Όχι, No!

Despite all the threats and propaganda, last night the people of Greece won! And opened some new doors for the rest of us. New post over at http://michaelriordon.com/blog/.

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The view from where I live: a new blog/website

Maybe you’ve noticed, it’s been quiet around here for awhile. Or maybe it’s been so quiet, you didn’t notice.

2008_1116Image0009 crop

The reason: Recently I launched a new website and blog. It’s here: http://michaelriordon.com/.

With creative help from Jess Posgate, finally it pulls together into one tidy place a maze of websites and blogs that have built up over the years, representing a range of my interests and work.

As the new site’s subtitle suggests – “the view from where I live” – it will still represent my work, but now it’s spectrum is broader, especially on the blog. As my work does, it will range far and wide.

This morning, for example, I put up a post about tomorrow’s crucial referendum in Greece. The blog is here: http://michaelriordon.com/blog/.

Come on over for a visit.

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Freedom Theatre under attack – again

In the early hours of March 19, Israeli soldiers took Mustafa Sheta from his home.  Sheta’s arrest came a few days before the Freedom Theatre’s annual General Assembly in Jenin.

Mustafa Sheta, Freedom TheatreThis is the latest in a long series of assaults by the Israeli occupation forces on personnel of the Freedom Theatre, a vibrant cultural centre in the Jenin refugee camp.

Thirty-five, father of three children, Mustafa Sheta is secretary of the Theatre’s board. He is also a researcher and journalist, with a well-known commitment to social and humanitarian activism. He works with the United Nations, and is currently studying for a Masters degree.  Recently he won an honours award and plans to pursue further studies in London, England later this spring.

“Since Mustafa joined the board last year he has been a tremendous resource for the theatre”, says Jonatan Stanczak, managing director of The Freedom Theatre. “His dedication, involvement and communication skills have meant a lot to us.  We are doing all we can to follow his case.  Until recently there was no information at all available but we just learned that there will be a court hearing in a few days.”

For more on Freedom Theatre programs, go here.

For a vivid portrait of the Freedom Theatre in action, see Our Way to Fight, chapter 2.

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Israel: the morning after

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu gestures to supporters at party headquarters in Tel Aviv

Two Jewish responses to yesterday’s elections in Israel.  Both are published on Mondoweiss, March 18, 2015.

Netanyahu won.  Now what?  Avigail Abarbanel.

Who can save Israel now?  Philip Weiss.

Avigail Abarbanel: “The message to those of us who support the Palestinians is to get ready to escalate our support. It is about to get very very tough.”

BDS: more than ever, the best chance for real change.

 

 

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“Israel has always been crazy”

Cutting through the white noise of relentless propaganda, impressive plain-speaking from Jewish psychotherapist Avigail Abarbanel, born and raised in Israel, now living in Scotland.  It’s her response to Phil Weiss’s editorial [Psst! Is Israel Going Crazy? in which Weiss details the bizarre source of recent photo-shopped Nazified images of Israeli leaders]. December 2, 2014, on Mondoweiss.

Avigail AbarbanelAvigail Abarbanel

“It’s not a big claim to fame but I have been saying for years that Israeli society is crazy.  I escaped from Israel largely because of that…

“Phil Weiss’s analysis  is correct except for one point, and that is that those sentiments he describes have always been there.  It’s not like it’s something new that just sprang up recently.  I have grown up with this all around me. I recognise the language. I was brought up (I was born in 1964) to believe that the ‘Arabs’ (the word ‘Palestinian’ was largely not used in my childhood) could not be trusted, that ‘they’ are not like ‘us’, that they are treacherous and would stab me in the back if I relaxed and trusted them. We were always kept apart from the Palestinian citizens of Israel, let alone the Palestinians living in the West Bank or in Gaza.

Gaza in fact was a symbol of a cursed, hellish place. When someone annoyed you, you said to them Lech le’Aza, ‘Go to Gaza’, the equivalent of ‘go to hell’. That was part of normal day-to-day Hebrew in my youth. Like I mentioned in the past, the first time I met a Palestinian as an equal human being was in Australia, in my early thirties…

“Without knowing it, I grew up with classic colonial rhetoric. Colonisers motivated by fear and possibly guilt, have always demonised the people they have hurt. For some people it is easier to inflict suffering if they don’t see the other as a fellow human being. Dehumanisation helps to reduce empathy and shut down the conscience. It is being done everywhere where there is injustice and abuse.

“The difference now is that that these largely informal but widespread social attitudes to the colonised have now found themselves back in power. Drunk with their newfound freedom, coming out of the shadows with no need to hide themselves any longer, free from the tyranny of worrying about ‘world public opinion’, they are out celebrating and feasting, politicians outdoing one another acting out and giving life to their most depraved, murderous fantasies. And they are out-of-control.

“Please do not make the mistake of thinking that these feelings and urges belong to a lunatic fringe. They do not. They are supported by the majority of Israeli Jews and as Phil rightly says, they are led from the front by top politicians. These politicians are now changing the legal system to create an environment that fits these attitudes better and where they can be unleashed legally, and thrive.

“Israel has always been mad and bad. How could it not be when it is based on a fearful, traumatised, paranoid, settler-colonialist culture with a sense of eternal entitlement, and when it is built on the ruins of the indigenous culture it has worked so hard to eliminate? Israel has always done bad things, terrible things. Ask the Palestinians, the asylum seekers, the poor, women… But previously things were done in secret. When Israel was young and poor and needed the world, it was keen to present an image of legality, reason, refinement, intellect and democracy to fit with the Western world it so wanted to be a part of. What was always right under a thin veneer, but that almost every Israeli Jew knew and supported, is now brought out into the open. Israel is simply leading itself and its culture to its logical conclusion.

“What is happening now was always inevitable. It is the next logical step. It is impossible to sustain a split reality of a civilised, legally-minded, educated, cultured, refined, enlightened society while colonialism continues to rage with its atrocities and injustices. Enlightenment can only truly exist on a foundation of justice and freedom. Anything else is self-serving and short-lived nonsense. Most Israeli academics not only support their regime, they benefit from it. Watch the majority of them say nothing about these new developments.

“As ugly and as dangerous as these developments are, it is a good thing that the truth is finally coming out. Israel should have never been supported in the first place, but it’ll be increasingly harder for anyone to continue to support a country that is following the path Israel does now. Like all sick societies, Israel is its own biggest enemy and it feels invincible, justified and does not give a damn about what others think about it. This is a lethal cocktail.

“I never trusted that country. I was always terrified of it becoming truly and openly fascist. As a woman I never liked the way religion has played such a central role in Israeli society, and was always worried that it would eventually take over completely. I always felt oppressed by the atmosphere of suspicion and harshness and the obsession with ‘security’ and control, which has tragically infected the entire Western world.

“I was afraid of it 23 years ago when I left and thought it’d come sooner. It took a little longer than I thought, but it is finally happening. Fascism cannot take hold unless the sentiments that feed it are widespread. Watch how many secular Jews with dual citizenship will start leaving, and it is time to start really worrying for the Palestinians… It is quite possible we will start to see a trickle of Jewish refugees from Israel, members of more enlightened groups who will begin to be openly persecuted and hunted. It would be a chilling irony when Jewish refugees are out there again seeking asylum, but this time from the ‘Jewish’ state…

“And to think that once upon a time I was worried that I was too extreme or unreasonable with some of my predictions about Israel… It’s all in its psychology and it’s always been there.  I told you so.”

Avigail Abarbanel was born and raised in Israel. She moved to Australia in 1991 and now lives in Scotland. She works as a psychotherapist in private practice and is an activist for Palestinian rights. She is the editor of Beyond Tribal Loyalties: Personal Stories of Jewish Peace Activists (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012).

 

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“Genocide begins with the silence of the world.”

On August 1, The New York Times and other mainstream papers in the US and the UK published a full-page ad written by famous Holocaust survivor and campaigner Elie Wiesel. Part of a vast international propaganda offensive to justify Israel’s latest brutal war on Gaza and its decades-long occupation of Palestine, the ad was sponsored by This World: The Values Network.

Founded by American Orthodox Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, This World describes itself as “dedicated to disseminating the light of the Jewish people and promoting and defending the state of Israel as the supreme embodiment of a nation founded on these principles.”

Gaza ruins, 4Gaza, July 26, 2014. Photo: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

Among other things, Wiesel accuses Hamas of “child sacrifice,” and reframes the Israeli massacre in Gaza as “a battle of civilization versus barbarism.” In this he echoes Theodor Herzl, a key 19th century European proponent of a Jewish state in the Middle East: “For Europe we would constitute over there part of a bulwark against Asia as well as the advance post of civilization against barbarism.” (Der Judenstaat, The State of the Jews, published in 1896.)

Wiesel assumes that by now, surely his readers will know which label applies to which party in the Middle East.

Apparently some Jewish Holocaust survivors are not so sure.

On August 23rd, as Israel continues to bombard Gaza, 327 Jewish Holocaust survivors from a number of countries countered Wiesel’s attack ad with their own message in The New York Times:

As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine.

We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch.  In Israel, politicians and pundits in The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and right-wing Israelis are adopting Neo-Nazi insignia.

Furthermore, we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history in these pages to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities.  Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water.

We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people.

We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza.

We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel.

“Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!

Signed,

Holocaust survivors
children of survivors
grandchildren of survivors
great-grandchildren of survivors
other relatives of survivors.

The signers’ names (358 to date; more continue to sign on) and locations are posted here, on the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.

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Desmond Tutu to the people of Israel: Liberate yourselves!

Gaza rally, LondonGaza rally, London, July 2014

 Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, August 14, 2014:

“If you add together all the people who gathered over the past weekend to demand justice in Israel and Palestine – in Cape Town, Washington, D.C., New York, New Delhi, London, Dublin, Sydney, and all the other cities – this was arguably the largest active outcry by citizens around a single cause ever in the history of the world.”

Read Desmond Tutu’s stirring call to liberation here.

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Inside the Gaza ‘meat grinder’

Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta:  “All the areas around the hospital were being bombed all the time. We then got a call to the emergency room and we were told that the administration and the out patients building had been hit – a lot of families had taken refuge in that area – so we had to go and help.”

Injured Palestinians taken to hospital after Israeli airstrikesAl-Shifa Hospital, July 2014.

During each of Israel’s three major assaults on Gaza, Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta has volunteered as a surgeon at the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.  A Palestinian reconstructive surgeon, he lives in Lebanon.

This interview with him was conducted by journalist Yazan al-Saadi, and published in the English edition of Al-Akhbar, a Lebanese newspaper.

As of August 18, 2014, the number of Palestinians killed by the Israeli assault on Gaza has risen to 2,016, including 541 children, 250 women and 95 elderly men. Wounded: 10,196.  The death toll keeps rising as more people die from catastrophic injuries.­

 

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Gaza: Why do Israel and the U.S. insist on war?

Gaza, July 27Gaza City, July 27, 2014.  Photo: Oxfam International.

“For the last eight years, Israel and the U.S. had repeated opportunities to opt for a diplomatic solution in Gaza.  Each time, they have chosen war, with devastating consequences for the families of Gaza.”

Why?

The answer is here, in a well-documented account by Sandy Tolan, author of The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East, and an associate professor at the University of Southern California

The only practical response that does not depend on goodwill or common sense from the Israeli or American authorities: the growing international grassroots movement for BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions.

 

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Witness

As the Israeli attack on Gaza and the suffocating military occupation of  the West Bank grind on, and resistance continues on both sides of the apartheid wall, Canadian publisher Between the Lines is featuring Witness, a chapter from Our Way to Fight: peace-work under siege in Israel-Palestine, on the front page of their website.

For free download, here: http://btlbooks.com/files/Riordon_ch_5s.pdf.

cover low res

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Silence for Gaza

Gaza, Shujaiyya 2Shujaiyya, Gaza, August 1, 2014. Photo: Mohammed Saber.

Silence for Gaza, a poem by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, 1941 – 2008

Gaza is far from its relatives and close to its enemies, because whenever Gaza explodes, it becomes an island and it never stops exploding. It scratched the enemy’s face, broke his dreams and stopped his satisfaction with time.

Because in Gaza time is something different.

Because in Gaza time is not a neutral element.

It does not compel people to cool contemplation, but rather to explosion and a collision with reality.

Time there does not take children from childhood to old age, but rather makes them men in their first confrontation with the enemy.

Time in Gaza is not relaxation, but storming the burning noon. Because in Gaza values are different, different, different.

The only value for the occupied is the extent of his resistance to occupation. That is the only competition there. Gaza has been addicted to knowing this cruel, noble value. It did not learn it from books, hasty school seminars, loud propaganda megaphones, or songs. It learned it through experience alone and through work that is not done for advertisement and image.

Gaza has no throat. Its pores are the ones that speak in sweat, blood, and fires. Hence the enemy hates it to death and fears it to criminality, and tries to sink it into the sea, the desert, or blood. And hence its relatives and friends love it with a coyness that amounts to jealousy and fear at times, because Gaza is the brutal lesson and the shining example for enemies and friends alike.

Gaza is not the most beautiful city.

Its shore is not bluer than the shores of Arab cities.

Its oranges are not the most beautiful in the Mediterranean basin.

Gaza is not the richest city.

It is not the most elegant or the biggest, but it equals the history of an entire homeland, because it is more ugly, impoverished, miserable, and vicious in the eyes of enemies. Because it is the most capable, among us, of disturbing the enemy’s mood and his comfort. Because it is his nightmare. Because it is mined oranges, children without a childhood, old men without old age and women without desires. Because of all this it is the most beautiful, the purest and richest among us and the one most worthy of love.

We do injustice to Gaza when we look for its poems, so let us not disfigure Gaza’s beauty. What is most beautiful in it is that it is devoid of poetry at a time when we tried to triumph over the enemy with poems, so we believed ourselves and were overjoyed to see the enemy letting us sing. We let him triumph, then when we dried our lips of poems we saw that the enemy had finished building cities, forts and streets. We do injustice to Gaza when we turn it into a myth, because we will hate it when we discover that it is no more than a small poor city that resists.

We do injustice when we wonder: What made it into a myth? If we had dignity, we would break all our mirrors and cry or curse it if we refuse to revolt against ourselves. We do injustice to Gaza if we glorify it, because being enchanted by it will take us to the edge of waiting and Gaza doesn’t come to us. Gaza does not liberate us. Gaza has no horses, airplanes, magic wands, or offices in capital cities. Gaza liberates itself from our attributes and liberates our language from its Gazas at the same time. When we meet it – in a dream – perhaps it won’t recognize us, because Gaza was born out of fire, while we were born out of waiting and crying over abandoned homes.

It is true that Gaza has its special circumstances and its own revolutionary traditions. But its secret is not a mystery: Its resistance is popular and firmly joined together and knows what it wants (it wants to expel the enemy out of its clothes). The relationship of resistance to the people is that of skin to bones and not a teacher to students. Resistance in Gaza did not turn into a profession or an institution.

It did not accept anyone’s tutelage and did not leave its fate hinging on anyone’s signature or stamp.

It does not care that much if we know its name, picture, or eloquence. It did not believe that it was material for media. It did not prepare for cameras and did not put smiling paste on its face.

Neither does it want that, nor we.

Hence, Gaza is bad business for merchants and hence it is an incomparable moral treasure for Arabs.

What is beautiful about Gaza is that our voices do not reach it. Nothing distracts it; nothing takes its fist away from the enemy’s face. Not the forms of the Palestinian state we will establish whether on the eastern side of the moon, or the western side of Mars when it is explored. Gaza is devoted to rejection… hunger and rejection, thirst and rejection, displacement and rejection, torture and rejection, siege and rejection, death and rejection.

Enemies might triumph over Gaza (the storming sea might triumph over an island… they might chop down all its trees).

They might break its bones.

They might implant tanks on the insides of its children and women. They might throw it into the sea, sand, or blood.

But it will not repeat lies and say “Yes” to invaders.

It will continue to explode.

It is neither death, nor suicide. It is Gaza’s way of declaring that it deserves to live. It will continue to explode.

It is neither death, nor suicide. It is Gaza’s way of declaring that it deserves to live.

[Poem translated by Sinan Antoon From Hayrat al-`A’id (The Returnee’s Perplexity), Riyad al-Rayyis, 2007]

Thanks to Mondoweiss.

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Gaza: what next?

According to mainstream media, the terms of a ‘cease-fire’ are currently in negotiation between the elected government of Gaza and the elected government of Israel.

In a tweet posted August 5, a spokesman for the Israeli military wrote: “Mission accomplished.”

Gaza in ruins“Mission accomplished”

What the latest Israeli mission accomplished:

  • 1,938 Palestinians killed, 1,626 of them civilians, including 460 children and 246 women
  • 7,920 wounded, mostly civilians, including 2,111 children and 1,415 women;
  • 800 houses destroyed and thousands of others severely damaged
  • Many thousands of Palestinian civilians forcibly displaced
  • The impact of Israel’s intentional destruction of health and education facilities, and water, sewage and electric infrastructure is beyond imagining.

August 5, the same day Israel declared “Mission accomplished,” US President Obama signed a $225 million cheque, approved by Congress, to resupply Israel with missiles.

What next?

In a searing cry for elemental justice, Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, writes from inside the “cage” that is Gaza: “A ceasefire is not enough.  It will not end the suffering.  It will only move us from the horror of death by bombardment to the horror of death by slow strangulation.  We cannot go back to being prisoners in a cage that Israel rattles when it chooses with brutal destructive offensives.”

Please read his eloquent call to the world, and give it wings by passing it on.  It’s the least we can do.

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“Crimes against humanity”

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is notoriously fearful of scolding Israel, even as it commits overt war crimes.  But he was sufficiently shocked by Israel’s August 3 bombing of a UN-run school in Gaza (the 6th attack by Israel on a Gaza school) to call it a “moral outrage and a criminal act”.  He confirmed that Israel had been “repeatedly informed of the location of these sites.”  UN schools are designated safe areas for people fleeing Israeli attacks.  An estimated 10 people died in the latest school bombing.

Calling the attack a “gross violation of international humanitarian law,” the UN Secretary General demanded that those responsible be held to account.  More detail here.

International legal authority Michael Ratner puts these charges in a longer perspective. President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, based in New York, and Chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, based in Berlin, he explained in a July 27 interview:

“These killings are part of a broader set of inhuman acts by Israel constituting international crimes, carried out by Israel over many years, going back to at least 1947 and 1948.  They include crimes that aren’t talked about that much in the media or the press, the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and apartheid.  These crimes can be prosecuted in the International Criminal Court.”  The interview is here.

All attempts to prosecute Israel for war crimes have been blocked for decades, primarily by the United States, to ensure that Israel enjoys the same blanket impunity from international law that the US assumes for itself.

After Israel’s 2014 invasion of Gaza, the same could happen again.  And again.

Or not.

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STOP IT!

In my opinion, the resistance is just a temporary phenomenon to achieve particular goals: to end the blockade and allow Palestinians to live in freedom and dignity in a state of their own.” – Nour Omar Shaban, 16 years old, Gaza, August 2, 2014.

When the current attacks are called off, Israel hopes to be free to pursue its criminal policies in the occupied territories without interference, and with the U.S. support it has enjoyed in the past.”  – Noam Chomsky, 86 years old, Lexington, Massachusetts, August 3, 2014.

Under the Israeli bombsUnder Israel bombs, Gaza City, July 2014.

Day 25 of Israel’s assault on Gaza.  So far:

  • 1,888 Palestinians killed, 1586 of them civilians, including 447 children and 235 women
  • 7815 wounded, mostly civilians, including 2079 children and 1398 women

Through the toxic fog of propaganda, compelling voices speak out for truth and sanity.  Here are two:

From a young Gazan: http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/25118-war-and-peace-the-youth-of-gaza.

From the venerable Noam Chomsky: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/25343-noam-chomsky-|-nightmare-in-gaza.

What is to be done?

Israel’s war crimes will only end when its illegal occupation of Palestine is stopped.

The occupation will only stop when it becomes impossible for Israel to sustain it.

The ruling authorities in Europe and North America offer no solution; they continue to support what Israeli historian Ilan Pappe calls “Israel’s incremental genocide on Gaza.”

For now, the only effective lever we have to end the occupation is the ever-growing international movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

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A pledge…

“…to the family of the one thousandth victim of Israel’s genocidal slaughter in Gaza…”

Ilan Pappe, Israeli author, professor of history, director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter, England.

On Day 20 of the Israeli assault on Gaza, the toll:

  • 1,014 Palestinians killed, 832 of them civilians, including 221 children and 121 women
  • 4,706 others wounded, mostly civilians, including 1,263 children and 939 women

Gaza, ShujaiyyaShujaiya neighbourhood, Gaza

In the face of such overwhelming crimes, words seem painfully inadequate, even pointless. But Israel’s colonial war on Palestinians is partly sustained by words, in torrents of propaganda from governments and the corporate media. In resisting it, words can also have immense power to convey facts, reason, and compassion.

Ilan Pappe has just written such a message “to the family of the one thousandth victim of Israel’s genocidal slaughter in Gaza.” A fragment:

“…I feel the urge today to make a pledge to you, which none of the Germans my father knew during the time of the Nazi regime was willing to make to him when the thugs committed genocide against his family. This is not much of a pledge at your moment of grief, but it is the best I can offer, and saying nothing is not an option. And doing nothing is even less than an option…”

Pappe’s pledge is here.

 

 

 

 

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War crimes

Day 19 of the Israeli attack on Gaza. The toll until now:

  • 928 Palestinians killed, 764 of them civilians, including 215 children and 118 women
  • 4,663 Palestinians wounded, mostly civilians, including 1,358 children and 932 women
  • 561 houses destroyed and hundreds of others extensively
  • thousands of Palestinian civilians forcibly displaced
  • Source: Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), a non-governmental organization based in Gaza City.

PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT-GAZAThe Israeli military assault also continues in the West Bank: Six Palestinians killed (on July 26) in West Bank protests against Gaza slaughter.

These war crimes could not continue without enablers, accomplices.

On July 23 the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) met in special session to consider the matter of war crimes, and decided “… to urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014, whether before, during or after….”

The 47-member council voted 29-1 in favor of the resolution. 17 members (11 of them European) abstained. Only one country voted to oppose the commission of inquiry: the United States. (Neither Israel nor the Palestinians are members of the council.) Despite the US, the commission of inquiry will proceed.

For people of conscience who feel helpless to stop these war crimes, the international boycott, investment & sanctions (BDS) movement offers these suggestions for action.

 

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How did all this happen?

In 1907 British civil servants prepared a report on the Middle East for the Prime Minister, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. As the United States does now, the British imperial regime treated the rest of the world as its private estate.

A key paragraph of the Bannerman report lays out the foundation for all that followed, including the current assault on Gaza:

“There are people [MR: the inhabitants of the Middle East] who control spacious territories teeming with manifest and hidden resources. They dominate the intersections of world routes. Their lands were the cradles of human civilizations and religions.  These people have one faith, one language, one history and the same aspirations.   No natural barriers can isolate these people from one another … if, per chance, this nation were to be unified into one state, it would then take the fate of the world into its hands and would separate Europe from the rest of the world.  Taking these considerations seriously, [bold added] a foreign body should be planted in the heart of this nation to prevent the convergence of its wings in such a way that it could exhaust its powers in never-ending wars. It could also serve as a springboard for the West to gain its coveted objects.”

[Dan Bar-On & Sami Adwan, THE PRIME SHARED HISTORY PROJECT, in Educating Toward a Culture of Peace, pages 309–323, Information Age Publishing, 2006.]

Ten years later, in the now infamous 1917 Balfour Declaration, the British government prepared the ground for planting that “foreign body”. In a letter to Baron Rothschild (Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild), for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour declared:

“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

Just like that. So easy.  At the stroke of a pen.

Gaza City, ruinsGaza City, under Israeli bombs, July 2014.

 

 

 

 

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Stop arming Israel

TAKE ACTION NOW.

israeli attack jetIsraeli attack jet.

Israel has once again unleashed the full force of its military against the captive Palestinian population, particularly in the besieged Gaza Strip, in an inhumane and illegal act of military aggression.

Israel’s ability to launch such devastating attacks with impunity largely stems from the vast international military cooperation and arms trade that it maintains with complicit governments across the world.

Nobel laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Adolfo Peres Esquivel, Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire, Rigoberta Menchú and Betty Williams have published an open letter calling on the UN and governments around the world to impose a military embargo on Israel.

Add your voice to the call here.

Other signatories include Noam Chomsky, Roger Waters from Pink Floyd, playwright Caryl Churchill, US rapper Boots Riley, João Antonio Felicio, the president of the International Trade Union Confederation, and Zwelinzima Vavi, the general secretary of the Confederation of South African Trade Unions [and many others].

By importing and exporting arms to Israel and facilitating the development of Israeli military technology, governments are effectively sending a clear message of approval for Israel’s military aggression, including its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

Call for a military embargo here.

The international call will be presented to the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights when they take up their post in September 2014.

Please give this message wings, pass it on widely.

Fact sheet: The case for a military embargo on Israel.

Our Way to Fight: voices of resistance in Palestine and Israel.

 

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“Please, do what you can.”

A letter from Mads Gilbert, Norwegian emergency room doctor, at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza, July 19, 2014. Via Mondoweiss.

Gaza ruinsGaza City neighborhood of Shuja’iyeh, after July 19 Israeli air and ground assault.

Dearest friends,

The last night was extreme. The “ground invasion” of Gaza resulted in scores and carloads with maimed, torn apart, bleeding, shivering, dying – all sorts of injured Palestinians, all ages, all civilians, all innocent.

The heroes in the ambulances and in all of Gaza’s hospitals are working 12-24 hour shifts, grey from fatigue and inhuman workloads (without payment, all in Shifa for the last 4 months), they care, triage, try to understand the incomprehensible chaos of bodies, sizes, limbs, walking, not walking, breathing, not breathing, bleeding, not bleeding humans. HUMANS!

Now, once more treated like animals by “the most moral army in the world” (sic!).

My respect for the wounded is endless, in their contained determination in the midst of pain, agony and shock; my admiration for the staff and volunteers is endless, my closeness to the Palestinian “sumud” [endurance, steadfastness] gives me strength, although in glimpses I just want to scream, hold someone tight, cry, smell the skin and hair of the warm child, covered in blood, protect ourselves in an endless embrace – but we cannot afford that, nor can they.

Ashy grey faces – Oh NO! not one more load of tens of maimed and bleeding, we still have lakes of blood on the floor in the ER, piles of dripping, blood-soaked bandages to clear out – the cleaners, everywhere, swiftly shovelling the blood and discarded tissues, hair, clothes, cannulas – the leftovers from death – all taken away…to be prepared again, to be repeated all over.

More then 100 cases came to Shifa last 24 hours. Enough for a large well trained hospital with everything, but here – almost nothing: electricity, water, disposables, drugs, OR-tables, instruments, monitors – all rusted and as if taken from museums of yesterday’s hospitals. But they do not complain, these heroes. They get on with it, like warriors, head on, enormously resolute.

And as I write these words to you, alone, on a bed, my tears flows, the warm but useless tears of pain and grief, of anger and fear. This is not happening!

And then, just now, the orchestra of the Israeli war-machine starts its gruesome symphony again, just now: salvos of artillery from the navy boats just down on the shores, the roaring F16s, the sickening drones (Arabic ‘Zennanis’, the hummers), and the clattering Apaches [assault helicopters]. So much made and paid in and by the US.

Mr. Obama – do you have a heart?

I invite you – spend one night – just one night – with us in Shifa. Disguised as a cleaner, maybe.  I am convinced, 100%, it would change history.

Nobody with a heart AND power could ever walk away from a night in Shifa without being determined to end the slaughter of the Palestinian people.

But the heartless and merciless have done their calculations and planned another “dahyia” assault on Gaza. [Dahyia: an Israeli military doctrine in which the army deliberately targets civilian infrastructure, as a means of inducing suffering for the civilian population].

The rivers of blood will keep running the coming night. I can hear they have tuned their instruments of death.

Please. Do what you can. This, THIS cannot continue.

Mads Gilbert
Gaza, Occupied Palestine

Mads Gilbert volunteers in Gaza. He is Professor and Clinical Head, the Clinic of Emergency Medicine, at the University Hospital of North Norway, in Tromsø, Norway.

 

Posted in BDS, Boycott, crimes against humanity, Gaza, Israel, military attack, military occupation, Palestine, Uncategorized, war crimes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

UPDATE – From inside Gaza

In case you joined this blog in the past few days, and have not received notice of the previous post (From inside Gaza…), here’s an update:

July 17, Day 10 of the Israeli military assault continues against Gaza, the world’s largest prison.

  • Palestinians killed: 211, including 179 civilians, 32 of them women, 45 of them children.
  • Palestinians wounded: 1458, mostly civilians, including 253 women, 432 children.
  • Source: Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Gaza, which has a good reputation for accuracy.

Stop funding Israeli terrorPhoto: Ted Majdosz

Many of us feel enraged but helpless in the face of Israel’s war crimes, and the active complicity of elected governments across Europe and North America. The rage is justified,  but we are not helpless. There is something we can do.

Here is an urgent call to action from inside Gaza, via the international BDS Movement:

“We Palestinians trapped inside the bloodied and besieged Gaza Strip call on conscientious people all over the world to act, protest and intensify boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel until it ends this murder…”

Read the full call from inside Gaza here.

Here are 9 ways to support Gaza.

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