in Angola, Namibia and New York. Riham Barghouti of Adalah-NY explained, “The campaign to boycott Leviev is part of a growing international movement to boycott Israeli businesses due to their involvement in human rights abuses. We had more people protesting today and the boycott movement is growing worldwide due to outrage over Israel’s attack on Gaza, which killed approximately 1300 Palestinians, over 400 of whom were children.”

or this action protesting flowers from israeli colonists:

Two days before Valentine’s Day a group of 15 women have locked themselves to the gates of Israeli export company Carmel Agrexco to stop the delivery of Valentine’s roses.

The flowers are grown in illegal settlements on Palestinian land and therefore constitute illegally traded goods. The women say that they will blockade Carmel Agrexco until they are cut from the gates and arrested. Three women have already been violently arrested.

okay, one caveat on the valentine’s day thing: if the flowers come from falasteen, especially gaza right now, i approve:

Israel has made a pre-Valentine’s Day gesture by allowing 25,000 carnations to cross the border in the first exports permitted from blockaded Gaza in a year. But the shipment through the Kerem Shalom crossing was condemned as a “propaganda” move by Gaza growers used to exporting 37 to 40 million carnations a year and are unlikely to reach Europe in time to be sold in shops tomorrow.

but yet another valentine’s day (indeed every day) boycott we should participate in is related to the united states’ modern-day slave labor in its prison system where they make lingerie (among other products) that many consumers will likely be purchasing for valentine’s day:

With Valentine’s Day approaching, perhaps you’re planning a trip to Victoria’s Secret. If you’re a conscientious shopper, chances are you want to know about the origins of the clothes you buy: whether they’re sweatshop free or fairly traded or made in the USA. One label you won’t find attached to your lingerie, however, is “Made in the USA: By Prisoners.”

In addition to the South Carolina inmates who were hired by a subcontractor in the 1990s to stitch Victoria’s Secret lingerie, prisoners in the past two decades have packaged or assembled everything from Starbucks coffee beans to Shelby Cobra sports cars, Nintendo Game Boys, Microsoft mouses and Eddie Bauer clothing. Inmates manning phone banks have taken airline reservations and even made calls on behalf of political candidates.

the best news to come out about boycott this week, however, i must say comes from the city of tulkarem, which is a bit north of where i live. they have taken the moral high ground to boycott israeli goods as a city. here in nablus we are still struggling to remove their products from an najah university, though of course our goal is to remove them from the city at large. i am elated at this recent development:

The city of Tulkarem will begin a total boycott of Israeli goods starting March, the chamber of commerce announced Thursday.

The chamber, in conjunction with several local merchants and organizations, decided to launch the campaign, called “Keeping Tulkarem Clean of Israeli Goods.” The city will have assistance in organizing popular awareness of the efforts from coordinators from the popular anti-wall campaigns including Jamal Jum’ah.

Member of the local coordination committee Jamal Barham stressed the importance of unifying efforts to ensure the success of the campaign. This will include helping shop owners identify non-Israeli goods to replace common items like milk, flour, juice and chocolate.

The goal of the Tulkarem project is to increase the production of Palestinian goods from supplying 15% to 25% of consumer goods in Palestinian areas. They anticipate that this jump will provide at least 100,000 jobs in the production sectors.

Palestine is the second largest consumer of Israeli goods and imports 2.6 billion US dollars of Israeli made products per year.

this news from tulkarem is making me rethink the whole valentine’s day thing. i’m wondering if i can ask a city to be my valentine.

for those who feel inspired by this onslaught of bds movement i encourage you to read below and organize some sort of action for the global bds day on march 30th:

Join the Global BDS Action Day, March 30th

launched at the WSF 2009 in Belém

In December 2008, Israel decided to mark the 60th anniversary of its existence the same way it had established itself, perpetrating massacres against the Palestinian people. In 23 days, Israel killed more than 1,300 and injured over 5,000 Palestinians in Gaza. The irony of history is that Israel targeted those Palestinians and their descendants – whom it had expelled from their homes and pushed into refugee-hood in Gaza in 1948, whose land it has stolen, whom it has oppressed since 1967 by means of a brutal military occupation, and whom it had tried to starve into submission by means of a criminal blockade of food, fuel and electricity in the 18 months preceding the military assault. We cannot wait for Israel to zero in on its next objective. Palestine has today become the test of our indispensable morality and our common humanity.

We therefore call on all to unite our different capacities and struggles in a Global Day of Action in Solidarity with the Palestinian people and for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel on March 30th.

The mobilization coincides with the Palestinian Land Day, the annual commemoration of the 1976 Israeli massacre of Palestinians in the Galilee in struggle against massive land expropriation, and forms part of the Global Week of Action against the Crises and War from March 28 to April 4.

We urge the people and their organizations around the globe to mobilize in concrete and visible BDS actions to make this day a historic step in this new anti-apartheid movement and for the fulfilment of the rights and dignity of the people and the accountability of the powerful. In our March 30th BDS actions, we will particularly focus on:

* Boycotts and divestment from Israeli corporations and international corporations that sustain Israeli apartheid and occupation.

* Legal action to end Israel’s impunity and prosecute its war criminals through national court cases and international tribunals.

* Cancelling and blocking free trade and other preferential agreements with Israel and imposing an arms embargo as the first steps towards fully fledged sanctions against Israel.

The time for the world to fully adopt and implement the Palestinian call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions is NOW. This campaign has to become an urgent part of every struggle for justice and humanity, by adopting widespread action against Israeli products, companies, academic and cultural institutions, sports groups, international corporations supporting Israeli policies of racism, ethnic cleansing and military occupation and pressuring governments for sanctions. It must be sustained until Israel provides free access to Gaza, dismantles the Apartheid Wall and ends its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands; recognizes the right of the Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and respects, protects and promotes the rights of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties.

For more information, see: www.bdsmovement.net

For information on how to join the action day and how to develop BDS action in your country, organization and network, please contact the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) at: info [at] bdsmovement.net.

just one request for those who choose to take the moral highground and participate not only in a day of boycott action on march 30th but who change their daily behaviors as a result of the boycott: we must do this in response to the totality of israeli terrorist colonialism on every square inch of the land that is palestine, not just what people call “occupation” unless they mean all of historic palestine. all of palestine is occupied and this is what the bds movement should seek to end.

the bomb & the ballot & the boycott

arab-cartoon-israeli-election-campaign

my friend omar sent out an email with his assessment of the israeli elections yesterday. i think it is quite smart and apt. he lays out the reality of the situation in spite of the media–even al jazeera–using ridiculous words like “hardline” or “ultra nationalist” or “center” to describe the extreme racist and fascist political parties, all of which participate in their colonial terrorist project in palestine. as’ad has this to say about the american media rhetoric about israeli elections:

It is quite hilarious to watch American media references to the Israeli elections and the competing parties. So if a fascist party is competing with an ultra-fascist party, they make the fascist party “a centrist” or “moderate”. The beyond-fascist party of Lieberman is described merely as “right-wing” in the New York Times. Do people know that the the party of Lieberman is more popular in Israel than the the Labor party–not that the Labor party does not share the same racism and terrorist ideology that penetrate deep into the various parties of Zionism. But Kadima (which is described as “centrist” in Wikipedia) and Likud both are descendants of revisionist Zionism and the ideas of Vladimir Jabotinsky who believed that a nation is defined by its “racial recipe”. But note how US media struggle to beautify the ugliness of Israeli politics (and wars).

and here is what omar says:

According to the almost official results of the Israeli elections, reproduced below, the fanatic-to-fascist right was the biggest winner in Israel. A proper death certificate for the Israeli Zionist “left” should finally be issued — 61 years late!

Here is a breakdown of the results for all Israeli parties, categorized into groups according to their respective positions towards international law and basic human rights. Only these universal criteria should be used in Israel and anywhere else to decide who is right, who is left and who is ultra right, etc. The common Israeli designations of “left,” “right” and “center” to describe Labor, Likud and Kadima, respectively, are completely inaccurate and intentionally misleading, as they steer away from any objective criteria in distinguishing left from right. Still, unfortunately, these meaningless Israeli labels are parroted, verbatim, by commentators, even progressive ones, without any reflection on their accuracy or relevance.

By any objective standard, the election results must reveal the following accurate categories:

Ultra Right: (parties that openly adopt racist or fascist platforms calling for forcible displacement, or ethnic cleansing, of the indigenous Palestinian citizens of Israel, based on diverse conditions that depend on the specific party in question; justify and/or commit war crimes and grave violations of international law; reject UN resolutions and international law as THE basis for a just peace; reject all three basic Palestinian rights enshrined in international law: (1) FULLY ending the occupation and withdrawing to the 1967 borders, as per UNSC Res. 242, including withdrawal from occupied east Jerusalem; (2) the UN-sanctioned rights of the refugees to reparations and return to their homes of origin; and (3) the right to full equality inside Israel and ending institutional racism against all “non-Jewish” citizens of the state):

Yisrael Beitenu: 15 Knesset seats
National Union: 4
Shas: 11
Jewish Home: 3
Likud: 27
Kadima: 28
—————————
TOTAL (Ultra right): 88 seats (73% of the total seats in the Knesset or 80% of Jewish seats in the Knesset)

Right: (parties that conform to the Ultra-Right principles above with the exception of calling openly for ethnic cleansing as a political platform. There are exceptions, of course, whereby several key Labor leaders have occasionally called for ethnic cleansing, but it was not translated into part of their program or a consistent policy, unlike the parties of the Ultra-Right above)

Labor: 13
United Torah Judaism: 5
Meretz: 3
—————————-
TOTAL (Right): 21 seats (16% of total or 19% of Jewish seats)

Center: (parties that support a FULL withdrawal from the 1967-occupied territory, but oppose equality for all the citizens of the state and the right of return. It may be generous to call them center, but …)

NONE

Left: (parties that support a FULL withdrawal from the 1967-occupied territory, equality for all the citizens of the state, and the right of return. These parties are committed to a two-state peaceful solution based on international law and universal human rights principles)

United Arab List: 4 (an entirely Palestinian party — politically on the left, but socially on the right)
Hadash (communists): 4 (note that less than 1% of Israeli-Jews voted for it, so it can statistically be regarded as a Palestinian party)
Balad (national democrats): 3 (entirely Palestinian)
—————————–
TOTAL (Left): 11 seats (9% of total)

It is very important to note that, from initial news reports, it seems that half the Palestinian public in Israel BOYCOTTED the elections, the widest such boycott in history. This means that all the above Palestinian parties represent less than half of the Palestinian voters in Israel!

Main conclusions:

(1) The Israeli Jewish public has voted predominantly for the ultra right (including a huge increase in support for the fascist right)

(2) The Israeli Jewish (Zionist) left does not exist (as predicted) as a political force in Israel

(3) The ONLY left parties in Israel are entirely Palestinian

(4) There is a Jewish consensus in Israel (with the exception of a few brave, principled individuals and tiny anti-Zionist groups) AGAINST all the basic requirements for a just peace as laid out in UN resolutions and supported by most world governments

(5) For the first time in the history of Knesset elections, it is reported that Palestinian voters have shunned Zionist parties to an unprecedented level, opting for Palestinian parties instead.

What’s to be done?

A paradigm shift from the defunct, immoral, and now impossible, two-state solution to the democratic, single state solution is NOW called for more than ever. Only by rejecting all forms of racism, apartheid, ethnocentrism, religious fundamentalism and colonialism, and by embracing FULL equality and democracy, including the right of return of the refugees, can we create a just and sustainable peace.

The call for a two-state solution has truly become a smokescreen to cover up and legitimize continued occupation, colonization and Zionist apartheid.

all i have to say to that is: word!

to see what an israeli thinks of the mainstreaming of israeli racism and fascism you should read gideon levy’s take on the election (though he write this a couple of days ago):

Now the instigator of the new Israeli racism will apparently become the leader of a large party once again in the government. Benjamin Netanyahu has already pledged that Lieberman will be an “important minister” in his government. If someone like Lieberman were to join a government in Europe, Israel would sever ties with it. If anyone had predicted in Kahane’s day that a pledge to turn his successor into an important minister would one day be considered an electoral asset here, they would have been told they were having a nightmare.

But the nightmare is here and now. Kahane is alive and kicking – is he ever – in the person of his thuggish successor. This is not just a matter of disqualifying Yisrael Beiteinu; it is not even a matter of this party’s growing strength to terrifying proportions, becoming the fulcrum that will decide who becomes prime minister. This is a matter of legitimization. All society bears responsibility for it.

Kahane was ostracized; Lieberman is a welcome guest in every living room and television studio. Imagine: Ehud Barak does not rule out a coalition with him; Uzi Landau, considered a “democrat,” is now Lieberman’s number two; a former senior ambassador and a retired police major general also adorn the list. Did we know that Israel was being represented in Washington by an avowed racist in the person of Daniel Ayalon? Did we know that former Border Police chief and deputy police commissioner Yitzhak Aharonovich was one, too? They have come out of the closet, these racists, breaking out of the heart of the establishment to the despicable right, and the attitude toward them has not changed a bit.

Lieberman and his soldiers are borne on the tides of hatred for Arabs, hatred of democracy and the rule of law, and the stink of nationalism, racism and bloodthirstiness. These have turned, horrifically, into the hottest electoral assets on the market. Like all others of his political ilk, he cynically fans these base urges, particularly among the weaker classes, the rejected, the poor and the immigrants. But not just there. Many young people, among them brainwashed soldiers, will give him their vote, and no one ostracizes them. He chose an easy, relatively weak target, Israel’s Arabs, and sets his supporters on them. But his doctrine has seeped in much deeper than that.

Lieberman is the voice of the mob, and the mob craves hatred, vengeance and bloodshed. A useless war in which hundreds of children were killed was received here sympathetically, if not happily. The parties from the right and center have tried to disqualify the Arab parties; these lists are also excluded ahead of time in every political calculation. And Arab students cannot rent an apartment.

of course the united states jumps at the chance to work with “any government” formed in the zionist entity regardless of whether it is racist or fascist. in europe, people are not so sure and are alarmed at the rise of the right wing and fascism in the zionist terrorist state. perhaps they remember what colonialism and fascism breed as this is a european invention. but barack obama and his administration will work with such people. and as intelligent as he is, he dodged a very pointed question from helen thomas yesterday at a press conference about the only country in the region to house nuclear weapons:

of course, we know from mordechai vanunu and others that it is israel that harbors nuclear weapons. and grant smith explains that obama’s evasion and refusal to deal with thomas’ question enables u.s. to violate its own laws:

Fortunately, Americans don’t need Barack Obama to “speculate” on what former President Jimmy Carter already confirmed on May 25, 2008: Israel possesses an arsenal of at least 150 nuclear weapons. Why does Obama trot out the discredited policy of “strategic ambiguity” – in which Israeli and U.S. officials officially refuse to confirm or deny the existence Israeli nuclear weapons – at this early moment? For one reason alone: to break the law. The 1976 Symington Amendment prohibits most U.S. foreign aid to any country found trafficking in nuclear enrichment equipment or technology outside international safeguards. Israel has never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). If U.S. presidents complied with the Symington Amendment, they would not deliver yearly aid packages to Israel totaling billions of dollars. Presidents make-believe that Israeli nuclear weapons don’t exist so Congress can legally continue shoveling the lion’s share of the U.S. foreign aid budget to Israel. But this thin pretense is now over. Since Carter’s revelation, press outlets such as Reuters chat openly about how Israeli’s nukes mean that it does not qualify for U.S. aid. But like Harry Markopolos incessantly nagging the SEC about Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, fourth-estate and nuclear-activist calls for compliance continue to be rebuffed by government agencies. Denying Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests about Israeli nukes has always been an integral tactic in preserving this hoary old ruse.

john pilger knows who the real terrorists are and is clear on what obama’s evasions and silences will mean for the region:

What the childish fawning over Obama obscures is the dark power assembled under cover of America’s first “post-racial president”. Apart from the US, the world’s most dangerous state is demonstrably Israel, having recently killed and maimed some 4,000 people in Gaza with impunity. On 10 February, a bellicose Israeli electorate is likely to put Binyamin Netanyahu into power. Netanyahu is a fanatic’s fanatic who has made clear his intention of attacking Iran. In the Wall Street Journal on 24 January, he described Iran as the “terrorist mother base” and justified the murder of civilians in Gaza because “Israel cannot accept an Iranian terror base (Gaza) next to its major cities”. On 31 January, unaware he was being filmed, Israel’s ambassador in Australia described the massacres in Gaza as a “pre-introduction” – dress rehearsal – for an attack on Iran.

For Netanyahu, the reassuring news is that Obama’s administration is the most Zionist in living memory – a truth that has struggled to be told from beneath the soggy layers of Obama-love. Not a single member of Obama’s team demurred from Obama’s support for Israel’s barbaric actions in Gaza. Obama himself likened the safety of his two young daughters with that of Israeli children while making not a single reference to the thousands of Palestinian children killed with American weapons – a violation of both international and US law. He did, however, demand that the people of Gaza be denied “smuggled” small arms with which to defend themselves against the world’s fourth largest military power. And he paid tribute to the Arab dictatorships, such as Egypt, which are bribed by the US Treasury to help the US and Israel enforce policies described by the United Nations Rapporteur, Richard Falk, a Jew, as “genocidal”.

It is time the Obama lovers grew up. It is time those paid to keep the record straight gave us the opportunity to debate informatively. In the 21st century, people power remains a huge and exciting and largely untapped force for change, but it is nothing without truth. “In the time of universal deceit,” wrote George Orwell, “telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

all of these israeli terrorist leaders who will be running the next colonial government there are war criminals–like all of their predecessors. but the difference now is that there is movement on prosecuting them at the hague as conn hallinan explains in his article “gaza: death laboratory”:

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann would coordinate the defense of any soldier or commander charged with a war crime. In any case, the United States would veto any effort by the UN Security Council to refer Israelis to the International Court at The Hague.

But, as the Financial Times points out, “all countries have an obligation to search out those accused of ‘grave’ breaches of the rules of war and to put them on trial or extradite them to a country that will.”

That was the basis under which the British police arrested Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998.

“We’re in a seismic shift in international law,” Amnesty International legal advisor Christopher Hall told the Financial Times, who says Israel’s foreign ministry is already examining the risk to Israelis who travel abroad.

“It’s like walking across the street against a red light,” he says. “The risk may be low, but you’re going to think twice before committing a crime or traveling if you have committed one.”

the national lawyer’s guild recently returned to the u.s. from their fact-finding mission in gaza and have reported on their findings of israeli terrorist war crimes. here is another one of the many war crimes israeli terrorists committed in gaza as the extraordinary barbara lubin reports:

It’s not so far from from what you reported because the victims are the same…the story happened in Bourij Camp in the middle of the Gaza Strip. The Israelis called the woman Manal Albatran and told her that they wouldn’t kill her or her husband Hussein Albatran, instead they would make them die of sadness because they would kill her children. The next day they shot her house with a rocket killing her and 5 of her children.

The dead:

Manal Albatran 30 years old
Walaa Albatran 12 years old
Islam Albatran 11 years old
Belal Albatran 10 years old
Ezzeldin Albatran 8 years old
Ehsan Albatran 7 years old

The father who is an employee at an UNRWA school and the youngest child were saved.

i could go on and on for pages and pages documenting these war crimes. you can also hear an excellent report on flashpoints about the imminent war crimes trial facing israeli terrorist leaders. but the crimes continue through the trauma that plagues palestinians in gaza who still do not feel safe. i wonder if or when they ever will.

while we wait for these people to be served justice the boycott continues to grow every day:

in sweden a sports boycott seems to be emerging:

Between 6-8 March the Swedish national team in tennis will face off against Israel in Malmo, Sweden. We cannot accept this. We demand that the Swedish Tennis Federation act in accordance with the rules of the Swedish National Association of Sports concerning international sports competitions:

“Sports exchange in the form of competition or event shall not take place if a country which in sports-related issues is guilty of discrimination against anyone because of ethnic origins, gender, sexuality, handicap, religion or political commitment or if a country is the object for a binding UN-sanction.”

Through the ongoing occupation Israel is denying the Palestinian people the right to live in peace and to practice sports. Therefore we are demanding: no sports exchange with an occupation force – stop the war and boycott Israel!

We demand that the match shall be stopped. We don´t want Israel to play in the Davis Cup 6-8 mars in Malmö, Sweden.

in brussels it seems as if a cultural boycott needs to be in the works:

An exhibit titled “The White City Tel Aviv”, which was set to open in Brussels next week, has been postponed by the Belgian organizers in response to IDF’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

The hosts – the board of directors of the International Centre for Urbanism, Architecture and Landscape (CIVA) – informed the Tel Aviv Municipality three days ago of their decision to postpone the exhibit due to their belief that it would be “better appreciated at a different time.”

and mauritania closed its israeli embassy:

The head of Mauritania’s military junta says the West African country has closed its embassy in Israel.

Gen. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz made the announcement late Tuesday.

in ireland trade unionists are launching a boycott campaign:

Trade unionists are to launch a boycott of Israeli goods as part of a major campaign to secure a peaceful settlement in the Middle East, Stormont heard today.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) launched a report on Israel and Palestine compiled by senior members who visited the troubled region.

and in new york adalah continues its protest against leviev diamonds:

Fifty-five New York rights advocates called today on the city’s shoppers to boycott Israeli diamond mogul and settlement-builder Lev Leviev. The pre-Valentine’s Day protest was the 13th demonstration held in front of Leviev’s Madison Avenue jewelry store since it opened in November, 2007. Many New York shoppers paused to look at the heart-shaped signs and a Dating Game skit featuring a protester playing Leviev, and to listen to the noisy chants and the song “Lev’s Diamonds are a Crime’s Best Friend.”

The protesters oppose Leviev’s construction of Israeli settlements on Occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law, as well as his abuses of marginalized communities in Angola, Namibia and New York. Riham Barghouti of Adalah-NY explained, “The campaign to boycott Leviev is part of a growing international movement to boycott Israeli businesses due to their involvement in human rights abuses. We had more people protesting today and the boycott movement is growing worldwide due to outrage over Israel’s attack on Gaza, which killed approximately 1300 Palestinians, over 400 of whom were children.”

democracy?

by the most basic definition of democracy, the israeli terrorist state is not one:

a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives

here’s a hint: a state cannot be both jewish and democratic. it is an oxymoron. most of the news here right now is about the upcoming israeli terrorist elections. here is a report by mike hanna on al jazeera. pay close attention to what samieh jabbarin says in the interview:

i think that samieh is right that for a people who are relegated to fourth-class “citizenship” at best should absolutely boycott elections. as should palestinians in the west bank and gaza boycott palestinian elections here. it doesn’t matter whether or not there are democratic elections here–there are–but what matters is that having an elected body under occupation, under colonialism is not possible (same goes for iraq and afghanistan, too, of course). by definition it becomes a puppet regime serving the colonial forces–both the israeli and american terrorist regimes. this is why a dear friend of mine says that we need a dual-intifada: one against the palestinian authority and one against the zionist entity. here is what the always insightful joseph massad has to say in electronic intifada the other day:

West Bank-based Palestinian intellectuals, like their liberal counterparts across the Arab world, have been active in the last several years in demonizing Hamas as the force of darkness in the region. These intellectuals (among whom liberal secular Christians, sometimes referred to derisively in Ramallah circles as “the Christian Democratic Party,” are disproportionately represented) are mostly horrified that if Hamas came to power, it would ban alcohol. Assuming Hamas would enact such a regulation on the entire population were it to rule a liberated Palestine in some undetermined future, these intellectuals are the kind of intellectuals who prefer an assured collaborating dictatorship with a glass of scotch to a potentially resisting democracy without. This is not to say that Hamas will institute democratic governance necessarily; but if democratically elected, as it has been, it must be given the chance to demonstrate its commitments to democratic rule, which it now promises — something all these comprador intellectuals were willing to give to Fatah, and continue to extend to the movement after it established a dictatorship. Indeed, much of the repression that took place in the West Bank during the carnage in Gaza had been legitimized by the ongoing efforts of these intellectuals just as they previously legitimized the “peace process” launched by the Oslo Accords and during which Israel continued its massive colonization of Palestinian land while the PA suppressed any resistance. The scene in the West Bank, except for Hebron, was indeed a scandal. Arab capitals like Amman and Beirut, not to mention Palestinian cities and towns inside Israel, saw massive demonstrations that were at least a hundred times more numerous than the couple of thousands who tried to march in Ramallah but were beaten up by the goons of the Palestinian Collaborationist Authority (PCA).

Palestinians in the West Bank were watching Al-Jazeera instead of demonstrating in solidarity and refused to challenge Israel’s PCA agents who rule them. While the repression by the PCA and the Israeli occupation army is an important factor, the quiescence of the West Bank was also on account of the psychological warfare of demonizing Hamas to which the PCA and its cadre of comprador intellectuals have subjected the population for years. Moreover, the fact that a quarter of a million West Bankers work in the bureaucratic and security apparatus of the PCA and receive salaries which feed another three quarters of a million West Bankers, makes them fully dependent on the continuation of PCA rule to ensure their continued livelihood. This structural and material factor is indeed paramount in assessing the contemptible quiescence of West Bankers during the recent carnage in Gaza. Indeed, some of the staged Fatah participation in demonstrations in Ramallah (where the PCA women’s police beat up Hamas women demonstrators) included people who openly suggested that the demonstrators march by the Egyptian embassy in Ramallah to show support for Egyptian policies toward Gaza and Hamas.

The journey of West Bank liberal intellectuals, it seems has finally come to this: after being instrumental in selling out the rights of Palestinians in Israel to full equal citizenship by acquiescing to Israel’s demand to be recognized as a racist Jewish state, and the rights of the diaspora and refugees to return, they have now sold out the rights of Palestinians in Gaza to food and electricity, and all of this so that the West Bank can be ruled by a collaborationist authority that allows them open access to Johnny Walker Black Label (their drink of choice, although some have switched to Chivas more recently). In this context, how could Israel be anything but a friend and ally who is making sure Hamas will never get to ban whiskey?

In the meantime, the coming Israeli elections are being awaited with much trepidation. PCA strategies will be of course different depending on who wins. If Netanyahu wins, and he was the spoiler of PA rule and the Oslo understanding in 1996, Abbas can try to sound more nationalist in opposing Israeli practices in the hope that the Obama administration would support him against the Israeli right wing. The PCA hopes that Obama can put pressure on Netanyahu that he would not be able to in case Labor Party leader Ehud Barak wins. If Barak wins, then the PCA would be happy as they can go back to business as usual. As a close friend of the corrupt Clintons, Barak will also be a friend of his namesake in the Oval office, and Hillary Clinton will make sure that no pressure goes his way. Of course as far as the Palestinian people are concerned, it makes no difference who is at the helm of Israeli politics, a right-wing war criminal or a left-wing war criminal. As for those who still have hope in the Israeli public, the latter’s overwhelming support for the carnage in Gaza should put this to rest. If Germans spent the day on the beach when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, and Americans cheered in bars and at home the fireworks light show the US military put up over Baghdad while slaughtering hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in 1991 and in 2003, Israeli Jews insisted on having front row seats on hills overlooking Gaza for a live show, cracking open champagne bottles and cheering the murder and maiming of thousands of civilians, more than half of whom were women and children.

The Obama government as well as the Israelis and the Arab regimes have only one game they are willing to play, and it is hardly original. Ignoring and delegitimizing Hamas is a repetition of the delegitimization of the PLO when it represented Palestinian interests in the 1960s, 1970s, and part of the 1980s. At the time, the Jordanian regime was entrusted by the Israelis and the Americans with speaking on behalf of West Bank Palestinians until the PLO pledged to be a servant of Israel and US interests and began to view both as friends, and not as enemies. While this strategy has worked superbly in ending the enmity between most Arab regimes and Israel, it has failed miserably in convincing most Arabs that Israel is not their enemy. Israel’s recent military victory in slaughtering defenseless Palestinian civilians and its losing the war against Hamas by failing to realize any of its military objectives have hardly endeared it or its Arab supporters to the Arab peoples at large or to Muslim regional powers who are not fully subservient to the US. The Israeli settler-colony might have become the friend of oppressive regimes across the region, but in doing so it has ensured the enmity of the majority of the peoples in whose midst it has chosen to implant itself.

for those who want to read massad’s article in arabic check out al akhbar: إسرائيل كعدوّ… كـصديق by جوزيف مسعد.

lest you think that racism and lesser-class citizenship is only something directed at palestinians in the so-called “democracy” of the israeli terrorist regime, think again. recall that first of all the zionist entity is a “jewish state” meaning that one must be jewish to have rights. many of you may be old enough to remember the 1980s when there was a big push in the u.s. to fund the airlifting of russian jews to the israeli terrorist state. what you were never told is that many of those people are actually christian. this was one of their devious tricks to up their demographics, to outnumber palestinians. and they exist in large numbers and are being courted by israeli terrorist candidates like avigdor lieberman who advocates further ethnic cleansing (“transfer” in zionist speak):

Liberman has also advocated the “transfer” of some Israeli Arab towns close to the West Bank to any future Palestinian state. He himself lives in a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank. “He’s the kind of leader we’ve been waiting for, he knows how to talk to Arabs in their own language, the language of force,” said one woman when Liberman took his talk-tough message to villages close to the Gaza border.

barnaby phillips shows some of this dynamic in his report on the election for al jazeera:

notice that phillips mentions lieberman’s position that one must swear allegiance to a jewish state or be stripped of his/her citizenship. can you imagine if we were talking about jews living in a muslim country in this context? can you imagine what the u.s. would do? if jews lived in a fascist muslim country to which they had to swear their loyalty to? and if not they would be ethnically cleansed? what would happen then do you think?

but all this is to suggest that somehow there are real choices in the israeli terrorist election that would make a difference in the lives of palestinians. and the truth is that it will be shades of worse or worst. just like americans deluded into thinking that obama/mccain would make a difference. it’s the same thing. for those who are occupied, who are oppressed: there are no choices. there is no one representing the side of the poor, the peasant, the disenfranchised.

gideon levy had an interesting op-ed piece in ha’aretz this week about the elections arguing that perhaps the worst candidate, rather than the worse candidates, would be better for palestinians:

Benjamin Netanyahu will apparently be Israel’s next prime minister. There is, however, something encouraging about that fact. Netanyahu’s election will free Israel from the burden of deception: If he can establish a right-wing government, the veil will be lifted and the nation’s true face revealed to its citizens and the rest of the world, including Arab countries. Together with the world, we will see which direction we are facing and who we really are. The masquerade that has gone on for several years will finally come to an end.

Netanyahu’s election is likely to bring the curtain down on the great fraud – the best show in town – the lie of “negotiations” and the injustice of the “peace process.” Israel consistently claimed these acts proved the nation was focused on peace and the end of the occupation. All the while, it did everything it could to further entrench the occupation and distance any chance of a potential agreement.

For 16 years, we have been enamored with the peace process. We talk and talk, babble and prattle, and generally feel great about ourselves; meanwhile the settlements expand endlessly and Israel turns to the use of force at every possible opportunity, aside from a unilateral disengagement which did nothing to advance the cause of peace.

With the election of a prime ministerial candidate who speaks of “economic peace,” the naked truth will finally emerge. If, however, Tzipi Livni or Ehud Barak are elected, the self-delusion will simply continue. Livni herself is enamored with futile, useless and cowardly negotiations, and Barak has long abandoned the brave efforts he made in the past. The election of either will only perpetuate the vacuum. The world, including Washington, will breathe a sigh of relief that for once, Israel has elected a leadership that will pursue peace. But there is no chance of that happening.

The record of each of these candidates, and the positions they have championed until now, proves that what has been will continue to be. Livni and Barak will rush to every photo opportunity with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan. The Americans and Europeans will be pleased, but nothing will come out of it other than the sowing of a few more illusions. We will move from war to war, uprising to uprising, settlement to settlement, and the world will continue to delude itself into thinking an agreement is within reach. Hamas will grow stronger, Abbas weaker and the last chance for peace will be irretrievably lost.

Netanyahu would offer something else. First, he is a faithful representative of an authentic “Israeli” view – an almost complete distrust of Arabs and the chance of reaching peace with them, mixed with condescension and dehumanization. Second, he will finally arouse the world’s rage towards us, including that of the new U.S. administration. Sadly, this may be the only chance for the kind of dramatic change that is needed.

The Palestinian Authority, another mendacious facade, will finally collapse, and Israel will face the non-partner it has wanted and sought all these years. The world may not rush to embrace Netanyahu as it would the “moderates” – Livni or Barak, who have led Israel to more unnecessary wars than Netanyahu, the “extremist” – while the real difference between them is almost non-existent.

Lifting the veil will lead to a crisis situation, which unfortunately is the only one that can bring about change. We must hope that both Kadima and Labor do not join a Netanyahu government (regrettably, another futile hope), as Israel’s exposure will then be that much starker. A government composed of Netanyahu, Shas and Avigdor Lieberman will not, of course, have to deal with an opposition of Netanyahu, Shas and Avigdor Lieberman, and may therefore behave differently once in power than one might expect. Have we mentioned Menachem Begin?

But even if Netanyahu is the same old Netanyahu, this will be an opportunity to place the right’s policies under the microscope. Let’s see him stand before Barack Obama and speak of the grotesque idea of “economic peace,” or wage foreign or security policies according to his stated positions. Let’s see him answer just what exactly his vision is for 20 to 30 years down the road.

In due course, his anticipated failure may just hasten an alternative route, on condition that Kadima and Labor do not join the government and bring us another year of fraud. The lemons may yet yield lemonade – maybe the establishment of a right-wing government will remove all of the masks for good. The alternative, known and expected by all, is far more ambiguous, dangerous and threatening.

So let Netanyahu win. There is no alternative at this point anyway.

this is sort of why i keep wishing john mccain had won the election. i would much prefer a clearer enemy in the white house than one everyone continues to see as an (fake) arbiter of change. here is what omar barghouti had to say about israeli terrorist elections a few years ago (still applies today):

A recent study of Israeli racism confirms this “moral degradation.” More than two thirds of Israeli Jews stated they would not live in the same building with Palestinian citizens of Israel, while 63% agreed with the statement that “Arabs are a security and demographic threat to the state.” Forty percent believed “the state needs to support the emigration of Arab citizens.” This general shift of Israeli public opinion to extreme right positions well explains the remarkable rise of Lieberman.

But one does not have to be Lieberman to be a racist, as Ha’aretz writer Gideon Levy notes. “The ‘peace’ proposed by Ehud Olmert is no less racist,” he argues, adding: “Lieberman wants to distance them from our borders, Olmert and his ilk want to distance them from our consciousness. Nobody is speaking about peace with them, nobody really wants it. Only one ambition unites everyone – to get rid of them, one way or another. Transfer or wall, ‘disengagement’ or ‘convergence’ – the point is that they should get out of our sight.”

this word “democracy” struck me today as i sat in on a seminar at an najah university. a group of students were practicing their debating skills in a role-playing exercise based on a couple of different themes. in each scenario one student was the zionist and the other the palestinian. the palestinian students playing the role of the zionist kept explaining about the “democracy” they supposedly have. and actually all the students who played the role of the zionist were quite good. they had their argument down pat (or their propaganda i should say). they knew all their arguments, because the propaganda is repeated like a broken record day in and day out, even on al jazeera. but for all the students playing their own part, the role of the palestinian, they could not come up with a single specific example to refute the claims of those playing the role of the zionist. i was not surprised because i know how little my own students know about their own history. i blame the u.s. and the israelis for this (for censoring palestinian textbooks) and i blame the palestinian authority for this (for self-censoring for fear of israeli-u.s. censorship). but i also blame the students themselves. there are many excellent palestinian historical documents in libraries and bookshops here, including at an najah university (in multiple languages). but the students do not take the responsibility to read on their own, to study, to learn the facts. in the end this means that all the arguments become circular. or it becomes a futile back-and-forth about who was here first or who kills more children. there is so much work to be done on so many levels to counter act this. and this is in the west bank. in 1948 palestine–where supposedly palestinians live in the “democratic” (read: terrorist) state of israel–palestinians are not even allowed to learn their history at all. all they get is the zionist narrative.

to understand the history–and the specificity of that history–is to be able to track the ways in which there have been multiple displacements, massacres, ethnic cleansings. to understand the history of political prisoners. the uprootedness. the depopulation policies that have always been present among zionist colonist terrorists. it is a way of connecting the past to the every day reality that affects all palestinians whether they are refugees outside or inside, 1948 palestinians, or palestinians living in gaza and the west bank. to understand this history is to give context to the current reality here:

14,000 homes, 68 government buildings, 31 NGOs destroyed leaving 600,000 tons of rubble in Gaza

Thousands of Palestinians are living in tented camps after Israel’s three-week assault on the Gaza Strip, hoping for a swift end to Israel’s blockade so they can rebuild their homes.

Aid workers said on Thursday at least 16,000 people have found temporary accommodation in 10 camps set up in districts laid to waste in a war that local medical officials said left around 1,300 Palestinians dead and more than 5,000 wounded.

But conditions are cramped, with several thousands of tents held up at border crossings from Israel into the Gaza Strip.

A total of 548 Palestinians are detained without trial in Israel, including 42 who have been held for over two years, the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said on Thursday.

Among the Palestinians detained without trail, two have been held for four and a half years, B’Tselem said in its annual report.

Six of those detained without trial in December were minors, including two girls, the report said.

It said a total of 7,904 Palestinians were in Israeli custody at the end of December.

The report also said that by December 26 Israeli security forces last year killed 455 Palestinians, including 87 minors. It said at least 175 of those killed did not take part in the hostilities. Eighteen Israeli civilians and 10 Israeli troops were killed by Palestinians in the same period, the report said. The figures do not include casualties from the 22-day military offensive Israel launched in Gaza on December 27, which left more than 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.

Israeli occupation forces advanced into Fakhari area east of Khan Younis district, to the south of Gaza Strip, at an early hour on Saturday amidst indiscriminate shooting.

PIC reporter said that a number of IOF tanks and bulldozers advanced hundreds of meters in the area and bulldozed Palestinian cultivated lands.

and, of course, it is not just palestine. israeli terrorists love to invade lebanon regularly, too:

An Israeli army patrol on Thursday crossed into southern Lebanese territory, the state-run National News Agency said.

It said a 15-member patrol crossed the electronic fence into the border town of Blida and searched the area for more than 50 minutes before pulling out at around 10:00 am.

or the invasion of a lebanese ship in gaza territorial waters:

all of these israeli terrorist policies are cultivated in israeli terrorist universities by a wide variety of scholars in a range of disciplines, including philosophy (hint: this is why there is a need for the academic boycott of israel):

When senior Israel Defense Forces officers are asked about the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians during the fighting in the Gaza Strip, they almost all give the same answer: The use of massive force was designed to protect the lives of the soldiers, and when faced with a choice between protecting the lives of Israeli soldiers and those of enemy civilians under whose protection the Hamas terrorists are operating, the soldiers take precedence.

The IDF’s response to criticism does not sound improvised or argumentative. The army entered Gaza with the capacity to gauge with relatively high certainty the impact of fighting against terror in such a densely populated area. And it operated there not only with the backing of the legal opinion of the office of the Military Advocate General, but also on the basis of ethical theory, developed several years ago, that justifies its actions.

Prof. Asa Kasher of Tel Aviv University, an Israel Prize laureate in philosophy, is the philosopher who told the IDF that it was possible. In a recent interview with Haaretz Kasher said the army operated in accordance with a code of conduct developed about five years ago for fighting terrorism.

“The norms followed by the commanders in Gaza were generally appropriate,” Kasher said. In Kasher’s opinion there is no justification for endangering the lives of soldiers to avoid the killing of civilians who live in the vicinity of terrorists. According to Kasher, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi “has been very familiar with our principles from the time the first document was drafted in 2003 to the present.”

Kasher’s argument is that in an area such as the Gaza Strip in which the IDF does not have effective control the overriding principle guiding the commanders is achieving their military objectives. Next in priority is protecting soldiers’ lives, followed by avoiding injury to enemy civilians. In areas where Israel does have effective control, such as East Jerusalem, there is no justification for targeted killings in which civilians are also hit because Israel has the option of using routine policing procedures, such as arrests, that do not endanger innocent people.

Prof. Kasher has strong, long-standing ties with the army. He drafted the IDF ethical code of conduct in the mid-1990’s. In 2003 he and Maj. Gen Amos Yadlin, now the head of Military Intelligence, published an article entitled “The Ethical Fight Against Terror.” It justified the targeted assassination of terrorists, even at the price of hitting nearby Palestinian civilians. Subsequently Kasher, Yadlin, and a team that included IDF legal experts wrote a more comprehensive document on military ethics in fighting terror. Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya’alon, who was the IDF Chief of Staff at the time, did not make the document binding but Kasher says the ideas in the document were adopted in principle by Ya’alon and his successors. Kasher has presented them to IDF and Shin Bet security service personnel dozens of times.

this is also why we need student agitation on campuses across the world to help push for boycott, divestment, and sanctions as students have been doing successfully in various ways in the united kingdom:

A STUDENT sit-in at a Scottish university ended peacefully last night, after the university authorities agreed to cancel their contract with an Israeli water company.

The 40 students, led by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, occupied the foyer of Strathclyde University’s McCance building, to demand that it sever all links with Israeli organisations following the bombing of the Gaza Strip.

The students presented the university management with a list of demands, which included: the cancellation of a contract with Eden Springs, its main water cooler supplier; the severing of funding links with arms manufacturer BAE systems; the issuing of a statement condemning the Israeli action in Palestine last month; the creation of a scholarship programme for Palestinian students at Strathclyde; and a pledge of solidarity for the Islamic University of Gaza.

Students also asked that the university oppose Israeli academics who promote military research, to condemn the BBC for not showing the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Gaza appeal and to broadcast the appeal on campus as part of a fundraising day.

Following negotiations yesterday afternoon, agreement was reached on a number of points: the contract with Eden Spring would be cancelled, a scholarship programme would be established for Palestinian students and the DEC appeal would be broadcast on the campus.

finally such activism is spreading to the united states!:

Students from the University of Rochester and members of the local Rochester community will be occupying an academic building on campus tomorrow for peace and in solidarity with the people Gaza and in opposition to U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the recent atrocities in Gaza. The action, organized by U of R Students for a Democratic Society (UR-SDS), will begin on the afternoon of Friday, February 6 and will last until the University of Rochester administration meets the demands put forward.

The demands are:

1. Divestment: We demand the University of Rochester to adopt the “UR-Peaceful Investing Initiative” which institutes a peaceful investment policy to the university’s endowment which includes divestment from corporations that manufacturer weapons and profit from war. (For example, the U of R invests in General Dynamics which manufactures weapons to maintain a 41-year occupation of the Palestinian territories and wars which slaughter Palestinian civilians by the 100s)

2. Humanitarian aid: We demand that the University of Rochester commit to a day of fundraising for humanitarian aid in Gaza within the next two weeks, as part of an ongoing commitment to provide financial support for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

3. Academic aid: We demand that the University of Rochester twin with the devastated Gaza University and provide the necessary academic aid (e.g., recycled computers, books, etc. ).

4. Scholarships: We demand that the University of Rochester grant a minimum of five scholarships to Palestinian students every year.

and this is also why we need many other aspects of the boycott to develop including a sports boycott…which it seems could be in the making soon as qui qui suggests today on kabobfest:

Yesterday night, the Israeli Maccabi Basketball team played against the Barca team (Barcelona), a game part of the EuroLeague 2009. It took place in Barcelona – Catalunya.

The Maccabi team is known for its support of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). Three of its players visited the soldiers at the Gaza border during the recent bloodshed against Palestinian civilians.

In a response to that, 9 people jumped onto the basketball court shouting pro-Palestinian slogans and carrying Palestinian flags before they were dragged out by “security” forces and the police. At the same time, the public was chanting “Palestine Palestine” while they applauded and lifted banners in solidarity with the Palestinian people and their struggle for freedom. Many people waved Palestinian flags and booed the Israeli team.

in an email omar had this to say about it:

Barcelona basketball fans receive Maccabi Tel Aviv with dozens of Palestinian flags and a stunning chant: “Boycott Israel — Viva Palestine”!

After sports fans and activists in Turkey and New Zealand took action in support of a sports boycott of Israel, this very promising sports boycott movement has finally eached Europe, where it counts the most, starting from Barcelona, no less, a major European sports powerhouse! As many of you already know, Israeli teams compete in European championships as if Israel were part of Europe. Not different from academia, among other fields.

Finally, Israeli sports teams are facing what their South African predecessors had experienced in the 1980s. Could not have come at a more opportune time …

And for those who think that sports should not be “politicized” or that Israeli sports is about the nobility of athletics as an expression of humanity, a thorough examination of the Israeli sports scene will confirm that sports teams (particularly football and basketball teams and most of their fans) are no different from the mainstream in Israel: racist, colonial and every bit deserving of boycott.

here is the lovely video where you can watch this action (though i would personally prefer people NOT spend money on events where israeli terrorist athletes are competing… ):

some notes on censorship

nidal el khairy
nidal el khairy

it is kind of astounding what an impact an najah university has on the city of nablus. the city itself is one of the largest in palestine and yet when the students are not here so many shops and restaurants close down because there is no business. one of the board of trustees at the university died so the university was closed today and so did all the shops. one of the members of an najah university’s board of trustees died, a prominent nabulsi from the masri family, so the university shut down. and so did all the shops. it was strange being on campus and around campus today. it reminded me of when we had a strike last semester; it was like this then, too.

i have been busy working on the u.s. boycott campaign and the vigil (see below) that we are having sunday night in nablus and in many other cities around the world. hopefully more will be added soon. i hear rumors that boise, idaho is going to join our list of vigils! one of the associated activities with the vigil, aside from reading the names of the child martyrs is to read out loud some of the stories of the children who survived. here are some of those in english (sorry no translation yet):

Children’s survival stories in Gaza

Amira, 15 years old

Amira Qirm is from Tal El Hawa. She watched her father die outside their home. Right after that, she heard another shell land and kill her brother Ala’a, 14 years old, and her sister Ismat, 16 years old. Amira was injured in the attack, and spent three days semi-conscious and alone in a neighbour’s abandoned house before she was rescued. She has been flown to France for medical treatment and she faces a long recovery. She says her dream is to become a lawyer so she can “stand in court facing the Israelis for what they have done.”

* The Guardian, 23 January 2009

Essidi, 6 years old

6-year-old Essidi Sarzuhr was hit by Israeli bomb fragments when seven Israeli rockets hit the front of his house on Jan 7. The family lives in Sabra, Gaza. He was taken to Al-Shifa hospital’s Special Paediatric Department for treatment for extensive abdominal injuries and had undergone emergency lifesaving laparatomy and had a chest tube placed due to fragment injuries also of the chest.

* Account of Norwegian Doctors Mads Gilbert and Erick Fosse

Hosam, early teens

Hosam Hamdan, a boy in his early teens, still remains unconscious in Gaza City’s al-Shifa hospital intensive care unit in a full body cast, after he was seriously wounded and his two sisters killed in an Israeli air strike in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip at the end of December 2008. Doctors are not sure if he will ever walk again.

* The Guardian, 31 December 2008

Sari, young child

Sari, a boy, was caught outside during the first bombing. “He trembled as he told us that he’d been on his way home from school in a taxi when there was a thundering blast. The driver stopped the car and ran for cover. The passengers scattered in all directions. Sari found himself running aimlessly. The explosions seemed to be chasing him, he said. Suddenly, he came upon people lying bleeding in the street” but it was too late to help them.

*Eyad el Sarraj, The Washington Post, January 3, 2009

Ayman, 15 years old

Ayman Najjar is trying to recover from severe burns in a hospital in Khan Younis, and his back is covered in thick dressings. His doctor says he is suffering from severe chemical burns. Ayman is from Khoza’a, a rural community east of Khan Younis. He and his sister were sitting under the stairs when a missile struck. Their grandfather, who was in the garden, was killed instantly. His sister Alaa, 16 years old, had been playing a game on her mobile phone when she was hit and died after hours of surgery.

* www.Rafahkid.net

Hagag Family

Sitting in his empty apartment, Anas doesn’t know if he will see his wife, Mounira, and two daughters and son ever again. “It feels as though as a piece of my heart has been torn out,” he said. Mounira, a Bosnian national, had survived 4 years of war in Bosnia, and had thought she could endure life in Gaza as well. But, Anas said, “three weeks of Israeli warfare in Gaza broke her – mentally” and she left to Cairo on the first bus out after the ceasefire. “I miss her terribly,” he says, “but I don’t blame her.”

* Al-Jazeera English

Al-Daya family

Fayez and Khitam Al Daya had brought together their children and their families into their home in the neighborhood of Zeitoun, Gaza City. On January 6, at 6am, an Israeli Apache plane bombed and destroyed the 4-storey home. All 30 members of the family were killed and buried under the rubble. 18 of those killed were children.

* Al Haq

Ibrahim Shurrab, 17 years old

On 16 January, 2009, at around 1.30 in the afternoon during the three-hour Israeli-declared lull in fighting, Ibrahim, his brother Kassab, 27 years old, and their father Mohammed, 64 years old, were in their car on their home from their farm. Kassab was shot by an Israeli solider4 in the chest, and died a few hours later. Mohammed was shot in the arm, and Ibrahim’s leg was wounded. Ibrahim and his father were stranded and the ambulances were unable to reach them. Mohammed spent hours trying to call the Red Cross and human rights organizations, but they were unable to help, and Ibrahim died at dawn the next morning.

* Al Haq

“Out of all the devastation I have seen so far, 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.”

* Account of Barbara Lubin in Gaza City

these accounts are important to share not only at vigils, but in general. we need to be reminded of the survivors too, some of whom will never recover fully, will never be the same psychologically. and yet the bbc continues to censor the public service announcement from the disaster emergency committee, which is trying to raise money for gaza in the u.k. the image above by nidal el khairy is a brilliant piece responding to the way in which bbc is complicit in–and even participating in–the deaths of palestinians in gaza. muhammad idress ahmad has a really smart analysis of the bbc censorship on electronic intifada:

If there were no occupier and occupied in the conflict; no oppressor and oppressed, no state and stateless; then clearly assisting victims on one side would compromise “impartiality.” This view posits the Palestinian population as a whole as an adversary to the Israeli war machine. The BBC’s decision not to acknowledge the victims of the conflict is a function of its biased coverage. When it spent three weeks providing a completely distorted image of the slaughter carried out by one of the world’s mightiest militaries against a defenseless civilian population, it is unsurprising that it should fear viewers questioning how such a “balanced” conflict could produce so many victims. And if the Israelis are able to look after their own, why should the Palestinians need British assistance?

When there is no mention of the violent dispossession of the Palestinians, or of the occupation; no mention of the crippling siege, or of the daily torments of the oppressed, viewers would naturally find it hard to comprehend the reality. For if these truths were to be revealed, the policy of the British government would appear even less reasonable. As a state chartered body, however, the BBC is no more likely to antagonize the government as a politician in the government is to antagonize the Israel lobby. Indeed, the BBC’s director general Mark Thompson can hardly be described as a disinterested party: in 2005 he made a trip to Jerusalem where he met with Ariel Sharon in what was seen in Israel as an attempt to “build bridges” and “a ‘softening’ to the corporation’s unofficial editorial line on the Middle East.” Thompson, “a deeply religious man,” is “a Catholic, but his wife is Jewish, and he has a far greater regard for the Israeli cause than some of his predecessors” sources at the corporation told The Independent. Shortly afterwards Orla Guerin, an exceptionally courageous and honest journalist responsible for most of the corporation’s rare probing and hard-hitting reports, was sacked as the BBC’s Middle East correspondent and transferred to Africa in response to complaints from the Israeli government.

But this decision to refuse a charity appeal has consequences that go far beyond any of the BBC’s earlier failings: as the respected British MP Tony Benn put it, “people will die because of the BBC decision.” It is so blatantly unjust that the only question the BBC management might want to mull over is just how irreparable the damage from this controversy might be to its reputation. The organization that only days earlier was reporting with glee a letter by Chinese intellectuals boycotting their state media is today itself the subject of boycotts across Britain, not just by intellectuals, but by artists, scholars, citizens and even the International Atomic Energy Agency. Much like Pravda and Izvestia during the Cold War, today it is the BBC that has emerged as the most apposite metaphor for state propaganda.

and there is censorship in the u.s. as well. the u.s. campaign to end the occupation created a public service announcement for direct tv and they refused to air it.

Take Action: DIRECTV Censors Our Gaza Strip TV Ad

Thanks to a generous emergency grant from Cultures of Resistance, we produced a 30-second commercial about the U.S. role in Israel’s war on and siege of the Gaza Strip.

We thought, “What better way to bring this important information to the attention of people in the United States than to advertise nationally on DIRECTV?” the largest satellite television subscription service in the country.

After detailed discussions with DIRECTV, including agreement on rates, times, and network placements of the ad, when we gave them the final product, they abruptly decided not to do business with us.

This blatant act of censorship is preventing millions of U.S. households from learning the truth about our government’s crucial role in enabling Israel’s war on and siege of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

TAKE ACTION

1. Watch both an extended internet version and the original 30-second commercial below.

2. Contact DIRECTV to protest its act of censorship and demand that they accept our ad by clicking here.

3. Let all your friends know about this commercial and DIRECTV’s censorship of it by joining our Facebook group.

4. Make a tax-deductible contribution to the US Campaign so that we can purchase as much air time for this commercial as possible by clicking below on the icon.

5. Take action requested in the commercial and sign our open letter to President Obama calling upon him to cut of military aid to Israel by clicking here.

censorship is also prevalent in 1948 palestine as with palestinians wanting to commemorate the anniversary of george habash’s death:

About 30 demonstrators from the Israeli-Arab Abnaa elBalad Movement (Sons of the Land) rallied in Haifa yesterday in protest of a police decision to ban an open-air memorial service for George Habash, the founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The PFLP is considered a terrorist organization in Israel.

Mohammed Kanana, secretary general of the movement which organized the rally, told Haaretz he had not been surprised by the police decision.

“The Israel Police is famous for its oppression of the Arab public and for its opposition to lawful democratic activity,” he said. The event was supposed to be held in a Haifa theater yesterday, marking the first anniversary of Habash’s death. Among the invited speakers were Arab public figures, clergymen, and Habash’s relatives living in Israel.

carlos latuff
carlos latuff

and egypt is now collaborating with israeli terrorists in censoring the media by preventing them from broadcasting in gaza:

Egypt on Tuesday prevented two senior Al Jazeera journalists from entering the Gaza Strip through Rafah border, the London-based Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi reported on Wednesday.

The two, Ahmad Mansour and Ghassan Bin Jido, said that the Egyptian authorities did not provide an explanation for their decision, and that employees of other media outlets were allowed to cross into the besieged territory without delay.

During Operation Cast Lead last month, the network’s coverage of the events in Gaza was critical of Egypt’s opposition to Hamas. Mansour and Bin Jido are known for their favorable attitude toward the Palestinian “resistance movement,” as Hamas is known in the Arab world. They said they’d stay put until Egypt provides a “reasonable” explanation for their detention at the border.

and egypt is collaborating with israeli terrorists by destroying tunnels and creating a system of surveillance to prevent palestinians fro accessing basic needs through the tunnels along the rafah border:

The Egyptian government destroyed more tunnels along its borders with the tiny Gaza Strip that were used by Gazans to bring food and basic needs into their besieged Strip, Palestinian sources and eyewitnesses confirmed.

The Israeli occupation government destroyed nearly one-half of the tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border during its brutal war on Gaza last month, the sources added.

The Egyptian government also halted fuel supply to Gaza Strip, which aggravated the suffering of the Palestinian people there, especially that no fuel is being supplied to Gaza from the Israeli side.

Sensor cameras were also installed by the Egyptian security forces on top of high building to monitor the borders with help from American, German, and French experts with the aim to uncover and destroy all the tunnels.

matthew cassel
matthew cassel

matthew’s amazing photograph above of one of the tunnel workers is about these men as an essential part of resistance.

there are other forms of censorship like when the u.s. congress tries to call the united nations relief and works agency a terrorist organization (click link below to protest this outrageous resolution):

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) urges you to act quickly to oppose House Congressional Resolution 29 (H. Con. Res 29) which questions support for the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) and alleges its support for terror organizations. H. Con. Res. 29 has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. While the people of the Gaza Strip are suffering after years of occupation, blockade and weeks of war UNRWA deserves only steadfast American support and aid to alleviate the suffering in Gaza. The attempts to make UNRWA’s job harder and limit funding for the organization sends the message that the United States is actively seeking the continued deprivation of the Palestinian people.

Take action below by sending a prepared message to your representative. Eight representatives have co-sponsored this resolution and if your representative is one of them then you will be able to send them a message expressing your disagreement with the resolution. If they have not co-sponsored the resolution you will be able to send them a letter encouraging them not to support the resolution.

meanwhile barack obama–that president of hope and change for you koolaid drinkers out there–is censoring evidence of torture:

Two senior British judges have expressed their anger and surprise that President Barack Obama’s Government has put pressure on Britain to suppress evidence of torture in US custody.

Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones said they had been told that America had threatened to stop co-operating with Britain on intelligence matters if evidence were published suggesting that Binyam Mohammed, a British resident held at the US prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, had been tortured into confessing crimes.

and one news item that i bet won’t be getting a lot of air time in the u.s. is the one about obama’s home state of illinois investing in the terrorist state of israel:

The state of Illinois has just purchased $10 million in Israel bonds.

http://jta.org/news/article/2009/01/28/1002600/illinois-makes-big-israel-bon
ds-purchase

If you would like to point out to Illinois officials that, considering that Israel has just massacred over 1,300 Palestinians including over 400 children, and that Illinois should be considering divestment and boycott rather than investment, here’s some contact information.

Thanks,

-Rich

Contact Illinois Governor Pat Quinn
217-782-0244
Or 312-814-2121

http://www.standingupforillinois.org/contact/

Contact Illinois Senator Dick Durban
202-224-2152

http://durbin.senate.gov/contact.cfm

Contact Illinois Senator Roland W. Burris
202-224-2854
(no on-line contact for Burris found)

Illinois residents find your representatives in congress by district here:

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/findyourreps.xpd?state=IL

Please forward widely, especially to Illinois residents

as if you needed any, jonathan cook has some great reasons why you should not only contact the legislators above and tell them to stop investing in the terrorist israeli state but also to DIVEST from it altogether:

Extremist rabbis and their followers, bent on waging holy war against the Palestinians, are taking over the Israeli army by stealth, according to critics.

In a process one military historian has termed the rapid “theologization” of the Israeli army, there are now entire units of religious combat soldiers, many of them based in West Bank settlements. They answer to hardline rabbis who call for the establishment of a Greater Israel that includes the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Their influence in shaping the army’s goals and methods is starting to be felt, say observers, as more and more graduates from officer courses are also drawn from Israel’s religious extremist population.

“We have reached the point where a critical mass of religious soldiers is trying to negotiate with the army about how and for what purpose military force is employed on the battlefield,” said Yigal Levy, a political sociologist at the Open University who has written several books on the Israeli army.

The new atmosphere was evident in the “excessive force” used in the recent Gaza operation, Dr Levy said. More than 1,300 Palestinians were killed, a majority of them civilians, and thousands were injured as whole neighborhoods of Gaza were leveled.

“When soldiers, including secular ones, are imbued with theological ideas, it makes them less sensitive to human rights or the suffering of the other side.”

or how about this…benjamin netanyahu, a frontrunner in the upcoming israeli terrorist election, and leader of its likud party, represents a party that, like most israeli terrorists in general, thrive on total hypocrisy. as they are always already making claims about refusing to negotiate with hamas because of its charter or what borders it agrees to (always articulated with fabrications, mind you) here is what likud’s charter says in an article by frank barat in the palestine chronicle:

Everyone (politicians and corporate media leaders) accepted this without asking a few important questions. Which Israel should Hamas recognize? Israel has not yet stated what its international borders are. Should Hamas recognize the Israel of 1948? The Israel of 1967? The Israel of 2009 with its apartheid wall, settlements (settlements building raised by 60 percent in 2008, the year of the Annapolis “Peace Process”, according to a Peace Now report), second class Arab citizens and with East Jerusalem annexed?

Any astute observer could also have objected by reminding people that Hamas (through Haniyeh and Meshal) had said many times over that it was willing to accept Israel as a political entity on the 1967 borders. You do not have to look hard for this, it was stated in the Guardian, Washington Post, amongst others, meaning that Hamas was now in line with most of the international community, accepting a two-state solution.

Another issue came back again and again. The problem is Hamas’s Charter, we would hear. Whatever Meshal or Haniyeh were ready to accept, the Charter came back to haunt them every time.

But what about the Charter of the Likud Party. With Netanyahu and his right-wing party ready to take over, it is only fair to find out a bit more about them.

In the “Peace and Security” chapter of the Likud Party platform, a recent document (1999) it says initially that:

“Peace is a primary objective of the State of Israel. The Likud will strengthen the existing peace agreements with the Arab states and strive to achieve peace agreements with all of Israel’s neighbors with the aim of reaching a comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

But then it says about settlements:

“The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting.”

Therefore annihilating the slightest chance of a two-state solution.

On Palestinian self-rule it says:

“The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river. The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state. Thus, for example, in matters of foreign affairs, security, immigration and ecology, their activity shall be limited in accordance with imperatives of Israel’s existence, security and national needs.”

Therefore annihilating any chance of seeing a Palestinian sovereign state.

On Jerusalem:

“Jerusalem is the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel. The government will flatly reject Palestinian proposals to divide Jerusalem, including the plan to divide the city presented to the Knesset by the Arab factions and supported by many members of Labor and Meretz.”

Therefore annihilating any chance for future peace negotiations because east Jerusalem as capital of a future Palestinian state is non-negotiable for any Palestinian.

We have therefore established that the Likud party charter does not recognize Palestine and will not accept a sovereign Palestinian state. The soon-to-come non-recognition of Likud by the international community and an implemented blockade on Israel should therefore not come as a surprise for Israelis.

and as we speak the lebanese boat that was on its way to gaza has now been attacked by israeli terrorists at sea. my only hope is that lebanon–specifically hezbollah–sees this as an act of war and responds accordingly:

An Israeli gunboat late Wednesday intercepted a Lebanese ship carrying medical aid and other supplies bound for Gaza, said the organizer of the Lebanese delivery, Maan Bashour.

“The Brotherhood Ship was fired on by an Israeli military boat 32 kilometers off the coast of Gaza and they were asked to divert course,” said Bashour, and added that the ship remains in the water near the coast of Gaza.

i’m taking a couple of days off from blogging. for those who are looking to read, i strongly encourage you to check out the new issue of majdal, which i helped to edit. it’s got some terrific articles about israeli terrorists’ ongoing ethnic cleansing projects from the river to the sea. and, of course, there are many, many links in the sidebar for you to keep updated with.