Be sure not to miss THIS Photo Essay posted yesterday
Sent by a reader, Vas.
With much appreciation.
Be sure not to miss THIS Photo Essay posted yesterday
Sent by a reader, Vas.
With much appreciation.
An attack dog released on unarmed Palestinians by Israeli security forces sank its teeth into the arm of a Palestinian man and refused to release it for several minutes.
Soldiers released an attack dog on unarmed Palestinians at a Friday anti-occupation demonstration in the West Bank village of Kufr Qaddoum, report eyewitnesses that include an AP photographer. According to a report from Jonathan Pollack, a political activist, Border Police officers released an army dog at a group of protesters who were standing several dozen meters away. The dog chased the protesters, then locked his jaw on the arm of one of them – Ahmad Shtawi – sinking his teeth into the man’s arm. The dog refused for several minutes to respond to his handler’s order to release Mr. Shtawi’s arm.
IDF attack dog refuses to release his grip on Ahmad Shtawi’s arm (photo: PSCC)
Although he was bleeding, in pain and in need of medical attention, soldiers decided to arrest Mr. Shtawi after the dog finally released his arm. When Morad Shtawi, a member of the village’s popular committee, tried to reason with the commanding officer and convince him to release the wounded man, he was thrown to the ground, handcuffed and pepper sprayed – as documented in the video below.
Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem has called several time for the Israeli army to stop using attack dogs on unarmed Palestinians. In February 2012 a 19 year-old Palestinian was attacked by an IDF dog; B’Tselem reported another five such incidents in 2011.
Israel is the only country in the Middle East that is safe for Christians, Israel’s ambassador to the United States Michael Oren wrote in an op-ed column for the Wall Street Journal on Friday, comparing what he said was the suppression of Christian communities in Arab states to the twentieth-century expulsion of Jews from these nations.
In his article, Oren cited the continuing violence against Egypt’s Coptic Christians, the burning of Iraqi churches, a Saudi ban on Christian worship and the desecration of the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank as instances indicating a threat to Christianity in the Muslim world, adding that conversion “to Christianity is a capital offense in Iran, where last month Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was sentenced to death.”
The Israeli official went on to compare what he called a sweeping action against Christian communities in the Arab world to the expulsion of 800,000 “from Arab countries, mostly following the Six-Day War.”
Ultimately, Oren concludes, the only place in the Middle East where Christians aren’t endangered, but are actually flourishing, is in Israel.
“Since Israel’s founding in 1948, its Christian communities (including Russian and Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Armenians and Protestants) have expanded more than 1,000%,” he added.
Oren concluded the article, in which he cites the exodus of Palestinian Christians from the West Bank and Gaza over increased pressure by Islamist groups such as Hamas, by syaing that the “extinction of the Middle East’s Christian communities is an injustice of historic magnitude.”
“Yet Israel provides an example of how this trend can not only be prevented but reversed. With the respect and appreciation that they receive in the Jewish state, the Christians of Muslim countries could not only survive but thrive,” Oren wrote.
And let’s not forget these attitudes…
Perhaps this Oren guy should take a daytrip to the illegal settlements (including Jerusalem) to see the reality he seems ignorant of.
Zionism’s cultural appropriation of indigenous Palestinian folklore and cuisine – such as hummus, falafel and maftoul – as “Israeli” has long irked Palestinians, especially when these same cultural products are used in international propaganda and marketing efforts which deny Palestinians’ rights and history.
Now, Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank are attempting to steal perhaps the most important symbol and source of economic sustenance for rural Palestinians: olive oil and olive culture.
A professionally made YouTube video released by the “Matteh Binyamin Regional Council” – an entity that represents dozens of illegal Israeli colonies in the occupied West Bank – aims to convince Israelis that Jewish settlers, not Palestinians, are the true caretakers of the region’s olive trees and the historic heirs of its olive culture.
The video is an example of the of the increasingly slick and sophisticated propaganda efforts being aimed at the Israeli population as well as the outside world.
Synoposis of the settler video
The title of the video is “The miracle of the oil canister and the plate of hummus,” an allusion to the Hannukah myth known as the “Miracle of the Oil.”
The action is a comedy sketch set in what appears to be a restaurant in a Palestinian town within Israel’s pre-1967 boundaries.
An Israeli is seated at a table eating hummus and olive oil. He is a caricature of a naive liberal and secular Israeli.
He finds the olive oil delicious and asks one of the two Arab waiters (the Arabs are also depicted in a stereotypical fashion as among other things deceptive) how the oil is made.
The Arab waiter tells how oil has been made for “thousands of years.” While he is speaking, the video cuts not to scenes of Palestinians harvesting olives and making oil, but rather to religious settlers wearing skullcaps doing it using modern technology.
The gag is that at the end: the Israeli diner finishes his meal thinking he ate delicious oil made by Palestinians. But then the two waiters go to the kitchen and have a joke about the fact that the oil is made by settlers and they serve it in their restaurant. They reveal the Hebrew label on the bottle which says “Binyamin Oil, Olive Oil, Fine cold-press.”
A reminder: Israel’s destruction of olive trees and olive culture
Israeli settlers and the Israeli state routinely destroy Palestinian olive trees, and the settlers regularly attack Palestinians attempting to care for their trees or harvest them as The Electronic Intifada has reported. B’Tselem has also documented and filmed the settlers’ regular attacks on Palestinian olive farmers.
But there’s nothing new in this. After Zionists expelled much of the Palestinian population from the country in 1948, they had to decide what to do with olive groves all over the country. As Meron Benvenisti recounts in his book Sacred Landscape (2000):
At first officials responsible for Jewish settlement thought that the production of olive oil might constitute a profitable venture, but it very quickly became clear that the Jewish agricultural sector was not set up to sustain this labor-intensive branch.Only a fraction of the olive groves were cared for and cultivated, whereas the vast majority were neglected. Tens of thousands of dunams of olive trees were uprooted to make room for field crops. (165)
It is in this historic and present-day context that the settlers are now claiming to care for the olive trees.
At the end of the video, the following messages appear:
To the mountains of Binyamin and Shomron, Hebrew farmers returned, to grow olive trees lovingly as per the traditions of their forefathers, which is thousands of years old.
The olive groves cover 3,000 dunams and the olive presses produce 500 tons of fine olive oil per year.
As mentioned, the video is “Presented by the Matteh Regional Council,” but toward the end, a logo appears for an online public relations firm called Rogatka. The company’s website states:
Our clients include the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the Likud, ‘Latma’ – media watchdog and satire, and others.
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs is a think tank for Israel’s military establishment and it was there that NGO Monitor, an extreme group that launches defamatory attacks on Israelis, Palestinians, Jews and others who criticize Israel, was founded.
Latma TV is a “satirical” web-based show, run by The Jerusalem Post’s Caroline Glick. But rather than producing satire, it disseminates Islamophobic and racist incitement,including a recent video that spread the lie of a Muslim “rape epidemic” in Norway.
And of course the Likud is the political party of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Rogatka, it would seem, is one of the key shops pumping out propaganda for Israel (Phan Nguyen has more about Rogatka and who is behind it, on Mondoweiss).
And here’s another interesting connection. One of Rogatka’s clients is the Adelson Center for Strategic Studies in Jerusalem, which was established with a $4.5 million gift from billionaire Sheldon Adelson.
Adelson was recently in the news for giving a campaign group linked to US Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich a $5 million gift, soon after Gingrich claimed the Palestinians are an “invented people.”
The goal of this particular video – aimed as it is at Israelis – is first to convince the local population that all of the olive trees, like the land, belonged always and only to Jews, perhaps before taking the same campaign internationally. In effect, it is part of a campaign to ‘un-invent’ the Palestinians, to destroy their culture and claim what’s left as “Jewish.”
With thanks to Dena Shunra for providing translation and contributing analysis.
A couple of reports remind us how settlers really feel about olive trees.
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich thrust himself into controversy on Friday by declaring that the Palestinians are an “invented” people who want to destroy Israel.
The former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives predictably sided with Israel in its decades-old dispute with the Palestinians but took it a step further in an interview with the Jewish Channel.
The cable station posted online its interview with Gingrich, who has risen to the top of Republican polls with voting to start early next year to pick a nominee to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama in the November 2012 election.
Gingrich differed with official U.S. policy that respects the Palestinians as a people deserving of their own state based on negotiations with Israel.
“Remember, there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire” until the early 20th century, Gingrich said.
“I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs, and who were historically part of the Arab community. And they had a chance to go many places, and for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940s, and it’s tragic,” he said.
Gingrich along with other Republican candidates are seeking to attract Jewish support by vowing to bolster U.S. ties with Israel if elected.
Gingrich said the Hamas militant group, which controls the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinians’ governing body, the Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank, represent “an enormous desire to destroy Israel.”
The U.S. government has sought to encourage the Palestinian Authority to negotiate with Israel but has labeled Hamas as a terrorist group.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has long forsworn violence against Israel as a means to secure an independent state, pinning his hopes first on negotiations and more recently on a unilateral bid for statehood via the United Nations.
Gingrich said he would be willing to consider granting clemency to Jonathan Jay Pollard, who has been serving a life prison term since 1987 for passing U.S. secrets to Israel. Successive U.S. presidents have refused Israeli entreaties to free him.
“If we can get to a point where I’m satisfied that there’s no national security threat, and if he’s in fact served within the range of people who’ve had a similar problem, then I’d be inclined to consider clemency,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich sharply criticized the Obama administration’s approach to Middle East diplomacy, saying it is “so out of touch with reality that it would be like taking your child to the zoo and explaining that a lion was a bunny rabbit.”
In the day of solidarity, let us remember that.
The students had gathered around an area that had earlier housed their tents. What an ominous threat to the community! Beware of students protesting in the quad instead of throwing a kegger party in a dorm!
The police had already removed the tents. All that remained of Occupy Davis was a banner hanging from a tree that read “Save Public Education.” How dare they call for such a radical agenda on a campus in the California University system? The students sitting across the campus walkway chanted the subversive line: “Don’t shoot students.” How is this a threat to riot-clad police?
Perhaps the really subversive, supposedly “threatening,” act was in the simple interlocking of their arms.
Last week The San Francisco Chronicle quoted UC Berkley Police Capt. Margo Bennett:
“The individuals who linked arms and actively resisted, that in itself is an act of violence. I understand that many students may not think that, but linking arms in a human chain when ordered to step aside is not a nonviolent protest.”
In fact, Captain Bennett thought that it was okay to use batons to push back the Berkeley crowd, so we shouldn’t be surprised that the UC Davis police took it one step further and used pepper-spray to pry apart those threatening arms.
In Berkeley and in Davis, the goal was to break up Occupy encampments. In Berkeley, the police were trying to get to tents. In Davis, the tents were already gone. In both cases one wonders what exactly is so threatening about students camping on the quad? What is so “violent” about sitting with arms joined together?
Wait … they might just learn something! But it’s a lesson plan not approved by the Board of Regents.
Apparently, it would be better to force them back into their frat houses and sorority houses so they can get drunk before returning to their corporate-funded classrooms on Monday morning. We can’t have them learning about the effects of corporate greed all weekend, out in the open air of the campus commons. That must be why they moved in at 5pm on a Friday afternoon. What would the town pubs do if the students were camping on the quad instead of doing shots ’til they passed out?
All kidding aside, the scary thing is some of my sarcasm is probably not far from the truth. But the real effect of Friday’s police action at UC Davis is that this coming Monday at noon the students will be back, likely in much larger numbers. The pepper-spray fired by the police on Friday further fanned the flames of the revolution. When will they learn the relationship between cause and effect?
Watch the end of this video if you have any doubts about the outcome.
Beginning with Occupy Wall Street in September 2011, a protest movement spread across the United States to 70 major cities and hundreds of other communities. Similar actions emerged in scores of other nations.
For the first two weeks, the corporate-owned mainstream media along with NPR did what they usually do with progressive protests: they ignored them. These were the same media that had given the Tea Party supporters saturation coverage for weeks on end, ordaining them “a major political force.”
The most common and effective mode of news repression is omission. By saying nothing or next to nothing about dissenting events, movements, candidates, or incidents, the media consign them to oblivion. When the Occupy movement spread across the country and could no longer be ignored, the media moved to the second manipulative method: trivialization and marginalization.
So we heard that the protestors were unclear about what they were protesting and they were “far removed from the mainstream.” Media cameras focused on the clown who danced on Wall Street in full-blown circus costume, and the youths who pounded bongo drums: “a carnival atmosphere” “youngsters out on a spree,” with “no connection to the millions of middle Americans” who supposedly watched with puzzlement and alarm.
Such coverage, again, was in sharp contrast to the respectful reportage accorded the Tea Party. House Majority Leader, the reactionary Republican Eric Cantor, described the Occupy movement as “growing mobs.” This is the same Cantor who hailed the Tea Party as an unexcelled affirmation of democracy.
The big November 2 demonstration in Oakland that succeeded in closing the port was reported by many media outlets, almost all of whom focused on the violence against property committed by a few small groups. Many of those perpetrators were appearing for the first time at the Oakland site. Some were suspected of being undercover police provocateurs. Their actions seemed timed to overshadow the successful shutdown of the nation’s fourth largest port.
Time and again, the media made the protestors the issue rather than the things they were protesting. The occupiers were falsely described as hippie holdovers and mindless youthful activists. In fact, there was a wide range of ages, socio-ethnic backgrounds, and lifestyles, from homeless to well-paid professionals, along with substantial numbers of labor union members. Far from being a jumble of confused loudmouths prone to violence, they held general assemblies, organized themselves into committees, and systematically took care of encampment questions, food, security, and sanitation.
One unnoticed community protest was Occupy Walnut Creek. For those who don’t know, Walnut Creek is a comfortable conservative suburb in northern California (with no known record of revolutionary insurrections). Only one local TV station gave Occupy Walnut Creek brief attention, noting that about 400 people were participating, average age between 40 and 50, no clowns, no bongos. Participants admitted that they lived fairly prosperous lives but still felt a kinship with the millions of Americans who were enduring an economic battering. Here was a contingent of affluent but rebellious “middle Americans” yet Walnut Creek never got mentioned in the national media, as far as I know.
The Occupy movement has promulgated a variety of messages. With a daring plunge into class realities, the occupiers talk of the 1% who are exploiting the 99%, a brilliant propaganda formula, simple to use, yet saying so much, now widely embraced even by some media commentators. The protestors carried signs condemning the republic’s terrible underemployment and the empire’s endless wars, the environmental abuses perpetrated by giant corporations, the tax loopholes enjoyed by oil companies, the growing inequality of incomes, and the banksters and other gangsters who feed so lavishly from the public trough.
Some occupiers even denounced capitalism as a system and hailed socialism as a humane alternative. In all, the Occupy movement revealed an awareness of systemic politico-economic injustices not usually seen in U.S. protests. Remember, the initial and prime target was Wall Street, finance capital’s home base.
The mainstream news outlets not only control opinions but even more so opinion visibility, which in turn allows them to limit the parameters of public discourse. This makes it all the more imperative for ordinary people to join together in demonstrations, hoping thereby to maximize the visibility and impact of their opinions. The goal is to break through the near monopoly of conservative orthodoxy maintained by the “liberal” media.
So demonstrations are important. They have an energizing effect on would-be protestors, bringing together many who previously had thought themselves alone and voiceless. Demonstrations bring democracy into the streets. They highlight issues that have too long been buried. They mobilize numbers, giving a show of strength, reminding the plutocracy perched at the apex that the pyramid is rumbling.
But demonstrations should evolve into other forms of action. This has already been happening with the Occupy movement. It is more than a demonstration because its protestors did not go home at the end of the day. In substantial numbers they remained downtown, putting their bodies on the line, imposing a discomfort on officialdom just by their numbers and presence.
At a number of Occupy sites there have been civil disobedience actions, followed by arrests. In various cities the police have been unleashed with violent results that sometimes have backfired. In Oakland ex-Marine Scott Olsen was hit by a police teargas canister that busted his skull and left him hospitalized and unable to speak for a week. At best, he faces a long slow recovery. The day after Olsen was hit, hundreds of indignant new protestors joined the Occupy Oakland site. Police brutality incites a public reaction, often bringing more people out, just the opposite of what officials want.
Where does this movement go? What is to be done? The answers are already arising from the actions of the 99%:
We need to explicitly invite the African-American, Latino, and Asian communities into the fight, reminding everyone that the Great Recession victimizes everyone but comes down especially hard on the ethnic poor.
We need to educate ourselves regarding the beneficial realities of publicly owned nonprofit utilities, publicly directed environmental protections, public nonprofit medical services and hospitals, public libraries, schools, colleges, housing, and transportation–all those things that work so well in better known in some quarters as socialism.
There is much to do. Still it is rather impressive how the battle is already being waged on so many fronts. Meanwhile the corporate media ignore the content of our protest while continuing to fulminate about the occupiers’ violent ways and lack of a precise agenda.
Do not for one moment think that the top policymakers and plutocrats don’t care what you think. That is the only thing about you that wins their concern. They don’t care about the quality of the air you breathe or the water you drink, or how happy or unhappy or stressed and unhealthy or poor you might be. But they do want to know your thoughts about public affairs, if only to get a handle on your mind. Every day they launch waves of disinformation to bloat your brains, from the Pentagon to Fox News without stint.
When the people liberate their own minds and take a hard clear look at what the 1% is doing and what the 99% should be doing, then serious stuff begins to happen. It is already happening. It may eventually fade away or it may create a new chapter in our history. Even if it does not achieve its major goals, the Occupy movement has already registered upon our rulers the anger and unhappiness of a populace betrayed.
Musicians David Crosby and Graham Nash discuss their impressions of the Occupy Wall Street movement with Keith. The duo also performs an original song a cappella.
“Keep Going! Keep Going! Keep Going!”
Graham Nash and David Crosby sing to protesters in Zuccotti Park today, “Teach Your Children Well”
I knew a ton of friends and family were gonna watch and probably repost, but I had no idea this would get picked up so fast by so many sites. Just wanna plughttp://occupywallst.org and if anyone is hating on what’s going on down there, then I doubt they’ve bothered to actually talk to anyone, or more importantly LISTEN.
Thank you to everyone who can stay down there and hold down the fort for all of us who have jobs and families to keep warm and fed each night. That’s all for now. OCCUPY [YOUR TOWN HERE].
The Occupy Wall Street protests have drawn their share of musical supporters over the past few weeks. On Friday night, Pete Seeger lent his voice to the cause, though the protesters had to go uptown to hear it.
Mr. Seeger, whose activist credentials go back at least as far as a benefit concert that he and Woody Guthrie did for California migrant workers in 1940 and who wrote or helped write populist ballads like like “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” and “If I Had a Hammer,” had been performing at Symphony Space at Broadway and 95th Street with Arlo Guthrie, Woody Guthrie’s son, and others.
About 11 p.m., Mr. Seeger, 92, emerged from Symphony Space wearing a red knit cap and carrying two canes. He then set off south, walking at a brisk pace and accompanied by a crowd of about 600, some of them carrying placards declaring support for the self-declared 99 percent that have been occupying Zuccotti Park for five weeks.
The crowd sang as they marched in the October chill, their voices swelling softly and carrying words to songs Mr. Seeger helped popularize, including “Down by the Riverside,” and “We Shall Not Be Moved.”
“He’s a symbol of the peace movement,” said one of the marchers, Larry Manzino, a retired research scientist from Piscataway, N.J. “He’s a guy who never caved, a guy who had integrity, a guy who stood up and said no when he had to.”
Police officers on foot and in vans traveled with the march. People peered out at the crowd from storefronts. At West 79th Street, a man silhouetted in the lighted window of an apartment gave a thumbs up to the marchers below. The crowd began singing Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.”
T.J. Frawls, from Harlem, who said he was in an “apocalyptic punk metal band” called Universal Truth Machine marched along, strumming a guitar.
Despite the difference in their preferred genres, he said he was thrilled to be performing — sort of — with Mr. Seeger.
“He’s an icon of folk music, the people’s music.” Mr. Frawls said.
Shortly before 1 a.m. the crowd streamed into the center of Columbus Circle. There, surrounded by gushing fountains, musicians that included Arlo Guthrie, Tom Chapin and David Amram, joined Mr. Seeger on the base of the Christopher Columbus monument.
The crowd quieted. Guitars began strumming as Mr. Seeger began singing “We Shall Overcome,” a song that he introduced to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Occupation of Wall St. continues to grow in numbers, activities, and spirit. Last night there was a parent-toddler sleep-over in a padded and secure section of Zuccotti Park. Toddlers with decorated faces, dressed warmly against the chill, and munching bananas, raisins, and Oreos got ready to settle for the night with a combination of curiosity and excitement. Meanwhile, a large group of Verizon workers, prepared for a looming strike, marched past the park as occupiers joined them en route to a Verizon facility where they rallied.
Life in the park has taken on all the aspects of a thriving community. There are concerts, religious services, a newspaper is published, there’s a library, food, and rudimentary medical care is given. Decisions are made at daily assemblies where all are encouraged to speak and vote.
The evening ended on New York’s Upper West Side where a group of occupiers met the people leaving a Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Clearwater folk concert and all, including Pete, now 92 years old, and Arlo, marched to Columbus Circle about 2 miles away. Singing all the way, when they reached their destination, about 1,000 strong, they sang a number of songs, some dating back to the struggle for civil rights such as “We Shall Overcome” thereby linking the struggles of the past with the one going on now for democracy and economic justice.
More Photos can be seen in THIS presentation from the New York Times
(They finally found some news that was ‘fit to print’)