Gaza, Here We Come to Break the Siege May 24, 2010Posted by rogerhollander in Genocide, Israel, Gaza & Middle East.
Tags: Ann Wright, egypt, egyptian government, ehud barak, free gaza, gaza, gaza blockade, gaza massacre, gaza siege, humanitarian aid, israel, israel apartheid, israeli government, israeli navy, rachel corrie, roger hollander
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I am honored to be a part of the latest international citizen effort to break the Israeli and Egyptian governments’ siege of Gaza. This week, hundreds of persons from 20 countries will challenge the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza in an eight ship flotilla.
An international coalition composed of Free Gaza Movement, European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza, the Malaysian humanitarian organization Perdana and the Turkish non-governmental organization Humanitarian Aid Foundation (IHH) is sending three cargo ships and five passenger vessels to Gaza from Ireland, Greece and Turkey.While the citizens mobilize, their governments are receiving intense diplomatic pressure from the Israeli government. On Monday, May 17, 2010, Naor Gilon, the Israeli Foreign Ministry deputy director general, told the ambassadors of Greece, Ireland, Turkey, and Sweden that the attempt to break Israel’s blockage Gaza ” is a provocation and a breach of Israeli law,” and that “Israel has no intention of allowing the flotilla to enter Gaza,” according to a ministry statement.
Arabic-language news station Al-Hurra reported that “about half of the Israeli naval forces will participate in an operation that was approved by the cabinet” and that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak will supervise the operation. Israel will prevent the boats from reaching Gaza “at any price,” an Israeli security source told the Ma’an news agency.
Three ships are leaving Turkey, including a 600 person passenger ship and two cargo ships filled with humanitarian supplies such as medical equipment, pre-fabricated homes and construction supplies to rebuild housing for 50,000 persons destroyed in the 22 day Israeli attack on Gaza in December, 2008 and January, 2009. The passenger ship left Istanbul on May 22 to a tremendous send-off from thousands of supporters!
Two ships will depart the Athens, Greece port of Piraeus and two more ships will depart from the Greek island of Crete. The cargo ship Rachel Corrie, purchased by Perdana, the Malaysian humanitarian organization, loaded with medical supplies and cement, is on its way from Ireland and will meet up with the flotilla off the coast of Gaza. The ship is named for activist Rachel Corrie who was run over and killed by the Israeli military driver of a huge Caterpillar bulldozer that was knocking down homes of Palestinian families in Rafah, Gaza in March, 2003.
I am in Athens, Greece to assist in the briefings for passengers and crew on the two ships departing from Piraeus and then will fly to Crete to board a Free Gaza ship to sail to Gaza.
Free Gaza has attempted to sail 8 ships into the Gaza port in the past two years. Five ships have gotten into Gaza and three have been forced back by the Israeli navy including one ship that was rammed and almost sunk by an Israeli patrol boat.
An incredible amount of work is taking place in the port of Gaza. Workers are digging out the area along the pier in anticipation of the arrival of the cargo ships. No cargo ships have been unloaded in Gaza in 43 years since the port was closed by the Israelis after the 1967 war.
As the flotilla leaves Greece and heads across the Mediterranean to Gaza, please follow the historic flotilla by a live-feed link that will broadcast live footage of this historic voyage.
Ann Wright is a 29 year US Army/Army Reserves veteran who retired as a Colonel and a former US diplomat who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. In December, 2001 she was on the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. She is the co-author of the book “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.” (www.voicesofconscience.com)
This Holocaust survivor stands with Gaza–Will you? December 11, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Human Rights, Israel, Gaza & Middle East.
Tags: auschwitz, gaza, gaza freedom, gaza occupation, gaza siege, hedy epstein, holocaust surviror, israel, obama nobel, peace, roger hollander
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It’s strange to see President Obama accepting a Peace Prize as he escalates a war. As a Holocaust survivor whose parents perished at Auschwitz in 1942, I know all too well what war looks like. I also know what peace looks like and I can tell you this: Sending 30,000 more U.S. troops to fight in one of the poorest countries in the world, Afghanistan, is not making peace.
As President Obama accepts a Peace Prize he does not deserve, it’s a good time to model what real peacemaking looks like. That’s why-at the ripe age of 85-I’ll be joining the Gaza Freedom March on December 31. Over 1,000 peacemakers from around the world will join hands with 50,000 Palestinians in Gaza as we walk together to the Israeli border. As Jews, Christians, Muslims, atheists, and members of many faiths we will come together as one humanity to condemn the brutal invasion of Gaza one year ago and demand that Israel lift the siege that has brought 1.5 million people to the brink of disaster.
You can show your support for real peacemaking by endorsing the Gaza Freedom March and telling your friends and community about this historic event!
Around the globe, solidarity actions are already being planned for the week of December 27th–find one near you and join in the action!
You can also make a peace prayer flag. Send them to us and we will carry them on the march. The peace prayer flags are an easy and powerful way to make sure your voice is present at this historic event.
Peace is not just making nice speeches, as President Obama did in Cairo when he told the Arab world that “we understand that the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable” and that America would not turn its back on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for justice and dignity.
That is why I am asking you to help us “walk the talk” by supporting the Gaza Freedom March.
With love for all humanity,
and the CODEPINK team
Muslims Wait for Obama to Deliver May 31, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Iraq and Afghanistan, Israel, Gaza & Middle East, Religion, War.
Tags: arab dictators, democracy, dennis ross, dictatroship, gaza, gaza siege, hamas, haroon siddiqui, hosni mubarak, Iran, iran hawk, iran nuclear, juan cole, king abdulah, muslim islamists, muslim militants, muslim nations, muslim world, Muslims, Obama, pakistan, Palestinians, roger hollander, Taliban, terrorism
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by Haroon Siddiqui
There was the American overreach under George W. Bush. Now there’s Barack Obama’s outreach to the Muslim world.
On Wednesday, he will be in Saudi Arabia to meet King Abdullah. On Thursday, he will be in Egypt to deliver his much-anticipated address to Muslims.
He has already taken four mini-jabs at the subject – in his inaugural address; his Jan. 27 interview with Al-Arabiya TV; his March 19 video address to Iran; and his April 6 speech to the Turkish parliament.
This has drawn mixed reviews:
He wouldn’t be addressing the Christian world, or the Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist worlds. Why the exception for Muslims?
By framing terrorism in religious terms, he’s treading the same turf as militant Islamists, on the one hand, and Bush, on the other.
He has no choice but to fix the shattered relationship between the U.S. and the Muslim world.
What are his challenges? Four experts I spoke to outlined them:
Where’s the beef? Juan Cole, author of Engaging the Muslim World (Palgrave Macmillan), said Obama has done well to ditch Bush’s formulation that tackling Muslim militants was “like taking on the Axis powers in World War II, and the way to do it was through conquest, occupation and a transformation of the Muslim world.
“That was a huge conceptual error, doomed to failure.”
Jihadists are not the old Soviet Union nor Nazi Germany. Non-state actors are best dealt with as the criminals they are.
However, Obama has a challenge of his own. “Beyond denying the Bush paradigm, he must develop his own positive paradigm. I haven’t heard that articulated,” said Cole, professor of history at the University of Michigan.
John Esposito, co-author of Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think (Gallup Press), also feels Obama is running out of time. “The window is beginning to close on him.”
Egypt: “There’s a real irony in the leader of the free world delivering a major speech to Muslims in one of the most repressive parts of the world,” said Nader Hashemi, author of Islam, Secularism and Liberal Democracy (Oxford).
Hosni Mubarak is an oppressive dictator, “one of the most despised, in part due to his close alliance with the U.S. and collusion with Israel in maintaining the siege on Gaza.”
A better platform would have been Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation, or Pakistan, Turkey or Bangladesh, all evolving democracies.
Israel-Palestine: It’s the No. 1 issue for Muslims, said Esposito, director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in Washington.
Hashemi, a native of Toronto now teaching Middle East and Islamic politics at the University of Denver, recalled Obama’s words in Sderot last year that if his daughters were subject to daily rocket fire, as Israelis were from Hamas, he’d do everything in his power to stop it.
“This begged the question: if the president’s daughters were refugees who could not return home, stuck in one of the most densely populated areas of the globe, and subject to an ongoing siege, would Obama also do everything in his power to alleviate their suffering?
“Failure to speak in moral terms about the plight of the Palestinians will be a massive setback for his Muslim outreach initiative.”
Iraq: If Obama’s pullout plans work out, he’ll have neutralized the second biggest source of anger.
Embracing dictators: Polls show that Muslims are as desirous of democracy as any other people. And they resent the Western hypocrisy of promoting democracy and human rights but cavorting with Arab dictators and monarchs.
“Without naming Egypt, I think Obama will say that the U.S. will no longer be supportive of autocrats, who deprive their people the right to freedom,” said Shuja Nawaz of the Atlantic Council, a Washington think-tank on international affairs.
But that’s what Condoleezza Rice said in Cairo in 2005, and nothing came of it. Nawaz: “Frankly, that’s his biggest challenge – how to deal with the Islamic autocrats.”
Iran: Cole said Obama is sending mixed signals. “He wants face-to-face talks with Iran but has named Dennis Ross as the point person. He’s a well-known hawk on Iran. The Iranians are upset and have made it clear they’re not going to sit down across the table from Ross.
“Also, Obama is using the Bush rhetoric about not allowing Iran to have a nuclear weapon. But American intelligence agencies do not see an Iranian nuclear program.”
Esposito noted that Obama is not threatening to go to war with North Korea, despite its nuclear blasts. It is, thus, important to “indicate that he is not going to be stampeded into a military action against Iran.”
Afghanistan/Pakistan: Nawaz, author of Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army, and the Wars Within (Oxford), said Obama’s economic package for Pakistan’s tribal areas has been well-received by Pakistanis. They are also behind the military initiative against the Taliban, being undertaken under U.S. pressure.
“The public is fed up with the Taliban but the anger can quite easily turn against the government and the U.S, given the dire situation of the internally displaced people.”
Is all this doable? Cole, for one, thinks so. “Give Obama eight years, and things will look different.”
© Copyright Toronto Star 1996-2009
End the Siege of Gaza! March on Washington, D.C., June 6 April 29, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East, Uncategorized.
Tags: crime against humanity, gaza, gaza march, gaza massacre, gaza rally, gaza rubble, gaza siege, israel bombing, israel massacre, israeli occupation, Palestine, roger hollander, solidarity palestine, War Crimes
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Solidarity Day on the 42nd Anniversary of Israel’s seizure of Gaza
RALLY & MARCH
Saturday, June 6
(14th & Pennsylvania Ave. NW)
Saturday, June 6 marks the 42nd anniversary of the Israeli seizure of Gaza. Organizations and individuals in solidarity with the people of Palestine will be taking to the streets once again to demand: End the Siege of Gaza!
The world looked on in horror this past winter as Israel mercilessly starved and bombed the people of Gaza, killing around 1,200 Palestinians (at least a third of whom were children). The Arab world now refers to the dark days from the end of December to mid-January “The Gaza Massacre.” Although the mainstream media no longer focuses on Gaza, the suffering continues there nonetheless. Using the pretext of combating terrorism, Israel has refused to allow in even one truckload of cement into Gaza. In other words, the city that was reduced to rubble still lies in rubble today.All these months later, people are still living in tents and are scarcely able to secure the necessities of life.
People of conscience around the world continue to raise their voices in outrage at this crime against humanity, and in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Gaza. We will also stand for all Palestinian people’s inalienable right to return to their homes from which they were evicted. Let your voice be heard — join us Saturday, June 6, at 12 noon at Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC (14th St. and Pennsylvania NW).
Sponsoring organizations include ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism), Muslim American Society (MAS) Freedom, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), National Council of Arab Americans (NCA) and more!
Contact us at (202) 544-3389 or email@example.com to get involved!
Top 5 lies about Israel’s assault on Gaza January 26, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East, War.
Tags: arab countries, ceasefire, civilian casualties, gaza, gaza siege, hamas, hamas rockets, human shields, International law, israel, jeremy hammond, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestine, roger hollander, War Crimes
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Jeremy R. Hammond, www.aljazeera.com, January 5, 2009
Lie #1: Israel is only targeting legitimate military sites and is seeking to protect innocent lives. Israel never targets civilians.
The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated pieces of property in the world. The presence of fighters within a civilian population does not, under international law, deprive that population of their protected status, and hence any assault upon that population under the guise of targeting fighters is, in fact, a war crime.
(Watch video: Israeli guns bombard Gaza in escalation of Hamas war)
Moreover, the people Israel claims are legitimate targets are members of Hamas, which Israel says is a terrorist organization. Hamas has been responsible for firing rockets into Israel. These rockets are extremely inaccurate and thus, even if Hamas intended to hit military targets within Israel, are indiscriminate by nature. When rockets from Gaza kill Israeli civilians, it is a war crime.
Hamas has a military wing. However, it is not entirely a military organization, but a political one. Members of Hamas are the democratically elected representatives of the Palestinian people. Dozens of these elected leaders have been kidnapped and held in Israeli prisons without charge.
Others have been targeted for assassination, such as Nizar Rayan, a top Hamas official. To kill Rayan, Israel targeted a residential apartment building. The strike not only killed Rayan but two of his wives and four of his children, along with six others. There is no justification for such an attack under international law. This was a war crime.
Other of Israel’s bombardment with protected status under international law have included a mosque, a prison, police stations, and a university, in addition to residential buildings.
Moreover, Israel has long held Gaza under siege, allowing only the most minimal amounts of humanitarian supplies to enter. Israel is bombing and killing Palestinian civilians. Countless more have been wounded, and cannot receive medical attention. Hospitals running on generators have little or no fuel. Doctors have no proper equipment or medical supplies to treat the injured. These people, too, are the victims of Israeli policies targeted not at Hamas or legitimate military targets, but directly designed to punish the civilian population.
Lie #2) Hamas violated the cease-fire. The Israeli bombardment is a response to Palestinian rocket fire and is designed to end such rocket attacks.
Israel never observed the cease-fire to begin with. From the beginning, it announced a “special security zone” within the Gaza Strip and announced that Palestinians who enter this zone will be fired upon. In other words, Israel announced its intention that Israeli soldiers would shoot at farmers and other individuals attempting to reach their own land in direct violation of not only the cease-fire but international law.
Despite shooting incidents, including ones resulting in Palestinians getting injured, Hamas still held to the cease-fire from the time it went into effect on June 19 until Israel effectively ended the truce on November 4 by launching an airstrike into Gaza that killed five and injured several others.
Israel’s violation of the cease-fire predictably resulted in retaliation from militants in Gaza who fired rockets into Israel in response. The increased barrage of rocket fire at the end of December is being used as justification for the continued Israeli bombardment, but is a direct response to the Israeli attacks.
Israel’s actions, including its violation of the cease-fire, predictably resulted in an escalation of rocket attacks against its own population.
Lie #3) Hamas is using human shields, a war crime.
There has been no evidence that Hamas has used human shields. The fact is, as previously noted, Gaza is a small piece of property that is densely populated. Israel engages in indiscriminate warfare such as the assassination of Nizar Rayan, in which members of his family were also murdered. It is victims like his dead children that Israel defines as “human shields” in its propaganda.
There is no legitimacy for this interpretation under international law. In circumstances such as these, Hamas is not using human shields, Israel is committing war crimes in violation of the Geneva Conventions and other applicable international law.
Lie #4) Arab nations have not condemned Israel’s actions because they understand Israel’s justification for its assault.
The populations of those Arab countries are outraged at Israel’s actions and at their own governments for not condemning Israel’s assault and acting to end the violence. Simply stated, the Arab governments do not represent their respective Arab populations. The populations of the Arab nations have staged mass protests in opposition to not only Israel’s actions but also the inaction of their own governments and what they view as either complacency or complicity in Israel’s crimes.
Moreover, the refusal of Arab nations to take action to come to the aid of the Palestinians is not because they agree with Israel’s actions, but because they are submissive to the will of the US, which fully supports Israel. Egypt, for instance, which refused to open the border to allow Palestinians wounded in the attacks to get medical treatment in Egyptian hospitals, is heavily dependent upon US aid, and is being widely criticized within the population of the Arab countries for what is viewed as an absolute betrayal of the Gaza Palestinians.
Even Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been regarded as a traitor to his own people for blaming Hamas for the suffering of the people of Gaza. Palestinians are also well aware of Abbas’ past perceived betrayals in conniving with Israel and the U.S. to sideline the democratically elected Hamas government, culminating in a counter-coup by Hamas in which it expelled Fatah (the military wing of Abbas’ Palestine Authority) from the Gaza Strip. While his apparent goal was to weaken Hamas and strengthen his own position, the Palestinians and other Arabs in the Middle East are so outraged at Abbas that it is unlikely he will be able to govern effectively.
Lie #5) Israel is not responsible for civilian deaths because it warned the Palestinians of Gaza to flee areas that might be targeted.
Israel claims it sent radio and telephone text messages to residents of Gaza warning them to flee from the coming bombardment. But the people of Gaza have nowhere to flee to. They are trapped within the Gaza Strip. It is by Israeli design that they cannot escape across the border.
It is by Israeli design that they have no food, water, or fuel by which to survive. It is by Israeli design that hospitals in Gaza have no electricity and few medical supplies with which to treat the injured and save lives. And Israel has bombed vast areas of Gaza, targeting civilian infrastructure and other sites with protected status under international law. No place is safe within the Gaza Strip.
– Jeremy R. Hammond is the editor of Foreign Policy Journal (www.foreignpolicyjournal.com), a website dedicated to providing news, critical analysis, and opinion commentary on US foreign policy from outside of the standard framework offered by government officials and the mainstream corporate media, particularly with regard to the “war on terrorism” and events in the Middle East. He has also written for numerous other online publications. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. This article appeared in the PalestineChronicle.com.
Source: Middle East Online