RACHEL CORRIE’S DREAM BECOMMING A REALITY

The dedication of Rachel Corrie is still an inspiration to hundreds of volunteers in Palestine. Rebuilding what the oppressor destroys without fear, without hesitation.

Below is an update of what has been happening, followed by links showing what you can do as well to help make Rachel’s dream a reality.

Rachel Corrie Rebuilding Campaign, Gaza 2nd Home: Updates from the Field

Updates from the Field (or Progress Reports) on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.com by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

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Index of Updates from the Field


Rachel Corrie Rebuilding Campaign narrow lead – please forward

By Donna Baranski-Walker – Executive Director, July 25, 2007 05:20 PM

Dear Friends of the Rebuilding Alliance,

GlobalGiving.com informed us that our project, the Rachel Corrie Rebuilding Campaign, Gaza 2nd Home is narrowly leading their international competition – and they have extended the competition to July 27th.

Please help rebuild the next home in the Rachel Corrie Rebuilding Campaign in Gaza, the home of physiotherapist Ali Al Bahry and his family. Donate now at GlobalGiving and help us win an additional $5000, $3000, or $2000 for this project through an eBay match.

1. Why build this home in Gaza now?
Our partner from Gaza, Mr. Husam El Nounou, Public Relations Director for Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, came to the U.S. in June to raise funds for this home. Husam remains stranded in Egypt, unable to return to his home and family in Gaza. Credible reports indicate some 5,000-6,000 Palestinians are stuck in Rafah and Al-Areesh and another 30,000 spread throughout Egypt as the blockade of Gaza enters its second month. Husam’s colleague, Dr. Mona El Farrah, lost her mother, unable to go home to be at her side.

Being home, going home, rebuilding home – our work is about all of that. Our projects are symbols of hope that help rebuild shattered communities and offer people around the world immediate ways to make peace, starting with the tangible support of a family’s right to a home. Frankly, we ask your help to rebuild a home for the Al Bahry family, and we also ask you to pick up your phone to ask Congress to speak out against this grueling blockade. Donate now.

2. Rebuilding during the blockade of Gaza?
Yes, we can – because we just did! The Rebuilding Alliance completed the first home in the Rachel Corrie Rebuilding Campaign in Gaza on May 24th 2007. We built it for the Nasrallah family, the family Rachel Corrie sought to protect when she stood before the Israeli Army D-9 Caterpillar bulldozer that threatened their home. When friends and family saw the home “that American families helped build,” they volunteered their time and talent to help finish it off right.

3. But how can the Rebuilding Alliance build this house during a blockade, when all imports of building materials have stopped – and even the U.N. has called-off construction projects?
Everyone is pitching in. Dr. Eyad El Sarraj is taking the list of materials to every contractor he knows to ask if they can spare ten cubic meters of concrete, or a re-bar or two. Khaled Nasrallah, an expert in logistics and part of the family Rachel Corrie sought to protect, writes, “The first step for the project starts with the drawings for the home. An engineering consultancy company in Gaza may want to provide this service as a donation from their company. The next step is to get the approval from the engineering association which also may be for free or with a big discount. This phase is the beginning and can show the world that the community still seeks to work in a healthy environment and uphold its responsibilities.”

Then the family goes to the municipality to confirm title of the land and apply for water and electricity. Please note that this may not be easy: The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, in urgent call to save the judicial system, also reports that the system of permits, taxes, and fees has been suspended. By applying for a permit and doing this publicly with reports back to you, our donors, we’ll find out where things stand.

The next step is building – and that starts with clearing land and digging. Our team will be asking the Gaza community to help, a brave step for all who step forward.

4. Can you still transfer funds to the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme for this project?
Yes, because the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme is a non-governmental organization, fully in compliance with the U.S. Patriot Act. Funds transfers to Palestinian NGOs for humanitarian projects are allowed.

5. Will rebuilding this house in Gaza somehow help the current government(s)?
Ours is a non-governmental project all the way. Construction is supervised by the Rebuilding Alliance’s engineer, the Al Bahry family, and our NGO partner in Gaza, the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme.

6. How does the Global Giving contest work?
GlobalGiving.com is offering all projects in their filmfest competition the exclusive opportunity to receive $5,000, $3,000 or $2,000! Thanks to the generosity of one of GlobalGiving’s most valued partners, eBay, three of the pioneering projects will receive these additional funds.

7. How can I help?
Please Donate Now via the GlobalGiving.com website and forward this message to your mailing list. It is a brave move for a family to rebuild during a blockade. Your support means everything.

In rebuilding peace,

Donna Baranski-Walker
Executive Director of the Rebuilding Alliance

P.S. Urge your senators and congressperson to speak out against this blockade and help Husam El Nounou, Dr. Mona Al Farra and thousands more return home. Please join our planning telecons on Fridays to strategize. The link to the script is listed below.

P.P.S. Rebuilding Alliance board member, Jenni Fischer, has created a blog primarily dedicated to her Run for Peace, a 31.3 mile trail run she is undertaking for her 30th birthday as a fundraiser for The Rebuilding Alliance. Its called, “The Good Long Road.” Check it out at http://jennifischer.blogspot.com/.

Links:

PALESTINIAN ECONOMY TODAY

Image by Abonoon

With the mess that the Palestinian Authority is in at the moment, what is happening to the Private Sector? Two Palestinian businessmen talk about the situation here in the following article…..

SOS: Palestine’s Private Sector
by Sam Bahour and Iyad Joudeh
July 30, 2007

The Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are Israeli occupied lands that have brought despair to all involved. The most recent chapter in this historic saga was the overrunning of Gaza by Hamas militants. As the world contemplates how to deal with this latest episode, one thing is for sure, June 2007 will go down in history as a turning point in the Palestinian Israeli conflict. Understanding whether this turning point will bring about a serious improvement toward real stability in the region can only be determined if a serious shift takes place in how donors deal with supporting Palestinians and how the international community deals with continued Israeli constraints to Palestinian development. Center stage in this analysis should be the Palestinian private sector which is the only place where sustainable development can be realized. As such, an integral part of every donor intervention should include support to the Palestinian private sector.

Britain’s outgoing prime minister, Tony Blair, wasted no time in landing his next job – special envoy for what’s called the Middle East Quartet, a group made up of the U.S., Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. He could not have picked a larger challenge or a more volatile conflict at a more sensitive time. Fresh in everyone’s minds is the failure of the last person who held the job, former World Bank President James Wolfensohn. Wolfensohn was a person of international stature, untainted by the Iraq war fiasco, a practical hands-on person, who entered the conflict on an evangelical-like mission to break the historic stalemate in the status quo and get things moving toward reviving the Palestinian economy. It took Israel merely one year to frustrate and marginalize Wolfensohn, which led to his resignation in humiliation. Blair’s path forward is definitely uphill, but windows of opportunities may be pried open if a new approach is taken, an approach based on sustainability and not only subsistence for Palestinians.

Ever since the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip over 40 years ago, Israel systematically linked the occupied territory’s economy to its own. Before the Oslo Peace Accords, this forced linkage was most apparent in Israel’s restriction of Palestinian business and its controlling the freedom of movement for Palestinian labor. For nearly a decade prior to Oslo, Israel issued work permits to tens of thousands of Palestinian workers to allow them to enter Israel to find work. Palestinian labor was found in Israeli construction, agriculture, hotels and the like. Dealt with as a second class labor force, Palestinian laborers were exposed to working conditions that allowed Israeli businesses to benefit from offering lower wages without having to stringently apply Israeli Labor Law. Many Palestinians workers even found themselves building the illegal Israeli settlements that were threatening the existence of Palestinian communities. For Palestinians, being able to work, anywhere, while under Israeli occupation, was a matter of survival.

The Israeli occupation authorities also levied taxes on the occupied people and used a portion of those taxes to flood the Palestinian areas with Israeli made infrastructure and goods. This created further Palestinian dependence on the occupier’s economy.

Contrary to the obligations embedded in the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, the signatories of this key Convention — the U.S., UK and Russia (previously the USSR) included — allowed for Israel, the occupying force, to create a structural economic dependency of the Palestinian economy while at the same time applying a maze of restrictions on Palestinian ability to become economically viable. Instead of demanding from Israel the application of international law, these countries, and others, continued reporting, year after year, the Israeli violations of international law while simultaneously footing most of the costs of occupation.

When the Oslo Peace Accords were signed in 1993, an economic arrangement followed called the Paris Economic Protocol. Just as the Oslo agreement itself kept intact the ultimate Israeli control over all key aspects of Palestinian life, the Paris Economic Protocol institutionalized the occupier’s economic interest in this bilateral agreement with the Palestinians.

After the Oslo agreements, state donor’s role in funding Palestinians’ “development” turned into an international underwriting of the Israeli occupation, reducing, and many times removing, the financial costs of military occupation from Israel. In short, knowingly or not, donor funding had an accomplice-type role in allowing the situation to reach where it is today.

For the most part, the Palestinian private sector is a recent phenomenon. From 1967 until the Oslo agreements the business community was nascent and deeply connected with Israeli suppliers, the only suppliers Israel would allow to have direct contact with the Palestinian community. The number of private Palestinian companies was low and the depth of know- how was shallow. Export-focused thinking was non-existent given Israeli restrictions and constraints. Nevertheless, the seeds of the locally grown private sector, which was able to maintain itself while the entire world was turning a blind eye, became the foundation on which the Palestinian business community was built.

With the advent of the Oslo Peace Accords the Palestinian private sector took on a new dynamic, one that was much more complex. A handful of investment firms were established that facilitated a flow of capital into the economy. With the newly created hope that the Oslo process was going to result in the end of Israeli military occupation, many Palestinians came to Palestine to work, which injected in the market new skills and expertise. This new professional class was global in scope and diverse in know-how, since their skills came from all four corners of the world, where the Palestinian Diaspora is scattered.

As new private sector firms started to be established –the first Palestinian telecommunications company, new hotels, and an information technology sector – Palestinian students began focusing on the new skill sets needed to be absorbed in the labor market. The Palestinian economy, although tiny, was a rapidly shifting economy, moving from traditional practices to modern ones, from an agricultural base to a service sector and export-orientated one.

As firms started to realize that they had common interests and concerns, especially with regards to dealing with the newly formed Palestinian Authority as well as the continued Israeli structural constraints that were still being applied, trade associations started to be formed. The majority of these associations were created in a dynamic that merged existing sector players and know-how with the newcomers that came from a different vantage point to economic development. Yet other associations brought firms and people together for the first time to establish brand new sectors in Palestine, such as the Palestinian Information Technology Association. All of this redefined the Palestinian focus on economic development and enriched the engagement of these sectors with the local environment and the dynamic of donor interventions which were driving the bulk of business activity.

Although donor money was the gas allowing the Palestinian economy to chug along, at no time did donors view the development of the private sector as the highest priority in building a viable Palestinian society. Donors assisted in the creation of sector associations and provided firm level assistance to some extent, but a strategic approach to the private sector never materialized. Many in the international community were quick to criticize the growing number of the Palestinian public sector workers, but few, if any, had the foresight to see that a strong Palestinian private sector was the only way to provide an alternative to public employment.

The international community collectively and closely followed the Israeli adoption of a policy of separation, which was publicly declared in a speech by past Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made in a conference at the Herzliya Conference in December 18, 2003. Then Prime Minister Sharon said: “If there is no progress toward peace in a matter of months, then Israel will initiate the unilateral security step to disengage from the Palestinians.” This unilateral separation policy immediately materialized in a drastic reduction of Palestinian labor allowed into Israel, from more than 160,000 in the early 1990’s to nearly 20,000 in 2003. Israeli officials also publicly announced that they intended to reduce the number of Palestinian workers allowed into Israel to zero by 2008. While the most visible indication that Israel was strategically changing gears was the acceleration in the building of the Separation Barrier on West Bank lands, there are realistic expectations that the separation concept will soon materialize in many other areas such as health, trade, banking services, telecommunications, transportation and many others. With the absence of any strategic alternatives, the unilateral Israeli implementation of separation can only lead to total collapse of the nascent, but already exhausted, Palestinian private sector.

All the while Israel was bulldozing forward, the Palestinian private sector buckled down and took the brunt of the Israeli pounding of the Palestinian community. Being, for the most part, dealt out of the developmental paradigm, the Palestinian private sector was left on its own to deal with the Israeli effort to force Palestinian society to its knees. After being structurally linked to the Israeli market for decades, Israel’s decision to unilaterally separate, or ‘disengage’ as it was called, from the Palestinians came at a time of utmost instability. The elimination of Palestinian labor that was employed in Israel increased the unemployment rate in the West Bank and Gaza overnight. The Separation Wall’s land grab separated farmers from their lands, causing strains of enormous magnitude on Palestinian agriculture. The Israeli military and political actions to weaken the nascent Palestinian central ‘government’ left the economy in a free fall. With security and economic conditions becoming intolerable, Palestinian emigration, or desire thereof, peaked. Palestinians held elections in hopes of getting things back on track. As a reply to the election results, Israel installed a policy of denying entry to foreign nationals, Palestinians and otherwise, which forced many skilled workers out of the country and stuck a severe blow to the education sector, which employed many foreign nationals. The list of Israeli actions to weaken Palestinian society goes on and on but all with a clear purpose: to stunt Palestinian development and prohibit Palestinian steadfastness, economic or otherwise.

Now, after the events in the Gaza Strip last month, we hope the international community has understood a key lesson: that the Palestinian private sector’s role in sustainable development is not a side show, but rather the only concrete platform that can create a viable Palestinian society. On average, donors annually injected $350-450 million into the Palestinian Authority from 1994-2000. From 2001-2007, the amount averaged about $650 million annually. This amounts to over $7 billion, more per capita than anyplace in the world except for Israel, which is heavily subsidized by the U.S. Of those funds, less than 5% were invested in private sector development. Even with this meager donor support, the private sector has proved its stamina and resilience in the face of crisis. Palestinian private sector achievements may be found in every sector and many seeds of a stable economy have been planted, but now need nurtured. Productive economic sectors have been organized, firms are now experts in crisis management, and a greater understanding of the limitations of economic growth while yet under Israeli occupation has been internalized.

The word “viable” has been used and abused in trying to define what a Palestinian state should be. Even President Bush’s new found interest in realizing a Palestinian state comes with the requirement for it to be “viable.” What does “viable” mean to Palestine? The viability of any future Palestinian state must come within the context of a sustainable private sector, one that can create sustainable job opportunities, develop competitive products and services for the local market first, and an export market as well. The Palestinian private sector must be able to absorb Palestinian university graduates and by establishing a knowledge-based thrust in our economy while also absorbing the tens of thousands of construction workers that Israel abruptly pushed into unemployment after forcing them to be linked to the Israeli economy for decades.

Viable development must be seen through different lenses than that of relief. On December 7, 2006 twelve UN agencies together with 14 NGOs operating in the occupied Palestinian territory launched an emergency Appeal for $453.6 million to help meet increasing Palestinian humanitarian needs in 2007. This is the largest appeal for emergency humanitarian assistance ever launched in occupied Palestinian territory and the third largest in the world. The backdrop of this appeal was summed up by Kevin Kennedy, the UN’s Jerusalem-based Humanitarian Coordinator who said, “Two-thirds of Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are now living in poverty. Growing numbers of people are unable to cover their daily food needs and agencies report that basic services such as health care and education are deteriorating and set to worsen much further.” This was all before last month’s events in Gaza, which are only exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.

With no political horizon with the Israelis, and after suffering the shock, and bleak aftermath, of recent events in Gaza, the private sector in Gaza must not be forgotten at this crucial moment. Gisha, an Israeli Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, just released shocking data about Gaza’s economy, post-Hamas overrun. They state that:

“75% of Gaza’s factories have shut down because of the closure of the borders. The rest of the factories are operating on a limited basis, on borrowed time, until the stocks of raw materials are exhausted.

85% of Gaza residents are already dependent on food aid – and the number is growing.

There is a serious shortage of raw materials, including flour and sugar for household and industrial consumption, and prices of raw materials have risen between 15% and 34%.

Approximately 30,000 factory workers stand to lose their jobs (factory employees constitute 10% of those working in Gaza, and on average, each worker supports a family of seven. In Gaza, unemployment stands at 35%);

Israel erased from its computers the customs code used to identify goods entering Gaza and issued orders not to allow any imports into Gaza, with the exception of humanitarian goods, such as donations of food, medicine and medical equipment.”

Gisha concludes, “This policy is destroying the business sector, creating a new welfare regime in Gaza, and turning growing numbers of Gaza residents into dependents on international welfare agencies and religious charities. As of today, 87% of Gaza residents live below the poverty line. The opportunity to earn a living with dignity and to build a properly-functioning society is disappearing. According to the chairman of Israel’s Association of Industrialists, Shraga Brosh, “the economic boycott on the Gaza Strip …will result in a humanitarian disaster, fueling flames and leading to deterioration of the security situation – a situation that will be destructive to the Israeli economy.”

The situation is volatile. Internal Palestinian politics are being put in the limelight as if the continued Israeli military occupation is an innocent bystander in creating the conditions for the Palestinian social collapse. The donor community has a historic responsibility to Palestinians, especially after so many years of observing the Israeli occupation from afar and a decade of footing the bill as Israeli actions continue unabated. The challenge to donors today is to convert assistance to the Palestinians to sustainable assistance, equal in priority to relief and humanitarian assistance, but sustainable in a way that creates an enabling environment allowing the private sector to assume its natural role of becoming the foundation of a future state.

- The writers are Sam Bahour (sbahour@palnet.com) and Iyad Joudeh (ijoudeh@solutionsdev.ps), Managing Partners of Applied Information Management and Solutions for Development Consulting, respectively, and based in Ramallah.


This article may also be found at ArabNews.com ( Part I and Part II ) and at Amin.org .

AN OPEN LETTER TO TONY BLAIR FROM THE YOUTH OF PALESTINE

Open Letter to Tony Blair from the Young Men and Women of Palestine

Please Support us http://BuildPalestine.org

http://www.humanemergencemiddleeast.org/open-letter-to-Tony-Blair.php


“It is Our Future After All!”

Dear Mr. Blair,

We are the young men and women of Palestine.

We write to you from our Palestinian home that is in transition, wanting to seize the moment to co-create a successful Palestinian state.

We are the Future; we wish to participate in shaping our future!

We are young, educated, forward thinking, and globally-minded men and women. We hold advanced degrees in Engineering, Information Technology, Sciences, Law and the Humanities.

We need a partner in the world community who will give us a chance to show our leadership.

We know that you, Mr. Blair, do not subscribe to the perception that all young Palestinians are blinded by ideologies or a limited vision of Palestine.

We are very keen on initiating an international dialogue with an overarching vision and overarching goals.

We want to lead an accelerated process towards peace, one that guarantees for both Palestinians and Israelis their rights and their future.

We extend our invitation to young Israelis to work with us towards the common good, and to build with us the bridge needed for true peace.

We would like to bring to the world’s attention that a new generation of young Palestinians has emerged and is connected to the world through Google, yahoo, Facebook, MySpace …

We would like to bring to the world’s attention that our worldview represents the majority in Palestine, despite the media and the international community’s attention on radical behavior. (For every helpless, angry or misguided Palestinian brother or sister, there are thousands of us who are holding the hands of our fellow Palestinians to forge forward towards a successful Palestine. )

We are ready to serve as a conduit to wide scale change and make positive systemic contributions to our culture, our educational and legal systems, government and social institutions.

We believe in capacity building and empowering Palestinians to move from where they are now to where they need to be.

We can serve as a bridge between Western culture and Arab culture.

We believe in building a Palestinian model for societal development that is culture-appropriate to our Palestinian values and we can deliver the concepts of indigenous democracy in ways that our people can accept and embrace

We can co-lead an international dialogue about Peace. Most importantly our unique contribution will be to translate the outcome of the bi-lateral agreements and accords in a way that our culture can embrace.

We aim to produce positive responses to any accord that focuses on building a healthy Palestinian state. We want to avoid the failures of the the Oslo Accord, where our leaders did not communicate the desired outcome to us and our people. The decisions made unilaterally by a disengaged leadership came as a shock to an unprepared culture that rejected a premature deal.

We are mindful of the breakdown in communication between our leadership and our people, especially with the youth.

We can form that link to translate international decisions into local implementations.

We ask you to deal with new faces and young people. As you interact with our formal leadership, we need you to encourage the inclusion of our positive voices. We will work very well with people in leadership positions whose expertise and strategic thinking are well respected.

We want to be a free Palestine, that is our goal!!

We know that as prerequisites to Palestinian Statehood we need to achieve the following:

· Build healthy institutions for a well functioning governement

· Build capacity in our people to enable them to take Palestine to the 21st century

· Address holistically the psycho-social problems inside the Palestinian communities caused by decades of conflict.

· Build sound economic, educational, judiciary, religious and healthcare systems for a well-functioning society.

We are dedicated to a democratic Palestine and to an accelerated process leading to true democracy.

We are gathering the hearts and minds of Palestinians towards a common goal and shared values: To build Palestine and make it succeed in the 21 st century

We know that as Palestinians we have a unique opportunity to build bridges, cross over divides, create common purpose and take the leadership role, not just in Palestine but in the entire Middle East, and not just here, but around the world. We want to stand tall, accept the challenge, point the way, challenge others and frame a new Palestine.

WE come from Ramallah, Nablus, al khalil, Bethlehem, Jenin, Gaza, Jerusalem, Jericho, Beit Sahour, Qalquiliya ….WE ARE PALESTINE

It is Our Future After All …. It is the time to give us a chance.

Sincerely,

Young Integral Palestinian Leaders
July 1, 2007

Nafiz Rifae: Chaiman of Alumni BU Graduates Union-Bethlehem

Deema Al-Shawa: UNDP Consultant-Ramallah

Louai Quaddumi: HD-Vision Broadcasting & Media Services –Ramallah

Maysa Gayyusi: UNRWA consultant-Ramallah

Ayman Abu-Arkub: – Network Design & Security- Al Khalil

Shadi Washah: Marketing & Computer Science/ AlQuds Open Univ. (student)

Iyass Aouni S.: Computer Science, Palestine Polytechnic University (student)

Murad Saoud S.: Business Administration/ Palestine Polytechnic University (student)

Suleiman Khalil S.: Psychology & Education/ Hebron Univ. (student)

Nidal Sharha: Psychology & Education/Hebron Univ. (student)

Issa A. Suwayti: Accounting/AlQuds Open Univ. (student)

Reem Jalayta : English Teacher-Jericho

HANDALA LIVES



I just received the following from the Tlaxcala Cooperative. I felt I must share it with all of you….

Click HERE to see the post…

THE SILENT VOICE OF PALESTINE

The Life and Death of Naji al-Ali: voice of a nation

24 July, 2007


It has now been 20 years since reknown Palestinian cartoonist Naji Salim al-Ali was shot in London on July 22, 1987 by an unknown assassin. He lapsed into a coma and died five weeks later on August 29, 1987. During his life time, al-Ali drew more than 40,000 cartoons and was know for his sharp political wit and criticism of not only Israel, the US but also the Arab states. In his work, he campaigned tirelessly for the rights of the Palestinian refugees, Palestinian self-determination and against the absence of democracy, corruption and inequality in the Arab world. His work was often censored and he frequently received death threats. al-Ali was also detained and jailed in various countries and expelled from others for his political commentary. At 10 years of age, al-Ali and his family were forced to flee Palestine to Lebanon, when Israel invaded and seized the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In Lebanon, he like thousands of others Palestinians, were forced to live in poor and over crowded refugee camps. This experience gave birth to his most famous creation, Handala (sometimes spelt Hanthala or Hanzala). The cartoonist christened his 10 year-old boy creation, who never spoke but was the guardian of the Palestinian cause, after a short bitter bush which can be found throughout all of Palestine. The bush although weak, if cut, has the reputation of growing back, time and time again.

Handala, dressed in rags and bare foot, according to al-Ali, represented him at the age of 10 years when he was forced to flee Palestine. “The young, barefoot Handala was a symbol of my childhood. He was the age I was when I had left Palestine and, in a sense, I am still that age today. Even though this all happened 35 years ago, the details of that phase in my life are still fully present to my mind. I feel that I can recall and sense every bush, every stone, every house and every tree I passed when I was a child in Palestine”. Handala, explained al-Ali is “a child who is not beautiful; his hair is like the hair of a hedgehog who uses his thorns as a weapon. Handala is not a fat, happy, relaxed, or pampered child. He is barefooted like the refugee camp children, and he is an icon that protects me from making mistakes. Even though he is rough, he smells of amber. His hands are clasped behind his back as a sign of rejection at a time when solutions are presented to us the American way”. “Handala was born ten years old, and he will always be ten years old. At that age, I left my homeland, and when he returns, Handala will still be ten, and then he will start growing up. The laws of nature do not apply to him. He is unique. Things will become normal again when the homeland returns” “I presented him to the poor and named him Handala as a symbol of bitterness. At first, he was a Palestinian child, but his consciousness developed to have a national and then a global and human horizon. He is a simple yet tough child, and this is why people adopted him and felt that he represents their consciousness.”

According to al Ali, Handala “protected” his soul when he felt weary and prevented him from ignoring his duty to his people and their struggle: “That child was like a splash of fresh water on my forehead, bringing me to attention and keeping me from error and loss. He was the arrow of the compass, pointing steadily towards Palestine. Not just Palestine in geographical terms, but Palestine in its humanitarian sense – the symbol of a just cause, whether it is located in Egypt, Vietnam or South Africa. I am from Ain Al-Helwa, a camp like any other camp. The people of the camps were the people of the land in Palestine. They were not merchants or landowners. They were farmers. When they lost their land, they lost their lives. The bourgeoisie never had to live in the camps, whose inhabitants were exposed to hunger, to every degradation and to every form of oppression. Entire families died in our camps. Those are the Palestinians who remain in my mind, even when my work takes me away from the camp”.

In 1982, al-Ali once again experienced first hand the military might of the Israeli Zionist state. Back in Ain Al Helwa refugee camp in Lebanon, he and his family and thousands of others were forced to flee from the camp. He and many others were taken prisoner by the invading Israeli army. He recounted once he and his family were freed five days later, they sought to return to the refugee camp: “We travelled by day. The corpses of the victims still lay in the streets. The burnt-out hulks of Israeli tanks still stood at the entrances to the camps. The Israelis had not removed them yet. From my inquiries into the circumstances of the resistance, I learned that it consisted of a group of no more than 40 or 50 youths. The Israeli army had burned the camp while the women and children were still inside their shelters. Israeli missiles had penetrated deep inside the camp, claiming the lives of hundreds of children in the camp in Saida. The young men in the resistance group had spontaneously taken an oath to one another that they would die before they ever surrendered. And, in fact, the Israelis never captured a single one of them. In daylight, the Israeli forces would attack. At night, the resistors would strike. This is what happened in Ain Al-Helwa, as I saw for myself. But I also know that there were other forms of resistance in the camps of Sur, Al-Burj Al-Shamal, Al-Bass and Al-Rashidi”. The subsequent butchery of Palestinian refugees in the camps shocked al-Ali to the core, none more so than the infamous massacre at Sabra and Shatila camps. For two days the IDF surrounded the camp, closing off all routes of escape and than sat and listened as their allies, the Lebanese Christian Phalangists, carried out the dirty work of murdering 3000 unarmed Palestinian men, women and children. (Israeli Defence Minister – who was later to become Prime Minister – Ariel Sharon was found personally responsible by an Israeli commission for the massacre, while the Israeli military personnel were found indirectly responsible because they knew the massacre was happening and did nothing to stop it)

In response, Handala’s 10 year-old hands become more animated, raised in anger and against oppression: sometimes holding a Palestinian flag or throwing a stone as a sign of resistance but always in condemnation of those who betrayed the justice of the Palestinian cause. His untimely death came just five short years later. Ten months after his death, Scotland Yard arrested a Palestinian student who turned out to be a Mossad agent. According to the agent, Israel were well aware in advance of the assasination attempt. Israel, however, refused to pass on any information they had on al-Ali assasination. In response, Britain expelled two Israeli diplomates and closed down Mossad’s last base. Despite his death, al-Ali’s legacy continues to live on, even now 20 years later. He once remarked that Handala, “this being that I have invented will certainly not cease to exist after me, and perhaps it is no exaggeration to say that I will live on with him after my death”. al-Ali words continue to ring true and since his death, his creation continues to speak out, in deafening silence, for Palestinian self determination. Handala, the small refugee boy, dressed in rags, silent in defiance and strong in resistance can be found everywhere throughout Palestine. And while his image is prolific, he is of course found most at home in the Palestinian refugee camps – the place of his birth – where he continues to remains a potent symbol of Palestinian resistance and defiance against all odds. Samples of Naji al-Ali’s cartoons can be found HERE

To Annie

VANUNU MANIA~~ ONE MANIAC IN PARTICULAR


NOTE… I had intended to publish this a few days ago but decided not to… The situation with the person in question is getting worse by the day so I felt obligated to change my mind. She is constantly naming names in her blog, making it seem as the people named are associated with her. THEY ARE NOT. She carries a laptop with her that will go through Israeli security when she leaves, putting in danger the freedoms of every person she met and spoke to…. read the following to see what and who I am talking about.

In the weekend edition of HaAretz, Meron Rapoport wrote an update on the Vanunu case. In part. he said …

Mordechai Vanunu doesn’t speak to Israeli reporters. He hasn’t forgotten that they were silent during the 12 years he spent in solitary confinement. Vanunu does, however, speak to foreign reporters. They don’t call him “the atomic spy,” preferring terms like “whistle-blower.” But if Vanunu, who was convicted in 1988 of giving details about Israel’s nuclear program to the British press, speaks with foreign reporters – and it doesn’t really matter what he says to them – he gets punished. Two weeks ago, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court sentenced him to six months in prison for doing just that. Therefore, Vanunu essentially must remain silent.

Vanunu does not want to live in Israel, and not only for ideological reasons. Gideon Spiro, coordinator of the Israeli Committee for a Middle East Free from Atomic, Biological & Chemical Weapons, and one of Vanunu’s only Israeli friends, says it is unlikely that anyone in Israel would rent Vanunu an apartment. He is also liable to be attacked in the street. Vanunu therefore does not dare set foot in West Jerusalem, remaining in East Jerusalem. There, too, he lives in a kind of isolation.

The Palestinians sympathize with him, says someone who knows Vanunu well, but are afraid to get close to him because the Mossad, the Shin Bet security service and the Defence Ministry all see him as one of the greatest threats to the State of Israel. “They planted around him, outside, the bars of the prison where he sat for 18 years,” said Michael Sfard, the attorney who, together with Avigdor Feldman, represents Vanunu. The entire article can be read HERE.

Vanunu has stated on numerous occasions that he was imprisoned because of his conversion to Christianity. Nothing is further from the truth. Vanunu was imprisoned because he committed a crime in Israel. He gave over classified information about Israel’s nuclear programme to a British journalist, at a time when he was in the employ of the nuclear facility in Dimona.
In plain simple English, ‘he committed a crime, he did his time.’
His conversion to another faith does not enter the picture at all, in fact it is not recognized by mainstream Judaism. When a Jewish male enters into the Covenant of Abraham Our Father on his eighth day, that contract cannot be broken. So in reality, Mordechai Vanunu who was born a Jew, will die one.

The Israeli prison system was successful in breaking the spirit of this poor man. I have seen him on numerous occasions walking the streets of East Jerusalem looking like a lost soul. He hid himself away in one of the rooms of a Christian monastery until very recently. In the evenings he hangs out in the bar or restaurant of the American Colony Hotel, home to most foreign journalists visiting Israel. It was there that he had many an opportunity to violate the primary condition of his parole by granting interviews to these people.
There is nothing new for him to speak of to these reporters, nothing has remained the same at the Dimona facility, he has no idea what is going on within that compound. The parole condition was strictly a way of further harassing this already tortured soul.

Before I continue, I must state that it is not my style to publicly attack or criticize anyone that is part of the movement to free Palestine. I never get involved in the petty, personal in-fights between some of our European ‘anti-zionist’ bloggers.
Having said that, I must also say that I have remained silent on the following matter for too long. That matter being the statements made by and present visit to Israel of a self righteous and self proclaimed journalist that goes by the name of Eileen Flemming. She publishes a blog called We Are Wide Awake (WAWA)
In her blog of Saturday morning she makes reference to the article above from HaAretz.
Eileen is here on an independent ‘fact finding mission’. She is here uninvited and unwanted, more so by Vanunu himself. On her last visit to Israel she produced a video of an interview with him. Knowing that his trial was coming up shortly, he asked her to remove the video from her site. SHE REFUSED TO. She told him that she is an American and it is important for the American people to be aware of his case, a right guaranteed them under the Amendment for Freedom of Speech. The FACT that this might help cost the man his Freedom completely did not matter to her.
What does matter to her is this was a perfect opportunity to promote her own name, her own causes and the books she wrote.

Since his request of her to remove the video, she has not missed an opportunity to promote it. This alone is a trait of a mega opportunist, not an activist in the slightest sense,

Eileen fancies herself as a Brenda Starr wannabe. One thing she fails to realize is that Brenda Starr is a cartoon character. Brenda did not mix where she was not meant to, and never put people’s lives or freedoms at risk. In her blog entry of yesterday she goes into HER history with the man, plugging (again) HER interviews with the man, emphasizing HER concern for the man. She does not impress me one bit with her self promotion, nor with her recent habit of declaring one to be a Saint or a Prophet, a term not usually appreciated by those who might be believers.

As if her damaging blog of Saturday was not enough, she had to add insult to injury by commenting on other sites as well… again for the same purpose of self promotion.
She starts her comment with…“I write to you from Jerusalem, and the truth is that Hamas has said they recognize the reality of Israel, but Israel has yet to recognize the rights of Palestinians and the Jewish convert to Christianity and whistle blower of Israel’s WMD program, Mordecahi Vanunu.

Yesterday’s Haaretz published an article about Vanunu quoting his lawyer and long time supporters. The bottom line regarding the state’s continued vindictiveness against Vanunu was summed up in a quote from his attorney, “The attitude of Israel towards Vanunu can be described only in psychiatric terms: It has a Vanunu Mania.”

Does anyone else NOT SEE a connection between Israel’s non recognition of Hamas and Palestine with the Vanunu case? Does anyone else NOT SEE the way she operates? She hears or sees the name Vanunu and she’s ‘right there’ plugging her own claim to fame.

Flemming much to often reverts to her Brenda Starr fantasy and negates reality completely. The reality being that Flemming is NOT a journalist. Journalists carry with them press cards or verification from an organization that they are representatives of same. Flemming has neither.

She claims to be an activist for the Palestinian cause. If this were the case would the residents of a refugee camp near Bethlehem assign a SIXTEEN year old boy to be her tour guide? (read about this in a blog entry of a few days ago) I get the distinct impression that I am not the only one that does not take her serious.
Her social outings and visits to ‘friends’ is often interpreted as activism by herself.

All I can say to this woman is,paraphrasing her own words, DO SOMETHING…and GO HOME! You are not wanted here and you are not doing anyone any good by being here.
Go into your Brenda Starr mode and hang out at Disney World. It’s much closer to your home and much less dangerous to the real people you are hurting here.

RECHARGING MY BATTERY

I’ll be offline today and tomorrow….
Time for a battery recharge…

Click on my links and enjoy! Seeya Sunday.

WHY PALESTINIANS ELECTED HAMAS

Image by Ismael Shammout

AND WHY THEY WILL AGAIN

If an election was held in your country today and two parties were running, how would you vote?
One naturally looks at the two, their candidates, their platforms, their proven records….
One considers which one will be the best to represent their interests in whatever government is formed….

If you read the following article from today’s HaAretz, you will see why the people of Palestine chose Hamas over Fatah. They seemed to know that a vote for Abbas was a vote for continued occupation, genocide and apartheid. So he was rejected….
Proof of the pudding can be seen here….

WAR CRIMINAL is the only way to describe Abbas at this point in history….


Abbas asks for Rafah Gaza-Egypt crossing point to remain closed

By Avi Issacharoff, Barak Ravid and Jonathan Lis, Haaretz Correspondents
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas asked Israel and Egypt prevent the movement of people from Egypt to the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing, after Hamas’ mid-June takeover of the coastal strip, Palestinian sources said Tuesday.

Abbas said that if the crossing is opened, Hamas will be able to let in thousands of people without supervision into Gaza – including activists who could strengthen the group, which rival Abbas’ Fatah movement.

The Rafah border crossing has remained closed since Hamas’ ousting of Fatah from Gaza.

THIS is what Abbas wants continued. CRIMINAL!

To Robin

PEACE IS NOT A ONE SIDED DEAL

FACT…. In January of 2006 the Palestinian people went to the polls and elected Hamas to lead them.

FACT…. In January 2006 Israel, The United States, Britain and others declared that they will NEVER recognise a government set up by Hamas.

FACT…. Israel has intensified its policis of genocide and apartheid against the Palestinian nation since the day of their election.

FACT…. Israel has withheld millions of dollars owed to the Palestian Authority from tax revenues, making it virtually impossible for Hamas to operate efficiently.

FACT…. In June of 2007, Israel and its western allies instigated a coup in the Palestinian Authority, helped set up a puppet government in the West Bank led by former President Mahmoud Abbas, further isolating the legitimate government led by Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh.

NOW… Israel and its allies are satisfied that Palestine is once again (still) under their control and is prepared to make peace with them.

But who is THEM???? It seems that THEM is everyone BUT the Palestinians. THEM is the USA, Britain, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations (the Quartet)… Seems that EVERYONE but the Palestinians are running the affairs of Palestine. Is this the road to peace? I think not. Peace is not a one sided deal and will never become a reality without the input of the parties involved in the conflict.

Hamas officials had the following to say about Bush’s call for a ‘peace conference’….

Hamas rejected US President George W. Bush’s call for an international peace conference in the fall on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which “aims to serve the interests of the Zionist enemy” according to Hamas spokesperson Ismail Radwan.

“Such a summit will lead to increased pressure on (PA President Mahmoud) Abbas, and will tear a deeper rift between Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank,” Radwan declared.

The rest can be read in THIS report from Ynet….

A short video of Bush’s speech can be viewed HERE

A New York Times report on Bush’s speech can be read HERE

And the Pièce de résistance can be read here in a report from todays’s HaAretz…

Blair to arrive in J’lem next week to start work as Quartet envoy
By Aluf Benn , Haaretz Correspondent
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is to arrive in Jerusalem on Monday next week to begin work as the “Quartet” special envoy to the region.

As the emissary of the group made-up of the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia, Blair has taken upon himself to establish Palestinian institutions as a basis for the future Palestinian state.

Blair’s mission will be officially launched at a meeting with Quartet ministers in Lisbon on Thursday.

Blair said he would stay in the region for one week every month. He has appointed as his chief of staff Nick Banner, who worked with Sir Nigel Sheinwald, Blair’s foreign policy adviser in Downing Street.

He intends to add staff members from the USAID agency, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.

A suitable building for Blair’s office in Jerusalem has not yet been found due to high real estate prices.

AMERICANS SHOULD VISIT GAZA AND THE WEST BANK DESPITE WARNINGS NOT TO

The United States helped to create the chaos in Gaza and the West Bank and now has the ‘chutzpah’ to advise its citizens not to visit there. I question the motives behind this travel warning…. is it for the safety of its citizens, as they claim, or is it to prevent Americans from seeing the real truth of what 40 years of American supported Israeli Occupation looks like.

Americans are not used to seeing walls built to separate families from each other. Americans are not used to seeing children shot dead for flying kites or playing on the beach. Americans never saw a pregnant woman being prevented from getting to a hospital to give birth. These are just a few examples of what Americans never saw.

I say, come…. see your tax dollars at work…. see how your government is helping to commit genocide against another. I say, ignore the following warning! You can read about the warning below… in a Reuters report

U.S. issues warning to citizens against traveling to Gaza Strip
By Reuters

The United States issued a fresh travel warning for Israel and the Palestinian territories on Friday to include American journalists and aid workers after a spate of violence and political instability.

In a notice that superseded a warning issued on Jan. 17, the State Department urged U.S. citizens to be mindful of security when considering travel to Israel, to defer trips to the West Bank and avoid all travel to the Gaza Strip.

“American citizens in the Gaza Strip should depart immediately, a recommendation that the State Department has maintained and renewed since the deadly roadside bombing of a U.S. Embassy convoy in Gaza on Oct. 15, 2003,” it said.

“This recommendation applies to all Americans, including journalists and aid workers.”

The statement noted “considerable violence” in the Gaza Strip in recent months between Palestinian factions and between Israeli security forces and Palestinian militants.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas rejigged his government on Friday upon the expiration of a state of emergency he had declared when the Islamist movement Hamas violently seized control of Gaza a month ago.

Hamas, which has militant and political wings, won an election victory 18 months ago that led to an international aid embargo of the Palestinian Authority.

The United States, a key ally to Israel, lists Hamas as a terrorist organization.

The travel warning said militant groups in Gaza continue to launch rockets against nearby Israeli towns and urged U.S. citizens to “exercise a high degree of caution” when going to restaurants, malls, places of worship and other public places.

“Israeli authorities are concerned about the continuing threat of suicide bombings,” it said. “The U.S. government has received information indicating that American interests could be the focus of terrorist attacks.”

THE HORRORS OF DARFUR

With all that is going on in the Middle East today, Palestine, Israel, Iran Iraq…. we mustn’t forget that the people of Darfur are still suffering as well.

Americans will have the opportunity to ask the Presidential candidates where they stand on the Darfur crisis through THIS site…

John Lennon’s song Working Class Hero is being used in the campaign to end the fighting there….

AIPAC GIVES ‘KISS OF DEATH’ TO ABBAS

Image by David Baldinger
‘Politics breeds strange bedfellows’… there is no other way to describe this new glowing love affair between Abbas’ puppet regime and AIPAC. Is this not proof that this new ‘leadership’ of the Palestinian people is working only in the interests of Israel, abandoning completely the desires of their own nation?

Since its formation in 1953, the most intensive period of the Cold War, AIPAC has been dedicated to the eradication of the Palestinian people. They have openly supported every genocidal crime committed by Israel since that time. And now this? Support of Abbas and Company?

One has to wonder if that is the case, what are Abbas’ true motives? Is the total destruction of Palestine on his agenda? He already carved the nation in half… what’s next?

If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, that what could you call the friend of my enemy? Both AIPAC and Abbas have proven to be enemies… they look good in bed together!

The following report from The Forward deals with this new love affair…

Pro-Israel Lobby Throws Support Behind Fatah-Led Palestinian Cabinet
Washington Eyes Aid Increase as Hamas Brings Order Back to Gaza

Nathan Guttman

Washington – Pro-Israel lobbyists and legislators have become unexpected cheerleaders for the Palestinian leadership after the new Fatah-led Cabinet took action against Hamas.

In a memo sent out to congressional offices this week, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee commended the new Palestinian government for “taking important steps needed for peace” and for breaking ties with Hamas, which now rules Gaza.

“If followed with consistent action, these promising steps can serve as the foundation for negotiations with Israel,” the Aipac memo reads.

Separately, Rep. Steve Israel, a New York Democrat, traveled to Ramallah to visit with the new Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad. Congress will soon vote on funding for the Palestinians, and Israel said he is now more disposed to supporting the aid.

“I want to see performance and benchmarks before making a decision,” Israel said, “but while in the past I did not want to see money go to a government headed by Hamas, I am now more willing to hear of aid for a government which excludes the Hamas.”

The pro-Israel lobby has long been a leading voice in demanding strict scrutiny of the Palestinian Authority and in focusing lawmakers’ attention on problems of accountability within the Palestinian leadership.

The new attitude in Washington toward the Fatah-led Palestinian government comes against a backdrop of recent successes by Hamas in Gaza. Since Hamas took over Gaza, rocket firing toward Israel has decreased, internal fighting has stopped and a kidnapped BBC reporter was released with the help of Hamas.

For Fatah, in contrast, changes on the ground in the West Bank are, so far, few and less visible.

The Aipac memo lists several recent steps taken by Abbas and Fayyad, including the dissolution of the national unity government with Hamas, the orders for presidential guards to take action against Hamas militants in the West Bank and the outlawing of militias in the Palestinian territories. The Palestinian leaders also won praise for their rhetoric on the peace process and their renunciation of violence as a means of achieving political goals.

At the same time, Aipac stressed the need for the new Palestinian government to keep up the policy of rejecting Hamas and called on Arab countries to help Abbas by isolating Hamas both diplomatically and financially.

Aipac’s new policy memo comes as the administration begins consulting with Congress on changes to the proposed $86 million aid package for Abbas’s security forces, which was proposed by American military coordinator Keith Dayton. While Congress scaled down the original package, the State Department is now trying again to increase the aid, following the formation of the new Palestinian government in the West Bank.

Aipac did not oppose the increase in aid.

The funding issue was also central to the meeting between New York representative Israel and the Palestinian prime minister. Israel, a Democratic member of the House Appropriations Committee, told the Forward after the meeting that he is “slightly more comfortable” about approving money for the Palestinian guard.

In the meeting, Fayyad expressed his wish to see the P.A. improve ties with Congress, which has traditionally taken a more critical approach toward relations with the Palestinians than the administration. Fayyad, according to Rep. Israel, said that he “means business” and that the Palestinians are aware of the fact that Congress has been skeptical about releasing funds for the Palestinians.

Fayyad enjoys widespread support in the United States, from administration officials and from lawmakers who have praised the steps he has taken to ensure financial accountability in the P.A.

When she visits the region next week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to meet with Fayyad and with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Rice’s meetings will be part of the new push to support the Palestinian government, which will be complemented by the first visit of former British prime minister Tony Blair in his new capacity as the diplomatic quartet’s special envoy for the Middle East. Representatives of the quartet — the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations — were scheduled to meet Wednesday in preparation for Blair’s mission.

A diplomatic source said that if progress is seen on the ground and the Palestinian government maintains its drive against violence, the next step could be an invitation for a high-level meeting in Washington between Palestinian and American leaders.

ISRAEL’S UNBELIEVABLE INHUMANITY WORSENS

The following story is UNBELIEVABLE. Even animals are kinder to each other than zionists are to fellow human beings…

Yet Abbas will meet with them next week in Jericho… also UNFORGIVABLE!
Read the following to see the latest in ziofascism at work… from a Ynet report

Palestinian’s legs severed after his request to enter Israel denied

Fatah member loses both legs after his request to receive medical treatment in Israel rejected due to security concerns. ‘I fail to understand how a man who is missing one or two legs can jeopardize the country’s security,’ Physicians for Human Rights member says

Meital Yasur Beit-Or

A 25-year-old Fatah member who was injured during the recent clashes with Hamas in Gaza was denied entry to Israel for medical treatment and lost both of his legs as a result.

According to the Sin Bet and the IDF District Coordination Office’s (DCO) position on the matter, which was submitted to the High Court of Justice, the Palestinian was deemed a security threat.

Ma’ala Uda was prohibited from entering the country despite the opinion of Prof Professor Raphael Walden, Deputy Director of the General Hospital at the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer. At the time Walden wrote that Uda required immediate medical attention “or else his legs may have to be amputated”.

The DCO rejected the request and one of the Palestinian’s legs was in fact severed. During a hearing on the matter it was made know that his other leg was also in danger, but the High Court adopted the Shin Bet’s standpoint that Uda was a security threat to Israel. Two days later the Palestinian’s other leg was amputated in Gaza.

“With all due respect to the Shin Bet’s work and concern for Israel’s security, I fail to understand how a man who is missing one or two legs can jeopardize the country’s security; it’s simply ridiculous,” Ran Yaron of the Physicians for Human Rights organization said.

“We told the court we would be willing to contract a security firm to escort patients from Gaza to the Allenby crossing so that they may receive treatment in Jordan, but the Shin Bet rejected this suggestion as well.”

‘Injured Gazans linked to terror groups’

Another Palestinian, who was at risk of losing his eyesight, was also denied entry to Israel on similar grounds.

The Physicians for Human Rights group claimed Wednesday that in recent weeks the High Court has been discriminating between Palestinians whose lives were in danger and those who had sustained less severe injuries.

The group said there were numerous cases in which Palestinians were denied entry to Israel due to security concerns.

In one such case, a 19-year-old Palestinian suffering from a brain tumor died after the approval of his request for an entry permit was delayed.

The Shin Bet said in response that the Palestinian petitioners were linked to terror groups.

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

I noticed over the past few days that I have been getting hundreds of new readers from… Russia, of all places.
They are clicking onto my site via THIS link.
I have no idea what that site is saying… or what they said about my blog, but it seems to be generating allot of interest.
All I can say to these people is… WELCOME TO MY BLOG!
Hope you enjoy it and come again!!

TONY BLAIR TO BRING PEACE TO MIDDLE EAST

Soon Tony Blair will set up his office in the region. His past actions in Iraq as Bush’s main lackey have earned him the appointment of ‘Special Envoy for Peace’, with the blessings of the European Union, The United States and the British government. Special Envoy for Peace??? Just look at his and his government’s record in Iraq…. like the old saying goes….‘With friends like that, you don’t need enemies.’

Carlos Latuff presents his views on British involvement in Iraq in these images...

All images COPYLEFT by Carlos Latuff

THE NERVE OF SOME FETUSES


Image by Carlos Latuff


Yesterday the UN issued a report on the status of the ‘separation fence’ and its effect on the Palestinians trapped on the wrong side of it.
A whole nation is being collectively punished because of the whims of zion, whims that are slowly killing that nation, one by one, starting with the unborn.

The following article from today’s HaAretz deals with this situation…

Border Control / Who told them to give birth at night?

By Akiva Eldar

The small village of Azun Athma is located in the southeastern part of the West Bank, not far from Qalqilyah and too close to Israel and the Jewish settlements of Etz Efraim, Elkanah, Sha’are Tikva and Oranit, which surround it in all directions. To ensure the security of the residents of Israel and for the sake of the settlers’ convenience, the Palestinian village has been encircled by a fence and has become an enclave closed on all sides. In order to partake of essential services in the West Bank, the inhabitants of Azun Athma pass through a gate controlled by the Israel Defense Forces. They undergo physical searches each time they exit and enter. At 10 P.M. the soldiers close the gate and only open it again the next morning at 6 A.M.

It is common knowledge that the Palestinians suffer from a serious lack of discipline, which starts in their mother’s womb. There are fetuses that insist on coming into this world right at the time when the Israeli soldiers go to sleep. What is to be done with these babies when Azun Athma only has a clinic providing the most basic services for two hours, twice a week? To make sure they will receive proper medical care during the birth, pregnant women (in an average year about 50 babies are born in the village) tend to leave their homes and move in with relatives, who reside in places where one can obtain accessible and good medical services. Thus, of the 33 babies that were born to inhabitants of the village between January of this year and the beginning of June, 20 were born outside the village. The others were born in their mothers’ homes without the aid of a doctor or a qualified midwife.

According to a report published yesterday by the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the publication of which coincided with the third anniversary of the ruling by the International Court of Justice in The Hague concerning the security fence, the 10 Palestinian communities surrounded by the fence have no access to 24-hour emergency services. The authors of the report estimate that when construction of the fence is completed along the planned route, about 50,000 people will find themselves in a similar situation.

Their examination of 57 Palestinian communities also shows that the ruling of the International Court of Justice has not resulted in a dramatic change in the situation: of the 61 passages in the fence, only 26 are open all year round for the use of Palestinian farmers, while less than half the farmers enjoy direct and regular access to their lands; the gates are open only 64 percent of the planned and declared time; in 72 percent of the communities there have been complaints about routine humiliation and verbal harassment on the part of the soldiers; 24 percent of the communities complained of damage caused to produce as a result of being refused entry to agricultural areas; and 85 percent of traditional roads have been ruined and cut off by the fence.

If the report by the UN institutions casts doubt on the justice of the fence with regard to the Palestinian side, the new Brodet Committee report on the defense budget casts equal doubt on the wisdom of the fence with regard to the Israeli side. “The manner of constructing the fence is another example of wasteful thought and conduct. The committee was not convinced that the process of building the fence is being implemented with the necessary consideration and in taking into account all the security and economic considerations.”

When reading this sentence, it is highly recommended to contemplate the hue and cry surrounding the cut in the defense budget. “According to information transmitted to the committee, the cost of the fence amounts to NIS 13 to 15 billion. This large expenditure was not considered as an important element to security, nor was its budgetary significance given due attention. The army sees itself as a subcontractor carrying out instructions to build a fence, without clarifying for itself the significance of this expenditure and the price for its maintenance, which will amount to hundreds of millions of shekels a year.”

Colonel (res.) Shaul Arieli, who represents the Council for Peace and Security in petitions against the fence route, has repeatedly presented the High Court of Justice with alternative routes that would save the state coffers hundreds of millions of shekels. He notes that it was the High Court of Justice that rejected the opinion of the International Court of Justice in The Hague on the grounds that its decision had been made on the basis of incomplete and mistaken data. According to Arieli, the fact that the government and the security establishment are ignoring a number of High Court rulings constitutes contempt of the court and the rule of law in the eyes of the world. In addition, this attitude is delaying completion of the fence and has already sent more than a billion shekels down the drain.

The head of the Palestinian negotiating team, Saeb Erekat, has also not forgotten the anniversary of The Hague ruling. In a letter he sent to American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the other heads of the Middle East Quartet, Erekat has demanded that they ensure that Israel stop construction of the fence and fulfill its commitment, undertaken in the road map, to freeze all construction in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. If the Palestinian Authority, at least the one in Ramallah, is once again a partner for agreements, then someone might well take those demands seriously. Or not.

If it did not deal with human beings, including infants, the latest report published over the weekend by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in the occupied territories, on the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip would be one of the funniest documents ever published here.

The report, which relates to the period between June 28 and July 5, reveals that the situation is anything but pleasant. It is estimated that 75 percent of the workshops in the Gaza Strip are not operating at all or are operating at less than 20 percent their usual activity due to a lack of raw materials. However, the report states that the situation is not all that terrible. “Humanitarian imports into Gaza between June 25 – July 1 through Kerem Shalom, Sufa and Karni have met 70 percent of the minimum food needs of the Gazan population.”

Basing himself on UN World Food program (WFP) figures, the coordinator notes that this is “a significant increase from the prior week, where only 21 percent of the food needs were met.” The authors of the report do not confine themselves to general data. They append a table that details daily local consumption in the Gaza Strip alongside the level of imports and the local supply. Not only in metric tons; someone went to the trouble of calculating the percentages for them. And there is also a total of the two.

The report’s implication is that if there is no flour, let them eat animal feed. If there is no rice, drink oil. If there is no hummus, lick sugar. What is important is that the total amount of essential foodstuffs reaches 70 percent. Behind these dry numbers lurks a juicy story about the tense relations among the UN organizations operating in the territories. It turns out that at OCHA’s Jerusalem offices they are quite ashamed of this document, which bears their organization’s name. The instruction to publish it came from the office of Kevin Kennedy, the humanitarian coordinator in the office of Michael Williams, the UN secretary-general’s special envoy to the territories.

In this branch of the UN they are trying to curry favor with the Israelis and the Egyptians, who, as everyone knows, are not going out of their way to enable Hamas to maintain orderly life in Gaza. The envoy’s office stands firmly behind the Israeli position, which insists on operating the Kerem Shalom crossing point in particular, despite strong objections by the Palestinian side. The office also supports Egypt’s objections to opening the Rafah crossing point without European inspectors. Members of the Meretz Knesset faction, who returned yesterday from a visit to Cairo, were told in the Egyptian capital that “it is necessary to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” but “it mustn’t become too good there.” Faction head MK Zahava Gal-On said that to the best of her knowledge an economic boycott has not resulted in strengthening the moderates.

Kennedy’s office has responded that there is no significance to the calculation of the average supply of various foodstuffs and hence to the ostensible improvement in the humanitarian situation. It was promised that this would be fixed and would not be repeated in future reports.

The State Attorneys’ Office has good news for the inhabitants of the territories. Good? Terrific. In an official document signed by attorney Orit Koren, the director of the department of petitions to the High Court of Justice, the State of Israel announces that its presence in the West Bank, also known by the name “Judea and Samaria,” is only temporary. This according to a written statement sent by the Prosecutor’s Office to the High Court of Justice, in the wake of a petition launched by Attorney Michael Sfard, who represents the inhabitants of the village of Bil’in and Peace Now. The petition concerns construction of the new neighborhood of the Modi’in Illit settlement, known as East Matityahu, without an approved master plan.

At first the Prosecutor’s Office argued that with respect to a small settlement, Jordanian law allows the authorities to dispense with a master plan. But what should be done about the fact that Modi’in Illit is the largest settlement in the territories (its inhabitants number 40, 000, more than the population of Ramallah)? – The answer: Invent a new excuse. Now the state is claiming that, “When it is a matter of regional or master planning that can determine and perpetuate the development of a given area in the long term, special caution is necessary in creating the balance between the principle of the temporariness of the belligerent seizure (the usual definition of an occupation) and the need to act on planning arrangements that take the future into account.”

“With this in mind,” explains Koren, “the regional authorities have consciously refrained from comprehensive and long-term planning of the region’s territory in its entirety.” It is not clear why the regional authorities have discriminated against Modi’in Illit’s little sisters, among them Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel and Betar Illit, and have required them to submit master plans. It is not clear how the excuse of the “temporary nature” of the occupation fits in with the state’s position in petitions concerning the route of the fence, including in the area of the settlement of Tsofin, which claim that the planners took into account the master plan that expects expansion of the settlement.

MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE IN WATADA CASE

The following was written by Robin, she has been personally involved in the support movement for First. Lt. Ehren Watada since his case started.

Another Miscarriage of Justice in the Case of First Lt. Ehren Watada

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Puppetista of Judge Head at support rally for Ehren Watada in February outside Fort Lewis

Yesterday, in a military courtroom in Olympia, Washington at Fort Lewis, the latest in a long string of legal injustices took place during the preliminary hearing for the second court marshal for First Lieutenant Ehren Watada. Judge Head, who also ruled over Ehren’s court marshal in February which resulted in a mistrial, dismissed the motion of double jeopardy submitted by his attorneys. (Ehren’s website is Thank You Lt.org)

In order to understand this ruling, one must understand also what is at stake for Ehren. He is currently facing up to six years in prison for not only refusing to deploy to Iraq, but also for his public speaking out against the war in his own defense. Last June Ehren went public with the following statement:

After this public announcement, he went on to speak publicly in other events, most notably, his appearance at a Veteran’s for Peace Rally in August. He also gave an interview to Sara Olson. Ehren was charged with missing in movement and conduct unbecoming of an officer based on his public appearances as well as interviews given. Two of those charges, those stemming from the written interviews, were dropped at the time of the first court marshal because Ehren stipulated to having made those statements in order to prevent Sara Olson and Dahr Jamail (who had simply transcribed and published one of Ehren’s speeches) from having to go against journalistic priveledge when the government subpoenaed them to testify against Ehren. Ehren also stipulated to missing in movement, simply because for anyone following this case at all, one should know that Ehren missed movement purposefully based on his firm belief that the war is not only immoral, but also illegal. Ehren NEVER denied or plead innocent to missing in movement.

During pretrial motions for the first court marshal, Judge Head disallowed ALL of those witnesses who had been subpoenaed by the defense except for one, Ehren’s commanding officer who was to be a character witness. Those witnesses dismissed by Judge Head were those who were to testify to the illegality of the Iraq war as well as to Ehren’s innocence in any wrong doing leading up to the court marshal. So stripped of his defense, during that first court marshal, only Ehren himself and a character witness were left for the defense. ( Read, “The Watada Mistrial, What Really Happened” by Bill Simpich who attended the trial)

For those of us sitting in the courtroom that day waiting for the proceedings to begin, time wore on. What was to begin at 8:00 soon became much later. When the judge finally appeared, at that time, it became clear what had gone on behind closed doors. Judge Head began his questioning of Ehren by asking him if he understood that he had admitted to missing in movement. Ehren replied that yes he understood and there was a reason WHY he missed movement. At that point the judge asked Ehren to withdraw his stipulation which Ehren and his attorney Eric Seitz refused. Seitz INSISTED his client had a defense as to why he missed movement and they were prepared to put that defense on. Then the judge over the next hour or more, stated his own inclination to declare a mistrial due to a “misunderstanding between the prosecution and the defense” and that the trial would have to stop because “all parties were not on the same page as to the understanding of the issues”. He then ordered all parties back to closed chambers. When all parties came out, it was the prosecution who asked for the mistrial at which time Judge Head quickly granted the motion.

The overflow room where the press and 42 “guests of the court” was in absolute dumbstruck awe of what had just occurred. Through Judge Head’s manipulations, not only was Ehren not allowed to testify, but he also stated that Ehren would be retried at a later date. That date was finally set for June 23, but the preliminary hearing including the motion to dismiss on double jeopardy grounds was dismissed yesterday by the SAME judge who manipulated the first court marshal. Furthermore, Judge Head, refused to recuse himself from further proceedings in the case. The charges which were dismissed in the first court marshal have also been reintroduced.

Just what is Judge Head seeking to silence? Ehren’s testimony that the war in Iraq is illegal per our own Constitution which is bound by treaty to the Nuremburg Principles which deny the right to wage pre-emptive warfare, a war of aggression and a war against the peace. The military oath which is taken binds one’s duty to the CONSTITUTION not to illegal military orders. You can find Marjorie Cohn’s speech which she gave last year in Ehren’s defense after he came out with the above videotaped public statement by Ehren speaking to these issues. (current President of the National Lawyer’s Guild) here.

The weight of many years in prison is sitting on First Lieutenant Ehren Watada’s shoulders for daring to speak out against this war. He is speaking for ALL of us who know this war is not only immoral, but illegal as well. Ehren Watada is a TRUE American hero, the kind of man who comes rarely and who should be supported by all.

Please, if you have not yet signed the petition in support of Ehren, please go here.

Following is the article from yesterday concerning the preliminary hearing in Ehren’s second court marshal:

Judge: Army can try Watada again for refusing to go to Iraq

Army can try Watada again for refusing to go to Iraq

By Associated Press

FORT LEWIS, Wash. (AP) – Trying 1st Lt. Ehren Watada again for his refusal to deploy to Iraq won’t violate his constitutional right not to be prosecuted twice for the same crime, an Army judge ruled Friday.

Watada’s new lawyers, Kenneth Kagan and James Lobsenz, immediately filed notice they will appeal that double jeopardy ruling to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals in Arlington, Va.

Watada is charged with missing his unit’s deployment in June 2006 and with conduct unbecoming an officer for comments he made about President Bush and the Iraq war. If convicted, he could be sentenced to six years in prison and be dishonorably discharged.

The lieutenant contends the war is illegal and he would be party to war crimes if he participated. His first trial ended in a mistrial.

The military judge, Lt. Col. John Head, presided over the first trial in February and ended it after questioning whether Watada understood a pretrial agreement he had signed. Head also refused Friday to disqualify himself from the case.

Head also ruled against Watada’s defense team when they contended his decision to declare a mistrial in the first court-martial was wrong.

The developments are likely to delay the start of the second trial, which had been scheduled to begin July 23.

Watada, who is based at Fort Lewis, continues to perform administrative duties.

Kagan argued Friday that Head should step away from the case because the judge has created the impression that his mind is made up on some issues. The lawyer noted an e-mail that Head’s supervisor sent the judge in February, indicating she believed the mistrial did not create double-jeopardy issues and that a second court-martial could proceed. Kagan said the e-mail suggested there was pressure on Head to rule a certain way.

Head denied he has any preconceived notions.

Lobsenz told the judge he erred in the first trial by not exploring alternatives to calling off the trial midway through. Head ruled against Watada on that issue without comment.

He is expected to issue a written decision early next week. The judge is also expected to rule on admissibility of evidence, including whether Watada may call witnesses to testify about the legality of the war. Head excluded such witnesses in the first court-martial.


For other articles concerning Ehren Watada written here: The Iraq War Put on Trial: Citizen’s Tribunal Concerning Ehren Watada, Ehren Watada on Democracy Now,
What if They Gave a War And Nobody Came? Why I Support Ehren Watada, Ehren Watada’s Pretrial Hearing Outcome (first court marshal in February), What the Trial About Ehren Watada Says About Us As a Nation and a People, My Prayers to You, Ehren Rosa and Bob,(includes Democracy Now interview with Sara Olson and Dahr Jamail), All Things Watada,
Short Note From the Watada Trial, Notes From Inside the Watada Trial, TACOMA!! (pictures from the court marshal in February) Retrial in Watada Case Unlikely (Video of Eric Seitz, Ehren’s attorney for the first court marshal, imediately following the mistrial)Darrel Anderson Raps in Tacoma ,New Trial Date Set For First Lieutenant Ehren Watada, Carlos Latuff’s Cartoon Says It All About Ehren Watada,

Read THIS as well,also from Robin’s blog.

GROUPS DENOUNCE SHOOTING OF PALESTINIAN CAMERAMAN

Groups denounce shooting of cameraman


Associated Press

wounded_cameraman_xjem103.jpg

July 7, 2007

JERUSALEM – Media advocacy groups condemned the shooting of a cameraman for Hamas TV who lay wounded on the ground when he came under more fire during a clash with Israeli troops.

The incident, captured by TV cameras, took place Thursday during heavy fighting between Hamas militants and Israeli forces in central Gaza. The cameraman, Imad Ghanem, had to have both legs amputated as a result of his injuries.

Israeli army spokeswoman Maj. Avital Leibowitch, has said it was not clear who shot Ghanem, a cameraman for the Hamas-allied Al Aqsa TV, though she did not deny it could have been Israeli troops. There are no plans to investigate, she said.

Leibowitch said the cameraman was a legitimate target because he was with the Hamas gunmen firing at Israeli forces, was separated from other journalists covering the clash, and could have been carrying a weapon.

The shooting was captured on film and broadcast on al-Jazeera satellite television, but the footage did not show who fired at Ghanem. However, Ghanem later said from his hospital bed the shots came from an Israeli tank.

On Friday, the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists condemned the shooting and called for an investigation.

Two other media advocacy groups, the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, also have issued protests.

“The Israeli military’s repeated attacks on media and journalists during military operations are unacceptable and constitute violations of international humanitarian law,” said Reporters Without Borders. The group demanded an investigation into why soldiers continued firing toward Ghanem after he had been injured.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists also called for an investigation.

“We are horrified by the Israeli forces apparent targeting of cameraman Imad Ghanem,” the group’s executive director, Joel Simon, said. “He was carrying out legitimate journalistic duties when he was seriously wounded. Deliberate targeting of journalists cannot be justified. We call on the Israeli army to investigate this incident fully and make its findings public.”

Source

GLOBAL WARMING~~ ACCORDING TO DUBYA

Image by David Baldinger
THIS was too funny not to share…. you must watch it.

CINDY SHEEHAN SPEAKS AGAIN


Summer of Love '07
On a Journey for Humanity
Cindy Sheehan


The other day I came out of my short retirement due to
yet another Bush flagrant abuse of power. We decided
that we would walk from Atlanta to DC to gather a
people's movement for humanity. The longer BushCo are
in office the less chance we have of recovering the
heart and soul of our nation, saving our soldiers and
the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, and saving the
planet from corporate and individual waste and
pollution. Impeachment, removal from office, and in a
perfect world: incarceration for the criminals against
humanity, are urgent and necessary steps that need to
be taken today.

Since the announcement of the Walk, circumstances have
changed. Rev. Lennox Yearwood is not going to have his
hearing for Conduct Unbecoming until the end of
August, and we were going to begin our walk after his
hearing on July 12th in Macon, GA. So
consequently, we
are going to begin our Journey on July 10th in
Crawford, Texas.

Our Journey will take us through places such as Ft.
Benning, GA, and New Orleans where Bush Crimes have
had such a deeply detrimental affect on people.
Torture and the continued criminal lack of help for
the people of the Gulf States are two of BushCo's more
heinous crimes.

Our Journey will also take us to House Judiciary
committee members' offices where we will sit-in and
demand that they institute Articles of Impeachment
against Bush and Cheney immediately. On July 23rd, we
will be in Congressman John Conyers' office to
encourage him to take the lead on impeachment. A
sit-in in his office is possible and likely.

The US part of our Journey will end in New York City
where on July 27th we will stage a demonstration in
front of the UN to highlight the refugee crisis in the
Middle East caused by the Bush High Crime Cabal.
There
are millions of people displaced by the atrocity in
Iraq and, no matter what former US Ambassador and
leading neo-con war criminal, John Bolton says: the US
does owe the people of Iraq more than we can ever
repay. The very least we owe them, though, is a
relatively safe country to live in and basic human
rights like: homes, food, clean water and medical
care.

On July 29th, we will be re-creating the Summer of
Love and hold a "Gather-in of Hearts" in Central Park
with leading activists and musical entertainment.
Proceeds will go to Iraqi Refugees and for medical
supplies for Iraqi hospitals.

When we are finished in NYC, a few of us will be
Journeying to Amman, Jordan to help refugees in Jordan
and Syria. We will visit the camps to assess the depth
of the humanitarian crisis that is causing so many
children to unnecessarily and tragically suffer. We
have so much in this country. How can we allow
our
brothers and sisters to go without basics? Who can
sleep comfortably at night and enjoy three square
meals a day when other people only have moldy bread to
eat and are starving? Do you think of the people of
Iraq and the refugees literally dying of thirst when
you go to turn on your tap for plentiful, clean water?
Our animals here in the US are treated better than
many humans on our planet. As MLK, Jr said in his
speech at the Riverside Church on April 04, 1967: "My
government is the biggest purveyor of violence." Our
government has killed enough people to populate many
small states in the US and has forced millions more to
flee their places of birth. Our governments will never
change, but our hearts can and we can do much to
alleviate suffering and change the world.

Since I announced the Journey for Humanity, I have
received a lot of support and encouragement, and many
"I'll be with you in spirits." We
appreciate your
moral support, but we need your bodies and your
dollars if you can't participate. Our world is in an
environmental, political and humanitarian state of
emergency at this point and participation in a
People's Movement for Change, Justice and Humanity is
becoming mandatory by our membership in the Human
Race.

Our route and flyer for the "Gather-in of Hearts" is
posted at Camp Casey Peace Institute. Donations can
also be made there. Visit our MySpace
page and be our
friend!

We also need volunteers in cities along the route to
help coordinate rallies/actions and food/ housing for
walkers. To volunteer, e-mail Dede at
tiggerloli@aol.com or call: 562-912-5838 (we don't
take blocked calls.)

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