A NEW BEGINNING FOR HUMANITY WITH THE CHANGE WE WERE PROMISED

As we enter a new decade in our new milenium, let us hope and pray it will be a Happy and Healthy one for all of humanity.
A year without war, occupation, tyranny of any sort.

A year of Peace and Justice for ALL!

DesertPeace and its Associates wishes all of its readers and friends all the best for 2010.

A Multilingual Happy New Year

Afgani Saale Nao Mubbarak
Afrikaans Gelukkige nuwe jaar
Albanian Gezuar Vitin e Ri
Arabic Antum salimoun
Bengali Shuvo Nabo Barsho
Bulgarian ×åñòèòà Íîâà Ãîäèíà(pronounced “Chestita Nova Godina”)
Chinese Chu Shen Tan
Cymraeg (Welsh) Blwyddyn Newydd Dda
Czechoslovakia Scastny Novy Rok
Denish Godt Nytår
Dutch GELUKKIG NIEUWJAAR!
Eskimo Kiortame pivdluaritlo
Estonians Head uut aastat!
Finnish Onnellista Uutta Vuotta
French Bonne Annee
Gaelic Bliadhna mhath ur
German Prosit Neujahr
Greek Kenourios Chronos
Hawaiian Hauoli Makahiki Hou
Hebrew L’Shannah Tovah
Hindi Nahi varsh ka shub kamna
Hungarian Boldog £j vet k¡v nok!
Indonesian Selamat Tahun Baru
Iraqi Sanah Jadidah
Irish Bliain nua fe mhaise dhuit
Italian: Felice anno nuovo
Kannada: Hosa Varushadha Shubhashayagalu
Kisii: SOMWAKA OMOYIA OMUYA
Khmer: Sua Sdei tfnam tmei
Laotian: Sabai dee pee mai
Nepal Nawa Barsha ko Shuvakamana
Norwegian Godt Nyttår
Papua New Guinea

Nupela yia i go long yu
Philippines Manigong Bagong Taon
Polish: Szczesliwego Nowego Roku
Portuguese Feliz Ano Novo
Punjabi Nave sal di mubarak
Romanian AN NOU FERICIT
Russian S Novim Godom
Serbo-Croatian Sretna nova godina
Sindhi Nayou Saal Mubbarak Hoje
Singhalese Subha Aluth Awrudhak Vewa
Slovak A stastlivy Novy Rok
Slovenian
SREČNO NOVO LETO
Somali Iyo Sanad Cusub Oo Fiican!
Spanish Feliz Ano ~Nuevo
Swahili Heri Za Mwaka Mpyaº
Swedish GOTT NYTT ÅR! /Gott nytt år!
Sudanese Warsa Enggal
Tamil Eniya Puthandu Nalvazhthukkal
Telegu Noothana samvatsara shubhakankshalu
Thai Sawadee Pee Mai
Turkish Yeni Yýlýnýz Kutlu Olsun
Ukrainian Shchastlyvoho Novoho Roku
Urdu Naya Saal Mubbarak Ho
Vietnamese Chuc Mung Tan Nien

PEACE WITH JUSTICE IN 2010 ~~ 25 WAYS TO MAKE IT A REALITY

By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

A year ago, in the midst of the savage attack on Gaza, we in the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement between People in Beit Sahour issued a call for action composed of 25 things that ordinary people can do (list below).  Today we are gathering in Bethlehem (Nativity Square 4-6 PM) in the last day of the year. Bethlehemite Children will read the names of close to 400 children murdered in Gaza a year ago and to pledge that in 2010 we will intensify our efforts including with boycotts, divestments and sanctions.  The event in the square of the church of nativity.

It is fitting that attendance at this event will be higher than expected before because many of the people who were supposed to go to Gaza and were prevented by the puppet government in Egypt (acting on behalf of Israel) have instead come to join us here. For news and details about the travails of the Gaza Freedom March, see http://www.gazafreedommarch.org/ Seven of them who are staying in my house (plus an eighth who also was supposed to go to Gaza but decided it is not going to work out) attended our planning meeting and stayed up last night with me and my wife making hangings for the tree.  Each hanging/”decoration” has the name and age of one of the children from Gaza on one side and on the other side is the sticker carrying the words Freedom, Equality, Return and a call to boycott Israel.  Each will be appropriately hung by a child from Bethlehem remembering a  child from Gaza.

On this last day of the year as we reflect on the last year in Palestine where it was filled with hope, began with Children and ending with children (and youth and young at heart from around the world). We reflect on the hundreds of new people we met, on the excellent and productive year of activism, on finishing my book, and most of all on the blessings of activism, the best and most sure recipe for happiness. With your help, may the new year bring us all peace with justice.
Action call from the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People:

So far hundreds of civilians have been killed in Gaza.  Five sisters in one family, four other children in another home, two children on a cart drawn by a donkey.  Universities, colleges, police stations, roads, apartment buildings were all targeted.  The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian areas issued a statement that “The Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip represent  severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war.”

Twenty-five things to do to bring peace with justice (slightly updated from last year):

1) First get the facts and then disseminate them. ….
2) Contact local media.  Write letters to editors (usually 100-150 words) and longer op-eds (usually 600-800 words) for local newspapers.  But also write to news departments in both print, audio, and visual media about their coverage.  In the US http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbq/media/ You can find media listings in your country using search engines like google

3) Contact elected and other political leaders in your country to urge them to apply pressure to end the attacks. In the US, Contact the State Department at 202.647.5291, the White House 202-456-1111 the Egyptian Embassy 202.895.5400, Email (embassy@egyptembassy.net) and the Obama Transition Team 202-540-3000 (then press 2 to speak with a staff member).

4) Organize and join demonstrations in front of Israeli and Egyptian embassies or when not doable in front of your parliament, office of elected officials, and any other visible place (and do media work for it).

5) Hold a teach-in, seminar, public dialogue, documentary film viewing  etc.  this is straightforward: you need to decide venue, nature, if any speakers, and do some publicity (the internet helps).

6) Pass out fliers with facts and figures about Palestine and Gaza in your community (make sure also to mention its relevance to the audience: e.g, US tax payers funding war crimes and increase in world instability and economic uncertainty)

7) Put a Palestinian flag at your window.

8) Wear a Palestinian head scarf (Kufiya)

9) Wear Black arm bands (this helps start conversations with people)

10) Send direct aid to Gaza through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). http://www.un.org/unrwa/

11) Initiate boycotts, divestments and sanctions at all levels and including asking leaders to expel the Israeli ambassadors (an ambassador of an apartheid and rogue state).  See Palestinian call http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10056.shtml and look at the site of the BDS Movement. http://www.BDSmovement.net

12) Work towards bringing Israeli leaders before war crime courts (actions along those lines in courts have stopped Israeli leaders from traveling abroad to some countries like Britain where they may face charges).

13) Calling upon all Israelis to demonstrate in front of their war ministry and to more directly challenge their government

14) Do outreach to neighbors, friends, and cowarkers (and others) directly.  You can reach many others by the internet to (e.g.  join and post information to various listservs/groups, write directly to all people in positions of influence).

15) Start your own activist group or join other local groups (simple search in your city with the word Palestine could identify candidate groups that have previously worked on issues of Palestine).  Many have also been successful in at bringing coalitions from different constituencies in their local areas to work together (human rights group, social and civil activists, religious activists, etc).

16) Develop a campaign of sit-ins at government offices or other places where decision makers aggregate

17) Do a group fast for peace one day and hold it in a public place.

18) Visit Palestine

19) Support human rights and other groups working on the ground in Palestine

20) Make large signs and display them at street corners and whereever people congregate.

21) Contact local churches, mosques, synagogues, and other houses of worship and ask them to take a moral stand and act. Call on your mosque to dedicate this Friday for Gaza actions.

22) Sign petitions for Gaza, e.g.
http://www.avaaz.org/en/gaza_time_for_peace/98.php?cl_tf_sign=1

23) Write and call people in Gaza

24) Work with other groups that do not share your political views (factionalism and excessive divisions within activist communities allowed those who advocate war to succeed).

25) Dedicate a certain time for activism for peace every day (1 hour) and think of more actions than what is listed above.

For support and contacts of people in Gaza or to volunteer, please contact the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People, via gaza@imemc.org, or call 989-607-9480 (from the US and Canada) or 972 2277 2018 (from other places).

FINALLY…. THE NY TIMES FOUND SOME SPACE TO ‘FIT SOME NEWS’

Protesters Gather in Cairo for March to Gaza

Amr Nabil/Associated Press

Hedy Epstein, a Holocaust survivor, center, was among hunger strikers in Cairo on Tuesday showing solidarity with Gazans.

By MONA EL-NAGGAR

CAIRO — More than 1,000 people from around the world were gathered here on Tuesday for a solidarity march into Gaza despite Egypt’s insistence that the Gaza border crossing that it controls would remain closed to the vast majority of them.

The protest, the Gaza Freedom March, was planned for Thursday and intended to mark a year since Israel’s three-week military assault on the territory. On Tuesday, hundreds of the frustrated activists gathered to press their case on the front steps of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate here, holding “Free Gaza” signs and chanting, “Let us go.” Some declared a hunger strike.

About 100 French citizens staged a sit-in in front of the French Embassy, and some Americans pleaded for help at the United States Consulate.

The Egyptian government agreed to let 100 activists into Gaza on Wednesday, according to one of the organizers of the march.

The crossing, at Rafah, Egypt, has been closed for most purposes since the summer of 2007, when the militant group Hamas seized control of Gaza from the rival Western-backed forces of Fatah. Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza, and the Egyptian government, citing its own security needs, closed the crossing, drawing criticism from within Egypt and across the Arab world.

International criticism of Israel spiked after the Gaza assault, which left as many as 1,400 Palestinians dead, including hundreds of civilians. Thirteen Israelis were killed. While both sides were accused of war crimes, most of the outrage was focused on Israel because of its overwhelming military strength and the enormous differences in the death tolls.

International activists have been challenging Israel’s control of Gaza’s waters, sending in boats to bring in supplies and convey support; Israel has blocked many.

Egypt repeatedly refused to open its border ahead of the planned march, citing what its officials said were “security reasons,” but participants in the march flew to Cairo anyway, hoping the government would relent.

“We have not come to Egypt to create trouble or cause conflict,” organizers of the march wrote in an open letter to Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak. “We have come because we believe that all people — including the Palestinians of Gaza — should have access to the resources they need to live in dignity.”

The letter said the group, which is urging Israel to lift its blockade, raised tens of thousands of dollars for medical aid, school supplies and clothing to take to Gaza.

The Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, expressed frustration at the activists who came to Cairo despite the warning that the border was closed.

“Those who tried to conspire against us, and they are more than a thousand, we will leave them in the street,” he said.

One protester, Hedy Epstein, 85, a Holocaust survivor, arrived in Egypt from the United States on Saturday. She said she started a hunger strike on Monday.

“My message is for the world governments to wake up and treat Israel like they treat any other country and not to be afraid to reprimand and criticize Israel for its violent policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians,” Ms. Epstein said. “I brought a suitcase full of things, pencils, pens, crayons, writing paper to take to children in Gaza — I can’t take that back home.”

Source

OPEN LETTER TO THE GAZA FREEDOM MARCHERS

The opinion of Haidar Eid and Omar Barghouti on the Gaza Freedom March

The following statement was released today by two leading Palestinian intellectuals and activists:

Dear Gaza Freedom March organizers and participants,

After a lot of hesitation and deliberation, we are writing to call on you to reject the “deal” reached with the Egyptian leadership (through Mrs. Mubarak). This deal is bad for us and, we deeply feel, terrible for the solidarity movement.

We initially felt that if representatives of all forty some countries can go to Gaza and lead a symbolic march along Palestinians it would convey the message to the world public opinion, our main target. However, after listening to the Egyptian Foreign Minister’s press conference last night on Aljazeera and the way he described the deal in details, we are unambiguous in perceiving this compromise as too heavy, too divisive and too destructive to our future work and networking with various solidarity movements around the world.

Mr. Abu Al-Gheit described the 100 that they graciously accepted to allow to enter Gaza as those from organizations which Egypt considers “good and sincere in standing in solidarity with Gaza the same way as we [the ergime] do.” He described the rest as “from organizations that are only interested in subversion and acting against Egyptian interests, to sow havoc on the streets of Egypt, not to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians.”  He also said that the Egyptian public was wise enough to see that those were hooligans and stayed away from them. Other than the obvious divisiveness that agreeing to this deal would cause, what’s wrong with this picture:

1) The Egyptian regime in this press conference painted a picture of the great majority of the internationals participating in the GFM as hooligans and agents provocateurs, not real solidarity groups. This is a grave insult to all of us, to all our partners and to the entire GFM, as it depicts us all as partnering with “fanatic,” “destructive” forces, not forces for ending the siege and for the rule of law;

2) The Egyptian leadership will use our agreement on this to say that their position and “way of solidarity with Gaza” was right all along, and those that saw the light and agreed with this wise way were allowed in.

3) Arab and international public pressure on the Egyptian government are rising dramatically due to the actions that you all have engages in and the excellent media messages that you have sent. The Egyptian government wants to use this deal to release pressure and re-paint itself as concerned about Palestinians in Gaza. This is all to deflect attention from the Steel Wall they are building and the fresh calls for taking the government to task over its complicity in the Israeli criminal siege.

Our longer term interests as Palestinians is not to allow the regime to get off the hook this easily. Either they allow all 1400 participants into Gaza (if they are “hooligans” best to get rid of them in Egypt and “ship” them to Gaza, right?) or we strongly urge you to reject the deal out of hand as too little, too late and too ill-conceived.

We cannot possibly decide on this matter, as ultimately this is up to ALL of you. If a CLEAR majority among you feel that you want to go through with the deal, we shall always welcome you in Gaza and deeply appreciate your solidarity. But we feel your solidarity without coming to Gaza, exposing the Egyptian siege against you and us, may bear more fruit for us and towards ending the siege, at least from the Egyptian side.

We salute you all and thank you from our hearts for the indescribable work you have all done for Gaza!

Respectfully,

Haidar Eid, Gaza
Omar Barghouti, Jerusalem

Here’s a comment released by Mohammed Omer who won the Martha Gellhorn Prize last year for his reporting from Gaza. It was sent to a journalist colleague of mine:

For us a population of 1.6 million being imprisoned and starved the gratitude we express to you, the Gaza freedom marchers, is immense. You who have come to Egypt have shown the world that what we are living through is a inhumane injustice and those who stop your progress join with the tyrants of this world who are prepared to starve a population of women, children and elderly people because of a political difference of opinion..

Thank you all from the depth of our hearts!

In my people’s name,

Mohammed Omer – Gaza

“The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm but because of those who look at it without doing anything.” Albert Einstein


Source

OBAMATOON ~~ HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

click on image to enlarge

THE VIDEO ISRAEL WON’T LET ME WATCH

I went to the What Really Happened site
and clicked on the following…..


Fake Al Qaeda Actors EXPOSED! Adam Gadahn & Yousef al-Khattab

and this is what I got….

This video is not available in your country!

WHY???
What is Israel so afraid of?

I was able to view the video with the help of a friend by downloading it from THIS

Censorship in the ‘Only Democracy in the Middle East’?
Unheard of!

OBAMA’S NEW YEAR’S EVE TOON

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

click on image to enlarge

NO CONJUGAL VISITS ALLOWED FOR FORMER PRISONER VANUNU

Image by Bendib

If this wasn’t for real it would be the funniest sitcom Israel ever produced…. but… it’s a good excuse for the Israeli media to ignore the situation of the Viva Palestina Convoy that is attempting to enter Gaza.

His lawyer said he was detained over a romance with a Norwegian woman rather than for revealing nuclear secrets.

“Vanunu was arrested (for) a relationship between a man and a woman, with a Norwegian citizen,” attorney Avigdor Feldman told reporters.

“He is not being accused of giving any secrets. She is not interested in nuclear business — she’s interested in Mordechai Vanunu (and he) is probably interested in her,” Feldman said.

A Jerusalem court ordered Vanunu, who was taken into police custody on Monday, put under house arrest for three days pending an indictment, police said.

On the news last night, Vanunu had the following to say…

“BULL SHIT CHARGE…. BULL SHIT STATE!”

That just about sums up the ridiculousness of the whole situation.


A Reuters report can be read HERE.

UPDATES ON VIVA PALESTINA CONVOY TO GAZA

Egypt blocks travel of Gaza Freedom March activists
Activist and Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein is amongst those prevented from traveling to Gaza by the Egyptian authorities. (Ali Abunimah)
CAIRO-  More than 1,000 persons from 42 countries who have vowed to travel from Cairo to the Gaza Strip on 31 December in a bid to highlight and break the Israeli economic blockade, will be prevented from carrying out their mission, according to the Egyptian authorities.

The protesters hope to bring aid to the 1.5 million residents of Gaza a year after Israel’s 23-day offensive ended on 18 January 2009.

“It’s a shame on Egypt to prevent these people from entering Gaza, which has been suffering this Israeli blockade for a long time now,” Diaaeddin Gad, a spokesman for the activists, told IRIN.

On 27 December, the marchers were prevented by police from floating 1,400 candles on the River Nile to commemorate the deaths of 1,400 Palestinian victims of the offensive.

Margaret Hawthorn, 62, who flew in from Massachusetts in the US to take part in the event, said she was stunned to discover she would not be allowed to show solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza. “It’s important that we come here to express support for the people of Gaza,” she told IRIN.

She was one of some 1,360 persons — including doctors, lawyers, diplomats, rabbis, imams, a women’s delegation, a Jewish contingent, a veterans group and Palestinians born overseas — due to take part in the event on 31 December organized by Gaza Freedom March, a coalition of activists of all faiths focusing on human rights.

Police also prevented the activists from staging a protest outside Egypt’s Bar Association in central Cairo.

“This is so contradictory,” said Nikos Progonlis, a Greek man who came to Cairo with his wife for the march. “Egypt declares its support to the people of Gaza on the one hand, but asks us not to march for Gaza on the other. I really can’t understand that.” He said friends of his who wanted to come to Cairo via the Egyptian city of al-Arish had been arrested earlier in the day.

Other activists said many people had been denied Egyptian visas.

Steel barrier

Tensions between Gaza activists and the Egyptian authorities are already high because of a recent Egyptian decision to build an underground steel barrier along its part of the border with the Strip — designed to prevent the smuggling of arms and goods through underground tunnels between Gaza and Egypt.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit defended the barrier, calling it a “national security issue,” and others have publicly condemned the Gaza activists.

“Some of these convoys contain radical people from several countries who can cause trouble if they are let in,” Sherif Hafez, an Egyptian political analyst and specialist on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, told IRIN. “These people want to spoil Egypt-Israeli relations.”

“Egypt is just taking its orders from Israel,” activists’ spokesman Gad said. “It would never have prevented us from entering Gaza and would never have built this barrier if Israel had not wanted that.”

A report in August 2009 by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) detailed the humanitarian effects of the blockade, which has been in place since 2007.


Source
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Gaza Freedom March Update

Contributed by: Greta Berlin


The Gaza Freedom March was thrown into disarray today after a surprise announcement by the Egyptian government that it would allow 100 march participants to travel to the Gaza Strip early on Wednesday morning. The decision was reportedly as a result of a direct request from Egyptian first lady Suzanne Mubarak to the Egyptian foreign ministry following intense lobbying by marchers and organizers over the last three days.

Organisers had two hours within which to accept or decline the offer, and the impossible task of deciding which 100 delegates to send. The quota amounts to a mere 7% of the more than 1,300 people who are registered for the march. After consultation with local organizers in the besieged Gaza Strip, the international steering committee decided that sending 100 delegates as a symbolic show of support was better than having nobody arrive in Gaza.

Due to time constraints, march organizers compiled a list of proposed delegates with each country being alotted roughly two places. Because marchers are dispersed across Cairo at various ongoing protest actions, these developments were only communicated to the representatives of each country’s delegation at an emergency meeting called on Tuesday night.

This meeting soon descended into a heated debate. Several marchers were enraged that a decision of this magnitude had been taken unilaterally by organisers. Many felt that this move compromised the unity of the international delegation by excluding more than 1,200 registered participants. Adding to the tension was the near-impossible task of deciding who would go and who would remain behind.

The intensive and at times emotionally charged discussion, which lasted several hours, saw the attendees split into two main opposing camps. Some were of the opinion that a small representative delegation of this nature was an important “victory” against Egyptian government policy vis-á-vis the Rafah crossing. They also argued that it was vitally important to have an international presence inside the Gaza Strip during the planned march on 31 December as a show of support to Palestinians, despite this delegation being a fraction of the originally planned size.

The opposing view, which seemed to be the dominant feeling amongst most countries represented at the meeting, was that the decision to compromise was a grave mistake. Proponents of this view argued that they had come “not to send another symbolic aid delegation to Gaza, but rather to break the siege en mass and challenge the policy in the region with respect to Gaza’s isolation.”

This group feared that by endorsing the 100-person quota, they would play directly into the Egyptian government’s hands, affording them much needed positive publicity in the international media, whilst a longterm change in policy regarding the closure of Rafah would be left unchallenged. “This just gives the Egyptian government a photo-op and the chance to say we allowed people through,” said Bassem Omar, a Canadian delegate.

Many here see this as merely an attempt by the Egyptian government to save face in the international community while the country is in the media spotlight and under global political pressure to allow the march to proceed.

After a chaotic few hours of wrangling with these issues, the group split up into their various national delegations and affinity groups to decide amongst themselves whether they would accept the offer and participate in the 100-person convoy. At the time of writing, the Canadian, South African and Swedish national delegations had decided not to participate as they felt that this approach undermined the very purpose of the march, which was to break the siege, not send an aid convoy.

A spokesperson from the French delegation also slammed the idea as “divisive” and said that the sit-in at the French embassy would continue instead. Activists who remain in Cairo are planning to continue their protest action at several venues across the city, culminating in a single mass mobilisation planned for 31 December in direct contravention of a ban on large gatherings imposed by Egyptian police.

Greta Berlin


Source

TRAVELING ON ‘THE AXIS OF EVIL’

28 kilometers of distilled apartheid
By Gideon Levy

This highway has told the whole story. They pave a road, expropriate Palestinian land and the High Court of Justice approves the expropriation, in its words, “provided that it is done for the sake of the local population.”

Afterwards they prevent the “local population” from using the road, and finally they build a wall with drawings of creeks and meadows so we don’t see and don’t know that we are driving on an apartheid road, that we are traveling on the axis of evil.

Apartheid? What are you talking about? It’s just a freeway to the capital, because that’s how we like it best. Going (quickly) along with the occupation and feeling like there is none. That way the highway has fulfilled another secret national wish – that they get out of our faces.


How many of the masses of travelers on this high road to the capital have looked to their left and right? How many of them have noticed the 12 roads blocked by iron roadblocks and piles of garbage? (Is there another country that blocks roads with garbage?) And what about the 22 confined and concealed villages alongside the road? How many people have asked themselves how it is possible that a road that was paved in the heart of the Land of Palestine has no Palestinians traveling on it? How many have noticed the sign that leads to the “Ofer [army] camp”, another whitewashed name for a detention facility or the hundreds of prisoners detained there, some without trial?

How many have observed the inhabitants trudging over the rocky ground to get to the neighboring village? It’s 28 kilometers of distilled apartheid: the Jews on top on the freeway becoming of the lords of the land. Palestinians down below, going on foot to the Al-Tira village girls’ school, for example, through a dark, moldy tunnel.

I, too, have deliberated more than once whether to take Highway 1 with all of its traffic jams or 443 with all of its injustices. In my transgressions, sometimes I have opted for the injustices. It’s like shooting and crying. First you kill and then you are struck with grief over what you have done. I have driven and cried.

The High Court of Justice has again proven how essential it is. Too late and too little, and strangely imposing a delay of five months in the implementation of its ruling. It is not a beacon of justice with regard to everything related to the occupation, but it is at least a small flashlight shining a faint beam: beware, apartheid.

Justices Dorit Beinisch and Uzi Vogelman should be commended. They have reminded us what had been forgotten. There are judges in Jerusalem, and periodically they even come out against the injustice of the occupation. See you in another five months. By then maybe the state will find a range of rationales and excuses not to enforce the ruling. Palestinian cars on Highway 443? You’re making me (and the army) laugh.

Source

The above refers to THIS Court ruling….

ONCE AGAIN THE BLOGESPHERE SHOWS ITS STRENGTH

In a display of a true sense of loyalty to the zionist governments of Israel and the United States, the Egyptian government has made their position very clear on their treatment of the VivaPalestina Convoy.


Anyone watching the evening news in Israel tonight would not even know that a Convoy arrived a few days ago and due to the combined efforts of the US, Egyptian and Jordanian governments they have not been allowed to enter Gaza with their supplies of humanitarian aid.

The Blogesphere is playing a more important role daily as the commercial mass media chooses to ignore the REAL issues of the day. DesertPeace is proud to be a part of this phenomenon. Hopefully you are keeping up to date via us and others that tell it as it is.

The following is just one example of what you won’t be reading in the New York Times…..
Egypt: Viva Palestina must obey our rules

The Egyptian government has the right to determine through which port aid convoys to Gaza can arrive, and to request cooperation from the activists, Husam Zaki, spokesman of the Egyptian foreign ministry told Egyptian TV on Monday.

Zaki told Egypt’s Channel Two that activists had finally listened to government orders, saying they would re-route the convoy to travel via Al-Arish, the Mediterranean port, rather than Nuweiba, the Red Sea port.

Viva Palestina organizers lamented in a statement that the demand would “add days and costs to the journey, as it [would] entail hiring ships and sailing around the Sinai Peninsula through the Suez canal.” The first two convoys also traveled to Gaza via Al-Arish, and organizers did not explain why they had changed course for this trip.

The first Viva Palestina convoy, backed by British MP George Galloway, started in the UK, went south to Spain, then across North Africa to Egypt. For second convoy, in June, delegates flew into Cairo and drove equipment to the Rafah crossing.

The latest convoy travelled through Europe to Turkey and down to Jordan via Syria. Egyptian spokesman Zaki said he understood why the group chose to travel through Turkey.

“We realized the political goals behind passage through Turkey, most of the participants and the aid were from Turkey,” Zaki said. He said Egypt had no problem with Turkish aid and Viva Palestina delegates coming into the country, but asked that participants respect the government decision.

He explained that a route for the convoy via Al-Arish had been approved by Egypt’s security services, adding that all aid destined for Gaza was required to clear at the port in Al-Arish only.

Zaki said the convoy organizers were informed of the rules, but said the “did not even bother to reply” to the Egyptian communiqué.

Organizers told Ma’an they notified Egyptian officials of both the route of the third convoy and details of all the participants “well in advance” of the travel date, and added that they were only told of the rules preventing them from using the Nuwbia port on 21 December.

Zaki said the route for the convoy via Al-Arish had been approved by Egypt’s security services, adding that all aid destined for Gaza was required to clear at the port in Al-Arish only.

Zaki said the convoy organizers were informed of the rules, but said the “did not even bother to reply” to the Egyptian communiqué. A spokeswoman from the Viva Palestina office in London said the accusation was false.


VANUNU ~~ THEY JUST WON’T LEAVE HIM ALONE

He done the crime….. he served his time!

Why won’t they leave him alone already? Does Israel still have something to hide?

Vanunu arrested for parole violations – again

Former atom spy detained for breaching parole stipulation prohibiting him from meeting foreign nationals

Read the short report HERE

TIME STANDS STILL FOR GAZA

Israel resembles a failed state
Ali Abunimah

(Nidal El-Khairy)

One year has passed since the savage Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip, but for the people there time might as well have stood still.

Since Palestinians in Gaza buried their loved ones — more than 1,400 persons, almost 400 of them children — there has been little healing and virtually no reconstruction.

According to international aid agencies, only 41 trucks of building supplies have been allowed into Gaza during the year.

Promises of billions made at a donors’ conference in Egypt last March attended by luminaries of the so-called “international community” and the Middle East peace process industry are unfulfilled, and the Israeli siege, supported by the US, the European Union, Arab states, and tacitly by the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah, continues.

Amid the endless, horrifying statistics a few stand out: of Gaza’s 640 schools, 18 were completely destroyed and 280 damaged in Israeli attacks. Two-hundred-and-fifty students and 15 teachers were killed.

Of 122 health facilities assessed by the World Health Organization, 48 percent were damaged or destroyed.

Ninety percent of households in Gaza still experience power cuts for four to eight hours per day due to Israeli attacks on the power grid and degradation caused by the blockade.

Forty-six percent of Gaza’s once productive agricultural land is out of use due to Israeli damage to farms and Israeli-declared free fire zones. Gaza’s exports of more than 130,000 tons per year of tomatoes, flowers, strawberries and other fruit have fallen to zero.

That “much of Gaza still lies in ruins,” a coalition of international aid agencies stated recently, “is not an accident; it is a matter of policy.”

This policy has been clear all along and it has nothing to do with Israeli “security.”

From 19 June 2008, to 4 November 2008, calm prevailed between Israel and Gaza, as Hamas adhered strictly — as even Israel has acknowledged — to a negotiated ceasefire.

That ceasefire collapsed when Israel launched a surprise attack on Gaza killing six persons, after which Hamas and other resistance factions retaliated.

Even so, Palestinian factions were still willing to renew the ceasefire, but it was Israel that refused, choosing instead to launch a premeditated, systematic attack on the foundations of civilized life in the Gaza Strip.

Operation Cast Lead, as Israel dubbed it, was an attempt to destroy once and for all Palestinian resistance in general, and Hamas in particular, which had won the 2006 election and survived the blockade and numerous US-sponsored attempts to undermine and overthrow it in cooperation with US-backed Palestinian militias.

Like the murderous sanctions on Iraq throughout the 1990s, the blockade of Gaza was calculated to deprive civilians of basic necessities, rights and dignity in the hope that their suffering might force their leadership to surrender or collapse.

In many respects things may seem more dire than a year ago.

Barack Obama, the US president, whom many hoped would change the vicious anti-Palestinian policies of his predecessor, George W. Bush, has instead entrenched them as even the pretense of a serious peace effort has vanished.

According to media reports, the US Army Corps of Engineers is assisting Egypt in building an underground wall on its border with Gaza to block the tunnels which act as a lifeline for the besieged territory (resources and efforts that ought to go into rebuilding still hurricane-devastated New Orleans), and American weapons continue to flow to West Bank militias engaged in a US- and Israeli-sponsored civil war against Hamas and anyone else who might resist Israeli occupation and colonization.

These facts are inescapable and bleak.

However, to focus on them alone would be to miss a much more dynamic situation that suggests Israel’s power and impunity are not as invulnerable as they appear from this snapshot.

A year after Israel’s attack and after more than two-and-a-half years of blockade, the Palestinian people in Gaza have not surrendered. Instead they have offered the world lessons in steadfastness and dignity, even at an appalling, unimaginable cost.

It is true that the European Union leaders who came to occupied Jerusalem last January to publicly embrace Ehud Olmert, the then Israeli prime minister — while white phosphorus seared the flesh of Gazan children and bodies lay under the rubble — still cower before their respective Israel lobbies, as do American and Canadian politicians.

But the shift in public opinion is palpable as Israel’s own actions transform it into a pariah whose driving forces are not the liberal democratic values with which it claims to identify, but ultra-nationalism, racism, religious fanaticism, settler-colonialism and a Jewish supremacist order maintained by frequent massacres.

The universalist cause of justice and liberation for Palestinians is gaining adherents and momentum especially among the young. I witnessed it, for example, among Malaysian students I met at a Palestine solidarity conference held by the Union of NGOs of The Islamic World in Istanbul last May, and again in November as hundreds of student organizers from across the US and Canada converged to plan their participation in the global Palestinian-led campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions modeled on the successful struggle against South African apartheid in the 1980s.

This week, thousands of people from dozens of countries are attempting to reach Gaza to break the siege and march alongside Palestinians who have been organizing inside the territory.

Each of the individuals traveling with the Gaza Freedom March, Viva Palestina, or other delegations represents perhaps hundreds of others who could not make the journey in person, and who are marking the event with demonstrations and commemorations, visits to their elected officials and media campaigns.
Against this flowering of activism, Zionism is struggling to rejuvenate its dwindling base of support. Multi-million dollar programs aimed at recruiting and Zionizing young American Jews are struggling to compete against organizations like the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, which run not on money but principled commitment to human equality.

Increasingly, we see that Israel’s hasbara (propaganda) efforts have no positive message, offer no plausible case for maintaining a status quo of unspeakable repression and violence, and rely instead on racist demonization and dehumanization of Arabs and Muslims to justify Israel’s actions and even its very existence.

Faced with growing global recognition and support for the courageous nonviolent struggle against continued land theft in the West Bank, Israel is escalating its violence and kidnapping of leaders of the movement in Bilin and other villages (Mohammad Othman, Jamal Juma’ and Abdallah Abu Rahmeh are among the leaders of this movement recently arrested).

In acting this way, Israel increasingly resembles a bankrupt failed state, not a regime confident about its legitimacy and longevity.

And despite the failed peace process industry’s efforts to ridicule, suppress and marginalize it, there is a growing debate among Palestinians and even among Israelis about a shared future in Palestine/Israel based on equality and decolonization, rather than ethno-national segregation and forced repartition.
Last, but certainly not least, in the shadow of the Goldstone report, Israeli leaders travel around the world fearing arrest for their crimes.

For now, they can rely on the impunity that high-level international complicity and their inertial power and influence still afford them. But the question for the real international community — made up of people and movements — is whether we want to continue to see the still very incomplete system of international law and justice painstakingly built since the horrors of the Second World War and the Nazi holocaust dismantled and corrupted all for the sake of one rogue state.

What we have done in solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza and the rest of Palestine is not yet enough. But our movement is growing, it cannot be stopped, and we will reach our destination.


Source

PHOTO ESSAY ~~ THOUSANDS GATHER IN NEW YORK IN SUPPORT OF GAZA

Commentary by Chippy Dee, Photos © by Bud Korotzer

On December 27th, the first anniversary of Israel’s brutal attack on Gaza that left 1,400 dead (mostly civilians) thousands wounded, and hundreds of thousands homeless,  about 2,000 people met at Times Sq. in N.Y.C.  They marched through the streets filled with both New Yorkers and tourists in holiday mode, passing crowded Rockefeller Center, and ending at the Israeli Consulate on 42nd St. and 2nd Avenue.  Participants represented all ages and all racial and ethnic groups.  The march was also timed to coincide with marches in solidarity with the people of Gaza that are taking place all over the world.

As the marchers moved through the streets they carried signs and Palestinian flags and chanted, “Israel, Israel, you can’t hide.  We charge you with genocide.”  Or, “Gaza, Gaza, don’t you cry.  Palestine will never die.”  Many wore buttons supporting the Palestinian liberation struggle.  One woman had “Resistance is not Terrorism” printed on the back of her jacket.

A large group of orthodox Jews who oppose the Israeli state marched too.  Seeing them, some Jewish people in the streets cursed them and spit at them.  They appeared to take it in stride.

At one point a call came in from Kevin Ovington, one of the leaders of the Viva Palestina convoy which was in Jordan with 500 people from 17 countries, and 250 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza.  Egypt was not allowing them to pass through to Gaza so a hunger strike had begun.  He said that they were “determined to enter Gaza and break the siege.”  He said, “One day we will all be together in a free Palestine.”  The marchers were asked to call the Egyptian Embassy and urge them to allow the Freedom Marchers and humanitarian aid to pass into Gaza.

The Gaza Freedom March, expected to take place in Gaza on January 1st, is bringing over 1,400 people from all over the world together to demand that Israel end the blockade of Gaza that is stopping building supplies (needed to rebuild the homes, schools, and hospitals destroyed by ‘Operation Cast Lead’), food, medicine, school supplies, and fuel from reaching the people there.  Without fuel they cannot even run their water system.  Gazan babies are being born blue because of the nitrates in their water which is coming from raw sewage.  Health specialists have stated that 95% of the water there is unfit for human consumption.  The Israeli siege of Gaza is an act of GENOCIDE.  Outside the Israeli Consulate in N.Y. the marchers demanded an end to the blockade.  The blockade is a flagrant violation of international law – a fact that is making no impression on Israel.

ISRAELIS ATTEMPTING TO BREAK THE SIEGE OF GAZA

Video from yesterday’s attempt to enter Gaza in solidarity by Israeli peace activists.

Sunday December 27, 2009 demonstration by Anarchists Against the wall near Gaza border against the Israeli siege of Gaza.


Source

ISRAEL’S VERSION OF THE ‘700 CLUB’

Freeze? Did someone say freeze?

Israel lies about EVERYTHING else….. why should we expect the truth about this?


Israel to build 700 new homes in East Jerusalem

Under the new blueprint, the Housing Ministry has invited contractors to bid on the construction of 198 housing units in Pisgat Zeev, 377 homes in Neve Ya’akov and 117 dwellings in Har Homa.

Palestinians consider Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem to be settlements and say such construction impedes peacemaking.

Israel claims all of the city its capital and does not consider those
neighborhoods to be settlements. Israel captured East Jerusalem, home to
sensitive Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites, in the 1967 Six-Day War.


The rest can be read HERE

WHERE WAS GOLDSTONE A YEAR AGO?

Why did it take almost a year for the crimes committed by Israel against the people of Gaza to come to light?

As can be seen in the following video, they have been documented for all to see from day one…. that is, for all that CHOSE TO SEE!

WHY DIDN’T GOLDSTONE SEE IT THEN?
WHY DIDN’T YOU???



GAZA ~~ RELIVING THE HORRORS OF THE WAR DAILY

One year and a day later….. Gaza is still suffering as if the bombing just stopped.
The siege has not allowed the people to rebuild…. the sanctions have not allowed the International volunteers access to participate.

The bombing might have stopped, but life in Gaza remains unchanged one year on…..
Living in rubble, Gaza unchanged one year on

Gaza- The war might as well have ended yesterday for all the rubble, desolation and uncertainty.
With the onset of winter, survivors living in makeshift shelters are still searching for more permanent living quarters.

Finding a way to make a living is not much easier, families say, and there is little support from the government, which says it can do nothing until Israel lifts its blockade.

The Gaza government’s Ministry of Public Works Undersecretary Ibrahim Radwan said all reconstruction efforts came to naught because of the ongoing siege.

Struggling with both issues, the Al-Athamneh family recently moved into one of the mud-brick homes constructed by the UN Relief and Works Agency, when lobbying efforts to bring in cement failed. The family is grateful for the home, but the location of the building kilometers from their demolished community meant uprooting social ties.

The family, owners of a taxi company, are also out of work, since the cars were destroyed in the war, and no replacements have been allowed in.

Eighteen members of the family were also killed during the war, when Israeli fighter jets slammed their Beit Hanoun neighborhood with 13 missiles. Israel later declared the bombing a mistake.

Five of the family homes were destroyed along with three taxi cars, leaving 52 without an income.

Staying put

The Ubeid family decided not to opt for one of the new UNRWA homes, preferring to try and rehabilitate the family farm – the only source of income before the war – and remain where they are in northern Gaza.

The family list two members during the attack, as well as six apartments. The farm was decimated, bulldozed and neglected because of its proximity to Israeli troop activity in the winter months last year. The men and women of the family have been collecting the remains of the buildings and trying to start over.

“We are used to aid organizations coming in and counting up our losses,” Sabha Ubeid said, “but we have lost hope that help will come from any of them.” He said they got used to seeing organizations coming to count the losses but lost hope of receiving any help.

Compensation

Others were lucky, and received aid that helped them repair enough of the damage from the war that they can begin to recover their lives.

Fifty-eight-year-old Hamdan As-Sawafiri stands over the remains of his farm in the Zaytoun area east of Gaza City. He has been unable to farm most of the land, but recently received funds to rebuild the fences around the fields, which he says is a first step to rehabilitating the area for crop planting in the years to come.

Hani Abu Zour had a blacksmith workshop that was damaged in the war, he lost most of the equipment. What was not destroyed stands in disrepair as he waits for parts to be shipped in, but they were barred along with the cement.

His home was also damaged, and he hired workers to hep him rebuild out of salvaged materials. The construction costs ran over the amount given to him by the de facto government after the war, and he says he is now in dept to the workers, though he does have a roof over his family’s head.

Waiting

In the Jabal Al-Rais area of Gaza City, totally destroyed during the war, Sharif Khader and his family still live in the rubble of their home.

Khader has also had a dozen international organizations through his property, but has not received aid from any of them. Before the war he lived off the income generated by the olive grove next to his home. The trees were uprooted and cut during the war, they too are near the border area, and now he relies on his son, a taxi driver, for sustenance.


Source

HUNGER STRIKE FOR GAZA FREEDOM FIGHTERS

Gaza Aid Convoy Members Prepare For Hunger Strike

Saed Bannoura

vp280_0___10000000_0_0_0_0_0_viva_palestina.jpg
Members of the Viva Palestina international aid convoy to Gaza will begin a hunger strike at 11.25am local time tomorrow (27th) in protest at the Egyptian government’s refusal to allow the convoy entry onto its soil.

Diplomatic negotiations are also taking place between the Turkish and Egyptian governments over the convoy’s entry to Egypt. IHH, Turkey’s main humanitarian aid agency, has 63 vehicles travelling on the convoy.

The Syrian government has also provided aid and vehicles, as has the government of Malaysia. More than 400 people from 17 countries are travelling on the 150 vehicle convoy, which is taking medical, humanitarian and educational aid to Gaza.

They left London on 6 December and have travelled nearly 3,000 miles across Europe and the Middle East. However, the convoy and its cargo of aid is now stopped in the Jordanian port town of Aqaba, having been denied entry into Egypt.

British MP, George Galloway, who is travelling with the convoy, said: ‘Israel has kept Gaza under siege for three-and-half years against international law. It has not allowed aid or rebuilding materials in following its attack on Gaza earlier this year. Our convoy is determined to break the siege and take in urgently needed supplies Spirits are high in our camp in Aqaba, and we are going nowhere except to Gaza.’

It was at 11.25am on December 27 2008, that Israel dropped its first bombs on the besieged population of Gaza. Three weeks later, following a sustained air, land and sea assault, more than 1,400 Palestinians had been killed.

he Viva Palestina hunger strikers will consume only liquids until the convoy is allowed entry into Egypt.

Convoy members will also mark the first anniversary of the beginning of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead by holding a march through Aqaba, jointly with the Jordanians. In the evening, more than 1,400 candles will be lit for a vigil.

The convoy has been jointly organised by the charity Viva Palestina and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the UK’s largest organisation campaigning for solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Box BM PSA, London, WC1N 3XX
Press: 07941 203 894

Source

ISRAEL HAS “DONE ENOUGH” FOR THE PEACE EFFORT…..

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday urged Israeli diplomats to show the world that Israel has “done enough” in its efforts to try to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

There! You got it direct from the horse’s pig’s mouth. Lieberman was speaking at the conference of Israeli diplomats that I mentioned yesterday.

A report of this can be read HERE

If you doubt the man’s pig’s sincerity, just look at the following photo taken yesterday…. it shows how much Israel wants peace…..

Israeli soldiers are seen during an army operation in the West Bank city of Nablus. Palestinian officials say Israeli troops have killed three Fatah activists.
Photo: AP

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