on state terrorism

to give you an idea about what palestinians are up against it is instructive to watch bill maher interview rapper m.i.a. (maya arulpragasam) on his show real time the other night.

it seems to me that maher sort of gets it when it comes to tamils terrorized by the state terrorism of sri lanka. of course, if you have ever watched his show you would know that the just is incapable of wrapping his head around the fact that the zionist entity has been doing this for decades in palestine. phil rees’ program “dining with terrorists” that was on al jazeera a couple of months ago highlights the state terrorism of sri lanka (and he also did this on palestine, which i blogged about at the time). here is his episode on sri lankans terrorizing the tamils:

in the guardian yesterday gethin chamberlain documented tales of tamils being terrorized by sri lanka:

Sopika is one of at least 250,000 Tamil civilians being held in Menik Farm in the north of the country. Barbed-wire fences encircle the endless rows of white tents, preventing civilians from getting out and journalists from getting in, as the government continues to prevent the stories of Sopika and thousands like her from being told.

Yesterday, Sri Lanka’s health ministry announced that it is investigating three doctors detained by the military accused of giving false information about war zone casualties to the media. The physicians were among the few sources of information on those wounded and killed in the fighting, since most journalists were banned from the area.

But slowly the stories of ordinary Tamils are emerging. And Sopika’s harrowing account of her recent ordeal, related via intermediaries, helps explain why the authorities are so keen to restrict the flow of information.

Her story is testimony to the brutality of both the Tamil Tiger fighters and the government during the final stages of a 26-year conflict, during which each side accused the other of acts of unspeakable cruelty. Both, it seems, were telling the truth and it is the Tamil civilians who paid the price.

Sopika was born on the island of Kayts, off the northern tip of Jaffna. Until eight months ago, she and her older brother and younger sister lived with their parents in a village overlooking the Indian Ocean.

Then they left to visit the town of Madhu on the mainland. As the government unleashed its military offensive against the Tigers, their route home was shut off. Desperate to escape the shelling, they were driven ahead of the advancing government forces, further into LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) territory, moving from place to place, dodging air strikes and artillery.

Human rights groups and international officials have accused the government of heavily shelling areas densely populated with civilians in the last weeks of the war. The government has denied using heavy weapons. But by the time the family reached Mullaitivu, Sopika said she found the noise of the jets and artillery overwhelming. Her parents decided they had to make a break for it. It was 2am when they set off with several other families.

“As we were walking, the Tigers started to fire and the young boy walking in front of me got shot,” she said. “My face and clothes were splattered with the blood of this boy. He died.

“We turned back because we were afraid of more death,” she said.

Sopika said she remembered the moment when a sniper’s bullet killed a relative sitting close by.

“I saw the bullets hit her head… half her face fell off,” she said.

The family decided to try again to escape. This time they headed for the shore, again setting out at 2am, hoping that the darkness would provide them with cover from the guns of the Tamil Tigers and the government forces.

“We were walking in between the shooting from both sides, and we realised that we could be seen in the moonlight,” she said.

In front of her, a 12-year-old boy and his mother were caught in the crossfire, collapsing dead on the ground. “We missed death by a few feet,” she said. They turned back again.

The next day, there was no food, so the children went to bed hungry. They awoke again at 2am, and joined another family walking towards the shore.

“We started to walk a long way… no, really we started to run, we were scared we would get caught by the LTTE, we would get beaten,” she said.

Dodging the bullets, they pushed on through shrubs and thorn bushes. “There was no road or path, there was a lot of mud and ditches,” she said. “Once I fell over a dead body.”

Nearing the shore of the lagoon, they started to crawl on their bellies across the sand, terrified of being caught by the Tigers. Entering the water, Sopaki found the waves crashing down on her head. She could not swim; she had never learnt.

“I was terrified because the water was up to my neck,” she said. “I could barely stand as the current kept pulling me down. The navy’s searchlights kept beaming into the water. I cried out ‘Appa Appa’ [father, father] when I fell into a trough. I nearly drowned. During the entire journey, we just wanted to run, but we couldn’t.”

Finally emerging from the water, they could see the army ahead of them. “We were told to lie down. They wanted to search us,” she said. The soldiers gave them biscuits, dates and water and put them on a bus. “People were shouting and crying because many of them had lost their relative during the search operation,” she said. Sopaki was also crying because her father and brother were missing, but the next day they were reunited.

The family arrived at Menik Farm eight days ago, just as the fighting reached a climax. Two days later, the government announced that the war was over. But their ordeal is not.

Conditions inside the camps are squalid: food and water are in desperately short supply and even the government admits the toilets are inadequate.

Others imprisoned behind the wire have their own tales of hardship and horror. According to private UN documents, at least 7,000 civilians were killed in the final months of fighting in the war. The Red Cross says it evacuated 13,769 sick and wounded people and their relatives from the war zone.

“It is a great relief that the war is over, but peace has come at a very high price, with thousands of civilians killed, including large numbers of children,” said James Elder, the Unicef spokesman in Sri Lanka. “There is no end to the gut-wrenching stories of death and destruction that scar these children.”

meanwhile in the telegraph richard dixon illustrates how sri lanka is continuing to terrorize the tamil population:

BBC journalist with the jubilant crowd in Colombo was telling us, how terrorism has now been defeated in Sri Lanka. It is a clear indication that the world still hasn’t grasped the fundamental root cause behind the civil unrest in this country.

State terrorism has always been the major problem in this tiny island. It is an ugly and arrogant monster that always keeps his head above the seas and mountains of Sri Lanka.

Properties of the Tamils were destroyed and Tamils were burned to death in the seventies.

For more than sixty years, successive Sri Lankan governments backed by racist Sinhala extremists have been oppressing the Tamil minorities. They brutally killed thousands of innocent Tamils, burnt their properties and sent the rest in ships as refugees to the North of the country in the fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties.

When Tamils asked for their rights, Sinhala extremists always responded with violence.

Pearl of the Indian ocean has now become a land of the demons.

They have now killed thousands of innocent Tamils in one of the most cruel wars in the history of the mankind. They used internationally banned weapons on innocent women and children and murdered them without showing any mercy.

They kept on using the buzz words “War on Terror” and “Humanitarian Operation” to justify their atrocities. They made the people to starve for months, denied medicine to the sick the elderly and let the wounded to die in the open fields.

Innocent women and children were killed in hospitals, schools and even inside bunkers. Thousands of wounded civilians were burnt alive in the bunkers.

They brutally killed the rebels who surrendered with white flags and violated all the norms of a conventional war.

They are now busy burning and dumping the bodies of innocent Tamils.

Media and aid workers are not allowed to the war zone because the Sri Lankan forces are working day and night to hide all the evidences.

Those who did manage to leave the war zone were sent to barbed wired concentration camps. Sri Lankan forces are regularly filtering out young people from the concentration camps and taking them for questioning. Many of these children don’t return.

Young Tamil women are raped and tortured in these notorious camps. Dead bodies of the innocent Tamils are thrown outside the camps with deep wounds on their heads and necks.

Forced disappearances, random killings, rape, torture and the list goes on. Sri Lanka has become one of the worst countries in the world that telling the truth is considered as a crime and those who tell the truth are punished.

Wounded children had to hide in the bunkers fearing further attacks.

Pearl of the Indian ocean has now become a land of blood thirsty demons.

Experts of the free world have failed to see the bigger picture.

Many military strategists, political analysts and terror experts in the free world have either failed to recognise the deeper issues in Sri Lanka or they have deliberately applied a methodology to cause one of the greatest humanitarian tragedies of the century.

In any conflict resolution or problem solving exercise, one of the most important parts is to see a bigger picture and define the problem accurately.

What goes wrong very often is that the parties who come forward to solve an issue tend to focus on just part of the problem or they try to deal with the symptoms instead of the root cause.

It will be worse, when a party deliberately implement a wrong solution to a problem with hidden agendas.

When they do that, they don’t just fail to solve the main issue but they even end up making the real problem much bigger.

Complexities in the Sri Lankan civil war very often make even the so called wise to misinterpret the truths and make decisions against the vulnerable in the society.

A complete jigsaw puzzle that shows a crying baby can be made into a monster if half of the pieces are removed.

Instead of becoming sympathetic towards the crying baby, the jigsaw player is now confronted with a monster that is made up of half of the pieces.

Those who considered that LTTE was the only problem had failed to understand that they were missing half of the pieces in the puzzle.

Implementing solutions without understanding a problem can cost innocent lives and what has happened in Sri Lanka in the last few months is a proof for this.

A fever is considered as one of the body’s immune mechanisms to attempt a neutralization of a perceived threat inside the body, be it bacterial or viral. Carl Wunderlich discovered that fever is not a disease, but the body’s response to a disease.

Any sensible Physician would try to find out the root cause of the disease instead of wasting time dealing with the symptoms.

Disease in Sri Lanka is State Terrorism that has been going on for more than 60 years.

Unless the root cause is dealt with, Sri Lanka will continue to hear the voice of the oppressed louder and louder.

Mankind has already lost its sanity.

When BBC and other channels in the UK gave importance to the celebrations in Colombo but failed to mention about the thousands of wounded and dying Tamils in the war zone, one has to question if the mankind has already lost its sanity.

Sri Lanka celebrates killings, Killers are honoured.

We can’t bring peace to the trouble spots in the world with people who have heads but no hearts.

We desperately need diplomats who have the hearts for the oppressed and suffering people.

Tamils in Sri Lanka had their own nation before but it was merged with the Sinhala kingdoms during the British rule.

When they left this beautiful island in 1948, it was left to function as one country. Democracy failed in Sri Lanka because the successive governments that came to power were always chosen by the majority Sinhalese.

Sinhala governments backed by the Sinhala Buddhist extremists, always tried to please the majority in order to remain in power. They came up with policies to discriminate Tamils in education, employment and other arenas. Sinhala was made the only official language and Tamils were made as second class citizens.

Tamils can be compared to the Jewish people who lived under the Nazi regimes. Even under persecution, they worked hard to make their lives better.

Sinhala governments had many times ordered their agents to kill Tamils and destroy their properties. More than two thousand Tamils lost their lives in 1983.All of them were murdered by the Sinhalese in the south of Sri Lanka. They were murdered in prisons, schools, hospitals and even in churches.

Tamil Libraries were burned to dust in order to wipe out the history of Tamils from Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is no longer a safe place for the Vulnerable.

Sadly, one of the greatest humanitarian tragedies of the century is taking place in front of our eyes.

Response from the individuals, politicians, international organisations and heads of the states have shown to us that Sri Lanka is no longer a safe place for the victims but the wicked has a lot to rejoice for.

Saving innocent lives is one of the greatest things we can do to show to the world that we obey our conscience and we are still humans.

Thousands of wounded are still left in the killing fields of Sri Lanka. Tamils are persecuted in the concentration camps.

If we are going to wait till we get the permission from Sri Lanka, that is never going to happen. A killer who is busy dumping the bodies of the innocents is not going to invite us and show us how cruel he is.

Urgent steps should be taken to save the dying Tamils from the hands of the brutal Sri Lankan regime.

just as when “war” stops terror doesn’t stop in sri lanka against the tamils, so to is the case in palestine. the other night when the zionist entity bombed gaza, it trapped three palestinians inside the tunnels who were unable to get out for several days:

Three Palestinians have been found alive, and two dead, after being trapped for several days in a Gaza smuggling tunnel that collapsed above them, Al Jazeera has learnt.

The men were found on Saturday in the collapsed tunnel on the Egyptian side of the border with Gaza.

The tunnel, which is near the border town of Rafah, collapsed five days ago.

Four men are still missing.

Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Rafah, said: “They were not able to find them [the trapped men] on the Palestinian side … they notified the Egyptians … to immediately begin rescue efforts on their side of the border.

“We were told they were recovered unconscious … they were immediately rushed to hospital in Egypt. Their fate is still unknown although officials have confirmed they are indeed alive.”

Witnesses said the men had been able to communicate with rescuers for the first few days and were fed milk and water through a pipe that had been pushed through the sand.

and it seems there are promises of more such bombings will be happening in the coming days if evidence of new pamphlets dropped on gaza is any indication:

Israeli aircraft have scattered pamphlets over the Gaza Strip warning residents to stay away from the border.

The heavily guarded border is the scene of sporadic fighting between militants and Israeli troops. Israeli forces killed two Palestinian fighters in a clash on Friday.

The Arabic pamphlets warn Gazans to stay out of areas 300 meters to 500 meters (yards) from the border fence, saying they risk being shot.

this is, i suspect, also why a new humanitarian aid convoy is not being allowed to enter gaza through the rafah border with egypt:

Participants of the Hope Convoy carrying humanitarian and medical aid to the Gaza Strip decided to protest at the Rafah Border terminal, between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, demanding the Egyptian Authorities to allow them to enter Gaza.

Rami Abdo, coordinator of the European Campaign to End the Siege, stated on Monday that the activists of the aid convoy are determined to cross into the Gaza Strip in order o deliver the humanitarian supplies, mainly meant to help the disabled and the sick.

no, the savagery against gaza did not end

last night palestinians in gaza were shot at by israeli terrorists in uniform:

Palestinian medical sources reported that one Palestinian man was moderately wounded on Sunday at night by Israeli military fire targeting an open area east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Another Palestinian was injured in a separate attack in northern Gaza.

Dr. Moawiya Abu Hassanen, head of the Emergency Unit at the Palestinian Ministry of Health, reported that medics evacuated the resident who was injured near Khan Younis, and took him to Nasser Hospital.

Moreover, the Israeli army reported that soldiers opened fire and lightly wounded a Palestinian who approached the “security fence” in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

The wounded resident was moved to an Israeli hospital for treatment.

Also on Sunday, the army shelled a number of areas east of Beit Hanoun, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip; no injuries were reported.

and the night before bombed again by american-made f-16s at the rafah border:

Two Palestinians were killed in an Israeli airstrike carried out against smuggling tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah on Saturday.

“The bodies of the two who were killed were received in the local Abu Yousef An-Najjar Hospital,” said Mu’aweiyah Hasaneen, the head of Emergency and Ambulance Services within the Gaza Strip Health Ministry.

The two Palestinians were identified as Jehad Abu Jarad and Hamdan Al-Astal, both in their 20s. A third Palestinian is possibly still missing, Hasaneen added.

Israel’s air force carried out three airstrikes aimed at underground tunnels on the Al-Barazil area of southern Gaza on Saturday, during which five Palestinians were lightly injured, and were also transferred to Abu Yousef An-Najjar Hospital for treatment.

and for those not killed by the immediacy of bullets or bombs, israeli terrorists set fire to farmers’ fields to ensure that palestinians have nothing to eat (this is the slow, starvation sort of death that israeli terrorists like to couple with their american-made weapons):

Israeli troops on Monday morning set fire to Palestinian-owned fields of wheat and barley in Juhor Ad-Dik, in the southeastern Gaza Strip.

Eyewitnesses told Ma’an that the fire devoured several fields at the eastern border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, which Israeli forces have labeled a military zone. Firefighters hurried to the area and began extinguishing the flames.

this was a continuation of further devastation to farmland israeli terrorists carried out last week:

A number of Israeli tanks and bulldozers invaded farm lands located near the northern Gaza Israeli borders on Wednesday morning.

Famers told local media that tanks and bulldozers uprooted some trees and destroyed farm lands. They added that tanks opened fire at nearby, no injuries were reported.

Also in Gaza, Palestinian resistance groups announced on Wednesday that they targeted a military vehicle near the northern borders with a road side bomb.

The Islamic Jihad announced that their fighters detonated the bomb near an army vehicle; the military reported no injuries among troops.

of course palestinians still trying to deal with the ruins of their lives from the intensification of the savagery of gaza has not amounted to much given the fact that simple rebuilding tools like cement are banned from entering. but palestinians in gaza continue to be creative and resourceful:

Jihad al-Shaer got tired of waiting for Israel to allow cement and steel into the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and took matters into his own hands, building a house of clay bricks.

More than three months since the end of an Israeli military offensive which killed hundreds of Palestinians and destroyed or damaged thousands of homes, the people of Gaza are still waiting for the reconstruction materials they need to rebuild.

A political deal with Israel to ease its blockade of Gaza remains out of reach, blocked by the split in Palestinian ranks between hardline Hamas Islamists and Fatah moderates.

But al-Shaer says his idea is catching on. Unlike cement and steel, clay is readily available. Gazans have visited his two-room house to check it out and several said they would copy the idea and start building their own clay shelters.

“There is no alternative. Cement is not coming in and our factions are not reconciling,” Shaer said, referring to the lack of progress in Palestinian unity talks, which were adjourned once again this week until mid-May, with no sign of an accord.

imran garda’s “focus on gaza” on al jazeera this week highlights these and other economic problems plaguing palestinians in gaza:

but there is some good news today. a spanish court is proceeding with a war crimes trial against israeli terrorists:

A Spanish judge on Monday decided to go ahead with a probe into alleged crimes against humanity in Gaza by top Israeli military figures despite a request by public prosecutors that he shelve the case.

Public prosecutors made their recommendation last month on the grounds that the alleged crimes in question were already under investigation in Israel, but National Court judge Fernando Andreu ruled that this is not the case, according to a copy of the ruling obtained by AFP.

The judge was responding to a complaint lodged with the court against seven Israeli officials, including former defence minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights over an air attack on July 22, 2002 on Gaza City.

The attack killed a suspected leader of the Islamist movement Hamas, Salah Shehadeh, along with 14 civilians, mainly children, and wounded some 150 Palestinians, according to the complaint.

Spain assumes the principle of universal jurisdiction in alleged cases of crimes against humanity, genocide, and terrorism.

In addition to Ben-Eliezer, the complaint names the then army chief of staff, General Moshe Yaalon, as well as the then head of the Israeli air force, General Dan Halutz.

It also names General Doron Almog, national security council head Giora Eiland, Michael Herzog, a defence ministry official, and Avi Dichter, director of the Shin Beth intelligence agency.

the problem is it took this long to get a court to listen to this case. how long will it take to get one for the most recent war crimes in gaza?

there are good tunnels and then there are bad tunnels

more and more i have come to believe that one reason for the savagery targeting gaza for 23 days in december-january by israeli terrorists was to distract us from the creeping ethnic cleansing in al quds and elsewhere in the west bank and naqab. while israeli terrorists continue to bomb palestinian tunnels–now with the help of their egyptian zionist partners–they are building their own tunnels. of course, their tunnels are the tunnels which are illegal, on occupied land. but those don’t get bombed (and not that they should given that this is a densely populated palestinian neighborhood). but clayton swisher on al jazeera does a great job of illustrating exactly what this tunneling in al quds looks like as well as its effects on the palestinians in the silwan neighborhood:

swisher interviews a lawyer from the zionist entity who makes an interesting statement about how to solve this problem: “take the matches away from the pyromaniacs.” hmmmm. but what to do when the state gives the pyromaniacs the matches to begin with. and then another state (my country, the u.s.) gives them even bigger lighters and such?

meanwhile, just an hour ago i learned that israeli terrorists are on their way to attack al aqsa. i’m heading there directly after school today as friends have asked me to come and help. this is what i will be up against:

Right-wing Israeli religious groups have threatened to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem, raising the specter of violence on Thursday.

The messianic Jewish movement Chabad called on its followers to go to Al-Aqsa to “conquer and Judaize the holiest place on earth, which is being desecrated in such a disgraceful and shameful way.”

The Islamic Movement inside Israel also called on Palestinians to demonstrate at the Al-Aqsa Compound and defend it from Israeli attack. The Movement said it was sounding a “general alarm in Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem.”

Fearing riots, the Israeli police impose restrictions on who is allowed inside the compound on Thursday. Palestinian residents of Jerusalem who are under the age of 50 are barred from the area, the police said.

Ma’an’s correspondent, reporting from the scene in Jerusalem said the Israeli police had deployed heavily in the area of the Al-Aqsa Compound.

A top Palestinian Authority official on Jerusalem Affairs, Hatem Abdul-Qader said Israeli authorities who control Jerusalem are responsible for preventing violence, but nonetheless urged Palestinians to take part in the demonstrations.

”We called on the people and all the national and religious institutions to demonstrate to prevent such an action from happening,” he said.

The third holiest site in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is also the location of the iconic Dome of the Rock and a major symbol of Palestinian nationalism. The area on which it rests is also claimed by Jews who believe it to be the location of the ancient Second Temple.

Israeli settlers have entered the Al-Aqsa compound at least twice in the last week. On Sunday, some 50 settlers entered the compound during a time-slot reserved for foreign tourists.

The second Palestinian Intifada (Uprising) was sparked by a visit by right-wing Israeli leader Ariel Sharon to the compound.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it, claiming the whole city as a part of its “eternal undivided capital.” The international community does not recognize Israeli control over the area.

meanwhile palestinians who just want to pray today will not be able to do so at al aqsa if they are male and under the age of 50 (because, of course, the invaders must be able to rule the spaces the colonize in an unhindered fashion):

As extremist right wing Israeli groups are planning to flock to the Al Aqsa mosque, the Israeli police decided that barring Palestinians less than 50 years old from entering the mosque, is the way to deal with the issue.

Local sources in Jerusalem reported that hundreds of Israeli policemen were deployed in the yards of the Al Aqsa mosque and in different part of the Old City in an attempt to bar clashes between the Palestinians and the extremist settlers.

An Israeli police sources said that the police also plans to limit the entry of worshipers into the compound. This could mean that some Palestinians who are 50 or more might not be allowed through.

The police order states that Arab men with blue identity cards (Israeli ID cards) who are over the age of 50 would be allowed into the mosque. The police did not place restrictions on the age of women.

The Israeli measures, clearly directed against the Palestinians, were made as several right wing Jewish groups issued calls to their supporters to flock to the Al Aqsa mosque yards.

One of the extremist groups, calling itself Habad, said that “The time has come to conquer and Judaize the holiest place on heart”, referring to the Al Aqsa mosque.

The Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel called on the Muslims to flock to the mosque and protect it.

Kamal Al Khatib, deputy chief of the Islamic Movement, told the Israeli Ynet News that the Muslims will protect the mosque and “will not allow anybody to do anything in it”.

He also said that the police should take a stand and bar the settlers from entering the mosque yards.
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on gaza’s jailers

if we really want to be honest about why gaza is a prison and why palestinians are trapped inside then we must not only look at the primary culprit–the zionist entity–but also their partners in crime: egypt and the united states. we all know about the u.s., of course, because it supplies all the weapons to the israeli terrorists so that they may murder palestinians every day. but what of the egyptians. the egyptians who account for at least 1/4 of the jailers of gaza given their control over the rafah border. physicians for human rights and gisha published a report this week on the closure of rafah and the damage it does to palestinians in gaza which reads in part:

However, in the year between the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit (June 2006) and the Hamas takeover of the internal government in Gaza (June 2007), Israel kept Rafah Crossing closed 85% of the time; since June 2007, Rafah Crossing has been closed permanently, except for random and limited openings by Egypt, which meet only 3% of the needs of the residents of the Gaza Strip to enter and leave.

The closure of Rafah has severe implications for the residents of the Gaza Strip, including preventing access to health care services that are not available in Gaza, preventing access to opportunities for academic studies or employment abroad or in the West Bank, forcing long separations of family members on either side of the border, causing fatal damage to commerce and business, and creating a growing feeling among residents of the Gaza Strip that they are enclosed, isolated and trapped. The closure, of course, means a real inability to leave the Gaza Strip, even under circumstances of mortal danger.

of course, i do not agree with their assessment, that any palestinians are to blame for its closure. i reject any statement that blames the victim. and here we see the limits of so-called israeli human rights agencies. but i do think it is necessary for us to include egypt in the equation as they do. on monday two more palestinians died as a result of this closure because they were not allowed to leave for medical treatment:

Two Palestinian patients were reported dead on Monday in the Gaza strip due to the Israeli continued siege.

Both women needed treatment outside the coastal region but the Israeli military did not allow them to leave Gaza, local sources reported.

Doctors said that Somod Akkash, 17, and Fatma Al Shandi, 66, died on Monday midday In Gaza City hospital. They added that hundreds of patients are in critical conditions due to the Israeli 22 month long siege and not allowing patients to leave Gaza for treatment.

The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza announced that with those two patients dead today the number of patients due to the ongoing Israeli siege on the costal region has reached 320.

but they also could have left through rafah had egypt and their israeli terrorist partners allowed them to. and egypt and its israeli terrorist partners are not only responsible for keeping people trapped inside, of course. they are responsible for denying palestinians the right to go home as well. of course the situation of laila el haddad last week, who egyptian authorities refused to allow out of the airport after 27 hours of detention there, is case in point. she is finally back in the u.s., amazingly enough, and wrote a long and eloquent blog entry entitled “i was born palestinian,” about it which i will quote in its entirety because i think it needs to be read by all:

“Its not very comfortable in there is it?” said the stony faced official, cigarette smoke forming a haze around his gleaming oval head.

“Its OK. We’re fine” i replied wearily, delirious after being awake for a straight period of 30 hours.
“You could be in there for days you know. For weeks. Indefinitely. “So, tell me, you are taking a plane tomorrow morning to the US?”

****
It was our journey home that began with the standard packing frenzy: squeezing everything precious and dear and useful into two suitcases that would be our sustenance for the course of 3 months.

The trips to the outdoor recreation store- in preparation for what I anticipated to be a long and tortuous journey across Rafah Crossing to Gaza. The inspect repellent; the mosquito netting; the water purifier; the potty toppers for my kids ad the granola bars and portion sized peanut butter cups. This time, I wanted to be ready, I thought to myself-just in case I got stuck at the Crossing. The Crossing. My presumptuousness is like a dull hit to the back of my head now.

In addition to all the packing of suitcases, we were also packing up our house- my husband was finishing up his residency at Duke University and set to start a medical fellowship at Johns Hopkins in July. In the meantime, we were “closing shop”, putting our things in storage, selling the rest, and heading overseas: me to Gaza, he to Lebanon to visit his family; and eventually I was too meet him there (assuming i could get into Gaza, and the, assuming I could get out). Yassine is a third-generation Palestinian refugee from the village of Waarit al-Siris in nothern historic Palestine; he was born in a refugee camp in Lebanon and holds a Laizze Passe for Palestinian refugees. Israel denies him return to his own home- or even to the home of his spouse in Gaza. So when we go overseas, we often go our separate ways; we cannot live legally, as a unit, as a family, in our own homes.

I hold a Palestinian Authority passport. It replaced the “temporary two-year Jordanian passport for Gaza residents” that we held until the Oslo Accords and the creation of the Palestinian Authority in the mid ’90s, which itself replaced the Egyptian travel documents we held before that. A progression in a long line of stateless documentation.

It is a passport that allows no passage. A passport that denied me entry to my own home. This is its purpose: to mark me, brand me, so that I am easily identified and cast aside without questions; it is convenient for those giving the orders. It is a system for the collective identification of those with no identity.

***

We finished packing as much as we could of the house, leaving the rest to Yassine who was to leave a week after us, and drove 4 hours to Washington to spend a few day sat my brother’s house before we took off.

First, we headed to the the Egyptian embassy.

Last year, my parents were visiting us from Gaza City when Rafah was sealed hermetically. They attempted to fly back to Egypt to wait for the border to open- but were now allowed to board the plane in Washington. “Palestinians cannot fly to Egypt now without a visa, new rules” the airline personnel explained, “and no visas can be issued until Rafah is open” added the Egyptian embassy official. They were in a conundrum, aggravated by the fact that their US stay entry stamp had reach passed its six-month limit. Eventually, they got around the issue by obtaining an Egyptian tourist visa, made easier by their old age, which they used to wait in Egypt for one month until Rafah Crossing opened again.

I did not want to repeat their ordeal, so I called the embassy this time, which assured me the protocol had changed: now, it was only Palestinian men who were not allowed to fly to or enter Egypt. Women were, and would get their visa at the Egyptian port of destination. I was given a signed and dated letter (April 6, 2009) by the consul to take with me in case I encountered any problems: “The Consular Section of the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt hereby confirms that women, who are residents of the Gaza Strip, and who hold passports issued by the Palestinian Authority are required to get their visa to enter Egypt at Egyptian ports and NOT at the various Egyptian consulates in the United States on their way to the Gaza Strip for the purpose of reaching their destination (i.e. Gaza Strip)” it read.

With letter and bags in hand, we took off, worried only about the possibility of entering Gaza- the thought of being able to enter Egypt never crossing my mind.

2 long-haul flights and one 7 hour transit later, we made it. I knew the routine by heart. Upon our arrival, I was quick to hit the bank to buy the $15 visa stamps for Yousuf and Noor’s American passports and exchange some dollars into Egyptian pounds. I figured it would help pass the time while the lines got shorter.

I then went and filled out my entry cards-an officer came and filled them out with me seeing my hands were full, a daypack on my back, Noor strapped to my chest in a carrier, Yousuf in my hand…

we then submitted our passports, things seemed to be going smoothly. Just then the officer explained he needed to run something by his superior. “You have a Palestinian passport; Rafah crossing is closed…”

“I promise it will just be 5 minutes” he assured me. But that’s all i needed to hear. I knew I was in for a long wait. It was at this point I yanked out my laptop and began to tweet and blog about my experience (full progression of tweets here courtesy Hootsbuddy). At first I thought it would simply help pass the time; it developed into a way to pool resources together that could help me; and ended as a public awareness campaign.

****
The faces were different each time. 3 or four different rooms and hallways to navigate down. They refused to give names and the answers they gave were always in the form of cryptic questions.

The first explained I would not be allowed entry into Egypt because Palestinians without permanent residency abroad are not allowed in; and besides- Rafah Crossing is closed he said (my response: so open it?). I was told I was to be deported to the UK first. “But I had no British visa” I explained. I was ordered to agree to get on the next flight. I refused-I didn’t come all this way to turn back.

I was escorted to the “extended transit terminal”. It was empty at first, save for a south Asian man in tightly buckled jeans and a small duffel bag that spent the good part of our time there there in a deep sleep. During the day the hall would fill up with locally deported passengers- from villages of cities across Egypt, and we would move our things to the upper waiting area.

Most of the time was spent in this waiting area with low level guards who knew nothing and could do nothing.

At different intervals, a frustrated Yousuf would approach them angrily about “why they wouldn’t let him go see his seedo and tete?” and why “they put cockroaches on the floor”. When we first arrived, he asked if these were the “yahood”, his only experiences with extended closure, delay, and denial of entry being at the hands of the Israeli soldiers and government. “No, but why don’t you ask them why they are are allowed through to sunbathe and we aren’t to our own homes?”

“Rabina kbeer” came the response, signifying impotence. God is great.

There was very little time I was given access to anyone who had any authority. I seemed to be called in whenever the new person on duty arrived, when they were scheduled for their thrice daily interrogation and intimidation, their shooting and crying.

Officers came and went as shifts began and ended. But our status was always the same. Our “problem”, our case, our issue was always the same. We remained, sitting on our chairs, with our papers and documents in hand, waiting, and no one the better.

Always waiting. For this is what the Palestinian does: we wait. For an answer to be given, for a question to be asked; for a marriage proposal to be made, for a divorce to be finalized; for a border to open, for a permit to be issued; for a war to end; for a war to begin; for a child to be born; for one to die a martyr; for retirement or a new job; for exile to a better place and for return to the only place that knows us; for our prisoners to come home; for our home to no longer be prisons; for our children to be free; for freedom from a time when we no longer have to wait.

We waited for the next shift as we were instructed by those who made their own instructions. Funny how when you need to pass the time, the time does not pass.

“You need to speak with whose in charge-and their shift starts at 10 am”. So we pass the night and wait until 10. “Well by the time they really get started its more like noon”. So we wait till noon. “Well the real work isn’t until the evening”. And we wait until evening. Then the cycle starts again.

Every now and then the numberless phone would ring requesting me, and a somber voice would ask if I changed my mind. I insisted all I wanted to do was go home; that it was not that complicated.

“But Gaza is a special case, we all know that” I was told.

Special, as in expendable, not human, not entitled to rights special, I thought.

Unfamiliar faces that acted as though though I was a long-lost friend kept popping in and out to see me. As though I were an amnesiac in a penitentiary. They all kept asking the same cryptic question “so you are getting on a plane soon, right?”

First, a gentleman from the Palestinian representative’s office that someone else whose name I was meant to recognize sent. ” It’ll all be resolved within the hour” he promised confidently, before going on to tell me about his son who worked with Motorola in Florida;

“Helping Israeli drones do their job?”

“That’s right!” he beamed.

An hour came and went, and suddenly the issue was “irresolvable”, and I was “a journalist up to trouble”.

***

Friends and family in Egypt, the US, and Gaza, worked around the clock with me, calling in any favors they had, anyone they knew, doing anything they could to get some answers and let me through. But the answer was always the same: Amn il Dawla (State Security and Intelligence) says no, and they are the ultimate authorities. No one goes past them.

Later a second Palestinian representative came to see me.

“So you are not going on that second flight are you?”

“What are you talking about? Why does everyone speak to me in question form?”

“Answer the question”

“No, I came here to go to Gaza, not to return to the US”

“Ok that’s all I needed to know; there is a convoy of injured Palestinian with security clearance heading to the border with some space; we are trying to get you on there with them; 15 minutes and it’ll all be resolved, we just need clearance, its all over” he assured me.

Yousuf smashed another cockroach.

****
We were taken down a new hallway. A new room. A new face. The man behind the desk explained how he was losing sleep over my case, how I had the while airport working on it, ho he had a son Yousuf’s age; and then offered me an apple and a bottle of water and told me istaraya7i, to rest, a command I would hear again and again over the course of the 36 hours.

Is this man for real??? an apple and a bottle of water? I thought to myself, my eyes nearly popping out of my face.

“I don’t want your food. I don’t want to rest. I don’t want your sympathy. I JUST WANT TO GO HOME. To my country. To my parents. IS THAT TOO HARD TO UNDERSTAND?” I screamed, breaking my level-headed calm of the past 20 hours.

“Please don’t yell, just calm down, calm down, everyone outside will think I am treating you badly, c’mon, and besides its ‘ayb (disgraceful) not to accept the apple from me”.

“‘Ayb?? What’s ‘AYB is you denying my entry to my own home! And why should I be calm? This situation doesn’t call for calm; it makes no sense and neither should I!”

“C’mon lady don’t have a breakdown in front of your kids please. You know I have a kid your son’s age and its breaking my heart to do this, to see him in these conditions, to put him in the conditions, so please take the plane.”

“So don’t see me in these conditions! There’s a simple solution you know. LET ME GO HOME. Its not asking a lot is it?”

“Hey now look lady” he said, stiffening suddenly into bad cop, his helpless grimace disappeared.
“Rules are rules, you need a visa to get in here like any other country, can you go to Jordan without a visa?’

“Don’t play the rules game with me. I HAD APPROVAL FROM YOUR EMBASSY, FROM YOUR CONSUL GENERAL, to cross into Egypt and go to Gaza; and besides how else am I supposed to get into Gaza???” I shouted, frantically waving the stamped and signed document in front of him as though it were a magic wand.

“So sue him. Amn il Dawla supercedes the foreign ministry’s orders, he must have outdated protocol.”

“The letter was dated April 6, that is 2 days ago, how outdated could it be?? Look- if I could parachute into Gaza I would, trust me. With all do respect to your country, I’m not here to sight-see. Do you have a parachute for me? If I could sail there I would do that too, but last I check Israel was ramming and turning those boats back. Do you have another suggestions?

“What is it you want lady- do you want to just live in the airport? is that it? Because we have no problems letting you live here, really. We can set up a shelter for you. And no one will ever ask about you or know you exist. In any case you don’t have permanent residency abroad so our government policies say we can’t let a Palestinian who does not have permanent residency abroad”

“I have a US Visa- its expired but my extension of status document is valid until the end of June. and besides- what kind of illogical law is that? you aren’t allowing me back home if I don’t have permanent residency abroad?”

“I don’t read English please translate..”

“You see it says here that my status is valid until June 30, 2009”

“Good, so then we CAN deport you back to the US” he said, picking up the phone and giving a quick order for the Palestinian convoy of injured Palestinians heading to the Crossing to go on without me, my only hope of returning home dissipating before my eyes at the hands of a barely literate manipulative enforcer.

“You just said if i have permanent residency abroad I can go home, now you say I can’t, which is it??”

“I’m sorry you are refusing to go on the plane. Take her away please.”

We were ushered back to the extended waiting area, back to our roach ridden premises that had become our home, along with a newly arrived Luxembourgian and French couple and their two children who had failed to produce their passports and were being sent back home. Here I was, about to be deported away from home, over prepared, with my documents and signed papers, from consulates and universities and governments; and they, used to traveling passport-free the EU, being sent back home because they had only an ID card.

***

It wasn’t long before a new guard came to us, and request we follow him “to a more isolated room”. “It will be better for you- more private. All the African flights are arriving now with all their diseases, you don’t want to be here for that! It’ll get overcrowded and awful in here.”

Given the the well-wishes that preceded my last interrogation about the “uncomfortableness” I may endure, I somehow had a feeling where we were headed.

We were asked to bring all our luggage and escorted down a different hallway; this time we were asked to leave everything behind, and to give up our cameras, laptops, and mobile phones. We took our seats in the front of a tiny filthy room, where 17 other men (and one Indonesian woman was sleeping on the floor in the back, occasionally shouting out in the middle of her interrupted sleep) of varying nationalities were already waiting.

A brute man-, illiterate by his own admission, took charge of each of files, spontaneously blurting out vulgarities and ordering anyone who so much as whispered to shut the hell up or get sent to real prison; the room was referred to as “7abs”, or a cell; I can probably best describe it as the detention or holding room. a heady man with a protruding belly that seems at odds with his otherwise lanky body was the door guard.

Officer #1 divided up the room into regions: the 5 or so south Asians who were there for whatever reason-expired paperwork, illegal documentation- were referred to as “Pakistan” when their attention was needed; The snoozing, sleep-talking woman in the back was “Indonesia”; and the impeccably dressed Guinean businessman, fully decked in a sharp black suit and blue lined tie, was “Kenya” (despite his persistence please to the contrary). There was a group of Egyptian peasants with forged, fake, or wrongly filed Id cards and passports: a 54 year old man whose ID said he was born in 1990; another who left his ID in his village 5 hours away, and so on.

By this point, I had not slept in 27 hours, 40 if one were to count the plane ride. My patience and my energy were wearing thing. My children were filthy and tired and confused; Noor was crying. I tried to set her cot up, but a cell within a cell did not seem to her liking and she resisted, much as I did.

We took the opportunity to chat when officer #1 was away. “”So what did you do?” asked Kenya, the Guinean.

“I was born Palestinian” I replied. “Everyone in here is being deported back home for one reason or another right? I bet I am the only one being deported away from home; the only one denied entry to my home.”

Officer #1 returned, this time he asked me to come with him “with or without your kids”. I brought them along, not knowing what was next.

There was two steely-eyed men on either end of a relatively well-furnished room, once again inquiring about my “comfort” and ordering-in the form of a question- whether I was taking a flight that morning to the US.

Noor began making a fuss, bellowing at the top of her lungs and swatting anyone that approached her.

“She is stubborn. She takes after her mother I see” said the man.

Soon we were escorted back to the waiting area. I knew there was nothing more I could do. We waited for several more hours until my children exhausted themselves and fell asleep. I bathed them in the filthy bathroom sinks with freezing tap water and hand soap and arranged their quarters on the steel chairs of the waiting room, buzzing with what seemed like a thousand gnats. Thank God for the mosquito netting.

Eventually, dawn broke, and we were escorted by two guards to the ticket counter, our $2500 flights rerouted, and put on a plane back to Washington.

I noted on one of my tweets that I would be shocked if my children’s immune system survived this jolt. It didn’t.

My daughter vomited the whole flight to London as I slipped in and out of delirium, mumbling half Arabic half English phrases to the flustered but helpful Englishman sitting next to us. I thank him wherever he is for looking after us.

Whatever she had, Yousuf an eye caught in the coming days-along with an ear and throat infection.

Eventually, we reached Dulles Airport. I walked confidently to the booth when it was my turn.

What was I going to say? How do I explain this? The man took one look at my expired visa, and my departure stamps.

“How long have you been gone?”

“36 hours” I replied bluntly.

“Yes, I see that. Do you want to explain?”

“Sure. Egypt forbade me from returning to Gaza”.

“I don’t understand- they denied you entry to your own home?”

“I don’t either, and if I did, I wouldn’t be here.”

With that, I was given a a stamp and allowed back inside.

Now that we are warm; clothes; showered, rested and recovered from whatever awful virus we picked up in the bowels of Cairo airport, I keep thinking to myself: what more could I have done?

“The quintessential Palestinian experience,” historian Rashid Khalidi has written, “takes place at a border, an airport, a checkpoint: in short, at any one of those many modern barriers where identities are checked and verified.”

In this place, adds Robyn Creswell, “connection” turns out to be only another word for separation or quarantine: the loop of airports never ends, like Borges’s famous library. The cruelty of the Palestinian situation is that these purgatories are in no way extraordinary but rather the backdrop of daily existence.”

the egyptian collaboration with the zionist enemy is why many egyptian people refuse to normalize with israeli terrorists of any stripe in spite of its government’s normalizing policies. for instance, egyptians oppose a concert of israeli conductor daniel barenboim:

The concert, Barenboim’s first in Egypt, has ruffled feathers in intellectual circles, with music critic Amgad Mustafa describing the visit as “sneaky normalisation” with Israel.

But Egypt’s culture minister was quick to defend Barenboim’s visit.

“This conductor has attacked Israeli policies and there has even been a request to have him stripped of his citizenship,” Faruq Hosni told AFP.

The minister has himself said he opposed cultural normalisation with the Jewish State despite a 1979 peace deal between Egypt and Israel.

inviting barenboim also violates the cultural boycott campaign of israel. that boycott campaign is necessary in order to help fight for the liberation of palestine especially given the severe economic problems that the israeli-egyptian imprisonment of palestinians of gaza are suffering as sherine tadros reported for al jazeera:

but the collaboration between israeli terrorists and the egyptian government is even worse than this. or at least it is getting worse in the past week. the level of collaboration with the zionist enemy has reached new heights. now the egyptian police are murdering bedouins as ramattan news reported:

Egyptian police shot and killed a Bedouin in north Sinai on Saturday and seized munitions concealed in his truck believed to be destined for Gaza, Egyptian security official said.

“A Bedouin was shot and killed during an exchange of fire between police and armed men in north Sinai,” the official said.

Police in El-Arish ordered a truck to stop to be searched, but the driver tried to speed away only to crash into a police van.

Four Bedouin jumped out in attempt to get away on foot and one of them died in the shootout that ensued, the official added.

and it gets worse. now the egyptians are collaborating with israeli terrorists to completely sever gaza’s only lifeline to the outside world–where it gets everything from textbooks to toothpaste:

Egyptian sources reported that Egyptian security forces located and destroyed six tunnels along the border with the Gaza Strip.

The sources added that the tunnels were used for smuggling goods and other essentials to the Gaza Strip, where 1.5 million Palestinians have been living under strict siege for more than two years.

Sounds of explosions were heard across the border as the security forces wired the entrances of the tunnels detonating them.

The tunnels are located near the neighborhoods of Al Barazil and Al Salam, east of the Palestinian city of Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Egypt recently escalated its campaign against the tunnels entering into Gaza. Israel and Egypt say that the

and it gets even worse: now it is public that mossad, israel’s terrorist version of america’s cia, cooperates with the egyptian mukhabarat:

Lines separating warring camps in the region are becoming increasingly clearer as news emerged Monday that foreign intelligence services – including Israel’s Mossad – provided Egyptian authorities with intelligence that contributed to the uncovering of a Hezbollah-run terrorist ring and led to the arrest of dozens of suspects.

Meanwhile, Egyptian sources upped the tone of the charges against Hezbollah Monday by claiming that the aim of the underground activity was not limited to plans for terrorist attacks against tourist areas frequented by foreigners, but also against targets in the Suez canal.

Foreign intelligence services, including the Mossad and the CIA, contributed information to Egypt that led to the uncovering of the Hezbollah terror cell in that country, Philippe Vasset, editor of Intelligence Online told Haaretz.

and it gets far worse. is it really possible that the country that gave us gamal abdel nasser and his vision of arab unity and nationalism could stoop to this level so as to so identify with the white man, with the colonist, with the real terrorists so as to turn against his arab kin? is that really what the divide and rule of american-israeli terrorism has brought us to in this region? given the following report it would seem so:

The Egyptian press on Sunday slammed Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah as a war criminal who should be put on trial after he admitted that his militants in Cairo were helping Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Nasrallah said on Friday that a man Cairo is holding on suspicion of planning attacks is a member of his Lebanese Shiite fundamentalist group and was providing logistical help to Hamas, but denied seeking to destabilise Egypt.

“A criminal who knows no mercy” cried the blood-red headline in the state-owned Al-Gomhuria which reserved the whole of its front page for an editorial bashing Nasrallah, repeatedly referring to him as “Sheikh Monkey.”

“Sheikh Monkey, we will not allow you to belittle our judicial symbols, for you are a highway robber, a pure criminal who has killed his own people but we will not allow you to threaten the peace and security of Egypt,” editor Mohammed Ali Ibrahim wrote.

“You and your gang are terrorists and soon… the public prosecutor will issue details of an investigation into your terrorist organisation,” he said.

Al-Ahram newspaper, which is also state-owned, said Nasrallah’s admission that Hezbollah is operating in Egypt provided grounds for prosecution.

“The admission by (Nasrallah) of sending agents into Egypt… puts him at the forefront of accusations and requires dealing with him under Egyptian law, or international law and issuing an (Interpol) red notice for his arrest,” said editorial writer Ahmed Mussa.

“Egypt must start proceedings to try him in an international court. He has admitted to the crime. He must be handed to the Lebanese government as a war criminal,” Karam Gabr, editor of the pro-regime Rose Al-Yussef, told Egyptian television.

Egypt is holding 49 people with alleged links to Hezbollah accused of plotting “hostile operations” in Egypt, among them Sami Shihab, a Lebanese citizen.

In his speech on Friday, Nasrallah confirmed that Shihab was a member of Hezbollah and was working to help Hamas against Israel.

“If helping the Palestinians is a crime, I officially admit to my crime.”

Hezbollah, which is backed by Egypt’s regional rivals Iran and Syria, is a vocal supporter of Hamas, the Islamist rulers of Gaza, and has lashed out at Egypt for closing its border crossing with the Palestinian enclave.

An Israeli cabinet minister said on Sunday that Nasrallah deserved to die.

“Nasrallah deserves death and I hope that those who know what to do with him will act and give him what he deserves,” said Transport Minister Yisrael Katz.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a devastating war in Lebanon in 2006 which ended with Israel failing to achieve any of its aims.

this is what brainwashing looks like. that egyptian officials can be so duped by the west and their terrorist partners that they turn against the only leader in the region who is working to support palestinian resistance. if it were up to the mubarak regime, clearly palestinians would rot in hell. i saw a very disturbing episode of “inside story” with kamal santamaria on al jazeera the other night. i refuse to post it because santamaria hosted an egyptian on it who is allied with zionist terorrists and that information was not disclosed. though one comment made by this khalil al-anani made it quite clear: he actually said with a straight face that “no one is a better friend to the palestinians than egypt.” i kid you not. re-read laila’s blog entry above–which is notable because she published it not because this is not something that happens to palestinians every day. because it does. and she is clear about that. but in any case you can go to pulse media if you want to watch it. here is their assessment of the show:

The Egyptian government and the state media is frothing at the mouth over the revelation that Hizbullah had been trying to assist the besieged Gazans across the border which Egypt polices on Israel’s behalf. As usual, they were quick to resort to sectarian incitement invoking the inevitable ‘Persian’ plot. However, most Sunnis (here I would include myself) have nothing but admiration for Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and the resistance, and nothing but contempt for the Egyptian collaborationist government.

For those who don’t know the Egyptian panelist Khalil al-Anani is a ‘visiting fellow’ at the Israel lobby’s key propaganda institution the Saban Center for Middle East Policy (run by Martin Indyk, and underwritten by Israeli-American media mogul Haim Saban).

oh, and if egypt is looking to reform itself you should look to lebanon for a lesson in how to behave with collaborators (though how would this work in egypt: could we imprison and interrogate the entire mubarak collaborating regime?):

The Lebanese internal security services stated on Tuesday that it had arrested a retired security officer, from Ramish town in southern Lebanon, on suspicion that he had acted as a spy spy for Israel for more than ten years.

The man arrested was identified as Adeeb A. Initial reports revealed that the man admitted to holding regular meetings with Israeli handlers in Europe, and that he confessed to collaborating with different Israeli intelligence departments for more than 10 years.

The Al Akhbar Lebanese newspaper said that, three months ago, Lebanese security had been monitoring the communications of a group of suspects who were thought to be collaborating with Israel by giving Israeli security information on activities in the north and east of Beirut, and in southern Lebanon.

Adeeb was detained and interrogated last Saturday. His wife, also believed to be a collaborator, was later arrested and interrogated, revealing new information.

and for those of you who missed hassan nasrallah’s amazing speech the other night and want reminding of what arab unity could look like if done in the name of resistance, justice, and helping to liberate palestine here is his captivating, powerful, mesmerizing speech in full (thanks tam tam!) :

this is what has got egypt all in a dither. this is what should make us all mobilize together.

siegefire

fellow blogger laila el haddad has been trapped in the egyptian airport for over 16 hours now. it should have been a simple passage: land in cairo, get a hotel for the night, find transportation to rafah, and go see her family in gaza city. instead, she has been told she is a “political and security risk” and she is trapped there. they are threatening to deport her and send her back to the united states, where she has been living with her two small children and husband. she has been updating people via twitter as there is wifi at the airport.

it’s not that she wants to go through egypt, she said sarcastically today that she would prefer a parachute if that were possible, but when zionist colonists occupy your land and control your borders, you need to go through neighboring country. unfortunately, her neighboring country, egypt, is controlled by an american puppet who does the bidding of the zionists and americans in the region. never anything for his own people, millions of whom go hungry every night.

my friend sameh habeeb wrote an article today coining a brilliant new phrase: he says palestinians in gaza don’t have a ceasefire they have a siegefire:

The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza, (ECESG) calls upon all International Organization working on the Gaza Strip to intervene immediately. The siege is not only suffocating the people of Gaza and depriving them of basic necessities, it is also breaking international law. In the wake of the siege, which shows no sign of abating after three years, numerous international condemnations and desperate pleas have been shamelessly rejected by the Israeli authorities.

Action urgently required as borders are severely restricted…

Patients still dying and death toll 313 as no exit, no enough medicines…
Tens of thousands displaced…
Re construction not allowed…
Extreme poverty and unemployment paralyzing life…
Freedom of Movement is a taboo…

Crossings operate with low capacity while thousands of basic commodities are still denied entry into Gaza. Many promises have been made to improve the living conditions, which thus far, have not materialized.

and, of course, mubarak is a big part of this siege. at least 50% of it. and his american/zionist partners in crime. here is a perfect example of the malek mubarak (yes, malek because he is in power forever and grooming his son to take over afterwards) and the way he bends over backwards to shamefully lick the ground the israeli and american terrorists walk on even when they s*&^ all over egyptians not to mention arabs and muslims more generally:

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday for an official visit to the Egyptian Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheik for talks.

Mubarak extended the invitation during a phone conversation with Netanyahu, in which he congratulated the prime minister on the formation of his new government.

The pair stressed the amicable relations between their countries and said they would continue, and even strengthen in the future. No date was set for the Sharm el-Sheik visit.

Netanyahu’s bureau said the premier told Mubarak that, “There is supreme importance to peace between the two countries.” He added that both states had an interest in strengthening that peace in order to counter threats to it.

A statement from the official Egyptian news agency on the conversation did not mention an invitation. It said Netanyahu called Mubarak and pledged to work for peace despite premeditated impressions, a reference to the new Israeli leader’s past opposition to concessions to the Palestinians.

The invitation came after heightened diplomatic tensions between the neighboring states after Egypt’s ambassador to Israel recently threatened to boycott a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the Israel-Egypt peace accord. He threatened to do so to protest the pending appointment to foreign minister of Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman.

Egypt has said it will boycott Lieberman, who is now foreign minister, unless he issues an official apology for past remarks, including telling Mubarak to “go to hell.”

that’s not the only problem with egypt. the government is now unleashing a campaign of harassing and arresting palestinians in egypt: such clear evidence of the mubarak regime doing the dirty work of the zionists:

Egyptian sources reported that the Egyptian police arrested 40 Lebanese, Egyptian and Palestinian nationals, including Arab residents of Israel, accused of aiding Hezbollah and of gathering financial support for Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The arrests were conducted in utmost secrecy nearly six months ago, and relatives of the detained nationals hired Egyptian attorney, Montaser Al Zayyat, to represent them.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Al Zayyat said that he was contacted by the family of a Lebanese national, identified as Hani Sami Shihab, who informed him that their son was detained and that they do not know the reason behind the arrest.

Al Zayyat added that seven Palestinians and a number of Egyptians were also arrested, and the Egyptian intelligence started interrogating them last Saturday.

The lawyer was unable to meet the detained nationals but was informed that the interrogation is currently focused on the role of Hezbollah in the issue at hand.

Seven of the detained nationals are Arab residents of Israel, the rest are Lebanese and Egyptians.

It is worth mentioning that several news agencies reported that Egyptian security forces chased a vehicle in the streets of Cairo and arrested its passengers. All of the arrestees are members of Hamas; nearly 7 million dollars were found with them.

The detained members said that the money was meant to be sent to Gaza to help the some of the residents who lost their homes during the latest Israeli war on Gaza.

The arrests came as Egypt boosted its security measures to stop arms smuggling into Gaza. Egyptian border police already located and demolished dozens of arms smuggling tunnels.

meanwhile israeli terrorists are busy trying to recruit palestinian fisherman as collaborators:

A Palestinian security source revealed that the Israeli intelligence started recently a campaign of arrest and interrogation against Gaza fishermen with the aim of recruiting the largest number of spies in the Strip after Israel lost contact with many of its informers in the last war on Gaza.

The source told Al-Majd website that the last of these arrests took place at dawn Tuesday where the Israeli military navy kidnapped a number of fishermen at sea and took them to an unknown destination.

The source added Israeli Shabak officers interrogate the kidnapped fishermen about the situation in Gaza in general and the Palestinian resistance in particular and threaten them to target them at sea if they do not cooperate.

Al-Majad website, which raises the security awareness among the Palestinian people, met with a number of Gaza fishermen who said that they refused to collaborate with the Israeli intelligence despite its threats.

while palestinian fisherman resist such collaboration in gaza, in ramallah it seems that some palestinians are all too willing to collaborate with their neocolonial american masters:

The United States has been training senior Palestinian security officials in an advanced officers course in Ramallah for top-brass, Haaretz has learned.

The new course, entitled “senior leaders’ course,” is a two-month long program conducted in Ramallah with the assistance and supervision of the U.S., and is part of the project overseen by the U.S. security coordinator in the territories, Gen. Keith Dayton.

So far, the program has produced 80 graduates divided into two 40-student classes. A third class, made up of commanders from the Palestinian National Security – the largest security force with 15,000 members, tasked with policing borders, providing military intelligence, military police services and presidential security – is currently being trained in Jordan.

That class is undergoing special training by Jordanian instructors under American auspices. Most students so far have been army lieutenant colonels and colonels, but the course also accepted commanders from the civilian police, the general intelligence service, the preventative security force and the civilian defense authority.

i’ll leave you on a positive note. lina al sharif, they young blogger in gaza, is also an artist. here is one of her new pieces. you can see the rest on her blog. but i love the message: never forgive, never forget. aiwa, bizabt!

Laila Al Sharif
Lina Al Sharif

gaza in ruins. still.

democracy now! showed a film yesterday produced by anjali kamat on the economy of gaza called “land in ruins: a special report on gaza’s economy.” it is an amazing film as so many produced by big noise films are and i encourage you to watch the whole thing, but here are some highlights of their words–voices from palestinians and people who work in gaza who are on the ground to give you an inkling about what people there face and what they want–but the film footage gives you the powerful images to go with it:

NAHEELA SAMMOUNI: [translated] All of this is farmland. We used to grow chard, lettuce, turnips, radish, all from here. We’d sell it in the market and get some money to feed our children. Now our land is spoiled. Everything is destroyed. What can we do? We used to have sweet, tart pomegranates behind our home, so many plums, apricots, all right behind our house. Now, the olives, figs, everything is gone. We tended to our plants like our own children, so they would grow and we could eat from them. Now see what they did to us. What did we do wrong?

JOHN GING: There’s going to be no reconstruction in Gaza until the crossing points open. There isn’t a bag of cement coming into Gaza at the moment. We have had to, you know, reopen our schools without conducting the repairs, because there is nothing—there’s no glass to fix the windows or do the basic repairs that are needed. We just have to make safe the area that is damaged and get on.

TUNNEL WORKER: [translated] This work is very difficult. But we have no choice. We have to work in order to eat. If the crossings were open and the goods and cement were coming in, there’s no way I would be doing this. If we work, we eat; if not, we go hungry. This is our only means, our only livelihood. As long as the crossings are closed, there’s no alternative to the tunnels.

ABU OMAR: [translated] We don’t want to beg the world for money. We just want to take those who destroyed our houses to court. If we are really criminals and our houses are terrorist houses, then OK, this is what you get. But if our houses are innocent and our factories are innocent, then the Israelis need to account for what they destroyed. They are the ones who should give us the reparations. Why do we need to rely on the sympathy of the world? We don’t want that. We want the world to stand by our rights. We don’t want their charity, little bits of money and food. We’re full, thank God. We are just asking for our rights, nothing else.

my friend sameh habeeb has a new photo exhibit in vancouver, canada right now called “victims’ victims” with images of gaza that he took during the savagery brought on gaza by israeli terrorists and their american allies. you can see the images by clicking this link. the shots are really powerful: close up, crisp. you should also visit his new newspaper based in gaza, the palestine telegraph. here is one of his moving photographs:

sameh habeeb photo of chickens bombed in gaza
sameh habeeb photo of chickens bombed in gaza

sameh has a blog post on the chickens being bombed entitled “were the chickens firing rockets?” that he wrote during the massacres in gaza that explains the above image.

in the democracy now! report above they did not specifically address the issue of water, but it is a problem in gaza and people do not have access to this either just as they do not have access to food, books, cement, glass, or any basic necessities. irin news has a report on this today:

Over 150,000 Palestinians in Gaza (around 10 percent of the population) are struggling without tap water as a result of the damage caused to wells, pipes and waste water facilities during the recent 23-day Israeli offensive which ended on 18 January.

“Our requests via the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to the Israeli military during the conflict to allow shipments of construction materials and spare parts to repair wells and facilities damaged during the war were denied,” Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) director-general Monther Shoblak told IRIN.

Shoblak estimates that 50,000 people lack tap water after losing their homes, while a further 100,000 have dry taps because of damage to the water supply network.

Eleven of Gaza’s 150 wells, the only source of drinking water for Gaza’s 1.4 million people (apart from expensive bottled water and water trucked in by aid agencies), are not functioning. Six were completely destroyed, according to CMWU.

and imran garda’s “focus on gaza” for al jazeera’s first half was finally posted today. i posted the second half the other day, but here we can see sherine tadros reporting on the situation in beit lahiya as well as the education sector more generally.

on a side note: i saw a tweet from sherine tadros today announcing gerry adams arrival in gaza tomorrow. a couple of hours later this was posted on the zionist entity’s jerusalem post website:

Northern Ireland political leader Gerry Adams will not be allowed to enter Gaza this week because he plans to meet Hamas officials, Israel said Tuesday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel “would not help Adams meet with Hamas terror leaders.”

A spokesman for Adams, Ted Howell, said Adams and his delegation planned to visit Gaza on Wednesday. He said, “we will meet with whoever wants to meet us.”

colonialism on crack

the daily news of massive violations of international law and of war crimes committed by israeli terrorists is nothing new. they do this all the time. they have always done this. what is new is that various reports keep coming out in the western media. what is not new is that such reports change nothing. still no state that, for instance, has a seat on the united nations security council, is doing anything to stop any of the massive violations of human rights, the war crimes in gaza, the ongoing colonization of palestinian land.

clancy chassay and julian borger posted three really important film son the guardian’s website documenting some of the most egregious of these war crimes. i cannot post the films here, but i strongly recommend clicking on the link below and going directly to the website to watch them. here is what chassay and borger wrote in their accompanying article:

The Guardian has compiled detailed evidence of alleged war crimes committed by Israel during the 23-day offensive against Gaza earlier this year, involving the use of Palestinian children as human shields, the targeting of medics and hospitals, and drone aircraft firing on civilians.

Three Guardian films based on a month-long investigation, add weight to calls this week for a full inquiry into the events surrounding Operation Cast Lead, which was aimed at Hamas but left about 1,400 Palestinians dead, including up to 300 children….

The Guardian’s investigation follows soldiers’ evidence published in the Israeli press about the killing of Palestinian civilians and complaints by colleagues involved in the military operation that the rules of engagement were too lax….

Some of the most dramatic testimony gathered by the Guardian came from three teenage brothers in the al-Attar family. The trio describe how they were taken from their home at gunpoint, made to kneel in front of tanks to deter Hamas fighters from firing at them and sent by Israeli soldiers into Palestinian houses to clear them.

“They would make us go first so if any fighters shot at them the bullets would hit us not them,” 14-year-old Al’a al-Attar said.

Medics and ambulance drivers said they were targeted when they tried to tend to the wounded. Sixteen of them were killed. According to the World Health Organisation, more than half of Gaza’s 27 hospitals and 44 clinics were damaged by Israeli bombs. Two clinics were destroyed. In one incident, paramedics were fired on by a tank using a shell filled with 8,000 lethal metal darts as they were carrying a wounded man to an ambulance.

In a report released today, doctors for Human Rights Israel said there was “certainty” that Israel violated international humanitarian law during the three-week war in January, with attacks on medics, damage to medical buildings, indiscriminate attacks on civilians and delays in medical treatment for the injured….

The Guardian gathered testimony of missile attacks by Israeli drones on clearly distinguishable civilian targets. In one case a family of six was killed when a missile hit the courtyard of their house. Israel has not admitted to the use of drones but military experts say their optical equipment is good enough to clearly identify individual items of clothing worn by targets….

Last week, a group of 16 of the world’s leading war crimes investigators and judges called on the UN to launch a full inquiry into “alleged gross violations of the laws of war committed by both sides during the recent conflict in Gaza and southern Israel”.

in response to those films, seumas milne posed some important questions that world leaders and the united nations must consider:

There is of course no chance that the UN security council will authorise the kind of International Criminal Court war crimes indictment now faced by Sudan’s leaders over Darfur. Any such move would certainly be vetoed by the US and its allies. And Israel’s own courts have had no trouble in the past batting away serious legal challenges to its army’s atrocities in the occupied territories. But the use of universal jurisdiction in countries such as Spain or even Britain is making Israeli commanders increasingly jumpy about travelling abroad.

With such powerful evidence of violations of the rules of war now emerging from the rubble of Gaza, the test must be this: is the developing system of international accountability for war crimes only going to apply to the west’s enemies – or can the western powers and their closest allies also be brought to book?

meanwhile today one of the top israeli terrorists called today for a re-occupation of gaza:

Matan Vilnai, the deputy Israeli defense minister under the newly-formed Israeli government, stated Sunday that he believes the Israeli military should re-occupy parts of the Gaza Strip with military force in order to stop the Palestinian resistance.

“We need to conquer the areas from which mortar shells are being fired,” said Valnai in a speech at a conference of the Institute for National Security Studies in Israel. He continued, “The mortar shell is the main threat. They are (fired from) a limited (distance) of 5-6 km and we just need to be there.”

Israeli forces pulled out of Gaza in 2005, but still maintain a tight military presence on all borders between Gaza and Israel, preventing Palestinians in Gaza from leaving the Strip, and implementing a siege that has paralyzed the economy of Gaza and made commerce impossible.

Vilnai called for the re-occupation in order to, as he said, stop the Palestinian resistance from firing homemade shells across the border into Israel. He didn’t address the fact that the shelling had only resumed after Israeli forces engaged in multiple violations of a six-month ceasefire implemented between Israel and the Hamas government in Gaza.

He also criticized the system of alerts that was meant to inform citizens of Israel of Palestinian shelling, saying that there were malfunctions in the system that kept some alerts from going off. But he didn’t mention the fact that in the last Israeli invasion of Gaza, Palestinians were killed at a rate of 100 to 1, in comparison to Israeli casualties, and the Palestinians have no alert system whatsoever.

there may not be an terrorist army physically inside occupying gaza from the inside, but make no mistake about it, gaza is occupied in the form of this siege. a siege, by the way, that egypt is completely complicit in. here is the latest disgusting move from the egyptian regime:

Egyptian police seized a flock of 560 sheep set to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip through underground tunnels.

A security official says the flock was discovered on Sunday night, along with the entrances to six tunnels in the Salah el-Din district north of the Rafah border crossing.

Police seized five tons of cement and found a half ton cache of TNT hidden in near the border.

Gaza has been under a crippling Israeli and Egyptian blockade since Hamas violently seized control of Gaza in June 2007.

The tunnels are the main artery for food entering Gaza. But they are also a conduit for weapons to Gaza militants.

Israel destroyed many tunnels during its recent three-week military offensive in Gaza, but smuggling continues.

yes, this these sheep that people in gaza would have used for food…this cement that people would have used to rebuild their homes has been stolen by the egyptians who are enforcing this siege along with their israeli terrorist partners. of course americans are a part of that system of siege even though we may not by physically present. it is our weapons that enforce the siege as this marc garlasco and darryl li write in the nation:

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have become ubiquitous in Gaza’s skies in recent years and are key to the notion that Israel can use high-tech precision weaponry to distinguish between combatants and civilians. The facts, however, suggest that any weapon is only as discriminating as the people using it.

Israel is the world’s leader in drone technology. It has modified US designs for its own use and even for export (despite the recent diplomatic spat between Israel and Turkey, a drone purchase deal between the two countries appears to be on track). Israel’s primary armed model, the Hermes, is the Israel Defense Force’s answer to the Predator, which is used extensively by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Hermes can hover at 18,000 feet for up to twenty hours at a time. Its sensors can discern people on the ground–they can even distinguish between adults and children. Drones can carry a variety of munitions; those used in Gaza appear to rely primarily on a variant of the US-made Spike anti-tank missile, with a lethal blast radius of ten to twenty meters.

Little wonder, then, that drones were the IDF’s weapon of choice when Israel launched its military campaign on December 27 with an attack on the Gaza City police headquarters, which killed at least forty cadets during a police academy graduation ceremony. According to the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, the proposal to attack this event was hotly debated within the IDF for months. IDF lawyers knew that these policemen were presumptively civilians under international law, which would consider them legitimate targets only if they were directly participating in hostilities against Israel. At the site of this attack Human Rights Watch researchers found hundreds of perfectly cubic pieces of metal shrapnel, circuit boards and other parts (including some marked with Motorola serial numbers), and four small impact craters–all consistent with drone-fired missiles.

The assault that killed Mo’men Allaw was one of six drone attacks that Human Rights Watch researchers in the Gaza Strip investigated, in which twenty-nine civilians were killed. Five of six took place in broad daylight, and all of them without any evident military targets in the vicinity, in civilian areas that were removed from fighting and, because they were so densely built-up and distant from border areas, were unlikely sites for launching rockets into Israel. In addition to interviewing more than a dozen witnesses, we gathered extensive physical evidence consistent with drone attacks, such as telltale cubic pieces of shrapnel, and took photographs of the blast patterns left behind in walls and items of clothing speckled with dozens of tiny square holes. Other human rights groups have documented dozens of similar incidents.

One of the deadliest drone attacks occurred a few hours after the initial December 27 air assault. A drone fired a missile at a group of youths who had gathered around a radio as they waited for a bus near the United Nations Relief and Works Agency headquarters in Gaza City. The missile killed twelve young men, mostly students at the UNRWA-sponsored Gaza Training College across the street.

“We heard a buzzing noise in the air before the explosion,” recalled Ibrahim Rayyis, 19, who witnessed the attack from a nearby store. “When I went out to see what happened, my two brothers Hisham and Allam were lying on the ground, blood gushing from their wounds.” Their father, Nehru Rayyis, later stumbled upon the body of another relative killed in the attack, 20-year-old Abd Allah, on the floor outside an overflowing morgue in a Gaza hospital.

Human Rights Watch has also documented several cases of children killed while playing on the roofs of their homes. On January 4, the day before Mo’men Allaw was killed, an Israeli drone fired a missile at two children playing on the roof of a two-story home in downtown Gaza City, killing Mahmoud Mashharawi, 12, and Ahmed Subayh, 16. Mahmoud’s brother Ashraf, 30, a cameraman who has worked with Britain’s Channel 4 television, rushed to the hospital in time to watch his brother die on the operating table.

A few hours later, five children from the al-Habbash family who were on the roof of their home in the al-Shaaf neighborhood were struck by a drone-fired missile, killing 10-year-old Shadhar and 12-year-old Isra. Two of their teenage siblings each lost both of their legs. “We keep chickens on the roof, and the kids were feeding them and playing,” their father, Muhammad, a science teacher at an UNRWA school, told us. After the ambulances evacuated his children, he said, he collected pieces of their skin and flesh from the roof.

That Israel’s drones essentially treated anyone on a Gaza rooftop as a target was apparent most of all to its own soldiers. “They told us not to go up on the roofs because everyone who goes up on the roof is going to be taken out,” an IDF medic stationed in the Zaytoun area on the outskirts of Gaza City during the campaign told Human Rights Watch. His comrades made clear, he said, that if he went up on the roof of a Palestinian home, “somebody from the air will take you down.”

However indiscriminately they may have struck, IDF drones probably killed fewer civilians than old-fashioned weapons such as artillery and tank shells during the recent military campaign.

No weapon better symbolizes Israel’s indirect occupation of the Gaza Strip. Since removing its military bases and settlers from Gaza in 2005, Israel has disclaimed any responsibility as an occupying power for the well-being of Gaza’s populace. But even without permanent garrisons, Israel continues to control Gaza’s economy and infrastructure, from its borders and airspace to its power grid and monetary policy. The Israeli blockade of Gaza, tightened in mid-2007 after Hamas took over Palestinian Authority institutions, has created immense hardships on Gaza’s civilian population. And just as Israel’s control of Gaza’s borders allows it to dictate from a safe distance what Gazans can eat, whether they can turn on their lights and what kinds of medical treatment are available to them, drones give Israel the ability to carry out targeted attacks without having to risk “boots on the ground.”

Under the laws of war, Israel remains a belligerent force and an occupier in Gaza, and its actions are accordingly regulated by two sets of rules: one for how it may fight and another for ensuring the welfare of the population. Israel uses its drones to pay lip service to the first set of duties and its embargo to wash its hands of the latter. In short, it seeks indefinite control without responsibility. The facts, however, tell a starkly different story: that neither remote-control weapons nor remote-control occupations equal more justice or less bloodshed.

but the issue is not only gaza. the issue is also about the palestinians living in historic 1948 palestine who also live under occupation on various levels. the racism is getting increasingly worse there:

Anti-Arab verbal and physical attacks inside Israel have spiked in the wake of elections held earlier this year in which right-wing parties made major gains, a human rights group said on Sunday.

The Mossawa Centre for the Rights of Arab Citizens in Israel has documented 250 incidents of aggression against Arab Israelis since the start of the year, compared to 166 in all of 2008, the group said in a report.

“The physical and verbal aggression has increased mainly in cities with mixed Arab-Jewish populations,” the report said.

“The increase in incidents indicating anti-Arab racism is apparently related to the electoral campaign for the February 10 elections in which candidates played the anti-Arab card, almost giving a green light to aggression,” Nidal Hotman, an attorney and spokesman for the group, told AFP.

He was referring mainly to the campaign of Avigdor Lieberman, a tough-talking immigrant from the former Soviet Union who has taken a hard line on Israeli Arabs and been called a “racist” and “fascist” by his critics.

The centerpiece of his campaign was the demand that all Israeli citizens take an oath of loyalty to the Jewish state, a policy derided as racist by many in the Arab Israeli community which makes up 20 percent of Israel’s population.

jonathan cook had a really powerful piece in electronic intifada last week about how this racism affects the lives of palestinian bedouin in 1948 palestine, which reads in part:

Little Ashimah Abu Sbieh’s life hangs by a thread — or more specifically, an electricity cable that runs from a noisy diesel-powered generator in the family’s backyard. Should the generator’s engine fail, she could die within minutes.

Ashimah suffers from a rare genetic condition that means her brain fails to tell her lungs to work. Without the assistance of an electric inhalator, she would simply stop breathing.

That nearly happened late last year when the generator broke down during the night. Her parents, Siham and Faris, woke to find the 11-month-old’s face blue from a lack of oxygen. They reconnected the inhalator to a set of car batteries and then battled to fix the generator before the two hours of stored power ran out.

The desperate plight of Ashimah’s parents is shared by thousands of other Bedouin families caring for chronically sick relatives who live in communities to which Israel refuses to supply electricity, said Wasim Abas of Physicians for Human Rights in Israel.

The organization’s latest report, titled Sentenced to Darkness, calls the state’s denial of essential services, including running water and electricity, to 83,000 Bedouin in the southern Negev desert, “bureaucratic evil.”

Abas said the lives of Bedouin patients who need a reliable supply of electricity — to refrigerate medicines and special foods, run air-conditioning or power nebulizers and inhalators — are being put in grave danger by official intransigence.

According to the report, 45 Bedouin villages have been denied services as a way to pressure them to renounce their title to ancestral lands and their traditional pastoral way of life. Instead, it is hoped they will move into a handful of deprived and land-starved Bedouin townships specially built by the state.

Concrete homes in the so-called unrecognized villages are under permanent threat of demolition, forcing many residents to live in tin huts and tents, and the national utility companies are barred from connecting them to services.

The Bedouin languish at the bottom of the country’s social and economic indices, with 70 percent of children living in poverty. Israel has also located a chemical waste dump and a massive electricity generating station close to several of the Negev’s unrecognized villages, though it refuses to connect them to the grid.

Abas said the lack of an electricity supply in particular posed a severe threat to the Bedouin community’s health. A fifth of all residents of unrecognized villages suffer from chronic illness, particularly asthma and diabetes, and require a reliable electrical supply to their homes for their treatment. Most must travel long distances, usually over dirt tracks, to reach health clinics and hospitals.

“We found that a lack of electricity contributed to a deterioration in the condition of these patients in about 70 percent of cases, and directly resulted in death in two percent of cases,” Abas said.

Hopes that Israel would be forced to connect the villages to the national grid were dashed in 2005 when the courts ruled against the family of a three-year-old cancer victim, Enas al-Atrash, who was demanding electricity for the family home. Doctors had warned that Enas might die without reliable refrigeration of her medicines and an air-conditioned environment.

Instead, the judges criticized the family for living in an unrecognized village, though they recommended that officials contribute to the family’s large fuel bill so they could continue running a generator.

couple this with the posts below about all of the massive ethnic cleansing happening in al quds, as well as the west bank, and you have full scale colonialism on crack. in an article in the palestine monitor today it raised questions about why the israeli colonial terrorist regime is allowed to be the last of a dying breed. it concludes with these questions:

Why is Israel the only country that has been allowed to continue colonialist ventures? Why are International Laws and UN resolutions not enforced on Israel, but enforced on others? Why does the rest of the world remain silent towards those double-standards policy?

If International Law and organizations such as the UN are to be effective and continue to exist, they must be enforced. If not, they become ‘suggestions’ instead of laws and resolutions.

For order and humanity to exist in the world, the International Community must enforce their decisions. If not, why should any nation be bound by their authority? Israel must be made to respect the laws and resolutions of the International Community and the shared humanitarian values we can all believe in.

Just like the rest of the world, Israel must give up its colonialist ventures in Palestine and Palestine must be allowed to gain its freedom and sovereignty over its lands.

Colonialism must end in all of its manifestations—and that includes you, Israel.

racism, apartheid, and osloization

i’m preparing lecture notes for next week’s lecture notes for my postcolonial literature class. i’m teaching mbulelo vizikhungo mzamane’s novel the children of soweto. the novel is a moving portrait of the soweto uprising in 1976 that was led entirely by the youth. the youth were opposed to the enforcement of afrikaans as the language of instruction in south african schools. the thing that is interesting about the novel is that mzamane is one of the student leaders from that resistance movement so it is autobiographical and an historical chronicle of the events as they unfolded. it would be like of one of the youth leaders of the first intifada wrote a novel about it. because the soweto uprising was very similar to the first intifada–stone throwers against tanks and all. here is how he describes one of those instances:

Sizwe was two years older than Nomsa. He and Sandile went to school in the township. During the day they had been involved in a demonstration, together with children from other primary and secondary schools in the township. They marched through the streets, singing old liberation songs and others they had composed themselves, to protest against the enforcement of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in certain subjects throughout African schools. The students planned to converge at the township’s largest soccer stadium to voice their opposition to the scheme.

The police met them in the streets, before they could reach the stadium, and asked them through loudspeakers to disperse. They told the students that in terms of the Riotous Assemblies Act, which the children had never heard about, they were breaking the law by staging a protest march without obtaining permission from the police first.

“You are here. Give us your permission then,” someone in the crowd shouted. And the chant caught on, “Give us your permission then.”

The police then used teargas to try and disperse the students. Far from scattering about in a disorganised fashion, the students soon developed a technique for containing the teargas. Armed with cloths and buckets of water requisitioned from nearby houses, they covered the canisters with wet cloths as soon as they hit the ground. In this way many of the canisters were prevented from exploding. Thus unable to break the march the police resorted to shooting. At first they aimed above the heads of the crowd, but as the students surged forward resolutely they fired at their front ranks. Some students retaliated by throwing stones at the police. In the ensuing scuffle a few people were injured, including some police and onlookers, and several children were shot dead. (53-54)

there are so many other parallels in the novel–from collaborators within the ranks of south african resistance to the media’s total distortion of why these youth were resisting in the first place. and, then, of course are the curfews, closures, arrests, and torture.

south africa, like the zionist entity, were founded on ideologies of racial or religious supremacy. it is worth recalling what ali abunimah’s brilliant book, one country: a bold proposal to end the israeli-palestinian impasse has to say about the colonization of south africa:

The origins of the Afrikaner identity date back to April 6, 1652, when the Dutch East India Company established a colony on the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa. Nelson Mandela explains that April 6 was “the day white South Africans annually commemorate[d] the founding of their country–and Africans revile[d] as the beginning of three hundred years of enslavement.” This anniversary is redolent of May 14, the day in 1948 that Israel declared independence but which Palestinians observe as al-nakba–the catastrophe–the beginning of their exile and subjugation. In the late seventeenth century, colonists arrived at the cape from the Netherlands, Germany, France, and other parts of Europe, many escaping appalling religious persecution and massacres in their home countries. In the 1830s, the Afrikaners or Boers (as these colonists eventually called themselves), chafing under British rule and in search of more land, set off to conquer the interior. These arduous journeys on foot and in covered wagons became known as the Great Treks and ended with the establishment of three independent republics. During the Boer Wars in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the British crushed the Boer republics, generating enduring Afrikaner bitterness. The “Anglo-Boer War burnt itself into the collective consciousness of my people, the Afrikaners, like no other event in our history,” [F.W.] de Klerk has said. The British scorched-earth policy destroyed farms and killed livestock, and ended Boer independence. Worst of all, the British “interned our women and children in what became known as concentration camps.” (The term “concentration camp” was first used in this context.) Of the entire Afrikaner population–a few hundred thousand at the time–tens of thousands are believed to have died in the camps.

Afrikaners were determined never again to submit to foreign rule or forgo their independence and security. In 1910, the predominantly British-settled colonies of the cape and the former Boer republics int he interior formed the Union of South Africa, which excluded all indigenous African peoples, as well as Indians and other Asians, from any political power. Then, when the Afrikaner-dominated National Party won the whites-only general election in 1948, they ushered in a new era of more formalized discrimination–apartheid. As Mandela observes, the 1948 Nationalist election victory was, in the “cosmology” of Afrikaners, “like the Israelites’ journey to the Promised Land. This was the fulfillment of God’s promise, and the justification for their view that South Africa should remain a white man’s country forever.” Afrikaners compared the Great Treks to the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, and saw their republics as a “new Israel,” built on land redeemed from godless “Canaanites.” Out of the undeniable suffering and trauma of the Boer Wars, Afrikaners constructed an ideology in which they were in a state of permanent victimhood. They acted with the belief that God was on the side in a struggle for self-preservation against external forces whose sole motivation was their destruction. (136-138)

the histories and the methods of resistance in palestine and south africa have been quite similar. but the main difference between the two situations is that nelson mandela refused to sign any agreement, any document until all conditions had been met. he wasn’t stupid enough to trust the colonizing entity in south africa. he wanted to see them put their words into action, such as releasing political prisoners. and he had enough integrity to make sure the other prisoners were released before him. here in palestine the oslo accords were signed without the zionist entity ever having to give up anything. and they never have. instead, they’ve created more suffering, more oppression, and increased the apartheid conditions.

today on z net haidar eid has a really important and smart article that addresses the way that oslo has destroyed palestine on so many levels, which i quote in full below:

One of the most important outcomes of the Gaza massacre (2009) has been the unprecedented tremendous outpouring of popular support for the Palestinian cause; something the signatories of the Oslo accords (1993) must have not been happy with. The return of the pre-Oslo slogans of liberation, as opposed to independence, have, undoubtedly, created a new dilemma, not only for Oslo political elites, but also for the NGOized, Stalinist Left.

The process of “Osloization”i.e, a combination of corruption, Ngoization, and a selling-out of revolutionary principles and sloganeering, fused with the fiction of the two-prison solution, has been dealt a heavy blow in the 2006 elections. Judging from statements made, not only by PA officials, but also by the Left, and even the Hamas government, the ultimate goal of the current river of blood has become the establishment of a Palestinian state in any dimension, i.e. the two-state solution. The contradiction between the tremendous international support, the revival of the BDS campaign, the outpouring of demos against Apartheid Israel and its war crimes against the Palestinians of Gaza, and the reiteration, by most political orgs, of the two state mantra is a strong indication of the need for an alternative program that makes the De-Osloization of Palestine its first priority.

In order to understand the Oslo Accords and the extreme damage they have caused to the Palestinian cause, one needs a historical contextualization of the so called “peace process”, or rather what many critical thinkers have called the peace industry. This understanding is a necessary step towards a process of De-Osloization, a term I will get back to at a later stage.

The Oslo accord was claimed to be the first step towards self-determination and an independent state. But it is clear now, 16 years after the famous hand shake on the White House lawn, that no state in the short run will be established because of the mere fact that Oslo simply ignored the existence of the Palestinian people as a people. In other words, these accords have offered Zionism what it has always been striving for. Golda Meir’s infamous statement that there are no Palestinians is a case in point here.

And yet, to claim that ‘Oslo’ and ‘Camp David’ were great missed opportunities and ‘breakthrough’, and that the so-called ‘peace process’ was in track until the Palestinians (i.e. colonized victims) blew it is a deliberate ideological distortion of reality claimed in order to prepare Palestinians for more concessions. Real comprehensive peace was not created in Oslo and Washington; rather what was created is an American/Israeli plan to resolve the conflict after the destruction of Iraq and the collapse of the Soviet Union and their attempt to construct a “new Middle East”—to use Condoleeza Rice’s words–a Middle East characterized by imperialist-Zionist hegemony and supported by despotic regimes. The Oslo accord was born dead because it did not guarantee the minimum national and political rights of 10 million Palestinian. As long as there are refugees, cantons, detainees, blockade, settlements, ‘legal torture’ of prisoners, dispossession, assassinations and occupation, comprehensive peace cannot be achieved. It is an illusion in the minds of those who signed the Oslo accords.

These accords have led to the creation of a limited “administrative autonomy” in the Gaza Strip and some parts of the West Bank. The local population was given “the right” to form an authority that they could call “national.” Now the question is what makes the PNA (Palestinian National Authority) beyond questioning? What is the ‘legitimate’ ground upon which it was established? Very simple: The Oslo Accords. It has now become very obvious that despite the famous hand shakes on the White house lawn and in Annaplois, and the optimistic talk of the ‘New Middle East,’ these accords, in contradistinction with UN and Security Council resolutions, have not guaranteed the establishment of a sovereign, independent Palestinian state, or the return of the refugees, nor even the demolishment of the Jewish settlements, and compensation for those Palestinians who have lost—and still losing—their homes, lands and properties; nor the release of all political prisoners, or the opening of all checkpoints, which have become daily nightmares for residents of the WB and GS; …etc. In spite of all the hand shakes, kisses, and friendly press conferences, Israel launched one of the bloodiest wars in the history of the conflict against the civilian population of Gaza, killing in 22 days more than 1400 people, including 438 children, 120 women, 95 old people, 16 medics, 5 journalists, 5 foreign women, and in which it destroyed more than 40.000 institutions and houses, leaving many families homeless. That, of course, was not mentioned as an objective of the Oslo Accords, but nothing either was mentioned in them that would prevent such bloodletting from taking place.

This is the political reality that Palestinian officials who signed the agreement do not like to be reminded of. In fact, what has been created in parts of Gaza and the West Bank is a very strange entity—an apartheid-type Bantustan endorsed by the international community. Gaza 2009, therefore, is the mirror-image of Oslo. When we bear in mind that 75-80% of Gazans are refugees, the results of 2006 elections become more comprehensible not only in its anti-colonial context, but also in socio-political terms. What Oslo has created in Gaza, and the West Bank for that matter, is literally two different worlds, both of which have been led by undemocratic institutions, many security apparatuses, a Third Worldish military court (commended by the Clinton administration), corruption, mismanagement, inefficiency and nepotism—to mention but few (neo)colonial qualities.

By winning the 1948, 1956 and 1967 wars, and by getting international, Arab and Palestinian recognition, Israel–as an Apartheid settler-colonial state—has hoped to move into a new stage; a stage that requires the formation of ‘new consciousness’ amongst colonized Palestinians. Herein lies the danger of Oslo; Osloization, within this neo-Zionist context, means the creation of a new paradigm through which you wash out the consciousness of your supposed enemy-the ‘Other’-and replace it with a one-dimensional mentality, through the construction of a fiction (two states for two peoples) whose end is unattainable. Even the fascist Lieberman has started singing the same song.

Put differently, to aim at creating the two-state Palestinian is to aim at creating false consciousness led by assimilated intelligentsia, some of whom have a revolutionary past record. Singing the slogans of “the two state solution,” “two states for two peoples,” “return to the 1967 borders,”–or even “a long-term Hudna” (as proposed by Hamas) — is intended to guarantee the subordination and conformity of the Palestinians, especially those with revolutionary ideas. Gone are the right of return of 6 million refugees and their compensation, and the national and cultural rights of the indigenous population of Palestine 1948.

This goal, however, never sees the antithesis it creates as a result of displacement, exploitation, and oppression; it ignores the revolutionary consciousness that has been formulated throughout the different phases of the Palestinian struggle. Nor does it take into account the legacy of civil and political resistance that has become a trademark of the Palestinian struggle. Hence the necessity of the formulation of Palestinian alternative politics. To be conscious of the corruption of the Palestinian Authority, and of the huge class gape that the Oslo Accords have created has definitely been the beginning of De-Osloization represented in the Al-Aqsa uprising and the outcome of the 2006 elections. This is an oppositional consciousness that the signatories of Oslo did not take into account. Both events represent an outright rejection of the Oslo Accords and their consequences.

The Gaza Strip, however, is seen by the PA as one of three building blocks of an independent state, although it is geographically separated from the second block, i.e. the West Bank. The third block is, Jerusalem, is under total Israeli control. None of the Palestinians in the occupied territories believe that the ‘semi-autonomous’ zones in the GS and the WB -that is, the ones that fall under category A—can lay the foundation for an independent state. What Oslo has led to is, in fact, a South Africa. When black South Africans needed to move from their townships to big ‘white’ cities, they needed to get a ‘pass’. During ‘peace time,’ Palestinians, not only those who work in Israel, but also those who wanted to visit the WB form Gaza, or vice versa, needed to apply for a ‘permit’. Beside the permit, Palestinians needed a so-called ‘magnetic card,’ which is a computer card that has a password to its holder’s security file. No one could work in Israel, or visit the WB, or even go to a hospital inside the ‘green line’ without a ‘permit’ and a ‘magnetic card’. If one was granted such invaluable cards, one was still not allowed to visit any other area except the one s/he was entitled to visit. If one was ‘caught’ at another area, one’s permit and card were confiscated immediately, not to mention the torture one was exposed to. Nowadays, no one is even given such luxurious ‘permits’ and cards. How was apartheid South Africa different?

The tribal chiefs of the South African Bantustans used to believe that they were the heads of independent states. Luckily, the ANC, despite its many compromises with the National Party, had never accepted the idea of separation and Bantustans. The official Palestinian leadership on the other hand, at the end of the millennium, boasts of having laid the foundation for a Bantustan, claiming it to be an independent state in the make. Undoubtedly, this is the ultimate prize Zionism can offer to its ‘Other’ after having denied her/his existence for a century, and after that same ‘Other’ has proved that she is human. For Zionism’s continued presence in Palestine, the ‘Other’ must be assimilated and enslaved without her/ him being conscious of her/his enslavement. Hence the granting of ‘semi-autonomous’ rule over the most crowded Palestinian cities, and hence the logic driving the Oslo Accords.

Oslo, then, brought an unprecedented level of corruption into Palestine; and security coordination with Israel, under the supervision of—irony of ironies—an American general, has become the norm. Repeating the two-state mantra, carrying the Palestinian flag, singing the national anthem and— more importantly—recognizing Israel, regardless of the rights of two thirds of the Palestinian people, are what Oslo is all about.

The lesson we learn from Gaza 2009 is to harness all effort to fight the outcome of the Oslo Accords, and to form a United Front on a platform of resistance and reforms. This cannot be achieved without dismantling the PA and realizing that ministries, premierships, and presidencies in Gaza and Ramallah are a façade not unlike the South African Independent Homelands with their tribal chiefs. The classical national program, created and adopted by the Palestinian bourgeoisie has reached its end unsuccessfully. Most political forces, including the governing party in Gaza, fail to explain how 6 million Palestinian refugees will return to the Israeli State of the Jews and an independent Palestinian state will be created at the same time.

Hence the necessity for an alternative paradigm that divorces itself from the fiction of the two-prison solution, a paradigm that takes the sacrifices of the people of Gaza as a turning point in the struggle for liberation, one that builds on the growing global anti-apartheid movement that has been given an impetus by Gaza 2009. De-Osloizing Palestine is, therefore, a precondition for the creation of peace with justice.

part of this osloizing process that eid analyzes above is the continual dispossession of palestinians from their land. in gaza it happened in a very obvious way. it was clear to those who watched al jazeera, the only international media allowed into the gaza strip. and that savagery continues with israeli terrorists bombing gaza every day, which no longer reported in the international media:

The Israeli military confirmed that it bombed smuggling tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip early on Thursday.

Witnesses in Gaza said that the bombing took place in Rafah Refugee Camp, along the border with Egypt.

The Israeli military said the strike was in response to four homemade projectiles and one mortar shell that landed in Israel. No damage or injuries resulted from those attacks.

The tunnels in southern Gaza are used to import goods made scarce by an Israeli blockade that has been imposed on Gaza since 2007.

and what seems to me to be a clear–and horrifying–indication that hamas is in the process of becoming osloized:

Gaza’s Hamas rulers issued rare criticism Thursday of Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel from the strip, saying now is the wrong time for such attacks.

The Islamic militant group has fired thousands of rockets at southern Israel in recent years. But Hamas said Thursday that it was not behind recent attacks and that it was investigating who was responsible.

there are no rockets coming from the west bank. and there may not be bombs falling on the west bank, but the continual ethnic cleansing in the west bank and in 1948 goes on unnoticed for the most part. there is, of course, a bit of international coverage of the ethnic cleansing in al quds, which is possibly why there is a temporary ban on the demolition order of homes in silwan:

The Israeli Central Court in Jerusalem decided to temporarily freeze a decision to demolish 35 apartments in Al Abbasiyya neighborhood in the East Jerusalem town of Silwan.

Lawyer Ziad Qi’war, representing the families, said that the order gives the Jerusalem Municipality seven days to respond to appeals filed by the residents.

There are more than 240 Palestinians living in the buildings slated to be demolished.

Qi’war added that the appeal accuses the Jerusalem Municipality of practicing racism against the Jerusalemite Palestinians, and of not providing services to the residents in this area.

The residents said that the Municipality does not want to sit with them in order to listen to their points of view.

Qi’war called on all civil, legal and political groups to unite their efforts in order to achieve a ruling that completely voids the demolishing orders.

Israel intends to demolish nearly 180 homes in Al the Arab Jerusalem neighborhoods of Al Bustan, Al Abbasiyya, Ras Khamis, and Al Tour.

of course this is when the israeli terrorist colonists send in the colonists without uniforms to go in and attack palestinians:

Palestinian sources reported on Wednesday that a group of extremist Jewish settlers attacked dozens of Palestinian homes and stores in East Jerusalem.

The settlers were marching in the city and chanting slogans against the Arabs and the Palestinians, and calling for expelling them from the Holy City.

The Israeli police did not attempt to intervene and allowed the settlers to continue their march, which encouraged them to attack Palestinian property, local sources reported.

The settlers chanted “death to Arabs” and other racists slogans while marching in Arab markets and the alleys of the Old City.

The Palestinian News Agency, WAFA, reported that the different settlers groups marched in different parts of the Old City under heavy protection and presence of the Israeli military and police.

The police closed main roads in the Old City barring the Palestinians from using them in order to allow the settlers to march.

WAFA said that dozens of extremist Jews arrived in the Old City by special buses since early morning hours of Wednesday, and held prayers at the Western Wall before marching in the alleys of Jerusalem.

They were accompanied by settlers living in East Jerusalem, especially from outposts in Sheikh Jarrah area, and several outposts in East Jerusalem.

in contradistinction, there is very little about the rest of the west bank. consider these latest developments:

in aqraba near nablus:

The Israeli Army handed miltary orders to several residents of Aqraba village, southeast of the northern West Bank City of Nablus, informing them of a decision to demolish six homes and a mosque in the village.

Local sources in the village stated that the order comes to enable the expansion of Israeli settlements surrounding the village, the Palestinian Information Center reported.

The sources added that nearly 90 percent of the village’s land is used as grazing ground, but the Israeli authorities are attempting to annex the land for settlement construction and expansion.

There are four Israeli settlements surrounding the village, all built on land annexed from the villagers. Settlers have carried out repeated attacks against the village and its inhabitants, killing four villagers over the past few years.

Recently, one resident was killed and another was wounded in a roadside bomb placed by the settlers, the Palestinian Information Center said.

Last week, Israeli Authorities handed fifteen military orders to the residents of Aqraba, informing them that Israel intends to demolish 15 homes, barns, tin-houses for sheep, and water wells located in Khirbit al-Taweel area, which belongs to the village.

in qalqilia a farmer suffered a heart attack after witnessing israeli terrorists destroying his olive trees:

Palestinian medical sources in Qalqilia, in the northern part of the West Bank, reported that a farmer suffered a heart attack two days ago after the Israeli army uprooted his olive trees in the village of Ras Tira, near Qalqilia.

The army was uprooting the trees to allow the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the area.

The farmer tried to stop the soldiers and defend his land, and suffered a heart attack while arguing with the troops and the bulldozer driver, local sources reported.

Also, the Palestinian News Agency, WAFA, reported that five human rights activists from the United states, Sweden, and Denmark were taken prisoner by the army after joining a non-violent protest against the uprooting of trees in Ras Tira, Wadi Ar-Rasha, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) reported.

Residents from the area, joined by activists, were protesting the uprooting of olive trees as the army started implementing the change of the route of the Israeli Apartheid Wall in the area.

As the trees were being cut, villagers and activists demonstrated while the troops fired tear-gas at the them and the villagers, WAFA said.

The new Wall route will lead o more destruction and uprooting of the villagers’ farmlands and orchards.

It is worth mentioning that the Wall and the Alfe Menashe settlement completely surround the villages of Ras Al Tira, Wadi Ar Rasha, and Dhaba’.

or how about in 1948 palestine?:

Bulldozers of the Israeli municipality of Beer Sheba in 1948 occupied Palestine on Thursday demolished two Palestinian houses at the pretext of lack of construction permit.

Local sources in Beer Sheba said that hundreds of policemen escorted the bulldozers during the demolition process.

They pointed out that the same force uprooted 100 olive trees.

The step was taken on the same day that cattle owners plan a demonstration in the same city to protest additional taxes and unfair distribution of grazing lands, the locals underlined.

of course, the united states doesn’t want to look at the racism inherent in the zionist entity’s apartheid regime. that is why it has chosen to boycott the world conference on racism in geneva (known as durban 2). (you see, obama does not care about discussing and ending racism any more than bush.) the main issue for boycotting the conference in 2001 was the discussion of zionism as a form of racism as well as the discussion of reparations for slavery. this time around the issue of slavery reparations seems to irk obama as does the discourse on the terrorist state of israel. but the draft document that the obama administration objects to does not talk about zionism as racism. instead, it focuses on israel as an apartheid regime. still, they refuse to attend. ramzy baroud explains:

The US conditioned its participation of the April conference in Geneva (Durban II) by removing any specific censure of Israel, and ensuring that Israel is not ‘singled out’ for criticism. Although US sensibilities constantly expect, but demand the singling out of any country, leader or group it deems rouge, war criminal, or terrorist, Israel is treated based on different standards. “A bad document became worse, and the US decided not to participate in the conference”, Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported in reference to the draft documents being finalized before the conference.

The original “bad” document apparently dubs Israel “an occupying state that carries out racist policies”, a description which is consistent with international law, UN resolutions and the views of leading world human rights defenders – Archbishop Desmond Tutu, John Dugard, the former UN Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk,the current UN’s envoy, among many others.

The ‘bad document’ might have ‘became worse’ with new references to the Gaza bloodbath, which killed and wounded nearly 7,000 Palestinians in 22-days.

From an American – and unfortunately, Canadian and Italian, so far – viewpoint, such inhumane practices don’t warrant a pause or mere words of condemnation. The same, of course, doesn’t apply to Sudan, Zimbabwe, Iran, Cuba and other ‘unfriendly’ nations. The US decision must be particularity disheartening to African nations who saw in the advent of Barack Obama some vindication. The US first black president, however, saw it fit to boycott a conference that intended to discuss the issue of slavery and repatriation, to once again prove that race alone is hardly sufficient in explaining US internal and external policies.

in response to this some people have organized a campaign to try to get obama to reconsider. while their letter is not perfect, i do think attending the conference sends the right message to the zionist entity that they cannot bully the world by threats of anti-semitism. their racist regime must not only be critiqued, but ended. here is the letter and if you click the link you can sign their petition:

January 20, 2009

Dear President Barack Obama,

As people of conscience in the United States struggling for a socially, economically and ecologically healthier world free of racism, colonialism, and militarism, we write to respectfully urge you to attend the upcoming Durban Review Conference on Racism from 20-24 April 2009.

Your election marks a historic moment in a nation founded upon the slavery and genocide of people of color. We, along with millions everywhere, are full of hope that this legacy will finally be redressed. First Nation, people of African descent, working class people, immigrants to this country, and people from colonized countries throughout the world all have suffered for far too long. We hope that your inauguration will usher a new dawn on which the US government will respond to calls to tackle historic and current injustices that stand in the way of change.

You were brought to power by an unprecedented chorus of grassroots voices, a unique gathering of activism and resources. We honor your experiences as a grassroots organizer working for change in the lives of working class people of color. Like many others who voted for you (or wanted to but couldn’t because we are not US citizens), we were inspired by your call for dialogue on foreign policy, and your opposition to the politics of torture and preemptive wars. We rejoiced in your victory – our victory – against racism and war.

Your participation in the Durban Review Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related intolerance (Geneva, Switzerland, April 2009) will reaffirm your commitment to these principles. We are aware that great pressure is being exerted on your administration to boycott the Durban Review Conference; that congress has passed a resolution in support of this boycott. Lobbyists on behalf of the State of Israel are wrong to claim that the first Durban Conference was anti-Semitic because it held Israel accountable for its racist laws and policies. Nothing could be farther from the truth: anti-Semitism today is fueled by U.S. policies that apply double standards in its relationship to Israel and allow Israel to violate international law with impunity. The failure to distinguish between criticizing Israeli government policies and anti-Semitism on the one hand, and perpetuating, the misleading image of Jews as united in support of Israel’s unconscionable violence against the Palestinian people, on the other, feeds into anti-Jewish hatred and incites anti-Semitism today.

Israel must obey international law like any other state. Israel has to end its occupation of Palestinian lands, its dismemberment of the country into Bantustans, its apartheid-like laws and policies against Arab people, and its theft of Palestinian land and resources. Only recently, the majority of the international community has raised its voice in protest as Israel waged a savage war against the Palestinian people in Gaza. The U.S. has for too long condoned Israel’s disregard for international law, settlement buildup, and bad faith negotiations. There has never been a more urgent time for the U.S. to join the international community to effect a serious change.

We stand in with the world’s majority who demand an end to the Israeli siege on Gaza and who had the courage to break ties with Israel—the leadership of Latin America, the Arab World, and Turkey; the UN General Assembly and its President, D’escoto Brockmann; Sir Gerald Kaufmann from the British House of Commons, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, and the millions of voices demanding that Israel comply with international law.

To ignore Durban is to align with those who justify Israel’s racism, human rights violations, occupation and apartheid-like policies; and to allow its siege of Gaza. A boycott of the Durban global dialogue towards a united and principled stand against racism could only send the wrong message that the U.S. is not committed t to overcoming its history of racism and the impact that history has had in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, as well as on communities of color within the United States. A United States boycott of the Durban Review will squarely put the U.S. in opposition to the global aspirations to transform current conditions of racism and xenophobia.

US boycott of the Durban Review will precipitate a speedy disillusionment in the US and around the world with the commitment of your administration to developing policy that is qualitatively different from those of the previous administration. Ignoring the message of Durban would also undermine and alienate the organizers of the conference who are looking to the principled engagement of your administration against those whose power is based on promoting and enforcing racist divisions within their populations. We hope that your administration can show that the United States is ready to participate in international dialogue aimed at ending its legacy of colonization, slavery, racism and xenophobia. We are conscious that, because of your history and experience, you are well aware of the nature and impact of US policies in the Global South.

From amplifying the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina, through the terrorizing of immigrant communities, and to the continued destruction of indigenous lands, peoples and cultures, harmful U.S. government policies also reflect the culpability of the United States in perpetuating racism and injustice throughout the world. The lavish funding for war and the generous military and political aid to regimes that disrespect human rights have been part and parcel of a governmental outlook that is oblivious to the needs of health care, education, employment and housing.

To fulfill the hope you have inspired and which brought you to office, we urge you and your Administration to:

* Participate in the Durban Review Conference in Geneva from 20-24 of April 2009.

* Consider deeply felt and urgent demands of the Durban Review for US acknowledgment and repudiation of past racist crimes and injustices, in particular against First Nations and African people, as well as of current racist and xenophobic policies enforced by the US within and beyond its borders.

* Engage in critical dialogue on the de-institutionalization of racism within the US, and the ways in which war economy can be diverted into peace economy.

* Shift the US policies toward recognizing the legitimate concerns of participants from communities devastated by war and occupation and listen with an open mind to their demands for justice, dignity and peace.

In your speech at a Howard University Convocation in 2007, you asked the audience to:

Be strong and have courage in the face of injustice. Be strong and have courage in the face of prejudice and hatred. Be strong and have courage in the face of joblessness and helplessness and hopelessness. Be strong and have courage, in the face of our doubts and fears, in the face of skepticism, in the face of cynicism, in the face of a mighty river.

We ask you to be strong in the face of these challenges and to trust the strength of your grassroots base. We ask you to stand up against those who would keep this country and the world shackled by to policies that harm us all. Stand with us as we join hands to support you as a President of a United States that can leave behind racism, colonial oppression and war and that rejoins the world community for justice, dignity and peace.

oh so many reasons for resistance…

ha’aretz journalist amira hass has a good piece in the london review of books this week that offers some context on the prison that is gaza, its origin, and its relationship to the situation in the west bank, which is worth quoting in its entirety:

Israel has finally breached the few limits it formerly set up for itself as an occupying state, and defied all the restrictions of international law that would require it to provide for the safety and welfare of the occupied population. It claims that disengagement ended the occupation and that Gaza is now an independent entity. Contrary to conventional wisdom, disengagement did not begin in 2005 with the evacuation of the settlers and the withdrawal of soldiers. It began in 1991, when, four years into the intifada, Israel instigated its closure policy (similar to the pass system under apartheid) and denied the Palestinians freedom of movement between the West Bank and Gaza, and within Israel. Unopposed by the international community, closure eventually turned into a policy of demographic separation, dividing Palestinians from Palestinians and Palestinians from Israelis.

The immediate consequence of the separation policy was to disconnect Gaza from the West Bank (and Palestinian East Jerusalem), from its population, its education centres and health services, from jobs in Israel and from family members and friends. No wonder Israel now defines Gazans who live in the West Bank as ‘illegal sojourners’ unless they have an Israeli permit to be there. The tight siege imposed in Gaza over the last two years has merely exacerbated the situation. The separation policy of the 1990s (along with the rapid expansion of Jewish colonies in the West Bank) was designed to destroy the foundation of a future Palestinian state.

Israel suppressed the second intifada with lethal means that it did not dare use in the first, not just because the Palestinians had now acquired guns, or because of the suicide bombings, but rather because since the creation of the Palestinian Authority, Israel has treated the ‘other side’ as sovereign and independent – when it wants to. As if the PA enclaves were not under occupation. Thanks to this very effective propaganda, most Israelis believe that the creation of the PA resembles the founding of an independent state – an ungrateful one at that, attacking little, peace-seeking Israel. They find it easy enough to ignore the fact that Israel continues to control – both directly and indirectly – all parameters of sovereignty and independence: land, borders, resources, water, population registry, economics, construction, education, health and medical services.

The unilateral disengagement from Gaza and the fact that Hamas spun it as a victory – the result of armed resistance – allowed Israel to claim that the occupation of Gaza had ended….

What the siege has done is reduce an entire society to the status of beggars, denying it nearly all productive activity, suffocating it in an open-air prison, disconnected from the rest of the world. The denial of the right to a livelihood, and the denial of freedom of movement: that is the essence of the siege, the foundation block of the separation policy. The closure policy is an assault on the human dignity of the Palestinians, and especially those in Gaza. Now, Israel has shown that the cage can also be a deathtrap.

one issue is, of course, the blockade that keeps palestinians dependent upon aid. but, of course, even the aid is not allowed to enter; mel frykberg explains that pasta somehow has become suspicious. (is there some sort of pasta grenade i don’t know about?):

Red-faced and unusually tongue-tied Israeli officials were forced to try and explain to U.S. Senator John Kerry during his visit to Israel last week why truckloads of pasta waiting to enter the besieged Gaza strip were not considered humanitarian aid while rice was.

Kerry, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, visited the coastal territory on a fact-finding mission.

The purpose of the visit was to assess the humanitarian situation on the ground and the level of destruction wrought by Israel’s three-week military assault on Gaza, codenamed Operation Cast Lead.

During his visit to Gaza it came to the senator’s attention that Israel had prevented a number of trucks loaded with pasta from entering the territory.

UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) officials explained to Kerry that Israel was only permitting limited amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza, and the definition of what the Israelis consider humanitarian was restricted.

“Pasta is not regarded as humanitarian aid and is not allowed in to Gaza while rice is,” an UNRWA official told Kerry.

Kerry then questioned Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak directly about the logic of the restriction on pasta. Following his intervention, the truckloads of pasta were eventually permitted to enter Gaza.

Over a hundred aid trucks are currently entering Gaza on a daily basis. This is more than the number of trucks that were permitted entry during the ceasefire with Hamas which lasted nearly five months until Israel launched a cross-border military raid into Gaza on Nov. 4.

However, according to the UN, the overall level of imports remain well below the 475 trucks allowed in daily before Israel’s blockade of Gaza in June 2007 when Hamas took control.

Aid organisations say the current number is insufficient to meet the market’s needs as well as the shortfall resulting from months of severe restrictions.

The Palestine Trade Centre (Paltrade) estimates that in order for any sort of economical revival to begin, exports should resume immediately and a minimum of 850 truckloads of market-triggered imports per day should be allowed entry.

most days it’s like this though–it doesn’t matter if it is rice or pasta, nothing is allowed inside:

<blockquote>Israel unexpectedly closed the Kerem Shalom terminal, the main crossing point for humanitarian aid and commercial goods in Gaza on Friday.

meanwhile, for those who think the israeli terrorist aggression against gaza is over, last night, like most nights, they continued their bombing:

Israeli warplanes bombed smuggling tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday night, the second such strike in several hours.

The strikes on the Brazil neighborhood of the city of Rafah caused no injuries, according to the director of Ambulance and Emergency Services in the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, Muawiya Hassanein.

if israeli terrorist colonists would do as the french colonists in algeria and leave palestinians to build their own state on their own land wherever they choose then we would see more projects like the couscous co-op started in ein al-sultan refugee camp near eriha. these women, who have had a lot of success with their project, so much so they are not dependent upon aid any longer, tried to work with their sisters in gaza, but of course the israeli-terrorist siege has made that impossible as gen sander writes in electronic intifada:

The women unanimously agree that since they’ve been working at the couscous co-op their lives have improved dramatically. For the first time “we’re no longer dependent on humanitarian aid,” said Abu Shrar. Not only are they now independently taking home their well-earned wages, but they are finally able to simultaneously provide opportunities once inconceivable to their children, and fix-up their run-down homes. Furthermore, their self-confidence has grown alongside their social status, which has been propped up by virtue of their fortitude, self-determination and goodwill.

A similar success once seemed promising in the Gaza Strip, where six women’s fair trade couscous cooperatives shared the same dreams and aspirations as those of the Jericho co-op. More than two years ago, however, all six co-ops were forced to shut down thanks to the crippling Israeli blockade that prevented them from importing production requirements and exporting their produce. The closures had a direct impact on more than 400 persons whose lives depended heavily on their continued existence. More recently, after Israel’s brutal three-week assault on Gaza, one of the co-ops in Sheikh Radwan was damaged beyond repair.

indeed, two activist, alberto arce and miguel llorens, in gaza have produced a new documentary called erased, wiped off the map, to show just how brutal this aggression and invasion has been not only on people and their livelihoods, but on the entire society. for those who speak spanish and/or arabic below is the film (the link above will take you to an english-language version).

the title of the film is interesting given the way it alludes to the oft-repeated zionist mythology that arabs want to “throw jews into the sea.” of course, the reality is that zionists have been doing this to palestinians for decades now, but no one seems to notice or care, even when they are quite blatant about it:

A small number of young men soon to be drafted into the IDF from Hesder yeshivot around the country gathered at the Jerusalem Theater on Monday evening to hear speakers from the national-religious camp espouse the virtues of fulfilling “the commandment of war.”

The event, the first of its kind, was organized to salute young religious men about to be inducted and attracted just over 100 youths.

IDF Chief Rabbi Brig.-Gen. Avichai Ronsky told the youths it was a privilege to be able to take part “in the commandment of war and the preparations for fulfilling it.”

“Embrace this commandment with all your hearts. It is a right previous generations could not realize,” Ronsky said.

The IDF chief rabbi said Jewish armies, from the battles between the Israelites and the tribe of Amalek to the present day, had always been manned by virtuous soldiers.

Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau delivered a speech expressing hope that Israel would embark on preemptive wars rather than wait for “the enemy to come here… and see the whites of our eyes.”

“King David taught the people of Judah how to use the bow and arrow… Jacob our patriarch blessed his son Judah and told him to fight Israel’s enemies, to attack them and not fight defensively… The descendants of the tribe of Judah will do the same,” Lau said.

“Do we have another home? Somewhere else to go? This is our only home. Therefore, we have no choice but to fight… a preemptive war… not to wait for the next Operation Defensive Shield,” Lau said, referring to the 2002 IDF operation in the West Bank launched after a string of suicide bombings in Israel.

“If we could throw down our sword, it would be the dream of our lives. We pray for this three times a day, that God will bless us with peace. But so long as this does not happen, we cannot lay down our sword,” Lau added.

Rabbi Haim Druckman, who heads Bnei Akiva, said that “fighting our enemies is a commandment. To serve in the IDF is a commandment. We must remember that we could not carry out this commandment for 2,000 years. How happy we must be that we live in this great and special time, a time in which we have returned to our land, seen the founding of our state, the ingathering of exiles.”

it is really frightening how normalized and mainstream israeli terrorist rhetoric has become. as with their military, terrorist aggression, they do whatever they want and no one bothers them. their fascism has become completely mainstream, supported, even popular as in this article by sharon weill and valentina azarov from electronic intifada:

Avigdor Lieberman’s party advocates the banning of Arab political parties that called for “a democratic state for all citizens,” and the repression of what it sees as the “treachery” of the Arab citizens. According to its website, Yisrael Beiteinu demands an “unapologetical patriotism” and “requires citizens to affirm their loyalty to the state and readiness to serve in the army or in the National Service in order to be eligible for any state benefits.”

The party declares in its platform its intention to make Israel a purely Jewish state, and at the same time, “[i]ncreasing the Jewish Presence in Yehuda, Shomron, [in other words, the West Bank] the Golan [the occupied Syrian Golan Heights] and East Jerusalem” as well as working towards the “separation of Gaza from the West Bank.”

According to the party’s website, “Ideally, ‘the wolf shall dwell with the lamb,’ but we are not living in ideal times. History has shown that there is a dangerous potential for conflict wherever members of two different religions dwell in the same territory. … Members of this [Arab] minority are likely to serve as terrorist agents on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. Many have already made explicit their lack of loyalty to the state. This situation could potentially lead to the collapse of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and perhaps as an entity all together. Therefore in our view, the only possible solution is the exchange of territory and populations, with the goal of the separation of the Jewish and Arab nations, respectively” (emphasis added).

Lieberman has made a number of utterances inciting racism against a Palestinians with Israeli nationality. A recent press conference organized by Lieberman’s party in Haifa barred Arab journalists from participating. As Haaretz reported on 6 February, during a recent visits to schools in northern Israel, Lieberman was welcomed with calls of “death to the Arabs” and with proposals to “revoke the Arabs’ nationality.” It was recently revealed by Haaretz that Lieberman was once a follower of the Kahane Kach movement, an extreme right wing movement that was outlawed in 1988.

Ideas that were once considered too racist to be legitimately expressed are now part of the mainstream political discourse. At the same time other opinions are silenced. This is a serious warning that the situation in Israel resembles more and more that of the apartheid-era South Africa.

and yet palestinians are never allowed to resist. their resistance is always crushed by words and israeli-american terrorism as dina jadallah-taschler explains in dissident voice:

The facts are simple enough. And yet that is not at all how current media narratives present the struggle. It is never referred to as one for liberation and freedom. Resistance to the oppressive occupation and to the expansionist and dispossessing Israeli state is never presented as a right, despite the self-evident moral and legal principle, that as the (occupying) aggressor, Israel cannot justify violence against resistance to its own initial aggression. And yet, in this last massacre, Gazans who are starving, imprisoned, mostly refugees from the original displacement that happened with Israel’s creation, and who have qualitatively modest (but technologically improving — distance/reach) weapons, are the ones being blamed for “starting” or inviting the attack on themselves. This is objectionable on several levels. Fundamentally, the framing of the story that equates Palestinian resistance with the fourth strongest army in the world is inherently deceptive. Additionally, it blames the victim for resisting annihilation.

But once again, because it is the strong who determine what is legal and what is not, the Palestinian struggle for national liberation and their resistance against their oppressors are illegal by definition and are presented as “terrorism.” The right of self-defense has been appropriated by the dominant, occupying, aggressing side and simultaneously denied to its victims. It is becoming increasingly apparent to the resisting Palestinians that this excessive use of legality is simply a means to preserve pre-existing power asymmetries that will perpetuate their oppression. It is ultimately aimed at their extinction as a people. It is the root cause of their resistance: for they refuse a peace built on injustice, no matter how much misinformation is produced disguise the facts.

The Oslo Peace Process must be evaluated from this perspective. It was started more than 15 years ago but has led to no tangible benefits for the Palestinians. On the contrary, it has led to their increasing dispossession and subjugation. It co-opted the PLO leadership and made the Palestinian Authority into a police arm of and chief appeaser/concessor to Israel, the occupier. The Process has served as legal cover for continued oppression. It is no different from the NATO announcement to “protect” Israel, or the Rice-Livni Accords, or the United Nations Resolutions that are never enforced.

All these entities and agreements give a cover of multilateralism and legality to what is essentially aggressive expansionism and intentional dispossession. Similarly, Israel’s “withdrawal” from Gaza in 2005, narratively presented in mainstream media with so much angst for the trauma of the occupier, does not remove the initial aggression of the original and consistently brutal occupation. Even when one allows for the prison that is Gaza to be considered “unoccupied,” the fact remains that Palestinians are one people and that the West Bank and East Jerusalem continue to be occupied. This is even acknowledged in the Oslo Accords, which defines them as “a single territorial unit.”

Moreover, Israeli expansionism continues, and even accelerates, in the shadow of the peace process and of the headline- grabbing events in Gaza. Just in the last week, Israel has announced the annexation of extensive areas of Palestinian-owned land, where the villagers have been non-violently protesting the apartheid wall. For three days the Israeli army invaded the village of Jayyous declaring it a “Closed Military Area” and arbitrarily arrested 65 Palestinians: “The Israeli wall confiscated about 600 dunums of lands and 8,600 dunums were isolated behind the wall, where the town’s area is 12,500 dunums,” leading to the loss of thousands of jobs lost as a result of the wall and the isolation of agricultural land.4 Similarly, on 1/26/2009, the Israeli High Court approved the complete destruction of the village of Tana, east of Nablus, in order to expand the settlement colony of Makhurah. In addition, an expansion to the Effrat settlement colony near Bethlehem was also announced, swallowing an additional 170 hectares of “state land.” All this is happening in the West Bank, ostensibly the co-operating segment under the dictatorial and oppressive control of the Palestinian Authority. And it is definitely not conducive to economic independence, let alone the mirage of prosperity that was promised to come with the pursuit of a negotiated and non-violent “settlement.”

The argument is frequently made that Hamas is a “terrorist organization” because it targets civilians. But that is a question that is both not for the militarily strong to ask and also ignores completely Israel’s far greater and more consistent targeting of civilians. In this last attack on Gaza, despite an earnest and far reaching hasbara/propaganda effort by Israel to change perceptions, the extent of the destruction was too blatant to repress. Any fair assessment of damage to civilians will plainly see the disproportionate suffering of the weaker party. It also must account for the slow strangulation and eradication of Palestinians even when there is no “war.” The means of destruction are so entrenched and persistent so as to become too banal for Western media to report on. The “targeted assassinations” that inevitably kill civilians, the ever-growing “settlements”/colonies, the land expropriations, the apartheid “separation” Wall, the roadblocks, the economic blockade and de-development, and so forth have effectively ended any hope of a two state solution. In fact, the Palestinians’ pursuit of the peaceful route of “settlement” through the peace process, recently “negotiated” at Annapolis, has resulted in a 20% increase in settlement expansion in the West Bank and a 36% settlement expansion in East Jerusalem, just in the last sixteen months.

yes, palestinians cannot resist. but israeli terrorists can continue with yizhak rabin’s formula of breaking the bones of palestinians at will:

A Palestinian man from the village Asreera Al Qibllya, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, was severly beaten by the members of Israeli border-guards at a checkpoint while he was taking his ill son to a local hospital.

Khalid Abu Khalaf, 38, said after receiving treatment at the Rafidia Hospital, that his son Shadi, 3 years 6 months old, is suffering from a neurological disease, and was transferred by the Palestinian Ministry of Health to Al Maqased Hospital In Jerusalem for treatment.

The father tried to obtain a permit from the Israeli side through the Palestinian District Coordination Office, but Israel rejected the application.

“My son’s situation requires hospitalization; therefore I tried to take him with me to Al Maqased Hospital in East Jerusalem, I tried to avoid the military checkpoint but the soldiers spotted me, and stopped me,” the father said. He added “I tried to explain to them that was taking my son to hospital. I showed them the medical reports, but they did not listen; instead they started kicking me and hitting me with batons.”

The father said that the soldiers, beat him in front of his son and broke his arm, causing his son to cry of fear, which worsened his condition.

“Later, they forced me and my son into their jeep, the father stated, the dropped us on the other side of the checkpoint, and we had to return to Nablus, I went to the hospital and found out that my hand was broken,” the father added.

Khalid was very concerned about the situation of his son, which is getting worse, and said that his son needs to be examined twice every month for follow-up as directed by his physicians.

in spite of everything, some sunshine

sunset in nablus
sunset in nablus

i am so hoping that spring is here early. the sun has been out every day and it has been a warm sun again. it feels amazing. i know we have a regional drought here, but we can have rain and sun at the same time. i spent the afternoon today at the yaffa cultural center in balata refugee camp. they asked me the other day to teach an english language tawjihi class so today was our first meeting. there are about 15 students in the class. about half boys and half girls. the girls seem to have a better command of the language than the boys, however. i noticed in the group that two girls, who were obviously sisters given their faces, looked familiar. the older of the two was helping to translate for the students who needed help. at the end of the class i asked them what their family name is and then i realized why they looked familiar. they are the daughters of hussam khader. i remember their faces from the day i went to welcome the political prisoners who were released from israeli colonialist prisons last august. i have met hussam a few times because we have mutual friends, but i haven’t seen his daughters since that day. after the class hussam and some other fathers were waiting in the office drinking tea and smoking cigarettes and i went in to join them.

hussam’s life is a typical story for many palestinians dedicated to liberating their land, especially refugees dedicated to that goal. he has been in and out of israeli colonial prisons for much of his adult life:

Hussam Khader, who was born on Dec. 8th 1961 in the Palestinian village Kofr Romman, graduated from the Najah University in Nablus in Business Management and Political Sciences. He became a member of the Fatah party, to which Yassir Arafat belongs, too, in 1978. Before the 1st Intifada he was already arrested 23 times by the Israeli occupation forces, detained for 10 years, as well as placed under house arrest for one year.

At the beginning of the 1st Intifada, he became one of the founders of several of the youth organisations (including in Balata Refugee Camp, of which he is a resident) that were to play a crucial part in the popular uprising. He was also involved in the Student Council of Najah University. On Jan. 1st 1988 he became the first activist to be deported from Palestine. After being wounded in a demonstration he was brought to South Lebanon by the Israeli occupation forces.

there are details about his so-called “trial” on the samoud website. an najah university also has a report on his case as he is an alumus. on the day of his most recent arrest in 2003 here is what happened:

Hussam Khader, an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), has been accused by Israeli authorities of “directing and financing terror in the Nablus area”. Khader is the second member of the PLC to be arrested, after Marwan Barghouti last April, and he has been held in the Peta Tikva detention camp since his arrest in Balata camp, near Nablus, on 17 March 2003.

Khader’s brother Ghassan said that the arrest took place at about 4am when Israeli soldiers broke down the door of his house and started shooting. “It was dark and bullets were flying everywhere, they even fired shots into the bathroom and the kitchen,” he said. “Everything was destroyed, it’s a miracle no one was killed.” Before reaching Hussam Khader’s house, the soldiers raided seven neighbouring homes. It later became clear, however, that Khader was the only man they were after. “They were shooting just to provoke us,” his brother said.

When the soldiers identified Khader, they pushed him against a wall, saying repeatedly that he was a terrorist and they were arresting him. All of his personal papers, his computer and files were confiscated. He was taken away in a military jeep, leaving behind his wife and three young children. His family has not been allowed to see him since.

he is not typical of fatah, i should point out:

Khader is one of several men in a younger generation of Fatah leaders who command support on the streets and who are pushing for major reform within the movement. He still rails against Fatah corruption, though it remains to be seen whether in the months ahead he can bring any significant change to a situation in stalemate. Since his release, thousands of supporters have descended on his small home in the Balata camp, in Nablus, to talk about the future at a time of deep division between the two leading Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, and deadlock in the peace negotiations.

“The situation has got worse because of the separation and fighting between Fatah and Hamas,” Khader said. “We don’t have a state yet, but we have two heads in this state and this will push us back to square one in our struggle. It’s a very, very dangerous point that we have reached.”

Khader was arrested at his home in March 2003 and convicted of being a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of the Fatah movement that played a key role in the second intifada, and of helping fund the group through connections to Hizbullah and Iran. He was sentenced to seven years in jail but released after five and a half. It was his 24th time in an Israeli prison – he was first arrested at age 13 for taking part in a demonstration against the Israeli occupation.

but all of this is about hussam and who i really want to talk about is his daughter. i spent about an hour with her after the class. i was blown away by this young woman who, if she were a university student now, would far surpass all of the students i’ve taught at an najah thus far. like her father she grew up with the knowledge that education is a part of resistance. she is a stellar student, plays the violin, and wants to be a rapper. she attended a hip hop workshop in deheishe refugee camp last summer. she wrote some beautiful raps about her father, who was still in prison at the time. on the day of the final performance at the summer workshop she had to leave as they were allowed one of the rare prison visits–those visits that make families wake up at 4 am and if they are lucky get to see their loved ones for a couple of hours several hours later. so she brought her rap to the prison and performed it for her father and his friends instead, which is, i think, far more powerful and amazing. she asked me to help her translate the raps, which i am so delighted and eager to do. she’s completely proficient in english, but she wants help working out the rhythm of the raps to match the rhythm of the arabic.

amani also told me about her school life here. she’s a senior in high school and unlike the other students in my tawjihi english class, she doesn’t go to one of the unrwa schools. she goes to a private school in nablus. the stories she shared with me about her peers and their ideas of who refugees are were unreal. i mean, of course, i have been blogging for months now about the racism i witness here that is directed at refugees. but in her experience she also sees the ignorance that is at the core of this racism. for instance, she told me that there are many students in her school who think that refugees still live in tents. now this is just shocking because in the city of nablus itself, including balata, the camps are on main roads that everyone drives by. how you can think this is bizarre to me. she tells me that her peers think that she shouldn’t live in the camp because that is where the “bad people” live. this is how the racism here–even though it is intra-racial–functions just like in the u.s.: just because there may be a couple of “bad people” the entire camp population–or all the camps–get labeled as such. but there are no more “bad people” than in the city of nablus. and this is how americans often rationalize their racism against brown people who live in the inner cities; they say the same things to rationalize their racism by deciding that it is a place that is “unsafe” or that it is full of “criminals.” imagine that she has had to deal with this sort of discrimination while living through most of her girlhood with her father in prison. in prison for fighting for all palestinian rights–not just refugees. her father whom she calls her best friend. and it was so lovely to see them together, to see how loving they are, how close they are. it is visible. beautiful. this is the feeling of warmth that was far more powerful than the sunshine that emanated from the skies today. i feel so much more comfortable in the camps than i do elsewhere in palestine. i feel so grateful that i was asked to teach this class and that i will be spending more time there now.

my frustration about these divisions are numerous, but it often baffles me here because, as i have said before, unlike some other cities in palestine, it is not only the refugee camps that are invaded every night by israeli terrorists. here ordinary nabulsis are also regularly kidnapped as with today, including a student from my university:

Israeli forces arrested three Palestinians from Nablus and the neighboring villages of Salem and Beit Wazan on Saturday morning.

Thirty-two-year-old Imad Abu Eisha from Beit Wazan reported the detentions, saying Israeli forces stormed his village at 3:00am and ransacked several homes before arresting a 23-year-old girl identified as Rima Abu Eisha, a student at An-Najah National University in Nablus.

Local sources in the village of Salem east of Nablus told said Israeli forces arrested 24-year-old Ali Ishtayya from his home after they raided the village.

In Nablus, 22-year-old Abdullah Al-‘Ikir was seized on Asira Ash-Shamaliyya street after several Israeli military jeeps stormed the city.

and meanwhile in gaza israeli terrorists continue to attack palestinians with their american-made weapons:

Israeli forces launched an overnight airstrike on a carpentry workshop in the Jabalia refugee camp injuring six people Saturday morning.

Palestinian medical sources said the carpentry and several neighboring houses sustained severe damage and six people sustained mild to moderate wounds. They were all evacuated to hospital.

On Friday, a Palestinian was killed and two others injured as Israeli warplanes targeted a motorcycle in the southern Gaza Strip in the town of Abasan Al-Kabira, which east of Khan Younis.

and so the numbers keep rising, the numbers of the martyrs in gaza:

The death toll of the Gaza war reached 1,374 Friday as Egyptian medical sources announced the death of a Gazan woman injured during Israel’s 22-day offensive on the Gaza Strip.

Director of ambulance and emergency service in the Palestinian health ministry Muawiya Hassanain identified the victim as 24-year-old Nay Fayiz Hasan. She had been transferred to the Egyptian hospital mid-way through the war.

and those who remain in gaza are struggling to deal with its aftermath as mike kirsch reports on al jazeera:

but it is not just gaza where this ethnic cleansing project goes on. sometimes they do it with murder, sometimes with theft, sometimes with both. today they engaged in more theft of land in beit lahem:

About 300 Israeli settlers escorted by IOF troops and border guards invaded Friday several areas in the Artas village, south of Bethlehem, and set up several tents on these areas which are threatened with annexation.

This Israeli escalation came after Israeli bulldozers established 800-meter road linking the area of Khalat Al-Nahl in the village with the Efrat settlement built on the territory of several villages in the area including Artas and Khadr.

notice that israeli colonist terrorists and israeli terrorist forces work in cahoots here. they are one in the same. they all have blood on their hands. they all participate, daily, together in their murder-theft colonial project. for instance, palestinian fisherman continue to be fired upon in the waters of gaza:

Dr. Mohammed Al-Agha, the Palestinian agriculture minister in Gaza, has denounced the Israeli occupation forces’ continued shooting at Palestinian fisherman and their boats off the Gaza coasts.

Agha in a statement on Saturday said that the IOF gunboats on Saturday morning opened intensive fire at fishermen damaging ten fishing boats and scores of fishnets, which were left behind by the fishermen after they were forced to jump into sea.

gaza panorama
gaza panorama

i quoted a few weeks back someone from amnesty international saying that you cannot capture the devastation in gaza with a single camera lens because the destruction is so widespread. but someone managed to find a way to do this. the above photograph is from gaza panorama, but you must go to the website to see what photographer andreas lunde has done. it is a constant panorama of johr al deek in gaza in which you can use your mouse to move the image around. it is remarkable.

but what is most remarkable is the constant resiliency and ingenuity of palestinians in gaza. for instance, the community bakery created to meet people’s need for bread with few resources:

In a region where cooking gas is either non-existent or exorbitantly-priced, where firewood is scarce and burnables becoming scarcer, where electricity cuts occur regularly, and where bread is a staple food, people strive to find practical solutions to the bread crisis.

During Israel’s 3 weeks of brutal attacks on Gaza’s civilians, the bread crisis was heightened by 16 hour blackouts in the cities, complete blackouts in the majority of the Strip, and depleted wheat stocks. Those with flour handouts convoyed to the few places with electricity, including hospitals, to bake bread via a small, electric griddle.

likewise the tunnels or an amazing sign of resiliency and act of resistance given the never-ending blockade and siege on gaza as mohammed omer reports:

Tunnel owners earn $300 for each 100 pounds of goods smuggled in. (Smuggling animals for Gaza’s zoo can net up to $3,000 each!) With this revenue Abu Khaled supports 20 workers: diggers who do the dirty work, and runners who transport the goods.

As he separates bags of smuggled goods for distribution throughout the Strip, Abu Khaled points to his jeans. “These jeans I am wearing cost Egyptian pounds ($11), including the [Egyptian] merchant’s profit,” he explains, “but now I can sell them for 120 Israeli shekels ($34).”

Not only jeans, but shoes and underwear are brought through the tunnels and resold at high mark-ups. In addition, Abu Khaled notes, “We get medicine, gasoline, food, dried milk and monocycles” through the tunnels—which also serve as the conduit for sending money to merchants in Egypt to pay for the goods smuggled back into Gaza.

Islam frowns upon alcohol and drug use, although pharmaceuticals—even Viagra—continue to be smuggled in. According to Abu Khaled, Hamas police “control what we get in. Weapons and drugs are prohibited.” Rafah municipal officials confirm that they regulate tunnel operations, which they classify as an “investment project.”

In a society where the average family lives on $2 a day or less, tunnel work is a way out of poverty and a means to feed one’s family. Nader, a 20-year-old tunnel digger, admits he can make between $80 and $110 a day. “It depends on how many feet I dig in the ground,” the young man explains, adding that he usually spends 12 hours a day digging underground, in poorly ventilated conditions.

kathy kelly imagines what would happen if americans had to send its weapons of mass destruction to the zionist entity through a tunnel:

With the border crossing at Rafah now sealed again, people who want to obtain food, fuel, water, construction supplies and goods needed for everyday life will have to increasingly rely on the damaged tunnel industry to import these items from the Egyptian side of the border. Israel’s government says that Hamas could use the tunnels to import weapons, and weapons could kill innocent civilians, so the Israeli military has no choice but to bomb the neighborhood built up along the border, as they have been doing.

Suppose that the US weapon makers had to use a tunnel to deliver weapons to Israel. The US would have to build a mighty big tunnel to accommodate the weapons that Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Caterpillar have supplied to Israel. The size of such a tunnel would be an eighth wonder of the world, a Grand Canyon of a tunnel, an engineering feat of the ages.

Think of what would have to come through.

Imagine Boeing’s shipments to Israel traveling through an enormous underground tunnel, large enough to accommodate the wingspans of planes, sturdy enough to allow passage of trucks laden with missiles. According to the UK’s Indymedia Corporate Watch, 2009, Boeing has sent Israel 18 AH-64D Apache Longbow fighter helicopters, 63 Boeing F-15 Eagle fighter planes, 102 Boeing F-16 fighter planes, 42 Boeing AH-64 Apache fighter helicopters, F-16 Peace Marble II and III Aircraft, four Boeing 777s, and Arrow II interceptors, plus Israel Aircraft Industries-developed Arrow missiles, and Boeing AGM-114 D Longbow Hellfire missiles.

In September of last year, the US government approved the sale of 1,000 Boeing GBU-9 small diameter bombs to Israel, in a deal valued at up to $77 million.

Now that Israel has dropped so many of those bombs on Gaza, Boeing shareholders can count on more sales, more profits, if Israel buys new bombs from them. Perhaps there are more massacres in store. It would be important to maintain the tunnel carefully.

Raytheon, one of the largest US arms manufacturers, with annual revenues of around $20 billion, is one of Israel’s main suppliers of weapons. In September last year, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency approved the sale of Raytheon kits to upgrade Israel’s Patriot missile system at a cost of $164 million. Raytheon would also use the tunnel to bring in Bunker Buster bombs as well as Tomahawk and Patriot missiles.

Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest defense contractor by revenue, with reported sales in 2008 of $42.7 billion. Lockheed Martin’s products include the Hellfire precision-guided missile system, which has reportedly been used in the recent Gaza attacks. Israel also possesses 350 F-16 jets, some purchased from Lockheed Martin. Think of them coming through the largest tunnel in the world.

Maybe Caterpillar Inc. could help build such a tunnel. Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest manufacturer of construction (and destruction) equipment, with more than $30 billion in assets, holds Israel’s sole contract for the production of the D9 military bulldozer, specifically designed for use in invasions of built-up areas. The US government buys Caterpillar bulldozers and sends them to the Israeli army as part of its annual foreign military assistance package. Such sales are governed by the US Arms Export Control Act, which limits the use of US military aid to “internal security” and “legitimate self defense” and prohibits its use against civilians.

Israel topples family houses with these bulldozers to make room for settlements. All too often, they topple them on the families inside. American peace activist Rachel Corrie was crushed to death standing between one of these bulldozers and a Palestinian doctor’s house in 2003.

yes, caterpillar. that company that barack obama–that president of change for koolaid drinkers out there–visited last week:

Over the objections of church groups, peace organizations and human rights activists, President Barack Obama decided to return to Illinois to visit the headquarters of the Caterpillar company, which for many years has violated international law, U.S. law and its own code of conduct in selling its D9 and D10 bulldozers to Israel.

In his speech on Thursday, Obama praised Caterpillar, saying “Your machines plow the farms that feed our families; build the towers that shape our skylines; lay the roads that connect our communities; power the trucks that deliver our goods.” He failed to mention that Caterpillar machines have been used to level homes, uproot olive orchards, build the illegal separation wall and, in some cases, kill innocent civilians, including a 23-year old American peace activist.

that same president who is continuing george bush’s legacy of bombing pakistan:

At least 27 people have been killed in a missile attack by an unmanned US drone in a tribal district of Pakistan, Pakistani officials have told Al Jazeera.

The raid destroyed a house in the northwestern town of Ladha, a base for Baitullah Mehsud, a Pakistani Taliban leader accused of plotting the 2007 assassination of Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister of Pakistan, an official said.