Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Boycott Israel! Nordstrom: Dump Ahava!

How to Help the "Children of Gaza" -- Children from the Video

In January 2009 over 1300 Palestinians were killed in Gaza. Around 300 of them children. When the ceasefire was declared, BAFTA winning film-maker Jezza Neumann arrived to follow the lives of 4 children over the course of a year. Through their eyes, and in their words, Children of Gaza gives us a unique insight into the impact of war on vulnerable young minds.

Despite the horrors they witnessed, Amal 9, Mahmoud & Omsyatte 12, and Ibraheem 11 still have hope and humour whilst living in the ruins of the Gaza Strip. Increasingly isolated by a blockade that prevents anyone from rebuilding their homes and their lives, Children of Gaza is a shocking, touching and uniquely intimate reflection on extraordinary courage in the face of great adversity.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"My Beautiful Palestine" -- By Samah Sabawi


When my parents were uprooted from Gaza, they carried my siblings and I on a journey that took them from the refugee camps, through the Arab Gulf all the way to Australia. We grew up in dozens of houses, always on the move from one contradiction to another, one culture to another, one life to another and one language to another. Throughout our life's journey, we knew beyond any doubt who we were and where we came from. We knew we were distinct. Our story was difficult to tell and school projects were particularly challenging. Like many others in the Diaspora we had to explain to teachers and peers where we are from and why the name of our country is not written on their maps. We became experts at reconciling the worlds and identities that inhabit us; feeling the weight of oppression in countries and places that offered us citizenship and freedom and traveling with ease with our Western passports while always remembering our relatives and loved ones under siege, under curfew, behind the checkpoints and under occupation. We appreciated our civil liberties in ways only those who were stripped from their human rights can. We, the generation born and raised in exile, began to see the world differently and as a result we now understand our human identity in a way that is truly unique.

My father always told us “To be a Palestinian means you must speak truth to power and you must never give up.” He was always busy teaching us through his poetry and his stories about being good citizens of the world, identifying with the oppressed and standing for the rights of those who have none. He brought home dozens of movies including "Ghandi", and "Cry Freedom" and he sat us down to watch the series "Roots", always discussing the movies and stories afterward. It didn’t matter if it was about abolishing slavery, apartheid in South Africa or non-violent civil disobedience in India, the message was always the same: Palestine is not one battle, it is an epic human story told again and again of how the oppressed stand up against the oppressors. "To understand our story, we must understand the age-old human battle for freedom". My father had a strong conviction that to be of use to Palestine you had to be a part of the world at large. “Palestine is not about a tiny spot on the map,” he always said, “it is about the awakening the human conscious”.

Lenny Foster to UN and Obama: Release Peltier
March 26, 2010
San Francisco, California

Lenny Foster (Dine’)
Navajo Nation Corrections Project
Board of Directors
International Indian Treaty Council

My name is Lenny Foster (Dine’) and I am the Program Supervisor for the Navajo Nation Corrections Project in Window Rock, Arizona and I have been a volunteer traditional Spiritual Advisor for American Indian adults and juveniles in the respective state and federal prisons for the past thirty years. The Navajo Nation Corrections Project is a counseling and advocacy program for Navajo and other Native American inmates incarcerated in state and federal prisons. I also work with families of incarcerated American Indian prisoners and our major activities include spiritual services such as the Sweat Lodge Ceremonies, Pipe Ceremonies, Talking Circles, Spiritual Gatherings, ecclesiastical visits to Death Row and probation and parole advocacy.

I have been a Board Member for the International Indian Treaty Council since spring 1992. The International Indian Treaty Council is an organization of Indigenous Peoples from North, Central and South Americas, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands working for the Sovereignty and Self Determination of Indigenous Peoples and recognition and protection of Indigenous Rights, Treaties, Traditional Culture and Sacred Lands.

My submission of this paper will serve to illustrate my support and respect for Leonard Peltier #89637-132, Ojibwa-Lakota from Turtle Mountain, North Dakota who is presently detained at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. He has been incarcerated for the last thirty four years. His case illustrates the discrimination and racist attitudes and human rights violations within the United States criminal justice system. His recent denial of his petition to be released on parole shows the biased and skewed decisions based on lack of compliance for the due process of his release on parole by the U.S. Parole Commission. He satisfactorily met the criteria for release on parole after thirty years of incarceration and assured by the Parole Act of 2005.

I have known Leonard Peltier since November of 1970 when we first met in Denver, Colorado when he was 26 years old and I was 22 years old. We were young and idealistic about making changes throughout Indian Country. I participated in the American Indian Movement with him and we both participated in the ancient ceremonial practices of the Lakota Sun Dance; Sweat Lodge Ceremonies and Pipe Ceremonies. He was a role model and mentor to the younger Indians and he was older brother to many of the younger men and women in the movement.

Leonard along with others was implicated in a shootout with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on June 26, 1975 in Oglala, South Dakota. These turn of events began an illegal and unjust incarceration against Leonard Peltier by the U.S. Government. He fled to Canada and was arrested in Canada on February 6, 1976 and he was extradited from Canada in December based on an affidavit signed by a Myrtle Poor Bear, Native American woman who was known to have serious mental health problems and a woman Leonard did not know.

Ms. Poor Bear claimed to have been Leonard Peltier’s girlfriend was not true or factual and yet she claimed to have been present at the time of the shooting and was witnessed to the shootings. She later confessed she had given false statements after being pressured, threaten and terrorized by the FBI agents.

Ms. Poor Bear wanted to testify about her treatment by the FBI agents and provide a full detailed report of threats by the FBI agents; however, the Federal Judge barred her testimony on the grounds of mental incompetence. She provided false testimony to convict Mr. Peltier and that fact is now considered moot. This conviction on disputed evidence led to a decision that convicted Leonard Peltier to two consecutive life terms in federal prison. This conviction was based on fabricated evidence and it ruined the confidence for a free and unbiased trial.

Leonard has been in the United State Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois; Leavenworth, Kansas; and Lewisburg, Pennsylvania and he has been an exemplary and model inmate with no incident reports. He has been a regular participant in the weekly Sweat Lodge ceremonies and Pipe Ceremonies which is a very positive spiritual experience for all those young Native prisoners who partake in the ancient cleansing and purification ceremony. I have been visiting him as his Spiritual Advisor since March 1985 at the United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas and I have been witness to his changes in his demeanor, spirituality and is a serene and a kind and very respectful person. He has become a very respected and revered elder. He is now sixty-six years old.

It is my opinion that Leonard Peltier is not a threat to the community nor would his release jeopardize the community much less “depreciate the seriousness of the law” or “promote disrespect for the law”. I have prayed and conducted the sweat lodge ceremony with him and he is a very genuine and exudes humanity. He has expressed remorse about the incident and prays for all who were there on that day on June 26, 1975 and I believed he has made amends and has made his prayers of forgiveness to the Creator. He has helped many and encouraged Indian prisoners to rehabilitate themselves by advocating a drug and alcohol free lifestyle while encouraging pride and learning about their culture and traditions. He is a father, grandfather, and a great grandfather. He is considered a wise elder among the younger Indian prisoners and I can attest to that fact because I have been visiting him for twenty five years and I have observed his maturity flourished. He has been experiencing severe health problems including high blood pressure, diabetes, losing his eyesight due to diabetes and a jaw that needs immediate medical attention and I hope and pray this serious condition warrants immediate release from prison to serve out his remaining days with his great grandchildren and grandchildren on his home reservation in North Dakota.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Talk about US/Israel Crisis -- Sabbah Report

U.S. Afghan General: "We Have Shot an Amazing Number of People [...], None [Were] a Threat"

NYTimes via Angry Arab Newservice

KABUL, Afghanistan — American and NATO troops firing from passing convoys and military checkpoints have killed 30 Afghans and wounded 80 others since last summer, but in no instance did the victims prove to be a danger to troops, according to military officials in Kabul.

“We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat,” said Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who became the senior American and NATO commander in Afghanistan last year. His comments came during a recent videoconference to answer questions from troops in the field about civilian casualties.

Though fewer in number than deaths from airstrikes and Special Forces operations, such shootings have not dropped off, despite new rules from General McChrystal seeking to reduce the killing of innocents. The persistence of deadly convoy and checkpoint shootings has led to growing resentment among Afghans fearful of Western troops and angry at what they see as the impunity with which the troops operate — a friction that has turned villages firmly against the occupation.

Failure to reduce checkpoint and convoy shootings, known in the military as “escalation of force” episodes, has emerged as a major frustration for military commanders who believe that civilian casualties deeply undermine the American and NATO campaign in Afghanistan.

Many of the detainees at the military prison at Bagram Air Base joined the insurgency after the shootings of people they knew, said the senior NATO enlisted man in Afghanistan, Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Hall.

“There are stories after stories about how these people are turned into insurgents,” Sergeant Major Hall told troops during the videoconference. “Every time there is an escalation of force we are finding that innocents are being killed.”

The war on WikiLeaks and Why It Matters -- GLenn Greenwald
I spoke this morning at length with Julian Assange, the Australian citizen who is WikiLeaks' Editor, regarding the increasingly aggressive war being waged against WikiLeaks by numerous government agencies, including the Pentagon. Over the past several years, WikiLeaks -- which aptly calls itself "the intelligence agency of the people" -- has obtained and then published a wide array of secret, incriminating documents (similar to this CIA Report) that expose the activities of numerous governments and corporations. Among many others, they posted the Standard Operating Manual for Guantanamo, documents showing how corrupt offshore loans precipitated the economic collapse in Iceland, the notorious emails between climate scientists, documents showing toxic dumping off the coast of Africa, and many others. They have recently come into possession of classified videos relating to civilian causalities under the command of Gen. David Petraeus, as well as documentation relating to civilian-slaughtering airstrikes in Afghanistan which the U.S. military had agreed to release, only to change their mind.

All of this has made WikiLeaks an increasingly hated target of numerous government and economic elites around the world, including the U.S. Government. As The New York Times put it last week: "To the list of the enemies threatening the security of the United States, the Pentagon has added, a tiny online source of information and documents that governments and corporations around the world would prefer to keep secret." In 2008, the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Center prepared a secret report -- obtained and posted by WikiLeaks -- devoted to this website and detailing, in a section entitled "Is it Free Speech or Illegal Speech?", ways it would seek to destroy the organization. It discusses the possibility that, for some governments, not merely contributing to WikiLeaks, but "even accessing the website itself is a crime," and outlines its proposal for WikiLeaks' destruction as follows (click on images to enlarge):

As the Pentagon report put it: "the governments of China, Israel, North Korea, Russia, Vietnam and Zimbabwe" have all sought to block access to or otherwise impede the operations of WikiLeaks, and the U.S. Government now joins that illustrious list of transparency-loving countries in targeting them.

Creative Palestine Solidarity Actions at AIPAC 2010 & at Congress

Pal Chronicle article tells about AIPAC conference content and then describes creative interventions. Excerpt:

Inside the Washington Convention Center, AIPAC was simultaneously calling for the US public to be kept in the dark regarding any disputes with Israel while asking taxpayers to fund 20% of Israel's defense budget. Outside it was a different story. Activists from CodePink, Veterans for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Avaaz, Jewish Voice for Peace and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation kept up a presence during the conference with signs and banners calling for respect for international law and human rights, an end to the siege of Gaza, Israeli apartheid and US taxpayer funding of war crimes.

Using street theatre, we set up a checkpoint to greet the participants, and I, in the role of a Palestinian woman, tried in vain to get through. I pleaded with the sometimes startled conference-goers to help me get to a hospital, but Tighe Barry, playing an IDF soldier at the checkpoint, pushed me away telling the AIPAC supporters, "You can pass. This is a Jewish only road."

During our presence outside the conference, I got an earful of everything from thoughtful debate to the most vulgar of insults to outright ignorance on the issues: "There is already a settlement freeze!" "Gaza isn't under siege, Israel is!" "AIPAC has nothing to do with policy!" This last remark was made while standing under the enormous sign reading 'AIPAC Policy Conference.'

We were outnumbered roughly 100 to 1, yet the very site of us literally sent some people over the edge. A few people even resorted to violence, shoving and hitting the activists. During a press conference held outside the Convention Center, we were constantly interrupted, with people shouting and walking in front of the cameras. Josh Ruebner of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation rightly judged this as a classic example of the AIPAC crowd trying to completely control the debate so that no other voices can be heard.

But there was at least some debate going on inside the conference. Hadar Susskind of the new self-proclaimed pro-Peace pro-Israel lobby J Street was being interviewed by the BBC when Alan Dershowitz, one of the conference's principal speakers, approached and the two got into a heated debate. As the press gathered around, Dershowitz asked "How can you not agree that Goldstone is a despicable human being?" referring to the well-respect South African judge who lead the UN fact-finding mission investigating the Israeli assault on Gaza. AIPAC security quickly moved in to usher the argument outside the building. A French documentary crew had their credentials revoked after refusing to leave.

The second day of protests outside the conference made use of satire to try to get the message through. CodePink issued a fake press release announcing AIPAC's support for a settlement freeze in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The phony release was picked up by several news outlets prompting AIPAC to issue a statement refuting the claim, and thereby confirming that they are not in line with US policy on the issue or the majority of US citizens. Some conference participants were then questioning why AIPAC was not supporting a settlement freeze.

Later that morning, 'Netanyahu and the Settlements' arrived at the conference. Activists with the global online advocacy group showed up wearing cardboard boxes shaped like settlement housing along with someone in a Netanyahu mask wearing a Caterpillar hardhat chanting, "Build settlements, not peace." Later that afternoon, nicely dressed activists escorted the conference participants: "Right this way to the Apartheid Conference."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Health Care Reform, In Name Only -- Political Theatrics

The public option has always been the fundamental obverse in the fight for a more realistic and compatible solution which is supported by the right and left; House Progressives once stated they would never vote for a reform bill which omits this central motion.

What is Public Option?

The public health care option would “enable citizens and small businesses to purchase health insurance meeting the minimum federal standard. Persons covered by other employer plans or by state insurance plans such as Medicare would not be eligible to obtain coverage from the exchange and therefore could not obtain this form of federal health insurance. The federal government’s health insurance plan would be financed entirely by premiums without subsidy from the Federal government.”

According to an article published by

“President Obama campaigned on a promise to make a government healthcare plan available for the uninsured to buy into, and Democrats generally support the idea, on the belief that it would offer lower premiums and force private insurers to do the same.”

Now,we either need to admit that Barack Obama neglected to abide by his campaign promise or continue making concessions for these blatant improprieties.

Pelosi On The Public Option: “We had it, we wanted it … it’s not in the reconciliation,”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated on the 12th of March,before the passage of the pseudo-Health Reform Bill, that the public health insurance option would not be included in a package of fixes to healthcare reform legislation“.

Per the Huffington Post about a June 2009 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, “… 76 percent of respondents said it was either ‘extremely’ or ‘quite’ important to ‘give people a choice of both a public plan administered by the federal government and a private plan for their health insurance.”

According to a New York Times/CBS News poll: ” 72 percent of those questioned supported a government-administered insurance plan — something like Medicare for those under 65 — that would compete for customers with private insurers. Twenty percent said they were opposed.”

[via USLiberals.About.Com]

Buy Into Faulty Health Insurance Bill Or Face A Fine:

Co-chair of the Socialist Party USA, Billy Wharton (an actual Socialist) weighed in on the recently passed Health Care Bill,propounding that:

The bill passed by the House yesterday would mandate all Americans to purchase health insurance coverage or face a fine. It would also create health insurance exchanges, an idea crafted by the right-wing Heritage Foundation, where people would purchase insurance from private companies. Those not eligible for Medicaid but who still could not afford to purchase insurance would receive public funds from the federal government to purchase bare bones coverage insurance plans from private insurers.

Starting in 2014, those who do not purchase health insurance will pay a $695 fine each year, with a few exceptions for low-income individuals. One problem: Unless premiums fall or are heavily subsidized, the fine may not be steep enough to encourage healthy young individuals to purchase insurance – and without their participation, the cost of providing insurance to the rest of the population could soar — or some companies might simply stop writing new insurance policies altogether.

This Health Care Bill,to me,seemed to be a bumbling rush for Democrats and the POTUS. They wanted their ‘victory’ and by God they were going to get it – regardless of whatever flaws were embedded within the bill itself.

The Leftists who support the Health Care Bill have continuously stated that yes,there are items in the bill they do not support but it is a ‘positive step forward’.

This,my friends, is the mentality of the sheeple – the men and women who,rather than fighting for true Health Care Reform,wish to make the best of whatever they are given by the Government.

This bill is not great,not ok – not even good.

When politicians neglect to fulfill the promises,when they make concessions – regardless of the people’s opinion and their say – then why should we remain loyal to them?

Also,why is the Left aligning with partisan political masquerades and relinquishing the cries for true health reform?

The people need,not want,Health Care Reform that is revolutionary beyond it’s title.

This bill is Health Care Reform,in name only.

By the Maps: Understanding Israel's Increasing Grip On Jerusalem

Very good 5 min video on this.

"War on Earth" -- Canadian Chris Benjamin
The world's militaries release nearly a 10th of all carbon emissions, yet are exempt from international climate change treaties. That exemption was a neat trick by the Bush administration, which lobbied for it in Kyoto and still didn't sign the damn treaty.

Canada also chooses destruction over protection. Almost all the money we spend in Afghanistan is for fighting. A mere sliver goes to humanitarian aid.

The impact of these "investments" is beyond tragic. Putting aside the obvious direct human toll, consider the even more lasting remnants.

Since 1991 the US military has turned the world's breadbasket, Eden itself, into a Woody Guthrie dustbowl ballad. Iraq is suffering a massive water shortage, and 90 percent desertification. Its floodplains are dry and its groundwater severely depleted, its marshes have been drained and the former food exporter now imports 80 percent of its sustenance.

Lucky Iraqis who don't get blown up or starve to death might live long enough to die of depleted uranium induced cancer. A leaked UK Atomic Energy report revealed that the 50 tonnes of depleted uranium unleashed on Iraq during the first Oil War could "cause up to half a million additional cancer deaths over several decades."

Back in ancient history, the military used Agent Orange to defoliate Vietnamese forests, expose enemy troops, destroy crops and starve peasants. Fourteen percent of South Vietnam's forests were destroyed.

Vietnamese children born long after the war have dioxin levels 300 times higher than the acceptable level. They have suffered birth defects, skin and lung cancers and serious mental and psychological challenges.

The damage is not all in far away hotspots. John Hummel, a health researcher in British Columbia, identifies 12 Canadian federal sites contaminated with chemical or biological weapons. Those don't include military oceanic contamination.

Right here in Halifax, a $42.7-billion company, Lockheed Martin, enjoys Canadian and Nova Scotian subsidies. Last year, the company won $1.8 million in payroll rebates from the province, after promising 100 new jobs. This was after it got $2 billion from the feds to upgrade and maintain Navy frigates in Halifax Harbour.

"For a billion dollars we could have 6,000 new jobs at Environment Canada," notes Tamara Lorincz, director of the Nova Scotia Environment Network.

She adds that Nova Scotia is the only province to have a Minister of Military Relations and an Advisor of Military Affairs. According to the province's website, "This reflects on the long and proud history of the relationship between the military and its host province of Nova Scotia."

"Even my enviro friends have a heroic vision of the military," Lorincz says. "But Canada ranks 55th in peacekeeping, our focus has shifted away from peace."

This shift doesn't reflect Canadian values as expressed in polls. Our top priorities are always health, education and environment. So why does government spend this way?

"Lockheed Martin has 21 paid lobbyists on Parliament Hill," Lorincz says, "and none from environment, women or peace groups, which can't afford it."

Money taLKS.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Have a Nice World War, Folks" -- John Pilger
March 25, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- Here is news of the Third World War. The United States has invaded Africa. US troops have entered Somalia, extending their war front from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and now the Horn of Africa. In preparation for an attack on Iran, American missiles have been placed in four Persian Gulf states, and “bunker-buster” bombs are said to be arriving at the US base on the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

In Gaza, the sick and abandoned population, mostly children, is being entombed behind underground American-supplied walls in order to reinforce a criminal siege. In Latin America, the Obama administration has secured seven bases in Colombia, from which to wage a war of attrition against the popular democracies in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay. Meanwhile, the secretary of “defence” Robert Gates complains that “the general [European] public and the political class” are so opposed to war they are an “impediment” to peace. Remember this is the month of the March Hare.

According to an American general, the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is not so much a real war as a “war of perception”. Thus, the recent “liberation of the city of Marja” from the Taliban’s “command and control structure” was pure Hollywood. Marja is not a city; there was no Taliban command and control. The heroic liberators killed the usual civilians, poorest of the poor. Otherwise, it was fake. A war of perception is meant to provide fake news for the folks back home, to make a failed colonial adventure seem worthwhile and patriotic, as if The Hurt Locker were real and parades of flag-wrapped coffins through the Wiltshire town of Wooten Basset were not a cynical propaganda exercise.

“War is fun”, the helmets in Vietnam used to say with bleakest irony, meaning that if a war is revealed as having no purpose other than to justify voracious power in the cause of lucrative fanaticisms such as the weapons industry, the danger of truth beckons. This danger can be illustrated by the liberal perception of Tony Blair in 1997 as one “who wants to create a world [where] ideology has surrendered entirely to values” (Hugo Young, the Guardian) compared with today’s public reckoning of a liar and war criminal.

Western war-states such as the US and Britain are not threatened by the Taliban or any other introverted tribesmen in faraway places, but by the anti-war instincts of their own citizens. Consider the draconian sentences handed down in London to scores of young people who protested Israel’s assault on Gaza in January last year. Following demonstrations in which paramilitary police “kettled” (corralled) thousands, first-offenders have received two and a half years in prison for minor offences that would not normally carry custodial sentences. On both sides of the Atlantic, serious dissent exposing illegal war has become a serious crime.

Silence in other high places allows this moral travesty. Across the arts, literature, journalism and the law, liberal elites, having hurried away from the debris of Blair and now Obama, continue to fudge their indifference to the barbarism and aims of western state crimes by promoting retrospectively the evils of their convenient demons, like Saddam Hussein. With Harold Pinter gone, try compiling a list of famous writers, artists and advocates whose principles are not consumed by the “market” or neutered by their celebrity. Who among them have spoken out about the holocaust in Iraq during almost 20 years of lethal blockade and assault? And all of it has been deliberate. On 22 January 1991, the US Defence Intelligence Agency predicted in impressive detail how a blockade would systematically destroy Iraq’s clean water system and lead to “increased incidences, if not epidemics of disease”. So the US set about eliminating clean water for the Iraqi population: one of the causes, noted Unicef, of the deaths of half a million Iraqi infants under the age of five. But this extremism apparently has no name.

Norman Mailer once said he believed the United States, in its endless pursuit of war and domination, had entered a “pre-fascist era”. Mailer seemed tentative, as if trying to warn about something even he could not quite define. “Fascism” is not right, for it invokes lazy historical precedents, conjuring yet again the iconography of German and Italian repression. On the other hand, American authoritarianism, as the cultural critic Henry Giroux pointed out recently, is “more nuance, less theatrical, more cunning, less concerned with repressive modes of control than with manipulative modes of consent.”

This is Americanism, the only predatory ideology to deny that it is an ideology. The rise of tentacular corporations that are dictatorships in their own right and of a military that is now a state with the state, set behind the fa├žade of the best democracy 35,000 Washington lobbyists can buy, and a popular culture programmed to divert and stultify, is without precedent. More nuanced perhaps, but the results are both unambiguous and familiar. Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, the senior United Nations officials in Iraq during the American and British-led blockade, are in no doubt they witnessed genocide. They saw no gas chambers. Insidious, undeclared, even presented wittily as enlightenment on the march, the Third World War and its genocide proceeded, human being by human being.

In the coming election campaign in Britain, the candidates will refer to this war only to laud “our boys”. The candidates are almost identical political mummies shrouded in the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes. As Blair demonstrated a mite too eagerly, the British elite loves America because America allows it to barrack and bomb the natives and call itself a “partner”. We should interrupt their fun.

Reminder: Vigil for Gaza- End the Israeli Occupation. Saturday, March 27

Saturday, March 27

Noon-2:00 pm

Westlake Plaza, 4th & Pine

Amin Odeh
"Stand up for what is right, even if you are standing alone"

"World Relief Rejects Job Applicant Over His Faith" -- Lornet Turnbill, Seattle Times

This is what happens when the government farms out services to faith-based organizations. 70% of this group's money comes from our taxes and they are allowed to discriminate!


Saad Mohammad Ali had volunteered for six months at World Relief, helping the agency resettle arriving Iraqi refuges, when a manager suggested he apply for an Arabic-speaking caseworker job.

The 42-year-old SeaTac resident had been an interpreter for the U.S. government in Iraq before coming to the U.S. two years ago — himself as a refugee.

With a degree in statistics, strong English skills and basic knowledge of American culture, Mohammad Ali, who now works as a baggage handler at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, could help his arriving countrymen temper their typically high expectations of life in America.

But a few days after he applied for the position last December, the Muslim and father of three got an unexpected call from the same manager at World Relief: She was sorry, she told him, but the agency couldn't offer him the job because he is not Christian.

The response may have surprised Mohammad Ali and others who hear his story, but the practice is not new: World Relief is well within its right to reject him for employment.

Recognizing the need of faith-based organizations to maintain an atmosphere of shared values and principles, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 permits them to hire based on religion. Such groups, largely philanthropic, range from soup kitchens and drug-counseling services to refugee-resettlement agencies.

Among these are organizations like World Relief, which provides aid to some of the world's most vulnerable, and operates in the U.S., helping resettle refugees from all cultural and religious backgrounds.

Grounded in evangelical faith, the Baltimore-based organization receives up to 70 percent of its funding from government sources, with the rest from private donors, including churches seeking assurances that the religious values of those carrying out the agency's work are similar to their own.

Staff members at the agency also say the work they do can be stressful and so they pray during meetings to help ease that stress — a practice they believe might make non-Christians uncomfortable.

"Four Cousins and Their Funerals" -- Nour Odeh, Al Jazeera

As the men prayed ahead of the funeral, grief and pride kept some of the teens’ friends silent and immobile. Photos by Nour Odeh

Reporting on the death of children is never an easy task. It challenges your sense of professionalism and puts you face to face with the strongest of emotions; a mother’s inconsolable grief at the loss of her child.

On Sunday, I went through this unforgettable experience - four times.

It started out with news coverage of a funeral for 16-year-old Mohamad Qadus and his cousin Usaid - 18 years. They were shot dead by Israeli soldiers at the conclusion of a day of demonstrations in their small village of Iraq Burin.

The mood was so sombre; you could feel it walking around… Men silent and serious, women distraught and in tears.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Against Pro-Israel" - Robert Wright

Are you anti-Israel? If you fear that, deep down, you might be, I have important news. The recent tension between Israel and the United States led various commentators to identify hallmarks of anti-Israelism, and these may be of diagnostic value.

As you’ll see, my own view is that they aren’t of much value, but I’ll leave it for you to judge.

Symptom no. 1: Believing that Israel shouldn’t build more settlements in East Jerusalem. President Obama holds this belief, and that seems to be the reason that Gary Bauer, who sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, deems Obama’s administration “the most anti-Israel administration in U.S. history.” Bauer notes that the East Jerusalem settlements are “entirely within the city of Jerusalem” and that Jerusalem is “the capital of Israel.”

That’s artful wording, but it doesn’t change the fact that East Jerusalem, far from being part of “the capital of Israel,” isn’t even part of Israel. East Jerusalem lies beyond Israel’s internationally recognized, pre-1967 borders. And the common assertion that Israel “annexed” East Jerusalem has roughly the same legal significance as my announcing that I’ve annexed my neighbor’s backyard. In 1980 the United Nations explicitly rejected Israel’s claim to possess East Jerusalem. And the United States, which normally vetoes U.N. resolutions that Israel finds threatening, chose not to do so in this case.

In short, accepting Gary Bauer’s idea of what it means to be anti-Israel seems to involve being anti-truth. So I don’t accept it. (And if you’re tempted to accept the common claim that Israel is building only in “traditionally Jewish” parts of East Jerusalem, a good antidote is this piece by Lara Friedman and Daniel Seidemann, published on Foreign Policy Magazine’s excellent new Middle East Channel.)

Symptom no. 2: Thinking that some of Israel’s policies, and America’s perceived support of them, might endanger American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan (by, for example, giving Jihadist recruiters rhetorical ammunition). This concern was reportedly expressed last week by Vice President Joe Biden to Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. And General David Petraeus is said to worry about the threat posed to American troops — and to America’s whole strategic situation — by the perception of American favoritism toward Israel.

Identifying threats to American troops is part of a general’s job, and it seems to me Petraeus could honestly conclude — without help from dark “anti-Israel” impulses — that some of those threats are heightened by the Israel-Palestine conflict and America’s relationship to it. But Max Boot, writing on Commentary’s Web site, seems to disagree; if Petraeus indeed holds such opinions, that’s a sign of “anti-Israel sentiment,” in Boot’s view.

Now, for a lionized American general to even hint that America’s stance toward Israel might threaten American troops is a serious public relations problem for Boot’s ideology. That, presumably, is why Boot tries to show that this “anti-Israel” view, though attributed to Petraeus, is not in fact Petraeus’s view. Specifically, Boot aims to discredit journalists who attributed this quotation to Petraeus: “The [Israel-Palestine] conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel … . Meanwhile, Al Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support.”

Boot assures us that this passage, far from being a good guide to Petraeus’s thinking, was just “pulled from the 56-page Central Command ‘Posture Statement’ filed by his staff with the Senate Armed Services Committee.” Well, I don’t know who did the filing, but the document itself is titled “Statement of General David H. Petraeus … Before the Senate Armed Services Committee.” So I’m guessing it’s a fair guide to his views — in which case, by Boot’s lights, Petraeus is anti-Israel, right? And in which case I’ll reject Boot’s criterion for anti-Israelism.

Boot has an ally in Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League. Foxman said the perspective attributed to Biden and Petraeus “smacks of blaming Jews for everything.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Israelis Are Behaving Like Spoiled Rich Brats -- Udi Aloni
(via Aletho News)
The terrifying specter of non-violent resistance to the occupation and the apartheid regime is hovering over the State of Israel, and all the state's dignitaries have been recruited to battle it.

This non-violent resistance operates both in areas under Israel's reign of control, in the form of a popular struggle on both sides of the green line, and across the globe, through the Israeli and international affirmative response to the Palestinian call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions on Israel, until it ends the occupation and grants full equality to people from both nations living under its rule.

As an act of solidarity with the subjugated Palestinian people, a group of Jewish Israelis has decided to join those Palestinians who have chosen the non-violent struggle for civic and national justice.

This act has given politically conscientious Jewish Israelis a golden opportunity to join a campaign against their own government without forsaking their own people. Indeed, this act leads the way towards a broader joint struggle with the oppressed people, through a rebuilding of our fundamental human values, enabling us to do away with the friend/foe dichotomy, which lies at the root of Israeli racism and anxiety.

One should hope that this non-violent resistance, led by a popular Palestinian leadership, will evolve into a binational Palestinian-Jewish front for an equitable and egalitarian political solution.

Right-wing groups and government organs have joined forces with all their might at the face of this new adversary who has risen up to challenge the decades-long racist theft of land from one ethnic group and its transfer into the hands of another. This is not surprising.

It is the hysterical reaction coming from so-called "leftist" circles which ought to be considered more surprising. Those "liberals" prefer to march, shamed and humiliated, alongside the Netanyahu-Barak-Lieberman triangle, than associate themselves with enlightened Palestinians.

From their viewpoint, violating a Tel Avivian's right to listen to Elton John in concert here is equivalent to, and possibly worse than, violating a Palestinian farmer's right to cultivate his land. They accuse the "radicals" of opposing dialogue, though the support for the non-violent struggle and the boycott campaign is precisely what has breathed new life into the cooperation between action groups from both nations.
The call issued to rock musicians not to perform in Israel, which has elicited angry responses in Israel, is aimed at thwarting the normalization of occupation and apartheid, a normalization reflected in the insouciant everyday life of the city of Tel Aviv.

The majority of Jewish Israelis are complicit in the perpetuation of the current state of affairs. When growing groups of conscientious people refuse to play the game of building a fictitious democratic sand castle on the shores of the Mediterranean, the Israeli Jew behaves like a spoiled rich brat, who would rather destroy his own castle than see natives share his world and his dreams.

As long as the Jewish settler who is sitting on the plundered land of Bil'in, and the contractor from uptown Tel Aviv who is making a fortune from building on that land, are free to go to the Pixies concert, while the original inhabitants of Bil'in are prevented from doing so, simply because they are Arab - the concert should be regarded as an apartheid concert.

Neither establishment-drafted artists nor the President of the Israel's Supreme Court can erase this sign of infamy from the collective face of Israeli society. Only those modest, yet determined, groups of individuals who have joined the non-violent Palestinian struggle can succeed in this. On that day, instead of smearing them as "irrelevant", "puritan", "condescending" and "self-hating", the following statement will apply to them: never was so much owed by so many to so few.

Lily Tomlin as Ernestine at Controlled Healthcare Ins. Co.

US Activist Rachel Corrie Remembered in Film -- Russia Today Interviews Simone Bitton

"The Killing Zone - Israel/Palestine"

Monday, March 22, 2010

Boycott Israel! At Seattle Jewish Film Fest

Consul General of Israel for the Pacific Northwest region Akiva Tor was making an appearance. Voices of Palestine sends a message: "Real Change Instead of Reel Change."
Boycott Israeli products, including movies.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Did You Know: The Founders of the New York Times Were Anti-Zionist Jews???

Very interesting article by Canadian professor. Excerpts below. The story of what happened to the paper between then and now would explain a lot about this country. Linda J.

"Is it Anti-Semitic to Defend Palestinian Human Rights?" by Edward Corrigan

In March 1919 United States Congressman Julius Kahn presented an anti-Zionist petition to President Woodrow Wilson as he was departing for the Paris Peace Conference.

The petition was signed by 31 prominent American Jews. The signatories included Henry Morgenthau, Sr., ex-ambassador to Turkey; Simon W. Rosendale, ex-attorney general of New York; Mayor L. H. Kampner of Galveston, Texas; E. M. Baker, from Cleveland and president of the Stock Exchange; R. H. Macy’s Jesse I. Straus; New York Times publisher Adolph S. Ochs; and Judge M. C. Sloss of San Francisco. Part of the petition read:

…we protest against the political segregation of the Jews and the re-establishment in Palestine of a distinctively Jewish State as utterly opposed to the principles of democracy which it is the avowed purpose of the World’s Peace Conference to establish. Whether the Jews be regarded as a “race” or as a “religion,” it is contrary to the democratic principles for which the world war was waged to found a nation on either or both of these bases.

Later in article:

In 1943, a group of 92 Reform rabbis, and many other prominent American Jews, created the American Council for Judaism with the express intent of combating Zionism.

Included in the Council’s leadership were Rabbi Morris S. Lazaron of Baltimore; Lessing J. Rosenwald, the former chairman of the Sears, Roebuck & Company, who became president of the Council; Rabbi Elmer Berger who became its executive director; Arthur Hays Sulzberger, publisher of The New York Times; and Sidney Wallach of the American Jewish Committee.

An example of their views on Zionism is Palestine, a pamphlet published by the American Council for Judaism, 1944, p.7 [American Council for Judaism Records (1942-1968), American Jewish Archives. Cincinnati, OH] which stated as follows: “… the concept of a theocratic state is long past. It is an anachronism. The concept of a racial state — the Hitlerian concept — is repugnant to the civilized world, as witness the fearful global war in which we are involved.”

The American Council for Judaism was founded to expressly oppose Zionism.

"The Legal and Uncontroversial Issues Israel & Palestine"

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Two Cheers for Netanyahu -- Exposure of Obama Complete by John Walsh
March 19, 2010

Joe Biden got torpedoed in Israel last week, no question about it. Not as bad as the lethal attack on the USS Liberty, but pretty nasty nonetheless. Biden, however, soldiered on, conferring with his boss for some 90 minutes and leaving the food cold at the Netanyahu homestead.

Bibi’s humiliation of Biden and Obama brought out the whole of the punditry, some of it going so far as to criticize the Zionist state. Even Tom Friedman waxed indignant, counseling that the hapless Veep should have packed up and gone home. But, like Biden, Friedman is certain to get over it just as surely as he recanted recently when he had the poor judgment to utter a kind word about China. Uri Avnery captured the Biden fiasco best, observing that a weakling with spit on his face calls it rain. And Pat Buchanan observed that Biden remained in "full pander mode" even as Israel kicked its American poodle. But by midweek the falsehoods had begun to take hold and the punditry was starting to rewrite the story, with Maureen Dowd spinning the incident as a smackdown of Bibi by Barack who had finally "lost his temper." This insight rivaled her accompanying characterization of Israeli colonies in East Jerusalem as "a domestic zoning issue." And by Wednesday, op-eds in the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere were blaming the whole incident on Barry for bringing up the "settlement" issue in the first place. Finally toward week’s end on Thursday the Washington Post revealed that Barry and Bibi had reached a secret understanding that the settlement construction could continue so long as they remained out of public view. Sic semper Obama.

Netanyahu, however, deserves the undying gratitude of every real progressive in the U.S. This past year has been like a dance of the seven veils for Obama. They had been all teased away, save for one. The veil of peace, the veil of civil liberties, the veil of environmentalism, single-payer, nuclear disarmament (ripped away by a big new budget for nukes), opposition to the banksters – stripped away one by one. The only remaining vestment was opposition to Israel’s colonies. And Bibi tore that one off between breakfast and (delayed) dinner, leaving Obama standing as naked as Ishtar or Salome.

So thanks, Bibi, for finishing the job. Now that it’s done we can expect all those who aggressively championed candidate Obama to broadcast effusive apologies for so doing. Let us never forget that Obama was not just the candidate of the Democrats but the hands down choice of the most "progressive" wing of the Party, its dream candidate. By revealing Obama for what he is, the limitations of the Dems are laid bare. Obama is all we can expect from them, and it is not much.

By now Obama’s backers surely recognize that they should not have urged him on us, just because he was so "cool" in schooling and appearance, or because all their friends liked him. Surely by now they realize that they were not voting for prom king but for the Emperor of the U.S.

With Obama’s exposure completed by Bibi, we can expect an apology from the leaders of PDA like Norman Solomon, from the message controllers at The Nation, from other gate keepers in the progressive" movement, from Tom Hayden, Medea Benjamin, Phyllis Bennis and other leaders of UFPJ and the official peace movement, even perhaps from Surely they will be in print soon, promising no more pigs in a poke that turn out to be rats when let out of the bag. At the least they will apologize profusely for imposing Obama on us.

I can hardly wait to hear from them.

John V. Walsh can be reached at

Friday, March 19, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"Brazil steps between Israel and Iran" -- Pepe Escobar

Excerpt of article below; whole article here:
Not even at his Abrahamic best would Lula have been able to mollify Zionists and assorted hardliners. Anyway, Lula told the Israeli daily Ha'aretz what every serious player in the Middle East already knows; the "peace process" is going nowhere, and bringing new mediators such as Brazil to the table is the only way forward.

And the same applied to the Iranian dossier: "The [world] leaders I spoke to believe that we must act quickly, otherwise Israel will attack Iran." Lula is convinced that further sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program are counter-productive. And this quote is bound to resonate globally, "We can't allow to happen in Iran what happened in Iraq. Before any sanctions, we must undertake all possible efforts to try and build peace in the Middle East."

The official Brazilian government view - echoed by much of the international community (that is, not the exclusive club of Washington and the usual European suspects) - is that everything is still to be negotiated with Iran over its nuclear dossier. Lula is adamant: Iran has a right to develop a peaceful nuclear program in terms of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to which it is a signatory.

Brazil is currently a rotating member of the United Nations Security Council. As much as China, it will not support new US-driven sanctions on Iran - regardless of US Secretary of State Robert Gates spinning that the US has enough backing to advance a fourth, tough round of sanctions, with Saudi Arabia finally persuading China. China will never vote against its own national security interest - and Iran is a matter of Chinese national security. Lula will be in Tehran in May and will meet - again - with President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Hardline Zionists are - what else - fuming.

Lula knows very well that so-called "smart sanctions" that would apply mainly to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) - in charge of the bulk of economic and political power in Iran - would also affect millions of civilians connected to IRGC-controlled businesses, and thus the population at large, which is already paying the price for the current sanctions. The IRGC controls at least 60 ports in the Persian Gulf. Preventing Asia from doing business with Iran would imply a naval blockade - and that's a declaration of war.

How not to push Iran
Lula has hit the Middle East at a crucial juncture - just as Netanyahu's government has decided to build more settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, even to the detriment of crucial US support on the Iranian front.

Ironically, it's on the economic front, rather than geopolitics, that Brazil is managing to seduce the Israeli establishment. Israel signed a free-trade agreement (FTA) with Mercosur [1] - the fifth-largest bloc in terms of gross domestic product in the world - much to the chagrin of Palestinians, who identify the FTA as a powerful boost to the Israeli military-industrial complex.

And this when it is clear that Brazil is strictly in favor of a viable Palestinian state according to the 1967 borders. This FTA carries a key strategic provision - it allows the transfer of weapons technology to Mercosur members. Thus weapons responsible for the repression in Gaza will soon be available in South America.

On a parallel front, bolstering Brazil's role as mediator, Israeli President Shimon Peres personally suggested to Lula that Brazil could make two visits - by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and by Netanyahu - coincide on Brazilian soil. Assad goes to Brazil this year, and this week Netanyahu also accepted an invitation. A tropical, informal Syrian-Israeli summit might be ideal to break the ice. Lula and Netanyahu have adopted a bilateral system of meetings between heads of state and top ministers every two years.

By what about the US in all this? An official US-Brazil strategic agreement is also now in place, implying two foreign minister-level meetings a year, one in the US, one in Brazil. Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim has a very close relationship with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. On her recent visit to Brazil, Clinton pressed both Lula and Amorim to support tougher sanctions on Iran. The refusal was polite but firm.

"UC Berkeley Student Senate Passes Divestment Bill in Response to Israeli Occupation"
World, March 18, 2010 (Pal Telegraph)

For the first time in the University of California history, the UC Berkeley Student Senate has approved a bill to divest from two US companies in response to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and to Israel's siege and bombardment of the Gaza Strip. The Senate bill directs both the UC Regents and the Student Government to divest from General Electric and United Technologies. General Electric manufactures Apache helicopter engines; United Technologies manufactures Sikorsky helicopters and F-16 aircraft engines. In addition, the bill creates a task force to look into furthering a socially responsible investment policy for the UC system.

Student Senator Rahul Patel supported the bill, declaring that "in the 1980s the Student Government was a central actor in demanding that the university divest from South African apartheid. 25 years later, it is a key figure in shaping a nationwide movement against occupation and war crimes around the world. Student Government can be a space to mobilize and make decisions that have a significant impact on the international community. We must utilize these spaces to engage each other about issues of justice worldwide."

The Senate deliberation, which started Wednesday night, concluded at 3 am Thursday morning, March 18. The meeting was flooded with students, educators, and community members, which prompted the relocation of the Senate session from the Senate Chambers to a larger room. The attendees took turns making impassioned arguments for and against the bill. The diverse list of guest speakers included 76 names, ranging in age from college freshmen to Vietnam veterans.

After amendments, the final bill passed on a 16-4 vote.

In addition to Israeli military action, the student initiative was motivated by an 2005 call on behalf of 171 Palestinian civil society organizations calling on "people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel ... until it fully complies with the precepts of international law."

According to Emiliano Huet-Vaughn, co-author of the bill, "this vote is an historic step in holding all state and corporate actors accountable for their violations of basic human rights. The broad cross section of the community that came out to demand our university invest ethically belies the notion that the American people will tolerate the profiting from occupation or other human rights abuses." Student Senator Emily Carlton, co-sponsor of the bill, agreed, adding "this action will only be historic if it is repeated throughout the country and the world; I hope that student governments all over America will see in this a sign that the time to divest from war is now."

In 2009, Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, became the first US educational institution to divest from companies directly involved in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Hampshire College action was advocated by the group Students for Justice in Palestine, and ultimately adopted by the Board of Trustees. Today, through its Student Senate bill, UC Berkeley becomes the first large, public US institution to endorse a similar measure.

UC Berkeley Students for Justice in Palestine has been working on a divestment campaign from entities that profit from the occupation of Palestine since 2000. UC Berkeley Law Students for Justice in Palestine, founded in 2007, played a central role in researching the legal issues and the international laws pertaining to Israeli human rights violations.

Monday, March 15, 2010

"Israel Bans International Activists from West Bank Village of Bil'in, Cracks Down on Non-Violent Protests"

Press Release: Israel Bans International Activists from West Bank Village of Bil'in, Cracks Down on Non-Violent Protests

Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign - 15th March 2010

: Bil'in village, the internationally renowned centre of Palestinian non-violent resistance to Israel's Apartheid Wall, was this morning - 15th March 2010 - declared a 'Closed Military Zone' by Israeli Authorities, meaning that access for International and Israeli anti-Wall activists is outlawed for six months. Furthermore, the head of the Popular Committee in Bil'in, Iyad Burnat, received a phone call from the Shin Bet - Israel's 'internal security service' - ordering him to report to Ofer Military Prison for questioning.

Following a 2am invasion of the village by the Israeli military, an order was posted around the village declaring Bil'in to be a 'Closed Military Zone' until August 17th. It goes on to state that Israeli and international peace activists are strictly prohibited from entering Bil'in between the hours of 8am and 8pm every Friday, the day on which the weekly non-violent demonstration against the Wall takes place. Any activists breaching this order will face arrest and/or deportation by the Israeli military.

Speaking from Bil'in, the head of the Popular Committee Iyad Burnat, who has been a regular visitor to Ireland as a guest of a wide range of human rights NGOs, today said: "This is a crude attempt to stop Israeli and International activists from supporting the popular struggle in Bil'in, and is therefore just another action to repress and destroy the village's resistance to the occupation and also against the annexation of it's land. We are aware that even before this order was posted, over the last two weeks a number of international activists have been refused entry to the village by Isra eli forces".

Mr. Burnat continued: "I myself have been asked to report to the Shin Bet office in Ofer Military Prison for questioning tomorrow, and this is an order I refuse to comply with. I have done nothing illegal. In Bil'in we are determined to continue our weekly non-violent protests and will not bow to this, the latest, in a long line of intimidation tactics carried out by the IDF. We plan to hold a mass demonstration here this coming Friday 19th March".

IPSC spokesperson Freda Hughes, who has visited Bil'in and taken part in the protests, said: "The non-violent struggle in Bil'in has been going on for over five years. In that time over 200 Irish people have attended the demonstrations and stood side by side with Palestinians, Israelis and other internationals seeking justice for Bil'in. It has been my experience that every Friday the Israeli army responds with violence, bot h physical and psychological. Protesters are regularly tear-gassed, sprayed with foul water, subject to the firing of concussion grenades, and shot at by the Israeli military. Many protesters, both Palestinian and international, have been severely wounded and one resident Bassem Abu Rahmah was killed after being hit full force in the chest with a tear gas canister in April 2009."

Ms. Hughes continued: "While this news is deeply shocking, people should recognise this order for what it is, merely the latest attempt by the Israeli state to crack down on internationals entering the West Bank. Over the past number of months there has been a spate of denials of entry and deportations of international activists and NGO workers, including several Irish pe ople. This, coupled with the withholding of NGO employees' and visiting lecturers' work permits and a surge in arrests of non-violent activists, is extremely worrying and is leading many to fear that Israel may be preparing the ground to impose much harsher military measures on Palestinians in the West Bank."

Notes For Editors
Bil’in, a small village situated west of Ramallah in the Occupied West Bank, has become an international symbol of the Palestinian non-violent popular struggle. For almost five years, its residents have been continuously struggling against the de facto annexation of close to 60% of their farmlands. Their land is being confiscated for the construction of the Apartheid Wall and for the construction of illegal Israeli settlement-colonies. The people of Bil’in live in what amounts to an open air prison. Bil’in has been the scene of gross human rights violations on behalf of the Israeli state – not just against Palestinians, but also Israeli and international activists, journalists and even politicians.

This heroic struggle has been internationally recognised and in 2008 earned the Popular Committee (along with the Israeli group Anarchists Against the Wall) the Carl von Ossietzky Medal for their work in trying to bring about a “realization of the ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. Bil'in has also been visited, and its struggle endorsed, by many high profile international figures such as former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, Irish Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Former US President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and hip hop superstar Saul Williams.

More info: and


For more information contact:

Freda Hughes, IPSC Spokesperson: 086 126 0359

Fintan Lane, IPSC PRO: 087 125 8325

Iyad Burnat, head of the Bil'in Popular Committee: (00972) (0) 547847942 (mob) / (00972) (2) 2489129 (off) / (00972) (0) 598403676 (alt mob)

Gaza's Guernica: "Approximately 1500...."

"Approximately 1500..." is a 30 meter long anti-war mural painted by 25 young artists in Gaza. The war against Gaza killed ca 1400 people, 431 children were among the victims. 5038 people were injured, 411 of them badly. The artists painted their own experiences from the war: "We hope the mural will encourage people to say "It's enough!"

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Seattle Times Asks: Should Military Aid Check to Israel "Get Lost in Mail"?

RIGHT-WING Israeli obstruction of the pursuit of Middle East peace suggests political conservatives are convinced everything works pretty well as it is.

How else to explain the facile ease with which the Likud Party and others insulted U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden during his visit last week. Biden was in the region to revive talks — even indirect talks — between Israelis and Palestinians.

Biden and, apparently, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu were stunned by an announcement from the coalition government's interior minister that 1,600 new settlement houses would be built in east Jerusalem.

Netanyahu was embarrassed and apologized, but did not disavow a declaration calculated to drive the Palestinians away and offend and enrage Israel's opposition parties, who acknowledge a shared presence in Jerusalem is part of a future peace agreement.

Israel continues to settle occupied territory in violation of international law, and it keeps cashing those U.S. checks for billions of dollars in military aid. What would happen if a payment, oh, got lost in the mail?

Biden said the U.S. would not tolerate aggressive actions by either side to disrupt peace talks.

"As we move forward, the United States will hold both sides accountable for any statements or actions that inflame tensions or prejudice the outcome of talks, as this decision did," Biden said when he met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The U.S. commits billions of dollars to the reinforcement of a regional stalemate best summed up by the universal observation of former House Speaker Tip O'Neill: "All politics is local."

In the absence of local interest or progress, or outside leverage, does the U.S. spigot ever get turned off?

Horrifying Report: "AFRICOM’s First War: U.S. Directs Large-Scale Offensive In Somalia"--Rick Rozoff

Excerpt of article below; whole article (via Uruknet) here:
In addition to using such a multinational regional force in Somalia, the U.S. can also deploy it against Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in Uganda, Congo and Sudan, and could even employ it against Eritrea, Zimbabwe and Sudan, the only nations on the African continent not to some degree enmeshed in military partnerships with Washington and NATO. (Libya has participated in NATO naval exercises and South Africa has hosted the bloc’s warships.) [11]

Earlier this month the Kenyan newspaper The East African divulged that "American legislators are pushing for a law that will see another phase of military action to apprehend Lord’s Resistance Army rebels."

On March 10 NATO extended its naval operation in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia, Ocean Shield, to the end of 2012, an unprecedentedly long 33-month extension. On March 12 "Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 will take over missions from Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 for the four-month assignment. The change will increase NATO’s contribution from four ships to five ships…." [15]

At the same hearings of the Senate Armed Services Committee that AFRICOM commander William Ward addressed, NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, America’s Admiral James Stavridis, "noted that 100,000 NATO troops are involved in expeditionary operations on three continents, including operations in Afghanistan, off the coast of Africa, and in Bosnia." (Evidently Kosovo was meant for Bosnia.

The news source added that the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Bill adopted by the U.S. Congress last year "requires the US government to develop a new multifaceted strategy" and as such the new bill under consideration "will not be the first time the US government is providing support to the Uganda army in fighting the LRA.

"The US has been backing the UPDF [Uganda People's Defence Force] with logistics and training to fight the rebel group." [12]

Last month it was announced that the U.S. Africa Command has dispatched special forces to train 1,000 Congolese troops in the north and east of their nation, where Congo borders Uganda.

Former U.S. diplomat Daniel Simpson was quoted above as to what in part is Washington’s motive in pursuing a new war in and around Somalia: To test out AFRICOM ground and air forces in Djibouti for direct military action on the continent.

A United Press International report of March 10, placed under energy news, offered another explanation. In a feature titled "East Africa is next hot oil zone," the news agency disclosed that "East Africa is emerging as the next oil boom following a big strike in Uganda’s Lake Albert Basin. Other oil and natural gas reserves have been found in Tanzania and Mozambique and exploration is under way in Ethiopia and even war-torn Somalia."

The region is, in the words of the Western chief executive officer of an oil prospecting firm, "the last real high-potential area in the world that hasn’t been fully explored." [13]

The article added: "The discovery at Lake Albert, in the center of Africa between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is estimated to contain the equivalent of several billion barrels of oil. It is likely to be the biggest onshore field found south of the Sahara Desert in two decades."

It also spoke of "a vast 135,000-square-mile territory in landlocked Ethiopia that is believed to contain sizable reserves of oil. It is estimated to hold 4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas as well."

And, more pertinent to the Horn of Africa:

"A 1993 study by Petroconsultants of Geneva concluded that Somalia has two of the most potentially interesting hydrocarbon-yielding basins in the entire region – one in the central Mudugh region, the other in the Gulf of Aden. More recent analyses indicate that Somalia could have reserves of up to 10 billion barrels." [14]

Washington’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies are also deeply involved in the militarization of East Africa.

On March 10 NATO extended its naval operation in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia, Ocean Shield, to the end of 2012, an unprecedentedly long 33-month extension. On March 12 "Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 will take over missions from Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 for the four-month assignment. The change will increase NATO’s contribution from four ships to five ships…." [15]

At the same hearings of the Senate Armed Services Committee that AFRICOM commander William Ward addressed, NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, America’s Admiral James Stavridis, "noted that 100,000 NATO troops are involved in expeditionary operations on three continents, including operations in Afghanistan, off the coast of Africa, and in Bosnia." (Evidently Kosovo was meant for Bosnia.

Stavridis, who is concurrently top military chief of U.S. European Command, said "The nature of threats in this 21st century [is] going to demand more than just sitting behind our borders." [16]

He also said he finds "Iran alarming in any number of dimensions," specifically mentioning alleged "state-sponsored terrorism, nuclear proliferation and political outreach into Latin America." [17]

"West Bank Rises Up in a New 'White' Intifada" -- The Independent

Ehab Barghouti would not have been at the demonstration at all if his father Asdal had had his way.

Asdal found his son, 14, on the road from their village of Beit Rima and ordered him into the car. "I told him: 'You shouldn't go, you're too young.' He told me: 'I want to resist.' I said: 'Do you want me to see you on TV?'" But when Asdal stopped at a local garage and went in to talk to the mechanic, Ehab made his escape.

A few hours later he was unconscious in intensive care in Ramallah's main hospital, a rubber-coated steel bullet having penetrated his skull. He had been standing among a crowd of youths, well inside the nearby village of Nabi Saleh, on a hillside carpeted with the first daisies and wild flowers of spring.

Donald McIntyre's story begins above; later in the article he describes changes in Israel's behavior toward the non-violent resistance. Whole article here:

The military says that "rock-throwing is considered a serious offence, placing others at significant risk and endangering both public and regional security." But in Nabi Saleh the protesters were still marching peacefully, well within the village, and certainly not throwing stones when the military started firing tear gas.

At times the Israeli military has been deploying more lethal ammunition. The more famous and longer-running protests against the separation barrier have been at Nilin and Bil'in (where the IDF has finally decided to modify the route of the barrier so it will swallow up less of the villagers' land, two-and-a-half years after a court order to do so). At both it has fired .22 live ammunition and high-velocity tear gas projectiles which are intended by their US manufacturers to be used to penetrate walls rather than against open-air crowds. It was one of these that severely wounded the US activist Tristan Anderson in the forehead in Nilin in March 2009 and has left him, after months in an Israeli hospital, with permanent brain damage. Another killed a prominent Bil'in protester Bassem abu Rahmah a month later.

According to the Popular Struggle Co-ordination committee, a loose body linking the local protest organisers, the .22 live bullets – which were proscribed for crowd-control by the military Advocate General in 2001 but reintroduced Operation Cast Lead in Gaza – have killed one demonstrator and injured 28 in Nilin alone since January last year.

Then there are the scores of arrests, frequently at night, including five in Nabi Saleh two days before last Friday's demo. The arrests – including 112 in Bil'in alone since May 2008 – have worried European diplomats enough for them to form a rota to monitor the military court in Ofer where most of the detainees appear. One day last week – in the additional presence of an official from the US Consulate General – one of the Bil'in protest leaders, Abdullah Abu Rahmah, 39, who has been in military detention since December, was remanded again on a series of charges including a bizarre one of illegal arms possession; the indictment relates to Mr Abu Rahmah's collection of spent tear gas canisters for an exhibition. As his Israeli lawyer Gaby Lasky told the court, her client was in no different a position from the police in the Negev border town of Sderot who have a collection of exploded Qassam rockets fired from Gaza to show visitors. "Because they are spent, they cannot be addressed as illegal arms," she patiently explained to the military judge. The case continues.

The military has also sought to move against another notable aspect of the protests, the supportive presence of the left-wing Israeli activists who now regularly join them. The registration numbers of cars entering the West Bank through various checkpoints are checked against those of known Israeli participants. Among the 15 Israelis taking part in Nabi Saleh last week was Jonathan Pollak, a 28-year-old from Anarchists Against the Wall who is media co-ordinator on the joint committee.

For Ayed Morrar, a true Palestinian veteran of unarmed protest in the West Bank, the presence of Israelis is highly positive. "It's good for our people, and good for them," he says. Mr Morrar (who was injured by rubber bullets when he took part in the first demonstration in Nabi Saleh in January) is a popular leader in Budrus, where the villagers managed to change the route of the barrier at a time when suicide bombing was at its height and popular unarmed protest much criticised by Palestinian militants. Mr Morrar has spent six years in an Israeli prison as a Fatah activist (even though he never participated in armed violence) but now charges both Fatah and Hamas with being more interested in the sometimes bloody rivalry with each other than the national cause. His credo is to "apply all the sources of pressure on the occupation except killing. It is forbidden to decide to kill, to try to kill or to kill." Arguing the Palestinians needs the international community on its side, he adds: "We want to show we are not against Jews, not against Israelis. We are against the occupation."