BDS GAINING MOMENTUM IN EUROPE

Despite Israel’s denials (and fears) the BDS Movement is gaining momentum in Europe

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LONDON — A branch of Sainsbury’s grocery store removed kosher products from its shelves, it said, to prevent anti-Israel demonstrations. The Tricycle Theater in north London, after hosting a Jewish film festival for eight years, demanded to vet the content of any film made with arts funding from the Israeli government. George Galloway, a member of Parliament known for his vehement criticism of Israel, declared Bradford, England, an “Israel-free zone.”

Mr. Galloway, in comments being investigated by the police, said, “We don’t want any Israeli goods; we don’t want any Israeli services; we don’t want any Israeli academics coming to the university or college; we don’t even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford.”

The war in Gaza and its aftermath have inflamed opinion in Europe and, experts and analysts say, are likely to increase support for the movement to boycott, disinvest from and sanction Israel, known as BDS.

“We entered this war in Gaza with the perception that the Israeli government is not interested in reaching peace with the Palestinians,” said Meir Javedanfar, an Israeli analyst at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, a private university. “Now, after the casualties and the destruction, I’m very worried about the impact this could have on Israel. It could make it very easy for the BDS campaign to isolate Israel and call for more boycotts.”

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Demonstrators in London this month protesting Israel’s operations in the Gaza Strip. Emotions are running high.CreditJustin Tallis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

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Gilead Sher and Einav Yogev, in a paper for the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, warn that Gaza means Israel pays “a much heavier price in public opinion and in erosion of support for its positions in negotiations with the Palestinians.”

Along with reports of “familiar anti-Semitic attacks on Jews,” they said, “the movement to boycott Israel is expanding politically and among the public.”

Daniel Levy of the European Council on Foreign Relations points to the debate over halting arms exports to Israel, which has been given new momentum in Britain and Spain by the asymmetry of the Gaza war.

“You’re beginning to see the translation of public sympathy into something politically meaningful,” he said. He noted two tracks — the governmental one, which distinguishes between Israel and the occupied territories, and the social one of academic, commercial and artistic boycotts.

But for all the new attention around the BDS movement, the economic impact has been small, experts say. The European Union, which has been looked to for leadership on the issue, does not support the idea.

Instead, the Europeans are drawing a legal distinction between Israel within its 1967 boundaries and Israeli towns and settlements that are beyond them in occupied land. Brussels regards all Israelis living beyond the 1967 lines, including those in East Jerusalem, as settlers living in illegal communities whose status can be regulated only through a negotiated peace agreement with the Palestinians.

In matters such as scientific cooperation, funding for research, import duties and labeling requirements, Brussels has sought a strong relationship with pre-1967 Israel, while demanding a different status for institutions and products from beyond the Green Line, the armistice lines that ended the 1967 fighting but did not fix borders or create a Palestinian state.

Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, said before the Gaza conflict that “there is no boycott” of Israel by the European Union, citing trade and scientific cooperation. “The European Union defends the right of existence of Israel with all its means,” he said. “The view that the Europeans are against Israel, I repeat it, is wrong.”

Some members of the 28-nation European Union are closer to Israel than others, but the bloc is united on Israel within its 1967 boundaries.

“Our relationship with Israel is close and one of the best we have in the region, but only with Israel in its 1967 lines unless there is a peace agreement,” said a senior European Union official who spoke on the condition of anonymity in keeping with diplomatic protocol. “We are clear, however, that what came under Israeli control in 1967 is not a part of Israel, so the settlements are illegal under international law and not helpful in the peace process.”

To that end, the European Union has demanded that all products produced by Israelis beyond the 1967 lines be labeled differently, and they are excluded from the duty-free trade agreement the bloc has with Israel proper. Goods from settlements are imported, but under different labels and tariffs. “There is no question of a boycott,” the European official said.

In an agreement last December on scientific exchanges and funding, known as Horizon 2020, Brussels insisted, despite fierce opposition from the Israeli government, on keeping Israeli institutions in the West Bank, like Ariel University, out of the deal. Since European funding is so important to Israeli academic institutions, the Israeli government gave in, attaching a legally meaningless appendix opposing the distinctions.

While some Israeli companies label goods produced in the West Bank as Israeli, the Europeans have tried to crack down, insisting that permits have a physical address attached and not simply an Israeli post office box. Goods can be labeled “West Bank” or as coming from a particular place, but cannot say “Made in Israel.”

The European Union has gone considerably further than the United States, declaring that Israeli settlements over the Green Line are “illegal” under international law; the United States simply calls them “illegitimate” and “obstacles to peace.”

Israel says its settlement activity is consistent with international law, although it accepts that some settlements are built illegally on privately owned Palestinian land and says that all will be resolved as part of a final deal with the Palestinians.

The United States also has no regulations requiring separate labeling of products from Israeli-occupied land.

The recent fuss over SodaStream and one of its spokeswomen, the actress Scarlett Johansson, was indicative of the passions raised. Oxfam insisted she quit SodaStream, which has a factory in the large West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, or quit her work with Oxfam; Ms. Johansson chose to quit Oxfam. SodaStream defended itself by citing the number of jobs it was providing for Palestinians, who were being paid the same wages as Israeli workers.

The debate was indicative of shifting attitudes. During the period around the Oslo Accords, in the early 1990s, when peace seemed close and economic cooperation between Israel and the new, interim Palestinian Authority was considered an important part of a future relationship built on mutual dependency and confidence, factories in occupied territory were praised.

With the failure of Oslo to produce a Palestinian state, the tone has changed, and companies once seen by many as in the forefront of economic cooperation are now being seen by some as colonial occupiers undermining a future Palestinian state.

But the interconnection of Israel with the settlements is difficult to untie — every major Israeli bank has a branch in the settlements.

Some countries, like Britain, have gone further. Britain issued voluntary labeling guidelines in December 2009 “to enable consumers to make a more fully informed decision concerning the products they buy,” according to the UK Trade and Investment agency, because “we understand the concerns of people who do not wish to purchase goods exported from Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

More troubling to Israel, in December the agency warned companies and citizens to be “aware of the potential reputational implications” of investments in settlement areas. “We do not encourage or offer support to such activities,” it said.

But even these concerns should be distinguished from the organized BDS campaign against the state of Israel itself. Begun in 2005, the campaign is supposed to last, the Palestinian BDS National Committee says, until Israel “complies with international law and Palestinian rights.”

Its three goals are “the end of Israeli occupation and colonization of Arab land and dismantling the Wall,” “full equality” for “Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel,” and respect for the right of return of Palestinian refugees. Israelis see the first two as compatible with two states, but the third as the end of the Jewish state.

Then there is the associated effort at an academic and cultural boycott of Israel, which has attracted well-known figures like Stephen Hawking and Sinead O’Connor. Others defend artistic freedom or the unifying nature of culture, or believe, as the writer Ian McEwan said, “If I only went to countries I approve of, I probably would never get out of bed.”

IN PHOTOS ~~ THE LITTLE DOLLS OF GAZA’S DEAD CHILDREN

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Although they have only finished about 1/3 of our representations of the children murdered in Gaza the Granny Peace Brigade brought them to a demonstration organized by Jews Say No at the subway station on W. 96th St. and Broadway yesterday.  Jews Say No does this regularly in an effort to engage with the community and discuss what is happening in Israel/Palestine.  The reaction to the Gaza children representations was very strong.  Many people gave the Grannies a thumbs-up or came over to speak saying they were glad to see them there.  Several others were very passionate in their condemnation, screaming, calling the Grannies ignorant and anti-semites, and accusing them of pandering to people’s feelings.  For the most part the demonstrators didn’t respond to the attacks.  When there is one representation for each murdered child they will be taken to public places around the city and displayed.

As a sidenote, Palestinian children throughout Israel and the West Bank have been sending their ‘Eid Gifts’ to help the ‘little people’ still suffering in Gaza’s hospitals.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer … Commentary by Chippy Dee

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FERGUSON AND GAZA … THE CONNECTION ~~ IN PHOTOS

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Late Wednesday afternoon many thousands of people marched across the Brooklyn Bridge in a strong show of solidarity with Gaza and with Ferguson, Missouri where the police appear to be at war with the residents of that city.  The people of Gaza have reached out to the people of Ferguson pointing out that they both may be afflicted by teargas manufactured by the same American company.  At about 6:30 the marchers began across the bridge starting at the Brooklyn side.  There was a sea of Palestinian flags for as far as the eye could see and shouts of “Free, Free Palestine”.  The marchers were of every age, race, and ethnicity and many carried signs declaring their solidarity with Palestine and saying that the U.S. government did not speak for them in supporting what Israel was doing by sending money and arms to Israel.  Their chant was, “Not another nickle, not another dime.  No more money for Israel’s crimes”.  At one point people noticed that a gigantic banner with the colors of the Palestinian flag had been attached and was flying off the Manhattan Bridge (a marvelous act of civil disobedience), located a short distance from the Brooklyn Bridge.  In the red section it said GAZA  In Our Hearts and the other colors carried the words, BOYCOTT DIVEST SANCTIONS.  Marchers saw the banner, clearly enjoying it and pointing it out to others which drew the attention of the police.  They notified other cops and we could soon see red lights flashing on the Manhattan Bridge while the beautiful banner was being removed.  But it was there for about 20 minutes, enough time to lift the spirits of the marchers. 

 

By the time everyone finished walking across the bridge night had fallen.  It was dark. Everyone walked to Police Plaza in front of the central police headquarters where people spoke in small groups or listened to speakers.  We met a young woman from France, a tourist, who was very excited at having come upon the march and joined it.  She said they had bigger marches for Palestine in Paris but she was here now and very pleased that she was able to join in.   People were generally excited by the number of people who had marched, those numbers keep growing.  There was a militancy in the crowd  along with a disgust that Israel was once again committing genocide with impunity.  But mixed in with that there was a hint of, as was well said by Fanny Lou Hamer, a great hero of the civil rights movement, we’re ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired’.  We must put all our energy into the movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions and win this fight.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer … Commentary by Chippy Dee

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LAST NITE WHILE WORKING ON THE BKLYN BRIDGE MARCH FOTOS  I HEARD LOUD VOICES & CHANTING  “HANDS UP, DON’T SHOOT” COMING FRM THE STREET 10 FLOORS BELOW.

THE CHANTS CAME FROM A MASS OF PEOPLE W/ HANDS UP & DEMONSTRATING THRU LOWER EAST SIDE MANHATTAN STREETS (IT APPEARS THERE WAS A LARGE MEETING IN SUPPORT OF FERGUSON ELSE WHERE,  IN ADDITION TO THE GAZA BKLYN BRIDGE  MARCH).

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#OperationStopTheBoat ~~UPDATE

LATEST UPDATE

zion triumphs as the boat is unloaded…. they are gloating in their media.

Breaking News: #BlocktheBoat #EpicFail as ZIM Unloads

Longshoremen pulled a fast on anti-Israel picketers and are unloading the Zim ship that was blocked from unloading last week.
Report HERE
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A cargo ship left the Port of Oakland for Los Angeles on Tuesday, days after activists protesting Israel’s military actions in Gaza began a waterfront demonstration that blocked the vessel’s unloading.

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Ship Targeted by Protesters Leaves Oakland for L.A.

The protesters, organizing under the motto “Block the Boat,” first converged at the International Container Terminal on Saturday, a day before the Piraeus arrived at the port.
Henry K. Lee 
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Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters march towards the Port of Oakland to attempt a blockade of the Israeli cargo ship Zim, which was scheduled to dock at the port in Oakland, Calif. on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014.
Paul Chinn, The Chronicle

A cargo ship left the Port of Oakland for Los Angeles on Tuesday, days after activists protesting Israel’s military actions in Gaza began a waterfront demonstration that blocked the vessel’s unloading.

Online ship tracking databases showed the Piraeus leaving the port about 3 p.m., assisted by a pair of tugboats. The destination was listed as Los Angeles.

The ship began maneuvering away from the port hours after Israel’s consul general to the Pacific Northwest in San Francisco said it would “eventually leave” if longshore workers continued to refuse to unload it.

The Piraeus, which is managed by Israel’s largest shipping firm, doesn’t travel to Israel and instead navigates between the United States, the Caribbean and Asia, said Consul General Andy David.

“They chose a symbol, perhaps, and they’re trying to portray it as hurting the Israeli government, but they’re really causing damage to the people who live here, and to me this is exactly the definition of political terrorism,” David said of pro-Palestinian protesters who demonstrated outside the Port of Oakland. “They’re trying to achieve a goal, but they don’t care about the innocent people hurt along the way.”

The protesters, organizing under the motto “Block the Boat,” first converged at the International Container Terminal on Saturday, a day before the Piraeus arrived at the port.

Longshore workers responsible for unloading the vessel refused to do so, not because they are taking sides in the fight between Israel and Hamas, but because they would not work “under armed police escort – not with our experience with the police in this community,” said Melvin MacKay, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10.

Only when officers “dispersed” at 9 p.m. Monday did longshore workers agree to enter the container terminal, said union spokeswoman Jennifer Sargent. Those who declined to work on the ship were released, she said.

Sargent said the demonstrators were outnumbered 5-1 by Oakland police and Alameda County sheriff’s deputies.

Union officials said longshore workers have been concerned about port safety during demonstrations since several people protesting the Iraq war were injured in a 2003 port rally. Oakland police fired nonlethal projectiles, including wood bullets and bean bags, without provocation and without allowing protesters a chance to disperse.

The protests over the Piraeus were peaceful.

The Piraeus is managed by Israel’s largest shipping firm, Zim Integrated Shipping Services. David said Zim is 32 percent owned by Israeli shareholders, and that the rest is owned by various international interests, including banks and other shipping companies.

San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Kurtis Alexander contributed to this report.

Henry K. Lee is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer

Source

UPDATES ON BLOCKING THE BOAT FOR GAZA

THE EFFORTS ARE WORKING!

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See last night’s post, then see updates on Facebook below …

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UPDATES HERE
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SUPPORT ACTIONS IN NEW YORK YESTERDAY
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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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BLOCK THE BOAT AND BOYCOTT ISRAEL!

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First a video update on BDS

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A new app called Buycott lets hundreds of thousands of users boycott products deemed to support Israel, something that is gaining popularity in light of the attack on Gaza.

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Why Activists Are Blocking an Israeli Ship From Docking on the West Coast

A coordinated “Block the Boat” solidarity action will leave Israel looking elsewhere to unload its goods.

Amidst the terror Israel has unleashed on Gaza, activists on the West Coast have organized a Palestinian solidarity action that is not only politically symbolic, but economically hits Israel where it hurts.

Starting Saturday, activists in Oakland, Los Angeles and Seattle plan to block an Israeli ship from unloading goods at their city’s ports as part of a larger boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. These “Block the Boat” actions come as a response to the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions’ call for supporters to “educate and build awareness among the labor movements of the U.S., and urge them to condemn the Israeli aggression and to boycott Israel.”

On Saturday, organizers in Oakland will march to the port and form a picket line in front of its gates early in the morning before the port workers, who are members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, are scheduled to begin their shift. Organizers are hoping to stop workers from unloading a ship owned by Zim Integrated Shipping Services, which is the biggest cargo shipping company in Israel and has ties to the Israeli government and military via stock ownership.

More than 1,000 protesters are expected at the Oakland action, said Reem Assil of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, which is one of more than 70 groups endorsing the event.

“Symbolically for Oakland we can say, not in our name,” Assil said. “We’re not going to be complicit and an accomplice to the ongoing genocide and massacres going on.”

Oakland organizers have coordinated with supporters in Long Beach, CA, and the ports of Tacoma and Seattle in Washington in hopes that Zim won’t reroute to another port on the West Coast like it did four years ago. In 2010, in response to Israel’s attack on a flotilla bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza, Oakland activists and port workers made history by being the first to ever block an Israeli ship in the United States. That ship redocked in Los Angeles a day after, and unloaded there.

“This time, we want to make sure there’s a disruption to Israel commerce all over the West Coast,” Assil said, adding that this would cause a sustained economic burden on the company.

The Oakland organizers’ biggest coordination efforts, however, have been with the labor movement. In fact, the event, which was originally scheduled for August 2, was postponed in order to do more outreach to the ILWU workers.

“We don’t want workers to be alienated, we want workers to be part of the fight,” Assil said. “And so we have spent the last few weeks really honoring that commitment and building with the workers themselves.”

Assil said Block the Boat organizers and active members of the ILWU have been flyering and talking to members about the Saturday action in terms of “worker power”—especially because they are under negotiation for a new contract.

But these negotiations have made the action this year more complicated than in the past. For one, ILWU is unable to take an official stand on the action. Also, during negotiations there is no arbitrator who can evaluate the port during the Block the Boat action and deem working conditions unsafe; this happened in 2010, leaving workers with no option of crossing the picket line.

This, along with a loss of double-time pay for workers, presents difficulties for a successful action. An ILWU port worker named Anthony, who is spreading the word about Block the Boat, said he responds to co-workers’ financial concerns by talking about the bigger picture.

Anthony said, “I ask them, ‘Are you okay with innocent people being killed?’’’

 

Source

HOW YOU CAN HELP THE PEOPLE OF GAZA

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 PLEASE HELP

As important as the food itself is the voice of hope — our voice! — telling our sisters and brothers in Gaza that we will not abandon them, and they are not alone. Especially now.
 
And spread the word to your friends.
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Please go to Indiegogo and donate what you can for food aid to Gaza – today.

Online contributions HERE

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Details of campaign in the following Jerusalem Post report ...
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Founder of Israeli Palestinian

think tank campaigns to buy

surplus Israeli potatoes for Gazans

By SHARON UDASIN

Online campaign aims to raise $730,000 needed to purchase

5,000-ton surplus of potatoes from Israel Vegetable Growers Association.

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The founder of an Israeli Palestinian think tank who played an instrumental role in

the release of captive soldier Gilad Schalit is working on a new cross-border effort

amid conflict – the transfer of 5,000 tons of Israeli potatoes to civilians in Gaza.

After hearing the idea from Israeli agricultural expert Hillel Adiri, activist

Gershon Baskin, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post, launched an online

Indiegogo campaign aiming to raise the $730,000 necessary to purchase a

5,000-ton surplus of potatoes from the Israel Vegetable Growers Association,

he said. Due to union bylaws guaranteeing farmers a fair price for their labor,

the association cannot simply donate the potatoes.

“They can’t market these potatoes [in Israel] because then the market would

be flooded and the prices would go down,” Baskin told the Post on Wednesday,

explaining that such a scenario would not bode well for the farmers.

While nearly every year such surpluses occur, Baskin agreed that the

regulations of the associations are important in protecting the farmers’ interests.

“We don’t want our farmers to go bankrupt,” he said.

“We have pride in Israeli agriculture.”

Meanwhile, Adiri told the Post that European buyers were not interested in

purchasing more potatoes at the moment because there was also overproduction

there due to good summer growing conditions. Adiri, a senior technical

marketing adviser for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization,

has served a number of agricultural advisory roles both globally and at home –

including a past position as director-general of the Agriculture Ministry.

In light of this situation, Baskin is determined to raise the funds necessary to

buy the surplus potatoes and ship them to Gaza, calculating that $730,000 can

cover the purchase and shipping of 5,000 tons of potatoes.

As of Wednesday evening the “Emergency Food Aid for Gaza” campaign had

attracted a total of $49,236 worth of donations on Indiegogo.

In addition, Baskin said he had received another $10,000 in direct bank transfers.

“There’s more money coming in; it’s coming in every hour,” Baskin said, noting

that the money has come from about 600 donors, predominantly from the US

and Israel.

Meir Yifrach, head of the Israel Vegetable Growers Association, told the Post

that the association’s farmers were more than willing to sell the potatoes for

transport to Gaza for between NIS 0.40-0.50 per kilogram.

At the moment these potatoes are in refrigeration and can stay there until

September, at which point they could technically be sold to the Israeli market

for about NIS 1.60-1.70 per kilo, Yifrach explained. However, due to the

exorbitant electricity costs of cooling these potatoes, it is preferable to sell

them now for civilian use in Gaza and to sell fresh ones to the Israeli market

come September, he said.

The going price for potatoes today in Gaza is between four and six times the

price that Baskin would pay the association, according to his campaign.

Baskin has pledged that all contributions would go directly toward distributing

the potatoes to the neediest members of Gaza society, saying he and his team

members would be working with a “reputable international charitable organization”

that operates in the territory.

Potatoes are one of the main food sources in Gaza and are widely grown by

local farmers, Adiri said. But during the conflict, most of the crops spoiled.

“This will help the impoverished people in Gaza,” he said.

Along these lines, Adiri is also working with Israeli strawberry growers to

bring seedlings to Gaza. Strawberry farmers there buy mother plants from

Israel and plant them at the end of June or July in order to have them ready

to grow in greenhouses in September. Due to the conflict, however, the

irrigation systems failed to work and Gaza’s strawberry seedlings dried out.

“We have an alternative way to help them,” Adiri said. “They can get in

Israel, I hope, plants from Israeli nurseries ready for planting in September.”

As far as the potato transfer is concerned, donors must commit to their

contributions by August 16. The intention remains, however, to purchase

as much as the money allows, even if the total does not reach $730,000.

Baskin stressed that all conveyance of the potatoes to the citizens would

occur by means of international organizations and would be safely supervised

by a coalition of groups.

“You’re not going to use potatoes to make rockets,” he said.

IN PHOTOS ~~ REMEMBERING THOSE MURDERED IN GAZA

 

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A SILENT VIGIL IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE 

PALESTINIAN PEOPLE OF GAZA   

WHY ARE WE GATHERING:

Shamefully, “over 50 Israeli-associated New York organizations” will be gathering then at the JCC on the UWS of Manhattan to “commemorate Israeli soldiers and civilians who lost their lives during ‘Operation Protective Edge,”‘ the bombing campaign of Gaza, without one mention of Palestinian lives lost. (see photo at bottom)

We are appalled at this blatant valuing of Jewish and Jewish Israeli lives over the nearly 2,000 Palestinians, including hundreds of children, who have been massacred by the Israeli army.  To express our opposition to a perverse ethic that values only Jewish lives and ignores Israeli war crimes, the siege of Gaza, and an ongoing brutal occupation, please join us in a silent vigil across from the JCC.  

WHAT WE WANT TO DO: 

 

We want to create a silent presence that says loudly and clearly, with our signs and banners and names of Palestinian dead, that many Jews and others on New York’s upper west side stand in solidarity with our Palestinian sisters and brothers and staunchly oppose a politics of ‘Israel right or wrong.’ 

co-sponsored by: Jewish Voice for Peace-NYC, Jewish Voice for Peace–Westchester,  Jews Say No!, Women in Black-NY 

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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The zionists mourn their own …. why shouldn’t we all mourn the almost 2,000 murdered Gazans?

NYC Jeweler’s Tribute to Slain IDF Soldiers

Boutique’s front window lists Israeli soldiers killed in recent Gaza operation

#StayingHumanWithGaza ~~ IN PHOTOS

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150,000 marched in London yesterday for Gaza. Thousands marched in New York as well … below are photos from that. Video follows

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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Chris Hedges was a main speaker at the rally that followed the march

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THE OAKLAND PALESTINE SOLIDARITY MURAL

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Presented by Art Forces, the Estria Foundation and NorCal Friends of Sabeel, the Oakland Palestine Solidarity Mural is a monumental work of public art located in Uptown Oakland on 26th Street between Telegraph and Broadway. The mural pays homage to the history of Bay Area public art and expresses solidarity with Palestinians as bombs continue to fall on Gaza.

The Oakland Palestine Solidarity Mural adopts the image of the tree as a central motif and global visual signifier to link seemingly disparate issues and distant locations. Spanning 157 feet and reaching 22 feet high, the mural is comprised of nine separate panels, where each artist or team of artists has painted his or her own interpretation of a tree to address social and political issues.

These issues include the shared histories of colonization, environmental exploitation, internal exile of indigenous peoples, resilience and resistance to these injustices. The mural dedication will be held on August 10, 2014 from 1-4 pm and is free and open to the public. The dedication will include poetry, music, traditional Palestinian dance, local stiltwalkers from LocoBloco and an art exhibit From Gaza to Oakland.

This exhibition includes artwork from Gaza artists and photo journalists responding to the recent assault; historical photos of the expulsion of Palestinians from what is now called Israel; print portfolios from Middle East Children’s Alliance and work by muralists and friends of Oakland Palestine Solidarity Mural.

This exhibition will open in conjunction with the mural unveiling on August 10th and will run through September 30, 2014.

The twelve participating artists come from a wide array of backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures. They include Dina Matar, who is participating virtually (Gaza); IROT (Native American); VYAL (Chicano-Native American); Deadeyes (African American); Erin Yoshi (Japanese American); Susan Greene (Jewish American); Emory Douglas (African American); Nidal El Khairy (Palestinian); Chris Gazaleh (Palestinian American); SPIE (Asian American); Fred Alvarado (Latino American); Miguel Bounce Perez (Chicano-Pacific Islander American).

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AMERICAS FIRST VICTIM OF THE WAR IN GAZA

ACADEMIC FREEDOM?
FREEDOM OF SPEECH??

AMERICA’S DREAM IS SLOWLY BECOMING A NIGHTMARE!

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Steven Salaita was fired from his position as associate professor in the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) apparently over views critical of Israel, especially its current massacre in Gaza.

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University of Illinois fires professor Steven Salaita after Gaza massacre tweets

A mock-up of Israel’s apartheid wall erected by Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (Benjamin Stone/Flickr)

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Steven Salaita was fired from his position as associate professor in the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) apparently over views critical of Israel, especially its current massacre in Gaza.

Meanwhile, Cary Nelson, former president of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), who has publicly supported the university’s decision to remove Salaita, gave frank comments to The Electronic Intifada revealing the extent of his own pro-Israel views.

Nelson acknowledged that he had been monitoring Salaita’s social media use for months.

This indicates Salaita may be the victim of a retaliation campaign. Salaita is the author ofIsrael’s Dead Soul and The Uncultured Wars, Arabs, Muslims and the Poverty of Liberal Thought, as well as a contributor to a number of publications including Salon and The Electronic Intifada.

He was a prominent campaigner for the American Studies Association’s decision to boycott Israeli academic institutions last December.

In May, Salaita wrote a post for The Electronic Intifada called “How to practice BDS in academe.”

Fired not “revoked”

This morning, Inside Higher Ed reported that Salaita had merely had a job offer “revoked.”

Salaita was “recently informed by Chancellor Phyllis Wise that the appointment would not go to the university’s board, and that he did not have a job to come to in Illinois, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation,” Inside Higher Ed said.

“The sources familiar with the university’s decision say that concern grew over the tone of [Salaita’s] comments on Twitter about Israel’s policies in Gaza,” it added.

Neither the university nor Salaita have commented on the matter. Salaita did not respond to requests for comment.

But a source with close knowledge of the situation, who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly, disputed Inside Higher Ed’s version. The source told The Electronic Intifada that Salaita had actually been “fired.”

The source said they had seen documentation indicating that Salaita’s appointment had been through all the ordinary procedures for hiring faculty, up to and including the scheduling of new faculty orientation.

Salaita had already resigned from his position as associate professor of English at Virginia Tech, according to Inside Higher Ed. It would not make sense for Salaita to resign from a secure position without already having been fully and properly hired to a new one.

Even though Inside Higher Ed’s sources say the opposite, the publication’s own analysis supports The Electronic Intifada’s reporting that Salaita has actually been fired.

“As recently as two weeks ago, the university confirmed to reporters that he [Salaita] was coming,” Inside Higher Ed reported. “The university also declined to answer questions about how rare it is for such appointments to fall through at this stage.”

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Salaita’s exact status at the university is likely to be important to the outcome of his case.

If a job offer was merely “revoked,” as Inside Higher Ed’s sources claim, then Salaita would likely have far fewer protections than if he had already been hired, and then fired.

Opponents of Palestinian rights are already seizing on this distinction to spin and legitimize the decision to remove Salaita for his opinions expressed in public forums.

According to Inside Higher Ed, AAUP past president Cary Nelson, who is also an English professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said that “it was legitimate – at the point of hiring – to consider issues of civility and collegiality. In this case, [Nelson] said, that would lead him to oppose Salaita’s appointment.”

Nelson’s views are important because his former role at AAUP means he is often cited as an authority on academic freedom issues, though his own anti-Palestinian biases are rarely examined.

In a telephone interview with The Electronic Intifada from his Urbana-Champaign home, Nelson went even further, claiming that Salaita’s supposed social media transgressions “are more serious than collegiality and civility.”

Nelson accused Salaita of “incitement to violence” for retweeting a tweet by another Twitter user, stating: “Jeffrey goldberg’s story should have ended at the pointy end of a shiv.”

Goldberg, a former Israeli prison guard who participated in and helped cover up the torture and abuse of Palestinian prisoners, and now a writer for The Atlantic, is one of the most prominent defenders of Israel’s bombardment that has killed more than one in every one thousand Palestinians in Gaza over the last month.

While Salaita is known for an acerbic sense of humor – a likely reason he would have retweeted the tweet – it is an oft-stated norm of Twitter that “a retweet does not equal an endorsement.”

When pressed, Nelson could provide no example of any tweet written by Salaita that “incited violence.”

Nelson acknowledged, however, that he has been closely monitoring Salaita’s Twitter account for months. “There are scores of tweets. I have screen captures,” he said. “The total effect seems to me to cross a line.”

Salaita has “always tweeted in a very volatile and aggressive way,” Nelson asserted, but “recently he’s begun to be much more aggressive.”

Another example Nelson gave was an 8 July tweet by Salaita, at the beginning of Israel’s current massacre in Gaza, stating, “If you’re defending #Israel right now you’re an awful human being.”

Nelson claimed that this might mean that students in one of Salaita’s classes who “defended Israel” could face a hostile environment.

But Nelson acknowledged that he knew of no complaints about Salaita’s teaching and that Salaita was not even scheduled to teach classes on Palestine and the Israelis.

Asked if he therefore supported a “pre-emptive firing” based on a Tweet, Nelson again insisted that Salaita had not been “fired,” but merely not hired. Nelson claimed that if Salaita had already been hired, he would defend him.

When asked if he would oppose the hiring of a person who said that “someone who defends Hamas firing rockets towards Tel Aviv is an awful person,” Nelson answered: “No.”

There could be no clearer admission that Nelson’s opposition to Salaita is based on the content of his views, specifically criticism of Israel.

Resistance to Israel is “criminal”

This became clearer when Nelson expanded on his views on Palestine and the Israelis.

Nelson defended Israel’s attack on Gaza as part of its “right to self-defense,” although he stressed that many aspects of the attack were “unethical” and “immoral” and that pictures of children killed by Israel were “horrific.”

When asked whether he would condemn Israel’s bombing of the Islamic University of Gaza, Nelson used cautious language: “It’s very difficult for someone from a distance to judge particular artillery strikes. My personal view is that Israel should have been more careful. From what I know, there are military actions as part of the Gaza incursion that seem regrettable to me and should not have taken place.”

While asserting Israel’s right to bomb Gaza, Nelson denied that Palestinians have any right to armed resistance to the onslaught.

“I don’t know where that right would come from,” he said. “I don’t view Gaza under as under occupation so I don’t see a right to resistance.”

When asked if the International Committee of the Red Cross and other international bodies were incorrect in their view that Israel’s siege of Gaza constitutes “collective punishment” and is therefore a war crime, Nelson insisted he was unable to make legal judgments.

Nelson added that he did not see that the situation in the occupied West Bank “warrants resistance,” either. “I don’t think there’s a right to violent resistance on the West Bank.”

Asked if he thought “all Palestinian military resistance is criminal,” Nelson answered: “Yes. I think that is my view.”

When asked if any of Israel’s actions could be labeled “criminal,” Nelson repeated that many were “immoral” and “unethical,” but that he was not qualified to give legal opinions about Israel’s actions.

Nelson, an outspoken campaigner against the nonviolent, Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS), said that Palestinians should resort to “civil disobedience” in the West Bank such as “blocking roads.”

Israel has shot dead 17 Palestinians just in the last month in the occupied West Bank.

BDS is “political violence”

Nelson reaffirmed his strong opposition to the BDS movement because some of its prominent advocates – he named Omar Barghouti and philosopher Judith Butler – dispute Israel’s “right to exist as a Jewish state.”

“I consider that to be a form of political violence,” Nelson said.

Asked if he called himself a “Zionist,” Nelson answered: “Yes.”

If there were doubts about Nelson’s clear bias against Palestinians and their pursuit of their rights by any means (except of course the most invisible and ineffective), his frank comments to The Electronic Intifada put them to rest.

On 21 July, Salaita was attacked for his Twitter use in the right-wing, anti-Palestinian website The Daily Caller.

It seems clear that with Nelson now publicly leading the charge, Salaita is the latest victim of a nationwide campaign to intimidate into silence anyone on campus who criticizes Israel or supports effective campaigns to secure Palestinian rights.

Call for action

Brooklyn College political science professor Corey Robin has also pointed out that in the past, Nelson himself has criticized how “claims about collegiality are being used to stifle campus debate, to punish faculty, and to silence the free exchange of opinion by the imposition of corporate-style conformity.”

Nelson has also previously supported academic boycotts, though never for Palestinian rights.

But now, Robin says, Nelson’s about-face is “a symptom of the effects of Zionism on academic freedom, how pro-Israel forces have consistently attempted to shut down debate on this issue.”

Robin urges people to write to UIUC Chancellor Phyllis Wise asking her to reverse her decision.

“As always, be polite, but be firm,” Robin writes. “Don’t assume this is a done deal; in my experience, it often is not.”

Supporters have also launched an online petition, which as of this writing, had already gathered more than 1,500 signatures.

THE PALESTINIAN CONNECTION TO HIROSHIMA

The following is a post from the Archives written a year ago …
Palestinian in Hiroshima

By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

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I and Oliver Stone both spoke at Hiroshima on the anniversary of the first nuclear bombing in human history and we are slated to speak in two days at Nagasaki on the anniversary of the second nuclear attack.  My speech is below in English (I will send the Japanese version later).  These remain the most starkest of acts of state terror in Human history.  I had seen images and video before that made me shudder but being in the City is different.  At 8:15 AM on a sunny hot day we laid down next to the dome for three minutes with people from all backgrounds and I stared at the sky and tried to imagine through the tears the terror that came and exploded 600 meters directly above us in the sky 68 years ago.   But how can one imagine the horror of dropping a nuclear weapon on a population incinerating and skeletonizing tens of thousands and leaving tens of thousands with burned body skin hanging in rags and worse. Harder to imagine yet is the darkness of the human hearts and minds that took the decisions to do that to fellow human beings.
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Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick explained eloquently about the real reasons for dropping the bombs instead of the mythology that is told in school books in America.  But does that really make any difference on the horror of what Truman and his generals visited on humanity? Those of us in the medical field understand clinically what radiation poisoning does to the human body but politicians also know that and Truman had detailed reports from the earlier experiments.  I met so many hibakushas (survivors of the nuclear blast) and their children and grandchildren.  Many told us of the dramatic death of children by leukemia and other cancers and of the congenital deformities.  It was more than we could take even as visitors so I can only begin to imagine the actual feelings of people here.
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Clearly the monuments to victims were slanted strongly away from nationalism and war; something that reminded us that it is possible for victims to learn that war and nationalism are not the answer.  I wished more people can learn that lesson and change the misleading pro-war pro-Zionist message of many holocaust museums to build instead a pro-peace structure.
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On the positive side, we were thrilled to see so many children and youth taking the banner of peace.  Middles school children collected signatures to ban nuclear weapons around the world. Hundreds of us marched to the electric company in town to ask that they stop using nuclear power (especially poignant after the disastrous Fukushima plant meltdown).   Our colorful Palestinian Kuffiyas were welcomed among the colorful banners in our march. We felt love and peace. We saw alternating images of hope and pain and of beautiful people who face-up to right-wing politicians and the few racists who even deny what Japanese soldiers did in China and Korea. Like a roller-coaster, a tour of Japan brings mixed emotions.
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As a visiting Palestinian I am struck most of all by the neatness and orderliness of the cities.  Everything runs perfectly.  Trains are accurate to the minute.  Millions ride on these trains both within cities and between cities.  Streets are clean and no walls or checkpoints stop us from freely moving around.  It is all orderly and peaceful.  Crossing streets on cues, trash in its receptacles, lines are straight, and cars and homes are clean and orderly.  Just about everyone speaks in low tones and people are courteous to each other.
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Japan like most countries is a society burdened by Western style capitalism.  Here you see also things like McDonalds, Starbucks, prostitution, and corrupt politicians.   Though more homogeneous than other countries, Japan is a very large country of 120 million people and even in a short visit one sees remarkable diversity of ideas and concepts.  In Nagoya, we visited an educational table at the main square that tried to challenge the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty (a US Dominated agreement favorable to corporations at the expense of people). The organizer of this table belonged to one of the few native communities of Japan, a great man by the name of Esaman.  People stopped by bringing food and sharing stories.  In the same square a lone young musician played his guitar asking for donations to build a school in a remote area of Pakistan.
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In Nagoya, I attended a discussion of writings by Kobayashi Takiji.  The audience were some 30 individuals of diverse background who put their shoes at the entrance of the lecture hall and wore red slippers as they listened intently to a retired bookstore seller discuss and pass around the books by Takiji.  Takiji was born in 1903 and showed a talent for writing at an early age. His writings did not please authorities and he was fired from his job and eventually executed by the government at age 30 y.o. His most famous short novel is called  Kanikōsen and it is a story about workers at a boat fishing for crabs.  The story takes you into an incredible world of suffering of the workers, humanity to fellow workers, and cruelty of their boss.  There seemed to be a revival of the interest in this genre of literature after the last Japanese economic bubble burst.
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Many Japanese yearn for a more caring society and support global solidarity, including with Palestine. This was shown vividly in our visit to Nagoya and Hiroshima.   I reflect on the people I met and saw in get-together, on the streets, in trains, and in restaurants.  Here I would see people who reminded me of people I met in America, in Palestine and elsewhere.  I thought someone should do a documentary on this carrying a camera around different countries to show that there are individuals in each country virtually twins with those living in other countries.  Perhaps this film can bring us all closer to one another.  In the meantime, I cannot wait for our upcoming visit to Nagasaki, Osaka, Tokyo, and Kyoto. And I cannot wait to go back to Palestine where hope against all odds still survives.  Stay tuned.
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Speech by Professor Qumsiyeh in Hiroshima on the 68th anniversary of the First Atomic Bomb
Kumbunwa and thank you for this invitation.  It is a special honor for me to visit Japan.  Here in Hiroshima we are most reminded of the horrors of war.  Here we have a chance to reflect on the fact that there is no “good war”.  We are reminded that nations do not win or lose wars.  Wars cause the suffering of common people and makes rich people richer.   Money wins wars, people lose wars. That is why President Eisenhauer warned about the power of the military-industrial complex.  It is a power we were reminded of by Oliver Stone earlier today. It is this complex that was enriched as US taxpayers were left with 3 trillion dollars more in debt due to the criminal war on Iraq.    And it was the same Truman that lied publicly about why he created the catastrophes of Hiroshima and Nagazaki and also the catastrophe (Nakba) of Palestine.
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War, as General Butler correctly observed, war is a racket.  It is a way to make money for rich people at the expense of poor people.  And that is why wars will continue unless common people revolt to stop them. And we the people were able to stop wars before for example in Vietnam and in South Africa. It is this power of the people that I am most optimistic about.
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I am one of 12 million Palestinians in the world, 2/3rd of us are refugees or displaced people and the rest live under rule of a foreign government.  How did this come about and how can we stop this war on the people?
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Palestinians are the endogenous people of the Western Part of the Fertile Crescent in Western Asia.  Key milestones in human civilization occurred in this Land of Canaan: animal and plant domestication, development of the alphabet, and development of laws and religions.
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We had over 11,000 years of civilization with religious and cultural developments.  Short attempts to transform Palestine into one thing or another failed.  This included short lived attempts to make it all Christian or make it all Muslim or make it all Jewish.  The European crusades were a good examples of this. But for 97% of our history, Palestine remained mutli-religious and mutli-cultural.
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Since the late 19th century, the new political idea of Zionism was developed to create a “Jewish state” in Palestine. At that time less than 3% of the population in Palestine was Jewish. This Zionist colonization was aided by western countries notably England and more recently the USA.
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An organized and ruthless project to ethnically cleanse the native Palestinians was organized resulting in countless massacres and total destruction of 530 Palestinian villages and towns. It is still the largest refugee crisis after World War II. In that sense my grandmother is a hibakusha.
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Today 7 million Palestinians are refugees and five million of us still live on 8.3% of our historic land.  The state of Israel was built on the destruction of Palestine. Israel has 55 laws that specifically discriminate against native Palestinians. It fulfills the international legal definition of an apartheid (racial discrimination) state.
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Zionists like all other colonial imperial powers try to portray the victims as terrorists. European colonization always did that whether in the Americas or in Africa or in Asia.  It maybe convenient to say that we are white civilized people who “circle the wagons” to protect ourselves from native savages. But the truth is that colonization is violence and 10 times more native civilians are killed than invading people.
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I can tell you hundreds of stories of the brutality of occupation and colonization.  I can tell you about home demolitions, about removal of people from their land, about murders, and about torture. I can tell you about breaking bones of Palestinian children, about using white phosphorous on schools and about Israel’s nuclear weapons. I can tell you about toxic waste dumped on Palestinian villages. I can tell you about prisoners held for years without seeing lawyers or judges.I could tell you about friends I lost killed in peaceful demonstrations.  I could tell you my own family stories of suffering. But we do not have time.
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I will tell you that Palestinians resisted for the past 100 years this onslaught.  This Palestinian resistance took hundreds of forms, most of them unarmed. We had 13 uprisings, on average one every 10 years. South Africa under apartheid had a long struggle with 15 uprisings.
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We Palestinians have been innovative in our struggle.  We had the first demonstration in human history to use automobiles (cars) when in 1929 Palestinian women gathered 120 cars and drove down the old streets of Jerusalem. We lobbied the Ottoman Empire and the British empire to stop supporting colonialist Zionism. We engaged in tax revolts and other forms of civil disobedience.
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We also asked and still ask the international community to help us.  Tens of thousands joined our struggle. There is the International solidarity movement.  As in the struggle against apartheid in south Africa, there is also the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS).  We ask you to join us because this struggle is the most important.  It is important because it exposes clearly the hypocrisy of Western governments who speak of democracy and human rights but directly support racism, tyranny, war, and all violations of human rights.
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We share this one small blue planet and the era of nuclear weapons when a country like Israel could destroy the earth, we cannot afford to be complacent.  We must prove Haegel wrong when he wrote that “We learn from history that we do not learn from history.” We do learn from our common history and today in the age of the internet, we are beginning a global uprising against nuclear weapons and against war. When people power is finally realized through global solidarity, we can not only win over war but also over poverty and over climate change and over apathy/indifference.  That is really a future worth sacrificing for.
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The Budhists tell us to have “joyful participation in the sorrows of this world”.  Participation is the key.  So indeed may you all have  joyful participation in the sorrows of this world….  Arigatu, thank you, shukran, peace, salam.
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Also see THIS post from the Archives

IN PHOTOS ~~ 10,000 STRONG MARCH IN NEW YORK MARCH FOR GAZA’S CHILDREN

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The continuing slaughter of innocents in Gaza brought a crowd of what one police officer estimated to be 10,000 people into the streets of New York on Friday.  They met at the headquarters of CNN and then marched through the crowded theater district to the Fox News Building.  At both places they accused the corporate news entities of lying to the public and shouted “Shame!” repeatedly.  The crowd was mostly young, multi ethnic, sad, and very angry.  The tourists on the streets along Broadway looked astonished and fascinated.  They read the signs and explained what was happening to their children.  Some gave a thumbs-up and said they were glad to see people out protesting what was happening.  It seemed that very many of the demonstrators were young Palestinian Americans who felt a strong tie to the Palestinian people  struggling in Palestine and Israel and wanted to express strong feelings of solidarity with them  as well as protest the torment that Israel was inflicting.  Golda Meir is reputed to have said, in reference to the Palestinian people, the old will die and the young will forget.  Judging by who has been in the streets over the past 3 weeks, she couldn’t have been more wrong.  These young people know exactly who they are, what has happened to them, and they are not about to forget anything.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer … Commentary above by Chippy Dee

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WE CANNOT SAY
WE DID NOT KNOW

ONCE AGAIN IN SHOCK
ONCE AGAIN IN SORROW
ONCE AGAIN ENRAGED

We carry the names of the dead in Gaza.
In the name of decency we must act.

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Photo credit Laura Krasovitzky
 
On July 31, 2014, we gathered to mourn Palestinians killed in Gaza by Israeli military forces. We read some of their names aloud.  We marched silently from Bryant Park to the Israeli Consulate in New York City wearing names of those who were murdered.

The March of The Dead continues.

Some of us wore death masks to represent the massacre of civilian populations throughout Gaza. At the site of the Israeli Consulate
eight masked activists were arrested.

Actions around the world continue in solidarity
with the people of Palestine.

We will not be silent.

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Photo credit Bud Korotzer
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Photo credit Michael Nigro
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   Photo credit Belén Suárez

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Photo credit Len Tsou

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Photo credit Belén Suárez

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Photo credit Bud Korotzer

[] Photo credit Lisa Guido

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Photo credit Lisa Guido

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Photo credit Laura Krasovitzky

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Click here to view more photos. 

PHOTOS OF ‘DIE-IN’ AND MARCH FOR GAZA IN NEW YORK

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The demonstrators made a short tour of financial institutions in midtown Manhattan that are supporting Israeli policies financially and aiding in colonization.  The demonstrators stopped at 2 banks and walked through the diamond district where many were glad to have a heavy police escort since the business owners appeared to become
agitated and threatening.  In front of one of the banks 6 people performed an act of civil disobedience by having a die-in after spraying the bank and street with fake blood.  Using passive resistance, the police were forced to lift  and carry them to the police van to arrest them.
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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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The Die-In and arrests …
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And the march …
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In the afternoon several thousand people of every age, race, and ethnicity
converged on Times Sq. for a rally against the Gaza massacre.  Families came
with their flags, posters, and beautiful children.  After the rally everyone
marched across busy 42nd St. to the Israeli Consulate. They got considerable
support from people standing aside to watch the marchers pass.
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Diamond merchants seem to have a problem with the marchers … I guess zionism is their BEST FRIEND
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PHOTOS ~~ THOUSANDS PARICIPATE IN COALITION MARCH FOR PEACE IN NEW YORK

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The demonstration and march, organized by a coalition of groups supporting justice in Palestine, began at Foley Sq. where the names of children murdered in Gaza were read.  Some in the crowd of approximately 2,000 were weeping.  Led by the Rude Mechanical Orchestra the mile and 1/2 march weaving west through the busy streets of lower Manhattan to the shore of the Hudson began.  It was a noisy chanting group carrying Palestinian flags and signs demanding an end to the U.S. funding of Israel, an end to the occupation, and a cease to the slaughter by Israel in Gaza.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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Also see THIS report from the Forward

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Not in Our Name: New Yorkers rally against Israeli war in Gaza in lower Manhattan.

MARTYNA STAROSTA
Not in Our Name: New Yorkers rally against Israeli war in Gaza in lower Manhattan.

THE WAR IS MAKING ‘CRIMINALS’ OF ALL OF US

Jewish Activists Arrested in Sit in at Friends of Israel Defense Forces NYC Office

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Following is a letter I received this morning from The Jewish Voice of Peace

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Dear Steve,

Yesterday, I was part of a delegation of activists from Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews Say No! who took over the Friends of the IDF headquarters in New York.  Until we were arrested, we read the names and ages of the dead and sang songs of mourning, often with our voices breaking and tears rolling down our faces. We stood there for an hour, reading the names steadily, and still did not read them all.

As I was taken out in handcuffs to face a sea of about 30 police officers, I asked a staff member of the Friends of the IDF standing nearby, “Did you hear the names we read? Did you see that we read them for an hour and didn’t reach the end? Is this what you support? Are these the Jewish values you grew up with?”

As Jews, so many of us have been brought up on stories of our families’ lives hanging in the balance based on the courage of someone who had the choice to speak up or remain silent.

We are in that kind of moment now. And that is why I, and so many other people like me, are taking action. And why we need you to stand up with us.

Over 600 people in Gaza killed in the last three weeks. Thousands of homes destroyed, another 4,000 people wounded. US tax dollars have helped pay for that army, and Israel claims to act in the name of all the Jews the world over.

But you can do something about it. We all must do something about it.

Click here to send a message to President Obama and Congress demanding they withdraw support for Israel’s unacceptable, intolerable actions.

The glimmer of hope I have in these very dark days comes from you – our members, supporters, and allies who are standing up, all over the world.

In Washington, D.C., Jewish Voice for Peace members, alongside members of CodePink, interrupted a Christians United for Israel conference while Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer was speaking. Despite being violently attacked, they continued their protest.

In Boston, over a thousand people, JVP’ers and a large coalition of allied organizations rallied in front of the state house and blocked traffic for several hours.

In Chicago, five activists from JVP and AFSC were arrested protesting at Hewlett Packard, and in the Bay Area JVP’ers conducted a die-in at HP to protest its profiting from Israel’s war crimes. Seattle members did the same at Boeing.

I could go on and on:  protests in Ithaca; Portland, OR; Portland, ME; St. Louis, Jersey City. There are more places than I can count, and more to come.  Everywhere we—you—are getting our pro-peace, pro-justice, pro-equality message out. We are taking a stand.

All over the world, you’ve signed Open Letters, gone to rallies, contacted elected officials, written Letters to the Editor, shared educational materials, and dared difficult conversations with your family and friends.

But the attack continues. The siege continues. We’re going to have to continue to step it up.

I hope you’ll join us in action, as long as it takes. Click here for a listing of actions nationwide JVP is participating in.

It is our shared responsibility to end this bloodshed. And I know we can.

Sincerely,

Rebecca Vilkomerson
Executive Director

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And here you can see a debate between Ali Abunimah and J.J. Goldberg, editor-at-large and columnist at the newspaper The Jewish Daily Forward. The topic, needless to say is the war on Gaza …..

ANOTHER SANE JEWISH VOICE IN AN INSANE WORLD

This kneejerk labeling of critics of Israel as “anti-Semitic” (or in my case, a “self-hating Jew”) made me even more firm in my conviction that it was the special obligation of U.S. Jews to stand against racism in Israel. As more of us demanded equal rights for all in Israel/Palestine, it became harder to smear supporters of Palestine as “anti-Semitic.”

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Ellen Davidson (center) participates in a vigil for Palestinian rights. Photo: Carl Strock

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This Jew can’t support Israel

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Growing up in my Jewish family, it was a given that Jews supported civil rights, opposed the Vietnam War and believed in education, science and progress. This didn’t make it easy to be a teenager in a small working-class town in central Pennsylvania, an area not known for either diversity or liberal views at the time. Israel was a distant place where survivors of the brutal European Holocaust struggled to live in peace, occasionally beset by terrorists and attacking armies from the surrounding countries.

When I went to college, naturally, I became active in the late-1970s campus movement for divestment from South Africa. Somewhere along the line, I realized that Israel was the only country in the world that violated the international arms embargo on the apartheid state, and that Israel was on the wrong side of all the struggles for freedom and national liberation I supported, that it backed dictatorships in Guatemala, Chile, Brazil and elsewhere.

The more I learned about Israel, the more I realized that what I had been taught growing up was a lie. But I also discovered that, even in the progressive movements in the 1980s, the issue was contentious. I spent my twenties working at the Guardian radical newsweekly, a paper that staunchly supported Palestinian rights; periodically we would lose a significant segment of our readership due to our alleged “anti-Semitism,” and we would receive occasional bomb threats from the Jewish Defense League, a nasty organization whose members would physically attack participants in pro-Palestine demonstrations.

This kneejerk labeling of critics of Israel as “anti-Semitic” (or in my case, a “self-hating Jew”) made me even more firm in my conviction that it was the special obligation of U.S. Jews to stand against racism in Israel. As more of us demanded equal rights for all in Israel/Palestine, it became harder to smear supporters of Palestine as “anti-Semitic.” The needle on this debate has moved considerably since the 1980s, when just to say the word “Palestinian” was considered inflammatory, even in some left circles.

These days, as Israelis rampage through the streets of Jerusalem calling for killing all Arabs and Gaza is once again bombarded in a storm of collective punishment, the racist underpinnings of the Jewish state become harder to ignore. This is drawing larger numbers of people into pro-Palestinian protests on the streets of this country.

Indeed, at a July 13 vigil I attended in Woodstock, New York, there were many faces I had never seen before. But not everything has changed. A hostile group of tourists walked by and began berating us for our stance. “You should try talking to some Jews,” said one man. “We are Jews,” two of us answered simultaneously. “Then you’re fucked up,” he snapped.

In the past decade, I have made a point of traveling to Israel/Palestine, so that I can both show my solidarity in person and bring back firsthand accounts of the conditions in the occupied territories and within the formal borders of Israel. I have never encountered anything but warm welcome from the Palestinians I encountered.

When I return, every time I speak as a Jew of personally seeing demolished Palestinian houses, military checkpoints, the concrete wall separating communities from their farmland, the overcrowded refugee camps built as temporary solutions 60 years ago, I like to think that it widens the crack that has been opening up in the U.S. Jewish community, leaving just a little more space for honest discussion of what is being done in our name.

NEW YORKERS HONOUR THE MARTYRS OF GAZA ~~ IN PHOTOS

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Mock Funeral held for the victims …

We met in Bryant Park behind the 42nd St. library, read the names of the dead, and then began a silent walk, only the sound of a drum, across 42nd St to the Israeli Consulate on 2nd Ave. We carried signs, Palestinian flags, figures of people wrapped in white, and some wore blood stained shrouds.  People on the crowded streets stood aside and watched our long line pass.  Some took photos.  When we got to the consulate we chanted and after about an hour we went to the Egyptian Consulate and did the same there.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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ISRAEL TRIED TO DROWN THE HOPE OF GAZA

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One of the greatest sources of inspiration and hope in Gaza is the Gaza  Ark Project …. a constant threat to zion as they worked tirelessly to destroy it.

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However, it is now clear that Gaza’s Ark was deliberately targeted by Israel (for the second time). Israel is not worried about its security as it claims, what it is worried about and afraid of are peaceful projects like ours that expose its atrocities.

The good news is that no one was killed or injured in this attack as we had decided to pull the guard off the boat two days earlier, for his own safety.

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One of the participants of the project wrote the following FOR

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Why Did Israel Target Gaza’s Ark?

Ehab Lotayef*

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After being kidnapped from international waters, imprisoned in Israel, then deported for being on the Canadian boat to Gaza challenging Israel’s illegal blockage of the Gaza Strip in November 2011, I was only more determined to continue challenging that inhuman, unjustified and illegal blockade of a civilian population.

Throughout the months that followed myself and others put a lot of thought into how to continue challenging the blockade in a peaceful but effective manner. The naval challenges of the Israeli blockade of Gaza had started in 2008, before operation Cast Lead, the attack Israel launched against Gaza which left 1,400 dead in addition to the thousands injured. It continued throughout the years in the form of boats financed by civilians and NGOs worldwide and sailed from Cyprus, Greece and Turkey to Gaza.

After the first few missions reaching Gaza in 2008, Israel started fiercely attacking the boats and the activists on board. The violence Israel was showing reached new criminal heights on May 31, 2010, when it killed nince activists on the Mavi Marmara in cold blood. But as you can see, these murders did not stop our attempts to challenge the blockade.

In 2012 we decided to challenge the blockade in a new way. We decided to build a cargo ship inside Gaza using whatever resources were available and filling it with local products, purchased and paid for in advance by buyers all over the world. We planned to sail it out from Gaza — challenging the blockade from the inside out.

Gaza’s Ark had elements that other blockade-challenging efforts did not. Building a boat in Gaza created work opportunities in an area where unemployment is rampant due to the Israeli blockade. It gave the Palestinians in Gaza a a sense of empowerment by participating in the effort to challenge the blockade rather than wait for international boats to do so. It encouraged trade and manufacturing as international buyers ordered and paid for local products.

Above all, it totally disarmed Israeli claims that the blockade is for security reasons. If Israel would stop it from sailing what would be the rational? If Israel would stop the Ark, it would be exposed that the reason for the blockade is not security. How does a boat sailing out of Gaza threaten Israel’s security?

It seems Israel feared our peaceful plans supported and financed by thousands and thousands of normal individuals worldwide more than we expected or anticipated. On April 29 our boat, Gaza’s Ark, was subjected to a terrorist attack and nearly sunk in the port of Gaza just as we were finishing up construction.

But the boat did not sink. We pulled it to shore and started repairing it. Repairs were going well and we were projecting a September sailing date when the current Israeli attack on Gaza started.

Early morning on Friday, July 11, Gaza’s Ark received a direct hit by a shell fired from an Israeli navel vessel which badly damaged the boat and started a fire on board. The civil defense and fire brigades could not get to the boat to extinguish the fire quickly enough due to the continuous shelling of the port that night and the boat was completely destroyed.

The loss of Gaza’s Ark pales in comparison to the loss of life and injuries the people are facing in Gaza. If we can sacrifice a dozen boats to save one child’s life we would without hesitation. But Israel obviously thought Gaza’s Ark was very valuable and targeted it specifically.

Israel commits its atrocities hiding behind a smoke screen of lies and half truths, claiming always to be the victim. There is nothing as threatening to Israel as a peaceful project that will expose its lies. Thus it had to kill Gaza’s Ark.

We may build another boat. We may not and find other ways to challenge the blockade. Either way we will continue to work hard till the blockade of Gaza ends.

* Ehab Lotayef, a member of the Steering Committee of Gaza’s Ark and a spokes person for the project, is an IT engineer at McGill University in Montreal.

NEW YORKERS CONTINUE TO SHOW SUPPORT FOR GAZA ~~ IN PHOTOS

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As the bombings continue, so do the demonstrations for Peace in Gaza. Here at the UN Building yesterday, New Yorkers (mostly young Muslims) stand (and drive) for Justice in Palestine.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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And tomorrow in New York …

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Emergency Vigil & Flyering – Friday, July 11 6 PM @ Union Square

 

Click HERE to see photo gallery

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Also planned …

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In the words of our beloved friend and the martyr Vittorio Arrigoni:

“Stay human”
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