Sunday, October 31, 2010

Seattle United Against FBI Repression At Seattle Sanity Satellite Rally

Friend Susan Fried got a great shot of our banner. What you can't see here is me in a witch hat and phony nose and Jim Squire in a scream mask holding the banner. The outfits were Jim's idea and he brought the brooms we attached to the banner. Brilliant!

We got mentioned by a couple of the comedians on stage, but the press totally ignored us as far as I can tell. As you can see the rally was very well attended (The Seattle Times said several thousand.)

Thanks to Adrienne Weller for leafletting and Gerry Condon & Helen Jaccard who brought us extra leaflets to distribute.

"NYC: Unify Against Repression. Join Us in a Worldwide Demonstration Demanding Recognition for U.S. Political Prisoners"

from Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

Free All U.S. Held Political Prisoners
and Prisoners of War NOW!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Noon to 2 p.m.

Across from the United Nations
Northwest corner of First Avenue & 42nd Street

On Friday, November 5th the United States will give an oral presentation on its human rights record to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group in Geneva, Switzerland. This is an historic event and an opportunity to shine a light on human rights violations on the part of the U.S. government and the use of U.S. courts to quash dissent.

This is a solidarity call to action. Join your movement to ours. Stand in unity against repression. Join us in a worldwide demonstration demanding recognition for U.S. political prisoners, prisoners of war, and exiles.

Sponsor: NYC Chapter Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee • • 646-535-3531

Endorsers (in formation): NYC Jericho, Popular Education Campaign to Free the Cuban Five, ProLibertad

To download a flyer:

"Father of Gaza Deportee Dies in Bethlehem" -- Please Remain "Civil" & "Sane" After You Read This!

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The father of a deportee to the Gaza Strip died Saturday in the southern West Bank, relatives said.

Ahmad Mahmoud I’beiyat, 60, died in Beit Jala hospital, near Bethlehem, his son Jawad said. The two had been separated for nine years.

Twenty-six Palestinians who took refuge in the Church of the Nativity during clashes in 2002 were expelled to Gaza following Operation Defensive Shield, during which Israeli forces besieged the church and Bethlehem in a bid to locate Palestinian combatants.

"It was sad for me to hear that my father died before we could meet. He was so burdened that I had been deported for several years. And my brother is in jail. All of this affected his health," Jawad said.

I’beiyat suffered kidney failure for a year and a half before falling into a coma Friday and eventually passing away Saturday, Jawad said.

"Protestors Barge into NATO Base and Call for Withdrawal of Troops from Afghanistan"

(via the STOPNATO list)

A FLASH mob of anti-military pressure-group members managed to enter the NATO headquarters in Bétera (Valencia) today demanding that all Spanish troops be withdrawn from Afghanistan.

They also called for the NATO base to be close down.

The protestors began with a demonstration in the street through the municipality of Bétera before 13 participants entered the building by climbing under the fence on bikes, juggling balls and turning the centre into a 'circus', witnesses say.

This was an attempt to call for the NATO base to be turned into a 'social and civic centre' instead of a armed forces headquarters.

Nobody was arrested, although the Civil Guard were called out and identified a number of the people who had managed to enter the complex.

The demostrate was joined by in the region 50 people, say the organisation Alternativa Antimilitarista, which has already carried out demonstrations in other parts of the country including Alicante, Tenerife, Barcelona, Albacete and Elche.

Their next attempt to dissolve NATO and bring Spanish soldiers home from the war-torn, Taliban-ruled Asian country will take place in Rota (Cádiz), followed by another in Lisbon on November 20 to coincide with the NATO Summit meeting in the Portuguese capital.

"Foiled or Faked: FBI entrapment' Tactics Fuel Home-grown Terror?"

Thanks, Rik.

Friday, October 29, 2010

"Reminder: Vigil for Gaza, End the Israeli Occupation of Palestine, Sat. 10/30/10, Noon-2

Please forward to your list....

Saturday, Oct. 30

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


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

Sara Roy -- Israel & Int'l Community Ask: "What Occupation?" [15 min video]

Murdering Dissent: U.S. Does 3 Drone Strikes in 24 Hours in Pakistan

We should all be concerned; murder of dissenters to U.S. foreign policy is becoming routine. [Original article via Rick Rozoff's Stop NATO list]
A unmanned US aircraft Thursday fired two missiles into a house in Pakistan's tribal region near the Afghan border, killing at least seven militants, security officials said, DPA reported.

The strike was carried out in Datta Khel area in North Waziristan district, a known bastion of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters involved in cross-border raids on NATO-led international forces in Afghanistan.

"Three Arabs and an Afghan national are among the seven killed," an intelligence official said on condition of anonymity.

A second official who also sought anonymity said that "at least three more people are injured and it is not immediately clear if any high value target is among those killed and wounded."

It was the third US drone strike in the last 24 hours in North Waziristan. On Wednesday six alleged militants died in two US missile attacks.

The US military has stepped up attacks in North Waziristan, carrying out around 30 drone attacks in the last two months.

Washington does not publicly acknowledge the drone attacks but US authorities have claimed unofficially that the strikes have eliminated dozens of suspected al-Qaeda operatives.

Pakistan has protested the attacks, but it is widely believed that state intelligence agencies coordinate with the US to identify potential targets.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"Obama Answer This" Project

The “Obama Answer This” Project is the initiative of an incarcerated father and if he can reach the people out there then we hope we can count on you to spread the word because with 2.3 million behind bars we can no longer afford to turn a blind eye.

via Leonard Peltier's blog

Gaza Diary 9 - Last Thoughts on the Viva Palestina Convoy

Furkan Dogan is forever in Gaza
Arshad’s suit is there too

The hand-made poster from Istanbul is in the window
We are leaving on a convoy of buses
Into Egypt—police escort us off the premises

This is my last email.

This convoy was an outstanding success

The Bottom Line:

  • $5 million aid
  • 147 vehicles
  • 15,000 litres of fuel
  • A poke in the eye for Israel
  • More cooperation from the Egyptian people

But Palestinians didn’t ask about aid
NGO’s rightly did

Palestinians had but one message
“Tell your country about us”
Breaking the siege suggests medicine and essential goods
But this was breaking the isolation
And that we did big time

This was hope on wheels
To people with hope in their hearts

A powerful combination—determined
Remember the words of amputee Mohammed Mosa Joma
“I want peace but Gaza will not fall down”

Remember that I saw much smiling
And no-one on their knees

We on the convoy are inspired

There is that gap
What is needed to be done
What can be done
No lecture
Do what you can
Identify with the Palestinians

In the early 70s I asked our good friend Paul Foot (born in Palestine) to write “Why you should be a socialist”
Today I would ask him to write the sequel “Why you should be a Palestinian”

There is much to be done
We are all Palestinians

Monday, October 25, 2010

"Iraq war logs: UN Calls on Obama to Investigate Human Rights Abuses"


The UN has called on Barack Obama to order a full investigation of US forces' involvement in human rights abuses in Iraq after a massive leak of military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.

The call, by the UN's chief investigator on torture, Manfred Nowak, came as Phil Shiner, human rights specialist at Public Interest Lawyers in the UK, warned that some of the deaths documented in the Iraq war logs could have involved British forces and would be pursued through the UK courts. He demanded a public inquiry into allegations that British troops were responsible for civilian deaths during the conflict.

The Guardian has analysed the 400,000 documents, the biggest leak in US military history, and found 15,000 previously unreported civilian deaths. The logs show how US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and generally unpunished.

Nowak said that if the files released through WikiLeaks pointed to clear violations of the UN Convention Against Torture the Obama administration had an obligation to investigate them.

The logs paint a disturbing picture of the relationship between US and Iraqi forces. Nowak said that UN human rights agreements obliged states to criminalise every form of torture, whether directly or indirectly, and to investigate any allegations of abuse.

Speaking on the BBC's Today programme, Nowak, who has spent years investigating allegations of US participation in extraordinary rendition and the abuse of detainees held by coalition forces, said the Obama administration had a legal and moral obligation to fully investigate credible claims of US forces' complicity in torture.

A failure to investigate, Nowak suggested, would be a failure of the Obama government to recognise its obligations under international law. He said the principle of "non-refoulement" prohibited states from transferring detainees to other countries that could pose a risk to their personal safety.

The documents, which cover the period in Iraq from 2004 onwards, have prompted claims that this principle has not been observed. The files contain evidence that US forces were ordered to turn a blind eye to abuses committed by the Iraqi authorities.

Numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee's apparent death.

Nowak said the US had an obligation "whenever they expel, extradite or hand over any detainees to the authorities of another state to assess whether or not these individuals are under specific risk of torture. If this assessment is not done, or authorities hand over detainees knowing there is a serious risk of them being subjected to torture, they violate article 3 of the UN convention that precludes torture."

Nowak said it would be up to the Obama administration to launch an "independent and objective" investigation with a view not only to "bring the perpetrators to justice but also to provide the victims with adequate remedy and reparation".

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Comment to a NYTimes Blog Article Exposing Israel's Jailing of Palestinian Protesters

"Palestinians Sentenced for Civil Disobedience"
"I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence....I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonour." -- M. K. Gandhi

It is easy enough to see how a Palestinian child who is being raised under a brutal military occupation might resort to stone-throwing to defend not just the honor but the lives of the people they love. Especially when the adults around them who have the discipline to maintain a non-violent stance against the might of an Army are taken away from them and sent to Israeli prisons.

Shame on Israel and shame on the U.S. government who supports them.

Vive Le French Personnes! Strike Continuing After 12 Days

Protesters in France decry Paris' pension reforms for the 12th straight day, as the country witnesses its worst strikes and civil disobedience in 15 years.

"Just because an unjust law has been passed does not mean we passively accept it. All we wanted was discussions on how to improve the law. Even that was denied us. Now we are calling for its suspension," The Hindu quoted Francois Chereque of the CFDT trade union as saying on Sunday.

Labor unions have called for two more strikes on next Thursday and November 6th to protest against the country's pension reforms. A similar call brought millions of people into the streets early this week.

According to the AFP, the unions say they will continue to call on their workers and other French citizens to keep protesting until the French President Nicolas Sarkozy negotiates with them.

The French Upper House passed Sarkozy's reform bill last Friday, raising the minimum retirement age two years, to 62 and full retirement from 65 to 67.

A joint parliamentary commission is to meet next week to give its final approval to the law, considered a mere formality.

The bill has sparked protests for more than two weeks, disrupting rail and airports services. A blockade on refineries, fuel depots and ports has also left many gas stations empty, forcing 30 percent of gas stations in the French capital of Paris to shut down.

Strikes at France's oil refineries, which began in Marseille in September, caused panic buying and nationwide shortages.

Marseille, France's oldest city, has been crippled by the walkouts. Protesters have barricaded roads leading to Marseille Airport, forcing passengers to abandon their cars and drag suitcases to the terminal on foot to catch flights.

A fleet of huge ships, cruising offshore, are unable to dock in the southern coastal city as railway staff and dock workers join the strikes.

A recent public opinion poll by a French television network showed that nearly 70 percent of French citizens support the ongoing strikes.

The French government has said on numerous occasions that the reform is needed to save the indebted pension system from collapse.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

"Weimar in Jerusalem: the Rise of Fascism in Israel" -- Uri Avnery (via Sabbah Report)
In Berlin, an exhibition entitled "Hitler and the Germans" has just opened. It examines the factors that caused the German people to bring Adolf Hitler to power and follow him to the very end…

Since childhood, precisely this question has been troubling me. How did it happen that a civilized nation, which saw itself as the "people of poets and thinkers", followed this man, much as the children of Hamelin followed the pied piper to their doom.

This troubles me not only as a historical phenomenon, but as a warning for the future. If this happened to the Germans, can it happen to any people? Can it happen here, in Israel?

As a nine-year old boy I was an eyewitness to the collapse of German democracy and the ascent of the Nazis to power. The pictures are engraved in my memory – the election campaigns following each other, the uniforms in the street, the debates around the table, the teacher who greeted us for the first time with "Heil Hitler". I resurrected these memories in a book I wrote (in Hebrew) during the Eichmann trial, and which ended with a chapter entitled "Can it happen here?" I am returning to them these days, as I write my memoirs.

Fascism – no longer a taboo

I don't know if the Berlin exhibition tries to answer these questions. Perhaps not. Even now, 77 years later, there is no final answer to the question: why did the German republic collapse?

This is an all-important question, because now people in Israel are asking, with growing concern: is the Israeli republic collapsing?

For the first time, this question is being asked in all seriousness. Throughout the years, we were careful not to mention the word fascism in public discourse. It raises memories which are too monstrous. Now this taboo has been broken.

Yitzhak Herzog, the minister of welfare in the Netanyahu government, a member of the Labour party, the grandson of a chief rabbi and the son of a president, said a few days ago that "fascism is touching the margins of our society". He was wrong: fascism is not only touching the margins, it is touching the government in which he is serving, and the Knesset, of which he is a member.

Not a day – quite literally – passes without a group of Knesset members tabling a new racist bill. The country is still divided by the amendment to the law of citizenship, which will compel applicants to swear allegiance to "Israel as a Jewish and democratic state". Now the ministers are discussing whether this will be demanded only of non-Jews (which doesn't sound nice) or of Jews, too – as if this would change the racist content one bit.

This week, a new bill was tabled. It would prohibit non-citizens from acting as tourist guides in East Jerusalem. Non-citizens in this case means Arabs. Because, when East Jerusalem was annexed by force to Israel after the 1967 war, its Arab inhabitants were not granted citizenship. They were accorded only the status of "permanent residents", as if they were recent newcomers and not scions of families that have lived in the city for centuries.

The bill is intended to deprive Arab Jerusalemites of the right to serve as tourist guides at their holy places in their city, since they are apt to deviate from the official propaganda line. Shocking? Incredible? Not in the eyes of the proponents, who include members of the Kadima Party. A Knesset member of the Meretz party also signed, but retracted, claiming that he was confused.

This proposal comes after dozens of bills of this kind have been tabled recently, and before dozens of others which are already on their way. The Knesset members act like sharks in a feeding frenzy. There is a wild competition between them to see who can devise the most racist bill.

It pays. After each such bill, the initiators are invited to TV studios to "explain" their purpose. Their pictures appear in the papers. For obscure MKs, whose names we have never heard of, that poses an irresistible temptation. The media are collaborating.

Israel's place in the international club of fascists

This is not a uniquely Israeli phenomenon. All over Europe and America, overt fascists are raising their heads. The purveyors of hate, who until now have been spreading their poison at the margins of the political system, are now arriving at the centre.

In almost every country there are demagogues who build their careers on incitement against the weak and helpless, who advocate the expulsion of "foreigners" and the persecution of minorities. In the past they were easy to dismiss, as was Hitler at the beginning of his career. Now they must be taken seriously.

Only a few years ago, the world was shocked when Jörg Haider's party was allowed Into the Austrian government coalition. Haider praised Hitler's achievements. The Israeli government furiously recalled its ambassador to Vienna. Now the new Dutch government is dependent on the support of a declared racist, and fascist parties achieve impressive election gains in many countries. The "Tea Party" movement, which is blooming in the US, has some clearly fascist aspects. One of its candidates likes to go around wearing the uniform of the murderous Nazi Waffen-SS.

So we are in good company. We are no worse than the others. If they can do it, why not us?

But there is a big difference: Israel is not in the same situation as Holland or Sweden…

The German republic carried the name of Weimar, the town where the constituent assembly adopted its constitution after World War I. The Weimar of Bach and Goethe was one of the cradles of German culture.

It was a shiningly democratic constitution. Under its wings, Germany saw an unprecedented intellectual and artistic bloom. So why did the republic collapse?

Generally, two causes are identified: humiliation and unemployment. When the republic was still in its infancy, it was forced to sign the Versailles peace treaty with the victors of World War I, a treaty that was but a humiliating act of surrender. When the republic fell behind with the payment of the huge indemnities levied on it, the French army invaded the industrial heartland of Germany in 1923, precipitating a galloping inflation – a trauma Germany has not recovered from to this day.

When the world economic crisis broke out in 1929, the German economy broke down. Millions of despairing unemployed sank into abject poverty and cried out for salvation. Hitler promised to wipe out both the humiliation of defeat and the unemployment, and fulfilled both promises: he gave work to the unemployed in the new arms industry and in public works, like the new autobahns, in preparation for war.

And there was a third reason for the collapse of the republic: the growing apathy of the democratic public. The political system of the republic just became loathsome. While the people were sinking into misery, the politicians went on playing their games. The public was longing for a strong leader, to impose order. The Nazis did not overthrow the republic. The republic imploded, the Nazis only filled the void.

In Israel there is no economic crisis. On the contrary, the economy is flourishing. Israel did not sign any humiliating agreement, like the Treaty of Versailles. On the contrary, it won all its wars. True, our fascists speak about the "Oslo criminals", much as Hitler ranted against the "November criminals", but the Oslo agreement was the opposite of the Versailles treaty, which was signed in November 1919.

If so, what does the profound crisis of Israeli society stem from? What causes millions of citizens to regard with complete apathy the doings of their leaders, contenting themselves with shaking their heads in front of the TV set? What causes them to ignore what's happening in the occupied territories, half an hour's drive from their home? Why do so many declare that they do not listen to the news or read newspapers anymore? What is the origin of the depression and despair, which leave open the road to fascism?

The state has arrived at a crossroads: peace or eternal war. Peace means the foundation of a Palestinian state and the evacuation of the settlements. But the genetic code of the Zionist movement is pushing towards the annexation of the whole of the historical country up to the Jordan River, and – directly or indirectly – the transfer of the Arab population. The majority of the people is evading a decision by claiming that "we have no partner for peace" anyhow. We are condemned to eternal war.

Democracy is suffering from a growing paralysis, because the different sectors of the people live in different worlds. The secular, the national-religious and the Orthodox receive totally different educations. Common ground between them is shrinking. Other rifts are gaping between the old Ashkenazi community, the Oriental Jews, the immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia, and the Arab citizens, whose separation from the rest is increasing all the time.

For the second time in my life, I may have to witness the collapse of a republic. But that is not predestined. Israel is not the goose-stepping Germany of those days, 2010 is not 1933. The Israeli society can yet sober up in time and mobilize the democratic forces within itself.

But for that to happen, it must awake from the coma, understand what is happening and where it is leading to, protest and struggle by all available means (as long as that is still possible), in order to arrest the fascist wave that is threatening to engulf us.

* Uri Avnery is an Israeli journalist, writer and peace activist.

Students Protest IDF Soldiers Campus Visit

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Israel Seals Unprecedented Weapons Deals With the US" -- Nora Barrows-Friedman


In late July 2010, the US House Appropriations Sub-Committee on Defense increased funding for Israeli missile defense programs to its highest level ever - approving $422.7 million for next year's budget - and adding $95.7 million to the original White House funding request for the long-range Arrow interceptor project and the medium-range David's Sling, according to sources quoted by the Jerusalem Post. "The lion's share - $108.8m. - will go to the Arrow 3 system, which the US signed off on after some initial hesitation," the Jerusalem Post reported. The funding also includes $205 million for the short-range missile interceptor program (dubbed "The Iron Dome") initially approved by President Barack Obama last Spring.

This defense spending package is more than double that of last year's. Since 2006, US taxpayers have funded approximately $1 billion in joint US-Israel missile defense programs such as the Arrow 3 and Iron Dome projects. The Arrow project, for example, is jointly produced by the US's Boeing corporation and Israel Aerospace Industries.

Last year, as Truthout reported, President Obama signed over $2.775 billion to Israel, the first installment of a ten-year, $30 billion agreement for an expanded military aid package to the Israeli government. "The package is earmarked completely for Israel's military budget instead of the prior allocation to both civilian and military infrastructure," reported Truthout. "This massive military package is over and above the annual $3.1 billion in loan guarantees to Israel that the Obama administration plans to continue ... As a part of the ten-year agreement, Israel is required to contract 75 percent of the package toward the purchase of American-made military equipment and ammunition, intended to further subsidize US weapons manufacturers."

Additionally, in December 2009, the Obama administration doubled a Bush-era arms contract with Israel to store $800 million worth of military equipment, technology and ordnance inside the state. Included in this program is the caveat that the United States could have immediate access to the weapons cache in the event of a military "emergency," though the definition and parameters of such an emergency were unclear.

Dr. Francis Boyle, professor of international law and the author of the forthcoming book, "The Palestinian Right of Return Under International Law," told Truthout that it's not surprising that these weapons contracts are being signed during the tenuous, but continuing US-brokered direct talks between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. "The talks are not going anywhere," Boyle told Truthout. "and these incentives are sweeteners to get [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu to go along with the talks. The Americans are allowing Israel to gobble up the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It's a public relations exercise, a dog and pony show. The main act is going on somewhere else."

"Israel is buying their weapons from us," Boyle continued. "And the people who gain are the US weapons contractors. The Israelis get the weapons, but all the profits go to our war contractors. Everyone's making money, and the American people are getting ripped off. This is nothing new."

Boyle said that by amassing weapons and military supremacy in the region, Israel is actively "preserving" an option to attack neighboring countries.

"They're moving large amounts of weapons into the region, and it's a very dangerous thing," Boyle said. "But it's not only the US that is doing this. The French and the British are also moving weapons into the region to be used if they decide to use them."

The US-Israeli F-35 fighter jet deal came on the heels of Washington's announcement in September that it plans to sell $60 billion worth of weapons and military equipment - including 84 F-15 fighter jets - to the government of Saudi Arabia, making it the largest arms deal in history.

An unnamed senior US official was quoted in The New York Times as saying that the enormous weapons deal could be described as a counterthreat toward Iran: "We want Iran to understand that its nuclear program is not getting them leverage over their neighbors, that they are not getting an advantage," the official claimed. "We want the Iranians to know that every time they think they will gain, they will actually lose." The sale, according to this official, is "mainly intended as a building block for Middle East regional defenses to box in Iran."

Along with the fleet of F-15 fighter jets, the Saudi-US deal includes 70 Apache attack helicopters, 72 Black Hawk troop-transport helicopters and 36 "Little Bird" surveillance helicopters and the possibility of ships and antimissile defenses if the deal goes forward. Congress is set to approve the plan in a vote this month.

Stephen Walt, writing in Foreign Policy magazine on September 21 , commented on the supposed Iranian "threat," saying "it seems like an awful lot of weaponry to 'contain' a country whose entire defense budget, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, is only $10 billion."

Prison Dispatch (October 20) from Leonard Peltier

October 20, 2010

Sisters, brothers, friends and supporters:

I would like to share with you the good feelings I am experiencing right now. On the 16th of October, I met with my team of lawyers, my dream team. I can’t reveal the details of this meeting, but I’ll tell you this -- It was a great meeting and many positive ideas were discussed. Decisions were made about how best to prepare and file new court actions.

I’m very excited about our plans. We have at the very least 6 more constitutional violations to address. As some of you might know, in these 35 years, I have learned a lot about the law. The legal issues we have to raise now are very serious and the arguments are strong.

We’ll file cases very soon, but we have a lot of work ahead of us. This time around, we all must be prepared with not only the legal work, but the political work. We need to be unified in everything we do.

I’m ready to go to battle and hope you’ll join with us – me, the legal team and my defense committee. We can and will win this time.

Thank you.


In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,

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

"Sarkozy Should Retire, says France" -- Mark Weisbrot


Once again, most of the media thinks the French are being unrealistic, and should just get with the programme like everyone else. The argument is that life expectancy is increasing, so we all have to work longer. But this is a bit like reporting half of a baseball score (or soccer, if you prefer). On the other side is the fact that productivity and GDP also increase over time, and so it is indeed possible for the French to choose to spend more years in retirement and pay for it.

France's retirement age was last set in 1983. Since then, GDP per person has increased by 45%. The increase in life expectancy is very small by comparison. The number of workers per retiree declined from 4.4 in 1983 to 3.5 in 2010, but the growth of national income was vastly more than enough to compensate for the demographic changes, including the change in life expectancy.

The situation is similar going forward: the growth in national income over the next 30 or 40 years will be much more than sufficient to pay for the increases in pension costs due to demographic changes, while still allowing future generations to enjoy considerably higher living standards than people today. It is simply a social choice as to how many years people want to live in retirement and how they want to pay for it.

If the French want to keep the retirement age as is, there are plenty of ways to finance future pension costs without necessarily raising the retirement age. One of them, which has support among the French left (and which Sarkozy claims to support at the international level), would be a tax on financial transactions. Such a "speculation tax" could raise billions of dollars of revenue – as it currently does in the UK – while simultaneously discouraging speculative trading in financial assets and derivatives. The French unions and protesters are demanding that the government considers some of these more progressive alternatives.

It is, therefore, perfectly reasonable to expect that as life expectancy increases, workers should be able to spend more of the lives in retirement. And that is what most French citizens expect. They may not have seen all the arithmetic, but they grasp intuitively that as a country grows richer year after year, they should not have to spend more of their lives working.

An increase in the retirement age is a highly regressive cut that will hit working people hardest. Poorer workers have shorter life expectancies and would lose a higher proportion of their retirement years. Workers who have to retire early because of unemployment or other hardships will take a benefit cut as a result of this change. And, of course, this cut would not matter to the richest people in society, who do not rely on the public pension system for most of their retirement income.

France has a lower level of inequality than most OECD countries and is one of only five – out of 30 OECD countries – that saw inequality decrease (pdf) from the mid 1980s to the mid 2000s. It also had the largest decrease in inequality in the group, although all of it was from the mid 80s to the mid 90s.

France has, until now, resisted at least some of the changes that have rolled the clock back for working people and, especially, low-income citizens in the high-income countries. The European authorities (including the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund) are currently accelerating these regressive changes in the weaker Eurozone economies (such as Greece, Spain and Ireland). All of these institutions and many politicians are trying to use the current economic problems of Europe as a pretext to enact rightwing reforms.

Polls show more than 70% support for France's strikers, despite the inconvenience of fuel shortages and other disruptions. The French are already sick of their rightist government, and that is also part of what is generating the protests. Despite the recent electoral weakness of the Socialist party, France has a stronger left than many other countries do, and one that has the ability and willingness to organise mass protest, work stoppages and educational campaigns.

The French are, in effect, fighting for the future of Europe – and it is a good example for others. We can only hope that, here in the United States, we will be able to beat back any proposed cuts to our much less generous social security system, with attacks on benefits looming on the horizon.

"Reminder: Vigil for Gaza, End the Israeli Occupation of Palestine"

Please forward to your list....

Saturday, Oct. 23

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


Amin Odeh

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

Stop FBI Raids of Peace Activists (Seattle) at Obama/Murray Rally in UW

Well, we were there for the 10-15,000 people who lined up to get into Hec-Ed Pavilion for the Obamafest. Many thousands saw our banners one of which was on an overpass under which many of the crowd passed (see left*), while the other was visible closer to the entrance of Hec-Ed. We gave out about 1500 leaflets about the FBI raids.

Though one news outlet had 4 pictures of the LaRouche group with their Obama/Hitler picture, not one that I could find had a picture of our banners. Wonder why they only want to show wing-nut opposition! One exception was the folks with the request for Obama to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. That got some prominent news coverage.

Raging Grannies were there.

Please support the folks who were involved in the raids. The local committee can be reached at

*Apologies for the pics -- from an iphone rather than camera.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

France Erupts, Sarkozy Under Siege -- Philippe Marliere

When he entered the Elysée palace in 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy dreamed of a glorious destiny. Enthusiastic commentators predicted that his casual populism would revamp the Bonapartist right, and that his Gallic brand of neoliberal policies would sell the “American dream” to a mistrustful population. Things have not gone according to plan. Sarkozy wanted to be the French JFK; today he looks more like Louis XVI awaiting trial in 1793. He may escape the guillotine, but his presidency is now under siege.

The French are deeply unhappy with the way they have been governed, but their main grievance is about pension reform, which is seen as a cynical ploy to make ordinary people work more for inferior entitlements, while bailed-out bankers and the rich get tax rebates and continue to enjoy the high life. Over the past month, six national demonstrations have gathered together an estimated average of 3.5 million per action day. The latest, on Tuesday, was again a big success.

The movement is popular: 69% of the nation back the strikes and demonstrations; 73% want the government to withdraw the reform. And high school pupils have now joined the fray. Over 1,000 high schools are on strike as the youngsters take to the streets to protest against mass unemployment and the raising of the retirement age. The government has patronisingly labelled them as “manipulated kids”, but these comments have backfired and served only to galvanise the young, who have hardened their resistance and taken further interest in the reform. When interviewed by the media, pupils come across as articulate and knowledgable. Parents worry about their children's future, so they will not stop them from striking.

In France, strikes and demonstrations are seen as a civilised and effective way to enact one's citizenship. Students are expected to join marches from an early age, receiving by the same token a “political education”. France's youth have always scared governments because of their radical potential. Student demonstrations of late have been invariably popular because people know that the young have been badly hit by unemployment over the past 30 years.

University students are preparing to strike as well. Sarkozy, like Louis XVI in 1789, does not seem to have grasped how volatile the situation has become. He should know better. Since May 1968, all governments have been forced on the ropes every time youngsters have entered a social movement. This time it could prove crucial in helping to reach a tipping point; a stage in the conflict where the balance of power switches from the government toward those opposing the pension reform.

Last week, Sarkozy had to send in riot police to reopen fuel depots blocked by strikes in several places. Yet several hundred filling stations had to shut because they had run out of supplies. Lorry and train drivers are also starting strike actions.

How can the current situation be interpreted? Undoubtedly, the rebellion seems durable and runs deeper than the question of pensions. The reform has triggered a web of collective actions that are now spreading fast. Discontent is fuelled by low incomes and unemployment, but also by the impact of the crisis on people's daily life, the arrogance of the Sarkozy presidency, corruption cases and police brutality.

There is a sense of moral outrage at the imposition of a neoliberal medicine to cure an illness caused by the same neoliberal policies. The French are not hostile to reforms: they just demand those that redistribute wealth allocate resources to those who need it the most. Any comparison with May '68, however, may be hasty. Then, France was experiencing a period of economic prosperity. Today, events occur in the context of a deep economic depression. This is why the political situation is potentially explosive. Radicalised workers and youngsters are forcing the unions to up their game. The normally toothless Socialist party has pledged to return the retirement age to 60, should it come back to power in 2012.

One can envisage two possible scenarios. Opposition to the reform hardens, in which case Sarkozy may have to water it down or even withdraw it. This would mark the first major popular victory in Europe against the post-2008 neoliberal order. Alternatively, Sarkozy stays put and imposes a deeply unpopular reform, in which case the political price to pay for the incumbent president would be very high, should he decide to run again in 2012.

Philippe Marlière is professor of French and European politics at University College, London (UK). He can be reached at

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Justice for Oscar Grant! Jail for Killer Cops! Longshoremen Will Shut Down All Bay Area Ports!

(via Leonard Peltier's site)


Emotions ran high when longshoremen at their July membership meeting were addressed by Cephus Johnson, the uncle of Oscar Grant, the young black man who was killed by a cop at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland on New Year’s Day 2009. Recounting the sidewalk mural in the front of the hiring hall near Fisherman’s Wharf that depicts two strikers lying face down with the inscription: “Two ILA (longshoremen) Shot in the Back, Police Murder”, he appealed to the union to support justice for his slain nephew. He said, “That mural shook me because that’s exactly what happened to Oscar”.

It got even hotter in the union hall when Jack Bryson took the mike. He is the father of two of Oscar Grant’s friends terrorized by police at the train station as they sat handcuffed and helpless watching their friend die and hearing him moan. Bryson reported that police were calling for a rally the following Monday in the lily-white suburb of Walnut Creek to demanding that Johannes Mehserle the convicted killer cop go free. He asked the union members to join Oscar Grant supporters to protest the cop rally and they did. Outnumbering the 100 or so pro-Mehserle demonstrators by 3 to 1.

The New Year’s Day horror scene was videotaped by other young train passengers and broadcast on YouTube and TV news across the country. Grant, the father of a four year old girl worked as a butcher’s apprentice at Farmer Joe’s supermarket nearby on Fruitvale Avenue. The litany of police killings of innocent young black and Latino men has evoked a public outcry in California. Yet, when it comes to killer cops, especially around election time, with both the Democratic and Republican parties espousing law and order, the mainstream media either expunges or whitewashes the issue.

Angered by the pro-police rallies and news coverage calling for killer cop Mehserle’s freedom, Local 10 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union has called for a labor and community rally October 23rd in Oakland to demand justice for Oscar Grant and the jailing of killer cops. Bay Area ports will shut down that day to stand with the black community and others against the scourge of police brutality.

Anthony Leviege, a longshore union rally organizer, said “Many unions, including the San Francisco and Alameda Labor Councils, have endorsed and are mobilizing for the rally. They see the need in the current economic crisis to build unity with the community to defend jobs, public education, health care and housing for all. And unions defending black and brown youth against police brutality is fundamental to that unity

In this race-caste society there’s nothing more controversial than a white cop convicted of killing a young black man like Oscar Grant… or of a black man like Mumia Abu-Jamal, framed by a corrupt and racist judicial system, accused of killing a white police officer when the opposite was the case. Jamal was nearly murdered by the police. His “crime” was that he didn’t die on the spot, as Oscar Grant did. Mumia, the Frederick Douglass of our time, exposes the hypocrisy of democracy in America while fighting for his life on death row in Pennsylvania. His possibly final hearing is set for November 9th. Killer cops belong in jail, their victims (those who survive like Mumia) should go free. But that’s not how justice in capitalist America works. The racist heritage of slavery is still with us.

Despite the election of its first black president, the United States has still not moved beyond the Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision, “the negro has no rights which the white man was bound to respect”. Just how deeply racism is embedded in the fabric of American society can be seen in President Obama’s “teachable moment” in the case of Harvard professor Henry Gates (arrested by police for “breaking into” his own home!). The president, a friend of Professor Gates, upon hearing of the bizarre arrest called it a stupidity”. When police loudly objected, Obama quickly and apologetically retracted his characterization over a photo op with the cop, the professor and him over a friendly beer.

Civil rights activists who were targets of racist attacks used to joke that the KKK wore white at night and blue in the daytime. Killer cop Mehserle was convicted of “involuntary manslaughter”, though the videotapes show him shooting Grant as he lay passively face down about to be handcuffed. The media universally has tainted outraged protesters, blaming them for rioting while favoring Mehserle whose sentencing hearing is set for November 5. During a recent Giants’ baseball game in San Francisco Mehersle’s father was sympathetically interviewed on TV. But where is the justice for Oscar Grant’s family and his now 5 year old daughter?


The police murder of two strikers provoked the 1934 San Francisco General Strike. Seven maritime workers in all were killed by police in West Coast ports during strike for the union hiring hall. Every July 5, Bloody Thursday, all ports on the West Coast are shut down to honor the labor martyrs. It’s a living legacy that burns deep in the hearts of longshore and other maritime workers.

Some have asked, what’s the connection between unions and the killing of a young black man? Plenty, according to Richard Washington, an Oakland longshoreman. He recalled the history of the longshore union and its struggle against the favoritism and racism of the “shape-up” hiring system that preceded the union hiring hall. At start of the 1934 S.F. Maritime Strike, Harry Bridges, head of the militant Strike Committee, he said, appealed to the black community. Strikers implored blacks to support the strike and vowed to share work on the waterfront after their victory in the midst of the Great Depression when jobs were scarce, not unlike today. Blacks were integrated on the docks, a shining example being set by the San Francisco longshore local, and the union has been fighting against racist attacks and for working class unity since then.

Demand an End to FBI Raids on Peace Activists -- Thurday, Oct. 21, UW



Stop FBI Raids on Peace Activists


Tell President Obama and Attorney General Holder to:

STOP THE REPRESSION against anti-war and international solidarity activists
RETURN ALL CONFISCATED MATERIALS, computer, cell phones, and papers

TAKE ACTION – Call with the three demands
President Obama, 202-456-1111 and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, 202-353-1555


He will be speaking at the University of Washington on Thursday morning. Join us to protest the FBI raids and hand out flyers to people in line. 10 am - 12 noon, Hec Edmundson Pavilion, Montlake Blvd N.E at N.E. Pacific Place (3 blocks north of Montlake Bridge). We will meet in the plaza in front of the Pavilion. Look for our banner: Obama: Stop FBI Raids Against Peace Activists.


Seattle United Against FBI Repression

(an ad hoc committee comprising many activists and organizations)

For information on local actions, email or call 206-499-1220.


On September 24, the FBI raided the homes of seven well-known antiwar and human rights activists in Chicago and Minneapolis.

Also raided were the offices of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul based Anti-War Committee.

The FBI took computer hard drives, cell phones, documents, newspapers and children’s artwork. They took 28 boxes out of one Chicago home, including a framed photo of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. shaking hands with Malcolm X. The FBI subpoenaed 14 activists in Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan to testify at a grand jury. According to the FBI, the goal of the raids was to show material support for terrorism charges. This is an outrageous excuse for stifling dissent in America!

The activists targeted by the FBI are involved with many groups, including trade unions, the Twin Cities Antiwar Committee, the Students for a Democratic Society, the Palestine Solidarity Committee, the Colombia Action Network, and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. The U.S. government is trying to put peace and solidarity activists in jail!

These peace and solidarity activists have done nothing wrong. They are refusing to cooperate with this witch hunt, and they may face jail time for their stand. Their freedom is at stake, along with our freedom to speak our minds and to organize.

Scenes from Jazza Festival -- Music for Gaza

Jazza Festival -- Music for Palestine

"Nobel's Pro-Military Agenda and the Future World Order"

The emerging connections between NATO and America’s East Asian allies are starting to reveal the New Strategic Concept: the coming naval encirclement of China and Russia. With ground troops on bases in Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan, the circle is closing. The world is plunging into the Second Cold War.

The fact that an open warmonger heads the Nobel Peace Committee has completely discredited what was once the world’s most prestigious Peace Prize. That honor is now just another weapon in the arsenal of the Great Powers mobilizing to reassert their authority over their former colonial domain. The goal of the West is not democracy and human rights; what its leaders really desire is domination and warfare. The intentions are clear. Thus we must each prepare, in our different ways, for the coming bloodshed.

In its most recent selections of peace laureates Barack Obama and Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee has been pushing the strategic agenda of its chairman since 2009. Outside of European policy circles, Thorbjoern Jagland has no celebrity status, yet he is among the most powerful figures influencing the future global order.

The veteran Norwegian Labour Party politician has taken a stance similar to that of Britain’s Tony Blair in support of European Union integration and a strong alliance with Washington to ensure Western leadership in international affairs. He has served as Norway’s prime minister, foreign minister, speaker of the parliament known as the Storting, and current chairman of the Council of Europe, a body that backed the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization during the Cold War.

His political career has been defined by his close relationship with NATO. He sat on the Norwegian government’s standing committee on defense and was a key player in NATO parliamentary conferences.

On his home turf, Labour is the party of choice for the Norwegian officer corps. Despite its relatively small size, Norway is a significant military player due to its strategic location near the former Soviet Arctic Fleet base at Murmansk on the Kola Peninsula. Throughout the Cold War, the Norwegians—every male citizen is a soldier and has a rifle—were the front line on the Russian border.

A Military Mentality

That vanguard role continues today, with Norwegian troops on the ground in Afghanistan, its naval vessels curbing piracy off Somalia, Pentagon anti-ballistic missile systems and anti-satellite technology waging the struggle for outer space, and the world’s most advanced anti-submarine technology. Norway has the highest per-capita troop deployment among NATO’s 28-member states.

The challenge for the West has changed since the collapse of the Soviet Union, with a new potential enemy taking shape in an economic coalition known as the BRICs—Brazil, Russia, India and, most feared of all, China. Jagland, as a public voice for NATO strategists, is calling on an enlarged Western alliance to stand down the resurgence of military powers China and Russia and disrupt their ever-closer relationships with Brazil and India.

At a NATO-sponsored conference of European parliamentarians last year, Jagland spoke tough words: “When we are not able to stop tyranny, war starts. This is why NATO is indispensable. NATO is the only multilateral military organization rooted in international law. It is an organization that the U.N. can use when necessary—to stop tyranny, like we did in the Balkans.” His reference was to the NATO bombing campaign, invasion and occupation of the now-terminated Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia in the late 1990s.

To summarize his message: If, anywhere in the world, tyrants cannot be overthrown by peaceful means, war is inevitable—and NATO will wage that war.

These are chilling words coming from the chairman of the Nobel Peace Committee. Jagland later said on announcing the peace prize for Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo: “We have to speak when others cannot speak. As China is rising, we should have the right to criticize. We want to advance those forces that want China to become more democratic.”

A term like “advance those forces” is eerily similar to the euphemisms in Japanese textbooks that describe “advances” into foreign territory on continental Asia. It reflects a militaristic mindset.

The New Global Order

At the 2009 NATO conference, Jagland dropped a hint of what was to come: “We must build alliances and adapt to new realities. [We must] understand and debate how democratic rights can be upheld in the 21st century. How freedom can be assured. What kind of alliances we need to that end. And we need a New Strategic Concept.”

Among his political foes in Norway, Jagland is called “our own George Bush Jr.” It’s good joke, but not when considering the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, or while Jagland, with this latest Nobel Peace prize, has just precipitated a damaging diplomatic crisis between the West and China. The controversy will only worsen when the Nobel medallions are given out in December.

The Nobel scandal has already scuttled the Norwegian oil firm Statoil’s plans to sell Beijing the Peregrino oil field offshore of Brazil—the first real blow against the BRIC coalition. Politicians and businessmen who are eager about emerging international trade opportunities are simply naive about geopolitics. Once again, the civilians have been outflanked by the military.

"The Second Victims of the Holocaust" -- 5 min. video by Sami Moukaddem
"I'm in the process of making a feature length film about Palestine, if you have original footage or highg quality photos to contribute, or statistics (graphic or otherwise), or sources of the above, please contact me through my website. Also, you can download my entire album 'The facts of life for the Palestinian' for free from my website www."
ALSO: A cautionary blog article from Richard Silverstein at Tikkum Olam: "Yediot Poll Notes Threat of Fascism in Israel"

"No Guarantees For New Zealand Gaza Crew’s Safety"
The Government has not sought assurances for the safety of six New Zealanders onboard a Gaza aid convoy but says the group is obviously comfortable with the risks.

The Kia Ora Gaza crew set sail from Syria yesterday onboard the 400-strong Viva Palestina flotilla, which says it hopes to thwart an Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip by delivering its cargo overland across the Egyptian border.

However the crew’s blog indicates their route to the Egyptian port of Al-Arish will pass through waters where Israeli special forces boarded and killed nine members of a previous aid convoy, the Mavi Marmara, in May this year.

A source in the Israeli Defence Force told the Jerusalem Post Sunday they were “prepared” for the flotilla, although they did not expect it to try to reach Gaza directly.

But Prime Minister John Key said Monday he had not been briefed on their situation and would not say whether he was concerned for their safety.

Key said he was sure the crew had considered the risks.

“They obviously feel comfortable with the decision that they’re making and that’s why they’ve personally made that decision.

“If they weren’t I would assume they wouldn’t take that voyage.”

He deferred all other questions to Foreign Minister Murray McCully.

A spokesperson for McCully said he had been kept fully briefed on Kia Ora Gaza’s movements and had warned the crew the situation in the Middle East was “difficult” as New Zealand had no embassies in Israel or the Palestinian territories.

“What they are planning has potential risks associated with it, and our ability to help them will be limited.”

“We haven’t been in direct contact with the Israelis or the Egyptian authorities over Kia Ora Gaza but given that Kia Ora Gaza has made their plans publicly known, no doubt both Israel and Egypt will be aware of them.”

Seattle Groups Uphold Palestinian Call for Cultural Boycott of Israel

"Sixteen people from several local peace groups, including Voices of Palestine, Veterans for Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace, Democracy Insurgent, and the Palestine Solidarity Committee, turned out to help educate folks about Palestinian civil society's boycott campaigns and to nonviolently protest a performance by an Israeli government sponsored dance troupe [Beta Dance Troupe]." -- Michelle Kinnucan

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

Monday, October 18, 2010

"The Mistake" -- Steve Feldman

What happened that caused hundreds of thousands of Palestinian people to become refugees from their homes and villages? Some people say that the Palestinians' problems derived from a bad strategic decision, a mistake, made by Arab countries in 1948 not to accept Israel. That wasn't the mistake that caused Palestinians to become refugees. Arab countries didn't declare war on Israel until well after the Jewish army, the Haganah, had already expelled hundreds of thousands of Christian and Muslim Palestinian men, women and children from their homes and lives, at least according to Israeli historians.

Based on the Jewish morals taught at my Hebrew school, the underlying mistake goes back further, back to the idea that an exclusive Jewish State could be created in a land where Christian and Muslim families were already living. Jewish Palestinians had been living in Palestine for centuries, peacefully alongside Christian and Muslims Palestinians. European Jews, suffering horrible discrimination, felt the need to create a state for themselves. That's understandable. But they chose to do so in a land that was already populated with other people. That was the problem. European Jews came to Palestine, bringing with them prejudice against the local population. These European Jews had high, socialist ideals, but it was socialism only for Jews, and the unions they set up were exclusively for Jewish people.

On its surface, the ideas of a Jewish state, of Jewish labor, of self-determination for Jews all sound great, and that's why it seemed so reasonable I first heard these ideas in Hebrew school. But are these ideas more reasonable than "separate but equal" in the American South or more reasonable than the righteousness of self-determination for Afrikaners? Indeed, claiming that the Palestinians' problems came from not accepting Israel doesn't seem all that different from Afrikaners claiming Blacks' problems under Apartheid came from not accepting the right of a White Afrikaner state to exist.

This isn't rocket science or naïveté. You can't create a state for Jews in a land where non-Jewish families were already living, not within the moral constraints of the foundational principles of our beliefs (whatever your religion is). When you figure that we are talking about a Jewish state created at the expense of good Christian and Muslim families who had been living largely in peace with their Jewish neighbors for centuries, you realize that creating such a state goes against the fabric of our moral character. The mistake, the great mistake, was thinking that Jews should be treated differently than Christians or Muslims, a mistake that violated, and continues to violate, the very heart of the Torah. The festering sore will heal when and only when we end the discrimination.

Not To Be Outdone by Air Strikes in Gaza, Settlers Dump Raw Sewage on Beit Ommar Farmland

EXCERPT BELOW -- go to link above to see video

Thousands of liters of raw sewage from the illegal Gush Etzion settlement flooded over 50 dunams of Palestinian farmland in the village of Beit Ommar last night. The sewage was pumped from a storage unit inside the settlement onto the land of the Sabarna family, flooding trees and submerging a bulldozer. As of 10 AM the water is still flooding.

Today marks the fourth time this year that the settlement has dumped waste water onto the Sabarna’s land. The settlement emptied sewage onto their land in March, April and June, destroying the crops and costing the farmers thousands of shekels in lost income.

Shooting in "buffer zone," air strikes across Gaza -- Electronic Intifada Report
Israeli snipers shot a 17-year-old Palestinian boy on Wednesday, 13 October, as he collected aggregate materials near the so-called buffer zone in the north of the occupied Gaza Strip, according to Bethlehem-based Ma'an News Agency ("Teenager injured by Israeli fire in northern Gaza," 14 October 2010). A medical services spokesperson told Ma'an that this was the seventeenth Palestinian industrial worker to have been shot by Israeli live fire since the summer.

The 300-meter-wide buffer zone is "a military no-go area that extends along the entire northern and eastern perimeter of the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, inside Palestinian territory, as well as at sea," according to the Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) in a recent report ("The Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip (October 2010 Update)," 10 October 2010). PCHR's report states that "[t]he precise areas designated by Israel as 'buffer zones' are unknown; changing Israeli policy is typically enforced with live fire," as Israeli forces have often shot at Palestinians well outside this zone.

In the same report, PCHR documented 47 deaths and 114 injuries from January to September 2010. Gaza's industrial workers have turned to collecting raw materials and rubble around the boundary areas for construction and repair projects, since new materials are still not being imported as a result of the three-year-long Israeli blockade.

This latest shooting comes on the heels of a similar attack also in northern Gaza against Ziad Tamboura, a 27-year-old Palestinian worker who was shot in the leg and foot by Israeli snipers on 7 October in Beit Lahiya near the buffer zone.

Later that same day, the Israeli military carried out several air strikes across the Gaza Strip, injuring a total of eight Palestinians, according to medical sources as reported by Ma'an News ("Gaza leaders say airstrikes aimed at thwarting talks," 8 October 2010).

"Five Gaza residents were injured when Israeli warplanes fired on multiple sites in the central Gaza Strip. Sources in Gaza said two militant training grounds were targeted, as well as Hamas government security buildings," Ma'an reported.

A subsequent air strike targeted a car carrying Ahmad al-Ashkar, an activist with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine's armed wing ("3 hurt in second IAF strike on Gaza ...," Haaretz, 7 October 2010). Three Palestinians were wounded and transferred to a nearby hospital for treatment. The Israeli military also struck farmland in eastern Gaza in two additional air strikes.

In the same 8 October report, Gaza-based political analyst Ibrahim Abrash told Ma'an News Agency that "Israel's surge in military activity had three goals: to rid the pressures placed on [US-brokered direct] talks and the settlement freeze, thwart ongoing attempts to secure a unity deal between Fatah and Hamas, and raise the importance of Israel's security issues during negotiations ... [Israel seeks to] drag Palestinian resistance factions into a response to justify the withdrawal from talks."

Following the Israeli shooting and air strikes last week, the An-Nasser Salah Ad-Din Brigades, the armed faction of the Popular Resistance Committees, claimed responsibility for launching a homemade mortar shell at a group of Israeli soldiers who invaded the northern Gaza Strip at Beit Lahiya on Saturday, 9 October.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Stone in My Hand -- Everlast

Monday 10/18: Protest Israeli Dance Troupe at Benaroya Hall in Seattle

What: Protest for Justice & Peace in Palestine
When: 6 PM, Monday, October18, 2010
Where: Benaroya Hall, 3rd & University in downtown Seattle

Please join members of Greater Seattle Veterans for Peace and Voices of Palestine at Benaroya Hall on October 18 from 6 PM until 7:15 PM as we protest the violation of the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and the Palestinian campaign for "broad boycotts ... against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era." That evening Benaroya Hall will host the Israeli government-sponsored Beta Dance Troupe. The group's visit to Seattle is co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and the Consulate General of Israel to the Pacific Northwest. The Beta Dance Troupe hails from Haifa, which was ethnically cleansed in 1948. As noted at "Out of the 61,000 Palestinian Arabs who used to call Haifa home, only 3,566 Palestinians were allowed to stay. The remaining population were in constant fear on their lives and properties ..." The Beta Dance Troupe's appearance in Seattle is consistent with the "Brand Israel" campaign, a cynical attempt to rehabilitate Israel's public image in the aftermath of it's repeated high-profile war crimes and other ongoing human rights violations. We will protest in honor of the Palestinian boycott campaigns and to do our part to thwart the re-packaging of apartheid Israel.