Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What Israel’s Anti-African Pogroms Tell us About Zionism


A week ago, on the night of Wednesday 23rd May, South Tel Aviv erupted, becoming the epicentre of an attack by an angry, violent mob against members of the city’s African migrant population, deliberately targeted  because of no other reason than their ethnicity.

African-owned businesses and homes were destroyed and looted. There were no fatalities but many were injured. Social media was alive with images and information regarding the attacks, pointing out the absolute apathy, even complicity, of the authorities.

This attack on the African minority in Tel Aviv is not an isolated event. Wednesday night’s violence was the culmination of a series of racist attacks, including the firebombing of homes and a kindergarten in south Tel Aviv neighbourhoods. In fact, these attacks illustrate the prevalent high level of racial tension within the city and in Israel as a whole.

One cannot fully understand the events of Wednesday without an understanding of the various contexts at play, historical, political and ideological. Steven Salaita writes in The Electronic Intifada that Zionism is ‘an ideology that can accommodate liberal and humanistic discourses, (but) cannot be practised without a concomitant abrogation of the rights of those who are not Jewish.’

Zionism, in other words, dictates racial and religious supremacy. Israel, a state built on ethnically cleansed land, thus operates under the veil of a democracy in which the Jewish population is the exclusive beneficiary of the democratic process.

However, Israel’s Jewish population is itself stratified within an ethnic hierarchy, where the prosperous Ashkenazi (white Jews of European descent) dominate the economy, media and politics. In comparison, the Mizrahi and Sephardi (Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descent) suffer socio-economic hardship.

Ethnic and religious minorities are uniformly oppressed, from Palestinian Muslims and Christians to African migrants. The disparity is well-documented. Human Rights Watch states that in Israel’s segregated school system ‘Palestinian Arab children get an education inferior to that of Jewish children, and their relatively poor performance in school reflects this.’
Jonathan Cook wrote an extensive piece for The National, an English language newspaper, published daily in Abu Dhabi, that examines Israel’s treatment of Ethiopians. Cook writes that ‘Health officials in Israel are subjecting many female Ethiopian immigrants to a controversial long-term birth control drug.’ He further states that ’57 per cent of Depo Provera users in Israel are Ethiopian, even though the community accounts for less than two per cent of the total population.’

The drug has a wide range of damaging side effects and was used by the South African apartheid government to limit the fertility of black women. Yali Hashash, a researcher at Haifa University said similar practices were used against Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews in the 1950s and 1960s because ‘Israel’s leading gynaecologists regarded Arab Jews as ‘primitive’ and incapable of acting ‘responsibly’.’ The evidence is difficult to refute and presents a compelling conclusion: the preservation of Jewish identity in the eyes of the state appears only to encompass white Europeans.

Although oppression takes on many guises, the language of oppression is universal. From the top down, prominent Israeli parliamentarians have fanned the flames of racial hatred and undoubtedly incited violence. In a cabinet meeting last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described African migrants in Israel as ‘illegal infiltrators flooding the country … threatening our existence as a Jewish and democratic state … our national security and our national identity.’

Monday, May 28, 2012

Deir Istiya’s Farmers Pray for Their Olive Trees

Last month, Israel’s Civil Administration (ICA)—the deceptive title allotted to the governing body running its occupation of the West Bank—handed nine of Deir Istiya’s farmers orders to uproot over 1,400 olive trees by May 1st or face the consequences.

from Amin Odeh,

Red Onion State Prisoner Hunger-Strike

On May 22, brave prisoners at Virginia’s Red Onion State Prison began a hunger strike. Their decision to starve themselves in an effort to be heard is the latest in a recent series of prison strikes, one of the very few forms of peaceful recourse available to prisoners to protest intolerable conditions.

The series started Dec. 9, 2010, with a sit-down strike by thousands of prisoners in Georgia, tired of being forced to work for free like slaves, followed by Lucasville prisoners’ hunger strike at Ohio State Penitentiary in January 2011 and the mass hunger strikes in California beginning July 1, 2011, that involved 12,000 prisoners in 13 prisons simultaneously refusing food at their peak. Hunger strikes worldwide, from Palestine, where prisoners acknowledged being inspired by their peers in California, to Kyrgysztan, where prisoners literally sewed their mouths shut, have followed.

Red Onion State Prison in rural Virginia sits in the barren crater of a formerly lush green mountain whose top was blown off to remove the coal that used to be mined the old-fashioned way. Built in 1998, it’s the new economic development model for Appalachia: mountaintop removal covered by prisons and Wal-Marts, now the only job options for out-of-work miners and their families, according to JJ Heyward, a veteran activist who volunteered at the Bay View before moving to the East Coast.

My Patriotic Memorial Day Slideshow -- by Elliot Stoller

May this spirit live on to the day when we can rejoice in its peaceful results!  Thank you, Elliot.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Shilling for NATO (Selling Death & War)

$37 million, in the lead up to the NATO Summit in Chicago this is the amount that corporate sponsors and they are many, have publicly admitted to having gathered to promote NATO to the American public. Who are these sponsors? Well the list is long but here are a few of the smaller ones and you may be surprised: Chicago Young Republicans, the National Strategy Forum, the Arab-American Business Association, the Turkish-American Chamber of Commerce, Human Rights Watch (yes, the same one), the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater (What!?!). 

The big corporate sponsors include: General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, United Technologies, the Atlantic Richfield Company, Xerox, IBM, Security Pacific Bank and State Farm Insurance.   

With an annual budget of what some sources calculate at being close to half a trillion dollars ($500 billion) from the US side approximately $400 billion, this is a hugely profitable cash cow for all of these companies, never mind that their business is death and destruction… That is also good because there are slew of American companies waiting in the shadows to make billions on reconstruction and lucrative business deals on the new “democracies’ they install.
And that it what it is all about after all promoting the US position. Advancing US global domination, securing unfettered access to the world’s oil and natural resources, resources needed desperately by a country that consumes more than 48% of the world’s total.

Israeli Military Leaders Speak Out Against Iran Strike -- The Real News

More at The Real News

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

From Wadi Hillweh Info Center -- Silwan "The Naqba 'Right of Return' march begins from Damascus Gate"

"As part of the Naqba Day memorial activities, a large crowd marched from the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem through the streets of the city, demonstrating their commitment to the Right of Return and claim to the land that hundreds of thousands lost in 1948. Today 5 millions Palestinian refugees living in neighboring countries and in Palestine itself, are waiting to return."
"The march also criticized the silence from the international community, and the weakness of the Arab leaders to address the ongoing violation of human rights by the Israeli occupation. Israeli forces tried to block the march but were unable to delay the determined protestors."

Link to original article:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Israeli Settler Shoots at Palestinians While IDF Soldiers Stand By

From Shahd Abusalama's Blog: "My Father’s Memories of His Release from Israel’s “Graves for the Living'”

 Shahd Abusalama's Parents

Twenty-seven years ago, my father’s eyes saw the sun after being in the dark of Israeli prison for 13 years. On 20 May 1985, my father regained his freedom.

“I was sentenced for seven lifetimes plus 10 years and I thought that this prison, Nafha, would be my grave. Thank God I didn’t stay that long there, and I was set free to marry your mother and to bring you to this life,” my father told me, smiling. He considered the 13 years of misery as not that long. Yes, it’s not that long if compared with the life sentence to which he was bound if the deal to exchange Palestinian and Israeli prisoners didn’t happen.

No regret

I can’t recall that Dad ever showing any regret or sorrow for how the precious years of his youth were stolen from him.   His prison experience is instead his song of life. He believes that it is his treasure, the reason behind his rich culture and beliefs, his strong character, his intimate friendships, and the reason why he values life. I’ve always been proud that I am my Dad’s daughter, and I’ll always be. He is a mix of experience and knowledge.

The story of the exchange deal all started when Ahmad Jibril of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine  captured three Israeli soldiers (Yosef Grof, Nissim Salem, Hezi Shai) in revenge for thousands of Palestinian prisoners kidnapped by Israel without any apparent reason. After a long process of negotiations, both sides struck a deal that Israel would release 1,250 prisoners in return for the three Israelis that Jibril held captive. My father was included in the deal, and fortunately, he was set free. Among the prisoners released were the Japanese freedom fighter Kozo Okamoto who had been sentenced to life imprisonment, and Ahmed Yassin, the leader of Hamas who was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment in 1983.

History repeats itself

History repeats itself. On 18 October last year, we experienced a similar historical event with a swap deal involving the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was arrested by the resistance in Gaza while he was on top of his war machine (an Israeli tank). Just like what happened with Shalit, the capture of three Israelis caused uproar in the Israeli public opinion and international media at that time, but the thousands of Palestinian prisoners behind Israeli bars were not noticed, except for by the resistance fighters that have always forced Israel to meet some demands regarding the Palestinian prisoners.

When I deeply think about these events and the way the international media reacts, I get angry at how unjust this world is. Why did the world make a big deal of Shalit and the three soldiers when they were attested by the “terrorist” Palestinians while thousands of  Palestinian political prisoners are left behind in Israeli jails enduring all forms of violations and torture and the world chooses to look away?

My father told the story with tears struggling to fall. He was staring at a picture stuck on the wall of his room; a painting that my father drew during his imprisonment of flowers blooming among barbed wires. “I cannot forget the moment when the leader of the prison started calling off the names to be released,” he said.

Mixed emotions

Among the prisoners was Omar al-Qassim, a leading member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Al-Qassim was asked to read the list of the names loudly. He was so excited at the beginning hoping that his freedom would be restored. Every time he said a name, a scream of happiness convulsed the walls of prison. Suddenly, his face’s features started to change. He became reluctant to speak because he noticed that his name wasn’t among the names. This was another incident of psychological torture that the prison’s manager committed against him. But he left him no chance to make fun of him. He withdrew himself silently and went to his prison to continue with his resistance. Sadly, he died in a horrible narrow cell after 22 years of resistance, pride and glory.

The tears of happiness and sadness mixed together. The freed prisoners were happy to regain their freedom but they were upset at leaving the other prisoners in that dirty place where the sun never shines. “We were like a big family sharing everything together. We all handled the same issues that we were united to fight for,” my father said. “Although I am free now, my soul will always be with my friends who are still suffering in there.”

My father has always said that “prisoners are the living martyrs.” He also described Israeli jails as “graves for the living.” Let’s unite and use all the means available to help 4,653 Palestinian political prisoner have fewer years of suffering. We share this responsibility as we can’t leave them as prey for those criminal jailers. Their freedom will be a triumph for humanity.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

In Chicago, Nurses Rally for "Robin Hood" Tax

Madeleine Albright and Iraq Genocide Memorial Day -- Felicity Arbuthnot

One politician with whom [Madeleine Albright] had sparred did take a stand in vast contrast. Robin Cook, Britain’s Foreign Secretary resigned in protest two days before the invasion. His resignation speech in Parliament on 18th March 2003 was a searing indictment of stark double standards on dealing with Iraq. Deliberate selective perception which could now equally apply to threats to Iran:

“I have heard it said that Iraq has had not months but twelve years in which to complete disarmament, and that our patience is exhausted”, he began.

“Yet it is more than thirty years since (UN) Resolution 242 called on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.

“We do not express the same impatience with the persistent refusal of Israel to comply.”

He talked of: “ … the strong sense of injustice throughout the Muslim world at what it sees as one rule for the allies of the US and another rule for the rest.”

Britain’s credibility was not: “helped by the appearance that our partners in Washington are less interested in disarmament than they are in regime change in Iraq.

“That explains why any evidence that inspections may be showing progress is greeted in Washington not with satisfaction but with consternation: it reduces the case for war.
And as Iran now, he pleaded that: “Inspections be given a chance (that the UK was) “being pushed too quickly into conflict by a US Administration with an agenda of its own.

He asked for the halt of: “commitment of troops in a war that has neither international agreement nor domestic support” and ended: “I intend to join those tomorrow night who will vote against military action. It is for that reason alone, and with a heavy heart, that I resign from the government.”

On the first anniversary of the invasion he stated in Parliament: “It seems only too likely that the judgment of history may be that the invasion of Iraq has been the biggest blunder in British foreign and security policy in the half century since Suez. “In truth we would have made more progress in rolling back support for terrorism if we had brought peace to Palestine rather than war to Iraq.”

Outraged Fullerton Citizens React to Kelly Thomas Beating Tape

In a recent presentation I saw in my town, a touring Israeli "Defense" Forces soldier frequently states the U.S. & Israel share the same values.  Watching the above tape which includes footage of the Fullerton police beating a man to death and then comparing it with the videos of the IDF in the story linked below, I would have to say, it is hard not to agree with him on that one thing.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Excuse Me, But Israel Has No Right To Exist -- Sharmine Narwani
The phrase “right to exist” entered my consciousness in the 1990s just as the concept of the two-state solution became part of our collective lexicon. In any debate at university, when a Zionist was out of arguments, those three magic words were invoked to shut down the conversation with an outraged, “are you saying Israel doesn’t have the right to exist??”

Of course you couldn’t challenge Israel’s right to exist – that was like saying you were negating a fundamental Jewish right to have…rights, with all manner of Holocaust guilt thrown in for effect.

Except of course the Holocaust is not my fault – or that of Palestinians. The cold-blooded program of ethnically cleansing Europe of its Jewish population has been so callously and opportunistically utilized to justify the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian Arab nation, that it leaves me utterly unmoved. I have even caught myself – shock - rolling my eyes when I hear Holocaust and Israel in the same sentence.

What moves me instead in this post-two-state era, is the sheer audacity of Israel even existing.

What a fantastical idea, this notion that a bunch of rank outsiders from another continent could appropriate an existing, populated nation for themselves – and convince the “global community” that it was the moral thing to do. I’d laugh at the chutzpah if this wasn’t so serious.

Even more brazen is the mass ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population by persecuted Jews, newly arrived from their own experience of being ethnically cleansed.

But what is truly frightening is the psychological manipulation of the masses into believing that Palestinians are somehow dangerous – “terrorists” intent on “driving Jews into the sea.” As someone who makes a living through words, I find the use of language in creating perceptions to be intriguing. This practice – often termed “public diplomacy” has become an essential tool in the world of geopolitics. Words, after all, are the building blocks of our psychology.

Take, for example, the way we have come to view the Palestinian-Israeli “dispute” and any resolution of this enduring conflict. And here I borrow liberally from a previous article of mine…

The United States and Israel have created the global discourse on this issue, setting stringent parameters that grow increasingly narrow regarding the content and direction of this debate. Anything discussed outside the set parameters has, until recently, widely been viewed as unrealistic, unproductive and even subversive.
Participation in the debate is limited only to those who prescribe to its main tenets: the acceptance of Israel, its regional hegemony and its qualitative military edge; acceptance of the shaky logic upon which the Jewish state's claim to Palestine is based; and acceptance of the inclusion and exclusion of certain regional parties, movements and governments in any solution to the conflict.
Words like dove, hawk, militant, extremist, moderates, terrorists, Islamo-fascists, rejectionists, existential threat, holocaust-denier, mad mullah determine the participation of solution partners -- and are capable of instantly excluding others.

Then there is the language that preserves "Israel's Right To Exist" unquestioningly: anything that invokes the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and the myths about historic Jewish rights to the land bequeathed to them by the Almighty – as though God was in the real-estate business. This language seeks not only to ensure that a Jewish connection to Palestine remains unquestioned, but importantly, seeks to punish and marginalize those who tackle the legitimacy of this modern colonial-settler experiment.
But this group-think has led us nowhere. It has obfuscated, distracted, deflected, ducked, and diminished, and we are no closer to a satisfactory conclusion…because the premise is wrong.
There is no fixing this problem. This is the kind of crisis in which you cut your losses, realize the error of your ways and reverse course. Israel is the problem. It is the last modern-day colonial-settler experiment, conducted at a time when these projects were being unraveled globally.

There is no “Palestinian-Israeli conflict” – that suggests some sort of equality in power, suffering, and negotiable tangibles, and there is no symmetry whatsoever in this equation. Israel is the Occupier and Oppressor; Palestinians are the Occupied and Oppressed. What is there to negotiate? Israel holds all the chips. They can give back some land, property, rights, but even that is an absurdity – what about everything else? What about ALL the land, property and rights? Why do they get to keep anything – how is the appropriation of land and property prior to 1948 fundamentally different from the appropriation of land and property on this arbitrary 1967 date?

Why are the colonial-settlers prior to 1948 any different from those who colonized and settled after 1967?

Let me correct myself. Palestinians do hold one chip that Israel salivates over – the one big demand at the negotiating table that seems to hold up everything else. Israel craves recognition of its “right to exist.”

But you do exist - don’t you, Israel?

Israel fears “delegitimization [1]” more than anything else. Behind the velvet curtain lies a state built on myths and narratives, protected only by a military behemoth, billions of dollars in US assistance and a lone UN Security Council veto. Nothing else stands between the state and its dismantlement. Without these three things, Israelis would not live in an entity that has come to be known as the “least safe place for Jews in the world.”

Strip away the spin and the gloss, and you quickly realize that Israel doesn’t even have the basics of a normal state. After 64 years, it doesn’t have borders. After six decades, it has never been more isolated. Over half a century later, and it needs a gargantuan military just to stop Palestinians from walking home.
Israel is a failed experiment. It is on life-support – pull those three plugs and it is a cadaver, living only in the minds of some seriously deluded foreigners who thought they could pull off the heist of the century.

The most important thing we can do as we hover on the horizon of One State is to shed the old language rapidly. None of it was real anyway – it was just the parlance of that particular “game.” Grow a new vocabulary of possibilities – the new state will be the dawn of humanity’s great reconciliation. Muslims, Christians and Jews living together in Palestine as they once did.

Naysayers can take a hike. Our patience is wearing thinner than the walls of the hovels that Palestinian refugees have called “home” for three generations in their purgatory camps.

These universally exploited refugees are entitled to the nice apartments – the ones that have pools downstairs and a grove of palm trees outside the lobby. Because the kind of compensation owed for this failed western experiment will never be enough.
And no, nobody hates Jews. That is the fallback argument screeched in our ears – the one “firewall” remaining to protect this Israeli Frankenstein. I don’t even care enough to insert the caveats that are supposed to prove I don’t hate Jews. It is not a provable point, and frankly, it is a straw man of an argument. If Jews who didn’t live through the Holocaust still feel the pain of it, then take that up with the Germans. Demand a sizeable plot of land in Germany – and good luck to you.

For anti-Semites salivating over an article that slams Israel, ply your trade elsewhere – you are part of the reason this problem exists.

Israelis who don’t want to share Palestine as equal citizens with the indigenous Palestinian population – the ones who don’t want to relinquish that which they demanded Palestinians relinquish 64 years ago - can take their second passports and go back home. Those remaining had better find a positive attitude – Palestinians have shown themselves to be a forgiving lot. The amount of carnage they have experienced at the hands of their oppressors – without proportional response – shows remarkable restraint and faith.

This is less the death of a Jewish state than it is the demise of the last remnants of modern-day colonialism. It is a rite of passage – we will get through it just fine. At this particular precipice in the 21st century, we are all, universally, Palestinian – undoing this wrong is a test of our collective humanity, and nobody has the right to sit this one out.

Israel has no right to exist. Break that mental barrier and just say it: “Israel has no right to exist.” Roll it around your tongue, tweet it, post it as your Facebook status update – do it before you think twice. Delegitimization is here – have no fear. Palestine will be less painful than Israel ever was.

"Our Olympic Hell: A Militarised, Corporate, Jingoistic Disgrace" -- Andy Worthington


In Athens, the $300m "super-panopticon" CCTV and information system built for the Games following intense US pressure remained after the event, along with the disused sports facilities. In fact, the system has been used by Greek police trying in vain to control the mass uprisings responding to the crash and savage austerity measures in the country.

It is important to remember that all this is ostensibly designed to secure the spectacle of 17,000 athletes competing for 17 days. Even if London’s overall security budget remains similar to that of Athens, that works out at the startling figure of £59,000 of public money to secure each competitor or £3,500 per competitor per day. In 2004, the cost in now-bankrupt Athens was £90,000 per competitor (for a smaller number of athletes than are likely to attend London). This was a major contributor, as part of the overall £10bn costs, to Greece’s subsequent debt crisis.  How can we make sense of this situation? Four connected points need emphasis here. The first is that, amid a global economic crash, so-called "homeland security" industries — a loose confederation of defence, IT and biotechnology industries — are in bonanza mode. As this post-9/11 paradigm is being diffused around the world, the industry — worth $142bn in 2009 — is expected to be worth a staggering $2.7tn globally between 2010 and 2020. Growth rates are between 5% and 12% a year.

The UK, long an exemplar "surveillance society", is especially attractive to these industries, especially when hosting the Olympics. Recent security industry magazines have been full of articles excitedly extolling the Olympics as a "key driver of the industry" or as "keeping the market buoyant".

Nation states, and the EU, are struggling to ensure that their corporations get a piece of the action in markets long dominated by US and Israeli firms. Ramping up surveillance is thus now as much a part of economic policy as a response to purported threats.


Crucially, though, as Naomi Klein points out in her book The Shock Doctrine, the security boom also involves attempts to diffuse the technologies honed in counter-insurgency and colonial war in places such as Gaza, Kabul and Baghdad — drones, helicopters, data mining, biometrics, security zones, so-called "non-lethal weapons" (devices used to disperse crowds) — to the domestic "global" cities of Asia and the west.

Particular glee that Israeli-style security arrangements are now being widely implemented is evident among the CEOs of large Israeli security and defence contractors, which are doing especially well in the security boom. Leo Gleser is president of ISDS, a company that proudly proclaims that it was established by ex-Mossad agents and which was involved in £200m worth of security contracts for the Athens Games. He talks of "growing tsunamis of violence, criminal acts, and global insecurity triggered by the 9/11 events" which made the "the western world finally understand that measures had to be taken".

Olympics are especially important opportunities to cement the security boom still further. They are the ultimate global security shop windows through which states and corporations can advertise their latest high-tech wares to burgeoning global markets while making massive profits.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012

Montreal Cops Carry on Brutal Repression of Public Dissent in Student Strike
via Atheo News

Update on strike:

Eight Arrested Outside Obama Chicago Campaign HQ As NATO Protests Begin -- Chicagoist

It's NATO week here in Chicago and already we have our first arrests related to protests of the May 20-21 summit.

Eight protesters were arrested at the Prudential Building this morning after they refused to clear out of the lobby. The Prudential Building also happens to house the Chicago headquarters of the Obama re-election campaign. Around 8:30 a.m. this morning, dozens of protesters organized by the Catholic Worker movement picketed on Prudential Plaza, then attempted to enter the building. Building security locked the revolving doors, but protesters pushed past a guard at a side door.

A dozen uniformed Chicago police officers entered the building as the protesters read a prepared statement. The protesters then left the building except for the eight who were arrested; they were thanked by their fellow protesters as they were led away in handcuffs. they'll likely be charged with criminal trespassing.

Catholic Workers groups from at least 10 states are in Chicago for the NATO summit to protest what they're calling a "Week Without Capitalism:" nonviolent protests of the summit and the G8 summit at Camp David, Md. Later this afternoon, members of Occupy Chicago are expected to protest in support of more public school funding, and a protest for immigration reform is currently in progress. The increase in protests has already led to a greater police presence along Michigan Avenue.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Nakba, the Ongoing Catastrophe of the Palestinian People, Remembered in Seattle. May 13, 2012

Tents representing some of the over 400 Palestinian villages destroyed during creation of the state of Israel.  Many visitors passed through the display and stopped for information at the booths of Voices of Palestine and Palestine Solidarity Committee of Seattle, who jointly set up the Nakba display in Westlake Park.

Their homeland continues to be stolen by Israel with the aid of the U.S. and European nations, but the people of Palestine and their land are sumoud [steadfast] with each other.

During the course of the day,
 Movitas, a great brass band, escorted marchers to several stores in downtown Seattle, including Nordstrom and Bed, Bath & Beyond.  In the stores, sharp but brief messages were mic-checked to the customers about avoiding the purchase of Israeli products like Ahava and Soda Stream! 

Palestinian Hunger-Strikers Honored in Seattle at Nakba Remembrance.  To get information on the strikers, go to Adameer, the Palestinian Prisoner Support organization and Samidoun, Canadian support network.  Pictured at right is Hana al Shalabi, who was deported from her home in the West Bank to Gaza after her 43-day hunger-strike.  Over 1500 prisoners are now on strike, with a handful over 70 days into the strike.

Please join Voices of Palestine-Seattle at our vigils near Westlake Park on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of every month.  Sign up for info at  Free Palestine!

Solidarity with Mothers of Palestinian Hunger-Strikers! Carlos Latuff

via Occupied Palestine blog:

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Nakba Day in Beit Omar Village

A Palestinian boy scuffles with Israeli soldiers during a demonstration ahead of 'Nakba Day' in Beit Omar.  via @TeamPalestina

"Friday day of Anger" in Support of Palestinian Prisoners By

via Mondoweiss "Scorched Earth in Bi'lin"

Why Occupy Chicago is Protesting NATO--Heartening Report!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Strong Demonstrations of Support for Hunger-Strikers; Also Explanations of Reasons for Hunger Strikes

For English speakers, Real News Network has very good coverage of Palestine.  Hope you'll support it if you can.  ;)  Linda

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Long-term Hunger Striker Not Backing Down -- Viva Palestine & The Hunger Strkers

This article was originally published by the Ma'an News Agency and is republished with permission.

A Palestinian hunger striker who has gone without food for 70 days said Tuesday he had no plans to back down despite suffering severe medical complications.

Thaer Halahla, 33, from Hebron, wrote in a letter published by a prisoner rights group that he was suffering rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, and bleeding from the nose and gums.

"My weight today is 55 out of 83 kilos before the strike, and my hair is falling out along with muscle atrophy," he added, according to the Muhjat al-Quds group which distributed Halahla's letter.

The detainee, one of over 300 Palestinians held by Israel without charge or trial, called for more support as hundreds of prisoners refuse food in Israeli jails in a bid for better treatment.

"We did not go into the battle because we love to be hungry or in pain, but for our dignity and the dignity of our nation," Halahla wrote.

He also thanked supporters who showed up for his latest court hearing.

Israel's Supreme Court on Monday rejected Halahla's appeal along with that of Bilal Diab, 27, from Jenin. Both detainees have been on hunger strike since Feb. 29.

Hundreds of prisoners joined a group of hunger-strikers on April 17 protesting detention without charge. Around 2,000 are now taking part in the strike, rights groups say.

ICRC: Imminent danger of death

The International Committee of the Red Cross warned Tuesday that Halahla and five others on hunger strike were in "imminent danger of dying" and called on Israel to transfer them to hospital and allow visits from their families.

The six have refused food for between 47 and 70 days and are in prison under Israel's long-standing policy of detaining people without charge or trial. Prison terms for "administrative detainees" are renewable for six months at a time.

"We urge the detaining authorities to transfer all six detainees without delay to a suitable hospital so that their condition can be continuously monitored and so that they can receive specialized medical and nursing care," said Juan Pedro Schaerer, head of the ICRC delegation in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said there would be serious repercussions if any of the prisoners died.

"The most tragic thing is if you look at the list of demands they have presented Israel ... they are generally related to the basic rights of prisoners," he said in the West Bank city of Ramallah. "There is a clear violation of the Geneva conventions."

The ICRC's Shaerer stressed that the strikers' right to fast is protected by international conventions.

"While we are in favor of any medical treatment that could benefit the detainees, we would like to point out that, under resolutions adopted by the World Medical Association, the detainees are entitled to freely choose whether to consent to be fed or to receive medical treatment," he said.

"It is essential that their choice be respected and their human dignity preserved," he said.

The office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also voiced concern on the strikers' fate.

"International law is clear: administrative detention should only be used in exceptional cases and only for imperative reasons of security. Administrative detainees have the right to challenge the lawfulness of the detention," spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a news briefing.

Independent UN investigators and UN rights bodies have raised concerns about Israel's frequent and extensive use of administrative detention, including of children, infringing on detainees right to a fair trial, Shamdasani said.


Westlake Park, Nakba in 2009
An outdoor installation/display that will cover Westlake Plaza, visually suggesting both a refugee camp of tents and a cemetary for the 500 Palestinian villages destroyed 1947-49. All the village names will be on the markers, along with references to other key events such as the massacres at Tantura and Deir Yassin, the recent assault on Gaza, and the ongoing settlement movement and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian territory.
There will also be music, cultural displays and a booth sponsored by Mothers Against Ethnic Cleansing (honoring Mother's Day this year.)

12-5 pm
Westlake Plaza, 4th & Pine

Presented by Palestine Solidarity Committee and Voices of Palestine

Amin Odeh

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

Monday, May 07, 2012

New French President Says Boycott of Israeli Goods "Illegal," But Paris Court Acquits More BDS Activists
French president-elect François Hollande has told a Jewish community publication that he opposes the boycott of Israeli goods, even apparently from Israeli settlements in occupied territories, and considers such boycotts “illegal.”
Hollande also promised to visit Israel as president and echoed hardline Israel lobby rhetoric about Iran.

His statements published Tribune Juive (Jewish Tribune) on 1 May contrast sharply with the decisions of French judges who on 3 May acquitted another group of French activists on charges related to calling for the boycott of Israeli goods.

In a significant victory for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement in France, the criminal court near Paris ruled that it cannot be deemed “incitement to discrimination” to call for the boycott of a state, as opposed to a specific population group.
On 6 May, Hollande defeated incumbent French President Nicholas Sarkozy, and will take office on 16 May.

Hollande “totally opposed to the boycott of Israeli goods”

Hollande’s comments came in an interview with Tribune Juive relevant sections of which I’ve translated:
Tribune Juive: Jean-Luc Mélenchon [leader of the Left Party] calls for the boycott of Israeli products that come from “occupied” territories, which would ruin the Palestinians that grow or make them and goes against the law. Are you going to make an alliance with all the parties of the left in order to achieve victory?
François Hollande: My project has been known since January, it has not changed, it is not modified to the circumstances and it will be applied. All voters who want to join me, all who want change are welcome, without negotiations, without bargaining. As for the rest, I am totally opposed to the boycott of Israeli goods, which is illegal and does not serve the cause of peace.
As for his approach to the situation in Palestine in general, Hollande offered a bland restatement of the failed peace process and two-state consensus, a clear indication that just as Obama followed Bush’s pro-Israel policies, Hollande will almost certainly follow those of Sarkozy and the EU in general.
Tribune Juive: You have still not traveled to Israel. If you are elected, will such a trip be part of your plans? What initiative can you suggest to revive the peace process?
François Hollande: Yes, this trip will be part of my plans. Everyone has known for decades the contours of peace between Israel and the Palestinians: two neighboring and sovereign states, where each respects the legitimacy of the other. The only question is to know how much time, that is to say how much suffering, how much mourning. In addition to the Israeli-Palestinian question, we must be very firm with regard to Iran whose nuclear program represents a life-threatening danger to Israel and to world peace.

Not “discrimination” to boycott Israel, court rules

Meanwhile, in contrast to Hollande’s claim that boycotting Israeli goods is “illegal,” four French BDS activists have been acquitted on charges of “incitement to discrimination, hate or violence” because they had participated in peaceful actions calling for such boycotts.

A 3 May email from Campagne BDS France said that on 15 March the prosecutor in the Paris suburb of Bobigny had “scandalously” requested sentences against the four ranging from suspended sentences of four months in prison and fines of 2000 euros.
However, the activists were acquitted. Agence France Presse reported on 4 May (my translation):
The Bobigny prosecutor said today that it has appealed the acquittal of four pro-Palestinian activists on trial for actions to boycott Israeli products in 2009 in supermarkets of the Paris suburb.
The four defendants were charged with “incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence.” They were acquitted today by the Bobigny criminal court. In its judgment, the court held that incitement to discrimination could only be applied to a population or a population group, and not to a state or the products of that state. This analysis is disputed by the prosecution, a judicial source said.
This legal victory follows a similar acquittal of 12 activists in the eastern French city of Mulhouse last December.

However, it is only the lastest in a series of trials aimed to suppress the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in France. Three more activists face trial in the southern city of Perpignan on 24 May.

French activists have developed a distinctive form of protest, undertaking deshelving actions at supermarkets all over the country to protest the sale of Israeli goods, especially those from illegal colonies in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli Court Rejects Appeal of Palestinian Hunger Strikers

UPDATE:  for more information about the hunger-strikers, read Linah Alsaafin's article in Electronic Intifada  -- Dying to Live:  The Stories of Our Hunger-strikers:
via Aletho News

Israel's Supreme Court has turned down an appeal requesting the release of two Palestinian prisoners, who have been on hunger strike for more than two months.

According to their lawyer, judges on Monday ruled that their hunger strike was not a reason to release them from administrative detention despite their being in life-threatening condition.

Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla began refusing food on February 29 in protest to their administrative detention, a controversial practice used by Tel Aviv, which allows Israeli authorities to hold people, mostly Palestinians, without charge or trial indefinitely.

Diab has been in custody for nine months while Halahla has been detained since June 2010.

"I believe what the court is doing here is trying to break the will of both prisoners so they will back down in their hunger strike," said their lawyer Jamil Khatib, adding that the two men, however, intend to "continue their strike to the end."

"Israeli courts do not handle administrative detention in a positive way. It shows that the intelligence services have the final word," he added.

The Israeli group Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has condemned the court's decision, describing it as "a death sentence" for both men.

An estimated 1,600 to 2,000 Palestinian prisoners, who began an open-ended hunger strike on April 17 to protest against Israel’s administrative detention rules, the use of solitary confinement, maltreatment of sick detainees, and difficulty in securing family visits and strip searches that are imposed on visitors.

According to an April 1, 2012 report published by the non-governmental Palestinian prisoner support and human rights association, Addameer, at least 4,610 “political” Palestinian prisoners are held in Israeli jails.

Addameer figures show 322 of the Palestinian prisoners are administrative detainees.

Independent sources, however, put the number of Palestinian inmates in Israeli jails at 11,000.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Seattle Voices of Palestine Spreads Word & Demands Freedom for Palestinian Political Prisoners -- 5/4/12

Join our educational vigils every 1st & 3rd Saturday, near Westlake Park, 4th & Pine, Seattle. 

And please join us next Sunday, May 13, 2012, from noon-5 p.m. at Westlake Park for Nakba Commemoration, Palestine Stolen Homeland.  For info, email:

The Constitution and the Camps - Due Process and the Japanese-American Internment by Matthew Shimura

Friday, May 04, 2012

US Should Return Stolen Land to Indian Tribes, Says United Nations -- Chris McGreal, Guardian

A United Nations investigator probing discrimination against Native Americans has called on the US government to return some of the land stolen from Indian tribes as a step toward combatting continuing and systemic racial discrimination.

James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said no member of the US Congress would meet him as he investigated the part played by the government in the considerable difficulties faced by Indian tribes.

Anaya said that in nearly two weeks of visiting Indian reservations, indigenous communities in Alaska and Hawaii, and Native Americans now living in cities, he encountered people who suffered a history of dispossession of their lands and resources, the breakdown of their societies and "numerous instances of outright brutality, all grounded on racial discrimination".

How did Quebec Students Mobilize Hundreds of Thousands for Strike? Real News

More at The Real News

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Medea Benjamin Demands Apology for Victims from War Criminal Brennan As He Defends Drones

ABC News "coverage" [no pun intended]:

Orwell Lives! Obama Converts May Day into Loyalty Day via Proclamation

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

Presidential Proclamation -- Loyalty Day, 2012


More than two centuries ago, our Founders laid out a charter that assured the rule of law and the rights of man. Through times of tranquility and the throes of change, the Constitution has always guided our course toward fulfilling that most noble promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve the chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. America has carried on not only for the skill or vision of history's celebrated figures, but also for the generations who have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears and true to our founding documents. On Loyalty Day, we reflect on that proud heritage and press on in the long journey toward prosperity for all.

In the years since our Constitution was penned and ratified, Americans have moved our Nation forward by embracing a commitment to each other, to the fundamental principles that unite us, and to the future we share. We weathered the storms of civil war and segregation, of conflicts that spanned continents. We overcame threats from within and without -- from the specter of fascism abroad to the bitter injustice of disenfranchisement at home. We upheld the spirit of service at the core of our democracy, and we widened the circle of opportunity not just for a privileged few, but for the ambitious many. Time and again, men and women achieved what seemed impossible by joining imagination to common purpose and necessity to courage. That legacy still burns brightly, and the ideals it embodies remain a light to all the world.

Countless Americans demonstrate that same dedication to country today. It endures in the hearts of all who put their lives on the line to defend the land they love, just as it moves millions to improve their communities through volunteerism and civic participation. Their actions help ensure prosperity for this generation and those yet to come, and they honor the immutable truths enshrined in our Nation's founding texts. On Loyalty Day, we rededicate ourselves to the common good, to the cornerstones of liberty, equality, and justice, and to the unending pursuit of a more perfect Union.

In order to recognize the American spirit of loyalty and the sacrifices that so many have made for our Nation, the Congress, by Public Law 85-529 as amended, has designated May 1 of each year as "Loyalty Day." On this day, let us reaffirm our allegiance to the United States of America, our Constitution, and our founding values.    [UPDATE FROM A FOUNDERAccording to James Madison, the purpose of the American State is "to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority."  Feeling any loyalty to that?]

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2012, as Loyalty Day. This Loyalty Day, I call upon all the people of the United States to join in support of this national observance, whether by displaying the flag of the United States or pledging allegiance to the Republic for which it stands.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.


Israel Killed 5, Incl. 4yo Child & Kidnapped 285 Palestinians in April

Via Saed Bannoura at IMEMC
& Aletho News 
Israeli soldiers shot and killed five Palestinians, including a 4 year old child, and kidnapped more than 285 Palestinians in April 2012 according to The International Solidarity Foundation for Human Rights (Tadamon).
File - Soldiers Kidnapping A Palestinian Child -
File - Soldiers Kidnapping A Palestinian Child -
The child, Aseel Ara’ra, 4, from Anata, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, was shot in the neck on October 25, 2011, and was left in a quadriplegic state before dying of her injuries last month.

The army shot and killed Hashem Misbah Sa’ad, 17, from ash-Shujaeyya neighbourhood, east of Gaza city, and separately Bilal Yousef As-Sa’ayda, 20, claiming that both young men approached the border fence.

Two more Palestinians were killed in the West Bank. One of the dead men, Rashad Shoukha, 28, was seriously wounded after the under-cover forces of the Israeli army broke into his home in Rammoun town, near Ramallah, and died of his wounds a week after he was injured. Fadi Zeitoun, from Beta village, near Nablus, was killed after a group of extremist settlers of the Yitzhar illegal settlement south of Nablus chased him with their guns while he was driving his tractor.

Israeli soldiers conducted dozens of invasions into the occupied territories in April, and kidnapped more than 285 residents, including dozens of women and children, and a number of former political prisoners who had previously spent years in Israeli prisons and detention centers. In the West Bank, soldiers kidnapped 45 children, and three female university students from the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

Tadamon attorney, researcher Ahmad Tubassy, strongly criticised the ongoing and escalating Israeli violations against the Palestinian people, especially the continuing violations against the political prisoners currently holding an open-ended hunger-strike and demanding their legitimate rights which are guaranteed under international Law.

He stated that targeting civilians, especially women and children, violates all international regulations, and the Fourth Geneva Convention to which Israel is a signatory.

May 1st and an Independent Workers Movement -- Leo Panitch & Sam Gindin on The Real News

More at The Real News

IDF Skunk Tank Crushed Under Feet of Palestinian Woman -- Solidarity w/Prisoners Outside Ofer Prison -- 5/1/2012

Flagwoman Rana Hamadeh climbs on top of an Israeli "skunk truck" during a protest outside
Ofer prison, May 1, 2012. (Photo: Abir Kopty)

May 1 Ofer Demonstration of Solidarity with Prisoners; IDF Attacks

Link to article: