prisons within prisons within prisons within prisons within prisons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,

Leonard Peltier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PALESTINIAN PRISONERS:

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

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

Names (a mere fraction of them)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE: July 2009

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

Background information

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Administrative detention

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

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

Recommended action

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

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

Appeals to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

n99488432247_4846

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However, the siege is part of a political umbrella.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In South Africa, no one said okay for Bantustans!

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

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

If Norman Finkelstein flirts with Zionism… then?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

on education as liberation

israeli terrorists outside al quds university yesterday
israeli terrorists outside al quds university yesterday

friday morning a friend of mine had to make a delivery to nablus for work and offered to drive me down to beit lahem afterward so i decided to go back with him. my friend who i went to visit is a graduate student at al quds university in the european studies program. she has been complaining about the program all year, partially because the master’s program is a normalization program with an israeli terrorist university in herzliya. this means that the professors in her institution, who teach her classes, also teach in the same program there. ultimately the israeli terrorist students and the palestinian students are supposed to study jointly in germany, something my friend has already decided she would not participate in. but all year long she has had suspicions that her professors were not european or american, as her program coordinator munther dajani unequivocally stated, but rather she had strong suspicions that they were israelis.

of course those of you who follow anti-normalization and boycott news will recall that al quds university’s president sari nusseibeh–famous for his unabashed normalization with israeli terrorists–recently stated that al quds university would phase out its normalization projects (i blogged about this a few months ago). clearly, they are not only continuing these projects, but lying about them as well. the other day my friend saw an israeli terrorist id fall out of her professor’s pocket in class. the professor, aharon yair mcclanahan, does not seem to yield any results in english on google or in any of the major academic search engines. but here was a tell-tale sign of his real, hidden identity. in class the other day he was speaking about british decolonization in general. he decided to offer a specific example as professors should, of course, do. what was his example? the british decolonization of “israel.” i kid you not. he used this as an example to a classroom filled with palestinian master’s degree-seeking students. this is why when i took the photograph above saturday morning my friend said: which is scarier those israeli terrorists in uniform or those trying to hide themselves among us? indeed.

the other professor–one tal sadeh–lives in the colony of pisgat ze’ev on stolen palestinian land (as every israeli terrorist does regardless of where they live). apparently this professor didn’t hide his identity and told the students that he is a colonist occupying their land and their classroom. this second professor is not so difficult to find dirt on. in academic search premier he has a couple of articles about the zionist entity and economic trade with the european union. and he has a book on the eu on amazon.com. his articles on the zionist entity and the eu may seem banal to the uniformed reader. but of course none of these articles mention the way that all of these things that they export–such as agriculture–are entirely stolen from palestinians, from palestinian land. when he mentions tourism he fails to mention that they make it completely impossible for foreigners to tour palestine and actively work to keep tourists from spending money in cities like beit lahem. he is not innocent as with all zionist colonist terrorists he actively works to cover up the crimes of his usurping entity. i also found a letter he posted to the american zionist terrorist front page magazine in which he forwards the usual zionist propaganda. here is but one example of his deceitful propaganda:

The same goes for the Church of Nativity: It was the armed Palestinians who either forced the monks to give them shelter (which suggests that the monks are hostages), or the church who willingly let them in (which means it sided with the Palestinians in this war). Israel never wanted the violence to reach that church. The Palestinians use the church to fire at Israelis, which are morally prevented from firing back. And what about the poor children that get hurt? Indeed it is terrible. But rarely do western journalists take care to report how the Palestinians themselves are careless with their children, firing at IDF soldiers from within a crowd of kids. That poor Palestinian kid who was shot at the beginning of the Intifada – Mohammad Dura – There’s no proof at all that the IDF shot him. A recent German TV show found mixed evidence. Anyway, he was caught in the firing zone, nobody tried to purposely kill him. But like in many libels, the “sorry, we were wrong” part comes in ! small print and not in the front page.

of course, the zionist entity admitted that they murdered mohammad al durra and then later took it back. you can watch the episode of “focus on gaza” that i posted on my blog a couple of weeks ago for an entire episode about al durra and what actually happened.

when my friend went to her peers with her complaint–a complaint that clearly their director, munther dajani was unwilling to engage with since he covered up the fact that he hired israeli terrorists to teach palestinian students–there were some very odd responses. one student argued that they must keep things professional and academic and somehow academia is not the place for politics. but is not political to talk about selling palestinian orange juice that is squeezed from palestinian yaffa oranges, stolen by zionists, and sold to the european union as sadeh does in his scholarship? is this truthful, academic honesty? or for mcclanahan to suggest that the british decolonized palestine for the zionist colonists (who, of course, were not characterized as colonists by him)? these are distortions of the truth and palestinians deserve better.

but this situation is about more than this for me. as one who got her foundation about pedagogy from paolo freire’s pedagogy of the oppressed, as well as many others who followed his path, i understood pedagogy to be a form of resistance and liberation from my first days of graduate school. (interestingly, my friend who brought this all to my attention recently found freire and began reading him and saw quite clearly his theories as applicable to her situation.) i do not see how pedagogy can be connected to liberation in the least bit when the oppressor is teaching your classes. how can a student feel safe in such a class? how can students trust that the material they are being given is truthful? how can students challenge the teacher and the material being presented?

mcgill university in montreal, canada has an institute called the freire project where they carry on the theories of freire’s work. here is a video that encapsulates some of what they are all about. in the video that follows you will hear and read peter mclaren’s words that best describes this spirit:

Revolutionary critical pedagogy operates from an understanding that the basis of education is political, and that spaces need to be created where students can imagine a different world outside of capitalism’s law of value…where patriarchal hierarchies of oppression can be ended.

i wish i had my freire books here with me, but alas they are in amman. but some of the key concepts of critical pedagogy, depends upon key concepts that teach students to think critically. this involves giving students the tools with which to educate themselves, to inspire students to read, to learn, to know, and, perhaps most importantly to question. the freire project has an interesting four-part interview with christopher stonebanks and tariq ali that gets at many of these issues and themes. it starts with a discussion of ali’s novels to consider fiction as a tool to get people to think about history, given that his novels are historical inquiries into various periods of history in the arab world. but in part three he also addresses this need to teach students to think critically and its relationship between this and getting students to read. and in part four he addresses the need to teach students to doubt. this is what is sorely lacking in the educational system in many parts of the world, including here in palestine.

of course, the united states is also a country where teaching students to think critically is threatening. this is why professors like ward churchill and norman finkelstein have been under attack and fired from their institutions–cases that ali addresses in the above videos. another professor is currently under the same sort of scrutiny. this time it is william robinson at the university of california at santa barbara. he did a great interview with dennis bernstein on flashpoints the other day in which he specifically addressed the fact that an email he sent out comparing images of nazi germany to the israeli savagery in gaza was meant to teach students to question–an academic activity. here is the text of robinson’s original email, but if you click on the link you can get to the original images in question as well as to some context for them:

If Martin Luther King were alive on this day of January 19, 2009, there is no doubt that he would be condemning the Israeli aggression against Gaza along with U.S. military and political support for Israeli war crimes, or that he would be standing shoulder to shoulder with the Palestinians. I am forwarding some horrific, parallel images of Nazi atrocities against the Jews and Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians. Perhaps the most frightening are not those providing a graphic depiction of the carnage but that which shows Israeli children writing “with love” on a bomb that will tear apart Palestinian children.

Gaza is Israel’s Warsaw – a vast concentration camp that confined and blockaded Palestinians, subjecting them to the slow death of malnutrition, disease and despair, nearly two years before their subjection to the quick death of Israeli bombs. We are witness to a slow-motion process of genocide (Websters: “the systematic killing of, or a program of action intended to destroy, a whole national or ethnic group”), a process whose objective is not so much to physically eliminate each and every Palestinian than to eliminate the Palestinians as a people in any meaningful sense of the notion of people-hood.

The Israeli army is the fifth most potent military machine in the world and one that is backed by a propaganda machine that rivals and may well surpass that of the U.S., a machine that dares to make the ludicrous and obnoxious claim that opposition to the policies and practices of the Israeli state is anti-Semitism. It should be no surprise that a state founded on the negation of a people was one of the principal backers of the apartheid South African state not to mention of the Latin American military dictatorships until those regimes collapsed under mass protest, and today arms, trains, and advises military and paramilitary forces in Colombia, one of the world’s worst human rights violators.

there is a petition to sign for robinson, which you can get to by clicking this link.

education must be about encouraging students to think, to see things from a different point of view. it must also be about learning and reading–and encouraging students to do this. it is always so difficult to find students who are invested in their own learning process, who want these tools, who seek them out. this is why i was quite disturbed when i learned that a friend and student at my university has been blocked by her british teacher yet again from such learning in two ways. first, this student gave the professor money to buy her a copy of ilan pappe’s the ethnic cleansing of palestine. after quite a long wait the teacher gave the student back the money saying that the bookstore was not open when she went to al quds. as someone who goes to the two english-language bookshops on salah el din street almost every weekend–at various times of the day and evening–i found this to be quite shocking. indeed, i happened to go there on friday afternoon at the moment when everyone was rushing to the old city for friday prayer and it was open. i also know from experience that the bookshop is open in the evenings as well throughout the weekend. but this same student, who wants to do research comparing israeli terrorist policies in 1948 palestine with its terrorist ethnic cleansing policies in the west bank was told: no. why was she told no? because she was told that if she presented such research to a foreign, western audience they wouldn’t understand because they only see the west bank and gaza as occupied. thankfully, this student knows better.

but this is precisely my point: education should encourage students to sort such things out. a professor or teacher might mention that such biases exist, but show that student those biases and encourage the student to figure out ways to challenge those biases through his/her research. but this foreign teacher silenced this student (though thankfully she refuses to be silenced). but any other student might submit.

education must be about liberation. about resistance. why else would anyone teach?

how about no voice!

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

How is OneVoice different from other ‘peace’ groups?

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

Why do you believe in a two-state solution?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear XXXX,

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

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

Yours,
Sefi Kedmi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

one state democratic group

and

global boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

on hope and change (for real)

yesterday afternoon, after classes finished, i headed to the al yasmeen hotel for a talk that our boycott group was sponsoring. the talk, however, was not about boycott; it was about barack obama. naively, i had suspected that the speakers would be critical of obama. i expected the speakers to speak from a radical, or even a progressive point of view. instead i found liberal rhetoric from people who under bush might have been thought of as radicals. instead, what i found was optimism. i know that after george bush having a different president is a relief. a huge relief, to be sure. but to pretend like things will change for the better for palestinians, afghans, iraqis, pakistanis is to continue to drink the koolaid. for sure i want hope and change, too. that is why i voted for cynthia mckinney. but i am also realistic about what change is possible with any american president regardless of their race. what concerns me is their politics. and the change i want is radical. i will not throw a party because i am thrown a bone.

my choice for president, cynthia mckinney, has this to say to those who see hope and change in obama:

One of the first under-reported acts of President Obama was to sign an order continuing the drone airstrikes, resulting in at least 22 killed so far. For the dead children of Afghanistan or Pakistan or Gaza, it doesn’t matter to their parents if the bomb was dropped by Bush or Obama or the client state they support. And President Obama has made it clear that the bombs will continue to drop; it is up to us–the people of the United States–to stop them. That’s why it was on my birthday, in front of the Pentagon in 2007, that I declared my independence from every bomb dropped, every child killed, every veteran maimed in the name of U.S. wars. I said it, and I meant it, and I knew I was going to have to do something I’d never done before if I was ever going to have something I’d never had before. So I left the Democratic Party.

I don’t regret my decision one minute. I draw my strength from Dr. King, who in his own way, did the same thing when he refused to segregate his moral concerns.

My neighborhood in Los Angeles, Watts and South Central, is already a police state. Tonight, 25 to 30 young black men, standing handcuffed, outside the barber shop. Every night, routine dehumanization is carried out in black and brown neighborhoods by LAPD. I see it. I never miss it. It’s all around me.

Oscar Grant murdered in cold blood by law enforcement. Robert Tolan, murdered in cold blood by law enforcement, for driving his father’s car, mistaken for stolen.

Filiberto Ojeda Rios assassinated by the U.S. government; I met his wife and heard the entire story of what happened as he was shot by the FBI and then bled to death.

Innocent black and brown and poor white men on death row. How many Troy Davises and Mumia Abu Jamals will we allow to exist in our country?

Native Americans trying to survive despite genocide and ethnic cleansing, struggle against drug and alcohol abuse and poverty, and try to keep their culture alive.

And yet the likes of Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Nancy Pelosi, and now Barack Obama say nothing about the pain I see on the mean streets and reservations across our country, and the miscarriages of justice that are its regular feature, but they allow Bush and company to get away with the highest of crimes, involving millions of deaths.

do you see what i mean? mckinney has a vision for change, the kind of change that i hope for. the kind that involves justice. the kind that challenges the relationship between the rulers and the ruled.

but where is the change when the u.s. is asking the war criminals to investigate their war crimes in gaza?:

Israel must investigate allegations that its army violated international law during its three-week war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, the new U.S. envoy to the United Nations said on Thursday.

“We expect Israel will meet its international obligations to investigate and we also call upon all members of the international community to refrain from politicizing these important issues,” Ambassador Susan Rice said in her debut speech before the UN Security Council.

Rice said that Hamas had been guilty of violating international law “through its rocket attacks against Israeli civilians in southern Israel and the use of civilian facilities to provide protection for its terrorist attacks.”

“There have also been numerous allegations made against Israel some of which are deliberately designed to inflame,” she told the council during a meeting on international humanitarian law.

where is the change when george mitchell tells us that obama is committed to george bush’s vision for carving up the land AND denying palestinian refugees the right of return under un resolution 194?:

Mitchell told Israeli officials that the new administration was committed to Israel’s security, to the road map, and to the 2004 letter by president George W. Bush stating Palestinian refugees would not return to Israel and the border between Israel and the Palestinian Authority would take into consideration facts on the ground, meaning large settlement blocs would remain in Israeli hands.

where is the change when israeli colonists/terrorists continue to build colonies without anyone challenging them?

The report, released Wednesday by the group Peace Now, found that settlement construction in 2008 increased by almost 60 percent, including new construction both inside and outside of the security barrier and within illegal settlement outposts.

real change would mean: sanctions to stop using u.s. taxpayer money to fund their colonial terror project for one thing.

where is the change when the changes that obama himself promised are already being violated in less than a week (thanks tam tam) :

Unfortunately, we are again asking the president to explain why exactly he announced, with great fanfare, new ethics rules if he had no intention of abiding by them.

The Obama administration is yet again asking for a waiver to its very own rules about hiring lobbyists.

This time, it is the new treasury secretary, Tim Geithner. He wants a former lobbyist for Goldman Sachs to be his top aide at the Treasury Department.

for those who need to be reminded of why obama is more of the same bush policies you should read what as’ad abukhalil says about the reality of the so-called “change” coming from obama:

The inauguration speech included an insinuation towards the Islamic world, but it was met with exaggeration and reverence in Arab media. The series of wars and humiliation by the Bush administration has made Arabs easy victims of pretty talk, only comparatively.

However, Obama’s “reference” towards the Islamic world came in the context of his speech about terrorism and his pursuit of terrorists. In other words, he made no methodical shift from Bush’s administration’s perspective (or that of Zionists), which links the Muslim to the terrorist.

He offered no meaningful initiative to causes which concern the Arab and Islamic worlds, such as American wars and traditional western orientalist hostility, the United Sates’ support for tyrannical regimes in the Middle East, and Israel and its incessant wars and aggression.

Obama called on some regimes which “repress” their people, but everyone knows that those include only regimes which object to the American will. This means that Obama’s politics won’t be different from Bush’s politics with regard to democracy. Violation of Arabs and Muslims rights are allowed and praised if the oppressor is supportive of US wars. The proximity of Obama’s politics to those of Bush surface on more than one front, as he postponed his decision to shut down Guantanamo Camp, or he decided to shut it down within a year, after he had spoken about immediate closure. Torture may remain secretive, as the appointed Attorney General indicated.

The issue of withdrawal from Iraq has also changed. Today he speaks very vaguely about a “responsible withdrawal” from Iraq, after he used to promise complete withdrawal within a six-month period at the beginning of his electoral campaign.

As for Afghanistan, he promised to escalate the war there and increase the number of occupying troops. This means that Obama considers a policy of “surge” in Afghanistan in return for Bush’s “surge” in Iraq.

Hence, the difference between the two men, Bush and Obama, is only with regard to the location of downpour of bombs and rockets, not about ceasing them altogether. Obama surpassed Bush by calling for violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty under the rubric of “pursuit” of terrorists. And a number of Pakistani citizens were in fact killed on the first days of Obama’s administration. This was termed “inauguration bombardment.”

here is one of the first signs of more of the same in afghanistan, bombs dropped on afghan civilians and we know from obama that he promises more where this came from:

cindy sheehan gets it, too, in her critique of obama as the new emperor of the united states:

There are already indications of The Empire® beginning to fray around the edges. The latest being the US/Israeli assault on Gaza, that although very destructive, was not able to fully suppress Hamas and achieve its aims. In Iraq, the MIC has not been victorious in subduing that population and there are indications that what might rise out of the ashes will be a more religious and anti-American regime: (once the Iraqi people vanquish the US pro-consul, Maliki) no matter how many bases or how large the embassy we leave in Iraq.

Many people looked at Obama as a “peace candidate” where he is no such thing. In the first week of office, he demonstrated that the Bush regime’s illegal CIA drone bombings in the tribal regions of Pakistan would continue. Recently the US military took $40,000.00 to a village where 15 civilians were killed (less than three grand per person) with the imperialistic hubris that a few thousand lousy American dollars will pay for the life of a loved one. The Pakistani government is getting quite a bit of pressure from the civil society there about the illegal US strikes against its sovereign territories, but like all empires, the US could not care less about the people its killing, or protests against its policies.

as’ad also gets it when he critiques obama’s appearance on al arabiya this week (note: bushama is as’ad’s new name for obama):

Thirdly, there is nothing that Bushama said that was not said by Bush. The CNN guest, Aslan something who always impresses me with his lack of knowledge on the Middle East when he speaks on the Middle East, kept saying in awe that the president spoke respectfully about respect in his address to Muslims and Arabs. But so did Bush, and Bush went to a mosque in Washington, DC–in order to prepare for the bombs and missiles to fall on Muslim and Arab heads. Fourthly, Obama in talking about the Middle East–the Palestine question and beyond–suffers from an acute case of “economism” or economic reductionism. He has the tendency to reduce all Arab and Muslim issues to job and medical care. It is NOT only the economy–stupid. It is also about pride and dignity and Palestine AND about freedom from the severe oppression that people suffer under governments that are coddled and armed by the very same US of A. So the words fall hollow here. Fifthly, Obama as a representative of the White Man (and he can also be referred to as the White Man, analytically speaking just as Margaret Thatcher was a representative of the White Man) did not deviate from the deep racism that characterizes US foreign policy to the Arab-Israeli conflict. I mean when he refers to Israel’s security as “paramount” he is basically saying (like previous US president) that the security of the Palestinians is inferior because they are seen as inferior people. There is no question about that. It means that and the racism is reflected clearly in the disregard of Israeli WMDs. It never comes up in any interview with US officials on Al-Arabiyya (it is featured regularly in Al Jazeera as yesterday’s interview with Brent Scowcroft showed). Karl Marx wrote somewhere about the danger of covering up the chain with flowers. Obama is no different than Bush but American bombs and missiles under his administration will be decorated and covered with flowers. If that is a reason to celebrate, please open the champagne bottles NOW.

one thing as’ad left out of his commentary was obama’s big blunder of an historical statement about the nature of the united states:

He added that “we sometimes make mistakes,” but said that America was not born as a colonial power and that he hoped for a restoration of “the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago.”

um…try telling that to leonard peltier! (see lower down in this post for a petition to sign regarding peltier).

there are others who can see through the obama rhetoric directed at the arab world such as m. junaid levesque-alam who wrote “a muslim’s memo to obama”:

Obama’s decision to emphasize the absurd instead of the obvious was very revealing. It was a message that Muslim life is expendable. It was a message that Muslims can be killed en masse. And it was a message the Muslim world heard loudly.

If one hundred Palestinian corpses are placed next to one Israeli corpse, the “new” White House informed Muslims through Obama’s messaging, its scales of sympathy will still not tip in their favor. They will be addressed tersely only to demand that they recognize their oppressor’s right to exist.

This is akin to yelling into the ear of a rape victim during an assault that she must recognize the rights of her rapist. It is an insult with few parallels–but many echoes.

another sign of the lack of hope and change emanating from the failure of so-called leftists–also pointed out by as’ad:

If the standards that some leftists now want to impose on the Palestinian resistance were imposed on French resistance to Nazi occupation, there would have been no resistance whatsoever in France and all the fighters of the resistance would have joined Jean Cocteau in the cafes of Paris and would have chanted with him: “Love live this shameful peace.”

and as’ad has an important historical reminder about the cold, calculated, forgetful memory about the rationale israeli terrorists used to start the june 1967 war (which of course should be read ironically given their “reason” for assaulting gaza):

“What Israeli PM Abba Eban said about blockades during the 1967 war: “To blockade, after all, is to attempt strangulation–and sovereign states are entitled not to have their State strangled. The blockade is by definition an act of war, imposed and enforced through violence. Never in history have a blockade and peace existed side by side.” From “The Israel/Arab Reader” Second ed. Ed. Walter Laqueur (1971ed.) pp. 219.

the above quote, of course, should not be forgotten, especially the part i bolded, given that the siege on gaza continues through israeli terrorists’ continued blockade by air, land, and sea. the sort of damage that the wreaked not only on human beings, but also on their livelihood. just look at al jazeera’s report on the israeli terrorist damage done to palestinian farmers in gaza:

or watch al jazeera’s report on the psychological damage the israeli terrorist aggression on gaza has created:

when i asked rami yesterday for some grounding away from the insanity of people putting their hope in obama he reminded me of many things, most importantly:

We also know that we-i mean our class- are irrelevant, and that the real struggle is between the rulers and the ruled

yes. this is it. this is where the revolution is. it is about the farmers. it is about the workers. it is about changing the system not the ruler. reggie sent me this article from the american communist party, which poses this challenge to us who are interested in real change:

Left to itself, tomorrow’s disappointment of today’s raised expectations will not automatically show people a way out of this madness. Disillusionment with Obama, when and if that comes, can lead to cynical passivity or to people giving up their original better ideals as being “naïve” and “foolish”…and becoming active supporters of the very crimes they once opposed.

But that too is where the revolutionaries come into the picture. As big questions are being discussed on street corners, classrooms, and offices, there are openings for answers that speak to the reality of the situation. Even as we are continuing to unite with people and lead forward resistance, we have to be actively and eagerly jumping into struggle with all of those caught up in this Obama-mania over the real nature of this system and what it will REALLY take to change it. We have to show them, in a living way, what it means to say that this is a SYSTEM. And we have to engage them, again in a living way, with what is meant by REVOLUTION—real revolution—and what their role in all that is and must be.

In a strategic sense, it is good that we are presented with this challenge. How could anyone imagine a revolution in the U.S.A. that did not have to go up against a lot of deeply embedded myths, values, and accepted lies? Let’s take this on and take this up with a materialist understanding of what this system must do to people and how utterly unnecessary is the suffering it imposes on people. Let’s jump into the fray—both the struggle to fight the power, and the struggle to transform the people, FOR revolution—with creativity and confidence borne of our dialectical understanding that the world is constantly changing, and that people’s conscious actions have a profound effect on that. And let’s get in there with the verve that comes from our grasp of the kind of society we are trying to bring into being, and the potential attractive power of that vision.

And there is an opening to do that now. In the current mix, and all the way through the process people go through confronting the reality of what Obama represents, we can and must reach out boldly and broadly to build a revolutionary movement that can bring about the real change the world needs.

To restate the crucial question we opened with: What will all these people do as it becomes more and more clear that Obama is dashing their hopes and shattering their illusions that he will act to bring about change that so many people long for—change that will really be in the interests of the great majority of people, here and around the world?

The answer to that—the potentially world-changing, world-historic answer—depends on you.

no i don’t want hope and change from obama. i see no reason to be hopeful. and i am not interested in the sort of minimalist change he is offering. i want the sort of change evo morales brings to bolivia:

He shook his fist in the air, the applause died down. “And I want you to know something, the colonial state ends here. Internal colonialism and external colonialism ends here. Sisters and brothers, neoliberalism ends here too.”

i want the kind of change that releases leonard peltier from prison immediately (and on that note please sign the petition linked below):

Please Let President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Penitentiary-Canaan Warden Ronnie R. Holt, Federal Bureau of Prisons Northeast Regional Director D. Scott Dodrill, U.S. Prisons Director Harley G. Lappin, the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Leaders, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the American Civil Liberties Union and members of the national media know you HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE SAFETY AND WELLBEING OF LEONARD PELTIER!

i want the kind of change that prosecutes israeli war criminals and feeds them the justice they deserve (not just for gaza but for 61+ years of war crimes):

Public asked for information on travel plans and whereabouts of top Israeli leaders

By Redress Information & Analysis

26 January 2009

An international human rights organization has submitted evidence to the International Criminal Court for the arrest of top Israeli leaders for war crimes in Gaza and has called for information about the travel plans and whereabouts outside Israel of the suspects.

A human rights organization has called for the arrest of a number of senior Israeli leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The International Coalition against Impunity (HOKOK), a non-governmental organization registered with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, has submitted a “Letter of Notification and Referral” to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court outlining the case for the arrest of 15 Israeli political and military leaders for crimes committed in Gaza in violation of the Rome Statute and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

It has also issued an international appeal for information about the undermentioned war crimes suspects. Members of the public in Israel and throughout the world who have information about the travel plans or whereabouts of the undermentioned suspects when they are outside Israel should report this immediately to:

The Prosecutor

P.O. Box 19519

2500 Hague

Netherlands

Fax +31 70 515 8 555

otp.informationdesk [at] icc-cpi.int

The Israeli war crimes suspects are:

1. Ehud Barak
2. Amir Peretz
3. Binyamin Ben Eliezer
4. Avi Dichter
5. Carmi Gillon
6. Dan Halutz
7. Doron Almog
8. Ehud Olmert
9. Eliezer Shkedy
10. Gabi Ashkenazi
11. Giora Eiland
12. Matan Vilnai
13. Moshie Bogie Yaalon
14. Shaul Mofaz
15. Tzipi Livni

here is a report form al jazeera’s zeina awad on the war crimes investigations in gaza:

and this war crimes case as well:

National Infrastructure Minister and former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and former IAF and IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz may face criminal charges in Spain for killing Palestinian civilians seven years ago.

A Spanish court granted a petition by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights on Thursday, asking the two be investigated for alleged “crimes against humanity” for their involvement in the 2002 assassination of Hamas operative Salah Shehade. Fourteen civilians were killed in the incident and about 100 more were injured.

i want the kind of change that shows israeli terrorism in all its true colors, so people understand that their racism is widespread and that all are complicit in the thinking and actions among the civilian AND military (which overlap completely since military service is compulsory):

“Fire on anything that moves in Zeitoun” – that was the order handed down to Israeli troops in the Givati Shaked battalion, who reduced the eastern Gaza City suburb to little more than rubble in a matter of days.

According to Israeli soldiers who took part in the three-week offensive, the destruction of the area, a known Hamas stronghold, was designed to send a wider message to Gazans. “We pounded Zeitoun into the ground,” an Israeli soldier who was deployed in the area, told The Times.

“We knew everything was booby-trapped, we knew that they would try to kidnap us and if they did that was the end, we were finished . . . so we took no chances. We pounded them with fire; they never had a chance.”

i want the kind of change that does not include palestinian resistance making concessions to the zionist colonists who stole their land by recognizing the zionist entity or by making any concession that does not include the complete and total liberation of palestine:

“We accept a state in the ’67 borders,” said [Ghazi] Hamad. “We are not talking about the destruction of Israel.”

One hardline Hamas politician, Yehiel El Abadsa, said his group should not reconcile with Fatah and that Hamas “will be the ones to rebuild Gaza.

the kind of change i hope for is one that shows iraqis, pakistanis, and afghans as resisting and kicking out all u.s. installations, not just the abomination that is blackwater:

Blackwater, a US private security firm, has been barred from providing security for US diplomats in Iraq for its alleged involvement in the deaths of at least 17 civilians in 2007.

The Iraqi interior ministry on Thursday said the measure followed the firm’s “improper conduct and excessive use of force”.

Five former Blackwater guards are awaiting trial in the US for the incident that took place in September 2007.

one thing that we can all do, that we can all practice, live by is boycott. it works. and it is working more very single day. just look at the beautiful damage jordanian farmers are causing israeli terrorist farmers who farm stolen palestinian land:

Fruit growers in Israel have reported delays and reductions in orders from abroad since the military operation in Gaza was launched, due to various boycotts against Israeli produce.

Farmers say much of their produce is being held in warehouses due to canceled orders, and fear a sharp decrease in fruit exports to countries such as Jordan, Britain, and the Scandinavian countries.

“We export persimmons, and because of the fighting a number of countries and distributors are canceling orders,” Giora Almagor, of the southern town of Bitzaron, told Ynet. He said some of the produce had already been shipped while some was awaiting shipment in warehouses.

Almagor said a large number of cancellations came from Jordan. “The produce stays packed in warehouses, and this is causing us massive losses,” he said.

and while we may not be able to attribute the pro-palestinian boycott of starbucks to the company’s financial problems (because indeed there are hundreds of other reasons to boycott starbucks), it is a welcome sign to see them hit by the economic downturn as well:

Thousands of baristas are to lose their jobs as Starbucks shuts stores to cope with dwindling sales of lattes, cappuccinos and frappuccinos as cash-strapped consumers lose their thirst for coffee.

The Seattle-based chain tonight revealed a 70% slump in quarterly profits to $64.3m and announced that it intends to shed 6,700 employees this year. It is closing 300 stores, two thirds of which will be in the US, on top of 660 shutdowns last year.

As the global economy turns sour, appetite for Starbucks’ premium-priced drinks appears to be waning. Like-for-like sales fell by 10% at American stores and dropped by 3% elsewhere in the world – including a decline in the UK during the three months to December.

Starbucks’ chief executive, Howard Schultz, is joining in the belt-tightening by asking the company’s board to cut his basic salary from $1.2m to $10,000. Schultz, 55, dropped off Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires last year as the value of his stake in Starbucks plunged.

and the u.s. academic and cultural boycott of israel is gaining exposure, even in the israeli terrorist press:

While Israeli academics have grown used to such news from Great Britain, where anti-Israel groups several times attempted to establish academic boycotts, the formation of the United States movement marks the first time that a national academic boycott movement has come out of America. Israeli professors are not sure yet how big of an impact the one-week-old movement will have, but started discussing the significance of and possible counteractions against the campaign.

and now there is an australian boycott of israeli academic and cultural institutions as well:

Australian Academic Boycott of Israel Responding to the CALL of Palestinian civil society to join the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, we are an Australian campaign focused specifically on a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions, as delineated by PACBI (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel).

this is especially important as we recall what israeli terrorists did to the islamic university of gaza, which recently came out with a statement asking us to work in solidarity to support them as they work to rebuild their university:

We firmly believe that the illegal Israeli occupation have deliberately and continuously targeted the Palestinian academic institutions, including IUG, in an attempt to keep the Palestinians ignorant and insecure so the oppressive Israeli occupation could last longer.

By destroying the university buildings, IUG is facing major disarray and delay in completing the second semester, entailing the inability of hundreds of students to graduate. Such bombardment is a flagrant violation of international law including the Fourth Geneva Convention. This violation shows a total disregard for Palestinian rights to education and for the legitimacy of the international community and international law, declarations and resolutions.
We therefore call upon all academics, students, concerned bodies and the international community to show their support and solidarity to the right of the Palestinians to education:

1. Boycotting Israeli academic institutions and refraining from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation.

2. Lobbying (emails, letter, fax, etc) your MP and government to pressure the government of Israel to adhere to its legal obligations to end occupation and stop attacking Palestinian educational institutions.

3. Preparing and signing petitions calling on trade unions, education institutions, organizations, social and political movements and concerned individuals around the world to support the right to education in Palestine.

4. Organizing exchange visit to and from IUG to students and faculty members to come on a speaking tour to universities and organizations in your country.

5. Sponsoring students at IUG to enable them to continue their education.

6. Initiating active academic relations with IUG through departmental links; student and faculty exchange; joint research projects; and inclusion at international academic conferences.

7. Making a donation to reconstruct the IUG buildings and facilities.

8. Establishing connections with Palestinian universities, students and faculty, through solidarity links or academic exchange.

9. Support the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call for “a full investigation and to make those responsible people accountable.”

the academic boycott is also crucial given the ways which israeli terrorist universities not only

And that brings us to [Shlomo] Zand’s second assertion. He argues that the story of the Jewish nation — the transformation of the Jewish people from a group with a shared cultural identity and religious faith into a vanquished “people” — was a relatively recent invention, hatched in the 19th century by Zionist scholars and advanced by the Israeli academic establishment. It was, argues Zand, an intellectual conspiracy of sorts. [Tom] Segev says, “It’s all fiction and myth that served as an excuse for the establishment of the State of Israel.”

thus, a renewed call came out from palestinian civil society seeking further support for the boycott:

However, Israel’s hidden goals were to deepen the rift already existing between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank, in order to further divide Palestinian people both politically and geographically.

We call for immediate action to be taken to achieve the following:

* An immediate end to the internal conflict, a revival of national unity as to avoid polarization on a regional and international level, which does not serve common Palestinian goals, and formation of a National Unity Government to lead the Palestinian people through these critical times.

* Immediate commencement of reconstruction work in Gaza with a priority of finding homes for those without. The reconstruction of Gaza should be handled by Palestinians as their knowledge of the affected areas is second to none. Although Israel should take full responsibility for rebuilding all destroyed civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, if reconstruction is to be bankrolled by the international community, reconstruction funds should be handled exclusively by a Palestinian team, which should be selected on the basis of transparency, accountability and professionalism, and should consist of members from civil society, the private sector and the government. This team should utilize their collective experience on a local, regional and international level and apply it as specified by the needs of the team.

* Cooperation with civil and popular initiatives in order to allow them the possibility to assist the victims of this war. In addition, the role and independence of civil society should also be respected.

* We, Palestinian non-governmental organizations declare our complete rejection of any aid coming from USAID due to the United States’ constant military and financial support to Israel, or from any other parties whose support to Israel facilitated Israel’s military aggression in the Gaza Strip.

* An end of the siege on Gaza and opening of the borders and crossings. In addition, a safe and free passage that links the West Bank to Gaza should be created, while avoiding anything that deepens the already existing division between the West Bank and Gaza.

* Preservation of the freedom of expression and right to criticize the performance of any authorities involved in the war, and let them be answerable for their respective roles. We call for the release of all political prisoners and the immediate cessation of arrests, while allowing media impartiality and freedom from external influence.

* Conducting a comprehensive revision of Palestinian negotiating policy to ensure an immediate cessation of the construction of Israeli settlements, the end of the siege on Gaza, the end of Israel’s policy to isolate Jerusalem and to end all Israeli aggression. This policy should be linked with existing UN treaties, resolutions and standards of international law and should help develop Palestinian political discourse and its mechanisms. The reference of negotiation should be based on the Palestinian Political Prisoners Initiative with an emphasis on the right to resist.

* The intervention of the international community in providing protection for the people of Gaza and the West Bank, ending the occupation of Palestinian territory by Israel and guaranteeing Palestinians’ right to self-determination, through application of international conventions and resolutions. It is not acceptable to place the Palestinians on the same level as the Israelis; it is now clearer than ever who the oppressor is and who is being oppressed.

* Bringing the Israeli authorities before a war tribunal to hold them to account for the damage and destruction they have caused in Gaza, and to ensure the appropriate reparations are made. We propose to form a national committee to work on this front.

* Upholding the current global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign to boycott Israeli goods, support of divestment initiatives and encourage sanctions against Israel, to re-enforce its aims in light of Israel’s recent war crimes in Gaza.

and one more thing about boycotts. i realize that it is difficult to call for anti-normalization with israeli people as well as institutions, but in practice i think this is necessary. this is, unfortunately, one of the problems with organizing, especially with americans who worry more about freedom of speech than palestinian people’s lives. also, it is important to remember that palestinians have a right to resist colonialism with armed resistance. while i support these boycott measures they cannot be adequately used to dismantle israeli terrorism, colonialism, and apartheid alone. just as south africa was not liberated through boycott, divestment and sanctions alone–it took a long armed resistance struggle as well–so too will be the case with palestine. both are needed. and both need to be supported.

and one final note: i highlighted the usaid boycott above in this most recent call from palestinian civil society. this is essential. there are so many ways in which usaid is a huge part of the problem. i was just invited to participate in a palestinian faculty development program from amideast, but declined because of its usaid funding. this usaid funding, for instance, makes it such that faculty from the islamic university of gaza are ineligible to participate regardless of which–if any–political party they belong to. rami has an amazing analysis of usaid that i think everyone should read. this is when i first met him–when he first gave this talk in beirut–and what instantly made me want to get to know him. i’ve been grateful ever since as he is one of the most committed revolutionary thinkers i know and one of the most devoted friends i have:

Development aid is the profession of donor organizations. They see development as a set of rational managerial prescriptions. For many beneficiaries in Lebanon, development is a direct transference of Western values, synonymous with “modernization”. Many recipients are trained to think this way: this is part of the package deal. The World Bank, the USAID, the EU and even the UNDP have been known to impose expertise and authority. They have also been accused of silencing alternative voices, promoting a dependent path to development, and keeping their eyes closed to the power imbalance they create. The job needs to be done, and often, these power imbalances are part of the job, and not just an externality.

Donors operate according to a semi-declared agenda related chiefly to politics (USAID) or politics and trade (EU). They impose strict conditions on the employment of consultants (international becomes a euphemism for “from donor country”). They recycle the funds in purchases and employment, and use aid to dump excess food production and distort local markets, with total disregard to citizen’s preference and health.

gaza & boycott, divestment & sanctions

the boycott movement is gaining steam globally. it is amazing to watch. it gives me hope that people will not forget gaza. that they will be steadfast and help palestinians in gaza to remain steadfast. there is even a new rap song by invincible, an anti-zionist jew, about the boycott which you can download for free if you click this link. here is the final verse (btw: i don’t think she’s israeli; as far as i know she is american):

Look, i’m Israeli, my government’s so arrogant
War criminals who call Palestinians terrorists
For resisting extinction and occupation
Comparing this to genocide and reservations of Native Americans
Its a massacre! Kick out they ambassadors!
Divest from their apartheid like South Africa
Boycott em like King to Montgomery buses,
Show them we want peace but only with real justice
They murdering the media and witnesses left
We gonna stop shopping at all the businesses that invest
In building they settlements and gentrifying our corners
Illegal walls over there and the US-Mexico border
Build a worldwide movement til the truth is heard
And supporting the Israelis who refuse to serve
All the C.O.s who AWOL when deployed to Iraqi stations
All the people rallying while the cops are chasing
If we enlisted in the system we got an obligation
We ain’t got the patience, time to stop the occupation

Boycott, Divest, and Sanction
Til there’s right of return for displaced and reparations

and lovely, lovely mark gonzales along with the other fabulous rappers from human writes project–nizar wattad and omar chakaki–did a benefit show for gaza the other day in my hometown los angeles. they called it “get down for gaza” and all of them emanated sheer brilliance.

it is important for these voices to be heard. to be shared. to empower us to continue with our resistance work. i’ve been thinking a lot about various levels of boycott and one thing i wish i could convey to the leadership of hamas is this: to take a strong moral stand and to refuse any reconstruction or humanitarian aid from the united states or the israeli terrorist state. this is what hezbollah did in 2006. this is why boycott is an essential element of resistance. if hamas does not take this stand they will be giving israelis jobs and they will likely be overcharged for those goods. they need to force humanitarian organizations to take the same moral stand. even the palestinian authority, that bastion of normalization, is shackled with respect to funds, some of which are for gaza:

Israel is preventing the Western-backed Palestinian Authority from transferring cash to the Gaza Strip to pay its workers and others hard-hit by war, Western and Palestinian officials said on Wednesday.

Setting up interim international committee that would fund, organize aid directed towards reconstruction of
The restrictions threatened to undercut the ability of President Mahmoud Abbas’ West Bank-based government to reassert a presence in the Hamas-ruled territory after Israel’s 22-day offensive, said the officials, who asked not to be identified.

The cash restrictions also underscored the wider hurdles facing reconstruction, estimated to cost more than $2 billion, in the Gaza Strip, where 1.5 million Palestinians live.

but there is good news because those who don’t normalize are rewarded. and those who do will be punished as is the case with veolia:

Today the Stockholm community council in Sweden announced that the French company Veolia who has been the current operator at the Subway’s in Stockholm County for 10 years lost the contract to the MTR-cooperation. The contracts for the coming 8 years is worth 3,5 Billion EURO and has been the biggest ongoing public contract procurement process in Europe.

Although the board for county’s public transportation ensured the decision was based on commercial factors the debate about Veolias involvement in a controversial tramway project in Jerusalem (Jerusalem light railway) has been intense in Swedish media.

The tramway connecting the Israeli west Jerusalem with illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory has triggered discussions about Veolia’s ethical policy. Public protests against Veolia has brought the attention to the dilemma of operating public services when you at he same time are involved in politically controversial activities.

As late as the day before the decision the community council received lists with thousands of signatories from people demanding the county council to choose an operator who should not be associated with violations of international humanitarian law.

– This is clearly another sign of the importance for commercial actors not to have their brand associated to unethical behaviour, in the case of illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian territory we can already see a trend of international companies who are moving out their operations from settlements, says Joakim Wohlfeil, at the Swedish development organization Diakonia.

likewise the movement to prosecute israeli terrorist leaders for war crimes is building, even among the some 17 israelis who are not with its state terrorism:

Anonymous self-described Israeli human rights activists have set up an Internet site detailing alleged war crimes committed by senior government officials and Israel Defense Forces officers. No known human rights organization is behind the site, whose founders refuse to give their names.

The site, www.wanted.org.il, includes “arrest orders,” complete with pictures and personal details, for Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and his two predecessors, Dan Halutz and Moshe Ya’alon, former air force commander Eliezer Shkedy and others. It also explains how to inform the International Criminal Court in The Hague of when the “suspects” are outside Israel, and hence vulnerable to arrest.

in england, unlike the u.s., students are becoming incredibly active stating sit-ins at their universities in solidarity with gaza and to force their universities to not grant honorary degrees to israeli terrorist war criminals:

Students at King’s College London are staging a sit-in protest on campus over the treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and the honorary doctorate bestowed on the Israeli president, Shimon Peres.

In the latest of a flurry of occupations at English universities in response to Israel’s actions in Gaza, more than 100 students took over a lecture theatre in the university yesterday.

Kings students are demanding that the university issue a formal statement condemning Israel’s bombing of Gaza and revoke the honorary doctorate Peres was awarded in November last year.

the students at king’s college also have a blog where you can track their activities. and thankfully this energy is contagious as now the students at warwick university they have also staged a sit in and here are their demands from their blog:

1. Warwick University should suspend all relations with companies which supply the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This includes BAE Systems, MBDA, QinetiQ and Rolls Royce.

2. That the University donate old computer equipment and textbooks to universities in Palestine, specifically those that were partially destroyed in Gaza during the current Israeli military operation.

3. That the University fund and provide logistical support for a series of talks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

4. That there be no legal, financial, or academic measures taken against anyone involved in or supporting the sit-in. This extends to the Student’s Union. Students involved should be guaranteed free movement in and out of the space.

and today at oxford university students took over a building in solidarity with gaza:

More than 80 students on Thursday took over one of Oxford University’s buildings to demand the university releases a statement condemning Israel’s recent offensive against Hamas in Gaza.

“Palestinians have the same rights as we do, including the right to education as enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights,” a spokesperson said.

and mounting pressures for a war crimes trial for israeli terrorists like livni is already having an effect:

Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni nearly cancelled a planned trip to Belgium over concerns that the Israeli leader could face legal actions for war crimes.

this is exactly what we want. we want them to live in fear of facing up to the responsibilities for the crimes they commit. and we must keep this up. it is essential that we keep up the pressure on this and let this energy spread globally. where are the american students? why aren’t they occupying university buildings to get their university and government’s attention on gaza? i especially wonder about the new york university students and faculty in light of this recent news that sami sent me:

After months of planning and promoting, NYU has announced that it will delay the opening of its Tel Aviv study abroad site due to enrollment difficulties following military strife in the area. The program, which was slated to launch this month, will not host students until September 2009.

“Because of the conflict in Gaza and Israel and a consequent decline in enrollment that would compromise the quality of our program and its cocurricular offerings, the university chose to delay the opening of its NYU in Tel Aviv study abroad program,” university spokesman John Beckman said.

someone needs to do something at that university. something big to shut this program down. i know that most of them drank the obama koolaid, but really, the pressure must be kept up. (yes, i know he ordered guantanamo to be closed today, but that is merely symbolic: he didn’t order any of the cia secret torture prisons to be shut, for instance.) obama just delivered a speech in which he said “hamas must recognize israel” and that “israel has a right to defend itself.” no palestinians with a spec of self respect should recognize israel’s right to exist. no one should recognize israel’s right to exist for that matter. they do not. jews have a right to exist as citizens wherever the live, of course. but israel is a colonial terrorist regime and does not have a right to exist. joseph massad lays out why they don’t have these rights in his beautiful essay on electronic intifada, but here is an important point he makes, which, of course, obama doesn’t get:

The major argument here is two-fold, namely that while Israel has the right to defend itself, its victims have no similar right to defend themselves. In fact, the logic is even more sinister than this and can be elucidated as follows: Israel has the right to oppress the Palestinians and does so to defend itself, but were the Palestinians to defend themselves against Israel’s oppression, which they do not have a right to do, Israel will then have the right to defend itself against their illegitimate defense of themselves against its legitimate oppression of them, which it carries out anyway in order to defend itself legitimately.

robert fisk, commenting on obama’s vapid inaugural address noted what people here are thinking (though if read the full article i should warn you that no one here is thinking about anything close to two states or israeli terrorists’ security; they are thinking about the right of return–except, of course, for normalizers and collaborators):

It would have helped if Obama had the courage to talk about what everyone in the Middle East was talking about. No, it wasn’t the US withdrawal from Iraq. They knew about that. They expected the beginning of the end of Guantanamo and the probable appointment of George Mitchell as a Middle East envoy was the least that was expected. Of course, Obama did refer to “slaughtered innocents”, but these were not quite the “slaughtered innocents” the Arabs had in mind.

There was the phone call yesterday to Mahmoud Abbas. Maybe Obama thinks he’s the leader of the Palestinians, but as every Arab knows, except perhaps Mr Abbas, he is the leader of a ghost government, a near-corpse only kept alive with the blood transfusion of international support and the “full partnership” Obama has apparently offered him, whatever “full” means. And it was no surprise to anyone that Obama also made the obligatory call to the Israelis.

or perhaps obama should take a lesson from mark steel who correctly points out the reality and cuts through the propaganda of what really goes on here in palestine:

The worrying part about whether the ceasefire in Gaza can hold together will be whether the international community can stop the flow of arms to the terrorists. Because Israel’s getting their planes and tanks and missiles from somewhere and until this supply is cut off there’s every chance it could start up again.

The disregard for life from these terrorists and their supporters is shocking. For example Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist, wrote that the purpose of the Israeli attack must be to “inflict a heavy death toll and heavy pain on the Gaza population”.

Replace “Gaza” with “western”, and that could have been written by al-Qa’ida. Maybe this is the problem: the Israelis are writing their policies by downloading statements from an Islamic Jihad website and just changing the place names. Also, if the Israelis think the Hamas rockets are as lethal as they say, why don’t they swap their F-16 fighters and Apache helicopters for a few of them?

there are so many reasons why one must keep up this pressure. the “war” on gaza may be over, but the root of the problem is not. obama’s new appointment to the region, george mitchell, will bring more of the same. in a speech he just delivered he wants the same old 2-state solution that will continue the basically 4 state reality of palestinians in gaza, the west bank, 1948 palestine, and refugees in the region and around the world. this is unacceptable.

i hate to break it to you, but foreign policy with respect to palestine is not going to change. it will be more of this same, which kevin alexander gray characterizes as follows:

When you think about it, US foreign policy toward Palestine has been a segregationist or apartheid policy. In his 2006 book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, former President Jimmy Carter likened Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and its repression of Palestinian people, both within Israel and in the occupied territories, to the state of apartheid, which existed in South Africa prior to the early 1990s. Apartheid means ‘separateness.’ And there is little debate that Zionism, the official ideology of Israel, is predicated on religious and ethnic separation or segregation. A self-described Jewish state — that is, a state that operates of, by and on behalf of a single group of people — cannot also be a secular, democratic state where persons of all religious and ethnic backgrounds are treated equally. A Jewish state that has never declared its borders, that has annexed and occupied territories, flouting international law and subjecting the indigenous population to poverty, indignity, theft, torture and death, is not only a colonialist outlaw state; it is also racist. As one Palestinian gentleman remarked to me, “While blacks in America were once considered subhuman, Palestinians are not considered humans at all.”

And Israel could not have pursued any of these policies without the steadfast financial and political support of the United States. It is no secret that Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. aid in the world. It receives more than $15 million every day from the United States, or $30 billion a year by most estimates. The F-16 fighter jets and Apache helicopters that have dropped hundreds of tons of bombs and missiles on Gaza are made in the United States and provided to the Israeli government. Every American taxpayer underwrites Israeli-style apartheid.

in south africa zwelinzima vavi the general secretary of the congress of south african trade unions (COSATU) also calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions in solidarity with palestinians:

1. All trade unions, social movements, NGOs, religious organisations and academics to support and actively participate in the boycott, disinvestment and sanctions campaign against Israel, refusing to handle anything that comes from and that goes to Israel in order to isolate it until it submits to international law and withdraws from all the occupied territories

2. We urge all companies and all shipping companies to refuse to carry any shipment of arms to Israel. Any shipping company who carries these weapons has the blood of the people of Gaza on its hands!

3. We call upon all governments to enforce international law, by refusing to recognise a country that makes a mockery of international law and the pursuit of human dignity. In this regard, they must expel Israeli ambassadors and representatives in order to ensure that we isolate it throughout the world until it subscribes to the ideals of human dignity! In this case, we salute the bold example of Venezuela and call upon all countries to emulate it.

4. We call upon international media to expose the real truth behind the war and not to hide the real issues in the name of objectivity, by projecting an image of Israel as a state under siege by terrorist, thus discrediting the legitimate resistance of the Palestinian people. Balanced reporting does not mean, massaging issues and diluting the truth even in the face of insurmountable evidence against the wrong side.

5. We call upon the international trade union movement to emulate the heroic example of the Norwegian Locomotive Drivers Union, which on January 8 ensured that all trains in the whole of Norway, and all trams and subways in Oslo, stood still for two minutes in protest against Israeli invasion. In the process, they issued the following information for passengers: “Because of the situation in the Gaza Strip, the Locomotive Drivers Union in Norway has decided to demonstrate our solidarity with the Palestinian people. This will be organised by adding two more minutes of stoppage at the station. The same action applies to all passenger trains in Norway simultaneously. We demand the immediate withdrawal of all Israeli troops from the Palestinian territory. Thank you for your understanding”. This is very inspiring coming from Europe where the tendency, even amongst progressives, is to be apologetic about Israel and condemn the Palestinian struggle as acts of terrorism

6. We call for particular focus on targeting the conservative US and British foreign policies, which requires that we work with our counterpart unions and progressive organisations in these countries to effect radical foreign policy changes in relation to the Middle East. This should include exposing the complicit role of these two states in perpetuating the violence and arming Israel, while rhetorically positioning themselves as anti-terrorists.

7. We acknowledge the progressive role of our government in relation to the situation in the Middle East, including its humanitarian support for the suffering people of Gaza, but believe that there is a lot more we can do working together. In this instance, we call for the cessation of all trade relations with Israel.

8. The Arab League must be brought under pressure to act in solidarity with the Palestinian people and limit the chances of some states openly collaborating with Israel, but to lead the global offensive for the isolation of Israel, owing to their strategic proximity in that area.

all of this is necessary and all of this must be cultivated, we must grow it. and quickly. we cannot give up on this momentum. and we must fall into the false notion that the war on gaza is over. it’s not. today, for instance, the israeli terrorist navy fired on palestinians from the sea:

Israel’s navy shelled the Gaza Strip on Thursday morning, injuring seven Palestinians, including five fishermen.

Mu’awiyah Hassanain, the director of Ambulance and Emergency Services in the Palestinian Health Ministry told Ma’an that Israeli gunboats shelled the As-Sudaniya area northwest of Gaza City.

He said the wounded people were taken to Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

Hassanain added that rescue teams are still working to recover the corpses, many of them now decomposing, of those killed in Israel’s three-week war on Gaza.

Separately, two Palestinians died in Egyptian hospitals where they were treated for wounds from Israel’s three-week offensive.

Medical officials identified them as: Tamer Omar Al-Louh, 22, from Gaza city and Azzam Mu’awad Ash-Shafe’y, 24, from Rafah.

The death toll from the war is now 1,330, with more than 5,000 injured.

and the suffering for those families who survived has not ended. in some ways it is only beginning as al jazeera’s sherine tadros continues to follow up with the samouni family–the family who saw 30 of its members massacred by israeli terrorists. this report shows nawal samouni who gave birth to her daughter while under attack by israeli terrorists:

in light of this and many other massacres haidar eid, a professor in gaza, also continues his call for boycott, divestment and sanctions arguing beautifully about the lack of moral courage from the region and the world and connecting these massacres to the south african shapeville massacre, which was a turning point in the anti-apartheid struggle:

For 22 long days and dark nights, Palestinians in Gaza were left alone to face one of the strongest armies in the world — an army that has hundreds of nuclear warheads, thousands of trigger-happy soldiers armed with Merkava tanks, F-16s, Apache helicopters, naval gunships and phosphorous bombs. Twenty-two sleepless nights, 528 hours of constant shelling and shooting, every single minute expecting to be the next victim.

During these 22 days, while morgues overflowed and hospitals struggled to treat the injured, Arab regimes issued tons of statements, condemned and denounced and held one meaningless press conference after another. They even held two summits, the first one convened 19 full days after the assault on Gaza began and the second one the day after Israel had declared a unilateral ceasefire!

The official Arab position vis-a-vis the Palestinians since 1948, with the exception of the progressive nationalist era (1954-1970) has been a lethal cocktail of cowardice and hypocrisy. Their latest collective failure to break the two-year old Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip and their lack of action to support Palestinians under brutal military assault must be questioned.

Arabs must demand answers from the spineless Arab League because there was no brotherly solidarity shown to Gazans during the Israeli assault. There was no pan-Arabism evident in their platitudes. Some, shockingly, even found it an appropriate time to blame Palestinians for the situation they found themselves in, instead of demanding that Israel stop its merciless assault.

In Gaza today, we wonder how the expressions of support for us in the streets of Arab capitals can be translated into action in the absence of democracy. We wonder whether Arab citizens of despotic regimes can nonviolently change the system. We torment ourselves with trying to discern the means that are currently available for democratic political change. With the ongoing massacre in Gaza, and the construction of an apartheid system in Palestine (in all of historic Palestine, including the areas occupied by Israel in 1967), we know that to survive, we must have the support and solidarity of our Arab brothers and sisters. We saw the Arab people rise to that challenge and stand by us for 22 days but we did not see their leaders behind them.

Archbishop Desmund Tutu of South Africa said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” The UN, EU, Arab League and the international community by and large have remained silent in the face of atrocities committed by Apartheid Israel. They are therefore on the side of Israel. Hundreds of dead corpses of children and women have failed to convince them to act. This is what every Palestinian knows today — whether on the streets of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank or refugee camps in the Diaspora.

We are, therefore, left with one option; an option that does not wait for the United Nations Security Council, Arab Summits, or Organization of Islamic Conference to convene: the option of people’s power. This remains the only power capable of counteracting the massive power imbalance in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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.

Similarly, the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions has been gathering momentum since 2005. Gaza 2009, like Sharpeville 1960, cannot be ignored: it demands a response from all who believe in a common humanity. Now is the time to boycott the apartheid Israeli state, to divest and to impose sanctions against it. This is the only way to ensure the creation of a secular, democratic state for all in historic Palestine.

eid’s words are the only way out: the people’s option. and the people’s option, unlike the “white man’s” option (aka the west) is liberation of palestine through various modes of resistance, including boycott divestment and sanctions. fortunately there is now a campaign for american academics to lend their support to this method of resistance. our call is now published on electronic intifada and you may visit our website as well. there is an email address for you to endorse the call.

israeli terrorists kill hamas cat: maybe now israeli terrorists will be tried for war crimes?

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i just got back from all of the hoop jumping one must go through if you happen to have a passport that allows you to go to palestine and lebanon. loving people in both places means you need two passports. but i had to jump through an extra hoop today because i had my jordanian stamp in my passport that i only use for palestine and i had to give it to the u.s. embassy this morning (the rage i had to repress in order to sustain that little visit is going to last me a while; i cannot wait until the day when i can burn that passport and never have to use it again). anyway, i had to go to some jordanian office called “foreign borders.” it is a place where they will give you a valid stamp in the passport you need it in. but while i was running around jumping through hoops before my trip to beirut tomorrow, i missed recent developments on several fronts. the first is that a group that i and another friend belong to on face book called “prevent a new genocide: save gaza” was hacked by zionist terrorists (see photo above). i immediately removed myself from the group as apparently my friend told me that if it was hacked that maybe those internet zionist terrorists could hack your overall facebook account. these terrorists changed the logo to something called the “jewish internet defense forces” and other items in the group. this is what we are up against, we, those who seek to tell the truth about gaza.

and i had a thought this morning about those people who stay silent, who do nothing in the face of this massacre-genocide-holocaust that israeli terrorists are perpetrating against the people of gaza who are trapped in a prison with nowhere else to go: americans, and perhaps europeans as well, don’t really care about human life, especially if those humans are arabs and muslims (especially if they are arab and muslim men). so i started thinking that the photographs i posted were not having an effect on my readers. silly me, i thought photographs of all the hundreds of massacred and injured palestinian children might tug at the heartstrings of some people who may have a shred of morality left, who may get up off their asses and do something. but then i remembered: what americans do care about are dead animals. so here are the animals who have been killed by israeli terrorists. do you think they were launching hamas resistance rockets too?

hamas cat killed by israeli terrorists in gaza
hamas cat killed by israeli terrorists in gaza

meanwhile, more children are being massacred in gaza by israeli terrorists, for those who care:

it is the same way that american academics are not doing s*&^ with respect to the academic boycott of israel. clearly, american academics feel that their precious little freedom of speech is more important than palestinian lives. that much is obvious. but i thought that maybe they might give a s(*& about the targeting of schools. at this point israeli terrorists have targeted the islamic university of gaza, several schools, including an amerian school in gaza, and today not only did israeli terrorists target a school: they targeted AN UNRWA SCHOOL BEING USED TO HOUSE FAMILIES FLEEING FROM ISRAELI TERRORISTS. this is one of 11 schools for internally displaced palestinians–5,000 of them are staying in these make-shift shelters. here is ma’an’s report on the attack on the unrwa school/shelter:

Three Palestinians were killed overnight in an Israeli attack on a United Nations school that was housing people displaced by the violence in Gaza, the UN’s relief agency for Palestinian refugees said on Tuesday.

In a statement circulated on Tuesday, UNRWA said that Israeli forces attacked the Asma Elementary School in Gaza City, which is currently sheltering 400 people who fled their homes in the town of Beit Lahiya.

The school was clearly marked as a United Nations installation. The three men, 24-year-old Hussein Mahmoud Abed Al Malek Al Sultan, 19-year-old Abed Samir Ali Al Sultan, and 25-year-old Rawhi Jamal Ramadan Al Sultan, were killed at 11:30 last night. The three men, all from the same family, were killed as they left the school toilet at eleven thirty last night when the school compound took a direct hit.

The director of the UN general commissioner’s office in Gaza Adnan Abu Hasanah said that another UN facility, the Ash-Shouka School in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, was also bombarded. At this time there were no details available about the civilians who had taken shelter in the school.

UNRWA is strongly protesting these killings to the Israeli authorities and is calling for an immediate and impartial investigation.
“Where it is found that international humanitarian law has been violated, those responsible must be held to account,” UNRWA said.

Well before the current fighting, UNRWA said it had given to the Israeli authorities the GPS co-ordinates of all its installations in Gaza, including Asma Elementary School.

“This tragic incident again illustrates the most urgent need for an end to the fighting. It also underlines the sad reality facing those fleeing the violence that unless there is a lasting ceasefire, there will remain pervasive risks to civilian lives in Gaza today,” the agency added.

apparently this happened late last, but it wasn’t reported earlier when i read the news. the united nations had told the israeli terrorists and gave the israeli terrorists their coordinates so that it would not be a target. but if you remember the israeli terrorist invasion of lebanon in july 2006 they did the same thing: they targeted the united nations there too.

i should say there are a few people responding to the israeli terrorism targeting schools (meanwhile there is some motherf*&$^% AMERICAN israeli terrorist soldier that alan fisher just interviewed on al jazeera english who was rationalize the targeting of this unrwa school). of course the initial calls came from palestinians like the palestinian association of university teachers in gaza:

The Palestinian Association of University Teachers in Gaza calls upon all peace-loving, freedom-loving nations, NGOs, universities, intellectuals, cultural and academic institutions, trade unions and syndicates, as well as human rights organizations all over the world to:

1. Immediately impose boycotts, sanctions and divestment on the Apartheid Israeli state.

2. Try the Israeli generals for their on-going crimes against the Palestinian people.

3. Demand a halt to Israel’s savage aggression, end its brutal occupation and lift its suffocating and lethal siege on the Gaza Strip.

4. Implement all UN resolutions related to the inalienable national rights, particularly UN resolution 194 calling for the right of return for the Palestinian refugees to their homes and their property from which they were uprooted by the terrorist Zionist gangs in 1948.

5. Comply with 4th article of the Geneva Convention, the international human rights law, the international humanitarian law, and the universal declaration of human rights as well as all other related agreements.

6. Lift the draconian blockade against Gaza as stipulated by the 1948 convention on Genocide, and consider anyone participating as a war criminal who must be tried for crimes against humanity.

Israel is a rogue state that is a threat and danger to world peace and security; therefore she must be banished and punished by the international community, before it is too late for the people of Palestine, the people of Israel and the people in the surrounding countries.

for those who don’t understand why teachers in palestine would accurately describe the terrorist state of israel as a “rogue state” you may want to look at how one of its chief terrorists and propagandists rationalizes the targeting of a university in gaza:

Tzipi Livni shrugged off the criticism of Israel’s bombing of structures near the Islamic College in Gaza, being heard throughout the academic world.

During Sunday’s cabinet meeting the foreign minister said “here we have departments of life sciences, while for them it is the department of death sciences.”

According to intelligence information gathered by the IDF and Shin Bet, the compound near the Islamic college, bombed twice in the past week, was being used as a chemical lab and as Hamas’ explosives lab in Gaza.

Military officials said terrorists had been working there to produce improved rockets and manufacture mortar shells that were later fired toward Israel’s home front.

The Prime Minister’s Office and the IDF dubbed the lab as “the Palestinian Rafael (Israel’s leading developer of arms related technology).”

a new group, california scholars for academic freedom has come up with a response to these terrorist acts and i am hoping that these folks step up a serious boycott campaign in the u.s.:

California Scholars for Academic Freedom, a group of 100 scholars at 20 California institutions of higher learning, condemns in the strongest possible terms the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip that have targeted the Islamic University and other educational sites.

While we decry Israeli war crimes and violations of human rights, and condemn the massive Israeli bombardment of Gaza which has caused hundreds of deaths, as educators in California institutions of higher learning, we are especially appalled at the destruction of educational institutions and student casualties.

On 27 December, Human Rights Watch reported that an Israeli air-to-ground missile struck a group of students leaving the Gaza Training College, adjacent to the headquarters of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in downtown Gaza City, killing eight students and wounding 19 others. Two days later, on 29 December 2008, Israel bombed the Islamic University of Gaza, destroying the science laboratory block and destroying or damaging other blocks of buildings, including the library. Although Israel has claimed that the science laboratory facilities were used as “a research and development center for Hamas weapons,” this claim has been denied by officials of the Islamic University, and according to the New York Times of 1 January 2009 Israel has not produced any evidence for its claim.

These direct assaults on Palestinian students and educational institutions are only the latest chapter in Israel’s ongoing denial of the right to education guaranteed in international conventions. Since the first uprising in 1987, Israel has systematically frustrated or denied Palestinian students their right to study, not just in the occupied territories, but at universities abroad, as most recently demonstrated by the Israeli government’s refusal to allow students awarded prestigious Fulbright fellowships to leave for the United States. University students living in Gaza have not been able to leave in order to attend universities throughout the world, let alone Birzeit University, and students in the West Bank itself have to negotiate roadblocks and checkpoints to get to their classes — often never making it.

The background to the current crisis is too complicated to detail in a press release. It is, however, important to note, first, that under international law, Israel is still an occupying power, maintaining control of Gaza’s borders, air and water space. It has completely isolated Gaza and wrought a humanitarian catastrophe, as noted by UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk. Second, the current bombing campaign by Israel constitutes collective punishment, which is a violation of international law. Third, Hamas won the majority of seats to the Palestinian Legislative Council in the internationally acknowledged fair election of January 2006.

As California Scholars for Academic Freedom, we will continue to play our mandated role to educate the international public about the right to education and the egregious violation of that right by the Israeli government. We will participate in campaigns aimed at exerting pressure on international authorities and the governments of Israel and the US to implement an immediate cease-fire and begin preparations for an end to the blockade and the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

We insist that Israel has the responsibility to ensure the right to education as mandated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which Israel ratified in 1991. The undermining and disruption of Palestinian education as a result of the deliberate destruction of academic facilities constitutes a violation of a basic human right that will have long-term negative political, economic, and humanitarian ramifications for all people involved.

California Scholars for Academic Freedom is a one-year-old group of 100 academics who teach in 20 California institutions. The group formed as a response to various violations of academic freedom that were arising from both the post-11 September 2001 climate of civil rights violations and the increasing attacks on progressive educators by neo-conservatives. Many attacks were aimed at scholars of Arab, Muslim or Middle Eastern descent or at scholars researching and teaching about the Middle East, Arab and Muslim communities. Our goal of protecting California Scholars based mainly in institutions of higher education has grown broader in scope. We recognize that violations of academic freedom anywhere are threats to academic freedom everywhere.

also, david lloyd set up a website–he’s related to the california group–has a new website set up and is calling for academics to sign a letter addressed to president-elect barack obama, who i promise you will be far more of a terrorist than george w. bush ever was when it comes to this region in which i live. here is david’s letter:

Dear President-Elect Obama
By David Lloyd

Once, in what was perhaps an unguarded moment, you stated that: “Nobody’s suffering more than the Palestinian people”. After days of relentless Israeli bombing in the Gaza strip that has already killed over four hundred people, most of them civilians or policemen, and injured more than two thousand, many of whom may yet die for lack of medical supplies and facilities, your words have never rung more true. And yet, so far, your only response to this latest assault on the Palestinians, that the UN Secretary General diplomatically calls “disproportionate”, has been to defend Israel’s right to respond to mostly harmless rocket attacks.

Does this mean that on the long way to the White House you have trimmed your sails and, for the sake of securing the power you will soon assume, fear now to speak truth to power? Does this mean that, unlike Dr. King, your sense of justice is adjustable for the sake of political expedience? Those who supported you from the early days of your primary campaign did so not on account of your response to economic crisis, but because they believed in your sense of justice and your commitment to put an end to business-as-usual in Washington, and because they believed in your genuine desire to shape a new and different world order.

In 1981, while you were an undergraduate at Occidental College, you were among the first of a courageous group of students and faculty who, while the cause was still unpopular or unheard of, spoke out for divestment from the apartheid regime in South Africa. You knew then that it was imperative to place pressure on a racist regime which shamefully oppressed a black and coloured population that was discriminated against, subject to pass laws and control of its every movement, parceled into Bantustans, and subject to detention, torture and extra-judicial execution. When the black population protested, like the school children of Soweto, they could be summarily shot down by police or army. The ANC, under Nelson Mandela, was proscribed as a terrorist movement, its leaders were imprisoned, tortured or killed, its guerrillas faced the overwhelming power of the South African army, equipped and trained in part by the United States and its European allies. A regime that was so unafraid to use violence in the defense of its discriminatory and racist regime, and so unashamed to do so in the face of international condemnation, could only understand the language of force. The divestment movement in which you so actively participated understood that the euphemistically and cynically named policy of “constructive engagement” was a moral and practical failure and that only the non-violent pressure of a financial boycott on the South African regime had any hope of bringing an end to apartheid without an horrific bloodbath.

Public figures as diverse as Bishop Desmond Tutu and President Jimmy Carter have recognized that Israel too is an apartheid regime, in practice if not in name. South Africa, now a functioning multi-racial democracy, was a white state for a white people. Israel is a Jewish state for a Jewish people. Its non-Jewish, mostly Palestinian Arab citizens are discriminated against in numerous ways, economically and civilly. The dispossessed and ethnically cleansed Palestinian populations, dispersed in the diaspora and in the refugee camps of Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon, are denied the internationally recognized right of return. They have had their lands and homes taken from them by armed and “legal” force, are subject to collective punishment, prolonged states of siege, the absolute and deliberately destructive control of their daily movements. Where South Africa instituted the pass laws, the checkpoints that have proliferated all over the West Bank and at the exits from Gaza prevent students from reaching their schools and hospitals, workers from reaching their places or work, keep farmers from their fields, the sick from the few hospitals that survive to serve them. The illegal settlements, that in contravention of all international laws regarding occupation have proliferated across the West Bank, are designed to be permanent “facts on the ground” and have divided recognized Palestinian territory into segmented islets, into besieged Bantustans, with the intent of preventing a contiguous Palestinian state. A so-called security wall, illegally built, as even the Israeli Supreme Court recognized, on Palestinian territory, has cut farmers from their lands and turned formerly prosperous villages into isolated prisons. Regular Israeli military incursions into Palestinian cities and refugee camps, and bombings from the air, have killed innumerable civilians, many of them children. Since the election of Hamas, in fair and open elections, Israel has subjected the civilian population of Gaza to a prolonged state of siege, designed to suffocate them into submission, depriving them at will of water and power, medical supplies and food, and of access to the outside world. The most recent, all-out assault on Gaza, the disproportionate and bloody use of excessive force, is no act of self-defense, but the dramatic extension of an insidious policy of extermination of a people that refuses to disappear.

Every one of these acts is a crime against humanity. In their ensemble, they constitute one of the most massive, ethnocidal atrocities of modern times. Alone among nations, Israel acts in flagrant violation of international law and UN resolutions and does so with impunity. That it can do so is in large part the consequence of the uncritical support offered to Israel by a succession of American administrations. Without the military and economic aid of the United States, which amounts to more than a third of all US foreign aid, Israel could not have mounted its violent offensives against the Palestinians or Lebanon, could not maintain its security apparatus, could not afford the illegal settlements that seek to expand Israel into what remains of Palestinian territory. The United States has supplied the F-16s that are bombarding the Palestinians, their schools, police stations and mosques, and the cluster bombs that continue to kill and maim children and farmers in southern Lebanon. America continues to support Israel to the tune of billions every year at the expense of US taxpayers and at the expense of its moral standing in the world.

You will continue to do so, according to your own web page, because “our first and incontrovertible commitment in the Middle East must be to the security of Israel, America’s strongest ally in the region.” You and your Vice-President, Joe Biden, not only “defend and support the annual foreign aid package that involves both military and economic assistance to Israel”, but moreover “have advocated increased foreign aid budgets to ensure that these funding priorities are met.” In doing so, you lend your support, in the name of the United States, to a regime no less criminal in its acts and in its policies towards its own minority population and its dispossessed Palestinian neighbors than South Africa was in the 1980s. Then, it was argued, South Africa was our strongest ally in the region, a bulwark in the war against communism, a crucial supplier of uranium and other minerals, a prosperous Western-style democracy, if not the only democracy on the continent. To bring down the South African apartheid regime, it was argued, would be to create chaos in southern Africa, unleash a bloodbath in which whites and blacks alike would suffer, and pave the way for a communist or dictatorial postcolonial regime. The divestment movement, a non-violent coalition of students and academics, union members and churches, came together in the spirit of the Civil Rights movement to challenge those self-serving assumptions. It changed the direction of US foreign policy, disgracing its support of a racist regime, and placed effective pressure on the apartheid regime to begin serious negotiations with the ANC. Through a combination of diplomacy and divestment, we did end apartheid, making way for a functioning multi-racial democracy that confronts its challenges, indeed, but has not dissolved into chaos or tyranny.

It is time for the United States to place a similar pressure on Israel. That Israel has been America’s beneficiary, unchallenged in its war crimes and in its acts of terror, uncontested for its racist civil constitution and illegal occupations, has not been to the United States’ advantage. On the contrary, such unquestioning support of Israel has fueled the legitimate anger of the Islamic world, supplied the justification for terrorism, and continually tarnished the United States’ reputation among the democracies of the world. That the United States has stood so often alone in defending Israel before the court of world opinion in the United Nations is not a sign of its virtue, but of the obstinacy and arrogance of its stance.

But it is not for the sake of the reputation or advantage of the United States that you should take a new path in relation to Israel. It is in the name of justice. It is not just to support the territorial ambitions, realized settlement by settlement, of a Zionist minority in the region. It is not just to continue to supply Israel with the most advanced weapons and the most deadly arms in order that it may murder civilians, children and policemen. It is not just that we should support Israel with all our diplomatic force and financial aid, while leaving Israel’s victims to die slowly for lack of food, medicine, water and power. It is not just that we should sacrifice a dispossessed people for the security of a state that discriminates and expropriates, continually and violently ignores UN resolutions and international appeals, collectively punishes those whose right to resist occupation is recognized in international law. There is no road to peace through such injustice.

It may be that the compromise in the end will be the establishment and security of two separate states. Almost certainly, the only hope of a lasting solution is a single state in Israel/Palestine, committed to the civil and human rights of all peoples within its boundaries, irrespective of religion or ethnicity. That is, after all, the standard to which we hold all other states in the world, Israel alone excepted. But no solution at all will be possible until we hold Israel accountable for its criminal violence and its illegal acts, until we cease to supply it with the means to pursue a course of domination and expansion, with arms and warplanes, with finance and diplomatic support. It is time for constructive disengagement from Israel, financial, diplomatic, military. What worked in the case of South Africa, divestment and pressure, may finally work in the Middle East.

Without such justice, there will be no peace.

David Lloyd
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, January 1, 2009

you may click on the link at the top of the letter if you would like to find out how to become a signatory to it.

there are now 593 martyrs. 2,800 wounded. 75% of gaza has no electricity. hospitals are running on generators.

unrwa’s john ging just said: “the international community must be held responsible for their action and inaction.”

gaza blood on bush and obama’s hands

gaza

day 5. i woke up to the news of 70 more strikes from tuesday’s carnage. 385 dead and 1,720 injured, many critically injured will die because there is no more medicine. many are buried beneath the rubble, in the tunnels that israeli terrorists bombed with american-made weapons. many were buried before their bodies were counted. but as rania reminds us they have names and we cannot forget them, bury their names beneath the headlines:

Five sisters, aged two to seventeen, were killed in their home in Jabaliya refugee camp. Their mother, Samira Ba’lousha, had the heavy task of removing them from the rubble. These children—Jawaher, four, Dina, eight, Samar, twelve, Ikram, fifteen, and Tahrir, seventeen, were not firing rockets into Israel; they were sleeping in their beds. With space running out in the cemetery, the Ba’lousha children were forced to share their graves.

Nawal Al-Lad’a, a forty-year old mother, did not find the bodies of her two sons in the medical compound, so she left to look for her children amid the rubble.

When one of the mosques was attacked, one of 7, a child was killed. Ziad Abu Teir. He was 8.

Fatimah Salem, 53, lies in a coma in Al-Shifa hospital, torn apart by debris while at work for a local charity near the targeted prison in Gaza City. “My mother was not firing rockets at Israel,” said her son, Majed. (source: IRIN)

Luma, 4, and Haya, 6, two sisters from the Humdan family from Biet Hanaon. Targeted and killed by air Israeli missiles while attempting to leave their neighborhood on a donkey carriage

I’m trying to get more names of the martyrs, the killed and wounded Palestinians. It is important, at the very least, to know their names.

Record!
I am an Arab
I have a name without a title
Patient in a country
Where people are enraged
My roots
Were entrenched before the birth of time
And before the opening of the eras
Before the pines, and the olive trees
And before the grass grew

(excerpt from “Identity Card,” by Mahmoud Darwish)

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the mood in nablus is not good. i forgot to mention this yesterday as my head is swimming with too much information right now, but a common refrain i heard among my students yesterday was that “palestinian blood is cheap.” there is a feeling that they are all alone. yesterday i posted an important video of sheren tadros reporting on al jazeera highlighting the fact that there is nowhere for palestinians in gaza to run to. but here, too, people feel that there is no one to go to for help. that their calls for ending this bloodbath fall on deaf ears. from the arab world, from the european union, from the united states (who is a full participant in this blood bath because it allows its weapons to be used to commit this massacre), from the united nations. we hear only the mild criticisms, never a demand or a show of force to stop this madness. the quiet statements of those whose shallow words suggest complicity not outrage. not a determination to stop the israeli terrorists. people in nablus are afraid to speak out, too, as there are a number of palestinians who have spoken out publicly in mosques and other public spaces and as a result the palestinian authority has put them in prison. enemies are every where. from within and from outside. one of the student activists at my university was chatting with me last night. she wants to erect a tent in downtown nablus in martyr’s square to have a public memorial for the martyrs of gaza; hamas and fatah leaders in the city couldn’t agree. so no tent. more silence. the same is true in nasra where palestinians were attacked by israeli terrorists for protesting the brutality in gaza.

but the main enemy here, aside from the obvious israeli terrorists, are their american partners in state terrorism. for some context here is a report from nick spicer on al jazeera yesterday showing all of the american-made materiel being used here by israeli terrorists that americans paid for with their tax dollars:

of course we can expect george bush to be silent as he has millions of iraqi, lebanese, afghan, and palestinians’ blood on his hands. barack obama showed his true colors when he started his u.s. presidential campaign, though people in hawai’i protested outside his home there yesterday. one writer observed yesterday that palestinians don’t get to have their 9/11: everywhere else when there is a massacre claim that they, too, now have their 9/11, but not palestinians. but the green party, the party which i voted for when i cast my ballot for president in favor of cynthia mckinney, spoke out yesterday against israeli terrorist war crimes. cynthia mckinney was on the boat yesterday that was shot at and rammed by israeli terrorist naval boats yesterday had this to say about american support for israeli terrorism in the black agenda report:

Former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney has called upon President-Elect Barack Obama to “please, say something about the humanitarian crisis that is being experienced by the Palestinian people, by the people of Gaza.” McKinney spoke to CNN news from the Lebanese city of Tyre, where she had debarked from the relief vessel Dignity after it was rammed on the high seas by an Israeli patrol boat, early Tuesday morning. Passengers also report the Israelis fired machine guns into the water near their ship….

“I would like to ask my former colleagues in the United States Congress to stop sending weapons of mass destruction around the world,” said McKinney, who was the Green Party’s presidential candidate in November. “As we are about to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, let us remember what he said. He said that the United States is the greatest purveyor of violence on the planet. And guess what: we experienced a little bit of that violence, because the weapons that are being used by Israel are weapons that were supplied by the United States government.”

A CNN reporter who accompanied the passengers and crew of the Dignity confirmed that the boat “was sailing with full lights” when “one of the Israeli patrol boats, with no lights on, rammed the Dignity, hard.”

Israel blames the collision on the relief vessel.

Said McKinney: “Our boat was rammed three times, twice in the front, once on the side…. What the Israelis are saying is outright disinformation.”

McKinney compared the Israeli action against the Dignity to the attack on a U.S. naval vessel during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. “I recall that there was another boat that was attacked by Israelis, and it was the U.S.S Liberty.” Thirty-four crewmen died and 170 were wounded by fire from Israeli planes and torpedo boats. The Israelis claim it was a case of mistaken identity. “People would like to forget about the U.S.S. Liberty,” said McKinney, “but I haven’t forgotten about it and the people who were on that ship have not forgotten what happened to them.”

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nora barrows-friedman on flashpoints, unlike all other u.s. news media outlets, continues its extensive coverage of the american-israeli terrorist project in gaza. the last two days have been excellent with many voices of people of gaza where you can hear the war going on, you can hear american apache helicopters and f16s dropping bombs on the people of gaza. as of this writing links to the audio files from the last two days are not posted, but if you click on the link for the podcast you can download episodes where you can hear sameh habib, safa joudeh, and caoimhe butterly who details being terrorized by israeli terrorist naval ships yesterday on their way to gaza by boat.

i finally heard from sameh habeeb. i had a mutual friend from gaza city go over to his house and make sure he was okay, thankfully he is. and he blogged yesterday updating us on the continuing humanitarian toll (though i recommend listening to him on flashpoints as well). here is what sameh had to say about the situation in gaza city yesterday:

On the midday of Tuesday, a new phase of the military operation started. F16s started to break the sound barrier of Gaza. Raids of sonic bombs occurred causing a trauma and panic atmosphere across Gaza residents.

The death toll has reached 390 with more than 1,700 injured, 2 hundreds are in critical conditions while there is a severe shortages in medicines. Medical sources announced a collapse in medical sector and Gaza hospitals. Muhamad El Khozndar a doctor at Al Sehfa’ hospital said on a local radio station that Gaza hospitals are no longer working properly. Bandaging stuff, medical tools, medical machines and general cleaning unavailable at the hospitals. Additionally, windows of the hospitals crashed due to a nearby bombings hit a mosque.

The early hours of Tuesday night witnessed a set of Israeli missiles west of Gaza City. Medical reports said a number of injured arrived to Al shifa’ hospital including some casualties. Many tanks shelled the norther eastern area of Gaza City.

It’s remarkable that humanitarian stage in Gaza is totally collapsed and disastrous as aspects life vanished. All oil derivatives of fuel, gasoline and cocking gas unavailable in Gaza due to a siege imposed two years ago. Bread, milk, rice, sugar, cooking oil are not available and what is inside Gaza is limited quantities stored at homes.

Add to that, it is very dangerous for people to leave their house in search of food supplies. Any mobile car, bicycle or walking persons turned to targets for Israeli military machine.

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mohammad on kabobfest also has another report detailing the situation with his family in gaza whom he cannot see because he is in ramallah:

Again, my nightly call to my uncles in Gaza proved to be deeply uplifting. I made my first call to uncle Mahmoud. Our previous calls had not lasted for much longer than ten or fifteen minutes, but today he talked for almost an hour. Again, his voice was strong and defiant, even more than yesterday. He told me the Israeli’s seem to have run out of targets to pound, hitting the same ones over and over again during the day. The skies over Khan Younis were quiet, he said, and had been for more than half an hour. There literally were no more official buildings to destroy.

I asked him if he would mind, in the few hours a day that he had electricity, to type up some of his experiences so that I could share them with the world. He told me he understood what I wanted to do, but that he really had no desire to sit and write. He liked to keep himself busy, but he didn’t mind talking. I asked him if there were any shops open in the area. He said only a few small family stores would open, but supplies were fast dwindling. Sugar, he said, was gone. I asked him what they had had for dinner; rice and some chicken. His children were still suffering. His youngest son, Hosam, was wetting and defecating himself. Hanan, the three year old, had run to her dad when she heard the buzz of the Israeli drones, telling him she wanted to hide because she didn’t want the ‘zanana’ to bomb her. (Zanana is the term Palestinians give to these drones because of the continuous buzzing sound they make). He held her until she fell asleep. The children were still waking up hysterical in the night every time a missile hit nearby.

The thing that struck me most was how high Mahmoud’s morale was, especially considering the state he had been in two days earlier. He told me people understood that Israel wanted to destroy the spirit and will of the people, and that it was highly unlikely to end the killing any time soon. He said the graphic images of the dead and wounded don’t tell half the story; he visited one of the hospitals today and told me the injuries are horrific beyond description. Very few of the almost 2,000 wounded would ever recover. The pain is definitely there, but the people are caught between trying to mourn the dead of yesterday, living today and the idea of ground invasion tomorrow. He touched again on the topic of the 20 or so friends they had lost, telling me a lot of the men had been buried in Gaza City rather than their hometown of Khan Younis because they’d had to be buried en masse to make space in the hospital morgue. He tells me the current reality is that, with the unbearable amount of casualties, people are being buried without ceremony as quickly as half an hour after their bodies are found. It’s unreal, he said, that you can have breakfast with a friend and then find out he has already been buried half an hour later. Regardless, when victory means simply surviving the onslaught, he tells me many people are confident Israel cannot achieve any of its aims. Before I hung up my mom took the phone to speak to his wife and give her condolences on the death of her brother. He was 23 years old.

I talked to uncle Jasim next. He had just gotten power and was flipping through the channels to check the news. He was livid at the Egyptian regime and their staunch refusal to open the Rafah crossing despite the massacre and the decimated infrastructure. Jasim has never been by any means a supporter of Hamas, but he tells me the people are rallying around the movement and will never allow Israel to impose Mahmoud Abbas on them. We talked about the extended range of the rockets fired by the resistance. For the first time, they had hit what is now known as Kiryat Gat, and which, until my grandparents were ethnically cleansed from it in 1949 (i.e. a year AFTER Israel had won its so-called War of Independence) was known as al-Fallujah.

I asked him if the Israeli army was still sending out recorded messages to peoples phones threatening to bomb their houses. He laughed a little and said that everyone is getting them, several times a day. His neighbor lived in a squalid one-room structure and had gotten one on his cell phone. Jasim’s daughter Yaqeen had picked up the house phone today and heard one of the messages, and it had terrified her. I told him about the protests and show of solidarity across the world, and told him to keep his chin up and his morale high. Even Dubai had canceled all New Year’s celebrations. I reminded him that if Israel could not destroy the people’s spirits with the atrocities it had been committing over the past four days, it had already lost this war.

My final call was to my uncle Mohammad in Gaza City. I was hoping he would be at least as upbeat as Mahmoud, but he sounded completely worn out. He barely sleeps, usually staying up all night as the bombing continues unabated around him, while the cold comes in through the windows kept open to prevent them from shattering every time a missile hits. He told me last night had been especially tough, particularly the bombing of the Ministries Compound with thirteen missiles almost simultaneously. The Shams Sports Club is just down the street and was destroyed. Why would they destroy a sports club, he asked. How can the world really believe they’re only targeting militants?

He said they had just gotten power after an outage of almost 12 hours, and was following the news of a French proposal for an immediate ceasefire. The skies had been quiet for 20 minutes, he said. He was hopeful the ceasefire would come into effect. I told him to keep his morale up, but that it was very unlikely Israel would agree to a ceasefire. After all this bombing and killing, it had only managed to put more Israelis under the fire of Palestinian homemade rockets. Stopping now would be, in the eyes of the Israeli public, a huge failure. And with elections coming up and Israeli elections traditionally decided by Palestinian body counts, it makes no sense domestically for Israel to stop now.

I let him know of the deep censorship in the Israeli media regarding the massacre in Gaza, how very few images of the carnage and death have been broadcast. In this kind of media environment, it is easy to say why many Israelis seem to believe their airforce and navy are only attacking militants. Either way, he said, he would still hope for a ceasefire. He was worn out.

It is scary, but uplifting, to think that through such abnormal suffering, people with a cause will manage to rally and hold their spirits. I truly believe Israel cannot win this particular war; Zionism has no place for the possibility that people do not give up in the face of overwhelming military force, and that is why Israel has used its military might for decades in an attempt to cow Palestinian nationalism and crush the struggle for liberty. The solution was and will always be simple: end the colonization of Palestine, the denial of Palestinian rights, and the continued expulsion of the Palestinian people from their lands. People are quick to point out when Palestinians use the limited means they have at their disposal to attack Israel, but without addressing the historical injustice imposed on the Palestinian people that continues to define their existence and oppression, there can never be a peaceful solution.

Until then, Israel will continue to commit atrocities in an attempt to impose an impossible reality, and its victims will continue to fight back.

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gaza blogger laila el haddad, who is currently in north carolina, writes about calling her parents who are trapped in the gaza prison (click on link below to read that part) and then writes hauntingly about what it means to be trapped in this prison of gaza while american-made bombs are dropped by israeli terrorists flying american-made f16s:

 

The rains of death continue to fall in Gaza. And silently, the world watches. And silently, governments plotted: how shall we make the thunder and clouds rain death on to Gaza?

It will all seem, at the end of the day, that this is somehow a response to something: rockets; broken truces; irreconcilability…

It is as though the situation were not only acceptable, but normal in the period prior to it all. As though a calm that provides no relief — political, economic, or otherwise — for Gaza’s stateless, occupied, besieged Palestinians were tenable. As though settlements did not continue to expand; walls did not continue to extend and choke lands and lives; families and friends were not dislocated; life was not paralyzed; people were not exterminated; borders were not sealed and food and light and fuel were in fair supply.

But it is the prisoners’ burden to bear: they broke the conditions of their incarceration. Nevertheless, there are concerns for the “humanitarian situation”: as long as they do not starve …

The warden improves the living conditions now and then, in varying degrees of relativity, but the prison doors remain sealed. And so when there are 20 hours of power outages in a row, the prisoners wish that they were only eight; or 10; and dream of the days of four.

My friend Safah Joudeh is also in Gaza city. She is a 27-year-old freelance journalist.

“At this point we don’t feel that it is Hamas being targeted, it’s the entire population of Gaza,” she says. “The strikes have been and I need to stress this, indiscriminate. They claim that the targets have been buildings and people that are Hamas-affiliated, but the employees in these buildings are public sector employees, not political activists … other targets include homes, mosques, the university, port, fishing boats, the fish market.”

No one has left their home since Saturday, she says.

“The streets were full of people the first day of the attacks, naturally. They were unexpected and came at a time when people were going about their daily business. The streets have been completely empty the past two days. People have closed up shop and trying to stay close to their families and loved ones. Many homes are without bread, the bakeries stopped working two days before the attack because of lack of fuel and flour.”

The small shop down the street from my parents’ home, next to the Kinz mosque where many of the Remal neighborhood’s affluent residents attend, opens for a little while after prayer. My father goes and gets whatever he can — while he can.

They have one package of bread left, but insist they are OK.

“Those with children are the ones who are truly suffering. Umm Ramadan’s grandchildren will only sleep in her arms now. They are wetting their pants again.”

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dr. mona el farra, who is also a blogger, and who is now in england, writes about her home in gaza city from afar as well:

I’ve spoken to several of my fellow doctors in Gaza and each one of them is overwhelmed and demoralised. Even with all of their training, the material conditions in Gaza are preventing them from doing what they are capable of. They could have saved many more lives.

I remember how ambulance drivers were not allowed to reach the injured in previous military attacks on Gaza. Many lives could have been saved if the ambulances reached the injured at the right time. A few minutes can be the difference between life and death. I wonder whether we will hear reports like this again once the emergency situation is over and there is time for truth and reflection.

The first military air strikes struck at the exact time that schoolchildren make their way home. Where I live in Gaza City, several primary schools are very close to the police headquarters that were among the first targets. These horrifying facts explain the high number of women and children among the dead. Thirty children and nine women have been reported dead and another 130 children and 38 women injured.

I’ve spoken with friends and family in Gaza and my heart sank further with their firsthand accounts of the death and destruction.

On a personal level, I am mourning the loss of one of my cousins, Ibrahim Mahmoud El-Farra, aged 22. He was killed in the first attack on the presidential palace. F16 fighter planes fired three big missiles at the building. Neighbours tell me the ground shook and that the blast broke all the windows of my nearby apartment building.

My cousin, and an unknown number of other victims, is still under the rubble. The scale of destruction is too large for Gaza’s small number of rescue workers. They are slowly pulling body parts out of the rubble as Israeli airstrikes make more and more piles of rubble and people.

The number of reported deaths will increase in the next few days as more bodies are recovered and more of the seriously injured cases die because their serious but treatable wounds cannot be treated in Gaza.

gaza-hospital

what i am documenting here and have been documenting for the last five days is a catalog of war crimes of grievous violations of international humanitarian law, of the geneva convention. here is a recent statement sent to the united nations by various palestinian human rights organizations beseeching them to do something:

The following intervention was submitted to the UN Human Rights Council on 30 December 2008:

General Assembly to act under Resolution 377

Dear Member State of the UN Human Rights Council,

Representing the Palestinian human rights community, we write to you with an urgent request for intervention by the UN Human Rights Council to put an end to the war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) as a result of the Israeli occupying forces’ ongoing attacks on the Gaza Strip. At least 310 persons, including 37 children, have been killed and more than 1,000 Palestinians have been injured. The civilian population of the occupied Gaza Strip will inevitably continue to suffer heavy losses without the external intervention of the international community; this is confirmed by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s assertion that this is a “war to the bitter end.”

Grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention amounting to war crimes, have been committed, including, willful killing and the extensive destruction of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly. Furthermore, the continuing collective punishment of the Gaza Strip has left medical services unable to deal with the increasing number of victims.

As member States of the UN Human Rights Council, you were fully apprised of the human rights situation in the OPT, during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Israel earlier this month. The dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip was a dominant concern raised by States during the review. Despite recommendations to Israel concerning its obligation to improve the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, the capacity of Gaza’s civilian infrastructure to respond to the humanitarian needs of the population after days of bombardment has now reached breaking point. You have further been notified by Special Rapporteur Richard Falk of Israel’s failure to cooperate with his mandate and his call on “all Member States, as well as officials and every relevant organ of the United Nations system, to move on an emergency basis not only to condemn Israel’s serious violations, but to develop new approaches to providing real protection for the Palestinian people.”

We note that the Security Council has thus far failed to take concrete steps despite the gravity of the situation. However, General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto’s statement that “the time has come to take firm action if the UN does not want to be rightly accused of complicity by omission” offers a platform for concrete action that should be supported by the Human Rights Council.

It is our considered judgment that the only effective measure the UN Human Rights Council can take under these specific circumstances is to issue a resolution requesting the General Assembly to convene under GA Resolution 377, “Uniting for Peace,” with a view towards the imposition of collective measures against the Israeli Government. We urge this approach having duly considered the implications for the Human Rights Council as well as the human rights of the Palestinian people should Israel again impede or ignore the Council’s interventions. We believe that such a step would halt the escalation of civilian deaths, offer hope to civilians in despair over the political deadlock and ultimately serve the long-term interests of peace.

Sincere regards,

Palestinian Human Rights Community

Al-Haq
Adalah
Arab Association for Human Rights-HRA
Addameer Prisoners’ Support & Human Rights Association
Ad-Dameer Association for Human Rights
Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights
BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights
Defence for Children International
Ensan Center for Democracy & Human Rights
Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR)
Jerusalem Legal Aid & Human Rights Center (JLAC)
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)
Palestinian Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession, Musawa
Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies (RCHRS)
Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC)
Women’s Studies Center
The Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations’ Network – PNGO

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it is israel’s lies that perpetuate this bloody, devastating war on innocent gaza civilians. but the world watches, waits, says nothing, does nothing. my students’ words haunt me–that palestinian blood is cheap, that no one cares about them not even other arabs. what do we have to do to get people to care? should the people of gaza convert to judaism? would that make the world care? then they would be jewish and somehow they would count as human beings? maybe then the world would react swiftly and with determination?

too, i can’t help thinking about the political rationale here. of course as i write about all the time the two-state solution is bulls*&^, not possible, and entirely based on a fraudulent process that has consistently disempowered and dispossessed palestinians even more than before. but i have always thought that this process was more like a three state solution: gaza, 1948 palestine, and the west bank. but this utter devastation of gaza makes me feel like maybe they are working for a two state solution by wiping out gaza. if they wipe gaza off the face of the earth then the israeli terrorists can finish off their ethnic cleansing project in 1948 palestine (as i quoted tzipi livni stating last week that this is her intention) and then maybe palestinians can have the prison that is the west bank–22% of it that is. this is what seems to me to be the larger design on palestine right now by the zionist, terrorist, jewish state and its american collaborators.

on (post)racism

dsc00004 This picture is from the coffee shop where I buy my Arabic coffee every morning across the street from the university. One cup of Arabic coffee costs me $.28 (what exactly are those who buy their lattes from Starbucks–when they should be boycotting–paying now?). I started my day as usual buying my coffee, walking to class, greeting students. But from the very moment I arrived at the coffee shop and for the rest of the day I was confronted by happy Palestinians who were so excited that Barack Obama would bring them change. Like many Americans who should know better, too many Palestinians drank the Koolaid. I was confronted by this phenomenon more than usual as we had another teacher’s strike today and so I spent a large part of the day in the university cafeteria where everyone wanted to share their hope with me. Unfortunately, I cannot share it with them.

I would like to believe. But I can’t. Domestically I would like to believe that America has changed, that it is a post-racist society–as so many journalists were quick to call it today–but I know better. It is clear from Obama’s platform that he does not care about the main issues affecting the things that make African Americans suffer most (though the other African American candidate, who I voted for, Cynthia McKinney takes a strong stand on all of these). I don’t see how electing a Black president is anything other than symbolic. What matters more is the candidate or president’s politics and policies. Where is his position on reparations for slavery? His position on the prison industrial complex? On the tremendous class/race divide in the U.S. that is intricately connected to the poverty of so many African Americans and people of color? Indeed, where is is commitment to the poor or homeless? In this election we saw race baiting of Arab Americans and a rise in Islamophobia. Therefore I find it very difficult to believe that somehow the U.S. magically entered a post-racial epoch. Moreover, aside from American myopia that places Americans and their concerns at the center of the universe, Obama’s foreign policy is really no different than any other. Thus, the euphoria here–as well as other parts of the world as displayed on Al Jazeera–is mind boggling. Only in Kabul, Tehran, and Baghdad did I hear any expression of caution or concern that things would remain the same.

obama_racismisoverFortunately, not everyone has lost their minds. Kabobfest posted yet another one of their lovely satiric buttons. And Angry Arab sums up what we can expect from President Obama in this part of the world in contradistinction to the Arab media. One of the most brilliant African American novelists, Ishmael Reed has a rather different take on this Obama-fever sweeping the world. Thankfully, he did not drink the Koolaid:

To many, Martin Luther King’s dream has been realized. He said, ” I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.” Obviously me and my over sixty pals are still lingering in those crooked places and refusing to process the sunlight that is available to everybody else. (Tavis Smiley is our leader). People like us are going to have to adjust to this post race America which resembles a painting by Edward Hicks. A place where Blacks have reached the Promised Land?

What does this promise land look like? This Obamerica? Shortly after Obama is sworn in, the police, instead of subjecting blacks and Hispanics to capricious traffic stops, will only stop them to offer free tickets to the policeman’s ball. Throughout the country, they will address blacks and Hispanics as sir and ma’m. The overcrowding prison problem will end, because all of the blacks and Hispanics who’ve been sent there as a result of prosecutorial and police misconduct – probably half – will be set free. And all of those police who have murdered unarmed blacks only to be acquitted by all-white juries will be retried. Blacks will have the freedom to shop in department stores without being watched.

In the media, all of the black Hispanic and Native American and Asian American journalists, who, according to the Maynard Institute’s media watcher, Richard Prince, are being “shown the door,” will be rehired. The progressive media will spend as much time on the torture of black suspects in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles as they do torture at Gitmo. Blacks will be liberated from the crime, entertainment and sports pages exclusively and appear in other sections. More cerebral sections as scientists, engineers, astronomers. Jonathan Klein and other cable producers will stop managing black opinion so that it doesn’t alienate its white audience and voices other than those of black correspondents from Rev. Moon’s church will be awarded air time. Global warming denier Michelle Bernard will be replaced by Jill Nelson.

Jesse Jackson will be appointed lead editorial writer for The Wall Street Journal. and Al Sharpton will assume duties at The National Review. Rush Limbaugh will inaugurate a series called “Great African American Inventors.” Spike Lee will be invited to run Columbia Pictures and Amy Goodman will take over at NBC. The Newspaper Society of America will apologize for the lynchings and civil disturbances caused by an inflammatory media over the last one hundred or so years. A choked up Rupert Murdoch will read the statement on behalf of his colleagues.

In an emotional press conference, John McWhorter, Ward Connerly and Shelby Steele will admit that they have been tools of the Eugenics movement and donate all of the millions they have received from far right organizations to scholarships for black and Hispanic students. Blacks will have as much access to a good education as those members of Al-Qaeda and Saddam’ s government who studied in the United States. This will end the policy of you educate them, we fight them.

Gertrude Himmlefarb and Lynne Cheney will insist that the works by Hispanic, black and Native Americans be added to the cannon. Cornel West will co-host a show with Dr. Phil. The New York Review of Books will end its white only policy and begin to resemble America. Phillip Roth will admit that all of his novels are autobiographical. Several prominent abstract expressionists will confess that they can’t draw.

All of the blacks and Hispanics who have been driven out of New York, Oakland, and San Francisco, as a result of the policies of ethnic cleansing, advocated by Jerry Brown, Giuliani and Newsom, will be invited to return. The banks that aimed toxic mortgage loans to blacks and Hispanics, who would have qualified for conventional loans had they been white, will halt the foreclosure process and renegotiate these loans. CEOs on Wall Street will forego bonuses and golden parachutes. Sales conferences will be held at Day’s Inn. For rent signs will go up on K street. The American Enterprise Institute will close its doors.

“Obama will call for an end to warfare by air so that these forces will at least look their victims in the eye before murdering them.”

The right will stop using worn out phrases like “political correctness,” and “victimization” and hire Sean “Puffy” Combs to provide them with some hip language.

An Obama administration will launch the Obama doctrine, which will advocate friendly aggression and soft diplomacy in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and other global spots where American forces are killing people. These trouble spots will be inundated with artists, writers, dancers and musicians, engineers, doctors and people who speak their languages.

American students will be required to lean an Asian and African languages well as a western one. He will call for an end to warfare by air so that these forces will at least look their victims in the eye before murdering them. No more drones. Missiles. Members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will address him as Mr, President, both in private and in public. The white house, haunted by the ghosts of the Indian fighters and slave owners and KKK sympathizers like Woodrow Wilson, who once ruled from there, will be demolished and the first family will reside in a St. Louis condo as the country seeks a fresh start. Cindy McCain will sell her wardrobe and donate the proceeds to rebuilding New Orleans’ 9th ward. Any one outfit that she wears on a given day would help to rebuild a block. John McCain will acknowledge the black members of his family whom he has snubbed up to now. Obama critic Governor Schwarzenegger will be among the new president’s well wishers. He will offer to improve president Obama’s physique by sending him some steroids from his private stash. And, by the way, doesn’t an effort to put some meat on somebody’s bones begin at home?

A big step toward a green America would be to return the land that was stolen from Native Americans. (The southwest will be returned to Mexico).

And as a gesture to this new Era of Good Feeling, George Bush, Condi Rice, Henry Kissinger, Dick Cheney, Judith Miller, Osama Bin Laden and Jonathan Klein will turn themselves in at the Hague.

By way of contrast, Michael Eric Dyson seems to believe that this election could signal a post-racist society (re-read Reed’s piece if you believe that…):

Contrary to many critics, his election does not, nor should it, herald a post-racial future. But it may help usher in a post-racist future. A post-racial outlook seeks to delete crucial strands of our identity; a post-racist outlook seeks to delete oppression that rests on hate and fear, that exploits cultural and political vulnerability. Obama need not cease being a black man to effectively govern, but America must overcome its brutal racist past to permit his gifts, and those of other blacks, to shine.

Our belief in Obama must become contagious; it must spread and become a belief in other blacks who have been quarantined in racial stereotype. Regarding Obama as an exceptional black man — when he is in fact an exceptional American — hampers our whole nation’s desire to clear the path to success for more like him. Obama is not the first black American capable of being president; he’s the first black American who got the chance to prove it.

We should not be seduced by the notion that Obama’s presidency signals the end of racism, the civil rights movement, the struggle for black equality or the careers of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. A President Obama would not have come to be without the groundbreaking efforts of Shirley Chisholm, and especially Jackson. Obama is able to be cool and calm because leaders like Sharpton, at least in the past, got angry.

Or consider Shelby Steele’s assessment (referenced in Reed’s article above):

Does his victory mean that America is now officially beyond racism? Does it finally complete the work of the civil rights movement so that racism is at last dismissible as an explanation of black difficulty? Can the good Revs. Jackson and Sharpton now safely retire to the seashore? Will the Obama victory dispel the twin stigmas that have tormented black and white Americans for so long — that blacks are inherently inferior and whites inherently racist? Doesn’t a black in the Oval Office put the lie to both black inferiority and white racism? Doesn’t it imply a “post-racial” America? And shouldn’t those of us — white and black — who did not vote for Mr. Obama take pride in what his victory says about our culture even as we mourn our political loss?

Answering no to such questions is like saying no to any idealism; it seems callow. How could a decent person not hope for all these possibilities, or not give America credit for electing its first black president? And yet an element of Barack Obama’s success was always his use of the idealism implied in these questions as political muscle. His talent was to project an idealized vision of a post-racial America — and then to have that vision define political decency. Thus, a failure to support Obama politically implied a failure of decency.

Also, compare Reed’s witty and accurate portrayal of what America and the world will decidedly NOT look like with a President Obama with some of these naive reports about America’s so-called post-racial society–the first one is from a story quoting President Bush if that is any indication:

“They showed a watching world the vitality of America’s democracy, and the strides we have made towards a more perfect union.

“They chose a president whose journey represents a triumph of the American story – a testament to hard work, optimism, and faith in the enduring promise of our nation.

“Many of our citizens thought they would never live to see that day.

“This moment is especially uplifting for a generation of Americans who witnessed the struggle for civil rights with their own eyes – and four decades later see the dream fulfilled.”

Even during the darkest hours of his presidential campaign, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois held on to his improbable, unshakable conviction that America was ready to step across the color line. On Tuesday, America leaped.

Obama Is Elected President as Racial Barrier Falls

We’ve come a long, long way: With Barack Obama’s election, no longer is a black candidate the champion of a minority. He has triumphed as the choice of a majority

In this way, Obama redefined the country for us, but our responses involved generational differences. For younger people, white and black, his vision seemed entirely straightforward. It is the country they already know, and they expressed great enthusiasm. Finally, they said, a politician who recognizes the racial differences that are part of their lives and no big deal. For young blacks and other minorities, Obama’s place at the pinnacle of official power lifts a coarse cloak that has blanketed their lives and dreams–the stultifying burden of being judged, whether they succeed or fail, on the basis of their race.

Some are more cautious in their analysis, indicating the fact that there is still a racial divide in the U.S.:

Analysts from both parties hailed Obama’s victory as a “milestone” in the troubled and often violent history of U.S. race relations given widespread scepticism as recently as six months ago that a black man — Obama is actually biracial — could be elected president.

Obama did not get as many white votes as Mccain, the split being 55-43 percent in Mccain’s favor. But some 95 percent of black voters, who turned out in unprecedented numbers, voted for Obama.

There is another paradox about the world’s view of the election of Mr. Obama: many who are quick to condemn the United States for its racist past and now congratulate it for a milestone fail to acknowledge the same problem in their own societies, and so do not see how this election could offer them any lessons about themselves.

To be sure, if Obama wins, it will not mean the end of racism. Prepare for a backlash. And prepare for a generalized sentiment in the white population that there no longer is any need for affirmative action once a black man sits in the Oval Office.

And to be sure, if Obama wins, it will not mean the end of injustice in America.

No Obama’s win will not only not mean an end of injustice in the U.S. It also will not mean an end of injustice in the world. For we can expect more of the same over the last four years. Rania told me this morning she had hoped McCain had one. I agree. If McCain had won the world would still have an American president in power who is obviously vying for American empire and hegemony. With Obama it may look more like Clinton. For the war in Iraq–and the bombings in Sudan for that matter and many covert operations around the globe–continued unabated throughout the Clinton administration in the form of sanctions and continued air strikes. We may not have had troops on the ground, but there was decidedly a war in terms of tremendous civilian casualties. With a Bush or McCain administration the racism in America is more obvious, too. To be sure, it exists under all American presidents and will continue under Obama, but when it is obvious it makes it easier to fight.

We can expect more of the same here. The same over the past eight years and the same as literally today. With the breaking of a truce by an Israeli invasion of Gaza overnight, of course supported by U.S. weapons, with the assault on an Afghan wedding today, with increasing attacks in Iraq (my oh my that surge is a-workin’!), with the continued sonic booms from Israeli Terrorist Forces (ITF) that went on all day over Nablus. These are the modes of racism that the U.S. is complicit in here in the Middle East:

After a wave of bombings yesterday has not abated today. Where at least 11 people were killed and 26 wounded in two separate blasts–one in a car park in eastern Baghdad, the other on a roadside in northern Baghdad.

A four-month ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza was in jeopardy today after Israeli troops killed six Hamas gunmen in a raid into the territory.

Hamas responded by firing a wave of rockets into southern Israel, although no one was injured. The violence represented the most serious break in a ceasefire agreed in mid-June, yet both sides suggested they wanted to return to atmosphere of calm.

Israeli troops crossed into the Gaza Strip late last night near the town of Deir al-Balah. The Israeli military said the target of the raid was a tunnel that they said Hamas was planning to use to capture Israeli soldiers positioned on the border fence 250m away. Four Israeli soldiers were injured in the operation, two moderately and two lightly, the military said.

One Hamas gunman was killed and Palestinians launched a volley of mortars at the Israeli military. An Israeli air strike then killed five more Hamas fighters. In response, Hamas launched 35 rockets into southern Israel, one reaching the city of Ashkelon.

There were also house demolitions today in Al Quds by the ITF:

The Israeli military wounded on Wednesday 12 Palestinian residents and detained several others as the residents defied an Israeli army bulldozing of two homes and weddings hall in the occupied east Jerusalem.

The demolition took place in the Shu’fat refugee camp in the eastern outskirts of the occupied city, as crowds of angry inhabitants attempted to prevent the demolition.

Israeli soldiers, accompanying the bulldozers, clashed with the residents, causing the injury of 12 and the arrest of several others, media sources and witnesses reported.

In Nablus, where I live, last month saw 40 Palestinian political prisoners kidnapped according to a report released today:

Israeli arrests in the northern West Bank’s Nablus reached 40 during the month of October as invasions continued nearly daily.

The military checkpoints surrounding the city were also the scene of frequent arrests this month including 16 year old Ibrahim and an unidentified 17 year old accused of carrying an explosive at Huwara. Mosques were also raided, along with Nablus Governorate villages.

I wish i could believe in the hope that many Americans are feeling today. I wish I could imagine an American president changing the society–mostly in ways that are in line with Cynthia McKinney or Ralph Nader. But I just can’t. This in spite of the glaring racism of Israeli society (they’ve learned well from the Americans):

No declaration of support and no promising statements can diminish the fear many Israelis’ have of U.S president – elect Barak Obama.

An elderly woman of Iraqi descent tells her daughter: “I saw them dancing. They’re like the Arabs.” The daughter replies: “I know – he’ll support the Palestinians.”

“This is the end of us. He will take away our military foreign aid grants,” another man states. These recent responses to Barak Obama’s election are typical of many Israelis.

These people identify Obama, black and bearing Hussein as a middle name, as a supporter of the oppressed in Third World countries, and fear that he will automatically side with the Palestinians.

Khalil Bendib "Party's Over"

So I don’t believe in change. Not now. Not until I see it with my own eyes. Call me cynical. Maybe I am. But I see no signs of this election meaning anything for the end of racism in the U.S. nor the end of America’s racism and imperialism directed against the rest of the world. Perhaps what is most appalling and disappointing to me with this election and why I found it so deeply upsetting is the way in which this euphoria made smart people make stupid choices, made leftists and radicals go into hiding. I want change I can believe in, too. I want a democratic electoral system that doesn’t thwart the ambitions of independent or third-party candidates rather than the usual suspects who hinder the democratic process so we cannot even hear them in the debate or read how they fared in the election. I want an end to racism AND imperialism, too. But I need evidence first that there is actually someone in power who is committed to those goals. And I don’t see it in a coward like Obama who showed his true colors when he refused to defend Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, and Rashid Khalidi. I would have much preferred any of the latter three running for president. Now that might be change I can believe in.

demonizing, criminalizing, terrorizing

I spent the Eid Al Fitr holiday pretty much locked up in my house so I could write. I left a couple of times to get food at the market in the old city, but I barely left my house. This, of course, was my choice. When I went back to school today and I asked a colleague about his Eid break he said he felt like he was in a prison. He has family in Tulkarem, a city under an hour away from Nablus, but he couldn’t see his family. We were under closure in the West Bank for part of the break courtesy of the Israeli Terrorist Forces. So he also spent the week at home (albeit not literally just in his house like me), but for him it was not a choice. Those who are from the villages around Tulkarem who began harvesting their olives this week found themselves under assault by illegal Israeli settlers, as with most of the people trying to pick olives. The Zionists who live here as colonists and control Palestine do their best–as settlers or soldiers– to control the movement and livelihood of Palestinians. Apparently, even if you are clinically dead, you are not granted safe passage: this is true of a woman from Gaza who is dead, by the way, because the Zionist state wouldn’t allow her to go to Jordan for a bone marrow transplant. Americans cannot imagine something like that. They take their freedom of movement for granted. Imagine the outrage if when my mom went to Boston from Los Angeles for her bone marrow transplant in 1990 if foreign occupying soldiers prevented her from doing so. Imagine if she died as a result of this. Perhaps then there would be outrage.

But Americans take simple freedoms like moving from home to work unhindered for granted. They expect it. This is all about privilege. Though in the U.S. right now some of this privilege is connected to one’s class–can you afford the gasoline for your car? Or can you access public transportation? And always it is about white privilege. Driving while Black (and I would add Brown) means that you cannot travel freely even between home and work because when you get in your car you are likely to be pulled over, searched, and perhaps arrested. Muslims have been experiencing this phenomenon at airports increasingly since 9/11. African Americans have known this to be a part of their lives for decades. Being Black or Brown in American means being branded criminal. This is similar to the ways that Americans and Israelis alike brand Palestinians terrorists. This idea is embedded into the culture and psyche of Americans and Israelis alike. (Just check out this latest piece showing that leading Israeli terrorists made a campaign video for Obama.)

But what happens when you’re a white guy from Chicago and you get branded by Sarah Palin as a terrorist? This was a story a few months ago. And actually I know Bill Ayers as a colleague. Last year we spoke together on a panel at DePaul University. He was one of the only other people speaking there who could be considered a comrade in terms of his political positions about Palestine. I respect him and I respect his work. At first when I saw the reports on Al Jazeera of Palin talking about this so-called “terrorist” I couldn’t figure out who it was. Then I sat down to read the newspapers and I first saw this New York Times blog that related the narrative:

“There is a lot of interest, I guess, in what I read and what I’ve read lately. Well, I was reading my copy of today’s New York Times and I was interested to read about Barack’s friends from Chicago.

“I get to bring this up not to pick a fight, but it was there in the New York Times, so we are gonna talk about it. Turns out one of Barack’s earliest supporters is a man who, according to the New York Times, and they are hardly ever wrong, was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that quote launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and US Capitol. Wow. These are the same guys who think patriotism is paying higher taxes.

“This is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America. We see America as the greatest force for good in this world. If we can be that beacon of light and hope for others who seek freedom and democracy and can live in a country that would allow intolerance in the equal rights that again our military men and women fight for and die for for all of us. Our opponent though, is someone who sees America it seems as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country?”

First, let’s get one thing straight: Palin does not read The New York Times. I would be shocked if the woman knew how to read at all. But she makes a point to emphasize this at the beginning because of the Katie Couric interview in which Palin could not name one newspaper or news source that she reads. Her outrage in the above quote about this is laughable–as is her notion that the New York Times “hardly ever gets it wrong.” Really? Interesting. Come to think of it maybe she does read once in a while–maybe that is why she’s so clueless about the Middle East. Or, I take that back–I think maybe someone reads to her. (Then yesterday on Fox News she stated that she was just too “annoyed” at those questions to be able to answer. She was outraged that she was not allowed to just read from her talking points. That a journalist actually was doing her job. Oh, yeah, that’s why she had that deer in the headlights look on her face.) And, actually, if you read the original New York Times article that Palin was referring to, you’ll see that it is really pointless. It makes it clear that although their political work may have overlapped over the years, Bill Ayers and Obama are hardly friends. And I haven’t asked Bill, but I suspect it’s mutual given Obama’s selling Palestinians down the river and a whole lot of other progressive issues.

it’s this insidious demonization of people–always already Brown, Black, poor, politically radical–that is so disturbing. As is the silence surrounding the presidential campaign of Cynthia McKinney and her running mate Rosa Clemente. With all this talk about the way in which somehow race and gender are no longer factors I find it compelling that this Green Party team featuring two of the most progressive candidates in a long time are shut out of the process. That’s the good ol’ American democracy Palin is fighting for. No, it’s not, actually. But McKinney and Clemente are. Here is what they say about racial profiling:

5. We Want to Stop the War at Home Now!

The decision by Democratic Attorney General Jerry Brown to prosecute the San Francisco 8 is chilling in the message it sends about impunity in the face of clear police wrongdoing. The San Francisco 8 (several of whom were members of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense), are being prosecuted and investigated by the very same police officers that committed torture against them decades ago. Obviously not satisfied with the 32 Black Panthers killed by law enforcement by 1973, a decision has been made to continue targeting Black Panther members in another way.

We want the hundreds of political activists falsely imprisoned by COINTELPRO and similar programs from the 1960’s to the present to be released from prison immediately. We want full disclosure on all the government’s spying and destabilization programs and for restitution to be provided to victims of these governmental abuses and their families for the suffering they have long endured.

In addition, members of the general public have become targets for police repression, including Blacks, Latinos, Muslims, and other easily identifiable minorities. By 2004, Cincinnati had seen 18 young people murdered at the hands of brutal cops. Louisville, Kentucky saw seven young Black males killed in four years. In New York City, three unarmed Black men were killed within a period of 13 months. In fact, the book Stolen Lives lists the names of over 2000 people killed by police during the 1990s. Unfortunately, it is clear that the poor and people of color are disproportionately affected by the disproportionate application of force by law enforcement. Adding insult to injury, offending police officers are rarely if ever punished.

We believe that disparities in sentencing and in the criminal justice system as a whole can be overcome with political will to change the policies and punish those guilty of the racial profiling that often result in disparate treatment at each step of an encounter with the criminal justice system.

In study after study, the dismal performance of the criminal justice system against people of color has been documented. Policies designed to close the disparities in sentencing and treatment at the hands of the criminal justice system must be implemented with more than deliberate speed.

And here is their position on the prison industrial complex:

7. We Want to End Prisons for Profit Now!

We want an end to privatization of prisons and prison health services. We want an end to the racism that serves as an engine of growth for a profit-driven prison system. We want an end to prison labor schemes that are little more than corporate subsidies that provide little training or rehabilitation for inmates. We want reconciliation, transformation, preparation, rather than incarceration based on retribution and vengeance. We do not want race and class to serve as the primary determinants of punishment. And we want an end to the death penalty.

We believe that the prison-industrial, criminal injustice complex of today still operates in many respects as a vestige of slavery. And just as punishment was meted out disparately for Blacks and whites during slavery, these conditions persist today. For example, in the state of Virginia, a white person could only be sentenced to death for murder, but slaves could be sentenced to death for 71 offenses. Today, according to “Minding the Gap,” despite higher drug use by White Illinois teens, African American youth who make up 15.3% of Illinois’s youth population, are 59% of youth arrested for drug crimes, 85.5% of youth automatically transferred to adult court, 88% of youth imprisoned for drug crimes, and 91% of youth admitted to state prison. Disparities permeate the system from the laws enacted, to those who enact the laws, to those who enforce and interpret them.

Paul Street reports in Black Agenda Report,one in three Black males will be sent to state or federal prison at some point in their lives compared to one in six Latino males and one in seventeen white males.” Writer Tim Wise writes, “According to FBI data, the percentage of crimes committed by African Americans has remained steady over the past 18 years, while the number of Blacks in prison has tripled and their rates of incarceration have skyrocketed.”

Clearly, it is time to rethink prison policy and the criminal justice system upon which it rests. Just as prisons for profit underscored profit-maximizing strategies, we need to explore new terrains for justice-maximizing policies, including prison abolition. We need public policy solutions that focus on reconciliation and restorative justice. Racism should not be rewarded with profits.

Notice that their statement makes it clear that the prison system in the U.S. is basically an extension of slavery. And it is. Instead of reparations for slavery, African Americans and people of color more generally have found themselves basically performing slave labor in prisons. There was never any 40 acres and a mule. There was a movement from the plantation to the prison. Which is why one of my favorite parts of their platform is reparations for slavery–something you definitely won’t hear McCain or Obama talk about. Here is their position on reparations:

3. We Want Reparations Now!

African Americans are now sustaining the worst loss of wealth in U.S. history due to the sub-prime mortgage crisis, an estimated $71 billion to $92 billion, according to United for a Fair Economy.

We believe that the U.S. government never kept its promise to former slaves of the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules. Forty acres and two mules were promised as restitution for slave labor and the mass murder of Black people. Enduring racial disparities reflect the U.S. government’s failure to address the reality and the vestiges of Black poverty in this country. Hurricane Katrina is but a manifestation of the generations of previous neglect combined with current neglect.

A 2003 Harvard University study found that Black infant and maternal mortality rates are 2 and 3.5 times higher than for whites. The New York Times wrote that by 2003 nearly one half of all Black men between the ages of 16 and 64, living in New York City, were unemployed. Dr. David Satcher found in 2005 that 83,750 Black people died from premature deaths for no other reason than that they were Black. And in its 2005 report, United for a Fair Economy told us that it would take 1,664 years to close the home-ownership gap and that on some indices the racial disparities are worse now than at the time of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In its 2006 report, United for a Fair Economy told us that Blacks and Latinos lost ground, and that in order to close the racial wealth divide in our country, it would take the equivalent of a “G.I. Bill for Everyone” that would include comprehensive federal investment in low-income families and communities, with an emphasis on people of color. In its 2007 report, United for a Fair Economy concluded that, while Blacks overwhelmingly vote Democratic, they had little to show for such party loyalty according to the statistics reflecting the State of Black America and the policy initiatives of the Democratic Party in its first 100 hours as a Congressional majority. In 2008, United for a Fair economy concluded that it would take 440 years to close the racial disparity on per capita income.

That one million Black votes were not counted in the 2000 Presidential election is symptomatic of a host of broken promises, the denial of self-determination, and a refusal of both major parties to deal with the vestiges of slavery, racism, and discrimination with which too many families are forced to live today.

We urgently need policies enacted on the federal and local levels that will address the enduring disparities in education, health care, imprisonment, family income, wealth, home ownership, that reflect purposeful malign neglect of communities of color in this country. Further, these public policies must also specifically recover economic losses sustained during the current sub-prime mortgage crisis.

Can you imagine Gwen Ifill asking Palin and Biden a question about reparations in a debate? Will never happen. All of their positions are amazing, by the way, and you can read the rest of them on their campaign website.

There is one person who has been making these connections between slavery and the prison industrial complex for years. Angela Davis, who actually ran for Vice President herself on the Communist Party ticket, pioneered this political and historical work as an academic and an activist. She not only makes these connections, but also focuses on issues of privatization of the prison system which has made it profitable to house people of color because Americans view them as a surplus population. The companies who profit from this are numerous, but here is a sample of some Davis identified in 1998:

Many corporations whose products we consume on a daily basis have learned that prison labor power can be as profitable as third world labor power exploited by U.S.-based global corporations. Both relegate formerly unionized workers to joblessness and many even wind up in prison. Some of the companies that use prison labor are IBM, Motorola, Compaq, Texas Instruments, Honeywell, Microsoft, and Boeing. But it is not only the hi-tech industries that reap the profits of prison labor. Nordstrom department stores sell jeans that are marketed as “Prison Blues,” as well as t-shirts and jackets made in Oregon prisons. The advertising slogan for these clothes is “made on the inside to be worn on the outside.” Maryland prisoners inspect glass bottles and jars used by Revlon and Pierre Cardin, and schools throughout the world buy graduation caps and gowns made by South Carolina prisoners.

Notice that companies like Motorola, which are tremendously invested in the Israeli Terrorist infrastructure are on this list. These issues are connected economically and politically: who Americans and Israelis lock up and how they profit off of this wholesale imprisonment of people of color in the U.S. and Palestinians here.

These are not issues you’ll see on American television. But if you watch Al Jazeera you can hear discussion of these issues. One of my new favorite programs is Avi Lewis’ “Inside Story.” This is the same program that I posted something about last week when he did a show on American imperialism in Hawai’i. This week he devotes the half hour (why isn’t it an hour?!) to an interview with Angela Davis. She talks about the relationship between slavery and the prison industrial complex and the solution to this, which in many ways resembles McKinney and Clemente’s platform for reparations for slavery. I encourage people to watch this program below. It is definitely not something you’d ever see on mainstream American television.

And just to seal these ties between American prisons and its criminalization of people of color I will close with a couple of stanzas from my favorite Suheir Hammad poem, “letter to anthony (critical resistance),” which shows how Palestinians are criminalized in very similar ways:

II

i have always loved criminals
i tell people who try to shame
me into silence

with words like television conjugal
college libraries
they say
can you imagine a library in a nigerian a chinese a
colombian prison do you know what happens in the world americans are spoiled no idea
how lucky
we are here

even you often write how
your time has offered reflection
meditation deepened your faith
but you 27 and have 10
years to go nowhere how much deeper
you going to get until a system based
on money deems you rehabilitated

i have always loved criminals
and the way you bomb my tag
butterphoenix all across your letters
reminds me our affirmation is
considered vandalism

i have always loved
criminals and not only the thugged
out bravado of rap videos and champagne
popping hustlers but my father
born an arab baby boy
on the forced way out
of his homeland his mother exiled
and pregnant gave birth in a camp

the world pointed and said
palestinians do not exist palestinians
are roaches palestinians are two legged dogs
and israel built jails and weapons and
a history based on the absence of a people
israel made itself holy and chosen
and my existence a crime

so i have always loved criminals
it is a love of self
and i will not cut off any part of
me and place it behind fences and bars
and the fake ass belief
that there is a difference between
the inside and the outside

there is no outside anywhere
anymore just where we are and
what we do while we are here

and there
are people anthony who make a connection
between you puerto rican rhyme slayer beautiful man and
young girls twisted into sex work and these
people nazim they are working to stop prisons
from being economically beneficial to depressed
communities and these people
bronx bomber they imagine a world
where money can’t be made off the hurt
of the young the poor the colored the
sexualized the different and these people
nymflow they never heard you
spit lyrics and they won’t
see the brillians from these mere words
but these people
42851-054 5812
they believe human
beings can never be reduced
to numbers not in concentration
camps or reservations not in
refugee camps not in schools
and not in jails