Saturday, May 31, 2008

After Bobby Kennedy--John Pilger's Stunning Analysis of the Obama Campaign

I invite you to read a portion below and the rest here: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20015.htm

30/05/08 "ICH" -- - In this season of 1968 nostalgia, one anniversary illuminates today. It is the rise and fall of Robert Kennedy, who would have been elected president of the United States had he not been assassinated in June 1968. Having travelled with Kennedy up to the moment of his shooting at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on 5 June, I heard The Speech many times. He would "return government to the people" and bestow "dignity and justice" on the oppressed. "As Bernard Shaw once said," he would say, "'Most men look at things as they are and wonder why. I dream of things that never were and ask: Why not?'" That was the signal to run back to the bus. It was fun until a hail of bullets passed over our shoulders.

Kennedy's campaign is a model for Barack Obama. Like Obama, he was a senator with no achievements to his name. Like Obama, he raised the expectations of young people and minorities. Like Obama, he promised to end an unpopular war, not because he opposed the war's conquest of other people's land and resources, but because it was "unwinnable".

Should Obama beat John McCain to the White House in November, it will be liberalism's last fling. In the United States and Britain, liberalism as a war-making, divisive ideology is once again being used to destroy liberalism as a reality. A great many people understand this, as the hatred of Blair and new Labour attest, but many are disoriented and eager for "leadership" and basic social democracy. In the US, where unrelenting propaganda about American democratic uniqueness disguises a corporate system based on extremes of wealth and privilege, liberalism as expressed through the Democratic Party has played a crucial, compliant role.

In 1968, Robert Kennedy sought to rescue the party and his own ambitions from the threat of real change that came from an alliance of the civil rights campaign and the anti-war movement then commanding the streets of the main cities, and which Martin Luther King had drawn together until he was assassinated in April that year. Kennedy had supported the war in Vietnam and continued to support it in private, but this was skilfully suppressed as he competed against the maverick Eugene McCarthy, whose surprise win in the New Hampshire primary on an anti-war ticket had forced President Lyndon Johnson to abandon the idea of another term. Using the memory of his martyred brother, Kennedy assiduously exploited the electoral power of delusion among people hungry for politics that represented them, not the rich.

"These people love you," I said to him as we left Calexico, California, where the immigrant population lived in abject poverty and people came like a great wave and swept him out of his car, his hands fastened to their lips.

"Yes, yes, sure they love me," he replied. "I love them!" I asked him how exactly he would lift them out of poverty: just what was his political philosophy? "Philosophy? Well, it's based on a faith in this country and I believe that many Americans have lost this faith and I want to give it back to them, because we are the last and the best hope of the world, as Thomas Jefferson said."

"That's what you say in your speech. Surely the question is: How?"

"How . . . by charting a new direction for America."

The vacuities are familiar. Obama is his echo. Like Kennedy, Obama may well "chart a new direction for America" in specious, media-honed language, but in reality he will secure, like every president, the best damned democracy money can buy.

Embarrassing truth

As their contest for the White House draws closer, watch how, regardless of the inevitable personal smears, Obama and McCain draw nearer to each other. They already concur on America's divine right to control all before it. "We lead the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good," said Obama. "We must lead by building a 21st-century military . . . to advance the security of all people [emphasis added]." McCain agrees. Obama says in pursuing "terrorists" he would attack Pakistan. McCain wouldn't quarrel.

Both candidates have paid ritual obeisance to the regime in Tel Aviv, unquestioning support for which defines all presidential ambition. In opposing a UN Security Council resolution implying criticism of Israel's starvation of the people of Gaza, Obama was ahead of both McCain and Hillary Clinton. In January, pressured by the Israel lobby, he massaged a statement that "nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people" to now read: "Nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people from the failure of the Palestinian leadership to recognise Israel [emphasis added]." Such is his concern for the victims of the longest, illegal military occupation of modern times. Like all the candidates, Obama has furthered Israeli/Bush fictions about Iran, whose regime, he says absurdly, "is a threat to all of us".

Devastation--Last of the Iraqis Blog

Portion of the story below; whole thing here:
http://www.uruknet.de/?s1=1&p=44478&s2=31

What can I do now? If I went there I'll be killed or in the best situations be oppressed and you know I can't quit because I need to work and you know It's almost impossible to be transferred somewhere else…you have destroyed me X, and you have destroyed me at the first day and at the first chance, I wanted to be with you because you are my friend and I though you will protect me I never though that you will be the first one to expose me? He said" Oh Mohammed, don't worry and don't make it a big deal…come and work nothing will happen, come on my responsibility, the manager is secular haven't you heard him saying that he hates who talks about Shiites and Sunnis" Oh my god X, but he did, twice.

I don't know what to do…I don't want to go there…I'll be killed, I'll try to find someone who accepts bribes and transfer me to another area …I'll use my escape money for that bribe it's true that I want to leave Iraq now if I could…I'll apply for the Jordanian visa tomorrow and it will take a month but everyone says that my chances aren't higher than 10% because most of the visas applications have been rejected, why would they give me a visa and they have returned me twice? If I couldn't go to Jordan where could I go? Lebanon is the second gate for Iraqis but it's so so expensive. If I'm assured that I can leave Iraq I'll quit immediately but I'm not. If anyone can help with that please do it. I know the wisest thing to do is to leave Iraq as soon as possible because I had enough of this shit…If I live here another year I'll end up either dead or suffering from serious mental illness. I'm so depressed, and I feel hopeless…I can't see a way in which I can leave Iraq…Help me god, I'm suffering…if I stayed like this I'll suffocate and die.

Support the Women's Resistance in Zimbabwe

The WOZA 14 arrested on Wednesday were brought to court Friday charged with activity likely to cause public disorder with Jenni Williams also being charged with causing disaffection among the police and publishing false information. They were granted bail by the magistrate, but the state appealed so they have been remanded in custody until June 6th. We think they are being held at Harare Remand Prison.

Our phone protest now moves to Minister for Justice Patrick Chinamasa - text his mobile +26311605523 to demand the release of peaceful human rights defenders.
or ring his land-line +263 4 777054/774620

also direct protests to
Attorney General's office +263 4 774587/92
The Director of Public Prosecutions + 263 4 774586/7

Your call/text is more vital than ever now - please let us know how you get on so that we can monitor the campaign.

Thanks

Lois

Thousands of Iraqis Rally Against U.S. Troop Accord

Portion below; whole thing here: http://gorillasguides.com/2008/05/31/thousands-of-iraqis-rally-against-us-troop-accord/


BAGHDAD, May 30 (Reuters) - Thousands of people heeded a call from anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to protest talks between Washington and Baghdad on keeping U.S. troops in Iraq beyond 2008, but turnout on Friday was lower than past marches.

Explaining the relatively low numbers, spokesmen for Sadr’s movement said the protests were widely spread through the country but security forces prevented marches in some areas.

In one of the largest demonstrations, several thousand people took to the streets in the Baghdad district of Sadr City, a bastion of Sadr’s Mehdi Army militia. They held up pictures of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki dressed as Saddam Hussein.

In the Kadhimiya district in northwest Baghdad, hundreds of demonstrators with raised fists marched behind a banner asking the United Nations to “stand with the Iraqi people against this security deal between the government and the occupation”.

The United States, which invaded in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein, now has 155,000 troops in Iraq.

It is negotiating with Iraq on an agreement aimed at giving a legal basis to U.S. troops after Dec. 31, when their United Nations’ mandate expires. Sadr’s followers see it as a surrender of Iraq’s sovereignty to an occupying force.

Sadr, backed by a militia estimated to number tens of thousands and popular among Iraq’s Shi’ite poor, has called for protests to continue until the government agrees to hold a referendum on the U.S. presence.

Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, the biggest Shi’ite group in Maliki’s government, also criticised the planned agreement on a troop extension.

In a statement on his website, he said there was a “national consensus to reject many points raised by the American side as they infringe national sovereignty.”

Support the Raytheon 9--See Post Below


From Palestinian Think Tank

Friday, May 30, 2008

Support the Raytheon 9--On Trial for Shutting Down Raytheon Bomb Factory

Our Warriors At Work in Iraq

"US occupation soldiers: doing what they do best, fighting terrorism, of course. (AFP)"

Bethlehem Lawyer Kidnapped by IOF

From International Middle East Media Center:
http://www.imemc.org/article/54865

Israeli troops arrested Farid Al-Atrash, a lawyer from Bethlehem as he was among other Palestinians protesting the presence of Israeli settlers who occupied a piece of land east of the town of Beit Sahour near Bethlehem in order to build a new settlement on that land, Thursday morning.

Salah El-Taamari, governor of Bethlehem told IMEMC over the phone that "Israel is not showing any sign of positiveness towards allowing a Palestinian independent state to be built, [...] they continue to occupy more land and to build more illegal settlements on them.

One of the settlers who refused to disclose his name denied the existance of Palestine in this land and insisted that it is called Judea. "This is not Palestine, this is Judea, the Roman emperor Hadrian named it Palestine, but before that it was Judea, the land of Christ is Judea, and the Koran says this is the land of 'Bani Israel' children of Israel, and we are Bani Israel," he said.

On Wednesday, the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ), revealed information about Israeli intentions to build a new settlement on this land.

Eyewitnesses told IMEMC that dozens of armed settlers rushed into the area accompanied with Israeli army and put an Israeli flag on the land.

A group of residents from Beit Sahour and Bethlehem arrived at the area, Israeli soldiers did not allow them to enter the site, Fared Al Atrash a local human-right activist protested the soldiers' actions of allowing the settlers into the site and not the Palestinians. Israeli border police kidnapped Al Atrash and released him several hours later for standing in front of the settlers cars.

This land, known as Ush Ghrab (Crock’s Nest) was occupied by the Israeli army since 1967 and was used as a military base.

The Israeli army unilaterally withdrew from this land in 2006. The Municipality of Beit Sahour, which owns most of the land in that area, immediately started plans to build public gardens for the local community of Bethlehem area.

The project was realized through funds from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and a number of other charitable organizations.
SEE VIDEO OF THE ARREST: http://youtube.com/watch?v=XNHPCtYrmYQ

"We have the right to work"

http://socialistworker.org/2008/05/30/we-have-the-right-to-work

SAN RAFAEL, Calif.--Residents of the Canal Area of San Rafael, just north of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, were awoken on the morning of May 22 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents knocking at the doors of their homes.

Between eight and 10 ICE agents apparently gathered at a local coffee shop for a quick cup of coffee before setting off to "work." The raid began at 6 a.m., with agents going door to door in this heavily Latino neighborhood.

One neighborhood resident, Carla, reported that the agents had 40 arrest warrants. By her count, 16 men and one woman were detained, and, of these, four were arrested. ICE vans were reportedly seen all around the area throughout the remainder of the day.

Immigrant families organized themselves against the raids by arranging for quick transportation to friends' houses and by keeping their kids out of school. They passed the word person-to-person, by cell phone and by calling into 1010 AM on the radio show of Marco Gutierrez, a very popular Spanish-language talk show host with long-standing ties to the community.

ICE has been conducting raids in the Bay Area frequently since May 2, when 63 workers at the El Balazo Taqueria chain were arrested in several Bay Area cities. More raids followed in Berkeley and Oakland.

While these raids have intensified fear within immigrant communities and workplaces, the raids have also sparked outrage and protest.

Two hundred fifty people gathered in San Francisco on May 5 to protest the El Balazo raids, and 50 came out to support the workers on May 27 at the first day of hearings in front of immigration judges in San Francisco. The protests were organized by Renee Saucedo with La Raza Centro Legal and other activists.

"I'm very sad because they treat us like criminals," Francisco, one of the El Balazo workers, said at the rally outside San Francisco's ICE headquarters. "I have decided to stay and fight my case because we have the right to work. I want to thank all the lawyers and the rest of you that are standing beside us."

The El Balazo workers are organizing themselves to fight for their rights as their immigration hearings take place over the coming months. In addition to responding to the on-going raids, defending the El Balazo workers will be a test case for the Bay Area immigrant rights movement's ability to stand up to ICE.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Israeli Troops Throw Grenades at Journalists at Anti-Wall Demo

A concussion grenade thrown by Israeli troops explodes in front of journalists as soldiers rush Palestinian demonstrators during a protest against Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank village of Nilin near Modin, Thursday. Israel says the barrier is necessary for security while Palestinians call it a land grab.

(May 29, 2008)

Associated Press

George Monbiot Tries Citizen's Arrest of John Bolton


John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, has escaped an attempted citizen's arrest as he appeared at the Hay Festival.Security guards blocked the path of columnist and activist George Monbiot, who tried to make the arrest as Mr Bolton left the stage.

The former ambassador - a key advisor to President George W Bush who argued strongly in favour of invading Iraq - had been giving a talk on international relations to more than 600 people at the literary festival.

Mr Monbiot was blocked by two heavily-built security guards at the end of the one-and-a-half hour appearance, before he could serve a "charge sheet" on him.

After being released by the guards the columnist - a fierce critic of the 2003 American-led invasion - made a dash through the rain-soaked tented village in a failed attempt to catch up with Mr Bolton.

A crowd of about 20 protestors, one dressed in a latex George Bush mask, chanted "war criminal" as Mr Bolton was ushered away.

Mr Monbiot said moments later he was "disappointed" that he had been blocked from making the citizen's arrest.

"This was a serious attempt to bring one of the perpetrators of the Iraq war to justice, for what is described under the Nuremberg Principles as an international crime," he said.

During Mr Bolton's talk, to a packed-out audience, Mr Monbiot had asked Mr Bolton what difference there was between him and a Nazi war criminal.

Mr Bolton said the war was legal, partly because Iraq had failed to comply with a key and binding UN resolution after the end of the Gulf War in 1991.

On the war's legality, he added: "This is not my personal opinion, this is the opinion of the entire legal apparatus of the US government."

A citizen's arrest can be carried out under certain circumstances by a member of the public, if they believe a person had carried out a crime, under the Serious and Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.

Article continues; whole thing here:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/2044737/John-Bolton-escapes-citizen%27s-arrest-at-Hay-Festival.html#continue

Protest Israel's 60th Anniversary--Video by Elliot Stoller

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Na’alin - Direct action to stop bulldozers - 5-25-08

Palestinian youths, men, women, elders and foreigner supporters against the coward Israeli Terrorist Forces, protesting building part of the Apartheid Wall on Na’alin – near Ramallah, Occupied Palestine.

See video of this courageous direct action at link below:

http://palestinethinktank.com/2008/05/28/naalin-direct-action-to-stop-bulldozers-25-5-08/

Veterans Seek Help at Homeless Shelter

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2004442315_iraqvets28m.html

Some veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are among the Seattle-area homeless who seek the help of the Compass Center, which offers transitional housing.

Within the past year, five have been served by the center in a two-year program that offers shelter and counseling as they return to work or school, said Tracy Jones, a center program manager who spoke Tuesday at a town-hall meeting organized by U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle.

"They have been out a year or so, and they've been doing drugs and alcohol, or their PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder] is so bad that their families don't want to deal with them," Jones said.

Jones said the Compass Center was able to help these veterans so they didn't end up on the streets. Other speakers at the town-hall meeting represented the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which has clinics treating the expanding number of veterans suffering from brain injuries and PTSD.

McDermott, at the meeting, said the illness is often underreported and that suicide and depression rates among Army personnel last year were at a 26-year high.

Soldiers with PTSD or other war-related injuries are entitled to VA compensation based on disability rating. The VA is trying to speed up processing the claims.

Wounded veteran Nick Wright, of Everett, said he was told as he left the service last fall that it would take four to six weeks to process the VA claim. But, Wright — who survived three bomb explosions in a nine-month tour in Iraq — said he was still waiting.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Israel’s Reply to a Non-violent Nakba protest INSIDE Israel

From the Sabbah blog:

This is from the Israeli licensed march of Palestinian families at the old destroyed arab village of Safurye. About half way through the clip CNN’s own Ben Welderman gets harassed too and barks back. If this is how Israel treats Palestinians who are citizens of Israel you can only imagine how it treats Palestinians that they occupy.

Remember, this demo was licenced by the Israeli authorities!

This message was sent by Henry Lowi:

The footage on the You Tube link below, taken in the Galilee at a demonstration of Nakba victims who are Palestinian citizens of Israel, along with their Israeli supporters, shows the Israeli Police behaving like the storm-troopers that they are. (Some people will object to my use of the metaphor “storm-trooper”. What do they say? “Crowd control officers behaving overly aggressively”? Sorry, that won’t do.) The Police unit called “Border Guard” is a specialized unit used to suppress the Palestinian people’s legitimate struggle, using various methods of provocation and brutality. There will be no peace in Israel-Palestine until all the specialized anti-Palestinian armed organizations are disbanded.

Note MK Muhammad Barakeh doing his duty by ascertaining the names of those fellow demonstrators who were seized by the Police.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-P4LI1ceGA

American Mathematician Gives Israeli Foundation Prize to Support Palestine Schools

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/objects/pages/PrintArticleEn.jhtml?itemNo=986898
Found on Angry Arab Newservice

The American mathematician David Mumford, co-winner of the 2008 Wolf Foundation Prize in Mathematics, announced upon receiving the award yesterday that he will donate the money to Bir Zeit University, near Ramallah, and to Gisha, an Israeli organization that advocates for Palestinian freedom of movement.

"I decided to donate my share of the Wolf Prize to enable the academic community in occupied Palestine to survive and thrive," Mumford told Haaretz. "I am very grateful for the prize, but I believe that Palestinian students should have an opportunity to go elsewhere to acquire an education. Students in the West Bank and Gaza today do not have an opportunity to do that."

The Wolf Foundation awards prizes of $100,000 each year "to outstanding scientists and artists for achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among peoples," its web site says. It is considered one of the most prestigious international honors in mathematics.

Mumford, professor emeritus at Brown University and Harvard University, shared this year's prize with Pierre Deligne and Phillip Griffiths of Princeton University. According to the Wolf Foundation, he was recognized for his "work on algebraic surfaces; on geometric invariant theory; and for laying the foundations of the modern algebraic theory of the moduli space of curves and theta functions."

Mumford, who received the prize from President Shimon Peres in the Knesset, said he has already contacted Bir Zeit University and Gisha, and they have agreed to accept his donation. "The achievements I accomplished in mathematics were made possible thanks to my being able to move freely and exchange ideas with other scholars," he said. "It would not have been possible without an international consensus on an exchange of ideas. Mathematics works best when people can move and get together. That's its elixir of life. But the people of occupied Palestine don't have an opportunity to do that. The school system is fighting for its life, and mobility is very limited."

"When I visited Israel in 1995, there was a feeling of hope, but that is not the situation today," he added. "Education for people in the occupied territories gives them a future. The alternative is chaos." He said his decision was not aimed at Israel. "I have tremendous regard for Israel, which is without a doubt a major force in the mathematics world. But unfortunately, the Palestinians cannot take part in this prosperity."

Raytheon 9--Resisting War Crimes Is Not a Crime!

On Wednesday 9 August 2006, nine anti-war protestors, including the civil rights activist and campaigning journalist Eamonn McCann, occupied and closed down the offices of Raytheon at Springtown in Derry, during a protest organised by the Derry Anti-War Coalition. We are writing to ask for your support in their defence campaign.

The action on 9 August was part of a wider protest on the day at the presence of Raytheon, the fifth biggest arms manufacturer in the world, and their complicity in the murderous Israeli bombardment of Lebanon and the on-going wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was, for instance, a Raytheon Guided Bomb Unit which was used in the atrocity in Qana.

Raytheon set up their office in Derry in 1999. Their arrival was announced by John Hume and David Trimble, shortly after collecting their Nobel Peace Prizes. For seven years Raytheon’s presence in Derry has been opposed, with regular vigils, public meetings and debates, marches and appeals to local politicians. The campaign succeeded in getting a motion passed by Derry City Council saying that Raytheon’s welcome would be withdrawn if they were found to be involved in anything other than civilian projects. Raytheon have consistently refused to respond to any enquiries about the nature of their work in Derry. We do know, however, that one of the contracts they were working on is the software for the Airborne Stand-off Radar System (ASTOR) for the British Ministry of Defence. This is a missile guidance system.

The Derry Anti-War Coalition believes that it was legally and morally justified to engage in non-violent direct action to highlight Raytheon’s role as war profiteers and to call for the closure of its offices in Derry. Derry Anti War Coalition is affiliated to the Irish Anti-War Movement and the Stop the War Coalition in Britain, and sees this action as an extension of the mass protests against war which we have helped organise, and have participated in, over recent years.

The nine were charged with unlawful assembly and aggravated burglary, which are scheduled offences under the Terrorism Act. This means the case will be heard before a non-jury Diplock court – unless the charges are reduced. If they are not, all nine protestors could face lengthy jail sentences. They were held in custody for two days and released under very stringent bail conditions. We believe these charges to be unwarranted. No-one was threatened or injured during the occupation. A defence campaign has been established and are asking for your public support. We would greatly appreciate it if you signed the enclosed statement of support. We aim to publish this as an open letter in the local and international press.

We are also raising a defence fund, to help with the costs of the court case and to arrange for the appearance of international witnesses to testify in our defence about the war crimes in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan and Raytheon’s role in them. We would welcome any contribution you might be able to make. Please make cheques payable to Derry Anti-War Coalition, or make donations directly to:

Derry Anti-War Coalition
account number: 00178353
sort code: 11 – 09 – 68
Halifax Building Society, Derry, N Ireland

Youtube from Raytheon 9 Website:
http://www.raytheon9.org/

UPDATE!
The trial of the Raytheon 9 finally got underway today, Tues 20th May, at Laganside Court in Belfast. The day started well with about 50 people congregating outside the Courthouse. 28 of them carried placards with photographs of the men, women and children who died in the Qana massacre of 30 July 2006. A carload of Irish Anti War Movement activists travelled from Dublin and everyone felt good to see so many turn up to show their solidarity when the ‘official’ protest of the day before had been cancelled at such short notice.

As expected, the first day was taken up with legal arguments about the nature of the defence, witnesses etc. They don’t deny that they occupied Raytheon or that they destroyed their computer system but say that they had a legal, moral and political duty to do so in order to stop or at least delay war crimes, in which Raytheon were involved, being carried out by the Israeli army in Lebanon.

The judge accepted defence arguments that he should not rule the defence out but allow it to be argued and then, having heard the evidence, he can decide how to instruct the jury on what they can, and cannot, take into account in reaching their verdict.

The judge said that he recognised the difficulties the defendants and their supporters face in getting up and down between Derry and Belfast and ruled that the Court would start no earlier than 10.30am and finish no later than 4pm every day. The trial is expected to last three weeks. We will update the website every evening, though it may be about 9pm before this happens as we have to travel back to Derry first.

We hope to see a big mobilisation on the morning of Tues 27th May - now that we’re sure the trial is up and running.

Thank you for your solidarity and support,

Raytheon 9 / Derry Anti War Coalition

Another Palestinian Standing Up to Injustice

Handuma Rashid Najja Wishah spends as much time as she can in her garden in Gaza, maintaining her “intimate love of the land.”

Portion of her story below; whole thing here: http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/campaigns/english/gaza_closure/Narratives_10.html

When Handuma, Motlaq and Ibrahim arrived in Gaza in December 1948, they were, according to UN figures, just three of the approximately 914,000 Palestinians who had been forced out of Palestine as refugees during the Nakhba, or Catastrophe. Around two hundred thousand of the refugees arrived in the Gaza Strip, overwhelming the local Palestinian population of eighty thousand. “We spent our first week in Gaza city” says Handuma. “Then we moved on to Nuseirat (in the middle area of the Gaza Strip) and stayed there. We had nothing. We slept on the land, uncovered, until UNRWA arrived and gave us tents.” The United Nations Relief and Works Agency was established in 1949 to assist the Palestinian refugees, and it remains by far the largest UN operation in the Middle East. In Gaza, UNRWA started to count the refugees, who were allocated tents according to the size of each family. Handuma and her small family were issued with a tent and UNRWA blankets, but had no beds. “The thing we needed the most was medicine” she says. “There was no medicine. My son, Ibrahim was dying in front of me, and there was nothing I could do.” Ibrahim died in Nuseirat, aged two years and two months.

Slowly the refugees divided themselves into camps; there are now eight refugee camps in the Gaza Strip, and they are some of the densely populated places on earth. Handuma and Motlaq eventually moved from their tent into a small house in the Bureij refugee camp, where she has lived since 1953. “The first years were very difficult” she says. “After the death of my first son I gave birth to another boy, and called him Ibrahim too. But he died 45 days later. If I had known how much suffering it was going to cause my children, I would never have left my village.” She starts to cry silently, and excuses herself for a few minutes. This elderly woman has just recalled the hardest and most bitter battles of her life: the pain of losing her land, and the struggle to save her children.

Handuma’s third son, Jaber survived, and she went on to have another three sons and four daughters. Um Jaber (Mother of Jaber) as she has been known for years in the Gaza Strip and beyond, has also been a staunch political activist more than five decades. She remains grateful to UNRWA for their assistance, but is fiercely critical of both the United Nations, and especially Britain, for their roles in the Nakhba. “We Palestinians are not terrorists” she says. “We are living under occupation and siege from the Israelis, and we will continue to resist until we can return to our homes. We are patient people.”

In 1995, when she was 65 years old, Um Jaber started a major political campaign to support Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in Israeli jails. “All of my four sons were jailed” she says, “and through them I met other Palestinians who also needed support. I used to visit the jails in Israel daily.” The mothers of Palestinians incarcerated in Israeli jails have been denied all visitation rights by the Israeli authorities since June 2007, and Um Jaber still joins the weekly Gaza vigil that demands the right for Palestinian mothers to visit their sons, husband and daughters who are imprisoned in Israel. These days, however, Um Jaber spends as much time as possible in her large garden tending her flowers and herbs and her flocks of hens and pigeons. “I have never lost my intimate love for the land” she says. “I have fed this love to my children and grandchildren, and I practice my traditional village life here as much as I can.”

As she remembers her own Nakhba, Um Jaber says she has never lost the hope of returning to the site of her village. “The Nakhba day will be a difficult and sad day” she says. “I will remember my village, and our lives there. I will also remember the respect between us and the Jews. But we are not the problem, we are the occupied people. The problem is the Israeli occupation of our Palestinian land.”

Sunday, May 25, 2008

NW Winter Soldier Event, May 31

NW Winter Soldier event, May 31

Saturday, May 31st from Noon to 4:15pm
Seattle Town Hall, 8th Ave & Seneca St
Find Out More: G.I. Voice

War Immemorial Day--Bill Quigley

The list at the bottom continues in the complete article here:
http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_bill_qui_080525_war_immemorial_day.htm

Memorial Day is not actually a day to pray for U.S. troops who died in action but rather a day set aside by Congress to pray for peace. The 1950 Joint Resolution of Congress which created Memorial Day says: "Requesting the President to issue a proclamation designating May 30, Memorial Day, as a day for a Nation-wide prayer for peace." (64 Stat.158).

Peace today is a nearly impossible challenge for the United States. The U.S. is far and away the most militarized country in the world and the most aggressive. Unless the U.S. dramatically reduces its emphasis on global military action, there will be many, many more families grieving on future Memorial days.


The U.S. spends over $600 billion annually on our military, more than the rest of the world combined. China, our nearest competitor, spends about one-tenth of what we spend. The U.S. also sells more weapons to other countries than any other nation in the world.


The U.S. has about 700 military bases in 130 countries world-wide and another 6000 bases in the US and our territories, according to Chalmers Johnson in his excellent book NEMESIS: THE LAST DAYS OF THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC (2007).


The Department of Defense (DOD) reports nearly 1.4 million active duty military personnel today. Over a quarter of a million are in other countries from Iraq and Afghanistan to Europe, North Africa, South Asia and the rest of the Western Hemisphere. The DOD also employs more than 700,000 civilian employees.


The US has used its armed forces abroad over 230 times according to researchers at the Department of the Navy Historical Center. Their publications list over 60 military efforts outside the U.S. since World War II.

While the focus of most of the Memorial Day activities will be on U.S. military dead, no effort is made to try to identify or remember the military or civilians of other countries who have died in the same actions. For example, the U.S. government reports 432 U.S. military dead in Afghanistan and surrounding areas, but has refused to disclose civilian casualties. "We don't do body counts," General Tommy Franks said.


Most people know of the deaths in World War I – 116,000 U.S. soldiers killed. But how many in the U.S. know that over 8 million soldiers from other countries and perhaps another 8 million civilians also died during World War II?


By World War II, about 408,000 U.S. soldiers were killed. World-wide, at least another 20 million soldiers and civilians died.


The U.S. is not only the largest and most expensive military on the planet but it is also the most active. Since World War II, the U.S. has used U.S. military force in the following countries:


1947-1949 Greece. Over 500 U.S. armed forces military advisers were sent into Greece to administer hundreds of millions of dollars in their civil war.


1947-1949 Turkey. Over 400 U.S. armed forces military advisers sent into Turkey,
1950-1953 Korea. In the Korean War and other global conflicts 54,246 U.S. service members died.

1957–1975 Vietnam. Over 58,219 U.S. killed.


1958-1984 Lebanon. Sixth Fleet amphibious Marines and U.S. Army troops landed in Beirut during their civil war. Over 3000 U.S. military participated. 268 U.S. military killed in bombing.

Leaders Told Battle to Stem Global Warming Slowing

Portion below; whole thing here:
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1104ap_climate_change.html


KOBE, Japan -- The world is losing momentum in the battle against global warming, the U.N. climate chief warned on Saturday, urging environmental ministers from wealthy nations to revive the effort by setting clear targets for reducing greenhouse gases.

The ministers gathered in the western Japanese city of Kobe for a three-day meeting as evidence mounted that rising world temperatures have been taking a toll on the earth at a faster rate than previously forecast.

The officials from the Group of Eight countries, joined by representatives from other countries including China and other organizations, were to lay the foundations for the upcoming G8 summit in northern Japan in July.

U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer told the Associated Press on the sidelines that he was concerned about stalling momentum behind international talks to forge a global warming pact by December 2009 to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. Its first phase ends in 2012.

"Much of the enthusiasm and ambition that we saw in Bali with the launch of negotiations doesn't seem to be present," he said, referring to a meeting on the Indonesian resort island in December, when some 190 countries decided on a timetable for talks on the new climate pact.

De Boer cited a recently announced U.S. climate plan that would allow an increase in emissions, Canada's indication that it will not meet its obligations under the Kyoto agreement, and European industry's skepticism about the EU goal of cutting emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

To rejuvenate the talks, G8 countries - the United States, Japan, Russia, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada - need to decide on midterm targets for reducing carbon emissions by 2020, make a clearer commitment to helping poorer nations deal with climate change, and form a dialogue with top developing countries such as China to run parallel with the U.N.-led talks, he said.

"Certainly my expectation is that ... the G8 leaders will now really take things to the next level, and I think need to take it to the next level, with December 2009 being just around the corner," de Boer said.

On Saturday the ministers heard from environmentalists and business leaders before moving behind closed doors.

Environmentalists urged quick action to stem the effects of the rise in world temperatures, which scientists say threaten to drive species to extinction, worsen floods and droughts, and thwart economic development.

The rapid melting of ice in the Arctic, increasing crop damage and other effects show the multiplying effects or higher temperatures, said Bill Hare, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Summer sea ice in the Arctic, for instance, shrank to a record low last year to nearly 40 percent less than the long-term average between 1979 and 2000.

Hare warned that rising oil prices could speed that even further. Light, sweet crude for July delivery settled at $132.19 a barrel Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The increase encourages the use of cheaper coal - a much dirtier fuel.

"The recent developments in the energy sector, particularly high oil prices and coal intensive development ... are pointing toward the risk of higher emissions," Hare told the ministers.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

From Empire Burlesque--Killing Iraqi Civilians from the Air

Portion below of Chris Floyd's column, found here:
http://www.chris-floyd.com/index.php

Iraq continues to be the heart of this darkness, the worm of war crime that corrupts all. The reality of the war continues to be woefully underreported – but at least some glimpses of this particular quadrant of the imperium's hell do make it into the papers. For example, the Washington Post reports – on page 10 – on the "surge" in U.S. airstrikes on the heavily-populated civilian precincts of Sadr City in Baghdad, and all around Iraq. As you read the excerpts, remember that there is no reason for American forces to be in Iraq at all, that they were sent there under false pretenses to carry out an act of aggression on behalf of predatory elites who have enriched themselves and their cronies on the blood money of the war:

From an Apache helicopter, Capt. Ben Katzenberger's battlefield resembles a vast mosaic of tiny brown boxes. "The city looks like a bucket of Legos dumped out on the ground," the 26-year-old pilot said. "It's brown Legos, no color. It's really dense and hard to pick things out because everything looks the same."

He uses a powerful lens to zoom in on tiny silhouettes, trying to identify people with "hostile intent" among hundreds of ordinary citizens in Baghdad. In recent weeks, Katzenberger and other pilots have dramatically increased their use of helicopter-fired missiles against enemy fighters, often in densely populated areas. Since late March, the military has fired more than 200 Hellfire missiles in the capital, compared with just six missiles fired in the previous three months.

The military says the tactic has saved the lives of ground troops and prevented attacks, but the strikes have also killed and wounded civilians, provoking criticism from Iraqis.

On Wednesday, eight people, including two children, were killed when a U.S. helicopter opened fire on a group of Iraqis traveling to a U.S. detention center to greet a man who was being released from custody, Iraqi officials said….

"It's not Hollywood and it's not 110 percent perfect," said Col. Timothy J. Edens, the commander of the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, of the accuracy of his unit's strikes. "It is as precise as very hardworking soldiers and commanders can make it. These criminals do not operate in a clean battle space. It is occupied by civilians, law-abiding Iraqis."

Those civilians include people like Zahara Fadhil, a 10-year-old girl with a tiny frame and long brown hair. Relatives said she was wounded by a missile on April 20 at approximately 8 p.m. in Baghdad's Shiite enclave of Sadr City. The U.S. military said it fired a Hellfire missile in Zahara's neighborhood at that time, targeting men who were seen loading rockets into a sedan.

Her face drained of color and her legs scarred by shrapnel, Zahara spoke haltingly when asked what she thought of U.S. troops.

"They kill people," she said. Lying in bed, she gasped for air before continuing. "They should leave Iraq now."

Happy Birthday, Malcom

Born May 19, 1925
Malcolm X Biography: http://africawithin.com/malcolmx/malcolm_bio.htm

British Student Held 6 Days for Doing Research

Found on Angry Arab Newservice
Portion below; whole thing here:
http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=402125&c=2

A masters student at the University of Nottingham who was arrested under the Terrorism Act under suspicion of possessing extremist material was studying terrorism for his dissertation, Times Higher Education can reveal.

Academics and students have expressed concerns about the police’s handling of the case, which saw police searching campus property.

Rizwaan Sabir, a 22-year-old who was studying in the politics department, was arrested along with a 30-year-old member of staff. Both were released without charge on 20 May after having been held in custody for six days.

Mr Sabir’s lawyer, Tayab Ali of McCormacks solicitors in London, told Times Higher Education that as preparation for a PhD on radical Islamic groups, Mr Sabir had downloaded an edited version of the al-Qaeda handbook from a US government website. It is understood that Mr Sabir sent the 1,500-page document to the staff member - who was subsequently arrested - because he had access to a printer. Mr Ali said: “The two members of the university were treated as though they were part of an al-Qaeda cell. They were detained for 48 hours, and a warrant for further detention was granted on the basis that the police had mobile phones and evidence taken from computers to justify this.”

The case highlights concerns that new anti-terrorism legislation allowing detention for 28 days without charge would lead to people’s being held for extended periods on the “flimsiest of evidence”, Mr Ali said.

“Why did it take so long for the police to reach the conclusions they did?” Mr Ali asked. “These are not unqualified police, they are the top counterterrorism command for the region. They should know the difference between a book that is useful for terrorism and one that is not.”

Academics at Nottingham have expressed deep concerns about the arrest’s implications for academic freedom. Bettina Rentz, a lecturer in international security and Mr Sabir’s personal tutor, said: “This case is very worrying. The student downloaded publicly accessible information and provoked this very harsh reaction. Nobody tried to speak to him or to his tutors before police were sent in. The whole push from the Government is on policy relevance of research, and in this case the student’s research could not be more policy relevant.”

Alf Nilsen, research fellow in law and social sciences, said: “What we’re seeing here is a blatant attack on academic freedom – people have been arrested for being in possession of legitimate research materials. How can we exercise our academic freedom if we are at risk of being arrested for possession of subversive material? This sets a very alarming precedent. Academic freedom on campus should be guaranteed for all staff and students regardless of their ethnic or religious backgrounds.”

Friday, May 23, 2008

Prison Builders Happy Tonight--Illegal Immigrants Jailed Instead of Deported

Portion below; whole thing here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/24/us/24immig.html?hp=&pagewanted=all

WATERLOO, Iowa — In temporary courtrooms at a fairgrounds here, 270 illegal immigrants were sentenced this week to five months in prison for working at a meatpacking plant with false documents.

The prosecutions, which ended Friday, signal a sharp escalation in the Bush administration’s crackdown on illegal workers, with prosecutors bringing tough federal criminal charges against most of the immigrants arrested in a May 12 raid. Until now, unauthorized workers have generally been detained by immigration officials for civil violations and rapidly deported.

The convicted immigrants were among 389 workers detained at the Agriprocessors Inc. plant in nearby Postville in a raid that federal officials called the largest criminal enforcement operation ever carried out by immigration authorities at a workplace.

Matt M. Dummermuth, the United States attorney for northern Iowa, who oversaw the prosecutions, called the operation an “astonishing success.”

Claude Arnold, a special agent in charge of investigations for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said it showed that federal officials were “committed to enforcing the nation’s immigration laws in the workplace to maintain the integrity of the immigration system.”

The unusually swift proceedings, in which 297 immigrants pleaded guilty and were sentenced in four days, were criticized by criminal defense lawyers, who warned of violations of due process. Twenty-seven immigrants received probation. The American Immigration Lawyers Association protested that the workers had been denied meetings with immigration lawyers and that their claims under immigration law had been swept aside in unusual and speedy plea agreements.

The illegal immigrants, most from Guatemala, filed into the courtrooms in groups of 10, their hands and feet shackled. One by one, they entered guilty pleas through a Spanish interpreter, admitting they had taken jobs using fraudulent Social Security cards or immigration documents. Moments later, they moved to another courtroom for sentencing.

The pleas were part of a deal worked out with prosecutors to avoid even more serious charges. Most immigrants agreed to immediate deportation after they serve five months in prison.

The hearings took place on the grounds of the National Cattle Congress in Waterloo, in mobile trailers and in a dance hall modified with black curtains, beginning at 8 a.m. and continuing several nights until 10. On Wednesday alone, 94 immigrants pleaded guilty and were sentenced, the most sentences in a single day in this northern Iowa district, according to Robert L. Phelps, the clerk of court.

Mr. Arnold, the immigration agent, said the criticism of the proceedings was “the usual spate of false allegations and baseless rumors.”

The large number of criminal cases was remarkable because immigration violations generally fall under civil statutes. Until now, relatively few immigrants caught in raids have been charged with federal crimes like identity theft or document fraud.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

IDF Kills Gazan During Karni Protest--Jerusalem Post

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1211434082573&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter

A Palestinian was killed Thursday in a Gaza protest demanding an end to the Israeli blockade, Palestinians reported.

Gunshots pierced the air as thousands of Gazans gathered at the Karni cargo crossing and IDF troops fired tear gas to keep the protesters at bay. Dr. Moaiya Hassanain of the Gaza Health Ministry said one person was killed by gunfire and 16 others, including three children, suffered gunshot wounds.

The IDF said troops opened fire when demonstrators approached the border fence, believing the movement to be terror related.

The soldiers were on high level following the attempted terror attack earlier Thursday morning, in which an Islamic Jihad suicide bomber driving a truck loaded with four tons of explosives tried to ram the Erez crossing.

"You will fall, your corrupt state will fall," the crowd chanted at Karni. Some of the protesters climbed electrical poles to hoist Hamas flags, and a song predicting the "Zionists' death" played in the background.

"No one can stop the volcano," the lyrics went.

IDF tanks rumbled into Gaza from the Israeli side of the passage, and bulldozers leveled farmland in the area so terrorists couldn't hide. Plumes of black smoke climbed into the sky after protesters set tires alight.

Separately, a 62-year-old Palestinian civilian was shot and killed in central Gaza on Thursday morning, according to Hassanain. The IDF said it had no soldiers in the vicinity and the circumstances of the man's death remained unclear.

Acidified Ocean Water Rising Up Nearly 100 Years Earlier Than Scientists Predicted

End portion below; whole thing here: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2004431933_webacidocean22m.html

Since the Industrial Revolution, when humans began pumping massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the oceans have absorbed 525 billion tons of the greenhouse gas, Feely estimates. That's about a third of the man-made emissions during that time.

By reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the oceans have blunted the temperature rise due to global warming. But they've suffered for that service, with a more than 30 percent increase in acidity.

Until now, researchers believed most of the acidified water was confined to the deep oceans.

But during ship-based surveys last year, Feely and his colleagues found the natural upwelling that occurs along the West Coast each spring was pulling the acidified water up onto the continental shelf.

"This is another example where what's happening in the natural world seems to be happening much faster than what our climate models predict," said Carnegie Institution climate scientist Ken Caldeira, whose work suggested it would be nearly 100 years before acidified water was common along the West Coast.

And there's worse to come, the scientists warn.

The acidified water upwelling along the coast today was last exposed to the atmosphere about 50 years ago, when carbon-dioxide levels were much lower than they are now. That means the water that will rise from the depths over the coming decades will have absorbed more carbon dioxide, and will be even more acidic.

"We've got 50 years' worth of water that's already left the station and is on our way to us," study co-author Hales said. "Each one of those years is going to be a little bit more corrosive."

Some creatures, like jellyfish, actually thrive in more acid waters. Adult mussels have a protective coating that may protect their shells.

But many other species are likely to suffer, including commercially important fish like pollock and salmon, which could see their food supply diminish.

"I think this is a red flag for us, because it's right at our doorstep on the West Coast," said Victoria Fabry, a biological oceanographer at California State University San Marcos who was not involved with the study. "It's telling us that we really need more monitoring to figure out what's going on."

Losing Jerusalem First--Lawrence of Cyberia

Very interesting idea.
Whole article, from Lawrence of Cyberia, below:
I'm not a big fan of initiatives designed to "shake things up" in Palestinian/Israeli negotiations. In such a volatile situation, initiatives with no clearly defined endgame tend to lead to some place other than what was intended, and it's usually a worse place than where things started from or were supposed to end up. Another reason for trying to make progress within the status quo, no matter how sucky and lop-sided it may be, is that the I/P status quo is not easily reconfigured. Trying to get everybody working off the same page is like trying to herd cats. The Arab League vision of a two state solution might look different from the two state solution of the former Likudniks at the head of the Israeli government, but it is no mean feat that both of them are actually talking in terms of a two state solution. It took decades to build even the current degree of consensus, and that makes me a bit wary of jumping on the bandwagon that says the two state solution is dead, but never mind because the default is the binational state. I'm not convinced that in the absence of a two state solution the binational state is the default alternative to the status quo; I think other far less attractive alternatives await the failure of the two state model, that should maybe make us think long and hard before giving up on it.

Having said all that, you have to admit the two state solution is looking sickly. The late Elias Freij, formerly mayor of Bethlehem and one of the first Palestinian leaders to call publicly for a two state solution, warned at the very outset of the peace process that you simply can't have a two state solution if one of the states takes all the land. He said that 16 years ago, and the settlements have ballooned dramatically since then. In fact, if there is one thing we have learned for sure just since Annapolis, it is that Israel will not stop colonizing the West Bank eg here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. You can argue whether Olmert wants to stop settlement expansion but can't because his coalition will collapse, or whether he really doesn't want to stop and is simply following the example of his predecessors and using negotiations as a cover for expansion. But it doesn't really matter. The end result is that Israel will not stop colonizing the West Bank. And you still can't have a two state solution when one state has taken all the land. So perhaps this is after all a good moment to shake things up, if only to give Israelis pause to consider - before they definitively flush away the two state solution - whether they really like the alternatives any better.

Several senior PLO officials have commented lately that in view of the apparently impending failure of Bush's "vision" of a two state agreement before he leaves office, Palestinians are "considering all their options". There have been suggestions that for Abu Mazen these options might include resignation, or a return to armed resistance, or calling "time" on a peace process that Israel clearly does not intend to ever lead to independence by dissolving the Palestinian Authority and forcing Israel to take formal responsibility for governing the millions of Palestinians it already exercises de facto control over.

The Palestinians have other options too, such as nonviolent mass actions (nonviolent on the Palestinian side at least), and making use of the limited access they have to the Israeli electoral process. And who among us could object to that? After all, bringing democracy to the Arab masses is the whole purpose of our current engagement with the Middle East, so where better to start than with the Arab masses under the rule of our friend and ally, Israel? [1]

The obvious difficulty in changing the Palestinians' situation through the electoral system is that most Palestinians can't vote in Israeli elections. Jewish Israelis can vote in national-level elections regardless of where they live in Israel or the Occupied Territories, but when it comes to the Palestinian population, Israel suddenly finds a use for the Green Line. Zionists might like to call all the land from the Jordan to the Mediterranean "Israel", but they absolutely can't afford to call all the people who live there "Israelis", because sooner rather than later the majority of those people - being Palestinian - will simply vote Israel free of Zionism. So the Palestinian people within the Green Line are allowed to have the vote (seeing as they have been so ethnically reduced by expulsion in 1948 and 1967 that they can't significantly change their situation by voting anyway), while those in the Territories don't get to vote for the government that actually rules over them, but instead vote for an ersatz government in Ramallah that issues postage stamps and collects garbage. But even under the current Separate But Equal electoral system, there are possibilities for Palestinians to participate imaginatively in the electoral system, in ways that give a sneak preview of what a genuinely representative democracy in Israel-Palestine is going to look like.

Perhaps the most practical possibility is the one proposed a couple of weeks ago by Walid Awad, who pointed out that there is one area in particular where a high proportion of Palestinians in the population means that a united Arab vote has the potential to make a striking statement, and that is - despite every effort to dislodge the Palestinian population through the racist application of planning laws and systematic under-investment in services to the eastern sector - Jerusalem. In illegally-annexed East Jerusalem, Palestinian residents have the right to vote in Israeli elections at the municipal level. So far, they have chosen not to exercise that right, but Awad suggests the elections of November 2008 might be a good time for them to start:
Should Israel persist in its current anti-peace policies, causing the collapse of President Abbas' Authority by the end of 2008, or early 2009, Palestinians, as many do now, will turn to the apparently unavoidable option and demand a one state solution for two equal peoples.

It is possible that a start in this direction could begin in November when the Jerusalem municipality council elections are due to take place. The 250,000 Palestinians in Arab East Jerusalem eligible to vote in the municipal elections may make a (u) turn and decide to participate in the elections, casting their votes for representatives of their own on the Jerusalem municipality city council. If the Palestinian leadership so choose, Palestinian Jerusalemites could constitute one third of the municipal council board. The implications of such a move are wide-ranging and will have consequences. Let's not forget that up to 1948, the vast majority of Jerusalem mayors were Palestinian Arabs. The last Palestinian mayor of Arab East Jerusalem was forced to vacate his position by Israel's occupation troops in June 1967.

Opportunities should not be missed. This applies equally to both Israelis and Palestinians.


-- Missing the opportunity for a two state solution; by Walid M. Awad, Ma'an News, 23 Apr 2008.
Awad is right that Israelis might well find some pause for thought in seeing one-third of the seats in their "undivided and eternal capital" held by Palestinians, but I think his idea has even bigger implications than he suggests. Because the population of Jerusalem is interesting not only due to its comparatively high proportion of Palestinian Arabs, but also because of the unusual divide in the composition of its Jewish Israeli residents. Compared to the rest of (secular, Zionist) Israel, the Jewish population of Jerusalem is disproportionately Religious and, as a result, it is disproportionately non-Zionist.

Already in 2003, Moshe Amirav (former Likud City Council member for Jerusalem, and subsequently director of the Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya College) noted the interesting fact that: Jerusalem is gradually losing its Zionist and national character. The non-Zionist haredim and the Arabs have for several years been the majority. These political processes reduce the political-Zionist center (the Labor and Likud parties) and strengthen the margins - the haredim. In the last elections haredim seized all positions of political power in the city, including mayor. They hold all the important portfolios. The haredi community does not hide its goal of turning Jerusalem into a "holy city" free from the influence of secular Israel. The continued growth of the haredi community (from 20 percent a decade ago to 30 percent today) ensures its cultural hegemony in a city that is no longer Zionist. [2]

So the non-Zionist majority in the areas under Israeli rule might not yet be able to democratically express its will on a national level, but in Jerusalem municipality at least there is a non-Zionist majority that has the vote. How appealing does a non-Zionist local government for the "eternal and undivided" capital sound to the average Jewish Israeli? Better yet, how about a non-Zionist local government which, thanks to the divided Jewish vote, is led by an Arab mayor? Amirav continues:
Were they willing, the Arabs could, as early as 2008, control the capital's municipal council and elect an Arab mayor...

The growth rate of the city's Arabs is 3.5 percent today, while the growth rate of the Jewish residents is only 1.5 percent. The continuation of current trends will lead within 25 years to an Arab majority in Jerusalem. Actually, the Arabs can, in the coming election, already become the ruling party and elect an Arab mayor. An organized vote by the Arab minority, which comprises 33 percent today, can give it a majority of over 50 percent in the city council as early as 2008.

The scenarios I describe above have been explored for years by researchers and Jerusalem experts. Our conclusion was and still is, even more resolutely: If we don't divide Jerusalem, we are going to lose it.

Of course, in 2003 Amirav was describing a purely hypothetical situation, because everyone knows of course that the Arabs of East Jerusalem don't recognize Israel's annexation of their city, and don't participate in the electoral process that springs from it. Enter Walid Awad...

The interesting thing is that Walid M. Awad is not some pseudonymous blogger engaged in idle speculation. He's a former aide to Mahmoud Abbas, who currently serves as spokesman for the Central Media Commission in Ramallah. When senior, well-connected officials from Fatah, the last bastion of the two state solution on the PA side, start telling you the nuts and bolts of how the binational state of Israel-Palestine will be created, it is safe to assume that the Palestinians - whose military inferiority leads us to (mistakenly) believe they have no choice but to cling to the "peace process" no matter how phony we make it - really are considering all their options, including options we never thought they had.

Footnotes:

[1] I am being ironic here.
[2] Divide Jerusalem, Or Lose It by Moshe Amirav; Jerusalem Post, 16 Dec 2003. (Archived, subscription req'd. Or read it here).
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"You Can’t Stop People from Living"--Palestine Monitor

Sometimes men have to lift their shirts and everyone, even the smallest children, must walk through the container.

A photostory about the ongoing annexation of the Jordan Valley

http://palestinemonitor.org/spip....php? article425

found on Palestinian Pundit

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Obama: He Wants Change

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I Declared My Independence--Cynthia McKinney at Al Nakba Rally 5-16-08

19/05/08 "ICH" -- -- On my birthday last year, I declared my independence from a national leadership that, through its votes in support of the war machine, is now complicit in war crimes, torture, crimes against humanity, and crimes against the peace.I declared my independence from every bomb dropped, every veteran maimed, and every child killed. I noted that the Democratic leadership in Congress had failed to restore this country to Constitutional rule by repealing the Patriot Acts, the Secret Evidence Act, and the Military Commissions Act. That it had aided and abetted illegal spying against the American people. And that it took impeachment off the table.

In addition, the Democratic Congressional leadership failed to promote the economic integrity of this country by not repealing the Bush tax cuts. They failed to institute a livable wage, Medicare-for- all health care, and gave even more money to the Pentagon as it misuses our hard-earned dollars.

We can add to that list, too, an abject failure to stand up for human rights and dignity.

If the Democratic and Republican leadership won't respect the right of return for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita survivors, how can we expect them to champion the right of return for Palestinians?

If this country's leadership tolerates the wanton murder of unarmed black and Latino men by law enforcement officials—extra-judicial killings—how can we expect them to stop or even speak out against targeted assassinations in the Middle East?

If the Democratic and Republican leadership accept ethnic cleansing in this country by way of gentrification and predatory lending, why should we expect them to put an end to it in Palestine?

If the leadership of this country impedes self-determination for native peoples in this country, why should we expect them to support indigenous rights for anyone abroad?

And sadly, the sensationalist corporate media would rather trick us into thinking that reporting on a pastor, a former Vice Presidential nominee, and a former cable TV magnate constitutes this country's much-needed discussion of its own apartheid past and present, so why should we expect an honest discussion of apartheid and Zionism?

I hope by now it is clear. Our values will never be reflected in public policy as long as our political parties and our country remain hijacked. Hijacked by false patriots who usurp the applause of the people and all the while betray our values.

I've decided that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans will operate any longer as business as usual—not in my name. That Democrats and Republicans will use my tax dollars and betray my values, not one day longer—not in my name. That neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have earned my most precious political asset—my vote. And that now is the time to do some things I've never done before in order to have some things I've never had before. And so here today, I declare my independence from weapons transfers: including Apache Helicopters; F'16s; sidewinder, hellfire, and Stinger missiles.

I declare my independence from occupation, demolished homes, political prisoners, and babies dying at checkpoints.

I declare my independence from UN vetoes, expropriated land, stolen resources, and the installation of puppet regimes.

I declare my independence from all forms of dehumanization and am not afraid to speak truth to power. And I am happy to join with peace-loving people around the world who know that there can be no peace without justice.

Let us never tire in our work for justice. Thank you.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article19958.htm

A short Homage to a Palestinian Woman...--from Layla Anwar

From Arab Woman's Blues
May 19, 2008

I've been watching one of my favorite programs called "Ziiyara Khassa" - A Private/Special Visit, by Sami Klayb on Al-Jazeera.

Today's guest was a Palestinian woman, born in 1951, an ex-PLO member. Her name is Aida Saad. She now lives in Dubai, originally from Gaza.

Aida Saad though in her late 50's, has this amazing young spirit that shines through...

I could still see the 17 year old girl in her, who protested the Israelis and threw a grenade on a soldiers convoy, wounding four. She said she could no longer tolerate seeing their homes being demolished by Israeli bulldozers. She wanted to do something.

She was sentenced to 20 years of prison. She describes her years in Israeli jails.

She was subjected to what she called "very brutal interrogation techniques", she was also was badly tortured, physically/sexually abused and insulted...

The Israeli criminals did not content themselves with that, they also brought in her brother and tortured him in front of her. She said she could take it, but the day they brought her own mother in, to witness the torture of her children - that day Aida broke down. She could not see her mother suffer that way.

She describes the Jail. She describes the long corridors, with small rooms, each room specifically designated for a torture method. She says"one was for water, the other for electricity, the other with a small bench, one with hooks..."

One day she was called from her prison cell to identify a member of the PLO, her elder, by the name of Abu Nabil. She said she could not recognize him, "his face had lost all expression due to torture" and confirms "I frankly did not recognize him."

So they tortured Abu Nabil even more and in front of her. They stripped him naked, and had a thick stick, already covered with blood and another soldier was holding a piece of bread. So they asked her again,"Do you recognize this man?" and she replied "I swear, I don't."

So they asked Abu Nabil to go on all four, shoved the stick in his rectum and made him crawl like a dog and fetch the piece of bread held by the soldier. She still could not recognize him. So they tore her shirt revealing her nudity in front of him, but she still could not recognize him. He was "totally changed" she said.

She then recalls her years in prison, the complicity and the courage she derived from being with her female inmates. She said that the prison years developed in her a sense of fortitude, of defiance, she would have never acquired otherwise.

After 10 years and with outside help she was released along with a dozen others.

They were kept blindfolded for several days before their release and were taken to a special plane and were told they will never return back to Palestine.

Before boarding the plane, the Israeli criminals gave each some "water to drink" and forced each detainee to drink it. Aida took a sip and felt something gluey stick to her tongue. She pretended she was drinking this "water". Her other mates drank it all.

She later recalls that when they landed, all of them had "white lips" because they all drank the "water." She also adds that all of them later died of cancer except her. She did develop a brain tumor but received prompt medical treatment for it.
She is sure it was due to this "water" they forced them to drink.

She ended up in Libya and from Libya went to Syria where she was granted the Syrian nationality. Then from there she headed to Lebanon. But inter-rivalry inside the PLO earned her a few enemies. She decided to leave everything behind when one PLO leader told her " All your struggles and we can finish you off with two bullets only..." This is when she left and finally landed in Dubai.

She married, bore a girl which she called Palestine, and shortly after divorced, raising her only daughter alone. Her daughter is now married with one girl called Aida and lives in Canada.

Aida Saad was given "money and gold" by Sheikh Zayed of Abu-Dhabi and by other associations who would run events for Palestine, but she always refused the money and the gold and gave it all back to the cause - the Palestinian cause and its people.

Today, Aida Saad lives in a tiny appartment. She says that no one can get over the nightmares of torture, that she has no means to visit her only daughter, that her best friend, the Palestinian-Therese Halzon, who was also with her in prison and who also resisted the occupation, now lives in exactly the same circumstances - no money and forgotten...

Three years ago, Aida Saad remarried. She met an Iraqi artist who said he "fell in love with her strength and devotion to the Palestinian cause."He too, is in exile...

She concludes this Special Visit by saying : "I regret nothing, everything I did, I did out of Love for my people and for Palestine".