ISRAELI CITIZENS SCORE FIRST VICTORY SINCE NEW GOVERNMENT WAS FORMED

Israel ‘loyalty law’ rejected
Yisrael Beirenu's proposal was aimed mainly at Israel's Arab and ultra-Orthodox population [AFP]
Yisrael Beirenu’s proposal was aimed mainly at Israel’s Arab and ultra-Orthodox population [AFP]

An Israeli government committee has rejected a draft bill that would have required Israelis to take an oath of loyalty.

The legislation committee on Sunday scrapped the bill, which had been tabled by the Yisrael Beitenu party, led by Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign minister.

The bill was rejected by a vote of eight to three, an official was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.

The move effectively strips the proposal of government approval and significantly lowers the chances it would pass into law.

‘False impression’

Labor said that the bill, which called for all citizens to take a pledge of allegiance, risked “creating the false impression” that Israel’s Arab citizens were disloyal.

The pledge was a key element in Yisrael Beitenu’s campaigning for the February general election, in which it came in third, winning 15 of the 120 seats in parliament.

The bill by Lieberman’s secular nationalist party was aimed mostly at Israel’s Arab citizens – some 20 per cent of Israel’s population – and also at the ultra-Orthodox population.

Neither group does the military service, which is mandatory for most Israelis.

‘Catastrophe’ bill softened

A related bill on the Nakba, which many Palestinians lament as the “catastrophe” when they fled their homes in the wake of the 1948 creation of Israel, was watered down by the cabinet.

The revised draft law now prohibits any government funds from being used for events marking the Nakba, instead of banning commemorations altogether, a government official was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.

“The original bill marked a serious infringement on the freedom of expression, which we deemed excessive,” the official said.

The changes followed a legal review of the bill approved by the cabinet last week, which would have prohibited any events marking Nakba and provided for penalties of up to three years in prison.

US appeal rebuffed

In another development, Israel has refused to bow to US calls that it freeze settlement activity.

“I want to say in a crystal clear manner that the current Israeli government will not accept in any fashion that legal settlement activity be frozen,” Yisrael Katz, Israel’s transport minister and a close ally of Binyamin Netanyahu, said on Sunday.

Netanyahu did not address the issue at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting, but the fighting words were echoed by other members of the cabinet, including the Labor party.

Several members of the Israeli cabinet belong to right-leaning or ultra-nationalist parties.

Source

OBAMA IN DEFENSE OF APARTHEID

Every Friday the residents of Bil’in are joined by Progressive Israelis and International Human Rights Volunteers in their demonstration against the wall of apartheid that surrounds them. Recently an American activist, Tristan Anderson was critically wounded when he was shot in the head with a tear gas canister. Last month a Palestinian demonstrator was shot dead by those same Israeli soldiers.

The use of tear gas to disperse peaceful demonstrations in Occupied Palestine is not new, it has been done for decades. And where do you think those canisters are coming from?

Last week, Israel’s Prime Minister visited President Obama in the White House. He must have been given the go-ahead to continue with these nazi like crowd control methods…. As can be seen in the following photo, taken two days ago. Some things never seem to CHANGE.

Palestinian demonstrators and international activists run from tear gas canisters fired by IDF troops during a protest against the separation barrier in the village of Bil’in near Ramallah.
Photo: AP

“RACISTS FOR DEMOCRACY”

Image ‘Copyleft’ By Carlos Latuff

By: Uri Avnery

HOW LUCKY we are to have the extreme Right standing guard over our democracy.

This week, the Knesset voted by a large majority (47 to 34) for a law that threatens imprisonment for anyone who dares to deny that Israel is a Jewish and Democratic State.

The private member’s bill, proposed by MK Zevulun Orlev of the “Jewish Home” party, which sailed through its preliminary hearing, promises one year in prison to anyone who publishes “a call that negates the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State”, if the contents of the call might cause “actions of hate, contempt or disloyalty against the state or the institutions of government or the courts”.

One can foresee the next steps. A million and a half Arab citizens cannot be expected to recognize Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State. They want it to be “a state of all its citizens” – Jews, Arabs and others. They also claim with reason that Israel discriminates against them, and therefore is not really democratic. And, in addition, there are also Jews who do not want Israel to be defined as a Jewish State in which non-Jews have the status, at best, of tolerated outsiders.

The consequences are inevitable. The prisons will not be able to hold all those convicted of this crime. There will be a need for concentration camps all over the country to house all the deniers of Israeli democracy.

The police will be unable to deal with so many criminals. It will be necessary to set up a new unit. This may be called “Special Security”, or, in short, SS.

Hopefully, these measures will suffice to preserve our democracy. If not, more stringent steps will have to be taken, such as revoking the citizenship of the democracy-deniers and deporting them from the country, together with the Jewish leftists and all the other enemies of the Jewish democracy.

After the preliminary reading of the bill, it now goes to the Legal Committee of the Knesset, which will prepare it for the first, and soon thereafter for the second and third readings. Within a few weeks or months, it will be the law of the land.

By the way, the bill does not single out Arabs explicitly – even if this is its clear intention, and all those who voted for it understood this. It also prohibits Jews from advocating a change in the state’s definition, or the creation of a bi-national state in all of historic Palestine or spreading any other such unconventional ideas. One can only imagine what would happen in the US if a senator proposed a law to imprison anyone who suggests an amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

THE BILL does not stand out at all in our new political landscape.

This government has already adopted a bill to imprison for three years anyone who mourns the Palestinian Naqba – the 1948 uprooting of more than half the Palestinian people from their homes and lands.

The sponsors expect Arab citizens to be happy about that event. True, the Palestinians were caused a certain unpleasantness, but that was only a by-product of the foundation of our state. The Independence Day of the Jewish and Democratic State must fill us all with joy. Anyone who does not express this joy should be locked up, and three years may not be enough.

This bill has been confirmed by the Ministerial Commission for Legal Matters, prior to being submitted to the Knesset. Since the rightist government commands a majority in the Knesset, it will be adopted almost automatically. (In the meantime, a slight delay has been caused by one minister, who appealed the decision, so the Ministerial Commission will have to confirm it again.)

The sponsors of the law hope, perhaps, that on Naqba Day the Arabs will dance in the streets, plant Israeli flags on the ruins of some 600 Arab villages that were wiped off the map and offer up their thanks to Allah in the mosques for the miraculous good fortune that was bestowed on them.

THIS TAKES me back to the 60s, when the weekly magazine I edited, Haolam Hazeh, published an Arabic edition. One of its employees was a young man called Rashed Hussein from the village of Musmus. Already as a youth he was a gifted poet with a promising future.

He told me that some years earlier the military governor of his area had summoned him to his office. At the time, all the Arabs in Israel were subject to a military government which controlled their lives in all matters big and small. Without a permit, an Arab citizen could not leave his village or town even for a few hours, nor get a job as a teacher, nor acquire a tractor or dig a well.

The governor received Rashed cordially, offered him coffee and paid lavish compliments to his poetry. Then he came to the point: in a month’s time, Independence Day was due, and the governor was going to hold a big reception for the Arab “notables”; he asked Rashed to write a special poem for the occasion.

Rashed was a proud youngster, nationalist to the core, and not lacking in courage. He explained to the governor that Independence Day was no joyful day for him, since his relatives had been driven from their homes and most of the Musmus village’s land had also been expropriated.

When Rashed arrived back at his village some hours later, he could not help noticing that his neighbors were looking at him in a peculiar way. When he entered his home, he was shocked. All the members of his family were sitting on the floor, the women lamenting at the top of their voices, the children huddling fearfully in a corner. His first thought was that somebody had died.

“What have you done to us!” one of the women cried, “What did we do to you?”

“You have destroyed the family,” another shouted, “You have finished us!”

It appeared that the governor had called the family and told them that Rashed had refused to fulfill his duty to the state. The threat was clear: from now on, the extended family, one of the largest in the village, would be on the black list of the military government. The consequences were clear to everyone.

Rashed could not stand up against the lamentation of his family. He gave in and wrote the poem, as requested. But something inside him was broken. Some years later he emigrated to the US, got a job there at the PLO office and died tragically: he was burned alive in his bed after going to sleep, it appears, while smoking a cigarette.

THESE DAYS are gone forever. We took part in many stormy demonstrations against the military government until it was finally abolished in 1966. As a newly elected Member of Parliament, I had the privilege of voting for its abolition.

The fearful and subservient Arab minority, then amounting to some 200 thousand souls, has recovered its self-esteem. A second and third generation has grown up, its downtrodden national pride has raised its head again, and today they are a large and self-confident community of 1.5 million. But the attitude of the Jewish Right has not changed for the better. On the contrary.

In the Knesset bakery (the Hebrew word for bakery is Mafia) some new pastries are being baked. One of them is a bill that stipulates that anyone applying for Israeli citizenship must declare their loyalty to “the Jewish, Zionist and Democratic State”, and also undertake to serve in the army or its civilian alternative. Its sponsor is MK David Rotem of the “Israel is Our Home” party, who also happens to be the chairman of the Knesset Law Committee.

A declaration of loyalty to the state and its laws – a framework designed to safeguard the wellbeing and the rights of its citizens – is reasonable. But loyalty to the “Zionist” state? Zionism is an ideology, and in a democratic state the ideology can change from time to time. It would be like declaring loyalty to a “capitalist” USA, a “rightist Italy”, a ”leftist” Spain, a “Catholic Poland” or a “nationalist” Russia.

This would not be a problem for the tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews in Israel who reject Zionism, since Jews will not be touched by this law. They obtain citizenship automatically the moment they arrive in Israel.

Another bill waiting for its turn before the Ministerial Committee proposes changing the declaration that every new Knesset Member has to make before assuming office. Instead of loyalty “to the State of Israel and its laws”, as now, he or she will be required to declare their loyalty “to the Jewish, Zionist and Democratic State of Israel, its symbols and its values”. That would exclude almost automatically all the elected Arabs, since declaring loyalty to the “Zionist” state would mean that no Arab would ever vote for them again.

It would also be a problem for the Orthodox members of the Knesset, who cannot declare loyalty to Zionism. According to Orthodox doctrine, the Zionists are depraved sinners and the Zionist flag is unclean. God exiled the Jews from this country because of their wickedness, and only God can permit them to return. Zionism, by preempting the job of the Messiah, has committed an unpardonable sin, and many Orthodox Rabbis chose to remain in Europe and be murdered by the Nazis rather than committing the Zionist sin of going to Palestine.

THE FACTORY of racist laws with a distinct fascist odor is now working at full steam. That is built into the new coalition.

At its center is the Likud party, a good part of which is pure racist (sorry for the oxymoron). To its right there is the ultra-racist Shas party, to the right of which is Lieberman’s ultra-ultra racist “Israel is our Home” party, the ultra-ultra-ultra racist “Jewish Home” party, and to its right the even more racist “National Union” party, which includes outright Kahanists and stands with one foot in the coalition and the other on the moon.

All these factions are trying to outdo each other. When one proposes a crazy bill, the next is compelled to propose an even crazier one, and so on.

All this is possible because Israel has no constitution. The ability of the Supreme Court to annul laws that contradict the “basic laws” is not anchored anywhere, and the Rightist parties are trying to abolish it. Not for nothing did Avigdor Lieberman demand – and get – the Justice and Police ministries.

Just now, when the governments of the US and Israel are clearly on a collision course over the settlements, this racist fever may infect all parts of the coalition.

If one goes to sleep with a dog, one should not be surprised to wake up with fleas (may the dogs among my readers pardon me). Those who elected such a government, and even more so those who joined it, should not be surprised by its laws, which ostensibly safeguard Jewish democracy.

The most appropriate name for these holy warriors would be “Racists for Democracy”.


THE JERUSALEM POST ACTUALLY PUBLISHED SOMETHING WORTH READING

The last time I even mentioned the Jerusalem Post on this site was about a month ago. It was in relation to a moron of a ‘journalist’ that had problems with my Blog and that of Michael Rivero’s.

This weekend, they actually published a piece worth reading. Just one quote from the article gives you a pretty good idea of what it’s all about…. a definite must read. While we Jews are celebrating what the War of Independence did for us, can’t we show a bit of magnanimity to the Arab citizens who are mourning what it did to them?

Rattling the Cage: A little respect for the Nakba

Larry Derfner , THE JERUSALEM POST

It’s touch-and-go now whether Israel Beiteinu’s “Nakba law” will make it through the Knesset, but even if it does, I have no doubt it will be struck down by the Supreme Court. The law would make it a crime, punishable by up to three years in prison, to publicly mourn the 1948 Palestinian Nakba (“catastrophe”), which a small but influential minority of Israeli Arabs do around Yom Ha’atzma’ut.

The Nakba law is a gross violation of freedom of expression, something the Supreme Court wouldn’t tolerate. Still, the controversy is making Jews and Arabs in this country hate each other just a little bit more, so Israel Beiteinu is getting what it wants.

Among Jews, the debate seems to be between nationalists who say the State of Israel shouldn’t allow citizens to brand its creation a “catastrophe,” and liberals who say such gestures are infuriating but, for the sake of democracy, must be allowed.

Yet even the liberal argument here is misguided, because when Israeli Arabs speak of the catastrophe of 1948, they don’t mean the creation of the State of Israel, they mean the price that Palestinians, including themselves, paid for it.

By nakba, they mean the 700,000 Palestinians who became refugees; they mean the 400-odd Arab villages that Israel bulldozed after the War of Independence; they mean the loss of their national home.

HOW DO I know this? Because this is what Israeli Arabs, ranging from Labor Party voters to Islamic Movement election boycotters, have told me.

Mahmoud Abu Rajab is a veteran newspaper editor in Nazareth who usually supports Labor, but who also has good things to say about the Likud. Yet even he says Israeli Arabs are entitled to mourn what happened to them during the War of Independence. “The time of Israel’s creation was a time of catastrophe for Arab citizens. That’s something no one, neither Jew nor Arab, can deny.”

Ibrahim Shawahna is a Hadash supporter who spends Yom Ha’atzma’ut going to the site of a former Galilee Arab village, now an IDF base, where his wife’s family lived before 1948. But though he commemorates Nakba Day, he does not want to overthrow the state. “This is our country and I won’t be part of any attempt to destroy it. What I want is equality.”

Even Hashem Abdel Rahman, the former mayor of Umm el-Fahm and a member of the Islamic Movement’s radical “northern faction,” told me that when Israeli Arabs say “nakba,” they don’t mean the birth of Israel. “That’s a mistaken notion,” he said, adding that he even “recognized the State of Israel.”

These and other Israeli Arabs I talked to had no need to lie; with few exceptions, they complained openly and bitterly about a history of injustice.

BUT GO tell Israeli Jews that Nakba Day is not a call to insurrection, that while Israeli Arabs are not Zionists, and while they have loads of resentment, they are not enemies of the state. Go tell Jews here that with very, very few exceptions, Israeli Arabs are and always have been nonviolent, and that on balance, they are Israel’s victims, not victimizers.

Good luck. The Jewish public has gotten so it can only believe the worst about Arabs, even the hapless ones in this country; thus, a memorial march to the site of a Galilee village that got erased after the War of Independence is seen as an act of subversion.

You don’t have to read polls to know that Israeli Arabs are becoming more radical in their attitudes. And what should we expect? The October 2000 riots were a bloody disaster for them, not us, and ever since then they’ve been basically ostracized. They’ve watched the Palestinians get bashed up by the IDF, most recently and ferociously in Operation Cast Lead, and now a demagogue who’s built his career on their backs is the country’s foreign minister.

What better time to introduce the Nakba law?

The Jewish public has to understand that 20 percent of the citizens of this country were part of the losing side in the War of Independence, and that they lost a great deal. The Jewish public also has to admit that since that war ended, the civil status of this minority has never been anything but separate and unequal.

We cannot expect members of this minority to have warm, patriotic feelings about the state. We cannot expect them to forget what the creation of Israel cost them, personally and nationally. Like nearly all Jews, I blame the Palestinians, including those who remained in what would become Israel, for starting the war that proved to be their catastrophe. But we shouldn’t be so egocentric as to expect them to agree with us.

What we can rightfully expect, though, is that whatever Israeli Arabs think, whatever they wish, they not turn to violence. And with rare individual exceptions, they haven’t. They protest, but they don’t revolt. They aren’t a threat to this country – not even on Nakba Day.

While we Jews are celebrating what the War of Independence did for us, can’t we show a bit of magnanimity to the Arab citizens who are mourning what it did to them?

Source

PHOTO ESSAY ~~ NEW YORKERS CONTINUE THEIR STRUGGLE AGAINST TORTURE

Scores of people met on the corner of 42nd St. & Lexington Ave. Half of them put on orange jumpsuits with black hoods over their faces and held their hands behind their back while the others carried signs and photos of acts of torture and handed out leaflets.

At 5 o’clock (rush hour) there was a slow procession up 42nd St. into Grand Central Station. Once inside the station most stood on one of the lower balconies while others continued handing out leaflets. Those on the balcony held huge anti-torture signs. The public response was VERY strong. People were visibly disturbed. Many took photos, asked us why we were there, some argued, and some thanked us for being there. Many police were there but they didn’t hinder the participants.

At 6 PM everyone filed slowly out of the station and walked up Park Ave. to 38 E. 37th St, the Union League Club, where the NYPD had already set up a holding pen for us – apparently we were expected. There was a very small counter demonstration down the street. Two members of our group water boarded a volunteer. This could be seen by the people in the street as well as cars bringing people to the club. Inside John D. Negroponte, Bush’s intelligence czar was giving Gen. David Petraeus a distinguished service award. Other speakers at the club were Richard Holbrooke, Henry Kissinger, and Paul Volker. The demonstrators stood outside chanting “Torture is a war crime” and “Shame!”

At about 8 PM the group left altogether walking west on 37th St. past the counter demonstrators. There was a major shouting match with the police standing in-between shouting “Keep it moving.”

All-in-all it was a very effective demonstration. The sight shocked people and started them thinking about difficult issues. One of the most interesting things was walking through the crowd at GCS and hearing strangers arguing with each other about torture. WCW (World Can’t Wait) did a creative and excellent job. We were privileged being there with them.

A note – the woman in the J. Pierpont Morgan Library sign is Beth Lamont, widow of Corliss Lamont, and the young Asian woman in the light blue raincoat is Jane Lu whose grandfather was tortured by the French in Vietnam.

Above text contributed by Chippy Dee

Photos © by Bud Korotzer



























THE DEATH WAIT OF A CHILD IN GAZA


By Ayman Quader
Gaza,  Yasser Ahmed Al Swasi is a 12 year old child living in the Gaza Strip where the ongoing siege still suffocates 1.5 million Gazans. Gazans are not permitted to leave the strip, even for medical care denials are frequent. Yasser hasnt left his own bed for two years, as he suffers critical health problems. Yassers’ life depends on a respiratory machine, he cannot breathe on his own. The recent diagnosis of Yasser was quadriplegia, and punctured larynx. He has been transferred to an Egyptian hospital for an operation that will cost $150, 000. “The surgical operation will be performed by an American specialist doctor”.

Inquiring about his condition out of curiosity, I asked him “How are you Yasser?” In a very tiny voice full of sadness he replied “I have no chance to live as I am bedridden since two years ago, and nothing changed”. His condition is severe, due to paralysis he’s unable to do anything without assistance. Moving closer to him, I can see his body keeps shaking. Yasser requires moment to moment care from his parents. The medical device which enables him to breath is powered by electricity. He and his family live in constant fear of power cuts.

Yasser has not received any education since his accident, due to his bedridden status. “Yasser is my oldest son. He is so clever and he always keeps good reputation among his peers and the people around” said the father. “As all young children who witnessed the recent war in Gaza, Yasser struggled emotionally during the bombing and air strikes” his father added. During my visit, I noticed a completely destroyed home closely to Yasser’s.

When the neighboring home was destroyed, Yasser was left without power for an extended period, forced to rely on backup generators to survive. “We were so scared of his health condition deteriorating during the war” said his father. His father informed us his medical operation is so sensitive, and the operations necessary for improvement very costly. “No one helping us to afford this operation, it costs $150 000; I keep searching for associations to help us find funding to improve Yassers health condition” said the father.

To Whom it May Concern

Medical Report

The patient was transferred to the emergency department 18 months ago. At that time, the diagnosis was quadriplegia, punctured larynx and the patient required an artificial respiratory system.

After that period of observation, this diagnosis was confirmed: Quadriplegia, punctured larynx and the patient required an artificial respiratory system and X-rays were taken, medical examination, radiology on neck vertebrae and general X-rays. It was obvious that the second vertebra was broken due to abullet lodged in the patients neck.

The patient was admitted to the internal medicine department for treatment, critical observation, and for manual physiotherapy. What he now requires is an instrument to electrically stimulate the diaphragm and injection of stem cells in the spinal cord. The patient is still in the hospital undergoing medical treatment and physiotherapy.

The patient is under the care of: department of neurology, rehabilitation & physiotherapy department and intensive care department.

Dr. Mostafa Arafa, Hospital General Director: Hafez Mohamed Hafez

A child called Feras died 2 days ago due to Israeli siege. Yasser might face the same fate soon.

See the death of Feras here: http://www.paltelegraph.com/hot-topic…

Story by Ayman Quader
PT reporter in Gaza

FATAH AT FAULT

Khalid Amayreh

National dialogue remains stalled as accusations rise within Fatah itself against the Ramallah leadership, writes Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank

The chronic and brewing crisis within Fatah is not only creating tension — even conditions of implosion — inside the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) mainstream faction. It is also hindering a breakthrough in national reconciliation talks with Hamas.

Last week, Egypt, which has been brokering Palestinian reconciliation talks in Cairo, warned the two factions that Egypt wouldn’t continue to serve as an “open guesthouse” forever. The tacit Egyptian warning came after the two largest Palestinian political groups failed to resolve the issues that remain contentious between them, including power-sharing arrangements in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip have argued that Fatah and Hamas would have achieved a breakthrough in the last session of talks in Cairo had it not been for “the intransigence and ill will” on the part of the “extreme right wing” of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Hamas had repeatedly accused figures representing this camp, including President Mahmoud Abbas and his allies in Ramallah, of not really being “enthusiastic about reconciliation with Hamas”. “The thing they fear most is the formation of a national unity government, or government of national reconciliation, since such a government would interfere with their own anti-patriotic designs and parochial calculations,” said Hamas official Fawzi Barhoum.

“These people have become hostage to their own parochial interests and are therefore disinterested in genuine national reconciliation,” he reiterated.

This week, Fatah leader and former Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei confirmed that a great deal of progress had been made in the Cairo reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas. “It was agreed that the PLO is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and that the organisation would have to be reformed. We also agreed that the elections to the presidency and to the Legislative Council will be held on 25 January 2010, but we still differ on the electoral system [to be used].”

Qurei pointed out that Hamas was still refusing to commit itself to previous agreements reached between the PA and Israel. “Their proposal that they will only ‘respect the agreements’ doesn’t satisfy us.”

Qurei added that Egypt proposed setting up a joint team that would serve as an interim umbrella, and that Egyptian mediators made it clear to both factions that they were not willing to be an interminable guesthouse and that a decision would have to be reached by July.

Nonetheless, there are some issues that even the Egyptians won’t be able to tackle. These include demands by the “Abbas camp” that any unity or national reconciliation government would have to recognise Israel. For Hamas this is an absolute red line for religious, ideological, moral and political reasons.

According to Ahmed Youssef, advisor to the Gaza-based Hamas government of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas proposed the formation of an “ad hoc” government whose main task would be preparing for the 2010 elections and providing essential services to the Palestinian people, while the PLO would continue to deal with political process, including possible peace talks with Israel.

Some sources have suggested that Abbas’s intransigence with regards to reconciliation talks with Hamas is aimed, at least in part, at pressuring his rivals within Fatah — people like Farouk Qadoumi, who have been showing a certain propensity to accommodate Hamas’s views with regard the peace process. Moreover, Abbas is apparently worried that “giving too many concessions” to Hamas would weaken his own position within Fatah, undermine Western — especially American — backing of the Ramallah-based regime, and eventually harm Fatah’s election prospects in 2010.

Meanwhile, the PA’s security agencies continue to arrest and detain hundreds of pro-Hamas sympathisers, mainly on concocted charges pertaining to their support for the movement. Some of the detainees reportedly have been severely tortured and hospitalised, prompting Hamas to accuse the Western-backed regime in Ramallah of “undermining every chance for national reconciliation”.

The PA claims that the arrests are not political in nature and that suspects are arrested for violating the rule of law. However, according to most observers and human rights groups operating in the West Bank, PA claims in this regard “lack in credibility”. Hamas has consistently complained that the rounding up and torturing of its supporters in the West Bank has “a poisoning effect on reconciliation efforts”.

Meanwhile, it is increasingly obvious the internal Fatah crisis is deepening and exacerbating over the convening of the movement’s Sixth Congress. Fatah leaders, both inside and outside the occupied territories, have been attacking Abbas and his allies, accusing them of “pushing Fatah to the abyss”.

Last week, Fatah leader Qaddura Fares, an ally and confidante of imprisoned Fatah Secretary- General Marwan Barghouti, was quoted as asking, “What sort of democratic movement is that which doesn’t hold election for 20 years?” Barghouti is widely viewed as a chief rival of Abbas and some circles have suggested that the PA leader actually dreads an Israeli decision to free Barghouti, possibly in the context of a prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas.

Two weeks ago, Abbas abruptly decided to terminate the Sixth Congress preparatory committee, which had been meeting in Amman for months in an effort to set up the agenda for the long overdue conference, announced that the congress would be held in Bethlehem on 1 July. The decision, which was taken without coordination with Fatah leaders, drew angry reactions from many quarters within Fatah.

Mohamed Jihad, a prominent leader of the movement based in Amman, accused Abbas of “holding Fatah and the entire Palestinian cause to the whims of a person known as Salam Fayyad”. Jihad, a member of the dissolved preparatory committee, also castigated the formation of the new government in Ramallah, calling it an “anti-national government”. He urged Fatah supporters everywhere “to be vigilant in order to confront the conspiracies being worked out against the Palestinian cause”.

For his part, Qadoumi has reiterated his fierce opposition to holding the Sixth Congress under the Israeli occupation, arguing that it would be absurd and futile to “hold a conference that is aimed at expediting the struggle against the Israeli occupation under the umbrella of the occupation itself”. Speaking in interview with Al-Kefah Al-Arabi journal this week, Qadoumi lambasted Abbas for exceeding the confines of his authority, arguing that Abbas had no right to dissolve the preparatory committee that he said had the exclusive authority to determine the date and venue and all other details pertaining to the Fatah convention.

“The important thing is that the preparatory committee has decided to hold the conference outside occupied Palestine since holding it under the Israeli occupation would seriously undermine its ability to take decisions that are incompatible with Zionist interests. There is simply no safety, no security, and no guarantee that everyone would be able to access the conference venue without Israeli interference. For all these reasons, we are not confident that the deliberations of the conference would be immune from Israeli interference. Hence, holding the conference in the West Bank under the canopy of the occupation would be illegitimate, irresponsible and unacceptable,” Qadoumi said.

In this light, it is widely expected that were Abbas to insist on holding Fatah’s Sixth Congress in the West Bank under the current circumstances it would lead to the deepening and widening of the rift between rival camps within Fatah. Some observers predict that the conference will be put on hold indefinitely pending more appropriate circumstances, both within Fatah and at a national level.

READING IS NOW ILLEGAL IN OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM

Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem

Israelis and Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as their capital

Israeli police have shut down a Palestinian theatre in East Jerusalem.


The action, on Thursday, prevented the closing event of an international literature festival from taking place.

Police said they were acting on a court order, issued after intelligence indicated that the Palestinian Authority was involved in the event.

Israel has occupied East Jerusalem since 1967 and has annexed the area. This is not recognised by the international community.

The British consul-general in Jerusalem , Richard Makepeace, was attending the event.

“I think all lovers of literature would regard this as a very regrettable moment and regrettable decision,” he added.

Mr Makepeace said the festival’s closing event would be reorganised to take place at the British Council in Jerusalem.

The Israeli authorities often take action against events in East Jerusalem they see as connected to the Palestinian Authority.

Saturday’s opening event at the same theatre was also shut down.

A police notice said the closure was on the orders of Israel’s internal security minister on the grounds of a breach of interim peace accords from the 1990s.

These laid the framework for talks on establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel, but left the status of Jerusalem to be determined by further negotiation.

Israel has annexed East Jerusalem and declares it part of its eternal capital.

Palestinians hope to establish their capital in the area.

Source

SIXTY SIX MEMBER AMERICAN DELEGATION ATTEMPTING TO ENTER GAZA TODAY

CAIRO — To increase international pressure for Pres. Obama to call on Israel to end its blockade of war-torn Gaza, just days before Obama delivers his first speech from the Arab world here, TOMORROW a 66-person, largely American delegation will attempt to cross through the heavily policed, blockaded Egyptian city of Rafah into Gaza.

The delegation, which will bring toys and playground building materials for Gazan children, will also collect signatures for an international petition calling on Obama to visit Gaza during his upcoming Middle East tour so he can witness the damage himself. The delegation will deliver to the U.S. Embassy in Cairo by June 4 in time for his historic speech.

“We think if President Obama is serious about being even-handed and reversing our country’s past favoritism towards Israel then he should visit Gaza himself,” said Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK and co-organizer of the delegation. “We’re sure that if he saw and heard about the suffering personally, he would put the required pressure on the governments of both Israel and Egypt to open the borders now.”

The international delegation, which will enter Gaza at the invitation of the United Nations Relief & Works Agency (UNRWA), will visit with social service agencies that care for children, deliver sports equipment and toys to schools, and build three playgrounds.

CODEPINK, a women-led peace group, has led several delegations to Gaza to witness, firsthand, the devastation caused by the 22-day Israeli military attack on the Gaza Strip that began last December. The group is particularly concerned about the children of Gaza, who make up more than half of the population. Approximately 400 children were killed during the 22 day attack and an estimated 1,346 Gazan children were left without one or both of their parents as a result of the recent Israeli assault. The majority of the children in Gaza were traumatized by the attack and invasion.

“If President Obama can, at the last minute, add a visit to Saudi Arabia to have a private dinner with the King, then he certainly can go to Gaza,” said Col. Ann Wright, co-leader of the delegation and a retired U.S. Army colonel and a former U.S. diplomat who resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war.

Check the CODE PINK Website for updates

Part of the Canadian Delegation that entered Gaza Yesterday
Photos courtesy of Irish4Palestine


ANOTHER CONVOY ENTERS GAZA WITH HUMANITARIAN AID

Like ships passing in the night, the Code Pink Convoy entered Gaza as the Hope Convoy was preparing to leave. There apparently were less hassles for this group as the Egyptian authorities are finally in what seems to be a cooperative mood.

As a side note, George Galloway raised over $100,000 for Gaza at a meeting in Brooklyn last night. About 300 people were there. He is coming back on July 4th with a goal of $10 million to purchase over 500 trucks loaded with humanitarian supplies. Egypt is going to be under enormous pressure from all sides. Hope the Egyptian people will be exerting pressure too.

Things ARE happening….. there will be a CHANGE!

Following is the report from the Code Pink Delegation…….
Click HERE for updates on the Hope Convoy

CODE PINK DELEGATION ENTERS GAZA


We have some great news to report!!! The day started out with a 3am call from one of our delegations in Al Arish saying that secret police had contacted them at 2pm to intimidate them and say they would not get into Gaza. We, in Cairo, told them to go on to the border and see what happens.


Then at 9am in the morning, when all three groups got in their buses to go to the border, they were stopped at the first checkpoint, surrounded by riot police, and not allowed to even get off the bus. They were told that there were military exercises going on in the area and that they could not move forward to the border. Meanwhile, they saw other cars going in and out. But they were forced to turn around to go back to Al Arish.


Ann, Tighe and I were furious, planning all sorts of things-press conferences to denounce the treatment of our delegations, protests, etc. Our first step, however, was to go to the Egyptian foreign ministry’s Office of Palestinian Affairs to see if they could help. We ended spending about 4 hours with the two people in charge of Egyptian relations with Gaza while they talked to the intelligence services and police, trying to get the group official permission and get that permission to all the officials of various Egyptian agencies at the checkpoints and the border.


Phone calls were flying back and forth, back and forth, as we followed the group’s progress, step by step, from Al Arish through all the checkpoints and finally to the border.


Out of all three delegations (Canadian, New York and student delegation from Cairo), only one person was turned back–a Palestinian student with a brand new passport that had not had her basic visa for Egypt transferred into it.


But all the rest-66 in total-made it through into Gaza. Yipppppeeee.
We are all thrilled, and are eager to get the next group of 70 who will be crossing on Saturday, May 30.


It was terrific teamwork between the folks at the border, those of us in Cairo, and our contacts back in the US and Canada who were advocating on our behalf. Thanks to all who helped.
Today we made another dent in the armor that is imprisoning the people of Gaza. Thanks everyone.
Free Gaza!!!


Medea Benjamin, Ann Wright, Tighe Barry


CodePink Delegation (click for updates)


Source

ISRAEL REJECTS OWN SOLDIERS’ ACCOUNTS OF GAZA ATROCITIES

By Mohammed Omer

27omer2.jpg
A photograph in the March 20, 2009 edition of Haaretz shows a T-shirt printed at the request of an IDF soldier in the sniper unit reading, “1 shot 2 kills” (Haaretz.com).


FOR THE FIRST time in its history, the Israeli Military College has published very damaging statements and accounts by its own soldiers, describing their killing of innocent and mostly unarmed civilians and their wanton vandalism during Israel’s 22-day assault on the Gaza Strip. Israel launched its attack two days after Christmas and ended it two days before the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

By the time it declared a unilateral cease-fire, more than 1,400 Palestinians were dead, including more than 440 children, 110 women, and 123 elderly and sick people, according to medical sources in Gaza.

By comparison, 10 Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians died, four of the soldiers as a result of friendly fire.

The Israeli soldiers’ personal statements and eyewitness accounts confirmed similar findings by human rights groups who interviewed civilians and eyewitnesses throughout Gaza.

Many of those interviewed lost family, friends and neighbors, as well as farm animals, saw their homes, possessions and property reduced to rubble, and witnessed many war crimes committed during “Operation Cast Lead.”

Among the accounts by graduates of the Yitzhak Rabin Pre-military Academy at Oranim Academic College and published in the academy’s newsletter, one that is particularly horrifying describes an IDF sniper killing a mother and her small children at close range after Israeli soldiers had suddenly ordered them to leave their home and run to safety.

The woman and two of her children—unarmed, frightened and nervous—allegedly were shot because they misunderstood the soldiers’ instructions about which side of the street to walk down.

In other words, they were shot for going left instead of right.

Another graduate described what he considered the “cold-blooded murder” of a Palestinian woman.

“The testimonies conveyed an atmosphere in which one feels entitled to use unrestricted force against Palestinians,” academy director Dany Zamir told Israel public radio.

“The climate in general…I don’t know how to describe it…. the lives of Palestinians, let’s say, are much, much less important than the lives of our soldiers,” an infantry squad leader is quoted as saying in the testimonies.

In another cited case, a commander ordered his troops to kill an elderly female civilian walking on a road, even though she was easily identifiable and clearly posed no immediate threat to the soldiers.

The testimonies, by combat pilots and infantry soldiers, also included allegations of the unnecessary destruction of Palestinian property and the ransacking and bulldozing of homes.

“We would throw everything out of the windows…refrigerators, plates, furniture. The order was to throw all of the house’s contents outside,” a soldier said.

Investigation Closed

The Israeli military, however, quickly closed the investigation into the soldiers’ testimonies, calling the accounts inaccurate and stating: “The military police investigation found that the crucial components of their descriptions were based on hearsay and not supported by specific personal knowledge.”

In a telephone interview, Michael Sfard, legal counselor for the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, said, “Such a decision by the military court is one more crack that makes our moral structure more shaky and less solid—the more we have such cracks, the less we will be able to stand up for our values.”

Meanwhile, the United Nations announced that South African Judge Richard Goldstone will head an international fact-finding mission into allegations of war crimes by Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in Gaza. The former war crimes prosecutor will head a four-member team whose mandate stems from a resolution adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Moshe Hanegbi, legal commentator for Israel public radio, argued that the investigation should not be conducted by the military, “as it would not be credible at a time when Israel is accused of war crimes, and officers could be tried abroad.”

Describing such military inquiries as “white-washed investigations,” Yesh Din’s Sfard said: “There is a need to create an independent and external investigation, with a professional body that has no links to the army.”

A Yesh Din statement elaborated: “If these orders were given as described in the testimonies, then both the issuing of the orders and their implementation are criminal offenses. If Israel does not investigate its own offenses, other countries will have to.”

Israeli as well as international human rights groups have criticized the military for failing to properly investigate violations of international laws of war, including the Geneva Conventions, in its assault on Gaza, despite compelling evidence of possible war crimes. This is nothing new, however.

“More than 90 percent of the complaints filed by Palestinian or Israeli human right organizations in the West Bank in regard to the conduct of Israeli soldiers in the West Bank against Palestinians end up with nothing,” noted Sfard.

“The number of complaints is considerably lower than the number of events in which Palestinians are victims of the IDF’s brutality,” he added. “Many Palestinians don’t believe in the system, so they don’t bother to complain.”

Meanwhile, Amnesty International, USA has revealed that the U.S. delivered hundreds of tons of unspecified weapons to Israel on March 22—mere weeks after Israel had killed hundreds of civilians in Gaza. The new weapons shipment raises the question of whether President Obama would act to prevent further Israeli attacks “that may amount to war crimes.”

This shipment may also be in violaton of regulations governing the sale of U.S. weapons to foreign nations, which are required to use them for defensive purposes only.

Amnesty International’s London-based International Secretariat has called on all governments to immediately suspend all arms shipments to Israel and Palestine in order to end the violence for which civilians have been bearing the brunt of the suffering for more than a century.

One Shot, Two Kills

The Israeli daily Haaretz disclosed that many Israeli soldiers wear T-shirts emblazoned with various images of “dead [Palestinian] babies, mothers weeping on their children’s graves, a gun aimed at a child and bombed-out mosques.” Photographs of these T-shirts were widely posted on the Internet, creating much outrage and negative public comment. One sharpshooter’s T-shirt showed a very disturbing image of the crosshairs of a sniper rifle lens focused on a pregnant Arab woman’s stomach. The accompanying caption read, “1 shot, 2 kills.”

Another shirt worn by infantry snipers featured the caption “Better use Durex” next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby with his weeping mother beside him.

The Haaretz report quotes one Israeli soldier as explaining: “These are shirts for around the house, for jogging, in the army. Not for going out.”

According to Sfard, however, it’s not important where the soldiers wear such T-shirts: “This is a keyhole to the mentality of how the soldiers are trained to think.”

And act?

ISRAEL’S LITTLE HITLER

By Khalid Amayreh

There is always fresh evidence justifying the Israeli-Nazi analogy. In recent days and weeks, a number of Israeli officials and lawmakers proposed “draft laws” that would effectively formalize Israel’s de facto racism and seriously restrict the human and civil rights of Israel’s non-Jewish citizens.

One of the proposals being discussed would criminalize the commemoration of Nakba by Palestinians holding the Israeli citizenship. Predictably, the brazenly racist proposal has infuriated Israel’s 1.5-million- strong Palestinian community.

One Israeli Palestinian parliamentarian compared the proposed law with an imagined promulgation by Germany of a law banning all Jewish activities commemorating the holocaust.

The lawmaker’s remarks are not far-fetched.  After all, the Nakba or catastrophe is the Palestinian holocaust, whether we like or not. True, the scope may not be identical in both cases. However, it is also true that Zionists have wrested the Palestinian people historical homeland form its rightful native inhabitants, destroyed their homes and towns, and expelled them to the four corners of the globe.

More to the point, the Palestinians are the longest-suffering people in modern history. They are still being haphazardly killed in the hundreds and thousands by a Gestapo-like army which claims to be the “most moral army in the world.” Palestinian homes are still being demolished, Palestinian land is still being stolen on a daily basis, and millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and especially Gaza Strip are still being hounded, starved, tormented, savaged and terrorized by the very country that shamelessly claims to be the only true democracy in the Middle East.

Aryeh Eldad

One of the most thuggish Israeli leaders who has been promoting Israel’s manifestly racist discourse against non-Jews in general and Palestinians in particular is Aryeh Eldad of the Nazi-like Ichud Leumi, or National Union.

This party holds more or less the same ideas and perceptions toward the Palestinian people that the German Nazis held against the Jews and other “untermenschen.”  It advocates genocide, ethnic cleansing, discriminatory treatment of non-Jews as well as wanton home demolitions and land confiscation of land owned by Palestinians.

Some of the party’s associates have called for “wiping off the goyem (non-Jews) from ‘the Land of Israel pursuant Biblical methods.”

The term “Biblical methods” refer to the genocidal wars the ancient Israelites waged against the Canaanite tribes in Palestine as recorded in the Bible.

A few days ago, Eldad proposed that Jordan be “transformed” into a Palestinian state and that Palestinians in the West Bank be granted the Jordanian citizenship.

The proposal would impose the Israeli sovereignty on “all mandatory Palestine” from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean and prepare the psychological and legal ground for the ultimate deportation of the estimated 5.1 million Palestinians from their ancestral homeland.

Interestingly, many Israeli leaders from various political parties have expressed keen interest in the diabolical proposal. Indeed, those who voiced reservations about the proposal did so on the ground that it was “unrealistic” and “impractical” not immoral and criminal.

In fact, even Labor party lawmakers in the Likud-led government voted in favor of referring the proposal to further discussion by the Knesset.

Eldad has a long history of making bluntly-fascist and racist provocations against the Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line as well as against Islam and Muslims.

Nearly six months ago, he hosted in West Jerusalem a virulently anti-Islam “seminar” in which a number of fascist-minded speakers from Israel and abroad took part.

The one-day seminar was addressed by notorious Islamophobes such as Daniel Pipes, an American-Jewish supremacist, Dutch Legislator Greet Wilders and Eldad himself.

After making characteristically venomous remarks against Islam, the Quran and Muslims, Wilders received a standing ovation.

A few years ago Eldad suggested that non-Jews were not true human beings.

He was quoted as saying during a protest against the eviction by the Israeli army of a small settler outpost in the West Bank that “it was sad that the army was treating real human beings as if they were Arabs.”

Eldad has also been a focal advocate of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in East Jerusalem where successive Israeli governments have been trying to besiege Arab demographic presence while actively encouraging Jewish settlement activities in and around the occupied Arab city.

Arab Knesset member Ahmed Teibi has described Eldad and likeminded Jewish leaders as “representing and embodying the ugly face of racism and fascism.”

“If Eldad and his ilk were living in any European country, they would be thrown behind bars immediately.  The fact that they are thriving in Israel speaks volumes about the poisoned political environment in this country.”

Teibi said the roots of Palestinians in occupied Palestine were deeper, much deeper, than the shallow roots of most Israeli Jews.

“Every honest person in this world can attest that every Jewish town or village is built on the ruins of an Arab town and village.”

I believe that honest people around the world are morally obligated to call the spade a spade, irrespective of whose hands the shovel happens to be.

Today, the ugly face of fascism is rising in Israel, and a Jewish Third Reich must never be allowed to evolve and prosper into a full-fledged Hitlerian monster at the hands of the very people who have made the epithet “Nazi” one of the ugliest words in all languages of the world.

Hence, the entire humanity is urged to combat and defeat the new Nazism now thriving in Israel. The fact that this Nazism is having a Jewish garment is totally irrelevant. Evil doesn’t become kosher or innocuous when done by Jews.

THE HOPE CONVOY’S ARRIVAL IN GAZA

The following photos were just sent to me by Ethan, a British member of the convoy…..

For continual updates on the progress of the Convoy today, periodically click HERE.

Here are a few pics of the conditions we had at the border crossing. In particular you see a disabled boy with our group forced to sleep on the floor beside his wheel chair. Someone using a brick as a pillow.
We had 6 male toilets with no toilet paper, so were forced to take a bottle of water and use that as best we could instead of toilet paper.
At a later stage we were given mattresses and pillows.

Conditions at the border…..


Young, disabled lad sleeping on the floor next to his wheelchair

Prayers before final decision was made…..

One of the journalists in the group….. (Centre, in blue shirt)

Gerry updating the group on its progress…..


Sleeping arrangements…..


Gazan girl returning home after treatment for injuries…..

United in ‘HOPE’…..

PHOTO ESSAY ~~ NEW YORK DECLARED WAR CRIMINAL FREE ZONE

Karl Rove came to New York to address a rally at Radio City Music Hall last night. He was ‘greeted’ by demonstrators outside declaring that ‘New York Is A War Criminal Free Zone’.

As always, our hardworking photographer, Bud, was there to capture the spirit of the crowd.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer









Click on image below to enlarge

ETHNIC CLEANSING AND GENOCIDE ARE NOT MATTERS TO POKE FUN AT

Yesterday I posted a satirical speech that was written by Greg Felton. It appeared to be a speech delivered by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon. I thought ( and hoped ) that the speech was for real, but in reality I fell for an April Fool’s joke in May. Ethnic cleansing and genocide are not matters to poke fun at.

There were, however, some valid points in the mock speech that I wish to address here today….. points that make the status of Israel as a member of the United Nations look like an April Fool’s joke as well…. but unfortunately at the expense of the entire Palestinian population.

The points are covered here: United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 requires that Israel compensate Arabs for all property destroyed or confiscated by Israel. Israel’s membership in the United Nations as set forth in UN General Assembly Resolution 273 specifically requires Israel to comply with Resolution 194.
It must be pointed out that Resolution 194 also grants the Palestinians the Right of Return to THEIR homeland.

Sixty years after its admission to the World Body, all of the above resolutions have been violated or ignored, yet Israel remains a member in good standing of the United Nations. Nearly 300 resolutions have been passed by the Security Council and the General Assembly affecting Israel and Israel’s response has been to turn its back on them all. You can read about this in detail in THIS Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

No other member nation has acted with such arrogance. How and why is it that Israel is able to get away with this? How and why have the other member nations tolerated this type of behaviour for sixty years?

Therefore, in light of the obvious destruction/confiscation of Arab homes without compensation, Israel is in violation of the terms by which it became a member of the United Nations. Israel’s membership in the United Nations is therefore null and void. This final statement is not meant to be an April Fool’s joke, it is, unfortunately. very real and MUST be acted upon by the World Body. Palestine must be admitted to the the United Nations as a full member, and must be protected against further destruction. Zionism must not be allowed to continue with its programmatic ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Palestinian people. Recent events in Gaza showed the world the brutality of the zionist regime…. they must be stopped NOW!

OBAMATOON FOR WEDNESDAY ~~ LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL

Image by Bendib

BOY OH BOY……. WHEN I’M WRONG, I’M REALLY WRONG

A post I did earlier was based on what I thought to be ‘news’ from a reliable source…. NOTHING could be further from the truth.

The Blog I cite as the source of the article is a site run by one of the most despicable neo nazis living in the United States. The Turner Radio Network ( a blog attached to the Hal Turner show: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hal_Turner#cite_note-0 ) is maybe most unreliable source on the internet.

The Turner Radio Network already spread many false news, and surely not in an innocent way: for instance:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/24/business/24turner.html
All of the above was pointed out to me by one of the editors of an Associate site, URUKNET.
For this I am grateful, and to you my readers, I apologise….

The ‘speech’ supposedly written by Ban Ki Moon was actually meant as a satirical piece, written by Greg Felton.
An irony of the Net is that the Turner Radio Network is listed as a news site on Google, while my Associate, Uruknet is not.

PROGRESS OF THE HOPE CONVOY IN GAZA

Direct from Ireland

Sorry for being so late in posting today, but it has been difficult to both make and receive phone calls from Gaza. Additionally, the electricity cycles on and off, so I have been unable so far to get the photos upload to me. After several attempts, we got lucky and I managed to get a report directly from Gerry MacLochlainn. I am posting it below and when I get the photos and other updates they will appear as usual on this blog. FREE PALESTINE:(UPDATE X1 I just noticed that some photos are now coming through and I will add them to this post, so check back soon!!)

Convoy of Hope for Gaza
European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza
Gerry MacLochlainn

Tuesday 26th May 2009

Tuesday 26th – the delegates from the convoy that were permitted to enter Gaza by the Egyptian Authorities awoke to see Gaza City this morning. It has been a surreal 24 hours.

Only yesterday, we were waking up after a night on the floor of the Rafah checkpoint. Where we were inexplicably stranded when the Egyptian authorities after stamping our exit visas, then revoked our permissions and we were stopped from entering Rafah. From our arrival to the crossing area at noon on Sunday, there followed 24 hours of anxious waiting, discussing, waiting, rumouring and speculating and then some more waiting while the organisers and the elected representatives spoke to various officials to attempt to discover the cause of the delay and to negotiate the release of the medical aid convoy including 25 ambulances a kidney dialysis machine, wheelchairs and tens of thousands of pounds worth of medicines.

The Egyptian authorities had proposed allowing just ten people through. This would be the elected politicians and some representatives of the convoy – Then, the Egyptians said; After those 10 members had entered Gaza and the rest of the members on the Egyptian side had departed, at that point the aid would be driven across by drivers from Gaza.

This was unacceptable to the delegates, who had seen stockpiles of aid on the Egyptian border that had laid there for months. Much of it perishable and now ruined or destroyed. The delegates decided they would rather bring the material and goods home, in order to show the world what the Siege of Gaza means in practice, rather than leave it to rot in some Egyptian warehouse.

The Egyptians stood their ground, and in a move which shocked and confused delegates, the authorities announced that we had to accept their offer or remove ourselves immediately from the crossing within 20 minutes, or we would be forcefully removed. Scores of riot police were seen at the rear of the building.

With people in wheelchairs, and anxious children to be concerned about, the convoy decided not to give any excuse to those who would refuse to let medical aid reach a desperate people in Gaza. The delegates decided to drive their vehicles back to Port Said and sail the aid back home to Europe. Where the huge amount of humanitarian aid would then become a touring monument, to the inhumanity of the siege of Gaza.

The media that had been waiting on the Rafah side of the border for more than 24 hours began to try to contact delegates by mobile phone. Pressure mounted as word was spreading of the aid waiting just 50 meters from Gaza.

Two Irish women leaving Gaza managed to get to the door of the hall where we were camped and asked to see me having heard that a Sinn Fein councillor was with the delegations.

They told me of the thousands who were lining the streets of Gaza to see the aid convoy arrive. People were desperate they said, and they were so proud that an Irish person was with the aid convoy. They told of the desperate need for basic medical equipment and medicines; and hoped that we would get through. They told me that they themselves, had waited all day yesterday in the baking heat for the arrival of the aid convoy.

Then they told me a spine chilling report from inside Gaza. They said that earlier that morning, Monday 25th, Israeli planes had streaked overhead and a loud explosion was heard outside the Europa hospital in Gaza. Thousands of leaflets were released warning Palestinians that Israel had now decided to declare up to 300 m inside Gaza from the border – not just with Israel but at Rafah too – a security zone. Any Palestinian who entered there without their permission, would be shot the Israelis threatened.

The convoy delegates then attempted one more time to negotiate and move things forward. Eventually and offer was made and ultimately agreed upon. The Egyptians would allow 20 convoy members to cross, along with the aid and vehicles into Gaza. The remaining members would have to leave the border and return to Cairo.

This was a difficult issue for the convoy as it mean that the majority of them, who had saved so hard and collected so much to purchase this equipment would have to turn back after weeks of delay in Egypt and not see the aid going to those who needed. Unselfishly the delegates agreed to the restriction in order to allow the aid through to the people of Gaza who needed it desperately.

Then there was a difficult period where the leaders of each group tried to select the people who should enter. Eventually a list was prepared and whilst many people were angry and upset at their omission it was accepted that we had little option but to accede to the restrictions if the aid was to be delivered.

Ultimately the list comprised the following:

Italian MP Fernando Rossi and Monia Benini, Italian Mohammad Abu Ali, plus 4 European citizens with disabilities, Gerry MacLochlainn of Sinn Fein, and a representative from each member country of the convoy.

Later that night (around 10pm) the Egyptian authorities moved quickly – and we were re-issued with our passports. Yesterdays stamp was cancelled and a new one issued to allow me and 21 others (We managed to add another two children to the list at the last minute). We were hustled to the border and climbed into some of the ambulances – one last security check at the gate and we crossed into the no-mans-land of a security zone where we could see the Israeli checkpoint about a kilometre away and we were finally in Gaza.

People clambered over the cars to give us flowers, Palestine flags, and just to wave or shake our hands. We were in Gaza among the Palestinian people who are living in the “world’s biggest concentration camp” – imprisoned in their own country and even denied basic medical aid.

When the waiting throng, including the Social Affairs Minister, heard that I was from Ireland and from Sinn Féin, a man was pushed forward to meet with me. “Hello” he said, “I am a former prisoner – I spent 14 years in an Israeli gaol” he said. Then another man cried into my hear “Tiocfaidh Ar Lá” which means “Our Day Will Come” in Irish.

I was finally among a people I have admired for so many years; and amongst those people, I felt at home.

Gerry MacLochlainn
Gaza,
Palestine

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Progress update….. posted at 3:22 PM GMT
Several things to tell, first there has been a live interview on PRESSTV which I just saw from Gaza interviewing the convoy Organiser. Also, the delegates went to a hospital today and handed over the medical aid, there was a press conference there as well, which we may see on presstv at some point. There is a huge media presence from around the world and members are constantly being interviewed. just before the two PRESSTV interviews I mentioned there was a live interview by Al Quds for those who get that channel (sadly I don’t)

Photos, I have received some, others are still uploading, it takes a long time the Internet connection there is awful and the electricity goes out from time to time. Welcome to Gaza life. The photos I have received so far I have placed in a slideshow so you can see them all. I will post individual ones later on when I have time to sort them. The slide show begins with Italian MP Fernando Rossi in Egypt, then shows other members of the convoy in Egypt, then heading to Port Said where they loaded the Vehicles, then on to the Rafah border and into the terminal compound where they spent the night. Then it ends with the first three vehicles going through late last night. Again I have more loading now and when they are done I’ll post them as well, so everyone can see them. Maybe you can see your friends or loved ones who are on the convoy representing your country or group.


Click HERE to see slideshow
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Progress update…. posted at 7:20 PM GMT

Italian MP Fernando Rossi Slams Silence on Gaza
I am not sure if my friend will have any more news for me today. I gave her my mobile phone before she left because I promised to pay for all the phonecalls but my phone battery dies quickly and I was talking to her not long ago and the phone was going so she will have to charge it now and given the electricity goes off and on in Gaza, we will see if it is charged again before the night ends. Really looking forward to getting that phone bill LOL….not. But, I did find out that the convoy members toured Gaza today and visited hospitals and witnessed the devastation. I was told the politicians, Italian MP Rossi and Sinn Fein Rep Maclochlainn did a press conference at a hospital today, but I have been unable to find anything on that conference online. I wonder if there are any other politicians on this convoy, I never see reports about any others except these two. Here is an article I did find about Rossi below:
Italian senator slams world’s silence on Gaza blockade

GAZA, May 26– An Italian parliamentarian Tuesday slammed the international community’s idle stance towards the Israeli blockade on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Those who do not say “no” to this siege and “no” for this oppression in Gaza are against freedom of Palestinian people, said Italian senator Fernando Rossi, who arrived in Gaza Monday night with a European aid convoy.

“Every one of us, either those who entered Gaza or those who remained outside… is sharing a Gazan thought and heart,” he told a press conference with deposed Hamas Minister of Works Ahmed al-Kurd.

Egypt only allowed 20 European activists into Gaza and prevented the others from entering. It also allowed 40 trucks with medical aid into the coastal strip.
Israel sealed off the Gaza Strip in June 2007 when Hamas routed security forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and seized control of Gaza.

Egypt also maintained the closure of Rafah crossing point, the only way for Gazans to the outside world, since a U.S.-brokered protocol said the crossing can not open without the presence of Abbas’ forces and EU monitors. link

WHAT THE NEW YORK TIMES (AND OTHERS) DEEMED ‘NOT FIT TO PRINT’

The following is NOT TRUE…. please read THIS before you continue with the post.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Another entry from the ‘I AM A BLOGGER, HEAR ME ROAR‘ series…..

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
It has long been assumed that the zionists have complete control of the Corporate Media in the United States. AIPAC and its supporters have literally gotten away with murder over the past 60 years as a result of this.
But, there are still some that doubt that what I just said is a fact….. if the following isn’t enough evidence, then I don’t know what is.
On the 11th of May, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, called for Israel to be stripped of its membership in the world body. Did you read about it ANYWHERE? I know I didn’t until this morning when it was brought to my attention. The reasons….. here is just one of them;
The UN News Agency placed the Secretary General’s remarks on its official web site on May 11 and shortly thereafter, a news site in Israel called “News from Jerusalem” published the story on its web site.
Within hours however, the remarks of the Secretary General to the General Assembly were pulled off the UN site! In their place was a second address by the Secretary General, this one to the Security Council which was made the next day, May 12.

In addition, the May 11 story about ousting Israel from the UN was pulled off the “News from Jerusalem” site! In its place is a retraction challenging the validity of the source.

The above (in italics) is taken from a Blog, proving once again the valuable role played by the Blogesphere as the vehicle of getting the truth out to the masses. It is more than disturbing, it is downright frightening that our lives are in such control by the zionists.
Below is the full text of the Secretary General’s speech to the General Assembly….. pass it on, it must become public knowledge.

11 May 2009
Address to the 63rd Session of the General Assembly on the 60th Anniversary of Israel’s Admission
Mr. President,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
With each passing year, we come closer to our past. Every year brings with it momentous anniversaries of events that shaped our world. For example, we have recently marked the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II and of the United Nations itself.

These two events, inextricably linked, form the basis of what we have come to know as the modern era, the post-war era.
For me, as Secretary–General, looking back on where the UNN started and where it is now has a special importance, for I am now charged with guiding the world body through unknown and uncertain territory. Terrorism has long since replaced arms control and detente as the focus of international security, yet the term defies definition. One country’s terrorist is another country’s revolutionary hero. Some insist that terrorists are opposed to democracy, but we have all seen democracies behave like terrorists.

In many ways, the world today does not seem to be very removed from the barbarity of world war. The invasion of Iraq has lasted longer than World War II, and more tons of bombs have been dropped on that poor country than all the bombs dropped in that great war. The International Declaration of Human Rights, so prized and venerated by men and women of honour everywhere, stands as an impotent relic of a forgotten time because conquest, cruelty, and arrogance are still with us and growing stronger.

For all of the good the UN has accomplished since its founding, and there have been successes, the sheer magnitude of human suffering and violations of international law that have occurred and are still occurring must also be taken into account.

Few people know that Israel is the only state to be given a conditional admission. Under General Assembly Resolution 273, Israel was admitted on the condition that it grant all Palestinians the right to return to their homes and receive compensation for lost or damaged property. This provision is embedded in UNGA Resolution 194.

Suffice to say, Israel has never lived up to those terms, and never intended to. For 60 years Israel has violated its terms of admission, and for 60 years the UN has done nothing about it. It has watched as Israel heaped misery upon misery on Palestine, and violated international law with impunity.

After Operation Cast Lead, no person, no country, no democracy can look at Israel without thinking of the inhuman slaughter and destruction committed by the axis powers in World War II, though one could have said the same about numerous past massacres. What atrocities might the world have been spared if the UN had refused to admit Israel 60 years ago?

Of course, the immediate post-war world was a different time. The world had just witnessed the horrors of Hitler’s racist excesses, and collective Western guilt for the Holocaust dictated attitudes toward the idea of a Jewish state. Even the UN could not withstand the moral pressure. On Nov. 29, 1947, it passed General Assembly Resolution 181, The Partition Plan, to carve a Jewish state out of Arab Palestine. However, it was never ratified by the Security Council, and so does not exist in law, which means the UN played no role in the creation of Israel. Nevertheless, The Partition Plan was utterly illegal and a violation of the UN Charter, because the UN had no right or power to take land from one people and give it to another.

If it hopes to play a meaningful role in the 21st century, the UN must do more than simply promise to enact reforms. It must search deep within its soul to redress the fundamental violations of its founding principles, which have long since ceased to have any force. That recommitment must begin now, for it was 60 years ago today, May 11, 1949, that Israel became a member of the UN. The UN cannot hope to achieve any measure of peace or justice as long as it condones war crimes, which it does every day that Israel is allowed to flout its terms of admission. The past cannot be undone, but the future can change. As its newly elected Secretary-General, I promise that the UN will no longer be a passive enabler of genocide. Therefore, I will ask the General Assembly to meet in special session at the earliest possible time to strip Israel of its membership. Ordinarily, a motion to expel a member nation would have to come at the recommendation of the Security Council, but this is not an ordinary motion. Because Israel is in violation of its terms of admission, it is not a member in good standing, so the UN has every right to declare General Assembly Resolution 273 null and void. Since Israel’s membership depends on adherence to that resolution, its expulsion is automatic. Essentially, the unavoidable, lamentable truth of the last six decades is that the UN has been a moral and political failure because it has refused to enforce its own rules and defend the Charter. Nothing the UN does will have any value as long as this illegitimate member occupies a place in the General Assembly. I want the UN to have value.
I count on your support.
Thank you very much.
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THE SIEGE IS OVER….. FOR REAL THIS TIME! ….. HOPE CONVOY ENTERS GAZA

Direct from IRELAND…… 8PM GMT

Friends just rang as they crossed the border into Gaza!!!
OMG They are crossing the border RIGHT NOW!!!

SIEGE IS BROKEN

I’m so excited I can’t type right now

put on presstv and aljazeera there are media inside Gaza

I can’t belive it I’m in tears

they are IN GAZA

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
LATEST….. GREATEST NEWS YET!

If you missed my last post, they are INSIDE NOW!! SPREAD THE WORD, THE SIEGE IS BROKEN!

I am so happy for all the Palestinians on the convoy who got home tonight. I can hardly type this update. There are media everywhere and cameras, but so far no big news agency has shown anything on TV yet as I am checking constantly as I type.I expect more reports and photos tonight, now that they are inside!! So check back after the greeting is over.

And for the Irish people a very special greeting from Gaza was given to Gerry MacLochlainn the Sinn Fein Irish Representative as he arrived in Gaza.

That greeting is below AND they said it in Irish:

“Tiocfaidh Ar La!”

For those who do not know that phrase, it comes from the Irish struggle for freedom, translated it means “our day will come”

I’m crying now

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