against anniversaries

mother-palestine-ror

i’ve been reading various articles and blog posts about the anniversary of the massacre of the palestinian refugee camp shatila and the surrounding neighborhood of sabra (no, sabra is not a refugee camp, but many palestinians live there). pulse media and falasteenyia both had nice posts on the subject. ma’an news posted a reflective piece on the zionist-kata’eb massacre of palestinians in 1982:

“That is the old Israeli watchtower and entrance to Sabra,” a man on the street pointed, standing in front of the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camps. Below the tower, quarantined like a civil war time capsule, were the camps left to fend for themselves on the outskirts of Beirut.

No more than 20 meters past the former Israeli watchtower, in an empty lot, is the memorial for the victims of the 1982 Lebanon Civil War massacre. Camp residents say the site was once a mass grave for the slain. The memorial was a single-track dirt path linking a series of billboards with images of the dead.

The massacre’s perpetrators were of the predominantly Christian Phalange party: supplied, supported and supervised by onlooking Israeli soldiers.

The Phalangist pogrom was clear. What was not, however, was the extent of the crime. At the time of the massacre, the Director of Israeli Military Intelligence said that between the days of September 16 and 18, 1982, a minimum of 700 “terrorists” had been killed. Yet, reporter for the Independent Robert Fisk wrote in his book, Pity the Nation, “Phalangist officers I knew in east Beirut told me that at least 2,000 ‘terrorists’ — women as well as men — had been killed in Chatila.” The real number, according to Fisk, is thought to be higher.

Leaving the mass grave memorial and moving into the open-air market of the Sabra camp, a bullet-ridden wall stands separating a camp dump from its market. In all likelihood the half-block dumping ground was once on the fringes of the camp, but not anymore. The camp had no urban planner, so it grew until the market fully encircled the awful collection of stench, sewage and a sore reminder that nobody really intended to be living in the Sabra camp some sixty years after the Nakba, the Palestinian exodus of 1948.

At the far end of the bullet-chafed wall stood a child of about ten years, a refugee. With little hesitation he immersed himself into the filthy heap, heaving his woven sack of valued rubbish over the rotting mounds. For all the archetypes of the poverty-ridden Palestinian refugee that exists in a foreigner’s consciousness, this is surely it. There was to be no school for this boy. No passport, no rights and no state.

Beyond the heap hung layers of political propaganda posters: A keffiyehed militant with the bold letters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine plastered next to a green-tinted portrait of Hamas’ founder Sheik Yassin with the party logo “Martyrs of Freedom & Victory;” a weathered PLO poster of Arafat; even one of a masked fighter on a tank, clutching a Kalashnikov with the brand of Islamic Jihad. And the posters were not just of Palestinian parties, but of the Lebanese Amal and Hezbollah as well. As a nearby shopkeeper who sold Hezbollah DVD’s put it, “The camp is mixed now… mixed with Palestinians and [Lebanese] Shias… United by resistance…”

Despite appearances, however, inside the Lebanese Army’s encirclement of the camp a surprisingly calm business-as-usual air prevailed. The streets weren’t crowded, but populated. The buyers, the sellers, and of course the children, were everywhere, looking to relieve the gnawing boredom of a lifetime’s confinement to the camp. “We are not allowed to leave [the camps],” one of the sellers said, “No papers.”

United resistance aside, the camp was in shambles. Everything the Lebanese government might do in Sabra and Shatila—urban planning, paving streets, coordinating an electrical grid, sewage—was left to the Palestinian residents. At the beginning, however, the camp played host to the bigwigs of the Palestinian leadership in the Palestine Liberation Organization, who organized camp life and connected the residents to the Palestinian struggle.

The powerful PLO, back in 1982, provided the motive of the massacre’s perpetrators, the Christian Phalange militia, who sought to take revenge against PLO leaders—which had in fact already fled Lebanon—for the alleged assassination of the Lebanese President-elect Bashir Gemayel. But the only people who remained in the camps that summer of 1982 were unarmed Palestinians.

What happened at Sabra and Shatila is still considered the bloodiest single event in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is also among the most egregious and underreported aspects of the Palestinian calamity to date.

On the anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacres, 16 September, the issue of the refugees and the right of return reaches again for the surface of Palestinian politics. With the newly-charged peace process being pushed by the United States, and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s recently released strategy to establish Palestinian state in two years, the issue of returnees has been subsumed by talk of settlements in the West Bank.

American efforts, and Fayyad’s plan focus more on securing infrastructure and borders than focusing on the estimated 500,000 refugees without rights in Lebanon, or the hundreds of thousands of others in Jordan, Syria, Iraq and in the Gulf.

Palestinians in the camps have a precarious relationship with the current peace initiatives, particularly the older generation who still recall the villages they fled in 1948 and 1967.

“Sure I would support Obama’s plan,” an old man reflects on the US President’s push for a two-state solution. “But what kind of solution is it? I have nothing in this West Bank… it would make me a foreigner in my own land… I would only go back to my village. And I don’t even know what is there now.”

He picks up an old hatchet from his coffee table and continues, “They [the Zionists] chased us and hit us on the head with these. I left my small village near Acre [Akko] because of it.”

ah yes the selling out of the palestinian refugees like those in shatila who everyone loves to remember on occasions such as this one, but who never fight for their rights (read: fayyed among others). but a different piece in ma’an news was a bit more interesting–about george mitchell’s visit to lebanon which coincided with the anniversary of the massacre:

Palestinian refugees were the top of US Special Envoy George Mitchell’s list during a 20 minute sit down with Lebanon’s President Michel Suliman Wednesday, the day marking the 27th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacres.

Michell told Suleiman that Lebanon, whose Phalangist faction 27-years earlier entered two Palestinian refugee camps and slaughtered thousands of civilians with Israeli support, would not bear the brunt of the refugee issue.

“US efforts toward peace would not come at the expense of Lebanon,” a statement from Suleiman’s office said following the meeting. Mitchell made no comment.

The two discussed the latest developments in Mitchell’s pursuit to halt Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and, according to the Lebanese press, stressed “continuous US support and aid to Lebanon on all levels and in all areas.”

Suleiman reportedly told Mitchell that all Lebanese factions refused the option of naturalizing Palestinian refugees “on the basis of the constitution.” He also stressed his desire that Israel retreat from its occupation of Lebanese lands.

what i find especially disturbing about all of this is how everyone remembers the anniversary of the sabra and shatila massacre but no one seems to remember the destruction of nahr el bared refugee camp. it is rather convenient that mitchell and his lebanese cohorts discussed palestinian refugees, but of course did not reveal any tangible information about their right of return. for palestinian from nahr el bared this right of return is now two-fold: first to their camp and then to palestine. if only that first step could be eliminated and they could return home immediately.

this is why i am feeling like i am against anniversaries. anniversaries, ideally, should be a time when you reflect upon the person/people/event. it should make you act in a way that honors that memory. the only real way to honor the memory of the massacre in 1982 or the destruction of nahr el bared in 2007 is to fight for the right of return for palestinian refugees. but no one is talking about that. nor are they talking about reconstructing narh el bared. except a few people. my friend matthew cassel attended the protest in trablus the other day and took this photography among others:

image by matthew cassel
image by matthew cassel

my dear friend rania never forgets and she linked to an article in al akhbar today on the subject:

بين الحفاظ على الآثار في الجزء القديم من مخيم نهر البارد وطمرها، تُعلّق حياة 35 ألف لاجئ فلسطيني كانوا يظنّون في فترة سابقة، قبل الحرب تحديداً، أنّها حياة مستمرّة.. على بؤسها. ربما، يجدر بهؤلاء المتروكين لحالهم الانتظار بعد، ريثما يتخذ مجلس شورى الدولة قراره النهائي المستند إلى مطالعات الدولة اللبنانية والتيار الوطني الحر ووزارة المال المكلفة بتمويل تكاليف طمر الآثار

راجانا حمية

كان من المفترض أن يُقفل مجلس شورى الدولة، اليوم، أبوابه أمام المطالعات القانونية المتعلقة بالطعن بقرار إيقاف طمر الآثار في البارد القديم. فقد أجّل محامي النائب ميشال عون، وليد داغر، تقديم مطالعة يحدد فيها صفة النائب عون كمستدعٍ إلى الاثنين المقبل. ويعود سبب التأجيل إلى رغبته في ضم رد التيار على مطالعتين تقدمت بهما وزارة المال في 18 آب الماضي والدولة اللبنانية في 21 منه، وتبلّغ بهما داغر في العاشر من الجاري.

وحسب المحامي داغر، تطالب هاتان المطالعتان مجلس شورى الدولة بالرجوع عن قرار إيقاف الطمر، استناداً إلى «المعطيات التي تفيد بأن طمر الآثار تم وفقاً للمعايير الدولية». وأكثر من ذلك، تستند الوزارتان في مطالعتيهما إلى «اعتبار صفة عون ومصلحته لا تتطابقان مع شروط المادة 77 من نظام مجلس الشورى». وهي المادة التي تنص على أنه «يفترض لوقف تنفيذ القرار المطعون فيه أن تكون المراجعة مرتكزة على أسباب جدية ومهمة وأن يكون الضرر المتذرَّع به ضرراً بليغاً».

طعن داغر بالمطالعتين، سلفاً، حتى قبل التقديم إلى مجلس الشورى، لأنه «لو لم يكن لعون صفة مباشرة لما كان مجلس شورى الدولة قد أوقف قرار الحكومة، كما إن الضرر لحق به كمواطن ذلك أن الآثار ليست ملكاً عاماً، بل هي ملك إنساني». لا يكتفي داغر بهذه الحجة، بل يستند إلى الاجتهاد القانوني الصادر عام 2000، والذي «لا يشترط لتوفر المصلحة أن يكون المدعي صاحب حق مباشر».

من تظاهرات طرابلس، الناس باتت لا تصدق موضوع الآثار (عبد الكافي الصمد)من تظاهرات طرابلس، الناس باتت لا تصدق موضوع الآثار (عبد الكافي الصمد)إذاً، من المفترض أن يتقدم داغر صباح الاثنين المقبل بمطالعتين: أولى تتعلق بتحديد صفة عون كمستدعٍ، والتي حددها داغر بصفة مواطن، وثانية يرد بها قانونياً على مطالعتي المال والدولة. بعد ذلك كله، يقوم مجلس الشورى بمطابقة الصفة والمصلحة قبل إصدار القرار المتوقع في 13 تشرين الأول المقبل.. و«ربما قبل هذا التاريخ، إذا لم تتطابق الصفة والمصلحة مع شروط المادة 77، بحيث يصار إلى إبطال القرار فوراً»، حسبما يرجّح رئيس مجلس الشورى القاضي شكري صادر.

لكن، إذا فاز عون بصفته والمصلحة، ينتقل أعضاء مجلس الشورى إلى «الأساس»، الذي يتعلق بدراسة مطالعتي عون المتضمنة مبررات الحفاظ على آثار البارد، والحكومة اللبنانية التي تشرح فيها موجبات الإعمار. ويحصر رئيس لجنة الحوار اللبناني الفلسطيني خليل مكاوي هذه الموجبات بثلاثة «تعهّد الدولة بإعادة المخيم كما كان والتزامات الحكومة تجاه المجتمع الدولي والدول المانحة، إضافة إلى الحفاظ على الأمن القومي».

إما استكمال طمر الآثار بحسب المعايير الدولية وإما إيقاف الإعمار «واستملاك الأراضي

إذاً، يتعلق مصير المخيم القديم بالمطالعتين المذكورتين، فإما استكمال طمر الآثار بحسب المعايير الدولية، كما يرجح مكاوي، وإما إيقاف الإعمار «واستملاك الأراضي القائم عليها المخيم الجديد وبعض ما حواليه»، كما جاء في بيان لجنة الدراسات في التيار الوطني الحر الأسبوع الماضي. غير أن ما تعوّل عليه لجنة الدراسات يواجه بعض الرفض من جهتين: الأولى فلسطينية، إذ يخاف هؤلاء من ضياع حقوقهم، وخصوصاً أن غالبية البيوت مسجّلة باسمهم، وأن ببعض تحايل (قبل صدور قانون التملك اللبناني عام 2001)، والثانية غالبية الأقطاب السياسية التي ترى في استملاك أراضٍ جديدة بداية مشروع التوطين.

ما بين المطالعتين، يضيع سكان المخيم القديم. يتساءل هؤلاء عن سبب إثارة هذه القضية الآن بالذات، تزامناً مع بدء إعادة الإعمار. يخاف الأهالي من أن تتكرر تجربة المخيمات المسحولة هنا في البارد. خوفهم هذا يدفعهم إلى «الهلوسة» في بعض الأحيان، إذ يذهب البعض إلى القول إنه «لا وجود للآثار بدليل أن الأعمدة هي قنوات صرف صحي مركبينا جدودنا اعتبروها رومانية، وبعض الفخارات من إيام أبوي». يستند الرجل في تكهناته إلى أن الحفر التي قام بها المهندسون من مديرية الآثار لم تتعدّ الثمانين سنتمتراً، «فكيف ستكون المدينة على هذا العمق؟».

يستغرب آخرون، ومنهم لطفي محمد الحاج، عضو الهيئة الأهلية لإعادة إعمار البارد، سبب التفات الدولة اللبنانية إلى هذه الآثارات رغم أنها هي التي أتت باللاجئين إلى تلة البارد رغم معرفتها بوجود الآثارات منذ العشرينيات من القرن الماضي. ويستغرب الحاج أيضاً سبب الاهتمام «الذي لا مثيل له»، على الرغم من «أن الآثار المحيطة بنا مهملة»، ويعطي مثالاً على قوله: «مثلاً، قلعة حكمون على جنب المخيم عاملينا مزرعة بقر وتلة عرقة وغيرها». لا يحتاج الرجل إلى أكثر من رؤية منزله مجدداً، ويطالب مجلس الشورى بالعودة عن قرار الإيقاف، مبرراً مطالبته بالقول: «احنا هون مش سوليدير، هون ناس ساكنة ما عادت تحمل تهجير». أكثر من ذلك، يضيف أبو خالد فريجي، أحد سكان القديم: «إحنا رمينا البارود لنساعد الجيش، اليوم ما عدنا قادرين ما نحمل البارودة».

مقابل هذه التعليقات للأهالي، يضع بعض الأطراف القضية في خانة التجاذبات السياسية. هذا ما يقوله المسؤول عن ملف إعادة إعمار البارد مروان عبد العال. ولئن كان لا حول ولا قوة من إدخال الفلسطيني بهذا التجاذب، يسأل عبد العال: «لماذا لم تُرسل فرق للتنقيب عن الآثار منذ تسعين عاماً؟ وليش الرسائل ما بتوصل إلا من صندوق بريدنا؟».

البراكسات التي يعيش فيها السكانالبراكسات التي يعيش فيها السكانيؤمن عبد العال بقداسة الآثار. وهي، من وجهة نظره تضاهي قداسة هوية الفلسطيني. لكن، السؤال الكبير الذي لا بد منه هنا هو «أنه إحنا مش آثار؟ ما بنمثل خصوصية؟ مش ولاد نكبة عمرها 61 عاماً وإلنا هويتنا كما الآثار؟ أكثر من ذلك، يسأل عضو الجبهة الشعبية في البارد سمير اللوباني: «ما هو الثمن السياسي الذي يجب أن يدفعه الفلسطيني من أجل إعادة البارد؟

لكن، كل هذا لن يأتي بنتيجة. فالنتيجة الوحيدة في مجلس شورى الدولة، وبانتظار صدور القرار، يعمل الفلسطينيون على رفع سقف الاحتجاجات الجماهيرية، وخصوصاً أنه لا يحق لهم مثل «أهل الفقيد» تقديم مطالعة قانونية، كونهم جهة غير معترف بها في القانون اللبناني. يضاف إلى ذلك أن الأونروا أيضاً لا تستطيع تقديم مطالعة قانونية لمجلس شورى الدولة، لذلك تعمل على إعداد مطالعة تشرح فيها موجبات الإعمار للحكومة اللبنانية فقط.

بالعودة إلى سير عملية الإعمار في البارد، كانت شركة «الجهاد» المتعهدة من قبل الأونروا قد طمرت في الرزمة الأولى حيث وجدت الآثار موقعين من أصل 5 مواقع قبل أن تثار القضية. وتلفت الناطقة الرسمية باسم الأونروا هدى الترك إلى «أننا انتهينا من تنظيف 95% من الركام، باستثناء جزء من الرزمة 2 وآخر من الرزمة 4». وأكدت أن الأونروا لا يمكنها الإعمار إلا بالتسلسل، أي من الرزمة 1، «والعملية متوقفة الآن بانتظار قرار مجلس شورى الدولة».

there is also a new article about the situation in nahr el bared in as-safir newspaper:

جهاد بزي
يستطيع المخيم أن يكون من شقين،
أو أن نبحث عن قطعة أرض بديلة للمخيم..
لكن لا نستطيع أن نجد ارتوزيا في مكان آخر.
الجنرال ميشال عون
(17 حزيران 2009)

في مخيم نهر البارد مدينتان.

المدينة الأولى بقايا أثرية اكتشفت تحت أنقاض المخيم القديم الذي سُحق بالكامل. هذه البقايا اسمها أرتوزيا. يستميت العونيون في الدفاع عنها، وقد رفعوا طعناً إلى مجلس الشورى جمّد إثره طمر آثار المدينة المكتشفة، ريثما يتخذ قراره. ولجنة الدراسات العونية لا تنفك تصدر بيانات بلغة أكاديمية رصينة تعلّل فيها أسباب دفاعها عن المدينة وتدفع عن نفسها تهمة العنصرية وتشدد على أنها ضد التوطين.

المدينة الثانية هي مدينة «البركسات». هي النقيض التام لكل الآثارات على وجه الأرض. هي صناديق «عصرية» من حديد وبلاستيك وإسفنج، وغيرها من المواد المثيرة لغثيان عالم الآثار إذا سقط مكبره عليها. وعلى العكس من القلاع والاعمدة والمدرجات الخالدة خلود الآلهة، فإن مدينة البركسات بلا أعمدة ولا فخامة ولا تاريخ، وهندستها رتيبة ومقيتة.

وهي عرضة للتلف أسرع بمليون مرة من مدينة أرتوزيا. عناصر الطبيعة الجميلة، الشمس والمياه والهواء، هي أوبئة دائمة تفتك بالمدينة الهشة المقامة على عجل لإيواء النازحين في بلاد لجوئهم.

هناك فارق أساسي بين المدينتين: البركسات مأهولة. ارتوزيا غير مأهولة. وأن نقول إنها مأهولة، فلأننا قررنا، كلبنانيين، مواجهة الإرهاب بطريقة فريدة من نوعها، هللت لها قوى سياسية شرسة في «حبها» للفلسطينيين، وتغاضت عنها قوى أخرى كانت قد نادت يوماً بأن المخيم خط أحمر. تلك الحرب ستبقى، بأي حال، «إنجازاً ناصعاً» في تاريخنا اللبناني، وإن طُمرت خطاياها بكل ما فيها كرمى لعناوين كبيرة وفارغة.

وأن نقول إن البركسات مأهولة منذ نحو سنتين. أن يضطر لاجئون، قصمنا ظهورهم سياسياً واجتماعياً واقتصادياً، إلى حياة منسية كهذه التي يعيشونها في علب الصفيح المكتظة تتساقط الصراصير من أسقفها الاسفنج المبقورة بسبب الحرارة والمياه، أو تنبت الجرذان من أرضها، أو تصير مستنقعات وحول عند كل مطر. أن يضطر لاجئون سحقنا حيواتهم إلى يوميات طويلة في هذه المجمعات الحديدية الأقرب إلى مجمعات عزل المصابين بأمراض معدية قاتلة. أن تضطر عيون اطفالهم إلى العتمة ليل نهار وانفاسهم إلى الرطوبة وآفاقهم إلى ممرات ضــيقة خانقة. وأن يضطر الفلسطينــي إلى هــذه العقوبة المستمرة عليه لذنب ليس ذنبه، فإنه عــيب هائــل يتدلى من عنق لبنان جرســاً فاضحاً يرن كيفــما هزّ هذا البلد عنقه.

أما أن يقال للفلســطيني إن أرتــوزيا أهم من الأرض التي ولد عليها، وإن علــيه أن يبـحث عن مكان آخر يقيم عليه مخيمه، فهذا يفوق خيال الكوابيس التي يراها.

ثمة افتقاد تام لحس إنساني بسيط: المكان، مهما كان مؤقتاً، له قيمة رمزية ترتبط بقيمة المجتمع الذي يقيم فيه منذ ستين سنة. هم لاجئون لكنهم ليسوا بضاعة يمكن وضعها في أي مكان، بانتظار شحنها إلى فلسطين. المثل قاسٍ، لكنه الاقرب إلى المنطق الذي تتعاطى به الغالبية اللبنانية العظمى مع الشأن الفلسطيني. هناك سخرية مرّة في أن يضطر الواحد إلى الشرح بأن المخيم الفلسطيني ليس نزهة كشفية بين أحراج الصنوبر، تقام وتفك ثم تنتقل إلى مكان جديد. المخيمات الفلسطينية هي مثل مدننا وقرانا وأحيائنا. مثل حي السلم والحمرا والاشرفية والرابية. قد نكرهها وقد نحبها، لكن فيها شكّلنا ذكرياتنا وتفاصيلنا وأحزاننا وافراحنا. وإذا كان الفلسطيني يعيش في مؤقت مفتوح، فهذا لا يعني أن حقائبه موضبة طوال الوقت. هذا لا يعني أنه بلا ذاكرة. من السخرية المرّة تذكير لجنة الدراسات وغيرها، بأن الفلسطينيين مثلنا، نحن اللبنانيين أحفاد الأرتوزيين العظام.

وكما لا يحق لأحد أن ينقّلنا كيفما شاء، لا يحق لنا أن ننقلهم كيفما شئنا. معادلة بسيطة.

ثم..
إذا كانت إعادة الإعمار بهذا الحجم من التعقيد، وإذا كان هناك خلاف حتى على اسم المخيم الجديد من البارد حدا بالجيش اللبناني إلى أن «يأمل» من الإعلام تسميته بالبقعة المحيطة بالمخيم، فأين سيجد الفلسطينيون النازحون مخيماً آخر؟ فلتنكب لجنة الدراسات العونية على درس فكرة الجنرال وجعلها حجر أساس لدراسة متكاملة تلحظ موقع المخيم الجديد على أرض لبنان، ومساحته وكيفية استئجاره أو تملكه للبدء بإعادة الإعمار بسرعة كي ينتقل الفلسطينيون إليه. وربما على اللجنة زيارة البركسات والنزول في غرفها لأيام تستفتي خلالها رأي المنكوبين فرداً فرداً بموقع جديد للمخيم. كما ينبغي عليها لاحقاً أخذ موافقة جيرانهم الجدد من اللبنانيين. هذا جهد يمكن للجنة الدراسات أن تقوم به بالطبع، لما يعرف عنها من عمق وقدرة. غير أن الفلسطينيين ليسوا قضية اللجنة. قضيتها أرتوزيا.

المصائب تأتي دفعة واحدة. نزلت على المخيم فدمرته، ثم صعدت من أسفله، فزادت على معوقات إعماره معوّقاً جديداً. الأولوية الآن هي في طمر مدينة البركسات، وهذه لن تطمر إلا إذا طمرت آثار ارتوزيا، بغض النظر عن أي أهمية لها. من أقل حقوق فلسطينيي مخيم نهر البارد على هذا البلد هو ألا يجعلهم ينتظرون أكثر. بقاء الفلسطينيين على حالهم هناك جريمة بحق الانسانية واللبنانيين، وليس طمر ارتوزيا هو «الجريمة بحق الإنسانية والشعب اللبناني» كما قالت لجنة الدراسات.

أما أرتوزيا العونية فيمكن لها أن تنتظر. يكفيها فخراً أنها أثبتت عمق تجذرها في الأرض اللبنانية وعنادها وتحديها للزمن. هي خالدة وشامخة شموخ الجبال والأرز. ولا شك بأنها ستطلع من بين الركام ثانية، يوم يغادر الفلسطينيون هذه البلاد التي لا تفعل منذ عقود إلا معاقبتهم على وجودهم القسري فيها.

جهاد بزي

of course, it is not surprising that al akhbar and as safir would publish articles on nahr el bared. these are the only two newspapers who have consistently covered the story. that can be counted on. not just because it is an anniversary, but because it matters. but who else will cover the refugees from nahr e bared and their rights? their right of return. and i’m thinking not only of the people i care about from nahr el bared and other camps in lebanon who want to return to their original villages, but also dear friends in falasteen who want to return to their villages. this summer when we did the al awda camp with kids from deheishe refugee camp, two of the kids who i adore returned home and produced a new rap song (here is my post on taking them to beit ‘itab, which i did for a second time after the camp). the song includes hisham’s grandfather at the beginning, talking about their village of beit ‘itab. here is a description of their song and a link to the mp3 file you can listen to:

Badluck Rappers – اغنية جديدة بعنوان ” رحلة لبلادي ” تحكي قصة كل لاجئ فلسطيني

Badluck Rappers – اغنية جديدة بعنوان
تم نشر إغنية مؤخراً من فرقة الـ Badluck Rapperz من قلب مخيم دهيشه , بيت لحم
بعنوان رحلة لبلادي تحكي قصة كل لاجئ فلسطيني عايش داخل و خارج فلسطين ,
وتعودنا نسمع اغاني كثيرة عن اللاجئين من الفرقة لانها من قلب المخيمات , اكبر المخيمات
الفلسطينية للاجئين داخل فلسطين , واكتر اشي بميز الاغنية , بدايتها الجميلة المختارة
الي ببداها لاجئ فلسطيني بحكي قصة قريته الهاجر منها

الكل يسمع الاغنية , يقيمها , ويترك تعليق

Read more: http://www.palrap.net/PalRap/263/Badluck_Rappers_Witn_New_Track_Called_Re7la_La_Blady.html#ixzz0RWCnqv9L

i do not need an anniversary to make me think about the people i love in shatila, nahr el bared or deheishe refugee camps. i do not need an anniversary to make me remember their right of return. i think about it every day and hope that the work and writing i do, in some small way, advances that right. but i’m also thinking about the palestinian refugees who were in iraq and who i tried to help when they were displaced yet again in jordan in al ruweished refugee camp. they have all been resettled in third countries, a fact that does not negate their right of return to palestine. at the time friends i worked with tried to get the u.s. to take them in to no avail. now it seems my home state of california is granting refuge to some palestinians from iraq as patrik jonsson writes in the christian science monitor:

The State Department confirmed today that as many as 1,350 Iraqi Palestinians – once the well-treated guests of Saddam Hussein and now at outs with much of Iraqi society – will be resettled in the US, mostly in southern California, starting this fall.

It will be the largest-ever resettlement of Palestinian refugees into the US – and welcome news to the Palestinians who fled to Iraq after 1948 but who have had a tough time since Mr. Hussein was deposed in 2003. Targeted by Iraqi Shiites, the mostly-Sunni Palestinians have spent recent years in one of the region’s roughest refugee camps, Al Waleed, near Iraq’s border with Syria.

“Really for the first time, the United States is recognizing a Palestinian refugee population that could be admitted to the US as part of a resettlement program,” says Bill Frelick, refugee policy director at Human Rights Watch in Washington.

Given the US’s past reluctance to resettle Palestinians – it accepted just seven Palestinians in 2007 and nine in 2008 – the effort could ruffle some diplomatic feathers.

For many in the State Department and international community, the resettlement is part of a moral imperative the US has to clean up the refugee crisis created by invading Iraq. The US has already stepped up resettlement of Iraqis, some who have struggled to adjust to life in America.

al awda is asking for people to help with their resettlement:

The US government has approved most of the population of Al-Waleed Palestinian refugee camp for resettlement as refugees in the US in the coming year. For more information see http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0708/p02s04-usgn.html and http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/06/2009618161946158577.html

The first Palestinian family of the year from Al-Waleed will be arriving in San Diego on Wednesday September 16, 2009. This family, as with all the refugees who will be relocated to the US from Al-Waleed, will arrive with essentially nothing. Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, is therefore conducting an urgent fund raising campaign to help all the Palestinian refugees arriving in the US soon with their transition to a new life in this country.

BACKGROUND

An estimated 19,000 Palestinians, out of an initial population of 34,000, fled Iraq since the American invasion in 2003. Of these refugees, approximately 2500 have been stranded, under very harsh conditions, some for more than five years, in three camps, Al-Tanaf, Al-Waleed and Al-Hol. These camps are located in the middle of the desert far from any population centers. Al-Tanaf camp is located in no-man’s land on the borders between Iraq and Syria. Al-Waleed is located on the Iraqi side of the border with Syria, and Al-Hol is located in Syria in the Hasaka region. The camp residents had fled largely from Baghdad due to harassment, threats of deportation, abuse by the media, arbitrary detention, torture and murder by organized death squads. They thus became refugees again, originally as a result of the Zionist theft and colonial occupation of Palestine beginning in 1948. Some became refugees also when they were expelled from Kuwait in 1991 by the US-backed Kuwaiti government. Now, after years of waiting, many of the refugees stranded in the camps on the borders of Iraq are being relocated largely to Europe and the US, which continues to occupy Iraq to this day.

The first Palestinian family from Al-Waleed this year will be arriving in San Diego on September 16, 2009, a few days before the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, with 1350 more Palestinians to follow in the months ahead. According to the Christian Science Monitor most of these will be resettled in Southern California and possibly Pennsylvania and Omaha.

ACTION

Al-Awda is asking all its activists, members and supporters to contribute to help our sisters and brothers in their move to the US.

Please donate today!

Address your tax-deductible donation via check or money order to: Al-Awda, PRRC, PO Box 131352, Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA – Please note on the memo line of the check “Palestinians from Iraq”

Alternatively, please donate online using your credit card. Go to http://www.al-awda.org/donate.html and follow the simple instructions. Please indicate that your donation is for “Palestinians from Iraq” with your submission.

Drop off locations

We will also need furniture, cars, computers, tv’s, clothes, toys for the kids etc. The following are the current drop off locations:

General:
8531 Wellsford pl # f, Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
Te: 562-693-1600 Tel: 323-350-0000

For Clothes:
1773 West Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, CA 92801

For Southern California residents, an emergency meeting is being called for Sunday September 13, 2009 starting at 2 PM at the Al-Awda Center, 2734 Loker Avenue West Suite K, in Carlsbad CA 92010.

Our sisters and brothers need all the help they can get after having suffered from the death squads in Baghdad, and more than five years stranded in the camps. We need our people to feel at home as much as possible. We can not disappoint them.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR GENEROUS SUPPORT

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
PO Box 131352
Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA
Tel: 760-918-9441
Fax: 760-918-9442
E-mail: info[at]al-awda.org
WWW: http://al-awda.org

sub-contracting occupations

hopeinafghanistan5

i find it disturbing that there are people who seem to think that there was something new or who were impressed by obama’s speech because he used the word “occupation.” here is the paragraph in which obama used that word:

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 60 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. For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive.

the word i want to hear him utter is “nakba.” i want him to acknowledge the root of the problem and the only roadmap that will fix it, united nations resolution 194 that mandates palestinian refugees have a right to return to their land under international law. i find it increasingly problematic to use the word “occupation” because the word automatically signals the false notion that only land stolen by the zionist entity 42 years ago is “occupied.” but the entirety of palestine is occupied. is colonized. not just what is called the west bank and gaza strip. there is little difference between those zionist colonizers who occupy palestinian land whether in haifa or in khalil. and no the two people do not have equal legitimate aspirations.

there was an interesting debate on the speech on the pbs newshour, surprisingly enough, that featured abderrahim foukara from al jazeera, as’ad abukhalil, rami khoury, and some woman named sumaya hamdani whose reading of the speech was rightfully critiqued by the other panelists. this discussion was far more sophisticated and specific than anything i heard on al jazeera english because unlike al jazeera english, the newshour seemed to not make it a priority to find arabs and muslims who were salivating over the speech. you can also hear two good interviews nora barrows-friedman did with ali abunimah and robert knight with sami husseini yesterday on flashpoints that put the speech into its proper context.

helena cobban interviewed hamas leader khaled mesh’al yesterday for ips news in which mesh’al rightly states that palestinians want to see actions not words:

“We need two things from Obama, Mitchell, the Quartet, and the rest of the international community. Firstly, pressure on Israel to acknowledge and grant these rights. The obstacle to this is completely on the Israeli side. Secondly, we need the international actors to refrain from intervening in internal Palestinian affairs. You should leave it to the Palestinians to resolve our differences peacefully. You should respect Palestinian democracy and its results,” he said.

This latter was a reference to the hard-hitting campaign that Israel, the U.S. and its allies have maintained against Hamas ever since its candidates won a strong victory in the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s parliamentary elections in January 2006.

That campaign has included sustained efforts to delegitimise the Hamas-led government that emerged from the elections, attempts by Israel to assassinate the government’s leaders, including during Israel’s recent assault on Gaza, and the mission that U.S. Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton has led in the West Bank to arm and train an anti-Hamas fighting force loyal to the U.S.-supported Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.

In his reaction to Obama’s speech, Meshaal referred to the U.S.’s role in this intervention, saying, “Rather than sweet words from President Obama on democratisation, we’d rather see the United States start to respect the results of democratic elections that have already been held. And rather than talk about democratisation and human rights in the Arab world, we’d rather see the removal of Gen. Dayton, who’s building a police state there in the West Bank.”

this issue of american-zionist forces collaborating with the palestinian authority came to a head yesterday as obama delivered his speech. ghassan bannoura reported the events as follows for imemc:

Four Palestinians were reported dead and numbers injured as Palestinian security forces announced that clashes with Hamas fighters ended in the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia on Thursday midday.

The clashes started early morning and lasted till midday, The security forces and the gunmen exchanged fire after the gunmen opened fire at a vehicle that belongs to the Palestinian security forces, officials reported.

A security official in Qalqilia stated that the Hamas fighters hurled a grenade at the security patrol killing one officer and wounding several others. The security forces surrounded a building where three fighters of Hamas barracked themselves. Witnesses speaking under conditions of immunity told IMEMC that security forces stormed the building after heavy exchange of fire and found the three fighters dead.

Tension was high in Qalqilia since the start of the week. On Sunday a group of Hamas fighters clashed with the Fatah controlled security forces in the city. The clash left two fighters, one civilian and three security officers dead.

Meanwhile Fatah security forces in the West Bank and Hamas forces in Gaza arrested members of each other’s factions all week.

here is some footage from the associated press of the gun battle yesterday in qalqilia:

nora barrows-friedman’s interview with diana buttu the other day reveals the important details about these events and its relationship to larger concerns among palestinians more generally. here is nora’s post on her blog and below that is a partial transcript that i typed up from the interview.

Listen to my interview with former PLO advisor Diana Buttu earlier this week about the Palestinian Authority’s moves to:

1) accept “counter-terrorism” training from a US military colonialist-orientalist, Lt. Keith Dayton;

2) use that training to turn against Palestinians trying to resist the illegal occupation and apartheid regime of Israel;

3) further fractionalizing any national unity coalition to fight occupation and subjugation by Israel and the US.

here is a partial transcript of the interview with some revealing and insightful analysis and questioning (the link below is to the actual interview, which i highly recommend listening to):

Nora Barrows Friedman: …The PA placed the entire city of Qalqilia under curfew, which is reminiscent of Israeli tactics as they did their search and seizure mission. Can you give us your assessment of this in the current climate of the Occupied West Bank at this point?

Diana Buttu: Certainly, one of the interesting things about this case is that one of the individuals with Hamas who ended up being killed is somebody who was being sought after by the Israelis and who had gone under cover for a period of nearly 7 years. Rather than–so the irony is that instead of Israel person, the body that assassinates, it ended up that it’s the Palestinian Authority that has killed this man. And so it points to the direction that the Palestinian Authority is heading into: that is being the security sub-contractor to the Israeli Occupation.

NBF: And this also comes just three days after Israel assassinated another Hamas leader, Abed Al-Majid Dudin, in the southern West Bank city of Hebron. You know, let’s talk about the timing of all of this. The PA security services have been ramping up their suppression of the civilian population, within the West Bank, and more and more Palestinian civilians are unimpressed, you could say, with the PA’s involvement with the Israeli government and the United States. You know, after this meeting with Obama, what’s the significance really of the timing of all of this under the Abbas leadership?

DB: It’s very significant. The significance of it is that President Abbas wants to demonstrate to the Americans that he is the address, particularly since his mandate expired in January 2009. And the only way he can demonstrate he is the address is–and Salam Fayyad being the prime minister who has now twice been appointed and not been confirmed by the PLC–the only way that they can that is by showing that they can take control of security. In other words, it’s become very clear that the equation is that the Palestinian Authority has to crack down on Hamas and demonstrate that it can actually take control and take charge of security in the West Bank. And in exchange for that there may, perhaps, be some pressure brought to bear on Israel–not to dismantle settlements, but just to simply freeze settlements. It’s becoming clear that this is the equation. Especially in light of the fact that President Abbas’ mandate expired in January of this year.

NBF: Diana, let’s talk also about the training of the PA services by the U.S. contra-style military commander Lieutenant Keith Dayton. Dayton has been employed in the West Bank for a couple of years. His contract was just renewed for another two years. And he’s been tasked to train Palestinian Authority forces in so-called “counter-terrorism tactics,” not against the illegal israeli occupiers, but against their own people in the Hamas movement. What are your thoughts on the appointment and employment of Dayton?

DB: Well this is, again, part of the long-term strategy and the long-term thinking when it comes to this region. Nobody–and certainly not the United States–they do not recognize that this is an occupation. They do not realize that this is a political issue that has some security ramifications. But instead they view it as a lack of security and security only, thinking that this is a security problem and that if we address the security side of things, in other words, approach Israel’s security first, then somehow the political ducks will line themselves up. But that’s clearly not been–that’s proven to be false in the past and, of course, it will be proven to be false in the future. What’s interesting about Dayton and the forces that he’s been training in the West Bank is that when Dayton thought to give his first interview to an Israeli paper, one of the key sentences and one of the messages that he sent to the Israelis was the following: what they were doing is that they were training the Palestinian Authority forces not to combat Israel’s occupation or even to resist Israel’s occupation, but instead they were training the security forces to undermine those very individuals who at any point in time believe that it is alright to resist Israel’s military occupation. In other words: pit Palestinian against Palestinian rather than ensure that the Palestinians are able to resist Israel’s military rule.

NBF: And, Diana, how does this kind of Iran-contra style tactic play out in the Palestinian street?. How are Palestinians looking at what’s going on here?

DB: Well Palestinians are looking at it with a lot of horror and a lot of disgust. I actually remember 15 years ago, when the Palestinian Authority first came into the area. This is an Authority that was greeted with candy, with flowers, people were throwing rice–with a lot of jubilation thinking that somehow there was going to be a Palestinian presence, a Palestinian entity that was going to rule over their lives rather than being an Israeli entity, an Israeli force. You have to contrast that with the demonstration that happened yesterday where people were cursing the Palestinian Authority. People were chanting slogans against the Palestinian Authority–the same slogans that Palestinians once chanted against Israeli Occupation Forces. So you can see the connection that is being made, that people are making between Israel’s occupying forces soldiers and those of the Palestinian Authority. And unless this equation gets broken somehow, unless the Palestinian Authority re-gears itself or re-directs itself, which I don’t think is likely, then you’re going to see a much higher level of cynicism along with much more acts of a police state, which the West Bank is now turning into being.

perhaps it is in this context that you can see why some palestinians call the palestinian authority collaborationist. for instance the palestinian information center reported that the zionist entity is rather pleased with its subcontracted army here in the west bank:

The Israeli occupation authority has expressed extreme satisfaction at the success of Abbas’s security men in assassinating Qassam resistance fighters wanted by the IOF for a number of years.

Occupation military sources described the assassination of Muhammad Atteya and Eyad al-Abtali and the wounding of Ala’ Deyab in the city of Qalqilya as an important operation carried out successfully by Abbas’s security men, especially that this operation comes only two days after the assassination of Qassam commander Muhammad al-Samman and his assistant Muhammd Yassin after a 6-year pursuit by the IOF.

The Israeli occupation army radio said that Abbas’s forces besieged the hiding place of the Qassam fighters, which was in the cellar of a house, and when they failed to make them surrender they poured large quantities of water into the cellar drowning two of them and wounding and arresting the third.

it should come as no surprise, then, that resistance is now promising to turn its guns on the collaborationist authority as imemc reports:

The Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, issued a statement on Thursday calling on all fighters in the West Bank to defend themselves against the security forces of president Mahmoud Abbas, the same way the fighters counter the Israeli occupation.

In a press conference in Gaza, Abu Obaida, spokesperson of the Al Qassam, said that the brigades will prevail in the West Bank “in spite of the aggression of the occupation and its tails”, and that if the security forces think that the Al Qassam is vanishing in the West Bank, “they should know we are here, and here we will prevail, God willing”.

He added that the Brigades considers the security forces of Abbas as “outlawed militias, that violate the morals of the people and the country”, and added that “the only way to deal with them is by resistance; we call on our fighters to fight the gangs of Abbas the same way they fight the occupation”.

He held Abbas and his Prime Minister, Dr. Salaam Fayyad, responsible for the events in Qalqilia, and added that “no talks or future agreements would pardon them or grant them security”.

in spite of all this kenneth bazinet reported in the daily news that obama had to send out an email assuring american jews that he still supports the zionist entity in all its destruction and war crimes that they commit on a daily basis with the help of the palestinian authority and the united states:

The White House tried to ease Israeli concerns over President Obama’s fence-mending speech Thursday to the Muslim world, insisting he remains loyal to the strong U.S. relationship with the Jewish state.

In an e-mail sent to some Jewish groups and the U.S.-based lobby for Israel, the White House insisted Obama’s outreach to the mainstream Muslim majority is no threat to relations with its key Mideast ally.

“The President’s commitment to Israel’s security is as firm as ever, which he has emphasized many times,” the e-mail said.

it seems that they do need reassuring because all one needs to do is take one look at joseph dana and max blumenthal’s video of zionist terrorist colonists in al quds last night after the speech (one view of this video and you’ll see what i mean by terrorists):

oddly enough, in spite of all the racist ranting in the above video, there is a newish restaurant i pass by in between beit lahem and al quds just before you reach the old city that seems to pay homage to the new american president:

zionist terrorist colonist pizza restaurant in al quds
zionist terrorist colonist pizza restaurant in al quds

and today a brand new colony is being built on palestinian land named after barack obama:

Israeli settlers established a new illegal West Bank outpost on Thursday, dedicating it partly to US President Barack Obama.

The settlers, calling themselves the “Land of Israel Loyalists,” named the outpost Oz Yehonatan, near Binyamin, but were calling part of it the “Obama Hut,” according to the Israeli news agency Ynet.

And according to a report from Israel’s Arutz Sheva news agency, the outpost was named “in recognition of the president’s actions, which have led to a dramatic increase in the number of outposts being built throughout Judea and Samaria [the West Bank].”

of course in spite of what those zio-nazis say in the above video, the united states, and obama are firmly supporting only jewish suffering and a jewish state. obama confirmed this today when instead of traveling to nearby gaza to see the damage created by american weapons in the hands of the israeli terrorist army he chose to look back and history to see what europeans did to jews, and in his comments there he reinforced the deeply flawed logic that palestinians should pay the price for european sins as mark smith reported in the star tribune:

President Barack Obama witnessed the Nazi ovens of the Buchenwald concentration camp Friday, its clock tower frozen at the time of liberation, and said the leaders of today must not rest against the spread of evil.

The president called the camp where an estimated 56,000 people died the “ultimate rebuke” to Holocaust deniers and skeptics. And he bluntly challenged one of them, Iranian President Ahmadinejad, to visit Buchenwald.

“These sites have not lost their horror with the passage of time,” Obama said after seeing crematory ovens, barbed-wire fences, guard towers and the clock set at 3:15, marking the camp’s liberation in the afternoon of April 11, 1945. “More than half a century later, our grief and our outrage over what happened have not diminished.”

Buchenwald “teaches us that we must be ever-vigilant about the spread of evil in our own time, that we must reject the false comfort that others’ suffering is not our problem, and commit ourselves to resisting those who would subjugate others to serve their own interests,” Obama said.

He also said he saw, reflected in the horrors, Israel’s capacity to empathize with the suffering of others, which he said gave him hope Israel and the Palestinians can achieving a lasting peace.

this point of view is why most people in this region will never believe the rhetoric coming out of the united states even if the president’s middle name is hussein. zeina khodr’s report for al jazeera on the afghan response to obama’s speech is indicative of this sentiment:

egyptian blogger hossam el hamalawy also spoke out against the obama speech eloquently in an interview with al jazeera’s james bays, although there is some vapid woman sitting next to him who i wish would shut up to enable hossam to have more time to explain his important points:

and natalie abou shakra kindly translated khaled saghiyyeh’s article in al akhbar today on the speech:

People, let’s hear it out for Mr Obama who has just recognized Islam as a religion! Not only so, but he also recited Koranic passages at his University of Cairo speech!

And we, the “colonized” overwhelmed by permissiveness, did not stop clapping every time we heard a sura recited in English. But, frankly, despite this harmonious wonder between cultures and religions, it is worthy to note that the problem with the American administration was never cultural to begin with, and has not been merely a difference in political perspectives.

The difference lies in the bloodshed of hundreds of thousands that were killed in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan…. either by American-made weapons, American support, or by Americans themselves as is the case with war on Iraq for the so-called struggle for democracy, and the war on Lebanon as a passage to a New Middle East.

However, there’s no use crying over spilt milk, for Mr. Obama has thus spoken and has asked us to start over a new beginning. Simply, in a snap of his fingers he asks us to put aside all that without the need for an apology to the victims of these wars. We do not mean to waste the precious time of this new emperor, but is he asking us to be his partners? And, are we supposed to believe him? But, wait a minute… we have a lot to learn from our “big brother.” Not only shall he impose on us his democracy, but also imposed on us what he thinks of human rights… O, Mr. Obama, thank you for reshaping the etiquette.

More so, as the first step to this new recipe, Obama asks of the Lebanese Maronites to look onto themselves as minorities, just as the Copts, and he shall be the one who will defend their rights. As for “Hamas”, who was democratically elected by the way, he thinks they “represent, maybe, some of the Palestinians.” And based on his account of human rights, he emphasized the wrongness of the “violent” resistance. And what is the alternative? The same old talk about the two-state solution and the road map in Palestine, completely ignoring the right of return and the issue of the refugees. As for Iran, it should [according to Obama] abandon its nuclear dreams in the purpose of preventing an arms race in the Middle East- as if Iran was the one who begun the race! Hello Mr. Obama!!

Imperialism did not always come in the form of violent speeches. But, rather, it usually came in with a stronger sense of allure. Well, it seems that “development” rates will hit the ceilings again. Prepare yourselves for more bloodshed and victims to fall… this time in the name of humanity and progress.

and for those readers questioning me yesterday when i doubted the sincereity of obama in reference to his promises about iraq and guantanamo, just click on these recent news stories by jeremy scahill and you will start to understand what i mean:

IN FOCUS: “Little Known Military Thug Squad Still Brutalizing Prisoners at Gitmo Under Obama” (AlterNet): The ‘Black Shirts’ of Guantanamo routinely terrorize prisoners, breaking bones, gouging eyes, squeezing testicles, and ‘dousing’ them with chemicals.

WORLD VIEW: UN Human Rights Council Blasts US for Killing Civilians, Drone Attacks and Using Mercenaries: The UN group is also calling on the US to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate crimes by US officials.

HMMM: Obama Wants $736 Million Colonial Fortress in Pakistan: Critics say the White House wants to use the new “embassy” for “pushing the American agenda in Central Asia.”

SAY WHAT??: Mastercard-istan: Ex-Bush Henchman Wants to be “CEO of Afghanistan” (Literally): Obama may allow famed neocon Zalmay Khalilzad to become the unelected shadow leader of Afghanistan to “push American interests.”

and as for obama and all his words of supporting muslims in the united states one only needs to remember the holy land 5, most recently, or check out this story by cath turner on al jazeera about an egyptian man, youssef megahed, who was found innocent of “terrorism” charges, but who is still being targeted by the american authorities:

welcome to amrika and its empire. oh, and by the way, check out this article on the bbc yesterday that wrote up a piece on those tweeting about obama’s speech. my tweets seemed to have made it onto their radar screen:

Mr Obama also came in for some sharp comments on his treatment of democracy: “How about Mubarak and his ruthless suppressing the rights of others?” tweeted Marcy Newman, who describes herself as a teacher, writer and activist in Palestine.

And “Obama does this mean you will be recognizing Hamas given they were democratically elected?”

on gaza’s jailers

if we really want to be honest about why gaza is a prison and why palestinians are trapped inside then we must not only look at the primary culprit–the zionist entity–but also their partners in crime: egypt and the united states. we all know about the u.s., of course, because it supplies all the weapons to the israeli terrorists so that they may murder palestinians every day. but what of the egyptians. the egyptians who account for at least 1/4 of the jailers of gaza given their control over the rafah border. physicians for human rights and gisha published a report this week on the closure of rafah and the damage it does to palestinians in gaza which reads in part:

However, in the year between the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit (June 2006) and the Hamas takeover of the internal government in Gaza (June 2007), Israel kept Rafah Crossing closed 85% of the time; since June 2007, Rafah Crossing has been closed permanently, except for random and limited openings by Egypt, which meet only 3% of the needs of the residents of the Gaza Strip to enter and leave.

The closure of Rafah has severe implications for the residents of the Gaza Strip, including preventing access to health care services that are not available in Gaza, preventing access to opportunities for academic studies or employment abroad or in the West Bank, forcing long separations of family members on either side of the border, causing fatal damage to commerce and business, and creating a growing feeling among residents of the Gaza Strip that they are enclosed, isolated and trapped. The closure, of course, means a real inability to leave the Gaza Strip, even under circumstances of mortal danger.

of course, i do not agree with their assessment, that any palestinians are to blame for its closure. i reject any statement that blames the victim. and here we see the limits of so-called israeli human rights agencies. but i do think it is necessary for us to include egypt in the equation as they do. on monday two more palestinians died as a result of this closure because they were not allowed to leave for medical treatment:

Two Palestinian patients were reported dead on Monday in the Gaza strip due to the Israeli continued siege.

Both women needed treatment outside the coastal region but the Israeli military did not allow them to leave Gaza, local sources reported.

Doctors said that Somod Akkash, 17, and Fatma Al Shandi, 66, died on Monday midday In Gaza City hospital. They added that hundreds of patients are in critical conditions due to the Israeli 22 month long siege and not allowing patients to leave Gaza for treatment.

The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza announced that with those two patients dead today the number of patients due to the ongoing Israeli siege on the costal region has reached 320.

but they also could have left through rafah had egypt and their israeli terrorist partners allowed them to. and egypt and its israeli terrorist partners are not only responsible for keeping people trapped inside, of course. they are responsible for denying palestinians the right to go home as well. of course the situation of laila el haddad last week, who egyptian authorities refused to allow out of the airport after 27 hours of detention there, is case in point. she is finally back in the u.s., amazingly enough, and wrote a long and eloquent blog entry entitled “i was born palestinian,” about it which i will quote in its entirety because i think it needs to be read by all:

“Its not very comfortable in there is it?” said the stony faced official, cigarette smoke forming a haze around his gleaming oval head.

“Its OK. We’re fine” i replied wearily, delirious after being awake for a straight period of 30 hours.
“You could be in there for days you know. For weeks. Indefinitely. “So, tell me, you are taking a plane tomorrow morning to the US?”

****
It was our journey home that began with the standard packing frenzy: squeezing everything precious and dear and useful into two suitcases that would be our sustenance for the course of 3 months.

The trips to the outdoor recreation store- in preparation for what I anticipated to be a long and tortuous journey across Rafah Crossing to Gaza. The inspect repellent; the mosquito netting; the water purifier; the potty toppers for my kids ad the granola bars and portion sized peanut butter cups. This time, I wanted to be ready, I thought to myself-just in case I got stuck at the Crossing. The Crossing. My presumptuousness is like a dull hit to the back of my head now.

In addition to all the packing of suitcases, we were also packing up our house- my husband was finishing up his residency at Duke University and set to start a medical fellowship at Johns Hopkins in July. In the meantime, we were “closing shop”, putting our things in storage, selling the rest, and heading overseas: me to Gaza, he to Lebanon to visit his family; and eventually I was too meet him there (assuming i could get into Gaza, and the, assuming I could get out). Yassine is a third-generation Palestinian refugee from the village of Waarit al-Siris in nothern historic Palestine; he was born in a refugee camp in Lebanon and holds a Laizze Passe for Palestinian refugees. Israel denies him return to his own home- or even to the home of his spouse in Gaza. So when we go overseas, we often go our separate ways; we cannot live legally, as a unit, as a family, in our own homes.

I hold a Palestinian Authority passport. It replaced the “temporary two-year Jordanian passport for Gaza residents” that we held until the Oslo Accords and the creation of the Palestinian Authority in the mid ’90s, which itself replaced the Egyptian travel documents we held before that. A progression in a long line of stateless documentation.

It is a passport that allows no passage. A passport that denied me entry to my own home. This is its purpose: to mark me, brand me, so that I am easily identified and cast aside without questions; it is convenient for those giving the orders. It is a system for the collective identification of those with no identity.

***

We finished packing as much as we could of the house, leaving the rest to Yassine who was to leave a week after us, and drove 4 hours to Washington to spend a few day sat my brother’s house before we took off.

First, we headed to the the Egyptian embassy.

Last year, my parents were visiting us from Gaza City when Rafah was sealed hermetically. They attempted to fly back to Egypt to wait for the border to open- but were now allowed to board the plane in Washington. “Palestinians cannot fly to Egypt now without a visa, new rules” the airline personnel explained, “and no visas can be issued until Rafah is open” added the Egyptian embassy official. They were in a conundrum, aggravated by the fact that their US stay entry stamp had reach passed its six-month limit. Eventually, they got around the issue by obtaining an Egyptian tourist visa, made easier by their old age, which they used to wait in Egypt for one month until Rafah Crossing opened again.

I did not want to repeat their ordeal, so I called the embassy this time, which assured me the protocol had changed: now, it was only Palestinian men who were not allowed to fly to or enter Egypt. Women were, and would get their visa at the Egyptian port of destination. I was given a signed and dated letter (April 6, 2009) by the consul to take with me in case I encountered any problems: “The Consular Section of the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt hereby confirms that women, who are residents of the Gaza Strip, and who hold passports issued by the Palestinian Authority are required to get their visa to enter Egypt at Egyptian ports and NOT at the various Egyptian consulates in the United States on their way to the Gaza Strip for the purpose of reaching their destination (i.e. Gaza Strip)” it read.

With letter and bags in hand, we took off, worried only about the possibility of entering Gaza- the thought of being able to enter Egypt never crossing my mind.

2 long-haul flights and one 7 hour transit later, we made it. I knew the routine by heart. Upon our arrival, I was quick to hit the bank to buy the $15 visa stamps for Yousuf and Noor’s American passports and exchange some dollars into Egyptian pounds. I figured it would help pass the time while the lines got shorter.

I then went and filled out my entry cards-an officer came and filled them out with me seeing my hands were full, a daypack on my back, Noor strapped to my chest in a carrier, Yousuf in my hand…

we then submitted our passports, things seemed to be going smoothly. Just then the officer explained he needed to run something by his superior. “You have a Palestinian passport; Rafah crossing is closed…”

“I promise it will just be 5 minutes” he assured me. But that’s all i needed to hear. I knew I was in for a long wait. It was at this point I yanked out my laptop and began to tweet and blog about my experience (full progression of tweets here courtesy Hootsbuddy). At first I thought it would simply help pass the time; it developed into a way to pool resources together that could help me; and ended as a public awareness campaign.

****
The faces were different each time. 3 or four different rooms and hallways to navigate down. They refused to give names and the answers they gave were always in the form of cryptic questions.

The first explained I would not be allowed entry into Egypt because Palestinians without permanent residency abroad are not allowed in; and besides- Rafah Crossing is closed he said (my response: so open it?). I was told I was to be deported to the UK first. “But I had no British visa” I explained. I was ordered to agree to get on the next flight. I refused-I didn’t come all this way to turn back.

I was escorted to the “extended transit terminal”. It was empty at first, save for a south Asian man in tightly buckled jeans and a small duffel bag that spent the good part of our time there there in a deep sleep. During the day the hall would fill up with locally deported passengers- from villages of cities across Egypt, and we would move our things to the upper waiting area.

Most of the time was spent in this waiting area with low level guards who knew nothing and could do nothing.

At different intervals, a frustrated Yousuf would approach them angrily about “why they wouldn’t let him go see his seedo and tete?” and why “they put cockroaches on the floor”. When we first arrived, he asked if these were the “yahood”, his only experiences with extended closure, delay, and denial of entry being at the hands of the Israeli soldiers and government. “No, but why don’t you ask them why they are are allowed through to sunbathe and we aren’t to our own homes?”

“Rabina kbeer” came the response, signifying impotence. God is great.

There was very little time I was given access to anyone who had any authority. I seemed to be called in whenever the new person on duty arrived, when they were scheduled for their thrice daily interrogation and intimidation, their shooting and crying.

Officers came and went as shifts began and ended. But our status was always the same. Our “problem”, our case, our issue was always the same. We remained, sitting on our chairs, with our papers and documents in hand, waiting, and no one the better.

Always waiting. For this is what the Palestinian does: we wait. For an answer to be given, for a question to be asked; for a marriage proposal to be made, for a divorce to be finalized; for a border to open, for a permit to be issued; for a war to end; for a war to begin; for a child to be born; for one to die a martyr; for retirement or a new job; for exile to a better place and for return to the only place that knows us; for our prisoners to come home; for our home to no longer be prisons; for our children to be free; for freedom from a time when we no longer have to wait.

We waited for the next shift as we were instructed by those who made their own instructions. Funny how when you need to pass the time, the time does not pass.

“You need to speak with whose in charge-and their shift starts at 10 am”. So we pass the night and wait until 10. “Well by the time they really get started its more like noon”. So we wait till noon. “Well the real work isn’t until the evening”. And we wait until evening. Then the cycle starts again.

Every now and then the numberless phone would ring requesting me, and a somber voice would ask if I changed my mind. I insisted all I wanted to do was go home; that it was not that complicated.

“But Gaza is a special case, we all know that” I was told.

Special, as in expendable, not human, not entitled to rights special, I thought.

Unfamiliar faces that acted as though though I was a long-lost friend kept popping in and out to see me. As though I were an amnesiac in a penitentiary. They all kept asking the same cryptic question “so you are getting on a plane soon, right?”

First, a gentleman from the Palestinian representative’s office that someone else whose name I was meant to recognize sent. ” It’ll all be resolved within the hour” he promised confidently, before going on to tell me about his son who worked with Motorola in Florida;

“Helping Israeli drones do their job?”

“That’s right!” he beamed.

An hour came and went, and suddenly the issue was “irresolvable”, and I was “a journalist up to trouble”.

***

Friends and family in Egypt, the US, and Gaza, worked around the clock with me, calling in any favors they had, anyone they knew, doing anything they could to get some answers and let me through. But the answer was always the same: Amn il Dawla (State Security and Intelligence) says no, and they are the ultimate authorities. No one goes past them.

Later a second Palestinian representative came to see me.

“So you are not going on that second flight are you?”

“What are you talking about? Why does everyone speak to me in question form?”

“Answer the question”

“No, I came here to go to Gaza, not to return to the US”

“Ok that’s all I needed to know; there is a convoy of injured Palestinian with security clearance heading to the border with some space; we are trying to get you on there with them; 15 minutes and it’ll all be resolved, we just need clearance, its all over” he assured me.

Yousuf smashed another cockroach.

****
We were taken down a new hallway. A new room. A new face. The man behind the desk explained how he was losing sleep over my case, how I had the while airport working on it, ho he had a son Yousuf’s age; and then offered me an apple and a bottle of water and told me istaraya7i, to rest, a command I would hear again and again over the course of the 36 hours.

Is this man for real??? an apple and a bottle of water? I thought to myself, my eyes nearly popping out of my face.

“I don’t want your food. I don’t want to rest. I don’t want your sympathy. I JUST WANT TO GO HOME. To my country. To my parents. IS THAT TOO HARD TO UNDERSTAND?” I screamed, breaking my level-headed calm of the past 20 hours.

“Please don’t yell, just calm down, calm down, everyone outside will think I am treating you badly, c’mon, and besides its ‘ayb (disgraceful) not to accept the apple from me”.

“‘Ayb?? What’s ‘AYB is you denying my entry to my own home! And why should I be calm? This situation doesn’t call for calm; it makes no sense and neither should I!”

“C’mon lady don’t have a breakdown in front of your kids please. You know I have a kid your son’s age and its breaking my heart to do this, to see him in these conditions, to put him in the conditions, so please take the plane.”

“So don’t see me in these conditions! There’s a simple solution you know. LET ME GO HOME. Its not asking a lot is it?”

“Hey now look lady” he said, stiffening suddenly into bad cop, his helpless grimace disappeared.
“Rules are rules, you need a visa to get in here like any other country, can you go to Jordan without a visa?’

“Don’t play the rules game with me. I HAD APPROVAL FROM YOUR EMBASSY, FROM YOUR CONSUL GENERAL, to cross into Egypt and go to Gaza; and besides how else am I supposed to get into Gaza???” I shouted, frantically waving the stamped and signed document in front of him as though it were a magic wand.

“So sue him. Amn il Dawla supercedes the foreign ministry’s orders, he must have outdated protocol.”

“The letter was dated April 6, that is 2 days ago, how outdated could it be?? Look- if I could parachute into Gaza I would, trust me. With all do respect to your country, I’m not here to sight-see. Do you have a parachute for me? If I could sail there I would do that too, but last I check Israel was ramming and turning those boats back. Do you have another suggestions?

“What is it you want lady- do you want to just live in the airport? is that it? Because we have no problems letting you live here, really. We can set up a shelter for you. And no one will ever ask about you or know you exist. In any case you don’t have permanent residency abroad so our government policies say we can’t let a Palestinian who does not have permanent residency abroad”

“I have a US Visa- its expired but my extension of status document is valid until the end of June. and besides- what kind of illogical law is that? you aren’t allowing me back home if I don’t have permanent residency abroad?”

“I don’t read English please translate..”

“You see it says here that my status is valid until June 30, 2009”

“Good, so then we CAN deport you back to the US” he said, picking up the phone and giving a quick order for the Palestinian convoy of injured Palestinians heading to the Crossing to go on without me, my only hope of returning home dissipating before my eyes at the hands of a barely literate manipulative enforcer.

“You just said if i have permanent residency abroad I can go home, now you say I can’t, which is it??”

“I’m sorry you are refusing to go on the plane. Take her away please.”

We were ushered back to the extended waiting area, back to our roach ridden premises that had become our home, along with a newly arrived Luxembourgian and French couple and their two children who had failed to produce their passports and were being sent back home. Here I was, about to be deported away from home, over prepared, with my documents and signed papers, from consulates and universities and governments; and they, used to traveling passport-free the EU, being sent back home because they had only an ID card.

***

It wasn’t long before a new guard came to us, and request we follow him “to a more isolated room”. “It will be better for you- more private. All the African flights are arriving now with all their diseases, you don’t want to be here for that! It’ll get overcrowded and awful in here.”

Given the the well-wishes that preceded my last interrogation about the “uncomfortableness” I may endure, I somehow had a feeling where we were headed.

We were asked to bring all our luggage and escorted down a different hallway; this time we were asked to leave everything behind, and to give up our cameras, laptops, and mobile phones. We took our seats in the front of a tiny filthy room, where 17 other men (and one Indonesian woman was sleeping on the floor in the back, occasionally shouting out in the middle of her interrupted sleep) of varying nationalities were already waiting.

A brute man-, illiterate by his own admission, took charge of each of files, spontaneously blurting out vulgarities and ordering anyone who so much as whispered to shut the hell up or get sent to real prison; the room was referred to as “7abs”, or a cell; I can probably best describe it as the detention or holding room. a heady man with a protruding belly that seems at odds with his otherwise lanky body was the door guard.

Officer #1 divided up the room into regions: the 5 or so south Asians who were there for whatever reason-expired paperwork, illegal documentation- were referred to as “Pakistan” when their attention was needed; The snoozing, sleep-talking woman in the back was “Indonesia”; and the impeccably dressed Guinean businessman, fully decked in a sharp black suit and blue lined tie, was “Kenya” (despite his persistence please to the contrary). There was a group of Egyptian peasants with forged, fake, or wrongly filed Id cards and passports: a 54 year old man whose ID said he was born in 1990; another who left his ID in his village 5 hours away, and so on.

By this point, I had not slept in 27 hours, 40 if one were to count the plane ride. My patience and my energy were wearing thing. My children were filthy and tired and confused; Noor was crying. I tried to set her cot up, but a cell within a cell did not seem to her liking and she resisted, much as I did.

We took the opportunity to chat when officer #1 was away. “”So what did you do?” asked Kenya, the Guinean.

“I was born Palestinian” I replied. “Everyone in here is being deported back home for one reason or another right? I bet I am the only one being deported away from home; the only one denied entry to my home.”

Officer #1 returned, this time he asked me to come with him “with or without your kids”. I brought them along, not knowing what was next.

There was two steely-eyed men on either end of a relatively well-furnished room, once again inquiring about my “comfort” and ordering-in the form of a question- whether I was taking a flight that morning to the US.

Noor began making a fuss, bellowing at the top of her lungs and swatting anyone that approached her.

“She is stubborn. She takes after her mother I see” said the man.

Soon we were escorted back to the waiting area. I knew there was nothing more I could do. We waited for several more hours until my children exhausted themselves and fell asleep. I bathed them in the filthy bathroom sinks with freezing tap water and hand soap and arranged their quarters on the steel chairs of the waiting room, buzzing with what seemed like a thousand gnats. Thank God for the mosquito netting.

Eventually, dawn broke, and we were escorted by two guards to the ticket counter, our $2500 flights rerouted, and put on a plane back to Washington.

I noted on one of my tweets that I would be shocked if my children’s immune system survived this jolt. It didn’t.

My daughter vomited the whole flight to London as I slipped in and out of delirium, mumbling half Arabic half English phrases to the flustered but helpful Englishman sitting next to us. I thank him wherever he is for looking after us.

Whatever she had, Yousuf an eye caught in the coming days-along with an ear and throat infection.

Eventually, we reached Dulles Airport. I walked confidently to the booth when it was my turn.

What was I going to say? How do I explain this? The man took one look at my expired visa, and my departure stamps.

“How long have you been gone?”

“36 hours” I replied bluntly.

“Yes, I see that. Do you want to explain?”

“Sure. Egypt forbade me from returning to Gaza”.

“I don’t understand- they denied you entry to your own home?”

“I don’t either, and if I did, I wouldn’t be here.”

With that, I was given a a stamp and allowed back inside.

Now that we are warm; clothes; showered, rested and recovered from whatever awful virus we picked up in the bowels of Cairo airport, I keep thinking to myself: what more could I have done?

“The quintessential Palestinian experience,” historian Rashid Khalidi has written, “takes place at a border, an airport, a checkpoint: in short, at any one of those many modern barriers where identities are checked and verified.”

In this place, adds Robyn Creswell, “connection” turns out to be only another word for separation or quarantine: the loop of airports never ends, like Borges’s famous library. The cruelty of the Palestinian situation is that these purgatories are in no way extraordinary but rather the backdrop of daily existence.”

the egyptian collaboration with the zionist enemy is why many egyptian people refuse to normalize with israeli terrorists of any stripe in spite of its government’s normalizing policies. for instance, egyptians oppose a concert of israeli conductor daniel barenboim:

The concert, Barenboim’s first in Egypt, has ruffled feathers in intellectual circles, with music critic Amgad Mustafa describing the visit as “sneaky normalisation” with Israel.

But Egypt’s culture minister was quick to defend Barenboim’s visit.

“This conductor has attacked Israeli policies and there has even been a request to have him stripped of his citizenship,” Faruq Hosni told AFP.

The minister has himself said he opposed cultural normalisation with the Jewish State despite a 1979 peace deal between Egypt and Israel.

inviting barenboim also violates the cultural boycott campaign of israel. that boycott campaign is necessary in order to help fight for the liberation of palestine especially given the severe economic problems that the israeli-egyptian imprisonment of palestinians of gaza are suffering as sherine tadros reported for al jazeera:

but the collaboration between israeli terrorists and the egyptian government is even worse than this. or at least it is getting worse in the past week. the level of collaboration with the zionist enemy has reached new heights. now the egyptian police are murdering bedouins as ramattan news reported:

Egyptian police shot and killed a Bedouin in north Sinai on Saturday and seized munitions concealed in his truck believed to be destined for Gaza, Egyptian security official said.

“A Bedouin was shot and killed during an exchange of fire between police and armed men in north Sinai,” the official said.

Police in El-Arish ordered a truck to stop to be searched, but the driver tried to speed away only to crash into a police van.

Four Bedouin jumped out in attempt to get away on foot and one of them died in the shootout that ensued, the official added.

and it gets worse. now the egyptians are collaborating with israeli terrorists to completely sever gaza’s only lifeline to the outside world–where it gets everything from textbooks to toothpaste:

Egyptian sources reported that Egyptian security forces located and destroyed six tunnels along the border with the Gaza Strip.

The sources added that the tunnels were used for smuggling goods and other essentials to the Gaza Strip, where 1.5 million Palestinians have been living under strict siege for more than two years.

Sounds of explosions were heard across the border as the security forces wired the entrances of the tunnels detonating them.

The tunnels are located near the neighborhoods of Al Barazil and Al Salam, east of the Palestinian city of Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Egypt recently escalated its campaign against the tunnels entering into Gaza. Israel and Egypt say that the

and it gets even worse: now it is public that mossad, israel’s terrorist version of america’s cia, cooperates with the egyptian mukhabarat:

Lines separating warring camps in the region are becoming increasingly clearer as news emerged Monday that foreign intelligence services – including Israel’s Mossad – provided Egyptian authorities with intelligence that contributed to the uncovering of a Hezbollah-run terrorist ring and led to the arrest of dozens of suspects.

Meanwhile, Egyptian sources upped the tone of the charges against Hezbollah Monday by claiming that the aim of the underground activity was not limited to plans for terrorist attacks against tourist areas frequented by foreigners, but also against targets in the Suez canal.

Foreign intelligence services, including the Mossad and the CIA, contributed information to Egypt that led to the uncovering of the Hezbollah terror cell in that country, Philippe Vasset, editor of Intelligence Online told Haaretz.

and it gets far worse. is it really possible that the country that gave us gamal abdel nasser and his vision of arab unity and nationalism could stoop to this level so as to so identify with the white man, with the colonist, with the real terrorists so as to turn against his arab kin? is that really what the divide and rule of american-israeli terrorism has brought us to in this region? given the following report it would seem so:

The Egyptian press on Sunday slammed Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah as a war criminal who should be put on trial after he admitted that his militants in Cairo were helping Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Nasrallah said on Friday that a man Cairo is holding on suspicion of planning attacks is a member of his Lebanese Shiite fundamentalist group and was providing logistical help to Hamas, but denied seeking to destabilise Egypt.

“A criminal who knows no mercy” cried the blood-red headline in the state-owned Al-Gomhuria which reserved the whole of its front page for an editorial bashing Nasrallah, repeatedly referring to him as “Sheikh Monkey.”

“Sheikh Monkey, we will not allow you to belittle our judicial symbols, for you are a highway robber, a pure criminal who has killed his own people but we will not allow you to threaten the peace and security of Egypt,” editor Mohammed Ali Ibrahim wrote.

“You and your gang are terrorists and soon… the public prosecutor will issue details of an investigation into your terrorist organisation,” he said.

Al-Ahram newspaper, which is also state-owned, said Nasrallah’s admission that Hezbollah is operating in Egypt provided grounds for prosecution.

“The admission by (Nasrallah) of sending agents into Egypt… puts him at the forefront of accusations and requires dealing with him under Egyptian law, or international law and issuing an (Interpol) red notice for his arrest,” said editorial writer Ahmed Mussa.

“Egypt must start proceedings to try him in an international court. He has admitted to the crime. He must be handed to the Lebanese government as a war criminal,” Karam Gabr, editor of the pro-regime Rose Al-Yussef, told Egyptian television.

Egypt is holding 49 people with alleged links to Hezbollah accused of plotting “hostile operations” in Egypt, among them Sami Shihab, a Lebanese citizen.

In his speech on Friday, Nasrallah confirmed that Shihab was a member of Hezbollah and was working to help Hamas against Israel.

“If helping the Palestinians is a crime, I officially admit to my crime.”

Hezbollah, which is backed by Egypt’s regional rivals Iran and Syria, is a vocal supporter of Hamas, the Islamist rulers of Gaza, and has lashed out at Egypt for closing its border crossing with the Palestinian enclave.

An Israeli cabinet minister said on Sunday that Nasrallah deserved to die.

“Nasrallah deserves death and I hope that those who know what to do with him will act and give him what he deserves,” said Transport Minister Yisrael Katz.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a devastating war in Lebanon in 2006 which ended with Israel failing to achieve any of its aims.

this is what brainwashing looks like. that egyptian officials can be so duped by the west and their terrorist partners that they turn against the only leader in the region who is working to support palestinian resistance. if it were up to the mubarak regime, clearly palestinians would rot in hell. i saw a very disturbing episode of “inside story” with kamal santamaria on al jazeera the other night. i refuse to post it because santamaria hosted an egyptian on it who is allied with zionist terorrists and that information was not disclosed. though one comment made by this khalil al-anani made it quite clear: he actually said with a straight face that “no one is a better friend to the palestinians than egypt.” i kid you not. re-read laila’s blog entry above–which is notable because she published it not because this is not something that happens to palestinians every day. because it does. and she is clear about that. but in any case you can go to pulse media if you want to watch it. here is their assessment of the show:

The Egyptian government and the state media is frothing at the mouth over the revelation that Hizbullah had been trying to assist the besieged Gazans across the border which Egypt polices on Israel’s behalf. As usual, they were quick to resort to sectarian incitement invoking the inevitable ‘Persian’ plot. However, most Sunnis (here I would include myself) have nothing but admiration for Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and the resistance, and nothing but contempt for the Egyptian collaborationist government.

For those who don’t know the Egyptian panelist Khalil al-Anani is a ‘visiting fellow’ at the Israel lobby’s key propaganda institution the Saban Center for Middle East Policy (run by Martin Indyk, and underwritten by Israeli-American media mogul Haim Saban).

oh, and if egypt is looking to reform itself you should look to lebanon for a lesson in how to behave with collaborators (though how would this work in egypt: could we imprison and interrogate the entire mubarak collaborating regime?):

The Lebanese internal security services stated on Tuesday that it had arrested a retired security officer, from Ramish town in southern Lebanon, on suspicion that he had acted as a spy spy for Israel for more than ten years.

The man arrested was identified as Adeeb A. Initial reports revealed that the man admitted to holding regular meetings with Israeli handlers in Europe, and that he confessed to collaborating with different Israeli intelligence departments for more than 10 years.

The Al Akhbar Lebanese newspaper said that, three months ago, Lebanese security had been monitoring the communications of a group of suspects who were thought to be collaborating with Israel by giving Israeli security information on activities in the north and east of Beirut, and in southern Lebanon.

Adeeb was detained and interrogated last Saturday. His wife, also believed to be a collaborator, was later arrested and interrogated, revealing new information.

and for those of you who missed hassan nasrallah’s amazing speech the other night and want reminding of what arab unity could look like if done in the name of resistance, justice, and helping to liberate palestine here is his captivating, powerful, mesmerizing speech in full (thanks tam tam!) :

this is what has got egypt all in a dither. this is what should make us all mobilize together.

apartheid and its boycotts

some great news this week and some great writing, too, in honor of land day. nora barrows-friedman has a kick-ass report on land day in palestine including an interview with the mayor of deir hana in 1948 palestine that is really great. i did an interview this week, too, with naji ali on crossing the line, which was supposed to be about the boycott campaign, but it turned out to be more about the islamic university of gaza and rebuilding it. you can listen to me as well as akram habeeb talking about this online or you may download it on naji’s website. and if you haven’t donated yet to help rebuild the islamic university please go to the middle east children’s alliance and specify that you would like money to go towards the islamic university of gaza.

of course the savagery unleashed on gaza is what prompted the global momentum of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (bds) movement. nora also broadcast a brilliant broadcast of a lecture given by ali abunimah for the middle east children’s alliance last week, which i highly recommend listening to. there, too, abunimah contextualizes this movement in relation to gaza. what happened in gaza is one of many reasons to boycott the terrorist state of israel. we need boycott and war crimes trials and so much more. because when they say they will investigate they never do or the criminals get off and wind up running the country (just look at the long line of presidents and prime ministers and in every one you will find a war criminal multiple times over). imran garda’s “focus on gaza” last week highlighted the main war crimes charge related to white phosphorus (though listen to what ali abunimah has to say about that in the above-linked speech), which now, the zionist entity is whitewashing. here is the episode on al jazeera, which contains important interviews and information:

gaza, like the villages of deir hana and others in the jaleel that resisted on that first land day 33 years ago, it is illustrative of the wider problems here. continual land theft and murder. hazem jamjoum has a brilliant piece in common dreams this week giving us a sense of this wider picture of apartheid more generally in palestine which is essential reading for people wanting to understand what it is like here and why palestine must be liberated:

In recent years, increasing numbers of people around the world have begun adopting and developing an analysis of Israel as an apartheid regime. (1) This can be seen in the ways that the global movement in support of the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle is taking on a pointedly anti-apartheid character, as evidenced by the growth of Israeli Apartheid Week.(2) Further, much of the recent international diplomatic support for Israel has increasingly taken on the form of denying that racial discrimination is a root cause of the oppression of Palestinians, something that has taken on new levels of absurdity in Western responses to the April 2009 Durban Review Conference.(3)

Many of the writings stemming from this analysis work to detail levels of similarity and difference with Apartheid South Africa, rather than looking at apartheid as a system that can be practiced by any state. To some extent, this strong emphasis on historical comparisons is understandable given that Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is the central campaign called for by Palestinian civil society for solidarity with the Palestinian liberation struggle, and is modeled on the one that helped end South African Apartheid. However, an over-emphasis on similarities and differences confines the use of the term to narrow limits. With the expanding agreement that the term ‘apartheid’ is useful in describing the level and layout of Israel’s crimes, it is important that our understanding of the ‘apartheid label’ be deepened, both as a means of informing activism in support of the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle, and in order to most effectively make use of comparisons with other struggles.

The Apartheid Analogy

It is perhaps understandable that some advocates of Palestinian rights look at the ‘Apartheid label’, in its comparative sense, as a politically useful tool. The struggle of the South African people for justice and equality reached a certain sacred status in the 1980s and 1990s when the anti-Apartheid struggle reached its zenith. The reverence with which activists and non-activists alike look to the righteousness of the South African struggle, and the ignominy of the colonial Apartheid regime are well placed; Black South Africans fought against both Dutch and British colonization for centuries, endured countless hardships including imprisonment and death, and were labeled terrorists as the powers of the world stood by the racist Apartheid regime. They remained steadfast in their struggle, raising the cost of maintaining the Apartheid system until South African capital found it no longer profitable and white political elites found it impossible to maintain. Comparison bonus points can also be scored by pointing to the deep historic PLO-ANC connection, as well as the unabashed alliance between Israel and the South African Apartheid regime, which remained strong even at the height of the international boycott against South Africa.

A further impetus for confining the ‘apartheid label’ to a comparison with South Africa is that the commonalities and similarities between the liberation struggles of South Africa and Palestine are quite stark. Both cases involved a process of settler-colonialism involving the forced displacement of the indigenous population from most of their ancestral lands and concentrating them in townships and reservations; dividing up the Black population into different groups with differing rights; strict mobility restrictions that suffocated the colonized; and the use of brutal military force to repress any actual or potential resistance against the racist colonial regime. Both regimes enjoyed the impunity that results from full US and European support. Accompanying these and countless other similarities are a host of uncanny details common to both cases: both regimes were formally established in the same year – 1948 – following decades of British rule; control of approximately 87% of the land was off limits to most of the colonized population without special permission, and so on. While we speak here in the past tense, all of this still applies to present-day Palestine.

As the Israeli apartheid label has gained ground, some have adopted the approach of describing the differences between the two regimes, albeit for various purposes. In general, Israel has not legislated petty apartheid – the segregation of spaces such as bathrooms and beaches – as was the case in South Africa, although Israeli laws form the basis of systematic racial discrimination against Palestinians. The 1.2 million Palestinian citizens of Israel (approximately 20% of Israel’s citizens) do indeed have the right to vote and run in Israeli elections while the Black community in South Africa, for the most part, did not. The South African version of apartheid’s central tenet was to facilitate the exploitation of as many Black laborers as possible, whereas the Israeli version, although exploiting Palestinian workers, prioritizes the forced displacement of as many Palestinians as possible beyond the borders of the state with the aim of eradicating Palestinian presence within historic Palestine. South African visitors to Palestine have often commented on the fact that Israeli use of force is more brutal than that witnessed in the heyday of Apartheid, and several commentators have thus taken the position that Israel’s practices are worse than Apartheid; that the apartheid label does not go far enough.

Israel and the Crime of Apartheid

In terms of law, describing Israel as an apartheid state does not revolve around levels of difference and similarity with the policies and practices of the South African Apartheid regime, and where Israel is an apartheid state only insofar as similarities outweigh differences. In 1973, the UN General Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (General Assembly resolution 3068 [XXVIII](4) – entered into force 18 July 1976 – the year of the Soweto uprising in South Africa and the Land Day uprising in Palestine) with a universal definition of the crime of apartheid not limited to the borders of South Africa. The fact that apartheid is defined as a crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (5), which entered into force in 2002 – long after the Apartheid regime was defeated in South Africa – attests to the universality of the crime.

While the wording of the definition of the crime of apartheid varies between legal instruments, the substance is the same: a regime commits apartheid when it institutionalizes discrimination to create and maintain the domination of one ‘racial’ group over another. Karine Mac Allister, among others, has provided a cogent legal analysis of the applicability of the crime of apartheid to the Israeli regime.(6) The main point is that like genocide and slavery, apartheid is a crime that any state can commit, and institutions, organizations and/or individuals acting on behalf of the state that commit it or support its commission are to face trial in any state that is a signatory to the Convention, or in the International Criminal Court. It is therefore a fallacy to ground the Israeli apartheid label on comparisons of the policies of the South African Apartheid regime, with the resulting descriptions of Israel as being ‘Apartheid-like’ and characterizations of an apartheid analysis of Israel as an ‘Apartheid analogy.’

Recognition by the international community of such universal crimes is often the result of a particular case, so heinous that it forces the rusty wheels of international decision-making into motion. The Transatlantic Slave Trade is an example where the mass enslavement of people from the African continent to work as the privately owned property of European settlers formed an important part of the framework in which the drafters of the 1956 UN Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery thought and acted. An even clearer example is the Genocide Convention (adopted 1948, entered into force 1951) in the wake of the Nazi Holocaust in which millions of Jews, communists, Roma and disabled were systematically murdered with the intention to end their existence. We do not describe modern day enslavement as ‘slavery-like,’ nor do we examine the mass killing of hundreds of thousands of mainly Tutsi Rwandans through a Rwandan ‘Genocide analogy.’

Two points made by Mac Allister in her legal analysis of Israeli apartheid deserve to be reiterated because they are often confused or misconstrued even by advocates of Palestinian human rights. First, Israel’s crimes and violations are not limited to the crime of apartheid. Rather, Israel’s regime over the Palestinian people combines apartheid, military occupation and colonization in a unique manner. It deserves notice that the relationship between these three components requires further research and investigation. Also noteworthy is the Palestinian BDS Campaign National Committee (BNC)’s “United Against Apartheid, Colonialism and Occupation: Dignity & Justice for the Palestinian People” (7) position paper, which outlines and, to some extent, details the various aspects of Israel’s commission of the crime of apartheid, and begins to trace the interaction between Israeli apartheid, colonialism and occupation from the perspective of Palestinian civil society.

The second point worth reiterating is that Israel’s regime of apartheid is not limited to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In fact, the core of Israel’s apartheid regime is guided by discriminatory legislation in the fields of nationality, citizenship and land ownership, and that was primarily employed to oppress and dispossess those Palestinians who were forcibly displaced in the 1948 Nakba (refugees and internally displaced), as well as the minority who managed to remain within the ‘green line’ and later became Israeli citizens.(8) Israel’s apartheid regime was extended into West Bank and Gaza Strip following the 1967 occupation for the purpose of colonization, and military control over the Palestinians who came under occupation. Using again the example of South Africa, the crime of apartheid was not limited to the Bantustans; the whole regime was implicated and not one or another of its racist manifestations.

The analysis of Israel as an apartheid state has proven to be very important in several respects. First, it correctly highlights racial discrimination as a root cause of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. Second, one of the main effects of Israeli apartheid is that it has separated Palestinians – conceptually, legally and physically – into different groupings (refugees, West Bank, Gaza, within the ‘green line’ and a host of other divisions within each), resulting in the fragmentation of the Palestinian liberation movement, including the solidarity movement. The apartheid analysis enables us to provide a legal and conceptual framework under which we can understand, convey, and take action in support of the Palestinian people and their struggle as a unified whole. Third, and of particular significance to the solidarity movement, this legal and conceptual framework takes on the prescriptive role underpinning the growing global movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law.

Colonialism and the Role of Comparison

I have argued that the question of whether apartheid applies cannot be determined by means of comparison with South Africa, but rather by legal analysis. This, however, does not mean that comparative study is not useful. Comparison is in fact essential to the process of learning historical lessons for those involved in struggle. A central importance of comparison with South Africa stems from the fact that the South African struggle against apartheid was, as it continues to be for the indigenous people of Palestine and the Americas, a struggle against colonialism.

Focusing on the colonial dimension of Israeli apartheid and the Zionist project enables us to maintain our focus on the issues that really matter, such as land acquisition, demographic engineering, and methods of political and economic control exercised by one racial group over another. Comparison with other anti-colonial struggles provides the main resource for understanding this colonial dimension of Israeli oppression, and for deriving some of the lessons needed to fight it.

One of the many lessons from the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa stems from the fact that the ANC leadership was pressured to compromise on its economic demands such as land restitution. Only a tiny proportion of white controlled land in South Africa was redistributed to Blacks after 1994. As such, while the struggle of the South African people defeated the system of political apartheid, the struggle against economic apartheid continues in various forms including anti-poverty and landless peoples’ movements today. As Palestinians and those struggling with them work to reconstruct a political strategy and consensus on how to overcome the challenges of the post-Oslo period, the centrality of the demand for land restitution should be highlighted as part of the demand for refugee return.

A second lesson of major importance comes in response to the paradigm currently guiding most mainstream accounts of how to achieve the elusive ‘peace in the Middle East’, which is the idea of partition often referred to as the two state ‘solution’. In the 1970s, South Africa tried to deal with its “demographic problem” – the fact that the vast majority of its population was Black but did not have the right to vote. The Apartheid regime reconstructed South Africa as a formal democracy by reinventing the British-established reservations (the Bantustans) as independent states. (9) These ten ‘homelands’ were each assigned to an ethnicity decided by Pretoria, and indigenous South Africans who did not fit into one of the ethnicities were forced to make themselves fit in order to become nationals of one of the homelands. Through this measure, members of the indigenous population were reclassified as nationals of one or another homeland, and between 1976 and 1981 the regime tried to pass the homelands off as independent states: Transkei in 1976, Bophuthatswana in 1977, Venda in 1979, and Ciskei in 1981.

Each of these Bantustans was given a flag and a government made up of indigenous intermediaries on the Pretoria payroll, and all the trappings of a sovereign government including responsibility over municipal services and a police force to protect the Apartheid regime, but without actual sovereignty. The idea was that by getting international recognition for each of these homelands as states, the Apartheid regime would transform South Africa from a country with a 10% white minority, to one with a 100% white majority. Since it was a democratic regime within the confines of the dominant community, the state’s democratic nature would be beyond reproach. No one was fooled. The ANC launched a powerful campaign to counter any international recognition of the Bantustans as independent states, and the plot failed miserably at the international level – with the notable, but perhaps unsurprising, exception that a lone “embassy” for Bophuthatswana was opened in Tel Aviv.

Israel has employed similar strategies in Palestine. For example, Israel recognized 18 Palestinian Bedouin tribes and appointed a loyal Sheikh for each in the Naqab during the 1950s as a means of controlling these southern Palestinians, forcing those who did not belong to one of the tribes to affiliate to one in order to get Israeli citizenship. (10) In the late 1970s, the Israeli regime tried to invent Palestinian governing bodies for the 1967 occupied territory in the form of ‘village leagues’ intended to evolve into similar non-sovereign governments; glorified municipalities of a sort. As with Apartheid’s Homelands, the scheme failed miserably, both because the PLO had established itself as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and because Palestinians largely understood the plot and opposed it with all means at their disposal. The main lesson for Israel was that the PLO would have to either be completely destroyed or would have to be transformed into Israeli apartheid’s indigenous intermediary. Israel launched a massive campaign to destroy the PLO throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. In the early 1990s, and with the demise of the PLO’s main backers such as the Soviet bloc and Iraq, Israel capitalized on the opportunity, and worked to transform the PLO from a liberation movement to a ‘state-building’ project that was launched by the signing of the Oslo accords, seven months before South Africa’s first free election.

The push for the establishment and international recognition of an independent Palestinian state within the Palestinian Bantustan is no different from the South African Apartheid regime’s campaign to gain international recognition of Transkei or Ciskei. This is the core of the “two-state solution” idea. The major and crucial difference is that in the current Palestinian case, it is the world’s superpower and its adjutants in Europe and the Arab world pushing as well, and armed with the active acceptance of Palestine’s indigenous intermediaries.

Notes:

1 I use capital ‘A’ in Apartheid to denote the regime of institutionalized racial superiority implemented in South Africa 1948-1994, and lower-case ‘a’ to indicate the generally applicable crime of apartheid.

2 See www.apartheidweek.org

3 See Amira Howeidi, “Israel’s right not to be criticised”, Al-Ahram Weekly, 19-25 March 2009: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2009/939/re2.htm. Also see the Palestinian civil society response at http://israelreview.bdsmovement.net

4 For the full text of the Convention see: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/11.htm

5 For the full text of the Statute see: http://untreaty.un.org/cod/icc/statute/99_corr/cstatute.htm

6 See Karine Mac Allister, “Applicability of the Crime of Apartheid to Israel”, al-Majdal #38, (Summer 2008): http://www.badil.org/al-majdal/2008/summer/articles02.htm

7 This is the Palestinian civil society position paper for the April 2009 Durban Review Conference in Geneva, and can be downloaded at: http://bdsmovement.net/files/English-BNC_Position_Paper-Durban_Review.pdf

8 For a discussion of how Israel’s apartheid legislation continues to affect refugees and Palestinian citizens of Israel with regards to control over land see Uri Davis, Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within, London: Zed Books, 2003.

9 British rule in South Africa established reserves in 1913 and 1936 on approximately 87% of the land of South Africa for the purpose of segregating the Black population from the settlers.

10 For more on this see: Hazem Jamjoum, “al-Naqab: The Ongoing Displacement of Palestine’s Southern Bedouin”, al-Majdal #39-40, (Autumn 2008 / Winter 2009): http://www.badil.org/al-majdal/2008/autumn-winter/articles03.htm

for these reasons and more boycott is gaining momentum all over the world. the boycott motorola campaign now has a local chapter in new york and they held their first demonstration on land day/global bds day as reported on electronic intifada:

Motorola Israel produces fuses used in cluster bombs, “bunker-buster” bombs, and a variety of other bombs. Cluster bombs are specifically condemned by an international consensus of human rights organizations, and banned by many countries. Even the US government has voiced concern over their use. Motorola Israel acquired a $100 million contract to provide a data encrypted cellular network, “Mountain Rose,” to allow the Israeli army, which consistently and severely violates Palestinian human rights, to communicate securely anywhere they operate. Motorola supplies the Israeli military with the Wide Area Surveillance System (WASS) and other high-tech configurations of radar devices and thermal cameras. These surveillance systems are being installed around Israeli settlement/colonies and the apartheid wall, both of which Israel has constructed in the Palestinian West Bank in violation of international law.

Lubna Ka’aabneh of NYCBI and Adalah-NY explained, “The highly effective campaign to boycott diamond mogul and Israeli settlement-builder Lev Leviev set a successful precedent for boycotting Israel in New York. Motorola products are used to help steal Palestinian land in the West Bank, and to kill and oppress Palestinians. Similar support by Motorola for South Africa’s apartheid regime prompted a successful boycott against Motorola. This Land Day, we ask New Yorkers to once again rise to challenge by joining the campaign to boycott Motorola. Let’s do it again!”

in belgium, too, there is new divestment energy directed at a bank as adri nieuwhof reports in electronic intifada:

In a remarkably short period of time, activists in Belgium have built a strong basis for the campaign “Israel colonizes — Dexia funds,” asking the bank to divest from its subsidiary Dexia Israel because of its financing of the expansion of illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Israeli settlements violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva, prohibiting the Occupying Power to deport or transfer parts of its civilian population into the territory it occupies, as well as Article 53 prohibiting the destruction of property on occupied territory. The Dexia campaign is flourishing in Belgium and may potentially spread to other countries where Dexia subsidiaries are based.

The French-Belgian bank Dexia bought the Israeli Municipality Treasure Bank in 2001 and established Dexia Israel. Centrum voor Ontwikkeling, Documentatie en Informatie Palestijnen (CODIP), an organization focusing on Palestine, raised its concern about the transfer in a letter to Dexia’s board of directors in April 2001. The organization argues that Dexia’s investment in an Israeli bank involved in public loans might give the impression that the bank “supports Israel’s policy of occupation, colonization and discrimination.”

land day also launched the website to remove hamas from the european union’s “terror” list. here is their petition and you may click on the link to sign it yourself:

Appeal for the removal of Hamas from EU terror list !

On the occasion of the June 2009 European elections, we are launching an urgent appeal to all candidates for the 736 seats in the European parliament.

We ask that they actively pursue the immediate and unconditional removal of Hamas and all other Palestinian liberation organizations from the European list of proscribed terrorist organizations.

We further ask that they acknowledge the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and, by so doing, recognise, Hamas as a legitimate voice for the Palestinian people’s aspirations for national liberation.

while i love the bds momentum, i continue to be frustrated by the fact that people are selecting companies that are specifically profiting from the colonization in the west bank and not companies that profit off of colonialism in palestine more generally. this is why i love the new lebanon boycott campaign. and, finally, the article rania and i wrote about the academic boycott in lebanon for al akhbar was translated into english in dissident voice:

In remembering and commemorating Land Day, March 30, 1976, when six Palestinians were killed and almost 100 wounded by Israeli forces in Sakhnin during unarmed protests against the confiscation of Palestinian lands in Galilee; in remembering the December 2008 Israeli savagery against the Palestinians in Gaza; in recognizing the continuity of attacks against Palestinians; and in remembering the numerous and ongoing Israeli atrocities against Lebanese, let us stand in active support of a movement that has the strength and vital potential to significantly contribute to this struggle for liberty and self-determination in this fight against Zionism.

That movement is the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, and one of its main demands is the boycott of and divestment from Israeli corporations and international corporations that sustain Israeli apartheid and colonialism. We know from the South African example that a combined strategy of armed resistance with boycott, divestment, and sanctions led to the downfall of the apartheid regime, and thus can be successful. Focusing on economic resistance ties this movement to the roots of the Palestinian Resistance Movement which historically sought to liberate Palestine as well as the rest of the region from Western imperialism through its economic neocolonial policies.

We also know that we in Lebanon are not cleansed from Zionist products. From cosmetics to clothing, from bulldozers to coffee, we consume products that are produced by corporations that substantially support Israel — either by investing in Israel, or by supporting Israel financially or diplomatically. (While the removal of certain Zionist products, like Intel, is difficult, for the vast majority of products, such as Nestle and Estee Lauder, their removal from our market will actually invigorate our economy by increasing investment in local products and local businesses.)

In addition to the clear form of economic boycott (which, is too often incorrectly confused with censorship), there is the important avenue of academic and cultural boycott. An academic boycott involves refraining from participation in any form of academic or cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions, and thus ultimately works to promote pushing universities themselves to divest from any collaboration or cooperation with any Israeli institution. South African professors also called on their colleagues around the world to boycott them in order to delegitimize and isolate the apartheid regime. The boycott campaign in South Africa worked because of that isolation, which was coupled with an economic boycott, divestment, and eventually this led to the sanctions placed on the regime, which led to its demise.

The most powerful weapon of the academic boycott is the refusal to legitimize Zionism, the ideology upon which Israel was built, the ideology that allows for one group of people to steal, to kill, and to expel, an ideology that is fundamentally and wholly racist. It is Zionism that must be defeated.

The academic and cultural boycott of Israel is growing globally. It has been active in Canada and in the United Kingdom for a few years now. It has spread to Australia and the United States. The publicity surrounding this movement is as powerful a weapon as the movement itself as well as it further calls for a rethinking of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Indeed, the boycott movement is so strong now that Israeli colonists are paying $2 million to improve their global image.

Academics in Lebanon have added their voice to this growing movement. Faculty from the University of Balamand, the American University of Beirut, the Lebanese American University, Notre Dame University, Lebanese University, Beirut Arab University, USEK, Lebanese International University and Global University signed a statement calling for full academic boycott of Israel and Israeli institutions, and calling our colleagues, throughout the world, and most particularly those in the Arab world and those claiming to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians, to comprehensively and consistently boycott and divest from all Israeli academic and cultural institutions, and to refrain from normalization in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of apartheid. To add your signature, please refer to: www.boycottzionism.wordpress.com

Today, March 30, 2009, marks the Global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Day of Action. Let us stand together.

lebanese academic boycott of zionism launched

in honor of يوم الأرض (land day) and the palestinian national boycott movement’s call for land day to be global bds day the campaign has finally be launched in lebanon here is the article that rania and i wrote in al akhbar today explaining our bayan, which you will find below:

في يوم الأرض… فلنقف مع المقاطعة الأكاديميّة

رانية مصري ــ مارسي نيومن*

إذ نتذكر يوم الأرض في 30 آذار/ مارس 1976 ونحيي ذكراه، ذكرى اليوم الذي قتلت فيه القوات الإسرائيلية ستة فلسطينيين وجرحت حوالى مئة في سخنين خلال تظاهرات غير مسلّحة نُظمت احتجاجاً على مصادرة أراضٍ فلسطينية في الجليل، إذ نتذكر الهمجية الإسرائيلية بحق الفلسطينيين في غزة في كانون الأول/ ديسمبر، إذ ندرك استمرار الاعتداءات بحق الفلسطينيين، إذ نتذكر الأعمال الوحشية العديدة والمتواصلة بحقّ اللبنانيين، دعونا نقف وقفة دعم فعّال لحركة تتمتع بالقوة وبالقدرة الضرورية على المساهمة بشدة في هذا النضال من أجل الحرية وتحقيق الذات ضمن إطار المعركة ضد الصهيونية.

هذه الحركة هي حركة المقاطعة وسحب الاستثمارات وفرض العقوبات، وأحد أبرز مطالبها مقاطعة الشركات الإسرائيلية والعالمية التي تدعم التمييز العنصري والاستعمار اللذَين تمارسهما إسرائيل، والانسحاب منها. ونحن نعرف، من المَثَل الذي قدّمته جنوب أفريقيا، أن استراتيجية تجمع بين المقاومة المسلّحة من جهة، والمقاطعة وسحب الاستثمارات وفرض العقوبات من جهة ثانية، قد أدت إلى انهيار نظام التمييز العنصري، وبالتالي تتمتع بمقومات النجاح. والتركيز على المقاومة الاقتصادية يربط هذه الحركة بجذور حركة المقاومة الفلسطينية التي سعت تاريخياً إلى تحرير فلسطين، كما سائر المنطقة، من إمبريالية يفرضها الغرب من خلال سياساته الاقتصادية الاستعمارية الجديدة.

نعرف أيضاً أن لبنان لا يخلو من المنتجات الصهيونية. من مستحضرات التجميل إلى الثياب، ومن الجرافات إلى القهوة، نستهلك منتجات تنتجها شركات تدعم إسرائيل جوهرياً، إمّا عبر الاستثمار في إسرائيل، وإما بدعم إسرائيل مالياً أو دبلوماسياً (وفيما إلغاء بعض المنتجات الصهيونية، مثل منتجات إنتل، أمر صعب، فإنّ إخلاء أسواقنا من الأكثرية الساحقة من المنتجات، مثل نستله وإيستيه لودر، سوف ينعش اقتصادنا فعلياً عبر زيادة الاستثمارات في المنتجات والأعمال المحلية).

بالإضافة إلى الشكل الواضح الذي تتخذه المقاطعة الاقتصادية (غالباً ما يحدث التباس بينها وبين الحظر)، ثمة وسيلة مهمة تتمثل بالمقاطعة الأكاديمية والثقافية. وتتضمن المقاطعةُ الأكاديمية الإحجامَ عن المشاركة في أي نوع من أنواع التعاون الأكاديمي أو الثقافي مع مؤسسات إسرائيلية، وعن المساهمة فيها والانضمام إلى مشاريع معها، والعمل، في النهاية، على دفع الجامعات نفسها إلى الانسحاب من أي مساهمة أو تعاون مع أي مؤسسة إسرائيلية. الأساتذة الجامعيون في جنوب أفريقيا دعوا أيضاً زملاءهم في أرجاء العالم إلى المقاطعة لنزع الصفة الشرعية عن نظام التمييز العنصري وعزله. وقد نجحت حملة المقاطعة في جنوب أفريقيا بسبب هذا العزل الذي قُرِن بمقاطعة اقتصادية وسحب الاستثمارات، فقاد ذلك في النهاية إلى فرض عقوبات على النظام، ما أدى إلى زواله.

إن أقوى سلاح في المقاطعة الأكاديمية هو رفض تشريع الصهيونية، تلك الإيديولوجية التي بُنيت عليها إسرائيل، الإيديولوجية التي تسمح لمجموعة واحدة من الناس بأن تنهب وتقتل وتطرد، إيديولوجية عنصرية بجوهرها وبكليتها. فالصهيونية هي التي يجب أن تُقهر.

تتنامى حركة المقاطعة الأكاديمية والثقافية لإسرائيل عالمياً، فهي ناشطة في كندا والمملكة المتحدة منذ بضع سنوات الآن، وانتقلت إلى أوستراليا والولايات المتحدة. وتمثّل الدعاية المحيطة بهذه الحركة سلاحاً قوياً بقوة الحركة نفسها، لأنها تدعو أيضاً إلى إعادة التفكير في حق إسرائيل في الوجود كدولة يهودية. حتماً أصبحت حركة المقاطعة قوية جداً الآن لدرجة أن المستعمرين الإسرائيليين يدفعون مليونَي دولار لتحسين صورتهم عالمياً.

لقد ضم أكاديميون من لبنان أصواتهم إلى هذه الحركة المتنامية. فقد وقّعت كلياتٌ من جامعة البلمند، والجامعة الأميركية في بيروت، والجامعة اللبنانية ــ الأميركية، وجامعة سيدة اللويزة، والجامعة اللبنانية، وجامعة بيروت العربية، وجامعة الروح القدس، والجامعة اللبنانية الدولية، والجامعة العالمية، على بيان يدعو إلى مقاطعة تامة لإسرائيل وللمؤسسات الإسرائيلية، ودعوا زملاءنا في العالم أجمع، ولا سيما أولئك في العالم العربي الذين يدّعون التضامن مع الفلسطينيين، إلى مقاطعة كل المؤسسات الأكاديمية والثقافية الإسرائيلية والانسحاب منها انسحاباً شاملاً وثابتاً، وإلى الإحجام عن التطبيع في أي شكل من أشكال التعاون الأكاديمي والثقافي مع مؤسسات إسرائيلية، وعن المساهمة فيها أو إنشاء مشاريع مشتركة معها، وذلك مساهمةً منهم في النضال الهادف إلى إنهاء الاحتلال والاستعمار ونظام التمييز العنصري الذي تفرضه إسرائيل.

لإضافة توقيعك، الرجاء مراجعة الموقع الآتي:
www.boycottzionism.wordpress.com
اليوم، 30 آذار/مارس 2009، هو يوم العمل العالمي لحركة المقاطعة وسحب الاستثمارات وفرض العقوبات. فلنقف معاً.

* رانية مصري هي أستاذة مساعدة في جامعة البلمند، ومارسي نيومن أستاذة مساعدة لمادة اللغة الإنكليزية في جامعة النجاح الوطنية.

عدد الاثنين ٣٠ آذار ٢٠٠٩

here is our bayan:

بيان صادر عن أكاديميّين في لبنان

لقد هاجمت إسرائيل، في هذه الحرب الضارية الأخيرة التي تشنها على الفلسطينيين، جامعة، ووزارة التربية، ومدارس عبر قطاع غزة، والعديد من المدارس التابعة للأونروا. وليست مثل هذه الاعتداءات على مراكز تربوية غريبة عن إسرئيل. فمنذ 1975 خصوصاً، انتهكت إسرائيل حق الفلسطينيين في التعليم عبر إغلاق الجامعات والمدارس ودور الحضانة، ومن خلال قصف مئات المدارس والعديد من الجامعات على امتداد الأراضي الفلسطينية المحتلة، وإطلاق النار وشنّ غارات عليها. ولم تقتصر هذه الأعمال الهجومية على الفلسطينيين، فالاعتداءات الإسرائيلية على المراكز التربوية مألوفة جداً بالنسبة إلينا نحن الأكاديميين في لبنان. وفي آخر عدوان شنته إسرائيل على لبنان سنة 2006 مثلاً، دمرت أكثر من 50 مدرسة في شتى أرجاء البلد، ولا سيما المدارس المخصصة للمحرومين اقتصادياً في الجنوب.

لهذا السبب، نحن الأكاديميين في لبنان، نحثّ زملاءنا، إقليمياً ودولياً، على مناهضة هذه الجرائم المستمرة بحقّ المدارس وعلى دعم هذا الطلب السلمي والمحق بالمقاطعة الأكاديمية وسحب الاستثمارات وفرض العقوبات. وبصورة خاصة، نطلب من زملائنا في العالم أجمع أن يدعموا النداء الذي أطلقته الحملة الفلسطينية للمقاطعة الأكاديمية والثقافية لإسرائيل، لمقاطعة كل المؤسسات الأكاديمية والثقافية والانسحاب منها انسحاباً شاملاً وثابتاً، وللإحجام عن المشاركة في أي شكل من أشكال التعاون الأكاديمي والثقافي أو المساهمة في مشاريع مع مؤسسات إسرائيلية أو الانضمام إليها، وذلك مساهمةً منهم في النضال الهادف إلى إنهاء الاحتلال والاستعمار ونظام التمييز العنصري التي تمارسها إسرائيل.

وندعو كذلك إلى إنفاذ القوانين اللبنانية التي تمنع التطبيع مع إسرائيل، وبالتالي إلى مقاضاة المؤسسات والأفراد في لبنان الذين يخرقون تلك القوانين ويقومون بنشاطات تعاون أو شراكة أو استثمار في إسرائيل أو مع إسرائيليين. ونحن نحيّي البيان الأخير الصادر عن اللجنة الاسكوتلندية من أجل جامعات فلسطين الذي يدعو إلى مقاطعة إسرائيل، والرسالة التي وقّعها 300 أكاديمي كندي ووجهوها إلى رئيس الوزراء هاربر مطالبين بفرض عقوبات على إسرائيل، والدعوة التي أطلقتها لجنة التنسيق بين الاتحاد الكندي لعمال الحقل العام وعمال جامعة أونتاريو والتي تدعم حظر أشكال التعاون بين الجامعات الكندية والإسرائيلية.

بيان يحمل تواقيع أكاديميين في لبنان:

■ أسماء الموقّعين

سوزان عبد الرحيم، سناء أبي ديب، مي عبود، ميشال أبو غنطوس، دانا أبو رحمة، منى أبو ريان، محمد علم الدين، ريان علم الدين، فلاح علي، محمود العلي، ريان الأمين، كرمى بيبي، نبيل دجاني، نبيل فارس، نيكولاس غابرييل، آلين جرماني، صباح غندور، ريما حبيب، سمر هبر، نيكولاس حداد، هراتش هاجيتيان، روجيه حجار، ساري حنفي، سيرين حرب، ديالا حاوي، إهاب حدرج، سامي هرمز، إبراهيم الحصري، مهى عيسى، سامر جبور، بول جهشان، فاطمة الجَميل، ماهر جرّار، رشا الجندي، تامار كاباكيان ـ خاشوليان، فيصل القاق، غادة كلاكش، ربيع كاملة، سمر خليل، نيكولا كوسماتوبولوس، ميشال مجدلاني، جين سعيد مقدسي، جودي مخّول، مايا منصور، مزنة المصري، رانية مصري، زينة مسقاوي، سنتيا منتي، عايدة نعمان، عمر نشابة، هدى نصر الله، يوسف ناصر، مايك أور، حبيب عثمان، جيليان بيغوت، دانيال ف. ريفيرا، جويل رزق، ندى صعب، أمل سعد غريّب، صفية سعادة، نعيم سالم، نسرين السلطي، هيلين سماحة ـ نويهض، ريما صراف، ريتشارد سميث، روزماري صايغ، كيرستين شايد، أوجين سينسينغ ـ دبوس، ربيع سلطان، لينا الطبال، جهاد توما، حنان طوقان، نازك يارد، ماريان يزبك، سمر ذبيان، حسين زيدان، محمد زبيدي، هدى زريق، رامي زريق.

عدد الاثنين ٣٠ آذار ٢٠٠٩

for more information see our website: lebanese campaign for the boycott of zionism

when people go looking for crumbs…

i find it rather shocking that palestinian and pro-palestinian bloggers are salivating over this new short animated video by yoni goodman who was the director of animation for the academy-award nominated film waltz with bashir. it is produced by some new project called the closed zone, which is affiliated with gisha, an israeli organization working on freedom of movement issues. i wasn’t going to post it, but given that i haven’t seen any critiques of it i feel that i should:

in theory the concept is good and the animation is interesting. simple, but interesting. but here is my problem: notice that when this boy tries to cross the border into rafah you see the the hands stopping him have shirts cuffs and those cuffs are primarily with the colors of egypt and one with israeli terrorist colors on the cuff. but every other time the boy tries to cross into 1948 palestine or into the mediterranean sea, there are naked hands with no cuffs. so as to remove blame from the fact that it is israeli terrorists who keep palestinians imprisoned in gaza.

i haven’t seen waltz with bashir, nor do i want to. but i trust the reading of as’ad abukhalil on this:

The film strives, as always happens in the liberal Zionist media, to introduce, up close, every soldier who appears in the film. You see the soldier as a child, helping his mother in the kitchen, you see him with his sweetheart, you see him sea-sick and vomiting, and there is nothing but for the viewer to lament and sympathize with the suffering Israeli murderer. There is a particular school in the Zionist Left that expresses its displeasure—nay, more—that some of the practices of Israeli wars and various aspects of the occupation are detrimental to “the Israeli spirit” or “the psychology of soldier.” In other words, for some of these people—like the thousands who demonstrated after the massacres of Sabra & Shatila—opposition to the slaughter came not out of sympathy with the victims or consciousness of the disaster that befell them, but out of support for the national (and, for some, even religious) fighting élan of the colonialist army. The humanization of the murderer and sympathy for him are both the flip side of the dehumanization of the Palestinian Other, for he is not a complete person in their view. Read Zionist literature from the beginning to find in their representation—if they were there at all—backward peasants or lowly bedouins or nondescript refugees without citizenship, later transformed into “saboteurs” (and this is the same name that the Phalangist “Voice of Lebanon” radio used in the course of the war) in the 1960s, until Zionist propaganda finally settled upon the description “terrorist”. The film doesn’t deviate from the formula, even with regard to that splendid boy when he fires an RPG launcher in the face of the occupier.

But, the (im)moral standard of the film is evident from the beginning when the narrator suffers from nightmares because he killed some dogs in South Lebanon. And in another scene, an Israeli soldier bemoans the plight of the horses in Beirut’s hippodrome, for the animals are more valuable than the Arab according to a racial hierarchy that doesn’t differ in its essentials from Nazi hierarchy. There is a liberal American organization—which has been utterly indifferent to the lives of the people of Palestine—that ran a campaign to care for the animals in Gaza. The Arab and the Muslim in the liberal standard of the white man is of a lower rank than the animal. The Western viewer will sympathize with the Israeli soldier because he seemed the most affected by the killing of animals at the hands of the Arabs in the devastation of 1982.

And then there is the most important thing. Why the Zionist focus on the massacre of Sabra & Shatila and not all the other massacres the Israeli aggressor committed in 1982, when it killed close to 20,000 Palestinians and Lebanese, most of whom were civilians? The reason is clear, and it has no connection to the atrocities the Lebanese forces committed among the massacres that fill any history of the Lebanese civil war. Israel wants, in its propaganda focus on Sabra & Shatila to the exclusion of others, to evade—not to assume—responsibility. And this is what Folman means in the propaganda hype for the film when he says, “Israeli soldiers had nothing to do with that massacre,” so Israel chose a massacre that was committed at the hands of its allies to remain at a distance from responsibility. Israel (and the film) wants to say that it did not carry out these heinous acts, even though Israel in the 1982 invasion killed many times the number of victims of that despicable massacre. The facile clichés of racial hatred are parroted over and over: that the Arabs kill in defense of “honor” and as a “show of force”, as if vengeance were not a quality of Zionism. Bashir Gemayel and his wife who fixed Lebanese meals for Ariel Sharon did not understand that, despite their claim to be “Phoenician”, Zionists look at them as Arabs, willy-nilly, no matter how much they pretended and no matter how much Amine Gemayel tried to appear sophisticated. The film passes over the breadth of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, intentionally omitting a number of stubborn facts. The film doesn’t want to mention, for instance, that Israel did not dare invade Beirut until after the elite fighters of the powerful Palestinian resistance were evacuated, and after the enemy [Israel] put thousands of women and children in concentration camps. But the film revealed what was hidden: that the soldiers of occupation were afraid of us. The boys in the camp of Ein el-Hilweh in Rashidiyah scared them. It can be said that we fell for the propaganda trick of 1948 to 2006. No one denies (except Wahhabi or Zionist propaganda—and they are allies these days) that the 2006 war put an end for eternity to the largest strategic component in the arsenal of the enemy: the power to intimidate and to sow the illusion of fearlessness on their own side. And if this component wasn’t eliminated, then why did the aggression on Gaza develop along the course they did, without a settlement in the enemy’s advantage? As the ideological defender of the Israeli soldier says: service in the army became a function of making a living. And for us, the opposite happened: the fighting is no longer done by people who practice it professionally to earn money, but rather by courageous volunteers and adherents to conviction (which appears as religious doctrine these days).

And when you see the film, you should remember that painful time. Watch it in fury. I found myself scrutinizing the drawings of the enemy soldiers’ faces and asking myself: did I see one of these when I took refuge in the town of el-Qalila near Tyre in summer 1982? Did one of them stop me at their checkpoint? Did one of these participate in our morning assembly in the plaza of el-Qalila in order to isolate the “terrorists” among us, based on the suggestions of masked informants? And I found myself following the film in anger and rage as it attempted to re-write that era. Why didn’t the national movement deal early on with the emergence of the Phalange, which flourished since the 1950s (according to Hebrew sources) under the protection of the state of Israel? Why didn’t the Palestinian left and the non-Arafat wing of the Fatah movement deal with Yasser Arafat who did the impossible, to thwart the possibilities for the Lebanese and Palestinian revolution? It was possible to establish an effective resistance in South Lebanon in 1978 after the first invasion. At the time, the Iraqi [Marxist] Hashim Mohsin Ali set out to launch (and name) the Popular Resistance Front for the Liberation of Lebanon from the Occupation and Fascism, and he got in touch with Mohsin Ibrahim and George Hawi, but Arafat (who sponsored both) refused. He preferred to use Lebanon to negotiate the formation of the resistance factions. Thus, Arafat’s military appointments, such as Haj Ismail and Abu Zaim, were not without design. He planted corrupt people to thwart the resistance.

It is painful to watch the film for those who can distinguish landmarks and streets and gardens. What are they doing on our land? The film wants you to sympathize with soldiers of the occupation and to forget that the occupiers of Palestine walk and wander in panicked fear on the occupied land of others. It is the occupation repeated and doubled. The film wants us to accept their occupation and feel only the pain of the witness to the murder of Palestinians at the hands of gangs from the Lebanese forces who arose and flourished and grew by a decision from Israel. But this Israeli insistence on separating the army of occupation from the forces of one Israeli man in Lebanon represents an evasion of direct responsibility for the invasion. Watch the film and remember that era and let the politicians of Lebanon run before your eyes. Remember those who collaborated with the occupation in those days. Bashir Gemayal was being threatened by Israeli forces but he was not destined to harvest the fruits of the hostility he fostered. And Samir Ja`ja` (Ga`ga` in Egyptian accent), leader of these gangs who slaughtered in Sabra & Shatila, is today looked to in the subject of Lebanon’s defense strategy. As for Solange [Gemayel], who told Sharon and his wife that she wanted them to be her first guest in the presidential palace in Baabda, she brought a hateful quartet alliance to the Lebanese parliament. And one of the leaders of the gangs in the Sabra & Shatila massacres (who, like Ja`ja`, received training and guidance from Israel), Elie Hobeika, transformed by Rafik Hariri and the Syrian regime and their allies into national leaders. And then there is Johnny Abdo, close companion since the early years of Rafiq Hariri, as recounted by Heikal and Abdullah AbuHabib. The smiling Johnny Abdo, who hosted Ariel Sharon in his home, when he was asked if army intelligence was during his time sending car bombs to West Beirut, replied that he would neither confirm nor deny. Hariri wanted to appoint him President, but before he ended up President, he was receiving (as Hassan Sabra recently reported) monthly payments of $350,000 (the builder of the modern state began construction by bribing the President of the Republic of Lebanon). The period of the Israeli invasion didn’t erase the memory of anyone who lived through it. Remember its details and preludes. How Lebanon’s little Hitler, Bashir Gemayel, made use of Israel to threaten his enemies among the Lebanese. When Bashir Gemayel learned of the order for Israel’s aggression—before anyone heard of “Shlomo Argov”—he summoned the [Lebanese state TV] anchor Arafat Hejazi to speak about the threat of “the decision”. After the end of filming, Gemayel persisted in loading Hejazi—as he told me later—with vulgar, obscene insults for [Prime Minister] Safik Wazzan, although he was an obedient tool in the hands of Elias Sarkis and Amin Gemayel after him. It is true that a number of militias committed the massacre, but the crimes of the Lebanese Forces were larger than the others 1) because they started the ethnic and sectarian cleansing, 2) they started the practice of killing based on [sectarian] identity, 3) they maintained relations with Israel since the 1950s, 4) they prepared for war and set it ablaze and insisted on its continuation and 5) they attempted to import the model of fascism—a Nazi regime in the land of cedar and oak. But all the ambitious projects were shattered on the rocks of their own factionalism. And the arms of the boys in the Ein el-Hilweh camp started a journey that has not ended. They allowed the extinction of the model of reckless military corruption that Arafat oversaw, and initiated actions of resistance against Israel since its formation.

The film doesn’t want to speak of history. It doesn’t want to speak of suffering. Even when Zionist liberals touch upon suffering, they mean the suffering of the murderers. The nightmares of occupation soldiers are more important than the suffering of the victims of Sabra & Shatila. The soldiers speak of only their suffering, and don’t allow Arab victims to speak about their own suffering. The nightmares of occupation soldiers were more horrible than the killing of children in brutal Israeli bombardment before and after Sabra & Shatila.

the above writings are a translation from his article in al akhbar, which you can read in arabic here.

one of the main issues people who have seen the film is absence: absence of the palestinians in it. but also absence of the israeli terrorists who are responsible for the massacre of palestinians in shatila refugee camp and the surrounding neighborhood of sabra. this seems to be a theme in the feature-length film as well as in the above animation short where israelis are absent in their complicity of their massacring and murdering of palestinians in gaza. here is some of naira antoun’s analysis of the film in her review for electronic intifada:

To say that Palestinians are absent in Waltz with Bashir, to say that it is a film that deals not with Palestinians but with Israelis who served in Lebanon, only barely begins to describe the violence that this film commits against Palestinians. There is nothing interesting or new in the depiction of Palestinians — they have no names, they don’t speak, they are anonymous. But they are not simply faceless victims. Instead, the victims in the story that Waltz with Bashir tells are Israeli soldiers. Their anguish, their questioning, their confusion, their pain — it is this that is intended to pull us. The rotoscope animation is beautifully done, the facial expressions so engaging, subtle and torn, we find ourselves grimacing and gasping at the trials and tribulations of the young Israeli soldiers and their older agonizing selves. We don’t see Palestinian facial expressions; only a lingering on dead, anonymous faces. So while Palestinians are never fully human, Israelis are, and indeed are humanized through the course of the film.

We most often see Palestinians — when we do see them — being blown to pieces or lying dead, but there is one scene where mourning Palestinian women occupy a street. They don’t speak; they cry and shout. We don’t see the hard lines of their grief, we don’t see their tears. Rather, the focus zooms into the face of the younger Folman watching them as his breathing becomes more shallow, functioning as the emotional anchor of the scene. This is very typical of the film in that the suffering and experiences of Palestinians are significant principally for the effects that they have on the Israeli soldiers, and never in their own right.

Several critics have noted the real — and horrifying — footage from Sabra and Shatila at the end of the film. Indeed the only people portrayed in the film who are not animated are Palestinians in this footage. There is a woman screaming and crying. She shouts “my son, my son” in Arabic. She repeats again and again in Arabic “take photos, take photos,” “where are the Arabs, where are the Arabs.” But her words are not subtitled; she is just a screaming woman and her words are irrelevant and incomprehensible. So even in the same gesture whereby we are reminded that the massacre was no animation and it was a real event, the victims of that massacre are presented to us in a way that is deeply dehumanizing and “othering.” The coping of the wailing Palestinian mother cannot compete with the quiet reflection and mild manners of the Israeli veteran. Folman does not talk to any Palestinians and the only Palestinians we see are in flashbacks and this footage at the end of the film. Not only are Palestinians essentially absent then, they are also of one time — Sabra and Shatila. Palestinians are not part of time’s passage; they are frozen in an incomprehensible, and in effect inaudible, wail.

It is not that the absence of Palestinians is necessarily a problem per se. There are indeed films where what is absent is key, and therefore has a presence that is all the more significant. In Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Rebecca, for example, the haunting absence of the true central character, the traces of her, the allusions to her, make Rebecca all the more present. Not so with the Palestinians in Waltz with Bashir. They are peripheral to the story of the emotional life of Israeli veterans, a story of Israeli self-discovery and redemption. Indeed, it transpires that the filmmaker does not need to find out about Sabra and Shatila for a full understanding of his own role there, of what happened, of his responsibility, of truth. Rather, Sabra and Shatila are a portal to “other camps.” The psychologist-friend cum philosopher-priest-moral-compass tells Folman that this is in fact all about “another massacre,” “those other camps.” At this point it transpires that Folman’s parents were camp survivors. “You were engaged with the massacre a long time before it happened,” the psychologist says, “through your parents’ Auschwitz memory.” The solution that he suggests is for Folman to go to Sabra and Shatila to find out what happened. Everything falls into place. This is the meaning of Sabra and Shatila — a means, a mechanism, a chapter in Israeli self-discovery and coming to peace. The Palestinians are doubly absent.

Folman’s psychologist friend, like many psychologists one presumes, often talks in therapist mode, in addition to his priest-philosopher mode. He puts forward the idea that Folman suppressed the memories because his 19-year-old self — with the Palestinian camps as simulacrum for those “other camps” — unwittingly associated himself with the Nazis. But, he reminds Folman now, at Sabra and Shatila Folman did not kill, he “only lit flares.” So while Folman has been teetering on the edge of an overwhelming guilt, his psychologist friend drags him from the precipice. Folman and his contemporaries need not carry the guilt of being perpetrators — they were accomplices. They lit flares so that Israel’s ally in Lebanon, the Phalange militia butchering Palestinians could see what they were doing.

The question of who was doing whose dirty work is not so easily answered however Israel was nobody’s sidekick when it invaded Lebanon. The film does not show us the Israeli shelling of Beirut that led to 18,000 deaths and 30,000 wounded, the violations committed against civilians, the destruction of Palestinian and Lebanese resistance. And what about the fact that the Palestine Liberation Organization and armed resistors had been evacuated more than two weeks before the massacres, and that it was the day after multinational forces left Beirut that Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon made it known that 2,000 “terrorists” remained in the camps? The focus of Folman’s quest for responsibility in Waltz with Bashir hones in on lighting the flares as the Phalangists “mopped up” the camps. That two months before the massacres Sharon had announced his objective to send Phalangist forces into the camps, that the Israeli army surrounded and sealed the camps, that they shelled the camps, that snipers shot at camp dwellers in the days before the massacres, and then having given the green light to the Phalangists to enter Sabra and Shatila, the Israeli army prevented people from fleeing the camps — all of this is absent in Waltz with Bashir.

In the film, it is on the shoulders of the Lebanese Phalangists that responsibility for the massacres is unequivocally placed. The Israeli soldiers have qualms and do not act on them, the Israeli leadership are told and do nothing, while it is the Phalangists who are depicted as brutal and gratuitously violent. But just as this is not a film about Palestinians, nor is it a film about the Lebanese Phalangists — it is a film about Israelis. The point seems to be to set up the young Israeli soldiers as morally superior to these blood-thirsty beasts, not only in that it was not they but the Phalangists who actually massacred and executed, but also in their very way of being in the world, they are superior.

In a moment of what is presumably supposed to pass as brutal honesty, one of Folman’s friends remarks sadly of how he realized that he “wasn’t the hero who saves everyone’s life.” Essentially this is the limit of the notion of responsibility in this film: the Israeli veteran’s guilt at not having been a hero. The pain of having done nothing at the time, although there were stirrings in their consciences, even then — which the film contrasts with the Israeli leadership, and most starkly with the Phalangists.

The immediate aftermath of Sabra and Shatila witnessed a rare, if limited, moment of Israeli self-reflection. It seems odd that an Israeli film grappling with responsibility for the massacres completely elides this moment in Israeli history and collective memory. After demonstrations of more than 300,000 persons, the Kahan Commission was set up by the Israeli government to undertake an inquiry into what happened at Sabra and Shatila. The inquiry had several limitations, and one of its conclusions was that Defense Minister Ariel Sharon was indirectly, but personally, responsible for the massacres, and his ministerial portfolio was taken away. Of course the same Ariel Sharon was later elected and re-elected prime minister of Israel.

As Folman and those he speaks with recount what happened when they were in Lebanon, there is a lot of “while they’re shooting at us from all directions,” “we are attacked, we retaliate.” There is no sense that Israel invaded Lebanon — the word “invasion” is barely used in the whole film. The soldiers are young men going off to war in fighting spirit, fantasizing about women, wondering at how to prove their masculinity, licking the wounds of being dumped by girlfriends. They are singing songs with upbeat tunes and lyrics such as “Good morning Lebanon … you bleed to death in my arms,” “I bombed Sidon,” “I bombed Beirut, I bombed Beirut every day.” These lyrics are supposed to grate, but one nevertheless gets a sense of naive hapless kids who have no sense of the trauma that they are unwittingly walking into. One imagines that Folman would respond to the criticism that Israel’s role is not made clear in the film, that these hapless kids are also members of an invading army committing acts of aggression, by saying that this would be going into the realm of politics, and rather this is intended to be a human film. One of the more disquieting views coming from admiring quarters is that the film is great for a general audience because one doesn’t need to know any background information to appreciate the film. That Israel launched a brutal offensive that led to the deaths of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinian civilians is apparently not relevant. With “politics” and the “background” rendered off-limits, we are left with something that is misleading and inane. Its principal message becomes “war sucks.” And why does war suck? Because it is traumatizing — principally for the soldiers. When Waltz with Bashir won the Golden Globe for best foreign film in January, while the force of the Israeli military machine was being unleashed against Gaza, while war crimes and atrocities were being committed by Israeli soldiers, Folman could only muster, “My film is anti-war, and therefore would, sadly, always be relevant.” Given the evasion of responsibility and decontextualization that lie at the core of this film, this was hardly surprising.

In the final analysis, this is what Waltz with Bashir is about: the evasion of responsibility. It is not that the self-reflection offered by the film is only partial, and that we would simply be nay-sayers to be dissatisfied with it. Because there is no sense of what the Israeli role in Lebanon was, because it is about ethically and morally redeeming the filmmaker and his contemporaries — and by extension the Israeli self, military and nation, the Israeli collective in other words — because of all this, the film is an act not of limited self-reflection but self-justification. It is a striving towards working through qualms to restabilize the self as it is currently constituted; it does not ask challenging questions that would destabilize that self. And we are reminded of the psychologist’s comment near the start of the film: “We don’t go to places we don’t want to. Memory takes us where we want to go.” Perhaps this explains how at the same time that Gaza was being decimated, Israel heaped acclaim and awards on Waltz with Bashir; in addition to numerous international awards, the film scooped up six awards at the Israeli Film Academy. Indeed, the same Israelis who flocked to see the film gave their enthusiastic approval to Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. According to a poll released on 14 January by Tel Aviv University, a staggering 94 percent of Israeli Jews supported or strongly supported the operation.

What is alarming is not the approbation that the film is enjoying. That is to be expected. What is so disturbing about the reception of Waltz with Bashir are those liberal Arabs, Palestinian and others, who have been gushing. There is no reason to be so easily satisfied, to ask for so little from Israelis. If Palestinians do not continue to call Israel to account, then who will?

In his anti-colonial classic, The Wretched of the Earth, psychiatrist and revolutionary Franz Fanon includes at the end a series of case studies of his patients. There are torture victims. But there are also torturers who are unsettled, who are suffering, who are having nightmares. Fanon brings out the absurdity — and inhumanity — of the notion that they want therapy to be at peace with what they do, and clearly have every intention of continuing to do. Waltz with Bashir answers the collective Israeli call for precisely this kind of therapy.

democracy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

finally such activism is spreading to the united states!:

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

The demands are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

in an email omar had this to say about it:

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

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

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

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

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

the shipping news

poor baha’a was not able to leave for gaza this morning. he’s so distraught. but there is some confusion in the various media reports about the lebanese ship and whether or not it left and who was on board. it seems that march 14th/mustqabal prevented certain people were not allowed to leave at the last minute. those passengers were the palestinians on board. layers and layers of collusion. of collaborators. it is like suffocation. but check the different versions of this story in arabic and english starting with al akhbar:

العدد ٧٣٨ الثلاثاء ٣ شباط ٢٠٠٩

مرفأ طرابلس ـ ثائر غندور

المطران كبوجي أمسالمطران كبوجي أمسلأجل موعد مع غزة، لكسر الحصار، وصلوا بأمتعتهم. احتمالات الدخول للقطاع، احتمال الاصطدام بالاسرائيليين كان محور أحاديث النهار. وعندما رأوا السفينة «الظافر» راسية في مرفأ طرابلس، ظنوا أن الحلم يتحقق. ينظرون إلى الباخرة: «عمرها من عمر النكبة» يصرخ أحدهم ضاحكاً. «لا يهم» تجيبه صديقته. الخبر المشؤوم الرقم واحد: السلطات اللبنانيّة رفضت السماح للسفينة بالانطلاق. السبب: إنها غير آمنة. يتحرّك المسؤولون في «المبادرة الوطنيّة لكسر الحصار» ويؤمنون أخرى: «تالي».

يحمل المتطوعون الستة والثمانون أمتعتهم ويصعدون إلى السفينة. الحلم أصبح قريب القطاف. «هناك سفن أوروبية تنتظرنا في قبرص للذهاب إلى غزة»، يقول أحد المتطوعين.
هذا يعني أملاً كبيراً في الوصول.

تمرّ الساعات بطيئة. يصل رئيس تجمع اللجان والروابط الشعبيّة معن بشور قائلاً إنه يحمل خبراً سيئاً «أبلغتنا السلطات أن الذهاب إلى غزة غير وارد بهذه السفينة لأنها سفينة شحن، وهناك خياران: إما أن لا تذهب السفينة أو تذهب بدون المتطوعين».

يسود صمت رهيب. تكفهرّ الوجوه. ينسى الجميع تعب الساعات التي وقفوها على أرجلهم من دون طعام وتحت المطر. يخرج نقابي شيوعي ليقول «هناك قرار سياسي بمنعنا. ألم يكونوا موافقين حتى صباح اليوم على السفينة الأولى»؟ تعلو صرخات الاستهجان. يطلب بشور تنظيم النقاش «حتى نأخذ قراراً موحداً». يتحدّث بعض رجال الدين في الإطار ذاته: «ذاهبون إلى غزة شاء من شاء وأبى من أبى. هم وافقوا على سفر السفينة التجاريّة. قالوا أحضروا سترات النجاة وأحضرناها، ما الذي تغيّر؟ من المسؤول؟ هل هو الاعتدال العربي؟».

يقول معن بشور إن الرؤساء الثلاثة ووزير النقل على اطلاع على ما يجري وهم لا يريدوننا أن نقع في مشكلة قانونيّة. لا يقنع الكلام أحداً. ماذا نفعل؟ يقترح عربي العنداري رئيس المجلس الوطني في اتحاد الشباب الديموقراطي اللبناني «التظاهر حتى ذهاب السفينة بمن عليها».

«نريد فعل الخير وهم يعرقلوننا» يقول مطران القدس في المنفى هيلاريون كبوشي، ويضيف «السبب هو الخارج أي دول الاعتدال العربي». يعلّق أحد الموجودين «الاسرائيليون مأزومون ولا يريدون أن يمنعوا هم السفينة فمنعها اللبنانيون وفق طلب أميركي». لم ييأس المتطوعون. قلّة منهم تعتلي متن السفينة، قبل أن ترفع القوى الأمنيّة السلم، وتمنع الباقين من الصعود. المفاوضات مستمرة. هناك من يطالب الدولة بتأمين سفينة إذا ما كانت جادة. الشتائم تطال الوزير غازي العريضي «وزير الاعتدال العربي» كما نعته البعض.
يقولون إن العريضي مخطئ وسيدفع ثمن موقفه. لا يريدون التراجع. لكن قرار حكومة الوحدة الوطنيّة أقوى منهم. اثنتا عشرة ساعة من الوقوف تحت المطر من دون أكل أو راحة. الثامنة مساءً. تطلع قوة امنية الى متن السفينة وتطلب من الجميع مغادرتها. يقترح أحد المنظمين أن تسافر السفينة بثمانية اشخاص معظمهم من الاعلام المرئي. يرفض المعتصمون. هم قابَ سفينة من غزة. وحتى كتابة هذه السطور، كان الانتظار سيد الموقف. بكلمات قليلة: سفينة كسر الحصار محاصرة من الدولة ومن عدم تنسيق المنظمين لرحلتهم. بكلمات وجدانيّة: حلم زيارة فلسطين تأجّل، لكنه لم يتلاشَ.

عدد الثلاثاء ٣ شباط ٢٠٠٩

and this from as safir:

¯ العريضي: باخرتا شحن غير مجهزتين للركاب ¯ بشور: موعودون بباخرة ثالثة للباقين
»سفينة الأخوة« تبدلت وأبحرت إلى غزة وعلى متنها ٨ أشخاص من أصل ٨٢

غسان ريفي
طرابلس :

… وأبحرت »سفينة الأخوة اللبنانية« إلى لارنكا، ومنها إلى غزة عند منتصف ليل أمس، بعد مخاض عسير، وبعد يوم طويل من المفاوضات التي خاضها الوزير السابق بشـارة مرهج وعضو الحملة الوطنية لكسر الحصار عن غزة (منــظمة الرحلة) معن بشور مع وزير الأشغال العامة والنقل غازي العريضي وتدخل في مجرياتها رئيس الجمهورية ميشال سليمان ورئيس مجلس النواب نبيه بري.

وبينما كان مقرراً أن تنطلق السفينة »ظافر« عند الثانية عشرة من ظهر أمس، وعلى متنها ٨٢ راكباً من شخصيات وإعلاميين ومتطوعين ناشطين محملة بالمساعدات إلى غزة، فإن السفينة التي غادرت مرفأ طرابلس هي واحدة أخرى اسمها »تالي« وعلى متنها »مطران القدس في المنفى ايلاريون كبوجي والشيخ صلاح الدين علايلي ورئيس رابطة علماء فلسطين الشيخ داوود مصطفى ومنسق الحملة هاني سليمان واربعة إعلاميين من قناتي الجزيرة والجديد مؤهلين تقنياً للبث المباشر من الباخرة في البحر في حال تعرّضت لها قطع بحرية إسرائيلية أو غيرها«، بحسب ما قال بشور لـ»السفير«. وتابع: »أما الباقون من الركاب فمن المفترض أن يؤمن رجل أعمال فلسطيني سفينة أخرى للركاب لتقلهم إلى غزة«. »تالي كانت منعت من الإبحار بالمشاركين جميعهم، بعدما تبين للعريضي أنها معدة للشحن وأن فيها ثغرات من الممكن إصلاحها إذا قرر المنظمون تأجيل الرحلة. لكن المفاوضات انتهت بالسماح بإبحار »تالي« وعلى متنها ثمانية ركاب من أصل ٨٢ بينما عاد الباقون ادراجهم.
ماذا في تفاصيل اليوم الطويل؟

عند الثامنة صباحاً تجمّع ناشطون حقوقيون وأطباء وإعلاميون في شارع الحمراء للانتقال إلى طرابلس. وفي المرفأ، وبعد تحميل الباخرة »ظافر« بالمساعدات وصعود الركاب إليها، جاء كشف المسؤولين في المرفأ بأنها غير صالحة للإبحار بالركاب وغير مجهزة لسلامتهم. بعد اتصالات من اللجنة المنظمة، تم تأمين الباخرة »تالي« التي نقلت إليها الحمولة، ما استدعى تأخيراً في الإبحار حتى الساعة الرابعة عصراً. لاحقاَ منعت الباخرة الثانية من الإبحار بهذا العدد من الركاب، بعدما تبين للعريضي أن الباخرة الثانية للشحن ليست معدة لنقل الركاب.

العريضي شرح لـ»السفير« أنه أوقف سفر الباخرة »ظافر«، لأنها تفتقر الى مواصفات السلامة العامة، وبعض المواصفات القانونية التي تمنعها من الملاحة. وتابع: ظهر أن هناك ملاحظات حول ميكانيك السفينة وطاقمها، ووسائل الحماية، وقد أجرينا كشفاً عليها فتبين أنها غير صالحة لمثل هذه الرحلة نظراً للمسؤولية المترتبة عن حياة الركاب. ولا يمكن بالتالي السماح لأسباب قانونية بنقل ركاب مع الحمولة، فطلبنا من القيمين على الرحلة تأجيل الموضوع لحين توفر باخرة بديلة. وأضاف: اتصل بنا النائب السابق بشارة مرهج ومعن بشور، كما اتصلا برئيس الجمهورية ميشال سليمان، فاتصل الرئيس بي وشرحت له الوضع، فأيد موقفي، ثم أبلغني مرهج وبشور أنهما أمنا باخرة أخرى (الباخرة تالي)، فطلبنا ملفها، فتبين أنها باخرة شحن لا ركاب، وبالتالي، فبحسب القانون الدولي لا يمكن السماح بركوب ركاب فيها إذ يمكن توقيف الباخرة في أي ميناء دولي، عدا عن أن الأمر يسبب تسيباً في المرافئ اللبنانية، ناهيك عن الثغرات فيها والتي يمكن إصلاحها أو معالجتها. وأبدينا استعداداً للمساعدة وطلبنا التريث مجدداً لتوفير بديل أفضل وأصلح وقانوني. فاتصلا بالرئيس نبيه بري طالبين تدخله، فاتصل بي وشرحت له الموقف، فأيد موقفي وأكد ثقته بي«.
من جهته، قال مرهج لـ»السفير« إن الباخرة »تالي« مجهزة بعشر غرف وثلاثة صالونات ومحركاتها جيدة جداً. لاحقاً على تحميل المساعدات على متنها عرفت أن العريضي منع الإبحار، فاتصلت به فأخبرني أنها للشحن وإبحارها بالركاب غير قانوني. فقلت له إن السفينة ممتازة والمسؤولين في المرفأ كانوا متعاونين معنا ولم يخبرنا أحد منهم بأي مشكلة فيها، وهي محملة بالمساعدات وليست تجارية، بل في سبيل قضية إنسانية، لذا فموقفك قوي قانونياً، لكن الوزير تمسك برأيه«.

لكن المفاوضات وصلت لاحقاً إلى التسوية الليلية بأن يصعد على متن السفينة رجال الدين الثلاثة وسليمان إضافة إلى الإعلاميين الاربعة.
من جهته، قال بشور لـ»السفير« إن الحملة كانت أمام خيارين، فإما إلغاء الرحلة وإدخال الموضوع في مجال التجاذبات السياسية، وإما تنطلق بالأشخاص الثمانية، فاعتمدنا الخيار الثاني. وتساءل بشور »عن سبب المنع المفاجئ عند الساعة الرابعة عصراً وليس صباح الأحد حيث كان مقرراً أن تنطلق »ظافر« إلى غزة«.

المشاركون
وكان المشاركون في الرحلة أصيبوا بالإحباط مع حلول ساعات المساء الأولى، وبعد يوم مرهق من الانتظار والانتقال من باخرة إلى أخرى ومن منع إلى آخر. بعضهم اقترح »تحدي القرار« والخروج بالسفينة، وإن استدعى الأمر مواجهة مع السلطة، لأنه »عندما شاهدَت (السفيرة الأميركية) ميشال سيسون الرايات الفلسطينية فوق السفينة أصدرت تعليماتها للسلطة بمنع إبحارها«، قالت إحدى المشاركات فيما تحدث آخرون عن ضغوط سياسية مورست من قبل »جهات معينة« لمنع اللبنانيين من التضامن مع أخوتهم في غزة. »هذا ما توقعته منذ أن أبلغونا بضرورة استبدال السفينة«، قال أحدهم.
من جهته، نفى العريضي ما تردد عن »ضغوط مورست عليه لمنع إبحار السفينة«، وقال لـ»السفير«: في موضوع فلسطين والمقاومة لا أحد يزايد أو يضغط عليّ.
تبقى الكلمة الأخيرة للمطران كبوجي الذي طلب من الجميع »الدعاء إلى أهالي غزة، والابتهال إلى الله بأن يوصل باخرة »الاخوة« والمتضامنين الذين على متنها إلى قلب غزة للتعبير عن التضامن مع أهلها وكسر الحصار والوحدة التي يعيشونها، مؤكداً أن »إسرائيل لا تستطيع أن تمنع الباخرة من الدخول إلى غزة فهي متوجهة إلى أرضها وترابها، وإسرائيل معتدية ومغتصبة لهذه الأرض، وعليها أن ترحل وان توقف عدوانها الهمجي على غزة وعلى أهلها بشكل فوري، وأن ترفع هذا الحصار الجائز. وقال إنه اشتاق إلى أرض فلسطين وتراب غزة.

and now check out lebanon’s an nahar:

A cargo ship carrying activists and supplies sailed late Monday from Lebanon en route to the Gaza Strip in defiance of an Israeli blockade.

The ship, carrying 60 tons of medicine, food, toys, books and stationery, left the northern port city of Tripoli for Larnaca in Cyprus at around midnight.

On board the “Brotherhood Ship” were eight people including the former Greek-Catholic archbishop of Jerusalem, Monsignor Hilarion Capucci, who left Jerusalem in the 1970s after serving time in an Israeli jail for membership of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

“We have decided to go ahead with this mission in solidarity with the people of Gaza so that they don’t feel cut off from the world,” organizer Hani Suleiman told Agence France Presse before the boat left Tripoli.

“There is no reason whatsoever for Israel to prevent us from reaching Gaza,” he added. “We have no rockets, no weapons, just aid for the people of Gaza.”

The Togolese-registered Tali was headed first to Cyprus where authorities were to search the vessel to ensure transparency, before continuing on to the Gaza Strip.

Beirut, 03 Feb 09, 09:40

and then ha’aretz, which clearly just pulled from an nahar for its version:

An organizer says a cargo ship carrying activists and supplies has set sail from Lebanon en route to the Gaza Strip in defiance of an Israeli blockade.

The Togo-flagged ship Tali is carrying about 60 tons of medicine, food, toys, books and stationery, as well as eight activists and journalists.

The ship set sail early Tuesday from Tripoli in northern Lebanon. It will stop in Larnaca, Cyprus, before proceeding to Gaza.

Organizers say they hope to arrive mid-week. But Israel has imposed a blockade of the coastal Palestinian territory and has turned back similar aid boats trying to reach Gaza.

A similar trip planned for December was put off because of the recent Israeli offensive against Hamas militants who control

meanwhile there is beautiful news about boats coming from south africa–israeli terrorist boats to be more specific:

South African dockworkers announce ban on Israeli ship

Posted by StopTheWall on Tue, 02/03/2009 – 10:15

February 3, 2009 – LINKS – In a historic development for South Africa, South African dock workers have announced their determination not to offload a ship from Israel that is scheduled to dock in Durban on Sunday, February 8, 2009. This follows the decision by COSATU to strengthen the campaign in South Africa for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against apartheid Israel.

The pledge by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) members in Durban reflects the commitment by South African workers to refuse to support oppression and exploitation across the globe.

Last year, Durban dock workers had refused to offload a shipment of arms that had arrived from China and was destined for Zimbabwe to prop up the Mugabe regime and to intensify the repression against the Zimbabwean people. Now, says SATAWU’s General Secretary Randall Howard, the union’s members are committing themselves to not handling Israeli goods.

SATAWU’s action on Sunday will be part of a proud history of worker resistance against apartheid. In 1963, just four years after the Anti-Apartheid Movement was formed, Danish dock workers refused to offload a ship with South African goods. When the ship docked in Sweden, Swedish workers followed suit. Dock workers in Liverpool and, later, in the San Francisco Bay Area also refused to offload South African goods. South Africans, and the South African working class in particular, will remain forever grateful to those workers who determinedly opposed apartheid and decided that they would support the anti-apartheid struggle with their actions.

Last week, Western Australian members of the Maritime Union of Australia resolved to support the campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, and have called for a boycott of all Israeli vessels and all vessels bearing goods arriving from or going to Israel.

This is the legacy and the tradition that South African dock workers have inherited, and it is a legacy they are determined to honour, by ensuring that South African ports of entry will not be used as transit points for goods bound for or emanating from certain dictatorial and oppressive states such as Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Israel.

COSATU, the Palestine Solidarity Committee, the Young Communist League and a range of other organisations salute the principled position taken by these workers. We also take this opportunity to salute the millions of workers all over the world who have openly condemned and taken decisive steps to isolate apartheid Israel, a step that should send shockwaves to its arrogant patrons in the United States who foot the bill for Israel’s killing machine. We call on other workers and unions to follow suit and to do all that is necessary to ensure that they boycott all goods to and from Israel until Palestine is free.

We also welcome statements by various South African Jews of conscience who have dissociated themselves from the genocide in Gaza. We call on all South Africans to ensure that none of our family members are allowed to join the Israeli Occupation Forces’ killing machine.

In celebration of the actions of SATAWU members with regard to the ship from Israel, and in pursuance of the campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, and our call on the South African government to sever diplomatic and trade relations with Israel, this coalition of organisations has declared a week of action beginning on Friday, February 6, 2009. The actions will be organised under the theme: FREE PALESTINE! ISOLATE APARTHEID ISRAEL! Activities that have already been confirmed for this week will include:

* Friday, February 6: A protest outside the offices of the South African Zionist Federation and the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, 2 Elray Street, Raedene, off Louis Botha Avenue. Both these organisations unquestioningly supported the recent Israeli attacks against Gaza, and supported the massacre of civilians and the attacks on schools, mosques, ambulances and UN refugee centres. Protesters will be addressed by, among others, SATAWU General Secretary Randall Howard, and ex-minister Ronnie Kasrils. Protest starts at 14:00.

* Friday, February 6: A picket outside parliament in Cape Town. COSATU members and solidarity activists will be joined by a number of members of parliament. Picket starts at 09:30.

* Friday, February 6: A mass rally in Actonville, Benoni, at the Buzme Adab Hall. The rally will be addressed by, among others, COSATU General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, PSC spokesperson Salim Vally, South African Council of Churches General Secretary Eddie Makue, and ex-minister Ronnie Kasrils. Rally starts at 19:30.

* Sunday, February 8: A protest at the Durban Harbour mouth, off Victoria Embankment [Margaret Mncadi Avenue]. Protesters will be addressed by, among others, COSATU President Sdumo Dlamini. Protest starts at 10:00.

* Sunday, February 8: A mass rally in Cape Town at Vygieskraal Rugby Stadium. The rally will be addressed by, among others, COSATU General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, and Allan Boesak. Rally starts at 14:30.

fyi: here is an article about the weak (read: no cajones) statement by south african jews. notice they have nothing to say about boycott, divestment, and sanctions.

& in other news: israeli terrorists are sanctioning al jazeera here:

The government will impose sanctions on Israel-based employees of the Al Jazeera network in response to the closure last month of the Israeli trade office in Qatar, which hosts and funds the network. Qatar had closed the office in opposition to Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Following the closure, the Foreign Ministry, in conjunction with the newly-formed national information directorate in the Prime Minister’s Office, considered declaring the station a hostile entity and closing its offices in Israel. After submitting the idea to legal review, however, concerns emerged it would not be permitted by the High Court of Justice.

Instead, it chose to limit the network’s activity in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. First, Israel will not renew the visas of Al Jazeera’s non-Israeli employees or grant visas to new employees. Second, station representatives will have reduced accessibility to government and military bodies, and will not be allowed into briefings or press conferences.

gaza & reslience

before i left al quds my friend took a break from writing her proposal to fund psycho-social programs for the children of gaza. to help to deal with the trauma. she said two more interesting things. the first was that she is writing up plans for gaza not as if she were dealing with trauma in another (so-called) post-war context; instead, she is using models from programs run after a hurricane or an earthquake. why? because children who are dealing with the trauma of a natural disaster cannot be promised that the disaster won’t happen again. likewise, these children–and palestinians in gaza more generally–cannot be promised that the israeli terrorists won’t bomb them again. because the siege is not over. because the borders are not open. because the damage is massive and won’t be back to “normal” anytime soon. but then again, what is “normal” in gaza. and yet palestinians there are endlessly resilient. this was the second thing she reminded me of. indeed, the people there are craving to get back to some sense of normalcy. this is why people came to work the day after the ceasefire at her ngo’s office in gaza. and this is why, amazingly, children in gaza went back to school today:

Students in Gaza went back to school on Saturday as public and UNRWA schools reopened after a one month suspension resulting from Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip.

Thousands of students were seen heading to class throughout the Strip. Some of the schools have been repaired by the de facto Education Ministry and UNRWA, the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees.

Israel’s bombing destroyed 35 public schools out of 384 facilities, which serve 250,000 students. Israel also damaged several UN schools. At the Fakhoura School in Jabaliya, Israeli shelling killed some 50 Palestinians who had taken shelter in the school. During the height of the war, tens of thousands of Gazans took refuge in UNRWA schools across Gaza.

Schools in the northern Gaza Strip were targeted by Israeli forces more than other area. In the north, 24 schools were completely destroyed and only 10 of these schools have been repaired.

Students who used to study at the destroyed schools were distributed to other schools which will operate two or three shifts.

Because of the reduced amount of classroom space, schools will have to merge two or three classes together, raising class sizes to 120 students in some cases, the Education Ministry says.

As students sit down for class, many of them discovered that their classmates have been killed, injured, or disabled.

The Education Ministry and UNRWA asked teachers to dedicate the first week of school to psychological support in order help children recover from the trauma of 23 days of total war. Teachers have been advised to let students talk about what they experienced with teachers and fellow students.

They were also given directives on how to treat families that are still living in schools temporarily after their homes were destroyed.

Families now residing in UN schools complained of bad living conditions, especially after resumption of classes, appealing to the government and humanitarian organizations to provide them with tents or other places to live.

it is amazing that schools are re-opening given that so many palestinian refugees are having to live in them because their houses were destroyed by israeli terrorists as zeina awad reports on al jazeera:

i meant to post this in my last post on trauma, but jess had sent out a call for helping the psychological sector in gaza. here is the call for those who wish to donate:

Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) urges our members and friends to contribute to the Gaza Community Mental Health Project, a new PsySR fundraising campaign to support the Gaza Community Mental Health Program (GCMHP), which has suffered extensive damage to its headquarters at a time of escalating demand for its services.

To Donate Now: http://www.psysr.org/gaza

Psychologists for Social Responsibility joins with other advocates of peace, social justice, and human rights in calling for an immediate, concerted, and unrelenting effort to end the devastating violence and the tragic humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

As an organization focused on psychology’s contributions to positive social change, PsySR is also painfully aware of the profound psychological impact of the aerial and ground assault on the individuals, families, and communities of Gaza. Several important short-term and long-term psychological consequences of living in a war zone – which undoubtedly describes Gaza today – are now well-documented. They include the following:

* Psychological distress in war zones is often as great as the physical suffering that receives more widespread attention. For some, including children, coping with issues of family separation, multiple losses, and bereavement can be even more unbearable than other health-related concerns.

* The adverse psychological effects of first-hand exposure to the horrors of war are often exacerbated by pre-existing conditions. People already under stress before an attack –from severe poverty, chronic exposure to harsh imposed restrictions, and past bloodshed – are likely to have stronger and more overwhelming reactions to violence.

* Prolonged fears of attack, powerful feelings of helplessness, and deep worries about family and community heighten the damaging psychological effects – such as depression and PTSD – of life-threatening events and can contribute to ongoing cycles of violence.

* The magnitude of psychological suffering in war zones is determined not only by exposure to life-threatening events but also by people’s immediate and continuing access to individual and family supports, along with broader efforts that are locally, culturally, and psychologically-informed.

Ultimately, a just and lasting peace and a brighter future for Palestinians and Israelis alike will require that these psychological consequences and considerations also receive serious and sustained attention.

It is within this context that the recently reported massive damage to the headquarters of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program is particularly distressing. With a special emphasis on vulnerable groups such as children, women, and victims of torture and human rights violations, the GCMHP’s staff provides crucial and irreplaceable mental health services to thousands of Gaza residents. These services will be even more broadly and desperately needed in the days and months immediately ahead. Throughout its history, the GCMHP has also been firmly committed to nonviolent resistance and to working for a world where Palestinians and Israelis can live together in peace.

In recognition of these urgent circumstances, PsySR has initiated a fundraising campaign to provide support to the Gaza Community Mental Health Program as it rebuilds and adapts to meet escalating needs. The GCMHP receives funding from a consortium of the Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish governments, but that funding is specifically targeted for programs favored by the consortium. For years, independent groups such as the Gaza Mental Health Foundation in the U.S. and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, have provided independent funding that can be used more flexibly. Our initiative will supplement these efforts in this time of heightened need.

Organizing help for the GCMHP is one way that we, as psychologists and mental health providers, can counter the despair and hopelessness bred in all parties by this renewed outbreak of seemingly irresolvable violence. In so doing, we make a statement in support of human rights, mutual recognition and security, and pathway to the reconciliation that must underlie a sustainable peace in this region.

We strongly encourage other organizations and individuals to join us in this effort. Today through March 1st, tax-deductible contributions can be made online through our website at http://www.psysr.org/gaza or by check made out to “Grassroots International” (please write “GCMHP” in the memo line) and mailed to PsySR’s national headquarters: PsySR, 208 “I” Street NE, Washington, DC 20002.

All donations will be processed through Grassroots International, which has received a four-star rating from independent charity evaluator Charity Navigator, and its online partner Democracy in Action. For more information, please email our Project Coordinators at gazamentalhealth [at] psysr.org or contact PsySR’s executive director Colleen Cordes by phone at 202-543-5347.

PsySR gratefully acknowledges Psychoanalysts for Social Responsibility and our other coalition partners in this fundraising campaign.

To Donate Now: http://www.psysr.org/gaza

the work of organizations like the gaza community mental health program is needed now more than ever. here is just one more story of a family that will have to deal with severe trauma for who knows how long:

One nine-year-old boy said his father had been shot dead in front of him despite surrendering to Israeli soldiers with his hands in the air.

Another youngster described witnessing the deaths of his mother, three brothers and uncle after the house they were in was shelled.

He said his mother and one of his siblings had been killed instantly, while the others bled to death over a period of days.

A psychiatrist treating children in the village of Zeitoun on the outskirts of Gaza City, where the alleged incidents took place, described the deaths as a “massacre”.

Rawya Borno, a Jordanian doctor, said civilians, including children, were rounded up and killed by Israeli troops.

meanwhile the bbc is refusing to air public service announcements on television to raise money to help people in gaza ( i love that in the television broadcast of this story on al jazeera that they gave the websites and information so their viewers could donate! ).

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has defended its decision not to participate in a television fund-raising appeal for Gaza, saying it did want to avoid compromising public confidence in its impartiality.

Normally all broadcasters show Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeals without charge, but in a statement on Friday, the BBC said: “Along with other broadcasters, the BBC has decided not to broadcast the DEC’s public appeal to raise funds for Gaza.

“The BBC’s decision was made because of question marks about the delivery of aid in a volatile situation, and also to avoid any risk of compromising public confidence in the BBC’s impartiality in the context of an ongoing news story.”

you may complain to the bbc by clicking on this link.

but of course charity is not enough and will never be enough to change the root cause of the problem, to create an environment where trauma can be treated. where children–and adults–can be told that this will never happen again. this is why it is so inspiring to open up my email every day and to see new boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns and organizing for war crimes tribunals growing, gaining steam, from so many sectors of society across the globe. here is a new statement on war crimes tribunals from a group of lawyers and human rights activists:

International Federation for Human Rights
Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network
International Commission of Jurists

Gaza/Operation cast lead

Final statement of a mission of prominent lawyers and activists

Paris, Geneva, Copenhagen, January 21st 2009

We are appalled at the horror of the war launched in the Gaza strip, the major loss of civilian lives and the wide scale destruction of civilian property and infrastructure in the context of the operation « Cast Lead, » as well as by the failure of the international community to prevent this tragedy.

Based upon the information our delegation received from Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations, who have been monitoring the armed conflict, we have strong reasons to believe that Israel has grossly violated international humanitarian law, including the IVth Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Populations in Times of Conflict and customary international law governing the conduct of hostilities. Some of these violations constitute crimes under international law. In particular, the Israeli army has engaged in indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks and has failed in its legal obligation to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure from such attacks.

The operations have also gravely impaired the civil, cultural, economic, political, and social rights of the people of Gaza.

No violation of International Humanitarian Law – as perpetrated by Palestinian combatants – can ever legitimise similar or aggravated violations committed by Israel.

Therefore, the members of the mission call for the urgent establishment of an independent commission of investigation into all the alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, which would bring to light the individual responsibilities involved and pave the way for mechanisms of accountability and redress. All parties to the IVth Geneva Convention have a legal obligation to deploy such investigation

The members of the mission also condemn the inability of the United States and of the European Union, partners of the Israeli government, to take strong measures aimed at preventing or stopping the war.

We urge the European Union and the United States to give their immediate and full support to the independent investigation that should be organised immediately.

We urge the international community to exert pressure on Israel to lift the siege of Gaza and end its occupation of all Palestinian Territory.

We call upon the Israeli and Egyptian authorities to ensure prompt access of human rights observers into the Gaza strip.

Background

In the context of the operation « Cast Lead », the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) deployed a joint mission in Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Egypt, from January 17th to 21th, 2009.
The mission was composed of prominent and renowned human rights defenders and activists from European countries and the United States of America.

The objective of the mission was to call the parties to the conflict authorities to:

* an immediate cease fire, in application of UN Security Council resolution 1860,

* enable access of NGOs and Journalists to the Occupied Territories,

* lift immediately, unconditionally and permanently the siege on the Gaza strip

* deploy an international fact-finding mission under UN auspices, documenting the grave violations perpetrated in the context of the conflict,

* prosecute the authors of the international crimes.

The mission also aimed at addressing support and solidarity with the civil society organizations, in particular human rights organisations, operating in Israel and the Occupied Territories at this time.

rami has a piece on boycott in al akhbar this week:

تمثّل المقاطعة عنصراً أساسياً في نضال تحرر الشعوب والأمم من الطغيان والعدوان، وقد لعبت دوراً هاماً في هزيمة نظام الفصل العنصري في جنوب أفريقيا. وللمقاطعة أوجه عدة، تتناول المحاور التجارية، والثقافية والأكاديمية. كما أنها تفسح المجال أمام المواطنين العاديين للمشاركة في العمل السياسي المدني من خلال ممارسة حقهم في الاختيار: من ناحية السلع والمنتجات بحسب مصادرها، والتعامل مع الجامعات ومراكز البحوث ومن يمثلونها بحسب انتماءاتها.

تحاول الدول المستهدفة بالمقاطعة، وعلى رأسها «إسرائيل وشركاؤها»، ترويج فكرة خاطئة عن عدم جدوى المقاطعة. لكن الوقائع تشير إلى غير ذلك، ما دفع الولايات المتحدة الأميركية إلى إنشاء مكتب خاص لمنع مقاطعة إسرائيل.

لا يزال لبنان يعتبر إسرائيل دولة عدوة ويلتزم مقاطعتها.

ويمنع القانون اللبناني الصادر في 23 حزيران 1955 إقامة أي علاقة معها، بما فيها أي اتفاقية مباشرة أو غير مباشرة مع أفراد ومؤسسات إسرائيلية أو غير إسرائيلية لكن تعمل لحساب إسرائيل، أو حتى لديها مصانع أو فروع أو ممثلون فيها. كما يحظر الإتجار بأي منتج إسرائيلي أو حتى بالسلع المصنعة خارج إسرائيل لحساب شركات إسرائيلية. يسهّل هذا القانون على اللبنانييين عملية الالتزام بالمقاطعة، ويلزمهم بها. فكل اللبنانيين مقاطعون بالمبدأ، وعلى رأسهم دولتهم وحكومتهم.
إلا أن من يراقب الأسواق في لبنان، قد يفاجأ بدرجة الاستهتار بهذا القانون، وإهمال الحكومة واجبها القانوني في توعية المواطن عبر تجهيز لوائح المؤسسات والشركات المحظور التعامل معها ونشرها. المطلوب اليوم من الذين يتذرّعون بدولة القانون لتبرير نزع سلاح المقاومة، أن يلتزموا بها، عبر المطالبة بتطبيق قانون حزيران 1955.

and rami posted this statement presented in rome last week:

Stop the Genocide and Ecocide in Palestine

We , representatives of civil society and non-governmental organizations, fisher and farmer movements, indigenous peoples and activists gathered here in Rome on the occasion of the Annual Meeting of the International NGO/CSO Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC) express our deepest condemnation of the atrocities and genocidal actions committed by the Israeli Government against Palestinian civilians, their environment and sources of livelihood under the so called “war against terror”. The excessive use of power is by no means a justification for any action or reaction. Every day, tens of people of all age groups are being slaughtered, mutilated and butchered while hundreds are wounded, most of whom can never resume their lives as they did before.

We observe with great concern the systematic destruction of farms, crops, water systems, wells, stables etc… which are the main source of livelihood for the majority of Palestinians in living in Gaza.

In view of this, we demand the following:

* An Immediate ceasefire,

* Lifting of all forms of siege and the restrictions of movement of people and supplies to the civilian population in Gaza and the West Bank,

* Insist on Palestinian Food Rights and Food Sovereignty

* Boycott and obtain sanctions against Israel

* Initiate a campaign asking the UN to claim compensation for damages caused by the State of Israel – as obtained by Kuwait after the 1990 Iraq war

* Establish immediately an International Mechanism to assess and report technically the aggressions against human and natural environment in Gaza

* Initiate an international process for the prosecution of the political and military leader in Israel responsible for the mass murder of innocent civilian population of Gaza.

* Launch a worldwide solidarity campaign with the devastated Palestinian people.

the statement comes from the arab group for the protection of nature in jordan. you can follow up on their work through their website.

the oxford city council also passed a resolution this week (where are the u.s. cities passing such resolutions?):

The following Motion was adopted at the meeting of Full Council on 19 January 2009:

Gaza/Israel Conflict

1) This Council is extremely concerned and saddened, as are many Oxford residents, at the tragic loss of life in Gaza and Israel because of military action. We deplore the violence on both sides but believe that that the Israeli military response had been and continues to be disproportionate.

2) We condemn the loss of civilian life and the destruction of homes, mosques, schools and infrastructure, including United Nations facilities, by Israel in Gaza. These attacks will not bring peace and act as a recruiting ground for extremist groups.

3) This Council welcomes the UK Government’s call for a ceasefire and asks the Leader to write to the Prime Minister urging him to act urgently to ensure:

* An immediate end to Israel’s military assault on Gaza
* An immediate end to the blockade and siege of Gaza
* Action to end Israel’s violations of international law
* Support to address the unfolding humanitarian disaster in Gaza.
* Israel should compensate the victims for the loss of the life and property resulting from this unprincipled aggression

4) This Council wishes to see:

* An immediate ceasefire
* The withdrawal of the Israeli military from Gaza
* Greater international pressure through the UN on Israel and the Palestinians to reach a political agreement
* An end to the isolation, impoverishment and virtual imprisonment of the people of Gaza

5) To this end we recognize the importance of:

* Boycotting Israeli products and companies
* Increased support for the friendship links between Oxford and both Neve Shalom/Wahat el Salam (Oasis of Peace) and Ramallah
* An immediate arms boycott of Israel by Britain and other countries

6) We welcome:

* The practical support by Oxfam, Medical Aid to Palestine and others to assist the people of Gaza
* The efforts of both Oxford MPs to persuade the Government to do everything possible to press for an immediate ceasefire, to challenge the blockade and help to bring peace to the people of Palestine and Israel.

ali sent me this letter written to the irish times and signed by over 100 irish academics:

There has been widespread international condemnation of Israel’s bombardment and subsequent invasion of Gaza, which has been defined by international lawyers as a violation of the 4th Geneva Convention. No civilians, Israelis or Palestinian, should be subjected to attack, whether from rockets from Gaza or bombs and bullets from Israel. However, while every government has both the right and responsibility to defend its civilian population, we believe that Israel’s violent actions are disproportionate and constitute collective punishment of a civilian population.

We also note that Israeli spokespersons themselves have admitted that prior to Israels killing of six Hamas members in the Nov 4th attack on Gaza, Hamas appears to have abided by its ceasefire agreement with Israel, firing no rockets and trying to prevent other groups from doing so. This begs the question: what is the real reason behind the onslaught?

In addition, we note that during its recent offensive Israel expressly targeted educational institutions, including the Islamic University, the Ministry of Education, the American International School, and three UN schools which were destroyed with massive loss of civilian life. During the illegal sealing off of the Gaza Strip that preceded the current aggression, Israel had prevented numerous Palestinian students from leaving Gaza to avail of Fulbright scholarships to the USA.

We believe that it is time to renew the call made by Irish-based academics in September 2006 for a moratorium on the funding of Israeli academic institutions by national and European cultural and research institutions, and an end to the EU’s practice of treating Israel as a European state for the purposes of awarding grants and contracts. Such a moratorium should continue until Israel ends its repressive policies against Gaza, and abides by UN resolutions (which include the ending of the occupation of all Palestinian territories).

We believe that opposition to such a move based on the principle of academic freedom has lost the last semblance of validity in view of the above-mentioned violations of the right to education enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (art. 26), the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (art. 28 ) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (art. 14). – Yours, etc,

and i received this email yesterday about a protest in minnesota targeting trade relations with the terrorist state of israel:

At 10am this morning, January 23rd, 2009, approximately 20 local residents entered and sought to occupy the Minnesota Trade Office in downtown Saint Paul demanding an immediate end to all trade between Minnesotan companies and the State of Israel. They have issued the following statement signed by some of the participants and their supporters:

“We are here at the Minnesota Trade Office today, as we should be every day, demanding an end to all business between Minnesota and the State of Israel. While the recent devastation of the Gaza strip weighs heavy on
our conscience, the violent occupation of Palestine and the systematic killing of Palestinians is unfortunately nothing new. Although Palestinians, and all people, deserve sovereignty, justice, and peace, we are here today as residents of Minnesota, many of us Jewish, because state-sanctioned genocide in the occupied territories continues without
relent.

Over the past three weeks the Israeli army has freely dropped white phosphorous and 300 meter shells over the schools, hospitals, and refugee camps which house the majority of the almost 2 million residents in Gaza. Over the past three weeks more than 400 children have been killed under the pretense of self-defense. And over the past three weeks politicians from both the left and the right have remained passive spectators to the indiscriminate killing of the indigenous people of Palestine. In this absence of a democratic process to implement a politics of ethical accountability we are left with no choice but to take direct action to shut down the business that finances the genocide in Palestine and the military arms that carry it out.

The Minnesota Trade Office is the bureaucratic middleman in the economic relationship between Minnesota and Israel, facilitating the economic collaboration of the nations and their corporations that exceeds $125 million in domestic exports annually, of which $4 million alone comes from military contracts with local arms merchants such as Napco International in Hopkins, and Alliant Techsystems in Edina. Funding over 70% of its total military spending alone, the United States’ continual sponsorship of the State of Israel places its tax-paying residents in a position of direct complicity in the continuation of atrocity, and its corporations in a position of direct profit from mass suffering.

We come here today to demand the immediate end of all Minnesotan business with Israel because it is the business of massacre, it is the business of killing children, of killing doctors, the business of chemical warfare, of starvation. We believe that demanding an end to all economic collaboration with nations violently enforcing policies of racism and dispossession is legitimate and necessary. This demand is part of the urgent project of ending all economic relations between the United States and Israel, relations that directly enable the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian land, people, and culture. We refuse to be obedient in the face of mass murder, and we refuse to allow Minnesotan business to remain unaccountable for the actions of the nations from whom they draw their profits. When a population is being routinely killed on the basis of their race, ethnicity, and nationality, we have not only the right, but the obligation to stand in its way.”

There is an emergency support rally occurring now outside the Minnesota Trade Office on the corner of Minnesota and Fifth Street in downtown Saint Paul. Media inquiries should be directed to liaisons Flo (612.850.4942) and Raphi (847.207.6356).

and in england there was an op ed on boycotting israeli terrorist produce yesterday:

If you’re not in the habit of checking the country of origin on fruit and vegetables to minimise food miles, you may not have noticed just how much Israeli produce is in our shops and supermarkets. At the moment, there are piles of new potatoes (though it’s hard to see why anyone with a scrap of environmental awareness would buy these when our indigenous main crop spuds are still firm and abundant), and that’s just for starters.

If you go out today and buy avocadoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, Medjoul dates, sharon fruit (persimmons), chillies, oranges, pomegranates, grapefruit or fresh herbs, it’s extremely likely that they will be Israeli. Most of this produce carries country of origin labelling or is branded as Carmel, Bio-Top or Jaffa. In the herb category, there’s room – intentional or otherwise – for confusion. Increasingly your dill, tarragon or basil may be labelled as ‘West Bank’. This is not a Palestinian alternative to the Israeli option; it comes from Israeli settlements in Palestine’s occupied territories.

a note to people who want real liberation, however, for palestinians: you must boycott ALL israeli products, not just those that come from the west bank. a much stronger statement–like all statements it seems on this subject–came from a trade union in lambeth:

The Lambeth Branch of UNISON, the second largest trade union in the UK, has voted to condemn the recent slaughter of Palestinians and the ongoing occupation by Israel at a meeting of its Branch Committee this morning.

At its monthly meeting of representatives, the Branch called for, “an immediate end to the slaughter of defenceless people and the [ongoing] siege of Gaza.” The Branch concluded that, “Israel is an…apartheid state,” and has advocated academic, economic and cultural boycotts of Israel in an effort to delegitimise the Occupation of Palestine, and build international and domestic pressure against the state.

For over 6 decades Israel has carried out policies of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people.1.5 million people live in Gaza, which is now effectively open air prison. For years Israel has blocked the transport of food, medicine and vital supplies forcing the people of Gaza to live in inhumane conditions and the vast majority of people are unemployed.

Palestinian medical sources say at least 1,300 Palestinians have been killed and 5,500 injured as a result Israeli’s latest military offensive. The United Nations states that some 50,800 people are now homeless and 400,000 are without running water. Staff in Gaza report that many more people could die as medical equipment runs out.

Nationally, UNISON has committed to send a donation of 10,000 to Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) and Lambeth Branch is raising its own donations locally. The Branch voted to affiliate with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and to work towards submitting an emergency motion to the UNISON National Delegate Conference in July, demanding diplomatic sanctions and boycotts against Israel. The Branch also resolved to build links with Palestinians, Israelis and Egyptians who oppose the assault on Gaza and to send messages of solidarity to those students at British universities who have undertaken occupations demanding support from their institutions for the Palestinian right to education.

Lambeth UNISON’s International Officer, Gurmeet Khurana, stated: “The British trade union movement played a crucial part in denouncing and delegitimising the racist ideology of Apartheid in South Africa, and now it must do the same for Israel. The only peaceful solution is one brought about by political and economic equality in the Middle East, and as such the policy of the Israeli state in carrying out ethnic cleansing needs to be condemned unequivocally.”

on a final note, my friend adam produced this video called “gaza calling” with checkpoint 303 and dj lethal skillz:

on never forgetting, never forgiving

gaza solidarity @ bourj al barajneh refugee camp
gaza solidarity @ bourj al barajneh refugee camp

lebanon feeds my soul. maybe not lebanon as a whole, but my friends and comrades in lebanon for sure. i didn’t want to go back because i didn’t want to see elements of east beirut–places where people were out drinking and partying. and i avoided that scene entirely. but spending time with friends in their homes, following and analyzing events, and strategizing what we can do now was essential. it gave me oxygen. rania gave me inspiration. rami and i talked again yesterday before i left about what we need to do. how we need to use this moment to plan for the future, for the liberation of palestine and lebanon, and frankly the rest of the region. this is important so we do not move on with our lives and forget what has happened in gaza. we need to:

1. understand the context and our limitations given where we might be in terms of how we can support the resistance
2. we need to never forget that this is one episode, one massacre of many over the course of 61 years
3. we need to keep from despairing or feeling powerless
4. we need to crystallize how we can organize, continue organizing

what israeli terrorists want is for us to despair, for us to feel powerless, for us to be defeated. so on an emotional and political level we must be steadfast. this is an important part of resistance. we will not let them break the resistance, break us. we need to be organizing every day, every moment, and find people to bring into the fold to continue that resistance and organizing work. this is how we can honor the martyrs and the work of the resistance.

hamra, beirut gaza protest
hamra, beirut gaza protest

while this energy of resistance and organizing is strong in beirut, in lebanon, there are of course elements that want to continue their consumption unabated. who want to just shop at one of vera modo many shops on hamra street and go to jemezieh and get drunk at night. one way to resist this is to force such people to confront the reality of gaza. yesterday before leaving for the airport i met a couple of friends at masrah al madina on hamra street to say goodbye. they had organized a brilliant piece of street theatre in which black coffins were placed on the main sidewalk of hamra street forcing shoppers and other people oblivious to the suffering in gaza to walk through a maze of these coffins which had attached to them naji al ali’s hanzala artwork and images from palestinians in gaza bombed by israeli terrorists. they had a van parked on the street in front which blared ahmed qabbour’s music into the street. and they had a glossy little pamphlet that they handed out to passersby and even to those driving through the bumper-to-bumper traffic on the street. the photos here (after the first one from bourj al barajneh refugee camp) are taken from this gaza memorial.

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there are those who are doing this sort of work who will not forgive, who will not forget, who will not normalize with israelis. (i wish that number were higher, however). angry arab reminds us why this is necessary:

 

Peace with a terrorist state like Israel is basically a legitimation of terrorism, massacres, and occupations. Just as our opposition to apartheid and Nazism was categorical, our rejection of Israel should be absolute and categorical. Peace with a state like Israel is a recipe for war. Real peace is in a rejection of this terrorist state.

though it seems that collecting signatures for our petition to lebanese professors seems to be slow going. it disturbs me to no end that people find their own careers or israeli academic freedom as more important than palestinians lives or the liberation of palestine. i really fundamentally cannot comprehend such a point of view. and frankly this is one of the many reasons i don’t believe in marriage. as people get married, have children their concerns tend to turn away from resistance and justice as they tend to become more myopic in their focus. they tend to think only about their immediate needs, the future of their children, but often not the future of other people’s children. remaining unmarried, remaining without children gives one the freedom to resist in certain ways that i just cannot imagine giving up. ever. certainly i have quite a few friends, especially in lebanon, who are not like this. but unfortunately, it seems to me that marriage leads to children leads to heightened consumption, leads to a watering down of one’s politics and what one is willing to sacrifice for things like liberation, justice, freedom.

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from that sort of space where people are thinking about supporting resistance, of not continuing on with life as normal amidst the massacres in gaza, i returned to amman. it is striking how different life is here. in lebanon my friends read radical, smart newspapers like al akhbar whereas in jordan there is no such media as the media is censored by the government. in lebanon my friends watch al jadeed, al manar, al jazeera for their news. here they watch american-saudi propaganda stations like cnn or bbc or al arabiya. in lebanon friends who are leftists are organizing around ways to support hamas and hezbollah as these are the strongest resistance movements we have now and we need to support what is effective. here people are afraid of what hamas and hezbollah would mean for jordan. in lebanon there are laws making it illegal to normalize with israeli terrorists; in jordan there are laws promoting the normalization with israeli terrorists. but in both places the leaders continue to spew rhetoric without any action. on this front they are like the rest of the world. even those who condemn israeli terrorism refuse to do something about it. but another difference between jordan and lebanon: in lebanon people critique publicly the normalizing with the west or the empty rhetoric of their leadership; in jordan people continue to fear, or sometimes continue to believe, that the leadership in jordan is anything other than empty and vapid.

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empty and vapid just like this so-called ceasefire which apparently began about 11 hours ago (2 am local time), at least on paper or in rhetoric, but in reality there is no ceasefire. and once again i’d refer you to as’ad’s words quoted above. why am i so opposed to any form of normalization with israeli terrorists–every last single one of them–because they know how to do nothing other than murder, steal, lie, and destroy. there has never been a “treaty” or a law that they have not broken. (think, too, here of their american terrorist partners who have also broken every single “treaty” they signed with every single american indian tribe.) they called a unilateral ceasefire. here is a glimpse of what “ceasefire” means to israeli terrorists:

Despite the Israeli “ceasefire” Gazans did not sleep well Saturday night.

Israeli reconnaissance planes buzzed overhead, and explosions were heard in several parts of the Strip. Israeli shells fell on a group of Rafah residents in the south, and phosphorus bombs landed in the At-Tuffah neighborhood of eastern Gaza City.

Gazans also reported that an Israeli helicopter shot at a group in line near a Bank of Palestine ATM in Jabaliya.

Eyewitnesses say hundreds of families were seen moving in the streets, heading back to their homes in northern Gaza. One family, caught on film with Al-Jazeera, returned north to the Jabaliya district to find their family home demolished. They dug through the rubble and pulled out more than 25 bodies. One man collapsed when he discovered his brother beneath the debris.

even on al jazeera reporters are trying to wrap their head around what that means. in a nutshell it basically means that israeli terrorists will stop their bombing (they have not) and it means that they will keep israeli terrorist troops in gaza and it means they will continue to control the border crossings and let a trickle of aid supplies into gaza. for israeli terrorists this means political gains in the coming election. for palestinians in gaza this means: nothing has changed. conditions will not change. and worse: because now it is not only like it has been for the last 18 months with an economic siege keeping goods from flowing in and out. now on top of this how will people deal with the damage and destruction caused by israeli terrorism? how are they to rebuild–especially given that things like concrete are not allowed in by israeli terrorists? how are they supposed to be able to send children to school? according to christopher gunness on al jazeera: 4,000 homes were destroyed. 16,000 homes were damaged. 16 health facilities were attacked. 60 schools, including 4 unrwa schools were destroyed (one was attacked just as israeli terrorist were to vote on the “ceasefire”). and 1,216 palestinians were massacred and 5,200 were injured. 382 of those murdered were children. al jazeera has a partial list of their names which i will post here:

Ibtihal Kechko Girl 10
Ahmed Riad Mohammed Al-Sinwar Boy 3
Ahmed Al-Homs Boy 18
Ahmed Rasmi Abu Jazar Boy 16
Ahmed Sameeh Al-Halabi Boy 18
Tamer Hassan Al-Akhrass Boy 5
Hassan Ali Al-Akhrass Boy 3
Haneen Wael Mohammed Daban Girl 15
Khaled Sami Al-Astal Boy 15
alaat Mokhless Bassal Boy 18
Aaed Imad Kheera Boy 14
Abdullah Al-Rayess Boy 17
Odai Hakeem Al-Mansi Boy 4
Allam Nehrou Idriss Boy 18
Ali Marwan Abu Rabih Boy 18
Anan Saber Atiyah Boy 13
Camelia Al-Bardini Girl 10
Lama Talal Hamdan Girl 10
Mohammed Jaber Howeij Boy 17
Nimr Mustafa Amoom Boy 10
29/12/2008 Ismail Talal Hamdan Boy 10
Ahmed Ziad Al-Absi Boy 14
Ahmed Youssef Khello Boy 18
Ikram Anwar Baaloosha Girl 14
Tahrier Anwar Baaloosha Girl 17
Jihad Saleh Ghobn Boy 10
Jawaher Anwar Baaloosha Girl 8
Dina Anwar Baaloosha Girl 7
Samar Anwar Baaloosha Girl 6
Shady Youssef Ghobn Boy 12
Sudqi Ziad Al-Absi Boy 3
Imad Nabeel Abou Khater Boy 16
Lina Anwar Baaloosha Girl 7
Mohammed Basseel Madi Boy 17
Mohammed Jalal Abou Tair Boy 18
Mohammed Ziad Al-Absi Boy 14
Mahmoud Nabeel Ghabayen Boy 15
Moaz Yasser Abou Tair Boy 6
Wissam Akram Eid Girl 14
30/12/2008 Haya Talal Hamdan Girl 8
31/12/2008 Ahmed Kanouh Boy 10
Ameen Al-Zarbatlee Boy 10
Mohammed Nafez Mohaissen Boy 10
Mustafa Abou Ghanimah Boy 16
Yehya Awnee Mohaissen Boy 10
Ossman Bin Zaid Nizar Rayyan Boy 3
Assaad Nizar Rayyan Boy 2
Moaz-Uldeen Allah Al-Nasla Boy 5
Aya Nizar Rayyan Girl 12
Halima Nizar Rayyan Girl 5
Reem Nizar Rayyan Boy 4
Aicha Nizar Rayyan Girl 3
Abdul Rahman Nizar Rayyan Boy 6
Abdul Qader Nizar Rayyan Boy 12
Oyoon Jihad Al-Nasla Girl 16
Mahmoud Mustafa Ashour Boy 13
Maryam Nizar Rayyan Girl 5
01/01/2009 Hamada Ibrahim Mousabbah Boy 10
Zeinab Nizar Rayyan Girl 12
Sujud Mahmoud Al-Derdesawi Girl 10
Abdul Sattar Waleed Al-Astal Boy 12
Abed Rabbo Iyyad Abed Rabbo Al-Astal Boy 10
Ghassan Nizar Rayyan Boy 15
Christine Wadih El-Turk Boy 6
Mohammed Mousabbah Boy 14
Mohammed Iyad Abed Rabbo Al-Astal Boy 13
Mahmoud Samsoom Boy 16
Ahmed Tobail Boy 16
Ahmed Sameeh Al-Kafarneh Boy 17
Hassan Hejjo Boy 14
Rajeh Ziadeh Boy 18
Shareef Abdul Mota Armeelat Boy 15
Mohammed Moussa Al-Silawi Boy 10
Mahmoud Majed Mahmoud Abou Nahel Boy 16
Mohannad Al-Tatnaneeh Boy 18
Hani Mohammed Al-Silawi Boy 10
01/01/2009 Ahmed Al-Meshharawi Boy 16
Ahmed Khodair Sobaih Boy 17
Ahmed Sameeh Al-Kafarneh Boy 18
Asraa Kossai Al-Habash Girl 10
Assad Khaled Al-Meshharawi Boy 17
Asmaa Ibrahim Afana Girl 12
Ismail Abdullah Abou Sneima Boy 4
Akram Ziad Al-Nemr Boy 18
Aya Ziad Al-Nemr Girl 8
Ahmed Mohammed Al-Adham Boy 1
Akram Ziad Al-Nemr Boy 13
Hamza Zuhair Tantish Boy 12
Khalil Mohammed Mokdad Boy 18
Ruba Mohammed Fadl Abou-Rass Girl 13
Ziad Mohammed Salma Abou Sneima Boy 9
Shaza Al-Abed Al-Habash Girl 16
Abed Ziad Al-Nemr Boy 12
Attia Rushdi Al-Khawli Boy 16
Luay Yahya Abou Haleema Boy 17
Mohammed Akram Abou Harbeed Boy 18
Mohammed Abed Berbekh Boy 18
Mohammed Faraj Hassouna Boy 16
Mahmoud Khalil Al-Mashharawi Boy 12
Mahmoud Zahir Tantish Boy 17
Mahmoud Sami Assliya Boy 3
Moussa Youssef Berbekh Boy 16
Wi’am Jamal Al-Kafarneh Girl 2
Wadih Ayman Omar Boy 4
Youssef Abed Berbekh Boy 10
05/01/2009 Ibrahim Rouhee Akl Boy 17
Ibrahim Abdullah Merjan Boy 13
Ahmed Attiyah Al-Semouni Boy 4
Aya Youssef Al-Defdah Girl 13
Aya Al-Sersawi Girl 5
Ahmed Amer Abou Eisha Boy 5
Ameen Attiyah Al-Semouni Boy 4
Hazem Alewa Boy 8
Khalil Mohammed Helless Boy 12
Diana Mosbah Saad Girl 17
Raya Al-Sersawi Girl 5
Rahma Mohammed Al-Semouni Girl 18
Ramadan Ali Felfel Boy 14
Rahaf Ahmed Saeed Al-Azaar Girl 4
Shahad Mohammed Hijjih Girl 3
Arafat Mohammed Abdul Dayem Boy 10
Omar Mahmoud Al-Baradei Boy 12
Ghaydaa Amer Abou Eisha Girl 6
Fathiyya Ayman Al-Dabari Girl 4
Faraj Ammar Al-Helou Boy 2
Moumen Alewah Boy 9
Moumen Mahmoud Talal Alaw Boy 10
Mohammed Amer Abu Eisha Boy 8
Mahmoud Mohammed Abu Kamar Boy 15
Marwan Hein Kodeih Girl 6
Montasser Alewah Boy 12
Naji Nidal Al-Hamlawi Boy 16
Nada Redwan Mardi Girl 5
Hanadi Bassem Khaleefa Girl 13
06/01/2009 Ibrahim Ahmed Maarouf Boy 14
Ahmed Shaher Khodeir Boy 14
Ismail Adnan Hweilah Boy 15
Aseel Moeen Deeb Boy 17
Adam Mamoun Al-Kurdee Boy 3
Alaa Iyad Al-Daya Girl 8
Areej Mohammed Al-Daya Girl 3 months
Amani Mohammed Al-Daya Girl 4
Baraa Ramez Al-Daya Girl 2
Bilal Hamza Obaid Boy 15
Thaer Shaker Karmout Boy 17
Hozaifa Jihad Al-Kahloot Boy 17
Khitam Iyad Al-Daya Girl 9
Rafik Abdul Basset Al-Khodari Boy 15
Raneen Abdullah saleh Girl 12
Zakariya Yahya Al-Taweel Boy 5
Sahar Hatem Dawood Girl 10
Salsabeel Ramez Al-Daya Girl 6 months
Sharafuldeen Iyad Al-Daya Boy 7
Doha Mohammed Al-Daya Girl 5
Ahed Iyad Kodas Boy 15
Abdullah Mohammed Abdullah Boy 10
Issam Sameer Deeb Boy 12
Alaa Ismail Ismail Boy 18
Ali Iyad Al-Daya Boy 10
Imad Abu Askar Boy 18
Filasteen Al-Daya Girl 5
Kamar Mohammed Al-Daya Boy 3
Lina Abdul Menem Hassan Girl 10
Unidentified Boy 9
Unidentified Boy 15
Mohammed Iyad Al-Daya Boy 6
Mohammed Bassem Shakoura Boy 10
Mohammed Bassem Eid Boy 18
Mohammed Deeb Boy 17
Mohammed Eid Boy 18
Mustafa Moeen Deeb Boy 12
Noor Moeen Deeb Boy 2
Youssef Saad Al-Kahloot Boy 17
Youssef Mohammed Al-Daya Boy 1
07/01/2009 Ibrahim Kamal Awaja Boy 9
Ahmed Jaber Howeij Boy 7
Ahmed Fawzi Labad Boy 18
Ayman Al-Bayed Boy 16
Amal Khaled Abed Rabbo Girl 3
Toufic Khaled Al-Khahloot Boy 10
Habeeb Khaled Al-Khahloot Boy 12
Houssam Raed Sobeh Boy 12
Hassan Rateb Semaan Boy 18
Hassan Ata Hassan Azzam Boy 2
Redwan Mohammed Ashoor Boy 10
Suad Khaled Abed Rabbo Girl 6
Samar Khaled Abed Rabbo Girl 2
Abdul Rahman Mohammmed Ashoor Boy 12
Fareed Ata Hassan Azzam Boy 13
Mohammed Khaled Al-Kahloot Boy 15
Mohammed Samir Hijji Boy 16
Mohammed Fareed Al-Maasawabi Boy 16
Mohammed Moeen Deeb Boy 17
Mohammed Nasseem Salama Saba Boy 16
Mahmoud Hameed Boy 17
Hamam Issa Boy 1
08/01/2009 Anas Arif Abou Baraka Boy 7
Ibrahim Akram Abou Dakkka Boy 12
Ibrahim Moeen Jiha Boy 15
Baraa Iyad Shalha Girl 6
Basma Yasser Al-Jeblawi Girl 5
Shahd Saad Abou Haleema Girl 15
Azmi Diab Boy 16
Mohammed Akram Abou Dakka Boy 14
Mohammed Hikmat Abou Haleema Boy 17
Ibrahim Moeen Jiha Boy 15
Matar Saad Abou Haleema Boy 17
09/01/2009 Ahmed Ibrahim Abou Kleik Boy 17
Ismail Ayman Yasseen Boy 18
Alaa Ahmed Jaber Girl 11
Baha-Uldeen Fayez Salha Girl 5
Rana Fayez Salha Girl 12
Rola Fayez Salha Girl 13
Diyaa-Uldeen Fayez Salah Boy 14
Ghanima Sultan Halawa Girl 11
Fatima Raed Jadullah Girl 10
Mohammed Atef Abou Al-Hussna Boy 15

these child martyrs do not comprise a complete list. nor will this list remain cease to grow given the ways in which their visible and less visible attacks will continue. to track some of thse mass murders, there is a great blog that has a map of where the death and destruction by israeli terrorists have taken place (i posted it below) but you can check it out on their website directly, too.

the so-called “ceasefire” makes it clear that it is not a “ceasefire” at all. just rhetoric. and more lies embedded in israeli terrorist rhetoric:

Barak said that “Israel achieved its objectives of this war” and that the army will cease fire but will remain deployed in Gaza, Israeli Ynet News reported.

On Saturday, and despite the continuous offensive, resistance factions clashed with the invading forces and fired homemade shells.

On its side, Hamas movement said that Israel’s unilateral ceasefire does not mean that the army ended its hostilities or the siege had ended.

Fawzi Barhoum of Hamas, said that the ongoing Israeli siege on Gaza is also one of the components of the Israeli war.

Barhoum added that resistance would continue, and that the presence of the Israeli forces in Gaza opens the door for resistance against the occupation.

Yet, the Ynet News said that Israeli military officials speculate the Hamas will cease fire in three days and that the Israeli army will continue its readiness for a possible military escalation in Gaza.

it’s not just the hypocrisy of the israeli terrorists. it’s members of the united nations like ban ki-moon who are complicit in the suffering and who are blind to their own hypocrisy of speaking out with empty words all the while enabling israeli terrorism:

On Thursday, Jan.15th, as Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General, was meeting Israeli officials in Jerusalem, Israeli soldiers shelled a UN compound in Gaza city. The building belongs to the United Nation’s Relief and Work Agency of the Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). UN officials in Gaza believe the building was shelled with a phosphorus bomb as it caused a huge fire in the building which burned almost all the food and medical supplies.

On Tuesday two weeks ago, a UN run school was attacked. At least 43 civilians were killed and 100 others wounded, when the Israeli troops launched an attack on the school in the northern Gaza town of Jabalia. Last Thursday, the military attacked an aid convoy for UNRWA, killing a driver and injuring another.

this is why children in lebanon held a vigil in opposition to ban’s visit to beirut.

regardless of whether or not this is a true “ceasefire,” all evidence to the contrary so far, oxfam reminds us that the death will not stop. that the murder will return to the quiet, less visual death of palestinians as a result of banning medicine, limiting aid, keeping the concentration camp of gaza closed:

 

Oxfam expressed concern over the unilateral Israeli declaration to declare a ceasefire Saturday evening, calling the move “insufficient to halt civilian deaths.”

from solidarity maps
from solidarity maps

so what do we do now? first things first: make sure that no one is deluded into thinking that this is a real “ceasefire” that things will get back to “normal” or that gaza is no longer occupied by israeli terrorist colonists. follow lebanon’s lead as in their protest at the u.s. embassy today. resist not only israeli terrorism, but also american terrorism and those who are in cahoots like the lebanese army that attacked the protesters at the american embassy in beirut today.

we should follow kali akuno’s words about building a global boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement and include in our list of those who we target all those with blood on their hands, all those who were complicit, who did not kick out israeli ambassadors, who continue to have economic relations with the israeli terrorist state:

Although it sometimes seems that the Israeli military – financed by at least $3 billion a year of US dollars—is unstoppable, there is plenty we can do to weaken the Zionist Project.

We can and must build a genuine anti-imperialist movement that, over the long-term, cuts Israel from its US imperialist benefactor. Until now, in the political mainstream and, indeed, among too many progressives, US political and financial support for Israel has been virtually unquestioned. It is our responsibility to add another 25% to the 41% of people in the US who oppose Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza, and to deepen their understanding so they not only reject the latest Israeli atrocity, but also the entire Zionist project in the shape of the continued colonial occupation of Palestine.

We must intensify the international campaign of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). The central goal of BDS must be to target corporations, investment entities, and other institutions that financially and politically support the Israeli government, especially the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). This movement must also seek to challenge and eventually end all US aid and material support to the IOF and intelligence forces, illegal settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank, subsidies to settlers, and the construction and maintenance of the illegal apartheid wall and related infrastructure. Furthermore, it should also seek to isolate a number of African, Arab, Asian, and Latin American governments that are complicit in the dispossession and inhumane deprivation of the Palestinian people, such as the Egyptian, Turkish, and Jordanian governments via their self-serving collaboration with Israel and the US government to negate Palestinian self-determination.

we should follow the lead of south africa trying to kick out the israeli terrorist ambassador:

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

And as the war in Gaza rages for its fourth week, Cosatu has called for the Israeli ambassador to be “kicked out” of South Africa, for the embassy to be “shut down,” for a “total boycott of Israeli goods” and for the “savage rule of Zionism over the Palestinian territories to come to and end”.

we should heed the call of palestinian professors beseeching us to boycott israeli terrorist professors:

 

Enough is enough. Please join the calls from artists, writers, lawyers, academics and students the world over and help bring an end to a regime that has continuously (since the beginning of the 20th century) relied on killing, dispossessing, incarcerating, and discriminating Palestinians in order to fulfill its own political agenda – the establishment and maintenance of an ethno-religious autocracy.

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finally, we must build a movement to try israeli terrorists for war crimes. but this is a challenging notion given the situation with respect to the jurisdiction as elna sondergaard explains in electronic intifada:

The crucial question is however: To which courts of justice can Palestinian victims bring their claims? There are Palestinian courts in Gaza but they have no jurisdiction over criminal cases involving Israelis. As stateless people, Palestinians have no state which could sign the Rome Statute with a view to seeking the adjudication of the ICC, or which would be entitled to bring a case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague as Bosnia and Herzegovina did concerning the massacre at Srebrenica. Without a state, Palestinians are also denied the legal protection offered by classic interstate diplomacy.

Initiating criminal prosecution against Israelis within the Israeli criminal system would be a matter for the public prosecutor to decide. Since the beginning of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, most grave breaches of international humanitarian law, including willful killings of civilians, have not been investigated by the Israeli army, let alone the subject of prosecution. Most often the Israeli authorities have turned a blind eye to serious violations of international law. In the few cases when an investigation has been carried out by the army, it has been of very poor quality, and testimonies from Palestinian victims have not been considered. This fact is well known and has been convincingly documented by numerous human rights and non-governmental organizations. In other words: discrimination against Palestinians within the Israeli criminal system leaves them with no access to effective judicial remedies. As a result, Israeli courts will not be in a position to impartially and independently adjudicate criminal cases concerning Gaza.

fida qishta highlights some of the many reasons why israeli terrorists must be tried for war crimes, and tried in an international venue where there will be the severest of punishments possible:

Israel stands accused of perpetrating a series of war crimes during a sustained 12-hour assault on a village in southern Gaza last week in which 14 people died.

In testimony collected from residents of the village of Khuza’a by the Observer, it is claimed that Israeli soldiers entering the village:

• attempted to bulldoze houses with civilians inside;

• killed civilians trying to escape under the protection of white flags;

• opened fire on an ambulance attempting to reach the wounded;

• used indiscriminate force in a civilian area and fired white phosphorus shells.

If the allegations are upheld, all the incidents would constitute breaches of the Geneva conventions.

The denunciations over what happened in Khuza’a follow repeated claims of possible human rights violations from the Red Cross, the UN and human rights organisations.

i’m not a lawyer or a judge, but i’ve got the perfect punishment for these israeli terrorists: take their jewish state away from them. NOW!

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i also recommend following the advice of angry arab with respect to legitimizing israeli state level. this is absolutely necessary on the individual, collective, and state levels:

 

When I first came to this country, I watched many Arab intellectuals and leaders of Arab American organizations fidget and squirm whenever they are asked the question: do you recognize the state of Israel? For me, it is a very simple question that requires a simple answer. Zionist hoodlums often asked that question following a talk by Arabs, in order to throw off the speaker. For me, I relished that opportunity. When I asked, I say: of course I don’t–and will never–recognize that terrorist state of Israel. In fact, it is immoral to recognize Israel because the recognition grants Israel legitimacy for its terrorism, occupation, and racism.

carlos latuff
carlos latuff

it is normalization that is the death of arab, muslim, and palestinian empowerment. it is so painfully obvious to anyone who has ever spent time in places like jordan and lebanon, for instance. there can be no peace with a terrorist state. that’s reality. that’s been reality for 61 years. there are certainly those who think differently even in palestine, even in gaza. i know someone like this in gaza, someone from jabaliya refugee camp who normalizes with israelis, who works in their hospitals. i don’t remember how i first got in touch with izzeldin abu el aish, but it happened a couple of years ago. i was looking for someone from the village of najd, what israeli terrorist colonists call sderot today. i wanted to know more about the village because nestle, one of the companies on the boycott list, is located there under the israeli terrorist name of osem foods. i went to najd to photograph this company and to see if i could find any remnants of palestinian homes. izzeldin guided me by phone to places that i should see. one of those places was a former cemetery of his village that has been leveled to make way for ariel sharon’s wife (sharon has a farm on this land, too). i had a difficult time relating to a palestinian refugee who is not allowed to return to his land, who treats israeli terrorists in their hospitals rather than focusing solely on his own community’s needs. i reject normalization from anyone in any context as i have seen it lead to the death and suffering again and again of palestinians. it is like watching someone participate in their own death and destruction. perhaps a death and destruction they cannot see because they are given the drug of hope. but israeli terrorists are not interested in peace. they are interested in theft, murder, and deceit. only this. only ever this. and yet my heart is aching now because what i am saying has now affected izzeldin in a severe way. he has, apparently, been reporting on israeli terrorist television about the situation in gaza. and while he was reporting live on television for israeli terrorists’ consumption, his own family was murdered by israeli terrorists:

“I want to know why my daughters were harmed. This should haunt (Israeli Ehud Prime Minister) Olmert his entire life,” Abu al-Aish said on Israel’s Channel 10, speaking through a cell phone in Hebrew as he has throughout the war.

He added that his daughters were “armed only with love.”

Gazan officials identified Al-Aish’s deceased daughters as 22-year-old Bisan, 15-year-old Mayer and 14-year old Aya. His niece was identified as 14-year-old Nour Abu al-Aish.

al jazeera showed this footage from israeli terrorist televsion where you can listen to izzeldin’s reporting on the murder of his family, of his children.

and while i would never want any palestinian to suffer–whether they normalize or not–i feel that this is the painful lesson of those who normalize: whether you are hamas or whether you are invested in israeli terrorists through normalziation your fate will be the same. this is why only resistance will lead to the liberation of palestine. this is what we need to do.

and we need to follow the zionists’ example: never forget and force them to witness the slaughter of palestinians every f)*#&@! day of their lives until palestine is liberated.