Friday, April 30, 2010

Reminder: Vigil for Palestine- End the Israeli Occupation. Saturday, May 1

Saturday, May 1

Noon-2:00 pm

Westlake Plaza, 4th & Pine


Amin Odeh

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

Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Radical Muslim group run by Israeli Jews!" -- American Everyman via Aletho News

Jon Stewart, shame on you. You’re a propaganda spewing puppet and you’re no better than Glenn Beck.

South Park ran an unedited image of Muhammad in 2001 in an episode called “Super Best Friends“… and nothing happened.

In fact, the episode had been on the South Park website for viewing at any time for the past few years (they just removed it)… and nothing happened.

For 4 seasons they had that image in their opening segment for every single show… and nothing happened.

So for years on end no Muslim group, “radical” or otherwise, has threatened Matt and Trey or Comedy Central about the image of Muhammad that has been available for all to see every single day.

All of a sudden last week a group called “Revolution Muslim” threatened violence against Comedy Central if they aired an image of Muhammad which forced Comedy Central to censor the show and now you have even liberals talking about those “radical Muslims” and their threats of violence. Karl Rove couldn’t have done it any better.

Problem is, Revolution Muslim was started and run by a “converted” Israeli settler who studied at an orthodox rabbinical school in Israel before becoming a settler in the occupied territories.

You don’t think a orthadox Israeli settler would have any desire to see progressive Americans start to hate “radical Muslims” do you? You think “Revolution Muslim” helps or hurts the Israeli PR campaign after Operation Cast Lead and the Goldstone Report?

Here’s the research your team should have done before you went out and spun-up the neoconish ”radicalized Muslim” hype for your progressive audience…

“Revolution Muslim” is always there to say just the wrong thing to make Americans hate “Radical Muslims”. They praised the killing of Daniel Pearl with a childish puppet show. They sent “Get Well” wishes to the guy who shot those 13 people at Fort Hood.

Yousef al-Khattab, 41, a radical Muslim in the borough of Queens who runs, claims on the site that the soldiers massacred at the Texas base deserved to be massacred, and he insists the victims are in “eternal hellfire.” As for the suspected gunman — Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan — Al-Khattab hails him as a hero. Fox News

You can count on “Revolution Muslim” to say the wrong thing at the right moment to get Americans to hate all those “radical” Muslims.

But the only thing is… “Revolution Muslim” (his creative fake “Scary American Terrorist” website) was started and run by a man named Yousef al-Khattab. Yousef al-Khattab was born Joseph Cohen, in Brooklyn, New York. He was jewish. But not just jewish, he was a settler who went to Palestine to live on the illegal Israeli settlements.

Joseph Cohen isn’t alone though. There is another “radical Muslim” convert from Judaism (the original fake “scary American Terrorist“) who makes sure that “radical” Muslims are hated in America, his name is Adam Pearlman and he went by the “radicalized” Muslim name “Adam Gadahn“. Adam Pearlman is actually the grandson of a (deceased) member of the board of directors of the Anti-Defamation League.

Gadahn grew up on a goat farm in rural Riverside County and moved to Santa Ana to live with his grandparents, the late Dr. Carl Pearlman and his wife, Agnes, in the mid-1990s. It was here that he learned of Islam via the Internet and later fell in with a radical sect at the Islamic Society of Orange County OC Register

And the funny thing is, after all that hate speech and those calls to violence, Cohen never got arrested. Hell, even Fox News knew exactly where he was. Guns, death threats, and all the rest and amazingly Yousef al-Khattab (Joseph Cohen) was never arrested.

A New York City bicycle cabbie who mocked the murder of journalist Daniel Pearl and posted a prayer on the Web calling for the murder of Jews is now sending a ‘Get Well Soon’ message to the suspected Fort Hood gunman, the New York Post reported.

After growing up in a jewish neighborhood in New York and attending a orthodox rabbinical school in Israel, Joseph Cohen went to live in a settlement in the West Bank to help steal Palestinian land from Palestinians.

His story is that he “converted” to Islam after meeting someone in a chat room. You know what “settlers” are like in the occupied territories don’t you Mr. Stewart? Ever see that video of them beating the old Palestinian woman with a baseball bat?

Ever see that video Mr. Stewart? If not, take a look here. This video was released by B’Tselem (an Israeli peace organization).

Al-Khattab has claimed that he has nothing to do with the site anymore but the person he founded it with left prior to all of this earlier this month. al-Khattab claims to have quit the site in late Dec. last year. His partner who started it with him also claims to have quit the site earlier this month. I guess no one wanted to go to jail for issuing death-threats over the internet. But someone did it.

I find it funny that after being born and raised as a jewish person, after attending orthodox rabbinical school in Israel, and after being radical enough to move to occupied territories in Palestine to live as a settler (the most hard-core of Israeli Zionists), ALL OF A SUDDEN Joseph Cohen dropped all of that teaching and suddenly became a “radical Muslim’ after a chat in a chat room. He became a “radical Muslim” then just HAPPENED to move back to the city he lived in before… Brooklyn, N.Y.

Anybody believe that crap? Jon Stewart does. So much so he mocks “radical Muslims” for threatening South Park.

Now, go here and watch Jon Stewart joke and make derogatory comments about the group that threatened the creators of South Park for showing the image of Muhammad on their recent show. Then he thanks all the “other” religions for not behaving like the “Radical Muslims” did when Stewart makes fun of their religion. He then shows clip after clip showing how they have made fun of Jewish people without anyone threatening violence.

Radical Muslim is a COINTELPRO site, run by a “converted” jewish settler pretending to be a “radical Muslim”. He is the ONE Muslim that complained about the South Park episode… an ex-radical Israeli settler, Mr. Stewart… real Muslims haven’t threatened South Park once since 2001 when they FIRST ran an image of the prophet on their show.

Marauding IDF Jeep Kills 2 Palestinian Girls, 5 and 7 years Old

Deaths and injuries: Tubas – 19:00, in the Northern Jordan Valley two girls, five-year-old Jana Imad Ali Hussein Fuqaha and seven-year-old Masah Imad Ali Hussein Fuqaha, were killed by an Israeli Army jeep, travelling at great speed, that ran into a tractor transporting the family near the village of Ein al Beida. The collision also resulted in injuring the girls’ 12-year-old brother and their father.

Information from the Lorca list:

While Occupation and blockade are business as usual for Israel, there should be no business with Israel

In Occupied Palestine

Zionism in practice

Israel’s Daily Toll on Palestinian Life, Limb, Liberty and Property

- and if you have friends who would also like to receive these newsletters, please ask them to contact us at

Issue of U.S. Political Prisoners Raised in UN Report by Black Attorney Group

(via Leonard Peltier's Newsletter)


The United Nations' Universal Period Review process was introduced in 2006 and community-based, non-governmental and other organizations are allowed to point out human rights issues within their countries and where they feel violations of international law or UN treaties have been committed. via Leonard Peltier's newsletter

For Black America, the process is another way to hold the U.S. government accountable and to demand the release of Black Power era leaders and members of organizations whose political views are objectionable, said Mr. Willis, in an interview.

Beyond freeing an aging population of some 100 former Black Panthers, members of the MOVE organization and other revolutionary-oriented groups, taking the issue to the United Nations puts America and her dirty laundry on front street, said the longtime activist and lawyer.

“They (American officials) do not want to have these issues reach the world's people. How do you go into Iraq or Afghanistan telling people about their democracy when you got Black people that are locked down in prison for 30-40 years as political prisoners?”

Whether the problem was leftist ideology, nationalists and those calling for a Black homeland, demands for a new economic order or Native American rights and anti-Vietnam War efforts, government security agencies infiltrated dissident groups.

The security activity went hand-in-hand with crackdowns on Black, Latino, Native American and even some White groups demanding a more just and peaceful society—and greater demands for respect for rights and opposition to police violence.

“Such repression resulted in murders, injuries, false arrests, malicious prosecutions and lengthy imprisonments of scores of political activists,” the report said.

The continued incarceration and mistreatment of these prisoners violates UN treaties and conventions that guarantee human rights, forbid torture and outlaw racial and political targeting by government, the report charges.

Surveillance and destroying organizations

The plight of political prisoners is largely rooted in the 1960s-1970s era surveillance against Black groups, which included respected civil rights organizations as well as so-called Black radicals, according to Mr. Willis. About two-thirds of the jailed dissidents are Black, he said.

The FBI teamed with local law enforcement to attack, disrupt and destroy groups like the Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which was admitted during congressional hearings in 1976 empanelled to probe these secret domestic wars.

The covert Counterintelligence Program run by then-FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, and approved by the White House, focused in specially on the Black Panther Party, and most political prisoners are either former Panthers or from MOVE, a radical “back-to-nature” group whose homes were bombed by the Philadelphia Police Department in 1985.

“U.S. political prisoners have languished in U.S. prisons for decades under cruel and inhumane conditions. Several have died in prison; others have endured years of solitary confinement, poor medical health care, various other forms of abuse, and perfunctory parole hearings resulting in routine denial of human rights,” the report noted.

The report calls for the unconditional release of political prisoners jailed as a result of the government's Counterintelligence Program, an executive review of all cases related to the covert operation, a murder probe into the deaths of Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark and actions to repair and redress harm done and to prevent similar acts in the future.

While Atty. Willis is pushing the plight of political prisoners, he said the impact of the government wrongdoing went beyond the heavy price young activists paid at the time.

“Movements move forward with masses of people but they move forward with a certain kind of leadership,” said Mr. Willis.

During the revolutionary times of the 1960s and 1970s, youth and students were influenced by the efforts of the Nation of Islam, Congress of Racial Equality, and NAACP as well as the African liberation movement on the continent and Cuba's revolution, he continued.

A type of leadership was developing that America had never seen before and the government moved to crush that leadership, Mr. Willis said.

The Panthers and SNCC were wiped out and law enforcement and government sent clear signals that if others persisted in demanding progressive action they would also be destroyed, he said.

“Our community suffered. Our community deserves reparations just on that issue because it set us back in the 1960s and we see where we are now, we haven't recovered from that,” he said. “It's not just those in prison that suffered, and they certainly suffered mightily because they have been locked down and some of them are dying in prison. Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were murdered. But the community suffered,” he said. Young leaders Hampton and Clark headed the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. They were shot and killed in a police raid on a west side home in 1969.

U.S. power vs. the power of the people

While the U.S. wields considerable power at the United Nations, in particular with its veto power on the Security Council, Atty. Willis rejects the notion that holding the superpower to international standards is a futile effort.

The General Assembly is largely made up of delegates from around the world, and public opinion and moral authority is bigger than U.S. power, he said.

The lawyer pointed to fighting in Chicago for two decades for Blacks tortured in a police precinct and officers under former police commander John Burge. It was only after the case, which involved hundreds of suspects coerced into making confessions because of torture, was put before international bodies that U.S. law enforcement officials moved against Mr. Burge. He will go on trial May 10 in federal court and is accused of obstruction of justice and perjury.

“It was only after the United Nations mentioned torture in the context of Abu Grahaib, Guantanamo Bay and Chicago, in the same paragraph, that John Burge was indicted within months of that,” Mr. Willis said. The Justice Dept. reached out about the case after the world body noted the violations, he said.

This is What I Call Throwing Your Body Against the Gears of the Machine!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Humanity: Ahmed Deeb is Killed -- Eva Bartlett in Gaza

*[photo: Max Ajl] Ahmed Deeb before he bled to death from the Israeli-fired explosive bullet which severed his femoral artery.

In Gaza, April 28, 2010

4:57 pm April 28

An SMS informs me that the young man from Sheik Radwan who was shot by an Israeli soldier today is dead. A visit to Shifa hospital confirms it. Ahmed Deeb, 21, was among protesters closest to the border fence at the former Nahal Oz crossing, east of Gaza City, when he was targeted in the leg. The 'dum dum’ bullet hit his femural artery, exploding inside and severing it, causing massive bleeding, said Dr. Abdullah el Attar at Shifa hospital.

Life is short, the saying goes. But in Palestine that expression is literal, and everyone knows it. The demonstraters, proud and fearless, delight in being on Palestinian land rendered off-limits by Israeli authorities, going as close as possible to the fence, dressing the fence with the Palestinan flag, and dancing in the face of armed Israeli soldiers.

But does this warrant being killed, or even just maimed?

If Ahmed Deeb was like any of the Palestinian youths I’ve met in Gaza, he dreamed of freedom –the freedom of movement and of seeing places outside of Gaza –and of work –the work denied the majority in Gaza under siege.

If Deeb was like many of the Palestinian youths I’ve met in Gaza, he was not afraid to die, constantly facing death in Gaza where at any moment Israeli warplanes, tanks or gunboats can fire first and justify later. If he was like any person in Gaza, he likely felt he was already dead, living a life where it’s hand-to-mouth and not believing tomorrow will be different or dreams will be fulfilled.

But he was certainly like most Palestinians I’ve met, in all of occupied Palestine, in his samoud, his refusal to back down or shut up. No matter how many massacres, invasions, nor how long the siege.

Oh brutality, you hateful regime.

Oh humanity, you are lacking for this country.

People of Al Walaja vs. Israeli Bulldozers! Give Up Bulldozers!

ActiveStills April 26, 2010Around 50 Palestinians and internationals had managed to stop the work of the bulldozers for several hours in the village of Al Walaja, on 25.04.2010. The Israeli soldiers tried to remove people from the area, but demonstrators managed to stay until they were violently dragged one by one. The Israeli soldiers also used stun grenades and tear gas canisters directly at people, as well as pepper spray. One Palestinian got arrested and several were injured. Once completed the Wall will totally surround the village.

Even Wikipedia knows about Al Walaja:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Bendib Cartoon! Congress & Wall Street

If the cartoons doesn't load automatically, please visit the following URL to manually load the cartoon:'s-Backpockets.jpg

Monday, April 26, 2010

"Terrorizing Immigrants" -- Stephen Lendman

Everyone knows about the Immigrant Rights March on Saturday, I hope. Here is the info on it:

Here is part of Lendman's article:

In September 2009, NNIRR [Nat'l Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights] published a report titled, "Guilty by Immigration Status" on violations of immigrant family, worker, and community rights in 2008. Worrisome is that anti-immigrant police state measures may be used against anyone authorities target. As a result, no one is safe or legally protected, even law abiding residents and citizens.

Today, the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division violates the constitutional rights of targeted persons questioned, detained, jailed, and/or deported, solely for their suspected immigration status.

According to an Amnesty International report titled, "Jailed Without Justice," immigration detentions in the last decade tripled - from 10,000 to 30,000 daily through 2008. Over 300,000 men, women and children are detained annually, and the numbers are rising. They include asylum seekers, torture survivors, victims of human trafficking, lawful residents, parents of lawful children, and suspected undocumented immigrants.

Hundreds of facilities around the country detain them, pending criminal and/or deportation proceedings. According to James Pendergraph, former ICE executive director of State and Local Coordination (on August 21, 2008):

"If you don't have enough evidence to charge someone criminally but you think he's illegal, we (ICE) can make him disappear."

In her December 16, 2009 Nation magazine article titled, "America's Secret ICE Castles," Jacqueline Stevens explained that besides publicly known detention sites:

"ICE is also confining people in 186 unlisted and unmarked subfield offices, many in suburban office parks or commercial spaces revealing no information about their ICE tenants - nary a sign, a marked car or even a US flag" - a blatantly illegal act, given that persons in them have "disappeared," their constitutional rights with them.

Facilities have no beds, mattresses, showers, drinking water, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, sanitary napkins, mail, legal information, or the ability to contact an attorney. The Obama administration stonewalls attempts for information and won't address complaints - policies common in police states; Obama more ruthless as Bush.

"AIPAC: The Voice of America — Part 1: The Orange and the Pea"

"In Israel, It Has Been 'Arizona' All Along" -- Assaf Oron


I am encouraged by the wave of justified indignation, and spontaneous boycott movement, against the new Arizona law. Indeed, requiring citizens and legal resident to carry proof of their status at all times, and encouraging police to profile passersby who “look suspicious”, runs counter to the soul of democracy. The bigots who put together the Arizona law should be made to pay. And hopefully it will be declared unconstitutional.

This is also a teaching opportunity, to explain why the country I come from, Israel, has never really lived up to its “Middle East’s Only Democracy” (TM) branding.

See? In Israel, laws like the Arizona one – and worse – have been in effect ever since independence. No, I’m not talking about the Occupation, but inside Israel proper.

Any resident sixteen years of age or older must at all times carry an Identity card, and present it upon demand to a senior police officer, head of Municipal or Regional Authority, or a policeman or member of the Armed forces on duty.

And guess against which ethnic/national group this requirement is enforced most often….

In Israel, one of the rites of passage is going (sometime after your 16th birthday) to the Interior Ministry and getting your first ID card. And yes, you do tend to carry it with you at all times when leaving the home.

What happens it a police officer asks you for it and you don’t have it? Well, in principle they could arrest you and you might spend a night (used to be a couple of nights) in jail. In practice, to Jewish-Israeli citizens who look and sound Jewish-Israeli, this rarely happens. Very rarely. I mean, they might get in trouble with the police if they engage in wrongdoing, but almost never they would be booked just for not carrying an ID.

Things slightly change if you are a non-Jewish Israeli. In 1988 I boarded the night bus from Tel Aviv to Eilat (extreme south of the country). Two Bedouin-Israeli youth were about to board, when a policeman came and started questioning them. They got smart and talked back. I know that in America you never talk back to police, but in Israel it is more common and socially acceptable, and Jews would usually get away with it. But being Bedouin, the policeman got mad and asked them for their ID’s. They didn’t have ID’s on them. They didn’t get to board the bus, instead they seemed to have gone on a field trip with the policeman.

Now, this goes on all the time. If you walk a typical Israeli downtown, especially in Jerusalem, you will always see police officers or soldiers “chatting” with some Arab-looking men and checking their ID’s. The police are acting completely within their rights. See, that’s the beauty: in Israel citizens don’t really have inherent rights because there is no Constitution. There have been some “Basic Laws”, including a “Human Rights and Dignity Law”, representing an attempt to cobble together a quasi-Constitution. Former Chief Justice Aharon Barak has invented for them the self-serving, completely blown-out-of-proportion brand-name “the Constitutional Revolution”. Truth be told, these laws are subject to change or cancellation by a 61-member majority of the 120-member Knesset – and they have been changed countless of times. Much worse: all these laws have gaping loopholes left in them for “security considerations” and “security measures”, which allow all security forces to continue business as usual, including routine profiling and ID checking (see below for a partial list of these “security measures”).

Sunday, April 25, 2010

"It Won't Stop in Arizona" -- The Unapologetic Mexican

Malicious Charges on the Innocent in Iraq -- Trudy Rubin
BAGHDAD — I came to Iraq to find my driver Salam, who has been unjustly imprisoned for the last 16 months.

I found him in a grimy police station jail, a shadow of the ebullient man I knew, with marks of torture on his legs. His suffering reflects the trauma so many Iraqis still endure in a country trying to recover from decades of dictatorship and botched U.S. occupation.

But what makes Salam's case so scary is that he's being punished for opposing the sectarian slaughter that nearly drove Iraq over the edge.

Salam is a Shiite whose uncle was hung by Saddam Hussein, but he couldn't stand watching innocent Sunnis slaughtered. He tipped U.S. and Iraqi forces about a family of Shiite Mahdi Army militia who were killing his Sunni neighbors in 2007. Two members of the militia family were jailed and one went into hiding.

Once U.S. troops left Salam's neighborhood, the Mahdi Army family took its revenge.

Members of this family used personal connections with senior army and intelligence officers to get Salam arrested. How can it be that relatives of militia killers are free to bring bogus charges and get the innocent jailed? In fact, the practice of bringing malicious charges — known in Arabic as kaydia — has become so widespread here that Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council has urged judges and prosecutors not to issue warrants unless there is sufficient evidence. The judges aren't listening.

Every Iraqi to whom I've told Salam's story knew of similar cases of arrests on bogus charges for reasons of revenge or personal vendettas. I'm told it's possible to rent fake witnesses who wait outside the courthouse.

In Salam's case, the miscarriage of justice reveals a rot that threatens every tenuous advance this country has made in the last couple of years.

I could feel a chill as I approached the Baghdad police station where Salam is being held. It is a gray two-story concrete structure, with balconies painted an incongruous blue, and an entry room crammed with desperate people trying to find out about relatives inside.

Officials were extremely nervous about Salam's case, and didn't want to let a journalist near him. I waited for 90 minutes in a dark room with a mustachioed intelligence colonel chain-smoking behind a desk. Only calls to Iraqi officials I knew well finally got me permission to meet Salam.

I was brought to the police chief's office, where I sat in a line of chairs along one wall, and watched as Salam was led toward me.

"You cannot write anything," the police chief told me. Wearing blue sweatpants and a white T-shirt, Salam looked 50 pounds thinner than when I last saw him. Here is the story he told: The initial charges against him, of murder, were brought by a member of the Jaish Mahdi family named Leila Tha'ad, the mother and aunt of the men who were arrested in the U.S. bust. Judge Abdullah al-Alousi acquitted Salam of these charges on Jan. 14, 2010, after he had already spent one year in jail.

As he walked out of the prison, two Iraqi army Humvees pulled up; men jumped out and seized him. He was taken first to a notorious prison, and then to an army base at Muthanna airport, where, he says, Leila Tha'ad has close contacts with senior military and intelligence officials. "They tortured me, they used electric," he said, showing the burn marks and scabs on his legs. "They did it in other places, too. They accused me of being an American spy."

So here we have it. An Iraqi who helped U.S. troops catch militia killers — and I spoke at the time to U.S. officers who verified this — is tortured by Iraqis for his efforts. An Iraqi who helped his own military catch sectarian killers — and Salam gave me a list of Iraqi officers who can verify this — is jailed on the word of a Mahdi Army woman.

I asked knowledgeable Iraqi security sources — whom I can't identify because they fear retribution — whether they thought Salam was innocent and being treated wrongly, and they answered yes.

The story gets worse. Salam was thrown back in jail, and now faces a host of new charges — brought by friends of Tha'ad's family — including a charge of terrorism.

Salam's two sons were also arrested and remain imprisoned; one was badly tortured. In January, Salam's brother was shot dead, by Mahdi Army friends of Tha'ad, he believes.

Salam was stoic as he talked, but at one moment his shoulders started shaking. He handed me a letter he had written in Arabic to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in which he recalled that Maliki asked Iraqis to help in the fight against terrorism. "Instead of being rewarded by respect and pride," he wrote, "some of those who have weak souls and are working in government have thrown me in jail along with my sons. ..."

Indeed, Maliki built his reputation with his crackdown on radical Shiite militias in Basra. As Iraqi politicians struggle to form a new government six weeks after elections, Maliki, who's seeking a second term, talks constantly of moving beyond the sectarianism that nearly tore Iraq apart.

Yet so long as Salam and others like him remain imprisoned, such pledges ring hollow.

Until he is freed, I intend to keep writing about his case, not only because it's a travesty of justice, but because it symbolizes everything that needs changing inside Iraq.

"Right of Return Not Negotiable" -- Ahmed Moor

"To the extent that Israel must exist exclusively for the Jewish people, the enfranchising of the roughly four million Palestinians living under Israeli occupation today does pose a threat to its existence." (Yotam Ronen/ActiveStills)

Washington insiders are now touting a misguided Obama-dictated plan to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Most recently, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Stephen Solarz took to the pages of The Washington Post to float the idea of an imposed peace, which largely undermines non-negotiable historic Palestinian rights. The authors call for the annulment of the Palestinian right of return, and the creation of a "demilitarized Palestinian state."

The trial balloon avoids any talk of Israeli parliamentary dynamics and the incapacity of the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cede anything without sowing the seeds of its own dissolution, something Netanyahu probably realized while negotiating the composition of his coalition government. But its most glaring failure is the presumption that Palestinians will meekly accept American dictates regarding the right of return. As a Palestinian, I believe that any plan that seeks to sacrifice our inalienable human rights to ensure race-based majorities in Israel will fail.

Brzezinski and Solarz begin their piece by paraphrasing a statement made by Israel's current defense minister, Ehud Barak. They write that the "absence of the two-state solution is the greatest threat to Israel's future." Presumably, Barak is indirectly referring to the one-state solution, or the growing call by Palestinians and anti-Zionist Jews to create a democratic state in all of historic Palestine. It is telling that the Israeli defense minister -- and Brzezinski and Solarz -- appears to view a growing movement in the Holy Land for equal rights and enfranchisement as "the greatest threat to Israel's future."

In a sense they're right. To the extent that Israel must exist exclusively for the Jewish people, the enfranchising of the roughly four million Palestinians living under Israeli occupation today does pose a threat to its existence. But so do the approximately 20 percent of Israelis who are non-Jews (mostly Palestinian citizens of Israel) who are growing more rapidly as a population than Jewish Israelis. It is this anachronistic obsession with the racial makeup of the state that created the Palestinian refugee problem in the first place. Mandate Palestine was ethnically cleansed by Zionist armed forces in 1948 to create room for a Jewish majority state, as documented by the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe in his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Incidentally, it is this original sin that Brzezinski and Solarz seek to reward by obliterating the Palestinian right of return which is enshrined in international law. One wonders what prescriptions Barak, Brzezinski and Solarz will offer in the event of a Palestinian baby boom within Israel in the coming decades.

Putting aside the racial justification that underpins the existence of the Jewish state for a moment, it's worth examining the reasons any two-state solution cannot work today. First, as previously noted, Palestinians will not relinquish the right of return. Mahmoud Abbas, who cannot claim any electoral or moral legitimacy, is hardly in a position to negotiate the right away. Second, there are approximately 500,000 Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and no one is capable of removing them from their homes. One can talk about land swaps, but the reality is that the Israeli state has done a thorough job of colonizing large swaths of land around Jerusalem and deep into the West Bank, effectively cutting it in two. Territorial contiguity is enormously important when engineering a state and it doesn't appear likely here. Third, the Holy Land is relatively arid. Much of the water Israelis consume comes from the coastal and mountain aquifers, both of which lie under Palestinian land. Notwithstanding international law and the prevailing sentiment of much of the world, Israel simply will not relinquish control of such strategic freshwater reserves.

Finally, there are Israeli security considerations. As Brzezinski and Solarz generously admit, Israel will never agree to a Palestinian state with a conventional military. A state without a military option isn't really a state at all, especially since Israel will likely continue to conduct raids into Palestinian territory.

Because the two-state solution is unworkable, both for practical and moral reasons, there is only one outcome that satisfies basic American liberal values of freedom of speech, race-blindness, equality under the law, etc. That's the one-state solution. When I lived in New York, I lived alongside people who hailed from places around the world, many of whom were American Jews and Israelis. However, I do not have the same right in my country of birth. Reasonable people can ask why Jews can live alongside Palestinians in America, but cannot fathom living alongside Palestinians in Israel.

The road to the one-state outcome is fraught with much difficulty. The struggle is likely to be as protracted as South Africa's struggle, and contentious issues like national rights, official languages and a suitable flag will need to be hammered out. But many Palestinian and Jewish activists have already embarked upon this road. Many of these individuals have come to support the one-state solution after accepting that the two-state solution is never going to materialize; Bantustans are all the international community can realistically offer the Palestinians, something few Palestinians will agree to.

My advice to the American president is to accept reality for what it is. We Palestinians will struggle for equal rights in our country in the same way blacks in America fought for their rights. We will persist in overwhelmingly demanding the implementation of our right of return. Our right of return is our right to sit anywhere on the bus, or attend any school. It would be a tragic irony if America's first black president leaves office with a legacy of supporting the world's last apartheid state.

Ahmed Moor is a Palestinian-American freelance journalist living in Beirut. He was born in the Gaza Strip, Palestine. This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post and is republished with permission. [disclaimer -- siratyst didn't ask -- hope it's okay

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Israeli Soldiers Attack The Weekly Protest Injuring A Dozen Civilians

Imad Rizka critically injured during the weekly Bil’in protest on Friday – photo by Hamdi Abu Rahmah

At least a dozen Palestinian and international civilians were injured during the weekly nonviolent protest at the central West Bank village of Bil’in.

This Friday protest marked the end of the Fifth Bil’in International Conference for Palestinian Popular Resistance, which began on Wednesday, April 21 with a full line-up of speakers including politicians, leaders of Popular Committees, Israeli activists, and international solidarity activists.

The conference continued through Thursday and Friday. After the final conference session on Friday morning, in which workshop groups reported on their conclusions in preparation for the conference statement, the conference participants gathered with scores of other Israeli, international, and Palestinians waiting at the mosque for the weekly demonstration.

Today’s demonstration was larger than normal in size, and lasted an especially long period of time. Serious injuries were sustained during the demonstration, and several were arrested. Present at the demonstration were local political figures, including Mustafa Barghouti, and international solidarity leaders such as Luisa Morgantini.

As is the case very Friday for the past six years people gathered at the local mousque and headed towards the wall built of villagers’ lands. Protesters immediately were met by soldiers who fired sound grenades, and smoke bombs.
Demonstrators reported that soldiers showed no discrimination with their firing, shooting directly at the faces of the protestors, and no discrimination in their arrests, trying to arrest even journalists.

Several serious injuries were sustained. Imad Rizka, 37 years old , from Yaffa, was shot in the forehead with a tear gas canister. He was taken away immediately to Ramallah Hospital by ambulance. Rizka is well-known in Bil’in, as he comes to the village every Friday to demonstrate.

Soldiers fired a great deal of tear gas from both sides of the fence. Demonstrators were forced to retreat, but among those who remained, several were arrested. Soldiers crossed the fence and advanced well into village and detained five people among them one local journalist.

Additional injuries are as follows:

One demonstrator from Italy, struck in the back by a tear gas canister; an Italian demonstrator who was shot in the arm with a new type of weapon; an Israeli activist; Um Samarra, 45, from Bil’in, who was hit in the leg by a tear gas canister; Haitham al-Khatib, cameraman, who was slightly injured; a Palestinian woman from Bethlehem who sustained a leg injury; and a Palestinian journalist named Abbas al-Momni.

sourced by

Friday, April 23, 2010

What Obama's Nuke Summit Missed

Cartoon Khalil Bendib -- Hattip Michael Munk

Film: “Targeted Citizen” (15 minutes) -- via Gilad Atzmon

Targeted Citizen - English from Adalah on Vimeo.

"Netanyahu Commits to Colonizing East Jerusalem; First Palestinian Expelled under new Policy" -- Juan Cole

More on the beginning of the deportations from Prof. Juan Cole:

The new Israeli policy of deporting Palestinians from the West Bank on arbitrary grounds has kicked in with Ahmad Sabah, who has just been deported to Gaza and separated from his family in the West Bank. The measure contravenes the Geneva Convention of 1949 on the treatment of occupied populations, and it also goes contrary to the undertakings Israel made toward the Palestine Authority in the course of the Oslo peace negotiations.

The episode underlines the ways in which their forced statelessness leaves Palestinians (almost uniquely among major world nationalities) completely vulnerable to loss of the most basic human rights. That he was forcibly moved to Gaza by the Israelis suggests that many of those singled out for potential deportation from the West Bank may be moved to the small slum along the Mediterranean, which the Israelis have cut off from its traditional markets and which they keep under a blockade of the civilian population (a war crime). The Israeli establishment has decided not to try to colonize Gaza, and its isolation and hopelessness make it an attractive place for them to begin exiling West Bank residents, thus making more room for Israeli colonists.

The new policy, which is illegal six ways to Sunday in international law, is the brainchild of the government of far rightwing Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu, an Israeli hawk and expansionist, slapped President Barack Obama in the face again Thursday when he confirmed that he refused to halt construction of new homes in Palestinian East Jerusalem, which is militarily occupied by Israel.

Netanyahu’s announcement is probably the nail in the coffin of any two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (in which the Israelis have thrown most Palestinians now living beyond the Green Line off their land and deprived them of citizenship in a state and all the rights that go with such citizenship). Palestinians are so despairing that only 57 percent even believe in having an independent Palestinian state any more. The rest are resigned to becoming Israelis in the distant future, when demographic realities and perhaps world-wide boycotts of Israel for its Apartheid-style policies toward the occupied Palestinian will force Israel to accept them.

At the same time, Netanyahu tried to throw sand in peoples’ eyes by talking about recognizing an ‘interim’ Palestinian state with “temporary” borders.

Palestinian leaders reject this formulation, which is intended to allow the Israelis to continue aggressively to colonize Palestinian territory while pretending that they are engaged in a ‘peace process.’ The Palestine Authority, established in the 1990s, was already a sort of interim state then, and Palestine’s borders were then ‘temporary.’ So temporary that Israel has made deep inroads into them through massive colonies and building a wall on the Palestinian side of the border, cutting residents off from their own farms and sequestering entire towns and cities.

Netanyahu’s various moves this week, from illegally expelling a Palestinian from the West Bank to Gaza– to blowing off the president of the United States and hitching his wagon to massive increased colonization of Palestinian land– all of these steps are guaranteed to mire Israel in violent disputes for years and perhaps decades. And the US, which has already suffered tremendously in Iraq and elsewhere from its knee-jerk support of illegal and inhumane Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, will suffer further.

Meanwhile, in the wake of a vicious attack on Barack Obama by New York senator Chuck Schumer, Steve Clemons of the Washington Note frankly wonders whether Schumer understands he is in the US Senate or whether he is under the impression he is serving in the Israeli Knesset.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ahmad Sabbah, First Deported Palestinian Prisoner to Gaza as "infiltrator"

Israel deported a prisoner from Tulkarem to the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, in a move that followed the approval of the new military order No. 1,650 to expel Palestinians living in the West Bank.

Ahmad Sabbah's family was waiting at the Al-Thahriyah crossing to receive their son after 10 years behind bars, but were surprised when Israeli authorities delivered the news that he had already been deported to Gaza.

Sabbah said the "discriminatory and harsh" decision was intended to further punish detainees and their parents. "There is a real war against detainees," the former prisoner said.

Deported to Gaza on Wednesday after his release from Israeli prison, Tulkarem native Ahmad Sabbah announced a sit-in strike at the Strip's northern Erez crossing in protest.

"I consider myself the first detainee deported to Gaza, and I will stay in this sit-in tent at the Erez terminal until I am allowed to return to my wife and family in Tulkarem," Sabbah said Thursday.

source: Ma'an News

Okinawans Do Not Want Another U.S. Base!

When: April 25th, Sunday at 2 pm
Where: In front of the Japanese Embassy
2520 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
What: Demonstrators will wear dugong masks and engage in a street
theater performance that symbolically restores the marine environment
of Okinawa.

The new Japanese government, pressured by the U.S., seems to be leaning toward building a new U.S. military base on Okinawa, which is a tropical island in Japan. The people of Okinawa, who already host more than 30 U.S. bases, don’t want another base that will further destroy the beautiful natural environment of their island.

Okinawans are planning to hold a rally of 100,000 people against the U.S. bases in Okinawa on April 25th.


Hawaii Okinawa Alliance: Candlelight Peace Vigil for Okinawa

Date: April 25, 2010
Time: 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Purpose: Sunset Candlelight Peace Vigil for Okinawa
Location: Japanese Consulate Honolulu
Nu`uanu Avenue & Kuakini

Israel Destroys Palestinian Playground for their Apartheid Wall

Six Violently Arrested.

Reminder: Vigil for Palestine- End the Israeli Occupation. Saturday, April 24

Please forward to your list. AND WATCH THE YOUTUBE BELOW! IT'S AMAZING.

Saturday, April 24
Noon-2:00 pm
Westlake Plaza, 4th & Pine

Amin Odeh

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

Palestinian Student Urges UC Berkeley Senate To Divest From Israeli War Crimes

Firm Run by Ex-Israeli Special Forces Soldier Wants US Security Contracts in Jerusalem, Iraq, Afghanistan -- Jeremy Scahill
April 21, 2010

The Obama administration has continued the Bush-era reliance on private contractors to sustain the US occupation of Iraq and the US operations in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, Obama has surpassed Bush’s reliance on contractors with current contractor levels surpassing 100,000 Defense Department contractors deployed. In Iraq, Obama has maintained the long-standing ratio of one contractor to every US soldier.

General Stanley McChrystal, the US commander in Afghanistan/Pakistan, said recently that he believes the US has "created in ourselves a dependency on contractors that is greater than it ought to be." He added: "I think it doesn’t save money. I actually think it would be better to reduce the number of contractors involved, increase the number of military if necessary."

Despite such proclamations, the pattern of dependence on contractors is continuing unabated—and not just within the Department of Defense.

This week the US State Department posted a solicitation for armed private security contractors to deploy in "critical or higher than critical threat areas" globally under its Worldwide Protective Services program. Among the firms that have held these contracts are Blackwater, DynCorp, Triple Canopy and Armor Group. ArmorGroup was exposed last year by whistleblowers for a range of misconduct at the US embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. Among the actions revealed by the Project on Government Oversight were hazing rituals involving nudity and heavy drinking that at times included personnel urinating on each other. The whistleblowers alleged that ArmorGroup personnel created a general atmosphere of fear and intimidation. Last December, following POGO’s revelations, the State Department said it was phasing out ArmorGroup.

In its solicitation for contract bids this week, the State Department says it will hire as many as six "qualified US firms" for "anticipated and unanticipated personal protective, static guard, and emergency response" functions. The contracts are slated to last one year with the potential for four, year-long options.

To qualify for the contracts, security companies must have a total annual value of at least $15 million in security contracts and must possess a valid "Final Secret Facility Security Clearance." After the contracts are awarded, the State Department says that it will then sponsor the contractor for "Top Secret Facility Clearance." In addition, bidding companies must have at least two years of experience operating in "austere and hostile environments overseas" such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq and experience in "operating long term personal protective security details for executive level dignitaries." The solicitation indicates that the work will include "a static guard and emergency response team requirement in Baghdad, Iraq, a static guard and emergency response team requirement in Kabul, Afghanistan, and a personal protective security service requirement in Jerusalem."

Among the companies listed as "interested vendors" to bid on the contracts are the predictable list of industry giants: L-3 Services, SAIC, USIS, Northrop Grumman, and DynCorp. Two lesser-known firms in particular that have expressed interest in the contracts jump out: Instinctive Shooting International and Evergreen International Aviation.

Hiring Instinctive Shooting International for any type of armed contract in a Muslim country, particularly to operate in Jerusalem with a stamp of US government legitimacy, should be cause for serious concern and Congressional inquiry. Instinctive Shooting International (ISI) was founded by Hanan Yadin, a former member of the Israel National Counter-Terrorism Agency and a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces. According to his bio [PDF], Hanan "received advanced training at the Israeli Anti-Terror Academy and served as an instructor at the Israeli Military Intelligence Academy. As part of a Special Ops unit he executed high-risk missions against terrorist’s cells. Hanan is an expert marksman and has completed advanced training in crisis response, Krav Maga (the Israeli unarmed fighting system), urban warfare and tactical operations."

I encountered ISI operatives, all former Israeli soldiers, manning an armed check-point in New Orleans in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. At the time, in 2005, its website described ISI’s personnel as "veterans of the Israeli special task forces from the following Israeli government bodies: Israel Defense Force (IDF), Israel National Police Counter Terrorism units, Instructors of Israel National Police Counter Terrorism units, General Security Service (GSS or 'Shin Beit’), Other restricted intelligence agencies."

Today the website has changed dramatically. Its main graphic is of US soldiers wearing ISI  websiteAmerican flag patches, wielding automatic weapons in what appears to be Iraq. "After 9/11, ISI was able to bring to bear all of its resources, expertise and experience to work with U.S. military and government agencies in gaining a deeper understanding of radical Islam and provide proven tactical techniques to improve counter-terror operations," according to the website. This would hardly be ISI’s first US government contract. It has received many training and security contracts since its founding in 1993. According to the company, it is currently under a five-year contract with the US Army that began in November 2009.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Indigenous People and the Environment -- Leonard Peltier

Remarks to the People's Conference on Climate Change

My warmest regards to our host, Bolivian President Evo Morales.

To Presidents Rafael Correa, Daniel Ortega, Hugo Chavez, and other esteemed Heads of State; national representatives; and all concerned citizens in attendance at the People’s Conference on Climate Change: I send warm greetings and thank you for your participation.

Today, environmentalists are often portrayed as marginal intellects and labeled “lunatic fringe,” rather than progressive thinkers with the ability to foresee the true cost of destructive corporate practices. I applaud your intent to ignore your detractors and admire your efforts to refine the proposals from the Copenhagen meetings—in particular, towards the creation of a world tribunal for climate issues and a global referendum on environmental choices. I know the calculus of this work is difficult to solve. Listening to the voices of so many to create a common solution is a unique and difficult challenge, but also a special opportunity. I offer prayers for your success.

My name is Leonard Peltier. I am a citizen of the Dakota/Lakota and Anishinabe Nations of North America. Like many of you, I am a tribal person. As Aboriginal peoples, we have always struggled to live in harmony with the Earth. We have maintained our vigilance and bear witness to a blatant disregard for our planet and sustainable life ways. We’ve seen that the pursuit of maximized profits through globalization, privatization, and corporate personhood has become a plague that destroys life. We know that it is not only the land that suffers as a result of these practices. The people most closely associated with the Earth suffer first and most.

The enormous pressures of corporate profits have intruded on our tribal lands, but also on our ancient cultures—even to the extent that many Indigenous cultures have virtually disappeared. Just as our relatives in the animal kingdom are threatened, many more cultures are on the brink of extinction.

In America, we are at ground zero of this war for survival and most often have been left with no mechanism to fight this globalization monster. On those occasions when we are forced into a defensive posture, we are disappeared, tortured, killed, and imprisoned. I myself have served over 34 years in prison for resisting an invasion intent on violating our treaties and stealing our land for the precious resource of uranium. The same desire for uranium has decimated and poisoned the DinĂ© Nation of Arizona and New Mexico. The quest for land for dumping and hiding the toxic waste from various nuclear processes has caused a war to be waged on the Shoshone people of Nevada, as well. These are just a few examples of what “progress” has meant for our peoples. As many can attest, the same struggle is occurring throughout Central and South America. While my defense of my tribal lands made me a political prisoner, I know I’m not at all unique. This struggle has created countless other prisoners of conscience—not to mention prisoners of poor health and loss of life way, as well as victims of guilt and rage.

To live as we were meant to live is our first right. To live free of the fear of forced removal, destroyed homelands, poisoned water, and loss of habitat, food sources, and our overall life way is our righteous demand. We, therefore, continue our struggle to survive in the face of those who deny climate change and refuse to curb corporate powers.

It is time for all our voices to be heard.

It is time we all listen, too—or else our collective Mother will dramatically and forcefully unstop our ears.

The Indigenous Peoples have been the keepers of knowledge and wisdom—long ago bringing forth foods, medicines, and other products from which the world population still benefits. The loss of our lands and cultures, therefore, is a loss for the entire human family. We are all citizens of Earth and this planet is our only home. What affects one, affects us all. We are all interconnected and our fates are intertwined.

We can indefinitely survive here, but only if we work together to adopt sustainable models for living responsibly. We cannot continue to destroy Creator’s work, or allow others to do so, in the belief that there will be no consequences.

I pray for a new age—a new understanding, consciousness, and way of being—a new path for all the peoples of the world.

Aho! Mitakuye Oyasin!

(Thank you to all my relations. We are all related.)

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,

Leonard Peltier 89637-132
US Penitentiary
PO Box 1000
Lewisburg, PA 17837

For more information on Leonard Peltier visit the Leonard Peltier Defense-Offense Committee website.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Your Taxes at Work!

The Rich Get Rich and the Poor Get Screwed!

Bring Our War $$ Home Campaign
Concerned organizations and individuals around the state have created the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home as a way to promote the idea that our state's fiscal crisis is in large part due to the current spending on endless war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The current wars and occupations have now cost US taxpayers nearly $1 trillion. Maine's share of that war spending is more than $2.5 billion. We invite you to imagine how that war money could have been spent here in Maine on education, health care, social programs, repairing our decaying roads and bridges, and building a world-class public transit system.

Forty states in the US today are in fiscal crisis. We must demand that our Congressional delegation vote against any further war spending and that they become leaders in the Congress on this important issue. We must also urge all elected officials (local, state, and federal) to speak out against continued war spending. Help us call on Maine's elected leaders to demand that we Bring Our War $$ Home now.

Check our calendar of events and help us build this campaign!

Bring our troops home now!

"Obama hints that "two-state solution" may be impossible" -- Juan Cole

Obama’s team tried to get Palestine Authority president Mahmoud Abbas to restart negotiations last year, but the long-suffering Abbas insisted first on a freeze of creeping Israeli colonization of the Palestinian West Bank. That is, he insisted that Israel not be actively annexing the very territory at issue while the talks proceeded. It would sort of be like negotiating to buy a mansion from a seller who was dismantling wings of it, carting them off to his new residence, while he kept jacking up the asking price on his increasingly diminished domicile.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally agreed to an eight-month settlement freeze on the West Bank. But the offer was insincere. Building within existing settlements would continue; they would just get denser. And the parts of the West Bank Israel had illegally and unilaterally annexed to its district of Jerusalem would continue to be settled.

The first, flawed offer by Netanyahu was enough to bring Abbas to indirect negotiations. But then the implementation of the second bit of insincerity scotched any movement toward peace talks as the Palestinians decided that they had to retain a modicum of self-respect. The building of 1,600 new homes on Palestinian land near Jerusalem was announced just as Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Israel to kick off the proximity talks made it look as though Israel is not only a fickle and unreliable diplomatic partner. Beyond that, it looked as if its government was intent on kicking Biden in the teeth and humiliating Washington.

One problem Obama faces is that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a coordinating body for the Israel lobbies, has successfully mobilized congress against him with regard to putting further pressure on far right-wing Netanyahu to stop building settlements. Congress decides on how much money to give Israel annually, and how many weapons to sell it. Obama cannot effectively threaten Netanyahu with a reduction in the billions of dollars a year in aid, trade privileges, loan guarantees, and military equipment sent to Israel by the U.S. Those goods are giftds from Congress, and Congress typically yields to AIPAC and its colleagues.

As John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have demonstrated in The Israel Lobby, these lobbies cultivate congressmen and senators from the beginning of their careers. The Christian Zionists, who form a significant movement within U.S. evangelicalism, probably number some 10 million, and it is not hard to get them to write their senator on behalf of Israeli expansionism. Pro-Israel organizations and individuals are disproportionately politically active and likely to give to political campaigns.

A recent Israeli government decree that could lead to the expulsion of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in the West Bank has stirred extreme anxiety in the region.

Aljazeera English has video on the new rules:

According to the London pan-Arab daily, al-Quds al-Arabi, the Jordanian government fears that Netanyahu and his even more right wing foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, will engineer clashes between Israeli colonists on the West Bank and the Palestinian villagers on whom they are encroaching, as a pretext for pushing tens of thousands of Palestinians into Jordan.

Certainly, Israeli-Jordanian relations are at their lowest point since the 1994 peace treaty between the two countries — a treaty that King Abdullah II says he is beginning to regret. He worries that Jerusalem is a keg of dynamite, that Gaza and Lebanon could explode into hot war at any time, and even that Israel and Iran may go to war against one another.

Yep, that's what you worry about if you know the region well.

Vive La Palestine! Vive La France!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

"PAX AMERICANA and the Weaponization of Space" -- FRIGHTENING!

"Brooklyn Beats to Beirut Streets" -- SJP, UW

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP-UW) & the Human Writes Project (HWP) Present "Brooklyn Beats to Beirut Streets"

This FREE performance features artists:

Mark Gonzales, Nizar Wattad (Ragtop), and Omar Chakaki (Offendum)

Date: Thurs April 22nd

Time: 7:00 PM

Location: Husky North Den in the HUB at the University of Washington

An energetic, informative and often startling presentation in spoken-word and rhyme that you dont want to miss! Their performances have captivated crowds around the world, including a recent tour in the Middle East. Please bring your friends and family and enjoy this FREE event!

Poet and Educator Mark Gonzales (An Alaskan-born Mexican American) and hip hop artists Nizar Wattad and Omar Chakaki (hailing from Palestine and Syria, respectively) offer a unique examination of identity, pop culture, and growing up an ‘other’ in the United States. An energetic, informative and often startling presentation in spoken-word and rhyme, "Brooklyn Beats to Beirut Streets” traces the artists’ development alongside the birth and growth of hip hop, then invites audience members to participate in a discussion of (1) how an art form once considered to exist on the margins of society can grow to become the most popular musical genre amongst youth around the world; (2) what this means to those hip hopper who remain on the margins; and (3) what problems and concerns face the rest of society in realizing , accepting and ultimately utilizing this shift.

“Part rhyme, part prose, Brooklyn Beats to Beirut Streets traces three artists journey through four continents and thirty-five years of sound and struggle. An album is released-a bomb dropped - a levy breaks- a culture is born - a war begins- & a world becomes smaller. Remember when you first heard a poet replay, remix and cross fade new language for you? Remember again, for the first time"

"In 1975, Hip Hop was BORN... and so was I."

for more information:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

"Adding Torture to Injury -- Pam Bailey

It was bad enough that Ahmad Asfour was severely maimed by an Israeli drone strike outside his house on 9 January 2009. But, his search for advanced treatment landed the journalism student, now 19, in Israeli prison where he remains.

According to Mahmud Abo Rahma of the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, not many Palestinians are arrested as Ahmed was, but it is increasingly common for patients entering Israel to be denied treatment unless the patient or family agrees to collaborate.

Al Mezan has joined the Physicians for Human Rights and the Adalah Center (which defends the rights of Palestinian Arabs in Israel) to charge Israel with blackmailing Palestinian patients in Gaza, exploiting their need for medical treatment to pressure them into collaborating with its intelligence agencies.

Ahmad and four teenaged cousins were hit by fragments from a missile fired by an Israeli drone, east of Khan Younis, in the southern region of the Gaza Strip, just 14 days after Israel launched its massive, 22-day assault on the densely populated strip of land wedged between Israel and Egypt. The fragments lodged in his left eye, broke his jaw, shattered his teeth, severely lacerated both hands and right thigh, destroyed his genitals and damaged his pancreas and intestines.

His father, Samir, was in Egypt at the time with one of Ahmad’s brothers, who had been injured just eight days before. Due to the siege imposed by Israel since Hamas took control in 2007, medical care in Gaza is often inadequate. Gazans have been unable to repair the 15 (out of 27) hospitals and 43 (of 110) primary healthcare facilities damaged in last year’s Israeli invasion, because of the ban on importation of construction materials.

Treatment in Egypt is not advanced and, according to Abo Rahma, the risk of contracting Hepatitis C is significant. Getting permission to enter Israel is difficult for Palestinians during normal times, and it was impossible during and immediately after the invasion. Even a year later, the UN reports that almost a quarter of the 1,103 patients who had sought permits for treatment in Israel in December 2009 were denied or delayed. As a result, 27 patients died while awaiting referral last year.

Ahmad and his cousins were rushed to the local hospital by his oldest brother, and the medical director sent them immediately to Egypt. Ahmad spent the next eight months there, but little could be done. In fact, because of the damage to his pancreas and the lack of appropriate treatment, he soon developed diabetes.

Doctors caring for Ahmad recommended he travel to Germany. But there was a catch: Ahmad needed a visa, and for that he was required to go to Tel Aviv — an impossibility for Palestinians in Gaza.

Finally, one physician suggested a hospital in Jerusalem, St. Joseph’s. As part of the approval process, Samir took his wheelchair-bound son to the Erez Crossing into Israel on 23 November. After waiting four hours, they were turned away, and told to return two days later. When they arrived, they were subjected to a harrowing ordeal.

“Here I am with my injured son, terrified about his health, and we were forced to remove all of our clothes so we could be strip searched. Then they took my son away from me,” recounted Samir through an interpreter. “Ahmad needed insulin every two hours, but I couldn’t give it to him … The next thing I know he is in shackles! They took the medication I had brought for Ahmed and all the money I had collected from charities (about $2,500) and he was gone.”

It was 20 days, says Samir, before he finally found out what had happened to his son, after he sought help from human rights organizations.

Lawyers from the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights discovered that other young men who had gone before Ahmad to Erez and been interrogated had apparently implicated him, claiming he had been in possession of a gun and an explosive for one of the Gaza-based militias. (Samir claims the “explosive” was actually his son’s insulin vials.)

Ahmad maintained his innocence during his four hours of interrogation at Erez, and as a result, he was transferred to an Israeli prison in Ashkelon. After five consecutive days of further interrogation, Ahmad could take no more and confessed. The charges: “membership in a terrorist organization, observation of and passing information to the enemy, providing services for a terrorist organization and possession of firearms.”

“He was subjected to practices that we consider torture and ill treatment, mainly in the form of forced stress positions for long hours, such as sitting on a chair with hands cuffed behind,” the Al Mezan legal team said in a response to an inquiry. “Torture is unconscionable at any time, but it is particularly cruel when the victim is already medically vulnerable.”

Samir, who receives information on his son from the attorneys and the Red Cross, said he learned later that his son had been told that his father was in jail as well, and that therefore he must cooperate with the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency. Meanwhile, Physicians for Human Rights learned that Ahmad was being denied all medical treatment except for his insulin, and has been advocating on his behalf. Samir says the latest news he received is that one of his son’s arms may need to be amputated.

Today, Ahmed is still in prison, although he has been transferred to Beersheba. Based on his “confession,” he was offered a plea bargain of 33 months incarceration or a shortened list of charges with sentencing to be determined. He rejected the “bargain” and at a 24 March session, the court set a new hearing for June, to allow the prosecution to call its witnesses — the police who conducted the interrogation.

"Recovering From Empathy" -- Robert Koehler
April 16, 2010 "Buzzflash" -- What I thought of, straight off, as I watched that 17-minute WikiLeaks video of Iraqis – including a Reuters photographer and his driver – being strafed on a Baghdad street in 2007 by a U.S. helicopter, was a book of postcards published a decade ago.

The book, compiled by James Allen, is called Without Sanctuary. My guess is that you don’t have it sitting on your coffee table. The postcards and various other stained, frayed photographs –- about a hundred of them –- depict mostly black men, a few women, a few white men, in the process or aftermath of being lynched in the United States, in the first half of the 20th century. The dangling or burned corpses are surrounded, in most of the pictures, by grim or smirking or benevolently smiling onlookers, some of them children. It’s the most surreal and troubling historical document I’ve ever seen in my life.

It’s a stark testimony to the devaluation of human life, and this is its thread of commonality with the video, which –- justify it if you will in the name of war, rail as Defense Secretary Gates did that it’s “out of context” –- records helicopter crewmen chuckling in exaltation as they kill a dozen people (“Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards.”), including the driver of a van who was trying to rescue one of the wounded.

When ground troops discover two wounded children in the van, which had been taken out with armor-piercing shells (“Look at that, right through the windshield.”), one of the helicopter crewmen comments: “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids to a battle.”

This is where the frame freezes for me, and I remain stuck, churning in my own outrage and despair just as I have –- and so many millions of Americans have –- since the war on terror was launched amid all its lies and cowardly righteousness in 2001. For God’s sake, we’re killing people. We’re doing so in large numbers, with high-tech savagery. We aren’t even defending ourselves. We’ve invented an enemy out of whole cloth.

We’re . . . killing . . . people.

But it didn’t matter then and it doesn’t matter now. Those who defend this war, or war in general –- or the infinitesimal slice of war depicted in the WikiLeaks video -– have an endless supply of rationalizations that only make sense within a heavily fortified consciousness: a consciousness unable or afraid to cross the line demarking us and them, to ask, fleetingly, “What if those ‘dead bastards’ were my parents, my brothers, my children?”

Ask that and things start to change. It’s called empathy. Embrace it and you can no longer tolerate war –- not this kind of war, modern, impersonal, fought from above –- as a way to advance the interests of business and empire, or to make a geopolitical statement. If too many people cross that line, it’s a big problem for the war economy. This is “Vietnam syndrome” redux. The original took a generation to expunge. The powers that be, who took a big hit with the Abu Ghraib torture photos, certainly don’t want a leaked, decrypted video to undo all that meticulous planning.

The media that supported the war on terror at the outset continue, helpfully, to cover all matters related to it with their empathy meters set at zero. In so doing, they, and the dispassionate experts whose quotes they solicit, are able to coax many guilt-stricken and confused patriots back to psychological safety.

The New York Times, ever the leader in this effort, recently hauled out some psychologists to “explain” the video: “You don’t want combat soldiers to be foolish or to jump the gun, but their job is to destroy the enemy, and one way they’re able to do that is to see it as a game, so that the people don’t seem real,” said Army psychologist Bret A. Moore.

And thus those viewers of the video who were shocked to discover just how real and unpretty war is can relax and recover from their empathy attack. War is a game, see? These guys were doing their jobs. All the way up the chain of command, they’re just doing their jobs. And mainstream journalists will continue to describe those jobs unquestioningly within the parameters of the game.

Thus Yochi J. Dreazen, writing in the Wall Street Journal, explains that “Defense Secretary Robert Gates said civilian casualties in Afghanistan were posing a strategic challenge to U.S. battlefield success there. . . .”

Dead Afghan civilians are “a problem.” They make other Afghans angry and then they join the enemy. One of the “problems” Dreazen’s story referenced was the American Special Forces operation last February in Gardez, in which five civilians, including two pregnant women, were killed during a raid on what turned out to be a baby shower. The Americans, apparently realizing they’d screwed up, tried to give themselves deniability in the killings by digging their bullets out of some of the corpses, witnesses said. At least it wasn’t caught on video.

While the war on terror, or whatever it’s called in the Obama era, will grind someday to a shameful halt, I despair that there’s no stopping the next one. The occasional graphic video is no match for a media establishment with empathy meters set at zero.