the backlash & the steadfast

you knew it was coming. it’s always sort of present for people in north america but i feel that it would be less so if more people were braver about speaking out. if more people were willing to take risks in their personal lives to help others who cannot in the same way. it is happening on several fronts. first, in the theatre with lying zionists twisting the truth–the thing they do best–in order to make sure that people think they are the only victim as per jeffrey goldberg about caryl churchill’s new play:

The playwright Caryl Churchill’s new anti-Jewish agitprop play, “Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza,” has opened in London. The details are over at Harry’s Place. Suffice it to say two things: One, this isn’t surprising, given the peculiar attitude of some of the English to the Jews. Two: Just because it’s not surprising doesn’t mean it’s not shocking. The mainstreaming of the worst anti-Jewish stereotypes — for instance, that Jews glory in the shedding of non-Jewish blood — is upon us.

if you want to see for yourself how a play that represents palestinians in a positive way gets twisted into anti-semitism you can download it here. of course this is not the first time new york theatre groups cracked down to censor art representing palestinians–even when it is not about palestinians directly. you can read the transcript on democracy now! about the play my name is rachel corrie being censored to get a sense of how this played out a few years ago.

the other casualty is joel kovel whose contract at bard college has been terminated because of his work to eradicate zionism. here is joel’s statement, in part, including what you can do to help at the bottom:

Bard has effectively crafted for itself an image as a bastion of progressive thought. Its efforts were crowned with being anointed in 2005 by the /Princeton Review /as the second-most progressive college in the United States, the journal adding that Bard “puts the ‘liberal’ in ‘liberal arts.'” But “liberal” thought evidently has its limits; and my work against Zionism has encountered these. A fundamental principle of mine is that the educator must criticize the injustices of the world, whether or not this involves him or her in conflict with the powers that be. The systematic failure of the academy to do so plays no small role in the perpetuation of injustice and state violence. In no sphere of political action does this principle apply more vigorously than with the question of Zionism; and in no country is this issue more strategically important than in the United States, given the fact that United States support is necessary for Israel’s behavior.

The worse this behavior, the more strenuous must be the suppression of criticism. I take the view, then, that Israeli human rights abuses are deeply engrained in a culture of impunity granted chiefly, though not exclusively, in the United States—which culture arises from suppression of debate and open inquiry within those institutions, such as colleges, whose social role it is to enlighten the public. Therefore, if the world stands outraged at Israeli aggression in Gaza, it should also be outraged at institutions in the United States that grant Israel impunity. In my view, Bard College is one such institution. It has suppressed critical engagement with Israel and Zionism, and therefore has enabled abuses such as have occurred and are occurring in Gaza. This notion is of course, not just descriptive of a place like Bard. It is also the context within which the critic of such a place and the Zionist ideology it enables becomes marginalized, and then removed.

For further information: www.codz.org; Joel Kovel, “Overcoming
Impunity,” /The Link/ Jan-March 2009 (www.ameu.org).

To write the Bard administration:

President Leon Botstein <president [at] bard.edu.

Executive Vice-President Dimitri Papadimitriou

joel’s book is an important one and he needs to be supported. i wish i had the time to lend to him as i did with norman finkelstein when he faced the same sort of situation at depaul a few years ago. joel’s book overcoming zionism is a very important book that is influencing many people and getting them to move away from zionism.

and canadian professors are also facing censorship and repression due to their teaching, research, service related to palestine. yet one more way we can see how academic freedom is pretty much an outmoded idea and nonexistent, particularly in north america. unless you think praise of the terrorist state of israel with no mention of palestinians as a kind of mandate for faculty and students as academic freedom. there is now a petition and statement people may sign:

To sign the open letter send an e-mail to faculty [at] caiaweb.org

Defend Freedom of Speech

Open Letter to university community regarding Palestinian Rights and Canadian Universities

The last two years have seen increasing efforts to limit advocacy of Palestinian rights on Canadian universities, amounting to a pattern of the suppression of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. These include:

* Statements from 19 university presidents in the summer of 2007 to foreclose debate on the academic boycott of Israel, citing “academic freedom”.

* Visits to Israel by eight university presidents in the summer of 2008, with no equivalent outreach to Palestinian institutions.

* Efforts to ban the use of the term “Israeli Apartheid” at McMaster University in February-March 2008, overturned only through a campaign of protest

* Discipline against students involved in peaceful protests for Palestinian rights at York University in March in 2008

* Attempted discipline against a faculty member who addressed a rally against Israeli Apartheid at York University in 2008

* A pattern of cancellation of room bookings for meetings concerning Palestinian rights at the University of Toronto and York University in 2008

* The use of security clearance requirements and fees to cover security costs to impede campus meetings about Palestinian rights

We the undersigned:

* Defend the right to freedom of speech about Palestine for all members of the university community, including freedom to use the term ‘apartheid’ to identify and debate certain policies associated with the state of Israel and the freedom to support, facilitate and participate freely in activities under the rubric of “Israeli apartheid week”

* Call for an end to the silencing of speech around Palestine, removing extraordinary requirements for security clearance and fees for security services

* Support increased ties to Palestinian institutions and scholars, and activities to support the right to education and academic freedom of Palestinians

israeli-apartheid-week-2009-poster

yes, it is apartheid week that time of the year when academics, universities, and zionists of every stripe work extra hard to crack down on those who are off the zionist message of cover ups and lies. and so it is not only faculty who are affected, it is also students in canada who are facing a similar battle:

Restrictions and harassment are experienced by pro-Palestinian activists on most Canadian campuses; this can take many different forms. At York University, for example, the latest tool of repression is the “Student Code of Conduct,” a draconian document that could potentially be used to ban any form of protest. At McMaster, it was in the form of a blanket ban on the use of the term “Israeli apartheid.” The University of Toronto (UofT) has seen a broad range of tactics being used against student organizers, but it seems that the administration has decided to focus its effort on combating pro-Palestinian activism through an old-new tool: denial of space for meeting and holding events.

Securing space for student activists at UofT has always been a hard task for student organizations. But it seems that the University has shifted its tactics from mounting bureaucratic obstacles and technical hurdles, to outright denial of the right to book space. UofT seems to have declared a full fledged war against its Palestinian and pro-Palestinian students. Most recently, this came in the form of denying room bookings for a conference planned by Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA), a student group and action group of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG), in October 2008.

SAIA, along with student groups at York University and other campuses, had planned a student conference, entitled “Standing Against Apartheid: Building Cross-Campus Solidarity with Palestine,” for the first weekend of October 2008. The conference was meant to strengthen the student movement against Israeli apartheid, and to share strategies for the future, including planning the annual Israeli Apartheid Week.

margaret aziza pappano offers some analysis of the situation facing canadian professors and students alike:

While most academics would agree that a university should be a place where critical debate is fostered, what is academic freedom when the freedom to attend classes without being bombed isn’t even assured? Academic freedom falters it seems when it comes to Palestine, whether in the Middle East or in North America. Not only is there no realizable academic freedom for Palestinians, but also, even in North America, students and faculty raising critical viewpoints about Israel find themselves muffled, accused of anti-Semitism, threatened with disciplinary action, or, in the case of former Depaul University professor, Norman Finkelstein, out of a job entirely.

In Canada, the annual educational event known at “Israeli Apartheid week,” held on university campuses, has faced repeated attempts to suppress it. What justification can be found to block an event in which scholars and activists speak about the history of the region, with a focus on the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory, information that is taught in history and political science classes and available in books published by university presses? Yet, 125 University of Toronto faculty members signed a letter, published in the National Post, in which they “request[ed] that the administration stop this hateful and divisive event from returning to our University.”

More worrisome, however, is that the administration on some campuses has actually endeavoured to comply, a trend that should alarm anyone who cares about the integrity of their university. In February of last year, the McMaster University administration attempted to ban the use of the term “Israeli apartheid” by Student Union clubs on campus, including “activities promoted under the banner, ‘Israeli Apartheid Week.’” It was only after a concerted protest and huge rally that the administration backed down from what would likely have been an illegal action anyway.

This year’s event has been marked by a similar action at Carleton University. The Israeli Apartheid week poster was banned by the university’s Equity Services because of its graphic, a drawing of an Israeli bomb being dropped on a child, who is labeled “Gaza.” The SAIA (Students Against Israeli Apartheid) chapter was informed that the “image could be seen to incite others to infringe rights protected in the Ontario human rights code.” The interim Provost and Vice President of Carleton, Feridun Hamdullahpur, circulated a letter to the entire Carleton community in which he threatened indefinite expulsion for anyone contravening the code; although vaguely worded, the letter alludes to “harassment and intolerance which can take the form of inappropriately challenging or questioning a person’s race or beliefs.” One has to wonder how this stock anti-war graphic can be seen as “inappropriate,” unless Carleton is concerned to protect Israel’s image rather than the rights of its students to free expression.

York University and the University of Toronto have both witnessed similar attempts to harass students and faculty expressing advocacy for Palestinian rights.

for those who are wanting to organize apartheid week on their campuses here is a new trailer for this year’s activities:

in the united states, the new york university students aborted their campaign early and their most recent post on their blog reads, in part, as follows:

However, we also recognize that our occupation was not a full success. When we succeeded, we did so because the passion of our movement shone through the smoke and mirrors cast by the NYU administration. When we failed it was only because we underestimated the lengths NYU will go to in order to deter any real criticism of its policies.

The administration demonstrated their steadfast commitment to ignoring its students. Members of Take Back NYU! didn’t even see the face of NYU negotiator Lynne Brown until 26 hours into the occupation. Throughout, the administration only gave disingenuous offers of discussion without negotiation, which the students readily rejected. NYU’s refusal to negotiate contrasts sharply with good-faith negotiations made by other universities during similar occupations.

We believe that our occupation gave NYU the opportunity to become a leader among universities and to build our community around strong commitments to democracy, transparency and respect for human rights. Instead, NYU said ‘pass’ and chose to stick to its narrow interests at the expense of genuine discussion.

In the course of defending its secrets, NYU put students and its security guards at risk by encouraging the use of physical force to end a non-violent protest. NYPD officers used billy-clubs and mace against demonstrators outside the building. These acts of aggression have gone unmentioned and unquestioned in the course of NYU’s handling of the occupation.

This protest is just a beginning to what is to come. The action made national and international news, and showcased the real power of the new student movement sweeping the globe. Here in New York, a City Council member, Charles Barron, has publicly endorsed our campaign and shamed the University for its mishandling of student protest. Actions at universities around the city will continue in the weeks to come.

students at hampshire college are, of course, also facing pressure from the zionist police watchdogs, though are not bending to their will quite so easily as the students at nyu:

UNDER PRESSURE from pro-Israel apologists led by Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, administrators at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., issued a “statement of clarification” about the recent decision to divest from six corporations that profited from and supported Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine.

But student activists aren’t going to quietly accept Hampshire’s shameful attempt to wriggle out of a decision the college should be proud of.

Members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Hampshire announced in a February 12 press release that they had succeeded in pressuring Hampshire’s board of trustees to divest from companies involved in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Palestinians and their supporters around the world, including Noam Chomsky, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, Howard Zinn and former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, greeted the news with joy.

“This is a monumental and historic step in the struggle for Palestinian equality, self- determination and peace in the Holy Land by nonviolent means,” wrote Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a leader in the struggle against South African apartheid, in a message of support sent to members of Hampshire SJP.

“I see what these students have accomplished as a replica of the support of their college of our struggle against apartheid in South Africa,” he continued, in reference to Hampshire’s place of prestige as the first institution of higher education to divest from South Africa. “Hampshire College’s decision to divest should be a guiding example to all institutions of higher learning.”

But within hours of SJP’s announcement, the pro-Israel counteroffensive began. Dershowitz, a virulent supporter of Israel, called Matan Cohen and Brian Van Slyke, two members of SJP, to threaten an international campaign to divest from Hampshire College–a threat that carries some sting for Hampshire, which is a small institution with a history of financial difficulties.

Dershowitz is notorious for his relentless personal and professional attacks on those who speak out against Israel’s crimes. In 2007, for example, Norman Finkelstein, a renowned scholar and an outspoken critic of Israel’s policies, was denied tenure at DePaul University after Dershowitz put pressure on faculty and the administration.

perhaps if the nyu students followed the example of the students at hampshire or their colleagues on the other side of the atlantic ocean they would have seen what happens when you remain steadfast as was the case with strathclyde university:

GLASGOW, February 21 – Students at Strathclyde University won the vote on Thursday to cut the university’s ties with arms manufacturer BAE Systems which supplied components used by the Israeli military in the recent massacre of Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

Students win majority support in historic AGM

The vote, which took place in relation to a motion submitted by a group of students to their Union’s General Meeting (AGM) – the student’s highest decision-making body – won with an overwhelming majority of the over 200 students who queued in the union’s corridors and stairs to participate in the event. Such a high student attendance had been unprecedented in any previous AGM, most of which failed in the past 10 years to even reach quorum.

Despite attempts by the Union’s administration to dilute the substance of the motion and have it voted upon by the conservative Student Representative Council (SRC) – who had already rejected a similar popular motion two years earlier given the uncomfortable position it placed the University vis-à-vis its corporate funders – the fervent group of passionate students were successful in galvanising sufficient support amongst their fellows to turn the motion into student policy.

Within just a couple of weeks from occupying the McCance Building – heart of the University’s administration – the original 60 students involved in the occupation have already gained the support of a sizable number of their fellow students.

Occupation encourages University to take action

With the national media reporting on the new wave of student activism, and with regular updates being posted on occupation.org, the official site centralising information about UK universities in occupation, the Strathclyde student group has been able to spread its message and influence far beyond the university’s walls.

Within hours of starting the peaceful occupation, messages of support were flowing in from students across the UK, and around the world, with some touching declarations of solidarity received directly from Palestinian students closely monitoring the students’ activities.

What followed was a series of exhausting negotiations between the students and the University’s Principle and Secretary to ensure that the occupation would deliver more than just a message of solidarity to the people of Palestine.

By the end of the second day of the occupation, the students achieved a remarkable victory when the Principle agreed to end with immediate effect the university’s purchasing contract with the water-supplying company Eden Springs – whose Israeli-owned parent company has been found to be operating commercial activities in breach of international law within the Occupied Territories.

Following the recent bombings of Palestinian universities by the Israeli army, the Principle also agreed to make 3 scholarships available to Palestinian students from Gaza, pledging to incite other Scottish universities to follow suit and possibly pull resources together for the creation of a Scottish-wide fund.

University denies major R&D funding from the arms industry

As part of the occupation, students also requested that the University cut its ties with the arms industry after discovering that major research contracts were underway between the university’s engineering department and BAE Systems – the UK’s largest arms manufacturer and supplier to the Israeli army of components used in the targeting systems of F-16 fighter-bombers responsible for the killing of Palestinian civilians, including children and women.

Data acquired through Freedom of Information (FoI) requests submitted to the University last year by Strathclyde student and prominent Scottish political figure Tommy Sheridan, revealed that BAE systems invested £7.8 million between 2000 and 2007 in joint research projects with the University’s engineering department. FoIs also revealed that several other companies involved in the arms trade, including BAe subsidiaries, had ties with the University’s research departments – with many of the contracts still under way.

Peter West, Secretary of the University, denied the allegations and confirmed only the existence of one contract between the University and BAE Systems for a total of £5000.

University is to look for alternative and ethical sources of funding

The students will now proceed with the submission of a series of FoIs to the university to verify the exact scale of current investments channelled into the University’s research labs by the arms industry.

Meanwhile, some engineering students at Strathclyde fear that the dissolution of the university’s ties with BAE Systems will impact negatively on the department and their career prospects.

In order to allay these fears, a number of their fellow engineering students supporting the occupation are now encouraging a debate within the department to look at possible alternative channels of funding from non-lethal industries, including green and civil technologies.

students at st. andrews university are now occupying their campus and i hope they can remain steadfast and remain committed to the ideals they set forth in their demands:

Specifically we demand that the university:

1) Immediately suspends and pledges not to renew its contract with Eden Springs, the Israeli water company which illegally steals water from the Golan Heights. It is not enough that this contract run out this year, it must be cancelled now.

2) Puts in place a review process with the aim of suspending all ties to organisations that are publicly known to supply the Israeli military. This would specifically include:

a) Cutting all ties to BAE Systems, which provides sub-systems/components for Israeli F-16 fighter aircraft. These ties would include BAE funding of research projects at St Andrews University, industrial placements at BAE Systems as part of degrees at the University, and the hosting of any representatives of BAE Systems as part of events at the University;

b) Cutting the University’s ties with the Systems Engineering for Autonomous Systems Defence Technology Centre (SEAS-DTC), a Ministry of Defence-funded organisation designed to foster collaboration between military industry and academia. Both BAE Systems and Smiths Group are members of this organisation; in addition to BAE’s links with Israel, Smiths Group also provides Israel’s military with F-16 components;

c) Cutting all ties to the British Government’s military apparatus. Britain has consistently provided Israel with arms and military equipment, and Israeli military officials have attested to the importance of the essential items provided by Britain. The University’s ties include military research projects conducted at St Andrews and funded by, among others, the Ministry of Defence and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory;

d) Establishing an ethics committee with the responsibility of ensuring that the University of St Andrews does not accept any income in the future from organisations linked to the Israeli military.

3) Sets up a scholarship program for Palestinian Students and commits to a minimum of 10 scholarships. This would send out an important symbolic message that we will not turn a blind eye to the Palestinian students who are unable to study because of the attacks on educational infrastructure and constant state of terror which prevents students from attending university.

4) Organizes a collection on campus, including a broadcasting of the DEC appeal, for aid for Gaza, makes available non-monetary aid such as course books, desks etc. and also establishes links with the Islamic University of Gaza in order to find out how it might aid with reconstruction.

5) Following the letter signed by fifty medical students, that Bute Medical School provides medical aid for Palestine in the form of medical equipment and drugs and through supporting organizations such as medical aid for Palestine (supported by Medsin).

in the consumer sector one thing which may be backlash was a story the other day that sounded promising: a coop supermarket boycotting israeli terrorist goods:

The 15,000 member food co-op in Park Slope is considering a ban on Israeli products because of the conflict in the Mideast. Officials there are now debating making an international statement after a member’s proposal to take a symbolic stand against Israel.

So far the co-op staff has identified just four products from Israel, but they say it’s possible there are others out of the 10,000 products offered at the co-op.

but apparently this story was too good to be true…:

For the record: The Park Slope Food Co-op is NOT considering a ban on Israeli-made or -grown products.

This myth, reported around the globe by the Jewish Forward and dozens of blogs that seem to regard the 16,000-member supermarket as some kind of anti-Israel committee rather than a great place for produce, evolved from a stray comment at an open meeting in January, when a Co-op member who identified herself only as Hima inquired about whether the Co-op sells Israeli products.

but there are still those who are keeping the pressure on in various ways, for instance those protesting the exhibition planned at a british museum of israeli terrorist “scientific achievements” as reported on press tv:

and egyptian workers are also organizing against jordanian complicity in their normalizing with israeli terrorists:

In an unprecedented action, the first following the recent Israeli war on Gaza, workers of an Egyptian Fertilizers Company in Suez protested on Saturday February 7th against the export of fertilizers to Israel.

The Fertilizers Egyptian Company is owned by Sawiris family, Naguib Sawiris ranks 62 in Forbes’ world’s richest list, while his father Onsi ranks 96 and his brother Nassif ranks 226, under the name Orascom construction company. Fertilizers Egyptian Company signed an agreement to export 1000 tons of phosphate fertilizer to Israel, at a rate of 100 tons per week. An estimated 800 Egyptians work at this factory.

Two days prior to the protest, workers were surprised by a request from the administration to process an order of unmarked bags that will be transferred by Jordanian trucks to an undisclosed location. As a result, about 100 workers went on strike and refused to process the order because they believed, rightly, that the cargo will travel to Israel.

When the company administration learned about the situation, they broke the strike by threatening the workers of dismissal and deducted 15 days of salary from all workers at the company.

In Egypt things are changing very fast, especially in the last three years, solidarity movements with Palestine and labour movements are taking more and more actions against the Egyptian regime in solidarity with Palestine and also for labour rights in Egypt.

it is worth looking at jeff handmaker’s recap of recent bds achievements in electronic intifada:

* A growing number of politicians in Europe and North America have put forward uncomfortable, probing questions to their governments and clearly want to do more. One example is the “Break the Silence” campaign within the Dutch Labor Party.

* Numerous letters and opinion pieces have been published by prominent figures in major national newspapers, including statement by prominent lawyers and professors published by The Sunday Times on 11 January 2009.

* The global “Derail Veolia” campaign has grown in leaps and bounds. An important success was the decision by the Stockholm municipality to cancel an agreement with Veolia Transport, on the basis of its involvement in the Jerusalem light-rail project, to the tune of several billion euros.

* There have been calls for international investigations of war crimes from the UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the UN Human Rights Council, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the head of UNRWA (the UN agency for Palestine refugees) and the UN Secretary General as well as scores of high-profile international lawyers around the world.

* The European Parliament managed to halt negotiations on strengthening the trading relationship between the EU and Israel in the framework of the Association Agreement and there are new, emboldened efforts to try and get the Association Agreement suspended altogether.

* Countless demonstrations have taken place in villages, towns and cities around the world, from Cape Town to Swansea and from Stockholm to Montreal and they are attracting decent publicity. Where there has been no television crew present, activists have made effective use of online resources such as YouTube.

* In South Africa there was a major success when dockworkers affiliated with SATAWU and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) refused to unload a ship containing Israeli goods. The story made national headlines for several days.

* Academic boycott is taking hold in academic institutions around the world — students in particular have been leading the way on this, but academics also.

for those who want to keep up the pressure or start something new, now is the time to do it in keeping with calls coming from palestinian civil society:

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

We therefore call on all to unite our different capacities and struggles in a Global Day of Action in Solidarity with the Palestinian people and for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel on 30 March 2009.

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

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

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

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

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

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

ketir bds news!

the blog pulse posted an important message from the students for justice in palestine the other day about the situation at hampshire college. hampshire college is seeking support in the form of writing about their historic work to divest from the terrorist state of israel:

Dear Supporters,

Over the last 24 hours, there has been a huge response from students, parents, journalists, activists, public figures, political organizations, and individuals such as yourselves from across the country and the world congratulating us for our historic achievement this week. We are impressed and heartened by your passion in supporting us in this exciting campaign.

There have been many developments since SJP went public with the divestment, so it might be hard to keep track of the flurry of updates that have been published all over the internet. Please visit our website for the most recent statements (http://www.hsjp.org/). Also, Phillip Weiss’s blog (http://www.philipweiss.org/) is a particularly good resource, as he’s been following the events closely.

Your support so far has been so helpful, especially since we’ve been working non-stop since we broke the news. There’s so much more to be done, so we’ve come up with a few specific ways to demonstrate your solidarity with SJP and the movement. Here they are—

1) E-mail the administration and the President to voice your concern over their refusal to own up to the divestment decision. Express your disappointment that President Hexter has done nothing to condemn Alan Dershowitz’s threatening phone calls to SJP’s spokespeople (see update on website). Forward your letters of congratulations that you sent to us to them too. Make sure they know that divestment is not just a college—it’s a movement!

A script is attached to the end of this e-mail as a guide if you would like to use it.

Contact:

Ralph Hexter (President): rhexter [at] hampshire.edu

President’s Office: 413-559-5521

2) Hampshire’s endowment is very small which means that most of the college’s year-to-year operating budget comes from tuition fees. For those who have donated, your contributions are greatly appreciated and important as the school is already in a troubled financial state. What we would like you to do for now is e-mail us every time you make a donation with the amount and your name so we can keep track of the funds and the support network.

3) Contribute to our video series, “Voices of Divestment.” We are trying to show the world that this isn’t about a small group of activists, but a wide range of people from all different walks of life. We would like you to make short 30-second to 1-minute clips and send them to us by uploading the video to youtube and emailing us the link.

Keep them informal, but stay passionate! Improvise. We want to hear why you support divestment in your own words.

Check out existing videos here: http://www.hsjp.org/voices-of-divestment/

Or alternatively: http://voicesofdivestment.wordpress.com/

4) Build momentum! This isn’t just about us; we’ve been getting a lot of e-mails about help & advice for starting similar BDS campaigns at other schools, and this is one of the most important ways you can help. If the BDS movement spreads rapidly, it will become clear to the public & the media that this is not just a local administrative dispute, but that we have finally reached a critical threshold in the United States.

Many groups and individuals have contacted us asking about going on speaking tours and giving trainings for campus divestment movements. We are very excited about the prospects of helping to spread divestment to many campuses and are investigating the logistics of how to make this happen. For now if you are interested in hosting us for a speaking tour in some capacity, please email us at HampshireSJP [at] gmail.com with the subject “SPEAKING”.

http://www.hsjp.org

the first issue they are facing are attacks from the usual suspect–alan dershowitz, which can be read if you follow the link below–but also the appearance that hampshire college is seeming to stray from its initial argument about why they divested:

Hampshire officials acknowledge they initiated a review of the specific State Street fund in question in response to a petition from Students for Justice in Palestine. However, Hampshire maintains that it transferred assets to another fund after finding much broader violations of its policy on socially responsible investing, including unfair labor policies, environmental abuse, military weapons manufacturing and unsafe workplace settings. In all, Hampshire says it found more than 200 companies in the fund that fell short of its standards. “[T]he decision expressly did not pertain to a political movement or single out businesses active in a specific region or country,” the college’s statement says.

As an analogy, Ralph Hexter, Hampshire’s president, said, “There might be a court case that the higher court sustains the ruling but the principles are entirely different. Not that we thought that way. This is not a policy decision; I can’t say that enough. The investment committee expressly rejected the idea that we were acting in any way [in regards to] a certain country or region or political position, but rather because it came to our attention — it happened to be through this [Students for Justice in Palestine] petition — that this fund contained many, many companies that were problematic, in a whole host of regions.”

Hexter acknowledged the court analogy was likely imperfect, and one imperfection is that when a higher court upholds a lower court’s ruling, but for different reasons, judges usually go out of their way to make the distinctions clear. That’s not quite what happened at Hampshire, at least initially. In the group’s press release, Students for Justice in Palestine quote Hexter as saying, during the February 7 board of trustees meeting when this was decided, “that it was the good work of SJP that brought this issue to the attention of the committee.” Hexter said the quote was accurate.

“What I referred to was their good work at doing undergraduate-level research and bringing it to the appropriate subcommittee of the board. It didn’t rely on their work, but it’s the kind of praise that I think you give to students for using the processes of the college,” Hexter said. While he expressed disappointment in the students disseminating “such a partial and biased version” of what happened, he also pointed out, “Remember, they are students.”

“We reject in our actions any singling out of a country, we thought that’s entirely inappropriate and it never occurred to us that this would be taken as divestment from Israel because that wasn’t the question before us,” said Hexter. “We’re in an awkward position that people are claiming falsely what this is and all I can do is deny it…. I can tell you personally as president that I am definitely opposed to divestment from Israel.”

in response to these above statements made by hexter, students for justice in palestine at hampshire college issued the following statement, which reads in part:

On May 8, 2008 SJP presented a proposal to the Committee at Hampshire on Investment Responsibility (CHOIR), a subcommittee of the Board of Trustees’ investment committee. The proposal was to divest from six companies due to their activities in the occupied Palestinian territories. On May 16, 2008 SJP made the same presentation to the full Board of Trustees, urging them to divest from the six corporations. On August 26, 2008 CHOIR voted “to recommend to the investment committee that Hampshire College divest of the following six companies: Caterpillar, Terex, Motorola, ITT, General Electric, United Technologies based on full consideration of the presentation by SJP.” This is a direct quotation from the CHOIR meeting minutes.

After this recommendation, the Investment Committee made the decision to divest from the mutual fund that held these companies. On Feb 7, 2009, the Investment Committee informed the Board of Trustees of its decision to divest. The administration denies that the decision was made in response to any concerns about any particular “region” or “political movement;” however SJP was explicitly asked by the administration what companies to avoid in the future in terms of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. This fact illustrates that the Israeli occupation and SJP’s work were undoubtedly the primary reasons for the decision to divest.

Furthermore, the violations of the other 200 companies cited by the “statement of clarification” were only researched days before the investment committee’s decision to divest from the mutual fund. For eight and a half months the only specific companies in the State Street fund that were discussed were the six companies SJP targeted. These facts prove that the decision was made on the grounds of the six companies’ involvement in the occupation of Palestine. We can only assume the reason the Board and administration chose to depoliticize this decision is because of the volatile nature of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

At the time of SJP’s original proposal to the Board, the College’s policy on socially responsible investment had not been revised since 1994 and the Board was considering dissolving the committee on investment responsibility. It is clear that if SJP had not introduced its divestment proposal, the college would still be invested in the State Street mutual fund.

In sum, Hampshire College divested from the mutual fund for many reasons, yet the Palestine-Israel conflict was the most prominent reason behind divestment; the decision to divest was not outside of the context of SJP’s efforts. It does not matter if the Hampshire administration issues a public statement condemning the occupation; the Hampshire community understands how and why we came to divest.

Divestment from Apartheid South Africa did not prove politically popular in 1977 when Hampshire became the first college in the U.S. to take a stand. It is to be expected that the first of any movement faces great pressure and criticism. SJP is disappointed that the college is choosing to shy away from the political implications of its action rather than embrace this moment. Regardless, a week ago Hampshire College was invested in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Today, the college is no longer complicit in the funding of this injustice. This is an irrefutable fact and a historical victory that calls for both celebration and support.

certainly there is overlap. there is a problem with investing in general. with corporations in general. they all have blood on their hands from different places, usually multiple places. the adalah campaign against lev leviev diamonds, as i have written about before, is one of many examples. this is why they make explicit these connections between blood diamonds in africa and the money from these diamonds financing israeli terrorist colonies in the west bank. you can see this in their chants in their recent protest. al jazeera’s josh rushing did an awesome job of showing the new momentum of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (bds) campaign in the united states:

you can also see bill fletcher, one of our advisory board members for the us campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of israel, speaking eloquently about this growing movement in various other contexts, including the labor movement. you will also see rushing reporting about the recent growth of the cultural boycott targeting an israeli dance company currently touring north america:

People arriving at a performance by Israeli dancers’ in Chicago on Sunday were greeted by dozens of people protesting Israel’s actions in Gaza, the Chicago Progressive Examiner reported Thursday.

Palestine solidarity activists issued a call late last year for protest against the Tel-Aviv based Batsheva Dance Company following its announcement that it would tour the US and Canada between January and March of 2009.

The call for protest was launched in accordance with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, which, in turn is modeled on the long campaign against South African Apartheid, the report said.

The Chicago chapter of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) began to organize resistance to a local Batsheva performance just as Israel ended Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip. To promote the protest, grassroots communications outfit HammerHard MediaWorks came up with a slogan and graphic that tied the Batsheva to the suffering of Gaza’s residents.

According to the Chicago Progressive Examiner, people excited about the Batsheva performance for its artistic merits arrived at the Auditorium Theater on Sunday, and had to walk past a crowd of about 75 people, many of whom were wearing bandages smeared with fake blood to represent Palestinian casualties.

ISM’s Kevin Clark believes that his organization’s goal of convincing Batsheva patrons that supporting an Israeli entity made them complicit with the actions of the Israeli government was accomplished.

“We were chanting things like ‘this is no time for dancing,’ ‘you’re dancing on Gazans’ graves,'” he said, “and I could see people listening to us as they were standing in line in the theater lobby, and I saw a few – I’d say four or five – walk away without buying tickets.”

He added that others who didn’t leave were nevertheless affected. “I saw some people in tears. Obviously this was a really powerful militant action.”

Clark said the second major goal of the action was also accomplished. “We wanted to send the message to the Zionist community that there’s no safe haven. It doesn’t matter if it’s an artistic event, or athletic, or academic – you will have to deal with us and our call for justice,” he told the Chicago Progressive Examiner.

Batsheva has several more North American performances scheduled, and according to the report, similar protests are planned in Pittsburgh, Houston, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Vancouver, Canada

20090218-batsheva-protest-mn-clrpreview

for those wishing to organize a protest if this dance troupe comes to your city, check out nigel parry’s website where he has information, flyers, and materials you may download.

while many of us are working hard to support the boycott campaign, sari nusseibeh, president of al quds university, works hard to undermine those efforts. ma’an news reported–and i quoted it here a week or two ago–that al quds university (that bastion of normalization) would sever collaboration with israeli terrorist institutions. now nusseibeh is bragging not only about his normalization activities, but also about his collaboration with the most zionist university in the u.s., brandeis:

Mr. Nusseibeh, who has run Al Quds for 14 years, has created academic exchange programs with Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., as well as with George Washington University in Washington and universities in Israel, Sweden and Canada. The Bard program will offer the first joint degree.

“The radius of movement of most of our students does not exceed 40 miles,” Mr. Nusseibeh said as he sat in his East Jerusalem office one recent morning. “We need to help them see the world through different eyes.

“We do a lot of projects with Israel,” he continued. “I get criticism for it because many Palestinians want to boycott Israeli educational institutions. But the West Bank economy is 70 to 90 percent dependent on Israel. At least we should profit from their education. It is the one thing in my view we absolutely should not boycott.”

yes, it is difficult to unravel the ways in which the west bank economy is infested with israeli products. but this is the reason to boycott, not to submit. one of my friends told me the other day–a young friend who is a student at my university–that in the 1980s and 90s, before satellite dishes were widely available and affordable, all people had access to was israeli television and if they were lucky the jordanian station. she said growing up with almost entirely israeli cartoons and commercials left an indelible imprint in her mind about the superiority of all things israeli. she thinks this is why palestinians think israeli products are superior. this is the psychological warfare that they fight. in some ways i think it is worse than the military warfare they unleash on palestinians. and so we have still not succeeded in banning israeli products from an najah university, though we are continuing to work on this. meanwhile the students at edinburgh university have made some headway with boycott and other items in their occupation of their university:

We, the occupying students have secured the following…

• A complete end to Eden Springs bottled water on campus by the start of the next academic year (2009/10).

• An opportunity to bring our case regarding the university’s unethical investments directly to the University Court.

• Scholarships for 5 Palestinian students in Gaza to study at Edinburgh University, with consideration for fee waivers, reduced accommodation fees, travel allowances and visa support.

• A collaboration between the university management, student body and an NGO to collect various materials for shipping to Gaza and to fundraise for the implementation of this.

• A lecture and debate series, involving university staff and guest speakers, on various subjects relating to the Palestine/Israel conflict. There has already been interest in this from prominent scholars Ilan Pappe and Noam Chomsky.

and this is why the economic boycott is emerging in australia now:

Palestine solidarity activists in Sydney have launched a campaign targeting Max Brenner Chocolates, a 100% Israeli-owned company belonging to the Strauss Group, as part of the growing international boycott Israel movement.

The Strauss Group is the second-largest Israeli food and beverage company.

On the “corporate responsibility” section of its website, the Strauss Group emphasises the support it gives to the Israeli killing machine. Highlighting that it wants to “sweeten their special moment” the Strauss Group touts that, for more than 30 years, it has supported the Golani reconnaissance platoon, renowned for its murderous assaults on Palestinian civilians.

During Israel’s recent massacre in Gaza, a Ha’aretz article reported that the Golani platoon operated “in the sector in which the [Israel Defence Force] has seen the toughest battles with Hamas, the eastern part of Gaza City”.

According to the website of Adalah-NY, the Coalition for Justice in the Middle East, Golani has also been involved in previous military operations in Gaza, in the massacres in the Jenin and Tul Karm refugee camps and the siege on Yasser Arafat’s Muqata compound in Ramallah.

It was also directly involved in the 2006 invasion of Lebanon.

Moreover, Adalah-NY reports that in November 2008, in a widely disseminated video, “members of the Golani Brigade filmed themselves forcing a captive, blindfolded Palestinian to sing humiliating songs, some of a sexual nature, and some about the Golani Brigade”.

and now it looks like we might have a sports boycott underway:

Israel’s leading female tennis player, Shahar Peer, was refused a visa for entry into the United Arab Emirates yesterday, as politics threatened the future of one of the world’s richest tennis tournaments.

The UAE does not have diplomatic relations with Israel and tournament organisers believe the decision to refuse entry to Peer was a reaction to the recent conflict in Gaza.

Last year, Peer became the first Israeli tennis player to take part in a tournament in an Arab country at an event in Doha, Qatar. “I really got a warm welcome from the tournament,” she said at the time. “When you go on the court you don’t think about politics. You just want to play your tennis.”

we need to see more of this sort of action, however, uae, if they really want to help, can also close down its lev leviev diamond store. and it would be nice to get qatar on board while we’re at it.

for those who need reminding on why bds is so necessary here is a rundown of what israeli terrorists did today in palestine:

At least 30 Palestinian civilians were kidnapped by Israeli troops during morning invasions, targeting towns and villages near the central West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday, Palestinian sources reported.

Thirteen of those kidnapped were taken from al-Am’ari refugee camp in Ramallah city. Witnesses reported that Israeli troops invaded the camp, searched homes and took 13 men away.

Meanwhile, nine civilians, among them two brothers, were kidnapped during similar home invasions the Israeli military carried out in al-Jalazon refugee camp, also located in Ramallah city. Local sources said there are 130 civilians from al-Jalazon refugee camp that are still locked up in Israeli detention.

Seven civilians were kidnapped during pre-dawn house to house searches the Israeli military carried out in the village of Abu Shikhadem, to the north of Ramallah city, local sources reported.

Another man was also kidnapped during Israeli invasions, targeting the town of Silwad, north east of Ramallah city.

The Israeli military kidnapped four Palestinian civilians during pre-dawn invasions, targeting the northern part of the West Bank on Monday.

Palestinian sources said that Israeli troops invaded the city of Jenin and searched a number of homes before taking two men to unknown locations.

Meanwhile in Nablus, Israeli troops searched two homes during a dawn invasion, kidnapped two young men and took them to a nearby military camp, local sources reported.

and on the mountain behind deheishe refugee camp in beit lahem, on the occupied land of the village of khader, israeli terrorists stole morel and today:

Israel has taken control of a large area near a prominent settlement in the Palestinian West Bank, paving the way for a possible construction of 2,500 settlement homes, officials have said.

Mayor Oded Revivi said on Monday that the Israeli military designated 425 acres near Efrat, a settlement of about 1,600 families south of Jerusalem, as so-called
state land two weeks ago.

Revivi said Efrat plans to build 2,500 homes on that land, but government approval would still be needed before construction begins, a process that could take years.

Eventually, Efrat is to grow to a city of 30,000 people, he said.

The settlement is situated in one of three settlement blocs Israel expects to hold on to in any final peace deal.

Revivi said nine appeals, eight of which were rejected and one was upheld, had been filed by Palestinian landowners.

and in gaza palestinians are still suffering from the wounds of white phosphorous as hoda abdel hamid reports on al jazeera:

but palestinians are moving forward with their plans to pursue war crimes in an international court as well, though there are a number of obstacles they still have to confront:

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – The Palestinian foreign minister urged the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) prosecutor on Friday to start an investigation into whether Israel committed war crimes during its offensive in Gaza.

Riyad al-Maliki told reporters after meeting Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo that he was confident the court would act after evaluating the Palestinian Authority’s petition.

“Today we have come to deliver to the prosecutor a set of documents that show that Palestine as a state has the validity to represent its case to the court,” Maliki said.

“We’ve come to ask for justice and to ask for an investigation into the crimes committed by the Israelis and Israeli army in Gaza recently,” he said. “We expect the prosecution to take actions.”

The Israeli army waged a three-week war in Gaza against Hamas militants at the turn of the year, but Israeli officials deny accusations of war crimes arising from the fighting.

Last week Moreno-Ocampo’s office said it had started a “preliminary analysis” to establish whether Israel committed war crimes, after receiving 210 communications from individuals and non-governmental organizations regarding events in Gaza.

The prosecutor has said that the preliminary analysis does not necessarily mean an investigation will be opened.

The ICC can investigate alleged war crimes in the territory of a state party, if the U.N. Security Council — where the United States has veto power — refers a situation to the court or if a non-state party voluntarily accepts the jurisdiction of the court.

Israel and the United States are not among the 108 countries that have signed the Rome Statute creating the court, but that would not prevent the ICC from launching an investigation.

The Palestinian Authority has recognized the jurisdiction of the ICC, in a move designed to allow investigations of alleged crimes in the Palestinian territories.

democracy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

finally such activism is spreading to the united states!:

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

The demands are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

in an email omar had this to say about it:

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

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

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

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

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

never forgive, never forget

carlos latuff
carlos latuff

okay so i lied. just one more post before my weekend begins. i listened to flashpoints in the service on my way down to ramallah. and i just gotta say: i f(*$&%# love nora barrows-friedman. there is really no other media outlet like flashpoints in the united states. and not just because of what the report and how they report on palestine. because they cover stories like the murder of oscar grant. because they cover stories like the murder of brown beret annette garcia.

Today on Flashpoints: As international war crimes investigators continue to gather evidence for war crimes prosecution of Israeli officials, we present excerpts from a 3-hour special The Savaging of Gaza, A Twenty-First Century War Crime. This accounting is based on Flashpoints coverage from the beginning of the assault until this current shaky cease-fire, which included some more air attacks by Israel today.

01:00 The Savaging of Gaza: For 22 days the Israeli military savaged the Gaza Strip by land air and sea. One and a half million Palestinians, already pushed to the brink of starvation and humanitarian disaster after 18 months of an Israeli blockade and the hermetical sealing of the crossings in and out, watched in horror as the tiny Gaza Strip became a weapons lab for the latest in non-conventional weaponry.

44:00 KPFA Winter Fund Drive: Support the work of the Flashpoints team who bring you the human perspective in Palestine, Iraq, the US-Mexico border, and across the globe.

Pledge your support at 1-800-439-5732, or 510-848-5732. or pledge securely online.
Thank you for your support!

above you will also find a link to donate money to support the kind of journalism you will find nowhere else in the united states. support flashpoints and lovely, dear, amazing nora. the radio documentary linked above, which you can order (it is 3 hours long) if you pledge online at the above-link details the savagery of israeli terrorism from palestinians reporting on the ground in gaza. but also nora reminds us in this report of the fact that there is the aggressive terrorism of the american-made bombs as well as the passive terrorism of israelis banning 95 medicines from gaza like chemotherapy, kidney dialysis equipment, and anesthesia (because they want palestinians to feel pain).

you can also watch americans investigating israeli war crimes on this report from press tv:

and you can watch mike kirsch on al jazeera showing the daily difficulties palestinian fisherman in gaza have to endure:

meanwhile israeli terrorists continued their nightly invasions around the west bank last night, including in the village near my house:

Israeli forces seized five young Palestinians during raids in villages around the West Bank city of Nablus.

Palestinian local sources told Ma’an’s correspondent in Nablus that Israeli forces raided Asira Al-Qibliya, south of Nablus and detained 18-year-old Mahmoud Mohammad Hassan Shihadah.

In the village of Salim, east of the city, they detained Mohammad Abd An-Nayef Issa.

In the village of Tell,. Local sources said Israeli troops invaded at 1am, detaining three young men: Mu’awiya Mohammad Zeidan,18, Arabi Ashraf As-Seifi,19 and Issam Issa Ramadan,18.

mr. fish
mr. fish

and the israeli terrorist ethnic cleansing project continues unabated in the west bank:

About 25 Palestinian families would be forced to leave their homes and agricultural lands in the village of Khirbet Tana, located within the territory of the Beit Furik town, east of Nablus, after the Israeli high court rejected the objection made by human rights organizations on behalf of the families.

The objection called for not demolishing the villagers’ houses and for preparing a structural blueprint for the village instead of taking such an unjust step in violation of human rights.

The human rights organizations confirmed that the Israeli arbitrary policy of land planning in the occupied Palestinian lands do not allow the villagers, the natives of Khirbet Tana, to obtain building permits which forces them to choose between the unauthorized construction or to remain without housing.

is it any wonder why i am so opposed to normalization? a reminder that israeli terrorists behave this way towards palestinians whether you normalize with them or not:

Dr. Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish, who lost three daughters and a niece in an Israel Defense Forces strike in the Gaza Strip last month, responded Wednesday to an IDF statement confirming that it was Israeli fire that killed his daughters, thanking those responsible for investigating the incident and saying that “we all make mistakes, and we don’t repeat them.”

Abu al-Aish, a father of eight, became one of the symbols of the Gaza offensive for Israelis after he captivated TV viewers with a sobbing live report on the death of his three daughters and his niece in Israeli shelling. The 55-year-old gynecologist trained in Israeli hospitals and speaks Hebrew.

The IDF announced earlier Wednesday that an investigation into the January 16 incident confirmed that it had been Israeli fire that killed the four girls.

izzeldin may forgive. i will never forgive nor will i forget. akeed la this is not a mistake! this is 3adi behavior for israeli terrorists. and until everyone stops normalizing, builds a unified resistance they will continue their murderous project of ethnically cleansing palestinians and colonizing palestinian land. and by the way: the israeli terrorists know they are guilty. this is why they are busy destroying evidence. and then, of course, rubbing it in our faces because no one will stop them from covering up their crimes.

nida badwan
nida badwan

there are other palestinians who choose not to forgive and forget and who remind us of the devastation like artist nida badwan who is exhibiting her artwork in one of the bombed out spaces of gaza (see photo above):

Ghoulish blue figures reach skyward towards an elusive red spiral in an abstract rendering of Gaza life hung in the ruins of a cultural centre bombed and torched during the Israeli offensive.

The paintings hang in the scorched depths of the Red Crescent cultural centre in Gaza City, which was destroyed at the height of the 22-day war. They are the work of Nida Badwan, an arts student who used to volunteer there.

“I wanted to exhibit them here because the building itself speaks,” Badwan says. “It tells the story of the paintings, and it speaks louder than they do.”

and you can add another university to your list of those being occupied by students in solidarity with palestinians in gaza. where are the american students? why are they not acting? why are they so silent?

Students at the Strathclyde University in Glasgow, Scotland have occupied the main administration building (McCance) in solidarity with the people of Gaza, and with other students who have taken similar action in Universities across Britain. The occupation followed a ‘march for Gaza’, and despite the ugly and heavy handed attempts by the University security to break up the march the students refused to leave the McCance building and have presented an agreed list of demands to the University authorities.

UPDATE: The University has called in the police. Please express your support by publicizing this widely. Also call the protesting students on: 0759 5626057 or 07989 796 280

A movement has been sweeping across Britain in protest at the the Israeli state’s massacre and the complicity of our government and university. This demonstration builds on the victories across the U.K and beyond in opposing murder in Gaza and all those who support it. The demands which are presently being delivered to the University principal are:

1) Cancel the contract with Eden Springs (an Israeli water company that is the University’s main supplier).

2) Divestment from the arms manufacturer BAE systems and invesigate alternative sources of funding for the Engineering Department.

3) Issue a statement condemning the Israeli states recent massacre of Gaza.

4) Fund and facilitate 50 scholarships for Palestinian students at Strathclyde University.

5) Solidarity with the Islamic University of Gaza: write a letter of support; twin Strathclyde with the university, and aid in its rebuilding.

6) Condemn the BBC for not showing the DEC appeal; show the appeal in lecture theatres and organise a fundraising day on campus.

7) Oppose Israeli academics who promote military research at Strathclyde University

For updates see this message board.

one final item for today–for you to take action on–one way that obama is continuing the racist policies of the bush regime is by refusing to allow those detained in guantanamo prison to come to the u.s. upon their release. there is a petition to sign, as well as background information, on why we should release some of the prisoners (though i would argue all of them should have that choice plus reparations for what they have endured) to the united states and not pawn them off to a third country:

The Uighurs are members of an intensely persecuted minority in western China and were sold to U.S. forces by bounty hunters. Most of them were cleared by the military of any offense in 2003. In September 2008, the U.S. government formally acknowledged that none of them is an enemy combatant. At present, all three branches of the government have acknowledged that the Uighurs should be released. All 17 have been exonerated by both military and habeas courts, and members of Congress have called for their release to the only place they can go: the United States.

Holding that their continued imprisonment was unlawful, U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ruled in October 2008 that they should be present in his court for release into the United States with appropriate conditions. Detailed arrangements to welcome and support the seventeen men had by then been made by religious and refugee organizations. Further commitment of support has been provided by the Uighur community of well established U.S. citizens in the D.C. area.

a dribble

today was supposed to be ahmad sa’adat’s day in court. although his trial has been postponed before, it seemed as if it might actually take place today but it has been postponed yet again. maybe they are still fabricating evidence. not that they need any. the zionist state will do what it wants to. it always dos. there was a demonstration in nablus yesterday in solidarity with sa’adat, but i didn’t know about it in time so i wasn’t able to go. but there are photographs and excerpts from the speeches on the pflp website. if you follow the daily listing of palestinians who are kidnapped by israeli terrorist forces (itf) and taken to israeli jails every day you will notice that over the last couple of years pflp has been targeted far more than other political parties. this is particularly true among youth. in one case–a friend of a friend who is 15 years old–has had his trial postponed three or four times already. my friend’s theory is that the zionist state does this on purpose so that it can wait until he turns 16 in a few months. then if he ever does have a military trial (they are all military courts) he will receive a harsher sentence. for what you might ask? for being a member of pflp. for fighting for his right to exist. oh the irony: we are barged daily with rhetoric about the zionist state making everyone bow to it and say that “it has a right to exist” when palestinians are never afforded that luxury. not in language. not in real life.

not here not there. there was a trial today, however. this one convicted members of the holy land trust foundation because they were found to be giving money to hamas. in the u.s., as in the zionist state, palestinians are always already terrorists, you know:

Ghassan Elashi, Holy Land’s former chairman, and Shukri Abu-Baker, the charity’s ex-chief executive, were convicted of a combined 69 charges, including supporting a specially designated “terrorist” organisation, money-laundering and tax fraud, The Associated Press reported.

Mufid Abdulqader and Abdulrahman Odeh were convicted on three counts of conspiracy, and Mohammed El-Mezain was convicted on one count of conspiracy to support a “terrorist organisation”.

interesting that the charges included conspiracy. if you read the reporting on the subject you’ll see that an anonymous israeli was allowed to be a witness in this case. apparently if you raise money for an islamic charity to feed hungry people in gaza–whether or not it is through hamas or any other organization–you are a terrorist. there is a website keeping track of the case where as actions emerge you can follow the case and help.

sometimes it is hard to know which direction the u.s.-israel collusion operates–or when it switches from one direction to the other. apparently, the u.s. asked ehud olmert not to carry out any “major military operations” in the waning days of george bush’s presidency. i guess that is why the itf is continuing their “minor military operations” every day. especially in gaza. but honestly, i don’t know which is worth: the quick death of a missile falling on your home or the slow death that comes from hunger or from a lack of medicine, electricity to run medical equipment. this morning the zionist state allowed a small trickle of fuel into gaza. mahmoud al-khizindar, the deputy chief of the federation of fuel companies in gaza said it would last for about 30 hours. that means there are 17 hours left until gaza shuts down again. but he also said this:

He also said that Israel did not allow other types of fuel to be shipped, including cooking gas and gasoline for cars.

Late on Monday night, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered his military to resume the blockade of Gaza on Tuesday, citing reported homemade rockets fired from the Strip.

Israeli media claimed one such projectile was fired from the Strip on Monday night, causing no damage. No Palestinian group claimed responsibility for the attack.

as a result of this siege and the minimal fuel trickling in, palestinians are getting even more creative than usual:

To deal with the lack of kerosene, Gazans are adding white salt to diesel smuggled in from Egypt through underground tunnels, in order to light old kerosene lamps.

Falafel restaurants are only able to operate once a day (either in the morning or at night) in order avoid wasting gas.

there is a moving photo-essay on electronic intifada today by sameh habeeb that illustrates what this blackout looks like in gaza. how it affects daily life in gaza.

there is some food in gaza now, particularly for refugees. but it is a dribble. it is not nearly enough. john ging, unrwa chief of operations in gaza remains hopeful that more will be allowed to enter:

It’s a small, very small quantity that is coming in, but it’s the first resupply in over a week, and the situation, as I say, had become very desperate, and we hope, now, that it’s, as I say, the first step back to a positive situation here.

i wish i could be as hopeful. there is a new closure. gaza is closed again. the jail is on lockdown. i find it difficult to be hopeful because while the itf opened gaza for a fleeting moment to let aid inside, they also used it as an opportunity to make sure palestinian farmers could not grow their own food:

Israeli forces rolled into southeast Gaza Strip on Tuesday and bulldozers started to flatten farmlands, witnesses and security sources said.

The residents of al-Fukhari neighborhood, to the east of Khan Younis town, said nine tanks and two bulldozers suddenly entered the area and destroyed greenhouses and potato fields.

They added that the tanks used their machine guns to cover the bulldozers, forcing farmers and the residents to flee westward.

i think it is necessary to understand what 20 days of closure to a population already besieged does to human lives. below is a report from the popular committee against the siege (pcas):

The recent Israeli hazardous siege tightened 20 days ago is considered as a death sentence against Human as well as birds and animals. PCAS chairman, MP Jamal EL Khoudary expressed his deep anger towards Israeli policy of collective Punishment. He considered what’s happening as flagrant violations of all international humanitarian accords particularly the Fourth Genva Convention.

This new report comes out as a final call before a real collapse hits the life totally. This report uncovers part of enormous repercussions resulted in Israeli inhuman siege. It is also a clear message to United Nations, European Union and International Community to take responsibility immediately and end siege.

Siege Report of the latest 20 days only:

Health Sector:

Crisis and Catastrophes:

A Palestinian man holds wood as he walks in a street in the southern Gaza Strip November 23, 2008. Gaza is facing a humanitarian catastrophe as Israel continues to prevent aid reaching the territory by blocking crossing points.

A Palestinian man holds wood as he walks in a street in the southern Gaza Strip November 23, 2008. Gaza is facing a humanitarian catastrophe as Israel continues to prevent aid reaching the territory by blocking crossing points.

– A severe shortage of basic medicines is up to 40%. Medicines of diabetes, heart, asthma and other chronic diseases are vanished from Gaza. Additionally, other kind of medicines for Cancer, Lennar and liver failure face sharp shortages.

– Sterilization and Disinfection and medical equipments and clothes face decrease up to 30%.

– There is severe shortage in Solutions and pigments and laboratories tools. These shortages amounted of 40% directly affect patients.

– Some Medical Machines are in bad need for spare parts and maintenance. Due to siege none of the needed is being achieved. Medical machines of Gas measurements of children incubators are being affected as well.

– The power cuts and continued blackouts damaged part of machines and its programming systems.

– Damage hit C.T and X.Ray Departments at al Shifa’ and European hospitals. These are so crucial to diagnosis tumours of cancer and other diseases. Spare parts for medical T.V are not available!

– Gases used for surgeries are not enough and what’s available is only for 7 days. In the normal time there has to be a strategic storage for at least 3 months of these gases.

– Generators of hospitals are working for long hours due to Power cuts and this affected performance, already a generator of Al Shifa’ hospital stopped.

– Natural cocking gas is not available leaving kitchens of all Gazan hospitals closed. This affects food quality for sick people. Additionally, laundries of clothes and medical cloths are closed vowing of more disease.

– Vaccines for children are about to vanish vowing of problems for children in regard of immunity against diseases.

– Around 260 peoples already died due to closure and not being able to travel. More than 35% of victims are of children.

– Hospitals run the badly needed surgeries and some other normal ones due to the above problems.

– Around 60% of ambulances are being stopped and some medical vans as well.

Agricultural, Animal and Bird Sector:

This sector is one of most negatively affected by recent closure of collective punishment. Animals are and birds are being sorted as terrorists as the same as Gazans in Israeli view.

– Gaza needs 150 tons of fodder a day, since 3 weeks none of it entered.

– More than 700000 of chickens executed due to lack of fodder.

– Looses amounted of 20% due to lack of vaccinations, serums and lack of fodder.

– Fishing sector lacks natural gas needed for fishing and also the process of incubation is being halted.

– Agricultural tools like insecticides, seeds and fertilizer not available. This negatively affects the sector and already did with start of siege.

– Agricultural products are being held in Gaza as Israel prevents any kind of exportation since a year and a half.

Closing Commercial Crossings:

Israel closed crossings and decreased quantities of all sorts of commodities into Gaza starting in mid of 2007. Only 15% of Gaza’s needs amounted of 600 vans get into Gaza. On the 4th of November, Israel closed all crossings totally. Even the 15% which is not enough, Israel cut it.

Fuel Crisis:

Palestinians queue with their cooking gas bottles at a station in the central Gaza Strip refugee camp of al-Nusseirat. Israel said it will maintain its siege of the Gaza Strip despite international concern over a deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the aid-dependent Palestinian territory.

Palestinians queue with their cooking gas bottles at a station in the central Gaza Strip refugee camp of al-Nusseirat. Israel said it will maintain its siege of the Gaza Strip despite international concern over a deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the aid-dependent Palestinian territory.

Israel completely cut all kind of fuel including the Industrial one needed for the key power plant. Cocking gas, fuel, Benzine and Gasoline don’t enter Gaza leaving people in dire situation.

The power plant is function 50% of its capacity as it was hit by Israel in 2006. It produces around 70 Megawatt out of 140 Megawatt due to lack of spare parts. It consumes around 300 thousands litters of industrial fuel beside the storage fuel, none of that entered Gaza for the last 20 days.

The stoppage of plunged 50-60% into deep darkness due to lack of power. The rest parts depend on Israeli and Egyptian power. Israeli power lines are in bad need for maintenance and repair.

Bread and Bakeries Crisis:

In Gaza the number of bakeries is 47 but now the working ones are 17 only.

Normally, Gaza needs 450 tons of flour; 100 goes for bakeries and 300 for house use. Part of the house share is being provided by UNRWA which halted its work lately.

The remaining flour and wheat quantities would be covering the needs of people for 15 days. After then and if Israel would no be opening border points then a real famine would happen.

Water and Sewage:

The sector faces a sharp shortage in chlorine needed for Water and soon it will not be pumped along with drinking water. Therefore, contaminated water mixed with sewage would be a reason for plagues.

A more bacterium water would be pumped for civilians in Gaza. Gaza needs 60 cubic of chlorine material and the recent storage is Zero.

Around 100 water wells work out of 145 with 60% capacity of the normal performance. 45 water wells work with ability of 80% this due to spare parts shortage and Israeli closure.

Consumption of water is 220 thousand cubic in the normal time. However, it decreased to 40%. Some areas in the Gaza strip don’t get water especially the high locations.

Another serious outcome is sewage water leaking into the sea. It is estimated of 77million litters a day This kills fish resources and causes environmental disaster.

Commodities and Food Crisis:

Basic food stuff like milk, flour, food oils, meat, rice and legumes are not available with big quantities. Other needs are not available like raw materials.

Estimates for daily consumption of the following food products in the Gaza Strip are: 867 tons of flour, 153 tons of sugar, 110 tons of rice, 75 tons of different kinds of oil and 49 tons herbs and vegetables. According to crossing administration only 15 % of Gaza needs get in.

UNRWA Crisis:

Due to the crossing closures all kind of services and relief stuff are being banned to get into Gaza. The UNRWA which provides food parcels for 750.000 persons stopped its vital work.

Industrial Sector:

The industrial sector depends completely on imported raw materials. It depends up to 80% on imported machines and spare parts, and during the peak season of production (May – June) it is possible to export 748 truckloads of industrial products per month (including furniture, food products, clothing and agricultural products).

Since the beginning of the siege, the Occupation cancelled the application of its Customs Code for the Strip, resulting in the stopping of all industrial activities, which depends up to 85% on imported raw materials that are imported from Israel or in transit through it, and statistics indicate that more than 97% of industrial establishments, a total of 3,900, were shut down, stopping the export of their product; as a consequence 33,000 out of 35,000 employees and workers in this sector joined the ranks of the unemployed up to the date of the imposition of the siege in mid June 2007, and after the siege the number of employed industrial workers does not exceed 1,500.

there is a reprieve. but none of the aspects of this siege, listed above, will go away with 40 trucks of aid or 30 hours of fuel for electricity. it will continue in its cyclical ways. siege, reprieve, siege, reprieve. i wonder if this feels at all normal to people in gaza now. here the cyclical nature of the siege is a bit different. for those who live in nablus and don’t leave very often you can generally go about your day in a normal way. you can go to work or school. you can buy your food. you can meet up with friends. but at night the siege begins. at night the jeeps or tanks roll in. they kidnap palestinians. they kill palestinians. and then daylight comes and somehow things are back to “normal.” though in khalil yesterday, the itf stormed the palestine technical college in arroub refugee camp, kidnapped students from some of the classrooms. i think they don’t want people here to get used to “normal.” this is the same reason why we must endure their sonic booms every day in the sky above.

i wonder if there was any cash on those trucks coming into gaza because even if there are some food items entering, what will people use to buy the food given that the banks are running out of money there:

Local banks in Gaza, under pressure from Israeli sanctions, are running out of cash and desperate Palestinians lined up at branches Monday hoping to pull money out of frozen accounts.

But most banks have sharply curtailed withdrawals over the past two weeks and some have posted signs telling customers they cannot take out any more money. The U.N. stopped distributing cash handouts to Gaza’s poorest last week.

Economists and bank officials are warning that tens of thousands of civil servants will not be able to cash paychecks next month.

you see, this crisis is layered. it affects every aspect of people’s lives. most people who work, who receive a paycheck of some sort, who live their lives every day by working, cleaning their homes, cooking, shopping–they don’t think about the simple things that they do. i don’t think people wonder about banks running out of cash. or employers not being able to pay their employees (though thanks to the economic crisis the u.s. made global perhaps more people do). but i think people take it for granted that they can do these simple things every day. the things that make life normal.

i mentioned the other day that interpal, a palestinian charity in the u.k. that gives aid to palestinians is under attack. they are being stopped from transferring money (let’s hope this situation doesn’t go the way of the holy land trust case in the u.s.). there is now a petition you can sign to try to stop lloyds tsb from closing their account. one would hope that if this gets turned around and money gets transferred that it can be withdrawn in gaza.

it is telling that the zionist state is getting nervous. in spite of the arrogance with which they operate their death machine every single day, they are still most frightened about language. they are afraid of people telling the truth. of using language that expresses and describes their hate, their racism. they are especially concerned about such language when it appears in the united nations:

United Nations General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann on Monday likened Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians to South Africa’s treatment of blacks under apartheid.

Israel’s actions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were like “the apartheid of an earlier era,” said Brockmann, of Nicaragua, speaking at the annual debate marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

He added: “We must not be afraid to call something what it is.”

Brockmann stressed that it was important for the United Nations to use the heavily-charged term since it was the institution itself that had passed the International Convention against the crime of apartheid.

some zionists take their battle to universities–as it recently did at boise state (see video i posted yesterday)–and now at leeds university:

Leeds University Union agreed last week, by a vote of 12 to 11, to send a motion to referendum which will label anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism and silence pro-Palestinian groups on campus.

The motion, shrouded in the language of combating anti-Semitism, is a reversal of a motion passed two years ago which gave Palestinian activists at Leeds University the rights enjoyed by their counterparts throughout the country. If passed, organizations which have an anti-Zionist platform, such as the Socialist Workers Party and the Palestine Solidarity Group, will be prevented from receiving funding from the union and prevented from holding many of their events.

this is how they try to cover up their crimes. their war crimes. their crimes against language. students at leeds are asking for your help. you may register your complaint:

The motion will go to referendum the week beginning Friday, 28 November and the results will be announced on Friday, 5 December.

To register your opposition to the motion contact:

University Secretary Roger Gair
j.r.gair@adm.leeds.ac.uk

University Vice-Chancellor Michael Arthur
m.j.p.arthur@adm.leeds.ac.uk

Chief Executive of Leeds University Union Lesley Dixon
l.dixon@luu.leeds.ac.uk

there is another petition circulating that needs signatures. a petition condemning yet another twist of language, that reveals the nature of zionism. it asks people to protest the so-called “museum of tolerance” in its attempt to build its museum on a palestinian cemetery. here is the language of the petition and a link where you can sign it and get more information:

Building a ‘Museum of Tolerance’ atop the cemetery, unlike the admirable goal of furthering tolerance and understanding, will only add to the existing pain and suffering of Palestinians and Israelis, irreversibly damage relations between Muslims and Jews worldwide and sow new feelings of animosity and division for generations to come.

A comprehensive path toward reconciliation in Jerusalem must include measures to respect beliefs and heal the wounds of Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities.

Therefore, we ask that the Wiesenthal Center, in the spirit of cooperation and respect for all people and faiths, relocate the planned ‘Museum of Tolerance.’ Doing so will not only save the Wiesenthal Center time and money but also help avoid fanning the flames of intolerance in that volatile region.

and for those of you who think that your signatures, your voices don’t matter here is the good-news story of the day from rania:

Israeli water cooler company Eden Springs has closed its East of Scotland depot after losing, according to a well placed industry insider, ‘hundreds of contracts’ across Scotland. Among the major losses in recent months, in an industry that is generally expanding, are contracts with East Lothian and West Lothian Councils and Caledonian MacBrayne Ferrries, the sole link between the mainland and Scotland’s many islands. Heriot –Watt University in Edinburgh has also cancelled and Stevenson College, the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations, as well as a number of Scottish trade union and student bodies have all voted to boycott Eden springs explicitly on the grounds of their violations of international and human rights law.

the boycott works. this is yet another reason why the zionists freak out when we use the word apartheid to describe their policies of destruction and brutality. when we use that word to adopt practices, like boycott, that brought the racist regime in south africa to its knees.

and there is more you can do, too. u.s. campaign to end the occupation is organizing a rally in washington dc tomorrow. here are the details and some other things they ask you to do:

With Gazans already impoverished and struggling to survive, on November 5, Israel completely sealed Gaza’s border crossings. This followed an unprovoked Israeli attack on Gaza that killed six Palestinians, despite a ceasefire, and Palestinian rocket fire in response. As a result of Israel’s closure, the United Nations has been forced to stop food distribution to 750,000 needy people, and 70% of Gaza is now without power due to a lack of fuel. According to reports, even candles are now in short supply. “Let’s see this for what it is.” said UN spokesman Chris Gunness. “Fifty-six percent of the Gaza Strip are children. Let us not cause suffering of innocent children.” Blocking witnesses, on November 13, Israel denied the entry to Gaza of 20 senior EU diplomats. Israel also has refused to allow foreign journalists to enter Gaza. Foreign Press Association chairman Steven Gutnik called the ban “a serious violation of freedom of the press” and said “it is essential that journalists be allowed to enter the Gaza Strip since it is the foreign media that serves as the world’s window into Gaza. Israel allowed a trickle of aid to enter Gaza today. Gaza has 1.5 million residents, the large majority of whom are displaced refugees from 1948.

In response to calls from Gaza, we urge you to take one or more of the following actions:

1) Contact Your Political Representatives: Contact your congressional representatives (http://capwiz.com/fconl/directory/leadership_list.tt ) and demand that the US government pressure Israel to stop starving Gazans, end the siege, and respect basic Palestinian rights.

Tell this directly to the U.S. Mission to the UN:

Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad
Phone: (212) 415-4053

2) Organize a Protest: Organize public protests and educational events calling for an end of Israel’s abuse of Palestinian rights in Gaza.

3) Boycott the Occupier, Not the Occupied: Take action for long-term change and join the growing international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement. Organize a BDS campaign in your community, in response to the call by over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations, until Israel ends its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands, dismantles the Wall, recognizes the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel, and implements the right of return for Palestinian refugees as stipulated in UN resolution 194.