Monday, May 30, 2011

Below is the latest communique from the Spirit of Rachel Corrie, stranded in Egyptian territorial waters since May 16th.

Washington and Tel Aviv have instructed the Cairo military government to maintain the blockade and prevent the humanitarian cargo of the Spirit of Rachel Corrie to proceed through the Rafah land crossing.

Egypt has not allowed the Spirit of Rachel Corrie to berth and unload its cargo in the Port of Al-Arish. The Spirit of Rachel Corrie has become a "floating Prison"

Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Al Arabi had made a firm commitment in this regard.

Who is calling the shots in Cairo? Israel and Egypt collaborate in policing the Gaza border in the context of a bilateral agreement. According to confirmed sources, Military Intelligence, no doubt in consultation with Tel Aviv and Washington, has prevented the implementation of the decision by Egypt's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Military Intelligence is attached to the Ministry of Defense headed by Mohamed Hussein Tantawi Soliman who is the commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces and de facto head of State.

In turn, Hussein Tantawi is a permanent liaison with his counterpart in Tel Aviv, Ehud Barak, as well as with Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Washington.

The Spirit of Rachel Corrie is the Test case.



Michel Chossudovsky, May 30, 2011
ALSO FIND THE BELOW MESSAGE on another link -- Linda:
TEXT Message May 28 approx 6am from Jenny on board of the vessel “Spirit of Rachel Corrie” to Gaza:

“Morale good on board. Now 17 people as relief crew arrived. Enough food for a few days but water running out. The 12 still absolutely refuse to allow cargo through Israel and insisting it go through Rafah as originally agreed”

"Are Palestinian Children Less Worthy?" -- Joseph Massad


What is it about Jewish and Arab children that privileges the first and spurns the second in the speeches of President Barack Obama, let alone in the Western media more generally? Are Jewish children smarter, prettier, whiter? Are they deserving of sympathy and solidarity, denied to Arab children, because they are innocent and unsullied by the guilt of their parents, themselves often referred to as "the children of Israel"? Or, is it that Arab children are dangerous, threatening, guilty, even dark and ugly, a situation that can only lead to Arabopaedophobia - the Western fear of Arab children?

Innocence and childhood are common themes in Western political discourse, official and unofficial. While it is a truism to state that since the end of European colonialism the US and Europe have been, at the official and unofficial levels, friendly to and supportive of the Zionist colonial project and hostile to Palestinians and Arabs in their resistance to Zionism, the expectation would be that a West that insists rhetorically on the "universalism" of its values would show at least a rhetorical commitment to the equality of Arab and Jewish children as victims of the violence visited on the region by Zionist colonialism and the resistance to it. Yet, the only Western sympathy manifest is to Jewish children as symbols of Zionist and Israeli innocence. This Western sympathy is deployed primarily to denounce Arab guilt, including the guilt of Arab children.

Indeed, the only time Arab children received any sympathy at all in the West was a few years ago when Israeli and US propaganda outlets, official and unofficial alike, mounted a major propaganda campaign to save these children from their barbaric Arab and Palestinian parents, who allegedly trained them to commit violent acts, or who unlovingly placed them in the middle of danger, sacrificing them for their violent political goals. It was not Israel who was to blame for killing Palestinian children, but the children's own uncaring and cruel parents who placed them in the path of Israeli Jewish bullets, which left Israeli Jews no choice but to kill them. This of course is an old Israeli casuistry used to justify Israel's carnage of Palestinians. Golda Meir had famously articulated the workings of Israel's Jewish conscience thus: "We can forgive you for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you for making us kill yours."

Voices of Palestine at Folklife!

Voices of Palestine and allies at the Seattle Folklife Festival on Saturday May 28 educating about the ongoing Nakba and the America's role in it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

"Legendary Poet And Musician Gil Scott-Heron Passes Away" -- Farewell

Celebrated poet, musician and author Gil Scott-Heron passed away today at the age of 62 as a result of yet unknown causes. Scott-Heron’s death was reportedly confirmed by the legendary spoken word artist’s publisher Jamie Byng via Twitter with the tweet reading, “Just heard the very sad news that my dear friend and one of the most inspiring people I've ever met, the great Gil Scott-Heron, died today.”

Often regarded as one of the leaders and chief influences in the precursory stages of hip hop, Gil Scott-Heron helped to define a turbulent time for African-Americans and black militarism in the 1970s via his well-known works such as Pieces Of A Man and Winter In America. His politically charged poem and song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” is perhaps Scott-Heron’s most notable work as the 1971 single from Pieces Of A Man has been sampled by hip hop artists and often quoted by many.

As news of Scott-Heron’s passing rippled through cyberspace, rap artists who no doubt saw the poet as a hero offered touching words in his memory. Talib Kweli mentioned several references to his connection to Scott-Heron and offered a loving tribute in a series of tweets from his Twitter account. “Wow. The rest of my night I'm gonna listen to Gil Scot Heron. We love you brother. We will miss you. RIP.” Talib went on to add, “I met Gil Scot Heron at SOBs in 1993, I went to see him perform. He completely influenced me as an artist.” A quick glance at Kweli’s account will reveal other loving anecdotes from the rapper.

Slaughterhouse rapper Joell Ortiz also tweeted his memories of Gil Scott-Heron. “Seen Gil Scott Heron at Joe's Pub when I was a kid. Prince was there,” remarked Ortiz. Producer Just Blaze could barely address the news via his Twitter account. “Terrible news to get while on stage. No one in my family died but gil scot was ... ah forget it. Gonna finish this show,” said the beat maker. Public Enemy front man Chuck D added, “RIP GSH..and we do what we do and how we do because of you.And to those that don't know tip your hat with a hand over your heart & recognize.” Chuck D also revealed via his Twitter account that he was to be featured on an upcoming project with Scott-Heron.

Gil Scott Heron’s 2010 album I’m New Here was released to critical acclaim and signaled a resurgence of art from the poet as his much publicized struggles with drug addiction and legal problems almost overshadowed his legacy. Scott-Heron leaves behind 15 studio albums, 11 compilation albums and 9 live recordings.

R.I.P. to the great Gil Scott-Heron. Your words will live on forever.

Jewish Settlers Severely Beat Elderly Palestinian Shepherd in Nablus

NABLUS, May 26, 2011 (WAFA)- Ghassan Douglas, in charge of settlements file at the Palestinian Authority in the northern part of the West Bank, said Thursday that settlers severely beat an elderly Palestinian Shepherd, 67, in Madama, a village south of Nablus.

Douglas said that Hamad al-Kett was beaten by 12 settlers from the settlement of Yizhar. He was transferred to a hospital in the city of Nablus where they described his condition as critical.

Medical Sources told WAFA that al-Kett was injured deeply in his face and head, hairline fracture in his skull, bruises all over his body and he suffered from bleeding that caused him to lose consciousness.

Acting Chairman of Madama Village Council, Eyhab al-kett said that “Hamad Was herding his sheep in the southern region of the village, when he was attacked by settlers who tried to take the sheep from him. The old man tried to resist them, so they took advantage of the fact that he was alone and old and brutally assaulted him.”

"Gaza Fishermen Ask for International Protection in Gaza Waters" -- Palestine Info Cntr

GAZA, (PIC)-- Hundreds of fishermen in the besieged Gaza Strip have urged the international community to provide them with international protection against the Israeli maritime blockade that denied them their main source of sustenance.

The call of the fishermen came as they held a sit-in near the fishermen wharf in Gaza city urging the international community to stop Israeli piracy and the indiscriminate shooting at them by the Israeli navy vessels.

They also urged the international community to help them expand the "permissible" area for fishing, saying the present three kilometer limit wasn’t enough to catch fish.

"Today, we remember our comrades who were killed in cold blood with Israeli bullets while searching for their families' sustenance in the sea…. today, we remember the hundreds of fishermen who were arrested by the IOF troops and lost their fishing boats… we have all the right to fishing inside our waters without limitation," said Mohammed Bakr, one of the fishermen, as he spoke before the sit-inners.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"A Year of Steadfastness in Israeli Prison" Ameer Makhoul in Electronic Intifada

A year of imprisonment has passed. To spend one year in prison is a high price to pay for Israel’s unjust rule. My share has been more modest compared to other prisoners who are about to enter their fourth decade in Israeli prisons.

It’s true, one should not differentiate between the sentences the same way we should not differentiate between the fighters for freedom — the sentence of the judges of oppression is always one of cruelty, terror and abuse. What is most important, however, is that it is always temporary.

Things in Palestine occur according to the following rule: the harsher the escalation of state-sponsored terrorism, oppression, political persecution and deportation policies, the stronger is our steadfastness, challenge, will to remain, preservation of our identity and commitment to our cause and dispossessed rights.

They wish to fragment our cause according to geography and the color of identity cards, but our senses are never suppressed and our struggle for liberation is one in all of its components. While they continue to reproduce oppression, we reproduce freedom and break out of their vicious circle, transforming their actions into reactions to ours.

Our rights in Palestine, whether we are in our homeland or in exile, are one: return; self-determination; ending the occupation; prisoners’ release; recovery of confiscated land; dismantling settlements and the apartheid wall; protection of Jerusalem, the Naqab, the Galilee and the coast from Judaization and eviction projects; and breaking the Israeli blockade on Gaza — all these causes form part of our single cause.

But the struggle for our cause is not waged only by us Palestinians. It is complemented by the rebellions in the Arab world and the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, isolating Israel on both the Arab and international levels. These actions are nothing but an extension of the Palestinian anti-normalization movement inside Israel and of our struggle to strip the racist colonizing regime of its legitimacy.

Speaking on behalf of the prisoners’ movement, I wish to allude to the dangers of the so-called security coordination between Israel and any Palestinian or Arab party. The victims of such coordination are, first and foremost, the fighters and prisoners for the freedom of Palestine and the Arab peoples. We call on the Arab peoples to stop the complicity of some Arab regimes with Israel on the so-called security coordination level by launching an Arab and Palestinian campaign for this cause.

To spend one year in prison is a high price to pay for Israel’s unjust rule. However, a free will has made this year an act of steadfastness, challenge and struggle for our people.

I hereby send a message of appreciation and love to all the people who call for my release, as well as to the popular committee for my defense and the Popular Committee for the Defense of Political Freedoms, which launched a campaign for my release from the very moment I was arrested.

From inside the prison cells I also wish to greet my loving and supportive family, and to all those who are in solidarity with our cause, here and abroad, as individuals, and the organizations they represent. They are in constant contact with me, and are partners in our struggle for liberation and freedom. What we seek, we the political prisoners, is freedom and not to accumulate more years of imprisonment. We were born free, and protecting our freedom is our responsibility.

On 15 May we commemorated the 63rd anniversary of the ongoing PalestinianNakba. Our strength continues to stem from the justice of our cause and rights, which can be fulfilled only through struggle. To struggle for liberation, as well as to rebuild ourselves as people and institutions, is our right and obligation. As for the price that is paid. it will always be painful, whether it is individual or collective. Regardless of how painful it is, we will never deviate from the road to liberation and freedom of our people and land.

Their rule, not matter how long, is temporary, but freedom is our destiny.

"Lawsuit Filed to Seek Information on US Role in Deadly Flotilla Attack"

The Center for Constitutional Rights launched a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit today seeking documents regarding the US government’s knowledge and role in the deadly Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla this time last year.

Amongst the nine civilians killed in the raid in international waters was 18-year-old Furkan Dogan, a US citizen, “who was shot several times as he was filming the 4:00am raid, and then shot in the face at point blank range as he lay there wounded,” according to the Center for Constitional Rights’s press release. “Fifteen other U.S. citizens participated in the flotilla, including five who traveled on a U.S. registered boat; many were beaten and injured,” CCR adds in its press statement.

The statement adds:

The federal lawsuit, Center for Constitutional Rights v. Department of Defense, et al was filed in the Southern District of New York against the Defense Department as well as numerous other federal departments, including Justice and State, and various components of the U.S. military. The initial FOIA requests were filed nearly 11 months ago: only two agencies responded, and their responses were wholly inadequate, according to the suit.

The Israeli commandos also seized the property of US citizens aboard the ships, one of which was registered in the US. CCR stated that:

The Center further seeks any documents that could show what steps the Department of State, Department of Justice and other agencies have taken to ensure that Furkan’s death be properly and independently investigated. The United Nations Fact-Finding Mission concluded that the refusal of Israel to return this personal property is, “a deliberate attempt by the Israeli authorities to suppress or destroy evidence and other information related to the events of 31 May.”

The complaint and description of the case can be read on the Center for Constitional Rights’ website.

Furkan Doğan’s father, Dr. Ahmet Doğan, and his attorneys said in an interview with The Electronic Intifada earlier this year that they were “considering all their options,” including filing a civil case against the Israeli authorities.

The Electronic Intifada reported:

Since the flotilla attack on 31 May 2010, Doğan has received scant information or help from US officials. Out of four letters requesting meetings sent to the US consulate in Istanbul and the US embassy in Ankara, Doğan received one response — a form letter stating his letter had been received …

A letter sent last fall to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remains unanswered. “We’re disappointed with the approach of the US,” Doğan said … “The fact is, the United States does not protect its citizens.”

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"The Arab spring conquers Iberia" -- Pepe Escobar

The new 1968
So this goes way beyond a student revolt. It's a revolt that lays bare a profound ethical crisis convulsing a whole society. And it goes way beyond the economy; this is a movement seriously inquiring over the place of human beings in turbo-capitalist society.

No wonder baby boomers - the parents of Generation Y - cannot but be reminded of the late, great German philosopher Herbert Marcuse. Compared with this breath of fresh air amid the asphyxiating social and economic landscape in Spain and great swathes of Europe, how not be reminded of Marcuse in a conference in Vancouver in 1969, talking about a worldwide student rebellion.

Marcuse then evoked how French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre was asked the same question - why these rebellions everywhere? Sartre said the answer was very simple - no sophisticated reasoning necessary. Young people were rebelling because they were asphyxiated. Marcuse always maintained this was the best explanation for this rebel yell denouncing a structural crisis of capitalism.

Marcuse was an ultra-sharp analyst of the degrading of culture as a form of repression, and the necessity of a critical elite capable of smashing the totalitarian opium of consumer culture (the outraged are also performing this role).

Marcuse identified the French and the American 1968 as a total protest against specific ills, but at the same time a protest against a total system of values, a total system of objectives. Young people didn't want to keep enduring the culture of established society; they refuted not only economic conditions and political institutions but also a rotten, global system of values.
In 1968, they were realists; they were demanding the impossible. Today, one of their signs read, "If you don't let us dream, we won't let you sleep."

Bob Dylan turns 70 this Tuesday. In Bob We Trust; he won't tell us, but deep in his heart and mind he knows where
los indignadosare coming from. If, as he wrote in Absolutely Sweet Marie, to live outside the law you must be honest, los indignados couldn't be more honest themselves, because they refuse to live under this law that is in fact killing them as well as most of us.

That's why it feels so great to be stuck inside of Madrid with the Cairo blues again.

Congressional Zoo Savors Smelly Fish Thrown to Them by Israeli Prime Minister

Courageous Rae Abileah, being attacked by security zombies after she interrupted Netanyahu's speech to Congress shouting OCCUPATION IS INDEFENSIBLE & STOP ISRAELI WAR CRIMES. Here is more on that: The picture came from this CNN story:
which is an interview with Palestinian Nadia Hijab.

Netanyahu's speech inspired me too:

ZIONISTS (to the tune of Rednecks)

So Netanyahu talked to Congress
Like few leaders get to do
Congress clapped for Netanyahu
Like seals in a goddam zoo

They think he’s nobody’s fool
And they love him
Keeps their electoral hopes alive
But the price Palestinians are paying,
Puts the lie to Bibi’s racist jive.

They shoot Palestinians there
When they’re walkin’ alone or in a big crowd
Palestinians aren’t safe anywhere
And they keep Palestinians down
Zionists keeping Palestinians down.

They’re Zionists, They’re Zionists
Don’t know human rights from a hole in the ground
They’re Zionists, They’re Zionists
Tryin' to keep Palestinians down.

Zionists live all over Palestine,
Except for Gaza, which they like to blockade,
Don't want Palestinians to be there
Tho they've been there since the land was first made

They're Zionists, they're Zionists
Don't know human rights from a hole in the ground
They're Zionists, they're Zionists
Keepin' Palestinians down, tryin' to keep Palestinians down

Hey, Bibi, Arab spring is upon you
Obama can't save your racist regime
You'd be so stupid not to realize
Palestinians gonna bring you some peace

You're Zionist, You're Zionist
Don't know human rights from a whole in the ground
You're Zionist, You're Zionist
Can't keep Palestinians down
Can't keep Palestinians down

ZIONISTS (to the tune of Rednecks)

So Netanyahu talked to Congress
Like few leaders get to do
Congress clapped for Netanyahu
Like seals in a goddam zoo

They think he’s nobody’s fool
And they love him
Keeps their electoral hopes alive
But the price Palestinians are paying,
Puts the lie to Bibi’s racist jive.

They shoot Palestinians there
When they’re walkin’ alone or in a big crowd
Palestinians aren’t safe anywhere
And they keep Palestinians down
Zionists keeping Palestinians down.

They’re Zionists, They’re Zionists
Don’t know human rights from a hole in the ground
They’re Zionists, They’re Zionists
Tryin' to keep Palestinians down.

Zionists live all over Palestine,
Except for Gaza, which they like to blockade,
Don't want Palestinians to be there
Tho they've been there since the land was first made

They're Zionists, they're Zionists
Don't know human rights from a hole in the ground
They're Zionists, they're Zionists
Keepin' Palestinians down, tryin' to keep Palestinians down

Hey, Bibi, Arab spring is upon you
Obama can't save your racist regime
You'd be so stupid not to realize
Palestinians gonna bring you some peace

You're Zionist, You're Zionist
Don't know human rights from a whole in the ground
You're Zionist, You're Zionist
Can't keep Palestinians down
Can't keep Palestinians down

Monday, May 23, 2011

Francis Boyle, Int'l Law Prof.: U.S. Has in Past Invoked Reso. 194, Mandating Right of Return
Nakba Day, or the day of the catastrophe, marks the occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel 63 years ago.

In order to give a legal insight into the status of Palestinian refugees, Press TV interviews Francis Boyle who is a Professor of International Law in Illinois. What follows is a transcript of the interview.

Press TV: Lebanon has this week called for action from the UN regarding the Palestinians shot at its border on Nakba Day. How should the UN be responding to these Israeli attacks on unarmed demonstrators?

Boyle: This clearly violates Israel's obligations under the international law on civil and political rights, the basic human right to life itself as recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. You simply cannot shoot dead unarmed protesters at a border in someone else's sovereign territory. Whether the UN will do anything about it, I cannot say I am terribly optimistic. Israel has been shooting dead Palestinians like dogs in the streets for decades and the United Nations has so far refused to do anything about it that I am aware of.

Press TV: What are the legal statuses of Palestinians trying to return home? I mean if you are from a Lebanese refugee camp and you go to a place that Israel considers its borders, are you Palestinian or are you Lebanese? I mean what is your right under international law?

Boyle: Well, the Palestinian National Council created the Palestinian state on November 15, 1988. So in the Declaration of Independence that I helped the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) with, we set it up so that all Palestinians living anywhere in the world would automatically become citizens of the state of Palestine irrespective of whatever other nationality or residence they might have in such a way so that they would not lose any other nationality or residence that they have.

So technically, that is where it stands now. I would hope that if and when the Palestinians apply for membership in the United Nations and the votes are there for Palestine's admission, this will finally become recognized by the entire world.

Press TV: Israel's greatest fear is this movement for the return of the refugees and their families driven out in 1948. The hope was, as stated by several Israeli leaders, that the old will die and the young will forget. But legally this right of return is the sticking point. Are any legal minds working on the basis of a legal right of return?

Boyle: Yes, Israel accepted the Palestinian right of return in resolution 194 as a condition for its membership in the United Nations and I just wrote a new book on this issue if you are interested you can get it at Amazon. It is called The Palestinian Right of Return under International Law. So nothing could be clear that the Palestinians have this right.

Indeed, when I was legal advisor to the Palestinian delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations under my client, the late great doctor Haider Abdel Shafi, even US Secretary of State James Baker instructed his press spokesperson, Margaret Tutwiler, to publically invoke resolution 194 which she did. To the best of my knowledge, that is the last time the United States government officially invoked and relied upon and asserted the authority of resolution 194. However, yesterday in his speech, President Obama unfortunately continued to delay and postpone the right of return for Palestinians.

"Paul Simon, Don't Break Cultural Boycott Again!"

Dear Paul Simon,

We are members of BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within [Israel].[1] We were dismayed to read that you're planning to Preform in Israel at the end of this year.[2] In 2005, Palestinian civil society initiated a call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) from Israeli institutions, companies and academia, as a response to an over-60-year-old human rights crisis, involving military occupation and the development of a crushing system of apartheid, very similar to that practiced in apartheid South Africa.[3] We are Israeli citizens who have chosen to support the call, and we ask you not to break the cultural boycott; Please don't perform in apartheid Israel, until our government reverses its policies.

Preforming in Israel today is a direct crossing of an anti-apartheid picket line. This line is drawn every time a Palestinian chooses to protest the Israeli occupying power. And every time this line is drawn children, women and men are arrested, injured, maimed and killed. The right to protest has been taken away from Palestinians, and such has been the fate of their lands, homes, freedom of movement, infrastructure, and lives, taken away by the Israeli government with impunity.

You once created the anti-war Songs of America, and understood what it meant to stand in solidarity with the victims of war and occupation of the United States of America. The Palestinian people's situation is no different, as the U.S. funds the Israeli occupation with an annual military budget of over 3 billion dollars.[4]

You have a choice: You can choose to ignore the call of the Palestinian people for their freedom, and conduct business as usual with Israel, enhancing it's image of normality to the international community and to its jaded public.[4] Or you can choose to send a powerful message of non-cooperation and civil disobedience, standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people and demanding a stop to the endless wars and injustice.

Tribal Elder Ramona Bennett on Clemency for Leonard Peltier at Tacoma Rally 5/21/11

It was a war; it IS a war (on the indigenous people).

UPDATED --Malaysia Aid Ship Makes Another Attempt for Gaza -- Reuters

UPDATE, Monday 23 May, at 13.30pm EDT, 20.30pm local time

The Spirit of Rachel Corrie is back in Egyptian territorial waters. The crew and passengers are safe. The Malaysian Embassy in Cairo has advised that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has granted permission to the ship to berth in the port of Al Arish tomorrow May 24th and unload its cargo.

This decision by Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Al Arabi, which remains to be confirmed, is of fundamental importance.

Mr. Al Arabi had indicated almost month ago his resolve to open the border at Rafah and end the Gaza blockade.
KUALA LUMPUR - A Malaysian aid ship that was warned off by Israeli naval forces from the Gaza Strip was attempting another landing Monday after being stranded in Egyptian waters for seven days, activists said.

Matthias Chang, who is heading the mission for the Perdana Global Peace Foundation, told AFP by phone from the MV Finch that since being forced into Egyptian waters last Monday, they were prevented from docking at El-Arish.

"We have pulled our anchor and are now en route to Gaza. We had given the Egyptian authorities an ultimatum to let us dock by 2:00pm (1200 GMT) or we would set sail for Gaza but they did not respond," he said.

"We are now on the way to Gaza, and will face whatever the consequences," he said.

"We are almost out of food and water and have been stuck on this ship since last Monday, we have no choice," Chang added.

Chang said that their shipping agent had been making calls to urge them to stop but that the vessel would continue regardless. Perdana Foundation officials declined further comment.

Malaysia's foreign minister Anifah Aman said in a statement that he had spoken to his Egyptian counterpart on Saturday to "expedite the issuance of the necessary approval from the Egyptian Authorities for the vessel to dock at the port" and that the minister had "agreed to assist in the matter".

Perdana Foundation officials said the MV Finch left Greece on May 11, carrying plastic pipes to help restore the sewage system in Gaza.

However, Israeli naval forces fired warning shots at the vessel when it was in Israeli waters, about 400 metres (yards) from Gaza, and forced the ship into Egyptian waters.

The Perdana Foundation is headed by former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad, an 85-year-old firebrand who was a strident critic of the West and Israel over the treatment of Palestinians during his two decades in power.

The organisation was also involved in the first "Freedom Flotilla," a May 2010 attempt to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza, which ended in disaster when naval commandos raided the aid ships, killing nine Turks on board one of the vessels.

The incident sparked heavy criticism of Israel and led to a sharp deterioration in ties between Turkey and the Jewish state.

"Obama to Palestinians: Eh, Colonization Happens"
While the focus of reactions to President Obama's speech last week and Sunday at the AIPAC conference have been about his reference to the long understood principle of the 1949 armistice line (i.e. 1967 lines or the Green Line) most have missed a very dangerous message Obama and Netanyahu have sent to the Palestinians that is yet another reason why American-led negotiations are bound to fail.

Obama explained on Sunday what Netanyahu and right-wingers in the US and Israel pretended to misunderstand. He never said Israel had to retreat to the Green line, he said that that would be the baseline for agreed upon swaps. This is of course nothing new as both Obama himself and his press secretary have been making clear since the speech on Thursday. I discuss how negotiators were using this principle before Obama was President and also how the US delegation to the talks sought to impose Israeli demands on the Palestinians when the swaps were not agreed upon.

But the message to Palestinians was sent not only through what Obama said but also what he didn't say. The speech marked a clear departure from the earlier attempts at a settlement freeze, a first-phase Israeli obligation under the Road Map which both parties accepted in 2003. Sure, it had been clear that Obama backed away from the settlement freeze initiative before this, but this coupled with the way he and Netanyahu described the Israeli settlements in the past few days indicates to Palestinians that there is no deterrence for further Israeli colonization of their land and no reason for the Israelis not to constantly re-leverage their bargaining position by continuously expanding these colonies.

In his address on Thursday, President Obama mentioned Israeli settlements once, and certainly did not directly condemn them. He merely said that "expectations have gone unmet" but who is at fault for this? Is it the George Mitchell camp for expecting too much of the Israelis (abiding by their obligations) or is it the Israelis for consistently violating those obligations? Obama doesn't say, but the newly resigned George Mitchell, listening to the speech in the audience at the State Department during his last week on the job likely has no doubt about what was intended.

The ambiguous language here is deliberate so as to avoid addressing a delicate issue which put the Obama administration in hot water with the Israel lobby previously. Unfortunately, this is precisely where Palestinians needed clarity and the obfuscation suggests to them instead that American domestic politics are still hog-tying this President.

Just look at how Netanyahu referred to the settlements in his remarks with President Obama after they met in the White House on Friday (emphasis mine):
the 1967 lines ... don’t take into account certain changes that have taken place on the ground, demographic changes that have taken place over the last 44 years.
Even Netanyahu, who never has trouble communicating in English, floundered and paused in search for a euphemism vague enough to circumvent any mention of Israel's colonization.

Then, like clockwork, Obama reiterates practically the very same language in his address to the AIPAC conference two days later:
That’s what mutually agreed-upon swaps means. It is a well-known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation. It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years. It allows the parties themselves to take account of those changes, including the new demographic realities on the ground, and the needs of both sides.
It is hard to tell what is most disturbing about this. There is of course the near vomit-inducing reality that an American President is repeating the narrative of a foreign Prime Minister before a room full of lobbyists who are lobbying for that very Prime Minister's interests. Then there is the narrative itself. To reduce the conscious and calculated process of colonization in the occupied Palestinian territory, illegal under international law, to the equivalent of moss growing on a tree for a few decades is not only ludicrous and offensive but it is the whitewashing of a crime which Palestinians have been the direct victims of.

500,000 Israelis did not fall to sleep in on one side of the Green Line in places like Tel Aviv only to wake up on the other side in places Kiryat Arba, Ariel, Har Homa and Pisgat Ze'ev. Colonization is not a passive natural process that happens over time, as described by the Israeli Prime Minister before being repeated by the American President. It is a violent and state-driven process which involves breaking international law, dispossessing land owners through the use of force and monopolizing the natural resources of another people.

The failure to condemn the process by which these demographic changes "have taken place", while asking Palestinians to simply accept this new reality, is tantamount to supporting the continued colonization of Palestinian territory. In short, the President of the United States, which is trying to convince Palestinians his country can be an even-handed mediator, is saying Israel will not be held accountable for violations of international law and obligations of the peace process by us, you Palestinians will just have to deal with it.

And this is supposed to lure Palestinians back into American-led negotiations?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ali Abunimah's Analysis of Obama's AIPAC Speech

EXCERPT (go to above link to read original):

Here are some of the key points of Obama’s speech with analysis.



Here are the facts we all must confront. First, the number of Palestinians living west of the Jordan River is growing rapidly and fundamentally reshaping the demographic realities of both Israel and the Palestinian territories. This will make it harder and harder – without a peace deal – to maintain Israel as both a Jewish state and a democratic state.

Obama is simply pointing out the reality that Palestinians if not already, will soon be, the majority population in historic Palestine (Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip combined).

Yet Obama does not call for a morally correct solution: equal rights for all who live within the territory and all who have been unjustly excluded from it on the basis of ethnicity, according to basic democratic principles.

Instead, the president exhorts Israel to rush to create a truncated Palestinian statelet in the false belief that a Palestinian mini-state on a fraction of historic Palestine can fulfill the rights of some 11 million Palestinians denied their human rights, and right to self-determination for decades.

Obama’s use of demographic scare-mongering indicates an acceptance of the fundamentally racist view that the mere existence of certain categories of humans (in this case non-Jewish Palestinians) in a country is unacceptable and dangerous – even if they or their parents or grandparents were born in that country. Palestinians “west of the Jordan River” are not interlopers or intruders. They are indigenous people of the country. Instead of searching for ways for Israel to escape them by gerrymandering a bantustan, Obama should be calling for full and equal rights, nothing less.

Obama’s failure to call on Israel to respect the full and equal rights of the 1.4 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, will also be taken as a signal by Israel that the president is fine with the growing raft of racist legislation directed against this indigenous community.

Obama’s use of the demographic scare-tactic would have had its equivalent during the existence of apartheid South Africa in a US president urging the defunct racist regime in Pretoria to rush to create more bantustans so that South Africa could remain a ‘white and democratic state.’

When Obama claims, as peace process insiders often do, that the vision he laid out for “peace” is “is a well known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation” it is important to remember that these are “formulas” made by power players without reference to millions of Palestinians – especially refugees – who have never been consulted and who certainly don’t consider their own mere existence a threat to anyone’s “democracy.”

Military force is not enough

Obama said:

…technology will make it harder for Israel to defend itself in the absence of a genuine peace

Obama is acknowledging that military superiority is insufficient to maintain Israel in the absence of political legitimacy. But again there is a contradictory impulse: the unconditional US commitment to give Israel any and all technology and military means allows Israel to delude itself that it can rely forever on force of arms in lieu of a peace agreement.

Waning US hegemony means Arab public opinion now matters


…a new generation of Arabs is reshaping the region. A just and lasting peace can no longer be forged with one or two Arab leaders. Going forward, millions of Arab citizens have to see that peace is possible for that peace to be sustained.

For decades the whole concept of the “peace process” was based on Israel signing treaties with unelected Arab leaders in spite of their publics’ deep opposition to such agreements that did nothing to restore the rights of Palestinians and only freed Israel’s hands to attack and occupy more. The 1979 Israel-Egypt and 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaties are prime examples, and for many years the US sought a similar deal between Israel and Syria.

Obama is acknowledging that if the United States is unsuccessful in imposing new obedient client leaders on Arab states (or maintaining the ones it still supports), Israel would actually have to be acceptable to Arab publics and electorates. This is true enough, but again, his solution: a truncated Palestinian bantustan is hardly a sufficient answer to the challenge.

Isolation of Israel will be unstoppable even with US support

Several times in his speech Obama vowed the United States would stand up against the “delegitimization” of Israel. That is the term Israel and its supporters have applied to the global Palestine solidarity movement, calling for equal rights, especially the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Obama also referred specifically to the Palestinian Authority effort to seek UN recognition for a Palestinian state this September. Despite these US commitments, Obama observed:

But the march to isolate Israel internationally – and the impulse of the Palestinians to abandon negotiations – will continue to gain momentum in the absence of a credible peace process and alternative. For us to have leverage with the Palestinians, with the Arab States, and with the international community, the basis for negotiations has to hold out the prospect of success.

This seems to be a clear warning to Israel and it should serve as an encouragement to Palestine solidarity activists everywhere. However, the president offered no sense that under his leadership the United States will take any action other than presidential speeches that have any “prospect of success.”

Obama backs Bush’s view on “1967 lines”

Perhaps the centerpiece of Obama’s speech today was when he addressed the fake controversy over his mention of the 1967 lines on Thursday. Today, Obama said:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Move Over AIPAC Flashmob (D.C. Union Station)

"Refugee 'return rallies' planned for June 5" -- Maan News
Masses of Palestinian refugees will march to Israel's borders and ceasefire lines again on June 5, organizers of the May 15 "return rally" said.

On Sunday, 14 protesters were killed when Israeli forces opened fire on thousands of refugees trying to return to their land in Israel.

The May 15 rallies were held to mark Nakba Day, the anniversary of Palestinians' expulsion from their homes and villages as the state of Israel was established in 1948.

Israeli soldiers shot dead 10 Palestinian refugees trying to cross Lebanon's border into Israel. Troops shot dead four refugees trying to enter the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Hundreds were injured when Israeli forces fired tear-gas grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinians rallying at Qalandiya checkpoint, which separates the occupied West Bank from Jerusalem.

Israeli forces killed a Palestinian teenager at a simultaneous protest at the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip.

The committee organizing the "return rallies" said Saturday that the May 15 protests were "just the beginning."

In a statement, the group called on all Palestinian refugees living in exile to march peacefully to the borders of historic Palestine on June 5.

The date marks the anniversary of the 1967 war, when Israel occupied southern Lebanon, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank.

Thousands of refugees will march to the ceasefire lines in the West Bank and Gaza as well as borders with Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, the committee said.

"The Israeli occupation should remain on alert because rallies will not stop until Palestinian refugees return to Haifa, Haffa, Al-Majdal, Bi'r As-Sab and all occupied Palestinian towns," the statement added.

The group urged Palestinian lawyers to file legal proceedings against Israeli officials for the killing of non-violent demonstrators on Nakba Day.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International called for investigations into the killings.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Syrian Police Kill More Demonstrators -- Al Jazzera

via Hossam el-Hamalawy's blog

Palestinian Activist [Omar Barghouti] Says Obama Speech "Irrelevant"

More at The Real News

OccupiedPalestine Blog Hit by Twitter Censorship after Account Suspended

Influential and popular blog had it's Twitter account suspended yesterday.
Last night the twitteraccount of this blog was suspended while tweeting for #Palestine #Gaza #Justice & #Humanrights by way tweeps are used from us: reposting already by media published news or retweeting by media published news from others (besides some personal tweets as well of course). A lot of people sending messages now by email asking what happened.

We express our concern about Twitter suspending accounts. Twitter is supposed to be a social site and it defeats the purpose of the service when the accounts of popular / active users are disabled, thus cutting them off from their network of contacts and destroying irrevocably what they have spent months and/or years building up here: a twitterarchive, retweets, favourite quote collections, personal updates, hence all the information of personal nature stored in the DM Box etc.

It is in the features of Twitter for any user who does not like the tweets or the amount, to unfollow or even block users whose tweets are not appreciated.

To our loyal followers, we are sorry for the inconvenience. please follow sister @occpal2 or sister @occpal3 for the time being. Shoutouts to these accounts would be highly appreciated to restore the followerslist so the news about Palestine we continuously update reaches the world.

We send an email to Twitter but did not receieve any response yet. We keep you updated in this topic about eventual developments in hope the account gets restored.

Jazzakum Allahu khair wa BarakAllahu feekum, Thank you and may Allah/G-d/God bless you, from occupiedpalestine

Update 1

It seems DM’s send to @occpal2 or sister @occpal 3 are not arriving at all

Abunimah Tweets Re: Obama's "Big Speech"

"Obama supports arming Israel to the teeth and having Arabs face it shouting "peaceful, peaceful" while they're gunned down."

@avinunu (Abinimah)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Israel Shoots Another Journalist -- Mohammed Othman Badly Injured
New York, May 18, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Israel today to investigate the shooting of Palestinian photographer Mohammed Othman. Othman was shot and seriously wounded by an Israeli soldier on May 15 near the Erez Crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, while on assignment for the U.K.-based citizen journalism site and photo agency Demotix, according to local and international news reports.

Othman was covering clashes between the Israeli military and Palestinians on Sunday when he was shot. He was about to take a picture of an Israeli soldier who was firing at a Palestinian who was throwing stones. As he held his camera, another Israeli soldier shot him, Mazen al-Breem, another Demotix photographer at the scene, told CPJ. Two bullets hit Othman, one in the hand and another in the back, Turi Munthe, founder and CEO of Demotix, told CPJ. The Israeli Defense Forces' Spokesperson's Unit did not provide CPJ with an immediate comment, but said that it would send a written response.

Othman was taken to a Gaza City hospital, where he underwent surgery. A doctor at the hospital told Agence France-Presse that a bullet tore through Othman's lung and then lodged in his spine. Although Othman's condition is currently stable, there are concerns about potential paralysis if additional operations are not forthcoming, according to the same report. Othman's wife, Iman, told journalists that medical staff informed her that husband is likely to require a level of medical treatment that is not available in Gaza.

"Israeli authorities must launch a timely and transparent investigation into the shooting of Mohammed Othman, and punish any individuals guilty of misconduct," said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. "In addition, Israel must also do everything it can to facilitate Othman's medical evacuation to another country if requested."

Milad Ayyash, 17, Killed by Settler Guard’s Bullet

Europe's Largest Student Union Joins Boycott of Israel

The University of London Union (ULU) has voted 10-1 to institute and campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in support of Palestine. The motion called for “thorough research into ULU investments and contracts” with companies guilty of “violating Palestinian human rights” as set out by the Palestinian Boycott National Committee (BNC). Ashok Kumar, Senate member for LSE, speaking in favour of the motion, argued, “We have precedents for boycotting campaigns at ULU, especially with South Africa and the boycott campaign over Barclays bank, that supported the Apartheid regime. We are now responding to the Palestinian call for civil action in support of their fight against racism.”

The motion also called on other students’ unions to join in the campaign for Palestinian human rights. ULU is the largest students’ union in Europe with over 120,000 members from colleges across London. ULU senate consists of the presidents of the 20 students unions reprsenting every University of London University. James Haywood, President-elect at Goldsmiths Students’ Union, stated, “We are delighted that this motion has passed, and with such a clear vote as well. We have seen throughout history that boycotts are a crucial nonviolent tactic in achieving freedom, and target institutions, not individuals.”

Sean Rillo Raczka, incoming ULU Vice President, “I’m delighted that ULU has passed this BDS policy on Israel. We stand in solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people, and as Vice President next year I will ensure that the University of London Union does not give profit to those denying the human rights of the Palestinians.”


BBC: Don't Censor Palestine! -- Campaign for Sat. May 21

The BBC have messed up again.

They have rightly come under fire for censoring the word “Palestine” in a performance by rapper Mic Righteous on Charlie Sloth’s BBC 1Xtra hip hop show. The show was originally aired in December, but Mic Righteous’ set was re-aired at the end of April in a best-of episode, re-igniting controversy. A spokesperson from the BBC said the censorship was necessary to preserve the station’s “impartiality”. You can see the clip on the BBC website here: (about 3 mins in). Read the article in the Guardian about the controversy here: .

The BBC don’t have a great track record of being “impartial” when it comes to Palestine, given their controversial and indefensible decision not to air the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal for Gaza after Operation Cast Lead in January 2009. You can read the BBC’s statement on this matter here:

On the 21st of May, people from all over Britain will demand that the BBC air the word “Palestine”. We will not stand for this censorship. We will email, text and phone every contact for every show and we will get Palestine on air.


What you can do:
1) Invite everyone you know to participate in this facebook event.
2) Gather a group of friends together on Saturday with phones, computers, a twitter account (#dontcensorpalestine), whatever, put on a pot of coffee and get going.
3) Check back here for more information on scheduled programmes and contact details – to be uploaded soon. Make a list of all your targets and call/email/text in.

Remember: we’re trying to get Palestine ON AIR.

Phone in to a gardening programme with a question about your roses – when you get on air tell them in Palestine very little will grow because you have no access to water supplies.
Phone in for cooking advice from James Martin and ask him to say “Free Palestine” on air.

If you’re only emailing or texting, you may not get on air. That’s OK! This is a huge statement in itself. We need to inundate the BBC with demands to use the word “Palestine” – and to make a public apology for this politically motivated censorship.

Most importantly, we can’t let this happen quietly.