on the limits of solidarity

last month two comrades in the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (bds)–omar barghouti and haidar eid–both of whom i respect a great deal–wrote a statement about the gaza freedom march asking them to adopt a statement of context that addressed palestinian needs and demands rather than impose an american idea of those needs and demands on palestinian people (i quoted it and wrote about it here). a few weeks ago haidar and omar released a new statement saying that the gaza freedom march organizers had adopted their statement and they are now requesting people to endorse the march (click here to endorse it):

Dear supporters of just peace and international law,

We are writing to invite you to endorse the Pledge of the Gaza Freedom March, a creative initiative with historic potential organized by the International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza. The March is aimed at mobilizing active and effective support from around the world for ending Israel’s illegal and immoral siege on Gaza, currently the most pressing of all Israeli violations of international law and Palestinian rights. To endorse the Pledge, please click here and enter your name — or your organization’s name — in the box provided at the bottom.

Also reproduced at the end of this letter, after the Pledge, is the organizers’ Statement of Context which provides the necessary Palestinian context of the siege, namely Israel’s occupation, its decades-old denial of UN-sanctioned Palestinian rights, and Palestinian civil resistance to that oppression.

The Gaza Freedom March has won the endorsement of a decisive majority in Palestinian civil society. Aside from the Islamic University of Gaza, Al-Aqsa University, and tens of local grassroots organizations, refugee advocacy groups, professional associations and NGOs in Gaza, the March was endorsed by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign National Committee (BNC)*, a wide coalition of the largest Palestinian mass organizations, trade unions, networks and professional associaitions, including all the major trade union federations, the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) and the largest network representing Palestinian refugees. Ittijah, the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations, representing the most prominent Palestinian NGOs inside Israel, has also endorsed.

The March, planned for January 2010, to commemorate Israel’s illegal war of aggression against the 1.5 million Palestinians in occupied Gaza, is expected to draw many prominent figures and massive activist participation from across the world. The organizers have shown exceptional moral courage and a true sense of solidarity in drafting the Pledge and the Statement of Context. We salute them all for their principled and consistent commitment to applying international law and universal human rights to the plight of the Palestinian people, particularly in Gaza. We deeply appreciate their solidarity with our struggle for freedom and our inalienable right to self determination.

Anchored solely in international law and universal human rights, the Gaza Freedom March appeals to international organizations and conscientious citizens with diverse political backgrounds on the basis of their common abhorrence of the immense injustice embodied in the atrocious siege of 1.5 million Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip, the overwhelming majority of whom are refugees.

With massive participation of internationals, led by prominent leaders, alongside Palestinians in Gaza the world can no longer ignore its moral duty to end this criminal siege, and Israel can no longer count on its current impunity to last long. We strongly urge you to endorse the Pledge and to help secure more endorsements.

Haidar Eid (Gaza)
Omar Barghouti (Jerusalem)

* The BDS National Committee, BNC, consists of: Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine (all major political parties); General Union of Palestinian Workers; Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions; General Union of Palestinian Women; Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO); Federation of Independent Trade Unions; Palestine Right of Return Coalition; Union of Palestinian Farmers; Occupied Palestine and Golan Heights Initiative (OPGAI); Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (STW); Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI); National Committee to Commemorate the Nakba; Civic Coalition for the Defense of Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem (CCDPRJ); Coalition for Jerusalem; Union of Palestinian Charitable Organizations; Palestinian Economic Monitor; Union of Youth Activity Centers-Palestine Refugee Camps; among others …

Endorse the Gaza Freedom March! Sign the Pledge Below!

Israel’s blockade of Gaza is a flagrant violation of international law that has led to mass suffering. The U.S., the European Union, and the rest of the international community are complicit.

The law is clear. The conscience of humankind is shocked. Yet, the siege of Gaza continues. It is time for us to take action! On January 1, 2010, we will mark the New Year by marching alongside the Palestinian people of Gaza in a non-violent demonstration that breaches the illegal blockade.

Our purpose in this March is lifting the siege on Gaza. We demand that Israel end the blockade. We also call upon Egypt to open Gaza’s Rafah border. Palestinians must have freedom to travel for study, work, and much-needed medical treatment and to receive visitors from abroad.

As an international coalition we are not in a position to advocate a specific political solution to this conflict. Yet our faith in our common humanity leads us to call on all parties to respect and uphold international law and fundamental human rights to bring an end to the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territories since 1967 and pursue a just and lasting peace.

The march can only succeed if it arouses the conscience of humanity.

Please join us.

The International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza
For more information, please see the Statement of Context
For a list of endorsers, please click here.

STATEMENT OF CONTEXT

Amnesty International has called the Gaza blockade a “form of collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza, a flagrant violation of Israel’s obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention.” Human Rights Watch has called the blockade a “serious violation of international law.” The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, Richard Falk, condemned Israel’s siege of Gaza as amounting to a “crime against humanity.”

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter has said the Palestinian people trapped in Gaza are being treated “like animals,” and has called for “ending of the siege of Gaza” that is depriving “one and a half million people of the necessities of life.”

One of the world’s leading authorities on Gaza, Sara Roy of Harvard University, has said that the consequence of the siege “is undeniably one of mass suffering, created largely by Israel, but with the active complicity of the international community, especially the U.S. and European Union.”

The law is clear. The conscience of humankind is shocked.

The Palestinians of Gaza have exhorted the international community to move beyond words of condemnation.

Yet, the siege of Gaza continues.

Upholding International Law

The illegal siege of Gaza is not happening in a vacuum. It is one of the many illegal acts committed by Israel in the Palestinian territories it occupied militarily in 1967.

The Wall and the settlements are illegal, according to the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

House demolitions and wanton destruction of farm lands are illegal.

The closures and curfews are illegal.

The roadblocks and checkpoints are illegal.

The detention and torture are illegal.

The occupation itself is illegal.

The truth is that if international law were enforced the occupation would end.

An end to the military occupation that began in 1967 is a major condition for establishing a just and lasting peace. For over six decades, the Palestinian people have been denied freedom and rights to self-determination and equality. The hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were forced out of their homes during Israel’s creation in 1947-48 are still denied the rights granted them by UN Resolution 194.

Sources of Inspiration

The Gaza Freedom March is inspired by decades of nonviolent Palestinian resistance from the mass popular uprising of the first Intifada to the West Bank villagers currently resisting the land grab of Israel’s annexationist wall.

It draws inspiration from the Gazans themselves, who formed a human chain from Rafah to Erez, tore down the border barrier separating Gaza from Egypt, and marched to the six checkpoints separating the occupied Gaza Strip from Israel.

The Freedom March also draws inspiration from the international volunteers who have stood by Palestinian farmers harvesting their crops, from the crews on the vessels who have challenged the Gaza blockade by sea, and from the drivers of the convoys who have delivered humanitarian aid to Gaza.

And it is inspired by Nelson Mandela who said: “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. … I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”

It heeds the words of Mahatma Gandhi, who called his movement Satyagraha-Hold on to the truth, and holds to the truth that Israel’s siege of Gaza is illegal and inhuman.

Gandhi said that the purpose of nonviolent action is to “quicken” the conscience of humankind. Through the Freedom March, humankind will not just deplore Israeli brutality but take action to stop it.

Palestinian civil society has followed in the footsteps of Mandela and Gandhi. Just as those two leaders called on international civil society to boycott the goods and institutions of their oppressors, Palestinian associations, trade unions, and mass movements have since 2005 been calling on all people of conscience to support a non-violent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions until Israel fully complies with its obligations under international law.

The Freedom March also draws inspiration from the civil rights movement in the United States.

If Israel devalues Palestinian life then internationals must both interpose their bodies to shield Palestinians from Israeli brutality and bear personal witness to the inhumanity that Palestinians daily confront.

If Israel defies international law then people of conscience must send non-violent marshals from around the world to enforce the law of the international community in Gaza. The International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza will dispatch contingents from around the world to Gaza to mark the anniversary of Israel’s bloody 22-day assault on Gaza in December 2008 – January 2009.

The Freedom March takes no sides in internal Palestinian politics. It sides only with international law and the primacy of human rights.

The March is yet another link in the chain of non-violent resistance to Israel’s flagrant disregard of international law.

Citizens of the world are called upon to join ranks with Palestinians in the January 1st March to lift the inhumane siege of Gaza.

when the announcement for the march went out i wrote a critique of it, particularly about the racist way in which it seemed to be run (epitomized by the march’s first poster which featured no palestinians and just one white man–norman finkelstein). if you read that earlier post you will not be surprised to learn that with the gaza freedom march’s adoption of a palestinian platform–rather than an american platform pushed on palestinian people–finkelstein withdrew his support. here is what pulse media reported he said in response:

Norman Finkelstein’s withdrawal statement:

The original consensus of the International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza was that we would limit our statement to a pair of uncontroversial, basic and complementary principles that would have the broadest possible appeal: the march to break the siege would be nonviolent and anchored in international law.

I agreed with this approach and consequent statement and decided to remove myself from the steering committee in order to invest my full energies in mobilizing for the march. During the week beginning August 30, 2009 and in a matter of days an entirely new sectarian agenda dubbed “the political context” was foisted on those who originally signed on and worked tirelessly for three months.

Because it drags in contentious issues that—however precious to different constituencies—are wholly extraneous to the narrow but critical goal of breaking the siege this new agenda is gratuitously divisive and it is almost certain that it will drastically reduce the potential reach of our original appeal.

It should perhaps be stressed that the point of dispute was not whether one personally supported a particular Palestinian right or strategy to end the occupation. It was whether inclusion in the coalition’s statement of a particular right or strategy was necessary if it was both unrelated to the immediate objective of breaking the siege and dimmed the prospect of a truly mass demonstration.

In addition the tactics by which this new agenda was imposed do not bode well for the future of the coalition’s work and will likely move the coalition in an increasingly sectarian direction. I joined the coalition because I believed that an unprecedented opportunity now exists to mobilize a broad public whereby we could make a substantive and not just symbolic contribution towards breaking the illegal and immoral siege of Gaza and, accordingly, realize a genuine and not just token gesture of solidarity with the people of Gaza.

In its present political configuration I no longer believe the coalition can achieve such a goal. Because I would loathe getting bogged down in a petty and squalid public brawl I will not comment further on this matter unless the sequence of events climaxing in my decision to resign are misrepresented by interested parties.

However I would be remiss in my moral obligations were I not humbly to apologize to those who, either coaxed by me or encouraged by my participation, gave selflessly of themselves to make the march a historic event and now feel aggrieved at the abrupt turn of events. It can only be said in extenuation that I along with many others desperately fought to preserve the ecumenical vision that originally inspired the march but the obstacles thrown in our path ultimately proved insurmountable.

problems still remain with the new statement of context. it is far from perfect. it represents, however, a significant compromise, and, more importantly, acknowledges the necessity of abiding by palestinian civil society’s goals as guided by international law. three activists, gabriel ash, mich levy and sara kershnar, authored a very important critique of this new context in electronic intifada that is worth considering for activists invested in justice for palestinian refugees and for palestine more generally:

Changing course is never easy. It would have been far better had this discussion taken place before the call went out. That, however, is a lesson for the future. The compromise led a few of the organizers to leave in anger and recriminations. Some argued that the new context document is “sectarian” and will severely damage the potential of the march. While disputes are inevitable in every political endeavor, we call on all parties to cast aside differences and arguments, to respect the compromise and unite on our common objective, ending the siege of Gaza. What is important now is getting the best and most effective march possible.

We see the context document as a thoughtful attempt to bring together for this march those of us who support boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and the full objectives of Palestinian liberation — including the right of return and full and equal rights for Palestinians living in Israel — with those activists whose support for lifting the siege of Gaza is largely humanitarian. Contrary to misrepresentations, the context document does not require marchers to adhere to BDS. But as the march puts nonviolence on its banner and claims inspiration from nonviolent Palestinian resistance, it cannot, without being offensive, ignore the increasing presence and far-reaching international impact of BDS as a Palestinian campaign of nonviolent resistance that is endorsed by all factions, including Fatah and Hamas, as well as more than 100 civil society associations. The growing support for BDS among prominent Western figures and mainstream organizations belies the claim that the mere mention of it is divisive.

Nor does the document commit the marchers to support the Palestinian right of return. It does commit the marchers to recognize the Palestinian Nakba and the historical fact that the refugees’ right of return, recognized by UN resolution 194, has been denied. These refugees make up 75 percent of the population of Gaza and are the recipients of this march’s solidarity. To recognize this history does not compel one to agree to any specific resolution of the conflict. But refusing to recognize it denies the history of the Palestinian people, a denial that is inconsistent with any form of solidarity.

The new document’s only demand is the end of the siege of Gaza. There are no other demands. Nothing in it prevents activists committed to a “two-state solution” and a “Jewish state” from participating. We therefore strongly object to representing the new language as an attempt to limit the scope of the march. We take strong offense at the attempt to label the recognition of the concerns of Palestinian liberation within the context of a solidarity action as “sectarian.” We seriously doubt that the number of individuals willing to fly to Egypt and then march in Gaza, yet who refuse to recognize the history of Gaza, is very large.

We are also heartened by the addition of non-governmental partners in Gaza. As soon as the context statement was added, endorsements came from the University Teachers’ Association in Palestine, Palestinian Student’s Campaign, al-Aqsa University, Arab Cultural Forum-Gaza and al-Quds Bank for Culture and Information-Gaza. We are also encouraged by the addition of the International Solidarity Movement and support from members of the South African Palestine solidarity community. The elected government of Gaza has also endorsed the march and will now hopefully increase its assistance.

In supporting this compromise, we are mindful of the original aim of the organizers for large and “ecumenical” participation. We share that goal. However, our conversation would benefit from honesty about the meaning of “ecumenical.” It never means “everybody.” We don’t just want the maximum number of marchers; we want the maximum number that can be achieved without compromising the visions of the diverse organizers and solidarity groups participating in this particular project.

Where should the line be drawn? This is a difficult decision that haunts every political struggle and always requires deliberation, negotiation and compromise. It is misleading to frame the debate as one between those who want maximum participation and those motivated by ideology, in particular when this framing aims to delegitimize the concerns of Palestinian activists representing significant sections of Palestinian grassroots organizing. We all have political lines that we won’t cross. The lines drawn by those at the very heart of the struggle deserve our particular respect.

We now have a fair and inclusive basis for organizing the march, open to proponents of radically different political visions yet respectful of all, and in particular, respectful of Palestinian history and struggle. We must now all strive to make this march as big and as successful as possible.

but this march and is organizing, as well as the organizing around bds, has made me think a lot about what it means to act in solidarity with palestinians, or any group of people for that matter. i recently received an email from a dear friend who decided, after years of trying to persuade him, to join the academic boycott. he signed the statement, but he is still ambivalent about it as a tactic. why? because noam chomsky has not come out in support of it. and this makes me wonder a lot about why chomsky would be the one to defer to? chomsky, like norman finkelstein, are two scholars whose work i admire a great deal. their thinking and writing has influenced me tremendously over my the course of my life. but in the end there are too many barriers for me to fall in line with their thinking: particularly the fact that neither one has signed on to bds andthat neither one supports the right of return for palestinian refugees. here, for example, is chomsky speaking on the subject of sanctions in an interview with christopher j. lee:

Safundi: So you would apply “apartheid” to that broader situation?

Chomsky: I would call it a Bantustan settlement. It’s very close to that. The actions are taken with U.S. funding, crucially. U.S. diplomatic, military, and economic support are crucial. It cannot be done without that.

Safundi: And that is similar to U.S. support for South Africa during the apartheid period through the 1980s.

Chomsky: Yes. As I’m sure you know, the Reagan Administration-which is basically the current people in power, including people like Colin Powell-found ways to evade Congressional restrictions so that they continued to support the apartheid administration, almost until the end.

Safundi: Connected to that…

Chomsky: In the case of Israel, they don’t have to hide it because there are no sanctions.

Safundi: That’s my question. One of the important tactics against the apartheid government was the eventual use of sanctions. Do you see that as a possibility?

Chomsky: No. In fact I’ve been strongly against it in the case of Israel. For a number of reasons. For one thing, even in the case of South Africa, I think sanctions are a very questionable tactic. In the case of South Africa, I think they were [ultimately] legitimate because it was clear that the large majority of the population of South Africa was in favor of it.

Sanctions hurt the population. You don’t impose them unless the population is asking for them. That’s the moral issue. So, the first point in the case of Israel is that: Is the population asking for it? Well, obviously not.

But there is another point. The sanctions against South Africa were finally imposed after years, decades of organization and activism until it got to the point where people could understand why you would want to do it. So by the time sanctions were imposed, you had international corporations supporting them. You had mayors of cities getting arrested in support of them.

So calling for sanctions here, when the majority of the population doesn’t understand what you are doing, is tactically absurd-even if it were morally correct, which I don’t think it is.

The country against which the sanctions are being imposed is not calling for it.

Safundi: Palestinians aren’t calling for sanctions?

Chomsky: Well, the sanctions wouldn’t be imposed against the Palestinians, they would be imposed against Israel.

Safundi: Right…[And] Israelis aren’t calling for sanctions.

Chomsky: Furthermore, there is no need for it. We ought to call for sanctions against the United States! If the U.S. were to stop its massive support for this, it’s over. So, you don’t have to have sanctions on Israel. It’s like putting sanctions on Poland under the Russians because of what the Poles are doing. It doesn’t make sense. Here, we’re the Russians.

Israel will of course do whatever it can as long as the U.S. authorizes it. As soon as the U.S. tells it no, that’s the end. The power relations are very straight forward. It’s not pretty, but that’s the way the world works.

of course, chomsky has a point: in terms of bds the u.s. should be every bit the target. but not in lieu of the zionist entity, but rather in addition to it. but the fact that paestinians are calling for bds means that those of us who want to work in solidarity with palestinians should support that work. but the fact that some people think we should refer to two american jews on the matter of this is disturbing. would one defer to a slavemaster when abolishing slavery? would one defer to a nazi when fighting against concentration camps? would one defer to white southerners when resisting jim crow segregation in the u.s. south? i find this logic racist and deeply problematic. i’m not at all saying that the work of chomsky and finkstein is not important to read, to listen to, to consider. but i am asking people to consider the logic of looking to them as if they were the leaders of the palestinian people. if we’re looking for leaders we need not look beyond haidar eid and omar barghouti for starters. and there are thousands more where they came from.

the bantustan as prison

i often think about what the word normal means here. the way that people accept, on some level, the facts of colonialism around them. it is not like people have a choice, but that mental process of barriers and occupation armies keeps people who live here in a particular mode of thinking: that we all live in bantustan prisons and cannot get out. cannot live a normal life in which people just go to work, school, visit friends and family. a dear friend of mine in al quds decided to take the day off to visit me in nablus yesterday. he drove all the way here in his brother’s car (meaning he had yellow license plates) and he tried two different checkpoints (each about 30 minutes apart, each separated by a number of israeli colonies with excessively violent terrorists living inside). he was told he could not come inside. as a result he had to go home. all the way home a 4 hour journey (each way including checkpoints) for nothing. money wasted on gas. time wasted. why? just because the israeli terrorists who wish to keep nabulsis imprisoned and everyone else imprisoned in their own particular bantustans apart from each other. this is precisely what makes friends of mine not want to visit me: they know that it is too difficult to enter this imprisoned city where i live.

i was thinking of this when i read on lina al sharif’s blog, a young university student at the islamic university of gaza, about the films she made this week about a little trip she took around her prison of gaza. here is what she said about it followed by her films:

A good friend of mine and her other friend organized a trip around Gaza. I think they were inspired by the idea that we need amusement, we need some adventure! Her suggestion was met by an overwhelming acceptance by me and my friends. On Thursday, a bus was waiting for us outside the university, yet it was an independent trip. We were almost 50 girls including 3 mothers. We visited many places as you’ll see in the following videos.

lina’s prison is by far worse than the one i live in, in spite of her efforts to make the best of it and enjoy what small pleasures she has around her. though i find it a bit disturbing to see this pristine british military cemetery in the film given the destruction everywhere else. nothing else can be rebuilt or made to at least appear pristine (until the next time israeli terrorists bomb it) because the borders continue to be closed as john ging stated this week and as quoted in louis charbonneau’s article in common dreams:

The top U.N. aid official in the Gaza Strip urged Israel on Friday to ease restrictions on the flow of goods into the conflict-torn territory, saying they were “devastating” for the people.

“It’s wholly and totally inadequate,” John Ging, head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, said about the amount of goods Israel permits into the territory, where some 1.5 million Palestinians live.

“It’s having a very devastating impact on the physical circumstances and also the mindset of people on the ground,” he said.

Israel says it has opened Gaza’s border to larger amounts of food and medicine since its December-January offensive against Hamas militants who control the Palestinian enclave and were firing rockets against Israeli towns.

The war destroyed some 5,000 homes and, according to figures from a Palestinian rights group, killed over 1,400 people. Around 80 percent of Palestinians are reliant on aid.

Ging said access to goods was still a severe problem.

“We need access,” he said. “It’s the number one issue. It’s the number two issue. It’s the number three issue, and so on. Until we get it, there’s nothing as important as solving the access issue.”

Israel fears opening the borders would allow Hamas to smuggle more weapons and ammunition into the territory.

Ging said that all the crossing points from Israel into the Gaza Strip should be opened, and those that were currently opened in a limited way to only selected people or goods should be fully opened.

In addition to restrictions on what it deems luxury goods, such as cigarettes and chocolates, Israel has blocked entry of materials such as cement and steel for rebuilding because it says they could be used for bunkers and rearming.

those borders have also kept out soap, though apparently this is about to change:

Israel will allow all kinds of soaps and detergents into Gaza as of Tuesday, Deputy of the minister of economy Nasser As-Saraj said on Friday.

Gazan officials were informed of the decision following a near year-long ban on the materials.

of course it is not just about borders being closed and goods restricted. as sherine tadros reports on al jazeera this week, the unexploded ordinances still remain in the land and palestinians are having to remove them by themselves:

other palestinians live with the physical scars of the war, particularly those suffering from the after effects of white phosphorus burns as yusef al helou reports in electronic intifada:

Nearly three months have passed since Israel ended its war and while life has returned to normal for some for many others has left legacies of suffering and sad memories. Sabah Abu Halima who was burnt from head to toe and lost her husband and four children is still in pain and has weekly physiotherapy sessions at Shifa hospital. We visited her at her home in the northern Gaza Strip town of Seyafa about one km from the northern border with Israel. Sabah showed us around her house, which was also burnt as a result of white phosphorus shells that struck the roof of her family’s 16 member home.

She explained that “We had a happy home, I lived in this house in security with my husband and children. I was the happiest person in the world, but all of that changed when on 4 January the Israeli army entered our village and fired two phosphorus shells [that] penetrated our roof and burnt us while we were having our lunch. The fire was like lava, my family was burnt and their bodies turned to crisps.”

The mournful mother who is still unable to walk or talk properly, lost her house when it was completely engulfed in flames from the bombs. Luckily she found a photo of her youngest daughter, Shahad, who was only 15 months old when she was killed. I asked her to comment on this writing, which was left on the wall of her bedroom: “From the Israeli Defense Forces, we are sorry!” She answered that “I demand the whole world and international human rights organizations to sue the killers of my family, they killed so many innocent people who tried to rescue us, what was the guilt of my children and my baby Shahad? Their sorry will not bring back my family, I’m still physiologically and mentally in pain, I can’t even pick up a cup of tea now, my life will never be the same,” Sabah answered with tears in her eyes.

in spite of all of this suffering imran garda’s “focus on gaza” on al jazeera this week shows us how some palestinians in gaza, who are newly refugees, are trying to get back to normal. the focus this week is on education and the incredible obstacles to education here, including in the west bank:

and it is not over. palestinians in gaza remain under attack, particularly fisherman and farmers:

Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported on Friday morning that a Palestinian fisherman was mildly injured when the Israel Navy shelled several fishing boats in the Palestinian territorial waters in Gaza.

The sources added that at least three boats were hit by navy fire in the Rafah area, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, and in Al Mawasi, in northern Gaza. Palestinian fishermen have become a frequent target as Israel is barring them from fishing in spite the fact that they are in Palestinian territorial waters.

On Wednesday morning, the Israeli navy attacked a Palestinian fishing boat, kidnapping the four fishermen on board, and taking over the boat. The fishermen, three brothers and a relative were taken to an unknown destination. They were fishing in Palestinian territorial waters near Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

On Monday a young Palestinian fisherman was shot and seriously wounded when the Israeli navy shelled an area in al-Sudaniyya, north-east of Gaza City.

On Tuesday, March 17, one Palestinian civilian was injured when Israeli naval boats opened fire on residents and fishermen who gathered at the beach near the Beit Lahia town.

and from a new blog “farming under fire” discusses what palestinian farmers are up against when trying to farm their land:

A thankfully relatively calm day of farming on Tuesday in the border region near southeastern Khoza’a village, east of Khan Younis. The last time we’d been in Khoza’a, the Israeli soldiers patrolling the border area had opened fire on us within minutes of our arrival, shooting closer than previous times, although it was obvious we were a mixture of elderly farmers and internationals, all unarmed. Hours later, Israeli soldiers shot a young woman, Wafa, from Khoza’a in the kneecap as she surveyed the land where her the ruins of her house –destroyed in Israel’s war on Gaza –lay.

With those memories in mind, we’d returned to Khoza’a warily, aware of the Israeli soldiers fondness for shooting at civilians, but more aware that the Palestinian farmers were determined to harvest their crops: lentils and squash.
It was too late for the squash, which were meant to be small and green but which had over-grown and over-ripened because farmers had been afraid to harvest them weeks earlier.

“Kuulo kharbaan,” one of the women said when I asked whether they could be saved: they’re all ruined.

Tariq, a young man studying at university who was also serving as a coordinator for the area’s farmers and us, explained the financial loss. There were about 4 dunams of land, on which about 15 cases of squash had grown. Each case was roughly 11 kilos in weight. The squash should have sold for 8 shekels/kilo (roughly $2). Had the harvest been done, the plot of land would have yielded over $300. But it was all ruined, kharbaan. The farmers, mostly elderly women, with a few of their younger male relatives helping, picked lentils swiftly, still wary of potential shooting.

After nearly an hour of picking, two jeeps patrolling the region stopped for about 20 minutes, watching. Some shots were fired a few hundred metres further south from our group, but thankfully that day the soldiers didn’t go further.
The rest of the morning went quickly and successfully [allowing, even, for some practise of Dabke steps during the calm harvesting], a small miracle in a Strip of siege and war manufactured tragedies.

this week there was also a report released about palestinian farmers not allowed to access their farm land because it is in the so-called “buffer zone”:

Gaza’s battered agricultural sector has the capacity to recover but only if there is access to the buffer zone, and only if Gaza’s commercial crossings are fully opened, according to a recent UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report on Gaza.

FAO says the area inside the buffer zone along the northern and eastern borders with Israel contains nearly a third of Gaza’s arable land, but it has been inaccessible to farmers, residents and UN agencies since 27 December 2008 (when Israel launched a 23-day assault on Gaza in retaliation for continued Hamas rocket-fire from Gaza into Israel).

and then, of course, there are just the targeted murders that palestinians suffer from on a daily basis such as today in jabaliya:

Palestinian medical sources confirmed the death of two Palestinians from Khan Younis Refugee Camp in the southern Gaza Strip. Medical crews evacuated the two from the northern Strip to Kamal Udwan Hospital.

Israeli forces reported killing the two earlier Saturday, saying they were “attempting to infiltrate” the Kfar Azza Kibbutz near the electronic fence border area in the northern Gaza Strip Saturday morning.

The men were identified as 23-year-old Muhammad Al-Hamayda and 26-year-old Jamil Quffa.

all of these attacks continue unabated. no one says anything. none of those big powers at nato. no one. any wonder why people are protesting? if you read my post yesterday you know about the amnesty international report about americans and germans working together to make sure israeli terrorists have more weapons. and yet these nato imperial regimes wish to make sure palestinians cannot “smuggle” any weapons with which to resist and defend themselves. adam morrow and khaled moussa al-omrani reported on this scheme for ips:

Nine NATO member states agreed last month to utilise naval, intelligence and diplomatic resources to combat the alleged flow of arms into the Gaza Strip. Some Egyptian commentators see the move as a surreptitious means of cementing foreign control over the region.

“These new protocols aren’t really about halting arms smuggling,” Tarek Fahmi, political science professor at Cairo University and head of the Israel desk at the Cairo-based National Centre for Middle East Studies, told IPS. “Rather, they aim to establish foreign control over the region’s strategic border crossings and maritime ports.”

On Mar. 13, a major conference was held in London aimed at “coordinating efforts” to stop alleged arms smuggling – by land or sea – into the Gaza Strip, governed by Palestinian resistance faction Hamas. Participants at the conference included high-level representatives from nine member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), including the U.S., Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Italy and Norway.

At the close of the event, participants signed an agreement “to develop an effective framework for international cooperation, supplementary to measures taken by regional states, to prevent and interdict the illicit flow of arms, ammunition and weapons components to Gaza.”

According to a final statement, participant governments hope to accomplish these objectives with the use of a series of measures, including “maritime interception, information sharing and diplomatic pressure.” The international community “has a responsibility to support prevention and interdiction efforts,” the statement reads, noting that such efforts may involve “diplomatic, military, intelligence and law enforcement components.”

apartheid and its boycotts

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

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

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

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

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

The Apartheid Analogy

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

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

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

Israel and the Crime of Apartheid

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colonialism and the Role of Comparison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:

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

2 See www.apartheidweek.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Appeal for the removal of Hamas from EU terror list !

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

three months later gaza is still the issue

it is now three months since the savagery inflicted on gaza began on december 27th. lina al sharif, a palestinian blogger and student at the islamic university of gaza, made a video that shares what she witnessed during this savagery. here are her videos:

the situation at palestinian universities in gaza, like the one where lina goes, which israeli terrorists bombed, continues to be a problem as well. irin news published this report yesterday on the situation of palestinian universities in gaza:

Many university students who lost relatives or whose homes were destroyed during the recent 23-day Israeli offensive are finding it difficult to cope, according to university officials and students.

Some have been unable to register for the new semester due to lack of funds; others are still traumatised.

Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights in Gaza said 14 of the 15 higher education institutions in the Strip (most are in and around Gaza City) were damaged by Israeli forces. Six came under direct attack.

Three colleges – Al-Da’wa College for Humanities in Rafah, Gaza College for Security Sciences in Gaza City, and the Agricultural College in Beit Hanoun (part of Al-Azhar University) – were destroyed, according to Al-Mezan communications officer Mahmoud AbuRahma.

Six university buildings in Gaza were razed to the ground and 16 damaged. The total damage is estimated at US$21.1 million, according to the Palestinian National Early Recovery and Reconstruction Plan for Gaza.

The Israeli offensive – in retaliation for continued Hamas rocket-fire from Gaza into Israel – began on 27 December 2008 and ended on 18 January.

Just after midnight on 28 December the Islamic University was targeted in six separate air strikes, according to eyewitnesses.

The two main buildings on campus were completely destroyed, while nine others were damaged; water, electrical and internet systems were affected, according to the university’s president, Kamalain Sha’ath.

“The two [main] buildings contained 74 science and engineering laboratories equipped with thousands of pieces of apparatus,” said Islamic University public relations officer Hussam Ayesh.

The university, which has 22,000 students enrolled, wants to rebuild and renovate but lacks building materials due to the Israeli blockade; Israel is very unlikely to allow in replacement laboratory equipment, without which it will be difficult for classes to resume.

“Only basic food commodities and essential humanitarian items are permitted to enter Gaza,” said spokesperson for the Israeli Civil Liaison Administration Maj Peter Lerner.

The Israeli military said the Islamic University was being used by Hamas to develop and store weapons, including Qassam rockets used to target Israeli civilians. The university and Hamas deny the allegations.

”Three thousand of the 20,000 registered students could not return this semester due to issues related to the war.”

The Islamic University has estimated the damage at US$15 million. By contrast, tuition fees for the 2009 semester only amount to $10 million. The university has appealed for help and halved the minimum initial payment required by students.

“Tuition fees are now a problem for more than 70 percent of the students and many have missed the semester,” said Abdel Rahman Migdad, 20, a third year business studies student. “Books are unavailable due to the siege and most students can’t even afford photocopies – and now we even lack ink for the photocopiers.”

Al-Azhar University

Al-Azhar, Gaza’s second largest university, generally seen as pro-Fatah (the political faction associated with Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank) was hit on the same day.

“Three thousand of the 20,000 registered students could not return this semester due to issues related to the war,” said public relations officer at Al-Azhar University Sameh Hassanin, who also said there had been a 20 percent increase in the number of students unable to afford fees since the offensive ended.

“Students lack funds for transport and books, and are struggling,” said Hassanin. The university also lacks paper, spare parts and ink for copiers.

The Agricultural College in Beit Hanoun was completely destroyed, with the damage estimated at US$4.3 million, according to university officials.

and here is an update report on the samouni family in zeitoun, gaza by al jazeera’s amazing sherine tadros:

the chalk and the blackboard

i’m teaching an essay in my postcolonial literature class this week by one of my favorite writers, ngũgĩ wa thiong’o. the essay–“the language of african literature,” which is published in his collection decolonising the mind–is old, but its core ideas are still so important and applicable for people to think about. the occasion for the essay was a conference at makerere university college in kampala, uganda about african writers. a conference, which was imperialist in its nature, as he explains in a footnote:

…organized by the anti-Communist Paris-based but American-inspired and financed Society for Cultural Freedom which was later discovered actually to have been financed by CIA. It shows how certain directions in our cultural, political, and economic choices can be masterminded from metropolitan centres of imperialism. (30)

a lot of the conference involved discussing who or what counts as an african writer or as african literature, but the main issue that ngũgĩ had with the entire event was that no one seemed to care that this discussion was taking place in relation to african literature written in english, french, and portuguese. it should be clear, of course, given who funded it, what the agenda really was and why it was important that african literature be defined along the lines of literature not published in the native tongue of the writers.

he gives some context for these imperial and colonial goals in the essay, which i think are instructive for people in the arab world. for instance, i think it is important for people to think about the parallels between the berlin conference of 1884 that carved up africa as colonial entities to be controlled by europeans and the sykes picot agreement of 1916 which did the same to the levant. he explains precisely how that colonial control happened beyond military control:

Berlin of 1884 was effected through the sword and the bullet. But the night of the sword and the bullet was followed by the morning of the chalk and the blackboard. The physical violence of the battlefield was followed by the psychological violence of the classroom. But where the former was visibly brutal, the latter was visibly gentle, a process best described by Cheikh Hamidou Kane’s novel Ambiguous Adventure where he talks of the methods of the colonial phase of imperialism as consisting of knowing how to kill with efficiency and to heal with the same art.

On the Black Continent, one began to understand that their real power resided not at all in the cannons of the first morning but in what followed the cannons. Therefore behind the cannons was the new school. The new school had the nature of both the cannon and the magnet. From the cannon it took the efficiency of a fighting weapon. But better than the cannon it made the conquest permanent. The cannon forces the body and the school fascinates the soul. (9)

ngũgĩ argues that one of the major elements of colonialism in the classroom was language. forcing african people to abandon their native languages, and the culture tied to it. he, too, was subjected to this in his native kenya, where he was educated primarily in the language of the british colonizers at the expense of his linguistic and cultural ties to his native language, gĩkũyũ. through his own educational experiences he shows precisely how children are taught to be alienated from their language and culture:

…one of the most humiliating experiences was to be caught speaking Gĩkũyũ in the vicinity of the school. The culprit was given corporal punishment–three to five strokes of the cane on bare buttocks–or was made to carry a metal plate around the neck with inscriptions such as I AM STUPID or I AM A DONKEY. Sometimes the culprits were fined money they could hardly afford. And how did the teachers catch the culprits? A button was initially given to one pupil who was supposed to hand it over to whoever was caught speaking his mother tongue. Whoever had the button at the end of the day would sing who had given it to him and the ensuing process would bring out all the culprits of the day. Thus children were turned into witchunters and in the process were being taught the lucrative value of being a traitor to one’s immediate community. (11)

in palestine the issue of language is not as much of a problem as it has been in other colonized places. but make no mistake about it the israeli-american control over palestinian education dictates all of the tremendous gaps in people’s textbooks related to history and culture. in 1948 palestine, where palestinians have to learn hebrew, it is more of an issue. but because the qur’an is written in arabic and must be read in arabic, the issue of annihilating arabic is not something threatened. too, the goals of colonialism are different here. the british in kenya were interested in creating a population they could control not one they necessarily wanted to exterminate. here the desire is to remove the indigenous people by exiling them and murdering them. still, the use of education (as well as the media and economics) are means of controlling palestinians here (this, too, is a joint american-israeli colonial project) to create collaborators from within is an ongoing problem here. but to be sure there is an ongoing problem of judaizing the land by erasing arabic signs and such in ways that are related to denying palestinians’ right to their language.

judaization in al quds
judaization in al quds

clearly one of the ways this control is achieved is by trying to deny people their culture. ngũgĩ explains this beautifully:

The real aim of colonialism was to control the people’s wealth; what they produced, how they produced it, and how it was distributed; to control, in other words, the entire realm of the language in real life. Colonialism imposed its control of the social production of wealth through military conquest and subsequent political dictatorship. But its most important area of domination was the mental universe of the colonised, the control, through culture, of how people perceived themselves and their relationship to the world. Economic and political control can never be complete or effective without mental control. To control a people’s culture is to control their tools of self-definition in relationship to others.

For colonialism this involved two aspects of the same process: the destruction or the deliberate undervaluing of a people’s culture, their art, dances, religions, history, geography, education, orature and literature, and the conscious elevation of the language of the coloniser. The domination of a people’s language by the languages of the colonising nations was crucial to the domination of the mental universe of the colonised. (16)

people’s identity is tied up in their language and culture. fortunately, this travels with them whether they are exiled or in prison. this can never be completely taken away, though there are far too many reminders of inroads that israeli colonizers have made by depriving palestinians from their right to their culture. the events this week in al quds, the military control over the celebrations of al quds as an arab capital, is certainly one example of this. just imagine of armed palestinians went into a synagogue or a theatre and threatened them to stop singing, dancing, eating, storytelling: what would be the world-wide response to that? but here it happens. for instance, yesterday as’ad abukhalil posted a memo on his website (which i am posting below too) that the israeli terrorist army posted on the door of al hakawati theatre in al quds ordering the closure of the theatre:

memo making theatre forbidden in al quds
memo making theatre forbidden in al quds

imran garda hosted a discussion of this attack on palestinian culture on al jazeera’s “inside story” the other night that dealt with this issue, though i don’t like that it was two israeli terrorists (active colonizer arieh king and liberal zionist who thinks he has a right to be here as a colonist danny seidemann) against one palestinian woman (hoda al imam) fighting for her rights to her culture as well as to liberate her land. and there is one mistake that was made by garda, which i know was an accident, but it must be pointed out: when he questions hoda about boycotting he did not mean the palestinian boycott and anti-normalization efforts; he was talking about hypocritical arab regimes (most of which are allies of the americans) that conflate jews and israeli colonists in their uneven and sporadic so-called “boycott” efforts. these are not the same thing. but it is worth watching just to hear the debate and see the reporting on what has been going on in al quds this week:

it is interesting that here in the west bank this attack on culture is constant, and unfortunately, seems to have an effect on jeel al oslo. i notice, however, that among the handful of students who know their history and culture it is the parents who intervene in this process by making sure their children know this material that they won’t get from their schools or the media. one of my friends who this is true for is this amazing young woman whose family has an amazing story. her parents were resistance fighters in lebanon, where they met, and then were exiled to tunisia and elsewhere in the region before coming to nablus after oslo. there is far more to the story, and she is starting to write it down, which is amazing. we have been having amazing conversations about it and i love hearing her stories. there are so many more of these stories, so many of them that are not written down. that are not recorded. and these stories are a part of palestinian heritage, of history. and they must be recorded. this is an important kind of resistance as can be gleaned from the israeli terrorist response in al quds, and in many ways that are far less visible, when the attack and silence palestinian history and culture. make no mistake about it: this threatens them as can be gleaned from israeli terrorist lackey ethan bronner’s recent article in the new york times:

Relations with Turkey, an important Muslim ally, have suffered severely. A group of top international judges and human rights investigators recently called for an inquiry into Israel’s actions in Gaza. “Israel Apartheid Week” drew participants in 54 cities around the world this month, twice the number of last year, according to its organizers. And even in the American Jewish community, albeit in its liberal wing, there is a chill.

The issue has not gone unnoticed here, but it has generated two distinct and somewhat contradictory reactions. On one hand, there is real concern. Global opinion surveys are being closely examined and the Foreign Ministry has been granted an extra $2 million to improve Israel’s image through cultural and information diplomacy.

“We will send well-known novelists and writers overseas, theater companies, exhibits,” said Arye Mekel, the ministry’s deputy director general for cultural affairs. “This way you show Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war.”

But there is also a growing sense that outsiders do not understand Israel’s predicament, so criticism is dismissed.

i was thinking about this problem of apathy here in the west bank, which is related to the ways in which israeli terrorists and their palestinian collaborators have exhausted the people. instead of fighting or resisting in any way so many numb themselves shopping for the latest fashion, music, watching television, anything to escape. but it seems different in gaza. this week i had the pleasure of doing a guest lecture for a literature class at the islamic university of gaza. the students were so completely different than my students here. all of them had done the reading. all of them had thought about the reading. all of them had something unique and interesting to say in relation to the readings. they had read mary rowlandson’s narrative of captivity, which is a story about a white colonist in north america who lived in “captivity” when american indians captured her on their native land (what is now massachusetts). the students made some really interesting comparisons between their real captivity in the world’s largest prison that is gaza and the kind that we see with rowlandson, which is more akin to the israeli terrorist that hamas has been holding in gaza for the past few years (who i refuse to name because the colonizer is always named, never the colonized victims). i talked to them about the difference between this narrative and those written and spoken (through orature and speeches) by native americans. these differences are significant to be sure. we talked about this as resistance literature, but i asked them to think about the narrative style of rowlandson’s writing–sentimental–and how that might be adopted form the same ends as lakota writer zitkala-sa used, for instance. some students talked about how warped it was that this woman is seeking sympathy when it is she who was occupying indigenous land. others used it to talk about how hypocritical western feminism is given that being a participant in colonialism should be antithetical to feminism. we discussed comparisons in settler colonialism in the americas and palestine and how both were founded upon zionist ideology. there was so much more we discussed, but the main point is that these students, when i made comparisons to palestinian culture, literature, history they all got the references. their body of knowledge is vastly different than my students’ (lack) of knowledge. they got the comparisons and built on it. they were able to transform this colonial narrative and think about how it could be used to suit their needs and desires to use culture as a part of their overall resistance to colonialism in their land.

this is one of the many reasons why i think it is important to teach writings of people who have been colonized and who resisted it, like ngũgĩ, in addition to the work of the colonizers. in order to understand how colonization works at the level of culture one must know it from both standpoints. we need to understand the role that culture plays in resistance and continue to harness that. and we need to understand that palestinian culture does not stop at the european-israeli-american imposed borders. likewise, ngũgĩ tells us of a similar phenomenon in africa:

These languages, these national heritages of Africa, were kept alive by the peasantry. The peasantry saw no contradiction between speaking their own mother-tongues and belonging to a larger national or continental geography. They saw no necessary antagonistic contradiction between belonging to their immediate nationality, to their multinational state along the Berlin-drawn boundaries, and to Africa as a whole. These people happily spoke Wolof, Hausa, Yoruba, Ibo, Arabic, Amharic, Kiswahili, Gĩkũyũ, Luo, Luhya, Shona, Ndebele, Kimbundu, Zulu or Lingala without this fact tearing the multinational states apart. During the anti-colonial struggle the showed an unlimited capacity to unite around whatever leader or party best and most consistently articulated an anti-imperialist position. If anything it was the petty-bourgeoisie, particularly the compradors, with their French and English and Portuguese, with their petty rivalries, their ethnic chauvinism, which encouraged vertical division tot he point of war at times. No, the peasantry had no complexes about their languages and the cultures they carried! (23)

sound familiar? can we not learn the lessons of divide and rule from other contexts and moments in time? can we not apply them elsewhere? this is what the children of soweto resisted when they decided they would not allow afrikaans to be the medium of instruction in their schools. this is why they created their intifada. where is the new intifada here?

this is also why there is a renewed call for a cultural boycott of the israeli terrorist state by rahela mizrahi. you can read it in part below (click on link for the rest) and you can read samah idris’ arabic translation by clicking this link.

The world must break its silence over Israel’s crimes of 1948. It must start using the word apartheid to describe Israel’s political, economic and social structure, as was recently called for by the President of the U.N. General Assembly, Father Miguel d’Escoto Brockman. And the world must support the call by Civil Society to apply to Israel the same strategies that were effective in ending Apartheid in South Africa—Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

As an international institution in its own right, UNESCO’s maintenance of its own standards requires it to revoke Israel’s membership. In tandem with this act, supporting academic and cultural boycott of Israel would be a vital expression of UNESCO’s commitment to its stated goal of contributing to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture, promoting universal respect for justice, human rights and the fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the UN Charter.

If order to have a practical impact, the boycott must be wide enough to influence the daily lives of the Israelis and the world’s most respected cultural workers. Without this boycott strongly in place, the hypocrite beetle Paul McCartney visited Israel recently, as did the African singer Cesaria Evora, as if Africa was not under the same colonial oppression. Mercedes Sosa, who sings about the dispossession of indigenous people in Latin America, came to Israel to entertain the people who commit genocide against the Palestinian people. There are many other artists like them. And meanwhile, Israeli musicians, artists, and curators are welcomed all over the world because international institutions have not questioned their presence in the international community.

The world needs a culture of Boycott, a culture that refuses to turn a blind eye to genocide in the name of art, a culture that takes a moral stance towards Zionism and its crimes, and changes the public and official discourse. UNESCO’s support of cultural boycott would support this trend, and help to deter and halt the role of cultural expression in reinforcing systemic violence.

spring comes to falasteen: hiking from beit rima to kufr ‘ain

view of ramallah's manara square at 6 am
view of ramallah's manara square at 6 am

in 30 minutes, if i go by palestinian time, i will be 40 years old (probably before i finish writing this). if i go by my home town of los angeles i’ve still got about 10 hours left. in any case i suppose it is a milestone. i’m not really one to celebrate my birthday. but it does seem strange to turn 40 especially when i don’t look like i’m 40 (and often still get carded in the u.s.) and when i don’t feel like i’m 40. though today i remembered one of the ways that one knows one is getting older: you think your body can do the same things it did when you were 20 or even 30 and it just doesn’t quite work the same. you’ll see what i mean below as i explain. i went down to ramallah last night and friends took me out to dinner at darna and i had all kinds of kibbe and other yummy food, including a lovely chocolate birthday cake. i had asked an old friend of mine in ramallah if he would do something with me for my birthday (not the cake and dinner actually): i wanted him to get up at 5:30 in the morning with me to go on a hike. anyone who knows this friend (hint, hint laila) knows that it is a huge sacrifice for him to do this (he is like me, normally up until 3 or 4 am working, often falling asleep on the couch after/while working. we had been talking about doing this for a while.

in beit rima
in beit rima

raja shahedeh, the writer and lawyer who founded al haq, wrote a book a couple of years ago called palestinian walks. since writing this book–or actually before it–he started taking groups on these “walks” (having been on one now i think the name should be changed to palestinian hikes. since he is based in ramallah they seem to do these hikes around this area so they meet on friday mornings at 6:30 am in the center of ramallah. he doesn’t always come, and he did not come today, but many of his friends were there guiding us who, like shehedeh, have been hiking in these hills for at least 25 years. here is shehedeh sharing some photographs and narrating his love of hiking in palestine:

and here is an interesting report from jacky rowland on al jazeera from a couple of years ago when the book came out. she went on one of these walks with him and they encountered israeli terrorists along the way (something that happens frequently, though we did not encounter them today):

i was especially happy that we chose today to go on the hike because my birthday happens to be on the first day of spring and we have already seen a number of signs of spring in the lovely wildflowers all over palestine. but of course i knew that on foot we would see so many more varieties. after meeting up with the rest of the group in manara square we got into two services and drove for about 20 minutes to beit rima where we would begin our journey. (last night sami told me that this village is a very famous village for its communism, something one could happily glean from the graffiti on the walls.) like most of palestine the hike meant moving down into the valley and then circling around and climbing up to the top again to reach kufr ‘ain.

the hiking begins!
the hiking begins!

i had imagined that some of it would be a bit treacherous because of the rocky terrain. but little did i know how challenging some of this would be. initially it was a lovely stroll and all of us constantly stopping to take photographs of the beautiful flowers and herbs along the hillside. hanan ashrawi’s husband, emile, was on this trip with us and he is a professional photographer so he was cataloging everything. the olive trees were also amazing, of course, on so many levels as you can see from some of the shots here. one of my students is writing her research paper on the symbolism of the olive tree in palestine and something so simple struck me today as i saw some of these ancient, sturdy trees clinging to the land: one of the reasons they are such an important symbol is because they embody the steadfastness of the palestinian people. no matter what these trees are here to stay. the israeli terrorists can continue to uproot them, but palestinians will replant them again and again. and in the end the olive trees will outlive these colonists just as they outlived the british and the ottomans.

a view of the valley
a view of the valley

because of all the picture taking at some point our group broke into two. but our group didn’t realize it because we had a couple of the group leaders in our group. and we actually thought that we were in the middle and that part of the group was behind us. we had to catch up with them which is when the real hiking and climbing began. a lot of the time when hiking in these hills you can manage, most of the time, by doing so in an s-shape so that you follow the slope and you don’t have to climb. but because we were rushing now to catch up, we had to cut across the landscape in a way that meant we had to do some climbing. and i mean some really steep climbing. (this is when i knew my body was not quite the same any more in terms of being able to just jump or reach and climb easily with all my joints cooperating.) all of these hills are terraced with stones, as you can see in the shots showing a view. this is how palestinians have kept their olive groves for centuries. but i have a new found respect for the difficulty of doing such work now. especially since some of those terraced stones helped us climb up some very steep hills.

samidoun zeitoun
samidoun zeitoun

it took us a while to find the rest of the group. we actually had to do some extra climbing up to another mountain top to try to see the rest of the group and also to see if our voices would echo across the valley so we could find them that way. we finally found them and they had built a fire and laid out a lovely picnic spread and served tea. (the teapot was amazing–all charred and black as it has obviously been used on these hikes quite a bit.) after a rest we continued our hike. it seemed like the more we hiked the more beautiful wildflowers we discovered. and, of course, lots of za’tar and marimiyya dotted the landscape. most of us picked some to bring home to eat and drink.

flowers blossoming in an olive tree
flowers blossoming in an olive tree

the rest of the hike was not quite as treacherous as the first part–even the climb into kufr ‘ain was not too bad, not too steep. when we arrived we walked to the center of town where families were out working in their fields and on their land, where children were playing, and we caught services back into ramallah. the weather was so perfect today–not quite warm, but just right for hiking. really a beautiful day. i saw the best that spring has to offer. and despite our exhaustion (i forgot to mention that we were up until 2 am last night and woke up at 5:30 am this morning) we had an amazing time.

when hiking turns to climbing (straight up from below)
when hiking turns to climbing (straight up from below)

so now it is midnight. if i count by a palestinian clock i am 40. i did not get to celebrate my birthday with all my friends thursday night and today. mostly because even in the west bank travel is too difficult so everyone stays in their own bantustans (i actually found out that one of my students has never been to or through huwara checkpoint in her twenty years of life in nablus). if i had had birthday candles on my cake last night instead of one of those sparkler things i would have wished what i always wish for: haq al awda. for the right of return of palestinian refugees and for the liberation of their land 100%. part of this wish, i must confess, i selfish, however. i want to be able to be here in palestine with all my friends, with all the people i love from lebanon and palestine in the same room. that would be a beautiful birthday beyond my wildest dreams. to that end i have asked that if people want to give me anything for my 40th birthday i would love it if they would make a donation to the middle east children’s alliance to continue its work in refugee camps and also for the rebuilding the islamic university of gaza. to donate, please click on this link. their work to fight for the rights of refugees is unparalleled and their work is based on complete solidarity with the people; unlike most such organizations they do not treat palestinians as if they are some charity case whom the white man needs to save.

break for tea
break for tea

but today is not just my birthday. it is mother’s day in the arab world. it is also norooz in iran. it is also the anniversary of the american invasion of iraq. and it is also the anniversary of the sharpeville massacre in apartheid south africa:

But whatever doubts there may be of the sequence of events in those fateful minutes, there can be no argument over the devastating consequences of the action of the police on March 21, 1960, in Sharpeville. Sixty-nine people were killed, including eight women and ten children, and of the 180 people who were wounded, thirty-one were women and nineteen were children. According to the evidence of medical practitioners it is clear that the police continued firing after the people began to flee: for, while thirty shots had entered the wounded or killed from the front of their bodies no less than 155 bullets had entered the bodies of the injured and killed from their backs. All this happened in forty seconds, during which time 705 rounds were fired from revolvers and sten guns. But whatever weapons were used the massacre was horrible. Visiting the wounded the next day in Baragwanath Hospital near Johannesburg, I discovered youngsters, women and elderly men among the injured. These could not be described as agitators by any stretch of the imagination. For the most part they were ordinary citizens who had merely gone to the Sharpeville police station to see what was going on. Talking with the wounded I found that everyone was stunned and mystified by what had taken place. They had certainly not expected that anything like this would happen. All agreed that there was no provocation for such savage action by the police. Indeed, they insisted that the political organisers who had called for the demonstration had constantly insisted that there should be no violence or fighting.

haidar eid reminds us that this massacre, however, was a significant turning point to end apartheid and he connects this with the savagery in gaza, which he sees as a turning point as well (i have quoted this before a few times, click the link to see the connections between the two):

The horror of the racist apartheid regime in South Africa was challenged with a sustained campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions initiated in 1958 and given new urgency in 1960 after the Sharpeville Massacre. This campaign led ultimately to the collapse of white rule in 1994 and the establishment of a multi-racial, democratic state.

an old palestinian home in the hills close to kufr 'ain
an old palestinian home in the hills close to kufr 3ain

one can only hope that the end is near of the zionist entity. i just hope it is not another 30 years as it was from sharpeville to the end of apartheid. because of this anniversary it seems that my birthday is also something else that is pretty cool as outlined in this email i received from badil today:

March 21 was selected as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination because it is the day in 1960 when police forces killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid “pass law” system in Sharpeville, South Africa.

Today an equal if not more extensive pass law system dominates the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It is briefly described in a February 2009 UN report, which attests to the existence of 626 checkpoints and obstacles to movement throughout the West Bank. Israel additionally disregards the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice calling for the dismantlement of Israel’s illegal wall, which snakes over 700 kilometers through the West Bank, stealing its natural resources and dividing Palestinian communities from one another.

Indeed, Israel’s system of racial discrimination is fundamental to the regime it has imposed on the Palestinian people. It denies the return of over seven million Palestinian refugees to the homes and lands from which they were expelled over the past sixty years despite the fact that return is a right enshrined in international law and affirmed by UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (1948) and UN Security Council Resolution 237 (1967). Meanwhile, Israel grants full citizenship to any Jewish individual through its discriminatory ‘Law of Return.’ This same regime relegates Palestinian citizens of Israel to an inferior status as the ‘non Jewish’ citizens of ‘the Jewish state.’ The effects of this discrimination include ongoing forced displacement, land confiscation, and denial of essential services such as health and education.

The UN’s Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racial discrimination, Mr. Githu Muigai recently noted that “History speaks for itself. Genocide, ethnic cleansing and other war crimes have been traditionally linked to the emergence of exclusionary ideologies based on race or ethnicity.” Zionism, the movement to create and maintain a
Jewish state on the land of Palestine, is such an ideology, systematically relegating non-Jewish Palestinians to an inferior status.

The recent brutality inflicted upon the Gaza Strip resulting in over 1,400 deaths, 5,000 injuries and 14,000 homes damaged and destroyed, is the latest manifestation of the contempt with which Palestinian life is regarded by Israel.

Perhaps more important than recollecting the extensive evidence incriminating Israel’s discrimination and its disastrous affects on the Palestinians is to shed light on the popular mobilizations fighting to counter it.

Governmental inaction towards Israel’s crimes is increasingly being met with a determined and growing popular campaign to build an international Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement against Israel, based upon a 2005 call by broad sectors of Palestinian civil society. Consciously using the tools of the South African anti-apartheid struggle, this
campaign seeks to make important advances at the Israel Review Conference being organized by the BDS National Committee, to be held in Geneva, Switzerland on 18-19 April, two days before the launching of the UN Durban Review Conference (See: http://israelreview.bdsmovement.net).

Now is the time for people of conscience to join arms through the struggle of BDS to ensure Israel is held accountable for its violation of Palestinian human rights. This is part of the tradition of the Montgomery Bus Boycott for civil rights in the U.S south, and the dock workers of Denmark and the U.K, who refused to handle South African cargo as an act of protest against Apartheid. From these previous people’s victories we gain inspiration knowing that no serious effort to
eliminate racial discrimination can take place on a global scale without progress on this front.

me at 40
me at 40

so i feel no different at 40 than 39, not that i thought i would. but as with every year of my life i feel more committed to a liberated palestine as my sole desire. i want the beauty of this land that i walked on today to be enjoyed, inhabited by the people i love in the camps in lebanon. i want all these colonies to go away, to be dismantled, including those we had to drive by on our way home (see below–including the last one, which is an “outpost,” meaning a new and growing colony for israeli terrorists). i want this land to be theirs again. from the river to the sea.

chickens in kufr 'ain
chickens in kufr 'ain
israeli terrorist colony near kufr 'ain
israeli terrorist colony near kufr 'ain
israeli terrorist "outpost" settlement on the way to bir zeit

more bds wrap up

i’m bummed that i haven’t had time to blog for the past couple of days because there is such exciting boycott, divestment, and sanctions news going on. but i’m visiting friends in deheishe refugee camp this weekend and so short on time. so i’ll just post some updates with links below…

the most exciting news, of course, is that the students of new york university have followed their colleagues in the united kingdom and the university of rochester and hampshire college and they have occupied their university. it seems from their blog that the university is being extremely harsh and cracking down on them at present. but they must be supported and commended. their statement is utterly brilliant. it reads:

NYU is the latest university to join a wave of global student occupations in the name of student empowerment. The Kimmel Center for University life is official a reclaimed space.

Demands

We, the students of NYU, declare an occupation of this space. This occupation is the culmination of a two-year campaign by the Take Back NYU! coalition, and of campaigns from years past, in whose footsteps we follow.

In order to create a more accountable, democratic and socially responsible university, we demand the following:

1. Full legal and disciplinary amnesty for all parties involved in the occupation.

2. Full compensation for all employees whose jobs were disrupted during the course of the occupation.

3. Public release of NYU’s annual operating budget, including a full list of university expenditures, salaries for all employees compensated on a semester or annual basis, funds allocated for staff wages, contracts to non-university organizations for university construction and services, financial aid data for each college, and money allocated to each college, department, and administrative unit of the university. Furthermore, this should include a full disclosure of the amount and sources of the university’s funding.

4. Disclosure of NYU’s endowment holdings, investment strategy, projected endowment growth, and persons, corporations and firms involved in the investment of the university’s endowment funds. Additionally, we demand an endowment oversight body of students, faculty and staff who exercise shareholder proxy voting power for the university’s investments.

5. That the NYU Administration agrees to resume negotiations with GSOC/UAW Local 2110 – the union for NYU graduate assistants, teaching assistants, and research assistants. That NYU publicly affirm its commitment to respect all its workers, including student employees, by recognizing their right to form unions and to bargain collectively. That NYU publicly affirm that it will recognize workers’ unions through majority card verification.

6. That NYU signs a contract guaranteeing fair labor practices for all NYU employees at home and abroad. This contract will extend to subcontracted workers, including bus drivers, food service employees and anyone involved in the construction, operation and maintenance at any of NYU’s non-U.S. sites.

7. The establishment of a student elected Socially Responsible Finance Committee. This Committee will have full power to vote on proxies, draft shareholder resolutions, screen all university investments, establish new programs that encourage social and environmental responsibility and override all financial decisions the committee deems socially irresponsible, including investment decisions. The committee will be composed of two subcommittees: one to assess the operating budget and one to assess the endowment holdings. Each committee will be composed of ten students democratically elected from the graduate and under-graduate student bodies. All committee decisions will be made a strict majority vote, and will be upheld by the university. All members of the Socially Responsible Finance Committee will sit on the board of trustees, and will have equal voting rights. All Socially Responsible Finance Committee and Trustee meetings shall be open to the public, and their minutes made accessible electronically through NYU’s website. Elections will be held the second Tuesday of every March beginning March 10th 2009, and meetings will be held biweekly beginning the week of March 30th 2009.

8. That the first two orders of business of the Socially Responsible Finance committee will be:

a) An in depth investigation of all investments in war and genocide profiteers, as well as companies profiting from the occupation of Palestinian territories.

b) A reassessment of the recently lifted of the ban on Coca Cola products.

9. That annual scholarships be provided for thirteen Palestinian students, starting with the 2009/2010 academic year. These scholarships will include funding for books, housing, meals and travel expenses.

10. That the university donate all excess supplies and materials in an effort to rebuild the University of Gaza.

11. Tuition stabilization for all students, beginning with the class of 2012. All students will pay their initial tuition rate throughout the course of their education at New York University. Tuition rates for each successive year will not exceed the rate of inflation, nor shall they exceed one percent. The university shall meet 100% of government-calculated student financial need.

12. That student groups have priority when reserving space in the buildings owned or leased by New York University, including, and especially, the Kimmel Center.

13. That the general public have access to Bobst Library.

SOLIDARITY STATEMENT

We, the students of Take Back NYU! declare our solidarity with the student occupations in Greece, Italy, and the United Kingdom, as well as those of the University of Rochester, the New School for Social Research, and with future occupations to come in the name of democracy and student power. We stand in solidarity with the University of Gaza, and with the people of Palestine.

from their website it seems as if they have already ended their occupation, which is disappointing as it does not seem as if their demands have been met. stay tuned.

there is also hope that a sports boycott is burgeoning with the recent news of an israeli terrorist tennis player being banned from playing in dubai. will on kabobfest shows why this is necessary and why sports are indeed political:

I want to add a more forceful argument after Abou Mack’s post on this subject. While he has doubt about a sports boycott, I am fully supportive, in principle and in this case in particular.

1. The star tennis player joined the Israeli military in 2005 and went through basic training.

2. Her induction was used for PR purposes by the military.

3. She served in the “IDF program for outstanding athletes.”

4. The Israeli military is a belligerent occupying force that has violated international law consistently in various forms since its inception.

5. By willingly serving and putting hr public image to the military’s use, she abetted violations of international law.

6. The Israeli military recently killed more than 1000 Palestinians, the majority of whom were civilians.

7. There is an active, organized boycott movement that makes clear demands and is part of a political program. It was launched by Palestinian civil society in 2005.

8. She has shown no understanding for why people would be angry to see a former IDF soldier after the Gaza offensive. Her statement claims she is a victim of discrimination. She has not made any comment regarding the immobility of Palestinian athletes living under the occupation forces she served for.

kim peterson on dissident voices offers more context on the sports boycott, in which he says, in part:

At the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, 26 nations boycotted the inclusion of Aotearoa (New Zealand) for maintaining sporting relations with the the apartheid states of Rhodesia and South Africa.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided that segregation on a state’s Olympic teams was wrong. South Africa was expelled by the IOC in 1970.

It is a widely held view that Israel is an apartheid state. A distinction has been made between South African apartheid and Israeli apartheid, in that the latter is more insidious, being premised on committing genocide. The recent slaughter in Gaza is but another demonstration of the genocidal intent of the Zionists.

The Palestinian Sports Foundation, Atlas, accused apartheid-state Israel of targeting Palestinian athletes, a violation of the IOC Charter.

Tennis Principles

Tennis was not so stringent against sporting links with apartheid regimes. It did ban South Africa from international play in 1970 Davis Cup, which re-instated South Africa won in 1974, after India refused to play it in the final. South Africa was again barred from team competition, but individual South Africans were allowed to play on the pro tours.

The WTO chairman voiced concern about fair treatment for Peer.

Peer said in a statement to the AP, “I am very disappointed that I have been prevented from playing in the Dubai tournament. I think a red line has been crossed here that could harm the purity of the sport and other sports. I have always believed that politics and sports should not be mixed.”

Unfortunately, Peer is, indeed, a victim here. Nonetheless, one wonders what Peer believes about human rights for Palestinians, victims of her country’s government’s racist policies. What does she think about the fact that Israeli Jews are living on land that they violently dispossessed the indigenous Palestinians of? What does she think of the red line that Israeli Jews crossed when they invaded and slaughtered Gazans?

What has priority: that a person is not barred from playing a game or that Palestinians are not barred from living in peace and dignity? Does justice for Peer, the individual, take precedence over the fate of an entire people? Peer has an opportunity, few people are so meaningfully presented in life, to sacrifice her love of playing tennis to bring attention to the plight of an oppressed people. Her silence about the plight of Gazans and her right to play tennis speak loudly.

and for some analysis of why the israeli terrorist dance company is being boycotted on its tour here is an article from the editor of the dance insider by paul ben-itzak:

So Ohad Naharin, rather self-servingly and — for someone who claims the mantle of artist to confer on himself a sort of moral immunity — cynically, thinks that “it’s not really going to make a difference to boycott a dance company.” A month and a half and 1,000 victims ago, I pointed out that the question was not whether a dance company should be singled out for boycott, but whether a dance company should get a get-out-of-boycott free card. What’s so special, after all, about Ohad Naharin and Batsheva that they should merit such an exemption? Has Naharin, all of whose company, including himself, have served in the Israeli army, voiced any kind of objection to what his country has wrought that would lead us to believe he’s not among the 90 percent of Israelis who supported those actions? No. But today, in the context of a PR campaign that seeks to distort the cruel Israeli reality by distracting us with images of (largely feminine) beauty, I would say that not only is Batsheva guilty of doing nothing to oppose its country’s violence, but as a government-sponsored self-proclaimed ambassador of Israel, it is culpable in Israel’s campaign to (literally) white-wash its bloody image. “I think artists belong to a group of people who don’t represent the ugly side of Israel,” Naharin says. Exactly. And this image is a lie. This is not America, where roughly 50 percent — sometimes more, sometimes less — opposed the Bush government’s illegal and murderous war on Iraq, and where numerous artists didn’t just impotently wring their hands about the violence on both sides but risked their careers to publicly denounce their own government’s actions. This is Israel, where 90 percent — *90 percent*! — supported a policy in which civilians, including on internationally protected grounds, including women, children, and non-combatant men, were targeted and killed. (You aim at an obviously civilian facility, car, or home; you fire lethal weapons at it; you block medical aid from getting to the survivors — voila, you’re targeting civilians.) And where Ohad Naharin has not publicly denounced his country’s actions. Brand Israel? I say that today, the Israel brand has come to represent genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and anything but Jewish values, never mind the Israeli rabbis who try to justify the killing of Arabs. I say that Israel and its ambassadors, including the ‘artistic’ ones like Ohad Naharin and his company, are now branded with the mark of Cain. I say, let’s boycott this company and make it and any other representative of its country — no matter how superficially beautiful — a vagabond and a fugitive on the Earth until it stops slaying its brother.

and here is an example of something that must be boycotted:

Quite extraordinarily, the Science Museum in London and the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry have both been made available (on 3 and 5 March respectively) for an event called “Israel Day of Science”. The museums argue they are not sponsoring the event, but have merely hired out their premises. This subtle distinction is unlikely to be appreciated by the many thousands of all ages and faiths who have repeatedly taken to the streets round the country to protest against Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

The event is promoted by the Zionist Federation and is designed to showcase the scientific achievements of seven Israeli universities. But all of these are complicit in the Israeli occupation and in the policies and weaponry so recently deployed to such disastrous effect in Gaza. To take just one example, Tel Aviv University, in its most recent annual review, states that “the Israel ministry of defence is currently funding 55 projects at TAU”, which “is playing a major role in enhancing Israel’s security capabilities and military edge”. The head of TAU’s security studies programme was a former director of the R&D directorate of the Israel ministry of defence. He holds the rank of major-general in the Israel Defence Forces and is a member of the Knesset.

and adalah is calling for a lev leviev diamond boycott at the oscars coming up:

Adalah-NY and Jews Against the Occupation-NYC (JATO-NYC) have called on 16 Hollywood PR firms and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to ensure that no stars wear Leviev diamonds at this Sunday’s Academy Awards. In a two week campaign involving letters and dozens of phone discussions with PR firms, the groups drew attention to Leviev’s violations of human rights and international law in the occupied West Bank where his companies build Israeli settlements, and in the diamond industry in Angola and Namibia. Leviev reportedly controls one third of the world’s diamond mines.

The 16 PR firms contacted include six firms representing the ten nominees for best actress and best supporting actress, and representatives for many other female stars. The PR firms acknowledged receiving the Adalah-NY/JATO-NYC letter, and a number of the firms said the letter had been circulated among their senior staff. In a February 18th phone call with Adalah-NY, a press spokesman for the Oscars also said they had received Adalah-NY and JATO-NYC’s letter, but had no comment on the letter’s appeal to ban Leviev’s jewelry, or the groups’ assertion that “the presence of Leviev jewelry at the Academy Awards would taint the events with complicity in Leviev’s companies’ egregious” human rights violations.

queer activists in san francisco are also calling for boycott of the tel aviv film festival:

Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT!), a San Francisco Bay Area solidarity group, is calling on international Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans and Queer filmmakers not to participate in the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival this June. QUIT!’s call for filmmakers to respect the cultural boycott of Israel initiated by more than 100 organizations of Palestinian civil society. The call has been joined by members of South West Asian and North African Bay Area Queers (SWANABAQ) and a founder of Trikone, the largest South Asian LGBT organization in the world.

all of this solidarity is amazing and glen ford expresses it beautifully in his article on black agenda report this week:

African Americans must take a leadership role in the movement to boycott and disinvest in Israel, both for reasons of elemental justice and to defend our own people from the raging rightwing, corporate assault, of which the pro-Israel lobby is an integral component. If solidarity with Palestinians who suffer the aggressions of a regime as fundamentally racist as apartheid South Africa is not a compelling enough reason – and it surely is – then self-defense against Zionist subversion of domestic Black politics should move us to action. There can be no prospect of global peace or domestic progress while Israel runs amok in the Mid-East and its operatives wreak havoc in the African American political arena.

The moral imperative to answer the call “to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era,” is overwhelming – so much so that failure to act amounts to a kind of self-mutilation, a defiling of one’s legacy. Every iota of African American past and present existence tells us that no people can be allowed to superimpose themselves, their history, their supra-national rights on another people and their land, thus negating the Other’s humanity – the essential facts of Zionism.

“There can be no prospect of global peace or domestic progress while Israel runs amok.”

1948 saw the creation of civilization’s greatest document to date – possibly the founding document of the truly modern era – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The year also witnessed the founding of a state based on the antithesis of those values: Israel.

Both Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. tapped the deep reservoirs of the Declaration in their struggle for African Americans’ human rights, and both understood the indivisibility of freedom. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” wrote Dr. King in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” Malcolm counseled Black activists that “if they would expand their civil rights movement to a human rights movement it would internationalize it.”

and for those who need reminding about why bds is essential here are some of israel’s latest terrorist acts:

Israeli police and soldiers uprooted more than 100 newly-planted olive trees from privately-owned Palestinian land in the West Bank village of Al-Jab’a, southwest of Bethlehem.

According to witnesses, between 10am and noon on Thursday, Israeli personnel uprooted each of the young trees individually, along with plastic protective tubes and wooden stakes.

Israeli jet fighters bombarded on Thursday midday areas along the Gaza-Egypt border, Palestinians sources reported.

The Israeli Army stated that the attacks targeted underground tunnels at the border line, Palestinian sources reported no injures.

Hours after the Israeli cabinet decided not to enter a truce deal with Gaza-based resistance factions, Israeli tanks rolled into eastern Gaza city and opened heavy random fire on Palestinian residents in southern Rafah city.

The Al Qassam brigades, armed wing of the ruling Hamas party in Gaza, said in a statement emailed to media outlets, that its fighters clashed with Israeli tanks advancing into the eastern parts of Gaza city, with no causalities reported.

Also on Thursday morning, Israeli tanks opened heavy and random fire on Palestinian residential areas in Rafah city, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Witnesses said that Israeli tanks, stationed near the Kerem Shalom crossing, opened fire abruptly into the area; no injuries were reported.

Israeli media sources reported earlier on Thursday that an Israeli army unit on the Gaza-Israel border line in southern Gaza, spotted, wounded and arrested a Palestinian, while he was attempting to plant an explosive device near the Kerem Shalom crossing.

Israeli troops seized seven Palestinians from Nablus and the village of Asira Ash-Shamailya, north of the city, on Thursday.

and while the world focuses on one israeli terrorist who remains in gaza as some sort of deal breaker for ending the siege of gaza, check out the latest information about palestinian child political prisoners:

Palestinian researcher, specializing in detainees’ affairs, Awni Farawna, stated that the Israeli Army has kidnapped a total of 7,600 Palestinian children, males and females, since the year 2000; 246 children are still behind bars.

At least 200 of the kidnapped children were detained under administrative detention, without charges or trial. Some of the children were as young as 12 years old.

One detainee is now 13 months old as he was born behind bars. His mother, Fatima Al Zoq, was kidnapped while pregnant, and gave birth in prison while she was handcuffed and her legs were tied to the hospital bed.

Farawna stated that Israel’s targeting of children is a policy that targets childhood and a healthy growth, and expressed concern over the fate of the detained children as they are subjected to different sorts of violations, including torture and isolation, which affects their growth, physical and psychological conditions, in addition to affecting their education.

Hundreds of children were cut off schools due to being imprisoned; hundreds of detainees were kidnapped when they were children and grew up behind bars. Many of them have spent more years behind bars than with their families.

Several detained children were sexually abused and violated by interrogators and soldiers, while a number of Israeli prisoners, held for criminal violations, also attacked them.

Farawna stated that international law and treaties regarding children forbid barring children from their freedom, forbid torturing and violating them, and call for providing them with a healthy environment, education, mental and physical care, and calls for providing them with the needed recreation.

On the ground, Israel is ongoing with kidnapping Palestinian children, imprisoning and torturing them. At least 93 percent of the detained children were tortured, physically and mentally, and were forced to sign confessions which were used later on in Israeli courts.

Farawna added that the detained children are treated by the soldiers and the interrogators as adults, which comes in direct violation of international law and international human rights.

Many children were arrested more than one time before they reached the age of 18; others were kidnapped as children, and grew up to be young men and women while they were in prison.

Several children who grew up in prison and were released later on are having difficulties in coping with the outside world; some became violent and tend to seek vengeance.

Some of the abuse practices against the detained Palestinian children are in the form of sexual harassment, threat of rape, forcing them to undress and having pictures taken of them naked, and threats of more harm if they do not become collaborators with the occupation.

Farawna demanded international human rights groups to intervene and put pressure on Israel in order to oblige Israel to comply with international law and the fourth Geneva Convention.

He said that the children should be back in school, not in cells, and that the daily violence they witness, the arrest of their parents, the death and destruction they witnessed before being kidnapped, is also affecting their growth and behavior.

The ongoing Israeli violations are creating a generation of Palestinians who seek vengeance, a generation that is willing to join the resistance at an early age, a generation of youths who have nothing more to lose after the occupation took their childhood, tortured and abused them, in addition to imprisoning them for extended periods.

The Israeli military says that 10 Palestinians were detained in overnight raids across the West Bank.

Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that Israeli troops raided several areas in Nablus, including the Old City, detaining Mahmoud Taher Samaro, Na’el Khamis Awad and Ashraf Al-Qurdy, 22.

In Asira Ash-Shamailya, local sources said that Israeli troops seized three residents after raiding their houses: Ala Awwad Ash-Sholi, 31, Ammar Jarar’a, 25, and Ubay Hamadneh, age unknown.

Marwan Mahmoud Hassan Hamdah, 25, was detained from Al-Ain refugee camp, in the west of Nablus.

Rebuilding the Islamic University of Gaza

note: below is an article that i wrote with my colleague at the isalmic university of gaza. at the bottom of the email are details about how you can help financially and within the article are ways you can help in other ways.

Akram Habeeb and Marcy Newman, The Electronic Intifada, 16 February 2009

Since Israel’s bombing of the buildings housing scientific laboratories at the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) on 28 December, the rubble that remains debunks Israeli claims that those labs were used to manufacture weapons. Of course such allegations are preposterous; indeed it would be quite foolish for IUG to even entertain the notion of producing weapons given the way in which Palestinian universities have been under constant Israeli attack since the founding of Birzeit University in the West Bank in 1975.

Rather, it is Israeli universities that contain the laboratories where the weaponry used to destroy Palestinian lives in Gaza and elsewhere is developed. In the 14 June 2007 issue of The Nation, US journalist Naomi Klein makes it clear that the relationship between the State of Israel, its academic institutions and its military are intertwined:

“Thirty homeland security companies were launched in Israel in the past six months alone, thanks in large part to lavish government subsidies that have transformed the Israeli army and the country’s universities into incubators for security and weapons start-ups (something to keep in mind in the debates about the academic boycott).”

The way that Israel binds together its universities (all of which are state-run and funded) and its military can be gleaned from any number of Israeli universities and their laboratories, which serve as incubators of destruction while the Palestinian people inevitably become its guinea pigs. In a recent article in the Tel Aviv University Review (Winter 2008-2009) entitled “Lifting the Veil of Secrecy,” Gil Zohar lays out the collaboration between Israeli universities and Israel’s colonial military project quite clearly:

“… Tel Aviv University [TAU] is at the front line of the critical work to maintain Israel’s military and technological edge. While much of that research remains classified, several facts illuminate the role of the university. MAFAT, a Hebrew acronym meaning the [Research and Development] Directorate of the Israel Ministry of Defense, is currently funding 55 projects at TAU. Nine projects are being funded by DARPA — the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the US Department of Defense.”

What is significant is that the US government and its military are complicit in the research leading to the destruction and devastation of Palestinian lives through their funding of these research projects, projects that inevitably lead to acts of aggression such as the bombing of IUG.

IUG is an institution of higher education open not only to its 20,000 students, but also to the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza who visit its libraries and attend its lectures. USAID, the US government’s foreign aid agency, claims that it funded more than $900,000 of projects, which went into building IUG’s campus (see “Audit finds US funded university linked to terrorism,” The Chicago Tribune, 12 December 2007). In March 2007 The Washington Times published a propagandistic article, “School Linked to Hamas Gets US Cash,” charging that USAID did not follow US federal laws when financially assisting IUG, as well as Al-Quds University (famous for its normalizing relations with Israeli academia, although it recently promised to cease such joint projects). USAID conducted an audit in response to The Washington Times article that questioned $140,000 of USAID money awarded to the university and to 49 students who received scholarships. The article and the audit argued that funding a so-called “Hamas-controlled” university violates US federal law. As a result of this audit faculty and students at IUG have been prohibited from receiving US State Department funds — whether USAID-related funds for building, scholarships or the Palestinian Faculty Development Program. This is yet another method of destroying educational opportunities for Palestinians in Gaza over the course of the past few years.

It is difficult to assess at present how much of the damage sustained by IUG was built with USAID funds. Likewise, it is difficult to ascertain a direct link between military research projects at Tel Aviv University funded by Israel and the US and the destruction of IUG. But what is clear is that past educational opportunities, for individual faculty members and students as well as for expanding scientific studies in the form of building laboratories, coming from the US are no longer available to Palestinians affiliated with IUG. Moreover, the primary “living” testimony which verily refutes Israeli claims about IUG as a place for hiding or manufacturing weapons can be found in the rubble of its destroyed buildings, which were decimated with knowledge produced by American research projects at Israeli universities. The mountains of rubble call out to any investigation team to come, to dig, to excavate in order to prove that Israeli allegations are merely a pretext employed to destroy a prestigious academic institution in Palestine. The debris of the science lab buildings shows that beneath it were 74 laboratories serving the science and engineering students at IUG. These labs were places for diligent research and scientific experiments. They were a fountain of hope for impoverished students, many of whom were about to graduate.

The science and engineering lab buildings were not the only premises that were pounded by the Israelis with their American-made weapons. Many other university buildings housing sophisticated computer labs, classrooms, workshops and seminar rooms were also bombed. In spite of the tremendous damage inflicted on IUG, it will be rebuilt with the spirit of resiliency that we see in the young minds of our students. This role however cannot be sustained without the help of our colleagues from around the world. That academics have taken the decision to boycott Israel and support Palestinians given Israeli academia’s role in its continuous military aggression, offers a glimmer of hope for IUG.

IUG needs financial support to help it rebuild and re-equip its labs. But it does not just need charity. IUG faculty and students also require solidarity from their academic colleagues at institutions around the world to start partnerships in order to rehabilitate the rest of its premises. Projects such as collaborative video-conference courses, faculty and student exchange programs and scholarships for faculty and students are all important ways of lending solidarity to IUG. Equally important for our American colleagues is to remove the false label that IUG is a “Hamas-controlled” institution. Just as Palestinians in Gaza belong to a variety of political parties, IUG’s students, board, faculty and staff represent that reality. IUG is a university like any other in Palestine that reflects the diversity of its population. As with Israel’s propagandistic claims that it engaged in a “war with Hamas,” when they besiege all Palestinians living in Gaza, this classification of IUG hurts all Palestinians pursuing higher education. We call on our colleagues to work to rebuild IUG through their solidarity through which it can remain an edifice of light, love and learning.

Akram Habeeb, teaches literature at the Islamic University of Gaza and Marcy Newman teaches literature at An Najah National University. For more information about IUG reconstruction please visit http://www.iugaza.edu.ps/iugrec/en/. For more information about how you can help please email Marcy at marcynewman at riseup dot net or Akram at akramhabeeb at yahoo dot com.

***********************************

Here is a list of the specific damage to the labs:

General and diagnostic Microbiology (females)
General and diagnostic Microbiology (Males)
Practical Hematology, blood bank and genetics A (Males)
Practical Hematology, blood bank and genetics A (Males)

Genetic Lab:

Medical Technology B + C and Medical Chemistry (Females)
Medical Technology B + C and Medical Chemistry (Males)
Medical Technology B + C and Medical Chemistry (Males)

Physics labs:

General Physics A
General Physics B
Light Lab
Electronics lab
Radio physics lab
Researches Lab
Thermodynamic lab
Electromagnetic lab

Environmental and Earth Sciences labs:

Water and soil lab
Geochemistry and seas sciences
Mineral optics and stones
Layers and fossils lab
Environmental and Rural studies lab
Micro photography lab
Geophysics Lab
Environment and earth sciences lab
Center of Environmental and Rural studies
Environment and Earth sciences Museum

Biology Labs:

Parasites
Researches
Cells and tissues
Physiology
Vertebrates and invertebrates
Botany and fungal
Practical biology
Mouse Experiment farm

Biotechnology labs:

General biology
Micro technology lab
Cells chemistry and tissues lab
Environment and seas sciences + invertebrates lab
Parasites lab
Microbiology lab (Microbes)

Optics labs:

Visual examination lab
Optics lab
Optical equipments lab

Chemistry labs:

General chemistry lab
Analytic chemistry lab
Organic chemistry lab
Nonorganic chemistry lab
Physio-chemistry lab
Automatic analysis lab
Diagnosis lab
Researches lab

Engineering and IT building (23 labs):

Materials and soil testing lab
Area lab
Hydra lab
Soil lab
Plastic and Aluminum lab
Tar lab

Engineering labs:

Research and projects lab
Architectural Heritage Center
15 computer labs and electrical circles belong to Electrical and
Computer Engineering departments.

For more information about IUG reconstruction please visit:

http://www.iugaza.edu.ps/iugrec/en/

at the above website you may also find details about donating directly to the university.

If you would like to help rebuild IUG please send donations to the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) and indicate that you would like your funds to support IUG in the line item about the beneficiary:

https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?aid=1171

MECA plans to use the funds to replenish the labs at IUG with the money donated, especially by purchasing scientific equipment unavailable in Gaza.

what we can learn from children

togazawithlove

i was looking at the unrwa website the other day when i stumbled upon the above drawing and a related story about palestinian children in the west bank and in al quds organizing to send relief to palestinian children in gaza:

The goods collected represent much more than their vital practical value of nutrition and warmth to those who receive them. These collections are an expression of strong feelings of solidarity and compassion.

Along with food and blankets, students from the Rosary school included letters to the residents of Gaza in their aid consignment. In these letters the students spoke of love, shared dreams and a longing for unity.

“I know my ink won’t be the balm to your wounds, but I must be with you at least in my soul,” wrote one student.

While another simply stated “your dream is ours, together we can build all our hopes.”

and this film from unrwa shows the damage inflicted upon unrwa/united nations facilities and shows the children, now back in school, who are still dealing with the lingering trauma, trauma that will likely last a lifetime especially because its source can not be eradicated in the foreseeable future:

what is important, for me, about this story is not what is being sent, or how much is being sent, but the fact that it is being organized and sent. the fact that these children see the suffering of their peers in gaza and want to help. it reminded me of when divy was younger how he always came up with the most insightful, compassionate ideas that were completely removed from the political blockages that render adults impotent. we can always learn so much from children and yet we so rarely listen to them.

this struck me especially because i emailed people in the administration of my university to do something similar: to organize a solidarity visit to the islamic university of gaza (iug) and to collect aid. my idea was shot down. it seems that the israeli-american designation of iug as a hamas institution (which, of course, it’s not) keeps people from wanting to act in solidarity as palestinians, as academics, as students. it seems that past israeli terrorist attacks on an najah university have faded from memory here. and who is to say that next week or next year a bomb won’t be dropped on an najah? palestinian schools and universities have always been besieged by israeli terrorists with american weapons. part of the reason i was shot down seems to be the perception that they are getting help elsewhere. but really, my desire to “help” was not so much that i think iug cannot rebuild without the assistance of its colleagues at an najah; rather i wanted this to be an act of solidarity. but i suppose that is too much to ask for. to hope for.

it is especially amazing that it is such a challenge to mobilize genuine solidarity among people, students, faculty, anyone, really, when every day we see new efforts to mobilize such solidarity for gaza on university campuses around the world. at glasgow university students are occupying their university asking for particular demands to be met in relation to boycott and divestment. likewise students at the university of rochester are occupying their university with similar aims. in the independent today they likened the energy on university campuses to 1968:

Around the UK, thousands of students have occupied lecture theatres, offices and other buildings at more than 20 universities in sit-down protests. It seems that the spirit of 1968 has returned to the campus.

While it was the situation in Gaza that triggered this mass protest, the beginnings of political enthusiasm have already spread to other issues.

John Rose, one of the original London School of Economics (LSE) students to mount the barricades alongside Tariq Ali in 1968, spent last week giving lectures on the situation in Gaza at 12 of the occupations.

“This is something different to anything we’ve seen for a long time,” he said. “There is genuine fury at what Israel did.

“I think it’s highly likely that this year will see more student action. What’s interesting is the nervousness of vice chancellors and their willingness to concede demands; it indicates this is something that could well turn into [another] ’68.”

and in basque country there are municipalities organizing to sever ties with the israeli terrorist state.

dsc00008

i think that it is too much to ask for. yesterday when i was on my way home i noticed that the exhibit that i heard about had opened. i had heard that some students created an exhibit to illustrate the israeli terrorist aggression against gaza. so i went inside to check it out (all photos below and the one just above are from this exhibit). it turns out that just one student did the entire installation and he is from rafah. it was pretty amazing–he constructed an f-16 a tank, destroyed mosques and schools and homes. there were photographs down corridors of the murdered and massacred palestinians in gaza and lining the floor was an israeli flag that one had to walk over.

dsc00009

there were also a number of large posters of people inside the exhibit that were not so terrific. they were all fatah posters. a huge one of yassir ‘arafat. and as you left a huge one of mahmoud ‘abbas. this was disturbing, but perhaps not surprising. the student who created the exhibit did it with the help of the student union and since hamas boycotted student elections there are no members of hamas in the student government. at the same time i wonder if it is too much to ask for to create an exhibit that honors all palestinians not just fatah.

dsc00012

there were students who went into the exhibit with me, including one of my students, and they walked around with me and we talked as we looked at everything. but only my student knows who i am; the others thought i was just some random foreigner who knows nothing about palestine. so as i was leaving and looking at the abu mazen poster one of the other students said, “that’s our president.” and i said, “actually, since january 9th he is no longer your president.” and he proceeded to argue with me about this. i mean, it’s fine if you want to pay homage to a collaborator. if you want to pretend like a government under colonial rule can function like a real government. that’s your choice. and those are all opinions. but it is not up for debate as to whether or not abu mazen’s term was up one month ago. it is a fact. it is not something you can debate. so i wonder: is this student that uninformed about the policies of his own government-under-colonization or is he just unwilling to face reality? (by way of contrast look at how ‘abbas is treated in rome by palestinians.)

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i’ve noticed lately, too, that some friends and students are starting to identify themselves as “old fatah.” these are friends who were either raised on the values of the fida’ayeen or whose parents were in the resistance when it was known as the “palestinian resistance movement” or the “palestinian liberation organization.” these are friends who spent serious time in israeli prisons during the first intifada for their own resistance. but all of them yearn for a time when fatah was not collaborating with israeli terrorists. but if people are so willing to be so loyal to fatah, i wonder why that same loyalty cannot be translated to liberation and palestinian people in general. why just some of the people? while i understand why people want to make this distinction, i don’t see what purpose it serves other than a kind of nostalgia for the past.

notice that the children in the item i posted at the top aren’t identifying the children in gaza as fatah or hamas. they are identifying with them as children, as palestinians. oh how much we could learn from their example.

how can you watch clancy chassy’s video for the guardian, for instance, of mohammad al attar and his family whose home in beit lahiya was destroyed by israeli terrorists, who all live in a tent now, and see them as anything other than palestinian people. not as hamas. not as jebha. not as fatah. this is what children understand and what adults need to understand.

on another note, today is the 100th day of blogger hossein derakhsham’s detention in iran. and it has been a few days since blogger philip rizk has been detained in egypt. the previous links will take you to websites to get more information and see what you can do from where you are.

notes on complicity

i was in the midst of writing an article with a colleague from gaza today. we are working on a project to help his university, which israeli terrorists bombed on december 28th. of course, they bombed the islamic university of gaza with american bombs and american f-16s. i had read a blog talking about israeli academic complicity in its military-terrorist complex when rania and i were writing our articles about boycott last month. the blog had a post about the complicity between tel aviv university and the israeli terrorist army. he quoted an article from a publication at tel aviv university, which i assumed would be written in hebrew so i did not bother looking for the original until today. i was amazed to find out that it was indeed published in english. interestingly, the article in question, gil zohar’s “lifting the veil of secrecy,” published in the winter 2008/2009 issue of tel aviv university review doesn’t just show how israeli terrorist universities produce knowledge that create massacres on the ground in gaza and elsewhere in palestine–it also tells us about american collaboration in that process at israeli terrorist universities as well:

…Tel Aviv University is at the front line of the critical work to maintain Israel’s military and technological edge. While much of that research remains classified, several facts illuminate the role of the university. MAFAT, a Hebrew acronym meaning the R&D Directorate of the Israel Ministry of Defense, is currently funding 55 projects at TAU. Nine projects are being funded by DARPA–the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the US Department of Defense.

i was wishing i could have double checked something in naomi klein’s the shock doctrine, but i brought it back to my big boxes ‘o books in amman last month. i recalled that she also made a specific argument about israeli terrorist universities and then i found this from a 2007 article she published in the nation:

It’s no coincidence that the class projects at Ben Gurion that so impressed [Thomas] Friedman have names like “Innovative Covariance Matrix for Point Target Detection in Hyperspectral Images” and “Algorithms for Obstacle Detection and Avoidance.” Thirty homeland security companies were launched in Israel in the past six months alone, thanks in large part to lavish government subsidies that have transformed the Israeli army and the country’s universities into incubators for security and weapons start-ups (something to keep in mind in the debates about the academic boycott).

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if you read klein’s full article above you will begin to see how deeply enmeshed american and israeli terrorist projects are a joint effort, a joint effort housed in many of the universities in the zionist entity. and i’m thinking that texas a&m university should be added to the list of institutions to boycott (see above photograph though it should be noted that the canada-israel chamber of commerce is also a partner in the above seminar, but it got cut off from the screen shot i took). apparently some company called chameleon associates is hosting an executive seminar, in cahoots with texas a&m university and their israeli terrorist partners (from which the above logo was taken):

BEHIND THE SCENES SEMINAR OF ISRAEL’S COUNTER-TERRORISM AND SECURITY OPERATIONS

February 21 – February 28, 2009

Chameleon Associates LLC is pleased to present a one-of-a-kind security seminar to law enforcement, military and security professionals from around the world.

This seminar provides attendees with an inside look into the security operations of some of Israel’s most secured facilities and protected environments. Attendees will meet with top Israeli security and law enforcement officials and will learn first hand how Israel developed and maintains some of the world’s best counter-terrorism and security systems.

Some of the facilities and locations visited in the seminar include mass-transit hubs, airports, seaports, border crossings, government facilities, critical infrastructures, shopping malls, corporate facilities and more.

certainly there are deep ties between israeli and american academic institutions in ways that continue to render “scientific” their pursuit of knowledge, their pursuit of new ways to murder and torture palestinians, arabs, muslims. the most recent collusion between israeli military and academia, which i wrote about in an earlier blog is the appointment of pnina shavrit-baruch, an israeli terrorist war criminal, to a position as a law professor at tel aviv university. apparently what little dissent there was, was squashed by the government and as jonathan cook explains plans are moving forward:

But despite the protest at Tel Aviv University, most academic staff in Israel supported Col Sharvit-Baruch’s appointment, said Daphna Golan, a programme director at the Minerva Center for Human Rights at Hebrew University. “I think even Prof Ganz has been frightened into silence by the backlash.”

The episode, she said, highlighted the intimate relations between the army and universities in Israel, as well as the dependence of the universities on army funding.

She noted that there were many special programmes designed to favour army and security personnel by putting them on a fast track to degrees.

“Most of the professors in the country’s Middle East departments — the ‘experts on Arabs’ who shape the perceptions of the next generation — are recruited from the army or the security services,” she added.

Omar Barghouti, a co-ordinator of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, said Col Sharvit-Baruch’s employment was a further indication of the “organic ties” between Israeli institutions and the army.

“This just adds one more soldier to an already very long list of war criminals roaming around freely in Israeli universities, teaching hate, racism and warmongering, with impunity,” he said.

He noted that calls for an academic boycott were growing in the wake of the Gaza offensive.

Al-Quds University, with campuses in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, severed its contacts with Israeli universities last week. It had been the last Palestinian university to maintain such ties.

At the same time, a group of US professors announced that they were campaigning for an academic boycott of Israel — the first time such a call has been heard in the US.

Mr Barghouti said an “unprecedented” groundswell of popular opinion was behind new campaigns in countries such as Australia, Spain, Sweden, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand.

notice how little dissent there is? of course this is also because 94% of their population supported the aggression on gaza. what is shocking to me about these new developments or new articles is not the fact that there is this deep complicity between the u.s. military, the israeli terrorist war machine, and israeli academia. what is shocking is how they are so blatant about these linkages now. because they can massacre anyone they like in lebanon or gaza or akka or jenin and it doesn’t matter: no one is spared (except for animals in zoos–see yesterday’s post for that one). too, i find it ironic that so few people around the world agree to boycott israeli academia and the terrorists it harbors given the continuous assault on human life that these universities create in addition to the way that they always target educational institutions.

they also target other sorts of installations. american government and military installations. recall they did this in an infamous incident on 8 june 1967 when israeli terrorists struck the uss liberty. that story, like most involving acts of israeli terrorism, has been covered up again and again. likewise, how many of you out there heard that israeli terrorists bombed the house of the only u.s. state department employee in gaza? esam is the only representative of the u.s. consulate in jerusalem who is based in gaza. esam and his family are now living in his office. below are photographs of his house sent to me by a friend who knows him:

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while esam is still sleeping in his office radi abed rabbo is dealing with the trauma of having been forced to be a human shield for israeli terrorists as hoda abdel hamid reports for al jazeera:

yet another host of reasons that it’s great to see people mobilizing the israeli terrorist elections tomorrow:

The Ahrar Al-Jalil Brigades, an unknownand self-proclaimed Palestinian militant group based in Israel called on Palestinians inside Israel on Monday to boycott Israeli elections scheduled to take place Tuesday.

The group said in a statement, “Participation in Knesset elections means approval and recognition of the legitimacy of this Zionist state which has been committing atrocities against our people.”

this is why so many are mobilizing for boycott, divestment, and sanctions. here are a few new items on that front like in malta:

We also request all organizations and people of good will in Malta to pressure the Maltese government, Members of European Parliament and prospective MEPs, and the various authorities within the EU to show their true commitment towards a just peace in Palestine by avoiding products and services (like tourism) provided by companies implicated in the occupation and human rights violations, and to choose services and goods, like fair trade products, provided by communities in occupied Palestine.

or this bangladeshi writer details (if you click on the link and read the entire piece) the american companies you should boycott because they are complicit in israeli terrorism:

South Africa, the original apartheid state, was brought to its knees by an economic boycott against its policies. Yes, Bangladesh is a small country and far from the Middle East; but our imports are bought with the same American dollars that support the Israeli economy, and we should utilise them intelligently.

The economic boycott of South Africa was about more than boycotting South African products; it also targeted multi-nationals that invested in (and thus economically supported) the apartheid state. Bangladesh already disallows direct imports from Israel through its import policy; but Bangladeshi consumers have yet to take action against multi-nationals that have the dubious distinction of directly supporting Zionist land grabbing, or receiving Israeli government awards recognising their investments in Israel.

and the church of england divested from caterpillar:

Over this weekend, 7th and 8th February, the Church of England clarified their position on their investments in companies profiting from the illegally occupied Palestinian territories and now wish to make clear that late last year they removed over £2.2 million in Caterpillar, a company whose bulldozers and heavy plant equipment are been used to destroy the homes of Palestinians by the Israeli government.

finally while speaking of complicity…i mentioned the egyptian kidnapping of philip rizk yesterday. there are two petitions you can sign to demand his release:

PETITION FOR THE RELEASE OF PHILIP RIZK

Release Philip Rizk