Thursday, December 31, 2009

"Let Gaza Live: US Rally Lights Vigils for Palestine"

UPDATE: French Gaza Freedom March Activist DIED OF HEART ATTACK not police

UPDATE: report in error. so here's maan news confirming Judith's report: "A French woman associated with the March died on Wednesday of a heart attack. She was not present at any of the demonstrations, according to an organizer of the French delegation, Yasser Hassan."

http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=251091

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http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=115049&sectionid=351020202
Organizers of the "Gaza Freedom March" report the death of a French citizen from injuries sustained at the hands of security forces during a demonstration in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

Marie Renee died in the Cairo Hospital. She was traveling with a French delegation of approximately 300 nationals, Ma'an news agency reported.

The French delegates had earlier been camped out on the grounds surrounding the French Embassy in Cairo, reportedly flanked by two lines of Egyptian police.

Hundreds of activists with the "Gaza Freedom March" have continued demonstrations and sit-ins in Cairo to protest the Egyptian government's refusal to allow them to cross the border into the besieged Gaza Strip.

On Wednesday, Egyptian security allowed 84 of the 1,300 who registered to participate in the Gaza Freedom March into the impoverished Palestinian coastal enclave All were traveling with the Codepink delegation, which organized two earlier trips into the blockaded Palestinian coastal sliver since the Israeli war on Gaza last year.

Another 1,200 activists from about 40 states remained in Cairo after Egypt refused entry for the group because of what they called the "sensitive situation" in the Palestinian territory.

The "Gaza Freedom March" activists were hoping to march into Gaza on the anniversary of Israel's 22-day offensive on the territory as a sign of solidarity with its people, carrying with them aid and supplies.

Israel has continued to close all border crossings to the Gaza Strip for more than two years. The illegal Israeli imposed blockade on the Gaza Strip, which has steadily tightened since 2007, has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the coastal enclave.

Some 1.5 million people are being denied their basic rights, including freedom of movement, and their rights to appropriate living conditions, work, health and education. Poverty and unemployment rates stand at approximately 80% and 60% respectively in the Gaza Strip.

Egypt with the Palestinian Authority's blessings has sealed its borders with the Gaza Strip, effectively cutting off the coastal enclave from the rest of the world.

Gaza Freedom Marches Accomplish Goal -- More Front Page NYTimes Coverage!

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/01/world/middleeast/01gaza.html?src=twr

Part of article below:

JERUSALEM — Hundreds of demonstrators gathered on both sides of the Israeli-Gazan border on Thursday to mark a year since Israel’s three-week war in Gaza, and to call for an end to the blockade of the area imposed by Israel and Egypt.

About 85 of the several hundred demonstrators inside Gaza were foreigners, part of a group of more than 1,000 who arrived in Cairo in hopes of entering but were stopped by the Egyptian authorities. After days of negotiation, Egypt permitted a small delegation to cross the normally closed border at the southern Gazan city of Rafah.

On the Israeli side, about 1,000 people rallied in protest as well, most of them Israeli Arabs but also Israeli Jews who object to the boycott policy. They carried banners with pictures of children in destroyed buildings. Through the cell phone of an Arab member of the Israeli parliament, Taleb A-Sana, the Hamas prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, addressed the Israelis and thanked them.

“Because of international solidarity and your support we have become stronger,” he said.

The Gaza marchers waved Palestinian flags and held banners that called for a lifting of the closure, imposed after Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007. The marchers chanted “Free Palestine!” and “No to the siege!”

A Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Taher al-Nunu, welcomed the foreigners and said at their rally, “We are not alone in Gaza. We have many friends outside Palestine who came to protest the siege and the Israeli occupation.”

One of the visiting demonstrators, Julia Harley, 26, of New Jersey, said she and her fellow marchers “want the American people to understand what is happening here, and to pay attention. We want to support the people in Gaza, who are being ignored after the war.”

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Schoolboys and CIA Operatives Dead in Afghanistan"

http://firedoglake.com/2009/12/30/schoolboys-and-cia-operatives-dead-in-afghanistan/

While everyone’s focus has been on Yemen – with reports that targets are being examined for possible retaliation attacks by the US – the US war in Afghanistan continues to go bad.

Yesterday, 10 Afghans were killed by US forces. The UN Observer writes:

Afghan investigators today accused US-led troops of dragging ten civilians from their beds and shooting them dead during a night raid.
Officials said that eight children and teenagers were among the dead and all but one of the victims were from the same family.

With demonstrations in at least two major cities calling for an end to such civilian killings, President Karzai pointed out that eight of the victims were “school students in grades six, nine and 10.”

Today, a suicide bomber entered FOB Chapman in Khost, a base “used by the CIA.” At least 8 (and later reports say 9) CIA operatives were killed as was an Afghan civilian:

The bomber managed to slip past security at Forward Operating Base Chapman in the eastern province of Khost before detonating an explosive belt in what one U.S. official described as a room used as a fitness center. The blast also wounded eight people, several of them seriously, U.S. government officials said.

It was not immediately clear how the assailant was able to infiltrate the U.S.-run post, which serves as an operations and surveillance center for the CIA near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. U.S. sources confirmed that all the dead and injured were civilians, adding that most of them were probably CIA employees or contractors. At least one Afghan civilian was also killed, the sources said.

Also today, an IED also killed 4 Canadian soldiers and a journalist from the Calgary Herald while an Afghan soldier opened fire and killed on US soldier and 2 Italians.

The LA Times mentions that this last attack “comes amid a new outbreak of tensions between Western commanders and the government of President Hamid Karzai over the issue of civilian casualties.”

There’s no way to know how many of these attacks on US and allied forces were specifically a response to the killing of the 8 schoolboys but when you drag children from their beds and shoot them, there’s going to be a reaction.

Note on the video: This report from the Iranian Press TV is the only footage currently available of the demonstrations today in Afghanistan. Note that Press TV attributes the deaths of the schoolchildren to “air strikes” but reports from investigators at the scene describe not an air strike but an operation with the victims taken from their beds.

Gaza Freedom March ......in Seattle! Saturday, Jan 2

Gaza Freedom March .in Seattle! Saturday, Jan 2

Come join us to March and Vigil for Gaza!

We are planning to banner over I-5, on Olive Way, for one hour and then March down to WestLake Park for a Vigil in Solidarity with Gaza and also our friends and allies who are detained by the Egyptian regime!

What: March and Vigil for Gaza
Where: Olive way & Melrose Ave
When: 11am-noon Bannering
Noon-2:00pm march and Vigil

For more up to date information about the situation in Egypt, please follow the link below:

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=4669

==================================

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Rep. Brian Baird to Call for Cutting US Aid to Israel Unless the Blockade on Gaza is Lifted

"An International Crime Called Gaza" -- Dr. Elias Akleh

To see the rest of this searing indictment, go here: http://tinyurl.com/ycraou2


A fully pre-meditated international crime of genocide has been taking place during the last 62 years in the heart of the Arab World. The victims are the Palestinian people especially those in the Gaza Strip. The assassin is the worst ever terrorist group deceptively called the Israeli Defense Forces under the leadership of the theocratically most racist "god's chosen" deceitfully self-proclaimed "democratic Jewish-only" Israel. Israel had been created, financed, armed, and politically protected by, mainly, British and American rapture-vision-obsessed Talmudist power elites consisting of profit-seeking financiers and military-industrial complex.

In December 2008 this Israeli Terrorist Forces added another war crime to its long list of war crimes against the Palestinians since 1948. One more time the international political community had become an accomplice to one more Israeli war crime either by being a passive silent witness or by becoming an active participant and protector of Israeli war criminals. One more international war crime had been perpetrated against the Palestinians. It is an international crime since multi political regimes; Israeli, American, European and even Arab governments, had joined in this crime that is STILL GOING ON up to this very minute.


For almost the last three years Israel had subjected Gaza to an illegal economic siege, which in itself constitutes a crime against humanity. Israel had, and still is, preventing the entry into Gaza of vital life sustaining products such as food stuff, fuel, medicine and needed medical equipment, water purification equipment and many building materials. This is a genocidal crime using hunger and thirst as weapons.

Starting late December of 2008 and for continuous 22 days Israeli terrorist army had perpetrated a genocidal war crime against Gaza Palestinians. The Israeli army, known to be the fourth powerful army in the world, attacked unarmed civilian Palestinians of Gaza comprising mostly of children, women, and old people. There was no regular army in Gaza to face the well equipped, well trained to murder Israeli army. Only few male civilians, who took it on themselves to carry the light arms they could obtain to resist the Israeli war criminals in order to protect their own families.

The Israeli military radio station announced that half of the Israeli air force had conducted 2500 air sorties dropping a total of 1,000,000 KG of explosives on the civilian families of Gaza. This is not counting the shells fired by the artillery and tanks. They had used high precision GPS-guided bombs to destroy vital locations such as the UN food warehouse and schools, government buildings, hospitals and medical clinics, religious buildings and civilian institutions.

From his observation of the video taped explosions in Gaza, the British weapons expert Dy Williams concluded that the Israeli army had used DIME bombs to guarantee murder of victims, Phosphorous bombs producing 900 centigrade degrees of heat, and DU bombs producing 5,000 centigrade degrees of heat, that is equal to the heat of the sun surface. The Israeli soldiers, themselves, had admitted and boasted to "Breaking The Silence" organization of committing war crimes in Gaza. These included, among many, the deliberate murder of civilians including women and children, using civilians as human shields, shelling homes after hording groups of civilians inside, destroying and vandalizing properties and civilian homes, and writing hate and racial graffiti on walls.

Israeli criminal leaders were not satisfied with mere destruction of Gaza infrastructures, contaminating agricultural land and water, and murdering some 1500 Palestinians. They had carefully chosen the most lethal weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that will cause the death of Palestinians, who survived the attack, and the death of their future born generations. Besides their devastating environmental contamination effects the Israeli bombs were found to have long lasting reproductive toxic, carcinogenic, genotoxic, fetotoxic and pathogenic effects on humans.

A study titled "Craters Gaza 2006/09 and respectively WP Bomb Gaza 2009" published on www.newweapons.org was done by Prof. Mario Barbieri CNR, Rome, Prof. Maurizio Barbieri, University of Rome, and Prof. Paola Manduca, University of Genova. They analyzed dirt samples from four bomb craters in Gaza, and residual components of spent Israeli bombs. Their analyses found unusual concentrations of Molybdenum (male sperm toxicant), copper, nickel, cadmium and Mercury (carcinogenics), Tungsten (genotoxic and fetotoxic), Zinc and Manganese (carcinogenic and fetotoxic) Aluminium (fetotoxic and pathogen affecting nervous system and kidneys), and Cobalt (DNA repair inhibitor and mutagenic).

Even now, after a year of the Israeli barbaric war crimes against Gaza, the Israeli air force bombards life vital centers, while the Israeli army use bulldozers to raze fertile farm lands, destroy crops, and shoot farmers. The Israeli attack boats have become worse than the Somali pirates. They attack and sink Palestinian fishing boats. They fire at, kidnap, and confiscate international humanitarian aid materials loaded on boats of "Free Gaza" organizations.

In a blatant violating of all international laws and a disdain to all humanitarian appeals the terrorist Israeli state had severely tightened its military siege against the Gaza Strip after the end of its last onslaught in January 2009. Palestinians in Gaza are living without clean drinking water, bare minimum food, without electricity, and without the necessary medical supplies. This is a real holocaust. A holocaust is the premeditated plan to exterminate masses of people (such as the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza), whether through gassing, incendiary phosphorous, DU and WMD bombs, hunger and thirst, or any other means leading to mass death.

Instead of coming to the aid of Palestinians the UN reverted to its old tactic of blaming the Palestinian victims and Ban KI-moon requesting a permanent cease fire. In its meeting the UN had totally ignored the Palestinian elected Hamas government; a major part of this conflict. Rather it listened to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who humiliatingly begged the UN for help, promising to do "everything" to secure peace. In an indirect way he blamed Hamas government and did not even criticize Israel's aggression.

Monday, December 28, 2009

How Will These Children Eat If Israel/Egypt/USA Blocks All the Borders and Tunnels?

Palestinian children stand at the Gaza side of the border with Egypt during a demonstration against Egypt installing a border barrier to block smuggling tunnels with Gaza, in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on Monday. Egypt acknowledged last week it is installing a series of metal sheets deep along the Gaza border to block tunnels used to smuggle weapons into the Palestinian territory.

December 28, 2009
AP Photo/Eyad Baba
in Seattle PI -- World News in Pictures


Palestinian children hold candles as they take part in a memorial ceremony marking the one-year anniversary of Israel's offensive in Gaza, in front of the UNSCO building in Gaza City on Monday.

December 28, 2009
AP Photo/Khalil Hamra

"Israel Resembles a Failed State" -- Ali Abunimah

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10969.shtml
Part of article below:
A year after Israel's attack and after more than two-and-a-half years of blockade, the Palestinian people in Gaza have not surrendered. Instead they have offered the world lessons in steadfastness and dignity, even at an appalling, unimaginable cost.

It is true that the European Union leaders who came to occupied Jerusalem last January to publicly embrace Ehud Olmert, the then Israeli prime minister -- while white phosphorus seared the flesh of Gazan children and bodies lay under the rubble -- still cower before their respective Israel lobbies, as do American and Canadian politicians.

But the shift in public opinion is palpable as Israel's own actions transform it into a pariah whose driving forces are not the liberal democratic values with which it claims to identify, but ultra-nationalism, racism, religious fanaticism, settler-colonialism and a Jewish supremacist order maintained by frequent massacres.

The universalist cause of justice and liberation for Palestinians is gaining adherents and momentum especially among the young. I witnessed it, for example, among Malaysian students I met at a Palestine solidarity conference held by the Union of NGOs of The Islamic World in Istanbul last May, and again in November as hundreds of student organizers from across the US and Canada converged to plan their participation in the global Palestinian-led campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions modeled on the successful struggle against South African apartheid in the 1980s.

This week, thousands of people from dozens of countries are attempting to reach Gaza to break the siege and march alongside Palestinians who have been organizing inside the territory.

Each of the individuals traveling with the Gaza Freedom March, Viva Palestina, or other delegations represents perhaps hundreds of others who could not make the journey in person, and who are marking the event with demonstrations and commemorations, visits to their elected officials and media campaigns.
Against this flowering of activism, Zionism is struggling to rejuvenate its dwindling base of support. Multi-million dollar programs aimed at recruiting and Zionizing young American Jews are struggling to compete against organizations like the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, which run not on money but principled commitment to human equality.

Increasingly, we see that Israel's hasbara (propaganda) efforts have no positive message, offer no plausible case for maintaining a status quo of unspeakable repression and violence, and rely instead on racist demonization and dehumanization of Arabs and Muslims to justify Israel's actions and even its very existence.

Faced with growing global recognition and support for the courageous nonviolent struggle against continued land theft in the West Bank, Israel is escalating its violence and kidnapping of leaders of the movement in Bilin and other villages (Mohammad Othman, Jamal Juma' and Abdallah Abu Rahmeh are among the leaders of this movement recently arrested).

In acting this way, Israel increasingly resembles a bankrupt failed state, not a regime confident about its legitimacy and longevity.

And despite the failed peace process industry's efforts to ridicule, suppress and marginalize it, there is a growing debate among Palestinians and even among Israelis about a shared future in Palestine/Israel based on equality and decolonization, rather than ethno-national segregation and forced repartition.
Last, but certainly not least, in the shadow of the Goldstone report, Israeli leaders travel around the world fearing arrest for their crimes.

For now, they can rely on the impunity that high-level international complicity and their inertial power and influence still afford them. But the question for the real international community -- made up of people and movements -- is whether we want to continue to see the still very incomplete system of international law and justice painstakingly built since the horrors of the Second World War and the Nazi holocaust dismantled and corrupted all for the sake of one rogue state.

What we have done in solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza and the rest of Palestine is not yet enough. But our movement is growing, it cannot be stopped, and we will reach our destination.

"American Indians Suffer From Brutal Winter… And As Usual… Ignored!"

Indigenous people robbed and left to rot -- problem the world over! Palestine to Pine Ridge. LJ
http://freepeltiernow.blogspot.com/2009/12/american-indians-suffer-from-brutal.html
Rumor has it that theTribal Government of the Oglala Sioux Tribe is unable (for lack of fuel) to dig out tribal residents in rural areas. Hundreds of families and elders are without propane and of course, no monies for that either. Propane deliveries are impossible for those who have a way to pay because the roads are impassable.

This is nothing new for the poorest living on the Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Cheyenne River, Crow Creek, and Standing Rock Reservations in South Dakota. The struggle for the poor among the haves is a continual and ignored condition of disparity. Those that have jobs among the 10-20% employed also have minimal problems compared to the poor among them who struggle to stay warm and have enough food to eat.

The likelihood of a rich casino tribe such as the Shakopee or Seminole among others coming to the rescue of poor American Indians is not going to happen either. Example? I just had the multi-million dollar giveaway to disconnected from the Grass Roots Poor Shakopee Tribe rejected a request from my charity for 20 infrared heaters that would have kept 20 Oglala Sioux Tribe families warm and electric bills cut on half.

Why? Say the color of my skin. I am a Caucasian who runs a charity struggling to help the poor which amounts to about 80-90% of the populations on Indian Reservations in North and South Dakota. Most of the benefactors of the millions from casino tribes do not have any programs that provide help in emergency times caused by brutal winters. Few if any contribute to economic development programs either. And if help is given, it does not always get to those in need.

And for the Obama worshippers in Indian Country thinking he will take a break from his golf game in Hawaii, don't hold your breath. The likelihood of any federal help coming to the families in need of wood, food, and propane is dependent upon the State of South Dakota making this emergency condition acknowledged officially. With elections coming up next year, being "pro-Indian" could cost you valuable votes.

From my own personal experience, living in South Dakota for almost a year as well as on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation also, I have come to realize South Dakota has embedded in it’s psyche a deeply rooted dark diabolical hate for American Indians. Given my Jewish background on my grandfathers side, I see the same parallel spiritual traits of "the only good Indian (Jew) is a dead one" alive in well in the profiling by local media of Indians to the KKK-Nazi comments found in the comment sections connected to articles about American Indians in the Rapid City Journal. What this means is that American Indians on Pine Ridge and elsewhere who are without propane and food etc. will continue to be ignored in the name and tradition of George Custer’s 7th Calvary. And this includes the enclave of “saved” Christians scattered in the Black Hills and elsewhere in the Dakotas who go to church on Sunday's and thank God for the blessings of life.

As for the Salvation Army or Red Cross helping? I do know that the Salvation Army is close to meeting their fundraising goal of over $200,000.00. I also firmly believe NONE of that money will be used to help those without food and propane on Indian Reservations in South Dakota. This organization is in the process of squandering a 1.5 billion dollar donation from the heir of Mc Donalds in the building of unnecessary structures that are functionally disconnected from helping the poor in America let alone American Indians. I have yet to see any positive impact of this charity on a Indian Reservation in the Dakotas or elsewhere.

If there is help offered for those in need in a crisis situation, then there is the problem of the documented tradition of covert nepotistic corruption within Tribal Governments which siphons and steals that which is given. One such example is found on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation where a Caucasian out of state health care organization working with the Porcupine Health Clinic and which provides health checks to tribal members sent in a truckload of supplies for the residents of the Kyle-Porcupine area. It seems that those items were hijacked and were not used as intended. In fact, monies sent in from the outside such as France, mysteriously disappear instead of being used for needs at this clinic.

So if one wants to help and at the same time want documented assurance that their help will go to those in need, what is the verifiable option?

This is where Operation Morning Star comes in. They do not “receive monies” as all other charities do and then you wonder if they will be used as you intended when you sent them. With them, monies sent are directed to the provider of the need being met in the name of the family or elder such as the food store or utility company. Operation Morning Star connects you direct with elders and families who need help and also gives you their contact numbers as well as for those working within the food and utility companies. This is how you have proof that your monies are used as intended.

If you desire to help and send in supplies as a corporation or business etc, you also have the option of making arrangements for a rental truck (or you can donate a 26’ straight truck) to be loaded and brought in and we will both provide a driver and coordinate the “give away” to those in need. Operation Morning Star works hands on with the “grass roots poor” and in their history of 15 years of working among Lakota/Dakota peoples, they have identified those who are unselfish and care about their own people in the Lakota/Dakota spiritual tradition of love for one another.

Needed are chain saws, axes, wood burning stoves with install kits, good working 4x4 trucks (title is signed over to family, not Operation Morning Star, tons of food in the form of beans and rice, flour, cooking oil etc., toilet paper, soap, shampoo, working appliances, washers and dryers, women’s sanitary items, diapers, pampers, and wipes as well as formula for babies.

To make arrangements to help, please call 816-352-7999 or email at
operationmorningstar@gmail.com. More information about Operation Morning Star programs and projects can be found on their web page. http://www.operationmorningstar.org.

Richard Boyden is Founder of Operation Morning Star. He also ministers in the area of suicide among American Indian youth and is a part time writer and journalist.

For the Love of Gaza


from the wonderful "In Gaza" blog (see more heart pics at link):

For a Strip that has been repeatedly battered by the world’s bully, has been under siege for nearly 4 years, has been ostracized and isolated –even mocked–by the international community of decision -makers and corporate media, Gaza sure is full of love and signs of it.

In taxis, those ubiquitous hearts dangling from windshields or decorated fluffy white kitten teddy bears.

On walls, heralding another wedding.

On burly motorbikes –which can be adorned with those cats, bears, and handlebar frills.

And in random graffiti on walls.

Perhaps cheesey in many cases, but certainly goes to show that love abounds here, despite the odds.



"Semper Ubi Sub Ubi"

Sez Rik: "I offered this idea to Homeland Security for free, but have had no response yet."

Hunger strike of activists in Egypt for Gaza, Palestine

http://tiny.cc/ugr5b
via Palestine Think Tank

Part of article below:

WRITTEN BY John Hurson, International Hunger Strike Press Release

Sunday December 27th marks the anniversary of the attack on Gaza by Israel, which left over 1,400 people dead, and over 5,000 injured in 22 days.

At 11 35 am, the time of the first attack, a group of humanitarians on the “Viva Palestina Convoy” will embark on an International Hunger Strike in the main square in Aqaba, Jordan.

The International Hunger Strike will aim to highlight the ongoing illegal siege imposed on Gaza, and to remember the victims of the attacks who died during the 22 day bombardment by Israel.

This International Hunger Strike will also highlight the refusal by Egypt, under Israeli pressure, to allow the humanitarian aid to reach the people in Gaza.

The convoy has been stranded in the city for 3 days now, having been refused permission to enter Egypt on their way to Gaza. There are 500 people from no less than 20 different countries in 250 vehicles loaded with charitable humanitarian aid. The convoy is been led by leading international politician George Galloway, having left London on December 6th.

Embarking on the International Hunger Strike are 15 people from different continents across the world. Among those taking part are Fatima Mohammidi from the United States, John Hurson and Caoimhe Butterly from Ireland, Ahasan Shamruk from Palestine, Nidal Hajaj, Hanan Chehata and Mohammed Shakiel from England, plus Kamal Mashni from Australia among others.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Seattle Remembers the Brutal Dec-Jan 2009 Israeli Assault on Gaza














Crowd gathers before solemn march to remember the Israeli massacre in Gaza that started one year ago today.




March begins from Westlake Park.





Informational leaflets were passed to the crowd and in the pauses poetry was read.






Exclusive excerpt from Joe Sacco’s groundbreaking new book: Footnotes in Gaza -- Mondoweiss

Click on link to see great excerpts from Joe Sacco's book (which as Elliot pointed out awhile back is the best selling NW nonfiction book): http://mondoweiss.net/2009/12/exclusive-excerpt-from-joe-saccos-groundbreaking-new-book-footnotes-in-gaza.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+feedburner%2FWDBc+%28Mondoweiss%29
As we approach the one year anniversary of Israel’s attack on Gaza, we are proud to be able to share with you an exclusive peek at Joe Sacco’s new book Footnotes in Gaza. Rather than focus on the current phase of the conflict, the book deals with an often forgotten, or unknown, event – the massacre of 111 Palestinians by Israeli forces in the Gaza towns of Rafah and Khan Younis in 1956. While these southern Gazan towns are currently in the news as the Gaza Freedom March and Viva Palestina convoy try to enter Rafah from Egypt, Sacco’s book takes us back to 1948 and 1956 to show us how we arrived at the point we are today.

We’ll be posting more on the book in coming weeks, including a more formal review and an interview with Sacco, but as we turn our eyes towards Gaza on this solemn anniversary, let us remember everything that came before it. (Click on the image below to view it larger, and then click in the upper right hand corner to scroll to the next page.

)

Dennis Brutus -- Presente!

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/12/27/us/AP-US-Obit-Brutus.html?_r=1&hp

"He is survived by a wife, eight children and many other relatives."

Been nice if they would have given his wife a name, no? NYTimes creeps.

NEW YORK (AP) -- South African poet and former political prisoner Dennis Brutus, who fought apartheid in words and deeds and remained an activist well after the fall of his country's racist system, has died. He was 85.

Brutus' publisher, Chicago-based Haymarket Books, said the writer died in his sleep at his home in Cape Town on Saturday. He had been battling prostate cancer, according to Patrick Bond, who directs the Center for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, where Brutus was an honorary professor.

Brutus was an anti-apartheid activist jailed at Robben Island with Nelson Mandela in the mid-1960s. He helped persuade Olympic officials to ban South Africa from competition from 1964 until apartheid ended nearly 30 years later.

Born in 1924 in what was then Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, Brutus was the son of South African teachers who moved back to their native country when he was still a boy. He majored in English at Fort Hare University, which he attended on full scholarship, and taught at several South African high schools.

By his early 20s, he was politically involved and helped create the South African Sports Association, formed in protest against the official white sports association. Arrested in 1963, Brutus fled the country when released on bail, but was captured and nearly killed when shot as he attempted to escape police custody in Johannesburg and forced to wait for an ambulance that would accept blacks. Brutus was sentenced to 18 months at Robben Island.

His books ''Sirens, Knuckles, Boots'' and ''Letters to Martha and Other Poems from a South African Prison'' were published while he was in jail. He was confined, but unbeaten, writing in the poem ''Somehow We Survive'' that ''All our land is scarred with terror/rendered unlovely and unlovable/sundered are we and all our passionate surrender/but somehow tenderness survives.'' In ''Prayer,'' written after he left prison, he proclaims, ''Uphold -- frustrate me if need be/so that I mould my energy/for that one swift inerrable soar.''

Sometimes terse, other times dense and lyrical, his poems were political, but also emotional and highly personal. Forced to leave the country in 1966, he longed for home in the 1975 poem ''Sequence for South Africa,'' writing that the ''secret is clamping down/holding the lid of awareness tight shut,'' until ''some thoughtless questioner/pries the sealed lid loose.''

Brutus emigrated to the United States in 1971, but his legal troubles did not end. The Reagan administration, which began in 1981, changed the policy on political refugees, making it more difficult for them to remain in the U.S. Brutus fought deportation for two years before an immigration judge granted asylum.

Brutus taught literature and African studies at Northwestern University and the University of Pittsburgh, a distinctive figure in old age with his flowing white hair and beard, engaged in protests against world financial organizations and in calls for stronger action against global warming.

Over the years, he completed more than a dozen collections of poetry, including ''A Simple Lust,'' ''Stubborn Hope'' and ''Salutes and Censures.'' In 2006, Haymarket published a compilation of his work, ''Poetry and Protest.'' His work was banned for years in South Africa, but one book, ''Thoughts Abroad,'' slipped through; it was published in 1970 under the pseudonym John Bruin.

He received numerous honorary prizes, including a lifetime achievement award from South Africa's Department of Arts and Culture. But in 2007 he rejected induction into the South Africa Sports Hall of Fame, stating, ''It is incompatible to have those who championed racist sport alongside its genuine victims. It's time -- indeed long past time -- for sports truth, apologies and reconciliation.''

Brutus remained engaged and became passionate about climate change in recent years.

In an open letter dated Dec. 10 about this month's U.N. climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, he warned against ''brokering a deal that allows the corporations and the oil giants to continue to abuse the earth.

''Better that there is no deal, so that ordinary citizens can make their choices and voices heard, against the marketing excesses for the rich allowing some to gorge themselves while others starve.''

He was honored with the Peace Award of the War Resisters League in New York City in September. Unable to attend the event, he sent a recording of his poem ''Gull,'' which reads in part, ''Gull gliding against gray-silver autumn sky sees a vast miasma of greed slowly encompass our entire planet cries out to unheeding stars to whom wails of children rise in shrill unending caterwauls.''

He is survived by a wife, eight children and many other relatives.

--------

AP writer Michelle Faul contributed to this story from Johannesburg.

Obama Lectures Lebanese on His Middle East Plans

http://palestinethinktank.com/2009/12/27/obama-and-suleiman-forget-the-rhetoric-let-the-face-and-the-money-tell-the-story/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PalestineThinkTank+%28Palestine+Think+Tank%29

Obama postured “the more we can work together to encourage the parties involved. . . to have constructive dialogue and try to negotiate out of the current impasse, the better off Lebanon will be, the better off the world will be.” His face and his folded hands, however, said otherwise. He offered the rhetoric on the 14th, gave Israel billions of dollars in weapons on the 16th, and then on the 19th presented Israel an additional $202 million in weapons.

As the Jewish Telegraphic Agency explains, the extra $202 million is “considered separately from Israel's defense assistance package, which was in the foreign operations bill also signed in recent days [the 16th], because it [the extra $202 million] is not purely assistance; it is considered an investment in systems used by U.S. troops and that are profitable for the American companies involved.”

Well, at least the JTA admits there is something more than altruism happening here. The Whitehouse has repeatedly voiced its support of Lebanese independence. The Western media and the general populace have nodded approval of this fundamentally noble status. Independence, after all, seems the bedrock of the free-enterprise system that ribbons around the Western world. Yet the idea of an independent Israel . . . unthinkable. It is a standing joke that Israel is the 51st state. But the mafia appears child’s play when compared to the systematic oppression and murder bought with a package salary of billions of dollars in weapons, together with a bonus of absolute political protection from international law. The yoke of dependence between the US and Israel is pulling the world into a military maelstrom.

*note the non-parallel reference here. Obama refers to “Israel,” a state, and to the “Palestinians,” a people, not to “Palestine” a state, as though the latter were not under consideration.

Lest We Forget: Gaza Genocide 27.12.2008 – 18.01.2009

http://ow.ly/PYXlhttp://ow.ly/PYXl-

http://ow.ly/PYXl

On 27.12.2008, Israel launched a premeditated wide-scale terrorist attack on the besieged, unarmed civilian population of Gaza. During this latest Israeli genocide of Palestinians in Gaza 1419 Palestinians were killed by the IOF, including: 326 children, 111 women, 367 students, at least 15 teachers, 16 medical personnel, 21 farmers, 2 fishermen and 92 labourers. Over 5300 Palestinians were injured by the IOF attacks, including 600 who suffered permanent disability and 221 required amputations. Of the 1419 victims, 140 were killed by Israeli artillery shelling, “473 Palestinians were killed by missiles from Israeli fighter jets, 519 from unmanned drones, 92 from Israeli military helicopters, 7 from Israel warships.”[1] 92 Palestinians were shot dead by IOF soldiers, including 27 children. Of those shot dead “53 were shot exclusively in the upper body, 10 in the lower body, and the rest in both the upper and lower body.”[2] According to doctors present: “the most horrific war injuries in men, women, and children of all ages in numbers too large to comprehend. The wounded, dying, and dead have streamed into the overcrowded hospital in endless convoys of ambulances and private cars, and wrapped in blankets in the caring arms of others. The endless and intense bombardment from Israeli air, ground, and naval forces have missed no targets, not even hospitals.”[3]

Medical personnel were shot at while trying to save lives. At least 16 Palestinian medical personnel were killed by the IOF while on duty, and 258 Palestinians died because the IOF obstructed their medical treatment. Whole neighbourhoods were declared closed military zones to which ambulances had no access, and paramedics were denied access despite receiving calls for help from residents there. According to the testimony of Kahlid Abu Sa’ada registered by PCHR: “I was driving my ambulance in Beit Lahia….when the Israelis shelled us….I was with two paramedics. The Israeli shells killed one of them.” The other was badly injured. He’s now paralyzed. “A few days ago the Israelis bombed us” while we were trying to rescue a boy. The explosion “ripped (his) head off.” The Israelis killed other ambulance drivers and paramedics by bombing and shelling them. Dr. Eysa Saleh was on duty with the Medical Security Services when a shell blew his head off in Jabaliya.”[4]

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) published the names of the Palestinian martyrs killed by the Zionist entity during the genocide:

List of Gaza victims (http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/PressR/English/2008/list.pdf)

Source:

ww.pchrgaza.org

www.alhaq.org


Footnotes:

[1] http://www.alhaq.org/pdfs/gaza-operation-cast-Lead-statistical-analysis%20.pdf

[2] Ibid.

[3] http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11920

[4] Ibid.

-


What is the Aim of the Gaza Freedom March?

http://palsolidarity.org/2009/12/9972

As the days of December 2009 draw in, two events which each have a role to play in world peace draw closer. The first is on the 27th and is commemorating the start of the 22 day attacks on Gaza, an operation which targeted unarmed civilians, schools, hospitals, journalists and emergency staff. The second, The Gaza Freedom March will take place on the 31st. The Gaza Freedom March is a historic moment, the magnitude of which has not been seen in Palestine since 1967. Chiseled on the lessons learnt from South Africa’ struggle for liberation against apartheid and from Gandhi’ Satyagraha approach during the campaign for India’ independence, the Gaza Freedom March is walking in the same shoes.

In order to find out more about the Gaza Freedom March I met up with Dr. Haidar Eid, a member of the Steering Committee for the March in Gaza.

What is the aim of the Gaza Freedom March?

The goal of the Gaza Freedom March is to commemorate Gaza 2009. In January 2009 right after the end of operation Cast Lead we were all faced again by the deadly hermitic siege. The March is calling for an end to this siege.

How did the Gaza Freedom March come about?

In June CodePink led a delegation into Gaza and they started talking about a march. I was contacted by Palestinian solidarity groups from around the world and asked for my opinion. I liked the idea but it required a political context and it needed to be led by the people of Gaza. That is when Palestinian grassroots organizations came together to discuss the march and we suggested to the International Coalition to End the Siege that they include a statement of context which called for an end to the siege and which acknowledged the long history of Palestinian non-violent direct action inspired by South Africa and Gandhi. This includes the weekly demonstrations which take place at Bilin, Nilin and Al’ Masara, the entry of international boats in Gaza’ port which had not happened since 1967 and the work of international solidarity movements. More importantly, it has to acknowledge the growing BDS campaign.

The siege is an effect of occupation and a continuation of the apartheid system initiated in 1948. Since then two thirds of the Palestinian people have lost their land. The occupation is illegal and found to be so by the United Nations under resolution 194 which calls for the return of all refugees.

Who is represented on the steering committee?

We have all sectors of society. There are representatives of unions, labour, political, religious, youth, women, students and also Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC).

Who will participate?

As soon as we issued the statement of context all Palestinian civil organisations endorsed the Gaza Freedom March and there was global consensus.

The registration has now closed and 1400 people from 42 countries have registered and been processed. Palestinians living in 1948 land will also be participating in the March from the other side of the Erez Border Crossing.

What are the activities planned?

The 1400 internationals will join us hand in hand for a march that will start at 10am in Izbit Abed Rabbu towards the Erez Border Crossing with Israel. Izbit Abed Rabbu is the area which suffered the most damage and most horrendous war crimes during operation Cast Lead, something Judge Goldstone alluded to in his report. When we get to Erez there shall be speeches.

The attacks on Gaza will be commemorated New Years Eve at the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. A member of the Steering Committee for the March will address the people gathered in Bethlehem for this event.

Palestinian refugees living in refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan shall partake in the March by organizing their own rallies.

How can those people who cannot come to Gaza show their solidarity with the people of Gaza?

We are calling on 1.5 million conscientious people of the world to simultaneously rally with the 1.5 million inhabitants of Gaza in front of Israeli embassies in their country. Richard Falk, the 2008 appointed UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories has called Gaza the “world’s largest concentration camp”. Ilan Pappe has described the siege as “slow motion genocide”. After the 22 day massacre last winter we returned to the ongoing siege.

We ask freedom loving people to put pressure on their governments to sever all ties with Israel and to support the boycott of Israel.

Why do you believe this will be a historic moment for Palestine?

The March shall be the first mass mobilization of this size since 1967. Internationals will walk hand in hand with Palestinians modeled on the South African anti-apartheid movement of the 1980’s. This siege has been imposed upon Palestinian people due to them exercising their democratic choice. The significance of this March, however, also goes beyond the siege. As Palestinians 750,000 of us have been displaced and forced to become refugees. Palestinians living in 1948 land experience racial discrimination on daily basis and there is systematic policy of ethnic cleansing in place.

What is your message to the international community?

If I could put into a slogan the current climate in Gaza I would say “we are fed up”. The international community has only given us empty rhetoric and lip service and in the meantime we have been suffering. For this reason we rely on the people of the world and their power to change the course of the future. We believe in people to people solidarity in order to bring down the Israeli apartheid regime. We want peace with justice. This March shall be the first crack, the first concrete step to end the siege and the illegal occupation. This shall be a wake up call to the international community that as Palestinians we shall no longer tolerate hypocrisy.

What is your message to Israel?

You cannot go on committing war crimes and crimes against humanity as witnessed by judge Goldstone with impunity forever. Recent events in the UK against Livni have shown that also the world will not tolerate Nazi like acts committed by a Nazi like government against civilians.

To the people of Israel I say you voted for the most fascist government since 1948 expecting your government to completely get rid of Palestinians. History has shown us that this will only backfire and bring more wars affecting not only Palestinians but the entire Middle East and inevitably Israel. Exactly like apartheid South Africa campaigned when their state became a pariah state; this is your time to put pressure on your government to implement the UN resolution which calls for an end to the occupation and allows the return of refugees. Peace without justice is not peace.

What will happen after the March?

The March is not symbolic but rather we expect it to be part of a series of events which will lead to the end of the siege. We want to intensify and continue building a global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign which is human rights based and calling for the implementation of international law and an end to the occupation.

We will continue to host international delegations visiting us and together we will be calling for Israeli war criminals to be tried in international courts.

Bianca Zammit is a member of the International Solidarity Movement in Gaza and of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Israel Wages "Total Racism, Total War"

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2009/978/re82.htm

On the first anniversary of Israel's war on Gaza, shocking revelations are appearing on the methods and reasoning behind the war, writes Saleh Al-Naami

December 25, 2009

Mahmoud Hussein tries to hold back his tears as he looks at his 30-year-old brother Ahmed who suffers from colon cancer. The family is impatiently waiting for the Gaza border to open so Ahmed can travel abroad for treatment, since in light of the Israeli imposed siege, medical facilities in Gaza cannot treat his condition. Ahmed, who lives in Gabalya, north of Gaza, is not the only Palestinian who developed cancer at a relatively young age.

According to Palestinian medical sources, the number of patients with cancerous tumours residing in areas that the Israeli army targeted during its war on Gaza is on the rise. As the first anniversary of the war on Gaza approaches, the Palestinians are shocked to discover more of its damaging effects. A Palestinian woman whose house in the district of Al-Shaaf, east of Gaza City was targeted with white phosphorous missiles gave birth to a baby with a deformed heart. Doctors reported another pregnant woman in north Gaza, whose home was attacked with the same chemical agent, gave birth to a baby with the same deformity.

The infant's chances of survival are very low because under siege medical services in Gaza are not equipped to treat such cases. The mother told doctors that during the war she inhaled excessive amounts of white phosphorous smoke because of repeated attacks on her area. White phosphorous is a chemical incendiary agent that is highly combustible when mixed with oxygen. It burns through skin, body tissue and bones; the corpses of white phosphorous victims are usually heavily charred.

In a report marking the first anniversary of the war, the Dameer Centre for Human Rights reported "high levels of deformed births and miscarriages", and that the use of radioactive and toxic ammunition by the Israeli army on Gaza resulted in significant deterioration in the health of Palestinians. The report was based on a survey that found that health and environmental conditions in the Gaza Strip are worsening by the day as a result of Israel's aggression and border closure by occupying forces for the third consecutive year.

Meanwhile, Italian researchers revealed that the soil in Gaza now contains carcinogens and toxins as a result of Israel's use of internationally prohibited weapons during the last war on Gaza. In a news conference in Gaza City, experts said that these toxins and carcinogens are a high risk to unborn children, and called on the Palestinian Health Ministry to test all Palestinians in areas that were bombed during the war. The Italians, who carried out fieldwork in these areas, further warned that many Gazan residents would suffer from chronic gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses.

According to these experts, tests that were carried out inside Gaza indicated that 12 toxins and radioactive materials were released by Israel's abundant use of internationally prohibited weaponry. Such weapons led to the bodies of many victims being mangled.

More disturbing facts are being disclosed. Adala Human Rights Centre asserted that the Gaza Strip is now home to the highest number of disabled people in the world. Some four per cent of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, or 70,000 residents, have some form of disability. Their suffering is compounded further by Israel's refusal to allow the passage of necessary medication and rehabilitation materials for them. At the same time, Israel prevents any of them from travelling abroad to seek medical help.

As Palestinians mark the first anniversary of the war, Israelis are revealing the reasons behind their army's savage treatment of Palestinians during the war. An edict by Chief Military Rabbi Brigadier General Avi Ronzki to Israeli troops on the first anniversary of the war called for no mercy or compassion for Palestinians. The edict, quoted in the Israeli media, stated that, "the goal of the recent war on Gaza aimed to destroy and annihilate the enemy, not to take prisoners." It continued that, "some 80 jets focussed on various targets in Gaza; then the tanks began their assault. We fought the gentiles with all our willpower and force."

Oren Yiftahel, political science professor at Ben Gurion University in the Negev, described Israel's atrocities during the war. "It was expected Israeli behaviour and an extension of Zionist policy that believes in the annihilation of the Palestinian people, and erasing their history and existence. It ignores the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, which they are entitled to, and not out of Israeli charity."

Yiftahel argued in an article in Haaretz newspaper that, "Israel's invasion of Gaza was not purely a military operation to end missile attacks, or an attempt to restore Israel's deterrence capability or even an effort to impose order on others and oust the elected Hamas government. The war was a continuation of a long-standing strategy to deny, erase and eliminate any historic reference to the Palestinians and their existence."

He further accused all Israelis of participating in the hostile plot against the Palestinians, noting that Israeli politicians, artists, the media, university researchers and intellectuals supported this war with enthusiasm. Yiftahel asserted that Israel's war on Gaza, and Hamas specifically, came in reaction to Hamas's rise to power that undermined the possibility of reaching a two-state solution. "This solution is ideal for Israel because it would mean Israel could continue its settlement project indefinitely," he stated.

According to Yiftahel, the appointment of Ismail Haniyeh, who was born to a refugee family, as prime minister of the Hamas government gave Palestinians another reason to insist on the right of return for Palestinian refugees, which Israel believes is an issue that threatens its very existence. "Instead of confronting reality with all its complications, Israel resorted to state terrorism," wrote Yiftahel. "More bullets, explosives, killing of children and burning down towns will not succeed in silencing history. The time lost to war drums will be restored after they are muted."

Israeli historian Tom Segev believes that "one of the main goals of the war on Gaza was to exercise a principle rooted in Zionism, namely the necessity to strike against Palestinians to teach them a lesson. This is one of the main bases of the Zionist project since its inception." Segev explained that the thinking behind this is that "we, the Jews, represent modernisation and civilisation, logic and ethics. The Arabs are primitive savages of irrational violent tendencies, who are ignorant and must be disciplined and educated in the proper ways of thinking with the use of a carrot and stick."

Segev continued that Israel believed the war would topple Hamas from power, "out of another Zionist belief, namely the need to impose on the Palestinians a moderate leadership which will concede on national aspirations." Segev described Israel's reasons and goals of the war on Gaza as "revisiting failed beliefs, but Israel continues to rehash them from one war to the next."

In fact, Israeli political and military analyst Ofer Shelah was the first to point out that the assault on Gaza marked the birth of "a new defensive doctrine for Israel, namely for Israel to act as a rogue nation in the face of enemies who adopt a strategy of attrition and shelling at a distance." In other words, "to respond to sources of gunfire with a savage and massive military operation, irrespective of the number of casualties in its ranks."

These arguments explain the shocking outcome of the war on Gaza. During this war, Israel acted on a clear security principle of settling confrontation with the Palestinian people regardless of losses in civilian ranks.

Friday, December 25, 2009

WRONG!!! See update. Egypt Does the Right Thing -- Let's Hope They Let the Freedom March In Now!

UPDATE: REPORT ABOUT EGYPT ALLOWING ENTRY IS IN ERROR!

26 December 2009

Press Release – for immediate release

International Aid Convoy Members Prepare for Hunger Strike

Members of the Viva Palestina international aid convoy to Gaza will begin a hunger strike at 11.25 am tomorrow (27th) in protest at the Egyptian government's refusal to allow the convoy entry onto its soil.

Diplomatic negotiations are also taking place between the Turkish and Egyptian governments over the convoy's entry to Egypt. IHH, Turkey's main humanitarian aid agency, has 63 vehicles travelling on the convoy.

The Syrian government has also provided aid and vehicles, as has the government of Malaysia. More than 400 people from 17 countries are travelling on the 150 vehicle convoy, which is taking medical, humanitarian and educational aid to Gaza.

The convoy departed London on 6 December and have travelled nearly 3,000 miles across Europe and the Middle East. However, the convoy and its cargo of aid is now stopped in the Jordanian port town of Aqaba, having been denied entry into Egypt.

British MP, George Galloway, who is travelling with the convoy, said: 'Israel has kept Gaza under siege for three-and-half years against international law. It has not allowed aid or rebuilding materials in following its attack on Gaza earlier this year. Our convoy is determined to break the siege and take in urgently needed supplies Spirits are high in our camp in Aqaba, and we are going nowhere except to Gaza.'

It was at 11.25 am on December 27 2008, that Israel dropped its first bombs on the besieged population of Gaza. Three weeks later, following a sustained air, land and sea assault, more than 1,400 Palestinians had been killed.

The Viva Palestina hunger strikers will consume only liquids until the convoy is allowed entry into Egypt.

Convoy members will also mark the first anniversary of the beginning of Israel's Operation Cast Lead by holding a march through Aqaba, jointly with the Jordanians. In the evening, more than 1,400 candles will be lit for a vigil.


The convoy has been jointly organised by the charity Viva Palestina and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the UK's largest organisation campaigning for solidarity with the Palestinian people.

For more information on Viva Palestina and updates visit www.vivapalestina.org


******************************

Press release: Government of Egypt changes policy to allow humanitarian group Viva Palestina to enter Gaza December 27, 2009
gaza-freedom-march



Gaza Freedom March congratulates the Government of Egypt on its change of policy to allow international missions into Gaza during December with the decision to allow the Viva Palestina convoy to go into Gaza on December 27, 2009.

Organizers of Gaza Freedom March were told on December 20, 2009 by Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials that no international missions would be allowed to enter Gaza during December, including the Gaza Freedom March, because of serious security conditions at the border.
Today, December 23, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told Gaza Freedom March organizers that the decision had been made to alter its policy because of the “humanitarian assistance” nature of Viva Palestina.

Since the Gaza Freedom March is also bringing in humanitarian assistance items valued at tens of thousands of dollars and the border is now considered safe, Gaza Freedom March will make a formal request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on December 24, that that Government of Egypt reconsider the request of the Gaza Freedom March for entry of its 1360 delegates from 42 countries into Gaza through the Rafah crossing on December 27.

Everyone Can Drum

http://www.israeli-occupation.org/2009-12-23/everyone-can-drum/Link

During the first and last days of Hanukkah, the Jerusalem police arrested drummers and clowns who believe in nonviolence, coexistence and equality between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem.

As we sang, I thought that perhaps the education minister would tell the children the story of Musrara, the neighborhood in which his office is situated, and where until 1948, Arabs lived in the beautiful homes that Jews now inhabit. We were on our way to Sheikh Jarrah, to the homes where Palestinian families were evicted onto the street.

At noon on the last day of Hanukkah we marched, about 20 people, down Hanevi’im Street. The atmosphere was so relaxed that near the old stone building that houses the Ministry of Education, I thought about the civics classes the education minister had promised would be taught in schools. Perhaps he would begin the lessons with the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, a quarter million strong, who are not Israeli citizens, who live in an occupied territory annexed by the State of Israel contrary to international law.

They have Israeli identity cards, but they are considered only permanent residents. And even that is a temporary status: Those who travel abroad to study or are stuck on the other side of the wall (like tens of thousands of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem) lose their right to live in the city.

The court authorized Jewish families to come live in those homes instead, since before 1948, the homes belonged to a Jewish organization. How will the education minister explain that Arabs are forbidden to claim the homes they abandoned in 1948 – in Musrara, Talbieh, Katamon and all the beautiful neighborhoods where only Jews live today – but Jews are allowed to claim their former homes?

We sang to a samba beat; the drums set the beat and made us merry. And then, dozens of police arrived in huge vehicles, along with others riding horses, and forcibly dragged away my son and his drummer friends. The police did not explain; they refused to identify themselves; they gave us no reason for the arrest. Two hours later, at Sheikh Jarrah, police attacked the clowns and the drummers and arrested 20 of the Israelis who sat down and said “no more” to racism in Jerusalem.

Altogether, 50 were arrested over the course of a day and a half. In custody, they sang Hanukkah songs and peace songs, and after being released, they continued to drum and sing in the square outside the court. Their drums are still being held.

The Israel Police arrests drums and drummers in order to keep order. And order in Jerusalem means that Jews are by law more equal than Arabs. The Jerusalem Municipality awards the third of its citizens who are Palestinian less than 14 percent of its budget, and its declared policy is segregation and discrimination: the construction of Jewish neighborhoods on land expropriated from Palestinians, the razing of Palestinian homes that were built without a permit, the building of Jewish but not Palestinian schools, the creation of Jewish settlements, protected by security guards and police, in the middle of Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

The policy of “preserving a demographic majority” means as few Palestinians in Jerusalem as possible, and as many Jews as possible.

This is the crux of Israel’s entire policy. And the police arrest drummers so that the voices challenging this racist order are silenced.

Everyone has a pot that can be used as a drum. Sometimes, it is deep in the cupboard. Sometimes, it seems impossible to reach it.

But everyone can drum – drum in order to wake us all up and suggest that we can do things differently. Drum for Jews and Arabs to have a shared life in Jerusalem.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Nice Christmas Message from Israel: More Force Next Time in Gaza

Part of article below; whole article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/25/world/middleeast/25israel.html

TEL AVIV — In the year since Israel launched its devastating military offensive against Hamas in Gaza, the country’s political and military leaders have faced intense international condemnation and accusations of possible war crimes.

But Israel seems to have few qualms. Officials and experts familiar with the country’s military doctrine say that given the growing threats from Iranian-backed militant organizations both in Gaza and in Lebanon, Israel will probably find itself fighting another, similar kind of war.

Only next time, some here suggest, Israel will apply more force.

“The next round will be different, but not in the way people think,” said Giora Eiland, a retired major general and former chief of Israel’s National Security Council. “The only way to be successful is to take much harsher action.”

Such talk has raised alarm among some critics in Israel, but so far it has stirred little public debate.

Both the three-week campaign in Gaza, which ended on Jan. 18, and Israel’s monthlong war in 2006 against the Shiite Hezbollah organization in Lebanon have brought relative quiet to Israel’s borders.

Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, the chief of Israel’s military intelligence, said the source of the quiet was “not the adoption of Zionism by our enemies.” The main factor, he recently told an audience at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, is Israeli deterrence, starting with the war in Lebanon and continuing with the Gaza operation that the Israelis called Cast Lead.

But decisive victory against irregular forces has been elusive. In the military’s assessment, the calm is temporary and fragile; Hamas and Hezbollah are said to be rearming, making another confrontation only a matter of time.

While the Israeli military has a clear advantage in fighting conventional armies, it is still adapting to the new and complicated demands of asymmetric warfare. The military says it is contending with enemies who fight out of uniform and hide behind civilians, intentionally firing rockets out of populated areas into densely populated areas of Israel.

Israel’s objective, according to Gabriel Siboni, a retired colonel who runs the military program at the Institute for National Security Studies, is to shorten and intensify the period of fighting and to lengthen the period between rounds.

Israel was accused of using disproportionate force in Lebanon, particularly after it flattened the Dahiya district in Beirut, a Shiite neighborhood that housed the command and control headquarters of Hezbollah. Over the month, more than a thousand Lebanese were killed.

But Israeli experts say that as long as the targets are legitimate ones, the whole point is to try to overwhelm the enemy with maximum force.

The destruction of Dahiya “sent a message to Hezbollah of the consequences” of confrontation, Mr. Siboni said.

The campaign in Gaza, intended to halt years of rocket fire against southern Israel, left up to 1,400 Palestinians dead, including hundreds of civilians. The human toll, as well as the extensive destruction of property, prompted a United Nations mission led by an internationally renowned judge, Richard Goldstone, to accuse Israel of deliberately attacking civilians and of violations of the international laws of war.

Israel rejected the Goldstone report as biased and fundamentally flawed. Israel says that while mistakes were made, it chose its targets on purely military merits and went to extraordinary lengths to warn civilians in Gaza to leave areas under attack.

Display of Used Tear Gas Canisters Shot by Israeli army Earns Bil’in Activist an Arms Charge in Israeli Military Court

An exhibition of spent tear gas grenades and projectiles in the village of Bil'in for which Abu Rahmah was indicted on. Picture credit: Oren ZivActiveStills*
23 December 2009

For immediate release:

Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a school teacher and coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall, was indicted in an Israeli military court yesterday. Abu Rahmah was slapped with an arms possession charge for collecting used tear gas canisters shot at demonstrators in Bil’in by the army and showcasing them in his home.

An indictment was filed in a West Bank military court yesterday for incitement, stone throwing and arms possession charges against Bil’in Popular Committee coordinator, Abdallah Abu Rahmah. On receiving the indictment Adv. Gaby Lasky, Abu Rahmah’s lawyer said that "the army shoots at unarmed demonstrators, and when they try to show the world the violence used against them by collecting presenting the remnants – they are persecuted and prosecuted. What’s next? Charging protesters money for the bullets shot at them?"

On December 10, exactly one year after receiving the International League for Human Rights’ Carl Von Ossietzky Medal – on International Day of Human Rights – Abu Rahmah was arrested during an Israeli military night-time raid for his involvement in organizing unarmed protest against the Wall in the village of Bil’in. The indictment served yesterday also includes charges of incitement and stone throwing.

As part of a recent wave of repression against the Palestinian popular protest movement, Israel has charged numerous grassroots organizers with both stone throwing and incitement. In at least one case, that of Mohammed Khatib from Bil’in, the court found evidence presented on a stone-throwing charge to be falsified.

In the past six month, 31 residents of Bil’in have been detained by the military, and in neighboring Ni’ilin, 91 have been arrested in the past 18 months. Abdallah Abu Rahmah’s arrest and indictment, as well as that of Adeeb Abu Rahmah and the arrest of Jamal Juma’ of the Stop the Wall organization are part of a wider attempt to equate grassroots organizing with a hefty of incitement. This is part of the army’s strategy to use legal measures as a means of quashing the popular movement.

See here for an article on the subject from today’s Haaretz Newspaper.

* The above picture is for free-of charge single-use in internet publications only. Please include picture credit. For print and higher resolution please contact rnziv@yahoo.com

palsolidarity.org/2009/12/9917?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaig
n=Feed%3A+InternationalSolidarityMovementPalestine+(International
+Solidarity+Movement+Palestine)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Barack Obama and Langston Hughes on “Grumblers” and “Merry Christmas”

Part of Bruce Dixon's Greeting below; whole thing here: http://www.blackagendareport.com/?q=content/barack-obama-and-langston-hughes-%E2%80%9Cgrumblers%E2%80%9D-and-%E2%80%9Cmerry-christmas%E2%80%9D

Presidents have been issuing holiday greeting messages from their homes or cozy offices for a long time now, and Obama's will be on line any minute now. Those interested can probably find it at JackandJillPolitics.com, at whitehouse.gov, and any number of other places. But the ironic 1930 Christmas message of Langston Hughes, the poet laureate of Black America sounds, with the most minor edits, like it could have come from the lips any US president of the past hundred years, including Barack Obama.

Sixty-nine years ago Langston Hughes began his holiday poem Merry Christmas with these lines

Merry Christmas China

From the gun-boats in the river

Ten inch shells for Christmas gifts

And peace on earth forever

At the moment, the U.S. was hip-deep in the Chinese civil war, bankrolling and advising a string of opium-soaked warlord armies against communists and agitators, and conducting naval operations in Chinese rivers and off its coasts. Today our first black president's Pentagon, headed by the same team that ran George Bush's Pentagon, sits atop some 800 overseas military bases in a hundred countries with more than 2 million uniformed personnel. Our president will spend more on this military machine than the all the rest of the planet combined, fighting and preparing to fight what the National Security Doctrine calls “multiple overlapping wars” to control resources in distant lands in the interest “free trade and free markets.”

Langston's Christmas poem draws our attention to a part of the world much in today's headlines.

Merry Christmas, India

To Gandhi in his cell

From righteous Christian England

Ring out bright Christmas bell

Under our first black president, Afghanistan and Pakistan are part of a vast law-free zone in which daily shellings and air raids go unreported and unremarked except by the families of victims. Assassinations and kidnappings to fill America's world-wide network of secret prisons have replaced the open incarceration of real and suspected political foes. At least we knew Gandhi's name, what he was charged with, where he was locked up, what his sentence was, whether he got a day in court and whether his keepers mistreated him. We can't say that about hundreds or thousands of Obama's prisoners.

Merry Christmas Africa

From Cairo to he Cape

Sing hallelujah, praise the Lord

For murder and for rape

Some things have changed very little indeed. The four part series “The Ravaging of Africa” to which a link appears in our left column, is a comprehensive indictment of US policy in Africa, which has caused the death of some 26 million Africans since the 1960s, including nearly ten million in Congo alone. America's role as conscienceless predator was reaffirmed last week in Copenhagen, when the US categorically rejected the notion that it owed the rest of the world a debt for being the single major contributor to climate change over the last century and a half. Africans can drown or starve due to US -initiated climate change, but there will be no technology sharing, no reparations, nothing in the way of human solidarity between Africa and the West if the son of Africa in the White House has anything to say about it.