on media manipulation and the coup in honduras

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

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

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

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

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

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

What you can do

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

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

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

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

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

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

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…And the Tweeters Fell Silent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

at least some people can exercise their right of return…

although i’m sure the undeclared american war on pakistan is far from over, imran khan reported on al jazeera today that many pakistani refugees are returning home:

refugees, whether they are able to remain within the borders of their country or are forced to flee to neighboring countries, deserve the right to make the choice about whether and when they wish to choose to return home. i suspect that this is not the end of the plight of these refugees as it does not seem that the drones will stop any time soon. jeremy scahill recently responded to an article in the wall street journal about the american drones bombing pakistan:

It is very telling that the WSJ editorial—with no apparent shame—fails to mention the U.S. drone attacks last month that may have killed more than 80 people in Pakistan, including as many as 70 people in a U.S. bombing of a funeral procession in a tribal area. The WSJ editors defend the attacks, saying they are killing “high value targets,” saying of those killed by U.S. drone strikes, “Is the world better off with these people dead? We think so.” But the fact is that some statistics from the Pakistani government suggested that of the 700+ people killed in these U.S. drone strikes since 2006, 14 were “high value targets” or “al Qaeda” leaders and the vast majority were civilians. In this case, the real question is: “What does it say about the U.S. that its government authorizes the killing of these civilians?”

amy goodman had an interesting interview on democracy now! with imran khan (the cricketer not the al jazeera reporter) about the u.s. war on pakistan a few weeks ago, which is worth watching:

prisons within prisons within prisons within prisons within prisons

holding an american passport, having the privilege of white skin, and living in palestine means that one needs to be conscious of these privileges and also use them strategically to support palestinians. the summer camp last week was one example of using my white privilege to help palestinian refugees learn about their villages and use that knowledge and experience to imagine how to fight for their right of return. i think this is urgent for this generation to be given as many tools as possible to fight for this right and to acquire knowledge from their elders and their own experiences as the risk of losing the generation that holds first-hand memories. one of the youth on the trip has an 89 year old grandfather who recalls acutely every last detail of his village beit ‘itab. part of the next phase of this project is to get the youth to record the oral histories of their elders as well as to use that history as another tool to fight for their right of return. i use the word “project” advisedly. it is not some little program that we are working on here that is temporary or fleeting. it is something that we are hoping to project into the future to help this generation realize their right of return. to break out of their prisons in the refugee camps, in their bantustan cities and villages. to take their land back.

i taught my indigenous american class last night in deheishe, in which some of the same youth from camp are students, and i started to worry a bit about the upcoming delegation. first, here is a description and a way you can support the project by donating to the middle east children’s alliance:

The Indigenous Youth Delegation to Palestine, the first-ever delegation of its kind, is scheduled for August 2009. Youth leaders from grassroots indigenous groups in the US, namely Seventh Native American Generation (SNAG) Magazine, Huaxtec, and Native students at Haskell University, will travel to Palestine at the invitation of five Palestinian youth centers. After more than two years of communicating through the internet, these young people will have the opportunity to learn firsthand from each other by sharing tools of empowerment and education.

The trip to Palestine is part of an ongoing process to connect the shared experiences of Indigenous peoples across the world, to build solidarity, justice and peace. The group will create print media, blogs, a Native/Palestinian music CD, video, photo essays, poetry and other forms of media to share their stories and involve their communities in building a national and international movement for indigenous rights.

i think that this project is hugely important as global indigenous solidarity is necessary. i think the youth can learn a lot from each other. at the same time one of the differences between indigenous youth in the americas and in palestine is time–a few hundred years difference. and i worry that the palestinian youth will look to the american indian youth and see this as their fate: four hundred years of living in refugee camps, of removal from their land, of imprisonment.

one of the more well known american indian political prisoners is up for parole again. leonard peltier, jeremy scahill reminds us, has the possibility of being released from prison in a couple of weeks:

“I AM but a common man, I am not a speaker but I have spoken. I am not all that tall, but I have stood up. I am not a philosopher or poet or a singer or any of those things that particularly inspire people, but the one thing that I am is the evidence that this country lied when they said there was justice for all… I am just a common man and I am evidence that the powers that put me here would like to sweep under the carpet. The same way they did all of our past leaders, warriors and people they massacred. Just as at Wounded Knee, the Fifth Cavalry sought its revenge for Custer’s loss and massacred some 300 Indian men women and children, then gave out 23 Medals of Honor and swept the evidence of their wrongdoing aside… I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in this prison. And I don’t want you to spend the rest of your life in some prison of the mind, heart or attitude. I want you to enjoy your life.

If nothing else give somebody a hug for me and say, ‘This is from Leonard.’”

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,

Leonard Peltier

NOTE: Read Leonard Peltier’s full June 26 statement. Peltier is up for parole on July 28. His supporters and friends have launched a letter-writing campaign to support his release from prison after 34 years.

americans, like their zionist allies, love to lock people and communities up in prisons. they have this, among other things, in common. there are over 11,000 palestinian political prisoners languishing in zionist terrorist colonist jails, among them are some more well-known political leaders and figures. last week the campaign to free ahmed sa’adat issued a letter calling for his release as well as all the other political prisoners:

Dear Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon;

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, call upon you to immediately take action in defense of the lives, health and rights of the over 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners held inside Israeli occupation jails. This number includes numerous elected members of Palestinian Legislative Council, among them Ahmad Sa’adat, General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; Marwan al-Barghouthi, Fateh leader; Abdel-Aziz Dweik, Hamas leader and President of the Council, just freed after three years in prison, and dozens of other elected political leaders, in addition to thousands of other Palestinian activists, union members, community organizers, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters.

Palestinian prisoners suffer in conditions that violate international standards and norms, and are imprisoned because they refuse to accept a brutal occupation of their land and their people. Ahmad Sa’adat recently waged a nine-day hunger strike in protest of the policy of isolation and solitary confinement that has recently been escalated against Palestinian prisoners. Palestinian prisoners have been denied family visits, at times for years, denied access to all books and magazines, and denied even communication with their fellow prisoners in the isolation units. Palestinian prisoners, including Sa’adat, are currently denied necessary health care and medical treatment.

Palestinian prisoners are placed into isolation because they are national leaders and because the Palestinian prisoner movement has been an inspiration to all Palestinians and all who struggle for freedom. Ahmad Sa’adat’s hunger strike has sparked thousands of people around the world to appeal for his release, as a living example who symbolizes the steadfastness and strength of the Palestinian prisoners amid isolation and dire conditions, and it must compel all of those outside the prisons to act. Many Palestinian and international human rights and social justice organizations have called for the release of Sa’adat and to ensure the safety of his life and health, as well as for freedom and protection for all Palestinian prisoners.

The fate of these 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners is a fundamental issue of justice. Palestinians, in Palestine and in exile, are denied their rights – to return home, to self-determination, and to freedom, and those who seek to secure those rights are subject to imprisonment, whether within the open-air prisons of Gaza under siege or the walled-in West Bank, or the jails of the occupation. The silent, and at times, active, complicity of international agencies, particularly the United Nations, in the denial of Palestinian rights must not continue.

We call upon you to uphold your responsibilities and exert all pressure to end torture, cruel and inhuman treatment of Palestinian prisoners, and to free every Palestinian political prisoner from Israel’s occupation jails.

Sincerely,
http://www.freeahmadsaadat.org/
Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat

the number of palestinian political prisoners grows every month with the zionist terrorist forces’ nightly raids into palestinian refugee camps, villages and cities. here is a report on the month of june alone:

The Palestinian Ministry of Detainees reported that the Israeli army kidnapped more than 380 Palestinians in several parts of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem during the month of June.

The ministry added that the army also kidnapped four Egyptians in the Negev after claiming that they crossed the border and entered a military base.

Hundreds of Palestinian workers were also detained in the Green Line as the Israeli Police claimed they were working there without permits.

Riyadh Al Ashqar, head of the Media Department at the Ministry, stated that last month witnessed a significant escalation in Israeli attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip, and that the soldiers kidnapped sixteen fishermen.

He added that Israeli security personnel interrogated the fishermen and tried to blackmail them by telling them that they would be allowed to fish in Gaza’s territorial waters should they collaborate and spy for Israel in Gaza.

The minister added that, for the first time, soldiers detained a four-year old child, identified as Mohammad Mousa, after claiming that he hurled stones at police vehicles in Jerusalem. 31 residents, including three children below 12, were detained in Hizma village, near Jerusalem.

The army also kidnapped three women, and tortured one of them at the Atara roadblock, north of Ramallah.

The tortured woman was identified as Nahed Farhat, from Ramallah; the soldiers kicked her, dragged her on the ground and punched her before blindfolding and cuffing her, and took her to a detention facility.

Soldiers also broke into the home of female legislator, Dr. Mariam Saleh, searched the property and kidnapped her son Salah after kicking and punching him and his brother.

Troops confiscated the legislator’s mobile phone and some private documents.

In its report, the Ministry said that Israeli courts issued more than 220 administrative detention orders and imposed high fines on dozens of detainees.

Troops broke into several detention facilities, searched the rooms and attacked a number of detainees.

mohammed ballan compiled a list of some of the palestinian political prisoners’ names, which jasmin ramsey at pulse media reported. however, this is just a small fraction of their names, names that must be spoken, remembered, and the demand for their release must be fought for:

It is also imperative to note that these name are only roughly 200 names when in fact there are over 11, 000 in Israeli prisons. Unfortunately, there is no transparency, and the names of these prisoners remain elusive due to the nature of their imprisonment. No human rights organizations or governmental organizations have access to all of the names and identities of these Palestinians. Although they may be erased from our regular world, we will not forget their existence and let them run through the pages of history.

It should also be noted that of those Palestinians detained, only a minor proportion have actually committed acts of “terrorism” (as defined by Israeli law) or orchestrated attacks against the Israeli civilian and military infrastructure of occupation.

For some of the sources used to compile these names, please visit:

http://addameer.info/
http://sumoud.tao.ca/?q=
http://www.miftah.org/Doc/Factsheets/Miftah/English/Prisoners.pdf
http://palestinianprisoners.blogspot.com/

PALESTINIAN PRISONERS:

10,000 men, 1500 women, 500 children under 12 yrs old.

Mainstream media coverage, including Israeli/Arabic/Palestinian/Western news stations: 0.00 minutes, 0 news articles

Names (a mere fraction of them)

Abdullah Hussein Abdullah Odeh
Samah Abdullah
Muhammad Ouni Muhammad Daadou
Amin As’ad Mustafa Salim
Mahmoud Shukri Abd al-Karim Hamshari
Ali Kamal Hussein Abu Salim
Muhammad Saleem Shaheen
Azzam Yusuf Mahmoud Yasin
Roulan Tawfiq Abdullah Dighlis
Nahed Taysir Tawfiq Abu Diyak
Mu’in Mustafa Musa Feshafesha
Muhammad Bassam Tawfiq Walway
Muhammad Amin Ahmad Yunus
Nadel Khalil Ahmad ‘Aalouna
Adam Ghazzan Ahmad Harami
Khadeer Ali Muhammad Bisharat
Mahmoud Radwan Mahmoud Musleh
Samed Muhammd Hassan Asleem
Ehad Mansur Ibrahim Khleelya
Muhammad Saleh Suleyman Mardawi
Saleh ‘Amer Swey’ad S’aida
Amin Abd Muhammad ‘Arbash
George Ghabi Yusuf Bihnan
Ghassan Nu’man Mahmoud Taha
Jibr ‘Ouda Ali Mukhamra
Nitham Mustafa Sawafta
Samer Mahmoud Karim Haimouni
Ibrahim Muhammad Khalil Dababsa
Khalil Suleyman Khalil Jrouf
Ashraf Hussein Mahmoud Abu Ghlass
Tamer Badr Qubtan Abu ‘Arqoub
Muhammad Ibrahim Muhammad ‘Oud
Tawfiq Abd al-Qader Talib Omar
Ziyad Hassan Abd al-Jalil Kahla
Ayman Yaser Khalil ‘Amru
Imad ‘Ezat Muhammad Awlad Muhammad
Mustafa Sawafta
Muhammad Zuhdi Abd al-Rahman Mahfoudh
Muhammad Ahmad Abd Quttamsh
Amru Hassan Muhammad ‘Amru
Osama Muhammad Suleyman Sabateen
Najeh Yusuf Muhammad ‘Amru
Mu’mmar Muhammad Khalil Ta’amra
Ouda Ismail Muhammad Za’anouna
‘Asem Mahmoud Abd al-Rahim Salama
Amna Mouna
Bedran Abd al-Qader Ibrahim Badir
Ahmad Hassan Ahmad Shaqura
Amin Sarhi Salama Abu Mandil
Hussam Suleyman Mustafa ‘Arouq
Omar Mustafa Muhammad Omar
Fadi ‘Essam Sha’ban Saleem
Jum’a Qader ‘Atiya Abu Farha
Mundhir Mahmoud Muhammad Abu Zaghreet
Ala’ Rubhi Hussein Saleh
Muhammad ‘Ayed Muhammad Rub’i
Ghada Jasser
Nayef Ahmad Abd al-Fatah Butran
Khawla Zeitawi
Khaled Ramadan Tawfiq Ismail
Sa’di Mahmoud Hassan ‘Ouda
Ahmad Mahmod Muhammad Saleh
Haitham ‘Asmat Reja’i Zahran
Muhammad Ahmad Fraj Asleem
Asma’ Hussein
Samar Subaih
Bara’ Subaih
Fadi Husni ‘Oud Abu ‘Aoun
Abdullah Qa’dan Khidr Sa’ad
Mutleq Saleh Qassem Bani Jaber
Rasheed Muhammad Rasheed ‘Aql
Ahlam Jawhar
‘Isa Ahmad Amin Abu Eid
Murad ‘Ezzat Muhammad Qassem
Haitham Muhammad Ahmad Baradi’iya
Muhammad Ahmad Shehadeh Farhan
Muhannad Abd al-Fatah Mahmoud Hatataba
Suad Ghazal
Ahmad Mustafa Ali ‘Araj
Muhammad Ibrahim Muhammad Abu Jheesha
Ibrahim Mufleh Saleh Abu Jheesha
Muhammad Abd al-Karim Ismail Hameedan
Abdullah Hassan Ahmad Qandil
Muhammad Na’eim Nimr Muhammad
Manal Ghanem
Nor Ghanem
Khayri Nasr Yusuf Wahdan
‘Asem Ahmad Muhammad ‘Isa
Hani Mahmoud Hussein Taneena
Nadeem ‘Aoud Mahmoud Smara
Sa’ad al-Din Muhammad Abd al-Majid Hassoun
Muhammad Ibrahim Ismail Abu Ismail
Sana ‘Amer
Rafet Suleyman Hussein Radaideh
‘Ouni Yusuf Mahmoud Omar
Rasem Suleyman Abu Rayhan
Sameeh ‘Isa Abd al-Haroush
Ismail Hassan Ali Jabour
Jibril Hassan Hassan Jabour
Imad Yunus Suleyman Jabour
Tawfiq Ahmad Za’al Jabour
Arafat Mahmoud Muhammad Abd al-Aziz
Ayman Munir Tawfiq
Sa’eed Wajia Sa’eed Al-Outban
Na’el Saleh Abdullah Barghouti
Fakhri ‘Asfour Abdullah Al-Barghouti
Akram Abdulaziz Sa’eed Mansur
Muhammad Ibrahim Mahmoud Abu Ali
Fu’ad Qassem Aeafat Al-Razem
Ibrahim Fadl Nimr Jaber
Aseel Al-Hindi
Hassan Ali Nimr Salama
Uthman Ali Hamdan Musleh
Sami Khaled Salama Yunus
Karim Yusuf Fadl Yunus
Maher Abd al-Latif Abd al-Qader Yunus
Salim Ali Ibrahim Al-Kayl
Hafedh Nimr Muhammad Qundus
Majd Al-Kokhen
‘Isa Nimr Jibril Abdrabo
Muhammad Abd al-Rahim Sa’eed Mansur
Ahmad Fareed Muhammad Shehadeh
Muhammad Ibrahim Muhammad Nasr
Rafe’ Farhoud Mahmoud Kraja
Talal Yusuf Ahmad Abu Al-Kabash
Ziyad Mahmoud Muhammad Ghneimat
Mustafa ‘Amer Muhammad Ghneimat
Khalid Sa’adi Rashed Abu Shamt
Uthman Abdullah Mahmoud Bani Hussein
Heza’ Mahmoud Heza’ Al-Sa’adi
Bashir Suleyman Ahmad Al-Muqt
‘Asem Mahmoud Ahmad Wali
Seitan Nimr Nimr Wali
Sidqi Suleyman Ahmad Al-Muqt
Hani Badwi Muhammad Sa’eed Jaber
Muhammad Ahmad Abd al-Hamid Al-Tus
Nafidh Ahmad Talib Herz
Fayez Mutawwa’ Hmad Al-Khour
Azi Jum’a Muhammad Al-Nams
Ahmad Abdurrahman Hussein Abu Haseera
Muhammad Misbah Khalil ‘Ashour
Nour Al-Hashalamoun
Walid Nimr As’ad Diqqa
Muhammad Abd al-Hadi Muhammad Al-Husni
Tawfiq Ibrahim Muhammad Abdullah
Mustafa Mahmoud Musa Qar’ushi
Marian Saleh
Rashda Hamdan Muhammad Abu Mikh
Ibrahim Nayef Hamdan Abu Mikh
Ibrahim Abd al-Razeq Ahmad Beyadsa
Ibrahim Mustafa Ahmad Baroud
Ali Badr Ragheb Musulmani
Fawaz Qadhem Rashda Bukhtan
Khalid Ahmad Dawoud Muheisen
‘Asem Saleh Ali Jundal
Wasfa Ahmad Abd al-Qader Mansur
Aladdin Ahmad Reda Al-Baziyan
Ahmad Ali Hussein Abu Jaber
Abd al-Latif Ismail Ibrahim Shaqir
Afu Misbah Nufal Shaqir
Saleh Muhammad Yusuf Al-’Abd
Tareq Dawoud Mustafa Al-Hlees
Abd al-Nasser Dawoud Mustafa Al-Hlees
Ibrahim Hussein Ali ‘Elyan
SamirIbrahim Mahmoud Abu Ni’mah
Hazem Muhammad Sabra ‘Asilia
Hamza Nayef Hassan Zayed
Samer ‘Asem Salem Al-Mahroum
Abdurrahman Fadl Abdurrahman Al-Qeeq
Khaled Muttawa’ Muslim Al-Ja’eedi
Ahlam Al-Tamimi
Aziz Dweik
Maryam Saleh

part of the point of compiling a partial list of the names of palestinian political prisoners is related to the utter lack of media attention palestinian political prisoners get in the international media. last week when the free gaza movement’s boat was captured by zionist terrorist colonists and twenty one internationals were imprisoned, the media story focused on them because the media is not interested in covering the imprisonment of the indigenous fighting to free their land. in response, they produced this video about palestinian political prisoners and the 1.5 million palestinians imprisoned in gaza, the world’s largest open-air prison:

cynthia mckinney was one of those jailed by the zionist terrorist colonists and she wrote “letter from an israeli jail,” the title of which, of course, alludes to martin luther king’s “letter from a birmingham jail,” which reads in part:

But I’ve learned an interesting thing by being inside this prison. First of all, it’s incredibly black: populated mostly by Ethiopians who also had a dream … like my cellmates, one who is pregnant. They are all are in their twenties. They thought they were coming to the Holy Land. They had a dream that their lives would be better … The once proud, never colonized Ethiopia [has been thrown into] the back pocket of the United States, and become a place of torture, rendition, and occupation. Ethiopians must free their country because superpower politics [have] become more important than human rights and self-determination.

My cellmates came to the Holy Land so they could be free from the exigencies of superpower politics. They committed no crime except to have a dream. They came to Israel because they thought that Israel held promise for them. Their journey to Israel through Sudan and Egypt was arduous. I can only imagine what it must have been like for them. And it wasn’t cheap. Many of them represent their family’s best collective efforts for self-fulfilment. They made their way to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. They got their yellow paper of identification. They got their certificate for police protection. They are refugees from tragedy, and they made it to Israel only after they arrived Israel told them “there is no UN in Israel.”

The police here have license to pick them up & suck them into the black hole of a farce for a justice system. These beautiful, industrious and proud women represent the hopes of entire families. The idea of Israel tricked them and the rest of us. In a widely propagandized slick marketing campaign, Israel represented itself as a place of refuge and safety for the world’s first Jews and Christian. I too believed that marketing and failed to look deeper.

The truth is that Israel lied to the world. Israel lied to the families of these young women. Israel lied to the women themselves who are now trapped in Ramle’s detention facility. And what are we to do? One of my cellmates cried today. She has been here for 6 months. As an American, crying with them is not enough. The policy of the United States must be better, and while we watch President Obama give 12.8 trillion dollars to the financial elite of the United States it ought now be clear that hope, change, and ‘yes we can’ were powerfully presented images of dignity and self-fulfilment, individually and nationally, that besieged people everywhere truly believed in.

It was a slick marketing campaign as slickly put to the world and to the voters of America as was Israel’s marketing to the world. It tricked all of us but, more tragically, these young women.

We must cast an informed vote about better candidates seeking to represent us. I have read and re-read Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s letter from a Birmingham jail. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that I too would one day have to do so. It is clear that taxpayers in Europe and the U.S. have a lot to atone for, for what they’ve done to others around the world.

What an irony! My son begins his law school program without me because I am in prison, in my own way trying to do my best, again, for other people’s children. Forgive me, my son. I guess I’m experiencing the harsh reality which is why people need dreams. [But] I’m lucky. I will leave this place. Has Israel become the place where dreams die?

Ask the people of Palestine. Ask the stream of black and Asian men whom I see being processed at Ramle. Ask the women on my cellblock. [Ask yourself:] what are you willing to do?

part of the context of those prisoners, who were refugees seeking asylum, mckinney writes about in her letter was reported on last week by irin news:

Some 15,000 mainly African asylum-seekers in Israel have put the regulatory, security and welfare response under strain, according to the Interior Ministry and UNHCR.

Israel does not have a refugee law, despite being a signatory to the 1951 refugee Convention.

However, regulations can allow asylum-seekers to work, and grant temporary protection and non-refoulement (a commitment not to force people back to where they came from).

About 200-300 asylum-seekers arrive each month, mainly overland from Egypt, according to the Immigration Authority and NGOs.

The UNHCR local office reports 14,766 asylum-seekers in Israel, while the Refugee Rights Forum (RRF – eight NGOs active in promoting the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers in Israel) suggests a number over 17,000.

The difference may in part be explained by the fact that UNHCR does not count asylum-seekers who are no longer in touch with them, according to William Tall, a UNHCR representative in Israel.

In the run-up to the handover of the RSD process to the Interior Ministry on 2 July, UNHCR has helped train 25 immigration officers who will begin work in July.

what happens with palestinian political prisoners–when internationals and asylum seekers are perhaps far from view–is something mckinney did not witness. in electronic intifada, jonathan cook reported on the most recent reports of the routine torture of palestinians, including youth, inside zionist terrorist colonist jails:

Despite the 1999 court ruling, a coalition of 14 Israeli human rights groups known as United Against Torture concluded in its latest annual report in November that Israeli detention facilities are still using torture systematically. Israeli doctors are also being relied on to treat the resulting injuries.

Last week, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) and the Public Committee against Torture in Israel (PCATI) published a joint report examining hundreds of arrests in which Palestinians were bound in “distorted and unnatural” ways to inflict “pain and humiliation” amounting to torture.

The report noted instances where prisoners, including a pregnant woman and a dying man, were shackled while doctors carried out emergency procedures in a hospital.

According to the report, the doctors violated the Tokyo Declaration, the key code of medical ethics adopted by the WMA in 1975 that bans the use of cruel, humiliating or inhuman treatment by physicians.

Ishai Menuchin, the head of PCATI, said his group had been lobbying strenuously against Israeli doctors’ complicity in torture since it issued a report, “Ticking Bombs,” in 2007, arguing that torture was routine in Israel.

PCATI highlighted the testimonies of nine Palestinians who had been tortured by interrogators. The report also noted that in most cases Israeli physicians treating detainees “return their patients to additional rounds of torture, and remain silent.”

In June last year, PHR-I drew the IMA’s attention to two cases in which the attending doctor failed to report signs of torture on a Palestinian.

Anat Litvin of PHR-I told the IMA: “We believe that doctors are used by torturers as a safety net — take them out of the system and torture will be much more difficult to enact.”

The groups stepped up their pressure in February, writing to Avinoam Reches, the chairman of the IMA’s ethics committee. They demanded that his association investigate six cases of doctors who failed to report signs of torture.

In one case, a prison doctor, under pressure from interrogators, agreed to retract a written recommendation that a detainee be immediately hospitalized for treatment.

Reches promised to conduct an inquiry. However, last month the two human rights groups criticized him for failing to investigate their claims, accusing him of holding only “amicable and unofficial” conversations over the phone with a few of the doctors concerned.

“We have sent to the IMA many testimonies from victims of torture who were referred to doctors for treatment,” Dr. Menuchin said. “But the IMA has yet to do anything about it.

“A significant number of doctors in Israel, in detention facilities and public hospitals, know torture is taking place, but choose to avert their gaze.”

This month, Defence for Children International-Palestine Section issued a report on the torture of Palestinian children, noting that in several of the cases it cited, Israeli doctors had turned a blind eye. A boy of 14 who was beaten repeatedly on a broken arm reported the abuse to a doctor who, he said, replied only: “I had nothing to do with that.”

The report stated that the group “has not encountered a single case where an adult in a position of authority, such as a soldier, doctor, judicial officer or prison staff, has intervened on behalf of a child who was mistreated.”

Campaigners against Dr. Blachar’s appointment as the head of the WMA say its Israeli sister association’s inaction on torture is unsurprising given its chairman’s public stance.

Derek Summerfield of the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, said: “The IMA under Dr. Blachar is in collusion with the Israeli state policy of torture. Its role is to put a benign face on the occupation.”

Dr. Blachar told the Israeli website Ynet last week that such criticisms were “slanderous,” saying he and the IMA denounced all forms of torture.

The WMA, with nine million members in more than 80 countries, was established in 1947 as a response to the abuses sanctioned by German and Japanese doctors during the Second World War.

In 2007, the WMA’s general assembly called on doctors to document and report all cases of suspected torture.

the defence of children international advocates on behalf of the children who are arrested and tortured every month by zionist terrorist forces. here is a recent video they produced to illustrate their predicament:

dci’s most recent urgent action is for wa’ad arafat mustafa al-hidmy and below is information about how you can take more action on his behalf. he is but one child prisoner, but his situation is indicative of the hundreds of palestinian children languishing in zionist terrorist colonist prisons:

Name Wa’ad Arafat Mustafa al-Hidmy
Age at arrest 16
Occupation Student
Place of residence Surif, Hebron, Hebron, OPT
Date of arrest 28 April 2008
Charge No charge
Place of detention Ofer Prison

UPDATE: July 2009

21 September 2009 Possible release date
21 June 2009 Fifth administrative detention order (3 months)
26 March 2009 Fourth administrative detention order (3 months)
26 November 2008 Third administrative detention order (4 months)
27 August 2008 Second administrative detention order (3 months)
6 May 2008 First administrative detention order (4 months)
28 April 2008 Date of arrest

Background information

Wa’ad was arrested from the family home in the village of Surif, near Hebron in the West Bank, at 3:00am on 28 April 2008. He was asleep at the time and woke to the sound of Israeli soldiers banging on the front door.

The soldiers entered the house and after identifying Wa’ad, tied his hands behind his back with plastic cords and took him out of the house to a waiting jeep where he was blindfolded. Wa’ad was placed on the floor of the jeep and told to ‘shut-up’. During the drive to the settlement of Karmi Zur, soldiers in the back of the jeep placed their legs on Wa’ad’s body. On arrival at the settlement Wa’ad was asked some questions about his health before being transferred to Etzion Interrogation and Detention Centre, near Bethlehem. In an affidavit given to lawyers for DCI-Palestine in June 2009, Wa’ad recalls that: ‘I did not know why they were arresting me. I started to wonder whether I had done something wrong without knowing.’

Two days later, Wa’ad was transferred to Ofer Prison, near Ramallah, where he was interrogated by a policeman in blue uniform. During the interrogation the policeman told Wa’ad that he had been informed by a third person that Wa’ad had participated in a demonstration organised by Islamic Jihad, an organisation banned by the Israeli authorities. Wa’ad could not recall there being any demonstrations organised by Islamic Jihad where he lived during the previous year and that in any event, he had not participated in any of their demonstrations. Wa’ad recalls that the interrogation only lasted around five minutes.

Several days later a prison officer handed Wa’ad a document written in Hebrew and informed him that it was an administrative detention order for six months. Wa’ad recalls feeling depressed because ‘I was expecting to be released because I had not confessed to anything and I had not done anything.’ Two days later Wa’ad’s order was reviewed by the Administrative Detention Court and reduced to four months.

Months passed, and in August, three days before the expiry of the first order, a prison officer again handed Wa’ad a document written in Hebrew and informed him that he had been given a second administrative detention order for four months – ‘I became anxious, but felt helpless. I was expecting to be released after the expiry of the first order but this new order surprised me.’ Several days later the Court reviewed the second order and reduced it to three months.

Wa’ad recalls becoming nervous in the week before the expiry of the second order – ‘I was afraid that the order would be renewed again.’ Two days before the expiry date, Wa’ad was issued with a third administrative detention order for four months, which was confirmed by the Court.

‘I feel a great injustice because of this detention that, according to what I understood from the lawyer and judge, is based on confidential material. I do not know the real reason behind my detention because I cannot remember doing anything that would put the security of the state at risk.’

In March 2009, a few days before the expiry of his third order, Wa’ad was issued with a fourth administrative detention order, for four months, which was later reduced to three months by the Court – ‘I did not know what to do in such a situation. I became unstable and unsure when I would be released. Such a situation is driving me crazy.’

On 14 June 2009, nearly 14 months after his arrest, Wa’ad was visited for the first time by his parents. Up until this time, they had been denied a permit on unspecified security grounds, and only his younger siblings had been allowed to visit him. During the 40 minute visit, Wa’ad recalls telling his parents that he was ‘certain’ to be released on 25 June. However, on 21 June 2009, Wa’ad was issued with a fifth administrative detention order for three months – ‘now I am extremely depressed and do not know what to do.’

Wa’ad was imprisoned once before in September 2005 for throwing stones and Molotov cocktails and has a 20 year-old brother who is also being held in administrative detention in the Negev, inside Israel.

Wa’ad will lodge an appeal against the issue of his fifth administrative detention order.

Administrative detention

Administrative detention is detention without charge or trial and is often based on “secret evidence.” Israeli Military Order 1591 empowers military commanders to detain Palestinians, including children as young as 12, for up to six months if they have “reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security require the detention.” The initial six month period can be extended by additional six-month periods indefinitely. This procedure denies the detainee the right to a fair trial and the ability to adequately challenge the basis of his or her detention.

There are currently at least 449 Palestinians being held by Israel without charge or trial in administrative detention, of which six were under 18 when they received their order. For more information visit the DCI-Palestine website at Freedom Now.

Recommended action

The detention of a child in these circumstances does not conform to Israel’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child or the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Please send Urgent Appeals to the Israeli authorities urging them to:

* Immediately cease the practice of holding persons under the age of 18 in administrative detention; and
* Immediately and unconditionally release Wa’ad from administrative detention, or charge him with a recognisable criminal offence and promptly try him in a proper court of law with internationally accepted standards for a fair trial. Any further action should take into consideration the fact that Wa’ad has now been detained without charge since April 2008.

Appeals to:

Prime Minister,
Office of the Prime Minister,
3 Kaplan Street, PO Box 187, Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem, 91919, Israel,
Fax: +972- 2-651 2631,
Email: rohm[at]pmo.gov.il, pm_eng[at]pmo.gov.il
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister

Ehud Barak
Minister of Defence, Ministry of Defence,
37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya, Tel Aviv 61909, Israel
Fax: +972 3 691 6940
Email: minister[at]mod.gov.il
Salutation: Dear Minister

Minister of Justice, Fax: + 972 2 628 7757; + 972 2 628 8618

Attorney General, Fax: + 972 2 627 4481; + 972 2 628 5438; +972 2 530 3367

there are prisons within prisons within prisons in palestine because of the zionist terrorist colonists occupying palestinian land. and for those occupying palestine even a five-month-old baby is a threat who cannot be released from the prison that is gaza as was the case last week:

Israeli forces at the Erez crossing stopped a 5-month old baby from crossing into Israel. His mother and five-year old sister both had a permission to leave the Strip, so the 5-year old girl could receive medical treatment in Israel.

As Israeli troops refused the infant to enter Israel, the mother and both her children were forced to turn back home without receiving medical treatment and might be unable to receive another permission to enter Israel.The five-year old girl needed medical help in Israel, as doctors in Gaza were unable to diagnose why the girl has been suffering from chronic fevers.The mother decided to take her baby with her, because she didn’t know how long the treatment would take, assuming that a five-month old infant didn’t constitute any threat for the state of Israel.The permits the mother and her daughter received were only valid on Tuesday and they had a hospital appointment for Tuesday afternoon in the Al-Maqased hospital in Jerusalem.

palestinians in gaza are particularly trapped as are people like natalie abou shakra who has been trying to return home to lebanon, but has been having to confront the egyptian regime who is keeping her trapped inside the prison that is gaza. and for those palestinians from gaza who manage to leave and try to return, mohammed omer’s story is an example of what they will face upon trying to return home:

June 26, 2008 is a day I will never forget. For the events of that day irrevocably changed my life. That day I was detained, interrogated, strip searched, and tortured while attempting to return home from a European speaking tour, which culminated in independent American journalist Dahr Jamil and I sharing the Martha Gellhorn Journalism Prize in London — an award given to journalists who expose propaganda which often masks egregious human rights abuses.

I want to address the denials from Israel and the inaccurate reporting by a few journalists in addition to requesting state of Israel to acknowledge what it did to me, prosecute the members of the Shin Bet responsible for it and put in place procedures that protect other journalists from such treatment.

Since 2003, I’ve been the voice to the voiceless in the besieged Gaza Strip for a number of publications and news programs ranging from The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs to the BBC and, Morgenbladet in Norway as well as Democracy Now! These stories exposed a carefully-crafted fiction continuing control and exploitation of five-million people. Their impact, coupled with the reporting of others served to change public opinion in the United States and Europe concerning the dynamics of Israel and its occupation of Palestine.

After receiving the Martha Gellhorn prize I returned home through the Allenby Bridge Crossing in the Occupied West Bank between Jordan and Israel. It was here I was detained, interrogated, and tortured for several hours by Shin Bet and border officers. When it appeared I may be close to death an ambulance was called to transport me to a hospital. From that day my life has been a year of continued medical treatments, pain — and a search for justice.

Lisa Dvir from the Israeli Airport Authority (IAA), the agency responsible for controlling Israel’s borders in an June 29th article by Mel Frykberg for the Inter Press Service stated, “the IAA was neither aware of Omer’s journalist credentials nor of his coordination.”

The statement is wholly inaccurate and impossible on two counts. First, because I’m Palestinian, I am unable to enter Israel or leave Gaza, even through the Rafah border with Egypt, without Israeli permission, something quite difficult to get. Each time I’ve left Gaza for speaking tours required substantial lobbying and political maneuvering by several governments. In 2006, it was the American governments who ultimately won my visa. In 2007 the Dutch Parliament invited me back to speak to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and in 2008 when it was announced I won the Martha Gellhorn Prize, several European countries requested Israel grant me a visa but it was MP Hans Van Baalen of the Netherlands who, with great efforts, secured and guaranteed my passage out of Gaza and Israel, as well as the return for both the 2007 and 2008 trips on the condition I travel and be escorted by members of the Dutch Embassy in Tel Aviv while within Israel or the occupied West Bank. Therefore I was under diplomatic escort with the full knowledge of the Israeli government when I arrived at Allenby on June 26th. In fact Israeli security had blocked my re-entry for four days, causing me to miss a family wedding and wait in Jordan.

Secondly Dvir’s claim that the IAA didn’t know I was a journalist is proved false by the actions of the Shin Bet and border police. During the interrogation an Israeli security personnel searching my belongings repeatedly asked ‘Where’s the money from the prize, Mohammed?’ The prize is only given to journalists. Not only were they fully aware I am a journalist. They knew exactly how much I received, for what and where.

Dvir further perjured herself when she claimed, “We would like to know who Omer spoke to in regard to receiving coordination to pass through Allenby. We offer journalists a special service when passing through our border crossings, and had we known about his arrival this would not have happened.” Her denial shocked a Dutch diplomat in Tel Aviv who had confirmed with the state permission for me to cross on June 26. Again, I was traveling under diplomatic escort and when I asked to phone the escort — waiting on the other side of the terminal — Shin Bet’s response was they knew and didn’t care.

While not admitting that the interrogation and torture took place, Divr then dismissed any actions by the Shin Bet as out of her department’s control: “I’m not aware of the events that followed his detention, and we are not responsible for the behavior of the Shin Bet.” But the Israeli Airport Authority, Divr’s department, like most port authorities, is responsible for border security and those who enforce that security in Israel are members of the army and the Shin Bet.

Unfortunately Dvir’s diversions were just the beginning. In the days following my detention and torture, the Israeli Government Press Office acknowledged that despite traveling under diplomatic escort I was searched “due to suspicion that he had been in contact with hostile elements and had been asked by them to deliver items to Judea and Samaria (Occupied West Bank).” This has been mentioned and quoted in different papers. Like everyone else entering, my bags were x-rayed and cleared multiple times excluding the possibility I was carrying some type of contraband. And I was traveling in the Dutch Embassy’s car directly to Erez crossing with Gaza , as communicated to the Israeli authorities. There was zero possibility of me delivering ‘items’ to anyone.

Confronted with the medical reports and injuries including bruised ribs Israeli officials told the BBC on July 1, 2008 that, “He lost balance and fell, for reasons unknown to us,” other officers suggest, “Mr. Omer had a nervous breakdown due to the high temperature.”

Despite the attempts at denials, the emergency medical technician who sat in the back of the ambulance with me reported, “We noted fingerprints on his neck and chest,” the type bruising caused by excessive force often used in forensics to identify an attacker.

When Associated Press reporter Karin Laub called me on my cell phone for an interview after my ordeal, I detailed how I was stripped and held at gunpoint. Her reply? “Go on,” she stated. “This is normal about what we hear happening at Ben Gurion Airport. It’s nothing new.”

Torture, strip searches and holding award winning journalists or any other human beings at gun point is normal at Israel ’s largest airport? Ms. Laub’s apathy continued. In her article for the Associated Press on June 29th she wrote that she interviewed “Dr. Husseini who claims there were no signs of physical trauma.”

There’s only one problem with this. This Dr. Husseini never treated me. The Minister of Health in Ramallah confirmed that Husseini never made any such statement to the AP reporter. For reasons known only to her, Ms. Laub appears to have fabricated this comment and purposely ignored the medical reports and the statements by the attending paramedics — counter to journalistic ethics and standards upheld by the Associated Press. Despite this, no independent investigation took place.

Meanwhile the Jerusalem correspondent for the Los Angles Times, Ashraf Khalil, conducted an investigation into my case and noted in his article on November 3, 2008, that my medical records describe: “Tenderness on the anterior part of the neck and upper back mainly along the right ribs moderate to severe pain,” and “by examination the scrotum due to pain varicocele (varicose veins in the spermatic cord) at left side detected and surgery was decided later.” Fevers and falls do not cause such distinctive marks. Kicks, punches and beatings do. Continuing Khalil explains that, “Paramedic Mahmoud Tararya arrived in a Palestinian Red Crescent Society ambulance and said he found Omer semiconscious with bruises on his neck and chest. Tararya said Israeli security officers were asking Omer to sign “some sort of form written in Hebrew. The paramedic said he intervened, separated Omer from the soldiers and loaded him into the ambulance, where he remained semiconscious for most of the trip to a hospital.”

Khalil notes in his article that Richard Falk, the U.N. human rights official wrote to Verhagen, the Minster of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands and stated: “I have checked out Mr. Omer’s credibility and narrative of events, and I find them fully credible and accurate.”

Recovering mentally and physically from torture and interrogation is far from easy. This should not happen to anyone. My objective is for my case to focus attention on universal human rights, the right of freedom of expression and freedom of movement. There are places in this world where these freedoms do not exist. Israel insists it is not one of those places, but both the government and the complicity of individual journalists in covering up what they did to me prove otherwise. Ironically, the day the Shin Bet chose to detain, interrogate and torture me — June 26 — is the date set aside by human rights groups as the International Day Against Torture.

the situation with gaza, while different from the west bank, 1948 palestine, and palestinian refugees outside of the region can be solved–indeed all of the above problems can be solved with the same solution: the right of return for palestinian refugees. when palestinian refugees are granted the right of return there will be no more problems with the zionst terrorist colonists putting palestinians in prison. there will be no more problems with them controlling the borders and torturing palestinians. this is what palestinians want and this boycott, divestment, and sanctions (bds) is one of the main methods they are using to seek this desired and long overlooked right. in the last month or two i’ve been trying to seek new signatures for the u.s. campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of israel. i had an email conversation with norman finkelstein, whose academic work i admire so much and whose work has been fundamental my own research project. he told me that he speaks about bds when he gives talks, but that he thinks ending the siege of gaza is more urgent. while i agree that the situation in gaza is urgent, i also think that the underlying core issue is the right of return given that the majority of the population in gaza are refugees for starters. ending the siege of gaza is necessary, but it is only a small part of the solving the problem. the larger issue is liberating palestinian land and fighting for the right of all palestinians to return to their homes and land. period. he asked me if i would help organize a protest in the west bank in coordination with his new year’s convergence on gaza and i told him that i would share the information, but that the people i know would rather energy be spent on bds and and right of return. and then i saw the new facebook group for the march and changed my mind. below is the image associated with the group:

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i do not know if norman helped to create this image or agreed to it. but this image is highly offensive to me. to me this image says that this march is about norman and not about the people of gaza who are featured only as silhouettes in the background below the white man who is the only subject featured prominently in this image. it reminded me of his talk in shatila refugee camp in lebanon a couple of years ago when he said, one the one hand, that it is up to palestinians to decide their own fate, but on the other hand that they should agree to a two-state solution and give up the right of return to their original homes and land. the people in the camp were incredibly irate as you might imagine. it seems that when norman was in gaza a couple of months ago at least some people had a similar reaction to his discourse as an activist, though not as a scholar. natalie abou shakra has two posts about this in relation to the march as well. the first one is entitled “the white man teaches the native”:

SO, did I not tell you about Mr. Finkelstein’s discovery of civil resistance and suddenly teaching the Palestinians… “how to fight”?
Off the record, Mr. Finkelstein: the first twenty years of the Palestinian struggle was a civil, non-violent resistance. After 1967, Palestinian civil resistance went hand in hand with armed struggle…
What a disappointment:

and here is her second post entitled “tarzan in africa”:

So, Norman Finkelstein visited the Gaza Strip around a month ago with the Code Pink delegation that came in via the Rafeh Crossing.

Norman Finkelstein in “my” opinion is an excellent researcher, his books on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict are widely read…
But, when Norman Finkelstein visited Gaza, “I” [and many other Palestinian intellectuals and political analysts] were… dissapointed.

Norman Finkelstein spoke to Hamas officials in Gaza, and told them “what they have to do,” to… “turn down the rhetoric,” and accept the two-prison- oops- I mean the “two-state” solution.

Norman Finkelstein decided to call for a breaking of the siege by US citizens coming into Gaza marching to the Beit Hanoun Crossing [known as Erez Crossing on the Israeli side]. So, Norman Finkelstein comes to Gaza for… four days and he: takes on the leadership of the Palestinian civil resistance.

Now… don’t get me wrong. “We” welcome any initiative to break this medieval, hermetic siege on Gaza. I mean, if Norman Finkelstein is capable of organizing a march that can manage the oppressive, totalitarian, dictatorial Egyptian regime, open the Rafeh Crossing, break the Apartheid wall, then go to “Erez” to break the siege- we support him!

However, the siege is part of a political umbrella.

The BDS movement shows nowhere on the radar of Norman Finkelstein.

Norman Finkelstein did not show any support for the inalienable right of return for the six million refugees, the core of the… “conflict.”

Norman Finkelstein did not admit to the fact that the two-prison solution is a… racist solution, a 19th century idea which does NOT support the INALIENABLE right of return.

Norman Finkelstein: Israel is an occupation; it is the longest occupation the 20th century has witnessed, of the WB and GS, it is a colonization, and is an Apartheid; against the 1948 indigenous population, not to mention its Bantustanization of the GS and WB.
In the last genocidal war against the Palestinians, more than 93% of the Israeli citizens supported war crimes in Gaza. “Israel now looks very much like Germany in the 1930s” says Gideon Levy from Ha’aretz.

“I” mean: who supported a two state solution in Apartheid South Africa? A state for the Black and a state for the… White?
Norman Finkelstein must choose a side: with oppression or against oppression.

Uri Avnery, Peace Now, patronizingly will reply back saying he accepts the return of only… 20,000 refugees. He is anti-BDS and anti-ROR [right of return]. He is… a “leftist” Zionist… from when does the “left” accept a … religious state? [or state to begin with]. He is like the “master” who decides. “I” mean… am “I” stupid? How can a democratic state exist when it has a… religious identity?! I must be really stupid here Uri, I mean… for me not to understand your “democracy.”

Israel must transfer to a secular, democratic state a la South Africa.

Meaning: a state for ALL of its citizens disregarding gender, race or religion.

I mean… I am really dissapointed with Norman Finkelstein’s visit to Gaza.

As soon as PACBI was founded in 2004, the Knesset formed a committee which included Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni and Benjamin Netanyahu, with Uri Avnery behind the curtains, to counteract it.

The worst thing to hear right now is…”let the Palestinians decide what their fate will be.” Really? Was that the case with South Afica? The BDS and One Democratic state are UNIVERSALISTIC in their slogans: social justice, secularism, democracy…

In South Africa, no one said okay for Bantustans!

When Norman Finkelstein came forward after an ISM Gaza talk in the Commodore Hotel in the port area in Gaza, he said “gather up students from the US group, and let them get on the borders with cameras- let’s see if their [Israeli soldiers] are going to shoot when America is watching!”

Norman… you completely neglect the Palestinian civil resistance that existed since… 1936. Yes, I assure you. We, Arabs did have that going on. But, will the White man ever challenge his standards of “us”?

If Norman Finkelstein flirts with Zionism… then?

here is one of the many examples of why the situation in gaza needs to be dealt with in a way that recognizes the issue of the right of return that would help all palestinians in the long-term. abd al-rahman talakeh was arrested for “infiltrating” his own land, though he was born as a refugee in gaza. this news item illustrates the way in which prisoners, gaza, and the right of return is all connected and why the right of return is the only solution to all of the above problems:

A Palestinian from Gaza was indicted in an Israeli court on “terrorism” and “infiltration” charges Sunday, according to the country’s Prime Minister’s Office.

In a statement to Ma’an, Israel claimed that the Palestinian refugee, Abd Al-Rahman Talalkeh, was arrested in the Negev desert on 1 June after having left Gaza and entered Israel via the Sinai Peninsula.

He was indicted at a Beersheba court in the Negev, which was both the target of the alleged “infiltration” as well as the prior residence of 16,000 refugees who pre-Israel Zionist militants expelled to the An-Nuseirat camp in Gaza, where Talkalkeh was born in 1984.

Israel alleged that the young Palestinian said he received military training by the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza, intended to establish “a terrorism infrastructure inside Israel,” and was well-versed on the use of a variety of weapons.

The Popular Resistance Committees did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

but the issue with norman finkelstein reminds me of why it is important to listen to those you work with so that you are not imposing your will on them, so that you are working in solidarity to help people realize their goals and rights and dreams. naomi klein, who has been speaking out on bds recently, including when she was just here also shows the limits of even those supporting boycott. although i also love her writing, i was quite disturbed when i saw her talking in bil’in and when she somehow managed to rationalize the fact that she was wearing shoes made in the zionist terrorist colonist regime. i mean, does one really need shoes that are identical to birkenstocks? is that really so hard to boycott? here she is rationalizing away:

unlike klein i think that boycott must be across the board. no exceptions. right of return. no exceptions. i wish that these white folks who are famous, who have a wider audience would get behind these two fundamentally important aspects of palestinian resistance. they have the power to influence so many people and i think that listening to refugees and to the larger civil society in palestine is the only way to act as foreigners, as white people who want to see rights realized in palestine. is that really too much to ask?

on meddling and hypocrisy in iran

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

… But who nevertheless

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

I hear your objection though:

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

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

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

Ask questions more than you volunteer answers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“we’re not racists, we just don’t want arabs” so say zionist terrorist colonists

if you saw my post earlier today with the video from max blumenthal than you know how zionist terrorist colonists openly express their racism verbally. it is normal. the problem is that it is normally associated with extreme violence as well. just now a palestinian, who was on his way home from work, was attacked while racial slurs were being hurled at him. of course, this won’t be described as terrorism in the media and likely few sources other than imemc will report it:

A 20-year old Palestinian man from Jerusalem was wounded on Thursday at night after he was attacked by a group of extremist settlers.

Resident Husam Al Za’tary, from Jerusalem, works at a bakery in West Jerusalem. He was attacked while waiting at a bus stop as he was heading back home.

He was approached by a group of young settlers who first insulted him for “being an Arab”, and then violently attacked him, and were even joined later on by another group of settlers, students of a Talmud School in the area.

An armed school guard also took part in the attack, and pointed his gun at the head of the Palestinian man threatening to kill him.

The man was later on hospitalized at an Arab hospital in the city.

there were more examples of racism in the news today coming from zionist terrorist colonists in jaleel. check out this article by eli ashkenazi in ha’aretz showing “liberal” zionist terrorist colonists who think “we’re not racists, we just don’t want arabs” and imagine any other category being inserted into that sentence and how the world’s reaction might differ:

Residents of the Misgav bloc of communities in the Galilee consider themselves to be liberal, peace-loving people who support coexistence with their Arab neighbors and even root for Bnei Sakhnin, the soccer club based in a nearby Arab town considered a prominent symbol of that community. Which is why they were shocked this week when proposals raised at local council meetings to accept only applicants who shared their Zionist principles drew negative headlines and criticism for alleged racism.

“The label upsets me,” South Africa-born lawyer Michael Zetler, who founded the Misgav community of Manof in 1980 with other immigrants from what was then an apartheid state, said Thursday. “It hurt me. I am not a racist.”

Although few people will say so, the panic that spurred the submission of the controversial proposals are related to the High Court of Justice’s ruling two years ago that upheld the right of Ahmed and Fahina Zubeidat, an Israeli Arab couple, to buy a house in the exclusively Jewish community of Rakefet notwithstanding the local admissions committee’s objection.

Since then, some residents of Jewish communal settlements in the Galilee fear that the region’s substantial Arab population might seek to buy property in their communities, where the standard of living is far higher, causing Jews to move out. In some areas of the Galilee this has already taken place: Portions of the once-exclusively Jewish town of Upper Nazareth are now populated by newcomers from the nearby Arab city of Nazareth.

“I agree that there is a problem, but whether this is the right way to deal with it, I am not sure,” Zetler said yesterday. “Experience will tell. But there is a problem in the Galilee and people are challenging the political right of [Jewish] communities.”

Residents of the Misgav bloc are not used to being accused of racism, and dismay at being compared to Jewish settlers in the West Bank. “It’s unpleasant and even offensive to wake up one morning and find that you’ve turned into [Avigdor] Lieberman when in fact it’s the other way around,” Alon Mayer, another resident of Manof, said, referring to the hawkish Yisrael Beiteinu chairman who proposed that Israeli Arabs be required to take an oath of loyalty to the state.

Mayer pointed out that the right-wing party headed by Lieberman garnered only 2.5 percent of the town’s vote in the last Knesset elections – far below the national average. Despite feeling on the defensive, Mayer will not apologize for supporting the demand that applicants who seek to buy property in the communal settlement should adhere to the locals’ basic cultural and political beliefs.

“When we decided to move to Manof, we sought a community that chose similar basic principles to our own, such as good education for children, culture, celebrating a Jewish communal lifestyle and protecting the environment,” a woman from Manof said. “We joined this community knowing it is founded on these values.”

Some Misgav bloc residents accuse Arab rights groups such as Adalah, which would rather Israel be defined as a binational state than a Jewish one and championed the Zubeidats’ cause in the courts, of intentionally causing provocations. “An Arab narrative exists that proclaims ‘we were not conquered, we did not desert,'” said Danny Ivri, a resident of the Misgav bloc community Yodfat. “They say ‘we were manipulated in various ways, such as through military rule and suppressing our development by placing Jewish communities between our own communities.”

Misgav bloc residents also fear increased tensions that could result from Arabs and Jews living in close proximity, and point at the occasional spurts of sectarian violence that break out in nearby non-Jewish towns between Muslims, Druze and Christians. “You can’t impose a demographic mix on us that will recreate the sort of friction between Muslims, Christians and Druze that exists in Maghar, Peki’in and Rameh,” Mayer said, referring to cities prone to periodic unrest. “High Court justices don’t understand what it’s like to live in a small community which was founded with great hardships, a community which is trying to hold on to a certain way of life.”

A few weeks ago a ceremony was held in Yuvalim, the largest town in the Misgav bloc, which exemplified its inveterate ties to the state of Israel. The regional council unveiled a promenade in memory of slain Israel Defense Forces soldier Arbel Reich, whose father was among Yuvalim’s founders.

“It was an emotional ceremony,” recalled regional council head Ron Shani. “This event was part of the community’s narrative, part of its spirit, just like the fact that we educate our children to serve in combat units. That’s what it’s like here and we’re proud of that.

“A resident who wishes to join Yuvalim will have to feel comfortable at such a ceremony, and if not he can go elsewhere, where he wouldn’t be offended,” he said.

it is in this context of racism that it is worth watching writer alice walker’s three-part interview with anjali kamat of democracy now! while she was in gaza a couple of months ago. she compares the treatment of palestinians to african americans under legal jim crow segregation, which she fought against in the civil rights movement. the problem with this interview is that walker at once refuses to acknowledge palestinians’ right to armed resistance and is patronizing when she talks about the need for palestinians to take up non-violent resistance and at the same time when she is asked directly about the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement she does not commit to supporting that non-violent resistance strategy either.

it is also racism, of course, that created the savaging of gaza to begin with and that continues the siege that affects the 1.5 million palestinians living there. irin news is reporting yet again on the hurdles palestinians rebuilding must deal with:

In the face of the ongoing Israeli ban on imports of building materials Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are looking at new building methods, and one project is using clay and rubble.

Local Palestinian NGO Mercy Association for Children began building a school for handicapped children in Gaza City on 24 May to test a recently developed method using clay blocks, salt and rubble – with the source material coming mainly from the hundreds of buildings demolished during the Israeli offensive (27 December 2008 – 18 January 2009).

Fourteen construction workers on the 5,000 square metre building site in the Shujayah neighbourhood of the city haul buckets of clay for moulding into large blocks from which the structure, with its domed ceiling, will be made.

“If the school, upon completion, proves structurally sound we will move forward with other construction projects in Gaza,” said lead engineer Maher Batroukh of the Mercy Association for Children. “The school is the first building of its kind in Gaza.”

The three-storey school, occupying about 1,025 square metres, will contain no steel, cement or concrete, said Batroukh.

here is an idea of what these new mud-brick homes look like–they are just amazing looking and so much more practical in terms of climate and available materials than ordinary homes here:

the “war on terror”: creating refugees one village at a time

tam tam and i have been planning a trip we want to take next summer. we’ve been thinking about where we want to go and who might want to join us. one of the criteria we have agreed on is that the place we go cannot be involved in or complicit with any colonial or imperial adventures. and, as you can imagine, this leaves out a number of places in the world. for instance, in nancy better’s article in the new york times today seems to be reporting that americans should take their summer vacations in the zionist entity (a place where tam tam is not allowed to visit because she is a palestinian refugee in lebanon):

Our Golan Heights excursion unleashed a torrent of questions about the war for independence and Israel’s 1948 declaration of statehood. We found answers at the Ayalon Institute, formerly a clandestine munitions factory built by the Haganah (the pre-independence armed forces) under a kibbutz near Tel Aviv. Restored and opened to the public, the institute is not mentioned in many guidebooks and gets little press. Yet Charlie — who devours detective novels and has twice toured the International Spy Museum in Washington — declared it his favorite site.

The place conveys a real sense of danger; had the Haganah members been discovered, they would have been hanged. The factory operations were concealed by a bakery and laundry; a 10-ton oven and a large washing machine hid entrances to the shop floor, which housed as many as 50 workers who, at the peak, produced 40,000 bullets a day. The noise of the washing machines camouflaged the din of the manufacturing process below ground.

David was especially fascinated by the sunlamps that munitions workers used to get an artificial tan. “It’s like an alibi,” our guide explained. “They pretended to leave the kibbutz each morning to work on a neighboring farm and then they sneaked back into the factory to make bullets. People would be suspicious if they looked too pale.”

Next we traveled to Akko, site of a medieval Crusaders’ fortress and later an Ottoman citadel. When the Turks were defeated by the British in 1918, the fortress became a high-security prison that held Jewish freedom fighters. Today the Underground Prisoners Memorial Museum pays tribute to them. A gloomy, ominous air hangs over the prison cells, with their thick stone walls, iron bars and narrow windows. Our group was mesmerized by the gallows room, with a noose centered over a trapdoor in the floor.

the above is just a sample of what the article says. you may click the link and read the entire piece and in it you will not find one use of the word palestine or palestinian. there’s no mention of the fact that akka is a palestinian city and that those so-called “jewish freedom fighters” were and are terrorists who massacred palestinians, stole their land, and created 750,000 refugees. there is no mention of syria either in their little excursion to occupied golan.

conversely, adrian bridge’s recent article in the telegraph on sri lankan tourism talks about the tamils, although as if they are only resistance fighters and not a massive civilian population massacred and made into refugees:

With the fighting still fresh, outrage over the number of civilians killed and fears that pockets of Tamil Tiger fighters may continue with terrorist attacks, the Foreign Office continues to advise against all travel to the north and east of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka travel experts, however, hope that in the long term, the ending of the 26-year-long civil war will signal a fresh start for tourism in what is potentially one of the most attractive holiday destinations in Asia.

“This is a good step forward but we have to be cautiously optimistic; there is still a lot of work to be done to bring about a true peace,” said Jean-Marc Flambert, who promotes a number of hotels in Sri Lanka.

“But in fact the best beaches on the island are on the east coast. Also, with the rainy season there coming at a different time to the rain in the south and west it could turn Sri Lanka into a year round destination.”

the above link came to me via the amazing rapper @_m_i_a_ on twitter (aka maya arulpragasam) and her perfect tweet in response to the article was:

I SAY YEAH … IF U like swimming in blood and hiking and biking on mass graves and eating chemically contaminated fried fish for lunch.

the problem with this story about sri lanka and its war against a civilian tamil population is that even news sources like al jazeera continue to report in a decidedly biased way. take this report by tony birtley on al jazeera today in which he says that 17,000 tamil fighters were killed:

tamil net gives us rather different figures:

Sea Tiger Special Commander of the LTTE, Col. Soosai Sunday noon said that around 25,000 civilians injured in the artillery attack of Sri Lanka Army are dead and dying now without receiving medical attention. The LTTE has repeatedly requested the ICRC through Mr. Pathmanathan to evacuate the injured through Vadduvaakal or Iraddaivaaikkaal, but there was no IC response. Within a 2 square kilometre area, there are dead bodies everywhere while the remaining thousands are in bunkers amidst the use of every kind of weapon by Colombo’s forces. The SLA is not even allowing the people to flee but prefers to fire at them, Soosai said.

for people who want some background on the conflict al jazeera put up a time line on their website starting from sri lanka’s independence from british rule–1948 (yes, the british “leave” one colony and ensure the existence of a new one in the same year)–through the recent genocide. additionally the conversation on democracy now! yesterday between anjali kamat and ahilan kadirgamar that provided some context that doesn’t demonize tamils seeking liberation:

i think that the above interview is important for the way it reveals the orwellian language used by the sri lankan government in which internment camps become “welfare centers.” all of this has been enhanced and made possible by the u.s. exporting of the so-called “war on terror” in which any government wanting to clamp down on resistance groups can commit massacres and genocide and get away with it.

suren surendiran’s article in the guardian today gives us some further context and a broader understanding of the toll this has taken on the tamil people of sri lanka:

Sri Lankan military killed thousands of Tamil civilians over the past few months (not to mention the years before) using the full might of its fire power by way of artillery and air strikes. It has, with intent, starved its own people by refusing to send food and medicine in sufficient quantities and in adequate frequencies.

Crucially, this genocide by the Sri Lankan state has been enabled by the international community, including Britain.

What is deeply disappointing is the fact that powerful liberal states which have long espoused human rights, the Geneva conventions and, most recently, the responsibility to protect, have all allowed thousands of innocent lives to be lost unnecessarily and with full knowledge.

The slaughter went on every day, with many women and children being killed not just by the shelling but due to starvation and lack of medical care. Yet the international response, especially those of the UN and western liberal states, has been pathetic. Mere statements after statements were released by heads of states like Gordon Brown and Barack Obama and institutions such as the UN, EU and various non-governmental organisations such as Amnesty, HRW and Crisis Group. No one showed real leadership in stopping this genocide which took place in broad daylight.

Even now thousands of displaced young Tamils are being abducted and disappeared, the wounded and injured are not given medical care and families are separated and abused in overcrowded barbed-wire-fenced camps. Thousands are still lining up at check points which have no independent observers present. International media has no way of reporting without government interference.

Sri Lanka is conducting this war beyond its means. Its economy is in a mess due to mismanagement, as stated by the World Bank. Sri Lanka’s Central Bank is seeking an emergency loan from the IMF due to its fast depleting reserves. Yet, year on year defence budget has been consistently rising by huge percentages. Regional powers and others have assisted financially and otherwise to continue with this government’s war with its own people. Unemployed youth from Sri Lanka’s rural south who could be put to more constructive development use were being used for destruction and killing.

Pretending to promote human rights and high moral values, western governments are turning a blind eye to the state terrorism in Sri Lanka, but also incentivising such horrendous violations by granting large sums in loans and grants. Hypocrisy of the international community is obvious as they argue any sanctions against such financial assistance will hurt the wider economy of Sri Lanka. The same wasn’t true it seems for the poor Zimbabweans or the Palestinians of Gaza City.

of course, i wrote the other day about the zionist entity providing sri lanka with its weapons in order to carry out this genocide. the genocide may be over in sri lanka, but the trauma will not be over for a long time. nor will the refugees lead a normal life for some time to come either. and while this massive refugee crisis comes to a head the one in pakistan just continues to worsen also because of a so-called “war on terror” instigated by americans. unhcr is now reporting that refugees may be reaching 1 million:

The number of displaced people registered since May 2 by authorities with help from UNHCR climbed above the 1 million mark over the weekend and continues to rise rapidly. Most of the displaced are staying with relatives or friends, placing huge economic and social strains on the country. More than 130,000 others are staying in camps supported by UNHCR. The 1.17 million recently registered join another 555,000 Pakistanis displaced in earlier fighting since last August.

and for those who need reminding that this is a united states-made war on the civilian population of pakistan, the u.s. bombed the region yet again this week as alamgir bitani reported in the independent:

A bomb blew up in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar on today killing 10 people, hours after a suspected US drone aircraft fired missiles at militants in another region on the Afghan border and killed 10.

The violence came as the Pakistani military battled Taliban militants in a northwestern valley in an offensive that has forced more than 900,000 people from their homes.

The blast in Peshawar blew up a passing school bus and city police chief Sifwat Ghayyur said four children and two women were among the dead.

“It was a remote controlled bomb. Ten people have been killed and 18 wounded,” Ghayyur told Reuters.

according to mainstream american news media, they are praising these actions in pakistan calling them “effective” on cnn as reported in common dreams:

U.S. airstrikes aimed at al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan have been “very effective,” with few civilian deaths as a result, CIA Director Leon Panetta said Monday in a rare public acknowledgment of the raids.

Asked about criticism of the missile attacks by counterinsurgency experts, Panetta said he did not want to discuss specifics, “but I can assure you that in terms of that particular area, it is very precise and is very limited in terms of collateral damage.”

“Very frankly, it’s the only game in town in terms of confronting or trying to disrupt the al Qaeda leadership,” Panetta told the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles.

i just wonder what is effective about creating 1 million refugees? bombing civilian villages? sowing the seeds of future generations who will seek justice for sure and perhaps vengeance. though who knows because the media campaign in pakistan seems to be as mythologizing as the american media with respect to distancing the war from the united states as declan walsh reported in the guardian the other day:

The human exodus from the war-torn Swat valley in northern Pakistan is turning into the world’s most dramatic displacement crisis since the Rwandan genocide of 1994, the UN refugee agency warned.

Almost 1.5 million people have registered for assistance since fighting erupted three weeks ago, the UNHCR said, bringing the total number of war displaced in North West Frontier province to more than 2 million, not including 300,000 the provincial government believes have not registered. “It’s been a long time since there has been a displacement this big,” the UNHCR’s spokesman Ron Redmond said in Geneva, trying to recall the last time so many people had been uprooted so quickly. “It could go back to Rwanda.”

The army reported fierce clashes across Swat, a tourist haven turned Taliban stronghold. After a week of intense aerial bombardment with fighter jets and helicopter gunships the army has launched a ground offensive to drive out the militants to rout the militants from the valley. Commandos pushed through the remote Piochar valley, seizing a training centre and killing a dozen Taliban, a military spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas, said. Gun battles erupted in several villages surrounding Mingora, Swat’s main town. Abbas said the military had killed 27 militants, including three commanders, and lost three members of the security forces. The figures could not be verified, as Swat has been largely cut off since the operation started.

The Taliban leader in Swat, Maulana Fazlullah, remains at large. His spokesman vowed the rebels would fight until their “last breath”.

The operation continues to enjoy broad public support. Opposition parties endorsed the action at a conference called by the government, dispelling the notion that the army was fighting “America’s war”.

farooq sulehria has a great piece in dissident voice on the way that this media and military campaign has been playing out in pakistan, and here is the upshot:

Over 700 people have been killed in U.S. drone attacks on Pakistan since 2006, with 164 killed in 14 attacks under Obama’s watch. These drone attacks are further fueling anti-U.S. sentiments.

Instead of finding an exit strategy in Afghanistan, the Obama administration is practicing an Iraq-style surge. But it is U.S. presence in the region that will sustain the conditions that breed Talbanisation. The longer the USA stays in Afghanistan, the longer the Taliban’s defeat will be delayed and the suffering of the poor masses prolonged. For those lucky enough to survive bombs dropped by the Pakistan military in Swat, they will also have to deal with the possibility of having their throats slit by Taliban hit squads. Or they have the option to become refugees in their own country.

and just like the american support for the zionist entity when it gives it massive bombs to pound gaza (which it is doing as i type, by the way) and then gives money to rebuild gaza (which it only pledged, it never actually gave the money), the americans are paying to bomb pakistan and now paying to supposedly help the refugees:

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has pledged $110m in humanitarian aid to Pakistan as part of Washington’s new strategy for helping Islamabad counter Taliban’s growing influence.

Clinton announced the aid package during a press conference at the White House on Tuesday.

She said the money is meant to ease the plight of at least two million Pakistanis who have fled fighting in the country’s Swat valley and are living in squalid tent cities.

US officials said $100m in aid would flow from Clinton’s state department and the other $10m will come from the defence department.

on somali pirates

i can only imagine what sort of f*&$)# up narratives are circulating the u.s. media right now about somali pirates. so i thought i would share some points of view which are refreshing and smart in their analysis of the situation. the first comes from the fabulous rapper k’naan who is from somalia but who lives in kenya. he wrote the following which was published in the san francisco bay news and which provides some much needed historical context:

The news media these days have been covering piracy on the Somali coast with such lopsided journalism that it’s lucky they’re not on a ship themselves. It’s true that the constant hijacking of vessels in the Gulf of Aden is a major threat to the vibrant trade route between Asia and Europe. It is also true that for most of the pirates operating in this vast shoreline, money is the primary objective.

But according to so many Somalis, the disruption of Europe’s darling of a trade route is just Karma biting a perpetrator in the butt. And if you don’t believe in Karma, maybe you believe in recent history. Here is why we Somalis find ourselves slightly shy of condemning our pirates.

Somalia has been without any form of a functioning government since 1991. And although its failures, like many other toddler governments in Africa, spring from the wells of post-colonial independence, bad governance and development loan sharks, the specific problem of piracy was put in motion in 1992.

After the overthrow of Siyad Barre, our charmless dictator of 20-some-odd years, two major forces of the Hawiye Clan came to power. At the time, Ali Mahdi and Gen. Mohamed Farah Aidid, the two leaders of the Hawiye rebels, were largely considered liberators. But the unity of the two men and their respective sub-clans was very short-lived. It’s as if they were dumbstruck at the advent of ousting the dictator, or that they just forgot to discuss who will be the leader of the country once they defeated their common foe.

A disagreement of who will upgrade from militia leader to Mr. President broke up their honeymoon. It’s because of this disagreement that we’ve seen one of the most decomposing wars in Somalia’s history, leading to millions displaced and hundreds of thousands dead.

But war is expensive and militias need food for their families and Jaad (an amphetamine-based stimulant) to stay awake for the fighting.

Therefore, a good clan-based warlord must look out for his own fighters. Aidid’s men turned to robbing aid trucks carrying food to the starving masses and re-selling it to continue their war. But Ali Mahdi had his sights set on a larger and more unexploited resource, namely the Indian Ocean.

Already by this time, local fishermen in the coastline of Somalia had been complaining of illegal vessels coming to Somali waters and stealing all the fish. And since there was no government to report it to, and since the severity of the violence clumsily overshadowed every other problem, the fishermen went completely unheard.

But it was around this same time that a more sinister, a more patronizing practice was being put in motion. A Swiss firm called Achair Partners and an Italian waste company called Progresso made a deal with Ali Mahdi that they were to dump containers of waste material in Somali waters. These European companies were said to be paying warlords about $3 a ton, whereas to properly dispose of waste in Europe costs about $1,000 a ton.

In 2004, after a tsunami washed ashore several leaking containers, thousand of locals in the Puntland region of Somalia started to complain of severe and previously unreported ailments, such as abdominal bleeding, skin melting off and a lot of immediate cancer-like symptoms. Nick Nuttall, a spokesman for the United Nations Environmental Program, says that the containers had many different kinds of waste, including “uranium, radioactive waste, lead, cadmium, mercury and chemical waste.”

But this wasn’t just a passing evil from one or two groups taking advantage of our unprotected waters. The U.N. envoy for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, says that the practice still continues to this day. It was months after those initial reports that local fishermen mobilized themselves, along with street militias, to go into the waters and deter the Westerners from having a free pass at completely destroying Somalia’s aquatic life.

Now, years later, the deterring has become less noble, and the ex-fishermen with their militias have begun to develop a taste for ransom at sea. This form of piracy is now a major contributor to the Somali economy, especially in the very region that private toxic waste companies first began to bury our nation’s death trap.

Now Somalia has upped the world’s pirate attacks by over 21 percent in one year, and while NATO and the EU are both sending forces to the Somali coast to try and slow down the attacks, Blackwater and all kinds of private security firms are intent on cashing in.

But while Europeans are well within their rights to protect their trade interest in the region, our pirates were the only deterrent we had from an externally imposed environmental disaster. No one can say for sure that some of the ships they are now holding for ransom were not involved in illegal activity in our waters.

The truth is, if you ask any Somali, if getting rid of the pirates only means the continuous rape of our coast by unmonitored Western vessels and the producing of a new cancerous generation, we would all fly our pirate flags high.

It is time that the world gave the Somali people some assurance that these Western illegal activities will end if our pirates are to cease their operations. We do not want the EU and NATO serving as a shield for these nuclear waste-dumping hoodlums.

It seems to me that this new modern crisis is truly a question of justice, but also a question of whose justice. As is apparent these days, one man’s pirate is another man’s coast guard.

word.

here is k’naan talking about the nuclear toxic waste on hard knock tv:

notice what he says: “i would say if you want the piracy to stop, stop dumping nuclear toxic waste in our country.”

and here is an episode of al jazeera’s “people and power” that investigates arms trafficking and that toxic waste dumped on somalia’s shores:

jeremy scahill has an excellent piece in the socialist worker today on the obama response to the recent american attack on somali pirates in which he ponders what the u.s. response will be now as well as what they will do with the somali man they are holding in custody:

There are certain to be calls from bloodthirsty lunatics to send this Somali man to Guantánamo or Bagram, with right-wingers like Newt Gingrich and Cal Thomas wrapping this into their tired “Obama is weak on terror” narrative. As Thomas wrote last week on the Fox News Web site:

What will the Obama administration do if the pirates are captured alive? He won’t sent them to Gitmo, which he is closing down. Will they get ACLU lawyers? Will there be testimony from a “pirates rights” group? Will they be released on a technicality after a trial in U.S. courts?

If there is not as forceful a response as there was during the Jefferson administration, it will invite more of these incidents. The world’s tyrants are watching to see how President Obama reacts. The message they get will determine how they respond to America and whether we will be in greater peril.

Indeed, the Wall Street Journal on Sunday called for the Somali man in custody to be “transferred to Guantánamo and held as an ‘enemy combatant,’ or whatever the Obama administration prefers to call terrorists.” On this point, Horton points out an interesting distinction between the Obama and Bush administration positions on “pirates,” particularly as it relates to the “terrorist” label.

The big legal issue is around calling them “terrorists,” which the Bushies did with regularity and Obama resisted. I think that Obama and his people are correct. These people were motivated by the desire to make money, pure and simple, which makes them conventional pirates. If they were labeled “terrorists,” the insurance company and the ship charter company wouldn’t be able to negotiate with them or make a payment. Pirates they can still pay off, which will often be the most sensible and least costly solution.

If the U.S. decides to pursue prosecution of the Somali “pirate” in custody in a U.S. court, he would hopefully have a right to a defense (which would clearly enrage the crazies) and the nature of that defense could well depend on what type of legal counsel he ends up with and how his lawyers present the motives of his actions, as described to them, in attempting to seize the Maersk Alabama.

This could be a major test of Obama’s legal interpretation of the rights of prisoners taken by the U.S. in unusual circumstances (to put it mildly). In an era when due process has been trashed in the U.S. and prisoners have been tortured at CIA “black sites” and held without trial for years at Guantánamo and elsewhere, Obama should allow exactly what Thomas and his ilk fear so much–respect for the legal rights of prisoners held by the U.S.

scahill added some bits to this on his blog–i am so elated to see he finally has a blog as his voice is so needed more than ever:

But the Obama administration has convened a special group on Somalia—even before the “pirate” crisis blew up publicly. And it isn’t just the “pirate bases” being looked at for potential military action. The Washington Post reported on Saturday:

Senior Obama administration officials are debating how to address a potential terrorist threat to U.S. interests from a Somali extremist group, with some in the military advocating strikes against its training camps. But many officials maintain that uncertainty about the intentions of the al-Shabab organization dictates a more patient, nonmilitary approach.

Al-Shabab, whose fighters have battled Ethiopian occupiers and the tenuous Somali government, poses a dilemma for the administration, according to several senior national security officials who outlined the debate only on the condition of anonymity.

All of these developments in Somalia and the Horn of Africa come amidst a growing US military presence on the continent through the US military command known as AFRICOM. In late 2006, US-backed Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia and overthrew the government in an operation that was framed in the rhetoric of the “war on terror.” The invasion resulted in an estimated 10,000 deaths and more than one million Somali refugees.

it is worth noting, too, that ken quinn, one of the americans who was on the ship the other day had this to say about somali pirates:

Quinn told reporters the experience was “terrifying and exciting at the same time.” Asked what he thought of the pirates who seized the boat, Quinn said: “They’re just hungry.”

for more background on the somali pirates you can watch/listen to an interview with mohamed abshir waldo on democracy now! today. and you can read his article in which he historicizes much of this issue as well as offers some solutions:

The EU, NATO and US Navies can, of course, Rambo and obliterate the fishermen pirates and their supporting coastal communities but that would be illegal, criminal act. Yet, it may temporarily reduce the intensity of the shipping piracy but it would not result in a long-term solution of the problem. The risk of loss of life of foreign crews and ecological impact of major oil spill would be a marine catastrophe of gigantic proportions for the whole coastal regions of East Africa and the Gulf of Aden. In their current operations, the Somali fishermen pirates genuinely believe that they are protecting their fishing grounds (both 12-mile territorial and EEZ waters). They also feel that they exacting justice and compensation for the marine resources stolen and the destroyed ecosystem by the IUUs. And their thinking is shared and fully supported by the coastal communities, whose protectors and providers they became.

The matter needs careful review and better understanding of the local environment. The piracy is based on local problems and it requires a number of comprehensive joint local and external partners approaches.

Firstly, practical and lasting solution lies in jointly addressing the twin problems of the shipping piracy and the illegal fishing piracy, the root cause of the crisis.

Secondly, the national institutional crisis should be reviewed along with the piracy issues.

Thirdly, local institutions should be involved and supported, particularly by helping to form coastguards, training and coastguard facilities. These may sound asking too much to donors and UN agencies. But we should ask what it meant those who paid tens of millions dollars of ransom and their loved ones held hostage for months.

Fourthly, a joint Somali and UN agency like the present ICAO for the Somali airspace should be considered.

finally, isn’t it a bit disingenuous for americans and europeans to rail against somali pirates when there are zionist pirates in palestinian waters attacking palestinians every day? i bet this never made the u.s. media:

6th of April 2009 at 7am: Israeli Naval forces have abducted eight Palestinian fishermen (including two minors) from the Salateen area in north of the Gaza Strip. Additionally, the fishermen’s four hassakas (small fishing boats) have been taken by the Israeli Navy. According to eyewitnesses, the fishermen were only about 100 meters from the coast at the time of their abduction.

Initial information received regarding the fishermen’s details are as follows:

– Esshaq Mohammed Zayed, 45
– Rassam Mohammed Zayed, 25
– Hafez Assad Al Sultan, 25
– Ahmed Assad Al Sultan, 17
– Safwat Zayed Zayed, 35
– Nashaat Zayed Zayed, 10
– Hammada Joma Zayed, 22
– Joma Mollok Zayed, 50

During the last month the Israeli Navy has escalated its attacks against Gazan fishermen by injuring at least three of them, abducting a further 24 fishermen, and stealing 10 hassakas and one shansula fishing boat.

gaza in ruins. still.

democracy now! showed a film yesterday produced by anjali kamat on the economy of gaza called “land in ruins: a special report on gaza’s economy.” it is an amazing film as so many produced by big noise films are and i encourage you to watch the whole thing, but here are some highlights of their words–voices from palestinians and people who work in gaza who are on the ground to give you an inkling about what people there face and what they want–but the film footage gives you the powerful images to go with it:

NAHEELA SAMMOUNI: [translated] All of this is farmland. We used to grow chard, lettuce, turnips, radish, all from here. We’d sell it in the market and get some money to feed our children. Now our land is spoiled. Everything is destroyed. What can we do? We used to have sweet, tart pomegranates behind our home, so many plums, apricots, all right behind our house. Now, the olives, figs, everything is gone. We tended to our plants like our own children, so they would grow and we could eat from them. Now see what they did to us. What did we do wrong?

JOHN GING: There’s going to be no reconstruction in Gaza until the crossing points open. There isn’t a bag of cement coming into Gaza at the moment. We have had to, you know, reopen our schools without conducting the repairs, because there is nothing—there’s no glass to fix the windows or do the basic repairs that are needed. We just have to make safe the area that is damaged and get on.

TUNNEL WORKER: [translated] This work is very difficult. But we have no choice. We have to work in order to eat. If the crossings were open and the goods and cement were coming in, there’s no way I would be doing this. If we work, we eat; if not, we go hungry. This is our only means, our only livelihood. As long as the crossings are closed, there’s no alternative to the tunnels.

ABU OMAR: [translated] We don’t want to beg the world for money. We just want to take those who destroyed our houses to court. If we are really criminals and our houses are terrorist houses, then OK, this is what you get. But if our houses are innocent and our factories are innocent, then the Israelis need to account for what they destroyed. They are the ones who should give us the reparations. Why do we need to rely on the sympathy of the world? We don’t want that. We want the world to stand by our rights. We don’t want their charity, little bits of money and food. We’re full, thank God. We are just asking for our rights, nothing else.

my friend sameh habeeb has a new photo exhibit in vancouver, canada right now called “victims’ victims” with images of gaza that he took during the savagery brought on gaza by israeli terrorists and their american allies. you can see the images by clicking this link. the shots are really powerful: close up, crisp. you should also visit his new newspaper based in gaza, the palestine telegraph. here is one of his moving photographs:

sameh habeeb photo of chickens bombed in gaza
sameh habeeb photo of chickens bombed in gaza

sameh has a blog post on the chickens being bombed entitled “were the chickens firing rockets?” that he wrote during the massacres in gaza that explains the above image.

in the democracy now! report above they did not specifically address the issue of water, but it is a problem in gaza and people do not have access to this either just as they do not have access to food, books, cement, glass, or any basic necessities. irin news has a report on this today:

Over 150,000 Palestinians in Gaza (around 10 percent of the population) are struggling without tap water as a result of the damage caused to wells, pipes and waste water facilities during the recent 23-day Israeli offensive which ended on 18 January.

“Our requests via the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to the Israeli military during the conflict to allow shipments of construction materials and spare parts to repair wells and facilities damaged during the war were denied,” Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) director-general Monther Shoblak told IRIN.

Shoblak estimates that 50,000 people lack tap water after losing their homes, while a further 100,000 have dry taps because of damage to the water supply network.

Eleven of Gaza’s 150 wells, the only source of drinking water for Gaza’s 1.4 million people (apart from expensive bottled water and water trucked in by aid agencies), are not functioning. Six were completely destroyed, according to CMWU.

and imran garda’s “focus on gaza” for al jazeera’s first half was finally posted today. i posted the second half the other day, but here we can see sherine tadros reporting on the situation in beit lahiya as well as the education sector more generally.

on a side note: i saw a tweet from sherine tadros today announcing gerry adams arrival in gaza tomorrow. a couple of hours later this was posted on the zionist entity’s jerusalem post website:

Northern Ireland political leader Gerry Adams will not be allowed to enter Gaza this week because he plans to meet Hamas officials, Israel said Tuesday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel “would not help Adams meet with Hamas terror leaders.”

A spokesman for Adams, Ted Howell, said Adams and his delegation planned to visit Gaza on Wednesday. He said, “we will meet with whoever wants to meet us.”

iraq & palestine

palestinian tent in al ruweished refugee camp, jordan
palestinian tent in al ruweished refugee camp, jordan

having lived in jordan i spent much of my time working with refugees. at the beginning, it was just palestinian refugees living in camps. some had fled in 1948 and some had fled in 1967 when they were ethnically cleansed from their land in palestine. but midway through my year in jordan i read about another refugee camp–a new one–that had a significant number of palestinian refugees in it. this new camp was for people fleeing iraq. and in this camp there were palestinian refugees among them, all of whom had fled their homes for a 3rd or 4th time. al ruweished refugee camp, which also housed a number of other people, including kurds from iraq and iran, is now gone. the families have largely been resettled in canada, northern europe, and south america (there is an electronic intifada article about the resettlement in chile). (i have written about this at length on this blog in earlier posts when i was going to the camp regularly you may search to find out more about this. you can also click here to see more photographs from the camp.) but i was struck by these twin refugees: iraqi and palestinian, both of whom were trapped in jordan under a regime that treated them with hostility. a regime that, for many palestinians, has always conspired against them with the british and then with the zionists. one of my students shared a poem with me today about this. he wrote a poem that talked about jordan as the real enemy of palestinians. but the important thing that both sets of refugees demand their right of return. the sad thing is that both groups who remain in jordan–and elsewhere for that matter–seem to be in despair over whether that right will be something they see in their lifetime. nisreen el-shamayleh did a report for al jazeera from gaza camp in jerash, jordan today on palestinian and iraqi refugees in jordan:

of course there are so many other parallels between the iraqi and palestinian refugees. both are subjected to governments, for instance, that are puppet regimes serving the american and israeli terrorist interests not theirs. neither group is a priority for the regimes in their home countries. and yet here are the puppet presidents meeting today in iraq one promising the other protection. as if!

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has received guarantees that Iraqi leaders will protect Palestinians living in Iraq.

The assurance was given on Sunday during his first visit to the country since the US-led invasion in 2003, which toppled Saddam Hussein from power.

Abbas said that the Iraqi officials he met consider Palestinians living in Iraq to be “part of the Iraqi people, so we believe that they are in safe hands”.

He praised Iraq’s pledge to support Palestinians, but did not publicly mention reports of human-rights abuses against Palestinians living in Iraq.

“We would like to thank the Iraqi government for its concern about Palestinians living in Iraq,” Abbas said after a meeting with Jalal Talabani, his Iraqi counterpart.

Abbas also met Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, in a trip that marked a major step in improved ties between the Baghdad government and the Palestinian leadership.

of course they did not talk about the perilous state of palestinians in iraq or their flight from iraq, or the palestinians still in refugee camps in syria because they had to flee iraq. (see human rights watch’s report on palestinian flight for background on this.) the letter below is one of the reasons for the flight of many palestinian refugee families i met in al ruweished camp. but of course iraq doesn’t protect palestinians in iraq what makes abbas think that maliki is going to protect palestinians in palestine or anywhere else for that matter?

letter threatening palestinins in baghdad forcing them to flee
letter threatening palestinins in baghdad forcing them to flee

there is a great article about palestinian refugees displaced from iraq in electronic intifada by anaheed al-hardan. here is some of the article that provides context for palestinians in iraq, though the rest of the article is worth reading, too:

Umm Nawras generously invited me to her home where I was introduced to Suhaila as well as Amira, their nine-months-pregnant sister-in-law. Amira is a current resident of al-Tanf camp who was given temporary permission to enter Syria in order to give birth and then return to her tent home in al-Tanf as there are no medical facilities in the camp. The family histories of these women are similar to many Palestinians refugees from Iraq.

Like most Palestinian refugees in Iraq, their families were originally from villages in the Haifa district that were ethnically cleansed between May and July 1948 and later wiped off the face of the earth. Furthermore, their families too had first sought refuge in the Jenin, Nablus and Tulkarm areas in the West areas before the retreating Iraqi army withdrew with approximately 5,000 refugees in 1949. However, unlike the fate of the villages of most of the refugees who found themselves in Iraq, Umm Nawras and Suhaila’s families hail from a village that was not demolished owing to its architectural appeal to some in the unit that occupied it: Ayn Hawd today is an “artists’ colony.” The implications and injustice of 1948 could not be crueler, especially when some of the original inhabitants of Ayn Hawd as well as their descendants are languishing in tent-camps yet again.

“When they first brought them to Iraq from Palestine, they put them in Basra, in a place they used to call al-Shuaybah camp,” Umm Nawras explained, referring to where her family, alongside the rest of the new Palestinian arrivals, were first placed in Iraq. Shuaybah was an abandoned British military barrack in the desert south of Basra where the Palestinians were placed under military jurisdiction. Two years later they came under civil jurisdiction and their welfare was relegated to the newly-created Refugee Affairs Department of the Ministry of Interior. They were issued Iraqi travel documents for Palestinian refugees and allowed equal access to health, education and public sector employment. These conditions were generally consistent, with a few exceptions during the various regime changes of Iraq’s post-independence history.

Under civil jurisdiction, the Palestinians were moved between Mosul, Basra and Baghdad, although the overwhelming majority then, as in 2003, were placed in the capital. In Baghdad, the Palestinians were housed in various public buildings until most were placed in complexes: al-Baladiyyat and al-Durra in the 1970s and 1980s, respectively. Some families did remain in the various public buildings and the more affluent rented at their own expense. Later on, the housing issue would be one of the main catalysts of Iraqi resentment toward Palestinians that exploded after 2003 due to their perceived preferential treatment under Saddam Hussein’s regime.

“I came of age in [the area of] al-Za’faraniyya where we used to live in huge blind peoples’ homes … It was a huge complex with many rooms; it had huge halls around which every family was allocated a room,” Umm Nawras told me after I probed about life in pre-2003 Iraq. “I remember that whenever we would write our postal address, we would write: the former blind peoples’ homes, the Palestinians’ houses.” In the late 1980s, the women’s families were allocated a private apartment in the purpose-built al-Durra complex and shared the fate of other residents of the country who lived through the Iran-Iraq war and later the UN-imposed siege after the first Gulf War.

all of this got me thinking about an episode of jassem azzawi’s “inside iraq” this week on al jazeera featuring anas al tikriti (who is one of the most eloquent and powerful speakers) and some israeli terrorist professor named mordehcai kedar (who, thankfully, sucks when it comes even to serving up his own propaganda). the episode looks at the zionist entity’s role in creating the invasion and occupation of iraq. it is well known that

don’t you love how the israeli terrorist tries to goad al tikriti into thinking that iran is iraq’s greatest enemy. blatant attempt at divide and rule there. but al tikriti’s response is beautiful and apt: no, of course, not the zionist entity is the greatest enemy of everyone in this region. in this episode you will also hear the israeli terrorist pretend like mossad is not operating in iraq, but here is an interview with seymour hersh and amy goodman on democracy now! from 2004 (and i can tell you from friends who have been in kurdistan that israeli terrorists are all over the place, some rather obviously so):

AMY GOODMAN: Sey Hersh, what is Israel’s role in the covert presence in Iraq?

SEYMORE HERSH: Obviously acquiescence. At the minimum, acquiescence. We certainly didn’t lean on them. There is a high level—i think the chief of staff of the Turkish armed forces, there is a very high level military dell investigation of Turkish military officials in Washington now. They arrived over the weekend I think. They are certainly here now, leading generals, to talk just about this issue. What are we going to do with Israel? I asked add senior C.I.A. Intelligence official about this last week. And his comment, which I think is really pretty accurate, he said really how much control do we have over Israel. They will do what’s in their best interest no matter what we say. This is a complicated one. Because Richard Perle, a Neocon, was really a great champion of the Turkish-Israeli relationship and now that move into Kurdistan is destabilizing that. What the Israelis did, which is remarkable stupid, I think, and I understand has caused enormous problems inside the Israeli government on just the issue of how dumb they are is when the Turks began to raise questions about the obviously growing Israeli presence in Kurdistan, and Kurdistan, Iran has got great intelligence and so does turkey. It is not hard to penetrate. Kurds are, you know, they’re great bargainers and buyers and sellers. And one can easily buy information there. In any case, turkey learned quite a bit earlier this year and asked the Israelis their great buddies about this. And Israel said officially to them that there is nothing there and the people that are there, Israelis are there as private citizens doing their own work. And I can tell you I was an anchor and I did see—I can’t quote him, but it’s clear from my story, very senior people in the government and they are really angry about this. They will not tolerate an independent Kurdistan. They will simply go to war immediately and they won’t even tolerate the idea that the Kurds are getting closers and edging—in their public statements, the Kurds are saying more and more that if things go badly in Iraq, they will consider going independent. So, Israel sort of screwed the pooch with its own ally and then they put themselves in a terrible position with a journalist like me of having to issue these stringent and strong denials, which, between you and me, people in the government acknowledge are just pro forma. They stuck themselves. They said we don’t have anything there. What happened is some of the intelligence people and some of the military people, obviously don’t go into Kurdistan and run operations in Iran with Israeli passports or anything connected to Israel. So, they wash them. We use the word sheep dip for taking in a military person. In America, when you take in a military officer and redress them as a civilian and send them into a war zone, that’s called sheep dipping. Same thing happened with the Israeli Mossad and their military people. They went in undercover.

in theory any palestinian and iraqi leader should be and would be partners in fighting colonialism and neocolonialism in their countries, in the region. but the american-israeli colonial tactic of divide and rule is making that rather impossible. al-tikriti’s point in the “inside iraq” interview, however, is important: the people are completely in solidarity with one another. it is their governments that continue to make deals with and be controlled by the devil.

and in the interest of solidarity here is one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets, mohja khaf, entitled “Snowfall on the Colossal Ruins” from 2000. it is about iraqi refugees in amman.

In the Roman amphitheater in Amman,
life is beautiful and sad. Unexpected snow
falls like a gift from heaven, settles
slowly on the hillocks,
curves, and rumps of bodies
strewn across the steps. The human floor
stirs. Thousands of Iraqis sleep here
nightly, this winter of the year 2000,
this tenth winter of the sanctions.
The proud, the dignified,
the ones you might have met in gracious homes
by appointment, bringing with you flowers,
fruit, or any small token,
to avoid arriving empty-handed,
you will find them here, roseate cheek
laid against the subzero stone.
You will find them curled against each other
in piles so that a walker must step watchfully
not to tread on wrist or groin.
You will find minds trained
in the construction of buildings and poems
wrapped around a crate of unsold chewing gum.
You will find them here, parentless girls
and boys, who in former days were carefully forbidden
to stay out past a certain hour.
You will find them here now, some ready
to sell to you for next to nothing
anything they still own,
snowflakes clinging
to their lush Iraqi lashes, a bare leg
here and there gleaming golden in moonlight.
There is not cover enough to go around
in the Roman coliseum in Amman.
You will find them here coughing
in the air of this winter, turning
from one side to the other, exposed
to whatever is to fall upon them next,
and not upon us, not tonight. (79-80 in E-mails from Scheherazad

of course iraqis are not the only people in the region made refugees by the americans or israeli terrorists. there are uncountable afghan refugees, including some children found by italian police today:

Italian police have found more than 100 immigrants, including 24 Afghan children, living in the sewer system beneath railway stations in Rome.

The children range in age from 10 to 15 years and are now being looked after by the city’s social services.

They were found when the railway police followed up reports of children living near the city’s stations.

The police say they do not speak Italian and broke into the sewers by removing manhole covers.

The charity Save the Children Italy says that more than 1,000 unaccompanied children arrived in Rome last year from various countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

and then, of course, there are the new pakistani refugees and internally displaced people because of the obama bombs falling on pakistan in our undeclared war on that country:

AMERICAN drone attacks on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan are causing a massive humanitarian emergency, Pakistani officials claimed after a new attack yesterday killed 13 people.

The dead and injured included foreign militants, but women and children were also killed when two missiles hit a house in the village of Data Khel, near the Afghan border, according to local officials.

As many as 1m people have fled their homes in the Tribal Areas to escape attacks by the unmanned spy planes as well as bombings by the Pakistani army. In Bajaur agency entire villages have been flattened by Pakistani troops under growing American pressure to act against Al-Qaeda militants, who have made the area their base.

Kacha Garhi is one of 11 tented camps across Pakistan’s frontier province once used by Afghan refugees and now inhabited by hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis made homeless in their own land.

are we to expect iranian refugees to be next? how many millions of people will be rendered homeless at the hands of these rogue states? if jonathan cook’s latest report is any indication we might be seeing such a fate as a strike on iran in the near future, which of course would have refugees following right behind:

The White House under Barack Obama has made conciliatory gestures towards Tehran, culminating in a video statement from the president a fortnight ago in which he appealed for a “new beginning” in relations between the two countries.

But since Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in as Israeli prime minister on Tuesday, he has preferred to highlight the military option as a way to prevent what Israel and the United States have claimed are Iranian plans to acquire a nuclear warhead under the guise of a civilian energy programme.

Statements from Mr Netanyahu and his officials over the past few days have been designed to suggest that Israel is preparing to launch such a strike, even if it contravenes the wishes of the White House.

The public differences between Israel and the United States on Iran have accelerated since Israel’s military intelligence chief, Amos Yadlin, published an assessment last month that Tehran had passed the “point of no return” in developing nuclear technology.

He concluded that sanctions had failed and that, if Tehran gave the go-ahead, its scientists had the technology to assemble a warhead within a year or so. The US director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, has dismissed such claims as a “worst-case” scenario.

on the justice of ward churchill (and the chickens that will continue to come home to roost)

churchillpriceless11 i haven’t been following ward churchill’s trial as closely as i would have liked to, but i am so happy to know that justice was finally served in the case of churchill v. colorado university. there were a few issues at stake in the trial, but one of the most significant ones was in relation to academic freedom. specifically it was in relation to ward churchill’s essay, which he wrote after 9/11 entitled “some people push back: on the justice of roosting chickens.” here is how it begins:

When queried by reporters concerning his views on the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963, Malcolm X famously – and quite charitably, all things considered – replied that it was merely a case of “chickens coming home to roost.”

On the morning of September 11, 2001, a few more chickens – along with some half-million dead Iraqi children – came home to roost in a very big way at the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center. Well, actually, a few of them seem to have nestled in at the Pentagon as well.

The Iraqi youngsters, all of them under 12, died as a predictable – in fact, widely predicted – result of the 1991 US “surgical” bombing of their country’s water purification and sewage facilities, as well as other “infrastructural” targets upon which Iraq’s civilian population depends for its very survival.

If the nature of the bombing were not already bad enough – and it should be noted that this sort of “aerial warfare” constitutes a Class I Crime Against humanity, entailing myriad gross violations of international law, as well as every conceivable standard of “civilized” behavior – the death toll has been steadily ratcheted up by US-imposed sanctions for a full decade now. Enforced all the while by a massive military presence and periodic bombing raids, the embargo has greatly impaired the victims’ ability to import the nutrients, medicines and other materials necessary to saving the lives of even their toddlers.

All told, Iraq has a population of about 18 million. The 500,000 kids lost to date thus represent something on the order of 25 percent of their age group. Indisputably, the rest have suffered – are still suffering – a combination of physical debilitation and psychological trauma severe enough to prevent their ever fully recovering. In effect, an entire generation has been obliterated.

for those of you who read my post earlier today you already know what i think about such propositions. and we can look at any place or time in history to see this same phenomenon repeat itself. the website following the trial reported this upon hearing learning of his victory:

A jury found on Thursday that the University of Colorado had wrongfully dismissed a professor who drew national attention for an essay in which he called some victims of the Sept. 11 attacks “little Eichmanns.”

There’s some inside scuttlebutt here. David Lane got to talk to the jurors after the case, and word has it they had the following couple of salient points to offer:

1. Up until the reading of the final instructions by the judge, the jurors thought they were to be deliberating on whether or not Ward had committed academic fraud, pure and simple. It’s an understandable error, given the nature of the witnesses. Their unanimous finding was that Ward hadn’t committed any fraud worthy of the name.

2. The jurors were disgusted by the repetition of Ward’s protected speech by O’Rourke, including the quotes from the audio that Craig Silverman kept pushing at O’Rourke; they felt this clearly showed the nature of CU’s witchhunt.

As to the award, Ward Churchill never asked for money. In fact he told the jury repeatedly he didn’t want a cent. What he does want is his job back. And given the nature of this verdict, one has to ask how justice could be served if he doesn’t get it. More to come.

max forte’s open anthropology blog has been covering the trial regularly, too, and there are great detailed reports there. here is what he posted about the meaning of this victory:

It is not at all a situation where a lawyer lost the case for CU: all of the Big Eichmanns who ran the university, and the Little Eichmanns who served on the faculty committees, paraded through the court, are the ones who lost the case for CU, because it never had more than a political case to begin with. Their statements were weak, contradictory, often mendacious, and most importantly, validations of Churchill’s case. As the news reports below said:

1. Were Ward Churchill’s freedom of speech rights violated and did the University act inappropriately? YES.

2. Was Ward Churchill wrongfully fired? YES.

3. Did the University have enough reason [i.e., “research misconduct”] to fire Churchill otherwise? NO.

What Ward Churchill has done for all of us is to send a powerful message to each and every university: You are not entitled to determine what is acceptable expression on the part of faculty, thereby curtailing their rights as public citizens who are free to engage in dissent and opposition. Ward Churchill, thanks to his relentless pursuit of what is right and just, thanks to his sheer stamina and courage, has smashed a gigantic hole in the Wall of Silence, that national security wall of the militarized state, where power is abused in order to enforce the orthodox doctrines of the Western “master race.”

Churchill’s resistance was successful and efficacious resistance. He forced his many persecutors to face their own lies, their violations of the truth, their own fraud in misappropriating academic values in order to further sinister, extremist political goals. The result is that CU is rendered, in public, and as a matter of judicial fact, a fraud: an academic fraud that will prostitute the academy for the sake of the pet political projects of bankrupt neo-conservatives, and a political fraud whose actions speak volumes of the real nature of freedom in a so-called “liberal democracy.” Churchill has fought the neo-fascist, fear-based political order, and recuperated his dignity and integrity, and not just in his name. And so we are left to tally the ruins of the system that he, along with many others, has challenged so tenaciously:

* A failed ideology of neo-conservativism and of the New American Century (which lasted for less than a decade);

* Failed imperial wars of conquest;

* A broken-down and failed capitalist economic system.

there are a number of news clips max has posted as well, but here are two worth watching. the first is of churchill’s own testimony and the second is a report on justice being served from local colorado television news:

justice has been served, but only in some small way. but the core of what churchill argued in that original essay still seems to fall upon deaf ears. having a new administration is no help, either. the obama administration is continuing with the empire that bush began. for instance, what of the u.s. military installations in iraq and afghanistan (and is suspect we’ll be seeing some in pakistan soon). jeremy scahill reports on this as well as other issues addressed in a gao report released this week. tellingly, the issue of water that churchill addressed in his essay is still an issue in iraq:

Perhaps the saddest portion of the GAO report relates to what should be done to address the massive suffering in Iraq and what the U.S. responsibility should be for paying for the tremendous devastation of Iraq’s civilian infrastructure over the past 20 years.

Just take the issue of water. As of now, according to the report, “many Iraqis are without water or have access to water that puts them at risk of diseases such as cholera and dysentery, as evidenced by outbreaks in 2007 and 2008. According to the United Nations, only 40 percent of children have reliable access to safe drinking water; with water-treatment plants operating at only 17 percent capacity, large volumes of untreated waste are discharged into Iraq’s waterways. The health risks associated with a lack of access to potable water and proper sewage treatment are compounded by the shortage of medical professionals in Iraq’s health care system.”

According to the World Bank, it would cost $14.4 billion to rebuild the Iraqi public works and water system. In other words, about five weeks of the overall cost of the U.S. occupation.

Instead of discussing U.S. reparations or restitution, as groups like Iraq Veterans Against the War have demanded, the report asks the Obama administration what more the Iraqi government can do to fund reconstruction projects. “We’ve just spent $700 billion to bail out Wall Street,” says IPS’ Erik Leaver. “While the report notes that the U.S. spent $9.5 billion and Iraq budgeted for $17.2 billion for reconstruction of a war torn society. The scale of what we’ve done on the civilian end is absurd.”

Before one more cent is spent on bailing out corrupt corporations that destroyed the U.S. economy, Iraqis should have clean drinking water. After all, it was the illegal U.S. wars that took it from them in the first place. And that is not logic based on lies.

scahill was also on democracy now! yesterday and offered some important and interesting analysis on the american mercenaries working in iraq and who their war crimes partners are:

AMY GOODMAN: Who heads up Triple Canopy?

JEREMY SCAHILL: It was founded by former Special Forces operatives from the US Army. They were minor contributors to the Bush/Cheney campaign, but not real big political players. They clearly started the company as a result of the US invasion in Iraq. They started it in 2003. By 2004, they got one of the primary contracts in Iraq.

An interesting fact about Triple Canopy is that it was one of the big three US companies. Triple Canopy, DynCorp, and Blackwater shared this mother contract. Blackwater had the biggest share of it, to guard US officials in the Baghdad area. DynCorp had the north of Iraq. Triple Canopy had the south of Iraq.

Triple Canopy also, though, did a very lucrative business servicing other war contractors like KBR, and Triple Canopy was also known for being the company that brought in the largest number of so-called third country nationals, non-Iraqis, non-Americans. They hired, for instance, former Salvadoran commandos who were veterans of the bloody counterinsurgency war in El Salvador that took the lives of 75,000 Salvadorans, minimum. Chileans—they used the same recruiter, Jose Miguel Pizarro Ovalle, that Blackwater used when they hired Chileans. This was a former Pinochet military officer.

And this company has been around, you know, for five or six years. The Obama administration has hired them in Iraq, and many of the Blackwater guys are believed to be jumping over to Triple Canopy to continue working on in Iraq. Obama, though, is keeping Blackwater on, and the State Department has not ruled out that they’re going to stay on for much longer, the aviation division of Blackwater in Iraq, and also Blackwater is on the US government payroll in Afghanistan, also working for the Drug Enforcement Agency.

The news that I’m breaking on Triple Canopy, though, is that I obtained federal contracts that were signed in February and March by the Obama administration with Triple Canopy to act as a private paramilitary force operating out of Jerusalem. And this is also part of a very secretive State Department program called the Worldwide Personal Protective Service, which was started under the Clinton administration as a privatized wing of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security division. Triple Canopy was paid $5 million in February, March by the Obama administration to provide, quote, “security services” in Israel.

In congressional testimony in 2007, Ambassador David Satterfield, who was an Under Secretary of State, said that he had been guarded by private security companies when he traveled in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem. Triple Canopy had the contract, has had this contract since 2005, the Obama administration continuing it.

I think that the Obama administration should be required to explain to US taxpayers, particularly with the atrocious human rights abuses that we’ve been seeing in Israel, why he’s using a US mercenary company to protect US officials when they potentially come in contact with civilians. And we’ve seen how deadly that’s been in Iraq. And before May 7th, his administration should be required to explain to the American people why he and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are continuing the Bush administration’s policy of using deadly paramilitary forces in Iraq.

you can watch his interview with amy goodman here:

clearly, we have not learned our lessons. expect even more chickens coming home to roost.