how about no voice!

here is a group i would love to silence. it is called “one voice.” i say: how about no voice! apparently it is old, but someone tweeted it today so i just learned about it. this group is quite skilled in masking who they really are about (this is the first clue that it is a hardcore zionist organization dedicated to preserving the racist, zionist, colonist, terrorist state). to start with the term “one voice” is a sort of euphemism, i think, for some sort of unified solution and masks their goal of continuing the zionist colonization of palestinian land. you can get some idea of who they are from their faq page:

How is OneVoice different from other ‘peace’ groups?

We are dedicated to conflict resolution. Israelis and Palestinians at a grassroots level want to find a resolution to this conflict and agree in broad terms on the parameters for that resolution. They do not necessarily like or love each other, but they recognize that to guarantee their own freedom, security, and viability, they have to assure the same for the other side. We are committed to mobilizing people behind this belief to effect real change. We are a grassroots, non-partisan, joint Israeli-Palestinian organization – not imposing ideas from above, but helping people on the ground to find and frame their own answers.

Why do you believe in a two-state solution?

OneVoice does not have its own views on how a peace agreement should look – we are simply codifying the views of the masses, and building off of the groundwork laid by past agreements and proposals, which are accepted by the majority of Israelis & Palestinians as the basis for negotiating a two-state solution. The vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians, according to all major polls, agree that a two-state solution is the only way to end this conflict.

Is it really a parallel movement? Are both sides really represented?

This is the most commonly asked question by people on both sides. Each side perceives that the other lacks a contingent of moderates willing to lead their people to compromise. Exactly the same amount of money goes into programming in Israel as it does in Palestine.

What many people are unable to see, which we uniquely can, is that whether on the left or on the right, Israeli or Palestinian, the overwhelming majority on each side would choose co-existence and mutual respect over co-extermination and mutual ruination. In spite of any apprehension or skepticism they share, they ultimately express a commitment and desire to participate with us.

Is this an attempt to impose a Western solution on a uniquely Middle Eastern problem?

The OneVoice solution is coming from the Middle East; it is not being imposed on anyone. Hundreds of Palestinians and Israelis were involved in its inception and now more than 600,000 are members. OneVoice is shaped according to what people who live in the region believe will work. In this regard, we provide a neutral gateway towards consensus that is not linked to any existing entrenched power. OneVoice is a non-biased, grassroots platform that derives its legitimacy from popular participation.

first of all, the notion that this is some sort of grassroots movement that palestinians support is 100% hooey. sure, maybe they have a few collaborators on board (read: those who support american-zionist colonialism here), but that does not mean that the majority of palestinians support this initiative. i can tell you point blank: they do not. there is no clear position on the most important issues, like the right of return, for instance, and they treat palestinians here as if these are only people who live in the west bank–not in 1948 palestine, not in refugee camps in lebanon, jordan, syria, not in the diaspora. of course they cannot because if they were to do so they would have to deal with the right of return. and they do not.

but what is most telling, i think, is the page that lists the board members. the “honorary board” lists palestinians who normalize and who are completely discredited and disrespected among palestinians like saeb erakat. he is as bad as his cohorts on this list like zionnazis martin indyk and dennis ross. it also lists jim zogby who, like ziad asali who sits on the trustees advisory council, do a great job promoting the zionist agenda in the u.s. the rest of the names, one can safely assume, are there to do the zionists’ bidding to ensure that palestinian refugees never have the right of return and that their bantustan situation will continue to increase. make no mistake about it: if indyk and ross are on board we can expect a disastrous outcome for palestinians. period.

then you look at their “parners” page you will notice that they have all sorts of organizations that masquerade as “neutral,” but are really fronts for zionist propaganda–organizations like middle east web as well as arab american organizations that are complicit with the zionist agenda in the u.s. like american task force on palestine. and, perhaps, the real clue is in the organizations that promote normalization (read: force palestinians to be as submissive as possible in their own oppression so zionists can steal more land and murder more palestinians); these groups include: the geneva initiative and ipcri.

how these groups got on the website is another question–whether they support its work or not, for instance. apparently, when the organization began they just put various groups on the website without asking for permission first. they did this with the middle east children’s alliance (meca), and as soon as people at meca found out and requested that they remove their name and logo. apparently, they did not understand that meant meca was not interested in their so-called “peace” initiative and someone at this “one voice” group asked them to send out some email to meca’s list. when they said no, meca got this email, which i quote with permission:

Dear XXXX,

Thank you for your elaborated answer. I find it hard to understand why would you choose not to support an organization that calls for a non violent solution based on 2 states and rapid negotiations, but I guess it is your choice.

PS. Children not living under occupation are also bedwetting and have nightmares, whether it is because of missiles flying over their heads and on their houses for the last 7 years or because of suicide bombers and terrorism. Life and the reality in the Middle east is not as one sided as you portray. The apartheid analogy is nothing more then a propaganda tool, that has nothing to do with reality, and is used to take advantage of peace-seeking people, with historical guilt, by demonizing Israel and the Israelis. What you see in the media is only the bloody stories that sell. They are not always true, and more importantly they are far from being all the story or even a big part of it.

Yours,
Sefi Kedmi

typical zionist answer: the think that the bias is against the them. yet another way of deflecting attention from the reality of their daily thieving and murderous colonial project. ben white had an excellent critique of this pseudo-“peace” initiative in the guardian two years ago, which is worth reading:

We’ve had Live 8 and Live Earth, and this week, albeit on a smaller scale, we almost had One Million Voices. Organised by the OneVoice group, the declared aim was to bring together Palestinians and Israelis in simultaneous events in Tel Aviv, Jericho, London, Washington and Ottawa to voice support for the “moderates” and call for a negotiated two-state solution.

The plans fell through, amid bitter claim and counter-claim, as artists lined up for the Jericho event cancelled, and the Tel Aviv concert followed suit. This followed grassroots pressure by Palestinians who objected to what they see as yet another attempt to promote a false peace that fails to address the structural injustices driving the conflict.

Indeed, despite the peace rhetoric – and the claim that they represent a unique popular call – OneVoice’s approach suffers from the same flaws that have bedevilled official “peace” efforts from Oslo to the Quartet. Such errors were amply demonstrated in Seth Freedman’s column, which implied that the main obstacle to peace is the “extremism” that exists on both sides.

This interpretation of the situation in Palestine/Israel is only possible through a heavy airbrushing of history and a fundamental misreading of the present. Strikingly, the Tel Aviv concert was scheduled to take place in Hayarkon Park – the same location where, almost 60 years ago, the Palestinian village of Jarisha was wiped off the map by Jewish armed forces.

Its residents shared the same fate as almost 800,000 other Palestinians, expelled from what became Israel and prevented to this day from returning home, their land confiscated. Yet official OneVoice material gives the impression that the conflict only began 40 years ago, when Israel occupied the rest of Palestine (the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem).

Condemning the “extremist minority” of both sides sounds laudable. Of course, “both sides” use violence, and of course, there is hatred and religious extremism among both Palestinians and Israelis. The crucial point, however, is that Israel has all the power. Israel is occupying and colonising Palestinian land, not the other way round. Palestinian cities are besieged by a modern, hi-tech Israeli army and subjected to closure, raids and bombardment – not the other way round.

Zionist colonisation is not the preserve of a fanatical fringe in Israel – it is fundamental to the state’s identity and practice. As Martin Luther King said: “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” Since Israel continues to show no intention of relinquishing its role as colonial overlord, it’s no good to condemn “both sides”, as if there is equality between occupier and occupied.

Unsurprisingly, those with intimate firsthand experience of this apartheid are under no illusions about the usefulness of toothless “peace processes”. Earlier this week, the UN human rights envoy for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, John Dugard, condemned the Quartet for failing to safeguard Palestinian rights. The BBC’s Tim Franks noted that many diplomats and officials based in the region “would agree with Mr Dugard’s political analysis” yet refrain from agreeing publicly.

The language of moderation is all the rage, from OneVoice to Condoleezza Rice, from the aborted peace concerts to the forthcoming November peace conference. It’s a seductive dichotomy; on the one side are those who light the flame of peace, who strive for a “mass awakening” to the “forces of light and friendship and love”. On the other side are the extremists who threaten, smear and mislead; they are wickedly intransigent – they stifle, snuff out hope and burn flags.

But what is a “moderate”? In recent times, “moderate” has been applied to some rather unlikely characters in the Middle East. For the US, UK and Israeli governments, these include states like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. None of these permit much genuine freedom of expression; all of them oppress opposition movements. In fact, Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most repressive regimes.

It seems “moderation” has nothing to do with whether you refrain from the torture of political activists or the flogging of “deviants”, and everything to do with your obedience to US policies and Israeli interests. That is what unites the Saudi royals, the Egyptian president and the Jordanian king.

Meanwhile, groups like ISM, and Another Voice are condemned by Freedman and OneVoice as “extremists” out to “eradicate the other side”, and accused of making unnamed and unspecified threats. Yet these groups are committed to the defence of human rights and international law, and are made up of tireless Israelis, Palestinians and internationals. Their categorisation as “extremists” then, is actually a reflection of their refusal to accept sugar-coated apartheid or well-meaning platitudes that serve the status quo.

It may be an uncomfortable truth, but peace for both peoples comes no closer if the fundamental power disparity between Israel and the stateless, occupied and dispossessed Palestinians is obscured. Confronting the vested interests that perpetuate Palestine’s conquest may not win you awards from Jordanian monarchs or praise from the US state department; but it ultimately brings you a lot closer to peace.

as for kedmi thinking that apartheid does not apply, i think we would do well to look at omar barghouti’s recent article on the subject, which i quote from, in part, below:

Israel’s repressive and racist policies in the 1967-occupied Palestinian territory have been recognized as constituting apartheid by a host of opinion leaders such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former US president, Jimmy Carter, and former UN Special Rapporteur for human rights, Prof. John Dugard, among others. In the same vein, former Israeli Attorney General, Michael Ben-Yair, wrote in a 2002 article in Ha’aretz describing Israel’s regime in the OPT, “We enthusiastically chose to become a colonial society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaging in theft and finding justification for all these activities. … In effect, we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories….” [36]

However, the applicability of the crime of apartheid as defined in UN conventions to Israel itself has, for the most part, been either inadvertently glossed over or intentionally ignored as an explosive subject that has every potential to invite the vengeful wrath of powerful pro-Israel lobbies. Regardless, one cannot but examine the facts and analyze Israel’s system of governance accordingly.

The strongest argument given by — sometimes well-meaning — experts who dismiss the apartheid label for Israel is that the analogy between Israel and South Africa is not exact and, in many respects, Israel’s oppression is even more severe, demanding a different designation altogether. The problem with this argument is that it assumes, quite incorrectly, that apartheid is a South African trademark and, therefore, that every regime accused of practicing apartheid must be shown to be identical to South Africa’s apartheid regime of yesteryear. Apartheid, however, although brought to world attention and given its name by the racist regime in South Africa, has been recognized by the UN for decades as a generalized crime with a universal definition.

The Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid of 1976 defines apartheid [37] as “similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practised in southern Africa” which have “the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them, in particular by means such as segregation, expropriation of land, and denial of the right to leave and return to their country, the right to a nationality and the right to freedom of movement and residence” (Article II). The similarity to South Africa is cited not as a condition but in recognition of its status as a historic precedent.

As a recent in-depth strategic position paper [38] published by the Palestinian BDS National Committee states, Israel’s origins, laws and policies against the Palestinian people fit to a large extent the definition of apartheid. The conceptual origins of Israel’s unique form of apartheid are found in Zionism, a racist European ideology that was adopted by the dominant stream of the Zionist movement (World Zionist Organization, Jewish Agency, Jewish National Fund, among others) in order to justify and recruit political support for its colonial project of establishing an exclusive Jewish state in historic Palestine. Political Zionists dismissed the indigenous population of Palestine as non-existent in the famous Zionist slogan of “a land without a people;” making this a self-fulfilling prophecy, Zionist forces forcibly displaced 750,000-900,000 Palestinians from their homeland and destroyed hundreds of the depopulated Palestinian villages in an operation termed “cleaning the landscape” that lasted until 1960. [39]

Israel’s regime over the Palestinian people amounts to apartheid precisely because it displays many of the main features of the crime as defined by international law:

1. Racial discrimination against the indigenous Palestinian people who became citizens of the State of Israel was formalized and institutionalized through the creation by law of a “Jewish nationality”, which is distinct from Israeli citizenship. No “Israeli” nationality exists in Israel, and the Supreme Court has persistently refused to recognize one as it would end the system of Jewish supremacy in Israel. The 1950 Law of Return entitles all Jews — and only Jews — to the rights of nationals, namely the right to enter “Eretz Yisrael” (Israel and the OPT) and immediately enjoy full legal and political rights. “Jewish nationality” under the Law of Return is extraterritorial in contravention of international public law norms pertaining to nationality. It includes Jewish citizens of other countries, irrespective of whether they wish to be part of the collective of “Jewish nationals,” and excludes “non-Jews” (i.e., Palestinians) from nationality rights in Israel.

2. The 1952 Citizenship Law [40] has created a discriminatory two-tier legal system whereby Jews hold nationality and citizenship, while the remaining indigenous Palestinian citizens hold only citizenship. [41] Under Israeli law the status of Jewish nationality is accompanied with first-class rights and benefits which are not granted to Palestinian citizens.

3. The Israeli Status Law of 1952 authorizes the World Zionist Organization/Jewish Agency and its subsidiaries, including the Jewish National Fund, to control most of the land in Israel, for the exclusive benefit of Jews. In 1998, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, CESCR, expressed [42] grave concern about this law and stated that large-scale and systematic confiscation of Palestinian land and property by the State and the transfer of that property to these agencies constitute an institutionalized form of discrimination, because these agencies by definition would deny the use of these properties to non-Jewish citizens of the State.

4. Return of Palestinian refugees and Internally-Displaced Persons (IDPs), as required by international law, has been prevented by means of force and legislation on racist grounds. Simply because they are not Jews, Palestinian refugees were excluded from entitlement to citizenship in the State of Israel under the 1952 Citizenship Law. They were “denationalized” and turned into stateless refugees in violation of the law of state succession. Their land and other property were confiscated by the State. The approximately 150,000 Palestinians who remained in Israel after the 1948 Nakba were placed under a military regime (1948 – 1966) similar to the regime currently in place in the OPT.

For decades, racial discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel in every vital aspect of life has been the norm. From land ownership to education to health to jobs to housing, the indigenous Palestinians have been denied equality by the State’s laws and policies. For instance, they are not allowed, to buy or rent land in about 93% of the state lands of Israel. [43] To this date, polls consistently show overwhelming majorities of Israeli Jews standing in opposition to full equality with the indigenous Palestinians in the state. [44] So the fact those Palestinians can vote, unlike their black African counterpart under South African apartheid, becomes almost a formality, a tokenism of sorts, clearly designed to project a deceptive image of democracy and fend off well-justified accusations of apartheid. [45]

Even in cancer research [46], Israeli apartheid is strongly present. In June 2001, the Health Ministry published a map of the geographical distribution of malignant diseases in Israel during the years 1984-1999. The report did not include a single Palestinian community in Israel, with the exception of Rahat, ostensibly due to “budgetary problems.” This research is particularly important because, in Israel, only when a correlation is shown between the presence of polluting sites and the incidence of malignant disease is it possible to prevent installation of new hazards, or demand tighter environmental standards. By intentionally omitting Palestinian towns in its extensive cancer mapping, the Health Ministry has indirectly given a green light to polluters to relocate to Palestinian towns inside Israel — not to mention in the OPT. The results of such health apartheid are ominous. In the past three decades the rate of malignant diseases in the Palestinian population in Israel has risen 3 to 4 times higher than among the Jewish population. A spokesperson for the Israeli Center against Racism commented, “The report has produced two different groups. One, an overprivileged group, whose lives are dear to the state and to the Health Ministry; a second, whose lives are of no importance to the state.”

This discrimination must be seen in the wider context of Israel’s perception of Palestinians by leading Israeli politicians, intellectuals, academics and mass media outlets as a “demographic threat” that needs to be dealt with resolutely; thus the rise of openly fascist parties in the recent parliamentary elections. Echoing a popular view in Israel, a ranking academic, Major General (reserve) Shlomo Gazit from the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, preaches: “Democracy has to be subordinated to demography.”[47] And now, the fanatic right Israeli leader, Avigdor Lieberman, and his supporters are saying democracy has to be subordinated to loyalty to Jewish supremacy.

The complicity of Western governments in all this horrific violation of international law and basic human rights has led many analysts to view the role of the West as profoundly flawed, both morally and legally. The comprehensive impunity enjoyed by Israel has allowed it to project itself and to act as an uncontrollable “mad dog” — an image advocated by Moshe Dayan decades ago and endorsed most recently by Israeli military historian, Martin Van Creveld [48] — in an attempt to make the Palestinians submit to its colonial will, to accept slavery as fate.

This criminal impunity and categorical denial of rights, more than anything else, were the main motivation behind the Palestinian BDS campaign.

Since 9 July 2005, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions have been advocated by virtually the entire Palestinian civil society everywhere as an effective form of solidarity that has a real potential to bring about an end to Western complicity with Israel and, therefore, to Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid. During and ever since Israel’s criminal war on Gaza, Palestinian civil society has stood more united than ever in urging people of conscience all over the world to hold Israel accountable for its crimes by treating it as South Africa was under apartheid rule. In response, unions, academic groups, faith-based organizations, political parties, social movements and others have adopted creative, context-sensitive and sustainable BDS campaigns, from South Africa to Norway, from Australia to Canada, from Britain to Venezuela, and even from the podium of the President of the UN General Assembly. [49]

Israel’s state terrorism in Gaza, enabled by virtually unlimited support from the US and Western governments in general, was a key catalyst in spreading and deepening BDS around the world, prompting advocates of Palestinian rights to feel that our South Africa moment has finally arrived. Israel is now widely perceived, at a grassroots level, as an international pariah that commits war crimes with impunity and that needs to be held accountable to international law and basic principles of human rights.

for readers who are too racist to take the word of a palestinian, how about a jewish south african man who lived through apartheid in south africa and who has witnessed it in palestine as well? ronnie kasrils also published a piece this week comparing the two regimes:

It is by no means difficult to recognize from afar, as Verwoerd had been able to do, that Israel is indeed an apartheid state. Verwoerd’s successor, Balthazar John Vorster visited Israel after the 1973 October War, when Egypt in a rare victory regained the Suez Canal and Sinai from Israel. After that Israel and South Africa were virtually twinned as military allies for Pretoria helped supply Israel militarily in the immediacy of its 1973 setback and Israel came to support apartheid South Africa at the height of sanctions with weaponry and technology – from naval ships and the conversion of supersonic fighter planes to assistance in building six nuclear bombs and the creation of an arms industry.

For the liberation movements of southern Africa, Israel and apartheid South Africa represented a racist, colonial axis. It was noted that people like Vorster had been Nazi sympathizers, interned during World War II – yet feted as heroes in Israel and incidentally never again referred to by South African Zionists as an anti-Semite!. This did not surprise those that came to understand the true racist nature and character of Zionist Israel.

Time and space does not allow further elaboration, but it is instructive to add that in its conduct and methods of repression, Israel came to resemble more and more apartheid South Africa at its zenith – even surpassing its brutality, house demolitions, removal of communities, targeted assassinations, massacres, imprisonment and torture of its opponents, collective punishment and the aggression against neighboring states.

Certainly we South Africans can identify the pathological cause, fuelling the hate, of Israel’s political-military elite and public in general. Neither is this difficult for anyone acquainted with colonial history to understand the way in which deliberately cultivated race hate inculcates a justification for the most atrocious and inhumane actions against even defenseless civilians – women, children, the elderly amongst them. In fact was this not the pathological racist ideology that fuelled Hitler’s war lust and implementation of the Holocaust?

I will state clearly, without exaggeration, that any South African, whether involved in the freedom struggle, or motivated by basic human decency, who visits the Occupied Palestinian Territories are shocked to the core at the situation they encounter and agree with Archbishop Tutu’s comment that what the Palestinians are experiencing is far worse than what happened in South Africa, where the Sharpeville massacre of 69 civilians in 1960 became international symbol of apartheid cruelty.

for those of you who want to know what palestinians want and what serves their interests you can check out these websites:

one state democratic group

and

global boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement

PS: i meant to post this last night but it slipped my mind. the reason this old organization is on my mind now is because it is in the news:

Sir Paul McCartney officially joined the International Board of Advisors of the OneVoice movement, a grassroots organization aiming at broadcasting the views of what it calls the “overwhelming majority” of moderates in both Israel and Palestine.

The Board of Directors already includes actors Danny DeVito and Jason Alexander, as well as international dignitaries and political figures like Dennis Ross.

McCartney met with OneVoice Israel Chairwoman Irit Admoni Perlman during his visit to the region in September and was later asked to join the board, according to the statement.

“They told me that the vast majority of people in both societies are moderates and simply want a better life for their families and themselves,” a statement from the organization quoted McCartney as saying, “This gave me great hope that, one day, people like them will help to bring about a peaceful resolution to the troubles in the area. I am, therefore, happy to lend my support in this way to the cause of peace.”

notice that not only did mccartney ignore the boycott and come to the israeli terrorist state, but he also ONLY met with an israeli terrorist, not any palestinians. but his group represents both sides–as if there can be two sides when you have the colonizer and the colonized.

on holding the israeli terrorist state accountable for its war crimes

carlos latuff "holocaust remembrance day"

momentum keeps building in so many ways every day. today a new petition to the european union. it’s not perfect, but i am hopeful that it will lead twoards the direction of sanctions. it reads:

To the EU Commission, Molesworth Street:

We call upon the EU to:
• Demand Israel abides by International Law, including a complete withdrawal from Gaza and the West Bank.

• Suspend the Euro-Med Agreement until Israel abides by its human rights clauses.

• Reverse the recent upgrade of relations with Israel

but even more significant is this letter that from several swedish ngos addressing the issue that is far more urgent than the humanitarian aid coming into gaza, when israeli terrorists allow it to. and that is addressing the root cause of the problem. this is something we should see more of around the world–not just these words, but these words backed up with action:

To: Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt and,
Minister for International Development Co-operation Gunilla Carlsson

In view of upcoming political decisions and donor conferences planned for the rebuilding of Gaza, We would like to bring your attention to the needs expressed on the ground.

Sweden needs to take its third states responsibility within International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and demand accountability from conflicting parties that violated IHL.

Based on a call from the Israeli-Palestinian organization Alternative Information Center, we Swedish NGOs would like to support their message that emergency and humanitarian aid to Gaza Strip is counterproductive without political demands. This message is instrumental at this very moment when many countries are rushing to pledge funds for the rebuilding of Gaza in upcoming donor conferences.

The Israeli military assault on the Gaza Strip during 27 December 2008 – 18 January 2009 has resulted in the deaths of hundreds, injury of thousands and long-term physical and psychological harm to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. The first estimates of the physical damage to infrastructures and buildings in the Gaza, amount to at least 1.6 billion USD. The immediate and long-term costs of the loss and injury to human lives and spirits, in addition to the damage to roads, schools, hospitals and clinics, water and electricity sources, will reach horrifying levels of historic proportions. The humanitarian crisis created by the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip will take decades from which to recover.

The Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip will require massive emergency and humanitarian assistance in order to meet the most fundamental needs for human existence. However, the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip is the result of Israeli long term policies and their attendant military actions. Without addressing the root problems that caused the current humanitarian crisis, international donors will simply enter another cycle of providing emergency and humanitarian assistance for infrastructures and projects that could once again be compromised or destroyed by Israel at a later date.

The root cause of this humanitarian crisis is Israel’s ongoing occupation of the Palestinian Territory it occupied in 1967, including the Gaza Strip, effective and control over which Israel continues to yield even following its redeployment of troops in 2005.

Without work by the international community, including governments and civil society, to end Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territory, there simply can be no real change in the situation.

Humanitarian and emergency aid, though offering relief in the short-term, also informs the Israeli occupation. Aid projects are used by Israel to evade its own responsibility, explicit in international humanitarian law, to the occupied population under its control. While aid might save lives in the short run, it also relieves Israel to pay the costs of the destruction that its military actions lead to, and it gives increased budget availability for military spending which would finance future military operations with possible new destructions and damages.

The Israeli government is now stressing the issue of humanitarian aid to Gaza, but they are taking no responsibility at all for the destruction and damages they have caused and they seem to rely on the international community and especially the EU to pick up the bill. By this Israel is also avoiding its obligation to provide the full scope of reparations to victims of IHL violations.

Swedish NGOs active in the occupied Palestinian territory implementing humanitarian aid and development cooperation asks the Swedish government the following:

1. Gather, analyze and disseminate information about the destruction of Swedish humanitarian aid and development cooperation in Gaza. Share information with other organizations and the media. Encourage other donor countries to do the same, and consolidate e.g. a joint EU and UN damage report.

2. Hold Israel accountable for the destruction it has caused to infrastructure and projects funded by Sweden in the Gaza Strip. The Swedish government and its Embassy in Tel Aviv need to contact the relevant Israeli authorities and demand explanations and full reparations for the destruction of civil infrastructures.

3. Use your political power to ensure international human rights and international humanitarian law. Israel is dependent on international aid to ensure the well-being of the Palestinian population, thus freeing it to take decisions unilaterally and with no consideration for the Palestinians. Donors thus have leverage over the Israeli government and can use it to demand compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law.

4. Don’t assist Israel in economically benefiting from its attacks on Gaza. The United Nations estimates that 45% of international aid sent to the Occupied Palestinian Territories flows back into the Israeli economy. The Paris Accords often render it less expensive to import goods to the OPT from Israel rather than neighboring or European countries. Demand that Israeli taxes on emergency and humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip be frozen.

5. Demand right to freely implement emergency and humanitarian projects. Demand free passage of goods and staff into and out of the Gaza Strip, in addition to unhampered movement within the Gaza Strip in order to implement projects, including for local partner organizations. Protest Israeli limitations on Your work, including the associated higher costs in storage and shipping that result accordingly.

6. Support political negotiations grounded in international law between the Palestinians and Israelis. The Oslo Accords have proven irrelevant and the Annapolis process has failed. It is time the international community publicly recognizes this reality and focuses on implementation of all United Nations resolutions and international laws applicable to the Israeli occupation and the Israeli-Arab conflict.

These demands are part of Sweden’s third states responsibility within International Humanitarian Law. Continued and new humanitarian aid due to the latest damages and destructions, without political demands, would also risk continuing the vicious cycle of conflict and counterproductive to the long term aims of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Since the EU is striving for a common foreign and security policy on these matters, the Swedish government should also encourage the EU to endorse the proposed actions above. If the above-mentioned measures prove to have no effect, the Swedish government should call upon the EU to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which unequivocally commits Israel to respect human rights and democratic principles, until Israel has demonstrated a concrete commitment to uphold its responsibilities and obligations accordingly.

Sincerely Yours,
Lena Ag
Secretary General; The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation

Bo Forsberg
Secretary General; Diakonia

Per Gahrton
Chairman; The Palestine Solidarity Association in Sweden

Bo Paulsson
Secretary General; The Swedish Organisation for Individual Relief

Jens Orback
Secretary General; Olof Palme International Center

one caveat to the above letter: the root of the problem is the ethnic cleansing/an nakba in 1948 and the palestinian refugees right of return. but in any case, these types of calls to action are more important than ever given the seeming ways in which israeli terrorism may soon be coming to iran. just watch the israeli terrorist ambassador to australia, yuval rotem, slip up before the camera in australia, just before cutting them off:

and now it seems as though dennis ross may be the u.s. envoy to iran (yes, this is change my friends: okay, so he’s not envoy to palestine, but it doesn’t mean he still won’t be doing damage in the region):

Former Clinton Administration Middle East diplomat Dennis Ross is under consideration as US State Department envoy to Iran. Ross is currently the chairman of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (JPPPI) in Jerusalem, established by the Jewish Agency in 2002. Ross could face legal challenges under the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, if he enters US government service.

FARA protects the American people and Congress from stealth propaganda and foreign lobbying through strict public disclosure filings. The Jewish Agency has repeatedly surfaced during investigations in the US. In the 1960s the Senate Foreign Relations Committee uncovered a network of stealth Jewish Agency “conduits” financing grassroots Israel lobby startup groups through the American Zionist Council (AZC). During 1963 hearings the Senate revealed the equivalent of $35 million went toward US lobbying, including $38,000 to American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) founder Isaiah Kenen between 1960-1961.

in spite of these setbacks, the grassroots keep pushing forward as with the maritime union of australia, which is needed now and will be needed even further if the aggression moves to include iran:

3. We also call on the Australian Council of Trade Unions and Unions WA to give full organisational and financial support to the protest movement in Australia against the Israeli aggression. In particular we call on Unions WA to give full organisational and financial support to the action initiated by Friends of Palestine WA which will be happening at midday in Forrest Place on Saturday January 31st.

4. We will participate fully in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign when it is initiated and support actions related thereof when they are called by either Friends of Palestine WA or other interested parties (including other trade unions). We call on the ACTU and Unions WA to join us in supporting the BDS campaign and specific actions related thereof

5. In furtherance of resolution 4, this meeting recommends State Conference adopt a position of boycotting all Israeli-registered vessels, and all vessels known to be carrying either goods destined for Israel or goods sourced from Israel.

this international pressure must continue to build, especially in light of recent disturbing news that france is going to become israel’s latest partner in terrorism as hasan abu nimah writes for electronic intifada:

Because it is generally accepted by the so-called “international community” that Hamas is a major threat to Israel, and therefore to world peace and security, France has dispatched a frigate to participate in a new blockade of the Gaza Strip. The Sunday Times reported that United States naval ships hunting pirates in the Gulf of Aden have been instructed to track down Iranian arms shipments (25 January). Many other European states offered their navies to assist. Indeed, United Nations Security Council resolution 1860 emphasized the need to prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition.

Unfortunately not one European country offered to send its navy to render humanitarian assistance to the thousands of injured, hungry, cold and homeless people in Gaza rendered so as a result of Israel’s attack. Perhaps helping children dying from white phosphorus burns, or just lack of clean water, would be seen as supporting “terrorism.”

The perverse assumption behind all the offers of help to Israel seems to be that Hamas and other resistance groups in Gaza fired rockets at Israel merely because rockets were available. Therefore, the logic goes, peace would prevail if the supply of rockets were curtailed.

Another strange assumption is that Hamas was freely importing rockets from Iran or elsewhere because Gaza’s borders were open and free of any control.

This ignores the fact that since Israel “disengaged” from Gaza in the summer of 2005, the coastal territory was never allowed any free access to the outside world. Gaza has been under varied forms of siege and blockade by land, sea and air. Fishermen were not even free to fish without constant attacks by the Israeli navy.

The Rafah crossing linking Gaza to Egypt was kept closed on Israeli insistence until a regime for strict Israeli proxy surveillance, with European monitors acting on Israel’s behalf, was established for it.

If Hamas, despite the blockade and total financial and diplomatic boycott managed to import so many rockets or the materials to make them, what level of further siege would guarantee an end to arms importation now?

meanwhile stories continue to come out about the nautral gas belonging to palestinians, but of course israeli terrorists and europeans are scheming various plots to steal the gas (sort of reminds you of mohammed mossadegh in iran when the americans did their first cia coup because iran wanted more than a pittance of the revenue of their oil):

In addition to the difficult long-term security concerns that are sure to arise from Operation Cast Lead, the long-overdue Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip has also raised a number of ancillary concerns that will need to be addressed over the coming weeks, including the future of key offshore natural-gas supplies.

About a year ago, The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel and UK-based BG Group, one of the world’s largest purveyors of natural gas, broke off talks concerning the possible sale of the natural gas contained in the Gaza Marine gas field, an area about 36 kilometers off of the Gaza coast.

In 1999, after paying the Palestinian Authority an undisclosed sum, BG, along with its partner, Consolidated Contractors Corporations, acquired the concession to survey for natural gas in 1,000 square kilometers of the Gaza Marine area.

In their agreement with BG, the PA stipulated that BG must pay it at least 10 percent of the royalties from any future sales of the gas, which the PA said would be placed directly into its Palestinian Investment Fund.

BG and CCC set about conducting seismic tests to determine if the field contained the valuable gas they had hoped for; in early 2000, BG confirmed that the field contained a large quantity.

Over the ensuring six and a half years, BG and officials from the Finance and National Infrastructures ministries tried to reach an agreement to pump the gas into Israel. But the two sides could not agree on the price.

Yet even before the talks broke off, the situation shifted dramatically in June 2007 when Hamas violently ousted Fatah from power in the Gaza Strip, claiming ownership of the gas fields off the coast and the proceeds from the sale of the gas.

This posed a serious problem for both Israel, which obviously was not going to pay a portion of the money to Hamas, and to BG, which was banned by its government from negotiating with Hamas. The Post reported that had Israel and BG reached an agreement on the sale price of the gas, they would have found an alternative arrangement for the transfer of funds to ensure they did not end up funding terrorism.

Today, the estimated $4 billion worth of gas off the Gazan coast is still sitting, untapped, at the bottom of the Gaza Marine gas field. Hamas has not backed away from it claim that it is the rightful owner of the gas, even saying it deserves more than the 10% of the royalties from the sale of the gas, as originally negotiated between BG and the PA.

no there is no change globally: it is business as usual. the extension of empire. and under obama there is business as usual too: the extension of the cia’s extraordinary rendition. but he let that one slip. can’t let it get out that secret detention and torture will continue, and it will continue in secret places where we can’t see and can’t know. but, oh yes, change has come to america. keep on drinking that koolaid:

The CIA’s secret prisons are being shuttered. Harsh interrogation techniques are off-limits. And Guantanamo Bay will eventually go back to being a wind-swept naval base on the southeastern corner of Cuba.

But even while dismantling these discredited programs, President Barack Obama left an equally controversial counterterrorism tool intact.

Under executive orders issued by Obama last week, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, or the secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the U.S.

Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said the rendition program is poised to play an expanded role because it is the main remaining mechanism-aside from Predator missile strikes-for taking suspected terrorists off the street.

The rendition program became a source of embarrassment for the CIA, and a target of international scorn, as details emerged in recent years of botched captures, mistaken identities and allegations that prisoners were turned over to countries where they were tortured.

The European Parliament condemned renditions as an “illegal instrument used by the United States.” Prisoners swept up in the program have sued the CIA as well as a subsidiary of Boeing Corp., which is accused of working with the agency on dozens of rendition flights.

finally my colleague, abdul sattar qasim, who whose car was bombed last week and who i wrote a bit about, was on al jazeera’s “inside story” with the always astute imran garda. it was funny because i was in the car with abdul sitta when he got the phone call from the al jazeera producer to schedule the interview later that day, though the interview is about holding the israeli terrorist state accountable for the war crimes it committed not about the incident with his car:

putting pressure on all governments who normalize with the israeli terrorist state is as crucial as ever right now as israelis scheme and plot to make sure they are above the law as usual–spanish activists need to get on the ball especially in light of the news today:

The Spanish government has decided to amend the country’s law dealing with prosecuting military commanders involved in war crimes.

Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni announced the news following a meeting with her Spanish counterpart Miguel Moratinos after a Spanish court accepted a lawsuit against former Israeli war ministry Benjamin Ben Eliezer and the then head of the air force Dan Halutz on charges against humanity.

time to analyze, mobilize, and organize

When I spoke with my students about the election this week one woman asked me, why did the Americans emphasize Barak Hussein Obama’s middle name so much–in an attempt to scare Americans into thinking he’s Muslim–when his first name is a Jewish one? Indeed. Those of us familiar with the work of Ehud Barak (it’s transliterated from the Hebrew in either case hence the different spellings) in carrying out his lethal siege in Gaza of late know all too well where this name comes from:

After the Israeli army carried its recent offensive against the Gaza Strip, killing seven Palestinians in one day, several resistance groups retaliated by firing a barrage of homemade shells against the Western Negev, Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak vowed further military offensives against the Gaza Strip.

And perhaps both Bara(c)ks are in good company. Clearly Obama made a decision to side with hardliners like the one in the Zionist state who terrorizes Palestinians every day and who promises more of the same. But I hadn’t known the origin of the name and found Juan Cole offering a useful definition of it as well as an interesting commentary on presidential names as derived from Semitic languages more generally:

Barack is a Semitic word meaning “to bless” as a verb or “blessing” as a noun. In its Hebrew form, barak, it is found all through the Bible. It first occurs in Genesis 1:22: “And God blessed (ḇāreḵə ) them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.”

Or, perhaps we can ask the question: why is it that while the media loved to harp on Obama’s middle name throughout the campaign in order to foment Islamophobia that they are largely excluding Rahm Israel Emanuel’s middle name when discussing his new position as White House Chief of Staff? Curious. No, not really.

But Emanuel continues to be a dangerous pick and as Ali Abunimah mentioned in the article I posted earlier today, he signals a more hardlined approach than George Bush especially when it comes to Palestine. Someone commented on Facebook and on my post that he didn’t serve in the army because he didn’t participate in combat. Here is what the Telegraph has to say about his “service” in the Israeli Terrorist Forces (ITF):

He took a break from politics during the 1991 Gulf War, volunteering as a mechanic on an army base in Israel. It was on his return that he joined the presidential primary campaign of Bill Clinton, then the Governor of Arkansas. It was to prove the move that launched his national political career.

From my point of view the fact that he 1) volunteered to serve the ITF and 2) that he did indeed serve them demonstrates where his commitments lie. Whatever daily war crimes were carried out during that time period he is complicit in. He facilitated the ITF in carrying out whatever missions they carried out in his work as a mechanic. That work likely enabled more tanks and jeeps to invade, kidnap, and murder Palestinians every day. Who do you think repaired the vehicle that came into Nablus today to kidnap a Palestinian?:

Undercover Israeli forces seized on Thursday an Islamic Jihad activist from a city street in Nablus, in the northern West Bank.

Eighteen-year-old Suhieb Al-Kharaz told Ma’an about the abduction of the man, who is his uncle.

“Undercover Israeli forces who were riding in a civilian vehicle loaded with furniture had stopped in front of a grocery which belongs to the Al-Kharaz family and arrested my uncle Mohammad Ziad Makawi Al-Kharaz, who is 42 years old, and withdrew shortly after without shooting.”

Moreover, would Obama appoint, say, a Pakistani American to such a position if that person had served in the Pakistani army?

Emanuel’s father, member of the Jewish Irgun terrorist organization, had this promise to make this morning in response to his son’s acceptance of the appointment:

Emanuel has close ties to Israel. In an interview with an Israeli newspaper, his father, Dr Benjamin Emanuel said the appointment would be a boon to the Jewish state.

“Obviously, he will influence the president to be pro-Israel,” Dr. Emanuel said in the interview. He said that his son visits Tel Aviv most summers.

Moreover, for those myopic Americans who care only about domestic issues, Emanuel will not bode well for things like the economy, something many Americans reported as the driving factor in their choice of Obama in the voting booth:

Unfortunately, Emanuel is a militant advocate for free-trade policies; he was a point man in the White House in the fight to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement and similar deals that have been passionately opposed by the very labor, environmental and farm groups that were essential players in electing Obama. When he ran for Congress in 2002, major unions supported his Democratic primary opponent, former Illinois State Representative Nancy Kaszak.

Picking Emanuel would reassure Wall Street, but it won’t give much comfort to Main Street.

I don’t know enough about David Axelrod, Obama’s choice for his Senior Adviser, but if the rule of thumb that was applied to Obama throughout the campaign (i.e., guilt by association) is any indication it does not bode well:

Despite their very, uh, different personalities, Obama and Emanuel have one big thing in common: David Axelrod. Emanuel is one of Axelrod’s closest friends; Axelrod even signed the ketubah at Emanuel’s wedding.

And, like with Emanuel, it seems there are questions about Axelrod related to the economy:

Open question: What cut of $700 million did Axelrod & Co. take home? Hard to argue they didn’t earn the cut — whatever it is — but the figure could well be obscene.

There is more on Axelrod in this Alternet piece, though nothing clearly linking his beliefs or practices to the Zionist state. Yet anyway. That remains to be seen.

All of this has been tremendously disappointing and depressing to say the least. But listening to dear Nora’s always fabulous reporting on her Flashpoints show yesterday lifted my spirits tremendously because she played a song by a hip hop group that I had not yet heard of–the Welfare Poets–and the song she played is incredible. Here is the video of their song that she played, “Let it Be Known,” which features one of Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s sermons at the end. I must say every time I hear him preach it makes me want to join his church. He is brilliant, inspiring, gifted.

By today there was also some good dialogue and discussion about what a President Obama will mean for the U.S. and for the rest of the world. On The Real News there is a good discussion with Bill Fletcher, Ralph Nader, and Tom Morris that has some useful strategies for organizers to keep them from falling in the trap of merely looking at Obama as a messianic figure. (Thanks Rania for sending me that!) And the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation today sent out an email asking people to do exactly what grassroots organizers must do right now–what Bill Fletcher says we should do right now: organize! For those who live in the U.S. here is what they are doing and a link to how you can get involved:

Tuesday’s election of Barack Obama as president showed how far we’ve come in this country since the days of Jim Crow, but we still have a long way to go to win ethnic equality in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. That’s why our first-ever national speaking tour, Separate Is Never Equal: Stories of Apartheid from South Africa and Palestine will focus on ending Israel’s racist hafradah (separation) policies.

Even though Tuesday’s election was a clear mandate against Bush’s failed foreign policies of militarism and imperialism, we don’t expect to win our fight for human rights and the application of international law on inauguration day.

At the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, we understand that politicians are often the last ones to get it. Policy change is always preceded by popular education and grassroots organizing. That’s why, together with Diana Buttu, a former legal advisor and spokesperson for the Palestinian negotiating team, and Rev. Eddie Makue, the General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches, we will take our message that apartheid was wrong for South Africans and is wrong for Palestinians directly to the American people starting Monday.

Just Foreign Policy is also mobilizing asking people to sign on to a letter asking Obama to create a just policy. You can sign the letter and also add your own issue to it to make it more personal–and more likely to be read by clicking on this link.

For those who want an idea of what you might add to that letter or how you might want to start organizing you should check out some of the analysis on Democracy Now! this morning. There was an excellent roundtable featuring Tariq Ali, Ali Abunimah, John Pilger, Mahmood Mamdani, Laura Carlsen, and Raed Jarrar. You can watch the episode below or read the transcript at this link. (Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a Youtube clip yet of John Pilger, but you can also watch the entire episode at Democracy Now!’s website).

Hopefully people feel motivated to ACT after watching, listening, reading here. I’ll post one more reminder from Abunimah that reiterates so many others today:

And I think that progressive people across this country, you know, instead of basking in the euphoria, need to pick themselves up today and start demanding that the Obama administration immediately end the siege of Gaza. It’s totally indefensible. It is a crime unprecedented in modern history that 1.5 million people are confined to a ghetto, starved, cut off from the world, threatened. This is indefensible, and there’s no excuse for it to continue even for a single day under a new administration. And we should be setting the standard very high, not accepting slight hints that in a few years’ time an Obama administration might accept a Palestinian state or might talk about one. The days for that are over. The situation is urgent, and we really need to see radical change. It’s not going to come from Rahm Emanuel and Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk; it’s only going to come from a groundswell demanding that the promises of change be kept.

election results

An Najah University ballot box
An Najah University ballot box

I knew that the polls had closed and the votes had all been counted because I heard honking in the streets, though my apartment is too far away to make out the flags on the cars (even all the taxis and services had political party flags all over their cars today). The polls closed at 3 PM today and then there was an enormous party on campus with something like 10,000 students in attendance. But no I don’t mean elections in in the U.S. obviously. There were elections here in Palestine, too. At An Najah University. Student elections here, like in Jordan and in Lebanon, are important and closely followed because the students’ political parties are the same as those in the country at large. And following elections here in Palestine, whether in the national elections or in universities, is a far greater lesson in democracy than anything the U.S. tries to claim as democracy. For instance, for a university election today, classes were canceled so that students could vote. Imagine if the U.S. did this so that workers could vote? Or consider the fact that there are numerous political parties here: Arab Liberation Front, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Fateh, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Mubaddara, Palestine Arab Front, Palestine Democratic Union (FIDA), Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), Palestinian People’s Party (PPP), Palestinian Popular Struggle Front (PPSF), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command (PFLP GC), and Sa’iqa. Imagine so many political parties in the U.S. What would that look like?

An Najah University election posters
An Najah University election posters
Some of the students collected themselves into political blocks–as in the leftist students–so that they could win more seats. And another, Hamas, boycotted the election because of PA/Fateh arrests of Hamas affiliated students (it is important to recall how closely tied Fateh is to the Americans–this helps to make sense of everything in terms of attempts to disrupt democracy and in terms of why Fateh people in the PA want Obama to be elected). In the end, Fateh won the most seats in the student council:

Students affiliated with the Palestinian Fatah Party won An-Najah National University’s student senate elections in the West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday.

The Fatah bloc’s win brought 58 senate seats, followed by a bloc of leftist Palestinian parties’ 10. The Leftist bloc represented both the Popular and Democratic Fronts for the Liberation of Palestine, as well as the People’s Party.

Islamic Jihad gained eight seats, the Palestinian National Initiative took three and the FIDA bloc gained two. Hamas’s student bloc boycotted the election in response to an alleged Palestinian Authority (PA) arrest campaign, which the PA denies.

Members of the university’s election committee expressed surprise at the relatively high turnout for the vote. Despite the Hamas bloc’s boycott, nearly 60 percent of students participated.

University President Rami Al-Hamdallah congratulated students for their “fair and democratic elections.”

Palestinian democracy should be compared to the lack of democracy in the Zionist state. In its universities and elsewhere in the state contrary to Americans who think that it is the “only democracy in the Middle East.” Here is an example from their so-called democracy:

Ali Bahar, chairperson of the Palestinian Student Union at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was detained for three hours by university and presidential security officials yesterday (2 November) after refusing to shake the hand of visiting President Shimon Peres, calling him “responsible for the murderer of children.” Bahar’s student card was confiscated and a university disciplinary committee will be convened to decide on disciplinary measures, if any, against Bahar.

mugs for sale in Gaza
mugs for sale in Gaza
Indeed, Palestinian democracy and the desire for democracy–as witnessed in an Al Jazeera report today of a Palestinian American trapped in Gaza who really wanted to vote, but since mail is rendered illegal by the Israeli Terrorist Forces (ITF), he cannot vote. He is not allowed to leave, even to go to the American Consulate in Al Quds. But Americans love democracy too, don’t you know that? Or is it just the rhetoric of democracy that they love? The illusion of it. Or the excuse of it as in using it to bomb their way to democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan. In spite of all this some Palestinians still seem to be under the delusion that Obama is their savior (witness the mug image above). They’ve caught the American disease of Obamamania. Or should I say Obamination?

students waiting for election results
students waiting for election results
It seems that only Hamas is connected to some version of reality as they commented on either outcome of the election (because in America we don’t have democracy; in spite of five candidates being on the ballot we hear nothing of the other three candidates or parties).

Hamas is skeptical that either American presidential contender will change the relationship between the Gaza-based movement and the United States, a spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum described the choice between Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama as a choice “between two awful options.”

Hamas’s leader in exile, Khaled Mash’al, said that the movement would “welcome any change in US policy,” especially if the future president corrected what he called America’s “bias toward Israel.”

If only more people would at least admit to that. I had to get offline earlier from chatting with a friend because I was so disgusted by friends of mine who were promoting Obama via their online status. It’s one thing to admit you’re voting for the lesser of two evils. Or that you admit there are deep-rooted flaws in the system. It’s another to actively promote a candidate like Obama (and did I mention one of these friends is from Pakistan? His support of Obama is mind boggling given Obama’s stated vow to continue the spread of war into Pakistan).

PFLP election display
PFLP election display
In contradistinction to Hamas, we have the Palestinian Authority continuing their slow march to suicide in their support of Obama:

Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders are pulling for US Senator Barack Obama on Tuesday, a departure from the PA’s semi-official line that the presidential election in the United States is “an internal American issue.”

On Tuesday, which is Election Day in the United States, PA sources confirmed that both the Palestinian president and prime minister hope Obama wins, according to a report published by a Lebanese newspaper.

Sources in Ramallah told Al-Akhbar that “despite [Obama’s] leanings toward Israel,” the highest-level officials in the PA have supported the Democrat’s candidacy. PA officials also said that Obama’s apparently pro-Israel stance is political, “aimed at gaining the support of the Israel and Jewish lobby in the United States,” an Israeli newspaper reported.

The same sources said that after meeting with Obama, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad considered the senator’s position the best “they have ever heard from an American president.”

Are you kidding me? The best position? These people need to read Ralph Nader’s letter to Obama that I posted last night. Or else they are aware and insane. Or high. Or both. Who knows. But perhaps another reminder would do readers well. Did they not hear Obama say–in the midst of the financial upheaval in the U.S. and the congressional bailout–that he would increase foreign (read: military) aid to the Zionist state? Of course, George Bush is no different as Ehud Olmert reminds us today:

Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert praised US President George W. Bush on Tuesday, just hours before his country finishes electing his replacement. “His name will be engraved in golden letters on the heart of the State of Israel,” Olmert told Ynet.

“It is unreasonable to speak of what we have received from the Bush administration,” he continued. “There are many things we cannot discuss – the $30 billion we received over 10 years are only the very tip of the iceberg of the things Bush has given us.”

080724-obama-sderot Maybe a photograph of Obama would help refresh people’s memories. This photograph is one of Obama’s trip to the Zionist state when he not only barely spent any time in Palestine or with Palestinians, but he chose to go to the Israeli colony of Sderot, built on the Palestinian village land of Najd; meanwhile the residents of Najd have being living under siege in Palestinian refugee camps in Gaza for the past few years. But Obama somehow thought he didn’t need to go there. If this isn’t enough just think about what it would mean to have Obama’s adviser, Dennis Ross, back in the picture: it would be an utter disaster for Palestinians.

Fateh election display
Fateh election display
There are some Palestinians and Palestinian Americans who have a more complicated view of things, but these are not people in power, in the PA. Still there are some who feel support for Obama would lead to something better because how could anyone possibly be worse than Bush (refer to “aid” comment above). Then there are the Arab Americans who are in the U.S. and who are trying to vote today. Hopefully they will be allowed to cast their ballots, whatever those ballots may be. But it is rather naive to think that racism won’t keep them from the polls. Indeed, there is great reason to think that racism will play a role in that process and indeed it already has. Not just for Arab Americans but lots of people of color. And lots of people in general will and already have had problems. Because the U.S. is not a democracy despite its rhetoric to the contrary. Even Oprah Winfrey had problems voting as a result of the deeply flawed electronic voting system:

Oprah Winfrey: “When I voted yesterday electronically, the first vote that you vote for on the ballot is the presidential candidate. And so, I hadn’t—you know, it was my first time doing electronic, so I didn’t obviously mark the X strong enough, or I held down too long, because then when I went back to check it, it had not recorded my presidential vote. And I was like, ohhOhhOh. And so the woman is walking around. And she says, why are you going back, why are you going back? I go, because it…didn’t…record…my presidential vote! So I went back and double-checked. So that’s why they have the, you know—check. Make sure you double check.”

Greg Palast has documented at length the problems with voter fraud and what people should do about it. He notes many issues one of them affecting new citizens and new voters in particular. You can watch Palast’s film or read his book if you want to know more. You can also watch this two-part documentary about voter fraud in this current 2008 election:

Why is it that when there is a national election in Palestine there are American observers here and Americans have none? It’s a very strange phenomenon. I mean, obviously the hegemonic power gets to observe elections of those it dominates–whether as an NGO or a government delegation. But still I really do think it should be the other way around. Already today there are stories of voter problems with electronic voting machines making Palast’s predictions come true. This vote flipping seems to work generally in one direction (flipping towards McCain).

All of this should cause outrage among Americans. It should at the very least cause some disillusionment, but it doesn’t seem to. It reminds me of Malcolm X’s famous speech “The Ballot or the Bullet.” His speech may not be precisely relevant today, but in some ways I wish it were:

And in 1964 this seems to be the year, because what can the white man use now to fool us after he put down that march on Washington? And you see all through that now. He tricked you, had you marching down to Washington. Yes, had you marching back and forth between the feet of a dead man named Lincoln and another dead man named George Washington singing “We Shall Overcome.” He made a chump out of you. He made a fool out of you. He made you think you were going somewhere and you end up going nowhere but between Lincoln and Washington.

So today, our people are disillusioned. They’ve become disenchanted. They’ve become dissatisfied, and in their frustrations they want action.

And in 1964 you’ll see this young black man, this new generation asking for the ballot or the bullet. That old Uncle Tom action is outdated. The young generation don’t want to hear anything about the odds are against us. What do we care about odds?…

I’m no politician. I’m not even a student of politics. I’m not a Republican, nor a Democrat, nor an American, and got sense enough to know it. I’m one of the 22 million black victims of the Democrats, one of the 22 million black victims of the Republicans, and one of the 22 million black victims of Americanism. And when I speak, I don’t speak as a Democrat, or a Republican, *nor an American.* I speak as a victim of America’s so-called democracy. You and I have never seen democracy; all we’ve seen is hypocrisy. When we open our eyes today and look around America, we see America not through the eyes of someone who have — who has enjoyed the fruits of Americanism, we see America through the eyes of someone who has been the victim of Americanism. We don’t see any American dream; we’ve experienced only the American nightmare. We haven’t benefited from America’s democracy; we’ve only suffered from America’s hypocrisy. And the generation that’s coming up now can see it and are not afraid to say it.

If you — If you go to jail, so what? If you black, you were born in jail. If you black, you were born in jail, in the North as well as the South. Stop talking about the South. Long as you south of the — Long as you south of the Canadian border, you’re south. Don’t call Governor Wallace a Dixie governor; Romney is a Dixie governor.

Twenty-two million black victims of Americanism are waking up and they’re gaining a new political consciousness, becoming politically mature. And as they become — develop this political maturity, they’re able to see the recent trends in these political elections. They see that the whites are so evenly divided that every time they vote the race is so close they have to go back and count the votes all over again. And that…which means that any block, any minority that has a block of votes that stick together is in a strategic position. Either way you go, that’s who gets it. You’re — You’re in a position to determine who will go to the White House and who will stay in the dog house. You’re the one who has that power. You can keep Johnson in Washington D.C., or you can send him back to his Texas cotton patch. You’re the one who sent Kennedy to Washington. You’re the one who put the present Democratic Administration in Washington D.C. The whites were evenly divided. It was the fact that you threw 80 percent of your votes behind the Democrats that put the Democrats in the White House.

If only his words would cause American people to see how dangerous the two-party choices they make can be. Or even participating in the system at all. If only Americans could see the hypocrisy today. But I think Americans’ viewpoint has become rather cloudy merely because one candidate is African American. Obama’s race does not prevent him from being a part of this hypocritical system. Witness the taring and feathering of Bill Ayers and Rashid Khalidi and Obama’s complete silence on the subject. He is complicit in increasing division and racism in the country. This is not change and hope. It is not democracy. It is hypocrisy and deception. It is the same old American story and system.

reason 598, 599, 600, etc. NOT to vote for Obama

…or McCain for that matter. But given the tendency for formerly progressive or radical people to support Obama here are more reasons to vote for Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney. I have not been keeping track exactly, but over the course of the last year there are numerous examples I’ve given on this blog about why a vote for Obama would be disastrous for the Middle East. Here are some more of those reasons:

Former U.S. Ambassador Martin Indyk has taken the opportunity to declare to the Israeli public his support for U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

Contrasting himself with President Bush, Obama has pledged to “take an active role and make a personal commitment to do all I can to advance the cause of peace from the start of my administration.” Obama’s team of Mideast advisers includes former Mideast peace coordinator Dennis Ross, former Ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer, and Dan Shapiro, a former National Security Council official. These individuals have impeccable pro-Israel credentials, are longtime supporters of US engagement in Arab-Israeli peacemaking, and will likely have important roles in an Obama administration.

Because of Obama’s relative inexperience on foreign policy, it is this part of his team that is getting much of the attention, and one adviser in particular — Dennis Ross, Bill Clinton’s Mideast envoy whose record includes supporting the pro-Iraq War advocacy campaigns of the Project for the New American Century and serving as a consultant to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a bastion of Israel-centric policy thinking in Washington.

Generally regarded as a political moderate who has the ear and respect of both Republicans and Democrats, Ross, a former Soviet specialist, reportedly has told friends and foreign officials that he hopes to nab a very senior post in an Obama administration, one that at least covers Iran policy, if not the entire Greater Middle East.

But Ross’s record as a Mideast peacemaker during the Clinton years, longtime association with hawkish political factions, and track record promoting a hard line vis-à-vis Israel’s Arab neighbours have spurred concern that he would be a less-than-ideal pick for a Middle East portfolio in an Obama administration, which many presume he will be offered.

The head of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s Negotiations Affairs Department met with one of US presidential candidate Barack Obama’s more prominent advisors in Jericho on Saturday.

Saeb Erikat discussed updates on Palestinian-Israeli negotiations with Daniel Kerster, advisor to the American Democratic candidate.

Pertinent to the talks was the inability of either side to reach a peace agreement by 2009, a responsibility that Erikat claimed belongs to Israel and its refusal to comply with commitments made on the Road Map for Peace.

This will likely be one of Obama’s advisers, as I wrote yesterday, this man, Rahm Emanuel, who is related to and participated in terrorism (read: Irgun):

Of the three brothers, Rahm is the most famous, Ari is the richest and Zeke, over time, will probably be the most important. Zeke is also, according to his brothers, the smartest. Rahm, naturally, gets the most press attention. Last term he managed the President’s campaigns to pass the crime bill and the North American Free Trade Agreement, but this term he has taken over the job and close-to-the-Oval-Office cubbyhole of his friend Stephanopoulos. Now chief promoter of Clinton’s small-bore issues like stopping teen-age smoking and requiring trigger locks on guns, Rahm has been singled out in recent profiles as the centrist, hyperactive counterreaction to the Stephanopoulos liberal cool. The articles are more colorful than is typical of the genre (the dead fish helps), but Rahm is more interesting, and reflective of his time, in the context of his brothers.

Together, Emanuel Freres are a triumvirate for the 90’s. All are rising stars in three of America’s most high-profile and combative professions. All understand and enjoy power, and know how using it behind the scenes can change the way people think, live and die. All have been called obnoxious, arrogant, aggressive, passionate and committed. All three get up before dawn. All are the sons of an Israeli father, now a 70-year-old Chicago pediatrician, who passed secret codes for Menachem Begin’s underground. Irgun, and an American Jewish mother, who worked in the civil rights movement and owned, briefly, a Chicago rock-and-roll club. All three also worry about a less successful Emanuel: Shoshana, 23, their adoptive sister, who crash-landed into the family at the age of 8 days, when the brothers were in their teens.

Or, if you don’t believe me, take Angry Arab’s word for it:

I have a theory about US presidents and the Middle East: every president since Lyndon Johnson becomes more pro-Israeli than his predecessor–with the exception of George H.W. Bush. So expect Obama to be more pro-Israeli than George W. Bush–his palling around notwithstanding.

And yet it seems some people are still misguided enough to believe that Obama will bring change to the region. Of all places, people in Bint Jbeil seem to be supporting Obama:

Like many other Lebanese-Americans in Bint Jbeil, a town near the border with Israel where Hizbullah enjoys strong support, Hussein al-Sayyed speaks fondly of the American way of life and says he plans to cast his vote for Democrat Barack Obama. In July and August 2006 Bint Jbeil was subjected to massive Israeli air and artillery bombardment as Hizbullah fighters battled invading Israeli troops. Much of the town was reduced to rubble, and it still bears the scars of that deadly 34-day war.

The United States and its regional ally Israel label Hizbullah a “terrorist” organization and hold it responsible responsible for many attacks on Westerners and Israelis.

“I’ll vote for Obama, that’s for sure,” Sayyed, a Shiite 48-year-old restaurant owner and fan of the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini, told AFP ahead of Tuesday’s US presidential election.

Was nothing learned from Khomeini’s anti-Western speeches? I hope that Sayyed reads Angry Arab’s blog and wakes up a bit about the expected reality to visit Lebanon with a president Obama.

on sovereignty

Watching the first U.S. Presidential debates today was like watching a contest to see who could out perform the other with respect to American hegemony and supremacy. It was like watching who could make more blunders to prove who did not know anything about the regions they discussed (both of them said the “Iranian Republican Guard,” when it is the Iranian Revolutionary Guard; the Republican refers to Iraq). And watching McCain try to pronounce Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s name was classic and comic and tragic all at once. It was not a particularly thrilling debate. None of the economic or foreign policy issues they discussed showed much of a difference between the two candidates. But that was to be expected. It would have been different if Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney and Independent candidate Ralph Nader had been present. Then we would have seen a real debate with issues addressed in a substantive manner. A website that is supposed to feature Nader, McKinney, and others in an alternative or a response debate is supposed to appear today on the Voter Watch website, but I don’t think it’s online yet.

But back to debate in which only two candidates were allowed to participate in the U.S. so-called democracy. Here are some interesting highlights. This one shows McCain’s delusional mindset:

MCCAIN: And I want to tell you that now that we will succeed and our troops will come home, and not in defeat, that we will see a stable ally in the region and a fledgling democracy.

The consequences of defeat would have been increased Iranian influence. It would have been increase in sectarian violence. It would have been a wider war, which the United States of America might have had to come back.

So there was a lot at stake there. And thanks to this great general, David Petraeus, and the troops who serve under him, they have succeeded. And we are winning in Iraq, and we will come home. And we will come home as we have when we have won other wars and not in defeat.

This one shows Obama alluding to his plans to bomb Pakistan:

And we’ve got a choice. We could allow our troops to just be on the defensive and absorb those blows again and again and again, if Pakistan is unwilling to cooperate, or we have to start making some decisions.

This one shows McCain admitting that Israel is the 51st American state:

My reading of the threat from Iran is that if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, it is an existential threat to the State of Israel and to other countries in the region because the other countries in the region will feel compelling requirement to acquire nuclear weapons as well.

Now we cannot a second Holocaust. Let’s just make that very clear. What I have proposed for a long time, and I’ve had conversation with foreign leaders about forming a league of democracies, let’s be clear and let’s have some straight talk. The Russians are preventing significant action in the United Nations Security Council.

I have proposed a league of democracies, a group of people – a group of countries that share common interests, common values, common ideals, they also control a lot of the world’s economic power. We could impose significant meaningful, painful sanctions on the Iranians that I think could have a beneficial effect.

The Iranians have a lousy government, so therefore their economy is lousy, even though they have significant oil revenues. So I am convinced that together, we can, with the French, with the British, with the Germans and other countries, democracies around the world, we can affect Iranian behavior.

This one shows Obama confuses Iraq and Iran (his use of Republican Guard) and that Obama also sees Israel as America’s 51st state:

Well, let me just correct something very quickly. I believe the Republican Guard of Iran is a terrorist organization. I’ve consistently said so. What Senator McCain refers to is a measure in the Senate that would try to broaden the mandate inside of Iraq. To deal with Iran.

And ironically, the single thing that has strengthened Iran over the last several years has been the war in Iraq. Iraq was Iran’s mortal enemy. That was cleared away. And what we’ve seen over the last several years is Iran’s influence grow. They have funded Hezbollah, they have funded Hamas, they have gone from zero centrifuges to 4,000 centrifuges to develop a nuclear weapon.

So obviously, our policy over the last eight years has not worked. Senator McCain is absolutely right, we cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran. It would be a game changer. Not only would it threaten Israel, a country that is our stalwart ally, but it would also create an environment in which you could set off an arms race in this Middle East.

Now here’s what we need to do. We do need tougher sanctions. I do not agree with Senator McCain that we’re going to be able to execute the kind of sanctions we need without some cooperation with some countries like Russia and China that are, I think Senator McCain would agree, not democracies, but have extensive trade with Iran but potentially have an interest in making sure Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapon.

But we are also going to have to, I believe, engage in tough direct diplomacy with Iran and this is a major difference I have with Senator McCain, this notion by not talking to people we are punishing them has not worked. It has not worked in Iran, it has not worked in North Korea. In each instance, our efforts of isolation have actually accelerated their efforts to get nuclear weapons. That will change when I’m president of the United States.

Here is McCain struggling to pronounce Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s name:

Senator Obama twice said in debates he would sit down with Ahmadinejad, Chavez and Raul Castro without precondition. Without precondition. Here is Ahmadinenene (ph), Ahmadinejad, who is, Ahmadinejad, who is now in New York, talking about the extermination of the State of Israel, of wiping Israel off the map, and we’re going to sit down, without precondition, across the table, to legitimize and give a propaganda platform to a person that is espousing the extermination of the state of Israel, and therefore then giving them more credence in the world arena and therefore saying, they’ve probably been doing the right thing, because you will sit down across the table from them and that will legitimize their illegal behavior.

Okay, I am being reductive a little bit, but when you’re dealing with politicians who are reductive, the discourse tends to spiral downward quickly. You can read the entire transcript yourself if you like. The word Palestine was never mentioned once. Hamas was mentioned. The state of Israel was mentioned. But not Palestine. But the entire discourse of foreign policy whether in relation to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Iran was all about a total disregard for sovereignty. I find this rather intriguing given that Obama is from the state of Hawai’i. Hawai’i is the 50th state in the U.S. and was made a state in 1959 (note this is after World War II when the U.S. likes to pretend it was attacked by Japan; this was not part of the U.S. during World War II). But it was done so against the will of the indigenous people of these islands. There was an amazing episode of the program “Inside USA” on Al Jazeera today called “The Other Hawai’i.” The entire episode focused on the history of Hawai’i and its struggle for sovereignty. Although the U.S. recognized Hawai’i’s independence in 1826, in 1898 U.S. President McKinley began the process of illegally annexing Hawai’i. Then as now it was corporate greed and colonialism that motivated American designs on annexing new territory; Haunani-Kay Trask’s A Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai’i makes this point clear:

The decade of the 1850’s witnessed a struggle between those planters seeking annexation to avoid U.S. sugar tariffs, and a monarchy attempting to preserve its sovereignty while fending off military interventions and a growing foreign element in the Kingdom. The first annexation treaty was drafted by Americans in the King’s government, and it sought Hawai’i’s admission as a state in order to guarantee Native rights. But Kamehameha III was opposed to annexation and the Treaty remained unsigned at his death. His successor, Prince Alexander Liholiho, ascended the throne in 1854. He terminated ongoing negotiations for annexation to the United Sates, substituting a policy of “sovereignty with reciprocity.” Concerned that American sugar planters in Hawai’i would agitate for annexation to circumvent both the high U.S. sugar tariff and competition with sugar from the Philippines and other foreign markets, Liholiho attempted to ease their fears through a reciprocity treaty that would satisfy the planters’ demand for profit. To protect Hawaiian independence, meanwhile, he coupled his reciprocity position with an independence policy. Under this plan, the U.S., France, and Britain would agree to respect and maintain the independence of Hawai’i.

The interesting thing about the program on Al Jazeera today–which I will definitely post if/when it becomes available on Youtube, is that it did not just give this history and also discuss the current resistance movement with respect to ensuring native Hawai’ians learn their history, language, and culture, but also that it weighed in on the various strategies people are considering within this movement. There were those who feel like accepting the Congress and President Bill Clinton’s “apology” in 1993 is a step in the right direction; others feel that this is a sign that their fate will be that of those Native American tribes on the mainland. The text of the “apology” is very interesting. I’ll quote some of it below, the part that goes over some of the historical material where the U.S. admits its colonial mistakes through the use of its military, government, missionaries, and sugar corporations:

Whereas, from 1826 until 1893, the United States recognized the independence of the Kingdom of Hawaii, extended full and complete diplomatic recognition to the Hawaiian Government, and entered into treaties and conventions with the Hawaiian monarchs to govern commerce and navigation in 1826, 1842, 1849, 1875, and 1887;

Whereas, the Congregational Church (now known as the United Church of Christ), through its American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, sponsored and sent more than 100 missionaries to the Kingdom of Hawaii between 1820 and 1850;

Whereas, on January 14, 1893, John L. Stevens (hereafter referred to in this Resolution as the “United States Minister”), the United States Minister assigned to the sovereign and independent Kingdom of Hawaii conspired with a small group of non-Hawaiian residents of the Kingdom of Hawaii, including citizens of the United States, to overthrow the indigenous and lawful Government of Hawaii;

Whereas, in pursuance of the conspiracy to overthrow the Government of Hawaii, the United States Minister and the naval representatives of the United States caused armed naval forces of the United States to invade the sovereign Hawaiian nation on January 16, 1893, and to position themselves near the Hawaiian Government buildings and the Iolani Palace to intimidate Queen Liliuokalani and her Government;

Whereas, on the afternoon of January 17,1893, a Committee of Safety that represented the American and European sugar planters, descendants of missionaries, and financiers deposed the Hawaiian monarchy and proclaimed the establishment of a Provisional Government;

Whereas, the United States Minister thereupon extended diplomatic recognition to the Provisional Government that was formed by the conspirators without the consent of the Native Hawaiian people or the lawful Government of Hawaii and in violation of treaties between the two nations and of international law;

But the most interesting comes at the very end where there is a “disclaimer” stating: “Nothing in this Joint Resolution is intended to serve as a settlement of any claims against the United States.” In other words, it is an empty apology as Noenoe Silva points out in the show. No reparations. No land returned. No removal of the excessive number of U.S. military bases on the islands. There are 150 military installations in Hawai’i from every brach of the military; it is, in fact, the most militarized place on earth. And as Kaleikoa Ka’eo stated in the program, if the U.S. government is looking for weapons of mass destruction–including nuclear weapons–they should look no further than the U.S. military bases in Hawai’i, which are also the source of never ending environmental devastation. Moreover, the program also highlighted the problem of more forced removal of indigenous Hawai’ians from their land. There is a community of homeless indigenous people who live on the beach and live off the land; the government now has instituted a form of ethnic cleansing whereby they will be removed into shelters. This is to make the beaches look prettier for the tourists. Of course, the question of Native Hawai’ian sovereignty–or any other indigenous people in the Americas–was not on the agenda last night.

But what about other settler colonialisms? Just as the U.S. doesn’t recognize Hawai’ian sovereignty, it also doesn’t recognize the sovereignty of Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghans, Iranians, or Pakistanis. That is clear. And actually Mahmoud Abbas spoke to the United Nations General Assembly this week about illegal Israeli settlers:

“It is strange that we hear unacceptable and unexplainable justifications for the continuation of settlement activity in east Jerusalem and the rest of Palestinian lands which they treat as if it was not occupied territories,” said Abbas.

“They think peace is achievable without ending the occupation of Palestinian lands occupied in 1967 including the Syrian Golan Heights and the Lebanese Sheba farms,” he explained, adding “occupation of Jerusalem should also come to an end as it is the capital of the future Palestinian independent state.”

Abbas suggested that international monitoring was necessary if real solutions were to be implemented with a vision of ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He added that the international Quartet must also make more efficient efforts, as well as the UN Security Council and other UN organizations.

Unfortunately, Abbas continues to speak in a framework that does not even mention Israeli settlers on all of historic Palestine’s land. Nor does he mention, at least in the brief piece I quoted from above, anything of the intensifying illegal settler violence in the West Bank. Despite videos on the Internet, and countless eyewitness accounts of this violence nothing changes. It merely gets worse. Every day. Even the New York Times ran a story about illegal settlers this week. Some friends here who are from villages around Nablus tell me that they fear, feel, and think that this settler violence is orchestrated not necessarily to push Palestinians out of Palestine in another form of ethnic cleansing, but also to push Palestinians off their land and into the cities. Burning olive trees and making it impossible for Palestinians to farm because water is diverted to illegal Israeli settlements for swimming pools and their sewage is dumped onto Palestinian land–all of this contributes to this recent method of Israeli ethnic cleansing (on this see an excellent article: How do you explain to a Palestinian child he must ration his drinking water so an Israeli can swim?). Some Palestinians in and around Nablus resisted this over the weekend as they reclaimed their land during Friday prayer.

Back home in the U.S. we have presidential candidates like McCain who say they are not interested in helping negotiate and sort of solution for Palestinians. This amidst the recent criticisms of the Quartet’s failings. Meanwhile, comedian Sarah Silverman has tried to capture the Zionist American youth in a bid to support Obama with a somewhat clever, if offensive (there is blatant racism in this clip as she compares an elderly Jewish woman “Nana” to a young Black man because “we’re all the same inside” and see the quote below about Obama himself and one more, which I won’t repeat here because it is X rated and too offensive to type), video and movement called “The Great Schlep.” It asks Jewish Americans to travel to Florida to convince their grandparents to vote for Obama. But first she lays out the probably racism (yes, there is a long history of Jewish racism against Blacks in the U.S.; and no, don’t throw out old, tired arguments about the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S.):

You know why your grandparents don’t like Barack Obama? Because his name sounds scary. It sounds Muslim. Which he’s obviously not. Yes, Barack Hussein Obama. It’s a super f)(*&^% sh(*&^ name. But you’d think somebody named Manischewitz Guberman might understand that. The name Barack is a Hebrew word. It means lightening.

But then she gets to the real reasons why Jews should vote for Obama. Why? Well, because, as she says, it’s all about the foreign policy:

“Here are some fun facts. Barack Obama’s foreign policy is much more stabilizing and much better for Israel.”

This new campaign is funded by something called the Jewish Council for Education and Research. On their website they state one of their goals as:

In 2008, JewsVote.org is supporting Sen. Barack Obama for president and six other Congressional candidates who share the American Jewish community’s core public values: a robust First Amendment, equal rights for all, broad-based economic and educational opportunity, cultural liberalism, vigilance in the face of oppression, respect for the natural world, a strong but not belligerent foreign policy, and support for Israel.

On the Jews Vote.org website in the above-quoted paragraph if you follow the interactive video display (the reality version, not the rumor version) you see that one of the “realities” that the Jews Vote campaign promotes: “Obama would be a steady hand for Israel”; “Dennis Ross is Obama’s Middle East Advisor”; “Obama is a Christian and has never been a Muslim.” The layers of Islamophobia (the sense of relief the simple comment and its syntax reveals), Zionist support for the state of Israel, and the mere mention of Ross’ name reveals the political underpinnings of this project. It doesn’t take much for people to discover what Ross (who is closely aligned with Likudnik Benjamin Netanyahu) is really about. Here is one little parenthetical statement by the late Edward Said, which pretty much sums it up:

(The American team led by Dennis Ross, a former Israeli-lobby employee – a job to which he has now returned – routinely supported the Israeli position which, after a full decade of negotiation, consisted in handing back 18 per cent of the Occupied Territories to the Palestinians on highly unfavourable terms, with the IDF left in charge of security, borders and water. Naturally enough, the number of settlements has more than doubled since then.)

In a nutshell between the candidates themselves–or at least those we are allowed to watch debate–will bring more of the same when it comes to people whose land is occupied, whose land is invaded, whose land is subjected to the environmental devastation that militarism brings with it.

****************
Addendum. On second thought, maybe McCain and Obama are right. Maybe Israel is the United States’ 51st state. Here are two items that might lead one to reconsider:

1. The Blue and White Star of David will wave on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles as the Consulate General of Israel becomes the first Israeli Consulate office in North America to fly the flag of Israel outside its front door.

Thousands of Southlanders are expected to witness this historic event, which will take place on Sept. 28 at 1 p.m., outside the office of the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles, 6380 Wilshire Blvd. This event, which was organized to commemorate Israel’s 60th anniversary, particularly strikes a So-Cal chord given that Los Angeles is home to the world’s largest Israeli community, outside of Israel itself.

Featured speakers include Consul General of Israel Jacob Dayan and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. During a trip to Israel earlier this year, Villaraigosa was personally presented the Israeli flag by Israel’s President Shimon Peres.

Prior to the raising of Israel’s flag, U.S. Marines will first raise the American flag, followed by members of the California National Guard raising California’s flag. History will follow when Israel Defense Forces soldiers will then raise the flag of Israel. Consul General Dayan explains, “This triumvirate of flags symbolizes the strong, mutually supportive bond that’s been built between Israel and the United States as a whole, as well as between Israel and California specifically.” Adding, “We deeply value these relationships and wanted to take the occasion of Israel’s 60th anniversary to recognize these bonds in a big way.”

2. U.S. European Command has deployed to Israel a high-powered X-band radar and the supporting people and equipment needed for coordinated defense against Iranian missile attack, marking the first permanent U.S. military presence on Israeli soil.

More than a dozen aircraft, including C-5s and C-17s, helped with the Sept. 21 delivery of the AN/TPY-2 Transportable Radar Surveillance/Forward Based X-band Transportable, its ancillary components and some 120 EuCom personnel to Israel’s Nevatim Air Base southeast of Beersheba, said sources here and in Stuttgart, Germany.