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“They’re Experts at Turning Blood into Money” July 20, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East.
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June 22, 2013 by Matthew Vickery, http://whatsleftoftheleft.com/2013/06/22/theyre-experts-at-turning-blood-into-money/

I was back in Nabi Salih yesterday, a rural village of around 500 in the beautiful Palestinian hills north of Ramallah, which has been touted as the place where a Palestinian Third Intifada could start due to the Israeli army’s unbelievably harsh policy with the village. This is a village that copes with daily incursions by the Israeli army; where villagers have been killed in the last two years during non-violent protests against the occupation and the settlement of Halamish that has stolen their water supply (with the backing of the army); where young adults are imprisoned on no charges through the ‘administrative detention’ law; where young children are taken from their homes in the middle of the night, to be threatened and humiliated by an army which has only one purpose, to keep any form of civil disobedience quashed.

Tear gas on the hillside of Nabi Salih

Tear gas on the hillside of Nabi Salih

My presence in Nabi Salih yesterday was to join the weekly Friday protest march against the daily battle of Israeli occupation. I could write pages and pages about the copious amounts of tear gas fired at us; or the use of ‘rubber coated’ steel bullets that were fired at protesters, leaving everyone scrambling to get down for cover; the villager targeted directly with live ammunition; the medic targeted and hit in the head with a sound grenade;  the journalist beaten up by soldiers; or the olive grove (a vital source of income) set on fire by the army. However the information on this use of force, this horrific use of force on unarmed protesters week in, week out, in Nabi Salih and other villagers like Bil’in, Nil’lin and Qaddam, is already readily available, there exists pages and pages describing this force and its effects on Palestinian protesters, yet it seems that barely anyone wants to know.

Instead while sheltering in a villagers home after the army started stalking the internal roads of the village looking for individuals to target, I started speaking to an Israeli activist, who, despite it being illegal for anyone who holds an Israeli passport to be in Area A of the West Bank, was compelled to stand side-by-side with the villagers of Nabi Salih in their struggle.

It was what she said about the Israeli government during this conversation however that struck me: “they’re experts at turning blood into money.”

As someone who is well aware of the majority society discourse in Israel and who has come across it frequently, it is a rarity to get an Israeli-Jewish citizen who criticises the State for its dealings with the occupied Palestinian population, never mind someone willing to come out with a statement that is so strong, and would be regarded as traitorous by Israeli majority society. But she is completely correct.

At almost every protest I have been to, including yesterdays, there have always been rumours about a new form of ammunition/gas/water cannon/sound grenade, and so on. Why? Well, these protests are the Israeli army’s testing ground, they know it and Palestinians know it. Over the years new weapons have been tested out on Palestinians in the West Bank, often tried out at these non-violent protests. In essence these protests are perfect; they provide unarmed live targets, which keep coming back week in, week out, allowing the latest Israeli innovations in military technology to be tested.  This technology is then honed, improved, and then marketed to companies and countries around the world, with an invisible – but known – ‘Tested in the West Bank’ sticker. The injuries and deaths caused to Palestinians are just part and parcel of this process, or furthermore, proof of the working capability of these latest innovations.

But what can Palestinians do. If they don’t protest, even the hope that something could change in the future will begin to wane, the army will just continue what it does currently, and settlers from illegal Israeli settlements like Halamish will just grow bolder in what they feel they can take from, and do to, their suppressed Palestinian neighbours. However if they do protest they are part of this process, while also risking injury and at times death, all while practicing modes of civil disobedience that are deemed as good and correct the world over.

Sometimes resistance is symbolic, but at least it is still resistance; yet it pains me to see this exploited so heavily, not just for land, or to reinforce military occupation, but also for profit.

The Israeli government and the Israeli army have become, in the words of one rare, yet shining example of hope within this conflict, “experts at turning blood into money”.

I struggle to think of a sadder reality of national expertise.

(NB: I hope to write something in the next couple of weeks about Israeli-Jewish left-wing activists who go against the grain in their support of Palestinian self-determination and human rights, often at great detriment to themselves. These individuals are in my opinion the unsung heroes of the Israel/Palestine conflict, and I have been blessed to have worked and protested with them in the past. I have also been lucky that some individuals have opened up to me about their personal situations regarding this, hopefully I will put something together soon)

Consumed By the Flames: The Myth of the Moral Army August 28, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, Human Rights, Israel, Gaza & Middle East.
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Roger’s note: A sad but not unexpected verdict by Israeli “Justice” on the murder of Rachel Corrie.

08.28.12 – 11:51 AM, www.commondreams.org

 

by Abby Zimet

The ruling by an Israeli court that the death of activist Rachel Corrie was an accident of her own making, and not part of a brutal Israeli mindset that sees anyone – child, peaceful protester, innocent bystander – as a legitimate target, makes it truly, as Corrie’s long-suffering mother said, a bad day for humanity, and the rule of law. It also raises the grievous question: If Israel insists on calling Hamas a terrorist organization, what to call the Israeli army?

Comments

iowablackbirdan hour ago

thank you cindy and craig corrie for standing up in the name of your daughter. please send the corrie’s a message; let them know you appreciate their herculean efforts to seek justice in the face of murderers.

http://rachelcorriefoundation….

“If Israel insists on calling Hamas a terrorist organization, what to call the Israeli army?”

agents of a racist apartheid state.

…peace…

 

  •  
    Avatar

    We have had the “moral army” myth for thousands of years. Roman soldiers had “virtus” or manliness in killing. The Catholic Church has its “just war” doctrine to justify mass slaughter of innocents.

    All soldiers in all armies in the entire history of the world are murderers and rapists, or their accomplices.

Obama Throws Palestine Under the Bus September 25, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Israel, Gaza & Middle East.
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Published on Sunday, September 25, 2011 by Inter Press Service

by Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON — The right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu could not be more pleased.

Not only did the allegedly most “anti-Israel” president ever repeat, for the nth time, that “America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable,” but also made crystal clear that Washington will veto any Palestinian application to the U.N. Security Council for statehood in his speech this week to the U.N. General Assembly.

Not once did he refer to Jewish “settlements” on Palestinian lands; nor did he even use the word “occupied” – or any declension of that word – to describe those lands and their people in an address that was largely, if ironically, devoted to celebrating this year’s Arab struggles to end autocratic rule in their region.

Nor was there a word about the plight of the still-besieged population of Gaza, or about the “1967 borders” as being the basis for any eventual two-state solution, a formula to which Netanyahu and his U.S. allies vehemently objected much to the consternation and exasperation of the White House only four months ago.

Indeed, President Barack Hussein Obama, as his right-wing and Islamophobic critics like to call him, said nothing to which even the most right-wing faction of Netanyahu’s government could object.

“I congratulate President Obama, and I am ready to sign on this speech with both hands,” enthused Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of the far-right – some say proto-fascist – Yisrael Beiteinu party, while Netanyahu himself called Obama’s address to the U.N. General Assembly “a badge of honor”.

“Listening to him, you would think it was the Palestinians who occupy Israel,” Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran Palestinian stateswoman, told Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, noting what even the New York Times suggested seemed to be the “hypocritical” nature of Obama’s enthusiasm for Arab democracy movements.

“He presented a double standard when he disassociated the Arabs’ fight for their freedom in the region from the Palestinian freedom fighters, who deal with the occupation for 63 years,” she said.

“What we heard is precisely why we are going to the U.N.,” she added, sounding a theme that has been taken up all week by many Middle East specialists: By siding so ostentatiously with Netanyahu and against the Palestinian bid for statehood, Obama has forfeited Washington’s 20-year exclusivity as broker of the clearly broken “peace process” between the two parties – a point made implicitly by the French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s call for the General Assembly to upgrade Palestine’s status to a non-member state.

“Witnessing Netanyahu’s stubborn rejectionism and President Obama’s inability to move the ball forward, President Sarkozy appears to be acting on Obama’s prediction last May at AIPAC (the annual meeting of the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee) – that … if there is no credible peace process, then others, including Europeans, will lose patience, and pursue alternatives to direct negotiations, including at the U.N.,” according to Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator now based at the New America Foundation here.

Such alternatives will likely become more urgent, he noted, as a result of the “post-Arab Awakening era, one in which Arab democracy will be less tolerant of Palestinian disenfranchisement than Arab autocracy ever was.”

So why did Obama, who, speaking at the same podium exactly one year ago, set a deadline of this week for an agreement on Palestinian statehood, capitulate so abjectly to Netanyahu and the Israeli right?

While his administration’s defenders claim it has everything to do with keeping the “peace process” alive and minimizing the chances of a new round of violence between Palestinians and Israelis, the answer is politics, or, more precisely, the perceived power of the AIPAC-led “Israel Lobby” in an election year.

“Once again, the transformational Obama has been sold out by the political Obama,” wrote David Rothkopf, a national security expert at the Carnegie Endowment, on his foreignpolicy.com blog early in the week.

Given his fading approval ratings and an economy that shows no signs of substantial improvement any time soon, the White House and Democrats on Capitol Hill appear increasingly panicked over their re- election prospects in November 2012.

They will do nothing that risks alienating key constituencies, particularly Jewish voters in a couple of key “swing states”, but most especially Jewish donors who account for an estimated between 40 and 50 percent of all contributions to national Democratic campaigns.

Since the beginning of this year, but particularly since Netanyahu’s May visit where he was rapturously received at the AIPAC conference, his Republican – and some Democratic – allies have deliberately and repeatedly promoted the notion that Obama’s alleged pressure on Israel to freeze settlements and take other steps to advance the “peace process” was souring Jews, nearly 80 percent of whom voted for Obama in 2008, on the president and his party.

When, on the eve of this week’s U.N. meeting, a Tea Party Republican, who was endorsed by former Democratic Mayor Edward Koch to protest Obama’s allegedly anti-Israel policies, defeated a Jewish Democrat in a heavily Jewish New York City Congressional district that Democrats had held for nearly 90 years, that meme was transformed into conventional wisdom, thus setting the stage for Obama’s speech – or surrender – this week before the General Assembly.

In fact, however, only seven percent of the mostly Orthodox Jewish voters in that election said Obama’s policies toward Israel affected their vote, according to exit polls.

And, while there has indeed been a substantial erosion in Jewish approval of Obama’s performance, it has not been disproportionate to the loss of confidence in his leadership by the public at large, according to a recent Gallup poll.

That survey, undertaken from Aug. 1 to Sep. 15, found that a 54- percent majority of Jewish respondents still approve of Obama, 13 percentage points higher than his overall 41 percent approval rating, and similar to the average 14-point gap between Jews and the general public seen throughout his term in office.

“It’s really about donors, not about votes, except perhaps in Florida (where Jews make up about five percent of the electorate),” according to M.J. Rosenberg, a veteran Israel analyst at Media Matters who worked for years at AIPAC and on Capitol Hill where AIPAC wields its greatest influence.

“The surrender we’ve been watching lately is all about the money,” he said.

“What AIPAC and other key groups like the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee do successfully is to convince both the White House and Congress that every dollar that comes from someone Jewish is about Israel, when, in fact, most Jewish donors are contributing because of a host of liberal causes they believe in – from social security and gay marriage to the environment,” he told IPS.

“But I’m sure that President Obama believes that his financial support from the Jewish community is heavily contingent on his backing for Netanyahu,” according to Rosenberg. “And right now, everything he does is motivated by his desire for a second term.”

© 2011 Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe has served as Washington DC correspondent and chief of the Washington bureau of Inter Press Service (IPS), an international news agency specializing in coverage of issues and events of interest to developing countries, from 1980 to 1985, and again from 1989 to the present.

A President Who is Helpless in the Face of Middle East Reality September 23, 2011

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Published on Friday, September 23, 2011 by The Independent/UK

Obama’s UN speech insists Israelis and Palestinians are equal parties to conflict

  by  Robert Fisk

Today should be Mahmoud Abbas’s finest hour. Even The New York Times has discovered that “a grey man of grey suits and sensible shoes, may be slowly emerging from his shadow”.Barack Obama made the ‘preposterous’ suggestion that Palestinians and Israelis were ‘equal’ parties to the conflict. (Reuters)

But this is nonsense. The colourless leader of the Palestinian Authority, who wrote a 600-page book on his people’s conflict with Israel without once mentioning the word “occupation”, should have no trouble this evening in besting Barack Hussein Obama’s pathetic, humiliating UN speech on Wednesday in which he handed US policy in the Middle East over to Israel’s gimmick government.

For the American President who called for an end to the Israeli occupation of Arab lands, an end to the theft of Arab land in the West Bank – Israeli “settlements” is what he used to call it – and a Palestinian state by 2011, Obama’s performance was pathetic.

As usual, Hanan Ashrawi, the only eloquent Palestinian voice in New York this week, got it right. “I couldn’t believe what I heard,” she told Haaretz, that finest of Israeli newspapers. “It sounded as though the Palestinians were the ones occupying Israel. There wasn’t one word of empathy for the Palestinians. He spoke only of the Israelis’ troubles…” Too true. And as usual, the sanest Israeli journalists, in their outspoken condemnation of Obama, proved that the princes of American journalists were cowards. “The limp, unimaginative speech that US President Barack Obama delivered at the United Nations… reflects how helpless the American President is in the face of Middle East realities,” Yael Sternhell wrote.

And as the days go by, and we discover whether the Palestinians respond to Obama’s grovelling performance with a third intifada or with a shrug of weary recognition that this is how things always were, the facts will continue to prove that the US administration remains a tool of Israel when it comes to Israel’s refusal to give the Palestinians a state.

How come, let’s ask, that the US ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, flew from Tel Aviv to New York for the statehood debate on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s own aircraft? How come Netanyahu was too busy chatting to the Colombian President to listen to Obama’s speech? He only glanced through the Palestinian bit of the text when he was live-time, face to face with the American President. This wasn’t “chutzpah”. This was insult, pure and simple.

And Obama deserved it. After praising the Arab Spring/Summer/ Autumn, whatever – yet again running through the individual acts of courage of Arab Tunisians and Egyptians as if he had been behind the Arab Awakening all along, the man dared to give the Palestinians 10 minutes of his time, slapping them in the face for daring to demand statehood from the UN. Obama even – and this was the funniest part of his preposterous address to the UN – suggested that the Palestinians and Israelis were two equal “parties” to the conflict.

A Martian listening to this speech would think, as Ms Ashrawi suggested, that the Palestinians were occupying Israel rather than the other way round. No mention of Israeli occupation, no mention of refugees, or the right of return or of the theft of Arab Palestinian land by the Israeli government against all international law. But plenty of laments for the besieged people of Israel, rockets fired at their houses, suicide bombs – Palestinian sins, of course, but no reference to the carnage of Gaza, the massive death toll of Palestinians – and even the historical persecution of the Jewish people and the Holocaust.

That persecution is a fact of history. So is the evil of the Holocaust. But THE PALESTINIANS DID NOT COMMIT THESE ACTS. It was the Europeans – whose help in denying Palestinian statehood Obama is now seeking – who committed this crime of crimes. So we were then back to the “equal parties”, as if the Israeli occupiers and the occupied Palestinians were on a level playing ground.

Madeleine Albright used to adopt this awful lie. “It’s up to the parties themselves,” she would say, washing her hands, Pilate-like, of the whole business the moment Israel threatened to call out its supporters in America. Heaven knows if Mahmoud Abbas can produce a 1940 speech at the UN today. But at least we all know who the appeaser is.

© 2011 The Independent

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Robert Fisk

Robert Fisk is Middle East correspondent for The Independent newspaper.  He is the author of many books on the region, including The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East.

Lies We Still Tell Ourselves about 9/11 September 3, 2011

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Published on Saturday, September 3, 2011 by The Independent/UK

 

Have we managed to silence ourselves as well as the world with our own fears?

  by  Robert Fisk

By their books, ye shall know them.

I’m talking about the volumes, the libraries – nay, the very halls of literature – which the international crimes against humanity of 11 September 2001 have spawned. Many are spavined with pseudo-patriotism and self-regard, others rotten with the hopeless mythology of CIA/Mossad culprits, a few (from the Muslim world, alas) even referring to the killers as “boys”, almost all avoiding the one thing which any cop looks for after a street crime: the motive.

Why so, I ask myself, after 10 years of war, hundreds of thousands of innocent deaths, lies and hypocrisy and betrayal and sadistic torture by the Americans – our MI5 chaps just heard, understood, maybe looked, of course no touchy-touchy nonsense – and the Taliban? Have we managed to silence ourselves as well as the world with our own fears? Are we still not able to say those three sentences: The 19 murderers of 9/11 claimed they were Muslims. They came from a place called the Middle East. Is there a problem out there?

American publishers first went to war in 2001 with massive photo-memorial volumes. Their titles spoke for themselves: Above Hallowed Ground, So Others Might Live, Strong of Heart, What We Saw, The Final Frontier, A Fury for God, The Shadow of Swords… Seeing this stuff piled on newsstands across America, who could doubt that the US was going to go to war? And long before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, another pile of tomes arrived to justify the war after the war. Most prominent among them was ex-CIA spook Kenneth Pollack’s The Threatening Storm – and didn’t we all remember Churchill’s The Gathering Storm? – which, needless to say, compared the forthcoming battle against Saddam with the crisis faced by Britain and France in 1938.

There were two themes to this work by Pollack – “one of the world’s leading experts on Iraq,” the blurb told readers, among whom was Fareed Zakaria (“one of the most important books on American foreign policy in years,” he drivelled) – the first of which was a detailed account of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction; none of which, as we know, actually existed. The second theme was the opportunity to sever the “linkage” between “the Iraq issue and the Arab-Israeli conflict”.

The Palestinians, deprived of the support of powerful Iraq, went the narrative, would be further weakened in their struggle against Israeli occupation. Pollack referred to the Palestinians’ “vicious terrorist campaign” – but without any criticism of Israel. He wrote of “weekly terrorist attacks followed by Israeli responses (sic)”, the standard Israeli version of events. America’s bias towards Israel was no more than an Arab “belief”. Well, at least the egregious Pollack had worked out, in however slovenly a fashion, that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had something to do with 9/11, even if Saddam had not.

In the years since, of course, we’ve been deluged with a rich literature of post-9/11 trauma, from the eloquent The Looming Tower of Lawrence Wright to the Scholars for 9/11 Truth, whose supporters have told us that the plane wreckage outside the Pentagon was dropped by a C-130, that the jets that hit the World Trade Centre were remotely guided, that United 93 was shot down by a US missile, etc. Given the secretive, obtuse and sometimes dishonest account presented by the White House – not to mention the initial hoodwinking of the official 9/11 commission staff – I am not surprised that millions of Americans believe some of this, let alone the biggest government lie: that Saddam was behind 9/11. Leon Panetta, the CIA’s newly appointed autocrat, repeated this same lie in Baghdad only this year.

There have been movies, too. Flight 93 re-imagined what may (or may not) have happened aboard the plane which fell into a Pennsylvania wood. Another told a highly romanticised story, in which the New York authorities oddly managed to prevent almost all filming on the actual streets of the city. And now we’re being deluged with TV specials, all of which have accepted the lie that 9/11 did actually change the world – it was the Bush/Blair repetition of this dangerous notion that allowed their thugs to indulge in murderous invasions and torture – without for a moment asking why the press and television went along with the idea. So far, not one of these programmes has mentioned the word “Israel” – and Brian Lapping’s Thursday night ITV offering mentioned “Iraq” once, without explaining the degree to which 11 September 2001 provided the excuse for this 2003 war crime. How many died on 9/11? Almost 3,000. How many died in the Iraq war? Who cares?

Publication of the official 9/11 report – in 2004, but read the new edition of 2011 – is indeed worth study, if only for the realities it does present, although its opening sentences read more like those of a novel than of a government inquiry. “Tuesday … dawned temperate and nearly cloudless in the eastern United States… For those heading to an airport, weather conditions could not have been better for a safe and pleasant journey. Among the travellers were Mohamed Atta…” Were these guys, I ask myself, interns at Time magazine?

But I’m drawn to Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan whose The Eleventh Day confronts what the West refused to face in the years that followed 9/11. “All the evidence … indicates that Palestine was the factor that united the conspirators – at every level,” they write. One of the organisers of the attack believed it would make Americans concentrate on “the atrocities that America is committing by supporting Israel”. Palestine, the authors state, “was certainly the principal political grievance … driving the young Arabs (who had lived) in Hamburg”.

The motivation for the attacks was “ducked” even by the official 9/11 report, say the authors. The commissioners had disagreed on this “issue” – cliché code word for “problem” – and its two most senior officials, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, were later to explain: “This was sensitive ground …Commissioners who argued that al-Qa’ida was motivated by a religious ideology – and not by opposition to American policies – rejected mentioning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict… In their view, listing US support for Israel as a root cause of al-Qa’ida’s opposition to the United States indicated that the United States should reassess that policy.” And there you have it.

So what happened? The commissioners, Summers and Swan state, “settled on vague language that circumvented the issue of motive”. There’s a hint in the official report – but only in a footnote which, of course, few read. In other words, we still haven’t told the truth about the crime which – we are supposed to believe – “changed the world for ever”. Mind you, after watching Obama on his knees before Netanyahu last May, I’m really not surprised.

When the Israeli Prime Minister gets even the US Congress to grovel to him, the American people are not going to be told the answer to the most important and “sensitive” question of 9/11: why?

© 2011 The Independent

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Robert Fisk

Robert Fisk is Middle East correspondent for The Independent newspaper.  He is the author of many books on the region, including The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East.

As a Holocaust Survivor, AIPAC Doesn’t Speak for Me April 29, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Human Rights, Israel, Gaza & Middle East, War.
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Published on Friday, April 29, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

 
by Hedy Epstein

At the end of one of my first journeys to the Israeli-occupied West Bank in 2004, I endured a shocking experience at Ben-Gurion Airport. I never imagined that Israeli security forces would abuse a 79-year-old Holocaust survivor, but they held me for five hours, and strip-searched and cavity-searched every part of my naked body. The only shame these security officials expressed was to turn their badges around so that their names were invisible.

The only conceivable purpose for this gross violation of my bodily integrity was to humiliate and terrify me. But it had just the opposite effect. It made me more determined to speak out against abuses by the Israeli government and military.

Yet my own experience, unpleasant as it was, is nothing compared to the indignities and abuses heaped on Palestinians year after year.  Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is based not on equal rights and fair play, but on what Human Rights Watch has termed a “two-tier” legal system – in other words, apartheid, with one set of laws for Jews and a harsh, oppressive set of laws for Palestinians.

This, however, is the legal system and security state AIPAC (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee) will defend from May 22-24 at its annual conference.  And, despite this grim reality, members of Congress will converge to hail AIPAC and Israel.  The Palestinians’ lack of freedom is bound to be obscured at the AIPAC conference with its obsessive focus on security and shunting aside of anything to do with upholding fundamental Palestinian rights.

Several years ago near Der Beilut in the West Bank, I saw the Israeli police turn a water cannon on our nonviolent protest. As it happened, I recalled Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 and wondered why an ostensibly democratic society responded to peaceable assembly by trying, literally, to drown out the voice of our protest.

In Mas’ha, also in the occupied West Bank, I joined a demonstration against the wall Israel has built, usually inside the West Bank and occasionally towering to 25 feet in height. I saw a red sign warning ominously of “mortal danger” to any who dared to cross in an area where it ran as a fence. I saw Israeli soldiers aiming at unarmed Israelis, Palestinians and international protesters. I also saw blood pouring out of Gil Na’amati, a young Israeli whose first public act after completing his mandatory military service was to protest against the wall. I saw shrapnel lodged in the leg of Anne Farina, one of my traveling companions from St. Louis. And I thought of Kent State and Jackson State, where National Guardsmen opened fire in 1970 on protesters against the Vietnam War.

So as AIPAC meets and members of Congress cheer, I hold these images of Israel in my mind and fear AIPAC’s ability to move US policy in dangerous directions. AIPAC does a disservice to the Palestinians, the Israelis and the American people. It helps to keep the Middle East in a perpetual state of war and this year will be no different from last year as it keeps up a steady drumbeat calling for war against Iran.

AIPAC pretends to speak for all Jews, but it certainly does not speak for me or other members of the Jewish community in this country who are committed to equal rights for all and are aware that American interventionism is likely to bring further disaster and chaos to the Middle East.

Israel, of course, would not be able to carry out its war crimes against civilians in Lebanon and Gaza without the United States – and our $3 billion in military aid – permitting it to do so. At 86 years old, I use every ounce of my energy to educate the American public about the need to stop supporting the abuses committed by the Israeli government and military against the Palestinian people. Sometimes there are people who try to shout me down and scream that I am a self-hating Jew, but most of the time the audience is receptive to hear from someone who survived the Holocaust and now works to free the Palestinians from Israeli oppression.

The vicious discrimination brought to bear against Palestinians in the occupied territories deserves no applause this week from members of Congress attending the AIPAC conference.  Instead, they should raise basic questions with Israeli officials about decades of inferior rights endured by Palestinians both inside Israel and the occupied territories. As for me, I will be across the road at an alternative convention called Move Over AIPAC. To sign up and join me, visit www.MoveOverAIPAC.org.

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Hedy Epstein is a Holocaust survivor who writes and travels extensively to speak about social justice causes and Middle Eastern affairs.

From Gaza to Jerusalem: JVP Statement on the Escalation of Violence, March 25, 2011 March 25, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East.
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Jewish Voice for Peace

Any act of violence, especially one against civilians, marks a profound failure of human imagination and causes a deep and abiding trauma for all involved. In mourning the nine lives lost in Gaza and the one life lost in Jerusalem this week, we reject the pattern of condemning the deaths of Israelis while ignoring the deaths of Palestinians. We do not discriminate. One life lost is one life too many–whether Palestinian or Israeli.

  Within the context of 44 years of the Israeli occupation of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, in the past two years (January 31, 2009 to January 31, 2011, starting just after Operation Cast Lead), over a thousand Palestinians have been made homeless by home demolitions, hundreds have been unlawfully detained, and over 150 men, women and children have been killed by the IDF and settlers, according to the Israeli human rights group B’tselem.(1) Many acres of Palestinian land have been taken and orchards uprooted by armed settlers. Countless hours have been lost at checkpoints, often fruitlessly, while Palestinians attempted to get medical care, jobs, and access to education. One and a half million Gazans have been living with a limited food supply, lack of electricity and dangerously toxic sewage.

  This is occupation: daily, persistent acts of structural violence. All in the service of a government that constantly expands illegal Israeli settlements on land that rightfully belongs to Palestinians.

These acts don’t reach our headlines because they are so habitual, so we learn not to see them. But Palestinians live them and their profound consequences everyday, and we must keep that in mind, even as we ponder the terrible events of the past few weeks:(2)

 

  •  A person or persons, (we don’t know who), bombed a bus stop in Jerusalem, injuring 30 and killing 1 Israeli civilian;
  • An Israeli bombing killed 3 children and an older man in Gaza;
  • A person or persons, (we don’t know who), murdered 5 members of a family, including three children, in Itamar, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank;  
  •  

    The Israeli government suddenly tightened the siege of Gaza and escalated military attacks, killing a total of 11 Palestinians and injuring more than 40 since mid-March;(3)

  • Palestinians fired over 50 shells and rockets from Gaza into civilian areas in southern Israel.

 These terrible acts of violence remind us that to end the Israeli occupation our best hope is supporting the inspiring nonviolent Palestinian movement for change, in the form of unarmed protests every Friday in places like Bil’in, Ni’lin, Sheikh Jarrah, and the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. This is a movement that respects life, that is part and parcel of the nonviolent democratic people’s movements we have been inspired by throughout the Arab world, that welcomes the solidarity and support of Israeli and international believers in equality and universal human rights.And it is a movement that may well do what no other government to date has done– pressure Israel to be accountable to international law and therefore help create conditions for truly meaningful negotiations.
  
Because it is so powerful, it is no surprise that the right to engage in nonviolent resistance, a foundational component of any functioning democracy, is under attack in Israel.
Human rights activists are being detained or imprisoned. Bills to criminalize the BDS movement, or harass human rights organizations, are working their way through the Knesset.

This is a movement that fundamentally subverts the logic of armies, revenge-fueled “price tags”, and armed struggle. 

Just this week:

 

  • The very act of publicly commemorating the Nakba, a crucial nonviolent act of Palestinian remembrance, was essentially criminalized in Israel by the Knesset.(4)The Knesset also passed a law allowing small communities in the Galilee and Negev to discriminate against anyone wanting to reside there who does not fit in with the community’s “socio-cultural” character.(5)
  • The Knesset also held hearings to assess whether the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group J Street was sufficiently pro-Israel.(6)
  • The IDF announced a new military intelligence-gathering unit solely dedicated to monitoring international left-wing peace and human rights groups that the army sees as a threat to Israel. The department will work closely with government ministries.(7)
  • Dozens of Israeli soldiers raided the home of Bassem Tamimi, Head of the nonviolent Nabi Saleh Popular Committee , and beat his wife and daughter while arresting him presumably on charges of “incitement” and “organizing illegal demonstrations.”(8)  

 

As the Israeli government increasingly deploys anti-democratic measures and military repression, we at Jewish Voice for Peace are redoubling our efforts to support the best hope- a nonviolent Palestinian-led resistance movement in which we all work together to nurture life, justice and equality. We invite you to join the movement.

 

(1) B’tselem: Fatalities after operation “Cast Lead”
(2) The Guardian, March 23:
Israeli-Palestinian tensions: a timeline
(3) Alternative Information Center, March 23:
Israel’s Military Escalation in Gaza
(4) Jerusalem Post, March 23:
Nakba Bill passes Knesset in third reading
(5) +972 Magazine, March 22:
Knesset passes segregation bill
(6) New York Times, March 24:
U.S. Group Stirs Debate On Being “Pro-Israel”
(7) Ha’aretz, March 21:
Military Intelligence monitoring foreign left-wing organizations 

and +972 Magazine, March 22: Military Intelligence monitors “de-legitimization”
(8) Popular Struggle, March 24, 2011:
Israeli Soldiers arrest Bassem Tamimi, Coordinator of Nabi Saleh Popular Committee

FBI Expands ‘Witch Hunt’ Against Antiwar Activists December 22, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Peace, War, War on Terror.
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Published on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 by Change.orgby Charles Davis

The FBI on Tuesday added four more names to the list of antiwar activists subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury as part of an investigation into whether members of the peace movement provided “material support” for terrorism.

[Photo Credit: Committee to Stop FBI Repression]Photo Credit: Committee to Stop FBI Repression

In all, 23 people have been subpoenaed since September 24, when the FBI raided the offices and homes of prominent activists in Chicago and Minneapolis. None has been charged with a crime. Several have also refused to testify in what they say is a witch hunt aimed more at intimidating those who dare speak out against U.S. foreign policy than uncovering actual ties to terrorists. 

And they’re probably right.

Thanks to a Supreme Court ruling this past June, the definition of “material support” for terrorism is now so broad as to include any sort of “advice” to a State Department-designated terrorist group, even if that advice is “stop engaging in terrorism and embrace nonviolence.” Former President Jimmy Carter and groups such as the ACLU and Human Rights Watch have spoken out against the ruling.

Because the definition is so broad, though, it provides the perfect legal basis for the government to go after those opposed to its policies abroad. And as the Bush administration ably demonstrated, there are plenty of people in government who would be all too happy to equate opposition to the U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen – just to name a few – as de facto support for terrorism.

“We are being targeted for the work we do to end U.S. fundig of the Israeli occupation, ending the war in Afghanistan and ending the occupation of Iraq,” says Maureen Murphy, editor of the news outlet The Electronic Intifada and one of those subpoenaed on Tuesday. “What is at stake for all of us is our right to dissent and organize to change harmful US foreign policy.”

Meredith Aby, another prominent antiwar activist who had her home raided by the FBI, likewise believes she is being targeted for exercising her right to free speech, not because the government actually believes she and other committed pacifists would actually support terrorist violence. She says that the questions U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald wants activists to answer – like which activists they met with abroad and what ideas did they express – proves as much. And like other activists, she said she wasn’t interested in answering.

“I’ve never killed anyone,” Aby says in an interview. “I have no blood on my hands. The blood is on the hands of the U.S. government, on the Israeli government, on the Colombian government. I’m not interested in helping kill people, and so there’s no way that I can testify at a grand jury about what people’s political ideas in places as dangerous as Colombia and Palestine.”

“We need to send a message that this has gone far enough,” she said. “We need to send a message to politicians that they will understand.”

Her advice? Tell Attorney General Eric Holder, President Obama and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald that you oppose using the law to intimidate committed, nonviolent peace activists whose only crime is exercising their right to dissent. Fitzgerald’s office can be reached at (312) 353-5300, while Obama and Holder can be contacted by signing this petition.

“At the end of the day, these men are politicians,” Aby says, “and they will make their decision in a political fashion about … how wide this investigation will go.”

© 2010 Change

‘Not One Word of Remorse’ from Driver Who Crushed Rachel Corrie October 23, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East.
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(Roger’s note: the Israeli soldier who crushed and killed Rachel Corrie was only “taking orders.”  When asked why he didn’t call for a military ambulance over his radio, he said: “That’s not my level of command.”)

Published on Thursday, October 21, 2010 by The Guardian/UK

Israeli soldier in bulldozer ‘did not see her’

by Harriet Sherwood in Haifa

The Israeli soldier at the controls of the bulldozer that crushed the pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie told a court today that the first time he saw her was when fellow protesters were already tending to her dying body in the dirt.

[Rachel Corrie's parents, Craig and Cynthia, stand next to a photograph of their daughter at the start of their civil case against the state of Israel earlier this year. (Photograph: Stefan Zaklin/Getty Images)]Rachel Corrie’s parents, Craig and Cynthia, stand next to a photograph of their daughter at the start of their civil case against the state of Israel earlier this year. (Photograph: Stefan Zaklin/Getty Images)

Giving evidence for more than four hours in the civil case brought by Corrie’s family against the state of Israel, the former soldier repeatedly insisted that had not seen the 23-year-old American standing in front of his 66-tonne Caterpillar bulldozer before she was fatally hit.”I didn’t see her before the incident,” he told the court in Haifa. “I saw people pulling the body out from under the earth.”

The soldier, named only as YB, gave evidence from behind a screen after a ruling by the judge for “security reasons”. A gagging order was imposed on identifying details, although it was disclosed in court that YB is a 38-year-old Russian immigrant who learned Hebrew after arriving in Israel at the age of 23 and now works for a food processing company.

The Corrie family had requested that they be given dispensation to see YB give evidence, which was refused. “I do feel that the state of Israel is saying [we] are security risks and I am affronted by that,” Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother, said after the hearing. “I wanted to be able to see the whole person, not just hear the words.”

Rachel Corrie was protesting against the demolition by the Israeli military of Palestinian houses in Gaza when she was crushed to death in March 2003. An internal military investigation concluded that no charges should be brought and the case was closed.

YB, who was in communication with his unit command and a second bulldozer on the scene, told the court that he was told through his headphones that he had hit someone. “I reversed … There was this thought that something wasn’t right … It looked like I hit someone. I didn’t understand what had happened.”

In evidence that frequently contradicted his own earlier affidavits, YB said he reversed the bulldozer 25-30 metres. “After I reversed I saw they took out a body.” He was “absolutely certain” Corrie’s body was between the bulldozer and a mound of earth he had been ordered to flatten, contradicting earlier evidence given by two other military witnesses.

Asked if anyone from his unit went to the aid of the fatally injured protester, YB said: “No, we weren’t allowed to leave [the vehicle].” Asked why he didn’t call a military ambulance over his radio, he said: “That’s not my level of command.”

He recalled being warned that morning that there were civilian protesters in the area, and some might be armed. “Did you see any of them armed?” asked Hussein Abu Hussein, the family’s lawyer. “I can’t answer that, I don’t remember,” said YB.

Later Abu Hussein asked: “Did they carry anything that made them look like terrorists?” YB said: “They carried a loudspeaker and a sign.”

“Did you suspect they were dangerous?” YB said: “I suspect everyone.”

YB had offered no explanations, said Abu Hussein. “You continued driving forward, you pushed the dirt and you buried her. You didn’t see anyone. You have no explanation of how [Corrie] was killed.”

After the hearing, the lawyer told reporters: “The more we hear the more the impression is that someone tried to whitewash what happened.”

Cindy Corrie said she was “glad to get this day behind me”. Although the driver was a key witness, she said, “my sense is that there are other people on the ground and in the rear who also have responsibility and were giving orders, and allowed these things to happen to Rachel and continue to happen”.

She had brought the book of her daughter’s writing to court, she said. “I wanted to keep Rachel’s humility and compassion for everyone in my heart today, but it was very hard as I did not hear one word of remorse from this witness today. That saddens me.”

© 2010 Guardian News and Media Limited

Peace Movement Under Attack by US Government September 26, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Peace, War.
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(Roger’s note: I have been waiting for this to happen.  I knew that it would only be a matter of time before the phony “war on terror” would be used to silence and repress opposition at home.  It has occurred to me that the Military Commissions Act and the effective abandonment of habeas corpus would give the government new and powerful weapons to attack the peace movement along with any other serious opposition to US military expansionism.

 

This was supposed to have been a Cheney/Bush thing, and the election of Obama was supposed to have reversed the trend.  How naïve to have believed this.  Obama has actually reinforced the federal government’s ability to act with impunity in the violation of civil liberties with its defence of states’ secrets and phony national security.

 

We have entered a new era of McCarthyism.  The association of legitimate non-violent protest with “terrorism” is uncannily reminiscent of the association of the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War era protest with Communism.  

 

It is classic red baiting.  It is déjà vu all over again.)

UNITED NATIONAL ANTIWAR COMMITTEE

http://www.nationalpeaceconference.org

UNAC, P.O. Box 123, Delmar, NY 12054; Ph. 518-281-1968

 or 518-227-6947  UNACpeace@gmail.com

 

Antiwar movement under attack!

Defend victims of FBI/government raids, seizures and subpoenas!

–     Statement and  Call to Action

 

   On the morning of Sept. 24, FBI agents armed with Grand Jury subpoenas raided the homes of several antiwar and social justice activists in Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois. As we write reports are coming in that FBI agents have been contacting other activists in Wisconsin, North Carolina and California.

Among those subpoenaed and/or whose organizations are under attack are supporters of the United National Antiwar Committee (UNAC). They attended our founding July 23-25, 2010, Albany, New York founding national conference of 800 activists from 35 states. The UNAC conference approved a 28-point Action Plan culminating in bi-coastal San Francisco/New York mass demonstrations demanding that the U.S. government immediately withdraw of all U.S. troops, mercenaries and war contractors from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Other conference –approved demands were  “End U.S. aid to Israel – military, economic and diplomatic. End U.S. support to the Israeli Occupation of Palestine and the siege of Gaza!”

Using the pretext of investigating “terrorism,” and with “possibly providing material aid to terrorists,” the FBI agents – 20 in the Twin Cities and 12 in Chicago – were armed with search and seizure warrants signed by U.S. Magistrate Judges and/or representatives  of the U.S. Attorney’s office. They seized computers, cell phones, political leaflets and other printed materials.  In Minnesota agents worked for 12 hours confiscating material including 30 boxes of literature, photographs of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X and pictures drawn by their children.

The individuals targeted included leaders of organizations like the Minneapolis Antiwar Committee, whose office was raided, the Palestine Solidarity Group, the Colombia Action Network and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

The activists were ordered to appear before Grand Juries in various cities investigating criminal activity and possible association  with  “terrorist” organizations. The earliest subpoena dates were October 5 and 7.

The FBI also has also served or harassed activists in North Carolina and Wisconsin as part of the same “investigation.”

The government’s subpoenas “commanded” the recipients to bring with them to the Grand Jury proceedings:

“(1) all pictures and videos relating to any trip to Colombia, Jordan, Syria, the Palestinian Territories, or Israel;

(2) all items relating to any trip to Colombia, Jordan, Syria, the Palestinian Territories, or Israel; 

(3) all correspondence, including but not limited to emails and letters, with anyone residing in Colombia, Jordan, Syria, the Palestinian Territories,  or Israel;

(4) all records of any payment provided directly or indirectly to Hatem Abudayyeh, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (“PFLP”) or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (“FARC”);

(5) all records of any telephonic or electronic communications with anyone in Colombia, Jordan, Syria, the Palestinian Territories, or Israel; and

(6) any item related to any support provided to any designated terrorist organization, including the PFLP or the FARC.”

All those subpoenaed have refused to discuss their political work and views with FBI agents, as is their right. They have publicly denounced these raids as an attempt by the government to intimidate and repress opposition to U.S. wars of intervention and occupation.

The United National Antiwar Committee denounces the government’s raids, seizures and subpoena as an attack on the entire antiwar movement and all organizations seeking social justice and an end to U.S. wars of intervention around the world. We stand in full solidarity with all those who now face government persecution and possible imprisonment.

The United National Antiwar Committee demands:

• Stop the repression against anti-war and international solidarity activists.

• Immediately return all confiscated materials: computers, cell phones, papers, documents, etc. 

End the Grand Jury proceedings and FBI raids against all anti-war activists.

We call on all antiwar and social justice organization across the country to organize protest demonstrations in the coming days at Federal Buildings or FBI offices.

  

Demonstrations have already been called in the following cities:

 Minneapolis MN, Mon: 4:30, FBI Office Monday, 111 Washington Ave. S.

Chicago, IL, Monday: 4:30 FBI Building, 2111 W. Roosevelt Rd.

NYC, Tues. 4:30 to 6pm Federal Building, 26 Federal Plaza,

Newark, NJ Tues 5 to 6pm Federal Building Broad Street

Washington DC, Tues 4:30 – 5:30 FBI Building 935 Pennsylvania Ave NW.

Detroit MI Tuesday 4:30 McNamara Federal Building

Buffalo, NY 4:30 at FBI Building – Corner of So. Elmwood Ave. & Niagara St.

Durham NC on Monday, 12 noon Federal Building, 323 E Chapel Hill St

Raleigh NC. Tuesday 9 am. Federal Building, 310 New Bern Ave

Asheville, NC Tuesday

Atlanta, GA, Tues Noon, FBI Building

Gainesville, FL on Monday, 4:30 PM at FBI Building

Salt Lake City, Utah, 9 AM on Monday at Federal Building

Albany, NY, 5 – 6 PM, Wednesday at the Federal Buildkng

Add your voice to denounce the attacks on antiwar and social justice activists. Call the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at 202-353-1555 or write an email to: AskDOJ@usdoj.gov.

Send copies of all communications to UNAC at the above email address. Affiliate your organization to UNAC now! Join our National Coordinating Committee of antiwar and social justice organizations across the county to immediately end all U.S. wars, interventions. Trillions for jobs, education and human needs not war!

Joe Lombardo and Marilyn Levin,

Co-coordinators, United National Antiwar Committee

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