INDEX (stories follow)
from Tikun Olam-תקון עולם: Make the World a Better Place by Richard Silverstein
I’m shamelessly ripping off a deeply moving photo-poetry collage by Patrick McManus, one of my Facebook friends, which I came across in my online wanderings. The poem (full poem here) exquisitely echoes the photograph:
Abu Salma: We Will Return (1951)
Beloved Palestine, how do I sleep
while the spectrum of torture is in my eyes?
I purify the world with your name
and if your love did not tire me out,
I would’ve kept my feelings a secret.
The caravans of days pass and talk about
the conspiracy of enemies and friends
Beloved Palestine! How do I live
away from your plains and mounds?
One thing to keep in mind about this photo is that it could just as easily be Arab Jewish refugees or any refugee anywhere in the Middle East. But in this case, it is Palestinian Nakba refugees. And can we ignore the pathos, ignore the tenderness, ignore the sadness, ignore the injustice? Only at our peril.
Look at the face of this beautiful little girl. So pure. So attentive to her grandfather. What did this suffering do to her? What did she become? Where is she now? And when, if ever, will she return?
Thanks to reader, Rupa Shah, for her help providing biographical information on the poet.
- ‘Israel Reconsidered’ Debate on Nakba, Right of Return Larry Derfner and I began our debate about the future…
- Move Over Nakba, Naksa is Here Until a few years ago, it seemed that the narrative…
- Video: GOD-TV’s Nakba Against Bedouin Negev Village GOD TV and Jewish National Fund’s Forest Of Hate from…
How Could I Not Go?
By JANE HIRSCHMANN
People often ask me why I am part of a team to organize a U.S. Boat to Gaza that will be sailing this month with the next International Flotilla to break the siege of Gaza. They often make clear they are asking because I am an American Jew, whose family survived the Holocaust with some surviving family members ending up in Israel. And my only answer is: How could I not?
My parents raised me with stories about what happened in Germany and their family’s escape. I came to see that Israel represented for them a safe haven should there be another attempt at annihilating Jews. And yet, at the same time, they worried it was not so safe a haven given the animosity and physical threats and violence in the area.
But no one ever mentioned the displacement of 750,000 Arabs that was the result of the creation of Israel. I vaguely knew there were people living there, but I was never curious about who these “others” were. All I took away from my family’s history and the atrocities endured was that this should never happen again to anyone, anywhere.
Growing up in the ’60s, I became active in opposition to the war in Vietnam, the anti-apartheid struggle and the women’s rights movement and later became involved in opposing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As a social worker, I was focused on social justice issues but never questioned the relationship between the U.S. and Israel and their policies regarding Palestinians.
Then came the war on Gaza and a real political awakening for me. Operation Cast Lead and the Goldstone Report were the catalysts. In November 2008, the ceasefire ended: Israeli soldiers broke it in a cross-border raid killing six members of Hamas and, in response, rockets were launched into Israel. Israel, fortified with American weaponry, attacked the people of Gaza. Approximately 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed compared to 13 Israelis. Gaza was pulverized. Judge Richard Goldstone and his team did a thorough report of the causalities on both sides. There was no doubt that the people of Gaza were disproportionally affected.
Right after the invasion in Gaza I realized I could no longer remain silent. I became one of the organizers of a group called Jews Say No! in New York City. We wanted to speak out and to make clear that the Israeli government did not speak in our name as they claimed. I began reading about the occupation, settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the building of the separation wall, Jewish-only streets for Israeli settlers, special identity papers for Palestinian citizens of Israel (one step away from wearing a yellow star) and the other indignities endured by the people of Palestine on a daily basis. And I saw the total collusion by the U.S. government – its unconditional support no matter what the Israeli government did, including giving them 30 billion dollars over a 10-year period for weaponry (F16s, Apache helicopters, white phosphorous, Caterpillar bulldozers used to destroy homes in Bedouin encampments) used ruthlessly against the Palestinians. This was intolerable for me.
I understand the fears and frustrations of Israelis being fired upon by rockets and the resultant deaths and injuries. But what about the thousands of Palestinians being killed and whose homes, schools, hospitals, farms, mills, factories and infrastructure are being destroyed? What about a people living under a brutal occupation who are being denied the right to live with dignity in their own homeland?
The siege and blockade of Gaza continue. The Israeli government controls the land, sea and air of this small area (25 miles long and roughly six miles wide) where 1.6 million people live. There has been no movement in recent years unless Israel allowed it. (Egypt’s partial opening of the Rafah gate to human traffic, though not to commerce, is a positive sign if it is allowed to grow). Most people cannot travel in or out of Gaza because of continuing restrictions, 61 percent of the population is food insecure, the unemployment rate is around 45 percent, one of the highest in the world, and exports remain banned with the exception of limited items like strawberries and carnations for European markets. Gaza is called an open-air prison even by England’s Prime Minister, David Cameron.
Given all this, I can remain silent no longer. Every day Palestinians are confronting the Israeli government at the wall, at check points, at demolition sites. They risk their lives. Like the Freedom Rides our boat is sailing to call attention to the illegal occupation and siege of Gaza.
My humanity and my Jewishness – Jewish history – demand my being part of an organizing effort to end the inhumane treatment of the Palestinians. The U.S. Boat, called The Audacity of Hope, will sail in late June to Gaza as part of the Freedom Flotilla 2-Stay Human. We will be approximately 50 individuals from across the U.S. committed to non-violence, human rights and freedom and justice for the Palestinian people.
To date, tens of thousands of individuals and over 80 organizations have endorsed this U.S. campaign and each day more sign on to travel with us in name. We travel in peace for justice, and I am proud to be part of this international effort.
Jane Hirschmann is a member of Jews Say No! in New York City and one of the national organizers of the U.S. Boat to Gaza. Hirschmann has been active in anti-war efforts for the past four decades. She is a psychotherapist and the co-author of three books. More information about the The Audacity of Hope is available at www.ustogaza.org.
A citizen was injured inaddition to dozens of cases of asphyxia due to inhaling poisonous gas inBil’
On May 22, thousands of supporters of America’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, converged on Washington for the group’s annual conference. For two days they watched Democratic and Republican congressional leaders pledge their undivided loyalty to the state of Israel, and by extension, to AIPAC’s legislative agenda. Speeches by President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu highlighted the conference, with Obama attempting to clarify his statement demanding that 1967 borders be the “starting point” for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
I interviewed several AIPAC delegates in the streets outside the conference. While few, if any, of them were able to demonstrate the slightest degree of sophistication in their understanding of the Israel-Palestine crisis, they had been briefed inside on how to respond to critics. No one I spoke to would concede that Israel occupied any part of Palestinian territory; none would concede that Israel had committed acts of indiscriminate violence or that it had transferred Palestinians by force; one interviewee could not distinguish Palestine from Pakistan. With considerable wealth and negligible knowledge — few had spent much time inside Israel — the delegates were easily melded by the cadre of neoconservative and Israeli “experts” appearing in AIPAC’s briefing sessions.
As the day wore on, many delegates waded into confrontations with members of Code Pink and Palestine solidarity demonstrators who had set up a protest camp across the street. With conflict intensifying on the sidewalk, Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin invited AIPAC delegates to express themselves from the protest stage. There, their most visceral feelings and deeply held views about Israel-Palestine crisis were revealed. See it for yourself.
- NATO Bombs Libyan Home Killing Nine Civilians, Including Two Babies
- Obama Rejects Senior Legal Advice to Continue Libya War Without Congressional Authorization
- Gates Acknowledges U.S. in Preliminary Talks With Taliban
- Iraq Claims U.S. Lost $18.7 Billion, Tripling Initial Reports
- U.S. Drilling Companies Stand to Earn Billions in Iraq Oil Deals
- U.S. Mayors Set to Approve Resolution Calling for End to Iraq, Afghanistan Wars
- Nebraska Nuclear Plants on Alert Following Missouri River Flooding
- Federal Regulators Work Closely With Nuclear Power Industry To Weaken Standards
- Spain: Tens of Thousands March to Protest Unemployment, Failing Economy
- Saudi Arabian Women Drive in Protest of Government Ban
- Syria President Vows Dialogue While Blaming Uprising On “Saboteurs”
- Pakistan: Drone Strike Kills Seven Amid Protests
- Pakistani Journalist Beaten By Suspected Intelligence Officers
- Investigation Opens on Bush-Era Attempts to Discredit Iraq War Critic, Professor Juan Cole
- New York Man Killed By Toxic Debris Added to List of Official 9/11 Deaths
- Former Guatemala Military Official Arrested For Involvement in Hundreds of Mass Killings
- U.N. Passes Historic Resolution Endorsing Rights of Gay, Lesbian, Transgender People
- Southwest Wildfires Continue to Burn, John McCain Blames Undocumented Immigrants
- British Peace Activist Brian Haw Dies at 62
Dozens of Americans hope to set sail this week on a U.S.-flagged ship, “The Audacity of Hope,” as part of an international flotilla which aims to challenge Israel’s embargo of the Gaza Strip. Palestinian solidarity activists are setting sail from a number of ports just over a year after Israeli forces killed nine activists on an aid boat called the Mavi Marmara, which was part of the first such international flotilla. Israel says it will again use force to stop the aid flotilla from reaching Gaza. We speak with passengers of the U.S. boat, New York labor attorney Richard Levy and peace activist, Kathy Kelly. Levy says the flotilla’s challenge to Israel’s embargo is legal, and that it is the blockade that is illegal. “It is a violation of the Geneva accords to occupy a country as has been done here through the control of all its borders, and then block supplies, block people from moving in and out,” says Levy.
Under new aviation agreement, an added 20,000 Israeli Hasidic pilgrims will fly to Ukraine for Rosh Hashanah at Rabbi Nachman’s grave
In prior coverage here, I noted that at almost precisely the same time the Mossad, Ukrainian and Jordanian intelligence services were collaborating to kidnap Palestinian civil engineer Dirar Abusisi and bring him to Israel, Israel and Ukraine were negotiating major new trade deals that were especially sought after by the latter. The Ukrainian prime minister even visited Israel and held a press conference to trumpet these deals shortly after Abusisi was kidnapped. It had all the trappings of a really sleazy quid pro quo.
Now, the seeds of Ukraine’s connivance with the Mossad are bearing fruit as the Israeli civil aviation organization announces a major increase in air flights between the two countries. There will be scores of new flights and tens of thousands of Ukrainian Catholic religious pilgrims traveling to Israel and Israeli Hasidim to Ukraine. Each tourist contingent will of course spend lots of money in the other nation. Increased air traffic will also no doubt enable further trade and industry deals that will enrich Ukrainian tycoons (and perhaps Israeli) and officials.
There is also one benefit specifically for the Mossad now in all this. Instead of bringing its own plane to Ukraine for the kidnapping of Abusisi, it will have a wealth of flights and airlines to choose for the next such extraordinary rendition!
Abusisi’s attorneys are planning to file suit against the Ukrainian government for its collaboration in the kidnapping. I’ve seen the official correspondence with his family and it’s beyond pathetic. Among other things, they claim because there was no police report made of Abusisi’s kidnapping, one could not have happened. They aren’t even good liars.
- Ukraine-Israel Quid Pro Quo: Abusisi Extraordinary Rendition in Return for Free Trade Agreement The Ukrainian government has tipped its hand regarding what may’ve…
- Israel to Charge Abusisi ‘Within Days,’ Ukraine Denies Involvement in Kidnapping, Summons Israeli Ambassador Perhaps in reaction to the damaging report from the Palestine…
- Shabak Modifies Abu Seesi Gag, Extraordinary Rendition as Act of War (By Other Means) Against Hamas and Gaza? Thanks to a major AP story breaking the Dirar Abu…
Maariv and Channel 2 News in Israel are reporting that Bibi and Barak are wreaking their revenge on Meir Daganin ways large and small, for breaking with them and almost single-handedly preventing an Israeli attack on Iran. It is customary for retiring senior government figures with diplomatic passports to retain them for the length of the term of the passport. However, Bibi is demanding that Dagan return his immediately (Hebrew and in English). This may seem like a deliberate act of pettiness. It is that of course. But much more.
Without diplomatic passport, Meir Dagan is subject to arrest in any foreign country he might visit which might recognize an arrest warrant for his acts as Mossad chief including the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabouh. Dubai’s police chief has already threatened to issue Interpol arrest warrants for Bibi’s arrest. So this is not academic. In essence, Bibi is punishing Dagan by confining him to Israeli territory, because he will surely be arrested if he visits or even touches down in many western countries.
What Bibi isn’t weighing properly is that Dagan could conceivably become a senior minister in a future government or, “God forbid,” prime minister (he can run for Knesset in less than three years). Then Dagan would be able to repay the favor and Bibi too would be confined to Israel for fear of his own arrest for war crimes.
- Bibi’s Office Sprang a Leak: Did It Involve Exposing Name of New Shabak Chief? Israeli media are reporting a major leak from the prime…
- Dagan Dumped, Mossad Fixer Captured in Poland, Did Israelis Mean to Capture–Rather Than Kill–Al-Mabouh? Newsweek has a fascinating article about the ongoing developments in…
- Former Mossad Chief: Mistake to Oppose General Assembly Vote on Palestinian Statehood Former Mossad chief, Meir Dagan has sent a thunderbolt through…
from The Only Democracy? by The Only Democracy?
From Gisha’s Gaza Gateway, more on the inadequacy of the new Rafah Crossing rules on the Egypt-Gaza border.
In no particular order of importance, we thought we’d list some of the reasons why the opening of Rafah, while significant and helpful, doesn’t meet all of Gaza’s needs for access and why, as some voices in Israel have recently suggested, it can’t serve as Gaza’s only access point. Despite four unanticipated days of closure last week, the crossing has been operating for the passage of travelers on a more regular but still semi-limited basis.
- Passage through the crossing remains limited: Egypt has indicated that it will operate the crossing six days per week during regular working hours, but it seems this won’t be enough: between 400 – 450 individuals have been able to travel through the crossing per day from Gaza to Egypt. From November 2005 to June 2006, approximately 660 passengers per day exited the Gaza Strip through Rafah and according to the Palestinian Crossings Authority, 10,000 people are currently waiting to travel.
- The situation is unstable: As last week’s closure of the crossing indicates, the situation on both sides of Rafah remains unstable, such that it’s not clear whether the crossing will remain open, nor exactly to what degree.
- Rafah doesn’t lead to the West Bank: Travel and movement of goods between Gaza and the West Bank remains severely limited, a problem which Rafah cannot address, as goods and Gaza ID holders are not allowed into the West Bank even via the Egypt-Jordan route. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip are part of the same customs envelope, and are recognized, including by Israel, as a single territorial unit, which, despite four years of tight closure, still shares one economy, one education system, one healthcare system and countless familial and social ties.
- Export is not moving and not through Rafah either: Export remains severely limited (about 2 truckloads per day, the last of which left Gaza on May 1, 2011, compared with a target of 400 per day in the Agreement on Movement and Access) and is currently not taking place through Rafah at all. This is impacting industries across Gaza which used to sell or export their wares in Israel, the West Bank and abroad. Before the closure, the vast majority of Gaza’s “exports” were sold in Israel and the West Bank.
- Construction materials do not enter through Rafah: Construction materials are being let into Gaza via Kerem Shalom only (between Israel and Gaza) for approved projects undertaken by international organizations and following exceedingly lengthy bureaucratic procedures. Each month since January 2011, about 10% of what entered monthly in the years prior to June 2007 has entered for these specific projects. At present, Egyptian authorities have not indicated if or when they will allow construction materials to pass at Rafah.
- Import of goods does not take place at Rafah: Imports to the Strip purchased by the private sector enter Gaza from Israel via Kerem Shalom Crossing. Even if Egypt were to allow goods to enter at Rafah (and there is no indication that they intend to do so nor when) the crossing and surrounding roadways are not currently equipped to handle the transfer of large quantities of goods, on the scale of the access needs of the Strip.
- Humanitarian aid does not regularly enter through Rafah: Aid enters Gaza via Kerem Shalom Crossing, between Gaza and Israel. At present, Egyptian authorities have not indicated if or when they will allow convoys of humanitarian aid to pass at Rafah.
- Medical patients in need of treatment not available in Gaza cannot always make the long journey to Egyptian hospitals. In any case, Palestinian hospitals in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, part of a common Palestinian health care system, are there to serve all residents of the Palestinian territory, including Gaza residents.
- Reports prove it: Restrictions on access at the crossings between Israel and Gaza (at Kerem Shalom for goods and Erez for people) continue to impact the well-being of residents of the Strip. Yesterday UNRWA published a study showing high rates of unemployment and the Association for International Development Agencies also reported recently on how limits on the entrance of construction materials primarily impacts the work of aid agencies and residents of Gaza.
- Rafah doesn’t lead to the West Bank: Oh wait, did we say that already? Well, we’re saying it again, because it’s very, very important.
I offer the following in the spirit of hangman’s humor preceding what I hope will be a safe passage for all my friends on the various boats of the Gaza flotilla.
The IDF, like all military organizations gives names to every operation it executes. Its planned piracy on the high seas against the upcoming Gaza flotilla is probably no exception. I thought we’d tear a page from David Letterman’s book and suggest a list of Top Ten (actually it’s bar mitzvah 13, but who’s counting) suggested names for this high seas fiesta. Here’s your chance to devise some new ones. The winner will get to ride with the lead IDF zodiac intercepting the first flotilla ship:
Operation Bleeding Heart
Operation Don’t Menschen It
Operation Samaritan Smackdown
Operation Quick & the Dead
Operation Eternal Victim
Operation Let’s Get it Over With
Operation Finish the Job
Operation No Humanitarian Crisis
Operation Mavi Marmara-You’re So Over
Operation Let’s Talk Turkey
Operation IHH-I Hate Hamas
Operation Hot Lead
Operation Lead Balloon
And from Helena Cobban: Operation Ungrateful Dead (you’re showing your age, dear Helena).
Thanks to an anonymous reader for the concept.
- First Gaza Flotilla Ships Depart Scotland Channel 10 Israeli TV reports (Hebrew) along with Israel Radio…
- IDF Kashers Checkpoints, Replacing Arabic With Hebrew Names Not content with having razed thousands of Palestinian villages during…
- Israeli Investigation of Gaza Flotilla in Disarray, Chairman Threatens Resignation, Bibi Relents After the Israeli NGO Gush Shalom filed a complaint with…