when will the right lessons be learned?

surprise, surprise: obama has decided that building colonies on palestinian land in al quds is not such a problem after all:

The US has dropped a demand that Israel freeze settlement construction in East Jerusalem, the Palestinian capital, an Israeli newspaper reported on Thursday.

The newspaper Haaretz, citing Israeli officials and Western diplomats, reported that US envoy George Mitchell capitulated to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal during their meeting in London on Wednesday.

US President Barack Obama and his administration have been pressuring Israel to freeze settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories in order to create conditions for renewed peace negotiations. State Department officials have said in the past that their demand includes East Jerusalem.

Israeli occupied and then annexed East Jerusalem during the June 1967 war. Palestinians and the international community do not recognize the legitimacy of Israeli control in the eastern half of the city.

According to Haaretz, Netanyahu offered Mitchell a nine-month freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank excluding Jerusalem. In addition, Netanyahu wants to exclude 2,500 housing units on which construction has already started, and the construction of schools and other structures in the settlements.

In addition, the newspaper said, Israel is demanding that the Palestinian Authority and Arab states make their own concessions in exchange for a freeze. If these measures are not take, the report says, Israel wants guarantees that the US will not oppose an end to the freeze and further settlement construction.

clearly, obama wants to use the american colonial model for its so-called “peace process” (read: colonization process) in palestine. one of the many tactics europeans used to colonize north america was to keep making promises and treaties with tribes that were broken from the moment they were signed. meanwhile, who is building these new colonies that have not halted for a day over the last 122+ years? largely palestinians as this bbc report reveals:

“I feel like a slave,” says 21-year-old Palestinian Musanna Khalil Mohammed Rabbaye.

“But I have no alternative,” he says, as he waits among a group of sun-beaten men in dusty work boots outside the Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim.

The phrase comes up again and again as the labourers try to explain why they spend their days hammering and shovelling to help build the Jewish settlements eating into the land they want for a future state of Palestine.

Mr Rabbaye wants to be a journalist and is trying to fund his studies.

Jaffar Khalil Kawazba, 24, says he is supporting his 10 brothers and sisters as his father is too ill to work. Fahd Sayara, 40, is trying to fund treatment for his disabled child.

“I’m not the only one. My whole village works in the settlements,” says Mr Rabbaye.

“Everything, all the settlements – even most of the Wall – was built by Palestinians,” he says, referring to the separation barrier, detested by the Palestinian population, that Israel is building in and around the West Bank.

The settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank are illegal under international law.

The Palestinian Authority is refusing to negotiate unless Israel heeds US pressure to stop all construction in the settlements.

Israel says it wants to keep building, at the very least to provide homes for the “natural growth” of the 450,000-strong Jewish settler population in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

But with about 30% of West Bank Palestinians out of work, and average earnings in the territory little more than half Israel’s minimum wage, labouring in the settlements has its appeal for Palestinians.

Some 12,000 Palestinian construction workers get Israeli permits to work in the settlements each year.

meanwhile, some palestinians are forced to demolish their own homes because if they don’t they will not only lose their home, but they will also have to pay the zionist terrorist colonists fees for demolishing their homes:

Two Palestinian families in Jerusalem’s Old City have been forced to demolish their own house after Israeli authorities threatened him with heavy fines if he did not.

One resident, Muhammad Faysal Jabir lived with his family of five in a 28 square meter house in the Aqbat Al-Khalidiyya neighborhood of the Old City. Jabir told Ma’an that the apartment used to be just 12 square meters, and that he added an extension apparently without permission from the Jerusalem Municipality.

The Israeli controlled Jerusalem Municipality frequently refuses Palestinian requests for construction permits, using this as a pretext for house demolitions. Self-demolition is often the least expensive route for Palestinians facing the destruction of their homes.

this report by jacky rowland on al jazeera shows precisely how palestinian land theft and new colony building goes on and on and on:

and here is a second such report on al jazeera on colonies in al quds by dan nolan, which contains some great map work showing you the land theft in and around al quds:

so it should not come as a surprise that netanyahu is not budging on the issue of colonized al quds:

Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, has said that his government is unwilling to negotiate on the status of Jerusalem as a joint Israel-Palestinian capital.

When speaking in London at a meeting with Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, on Tuesday, Netanyahu also said that any peace talks with the Palestinians would have to cover the issue of a “demilitarised Palestine”, as well as illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

“I’ve made it clear … that Jerusalem is a sovereign capital of Israel and we accept no limitations on our sovereignty,” Netanyahu said at a news conference in the British capital.

“To put a fine point on it, Jerusalem is not a settlement.”

However, he added: “The settlement issue is outstanding. It has to be one of the issues resolved in the negotiations, alongside Palestinian recognition of the Jewish state, effective demilitarisation, for any future peace agreement.”

The Palestinians want occupied East Jerusalem as their future state capital.

of course, there are still those plans that don’t put palestinians anywhere near al quds as a capital of palestine or anything else. there are many zionist terrorist colonists who still argue that jordan is palestine and wish to continue their ethnic cleansing project to push palestinians into jordan as nisreen el-shamayleh reports for al jazeera:

max blumenthal’s most recent video, which is a trailer for a new documentary film appropriately entitled “israel’s terror inside,” and it shows precisely the sort of attitudes of those stealing and colonizing palestinian land:

for those who would like to see what the future holds for al quds a good place to look might be beer saba’ where palestinians who remain on their land and who are trying to pray in their mosque there are being kept from their mosques so that the zionist terrorist colonists can open bars or “museums” (al majdal is a great example of this). jonathan cook had a great article in electronic intifada this week on the subject–here is the part where he contextualizes this issue of palestinian mosques in 1948 palestine more generally:

A report published in 2004 by the Arab Human Rights Association, based in Nazareth, identified 250 places of worship, both Islamic and Christian, that had either been destroyed or made unusable since Israel’s establishment in 1948. Nearly 200 were razed in the wake of the 1948 war, but the threat of destruction hangs over many surviving places of worship too. The century-old mosque of Sarafand, on the coast near the northern city of Haifa, was bulldozed in July 2000 after local Muslims started restoring it.

Other buildings, including mosques in Tiberias and Beit Shean, have been the target of repeated arson attacks. The famous Hasan Bek mosque in Tel Aviv is regularly vandalized and was desecrated in 2005 when a pig’s head bearing the name of the Prophet was thrown into its yard.

Two historic Galilee mosques that are still standing, at Ghabsiyya and Hittin, have been left to fall into ruin surrounded by fences and razor wire. The latter was built by Saladin in the 12th century to celebrate the defeat of the Crusaders.

In Palestinian villages now re-invented as Jewish communities, such as at Ein Hod and Caesariya, mosques have been refurbished as bars or restaurants. In at least four cases, mosques have been converted into synagogues. And Jewish farming communities sometimes use remote holy places as animal pens or warehouses.

In the case of the Beersheva mosque, the court tried to settle the dispute three years ago by urging the parties to reach a compromise. It has suggested that the building be converted into an Islamic heritage center where no prayer would take place or that it become a coexistence center.

Both sides rejected the offers.

Adalah discovered in 2004, two years after it launched its petition, that the municipality had secretly issued a tender to convert the mosque into a museum. The court ruled the renovations could go ahead but only if they were restricted to protecting the structure.

A visit last month revealed that the municipality had ignored the injunction and was close to completing the mosque’s refurbishment as a museum.

this problem could be resolved rather easily if palestinians inside 1948 could get their land and buildings back and if palestinian refugees who are from places like beer saba’ could return to their land. but that would require palestinian leaders fighting for this fundamental essential right rather than jockeying for power on the backs of palestinian refugees. haidar eid identified these key issues in a terrific electronic intifada article the other day:

Now, the stated goal, for which rivers of blood flow (and the blood is not yet dry in the streets of Gaza), has become the establishment of an “independent” Palestinian state in any dimension — the “two-state solution.” But how that would lead to the implementation of UN resolution 194, which calls for the return of the Palestinian refugees and their compensation, is a mystery in the minds of Palestinians observing the conference. How a Palestinian state would end the brutality of the apartheid system against 1.4 million indigenous Palestinians who are citizens of Israel is another disturbing question that the conveners preferred to duck.

Ignoring the paradigm shift resulting from the Gaza massacre and reiterating the long-held belief that sees accords signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority as the only political route to a Palestinian state, is an indication of the loss of faith in the power of the Palestinian people to reclaim their land and rights. This approach is a repudiation of the undeniable, unprecedented steadfastness shown by the people of Gaza, the growing forms of popular resistance in the West Bank, and the success of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

Instead, again and again, we are asked to rely on the benevolence of the US, the European Union and reactionary Arab regimes to give us a truncated state, as if Gaza 2009 did not happen.

Not a word was mentioned about the fact that Israel has rendered the establishment of an independent state on 22 percent of historic Palestine — the West Bank and Gaza Strip — impossible. Many Palestinian and international critical thinkers have already reached the conclusion that the two-state solution has come to an end, thanks to Israeli colonization in the West Bank. What, then, is Fatah’s — and the rest of the Palestinian national movement’s — alternative?

What we saw in Bethlehem is the embodiment of Frantz Fanon’s “pitfalls of national consciousness” — albeit with a Palestinian gown. The irony, of course, is that Fanon was theorizing about the future post-colonial states after independence. He wrote of neo-colonial subjugation of the native elites. Black cars, fashionable suits, bodyguards, are some of the characteristics of the rising nouveaux riches of (occupied) Palestine. Fanon wrote scornfully that “[t]he national middle class which takes over power at the end of the colonial regime is an underdeveloped middle class. It has practically no economic power, and in any case it is in no way commensurate with the bourgeoisie of the mother country which it hopes to replace” (emphasis added).

But are we, in Palestine, close to the end of the colonial regime? Here is the crucial difference between the national bourgeoisie of, say Algeria or South Africa, and our own. Ours have fetishized statehood before attaining independence, a game — unsurprisingly — encouraged by the US, Israel and even the official Arab regimes. What is independence at the end of the day? A national anthem, flag, ministries, premierships and presidencies? We already have them.

For Fanon, the cycle of delusion, ostracism and dependency goes on unabated after independence. But we are yet to get there!

desmond tutu who has been in palestine this week with an organization called the elders (which, unfortunately, seems to foster normalization), made it clear that the zionist terrorist colonists surmise the wrong lesson from their history and also acknowledges the necessity of bds:

“The lesson that Israel must learn from the Holocaust is that it can never get security through fences, walls and guns,” Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu of South Africa told Haaretz Thursday.

Commenting on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement in Germany Thursday that the lesson of the Holocaust is that Israel should always defend itself, Tutu noted that “in South Africa, they tried to get security from the barrel of a gun. They never got it. They got security when the human rights of all were recognized and respected.”

The Nobel Prize laureate spoke to Haaretz in Jerusalem as the organization The Elders concluded its tour of Israel and the West Bank. He said the West was consumed with guilt and regret toward Israel because of the Holocaust, “as it should be.”

“But who pays the penance? The penance is being paid by the Arabs, by the Palestinians. I once met a German ambassador who said Germany is guilty of two wrongs. One was what they did to the Jews. And now the suffering of the Palestinians.”

He also slammed Jewish organizations in the United States, saying they intimidate anyone who criticizes the occupation and rush to accuse these critics of anti-Semitism. Tutu recalled how such organizations pressured U.S. universities to cancel his appearances on their campuses.

“That is unfortunate, because my own positions are actually derived from the Torah. You know God created you in God’s image. And we have a God who is always biased in favor of the oppressed.”

Tutu also commented on the call by Ben-Gurion University professor Neve Gordon to apply selective sanctions on Israel.

“I always say to people that sanctions were important in the South African case for several reasons. We had a sports boycott, and since we are a sports-mad country, it hit ordinary people. It was one of the most psychologically powerful instruments.

“Secondly, it actually did hit the pocket of the South African government. I mean, when we had the arms embargo and the economic boycott.”

He said that when F.W. de Klerk became president he telephoned congratulations. “The very first thing he said to me was ‘well now will you call off sanctions?’ Although they kept saying, oh well, these things don’t affect us at all. That was not true.

“And another important reason was that it gave hope to our people that the world cared. You know. That this was a form of identification.”

personally, however, i’d like to see a real resistance campaign to accompany bds that can be effective and creative as the never before campaign always inspires in me. here is their latest video:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

tamil net gives us rather different figures:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

gaza in context

carlos latuff on inside story/al jazeera
carlos latuff on inside story/al jazeera

last night i watched “inside story” with imran garda on al jazeera and was happy to see, finally, some historical context, some useful thinking about the massacre in gaza and the roots of this problem–particularly for the jockeying of power over the palestinians not only by israeli terrorist colonists, but also by regional players who are the pimps and pawns for the west. the historical material i’ve transcribed below, but i strongly recommend watching this discussion, which thankfully has no israeli terrorists spewing their lies, hate, and propaganda; without them one can get at a much richer, much more contextualized analysis. garda interviews journalist robert fisk and mahdi abdul hadi of the palestinian academic society for the study of international affairs in al quds. incidentally, carlos latuff’s latest cartoon was apparently drawn for “inside story,” and al jazeera more generally, to show the lack of media access to gaza, one of the many forms of control the israeli terrorist regime uses to hide its war crimes.

imran garda: is sharm al shaykh a serious summit? the summit that is going on, that is being discussed on sunday? or is it just face-saving for egypt?

mahdi abdul hadi: well, it’s more than face-saving for egypt. it covers europe and the palestinian authority as well as israelis. we witness why the israelis want to unilaterally call for ceasefire and this morning again hamas came with the ceasefire for one week in order to see what lies ahead. sharm al shaykh summit covers 3 aspects.

1. that egypt is again claiming its role as a leader in the region and it has a say;

2. to bring europeans–those who have been very, politically hypocrites looking for israeli security and safety and did nothing, absolutely nothing for the last 22 days of the massacre of the palestinians in gaza. and now they are meeting people halfway for their own society. people are demonstrating in every capitol in europe, as well as looking for humanitarian aid to transfer the palestine question to humanitarian aid. as well as the united nations who accepted to be in one seat in the quartet doing absolutely nothing and run behind condoleeza rice’s decisions. egyptians are trying to balance between the doha conference and the coming kuwait conference–to tell the arab regimes: “i’m here and i have a say.” number one i tried to convince the israelis to hold the ceasefire and they are meeting us halfway while the israelis took the decision a long time ago exactly as mr. robert fisk was saying. in time for obama’s administration, and two to save face for israeli public opinion, and three not to sign a deal with hamas. and they want unilaterally in order not to recognize hamas as they did it exactly with hezbollah in 2006.

the sharm al shaykh conference today is–egypt is saying today–“i’m here, i have a say.” two, europeans are saying “we missed it for 22 days, but we can compensate for humanitarian aid.” three, united nations is saying “we can assist and facilitate.” four, the israelis are all going to open the door for all those hypocrites to say we can do something for those miserable, defeated, beaten, humiliated, destroyed palestinians in gaza.

imran garda: egypt must have fumed when it saw the scenes coming out of the doha summit . here you had hamas on a pedestal. you had khaled mesh’al speaking first alongside all these heads of state, given the legitimacy it so craves and it hasn’t gotten from the israelis and now egypt must have been going ballistic over that.

robert fisk: well, dr. abdul hadi doesn’t mince his words. but i think he’s got it pretty well right. i mean, you gotta realize it’s the fate of autocrats who take money and military assistance from the west as much as the arab potentates, arab kings and princes and presidents do, to have to come to heel and find they are playing second fiddle from time to time. i agree with you on the worthlessness of sharm al shaykh. no one is talking about opening all the borders of gaza to food and fuel, which is what the palestinians want. i think it’s very interesting and i wonder if dr. abdul hadi knows the date today because it is exactly, to this day, the 90th anniversary of the opening of the paris peace conference of 1919 which created the modern middle east through the versailles treaty and crated the whole mess that we’re in now. in fact, on 18th of january 1919, one of the first items on the agenda of the french, and the british, and the germans, and the czechs, and the turks–all of whom are at sharm al shaykh today–was the borders of palestine. well, welcome to the ghosts of the past. i’ll bet they’ll be in sharm al shaykh listening.

imran garda: bashar al assad said at doha that the arab peace initiative of 2002 is dead now. that was his strong declaration. how significant is that statement from the syrian president?

mahdi abdul hadi: just allow me one footnote very quickly to mr. robert fisk. i tend to agree with you as a student of history. 1919 definitely imposed a mandate on the whole arab world and on the region. palestinians were demanding self-determination. and palestinians were demanding to be a part of arab united countries. today we don’t have a paris peace conference of 1919. today we don’t have a madrid conference. we don’t have any of these above conferences. people are waiting to see this young man, obama, and i hope they will not be very much disappointed with him vis-a-vis his agenda in the middle east. israelis jump before anyone else to impose the agenda. security for israel and involving nato and all these european heads of state meeting today in sharm al shaykh to maintain law and order or security for israel first. and then look for the palestinians today as humanitarian aid. and maybe using their assets in order to have a say in daily affairs of palestinian society and try to save mahmoud abbas from sinking in what has really been happening for the last 22 days. to give him sort of legitimacy and recognition after he lost it already from his people. now coming back to bashar al assad’s statement, doha summit was very clear in preparing the agenda for kuwait summit. and that’s why the egyptians today are hosting the sharm al shaykh conference to tell everyone we are concerned not only about the economy, but the palestinian issue and we can have a say in shaping the future of palestine with mahmoud abbas and not with somebody else. doha conference or doha summit put on the agenda that people who are meeting today, wherever they are, under any circumstances, cannot talk any more about the arab initiative of 2002–nor the question of normalization with israel while palestinians are bleeding. this is basically one. number two, to introduce and recognize hamas as sharing the saying of the palestinian future–legitimately elected, responsible, and resistance and having now a say. not only by a statement of mesh’al in doha, but telling the arab summit that tomorrow, in kuwait, you cannot be alone in defeated, divided, weak, no vision, no leadership of fatah and the wider society. these people are resistance and these people are paying the price. and they should be recognized. and the third level, definitely, for europeans who are meeting today in sharm al shaykh, if we want to talk about economy and development, we have to talk from a regional perspective and not limiting it only to gaza. and this is exactly what doha did: it prepared the homework, prepared the draft resolution for kuwaiti summit in order to challenge those who are still wishing to work on the peace process as the old state. today we are entering a new chapter in palestine and the region. the man in the street will not accept the status quo as before. and israelis are very much exposed as liars, as cheaters, as killers, as occupiers, and playing the game of maintaining the status quo and taking the land and transferring the palestine question in terms of people to the arab house: egypt and jordan.

imran garda: interesting that you mentioned the 90th anniversary of the paris peace summit. i wonder in years to come–90 years from now–when people look into the history books and see not only rival factions, but they see rival summits, it will look ridiculous won’t it?

robert fisk: well, we know the man who was at the paris peace conference, who was trying to bring peace to the world, and that was president wilson of the united states, with clemenceau of france there as well, and lloyd george for london. whether we’ll know who nicolas sarkozy is–or gordon brown–in 90 years time–gordon who? nicholas who? look, i think you’ve got to see, i think this summit is intended to enhance mahmoud abbas, who cannot frankly be enhanced. but i think there is an issue that we’re not really dealing with here and that is that i don’t think that hamas won this war. one of the things that struck me in particular is that hamas seemed to think that in its rhetoric that it is the same as hezbollah. and it’s not. that’s a serious error. they do not have the same ability to fight the israeli army as hezbollah had. and what is particularly interesting is their total lack of security. there remains inside gaza, clearly, a forest of collaborators, informers, and spies either working for fatah or working directly for the israelis who were able to give away the addresses of every home and hideout of hamas members and that’s why senior members were killed by the israelis. so what we need to look at is not just hamas as a political organization, but how it really didn’t do very well against the israelis militarily. and i think that it is important to remember these things because hezbollah has a place in the politics of lebanon because militarily it’s worth something, whatever you think of it yourself, whereas hamas i’m not so sure. we’re able to talk about the election in which those pesky palestinians voted for the wrong people, they voted for hamas, but we must also remember the coup in gaza which killed 151 palestinians. i’m not sure that hamas is going to come out of this with its shield shining bright in the sunshine.

imran garda: mahdi abdul hadi had echoes of 1948. he said there might be another partition now. sadly, there might not be a 2 state solution as you had mentioned, but a 3 state solution is something that might be in the cards. what do you make of that?

robert fisk: well that’s pretty well what we’ve got, isn’t it? we’ve got 2 rival governments on the palestinian side, and one government that might be about to lose power to the other one on the israeli side. look, i think it’s a broader argument than just this. the problem is that all these great and good men gathering in sharm al shaykh these wonderful potentate statesmen from the west in particular. they should be dealing with the real issues of the middle east which is really about the subject called justice. instead of that they’re dealing with food and tunnels. for god’s sake. really. what i think that in the middle east, after so many years here, more than 3 decades, is that what everyone tells me they want in the middle east is justice. whether it be about the justice or injustice of dispossession. whether it be about the crust of secret police and secret prisons and torture, which most of the arab regimes impose on their own people with our western support, of course. that’s what people ask for. they don’t ask for human rights, though they’d like some. and they don’t ask for democracy, though we keep throwing it at them and beating them when they don’t vote for the right people. but they want justice and that is what sharm al shaykh should be about. and it’s what doha should have been about. and it’s what kuwait should be about. and again it’s not. the two arab summits are about rivalries between arabs and the sharm al shaykh summit is to clean the hands of western politicians. that is the problem.

one thing that this discussion ignored, however, which most people discussing palestine all too often ignore is that, yes, of course, what we’re looking at is a 3 state solution. that has been true for a long time now. but that 3rd state is not the illegitimate zionist regime; rather, it is the palestinians in 1948 palestine who are always absent. whose voices are far to rarely listened to. who always feel left out of discussions, sold out equally by the palestinian authority, by the united nations, by the west, and by the zionist regime. when abdul hadi, later in the program, talks about how the israeli terrorist regime is crushing palestinian national leadership and pride in the west bank and gaza, he doesn’t mention how this is working in 1948 palestine. i would have loved to see jonathan cook or someone from adalah or the arab human rights association speak to represent this community, especially given its tremendous support for palestinians in gaza throughout the last few weeks and especially because if we want true liberation of palestine they must be included and must be participants in that struggle. i feel like the way they get left out so often is akin to the way in which indians are left out of discussions of south africa which often gets reduced to a black-white issue and it’s not. here, for instance, is what palestinians in 1948 are experiencing as a result of their public support and solidarity with palestinians in gaza:

According to Israeli police reports, at least 763 Israeli citizens, the majority of them Palestinian and 244 under 18 years old, have been arrested, imprisoned or detained for participating in such demonstrations. Most have been held and then released, but at least 30 of those arrested over the past three weeks are still being held in prison.

Ameer Makhoul, director of Ittijah, the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations in Haifa, tells IPS that these demonstrations “are part of the uprising here inside the Green Line, to share responsibility and to share the challenge with the people in the Gaza strip.”

As an organiser of many of these solidarity demonstrations inside Israel, Makhoul himself was arrested by the Shin Bet (the Israeli secret service). “They called me, came to my home and held me for four hours,” he tells IPS. “They accused me of being a terrorist and supporting terror. They said that they are watching me and monitoring me.” Israel, he said, “has become a terror state.”

The Shin Bet has accused Makhoul and the hundreds of others arrested of “being a rebel, threatening the security of the State of Israel during war time.”

Makhoul believes that such threats are being implemented by Israel’s security forces “(in order to) break our will and the spirit of our people. But I think our spirit is much, much stronger here in Haifa and in Gaza than the Israeli oppression.”

i also wonder why all the news media and analysts and these conferences continue to talk about mahmoud abbas as if he is still president. his term expired on january 9th and yet the world still treats this normalizer as if he’s president. ma’an news, of course, acknowledges that he is citizen abbas not president abbas any longer. i think the only place that gave this any note was angry arab on the day his term expired. and then again two days later noting how the western regimes still accept abbas as president without noting his expiration date. i wonder if this will be true tomorrow: perhaps these same countries will go on thinking bush is still president of the u.s. too? apparently, abbas is still trying to form some sort of a unity government. as if he can breathe new life into his failed “leadership” of normalization with israeli terrorists, which of course only lead to more massacres, more confiscation of land, more checkpoints, more dispossession. and ban ki-moon proving that he is ever the tool of the west wants to help bolster abbas. i refer you to fisk’s comments on “inside story” as to the impossibility of “enhancing” abbas. but i also refer you to fisk’s recent op-ed in the independent making some of the same points, but importantly also sarcastically chastising ban:

And history was quite forgotten. The Hamas rockets were the result of the food and fuel siege; Israel broke Hamas’s own truce on 4 and 17 November. Forgotten is the fact Hamas won the 2006 elections, although Israel has killed a clutch of the victors.

And there’ll be little time for the peacemakers of Sharm el-Sheikh to reflect on the three UN schools targeted by the Israelis and the slaughter of the civilians inside. Poor old Ban Ki-moon. He tried to make his voice heard just before the ceasefire, saying Israel’s troops had acted “outrageously” and should be “punished” for the third school killing. Some hope. At a Beirut press conference, he admitted he had failed to get a call through to Israel’s Foreign Minister to complain.

It was pathetic. When I asked Mr Ban if he would consider a UN war crimes tribunal in Gaza, he said this would not be for him to “determine”. But only a few journalists bothered to listen to him and his officials were quickly folding up the UN flag on the table. About time too. Bring back the League of Nations. All is forgiven.

What no one noticed yesterday – not the Arabs nor the Israelis nor the portentous men from Europe – was that the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting last night was opening on the 90th anniversary – to the day – of the opening of the 1919 Paris peace conference which created the modern Middle East. One of its main topics was “the borders of Palestine”. There followed the Versailles Treaty. And we know what happened then. The rest really is history. Bring on the ghosts.

the other thing that i think is important in this discussion is the remarks both fisk and abdul hadi made in relation to the fact that people, generally, seem to continue to look to palestinians as a charity case rather than a group of people whose liberation movement needs sustenance. king abudullah of saudi arabia is but one example who speaks meaninglessly about palestinians, who has blood on his hands because he stands by in collusion with israeli terrorists and yet thinks his millions will repair the damage. of course i also donate both time and money, but i have to say that i find it a form of dehumanization that palestinians are looked at in this manner. by far too many people and by far too many regimes. all these disgusting leaders who DID NOTHING for 22 days and yet now they want to donate. it was the same with lebanon. they stood by in their complicit silence during the bombing and then wanted to pour money into lebanon. the people of south lebanon and the people of gaza do not want your crocodile tears nor your charity i guarantee you. they want your support for justice, as fisk says, and what that means is the liberation of palestine, and their right of return home. instead, what we are getting is more israeli terrorist control over rebuilding efforts as well with the approval of the the west and the arab regimes in the region all of whom continue to submit to the will of israeli terrorism.

i think it is worth thinking about some of that history from 1919 to the league of nations and the british mandate, and how it played out vis-a-vis the analysis of historian rashid khalidi. for as the europeans carved up the region leaving with it the scars of various states of colonialism, including in most places that are no longer directly controlled by the british or the french, forms of neocolonialism and internalized colonialism, they sowed the seeds of eternal dispossession and injustice. here is what khalidi says about how the mandate emerged and played out by foreign colonial powers in his book the iron cage: the story of the palestinian struggle for statehood (note: the emphasis is mine):

The Mandate for Palestine included the entire text of the Balfour Declaration, named for the British foreign secretary, Arthur James Balfour, notably its provisions relating to the establishment in Palestine of a “national home” for the Jewish people. It included six articles (2, 4, 6, 7, 11, and 22) relating to the obligations of the mandatory power to foster and support this endeavor. In both documents, the Palestinians were never once cited by name, whether as Palestinians or as Arabs, and were referred to only as “non-Jewish communities,” possessing solely civil and religious rights; their national and political rights were mentioned in neither. By contrast, national rights were ascribed to the “Jewish people,” and the League of Nations Mandate made it a solemn responsibility of Great Britain to help the Jews create national institutions. The mandatory power was specifically called upon to extend all possible assistance to the growth and development of this national entity, notably by encouraging Jewish immigration and “close settlement on the land.” The tiny Jewish community of Palestine, composing about 10 percent of the country’s population at the time, was thereby placed in a distinctly privileged position. By contrast, the Arab majority, constituting 90 percent of Palestine’s population, was effectively ignored as a national or political entity. While the Mandate’s twenty-eight articles included nine on antiquities, not one related to the Palestinian people per se: they were variously and vaguely defined as a “section of the population,” “natives,” or “peoples and communities.” As far as Great Britian and the League of Nations were concerned, they were definitely not a people.

In consequence of the imposition of this peculiar constitutional structure, the Palestinian people and their leaders faced a cruel dilemma throughout the Mandate period. Starting soon after the British occupation, they repeatedly pressed Great Britain to grant them national rights, notably self-determination, and the political rights, notably representative government, they justifiably considered were their due. They claimed these rights on the basis of the American president Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, Article 4 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, Allied promises to support Arab independence during World War I, and their natural rights as a people. Each time they did so, however, they were told that they were obliged to accept the terms of the Mandate as a pre-condition for any change in their constitutional position. But these terms denied Palestinians any of these rights, or at best subordinated them completely to the national rights of the Jewish people. Acceptance of the Mandate by the Palestinians would thus have meant their recognition of the privileged national rights of the Jewish community in what they saw as their own country, and formal acceptance of their own legally subordinate position, indeed of their nonexistence as a people. (32-33)

you can see the roots of apartheid from beginning in this history: from the mandate era a jewish minority took control over the land, over the indigenous population. this history speaks to abdul hadi’s comments of specters of the past not only from 1948, but from 1919, 1920 and on down the line. it also demonstrates britain’s continuing hand in this matter. this is why i keep saying that i find it so difficult to watch everyone spinning their wheels, to watch history repeating itself again and again–each time the only difference is that the situation gets worse for palestinians.

for more recent lessons of history i refer you to the blog pulse, which has a really important documentary about the 6 day war in 1967 with an historical corrective in the video it posts, but here is what they say by way of introducing the film clips:

These excellent Dutch videos are an important historical corrective to one of the widely propagated founding myths of the state of Israel, that in 1967 its Six Day wars, which saw Israeli theft and occupation of Palestinian territory, were defensive. These eyewitness accounts and testimonies puts paid to the canard of an ‘existential threat’ that the Israeli political establishment continues to claim — rather, right from the start, the reverse has been true.

A Dutch UN observer in 1966-67, Jan Muhren, describes how he witnessed how Israel provoked their Arab neighbours in the run-up to the Six-Day War on Dutch Nova TV (clips below). The former UN observer in Gaza and the West Bank has said Israel was not under siege by Arab countries preceding the Six-Day War, and that Israel provoked most border incidents, which Muhren surmises was part of its strategy to annex more land.

As the second clip shows, Moshe Dayan admitted as much to Israeli journalist Rami Tal, in an interview only released after Dayan’s death. Dayan corroborates Muhren’s eyewitness accounts that over 80% of the border incidents were Israeli provocations.

meanwhile as the world continues to play with the puppets in the region and with the people’s lives on the ground in egypt, kuwait, qatar, palestinians still have the gruesome task of searching for their loved ones beneath the rubble in gaza. as a result the death toll continues to rise:

Medical sources in the Gaza Strip told Ma’an on Monday that three Palestinians died from wounds obtained during the three-week offensive.

They were being treated at Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

Ambulance crews also uncovered at least 12 corpses of Palestinians killed in the fighting, many of whom may have bled to death awaiting medical care.

Another 50 injured Palestinians were transferred to hospitals in Egypt through the Rafah border, according to the de facto Health Ministry’s Dr Mo’awyeh Hasanein, who directs the Ambulance and Emergency Care Department.

Paramedics found some 100 bodies under the rubble of collapsed buildings and homes on Sunday, when Israeli forces began their withdrawal.

Inhabitants continued to return to their homes on Monday, surveying the damage and examining the rubble for recoverable belongings.

According to the latest statistics from medical sources in the Strip, at least 1,315 Palestinians were killed during the three-week assault on Gaza, while about 5,500 were wounded. Medical officials say a majority of the injured are women and children, and that almost all are civilians.

importantly, contrary to opinions i hear in jordan, palestinians in gaza do not blame hamas. this is true with people i know there, who i speak to on the phone and who i talked to regularly throughout this bloody massacre–friends, mind you, who tend to not be affiliated with any particular political party, but who rightly see this as a reminder of the need for unity and the need to see this as one resistance, one nation, especially because this is a war against all palestinians in gaza:

Initial estimates state that 15 percent or 20,000 of the Gaza Strip’s buildings have been damaged, with nearly 30,000 Palestinians forced to find shelter in UN Relief and Welfare Agency (UNRWA) shelters and with family.

Nearly 1,300 Gazans lost their lives, around a third of these children, with a total of more than half of the deaths civilian. The number of injured is pushing 4,000.

“People are extremely angry and the level of hate against Israel is very high. I have lived and worked in Gaza for many years and I have never seen such hatred from the population,” said Qleibo.

Gazans are not blaming Hamas, contrary to Israel’s wishes. “People laugh at Israel’s claims that this was a war against the Islamic resistance organisation and not one aimed at civilians.

“They see this as a war against all Palestinians. The number of civilians killed and maimed and the destruction wrought was way too extreme,” said Qleibo.

in response to this massacre in gaza people continue to respond with boycott, divestment and sanction ACTIONS as opposed to the empty words of political leaders around the world. the latest is from bahrain:

Sixteen Bahraini political organizations have formed an alliance to implement a series of activities and promote initiatives to defend the cause of the Palestinians. It is expected that one of the objectives of the joint effort will be the reopening of the Israel-boycott office, that had been closed by the government in 2005 as a requirement for the signing of a free trade agreement with the United States. During the 23 days of the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip a growing number of parliamentarians already called for a revision of the government’s decision in 2005.

Furthermore, the sixteen Bahraini organizations plan to set up a national plan of action spearheading calls for rallies and holding seminars and conferences to debate Palestine-related issues and mobilize Bahraini citizens and expatriates to express their solidarity with Palestinians in various forms and through a series of events. The plan was announced by Ali Ahmad, a parliamentarian for the Islamic Menbar, who hosted the meeting of the sixteen organizations. He was seconded by Ibrahim Kamal al-Deen, chairman of the left-wing Waad society, who announced: “We will send a letter to King Hamad Bin Eisa al-Khalifa to convey the popular view that we are against any step towards the normalisation of ties with the Zionist entity and against any contact with its people and institutions. We will also plead for the reopening of the Boycott office and for an end to the move to launch a regional forum that includes the Zionists”. The sixteen organizations released a joint statement in which they called upon all Arab and Islamic states to “assume their responsibilities and sever all forms of relations with the Zionists”, adding “the least they can do as a result of this genocide is to recall their diplomats to protest at the crimes perpetrated by the Zionists against the helpless people in Gaza”.

and rania masri and i have a new version of our call to american academics to boycott the zionist regime on electronic intifada. here is a reminder of our main demand:

We urge our fellow academics to not only support this statement in theory, but also in practice by pushing for academic boycott on your campuses. Supporting the human rights of Palestinians is not anti-Semitic; it is about human rights: Palestinian human rights. If this were any other captive population besieged for nineteen days with US-made materiel, we would be outraged and acting. So we are asking you to act now. It is our tax dollars at work that enables this massacre to take place. Let us make apartheid, in all its forms, only present in history books.

some american academics are building momentum, though not necessarily with respect to boycott because most of them still continue to value israeli speech over palestinian lives. and in lebanon rania continues to seek signatures for the lebanese call not only to boycott but to enforce anti-normalization laws against those lebanese professors who choose to normalize with israeli terrorist professors whose institutions and whose scholarship produces the knowledge necessary to continue to create their bloodbath:

We thus stand, as academics in Lebanon, in urging our colleagues, regionally and internationally, to oppose this ongoing scholasticide and to support the just demand for academic boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. Specifically, we ask our colleagues worldwide to support the call by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel to comprehensively and consistently boycott and disinvest from all Israeli academic and cultural institutions, and to refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joining projects with Israeli institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of apartheid.

We further call on the enforcement of Lebanese anti-normalization laws with Israel, and thus for the prosecution of individuals and institutions in Lebanon that violate those laws and conduct collaborations, associations or investments in Israel or with Israelis.

please click on the link above if you are a professor in lebanon and you want to sign the petition.

analogizing gaza; or, what’s in a name?

palestinians_mocking_peace_mr_fish

quiqui is on a roll today on kabobfest. first she asks us: when it will be time for us all to overthrow our governments? then she asks us, sarcastically, how’s that “ceasefire” is working out given the fact that more palestinians were murdered by israeli terrorists today. she cites this story from ma’an news:

A Gazan farmer is dead and his son injured by Israeli fire less than ten hours after Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire in the Gaza Strip Sunday morning, medical sources confirmed.

The farmer was identified as 24-year-old Abd As-Samad Abu Rejlieh, who was shot as he went out to his lands to inspect the damage from the 22-day Israeli incursion.

Israeli fire also hit a mother and her daughter in their home in the northern Strip town of Beit Hanoun, both were injured.

Since the ceasefire went into effect at 2am Sunday morning, one is dead and several injured. Medical crews continue to dig bodies out of Gaza rubble.

this so-called “ceasefire” is bringing with it some dangerous dimensions such as further collusion between american and israeli terrorists in the form of american soldiers (as if we didn’t have enough to deal with in the form of american jews who are illegal colonists and soldiers at checkpoints all over the west bank):

Just before Saturday’s decision by Israeli officials to declare a ‘ceasefire’ in Gaza, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni received a signed assurance from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the US government would provide security and intelligence personnel to assist the Israeli military in its ongoing military occupation of all Palestinian land.

and gordon brown signed a similar agreement after speaking with a forked tongue–at once criticizing livni for her terrorist targeting of civilians in gaza and at the same time offering her even greater military support to continue her terrorist project:

In a statement Sunday by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister criticized Israel for targeting civilians in a ground and air assault that has left over 1200 dead in 3 weeks. But at the same time, officials in the British government were busy signing agreements with the Israeli military that would commit British intelligence and security resources to supporting the Israeli occupation of Gaza.

the cynic in me wonders if brown’s collusion is related to the natural gas resources recently discovered in gaza:

The military invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israeli Forces bears a direct relation to the control and ownership of strategic offshore gas reserves.

This is a war of conquest. Discovered in 2000, there are extensive gas reserves off the Gaza coastline.

British Gas (BG Group) and its partner, the Athens based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC) owned by Lebanon’s Sabbagh and Koury families, were granted oil and gas exploration rights in a 25 year agreement signed in November 1999 with the Palestinian Authority.

The rights to the offshore gas field are respectively British Gas (60 percent); Consolidated Contractors (CCC) (30 percent); and the Investment Fund of the Palestinian Authority (10 percent). (Haaretz, October 21, 2007).

The PA-BG-CCC agreement includes field development and the construction of a gas pipeline.(Middle East Economic Digest, Jan 5, 2001).

The BG licence covers the entire Gazan offshore marine area, which is contiguous to several Israeli offshore gas facilities. (See Map below). It should be noted that 60 percent of the gas reserves along the Gaza-Israel coastline belong to Palestine.

The BG Group drilled two wells in 2000: Gaza Marine-1 and Gaza Marine-2. Reserves are estimated by British Gas to be of the order of 1.4 trillion cubic feet, valued at approximately 4 billion dollars. These are the figures made public by British Gas. The size of Palestine’s gas reserves could be much larger.

and of course the israeli terrorists have not yet left gaza and who knows what their plans are since no “ceasefire” was negotiated between parties, nothing has been written down. but there are israeli colonist terrorists making their own plans in relation to this gaza occupation:

More than three years after being forcibly expelled from their homes, a group of former Gush Katif residents is demanding that the Israeli government allow them to return.

we’ll see how long this so-called “ceasefire” lasts. in any case it has enabled palestinians in gaza to return home and see the damage and pull out the bodies. here are some al jazeera reports showing people beginning to assess the damage. first imran khan reports from zeitoun:

sherine tadros went to the samouni house, the site of the massive massacre of the samouni family; she met the few surviving members of the family in the hospital and now she went to the site of the bombing where israeli terrorist tanks were still encircling the area and terrorizing the people:

as you can see in tadros’ report the bodies are still being pulled out of the rubble and so far today 95 new martyrs have been recovered from the rubble:

Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported on Sunday that medics and residents located the bodies of 95 Palestinians who were killed during the Israeli offensive and their bodies were buried under the rubble of shelled homes and facilities.

The sources added that 1305 Palestinians have been killed in the offensive and more than 5450 were wounded. Among the killed residents were 417 children, 108 women, 120 elderly, 14 medics, 4 reporters and five internationals.

eva barlett describes what it was like to go out and to assess the damage and destruction today:

Today was the first day that medics and journalists were able to reach areas occupied by the invading Israeli troops. Palestinians by this point, by weeks ago, were desperate for any semblance of a normal life, though normality here is far from normality anywhere else. They were desperate to return to their homes, survey the damage and if possible repair it, find displaced family members, or their corpses, as well as neighbours, friends.

Not everyone returned home to stay; many could be seen returning to where their homes were, or had stood, to retrieve anything worthwhile. Donkey carts and taxis were piled with blankets, clothes, cooking pots, cupboards, pieces of furniture, people…

I went straight to Ezbat Abed Rabbo, the area east of Jabaliya which had been cut off since day 1 of the ground invasion, over 2 weeks ago. The Red Crescent had been receiving calls to evacuate the injured and dead since day 1, and were prevented, at gunpoint, by gunfire, from reaching those needing evacuation. We heard the cries of those who managed to escape, their stories of being locked in homes at gunpoint, losing family members to point-blank assassinations or house-bombings.

And although the area was crammed with troubled, panicked, residents, many of them injured, without water, without food, with homes occupied by Israeli soldiers, I worried particularly about one man: the father of my friends.

We had no idea if he was alive, though we knew he’d stayed in the area. My panic was great, daily, I felt like I had said goodbye to a grandfather.

I bee-lined for his house, though had a hard time doing it since the streets and the land were turned upside-down, torn apart, filled with carcasses of houses and animals.

He was there, miraculously, noble in his traditional gown, long beard, hat. But he looked shattered.

“He cried for us,” his son told me. “He didn’t know if we were alive or dead.” So the confusion and desperation was both ways. Utterly cut off from one another, we were but mirror examples of families and loved ones all over the Gaza Strip. And we were luckier, because we are all alive. Except his wife, my friend’s mother, who was killed on the very first day of attacks. But now everything is relative and we cling desperately to the positive, for its all there is to cling to.

I have so much to tell, so many photos that don’t do justice to the suffering, heart-break, trauma, psychological damage, and despondency of people here. So many smells ingrained in my memory, that when sniffed will bring images of dead children, burned houses, chemical fires.

Slamming doors will forever remind of the missiles slamming the earth, the life below.

And just visiting the few areas I saw today, so many people, so desperate to tell their stories, tell of their anguish. For some the anguish is immense: pulverized homes, killed family members, corpses unretrieved, sanctimony and all that is sacred defiled. For others, the suffering is in the tragedy of shattered dreams, of every personal item destroyed or lost. It all matters, and they were all desperate to tell me. And I to listen. But quickly their words became a blur, a swirl of agony. My basic Arabic began to fail me as I wrote their ailments, their losses.

I will go back, to take careful inventory of the destruction, physical and emotional. Many of those who returned to where their homes were have to return to overcrowded schools with memories of slaughters even within school premises.

While the bombs may have stopped, for now, the terror remains. F-16s still flew low, terrifyingly low, today, so loud, so unpredictable. No one here has any reason to believe any words Israeli leaders proclaim. Only reason to believe in the worst. But out of necessity, we must hope for the best.

there are many photographs and there is film footage on eva’s website, which document the unreal devastation. it gives you a sense of precisely why people will continue to feel terrorized regardless of whether or not israeli terrorists are physically present inside gaza or whether they merely are controlling the air, land, and sea borders.

there have been a number of writers thinking about the relationship between this latest massacre in gaza in relation to the holocaust in nazi germany. and this is one of many holocausts or nakbas or massacres or genocides–pick your strong word of choice–over the course of sixty one years of israeli colonialist terrorist history. there are many who warn against such labels because of the historical or legal inaccuracy of such analogies as robert fisk does in his op ed this week, though he does make an interesting comparison in relation to international criminal courts or war crimes tribunals and gaza:

I should add that I had a sneaking sympathy for the Syrian foreign minister who this week asked why a whole international tribunal has been set up in the Hague to investigate the murder of one man – Lebanese ex-prime minister Rafiq Hariri – while no such tribunal is set up to investigate the deaths of more than 1,000 Palestinians.

nevertheless a number of blogs have published a photo essay this week asking readers to think about the visual parallels between the warsaw ghetto or nazi germany and palestine. i am only posting one photograph from each category so i encourage those interested in seeing the rest to click on the link.

arrests4

checkpoints3

civilizedchildre12

destroyinghomes2

walls1

westernpropaganda2

british labor minister, sir gerald kaufman, whose family survived the holocaust, found it important to make this analogy–between the holocaust and the massacres in gaza. and i don’t think that doing so is to make some sort of historically inaccurate claim. what kaufman is saying, for instance, is that the behavior we are witnessing is like nazi behavior.

My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza. The current Israeli Government ruthlessly and cynically exploit the continuing guilt among gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians. The implication is that Jewish lives are precious, but the lives of Palestinians do not count.

On Sky News a few days ago, the spokeswoman for the Israeli army, Major Leibovich, was asked about the Israeli killing of, at that time, 800 Palestinians — the total is now 1,000. She replied instantly that “500 of them were militants.”

That was the reply of a Nazi. I suppose that the Jews fighting for their lives in the Warsaw ghetto could have been dismissed as militants.

The Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni asserts that her Government will have no dealings with Hamas, because they are terrorists. Tzipi Livni’s father was Eitan Livni, chief operations officer of the terrorist Irgun Zvai Leumi, who organised the blowing-up of the King David hotel in Jerusalem, in which 91 victims were killed, including four Jews.

Israel was born out of Jewish terrorism. Jewish terrorists hanged two British sergeants and booby-trapped their corpses. Irgun, together with the terrorist Stern gang, massacred 254 Palestinians in 1948 in the village of Deir Yassin. Today, the current Israeli Government indicate that they would be willing, in circumstances acceptable to them, to negotiate with the Palestinian President Abbas of Fatah. It is too late for that. They could have negotiated with Fatah’s previous leader, Yasser Arafat, who was a friend of mine. Instead, they besieged him in a bunker in Ramallah, where I visited him. Because of the failings of Fatah since Arafat’s death, Hamas won the Palestinian election in 2006. Hamas is a deeply nasty organisation, but it was democratically elected, and it is the only game in town. The boycotting of Hamas, including by our Government, has been a culpable error, from which dreadful consequences have followed.

the blog pulse posted this video of sam husseini questioning tzipi livni in washington dc and added this analysis and film footage from the real news:

The times they are a-changing! Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni called a ‘terrorist’ at the National Press Club. And then the brilliant Sam Husseini steps in to raise the the all important question (which I have raised on several occasions here) that if the alleged blockade of the Gulf of Tiran by Nasser in ‘67 was sufficient casus belli for an Israeli assault on Egypt, then why isn’t the Israeli blockade of Gaza sufficient pretext for Hamas rockets?

This is unprecedented: Israelis have hitherto received a free ride from all of the US (and most of UK) media. Likewise, the moderators here appeared happy enough to let Livni bloviate until things started getting unruly. How did the NPC uphold its commitment to free speech? By cutting their mics.

and of course the word nakba is used again and again and again by palestinians who continue to experience nakba after nakba. here is the latest evidence of a new gaza nakba:

tents-in-egypt

Under cover of announcing humanitarian relief for injured Palestinians, it is now emerging that Israel is planning the transfer of tens of thousands of Palestinians from Gaza into Egypt.

Evidence of the Israeli transfer plan has been sent to London based Islington Friends of Yibna** [IFY]. Earlier today, Sat 17 Jan 09, IFY received a photo of tents [see attached] outside the main hospital in Egyptian Rafah, near the border with Gaza.

The white tents with no markings are being erected by the Egyptian Army, starting last night, Fri 16 Jan 09. The photo was taken this morning [Sat 17 January 09]. The soldiers stated that 5,000 tents were planned for refugees from Gaza.

Further information is available from our contacts in the Egyptian side of Rafah [Rafah was divided by Israel after it occupied Gaza and Sinai in 1967; Israel divided Rafah when Sinai was returned to Egypt].

From our contacts in Yibna Refugee Camp in Gaza we have learnt that, in the north east of Rafah, near the Egyptian border, Israeli tanks have surrounded and sealed off the Al Sarayh neighbourhood, for more than the last 48 hours. There are many injured people trapped there, the Israelis are not allowing access for the Red Cross and many people are dying of their wounds, isolated and with no medical treatment.

We have grave concerns that Israel will target the Al Sarayh neighbourhood to be the first to be transferred and that this might be within the next 24h.

one reason for the use of particular words or to create certain analogies is to shake people up–to wake them up enough to do something. to get them to see that regardless of the differences there is a tremendous human travesty, a massacre upon massacre upon 61 years of ethnic cleansing. john pilger had an interesting article on the subject of diction and also the silence among many of those who dare not to speak out:

Dr. Dahlia Wasfi is an American writer on Palestine. She has a Jewish mother and an Iraqi Muslim father. “Holocaust denial is anti-Semitic,” she wrote on 31 December. “But I’m not talking about World War Two, Mahmoud Ahmedinijad (the president of Iran) or Ashkenazi Jews. What I’m referring to is the holocaust we are all witnessing and responsible for in Gaza today and in Palestine over the past 60 years … Since Arabs are Semites, US-Israeli policy doesn’t get more anti-Semitic than this.” She quoted Rachel Corrie, the young American who went to Palestine to defend Palestinians and was crushed by an Israeli bulldozer. “I am in the midst of a genocide,” wrote Corrie, “which I am also indirectly supporting and for which my government is largely responsible.”

Reading the words of both, I am struck by the use of “responsibility.” Breaking the lie of silence is not an esoteric abstraction but an urgent responsibility that falls to those with the privilege of a platform. With the BBC cowed, so too is much of journalism, merely allowing vigorous debate within unmovable invisible boundaries, ever fearful of the smear of anti-Semitism. The unreported news, meanwhile, is that the death toll in Gaza is the equivalent of 18,000 dead in Britain. Imagine, if you can.

Then there are the academics, the deans and teachers and researchers. Why are they silent as they watch a university bombed and hear the Association of University Teachers in Gaza plea for help? Are British universities now, as Terry Eagleton believes, no more than “intellectual Tescos, churning out a commodity known as graduates rather than greengroceries”?

Then there are the writers. In the dark year of 1939, the Third Writers’ Congress was held at Carnegie Hall in New York and the likes of Thomas Mann and Albert Einstein sent messages and spoke up to ensure the lie of silence was broken. By one account, 3,500 jammed the auditorium and a thousand were turned away. Today, this mighty voice of realism and morality is said to be obsolete; the literary review pages affect an ironic hauteur of irrelevance; false symbolism is all. As for the readers, their moral and political imagination is to be pacified, not primed. The anti-Muslim Martin Amis expressed this well in Visiting Mrs. Nabokov: “The dominance of the self is not a flaw, it is an evolutionary characteristic; it is just how things are.”

i am thankful every time i read a piece chastizing academics for their silence, and thus complicity, in this gaza massacre that will continue now regardless, albeit it will just look different. it will be less visible. but there was yet another final blow today from the israeli terrorists and i bet you very few academics–or anyone else for that matter–will be outraged by this:

PACBI learned today from its Steering Committee member, Dr. Haidar Eid, that the headquarters of the University Teachers Association-Palestine, in Gaza, was bombed by the Israeli occupation forces during their indiscriminate, willful destruction campaign in the Tal el-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City on Friday.

This latest wanton attack on an academic organization is far from being an exception. It is only the latest episode in what Oxford University academic Karma Nabulsi has termed “scholasticide,” or Israel’s systematic and intentional destruction of Palestinian education centers. In its current war on Gaza alone, Israel has bombed the ministry of education, the Islamic University of Gaza, and tens of schools, including at least 4 UNRWA schools, after having largely destroyed the infrastructure of teaching throughout the year and a half of its illegal and criminal siege of the densely populated Gaza Strip.

The UTA headquarters is a detached two-story building that is clearly marked with the Association’s name. The bombed structure, which now stands without a roof, has sustained heavy structural damage and may be in danger of collapsing any time.

but a few are speaking out publicly. here are some israeli academics who i will refrain from calling terrorists as they are calling for bds:

The leaders of the western world are wringing their hands in despair at the sight of the horrors inflicted on Gaza (Gaza crisis, 16 January). The UN general secretary, the French president and others are holding intensive discussions with some of the leaders of the Middle East in an attempt to put an end to the carnage in Gaza. Word, words, words.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinian civilians get killed, thousands are bleeding to death, tens of thousands are uprooted and wandering in vain in search of some shelter to protect them. The Israeli army bombs hospitals and Unrwa relief centres, and, defying international convention, it uses white phosphorus bombs against civilians. “What else can we do?” these leaders keep asking. Well, here is what you can do: move from words to deeds. Only immediate, decisive and strict sanctions against the state of Israel and its limitless aggression will make it realise that there’s a limit.

We, as Israeli citizens, raise our voices to call on EU leaders: use sanctions against Israel’s brutal policies and join the active protests of Bolivia and Venezuela. We appeal to the citizens of Europe: please attend to the Palestinian Human Rights Organisation’s call, supported by more than 540 Israeli citizens (www.freegaza.org/en/home/): boycott Israeli goods and Israeli institutions; follow resolutions such as those made by the cities of Athens, Birmingham and Cambridge (US). This is the only road left. Help us all, please!

omar says the list of signatories is longer than what appeared in the above guardian article. here is a full list of their names:

Signatories (provided by authors — only partial list appeared in the Guardian)

Gish Amit
Adv. Abeer Baker
Iris Bar
Yoram Bar Haim
Prof. Daphna Carmeli (Haifa University)
Prof. Yoram Carmeli (Haifa University)
Keren Dotan
Ronit Dovrat
Dr. Judith Druks (City University, London)
Rona Even
Dr. Ovadia Ezra (Tel Aviv University)
Prof. Rachel Giora (Tel Aviv University)
Neta Golan
Tamar Goldschmidt
Adar Grayevsky
Dalia Hager
Haim Hanegbi
Rosamine Hayeem
Ala Hlehel
Aya Kaniuk
Lana Khaskia
Prof. Vered Kraus (Haifa University)
Yael Lerer
Dr. Aim Deuel Luski (Tel Aviv University)
Eilat Maoz
Moshe Machover
Prof. Charles Manekin (University of Maryland)
Dr. Ruchama Marton
Dr. Anat Matar (Tel Aviv University)
Rela Mazali
Prof. Yitzhak Y. Melamed (John Hopkins University)
Dorothy Naor
Dr. David Nir
Annie Ohayon
Noam Paiola
Michal Peer
Sigal Perelman
Amit Perelson
Jonathan Pollak
Prof. Yehuda Shenhav (Tel Aviv University)
Dr. Kobi Snitz (Technion – Israel Institute of Technology)
Ruth Tenne
Adv. Lea Tsemel
Michael Varshavsky
Oded Wolkstein
Sergio Yahni

and other good news: bolivia is taking the lead in the criminal court process:

Bolivia is seeking to take Tel Aviv to International Criminal Court over the brutal atrocities the Israeli forces have committed in Gaza.

The Andean state says it is intended to make regional allies take a unified stance against “the Israeli political and military leaders responsible for the offensive on the Gaza Strip” and make it to stand trial at the international body in the Hague, said Sacha Llorenti, whose portfolio covers civil society.

Moves to begin the legal process will begin “probably next week,” Bolivia’s deputy justice and human rights minister Wilfredo Chavez told journalists during the visit to Geneva, AFP reported on Friday.

and similar bds progress is being made in new zealand:

“The New Zealand Government must do all it can to stop the inhumane bombing of Gaza by the Israeli Government” CTU President Helen Kelly said today.

In response to calls for support from the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions and the International Trade Union Confederation, the NZCTU is calling on the New Zealand Government to take a number of practical actions including:
• Revoking the credentials of the Israeli Ambassador to New Zealand.
• Cutting contacts with Israeli military and intelligence officials outside of official UN sponsored peacekeeping or observer liaison.
• Ensuring that New Zealand does not import goods manufactured, in whole or in part, in the Occupied Territories.
• Ensuring that the New Zealand government does not make use of Israeli products or services in its procurement provisions.
• Taking steps to ensure that New Zealand sourced goods and services are not used by Israel to further its occupation of Palestinian lands.
• Ending the ‘Working Holiday Scheme’ for young Israelis.
• Attending meetings specific to, and advocate within, international organisations for the rights of the Palestinian people.
“These actions are similar to those taken by the Government in relation to Fiji and are an appropriate and proportionate response to the totally disproportionate actions of Israel against the people of Gaza” Helen Kelly said.

and kudos to qatar for taking steps towards anti-normalization with the zionist state. may other arab countries follow its lead:

Qatar has closed Israel’s trade office in the small Gulf Arab state and ordered its staff to leave because of the Israeli offensive on Gaza.

The Qatar News Agency says the head of the Israeli trade office was summoned Sunday morning and given a memorandum containing the decision to close the office, according to the Foreign Ministry.

now we just need people to build these actions against normalization with the zionist entity and do the same with the u.s. which is equally complicit in all of these war crimes:

According to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, between 2004 and 2007 the U.S. Defense Department gave $818 million worth of fuel to the Israeli military. The total amount was 479 million gallons, the equivalent of about 66 gallons per Israeli citizen. In 2008, an additional $280 million in fuel was given to the Israeli military, again at U.S. taxpayers’ expense. The U.S. has even paid the cost of shipping the fuel from U.S. refineries to ports in Israel.

In 2008, the fuel shipped to Israel from U.S. refineries accounted for 2 percent of Israel’s $13.3 billion defense budget. Publicly available data shows that about 2 percent of the U.S. Defense Department’s budget is also spent on oil. A senior analyst at the Pentagon, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press, says the Israel Defense Force’s fuel use is most likely similar to that of the U.S. Defense Department. In other words, the Israeli military is spending about the same percentage of its defense budget on oil as the U.S. is. Therefore it’s possible that the U.S. is providing most, or perhaps even all, of the Israeli military’s fuel needs.

What’s more, Israel does not need the U.S. handout. Its own recently privatized refineries, located at Haifa and Ashdod, could supply all of the fuel needed by the Israeli military. Those same refineries are now producing and selling jet fuel and other refined products on the open market. But rather than purchase lower-cost jet fuel from its own refineries, the Israeli military is using U.S. taxpayer money to buy and ship large quantities of fuel from U.S. refineries.

gaza’s genocide / israel’s suicide

Abdellah Derkaoui
Abdellah Derkaoui

i do not know why i continue to be shocked by what i see and read, but i do. i decided i am sick of every mofo leader on the planet who quietly–or perhaps on rare occasion even loudly–expresses their “concern” with the evil slaughter of palestinians in gaza by israeli terrorists. i am also so sick of seeing motherf(*&^%@ like bani ki-moon who quietly expresses his “outrage” at israeli terrorists all the while smiling on camera, laughing on camera as hospitals with the wounded inside are bombed. as far as i am concerned ban ki-moon as blood on his hands too. the un security council resolutions are binding; he could have done something, but he chooses to do nothing. or gordon brown saying that it is “indefensible” while he does nothing to stop it. where is his airforce? i’m sick of these world leaders flying around the planet to discuss a ceasefire. i’m sick of no other country, no other airforce coming to the defense of palestinians. where is libya? don’t they have an airforce? can’t they bomb the zionist state back to the stone age? iran? someone? these people make false claims of concern–false because they do NOTHING–and meanwhile the people suffer, especially children.

ban ki-moon laughing over the genocide committed by ehud olmert
ban ki-moon laughing over the genocide committed by ehud olmert

here are some of the children whose suffering is at the expense of the collusion of the united nations and israeli terrorists.

and listen to what a lame-ass, weak, motherf(*&^%$ head of the united nations, ban, said in response to this genocidal spree of israeli terrorism:

in spite of this suffering, i never cease to be amazed, in awe, and in complete support of palestinian resistance in gaza. that they are able to stay steadfast. that they are able to survive and continue to fight amidst the unabated bombardment. this in spite of the 1,133 dead and the 5,200 injured, the latest figures from ayman mohyeldin on a twitter update. but the bodies still haven’t been pulled out from the rubble yet.

yesterday was a new low–just when you think israeli terrorists can go no lower–in their attacks on the unrwa building, where people had gathered together seeking shelter from the bombing, their attacks on hospitals–yet another one since my post yesterday morning:

Israeli snipers opened fire on families running to take shelter in a Red Crescent hospital in the Tel Al-Hawa area of Gaza on Thursday afternoon, witnesses said.

Sharon Locke, an Australian volunteer at Al-Quds Hospital said that when one family approached the hospital, Israeli snipers started firing at the family.

“They shot a young girl in the face and abdomen. She is now being operated on. The father of the family was shot in the leg and fell to the ground,” Locke said.

“The mother was screaming that one of her daughters was still outside, behind a bush, too scared to move. Mohammed, a medic I have been working with, ran outside and carried her to the hospital,” Locke said.

Locke later told Ma’an that some 600 Palestinians who had taken shelter in the medical facility have now been evacuated on foot to a nearby UNRWA school.

On Thursday morning parts of the hospital went up in flames when Israeli artillery shells struck the buildings. At the time of writing, the operations building of the hospital was still burning.

“The hospital suffered at least one direct hit this morning, and all the patients had to be moved in panic to the ground floor,” said Bashar Morad, director of Palestine Red Crescent emergency medical services. The second floor of the building immediately caught fire. The hospital’s pharmacy was also partly damaged. Fire brigade trucks, escorted by ICRC teams, rushed to the scene and managed to put out the fire.

“It is unacceptable that wounded people receiving treatment in hospitals are put at risk,” said Jakob Kellenberger, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), who just completed a three-day visit to the area that included a stop at Shifa Hospital in Gaza.

supposedly israeli terrorists sent in fire trucks to help with putting out the fire of the unrwa building, where all the food and medical aid was stored as well, and supposedly ehud olmert “apologized,” but is this supposed to make up for their savagery? f)*^% olmert and f%$# his empty apology. one does not and should not ever forgive a people who make vapid apologies and continue doing the very thing they were apologizing for again and again and again for 61 years. and in addition to the bombing of united nations buildings and hospitals, israeli terrorists continue their long history of extra-juridical assassinations:

The Israeli military assassinated de facto Interior Minister Sa’eed Syam in an airstrike on Thursday.

His brother and son were also killed in the blast, according to news reports.

In addition to Syam, nine others were killed in the strike, which reportedly targeted a senior Islamic Jihad leader and the head of the Al-Qassam Brigades, an armed faction affiliated with Hamas….

Hamas condemned the killing of Syam’s son, brother Iyad and sister-in-law, as well as her son, who was killed along with four other neighbors near the home. Ten Palestinians were killed in the airstrike, including Syam and five of his family members.

meanwhile yesterday the free gaza movement tried once again to reach gaza, but were threatened by israeli terrorists and had to turn around and head back to cyprus:

Meanwhile, a Greek-flagged vessel trying to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip with medical aid for the Palestinians was turned back to Cyprus by an Israeli naval vessel.

Huwaida Arraf, an organiser with the US-based Free Gaza Movement, said that the boat was intercepted about 100 miles northeast of Gaza.

“They got very close and they threatened that if we continued they would open fire on us,” she told the Reuters news agency.

“They surrounded us with about four warships making it very difficult to navigate. They said they would use all means to keep us out of Gaza.”

those of you out there who want to pretend like there is some sort of peace movement inside the israeli terrorist infrastructure take a look at the most recent polling data from the jerusalem post and then think again:

The Israeli military operation against Hamas in Gaza enjoys the overwhelming support of Israeli Jews despite the loss of civilian life in the Hamas-run territory, a survey released Wednesday showed.

A whopping 94% of the public support or strongly support the operation while 92% think it benefits Israel’s security, according to the Tel Aviv University survey.

The poll found that 92% of Israeli Jews justify the air force’s attacks in Gaza despite the suffering of the civilian population in the Strip and the damage they cause to infrastructure.

in other words the majority of israeli terrorists are terrorists–they support this genocide in every way. and they should all be held accountable for the war crimes they all support financially, militarily, intellectually. this is an example of the kind of terrorism they support:

i received this email yesterday that shows the devastation that the health sector is experiencing in gaza right now:

Dear Friends,

The Israeli bombardment in its 20th day is the heaviest and most destructive that complicates the ongoing humanitarian operation.

The Israeli Military operation and bombardment is 400 meters a way from PMRS head office in Gaza; this will threat the lives of PMRS
teams and jeopardize their efforts in emergency response, our team might be forced to look for alternatives or move to safer places to
continue their efforts.

UNRWA head offices and store houses including fuel main supply were targeted during the last few hours; the main building was hit, and it is on fire now. UNRWA the most important organization that leads the humanitarian work is forced to completely stop its operation in Gaza.

People living in this neighborhood are trapped in their homes (like Tal A-Hawa neighborhood) with aid organizations and emergency health teams are unable to access these communities.

We all must work to ensure the protection of civilians in Gaza and maintain humanitarian efforts at this difficult time of the War.

Regards,

JIHAD MASHAL
Director General

Palestinian Medical Relief Society

dear, amazing caoimhe managed to get back into gaza via the rafah crossing the other day and had wrote this up about what she is witnessing:

Still Breathing, A Report from Gaza

By Caoimhe Butterly

The morgues of Gaza’s hospitals are over-flowing. The bodies in their blood-soaked white shrouds cover the entire floor space of the Shifa hospital morgue. Some are intact, most horribly deformed, limbs twisted into unnatural positions, chest cavities exposed, heads blown off, skulls crushed in. Family members wait outside to identify and claim a brother, husband, father, mother, wife, child. Many of those who wait their turn have lost numerous family members and loved ones.

Blood is everywhere. Hospital orderlies hose down the floors of operating rooms, bloodied bandages lie discarded in corners, and the injured continue to pour in: bodies lacerated by shrapnel, burns, bullet wounds. Medical workers, exhausted and under siege, work day and night and each life saved is seen as a victory over the predominance of death.

The streets of Gaza are eerily silent- the pulsing life and rhythm of markets, children, fishermen walking down to the sea at dawn brutally stilled and replaced by an atmosphere of uncertainty, isolation and fear.

The ever-present sounds of surveillance drones, F16s, tanks and apaches are listened to acutely as residents try to guess where the next deadly strike will be- which house, school, clinic, mosque, governmental building or community centre will be hit next and how to move before it does. That there are no safe places- no refuge for vulnerable human bodies- is felt acutely. It is a devastating awareness for parents- that there is no way to keep their children safe.

As we continue to accompany the ambulances, joining Palestinian paramedics as they risk their lives, daily, to respond to calls from those with no other life-line, our existence becomes temporarily narrowed down and focused on the few precious minutes that make the difference between life and death. With each new call received as we ride in ambulances that careen down broken, silent roads, sirens and lights blaring, there exists a battle of life over death. We have learned the language of the war that the Israelis are waging on the collective captive population of Gaza- to distinguish between the sounds of the weaponry used, the timing between the first missile strikes and the inevitable second- targeting those that rush to tend to and evacuate the wounded, to recognize the signs of the different chemical weapons being used in this onslaught, to overcome the initial vulnerability of recognizing our own mortality.

Though many of the calls received are to pick up bodies, not the wounded, the necessity of affording the dead a dignified burial drives the paramedics to face the deliberate targeting of their colleagues and comrades- thirteen killed while evacuating the wounded, fourteen ambulances destroyed- and to continue to search for the shattered bodies of the dead to bring home to their families.

Last night, while sitting with paramedics in Jabaliya refugee camp, drinking tea and listening to their stories, we received a call to respond to the aftermath of a missile strike. When we arrived at the outskirts of the camp where the attack had taken place the area was filled with clouds of dust, torn electricity lines, slabs of concrete and open water pipes gushing water into the street. Amongst the carnage of severed limbs and blood we pulled out the body of a young man, his chest and face lacerated by shrapnel wounds, but alive- conscious and moaning.

As the ambulance sped him through the cold night we applied pressure to his wounds, the warmth of his blood seeping through the bandages reminder of the life still in him. He opened his eyes in answer to my questions and closed them again as Muhammud, a volunteer paramedic, murmured “ayeesh, nufuss”- live, breathe- over and over to him. He lost consciousness as we arrived at the hospital, received into the arms of friends who carried him into the emergency room. He, Majid, lived and is recovering.

A few minutes later there was another missile strike, this time on a residential house. As we arrived a crowd had rushed to the ruins of the four story home in an attempt to drag survivors out from under the rubble. The family the house belonged to had evacuated the area the day before and the only person in it at the time of the strike was 17 year old Muhammud who had gone back to collect clothes for his family. He was dragged out from under the rubble still breathing- his legs twisted in unnatural directions and with a head wound, but alive. There was no choice but to move him, with the imminence of a possible second strike, and he lay in the ambulance moaning with pain and calling for his mother. We thought he would live, he was conscious though in intense pain and with the rest of
the night consumed with call after call to pick up the wounded and the dead, I forgot to check on him. This morning we were called to pick up a body from Shifa hospital to take back to Jabaliya. We carried a body wrapped in a blood-soaked white shroud into the ambulance, and it wasn’t until we were on the road that we realized that it was Muhammud’s body. His brother rode with us, opening the shroud to tenderly kiss Muhammud’s forehead.

This morning we received news that Al-Quds hospital in Gaza City was under siege. We tried unsuccessfully for hours to gain access to the hospital, trying to organize co-ordination to get the ambulances past Israeli tanks and snipers to evacuate the wounded and dead. Hours of unsuccessful attempts later we received a call from the Shujahiya neighborhood, describing a house where there were both dead and wounded patients to pick up. The area was deserted, many families having fled as Israeli tanks and snipers took up position amongst their homes, other silent in the dark, cold confines of their homes, crawling from room to room to avoid sniper fire through their windows.

As we drove slowly around the area, we heard women’s cries for help. We approached their house on foot, followed by the ambulances and as we came to the threshold of their home, they rushed towards us with their children, shaking and crying with shock. At the door of the house the ambulance lights exposed the bodies of four men, lacerated by shrapnel wounds- the skull and brains of one exposed, others whose limbs had been severed off. The four were the husbands and brothers of the women, who had ventured out to search for bread and food for their families. Their bodies were still warm as we struggled to carry them on stretchers over the uneven ground, their blood staining the earth and our clothes. As we prepared to leave the area our torches illuminated the slumped figure of another man, his abdomen and chest shredded by shrapnel. With no space in the other ambulances, and the imminent possibility of sniper fire, we were forced to take his body in the back of the ambulance carrying the women and children. One of the little girls stared at me before coming into my arms and telling me her name- Fidaa’, which means to sacrifice. She stared at the body bag, asking when he would wake up.

Once back at the hospital we received word that the Israeli army had shelled Al Quds hospital, that the ensuing fire risked spreading and that there had been a 20-minute time-frame negotiated to evacuate patients, doctors and residents in the surrounding houses. By the time we got up there in a convoy of ambulances, hundreds of people had gathered. With the shelling of the UNRWA compound and the hospital there was a deep awareness that nowhere in Gaza is safe, or sacred.

We helped evacuate those assembled to near-by hospitals and schools that have been opened to receive the displaced. The scenes were deeply saddening- families, desperate and carrying their children, blankets and bags of their possessions venturing out in the cold night to try to find a corner of a school or hospital to shelter in. The paramedic we were with referred to the displacement of the over 46,000 Gazan Palestinians now on the move as a continuation of the ongoing Nakba of dispossession and exile seen through generation after generation enduring massacre after massacre.

Today’s death toll was over 75, one of the bloodiest days since the start of this carnage. Over 1,110 Palestinians have been killed in the past 21 days. 367 of those have been children. The humanitarian infrastructure of Gaza is on its knees- already devastated by years of comprehensive siege. There has been a deliberate, systematic destruction of all places of refuge. There are no safe places here, for anyone.

And yet, in the face of so much desecration, this community has remained intact. The social solidarity and support between people is inspiring, and the steadfastness of Gaza continues to humble and inspire all those who witness it. Their level of sacrifice demands our collective response- and recognition that demonstrations are not enough. Gaza, Palestine and its people continue to live, breathe, resist and remain intact and this refusal to be broken is a call and challenge to us all.

as always caoimhe doesn’t only witness the devastation–she also pays homage to the steadfastness, to the resistance, to the resilience of the people with whom she works in solidarity. and i hope that this steadfastness lasts and lasts and lasts until the destruction of the zionist entity, which increasingly seems to be eminent. immanuel wallerstein offers his insight on the subject of the demise of the jewish state:

Israel however was always one step behind. When it could have negotiated with Nasser, it wouldn’t. When it could have negotiated with Arafat, it wouldn’t. When Arafat died and was succeeded by the ineffectual Mahmoud Abbas, the more militant Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006. Israel refused to talk to Hamas.

Now, Israel has invaded Gaza, seeking to destroy Hamas. If it succeeds, what organization will come next? If, as is more probable, it fails to destroy Hamas, is a two-state solution now possible? Both Palestinian and world public opinion is moving towards the one-state solution. And this is of course the end of the Zionist project.

The three-element strategy of Israel is decomposing. The iron fist no longer succeeds, much as it didn’t for George Bush in Iraq. Will the United States link remain firm? I doubt it. And will world public opinion continue to look sympathetically on Israel? It seems not. Can Israel now switch to an alternative strategy, of negotiating with the militant representatives of the Arab Palestinians, as an integral constituent of the Middle East, and not as an outpost of Europe? It seems quite late for that, quite possibly too late. Hence, the chronicle of a suicide foretold.

one can only hope at this point. hope that this genocide is the zionist regime’s suicide. hope and support the resistance in every way possible to bring about this aim.

a year of gaza

12-27-surgical

i went downtown again at 5pm for the second protest for gaza today. this one was a candlelight vigil. i got their early because of what happened to the first protest i went to. none of my friends were there yet. i saw a lot of yellow flags when i arrived, but they were flags for palestinian political prisoners so i did not think anything of it. while i was waiting for my friends to arrive two students from an najah came up to me and while we were talking little by little i started to realize this was not at all a candlelight vigil for gaza in spite of all the people there in kuffiyas looking like they were gathered for a vigil or demonstration. all of a sudden really large speakers began blasting fatah songs and shortly thereafter a huge parade began to march down the street full of children on drums. every one of them waved enormous fatah flags. i waited, took a photograph (see below) and then decided i would leave. i was not in the mood to watch fatah celebrate its 44th anniversary, which to me seemed like dancing on the graves of people in gaza. incidentally, i head heard that celebrations for fatah’s anniversary were ordered to be canceled today because of what is happening in gaza; apparently nabulsis didn’t get that memo.

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i called my friend alia to tell her i was leaving and she had just arrived so she caught me before i got back in a taxi. she encouraged me to wait as other people started to arrive. and then we saw a group marching from the other direction carrying a large banner about gaza and carrying a coffin representing the dead in gaza. we walked over towards them and then our group of regular people and students and faculty gathered together. but there were some other folks with us from al mubadara, mustafa barghouti’s political party. they were also carrying enormous orange flags with them and chanting chants that were about mubadara. and it was frustrating because most of the chants were, in fact, like earlier in the day–one nation, we have the same wound, same blood, that sort of thing. but then the guy leading the chants was holding this huge mubadara flag and using the name of mubadara in these chants calling for unity. i don’t think he understood the irony.

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the vigil didn’t last long enough for some of us. even though it is quite cold right now we wanted to stay longer so we decided to remain a while longer as our core group stood alone in martyr’s square. the most exciting time of the night, however, was when some israeli and american flags were burned in the street. that felt really good to see and there is a picture of it, but because they were made of paper, they burned really fast and i couldn’t catch a glimpse of it before it was all aflame. an announcement was made before everyone left that we will continue our vigils and protests and i added to the announcement that no flags should be allowed other than a palestinian flag. it is really counterproductive and frankly hypocritical to have so many different flags present when we are calling for unity; when palestinians are chanting that we are all one. interestingly, pflp was there tonight but they carried no flags; though they did hand out their important statement for people to read.

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while we were protesting, of course, more death in gaza. the death toll has risen again. it is now 395 dead and 2,000 injured. on al jazeera english tonight a norweigan doctor named mads gilbert from norwac was interviewed. he had just arrived with medical supplies from the rafah border, which allowed a minimal amount of aid in today. he said a few quite disturbing things, which i tried to transcribe and here is the gist of what he said:

This is a complete man-made disaster. When we arrived we saw a large population without food, long lines of people waiting to get bread. It is quite cold now and there is nothing to warm the houses with. [my comment: many families have had to take out their window panes so that the glass won’t fly in and hurt their children so it is especially cold]. There is a large mosque that has been bombed across the street from the hospital. As a result of that bombing the windows in the hospital has been shattered. There are 2,000 casualties, many very serious. The hospitals are lacking basic drugs, all basic equipment. There is a severe shortage of staff due to 5 days of working around the clock to attend to the injured.”

[Sami Zeidan then asks him about whether or not Israel is letting aid getting through.]

Until now aid has not been getting through. We came through Rafah today. 2 field hospitals, 32 tons of drugs are not coming through. Aid is not the most important thing now, the most important thing is to stop the bombardment now, also from a medical point of view. To guarantee the safety of the population. To open the borders. To restore public services and health facilities. When and if the ground invasion begins it goes from dire to disastrous.

[Zeidan asks him about international law and the proportionality of the fight]

The last numbers from the Palestinian National Authority put the total number of casualties at 2,000 total killed 391. Among the killed 21% are women and children, meaning that every 5th killed is a woman or a child. Among the injured 40% are women and children. There is a sharp contradiction here with respect to protecting civilians. On the contrary, they are the target, the victims. This is contrary to international law. It is an extremely cowardly way to fight a war, sitting there in an airplane above people who have no where to go. I really urge the international community to stand up to stop Israel’s terror bombings.

after this gilbert began talking about something even more horrifying, but it hasn’t been rerun on al jazeera so i don’t have a precise transcript. essentially gilbert said that the zionist terrorists are using a new weapon that is causing severe burns and is cutting bodies in two (anyone who has seen the numerous photographs of the dead without heads or limbs you know what i’m talking about). he also said that he thinks this new weapon is radioactive. of course, we don’t know the details about any of this yet, but it is alarming to say the least.

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as gilbert mentioned the bulk of the victims are women and children. here are some of the newest victims of israeli terrorism:

During a lull in the air and artillery strikes Wednesday afternoon one mother sent three of her children on a quick errand; a chance for them to get some fresh air after being cooped up in the house for five days.

The two girls were scared to go by themselves outdoors, so their brother Ismail volunteered to go with them.

The three children, Lama Hamdan, 5-years-old, Haya Hamdan, 12-years-old and Ismail Hamdan, 10-years-old were killed near their home in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip.

Dr Ibrahim Abu Ghazala declared the two girls dead when they arrived at the hospital and struggled in vain to keep their brother alive.

The Hamdan children are only the most recent victims of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, which was set to root out military factions responsible for the continued launch of projectiles into Israel. As of Wednesday de facto Health Ministry officials say there are 395 dead; at least 15% are children.

Dr Abu Ghazala has witnessed the death of dozens of children at Gaza City’s Ash-Shifa Hospital. He explains his bitterness every time another small body is sent to sit on the ground in the full hospital morgue. ‘They try so hard to resist death,’ he says, ‘but they end up fueling this conflict that has nothing to do with them.’

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in the midst of witnessing all of this carnage from israeli terrorism with american-made planes and weapons–albeit from a distance–i am bombarded with hateful lies and propaganda from israeli terrorists on television. it is unnerving to say the least. but i started thinking about this year, as one is wont to do at the conclusion of a year, and i couldn’t help but be reminded, as i paged through old blog posts, how much of this year has been taken up by responding to racist zionist terrorist attacks on gaza. there was one bright moment, however, at the beginning of the year when the people of gaza broke out of their prison for a short while at the rafah border on 23 january. but then on 16 april israeli terrorists murdered reuters journalist fadel shana, who was just 23 years old with one of its airstrikes. and of course 29 february will be the day that we recall that israeli terrorists promised to do what they know how to do best: create a holocaust for the palestinian people–what we are witnessing right now and doing nothing about:

Matan Vilnai said Palestinians risked a “shoah”, the Hebrew word for a big disaster – and for the Nazi Holocaust.

Mr Vilnai made the comments after rockets hit the city of Ashkelon, 10km (six miles) from Gaza. His colleagues insisted he had not meant “genocide”.

and on 29 january more promises of ethnic cleansing from zionist terrorists, again the world refuses to act:

Gazans should be transfered to the Sinai Peninsula where a Palestinian state could be constructed for them in the desert, according to Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, in an interview with the British weekly “The Jewish News.”

even amidst the protests around the world nothing is happening. supposedly gordon brown has now called on the israeli terrorists to halt their aggressive terrorist acts as a result of british protesters. earlier today a call from the u.k. to pledge money to help gaza with aid struck me as really f&@!)$ up: they want to give aid but they don’t want to force a ceasefire. however, now it seems that brown will do just that. we must wait and see, i guess. and as europeans and americans party tonight forgetting that the people of gaza are living in terror right now. it has just struck midnight as i type and as i type the bombs are again falling over gaza city, over rafah. nevertheless the protests continue, including one held by iranian jews in iran protesting israeli terrorism. here are some from today, from around the world:

i wish those protests were as big here in nablus, though i am watching a live protest in ramallah in manara square and it looks like it’s a good size. meanwhile as the new year begins palestinians in gaza live in fear, in a constant state of trauma:

this is the reality of gaza. while americans and europeans go out and get drunk and party, there will be more of the same. gaza is in darkness while the world parties. it makes me sick to think about. i am grateful i am not in beirut tonight, where i suspect there is a similar scene going on in even in hamra.

for those of you making new year’s resolutions, here’s one: DO F)*#&$% SOMETHING FOR GAZA NOW.

more on divided loyalties: this time it’s the economy

So it is not just Rahm Israel Emauel who has divided loyalties as a dual citizen of the U.S. and Israel. It’s also one of Barack Obama’s other recent appointments–a woman who could likely have divided loyalties between Wall Street and Main Street. As is clear from yesterday’s press conference (in spite of the odd salivating emanating from the media over it) as well as some of the news about who is leading Barack Obama’s economic team that he’s not so much interested in change with respect to the economy either. I first got an email yesterday sharing with me one member of Obama’s economic team (thanks Qui Qui):

Indian-American Sonal Shah, an eminent economist who heads Google’s philanthropic arm, has been appointed an advisory board member by US President-elect Barack Obama to assist his team in smooth transition of power….

Prior to joining Google, she was Vice President at Goldman, Sachs and Co. and developed and implemented its environmental strategy. She has also served as the Associate Director for Economic and National Security Policy at the Centre for American Progress, where she worked on trade, outsourcing and post-conflict reconstruction issues.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Goldman, Sachs one of the banks being bailed out right now? Do we really want to have someone on board with the economic future of the U.S. someone whose interests may be more aligned with those on Wall Street than on Main Street? But it gets worse. Vijay Prashad illustrates precisely why Shah is a dangerous person to bring to the White House–not only for her economic background, but also for her ties to Hindu fundamentalism:

Shah, a product of the University of Chicago, shined her corporate shoes at Anderson Consulting (who was Enron’s accountant), which probably made it easier for her to go into Clinton’s Treasury Department, where she helped Robert Rubin put a U. S. stamp on the post-1997 Asian economic recovery. The corporate side was balanced with an interest in the ideology of “giving back.” When Bush took office, Shah went to the Center for Global Development, and while there joined her brother Anand in forming Indicorps. Knowing full well the desire among many South Asian Americans to give back to their homeland, the Shahs created an organization to help them go and volunteer in India, to do for them what the Peacecorps did for young liberals in the 1960s. Shah left the CAP to work for Goldman Sachs, and then went to Google. Shah’s story is not unlike that of most of the CAP fellows, many of whom honed their dexterity at trying to reconcile the irreconcilable, capital and freedom, private accumulation and human needs.

But there is a less typical side to the Shah story. Born in Gujarat, India, Shah came to the United States as a two-year old. Her father, a chemical engineer, first worked in New York before moving to Houston, and then moving away from his education toward the stock market. The Shahs remain active in Houston’s Indian community, not only in the ecumenical Gujarati Samaj (a society for people from Gujarat), but also in the far more cruel organizations of the Hindu Right, such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Overseas Friends of the BJP (the main political party of the Hindu Right) and the Ekal Vidyalaya. Shah’s parents, Ramesh and Kokila, not only work as volunteers for these outfits, but they also held positions of authority in them. Their daughter was not far behind. She was an active member of the VHPA, the U. S. branch of the most virulently fascistic outfit within India. The VHP’s head, Ashok Singhal, believes that his organization should “inculcate a fear psychosis among [India’s] Muslim community.” This was Shah’s boss. Till 2001, Shah was the National Coordinator of the VHPA.

Chicago School? VHPA? Is this really the sort of person we want in the White House? Is this really the sort of adviser who will bring about change? Henry Paulson, the current Secretary of the Treasury, is also a former employee at Goldman Sachs and look how well this has turned out.

Noami Klein, as usual, warns us about what it has meant to have divided loyalties working in or with the White House of late and its consequences for Americans in contradistinction to how this banking fiasco has been handled in the UK:

It might be possible to set aside concerns about divided loyalties if it were clear that Simpson Thacher is helping Treasury to wrangle the best deals possible for U.S. taxpayers. But the firm’s first test — the deal to give $125 billion to the nine big banks to ease the “credit crunch” that is crippling the economy — wasn’t exactly reassuring. Secretary Paulson promised that the banks won’t just “hoard” the money — they will quickly “deploy it” through the economy in the form of badly needed loans. There is just one hitch: Neither Paulson nor Simpson Thacher got that “deploy” part in writing — nor did they put in place any mechanism to require the banks to spend their taxpayer billions. Apparently, the part about lending the money to homeowners and small businesses was sort of implied.

“There is no obligation for banks to lend the money one way or the other,” Jennifer Zuccarelli, a Treasury spokeswoman, tells Rolling Stone. “But the banks have the understanding” that the money is intended for loans. “We’re not looking to control their operations.”

Unfortunately, many of the banks appear to have no intention of wasting the money on loans. “At least for the next quarter, it’s just going to be a cushion,” said John Thain, the chief executive of Merrill Lynch. Gary Crittenden, chief financial officer of Citigroup, had an even better idea: He hinted that his company would use its share of the cash — $25 billion — to buy up competitors and swell even bigger. The handout, he told analysts, “does present the possibility of taking advantage of opportunities that might otherwise be closed to us.”

And the folks at Morgan Stanley? They’re planning to pay themselves $10.7 billion this year, much of it in bonuses — almost exactly the amount they are receiving in the first phase of the bailout. “You can imagine the devilish grins on the faces of Morgan Stanley employees,” writes Bloomberg columnist Jonathan Weil. “Not only did we, the taxpayers, save their company…we funded their 2008 bonus pool.”

It didn’t have to be this way. Five days before Paulson struck his deal with the banks, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown negotiated a similar bailout — only he extracted meaningful guarantees for taxpayers: voting rights at the banks, seats on their boards, 12 percent in annual dividend payments to the government, a suspension of dividend payments to shareholders, restrictions on executive bonuses, and a legal requirement that the banks lend money to homeowners and small businesses.

In sharp contrast, this is what U.S. taxpayers received: no controlling interest, no voting rights, no seats on the bank boards and just five percent in dividend payouts to the government, while shareholders continue to collect billions in dividends every quarter. What’s more, golden parachutes and bonuses already promised by the banks will still be paid out to executives — all before taxpayers are paid back.

No wonder it took just one hour for Paulson to convince all nine CEOs to accept his offer — less than seven minutes per bank. Not even the firms’ own lawyers could have drafted a sweeter deal.

What really makes this all so shocking–Obama’s choices for his current economic team of advisers–is that unless he works to create a durable, viable solution (not that bailout plan he voted for as Senator, which he clearly stated yesterday that he still supports and will make sure it goes through as his first agenda item when he takes office) how on earth can he ever even begin to come through on all the promises he made during his campaign? It’s like political suicide. Klein, of course, has some answers and it would be far better if someone like Klein were on his team:

This is why the stakes of the bailout are so high: Unless we get a good deal, there will be nothing left over after the banks are done feeding to pay for the meager services now provided in exchange for taxation, let alone for the more ambitious initiatives promised on the campaign trail. The spiraling cost of saving Wall Street from its bad bets is already being used as an excuse for why we can’t solve our many other crises, from health care to climate change.

There is a better way to fix a broken financial system. Treasury’s plan to buy up the toxic debts never made sense and should be immediately scrapped — a move that would also handily get rid of most of the crony contractors. As for purchasing equity in banks, the next round of deals — and there will be more — has to start from the premise that the banks are bankrupt and will therefore accept whatever terms we choose to impose, including real regulatory oversight. The possibilities of what could be done if a chunk of the banking system were genuinely under public control — from a moratorium on home foreclosures to mandatory investment in green community redevelopment — are limitless.

But it seems that instead of doing something that will actually help ordinary working people Obama is more interested in helping those large corporations who funded his campaign and helped him get elected. It’s business as usual as Ralph Nader pointed out on The Real News earlier this week. Really, someone, please tell me: where is the change?