Occupied Palestine, 27 December 2010 – On the morning of 27 December 2008 Israeli forces initiated a 23-day military offensive against the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip killing more than 1400 and injuring over 5000 Palestinians, predominantly civilians and refugees since 1948. Two years have passed and those responsible for the atrocities committed have not yet been held accountable. The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) calls on conscientious people and organizations around the world to step up efforts to end Israel’s long record of impunity through boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) until international law and Palestinian rights are upheld.
The UN Goldstone report -- endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council, UN General Assembly, European Parliament, Arab League, among others -- found serious evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated mainly by Israel against the occupied Palestinian population in Gaza. The findings of the Mission confirmed earlier investigations conducted by independent Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights organizations. The Goldstone report called for credible and independent investigation and prosecution of those responsible, and for reparations for the victims. It called upon the United Nations and its members to activate international judicial mechanisms, should domestic measures fail to meet the required international standards. In the two years since Israel's “Operation Cast Lead”, no effective judicial investigations have been conducted into the conflict, and Israel has refused to cooperate with the UN Fact Finding Mission. Referring to "structural flaws" in the so-called Israeli justice system, the Goldstone report concluded that Israel cannot be trusted to administer justice according to international standards1. In such situations, international law demands recourse to international judicial mechanisms. States blatantly shielding Israel from international legal scrutiny, chiefly the US and some European governments, have thwarted Palestinian recourse to international justice mechanisms, highlighting the need more than ever for intensifying the global BDS movement’s efforts to end Israel’s impunity and Western complicity in perpetuating it.
Violations of international law continue to this day, inter alia, through the continuing Israeli-imposed illegal siege of the Gaza Strip. Israel’s ongoing blockade of essential foods, construction supplies, as well as access to health and educational services is not only immoral; it is a severe form of collective punishment, a war crime that is strictly prohibited under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. It is inducing mass poverty, water contamination, environmental collapse, chronic diseases, economic devastation, and hundreds of deaths. This medieval, patently illegal siege, in its fourth year, against 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza has been squarely condemned by leading legal experts, including UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the oPt, Prof. Richard Falk, who described it as constituting "slow genocide." This is but a continuation of Israel’s brutal oppression of the Palestinian people, including their mass expulsion from their homes during the Nakba in 1948, military rule, occupation and colonization of their land, apartheid, and persistent denial of the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands and to receive reparations, as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
Following the massacre of humanitarian relief workers and activists aboard the Freedom Flotilla on 31 May 2010, Israel announced that it would “ease” the siege of Gaza. However, as a recent report2 by a coalition of leading humanitarian organizations concluded, “Israel has done just enough to ease the pressure on itself from the international community, but far too little to ease the restrictions on the daily lives of the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza.”
Cast Lead marked a turning point in public opinion reminiscent of the international reaction to the 1960 Sharpeville massacre in apartheid South Africa. Support for BDS has been growing at a spectacular rate around the world. Governments are finding it harder to justify policies that treat Israel as if it were above international law. Israel is increasingly seen as a pariah state. On the occasion of the second anniversary of Israel’s brutal aggression on Gaza, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee calls on:
- People of conscience around the world to intensify BDS efforts to hold Israel accountable and pressure their governments to immediately suspend arms trade with Israel, implement trade sanctions, and bring to justice all Israeli officials and military personnel who took the decision and/or implemented Israel’s massacre of Palestinians in Gaza.
- Civil society organizations -- including faith based groups, universities, trade unions, women’s associations, student groups, academic and professional associations, etc. -- to boycott Israeli goods and complicit institutions and to divest their own investment and pension funds of all stock in Israeli and international companies that are complicit in maintaining Israel's occupation, apartheid and violation of international law.
- Governments to respect their obligation to provide access to justice for the Palestinian victims via the United Nations and in domestic and international courts, and to impose pressure, including sanctions, on Israel to immediately end its illegal siege of the occupied Gaza Strip and to cease its policies of colonialism and apartheid that oppress the Palestinian people.
Without paying a price, Israel is very likely to continue on the path of massacres, forcible displacement, and construction of colonial settlements on occupied Palestinian land. On the second anniversary of the Gaza massacre, nothing can be more effective than creatively and persistently spreading and deepening BDS campaigns to hold Israel accountable. This is the shortest and most reliable path to justice, freedom, equal rights and sustainable peace.
Gaza Two Years Later: The Earth woke peacefully Dec 28, 2010 06:05 am | Mohammed Rabah Suliman
For the first time in twenty-two days the Earth woke up without a start. Even though the sky was spotted with a few randomly dispersed clouds, it was was bereft of the disturbing tones of the overhead drones which had now disappeared. The earth had woken peacefully, peacefully enough not to bear with the frighteningly gigantic burden of a new bomb to be dropped onto her surface bestowing on her some savagely massive shake. Peacefully enough not to endure the deafeningly immense sound of another bomb tearing down through its stratums. The earth had woken peacefully enough not to feign warm-heartedness as she embraces a new lifeless body laid into her deepness, and peacefully enough not to feel the insufferable pain of watching herself fight a losing battle against a huge bulldozer mercilessly extirpating a new sapling that had just issued from her sand. The earth had woken peacefully, and peace obviously had known its way through the countless bullets, rockets, mortars and bombs which had been horrifyingly raining on this part of the earth, and, it seemed, it had finally been able to guide itself through the jet-black darkness of the multiple graves. Peace, as far as one could tell, had flown out from the bottomless earth up to the very heights of the sky where the soaring birds could finally replace the awful scene of mighty jets and warplanes.
It, however, seemed to have been only yesterday. Life hasn’t yet acquired any sense of itself being a life to be joyously lived, cherished, appreciated… It is rather a life to be passed through disinterestedly, the winner of which is that who is plagued with the least amount of harm, stress, anger and humiliation. The presence of a war in my life has always been a needed source of underlying power and a paradoxically eye-opening experience to persist with my life and persevere its sardonically ruthless occurrences. Recalling its particularities has always made me think how playful and emotionlessly indifferent to mortifying injustice I was. Indeed, I was domesticated to accept it without even being conscious of the demeaning world I lived in, or even noticing the mere fact that I was subjected to a terribly base injustice. That was how I used to be before, and even during, the war that took place.
Two years later, when I look back on it now, I cannot but severely chide myself for the selfishly devised system by which I lived through the war. Though it spared my life and, and by sticking to its oppressive minutes, I was stopped from going mad, I was undoubtedly egoistical and awfully inconsiderate to the suffering of others. Not that I was not a direct victim of war, plagued with all sorts of traumatic suffering on top of my relentless psychological struggle. From 5:00 pm, the moment I was to be abandoned by everybody else (socializing in war was by far the best procedure everybody took up to survive together, and in case death was in prospect, die together), I left alone despairingly fighting back all vicious thoughts and images that assailed my already wearied mind. The would last until dawn when, consumed by fear and grief, I would fall asleep. This, however, never prevented my admonitory remarks on my being self-absorbed and wrapped up in that system of mine designed to help me make it through, in that I could have achieved more than just surviving. Retrospectively, shame and guilt are the ultimate outcome I am left with now. Nothing yet is so dear a blessing and more precious a gift than living through a war and surviving it. War and blood are inseparable; for, as humans, war has blood running in its veins: if you stop blood shedding, you kill war.
One of the most vivid memories of the war, like most of my other war memories, took place on the first day. Every moment was replete with thoughts, images, anecdotes, statistics which were to be an underlying motif of the ensuing days. In an upstairs room faintly lit with a candle, I along with two other friends, seated around a small table, listened apprehensively to the news on the radio (though I am not certain of it, but it seems to me it was Al-Shabab radio station). We unwisely started to speculate the right number of the dead victims of the first day. I was very infuriated and raged at the pessimistically “exaggerated” number of one of my fellows and the anxious state he precipitated in me with his “bad” speculations. I can still recall it with dispiriting clarity as though it was said just before an instant. He said it won’t less than 85. I was soon to find out that the actual number was vastly greater…
It was also on this day that I came to foresee the inexorable need to develop a stilted habit of "stay still" and "don’t duck". It was very tough on me since I simply needed to challenge the common rules of normal functioning. But, in our society, bold and virile, we looked at it quite differently since we were brought up to think that a man (a real man) should be not only courageous but completely fearless. You should either wholly “purge” yourself of any feelings of fear and cowardice, or else suppress them deep down and lock them up. He who discloses the least sign of fear—or as is the case with me—any fearful reaction is not a man. Once caught, he would soon be sneered and laughed at. And so I impotently trained myself not to produce any reaction whatsoever when the neighborhood was being blatantly bombarded. Each time we were in anticipation of a bomb, I had to play the scenario and hear the bomb tens of times in my mind before it took place in truth. For sure, that wasn’t less distressing than the bomb itself. There were times, however; when to my relief, I could detach myself from the group and “enjoy” the bomb as I could finally give way to my suppressed fear.
Though despicable and unimportant, such a prosaic and politically eventful life is all we have to give today for those who had given it already. It was rather maliciously stolen from them in an unguarded moment, but they are gone. And what we’re left with, besides the poignantly lifeless present is their memories: a mother sniffing the scarf of her eldest son; a father hopelessly clinging to the images of his little playful daughter down the corridor to the home, a sister gulping back her tears as she leafs through her siblings’ album, a young man walking down the same street by himself without his friend, a schoolboy averting his eye’s from the vacant seat on his side…
Today we honor these memories and cherish them. Today we recall them in each chaotic sound a machinery produces, in each teacher’s whip of a loitering student, in each honk of a peddler’s cart, in each driver’s curse of the very doctor who delivered him to life, in each of my father’s moments, a state employee, as he counts the days separating him from 5th of the next month, and in each prayer an old woman utters after midnight.
Today we remain true to their memories as we swear to hang on to our sacred message of the olive branch. To grow it anew each time a mindless man comes along to extirpate it. To boldly refuse injustice and oppression. To say “No!” at the top of our lungs when our voices are stifled. To never despair and keep on trying to break free of the tyrannical manacles placed around our hands and legs. To cuddle the sand and tightly embrace the oranges when we’re separated. Today, we whisper to them in our prayers an oath of allegiance: allegiance to none but the land: we either live on this land or die on it.
In memory of all the victims of the Gaza War 2008/2009
Mohammed Rabah Suliman, 21, is a student of English Literature at the Islamic University of Gaza. Gaza Two Years Lateris a series of posts by Gazan bloggers and writers reflecting on the two-year anniversary of the Israeli attack on Gaza in the winter of 2008/09. You can read the entire series here.
Gaza Two Years Later: In wars Dec 28, 2010 06:04 am | Lina Al-Sharif
In wars, you know…
You know what is it like
that the very next moment
and your blood is a headline
a number added…to the many who died…
In wars, you feel
that a smile
is of thousands of tears
A smile becomes a need
In wars, you realize
that safety is ,
when you hug your mom
In wars, dawn is a sign
a sign of survival,
a sign that you are still alive
5 pm, sundown,
the drums of death
begins to sound…
Strangers weep through waves
then Children, women… bodies
then exploding silence…
In wars, you pray
not exactly sure what you pray for
to live…to survive
or to join the dead who saw the end of the war
or pray for hope against hope
But when You pray…
and you feel it’s echoing in heavens…
as you kneel before God,
You know that He’s the only one who’s listening…
In wars, you’re affirmed
that cowards, hypocrites,
Will always turn their backs on you
In wars, you’re affirmed, too
that when politicians fail
thousands of people would stand for you…
In wars, you wish
Wish from your very heart,
that you don’t live to witness
your family or friends die
You wish you die alone..
or you die all…
but never..to live by your own
In wars, you learn
what hate, what blindness
what arrogance, what ignorance
In wars, you are
a human with a heart and mind…
a human whose humanity is pending on decisions to be ratified
You are a human, struggling
to live in peace…to be recognized
You are a human, whose steadfastness
is tank proof, armed with olives…
In wars, you are a human…
You are Palestine…
Lina Al-Sharif, 22, studies English literature at the Islamic University in Gaza. She blogs at http://livefromgaza.wordpress.com/. Gaza Two Years Lateris a series of posts by Gazan bloggers and writers reflecting on the two-year anniversary of the Israeli attack on Gaza in the winter of 2008/09. You can read the entire series here.
Jonathan Pollak sentenced to 3 months in prison; tells judge ‘I’ll go to prison with my head held high’ Dec 28, 2010 06:03 am | Seham
And other news from Today in Palestine:
Settlers/ Land, Property, Resource Theft & Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing Settlers torch fields near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma’an) -- Local officials in Madama village, south of Nablus, said Monday that dozens Israeli settlers from the nearby Yitzhar settlement were behind the torching of agricultural lands and an attack on a farmer. Village council member Hasan Ziyada said locals counted 37 settlers in all, in four separate groups, harassing farmers in the Ein Ash-Sha’ira area to the south of the village. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=345879
Some 7,000 Palestinians immigrate annually
Some 7,000 Palestinians immigrate each year, most of them youths, Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) said in a report on Monday. Between 2005 and 2009, some 23,000 Palestinians left the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to seek work, education and better life, the report said. One third of the immigrants age between 15 and 29. They prefer going to Jordan, Gulf countries and the United States. More than four million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, according to an earlier report by the PCBS.
Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions Weekly Anti-Wall Protest Update
Dec 27, 2010-- Protests against the Wall this week commemorated Christmas, and most featured several Santas. Occupation forces, not moved by the Christmas spirit, responded to the demonstrations with force. In addition to gassing protestors, soldiers shot one demonstrator with rubber bullets 13 times in an Nabi Saleh.
Second prison term for conscientious objector Ajuad Zidan
CO Ajuad Zidan, 18, from the town of Beit Jann, a Palestinian member of the Druze religious community, was sentenced to 20 days of imprisonment on 14 Dec for his refusal to enlist in the Israeli military. This is his second term in prison ... Members of the Druze community, unlike most other Palestinian citizens of Israel, are conscripted into the Israeli army. Explaining his refusal to enlist Ajuad Zidan stated to the press that “the loneliness of the prison cell is one thousand times better than standing in front of my people while pointing a gun at them, or imposing a curfew on them”. http://www.newprofile.org/english/?p=340
Protest in Seattle over controversial bus ads
On the day controversial anti-Israel bus ads were intended to appear, they didn't, but the group behind them did, staging a protest in downtown Seattle. About 70 protestors, some of their faces hidden by white masks streaked with red tears, marched to a drumbeat through downtown Seattle on the anniversary of Israel's 2008 offensive against Gaza.
Right wing MK visit sparks Silwan clashes
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- With orders for the evacuation of an illegal settler home in Silwan pending, right wing MKs and an accompanying delegation entered the East Jerusalem neighborhood in a show of support. Officials from the area's Wad Helwa Information Center said the MKs were from the orthodox Shas party, and were accompanied by a heightened police presence in the sector, which saw streets cut off, checkpoints erected and tensions rise. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=345907
Detainees Youth arrested in massive dawn raid on Silwan
Israeli police stormed Silwan in a dawn raid this morning, arresting at least 5 children. At least 3 of those arrested are reported to be boys aged 11, 13 and 14 years. Large forces of police raided the homes of the boys, who were seized and transferred to a Jerusalem police station. A high presence of police currently remains in Silwan. http://silwanic.net/?p=9738
Six Fishermen Kidnapped Near Israeli Shore
Israeli military sources reported on Monday at night that six Palestinian fishermen were detained by the Navy after their approached an Israeli shore close to the northern part of the Gaza Strip.
Egypt Uncovers Weapons In Sinai
Egypt announced that its security forces located a large weapons storage facility in the Sinai Desert, and stated that the weapons were meant to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip.
War Crimes Rallies in Gaza mark war anniversary
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- At least 1,000 people attended a rally organized by the Islamic Jihad movement, chanting for continued "resistance" against Israel as Jabaliya residents, in an area just north of Gaza City, marked the anniversary of the start of Israel's last war on Gaza. Mourners gathered at the entrance of Ezbat Abed Rabu, a neighborhood almost obliterated during the bombing two years earlier, and were dozens of homes remain flattened, with owners unable to rebuild as the economy flat lines and building materials remain unattainable due to the Israeli blockade. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=345884
Palestinians still await reconstructing homes as Gaza war marks 2nd anniversary
GAZA, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- On Dec. 27 of 2008, Israel launched the 22-day deadly "Cast Lead" operation in the Gaza Strip, during which intensive airstrikes and ground operations left severe ruins and destruction, in addition to killing more than 1,400 Palestinians. Two months after the war ended, the world's donors pledged 7 billion U.S. dollars to reconstruct the Gaza Strip. But although two whole years have passed, the Gazans are still waiting for the reconstruction of their homes with hopes that become dimmer and dimmer as time goes by.
Two Years after the Massacre: A Letter from Gaza, Various Authors - Gaza, Palestine
We the Palestinians of the besieged Gaza Strip, on this day, two years on from Israel's genocidal attack on our families, our houses, our roads, our factories and our schools, are saying enough inaction, enough discussion, enough waiting – the time is now to hold Israel to account for its ongoing crimes against us. On the 27th of December 2008, Israel began an indiscriminate bombardment of the Gaza Strip. The assault lasted 22 days, killing 1,417 Palestinians, 352 of them children, according to main-stream Human Rights Organizations. For a staggering 528 hours, Israeli Occupation Forces let loose their US-supplied F15s, F16s, Merkava Tanks, internationally prohibited White Phosphorous, and bombed and invaded the small Palestinian coastal enclave that is home to 1.5 million, of whom 800,000 are children and over 80 percent UN registered refugees. Around 5,300 remain permanently wounded. http://palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=16513
After two years, war looming in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Two years have passed since Israel's war on the Gaza Strip, and the people are still bleeding. Its homes have not been reconstructed yet, while young and old continue to hear the thunder of Israeli tanks, and the whizzing of missiles as the detonate in fields and government police stations. But despite this, despite the continued blockade, and despite the latest threats by Israeli generals to launch another "Operation Cast Lead" against Gaza, we have not fallen to our knees. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=345768
Remembering Cast Lead and Israeli PR Equations
Today marks the two-year anniversary of the start of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, a 22-day onslaught in which Palestinian civilians perished at a rate of approximately 400: 1 vis-à-vis their Israeli counterparts. I happened to be in Argentina during this particular conflict and was thus able to monitor how well the Israeli embassy and Jewish organizations in Buenos Aires complied with the orders from acting Israeli Prime Minister Tzipi Livni, who had called for an intensified global public relations campaign in order to counteract the fact that “[u]nfortunately, some of the world’s decision makers are swayed by public opinion and the media”. In response to a march in Buenos Aires in support of the Palestinians being slaughtered in Gaza, a pro-Israel “counter-march” was promptly organized. Defying the traditional definition of “march”, it consisted of a closed-to-the-public meeting at the AMIA Jewish cultural association—site of a deadly bombing in 1994, the alleged Iranian perpetration of which Israel insists on passing off as fact, presumably in order to justify a disproportionate response at some point in the future. Parts of the meeting were televised, such as the speech by Israeli ambassador to Argentina Daniel Gazit in which he claimed that, had the IDF done even one-fourth or one-eighth of what the world had accused it of doing in Gaza, the war would have been won in a day. http://pulsemedia.org/2010/12/27/remembering-cast-lead-and-israeli-pr-equations/
Jordan Islamists urge Palestinians to quit talks
AMMAN: Jordan's powerful Islamist opposition urged the Palestinian Authority yesterday to "completely abandon" peace talks with Israel, calling for jihad against the Jewish state. "We demand that the Palestinian Authority completely abandon negotiations, which only provide cover and time for Israel to seize more land and evict more people," the Islamist Action Front (IAF) said on its website.
Israel silent as more countries recognize independent Palestinian state
JERUSALEM, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- After the breakdown of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations in September and the inability of the U.S. administration to restart them, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) has advanced its policy of asking countries around the world for their recognition of an independent Palestinian state. So far five South American countries, namely Argentine, Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay and Paraguay, have offered letters announcing their intention to recognize an independent Palestinian state in 2011, regardless of the outcome of the currently frozen negotiations.
Israel mulls stopping wave of Palestinian statehood recognition
JERUSALEM, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- In the wake of recent announcements by several Latin American countries that declared recognition of a Palestinian state, Israel is attempting to prevent Chile and Mexico from following suit. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conversed with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera last week, asking that he refrain from announcing recognition of Palestinian statehood. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon had relayed a message to that effect to his Mexican counterpart, Lourdes Aranda, local Hebrew-daily Ma'ariv reported Monday.
Netanyahu 'interim' deal blasted by Palestinians
JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that an "interim agreement" with the Palestinians could be a solution if efforts to clinch a comprehensive peace accord fail. But his suggestion was swiftly rejected by the Palestinians who insisted on an overall agreement that would take into account the fate of Palestinian refugees and the thorny issue of Jerusalem. "There could be an situation in which talks with the Palestinians hit a brick wall over the issues of Jerusalem and the right of return (of refugees), and in that case the result would be an interim agreement," Netanyahu said in an interview on Channel 10 private television.
Are Palestinians not Jerusalem residents, too?
According to any measure - the potential for violence, the mutual hatred, the different needs - if it's desirable to separate students from the Haredi residents of Mea She'arim, how much more should the activist group Ateret Cohanim be separated from the Palestinian residents of Silwan?
Peace on Earth, Even in Palestine, Mazin Qumsiyeh
It has been some 130 years since the first European Jewish settlement was established with the explicit aim of taking over the country. The few thousand native Palestinian (Arab) Jews did not support Zionism. Christians and Muslims resisted it over the decades mostly by non-violent popular resistance as I detailed in my just released book “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of Hope and Empowerment”. This popular resistance included at least 15 waves of uprisings called intifada’s in the past few decades. The results of both the violent colonial settler activity and the resistance to it have been mixed. http://palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=16514
Lebanon Report: New Espionage Devices Dismantled, Suspected Spies Arrested
27/12/2010 The Lebanese army intelligence has reportedly dismantled espionage devices in the area of Tawmat Niha in the Shouf mountains and arrested three suspected spies. An Nahar daily said Monday that the army dismantled the equipment in cooperation with Hezbollah. However, no official statement was made pending further investigation. Other media reports said the newly discovered devices allow Israel to monitor the Bekaa valley and coastal areas from Sidon all the way to Jbeil. Earlier in the month, the army said it dismantled two espionage devices that Israel had placed on top of Mount Sannine, northeast of Beirut, and the Barouk Mountain, east of the capital. On the suspected Mossad agents, An Nahar said one of those arrested last week was from the Sheikh family and had recently arrived to Lebanon from Canada. He reportedly visits Lebanon frequently.
Wikileaks/U.S. and other world news WikiLeaks founder baffled by sex assault claims
ONE of the women claiming she was sexually assaulted by Julian Assange took a "trophy photo" of him lying naked in her bed, he says.
Julian Assange: Man of the Decade
This week will end 2010, the capstone year on a decade of profound change and turmoil and bloodshed – of moral and political lows, of war and ever-elusive peace, of rapidly degrading individual freedoms in favor of national and global “security.”
US Kills 24 People In Pakistan
At least 25 people were killed in three U.S. drone strikes launched on Monday in Pakistan's northwest tribal area of North Waziristan, reported local media.
Gibbs: Indefinite Terrorist Detentions Regrettable, Politico
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs says it's unfortunate that some terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay need to be held indefinitely without trial.
Israel’s damage to ‘American interests is incalculable’ — Shlaim in ‘The Hill’ of all places Dec 27, 2010 10:27 pm | Philip Weiss
Oh my, The Hill is getting religion. Avi Shlaim on the Israel lobby. He doesn't even live here, but he understands what's going on. Notice the arguments that realists Chas Freeman and Mearsheimer & Walt and Desch and McConnell have all made before Shlaim. The English left has no difficulty seeing the problem; it is the American left that is incapable of the most vital task before it, making neoconservative a dirty word. And it can't do this work because there are neocons in the family:
The American-Israeli special relationship is a classic example of the tail that wags the dog. As a result of its palpable partiality towards Israel, America has lost all credibility in the eyes not only of the Palestinians but of the wider Arab and Muslim worlds....
Obama’s position is pusillanimous and, for a superpower, indescribably feeble. Instead of leaning on the stronger party, he presses the weaker party to make more and more concessions....
The damage that Israel causes to American interests is incalculable. During the Cold War Israel was a strategic asset for America. Today it is a political, diplomatic, and strategic liability. The neoconservatives never tire of telling us that the American and the Israeli national interests are identical. Anyone who believes that would believe anything. An argument can be made that the occupation of the West Bank serves the Israeli national interest, though I would dispute that. However, the argument that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank serves the American national interest is simply preposterous....
Congress is sometimes described as Israeli-occupied territory. With such an ineffectual president in the White House, it is likely to take longer to liberate Congress than to liberate the Palestinian territories.
We the Palestinians of the Besieged Gaza Strip, on this day, two years on from Israel's genocidal attack on our families, our houses, our roads, our factories and our schools, are saying enough inaction, enough discussion, enough waiting – the time is now to hold Israel to account for its ongoing crimes against us. On the 27th of December 2008, Israel began an indiscriminate bombardment of the Gaza Strip. The assault lasted 22 days, killing 1,417 Palestinians, 352 of them children, according to main-stream Human Rights Organizations. For a staggering 528 hours, Israeli Occupation Forces let loose their US-supplied F15s, F16s, Merkava Tanks, internationally prohibited White Phosphorous, and bombed and invaded the small Palestinian coastal enclave that is home to 1.5 million, of whom 800,000 are children and over 80 percent UN registered refugees. Around 5,300 remain permanently wounded.
This devastation exceeded in savagery all previous massacres suffered in Gaza, such as the 21 children killed in Jabalia in March 2008 or the 19 civilians killed sheltering in their house in the Beit Hanoun Massacre of 2006. The carnage even exceeded the attacks in November 1956 in which Israeli troops indiscriminately rounded up and killed 275 Palestinians in the Southern town of Khan Younis and 111 more in Rafah.
Since the Gaza massacre of 2009, world citizens have undertaken the responsibility to pressure Israel to comply with international law, through a proven strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions. As in the global BDS movement that was so effective in ending the apartheid South African regime, we urge people of conscience to join the BDS call made by over 170 Palestinian organizations in 2005. As in South Africa the imbalance of power and representation in this struggle can be counterbalanced by a powerful international solidarity movement with BDS at the forefront, holding Israeli policy makers to account, something the international governing community has repeatedly failed to do. Similarly, creative civilian efforts such as the Free Gaza boats that broke the siege five times, the Gaza Freedom March, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and the many land convoys must never stop their siege-breaking, highlighting the inhumanity of keeping 1.5 million Gazans in an open-air prison.
Two years have now passed since Israel’s gravest of genocidal acts that should have left people in no doubt of the brutal extent of Israel’s plans for the Palestinians. The murderous navy assault on international activists aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in the Mediterranean Sea magnified to the world the cheapness Israel has assigned to Palestinian llife for so long. The world knows now, yet two years on nothing has changed for Palestinians.
The Goldstone Report came and went: despite its listing count after count of international law contraventions, Israeli “war crimes” and “possible crimes against humanity,” the European Union, the United Nations, the Red Cross, and all major Human Rights Organizations have called for an end to the illegal, medieval siege, it carries on unabated. On 11th November 2010 UNRWA head John Ging said, “There's been no material change for the people on the ground here in terms of their status, the aid dependency, the absence of any recovery or reconstruction, no economy…The easing, as it was described, has been nothing more than a political easing of the pressure on Israel and Egypt.”
On the 2nd of December, 22 international organizations including Amnesty, Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid, and Medical Aid for Palestinians produced the report 'Dashed Hopes, Continuation of the Gaza Blockade’ calling for international action to force Israel to unconditionally lift the blockade, saying the Palestinians of Gaza under Israeli siege continue to live in the same devastating conditions. Only a week ago Human Rights Watch published a comprehensive report "Separate and Unequal" that denounced Israeli policies as Apartheid, echoing similar sentiments by South African anti-apartheid activists.
We Palestinians of Gaza want to live at liberty to meet Palestinian friends or family from Tulkarem, Jerusalem or Nazareth; we want to have the right to travel and move freely. We want to live without fear of another bombing campaign that leaves hundreds of our children dead and many more injured or with cancers from the contamination of Israel’s white phosphorous and chemical warfare. We want to live without the humiliations at Israeli checkpoints or the indignity of not providing for our families because of the unemployment brought about by the economic control and the illegal siege. We are calling for an end to the racism that underpins all this oppression.
We ask: when will the world’s countries act according to the basic premise that people should be treated equally, regardless of their origin, ethnicity or colour – is it so far-fetched that a Palestinian child deserves the same human rights as any other human being? Will you be able to look back and say you stood on the right side of history or will you have sided with the oppressor?
We, therefore, call on the international community to take up its responsibility to protect the Palestinian people from Israel’s heinous aggression, immediately ending the siege with full compensation for the destruction of life and infrastructure visited upon us by this explicit policy of collective punishment. Nothing whatsoever justifies the intentional policies of savagery, including the severing of access to the water and electricity supply to 1.5 million people. The international conspiracy of silence towards the genocidal war taking place against the more than 1.5 million civilians in Gaza indicates complicity in these war crimes.
We also call upon all Palestine solidarity groups and all international civil society organizations to demand:
- An end to the siege that has been imposed on the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a result of their exercise of democratic choice.
- The protection of civilian lives and property, as stipulated in International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law such as The Fourth Geneva Convention.
- The immediate release of all political prisoners.
- That Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip be immediately provided with financial and material support to cope with the immense hardship that they are experiencing.
- An end to occupation, Apartheid and other war crimes.
- Immediate reparations and compensation for all destruction carried out by the Israeli Occupation Forces in the Gaza Strip.
Boycott Divest and Sanction, join the many International Trade Unions, Universities, Supermarkets and artists and writers who refuse to entertain Apartheid Israel. Speak out for Palestine, for Gaza, and crucially ACT. The time is now.
Besieged Gaza, Palestine
List of signatories:
General Union for Public Services Workers
General Union for Health Services Workers
University Teachers' Association
Palestinian Congregation for Lawyers
General Union for Petrochemical and Gas Workers
General Union for Agricultural Workers
Union of Women’s Work Committees
Union of Synergies—Women Unit
The One Democratic State Group
Arab Cultural Forum
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel
Association of Al-Quds Bank for Culture and Info
Palestine Sailing Federation
Palestinian Association for Fishing and Maritime
Palestinian Network of Non-Governmental Organizations
Palestinian Women Committees
Progressive Students’ Union
Medical Relief Society
The General Society for Rehabilitation
General Union of Palestinian Women
Afaq Jadeeda Cultural Centre for Women and Children
Deir Al-Balah Cultural Centre for Women and Children
Israeli activist sentenced to 3 months in prison for protesting Gaza war Dec 27, 2010 12:01 pm | Joseph Dana
Jonathan Pollak in a Tel Aviv Court Room 27.12.10, wearing a Biko t-shirt (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Of all the criminals involved with the 2008 Gaza war, an Israeli leftist will be going to jail for riding his bike against the war in Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv Magistrates court judge Yitzhak Yitzhak convicted Israeli leftist Jonathan Pollak of illegal assembly for his participation in a January 2008 Critical Mass ride against the siege on Gaza and then sentenced him to three months imprisonment that will begin on January 11th, 2011. Pollak was the only one detained at the said protest, and was accused of doing nothing other than riding his bicycle in the same manner as the rest of the protesters. The conviction activates an older three-month suspended sentence imposed on Pollak in a previous trial for protesting the construction of the Separation Barrier. An additional three month prison term was also imposed for the current conviction, which will be served concurrently. His imprisonment is part of a clear strategy of silencing dissent in the Israeli left.
Jonathan Pollak is one of the founders of the Israeli left group “Anarchists Against the Wall” which join weekly unarmed Palestinian protests throughout the West Bank against the Separation Wall and the Occupation. Since 2008, he has served the media coordinator of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, an Palestinian umbrella organization designed to garner media attention for the unarmed struggle in the West Bank. On his conviction, Pollak argued for his sentence, saying “I find myself unable to express remorse in this case … If His Honor decides to go ahead and impose my suspended prison sentence, I will go to prison wholeheartedly and with my head held high. It will be the justice system itself, I believe, that ought to lower its eyes in the face of the suffering inflicted on Gaza’s inhabitants, just like it lowers its eyes and averts its vision each and every day when faced with the realities of the occupation.”
On January 31, 2008, some thirty Israeli protesters participated in a Critical Mass bicycle ride through the streets of Tel Aviv against the siege on Gaza. During the protest, Pollak was arrested by plain-clothes police who recognized him from previous protests and because, as claimed in court, they assumed he was the organizer and figurehead of the event. The protest was allowed to continue undisturbed after Pollak’s arrest and ended with no further incidents or detentions.
The arrest and subsequent indictment appears to be the result of police vindictiveness, rather than of Pollak’s behavior at the time of the event; Pollak was but one in a group of protesters who behaved exactly like him, yet he was the only one to be singled out. Moreover, environmental Critical Mass events take place in Tel Aviv on a regular basis, but have never been met with such a response. Other protests, which have caused far more severe obstruction of traffic (e.g. the motorcade protest of thousands of motorcycles) did not result in arrests, and surely did not lead to the filing of criminal charges and imprisonment.
According to Pollak’s lawyer, Adv. Gaby Lasky, “The police not only singled out Pollak from a crowd of people who all did exactly as he did, but also singled out the entire protest for no reason other than its political alignment. Similar events regularly take place in Tel Aviv without police intervention, let alone arrests and indictments.”
During the trial, an Israeli supporter of Pollak was violently removed from the courthouse for wearing a shirt that said “there is no pride in occupation.” After the verdict was handed down, supporters began chanting in the courtroom against Israeli fascism and the occupation. They were forcibly removed one by one from the courthouse and subsequently held a demonstration on the sidewalk.
Despite clear evidence of Israeli wrongdoing in the course of the Gaza war, the only Israeli sentenced to jail so far is a leftist who choose to ride his bike through Tel Aviv in non-violent protest. The state of Israel sent a clear message with this verdict: that it will not tolerate dissent from the left. In fact, the state persecutor asked for a severe sentence in order to ‘make an example out of Pollak and those who engage in similar anti-occupation work.” Pollak said that he will continue to work with Palestinians against the occupation and repeatedly cited the much harsher verdicts given to Palestinians involved in non-violent protests against the occupation. The only remorse that he showed was that he did not do enough to express dissent about the siege of Gaza. If riding peacefully riding a bike against violent aggression is a crime, Pollak said that we will happily go to jail. The fragility of Israeli democracy is on full display when one of its privileged sons can’t even ride a bike in protest of an aggressive and violet war on a besieged people.
What rough beast slouches towards East Jerusalem? Dec 27, 2010 10:14 am | Philip Weiss
There's an astonishing series of photos by Ammar Awad of Reuters of a child's arrest in East Jerusalem for alleged stonethrowing, now up at the MSNBC blog. Please go look at all of them, including the boy being torn from his father, and tell me what your conscience says to you. Katie Cannon of MSNBC writes, sensibly, "Guilty or not, it would be terribly hard to see a child in one's family be taken away by authorities." Are you rising from your sleep, America?
Week of international solidarity actions in the West Bank is one sign ‘things are coming to a head’ Dec 27, 2010 09:22 am | Adam Horowitz
Ahmed Moor sent the following report from the West Bank:
It's hard to describe the atmosphere here today. Traveling back and forth between the West Bank and Israel I get the sense that things are coming apart, or coming to a head. There's a kinetic feeling all around when I'm outside downtown Ramallah (indeed, downtown Ramallah is the only place I don't feel it).
After reading the news yesterday morning I jumped on a bus from Ramallah to Jerusalem to cover what was happening in Silwan. The bus was stopped at the Qalandia "checkpoint" - really a massive racial filtration terminal - because of a protest organized by a group of internationals (mostly French people). I participated for about forty-five minutes before I looped back and around to Jerusalem. Before I went I got some video of the first scuffles (the ghetto walls in the video above are a part of the "checkpoint"). Nine activists were later arrested by the occupation forces. These kinds of confrontations are happening everywhere.
Outside Ramallah, Palestinian resistance is strong, tenacious and determined. The youth of Silwan, Nabi Salih and Hebron are fearless and brazen in the face of an angry, half-hearted occupation force. I get the sense (after arguing with soldiers in Hebron) that many of the soldier-boys who've surrendered themselves to Eichmannesque rationalizations ("We're following orders") lack both ideology and morality; they're hollow people. The others - like one of the soldier-boys in Hebron - are filled with race-pride and rage, eager to kill to "defend" the Jews - those are their words, not mine. All of the soldier-boys believed that they'd been profoundly wronged somehow.
Frankly, I'm worried. Israel is undeniably a fascist state today. It's not on the road to fascism; we're here. After attending the Bat Yam rally, seeing the racism and hatred everywhere in Israel firsthand, and aggressively interrogating the views of the fascist kids in uniform, I'm worried about what the occupation will do to the Palestinians. I wonder how far they're willing to take this and I'm filled with foreboding.
The protest at Qalandia was part of a week of "International Solidarity Actions with the Palestinian People of Jerusalem." Hamde Abu Rahme sent the following summary of some of the actions:
In Bil’in about 100 hundred people, including citizens of Bil'in, International activists from the French group 'Euro Palestine', members of the Popular Committees of Bil'in and Ni'in, the Popular Resistance Movement of An Nabi Saleh, as well as representatives from the Office of International Relations of the Fatah Movement - Mr. Jamil Barghouti and Mohammad Shannan, participated in the planting of Olive trees on land targeted by Israel for Wall and settlement expansion. The event was organized by the Popular Committee Against the Wall and the village of Bil'in.
At 3:30 pm participants carried olive trees and farming tools in a massive march toward village land that is still threatened to be confiscated . The demonstrators planted olive trees in spite of the strong presence of the Israeli military. When people tried to plant trees close to the wall, Israeli soldiers opened fire and shot dozens of tear gas canisters in the midst of the demonstrators. This led to a violent army confrontation against the demonstrators. Tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets were used in order to intimidate the demonstrators. Several people who suffered from the effects of inhaling tear gas had to be treated in the field.
International Solidarity Week with the Palestinian People of Jerusalem:
Political Gathering Held in Bil’in
The Popular Committee Against the Wall organized a political gathering this evening in the local Council’s Hall in Bil’in village. Many foreign solidarity activists attended the meeting, especially from the group 'Euro Palestine', as well as members from several West Bank Popular Committees.
Maher Ghoneim, the Popular Commitees’ Minister against the Wall and Settlements, and Dr. Hossam Zomlot, representative of the Office of International Relations of the Fatah movement, spoke about the current situation and welcomed the international solidarity.
They talked about the sacrifices and suffering of Palestinian people in their struggle against the occupation, and about the resistance against it by the popular struggle of Bil'in.
In his speech Maher Ghoneim called out to Internationals and Palestinians to join the popular struggle and support the steadfast resistance of the people struggling on a daily basis against the many injustices of life under Israeli occupation. The reality of the life for Palestinian citizens in occupied Jerusalem was illustrated in a power point photo presentation.
International Solidarity Week with the Palestinian People of Jerusalem:
Demonstration Near Qalandiya Checkpoint
The Popular Committee of Qalandiya along with the support of the greater Popular Committee Against the Wall, held a large demonstration near the Qalandiya Checkpoint today. The checkpoint is the main entrance to the city of Jerusalem. It is used everyday by hundreds if not thousands of West Bank Palestinian residents en route to school, work, medical facilities, and family who live in Jerusalem.
The demonstration started at 9:30am and was attended by about 100 Palestinians and international supporters. The demonstrators marched toward the main gate, and then gained access into the area within the checkpoint that is used for inspection of people traveling to and from Jerusalem. There they were confronted by the Israeli Military, which tried to prevent them from entering. This led to violent clashes and finally resulted in the arrest of Al Mahmoud, a reporter from Al-Quds Newspaper, and nine international solidarity activists. Demonstrators sat down in front of the gate, which was closed by the army. Soldiers used tear gas in order to dissolve the demonstration.
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