My group is leaving Gaza over the next couple of days. A few of us don’t want to leave. We feel connected to the place, and the people have been universally welcoming. They all say the same thing. They want to be part of the world, their cause has been cast away by the world.A number of us feel guilty that we half-believed the propaganda about Gaza. I did myself. I thought it was a fearful place and I was taking my life in my hands. One friend is angry at herself for worrying about her safety constantly before she left. Now it feels egotistical next to these people's safety. John Ging of the U.N. said that if the people were really indoctrinating their children with hatred in the schools, then how come we have been safe everywhere we go?
We had a meeting of the group tonight to go over tomorrow's schedule, and someone asked for people to reflect and Susan Johnson, whose picture is below, spoke about how wrenching it was to meet so many intelligent people whose largest desire is to live a normal life.
“I’ve done work in prison,” she said. “This is worse than being in prison. How people can be so cruel to other people-- I don’t understand, I just don’t understand it. I can understand how people in the United States don’t know it’s as bad as it is. That's because of the press, and we’re probably at this point the best hope these people have for getting the word out. I look on that as a really big responsibility. I don’t want to let them down. I’m not ready to leave.”
Later I asked Susan why Gaza is worse than the prison she'd worked in, Graterford, in Pennsylvania. She said that the prisoners get along with the guards generally; they all understand the system and the routine and the rules. Here, she said, the guards are miles away. They drop leaflets or white phosphorus. She went on, When a bird's in a cage, it doesn't try to fly out; it knows it's in a cage and accepts the fact. But these people are in a cage and they can't fully believe it. They're like birds with their wings cropped who are walking around on the ground and keep flapping on to a branch trying to fly.
Susan and I were both disturbed by the meeting we'd had in the afternoon with a bunch of students who can't leave to go to schools that have given them scholarships overseas. They're incredibly appealing kids; I'm going to be putting up some videos of them in days to come and telling their stories. Seven of them came to our hotel just to talk to us. None of them was angry at us; they've suffered a lot though, and now and then the stark frustration and fear played on their faces. Hazem Abukaresh, below, told me how important it is to get his Ph.D. in computer science before he's 30. He's 24, and has been stopped at the border four times now--just trying to get out, to Europe, China, Malaysia, and Jordan, where schools were expecting him.
"Those kids just want to meet people, that's all. They want to go places. And they can't go anywhere. They graduate from college and then they can't go anywhere."
Susan asked me for my reflections. I told her I felt bad about my own prejudice against these people ahead of time, and for being so concerned with my own Jewishness, the Jewish future, and the Jewish image in the world. Here that concern feels stupidly selfish. The people of Gaza are persecuted. Full stop.
For me to agonize about my Jewishness when I know about the degree of persecution is actually indulgent and a dodge. Yes this place touches on Jewishness and the important issue of how to reimagine Jewishness, to recover it from this horror, but as my roommate Sammer, an Arab-American, points out, the work ahead of us is political now, trying to move American minds, American policies. A big part of that is in the Jewish community, of course; and I can't wait to get home and begin to tell people what I saw here, the cruelties perpetrated in the name of the Jewish people; and let Hazem tell his story for himself.
That's down the road. I have a couple of days left. I'm going to spend that time listening to Gazans...
Sunday, May 31, 2009
I went to Wichita in 2001 to defend the Tiller Clinic. I'm so sad to hear this has happened. Pandagon blog expresses my sentiments well. Linda
Dr. George Tiller, whose clinic is quite possibly the most picketed and protested in the country, has been murdered while at services in his Lutheran church. So far, there’s no suspects caught, but police are looking for a powder blue Taurus. Odds are pretty strong the murderer is a forced childbirth terrorist, out to kill the doctor who focused his practice on providing therapeutic abortions to women later in their pregnancy than most abortion providers can or will service.
Dr. Tiller was a brave man and a real hero. He was already shot once in 1993, but despite the ongoing threat of violence, he continued to work diligently to provide abortion services to women who are often in the worst possible situation, facing down the termination of a pregnancy that was being eagerly planned for, until things went terribly wrong. If a woman has a later term therapeutic abortion---be it because it was a wanted pregnancy, she has serious mental health issues, or she is a child victim of rape---it’s rarely easy on her mentally or physically. Dr. Tiller’s clinic was renowned for the thoughtful patient support to help women get through what is a very difficult time---counseling, support groups, religious services for the lost baby if you desire.
He didn’t have to do this. He didn’t have to put his life and his family’s life on the line every day to tend to women going through a little-understood trauma. He didn’t have to go through a sea of protesters who hate women so much they actually think that women are lying about their problems so they “get” to have later term abortions. He didn’t have to suffer through relentless legal abuse at the hands of fundamentalist misogynists who obtain political power by exploiting voter ignorance about abortion. He didn’t have to make himself the target for this murder to help women, but for whatever reason, he rose to this challenge, and that makes him a real hero.
Condolences to George Tiller’s family.
"We've accomplished quite a few things, and I think the most important one is to cement the principle that the path to peace is through negotiations and not through violence." These were the "encouraging" words modestly uttered by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during a joint press conference with then US president Bill Clinton. The date was 2 October 1996.
In the occupied Palestinian territories, the situation then seemed incredibly grim. But there was no Israeli wall. The settlements were smaller in size and population. Gaza was besieged, but not to the point of total suffocation.
Recently, Prime Minister Netanyahu paid a highly anticipated visit to the White House, on 18 May 2009, this time meeting with President Barack Obama. "I share with you very much the desire to move the peace process forward. And I want to start peace negotiations with the Palestinians. I would like to broaden the circle of peace to include others in the Arab world," said Netanyahu.
One need not emphasise the harm inflicted upon the Palestinian people during those years. The violence, which Netanyahu seemingly decried in 1996, visited Palestinians countless times. Starting 27 December 2008, and for 22 frightening days, much of Gaza was decimated by the Israeli army using US weapons, killing and wounding thousands. There is now a giant wall, hundreds of miles in length, snaking around the West Bank, separating Palestinians from their land, livelihoods and any possibility of a true statehood. There are Jewish settlements, joined by Jewish-only roads that physically fragment the occupied West Bank. All are illegal under international law, as are the brutal attacks on and the siege of Gaza, and as is the Israeli military occupation altogether.
We are told that Obama is serious about peace in the Middle East. Maybe he is. But even such assumed seriousness might not be able to change the disturbing pattern that forced Clinton before him, according to former top Middle East adviser Aaron David Miller, to utter the following words: "Who the f*** does he think he is? Who's the f***ing superpower here?"
In recent meetings between the two leaders, Obama clearly highlighted his country's commitment to a Palestinian state and, surprisingly, made mention of Gaza during the press conference. But the words of praise of Israel's greatness were at an all time high. "Obama talked about the 'extraordinary relationship [with Israel], the special relationship... the stalwart ally... the historical ties, emotional ties [and] the only democracy in the Middle East... a source of admiration and inspiration for the American people'," observed commentator George Hishmeh.
Following his meeting with Obama, Netanyahu made a visit to the US Congress where he conferred with the "great friends of Israel". On his visit to Capitol Hill, he met House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader John Boehner. The Israeli leader also met members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Jewish legislators. He was given the same exceptional treatment enjoyed by other Israeli leaders. Committee chairman Senator John Kerry was "encouraged by a number of things" Netanyahu had said. Following meeting with Congressional leaders, Netanyahu observed, as if breaking some unexpected news, there is "an American consensus" regarding "the special relationship we have between Israel and the United States".
The game is on. Netanyahu will once again try to outrun the president of the United States by rallying Congress behind him in preparation for any possible confrontation with Obama's administration. Obama, on the other hand, will attempt, however bashfully, to assert a new direction in US foreign policy through tempting Israel by embracing harsher Iran policies and pressuring the Arabs to normalise with the Jewish state in exchange for Israel's mere promise of moving the peace process forward.
In 1996, Netanyahu spoke of the immediate danger facing Israel, in reference to Iraq. Now Iraq, which had no weapons of mass destruction after all, is no longer an "existential threat" to the state of Israel.
And now the Israeli leader has set his sights on Iran. "The challenge is the potential arming of Iran with nuclear weapons capabilities. That is a great danger to all of us... We have to do this in tandem... I was very encouraged to learn that this is the American policy. We're going to try to do it together, because if we do it together we'll get a lot further, a lot faster."
It might not take 13 more years before Netanyahu's wishes come true -- before getting a lot further, a lot faster, ie unleashing a war against Iran. But mark my words, Netanyahu, as well as those before him, as well as those after him, have no intentions of making peace with the Palestinians. He is simply waving a carrot before Obama to get what Israel wants, an attack on Iran. It's as simple as that.
If Obama hesitates in confronting the new Israeli agenda, and if the US Congress continues to treat Israel's security obsessions as top American priorities, there is no telling what the Middle East will look like the next time Netanyahu arrives in Washington to meet a new American president.
Friday, May 29, 2009
But can Israel's demand [recognition as a Jewish State] be justified? A useful lens to examine its claim is the fundamental legal principle that there is no right without a remedy. If Israel has a "right to exist as a Jewish state," then what can it legitimately do if Palestinians living under its control "violate" this right by having "too many" non-Jewish babies? Can Israel expel non-Jews, fine them, strip them of citizenship or limit the number of children they can have? It is impossible to think of a "remedy" that does not do outrageous violence to universal human rights principles.
What if we apply Israel's claim to the United States? Because of the rapid growth of the Latino population in the past decade, Texas and California no longer have white majorities. Could either state declare that it has "a right to exist as a white-majority state" and take steps to limit the rights of non-whites? Could the United States declare itself officially a Christian nation and force Jews, Muslims or Hindus to pledge allegiance to a flag that bears a cross? While such measures may appeal to a tiny number of extremists, they would be unthinkable to anyone upholding twenty-first-century constitutional principles.
But Israeli leaders propose precisely such odious measures.
Already, Israel bans its citizens who marry non-citizen Palestinians from living in the country -- a measure human rights activists have compared with the anti-miscegenation laws that once existed in Virginia and other states. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has long advocated that the nearly 1.5 million Palestinians who are citizens of Israel be "transferred" from the country in order to maintain its Jewish majority.
Recently, Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party has sponsored or supported several bills aimed at further curtailing the rights of non-Jews. One requires all citizens, including Palestinian Muslims and Christians, to swear allegiance to Israel as a Jewish state. Another proposes to punish anyone who commemorates the Nakba (the name Palestinians give to their forced dispossession in the months before and after the state of Israel was established) with up to three years in prison. Ironically, Lieberman is an immigrant who moved to Israel from Moldova three decades ago, while the people he seeks to expel and silence have lived on the land since long before May 1948.
And as Obama continues to remind us of America's "shared values" with Israel, another proposed bill passed its first reading in the Knesset this week. According to the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, the law would prescribe "one year in prison for anyone speaking against Israel's right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state" -- making it a thought crime to advocate that Israel should be a democratic, nonracial state of all its citizens. [see blog entry below -- linda]
It would be sad indeed if the first African-American president of the United States were to defend in Israel exactly the kind of institutionalized bigotry the civil rights movement defeated in this country, a victory that made his election possible.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
These lefty mailing lists are a mixed bag. The same list that embroiled itself recently in a purplefaced cunno-machia brought me yesterday this nice bit of news:'1 in 4 Israelis would consider leaving country if Iran gets nukes'One of the comrades promptly came back with the only possible response:
By Ofri Ilani, Haaretz Correspondent
Some 23 percent of Israelis would consider leaving the country if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon, according to a poll conducted on behalf of the Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University.Here's to Iran obtaining FOUR nukes!Well, I wish I'd said that. All that's left for me is a bit of pedantic niggling.
It's well known that Marxists are overoptimistic, and mostly no good at arithmetic -- even the Old Man labored over his long division. These things combine multiplicatively, not additively.
So scaring away three-quarters of the Israeli population would require about 5.3 Iranian nukes ((1 - 0.23)5.3 ≈ 0.25). Getting the population scared down to 10% of its present size would require almost 9 Iranian nukes -- a hair over 8.8.
Still, we're on the right track. Contributions to the Iranian nuclear program can be sent directly to me. I'll see that they get into the right hands.
Portion below; whole article (via Uruknet.info) here: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10548.shtml
The Abu Halima family's agony began when the family was taking shelter from Israeli missiles in the foyer of their two-floor home in the Jabaliya area of the northern Gaza Strip on 11 January when two white phosphorous bombs struck. The father of the family, Saad Ala Abu Halima was instantly killed along with his three sons, Abed Raheem (14), Zaid (10) and Hamza (8), along with his only daughter, one-year-old Shahed.
Saad's wife, Umm Muhammad, and her 20-year-old daughter-in-law, Ghada, were left with severe burns -- unable to run away or call for help. Meanwhile, Ghada's two-year-old daughter Farah and Umm Muhammad's youngest son, four-year-old Ali, were injured and watched their family members perish in horror.
By the time Ghada's husband reached the house, his brother Ahmad and some relatives had only minutes ago rushed into the house, carrying away the dead sons and their father on a cart, seeking for an ambulance help. Ahmad (Umm Muhammad's son) said: "By the time we heard the blast, my relatives and I took my father and brothers on a cart, thinking we could save their lives. I didn't know that they all were dead by the time we arrived! We were looking for an ambulance but an Israeli tank appeared in front of us; the Israeli soldier who got out of it ordered us to leave the bodies and run for our lives ... while running away I looked back to see him pouring down sand on them."
As a Palestinian, I strongly support the establishment of an independent Palestinian State, however, a state with complete power and not under the Israeli occupation and the dictates of the US and foreign countries. As a journalist, I am obliged to carry the moral and ethical values of Journalism. To carry the voice of those Palestinians whose voices do not reach the international public opinion, of the majority of Palestinians who are tired of political lies and the liars who continue saying and repeating “the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian President, the Prime Minister, the Palestinian government, Hamas and Fatah …” and other invented and self-adjudicated names and titles which never fit the truth, the facts on the ground, and more important, to the will of the majority of Palestinians.
In Ramallah and Gaza there is nothing more than Israeli occupation and some Palestinian political parties who receive some support and bribes from foreign countries who only support the continuation of the Israeli occupation under varied pretexts. This is what we the Palestinians see, think and believe.
Monday, May 25, 2009
BRUSSELS, (PIC)-- The "Hope" convoy which has travelled from Italy to Egypt by sea has finally entered the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border after reaching an agreement with the Egyptian authorities.
Coordinator of the convoy, Rami Abdu, said in a press statement that the 40 trucks including 12 ambulances entered the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing after reaching an agreement with the Egyptian authorities to allow all the trucks in and only 22 sympathisers including a number of European lawmakers.
Abdu added that in addition to the ambulances the trucks carried special equipment to help disabled people and much needed medicines and medical supplies, noting that 12 European lawmakers from Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Ireland, and the UK accompanied the convoy which was led by Italian Senator Fernando Rossi.
The convoy started its journey from Italy by sea early May. It was supposed to unload at Alexandria and continue by land to the Gaza Strip, by the Egyptian authorities diverted the ship to Port Said where it was allowed to unload.
Silence breaks upon each thought in passing
marked by the quiet bugling of despair -
as we pause to raise our eyes to the heap
of the dead silence ever amassing
can we not be led to scream?
To so rage
upon our chests as if we could exhume
thoughts lost in the welter of dust and time?
Will we continue to deploy, engage,
and destroy our innocent thoughts?
for their quiet passing?
and yet another dragging toward their tomb.
Those shamelessly servile to fear will reap
nothing, for they sow nothing to the air
and mute will they remain until they die.
FROM GI SPECIAL via Danny Schecter, The News Dissector
Sunday, May 24, 2009
-- Joseph Levine, History Matters; Boston Review, Sept/Oct 2008.
Photo (click to enlarge): Speech bubbles added to existing advertisements on Tel Aviv bus stops remind Israelis that their Independence Day is inextricably linked to the dispossession of the Palestinians:
"I Almost Forgot that the state of was built on the remains of 530 Palestinian villages.”
“I Almost Forgot that Independence Day is Nakba Day”
“I Almost Forgot that Independence Park was built on a Palestinian cemetery.”
“I Almost Forgot that Charles Clore Park was built on the remains of the Manshiye neighborhood.”
Portion below; whole article here: http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/gaza-meet-afghanistan/
What does the new U.S. strategy imply? It means, of course, being militarily agile, matching the insurgents’ hit and run tactics, and killing their leaders, when and where possible. But it also means the deliberate use of disproportionate force, even at the cost of massive civilian casualties.
The key idea is to make life so intolerably dangerous and harsh that the local population will desert the insurgents, and that both will lose the will to fight. That is the theory behind the strategy.
Israel adopted a similar counter-insurgency strategy in its war against Hamas in Gaza last December/January. It did not, however, have the desired effect since Hamas remains very much in control of Gaza, and may even have increased its legitimacy. The UN and several human rights organisations criticised Israel for the large-scale killing of civilians and the massive destruction of homes, mosques, schools, factories and agricultural land. But the use of heavy weapons against civilian targets was no accident. It was a deliberate strategy, although never officially acknowledged. The resort to disproportionate force to overwhelm the enemy, and make him despair of ever winning, is an essential aspect of counter-insurgency strategy.
What America and the Pakistan Army are doing is not unlike what Israel attempted at Gaza. America’’s use of a Hellfire missile strikes by pilotless drones is a typical counter-insurgency technique. President Karzai has pleaded with the U.S. to stop the strikes because of the cost in civilian lives. ‘How can you expect a people who keep losing their children to remain friendly?’ he asked in a taped interview with American television. But General Jones objected: ‘We can’t fight with one hand tied behind our back… We have to have a full complement of our offensive military power when we need it.’ What he did not – and could not – say was that terrorizing and killing of civilians is part of the counter-insurgency strategy.
Afghan sources said 147 civilians were killed by U.S. airstrikes last week in the western province of Farah, and that many more suffered severe burns, as if from phosphorus bombs – another resemblance with Israel’s war in Gaza. The U.S. claimed the figure was exaggerated.
Under American pressure, the Pakistan Army has also deliberately resorted to the disproportionate use of force, launching this month a sudden and massive assault on the Swat valley, which is said to have so far killed 700 militants. It has also forced hundreds of thousands of destitute civilians to run for their lives, thereby creating a vast and virtually unmanageable refugee problem.
via Information Clearinghouse
May 23, 2009 "Counterpunch" -- The revelation this month in GQ magazine that Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary embellished top-secret wartime memos with quotations from the Bible prompts a question. Why did he believe he could influence President Bush by that means?
The answer may lie in an alarming story about George Bush’s Christian millenarian beliefs that has yet to come to light.
In 2003 while lobbying leaders to put together the Coalition of the Willing, President Bush spoke to France’s President Jacques Chirac. Bush wove a story about how the Biblical creatures Gog and Magog were at work in the Middle East and how they must be defeated.
In Genesis and Ezekiel Gog and Magog are forces of the Apocalypse who are prophesied to come out of the north and destroy Israel unless stopped. The Book of Revelation took up the Old Testament prophesy:
“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle … and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”
Bush believed the time had now come for that battle, telling Chirac:
“This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins”.
The story of the conversation emerged only because the Elysée Palace, baffled by Bush’s words, sought advice from Thomas Römer, a professor of theology at the University of Lausanne. Four years later, Römer gave an account in the September 2007 issue of the university’s review, Allez savoir. The article apparently went unnoticed, although it was referred to in a French newspaper.
The story has now been confirmed by Chirac himself in a new book, published in France in March, by journalist Jean Claude Maurice. Chirac is said to have been stupefied and disturbed by Bush’s invocation of Biblical prophesy to justify the war in Iraq and “wondered how someone could be so superficial and fanatical in their beliefs”.
In the same year he spoke to Chirac, Bush had reportedly said to the Palestinian foreign minister that he was on “a mission from God” in launching the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and was receiving commands from the Lord.
There can be little doubt now that President Bush’s reason for launching the war in Iraq was, for him, fundamentally religious. He was driven by his belief that the attack on Saddam’s Iraq was the fulfilment of a Biblical prophesy in which he had been chosen to serve as the instrument of the Lord.
Many thousands of Americans and Iraqis have died in the campaign to defeat Gog and Magog. That the US President saw himself as the vehicle of God whose duty was to prevent the Apocalypse can only inflame suspicions across the Middle East that the United States is on a crusade against Islam.
There is a curious coda to this story. While a senior at Yale University George W. Bush was a member of the exclusive and secretive Skull & Bones society. His father, George H.W. Bush had also been a “Bonesman”, as indeed had his father. Skull & Bones’ initiates are assigned or take on nicknames. And what was George Bush Senior’s nickname? “Magog”.
Clive Hamilton is a Visiting Professor at Yale University He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes.Jocelyn Rochat, ‘George W. Bush et le Code Ezéchiel’, Allez Savoir!, No. 39, September 2007
I can guarantee what you won't see this holiday weekend are images of the
over one million Iraqi dead. Say we assign, in an arbitrary way for purely
illustrative purposes, an average height of 5 feet for every person killed in Iraq and then lined those people up from head to toe. That gruesome line would stretch from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon -- 950 driving miles up Interstate 5. If we count the Iraqis who have been forced to flee, we would have to go back and forth between L.A. and Portland another four times.
There are obscene amounts of people who have been slaughtered for the US
Profit Driven Military Empire who do not count here in America on any day. People in Vietnam are still dying from the toxins dumped on their country by the US, not to mention the millions who died during that war. Let the carnage escalate in Afghanistan while we protect our personal images by turning a blind eye to Obama's war crimes. Are you going to feel a lump of pride in your bosom when the coffins start to be photographed at Dover for this imperial crime of aggression? Will you look at those flag-draped boxes of the lifeless body of some mother's child and think: "Now, I am free." Is it better to be dead when Obama is president?
A tough, but real, aspect of this all to consider is, how many of the
soldiers buried in coffins in military cemeteries killed or tortured innocent
people as paid goons for Empire? To me, it is deeply and profoundly sad on so many levels. If I have any consolation through all of this, I learned that my son bravely refused to go on the mission that killed him, but he was literally dragged onto the vehicle and was dead minutes later before he was forced to do something that was against his nature and nurture.
Casey will always be my hero but he was a victim of US Imperialism and his
death should bring shame, not pride, as it did not bring freedom to anyone. I
will, of course, mourn his senseless death on Memorial Day as I do everyday.
However, we do not need another day here in America to glorify war which enables the Military Industrial Complex to commit its crimes under the black cloak of "Patriotism."
From Palestine to Africa to South America, our quest for global economic
domination kills, sickens, maims or oppresses people on a daily basis and about
25,000 children per day die of starvation. I am not okay with these facts and I am not proud of my country.
I will spend my reflective time on MD to mourn not only the deaths of so
many people all over the world due to war, but mourn the fact that they are the unseen and uncared for victims of US Empire.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
When: Saturday May 23, Noon - 2:00pm
Where: Westlake Center on 4th & Pine
As this is the Memorial Day weekend, people will be remembering all the fallen soldiers of our various military incursions. For me, the best way to honor their memory is to work to make war obsolete. Ed McCurdy -- back in 1950 -- put it better than I can.
Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream
Last night I had the strangest dream
I'd ever dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war
I dreamed I saw a mighty room
Filled with women and men
And the paper they were signing said
They'd never fight again
And when the paper was all signed
And a million copies made
They all joined hands and bowed their heads
And grateful pray'rs were prayed
And the people in the streets below
Were dancing 'round and 'round
While swords and guns and uniforms
Were scattered on the ground
Last night I had the strangest dream
I'd never dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Portion below; whole article here: http://www.counterpunch.org/mcgovern05222009.html
Are you ready for a scoop that is not a scoop, but that almost no one knows about?
It has to do with an unclassified study published, not by some “liberal” think-tank, but by the Pentagon-appointed U.S. Defense Science Board just two months after the 9/11 Commission Report. That report directly contradicted what Cheney and President Bush had been saying about “why they hate us,” letting the elephant out of the bag and into the room, so to speak:
“Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf States. Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy.”
You didn’t know about that report? Well, maybe this is because of the timing. The Defense Science Board final report was given to Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Sept. 23, 2004, just weeks before the presidential election.
That is a time when presidential candidates and the U.S. Establishment in general are hyper-allergic to discussing how U.S. support for Israeli policies toward the Palestinians encourages the recruitment of anti-American terrorists.
Suppressed, Then Gutted
Bending over backwards to oblige, the FCM suppressed the Defense Science Board findings until after the election. On Nov. 24, 2004, the New York Times, erstwhile “newspaper of record,” did publish a story on the board’s report — but performed some highly interesting surgery.
Thom Shanker of the Times quoted the paragraph beginning with "Muslims do not 'hate our freedom'" (see above), but he or his editors deliberately cut out the following sentence about what Muslims do object to; i.e., U.S. "one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights" and support for tyrannical regimes. The Times did include the sentence that immediately followed the omitted one. In other words, it was not simply a matter of shortening the paragraph. Rather, the offending middle sentence was surgically removed.
Similarly creative editing showed through the Times' reporting in late October 2004 on a videotaped speech by Osama bin Laden. Almost six paragraphs of the story made it onto page one, but the Times saw to it that the key point bin Laden made at the beginning of his presentation was relegated to paragraphs 23 to 25 at the very bottom of page nine.
Buried there was bin Laden's assertion that the idea for 9/11 first germinated after "we witnessed the oppression and tyranny of the American-Israeli coalition against our people in Palestine and Lebanon."
Wading through the drivel in the FCM’s Times and Washington Post on Friday morning, I am hardly surprised that they missed Cheney’s slip about U.S. policy toward Israel being one of the terrorists’ “true sources of resentment.”
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Three British medics began a hunger strike in Egypt today to protest against being refused entry into Gaza for a humanitarian mission.
Their aim is to establish a cardiac surgery unit at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, which currently has no such facility, and to help train medical students and junior doctors there. But the British medics have been denied access to the Palestinian territory at the Rafah crossing since the beginning of May.
Omar Mangoush, a cardiac surgeon at Hammersmith hospital, in London, told guardian.co.uk he had been to the crossing with his colleagues every day since arriving in Egypt on 4 May, only to be told they did not have permission to enter.
"We are on hunger strike until they let us through," he said. "We'll stay [at the crossing] until they let us in. We want to put pressure on the British embassy. We believe if the British embassy wanted us to do this they could exert pressure [on the Egyptian authorities]."
Mangoush said he had been told by the British embassy that it had received a letter from the Egyptian foreign ministry saying the medics' request for access to Gaza had been "postponed".
But he claimed American aid workers had gained entry to Gaza at their first attempt with the support of the US embassy.
Mangoush named the other British medics on hunger strike as Christopher Burns-Cox, a retired consultant, and Kirsty Wong, a nurse at Hammersmith hospital. Another six people are on hunger strike, including three Belgians, he said.
The cardiac surgeon took a month's holiday from work to take part in the mission for the Manchester-based charity Palestine International Medical Aid (PIMA)
"This is very important for us," he said. "There are loads of people with heart disease [in Gaza]. They can't get here [to Egypt], they can't get to Israel. If it's this hard for us to get to, how difficult is it for the Palestinians to get out?"
PIMA's director, Dr Ahmed Almari, said: "It's unbelievable. They're a group of doctors, they went for education and teaching, to set up a cardiac unit. It's unfair and sad that it is only as a result of a hunger strike that anybody pays attention. There's no reason to stop them from crossing."
Egypt has kept the Rafah crossing largely closed since Hamas won the Gaza elections three years ago. One of the main demands of Hamas has been that all crossings into Gaza should be allowed to reopen permanently. A number of aid groups have said the closure of the crossings is contributing to a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Palestinian medical sources reported today that a one-year-old infant died yesterday at a local hospital in Rafah owing to several complications, including pneumonia, as his transfer to a hospital outside of the Gaza Strip was not possible due to the ongoing Israeli siege.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
On 15 May 2009, several hundred [Palestinian] residents of the destroyed Nahr al-Bared Refugee Camp in North Lebanon gathered at the al-Quds mosque to march along the army posts to a construction side in the south of the camp. There, yet another piece of land was flattened and the building of the fifth unit of temporary shelters for displaced families is being prepared.
In their chants, the protesters demanded the return to the old camp and the end of the siege on Nahr al-Bared and the abolishment of the permit system respectively. Abu Tayyeb of the Residents' Committee demanded the immediate stop of the building of the new barracks as long as the reconstruction in the old camp wouldn't start. He further criticized corruption and nepotism in the reconstruction process and asked why the rebuilding of the old camp is constantly being delayed. He hinted at intentions to actually not rebuild the camp and told the crowd: „The laying of the foundation stone on 9 March was nothing but a lie!
Monday, May 18, 2009
Link to original: http://cbs5.com/localwire/22.0.html?type=bcn&item=MEHSERLE-HEARING-baglm
The preliminary hearing for former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle on charges that he murdered an unarmed passenger on New Year's Day began today with tight security and a protest by about 100 people.
The hearing before Alameda County Superior Court Judge C. Don Clay, which is expected to take up to two weeks, will determine whether there is enough evidence to have Mesherle, 27, ordered to stand trial on murder charges for the death of 22-year-old Oscar Grant III, who was shot in the back at the Fruitvale station in Oakland.
The shooting occurred after Mehserle and other BART officers responded to reports that two groups of men were fighting on a train.
Todd Chretien of the Community Council, a group that helped coordinate a protest outside the courthouse where Mehserle's hearing is taking place, said, "Five and a half months ago we all watched Oscar Grant murdered in cold blood on the BART platform, but there's a gap between that event and making sure that justice is done."
Chretien said, "We're here to guarantee that Johannes Mehserle is convicted of first-degree murder."
Legal commentator Michael Cardoza said the presence of the large group of protesters, coupled with massive protests in January that sometimes erupted into violence, could make it easy for Mehserle's lawyers to argue that his trial should be moved away from Alameda County because it will be impossible to get a fair trial here.
"It will be up to the sheriff to make sure that jurors are not intimidated. You can't have jurors who are intimidated by people in the streets," Cardoza said.
Cardoza said he thinks Mehserle's case will be "a fight between second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter," not about whether he's the one who killed Grant.
He said of the case, "This is a what-is-it, not a whodunit."
A judge has issued a gag order in the case, so the attorneys aren't able to comment on the order of witnesses in the preliminary hearing.
Judge Clay is expected to begin the hearing by ruling on a defense motion that asks that the Alameda County District Attorney's office be removed from Mehserle's case, alleging that prosecutors violated state and federal laws, State Bar ethics rules and the U.S. Constitution by trying to get Mehserle to talk to investigators without the knowledge and outside the presence of his attorney.
Cardoza said he thinks one of the key issues in the hearing will be apparently contradictory comments made by Mehserle shortly after the shooting.
Citing legal briefs filed by the district attorney's office, Cardoza said that at one point Mehserle claimed to have fired his gun because he thought that Grant was reaching for a gun but at another point Mehserle said he actually was trying to fire his Taser and fired his gun by mistake.
"Those are two different stories," Cardoza said..
He added, "I don't know if he really said those things and that is something that should come out in this hearing."
[Hebron, May 18. Image via Getty]
An Israeli soldier keeps guard near a Palestinian woman standing by a Star of David graffiti sprayed by Israeli settlers near an army checkpoint in the centre of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on May 18, 2009 during a visit by a delegation of ultra-nationalist Israeli MPs protesting against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's promotion of the easing of restrictions on Palestinians. Netanyahu will have first face to face meeting with President Barack Obama amid divisions over Middle East peacemaking and Iran's nuclear ambitions. The hawkish premier, who wants a 'fresh' approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, will unveil in the White House meeting on May 18 his long-awaited policy for regional peace focused on countering Iran, aides said. AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Gaza Strip, May 14, (Pal Telegraph) - Another Palestinian child died in a very dramatic scene documented on T.V. A baby aged 2 died today from a heart defect made worse by lack of medical care due to the Israeli imposed siege.
Aljazeera's reporter, Tamer Al meshal, reveals one of the miseries resulting from the Israeli siege on Gaza . Feras As'ad Al Mazlom, an infant aged 2, was the only child of newly married couple As'ad and Amal.
Infant Feras who was born with a heart defect, he had to spend more time in a hospital bed rather than his loving parents' arms. He never played nor enjoyed his innocent life like others.
Like many Palestinians, Feras paid for the siege with his precious life. The hospital and equipment were not able to rescue him nor could his parents move him to Egypt for treatment. However, the hospital managed to coordinate a transfer to an Israeli hospital.
With hope, the father tried obtaining permits for both his wife and son to cross the border, and he finally succedded. The father moved like crazy to complete the travel documents necessary for Feras to be transferred for treatment.
Unfortunately, as they were on the way to pick their child and head to Erez crossing into Israel, they received an excruciating phone call saying their only was no longer alive and there's no need to take him anywhere.
It was minutes or rather seconds between life and death for Feras. This baby, didn't fight Israelis, never shot at them, nor fired a rocket rather, his only fault was being, "a child born in Gaza"
Thousands of Palestinian like Feras are still on the waiting list of death. Israel is hindering access to their basic right of treatment. Those patients' rights are highly recognized and guaranteed by the 4th Geneva convention and humanitarian law. However, Israel does not respect UN authority or declarations regarding human rights.
Nancy Al Buhisi and Sameh A. Habeeb
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Portion below; whole article here: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com/2009/05/jewish-pogrom.html
May 3, 2009
Pogrom at Khirbet Safa
By David Shulman
Pogroms: it's something the Jews know about. I grew up on those stories—Cossack raids on the shtetl, the torture and killings and wanton destruction. My grandmother had a brother. They lived in Mikhalayev, in the Ukraine. One day the Cossacks came, and everyone panicked, and the seventeen-year-old brother tried to hide in a pond, and he drowned. She mourned that young death all her life; the dead don't age, and some wounds never heal.
And now it turns out—who would believe it?—that there are Jews who also know how to carry out pogroms. For the last ten days or so, settlers from Bat 'Ayin in the so-called Etzion Bloc have been paying violent daily visits to their Palestinian neighbors in Khirbet Safa, perched high on the edge of the western ridge that overlooks the coastal plain all the way to the sea. A terrorist from Khirbet Safa entered Bat 'Ayin two weeks ago, murdered a settler boy with an axe, and wounded another. The police caught him soon thereafter. But that hasn't stopped the Bat 'Ayin settlers from repeated rampages to wreak revenge on Khirbet Safa. They've already killed four innocents, and another eleven or twelve have been wounded by gunfire. As if that weren't bad enough, the soldiers have apparently been making common cause with these settlers, opening fire readily at the villagers. Life in this most beautiful of the mountain villages has become a nightmare; not that it was easy before.
We get the emergency call around 5:00 after a long day that started off in Susya, in South Hebron. At first it looked as though we'd never get through the barriers and the roadblocks; like last week, we had police and army on our tail from the moment we left Jerusalem. Two full buses and several private cars headed south by the long route twisting over the dry hills. A grey, sultry day, summer approaching: in the endless battle in the wadis and terraces between green and brown, green seems to be losing ground. Every once in a while the soldiers would stop one of the cars and threaten to stop the buses. But, happily, by midday we had rendezvoused at Susya with a van of Palestinian activists from all over the West Bank. All in all, some 150 Combatants for Peace—former Israeli soldiers and Palestinian members of the armed resistance organizations who have given up all forms of violence—had come to meet each other and to see the reality of South Hebron.
This is what it will look like one day, I was thinking. Like in Berlin when the Wall fell. Maybe I won't live to see it, but I know it will be like this. People, ordinary people from both sides, pour out of the vehicles more or less into one another's arms. The soldiers in their jeeps with their guns and other deadly toys are helpless to hold back this flood of dangerous fraternization. Some of them look to me like they'd like to join us. It all happens fast and very naturally, without thinking. Walking over the rocks and thistles toward the tents of Susya, I hear snippets of conversation like many I've heard before. Awkward, tentative, eager. Strangers introduce themselves: "I'm 'Abed. I live in the refugee camp at Dahariyya." "We're from Bethlehem." "I'm from Tel Aviv, I'm a student. I served in the fucking army for three and a half years." (This with a somewhat sheepish smile). A young Palestinian man to a dark-haired Israeli woman: "Would you come visit me in my home
someday?" "I don't know. Maybe. I'm afraid." A short silence. "Yes, I'll be happy to come." I, too, embrace my friends: Hafez, Isa, Nasir, 'Id, the gentle, irrationally hopeful, anxious 'Id.
We stand among the black tents facing the Israeli settlement of Susya with its red-tile roofs and the new "illegal outpost" that settlers have put up on the next hill, just a couple of hundred meters off. In the distance, at Shuneran, you can see the lonely white whirl of the new turbine our people have recently set up for our Palestinian friends. Wind-driven, it's already generating enough power to run a refrigerator and a newfangled butter-and-cheese churn: the milk goes into the drum of an old washing machine that shakes it wildly up and down, and in practically no time there is the unlikely miracle of butter. Just two weeks ago I watched Bedouin women doing it the old way, in a goat-skin hung over a fire and rocked back and forth for long hours. This turbine at Shuneran is like a gift from the gods.
Ofra, wiry, battle-worn, lucid, is speaking to the crowd as Yusri translates into Arabic: "The occupation has an interest in preventing us from meeting one another, and an even greater interest in preventing us from struggling together. But we will never allow them to separate us. This is our responsibility and our answer to apartheid. We had to get past the barriers and roadblocks to come here today, and we also had to break through the metaphorical walls that have divided us." I wonder how Yusri is going to manage this last sentence. He lives in a world of very real walls and barriers. But no, he's got it, no problem: "hawajiz majaziyeh--that is," he explains, "the walls that have been erected in our minds."
Still, it looks like today is going to be rather bland. There are the dialogue sessions that take time—many of the Israeli Combatants have never been in South Hebron or anywhere else in the territories, and some are meeting living people from the other side for the first time. The seasoned few of us from Ta'ayush wait, a little bored. The truth is we're having trouble holding ourselves back from what our instincts tell us is the thing to do—that is, from marching the whole crowd up the hill toward the new outpost. It's not every day you get 150 activists here in Susya. But there's been a decision: no confrontations today. You can't expose the first-timers to the whole terror and rigor of the occupation. And yet that hill is so enticing. There's a new settler caravan in place, too. All we have to do is to start walking…..
And then, surprisingly, a new decision crystallizes. We will "take" that hill after all. We'll follow Nasir up to the ancient well that belongs to the Hadari-Hareini families but that is now off limits to them; the settlers won't let them near it. South Hebron is a hot, dry land, and a well means the difference between life and death. We head out over the rocky terraces. Movement, at last, and action: the relief is sweet and viscous as a heady liquor. My lungs take in the sharp smell of wild sage, thyme, and the aromatic herb the Palestinians call Amaslimaniya, said to heal infections and stomach pains. I wonder if it heals heart-ache, too. The very fragrance seems to be healing mine.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Portion below; whole article (via Angry Arab Newservice) here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/may/09/israel-middle-east-max-hastings
Israel suffers the same frustration on a regional scale as that which afflicts the US globally: the difficulty – some of us would argue impossibility – of leveraging overwhelming military power to make its will prevail upon the Palestinians. The Palestinians are incapable of imposing their own will on the Israelis. But poverty, misery and impotence represent weapons of their own. These things cause Israel to be regarded by a large part of the world as an oppressor.
I often think that Israelis focus too much upon their past, not enough upon their future. In the days when I visited Israel regularly, dinner-table arguments about the nation's strategy became familiar. There would often come a moment when somebody would blurt out – justifying this or that aspect of Israeli policy: "But you've got to understand why we must do this – because of the Holocaust." For more than 60 years, the Holocaust card has been played again and again. Today in Europe, there is not the slightest danger that the unspeakable fate of the Jews in the 1940s will be forgotten. But many people, especially the young, no longer perceive the crimes of Hitler, however monstrous, as providing remotely adequate justification for – for instance – Israeli military excesses in Gaza and the appropriation of scarce water resources at Palestinian expense.
The Holocaust argument is sometimes displaced by a more facile jibe: that those who criticise Israel are guilty of anti-semitism. I have been accused of this myself. Yet I take comfort from the number of Jews who express repugnance about Israel's excesses. Avi Shlaim has dissected the failures and deceits of modern Israeli policy far more convincingly than I could. Rabbi David Goldberg has described Israel's failure to create a plausible successor vision to that of the old Zionists. "Zionism's most important achievement," he says, "was to provide a haven for the escapees and survivors of Hitler's Holocaust." Today, by contrast, few western Jews want to live there. The Zionist claim, that the country is the natural home of Jews, is rejected by a majority of the world's 14 million Jews. Goldberg argues that "Zionists claim that only in their own land can Jews lead a full, 'normal' life without fear of anti-semitism. But the irony of Israel's geopolitical situation is that the average Jew walking the streets of Los Angeles, Golders Green or even Moscow is physically safer than the average Israeli walking in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv."
Many Jews no longer believe that the Zionist concept of entitlement, based first upon Biblical history, and latterly upon the Holocaust, suffices to justify perpetuating historic injustice upon the Arabs of Palestine. Benny Morris's excellent recent history of the events of 1948 shows that even a respected Israeli historian is today ready to acknowledge the scale of Israeli ethnic cleansing at the time, and of the deceits employed since to conceal what took place. The Israeli myth, that the Palestinians displaced in 1948 voluntarily abandoned their homes and property, is unsustainable in the face of such evidence.
An Israeli listening to all this might interrupt angrily: "But why do you say so little about Hamas and Hizbollah, rocketing and suicide-bombing innocent Israeli civilians?" Yes, indeed – such acts must always be condemned. But what of proportionality? In recent years, for every Israeli killed by terrorism, the Israeli security forces have killed 30, 40, 50 Palestinians – most of them civilians. Israel exacts a blood price from the innocent of a severity which only tyrannies have historically thought appropriate.
The entire thrust of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians in recent times has been to convey a crude message of overwhelming power, of Israel's ability to command, kill or destroy at will, without fear of sanctions. The Israeli army, which once exemplified much that was best about Israel, has today been corrupted by the long experience of suppressing insurgency. Morally, if not militarily, it is a shadow of the force which fought in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973.
Israel has tested to destruction the utility of force in achieving its security. It is not enough to assert proudly that the Jewish state remains a democracy and haven of free speech in a region in which neither of these precious things is much in evidence, if that same democracy behaves in a fashion which denies mercy to the weak. For someone like me, who enjoyed a love affair with Israel 40 years ago, it is heart-breaking to see the story come to such a pass. It is because so many of us so much want to see Israel prosper in security and peace that we share a sense of tragedy that 61 years after the state was born amid such lofty ideals, it should be led by such a man as Bibi Netanyahu, committed to policies which can yield nothing honourable or lasting. Amoz Oz's 1979 prophesy to me has alas been fulfilled. It will be as great a misfortune for Israel as for the Palestinians, if its governments persist in their past delusions through the years ahead.
Monday, May 11, 2009
one of the reasons i so love rap music and hip hop culture is because so much of it–or at least the stuff i listen to–has such smart lyrics, amazing politics, and usually amazing sounds. but also i love it because i see it as a form of resistance. dam does this for palestine. k’naan does this for somalia. the narcicyst does this for iraq. m.i.a. (a.k.a. maya arulpragasam) does this for tamils in sri lanka. i found an interview she did with tavis smiley (who is as clueless as riz khan when it comes to interviewing people) and she does an amazing job of discussing the political crisis in sri lanka and the genocide against the tamil people: [embedded video of MIA -- go to link at top to see these -- linda]
socially and politically conscious rap artists have such a crucial role to play in stopping the demonization of people that lead people in the west to call those marginalized people who face ethnic cleansing and genocide “terrorists” when the reality is they are all subjected to state terrorism supported by the united states. all of the groups above that i mentioned, and all of whom i’ve blogged about previously, sing and speak eloquently and brilliantly about the situation where they live, or if like m.i.a., as refugees. as i’ve blogged previously i’m so struck by the parallels between palestinians and tamils in sri lanka in the current genocide underway in sri lanka. there are more that emerge every day. david batty wrote for the guardian the other day about a doctor reporting on the attacks on civilians by the sri lankan government against the tamil population and the story sounds so much like gaza:
A massive artillery barrage by the Sri Lankan army last night killed at least 257 civilians and left another 814 wounded in the small strip of territory that remains under the control of Tamil Tiger rebels.
A doctor working in the warzone described the assault as the bloodiest he had seen in the government’s offensive against the Tamil Tigers.
Dr V Shanmugarajah said he feared many more may have been killed since some bodies were being buried on the spot without being brought to the makeshift hospital he runs.
Shanmugarajah described seeing shells fly through the air, with some falling close to the hospital, forcing many to flee to bunkers for shelter.
The rebel-linked TamilNet website said about 2,000 people were feared dead. It accused Sri Lankan forces of launching the attack, a charge the military denied.
Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said it was only using small arms in its effort to wipe out the Tamil Tiger rebel group and there “is no shelling taking place”.
The government had sent medical supplies into the warzone in recent days but a shortage of doctors, nurses and helpers has made treatment difficult, Shanmugarajah said.
“We are doing the first aid and some surgeries as quickly as we can. We are doing what is possible. The situation is overwhelming; nothing is within our control,” he said. Shanmugarajah said he had sought the help of volunteers to dig graves.
The government vowed two weeks ago to cease firing heavy weapons into the tiny coastal strip that remained under rebel control in an effort to avoid civilian casualties. But medical officials in the area have reported that air strikes and artillery attacks have continued unabated, despite the presence of an estimated 50,000 civilians in the tiny conflict zone.