get out of your chair and boycott

move over women’s history month…march has a new and improved form of educational and activist energy to it now. as march is now boycott divestment and sanctions (bds) month. read below to see how you can participate:

Join the US Campaign and our allies around the world in a month of action supporting boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) targeting Israel’s military occupation. March offers many opportunities for action, including Israeli Apartheid Week (March 1-8), Rachel Corrie Remembrance Day (March 16) and Global BDS Action Day (March 30). We also urgently need to support Hampshire College Students for Justice in Palestine’s recent victory winning campus divestment from Israeli Apartheid.

Two weeks ago, Hampshire College announced that it was divesting from a mutual fund which has holdings in six corporations that support Israel’s military occupation. Now Hampshire’s administration is caving to pressure from Alan Dershowitz and trying to reinvest in two of these corporations – Motorola and Terex. Write to Hampshire College’s President, Ralph Hexter, and tell him to stand strong for divestment. Click here to send him an email! Click here to organize locally for our national boycott of Motorola.

Israeli Apartheid Week: March 1-8

Educate your community about the apartheid conditions in Israel/Palestine and come together to take action for justice. Learn more about our anti-apartheid framework by clicking here. Find out what other US Campaign groups are doing to observe Israeli Apartheid Week by clicking here, or click here to post your own events.

Rachel Corrie Remembrance Day: March 16

Honor the life and legacy of Rachel Corrie, a young American peace activist who was killed by an Israeli soldier who ran her over with a Caterpillar bulldozer. Celebrate Rachel’s life by continuing her struggle for justice for the people of Gaza and an end to home demolitions. Click here to learn more about Rachel Corrie Day. Find out what other US Campaign groups are doing to remember Rachel Corrie by clicking here, or click here to post your own event.

Global BDS Action Day: March 30

The World Social Forum has called for a Global BDS Action Day to coincide with Palestinian Land Day – the annual commemoration of the 1976 Israeli massacre of Palestinians struggling against land expropriation in the Galilee. Take action to isolate the corporations supporting the continued expropriation of Palestinian land and occupation of Palestinian people. Find out what other US Campaign groups are doing on Global BDS Action Day by clicking here, or click here to post your own event.

Action Ideas

1) Support Divestment at Hampshire College

Send an email to the Hampshire College president asking him to insist on truly socially responsible investment, including divesting from Motorola and Terex, two corporations which directly profit from human rights abuses and violations of international law.

2) Become a local Hang Up On Motorola Organizer

Help grow the BDS movement by joining over 200 groups and individuals around the country in boycotting Motorola until it stops supporting Israel’s military occupation. Click here to sign our pledge not to buy Motorola products until Moto respects Palestinian human rights. Learn more about the Hang Up On Motorola boycott by clicking here or click here to order your own organizing kit. You can also join our Motorola Facebook group by clicking here.

3) Start a Divestment Campaign

Show corporations that profiting from human rights abuses and apartheid are never acceptable. Learn more about divesting from Caterpillar and other corporations supporting Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies. Click here for general divestment information.

4) Support Coordinated Shareholder Meeting Action

March Is Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

Make a tax-deductible donation to support our activities around the Motorola and Caterpillar shareholder meetings. We have an inside-outside strategy for both shareholder meetings that will include advertising, media outreach, and introducing shareholder resolutions focusing on human rights. Make these plans reality – click here to support the US Campaign’s BDS campaigns.

of course an important component of boycotting is buycotting, which is why i have a section of links in the sidebar of ways to get around products from or supporting the zionist entity. and it seems that in the united kingdom buycotting palestinian olive oil is taking off:

In an unintended consequence of Israel’s offensive in Gaza last month, sales of Palestinian olive oil in Britain are soaring, importers have said.

The devastating conflict, in which 1,300 Palestinians were killed, has prompted a surge in demand for the product in apparent sympathy for the Palestinians. Equal Exchange, a seller of Fairtrade products, reported a threefold increase in sales of olive oil from the West Bank in January compared with a year ago.

“We have run out of one-litre bottles and we expect sales to double to 400 tonnes this year compared to 2008,” said Barry Murdoch, the sales director of Equal Exchange.

The company Zaytoun, also established to sell Palestinian olive oil in the UK, reported a fourfold rise in sales last month instead of the usual post-Christmas lull. Zaytoun, established by two Britons, Heather Masoud and Cathi Pawson, takes its name from the Arabic word for olive.

and the sports boycott is still trying to rear its head, but unfortunately, there are still too many inconsistencies. nevertheless, at least there are some repercussions from protesting and pressure:

The Davis Cup match between Sweden and Israel will go ahead as planned — without spectators in the southern city of Malmo — after an attempt to move the venue to Stockholm fell through.

Swedish organizers on Tuesday cited security concerns for the closed-door policy because anti-Israeli demonstrations are expected during the best-of-five series on March 6-8. But the volley of words between the two Swedish cities, which comes after the United Arab Emirates stopped an Israeli player from a tennis tournament in Dubai, has an unmistakable political dimension.

however, it seems that dubai has lost its nerve with respect to a consistent policy in line with boycott:

Only vigilant spectators would have spotted the armed guards, the absence of any Arabs among the line judges and the fact that the umpire was barred from mentioning the nationality of the surprisingly unflustered player in the dark Fila tennis shirt, Andy Ram.

It was 28-year-old Ram’s nationality that made this match far from ordinary. His appearance in Dubai, the first ever by an Israeli, would have been unthinkable just a week ago when his compatriot Shahar Peer was barred from entering the United Arab Emirates in a decision that provoked an international storm of outrage.

The tight security was part of an apparent attempt by the organisers to justify their earlier, much-criticised decision – for which they were fined a record $300,000 by the Women’s Tennis Association. The UAE authorities had claimed Peer was denied a visa for fear of antagonising fans following the recent attacks in Gaza.

the palestinian futball association, in keeping with palestinian civil society, is asking for the sports boycott to take hold:

In a statement today Jibril Rajoub, the head of Palestinian Football Association, has stated that the international community should boycott Israeli athletes, as long as Israel does not allow the Palestinian sports movement to function normally. He noted that Israeli authorities have hindered travels of Palestinian athletes to take part in functions.

“There is a need for the international community to review its policies towards Israel. No Israeli sportsperson should be hosted if Israel does not agree to free Palestinian sport from suppression and injustice,” said Rajoub.

on the academic front we have a new american college seeking to divest from the zionist entity, haverford college. here is their statement, created by haverford alumni:

We, the undersigned alumni and associates of Haverford College, deplore the ongoing atrocities and injustices committed by the State of Israel against Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel. Acknowledging that Haverford’s divestment from South Africa had a positive impact on ending apartheid, we demand that Haverford College divest fully from any entity that contributes to or supports the apartheid in Israel/Palestine. Divestment targets include:

* U.S. companies doing business in Israel;
* companies that manufacture or sell military equipment used by Israel;
* Israeli companies;
* any other holdings that financially support or sustain Israeli state sponsored apartheid.

In solidarity with those living under an unjust occupation, we pledge to continue this campaign until Haverford acts in accord with its Quaker tradition and invests in peace.

meanwhile in canada students continue to face stiff penalties for their anti-israel apartheid week activities (read below to see what you can do to help):

Students Against Israeli Apartheid at York University (SAIA York) received notice of a 30-day suspension, a $1000 fine and an individual fine of $250 for the student signatory for the group. In explaining these measures, York University administration cites a demonstration organized in solidarity with students in Gaza, stating that “your club actively participated in a rally in Vari Hall on February 12, using various sound amplification devices and other noise making instruments.”

The University alleges that ‘sound amplification’ disrupted classes but fails to note that SAIA York quickly moved the rally away from Vari Hall in order to deliver a letter to the University administration. It should also be noted that the maximum monetary penalty has been imposed by the administration without following the verification process outlined in the university’s “Student Code of Conduct”. In doing so, the administration has violated its own procedures. Furthermore, the university has repeatedly failed to respond numerous complaints filed by SAIA members and their community allies over racist and sexist commentary directed at them by members of pro-Israel advocacy organizations present on that day

These discriminatory and punitive measures come a week prior to the scheduled launch of Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) at York University on March 3-8 (www.apartheidweek.org). Pro-Israel organizations have applied immense, coordinated and nation-wide pressure to shut down IAW, including placing full-page advertisements in national newspapers calling on universities to prevent IAW from occurring. The repressive activities of the York administration must be clearly seen in this light.

It is shocking to see university administrations respond to these racist calls to stifle free speech and student organizing around Israeli Apartheid. At Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, university administrations have banned the IAW poster. At the University of Toronto, University President David Naylor has recently been exposed through a Freedom of Information Request to have personally been involved in shutting down a Palestine solidarity event on campus. [see the articles listed below for further detail on this repression].

The attempt by the pro Israel organizations to prevent IAW from occurring is full confirmation that the debate against Israeli Apartheid has been won. In the wake of Israel’s massacres in Gaza, student and public opinion is clearly on the side of justice. Israel is now understood as an apartheid state and the only response of pro-Israel organizations is to harass and repress student organizing. They will fail.

** Please email and phone the following individuals in protest against these repressive measures.

Robert J. Tiffin (Vice President Students)
rjtiffin [at] yorku.ca
+1 416 736 5955

Mamdouh Shoukri (University President)
mshoukri [at] yorku.ca
+1 416 736 5200

** Further Links:

1) Carleton Students Against Israeli Apartheid
http://carleton.saia.ca

2) Exposed: University of Toronto suppresses pro-Palestinian activism
By Lisa Schofield, February 18, 2009
http://www.rabble.ca/news/exposed-university-toronto-suppressed-pro-palestinian-activism

3) Academic Freedom Threatened in Ontario Universities
By Margaret Aziza Pappano
http://www.socialistproject.ca/bullet/bullet187.html

4) Israeli Apartheid Week Schedule
http://www.apartheidweek.org

Sample letter to send to York University administration (mshoukri [at] yorku.ca, rjtiffin [at] yorku.ca):

President Mamdouh Shoukri,
Vice President Robert Tiffin,

I was shocked and appalled to learn that the student group, Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) was penalized for holding a demonstration on campus in solidarity with the students in Gaza. One would expect that an academic institution like York University would condemn the destruction of Palestinian academic institutions by the Israeli army. Instead, York University is banning protest, and penalizing students for demonstrating against such crimes.

It is a shame that an institution which is built on the principle of freedom of expression, and that the senior administration which is entrusted with upholding freedom of speech, are restricting speech and penalizing students engaged in legitimate protest. This reflects badly on York University’s reputation.

It seems that York University is bowing under the pressure by external pro-Israel advocacy groups who are working hard to silence any voice that supports the Palestinian cause. It is sad to see that the administration is not providing protection to the students expressing their views and feelings against Israel’s crimes.

I strongly urge you to reconsider your problematic position and cancel the fines. I also strongly urge you to uphold the principles of freedom of expression and academic freedom, and to allow students to express themselves freely without the influence of external pro-Israel lobbying groups. This is your duty even if you do not agree with views expressed.

Sincerely yours,

[——-]

meanwhile on the other side of the atlantic, another university is occupied for divestment & boycott!:

Our demands are as follows:

1. That the University of Plymouth issue a statement condemning the recent and continuing atrocities perpetrated by Israel in the Gaza strip. The University should officially denounce the attacks on civilians, the systematic obstruction of humanitarian aid and the targeting of academic institutions, hospitals, places of worship and international peace keeping facilities.

2. That the University of Plymouth cease to invest directly or indirectly in companies complicit in human rights abuses in the Gaza strip and internationally.

3. That no Israeli goods or goods produced by companies that have directly funded the State of Israel be sold on campus.

4. That the University of Plymouth provide complete financial scholarships for six students from Gaza University which has been bombed by the Israeli military.

5. That any surplus educational resources available to the University of Plymouth are provided to Gaza University and that the shipping of these resources be fully paid for by the University of Plymouth.

6. That there be no legal, financial, or academic measures taken against anyone involved in or supporting the occupation. All those involved will be guaranteed free movement in and out of the occupied space, with open access to electricity and internet.

We await your response to organise a formal meeting between delegates of our occupation and with university management to negotiate these demands.

To keep up with things as they progress, check out our blog at: http://plymouthunioccupation.blogspot.com/

For more information, email plymouthunioccupation [at] gmail.com

stephen lendman has an article out that details at length why the terrorist state of israel should be boycotted. it begins as follows (click link to read the rest):

Enough is enough. After 61 years of Palestinian slaughter, displacement, occupation, oppression, and international dismissiveness and complicity, global action is essential. Israel must be held accountable. World leaders won’t do it, so grassroots movements must lead the way.

In 2004, Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote: “The end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure – in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s. Over the past six months, a similar movement has taken shape, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation.”

In July 2008, 21 South African activists, including ANC members, visited Israel and Occupied Palestine. Their conclusion was unanimous. Israel is far worse than apartheid as former Deputy Minister of Health and current MP Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge explained:

“What I see here is worse than what we experienced – the absolute control of people’s lives, the lack of freedom of movement, the army presence everywhere, the total separation and the extensive destruction we saw….racist ideology is also reinforced by religion, which was not the case in South Africa.”

Sunday Times editor, Mondli Makhanya, went further: “When you observe from afar you know that things are bad, but you do not know how bad. Nothing can prepare you for the evil we have seen here. It is worse, worse, worse than everything we endured. The level of apartheid, the racism and the brutality are worse than the worst period of apartheid.”

enough choices/reasons to get up off your asses and do something?

ketir bds news!

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

Dear Supporters,

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

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

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

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

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

Contact:

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

President’s Office: 413-559-5521

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.hsjp.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20090218-batsheva-protest-mn-clrpreview

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

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

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

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

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

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

We, the occupying students have secured the following…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mothers & others for gaza

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first a disclaimer: i am do not personally favor political actions that suggest that the lives of women and children are somehow more important that the lives of men. but when muna and ramla asked me to help them organize a vigil for “mothers across the world for gaza / أمهات حول العالم يعزّين أمهات غزة” i could not say no because it is difficult for me to say no to people i love. and i should add another disclaimer: neither muna or ramla buy into the idea that somehow women and children are more valuable human beings. they had a vigil like this one a couple of weeks ago in beirut honoring the child martyrs and it was successful so they wanted to do a new one and make it global. so i agreed to get one off the ground here in nablus with the help of saed, alia, and beesan–who make an amazing team i must say.

helsinki, finland
helsinki, finland

we had an interesting array of cities participating today: nablus, palestine; beirut, lebanon; amman, jordan; helsinki, finland; manchester, england; cape town south africa; edmonton, canada; san jose, california, u.s.; palo alto, california, u.s.; east lansing, michigan, u.s.; boise, idaho, u.s.; free derry, ireland; ballybofey, ireland; dubai, united arab emirates.

free derry, ireland
free derry, ireland

here in nablus we had most of the women’s committees from the various political parties represented and we had a large contingent from askar refugee camp. the kids from the camp were very cute. most of the kids i spoke with were from yaffa and beer seba’. it is interesting what having this large group of kids did to my expectation of the event. i had imagined it as something that would be somber. where we would quietly, respectfully read the names of the 300+ we had printed out (there are over 400 children murdered by israeli terrorists). but having over 100 children changes all that, in a good way. they had so much energy–each one racing to the microphone to read out the name of a martyred child in gaza. it was an important reminder of those children who we have lost–those palestinian children in gaza, many of whom are also refugees from 1948 palestine–children unknown to all of us here because of israel’s colonial terror project. it was important reminder of what playful energy of the murdered children would have still had if they had not been massacred by israeli terrorists.

amman, jordan
amman, jordan

one of my friends here asked if we could have a mother of a martyred child in gaza on the phone with us during the vigil so a friend sent me the names of a few women and we got a hold of one and spoke with her in the afternoon. when we called her during the vigil, however, rather than speaking about her loss she praised abu mazen. it was very disappointing not only because how anyone can support that collaborator is beyond me, but also because we tried very hard to keep this non-sectarian. we asked people to not give speeches, to not come with political party flags. in fact, i asked for no flags thinking this was to have the mood of an ‘aza. and there were no flags, but i think after the phone call one of the women from pflp was a bit agitated so she closed with a speech. but it was a good speech that basically said that we have to knock off this political factionalizing and in fighting. at the same time, the reason why i did not want to have speeches is that all of these protests about gaza in nablus wind up with the same effect: it always feels to me like the person is just going off with his/her point of view and the focus shifts from gaza to the person speaking. i feel like i haven’t heard one speech that keeps the focus where it should be. and that is unfortunate.

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beirut, lebanon
beirut, lebanon

in any case, the event was great and it seems that other folks who already held theirs had great events too. one thing i kept thinking about this week as we were planning the event was about the effect of political events, albeit this one was not a march or demonstration. but i had seen a video of naomi wolf (who normally grates on my nerves), but she has a good point and i think it is worth listening to.

i thought of this wolf piece, which i had seen earlier on elisa’s blog, because she talks about what happens when people get permission to have a protest and how this defeats the purpose of having a protest in the first place. i was reminded of this earlier in the week when beesan asked if we should get permission. i said no. i said no partially because i was reminded of wolf’s point and partially because i knew what happened last time people here tried to get permission for the tent solidarity sit in on martyr’s square in nablus. they were told no (until the ajaneb showed up and requested permission: apparently they don’t say no to white folks). when we arrived tonight the palestinian authority–or as joseph massad calls them, the palestinian collaborationist authority–was waiting for us. saed spoke to them and they let us proceed. but i think if it had been different–if there were not 100 children marching behind us towards martyr’s square–then perhaps we would not have been allowed to have our vigil. but it is one of the many ways in which political life here is made difficult with respect to voicing one’s point of view in the streets. the same is true in egypt, of course, for similar reasons in terms of the zionist-american control wielded there, too. kabobfest reported today about the detention of blogger philip rizk:

A group of activists were recently detained in Sariaqos, north of Cairo. They had been holding a march in the rural area to raise awareness about the situation in Gaza. For several hours, they walked around, talking to bystanders and asking them to join the protest. They did what they had to do. As they were heading back to Cairo, they were stopped and arrested. All of them were released… except for Philip Rizk.

Human rights lawyers arrived to help the activists but Rizk was snuck out of the prison’s backdoor of and taken away. According to a Reuters report, he was put in an unmarked car with no license plates; police also blocked his companions’ vehicle to prevent them from following.

A Facebook group set up by his friends and family explains further:

Phil’s parents went to the police headquarters to file a missing persons complaint. There they were told it might take 2 or 3 days to process the paperwork and get Philip out… he is being held by National Security at their headquarters in downtown Cairo. But of course there are no official charges.

Philip is of Egyptian-German descent and he has worked tirelessly for the Palestinians cause. Among other things, he has produced a number of documentaries on the subject. He also blogs at tabluagaza (surely the Egyptian authorities did not like his last post). No stranger to the effects of Israeli cruelty, he worked for over two years in Gaza and it has a very special place in his heart. In a recent interview he gave, you can hear the sorrow in his voice as he expresses the pain of not knowing the fate of his friends in the Strip. Let’s hope he is released soon… and unharmed (the German side should help with that).

yes there is more pressure, continued pressure and silence around gaza. and the aggression and the attacks continue, albeit in various forms, like the israeli terrorist tactic of slow starvation. or the israeli terrorist tactic of forbidding necessary medicine. and books…we know books are ketir dangerous! we can’t have palestinians educated. then they would have more tools with which to resist colonial occupation:

Aid agencies are becoming increasingly frustrated with the difficulties of getting humanitarian supplies into the Gaza Strip.

“For us to move ahead with rehabilitation and repairs, we must get building materials into Gaza,” Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), told IRIN by telephone. “Two hundred and twenty-one schools for 200,000 children only have 40 percent of their books because we can’t get paper and glue into Gaza.”

meanwhile palestinians are suffer severe shortages of everything in gaza and the death toll continues to rise, though the martyrs are not being counted as they were before. israeli terrorists are content to let palestinian people suffer. but not palestinian animals. it seems that israeli terrorists have animal rights organizations that are working hard to ensure that the animals in gaza do not suffer:

An Israeli animal rights group is behind a relief effort to assist animals in the Gaza Zoo.

The zoo came under attack during the offensive of December and January. A number of animals died while others were visibly distressed from the violence that unfolded.

The Israeli group ‘Let the Animals Live’ persuaded Ehud Barak, Israel’s defense minister, to arrange entry for trucks carrying aid to the stricken zoo.

The Israeli agency said it was a joint-effort with a Palestinian animals welfare group, and other international organizations.

Thirty trucks loaded with oats and hay and medical supplies for the animals have been organized.

palestinian farmers, however, are fair game. they can be attacked–it seems, though, that their animals cannot.

these are some of the many reasons that south africans continue to say that the apartheid created by the zionist entity is worse than the apartheid in south africa:

President Kgalema Motlanthe says some of Israel’s actions are worse than what happened during apartheid. He says the creation of new settlements within the West Bank which exclude Palestinians is one such example. Motlanthe was speaking in Cape Town at the fourth conference of the Coalition for the Good and Charity.

The president, who visited Gaza in May last year, says the construction of walls that divide Palestinians has resulted in some Palestinians travelling three hours to get to their businesses as opposed to the two minutes they took before. Motlanthe says Israel continues to change the physical facts in Palestine by constructing new settlements. As a result of these he says the land surface which used to be the West Bank has been dramatically reduced.

and this is also why even those who may have opposed boycott in the past are continuing to come around to see boycott, divestment, and sanctions as one of the important modes of resistance to enact, including one of my favorite poets, adrienne rich:

Dear All,

Last week, with initial hesitation but finally strong conviction, I endorsed the Call for a U.S. Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel. I’d like to offer my reasons to friends, family and comrades. I have tried in fullest conscience to think this through.

My hesitation: I profoundly believe in the visible/invisible liberatory social power of creative and intellectual boundary-crossings. I’ve been educated by these all my life, and by centuries-long cross-conversations about human freedom, justice and power — also, the forces that try to silence them.

As an American Jew, over almost 30 years, I’ve joined with other concerned Jews in various kinds of coalition-building and anti-Occupation work. I’ve seen the kinds of organized efforts to stifle — in the US and elsewhere — critiques of Israel’s policies — the Occupation’s denial of Palestinian humanity, destruction of Palestinian lives and livelihoods, the “settlements,” the state’s physical and psychological walls against dialogue — and the efforts to condemn any critiques as anti-Semitism. Along with other activists and writers I’ve been named on right-wing “s*&^-lists” as “Israel-hating” or “Jew-hating.” I have also seen attacks within American academia and media on Arab American, Muslim, Jewish scholars and teachers whose work critically explores the foundations and practices of Israeli state and society.

Until now, as a believer in boundary-crossings, I would not have endorsed a cultural and academic boycott. But Israel’s continuing, annihilative assaults in Gaza and the one-sided rationalizations for them have driven me to re-examine my thoughts about cultural exchanges. Israel’s blockading of information, compassionate aid, international witness and free cultural and scholarly expression has become extreme and morally stone-blind. Israeli Arab parties have been banned from the elections, Israeli Jewish dissidents arrested, Israeli youth imprisoned for conscientious refusal of military service. Academic institutions are surely only relative sites of power. But they are, in their funding and governance, implicated with state economic and military power. And US media, institutions and official policy have gone along with all this.

To boycott a repressive military state should not mean backing away from individuals struggling against the policies of that state. So, in continued solidarity with the Palestinian people’s long resistance, and also with those Israeli activists, teachers, students, artists, writers, intellectuals, journalists, refuseniks, feminists and others who oppose the means and ends of the Occupation, I have signed my name to this call.

Adrienne Rich

for those who live in the europe here is a brief bit on the economic boycott and what one must look for when one goes shopping:

boycott new year’s eve for gaza

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you’ve got to hand it to the women. when the s*&^ hits the fan they are always the ones to react. the strong ones. in the midst of a political situation where palestinians are afraid to speak out against the israeli terrorist war against gaza, the women’s union got fed up today and organized and impromptu protest at martyr’s square in downtown nablus. it was a brief demonstration, partially due to the rain i suspect, but important nevertheless. after the first fifteen minutes or so men joined as well. the chants were all about unity: one nation. no division. the chants criticized hamas and fatah alike. i recorded some of the chants in two mp3 files which you can listen to if you’d like:

nablus chants 1

nablus chants 2

we are having a second protest tonight at 5 pm. here is the statement about tonight’s evening demonstration:

على عتبه العام الجديد ..وبينما العالم يطوي صفحه عام مضى نفتح صفحه صبغت اولى حروفها بلون الدم .. دم اخوتنا في غزه … سنه جديده شاهده على عمق المأساه وحجم الجريمه التي ترتكب بحق شعبنا
لذلك ولاجل الدم الذي يسيل في غزه لاجل الاطفال وشيوخ
لاجل المناضلين الذين يرضون كل شيء الا الذله
نضيء شموعنا ..
علها توصل من قلوبنا نورا يضي عتمه ليلهم .. صوتا يواسيهم ويشد من ازرهم ويقول لهم اننا معكم … كلنا في الكرب واحد
المنا واحد …كيف لا ودمنا فلسطيني واحد
التجمع في
دوار الشهداء _ مدينه نابلس

On the threshold of the new year .. and as the world turns the page of one year and opens a new page in the color of blood .. The blood of our brothers in Gaza … the new year saw the depth of the tragedy and the magnitude of the crimes committed against our people.

for the blood spilling in Gaza, for the children and the elderly

for the freedom fighter who buys everything except fifth and dignity.

we lights our candles …

may the light from our hearts alleviate some of the darkness that surround them… attribute to them to tell them we are with you … we are all one in distress

we are sharing the pain our blood is unify us.

Today five p.m. turn on the candles in the center of the city of Nablus martyrs circle

Brothers … Make your voice loud for them to hear you like all the brothers in all over the country and around the world

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in lebanon dear baha’a sent out an email about their protest this afternoon. he noted that there are many new year’s celebrations in jordan and syria have been canceled, but not in lebanon. he urged people to boycott those celebrations and i encourage others to do the same around the world:

Also, tonight happens to be the New Year’s night which everyone celebrates usually. Syria and Jordan have declared the cancellation of all celebrations to stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine and Gaza. As for Lebanon, I urge everyone to boycott any celebrations as the violence against Gaza is increasing. Instead, a group of people will be gathering at Esqwa, downtown, before midnight to light candles and show solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza.

honestly, i don’t know how people can celebrate tonight given the situation. i am happy that i don’t have to worry about that here in nablus. but really i don’t know how people can go out and celebrate tonight. last year i arrived in beirut on new year’s eve. it was solemn then, too, because tamara’s grandfather had just died while i was en route to lebanon. we had a quiet dinner together and then met up with some friends for a low key night out at barometre. all night long ali kept asking me what my new year’s wish was. my response was: the right of return. he knows that i was earnest in saying this, but he kept wanting me to offer a different answer, an answer about something i want for myself. but honestly there was nothing i wanted for me. unfortunately, this year, while my answer would be the same, i would have to answer that i want this f(*#$^%& bloodbath to stop. the bombing just started again an hour ago from the american-made f16s, though gazans have been shelled all day from israeli terrorists along the seashore.

there are now 391 palestinian martyrs and almost 1,800 injured. it took this many dead palestinians before the arab league met today. not that anything will come out of it. some rhetoric maybe, but what will they do? they all want to continue normalization with the zionist entity. with the americans. in spite of how many millions of their arab brothers and sisters blood has been shed as a result of both of them. the only statement i have seen thus far that makes some bit of sense came from pflp today:

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine called on December 30, 2008 for the immediate and permanent end to the so-called “negotiations” with the enemy, once and for all.

The PFLP further warned PA President Abu Mazen from providing cover for the enemy and its assaults against our people through the so-called “negotiations” with Israel, stating that these negotiations are a mockery and must end immediately.

The statement said that the PFLP has warned Abu Mazen and the PA government in Ramallah of the damaging and dangerous of these “negotiations” upon our people and our cause and stated that they only provide illusions and false promises to our people.

Our people are not fooled by these so-called “negotiations” or the so-called “peace process,” because they daily confront the crimes and aggressions of the enemy on the ground, from the latest massacres in Gaza, to the continuing imprisonment of over 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners, to the ongoing building of the settlements that steal our land, to the building of the racist annexation wall, to the Zionization of Jerusalem, to the countless other crimes committed over sixty years of occupation that have not once ceased due to such so-called “negotiations.”

The PFLP said that the road that must be taken instead and immediately is that which leads to the defeat of the enemy – steadfastness, resistance, national unity, and confrontation. Our responsibility is to protect our people under occupation and not to provide cover for the occupation as it commits its crimes.

mona el farra on her blog this morning recounted new war crimes by the israeli terrorists:

Dear Friends,

Today in the early morning hours, and while the health emergency teams on duty (Jabalia ), trying to evacuate the injured and dead, they were targeted by the israeli army, one of the health rescue members was killed another injured. (i will provide you with more details when i have the names and time of the incident).

i warned of in previous entry in my blog, and several times in my writing, while reporting from Gaza, since the year 2000. i warned of targeting health teams while on duty and in clear uniform.

can we just investigate who violate human rights? talking of terrorism! what do u think of state terrorism!

In Gaza We have many evidence, on daily human rights violations, we do not need the world to say we did not know, when it is late and the genocide is well prominent fact.

now tell me: is this really something you can delete from your mind and go celebrate tonight. and please, if you are my friend do not send me emails wishing me a happy new year. save your fingers from the typing. instead, write a letter to your newspaper, the the united nations, to anyone who will listen and ask them to make the israeli terrorists stop. NOW.

ps: i just learned that dubai canceled its new year’s celebrations tonight, which is great. now can we just get them to stop their f(*@!)* normalizing with israeli businessmen?:

All public events marking New Year’s Eve in Dubai have been cancelled, officials confirmed this afternoon.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE, ordered the cancellation of all New Year celebrations in the emirate to show support for the people of Gaza.

the wall comes down…and the bombs continue to fall on gaza

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i have been watching al jazeera’s hoda ab del hamid report from an area near “sderot,” that zionist settlement on the village of najd near gaza. behind her are a series of tanks preparing for a ground invasion. this is horrifying in and of itself. but what is even more horrific is the fact that the israeli terrorist forces (itf) were singing and dancing behind her while the journalist was giving her report. meanwhile the gaza strip has continued to be besieged all day long. and there does not seem to be any end in sight:

and yet al jazeera continues to give voice to israeli terrorists propagating lies in the midst of the civilian carnage facilitated by american-made materiel:

if you want to understand, very simply, very powerfully what the israeli terrorists mean when they say “hamas terrorist” just check this simple, brief post from angry arab today, who, like the rest of us, is particularly enraged today. as well we should all be.

there was another airstrike by the itf just now. and in the past few hours they besieged the rafah border with aerial bombardment because of the tunnels located there. the essential tunnels bringing much needed basic supplies as well as resistance weapons:

Shells hit Gaza tunnels Sunday evening killing two, injuring 22 and prompting hundreds to race for the new gaps in Egypt’s border wall. Refugees were met with Egyptian security who used force to repel crowds.

The airstrikes damaged the border wall between Egypt and Gaza and at least 40 tunnels, which bring food and fuel into the coastal area. Much of the fuel caught fire during the attacks and large fires broke out along the border.

The chaos provided cover for hundreds of tunnel workers and Rafah residents to attempt an escape from the bombarded Strip.

Early reports say no Palestinians made it over the border wall.

The strikes mark the 36 hour point in the Israeli Operation Cast Lead, which has seen 295 killed and close to 900 injured.

but a few minutes ago i just got an email stating that the wall has come down yet again:

The wall between Gaza and Egypt has been torn down, according to International Human Rights Observers witnessing and documenting the Israeli attacks on Gaza.

British International Solidarity Movement activist, Jenny Linnel, was in Yibnah Camp in Rafah, and confirmed that the Palestinian resistance has torn down the wall that separates Gazan Rafah from Egyptian Rafah.

“They have blown up part of the wall. The Israeli’s bombed the border half an hour ago. Soon after there was a loud explosion and the wall came down. Hundreds have passed through the border,” says Linnel.

“We heard shooting and we have seen an ambulance. We have heard that someone is hurt. People are saying that the Egyptians have been shooting at people crossing the border.”

Human Rights Defenders from various countries are present in Gaza and are witnessing and documenting the current Israeli attacks. Due to Israel’s policy of denying access to the Occupied Gaza Strip for international media, human rights activists and aid agencies, they have arrived in the strip on the Free Gaza Movement’s boats. These voyages have repeatedly broken the Israeli blockade .

meanwhile protests continue here in palestine as does the zionist terrorists’ brutal response as in khalil:

Medical sources reported in Hebron that 20 Palestinian civilians where injured on Sunday during protests in the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

The protests where organized against the Israeli continued attacks on Gaza, which started on Saturday morning and so far have left 284 Palestinians killed and at least 900 others injured.

Doctors at the Hebron governmental hospitals told media that the injures where mostly caused by the army rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas.

and in beit lahem:

Two Palestinian civilians where injured, on Sunday when Israeli troops attacked a protest in the village of Al Ma’ssara located near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem.

The Protest where organized against the Israeli continued attacks on the Gaza Strip. So far 284 Palestinians where killed and at least 900 others injured during the Israeli military continued air attacks on Gaza that started on Saturday morning.

Local sources said that local villagers marched to the nearby military post carrying flags and banners demanding the halt of the Israeli attacks on Gaza, soldiers’ fire rubber bullets at the protester injuring tow civilians, Medical sources said that wounded two sustained light wounds.

and in nil’in and bil’in death, injury, and kidnapping:

Palestinian sources reported that a Palestinian youth was killed and at least four others injured during Israeli army attacks on Palestinian protests organized in several villages near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, to protest the Israeli continued attacks on Gaza….

Arafat Al Khawaja, 22, was reported dead after an Israeli army soldier shot him in the head with a live round. Eyewitnesses told IMEMC that Al Khawaja was taking part in a nonviolent protest in the village of Nil’in near Ramallah, when troops attacked the unarmed civilians leading to clashes with local youth. Medical sources said that another two young men from Nil’in where critically injured in the clashes. Witnesses say that local youth are still involved in clashes with the army in Nil’in.

Meanwhile, in the nearby village of Bil’in, local farmers organized a protest in solidarity with Gaza and were attacked by Israeli troops injuring three local youth. Medical sources said that the three sustained minor wounds. Eyewitnesses report that local youth are continue to clash with the army.

Israeli troops also attacked a protest organized by the villagers of Budrus, also located near Ramallah city today. Sources there reported that during the clashes two local youth were injured in the head by army fire and described their wounds as critical, while a local boy was kidnapped by the army.

but there is some good news today: syria has canceled its talks with the zionist regime. hopefully this position will be made permanent:

A Syrian government official said Sunday that Damascus has decided to suspend its indirect peace talks with Israel, in the wake of the mass offensive Israel launched in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, which left over 280 Palestinians dead and scores more wounded.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said “Israel’s aggression closes all the doors to any move toward a settlement in the region.”

and there is more good news from jordan of all places:

The al-Arabiya network of the United Arab Emirates reported Sunday that three Jordanian members of parliament burned an Israeli flag during a special parliament session protesting the IDF operation in the Gaza Strip.

According to the report, the MPs initially planned to step on the flag, but then decided to set fire to it as some of their colleagues applauded.

Another Jordanian lawmaker held a placard saying the Hashemite Kingdom should expel the Israeli ambassador. The MPs then held a moment of silence I honor of those killed during the Israeli offensive.

and in the streets of baghdad today there were also protests as well as this news from the iraqi (albeit puppet) parliament today:

The Iraqi Parliament on Sunday called on Arab and Muslim countries to “rally ranks” in the face of Israel over the attacks on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.

“Arab and Muslim nations have to rally ranks to stand against these criminal acts and immediately end operations to stop the Palestinian bloodshed,” according to a parliamentary statement as received by Aswat al-Iraq.

The statement called for “solving the (Palestinian) issue via peaceful and diplomatic means”.

“The brotherly Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip are coming under sinful aggressions by the Zionist occupation army, which left hundreds of Palestinian martyrs and wounded brothers on Saturday,” it added.

Palestinian cities in Gaza came under powerful air strikes on Saturday that left hundreds of civilian people killed or wounded in a measure Israeli authorities said came in response to missile attacks by the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) on Israeli settlements.

Parliament’s statement further called on the United Nations and Security Council to intervene to stop these violations.

and who is it who most recently fired rockets in response to this overwhelmingly disproportionate killing machine of the zionist-american terrorists? fatah (you know, the one that functions as the puppet for the both of them):

The armed wing of Fatah claimed responsibility for firing two homemade projectiles on Sderot and Ashkelon on Sunday, according to a statement.

“This shelling came in retaliation to the ongoing holocaust in Gaza, which claimed the life of hundreds,” the statement said.

and then the leftist pflp:

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)’s armed wing claimed responsibility for firing five homemade projectiles on the nearby Western Negev and southern Israeli town of Ashkelon on Sunday.

Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades said in a statement that the shelling, which was apparently carried out in partnership with the Al-Aqsa Brigades, was aimed at an Israeli military post in eastern Rafah.

The Brigades affirmed that the projectile was fired “within the continued response to Israeli crimes in Gaza.”

meanwhile in historic 1948 palestine other forms of resistance becoming even more steadfast:

In the presence of all national alliances, an urgent meeting for the Follow up Committee was held today declaring Sunday 28 December 2008 a general strike in protest of the Israeli massacres committed against Palestinians in Gaza. The meeting called for the organization of demonstrations and marches in every Arab town in al-Naqab [Negev], the Triangle, the Galilee areas and coastal towns as a symbol of the rage and severe grief of the Palestinian nation upon the loss of hundreds of its citizens in Gaza.

It was decided that the High Follow Up Committee remains on alert to hold further meetings to take steps in resistance and to stop the consistent aggression and break the siege on Gaza including the opening of all border crossings especially that of Rafah.

The following political message stemmed from the meeting:

* Considering the Israeli aggression against Palestinians in Gaza an assault against Palestinian People everywhere and our duty is to resist it and break the siege.

* Recognizing Israel and its political and security forces as a criminal state committing acts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity against our people in the Gaza Strip. This with the assurance that the current Israeli parliamentary election campaign is fueled by the Palestinian bloodshed.

* Saluting the determination and will of Palestinian people in the face of the aggressive Israeli scheme to break their steadfastness and human dignity.

* Condemning the international complicity with the official Israeli aggression, and considering its silence and complicity as partnership in the crime. the meeting also stressed the absolute rejection of holding the Palestinian people or the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) responsible for the situation and while exempting Israel from its total responsibility.

* Calling upon the international community to take its legal and moral responsibility, to sanction Israel and boycott it as a state that pursues terrorism, war crimes and crimes against humanity with premeditation.

* Condemning Arab Official complicity used by Israel to cover for its predefined aggression and condemning the general Arab weakness and calling them to shut down their embassies in Israel and boycott it. We call upon Egypt to open all crossings with Gaza and break its siege.

* Condemning the complying Arab and Official political voices which held the Palestinian leadership in Gaza responsible for the Israeli aggression and calling the head of the Palestinian National Authority to immediately stop the negotiations with Israel used to further fuel the Palestinian split in the West Bank and in Gaza.

* Assuring the call for national Palestinian unity and its total support of the Palestinian struggle and resistance in the face of Israeli aggression.

* Paying tribute to the heroic steadfastness of our people and supporters in the Arab world and elsewhere and the masses in the homeland that stood in the face of the bloody aggression and supported the steadfastness in Gaza.

* Calling on the masses of our people to exercise the highest degree of readiness to contribute, on individual and collective levels, in the national relief campaign, which includes the donation of medical supplies, food and blood donation in support of Gaza and in contribution to the breaking of the siege.

* Calling on the masses of our people and supporters in the world to share the worry and to have more readiness to escalate the struggle in order to defeat the Israeli aggression and provide protection for our heroic Palestinian nation.

The Higher Follow Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel is the highest representative body of the 1.5 million Palestinian citizens of Israel. It includes all Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset (parliament) as well as elected mayors and local officials.

don’t leave palestinians resisting in the cold. rise up as sayyed hassan nasrallah is urging the people of egypt and the arab world to do now. as palestinians in 1948 are asking you to do now. to ask their governments to take an honorable position and to resist those governments that are draconian. the world must heed this call. we must do this because as nasrallah speaks 9 more bombs just fell on gaza. now there are 292 dead palestinian martyrs. we must use this for a global intifada. use this moment to rise up and resist.

diamonds are not this girl’s best friend

africa-diamonds-mapI don’t like diamonds. Or gem stones of any sort. I am reminded of this every day whenever I glance at my hand and see a diamond ring. I wear this only because it was my mother’s wedding ring and seeing it on my hand reminds me of when these rings were on her hand. Although I don’t need a visible reminder of her by way this ring or a photograph, it comforts me to think of her and to see her hand in/on mine when I wear this ring even as I wish there were no diamonds on it. It’s not just what they represent politically. I also don’t like ostentatious displays of wealth more generally. It always reminds me of what that money spent on a fancy car, outfit, house could otherwise be spent on: who could it have fed? How many others could it have housed?

The issue of diamonds–as well as so many other natural resources–is deeply connected to ongoing war and neocolonialism in places like Africa. If you connect the dots you can visibly see the relationship between diamonds (the theft of African natural resources), wars and conflicts in Africa, neocolonial control in the form of globalization, colonialism in Palestine, and the desperate need for a real boycott movement to work together in solidarity across these issues. For instance, in the past couple of weeks the Friends of the Congo and Adalah New York have worked to raise awareness and protest two seemingly separate issues: the war in the Congo and diamond trafficker/Israeli illegal settlement builder Lev Leviev. But in reality they are deeply connected and should be if a larger human rights, progressive, anti-racist movement is to be built.

The issue with Lev Leviev is three fold: his trafficking in blood diamonds, his continual financing of illegal settlements in Palestine, and his opening of a store in Dubai in spite of the fact that it is illegal for an Israeli business to function in the United Arab Emirates:

Adalah-NY has learned that the jewelry of Israeli billionaire and settlement-builder Lev Leviev will be on sale at this week’s gala opening of the luxury hotel Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai. Despite Leviev’s on-going construction of Israeli settlements and claims by United Arab Emirates officials that Leviev would receive no license to sell his jewelry there, the New York-based human rights coalition Adalah-NY has confirmed that Leviev’s jewelry will be on sale at the Atlantis branch of the Levant Jewelry chain on the fabled Palm Jumeirah island.

Adalah-NY has also heard from a Dubai source that Leviev will attend the grand opening events in person, but the group has been unable to corroborate this report. A press release on the Atlantis web site claims that the opening gala, set for November 20-21st, “will culminate in a giant fireworks display,” and that guests will include “prominent CEO’s, business leaders, politicians, actors and musicians and members of the Dubai Royal family.”

Adalah-NY has obtained photos of Leviev jewelry prominently displayed in the windows of the Levant store at the Atlantis, with Leviev’s name and logo prominently printed on display cases. Leviev’s jewelry and logo are featured at the Levant store at the Al Qasr Hotel. Leviev notes Dubai as a store location on the front of his Madison Avenue boutique in New York, and in recent Leviev ads in the New York Times.

Prior to an advocacy campaign by Adalah-NY and Jews Against the Occupation-NYC, Leviev had announced plans to open in Dubai two Leviev stores and sell his products in a third store in partnership with his local partner, Arif Ben-Khadra, who is of Palestinian-Moroccan origin. Subsequently, in an April 30 article in Dubai’s Gulf News, Ali Ebrahim, Deputy Director General for Executive Affairs in Dubai, said Leviev would not be able to do business in Dubai. “We are aware of these reports and have not granted a trade licence to any business of this name. If such an application does come to us we will deal with it accordingly,” said Ebrahim. Further, Ebrahim told the paper that Israeli citizens were not allowed to do business in Dubai, and that “precautionary measures” made sure of that. Ebrahim further implied Leviev would not be able to do business through a localpartner. “There are no loopholes,” he said. “We check backgrounds of businesses that apply.”

Leviev built his enormous fortune trading diamonds with Apartheid-era South Africa. His company mines diamonds in partnership with the repressive Angolan government. New York Magazine reported in 2007 that in Angola, “A security company contracted by Leviev was accused… of participating in practices of ‘humiliation, whipping, torture, sexual abuse, and, in some cases, assassinations.’” Also, according to the diamond industry watchdog Partnership Africa Canada, Angola and Leviev have failed to fully comply with the Kimberley Process.

In the West Bank, Leviev’s companies build Israeli-only settlements such as Ma’aleh Adumim, Mattityahu East and Zufim on stolen Palestinian land. According to Stop the Wall, Leviev is currently expanding Zufim settlement by 45 housing units on land owned by the village of Jayyous (see photo). Jayyous continues to hold non-violent protests against the confiscation of their land. All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. UNICEF and Oxfam have both rejected support from Leviev due to his human rights violations, and the British government is under pressure to pull put of a deal to rent their new Tel Aviv Embassy from him.

Daniel Lang/Levitsky of Adalah-NY stated that “Dubai claimed that it has closed all the loopholes, but we have seen that to be glaringly false. Leviev jewelry will be prominently displayed and sold at a major hotel in Dubai. By allowing such a blatant contravention of its own laws, Dubai has made a mockery of its promise to boycott Leviev. The villagers of Jayyous and Bil’in, on whose stolen land Leviev’s settlements sit, will be saddened and outraged, as will be human rights advocates worldwide.”

The issue with the Congo is multiple though the campaign last month focused on the lack of media coverage and the war over Coltan, yet another natural Congolese resource that various western corporations exploit, which has in turn fomented this war:

The Congo is the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world today where nearly 6 million people have died since 1996, half of them children 5 yrs old or younger and hundreds of thousands of women have been raped all as a result of the scramble for Congo’s wealth. The United Nations said it is the deadliest conflict in the world since World War Two. However, hardly anything is said about it in the media. Can you imagine 45,000 people dying each month and hardly a peep from anyone in the age of the Internet? This is literally what has happened and continue to happen in the Congo. There is a media white-out about Congo and no worldwide resolution to end the conflict and carnage there.

There is a very exciting development among students throughout the globe. In October 2008, students from the US, Canada, England, Belgium, Germany, France, Brazil, Jamaica, Norway, Korea, Ghana, Mali, South Africa, Columbia, etc. etc will organize events (films, lectures, demonstrations, and more) on their respective campuses dealing with the Congo situation. We are calling it “Break the Silence” Congo Week where at least 100 countries and 1,000 university campuses will participate in a week of activities in solidarity with the students of the Congo.

The purpose of the Break the Silence Congo Week is to raise awareness about the devastating situation in the Congo and mobilize support on behalf of the people of the Congo.

The Cell OUT is an organized cell phone usage boycott from 12pm – 6pm on October 22nd to bring awareness of the Congo conflict over the natural resources. Coltan, used in many electronic devices has caused many Congolese people to be killed since 1996.

Why?

– Nearly 6 million people have died in the Congo since 1996 due to a scramble for Congo’s spectacular natural resources.

– Coltan is a key source of the conflict in the Congo. It is a mineral widely used in numerous electronic devices such as cell phones and game consoles (Microsoft X-Box and Sony Play Station) and is mined illegally in the Congo by rebel militia and foreign forces then sold to multinational corporations.

– The boycott is to bring awareness to the war in the Congo, which started in 1996 and continues to this day with 45,000 people dying each month till today. We would like to invite organizations on college campuses and in the community to support us in our endeavor to raise awareness about the atrocities taking place in the Congo.

The video below “Welcome to the Congo” by spoken word poet/hip hop artist Omekongo Dibinga shows that it is not just Coltan, however. It is diamonds, gold, and other natural resources that have led to this ongoing war and to the corporate media’s silence on the subject:

While all of these mineral resources and the continual raping of Africa by the West is a crime against humanity, I want to focus on diamonds here because I see the potential in a global solidarity/boycott campaign by linking the Zionist state and its complicity with the war, rape, and pillage that is ongoing in the Congo and bleeds into other parts of Africa as well. Here are some of those links between the Zionist state, it’s partner-in-crime the U.S., and their thirst for diamonds as it is connected to war in the Congo, Angola, and the region:

Artisanal diamond miners in Angola called artisanos or garimpeiros are forced into ‘illegal’ mining because Angola’s mining security companies push people off their own land. While agriculture and commerce in the region require the direct authorization of the Provincial Governor, not one artisano has been granted a license for diamond exploration or subsistence agriculture. The ‘legitimate’ government of Angola forces desperate people to resort to ‘illegal’ activities to survive but according to Rafael Marques, garimpeiros contribute more to the profits of some of the state diamond mining firms than big industrial operations.

Three private military companies (PMCs) have been targeting garimpeiros in Angola. The mercenary firms Alfa-5, Teleservices, and K&P Mineira defend Angola’s big name diamond firms like Sociedade de Desenvolvimento Mineiro (Sodiam), Sociedade Mineira de Cuango, and Sociedade Mineira Luminas. Human rights researcher Rafael Marques has recently documented more than 50 cases of PMCs arresting, beating and torturing garimpeiros. They stop garimpeiros from fishing in their rivers, growing their own food, or living traditional lives; they have forced sexual relations on family members, including same-sex rape and sodomy.

The PMCs operate behind Angola’s public diamond company, Endiama, and have exclusive rights to Angola’s diamonds. Endiama owns 99% of shares in Sodiam, which has a joint venture with Lazare Kaplan International (LKI) of the Israeli-American Maurice Tempelsman family.

Sodiam works with the Russo-Israeli Lev Leviev Group. Endiama owns part of Alfa-5, one of the PMCs that exploit and torture garimpeiros. Alfa-5 and K&P Mineira provide security for ASCORP—the Angola Selling Corporation—another Angolan monopoly.

One of ASCORP’s controlling investors, Lev Leviev, runs a global commercial empire that includes: Leviev Group of Companies; Lev Leviev Diamonds; Africa-Israel (commercial real estate in Prague and London); Gottex (swimwear) Company; 1,700 Fina gas stations in the Southwest U.S.; 173 7-Elevens in New Mexico and Texas; a 33% stake in Cross Israel Highway (Israel’s first toll road); and more. Leviev partner Arcady Gaydamak, an arms dealer, also reportedly works with Danny Yatom, a former MOSSAD (Israeli secret service) chief and security advisor to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Leviev is connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and to Sandline International, a U.K./South African mercenary firm operating in the war-torn areas of Eastern Congo and Uganda.

While participants in the Kimberley Process complained of the criminality of UNITA, the infamous rebels once supported by the CIA, but they gave the “legitimate” Dos Santos government a sparkling bill of health. Angola exemplifies the process whereby an international certification scheme enforced by the United Nations rubber stamps boxes of rough stones according to their ‘country of origin.’ Stamped ‘Angola’ the public is assured that these diamonds are now ‘conflict free,’ because these nations are members of the Kimberley certification.

The Kimberley Process was partially instituted through the work of Robert Rotberg at Harvard University. Maurice Tempelsman chairs the International Advisory Council at the Harvard AIDS Institute (HAI) of the School of Public Health. Rotberg and Tempelsman shared a panel at the Council on Foreign Relations with people like Walter Kansteiner, National Security under Bill Clinton and current director of a gold company involved in Congo’s bloody eastern zone.

Maurice Tempelsman was for decades the unofficial ambassador to Congo/Zaire; Dan Gertler has usurped that role. In 2000 Gertler was named Honorary Consul to the Congo. Beny Steinmetz may be the biggest De Beers “sightholder”. Africa Confidential called President Kabila’s 2003 visit to the Bush White House a “coup” for Gertler and Steinmetz. Gertler’s best friend is Brooklyn-born Chaim Leibowitz, a personal friend of Condoleeza Rice.

Tempelsman and Steinmetz bought diamonds from both sides during Angola’s thirty-year war. Israeli diamond tycoons Gertler and Leviev are reportedly jockeying for power with Isabel Dos Santos, the high-rolling diamond-studded daughter of the President of Angola.

The Israel Diamond Exchange in Tel Aviv, which today brings Israel $13 billion annually in commerce, and is the country’s second-largest industry. Israel buys some 50% of the world’s rough diamonds, and the U.S. buys two-thirds of these.


Diamonds are Israel’s top export.
In 2005 figures, exports to the EU totaled $10.7 billion in 2004, including $2.5 billion in diamonds (23.3%); exports to the US totaled $14.2 billion in 2004, including $7.3 billion in diamonds (51.4%); exports to Asia totaled $7.1 billion in 2004, including $3.2 billion in diamonds (45.0%); exports to the rest of the world totaled $6.6 billion in 2004, including $800 million in diamonds (12.1%).

Dan Gertler’s grandfather, Moshe Schnitzer, is known in Israel as “Mr. Diamond,” founder of the Israel Diamond Exchange in Tel Aviv. Moshe Schnitzer’s son and Dan Gertler’s uncle is Shmuel Schnitzer, Vice-Chairman of the Belgian-based World Diamond Council—the entity that promotes the false image of “clean” or “conflict-free” diamonds.

In June 2002, as the Kimberley Process was unfolding, Daniel Horowitz, CEO of IDH Diamonds, gave a speech at the 3rd World Diamond Conference titled “Rough Diamonds in a Brave New World.” IDH works with Endiama, BHP-Billiton and De Beers, another of the big diamond cartels.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it would be irresponsible to circumvent the fact that it is highly problematic, if not unfeasible, to work out a system in order to control the flow of rough diamonds around the world,” Horowitz said. “The reality is that once diamonds are mined there is almost nothing one can do in order to prevent them from reaching the market. No certification scheme can truly be reliable, not only because war-torn areas are by definition disorganized, but mainly because it is intrinsically impossible to distinguish between good and bad diamonds. Misguiding traders and consumers with untrustworthy guarantees would inevitably be demystified over time. As opposed to this, it is critical to publicize that the mainstream diamond trade is legitimate. It needs to be said again and again that conflict diamonds are an irrelevant portion of world production. And as far as humanitarian issues are concerned, the added value the industry generates worldwide particularly benefits the developing world.”

Angola remains a war-torn country selling billions of dollars worth of diamonds annually. In the past four years the government of Angola has waged a permanent war against poor people, destroying thousands of homes and taking the land in mass forced evictions. People were beaten, tortured and arbitrarily arrested. At least 1000 people die in eastern Congo every day.

Millions of blood diamonds from past and current wars remain locked in the vaults of the Belgian, Russian, New York, London and Israeli diamond bourses to insure the artificially high, monopoly-fixed, prices of diamonds.

Rafael Marques outlined cases torture, brutalization and assassinations—cases of personal brutality he investigated—that characterize diamond mining by state firms in Angola today.

“Should one, after this brief explanation,” Marques asked, “say that the extraction of diamonds in Angola is OK? What the Kimberley Process, which was designed to drive blood diamonds out of the market, is doing is to rinse the blood from the gems, extracted in [Angola] and certify them as clean.”

What is even more disturbing is that the Zionist state will be leading the Kimberley Process, a process which it clearly circumvents as the article above makes clear:

Israel was elected deputy chairman of the Kimberley Process for the coming year by the Sixth Plenary of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, currently being attended in New Delhi, India, by more than 70 member countries. This means that Israel will become chairman of the KP in 2010. This development comes in the wake of the recent election of two Israeli Diamond Industry leaders—Avi Paz and Moti Ganz—as presidents of the World Federation of Diamond Boursesand International Diamond Manufacturers Association, respectively.

Of course, the Zionist state is expert at avoiding, disrespecting, and violating international law. We see that here in Palestine every day. But what is useful is for people to understand that Israelis export this practice in their economic, political, and military dealings with other states as well. Consider UN Resolution 1803 from 1962, which says in part,

1. The right of peoples and nations to permanent sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources must be exercised in the interest of their national development and of the well-being of the people of the State concerned.

2. The exploration, development and disposition of such resources, as well as the import of the foreign capital required for these purposes, should be in conformity with the rules and conditions which the peoples and nations freely consider to be necessary or desirable with regard to the authorization, restriction or prohibition of such activities.

3. In cases where authorization is granted, the capital imported and the earnings on that capital shall be governed by the terms thereof, by the national legislation in force, and by international law. The profits derived must be shared in the proportions freely agreed upon, in each case, between the investors and the recipient State, due care being taken to ensure that there is no impairment, for any reason, of that State’s sovereignty over its natural wealth and resources.

Those who care about the war in the Congo and neighboring states, the ongoing ethnic cleansing in Palestine should see these connections and find a way to work in solidarity. To build a significant boycott movement against these forms of colonialism. There is something lacking in this sort of solidarity, which Bill Fletcher makes clear in this tidbit of an talk on the relationship between South African apartheid and Israeli apartheid. Activists interested in building a solid pro-Palestinian movement in the U.S. would do well to listen to Fletcher’s words and heed his advice:

Obama picks pro-Israel hardliner for top post

Obama picks pro-Israel hardliner for top post
Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 5 November 2008

Senator Barack Obama greets Representative Rahm Emanuel at the Illinois Delegation party at Ye Olde Union Oyster, in Boston, on the eve of the Democratic National Convention 2004. (Tom Williams)

During the United States election campaign, racists and pro-Israel hardliners tried to make an issue out of President-elect Barack Obama’s middle name, Hussein. Such people might take comfort in another middle name, that of Obama’s pick for White House Chief of Staff: Rahm Israel Emanuel.

Emanuel is Obama’s first high-level appointment and it’s one likely to disappointment those who hoped the president-elect would break with the George W. Bush Administration’s pro-Israel policies. White House Chief of Staff is often considered the most powerful office in the executive branch, next to the president. Obama has offered Emanuel the position according to Democratic party sources cited by media including Reuters and The New York Times. While Emanuel is expected to accept the post, that had not been confirmed by Wednesday evening the day after the election.

Rahm Emanuel was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1959, the son of Benjamin Emanuel, a pediatrician who helped smuggle weapons to the Irgun, the Zionist militia of former Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, in the 1940s. The Irgun carried out numerous terrorist attacks on Palestinian civilians including the bombing of Jerusalem’s King David Hotel in 1946.

Emanuel continued his father’s tradition of active support for Israel; during the 1991 Gulf War he volunteered to help maintain Israeli army vehicles near the Lebanon border when southern Lebanon was still occupied by Israeli forces.

As White House political director in the first Clinton administration, Emanuel orchestrated the famous 1993 signing ceremony of the “Declaration of Principles” between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Emanuel was elected to Congress representing a north Chicago district in 2002 and he is credited with a key role in delivering a Democratic majority in the 2006 mid-term elections. He has been a prominent supporter of neoliberal economic policies on free trade and welfare reform.

One of the most influential politicians and fundraisers in his party, Emanuel accompanied Obama to a meeting of AIPAC’s executive board just after the Illinois senator had addressed the pro-Israel lobby’s conference last June.

In Congress, Emanuel has been a consistent and vocal pro-Israel hardliner, sometimes more so than President Bush. In June 2003, for example, he signed a letter criticizing Bush for being insufficiently supportive of Israel. “We were deeply dismayed to hear your criticism of Israel for fighting acts of terror,” Emanuel, along with 33 other Democrats wrote to Bush. The letter said that Israel’s policy of assassinating Palestinian political leaders “was clearly justified as an application of Israel’s right to self-defense” (“Pelosi supports Israel’s attacks on Hamas group,” San Francisco Chronicle, 14 June 2003).

In July 2006, Emanuel was one of several members who called for the cancellation of a speech to Congress by visiting Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki because al-Maliki had criticized Israel’s bombing of Lebanon. Emanuel called the Lebanese and Palestinian governments “totalitarian entities with militias and terrorists acting as democracies” in a 19 July 2006 speech supporting a House resolution backing Israel’s bombing of both countries that caused thousands of civilian victims.

Emanuel has sometimes posed as a defender of Palestinian lives, though never from the constant Israeli violence that is responsible for the vast majority of deaths and injuries. On 14 June 2007 he wrote to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice “on behalf of students in the Gaza Strip whose future is threatened by the ongoing fighting there” which he blamed on “the violence and militancy of their elders.” In fact, the fighting between members of Hamas and Fatah, which claimed dozens of lives, was the result of a failed scheme by US-backed militias to violently overthrow the elected Hamas-led national unity government. Emanuel’s letter urged Rice “to work with allies in the region, such as Egypt and Jordan, to either find a secure location in Gaza for these students, or to transport them to a neighboring country where they can study and take their exams in peace.” Palestinians often view such proposals as a pretext to permanently “transfer” them from their country, as many Israeli leaders have threatened. Emanuel has never said anything in support of millions of Palestinian children whose education has been disrupted by Israeli occupation, closures and blockades.

Emanuel has also used his position to explicitly push Israel’s interests in normalizing relations with Arab states and isolating Hamas. In 2006 he initiated a letter to President Bush opposing United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Dubai Ports World’s attempt to buy the management business of six US seaports. The letter, signed by dozens of other lawmakers, stated that “The UAE has pledged to provide financial support to the Hamas-led government of the Palestinian Authority and openly participates in the Arab League boycott against Israel.” It argued that allowing the deal to go through “not only could place the safety and security of US ports at risk, but enhance the ability of the UAE to bolster the Hamas regime and its efforts to promote terrorism and violence against Israel” (“Dems Tie Israel, Ports,” Forward, 10 March 2006).

Ira Forman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, told Fox News that picking Emanuel is “just another indication that despite the attempts to imply that Obama would somehow appoint the wrong person or listen to the wrong people when it comes to the US-Israel relationship … that was never true.”

Over the course of the campaign, Obama publicly distanced himself from friends and advisers suspected or accused of having “pro-Palestinian” sympathies. There are no early indications of a more balanced course.

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli- Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, 2006).

money

While the world is fixated on the U.S. economy, I find myself having little sympathy for the U.S. government. I have little sympathy for representatives like Nancy Pelosi, who colludes with the Bush administration and is part of the problem. To pretend like she’s somehow not equally accountable for the problems is ridiculous. I’m finding it rather entertaining that these so-called leaders think that giving $700 billion dollars to American companies, whose CEOs are taking in record salaries and bonuses will “trickle down” to average Americans who are suffering. This notion that bailing out Wall Street will help Main Street is psychotic. Did Ronald Reagan’s “trickle down” economics work in the 1980s? No. And it won’t work now. And why is it that the CEOs of these companies are not being held responsible for the problems they created in the first place? The unseemly salaries and bonuses they receive, I think, are part of the problem. Take a look at some of these salaries:

Martin Sullivan, the former chief executive of AIG, which received an $85 billion bailout from the American taxpayer last week, earned $40 million between 2005 and 2006.He received a severance package of $47million and his resignation took effect from July 2008.This is despite the fact that AIG has lost over $20 billion on sub-prime writedowns after insuring over $57 billion-worth of financial instruments linked to sub-prime mortgages.

Charles Prince, the former chief executive of Citigroup, who resigned under pressure in November 2007, exited the firm with a $68million severance package. He had been paid $53 million in the previous four years. Remarkably, his 2007 bonus of $12.5 million in cash was based on a formula that adjusts the 2006 bonus to take account of the 2007 share price but was not directly based on the performance of the company in 2007. His predecessor, Sanford Weill, left the bank with $874million in shares and share options.

Stan O’Neal, who is credited with turning around the fortunes of Merrill Lynch when he took over in 2002, drove the company in the direction of equity dealing and sub-prime-related financial products.

He earned $36 million in 2005 and a further $47 million in 2006.When he was ousted in October 2007 after Merrill racked up multibillion-dollar losses on sub-prime products, he walked away with $161.5 million in stock and options. Last week, Merrill Lynch was bought by Bank of America in a distress sale.

Dick Fuld, the chief executive of Lehman Brothers, was nicknamed the ‘gorilla’. He is known for his love of bodybuilding and colourful language. He threatened to break the legs of any Lehman executive who was short-selling its stock. His hard-nosed style at the Wall Street firm was typical of the culture that prevailed at the company. He is reported to have earned a total of $500 million at Lehman.

Fuld is now being blamed for not selling Lehman several weeks ago when it is alleged that a Korean Bank made an offer. It has been speculated that Fuld turned down the offer because it wasn’t high enough and that he was in denial about what could happen at Lehman.

The collapse of the firm last week made it the biggest bankruptcy in corporate history – ten times larger than the collapse of Worldcom.

Fuld took bigger and bigger chances with Lehman in recent years, piling into high-risk mortgages. Lehman built up an $88 billion mortgage-backed portfolio. In 2006, he earned $40 million, a year in which total Lehman group bonuses to staff and executives topped $5.7 billion.

Like many other chief executives on Wall Street, Fuld’s basic salary was modest by corporate standards. His base salary was $750,000, less than the base salary of several Irish bank executives. Jimmy Cayne, the former head of Bear Stearns, was paid a base salary of just $250,000 in 2006, but total bonuses and stock earnings amounted to $33.6million.

Joseph Stiglitz makes it clear that trickle down economics just doesn’t work, too:

To be sure, the rescue plan that was just defeated was far better than what the Bush administration originally proposed. But its basic approach remained critically flawed. First, it relied – once again – on trickle-down economics: somehow, throwing enough money at Wall Street would trickle down to Main Street, helping ordinary workers and homeowners. Trickle-down economics almost never works, and it is no more likely to work this time.

Moreover, the plan assumed that the fundamental problem was one of confidence. That is no doubt part of the problem; but the underlying problem is that financial markets made some very bad loans. There was a housing bubble, and loans were made on the basis of inflated prices.

That bubble has burst. House prices probably will fall further, so there will be more foreclosures, and no amount of talking up the market is going to change that. The bad loans, in turn, have created massive holes in banks’ balance sheets, which have to be repaired. Any government bail-out that pays fair value for these assets will do nothing to repair that hole. On the contrary, it would be like providing massive blood transfusions to a patient suffering from vast internal hemorrhaging.

What Stiglitz proposes is vastly different than the government’s bailout scheme that would punish average American taxpayers:

At the same time, several steps can be taken to reduce foreclosures. First, housing can be made more affordable for poor and middle-income Americans by converting the mortgage deduction into a cashable tax credit. The government effectively pays 50% of the mortgage interest and real estate taxes for upper-income Americans, yet does nothing for the poor. Second, bankruptcy reform is needed to allow homeowners to write down the value of their homes and stay in their houses. Third, government could assume part of a mortgage, taking advantage of its lower borrowing costs.

By contrast, US treasury secretary Henry Paulson’s approach is another example of the kind of shell games that got America into its mess. Investment banks and credit rating agencies believed in financial alchemy – the notion that significant value could be created by slicing and dicing securities. The new view is that real value can be created by un-slicing and un-dicing – pulling these assets out of the financial system and turning them over to the government. But that requires overpaying for the assets, benefiting only the banks.

In the end, there is a high likelihood that if such a plan is ultimately adopted, American taxpayers will be left on the hook. In environmental economics, there is a basic principle, called “the polluter pays principle.” It is a matter of both equity and efficiency. Wall Street has polluted the economy with toxic mortgages. It should pay for the cleanup.

Stiglitz’s environmental metaphor makes me think of another important concept, inspired by Rachel Carson, known as the “precautionary principle.” In a nutshell, this idea asks that companies and governments should be required to investigate the harm that a particular act may do to people and the environment before engaging in that act. Perhaps the same should be applied to Wall Street. And to Pennsylvania Avenue. In another opinion piece by Stiglitz from today’s Guardian, he expands on some of the arguments above from yesterday’s Guardian:

The very assumption that the rescue plan has to help is suspect. After all, the IMF and US treasury bail-outs for Wall Street 10 years ago in Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Brazil, Russia and Argentina didn’t work for those countries, although it did enable Wall Street to get back most of its money. The taxpayers in these other poor countries picked up the tab for the financial markets’ mistakes. This time, it is American taxpayers who are being asked to pick up the tab. And that’s the difference. For all the rhetoric about democracy and good governance, the citizens in those countries didn’t really get a chance to vote on the bail-outs. Had they, most would have suffered the same fortune as Paulson’s.

There is, in fact, a widespread consensus among economists about what should be done. The economy is weak, and would remain so even with a good rescue plan. That is why there is a need for a strong stimulus. The February stimulus package was badly designed, and its anaemic effects offset by soaring oil and food prices. Given the enormous increase in the deficit during the past seven years (from $5.7bn to over $9 trillion – and that doesn’t include the bills yet to be paid for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars) we have to be sure that we get the biggest bang for the buck. We need increased unemployment benefits, and aid to states and localities, which otherwise will be forced to cut back on spending, depressing the economy further. We need more investment in both the public and private sectors.

Naomi Klein, in the context of her disaster capitalism thesis explains how this new disaster is working, and will continue to work, if the President and Congress are allowed to move forward:

It would be a grave mistake to underestimate the right’s ability to use this crisis — created by deregulation and privatization — to demand more of the same. Don’t forget that Newt Gingrich’s 527 organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future, is still riding the wave of success from its offshore drilling campaign, “Drill Here, Drill Now!” Just four months ago, offshore drilling was not even on the political radar and now the U.S. House of Representatives has passed supportive legislation. Gingrich is holding an event this Saturday, September 27 that will be broadcast on satellite television to shore up public support for these controversial policies.

What Gingrich’s wish list tells us is that the dumping of private debt into the public coffers is only stage one of the current shock. The second comes when the debt crisis currently being created by this bailout becomes the excuse to privatize social security, lower corporate taxes and cut spending on the poor. A President McCain would embrace these policies willingly. A President Obama would come under huge pressure from the think tanks and the corporate media to abandon his campaign promises and embrace austerity and “free-market stimulus.”

We have seen this many times before, in this country and around the world. But here’s the thing: these opportunistic tactics can only work if we let them. They work when we respond to crisis by regressing, wanting to believe in “strong leaders” – even if they are the same strong leaders who used the September 11 attacks to push through the Patriot Act and launch the illegal war in Iraq.

What Klein has been arguing in all of her print and television media appearances is that this economic shock is no different than the environmental or military shocks that have been used by the Bush administration to force draconian policies on the U.S., which often affect the world at large. I prefer Jeff Gibbs’ piece in Counterpunch this week inspired by a Robin Hood philosophy as to what we can do with that $700 billion:

1) Go after the evil doers

If their our economy is truly in peril because of self-serving, manipulative and possibly illegal decisions by greed folks who have abused our faith in them don’t reward them, go after them! Seek out the individuals AND corporations who have profited from these “toxic” instruments and seize their wealth if necessary. Call the police, the FBI, Homeland Security. If we can seize a janitor or a teacher’s home for the “public good” to build a shopping mall, we can take back ill-gotten gains from greedy bastards to save the economy.

2) Make the rich take responsibility

If we MUST have a bailout, why not have the richest Americans—the people who have gained the most from this system—do it? The wealthiest 400 Americans—FOUR HUNDRED PEOPLE! –are worth $1.5 trillion. They could put up the first $250 billion and see how it goes. They could put up the whole $1 trillion and still have a billion dollars each to play with. Or we could have the wealthiest 10% of Americans put up 5% or so of their collective $40 trillion in wealth to save Wall Street. The rich can spare 5%, hell they could spare 90% and still have far more than you and me.

3) Do what the Swedes do

Sweden did not just bail out its financial institutions by having the government take over the bad debts. It extracted pounds of flesh from bank shareholders before writing checks. Banks had to write down losses and issue warrants to the government.

That strategy held banks responsible and turned the government into an owner. When distressed assets were sold, the profits flowed to taxpayers, and the government was able to recoup more money later by selling its shares in the companies as well.
From: The New York Times.

If the people’s money is used to bail our Wall Street’s greedy excesses, why is no one proposing that the people get a stake in these companies? Why are we not making them swallow their own toxic “products” before loaning them a dime? Why are we not making sure that executives, employees and shareholders don’t profit further from their monumental failure? According to Michael Moore the promised limits are not even present in the current legislation. [note numbering is wrong in the original; there is no number 4]

5) Open the First National People’s Bank

If our leaders are so worried about you and me being able to borrow money, use the trillion dollars of OUR money to fund our OWN bank, the First National People’s Bank. OUR bank could fund home and auto loans, farmers, and small businesses.

6) Jump start the “trickle up” economy

Use the trillion dollars to put people out of work back to work. That’s what got us out of the great depression. Take care of the people first. Take care of the working people and the money trickles up to the wealthy. That’s the genius of Henry Ford.

7) Use the trillion to fund universal health care

It’s not TAXES that make American businesses non-competitive and on the edge of collapse, it’s that American’s don’t have health care. Ask G.M. and Ford. Instead of welfare for the rich and bombing nations that don’t threaten us to oblivion, why don’t we try providing basic services to our own people?

8 ) Send Oprah

You know if only those stock brokers and traders and executives were better at visualizing abundance they wouldn’t be in this mess. Why don’t we all send them our old “The Secret” DVD’s since by now we’re all rich and don’t need them anymore? Maybe when Wall Street is finished with them they can send the DVD’s on to Somalia where obviously they have been having trouble with the abundance thing—maybe they are just not in touch enough with how much they deserve it.

9) Believe in capitalism

If the visualizing abundance thing doesn’t work out, let the companies that have been irresponsible fail. Capitalists love survival of the fittest and competition and it’s time to let them have their way.

10) Bail out Lori

My friend Lori is a self-employed single parent. When she got sick last year she had no health care, no disability, no mortgage insurance. Her family has held raffles and fundraisers in bars to help pay for medicines. Lori is now on a breathing machine and can no longer walk. Lori is losing her and her seven-year old son’s house. Last time I checked Lori pilfered money from no one, created no toxic instruments, placed no wagers that the system would go down. Now all she asks is for the medical care she needs to avoid dying, to keep her home, and to feed and cloth her son.

Senator Obama, please bail out Lori out before you bail out the wealthy.

I especially like the Swedish model above. But what he gets wrong is asking Obama for help. As Dennis Bernstein has reported, Obama’s finance chair, Penny Pritzger is responsible for the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the first place. Here is a bit of Berstein’s investigative piece:

the 1,406 people who lost much of their life savings when Superior Bank of Chicago went belly up in 2001 with over $1 billion in insured and uninsured deposits. This collapse came amid harsh criticism of how Superior’s owners promoted sub-prime home mortgages. As part of a settlement, the owners paid $100 million and agreed to pay another $335 million over 15 years at no interest.

The uninsured depositors were dealt another blow recently when the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a lower court decision to put any recovered money toward the debt that the bank owners owe the federal government before the depositors get anything.

But this seven-year-old bank failure has relevance in another way today, since the chair of Superior’s board for five years was Penny Pritzker, a member of one of America’s richest families and the current Finance Chair for the presidential campaign of Barack Obama, the same candidate who has lashed out against predatory lending.

Last week Bernstein and the always fabulous Nora Barrows-Friedman, updated this piece in light of the current financial crisis on Flashpoints. This episode is a must listen to.

But what is really interest is the sort of creative protesting that took place in the U.S. like Buy My S*&^pile, which asks people to post online or bring possessions they no longer want and then ask the government to bail them out, too. Journalist Arun Gupta apparently sent around an email that mushroomed into a protest that included this “cash for trash” action.

As I go on and on about the U.S. economy, what is really worrying me is the situation of poor people. In the U.S., yes, but here, too. I wrote this week about the situation in the Palestinian Nahr el Bared refugee camp in Lebanon. There was a rather ridiculous article in the Guardian about UNRWA’s fiscal crisis by Leila Shahid that wonders why money from Arab governments is not forthcoming. What Shahid should be doing is first contextualizing the problem: Arab governments like the United Arab Emirates and Jordan assisted the Lebanese government’s war on Nahr el Bared in the summer of 2007. Second, she should be aware that Palestinian refugees, whether they are from Nahr el Bared or any other camp in any country, will clearly tell you that UNRWA is part of the problem. That is not to say that UNRWA should not be given proper funds to ensure the well being of Palestinian refugees who rely on their services. But what about getting to the root of the problem? Like the economic crisis, the root of the problem is decades of corporate welfare. Ending that could be one step in a long-term solution. Likewise, a solution that asked Arab governments not for charity handouts, but some real solidarity working to help Palestinians achieve their right of return to Palestine would be a far more helpful solution. Rather than colluding with the Zionist state, for instance, on economic or political levels, these countries could revive the Arab boycott of Israel.

Here in Palestine, an economic, military, social, and political siege is making a normal Eid al Fitr holiday impossible. As I reported earlier, we are under full closure. Families are separated from one another and cannot celebrate together. Moreover, a new UN report shows that there is an increase in checkpoints throughout the West Bank:

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that the Israeli army installed 19 news barriers since April this year and thus increasing the number of roadblock to 630 including 93 checkpoints used for full search.

Several international countries practiced pressure on Israel to ease the restrictions on movement in the occupied West Bank as currently a 20 minute trip could take up to several hours and in some cases would be impossible.

The UN added that three-quarters of the main roads which lead to the main eighteen Palestinian cities and towns are either sealed or fully controlled by the army.

The UN also said that this percentage indicates 3% or nineteen more obstacles that the Palestinians have to face on daily basis. This number does not include 69 obstacles and barriers under full Israeli control in the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

Another new report on water reveals data about illegal Israeli settlements dumping its sewage on West Bank towns and villages.

And in the midst of these economic, political, social woes, the U.S. government just approved a $15.2 billion dollar deal to allow Lockheed Martin to sell Israeli Terrorist Forces (ITF) new fighter jets. I’m not really sure why the U.S. government needs to approve the deal. Given the increasing fusion of the U.S. and Israel to help the Zionist state become the 51st state. For instance, since when does Congress take off for a Jewish holiday? Notice, of course, they don’t say anything about taking off for Eid, though there is at least one Muslim congressman. What about separation between church and state?

Other disturbing news masked as “good” news–the Zionists are great at this, by the way, they love to try to make it seem like they are really interested in humanity, in people, but really there is no difference here between one weapon littering the land and people of Lebanon (or elsewhere) and another:

Defense officials say army will switch to local-made M-85 bombs in order to limit civilian casualties such as those caused during and after Second Lebanon War, in which ‘we were relying on arsenal of American ordnance likely to produce duds’

Israel has cut purchases of US-made cluster bombs, defense officials said on Tuesday, stocking up on supplies of M-85 bombs from the state-owned Israeli Military Industries (IMI). The report has not yet been confirmed by the IDF.

the Second Lebanon War, thus assuaging worldwide criticism heaped on the State over the issue. More than 100 countries have banned the bombs because of their impreciseness.

This is one reason why, although I support activism to ban cluster bombs, I also find it problematic as if other bombs are any less destructive, lethal, murderous.

And one final bit of news for the day that demonstrates the collusion between the U.S. legal system and Israel:

The Palestine Liberation Organization cannot win dismissal of a lawsuit by victims of bombings in Israel by claiming the attacks were acts of war rather than terrorism, a judge ruled Tuesday.

US District Judge George Daniels said the 2004 lawsuit on behalf of victims and their families can proceed toward trial. It seeks up to $3 billion in damages from attacks between January 2001 and February 2004.

Let’s contrast this for a moment with the lawsuit that Cindy and Craig Corrie attempted to sue for the ITF usage of a Caterpillar bulldozer to murder their daughter, Rachel Corrie, along with numerous of Palestinian families who have been murdered by these bulldozers and had their homes destroyed by them. Cindy and Craig Corrie explain:

Meanwhile, we are still asking our government for a US-led investigation into Rachel’s killing. The US state department is on record saying that the report of the Israeli military police does not reflect an investigation that was “thorough, credible and transparent”, despite that being promised to President Bush by Ariel Sharon. In March we initiated a lawsuit against the Israel Defence Force and the government of Israel, to seek justice for Rachel and also information. We still would like to know what happened on March 16 2003, and why the international eyewitness reports differ so radically from the statements of the soldiers involved.

Unfortunately, the Israeli parliament, counter to international law, has passed retroactive legislation making it impossible for most Palestinians and others to file suit against the IDF for injury that occurred in the occupied territories after September 2000.

In the US we have taken legal action against Caterpillar Inc, which manufactured the D-9R bulldozer which killed Rachel. Under existing US law, corporations can be, and are being, held responsible when they knowingly continue to provide goods and services that are used in a pattern of human-rights violations.

Tom Wright and Therese Saliba reported that the U.S. government, in collusion with the Zionist state, sided with Caterpillar:

Corrie et al vs. Caterpillar then proceeded to the appellate level, before the Ninth Circuit. Just before the Court was set to issue its ruling, the Government weighed in on the matter with a late amicus brief — standing with Caterpillar, and against the Corrie plaintiffs. In the brief, the US first stooped to argue that there should be no liability for aiding and abetting human rights violations under the statutes germane to this suit, namely the Alien Torts Statute of 1789, and the Torture Victims Protection Act of 1992. (These Acts are part of the foundation of individuals’ access to US courts in cases of human rights violations.)

Then, in the same brief, the government declared (without submitting evidence) that it had reimbursed Israel for the cost of the bulldozers. Therefore, went its argument, to hold the company liable would be to implicate US foreign policy itself in criminal violations. Foreign policy being the prerogative largely of the Executive branch, the Court lacked jurisdiction. To hear the case would be a breach of the separation of powers.

Incredibly, the Ninth Circuit embraced this “foreign policy” argument, and in September, 2007 affirmed the dismissal of the suit.

These difference between these two lawsuits is obvious. This is one of the many reasons why there is a boycott campaign against Caterpillar.