the hypocrisy of a “benevolent” empire (on bushama’s cairo speech)

ashraf omar's "welcome obama"
ashraf omar\’s \”welcome obama\”

i do not have a satellite dish in my new apartment and my internet connection is a bit slow here so i watched barack obama’s speech to the so-called muslim world on al jazeera’s website. as he began his speech today the zionist entity was busy flying american-made f-16s in the sky above palestine in its “turning point 3” test run for its doomsday scenario (read: its next offensive attack on its neighbors). and zionist terrorist colonists attacked palestinian farms for the fourth day in a row as obama got ready to deliver his speech. and back in the united states, american zionists were busy figuring out a new way to scrap any possibility of palestinian sovereignty by finding ways to give palestinian land to jordan and egypt:

As U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to deliver a major foreign policy speech in Cairo and his administration pushes aggressively for a two-state solution in Israel-Palestine, neoconservatives and other foreign policy hawks back home are calling on him to scrap the two-state solution altogether and consider alternatives to Palestinian statehood.

The most prominent alternative they are pushing is the so-called “three-state solution” or “Jordanian option”, in which the West Bank would be returned to Jordanian control and the Gaza Strip to Egyptian control.

Although calls for a “three-state solution” have cropped up periodically over the years and have been dismissed by most Middle East experts as unrealistic, in recent weeks the three-state approach has received an unusual amount of attention and support on the right.

perhaps in keeping with that idea that more and more of palestine will belong to usurping entities, this morning also saw 180 palestinian bedouin losing their homes due to israeli terrorist forces demolishing those houses as a part of their sixty-one year ethnic cleansing project:

The Israeli military began demolishing a Bedouin encampment home to 180 people in the northern Jordan Valley, in the West Bank on Thursday morning.

According to UN officials monitoring events on the ground, 20 Israeli military jeeps, a bulldozer and a container arrived at the Bedouin community of Ras Al-Ahmar at 7:30 on Thursday morning and began destroying homes. The residents of the community evacuated the area on Tuesday, setting up makeshift camps nearby, after demolition orders were issued on Monday.

The military issued demolition orders for Bedouin homes belonging to 34 families, a total of 304 people in Ras Al-Ahmar and nearby Al-Hadidiya. The military gave the residents 48 hours to evacuate on the basis that the area is a “closed military zone”

Al-Hadidya is located near the Israeli settlement of Roi, whereas Ras Al-Ahmar is located north of Hamra military checkpoint east of Tammun.

All of the community of Al-Hadidya received demolition orders except for one family, putting the community’s very existence at risk. In Ras Al-Ahmar, 17 out of 45 families received the orders, some of which are labeled eviction notices and other demolition orders.

in the lead up to obama’s address egyptian blogger hossam el-hamalawy wrote an op ed for the new york times, which he reposted on his blog stating:

THE bridge I take to work in central Cairo was painted overnight. On the roads, colored concrete blocks were installed in turns where car accidents happen daily. Main streets in the neighboring city of Giza are suddenly blossoming with flowers. Street lamps are polished, and they are actually working. This could mean only one thing: our country is receiving an “important” foreign visitor.

President Obama should not have decided to come to Egypt. The visit is a clear endorsement of President Hosni Mubarak, the ailing 81-year-old dictator who has ruled with martial law, secret police and torture chambers. No words that Mr. Obama will say can change this perception that Americans are supporting a dictator with their more than $1 billion in annual aid.

The Western press is clearly excited about Mr. Obama’s “significant” choice of Egypt, and his destination, Cairo University, which the news media seem to consider a symbol of enlightenment, secularism and freedom.

The truth is that for years, Cairo University students have been demonstrating against the rising cost of education, demanding the university subsidize expensive text books, only to be rebuked by the authorities, who claim no funds are available. Yet the university somehow managed to find the money to polish up the building dome that will shine above Mr. Obama’s head when he delivers his address.

As for the other host of the president’s visit, Al Azhar University, one of its students, Kareem Amer, is languishing in prison after university officials reported his “infidel, un-Islamic” views to the government, earning him a four-year sentence in 2007. In advance of the visit, Egyptian security forces have rounded up hundreds of foreign students at Al Azhar.

We do want allies in the West, but not from inside the White House. Our real allies are the human rights groups and unions that will pressure the Obama administration to sever all ties to the Mubarak dictatorship. Their visits to Egypt are more meaningful, even if unlike Mr. Obama, they do not get a lavish reception.

a number of open letters to obama were published today, too, from various groups starting with the cairo institute for human rights studies which outlined how they would like to see him put his money where his mouth is:

For example, the appropriate measures could be taken to end the discriminatory, degrading practices endured by Arabs and Muslims at American airports, for the message that these practices send stands at odds with your declaration in Turkey. Indeed, the message communicated is “We consider you all enemies until proven otherwise.”

Secondly, the new US administration must realize that the failure of the previous administration to address the Palestinian issue fairly and justly has been the primary source of an increasing sense of humiliation among the Palestinian people and other peoples in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Certainly the new administration’s adoption of the right of the Palestinian people to an independent state side by side with Israel is a step in the right direction, but your administration must translate this general principle into real-life policies, first and foremost by abandoning America’s absolute political and diplomatic support for Israel and the war crimes and aggression committed by the this state, the sole remaining example in the world today of a racist, colonial occupation. Your administration must adopt decisive and immediate policies to stop the expansion of settlements, which swallow more land every day and thereby make the two-state solution you advocate impossible.

Thirdly, giving respect and support for human rights and democratic freedoms in this area of the world is the principal avenue by which to foster a sense of dignity for peoples in the Arab and Muslim worlds who are no different from other people in the world. While we affirm that the destiny of these peoples ultimately depends on their own struggles and sacrifices to achieve these rights and liberties, an American foreign policy that embodied and represented human rights and democratic values and ended US support for allied authoritarian regimes in the Arab and Muslim worlds would give a substantial boost to these struggles, given that the majority of ruling regimes in this region are much more sensitive to the international community’s views than they are to public opinion in their own countries.

likewise hamas sent obama a letter via code pink who delivered it to the american embassy in cairo:

The letter was written by Dr. Ahmad Yousef, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the dissolved government in Gaza.

Hamas called on Obama to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip, and to stop the ongoing construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The letter called on Obama to communicate with Hamas to prove the seriousness of his administration, and called on him to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as the first step towards positive relations between the United States and the Arab and Muslim worlds.

In the letter, Hamas welcomed Obama’s visit to the region and considered it a positive towards bridging the gap between the US and the Arab world.

It added that it is unfortunate the Obama would not be visiting the Gaza Strip to listen to the opinions of Hamas, and observe the conditions in the coastal region.

“We recently received several delegates, congress members, EU parliamentarians, several solidarity groups and Mr. Richard Goldstone, head of the investigation committee of the United Nations, in addition to the Code Pink group”, Hamas says in its letter.

“It is essential to visit Gaza in order to observe the destruction Israel caused during its 22-day offensive, several groups came to Gaza such as AMNESTY international”, the letter reads, “the killing and destruction could not have happened without US support to Israel, weapons and financial support paid for by US taxpayers”.

“You are the owners of the weapons, and the financial support to Israel, you should observe how Israel violated the International Law, and used those weapons against our people”, the letter adds.

“Mr. President, before you took office, you were a very distinguished Law teacher, and your administration said it would boost the role of law in the Arab and Islamic worlds” the letter states, “The International Court ruled in 2004 that all of the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, are occupied territories, and that those territories belong to the Palestinians”.

“The court recognized the Palestinian right of self determination, and independence. Israeli settlements are illegal and not a single judge of the 15 judges of the International Court of Justice, ever objected to this ruling”.

The Hamas letter also states that the United Nations, the General Assembly, and every human rights group agree that the Israeli siege is illegal, and violates the international law because it is a form of collective punishment.

“We at the government formed by Hamas, are committed to a just solution to the conflict, a solution that is coherent with the internal law and the basic principles of human rights, we are willing to hold talks with all parties, with respect, and without any preconditions”.

“What the people are looking for is real change, a change the ends the construction of settlements, a change that adopts a parallel and non biased policy that respects the international law”.

the free gaza movement also published an open letter to obama echoing some of the above concerns:

Tomorrow you travel to Egypt to give one of the most important speeches of your presidency. With the words you deliver you have said that you want to “reset” U.S. relations with the Muslim world and create a fundamental change for the better. We sincerely wish you well. But you have also said that “part of being a good friend is being honest.” Let’s be honest.

Israel’s ongoing occupation and colonization of Palestinian land and the United States’ unquestioned financial, military and political support for Israel is at the heart of the negative perceptions and bitter anger that many Arabs and Muslims have of the United States. Tomorrow, we hope to hear from you a commitment to aligning U.S. policy in the Middle East with U.N. Resolutions and international law.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights gives everyone the right to freely enter and exit one’s own country. You will exercise this right when you arrive in Egypt tomorrow and then return to the United States. This is a right that Palestinians–particularly those trapped in Gaza–are routinely denied.

* Over 200 Palestinian medical patients in Gaza, many critically ill, are unable to seek adequate treatment because Israeli authorities regularly deny Palestinian patients the right to travel abroad to receive the medical treatment that is not available in Gaza; at the same time import of many medicines and medical equipment into Gaza is prevented by Israel.

* Over 700 Palestinian students in Gaza, many with scholarships, are unable to attend their universities abroad because Israel regularly denies them this right.

* Thousands of Palestinians abroad are unable to visit their families because Israel will not allow them to re-enter their own country.

When you arrive in Egypt you will travel to your accommodations in a car maintained with spare parts banned to Palestinians, powered by gasoline denied to the people of Gaza. You will use electric lights that do not often work in Gaza, because Israel blocks the fuel needed to run Gaza’s electrical grid. You may enjoy a cup of coffee or tea during your visit – commodities Israel will not allow into Gaza.

The truth is that Israel lets in less than 20% of the ordinary supplies needed in Gaza, and allows no reconstruction materials whatsoever to enter. As a consequence over 95% of all industries have collapsed, creating massive unemployment and poverty. The purpose of the Israeli blockade is to punish and break an entire people. Collective punishment is strictly prohibited under international law, yet it remains Israel’s primary policy in regards to the Palestinian people.

On June 25th, the Free Gaza Movement sets sail on our eighth voyage to challenge the brutal Israeli blockade of Gaza. Though we have been threatened and our ships rammed by the Israeli navy, we will not be deterred. We sail in the spirit of the Freedom Riders who, in the year you were born, risked their lives so that African-Americans could travel freely in the United States. We sail in the spirit of international cooperation that helped create the United Nations, in the spirit of the international civil resistance that overcame Apartheid.

President Obama, you have based your political career on what you call the “audacity of hope” – the faith that each of us, individually and collectively, can change things for the better. But faith without action is dead. We too believe in hope, but from our experience we know that hope alone will not change the world. Like you, we know that the price and promise of our mutual humanity demands that each of us treat one another with dignity and respect, and that all of us strive to insure that our sisters and brothers around the world are free to make of their lives what they will, and pursue their full measure of happiness.

Mister President, you led the fight in the U.S. Senate to insure that aid was actually delivered to people after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. A man-made disaster continues to devastate the people of Gaza; due to Israel’s ongoing hermetic closure of the Gaza Strip over 80% of the population there require food assistance just in order to survive. We hope your speech tomorrow in Egypt is successful but, at a minimum, you must use your privilege to demand and secure open access to Gaza for all international humanitarian, reconstruction, and developmental supplies. Words matter, but words are not enough.

We in the Free Gaza Movement will sail to Gaza again and again and again, in vigorous unarmed resistance, until the Israeli blockade is forever shattered and the Palestinian people have free access to the rest of the world.

Please recognize that the fact that we even have to ask (let alone risk our lives) to be allowed to provide food to the hungry, medicine to the sick, and shelter to the homeless is in itself an obscenity. We look forward to hearing from you an uncompromising commitment for the immediate end of the criminal siege of Gaza, as well as an assurance that respect for the human rights, dignity and equality of the Palestinian people will be at the core of your administration’s policy toward the Israeli-Arab conflict.

if you read through the above open letters you will no doubt get a sense of the issues at stake here in palestine as well as in egypt and also for muslim americans. and if you compare these desires and requests above to the text of his speech (see below) you will see the hot air spewed from obama’s lips. it is hot air because whatever small things he may have said that some people in this region may read as hopeful, he will do nothing. nothing will change for the majority of the muslims who live under america’s bombs and who live under american and/or zionist colonialism and occupation. below are excerpts from his speech with my commentary mixed in.

Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. This has bred more fear and mistrust.

So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.

I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. No single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.” That is what I will try to do – to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.

Part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I am a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.

As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam – at places like Al-Azhar University – that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.

who does he think he is speaking to? is he really addressing muslims? does he really think they do not know this history?

I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America’s story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President John Adams wrote, “The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims.” And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, served in government, stood for civil rights, started businesses, taught at our Universities, excelled in our sports arenas, won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim-American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers – Thomas Jefferson – kept in his personal library.

what obama fails to mention here is that the first mulism in the united states were brought over from africa to serve as white colonists’ slaves.

So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.

But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words – within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum: “Out of many, one.”

it is interesting how he seems to forget how he played into this islamophobia by allowing rashid khalidi to be tarred and feathered during the election campaign. how soon they forget.

Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President. But my personal story is not so unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores – that includes nearly seven million American Muslims in our country today who enjoy incomes and education that are higher than average.

Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it.

So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations – to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.

Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.

For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. And when innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.

This is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; progress must be shared.

That does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. Indeed, it suggests the opposite: we must face these tensions squarely. And so in that spirit, let me speak as clearly and plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together.

The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms.

notice as he lists “violent extremist” elements below he fails to mention zionist extremism and american extremism, which primarily targets muslim countries and people.

In Ankara, I made clear that America is not – and never will be – at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security. Because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as President to protect the American people.

The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America’s goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice, we went because of necessity. I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet Al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.

Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.

That’s why we’re partnering with a coalition of forty-six countries. And despite the costs involved, America’s commitment will not weaken. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths – more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam. The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind. The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism – it is an important part of promoting peace.

We also know that military power alone is not going to solve the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is why we plan to invest $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to partner with Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and hundreds of millions to help those who have been displaced. And that is why we are providing more than $2.8 billion to help Afghans develop their economy and deliver services that people depend upon.

translation: the u.s. is somehow making amends because in addition to the massacres of pakistanis and afghans–not to mention the unprecedented number of refugees the u.s. has created, it will put band-aids on the wounds of these people with “aid.”

Let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: “I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be.”

Today, America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future – and to leave Iraq to Iraqis. I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq’s sovereignty is its own. That is why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August. That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq’s democratically-elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all our troops from Iraq by 2012. We will help Iraq train its Security Forces and develop its economy. But we will support a secure and united Iraq as a partner, and never as a patron.

And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter our principles. 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.

if you have been following the news or even my blog you know from journalists like jeremy scahill that this is 100% bull*&$# as americans are going to maintain dozens of permanent military bases and the private contractors are going to be increased. is this what obama means by unique?

So America will defend itself respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened. The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.

The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.

America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.

Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed – more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction – or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews – is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

this is the most deeply offensive part of his speech. he wants to address muslims and he lectures muslims about jewish suffering when most muslims are suffering because of the zionist entity and jewish supremacist ideology forced upon arabs in the region? is he serious here? if he must delve into history why not focus on an nakba? or if he wants to focus on the present how about gaza? is he really incapable of understanding the issues? the jewish problem is a european problem. his logic fails to demonstrate that arabs and muslims should not have to pay the price for europe’s sins.

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations – large and small – that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.

is it really that difficult to say the words: an nakba? to say the words ethnic cleansing? to say the words un resolution 194 and the right of return?

For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers – for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel’s founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.

That is in Israel’s interest, Palestine’s interest, America’s interest, and the world’s interest. That is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience that the task requires. The obligations that the parties have agreed to under the Road Map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for them – and all of us – to live up to our responsibilities.

no that is not in the palestinian people’s interest. it may be in the interest of the zionist-american collaborationist palestinian authority, but it is not in the interest of the 7.2 million palestinian refugees who have the only roadmap they need: un resolution 194.

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.

let me get this straight: obama wants us to think there are two equal sides here (of course, there are not) and yet only palestinians are being asked to not use violence to fight for their liberation. from south africa to india armed resistance is precisely what helped people to liberate their land. to pretend that this history does not exist is to read it through a very narrow lens.

Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, and to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist.

At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.

Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.

Finally, the Arab States must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognize Israel’s legitimacy; and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.

America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.

Too many tears have flowed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) joined in prayer.

The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.

This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically-elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I have made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question, now, is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.

It will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect. But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America’s interests. It is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.

I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America’s commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation – including Iran – should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the Treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.

i don’t think obama does understand: when the bullies of the world, principally, the u.s. and the zionist entity, get rid of their nuclear arsenal then perhaps we can talk.

The fourth issue that I will address is democracy.

I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.

That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.

There is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments – provided they govern with respect for all their people.

This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.

so ironic given that obama decided to deliver this speech in a country that suppresses democracy like no other. and that obama refuses to recognize the democratically elected government in palestine.

The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.

Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind, heart, and soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it is being challenged in many different ways.

Among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one’s own faith by the rejection of another’s. The richness of religious diversity must be upheld – whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt. And fault lines must be closed among Muslims as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.

Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it. For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That is why I am committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.

you gotta love this massive hypocrisy in the face of the united states sentencing 5 men (the holy land five) to 65 years in prison for collecting money for palestinians in the holy land foundation.

Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity.

I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and changing communities. In all nations – including my own – this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we will lose of control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities – those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith.

But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradiction between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies while maintaining distinct cultures. The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim-majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai. In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.

This is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work. Many Gulf States have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to focus it on broader development. But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century, and in too many Muslim communities there remains underinvestment in these areas. I am emphasizing such investments within my country. And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas in this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.

On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America, while encouraging more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America; invest in on-line learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a teenager in Kansas can communicate instantly with a teenager in Cairo.

just wondering: for palestinians in gaza who want to study, how exactly are they supposed to leave gaza given that egypt and the zionist entity maintain it as a prison?

On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. And I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.

On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries, and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create jobs. We will open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and appoint new Science Envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, and grow new crops. And today I am announcing a new global effort with the Organization of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.

All these things must be done in partnership. Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments; community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life.

The issues that I have described will not be easy to address. But we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world we seek – a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God’s children are respected. Those are mutual interests. That is the world we seek. But we can only achieve it together.

you cannot drop bombs on muslims every day and then pretend like you’re going to help with economic development. it just doesn’t work. your words reveal your deep hypocrisy.

I know there are many – Muslim and non-Muslim – who question whether we can forge this new beginning. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress. Some suggest that it isn’t worth the effort – that we are fated to disagree, and civilizations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur. There is so much fear, so much mistrust. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country – you, more than anyone, have the ability to remake this world.

All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort – a sustained effort – to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.

It is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This truth transcends nations and peoples – a belief that isn’t new; that isn’t black or white or brown; that isn’t Christian, or Muslim or Jew. It’s a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the heart of billions. It’s a faith in other people, and it’s what brought me here today.

We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.

The Holy Koran tells us, “O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.”

The Talmud tells us: “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.”

The Holy Bible tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God’s vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth. Thank you. And may God’s peace be upon you.

for a quick, witty summary of obama’s speech here is what as’ad abukhalil had to say about it:

So let me summarize Obama’s message to Arabs: if Arabs adopt and internalize Gun Zionism, the US will be very pleased.

ali abunimah has a terrific analysis of the speech in the guardian this afternoon appropriately entitled “a bush in sheep’s clothing”:

It was disappointing that Obama recycled his predecessor’s notion that “violent extremism” exists in a vacuum, unrelated to America’s (and its proxies’) exponentially greater use of violence before and after September 11, 2001. He dwelled on the “enormous trauma” done to the US when almost 3,000 people were killed that day, but spoke not one word about the hundreds of thousands of orphans and widows left in Iraq – those whom Muntazer al-Zaidi’s flying shoe forced Americans to remember only for a few seconds last year. He ignored the dozens of civilians who die each week in the “necessary” war in Afghanistan, or the millions of refugees fleeing the US-invoked escalation in Pakistan.

As President George Bush often did, Obama affirmed that it is only a violent minority that besmirches the name of a vast and “peaceful” Muslim majority. But he seemed once again to implicate all Muslims as suspect when he warned, “The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.”

Nowhere were these blindspots more apparent than his statements about Palestine/Israel. He gave his audience a detailed lesson on the Holocaust and explicitly used it as a justification for the creation of Israel. “It is also undeniable,” the president said, “that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation.”

Suffered in pursuit of a homeland? The pain of dislocation? They already had a homeland. They suffered from being ethnically cleansed and dispossessed of it and prevented from returning on the grounds that they are from the wrong ethno-national group. Why is that still so hard to say?

He lectured Palestinians that “resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed”. He warned them that “It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.” (Note: the last suicide attack targeting civilians by a Palestinian occurred in 2004)

Fair enough, but did Obama really imagine that such words would impress an Arab public that watched in horror as Israel slaughtered 1,400 people in Gaza last winter, including hundreds of sleeping, fleeing or terrified children, with American-supplied weapons? Did he think his listeners would not remember that the number of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians targeted and killed by Israel has always far exceeded by orders of magnitude the number of Israelis killed by Arabs precisely because of the American arms he has pledged to continue giving Israel with no accountability? Amnesty International recently confirmed what Palestinians long knew: Israel broke the negotiated ceasefire when it attacked Gaza last November 4, prompting retaliatory rockets that killed no Israelis until after Israel launched its much bigger attack on Gaza. That he continues to remain silent about what happened in Gaza, and refuses to hold Israel accountable demonstrates anything but a commitment to full truth-telling.

Some people are prepared to give Obama a pass for all this because he is at last talking tough on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. In Cairo, he said: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.”

These carefully chosen words focus only on continued construction, not on the existence of the settlements themselves; they are entirely compatible with the peace process industry consensus that existing settlements will remain where they are for ever. This raises the question of where Obama thinks he is going. He summarised Palestinians’ “legitimate aspirations” as being the establishment of a “state”. This has become a convenient slogan to that is supposed to replace for Palestinians their pursuit of rights and justice that the proposed state actually denies. Obama is already on record opposing Palestinian refugees’ right to return home, and has never supported the right of Palestinian citizens of Israel to live free from racist and religious incitement, persecution and practices fanned by Israel’s highest office holders and written into its laws.

He may have more determination than his predecessor but he remains committed to an unworkable two-state “vision” aimed not at restoring Palestinian rights, but preserving Israel as an enclave of Israeli Jewish privilege. It is a dead end.

There was one sentence in his speech I cheered for and which he should heed: “Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail.”

abunimah rightly pointed out the outrageous logic of lecturing muslims on the european actions during world war two. personally, i find it beyond shocking that this afternoon he headed towards germany to visit sites of that historic war in europe while continuing to refuse to visit gaza just a desert away. medea benjamin’s article in electronic intifada called on obama to visit gaza instead:

But the administration has said almost nothing about the devastating Israeli invasion of Gaza that left more than 1,400 dead, including some 400 children. To many in the Middle East, this is an unfortunate continuation of past policies that condemn the loss of innocent Israeli lives, but refuse to speak out against the disproportionately greater loss of Palestinian lives at the hands of the Israeli military.

The Israeli invasion of Gaza began on 27 December 2008, when Obama had just won the election but had not yet taken office. While he spoke out against the 26 November Mumbai terrorism attack, he refused to even call for a ceasefire in Gaza, saying coldly, “When it comes to foreign affairs it is particularly important to adhere to the principle of one president at a time.”

Once inaugurated, Obama appointed former Senator George Mitchell as a special peace envoy and immediately sent him on a “listening tour” to key places in the Middle East — except Gaza. Mitchell returned for a second trip to the region in late February, visiting Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Israel and the West Bank but once again bypassing Gaza. The same thing happened on his third trip in April.

Hillary Clinton has never visited war-torn Gaza. She promised $300 million for rebuilding, but the aid won’t get to Gaza as long as the administration insists on dealing only with Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority in the West Bank while shunning Hamas, which controls Gaza and was democratically elected.

one egypian blogger and tweeter اشتراكي ثوري pulled together his responses from the speech in a blog post that gives one a way better sense of what people are thinking and feeling here about his speech (in spite of the insane people al jazeera has been putting on–even marwan bishara seems to have lost his mind calling this speech “historic” today):

Just finished watching Bushama’s booooooooooring speech, you can read the full text here. My expectation that Obama would just recycle old bulls*&^ obviously came true, and if anyone calls his speech “historic” or a “new beginning” they obviously have lost touch with reality. This speech was so bad I thought even from a linguistic standpoint, I mean I could come up with a more articulate speech off the top of my head, but then again, despite what some people say, Bushama is not a good speaker. And he managed to pronounce every arabic word he included wrong.

Here are my tweets about Obama’s speech:

* RT: @DailyNewsEgypt: Obama says Mubarak has “decades of experience,” thanks president for “hospitality” #cairospeech
* mubarak does have years of experience in obeying his american and israeli masters, he also has a lot of “experience” in torture #cairospeech
* el azaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar? whats that obama??? #cairospeech
* mentioned “extremists” within a minute of starting #cairospeech
* obama will fight stereotypes against islam…er while killing as many muslims as possible #cairospeech
* RT: @amansour87: RT @3arabawy RT @wael : NDP Stooges must stop clapping in #cairospeech
* how many people has the us killed in the last 7 years? at least in the millions #cairospeech
* “military force will not solve the problem alone”…er but we will try #cairospeech
* why do americans always have to go on and on about the holocaust and 9/11?? #cairospeech
* have some courage coward and mention zionist holocaust of palestinians #cairospeech
* “the pain of dislocation” ah I think the pain of death, torture and beating would be more accurate #cairospeech
* “shoot rockets at children” so what the US and israel do every day? #cairospeech
* Israel has no “legitamacy” bushama! #cairospeech
* “this is not simply about america’s interests” yes it is, if it isn’t give up a few million of ur nuclear weapons, bushama #cairospeech
* oooooh democracy how exciting #cairospeech
* “we will support them everywhere” except if the dictators are our puppets #cairospeech
* no the us does not respect dissenting voices #cairospeech
* of course obama takes the white man stance: must preach those ayrabs about women’s rights #cairospeech
* RT: @norashalaby: Obama’s speech is completely patronizing #CairoSpeech
* Now: capitalism, obama will surely praise it #cairospeech
* “the issues I have addressed” will be solved through brutal capitalism and bloody imperialist violence #cairospeech
* stop with the religious crap! If he mentions “god’s children” again I am going to go insane #cairospeech
* “if we choose to be bound by the past we will never move forward” how clever! how original! #cairospeech
* RT: @mar3e: i know more muslim students who deported from usa for supportting the resistance in lebanon , afghanistan, palestine
* RT: @3arabawy: Obama will promote child and maternal health. This means more money for Mama Suzi the guardian of Egyp Motherhod #Cairospeech
* now the talmut! and the bible! stop with the religious crap! #cairospeech
* speech definitely was horrible even worse than I thought it would be, if anyone says tom it was good or even ok they are insane #cairospeech
* RT: @3arabawy: IS that it??!!!! What a historical speech indeed?!! #Cairospeech

as’ad abukhalil had an additional, lengthy response to the speech and here is part:

So Obama is asking for a bargain: to end Western racism (but not wars) against Muslims, Muslims need to stop attacking US foreign policy and wars. This is chicanery–don’t you like those old fashioned words? He talks about the US as a force of “progress.” How untrue for Obama’s audience: the US has consistently opposed forces of progress and advancement in the Middle East: in every conflict between an oil Sheikh or a polygamous prince against progressive socialists or Arab nationalist secularists, the US has always sided with the polygamous princes who have been in alliance with religious kooks and advocates of “holy wars.” Hell, he just came from Saudi Arabia where he praised the wisdom of the Saudi king and he wants to talk to me about “force of progress”? Maybe if you can bring up the issue of Wahhabi fanaticism I would believe you. He said that his personal story as an African American (with an African Muslim name) who was elected president is not unique. Yes, it is: and it was not easy: and his name was mocked during his campaign, and he made his best to distance himself from anything Muslims. So here, Obama is assuming that his Cairo audience are a bunch of idiots who did not follow his campaign and the reactions that it generated. He adds that Muslims in America enjoy education and income above average Americans. Yes, that is true, and I hate when people say that: the reasons is due to the racist/classist rules for the immigrants from Muslims/Middle East countries: only those who high degrees are allowed into the country, while poor people from other countries are allowed. If you are in the Middle East, your chances of being allowed into the US are related to the high degrees you hold. He said that there are mosques in the US but does not mention that many communities fight tooth and nail against those mosques. His references to Iraq and Afghanistan are largely apologetic: and he does not mention that his past critiques of the invasion of Iraq was asking to the criticisms of the Israeli occupation of West Bank and Gaza in Tikkun: that it is based on what is good or bad for Israel, and not for what it does to the victims. He talks about Taliban and Al-Qa`idah’s killing of Muslims (and Muslims know that they have killed Muslims) but he does not mention that Bush administration and Obama administration have also been killing innocent Muslims: if anything, the rate of bombing from the air may have increased over Afghanistan under Obama: the advocate of the surge in Afghanistan versus Bush, the advocate of surge in Iraq. What a difference. I was offended by his lecturing to Muslims about Jewish suffering: as if the audience is entirely anti-Semitic. There are anti-Semites in the US and he does not lecture to them. He spoke about the repugnant practice of Holocaust denial but did not mention that the literature is entirely Western in that regard. And he then moves from a discussion of the Nazism to the Arab-Israeli conflict. What is his point here: that because of Nazi crimes, the Palestinians need to accommodate Zionist crimes on their lands? This is the most offensive section of course: he talks about the Palestinians without identifying who was doing those bad things to them. Look at this sentence: “have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation.” So their suffering is due to their pursuit of a homeland: so they should stop the pursuit and the suffering will go away. He then mention the “pain of dislocation.” What is that o Obama? Is that like a shoulder dislocation? He refers to Palestinian reference to “for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel’s founding” but never mentions Israeli wars, attacks, and invasions and yet he makes specific references to Palestinian violence thereby making it clear that adheres to White Man standards: that only Israeli lives matter. I mean, if you compare the killing and terrorism between the two sides, the Israeli side clearly comes out on top in terrorism, wars, and aggression. He then lectures the Palestinians: “Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed.” I read that and thought: wait. Did you not in the early part of the speech bragged about how the US fought (non-violently, I may add) against British Empire? I should lecture Obama here: why didn’t the US resort to non-violent resistance against the British Empire? How could he speak about nuclear weapons without even mentioning the Israeli arsenal? That was another insult to the intelligence of the audience: maybe Jeffrey Feltman and Daniel Shapiro told him that Arabs don’t know that Israel has nuclear weapons.

there will be more responses in the coming days, i’m sure. but this is enough to give you a sense of the deeply offensive, deeply hypocritical speech by bushama.

65 years in jail for providing charity (to palestinians that is)

holy_land_five_site_merged

this week five men from the holy land foundation were sentenced to prison terms. here are the details from democracy now!’s coverage, and if you click the link below you can watch goodman and gonzalez’s report:

JUAN GONZALEZ: Five founders of a Muslim charity have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms in a controversial case that began nearly ten years ago. The Holy Land Foundation, based in a Dallas suburb, was the biggest Muslim charity in the United States before the Bush administration shut it down in 2001. Its five founders were convicted last November on charges of funneling money to the Palestinian group Hamas. The US government declared Hamas a terrorist organization in 1995.

It was the second trial against the Holy Land Foundation’s five leaders after the first ended in a mistrial. The government’s case relied on Israeli intelligence as well as disputed documents and electronic surveillance gathered by the FBI over a span of fifteen years.

AMY GOODMAN: Defendants Ghassan Elashi and Shukri Abu Baker each received sixty-five-year prison sentences. At his sentencing hearing, Elashi said, “Nothing was more rewarding than…turning the charitable contributions of American Muslims into life assistance for the Palestinians. We gave the essentials of life: oil, rice, flour. The occupation was providing them with death and destruction.” Another defendant, Mohammad El-Mezain, was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. He was found guilty of supporting Hamas but acquitted on thirty-one other charges. Volunteer fundraiser Mufid Abdulqader was sentenced to twenty years in prison. And the fifth defendant, Abdulrahman Odeh, was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. All five defendants plan to file appeals.

angry arab put it best, i think, responding to this criminalization of palestinians in the united states:

If you funnel money to the Israeli terrorist army, it is tax-deductible in the US. And if you funnel money to any Palestinian group, you serve time in jail.

here is a statement from the holy land 5’s website and you can follow its updates if you want to see how you can help, and below, more importantly, why you should help:

As we’ve shown in our Counterpoints to the Case, the Holy Land Foundation is not being accused of providing funds to HAMAS, nor is HLF being accused of committing or supporting any acts of violence. So, what crime is the government charging HLF with?

Feeding orphans.

So, why is this important to us as Americans? Well, think for a minute about the power that the President exercised when he single-handedly shut down HLF and declared the charity a terrorist organization. Should one man, regardless of his rank within our government, have the king-like power to shut down businesses or organizations without providing a shred of evidence to the public to support such actions? Think about how you would feel if it was you or your organization being attacked by an executive order? Don’t think it could happen to you?

Think again.

What happens when the government has no evidence and therefore has no case? Normally, it has to drop the case. However, despite not having any evidence of wrongdoing, the government decided to manufacture a case against HLF. How did they do this? Easy, just “re-define” what is legal. Because every penny of the money donated to HLF was well-documented and these documents prove without any doubt that no funds were used to support terrorism, the government changed course and decided to create a “logical” argument that somehow feeding orphans in Palestine — which is perfectly legal and done by many US-based humanitarian organizations — was somehow the same as supporting HAMAS …

… at least in HLF’s case.

But isn’t that discriminatory, and why should you care? Yes, it is discriminatory and you should care because if the government is allowed to say that someone doing perfectly legal humanitarian aid should be designated illegal for strictly political reasons, then what happens to you if your views, your religion or your country of origin falls out of political favor with the current administration?

Can you see the serious dangers of such powers?

What if it was your charity, your organization, your business, your church or your synagogue that the President decides he doesn’t like? What if it is you that the government decides to throw in jail without providing any evidence of wrong-doing? What if it is you or someone you care about who the government decides to manufacture a case against? What if it is your family the government decides to destroy…

…all because you hold different political beliefs?

So, I hope you are beginning to see how this case affects you. If the government can prosecute one organization or one person without any evidence, cause or legal justification, do you think they will stop there? So, are you still asking yourself “Why should I care?” The reason you should care is simple, because…

You could be next.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from the Birmingham Jail, 1963.

this is islamophobia and racism against palestinians at its worst. and where is all that hope and change from obama that he is promising the muslim world?

a nakba in the making

it is unreal. it is deja-vu. i cannot believe what i am watching and reading about the massive flight of half a million pakistanis because of the united states project of state terrorism and upheaval in in the region. just take a look at this raw footage from al jazeera of pakistanis fleeing their homes in the swat valley:

both mohammed idrees pulse media and an article from the independent by andrew buncombe call this “the biggest human flood since 1947.” here is part of buncombe’s report:

Aid groups have warned of a human tide of up to 500,000 people fleeing their homes. The UN said an estimated 200,000 have fled the Swat valley and its main town, Mingora, in the past few days alone, while another 300,000 are poised to flee if they get the chance. This would create a total of one million people forced from their homes by fighting in the past 12 months. It represents the biggest internal displacement of people in Pakistan since independence more than 60 years ago.

“People are in shock. In some cases their homes have been destroyed by mortar shells. They are wondering when they’ll be able to go back. Others say they will not be able to go back,” said Antonia Paradela, an official with Unicef who interviewed Sahin and other refugees in the Sheikh Shehzad refugee camp near Mardan, a city in the south of the Swat valley. “This is the place where the families are coming. They are tired, sweaty, dusty. There are whole families crying because they have lost someone. But there is also a sense of relief to be out of the danger.”

Under mounting international pressure, the government of Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistan’s military launched this week’s operation to drive the Taliban from the former tourist destination of Swat after a controversial, three-month ceasefire with the militants fell apart. After a previous military effort failed to dislodge the militants who had extended their violent influence throughout the valley over a two year period, the government in February signed a peace deal which included an agreement to establish Sharia courts in Swat and some neighboring areas.

The Taliban, however, failed to meet its end of the agreement and lay down its arms. Indeed, emboldened by the government’s acquiescence, the militants then spread from Swat into the neighbouring and strategically important Buner valley. The army is also battling to drive the Taliban from Buner and nearby Lower Dir.

While journalists are, in effect, prevented from reaching the war zone, the military’s operation – which involves more than 5,000 troops pitched against an estimated 5,000 Taliban fighters – appears unexpectedly firm, and officials said that 140 militants had already been killed in the past two days. Some observers had wondered whether the army, trained and prepared to fight a conventional war against India, had the will or the capability to take on a well-trained guerrilla enemy.

There was also speculation whether, in the week that Barack Obama outlined his new “Af-Pak” strategy to Mr Zardari and the Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai, in Washington, there may have been a reluctance to fight what could have been seen as another battle in America’s war. The Obama administration’s policy of using missiles fired from unmanned drones at suspected militant targets and the subsequent civilian “collateral damage” this causes is hugely unpopular in Pakistan.

Yet this time, several things appear different. From the start, the battle for Swat has been pitched as a battle for the future of the Pakistan – and one that has been directed by the Pakistani authorities rather than Americans. In a televised address on Thursday as the military operation was formally announced, the Prime Minister, Yousaf Gilani, said: “In order to restore honour and dignity of the country, the armed forces have been called in to eliminate militants and terrorists. We will eliminate those who have tried to destroy the peace of the country.”

The seemingly widespread support for this operation, as opposed to Washington’s drone strikes, appears based in large part on growing public dismay with the Taliban. With the Taliban having embarked on a policy of burning girls’ schools and beheading their opponents, only to be “rewarded” with a deal that saw Sharia law enacted, the Pakistani public is growing more anxious as the militants’ threat has increased rather than reduced.

Those involved in brokering the ceasefire say the Taliban have now exposed their true colours and must be dealt with by force. “What the people know is that we tried everything possible. The Taliban had their own agenda and that has become clear to people,” said Bushra Gohar, the vice-president of the Awami National Party, which heads the regional government in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). “We hope this will be a clearly targeted operation that will go after the training camps and the leadership.”

Analysts say the operation to drive the militants from Swat and then hold the ground to allow the return of a civilian administration could take months. With the militants having established themselves across Swat’s mountainous terrain over the past two years, even if the military succeeds in forcing them from Mingora and other towns, the Taliban could retreat to smaller adjacent valleys and strike back with bomb attacks on convoys, checkpoints and military camps. It is also likely that the militants could increase suicide strikes on targets outside Swat to act as a diversion.

Some commentators have speculated that in such circumstances, an inconclusive but bloody campaign with a large number of civilian casualties would undermine public support for the operation. The army says it is determined to succeed. “The army is now engaged in a full-scale operation to eliminate the militants, miscreants and anti-state elements from Swat,” said the army’s spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas. “They are on the run and trying to block the exodus of civilians from the area.”

As a result, hundreds of thousands more people like Sahin are likely to be rushing desperately out of Swat and towards the refugee camps at the southern end of the valley in the coming days. At the moment, only a tiny fraction of the displaced are being housed in the camps – the majority being able to stay with relatives or in rented rooms – but in the coming weeks that could change.

Sahin, her children and some other members of her family have nowhere else to go. Five months ago, when an earlier spike in violence drove them from Swat, they were able to stay with relatives in Peshawar. This time, that option was not available to them, she said. For now the family must sit amid the tents of the camp at Sheikh Shehzad, waiting and wondering.

al jazeera further reports of the humanitarian crisis as a result of the flood of internally displaced people:

The announcement by the Pakistani military covers the towns of Mingora, Kamabar and Kabal.

Tens of thousands of Pakistani civilians in the Swat valley have found themselves trapped amid worsening fighting between government forces and the Taliban.

Bodies were reported to be lying in roads, homes reduced to ruins and people left cowering with no means of escape after the military imposed curfews across the region amid the fighting.

“Anger is growing that the government did not give the citizens adequate warning to escape,” Hyder reported.

“Many people are saying their government has abandoned them … what is unfolding here is the tip of the iceberg, the worst is yet to come.”

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have already fled the fighting.

But Hyder said those who have fled the fighting are in refugee camps and receiving little government help.

al jazeera’s sohail rahman reports on this refugee crisis in the swat valley:

m. junaid levesque-alam offers some insight into the current crisis in pakistan, particularly the u.s. role in this crisis which many people seem to leave by the wayside forgetting who started this problem to begin with.

I often wondered what would happen to those whose misery I impotently observed; those left for decades without the housing, food or education I was afforded. History has now caught up to the present and supplied us the answer in the form of the Taliban.

The militants, of course, assert that they are simply bringing “true Islam” to Pakistan. Even a cursory glance at Islamic precepts and the Prophet Muhammad’s own example reveal an ethos sharply at odds with the Taliban’s harsh practices which, more than anything else, reflect a history of Pashtun tribalism that precedes Islam’s arrival by centuries and constitutes the militants’ base.

The Taliban’s ascent is not a failure of Islam, but rather the failure of the Pakistani national project to fulfill the basic functions of a sovereign state; to heed the call of its great poets, who denounced inequality and called for a revival and modernization of Islamic thought.

Most Americans are, understandably, more interested in results than reasons: As the Taliban limns the outlines of Pakistan’s demise with the unforgiving scalpel of extremism, will Pakistan confront this force, or succumb to it?

It is difficult to say. Ironically, it is America’s own mode of involvement that harms its interests: Our only visible contributions there today are drones, missiles and destruction. This has produced a polarizing effect whereby any force that opposes America — regardless of its real aims — elicits sympathy from sectors of the military and the rural masses.

Pakistan may be willing to plunge a sword through its heart just to pierce the skin of American interventionism, a case of spite through national suicide.

It is also impossible to know when a people will say enough is enough. While it’s incomprehensible to most of us that any government could comport with the Taliban and its horrors, it is worth remembering that America was willing to permit the horror of slavery for almost 100 years until the slave states declared secession and initiated war.

there are certainly all sorts of recent and past horrors that this fighting and flight reminds one of. here is a brief reflection of the partition, which is, in part, what this exodus makes me think of, by arundhati roy:

The Radcliffe Line, which separated India and Pakistan and tore through states, districts, villages, fields, communities, water systems, homes and families, was drawn virtually overnight. It was Britain’s final, parting kick to us. Partition triggered the massacre of more than a million people and the largest migration of a human population in contemporary history. Eight million people, Hindus fleeing the new Pakistan, Muslims fleeing the new kind of India left their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

that flight–that initial flight–was every bit as much of a nakba as the one following it in 1948 when palestinians were uprooted from their land and homes and many massacred as well. i watched deepa mehta’s disturbing, though beautiful, film earth again last night, which is based on the wonderful novel cracking india by bapsi sidhwa. i highly recommend the novel and the film–so many lessons, reminders for us not to repeat the past. here is a trailer of the film:

of course now we are not seeing–yet, anyway–that large scale massacre, but we are seeing that level of large scale stream of refugees. and given that all of this started with the united states bombing afghanistan and pakistan (albeit the latter is undeclared) it seems to me that the united states should take responsibility for this flood of refugees and this new humanitarian crisis that it created. under international law the one state initiating the armed conflict is responsible for the refugees it creates in the process. of course, the united states has found all sorts of ways to get out of its responsibility with respect to iraqi refugees so it’s not like it will be stepping up to the plate in pakistan either. but i think the issue should be raised, especially as various united nations agencies are indicating that there is a serious lack of all sorts of basics for pakastani internally displaced people.

there are good tunnels and then there are bad tunnels

more and more i have come to believe that one reason for the savagery targeting gaza for 23 days in december-january by israeli terrorists was to distract us from the creeping ethnic cleansing in al quds and elsewhere in the west bank and naqab. while israeli terrorists continue to bomb palestinian tunnels–now with the help of their egyptian zionist partners–they are building their own tunnels. of course, their tunnels are the tunnels which are illegal, on occupied land. but those don’t get bombed (and not that they should given that this is a densely populated palestinian neighborhood). but clayton swisher on al jazeera does a great job of illustrating exactly what this tunneling in al quds looks like as well as its effects on the palestinians in the silwan neighborhood:

swisher interviews a lawyer from the zionist entity who makes an interesting statement about how to solve this problem: “take the matches away from the pyromaniacs.” hmmmm. but what to do when the state gives the pyromaniacs the matches to begin with. and then another state (my country, the u.s.) gives them even bigger lighters and such?

meanwhile, just an hour ago i learned that israeli terrorists are on their way to attack al aqsa. i’m heading there directly after school today as friends have asked me to come and help. this is what i will be up against:

Right-wing Israeli religious groups have threatened to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem, raising the specter of violence on Thursday.

The messianic Jewish movement Chabad called on its followers to go to Al-Aqsa to “conquer and Judaize the holiest place on earth, which is being desecrated in such a disgraceful and shameful way.”

The Islamic Movement inside Israel also called on Palestinians to demonstrate at the Al-Aqsa Compound and defend it from Israeli attack. The Movement said it was sounding a “general alarm in Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem.”

Fearing riots, the Israeli police impose restrictions on who is allowed inside the compound on Thursday. Palestinian residents of Jerusalem who are under the age of 50 are barred from the area, the police said.

Ma’an’s correspondent, reporting from the scene in Jerusalem said the Israeli police had deployed heavily in the area of the Al-Aqsa Compound.

A top Palestinian Authority official on Jerusalem Affairs, Hatem Abdul-Qader said Israeli authorities who control Jerusalem are responsible for preventing violence, but nonetheless urged Palestinians to take part in the demonstrations.

”We called on the people and all the national and religious institutions to demonstrate to prevent such an action from happening,” he said.

The third holiest site in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is also the location of the iconic Dome of the Rock and a major symbol of Palestinian nationalism. The area on which it rests is also claimed by Jews who believe it to be the location of the ancient Second Temple.

Israeli settlers have entered the Al-Aqsa compound at least twice in the last week. On Sunday, some 50 settlers entered the compound during a time-slot reserved for foreign tourists.

The second Palestinian Intifada (Uprising) was sparked by a visit by right-wing Israeli leader Ariel Sharon to the compound.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it, claiming the whole city as a part of its “eternal undivided capital.” The international community does not recognize Israeli control over the area.

meanwhile palestinians who just want to pray today will not be able to do so at al aqsa if they are male and under the age of 50 (because, of course, the invaders must be able to rule the spaces the colonize in an unhindered fashion):

As extremist right wing Israeli groups are planning to flock to the Al Aqsa mosque, the Israeli police decided that barring Palestinians less than 50 years old from entering the mosque, is the way to deal with the issue.

Local sources in Jerusalem reported that hundreds of Israeli policemen were deployed in the yards of the Al Aqsa mosque and in different part of the Old City in an attempt to bar clashes between the Palestinians and the extremist settlers.

An Israeli police sources said that the police also plans to limit the entry of worshipers into the compound. This could mean that some Palestinians who are 50 or more might not be allowed through.

The police order states that Arab men with blue identity cards (Israeli ID cards) who are over the age of 50 would be allowed into the mosque. The police did not place restrictions on the age of women.

The Israeli measures, clearly directed against the Palestinians, were made as several right wing Jewish groups issued calls to their supporters to flock to the Al Aqsa mosque yards.

One of the extremist groups, calling itself Habad, said that “The time has come to conquer and Judaize the holiest place on heart”, referring to the Al Aqsa mosque.

The Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel called on the Muslims to flock to the mosque and protect it.

Kamal Al Khatib, deputy chief of the Islamic Movement, told the Israeli Ynet News that the Muslims will protect the mosque and “will not allow anybody to do anything in it”.

He also said that the police should take a stand and bar the settlers from entering the mosque yards.
category

on arab nationalism

the other night sayyed hassan nasrallah gave a televised speech in response to charges from the egyptian regime and arrests of palestinians and lebanese in egypt. the speech is an important one as it reminds us a a key ideology that has its roots in egypt–that of arab nationalism–but one that the united states and the zionist killed with their puppet regimes following the death of gamal abdel nasser. nasser wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but what he stood for and what he preached–arab nationalism, challenging imperialism–has been lost for decades, not among the people so much as their leaders who are controlled by american-zionist imperialism that nasser fought against. nasrallah’s words are worth reading for they remind us of how arabs should be speaking and acting if they want to stand for morality and justice. his words are a reminder of why he is the only leader in the region who is worth listening to:

<blockquote>Sayyed Nasrallah then began the first axis of his speech by recalling of the main facts related to the whole case. According to his eminence, the Egyptian authorities have detained on November 19, 2008, a Lebanese citizen and accused him alongside other people of attempting to smuggle arms and equipment to Gaza.

“One month later, the Zionist entity launched its deadly aggression against Gaza,” Sayyed Nasrallah noted, recalling that Hezbollah’s position during the offensive was transparent and public. His eminence recalled that he has personally urged the Egyptian regime to open crossing with Gaza. “Then, it was our duty to denounce the Egyptian regime for its refusal to open the crossings,” Sayyed Nasrallah said. “Right after this stance, a political and commercial huge campaign was launched in Egypt against me and Hezbollah, under the instructions of the Egyptian authorities and intelligence. Yet, we considered the campaign as a reaction and a natural price for our stance and we were ready to pay it.”

Hezbollah Secretary General noted that the volume of the campaign launched by the Egyptian regime against his party was remarkable, recalling that some Sunni scholars also condemned the Egyptian President and even accused him of betrayal. “Yet, the Egyptian authorities didn’t condemn those scholars as they did with Hezbollah,” his eminence pointed out to conclude that their position with Hezbollah was different “because Hezbollah was a Resistance.” Sayyed Nasrallah went on to say that there are parties in the Arab world that are offensive against the Resistance and are very close to their American and Israeli masters in dealing with this issue.

Turning into facts, Sayyed Nasrallah recalled that Hezbollah is clear in its positions and has nothing to hide in whatever circumstances. Hence, his eminence declared that the Lebanese citizen Sami Chehab, who was detained in Egypt, was actually a member of Hezbollah. “Our brother Sami, is a member of Hezbollah, we don’t deny this,” Sayyed Nasrallah announced. “He was providing logistic help to the Palestinian resistance at the Egyptian-Palestinian borders,” his eminence added, noting that this was the only right thing that actually didn’t figure in the Egyptian claims. “All other charges against him are false.”

“If aiding the Palestinians is a crime, then I am proud of it,” Sayyed Nasrallah emphasized. His eminence noted “that the aim here is to agitate the Egyptian people and to defame Hezbollah’s pure and bright image. This aims to only please the Americans and Israelis for the Egyptian regime has failed by all means.”

Sayyed Nasrallah emphasized that the one who should be charged and condemned over this case was not Sami or his friends but the Egyptian regime. “The Egyptian regime should be charged and condemned for besieging Gaza,” his eminence said, noting that the mentioned regime is working day and night on destroying Gaza tunnels.

The Resistance leader expressed regret because the Egyptian regime was escalating its aggression against the resistance movements in the region instead of backing and supporting them. “We were expecting the Egyptian regime to take the initiative and invite the Arabs to discuss how to face the Israeli threats, but unfortunately we saw that the Egyptian regime decided instead to increase his conflict with the Resistance.”

To conclude on the topic, Sayyed Nasrallah fully rejected and denied all charges that Hezbollah was intending to launch an act of aggression in Egypt or at any part of the world. His eminence stressed that his party does not intend to enter into any form of enmity and conflict with any Arab, Islamic or international regime in the world, confirming that its sole enemy remains the Zionist entity.

“The charge of attempting to spread the Shiite way of thinking and practices is baseless,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, adding that no single individual can do so in Egypt. “To accuse us of being agents working for others is also meaningless,” his eminence emphasized.

Sayyed Nasrallah, meanwhile, expressed regret over the attempts of some Arabs to present Hezbollah as Al-Qaeda, confirming that Hezbollah does not have extensions abroad and is not involved in any conflict in other Arab countries.

“Hezbollah is a purely Lebanese party from its leadership to its base and it has no branches anywhere else,” the Resistance leader asserted. “Hebzollah’s mission is to protect Lebanon from the Zionist danger,” his eminence recalled, stressing that the party doesn’t actually interfere in any internal conflict of any state in the world. “However, in facing the Zionist criminality, it’s our duty to help the Palestinians, just as it’s their duty to help us in the same circumstances.”

Sayyed Nasrallah also stressed that his party had nothing to do with what is going on in Yemen and Bahrain. “Al-Hayat newspaper reported that Hezbollah members have helped the Huthies (a rebel group in Yemen) behind the back of their leadership,” Sayyed Nasrallah recalled. His eminence stressed that Hezbollah is a well disciplined party and there are no Hezbollah members who operate alone but stressed his party has nothing to do with the whole issue. His eminence also emphasized the claims in some Gulf dailies over backing opposition figures in Bahrain. “No one in Bahrain has asked anything from us, and even if there was such request, we can’t respond favorably.”

Sayyed Nasrallah then addressed the Arab regimes and leaders, urging them to leave Hezbollah alone. “Don’t put on Hezbollah’s back more than it can bear,” Sayyed Nasrallah said. “We’re clear and transparent and whenever we do something wrong we have the necessary courage to admit it,” Sayyed Nasrallah said.

His eminence called on the media to verify of all their news stories, and examine all what the intelligence branches are doing and making up. His eminence concluded by stressing that his party was not engaging into a battle with the Egyptian regime. “We disagreed with them over the Gaza aggression and we’re still in disagreement with them over this issue, and that’s it.”

for those who want some context on arab nationalism, al jazeera did a documentary about arab nationalism that is worth watching. it reminds us of the core value that desperately needs to be resuscitated:

Nasserism had taken Arabism a step further. He believed Arabs would be stronger if united, that they shared a common struggle against colonial powers and that the liberation of Palestine should be an Arab duty.

Nasser’s vision extended far beyond Egypt. He believed that the lessons of the revolution should be applied in other Arab countries.

His charisma and influence were so great that he inspired Arabs elsewhere to dream of a unified Arab nation. His defiant attitude towards Egypt’s former colonial masters made him even more popular. Nasserism swept the region.

here is the rather long, but important, documentary:

why unity?

unity betrayed

trials & tribulations

a cause for unity

unity experiment

disillusion

the jewish factor

disunity

on nuclear weapons, or when words are empty

there are certain journalists i want to clone: jonathan cook is one. nora barrows-friedman is another. jeremy scahill is another. i have been ketir frustrated by the reports on barack obama’s visit to turkey and the way in which people in this region are so easily duped again. what is it about hungry people who need to jump at the slightest sight of a crumb? how is it possible that empty words about islam can make people think that somehow obama gave a great speech? people who make speeches full of empty words are not great orators. they are great manipulators at best. just look at one example of this that people seem to be salivating over:

Turkey has been a true partner. Your troops were among the first in the International Security Assistance Force. You have sacrificed much in this endeavor. Now we must achieve our goals together. I appreciate that you’ve offered to help us train and support Afghan security forces and expand opportunity across the region. Together, we can rise to meet this challenge like we have so many before.

I know there have been difficulties these last few years. I know that the trust that binds the United States and Turkey has been strained, and I know that strain is shared in many places where the Muslim faith is practiced. So let me say this as clearly as I can: The United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam.

In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical not just in rolling back the violent ideologies that people of all faiths reject, but also to strengthen opportunity for all its people.

I also want to be clear that America’s relationship with the Muslim community, the Muslim world, cannot, and will not, just be based upon opposition to terrorism. We seek broader engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect. We will listen carefully, we will bridge misunderstandings, and we will seek common ground. We will be respectful, even when we do not agree. We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world — including in my own country. The United States has been enriched by Muslim Americans. Many other Americans have Muslims in their families or have lived in a Muslim-majority country — I know, because I am one of them.

when you bomb islamic countries regularly (afghanistan, iraq, palestine, and pakistan) your words mean nothing. it may not be called a war on islam, but who is dying? the majority of the people murdered by obama’s bombs are muslims. how is it exactly that muslims are supposed to see his words as genuine when his actions tell us the opposite? moreover, what is even more disturbing is his deliberate deception when it comes to palestine and iran:

The United States and Turkey can help the Palestinians and Israelis make this journey. Like the United States, Turkey has been a friend and partner in Israel’s quest for security. And like the United States, you seek a future of opportunity and statehood for the Palestinians. So now, working together, we must not give into pessimism and mistrust. We must pursue every opportunity for progress, as you’ve done by supporting negotiations between Syria and Israel. We must extend a hand to those Palestinians who are in need, while helping them strengthen their own institutions. We must reject the use of terror, and recognize that Israel’s security concerns are legitimate.

The peace of the region will also be advanced if Iran forgoes any nuclear weapons ambitions. Now, as I made clear in Prague yesterday, no one is served by the spread of nuclear weapons, least of all Turkey. You live in a difficult region and a nuclear arm race would not serve the security of this nation well. This part of the world has known enough violence. It has known enough hatred. It does not need a race for an ever-more powerful tool of destruction.

Now, I have made it clear to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran that the United States seeks engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect. We want Iran to play its rightful role in the community of nations. Iran is a great civilization. We want them to engage in the economic and political integration that brings prosperity and security. But Iran’s leaders must choose whether they will try to build a weapon or build a better future for their people.

first of all, palestine is one state. it is from the jordan river to the mediterranean sea. period. that is palestine. i realize that the problem is not entirely obama’s fault. he uses the discourse that was created by the colonizers and hammered into the minds and mouths of the colonized until it became naturalized; hence, obama as the emperor uses that rhetoric. palestinians play into western imperial rhetoric and plans when they speak the language of the colonial master (read: two states as if it consisted of palestine). after this speech in turkey an israeli terrorist newspaper today had the headline: “Israel fears US pressure to continue Annapolis process.” what i want to know is: when can i see a headline coming out of the palestinian collaborationist authority with a headline that says: “palestinians fear us pressure to continue annapolis process” (read post below if you want to know exactly what that looks like for palestinians on the ground).

but the other issue is the elephant in the room: obama is continuing in the path of his predecessors by obsessing over whether or not iran has nuclear weapons all the while the zionist entity already has them. many of them. thank god for jeremy scahill who makes this clear in his article in the socialist worker today in the context of north korea’s missile launch:

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S administration is pressing for diplomatic retaliation, perhaps in the form of more sanctions against North Korea, after Pyonyang launched a rocket into space.

There are conflicting reports about the success of the launch. North Korea says the rocket carried a satellite, which is now orbiting the earth. That’s according to state-run media in North Korea, which reportedly broadcast patriotic songs and images of Kim Jong-il, praising him for the launch.

The U.S., meanwhile, said the launch failed to reach orbit, landing in the Pacific Ocean. According to the New York Times, “Officials and analysts in Seoul said the North’s rocket, identified by American officials as a Taepodong-2, flew at least 2,000 miles, doubling the range of an earlier rocket it tested in 1998 and boosting its potential to fire a long-range missile.”

There is disagreement at the United Nations Security Council over whether North Korea violated any UN resolutions with the U.S. on one side and Russia, backed by China, on the other.

The Obama administration has called the launch a “provocative act.” “We think that what was launched is not the issue; the fact that there was a launch using ballistic missile technology is itself a clear violation,” said UN Ambassador Susan Rice, who is pressing for more sanctions against North Korea at the Security Council.

Chinese officials said North Korea, like other nations, had a right to launch satellites. “Every state has the right to the peaceful use of outer space,” said Russia’s deputy UN envoy, Igor N. Shcherbak.

Obama used the launch in his major address in Prague, which has been characterized as an anti-nuclear speech. “Rules must be binding,” he said of North Korea’s launch. “Violations must be punished. Words must mean something.”

Many countries around the world certainly see hypocrisy in the Obama administration’s position on North Korea. Israel has repeatedly been condemned by the UN for its occupation of Palestinian lands. Moreover, it has hundreds of nuclear weapons, with estimates ranging from 200 to 400 warheads.

What’s more, Israel and the U.S. are in league with North Korea in the small club of nations that have refused to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Other nations include: China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran and Pakistan.

In his Prague speech, Obama said his administration “will immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification,” saying, “After more than five decades of talks, it is time for the testing of nuclear weapons to finally be banned.”

All of this must be kept in context as the “crisis” with North Korea continues to unfold. U.S. hypocrisy on the nuclear issue takes away credibility the U.S. has in its condemnations of North Korea–or Iran, for that matter.

“Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile activity poses a real threat, not just to the United States, but to Iran’s neighbors and our allies,” Obama said in Prague. Obama used Iran to justify a controversial central European missile system, saying, “As long as the threat from Iran persists, we will go forward…with a missile defense system that is cost-effective and proven.”

Obama did not mention Israel once in his speech and has never acknowledged its nuclear weapons system. Perhaps Obama should ask Arab and Muslim nations in the region what country they see as the biggest nuclear threat. As Ali Abunimah, founder of ElectronicIntifada.net, said:

Rules are only rules if they apply to everyone. Obama’s silence in the face of Israel’s violation of international law, and UN calls for war crimes investigations in its on attacks on Gaza, contrast to his strident calls for Security Council action regarding North Korea. Israel has violated dozens of UN Security Council resolutions. Obama has even refused to acknowledge the existence of Israel’s nuclear arsenal, though former President Jimmy Carter has confirmed that the country has 150 nuclear weapons.

And this historical fact, which to Obama’s credit he acknowledged, should never be forgotten: One nation in the world has used nuclear weapons–the United States.

In a statement, Peace Action cautiously welcomed some of Obama’s positions outlined in Prague, but said:

President Obama’s statement that [a nuclear weapons-free] world might not be achieved in his lifetime is very disappointing. Obama can and should announce the initiation of negotiations on the global elimination of nuclear weapons. Similarly, his promotion of nuclear power, missile defense bases in Poland and the Czech Republic and his escalation of troops in Afghanistan are all moves in the wrong direction.

the bold is mine. it seems to me that people’s actions and words need to match up. it is never enough to say something. people must do. they must act. if obama cares so much for halting nuclear proliferation–and i hope he does–then the playing field must be equal. it can’t just be about renewing george bush’s axis of evil rhetoric in some softer tone that makes those who are not quite as bright fooled for a while because they want to be drunk on hope. both the u.s. and it’s criminal colonial partner need to start first. and if we really want to talk about words with meaning and weight that would allow us to see change: how about putting his money where his mouth is and at the very least admit that the zionist entity has a nuclear arsenal president obama?

and one final word about this speech: why is it that somehow obama is this big supporter of islam by giving a speech in turkey’s parliament where women are banned from wearing hijab???? am i the only person who sees yet another layer of hypocrisy here? moreover, the turkey’s continual oppression of the kurds–both in and outside its borders and its ridiculous law about insulting turkishness that can be threatened by uttering the fact that there was a genocide in armenia is, of course, too taboo for obama to push beyond a weak reference. as far as i am concerned turkey’s position on the kurds is the same as the zionists on the palestinians, which is why i think it makes sense that they are such great friends and partners even if recep tayyip erdogan stormed out of davos and made it a point to tell war criminal shimon peres off–which was fabulous–those words also mean nothing unless they are accompanied by anti-normalization the state level between the zionist entity and turkey.

on knowledge

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there are so many challenges here on a daily basis. this is, of course, in addition to the challenges of living in a place that is invaded daily by israeli terrorists and increasingly by their collaborating partners in the palestinian authority. some of the challenges are good. for instance, in my postcolonial literature class this week my students had read an excerpt of edward said’s culture and imperialism. i love teaching this class, especially here, but it is always so disheartening to be confronted with my students’ gaps in knowledge. i talked about how european colonialism (and now, of course, american imperialism) uses culture as a way to justify its colonial rule and as a way to prove its superiority. said uses the example of edmund spencer’s the fairie queen, which helped to justify england’s colonial project in ireland. i asked them to think about what said says in relation to this superiority as it always comes with subjugation of indigenous culture. i asked my students to think about this in relation to their studies here. my students, who study literature in english, have been taught that shakespeare is somehow superior to abu nuwas. when i mentioned the numerous artistic achievements in arab and islamic civilization, over the course of centuries, they seemed shocked. i still can’t get over this, but they did. apparently they are not only missing out on palestinian history and culture in their educational system, but also ancient arab and islamic culture. and, of course, no one has told them–until they read said’s chapter–that all of this so-called great literature and culture in europe originated in egypt and came to europe by way of greece, a fact that was conveniently erased by europeans in the 19th century as yet another way for them to rationalize their imperialism across the globe. but my students didn’t learn this in school. and, equally problematic, they do not seek it out on their own. one student told me the other day that she watches lbc television and she asked me if all lebanese people, especially women, are just like what she sees on that channel. i thank god that this is so far from the truth, but again, what disturbs me is that although she has also watched al manar or al jadeed somehow she has not synthesized the information in a way as to get a more complete picture of the complex society that exists in lebanon. moreover, why doesn’t such curiosity lend itself to reading some of the amazing poetry or novels by lebanese authors to give her a more diverse picture? i mean, this is what literature majors should do. or at least what i wish they would do.

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this challenge–to help my students learn about and value the awesomeness of the history and culture in this region–is one that i welcome. i am happy to share such knowledge with my students. and indeed it seems to me that they are eager to learn these things. but other challenges i do not find welcome like when i taught lorraine hansberry’s a raisin in the sun in my drama class this week. when i write a syllabus–especially here–i spend hours, if not weeks, searching for the perfect texts to teach. i have so many things i must balance. first and foremost i want texts that will inspire my students to read. to want to read for class and to want to read beyond the class assignments. second, i have to find texts that will be accessible to non-native speakers (which also means i have to pay attention to length). third, i have to make sure that a text is compatible with/respectful to islam. this means, for instance, that my postcolonial literature class contains no novels by women as i cannot find any that do not deal with sex and sexuality. this is a time consuming process to say the least. but it is usually rewarding. one of the plays i wanted to teach this semester is a raisin in the sun because of the themes of poverty and racism, of family, and of the freedom to live where one wants to live. i choose texts, too, with themes that resonate with my students here, with the context in palestine. so i had wanted them to see such parallels in this play. after class on wednesday, one of my students–who took this class from me last semester and failed–came up to complain that there is sex in the play. i said, of course there is no sex in this play; there are a couple of kisses between a man and a woman who are married. and islam actually celebrates sexuality within marriage–far more so than any other monotheistic religion. he told me that the play is 7aram. that i should not be teaching this play here. after our argument about this several other students stayed after class to tell me how much they loved the play and were happy that i shared it with them. but i couldn’t help but feel disturbed by his reaction. aside from the fact that there is decidedly nothing 7aram in this play, fixating on two kisses which compromise about 1% of the play, if that, means that he missed the larger point of the play. but also: what plays don’t have kissing. shakespeare? his plays are far more bawdy than this play. but also this suggests to me not that this student is a scholar of islam and has some particular problem with the representations in the play. rather, i feel that this has more to do with resisting education. with being open to new ideas. when you couple this with the horrendous gaps in the education system here, i become very disturbed.

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i needed some kind of an antidote to all of this. a dose of reality. so after school yesterday i headed over to balata refugee camp. when i was in lebanon i got a stack of 17 village books and i’ve been photocopying them and giving them to libraries and refugee camp cultural centers here. these village books are amazing. they are created in palestinian refugee camps in lebanon, jordan, and syria. they are done by people from and about their original villages in 1948 palestine. they are incredibly detailed with maps marking water wells, where weddings were celebrated, everything about village life. there are title deeds reproduced, photographs, as well as the history of these villages. one thing i love about them is that the people who do them do not take any money or support from any political faction. these village books are entirely independent. this project has not really been done here–not by people from the villages, although some scholars have attempted to do this work. but it isn’t the same. these are precious oral historical texts that are unlike anything else. and indeed they were received as precious gifts, as gems. knowledge is welcome there. desired, required. though there are limitations there, too, like everywhere else.

one of my students from balata is working on her research paper about palestinian resistance. she gave me a draft to read the other day. it was not at all a research on palestinian resistance. it was a glorification of fatah and its resistance. i told her–as i tell all my students–that research means you have to be willing to interrogate a subject, even one that is dear to your heart. you have to explore various points of view and question all of them. i told her she needs to read yezid sayigh’s armed struggle and the search for state, which is the bible on the subject. yet another barrier to knowledge here: the glorification of particular leaders and the unwillingness to see faults and learn from mistakes.

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when i got home i received a happy call from my dear friend areej who was in ramallah. she called to say she was on her way to nablus with a friend. i was so overjoyed to see her, not because i think she is one of the most amazing women i know. but also because i admire her so much: her desire to always learn, read, understand, know. she is always reading, always wanting to know more about palestine and everything else. this is what most of my close friends are like here, but i have not met enough people in nablus who are like this. i met her downtown and we went out to dinner at my new favorite restaurant, saleem offendi. it’s a bit hard to find as there are no signs, but it is a stunning old nabulsi home that has been renovated. after dinner we went out for knafe, because you cannot come to nablus without eating knafe. but it was late and a lot of the knafe shops were closed. we found one on the verge of closing. their doors were open, but they were out of knafe. these first four photographs explain what happened next. areej’s friend had never had knafe so of course they couldn’t send us home. instead they made us coffee and invited us into the kitchen to show us how they make knafe. i had never seen it made from scratch before so this was a great treat. and to top it off he made us a valentine’s knafe with pistachio heart on top.

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we woke up to amazingly beautiful weather today, which was welcomed after intense thunder storms this week and really cold temperatures. after areej went back to deheishe refugee camp, i went to my new friend and colleague abdel sattar qasim’s house for lunch. we spent a lovely afternoon on his veranda enjoying the warm sunlight and his beautiful garden that is just beginning to show some blossoms on the almond and peach trees. he showed me around the neighborhood and the amazing view as he lives on one of the highest mountains in nablus. i asked him about that 60 minutes episode with bob simon a few weeks ago–specifically about the house that israeli terrorists occupy and take over, holding the family hostage on a regular basis. and that house happens to be directly next door to his house. and indeed you can see over the city from this mountain, though not really the old city. this is why they invade regularly. and the israeli terrorists graced us with their presence while we were out on the veranda (see photos above/below). they invaded for about an hour mostly, it seems, to observe what was going on in the city below. even a beautiful, almost-spring day they must disrupt. but in spite of this i had an amazing time and a delicious meal.

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abdel sattar qasim is, unfortunately, a rare kind of person. he is someone whose politics are pure. he believes in the liberation of palestine. he refuses to belong to any political party. he supports all forms of resistance. and as a result of his outspokenness on the subject he has been in and out of israeli colonist and palestinian jails. in fact, i found out later today that my dear friend ziad was in an israeli colonist prison with him and abdel sattar was his teacher there. he taught ziad to speak english in the jail. ziad–another one of my friends whom i deeply admire–is someone who loves to call his time in prison “the university.” and he is like a few of my friends who are my age and who are now pursuing their education because when they were younger they were in the resistance and/or in jail. but their desire for knowledge was never eclipsed.

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i could listen to abdel sattar speak forever. the way he describes the factionalization of palestine. the way he longs for a palestinianization of education and life here. the way he is completely unwilling to normalize with israeli colonists and the way he is completely unwilling to give up on liberating 100% of palestine. he is one of the rare people who has not sold out. and yet as a consequence he is alternately labeled in the media here as either an israeli collaborator or as hamas. it seems people cannot handle the fact that he is an independent thinker and actor; they want to affix a label to him. before the madrid conference the american ambassador wanted him to attend the conference that led to normalization and that killed the more unified liberation struggle. he refused. even the israeli colonial governor commanded that he go and he said he’d prefer prison. and before that he went to lebanon in the 1970s to join the resistance and even then found that the various factions did not meet his high standards. and he wrote about this–he has written numerous books. he wrote then–i think in 1979–a book about how yassir ‘arafat had been serving the interests of americans and israelis, which is what we saw when they agreed to leave lebanon as a prelude to the massacre of palestinians in the shatila refugee camp and the surrounding neighborhood of sabra; this israeli-kata’eb massacre was made possible by the evacuation of all the freedom fighters. he has so many other specific examples of fatah coordinating with the israeli colonial and american masters, especially the way in which whenever it seems like they are losing favor among the people they attack the pa or fatah or ‘arafat (think the muqat’a in 2002). this, in the end, makes it possible for people to consolidate their support for the pa. he read so much and has experienced so much. and he has written so much. his books are bestsellers here. and yet his critiques of fatah and ‘arafat and of the palestinian authority have not had an effect; i wish they would. his voice is so badly needed, but this educational system in place here, which serves the needs of the pa (think louis althusser’s ideological state apparatus) keeps people in the dark. indeed, it so much easier to rule over a people made ignorant. but it is more than this, too. the salaries fatah gives to people here are like bribes. so many families cannot live without that money and if you speak out against fatah or the pa your salary disappears. it’s like hush money. it maintains the status quo. i could go on and on. i hope that he takes a break from writing his political science books and writes a memoir because his life sheds so much light on all of these themes and i think he is such a role model.

never before

rania sent me these videos from a new lebanon-based group called the “never before campaign.” the videos are very powerful. i don’t know any other details about this new group, but it looks promising.

and rami sent me this the other day from beirut, which also seems promising as it articulates so many of the strategic resistance discussions we had when i was there a few weeks ago:

From January 16 to 18 an international gathering of trend-setting importance took place in Beirut, Lebanon. About 1.000 delegates from Lebanon, the Arab world, Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia from the most divers resistance organisations found together in the “Beirut International Forum for Resistance, Anti-imperialism, Peoples’ Solidarity and Alternatives” vibrantly exchanging experiences and forging a common struggle.

In the opening session Hezbollah’s deputy-secretary Sheik Naim Kassem excellently expressed the common spirit: Today there are only two camps in the world. The one of US imperialism and its allies and the other one of the resistances regardless of their ideological, cultural or religious affiliation. The resistances must be unified against its common enemy which is only possible by respecting the diversity.

All of the speakers from the European anti-war and anti-imperialist movements, from Venezuela (which had a massive presence), form India and even from the United States in person of former US attorney general Ramsey Clark strongly confirmed this idea of an anti-imperialist alliance – which is an achievement of utmost importance. Only some years back this had been unthinkable. The resistance movements were mistrusted especially the Islamic ones and the Western antagonist forces still believed to play a global protagonist role.

Although planned long ahead of the Zionist aggression on Gaza, the entire event was marked by the deep support to the Palestinian resistance struggle in Gaza. Nobody, also the forces from non-Islamic countries, took the leadership by Hamas as a pretext to reject the support to the resistance as it had been common in the past. On the contrary, also in Europe massive solidarity demonstration with Gaza with hundreds of thousand participants took place indicating a clear shift in important sections of the antagonist forces. (Which should not deceive us from the fact of a powerful and growing anti-Islamic campaign and sentiment in the West.)

An indicator for the changed climate in favour of anti-imperialism was the participation of what could be called the left wing of the Social Forum. One should recall the times when the vicious formula “no war, no terror” was predominant equating imperialism with the resistances and taking “politically correct” equidistance. Those forces which still hold such a position have decisively lost their influence and do no more lead mass movements.

Careful participants of the Beirut Forum could, however, notice a certain wariness of some participants to lend the same support to the Iraqi and Afghan resistance as they do for Palestine. This might be due to the interests of Iran as a regional power which do conflict with these resistances. In this sense the message by the Iranian president to the forum rightly denouncing the Arab regimes which follow Israeli and US interest as traitors appears somewhat vapid given Iran’s record of support to the Iraqi regime installed by the US occupiers.

Next steps

The signal sent by this conference to form an international anti-imperialist front was already very bold given the fact that it was the first such event of that scale. Nevertheless the organisers were keen to develop some concrete agreements for the next steps. It is clear that new activities and meetings will be needed to go ahead on that track. As Anti-imperialist Camp we draw following conclusions and put forward following proposals in the spirit of the forum:

1) Insist on the campaign to boycott Israel on all levels.

2) Send brigades and delegations to Gaza and other places of resistance to build solidarity from below and allow a direct touch to the reality on the ground in order to counter the distortions of the Western corporate media.

3) Hold an anti-imperialist conference in support of the resistances in Europe as a continuation of Beirut forum. The main axis could be:

a) give voice to the resistances

b) rebuff raging Islamophobia which provides the ideological backing to the ongoing imperialist war

c) propose as the only solution to the Palestinian problem on single democratic state.

4) Build a permanent but open body of global co-ordination of anti-imperialist forces.

Anti-imperialist Camp
January 24, 2009

in contradistinction i received another email from several friends this week about a new campaign in jordan called “voices for palestine.” here is the text of their website:

Dear Friends,

Welcome to our group ‘Voices for Palestine’. We are Arab women from Jordan who have come together in response to the appalling attacks of Israel on Gaza and its people. We are women who come from different backgrounds and affiliations, to speak against the violations that are taking place against the Palestinians and give voice to the victims of these atrocious and disproportional attacks.

Through both our website and our youtube channel, we plan on reporting the realities on the ground in Gaza and share with you our thoughts on how you can make a difference.

We, like many of you, have been glued to our television screens, trying to grasp what in the world is happening over there and why the whole world is silently watching as Palestinian children, mothers, and male civilians have been killed in the hundreds over the past three weeks.

As believers in human rights and dignity, Voices for Palestine, seeks to present what is really happening in Gaza. To speak about this issue with no reservations is our goal, hoping that after you hear what we have to say, you will feel compelled to stand up and speak against what is happening, and act in whatever capacity you can to end the destruction of a nation and its people. We cannot idly watch and allow this genocide to take place.

In solidarity,

Voices for Palestine

they are asking people to go to their youtube site and watch their videos. i’ll post one of them here:

i’m not going to comment on the difference in tone and strategy between this lebanese and jordanian initiative. those who know me know what i think.

oh, did i mention that jordan sent back its ambassador to the terrorist state of israel?

contrast this with the principled position of mohamed el baradei in response to canceling his interviews on bbc:

The head of the UN”s nuclear watchdog has cancelled planned interviews with the BBC in protest at the corporation’s decision not to air an emergency appeal for Gaza on behalf of the Disasters Emergency Committee.

In a statement to the Guardian, Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel peace prize winner, unleashed a stinging denunciation of the BBC, deepening the damage already caused by the controversy.

meanwhile in qatar of all places a boycott campaign is underway:

Students of Qatar University will participate in an international campaign to mobilise the public for a boycott of goods produced by American and other Western firms that support Israel, a local Arabic daily reports.

Eleven countries are participating in the campaign.

The student co-ordinator of the campaign at Qatar University, Ibrahim Saad of the faculty of engineering, said there were six firms known to be outright supporters of Israel. “We will mobilise public support and see to it that these firms close down their business operations in Qatar.”

He said he had received overwhelming support from the university students. Starbucks and Coffee Shop are among the immediate targets, says the report. “How could these outlets exist in Qatar and do business with our money while it has been confirmed that they are funding Israel to build Jewish settlements? How could this happen when children are brutally killed in Palestine,” he said.

Starbucks has two outlets in the Qatar University campus, one each in the girls’ and boys’ wings.

However, a memorandum submitted by the students to the university administration seeking the closure of these outlets has received a response that the university is bound by official decisions taken by the government.

and there is yet another petition from the united states calling for a boycott. this one is from academics and cultural workers:

International Writers and Scholars Endorse Academic Boycott of Israel

by Steven Salaita / January 27th, 2009

We stand in support of the indigenous Palestinian people in Gaza, who are fighting for their survival against one of the most brutal uses of state power in both this century and the last.

We condemn Israel’s recent (December 2008/ January 2009) breaches of international law in the Gaza Strip, which include the bombing of densely-populated neighborhoods, illegal deployment of the chemical white phosphorous, and attacks on schools, ambulances, relief agencies, hospitals, universities, and places of worship. We condemn Israel’s restriction of access to media and aid workers.

We reject as false Israel’s characterization of its military attacks on Gaza as retaliation. Israel’s latest assault on Gaza is part of its longtime racist jurisprudence against its indigenous Palestinian population, during which the Israeli state has systematically dispossessed, starved, tortured, and economically exploited the Palestinian people.

We reject as untrue the Israeli government’s claims that the Palestinians use civilians as human shields, and that Hamas is an irredeemable terrorist organization. Without endorsing its platforms or philosophy, we recognize Hamas as a democratically elected ruling party. We do not endorse the regime of any existing Arab state, and call for the upholding of internationally mandated human rights and democratic elections in all Arab states.

We call upon our fellow writers and academics in the United States to question discourses that justify and rationalize injustice, and to address Israeli assaults on civilians in Gaza as one of the most important moral issues of our time.

We call upon institutions of higher education in the U.S. to cut ties with Israeli academic institutions, dissolve study abroad programs in Israel, and divest institutional funds from Israeli companies, using the 1980s boycott against apartheid South Africa as a model.

We call on all people of conscience to join us in boycotting Israeli products and institutions until a just, democratic state for all residents of Palestine/Israel comes into existence.

Mohammed Abed
Elmaz Abinader
Diana Abu-Jaber
Ali Abunimah
Opal Palmer Adisa
Deborah Al-Najjar
Evelyn Azeeza Alsultany
Amina Baraka
Amiri Baraka
George Bisharat
Sherwin Bitsui
Breyten Breytenbach
Van Brock
Hayan Charara
Allison Hedge Coke
Lara Deeb
Vicente Diaz
Marilyn Hacker
Mechthild Hart
Sam Hamill
Randa Jarrar
Fady Joudah
Mohja Kahf
Rima Najjar Kapitan
Persis Karim
J. Kehaulani Kauanui
Haunani Kay-Trask
David Lloyd
Sunaina Maira
Nur Masalha
Khaled Mattawa
Daniel AbdalHayy Moore
Aileen Moreton-Robinson
Nadine Naber
Marcy Newman
Viet Nguyen
Simon J. Ortiz
Vijay Prashad
Steven Salaita
Therese Saliba
Sarita See
Deema Shehabi
Matthew Shenoda
Naomi Shihab Nye
Magid Shihade
Vandana Shiva
Noenoe Silva
Andrea Smith
Ahdaf Soueif
Ghada Talhami
Frank X. Walker
Robert Warrior

on racism and prisons

i just finished composing a letter for a friend in gaza who is applying for a visa to speak in the united kingdom about besieged gaza. he had been invited last month, too, but the british consulate in al quds denied him a visa because they didn’t believe he’d return home after his lecture tour. it struck me as i was writing the letter that i felt like i was writing on behalf of a friend who was in prison. (okay, yes, gaza is a prison and that is the point.) as i wrote words and phrases kept popping into my mind like “flight risk,” phrases one uses to describe someone who is undeserving of bail. someone who deserves to be locked up. and as i wrote the other night about his online visa application, the questions about one’s criminality on the british visa application are certainly geared more towards excluding israeli terrorist war criminals who fall into the categories of having committed “war crimes” or who practice state terrorism. but the racism of the british system makes it such that it is palestinians whose travel gets excluded, who remain in the gaza jail.

nathalie abou shakra posted videos today of the damage done by israeli terrorists to palestinian fishermen in gaza waters. this is another element of the prison: fisherman can’t fish. or if they do they risk their lives or their boats which are necessary for their livelihood:

These are some footage comrades George from Greece, Andrew from Scotland and I took of the shootings yesterday and today of the fishermen’s boats. One of the fishermen, Alaa el Habil, from the Shati’ camp, was wounded in the leg before yesterday, and a boat arrived to the port of Gaza yesterday as we were there, of which was targeted by the Israelis…

The fishermen were given a limit of 20miles before the Oslo accords, then it diminished to 12, then 6 miles during the siege, then 3 miles now… it is impossible to catch good fish, a variety, and a good quantity within such a limit.This is especially devastating for the fishermen whose lives depend on fishing… whose families cannot survive without an income from this.

unlike other prisons, the gaza prison keeps people out and locks people up inside. this is one of the many reasons why it is so difficult for aid to get inside gaza:

Israel says 453 trucks entered Gaza 18-23 January, but only about half of them carried humanitarian aid – not nearly enough for 1.5 million Gazans, say UN agencies and international aid groups.

“The donors and the general public have mobilised from all over the world but the aid is stuck outside Gaza,” said John Ging, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza.

Of the 100-120 trucks permitted to enter per day, some 37-40 are for UNRWA, about half are for commercial goods such as meat and nappies, and the remainder are for other aid agencies, said Ging, who pointed out that before June 2007 Israel permitted 500-600 trucks to enter daily.

and this is why aid workers are even protesting because they are kept from getting inside gaza:

Aid agencies have been protesting about their restricted access to Gaza since the 18 January ceasefire, stressing that the full opening of crossing points is crucial for the delivery of humanitarian aid.

“It is unacceptable that staff of international aid agencies with expertise in emergency response are still not given full access into Gaza, and that the crossings are not fully operational for humanitarian and commercial goods,” said Charles Clayton, chair of the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA), which includes 75 agencies.

here is an al jazeera report on the aid situation and the challenges posed to those sending it to gaza:

and this is why the tunnels are so vital for palestinians in gaza, why they must remain open and why it is so devastating when israeli terrorists bomb them as they did last night (see fayyad’s post on kabobfest for the racist response among israeli terrorists egging on renewed bombing in ha’aretz):

Israel says the attacks on the Rafah tunnels are aimed at stopping alleged weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip by Hamas fighters.

The tunnels are also used to smuggle food, fuel and consumer goods from Egypt and are considered a life-line for thousands of ordinary Gazans.

there are other ways this gaza prison functions to keep people locked up, including those needing life-saving medical treatment outside gaza as jonathan cook reports:

For four days running, an ambulance has driven 15-year-old Amira Ghirim from Shifa Hospital in Gaza to the Rafah border in the hope that she will be allowed to cross into Egypt and then on to France, where she has been promised emergency surgery.

Amira’s left arm and thigh were crushed and her internal organs damaged by falling rubble when a shell hit her home in the Tel al Hawa neighbourhood of Gaza City in the final days of Israel’s offensive. The attack killed her father, brother and sister, leaving her an orphan.

But, despite her urgent need for surgery, Amira has been turned away at the border each time, said her aunt, Mona Ghirim. “Each morning we arrived at the crossing and the Egyptian soldiers cursed us and told us to go away.”

Ms Ghirim said Amira’s condition has been deteriorating because of the long periods out of hospital. Yesterday, after hearing news that the border would remain shut, they decided to abandon the journey. “She is very ill and these futile trips are not helping.”

Amira is one of four children who have been offered potentially life-saving surgery by a team of doctors in France. But she and the other children appear to be victims of a bureaucratic wrangle involving the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Egypt.

but of course the biggest culprit, at the root of this conflict, is always the israeli terrorists. to be sure, they have far too many partners in their war crimes, but their crimes are at the center, which are fueled by their racism. just check out this graffiti from the inside of palestinian homes in zeitoun, gaza:

israeli terrorist graffiti
israeli terrorist graffiti
israeli terrorist graffiti
israeli terrorist graffiti

this is not isolated racism (also see eva bartlett’s newest post for more photographs, films, and descriptions of racist graffiti and destruction in gaza). anyone who saw inside lebanese homes in south lebanon after the israeli terrorist invasion in 2006 saw the same kind of graffiti (though we also found many homes where they also shat on the living room floor, on beds, in pots and pans). rampant, just look at how yigal bronner and neve gordon describe what israeli terrorists chant at futball games:

Israeli soccer matches were suspended during the assault on Gaza. When the games resumed last week, the fans had come up with a new chant: “Why have the schools in Gaza been shut down?” sang the crowd. “Because all the children were gunned down!” came the answer.

Aside from its sheer barbarism, this chant reflects the widespread belief among Israeli Jews that Israel scored an impressive victory in Gaza – a victory measured, not least, by the death toll.

for the record, i’m told that the old chant is “death to arabs.”

likewise the racism of the israeli terrorist army’s chief rabbi, avichay rontzki, has magnified this racism by producing a booklet from the army’s “jewish awareness department” as jacky rowland reports on al jazeera:

supposedly rontzki was “severely reprimanded” today (in israeli terrorist terms, this means he was treated to a bottle of champagne).

but there are other ways racism works internally here in palestine and in the region. sometimes it is also militarized as when the lebanese army besieged the palestinian nahr el bared refugee camp in the summer of 2007. until now only a small fraction of the palestinians from this camp have been allowed to return to it. those who live there now and who are working to rebuild their lives with little help from the outside world, including the lebanese government, live in a prison, too. one cannot get inside without permission from the army–this applies to those who live there and those who wish to visit their friends and loved ones who live there. now the rumors of a lebanese naval base which have circulated for over a year now appear to be valid and in response the people of the camp wrote an open letter to prime minister fouad siniora, which reads in part:

Mr. Prime Minister and Ministers,

You, who are opposed to the siege of Gaza and the crazy war launched on it, why don’t you support this same people [the Palestinian] in Lebanon by granting it a dignified existence without military constraints and laws prohibiting the right to work or own or even bequeath property to one’s descendants.

We thought we were partners and refused to believe in a conspiracy theory that claimed the destruction of the camp was intended to allow for the building of naval and land military bases. However, we have no choice but offer a negative reading of the situation of inhumanity and humiliation we live in.

Having expressed our opinion and spoken of our reality and the unbearable conditions being forced upon us, we shall assume that you are now aware of it. And so we kindly urge you to review the condition of this camp and to remove all military manifestations on its ground. We also urge you to remove the barbed wire and barriers and to facilitate the movement of people and the return of normal civilian life to its former state.

We also hope that you revisit the decisions issued in relation to Nahr al-Bared camp after its destruction in light of the difficult times that all Palestinians are going through, and we beseech you to place military and naval bases far from Palestinian and Lebanese schools and neighborhoods.

there is also the kind of racism here in palestine of a more personal level. i ate lunch yesterday with an african palestinian colleague who is originally from yaffa. he lived in the u.s. for a while and was comparing the racism there to the racism here. he was telling me that here he has been unable to find a wife because he is darker in complexion than other palestinians and as a result no family, as of yet, has allowed him to marry their daughter. racism, unfortunately, is universal. for those who are unaware, there is a community of african palestinians who live all over palestine, including al quds:

Currently some forty African Palestinian families live inside the old city, many of whom reside within 50 feet of the center. Upon talking with Adam, the center’s young director, one gets a sense of how proud the community is of its identity. “Many of our ancestors were pious Muslims who came from across Africa to defend Al-Aqsa from military conquest,” I was told by Adam and others in the center. “They stayed and married and their children grew up here. “We are as Palestinian as anyone else but we also remember and our proud of where are great grandfathers came from and sometimes visit or stay in touch with our other family members in Africa.” Aside from the various wars which brought Muslims from Africa to safeguard the sanctity of its Muslim Holy Sites, other Africans settled in Palestine after spiritual pilgrimages to the land’s various holy sites, including of course the Al Aqsa Mosque.

Many Palestinian Africans have heroically managed to retain their presence in this incredibly important and highly symbolic space even while the oppressive closure policies of the Israelis makes life increasingly difficult in all kinds of ways. “They don’t want us to live,” said one of the community leaders. “They go around telling the world that we are savages and want to kill them all. This is ridiculous. Here I am telling you that I am Muslim, Palestinian and African and I have no problem living peacefully with the Jewish community and I condemn suicide bombings. But these people don’t even give us a chance. They make life impossible because they want us to leave Jerusalem but we will never leave. We will die here before we leave.” The sprawling growth of Israeli settler housing outside and within Jerusalem’s Old City seems to be in line with a policy that the city’s old Israeli mayor ten years ago dubbed as the “Judaization of Jerusalem.” The harsh realities of a population under military occupation punctuate the daily lives of these Palestinians who are often cut off from being visited or supported by Palestinians elsewhere in the West Bank or Gaza. Many of the first and second generation leaders of this community like most Palestinians have spent considerable time languishing in Israeli jails for offenses as minor as being rumored to have been at a protest.

my colleague and i continued our discussion about racism in the united states and the way it works on the state level, too. this is seen most clearly in the discourse about the closure of guantánamo as mickey z reports on dissident voice:

Waiting a year to close a single prison is nothing to celebrate. Transferring those illegally detained humans is not change anyone can believe in. Public promises about not torturing have been heard before and even if we could trust such dubious assurances, why are we so goddamned appreciative when a US president merely declares his theoretical intention to think about adhering to fundamental international law?

The Chairman of Change has made no secret of how he wholeheartedly adores the bogus war on terror. Closing Gitmo (an act which still falls squarely into the believe-it-when-you-see-it category) is at best a strategic sidestep by a cautious and calculating new president.

A related New York Times piece began oh-so-cleverly: “Is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed coming to a prison near you?” In the Jan. 24, 2009 article—“Guantánamo Detainees? Not in My State,”—journalists (sic) Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane wrung their hands over the 245 remaining inmates being “released into quiet neighborhoods across the United States.” It’s illustrative of the utter depravity we tolerate as normal in the home of the brave that war criminals like Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright, Dick Cheney, Wesley Clark, Colin Powell, Bill Clinton, etc. etc. walk freely among us while the newspaper of record preys on gullible readers with sensationalism and xenophobic fear mongering.

In that same Times article, Mazzetti and Shane inadvertently offered another manifestation of America’s cultural rot when they mentioned a discussion of reopening San Francisco’s Alcatraz Prison specifically for the assumed terrorists detained (illegally) at Gitmo. But a spokesman for California Senator Diane Feinstein was quick to clarify that Alcatraz was a “national park and tourist attraction, not a functioning prison,” and that the senator “does not consider it a suitable place to house detainees.”

americans seem to be oblivious to the racist/xenophobic discourse surrounding the closure of guantánamo: where are the reparations? why is it that these men who have been illegally detained for years now are not being offered u.s. citizenship? why are they being forced to seek refuge elsewhere when the united states is responsible for their detention and torture over the last several years?

but this is how the u.s. treats its own prisoners, too. american indian movement leader and political prisoner leonard peltier, who should have been pardoned decades ago was recently beaten up in canaan federal penitentiary:

I am so OUTRAGED! My brother Leonard was severely beaten upon his arrival at the Canaan Federal Penitentiary. When he went into population after his transfer, some inmates assaulted him. The severity of his injuries is that he suffered numerous blows to his head and body, receiving a large bump on his head, possibly a concussion, and numerous bruises. Also, one of his fingers is swollen and discolored, and he has pain in his chest and ribcage. There was blood everywhere from his injuries.

Write to your congressional representatives, and write or e-mail President Obama to call on them to insure that Leonard is receiving medical attention for his injuries.

We feel that prison authorities at the prompting of the FBI orchestrated this attack and thus, we are greatly concerned about his safety. It may be that the attackers, whom Leonard did not even know, were offered reduced sentences for carrying out this heinous assault. Since Leonard is up for parole soon, this could be a conspiracy to discredit a model prisoner.

He was placed in solitary confinement and only given one meal. This is generally done when you won’t name your attackers; incidentally, being only given one meal seriously jeopardizes his health because of his diabetes. Prison officials refuse to release any info to the family, but they need to hear from his supporters to protect his safety, as does President Obama. His attorneys are trying to get calls into him now.

if you want to help peltier here is what you can do:

Call Canaan Federal Prison at 570-488-8000 to register your concern that Leonard was severely beaten and to ask what steps are being taken to insure his safety and take care of his medical needs. You must give Leonard’s prison identification number–89637-132–to have your call recorded.

and this is not an isolated case either. racism and the prison industrial complex go hand in hand in the u.s. jordan flaherty recently reported on torture used in angola prison in louisiana:

The torture of prisoners in U.S. custody is not only found in military prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo. If President Obama is serious about ending U.S. support for torture, he can start here in Louisiana.

The Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola is already notorious for a range of offenses, including keeping former Black Panthers Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox in solitary for over 36 years. Now a death penalty trial in St. Francisville, Louisiana, has exposed widespread and systemic abuse at the prison. Even in the context of eight years of the Bush administration, the behavior documented at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola stands out both for its brutality and for the significant evidence that it was condoned and encouraged from the very top of the chain of command.

In a remarkable hearing that explored torture practices at Angola, 25 inmates testified last summer to facing overwhelming violence in the aftermath of an escape attempt at the prison nearly a decade ago. These 25 inmates – who were not involved in the escape attempt – testified to being kicked, punched, beaten with batons and with fists, stepped on, left naked in a freezing cell and threatened that they would be killed. They were threatened by guards that they would be sexually assaulted with batons. They were forced to urinate and defecate on themselves. They were bloodied, had teeth knocked out, were beaten until they lost control of bodily functions and beaten until they signed statements or confessions presented to them by prison officials. One inmate had a broken jaw, and another was placed in solitary confinement for eight years.

all of this racism of the u.s. mixed with israeli terrorism and their war crimes, prison and torture systems make for great partners in crime it would seem. michael hureaux perez draws out some of these connections in the black agenda report:

There is the reality of the working class world, which is the reality of the Gaza Strip, and the urban black working class reality of Sean Bell, murdered on his wedding day by New York City cops, and Oscar Grant, who was murdered by the Oakland Transit cops on New Year’s Day. The Gaza Strip is the reality of the inner city in the United States, writ large.

Then there is the pseudo-reality of race and class justice that the corporate sponsors of Barack Obama – and his programmatic petty boojwah supporters of whatever racial and class background – want us all to absorb. Well, I been there, and I done that. Only back in my starry-eyed youth, Barack Obama was named David Dinkins, or Norm Rice, or Coleman Young (reservation cops all), or some other sad clown who was arrogant enough to run interference for a ruling class so venal and crazy it doesn’t even care that its ass is on fire. And it doesn’t take a stellar political economist to realize that if the problems of race and class or workplace and cultural empowerment can’t get solved at the regional level using the political schematics of the capitalist system, those problems sure as hell aren’t going to get solved at the national level by a charming rogue who uses the same schematic. Trust me on this, even as the trumpet and rose petal spectacle of the inaugural continues to ring in our ears: Obama’s United States is still the Western Imperium, which means it’s the tyranny of race, class and commodity, but now it’s parading at the national level in blackface. (Talk about stale ideas!)

gazing gaza

bloody-orange-war-crime

i’m taking a break from finishing up my review of suheir hammad’s breaking poems, a book that i feel is more important to carry in my purse than my wallet and my passport. i feel like i cannot breathe without her words. when i feel like i am suffocating from the barbarity that is israeli terrorism in gaza her words give me oxygen. i read these poems every day, multiple times per day. as i was writing about a poem towards the end of her book, a poem called “break (construction) paper,” i was struck yet again by how much her words–written a couple of years ago–speak this this present moment. because she is prescient. because israeli terrorism is a cycle that never ends for sixty one years. here is the opening stanza of that poem:

why gaza can die so easy in front of every one and no one say no gaza
as maze gaza as haze of nonhumans wa generalized attacks militant
population no such thing as civilian

once again we all watch on television the massacre that increases and no one says, no one does anything. nineteen days. 997 martyrs, 4,525 wounded.

suheir sent me a poem the other day and in the subject line for the email was “light marcy.” while the poem is not written for me or about me the idea that she thought of me and to say that to me is just the sort of reinforcement, support i need to keep working. i need it more than food and sleep. here is the poem she sent:

jababliya

a woman wears a bell carries a light calls searches
through madness of deir yessin calls for rafah for bread
orange peel under nails blue glass under feet gathers
children in zeitoun sitting with dead mothers she unearths
tunnels and buries sun onto trauma a score and a day rings
a bell she is dizzy more than yesterday less than
tomorrow a zig zag back dawaiyma back humming suba

back shatilla back ramleh back jenin back il khalil back il quds
all of it all underground in ancestral chests she rings
a bell promising something she can’t see faith is that
faith is this all over the land under the belly
of wind she perfumed the love of a burning sea

concentrating refugee camp
crescent targeted red

a girl’s charred cold face dog eaten body
angels rounded into lock down shelled injured shock

weapons for advancing armies clearing forests sprayed onto a city
o sage tree human skin contact explosion these are our children

she chimes through nablus back yaffa backs shot under
spotlight phosphorous murdered libeled public relations

public

relation

a bell fired in jericho rings through blasted windows a woman
carries bones in bags under eyes disbelieving becoming
numb dumbed by numbers front and back gaza onto gaza
for gaza am sorry gaza am sorry she sings for the whole
powerless world her notes pitch perfect the bell a death toll

more words for gaza–we are chiming bells, we are trying to speak out and yet our bells fall on deaf ears. still no changes. still more deafness from the world. deaf, blind, and dumb. here are some visual images to go with hammad’s poetic images, images that raise similar questions about why the world (of course when i say this i do not mean the people in the streets, but rather the world leaders whose silence shows so clearly their complicity in this massacre, this genocide) is silent about gaza, about palestine:

but i am feeling inspired by suheir hammad (and of course rania as always…) this morning so i want to focus on the positive. so waking up this morning to the news of more rockets fired into 1948 palestine was very welcome news–that someone else is resisting israeli terrorism and colonialism:

At least three rockets fired from southern Lebanon have hit a northern Israeli city.

Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, said on Wednesday that “three rockets fired into Israel landed outside the city of Kiryat Shmona”.

They were reportedly fired from the area of Habaniyeh in southern Lebanon.

The rockets landed in empty fields and no one was hurt, an Israeli emergency official said.

Within minutes of the attack, Israel responded by firing eight rockets into the south of Lebanon, a Lebanese official said.

meanwhile israeli terrorist mark regev is finally getting caught in his web of lies–live on television:

and from iran today–while their boat was stopped by israeli terrorists from reaching gaza–the issuing of decrees supporting boycott in the strongest possible terms is something we need to see around the world:

Iranian authorities issued an order last week banning international companies from working in Iran if they are found to have any shares owned by Israelis. And on Sunday, the Iranian government said it plans to impose sanctions on foreign companies dealing with Israel but it is not clear how or when will it be carried out.

In another gesture of support for Palestinians, Iran’s top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a religious opinion, or fatwa, declaring the purchase of any Israeli goods or trade with Israeli companies to be forbidden.

greece is also rising up to protest the use of their country for american support of israeli terrorism with its materiel:

Left-wing opposition parties said Tuesday they will go ahead with a protest at a Greek port despite the U.S. decision not to use the facility for an arms shipment to Israel.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said plans for shipping U.S. arms to Israel had been changed to avoid Greece.

a hotel in paris canceled an israeli tourism fair:

Confronted with the indignation expressed by so many people in France and abroad who had heard about the scheduled Israeli Tourism Fair in this great Parisian hotel, the management of this establishment has made the decision to cancel this event, which was supposed to open on January 15.

The hotel’s management, as the Paris police prefecture has confirmed to us, has indicated that it has disinvited the 50 Israeli exhibitors who had planned to present their tourism products.

there is a great new effort here in beirut working to track those around the world who collaborate with israeli terrorism by arming the zionist entity.

labor organizers in the united states are following canada’s lead and organizing for boycott:

Yes, the Israel lobby seeks to silence opponents of Israeli apartheid. All the more need for trade unionists to break that silence by speaking out against Israeli military occupation, for the right of Palestinian refugees to return, and for the elimination of apartheid throughout historic Palestine.

Therefore, we reaffirm our support for the international boycotts, sanctions and divestment campaign, including an immediate end to all support for Israel–including that provided by U.S. labor leaders.

Issued by NYCLAW co-conveners (other affiliations listed for identification only):
Larry Adams, former president, NPMHU Local 300;
Michael Letwin, former president, UAW Local 2325/Association of Legal Aid Attorneys;
Brenda Stokely, former president, AFSCME DC 1707, and co-chair, Million Worker March

and we have american indian activist russell means speaking out in solidarity with palestinians in gaza and more generally:

The US was created to break international laws,” Means said, adding that it is obvious today that this is the pattern of the U.S. Means said the United States was initiated as an outlaw and renegade nation and that “today, its imperial policies mean that Israel is a surrogate of the US, receiving aid from the U.S. With the combined US and international aid, Israeli receives $12 billion a year for its “military and the settlers in the West Bank.”

Means said 80 percent of the people in the West Bank are paid to stay there. “It is America who pays them to stay there. But even in Israel, where there is a free press and not everyone agrees with Israel waging war on Palestine. He said 20 to 30 percent of the people in Israel are against the war on Palestine. Like the United States, Israel has been at war every year of its existence.”

Means often refers to Israel as the 51st state, of warmongers and imperialists. “America and Israel are based on lies, resulting in the massive deaths in Iraq. Now, the US and Israel are focused on Iran because its oil reserves.” Means said Indian lands have become “open air concentration camps.” “If you chose to stay on the reservation, you are guaranteed to be poor, unless you are part of the colonial apparatus set up by the Bureau of Indian Affairs,” he said.

“On Indian lands, everyone fights to be part of the tribal governments because that is where the money is. Everyone fights to be part of the colonial system. The only way you can be part of the colonial system is to obey. Those returning home to Indian lands cannot ‘rock the boat,’ demand their treaty rights or their rights guaranteed by the US Constitution.”

Means said the American Indian Movement made people aware that the US Constitution was based upon that of the Iroquois Six Nations. “However, the US Constitution only includes one-third of the Great Law of Peace. If all of the Great Law of Peace had been adopted, this country would be much different and much wealthier.” However, it was turned into a country of consumers. He said what you get with a country of consumers is greed. “What is going on in Palestine is going on in America. The United States is taking away the homes of the people.” Now in the United States, there is “communism from the left” and “right-wing socialism.” He said the problem with socialism is that it is bereft of consensus and spirituality.

the guardian newspaper came up with a terrific interactive map that you can study in order to see the timeline of israeli terrorism over the last 19 days. here is a screen shot of what it looks like:

picture-1

you cannot say you do not know. you can say you don’t want to know. you are indifferent. you don’t care. but we have live images, live words, live actions all around us. so do something about it now.

note: the youtube video above may be taken down shortly as a part of israel’s terrorism of the media. so watch it quickly!